September 05, 2015

Lightning strikes! UM clubs Bethune-Cookman 45-0 in opener; plus CSM poll, Dolphins change kickers, Izzy tells the truth, Marino makes wine, Upset Bird Countdown & more


1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. Are the Dolphins the sixth-best team in the NFL? Well, this nut says so. Click on The Order for my annual NFL team rankings, 1 through 32. 2) Note, Sunday's Random Evidence notes column will be the next-to-last in print, meaning in the newspaper. Details to come. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Dolphins preseason finale, FIU wins, Brady-wins poll, Fins U-25s, Jimmy Johnson reigns, UM hoops & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins rookie kicker Franks unseats Sturgis: The two players who put the foot in football -- the placekicker and punter -- both will be new for the Dolphins this year. Rookie kicker Andrew Franks beat out incumbent Caleb Sturgis today as the Fins met the 53-man roster max. Last week rookie punter Matt Darr Matt unseated veteran Brandon Fields. You know it has been an uneventful Cut Day when the big new is the kicker. Still, this will be first season since 2007 that Miami has had two new foot-men. That was when Jay Feely replaced PK Olindo Mare and Fields replaced P Donnie Jones.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 6 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix


1aa1abaltosthe Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We are doing a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related winged-creature nicknames from America's Big Four sports, from newest to oldest. Today, at No. 6: Baltimore Orioles, born 1954. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66].

On Al Golden: As the Miami Hurricanes open the new season tonight at 6 vs. visiting Bethune-Cookman, I write why this must be the no-excuses season when UM's coach restores fans' faith and his own future here. Click on Golden Opportunity to read.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Welcome back to another season of Canesfan Satisfaction Meter 1aa1acsmpostgame polls -- this first one in the wake of tonight's season-opening 45-0 victory vs. visiting Bethune-Cookman. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Monday.

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2014--2.7% overall satisfaction (following 6-7 season); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

G1: HURRICANES 45, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 0: SOFT-OPENER, BUT UM DOMINATES: Final--UM 1-0 after an impressive, maybe easier-than-expected 45-0 home rout in a game delayed 75 minutes by lightning. Corn Elder stood out with two long punt-return TDs, though one was nullified. Tough to judge the Canes off this considering the lesser opponent, but it nevertheless was an opening performance tough to criticize. ..... 4Q--UM 45-0 after Gray 2y TD run. ..... 3Q--UM 38-0 on Walton 5y TD run. ... Third and fourth quarters will be 10 minutes, not 15, because of earlier delay. ..... 2Q--UM 31-0 on Elder 72y punt-return TD. ... UM 24-0 on Yearby 25y TD run. ... UM 17-0 on Kaaya-Scott 17y TD pass after 75-minute lightning delay. ... UM denied 17-0 lead on apparent Corn Elder 70y punt-return TD because Herb Waters made an arm gesture that suggested to officials the punt would not be returned. ... UM 10-0 on 25y FG. ..... 1Q--UM 7-0 on Kaaya-Dobard 5y TD pass after Canes gambled to take three points off board following roughing-kicker penalty. ..... Original post: Dolphins stadium is all made-over, aqua seats replacing orange, and tonight starting at 6 p.m. we see if under-pressure
1aa1acanesopenercoach Al Golden's Miami Hurricanes look as good as their refurbished home. They'd better considering the opponent is Division 1AA Bethune-Cookman of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Bethune isn't bad for its size (it was 9-3 last season), but still is a second-tier program that The U had better handle without much trouble. Miami won these teams' most recent meeting in 2012 by 38-10, for example. It will be hard to gauge how good Miami really is tonight, but I'll be especially looking to see how the offensive line is protecting QB Brad Kaaya. My pick: Canes, 41-7.

Other college Week 1 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all today unless noted):

Tulsa 47, FAU 44 (OT): I'd called a road upset by Owls. If only close counted.

South Florida 51, Florida A&M 3: Bulls rout fang-less Rattlers.

Florida 61, New Mexico State 13: Swamp serves up big debut for coach Jim McElwain.

No. Florida State 59, Texas State 16: Ex-Irish Everett Golson sharp in Noles debut.

Thursday: FIU 15, UCF 14: Nice upset as FIU opens 1-0 with road win for first time since '04.

Preseason conference-title odds for state's 7 FBS schools: Percentage likelihoods are based on ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI). ACC--Florida State is favorite at 27.0 percent and Miami is sixth at 5.1%. (Clemson is near co-favorite at 26.8%). SEC--Florida is at 1.2%. (Georgia is favorite at 35.5%). Conference USA--FIU at at 1.0% and FAU at 0.4%. (Louisiana Tech is favorite at 45.3%). American--UCF is at 5.9% and South Florida at 0.3%. (Cincinnati is favorite at 40.9%).

1aa1aizzyFREEDOM: ISRAEL GUTIERREZ COMES OUT: Our friend and former Miami Herald colleague Izzy Gutierrez, now an ESPN star and heard regularly on local radio, revealed yesterday that he is gay. Family and close friends have known for years; the "coming out" is that all now know, a bigger deal -- in scope, not importance -- when one is a public figure. Click HERE to read his simple, riveting truth written in his personal blog, something that I think he'd agree took him a whole lifetime to write. The piece is very honest (of course), and I think it is important to read. I think it was especially interesting how he'd been inspired by others who had come out. Gutierrez in turn will continue that cycle of honesty, by example helping others who are working up the courage to fully be themselves. I'm happy for the freedom and unburdening Gutierrez must now feel. I also congratulate him on his upcoming marriage to his partner; they are pictured here, with Izzy in the shades. He'll be applauded by many for being "brave" or "courageous." I doubt he wants to be seen as that. I think he'd rather just be a guy living his truest life.

1aa1adanwineDAN MARINO WINE. NO, SERIOUSLY: Dolphins icon Dan Marino and former backup quarterback Damon Huard have partnered in a Washington State winery called (pun intended), Passing Time. Huard was the Dolphins backup late in Marino's career, in 1997-99. Their winemaking venture was launched in the spring of 2014 and their first cabernet sauvignon, retailing at around $75, rolled out this year. Marino has been a longtime wine collector and has a cellar in his home. He brings the marquee name to the partnership, while Huard mans the daily operation. The partners are pictured working their vineyard. Below is a short video as they describe their passion.


