September 23, 2015

Heat's immediate future rated as bright; plus NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos updates, R.I.P. Yogi Berra, Dolphins' 1st 5 on 50th all-time team, newest in Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Fins' biggest problem, SOPY Week 3 standings & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. R.I.P., Yogi Berra, 90. [Insert malaprop]. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, which are even sadder than you might have imagined. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose at Jacksonville with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, The Hot List & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Ndamukong Suh column: In my latest column I explore the early heat finding Dolphins megamillionaire Ndamukonh Suh. Click on There Are Greater Concerns. The heat is misplaced. Suh's had two quiet games, but Miami has greater problems at 1-1, such as a disappearing ground game, shaky-at-times defense overall and bonehead penalties. Oh, and a brutal divison. New England we know, Buffalo proved Sunday it can play with the Patriots, then, Monday night, the New York Jets' defense dominated Andrew Luck. Better play from Suh had better be just the start of all the getting-better the Dolphins do.

HEAT RANKED 6TH IN NBA 'FUTURE POWER RANKINGS': ESPN's latest annual Future Power Rankings, a guesstimate projection of how each NBA team will fare on the court over the next three seasons, has 1aa1aheat1516Miami at No. 6 (up from ninth a year ago), trailing only Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland, Chicago and Houston. The Worldwide Leader's synopsis of Miami: "The Heat face a fascinating next 12 months. Miami has just four players under guaranteed contract beyond this season: guard Goran Dragic and forwards Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and (rookie) Justise Winslow. The Heat could clear significant cap space next summer -- or be completely capped out by re-signing unrestricted free agents Dwayne Wade and Hassan Whiteside. (Dragic and Wade are pictured). Whiteside presents a particularly thorny issue. The Heat will only have Whiteside's Early Bird rights, meaning Miami will have to dip into its cap space to re-sign him for more than the mid-level exception. Then again, Whiteside could regress and not be worth even that. We wouldn't trust everyone to manage an aging roster with so many question marks, but Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have earned the benefit of the doubt. And South Beach will always be a draw for players like Dragic, who left money on the table to re-sign this summer." Miami opens its 2015-16 pre-season with media day this coming Monday, following by training camp at FAU in Boca Raton.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2: We update you briefly every week on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Pix: Rough 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosweek: Stumbled at 7-9 overall with a slight bump to 8-8 against the spread. Called outright upsets by Broncos and Browns and had two other 'dogs-with-points in Redskins and Cowboys but not enough else went right. Lobos / family league: Tough loss: The original Lobos scored OK but lost 142-123 to fall to 1-1, despite 28 points from Odell Beckham, 27 from Torrey Smith and 19 from Adrian Peterson. Drew Brees (12) is letting me down and now banged up. Lobos / radio-show league: Ugh. Ouch: The new Lobos lost 111.8-93.1, dropping to 0-2. Got 28.7 from Emmanuel Sanders and then a whole lotta nuthin. Still  might have pulled it out Monday with a big game by Andrew Luck, but you saw how that went.

DOLPHINS ANNOUNCE FIRST 5 ON 50TH ALL-TIME TEAM: The Dolphins are gradually announcing their Top 50 all-time players in conjunction with this season's Golden Anniversary, and the first five announced today are safety Dick Anderson, receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, receiver O.J. McDuffie and safety Jake Scott. The "Marks Brothers" and safety tandem are no-brainers. McDuffie I think is deserving but wasn't, for me, the sure thing the other four were. The 50 were selected by fans, team alumni, local media and a "select blue ribbon panel." Five on the team will be announced each week starting with this. The entire team will be honored on the Dec. 14 home game vs. the Giants.

FLORIDA SPORTS HALL OF FAME ADDS NINE: The 54-year-old Florida Sports Hall of Fame will add nine new members, announced this week, in a Nov. 17 ceremony at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, (incredibly) the first time the group has held an induction in South Florida. Newest hall members alphabetically are: Longtime UM diving coach Randy Abelman, Ex-Hurricanes football star Bennie Blades, bowling hall of famer Paula Carter, "Mr. Marlin" Jeff Conine, former champion Bucs coach Tony Dungy, the late broadcaster Sonny Hirsch, the jai-alai champion Joey (Cornblit), Dolphins legend Zach Thomas and one-time Panthers goaltender John Vanbeisbrouck.

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH VAULTS TO NO. 1: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State 1aa1asopy 1aa1aalexmcgOffensive Player of the Year -- are underway and FIU quarterback Alex McGough (pictured) is our new Week 3 leader. SOPY does not discriminate. The smaller-school guys have a chance! Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 for Week 3:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 3

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W3        Season

1 (2)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         216       536.5

2 (1)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             57         522

3 (3)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       136        445

4 (9)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           192.5    434.5

5 (4)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb    127       391

6 (10)        Will Grier, Florida-qb           129.5     370 

7 (5)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb             75        338

8t (--)        Alex Gardner, rb-FIU             93        318

8t (3)        Everett Golson, FSU-qb         70.5       318

10 (--)       Marlon Mack, rb-SoFla           78         313

Bubble: Thomas Owens, wr-FIU, 304. Other team leader: Jordan Akins, UCF-wr, 164. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: All teams 2 games each. Past SOPY champions: 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb.

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

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

August 27, 2015

Who's the 2015 Athlete of the Year? 4 finalists. New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins optimism, dissing Larry Csonka, latest NFL playoff odds, Ashley Madison and ESPN, Greg's Lobos news & more


1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 27. R.I.P. to the TV reporter and cameraman murdered yesterday in Virginia. So awful and senseless. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Prediction Machine's rosy Dolphins outlook, my fantasy draft annual poll, Schnellenberger sabotage continues, note to anti-government crowd & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Optimism surrounding Dolphins is well-founded: That is the theme of today's latest column by me. A new computer projection by has Miami with a better than 50 percent likelihood to win 13 of its 16 games, further augmenting a sense of confidence among fans. Click on Dolphins, Rising to read the column in full. PredictionMachine's Paul Bessire elaborated to us today in an email: "The Dolphins currently rank fifth in our Power Rankings and are favored in 13 of 16 games. That’s the good -– if not great -– news for Dolphins fans. The most reasonable expectation, though, is a nine-win season and a wild card [playoff] berth with a better than 50 percent chance to make the playoffs. Given that the Dolphins play at a fast pace, tend to make critical mistakes and have so many young or new pieces, they are one of the most volatile teams in the league."

