December 29, 2018

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 11.2% (season final). Ouch. CSM bottoms out at lowest total since '14; plus UM falls to Wisconsin in bowl, 35-3, with no offense, 5 turnovers, awful run-D; also, NFL Week 17 picks, Beckham carves a turkey & more


1) It's FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28. If you missed it, visit MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018 to watch out annual holiday video. It's ho-ho-horrible! 2) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual Christmas video, Dolphins award winners, Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

On the 'Debacle of the Disappearing Dolphins': The Grinch stole the playoffs in this past Sunday's 17-7 Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. But did he also steal Ryan Tannehill's Fins future and Adam Gase's job? I explore in my most column. Visit End Of Hope For Dolphins. For Tannehill, Gase, too?

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: BOWL/FINAL SEASON: 11.2%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-ending -- Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a final approval rating of 11.2 percent -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday night's 35-3 loss to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York, leaving Miami's final season record at 7-6. It's the lowest season rating since 2014. The CSM, completing its 10th season, is your invitation after every Canes football game -- no matter the result or opponent -- to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the season's final poll, I urged you to please consider placing special emphasis on the season as a whole. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 11 a.m. today/Saturday. (The CSM also takes place on my Twitter site @gregcote. The approval rating there was 24%).

2018 CSM game-by game results

G1: 9.2% following 33-17 loss to LSU.

G2: 73.8% following 77-0 victory vs. Savannah State.

G3: 76.7% following 49-24 victory at Toledo.

G4: 84.0% following 31-17 victory vs. FIU.

G5: 98.7% following 47-10 victory vs. North Carolina.

G6: 91.1% following 28-27 victory vs. FSU.

G7: 13.0% following 16-13 loss at Virginia.

G8: 7.8% following 27-14 loss at Boston College.

G9: 12.1% following 20-12 loss vs. Duke.

G10: 12.6% following 27-21 loss at Georgia Tech.

G11: 50.0% following 38-14 victory at Virginia Tech.

G12: 32.7% following 24-3 victory vs. Pitt.

G13/Bowl: 11.2% following 35-3 Pinstripe Bowl loss to Wisconsin.

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2018--11.2% (following 7-6 season including bowl loss); 2017--68.4% (10-3). 2016--97.2% (9-4); 2015--20.1% (8-5); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

BOWL: WISCONSIN 35, HURRICANES 3: NO OFFENSE, 5 TURNOVERS, BAD RUN-D SPELL SAD END TO DISAPPOINTING YEAR: Final thoughts: Do not blame the Miami defense for this loss 35-3 loss. I know: 35 points. And I know: 333 yards rushing allowed, 205 by one player. But, no, it was five turnovers, including four interceptions, that killed UM, start to finish. It was an absolute nightmare game by Malik Rosier. UM now 1-8 in its past eight bowl games since 2008 ..... 4Q: Wisconsin 35-3 on 1-yard TD run ... Wisconsin 28-3 on 8-yard TD run following Perry INT ..... 3Q: Wisconsin 21-3 on 2-yard TD run following Rosier INT ... Halftime thoughts: Miami lucky to be trailing by only 14-3, after a very early 14-0 deficit suggested a blowout, three UM  turnovers and two badly missed Wisconsin field goal tries. It should be worse, in other words. Miami still is in it. But it's going to take a turnover-free second half, the Turnover Chain moving again on the Canes' side, and better play from Malik Rosier -- with his arm, not just his legs. That, or Jarren Williams. Just sayin' ..... 1Q: Miami 14-3 on 33-yard FG after Jaquan Johnson INT and Rosier 62-yard run ... Wisconsin 14-0 on 7-yard TD run following Rosier interception ... Wisconsin 7-0 on 35-yard opening-drive TD pass ..... Original post: A year ago these same two programs were ranked and meeting in the top-tier Orange Bowl game, a reward for big seasons. (Wisconsin beat Miami, 34-24). One year later, not so much. Now both teams are a disappointing 7-5 and it's the mid-level Pinstripe Bowl at PinbowlYankee Stadium in Da Bronx, a weak consolation to end the season. It is the middle game (5:15 kickoff) of three in a row Thursday on ESPN. The overarching theme in the buildup has been the capital-D distractions dogging Miami. First defensive coordinator Manny Diaz bolts to become Temple's head coach. Then came reports maturity-challenged quarterback N'Kosi Perry was in trouble again over a sexually explicit video he posted on Snapchat. But I don't see these as big negatives for UM because A) Although Diaz's departure hurt UM's recruiting and caused a disappointing early signing period this month, Diaz will coach Miami in the bowl, which could be an emotional rallying point for the defense; and B) Does it really matter that veteran Malik Rosier will (likely) start at QB instead of Perry? Not much if any is the correct answer. What does matter, though, is the absence of UM's best run stopper in Gerald Willis, who'll skip the bowl to rehab a hand injury. (The truth? I have little doubt he could play. The same injury hadn't kept him out before. But with the draft coming up he doesn't want to risk aggravating the injury). Other factors favor Miami. Temps in the 50s are forecast, so weather shouldn't be the negative it might have been for UM had it been freezing. I'd also guess Canes will enjoy more crowd support, considering half of New York have relatives living in South Florida. Beyond that I see Miami as slightly better overall, so it isn't surprising UM is favored by 3 points. It also isn't surprising the line is only 3, considering the Badgers have the nation's leading rusher in Jonathan Taylor. Both team's QB turmoil -- Jack Coan starts for Wisconsin because Alex Hornibrook, who blistered UM in last year's Orange Bowl, is out with concussion -- should be offsetting factors. But stopping Taylor will be a handful for Miami -- especially without Willis. A win by Wisconsin would not surprise even a little -- the upset risk is very high -- but I'm going to hunch Rosier leaves smiling from his final college game, and that UM's defense sends Diaz off a winner. My pick: Hurricanes, 24-20.

