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September 30, 2011

Rain delays at Yankee Stadium in 2011 match worst season at Sun Life Stadium; postponements more prevalent in New York

Play free association with Sun Life Stadium and baseball, and the first response is sure to be, “rain delay.”

Here, then, is a surprise. When the Yankees-Tigers Game 1 of the American League Division Series was halted and ultimately postponed by rain Friday, it marked the 22nd time this season that a game at Yankee Stadium was interrupted by rain. Nine of those games were postponed.

The most rain delays in the Marlins’ 19 seasons at Sun Life Stadium were 22, in 2009. Four of those games were postponed. Next most was 16, in 2005 and 1999.

The Marlins also had four games postponed in 2004, three of them due to Hurricane Frances. There were five postponements in 2001, but three of them were due to the 9/11 tragedy.

With the Marlins moving into a new ballpark with a retractable in 2012, there will never again be a scene with baseball in South Florida like the one Friday in New York when fans were huddled with plastic bags over their heads, pitchers slipping on their follow through and water pooling in the dugouts.

For everyone who has suffered through a soupy night at Sun Life, it was amusing to watch Yankees manager Joe Girardi, the former Marlins skipper, fielding questions from a New York media that wanted to know if anything could have been done to avert the unfortunate situation with the weather.

“What are you going to do?” Girardi said. “It’s too late to put a roof on it.”

For the record, there were 200 rain delays at Sun Life Stadium, an average of 10.5 per season. They totaled 198 hours, 42 minutes.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193)

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Dolphins-Chargers blacked out in San Diego; threat looms for upcoming games at Sun Life Stadium

The first television blackout of a Miami Dolphins game this season will not affect viewers in South Florida.

The announcement by the San Diego Chargers that Sunday’s game with the Dolphins will be blacked out in the San Diego television market is a sign of the times in the NFL (it will be shown live in South Florida on CBS at 4:15 p.m.). It may soon be reality here as well.

There were 6,500 tickets remaining for the game at Thursday’s 72-hour blackout deadline. The previous week it took a 24-hour extension for the Chargers to sell enough tickets to get their game with the Chiefs on local television.

With thousands of tickets remaining for Sunday’s game, the Chargers opted not to follow the example of the Dolphins, who along with sponsor Bud Light bought about 10,000 tickets for their recent home game against Houston.

Even with those unsold tickets given away to season-ticket holders, only 51,032 showed up for that game against the Texans at Sun Life Stadium. If losses continue for the 0-3 Dolphins, lagging ticket sales figure to continue.

The Dolphins have announced a sellout for the home game against the Eagles, and the season finale against the Jets will likely do so as well, aided by the New York factor. Blackouts for some if not all of the other four games could occur.

The Dolphins have had 103 consecutive regular-season games televised since October 1998.

The next home game is Oct. 23 against Denver, and the Dolphins are hoping for a strong turnout of Florida Gators supporters for the controversial tribute to the 2009 national championships team. Will that and the presence of Tim Tebow on the Broncos’ bench be enough to fill the stadium?

The bigger question, will owner Stephen Ross continue to eat thousands of unsold tickets? NFL policy allows teams to buy remaining non-premium seats at 34 cents on the dollar.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said when the blackout was lifted for the Texans game. “A lot can happen before now and our next game, and we’re hopeful we won’t be in this situation as we move forward throughout this season. But we’ll have to wait and see.”

Dee said Ross felt strongly about building a connection with fans to the team early in the season.

Since then, the Dolphins lost to the Texans, their sixth consecutive home defeat (11 of the past 12 at home), followed by a bitter last-minute loss in Cleveland.

Blackouts are common in some NFL cities, and they have been on the rise league-wide for several seasons. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be on TV in their home market for the first time in 14 regular-season and exhibition games when they host the Colts on Monday night.

After the Chargers-Dolphins blackout was announced, a San Diego sports radio station asked fans to call in and say why they are not attending games at Qualcomm Stadium. The main reasons given were the economy and the high cost of attending NFL games.

Team Marketing Report, a publisher of sports marketing and sponsorship information since 1988, calculates the average cost of taking a family of four to a game for all NFL teams. The Chargers rank 10th with a Fan Cost Index of $432.20 a game.

That is slightly above the league average of $427.21. The Dolphins are 22nd at $386.16, one place ahead of the Buccaneers. The Jets are the most expensive game experience at $628.90.
FCI is calculated on the prices of four average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two least-expensive, adult-size adjustable souvenir caps.

