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Posted on: September 20, 2008 12:42 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2008 12:46 pm
 

Was Freddi's Job Saved by Winning Streak?

We Bad News Bears! This was the motto of the 2007 Florida Marlins. Loss after loss piled up, mainly because of bad

pitching, which caused pitching coach Rick Kranitz to be let go, and they finished off the year with a 71-91 record.

Last place in the NL East, even behind the Washington Nationals.

So as anyone in their right mind would guess, the expectations coming into the 2008 season were pretty bad.

Some "experts" predicted 60 wins , some 70, but it didn't go any higher than that. The Marlins had the same

nucleus from the previous season, so there was no reason to believe that they were going to be any better.

What the experts failed to realize, though, was that this was a young roster,

and they were going to be 1 year older this year, so they would be more mature. The team also brought

in veteran leader Luis Gonzales

which helped in giving advice to the young players and by being a "clubhouse prescence".

The season started against division rivals New York Mets. Former NBA Player Mark Hendrickson was

 given the start, and the game did not go well for the Marlins. The Mets won easily.

But after that opening series, the Marlins started racking up a lot of wins, and finished

off May by leading the NL East by 1/2 game and with a 31-23 record. This was one of the

best starts in franchise history, and though

some "experts" were saying it was too early to tell if the Marlins were for real, expectations

 were rising and some fans started thinking playoffs. The Marlins spent the next 2 months battling

between 1st and 2nd in the division. And by the end of July, playoffs started looking like a reality.

But in the month of August, the Marlins started slumping, blowing leads, not scoring runs, and just

losing heartbreaker after heartbreaker. The Marlins went down to .500 for the first time in awhile,

and they were about 10 games back in their division, and even farther down in the Wild Card

race. Pressure was turning on manager Freddi Gonzales, and many people, including myself, thought that

he might be fired at the end of the season for the late season slump.

But you know? These are the Marlins! Anything could happen.

And in the middle of September, the Marlins started a short winning streak, about

3 games, something they hadn't been able to do in

awhile. And to help the cause, the teams they were trailing, the Mets and Brewers started slumping.

The Brewers even fired their manager Ned Yost.

Unexpectedly, the winning streak started getting stronger, and Marlins fans and players duddenly

started "scoreboard watching", and after their opponents kept losing, the Marlins are now 4.5 games

back in the wildcard race and 5 games back in the Division. But whatever happens, with this winning

streak, Freddi Gonzalez's job has probably been saved. He has brought excitement at this point

of the season for the first time since '05 when the Marlins were in the other end of a streak.

So unless Freddi Gonzales starts cursing at Jeffrey Loria from the end of the dugout, he will stay,

and hopefully bring a championship to Miami this season
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Category: MLB
Posted on: January 25, 2008 7:00 pm
 

The SoFla Sports Fan Rant

Marlins, Heat, Panthers, Dolphins, Hurricanes, whatever team you can think of in South Florida, its been struggling lately. Bad ownership, bad coaches, bad managment, bad players, whatever the reason, no team seems to be going in the right direction.

Lets start off with baseball, the Florida Marlins. Established in 1993. Two playoff appearences. Two championships. The other 12 years: huge disappointment. What is the reason? Mainly bad ownership and the inability to get a new stadium built. The owner of the Florida Marlins is Jeffrey Loria. Since hes been owner, the Marlins have had one of the lowest payrolls in the league, if not the lowest, every single year. He gets young players, they turn out to be championship caliber, they win it all, and BOOM! FIRESALE! Since hes been the owner, thats how its been. Right now, the Marlins have one of the youngest rosters in the league after trading stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit. It doesent look like they'll make the playoffs this year. Also, the stadium problem. Ever since the ingression of the Marlins into Major League Baseball, they have been playing in Dolphins Stadium. Instead of seats facing home plate, theyre facing the middle of the field, it has huge dimensions, and it doesent have a baseball like atmosphere. Jeffrey Loria has been unwilling to spend any money until a stadium deal gets done which would push relocation out of question. Theres still no stadium, so still no money being spent. Right now, it looks like a deal will be made in the next 2 months, and the stadium will be ready by 2010, 2011. Still, the franchise is going nowhere.