PicksNFL WEEK 17 PICKS: DOLPHINS-BILLS, GAME OF WEEK, UPSETS AND THE REST: You know I hate to brag, but The Magical Year of Cote rollicked on last week with a 15-1 record straight-up (our only miss the Dolphins!) and 9-7 against the spread. We're now at .710 overall and .588 ATS entering this final weekend of the regular season. Last week continued our run of Upset of the Week bull’s-eyes with Ravens winning at Chargers, and we nailed two other outright upsets with Seahawks over Chiefs and Raiders over Broncos. Also had a trio of ‘dogs-with-points covering in Redskins, Bengals and Giants. Now, ahead: Four Dolphins-Bills pick, Game of the Week, upsets and all the rest, visit Week  17 Gems for all of our latest selections.

Becksturkey"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but would be  much better if occasionally you would show a photo of Miami MLS boss David Beckham back home in England carving a Christmas turkey. Thank you.: Dear Reader: Great idea, but how am I gonna get such a picture?

Select other recent columns: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 02, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See the new No. 1 and what else lands where; plus NCAA Final Two and my bracket, your verdict on Marlins expectations (ouch), me in APSE column-writing, Miley Cyrus spanked by Easter Bunny & more


Easter1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 2. Welcome, April. Hope all you Christians had a Happy Easter! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Day expectations poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

APSE contest: We finished in Top 5: The Associated Press Sports Editors annual writing contest that had placed me in the top 10 for national columnists this month in the major-outlet category revealed the exact order on Friday and I ended up No. 5. Congrats to the winner, Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star. And thanks to APSE. I'm pleased by the top-five recognition. (A list of our nominated columns that earned that honor may be found below).

Latest columns: Marlins' Opening Day, NCAA Final Four, Dolphins, Wayne Huizenga: On baseball Opening Day: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing and Marlins 2018: Accentuating The Positives (Sort Of)  /  On NCAA Final Four: Centenarian vs. Nonagenarian and Larranaga On Being Cinderella  /  On Fins: Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason  /  And on passing of South Florida sports and civic giant: Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARCH MADNESS: It's Villanova-Michigan for NCAA men's title: 'Nova crushed Kansas while Michigan ended the dream of Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean in Saturday's Final Four, setting up a heavyweight championship match tonight that finds Villanova the biggest title-game favorite since 2010. On the women's side, Notre Dame beat Mississippi State for the crown Sunday as 'Anybody But UConn' prayers were answered.

2. MARLINS: MLB underway as Jeter presents his Fire-Sale Fish: Marlins finished a credible 2-2 vs. Cubs in season-opening series now welcome Red Sox to town for a pair. Marlins gave up a home run on the very first pitch of the season, while Giancarlo Stanton was homering on his very first swing as a Yankee. Poetic justice? Meantime "Marlins Man" is shopping himself to other teams, as if anybody on the face of the Earth gives a s--- other than Marlins Man.

3. TENNIS: Championship Weekend as Miami Open leaves Key Biscayne: John Isner beat Alexander Zverev for the men's title Sunday one day after Fort Lauderdale's Sloane Stephens defeated Jelena Ostapenko, completing the first U.S. sweep of the event since 2004. It was a star-shy, low-watt weekend to end the tournament's long history on Key Biscayne before next year's move to Hard Rock Stadium. The crowd jeered during Saturday's post-match ceremony when tourney director James Blake mentioned the move. Good.

4. PANTHERS: Playoffs now seem a longshot for Cats: There is a phrase for the Panthers' playoff hopes now: Thin ice. An ill-timed third straight loss on Saturday has Florida now seven points off playoff pace with two games in hand, a lot of ground to make up with only five games to play starting Monday here vs. Carolina. Even a strong finish won't be enough unless 8th place New Jersey ends in a tailspin.

5. HEAT: Whiteside gripes as Miami waits to clinch: Hassan Whiteside went petty after Saturday's home OT loss to Brooklyn, calling it "bulls---" that he was benched when Nets went small. Miami now sits in 7th place (via a tiebreaker) and still needs one more win or a Detroit loss to clinch playoff spot. They'll make it, but the idea, with five games left, is to stay above 8th to avoid top-seed Toronto in the first round. Aside to Hassan: As your team fights down the stretch, not a great time to make it all about you, big fella.

6. GOLF: All eyes on Tiger as Masters nears: The year's first golf major -- The Masters at Augusta -- begins this Thursday, and it will be the first major first step to gauge Tiger Woods' comeback and return to full health. "I got a second chance on life," Tiger said this week. "I am a walking miracle." Woods has won the Masters four times but not since 2005. A fifth would send weekend TV through the roof, were there roofs over golf courses.  

7. HORSE RACING: Audible wins the Florida Derby: Audible won the Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, assuring he'll be among favorites in the May 5 Kentucky Derby. Audible will take a four-race winning streak into Triple Crown season, and the previous two Florida Derby winners (Always Dreaming in 2017 and Nyquist in '16) have gone on to win at Churchill Downs. No pressure anything, Audible!

8. DOLPHINS: Let the NFL Draft countdown begin!: April now, draft month, 24 days 'til the first round. Mel Kiper's latest mock draft for ESPN has the Big Four quarterbacks going 1-2-3-5 and then also 15th (Lamar Jackson). Alas, Kiper has the Dolphins, picking No. 11, taking Florida State safety Derwin James. Pfffft

9. SOCCER: Champions League quarterfinals on deck: The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals are April 3-11. The first of eight matches are Tuesday with Sevilla vs. Bayern and Juventus vs. Real Madrid. No middle ground. You are either excited, or could not possibly care less.

