Ignacio Rodriguez's title for South Florida's chronically anonymous pro-soccer team is a bit oxymoronic — like being a real estate agent to the homeless, or head of the Israeli shellfish harvesters' union. Attendance at the team's tin-bleachered Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale rarely exceeds the single-digit thousands, and the front office has taken to frequent gimmicks in order to stave off extinction: They signed elderly one-named former fútbol demigod Romário and then two recently defected Cuban phenoms, and the players volunteered to shave their heads if fans showed up. But the bleachers remained nearly empty. Through all of these thwarted shenanigans, Rodriguez has remained friendly, attentive, and upbeat — the kind of flack who literally won't let us off the phone until we promise to show up at either media day or the season opener. Given that most sports flacks act like they're guarding a stable of 25 popes rather than a bunch of dudes who get sweaty on Sundays, its awfully refreshing to deal with a PR shield eager to make even the most audacious press requests happen, and always prefers a sit-down lunch to an email exchange.
For some inexplicable reason, Miami Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra has a habit of starting Michael Beasley and then sitting him down during the stretch run of games. Even on nights when the team is down a crapload of points in the fourth quarter and in desperate need for someone other than Dwyane Wade to put the ball in the basket — which is something Beasley is especially astute at — Spoelstra has kept his starting forward on the bench, towel over his head, looking pitiful. This has angered many Heat fans, forcing them to jump on Twitter and say nasty things about Spoelstra's mother in 140 characters or less. But the vitriol is justified. The only thing B-Easy seems to do when he's on the court is smash opponents' faces via smooth jumpers and ball-crushing defense. Selected second overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, Beasley has shown flashes of the badassery he displayed as a freshman phenom at Kansas State, averaging 15.3 points per game and displaying an innate ability to take over games whenever he hits a hot streak. Beasley's shooting range is sick. He can knock down shots from pretty much anywhere on the court and can slam-dunk with the best of them. Plus he knows how to crash the boards like a man possessed. And he's only 21 years old. Let that sink in for a minute. It's painfully obvious that Michael Beasley is the perfect Robin to D-Wade's Batman. He's a kid with unlimited potential and All-Star talent. If only his head coach were aware of this!
Tom Falco's Coconut Grove Grapevine community blog can be irritating. When he's writing about threatening to take photos of kids "posing" as school basketball players — only to watch them "scatter like rats" — or railing against a woman in a food truck poaching customers from Grove restaurants, Falco has all the perspective of a Picasso. But Merriam-Webster's definition of a gadfly is one who "stimulates or annoys, especially by persistent criticism," which might as well be the Grapevine's mission statement. There is no louder voice for a community — in his case, the Grove's business owners — in Miami.
OK, so shortstop phenom Hanley Ramirez is the best Marlin — until the day he absconds to a bigger market or enters the Hall of Fame with a portrait of a gasping fish on his cap. But baseball connoisseurs will tell you there's more than one potential superstar on the team. Big Josh Johnson, at six-foot-seven and 252 pounds, is Randy Johnson Lite, a flamethrower who, when healthy, is one of the game's strongest pitchers. It's been a bumpy early career for the Marlins draft pick, who made his Major League debut in 2005. After an extremely promising rookie season, his elbow blew out in 2007 and he underwent Tommy John surgery. Johnson recovered from the serious arm operation in near-record time, retaking the mound only 11 months later and wrapping up his abbreviated 2008 with an I'm-back-bitches 7-1 win-loss record and an ERA under 4. In 2009, his first full season in the Bigs, Johnson was absolutely unhittable at times, boasting a 15-5 record and a 3.23 ERA. The surgery appeared to have left him stronger than ever, and we're pegging him as a perennial Cy Young candidate from here on out. Remember, he's only 26.
You might not have heard any songs by Fort Lauderdale rapper Lyrikill.com — yes, his stage name is a web address — but if you regularly watch network news, you've probably seen his work. The dreadlocked white boy has taken self-promotion to obsessive, highly invasive new levels. For three years, he's been bum-rushing live telecasts while screaming and holding signs bearing his name. The practice has made him public enemy number one among the perfect-hair-and-mike-lapel set — he's been threatened on-camera by a pole-wielding producer and had his YouTube account suspended for copyright violations — but the possibility of a Lyrikill.com sighting makes boring ol' nightly news worth watching.
