March 19, 2015

NCAAs a foregone conclusion? Most boring March Madness ever? Poll. Vote now!; plus Charles Clay, Ron Fraser, Haiku Challenge news, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Loria reimaging, Pounceys, D&G & more

1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 19. Corned beef. The meat I really enjoy one day a year, then never think of again. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): March Madness Haiku Challenge, Wade beats LeBron, UM men denied NCAAs, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine. (New stuff from yesterday's LeBatard Show).

Georgia State coach falls off chair during game: Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, on a courtside office chair due to an injury, falls from chair in closing minutes of his 14th-seeded team's upset of No. 3 Baylor today. Funny! Click here to watch.

Charles Clay to Bills: Dolphins today decline to match contract offer by Buffalo, meaning tight end Clay is headed to Bills. For him it's a smart financial move, dubious football move, awful lifestyle move. 

Ron Fraser statue dedication: The Miami Hurricanes will have a ceremony unveiling a new Rom Fraser statue on April 24 at 4 p.m. outside Mark Light Field. Fraser, the two-time national champion baseball coach, passed Away in at age 79 in 2013.  

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat soaring, Panthers nearly done. Update entering Thursday/today: A daily blog feature as two teams (one barely) fight to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending up in 7th place at 31-36 (W2), after last night's big 108-104 home win over Portland led by Dwyane Wade's 32 points. Miami is now 2 1/2 games from 6th with 15 games left (next Friday vs. Denver). Heat playoff likelihood: 60.0% (up 13.6) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 31-39 (L2), 3 points from 9th and 7 points from 8th with 12 games left (next tonight vs. Detroit). Cats playoff likelihood: 1.6% (unchanged) per sportsclubstats.com.

ARE WE STARING DOWN THE BARREL OF THE MOST BORING MARCH MADNESS EVER?: You could make the argument that we are if the feel of "foregone conclusion" is a barometer. Think about it. Kentucky is 1aa1amarchmad34-0, a unanimous No. 1 and a huge favorite (near even-odds) to win the men's NCAA Tournament. On the women's side, UConn is 32-1, also a unanimous No. 1 and perhaps an ever bigger favorite. I'd feel very good if you gave me Kentucky and UConn and you took the field. I get the two favorites; you get everybody else. I cannot recall a previous year in which the two overall No. 1s were such prohibitive favorites. Doesn't mean brackets will be filled out any less or that office pools will be smaller, but, for me, at least, the seeming inevitability of Kentucky's men and UConn's women reigning makes this March Madness feel like we know the ending even as the story is just starting.

HAIKU CHALLENGE CONTEST UPDATE: DEADLINE EXTENDED!: Due to unpopular demand we are extending the deadline to enter our annual March Madness Haiku Challenge into next week. (As an 1aa1ahaikuemailer put it, "Why end the contest just as the tournament is beginning, you moron!" Fair comment). So you still have time to get those 17-syllable poems in. Three simple rules: 1. If your poem is 17 syllables exactly and it's about the NCAA Tournament/March Madness/college hoops, it's a valid entry. 2. You may submit entries here in the blog's 'Comments' section below (preferred) OR email them to gcote@miamiherald.com. 3. You may enter as many haikus as you wish. We'll give you some warning on the new deadline but enter now just to be safe. Last year's contest was won by reader Scott Vogelsberg. His winning entry: "Beware Ides of 1aa1adickievMarch * Et tu Brutus the Buckeye * Bubbles pop for all." The judging panel (that's me) appreciated the classic 5-7-5 phrasing, liked the nod to the Roman calendar, loved the link between Ohio State and Shakespeare, and also enjoyed the double entendre on bubbles popping. But you can do better! Contest prize? The grand prize will be the glory of victory, but we'll throw in something else. Maybe a Dolphins or Heat media guide? Maybe a chance to visit the Dan LeBatard Show on a Tuesday we're in-studio? We'll figure something out. In any case, rev your creative mind. Ready, set ... haiku!

JEFFREY LORIA: BIG SPENDER: Still getting used to the re-imaging of Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria, erstwhile notorious tightwad. First, the huge contract for Giancarlo Stanton, Now, the private team jet.
1aa1aboeing767200The Marlins have rented a Boeing 767-200 (the model pictured) for the season and it includes 84 oversized luxury seats, a massage table and card tables. The outside of the jet will bear the Marlins logo. Miami also has expanded its overall payroll as well as its scouting, player development, marketing and sales departments. Did I mention the executive chefs to prepare meals for home games? Many Marlins fans still think negatively of Loria and maybe always will, but give him this. He's trying. And spending.

ON THE POUNCEYS' SNIPES AT WALLACE: Oh, those Pouncey brothers! Cue the ghost of Ronald Reagan 1aa1apounceysshaking his head with a smirk and saying, "Well, there they go again..." So Dolphin Mike Pouncey and his bro Maurkice (pictured) pretty much say in an interview "good riddance" to departed Mike Wallace. Maurkice drops the hot-potato word "coward," assuring media (over-)attention. To me this isn't a big deal because the Pounceys by now are established loose cannons and Wallace is a ship sailing fast from Finland. (Mike who?)

THE SLOW SUICIDE OF DOLCE & GABBANA: It's above my pay grade and sartorial splendor, but Dolce & Gabbana is an Italian luxury fashion line in the category Armani, Gucci and Versace. It is only important to 1aa1ad&gnote that founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana both are gay because of the controversy now embroiling them. Celebrities led by Elton John have condemned the  brand and promoted a boycott of D&G because of the founders' saying in an interview that gay adoption is unnatural and referring to babies born via in-vitro fertilization as "synthetic children." The LGBT community, non-gays who have benefited from IVF and many others inclined toward tolerance are sympathetic to the boycott, which seems to be growing. Many others agree with D&G's opinions or align on the side of freedom of speech in the social media age. What's interesting to me is that it feels like such business-suicide for a high-end fashion house to be perceived as anti-gay or anti-same sex parents. I am generalizing here, but feel safe in thinking D&G's customer base is gay or OK with same-sex adoption to a far greater extent than it would include supporters of D&G's stance on the matter. #BoycottDolceGabbana

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

 

March 17, 2015

March Madness Haiku Challenge! Got 17 syllables? Enter here, enter now!; plus Wade leads Heat past LeBron, Canes men miss on NCAAs, latest Hot Button Top 10, Heat/Panthers playoff update & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.


