May 25, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Fish, Fins, Finals, Canes baseball, Montoya, Letterman, hockey, soccer, tennis, Heat; plus 50,000 Names: Thank you, American heroes; also, UM/MLS stadium verdict & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 25. Click on Random for our latest Sunday Random Evidence notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM/MLS stadium discussions with poll, King of Late Night and Kidgate poll results, proctology news & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HOT BUTTON MAY 25: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (a day late this week but updated) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Stinking Fish make bizarre manager change, finally win: The slumping Marlins surprised baseball by prematurely firing manager Mike Redmond and then stunned baseball by replacing him with Dan Jennings, who was the general manager and began 0-5 in his new role before finally winning. Jennings last managed at the high school level in 1980s. No, seriously.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lock up QB Tannehill with long-term deal: The Dolphins will pay quarterback Ryan Tannehill $96 million over the next six seasons in the hopes he makes them a perennial playoff team and even a Super Bowl contender. I think Dolfans are generally happy about the deal, but probably not nearly as happy as Tannehill’s wife, Lauren.

3. NBA: Golden State, Cleveland barreling toward Finals: All of America outside of Atlanta, Houston and Miami is rooting for the Golden State-Cleveland NBA Finals that now seems certain -- Steph Curry vs. LeBron James. Take solace, Heat fans. Even if that happens, it would be first time in five or six years that LeBron would enter a playoff series expected to lose.

4. UM BASEBALL: Canes to host NCAA regional: Miami failed to win the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament but stil was named a No. 5 national seed and will host an NCAA Regional at Ron Fraser Stadium. (Hey. It's my blog. I can call it whatever I want).

5. AUTO RACING: Miamian Montoya wins Indy 500: The 99th running of “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” is the one day IndyCars steal the spotlight from NASCAR, and Miami's Juan Pablo Montoya won Sunday. I was betting on Will Power. Not because I thought he'd win, but because I have a soft spot for guys with ridiculous names that sound like alter-ego pseudonyms of comic-book superheroes.

6. DAVID LETTERMAN: Late-night TV legend says farewell: Letterman didn’t supplant Johnny Carson as the all-time late-night king, never got to host “The Tonight Show” and didn’t often beat Jay Leno in ratings, yet wound up a legend. Proves you can be beloved even if you don’t win the ultimate prize. Just ask Dan Marino. Ouch! Too soon?

7. NHL: High drama in hockey semifinals: Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers are tied 2-2 in the Eastwern Conference and Anaheim and Chicago are knotted 2-2 in the West. Dear NBA: This is how you do drama.

8. SOCCER: Joint stadium for UM football and MLS soccer?: David Beckham wanted a Miami waterfront home for Major League Soccer but couldn’t get one. Miami Hurricanes need a campus football stadium but couldn’t get one. Now the sides are discussing sharing a new venue near Marlins Park. What will it be called? Consolation Stadium?

9. TENNIS: French Open is underway: Betting favorites in Paris are Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. Sort of like in every other tournament anywhere else.

10. HEAT: Tough week for Heat fans: Watching LeBron James roll to another Finals. Pretending to be thrilled over keeping the 10th pick in the NBA Draft. Then seeing no Miami player make the All-NBA first, second or third team for the first time since 2008. Good news? Season's almost over.

Poll result: Cautious excitement over proposed UM/MLS stadium: We asked and 34.5 percent called it a great idea and 28.6% were intrigued enough to hear more. On the negative side, 15.1% were skeptical and 21.8% said "no!"

MEMORIAL DAY, 2015: THANK YOU, FALLEN SOLDIERS: On Memorial Day every year (that's today), America honors its war dead. As a proud, patriotic citizen I am honored to mark the occasion in my blog today. The Revolutionary War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq and right through to today's fight against Islamic State, among many other battles distant and not, America's bravest fight and the casualties continue. Across decades and centuries, across the world, the price of freedom never lets up and never will. I hate that we use the word "heroes" so frivolously, especially to apply to something as inconsequential as sports. This is the day for real heroes. The video below is a song called "50,000 Names," by George Jones. It is about Vietnam and The Wall in Washington, D.C., but it speaks to all of America's war dead, and with appreciation to all of the loved ones they left behind. This is for them. Thank you, today and always!

 

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May 18, 2015

Dolphins sign Tannehill long-term; plus do you approve of Marlins firing Redmond? Poll. Vote now!; also Jennings new Fish manager, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Garo Yepremian dies, SoFla Super Bowl poll, LeBatard ranked 11th, UM football, LeBron advances, Ted Wells'  mustache, Cote on $2 bill, B.B. King & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NBA Final Four odds: Via Bovada today, Golden State a 4-7 favorite to win the NBA title, with Cleveland 13-5. Longshots are Atlanta at 9-1 and Houston 10-1.

The Garo column: Click on Garo Yepremian, R.I.P. for my latest column.

Dee Train update: 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: .420 (63-for-150). Last game: 1-for-4 vs. ATL Sunday. Next: Tonight vs. ARI.D

1aa1aryantDOLPHINS COMMIT LONG-TERM TO TANNEHILL: The Dolphins today extended the contract of quarterback Ryan Tannehill by four years, through the 2020 season. Originally under contract for two more seasons, the sides renegotiated a six-year deal reportedly worth $96 million, with almost half of it ($45 mill) guaranteed. The long-term, high-dollar extension is not a surprise, although the timing of when it would occur was not certain. The sides were smart to get it done well  before summer training camp. The commitment and big bucks also increase the onus on Tannehill to lead a playoff season in 2015.

MARLINS NAME GM JENNINGS TO REPLACE FIRED MANAGER REDMOND: [Update: Click on Loria's Wild Ride for today's new column by me, on the Marlins' latest managerial move another sign of owner Jeffrey Loria's impatience and lack of firm direction]. The Marlins, 16-22 and fourth place in 1aa1adanjenthe NL East, fired manager Mike Redmond after yesterday's 6-0 home loss to the Atlanta Braves. Bench coach Rob Leary was dismissed, too. The Marlins were swept by the Braves to begin a 10-game homestand and were almost no-hit, breaking it up with two outs in the ninth. Even more surprising than Redmond's dismissal, the team today announced it has replaced Redmond with its general manager, Dan Jennings (pictured right), who has never managed or coached beyond the high school level. Do you approve of firing Redmond not quite one-quarter into the season? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

HOT BUTTON MAY 17: 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, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. GARO YEPREMIAN: Iconic Dolphin passes away: One of the most beloved and unique characters in club history, the Dolphins' 1970s kicker died late Friday at age 70 after battling brain cancer for about a year. He'll forever be a part of franchise folklore, with only one word required: Garo.

