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April 16, 2012

Should Spoelstra's job depend on Heat title? Vote (with poll); plus McShay on Canes in draft, Dolphins' easy schedule, Guillen returns, Panthers win, Stooges & more

1aa1dickclark[1) It is Thursday, April 19. R.I.P., Dick Clark (pictured), gone at 82, a major figure in the growth of American pop music culture. 2) Happy birthday, Charlie Chaplin. He'd have turned 123 this week. 3) This new project by Jack White looks interesting. In other music news, Tupac Rises From the Dead. 4) I think Bobby Valentine might be crazy. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click Moving Past Fidel for my Wednesday column off the Marlins game.

SHOULD SPOELSTRA'S JOB DEPEND ON HEAT WINNING TITLE THIS SEASON?: Here's a theory that is 1aa1eriksponot unreasonable. Last season was a mulligan. With all the turmoil and adjustments and intense scrutiny of Year 1 of the Big 3 era, reaching the NBA Finals and losing was acceptable. Not now. Now, in Year 2, winning it all is a must, or the Grand Plan will begin to feel like a disappointment and the idea of any sort of dynasty will feel like wishful thinking. Today's question (and poll): Should Erik Spoelstra's job depend on it? If you were Pat Riley, should you consider a coaching change if this season falls short again? Don't get me wrong. I think Spoelstra is a bright young coach. But is he the right coach to get the most out of this dream team? I'm not stirring up trouble here, just inviting a consensus. The poll results could be a vote of confidence for Spoelstra, I have no idea. So tell me, and tell each other. Vote now and say why. (And check back often to monitor evolving results. Close vote early on...).

1aa1dwtebowTEBOW BLESSES WADE: Heat star Dwyane Wade was blessed to be in the direct proximity of Jets quarterback Tim Tebow and his magical aura at Sunday night's Yankees game in Da Bronx (see photo), with both wearing matching NY caps given them by a PR hack. They began seated one row apart but ended up elbow to elbow, the suggestion of divine intervention. Yankees fan, who would boo a puppy on Christmas morning, booed when Tebow was shown. Wade too was understandably booed -- he'd help beat the Knicks hours earlier -- but turned the jeers to obedient, Pavlovian cheers when he held up the Yankees cap. Miami's win over the Knicks, a possible first-round playoff opponent, means the lurching, roller-coastering emotions of Heat fans are "up" again, pending the results of this Thursday's next game in the endless litmus parade, a homie vs. Chicago. Wait. I just noticed that in the photo Wade and Tebow's sleeves appear to be touching, a direct contact that Biblical scholars say is tantamount to a poor man's Papal blessing.

Click on Jeff Van Ranty for a video of Jeff Van Gundy's comically irate rant against a "flop" by the Heat's James Jones during yesterday's Knicks game. The cartoon-y outrage starts about 30 seconds in.

1aa1ozfidelAS MARLINS RETURN TO THE LAND OF OZ, HERE IS A PHOTOSHOPPED PICTURE OF FIDEL CASTRO EMBRACING OZZIE GUILLEN. IT'S FAKE! IT NEVER REALLY HAPPENED! IT ISN'T MEANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!:[Marlins beat Cubs last night, 5-2, on 3-run Hanley Ramirez homer in 8th]. Well I just found this photo funny and thought you might, too. (OK, not all of you). The Blizzard Of Oz returned tonight from his five-game suspension for comments favorable to Fidel. I hoped the baseball action inside the ballpark vs. the Cubbies was more interesting than any demonstrative action outside the gates, and it was. No protests and a big home win. Good combo. (In other Marlins news, a dead bird fell in the outfield to spark Sunday's home rally over Houston. National NBA writers are trying to figure a way to blame the bird's death on LeBron James).

Click HERE for 3-minute sneak preview of Showtime's "The Franchise" summer reality series starring the Marlins. (About 40 seconds in, the handsome guy in the red ballcap is Herald beat writer Clark Spencer).

DOLPHINS COULD GO 11-5. NO, SERIOUSLY!: I have scrutinized the Dolphins' schedule, out last evening, and I count 11 very winnable games. I would not fool you about a subject this grave. My very winnable games, in sequence: Sep. 16 vs. Raiders; Sep. 23 vs. Jets; Sep. 30 at Cardinals; Oct. 7 at Bengals; Oct. 14 vs Rams; Nov. 4 at Colts; Nov. 11 vs. Titans; Nov. 15 at Bills; Nov. 25 vs. Seahawks; Dec. 16 vs. Jaguars; and Dec. 23 vs. Bills. One other quick observation: 1) No Monday night games and only one in prime-time (a Thursday).

PANTHERS END 15-YEAR NHL PLAYOFF HEX, WIN STUNNER AT JERSEY: I can get jaded, so I must admit it was special being in the Sunrise icebarn Sunday night as the Panthers won a playoff game for the first time since 1997, powered (fittingly) by two goals from Stephen Weiss, the club's all-time games-played leader appearing in his first Stanley Cup playoffs. Click on Weiss' Perfect Smile for my column off that game. Cats also rather stunningly took Game 3 last night at NJ, rallying from a three-goal hole to a 4-3 win and 2-1 series lead. It was Florida's first playoff road win since Game 7 of the '96 conference finals. Rats redux?

McSHAY ON UM DRAFT PROSPECTS: ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay did a national media conference call yesterday. Here is his response (condensed) to a question about Miami Hurricanes draft prospects:

Question: This year they're saying possibly nine guys could be drafted, maybe more. Other than Lamar Miller, out of the guys going early, Tommy Streeter, Olivier Vernon, Brandon Washington, Marcus Forston and Lamar, who are the ones that have the most potential. And will Jacory Harris be drafted? 

