It's Super Saturday in South Florida sports! Here's why; plus Marlins growing pains evident as season starts (latest column), poll on your expectations for Fish, my NCAA bracket (updated) & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 30. It's Opening Week for the Marlins! 2) Happy to say Sarah Spain's That's What She Said podcast with me as guest made the national top 10 in Apple podcasts for the week. Check it out here. Thanks, Sarah! 3) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Chris Bosh's big night, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner, our NCAA bracket so far, your Heat playoff-opponent verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.
SUPER SATURDAY FOR SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS: We declare a Super Saturday! It's a great day to be a sports fan in Miami and South Florida. The big events, listed in order of my own interest level:
Florida Derby -- The biggest day of thoroughbred racing at Gulfstream Park includes the $1 million, Grade 1 Florida Derby, with post time expected around 6:30. Hidden Scroll is the betting favorite at 5-2, but right on his tail are Code of Honor (3-1), Bourbon War (7-2) and Maximum Security (9-2).
Elite Eight -- Gonzaga-Texas Tech tips at 6:09 and then Virginia-Purdue at 8:49. (What's with those nutty starting times, TV?) Does your bracket have much life in it or is it already busted beyond recognition?
Heat at Knicks -- Game tips at 7:30 with Miami trying to hang onto 8th and final East playoff spot. New York is god-awful (Welcome to the Garden, Zion Williamson), so this would be a really hurtful loss for Heat.
Colorado at Marlins -- After consecutive losses to open the season, Miami tries again for win No. 1 at 6:10, with Pablo Lopez on the hill. Bold prediction: Fish win!
Panthers at Boston -- Puck drops at 1 p.m. as Florida, eliminated from the playoff chase, plays out the string in a disappointing NHL season.
PLAY BALL! IT'S OPENING WEEK, BUT MARLINS START WITH CONSECUTIVE LOSSES: The Miami Marlins 27th season and Year 2 of the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter era began Thursday with a 6-3 home loss to Colorado and followed Friday with a 6-1 loss. Opener drew 25,423 -- a decent crowd, but a disappointment for Opening Day -- but last night's gate plummeted to an embarrassingly low 6,503. For my column from Marlins Park off Opening Day, please visit Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins. I happen to think the young, re-branding Marlins -- expected to be really bad -- will surprise and be better than you think. Not contending, but competitive. Not .500, but not 100 losses, either. The offense does not have enough big, run-producing bats (although JT Riddle, Neil Walker and Jorge Alfaro all hit solo homers in the opener), but I think the starting pitching could be pretty strong. I wrote about the ballpark changes and why this team could be easy to root for in my earlier season preview column. To read that one, please visit The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think. Do you feel the same? Set the bar on season expectations in this poll:
Our other most recent columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.
MY NCAA BRACKET: INTO ELITE EIGHT ROUND WITH CONFIDENCE: Men's NCAA Tournament enters the Elite Eight round this weekend and my bracket in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com is looking better. didn't get the four-game sweep it needed to start the Sweet 16 round. Went 3-for-4 last night with wins by Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky to jump up to 89th place in the 215-player pool -- still not great, but respectable, at least. And a chance to move up further, with five teams alive in the Elite Eight. Today I need Virginia and Gonzaga to win. Sunday I need Kentucky and Duke (although I also have Michigan State). I have Virginia winning it all. Only five of the 88 players currntly ahead of me also have the Cavaliers, so if they win it all I have a chance to rocket up the chart for maybe a top 10 finish. Gargantuan "if," of course.
APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose / NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.
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