Then come the Miami Dolphins. As of 1/25/08, the only team that has gone undefeated in the regular season, and the playoffs. Right now though, the Dolphins dont wanna win the Super Bowl, or even make the playoffs. All they want is to win more than one game the entire season. The Dolphins are one of the most storied franchises in NFL History, having won 2 Super Bowls, having 9 Hall of Famers, and 3 retired numbers, but they havent made the playoffs since 2001. A lot has happened since then. And it doesent seem like a return to the playoffs is coming any time soon. Horrible drafting, too many coaching staff hiring and firings, and lack of heart coming off of players. It seems like ever since the Dolphins left the Orange Bowl, theyve been cursed. And right now, its just painfull to watch this team play.

Then come the Miami Hurricanes. Theyve always been a powerhouse in football, but the last couple of seasons have been some to remember. Miami is the winningest program of the last quarter century, having won 5 National Championships, the last in 2001. But in 2005, when they joined the ACC, a decline started. Kyle Wright took over as QB. He was rated as one of the best College Recruits in the country, but he heavely dissapointed. The season started off with an astonoshing loss against archrival Florida State, as the Hurricanes holder bobbled the potential tying kick as time winded down. They went on to face LSU in the Peach Bowl, but got blowned out.The year after, another astonishing loss to Florida State, also because of a field goal. Then a brawl against FIU, and the assasination of Bryan Pata. The team was down, and it showed. Larry Coker quit, and Miami won in the MPC Computer Bowl against Nevada, by the minimum difference. Randy Shannon took over, Miami finally beat FSU, but had a losing record, and failed to make a bowl game for the first time since 1997. But, at least Miami has some good recruits coming. Northwestern High School, the #1 rated High School Team in the nation, has their 6 best players commited to the U, with 4 of them already enrolled in classes. One of these is a QB, which the Hurricanes have been desperately needing. Hopefully better times are coming.

So we switch over to the team that plays in the Bank Atlantic Center, the Florida Panthers. They havent made the playoffs since 2000. The team has always had a few super stars in the team, including Pavel Bure, Scott Mellanby, Roberto Luongo, Robert Svehla, and Olli Jokinen, among others. But they just never had what it takes to win the cup. The first playoff appearence was back in 1996, when the Panthers made the Stanley Cup but were swept out by the Colorado Avalanche in the classical Year of the Rat, when fans threw rats on the ice after a goal. This started when in the locker room, Scott Mellanby saw a rat, one timed it into the wall, killed it, and scored 2 goals later that night, which was later referred to as: "The Rat Trick". The team has had a history of making trades with the Vancouver Canucks, positive and negative ones. In 1999, they acquired Pavel Bure, reuniting him with his brother Valeri. He helped the team a lot during his years here. But in June 23, 2006, Florida returned the favor, with Mike Keenan trading Luongo and Kracijek for Todd Bertuzzi, Alex Auld, and Bryan Allen. Only Allen is still here. Keenan quit shortly after. The Panthers acquired Tomas Vokoun from the Preds the following offseason. So there was supposed to be hope this season with a young, but maturing roster feauturing Jokinen, Horton, Weiss, Vokoun, and Bouwmeester, but it hasnt turned out that way. The Panthers are well within reach of a division title, but havent played their best, having a losing record at home, and losing many games towards the end. Many times, the team seems like its playing with no heart. Either everyone shows up for the game, or noone shows up, except one or two players, which isnt enough.

