[Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. Note: Jeffrey Loria poll still accepting votes in blogpost directly below this].
[BULLETIN: Heat reach 2011 NBA championship without playing game: So says ESPN panel of 93 experts. Picks for Eastern Conference champ: Heat 66 votes, Magic 16, Celtics 10, Bulls 1].
APOLOGIZE NOW, MARLINS, OR P.R. MESS WILL LINGER: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, or club president David Samson (pictured) on his behalf, need to make an unequivocal public apology for this financial scandal -- this mess of their own creation. Let's make it clear. The issue and wrongdoing here isn't that someone leaked private financial statements. The issue and wrongdoing is that the information in those statements clearly means the Marlins have been lying about the team's profitability. They have broken the public trust. The lying to fans wrongly justified years of low payrolls. The lying to the city and county wrongly was a basis of the club's advantageous stadium deal, at taxpayer expense. (Click on Crying Poor With Pockets Full for my Tuesday column. Click here for an outside view appearing today on Yahoo!.com). Fans are entitled to their anger, and to mistrust this regime and think less than ever of Loria, and they do, based on my blog poll in the post directly below this that shows around 75% of fans call Loria a bad or terrible owner. (Voting continues). Local government also is entitled to be furious that the Marlins cried poor in 2008 during stadium negotiations even as they were making about $38 million profit that year. "They took us for a ride," says Miami-Dade commissioner Carlos Giminez. There is no undoing what has been done. But an apology by the Marlins is needed. No matter the new stadium in 2012 and no matter the team on the field, plenty of fans cannot bring themselves to support Loria and Samson -- now more than ever. Healing is needed. A public apology by this ownership would be a start. [Note: Samson appeared on 790 The Ticket this evening. I expected dodging and spinning, but no apology. Unfortunately, I was not disappointed]. Thursday evening update: Now even Miami mayor Tomas Regalado is saying the city and county were "misinformed" as to the Marlins' financial state during stadium negotiations.
PATS, JETS STILL HOLD TALENT EDGE OVER DOLPHINS: Scouts Inc. lists the top 200 best NFL players for ESPN.com -- not a fantasy list, but best overall. Peyton Manning was highest-rated with 95 points, while the players barely making the top 200 were at 77 points. I broke the list down into AFC East teams with these results:
PATRIOTS (9 players listed, 759 combined points) -- QB Tom Brady 93 points; WR Randy Moss 89; NT Vince Wilfork 89; WR Wes Welker 87; G Logan Mankins 85; DL Ty Warren 82; S Brandon Meriweather 78; C Dan Koppen 78; and LB Jerod Mayo 78.
JETS (7 players, 588 points) -- CB Darrelle Revis 93 points; C Nick Mangold 91; DT Kris Jenkins 86; LB David Harris 81; CB Antonio Cromartie 80; WR Santonio Holmes 79; and LB Bart Scott 78.
DOLPHINS (5 players, 423 points) -- LT Jake Long 89 points; WR Brandon Marshall 88; LB Karlos Dansby 85; RT Vernon Carey 82; and DT Randy Starks 79.
BILLS (1 player, 79 points) -- WR Lee Evans 79 points.
NFL WEIGHS 18-GAME SCHEDULE: League meets this week with agenda including debate whether to increase from a 16-game to an 18-game regular season. Argument for: TV and most owners are for it because less of the boring stuff (two fewer exhibition games) and more of the good stuff means added revenue. (Commish Roger Goodell hopes to switch to 18 by 2012). Argument against: It would mess with stats and records, coaches think they need the four preseason games, and players worry about added risk of injury. I tend to favor sticking with 16 but don't feel real strongly. You? Take a dip in our poll.
CAMARILLO TRADE SMART FOR DOLPHINS: Gone to the Vikings today: Greg Camarillo, the team's fourth WR, opening a roster spot for Patrick Turner. Arrived from Minnesota: Cornerback Benny Sapp (pictured), a veteran who'll add stability behind young starters Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, especially with Will Allen out. Smart deal for Miami. (By the way, click on This One (Sort Of) Counts for my latest column, on why Friday's third Dolphin exhibition game matters).
CURRENT CANES ON DRAFT WATCH-LIST: NFLDraftBible.com previews the 2011 draft (never too soon!) and lists only three offensive Miami Hurricanes among the top 20 prospects at their positions: seniors Graig Cooper (10th RB) and Orlando Franklin (11th OT), and junior Jacory Harris (12th QB).
TIGER/ELIN DIVORCE UPDATE: As best I can determine, Elin gave an interview to People magazine in which she revealed being saddened by the divorce, and Tiger responded in an interview by saying he understood her sadness and was, in fact, also sad. Updates as warranted.
MARIOTTI COPSHOT; We seldom see a flattering police mugshot, and I would say busted journalist Jay Mariotti (right) is no exception. Unless he meant to look as if he were gathering ammunition to spit.
LIST: BEATLES SONGS: Rolling Stone's top 10 Beatles songs, from its new coffee-table book on the group's 100 greatest songs of all-time:
1. A Day In The Life
2. I Want To Hold Your Hand
3. Strawberry Fields Forever
5. In My Life
7. Hey Jude
8. Let It Be
9. Come Together
10. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
My comment: Fairly wimpy list. Lots of soft 'n slow.