September 24, 2016

Chris Bosh, with latest setback, should retire from Heat and NBA: my new column. Agree or not? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Week 3 picks, has-interest-in-Heat-decreased poll, why Stanley Cup odds still are against Panthers, your Tebow verdict & more


1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24. It's autumn! Are we feeling autumnal? 2) Click here for ESPN Radio podcast including my latest Back In My Day segment. It kicks in around the 41-minute mark. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tim Tebow launches baseball career with poll, Bosh says Heat docs wrote him off, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Demanding Racial Justice (the latest, on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it)Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CHRIS BOSH SHOULD RETIRE FROM HEAT, NBA: MY NEW COLUMN: Click on Time is Right For Bosh to Retire to read my latest column in full. What led me to write it: Four days before the start of Heat training camp in the Bahamas, the Miami Herald reports today that complications involving continued clotting have derailed or at least indefinitely delayed Bosh's comeback hopes. The issue is not considered life-threatening but requires medication at odds with the rigors of the NBA. Bosh's past two Miami seasons have been substantially ruined by blood clot issues, and it now seems a near-certainly a third season in a row will be majorly affected. The Heat, just after noon today, released a statement saying, "Chris has now taken his pre-season physical. The Miami Heat regret that it remains unable to clear Chris to return to basketball activities, and there is no timetable for his return." Ominous. Update: Bosh, saying "little setbacks happen," says he will continue working toward an NBA comeback in Miami.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY WEEK 3: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We continued the strong start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 12-4 overall and 10-6 against the spread last week. Click on Week 3 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Browns, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other matchup. Got off to another good start last night (see Thursday Gem) by accurately calling the Patriots' win over Houston -- one that found New England a rare home underdog, albeit by only 1 point. We also have an accompanying NFL column that leads with an analysis of the impact of state-school college players in the NFL, including a position breakdown of every current Miami Hurricane suiting up on Sundays. Click on We Got Some Canes Over Here to read the column plus NFL notes.

HeatPOST-WADE, WHAT IS YOUR INTEREST IN THE HEAT COMPARED TO BEFORE?: Incredibly, for the first time since 2002, the Miami Heat are about to open a preseason training camp without Dwyane Wade on the roster, after seeing him sign with the Chicago Bulls in free agency. The five-day camp runs this coming Tuesday through Saturday in Nassau, Bahamas. First LeBron James departs, now Wade. And with Chris Bosh still in limbo because of his medical situation, the Heat has gone from the BIg 3 to the BIg 2 to the BIg 1 ... maybe. And the team that reached four straight recent NBA Finals and won two of them is now judged as an also-ran that could struggle just to make the playoffs. I'm curious how that has impacted fans' interest in the coming season, post-Wade. Take a dip in our poll and let us know, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

STANLEY CUP? WHY ODDS STILL ARE AGAINST BIG-DREAMING PANTHERS: The Florida Panthers hit the ice to begin training camp today/Friday in Sunrise (Cats' first exhibition game is Tuesday and the season opens Oct. 13), and this may be the first season in franchise history in which winning the Stanley Cup is on minds and tips of tongues in a very Panthersnewlogoreal way. After winning its division last season, despite an unexpected first-round playoff ouster, this team believes it is really good. Florida finished with 103 standings points last year (tied for fifth in the NHL) and had a productive offseason of extending contracts on its youthful core of players. The future looks bright. But how bright will the present be? Odds remain against the Cats getting to the Stanley Cup Finals this season, and here's the reason: the best teams in the league will be roadblocks to get out of the Eastern Conference. Via Bovada, Florida's betting over/under on regular season points is 98.5, tied for eighth best. That's pretty good. Playoff good. But: the top three teams overall all are East rivals in Washington (107.5), Tampa Bay (106.5) and Pittsburgh (103.5). Before the puck ever drops on a meaningful game, the Panthers are trailing in the public perception that sets and moves betting lines. This is what happens when a non-traditional power thinks it's really good and ready to make a big move. The proving must come before the believing does. (That new logo is growing on me, by the way).

Poll result: He's polarizing, but a majority like Tebow: We asked, as he embarks on an attempted baseball career, what is your overall impression or feeling about Tim Tebow. And it was 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 10, 2016

Upset Bird Day in America! Our NFL Week 1 picks; plus Super Bowl poll. Vote now; also, FIU falls, study slams subsidies for sports facilities including Marlins Park, your verdict on biggest Heat acquisition & more


Wingicecream1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Pictured right, what stars in a Greg Cote sweet dream? Yes. Yes it is. It's Chicken Wing-flavored ice cream! 2) Marlins worth watching tonight: Jose Fernandez vs. Clayton Kershaw. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's biggest personnel move with poll, computer's gloomy prediction for Dolphins, debut of SOPY rankings, Arian Foster named starter, Canes crack Top 25, miserable Marlins & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FIU falls hard: The now 0-2 FIU Panthers hosted and lost to Maryland 41-14 last night. The Int'l was only one of seven state FBS teams to open with loss last week, and followed that by allowing 477 yards oif offense to Terps in a blowout loss.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our most recent, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

Heaviest-bet NFL team over/unders: Via Bovada: The heaviest-bet "overs" on win totals are Cardinals (84 percent on 9.5 wins), Patriots (79% on 10.5) and Panthers (72% on 10.5). Heaviest-bet "unders" are Eagles (82% on 7 wins), Colts (78% on 9.5) and Rams (74% on 7.5).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN MIAMI. WAIT. NO. IN AMERICA!:It has arrived -- our historic 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, today in the print edition and also online. A South Florida tradition that began in 1991 continues as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our 2016 Kickoff Weekend picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Seahawks, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week, Dog of the Week and every other matchup. Click on Week 1 Gems for all our picks and on Thursday Night Gem for tonight's pick. (We rolled to a big start last night, nailing Denver's upset of Carolina). We also have an accompanying NFL column with our division-by-division forecasts and projected won-lost records along with our Super Bowl pick. Click on Fearful Forecast to read.  We'll also be updating you every Tuesday here in the blog on how we fared the previous weekend with our picks, and with our Greg's Lobos fantasy teams.

