1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 19. This April's Giancarlo Stanton is the Stanton we've been waiting for. This is the Stanton, with a healthy career, who gets to Cooperstown. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat vs. past years poll, Yasiel Puig saga, local money list & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPECTATON FOR HEAT-CHARLOTTE SERIES?: I can't pretend. Won't construct false-drama by talking up Charlotte or reminding that upsets happen. Won't lie and tell you how worried the Heat are about Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. Um, Miami has beaten the Bobcats 16 games in a row and it's 4-0 this season by a combined 42-point margin. So, no, I do not expect a competitive series in the first-rounder that begins here Sunday at 3:30 to launch the Heat's run at a three-peat. No, Miami is not as good as last season, as I write in today's lastest column; click on Doubting the Champs to read. (Also see the poll results below). But LeBron in this season's four meetings scored 151 points -- including that 61-point game -- on 56-for-89 shooting. Charlotte has no answer for him. Chances are any doubts about Miami's ability to three-peat must wait at least until the second round. But enough of my jabberwocky. What is your realistic expectation for this series? Sweep? Competitive? Remember I'm asking not how you hope it'll turn out but how you'd honestly bet it will. Take a dip in our poll and say why.
Poll result: Heat isn't as good as past seasons: We asked and your verdict was clear. A majority of 57.9 percent think the Heat is not as good as the past two years, vs. only 5.3% who think this team is better. Other 36.8 percent thought this team is comparabale to the previous two.
JETS TAKING OFF. SHOULD DOLFANS BE WORRIED?: So the New York Stinkin' Jets add running back Chris Johnson on a two-year deal, balancing a retooled offense that previously added quarterback Mike Vick and receiver Eric Decker. I must say, a bad Jets offense doesn't seem so bad anymore. Johnson, at 29, isn't the runner or fantasy darling he was in rushing for 2,006 yards in 2009, but he's still very good when healthy, as last season's 1,422 for the Titans attests.
PLAYING AND PRAYING. WORD TO DABO SWINNEY: Many of you may know Dabo Swinney is the successful Clemson football coach. You may not know he also is devoutly religion, constantly references Jesus and Scriptures, organizes "Church Day" bus trips for his team, and sometimes pauses practices for prayer sessions. A Wisconsin non-profit group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has formally complained. My take: Swinney is free to believe what he wants as devoutly as he wishes, but he should separate that from his football role when with his team. Clemson hired a coach, not an evangelist. Since Clemson is a public university, the doctrine of separation of church and state also comes into play. Religious and political views are personal; when not, they are argument starters. Not saying Swinney is, but the devoutly religious often are anti-abortion and believe homosexuality is a sin. What if a coach who was open about such views had a quarterback who felt differently? What if the QB's brother was gay? There is a potential team divisiveness to what Swinney is doing beyond the other issues. Don't change what you stand for, my religious friends. Just don't wear Jesus on your sleeve at all times. I don't know or care if Canes coach Al Golden is Catholic, Baptist, agnostic or worships the devil, and his players shouldn't know, either. Likewise my kid shouldn't know if his math teacher is a staunch Democrat or hates Obama. It's all about context. Don't change who you are, Dabo, just dial it back. Compartmentalize. Praise Jesus as loudly as you wish on your own time. But on your team's time, just be a football coach.
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