Poll result: Mixed verdict on court overturning Brady suspension: Most, 56.2 percent in our blogpoll, think Tom Brady got away with cheating and that the federal court was wrong to overturn his four-game suspension. But another 40.1% said it was the right call because the NFL failed to make its case. The other 3.7% were undecided.

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May 16, 2015

Garo Yepremian, R.I.P.; plus do we really care if South Florida hosts a Super Bowl? (poll); also LeBatard ranked No. 11, Canes football news, Brady steals Ted Wells' mustache, LeBron waltzes on, Cote on $2 bill, B.B. King & more


1aa1abbking1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 16. Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King (pictured) has died at age 89. R.I.P. Scroll down for video at end of this blogpost. 2) Random Evidence, our Sunday notes column, has this week off. However our blog-exclusive Hot Button Top 10 will be here as usual on Sunday. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Evolving newspapers, John Wall's gang signs, LeBatard radio show preps for TV, Dee Train debut, Kiper's 2016 Big Board, assimilating bears & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

LeBatard ranked 11th: Miami-based TV and radio personality Dan LeBatard is No. 11 on's new list of 25 most powerful people in sports media. (List here). Bill Simmons, newly fired by ESPN, tops the list. Keith Olbermann, we presume, is ready to sue somebody for not being on it. Also omitted: Greg Cote, despite there supposedly being a move to put Cote's face on the $2 bill.

Hurricanes football schedule news: UM announced starting time or TV info for four of its games. Canes will host Bethune-Cookman Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. on ESPN3. On Sept. 19 UM will host Nebraska at 3:30 p.m. on either ABC or ESPN. Miami's game at Cincinnati will be in prime time at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. And the Canes' regular-season finale at Pittsburgh will air on ABC or ESPN, time to be determined.

Dee Train: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .433 (61-for-141). Last game: 3-for-5 vs. ATL last night. Next: Tonight vs. ATL.

GARO YEPREMIAN, R.I.P.: Dolphins great Garo Yepremian passed away last night from brain cancer after fighting the disease for more than a year. Click here for a 2014 column I wrote on Garo's health struggle, and click on Garo: The One And Only for my latest column on his death that went online late last night. Here is the column in its entirety:

1aa1agaro    So few names in the Miami Dolphins’ 50-year history have elevated above the playing field into franchise folklore. So few players could be described with only a first name, a single word, and that would be plenty.


    With greatness and whimsy, he was a part of the team’s biggest days.

    Garabed Sarkis Yepremian, the little kicker from Cyprus, died Friday evening at age 70 after battling adrenal cancer that had led to a brain tumor. His wife Maritza said he passed away at a hospital in Media, Pa., near their Philadelphia home.

    I had written about the fight of his life last summer.
    His latest round of chemotherapy had just ended.
    “It’s a gorgeous day,” he said.
    Yepremian, a Dolphin from 1970 through 1978, always will be most known for his faux pas in the 1972 Perfect Season Super Bowl – a lapse remembered with a smile, because Miami won.
     “I honestly thought my life was over,” he told me.
     It happened on Jan. 14, 1973. A field-goal attempt was botched, and Yepremian tried to throw a pass that was returned 49 yards for a touchdown by the Washington Redskins. Only because Miami won 14-7 did Garo escape the savagery of being labeled a national goat.
     He dealt with his unique place in history with wonderful humor.
     As recently as January, alluding to the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” controversy, Yepremian Tweeted, “Forty-two years later I realize I should have deflated the ball to get a better grip on it.”
     His one most famous, most infamous moment always overshadowed a career that stood on its own even as his ill-fated “pass” was what Johnny Carson delighted to skewer in late-night monologues.
     Yepremian was named to Miami’s Silver Anniversary team encompassing the club’s first 25 seasons. He was named to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team.
     He won so many games beyond the one famous one he almost lost.
     He stood barely 5-8 but authored so many of the biggest moments in club history, including the field goal on Christmas Day 1971 in Kansas City that ended “The Longest Game” and gave Miami its first playoff victory in franchise history.
     I was a kid then. I remember my father and I, watching in our living room, pogoing up and down and hugging after Garo’s kick sailed true. (The high-five hadn’t been invented yet).<
     Four decades later one of the most iconic names in Miami Dolphins history has lapsed into memory. But you still only need a single word to describe him:

DO WE REALLY CARE IF SOUTH FLORIDA HOSTS A SUPER BOWL?: So Miami and and renovated 1aa1abowlsuperDolphins stadium are bidding to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls, the next two available, and should learn at next week's league meetings in San Fran if they made the first cut. Do we care? I have always had a theory on that -- one I admit could be totally off-line with how local fans and residents feel. (Hence, this poll). I think we only care about a Super Bowl if the Dolphins are playing in it. I don't think Miami hosting two other teams in an SB is particularly thrilling for anyone outside of direct beneficiaries -- tourism industry, hotels, restaurants and so forth. Yes, Dolphins (and stadium) owner Stephen Ross cares intensely. But do you? What is your level of excitement or interest in South Florida being named host of one of the next available Super Bowls? Take a dip in our poll and say why.


  This whole thing is getting strange. A bit juvenile. Quick chronology: Patriots accused of under-inflating footballs. NFL's independent Wells Report finds Pats and QB Tom Brady guilty. League suspends Brady four games. Criticism ensues that punishment is either too lenient or too harsh. Ted Wells goes on offensive to angrily defend his integrity and findings. Patriots go on offensive, lawyering up and appealing punishment. Now, Brady cultivates Wells-ian mustache apparently to publicly mock his nemesis. Updates here as warranted.

LEBRON WALTZES INTO NBA (CONFERENCE) FINALS: Cleveland awaits tonight's Atlanta-Washington 1aa1ajameslwinner in the Eastern finals, meaning LeBron James all but has a free pass into the NBA Finals. Hawks or Wizards would be large underdogs, although it does bear noting that ATL would have home-court advantage and was 3-1 vs. Cavs this season. Out West, Golden State tries to eliminate Memphis tonight and Clippers-Rockets face a Game 7 on Sunday. Still looking like a LeBron-Steph Curry Finals. By the way, good seats still available on my Miamians For LeBron bandwagon. All aboarrrd!

1aa1ameontwoMOVEMENT: COTE ON $2 BILL: You have heard by now of the "Women on 20s" movement, which is pushing to replace Andrew Jackson with Civil War-era abolitionist Harriet Tubman as the face of the $20 bill. Now, though as yet much less-known, there is a growing movement, dubbed "Cote On Two," to replace Thomas Jefferson on the $2 bill with Miami Herald sports columnist/blogger Greg Cote (pictured right). Updates as warranted.

