March 23, 2017

Kiper lights Lamp for Dolphins in latest Mock Draft; plus "Let's gooooo States!" Team USA reigns, Yelich honored; also, Miami Open tennis, weird Lavar Ball, Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Sweet 16 title odds, Hot Button Daily & more


1) It is THURSDAY, March 23. Thank you again, Cote's Coterie, for carrying me to the Final Four, and congratulations Amber Wilson, for winning the Slice Miami media bracket title! 2) Hurricanes men lose NCAA opener to Michigan State, then Canes women drop home game in second-round upset loss to Quinnipiac. What a hugely disappointing March Madness run (more like a stumble) for UM hoops. 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your Jose Fernandez verdict shows shaky support, R.I.P. Chuck Berry, Cote makes final four, my bracket update & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest columns: Miami Open tennis, weird LaVar Ball: The event is missing major stars due to injuries like Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray as it begins on Key Biscayne, yet hope grows as the folks who run the tournament dig in determined to keep the event at Crandon Park Tennis Center long-term despite legal setbacks. Click on Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten for this week's column. Then click Method to the Madness? for my latest column, exploring the bizarre attention-getting braggadocio of LaVar Ball, father of UCLA star Lonzo Ball.

LampKIPER'S MOCK DRAFT 3.0 OFFERS DOLPHINS SURPRISE: Mel Kiper Jr. rolls out his Mock Draft 3.0 for ESPN today and it has the Dolphins taking Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp 22nd overall. Junior writes: "Laremy Tunsil's expected move to left tackle leaves an opening at guard, and Lamp is the best guard in the draft. He could also move over to right tackle or slide in to center, and his versatility is a plus. Though Lamp (6-4, 309) played in Conference USA, he has the traits to step in and play immediately next season. Miami could also be in play for a linebacker, even with Kiko Alonso locked into a new deal. Florida's Jarrad Davis makes some sense." Lamp (pictured) is plausible for Miami, but I'd not bet on it. Defense still likelier for Fins' top pick. By the way, Kiper has Canes tight end David Njoku going 20th overall to Denver. Oh, and still no Brad Kaaya in first round, which by now should go without saying.

Teamusa"LET'S GOOOOO STATES!" TEAM USA WINS FIRST WBC TITLE!: Update U.S. routs Puerto Rico, 8-0, last night to win first WBC crown. Marlin Christian Yelich named to All-Tournament team. Original post: I'll be riveted to MLB Network tonight at 9 as Team USA takes on Puerto Rico in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium. This is only the fourth WBC, but U.S. has never before won, or even reached the title game. Must be the old magic of curmudgeonly Jim Leyland, who always looks like the should be smoking a cigarette and carrying a glass of Scotch as he makes a mound visit. With apologies to my Puerto Rican friends, I am not neutral on this game. I set aside my Objective Journalist card in favor of my Citizen's Card. I'm an American rooting for my home team. On my count ... 1 - 2 - 3 ... "Let's gooooo States!"

THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (70 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 34-36 after Sunday's home loss to Portland, here's The Luddite's 14th installment, with 65-game rank in parentheses.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (70 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      2,056

2. Goran Dragic (2)             1,838

3. James Johnson (3)          1,326

4. Tyler Johnson (4)            1,290

5. Dion Waiters (5)              1,077

6. Wayne Ellington (7)          733 

7. Rodney McGruder (6)       722

8. Josh Richardson (8)         622

9. Willie Reed (9)                601

10. Luke Babbitt (10)          452

Others: Justise Winslow 355, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 157, Udonis Haslem 72.

LATEST SWEET 16 TITLE ODDS: New from Bovada, betting odds on the last 16 men's teams winning the NCAA Tournament entering today's S16 action:  19-4--Kansas; 5-1--North Carolina; 13-2--Arizona and Gonzaga; 9-1--UCLA; 10-1--Kentucky; 12-1--Florida; 16-1--Baylor and Michigan; 18-1--Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin; 20-1--Purdue; 40-1--Butler; 50-1--South Carolina; and 75-1--Xavier.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 3-23-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA Tournament, 7 p.m.: Madness resumes with first four round of Sweet 16 men's games.

2. Toronto at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami, 8th seed in hand, tries (again) to climb to .500.

3. Arizona at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats winding down a very disappointing season.

4. Miami Open tennis, 11 a.m.: Early-round play continues with smattering of seeded players.

5. Marlins vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m.: Spring game in Jupiter.

Select recent columns: Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, the latest, previewing this year's tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on developments in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 08, 2017

My new autobiographical song, "The Ballad Of 1440," is out. Watch video here!; plus The Dead We Forgot (a Ghost Tour addendum), revealing Canes basketball, Marlins betting odds, Jimmy Buffett's old-folks home, Hot Button Daily & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, March 8. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your NFL Scouting Combine verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Marlins, NL East odds: This is further indication, new via Bovada, that Miami is seen as mid-pack in its division. Odds of winning the NL East this season: Nationals 5-7, Mets 8-5, Marlins 12-1, Braves 16-1 and Phillies 20-1.

My latest column: Now we see how good Canes basketball really is: The Miami Hurricanes' men's and women's basketball teams are having good seasons. But how good are they? How close to special? March knows, and tells all. Click on Now We Find Out About UM Hoops to read my latest column.

THIS IS 'THE BALLAD OF 1440': Been telling you for awhile we had an autobiographical song coming out. Well, we posted "The Ballad Of 1440" on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube late last night, and now here's the video in my blog. It's personal and it's serious, with opening and closing credits and boyhood photos interspersed. The reaction has been good. I hope you enjoy it:

THE DEAD WE FORGOT: AN ADDENDUM TO OUR 'GHOST TOUR' COLUMN: We got an unusually great reaction to our recent A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past column. Nostalgia is good. ManateesPeople love to reminisce. But dozens of e-mailers pointed out a few defunct Miami sports teams I hadn't mentioned. My meandering was never meant to be an A-to-Z, comprehensive list. Nevertheless, you took the time to write me, so I'm taking he time to pass along what you said. So: A toast, please... To the Miami Manatees, a still-born Canadian Football League team proposed to begin play at the Orange Bowl in 1996, until the CFL suspended its foray into U.S. markets that spring. To the Gold Coast Suns, managed by Earl Weaver and a charter member of the Miami-based Senior Professional Baseball League, which played a 1989-90 season and then folded midway through season two. To the Miami Tropics, which played in 1987-88 and 1991-93 in the USBL (United States Basketball League), and won championship in 1987 and '92-93. To the Miami Sun Sox, which won 1950 and '52 championships in baseball's Florida International League, and to the Miami Beach Flamingos of that league. And last but least (!), to the Miami Caliente, who undied their way through the 2009-10 season in the women's Lingerie Football League.