Nfl Sb51KING SPORT AWAKENS! IT'S FOOTBALL DAY IN AMERICA!: The college game had a one-week head start. Now let the pros take over, kids. The NFL regular-season begins tonight -- click on Thursday Night Gem for our pick on the Panthers-Broncos game -- and so starts a continuous six-month blitzkrieg of America's immersion in fantasy football and gambling as 32 teams set out to reach and win a Super Bowl. Las Vegas betting odds and the public's reaction to those estimates suggest there are a consensus of six teams pretty clearly above the rest in terms of being likeliest to win it all. We're curious about your thoughts so we have listed all six current betting favorites in our new poll, and we added a seventh team, Denver, in the sentimental belief every reigning champion deserves at least that small nod of respect. No matter the team you cheer for, vote with head, not heart, as if you were given $100 to lay on one team only, straight up, to be this season's champ. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

NEW ECONOMIC STUDY SLAMS FEDERAL SUBSIDIES FOR SPORTS FACILITIES, INCLUDING MARLINS PARK: A new economic study by the respected Brookings BrookingsInstitute think tank says federal taxpayers have subsidized newly constructed or majorly renovated professional sports facilities at a cost of $3.2 billion since 2000, via tax-exempt federal municipal bonds. Because high-income bond holders receive that additional tax break for holding the bonds, the resulting loss in total revenue to the federal government is even larger at $3.7 billion. The Miami Marlins' new stadium is included in the study, and is shown to have received a $100 million tax subsidy at a lost-government-revenue pricetag of $132 million. The study looked at 48 stadiums and arenas in America's Big 4 sports. The Marlins received the 12th most in federal subsidy and caused the 10th most in lost revenue. Click on Brookings Study for the full story.

Poll result: Not LeBron, not Shaq, not Wade -- Riley is Heat's biggest acquisition: We asked what has been the Miami Heat's biggest personnel move or acquisition, and hiring executive Pat Riley was a runnaway winner with 50.3 percent. After that it was 24.7% for drafting Dwyane Wade, 16.9% for signing LeBron James/BIg Three, 6.7% for trading for Shaquille O'Neal, and 1.3% for trading for Alonzo Mourning.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2016

Who was Heat's biggest acquisition? Poll. Vote now!; plus gloomiest forecast yet (by far) for Dolphins season; also, new Back In My Day, Fins individual stat projections, SOPY Week 1 rankings, UM cracks Top 25, Arian Nation, miserable Marlins & more


2 Fripix1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Click here for latest ESPN Radio "Best Of" podcast of yesterday's LeBatard Show. My new Back In My Day segment kicks in late in the pod, around the 1 hour 11 minute mark. 2) Countdown: 2 days 'til the Upset Bird! Our NFL Friday Page predictions return Sept. 9. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes crush FAMU in opener with season-debut CSM poll, Collball Week 1, Hot Button Top 10, The List & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Canes (barely) crack Top 25: A 70-3 Miami win over Florida A&M combined with three other teams dropping out of the Top 25 was enough for the Hurricanes to inch up one spot to No. 25 in the latest Associated Press poll.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our most recent, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

DOOM! GLOOM! COMPUTER PROJECTS DOLPHINS FOR 5.9 WINS: computers played the upcoming NFL season 50,000 times, forecasting a Seattle over Pittsburgh Super Bowl, and projecting a mere 5.9 victories for Miami -- while computing that Miami has better than a 50 percent win probablty in only three games. Ouch. This is the gloomiest forecast yet for this Dolphins season. Miami's game by game projected results, based on the computer model:

        Opponent                Projected Dolphins result     Win probability

G1    @ Seahawks             L 28.7-17.4                        21.4%

G2    @ Patriots                L 25.8-19.5                        33.9

G3    Vs. Browns               W 25.3-23.4                       54.4

G4    @ Bengals                L 28.8-19.2                        26.1

G5    Vs. Titans                W 25.2-24.9                       50.7

G6    Vs. Steelers             L 29.7-22.6                        33.1

G7    Vs. Bills                   L 26.1-22.3                        40.8

G8    Vs. Jets                   L 23.3-20.1                        41.9

G9    @ Chargers              L 30.0-22.4                        31.8

G10   @ Rams                  L 25.9-19.7                        33.9

G11   Vs. 49ers                W 26.6-23.6                       57.1

G12   @ Ravens                L 27.2-20.2                        32.7

G13   Vs. Cardinals          L 22.5-20.2                        44.2

G14   @ Jets                    L 25.9-18.6                        31.3

G15   @ Bills                   L 28.3-20.6                         30.9

G16   Vs. Patriots            L 29.5-20.1                         27.5

Totals: Dolphins 21.2 points per game; Opponents 26.5

HeatWHAT HAS BEEN HEAT'S MOST IMPORTANT PERSONNEL MOVE?: Hey, Pat Riley himself brought this up, not me! Recently he volunteered the question and discussion, saying, "I say this and I mean this. Shaq's acquisition was bigger than any acquisition we ever made, including the Big Three. Getting Shaquille changed everything for our franchise." Was he throwing a bouquet at Shaquille O'Neal because Miami is about to retire his jersey number? Was he taking a not-so-subtle shot at LeBron James for the way he left? Or, did Riley have a legitimate point? From the petri dish of questions arises this poll. I offer five main options -- listed chronologically -- and I think you could make a valid argument why at least four of them might be the right answer. So take a dip in our poll. Vote for your No. 1 choice and check back often to monitor evolving results.