LUCILLE WEEPS: B.B. KING (1925-2015):

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May 14, 2015

An evolving newspaper industry redefines itself; plus Wizards' John Wall and gang signs, LeBatard radio show preps for TV, 'Miamians For LeBron,' Dee Train, Kiper's 2016 Big Board, Brady/Dolphins-impact verdict, assimilating bears & more


1aa1arock1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 14. Happy birthday to my youngest son. Love you, Michael! 2) Miami royalty: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson meets up with Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) the other night in L.A. after Stanton put one clean out of Dodger Stadium. 3) Patriots issue lengthy rebuttal to Wells Report. Click here for story and link to Pats' response. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady punishment with poll, Marlins bench closer, rooting for LeBron, updated Super Bowl odds & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dee Train: A new blog feature: Starting today, "Dee Train" will be a daily blog update on the Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do it as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. (Yes, people who believe in jinxes and superstitions will hate this). Gordon updated season: .426 (58-for-136) after 4-for-5 last night. Next: Friday vs. ATL. 

'Miamians For LeBron' bandwagon forming; good seats still available: In today's latest column, on how these NBA playoffs are refreshing and good for the league, I explore further the fractured relationship between Miami and LeBron James. I propose -- tongue in cheek, I'd remind those less discerning -- that continuing animus is unfounded. Click on Miamians For LeBron to read column in full.

AS AN EVOLVING NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY REDEFINES ITSELF: I offer below the 9-minute video "We Are McClatchy," released earlier today. McClatchy is the parent company of the Miami Herald among many other media entities, and the video describes ways in which the beleaguered newspaper industry is continuing to refashion itself in the digital age. I recommend the video to anyone who cares about the Miami Herald, past, present and future, and to anyone who cares about the American newspaper industry and where it is headed.


IS WIZARDS' JOHN WALL THROWING UP GANG SIGNS?: As a spokesman for the Old White Community I can tell you I don't know gang signs from Adam. Somebody says the word "gang" to me and I start 1aa1ajwallhumming Spanky And Our Gang's "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" from 1967. But I can tell you a lot of people much closer to street level than me are convinced Washington point guard John Wall (pictured) was throwing up a gang signs for the Bloods during last night's playoff game, augmented by shouting the phrase "Big B's." Google Wall's name and "gang sign" to see the stories, video and Twitter references. (Wall had been involved in a similar gang-sign controversy while at Kentucky). Should we care? I'd imagine the Wizards and the NBA office do. Here we are in the midst of a great playoffs, with all four conference semifinal series at 3-2 and multiple Game 7s maybe looming, and we're talking about a star player and possible gang affiliation. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this, whether it be an explanation from Wall, admonishment or discipline. I'd be surprised if something didn't.

1aa1alebatardfusionLEBATARD RADIO SHOW READY FOR TV DEBUT: You've lent him your ears. Now he'd like your eyes, too. ESPN Radio's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz is preparing to make its television debut on the Fusion network this coming Tuesday May 19. The show began preparing/rehearsing for televised radio by broadcasting from its new studio at the Clevelander on South Beach earlier this week on 1aa1afusionTuesday, with Le Batard assuring listeners the content of the show would not change and making the distinction that it would be a radio show on television, not a TV show on radio. The logo for the new show is pictured. From Wade Beckett, Fusion’s chief programming officer: "Dan's smart-yet-irreverent take on sports and the stories making headlines perfectly aligns with Fusion’s desire to present this young, diverse generation with an array of dynamic voices that have an authentic point of view and, at the end of the day, are just are fun to watch." Says LeBatard: "We are pumped about unleashing the primitive Stugotz on a new and unsuspecting audience. And maybe we will talk some sports, too. Our goal is to not totally break Fusion. But the show will be better on the days we do." I'll continue to be a once-a-week guest on the show, unless Fusion convinces Dan to fire me. I'll be in the Tuesday slot although my on-TV debut will  be Thursday May 21.

NOTABLE FROM KIPER'S FIRST 2016 DRAFT 'BIG BOARD': Mel's first Double-B top-25 for 1aa1abosajoeylooking ahead to '16 NFL Draft starts off notably with Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (pictured) No. 1 overall -- notable because Bosa is from St. Thomas Aquinas High and is the son of John, the Dolphins' 1987 first-round pick. Also notable: No. 3--Florida State S Jalen Ramsey; No. 5--Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves; and No. 9--Cal QB Jared Goff, the highest quarterback ranked. Sorry, Canes. No UM'ers listed.

Poll result: Most think Brady punishment impact on Dolphins won't be major: We asked about the impact of Tom Brady's 4-game suspension on the Dolphins and it was a photo finish between "moderate" (46.1 percent) and "minor" (45.7%). Only 8.2% voted "major."

1aa1abearbar"DEAR GREG...": "I heard a TV report that in Alaska, and now spreading elsewhere across America, bears have begun assimilating and are now interacting with humans in ways never before thought possible. Can you explain, please?" Dear Reader: Sorry, but I have no idea what you're talking about.

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April 03, 2015

It's Final Four Saturday! But should NCAA Tournament change its format? Poll. Vote now!; plus unlucky Canes, Cuban baseball, Josh Freeman, Heat/Panthers playoff update, John Wolin & more


1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 4. I'm down on Key Biscayne today to columnize off Serena Williams' presumed crushing of her hopeless opponent in the Miami Open women's final. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 20 athletes poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Canes/NIT. dead Cats, Ricky Williams sings, Marlins, Dolphins cheerleaders & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1ajoshfExcavation: Dolphins exhume human remains of quarterback Josh Freeman's career. If he surprises everybody, he might be Miami's third-string QB. If he's the Josh Freeman of the past couple of years, he'll quietly disappear by August. This signing is a low risk hit-or-miss by GM Dennis Hickey, who, while with Tampa Bay, had a big paw in the Bucs dubiously drafting Freeman in first round (17th overall) in 2009.

