Dave Hyde: Heat! ‘Canes! Marlins! Did Loserville become Winnersville in one weekend?

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Who doesn’t love 2020?

(Wait, don’t answer that.)

Who didn’t have a weekend for the ages?

(Assuming your tax returns weren’t released.)

Who you got now in a South Florida sports scene crammed with winning stories: the Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals? The Miami Marlins or Chicago Cubs in the baseball playoffs? Miami or (gulp) Clemson in a looming matchup of top-10 teams?

My friends, in the span of one long weekend, we zoomed from underwhelmed to overwhelmed without a pit stop at whelmed. Even the Dolphins won their first game, on Thursday, so everyone who’s playing is winning in some form.

Everyone’s a story, too. I’m typing so fast these days my index finger pulled a hamstring. My thumb strained a groin. The surprise is always the best story in sports, and every team individually did something surprising.

Collectively, they reversed the reflex in South Florida of reading sports standings from the bottom up. They changed the fact that watching failures for a sports generation (except the Heat) made us Loserville (except the Heat).

Before this recent run, no South Florida advanced in a postseason for three years (the Heat again), none played for a championship in six years (yep, the Heat), you couldn’t watch playoff baseball since 2003 and you had never seen Miami put a 52-10 whomping on rival Florida State.

The only question from that UM game is if coach Manny Diaz repeated the line FSU coach Bobby Bowden said in shaking hands with Miami’s Butch Davis after winning 47-0 in 1997.

“Hopefully, someday this can be a rivalry again,” Bowden told Butch.

Hopefully, someday, 2020 can be remembered for something good. Is that too much to ask? (And don’t be that guy putting an asterisk by the Heat for the bubble format, harping on baseball’s expanded playoffs allowed the Marlins to qualify or that FSU stinks and Clemson will provide a better gauge of Miami’s progress. None of that. We’re in a mood in South Florida).

Look what’s coming now. As if we haven’t had wall-to-wall sports this past month, the Marlins will open and close a three-game series against the Cubs starting on Wednesday.

Is this some throwback from 2003? Should Steve Bartman throw out the first ball? (Please don’t make me explain Steve Bartman was the fan who interfered with sure Marlins out, sparking a historic comeback in Wrigley Field.)

The Marlins are the best story in baseball, a team ravaged by COVID-19 early in this tight season, quarantined for a week in Philadelphia and just needing a run like the Heat in the playoffs to make everyone realize it.

What I love about the Heat’s run is they didn’t tank to get it. They anti-tanked. They persevered through mediocre times. They rebuild on smart decisions not by dumping draft picks and throwing away years like — well, like the Marlins and the Dolphins have.

I love that a team is rewarded for being smarter and tougher than throwing in that tanking towel. Everything Heat president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra touched with this team turned to gold. Signing Jimmy Butler? The drafting of mid-round picks Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro? Trading for Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala?

The Heat are big underdogs against LeBron James and the Lakers. No surprise there. The Heat weren’t favored in the second round against No. 1 seed Milwaukee or in the Eastern Conference finals against Boston.

They’re never picked.

All they do is win.

Dolphins coach Brian Flores wore a Heat cap last week on his video news conference and wore a Marlins cap on Monday.

“Congrats to Derek Jeter, Mike Hill and Don Mattingly,” Flores said of the Marlins leaders. “Same thing for the Heat. Great accomplishment. They played well (Sunday night). Congrats to both organizations — Heat and Marlins. Happy for them. Supportive.”

Now comes the hard part. Now you have to find time to watch all these games coming up. I’ll ice my eyes, tape my fingers and wonder if it’s safe to come out in 2020 again.


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