10. HURRICANES: Football spring practice at midpoint: Mark Richt's Canes are halfway though spring practice, with the Spring Game coming up April 14. UM football gets the nod because, unfortunately, Jim Morris' baseball Canes continue to slog around at 12-15 after being swept on Sunday at Georgia Tech.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Angels' two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Sunday became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to start as a non-pitcher on Opening Day and then start as a pitcher within his team's first 10 games. Talk about a showoff! ..... Answer: I just saw that the UM men's tennis team is ranked 46th in the nation. Question: Do you think maybe they 're ranking too many teams? ..... NFL league meetings ended in Orlando with an apparent agreement on what constitutes a catch. Progress! ..... Ex-NBA stars Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Grant Hill head the 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class. Inductees also include Maurice Cheeks. No, seriously.

Ncaaff DickvitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: LET'S GO VILLANOVA!: We're updating you on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at There are 131 entries, and I stand in 19th place entering Monday night's championship game in San Antonio:

Final Four -- After a five-day break the Madness crescendo with the Final Four on Saturday: No. 3 Michigan rallying to beat No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and then No. 1 Villanova crushing No. 1 Kansas. I had no teams in the first game and both in the second, with Villanova winning it all. Hoping a 'Nova win Monday can get me in the pool's final top 10 or close to it.

Elite Eight -- Last Sunday as the Final Four was set I had the two No. 1 seeds still in play and both winning, and Villanova and Kansas both came through for me. Alas I didn't have a bracket dog in the hunt in either of Saturday's games as Michigan ousted Florida State and No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean kept the dream alive by beating Kansas State. 

[See earlier blogposts for our results preceding the Elite Eight round]

JeterPOLL RESULTS: YOUR OUTLOOK FOR MARLINS? NOT PRETTY: We asked in a blog poll this week, "What is the most likely/reasonable expectation for the 2018 Miami Marlins?" and gave you six choices. The results: 38.3 percent said 59-or-fewer wins; 27.5% said 60-64 wins; 15.8% said 65-69 wins; 10.8% said 70-74 wins; 4.2% said 80-plus wins; and 3.3% said 75-79 wins. That's 81.7% who don't see Miami reaching 70 wins. Ouch. In a separate Twitter poll, we you what would end up as the bigger number: Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge's combined home runs for the Yankees? Or Marlins season losses? More than 2,000 voted, and it was 56% for Marlins losses as the larger number. Ouch II.

Mileybunny"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK, but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of Miley Cyrus being spanked by the Easter Bunny. I feel that would be especially appropriate now, with Easter coming up on Sunday. Thank you." Dear Reader: That's a lot to ask, but I'll see what I can do. (Click on image to see enlarged version. Imagine. You're a professional mall Easter Bunny guy ready for his annual weekend posing with 5-year-olds, and a rep for Miley Cyrus calls to invite you to this photo shoot...)

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: 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.

Select additional columns: Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 19, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): After a week when tragedy overshadowed everything in sports; plus column on Derek Jeter's decimation of Marlins as spring training begins & more


1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19. The Dolfans in your life don't know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Stoneman Douglas tragedy with column and GoFund Me page & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Derek Jeter's Marlins as spring training begins: He can spin it and try to justify it any way he wishes, but Derek Jeter's massive Marlins salary dump is a betrayal of public trust. The Marlins are tanking because the new owners have put the bottom line above the product on the field and above the paying customers. To read my latest column, click: Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season

My column on Stoneman Douglas shooting tragedy, ICYMI: Seventeen were killed last week in a shooting spree at Parkland's Stoneman Douglas High carried out by a coward with an assault weapon, a deranged former student who'd been expelled. Something like this, by the way, is why I, unlike most sports writers, never use words like 'tragedy' or 'disaster' to describe a knee injury or an awful season. This is a tragedy. For my column, click: Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hot1. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Mass shooting at local high school kills 17: Seventeen innocents were murdered at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in a mass shooting that stunned the sports world as much as it did the rest of us. The perpetrator: A 19-year-old former student with an assault weapon who is now in custody. Another tragedy wrought by a deranged mind with a military-grade killing machine. The United States shames itself by continuing to allow these weapons to be sold.

2. HEAT: Slumping Miami hanging on at All-Star break: Heat has lost seven of past eight, is 1-2 since Dwyane Wade's return and has fallen to 8th place in the East. All-Star Weekend in L.A. came as a welcome diversion, with Goran Dragic in the main game Sunday, scoring two points in 11 minutes off the bench in a 148-145 Team LeBron win, after Wayne Ellington did Saturday's 3-point contest. Heat are off 'til Friday, at New Orleans.

3. MARLINS: Fire-sale Fish begin spring training for real Monday: What's left of the Miami Marlins opens spring training for real with Monday's first full-squad work up in Jupiter, with the first spring game only four days later. And -- other than new owner Derek Jeter being a colossal disappointment by trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in a massive salary dump -- it's been a great offseason!

4. OLYMPICS: Winter Games into final week in South Korea: Entering Monday's play Team USA was tied for fourth in gold medals won and tied for sixth in total medals won. Are we OK with that, or are we jingoists crestfallen because America should be No. 1 in everything and at all times?

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men's program cleared in FBI probe: Canes men have lost three straight and are back out of the Top 25 after Saturday's home loss to Syracuse. The good news? The UM program -- linked before season to FBI national probe of recruiting corruption -- went a long way to being cleared when charges were dropped against the AAU director accused of funneling money from Adidas to persuade one player to sign with Miami. Wonder if FBI sent Jim Larranaga an "Oops. Sorry, our bad" Hallmark card?

6. PANTHERS: Hot Cats inching up in playoff chase: The good news? Panthers have won seven of past eight games after Saturday's win at Calgary and have within six points of playoff pace. The bad news? Six down is still a lot, and 12th in the East means a lots of teams to still climb over with only 26 games left.

7. UM BASEBALL: Jim Morris' final season underway: It was Play ball! Friday in a season-opening weekend home series for 24th-ranked Canes baseball vs. Rutgers -- UM taking two of three games. Miami is trying to return to NCAA playoffs after missing last year for the first time in four decades. This is the 25th and last season for Morris, who'll then retire. His Canes teams have reached 13 College World Series and won two. Three would be a charm for the coach in the No. 3 jersey.