2. MARLINS: Fish, in midst of long homestand, fire manager: Miami is three games into a 10-game homestand and 0-3 after nearly being no-hit Sunday -- after which manager  Mike Redmond was let go. Team is mired in fourth place in division so we accentuate the positive: Dee Gordon, .420. Giancarlo Stanton, 11 homers. Steve Cishek, benched.

3. NBA: Houston completes league's Final Four: Rockets hosted and beat Clippers Sunday afternoon to avance vs. Golden State in Western finals, while it's LeBron James and Cleveland vs. Atlanta in the East. Going to be weird hearing all those "Let's go Hawks!" chants in Miami the next week or two.

4. HORSE RACING: America Pharoah does it again; Triple Crown in play: Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah overcame rain and a muddy track to win the Preakness Saturday, meaning the sport's first Triple Crown since 1978 will be in play at the Belmont in three weeks. This is when Americans who don't know a furlong from a fur coat pretend they're into horse racing.

5. DEFLATEGATE: Patriots, Brady fighting four-game suspension: The latest: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to hear Tom Brady's appeal, the NFLPA says no way, and the whole thing seems headed to a nasty court fight. NFL: National. Football. Litigation.

6. TERRORISM: Boston Marathon bomber sentenced to death: A Boston jury sentenced Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev to the death penalty for his role in the 2013 terrorist bombings. Unfortunately, the over/under on appeals is being measured in years, not months.

7. HEAT: Draft lottery is Tuesday night: Heat has a more than 80 percent chance to have the 10th overall pick. What a difference a year makes. Past four seasons Miami is steaming to the NBA Finals. Now Miami is hoping a bunch of ping-pong balls bounce just right.

8. HURRICANES: UM baseball opens ACC tournament: A terrific regular season has coach Jim Morris' Canes ranked No. 8 nationally and seeded second in the ACC Tournament starting Wednesday in Durham, N.C. UM carries 12-game win streak into postseason. Ending it now would be awful timing, indeed. 

9. NHL: Four still skating in Stanley Cup playoffs: New York Rangers are up 1-0 on Tampa Bay in Eastern finals, and Anaheim is up 1-0 on Chicago in the West finals. Anything seems possible in the NHL playoffs, except, as usual, a Canadian team playing for the championship.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins, South Florida ready Super Bowl bids: Continually passed over lately but with a renovated stadium now in play, South Florida bids to host upcoming Super Bowls at this week 's league meetings in San Fran. This is very important to Stephen Ross and to SoFla tourism officials. Dolfans only care about hosting a Super Bowl if their team is in it.

Missing the cut: Sepp Blatter and the FBI, WNBA suspensions, Isiah Thomas running women's team, ESPN and Bill Simmons, French Open nears.

Poll result: Great disagreement on importance of Miami hosting a Super Bowl: There was close to an even split between those who thought it was "very important" Miami host a Super Bowl (39.3 percent) and those who thought it was not important unless the Dolphins were in it (38.1%). The other 22.6% called hosting "somewhat important."

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April 26, 2015

Who has been Dolphins' top Hurricanes draft pick? Poll. Vote now!; plus Sofia V topless, Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Fins draft, hot Fish, NBA, Fraser, May 2, pucks, Cuba, running, Jenner & more

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

1aa1asofia1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 27. Sofia Vergara topless in the current Vanity Fair. Just because. Click on image for enlarged version. 2) Thanks to MLB Radio Network's Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth for  having me on this morning to talk Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' top low draft-picks poll, Ron Fraser statue, Fins draft, Jose Fernandez citizenship, hybrid animals & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stanton avoiding rundown: Giancarlo Stanton avoiding that tag and sliding back safely to third may have been the key play of the game Sunday in the Marlins' fifth straight win. Click here to see it again. 

On the Dolphins draft: Click on Intrigue At 14 for my latest column, previewing the Dolphins first-round draft options. This is not considered a great NFL Draft overall but could be for Miami.

WHAT HAS BEEN DOLPHINS' BEST UM HURRICANE DRAFT PICK?: First let's admit the pickings are slim. 1aa1acanedol 1aa1adolcaneDolphins have drafted 17 Miami Hurricanes over the years but few have amounted to much. We considered Jay Brophy, Bobby Harden and Randal Hill for this poll but they didn't rise to the level of the three finalists who made it: Tackle Vernon Carey and current Fins Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon. In voting, you must decide if Miller or Vernon already have surpassed Carey's career here or likely will. Whose career (completed or projected) would you take? Vote now and say why.

Latest on Canes in draft: NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah puts out his latest Top 50 prospects list today and Hurricanes are ranked 27th (OT Ereck Flowers), 34th (LB Denzel Perryman) and 47th (WR Phillip Dorsett). Based on likely draft slot he has Perryman ranked too high and Dorsett quite a bit too low. In fact Dorsett to the Dolphins at No. 14 falls into the cone of possibility.

HOT BUTTON APR. 26: 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, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins up 14th Thursday in NFL Draft's first round: Will Miami draft Breshad Perriman or another receiver even though it just signed veteran Greg Jennings? Regardless of position the Dolphins say they want draftees who love football and have heart and great passion for the game. In other words, everything that 2013 No. 1 pick Dion Jordan seems to be lacking.

2. MARLINS: Five straight wins buoy Redmond, Fish: Five straight wins, the last three over Washington to begin nine-game homestand, have saved manager Mike Redmond from the firing line for now. Still, Fish need newly minted U.S. citizen Jose Fernandez back on the mound almost as much as Jeffrey Loria needs patience.

3. NBA: Cavs, Warriors, Wizards advance in lopsided first round: Cleveland and Washington joined Golden State in advancing past first-round with sweeps, and three of five series still in play are lopsided at 3-0 or 3-1 entering Monday's action. "Check  back with me next round, maybe," said Game 7.