1aa1adaypatrick1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 17. Happy St. Patrick's Day! 2) I don't know if new Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills will be better than departed Mike Wallace. But I know this. Stills immediately immediately leads all of South Florida sports in hair. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mike Wallace traded with poll, NFL biggest-moves poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Marlins in fantasy, Canes hoops & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Wade's 32 lifts Miami in Return of LeBron II: [Click on The LeBron Effect for my column from last night's game] LeBron last night made his second return to Miami since jilting leaving the Heat to return to Cleveland, but the story was Dwyane Wade, with 32 points, leading an exhilirating 106-92 Heat win. Playing LeBron brings out the best in Wade and the Heat. "None of our guys had to look at a calendar to know who we were playing," as coach Erik Spoelstra put it.

NCAA Tournament odds: Kentucky of course is a near even-money favorite at 6-5, according to Bovada today. Then it's Arizona at 15-2, Wisconsin 17-2, Duke 9-1 and Villanova and Virginia both 10-1.

Me on podcast: I was invited to discuss Ndamukong Suh, Hassan Whiteside and the Marlins on the Cooper and Rupert podcast out of Los Angeles. Click here to listen. I'm on for 12 minutes starting at 35:00.

The Dolphins, for what's worth...: ...will select Louisville receiver DeVante Parker 14th overall in the first round, according to the latest CBSSports.com mock draft. MY comment: Signing Kenny Stills makes a first-round WR unlikely.

PLAYOFF CHASE UPDATE: Heat/Panthers status entering today/Tuesday: A daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending up in 8th place at 30-36 (W1), 0 games (tiebreaker) from 7th with 16 games left (next Wednesday vs. Portland). Heat playoff likelihood: 48.3% (up 17.2) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 31-38 (L1), 1 point from 9th and 6 points from 8th with 13 games left (next tonight vs. Montreal). Cats playoff likelihood: 3.3% (down 0.2) per sportsclubstats.com.

IT'S BACK! IT'S OUR 10TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!: Because, really, what captures America's mania over the NCAA Tournament and bracketeering better than ancient Japanese short-form poetry!? You know what a haiku is. It's a 17-syllable poem. (Not 16 and not 18!) Ideally it's in 1aa1ahaiku5-7-5 structure but we're loose with that. Our three rules are simple: 1. If your poem is 17 syllables exactly and it's about the NCAA Tournament/March Madness/college hoops, we'll consider it a valid entry. 2. You may submit entries in the blog's 'Comments' section below OR email them to gcote@miamiherald.com, and you may enter as many haikus as you wish. 3. We'll accept entries starting Monday at 8 a.m. and ending Wednesday at 6 p.m., with the winner to be announced on Thursday. Last year's contest was won by reader Scott Vogelsberg. His winning entry: "Beware Ides of March * Et tu Brutus the Buckeye * Bubbles pop for all." The judging panel (that's me) appreciated the classic 5-7-5 phrasing, liked the nod to the Roman calendar, loved the link between Ohio State and Shakespeare, and also enjoyed the 1aa1adickievdouble entendre on bubbles popping. But you can do better! Prizes, you ask? The winner's grand prize will be the glory of victory, but we'll throw in something else. Maybe a Dolphins or Heat media guide? Maybe a sports book publishers send me that I don't read? Maybe a chance to visit the Dan LeBatard Show on a Tuesday we're in-studio? We'll figure something out. In any case, get your creative minds revved up. Remember, the entry window opens at 8 a.m. Monday.

DENIED!: HURRICANES MEN PASSED OVER FOR NCAA TOURNAMENT INVITE; UM WOMEN GET IN: The expert bracketologists had judged Miami likely to be on the wrong side of the bubble coming into Selection Sunday, and for Jim Larranaga's 21-12 Hurricanes the experts unfortunately were right. Miami was denied an at-large bid to the men's NCAA Tournament. It would have been a pleasant surprise more than a shock if UM made it, but the Canes were hurt by a mediocre RPI number and a 1-7 record vs. ranked teams. Now, instead of an eighth NCAA appearance, most recently 2013, Miami will settle for its 11th appearance in the NIT, most recently 2012. No. 2-seeded Miami will host North Carolina Central Tuesday at 7 p.m. Larranaga and UM fans can complain a little but not too much. Since starting the season 8-0 Miami was barely above .500 the rest of the way. Better news: Tonight, Katie Meier's UM women as expected were invited to their NCAAs.

Poll result: Mixed but lukewarm reviews for Wallace's Dolphins term: We asked if you thought Mike Wallace's two seasons with Miami were a success, pretty good,  barely OK or a failure, and it was 38.3 percent barely OK, 37.3% pretty good, 17.8% failure and 6.6% success. 

Poll result: Suh, Graham top NFL's biggest moves: We asked what have been NFL's biggest recent free-agency deals or trades and the top three among 12 choices were Ndamukong Suh to Dolphins with 34.4 percent, Jimmy Graham to Seahawks with 24.6% and Darrelle Revis to Jets with 11.1%.

HOT BUTTON MAR. 15: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins sign Ndamukong Suh, trade Mike Wallace: What a week in Finland! Starts with team signing DT Ndamukong Suh. Ends with Miami trading WR Mike Wallace and signing WR Kenny Stills and TE Jordan Cameron. Of course the big news was Suh. A terrific talent but one who often shows a propensity for unsportsmanlike conduct that has some calling him the league’s dirtiest player. But enough about the Heat’s Hassan Whiteside!

2. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Bubble burst. Canes denied NCAA: March Madness began with last night's Selection Sunday show setting the men’s NCAA Tournament field, with the women’s side coming today. As expected the Canes men narrowly missed and aettle for the NIT; the UM women might sneak in. The alternative, the NIT, should be called the NOT because it ain’t the NCAA.

3. HEAT: LeBron visits tonight as playoff chase continues: The Heat today are ninth in the East and just off playoff pace while awaiting a Monday visit by LeBron James’ Cavaliers — his second time back (first was Christmas) since leaving. Heat president Pat Riley said last week it remains “shocking to me that it happened.” C’mon, Pat. This is a “No Dwelling Zone.”

4. PANTHERS: Big loss has Cats running out of time to make postseason: Panthers lost to Rangers last night to end three-game win streak but remain six points from the final playoff seed with 13 games to play. The good news: Florida still has three games left against Boston, who it is chasing. The bad news: Even winning all three might not be enough.

5. AUTO RACING: Prost wins inaugural Miami ePrix: Nicolas Prost won as the first race of electric cars hummed through downtown Miami streets Saturday in one of 10 stops in the circuit's first season. It was really weird to see cars going that fast with no roar of engines. But no weirder than the only American in the race being a driver named Scott Speed.