Turns out the Florida Panthers might have known what they were doing back in 2001 after all. For years, fans have looked at the '01 draft — when the Cats held the fourth overall pick and a chance to turn their struggling franchise around — as a massive missed opportunity. The Panthers took a quick-skating center from Ontario named Stephen Weiss — and then watched him languish for almost a decade. Before 2010, Weiss had spent more years in the minors than the Bigs and had topped out with a 20-goal effort in 2006. Well, consider Weiss the Grandma Moses of the NHL, a classic late-bloomer, because this season, he has straight-up carried Florida's hockey franchise. Weiss leads the team in goals and points thanks to a season of inspired runs at the net, hard scuffles in the corner, and artful stick work. With fan fave David Booth injured most of the year, it was Weiss who kept the Panthers in the playoff hunt past the Olympic break.
If you want to instill some peace in angry, hot-headed inner-city youth, have them, like, grab a board and become a mellow dude riding the waves. That's the idea Maurice "Maui" Goodbeer came up with while surfing the South Beach shores after his brother's death in 2003. Goodbeer had delivered his slain brother's eulogy and promised his family he'd find a way to reach out to inner-city kids and help reduce the violence. The organization he launched, Streetwaves Foundation, mentors at-risk youth from Miami's inner cities and introduces them to the soul-and-sport lifestyle of surfing. Maui's goal was to create "stewards of the ocean," focusing the kids' energy on the holistic effects that surfing could bring to their lives. So every Saturday, he rounds up his troops from local youth centers and takes them out for free lessons. It has gained such good vibes that Streetwaves is up for a much-needed Pepsi Refresh Project grant. The group also needs volunteers to pick up the kids, drop them off, transport equipment, boost them into a wave, and help get the word out. Streetwaves has even tugged the heart of Brooke Hogan, who was spotted on the beach in early May helping instruct students.
The Miami Dolphins brass has shown a habit of holding back when it comes to big-name free-agent signings. Their philosophy seems to be spreading the wealth at different positions rather than giving one big check to one player. But this off-season, when Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Karlos Dansby became a free agent, the Fins pounced on him like Tom Cruise on Oprah's couch. Yes, they went against their own philosophy but, in doing so, filled a huge void in their defense. In his six seasons in the NFL, all with Arizona, the 28-year-old Dansby has recorded 553 tackles, 25 sacks, 10 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns. He posted 109 tackles, a sack, and an interception last season and has built a reputation for being a big-time play-making machine. He immediately bolsters the Dolphins' lackluster linebacking corps and gives Miami a free-ranging defender who can rush the passer as well as make plays in the middle. The Dolphins made sure Dansby, possibly the best NFL free agent this off-season, visited only Miami, and they immediately signed him to a five-year, $43 million contract, making him the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL. So much for spreading the wealth. But sometimes you have to break with tradition if you're going to stop sucking.
American Top Team Doral
Do you find yourself watching UFC fights on pay-per-view, envisioning yourself in briefs decorated with the flag of your native country, with blood dripping down your face and an award-winning case of cauliflower ear? If so, you might be clinically insane and/or interested in knowing that at American Top Team Doral, any guy or girl can take their first step in becoming an ultimate fighter. The name that sponsors nationally recognized fighters such as Thiago "the Pitbull" Alves and former WEC featherweight title-holder Mike Brown opened its doors about a year and a half ago. The gym now allows brave run-of-the-mills to take classes in Brazilian jiujitsu, Muay Thai, and mixed martial arts alongside individuals who kick ass for a living. Step into the long, massive, open space covered with mats, punching bags, and a fairly intimidating octagon for a range of classes that feature matched-up throwdowns. ATT is headquartered in Coconut Creek, but many wannabe fighters get their foot in the door at the Doral location. And if you start kicking some amateur ass in class, the ATT Doral owners might eventually offer to sponsor and schedule you in fights. So if you're fearless, want to get in ridiculously good shape, and don't care too much for your facial aesthetics, get your martial arts mixed at ATT Doral. The gym offers first-timers a free one-week trial. Prices are $190 a month for unlimited classes or $140 for two classes a week.
Apologies to Tony La Russa, Joe Girardi, and Joe Torre, but the best manager in baseball last year wore teal and black and spent his summer afternoons at the place previously known as Dolphin Stadium. Yeah, we said it. Fredi Gonzalez doesn't have any World Series rings under his watch, but in his short tenure, he has already proven to be the Robert Rauschenberg of Major League Baseball managers, taping together pop art masterpieces out of rusty cans and the lowest payroll in the majors. Don't believe us? Do a little simple math. Take last year's Marlins team salary — $36,813,000 — and divide it by the number of wins they picked up last year — 87, almost enough for a playoff berth. The Fish, by that reckoning, spent a little more than $423,000 per win, by far the lowest in MLB. In other words, they got the most bang for their buck in the Bigs — and Fredi, a local Cuban boy who earned the manager's seat through years of trolling the minors, is the reason why. Best local sports coach? Bah! Try best cap'n in all baseball.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®