1aa1ashoeFunny joke: A friend thought I'd enjoy this recent Shoe comic strip. He was right. First woman: "So, tell me about this Shoe fellow you're dating." Second woman: "Well, he's a journalist. He's been married five times. He smokes, he's cheap, he's selfish, he uses foul language, he drinks way too much, and I'm not sure he's faithful." First woman: "Oh, you poor dear. He's a journalist?!"

FRAMING THE RACE FOR 2015 AMERICAN ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Our friend Christine Brennan, the very good USA Today columnist, inspires this poll with her latest column framing the 2015 Athlete of the Year race. (Click here to read). Her four finalists are hard to argue, probably all deserving, and an 1aa1aathleteyearinteresting mix of two individual-sport stars, a team and a horse. American Pharoah ended thoroughbred racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought. Golfer Jordan Spieth, at 21 turning 22, won two major championships and nearly won the other two. The U.S. women's soccer team won its first World Cup title since 1999. And tennis star Serena Williams is going for her fifth consecutive major and the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam in 27 years as the U.S. Open begins on Monday. Brennan writes, "If Serena wins the Open, becoming the first woman or man to win the Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, she would be my choice as sportsperson of the year. She would not only have won all four majors in the same year, she also would have tied Graf for the most Grand Slam titles won by a tennis player, male or female, in the Open era, with 22." I tend to agree. But I'm curious what the rest of you think right now. This has been a year when no major team-sport star (such as NBA MVP Steph Curry) has risen to the level of extraordinary accomplishment that these four have: Serena, dominating. Spieth, the phenom with the breakout year. Pharoah and U.S. women's soccer, both making history. Now pick just one. Hey, nobody said this was easy.

DEAR HBO AND BALLERS: SPELL-CHECK, PLEASE?: I watch HBO's Ballers, the Dwayne Johnson/football
vehicle that just ended its first season and got renewed, mainly because it is set in Miami and based 1aa1acsonka(without approval) on the Dolphins. There are cameos by guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Birdman Andersen, which is kind of neat. The acting is sort of lame and the writing cliched; I only watch because of the local angle. Anyway, Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka -- that's C-S-O-N-K-A -- has a recurring minor role as a gruff Dolphins assistant coach. Pictured right is a screen grab of the closing credits from the season finale. Dear HBO: How do you misspell the last name of a famous football player who stars in your own bleepin' show!? Jesus.

LATEST DOLPHINS/NFL PLAYOFF ODDS: Updated today, courtesy Bovada, with New England currently off-the-board due to Tom Brady suspension flux. Top five most likely playoff teams overall are Seahawks (1-8), Colts (1-6), Packers (2-11), Broncos (1-3) and Cowboys (4-7), though Pats would be in that group. AFC odds (including the Pats) find Miami tied for seventh at 6-5 in jockeying for six spots, meaning odds see Fins just past the far edge of being playoff-caliber. AFC East odds are Pats (off), Dolphins (6-5), Bills (7-4) and Jets (7-2).

ON ESPN AND THE HACK OF ASHLEY MADISON: The lovable muckrakers over at Deadspin report today that, of the millions of Ashley Madison users exposed when the infidelity website was hacked, at least 39
1aa1aashleymaccounts were registered with ESPN email addresses. (Click here for the story). No names are named. Yet. Deadspin reports around 100 ESPN employees may be involved (about 20 percent of them women) based on former or current ESPN-related IP addresses. Look for ESPN folks on the air today who seem to be unusually nervous, distracted or sweating profusely. Although in fairness Chris Berman tends to sweat profusely at all times, so that may not mean anything or be incriminating. I rule out LeBatard; he isn't married. In all seriousness, which is dumber: Needing the help of a website to cheat on your spouse? Doing it with a work email? Or doing it with a work email if you happen to be on TV and sort of famous? This story needs one of those triangular yellow road signs: EMBARRASSING FALLOUT AHEAD.

1aa1alobosGREG'S LOBOS -- THAT'S ME! -- WINS FANTASY POLL: I swear it wasn't rigged. It was a blind poll. You voted not knowing who ran what team; you voted simply based on each team's top four draft picks in our 10-team friends 'n family league. The results, with each team's top pick, and the owner:


5.1%: Team 1 ( 
2.4%: Team 5 (Antonio Brown). My older son, Christopher, who some may know as "Fat Chris" from the LeBatard Show even though he isn't fat.

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

July 27, 2015

Harvard (yes, Harvard) says Dolphins will make Super Bowl; plus Zoran Dragic, latest Hot Button Top 10 with Fins, Marlins, Heat, Canes, Cooperstown, Froome, Cowherd, soccer, Pan Am; also Stanton-Tannehill and Cosby-O.J. verdicts & more


1) It is MONDAY, JULY 27. Heat today reportedly have traded Zoran Dragic to Boston -- with the blessing of brother Goran. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's Next poll (Stanton vs. Tannehill), Al Golden's Kumbaya Manifesto, Dolphins among Top 100 players, Fall From Grace poll, U.S. men's shame, Weighing The Fish & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Sunday at Cooperstown: It was one of baseball's most illustrious inductions days. ICYMI, click here to see the four plaques, hear the tribute videos and watch the induction speeches.

HARVARD STUDY FORECASTS DOLPHINS IN SUPER BOWL. NO, SERIOUSLY: OK, Dolfans. You wanted a foundation (I mean beyond the law of averages) for your optimism about this coming season? You got it. 1aa1asb50A study by the brainiacs at Harvard University forecasts a Seattle-Miami Super Bowl. This is via the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, a student-run organization "dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management." In this study, researcher Kurt Bullard used Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, the site’s measure of comparing individual talent. Then Bullard, using ESPN’s NFL depth charts, aggregated each team’s per-game Approximate Value of what he judged the "core" makeup of a team: QB, RB, 2 WR, TE, top 2 OL, top 4 "front seven" defenders and top 2 players from secondary. Click here for details of the study and the complete list of how teams ranked. The study lists AFC East playoff likelihood as Dolphins 77 percent, Patriots 62%, Jets 56% and Bills 43%. Here are the study's projected eight AFC and NFC playoff teams based on overall ratings:

AFC: Dolphins 145 points, Chiefs 142, Patriots 141, Broncos 137, Jets 134, Colts 133, Bills 133, Steelers 132. NFC: Seahawks 166, Packers 154, Lions 136, Giants 126, Eagles 125, Cowboys 123, Falcons 120, Saints and Cardinals (tried) 119.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open training camp in three days: Team assembles on Wednesday and practices for first time on Thursday as lid lifts on club's 50th anniversary season. Joe Philbin will remind players they're there to win a championship. Um, yeah so will 31 other NFL head coaches. Question is whether Miami will be among the handful that actually might.