6. MARLINS: Fish off to strong spring start: With spring training about one-third done, the Marlins sat atop the Grapefruit League standings with an 8-3 record after beating Detroit yesterday. Can we start the playoffs now?

7. NFL: Flurry of free agency moves, trades: With Miami doing its part, Jimmy Graham, Darrelle Revis, and DeMarco Murray were among the latest wave of NFL players to switch uniforms in the most active offseason in memory.
 
8. BASEBALL: MLB hints at future games in Cuba: New commissioner Rob Manfred expressed openness to playing exhibitions in Cuba if U.S. relations continue to warm. Hey don't blame me, Miami hard-liners. Unlike Ozzie, I don't like Fidel and never have!
 
9. TENNIS: Miami Open gears for next week's start: As Serena Williams ended her Indian Wells boycott, pro tennis shifts to Key Biscayne next week. This year's Miami Open will include a swimwear fashion show, pro beach volleyball tournament and “Taste of the Open” event with celebrity chefs. Reportedly there also will be tennis matches, time permitting.
 
10. BASKETBALL: NBA, NCAA agree to discourage early entries: The NBA and NCAA have agreed on a plan to discourage players from leaving school early for the pros. You knew it had gone too far when middle-school kids started sitting out NBA games because of acne.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

March 16, 2014

Wed pm 3-19: March Madness Haiku Challenge: We have a winner!; plus Top 5 Pats/Patricks, Dolphins' FA grades & more

1aa1apatrick

WE HAVE A MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE WINNER!: And the winner (and runnersup) will be announced in a new blogpost tomorrow/Thursday morning. Stay tuned. Thanks to all. Maybe the best year yet for quality entries.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19. Hope y'all had a beery I mean merry St. Patrick's Day! 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with the onset of March Madness. 3) !n The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins free-agency poll, Heat sky falling, Tiger's error, Canes hoops & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

"Selection Sunday now done, bracket is set, office pools on ... HAIKU!" --Greg Cote

Haiku prize list revealed: Our 2014 Haiku Challenge winner will receive his or her choice of four prizes: 1. Dolphins 2013 Postseason Guide: Which may or may not be a collector's item, considering the team did not make the postseason. 2. Heat 2013-14 Media Guide: It's 496 pages of champion, baby. 3. Meet-n-greet with Dan Le Batard Show: And chance to sit in-studio with us during a Tuesday segment. 4. Eurythmics 1986 album "Revenge": Vinyl, unopened, mint. 

NCAA Tournament betting favorites: Bovada sets the faves as Florida at 11-2, Louisville 13-2, Michigan State 7-1, Arizona 9-1, Kansas/Virginia/Wichita State all 10-1, and Duke 12-1.

MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE: FREE YOUR INNER POET. ENTER CONTEST NOW!: This is the official entry point for our blog's ninth annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. The contest stubbornly 1aa1ahaikuchallengesurvives despite sometimes tepid response owing to too few inspired souls able to see and appreciate the natural marriage of American college basketball mania and Japanese short-form poetry. This a "boutique" contest, meaning its relative unpopularity makes your odds of winning fairly good should you dare to delve. Contest rules? Simple:

1. Haikus must in some way be about the NCAA Tournament or postseason 1aa1ahaikuexample(men or women, Miami-themed or national, serious or funny) and must be in
haiku form, or 17 syllables. Classic 5-7-5 metrical phrasing is preferred but not required, and rhyme-or-no-rhyme is your call, but only entries of exactly 17 syllables will be considered. An example of haiku is shown above.

2. Enter as many times as you like in the Comments section here, but only one entry per comment, please! Haikus must be entered as a comment here in this blogpost to be considered. In the case of similar haikus, favored status goes to first posted.

There will be a prize to be announced soon for the best, most original or inventive haiku. Chances are it will be a crappy prize, with a strong possibility that I'll procrastinate getting it to the winner and perhaps forget altogether. Don't delay because we plan to shut off entries and announce winner in a few days.

1aa1ahaikufigurine 1aa1ahaikuvitale


Defending 2013 Haiku Challenge champ is OC Dolphin with his winner: "Miami, home of roundball * Heat, second to none * Canes, joining the fun." The judges overlooked a lack of 5-7-5 phrasing, charmed by simplicity and use of the quaint 'roundball.'

Our CHAMPIONS ROLL CALL: 2013--OC Dolphin; 2012--Frydad4; 2011--OC Dolphin; 2010--I Am Kazaam; 2009--r.duke; 2008--Tococane; 2007--Bruce and David Tucker (tie); and 2006--Kurt from Boca.

Now, don't be scared. Have fun. Ready ... set ...haiku!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

THE LIST: GREATEST PAT/PATRICKS: The Dolphins just sigbned the greatest active Irish name in sports -- Cortland Finnegan -- but in honor of St. Patrick's Day we bring you the top five greatest Pats or Patricks in South Florida pro sports history:

1. Pat Riley, Heat coach/president, 1995-present

2. Patrick Surtain, Dolphins cornerback, 1998-04

3. Pat Rapp, Marlins pitcher, 1993-97

4. Pat Cummings, Heat forward, 1988-90

5. Patrick Cobbs, Dolphins running back, 2006-10

Note: No Panthers made the top five after the Pat Committee rejected the surname Fitzpatrick.

Dolphins latest Super Bowl odds: Bovada has updated odds today reflecting the first week of NFL free agency, and Miami remains 50-1, tied for 23rd of 32 teams. Betting faves are Seahawks at 6-1, Broncos 7-1, 49ers 15-2, Patriots 9-1 and Packers 10-1.

Heat beats Rockets: OK so the sky isn't falling, after all. That was just a metor shower.

Poll result: Strong grades for Dolphins' early free-agent signings: We asked in the previous blogpost, a great response followed, and y'all came in throwing bouquets at new general manager Dennis Hickey. Tha vast majority thought the Dolphins' early FA work was good (57.6 percent) or excellent (30.1%). Another 10.6% called it fair, and only 1.7% thought it poor.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

March 18, 2013

8th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge: Entries now closed. Winner announced later today; plus Heat, Dolphins, Canes, tennis & more

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20. No surprise that Jake Long is a former Dolphin, now a St. Louis Ram. A few seasons of living up to the No. 1 billing, then a pretty fast decline. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's Basketpalooza! Canes win ACC title, Heat win 22nd straight, NCAA Selection Sunday. 3) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

* Heat streak at 23 after win in Boston: Enormously impressive 105-103 Miami win for 23rd straight, now alone for second-longest streak in NBA history, with LeBron James leading the way with 37. Trying to make it 24 tonight in Cleveland.