1aa1afraser statue4. RON FRASER: Statue of UM baseball icon unveiled: UM dropped two of three at home to FSU,  but bigger news was the Ron Fraser bronze-statue unveiling. Miami Herald considered commissioning a statue in honor of Greg Cote, reconsidered, and settled on a bobblehead.

5. MAY 2: Countdown 6 days 'til sports' mega-doubleheader: Next Saturday we have the Kentucky Derby kicking off horse racing's Triple Crown season and the Mayweather-Pacquaio fight to rival biggest events ever in boxing. I'm calling it "The Greatest Day In Sports History Not Involving A Ball."

6. NHL: Six of eight first-round playoff series decided: Six of eight opening-round series included all four in the West are over. Canada will have two teams (Calgary, Montreal) in the next round in bid to celebrate its first Canadian Stanley Cup win since 1993. "We know it won't happen," said Canada, "but we can dream, eh?"

1aa1acubanba7. NBA/CUBA: Silver admits "oops" on not informing Heat: NBA commish Adam Silver admitted he erred not advising Miami beforehand of league's plans for four-day goodwill trip to Cuba this week. His punishment should be listening to a roomful of Cuban-exile Heat fans share their thoughts on Fidel Castro.

8. BOSTON MARATHON: City and spirit win again: An Ethiopian man and a Kenyan woman won the 119th Boston Marathon, but everybody knows it now. Ever since the 2013 terrorist bombing, it is Boston's resolve and spirit that will always finish first, just ahead of whomever wins the race.

9. RUNNING: Record throng for annual Miami race: Almost 28,000 runners representing almost 900 companies flooded downtown Miami streets for the 30th Mercedes-Benz Corporate 5K Run. For the 30th straight year the race's best time was recorded by some idiot barreling past the runners in a Mercedes.

1aa1abrucej10. BRUCE JENNER: Former Olympic hero reveals he is becoming she: Former Olympic gold-medal decathlete Bruce Jenner officially revealed he is transitioning to a woman, effectively becoming America's new most prominent transgender. Hey nothing lasts forever, Chaz Bono.

Missing the cut: Dolphins regular-season schedule set; Tim Tebow signs with Eagles; Panthers' Aaron Ekblad an NHL rookie-of-year finalist; Cowboys' Greg Hardy suspended 10 games.

Poll result: Thomas, Clayton top Dolphins' all-time late-round draft finds: We gave you our choice of Miami's 12 best draft picks from the fifth round or lower and invited you to pick the top four. Your had it LB Zach Thomas with 25.4 percent, WR Mark Clayton 25.3%, S Jake Scott 16.0% and RB Jim Kiick 7.1%.

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April 24, 2015

Who've been Dolphins' greatest late-round draft finds? 12 choices, you pick top 4. Poll's close. Vote now!; plus Fins 'Stonewall Day' update (uh oh Dion Jordan), new 'Back In My Day' audio, Fraser statue unveiled, Jose = 'Citizen K'ing' & more

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

1aa1aincognito1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 25. "Hi I'm Richie Incognito of the Buffalo Bills. What was that you were saying about how 'Bullygate' would ruin me?" 2) No Random Evidence notes column in print this Sunday, but we'll have its online brother, our blog-exclusive Hot Button Top 10, here on Sunday as usual. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Why Dolphins schedule lays out favorably, Greg Jennings, Mike Redmond, Jose Fernandez, Bob Dylan concert review & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

The new 'Back In My Day': Armpits: My latest Back In My Day segment from the Dan LeBatard Show:

Back In My Day - Armpits - 4-23-15

WHO HAVE BEEN BEST OF DOLPHINS' LATE-ROUND 'FINDS'? 12 CHOICES, YOU PICK TOP 4: The NFL draft was 17 rounds for a long time before paring to seven rounds in 1994. So defining what "late rounds" 1aa1adoldraft 1aa1adolphinseven means is not easy. For the purpose of this poll I make it fifth round or later. I offer you a dozen 5-or-lower guys who worked out the best for the Dolphins, better than anyone could have expected, and invite you to vote for your top four (4) -- the Finest of the Finds. Factor the round number into your thinking if you'd like. For me there are two easy choices and a clear third, but the fourth spot should be interesting. The list is alphabetical. Vote, say why and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Deciphering four-vote results: The maximum vote for any one player would be 25 percent if everyone cast the max four votes. A percentage over 25 indicates some people have voted only for that player. Multiply a total times four for an idea of total percentage of ballots that are including that player.

THE WIZARD COMES HOME: STATUE COMPLETES FRASER'S LEGACY: Short of a College World Series game, the days don't get much bigger than Friday was for University of Miami baseball. The No. 13-ranked 1aa1afraser statueHurricanes host No. 12 Florida State to begin a three-game series between rivals both angling for the 1aa1afraszerACC crown and a CWS trip to Omaha. But the game itself isn't the half of it. UM unveiled a bronze statue of longtime former coach Ron Fraser, the program patriarch who saved UM baseball, whose imagination saw the stadium built, and who retired in 1992 as one of the most important figures in his sport -- the Wizard of College Baseball -- not just here. I only wish the statue, some four or five years in the planning, had been in place before Ron died, at age 79, in January 2013. Here is an excerpt from my column: "I have always regarded Fraser and the Dolphins’ Don Shula as two of a kind in South Florida sports history, by themselves on that top echelon of combined coaching longevity and excellence — each enriched by the company of the other. Shula and Fraser both became a part of our life’s timeline, a comforting constant. We grew up, or old, with them. They were champions of their sport, but they also championed us. Unblemished by anything but good, they did South Florida proud." Click on The Wizard Comes Home for the entire column.