2. MARLINS: Fish return home (finally!) as trade deadline looms: Off a 3-7 road grind, Marlins are back Tuesday vs. Nationals with Jose Fernandez pitching, Miami's first home game in 16 days. Meantime team traded defrocked closer Steve Cishek to Cards for a minor-leaguer with more deals likely before July 31 deadline. In other words, there's 60-plus games left, but season is over,

3. HURRICANES: UM sees "accountability" as football nears: Al Golden is talking up intangibles like accountability and leadership as UM nears Aug. 6 start of practice. "One heartbeat," he says. Call it Camp Kumbaya. Now if Canes can just replace Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman and four other NFL draftees, they might be OK.

4. BASEBALL: Pitchers lead incoming Hall of Fame class: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, who combined for 735 wins, joined Craig Biggio in the latest Hall of Fame induction class Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y. Johnson stood out. The 10-time All-Star won 303 games, struck out 4,875 and is sport's all-time career leader in mullets.

5. HEAT: Miami trades Napier to Magic: Heat yesterday dealt second-year guard Shabazz Napier to Orlando Magic for a second-round draft pick. Miami would have much preferred Magic take Mario Chalmers (and his salary). Chalmers and/or Birdman Andersen may yet be traded. 

6. CYCLING: Froome zooms to Tour de France victory: Great Britain's Chris Froome won his second Tour de France in the 102nd running of the event beset by recent doping scandals. How boring. Why couldn't the upset winner have been some 9-year-old kid riding a beat-up Schwinn with baseball cards flapping in the spokes?

7. COLIN COWHERD: ESPN removes radio host over comments: ESPN booted radio host Colin Cowherd from its air after widespread criticism met his suggestion that Dominican baseball players lacked intelligence. Maybe Cowherd saw that making idiotic, insulting statements seemed to be working for Donald Trump and thought he’d give it a try, too!

8. BASEBALL: Hamels tosses no-hitter as pitchers steal season spotlight: Phillies' Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs Saturday, surely boosting his trade value. Meantime Dodgers aces Zack Greinke (43 2/3) and Clayton Kershaw (29) entered the weekend with 72 2/3 combined shutout innings in a row, though Greinke's streak ended Sunday at 45 2/3. Batters, ya'll need some Viagra for those bats! (Well, except Alex Rodriguez, who hit three homers Saturday).

9. GOLF: It's 'The American Year' on PGA Tour: Zach Johnson's British Open win last Monday, following Jordan Spieth's Masters and U.S. Open triumphs, means 2015 could be the first year since 1982 that U.S. golfers win all four majors. Too bad this sport and its “Quiet Please” signs frown upon a good, loud “U.S.A!” chant.

10. SOCCER: No U.S., but there was Gold Cup final, anyway: Philadelphia hosted Mexico's 3-1 win over Jamaica in CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer final last night -- hardly the championship match expected. Jamaica stunned the U.S in one semifinal and Mexico lucked to beat Panama in the other thanks to outrageous penalty-kick calls.

Missing the HB10 cut: U.S. won medals count as Pan American Games ended Sunday in Toronto. Pan Am Games are best known for drinking heavily and undergoing years of therapy from being lost in shadow of the bigger, more prestigious Olympic Games. ..... Pro Football Hall of Fame, in apparent effort to make itself seem heartless and small, refuses to let Junior Seau's family speak at next month’s posthumous induction ..... Wednesday is “Writers Night” at Marlins Park, with contest-winning fans watching game in company of Miami Herald sportswriters. One person will then be chosen for Grand Prize: Getting to ditch the writers and return to his regular seat ..... Annual WNBA All-Star Game was Saturday and MLS all-stars play Wednesday. Still intact: My incredible personal record of having never watched a single second of either. ..... U.S. Department of Justice drops 10-year investigation of Barry Bonds with no ultimate conviction. Hmm. Why do people keep saying the government wastes so much money?

Poll result: Stanton beats Tannehill for top-tier potential: We asked whether Giancarlo Stanton or Ryan Tannehill was more likely, 10 years from now, to be considered in Dan Marino/Dwyane Wade territory as an all-time great, beloved Miami sports star, and the Marlins slugger beat the Dolphins quarterback by 54.7 percent to 45.3%.

Poll result: O.J. edges Cosby for biggest fall from grace: It was one of the closest results we've ever seen. We asked whether Bill Cosby or O.J. Simpson had the bigger, more notorious fall from grace, and the dubious "winner" was O.J. with 51.5 percent to Cosby's 48.5%.

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

July 19, 2015

What's our enthusiasm level for MLS soccer in Miami? Poll Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Beckham, Marlins, British Open, Canes unis, Heat, Gold Cup, Dolphins, urine; also Dwyane Wade wine, Big 5-optimism verdict & more


1) It is MONDAY, JULY 20. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS in Miami moves closer, Big 5 optimism poll, R.I.P. Bill Arnsparger, Dolphin's brush with homelessness, Marlins resume, ESPY review, UM's jersey policy, Heat-expectations verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope. (Our followers on Twitter get automatic Periscope alerts).

Royals new WS faves: Kansas City Royals are new World Series frontunners at 6-1 odds, via Bovada's latest line. Cardinals and Nationals are next at 8-1, then Dodgers at 17-2. Marlins' 150-1 odds are tied for fourth-longest.

1aa1awadewineDwyane Wade, vinter: Heat star Dwyane Wade now has his own wine label, as seen in the photo here of the reds he posted on Instagram. I do not yet have a proper review of the Wade wine. I'm guessing it has subtle notes and aroma of oak, blackberry and a late-career athlete trying to capitalize on his name while he still can. D.Wade also has his own signature fashion line of designer bowties and men's socks, of course. Diversifying one's business interests is key. Hopefully for Heat fans, the Wade portfolio also includes another season (or more) of elite play.

