Best Marlins Player 2009 | Jorge Cantu | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

No, Jorge Cantu isn’t the most talented guy, and he’s not going to put up the best numbers. He’s not showy, and he’s damn sure not pretty. Cantu is just clutch. And guts. Last season, he rapped so many big hits in late innings that a lot of Marlins fans began calling him “Can-do.” Most of them probably didn’t know he’d already earned that nickname in Class A ball. You want this guy in your lineup. He’s championship-caliber. But the 27-year-old Cantu, conceived in Mexico and born in Texas, has had an up-and-down career. It went up in his 117-RBI breakout season at Tampa Bay in 2005, when he was voted MVP of the then-Devil Rays. The next year was dismal, though, and the guy was drummed all the way back to the minors. That’s where the Marlins — always brilliant at picking up great players on the cheap — found him. He’s in his prime now, hardened by the game, humbled by it, and very well might be ready to help lead a team to the promised land.

First the good news: There's a 134-space parking lot at the epicenter of the bustling South Beach action — and it's almost never full. Now the bad: You can't use it between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. (Club kids and night owls can stop reading here.) But for folks who prefer a day in the sun to a romp in the dark, this part-time residential lot on Michigan Avenue at 15th Street will save you the raging migraine SoBe street parking tends to induce. Located in a tree-lined residential hood on the outskirts of Flamingo Park, it's just a six-block trek to the ocean. So grab your towel and cooler, and forget about those nasty towing companies. Your ride is safe here. Just don't tell the tourists.

Over the years, we've devoted this category to the municipal shithouses of Miami-Dade — bathrooms on beaches and in museums where the toilets seats are not guaranteed to be free of seven strands of hepatitis. But let's face it, unless you're clearly a vagrant — and if you are, you probably already have your favorite porcelain throne picked out — hotel lobby bathrooms are always a more pleasant option. A clean bowl, free of clogs and ancient floaters; Kenny G piped through overhead speakers; the ubiquitous vase of potpourri-smelling reeds; a discarded USA Today sports section awaiting your perusal — it's the ultimate bowel-movement experience. And the finest hotel lobby bathroom in all of Miami is on the third floor of Brickell's Mandarin Oriental, among the corporate conference rooms. Expansive, usually empty and elegantly minimalist — with a nice bamboo-and-oranges Asian theme going on — this is a restroom where you can feel elite dropping a deuce without dropping a dime.

It's Saturday night, the league-leading Boston Bruins are skating in Sunrise, and as shot after shot after wicked shot ricochets off the Panthers goalie, the BankAtlantic Center shakes louder and louder each time the distorted chords from Blur's "Song 2" cue up:

Blur: When I feel heavy metal!

Crowd: Vo-kouuuun!

Blur: When I'm on pins and needles!

Crowd: Vo-kouuuun!

Blur has been making a big comeback this year in South Florida thanks to Tomas Vokoun, the acrobatic Czech net-minder who has anchored a suddenly stingy Panthers D.

As the Cats have clawed their way up from a decade in the cellar, no one has carried the team further than its second-year goaltender. Vokoun leads the NHL in shutouts and is second in save percentage, stopping 92.6 percent of the pucks fired his way. And he's only been getting better down the stretch, as the Panthers swim the unfamiliar waters of playoff contention.

Cue up that Blur again, would ya? Woo-hooooo, indeed.

Located along a lush stretch of Old Cutler Road and concealed by banyan and mangrove forests, Hammock Oaks is undeniably idyllic, if exclusive. It's essentially a gated wonderland of big-money Miami mansions, massive free-form swimming pools, and private grass tennis courts. So indulge your inner Gatsby and loiter a little bit while walking, running, or biking through the affluent enclave. But don't linger too long because there remain a number of awe-inspiring places where the common people can freely congregate. Start with the Fairchild Tropical Garden, featuring a fruit pavilion, palm glade, and vine pergola—plus large-scale outdoor sculptures by art stars such as Roy Lichtenstein and Dale Chihuly. Then, move north to Matheson Hammock Park, an amazing 629-acre expanse of public land. There are manmade lakes everywhere, including the park's legendary saltwater lagoon, and the forest is so secluded in spots that civilization seems an incredibly remote idea.

