We are in the midst right now of one of the greatest long weekends of sports in South Florida history, led by Dolphins-Bills on Thursday night, Hurricanes-Seminoles on Saturday night, and now Sunday’s NASCAR championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It has been such a full weekend of breadth, variety and significance that a weekend couldn’t even contain it. So it started Thursday and it ends Monday.
We have also had UM basketball opening its season, Panthers and Heat home games, and even the Fort Lauderdale Strikers playing for soccer’s NASL championship. Oh, and Monday, the Hurricanes men’s basketball visits the No.7 Florida Gators.
That’s a five-day smorgasbord I’d put up against any sports city anywhere.
But the most astonishing thing we have seen didn’t involve a game or event.
It involved the Marlins stepping up to the plate.
The once-cheap Marlins — for so long justly criticized for the fire sales and penurious ways that made Jeffrey Loria such an unpopular owner — seeming determined to refashion that negative reputation by doing what it takes to re-sign slugger Giancarlo Stanton long term.
As the weekend arrived there were reports the two sides were close on a 13-year, record $325million deal.
Those would be astounding numbers coming even from the usual big-spenders suxh as the Yankees, Dodgers or Red Sox.
But from the Marlins!?
If this deal goes through I’d have only two things to say to Loria:
1. Congratulations. I’ll stop calling you cheap now.
2. Don’t forget to save some money for Jose Fernandez, too! Buttoning down Stanton gets you halfway home. Don’t stop now.
▪ Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin, after guaranteeing a win over the Dolphins “point-blank, period” — fractured an ankle in the game. “I work fast,” Karma said. “You’re welcome.”
▪ A TV production truck for Rich Eisen’s DirecTV show — a 48-foot, 18-wheel tractor-trailer in town for Thursday’s Dolphins-Bills game — was stolen from Miami Lakes and later recovered. Police have not found the joy-riding thief. I was very careful.
▪ The Patriots congratulated their 1 millionth Twitter follower then quickly said oops-sorry when the lucky follower’s Twitter handle contained the N-word. Remember the good old days when teams only had to worry about their players embarrassing themselves on social media?
▪ The NFL fined Jets coach Rex Ryan $100,000 after TV cameras caught him yelling “[expletive] you!” at someone. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been taunting Rex.
▪ Twitter exchange between Bears’ Brandon Marshall and a Lions fan escalated into a $25,000 challenge to fight. Hey, what’s the worst that could happen other than Marshall being embarrassed, injured or sued?
▪ The College basketball season just started, but I already heard one coach predict No.1-ranked Kentucky would go undefeated and another call UK “NBA-playoff” caliber. Geez, tap the brakes, people. Or should we just hand coach John Calipari a ladder and scissors right now and save time?
▪ That reminds me. I just beat the rush and filled out my 68-team bracket. It might be subject to change.
▪ New definition of “good work if you can get”: Make $31million a year and be voted MVP even though you only worked 16.6 percent of the time, or 27 of 162 games. Congrats, Clayton Kershaw!
▪ The Fort Lauderdale Strikers played at San Antonio Saturday night for NASL championship. A local watch party was attended by the estimated four people in South Florida not watching Miami-FSU.
▪ Answer: Bulls star Derrick Rose complained he must manage his body so he isn’t sore and limping when walking into a meeting room in 20 years. Question: What do sports fans in blue-collar Chicago least want to hear from a perpetually injured player?
▪ The NBA announced its jerseys worn on Christmas Day would bear players’ first names, not last. It was only because they couldn’t come up with an even dumber idea.
▪ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, given to flowery prose, refers to players’ “sweat equity.” I presume that means they work hard. I wonder if Spo refers to a bathroom break as a “lavatory excursion?”
▪ NBA commissioner Adam Silver has endorsed the national legalization and regulating of gambling on professional sports. I’m laying an over/under of it passing within two years at 4-1 odds.
▪ Just saw a bumper sticker that read, “Things Could Always Be Worse. You Could Be the Philadelphia 76ers.”
▪ I keep reading glowing stories how the Panthers are on the upswing. Hmm. When last I checked they were tied for last in NHL goals scored and ranked 13th of 16 teams in the East. Can we raise the bar a little on “upswing,” please?
▪ Boxer Bernard Hopkins lost a unanimous decision last week. In two months he will turn 50. New rule: If you’ve gotten an unsolicited AARP card in the mail, you can no longer step in a ring.
▪ MLB continues to consider ways to shorten games to make the sport more appealing to younger fans. They already rejected my idea: First run wins.
▪ Parting thought: ESPN’s Outside The Lines had an expose’ on food-safety violations at Kansas City stadiums. So it’s official, then. OTL has run out of things to investigate.
Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Today: Hurricanes vs. Seminoles. Miami led the all-time football series 31-27 heading into Saturday night’s 59th meeting. UM’s five most recent wins in the series entering this season:
38-34 (@ FSU)
37-29 (@ FSU)
16-10 OT (@ UM)
28-27 (@ UM)
*Kyle Wright was starting QB in the ’07 game but left injured. Freeman led the winning drive.
What South Florida sports fans are talking about
UM tries to end FSU hex as rivalry renews: No.1 Mississippi St. at No.4 Alabama topped the national marquee Saturday but here it was UM hosting No.2 FSU, seeking its first home win over the Noles in 10 years. Duke Johnson’s mom hosted a dinner for UM players. Menu included crab legs. Note to Jameis Winston: She paid for them.
Spanking of Bills enlivens playoff hopes: Happy days are here again as the Dolphins (6-4) ended their losing streak against the rival Bills with a 22-9 win to climb back into the AFC playoff picture. (It is not my desire to cast a wet blanket. If it were, this is where I’d mention the Fins’ next game is against Peyton Manning, in Denver.)
Club, Stanton talking record $300-plus million deal: Reports are the Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton, 25, were close to terms on a record 13-year, $325 million contract extension. Can you imagine the penurious Marlins being the team to set a spending record? It’s like finding out “Dumb & Dumber Two” has won an Oscar.
Season champion to be crowned Sunday at Homestead: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick will race for the season title. NASCAR should hope Harvick or Logano prevail. It’d be a lot easier than trying to convince people that Hamlin (one win all season) or Newman (zero wins) had the best year.
Still trying to figure out the Heat: A 5-2 start left fans thinking the post-LeBron era might be smoother than expected. Then came an awful home loss to Indiana, followed by Dwyane Wade (hamstring) missing his first game. Bottom line: What we know for sure about this Heat team is that we don’t know anything for sure.