Then come the Miami Heat. Less than two years removed from an NBA championship, theyre on the midst of a 15 game losing streak. When Riley arrived in Miami, he quickly brought in great players, including Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning, Thunder Dan, and P.J. Brown. He then took the Heat to the Eastern Conference Championship and made the Heat a team to fear.
But then something major happened. Alonzo Mourning announced his retirement for that season because of kidney problems. The Heat then had to rebuild. No problem. Very nice drafting, including the Butler duo, Caron and Rasual. Riley then stepped down as coach and concentrated only on making deals. He signed Lamar Odom, and Udonis Haslem. Also, he drafted Dwyane Wade. The Heat were back in the playoffs. Shaquille O'Neal then came over. He lead the Heat alongside Flash to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose in the final minute of Game 7 to the Pistons. Riley pretty much cleaned the house, and brough some other guys in the biggest trade in NBA history, including Jason Williams, James Posey, and Antoine Walker. Pat came back to the bench. Next season, the Heat got by the Pistons to make the NBA Finals, and after trailing 2-0 in the series against Dallas, Miami rebounded to win the next 4 and the title. The next season, the Heat got swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Bulls. The Heat also had trouble in the salary cap, so they could not pursue Eddie Jones, Jason Kapono, James Posey, among others. They also traded Walker and others for Ricky Davis and Mark Blount. And added pretty much noone else. Wade started the season on the bench with a knee and shoulder injury.. Shaq has been injured a lot. And for the last 15 games, the Heat have found a way to lose in every single game. Theyve only gotten blown out in 2 of these games, theyve been in every game, even had the lead various times, but night in and night out, theyve found a way to lose. Its incredible, they havent won since last year. And that was on a buzzer shot.

So after reading all of this, you must understand how tough it is to be a South Florida Sports Fan, especially if youre a fan of every single one of these teams. Not just a casual fan, but a diehard fan. So you snowbirds in Boston, Detroit, wherever you are, you are lucky, because it is just painful watching your team lose pretty much every game, whatever the sport. But no matter what, Ill be a fan of every single of these teams forever.

Posted on: January 15, 2008 5:24 pm
 

Miami Hurricanes "A 3 Sports School?"

As everyone knows, Miami has a great tradition of winning in football and in baseball. Many national titles in Football, with an incredible tradition, and many College World Series runs in baseball. But could they become a 3 sport school?

Well, my belief in the 'Canes,started last year when we upset Maryland in the ACC Tourney. We didnt even make the NIT that season and we were last in the ACC, but I knew something good was gonna happen to this team. Frank Haith is one special coach. Since hes from North Carolina, hes recruited some of our best players from there. Mc Clinton, Graham, and others. Also, when one guy has an off night, the rest step up. At least that's happened 14 out of 15 times this season.

At the beggining of the season, the " experts" picked us once again to finish last in the ACC, which is no shame. But as the first couple of games rolled in, I could see how good this team was. When we won the Puerto Rico Tipoff Challenge, beating teams like VCU and Providence, I had some hope, and you could see the chemistry on this team. They were on their feet in the bench the whole game, and they didnt care if they played or not, they just wanted to win.

Then, we played Mississippi State, which was supposed to be our first big test. We dominated the whole game and we rolled in to the Top 25 rankings as #22. We won a couple more games against weak teams and moves to #19.

And then the turning point came. We were off to face under .500 Winthrop, in our home away from home, the Bank Atlantic Center, about an hour away from Coral Gables. Mc Clinton, our star player, played a pretty good game, but made some errors towards the end, and noone else stepped up, and we lost a crucial game which knocked us out of the top 25.

We beat another weak team and we rolled back in as #25, where we are now. And that was the end of our Non Conference Schedule, which many people called weak. We bit almost every team we were supposed to beat, which many "quality" teams didnt do.

And then our Conference Schedule Started. As everyone knows, the ACC is one of the hardest conferences to play at, if not the hardest conference. We were to face Georgia Tech first. Last year, they were a great team, but lost many guys to the NBA. Early on in the game, they went on a run, while Miami shot terribly. But a couple of technichal fouls and 3 point plays turned the game around for Miami, which went into a run of their own. They ended up winning the game, with Dews shooting lights out, McClinton making lots of free throws, Graham, King, shot great from inside, and Miami ended up winning the game confortably by 10 in front of a packed Bank United Center.