8. NASCAR: Vroom! Dillon takes Daytona 500 in season opener: Austin Dillon won Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 -- leading only on the final lap. The emotional tug came from the season starting without retired Dale Earnhardt Jr., and from Danica Patrick running in her final Daytona 500.

9. HURRICANES: UM football sets spring dates: Hot off a national top-10 recruiting class, Canes announced spring practice would commence March 20 -- highlighted by Malik Rosier trying to fend off challengers in an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Meanwhile, coach Mark Richt will host an "All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experience" at Hard Rock Stadium on February 24. Visit for more.

10. SOCCER: Champions League matches continue: The 32-team UEFA Champions League continues toward its May conclusion with matches Tuesday and Wednesday including club giants Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United. You are following this avidly or not at all. No in-between, sorry.

Missing the HB10 cut: The weekend "Monster Truck Jam" wraps up Sunday at Marlins Park. Turns out it looks even more ridiculous in person than it does on TV ..... Headline: 'Arizona male cheerleader booted from arena for heckling Arizona State during basketball game.' Ah, sportsmanship! ..... Fox News host Laura Ingraham blasted LeBron James for his criticism of Donald Trump, essentially tell LeBron to "shut up and dribble" just like the president's aides told her to.

POLL RESULT: OPINIONS OF JETER 'VERY UNFAVORABLE': We asked, "What is your impression of the job Derek Jeter has done so far as CEO of the Miami Marlins?" And it was 75.58 "very unfavorable." the other three categories -- very favorable, somewhat favorable and somewhat unfavorable -- all tied with 8.14%.

AccordinionDEAR GREG...: "Dear Greg, Your blog's OK but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of a street musician playing the accordion while dressed like a giant creepy rodent-type thing and staring menacingly at the camera. Thank you." Dear Reader, I would but where on Earth am I going to find something like that!? Please be a little more reasonable with your requests in the future.

Select other recent columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 10, 2015

Heat signs Stoudemire, new study says Dolphins fans worst in NFL; plus Jason Pierre-Paul privacy breach poll and Donald Trump poll; also, Luol Deng's special video, the wonder of Jose & more


1aa1acubanmark1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 11. Belated happy birthday to one of my heroes, Mavis Staples, who turned 76 yesterday. 2) DeAndre Jordan, after verbally agreeing to free-agent deal with the Dallas Mavericks, reverses field and re-signs with L.A. Clippers. Fun! Always a delight when Mark Cuban (pictured) is angry and helpless. 3) #BoycottArianaGrande. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cuba cruises and Micky Arison poll, ESPN 'Body' poll, Pat Riley's revenge, Fins seat sale, ode to Serena, Weighing The Fish, Fins/Canes betting odds & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

DOLFANS CALLED WORST IN NFL: Hey don't blame the messenger. I'm just passing this along. A new study by Atlanta's Emory University rates NFL teams 1 through 32 in "fan equity rankings," and Miami is ranked 32nd. Emory calls it "a measure of brand equity that is based on fans' willingness to financially support their team ... based on the average Fan Equity score for the last three years." Dallas is ranked No. 1. Click here for the story including full rankings and methodology.

HEAT SIGNS AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: Heat yesterday struck a bargain deal with former Knick Amar'e 1aa1aamaresStoudemire, just one day after signing guard Gerald Green, 29, a 6-8 "young veteran," to a one-year deal at the minimum $1.3 million -- another bargain for Miami. Green averaged 11.9 points for Phoenix last season including 35 percent from 3-point land. He'll likely back up Dwyane Wade (who officially re-signed, as expected) at shooting guard and offer the needed threat from 3ville. Adding Green also suggests the club may be looking at rookie swingman and No. 1 draft pick Justise Winslow more as a small forward than a guard, at least initially. In Stoudemire, 32, the Heat get a man five years or so past his best days, but a man who, if his knees stay sound, still has offensive punch and can be a valuable backup big man in the rotation, a 6-10 power forward/center.

Poll result: Cuba cruises don't hurt Arison's image: We asked if Carnival offering cruises to Cuba negatively impacts your opinion of Heat (and Carnival) owner Mark Cuban, and it was 79.6 percent no, 17.4% yes 3.0% undecided.

JASON PIERRE-PAUL WAS WRONGED. WHO'S TO BLAME: A Giants defensive end from Deerfield Beach is celebrating the Fourth of July in Miami, does something dangerous and careless with fireworks and ends 1aa1aadams
1aa1ajacksonmemup hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Thursday it is reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter that Pierre-Paul has had his right index finger amputated. Schefter knows this because someone at Jackson (apparently) leaked the player's private medical records, which would violate laws, and Schefter posted those private records on Twitter, which, to me, skirts the line of journalistic ethics. Jackson is investigating on its end. Nothing yet from ESPN yet on Schefter's actions. I'm curious what you think. Is it no big deal because the info on the amputation would have come out eventually? Was Schefter just doing his job? For me the bottom line is, the law is the law and even a prominent NFL player has a right to medical privacy. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

