Play ball! Who's your favorite Marlin? (with poll); plus UConn-Butler final, Wile E. Coyote, Heat, new Strikers, new Wonder Woman & more
[Sorry I was late getting this new blogpost out. I was off using the restroom. Hey if that excuse is good enough for LeBron James, it's good enough for me. By the way, join us at Twitter.com/gregcote].
MARLINS: UNDER THE RADAR, BUT A PLAYOFF SHOT: [Season begins with an exhilirating 6-2 victory for the Marlins. I propose in this column that Florida can contend for a wild-card spot this season, despite universal doubts. Hey, if you can't be optimistic on Opening Day...] Original post: It's Opening Night 2011 and Marlins hosting Bernie Madoff's Mets tonight to launch the club's 19th season and last in the old stadium. Hardly anybody gives the Marlins a playoff shot. Example: Of 45 ESPN.com "experts" asked to predict the division winners and wild-cards, this many had Florida in the postseason: Zero! I give the Marlins a shot if good health couples with several key guys meeting expectations and the bullpen being better as advertised. I do worry about the third base situation and a generally weak bench, but still predict the Marlins to be around an 85-win team with a wild-card shot. Click on The Prodigy for today's Marlins column by me on Mike Stanton. (Insider gripe: Can't believe my newspaper used Sony tennis over Marlins as the main display in today's Sports section. Really, really bad decision). Now take a dip in our poll. Let's play My Favorite Marlin (not to be confused with My Favorite Martian). By however you define "favorite," who's your pick among current players going in and why? I thought Hanley Ramirez might be the favorite going in but it appears some fan-unfriendly attitude issues last year, along with the departures of popular Dan Uggla and Cody Ross, have thrown the favorite-Marlin title wide open.
IT'S A UCONN-BUTLER FINAL TWO: Well I didn;t get what I wanted in last night's men's Final Four semifinal in Houston. My rooting interest was Virginia Commonwealth over Butler (a real Cinderella beating a fake Cindy), and Kentucky over UConn (a return to power over a program recently penalized for shady recruiting). Instead it was UConn, 56-55, and Butler, 70-62. And if you think the No. 3 seed Huskies vs. the No. 8 Bulldogs topped a lot of brackets, consider only 881 of 5.9 million brackets in ESPN's contest had this as the final game. This is the highest combined seed (11) and also the most combined losses (18) of any NCAA championship game. UConn is the favorite but I'll be rooting for the mid-major from the Midwest in Monday's crescendo.
OMG! SIMON COWELL BUYS DOLPHINS!!!: I love April 1st and the tradition of the "April Fool's joke" because we know it's coming, we see it coming, and yet it goes on, undeterred by blatant predictability. Latest example: This morning on the Paul & Young Ron Show on 105.9, in a pre-taped interview, Simon Cowell reveals he is buying the Miami Dolphins and the stadium from Stephen Ross. Actually I think the handoff between celebrity-obsessed owners might be pretty smooth. The station's producer called me yesterday and asked me to come on this morning and do a faux interview as if the news were true. I respectfully declined. I think the April Fool's stunt is perfect for radio -- especially those wacky morning zoo shows! -- but not something I'd like to be associated with, except in the following item, which is absolutely true and not in any way an April Fool's joke even though it's April 1st!!
RICKY WILLIAMS INTERVENES IN NFL LOCKOUT: Dolphins running back-for-now Ricky Williams (pictured practicing yoga) has been engaged as a mediator in the NFL labor discord between owners and players. Williams will use yoga, trance techniques, "holistic mind-healing" and if necessary perhaps the secret herbal contents of a small plastic baggie to bring the sides closer together, toward a state of love and harmony. "The key is to allow each side to see into the other's soul," said Ricky. "Of course that presupposes that Roger Goodell has a soul, but still."
ISIAH BEING ISIAH: Defrocked NBA'er Isiah Thomas, now FIU's basketball coach of course, is profiled in-depth (click here) in a new Foxsports.com piece I'd recommend. Thomas comes off a bit paranoid, as if everyone is conspiring to keep him out of the NBA. Representative quote, talking about playing-era rivals Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan: "If they were all my size, s---, they wouldn't even be talked about. Make them all 6-1 and let's go on the court."
VANILLA ICE UPDATE: Former or perhaps still parttime Miamian Vanilla Ice will appear England later this year as Captain Hook in a pantomime stage production of Peter Pan. Click No I'm NOT Lying for the story.
MY 'ROADRUNNER' FANTASY: As a kid watching, and loving, "The Roadrunner" cartoon (meep meep!), I used to root for poor, hapless Wile E. Coyote to finally catch the Roadrunner. I mean, couldn't something out of that damned Acme crate work just once!? Well, here's a linked mini-cartoon from the makers of "Family Guy," a spoof as brilliant and funny as you'd expect. Click on Roadrunner to see if my dream comes true. WARNING: It's adult-y. If a little cursing including a couple of cartoon f-bombs will offend you, please don't watch.
FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS, THE SEQUEL: The Strikers were pretty big down here, pre-Heat/Marlins/Panthers, circa 1977 to early '80s, when the NASL was semi-thriving. Well, they're back. Sort of. The former second-tier USL is calling itself the NASL now, and the Miami FC Blues have transmogrified into the new Fort Lauderdale Strikers and are playing at Lockhart Stadium beginning next week. Will it fly? Not if you compare it to the original, but otherwise, maybe. Pictured right is the original Strikers logo and, at left, the new team's logo.
HEAT KING-O-METER UPDATE: Latest update on our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking which of Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season. This is after 75 games, through last night's win at Washington: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 4,418.17 King points to 3,929.13 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. Wade leads in games led, 38-37, although LBJ has won three straight. (Regular updates whenever you see the crown symbol pictured).
Leaving you with a photo of Adrianne Palicki engaging in a bit of wardrobe adjustment as "Wonder Woman," the new NBC series now filming. Seems like they want a Lynda Carter clone. I prefer Palicki's natural blond hair. Can't complain too much, though. Click back. be adding more stuff to this new post later...
THE LIST: MARLINS' PRODUCTION MEN: Only five Marlins on seven occasions have had 100 runs and 100 RBIs the same season. The chronology:
1996 Gary Sheffield 118r, 120bi
2001 Cliff Floyd 123r, 103bi
2004 Miguel Cabrera 101r, 112bi
2005 Miguel Cabrera 106r, 116bi
2006 Miguel Cabrera 112r, 114bi
2009 Hanley Ramirez 101r, 106bi
2010 Dan Uggla 100r, 105bi