So am I saying Miami will beat North Carolina, Duke, and win the National Championship? No, but they should contend, and I would not be surprised if they make the Big Dance in San Antonio. Last in the ACC? Defenetely not.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Hurricanes
 
Posted on: January 15, 2008 5:23 pm
 

Esteban Batista "A Quick Rise into the Spotlight"

Esteban Damián Batista Hernández was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. Later on, he moved to Playa Pascual, 60 km west of Montevideo. Like any Uruguayan, Esteban grew up playing soccer, on the beach and on the street, anywhere he could.

One sunny day in 2000, while Batista was returning to Montevideo by bus, the eyes of a Club Welcome fan lit up. He couldnt believe it. He was looking at a giant he hoped someday would play for his team. So the fan approached the giant if he played basketball professionally, and surprisingly, Batista responded that he never played basketball at all. Shortly after, he received an invitation to try out for the team.


In his first season playing at Welcome, he averaged 2.1 points in 23 games. More importantly, his team was second in the league. The next season, he averaged 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 22 games. His team was again second.

But his 3rd season was his breakout season. He decided to start playing up north for Salto, in the north of Uruguay. While playing for them, he averaged 16.4 points in 28 games. His team was also 3rd in a South American Tournament. All of this caught the eye of many scouts. One of Europe's giants, Real Madrid, signed him later on that year. They then sent him on a loan to Pozuelo, also in Spain, where he averaged 8.9 points, and 7.4 rebounds in 23 games. Later on that year, he participated on the Olympic Qualifiers with Uruguay where his team manager a weak 9th place. In the 4 games he played, he averaged 1.5 points, and 1.2 rebounds, mostly because he only played 35 minutes total.

As 2004 rolled around, Batista decided to go back home and he played for Trouville, in Montevideo. In 40 games, he averaged 20 points, and 15 rebounds. In a South American Tournament, in group play, his team went (2-1). He then went to play in Chile. Later on that year, he went with Uruguay to play in the South American Tournament of Nations, where his team got an impressive 4th place.

For 2005, he decided to try another stint in Spain which proved to be very effective. He went to play for LEB. In 8 games, he averaged an impressive 10.6 points, and 5.5 rebounds. Then, he went with the National Team to compete in the FIBA Americas Championship. His team got a dissapointing 8th place. This meant that Uruguay wasnt going to the World Cup in Japan, but Batista had many individual records. He averaged a tournament best 15.6 rebounds. He was also the 9th leading scorer, in a tournament with players of the likes of Dwyane Wade, LeBron, Carmelo, and many other NBA Superstars.

The biggest break of his career came on September 12th, just 10 days after his birthday. He signed with the Atlanta Hawks on a free agent deal. Golden State was also trying to pursue him, but because of playing time promises, he signed with Atlanta. Unfortuantley, that promise was not kept. On November 2nd, Batista made his NBA Debut, playing 6 minutes against the Golden State Warriors. In his two years in Atlanta, Batista played in 70 games, averaging 8 minutes/game. He managed 1.7 points/game and 2.5 rebounds/game.

During the summer, he played with his National Team in the Panamerican Games and the FIBA Americas Championships. In the Panamerican Names, he guided his team to 3rd place, including a win against Argentina in the semifinals. In the FIBA Americas Championships, he again led the tournament in rebounding with 12.4 rebounds/game. He was also one of the top scorers with 20.8 points/game. And this tourney included Jason Kidd, Carmelo, LeBron and other great players, including many NBA players. He even played against Team USA and managed to keep Uruguay winning for most of the 1st quarter and kept Uruguay in the game the entire game. Noone else managed to do that in the entire tournament.

After the 2006-2007 season, he decided to try with another NBA team. In his list of candidates he had the Bobcats, Pacers, Cavaliers, and Boston. After initially saying Boston was out of the running, he signed with Boston. He worked with them in training camp, and played one preseason game. In it, he played 16 minutes, and scored 7 points, had 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Most people would think this is enough to make a team, but Doc Rivers and managment did not. They decided to waive him.