BuffettJIMMY BUFFETT'S OLD FOLKS' HOME: I saw this headline, laughed out loud, and it made perfect sense. "Jimmy Buffett to Open Margaritaville Retirement Communities." Of course he is. (Here for more). It's for people "55 and better," and the first oldies enclave is set to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. It is geared to his aging demographic of fans -- Parrotheads. In other words, everyone in the place will be wearing Hawaiiian shirts and flying Salt Life stickers. Give Jimmy credit. Under the laid-back facade is a land shark who knows how to make money.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 3-8-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Hurricanes vs. Syracuse, noon: UM men make ACC Tournament debut in Brooklyn.

2. Charlotte at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Hot Miami still is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace.

3. Hurricanes at FIU, 7 p.m.: Bad-starting baseball Canes (now 4-7) are close to desperate.

4. FAU vs. Marshall, 8 p.m.: Owls debut in men's CUSA Tournament (FIU did not qualify).

Select other recent columns: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: Amar'e Joins the Shame ClubNFL's Arrested DevelopmentThe Wonder of Coach LIt's What's Great About SportsThe Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! Loria: The End Of An ErrorThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2017

Dolphins' Taylor elected to Hall of Fame! How I did on my Canton predictions; plus latest and Super Bowl With a Smirk, Hot Button Daily & more


1) It is SATURDAY, February 4. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Me and Dwyane Wade and Twitter and wine, the fourth Super Bowl With a Smirk, our Falcons-Patriots SB prediction & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

BREAKING: Jason Taylor voted into Canton: Ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Also elected" LaDanian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, Morten Andersen, Jerry Jones and Kenny Easley. That's seven in all. How's I do on my predictions? (See below). Six of the guys I had with a 50 percent chance or better got in. I thought John Lynch and Terrell Owens would, but they didn't. I thought Andersen wouldn't make it, but he did. Overall, not too bad on my guesswork. My original post is below:

CantonCANTON CALLING: HANDICAPPING HALL OF FAME LIKELIHOOD FOR JASON TAYLOR, OTHER 17 FINALISTS: Pro Football Hall Fame does the Big Reveal tonight at 8 on Fox, and what's intriguing is that only RB LaDainian Tomlinson is an absolute, you'd-bet-your-life lock to get in. There is big, wide debate on whether the Dolphins' contender, DE Jason Taylor, is likely to make it or has no real shot. I rank the 15 finalists and three senior/contributor nominees by likelihood of induction, with my betting odds on each:


RB LaDainian Tomlinson (99% percent likely / 1-100 odds): Bet the house, the car and your entire family.


QB Kurt Warner (75% / 1-2): God's will?

S Kenny Easley (70% / 1-2): Just watch. At least one Senior nominee has gotten in every year since 1997.


S John Lynch (65% / 2-3): State of the art

Owner Jerry Jones (60% / 1-1): And Jimmy Johnson didn't make it to finalist round. Ouch. 

RB Terrell Davis (60% / 1-1): Fairly short career could hurt.

OT Joe Jacoby (60% / 1-1): Boss Hog.

WR Terrell Owens (60% / 1-1): Controversial. Media didn't like him. So what!

JtDE Jason Taylor (50% / 5-4): Most experts call him a longshot in first year of eligibility, but he's sixth all-time in sacks, returned more fumbles for TDs than anybody, won a Defensive Player of the Year award and is only pass rusher on the ballot, which helps. Don't be surprised if he gets in this time, or if he doesn't, but I absolutely think Taylor is a certain future Hall of Famer (eventually) and has a big chance right now time.


PK Morten Andersen (35% / 8-1): Punter Ray Guy remains only specialist/foot-man in Hall.

G Alan Faneca (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday.

OT Tony Boselli (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday II.

Coach Don Coryell (25% / 15-1): No Super Bowls, .572 win percentage. Meh.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (25% / 15-1): If he didn't get in immediately, probably never happen.


WR Isaac Bruce (20% / 20-1): Big numbers, but Fort Lauderdale native and Dillard High alum spent much of pro career overshadowed on own team by Torry Holt.

C Kevin Mawae (15% / 25-1): Hall of Very Good. 

S Brian Dawkins (15% / 25-1): Hurts him that Lynch and Easley are both on ballot.

CB Ty Law (10% / 30-1): No ugly mustard-yellow jacket for you!

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK: BIDDING ADIEU FOR WEEK WITH AGRODOLCE, TAYLOR SWIFT, 22 COWS, 1.7 MILLION POUNDS OF CHICKEN WINGS AND ONE ORANGUTAN: Super Bowl With a Smirk bids farewell with our last of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game:

SmirkYou know Super Bowl Week is winding down and the game is finally near when the official parties kick in.

The 26th annual Taste of the NFL, a "Party With a Purpose" fundraiser, happens Saturday night at the University of Houston with dishes by chefs representing every league city.

Featured on the tony menu this year: Atlanta’s Roasted Quail, Parsnips, Onion Soubise and Cranberry Agrodolce vs. New England’s Cavatelli, Housemade Sausage, Butternut Squash and Shaved Truffle Butter.

AgrodolceObvious edge there to Atlanta. I mean, who doesn’t love soubise and agrodolce!?

In case you wondered, Miami, last in a Super Bowl 32 years ago, will be represented on the menu by Stone Crab Bisque and Rum-Glazed Bacon with a Glaze of Dolfan Tears.

Let’s hope there is no controversy at Saturday’s Taste of the NFL like there was last year, when the chef representing the Patriots was kicked out for intentionally deflating other chefs’ souffles.

(*) Maxim, Rolling Stone and Playboy will be among other major party hosts as a bevy of rented women and once-famous hip-hop stars make the rounds. Taylor Swift is hosting a "Super Saturday Night" party and can be expected to act all surprised to be there.

(*) Smirk culled through a stack of his exclusive A-list invites to celebrity soirees and chose to attend a Super Bowl party being hosted by the estranged second cousin of Gloria Estefan’s former gardener.

(*) Hall of Fame voters met Friday in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room to decide which new inductees will be announced Saturday. LaDainian Tomlinson is the only absolute for Canton, but ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor has a good shot. Should we expect a Tweet from President Trump that the election was rigged?

Kmkey(*) Keegan-Michael Key (of Comedy Central’s "Key & Peele") hosts the NFL Honors awards show Saturday, with winners announced in 16 categories including league MVP — likely Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Could be a shutout for Dolphins, although Cam Wake has a shot at Comeback Player of the Year. Miami also is a finalist for the Kaepernick Cup for anthem kneeling.

(*) Fox, ESPN and NFL Network are girding for pregame shows that will last longer than the game itself. ESPN’s pregame will include a 13-minute segment on how Wilson footballs are made. No, seriously. What they might not tell you: all of the footballs to be used on Sunday required the hides of 22 cows, one of them a cherished doe-eyed Guernsey named Lulu.