HOW ENTHUSIASTIC ARE WE ABOUT MLS SOCCER IN MIAMI?: Soccer tends to be a polarizing sport in
America, still. Millions embrace and love it; it has grown far beyond a curiosity or niche sport. Yet many 1aa1amiamlsothers steadfastly want little or nothing to do with it and see it as an acquired taste not for them. I think diverse Miami and South Florida are far more likely than most regions to embrace Major League Soccer, but I've been wrong before so I want to take the pulse. David Beckham's investment group and the city of Miami settling on a stadium site (the old Orange Bowl grounds near Marlins Park) makes it more likely than ever that Miami's MLS franchise is real and will begin play in 2018. So, how enthusiastic are we? Does the "Miami Is Ready" declarative in the illustration here need a question mark? Take a dip in our poll, express your feelings and drop us a comment to say why you feel as you do.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. SOCCER: Miami, Beckham agree on MLS stadium site: David Beckham's investment group once referred to the former Orange Bowl site near Marlins Park as "spiritually tainted." Now, apparently it's "realistically feasible" after attempts at a waterfront stadium proved fruitless. The two applicable to the new stadium that are most important to taxpayers: "Privately funded." 

2. MARLINS: Injury-wracked Fish resume (badly) on long road trip: The semi-Marlins -- still missing injured stars Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Henderson Alvarez -- are back from All-Star Game break and in midst of 10-game road trip, starting 0-3 at hapless Philly. Team is on season-long 16-day gap between home games, but, given the way this season has gone, that's probably not a bad thing. 

3. GOLF: Johnson wins British Open; Spieth just short: The year's third major will ended on a Monday for first time since 1988, with Zach Johnson winning and Jordan Spieth one stroke off making the three-man playoff. The British was missing its defending champion Rory McIlroy to injury, and its shot at history as the Grand Slam-seeking Masters and U.S. Open champ Spieth was denied. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods missed the cut. Or, did that go without saying? 

4. HURRICANES: (So what!) UM unveils new football uniforms: Adidas threw an invitation-only VIP party on South Beach Saturday night to unveil its new University of Miami football uniforms, and nobody cared except Adidas executives, UM accountants and that segment of Canes fans way too worried about sartorial splendor. "Looking good" means playing well, Canes, not what you wear.

5. HEAT: Team wraps up summer league, mulls trades: Heat's youth squad finished a combined 6-4 in Orlando and Las Vegas summer-league play as club mulled trading Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen in salary cap moves. Meantime Chris Bosh called retooled Miami "on the verge of being an elite team. (Um, a lot of that depends on an elite you, Mr. Bosh). 

6. SOCCER: U.S. pounds Cuba, reaches Gold Cup semis: U.S. men ripped Cuba 6-0 Saturday to reach semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament and next face Jamaica on Wednesday. No surprise. I don't wanna say Cuba's expectations in the tournament were modest, but the big aim was having more goals than political defectors.

7. DOLPHINS: Countdown 10 days 'til start of training camp: It is almost time, Dolfans. It is almost time for experience the encroaching gloom of past disappointments and begin anxiously second-guessing your fragile optimism.   

8. CYCLING: Tour de France down to final week: Leader Chris Froome said a spectator yelled "Doper!" before throwing a cup of urine on him. I apologize. I don't know what got into me.   

9. BILL ARNSPARGER: Dolphins coaching icon passes away: Arnsparger, architect of the Super Bowl-winning "No-Name " defense and later the "Killer B's," died at 88. Among all coaches only Don Shula himself had a greater impact on Dolphins history.

10. THE ESPYS: ESPN stages annual salute to itself: Highlight: Caitlyn Jenner's speech. Lowlight: LeBron James winning the "Best Championship Moment" ESPY even though he didn't win a championship. "Yeah that makes sense," said snubbed American Pharoah.

Missing the HB10 cut: ACC Football Kickoff, annual three-day media event, starts Sunday. All-Star Game draws record-low TV rating. Exodus of ESPN stars. Conor McGregor lights up UFC. Cooperstown prepares for Hall of Fame weekend. And UM to limit football jersey sales each year to only Nos. 1 and the year (15 this season), the worst idea since New Coke.

Poll result: Heat, Dolphins make biggest leap in fan optimism: We asked which of our Big 5 sports teams are earning the most fan optimism right now, and the Heat and Dolphins are the big winners. The results now compared to the same poll back in February:

Team               Now        Feb.        +/-

Heat               49.1%      24.5%      +24.6

Dolphins        32.3%      14.1%      +18.2

UM football     9.0%      13.1%      - 4.1

Panthers           7.0%        5.4%      + 1.6

Marlins            2.6%       42.9%      -40.3

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

July 15, 2015

Where Miami teams rank among world's 50 most valuable franchises; plus Heat-expectations poll, LeBatard auction, Giancarlo Stanton's new PSA, baseball hits home run with Derby, chicken wings 'n pizza have a baby & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 15. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Good and bad on Tannehill ranking, Hot Button Top 10, Trump and Pierre-Paul verdicts & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too. Join us on Twitter for Periscope alerts. (We have a new 'Scope from yesterday's radio show. Watch soon. It disappears around 5:30 p.m. today).

'Peytom Branning': If Tom Brady and Peyton Manning morphed into each other: Click here for the gif.

Florida: "We're No. 10!": Recent national poll by market research group YouGov found Florida the 10th-most liked state in the U.S. (Are we bragging or complaining?) First: Hawaii. Dead last: New Jersey.

DOLPHINS BEAT HEAT ON MOST-VALUABLE-FRANCHISE LIST: List-mad Forbes has come out with its annual list of the world's Top 50 most valuable sports franchises for 2015, and two Miami clubs (the ones 1aa1amoneysportsyou'd expect) make it, albeit modestly. The Dolphins tie for 37th valued at $1.3 billion, and the Heat are 47th at $1.18 billion. The worldwide Top 10, with all figures in billions: 1. Real Madrid 3.26; 2. tie, Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees both 3.2; 4. Barcelona 3.16; 5. Manchester United 3.1; 6. tie, Los Angeles Lakers and New England Patriots both 2.6; 8. New York Knicks 2.5; 9. tie, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Redskins both 2.4. Rounding out the U.S. Top 10 after the Cowboys, Yankees, Lakers, Patriots, Knicks, Dodgers and Redskins are the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants (tied 12th at 2.1) and the Chicago Bulls and San Francisco Giants (tied 14th at 2.0).