Cuban baseball and MLB: ESPN's Outside The Lines has a topic premiering on Sunday (9 a.m.) that may be of special interest in Miami. "Cuba On Deck?" explores the increased footprint of Cuban players in MLB and how continued defections along with warming U.S. relations will only increase their number. Click here for a 1-minute video preview.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat hanging on, Cats about done. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 8th place at 34-41 (L2), 1 game from 7th, 1/2 game ahead of 9th with 7 games left (next tonight at Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 70.3% (down 0.3) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 36-42 (W1), 3 points from 9th and 6 from 8th with 4 games left (next tonight vs. Tampa Bay). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.2% (unchanged) per

FINAL FOUR SATURDAY, UNLUCKY CANES FALL IN N.I.T.; TIME FOR CHANGE IN NCAA POSTSEASON?: Finally, the Final Four! Tonight it's 7-Michigan State vs. 1-Duke and 1-Wisconsin vs. 1-Kentucky, and it sure feels like the Duke-Kentucky finale everybody expects. Meanwhile, three thoughts watching Miami's men's basketball team fall 66-64 to Stanford in overtime Thursday for the NIT championship. 1) 1aa1acanesnitNobody, ever again, question whether Michael Irvin's blood runs the greenest and orange-est of any alum ever. Man he was into it. 2) Canes got unlucky, big time. First having to play without injured center Tonye Jekiri and point guard Angel Rodriguez, two big losses. And also that big, dubious call against UM with 3.4 seconds left. I thought Miami was the better team, best in the NIT. Which brings us to ... 3) The NCAA should consider retooling its hoops postseason format so that the NCAA Tournament invites the 64 best teams in the country, period, without automatic bids for small-conference winners. Let the Grade 2 and 3 conferences have their own tournament or meld into the NIT. Hampton at 16-17 gets in the Big Tournament but Miami does not? Anybody outside of Hampton think that makes much sense? With my suggested format there still would be Cinderellas -- somebody gotta be seeded 16th -- except Cinderella would be bigger, and better, and the No. 1s would have a challenge from the start, and in every round. Curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll and say why?

Poll result: Jordan top athlete of past 20 years, but runnerup a surprise: We invited you to name your top five athletes from ESPN's list of the 20 greatest of the past 20 years (that means the maximum vote for any individual was 20 percent), and predictably Micheal Jordan won. But your runnerup, Michael Phelps, was a surprise at least to me. Your results, with ESPN rank in parentheses:

1aa1amj1. Michael Jordan 15.7% (1); 2. Michael Phelps 10.5% (9); 3. LeBron James 10.2% (2); 4. Tiger Woods 10.0% (3); 5. Usain Bolt 6.4% (16); 6. Tom Brady 6.3% (4); 7. Serena Williams 5.9% (6); 8. Roger Federer 5.7% (5); 9. Lionel Messi 4.6% (12); 10. Derek Jeter 4.1% (10).

11. Floyd Mayweather 3.7% (17); 12. Peyton Manning 3.3% (7); 13. Tim Duncan 3.0% (14); 14. Kobe Bryant 2.3% (8); 15. Lance Armstrong 1.9% (15); T16. Barry Bonds 1.6% (19); T16. Brett Favre 1.6% (15); T18. Sidney Crosby 1.3% (20); T18. Shaquille O'Neal 1.3% (11); 20. Mia Hamm 0.9% (18).

My vote? In order, it was Jordon, James, Woods, Williams and Jeter.

FOR THE LOVE OF JOHN WOLIN: One of my career mentors and best friends was John Wolin (pictured), a Miami Herald editor, reporter and beloved curmudgeon for 21 years. He died in 2004 after a life 1aa1ajwolinremarkable only partly because John was born with achondroplastic dwarfism that led to gradually increasing paralysis. Long before it became politically correct to refer to dwarfs as "little people," Wolin cut to the chase and disarmingly called himself "a bald, crippled midget." He was one of a kind. He would make you laugh and break your heart. He was one of the most passionate journalists I have ever known. When we moved into our new house John gave me an elaborate set of wrenches that I still have. His beautiful now-grown daughter is my godchild. John lives on unforgettably in the memory of those he knew but also in a scholarship fund in his name at Florida International University, benefiting aspiring journalists. The fund is now accepting donations at GoFundMe/JohnWolin. Those interested in additional information may also visit FIU's Wolin scholarship page here, or call the university's School of Journalism & Mass Communication at (305) 919-5625. The man was extraordinary. May readers blessed with generosity consider finding the cause worthy.



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March 12, 2015

Suh Effect poll: Setting the bar on Dolphins expectations. Vote now!; plus Canes/FIU hoops, verdict on Whiteside, Heat/Panthers playoff-chase update, robot sportswriters & more

1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 12. Congrats to my friend Bryan Baucom (pictured) for his 500th softball coaching victory with St. Thomas Aquinas High. He also is offensive coordinator for STA's vaunted football program -- one of South Florida's most successful prep coaches. 2) Feeling sexist or shallow? Click here for a video on hottest quarterback WAGs. (Yes, Lauren Tannehill gets a mention). 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dirty Town: On Suh and Whiteside with poll, Canes/FIU basketball, Marlins future, delights of Twitter & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

It's back! Our annual March Madness Haiku Challenge!: An annual spring fixture in this blog is our March Madness Haiku Challenge. You know the drill. Haikus (17-syllable poems) about the coming NCAA Tournament. Stay tuned. Rules and details to come.

Postseason hoops: Canes tonight, FIU eliminated: Miami won its ACC Tournament opener last night over Virginia Tech, 59-49, in Greensboro, N.C., thanks to Sheldon McClellan's 16 points, strong defense and an awful opponent. But UM likely must beat a very good Notre Dame tonight at 9 to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament. FIU also won yesterday, beating Texas-San Antonio, 57-54, in the Conference USA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., but the Golden Panthers were eliminated this afternoon by Texas-El Paso, 83-71, to finish their season 16-17. 

PLAYOFF CHASE UPDATE: Heat/Panthers status entering Thursday: A new daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending up in 8th place at 29-35 (W1), 1/2 game from 7th and 1/2 game from 9th with 18 games left (next Friday at Toronto). Heat playoff likelihood: 40.4% (up 11.9) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 9th place at 29-37 (W1), 6 points from 8th and 1 point from 10th with 16 games left (next tonight vs. Winnipeg). Cats playoff likelihood: 4.5% (up 0.1) per

SUH IMPACT: SETTING THE BAR ON DOLPHINS EXPECTATIONS: I attended Ndamukong Suh's Dolphins introduction yesterday and smiled when he was asked about the pressure one him. The question was
1aa1andammisdirected. The pressure is not on Suh. It is on (more than ever) coach Joe Philbin. As I write of the Suh signing in today's column -- love quoting myself! -- "It does not guarantee you will win or succeed. What it does is leave you out of excuses to explain why if you don't." So the question for you is how the Suh signing has impacted how you feel about the Dolphins and their chances this coming season. As I also note -- click on A Man Named Suh for the entire column -- the Pats are still the Pats and the active Bills and Jets both have improved, too. Factoring all of that, let's set an early bar on expectations for the 2015 Dolphins. Take a dip in our poll. Vote not for the option you hope for, but for the option you realistically expect, and say why.