Later on, he signed with Macabi Elite Tel Aviv in Israel. In the recent years, they won the Euro League two times in a row. There, hes been a key player so far, and has helped his team arrive at 3rd place out of 8 teams in their EuroLeague group and also has them in great shape in the Israeli Cup. Hopefully hell be back in the NBA soon.
Batista stands at 6 foot 10(2.08 meters) and weighs 268 lbs(121.6 kg)

So who could use him? I think the Miami Heat. Shaquille O'Neal is retiring soon, and Miami needs a capable Center, not backup material like they have now. Batista showed he could play in the NBA various times so the Heat should give him a shot. They got nothing to lose

Category: NBA
Tags: Celtics, Hawks, Heat
 
Posted on: January 15, 2008 5:20 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2008 5:21 pm
 

2011 All Star Game in Miami?

Well, as you all probably know, this year's all star game is in the Big Easy. Next years is in Phoenix. And in 2010 its in Toronto. So why not in 2011, Miami?

Back in 1990, there was an All Star Game down here. But it was in the Miami Arena, a horrific arena. Then, we built the American Airlines Arena, unaguabley one of the premiere arenas in the NBA. Plus, in 1990, a lot of us were too young to remember or werent even alive yet.


Memphis, Portland, and Sacramento, are the only NBA cities that havent hosted an All Star Game yet. But their arenas are not as nice as ours. And all those cities, either theres not that many people there, or just many people dont visit them. In Miami, theres lots of Turists, so that could make the festivities get more people.

Plus, there was the '03 NHL All Star Game and the Super Bowl last year, and they both had great succes. Even the Marlins World Series sold out in a 70,000 people stadium. So why not Miami? Hopefully Stern considers it.

Category: NBA
Tags: Heat
 
Posted on: January 15, 2008 5:18 pm
 

Bring MLS Soccer Back to SoFla

Miami(the entire SoFla area) needs to be considered for MLS expansion now! The Orange Bowl and Lockart Stadium are the places everyone thinks of when you think about soccer in South Florida, but El Nuevo Orange Bowl might be the future place of pro soccer for South Florida.

As some of you know, the Miami Hurricanes football team is leaving the Orange Bowl. They already played their last game there. So before you know it, the stadium is going to be demolished. This opens room for the proposed retractable roof stadium the Florida Marlins have been looking for since the beggining of their existence.

The Marlins wanna build a 35,000 people, retractable roof stadium. But to help pay off the debt, including a proposed 6,000 cars garage. To help pay for this, a lot of people want to construct a 25,000 people soccer only stadium. And it looks like its gonna happen. Voting for the Marlins stadium is on Jan. 10. With this, the possibility of a soccer stadium will increase greatly. What could the stadium bring here? Well, not only could it help to bring an MLS team by 2011, but it could also bring US Soccer qualifying to South Florida. Why does Miami need an MLS Team? Heres why.

The Fusion used to play in South Florida, but they didnt have a good venue. Dolphins Stadium is gonna be state of the art, Im telling you. Also, the Fusion left around 2002, not sure when exactly, but it was around that time. Starting in 2002, there has been such a huge South Florida immingration wave. Argentineans, Venezuelans, Brazilians, Colombians, Uruguayans, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, and lots of people from other soccer countries have comed to South Florida in millions, I think since then. So, this team would get supported very heavely with tons of avid fans.

Sure, most fans like to support their hometown teams, but it is always nice to be at a soccer atmosphere at the stadium and watch a game live. As a South American who loves soccer, I certainly miss going to Estadio Centenario in Uruguay to watch Penarol a lot. And with the MLS growing so much, the MLS is considering expansion really heavely. Theres been at least 1 expansion team per year for the last few years. So why not South Florida?

Category: Soccer
Tags: Miami
 
Posted on: January 15, 2008 5:17 pm
 

Alonzo Mourning

Alonzo Mourning had a tough childhood. After his parents divorce, Alonzo chose to go live with a foster mom. He worked really hard at school while playing basketball. He ended up getting a real high SAT score while guiding Indian River High School to a state title. There was a lot of hype about him. So he ended up going to Georgetown.

