L eBron James recently said the Heat does not have what he would call a true rival. University of Miami fans might call Florida State their biggest. Panthers have none in hockey that jump out. I’d ask about the choice in baseball (here comes a blatant cheap shot) if I could find any Marlins fans.
Clearly, in South Florida sports, the one undisputed, enduring king rivalry is Dolphins-Jets — so how fitting that the NFL regular season would end Sunday with Miami in a must-win-that-actually-is against the Stinkin’ Jets. And with dastardly Rex Ryan wanting nothing more than for New York to play Grinch in the Dolphins’ own stadium.
Miami, of course, must win Sunday and then have either the Ravens lose or the Chargers win to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
That makes this 97th all-time meeting between the bitter rivals only their fourth game with must-win, elimination stakes, by my count. They met in the 1982 AFC Championship Game, their only playoff, won by Miami 14-0. They met in the 1991 season finale, a 23-20 overtime loss when a win would have earned Miami a wild-card berth. They met in the 2008 season finale, a win for the division title when a loss would have left Miami out of the playoffs even at 10-6. Now, Sunday.
So either extreme is assured:
The Dolphins will make the playoffs and have the joy accentuated by the trampling of the Jets to do it.
Or Miami will fall short, the pain all the worse for Jets fans’ cheering.
People always ask me why I love sports. I don’t always have a ready answer but I think I do now:
Dolphins-Jets, Sunday.• An early Happy New Year’s, everybody, and thanks for reading! Hope you’ve had a nice holiday season. We’re big on tradition at my house. For example, this was the 15th Christmas in a row I didn’t tell my mother I haven’t worn a size-medium dress shirt since high school.
• The Orange Bowl Classic is in five days and soon after the Jan. 6 Florida State-Auburn national championship. It’s 15 bowls down and 20 to go. I want to meet the fan who is watching all 35 bowl games on TV. And have him committed.
• The Florida Panthers, after winning five in a row, had lost two in a row by a combined 11-3 score entering Saturday’s game against Detroit, and stood 14th of 16 teams in their conference. Cats fans set an NHL record for shortest bout of playoff fever.
• Big week for Dwyane Wade, leading the Heat past the Lakers on Christmas and announcing he and Gabrielle Union would marry. The diamond on her engagement ring is the size of my first apartment.
• Wade’s giving mood continued with his Christmas gifts to teammates. He gave everybody a Masters-style green jacket. Nobody is sure why.
• That reminds me. LeBron in a new Samsung commercial displays a golf swing that is clumsy and awful. So it can now be said: I am as good as LeBron James at something athletic.
• I know it’s been somewhat boring, Canes basketball fans, but hold on a bit longer. Starting in six days, UM’s men play three in a row at No. 2 Syracuse, at No. 19 North Carolina and at home against rival FSU.
• FIU men’s basketball hosted defending champion and sixth-ranked Louisville. That’s like me hosting the Pulitzer Prize selection committee.
• Joe Theismann said he believes the Redskins nickname honors American Indians. Most impressively, he said it with a straight face.
• It was reported that two early-1990s Houston Oilers players were gay and that no one cared. Hmm. So why do we apparently care enough that it’s news 25 years later?
• The U.S. Soccer Federation is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Tell you what. Let’s start the real party when the USSF finally fields a men’s team that wins a World Cup.
• I don’t wanna say this year’s Orange Bowl International junior tennis tournament has been going on a long time, but all the players are now adults.
• Skier Lindsey Vonn said an injured knee wouldn’t keep her from the Sochi Olympics. That’s good. I already bet the “over” on TV screen shots of cheering boyfriend Tiger Woods.
• Navy has now beaten Army 12 consecutive times in football. I think in next year’s meeting, Army should be permitted selective drone strikes.
• Robinson Cano said the Yankees showed him a lack of respect with an offer of only $175 million. Get in line if you’d love to be disrespected that much.
• Somebody paid $104,765 at an auction for the “flu game” sneakers Michael Jordan wore in the 1997 NBA Finals. Somebody else paid $10,877 for David Ortiz’s beard clippings. What I’ll do with all that, I have no idea!
• The national bodybuilding championships concluded in Broward. I can think of no greater disconnect than how proud those folks are of their bodies and how the other 99 percent of us think how comically freakish they look.
• Parting thought: At Gulfstream Park, a 10-cent “Superfecta” paid over $119,000. The guy chairing the Gamblers Anonymous meeting just threw up his arms in defeat.
Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote, Instagram/upsetbird, Vine/Greg Cote and Facebook/Greg Cote.