(*) ESPN’s pregame also will feature a tribute to Chris Berman on his final major workday before the network shoves him unceremoniously into awkward semi-retirement.

Chicken(*) The National Chicken Council says the estimated 1.3 billion chicken wings eaten on Sunday will weigh 1.7 million pounds or 300 times the combined weight of the 32 NFL teams, surprising analysts who were unaware there was a National Chicken Council.

(*) The annual NFL Foundation Super Bowl golf tournament was held Friday as dozens of former players drove the course loudly griping about their various ailments and lack of benefits.

(*) Acara, an orangutan at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, has predicted a Falcons victory.

(*) There was a brawl on Sad, Sad Radio Row at the SB Media Center on Friday when producers for rival Bangor, Maine, radio stations got into a kickfight over first dibs on Patriots backup long-snapper Tug McGillicutty.

Madea(*) Finally, our parting Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Why do what every other party in America is doing? As the Falcons and Patriots are lining up for the opening kickoff and the din of your guests reaches an excited pitch, abruptly switch the channel from the game to "A Madea Christmas" airing on BET.

Click Smirk I, Smirk II, Smirk III and Smirk IV for this week's previous Smirks.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-4-17: What events on the Saturday, Feb. 4 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Philadelphia at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami favored to bag its 10th straight win.

2. Hall of Fame announcement, 8 p.m.: Canton's big reveal could include Jason Taylor.

3. Hurricanes at North Carolina State, 3 p.m.: UM men, 3-5 since start of year, seek spark.

4. Kentucky at Florida, 8:15 p.m.: No. 8 Wildcat men a big test for No. 24 Gators.

5. Cleveland at New York, 8:30: Because LeBron James at Carmelo Anthony is still a show.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 01, 2017

If LeBron were any more thin-skinned we'd see his internal organs. New Barkley vs. James beef poll. Vote now!; plus latest Super Bowl With a Smirk, National Signing Day, blog debut of Hot Button Daily, new betting odds, latest Back In My Day video & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, February 1. Happy new month, all! 2) A new Miami Herald Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE to visit. 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk worldwide premiere, Super Bowl poll results, The List (Canes on top) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

The hate/love of National Signing Day: I really dislike the overblown hype and excess of the way Your Friend the Media covers National Signing Day as a bunch of 17-year-olds making a college decision are treated like gods. But! If you love NSD, Miami Herald Sports' new Facebook page will feed the junkie in you all day, right HERE. 

DEBUT OF NEW BLOG FEATURE! HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-1-17: What on the Wednesday, Feb. 1 sports calendar interests South Florida fans most:

1. National Signing Day, all day: Hurricanes, FIU, nation's colleges collect football bounty.

2. Atlanta at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Scorching Miami after its ninth consecutive victory.

3. Florida State at Hurricanes, 8 p.m.: Beating No. 15 FSU could lift UM men to Top 25.

4. Minnesota at Cleveland, 7 p.m.: Imagining LeBron's postgame should Cavs lose again.

5. Baylor at Kansas, 9 p.m.: Men's No. 2 at No. 3 brings Final Four feel to February.

LebbarkLEBRON-BARKLEY BEEF: IF LEBRON WERE ANY MORE THIN-SKINNED WE'D SEE HIS INTERNAL ORGANS: I find interesting and amusing this week's LeBron James-Charles Barkley beef. TNT analyst Barkley called LeBron "whiny," a pretty mild term that I found pretty justified, considering the Cavaliers are reigning champions and second-favorite to win again but here's James at midseason publicly calling out his team's management and his teammates. James, ever thin-skinned and on the lookout for perceived disrespect, called Barkley a "hater" and spewed a very personal attack-response, saying, "I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying." Oy! My take: Barkley has a right in his role as analyst to call James "whiny," and LeBron overreacted. What do you think? Take a dip in our poll.

NEW 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK': ADS AT $167,000 PER SECOND, FAN IN DJIBOUTI, BRADY'S TEARS, TUNA EYEBALLSSmirk returns with second of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game.

SmirkAgain this year, the Super Bowl television commercials have been voted even more popular than the game itself in an annual poll of the American Society of Advertisers.

In-game ads for this Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl will cost a record average of $5 million per half-minute spot, or roughly $167,000 per second.

Sunday’s ads will include has-been comic actor Jon Lovitz for Mexican avocados, a woman having a sexual fantasy about cartoon hottie Mr. Clean, an Intel ad with Tom Brady, and a Miami Herald commercial promoting Greg Cote’s blog. (OK I made up that last one).

Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad will tell the heartwarming story of immigrant founder Adolphus Busch’s 1857 journey from Germany to St. Louis, unless President Trump signs an executive order banning the ad.

Super Bowl ads used to be highly anticipated before companies put them out days in advance on social media. There still is a bit of unpredictability, other than the two annual iron-clad certainties:

Donkey1. There will be a sentimental ad revolving around a dog befriending a bedraggled donkey in a straw hat.

2. We’ll all hate the GoDaddy spot.

(*) NFL reports Falcons-Pats will be seen in 188 countries, Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and in more than 20 languages including Mandarin Chinese, Flemish and Hungarian. Right now, two bickering crones in Budapest stirring a pot of goulash are in agreement Falcons coach Dan Quinn may be “a feje folott” (in over his head).

(*) "What do they know of coaching!" cried a man in Djibouti.

(*) Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan briefly lost track of a backpack containing the team’s Sunday game plan. Cannot confirm witnesses said it had been taken by a scowling man wearing a gray hoodie.

(*) Still early, but Super Bowl Week has been too quiet and controversy-free. Can LeBron James and Charles Barkley both fly to Houston and start arguing please?

(*) Short of that, would some enterprising reporter at least please surreptitiously plant deer-antler spray on some linebacker?

7yrold(*) The question that nearly brought Tom Brady to tears talking about his father — "Who is your hero?" — was posed by a 7-year-old who won a contest to be a Super Bowl reporter. Great. Isn’t bad enough that newspapers are struggling. Now I have a second-grader after my job!

(*) Answer: Blonde/yellow is the betting favorite for the hair color of halftime performer Lady Gaga. Question: What do you mean there are too many ridiculous prop bets!?

(*) Notice how businesses refer to the "Big Game" in ads so they won’t get sued by the NFL? Smirk suggests "Stupor Bowl" or "Super Bore" instead.

(*) A team of Budweiser Clydesdales arrived in Houston Tuesday and were immediately signed to one-week contracts by Bill Belichick and trained to rush the passer.

(*) Only midweek, but already there are early indications the national media may be running out of story ideas. Trending: Experts in onomastics weigh in on the exact origin of Matt Ryan’s "Matty Ice" nickname.

(*) Wait. Smirk could swear he just saw Mercury Morris standing on an orange crate with a megaphone in downtown Houston loudly reminding passersby the ’72 Dolphins remain the only undefeated team.

