[1) It is Wednesday, May 2. The Heat-Knicks G2 pumpup music: Old-school barroom hip-hop from House of Pain, Jump Around. (Warning: Some of the lyrics might offend the easily offended). 2) Newt Gingrich announced he will formally drop out of the presidential race today, surprising analysts who assumed he'd dropped out weeks ago. 3) The new Brooklyn Nets logo appears at left. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
'LIVE CHAT WEDNESDAY' BIDS NON-TEARY FAREWELL: Join us today 1-2 p.m. for the historic farewell edition of Live Chat Wednesday. The Miami Herald is at least temporarily discontinuing its Q&A Chats, a corporate decision, and that means I'll be clicking my heels like a drunk leprechaun doing the final installment today. I'll be the guy in the middle of the Chat Room wearing the pointy cardboard cone-hat. Click FAREWELL, CHAT to magically transport yourself there today at 1, or to post questions early.
Click on A Little Help? No Help Needed for my latest column. It's on the Heat's championship path clearing with injuries to Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and now Amare Stoudemire, but on a Heat team needing no outside help to look, right now, like the best team in the NBA.
G2: HEAT 104, KNICKS 94: NEW YORK IN MAJOR HOLE AS BIG 3 COMBINE FOR 65 POINTS: Miami taking a big 2-0 series lead up to New York now after G2 Player of the Game Dwyane Wade's 25 points and early spark led Monday night's home win. After the loss the Knicks' Amare Stoudemire cut his left hand when punching the glass case holding a fire extingisher and later was seen boarding the team bus with said hand heavily bandaged, his arm in a sling, his status for Game 3 questionable. Defeat + anger + temper = ugly cocktail. This win was as big for Miami as Game 1 even if the margin was not. The earlier 33-point rout could be brushed off as an aberration. This was a more of a "normal" game, one that found NYK more desperate to have, and yet one the Heat controlled. Nice balance and bench tonight for the Heat, and also a second straight game in which Miami was more dangerous from 3-point land, a supposed Knicks edge in this series. Don't call this first-rounder done. Miami has only held serve. But boarding its flight tonight is a New York squad that surely must know (if not yet admit to itself) that the Heat simply is better. And not by a little. [Original post]: The Knicks' desperation in this series entering tonight's Game 2 here is reflected equally by Miami's 33-point victory in the opener and by the talk now of Jeremy Lin perhaps returning from injury as soon as Game 4 -- as if that's the golden ticket. Funny to me that anybody might think the difference for NYK between Game 1 and winning this series is the exhumation of whatever remains of Linsanity. By the way, I think coaching rarely wins an NBA game and didn't in Game 1, but Erik Spoelstra showed some coaching chops with that new-look defense that utterly stymied Carmelo Anthony, and also with the unleashing of his 3-point guys to open up the floor for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Be interesting to see both teams' adjustments for Game 2. The onus is on you, Knicks coach Mike Woodson. Remember, a suddenly available Isiah Thomas is right around the corner ready to step in. (At halftime, if necessary!) Your thoughts on tonight's game and the series are invited.
A LeBron James highlight reel: Click here for a nice 3 1/2-minute YouTube vid that reminds why LeBron James has been this season's MVP. (Heat announcer Eric Reid should renegotiate to be paid by the exclamation point).
Photos of Heat's Big 3 as kids: Passing this along might be considered mean-spirited of me, insulting to Chris Bosh, in poor taste. But since I grabbed the photo off LeBron James' official Twitter site it means LeBron and therefore the Heat find it amusing, and so my passing it along enjoys the imprimatur of good clean fun. See how that works?
Nike's idiot shoe designer: Nike's Lebron James shoe designer Jason Petrie (the two are pictured) mocked adidas client Derrick Rose after Rose's playoffs-ending knee injury Saturday, Tweeting, "you chose poorly." Perhaps Petrie should awaken to find himself Nike's former shoe designer. Of course the ESPN headline read, 'LeBron's Nike designer jeers Rose after injury,' verifying the media's continuing intention to put LeBron front and center even in controversy he has nothing to do with.
Dolfans give team's draft a grade of B, shading B-plus: I asked, in the prior blogpost, you answered, and Jeff Ireland will like the results. Those grading the Dolphins draft an "A" were at 20.5 percent, "B" 57.3%, "C" 18.1% and "D" 4.1%. That's a strong A-or-B thumbs-up from nearly 80 percent. Poll analysis: Results will play out, of course, but from a fan-perception standpoint this was a successful draft. The fact so many fans were predisposed to be pessimistic or anti-Ireland I think makes the approval that much more impressive.
THE DOLPHINS' PUBLIC PLAY FOR POPULARITY AND...: Two more Dolphin draft thoughts: 1) Selecting QB Ryan Tannehill in the first round, drafting two UM Hurricanes (Olivier Venon, Lamar Miller) and now inviting undrafted QB Jacory Harris in for a tryout all feel like decisions made with mending an unhappy fan base in mind. Doesn't make them bad decisions; you know I was for Tannehill. But I think the franchise is beginning to act with fans in mind in a way it hadn't for years. 2) The new wife of Tannehill (married in January, see photo) continues to be just unbearably perky and cute.