In 1992, he was drafted behing now teamate Shaquille O'neal second overall by the Charlotte Hornets. That year, he ended up being second in the rookie of the year voting behind Shaq. Zo loved the city of Charlotte, and the Hornets were trying to re sing him, they offered him an offer many players wouldnt refuse. He didnt accept it, so the Heat signed him.

Then, Zo was diagnosed with a kidney disease. His NBA playing activity became limited and after a year got shot down. He needed a kidney transplant, and his grandma was really ill . So as a joke, his cousin tried to see if he could give Zo a kidney transplant. They hadnt seen each other in 25 years, and he only knew him through basketball. Then, on the day of their grandmother's funeral, Alonzo found out that his cousin was a match. He received the kidney transplant. He needed a little rehab anyways. Alonzo had signed as a free agent with the Nets in 2003, but had retired because of the kidney problems. So he started practicing with the Nets in '04.

During the '05 season, he started playing for them, but asked for a trade. Then, as many of you know, the Nets aquiered Vince Carter. Alonzo was part of the deal. But Toronto wasnt the answer Zo was looking for. So he didnt report to Toronto and was bought out of his contract. A few days later, he signed with the Miami Heat. Fans in Miami loved Alonzo, so on his first game with the Heat, fans at the American Airlines Arena started chanting, We Want Zo!,We Want Zo!,We Want Zo! to then coach Stan Van Gundy. So when Mourning got ready to check in, it was one of the loudest moments of the year at the AAA. That year, Alonzo helped the Heat acheive the Eastern Conference Finals. But he was hungry for a championship. So he returned for one more year. He got a lot of playing time early in the year because Shaq got injured in the 2nd game of the season. And that year, he finally won the championship. He was a big part of the game 6 victory getting a few important blocked shots.

And now, he is coming back for his final season in '08. When he smiles and watch pictures of the championship ceremony, you cant do anything but feel emotional. As a person who had kidney problems since they were born, I feel identified with this guy and hes my heroe. Lets go Heat!

Category: NBA
Tags: Heat
 
Posted on: January 15, 2008 5:16 pm
 

My First NBA Game

Since I was little boy in Uruguay, I always went to watch basketball games with my family on a court that was really beat up. But when I moved to the US, I always dreamed of going to an NBA game. And during the 04-05 season, my dream came true. First, I had moved to Orlando. I had to go through the 19 game losing streak to start the season while following the Magic. I wasnt much of a fan, but I folowed them.

But then I moved to Miami. A week after I move, the Heat trade for Shaquille O'neal. Dwyane Wade had just had an amazing season, so I was really pumped up. The season started, and I started to become a die hard fan. I read about American Airlines Arena a lot. I knew that place like the palm of my hand before even visiting it. And in December, my cousins come to visit my family. They want to go to an NBA game.

They choose February 16th, 2005 against the Clippers. We buy tickets. Pick up my dad from work, and take I-95 down to Downtown Miami. I had my Heat jersey, cap, and other gear on. We park at a garage nearby the AAA, and start walking, and thats when it all started. You could already feel the NBA atmosphere. People screaming, cheering, and trash talking. Scalpers trying to sell tickets, and other stuff I cant remember. Then, were inside the arena. We get our gameday magazile and wait paitently in our 400 level seats. We didnt have to wait that long but it seemed forever. It was really 2 minutes. Shaq wins the tipoff, and the Heat were on their way.

The game was never really a game. The Heat jumped up to an early lead and never looked back. But it still was an unforgettable day. I lost my voice, and I got sick(it happens always after I go to a sporting event except the Florida Panthers Hockey Team for some reason). One month later, my dad opened up a Bank United checking account, and we got 2 free tickets to the first Shaq vs Kobe matchup in Miami for free. My friend came and his dad bought similar seats for $75 each for some reason. So we went again. But the first game, is the first game, and I will never forget that day. So lets go Heat!

Category: NBA
Tags: Heat
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com