Moose nose(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Want a few party foods sure to surprise and delight your guests? Eight words: Tuna eyeballs, crispy Cambodian tarantulas, jellied moose nose.

Click Smirk I for Tuesday's Smirk debut.

UPDATED BETTINGS ODDS FOR NBA, COLLEGE HOOPS, NHL: Not much good news here for SoFla teams in latest odds via Bovada. In the NBA: Warriors a strong title pick at 5-7 odds, followed by Cavaliers at 13-5, with Heat still off the board. James Harden is 10-11 for MVP, then Russell Westbrook close at 5-4. In men's college basketball: Kentucky is tops at 11-2 for the national title, then Gonzaga at 15-2. FSU is 20-1, Florida 50-1 and Miami 300-1. In the NHL, Capitals at 6-1 and Blackhawks at 7-1 top a very bunched field. Panthers are 21st at 50-1.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': From Tuesday's LeBatard Show:

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

October 04, 2016

Yes, Jose was Marlins' 2016 MVP. But who was second? New poll. Vote now!; Radio Tuesday, plus World Series odds, latest SOPY rankings, 'Fins At 50' book now available & more


1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 3. See our previous blogpost for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They don't make numbers much higher as FSU Week begins for Miami. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at Georgia tech with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, state Collball Week 5, quartet of Jose columns & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Radio Tuesday!: We're on the LeBatard Show now on 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio.

World Series odds: Via Bovada today, Cubs a clear favorite at 12-5 odds, followed by Red Sox at 5-1, Rangers 6-1, Nationals 13-2 and Dodgers 15-2. Longer shots are the Indians at 9-1, Blue Jays 10-1, Mets 18-1 and Orioles and Giants both 22-1.

FINS AT 50: New book on sale now!: The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half century, Fins At 50, is now available, just in time for the holiday season. Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon.

MarlinsMARLINS' 2016 MVP: JOSE AND THEN...WHO?: The Marlins' 79-82 season was disappointing even before the tragic death of Jose Fernandez overshadowed everything. It was because, after being in the wild-card playoff hunt for so much of the season, Miami faded late. It was because it marked yet another injury-marred season for slugger Giancarlo Stanton. MVPIt was because, bottom line, the Fish still haven't had a winning season since 2009 in a playoff drought extending to '03. But there were positives, too, under first-year manager Don Mattingly, until Jose's death made them all seem meaningless. There were solid performances. In that spirit in this Marlins season MVP poll I present five finalists, alphabetically, with pertinent statistics listed. I ask that you vote for your top two (2) choices due to the extraordinary circumstances of Fernandez's death. In anticipation of an emotion-driven vote for Fernandez, who might very well have won anyway, I'm curious who comes out on top among the other finalists. So vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results:

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': NOLES' COOK EN FEUGO AS FSU WEEK ARRIVES: The fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds FSU running back SopyDalvin Cook continuing red-hot as the Seminoles prepare to visit Miami in Collball Week 6. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. UM's Mark Walton and Brad Kaaya rank 6-7 this week despite the Canes playing one fewer game than all the others. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. We close it off after the regular season to not penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 6, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:


RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk5        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                184          988.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          264          963

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 224          844.5

4      4      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       101          603.5

5      7      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         123          548

6      5      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      79           521 

7     10     Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       126.5       502.5

8     --      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    112         467

9     --      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      178.5      463.5

10    8      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                    68          454

Bubble: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 433. Other team leader: Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 351. Week 5 best: Cook, 264. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Miami (4-0); 2. Florida State (3-2); 3. Florida (4-1); 4. South Florida (4-1); 5. UCF (3-2); 6. FIU (1-4); 7. FAU (1-4).


What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart last Sunday.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in team's first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The third, in midst of Wednesday's public events and outpouring.

With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose: The fourth and last, from Sunday, reflecting on a brutal week, but one that saw something so awful bring out something so wonderful in our community.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 4 Gems (our latest NFL picks). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (guess the headline says it all). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (and again the headline says it all).

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 10, 2016

Upset Bird Day in America! Our NFL Week 1 picks; plus Super Bowl poll. Vote now; also, FIU falls, study slams subsidies for sports facilities including Marlins Park, your verdict on biggest Heat acquisition & more


Wingicecream1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Pictured right, what stars in a Greg Cote sweet dream? Yes. Yes it is. It's Chicken Wing-flavored ice cream! 2) Marlins worth watching tonight: Jose Fernandez vs. Clayton Kershaw. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's biggest personnel move with poll, computer's gloomy prediction for Dolphins, debut of SOPY rankings, Arian Foster named starter, Canes crack Top 25, miserable Marlins & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FIU falls hard: The now 0-2 FIU Panthers hosted and lost to Maryland 41-14 last night. The Int'l was only one of seven state FBS teams to open with loss last week, and followed that by allowing 477 yards oif offense to Terps in a blowout loss.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our most recent, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

Heaviest-bet NFL team over/unders: Via Bovada: The heaviest-bet "overs" on win totals are Cardinals (84 percent on 9.5 wins), Patriots (79% on 10.5) and Panthers (72% on 10.5). Heaviest-bet "unders" are Eagles (82% on 7 wins), Colts (78% on 9.5) and Rams (74% on 7.5).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN MIAMI. WAIT. NO. IN AMERICA!:It has arrived -- our historic 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, today in the print edition and also online. A South Florida tradition that began in 1991 continues as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our 2016 Kickoff Weekend picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Seahawks, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week, Dog of the Week and every other matchup. Click on Week 1 Gems for all our picks and on Thursday Night Gem for tonight's pick. (We rolled to a big start last night, nailing Denver's upset of Carolina). We also have an accompanying NFL column with our division-by-division forecasts and projected won-lost records along with our Super Bowl pick. Click on Fearful Forecast to read.  We'll also be updating you every Tuesday here in the blog on how we fared the previous weekend with our picks, and with our Greg's Lobos fantasy teams.

Nfl Sb51KING SPORT AWAKENS! IT'S FOOTBALL DAY IN AMERICA!: The college game had a one-week head start. Now let the pros take over, kids. The NFL regular-season begins tonight -- click on Thursday Night Gem for our pick on the Panthers-Broncos game -- and so starts a continuous six-month blitzkrieg of America's immersion in fantasy football and gambling as 32 teams set out to reach and win a Super Bowl. Las Vegas betting odds and the public's reaction to those estimates suggest there are a consensus of six teams pretty clearly above the rest in terms of being likeliest to win it all. We're curious about your thoughts so we have listed all six current betting favorites in our new poll, and we added a seventh team, Denver, in the sentimental belief every reigning champion deserves at least that small nod of respect. No matter the team you cheer for, vote with head, not heart, as if you were given $100 to lay on one team only, straight up, to be this season's champ. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

NEW ECONOMIC STUDY SLAMS FEDERAL SUBSIDIES FOR SPORTS FACILITIES, INCLUDING MARLINS PARK: A new economic study by the respected Brookings BrookingsInstitute think tank says federal taxpayers have subsidized newly constructed or majorly renovated professional sports facilities at a cost of $3.2 billion since 2000, via tax-exempt federal municipal bonds. Because high-income bond holders receive that additional tax break for holding the bonds, the resulting loss in total revenue to the federal government is even larger at $3.7 billion. The Miami Marlins' new stadium is included in the study, and is shown to have received a $100 million tax subsidy at a lost-government-revenue pricetag of $132 million. The study looked at 48 stadiums and arenas in America's Big 4 sports. The Marlins received the 12th most in federal subsidy and caused the 10th most in lost revenue. Click on Brookings Study for the full story.