1aa1dologo* Dolphins' new logo?: Pictured is the likeliest evidence I have yet seen of the Dolphins' new logo to be unveiled next month. In other Dolphin news, Miami and Dallas will kick off 2013 NFL preseason Aug. 4 in annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, O. And club has been given extra 5th- and 7th-round compensatory draft picks for last year's free-agent departures of Chad Henne, Will Allen and Kendall Langford.

* Hurricanes 7th-best national-title odds: Miami is 14-to-1 to win NCAA national championship, says new Bovada odds. Favorite Louisville at 19-4. Florida Gators 7-1.

* UM women in Big Dance, too: No. 8 seed Miami opens Sunday vs. No. 9 Iowa in women's NCAA's.

* Tennis, anyone?: Annual ATP/WTA event on Key Biscayne has begun. Click on Paradise Found for my latest column, an ode to the Tennis Center of Crandon Park, the oasis on the island.


8TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!

PRIZE-LIST REVEALED: Our new Haiku champion -- to be chosen on Wednesday -- will get his or her choice of the following three prizes: A Miami Herald commemorative coffee-table book celebrating the Heat's 2012 championship ..... a 2013 Dolphins media guide (available in August) ..... or an opportunity to sit in for a Tuesday radio segment on the air with Dan Le Batard, Stugotz and myself on 790 the Ticket/FM 104.3. Enter now! Time running out...

ENTRIES CLOSED; WINNER REVEALED BY MID-AFTERNOON TODAY!

FREE YOUR INNER POET. ENTER HAIKU CHALLENGE NOW: This is the official entry point for our blog's eighth annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. The contest illogically endures despite sometimes tepid response owing to too few inspired souls able to see and appreciate the natural marriage of American 1aa1haikuchcollege basketball mania and Japanese short-form poetry. I call this a "boutique" contest due to most folks running scared from haiku as if it were a rabid dog chasing them. In other words your odds of winning aren't bad should you dare to delve. Contest rules? Very simple:

1aa1haiku131. Haikus must in some way be about the NCAA Tournament or NIT (men's or women's, Miami-themed or national, serious or funny) and must be in haiku form, or 17 syllables. Classic 5-7-5 metrical phrasing preferred but not required, and rhyme-or-no-rhyme is your call, but only entries of exactly 17 syllables will be considered. An example of haiku is shown.

2. Enter as many times as you like in the Comments section here, but only one entry per comment, please! Haikus must be entered as a comment here in this blogpost to be considered. In the case of similar haikus, favored status goes to first posted.

There will be a prize for the best, most original or inventive haiku; see above for the three choices. Enter soon because we plan to shut off entries and announce a winner Wednesday.

The defending 2012 Haiku Challenge champion is Frydad4. Winning entry: "My bracket's busted * Like Sara in accounting * Who might win it all." The judges noted the 5-7-5 phrasing, enjoyed the cheeky yet ambiguous reference to Sara's bosom and also liked the nod to office pools.

1aa1haiku3 1aa1haikujapOur CHAMPIONS ROLL CALL: 2012--Frydad4; 2011--OC Dolphin; 2010--I Am Kazaam; 2009--r.duke; 2008--Tococane; 2007--Bruce and David Tucker (tie); and 2006--Kurt from Boca.

Now, don't be scared. Have fun. Ready ... set ...haiku!

March 16, 2012

Dolphins lose Flynn to Seattle. What now? Alex Smith or bust?; plus my St. Patty's video to you, Madness, Heat, Marlins, Haiku & more

1aa1daypat 1aa1daypat[1) It is Sunday, March 18. Happy St. Patrick's Day Weekend! 2) In honor of my favorite TV show, Showtime's 'Shameless,' here is the theme song, The Luck You Got, by Detroit band The High Strung. 3) The Panthers are about end their endless NHL playoff drought. Kevin Dineen for mayor of Sunrise! 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1stpdayA ST. PATTY'S DAY VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: Try to bring you a little video treat every holiday and today's actors, pictured here left to right, are Dolphin-rejector Peyton Manning, Heat star LeBron James, me, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and suspended UM women's basketball star Riquna Williams. Click HERE to watch. Enjoy.

FLYNN SIGNS WITH SEATTLE; DOLPHINS TURNING SIGHTS ON ALEX SMITH: [Update: Matt Flynn has signed a 3-year, $26 million deal with Seattle -- more than the Dolphins wanted to spend. Now it seems Miami will turn its sights on free agent 49ers QB Alex Smith (pictured), who was here interviewing today. Also reports now that ex-Jaguar David Garrard will be brought in. This begins to feel calamitous for the Dolphins, losing their top two choices in Peyton Manning and now Flynn] Original post: The Big 2 available quarterbacks got away. Peyton Manning, who didn't seem to ever seriously consider the Dolphins at all, 1aa1doors3will be a Titan or a Bronco. Robert Griffin III will 1aa1alexsbe a Redskin. Miami is running out of options. I now have three left after today's loss of Flynn. 1) Sign free agent Alex Smith. He is more proven than Flynn and coming off a pretty solid season. Had a 90.7 passer rating with 17 TDs and only five interceptions. And, turning 28 on May 7, Smith should be coming into his prime. 2) Draft Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. Issue here is he's seen as a lower-first-round guy who may not be worth the 8th overall pick, but if you trade down you could lose him. He's also a guy said to probably need a couple years of development. 3) Stick with incumbent Matt Moore, after all, and table the QB upgrade for a year. I think Miami will select one of these three options and not do a combo platter. In other words, if they sign Smith or stick with Moore, I doubt they would also spend their top draft pick on the position. Too many other needs. (If Garrad is seriously in play, we're all in trouble). Not pulling the high-cost trigger on a trade-up for Griffin and then flatly bombing out in the Manning Sweepstakes and now missing out on Flynn too has left the Dolphins in a very tough spot, with no clearly preferable option left. Smith is not top-tier. Tannehill is no sure thing. And the status quo of Moore would mean haven't upgraded the one position you most wanted to. So what do you hope the Dolphins do now? What is the smartest/safest/preferable/best remaining realistic option? Oy vey.