GOLF AND POLITICS: THE DONALD TRUMP MESS: I did it. I touched the lightning rod that is Donald Trump. As well as the lightning rod you often get when sports and politics mix. I did it with my latest column -- click on Golf Should Say No to Trump to read in full -- and the email reaction has been 1aa1agolftrumpvoluminous and largely vitriolic. A representative email from Vince F of Miami (last name withheld): "Hey ass-wipe, Trump is a Billionaire, you are still paying off mortgages." Then it got nasty. Vince, I was not aware great wealth made someone right and that relying on a paycheck made someone wrong. At least you're not materialistic or anything! (Quick aside: My mortgage happens to be paid off and I just paid cash for a brand new car. Does that make me a better person to you? More right?) I believe and wrote that the PGA Tour and other golf entities should disassociate themselves from Trump-owned golf courses because of his recent prejudicial, broad-swipe comments ("They're rapists...") about Mexican immigrants. NBC, Macy's, Univision and others already have done so. Unfortunately that would include the annual WGC/Doral tournament. Many emailers are on a tangent about immigration, as if what I wrote was about that topic. It wasn't, but as it happens I'm for strong borders. On very few topics am I more conservative. Anyway, the strong reaction to my column leads me to take a pulse here, too, with a blog poll. This poll is not about Trump's presidential bid. This is not about immigration. This is, specifically, about whether golf should continue to partner with a man who said what he did about Mexicans, and without regret. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

1aa1ajosefJOSE STAYS MASTERFUL AT HOME: Jose Fernandez this week vs. the Reds made his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery, and his second strong, winning one. The Marlins had been losers of four straight and desperately needed him to continue his at-home perfection, and he delivered. Jose is now 14-0 with a 1.17 ERA pitching in Miami in his young MLB career. Astounding. Meanwhile:

Marlins record this year under fired manager Mike Redmond: 16-22, .421

Marlins record this year under his replacement Dan Jennings: 20-28, .417

Poll result: ESPN 'Body' issue is about narcissism: We asked your view of ESPN's annual 'Body' display of athletes nude but somewhat covered, and it was 49.0 percent negative (narcissism) vs. 35.5% positive (artfully done). The other 15.5% were undecided.

LUOL DENG'S SPECIAL VIDEO: The Heat forward thinks bigger than basketball. He was born in Sudan (now South Sudan) and cares deeply for his heritage. Four years after its independence, South Sudan suffers through violence, hunger and a collapsing economy. Luol's video is worth a minute of your time:


1aa1acroweagle"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's good but would be even better if occasionally you would show a picture of a crow hitching a ride on the back of an eagle. Would that be possible? Thank you." Dear Reader: No promises, but let me get right on that.

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May 14, 2015

An evolving newspaper industry redefines itself; plus Wizards' John Wall and gang signs, LeBatard radio show preps for TV, 'Miamians For LeBron,' Dee Train, Kiper's 2016 Big Board, Brady/Dolphins-impact verdict, assimilating bears & more


1aa1arock1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 14. Happy birthday to my youngest son. Love you, Michael! 2) Miami royalty: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson meets up with Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) the other night in L.A. after Stanton put one clean out of Dodger Stadium. 3) Patriots issue lengthy rebuttal to Wells Report. Click here for story and link to Pats' response. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady punishment with poll, Marlins bench closer, rooting for LeBron, updated Super Bowl odds & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dee Train: A new blog feature: Starting today, "Dee Train" will be a daily blog update on the Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do it as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. (Yes, people who believe in jinxes and superstitions will hate this). Gordon updated season: .426 (58-for-136) after 4-for-5 last night. Next: Friday vs. ATL. 

'Miamians For LeBron' bandwagon forming; good seats still available: In today's latest column, on how these NBA playoffs are refreshing and good for the league, I explore further the fractured relationship between Miami and LeBron James. I propose -- tongue in cheek, I'd remind those less discerning -- that continuing animus is unfounded. Click on Miamians For LeBron to read column in full.

AS AN EVOLVING NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY REDEFINES ITSELF: I offer below the 9-minute video "We Are McClatchy," released earlier today. McClatchy is the parent company of the Miami Herald among many other media entities, and the video describes ways in which the beleaguered newspaper industry is continuing to refashion itself in the digital age. I recommend the video to anyone who cares about the Miami Herald, past, present and future, and to anyone who cares about the American newspaper industry and where it is headed.


IS WIZARDS' JOHN WALL THROWING UP GANG SIGNS?: As a spokesman for the Old White Community I can tell you I don't know gang signs from Adam. Somebody says the word "gang" to me and I start 1aa1ajwallhumming Spanky And Our Gang's "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" from 1967. But I can tell you a lot of people much closer to street level than me are convinced Washington point guard John Wall (pictured) was throwing up a gang signs for the Bloods during last night's playoff game, augmented by shouting the phrase "Big B's." Google Wall's name and "gang sign" to see the stories, video and Twitter references. (Wall had been involved in a similar gang-sign controversy while at Kentucky). Should we care? I'd imagine the Wizards and the NBA office do. Here we are in the midst of a great playoffs, with all four conference semifinal series at 3-2 and multiple Game 7s maybe looming, and we're talking about a star player and possible gang affiliation. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this, whether it be an explanation from Wall, admonishment or discipline. I'd be surprised if something didn't.

1aa1alebatardfusionLEBATARD RADIO SHOW READY FOR TV DEBUT: You've lent him your ears. Now he'd like your eyes, too. ESPN Radio's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz is preparing to make its television debut on the Fusion network this coming Tuesday May 19. The show began preparing/rehearsing for televised radio by broadcasting from its new studio at the Clevelander on South Beach earlier this week on 1aa1afusionTuesday, with Le Batard assuring listeners the content of the show would not change and making the distinction that it would be a radio show on television, not a TV show on radio. The logo for the new show is pictured. From Wade Beckett, Fusion’s chief programming officer: "Dan's smart-yet-irreverent take on sports and the stories making headlines perfectly aligns with Fusion’s desire to present this young, diverse generation with an array of dynamic voices that have an authentic point of view and, at the end of the day, are just are fun to watch." Says LeBatard: "We are pumped about unleashing the primitive Stugotz on a new and unsuspecting audience. And maybe we will talk some sports, too. Our goal is to not totally break Fusion. But the show will be better on the days we do." I'll continue to be a once-a-week guest on the show, unless Fusion convinces Dan to fire me. I'll be in the Tuesday slot although my on-TV debut will  be Thursday May 21.