THE TWO INTERESTING THINGS FROM DOLPHINS 'STONEWALL DAY' PRESS CONFERENCE: It was well-attended by the media (including 1aa1ahickey
1aa1atannebnbaumme) yesterday at Dolphins camp in Davie, even though it was, as expected, largely fruitless. It was the Dolphins' annual pre-draft press conference, at which Miami roster architects Mike Tannenbaum, Dennis Hickey and assistant GM Eric Stokes parried media questions to impart as little information as possible, secretively and painstakingly offering no real clue as to what the Fins are thinking or where they may be leaning with the 14th overall pick. (Tannenbaum and Hickey are pictured in a contest to see who can stare off into the distance most intently). However here were two things I found interesting:

1. Heart and Dion Jordan: Lots of talk about wanting heart and passion and love of football in a draftee, so the Fins execs were asked if Dion Jordan missing this week's voluntary conditioning sessions called into question his own heart. Awkward silence followed. So did an awkward glance between Tannenbaum and Hickey. "This is pre-draft," Hickey finally blurted, diverting the topic. Clearly the Dolphins are extremely disappointed in their third-year defensive end but not quite ready to go there publicly yet.

2. The Hickey/Tannenbaum relationship: Executive vice president of football operations Tannenbaum would seem to out-title general manager Hickey, but Hickey contractually has final say over the roster, and Tannenbaum confirmed that. Asked who ends the debate or breaks a tie if there is not a consensus on whom to draft, Tannenbaum answered, "Dennis does."

1aa1acitizenkane 1aa1aCITIZENJOSE
JOSE FERNANDEZ: CITIZEN K'ING:
Marlins young ace Jose Fernandez, Cuba-born and here since 2008, officially became a U.S. citizen Friday morning in a ceremony for 140 naturalized South Floridians in Kendall. My new nickname for him: Citizen K'ing (patent pending). Pronounced "kay-ing"; 'K' as in strikeout. Reads like King as in mound royalty. Plays off the 1941 Orson Welles film classic, Citizen Kane. You're welcome, Miami!

Moderation, please, on Marlins: When they were 3-11 owner Jeffrey Loria was panic-stricken and (reportedly) had to be talked out of prematurely firing manager Mike Redmond. Now they've won three in a row and it's happy-day-are-here-again? Moderation, please. Long, looong season. Even the good teams lose 60 to 70 games.

1aa1agoldpig 1aa1awoldporc"DEAR GREG...": "You blog's pretty good but would be even better if occasionally you would show photos of bizarre hybrid animals, such as either a half-wolf/half-porcupine or maybe  a half-golden retriever/half-pig. Thank you." Dear Reader: You may be certifiably insane.

 

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February 15, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10, with Marlins, Heat, NBA, Canes, Cats, NFL, cricket, Tiger, LLWS, racing; also, verdict on Loria, thanks Dr. J & more

1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15. Hope the ladies had a wonderful Valentine's Day! 2) Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Reconsidering Jeffery Loria poll, D-Wade on '50 Shades,' Ndamukong Suh verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HOT BUTTON FEB. 15: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Miami awarded All-Star Game as spring training nears: As an improved Marlins team opens spring training in five days in Jupiter, MLB held a news conference here Friday to make official that Miami would host the 2017 All-Star Game. "We couldn’t be happier,” Marlins fans said. “Well ... unless of course Jeffrey Loria changed his mind about not selling the team."

2. HEAT: Wade sits as Bosh represents Heat in Sunday’s All-Star Game: Dwayne Wade rests his injured hamstring but Chris Bosh will play in tonight's NBA showcase of stars. Miserable New York and Brooklyn, a combined 31-74, are cohosts. Am surprised teams aren’t boycotting the game at Madison Square Garden for fear their players might catch whatever the Knicks have.

3. NBA: LaVine, Curry, Bosh top Saturday's All-Star Game undercard: Miami's Bosh (along with WNBA'er Swin Cash and legend Dominique Wilkins won the Shooting Stars event, Golden State's Stephen Curry won the 3-point contest and Minnesota's 19-year-old Zach LaVine won the Dunk contest. The latter answered the question, "Who the hell is Zach LaVine?"

4. HURRICANES: It’s the nexus of basketball, baseball and football: UM men’s basketball team tries to shake off an ill-timed slump and still make the NCAA Tournament. UM opened baseball season this weekend seeking to end a six-year College World Series drought. Football prepares for spring practice with heat on Al Golden. For all three, cue Queen and David Bowie’s "Under Pressure."

5. PANTHERS: Crunch time as Cats chase rare NHL playoff spot: Florida enters today's game only four points off playoff pace, chasing what would be only the fifth postseason berth in 21 franchise seasons, after 1996, ’97, 2000 and ’12. Not much margin of error from here, though, as each loss puts the Panthers closer to a phrase particularly apt in hockey: Thin ice.

6. NFL: Scouting Combine, major pre-draft event, begins: The weeklong talent show begins Tuesday in Indianapolis. And if you can't get enough of watching fat college linemen timed in the 40-yard dash, the NFL Network will have your all-excess pass.

7. CRICKET: World Cup under way in Australia, New Zealand: Yes, we DO have cricket in this week’s Top 10 as 14 nations are in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. The sport is very popular in parts of South Florida among residents from the West Indies. For others inclined to scoff, here’s your challenge: You can make fun of cricket, but wisecracks may not include the word “Jiminy.”

8. GOLF: Tiger Woods taking indefinite "break" from PGA Tour: This is bad news for the tour and for the upcoming Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens. There go the TV ratings. Golf fans would rather watch Tiger take a break (or a nap) than watch other guys play golf.

9. YOUTH SPORTS: Chicago team stripped of Little League title: Chicago's Jackie Robinson West team was stripped of the U.S. championship it won at the Little League World Series for its coach using players not from its district. It's another reminder the only problem with youth sports is adults.

10. AUTO RACING: Daytona 500 begins the NASCAR schedule next Sunday: The swansong season for Jeff Gordon, with all its testiminials and ceremonial rocking chair gifts, is about to begin. The Gordon tributes haven’t even started yet and I’m already tired of them.

Poll result: Estimation of Loria improving, but still skews negative: We gave your four choices on how you feel about Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and results were: Very positive 25.6 percent, mildly positive 18.4%, mildly negative 25.9% and very negative 30.1. That made it negative over positive overall by 56-44%. [Note: There was a sudden surge in "very positive" votes yesterday, suggesting an organized effort by the Marlins, perhaps. Not enough, alas]. 