MOTIVATED MAN: RILEY'S BIG SUMMER TURNS AROUND HEAT: A non-playoff team last season might now be the biggest NBA East challenger to LeBron James and Cleveland. That's what Pat Riley's big summer has 1aa1aheattwodone for the Miami Heat. Click on Motivated Man for our latest column. In a flurry the Heat drafted Duke's Justise Winslow, locked up point guard Goran Dragic for five years, kept Dwyane Wade, kept Luol Deng, and brought in big man Amar'e Stoudemire and 3-point guy Gerald Green at bargain rates. Mix in Chris Bosh' return to health, an ascending Hassan Whiteside and a healthy Josh McRoberts. That's an impressive nine-man depth. Riley has had is best offseason since 2010 and clearly is driven to topple LeBron James and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. Will he? Now that the draft is past and free agency is (mostly) over, it's time to set the bar on Heat expectations for the coming season. Don't vote what you hope happens; vote what you honestly think most realistically will happen. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

LEBATARD/ESPN AUCTION: LAST DAY!: Today is last day to submit bids in ESPN's ESPY Auction 1aa1adanbenefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research. An item that may be of special interest to South Floridians is a "Miami Heat Experience With Dan LeBatard and Stugotz." Winning bidder gets to watch an upcoming Heat game with Dan and Stu and also observe a taping of Highly Questionable and the radio show, along with other goodies. High bid was $4,110 when last I looked. Click here to access the auction (being done on eBay) and search Le Batard's name.

BASEBALL HITS A HOME RUN: Baseball got it right. Did it right. Monday's 30th annual Home Run Derby,
1aa1aderbyprecursor to last night's 86th All-Star Game, was pretty close to fantastic. I thought it upstaged the ASG, won 6-3 by the AL. After constant tinkering with the Derby format and an awful, boring show a year ago, MLB is preening and should be. Love the new format: eight players head-to-head, bracket style, with a time limit. The pace stayed fast, and guys were free-swinging, not worried about making outs. That the Reds' Todd Frazier won it, in Cincinnati, capped a storybook night. For an event that's all show and means nothing, really, it  was close to thrilling. The final eight suffered from the absence of the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (injured) and Nationals' Bryce Harper (choice) -- I think Stanton would have been the favorite -- but it was great stuff just the same.

Derby a hit with viewers: Via Nielsen, the Home Run Derby on ESPN drew a final 4.2 rating, up 24 percent from 2014, despite Chris Berman's hair. It was best HRD rating since 2009.

GIANCARLO STANTON'S NEW PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: MLB teamed up with the group Volunteers of America beginning in 2003 on an "Action Team" project, called a "national youth volunteer program." It is meant to encourage high-school age kids to get involved in helping those less fortunate in their communities. The latest public-service ad debuted during last night's All-Star Game, featuring the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (another sign of his rising public profile) and Yankees pitcher Chris Capuano. Click on Volunteers of America for more info. Here is the full 60-second PSA:


Stanton in Cooperstown: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's early-career trajectory suggests he might make the Hall of Fame someday -- if he stays healthy -- but did you know Stanton already is represented in Cooperstown with two artifacts in the Hall's permanent collection? They are: Batting helmet he wore Sept. 28, 2011 in Marlins’ final home game at Sun Life Stadium, and spikes worn Sept. 29, 2013 when Stanton scored the game's only run, on a wild pitch in bottom of ninth, to seal no-hitter of Henderson Alvarez.

They are calling it "Napoli Crispy Pizza Chicken" and it is currently being test-marketed at KFC locations in Hong Kong, which suggests the menu item may soon reach America if it goes over in the Kong. How could it not!? It's the marriage of chicken wings and pizza for God's sake! I just cold-called a random stranger in Kowloon to see how the dish is but he spoke Cantonese so I couldn't understand what he said. The Colonel would be proud. Or mortified, perhaps? 

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July 06, 2015

"Let's gooooo States!" The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): U.S. wins World Cup, D.Wade, Jose, Serena, Fins, Chile, Aldridge, cycling, Cats and dogs; plus Marlins All-Stars, 'Body' nude, LeBatard & more


1aa1aflagme1) It is MONDAY, JULY 6. Hope y'all had a safe and fun Fourth of July and long holiday weekend. Happy 239th, America! Pictured is a photo I posted on Instagram of the flag in my yard as fireworks boomed over my neighborhood. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane vs. Jose poll, Confederate fag result & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

Random Evidence: The Sunday notes column: Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes column package.

"Let's gooooo States!" U.S. clubbed Japan 5-2 last night in Canada to convincingly win the Women's World Cup -- USA's third championship and first since 1999. Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and the Americans were favored and delivered, and of course as a ("U-S-A!") journalist I was a perfectly ("U-S-A!") neutral observer. "Let's gooooo States!"

1aa1agymnastESPN 'Body' issue: It's out in the magazine and online, ESPN's annual gratuitous platform allowing naturally narcissistic athletes to be even more narcissistic by showing us that their wonderful athleticism is a tribute to their even more wonderful bodies. Pictured right: Gymnast Aly Raisman, until my editors tell me to take the pic down, which I'm sure they wouldn't since it's, like, you know, all over ESPN.

Marlins All-Stars: All-Star Game starters based on fan voting were announced on ESPN last night, and as expected the Marlins' Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton made it, Gordon leading NL second basemen in voting and Stanton (though he's injured and won't play) finishing second among NL outfielders. The Marlins previously had only two players voted to start the ASG: Gary Sheffield (3B, 1993) and Hanley Ramirez (SS, 2008-10). Reserves will be announced tonight.

LeBatard cameo on 'Ballers': Dan LeBatard had a small speaking role on HBO's Miami-based Ballers series last night, seen wearing a 'Miami' cap, smoking a cigar and asking Dwyane Johnson what his end-game was. I loved his appearance, mostly because now so I can make fun of him on the radio Tuesday.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. SOCCER: U.S. beats Japan, wins Women’s World Cup: Four years ago Japan beat the United States on penalty kicks in the championship match. Last night, the U.S. sought its revenge and resoundingly got it with a 5-2 rout in a WWC final rematch in Canada -- led by Carli Lloyd's three goals. This is where I’d drop in a quick Pearl Harbor reference, but that might be seen as politically incorrect so I'd better not.