MADNESS UPDATE: NORFOLK? LEHIGH? WHAT THE---!: Friday was Upset Central with 15-Norfolk stunning Frank Haith's 2-Missouri and 15-Lehigh ousting Coach K and Duke. Oh my. In all there were eight upsets by seed, half of all the games played. ... Thursday in the first big day of full action I had it all wrong. Thought Florida might have a tough time with Virginia this afternoon, but The Gator rolled. Thought Florida State would crush St. Bonaventure, but the Noles rallied to escape 66-63. No. 1s North Carolina and Michigan State advanced. UPSET WATCH: Saturday's games, the biggest upsets by seed have been by 15s Lehigh and Norfolk, by 13 Ohio and by 12s Virginia Commonwealth and South Florida. In all there have been 10 upsets in 32 games, or 31.2 percent. MY BRACKET: Awful. I advanced only nine of 16 teams Friday and now have only 21 of the 32 left. Missouri was a bracket-killer for me because I had Haith reaching the Final Four. MADNESS BONUS: Click on Bracket Man for a delightfully awful parody song/vid to the tune of Elton John's Rocket Man.

HEAT'S POST-BREAK MALAISE: While the NBA obsessed whether Dwight Howard would leave Orlando by Thursday's trade deadline (he didn't), the Heat quietly have gone 5-4 since the all-star break despite terrific play by both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Anybody worried? Anybody concerned Miami is not clearly better than either Chicago or Oklahoma City? I'd bet this: Give Pat Riley truth serum right now and he'd tell you this Big 3 championship parade is not coming nearly as easily as he'd imagined back in the summer of '10.

'FRYDAD4' WINS HAIKU CHALLENGE: Congratulations to our 7th annual Haiku Challenge champion, 1aa1haikuchfrydad4. His winning haiku: "My bracket's busted * like Sara in accounting * who might win it all." The inebriated panel of judges appreciated the simplicity and 5-7-5 metric phrasing, enjoyed the ambiguity of the reference to Sara's bosom, and also liked the nod to office pools. (Frydad4, email me at gcote@miamiherald.com and once I match up ISP addresses to know it's you, we'll figure out a prize). Runnerup haiku is by defending champion OC Dolphin with: "Heels click Kansas home * Badgers, Tigers, Cats, oh my! * Wizard would approve." Third-place haiku is by Tuhle with: "Vegas and pick ems * Office pools, point spreads, side bets * / This is basketball?" Thanks to all who played. (As to the nefarious allegation in Comments that I stiffed OC Dolphin on his prize last year, can it possibly be true? If so email me, OC, and we'll get it right).

1aa1tunaTUNA VISITS MARLINS: Former Dolphins executive Bill "Tuna" Parcells is seen here chatting with Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen this morning up at the Jupiter spring training facility (photo courtesy colleague Manny Navarro). I am not privy to what the two men were discussing. Nor can I confirm rumors that, shortly after this conversation, the Marlins inexplicably drafted Pat White.

Click back. More coming to this latest blogpost...

March 13, 2012

Flynn time! Manning rejects Dolphins; plus Marlins' new theme song, March Madness, Heat road woes, Newseum & more

1aa1dickvitale 1aa1cherryEntries have closed on our annual MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE contest in the blogpost directly below this. The winner will be announced on Friday, Good luck!

[1) It is Thursday, March 15, National Bracket Day, and two days before we all pretend to like corned beef and cabbage. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Bulletin: Peyton Manning late today, as expected, eliminated the Dolphins from his decision, meaning Miami will now turn sights on free agent QB Matt Flynn. 

1aa1dolphinpeytonD-DAY FOR MANNING? DOLPHINS BRACING FOR MANNING'S DECISION: Today we might find out if the awful photoshop of Peyton Manning's head on a dolphin's body will come to pass or be denied. A Denver Post report and a general consensus is that Manning leans to the Broncos or Titans over the Dolphins and Cardinals, but none of his Final Four was known to have been eliminated as of late Wednesday night. The Dolphins have seemed to recede as a candidate ever since being the consensus favorite out the gate. Meanwhile the sudden trade this week of wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Bears becomes somewhat more understandable in 1aa1brandonmlight of the New York Post report that Marshall (pictured) recently punched a woman at a NY nightclub. There are conflicting reports of Marshall's role; in any case Marshall's rep as a trouble magnet is underlined, with an exclamation point. The initial intrigue in the trade was whether the deal was made as a precursor to or a condition of signing Manning, amid speculation Manning did not 1aa1dolphorangewish to inherit the headache that can be the diva Marshall. If not tied to Manning, the trade seemed curious, and dubious. If tied to Manning -- if it meant getting him -- the trade would look brilliant. But that seemed less likely when WR Reggie Wayne, who theoretically might have accompanied Manning to Miami as Marshall's replacement, unexpectedly re-signed with Indy. Now it appears Miami is (likely) losing out on Manning in addition to no longer having a No. 1 receiver. And the multitude cried as a mournful chorus: "It isn't easy being a Dolfan!" Click Dolphins' Desperate Patience for today's latest column by me (and thanks for making it the most-read thing in Sports today on MiamiHerald.com). And, pictured lower right, apropos of nothing, a sneak look at the team's new Nike orange jersey.

MARLINS' NEW THEME SONG: It is called "We Are the Marlins" (appropriately enough) and it is generically bland and yet somewhat catchy, with a Caribbean, vaguely reggae feel. Not sure if Emilio Estefan wrote or produced it, but it bears his musical stamp. Click here to listen.

1aa1marchmadJUMP IN THE POOL, IT'S MARCH MADNESS!: Kentucky is favored to get coach John Calipari his first national title, and other No. 1 seeds are North Carolina, Michigan State and a Fab Melo-less Syracuse, but I'm taking a more parochial approach for my March Madness mini-preview, focusing on the four local or state schools that interest me most this postseason:

1. Miami (women's NCAAs) -- With key seniors departing, this is the year for coach Katie Meier's third-seeded Canes to prove (after a disappointing ACC tournamant) that they can go deep, perhaps even into Final Four territory. UM opens Saturday vs. 14th seed Idaho State in Spokane, Wash.

2. Florida State (men's NCAAs) -- I give Leonard Hamilton's guys a Sweet 16 shot. They beat North Carolina, beat Duke, won the ACC and play great defense. They're also easy to root for as a senior-laden team in a one-and-done sport that sees too many players bolt for the NBA after their freshman year. Noles open Friday vs. No. 14 St. Bonaventure in Nashville.

3. Florida (men's NCAAs) -- Seventh-seeded Gators live and die by 3-pointers so could surprise if their hand is hot from deep, but otherwise I don't see this squad advancing far, maybe not even beyond the first round. UF opens vs. 10th seed Virginia Friday in Omaha.