Boxing is a sport as much about entertainment as it is about fighting, which is the real reason Muhammad Ali is considered the greatest of all time. Some fighters have the charisma and story line that make people queue up to watch them in the ring, and others simply go to work. Glen Johnson is the latter. Even his manager calls him a "lunch-pail champ." For the past 20 years or so, the Jamaican-born Miami resident has quietly been going about his work, racking up nearly 50 wins and an IBF light-heavyweight championship along the way. His brightest moment came in 2004, when he knocked out Roy Jones Jr. — long considered the best fighter in all of boxing — at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. Still, Johnson is hardly a household name, and even now he has to convince promoters he'll be a draw if they put him on a title card. The 40-year-old's biggest fight left is against time. In April 2008, Johnson lost a controversial decision to WBC champ Chad Dawson (a Showtime viewers' poll immediately after the fight showed 80 percent thought Johnson won), and ever since then, Johnson has been arguing he deserves one more shot. His February 2009 victory over Daniel Judah at Hard Rock Live just might give Johnson that chance.

Summary of the short film, "A Perfect Day in MiMo": Timmy wakes up in Motel Blue, fond memories of his visit to Boulevard. Where is that smell coming from? Oh, right! He brought the stripper back to his room! Quietly, Timmy puts on his clothes, leaves a $20 bill on the nightstand, and sneaks out. The Miami sun is out, and a cool breeze is blowing off of the Little River, making him hungry for pancakes, fresh fruit, and a stiff latte. Luckily, Uva 69, the Vagabond Market, and Jimmy's are all open. Afterward, Timmy strolls down the sidewalk that should have trees dug into it any day now on his way to Legion Park, where he runs some full-court ball and bathes in Biscayne Bay. Too snobby to get back into his old clothes, Timmy buys some new threads at Julian Chang and then catches a couple of innings of the Florida Marlins game on the flat-screen TVs at Kingdom. Lunchtime! Nothing like a hot dog from Dogma before doing some renovation work on the Shalimar Hotel and sitting outside the Kubik lot wondering why no one has done anything about this eyesore. But you know what's not an eyesore? That Coppertone sign! Timmy could watch that dog tear that little girl's bathing suit off for hours. Too bad he's got cars to wash at Metro. Thanks for the tip, Mrs. Johnson! How'd you like to meet me at Michy's for some seafood linguine? And then maybe afterward we can have an affair in an empty apartment above Balans? Awesome! I'll go get a haircut at the Chop Shop and pay my pimp at the Sinbad. Drinks at Red Light and then it's back to Boulevard. Nighty-night, Timmy. You can do it all over again tomorrow.

Wiber Marrero, who is a personal trainer at Intense Warehouse Fitness in Kendall, popped his MMA cherry last December at the American Airlines Arena during the Mixed Fighting Alliance's There Will Be Blood promotion. The former Army Ranger, who boasts black belts in jujitsu and kickboxing, dropped opponent Ronald Peña with a wicked roundhouse kick to the head 23 seconds into the first round. The chiseled brute's impressive KO sent Peña to the emergency room with a broken jaw and a handful of teeth.

Every basketball court has its own personality. There's the court filled with dudes who call a foul if you so much as breathe on them, the court with the And 1 wannabes, the court with the old men with knee braces who shoot inexplicably well from beyond the three-point line, the court that tears off all the flesh from your hands and knees if you happen to stumble, the court where the only way you can get in on a game is by knowing someone or having someone on the court sprain an ankle or tear a knee ligament. Then there are the courts at Flamingo Park. On any given day, this place can take on any and all of the above characters, and no one overstays his welcome. The courts are smooth and clean, and the atmosphere is always alive. Well lit and always buzzing, it's a great place to catch a pick-up game in the evening. And with a beach breeze gusting in during the day — not to mention the park's swimming pool just a stone's throw away — it's the ideal spot to play when the sun is out.

Located in the heart of South Beach, it is a short walk from Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road and is always filled with soccer games, racquetball enthusiasts, tennis players, folks walking their dogs, and beautiful people. The eclectic mix of ballers and overall SoBe vibe is what makes playing ball at Flamingo such a trip.

Claire Nelson

Picture this: A major American city. A dilapidated but beloved sports facility. A stadium that's fondly remembered for its world-class sporting competitions, thrilling rock concerts, and noteworthy presidential appearances. One that has been praised for its architectural beauty and drawn spectators from the four corners of the earth — but is at this very moment in danger of demolition. It's too late for the Orange Bowl and Bobby Maduro Stadium (and maybe even Hialeah Park), but the city of Miami could finally do the right thing by preserving Miami Marine Stadium. Maybe city leaders don't understand the value of this elegant 1964 Modernist masterpiece or its stunning bayside location, but the people do, and the people have banded together as Friends of Miami Marine Stadium to save their facility. Step one in the restoration game was completed last year, when the city's preservation board conferred historic status on the building. That alone won't save the aging edifice, which was badly damaged during Hurricane Andrew, but it can open the faucets to grants, tax breaks, and other inducements that could convince politicians to want to "take credit for rescuing" the stadium.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®