Easy to see why many fans are electing to watch at home on their HD televisions or in sports bars. Particularly if the product on the field isn’t paying off in wins and excitement.

POSTED IN: Miami Dolphins (186)

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September 29, 2011

Hate the alleged Miami Marlins logo? Here are some alternatives; let's see your ideas

The leaked alleged logo for the Miami Marlins has stirred considerable discussion and criticism since it appeared on the Internet last week.

In cyber land, the multicolored ‘M’ accented by an abstract marlin has been about as welcome as an invasive virus, or at best as one of those annoying pop-up screens that you can’t click off.

marlins-logo-new-smaller.jpgIt has drawn all manner of critics and colorful putdowns. Even popular former Marlin Dan Uggla gave the one at right a resounding Ugh!, telling the Miami Herald that he felt “bad for those guys if they have to wear that next year. I think it should be officially deleted.”

Several informal polls were leaning strongly toward “awful” and “horrific.” One Marlins official pointed out that there tends to be strong negative reaction to change from anything familiar, and that it is a good sign that people are talking about it and are interested.

My wife, Fran, a graphic designer, offers a couple of variations at the bottom of this post.

Officially, the Marlins will confirm nothing before they unveil the new logo and uniforms at the ballpark in Little Havana on Nov. 11. Team president David Samson did say in a television interview with CBS4’s Jorge Sedano that the leaked logo is “inaccurate.”

The web site sportslogos.net claims to have confirmed that leaked logo is the insignia that will appear on the Marlins’ caps (minus the lettering above), and that the primary logo is slightly different to accommodate display on a white background.

I received similar information from an anonymous e-mailer who claims to have seen the logos and uniform designs on Major League Baseball’s style guide for 2012, which restricts access to official entities and business partners of MBL. This individual reports that there are color variations depending on the background, such as the white fill replaced by black on the primary logo.

For what it’s worth, the e-mailer also offered this information: Both a black and an orange cap; primary uniforms white for home, gray for the road, with MIAMI across the chest; a black and an orange alternate with MARLINS across the chest.

We’ll find out for sure on Nov. 11, and it is sure to grow on us as familiarity sets in.

As I look at the leaked logo today, I don’t dislike it as much as I did at first glance. What bothers me most is the yellow. It seems as if it was designed by a kid with a new box of Crayolas. There are too many colors. Narrow it down.

Here my view: I would prefer a blue-dominated color scheme. There are no orange marlins in the sea. But owner Jeffrey Loria’s affinity for orange is well known. And, well, the new ballpark is on the site of the former Orange Bowl. I do like the choice of a lighter sherbet shade of orange rather than the one that recalls too many empty seats at Sun Life Stadium.

The giant M seems better suited to mark the entrance to a Metro Rail station. And I am dismayed that the stylized marlin looks more like an accent mark than the fierce fighting fish Wayne Huizenga chose as the namesake for his expansion team.

Give me a bigger marlin, a bolder blue look (and more cowbell, please, Ozzie!).

Here are two alternatives offered by Fran Davis. She took the essential elements from the leaked logo and emphasized the marlin. Afterall, they aren't the M's.

Marlins blue and teal with starburst:

Marlins_Revised_Logo_with_Lens_Flare.jpg

Marlins alternate with orange accent:

Miami_Marlins_teal_blue_orange_black.jpg

Do you like these better? If anyone has a better idea, send them to cdavis@tribune.com and I will post some of the most intriguing submissions.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193)

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September 28, 2011

Dwyane Wade's new product endorsement helps players get a grip

Wade-nick.jpg

When athletes endorse products, often they are merely attaching a famous name to boost sales.

Dwyane Wade can actually speak with a high level of expertise about his latest endorsement venture. MISSION Court Grip, which went on sale Wednesday at Foot Locker stores, is scientifically designed to combat the age-old problem that plagues gym rats everywhere: slippage.

“My game is about traction, changing direction,” Wade said Wednesday. [The idea was] how can we come up with something that can help everyone to play basketball and feel confident with the court, and just go out and play and not have to worry about sliding and slipping and injuries.”

It took scientists to concoct a liquid applied to the bottom of sneakers that uses pressure-sensitive nanotechnology designed to activate and provide grip when a player makes a cut. Wade began testing it about 18 months ago and used it throughout last season with the Heat.

“It gives confidence in my ability to be able to make my moves,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to play on not only the best courts but the best sneakers that the game has to offer. Some of the courts are still dirty, still dusty, not clean. I know that it’s even more of a problem in colleges and high schools and rec leagues.”