THANK YOU, DR. J: Julius Erving said something (click here) that I have thought but never said aloud. In 1aa1adunkmascotfact I've not heard it said or seen it written. "Dr. J" says the NBA All-Star Weekend's Slam-Dunk Contest, once an exciting, huge draw, has lost much of its appeal due to mascots. Yes, mascots. He means mascots (and non-mascot gymnasts) bouncing off mini-trampolines and acrobatically slam-dunking from above the rim as in-game entertainment (as pictured). Mere earth-bound mortals cannot duplicate that. No, not even Michael Jordan. Blake Griffin can sort of jump over the hood of a small car, but he still is not rising as high or majestically as a trampoline allows. The absence of top stars in the Slam-Dunk Contest also hurts (talking to you, LeBron), but Dr. J. is right. No more trampolines in NBA arenas!

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May 18, 2014

G1: Indiana 107, Heat 96: Pacers with a wire-to-wire win; plus what is Heat's most disliked opponent? Poll. Vote now!; also NBA Game of Thrones & more

NOTE TO READERS: You all know our blog has been largely disabled the past day-plus because of an attack on our host site, Typepad. That is why the number of comments is down. Anyway, we're back up, finally. Check back Tuesday morning for a new blogpost. We have much to say.

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 19. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat-Pacers. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Pacers preview and prediction poll, Michael Jackson sings about Indiana & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

Click on No Panic for my column from Indianapolis off the Heat's Game 1 loss.

G1: INDIANA 107, HEAT 96: PACERS WIN WIRE-TO-WIRE: Heat fans should not be real discouraged by this Game 1 loss. Miami in the big 3 era is 7-0 in the next game following a playoff loss of 11 or more points, and 4-0 in Game 2 following a series-opening loss. A win Tuesday night may be expected. The Heat can not play much worse than tonight. Miami went to the free-throw line 22 fewer times, shot 6-for-23 from 3-point range, played horrible defense and got next to nothing from Chris Bosh. Actually, Dwyane Wade (27 points), LeBron James (25) and Chris "Birdman" Andersen and Ray Allen off the bench were the only players who did anything for Miami. Expected a bounce-back in Game 2. Ajust-and-respond is what the Heat do. (Watch for my column off Game 1 posting online soon, and my Heat 3 Stars of the game here later tonight). Original post: Miami sets out today 1aa1aheatpacerstrying to be the first NBA team to win consecutive Eastern finals over the same opponent since Detroit 1aa1aheatg1(over Chicago) in 1989-90. Indiana made a point of the No. 1 seed and home court edge all season with Miami in mind. Now let's see if we get the team that had a 35-6 home record during the season or the Pacers who have gone only 3-4 in Indy in the postseason. It also will be interesting to see if Miami goes small at times, because Atlanta and Washington both had some success on 3-balls vs. Indiana inthe first two rounds. My series pick: Heat in six.

WHAT IS HEAT'S MOST DISLIKED OPPONENT?: What opponent should the Heat and Miami fans dislike most? Oh the candidates are many! Indiana must be considered not only because it is right upon us. I'd have have said that even before the Pacers' Lance Stephenson implied on Saturday he'd be trying to run Dwyane Wade into the ground in this series to exploit his knee issues. The Pacers were irritants even before that. But let us not forget how we felt just a week earlier about Paul Pierce and Brooklyn. Let's remember how much we love to boo Joakim Noah and Chicago. And, of course, Boston, New York and even Detroit are great rivals of long-standing in the love-to-hate-'em category. Heck, maybe Mark Cuban's Dallas even qualifies? Is there even a difference between "biggest rival" and "most disliked"? I'm not even sure. You decide. Don't be just in the moment. Factoring everything, history to present, what is the one Heat opponent you most dislike? Vote and say why.

Poll result: You like Heat over Pacers in six games: Overall, 84.5 percent of you picked Miami to win. The breakdown--Heat in 6 at 56.5%, in 5 at 16.6%, in 7 at 8.5% and in 4 at 2.7%. Indiana backers had it Pacers in 7 at 9.1%, in 6 at 4.8%, in 4 at 1.4% and in 5 at 0.2%.

GAME OF THRONES/NBA EDITION (WITH BOSH THE MAGIC DRAGON): I sort of think these parodies have run their course, but they still have a bit of entertainment value. In this latest one, LeBron says (ominously) to Pat Riley, "Dynasties must fall, Lord Riley." Chris Bosh plays a dragon. And Gregg Popovich plays a vampire. The usual.

 

REALLY, CANES BASEBALL?: Don't take this wrong, Miami Hurricanes baseball. Lova ya, Jim Morris. A 1aa1umregssnnice regular season is not nothing, and you all finished strong and deserve to feel good. But throwing CHAMPIONS around? Do that after you win the ACC Tournament, or better yet, after you win the College World Series. (I feel the same way when I see teams hanging CHAMPIONSHIP banners from the rafters or flagpoles based on division titles. C'mon, man!)

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February 20, 2013

War! UM vs. NCAA. Shalala vs. Emmert. Poll. Vote!; plus Heat make trade, FAU and prisons, Dolphins, Marlins, Lena Dunham, Ron Fraser & more

1aa1dunhamlena[1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21. My latest guilty pleasure is the HBO series 'Girls' and its star, Lena Dunham (pictured). The show is what we used to call a chick-flick and Lena is few guys' idea of classic-sexy, but I find both very appealing. 2) Giancarlo Stanton got beaned on the helmet by a fastball yesterday at spring training and walked away as if a marshmallow had hit him. That kid might be our biggest, strongest, most imposing pro athlete after LeBron James. 3) Thanks to ESPN for having us on Outside The Lines this week to discuss the UM/NCAA developments. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): "Hurricane Donna" Shalala blasts NCAA, Canes win again, Lil Wayne's war on Heat, Fixing NBA All-Star Weekend, Dolphins, yelling goats. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

My new column: NCAA buffoonery casts UM as sympathetic victim: Click on headline to access. Column is online and in Thursday's inky pulp editions.  