Poll result: Not LeBron, not Shaq, not Wade -- Riley is Heat's biggest acquisition: We asked what has been the Miami Heat's biggest personnel move or acquisition, and hiring executive Pat Riley was a runnaway winner with 50.3 percent. After that it was 24.7% for drafting Dwyane Wade, 16.9% for signing LeBron James/BIg Three, 6.7% for trading for Shaquille O'Neal, and 1.3% for trading for Alonzo Mourning.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

August 12, 2016

Ricky Williams stir-frying cannabis in butter and John Oliver's delicious take on American newspapers; plus complete 2016-17 Heat schedule with highlights, NFL/Dolphins betting odds, your verdict on the Summer Olympics & more


Meltdown1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 11. Pictured is Time magazine's latest cover, about the Donald Trump campaign, entitled 'Meltdown.' This is the most volatile, fascinating presidential election season of my lifetime, and I'm not sure there is a close second. 2) Single-game tickets to the Oct. 10 FSU at Hurricanes game have sold out. To go, you now must buy a UM season-ticket package. 3) R.I.P., ESPN broadcaster John Saunders, 61. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Favorite Summer Olympics sport poll, Tinder's favorite jobs, college football/Canes/Kaaya betting odds, your Marlins/A-Rod verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Emboldened Tannehill, new offense on stage as Dolphins open preseason: Click on Result Won't Matter, But How Tannehill Looks In New Offense Will for my new column in advance of Miami's Friday night exhibition opener at the Giants. 

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI: The Weight Has Just Begun, the latest, inside the office and expectations of new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt. A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating opening for Dolphins and Canes. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chased 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp neared. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that says it all.

Thank you, HBO: I am blatantly double-dipping into your product to float this latest blogpost. First comes my take on John Oliver's recent rant on journalism and newspapers, followed by Bill Simmons' interview last night with actor Seth Rogen and former Dolphin Ricky Williams discussing weed:

BULL'S-EYE: THANK YOU, JOHN OLIVER, FOR YOUR SPOTLIGHT ON THE VALUE OF, AND SAD STATE OF, THE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER: A bit belatedly (this first aired Sunday on HBO's Last Week Tonight With John Oliver), I wanted to thank Oliver for his typically astute take, in this case on journalism in general and finacially struggling American newspapers in general. As Donald Trump wars with the media, calls reporters the most dishonest people in the world and creates a climate in which his supporters chant "lock them up!" at journalists, Oliver properly places in context the continuing value of local newspapers while also skedwering the direction in which they are headed in the digital age. Most fellow journalists like myself -- infantry at the ground level who haven't been laid off, yet -- found the piece brilliant. Most management-level newspaper bosses likely did not. The Newspaper Association of America did, not, either. Click here for the story why. I thought it was spot on in every, on both its overarching points: 1) Why local newspapers continue to be indispensable even as they struggle economically. And 2) how newspapers have been forced to make unfortunate decisions and go in dubious directions in an attempt to survive in the digital age. A thoughtful and thought-provoking piece here. [Note to self: You should have led this blogpost with something about the Dolphins or Canes. Would have gotten a lot more online clicks!]

 WEED CHAT: SETH 'N RICKY TALK POT WITH BILL SIMMONS: This was from last night's Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons on HBO. "High"light: Williams revealing he sautes marijuana in butter in order to stir-fry food in a cannabis flavoring. (I wonder if Malia Obama would enjoy that? OY!) Marijuana has officially been de-stigmatized when a popular actor, a prominent former NFL star and a major sports broadcaster sit around all talking about smoking pot, and doing it as casually as if they were discussing the Olympics. And, perhaps even more remarkably, when the reaction and attitude of an old sports columnist is far, far closer to nonchalant amusement than it is to outrage.

 DOLPHINS, NFL STAT-LEADER BETTING ODDS: Via Bovada today: Passing yards--Drew Brees is favorite at 5-1 odds, then Ben Roethlisberger 6-1 and Philip Rivers 15-2, with Dolphin Ryan Tannehill tied for 16th at 40-1. Receiving yards--Antonio Brown is fave at 2-1, then Julio Jones 3-1 and Odell Beckham 15-2, with Fins' Jarvis Landry tied for 20th at 66-1. Rushing yards--Adrian Peterson is the pick at 3-1, then Todd Gurley 5-1 and Doug Martin 10-1, with Miami's Jay Ajayi tied for 22nd at 50-1.  

COMPLETE 2016-17 HEAT REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE: Highlights include one visit by Dwyane Wade in a Bulls uniform, one visit by Kevin Durant and Golden State, two trips here for LeBron James' Cavaliers and (hallelujah!) no Christmas Day game: 



