Is Dwyane Wade still "elite"? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dan Marino in wax, Riley says Heat underachieving, Marlins sign Ichiro, Bob Dylan & more
1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 24. R.I.P. Ernie Banks, the seemingly always-smiling Chicago icon, "Mr. Cub," gone at 83. In his honor ... let's play two! 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Patriots' "Deflategate" with parody video, Drew Rosenhaus drama, LeBron's game show, Heat value, Marlins & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Marlins sign Ichiro; do they have more offseason surprise in them?: Given the team's past no one expeted the long-term deal with Giancarlo Stanton, and few expected the trades for Mat Latos, Dee Gordon and others. Now the Marlins have agreed to terms with Ichiro Suzuki, 41, on a 1-year, $2 million deal to be the fourth outfielder. The Marlins have gotten baseball's attention with an active winter. Now do they have one more big move in them? That would be signing free-agent starting pitcher James Shields (pictured). And that is the latest column by me. Click on Going All In to read.
IS DWYANE WADE STILL AN "ELITE" NBA PLAYER?: We pose the question as the Heat host Indiana last night (and barely escape) in a how-the-mighty-have-fallen matchup. It has not been a good week for Wade. He was surpassed by Toronto's Kyle Lowry in the fan vote for a starting-guard spot in the upcoming NBA All-Star Game, another indication that Wade -- who just turned 33 -- may be past the pinnacle of his career arc. Also he was fined $15,000 by the league for aiming an obscene gesture at heckling fans in Charlotte Wednesday night, which is an uncharacteristic show of frustration by a typically very-composed player. Meantime the team is 18-24 at midseason and fighting for a playoff spot, and Wade has missed 10 of 42 games with injuries or rest. There is no doubt Wade (averaging 21.8 points) remains a very good player. But is he still "elite" by however you define that? I do not think the question is unfair. Take an honest dip in our poll and say why.
RILEY DESCENDS FROM MOUNT, AGREES TO SPEAK: Heat president and godfather Pat Riley parcels himself out to the media in rare and calculated dollops. He goes months with his public persona hidden, mum by design; then, when he chooses, he avails himself and, in the colloquialism, "can talk a fly off a s--- wagon." It's as if the months of silence erupt. So it was Thursday when Riley decided to appear for an otherwise minor news conference about the Heat arena hosting a college basketball doubleheader next November, knowing it would turn into his invitation to sermonize a State of the Heat midseason address. He did, and we distill it to what's most interesting, including his use of the word "underachieved." On this struggling season: "It’s been very, very frustrating that we haven’t been able to overcome the adversities. In the face of all the adversity that we’ve had, there have been times we have underachieved. But we’re in the fight. We’re not in the fight like we were before for the top of the conference. We are in the fight with five or six other teams for probably the playoffs, spots six, seven and eight. So get real about it. Don’t feel sorry about it. Get after it!" On bright spot Hassan Whiteside: "I’m not really surprised. There’s a big difference in his body, his behavior, his maturity from what he was. Now he’s grown. The testosterone has kicked in. He’s more mature. He’s hungry. I’m not going to overplay it, but he does have Zo-like capabilities in shot blocking and being able to finish at the rim." " On making trades to improve the roster: "There’s a lot of conversation but we’re not active. I’m not going to move chairs. I’ve been in the chair-moving business before and that’s all you do is move chairs around. We’re not about to give up assets that we don’t have, that we need, to make a lateral move out of desperation. If it’s a player to take us into the future, we’ll think about it." On what he looks for in season's second half: "The overall health is a game-changer. It just is. We’re at a point where when we lose one, it really sort of drops us to another level. The overall health and just getting mentally tough to the challenge that we’re playing for a playoff spot. Humble yourself to that and let’s roll and let’s go get it."
DAN MARINO DIPPED IN WAX: Dolphins great Dan Marino is the latest celebrity added to the Madame Tussauds pantheon. The wax Dan will be unveiled today/Saturday and debut at the company's Orlando museum. Dan-O is shown being measured for his likeness (left) and inspecting his own wax likeness (right). Wax museums ... creepy!
FURTHER INDICATIONS OF TIME FLYING: Bob Dylan is on the cover of the new (February/March) issue of AARP magazine, the mouthpiece of what used to call itself the American Association of Retired Persons. This I find sad ... but not quite as sad was when the aforementioned Dan Marino became an AARP spokesman. "Time is a cruel thief to rob us of our former selves. We lose as much to life as we do to death." -- Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, American playwright. (Geez, that was depressing...)
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