"HURRICANE DONNA" TAKES GLOVES OFF VS. NCAA, BUT WHO'S RIGHT?: U-Miami president Donna Shalala said, "We have suffered enough," after a 2-year NCAA investigation in the Nevin Shapiro case that led to significant self-imposed penalties such as a two-year football postseason ban. She calls for no 1aa1donna 1aa1donna2additional penalties and I agree, factoring in not only the self-imposed sanctions but the shady reputation of the accuser and the NCAA's own well-documented and major internal wrongdoing that tainted the investigation. These are extraordinary circumstances for which there is no template. But NCAA president Mark Emmert disagreed with Shalala and pushed forward with a Notice of Allegations that likely will result in yet-unknown additional sanctions. Who's right? I hestitated with this poll because I try not to post questions for which I think I know the answer. Then again, around 50 percent of our poll votes typically come from outside Florida; it isn't as if only Canes fans will be voting. There also is a fair argument on either side and some gray area. For example, though I agree with Shalala, I could see UM getting very minor added sanctions, perhaps. Anyway, cast your vote and say why you did.

HOT HEAT MAKE MINOR DEADLINE-DAY TRADE: Heat today traded reserve/D-League center Dexter Pittman and a 2013 second-round draft pick to Memphis for rights to center Ricky Sanchez, currently playing in Argentina. It's unlike Sanchez ever will play for Miami. Deal was done to open a roster spot for Heat to add a veteran big man, possibly Kenyon Martin. Meantime, the Heat played a home game in Atlanta last night based on what it sounded like, and Miami made it a season-best eight wins in a row, staying hot as play resumed after the break. LeBron James was held to only 24 points. The bum!

OWLCATRAZ: FAU ALIGNS WITH CONTROVERSIAL PRISON COMPANY: This might have been a feel- 1aa1geogood story: FAU selling naming rights to its Owls football stadium to GEO Group, a locally based company that privately runs prisons. It begged humor. Call the stadium Owlcatraz. Call coach-emeritus Howard Schnellenberger "The Warden." Put the cheerleaders in vertical stripes and the mascot in a county-issue orange jumpsuit. Stuff like that. The problem is GEO Group is controversial for abuses and treatment at its prisons, spawning outrage such as is reflected in the cartoon pictured. I have doubts whether this deal will stand because of the objection to it. I have doubts whether a public university should align itself with a notorious company that has the attention of human-rights and immigration-rights groups.

DOLPHINS ON FREE AGENCY, DRAFT: On free-agency: GM Jeff Ireland from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis today said re-signing DT Randy Starks was a priority, leaving the impression the franchise tag might be considered for him. He said team wants RB Reggie Bush back but at the right price. Said they want OT Jake Long back too but implied that injury concerns limit the price they'll pay. On the draft: Our fly-on-the-wall Dolphins front-office source (who will not appreciate being referred to as a fly) tells us Miami likely will not draft a receiver at No. 12 because the plan is to re-sign Brian Hartline and hard-pursue Mike Wallace in free agency. Mel Kiper and others keep pushing Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson but Dolphins consider him a project and want right-now impact. Offensive line is likelier with the top pick because the draft is very deep there and because chances of retaining Long are very iffy. Pass-rush help or a trade-down also are options being mulled.

ODDSMAKERS HAVE MARLINS SKIRTING 100-LOSS SEASON: Latest World Series odds via Bovada have Blue Jays the pick at 7-1, then Tigers 8-1, Dodgers and Nationals both 17-2 and Angels 9-1. Miami is 100-1, tied for next-to-last ahead of only the 200-1 Astros. Victory over/unders have Marlins at 63.5, a nice way of saying 98.5 losses. (Odds for upcoming World Baseball Classic have USA a 5-2 favorite, followed by Dominican Republic at 13-4 and Japan 7-2).

1aa1frasertribRON FRASER CELEBRATION OF LIFE: It'll be Saturday at the Knight Sports Complex on campus marking the great life of the former UM baseball coach who died last month at 79. The event is from 4-6 p.m. and free; doors open at 3. That night's 7 p.m. home baseball game vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee also will be in Ron's honor.

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January 21, 2013

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sing, sort of (with video); plus Jeff Ireland's big plans, Bro Bowl v. Ray Lewis SB poll, the private Ron Fraser & more

1aa1fraserronRon Fraser: Great Coach, Better Man: Longtime former Hurricanes baseball coach, who passed away Sunday at 79, was known for 30 years of winning and for a promotional sense that changed his sport. But his family would like to give you a glimpse of the husband, father and grandfather. Click on Great Coach, Better Man for my latest column, a final tribute to Fraser. Funeral arrangements, events: Visitation will be Sunday Jan. 27 from 10 to 6 at Stanfill Funeral Home, 10545 S. Dixie Hwy., Miami. Funeral Mass will be Monday Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, 5601 S. Flamingo Rd., Southwest Ranches. Private burial will be in Fraser's hometown of Nutley, NJ. Celebration of the Life is scheduled Feb. 23 on campus; details to come. That night's baseball game will be in his honor, with proceeds to a fund to build a bronze statue of Fraser outside stadium. Click HERE to donate to fund. Email UM's Rick Remmert (r.remmert@mia.edu) for more info.

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23. New blogpost coming by midday today. Oh boy! 2) Marlins Park bypassed for 2015 All-Star Game. Gee, can't imagine why baseball wouldn't want to reward a sweet guy like Jeffrey Loria! 3) Fourth Dolphin, DT Randy Starks, added to Pro Bowl, following DT Cameron Wake, G Richie Incognito and long-snapper John Denney. Only Wake originally chosen. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1karaokeHEY! IT'S KARAOKE WITH LEBRON AND D-WADE!: This happened at Shane Battier's second annual "Battioke" fundraiser at the Eden Roc Monday night. Click RIGHT HERE for a video of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on-stage performing. A very rhythmic LeBron does a faithful and surprisingly passable version of Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," then LBJ and Wade duet on a massacred rendition of Shai's "If I Ever Fall In Love," sung to a woman yanked from the crowd. Pictured: A headless LeBron in foreground, Wade with mic and woman who appears to be covering her ears but isn't -- though we wouldn't blame her. The video is 6 minutes. Seems longer. Enjoy!

DOLPHINS' IRELAND: WE WANT PLAYMAKERS, DISRUPTERS: Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland spoke with media yesterday from Senior Bowl in Alabama and made clear what the club's emphasis will be in the draft and free agency. "There's a gap between one and two in our division," he said. "We've got to find guys that are scoring touchdowns, and disrupt the passer on defense." Ireland did not rule out trading out of the No. 12 draft slot, admitted he was "polarizing" to many fans, and said of himself and coach Joe Philbin, "This is a big offseason for us. We understand that. We look forward to making some exciting new before too long."

