In My Opinion

Marlins’ return good news, Loria’s return bad news

 

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Today: Marlins’ home runs on Opening Day at home. The Marlins have hit 19 home runs in 21 home openers. The five times the team hit more than one in a home opener:

Year Home runs Batters
2011 2John Buck, Logan Morrison
2009 4 Jorge Cantu, Jeremy Hermida, Emilio Bonifacio, Hanley Ramirez
2001 2 Eric Owens, Cliff Floyd
1998 2 Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson
1995 2 Terry Pendleton, Jeff Conine

Note: Pendleton’s homer in 1995 was club’s first one in a home opener. Only Marlins grand slams in a home opener have been by Juan Encarnacion in 2005, Ramirez in ’09 and Buck in ’11.


What South Florida sports fans are talking about:

1. MARLINS

Miami, Major League Baseball open 2014 season: MLB opens Sunday with Dodgers at Padres but the main Opening Day is Monday, with Miami launching its 22nd season and third at Marlins Park against Colorado. MLB this year will debut expanded instant replay. If the Marlins are as bad as last year, seeing them once will be plenty, thanks.

2. NCAA BASKETBALL

Sunday brings March Madness to Final Four: Well, the wild and crazily upset-laden men’s NCAA Tournament has gone from the Surreal 68 to Sumptuous 64 to Thrilling 32 to Sweet 16 to Elite Eight to Sexy Six, and now, Sunday brings us — finally! — to the Final Four. Quick question: When Warren Buffett saves $1 billion, does he even notice?

3. HEAT

Loss at Indiana makes hopes for No. 1 playoff seed appear bleak: The NBA’s best bitter rivals meet again in Miami on April 11, but last week’s 84-83 Pacers win in Indiana likely consigned Miami to No. 2 conference playoff seed. The inevitable postseason rematch should be deliciously brutal. Court? Pacers and Heat should meet in an octagon.

4. DOLPHINS

Team lands running back Moreno in free agency: Critics say Knowshon Moreno was a disappointment before last season, when he rode Peyton Manning’s coattails in Denver. Optimists might counter that numbers don’t lie: 1,038 yards rushing, 60 catches for 548 yards, and 13 TDs. Meet in the middle: He ain’t Barry Sanders. But he is an upgrade.

5. TENNIS

Sport’s “fifth major” wraps up annual run on Key Biscayne: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are headed for the men’s championship Sunday, and Serena Williams was a heavy favorite in the women’s final Saturday. More than 300,000 spectators flocked to Key Biscayne the past two weeks, none surprised by the sport’s predictability.

gcote@MiamiHerald.com

Baseball is back, and there is good news and bad news for Marlins fans as the franchise opens its 22nd season here Monday night.

The good news: The Marlins replaced their old grass, with the ballpark ditching the Bermuda 419 in favor of far superior Platinum TE Paspalum.

The bad news: The Marlins did not replace their old owner. It’s still Jeffrey Loria.

Dolphins legend Dan Marino will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday. “Too bad he can’t throw out the owner!” sang a Marlins fan chorus.

There actually were reports Heat owner Micky Arison is interested in buying the Marlins but that Loria won’t sell. The Marlins’ marketing theme this season is, “Dream Big Miami.” Well, I can tell you Miami did dream big, but it didn’t come true. Loria still wouldn’t sell.

I pick on Loria for past sins such as extreme cheapness and promise-breaking, but, in fairness, I would point out that the controversial November 2012 fire-sale trade with Toronto has worked out in Miami’s favor, and that Loria seems to be meddling less.

If this keeps up, I’ll have to shift my needling from Loria to club president David Samson.

Samson is a multitasker. He’s a film expert, a marathon runner and a triathlete. He appeared this season on TV’s Survivor, has written a play and is currently acting in a local theater production.

I know I speak for Marlins fans in thanking Samson for also running the Marlins, time permitting.

• The National Labor Relations Board approved allowing Northwestern football players to unionize as NCAA and other private schools such as Miami closely monitor what’s next. Wildcat players were thrilled … until being told this could mean paying taxes on scholarships. Welcome to the real world, kids!

• Northwestern QB Kain Colter was the force behind the union push and NLRB ruling. Hmm. Maybe if Colter had spent less time reading legal briefs and more time reading defenses, the Wildcats wouldn’t have ended last season with seven consecutive losses.

• Cairo Prince went off the favorite in Saturday’s Florida Derby, a signature race at Gulfstream Park since 1952. This is a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby, when race fans begin to dream about the end of the long Triple Crown drought even knowing their hopes will be crushed.

• The Panthers, who last won an NHL playoff series in 1996, fired assistant general manager Mike Santos. Yep, that should solve everything!

• New Knicks president Phil Jackson is engaged to Lakers prez Jeanie Buss. I’m not sure this will work. The Knicks just acquired Pau Gasol in exchange for Jackson promising to leave the toilet seat down.

•  Chris Bosh celebrated his 30th birthday by renting out Marlins Park for an elaborate carnival featuring Cirque du Soleil performers. Wouldn’t it be great if — just once — a Heat star celebrated his birthday with an ice cream cake from Publix?

•  Marc Hochman debuts his 3 p.m.-to-7 p.m. show on WQAM on Tuesday. Hoch is best known for creating “Mount Rushmore.” Not his top-four radio gimmick. I mean the mountain in South Dakota.

• NFL owners met and voted to penalize dunking over crossbars and to raise the height of uprights by 5 feet. In other words, owners accomplished less in three days in Orlando than a family of tourists at Disney World.

• The higher-uprights idea was a suggestion of Bill Belichick’s. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin also had a proposal — that Tom Brady immediately retire — but unfortunately it did not pass.

• After 41 years in Tampa, the American Invitational of equestrian show-jumping comes to Miami and Dolphins stadium on Saturday. Am told the winning horse will get a tryout at right tackle on the Dolphins’ depleted offensive line.

• The Dolphins report season-ticket sales and renewals are up 12 to 14 percent. Bullygate: Good for business! Well, except for the business of being Richie Incognito.

•  Michael Vick signed with the Jets. Geez, and he thought dog fighting was bad for his career!?

• The Canes played the first of three spring football scrimmages Saturday, with Ryan Williams homing in on the QB job. Coach Al Golden has no NCAA cloud this year, no controversies. How splendidly boring!

•  Tiger Woods’ readiness for The Masters remains in doubt because of a sore back. Doctors have advised Tiger to rest and avoid heavy lifting and tall blondes.

• Answer: Michael Phelps is about to announce his comeback and plans to swim in his fifth Olympics in 2016 at age 31. Question: Can something sound like good news and a bad idea all at once?

• News item: Matt Every won last week’s PGA Tour event. “Hey do you know who ended up winning?” “Yeah, Every won.” “No, I mean which player won?” “Every won!”

• News item: John Huh won PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2012. “Huh?” “Yes.” “Who?” “Huh!”

• Manhattan College basketball coach Steve Masiello could be dismissed over the lack of a college degree. OK, Masiello has no degree and the Manhattan athletic director failed Resume Checking 101. Call it even!

•  Parting thought: Anybody else getting tired of constantly hearing how charismatic and sexy David Beckham is? I wish my wife would give it a rest already!

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

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