1aa1adansuhPictorial: Behind-the-scenes photos from Ndamukong Suh's first day as a Dolphin: Click here to access around 50 behind-the-scenes photographs from Ndamukong Suh's first official day as a Miami Dolphin on Wednesday, courtesy the team. One of the photos, of Suh meeting Dan Marino, is pictured at left.

Poll result: There is concern for Whiteside's Heat future due to temper: We asked if you were very, somewhat or not concerned that Hassan Whiteside's temper and immaturity were imperiling his future with the Heat. It was close, with 38.5 percent voting "somewhat," 37.8 "very" and 23.7 "not." That's 76.3% expressing some concern.

1aa1arobotTHE SINISTER RISE OF ROBOT SPORTSWRITERS: Click here for the sad backstory. Well, probably it's more weird than sad. The robot actually is a software program that is fed data about, say, a game result, processes that information, and produces a news story based on the data provided. So, Big Brother is not only watching, now he's writing, too. I think my job is safe (for now), but who knows? Pretty soon there  might be an app for that.

WHEN SOMETHING SAD TURNS HEARTWARMING: Some fans at a middle-school basketball game in Kenosha, Wisc., were teasing a cheerleader who has Down Syndrome. Three players walked off the court to confront the bullies. Story here.

1aa1agronkbowl"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of Rob Gronkowski holding a bowling pin. Thank you." Dear Reader: I'll try, but can't imagine where I'd get one. 

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February 19, 2015

How do you feel about Heat's trade for Goran Dragic? Poll. Vote now!; plus ominous Bosh news (updated), athlete-media relationship poll (it's close!), sign-spinners, Mount Rushmore/QBs result & more

1aa1asheep1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20. I'm holed up at Random Evidence Laboratories today pulling from nonexistence the Sunday notes-column package. 2) Thursday was the Chinese New Year, year of the sheep. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mount Rushmore of QBs poll, Westminster dog show, Tiger verdict, false racism, Lesley Gore & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1aboshcOn Dragic trade, Bosh medical update: A strange Thursday night-into-Friday to be a Heat fan. You are elated (most likely) over the Goran Dragic trade but also holding your breath over Chris Bosh's medical situation. Click on Riley Wins Again for my latest column. It's on the big trade but touches on Bosh, too. Bosh is hospitalized for tests and, as I was first to report last night via Twitter, initial concerns centered on the lungs and a possible blood clot. We await official word from the club today but now have heard there are believed to be clots in both lungs. We wish Bosh the best and hope for the most positive news possible but fear the news may instead be that Bosh will miss the reminder of this NBA season.

1aa1adragicHEAT ACQUIRE GORAN DRAGIC FOR PICKS, PLAYERS: The Heat on Thursday acquired elite point guard Goran Dragic (and his brother Zoran) from Phoenix while giving up reserves Norris Cole, Danny Granger, Shawne Williams and Justin Hamilton and two first-round draft picks. I love the deal and you'd click on Riley Wins Again to read my latest column. But enough of me. Your opinion of the trade is welcomed here. Vote in the poll below and say why you feel as you do in the Comments section.

SHOULD PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES BE REQUIRED TO DEAL WITH THE MEDIA?: That wasn't even a question, once. They did and that was that. But the relationship is becoming more and more adversarial

1aa1amediaml 1aa1amediakdand there may be no turning back. We have seen the actions of Seahawk Marshawn Lynch, grudgingly making himself available to avoid fines but hardly cooperating. More recently we have seen the Thunder's Kevin Durant express frustration with the media and his obligations. Many players, especially superstars, can get their message out via personal websites or social media and feel they don't need the mainstream/traditional media. Predictably, as a member of the latter, I don't feel it is too much of an obligation or burden for leagues and teams to expect that players would make themselves available to the reporters who cover them regularly. I think a mutually respectful, working relationship continues to benefit both sides. You may agree, or not. Let's find out. Take a dip in our poll and say why in the Comments section.

Poll result: It's Montana, Brady, Marino and Unitas on your QBs Mount Rushmore: We gave you 12 choices and four votes, and your mountain-worthy quartet were Joe Montana with 20.2 percent, Tom Brady with 16.7%, Dan Marino with 16.3% and Johnny Unitas with 12.3%. Great response, and solid results! Close but no mountain to Peyton Manning with 9.9%. (The maximum percentage was 25, so that means Montana, if everyone cast all four votes, was named on 80.8% of all ballots).



        Faked-up News Network (FUNN) -- Sign-spinners have begun to flex their muscle. The Laborers International Union of North America has agreed to represent the estimated 60,000 American street-corner 1aa1asignspinnersworkers whose job is to hold, point and spin mostly arrow-shaped signs that aim to direct motorists to local stores but have the opposite effect as annoyed drivers barrel past shaking their heads at the aesthetic blight on their communities. "These beacons of business are doing essential work for chump pay," explained LIUNA communications laision Veronica Forkenplatter. "While it is true most of our spinners are inebriated homeless folks posing a traffic hazard or disinterested college kids listening to ear-buds or on cell phones, many of our other spinners are former Broadway dancers or other defrocked entertainers looking for a creative outlet. In fact we are trying to confirm -- there is national-spokesman potential in this -- that Joel Grey is currently soft-shoe spinning in New York at age 82."

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November 17, 2014

NASCAR dodged a bullet at Homestead; plus Stanton agrees, Dolphins in (for now) amid NFL tumult, Gary Shelton, Kim Kardashian as a horse & more

1aa1akimk1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17. Have you seen Kim Kardashian's nudies in Paper magazine? Click on image to see her equine version enlarged.  2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall to FSU,CSM poll, Stanton as Marlins' 'A Christmas Carol', Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stanton deal finalized: CBS Sports reporting today (and the Herald verifying) that Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins have agreed upon the 13-year, $325 million extension that first splashed as national news on Friday. It is expected to become official at a news conference Wednesday.  

