What a contrast in baseball we see right now, nationally with the delightfully unpredictable playoffs underway, and locally with the frightfully abysmal Marlins weighing whether to fire manager Ozzie Guillen as a penance. The postseason is full of feel-good, but the only feel-good here is that fans put out of their misery can feel good they no longer are subjected to the Marlins being shut out or blowing late leads.
The best stories in sports are about underdogs who remind us anything is possible, and four of those stories jumped into this 10-team postseason:
The Orioles, shedding 14 consecutive losing seasons to get into Friday’s wild-card game
The Reds, trying to bring Cincinnati its first baseball championship in 22 years
The Nationals, who would bring World Series games to Washington for the first time since 1933
And maybe most of all the A’s, who overcame a 13-game deficit to Texas, never led their division outright until the final day of the season, and made it this far with a .239 team batting average and a roster of rookies and rejects comprising the second-lowest payroll in MLB.
Meanwhile, the big-money Marlins fizzled to a 69-93 last-place finish in what had been a season of high expectations in the first year of the new ballpark.
I don’t wanna say Miami was woefully weak offensively, but Adam Greenberg, the guy they gave the one at-bat to (he struck out), ended the season as the team’s third-leading hitter.
The club announced that Marlins Park next month would host an international soccer friendly between Venezuela and Nigeria. Perfect. No ballpark is more accustomed to hardly any scoring.
Postscript: As Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria weighs whether to fire Guillen, we might note that two of his previously fired managers here, Joe Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez, both made the playoffs.
Wonder if Loria has ever wished baseball had do-overs?• Did you hear? A focus group comprised of former NFL replacement officials watched the first Barack Obama/ Mitt Romney presidential debate and awarded the victory to Seattle.
• As Loria mulled Guillen’s future, the Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine. Wait. Uh oh. Don’t go there, Jeffrey. Do not even go there!
• The Dolphins signed Jabar Gaffney to replace Legedu Naanee. Naanee was the only receiver in the NFL with more vowels than catches.
• Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face each other atop Sunday’s NFL marquee. At the far opposite end of the QB scale, Jets coach Rex Ryan decided to stick with struggling Mark Sanchez after watching Tim Tebow try to throw a football.
• You had a bad week? Could have been worse. You could have been on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
• No. 10 Florida hosted No. 4 LSU on Saturday. I tell you those damned Gators will do anything to steal the spotlight from Miami, won’t they?
• FIU, preseason Sun Belt favorite, fell to 1-5 on Thursday night. Panthers are now frontrunner to take home the Marlins Cup as South Florida’s most disappointing team.
• In other college football news, West Virginia QB Geno Smith awakened today in Morgantown and passed for 579 yards and six TDs during breakfast.
• Shawn Eichorst left his job as UM athletic director for Nebraska after only 17 months here, most of it spent not talking to the media because of the NCAA probe. Hey, nice not knowin’ you, Shawn!
• Ongoing NHL lockout has now erased the first two weeks of the regular season. I hear there’s been a major development, though. Owners and players agreed Friday that fans have every right to be angry.
• Heat players are to visit the Great Wall of China while there for two exhibitions this week. Just once — once! — I’d like famous visitors to say, “Nah, no interest,” and eschew the rote Great Wall photo op.
• Charles Barkley said he thinks LeBron James could be better than Michael Jordan. You ever notice that Barkley periodically seems to say things just to say things?
• The NBA is cracking down on players flopping. Too bad golf didn’t crack down on the U.S. Ryder Cup team flopping against Europe.
• Shaquille O’Neal called Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez better pure centers than Dwight Howard, to which Howard told Shaq to be quiet. I haven’t found Dwight this likable in years!
• The WNBA playoffs have reached the conference finals, with the Miami Sol up two games to one in the East. (Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.)
• A dog grabbed Paul Casey’s golf ball in its mouth off the 12th green at a tournament in Scotland. Does that qualify as playing out of the ruff?
• The Fort Lauderdale Strikers failed to advance to the NASL semifinals, disappointing both fans.
• I’m grappling with which is sadder: That financially strapped Curt Schilling might have to sell his famous bloody sock. Or that somebody out there will want to buy a bloody sock.
• One comment on the ESPN documentary Broke: Is there anyone who inspires less sympathy than a professional athlete who blows his millions on stupid, extravagant spending?
• Parting thought: Told you last week about the Miami Spice of the planned Bikini Basketball Association. If teams in that league have a merchandise sale and the signs read, “All Our Clothing 75 Percent Off” — they mean it.
Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com, watch video commentaries at YouTube/TheGregCote and follow on Twitter @gregcote.