1aa1ahotbutton2. HEAT: Wade re-signs with Miami, but for only one year: Huge week for Heat with Luol Deng staying, Goran Dragic signing long-term, Michael Beasley cut, Justise Winslow starring as Heat summer-league team opened play, plus that pointless pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge. But of course the biggest new was Dwyane Wade re-upping. Call  it drama, delayed. Won’t the Heat and Wade be doing this same contract dance a year from now? That’s what a one-year deal gives you. No complaint, though. A starting lineup of Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh, Deng, Dragic and Wade can win. (Had better, anyway!)

3. MARLINS: Fernandez makes winning return after year’s absence: It had been more than a year — 419 days — since Jose Fernandez last pitched before his triumphant comeback Thursday. He improved to 13-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Marlins Park. Isn’t there some way to convince him that every time he pitches it’s a home game? Hypnosis, perhaps?

4. TENNIS: Serena survives scare as Wimbledon, faces sister next: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams seem championship-bound as Wimbledon begins its second week. Serena survived an upset bid by Heather Watson on Friday but must now face sister Venus today/Monday. Meanwhile this was the fourth Wimbledon in a row in which Rafael Nadal has been ousted early and ingloriously. Might be time to bring back the Capri pants.

5. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule: The Dolphins announced their historic 50th anniversary season would begin July 30 with the official start of preseason training camp, two weeks of practices segueing into the first exhibition game. Anniversaries less impressive than the 50th include this being the 42nd season since their last Super Bowl.

6. SOCCER: Chile upset winner in Copa America: Beating Argentina on penalty kicks to win Copa America marked Chile's biggest international title ever. Finally, a message to Brazil and Argentina that South America has other teams, too.

7. NBA: LaMarcus Aldridge to Spurs: San Antonio bags NBA's No. 1 actually-might-leave-his team free agent with power forward Aldridge leaving Portland. Heat's Pat Riley had flown to L.A. to meet with Aldridge, the Godfather's biggest wasted trip since that meeting with LeBron James a year ago.

8. CYCLING: Tour de France gets underway: Still going despite all of its various doping scandals, the latest Tour de Fraud France has begun. It must be so difficult for those cyclists to peddle up mountains while simultaneously providing urine samples.

9. PANTHERS: Cats stage four-day developmental camp: It was for recent draftees and other first-year players and included “team building” activities such as a beach outing and a Marlins game. Hmm. I’d rather my team win but not get along than lose and sing Kumbaya.

10. HOT DOGS: Annual gorging contest held on Coney Island: Answer: I would sooner watch vultures disemboweling maggot-covered carrion in a roadside ditch. Question: Did you watch Saturday’s annual hot dog-eating contest? Dear "competitive eating" fad: You were cute for a while. Go away, please.

Missing the HB10 cut: Golf, Doral standing behind Donald Trump, for now. Dan LeBatard cameo on HBO's Ballers tonight. Strikers lose to Boca Juniors. Brett Favre, 45, says he could still play. ESPN Body issue out today/Monday as our most narcissistic athletes celebrate themselves.

Poll result: Dwyane edges Jose for biggest story: Admittedly it was an apples-and-oranges question that (predictably) caused a smallish response, but we asked it anyway, and Dwyane Wade re-upping with the Heat was judged a bigger story than Jose Fernandez's comeback game by 59.2 percent to 40.8%.

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May 23, 2015

UM football / MLS soccer shared-stadium venture: Good idea? New poll. Vote now!; plus King of Late-Night and Kidgate verdicts, proctology news & more


1) It is SUNDAY, MAY 24. Click on Random for our latest Random Evidence, the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): David Letterman farewell with King of Late-Night poll, Steph Curry/Kidgate poll, Dolphins top-paid NFL team, punter disses Tannehill, Weighing the Fish at 40, Heat draft, D.Wade's new game, 'real' Miami Vice video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Hot Button Top 10: The HB10, our regular blog-exclusive Sunday feature, will appear here Monday evening this week.  

ON THE HURRICANES FOOTBALL / MLS SOCCER JOINT STADIUM VENTURE: You know the University of Miami and the David Beckham group trying to bring Major League Soccer here have met about a shared 1aa1astadiumsharestadium that would be built near Marlins Park. (One proposed rendering is pictured). It would be about 40,000 seats, which strikes us a bit too small for UM and a bit too big for MLS. (The Canes already have intimated they would still play marquee homes games, such as vs. Florida State, at much-bigger Dolphin stadium). I'm not sure if the proposed merger serves either side particularly well. UM, which of course needs the on-campus stadium it has never realized, would be closer to campus ... but enough to make a difference? The Beckham group, which has tried mightily and failed to have a downtown waterfront stadium, would suddenly be OK with Little Havana? For both sides it feels like settling. I have no better alternative dealing with each side's current realities, and I am not saying this wouldn't work fine. But I wonder how both sides of fans -- Canes football fans and people waiting to support MLS soccer here -- feel about the deal under discussion? About sharing a stadium? About the location? Would UM fans rather stay put at Dolphins stadium? Would soccer fans rather hold out for a different location? Or does what's being discussed sound pretty good? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Carson still King of Late-Night: We asked on the occasion of David Letterman's farewell but you made it clear you haven't forgotten his mentor. Johnny Carson earned 70.4 percent of your vote for King of Late Night, more than triple Letterman's 22.5%. After that it was 4.1% for Jay Leno and 3.0% for "someone else."

Poll result: On Steph Curry's side in Kidgate: We asked if athletes such as NBA star Steph Curry should be allowed to bring their kids to postgame press conferences, and it was 56.0 percent yes, 38.3% no and 5.7% undecided.

URGENT P1aa1aproctologyROCTOLOGY NEWS: As your full-service blog we like to keep you abreast of major medical breakthroughs, and here's one: Something that simulates the look and feel of a human derriere so that butting budding proctologists might become digitally adept before confronting an actual human being, as seen in the photo. They have named the device "Patrick," which must thrill all you Patricks out there. Click on Fake Proctology Ass for the tail tale that explains it all. Updates as warranted.

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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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April 11, 2015

Heat lose again, playoff hopes on life support; plus is LeBron intentionally hurting Heat? (poll), Fins' Brandon Albert in boxing gym (video), Marlins off the schneid, NBA/Cuba verdict & more


1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 11. Pictured right, coffee cup sentiment applying to current Heat playoff situation. 2) Mike Pouncey signs multi-year extension with Dolphins making him NFL's highest-paid center. Hope deal includes a babysitter to keep him out of trouble in the clubs. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA/Heat/Cuba poll, Heat playoff update, Marlins 0-3, Kiper on Dolphins draft, MLB Stanton video & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Aside to my media brethren: Please tap the brakes on applying words like "disaster" to a lost game. One of the lessons of 9/11, at least for me, was to remind there are actual disasters, and that a huge loss in sports, no matter how big the blown lead or important the game, is not one. 