BIG DAY FOR HARVICK AND HOMESTEAD, BUT NASCAR DODGES A BULLET: It was a big day for Kevin Harvick in his No. 4 Chevrolet on Sunday but a bigger day for 1aa1aharvickNASCAR down at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
(Click on Perfect Finish for my full column from the track). NASCAR dodged a bullet, though, and even as it celebrated the end of its season with a worthy winner in Harvick, flaws in its new Chase for the Cup format were revealed. There was a real possibility that runnerup Ryan Newman might have emerged as NASCAR's season Sprint Cup champion without winning Sunday -- or winning a single race all year. That would have been a first in NACAR's 67-year history. Chairman Brian France said the new system is supposed to put an emphasis on winning races, not points-building consistency, yet two of the Final Four drivers eligible to win it all entered Sunday's race with either zero (Newman) or only one (Denny Hamlin) season win. So tweak the Chase format once again. The Cote Plan: Only drivers who haved won a race entering Homestead are eligible for the season crown. This year that would have meant 15 drivers: Brad KeselowskI (6 wins), Joey Logano (5), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4), Jeff Gordon (4), Harvick (4), Jimmie Johnson (4), Carl Edwards (2), plus eight men with one win. Keep the new elimination format that whittles the field to an eventual Final Four, but start with only race winners.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: DOLPHINS IN (FOR NOW), NFL IN TUMULT: Miami as of this morning would be the 1aa1adol6sixth and final AFC playoff seed ITSET (if the season ended today). The Fins would edge San Diego and Baltimore (both also 6-4) on the tiebreaker for best conference winning percentage. Of more intrigue to me right now is the Super Bowl outlook after a crazy weekend in which SB favorite Denver and reigning champ Seattle both lost. Prediction: When the updated title odds come out Tuesday, the Patriots will be the new No. 1 and the Packers will be second, The formerly favored Broncos will now be third, with the Seahawks fourth and the (league-leading 9-1) Cardinals rounding out the top five.

GARY SHELTON'S NEW VENTURE: My sports-journalism colleague and friend Gary Shelton has left the
1aa1agsheltonTampa Bay Times after a stellar 25-year career; click here for his farewell column. He is now flying solo with a new venture: I invite you to check it out -- especially if you are from Tampa/St. Pete or interested in those teams, because Gary's is the voice of authority on sports in that area. Also, he's on Twitter @Gary_Shelton. Veteran Miami Herald readers may remember Gary from his time here in 1984-90, when his beats included the Dolphins. He was really good. Still is.

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August 07, 2014

LeBatard reacts to ESPN suspension for LeBron billboards; plus Oden's arrest, Scott Mitchell at 366 lbs, Dolphins calendar, unfriendly us & more

1aa1ame1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 7. If you doubt the Le Batard billboards are causing a big reaction, check out the screengrab at right. I'm not a "trending" kind of guy, but trended for a bit after I Tweeted out a link to the blog item below. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Al Golden's greatest challenge, Stanton MVP odds, emaciated Gap model and more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Coming soon: I Defy Logic, Time and Distance: I plan to kick a 50-yard field goal. I'll share details in the blog soon, so stay tuned.

ESPN SUSPENDS LE BATARD FOR TWO DAYS FOR LEBRON STUNT: [See item directly below for what led to suspension] ESPN today yanked Dan Le Batard off the air from his radio and television shows and will have him off again Friday as punishment for putting up billboards in Akron needling LeBron James. The ESPN statement: "Dan will be off the air for two days, returning Monday. His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN's standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance." Le Batard described the stunt as "fun anarchy" in comments exclusively in this blog yesterday. The two-day suspension, though a wrist-slap, is comically unnecessary. It's also this: Great publicity for Dan and his two ESPN platforms. I asked Dan for a comment. He just texted me: "I guess ESPN didn't find it all quite as funny as I did."

LEBATARD RADIO SHOW'S STEALTH ATTACK ON LEBRON'S AKRON HOMECOMING NOW UNDERWAY!: It is underway, and we had it first. Radio star Dan Le Batard of ESPN and Miami's The Ticket has today 1aa1adanbillbdbegun to unleash a good-natured advertising surprise on LeBron James as the Cavaliers celebrate his return to Cleveland with a homecoming in Akron on Friday. (Although "surprise" may be too strong a word considering he has yakked about it on-air as, in his words, an unabashed "attention grab disguised as a cause.") The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz initially considered full-page ads that pictured James' two championship rings won in Miami and read, "You're Welcome, LeBron" -- a gentle jab at LeBron not thanking Miami fans in his departure essay. When that idea was rejected by self-righteous Cleveland and Akron newspapers, LeBatard moved on to a no-longer secret Plan B now underway: Billboards! Pictured is what we think is the first of several to go up around Akron, the photo texted to me by a friend who lives just outside the city. Show producer Mike Ryan will be in Akron on Friday to give the show a live presence. There are rumors of an additional tier of the ad-assault that remains top secret, perhaps to be revealed on Friday. I pledged to not share more than I have at this time so that LeBron's "people" would not have enough advance notice or information to crush the plan. You especially don't (bleep) with Nike, which (not a lot of people know this) has its own CIA and military, including rumors of nuclear arms. Update: Dan just texted me his explanation for why he's doing this: "It's just fun anarchy. All meant in fun -- which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine. Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don't tell anyone there is no actual movement."

Greg Oden arrested: TMZ reports Greg Oden has been arrested for beating his ex-girlfriend. Story here. Oden was iffy/doubtful to be back with Heat even before this. Now? Forget it.

SCOTT MITCHELL WEIGHS 366 POUNDS: I can now state, as a matter of fact, that I once wrote a 1aa1ascottmcolumn suggesting the Miami Dolphins trade Dan Marino for a man who weighs 366 pounds. Quick explainer: Back in the early '90s, I wrote that the Dolphins should look into trading Marino, who then still had much trade value, because Mitchell at the time was a young, hot QB coming off a big season for Miami after Marino's Achilles injury. Well, fast forward to now. The long-retired Mitchell weighs 366 pounds (pictured) and appears on the new season of TV's The Biggest Loser weight-loss show starting in September. I'll end the item with that because A) it isn't nice to make fun of fat people, and B) OK I may have been wrong on that trade-Marino column, in retrospect. There. Are you happy!?

1aa1adolswimURGENT DOLPHIN CHEERLEADERS UPDATE: Your Dolphin cheerleaders this Saturday will unveil their 2015 swimsuit calendar, the strongest evidence yet that there will be a 2015 despite scattered reports of impending Armageddon. A Dolphin cheerleader of undisclosed month is pictured, her smile and calm outward demeanor yet another reassurance that everything little t'ing gonna be alright.

