Thursday, June 17, 2010

A New Reign for Miami Sports?

June 17, 2010

As summer marks the beginning of vacation breaks for average Americans, most sports take a hiatus of their own during this season. With football deep into it's offseason, hockey just finishing and basketball wrapping up it's playoffs, only baseball is left for sports fans to watch. Not to say that "America's Pastime" lacks entertainment value, but most consider this the hibernation season for sports.

However, there is plenty to look forward to once fall rolls around, particularly if you are a Miami sports fan. The Miami Dolphins have aggressively pursued new talent to improve the team for the 2010 season with Brandon Marshall and Karlos Dansby joining the Fins. At the same time, the Miami Heat have openly voiced their intentions to re-sign Dwyane Wade and revamp their roster with additional marquee players. And with the Florida Marlins still in reach of a playoff spot, anticipation of greater days are alive and strong in the South Florida sports community. In sum, Miami may be on the brink of it's best stretch of sports success across the board.

The emergence of Chad Henne and his newly acquired target, Marshall, could elevate the Dolphins to the next level in the NFL; The level of elite status. More importantly, Miami's young defensive core only has room to improve and could become a formidable defense in seasons to come. While the AFC East has become a three-team race, the Dolphins have a prime opportunity to recapture the division title. Last season they held a record of 3-1 versus the New England Patriots and New York Jets combined. In 2010, such a feat may be more difficult to attain, but still equally possible. Whether title aspirations are part of Miami's fate this season or not, there is no doubt that the Lombardi Trophy has just moved closer to home and within arm's reach for the Dolphins.

As for the Heat, the odds are in their favor this offseason as a tropical South Florida backdrop, superfluous cap space and Dwyane Wade stand in their corner for recruitment of a revamped roster. Pat Riley has built a championship caliber team once in Miami and will plan on doing so again in 2010. If the Heat secure another dominant athlete to line up next to Wade, along with a quality supporting cast, Miami will instantly improve their chances at a title. No longer will the Heat stop flat at a first round playoff exit. Knowing that Wade is entering his eighth NBA season, Miami's front office will look to build a roster with longevity - one that competes every single season. Unlike the 2006 Heat roster, there will not be a on-and-done cast in Miami. Riley understands that an offseason like this does not come around often and the time is now to build a dynasty in Miami.

To top that, the Marlins have maintained a core of young players with experience and All-Star resumes as they lunge towards a new home in Marlins Stadium. Realistically, a few more pieces could boost this team to playoff contention in the near future. Acquiring talent through their farm system, the Marlins have always built from the ground up rather than trading for older, more establish players. The perks of such strategy is a longer window of opportunity to make a title run. In the past, the two World Series Championship Marlins teams have been led by their solid pitching staffs. Today, Josh Johnson has firmly placed himself at the helm of the Marlins rotation followed by quality starters in Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad. It is the patchwork bullpen that has given Florida troubles this season, and will likely hold them back from playoff contention if no improvement comes soon. However, the MLB trade deadline and offseason could have something in store for the Fish in terms of better arms for relief. It was the trade for Ugeth Urbina in 2003 that solidified the Marlins bullpen. A similar trade could put the existing core of relievers in more defined roles, simplifying their jobs and taking some pressure of them. Once other teams begin to fear the Marlins' bullpen, then we will see a new reign in Miami.

Thus, the prospect of achieving championships this decade among the big three sports in Miami does not seem far-fetched at all. Boston, Massachusetts, had their run at being Titletown USA last decade. Now it's Miami's turn to make their run as the best sports city in the nation.

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