THEY'RE BAA-AAACK! SOPY RANKINGS, THE 'STATE HEISMAN,' RETURN  WITH KID NOLE ON TOP: Today begins the fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Sopy DfrancoisYear -- our weekly cumulative rankings that measure the most productive quarterbacks, 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. We close it off after the regular season so as not to penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Well, Kid Nole, FSU freshman QB Deondre Francois (pictured), is out the gate best with 280.5 points in last night's wild comeback pointfest. The Canes, who put up 70 points but spread the wealthy individually, put only Joe Yearby in the initial Top 10, ninth with 130 points. Here is our first SOPY Top 10 of 2016, followed by a list of annual champions and our first Cote's State of the State team rankings:


Rank   Player, Team-pos.                            Week/Year

1        Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                  280.5

2        Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                        202.5

3        Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          192

4        Justin Holman, UCF-qb                     178.5

5        Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                159

6        Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   151

7        Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    140

8        Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      131.5

9        Joe Yearby, Miami-rb                        130

10      Jesus Wilson, FSU-rec                       125 

Bubble: Mark Walton, Miami-rb, 122. Week 1, season best: Francois, FSU-qb, 280.5.

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2015--Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,077.5 points; 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

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

AfosterFOSTER IS DOLPHINS' STARTING RB, BUT WHAT'S IT REALLY MEAN?: Dolphins lifted Arian Foster to No. 1 running back (no real surprise) on their depth chart Monday, but that answer remains surrounded by questions. Can he stay healthy? Will he return to his prime-year productivity? Will he get a heavy load or be the front-man in a split-duty situation with Jay Ajayi and others? Fantasy drafters who gambled on Foster should be happy. Still not sure he's a fantasy starter, though. I'd want proof against a suspicion he'll be an eight-carry, three-catch kind of guy. Foster starting gives Miami a bit of star power on the field. But let's see how it plays out.  

Dolphins' individual statistical projections: Miami betting over/unders straight outta Bovada: Ryan Tannehill--4,100 pass yards, 23.5 TDs, 12 INTs; Most rushing yards--Arian Foster 2-3 odds, Jay Ajayi 6-5; Jarvis Landry--1,000 catch yards, 5 TDs; Cam Wake--10.5 sacks; Ndamukong Suh--6 sacks.

STANTON, BOUR RETURN BUT MARLINS' MISERABLE SKID CONTINUES...: Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour both were reactivated by the Marlins yesterday, to little avail. Gawd. This is so Marlins. They're in the wild-card playoff hunt and they're in it and they're in it and then ...  this. A 10-18 August record left Miami scrambling to hang in the chase, and Tuesday's home loss meant the rotting Fish now have lost 10 of their past 11 games -- a terrible skid at exactly the wrong time. They now are on the far periphery of the playoff hunt at 6 games off pace. For any chance at all, with 23 games left, they'd need a fast and dramatic pivot. They'd need to be as good the rest of September as they've been bad lately, because a once-promising season is circling the drain. It would go down as a fairly epic collapse for Don Mattingly's guys, and only the Marlins themselves can rewrite that gloomy narrative.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 06, 2016

Super Bowl With a Smirk V: Parties rage, Goodell dabs, Lombardi sings, (Florida) Panthers vs. Broncos; plus Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum, our SB 50 pick, Smirk IV, your verdict on Canes recruiting & more


1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6. In The Previous Blogpost: National Signing Day with how-Canes-did poll, Super Bowl With a Smirks II and III, updated NBA/NHL title odds & more. 1Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

The Super Bowl's hidden key matchup: Click on Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum for today's latest column by me. I write how the game could come down to whether Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula or Denver defensive chief Wade Phillips gets the better of the other. A generation ago their fathers, Don Shula and Bum Phillips, also famously dueled.

Canton calling: Pro Football Hall of Fame will reveal its 2016 inductees during the NFL Honors show tonight. Ex-Hurricanes running back Edgerrin James is the only former Cane or Dolphin on the balot but is expected to fall short. Beyond certain first-ballot inductee Brett Favre, others with the best shot to make it are Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene and Tony Dungy.

"So great seeing retired Herald legend (and one of my mentors) Edwin Pope back in the paper yesterday with a Miami Super Bowl memories column. Had to be an unexpected treat for lots of surprised readers, like happening upon a family heirloom you thought you'd lost." --Greg Cotexx

SUPER BOWL 50 PREDICTION: UPSET! DEFENSE RULES, BRONCOS WIN: Carolina is 17-1 and favored by 5 1/2 points, which is a lot. Denver has a fading, hobbly quarterback about to turn 40. Get all of that. But still like Broncos in an upset because I don't think Peyton Manning will need to play hero Sunday night in Santa Clara, Calif. I think his defense will do that for him. Fripix"AAAWWWK!" crows the Upset Bird, even though he's only supposed to appear during the regular season. "Peyton Maaawwwk! Omahaawwk!" A friend of mine who has his bookie on speed-dial loves the phrase, "The masses are asses." He says that to explain his pet betting philosophy-hunch: That when everybody else is zigging to one team, that’s when you zag to the other. Let the lemmings herd toward the cliff; I’ll head the other way. This crossed my mind as I decided to pull the trigger on an upset in the Golden SB — Denver not only covering the point spread but beating Carolina outright. That did not influence my decision, though, as much as this: I am sold on this Broncos’ defense, and I believe in it enough to think it will get the better of Cam Newton and a pretty awesome Panthers’ offense. This is a Denver D that limited Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to 16 points in the first playoff game, and only three field goals after the first quarter. This is a Denver D that utterly frustrated Tom Brady and New England in the AFC title game, budgeting Brady to a 56.4 passer rating and under 50 percent completions and intercepting him twice. I know that Carolina’s ground attack out of the shotgun, including Newton’s run-threat, presents a challenge Brady and the Patriots did not. But I still see Denver up to that challenge. The irony of Manning in what could be his final career game is that most of the winning will be done with him on the sideline if his defense takes charge as I believe it will. My pick: Broncos, 23-20.