"WE'RE NO. 10! WE'RE...!": The magazine Conde Nast Traveler emits its annual list of America's 10 friendliest and unfriendliest cities, and top rankings go to Charleston, S.C. for most welcoming and to Newark, N.J. for threatening to kill you. Two Florida cities earn a mention -- Key West tied for eighth most friendly, and our own Miami checking in as 10th unfriendliest. "[Bleep] that and [bleep] the [bleep-bleepers] in charge of the list," said the city of Miami in a prepared statement.

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August 03, 2014

On Ray Rice's punishment. New poll. Vote now; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, Canton class, Canes edge Heat in next-champ race & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 4. Just looked up "excess" in the dictionary and saw a Dolphins scrimmage being covered as if it were a game or meant anything. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami Big 5 next-champion poll, Dolphins odds, Marlins screwed, MLB trade deadline, Riley's restraint, Sharknado & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

On evolution of sports media: Our latest column on Sunday uses the national debate over Ray Rice's crime and punishment (see related poll below) as a springboard to explore how athletes haven't changed, we're just watching more closely. Click on No Secrets Left to read.

ON RAY RICE'S CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: This poll is a bit tardy but still current because we keep 1aa1arricetalking about this. Ravens running back Ray Rice knocks out his then-fiance', captured on security video, and this week gets a two-game NFL suspension (plus a three-game fine) that many see at too lenient. Subsequently ESPN's Stephen A. Smith gets in trouble for his response, Ravens fans get criticized for cheering Rice at training camp, and anybody who defends the light punishment is shouted down as somehow condoning domestic violence. Crazy. I abhor the cowardice of spousal abuse but thought the punishment was fair considering Rice's previously clean record. I'd also note that missing two NFL games is the equivalent of a 20-game suspension in baseball. It isn't nothing. But that's just me. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll, vote and say why you feel as you do.

CANTON'S LACKLUSTER CLASS OF 2014: Seven new members paraded into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend, and (if I might rain on said parade) it isn't a class that excites all that much. Michael 1aa1acantonStrahan is the national star of the bunch, but his having played in New York and his post-career TV celebrity have as much do to with it as anything. Strahan had only two more career sacks than Jason Taylor, who is considered a likely but not certain Hall of Famer. Derrick Brooks and Walter Jones are the group's other Canton-quality incomers, but neither is a national star outside of his market, with Jones an offensive lineman and Brooks not resonating beyond Tampa/St. Pete. The remaining four guys are borderline inductees Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey, Andre Reed and Aeneas Williams.

Poll result: Epic! Canes edge Heat for next-champion: We asked which of Miami's Big 5 teams will next win a championship, and Hurricanes football winning a national title edged the Heat winning the NBA Finals by 39.4 percent to 37.5% in a two-way battle. It was a tight as any poll we have ever had until UM finally nudged ahead. Marlins winning a World Series got some love with 11.9%. A Dolphins Super Bowl drew only 8.4%, and a Panthers Stanley Cup 2.8%.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot 1aa1ahotbuttonButton is a newish feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package in the print edition (newspaper) is on hiatus until later in August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. Dolphins: Preseason opener: Fins fortified O-line by signing veteran center Samson Satele as they prepare for Friday's exhibition opener in Atlanta. You know how last night's scrimmage didn't tell us much? Friday night will tell us more, but barely.

2. UM football: Practice gets started: QB Kevin Olsen got suspended from the opener for a failed drug test. The Hurricanes players who are not knuckleheads and are not suspended will stage their first preseason practice on Tuesday.

3. Marlins: Reversal of fortunes: Fish had their ninth walkoff win of season last night to end three-game losing streak in a week marred by an egregious MLB home-plate replay reversal that cost Miami a win.

4. Team USA: Paul George injury: Pacers star Paul George suffered a gruesome broken leg as Team USA prepared for the World Cup in Spain. On the bright side, the season-ending injury helps the Heat. Ouch! (Too soon?)

5. Soccer: Guinness finale: The eight-team Guinness International Champions Cup is down to English powers Manchester United vs. Liverpool for Monday's title match at Dolphins stadium. Should be a good match, although a finale beyond the EPL would've been nice.

6. Heat: Riley speaks: Pat Riley, angry over the way LeBron James left, bit his tongue and played nice in a teleconference with reporters. Meantime Cleveland's "homecoming" party for James is planned for this Friday. Maybe it'll rain?

7. NFL: Rice wrist-slap: Many decried as too lenient the NFL's two-game suspension of Ravens RB Ray Rice for domestic violence. Rice responded by punching his critics.

8. MLB: Trade flurry: Jon Lester, David Price and Yoenis Cespedes were among the stars changing uniforms at the trade deadline. In the Bargain Division, the Marlins acquired Jarred Cosart.

9. Canton: Seven parade in: Michael Strahan, Walter Jones and Derrick Brooks headlined new seven-man class in Pro Football Hall of Fame, but highlight was Jim Kelly, fighting cancer, throwing a pass to old team and inductee Andre Reed.

10. Golf: PGA Championship: Season's fourth and final major finds Tiger Woods' the second favorite at 10-1 odds after Rory McIlroy's 7-1. Y'all do realize Tiger hasn't won a major since 2008, right?

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June 12, 2014

G4: Spurs 107, Heat 86: Routed again, Miami down 3-1, all but out of hope as LeBron gets no help; also postgame video, updated MVP table, Melo & more

1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 13. The National Congress of American Indians has an eloquently powerful new ad campaign against the Washington Redskins nickname. Click here for the 2-minute video. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Spurs Game 3 loss and postgame video, postseason MVP standings, LeBatard wins ratings, glamorous life of sports writer (not), Futblog! and more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Check out the debut of our separate World Cup FUTBLOG! in the post directly below this one.

Click on Dream Crashing for my column from the arena off last night's Heat loss.