NOTABLE FROM KIPER'S FIRST 2016 DRAFT 'BIG BOARD': Mel's first Double-B top-25 for 1aa1abosajoeylooking ahead to '16 NFL Draft starts off notably with Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (pictured) No. 1 overall -- notable because Bosa is from St. Thomas Aquinas High and is the son of John, the Dolphins' 1987 first-round pick. Also notable: No. 3--Florida State S Jalen Ramsey; No. 5--Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves; and No. 9--Cal QB Jared Goff, the highest quarterback ranked. Sorry, Canes. No UM'ers listed.

Poll result: Most think Brady punishment impact on Dolphins won't be major: We asked about the impact of Tom Brady's 4-game suspension on the Dolphins and it was a photo finish between "moderate" (46.1 percent) and "minor" (45.7%). Only 8.2% voted "major."

1aa1abearbar"DEAR GREG...": "I heard a TV report that in Alaska, and now spreading elsewhere across America, bears have begun assimilating and are now interacting with humans in ways never before thought possible. Can you explain, please?" Dear Reader: Sorry, but I have no idea what you're talking about.

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May 12, 2015

Dolphins Factor: How much does Brady suspension benefit Miami? Poll. Vote now!; plus adjusted Super Bowl odds, benching Cishek, rooting for LeBron, bacon roses & more


1aa1apats1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 13. New England Patriots today changed their Twitter avatar to what's pictured at right in a show of support for suspended QB Tom Brady. Click on image to see enlarged version. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady suspended and impact on Dplphins, new 'Weighing The Fish', Heat draft predix, Hot BUtton Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1abradygreg"Another embarrassment for the league. Terrible mixup. The NFL inadvertently suspended TV's Greg Brady instead." --Greg Cote

Marlins blow another one: Steve Cishek blew yet another save and game out in Los Angeles last night, Marlins fans waiting up 'til 1 a.m. only to endure another mound implosion. Time for a change. As we speak Mike Redmond is shopping the discount aisle at Closers 'R Us. [Update: Cischek demoted. For now, it's closer-by-committee].

Adjusted Super Bowl odds, post-Deflategate: New England, assuming Tom Brady's four-game suspension is upheld on appeal, is now a 10-1 pick via Bovada to repeat as Super Bowl champ, down from 15-2. Seattle at 11-2, Green Bay 7-1 and Indianapolis 8-1 now are above the Pats; Dallas also is 10-1. Miami is now 33-1, tied for 12th best, up from 40-1 because of the Brady suspension. Patriots remain AFC East favorites at 2-3, with Dolphins and Bills now both 17-4 and Jets 7-1.

BRADY PUNISHMENT IS FAIR, TURNS UP HEAT ON DOLPHINS, PHILBIN: NFL took a long time with the Wells Report investigation but then moved quickly in suspending QB Tom Brady four games,
1aa1abrady 1aa1adolphinsfining
the Patriots $1 million and making New England forfeit first-round (2016) and fourth-round ('17) draft picks. Click on Deflategate Penalties Inflate Dolphins Chances to read my latest column in full. My reaction to the vrerdict was two-fold: 1) The NFL got it right. The punishment is neither too lenient nor too harsh. The penalties would have been lighter based solely on the report's finding of "probable" guilt, but were increased because Brady lied and then did not cooperate fully with the investigation. 2) The impact on the Dolphins. It's a big chance, erasing your nemesis-team's star quarterback for a quarter of the season. It turns up the heat on Joe Philbin to make this a winning season and a playoff season. The AFC East title should be considered in play. I'm curious the weight you attach to a four-gamer Brady suspension in terms of its impact on the Dolphins this year. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

1aa1ajameslTHE BLASPHEMY OF ROOTING FOR LEBRON JAMES: Watching Sunday's Cavs-Bulls game at home with my son, I pumped a fist and smiled when LeBron James hit that buzzer-beating, winning shot. My kid looked at me like I'd just sold the family dog for crack cocaine. Is it alright for Heat fans or anyone living in South Florida to be rooting for LeBron this postseason, or does that expose one as a traitor? I explore today in an online-only column. Click on Miamians For LeBron Bandwagon to read the column in full. (Good seats still available...).

1aa1abaconroses"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's good, but I'd like it even better if occasionally you'd show a picture of a dozen roses made of bacon. Thank you." Dear Reader: If only they made such a thing.

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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


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
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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April 06, 2015

Another calamitous Opening Day for Marlins in rained-on loss; plus are Marlins a playoff team? New poll. Vote now; also Heat down in flames, why Duke wins, nattily dressed animals & more


1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 6. Hope y'all had a Happy Easter in celebrartion of the original comeback king, Jesus. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hut Button Top 10, Duke-Wisconsin poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Marlins and Jeffrey Loria: I visited with the controversial team owner for my column in Sunday's season-preview section. Many still dislike Loria, but will a big-spending offseason help his image? Click on Judging Jeffrey to read.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Reeling Heat lose yet again. Outlook entering MondayA daily blog feature as one team fights to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending down in 10th place at 34-43 (L4) after last night's 112-89 loss at Indiana, 1 game from 8th, 0 games (tiebreaker) from 9th with 5 games left (next Tuesday vs. Charlotte). Heat playoff likelihood: 49.2% (down 11.3) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Eliminated. 2 games left (next Thursday vs. Boston).

Check us out on Twitter, Instagram and Vine for new pix and vids from today's Marlins Opening Day. 

