The Miami Herald

Post-Heat is a ho-hum sports scene

How many weeks has it been? Two? Feels like two days.

Anybody else still in Heat Hangover? Even more so than 2006, the rest of this sports summer so far feels like the day after a humongous rave.

Can the local channels just replay the last seven Heat playoff games on a loop with each game preceded by the post-Big 3 signing celebration from 2010? What, reruns of shows we DVR’d if we wanted to see them in the first place, infomercials — or worse, The View and its rip-offs — count as superior programming?

I didn’t enjoy the Heat title run as a fan. You work in this business long enough, you stop being a fan. Not of the sport, but of individual franchises. This team, that team, shrug. I never get tired of seeing great athletes perform well or championships won and awarded.

Besides, I recall what one of my peers said the night of the 2006 conference championship games, after about 40 done-with-writing reporters refused to leave the TVs in Chicago’s Soldier Field press box until the New England-Indianapolis AFC title game finished.

Relieved at Indianapolis’ dramatic win, he said, “I want to see the narrative change.”

Like me, he wearied the simplistic “Peyton Manning can’t win the big one” storylines. Similarly, I got tired of “LeBron can’t win the big one.” I also found childish the strange enmity directed at employees who took control of their own careers in a way we all wish we could (envy?), superstars and role players who took less money to have team success together.

We used to understand great players could play for bad teams and good teams had role players who weren’t great players, but were just great at what they were asked to do. Instead, now, we yell, “How many titles did he win?” as if it’s changed that individuals win trophies, teams win championships. Three juggernauts in North American team sports — Jim Brown, Wilt Chamberlain and Mario Lemieux — were on five championship teams in a combined 41 seasons.

Anyway, now the narrative changes on LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Because Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, then Mike Miller threw it down when necessary.

So what now? A look over to that baseball team with the new roof sometimes over their heads provides little re-boost. All that money spent by everybody and the Marlins, our expected bridge from Heat heights to Dolphins regular season, sit at 38-42. That’s the same range they were in on this date last year (38-46), 2010 (37-43) and worse than this date in 2009 (41-40).

Maybe we just should’ve spent the money on a plumbing inspection of the Arsht Center.

Their closer, Heath Bell, to paraphrase Sheriff Buford T. Justice, can’t close an umbrella. Their ace, Josh Johnson, is pitching more like a four of clubs. Jose Reyes could have his worst batting average since becoming a big-league regular. Hanley Ramirez’s average would be his second-worst.

As a team, it’s ugly: 14th in National League hitting; 13th in on-base percentage; 11th in slugging percentage; 10th in fielding percentage; tied for the sixth-most errors in the NL; 12th in team ERA; 14th in total runs allowed; and tied for 10th in opposing batting average.

That’s offense and defense. No special teams in baseball.

Don’t talk to me about Dolphins training camp. I’ve seen too many practice phenoms and preseason one-game wonders to get a hop in my step about NFL football before Game 1 of 16.

Golf and auto racing claim some life as a couple of fan favorites recently won on their respective tours, Tiger Woods for the first time since before the last major, Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the first time since Bush.

Tiger’s playing like the best in the world again, yet without the cloak of inevitable superiority from before the turn of the decade (or the wrong turn in the Escalade). Now, he’s just another very good golfer who can win tournaments and contend in majors. Tiger’s closer to being Lee Westwood today than Tiger Woods 2K.

Still, the British Open could get me through a weekend.

Dale Jr.’s second in the Sprint Cup series standings, a points system that still treats winning as little better than hanging around and coming in 10th. Bully for him on the win at Michigan, but, so what? Unlike some racing enthusiasts, I don’t reflexively swoon over legacies be he an Andretti, a Hill, a Petty or an Earnhardt. After some exemplary seasons from 2002 to ’05, Dale Jr. won two points races in six-plus seasons before Michigan.

He’s an above-average driver with a legendary last name. Nothing much to see here you won’t see in another week. ...

Speaking of legacies, hello Zach Parise (son of 1970s NHL player J.P. Parise) and Ryan Suter (son of 1980 U.S. Olympian Bob Suter, nephew of longtime NHL player Gary Suter). I know I’m one of the few amused that on July 4, most of the hockey world awaited the decisions of two Americans, the most desired free agents on the market.

But that’s worth just a prideful chuckle to an old patriotic hockey fan.

I must have missed the Olympic Trials shaking out of hangover mode. That means there’s an Olympics this year. And in London, only five time zones away! Yea!

Come get me when those start. The sports electrolytes should be replaced by then.




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