ESPN experts overwhelmingly like Panthers: ESPN polled 70 of its NFL experts on who'll win the Super Bowl and it was 53-17 for Carolina, or 75.7 percent. Notables for underdog Denver (meaning people I'd heard of): Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Suzy Kolber, Todd McShay, Adam Schefter, Mark Schlereth and Trey Wingo.

SMIRK V: EXCESS REACHES CRESCENDO WITH REGAME PARTIES: Here is the last of five Super Bowl With a Smirk columns for 2016: You know the Super Bowl is getting really close when the biggest parties are happening. Hey, is that Snoop Dogg? Look, it’s a Kardashian! A Super Bowl city on the eve of the Big Game is when you might hear someone shout, “Ludacris!” and not be Smirk Playboypartysure if they spotted the rapper or were commenting on the absurdity of it all. Playboy’s 16th annual Super Bowl party happened Friday night under a 35,000-square-foot tent erected in the parking lot of the Giants baseball stadium. At the party they handed out the first issue of the new-era Playboy that includes no explicit nudity. I believe that’s when the party immediately ended. Rolling Stone, GQ, ESPN, Maxim and Vanity Fair were among other major party hosts. The ESPN soiree was highlighted by an appearance from New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and, we imagine, a lurching, leering Chris Berman inadvertently sweating into women’s cocktails. Smirk culled through his many A-list party invites and ended up at the annual bash hosted by the recently paroled half-brother of former Monkee Peter Tork. Two NFL-related parties happen Saturday night. The fourth annual NFL Honors will include the announcement of major award winners including MVP and the naming of the newest Hall of Fame class, following voter deliberation in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room. Elsewhere will be the 25th annual Taste of the NFL, a fundraiser featuring a dish by a chef from every league city. Carolina will be represented by Springer Mountain Confit Chicken Wings Kentuckyaki, and Denver by Oak-Grilled Lamb Neck. Miami, last in a Super Bowl 31 years ago, will be represented by Rum Pork Belly with a Glaze of Dolfans’ Tears.

Goodelldabs▪ NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has killed the Dab. Cam Newton made the dance move Dabbing popular. But Goodell, un-hippest man in America, was coerced to do it by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, and so now the Dab is dead.

▪ Goodell announced the Raiders and Texans next season would play the first NFL regular-season game in Mexico since 2005, unless Donald Trump has sealed off the entire country with his giant wall by then.

▪ ESPN’s endless pregame show Sunday includes a segment called Riding With Vince, a Carpool Karaoke ripoff in which Cris Carter, Mike Ditka and a Vince Lombardi impersonator are lip-synching to songs. Oh how I wish I were making that up.

▪ A new University of Texas-Dallas study of NFL arrests between 2000 and 2014 found 573 players had been arrested 774 times, but only 209 of those arrests (or 27 percent) were for violent crimes. AWRIIIGHT!

▪ The NFL has issued a warning regarding counterfeit Super Bowl tickets. Folks, if you bought a Super Bowl ticket that seems exceptionally small, is stamped “Regal Cinema” and mentions the 4:40 showing of Dirty Grandpa, you might have been ripped off.

Wrongcats▪ Montreal’s Le Telejournal, a French-language news show, mistakenly used a Florida Panthers logo to preview Super Bowl 50. Wonder if they said the quarterback was Jaromir Jagr?

▪ Further indications we are out of stuff to write about and the game needs to start: ESPN reports that Robin Leach, ancient host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, picks Carolina 27-21. Also, the Amazing Kreskin offered his Super Bowl prediction on Friday, surprising analysts who thought the Amazing Kreskin had died years ago.

▪ Finally, Smirk signs off for the week after having seen way too many previews of Super Bowl commercials. Again last night I had that recurring nightmare in which Betty White is nursing the E-Trade Baby while running terrified from a herd of singing sheep.

SMIRK IV: THE 2-WEEK PREGAME SHOW, NFL'S APOLOGY TO WOMEN, NO-DRONE-ZONE, STOCK MARKET PREDICTOR: Here is the fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes
columns: We must fine-tune what we mean when we say "Super Bowl excess." It does not mean our avid interest in the game itself, or the fact some 43 million Americans will host Super Bowl parties, or the magnified attention given the halftime show or the hyped-up TV ads. No, it is Your Friend the Media that is the engine of the excess. We are to Pregameshowblame. We are the ones giving you what amounts to a nonstop two-week pregame show, like it or not, want it or not. Smirk says television is the main culprit, especially host network CBS, the ubiquitous ESPN and, of course, NFL Network. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton gave voice to the ludicrousness of it on Wednesday morning as he met with hundreds of media after doing the same thing Tuesday night. "How can I reword answers to questions I’ve been asked so many times?" he said. "Nothing much has changed since I’ve seen you guys 24 hours ago [except that] I had an unbelievable sleep. I sound like a broken record.' NFL Network is airing 88 live hours of on-location coverage this week featuring 36 on-air personalities. Sunday it will air 10 hours of pre- and post-game coverage. CBS and ESPN similarly are inundating you. CBS Sports has more than 550 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, will have a four-hour pregame show and will use 70 cameras during the game. Highlight of CBS’s pregame show is expected to be a 2 p.m. interview with Barack Obama. The president is expected to say he is looking forward to a good game, after which Republicans demanding equal time are expected to argue they are not looking forward to a good game and why America should not be, either. You know why America will be so excited to see Sunday’s game kick off? It isn’t because Panthers vs. Broncos will finally be starting. It’s because the two weeks of mind-numbing buildup will finally be ending.
Bombast▪ Coldplay and Beyoncé will have a lot to live up to Sunday. Super Bowl halftime shows are even more highly anticipated than the game itself, according to the latest annual survey by the National Association of Super Bowl Halftime Producers.

