DISHING SOME DIRT

For the most part, Dolphins players have expressed their public support for the Florida Marlins. But you can bet that most — if not all of the players and coaches — would have preferred the Marlins not advance this far into the baseball playoffs. The reason really shouldn't be that surprising.

Simply put, the players just do not like having to play at Pro Player Stadium with the dirt infield still in place.

And regardless of what happens in Wednesday's Game 7 of the NLCS between the Marlins and Chicago Cubs, the Dolphins will have to play one more game with it.

"We're happy for the Marlins, but we'll be happy to get off the dirt," said Coach Dave Wannstedt.

The Dolphins won't have to deal with the dirt in their next home game, Nov. 2 against the Colts, because the World Series will be over by then.

What's so bad about the dirt infield?

The most obvious is the footing, which isn't as good. It was poor footing, in fact, that caused long-snapper Ed Perry's season-ending knee injury in the preseason.

Then there's the issue of field goals, which are obviously a lot tougher to make from the dirt.

Wannstedt was asked whether the dirt would affect the Dolphins game plan.

"It does, but it's stuff I don't want to talk about in the papers," he said. "We do have a strategy on what we do on offense, defense and kicking. We feel like it is an advantage for us and therefore we don't want to talk about it publicly. We've had a lot of experience on it."

The Dolphins have done very well with the dirt, but one wonders whether that has to do with the Dolphins' ability to handle the dirt or the fact the games with the dirt infield are played in September and early October when the South Florida heat can wear down opponents.

The bottom line with all of this, however, is that the Dolphins can find some solace in the fact than their opponents aren't any happier about playing with the dirt infield than they are.

"It's definitely different," said Pats quarterback Tom Brady. "It's a little bit of an adjustment."


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