OPENING DAY! MARLINS UNFURL 2015 SEASON: Update: Marlins lose opener 2-1 to Braves this evening. More calamity. Field rained on when retractable roof doesn't close in time, and soggy field partly blamed for loss. Watch for my column from Marlins Park posting online very soon. Original post: There are a few things the National Pastime still does better than the almighty NFL. The all-star game is one. Another is Opening Day. The start of football never seems special the way to opening of baseball does. So the red, white and blue bunting 1aa1agstanton 1aa1adayopeningwill be out at Marlins Park late this afternoon as the new-look, high-hope Marlins host the Braves. Miami has made the playoffs only two of 22 previous franchise seasons (albeit winning the World Sereis both times), yet optimism helps welcome this season. Countering that: Baseball remains the toughest playoff ticket in American sports, even with the addition of the wild-card games. Can the Marlins hang close enough to contention until Jose Fernandez's summer return from surgery? While we wait to see, at-bats by Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) will continue to be some of the best minute or two in all of sports. I'll be at the park today, on one of those days I like my job. Meantime, take in a dip in our poll and help set expectations for this Marlins season. Remember, not asking what you hope will happen, but what you honestly expect will. Vote and say why.

ILL-TIMED HEAT SWOON: Four straight losses now and seven of the past nine after last night's embarrassed showing at Indiana have the Heat now struggling to make the postseason (see Playoff Chase above). Miami may need a 4-1 finish to do it and has four home games left to feather the cause. That would be a a win Tuesday vs. playoff-chase rival Charlotte, a split of the following games vs. playoff-qualified Chicago and Toronto, then a regular-season-ending sweep of East bottom feeders Orlando and (at) Philadelphia. Little margin of error now. Want the playoffs, Heat? Act like it.

1aa1adukewisDUKE, WISCONSIN: GREAT CONTRASTS. COIN, PLEASE?: The unexpected elimination of toppled unbeaten Kentucky has left tonight's NCAA Tournament men's championship game without a clear or even agreed-upon favorite. Some etting odds have Wisconsin favored by one point, most have it dead-even. Duke seeks its fifth national title, following 1991, '92, 2001 and '10. Wisconsin's only previous national championship was in early-days 1941. Tonight's event misses the cheering for, or against, Kentucky to go 40-0, but it leaves us an intriguing contrast of a matchup. Duke's searing defense vs. Wisconsin's big-scoring O. Young Blue Devils led by freshman Jahlil Okafor vs. veteran Badgers led by senior Frank Kaminsky. Buttoned-down Duke vs. free-spirited Wisconsin. Badgers may have the greater incentive, aiming for a first modern-era title and losing to Duke at home in December and also in last year's NCAA semifinals. But give me Mike Krzyzewski and his terrific defense tonight.

Playoff result: Duke by narrowest of margins: We asked, and you voted 50.7 percent for a Duke championship and 49.3% for Wisconsin.

"Your blog's OK but would be even better if occasionally you would show a picture of what the world might look like if animals were of supreme intelligence, walked upright, and dressed even better than we humans do. Thank you." Dear Reader: What an oddball request!

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March 12, 2015

Suh Effect poll: Setting the bar on Dolphins expectations. Vote now!; plus Canes/FIU hoops, verdict on Whiteside, Heat/Panthers playoff-chase update, robot sportswriters & more

1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 12. Congrats to my friend Bryan Baucom (pictured) for his 500th softball coaching victory with St. Thomas Aquinas High. He also is offensive coordinator for STA's vaunted football program -- one of South Florida's most successful prep coaches. 2) Feeling sexist or shallow? Click here for a video on hottest quarterback WAGs. (Yes, Lauren Tannehill gets a mention). 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dirty Town: On Suh and Whiteside with poll, Canes/FIU basketball, Marlins future, delights of Twitter & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

It's back! Our annual March Madness Haiku Challenge!: An annual spring fixture in this blog is our March Madness Haiku Challenge. You know the drill. Haikus (17-syllable poems) about the coming NCAA Tournament. Stay tuned. Rules and details to come.

Postseason hoops: Canes tonight, FIU eliminated: Miami won its ACC Tournament opener last night over Virginia Tech, 59-49, in Greensboro, N.C., thanks to Sheldon McClellan's 16 points, strong defense and an awful opponent. But UM likely must beat a very good Notre Dame tonight at 9 to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament. FIU also won yesterday, beating Texas-San Antonio, 57-54, in the Conference USA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., but the Golden Panthers were eliminated this afternoon by Texas-El Paso, 83-71, to finish their season 16-17. 

PLAYOFF CHASE UPDATE: Heat/Panthers status entering Thursday: A new daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending up in 8th place at 29-35 (W1), 1/2 game from 7th and 1/2 game from 9th with 18 games left (next Friday at Toronto). Heat playoff likelihood: 40.4% (up 11.9) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 9th place at 29-37 (W1), 6 points from 8th and 1 point from 10th with 16 games left (next tonight vs. Winnipeg). Cats playoff likelihood: 4.5% (up 0.1) per

SUH IMPACT: SETTING THE BAR ON DOLPHINS EXPECTATIONS: I attended Ndamukong Suh's Dolphins introduction yesterday and smiled when he was asked about the pressure one him. The question was
1aa1andammisdirected. The pressure is not on Suh. It is on (more than ever) coach Joe Philbin. As I write of the Suh signing in today's column -- love quoting myself! -- "It does not guarantee you will win or succeed. What it does is leave you out of excuses to explain why if you don't." So the question for you is how the Suh signing has impacted how you feel about the Dolphins and their chances this coming season. As I also note -- click on A Man Named Suh for the entire column -- the Pats are still the Pats and the active Bills and Jets both have improved, too. Factoring all of that, let's set an early bar on expectations for the 2015 Dolphins. Take a dip in our poll. Vote not for the option you hope for, but for the option you realistically expect, and say why.

1aa1adansuhPictorial: Behind-the-scenes photos from Ndamukong Suh's first day as a Dolphin: Click here to access around 50 behind-the-scenes photographs from Ndamukong Suh's first official day as a Miami Dolphin on Wednesday, courtesy the team. One of the photos, of Suh meeting Dan Marino, is pictured at left.