▪ The NFL held its first Super Bowl Women’s Summit on Thursday. Feels to Smirk like either pandering or an apology. Cannot confirm the event was subtitled, "Just to Remind You We Don’t Condone So Many of Our Players Being Arrested for Domestic Violence."

▪ The NFL Foundation’s Super Bowl alumni bowling tournament takes place Friday. It’s the best place to watch former players hobble and grimace as they gripe loudly about lack of medical benefits.

Drones▪ Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: “The FAA has banned drones from flying within 32 miles of the stadium Sunday.”

▪ The so-called Stock Market Predictor — Super Bowl win by NFC means market up for the year, AFC win means market down — has been accurate with 40 of the 49 SBs, including seven in a row. Throes of a dilemma: Broncos fan who invests heavily in stock market.

▪ Super Fact: The Broncos are 5-0 in games in which Sunday’s referee, Clete Blakeman, has worked. "I don’t care about that. I'm just glad to see another guy named ‘Clete’ out there," said deceased baseball player Clete Boyer.

Wherewatch▪ Finally, I saw a consumer-oriented story with the headline, "Where to watch the Super Bowl." The target demographic: Football fans who own no television, have never heard of a sports bar and have no friends.

Previously: Click on Smirk I, Smirk II and Smirk III for this week's earlier Smirks. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

Poll result: Richt, Canes get strong rating for 2016 recruiting class: We asked you how you thought Miami did on National Signing Day, and it was 58.5 percent "good," 26.2% "very good," 11.4% "average" and only 3.9% "below average." That's an overall stamp of approval for new coach Mark Richt, with 84.7% saying good or better vs. 15.3% saying average or worse.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2016

What Dolphins' new OC hire signifies; plus invisible haters inspire Whiteside and Heat, who's best QB left in NFL playoffs? (Poll; vote now!); also, our Divisional-Round picks, the booming business of death & more


1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 16. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kiper's first-round Dolphins pick, what Powerball win would buy in sports, Dolphins and Marlins' big moves, Canes CFP title odds, Marlins caskets & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

ClydeTWO THOUGHTS ON WHAT DOLPHINS' NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR HIRE SIGNIFIES: The Dolphins today hired Clyde Christensen (pictured) as offensive coordinator. He'd been the Indianapolis Colts' quarterbacks coach. Two thoughts: 1) This is not a power position in Miami, at least not initially. New head coach Adam Gase already has said he will call offensive plays, which usually is an OC's primary task, so Christensen arrives with influence limited from the outset. 2) The fact Christensen is a QB specialist who helped develop Andrew Luck is significant. Coupled with Gase's background as sort of a quarterbacks guru, it underlines the clear objective of the Miami's coaching staff makeover: To raise Ryan Tannehill's game to the optimum level. That's it. It's obvious. It is 2016-or-bust for the Tannehill/Dolphins marriage. 

"THEY," THE UNIDENTIFIED AND PERHAPS INVISIBLE HATERS, INSPIRE WHITESIDE, HEAT: So Miami rallies furiously from 18 down and wins in Denver last night, 98-95, behind Hassan HassanwhitesideWhiteside's 19-point, 17-rebound, 11-block triple double and Chris Bosh's 24 points. It was a big win, needed and timely. The team had lost three straight and four of five, and leaders Bosh and Dwyane Wade spoke out. Wade mentioned the team's "inner dilemmas." Bosh called the team's mentality "really, really bad." What I loved, though, was Whiteside (pictured) on Twitter after the game: "THEY don't want to see a triple double in blocks and win for the HEAT," he wrote, the underline mine but the all-caps his. Omnipresent DJ Khaled, the Miami record producer and social-media hound, re-Tweeted and added, "Of course they don't, so what we going to do is win more!!" My question: Who are they, exactly? Is Charles Barkley going all anti-Heat mouthy again? There was indeed a they during the four LeBron years. Much of America heaped jealousy or hate upon the Heat. Many in the national media also were throwing shade. Those teams adopted an us-against-them mentality that was real, and justified. But now? Are they still around? Is anybody really hating on a mid-pack Heat team that's pretty good but not even assured of making the playoffs? I think young Hassan is simply reaching for the easy self-motivation. And that's fine. Funny, though. Whatever works, I guess.

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Thirty-two teams funneled to 12 in the playoffs. Now that number is whittled to eight -- soon to be four, after today's and Sunday's doubleheaders. Welcome to Divisional-Round FripixWeekend, where last week's four survivors visit the four highest-seeded teams that had byes last week. Click on Divisional-Round Gems for our four second-round playoff picks; we have three home favorites advancing with one upset -- Seahawks winning in Carolina ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on All the Reminder You Need for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with my noting seven of the eight remaining teams are quarterbacked by Canton-bound legends or current elite stars -- a reminder how the QB position is linked more directly than ever to winning. That QB-driven final eight also helps explain why the Dolphins chose quarterback guru Adam Gase as their new head coach. In the alphabetical poll below, we invite you to vote for which of the final eight QBs you'd most want starting for your team this weekend.

DeathTHE LATEST REMINDER HOW DEATH IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS: The next Billboard charts will reflect that several old David Bowie albums have re-entered because sales spike upon a singer's death. It's quantifiable. Happens every time. For now, this indication: On Monday, the day we found out Bowie had died, at 69, of cancer, his videos were watched more than 51 million times, more than any other artist has ever received on Vevo in one day. The previous, short-lived record was 36 million views for Adele the day her hit song Hello was released in October.