49ERS-RAVENS SUPER BOWL: RAY LEWIS! BRO BOWL!: Every Super Bowl presents its obvious storylines that the national media will beat to death explore fully, but few SBs offer up two as distinct -- 1aa1lewisrayand legit -- 1aa1harbaughsas 49ers vs. Ravens. One is the historic "Bro Bowl" -- Har-Bowl? Super Baugh? -- between coaching brothers Jim and John Harbaugh. The other is the sure to be over-the-top emotion of a retiring Ray Lewis in the final game of his Hall of Fame career. These two stories probably are why most of you voted for Niners-Ravens as your preferred matchup from four choices in a recent poll of ours, with 47.3 percent. (That, or a simple dislike of the Patriots). But which is the bigger story? Bro Bowl? Or Lewis? That's for you to decide, right here. It's a close call nationally, I'd say. In Greater Miami I'd give the edge to Lewis because he's a former Hurricane and arguably The U's greatest alum ever to play in the NFL. But try to step back and make your pick from a national vantage. Which story interest you most? Or, put another way: Which story will America be most sick of after two weeks of incessant repetitive over-saturation? OK let's go. Vote and say why.

Super Bowl odds: Our friends at Bovada have set 49ers as 4-point favorites over Ravens but say about 60 percent of early action is falling to Baltimore, meaning the line likely will shrink a bit. MVP favorites are Colin Kaepernick 7-4, Joe Flacco 5-2, Ray Lewis 6-1 and Frank Gore 17-2.

PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION / MLK DAY: A thought-provoking juxtaposition this week as the second 1aa1mlkdayinauguration of President Barack Obama occured on the day the nation annually honored its greatest civil-rights icon. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and spoke and fought for basic equality, or at least some humane semblance of it. The election of our first black president always will stand as a symbol of America's progress toward that equality, and by extension as a victory for the cause to which King devoted his life. By the way, visit Memphis not for the barbecue or music or Graceland, but for the National Civil Rights Museum beside the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated in 1968. I toured the NCRM a few months ago was profoundly moved. It is worth the trip.

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October 17, 2012

A-Rod to Marlins talk: Exciting? Ridiculous? Poll. Vote!; plus NFL predix, LeBron is Marvel-ous, Yanks are out, our shaky Super Bowl shot & more

[1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19. Dammit! I've misplaced my binder full of women! 2) You may still vote in our who's-next-on-Dolphins-Honor-Roll poll in blogpost directly below this new one. 3) Visit our video channel at YouTube/TheGregCote and join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Dorsey leads UM Hall inductees: Hurricanes announced seven 2013 inductees to UM Sports Hall of Fame, led by 1999-'02 champion QB Ken Dorsey. Others alphabetically: Ed Contreras (baseball, 1957-59); Bryan Gillooly (diving, 1994-98); Norm Parsons (golf coach, 1972-'12); Brett Romberg (football, 1999-'02); Don Soldinger (football assistant, 1984-88 & '95-'05); and Jay Tessmer (baseball, 1994-95).

A-ROD TO MARLINS? HEY, STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED. WELL, OK, MAYBE NOT: This first floated as an unnamed-source report on MLB.com this week, and ESPNNewYork.com seemed to lend it 1aa1arodsome credence. It grew from a supposed jocular chat between club presidents Jeffrey Loria and Randy Levine in which Loria said, "Alex is Mr. Miami. It would be great if he played here for us." And the Yanks prez supposedly cracked, "You can have him." Well, now there are reports of possible "serious trade talks in the offseason," and that A-Rod supposedly would welcome ending his career here. Predictably both teams have tried to quash the rumor. We'll see. But it's out there. Two overriding starting points: 1) A-Rod, at 37, is fast seeming like a has-been. His numbers have declined sharply for two years now, not just in the current postseason that finds him 3-for-28 and sporadically benched. He is 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against righthanders, which is problematic only in that most pitchers are righthanders. 2) He has five years and $114 million left on his contract. If you're the Marlins you don't 1aa1arod1even entertain the possibility of a trade unless the talks start with NYY's willingness to eat all or most of that remaining deal and make it fiscally reasonable for Miami. The good side of this is that A-Rod plays third, a position of need, and that as a Miami guy -- Westminster Christian High, big donor to UM -- who happens to have 647 career homers, he would put fans in seats even in his career winter. The other good side is that if the Yanks are eager sellers, they'd likely accomodate the Marlins' strong desire to dump Heath Bell. So here is the question. Assuming the money stuff could be made to work, should Miami pursue getting Rodriguez? I know there are myriad variables, but the bottom line is: Would you like to see A-Rod as Marlin next year? Vote and say why.

Tigers oust Yanks, Cardinals in command: After rain last night, Tigers closed out Yankees today in a four-game SUH-WEEEP! in the ALCS. Cards up 3-1 on Giants in NLCS, with Game 5 tonight at 8 in St. Lou. Rooting interests: Tigers strong, ambivalence in the NL.

NFL PREDIX: LOCK OF WEEK: DOLPHINS WON'T LOSE!: Click on Week 7 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions. And on Early Playoff Glimpse for our Friday page column.

IT'S OFFICIAL: LEBRON IS MARVEL-OUS: 1aa1bronAfter a game in Atlanta and two in China the NBA champion Heat -- betting favorites to repeat -- made their preseason home debut last night (and won) just as Marvel Comics and ESPN The Magazine have teamed to bring you a one-time insert comic called, "LeBron James: King of the Rings." (The cover of the comic is pictured). Meanwhile new odds out from Bovada show LeBron a 9-5 favorite to win MVP honors again, followed by OKC's Kevin Durant at 15-4, then a sharp drop to LAL's Kobe Bryant at 12-1. Other betting favorites: Scoring--Durant an even 1-1; rookie--New Orleans' Anthony Davis at 19-10; rebounding--Minnesota's Kevin Love (before his injury) at 5-4; and assists--Boston's Rajon Rondo at 5-2.