PLAYOFF CHASE: HEAT LOSE AGAIN, HOPES NEXT TO GONE: First Miami blows a 19-point lead in a crushing home loss to Bulls Thursday, then watches Friday as all three teams it is chasing win, and then loses at home tonight to Toronto 107-104. Heat have now lost nine of past 12 games at a time when wins were most essential. Miami must now win its final two games and pray. Four teams are jockeying on the home stretch for the Nos. 7 and 8 East seeds. (Playoff-likelihood percents below are not yet updated with tonight's Heat loss). How it looks from here entering Sunday's NBA action:

7. Boston: 37-42, W3. Playoff likelihood: 82.3% (up 16.5) per Hollinger/ESPN. Next: Sunday vs. CLE, then vs. TOR, @ MIL. Note: In driver's seat, with tiebreaker over Nets.

8. Brooklyn: 37-42, W1. Playoff likelihood: 81.2% (up 14.9). Next: Sunday @ MIL, then vs. CHI, vs. ORL. Note: Last two games being at home helps the cause.

9. Indiana: 36-43, W4. Playoff likelihood: 22.5% (down 10.2). Next: Sunday vs. OKC, then vs. WAS, @ MEM. Note: Pacers own tiebreaker over Heat, which is huge.

10. Miami: 35-45, L2. Playoff likelihood: 14.2% (down 21.3). Next: Monday vs. ORL, then @ PHI. Note: Heat own tiebreaker over Celtics and Nets, but would need 2-0 finish -- and much help -- for any chance. Clearest path to playoffs: Miami ends 2-0, and either Boston or Brooklyn lose all three remaining games.

IS LEBRON JAMES INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO SABOTAGE HEAT? Reports were Cleveland's LeBron James would sit out the two games this week against a Boston team that Miami is desperately chasing

1aa1alebronjamesfor a final East playoff spot. Well, James played last night but sat out fourth quarter in a home loss to Celtics -- and new reports are that he will sit out Sunday's game vs. Boston. He has every right; the Cavaliers have clinched the No. 2 seed. But suspicion is raised, especially if he sits out Sunday's rematch. It is not far-fetched, given the way LeBron departed Miami and left things with Pat Riley, that LBJ might time his rest to hurt the Heat by benefiting Boston. James would scoff at the idea and the truth may never be known, but I wonder how Heat fans feel? Clearly Miami is responsible for its own playoff standing, and losses like last night's make the Heat its own worst enemy. But facts are facts. Miami could really use Boston to lose both or at least one of the next two games, the Cavs are 2-9 without LeBron, and the timing of the King's "rest" could be a coffin nail for the franchise he left. Intentional? You tell me:

Poll result: Most favor Heat involvement in Cuba, but strong dissent, too: We asked how Heat should react to NBA's initiatives in Cuba, and 57.1 percent said "embrace it," while 36.5% said "avoid it" and 6.4% were undecided. The favorable number was running in the 70s but fell noticeably when it was first reported (in this column by me) that the Heat objected angrily and would not participate.

MARLINS OFF THE SCHNEID: [Update: Marlins blow 8-1 lead but hang on to beat Tampa Bay 10-9 in 10 innings for first win, getting the offensive bust-out they needed]. Original post: OK, 0-3 is 0.0185 percent of the season. I get that. Of course 0-3, at home, vs. a supposedly inferior division rival, when you score a grand total of three runs, makes 1aa1abbopeningweekit a bit worse. So does this: Ten straight road games -- tied for the longest trip of the season -- follow the three-game home series vs. Tampa Bay that begins tonight. Pressure shouldn't find any team this soon. Heck, you have to go back a whole year (2014 Angels) to find a team that began 0-3 and still made the playoffs. Pressure is lurking, though. It's waiting around the corner. That's why a strong showing vs. the Rays and an offensive breakout is important.

FINS' BRANDON ALBERT TRAINING IN BOXING GYM: Interesting video here by Herald's Charles Trainor Jr. of Dolphins left tackle Brandon Albert doing offseason work at Matt Baiamonte's boxing gym in Wynwood:


IF GREG COTE WERE IN CHARGE OF ROAD SIGNS: The spot-on, realistic-looking road signs pictured at 1aa1akardashianright, in red, have mysteriously begun popping up all over the Los Angeles area. Not sure who is behind the comic genius, but I love it. Imagine a culture where the faux-famous like the Kardashian family -- famous only for being famous -- were not welcomed everywhere as royalty but rather shunned as sad examples of the embarrassment of celebrity worship.

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March 30, 2015

Finally, the Four! Who'll win NCAA semifinals? Two polls. Vote now!; plus Bieber roast, Larranaga from NIT, Dolphins draft, ageless wonders Wade, Jagr carry Heat, Panthers & more


No radio today: My usual Tuesday in-studio gig on the Dan LeBatard Show will be Thursday this week.

1aa1abloodymary1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 31. Pictured right, a bloody mary you can buy at Minnesota Twins games that includes a slice of cold pepperoni pizza in it. Just because. 2) Click on Materiality's Burden for my latest column, from Saturday's Florida Derby. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, more Madness, Florida Derby & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Terrific TV Tuesday:

  • Hurricanes men vs. Temple, NIT semifinal, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Panthers at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. (FSFL)
  • San Antonio Spurs at Heat, 8 p.m. (TNT)

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat, Cats face huge games tonight. Update entering TuesdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 34-39 (W1), 1 1/2 games from 6th with 9 games left (next tonight vs. San Antonio). Heat playoff likelihood: 79.6% (up 1.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 35-41 (W1), 1 point from 9th and 4 points from 8th with 6 games left (next tonight at Boston). Cats playoff likelihood: 6.4% (up 0.1) per

FINALLY, THE FOUR! WHO WINS THE NCAA TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS?: It's No. 1 Kentucky  vs. No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 1 Duke vs. No. 7 Michigan State this coming Saturday in the men's NCAA Tournament 1aa1afinalfourFinal Four. Kentucky and Duke both are 5-point early favorites. Kentucky is now a prohibitive 5-6 favorite to win it all, with Duke and Wisconsin both 7-2 and Michigan State 7-1. This is the 17th Final Four for Kentcucky, 15th for Duke, ninth for Michigan State and third for Wisconsin. It's a heavyweight Final Four. There are no Cinderellas here, not with Michigan State's pedigree, despite its seeding. (By the way, an oddsmaker friend tells me that, if the semis go as expected, Kentucky would likely open as a 4 1/2-point pick over Duke in the title match. But that's getting ahead of ourselves). Who do you predict will win the two semifinal games? Not who you want to win, but who you'd bet to win if you had $100 to place straight-up on either game. Vote and say why.

