This wasn't supposed to be the Atlanta Braves' year. They didn't have the bats, they didn't have the bullpen, and as they sat near the bottom of the standings early in the season, pundits patted one another on the back for predicting the fall of their dynasty.
The reports of their demise would prove to be dramatically premature.
Going into the last series of the season, Atlanta finds itself on top of the division for the 14th consecutive year, proving there are only three certainties in life -- death, taxes, and the Braves' winning the National League East. This is the last weekend of the regular season at Dolphins Stadium (2269 NW 199th St., Miami), as the Braves battle the Florida Marlins in a three-game set. For the Braves, the series will act as a tune-up for their annual playoff collapse, a feat only slightly less predictable than grabbing the division crown.
Meanwhile, if the Marlins want to hang on to their slim playoff hopes, they'll need a series sweep, plus a little help from the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals, who play wild-card leaders Houston and Philadelphia, respectively. Marlins-Braves tickets start at $8. Call 305-623-6100, or visit www.floridamarlins.com. -- Paul A. Leone
Have some funyon on Munyon
Does the welcome sign for Florida say, "Give me your freaks, your con artists, your eccentric masses?" As far back as 1884, a man known only as "Rodgers" made his home on a little island in the Intracoastal Waterway, according to the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management. He lived in a tent and made a living selling sea turtles. He flipped the property to a couple who grew 28 species of fruit; they then sold the island to a Dr. James Munyon, who built a hotel to house rich, ailing Northerners. He'd tell them to soak in his "Fountain of Youth" and drink "Dr. Munyon's Paw-Paw Elixir" -- basically, fermented papaya juice. Nowadays, Munyon Island makes up 45 luscious acres of John D. MacArthur State Park. Sunday, kayak around the sandy mound and check out the flora and fauna. The tour costs $48. Call 561-881-9757, or visit www.visitpalmbeach.com. -- Deirdra Funcheon
Beware of butt-ending
Global warming has certainly dashed any dreams of our children learning to skate on frozen lakes in Florida, but we do have heavily air-conditioned ice rinks to inspire youngsters to check a Canadian against the glass. Yes, hockey is back, and Coach Jacques Martin is ready to lead the Florida Panthers through a long and (we hope) winning season. If you can't make it to Thursday's game at 7 p.m. against the Carolina Hurricanes, you can watch the Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at 1 p.m. Sunday. The puck will fly at the BankAtlantic Center (1 Panther Pkwy., Sunrise). Call 954-835-7825, or visit www.flpanthers.com. -- Lyssa Oberkresser
Did Someone Say Hayride?
There are still 29 days until you OD on candy corn, so get an early fix of autumn spirit by OD'ing on nature with a Sunset Adventure Tour. Giddy on up to Markham Park (16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise) for a guided tour of the grounds, canoe rental, a campfire, treats, and a hayride. It costs $10 for adults, $7 for kids. Register by calling 954-375-3755, ext. 230. -- Deirdra Funcheon