4. Miami (men's NIT) -- Disappointed to not get a Big Dance bid in Jim Larranaga's first season, but probably didn't deserve one, frankly. UM opened its NIT run last night be beating visiting Valparaiso despite the absence of Durand Scott. Canes next play Minnesota Monday night.

'72 DOLPHINS TOP-SEEDED IN NFL BRACKETOLOGY: NFL.com presents its own 64-team bracket of greatest teams of all time and invites fans to vote here. (First-round voting ends Thursday at 5 p.m.). The four No. 1 seeds are the 1972 Dolphins, 1978 Steelers, 1985 Bears and 1989 49ers. Miami's Perfectos face the 16th-seeded 2011 Packers in the first round. Better get out and vote, Dolfans, or Don Shula will not be happy. Two other Dolphin teams make the bracket: Seventh-seeded '73 Dolphins vs. 10th-seeded '98 Vikings, and 11th-seeded '84 Dolphins vs. sixth-seeded '97 Broncos.

1aa1dwighthDRAMA WEEK FOR HEAT: I guess every week is around here, but this one especially, with Miami losing in Orlando in OT in what could have been Dwight Howard's final home game as a Magician, and then losing last night at Chicago despite the Bulls missing Derrick Rose, in a likely Eastern Conference finals preview. Howard (pictured) is the big target as Today's/Thursday's NBA trade deadline looms. Speculation has him headed to the New Jersey-becoming-Brooklyn Nets, but Orlando desperately is pulling out all stops to convince him to sign a 1aa1ivankacontract extension. One scenario here even has Howard somehow going to the Heat after this season. I'd say the chances of that are roughly equal to those of me having an affair with Ivanka Trump (pictured). Still, interesting to imagine. (I mean Howard-to-Heat, not me and Ivanka). Meantime Miami has now lost four straight road games and just lost to the depleted Bulls, the very team it must beat for a return to the NBA Finals. Should we be worried?

1aa1kimkKARDASHIAN TELL-ALL WORRYING DOLPHINS' BUSH?: A rumored forthcoming tell-all book by Kim Kardashian reportedly will deal heavily with husband-for-a-minute Kris Humphries and with ex-boyfriend Reggie Bush of the Dolphins. Then again "reportedly" in this case means speculation in the celebrity-gossip press like this, so who knows? (More to the point, who cares?) Pictured: A photo of herself that the shy, publicity-avoiding Kim Tweeted last night.

LEBATARD SHOW SHAMELESS PLUG: A new CD, "15 Of The Not Worst Moments in LeBatard Show History," is available now right here and will be out next week on iTunes. This information is a Random Evidence Blog Exclusive (REBE), by which I mean Marc Hochman emailed me and asked for a plug.

THE NEWSEUM, WASHINGTON, D.C.: While visiting friends who live outside the District this past 1aa1newseumweekend we visited the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, a museum dedicated to media through history -- print, electronic and beyond. I expected a small, sparsely visited boutique museum but marveled at a crowded, seven-story mammoth we spent five hours touring. As a journalist I found the place in my wheelhouse but would recommend it to anyone. Click Newseum.org to learn more. It is a place to celebrate freedom.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS THIRD-ROUND DRAFT PICKS: This week Miami traded WR Brandon Marshall for two third-round picks. Through their history the Dolphins have drafted 49 players in that round and 42 have made the team, but only five have made a Pro Bowl with Miami. Dolphin third-round Pro Bowl'ers:

Player   Pos.   Year drafted

Dick Anderson   S   1968

Mercury Morris   RB   1969

Tim Foley   DB   1970

Nat Moore   WR   1974

Jason Taylor   DE   1997

Click back. Probably be further updating or adding to this latest blogpost....

It's our 7th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge! Winner to be announced Friday

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

HAIKU ENTRY DEADLINE IS PAST; WATCH FOR WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED FRIDAY.

FIND YOUR INNER POET. ENTER OUR MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE NOW!: This is the official entry point for our blog's seventh annual March Madness Haiku Challenge, the natural marriage of American college basketball and Japanese short-form poetry, a contest that illogically endures. I call this a "boutique" contest, meaning it isn't usually very popular because most people run from haiku as if it were a rabid dog chasing them. In other words your odds of winning aren't bad should you dare to delve. Contest rules? Simple:

1aa1haiku 1aa1haiku21. Haikus must in some way be about the NCAA Tournament or NIT (men's or women's, Miami-themed or national, serious or funny) and must be in haiku form, or 17 syllables. Classic 5-7-5 metrical phrasing preferred but not required, and rhyme-or-no-rhyme is your call, but only entries of exactly 17 syllables will be considered. An example of haiku is at left.

2. Enter as many times as you like in the Comments section here, but only one entry per comment, please! Haikus must be entered as a comment here in this blogpost to be considered. In the case of similar haikus, favored status goes to first posted.

1aa1haiku3There will be a prize for the best, most original or inventive haiku, but not sure what yet. (One year it was an Official NCAA Men's Final Four Records Book, another year a Dolphins media guide). Enter soon because we'll shut off entries and announce a winner within a couple of days.

The defending champion from 2011 is OC Dolphin with: "The world is crumbling - Barack's ratings are tumbling - Still have time for picks." Other Haiku Challenge champs have been I Am Kazaam (2010), r.duke (2009), Tococane (2008), Bruce and David Tucker (tie, 2007), and Kurt from Boca (2006).

Now, don't be scared. Have fun. Ready ... set ...haiku!

March 14, 2011

OC Dolphin wins March Madness Haiku Challenge!; plus my St. Patrick's Day video, Heat, Canes, Dolphins, porn-meets-pageant & more

[Hi. I'm Greg Cote, the only person on Earth, evidently, who really doesn't give a flying crap about the Fab Five. Click on Twitter to join us there, and on Chat to post questions any time for our Wednesday 1-2 p.m. live online chats.]

OC DOLPHIN WINS 6TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!: Congratulations to long time blog-community leader OC Dolphin for recording his first career victory in our sixth annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. He slayed the field with this simple, neat, gently political winning entry:

"The world is crumbling

Barack's ratings are tumbling

Still has time for picks"

OC, email me at gcote@miamiherald.com and when I match the IP address to your winning entry we'll figure out a prize to send you. Also, if you email me a photo of yourself I'll post it here. Find all our 2011 entries in the blogpost directly below this one. And thanks to all who played along! (Liked a couple of r.duke's haikus, especially the one referencing Precious, but, um, this is a family blog. Sort of).