Poll result: There is concern for Whiteside's Heat future due to temper: We asked if you were very, somewhat or not concerned that Hassan Whiteside's temper and immaturity were imperiling his future with the Heat. It was close, with 38.5 percent voting "somewhat," 37.8 "very" and 23.7 "not." That's 76.3% expressing some concern.

1aa1arobotTHE SINISTER RISE OF ROBOT SPORTSWRITERS: Click here for the sad backstory. Well, probably it's more weird than sad. The robot actually is a software program that is fed data about, say, a game result, processes that information, and produces a news story based on the data provided. So, Big Brother is not only watching, now he's writing, too. I think my job is safe (for now), but who knows? Pretty soon there  might be an app for that.

WHEN SOMETHING SAD TURNS HEARTWARMING: Some fans at a middle-school basketball game in Kenosha, Wisc., were teasing a cheerleader who has Down Syndrome. Three players walked off the court to confront the bullies. Story here.

1aa1agronkbowl"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of Rob Gronkowski holding a bowling pin. Thank you." Dear Reader: I'll try, but can't imagine where I'd get one. 

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February 11, 2015

Marlins All-Star Game in historical context; plus LeBron's grand plan, Kiper's new Dolphins pick, bad news for Al Golden, Chicago's cheaters?, Brian Williams/Jon Stewart, armed goats & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot-Seat Index coaching poll, SI swimsuits, J-Law's snake, Marlins unis, 2015 college football rankings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

LeBron's grand plan: LeBron James reveals in the Feb. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter his grand plan including a future in movies and his dream of building a Hollywood empire. Click here for the story and related video. Must-read for LBJ fans. 

'Back In My Day': Many of you on Twitter and in emails ask for links to the "Back In My Day" segments I do Tuesdays on the Dan Le Batard Show. I have done 17. Click on BIMD Volume 1 for episodes 1 through 10 (which originally appeared in the blog on Dec. 11). I'll have a link to the most recent episodes soon.

"I liked Beck before it was cool." --Greg Cote

1aa1afishlogoMARLINS ALL-STAR GAME IS FIFTH FOR SOUTH FLORIDA: The Marlins will be hosting their first MLB All-Star Game in 2017, a direct result of the new stadium that so many complained about but that will prove a positive for generations to come. Getting this game is a big deal, and it's about time. Baseball's annual
showcase is far superior to the other sports'. Giancarlo Stanton in the Home-Run Derby seems a given. But Miami sports historians like myself know this Marlins first actually will be the fifth major (Big Four sport) professional all-star game in South Florida. The list, chronologically:

All-Star Game               Date                    Site

NFL Pro Bowl                Jan. 20, 1975       Orange Bowl

NBA All-Star Game        Feb. 11, 1990       Miami Arena

NHL All-Star Game        Feb. 2, 2003        Office Depot Center, Sunrise 

NFL Pro Bowl                Jan. 31, 2010       Sun Life Stadium, Miami

MLB All-Star Game        TBD, 2017            Marlins Park

KIPER APES MCSHAY ON FINS PICK: Dueling ESPN mock drafters Mel Kiper (pictured) and Todd McShay need to get together and fake some variety. Kiper in his new Mock 2.0 out today has Jameis Winston No. 1 1aa1akipermeloverall to Tampa Bay, Marcus Mariota No. 6 to the Stinkin' Jets and Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes No. 14 to Miami -- just like McShay did last week. Kiper on Waynes: "Dolphins need to add some effective youth at cornerback, and Waynes is a well-coached cover man with the versatility to help in both man and zone and brings a physical presence. He's effective taking on big receivers and will also not shy away from tackling and setting the edge as a run-defender. If you're going on pure upside, Marcus Peters (Washington) could gain a slight edge, but Waynes gets the nod for reliability. The Combine can shift perceptions at this position, but I think Waynes is a safe bet to be one of the top two corners taken and it's a need area for the Dolphins, who need more playmakers in their secondary."

Poll result: It's Golden over Philbin for the coaching hot seat: We asked who among So Fla's Big Six coaches should lead the Hot-Seat Index, and UM football coach Al Golden swamped the Dolphins' Joe Philbin by 65.9 percent to 32.4%. We figured a two-man race and man was it! Heat's Erik Spolestra, Marlins' Mike Redmond, UM hoops' Jim Larranaga and Panthers' Gerard Gallant combined for a scant 1.7%.

ON BRIAN WILLIAMS, JON STEWART: NBC suspends Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for six months 1aa1abrianwmswithout pay for the truth-fudging that has spawned a million Internet lampoons like the photo pictured. I get the punishment. U.S. presidents and network news anchors -- aren't those the folks you sort of want to trust most? I wonder if in six months Williams will return as if nothing happened or just sort of fade into shamed retirement. Elsewhere on the dial, Jon Stewart is leaving Comedy Central's The Daily Show, a major loss for hilarious, razor-edgy political commentary. I think Stewart is brilliant, by which I mean he shares my take on just about everything arising from today's headlines.

LITTLE LEAGUE A LITTLE TOO LATE WITH ITS DISCIPLINE: So Little League Baseball strips the U.S. championship from the Chicago team (Jackie Robinson West) that won it in the 2014 LL World Series by, we now are told, supposedly fudging boundary lines to improperly build a superteam. Two adults involved have been supposed for actions that spoils the heart-warming story of the first African-American team to reign. Better late than never on the discipline, I suppose, but Little League's due diligence on boundaries and birth certificates needs to come before a tournament not afterward. This story bears further examination. As it was the Chicago team's triumph was overshadowed, anyway, by the Sports Illustrated cover-spawning mania over the Philadelphia girl pitcher, Mo'Ne Davis.

1aa1agoatswithguns"DEAR GREG...": "I have heard rumors that a sect of anti-government separatists in the Deep South has formed a militia made up entirely of armed goats trained to perform as soldiers. Can this possibly be true?" Dear Reader: I find that almost impossible to believe, but I'll check into it and get back to you.

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