26 Wed. @ Orlando 7:00 PM FSS





4 Fri. @ Toronto 7:30 PM FSS

7 Mon. @ Oklahoma City 8:00 PM FSS


12 Sat. UTAH 8:00 PM FSS

14 Mon. @ San Antonio 8:30 PM FSS

15 Tues. ATLANTA 7:30 PM FSS

17 Thurs. MILWAUKEE 7:30 PM FSS

19 Sat. @ Washington 7:00 PM FSS

21 Mon. @ Philadelphia 7:00 PM FSS

23 Wed. @ Detroit 7:30 PM FSS

25 Fri. @ Memphis 8:00 PM FSS

26 Sat. MEMPHIS 8:00 PM FSS


30 Wed. @ Denver 9:00 PM FSS


1 Thurs. @ Utah 9:00 PM FSS

3 Sat. @ Portland 10:00 PM FSS

6 Tues. NEW YORK 7:30 PM FSS

7 Wed. @ Atlanta 7:30 PM FSS

9 Fri. @ Cleveland 7:30 PM FSS

10 Sat. @ Chicago 8:00 PM FSS/NBA TV



16 Fri. L.A. CLIPPERS 8:00 PM FSS

18 Sun. BOSTON 6:00 PM FSS

20 Tues. ORLANDO 7:30 PM FSS

22 Thurs. L.A. LAKERS 7:30 PM FSS

23 Fri. @ New Orleans 8:00 PM FSS


29 Thurs. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM FSS

30 Fri. @ Boston 7:30 PM FSS


1 Sun. DETROIT 6:00 PM FSS

3 Tues. @ Phoenix 9:00 PM FSS

4 Wed. @ Sacramento 10:30 PM FSS

6 Fri. @ L.A. Lakers 10:30 PM FSS

8 Sun. @ L.A. Clippers 3:30 PM FSS

10 Tues. @ Golden State 10:30 PM FSS/NBA TV

13 Fri. @ Milwaukee 8:00 PM FSS


19 Thurs. DALLAS 7:30 PM FSS



25 Wed. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM FSS

27 Fri. @ Chicago 8:00 PM FSS/ESPN

28 Sat. DETROIT 7:30 PM FSS

30 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM FSS


1 Wed. ATLANTA 7:30 PM FSS


6 Mon. @ Minnesota 8:00 PM FSS

8 Wed. @ Milwaukee 8:00 PM FSS

10 Fri. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM FSS

11 Sat. @ Philadelphia 7:30 PM FSS

13 Mon. ORLANDO 7:30 PM FSS

15 Wed. @ Houston 8:00 PM FSS

24 Fri. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM FSS

25 Sat. INDIANA 8:00 PM FSS

27 Mon. @ Dallas 9:30 PM TNT



3 Fri. @ Orlando 7:00 PM FSS/ESPN


6 Mon. @ Cleveland 7:00 PM FSS


11 Sat. TORONTO 8:00 PM FSS

12 Sun. @ Indiana 6:00 PM FSS/NBA TV



19 Sun. PORTLAND 6:00 PM FSS

21 Tues. PHOENIX 7:30 PM FSS

23 Thurs. TORONTO 7:30 PM FSS

26 Sun. @ Boston 6:00 PM FSS

28 Tues. @ Detroit 7:30 PM FSS

29 Wed. @ New York 7:30 PM FSS

31 Fri. NEW YORK 8:00 PM FSS



5 Wed @ Charlotte 7:00 PM FSS

7 Fri. @ Toronto 7:30 PM FSS

8 Sat. @ Washington 7:00 PM FSS



Poll result: Pool wins poll as swimming reigns in Summer Olympics: In an incredibly unpopular poll we asked what is your favorite sport to watch in the Summer Olympics and among five choices swimming led with 31.4 percent, followed by track & field 22.0%, gymnastics 18.7%, basketball 5.1% and soccer 4.2%. Another 18.6% voted "something else."

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

August 10, 2016

Other than canoe slalom and badminton, what's your favorite Olympic sport? New poll. Vote now!; plus new betting odds on Canes/Kaaya, Suey Awards/Back In My Day, Tinder's favorite jobs, your verdict on A-Rod and Marlins & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10. The Chicago Cubs lead in MLB in run differential with plus-186. The record, plus-411, was set by Joe Dimaggio and Red Ruffing's 1939 Yankees. 2) The pie chart on Ichiro's 3,000 MLB hits: 84.43 percent Mariners, 10.37% Yankees and 5.20% Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Should Marlins sign Alex Rodriguez with poll, Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on Dolphins/Canes win totals & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Suey Awards/Back In My Day: The LeBatard Show's annual Suey Awards voting is underway, and there is a category to name the best of our Back In My Day segments. There are 12 finalists. Click here for a 9-minute audio highlighting each, or here to go directly to the poll. Surprisingly, to me, there is one clear leader. My personal pick (Research) isn't even in the top five.

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: The Weight Has Just Begun, the latest, inside the office and the expectations of new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt. A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Dwyane Wade's departure from Heat creating chance for Dolphins and Canes. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp nears. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that says it all.

RioOTHER THAN CANOE SLALOM AND BADMINTON, WHAT SUMMER OLYMPICS SPORT INTERESTS YOU MOST?: Are you like me with the Summer Olympics? There are 39 sports, officially, and I don't pay attention to about 35 of them. Somewhere in Rio de Janeiro right now the U.S. could be going for the gold in canoe slalom. Whatever. Words never spoken: "You catch that South Korea-Australia badminton match last night?" I have identified and put to a poll vote what I'd call the five bell-cow sports that carry the Summer Games. I may be wrong. That's why God invented the "other" category. Take a dip in our poll, say which Rio Games sport most interests you, and check back often to monitor evolving results:

TinderTINDER SHOWS SOME LOVE FOR JOURNALISTS: Dating site Tinder just released its list of the most "right-swiped" jobs in Florida for men and women, the Tinder equivalent of approval or liking someone, and "Journalist" is No. 4 for men -- meaning that if my wife would allow me to date, I might have a shot. The esteem for my profession comes as a pleasant surprise, and in the wake of Donald Trump calling journalists "the most dishonest people in the world," which, as Ma used to say, is like the pot calling the kettle black. Notice that "CEO/Entrepreneur" also ranks high quite high on both lists. Hmm. If I ask someone what they do and they answer, "I'm an entrepreneur," the bulls--t bell goes off and I assume what they really mean is, "I'm currently unemployed, but I have a plan in place to become a billionaire."

KaayaUPDATED COLLEGE FOOTBALL ODDS FOR CANES, KAAYA: From Bovada today, not much love for the Miami Hurricanes, who now are 100-1 lonmgshots to win the national championship (tied for 28th), after being 66-1 immediately following last season. A huge reason is the high regard for ACC rivals and UM roadblocks Clemson and Florida State. Favorites nationally are Alabama at 6-1, LSU 7-1, Clemson 17-2, Michigan and Ohio State both 9-1, and Florida State 10-1. Heisman Trophy favorites are LSU RB Leonard Fournette at 4-1 and Clemson QB DeShaun Watson at 9-2. Canes QB Brad Kaaya (pictured) is tied for 16th at 33-1.

Poll result: Close call, but most think Marlins should sign A-Rod: We asked what best reflects your thoughts on whether the Marlins should sign a soon-to-be-available Alex Rodriguez, and it was 48.6 percent "Yes, yes. Do it!" and 44.9% "No. Please. No!" The other 6.5% were undecided.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

July 23, 2016

Is NBA right to pull '17 All-Star Game from Charlotte over anti-LGBT law? New poll. Vote now!; plus new NFL MVP odds, Canes' Richt at ACC Kickoff, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, your verdict on Ajayi vs. Foster & more


1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 23. Ichiro is at 2,996 hits after going 0-for-1 in last night's homestand-opening Marlins loss, and is not in starting lineup tonight. Now likely his milestone hit wouldn't come before Monday at earliest. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins sign Arian Foster with poll, Canes football on "surprise" list, LeBron James parties & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

New NFL MVP odds: Via Bovada, Packers' Aaron Rodgers opens as betting favorite to win NFL MVP award at 4-1 odds, followed by Ben Roethlisberger 7-1, Cam Newton 15-2, Russell Wilson 8-1 and Tom Brady 9-1, the latter devalued because of four-game suspension. Top Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 150-1, tied for 34th.