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January 07, 2016

Who should be Dolphins' next coach? Twelve choices, you pick one. Last chance to vote; poll ends noon today!; plus my Piazza/Hall column, Panthers' streak in historical perspective, Heat vs. Cats title odds & more


1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 7. Yes, you can still say Happy New Year! Barely. You get one full week. 2) See previous blogpost for final season results in Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Patriots with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Top Miami sports story of 2015 verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Piazza, other Hall voting show steroids stigma is softening: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza got into the baseball Hall of Fame tonight. Griffey was fully expected. But Piazza's election -- along with increased voting for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens -- strongly suggest the stigma against steroids-era guys is softening. Rumors alone kept Piazza out the previous three years. Now suddenly he's in. Click on Baseball's Cold War Is Slowly Ending to read my new column, online now and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.

Vote now! We declare a winner at noon today!

TannenbaumYOU PICK THE DOLPHINS' NEXT HEAD COACH: Update: Voting booth closes at noon today! Man, this poll has gotten a huuuge response and it's still too close to call. Very interesting results so far. Be a part of it. And quickly, please. Original post: I've had my say, online and in today's Miami Herald. Click on No Training Wheels This Time for my latest column, suggesting the Dolphins try something different and hire a head coach who has done the job before in the NFL. Seven hires in a row (including interims) have not. Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt were the last two hires who had been NFL head coaches before; they also are the last two to be on the sideline when Miami won a playoff game. In this poll I list a dozen coaches alphabetically. Eleven have been reportedly linked to the job as candidates. I added Tom Coughlin, just for fun. Conspicuously absent from the list are Sean Payton and Chip Kelly, with no indications of Dolphins interest. Me? I'd give up a second-round draft pick for Payton in a millisecond. But it's Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) fronting the Dolphins search, not me. Ready to give Tannenbaum your input? Vote for the man you think would be the best next coach for Miami or the hire that would excite you the most. You can only vote for one. (Nobody said life was fair...) Vote now and say why you chose as you did.

FripixNFL PIX WEEK 17 RESULTS: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Well, fantasy is done. But our prognosticating isn't. Pix: Ending the regular season badly: We stumbled in at 8-8 overall. Wed also were disappointed to wrap it up 8-7-1 against the spread. Should have been better, considering we nailed our Upset of the Week with Bills over Jets ("Aawwk!") and had a big five 'dogs-with-points in the Dolphins, Saints, Redskins, Raiders and Seahawks. On to the playoffs!

PANTHERS' WINNING STREAK IN CONTEXT OF BEST WE'VE SEEN: The longest winning streak by South Florida's four major pro sports franchises:

Heat: 27 games. Feb. 3 through March 27, 2013. Third-longest in NBA history.

Dolphins: 18 games. Sept. 17, 1972 through Sept. 16, 1973. Tied third-longest in NFL history.

Panthers: 10 games. Dec. 15, 2015 through now; current. Cats' previous long streak was seven games, done three times, most recently 2008. Florida has won eight of its 10 games outright and two by shootout, and outscored opponents 35-12 during streak. NHL record is 17-game winning streak by 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. Panthers' next game: Thursday at Ottawa.

Marlins: 9 games. Done four times, most recently Sept 9-19, 2008. Marlins' long win streak is shortest of any MLB franchise.

Odds say Cats likelier to win championship than Heat: New championship betting odds out from Bovada show the Florida Panthers (14-1, tie 6th) have better NHL title odds than do the Heat (40-1, tie 8th) in the NBA. Golden State is a clear basketball favorite to repeat, at 5-4. Washington Capitals top a crowded hockey field, at 6-1. 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

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January 02, 2016

Our Top 10 Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2015, your choice for the biggest. Poll. Vote now!; plus biggest-national-story verdict, Dolphins/NFL Week 17 picks, sports predictions for 2016 & more


20161) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 2. Happy New Year! We're Sweet '16! Let's all make it a great one, OK? 2) Panthers have won seven straight hockey games entering the weekend. ICYMI, click on Surging Cats for my recent column. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Clemson swamps Oklahoma in CFP semifinal Orange Bowl, national sports story-of-the-year poll, Landry and Jones share Dolphins MVP award & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Orange Bowl column: Click on Clemson Turns Disrespect Into Orange Storm for my column from the stadium off Thursday's 37-17 Tigers win over Oklahoma in the CFP semifinal Orange Bowl.

Miami2015WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2015?: We do this every year. We asked you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (results below). Now we invite you to select the 2015 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from an alphabetically presented top 10 of my choosing. (Did I omit one that needed to be here?). You may vote for your top three (3). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Remember, you can choose your top three. Ready? Vote!

Vote for your top three (3):

Poll result: Horsepower! American Pharoah is your national sports story of the year: We invited you to name the 2015 national sports story of the year from among The Associated Press' top 10 list, and your top five were American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown with 28.6 percent, Deflategate shadowing the Patriots Super Bowl win at 17.1%, U.S. winning the Women's World Cup with 14.7%, FIFA corruption scandal at 9.8%, and Golden State winning NBA with 8.7%

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 17 PICKS: Regular season ends with 16 division games, all Sunday, and only two playoff spots still open. Click on Week 17 Gems for all of our latest picks Fripixand full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins end miserable season with home loss to Patriots, Packers beat Vikings in winner-take-all game for division title, and Rex Ryan's Bills deny Jets in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on Name That Dolphins Coach for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with some thoughts on Miami's head-coach opening. The Fins' next coach should be an experienced, proven winner, not a gamble on a promoted assistant with training wheels. Sean Payton and Chip Kelly are a logical starting point in the search, but there are complications. One is the compensation that would be due the Saints to get Payton. Another is the roadblock of a strong personnel chief here in Mike Tannenbaum. And another is whether Ryan Tannehill and this roster will prove enticing to top coaches with other options.