Previous March Madness Haiku Challenge champions:

2010--I am Kazaam with: "There is no Cinderella / Only step-mothers / Somewhere, Wofford weeps." 2009--r.duke with: "Basketball baby! / Vitale gets priapism / this time every year." 2008--Tococane with: "The Padawan Haith / Will Do Battle With Darth Barnes / The Force Will Prevail." 2007 (tie)--Bruce with: "Slighted Syracuse / Sadness Surrounds Snow City / Orange Turned to blue" and David Tucker with: "The Five Gator Boys / Only Forty Minutes Left / History Awaits." 2006--Kurt from Boca with: "Stay Home and Watch Games / Or Check Scores from the Office / Forget Champ by June."

1aa1haikudick 1aa1haikujap MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE: ENTER NOW! This is the official entry point for our blog's sixth annual March Madness Haiku Challenge, a contest that endures despite a typically tepid response rooted in most Americans' general innate fear of Japanese short-form poetry. Meaning your odds aren't bad should you dare to delve. This year, you may enter as a way of honoring Japan and its tsunami victims, because nothing says "I sympathize" quite like a haiku referencing Dick Vitale. Contest rules? Simple:

1. Haikus must at least tangentially be about the NCAA Tournament (men's and/or women's) and must be in haiku form, or precisely 17 syllables. Classic 5-7-5 metrical phrasing is preferred but not required, and rhyme-or-no-rhyme is your choice, but only entries of 17 syllables will be considered.

2. Enter as many times as you like in the Comments section here, but only ONE entry per comment, please! Haikus must be entered as a comment in this blogpost to be considered. In the case of similar haikus, favored status goes to first posted.

There will be a prize to be announced for the best, most original or inventive haiku. Not sure what yet. One year it was a 264-page Official NCAA Men's Final Four Records Book.

Tip: Haikus specific to this season and this tournament preferred. Bonus tip: "Krzyzewski" is three syllables. Now. Ready ... set ... haiku!

1aa1stpatricksday HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!: Hey here's our latest holiday video just for you! This one is Heat-themed. That's me in the middle with the hat, then left to right, it's LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Pat O'Riley. Notice Pat is the only one not smiling. Uh Oh. Click HERE to enjoy the video.

WEALTHY NORMAN BRAMAN SPENDS $1 MILLION FOR SUCCESSFUL RECALL ELECTION TO EXACT REVENGE BECAUSE HE'S STILL SORE HE FAILED IN HIS PROTRACTED EFFORTS TO STOP THE NEW MARLINS STADIUM: Well, I guess that headline about says it all. (And in other political news, lucky Michelle Spence-Jones evidently has more lives than a cat).

1aa1crown HEAT KING-O-METER UPDATE: [Lousy Heat result vs Oklahoma City last night, but what a spin-dunk move by Dwyane Wade. Lordie!] New update on our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking which of Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season. This is after 68 games, through last night's loss to OK City: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 3,951.07 King points to 3,489.66 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. However, Wade leads in games led, 35-33. (Regular updates whenever you see the crown symbol pictured).

ON YAZ, NFL LOCKOUT: Longtime or careful readers may know Carl Yastrzemski was a boyhood idol who still holds a place in my sentimental heart. Well, if Yaz matters to you too click on Lion In Winter for a wonderful new Dan Shaughnessy (Boston Globe) column on the man who gives few interviews. Also recommended: This column by Sally Jenkins (Washington Post), a particularly astute take on the NFL lockout.

CANES MEN WIN N.I.T. OPENER: The NIT means different things to different schools. For small or downtrodden programs it can mean celebration, a big step in the right direction. For major teams it can be, well, sort of a humbling consolation. Somewhere in between: the UM men coached by Frank Haith to a 19-14 mark. I'm never quite sure whether this is a small program that should be pleased by the NIT invite, or a big program that should be disappointed by anything but the NCAA Tournament. I do now that -- based on the many narrow losses this season, including in the quarterfinals of the ACC tourney -- Miami is not far from playing with the big boys. If only close counted. UM won its N.I.T opener over FAU. Which is fine. I just wish coaches in the "other" tournament (including Haith) would stop talking about the opportunity to play for a championship. The NCAAs decide the one that matters. 

DOLPHINS' OPEN LETTER TO FANS OVER LABOR STRIFE: Click here to read the "open letter" to fans from Mike Dee, the club's business-side CEO. The concept of the letter has been further devalued, not only by the say-nothingness contained, but by the idea something posted online now qualifies, apparently, as a letter. (By the way, I purposely have written/blogged little about the NFL work stoppage, because both sides are greedy, because the topic is boring, and because at this point the likelihood of any games being actually canceled is roughly equal to the probability of Charlie Sheen being named parent of the year).

1aa1carolines PAGEANT SCREWS LOCAL CONTESTANT. WAIT LET ME REPHRASE THAT: Hollywood resident Caroline Schwitzky (sometimes called Carolina), pictured, a former Miss Weston, was denied entry into the Miss Florida beauty pageant because her titles -- not counting the Miss Weston crown she was made to relinquish in scandal -- also include Miss Exxxotica 2008. People are outraged on her behalf! OK, well, most people aren't. But Charlie Sheen is.

NEW DEFINITION OF "All-ROUND WOMAN": The above item reminds me that somebody just told me porn star Asia Carerra is a member of Mensa and once played piano at Carnegie Hall.

1aa1golf "DEAR GREG...": Your blog's OK, but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture from the recent Reid & Fiorentino (Heat broadcasters) golf tournament. And make it a photo in which four delighted men who look as if they've never seen a putt before prepare to burst into ecstatic cheers as O.J. McDuffie rolls one toward the cup. Thank you."

BOOK CLUB: Answer: I am currently half way through, and thoroughly enjoying, Peter Straub's "A Dark Matter." Question: Who gives a crap what book you're reading?

SPELLYNG BEA: An all-time great "Setrec" (correction) appeared in the March 10 Miami Herald. In it, the newspaper corrected having misspelled a key word in its coverage of The Miami Herald Spelling Bee. I couldn't make that up, because this is a blog.

THE LIST: MARCH MADNESS UPSETS: First-round results since the current format (basically) took effect in 1985:

Seed Pairings     Higher Seed's Record

#1 vs. #16   104-0 (100%)

#2 vs. #15   100-4 (96.2)

#3 vs. #14   88-16 (84.6)

#4 vs. #13   82-22 (78.9)

#5 vs. #12   69-35 (66.4)

#6 vs. #11   71-33 (68.3)

#7 vs. #10   62-42 (59.6)

#8 vs. #9   48-56 (46.2)

Click back. Adding more stuff to this latest blogpost later...

