There is something pleasantly dreamlike and unreal about Black Point Marina. It's an improbable mix of natural and human construction. On some sea charts the area is known as "the featherbeds." Dog walkers have been known to meet crocodiles on Black Point's walkways. To the south looms the region's only peak, Mount Trashmore. At the marina's dockside restaurant and bar, the Pirate's Den, the beer runs cold, the food is passable, and customers can down pitchers while watching herons fish. A 1.5-mile jetty path that juts into the bay is the perfect place for a stroll afterward. Couples spread blankets on the grass. Families picnic and fish. Manmade Miami is rarely this peaceful.

Since 1965 Red Berry has been teaching youngsters to pitch, catch, bat, and spit like a major leaguer. At various times he also has served as a coach for the University of Miami Hurricanes and a professional baseball scout. He likes to claim at least some of the credit for the careers of players who went on to play for teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and Toronto Blue Jays. The secret to the decades-old formula? Teaching the kids proper player development, to be part of a team, and to have a good time. Summer camp begins in June. Sounds like fun, and if there's any truth to the Baseball World slogan, it is just that: "Home to America's happiest ballplayers."
Not only did our friends at WTVJ-TV (Channel 6) abandon South Florida's first television studio -- conveniently located across from the federal courthouse in downtown Miami -- to better bring us gripping developments from Plantation City Hall, and not only did they leave a physical and metaphorical black hole downtown, they also desecrated the structural shell they left behind. On their last day in Miami, staffers pulled out markers and paint and graffittied their historic studio's walls. There's symbolism here, none of it particularly appreciated.

Dolphins wide receiver O.J. McDuffie knows you can't play good unless you feel good. And you can't possibly feel good unless you ... look good. That's why, before a big home game against rival Buffalo, McDuffie petitioned head coach Dave Wannstedt to toss out the garish green pants the team had worn at home for the past three seasons in favor of the white pants and matching white shirts the team wore in its glory days. Wannstedt allowed the change, and the Fins looked positively resplendent in a 22-13 win. "Whatever it takes," said a victorious Wannstedt afterward, referring not to the gridiron war but to the wardrobe.
Who will ever forget those images of well-dressed young men with neatly cropped hair pounding on the doors of the Miami-Dade County Elections Department during the height of the presidential recount? And when a few of them erroneously thought county Democratic Party chairman Joe Geller was trying to steal ballots, they pounced on him like he was the last piece of Brie at a wine-and-cheese social. Initially television viewers must have thought the hooligans were local citizens, but anyone living in Miami knew right away this wasn't a hometown horde. For one thing there wasn't a single guayabera in the crowd. Sure enough it turned out this rabble was imported from out of state, many of them the aides to Republican congressmen from around the nation. Eventually the roving band of Republican thugs was forced to disperse, but not before they caused Miami-Dade County to cancel its recount and ensure a victory for George W. Bush.
Um, $145 billion. Yeah, that's with a b. That's how much this husband-and-wife team won for their clients in July 2000. The astounding award was the culmination of a seven-year legal battle against the nation's tobacco industry, and it all played out in the Miami courtroom of Judge Robert Kaye. The Rosenblatts' argument was deceptively simple: "My key strategy was to show that these people have knowingly sold ... a product they 100 percent knew will kill a certain number of their customers. And that they didn't give a damn," Stanley told the National Law Journal. The jury bought it. The victory for their estimated 500,000 clients is all the more impressive in light of the fact that these two local advocates faced a veritable army of high-priced attorneys hired by the tobacco giants. Faced them down and kicked their butts.

Miami theater is as alive and thriving en español as it is in English. From the reputable Teatro Avante to the burgeoning number of small theaters on SW Eighth Street, there's much to be said for local Spanish-language theater. But this season director Rolando Moreno's Spanish adaptation of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire took the prize. La Ultima Parada gave theatergoers a taste of what challenging theater can do when teamed with excellent acting. Transplanting Williams's streetcar of Southern decadence to Guantánamo, Cuba, circa 1970, La Ultima Parada turned decadence into misogyny and the tradition of Latin-American machismo into an intriguing pendulum of sexuality. Actors Carlos Caballero and Alexa Kuve stood out for their raw emotionalism as Guantánamo Bay's Stanley and Stella. The play was at times colloquially hilarious and at other times heartbreaking, but above all it provided Spanish-speaking audiences with an unflinching closeup of Castro's postrevolutionary wasteland. La Ultima Parada also featured Vivian Ruiz, Evelio Taillacq, Maria Hernandez, Hugo Garcia, Gerardo Riveron, and Ricardo Ponte.

How to prove your mettle: After coming off another stellar year, injure your right ankle in an early season victory over New England. Miss five full starts. During your absence watch other teams run over your replacements as if they were Bermuda grass. Come back even though you're still in so much pain you feel, you say, "like an old man" at age 27. Still serve as the anchor of an excellent defense that carries your team to a division title. Still earn selection to the Pro Bowl. That's how.
The Cagney and Lacey of the Clinton administration are now in South Florida. There was never much doubt that native Miamian Janet Reno would return home, even with the hard feelings among Cuban Americans over Elian. But landing Donna Shalala as the new president of the University of Miami was indeed a coup. For political junkies looking to add a little West Wing sizzle to their next humdrum cocktail party, inviting one or (dare we imagine) both of these Beltway vixens would be just the ticket. Imagine the stories they could swap while munching on croquetas and sipping mojitos. "Well, that's what I told the president. “No, sir, I don't know if club soda is really good at removing stains.'"

Call it a mixture of financial planning and public confession. "Money Makeovers," a column appearing every other Sunday in the Miami Herald's business section, is an addictive snapshot of a community's fiscal health. Readers volunteer to have their finances scoped by a certified financial analyst. While the volunteers receive free financial advice, they also must put their often-disastrous financial history on naked display. Notable participants include the high school science teacher who collects snakes. "My comfort level is not as okay as I'd like it to be," he said, referring to his stock portfolio, not to the albino boa constrictor he keeps on his property. There's the former professional baseball player who is dangerously -- perhaps embarrassingly -- leveraged in tech stocks. And there's the pathetic attorney and single mother who overspends her $70,000 income by $3000 per month, piling up enormous credit-card debt and squandering her IRA. Doh! Fortunately the column provides inspiration, too. Take the uniquely Miami story of John Quinteros. The former drug dealer, busted on national TV by Geraldo Rivera, is rebuilding his financial life after spending more than six years in prison. Now a restaurant manager, Quinteros wants to bump up his 401(k) contributions and increase his investment in stocks. "When I got out, I did not have a penny to my name," he said triumphantly. "Now I have a beautiful wife and a family, a nice house, and a growing portfolio." Beautiful indeed.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®