Court Grip will sell for $14.99 a bottle at Foot Locker and on Eastbay.com. It has an applicator sponge for applying evenly to the bottom of shoes. Wade said it dries within a few seconds and provides sure footing for about 15 minutes.

That is a big improvement on other futile attempts to get a grip that he has tried: “I’d spit on my hands, which is disgusting, or you wipe the bottom of your shoe constantly. I’ve tried all kinds of things that never worked, and I wanted to develop something that does work.”

Wade earlier this year joined a number of other top athletes as partners with MISSION, which produces a line of skincare products. Other notables involved include Serena Williams, David Wright, Mia Hamm and Steve Nash. The company has more than two dozen lotions and potions, including sunscreens, moisturizers and anti-chafe creams.

Wade embraced the testing of Court Grip as his own top-secret mission.

“I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think it helped my game. It’s not going to make you jump higher or better, but it will make you stable on the ground,” he said. “I wanted to get some knowledge about why no one has done it before, and understand that it’s not an easy thing to get the science of it down. A lot of people ask, is it sticky? Because that can cause injuries. It’s not. It’s a huge, huge plus from what we’ve been dealing with for years.”

All-star cast at FIU

Wade said Court Grip may show up in gift bags for players in the pro-am all-star exhibition that he and Heat teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh are organizing at Florida International University on Oct. 8. Big-name players expected to play include Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and Amare Stoudemire. (Wade is pictured above with James and Paul this week at Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play in Washington).

If not for the NBA lockout, all of them would soon be headed to their team’s training camps. Wade says he remains hopeful that a new labor agreement will be reached and that in time to salvage the season.

“I try not to think about there not being a season. I understood that it might not start on time, and that they were going to be going through negotiations and labor talks for a while. Hopefully soon we can come to some kind of middle ground and understand that it’s bigger than all of us -- the owners, the players -- and that it is about the game of basketball that so many people around the world love.”

Wade, James and Bosh have the added incentive in wanting to get back on the court to move past the disappointment of the Heat’s loss to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

Wade, James plenty marketable

Soon after the humbling defeat, a Nielsen/E-Poll showed that Wade and James had fallen out of the top 10 of most marketable players in the NBA. Both had been near the top before most of America began to view the Heat as the Evil Empire.

Wade said he is more concerned about winning than trying to win over detractors.

“Winning cures all,” he said. “I don’t think LeBron has really had a problem with his marketability. He’s doing very well for himself, and brands want to be associated with him. I haven’t had to deal with that issue either. The brands I’m a part of are very supportive the whole way. And we appreciate that.”

POSTED IN: Miami Heat (174)

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September 7, 2011

Can Marlins get SpongeBob out? Video game mixes major-leaguers with cartoon favorites

Nolasco-squarepantsnickelodian.jpg

This is the most enticing publicity tease to come along in quite a while:

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to watch Ricky Nolasco pitch against SpongeBob SquarePants?

Maybe I was hallucinating, but I thought I witnessed that on a rainy night at Sun Life Stadium last weekend.

The prospect promises to be more entertaining in the new Nicktoons MLB video game to be released Sept. 13 by 2K Play. At least for the young gaming set.

The game provides an opportunity to mix players on the Marlins and the other 29 major league teams with characters from fav toon shows such as SpongeBob and Ren & Stimpy. It is designed for Xbox 360 with support for Kinect, Wii and Nintendo DS.

Games can be set in any of several iconic ballparks, including Fenway, or various familiar Nicktoon locations. It is a good opportunity for major league baseball to foster a connection with an upcoming generation. And to answer the question, Can Nolasco get SpongeBob out?

Perhaps the Marlins should consider signing some of these “name’ players as they get ready to open a new ballpark. They won’t come cheap, though.

POSTED IN: Florida Marlins (193)

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September 1, 2011

Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard stuffs on giraffe to boost sneaker sales

Dwight Howard has attained the status of without peer among centers in the NBA. It seems the Orlando Magic star had to go all the way to Japan to find a worthy adversary: a 12-foot giraffe.

What, Godzilla was away on holiday?

Howard, on tour to promote his line of Adidas Original sneakers, put on a show at the Roppongi Hills Mall in Tokyo, slamming one through a hoop affixed to the upper neck of a giant toy giraffe. Stationed near a regulation-height rim, the giraffe’s hoop appears at least 11 feet high.

After teasing with a couple of aborted attempts, he easily threw it down to the delight of a young, potentially sneaker-buying crowd.

Adidas couldn’t have created more effective advertising. The video has been quickly making the rounds on YouTube and other sites.

POSTED IN: NBA (139)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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