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Why Dolphins will be better than you think. Latest column; plus Inter Miami aims high with Barca's Suarez, 5 key battles as Fins end offseason, Marlins go bat-heavy in draft, Schnellenberger denied again, new Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Dr. John & more


Drjohn1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 8. One day after noting the 75th anniversary  of the Normandy landings on D-Day, we mourn the passing of New Orleans music legend Dr. John (pictured) at 77, from a heart attack. Second line ready, Big Easy. R.I.P. 2) Sorry to hear earlier this week of the sudden passing this week of WPLG news anchor Todd Tongen at 56 -- and no less so after learning the cause was suicide. We were the most casual of acquaintances, rarely crossing paths, but I always admired the job he did and his humor and good nature. Condolences to his family and loved ones. 3) It's always football season, so it's always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy it on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your NFL Finals will/want poll results, our review of  the Elton John biopic 'Rocketman' & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

BfloresTOO-DA-LOO, TUA? DOLPHINS WILL BE BETTER THAN EXPECTED IN 2019. NEW COLUMN: The Fins wrapped up their offseason program of OTA workdays and minicamps Thursday. Now it's six dark weeks for the club before it reassembles for full preseason training camp in late July. Thought the break was a good time to assess where the team is at, expectations-wise. We know the Vegas betting over/under is way low, around 5 wins. We think, or at least I think, Miami will be better, and I explore why in my newest column. A bright new coach in Brian Flores (pictured), an interesting quarterback battle with much upside, a really good receivers room, strong defensive tackle rotation, productive linebackers, better than average secondary -- too many positives for this team to be god-awful. The negatives: the offensive line other than Laremy Tunsil, and the absence of an edge rush leaving you wondering where the sacks will come from. Still, I think Miami will be good enough to make it difficult being bad enough to get the No. 1 overall 2020 draft pick and grand-prize QB Tua Tagovailoa. To read my latest column, kindly visit Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019.

LsuarezINTER MIAMI SIGNING LUIS SUAREZ WOULD BE NEARLY LEBRON-SIZED GET: David Beckham is gunning for Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, which if it  happens would be Miami sports' biggest get since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and the Heat in 2010. Suarez (pictured) is a proven, prolific goal scorer, with 25 or more net-shakers the past seven consecutive seasons for Liverpool or Barca at the highest levels of the sport. The negative: He will turn 33 just before the 2020 Major League Soccer season starts and Inter Mimi debuts as an expansion team. Still, there is little evidence of decline in his dynamic game, and he'd be a major piece to build an attacking team around. He would join the L.A. Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and D.C. United's Wayne Rooney as the biggest international names in MLS. For that column of mine, please visit Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez.

AS DOLPHINS WRAP UP OFFSEASON, REASONS TO LIKE FLORES AND 5 KEYS TO SEASON: Dolphins' mandatory minicamp ended Thursday to close Miami's offseason program. In my column previewing this week's minicamp I offer reasons I've really liked the hiring of Brian Flores as head coach thus far, and also five key position battles that will shape the coming season. To read that column, kindly visit Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season.

Other most recent columns: Marlins, NBA Finals, Bill Buckner, Miami's top young stars: For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / Drama Kings: How NBA Became America's Most Interesting Sport / Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness / And Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

BledayMARLINS DRAFT QUICK THOUGHT: BATS, BATS, BATS: The trades for prospects mostly have brought pitching, pitching, pitching. It is why Miami is pretty deeply stocked in its starting rotation. So the 2019 MLB Draft brings a different emphasis: Offense. And we saw that in the draft's first two rounds Monday night, led by Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday, the fourth overall pick. Then came Missouri OF Kameron Misner (a competitive balance pick) and in the second round, Lawrenceville, Ga. high-school infielder Nasim Nunez. Bleday, personally scouted by Derek Jeter at the recent SEC Tournament, is pictured. He had five hits that game, by the way. In the power-starved Bleday the Fish get a guy who led all NCAA Division 1 baseball with 26 home runs this season.

HowardTHREE EX-CANES ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL BALLOT, BUT...: Stalwart former Hurricanes defensive stars Jerome Brown, Ray Lewis and Dan Morgan are on the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame ballot revealed Monday. But one ex-Cane who deserves the honor continues to be left out: Coach Howard Schnellenberger. In a flashback column from a hyear ago, June 2018, and truer than ever, I make the case why Schnellenberger deserves the College Hall. Read: End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': CAFETERIAS!: The latest BIMD, which premiered Tuesday on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:

Other select recent columns: Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It (Really) Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Zion Williamson's Power to Reject the Lottery / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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Twitter @gregcote