AGELESS WONDERS WADE, JAGR LIFT HEAT, PANTHERS: Was a big Sunday for our two teams angling for the postseason (see Playoff Chase above for more), thanks to 40 points from Heat's Dwyane Wade in 1aa1adwade 1aa1ajjagrthe 109-102 win over Detroit and two goals from Panthers' Jaromir Jagr in the 4-2 win at Ottawa. Wade, at 33, in his 12th NBA and Miami season, continues to verify he still is in his prime, albeit the far side of it. Jagr, 43, in his 21st NHL season, has proven an excellent playoff-push spark since Florida signed him in late February. The Heat, a current seventh seed, tries to climb to No. 6 in the East for a more favorable first-round matchup  vs. (likely) Chicago. Miami would draw LeBron and Cleveland by staying seventh or top-seeded Atlanta by slipping to eighth. The Panthers still must make up four points to the Bruins to climb up  to eighth. Tonight's game at Boston is must-win in most every sense; Florida needs a two-point victory to give itself a realistic chance. Heat also face a big test tonight, here, vs. San Antonio.

LATEST MOCK-DRAFT GUESS FOR DOLPHINS: Wide receiver certainly is emerging as the position of choice for Miami by most notable mock drafters. The new Mock 4.0 by ESPN's Todd McShay has Fins 1aa1abreshadpselecting Central Florida WR Breshad Perriman (pictured), 6-2 and 212 pounds, the son of longtime NFL wideout and former UM Hurricane Brett Perriman. Here is McShay's analysis: "We haven't had Perriman going this early in our previous mocks, but we've seen two promising signs from him as we've gone through the evaluation process. 1) His ball skills, which were something of a concern on his early-season tape, appeared to get better as the year wore on. His performance in UCF's bowl game against NC State was the best we've seen from him in terms of catching the ball. 2) He verified the speed he flashes on tape with 4.24 and 4.27 40 times at his pro day last week. Miami could use him to replace Mike Wallace as its deep threat opposite fellow newcomers Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron, giving QB Ryan Tannehill some talented weapons to work with." Perriman is the fourth wideout going in McShay's latest mock. He has Louisville's DaVante Parker, a popular choice for Miami at 14th overall, going 10th to St. Louis.

LARRANAGA FROM THE N.I.T. AS CANESPLAY TONIGHT: A complete (minimally edited) transcript of Miami Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga from yesterday's NIT press conference as UM prepared to face Temple in Tuesday's/tonight's semifinal game at Madison Square Garden:

"The first question I was asked by the media after we beat Richmond was, 'You know you're going back to New York. What's your favorite restaurant?' I said there is only two places I absolutely go to eat when I'm in New York. The first is I get a dirty-water dog off the street vendor and I get a slice of pizza. So if you haven't done either of those you need to do that because that's the best eating you're going to find. This is a thrill for me. My first experience in the NIT was actually when I was 9 or 10 years old. My brother Bob played at St. John's University. He was a scholarship athlete, played for Joe Lapchick and he brought me to Madison Square Garden for the Holiday Festival. I had a chance to watch St. John’s play and he took me down to the lockerroom afterward and I met the St. John's players and from that moment, I wanted to be a college basketball player. I wanted to play in Madison Square Garden. It’ s a little different now because that was the old Garden and it was smoke filled. You guys remember what it was like? I didn’t know, I thought that was what Madison Square Garden looked like. So, when they built a new Garden, I said, 'Where’s all the smoke?'."

"In New York is there's no place you want to play other than Madison Square Garden. My first experience as a player was in 1969. Joe Mullaney brought our Providence College team to the Holiday Festival. We played against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his UCLA team. I thought we outplayed them, really, but they snuck away with the victory. Then eventually in my my senior year we did lose to the great Carolina team under Dean Smith and they won the NIT 1971."

"So I have great memories of New York City, the NIT and Madison Square Garden. And in particular my last experience in the NIT and in Madison Square Garden was with Jeff Jones who absolutely destroyed a great UNLV team in the semifinals. I don't remember all the number of assists. I'm guessing he does. It was like 14 or 15 assists. He led our team to the NIT championship, and he carried Ralph Sampson and Jeff Lamp along with him."

"I'm very fortunate to be here. We were down 18 against Richmond and I have no idea how we came back and won that game but we're very excited. My players are very excited to be in New York, my wife is very excited to be here in New York. She made me promise to take her to New York before the Richmond game and I said you have to talk to my players about that. I talked to my players about that and sure enough they delivered."

"This is a great group of guys. I recruited Johnny Dawkins. I tried to coach Jeff Jones. He was really uncoachable at that time. And Fran and I are contemporaries. We were both guards who never passed the ball. But I will say this about our game tomorrow night against Temple. John Chaney wrote the book on how to not turn the ball over, play great defense and have your guards just dominate a game and Fran and his team are doing the same thing. [They are an] absolutely incredible defensive team. They don't turn the ball over. I think it's going to be a great ball game."

"I hope our players realize the opportunity they have because whoever cuts down the nets on Thursday night, it's going to be winning a national championship. A memory they will have for lifetime. So thank you very much."

ON THE JUSTIN BIEBER ROAST: With no sports on TV that interested me and because making fun of the 1aa1abieberexceedingly mockable subject seemed like such a natural idea, I watched Comedy Central's The Roast Of Justin Bieber last night. A few random thoughts. It was funny, worth watching. (Click here if you missed it). Bieber was a good sport. Host Kevin Hart, at his career apex, was great. Still not sure who Jeff Ross is. Or why Martha Stewart was there, aside form the prison jokes. Also, can Hannibal Buress please fade immediately from public attention and never return? Favorite throwaway line: "Snoop Dogg looks like Shaq's skeleton."

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