NBA LEADS WAY IN LEAGUES/ATHLETES DELVING INTO POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES: The NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver made good on a threat Thursday and removed the league's 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, N.C., because that state's refusal to repeal a law that critics say is anti-LGBTQ and encourages discrimination based on sex and gender. But, that same day, Nbaasg17in that same Charlotte, the ACC Football Kickoff (including the Miami Hurricanes) was held. Clearly, sports is still feeling its way in terms of whether to act or not in decisions that are political or involve social issues. Also, clearly, the NBA is leading the way on action. Just last week, it was four NBA star who opened the ESPY Awards with powerful statements agsint gun violence and shooting by and of police. There still is uncertainty, though, as seen in the WNBA, which fined players from three teams for wearing T-shirts during warmups Thursday in protest of recent police-related violence, yet in a statement said, "We are proud of WNBA players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues." Hmm. What to do? Should leagues and athletes "stick to sports" and not blur the line on social activism? Or is it right that leagues and players, as role models, lead the way in weighing in on such stuff? I align with the latter view. We offer this poll as a microcosm or indication of how our readers feel on this broad question. I'll vote "yes," but it is your consensus that will paint the picture. Vote now, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

FAREWELL, LOCKHART STADIUM: AN ODE TO THE ORIGINAL STRIKERS: [Click on Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham for our latest column. An alternate blog-exclusive version follows here] This was circa 1977-83, pre-Major League Soccer, when the original North American Soccer League had earned a foothold in this country, and when the original Fort FtlstrikersLauderdale Strikers had done the same locally, winning a loyal and considerable following. Lockhart Stadium, off I-95 and Commercial, filled to near its 20,000- Rayhudsonseat capacity for most home games. It was intimate, conveying a Fenway or Wrigley vibe for the lads in the bumblebee uniforms. Tailgating was huge. Fans showed up hours early. Strikers flags waved in the parking lots amid the rising smoke from cookout grills. This was pre-Heat, Marlins or Panthers. Other than Dolphins and Canes the Strikers  were the biggest thing in town. Lockhart Stadium is where showman-coach Ron Newman once rose from a coffin at midfield to demonstrate his team's resilience. Where a young blond Brit named Ray Hudson (pictured) made the women swoon. Where European legends like Gerd Muller and Georgie Best played their career's winters. Where a Rotten to the Cor banner flew against Dutch coach Cor Van der Hart. I covered those early Strikers teams as a fulltime beat, my first big break and major assignment for the Miami Herald. Interest (and travel budgets) were high, so all of a sudden I'm a kid being sent to Vancouver to cover a team. It seemed like a big deal. And it was, for a time. Now fast forward almost 40 years, if you can believe that. MLS is futbol king in America now. The NASL is still Ronnewmanaround, but as a diminished, second-tier league. The Strikers are still around in their latest iteration, but a shell of their former selves. This week those Strikers, currently averaging a meager 1,310 fans per game, worst in the NASL, announced they are leaving Lockhart for Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill (starting Aug. 20), which is one-fourth the capacity. It may be because Lockhart is now old and decrepit. Or because developers want to turn that area into a water theme park. Or because the Strikers are waving a white towel and admitting a team playing to 85 percent empty seats presents a depressing tableau. It may be some of all of that. What it also is: A chapter ending for a small but not insignificant piece of South Florida sports history. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Lockhart Stadium -- the original version. There was a time when that marriage was strong and supported buoyantly, back in the day, before Greater Miami boomed into a major sports town, and it should remain the template as David Beckham continues trying to realize his dream for an MLS team in Miami. Strikers home games were an event, Lockhart was home, and in the teeming crowd it felt like you were surrounded by friends and neighbors. Farewell, Original Strikers at Lockhart. It didn't end right, but those halcyon days as the late '70s turned to early '80s contributed some special snapshots to the album of our sports history.

Poll result: Foster edges Ajayi for Dolphins RB in closest vote ever: We asked which running back you expect will have the bigger role in Dolphins' offense this season, and it was newly acquired Arian Foster edging young Jay Ajayi by 50.9 percent to 49.1% as we called it final. I cannot think of a closer either/or vote in all the years of our blog polls. The lead went back and forth. You truly were torn.

WHAT MARK RICHT SAID TO ACC MEDIA THAT REALLY MATTERED: University of Miami's time slot was this week at the ACC Football Kickoff and media days in Charlotte. We cull though the boring stuff and bring you what we found most notable from coach Mark Richt: On the season and immediate outlook: "If we do things right and don't do things to hurt ourselves, there's a great chance to have Theusuccess. And then, once we get the ball rolling, I think people will say, 'Miami is back.' I don’t think people will say, 'Miami’s having a good year.' They'll say, 'Miami’s back.' You can say you’re back when you have the tradition of five national championships in the last 30 years." On his attitude with assistant coaches: "I got to cherry-pick guys that would really buy into how I like to do things. I told the coaches that I am coaching QBs again, I'm calling plays, I'm getting in the middle of this offense. I don't have time to baby-sit anybody. I tell them if I have to motivate you, we've got a problem. If I’ve got to motivate a staff member to do his job, I’m probably going to get another staff member." On his deep religious beliefs: "I happen to be a Christian. That's just what I am. I'm not using it. I think we need to be true to who we are, what we believe. I'm not trying to make anybody believe anything I believe. I just want to do things in a way that I think God would be pleased with me. That's my goal on a daily basis. I'm not trying to use anything. I'm just trying to be who I am." On recruiting and relationships: "The big thing is to make sure that the high school coaches know that they're welcome in our place, that we want to recruit their guys, we want the local guys to stay home, and we want to be honest with everybody and do our recruiting in a way that everybody appreciates." On his goal for UM in 2016: "Win the Coastal division. Get back to the ACC championship game." Pictured, apropos of nothing: Snoop (The U) Dogg.

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July 02, 2016

No way D-Wade really leaves the Heat ... right? Poll. Vote now!; plus Whiteside re-ups, Deng/Johnson depart; also, Dolphins playoff odds, Dan Jennings revisited, Mark Richt ranked, Greg Cote acting, your verdict on Heat getting Durant & more


Wilfork1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 2. Happy new month all! And here's Vince Wilfork naked on the cover of a national magazine, for no good reason whatsoever that is readily discernible. 2) has a long read here on the Ole Miss NCAA problem with a large dose of Laremy Tunsil, the Dolphins No. 1 draft pick implicated in some of the allegations. Recommended reading. 3) Congratulations to the Dolphins and the Dolphins Cancer Challenge for raising $5.06 million for cancer research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, bringing the event’s six-year total beyond $16 million. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat getting Kevin Durant poll, Euro '16 quarterfinals, Summitt/Ryan deaths, new Back In My Day, your next-champion verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat, the new one, on Wade's role as Miami nears NBA free agency. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Still no love for poor Dolphins: New betting odds out today from Bovada on each NFL team's chances of making the playoffs, and Dolphins are 9-4 against, ranking 23rd. Miami also is last in AFC East by that gauge, with Patriots tied for first overall at 1-5 for, and Bills and Jets tied for 19th at 2-1 against.