April 02, 2010

Dwyane Wade's nightmare; plus Dez Bryant, truth on Marino/Raiders 1990, haiku winner, Marlins stat projections & more

[Note: Dolphins draft poll still welcoming votes in the post directly below this].

1aadwade WADE'S PERSONAL NIGHTMARE: In court papers being filed today Heat megastar Dwyane Wade is asking for full custody of his two sons, 8 and 2, alleging that estranged wife Siohvaughn is an unfit parent and saying she needs psychological help. He also is suing her for defamation, and their divorce trial is set for June. Ugly, bitter situation. Pretty remarkable he can set aside the inner and personal turmoil and perform like he does on the court. Every day, a new reminder that athletes are human. They bleed like us. (Granted, they bleed on thousand-dollar silk sheets and have personal valets to clean up the mess. But you get my point). Pictured: Better days.

DEZ BRYANT: Dolphins met with receiver Dez Bryant last night and are to do so again today, an encouraging sign that the team still is seriously considering him with the 12th overall pick in the draft. Remember the Cote Formula, Dolphins: Baggage Plus High-Impact Trumps Perfect Citizen Without High-Impact.

1aavenusw VENUS WILLIAMS: Venus Williams advances to women's final of Sony Ericcson Open while wearing red negligee (left). "Weird mixup," she explained. "I wore my tennis dress to bed last night." 

MARINO/RAIDERS 1990 TRADE TALKS: I was surprised to read in another Miami Herald blog a recent post about Dan Marino once almost joining the Raiders. A colleague left the impression the trade possibility was not covered at the time, and seems to invite credit for first reporting it. The colleague wrote, "In the mid to late 1990s when I first wrote it, I took a lot of heat from local sports talk radio..." And: "The story broke in the mid 1990s." Hmm. Huh? I happened to cover the Dolphins fulltime for two years, in 1990-91, so I know better. This possible trade was nearly all I wrote about in March 1990, including a March 23 story in which Marino publicly acknowledged for the first time he'd asked to be traded. (You could look it up!) It was first reported then that the L.A. Raiders were the serious suitor, but that Miami's demands for the then-28-year-old Marino were too high. The Dolphins were demanding one or two first-round draft picks, depending on other considerations, plus one or two young but rising players. Raiders players discussed included running back Bo Jackson, cornerback Terry McDaniel and guard Steve Wisniewski. 

ALEX BROWN, ANYONE?: Bears released defensive end Alex Brown today. He is 30, and fairly productive with 43 1/2 sacks in eight seasons including six ast year. Also a play-with-pain guy who had 127 straight starts. Might be someone the Dolphins should consider for the right price. I'm just sayin'.

"I AM KAZAAM" WINS HAIKU CONTEST: I have relegated the March Madness Haiku Challenge winner announcement to this small item in a pique, because the entries were disappointing to me in both number and quality. But standing above the rest was I am Kazaam with: "There is no Cinderella, only step-mothers. Somewhere, Wofford weeps." The alliterative ending nailed it. Congrats, Kazaam. E-mail me your address and once I verify it's you via your IP number we'll agree on a prize.

1aabrooklyn ANDY RODDICK: Here is my column on Roddick and the state of American tennis from the Sony Ericcson Open. Pictured left is Andy's wife Brooklyn Decker, the swimsuit model. This is one (or perhaps two) of the reasons life is very good for Andy.

1aacarneyjackson AREA BOY SLAYS GIANT 'CUDA: The young boy in the picture is Jackson Carney, 7, who helped the man at right bring in this large barracuda off the south jetty at Haulover. Jackson is the son of a friend of ours. That is one of the small privileges of bloggery: Throwing in a personal photo on occasion.

RICKY MARTIN: Always suspected he was gay. But then when he revealed he was, I found myself not giving even half a crap.

THE LIST: MARLINS PROJECTIONS: Courtesy Bodog.com, over/unders on key statistical categories for prominent Marlins in 2010:

27.5   Hanley Ramirez homers

30   Dan Uggla homers

.297   Chris Coghlan average

20.5  Jorge Cantu homers

14   Ricky Nolasco wins

15   Josh Johnson wins

Note: Also for Ramirez: 95.5 RBIs and .320 average. 

Twitter.com/gregcote

March 24, 2010

March Madness Haiku Challenge: Deadline near. Enter now!

It's LIVE CHAT WEDNESDAY! Doing it from 1-2 p.m. today in the Q&A Forum. Click on Chatter to join us then or to post questions early].

1aahaiku 1aahaiku2 MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE DEADLINE NEARING!:

The NCAA Tournament has reached its Sweet 16, brackets are plundered or surviving, our blog's fifth annual "March Madness Haiku Challenge" is getting close to its end. We celebrate the natural marriage of fanatical American men's college basketball and mystical Japanese short-form poetry. Just imagine the two men pictured here are unlikely brothers who share each other's interests only for three magical weeks per year.

Two simple rules:

1. Haikus must be about the NCAA Tournament or college basketball and must be in haiku form, meaning precisely 17 syllables. We do NOT require 5-7-5 metrical phrasing, and rhyme-or-no-rhyme is your choice, but only entries of 17 syllables will be considered.

2. Enter as many times as you like in the Comments section, but only ONE entry per comment, please! Haikus must be entered as a comment in this blogpost to be considered. (Deadline will be this coming weekend, so submit soon). In the case of similar haikus, favored status will be given to the first posted.

There will be a prize to be announced for the best, most original or inventive haiku. Not sure what yet. Last year it was a 264-page Official Men's Final Four Records Book.

Tip: Haikus specific to this year and this tournament preferred. Bonus tip: "Krzyzewski" is three syllables.

To give you some idea what this is all about, here were winning entries from the past four years:

2009 Champion r.duke with: "Basketball baby! / Vitale gets priapism / this time every year."

2008 Champion Tococane with: "The Padawan Haith / Will Do Battle With Darth Barnes / The Force Will Prevail."

2007 Co-champions. Bruce with: "Slighted Syracuse / Sadness Surrounds Snow City / Orange Turned to blue." And David Tucker with: "The Five Gator Boys / Only Forty Minutes Left / History Awaits."

2006 Inaugural champion Kurt from Boca with: "Stay Home and Watch Games / Or Check Scores from the Office / Forget Champ by June."

[Note: Controvery arose last year when the Haiku Selection Committee affirmed the winning entry as 17 syllables with an interpretation that "every," read phonetically as "ev-ry," was acceptable as two syllables].

OK, wiseguys and wisegals. Don't like those? Think it's easy? Accept a challenge. Do better. Enter now and await your mystery prize!