G4: SAN ANTONIO 107, HEAT 86: MIAMI DOWN 3-1 AFTER LEBRON SCORES 28, NOBODY ELSE SHOWS UP: Stunning, this game. This performance or lack of by Miami. With everything on the line the Heat barely showed up in a 21-point loss that puts Miami down 3-1 in the Finals and fighting for its three-peat life as the series heads to San Antonio for Game 5 Sunday. The Heat had been on a 13-0 run following a playoff loss before the second straight defeat. LeBron James scored 28 and hardly anybody else bothered to show up, with Chris Bosh next-highest Heat scorer with 12 points. Dwyane Wade had 10 on miserable 3-for-13 shooting. What do I mean by "all but out of hope" in the blog's headline? This: No team in NBA Finals history has overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the championship. Click on Dream Crashing for my column from the arena off last night's loss. ..... Original post: Question: Can the Heat win tonight without Melo? Just kidding. But they'd better. I resist saying or writing "must win" because it's a cliche due to too-casual use. People say "must win" when it literally is not; they use it interchangeably for "important game." Anyway, tonight may not be a must-win literally 1aa1aheatspursg4 1aa1amiasafor Miami (trailing the Spurs 2-1), but it is in every other sense when you fathom the alternative. No team in NBA history has trailed 3-1 in the Finals and rallied to win the title, and the Heat
1aa1alebtimdown 3-1 would need two of those three straight wins to come in San Antonio. Impossible? No. Unlikely. Oh, very. That's what tonight is about: Keeping three-peat hopes realistically alive. The pressureis all on Miami coming off a thorough Game 3 spanking on its home floor. The Heat has played 48 consecutive playoff games since last losing two in a row -- 13-0 following losses in that streak -- but the Spurs convey the impression they may be good enough to beat Miami even when the Heat is playing well. And the Heat were miles from playing well the other night. A few of the improvements needed tonight for the Heat to have a chance in Game 4: Hugely better, intense defense by Miami. A positive impact by point guard Mario Chalmers, who has been a Finals nightmare. More involvement from Chris Bosh, who took but four shots Tuesday. And more composure after Tuesday's 20 turnovers including a Finals-record seven by LeBron James. I'd also expect to see James in attack-paint mode after getting to the free-throw line only three times in the last game. The two-time defending champs had better play like it's a must win tonight, because, in all but the literal sense, it is.

OUR GAME 4 POSTGAME VIDEO: That'll be Heat beat writer Joseph (Goody) Goodman on the left looking natty. I'm the guy who looks like a homeless man who wandered in off Biscayne:


Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Last night: 1. LeBron James, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. James Jones. The updated standings through 19 playoff games, entering Sunday's Game 5: LeBron James 45 points, Dwyane Wade 25, Chris Bosh 21, Ray Allen 8, Rashard Lewis 7, Chris Andersen 3, James Jones 3, Norris Cole 2.

WHO IS BOBBY RAMOS AND WHY IS HE HAUNTING THE HEAT WITH AMUSINGLY ACCUSATORY QUESTIONS?: 1aa1abobbyramosI'm really looking forward to tonight's Heat-Spurs Game 4 in Miami, especially the pregame or postgame interview sessions in case Bobby Ramos materializes again to rock the lavender shirt and pose lengthy, meandering, accusatory questions to the Heat. (Actually I am praying for a Spurs loss and the Ramos Treatment for a moody, hairtrigger Gregg Popovich, because there could be a delightful explosion). Ramos, the NBA Finals' Media Internet Sensation Because We're Bored, demanded Erik Spoelstra explain why his team had been "stomped" in Game 3, eliciting the classic one-word response, "Clearly." Ramos later demanded at length that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade explain why the team's offense and defense had been so "lackluster," a bizarre grilling that found James stifling laughter and Wade offering an indulgent, "The problem is we're down 2 games to 1. That's the problem." Ramos is the latest face of a growing trend I call The Quasi-Journalist. He is a former Connecticut cop who evidently runs a small website called the Bottom Line, which has crashed for a lack of bandwidth. He previously masterminded Bobby's Lobby, a blog last tended in 2010. In the social media age, the media pool is murky and crowded now with all manner of mysterious bloggers and sort-of reporters, with legitimate and mainstream media now made to share the same umbrella with a "reporter" in a wedding dress proposing marriage to Tom Brady. It has become likely now that sharing a row in any major-event interview room might be an on-air star for ESPN, a columnist for the New York Times, and Ralphie Bimtoddle of, who has watched no games but consistently delights his 29 Twitter followers. Into Super Bowls and NBA Finals wander all sorts of Quasi-Journalists because evidently the vetting in the credentialing process now consists entirely of you asking for a credential and the NBA saying, sure Ralphie. This is not a direct slam on Bobby Ramos, mostly because he looks like a guy who could beat me up with a well-aimed stare. Quick advice for Bobby tonight: Popovich especially after a loss enjoys questions that are never-ending and second-guessing in nature and actually more statements than questions. Please don't ask until I'm in the room!

ESPN SAYS HEAT IN DISCUSSIONS TO SIGN CARMELO ANTHONY: The nut graph in a new story by ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein: "Sources told that Heat officials and the team's leading 1aa1abig4players have already started to explore their options for creating sufficient financial flexibility to make an ambitious run at adding New York Knicks scoring machine Carmelo Anthony this summer in free agency." Click HERE for the full story, and HERE for a subsequent detailed analysis on how Miami could make it work under the salary cap. [Update: Chris Bosh said today the Big 3 have not discussed such a thing and called it "very unlikely" to happen]. ESPN saying it doesn't necessarily mean it's true or will happen, but it does mean it's loud, and now whistles and clangs over the ongoing NBA Finals that resume Thursday here with San Antonio up 2-1. It's an ill-timed distraction for the Heat. The story speculates that key Heat players may be willing to make yet more financial sacrifices to make this work, noting that LeBron James is doing fabulously off the court at the bank, including a $30 million windfall due him related to Apple's $3 billion purchase of the Beats By Dre company. The story is believable for a few reasons. The two writers are credible; Windhorst because he is a lifelong friend of LeBron's. James and Anthony are close friends. And Miami (see below) needs to beef up its roster even if it manages to three-peat. Melo, of course, would be Grade-A beef on the offensive end. So, perhaps, the NBA's era of raging jealousy against Heat mastermind Pat Riley sees no end as the Big 3 plots to become the Big 4.

1aa1achalmersBAD: MARIO CHALMERS' PLAY. WORSE: NEEDING HIM THIS MUCH: That's the gist of my latest column, newly online and in today's/Thursday's inky pulp editions. Click on Missing The Point (Guard) for the full column. Chalmers has been awful in the Finals, but needing him this badly underlines a larger issue: The Heat's glaring lack of depth beyond the Big 3 when contrasted with the Spurs.

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