One Herald Plaza is among the ugliest buildings we have ever seen. This hulking, squat, cube-shape structure reminds us of the Borg's spaceship. Inside you will find journalists stripped of their free will objectively describing what their Borg masters (a.k.a. the McClatchy Co.) tell them to report on. Construction began in 1960 and the Herald officially moved in on March 23-24, 1963, without missing an edition. For better or worse, the bayside HQ has also become a symbol of Miami's angst, thanks to events such as Jose Varela's brazen takeover of One Herald Plaza and Arthur Teele's suicide in the building's lobby in 2005. The sad part is that one day, we will bid farewell to the newspaper's 43-year-old home so we can have more — whoopee — condos. The Miami City Commission has given developer-lawyer Pedro Martin the green light to build up to three high-rises and a massive shopping center on property abutting One Herald Plaza. Martin also has first dibs on redevelopment of the HQ site, where he wants to erect a 60-plus-story tower.
For any Marlins fan who remembers the 2003 World Series and the insanely good pitching that won it, the name Josh Beckett should be honored. Enshrined. Hell, can we apply for sainthoodç Alas, Beckett was traded away to the Red Sox and left some mighty big cleats to fill. One of the players who came here in return for Beckett, through a complicated trade deal, was shortstop Hanley Ramirez. No, not Harley Ramirez. No, not Manny Ramirez. No, not that serial killer. We mean the kid who came out of Beantown's farm system to begin his major league career with the Marlins, under the weight of great expectations. He carried the load and then some. In fact, Ramirez won the National League Rookie of the Year in 2006 (notably, his Marlins teammates Dan Uggla and Josh Johnson were right behind him in votes). It's not just that Ramirez has a .292 batting average, or that he regularly slams homers over the wall, or that he steals bases almost every third game (51 last year!). It's that, bundled together in a speedy package, with his hat cocked sideways on his head and his sunglasses coolly in place, Ramirez (lovingly nicknamed "Shadez") gives us something exciting to watch and someone worthwhile to cheer for. It's too early to guess whether the 2007 Marlins will make the postseason, and it'd be premature to call Ramirez our next Josh Beckett — but hey, you're not calling him Harley anymore.
Anders Gyllenhaal spent twelve years as a reporter and editor at the Miami Herald before leaving to work at papers in North Carolina and Minnesota, where he was editor. In December the Herald's parent company, the McClatchy Co., announced that Gyllenhaal would be returning to Miami to replace longtime editor Tom Fiedler, who was retiring. We think this is an excellent move for Gyllenhaal, a lifelong newshound. After all, the stories in Miami are much more exciting than those in — whattaya call itç — Miny-soda.
Number 99, Jason Taylor, came oh-so-close to retiring, following the Fins' abysmal season, and treacherous Nick Saban's absconding to Alabama. Thank goodness he didn't. Despite participating in an excruciating 6-10 losing record, the NFL's defensive player of the year recorded thirteen-and-a-half sacks, forced ten fumbles, and snagged two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns, including an acrobatic doozey against Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson. Down by a field goal, Taylor shed a blocker and intercepted Johnson's screen pass. Taylor then jaunted 51 yards to the end zone, untouched, for the clinching touchdown. Surprisingly Taylor did not return any fumbles for touchdowns in 2006, his specialty since his rookie year. In fact Taylor holds the Dolphins team record for the most career touchdown fumble returns and most career touchdowns by a Dolphins lineman. In many ways Taylor's success on the field has somewhat deflected attention from the star defensive end's tumultuous personal life. His wife, Katina, filed for divorce this past July. Four months earlier, Redmond Charles Burns, a 24-year-old Davie resident, attacked Taylor with a knife during a road rage incident on State Road 84 and Flamingo Road. Despite his troubles Taylor's charismatic candor has made him a media and fan favorite. During a media conference call before the Dolphins' season finale against the Indianapolis Colts, an outspoken Taylor commented against San Diego Chargers Shawn Merriman's candidacy for the defensive player award, noting that Merriman was suspended for four games during the season for testing positive for a banned substance. Taylor suggested that Merriman winning the award would send the wrong message to those who look up to NFL players. This past January 7, during an NFL telecast, Taylor assured Dolfans he wasn't going anywhere. "The day Tom Brady outruns (me), I'll retire," Taylor quipped. "But that day's not going to come quick."
