Play ball! Marlins lose opener, fans weigh big decision; plus Final Four poll (vote now), Dolphins confirm logo, Heat-Spurs, Creepy Easter Bunnies & more
1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 2. World's worst-kept secret confirmed: Dolphins made it official that this is the new logo. Had planned to reveal it coincidental with NFL Draft but it was out so why wait? 2) Sorry again about missing yesterday's live blog chat. We'll get back at it next Monday. 3) Hope y'all had a Happy Easter. See below for our special "Cavalcade of Creepy Bunnies." 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes out/March Madness, Brent Grimes, Riley rips Ainge, Marlins odds, Doug Gottlieb, Bosh's camel. 5) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.
Gratuitous April Fool's Joke: Ricky Williams records song!: Well there's no point in trying to sell this as real, given the date, technology like Shazam and the fact anybody listening to music in the '90s may know the song. But I'll be damned if the voice and trippy lyrics in THIS SONG don't sound like something Ricky Williams might do. So pass this along to any gullible friends. Enjoy.
PLAY BALL! MARLINS OPEN SEASON AT NATS: [Update: Marlins lose opener at Washington, 2-0, yesterday on a pair of Bryce Harper homers. Decent start by Ricky Nolasco but negligible offense against Stephen Strasburg]. The home opener isn't for a week, but Miami launches its 21st season at Washington, the new darling-favorite of the NL East and also seen as a stacked World Series contender. Quite a contrast to the young, low-payroll (again) Marlins. Click on They Make It Difficult for my Marlins season-preview column. Club president David Samson says he wishes Marlins fans would leave their anger behind and "just enjoy baseball again," as if the club's own actions with the latest fire-sale/payroll-slash hadn't fractured trust and made that so difficult. Having said that, spring is all about renewal (say the baseball poets), and Opening Day always sees the slate wiped, so let's try on a bit of optimism. Or at least benefit of doubt. Shall we? This is a time that challenges Marlins fans witha big decision: What does being a fan mean? My feeling always has been that a team is not its owner; a team is bigger. I think fans can think the worst of Jeffrey Loria and still support their team. I may be wrong. We'll see. For now, for better or worse, ready or not ... play ball!
FINAL FOUR SET! WHERE IS YOUR ROOTING INTEREST? VOTE NOW: Two by-seed upsets on Saturday and another in Sunday's first game left one Cinderella standing in the men's NCAA Tournament as it pared from eight teams to the Final Four. A synopsis of the Elite Eight games is below, but first, it's time to take sides. Which of the Final Four teams -- Louisville, Michigan, Syracuse or Wichita State -- will you be rooting for? Remember, this is not asking who you predict will win, but rather who you most want to win. Vote and say why:
Final Four odds: No surprises here. Courtesy Bovada, Louisville a prohibitive championship favorite at 2-3, followed by Michigan 3-1, Syracuse 17-4 and Wichita State 12-1.
Elite Eight results:
* No. 4 Michigan d. No. 3 Florida, 79-59;in Arlington, Tex. Florida was favored by 3 points in game of keen interest in Miami area because of slew of Gators alum down here and also the left-over animus toward UF from old days when Canes-Gators was bitter rivalry. Gators trailed 11-0 out the gate and never recovered, with Michigan solving a very good UF defense despite an off-game by Tim Hardaway's kid.
* No. 1 Louisville d. No. 2 Duke, 85-63; in Indianapolis, Ind. Louisville was favored by 3 1/2 points. It was 1 vs. 2 and Coach K vs. Rick Pitino. Don't get much better! Canes fans would have strong feelings watching Duke, UM's biggest ACC rival, while Pitino's son now coaches FIU. Cardinals won despite losing Kevin Ware to an ugly broken leg. Louisville will meet Michigan in one semifinal next week.
* No. 4 Syracuse d. No. 3 Marquette, 55-39; Orangemen used suffocating defense to vanquish the team that vanquished the Hurricanes. Even many 'Cuse fans think Jim Boeheim is an a--hole, but the man can coach. Orange will face Wichita State in the other semifinal and be favored.
* No. 9 Wichita State d. No. 2 Ohio State, 70-66; Wichita State led by 20 then held on to play March Madness' Last Cinderella Standing. And what were the odds that the biggest surviving surprise team of the tournament would be nicknamed Shockers? I mean, seriously.
National championships represented by Final Four teams: 4 -- 2 by Louisville (1986-80); 1 each by Syracuse (2003) & Michigan (1977); 0 by Wichita State.
TAKE THAT, SPURS! LEBRON, WADE SIT, HEAT WIN ANYWAY: Miami sat LeBron James and Dwyane Wade vs. Spurs Sunday but Heat won anyway on a last second shot by Chris Bosh. Turnabout was fair play. Remember when San Antonio controversially sat its stars for the game in Miami? The 27-game win streak was great. Won't retro-fit as meaningless just because it ended. But tonight felt like the game that would better indicate Miami's likelihood of repeating as champion. It's a very possible if not likely NBA Finals preview. It had been much anticipated. Heat had won three straight over Spurs so both teams would be looking to make a statement -- or so one might have thought. But Heat's lineup manuever changed everything. This makes that prospective NBA Finals matchup all the more interesting.
Two words for Herald's 'Heat 25' poll: Sammy Schulman!?: He is a Heat front-office executive, a background guy. Nothing against him personally. No doubt he does a great job. But he is an example of the pitfall in picking a franchise's 25 most influential figures on its 25th anniversary, as the Miami Herald is now doing with the Heat. We offer 46 candidates. There are 12 to 15 at most who are clearly deserving of this honor. There are an equal number who have no business being on the ballot. The top 10 in early voting, in order, are: Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Alonzo Mourning, Erik Spoelstra, Micky Arison, Tim Hardaway, Udonis Haslem, Shaquille O'Neal and Chris Bosh. You can vote here. Let's stuff the ballot for Sammy Schulman!!!
THE THREE TENORS? HOW ABOUT THE THREE COLUMNS!: I hit a trey in Sunday's newspaper and online. That's a rarity. 1) The regular Sunday notes column (click Random Evidence) leading with NCAA hoops. 2) A live column (click Serena's Reign) off Saturday's women's tennis final on Key Biscayne. And 3) a Marlins/baseball preview section column (click The Oddest Season) on how Miami opens its 21st season Monday surrounded by so much fan anger. I need a rest. (Well, except for blogging of course).
EASTER SPECIAL: CAVALCADE OF CREEPY BUNNIES!: I know this was a serious, joyous holiday for believers because Jesus rose from the dead. But since this is a blog and not a church, I figured I'd mark the holiday by picturing a few of the creepiest looking Easter bunnies I could find. Click on the photos for a larger view. Warning: They may haunt your dreams.
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...