HassanWHITESIDE STAYS WITH HEAT; DENG, JOHNSON DEPART: [Update: Luol Deng signs with Lakers, Joe Johnson with Jazz. Neither departure a surprise]. Original post: It's 2016 and so, naturally, the news that Hassan Whiteside will stay and re-sign with the Miami Heat came not via traditional media but on his Snapchat account, where he wrote simply, "#HeatNation it is." And in a brief, first-person bugling on the Rileygodfather that read:" I've p
layed on eight teams since college — from Reno to Sioux Falls to Sichuan, China. I am not ready for there to be a ninth. I have decided to re-sign with Miami. I just wanted to take this time to tell all the fans how much you mean to this team, and to me. Can’t wait to get back to work and try to bring another championship to Miami. #HeatNation." His Miami deal reportedly will be for four years and $98 million, max money. So much for all the speculation about the Heat not considering him max-dollars-worthy. Let's file that in the same garbage bin as last night's faulty reporting/speculation (reportulation?) across the Internet that Dallas and Mark Cuban had claimed the inside lane on Whiteside and that the Heat were "losing ground." Pat Riley wins again! Or, does he? The Heat just spent more than it wanted to, more than it thought the player was worth, to meet the market and keep Whiteside. Riley must now make spending all of that salary-cap dough on Whiteside jibe with how to also lure the whale Kevin Durant (they meet Sunday) and, hopefully, re-sign Dwyane Wade, too. Can it all work? Surely Whiteside's commitment makes Miami more attractive to Durant, but now all of the dollars must fit. Buckle up, kids. The ride has just begun.  

DwadeNO WAY DWYANE WADE MIGHT ACTUALLY LEAVE THE HEAT ... RIGHT?: Can the Heat beat tall odds and boat the whale Kevin Durant? Would they pay big to hang onto Hassan Whiteside? Those were two main questions as Miami entered NBA free agency at midnight Thursday, Whiteside answered with a resounding yes and Durant still TBD. But Dwyane Wade's future is right there next on the offseason marquee. I cannot envision Wade leaving the Heat after 13 seasons here. I doubt it'll happen. But the possibility cannot be discounted. He is reportedly talking with four teams and being offered a max contract by the Knicks and Bucks. If the Heat is hardballing/lowballing Wade to accept, say, $8-10 million for one year and some other team is offering double that, well, pride more than money could drive Wade's decision. That's the topic of my latest column; click on Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat to read. I'm curious what you see as the likelihood Wade might actually leave. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: Low bar on Heat's chances with Durant: We asked you the realistic likelihood of Heat landing free-agent "whale" Kevin Durant, and a plurality of 42.5 percent put the chance at less than 10 percent. Then it was 16.7% at 20-29, 15.0% at 10-19, 9.8% at 30-39, 9.4% at 50-plus, and 6.7% at 40-49. That isn't much optimism, but there was some hope, with more than 25 percent giving Miami at least a one in three shot.

DAN JENNINGS ON MARLINS' CONTENTION: "I FULLY EXPECTED IT": Former manager Dan Jennings reached out to me after this week's column on how the 2016 Marlins have earned support no matter the animus against owner Jeffrey Loria. (Miami has lost two straight but remains on playoff pace). I wrote that the club's promotion of the general manager Jennings to Djenningsmanager after Mike Redmond was fired last year was an embarrassment and made the Marlins a laughingstock -- all true. But Jennings (pictured) wanted to make clear it wasn't his idea; that Loria's decision shocked him as much as anybody. Noted. What I wrote put that burden on the decision to promote a man who hadn't managed since high school; it was never on Jennings. Anyway, Jennings also wanted to note the '15 team ended on an the upbeat, finishing on a 19-12 run. I'd also mention (he didn't) that the winning percentage ended up better under Jennings (.444) than it had been under Redmond (.421). That doesn't justify Loria's nutty decision, but it verifies Jennings at least made the most of the tough spot he was put in. Last Oct. 3, after a doubleheader sweep of the Phillies on the next-to-last day of the season, players and staff gathered in a Philadelphia hotel ballroom for a year-end party and two prominent Marlins players stood up to speak in praise of Jennings and hope for his return. (I first heard this from a player, not from Jennings). By the end, Jennings had gradually won the respect of players who'd been very dubious and initially angry over the move. Much of the respect he earned was in playing Marcell Ozuna over the wishes of Loria, which played a part (I presume) in Jennings' eventual dismissal. Jennings is now assistant to the GM with the rival Washington Nationals but a piece of his heart remains in Miami. "Other than 19 times a year [when the two teams meet] I'm pulling for those guys," Jennings said of the Marlins. By late summer last year he'd sensed a young team jelling, and says of this year's turnaround, "I fully expected it." Bottom line: The Marlins promoting a GM to a manager's job he hadn't done since high school will forever be fair play when folks are lining up odd moves by Loria. But Jennings did the best he could, and, as it turned out, that wasn't bad.

RichtCANES' RICHT RANKED NO. 16 OF ALL FBS COACHES: There are 128 FBS (nee Division 1A) college football coaches. Miami's Mark Richt (pictured) is 16th in a new ranking by, which, to its credit, predates the internet in its coverage of college football. The predictable, usual suspects (Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh) are 1-2-3. Also of note, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher is ranked 7th and Florida's Jim McElwain 30th. FIU's Ron Turner (112th) and FAU's Charlie Partridge (113th) are lowly-rated, but there are positive signs for each. Turner's Panthers improved to 5-7 last year from 1-11 two seasons earlier, and Partridge's Owls, though 3-9 in both his seasons, seem on the ascent due to a foundation of solid recruiting. Oh, and Kirby Smart, who replaced Richt at Georgia, is ranked 54th.

GregcoteactorGREG COTE, THESPIAN: From today's Houston Chronicle review of the play "Ten Ways On a Gun" at the Landing Theatre: "Greg Cote is irresistible as Benji Kugel, a midlevel-manager type on the rise in the world of corporate rip-offs. In one sequence, the possession of the gun sends Cote into a dreamlike delirium. He sent the audience into stitches as he sang, danced and gesticulated to Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" while his castmates danced in Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts and coconut bras." Always weird when another Greg Cote, this one evidently a Houston-area actor, shows up in the news. We Greg Cotes are not as common as John Smiths, so it's fun to hear of another of any prominence. My alter-ego the actor is pictured.

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