Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Mind: South Florida sports fans squeezing 10 pounds of sports into a 5-pound sack

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga looks on during the NIT tournament in Richmond, Va., on March 24, 2015. Miami won 63-61.
Miami head coach Jim Larranaga looks on during the NIT tournament in Richmond, Va., on March 24, 2015. Miami won 63-61. AP

My dearly departed Grandpappy, back before mildly sexist comments were frowned upon, referred to ample women squeezed into tight dresses as “10 pounds of potatoes in a 5-pound sack.” This time of year on our crowded, bulging sports calendar reminded me of that. My grandfather also used to refer to people as being “busier than a one-armed paper hanger,” which would fairly describe a local sports fan right now.

(I don’t think I realized, at the time, that Grandpappy led the league in corny colloquialisms.)

The NCAA Tournament whittles Sunday to its long-awaited Final Four.

The Miami Hurricanes are making the most of the consolation prize known as the NIT.

UM wrapped up offseason football practice with its spring game on Saturday.

Florida Derby horses were thundering at Gulfstream Park.

The top pros are whapping tennis balls in Key Biscayne.

The Marlins are winding down spring training.

Heat fans anticipate seeing LeBron James in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

The Panthers are in a mad scramble for hockey’s final playoff spot.

Dolphins fans segue from free agency talk to draft chatter.

That enough for you, sports nut?

▪ Sorry I’m late. Just back from the emergency room. My NCAA bracket sustained several fractures and was listed in fair condition.

▪ With the Marlins eight days from Opening Day, MLB is investigating Fish pitcher Jarred Cosart related to gambling, although he’d only be in trouble if it involved betting on baseball. “Tell me about it!” said Pete Rose.

▪ Third baseman David Thompson has been on a tear for the 13th-ranked Hurricanes, including grand slams in consecutive games and 13 RBI in a four-game stretch. This concludes our college baseball coverage until the College World Series.

▪ Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he hopes the team’s transition to a new receiving corps “won’t be too painful.” Man that guy knows how to fire up the troops, doesn’t he!?

▪ The NFL is suspending its TV blackout rule for 2015. I think that’s a little “please accept our apology” gift to fans for all the player arrests and suspensions.

▪ Just Googled the word “stalemate” and saw Adrian Peterson and the Vikings in a staring contest.

▪ The Panthers’ Jaromir Jagr, 43, says he can play seven more hockey seasons. And I don’t know what’s sillier. Him thinking that, or me believing him.

▪ The Masters starts in 11 days at Augusta. Tick-tock on a decision, Tiger Woods.

▪ The Cricket World Cup ends Sunday with powerhouse Australia facing upstart New Zealand for the championship in Melbourne. Call it the Crikey! World Cup.

▪ Bomani Jones has left his Wednesday gig on the Dan LeBatard Show to pilot his own 9-11 p.m. show on ESPN Radio starting this week. He couldn’t pass up the lucrative offer. Bomoney.

▪ A stadium built next to Marlins Park emerges as the latest (of many) potential sites for David Beckham’s Major League Soccer franchise in Miami. Suggested team nickname: Nomads.

▪ That reminds me. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers open their new season in six days. If you know the coach’s name is Marcelo Neveleff, you’re probably playing for him.

▪ Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin is turning pro, her future bright but for the fact professional swimming is unknown in America except to professional swimmers.

▪ The International Game Fish Association Museum in Dania Beach is closing, verifying that the only thing more boring than fishing is visiting a fishing museum.

▪ Answer: There is a new sport that combines soccer and golf, called footgolf. Question: What makes you say there are too many sports?

▪ That reminds me. Miami Watersports Complex is hosting a professional wakeboarding competition ending Sunday. Wakeboarding, to the best of my knowledge, was invented by surfers too impatient to wait for actual waves.

▪ Lakers guard Steve Nash, 41, retired, surprising analysts who thought he’d retired about three years ago.

▪ The Texas Rangers this season will offer a new all-fried-food menu including deep-fried Oreos and bacon sticks. They don’t need vendors walking through the crowd. They need cardiologists.

▪ Dallas Seavey won his second Iditarod race in a row in Alaska. Race slogan: “Over-Exerting Dogs Since 1973.”

▪ The NHL has a new penalty for “embellishment.” If writers were subject to that call, I’d have been jailed years ago.

▪ Answer: The 2022 World Cup final will be played Dec. 18 to avoid the host’s scorching summer heat. Question: Why do so many people think FIFA never should have awarded the event to Qatar?

▪ The U.S. men’s soccer team fell five spots in the latest men’s FIFA World Ranking. Anybody up for a buoyant “We’re No. 32!” chant?

▪ Parting thought: Michael Sam says there are “a lot” of gay players in the NFL and that some have reached out to him. I know in Miami, for example, the gay players on the Dolphins are — sorry, I’m out of space.

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

Hot list

Today: Florida Derby as a precursor to Triple Crown season. The Florida Derby winner has gone on to win 28 Triple Crown races that year — 13 Kentucky Derbies, 10 Preakness Stakes and five Belmonts. No Florida Derby winner has won all three races for that year’s Triple Crown. The most recent of 10 horses to win two:

Year

Horse (jockey)

Race won

2008

Big Brown (Kent Desormeaux)

Derby, Preakness

1995

Thunder Gulch (Mike Smith)

Derby, Belmont

1984

Swale (Laffit Pincay)

Derby, Belmont

1979

Spectacular Bid (Ronnie Franklin)

Derby, Preakness

1968

Forward Pass (Don Brumfield)

Derby, Preakness

Note: Other double winners were Northern Dancer in 1964, Carry Back in 1961, Tim Tam in 1958, Needles in 1956 and Nashua in 1955. The most recent of eight Florida Derby winners to win a single Triple Crown race was Orb (Kentucky Derby) in 2013.

WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT

1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Elite Eight pares to Final Four; Canes in NIT semis: In the NCAA Tournament, the Elite Eight is now the Sexy Six and reaching the Final Four on Sunday. Meantime, down a notch, the Miami Hurricanes face Temple on Tuesday in the semifinals of the NIT at Madison Square Garden, nicknamed “The World’s Most Famous Arena Despite the Knicks.”

2. HEAT

Team returns home as NBA playoffs draw near: Heat is likely No. 7 seed with 10 games left in season starting Sunday against Detroit. Meantime, an ESPN panel ranked Miami third overall in NBA leadership, second in owner, third in front office and sixth in coaching. San Antonio led all four categories, leading one to surmise the panel consisted entirely of Spurs fans.

3. HORSE RACING

Florida Derby begins onset of Triple Crown season: A horse named Itsaknockout went off as the second favorite in Saturday’s 64th annual Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. The thoroughbred is owned by the Mara family, who also own the NFL’s New York Giants. Which I guess helps explain the horse’s older and bigger-than-usual jockey, Tom Coughlin.

4. PANTHERS

Next two games could define playoff chances: Panthers, minus top scorer Nick Bjugstad, play Sunday at Ottawa and Tuesday at Boston — the two teams Florida is chasing for the final playoff spot and trailing by three points entering the weekend. Win both, and Cats have a shot. Lose either, and probably not. Playoff pressure doesn’t always wait for the playoffs.

5. TENNIS

Miami Open at midpoint: Tennis’ “fifth major” runs through next weekend. The unexpected early ouster of No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova was the tournament’s first big headline. Sharapova normally loses in the semifinals or final to career nemesis Serena Williams but apparently wanted to beat the rush this year and fast-track her inevitable elimination.

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