Some need lesson after lesson, but Alex Brenes used the hardscrabble streets of Costa Rica to polish his boxing skills. It sounds trite, and it's the same thing most fighters say, but hanging out with the wrong crowd made him take up the sport. Sixteen years ago he took his street-fighting skills from the asphalt into the ring, and he hasn't stopped swinging since. He has trained with legend Angelo Dundee, held the Florida Golden Gloves title, and has been a member of the pre-Olympic Costa Rican boxing squad. When he's not beating up on your favorite light welterweight, you can catch Brenes at the South Florida Boxing Gym on South Beach, teaching a class or embarrassing everyone with his awesome glove game. His skills and good looks have landed him a starring role in a fitness DVD called Boxing Fitness, in which he translates the fun of fisticuffs to the art of body-shaping. But Brenes doesn't forget the place that made him so damn good. "Everything I do," he says, "I do it for my country. I always represent Costa Rica."
That damn Oscar Corral. First he writes a story informing Miami residents that ten South Florida journalists are on the payrolls of U.S. propaganda vehicles Radio and TV Martí. Then he has the nerve to tell us that none of the $55.5 million in taxpayer money intended to fund Cuban dissidents has reached the island in cash. Instead the bulk was spent in Miami and Washington, or on exorbitant bills to ship goods to the island. And then he reports that most of that local spending was done without oversight or competitive bidding, and that the goods purchased for anti-Castro activists to foster democracy included Nintendo Game Boys, a chainsaw, Sony Playstations, cashmere sweaters, a mountain bike, Godiva chocolates, and crabmeat. He may have been leaking fecal matter and stuffed with tubes, but there was only one man behind this, and he wears an Adidas track jacket and has a beard. Thank God for the freelance columnist at El Nuevo Herald, Nicolas Perz Diaz-Arguelles, who finally put two and two together and took the leap of faith to insinuate what was on all of our minds: Oscar Corral is a Cuban spy. The writer's editor may have cried "blood libel," but when it comes down to it, newspapers are irrelevant to a democracy. Eating truffles while playing Grand Theft Autoç That's a slap in Castro's face.
"A source interviewed for the story on happy hours in Saturday's Tropical Life section misidentified himself to the reporter. Carl Palomino, a lawyer, was not at the Martini Bar. His brother, Pat Palomino, identified himself as Carl and provided his brother's name and profession instead of his own."
The 'Canes didn't do so well this year, at least in the traditional sense, so we decided to choose our favorite player using nontraditional criteria. After his stellar freshman season, the Hurricanes selected safety Anthony Reddick as one of two defensive rookies of the year. The ACC dubbed him rookie of the week after a University of Houston game in which he made five tackles, forced a fumble, and blocked a punt that was recovered by Tavares Gooden for a touchdown less than a minute into the game. In 2005 he tore his right anterior cuciate ligament and was out for most of the season following arthroscopic knee surgery. This threw his future into question. But during the fateful October 14 brawl between the University of Miami and Florida International University, that question was answered. When Panther thugs jumped Miami's holder, Matt Perelli, Reddick charged downfield toward the growing fracas, took off his helmet, and began wielding it like a hammer. He sacrificed the safety of his own face for more bashing power. There's really nothing more football than that.
This scrappy little rag has a new lease on life. With former New Times editor Jim Mullin at the helm, BT has shown a renewed vigor, mixing down-home local interest stories (police blotter and gardening tips) with hard-charging reporting (on a fire-fee scandal and controversial urban planning). Recently the paper has seen the bylines of accomplished Miami journos such as Tristram Korten, Kirk Nielsen, and Kathy Glasgow, former New Times reporters all. Cleaner graphics and interesting, reader-friendly additions such as a city park-rating feature are sure to make BT a crowd pleaser.
In a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lighting, Florida Panthers center Olli Jokinen passed on an opportunity to score an empty netter, sliding the puck to Horton, who notched his 30th goal of the season. In a way it symbolized the franchise's established superstar passing the torch on to its future, if Panthers management does the smart thing and renews Horton's contract — he's had his best professional season by far. The 21-year-old phenom flourished under the tutelage of Coach Jacques Martin. The six-foot-two, 200-pound right wing is fun to watch, too: In a game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Horton went crashing to the floor, but not before flicking a sizzling wrist shot into the net, tying the score at 2-2. It was perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the 2006 season. And the young man knows how to defer to his elders. Following the victory over Tampa Bay, Horton gushed to the Herald about Jokinen: "He's obviously our best player and means a lot to this team," Horton said. "Him being in our lineup every night gives us a chance to win." And so does having Horton.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®