Answer: "Jacory, I doubt it.  He played better this past year, but the inconsistency jumps out, and the turnovers and just not protecting the football.  He's still kind of slight-framed and there are durability concerns.  But he has enough arm talent, so it's not to say he won't one day land on a roster if he's able to continue to develop. Nine guys from Miami, I have to count.  Travis Benjamin I would say yes, that's one. Chase Ford has a chance late as a sleeper. LaRon Byrd is in that same category -- there's a chance, but I'm not saying he really has a good chance to get drafted. I would take a chance on him in the last couple rounds. Marcus Forston makes it two (who'll be drafted); Lamar Miller, three; Adewale Ojomo is kind of on the fringe; Sean Spence is five; Streeter, six; Vernon, seven; Washington, eight.  So you could see as many as nine guys going.  It wouldn't shock me. But I probably a safe bet is seven. Olivier Vernon of all those guys after Miller is the most intriguing to me. Tommy Streeter there's a lot of interest because of the height, weight and speed, and certainly he's a great athlete and has more potential than we've seen him do at Miami, but the tape just doesn't match up with what I see. I would have a hard time drafting him in the first four rounds, even though there's a strong chance he goes somewhere in that third or fourth-round range. But Vernon, I think he's a better player than maybe the perception, and at 6'3", 262, I think he played end, can play outside linebacker, can do a little of both. He's not a great athlete, and his production didn't always match up, and I've heard some things -- is he mature enough, how does he work and all those things.  But if he is focused and doing the right things and 100 percent dedicated, he's well built, solid, strong, shows some quickness, and has a chance to make an impact as a pass rusher at the next level."

FACE OF THE DOLPHINS: JAKE LONG: (Dolphins, why the Long face?) Thus concludes our blog's Face of 1aa1jlongthe Franchise trilogy. We began with the Marlins and Ozzie Guillen (pre-Fidelgate) edged Hanley Ramirez. Continued with the Heat and of course Dwyane Wade dominated. The Dolphins vote to me was much less predictable and in a close tally in the previous blogpost the tackle Long edged running back Reggie Bush 23.9 percent to 22.3, with GM Jeff Ireland third among nine choices with 14.7. Poll analysis: I think y'all made a solid, justifiable choice in Long. But I also think your Face of the Franchise being an offensive tackle is accurately indicative of a faceless, star-challenged team.

1aa1miamisolSHENISE JOHNSON SETS UM DRAFT RECORD: Hurricanes' Shenise Johnson was drafted fifth overall this week by San Antonio in the WNBA Draft, highest ever for a UM woman. (Tamara James was taken eighth overall in 2006). Canes teammate Riquna Williams drafted 17th overall (fifth in second round) by Tulsa. Much will be expected; Tulsa's record last season was 3-31. Pictured, as a gesture of silent mourning, the logo of the Miami Sol, our short-lived WNBA franchise from 2000-02. 

1aa1poor pennyPOOR PENNY CARSON: I just saw Poor Penny Carson, the intersection preacher with the dummy (pictured), at the intersection of University Drive and Peters Road in Plantation. I believe he is a celebrity of sorts among intersection preachers with dummies. Google Poor Penny Carson to see what I mean.

1aa1victoriaVICTORIA'S SECRET MARLINS STUFF NO LONGER A SECRET: Vicoria's Secret model Elsa Hosk stopped by Miami's Dolphin Mall to model the chain's new line of Marlins-related stuff. Here's Elsa now looking unbearably perky-cute.

ON JACKIE ROBINSON: I admire Jackie Robinson, baseball's color-barrier breaker, and like that MLB honors him every year (as it did again Sunday). But every player on every team wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day is overkill and a bit silly, not to mention confusing. Who's gonna say it if not me?

FIU MINES THE BLOODLINES: FIU has replaced sh--canned basketball coach Isiah Thomas with Richard Pitino, 29, the son of accomplished Louisville coach Rick Pitino. That's on the heel of FIU's hiring of new soccer coach Kenny Arena, son of former U.S national coach Bruce Arena. In other FIU news, football coach Mario Cristobal is given 5-1 odds by Bovada to replace fired Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. Only Gus Malzahn (5-2), Garrick McGee (3-1) and Skip Holtz (7-2) are speculated as more likely replacements. FIU loves Cristobal despite his not being the son of a famous coach.

1aa1chadgaudinVOLUPTUOUS ATHLETE WIVES (one in a series): Meet Syndal Gorden, pictured right, former star of a reality TV series about wedding dresses and married to Marlins relief pitcher Chad Gaudin. When Chad has a bad day on the mound, these mounds are where he finds relief. Can I say that in a blog? (I guess I can!) 

TITANIC, FENWAY CENTENNIALS: The RMS Titanic sank 100 years ago Sunday. Fenway Park opened 100 years ago this coming Friday. Coincidence?

1aa1threestoogesTHE THREE STOOGES: Fresh light shines on the slapstick group The 1aa1iggystoogeThree Stooges thanks to the eponymous new movie. Moe, Curly and Larry are pictured at left. (Quick shout-out to Shemp as well. Nyuk, nyuk). The group's heyday was before my time and I was never a huge fan, but I do think they were underappreciated and am glad for the new film. Of course the other famous Stooges were the punk band fronted by Iggy Pop. Saw Iggy at the Cameo Theater on Miami Beach years ago, once owned a "Lust For Life" T-shirt, and always loved the poster at right incongruously combining Stooges.

1aa1mittromneyPOLITICAL QUESTION...: Question: Is it possible that American politics would ever discover a major presidential candidate who was more robotic and less life-like than even Al Gore? Answer: See right.

Click back. Will be updating and adding to this latest blogpost...

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