CubsPREDICTING 2016 IN SPORTS...: throws out a bunch of predictions for sports in 2016 (click here) and they include, chronologically: Arizona beats Denver in next month's Super Bowl; Michigan State beats North Carolina in men's March Madness finale; Florida Panthers make the NHL playoffs; Peyton Manning retires in May; Heat reach Eastern Conference finals but lose to Cavaliers; Golden State beats Cleveland again for NBA title; L.A. King beat Washington Capitals for NHL crown; Cooperstown inductees are Ken Griffey Jr., Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Tim Raines; Marlins' Ichiro gets 3,000 hit on Aug. 29; Serena Williams wins tennis' Grand Slam; Marlins miss playoffs (again); and Cubs beat Astros for first World Series title in 107 years.

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December 19, 2015

Here's your 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Who gets in and who doesn't? Vote now!; plus Dolphins/NFL Week 15 picks, verdict on Rose & more


1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pete Rose/Hall of Fame poll, Heat/'Melo trade verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"President Obama congratulated Abby Wambach for her great career. Republicans, demanding equal time, argued it wasn't that great." --Greg Cote

CooperstownHERE IS YOUR BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT: As a veteran member of the Baseball Writers Association of America I am honored to have a Hall of Fame vote. My ballot is due back before Christmas. There are 32 names on it and I may vote for as many as 10. Of those 32 players, 17 are back for another try at the minimum 75 percent support required, and 15 are first-timers. But, realistically, only about one-third of eligible players get serious consideration and significant support. I have reflected that in your winnowed ballot below. It includes the 10 returning players who received at least 20 percent support a year ago, and the only two first-time candidates who I think could make it -- Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman. (Sorry, but long-time Marlins Luis Castillo and Mike Lowell are among those I excluded; they are consigned to the Hall of Very Good). Anyway, consider the 12 finalists listed alphabetically below and vote for as many as you think belong in Cooperstown -- but only for those you think do.

Vote only for the players you think belong in Cooperstown:

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 15 PICKS: Good start to our week Thursday night as we had the Rams winning and covering and they did both. Click on Week 15 Gems for all of our remaining latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins lose out west as Chargers get emotional boost from what could be the franchise's final home game in San Diego. Colts edge Texans in our low-records but high-stakes Game of the Week. The '72 Dolphins celebrate as the unbeaten Panther fall at the New York Giants in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). And the Steelers roll past Denver in our Game of the Week first-alternate. Also, click on Dolphins Pro Bowl Odds for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. I wrote that safety Reshad Jones should make the Pro Bowl and that three other Dolphins could.

Poll result: Strong support to let Rose on Hall ballot: We asked if you'd like to see banished Pete Rose allowed on the Hall of Fame ballot, and it was 73.8 percent yes to 25.1% no, with only 1.1% undecided. Click on Rose's Purgatory Should End to read this week's column by me. I can tell you from my email response that, while most may agree with me, those who don't are vehement in their objection. Still a very polarizing topic.

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December 16, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.2%; plus Fins fall to Giants 31-24, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos Week 14 results & more


1) It is TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15. I talked Dolphins on NBC Sports' Kate Delaney Show. Click here for the podcast. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, dwindling faith in Tannehill quantified & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins at 50: My latest column: I attended Friday night's lavish Dolphins 50th Anniversary gala in Hollywood and it informs my latest Sunday column on how this franchise is so much better at celebrating its past than it is creating new glory days for its fans. Click on Yesterday Is Great, But What About Tomorrow to read it in full.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: 6.2%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 6.2 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Monday night's 31-24 home loss to the New York Giants putting DsmMiami's season record at 5-8. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Wednesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Game 12: 17.3% (following 15-13 victory vs. Baltimore)

Game 13: 6.2% (following 31-24 loss  to N.Y. Giants)

Next poll: Dec. 20 (following game at San Diego)

G13: N.Y. GIANTS 31, DOLPHINS 24: Monday Night Football as a TV franchise isn't what it used to be, but then neither are the Giants or Dolphins, so who's complaining. On MNF you still have the national stage to yourself, to shine or be embarrassed, and these are two 5-7 teams desperate to shine. Tonight should Nygmia Nygmia2see an emotional, big-event atmosphere worthy of the prime-time stage in Miami despite both teams’ mediocrity — the Dolphins with a negligible playoff shot, the Giants more so only because they luck to be in the stinky NFC East. The Fins will culminate the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebration by introducing its 50 all-time greatest players at halftime. (That’s a lot of ceremony crammed into a short period of time. Some of those old-timers are gonna be moving faster than they have in years.) Adding to the evening's special, "event" feel: The Giants haven’t played here since 1996, the first year post-Shula. The anniversary festivities should make for an electric crowd and accentuated home-field edge, even as the occasion reminds forlorn Dolfans that the good ol’ days are getting older all the time as the modern-day Fins slog toward what looks to be a seventh consecutive season out of the playoffs. I see the current Dolphins rising to the occasion tonight, especially Ryan Tannehill against what might be the NFL’s worst pass defense. Odell Beckham is more celebrated than his former college teammate Jarvis Landry, but Landry could put up Beckham-esque numbers as Tom Coughlin’s grip on his Biggies future continues to loosen. Upset! Sort of. Still not quite sure why NYG is a slight favorite. My pick: Dolphins, 27-23.