Poll result: Offerdahl, Mercury favorites for next Honor Roll: In the previous blogpost we exclusively revealed the 10 names on the Dolphins' watch-list for the next Honor Roll induction and let you vote for up to three (you still may), and your frontunners were John Offerdahl (18.7 percent) and Mercury Morris (17.3%). O.J. McDuffie and Manny Fernandez tied for third at 13.1% with Sam Madison (10.9%) the only other man in double figures.

1aa1mulchDOLPHINS' BYE-WEEK FUN!: NFL teams spend their bye weeks doing good. But it isn't just a sham photo-op like Paul Ryan in an Ohio soup kitchen. They actually do do good. Like the Dolphins did this week refurbishing a local elementary school. Pictured: Coach Joe Philbin getting ready to lay a bag of mulch while tackle Jake Long appears to loom over him like a giant about to gape its maw and eat Philbin's head whole.

SOUTH FLORIDA GOES SUPER BOWLING: Finalists are in for the next two available Super Bowl host jobs (2016 and '17). It'll be Miami vs. San Francisco for the first one, and the loser vs. Houston for the second one. I don't like our chances. Unless Miami can arrange a spate of earthquakes I'd say San Fran must be seen as a big favorite for '16 because they'll be flaunting a new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara. And logic might have Houoston a fronturnner for '17 because they have a retractable-roof stadium and because we have hosted two SBs since Houston's most recent. Dolphin stadium will only have a realistic shot if Stephen Ross can squeeze $225 million from taxpayers for major renovations, and the ground for that doesn't seem real fertile.

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April 08, 2012

Marlins suspend Ozzie Guillen 5 games; enough to mollify or is damage done? (with poll); plus Sedano leaving 790, Panthers' Cup hopes & more

[1) It is Tuesday, April 10. WQAM suspends Sid Rosenberg one week following DUI arrest. Smart, right move. 2) NFL commish Roger Goodell surprises nobody by denying Saints appeal, upholding his own penalties in bounty case. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Sedano leaving 790: 790 The Ticket has just announced to its staff that morning-show fixture Jorge Sedano is leaving the station immediately to pursue TV opportuntities.

GUILLEN AND CASTRO: TEMPORARY MESS OR DAMAGE DONE?: It may or may not be a crisis to you. Trust me, it is to the Marlins. Unfiltered manager Ozzie Guillen told Time magazine's website he "loves" and 1aa1castroozzie"respects" the way Cuban oppressor Fidel Castro has remained in power so long -- and the club was so aghast it immediately released a statement calling Castro a "brutal dictator" and saying there was nothing there to respect. The club had Guillen on damage-control Saturday, offering an apology "if I hurt somebody's feelings" and clarifying that he is "against everything 100 percent the way this man treat his people for the last 60 years." You can't put smoke back in the cigar, though. The day-after mea culpa was not enough for some Marlins fans. The unrelentingly honest Guillen saying he loved and respected Castro may be a permament tattoo. The comments came just two days after Guillen said he gets drunk in his hotel room after every road game. Your manager officially qualifies as controversial when, among his week's comments, going on a local radio show and talking about participating in the bloody animal sacrifice of his Santeria religion only ranks No. 3. The poor Marlins. At a time when fans should be reveling in the new stadium and talking baseball, Guillen's embrace of Castro has dominated talk, at least among many Cuban fans. Today/Tuesday, Guillen will hold a stadium press conference to (try to) explain himself. I'll be there. I'm curious how you feel. The club is privately concerned about a demonstration outside the new ballpark before the next home game, and about lasting effects. How big a deal do you think the Guillen/Castro issue is? Vote and say why. And check back often to monitor the results. Very divergent opinions.

1aa1dwadeFace of the Heat: Dwyane Wade: In the second installment of our Face of the Franchise trilogy, Dwyane Wade dominates as your Heat choice, as expected, with 47.4 of the vote among nine poll choices. President Pat Riley edges LeBron James for runnerup, 24.9% to 21.2. Those Big 3 accounted for 93 percent of the total vote. The first part of our trilogy found manager Ozzie Guillen beating Hanley Ramirez for Face of the Marlins. Our trilogy will finish with the Face of the Dolphins. Watch for that poll soon.

BAD AND GOOD IN PANTHERS' PLAYOFFS ODDS: Panthers' odds of winning the Stanley Cup are set at 35-1, tied for last with Ottawa. But I see a silver lining that suggests to me Florida has as good a shot as anybody at a first-round upset. As a division champ the Cats have home-ice (4 of 7 games here) over New Jersey despite being the betting underdog, the teams split four season games, and the Devils, at 18-1, are tied for the longest title odds of any first-round favorite. (Our friends at Bovada also have Cats 35-1, but Devils only slightly less a longshot at 25-1).

WATSON JOINS PANTHEON OF FAMOUS BUBBAS: The jacket given The Masters champion still always reminds me of what Dad puts on every St. Patrick's Day for laughs; nevertheless, Bubba Watson stepped up onto a mighty echelon with Sunday's playoff triumph. Watson now slots second on my all-time list of Sporting Bubbas, after longtime NFL star Bubba Smith, the defensive end/bad actor. Watson should fire his agent if doesn't have an endorsement deal with the Bubba Gump restaurant chain within three months.

ON MARLINS, CANES BASEBALL: Quick thoughts. 1) Heath Bell's blown save Sunday was disappointing and a 1-3 start is a mini-downer, but Marlins fans should be encouraged by the starting pitching so far. 2) Congrats to Jim Morris for his Canes' home sweep of No. 3 North Carolina this weekend. UM will have a shot at the ACC title if it can figure a way to decipher nemesis Florida State.

1aa1eggsEASTER VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: Spoiler alert. The talking eggs survive the boiling water so it's OK to watch, kids. Click here and enjoy.

THE LIST: HOME PLAYOFF GAMES FOR OUR  BIG FOUR PRO TEAMS: The Panthers on Friday will host their first playoff game in 12 years. All-time postseason home games for our Big Four pro teams:

Games     Team     Home record     Most recent

72     Heat     49-23     June 12, 2011

22     Dolphins     15-7     Jan. 4, 2009

17     Marlins     11-6     Oct. 23, 2003

16     Panthers     8-8     April 20, 2000

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