THE LIST: GIANTS-DOLPHINS A RARE TREAT: Last night marked only the teams' eighth all-time meeting. Miami has played the Giants less than any other franchise that has been around as long as the Dolphins. The eight meetings:

Date            Result                                           MIA coach/QB                              NYG coach/qb

12-10-72      Mia 23, @ Giants 13                   Don Shula/Earl Morrall             Alex Webster/Norm Snead

9-23-90       @ Giants 20, Mia 3                     Shula/Dan Marino                     Bill Parcells/Phil Simms

12-5-93       Giants 19, @ Mia 14                   Shula/Steve DeBerg                    Dan Reeves/Simms

12-8-96       Giants 17, @ Mia 7                     Jimmy Johnson/Marino            Reeves/Dave Brown

10-5-03       Mia 23, @ Giants 10                   Dave Wannstedt/Jay Fiedler    Jim Fassel/Kerry Collins

10-28-07     Giants 13, Mia 10 (London)      Cam Cameron/Cleo Lemon     Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning

10-30-11     @ Giants 20, Mia 17                   Tony Sparano/Matt Moore        Coughlin/Manning

12-14-15     Giants 31, @ Mia 24                   Dan Campbell/Ryan Tannehill   Coughlin/Manning 

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 14: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos Fripixfantasy teams: Pix: Meh. Not terrible: Another 9-7 record overall still isn't great but we're marginally OK with 8-7-1 against the spread (Colts-Jags was off the board when we picked). Bull's-eyed our Upset of the Week with Steelers over Bengals ("Aawwk!") and also had a pair of 'dogs-with-points in Saints and Chargers. Greg's Lobos / family league: Big win but too late: The original Lobos won our regular-season finale 162-110 led by Odell Beckham's big 36 points, but ended 5-9 to miss the championship-round playoffs by three games. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Winning but too late: The LeBatard Show Lobos are leading Dan 77.4 to 56.8 in our two-week consolation round playoffs. But all that matters now is that, in the championship matchup, Charlie leads Mike 144.7 to 138.3 entering next weekend's Lobos Bowl grand finale.

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December 12, 2015

What is your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Vote now!; plus the strength of Serena, PGA Tour may leave Doral over Trump, NFL Week 14 picks, verdict on Heat at quarter mark & more


1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat at quarter-mark poll, Marlins and Fernandez, Trump's hate-mongering, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy Week 13 results & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Golden Dolphins: Miami introduced its all-time 50 greatest players last evening during a gala at the Diplomat in Hollywood. I was there and will have a column online later today and in Sunday's paper.

AS A FRANCHISE CELEBRATES ITS PAST, DOLFANS STILL WONDER ABOUT THE FUTURE -- ESPECIALLY THAT OF TANNEHILL: The preceding headline is my suppposition, and here is why: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said six words yesterday that I thought spoke volumes. He had been asked whether he wanted to throw more passes than his 19 in last week's game and Tannehillhe said it didn't matter, explaining, "I’m in the business of winning." He is, indeed. So when is it going to start? The question is fair to ask this week — almost unavoidable, in fact — as the 50 greatest players in Miami's franchise history are in town to be honored at halftime of Monday night’s game vs. the Giants in a ceremony marking the club’s 50th season. Two of those greatest players, of course, are named Dan Marino and Bob Griese. So we are reminded of better days and better players, almost all of them in the past. It isn’t that anyone expects Tannehill to be a Hall of Famer. But it is fair, I think, to say we expected more of the No. 1 draft pick by now than a four-year record of 7-9, 8-8, 8-8, 5-7 and no playoff appearances. The mediocrity isn't all on Tannehill, for sure. But he has not demonstrated the ability special QBs have to lift and lead, to win because of them and despite surrounding talent. Has Tannehill taken a step forward this season? "I don’t know," he answered. Does he think 2016 will be his breakout season? "I hope so," he said. He called this "a crazy year for us for a lot of different reasons." Yes. When the in-season tumult includes the head coach being fired and later the offensive coordinator, too, that’s crazy. The thing is, both moves are due in part to the quarterback underperforming. As the Dolphins and Dolfans rightly celebrate their past, the frustration of the present isn’t just a likely seventh consecutive season out of the playoffs. It is that we still aren’t sure what we have at the most important position. We still aren’t sure if Tannehill is the franchise quarterback who will lead Miami to new glory days. And the fact we are still asking and wondering four years in may itself be the answer. Now, your turn. What is your degree of faith that Tannehill is or will be as good as the Dolphins need him to be? We asked this same question Oct. 15. I'll be interested to compare results two months later and see how Tannehill is trending. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 14 PICKS: We got off to a split start to our week last night. Hit on the Cardinals winning but thought they'd cover, too; they didn't. Click on Week 14 Gems for all of our remaining latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins get huge home win over Giants in a mild upset Monday night; Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers surprise Cincinnati in Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"); and Patriots avoid their first three-game losing streak in 13 seasons. Also, click on Judging Tannehill Amid Golden Hoopla for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column (more above), leading with Dolfans still wondering if QB Ryan Tannehill is the future as they celebrate the club's past.

DonaldPGA TOUR MAY LEAVE DORAL AFTER '16; PETITION TARGETS TRUMP AT DORAL: Update: The PGA Tour said today it will explore moving its WGC event from Doral after the '16 tournament this coming March. If so -- and it seems likely -- that would end a 53-year relationship between the Tour and Doral. ... Original post: A Care2 petition is asking the PGA Tour to cancel or move its World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship event scheduled for March 3-6 at Trump National Doral because of Donald Trump's controversial call for a sweeping ban on Muslims entering the U.S. The petition had gathered more than 33,000 supporters as of this morning; click on to view. (Earlier this year Trump's controversial comments about Mexicans also called into question whether the PGA Tour should be doing business with Trump and his golf courses). The Tour is in a tough spot, put there by Trump himself, who has gone from flashy tournament host to outspoken, polarizing presidential candidate. I doubt very much this petition will move the PGA Tour or cause it to leave Doral, at least not now. But chances are good the Doral event in March will be as much a political circus as it is a golf tournament this year, with players asked about Trump's politics and perhaps protests. That's good for me, for Your Friend the Media. I'm not sure it's good for golf.

SerenaSTRENGTH OF SERENA: You wonder why Serena Williams dominates women's tennis? Catch her photo, pictured, taken for the 2016 Pirelli calendar.

Poll result: More think Heat is worse than expected than better: We asked how you thought the Heat were doing relative to expectations at the NBA season's quarter mark, and 58.8 percent said about as expected. However, "worse" than expected drubbed "better" by 34.3% to 6.9%.

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