EXCLUSIVE! NFL PLAYERS MIGHT BE HIGH: NFL players voted for the current Top 100 that NFL Network has begun annoucing piecemeal, and in the initial blurt of players rated 91st throgh 100th we see Tim Tebow ranked 95th. Titans RB Chris Johnson is ranked 100th. Teams that would rather have Tebow than Johnson: None that I can think of. (No Dolphins in the first wave. Only Jake Long is a lock to be ranked at all).
MARLINS' ONE-MONTH SUMMARY: OY!: Baseball season has ended its first month and the Marlins' first season in the new ballpark has started off great ... if you don't count the disasterous Muhammad Ali buzzkill Opening Night ceremony, the Ozzie Gullen/Fidel Castro nightmare, and the lack of hitting that has sent the team spiraling into the NL East cellar. On the bright side, the Marlins and their MLB-worst 2-10 road record are away for the next eight straight games.
On David Samson, charity and lying: David Samson, the Marlins' president, recently ran 52.4 miles for charity. Also, Samson recently admitted in The New Yorker that he lied about the team's season-ticket sales in the old stadium (not the first lie Samson's critics would attach to him). Dear Dave: Your charitable side is great. Please take as seriously your credibility as Marlins' president.
LONDON OLYMPICS GIRDS TO THWART TERRORISTS: With the London Olympics less than three months away, some residents of the city have been told they will have British troops and surface-to-air missiles on their rooftops. Ah yes, the Olympics: Celebratring international brotherhood!
GOVERNMENT WASTE IN MIAMI-DADE: People complain (still) about how Miami-Dade couldn't afford to substantially pay for the Marlins' new ballpark. And that's fine. But when you read a story like this -- about 298 brand new vehicles bought by Miami-Dade in 2006-07 and never used -- you are reminded there are things more outrageous in terms of waste and dubious spending.
GENERALLY SPEAKING, PET OWNERS MIGHT BE NUTS: Don't get me wrong. I'm a pet owner (dog, cat). But occasionally I see examples of my kind that make me shake my head. When I see a Pomeranian wearing a designer cardigan, for example. Or when I read a headline like this. (Overheard in dating interview: "But no a-- sniffing on the first date," says the female. "I'm not that kind of dog."
DEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of the giant rubber duck that is floating around the world to promote peace. Thank you." Dear reader: OK, but I have to warn you. No way this thing gets past the Somali pirates.
THE LIST: HEAT PLAYOFF SCORING LEADERS: LeBron James' 32-point Game 1 got us wondering what have been Miami's highest individual scoring averages over an entire postseason. The top five:
Average Player Year (Games)
33.2 Dwyane Wade 2010 (5)
29.4 Wade 2009 (7)
29.1 Wade 2006 (23)
27.4 Wade 2005 (15)
26.0 Tim Hardaway 1998 (5)
Note: Others to top a 20-point average have been Wade 24.5 (2011), James 23.7 (2011), Wade 23.5 (2007), Alonzo Mourning 21.6 (1999), Mourning 21.6 (2000) and Rony Seikaly 20.7 (1992).
Click back. Will be updating and adding to this latest blogpost...
[1) It is Monday, April 30. "Stay white, Miami!" --Micky Arison, 2006. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
GRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT, TELL JEFF IRELAND HOW HE DID: Intellectually I abhor the idea of instant draft grades, knowing that it takes a couple of years and usually longer to begin to fully and fairly judge a team's bounty. On the other hand, I reside in the real world. I'm writing a blog here, not a set of encyclopedias. Don't have time to wait. I know very well that Dolfans already have an opinion on how Miami did in its 2012 draft -- they know how they feel, at least -- and I invite us to share that consensus with each other. I'll ask for an overall draft grade in the poll below based on players selected, on position-needs met and on your overall level of satisfaction. First a quick review of Miami's picks: 1st round--Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill; 2nd--Stanford OT Jonathan Martin; 3rd--Miami DE Olivier Vernon and Missouri TE Michael Egnew; 4th--Miami RB Lamar Miller; 5th--Oregon LB Josh Kaddu; 6th--Michigan State WR B.J. Cunningham; and 7th--Texas DT Kheeston Tandall and Nevada WR Richard Matthews. Most notable, to me: Selecting a QB No. 1, of course, and also using two picks on ex-Canes. Those plainly are picks meant to help the team but also to be popular with a fan base that needs to be won back. OK, judgment time. Vote, say why and check back often to monitor constantly evolving results.
HEAT-KNICKS GAME 1: NEW YORK WAS CONFIDENT. QUESTION IS, WHY?: Heat-Knicks opened the first round yesterday afternoon at the bayside gym and Miami put a 100-67 stomp on the visiors, led by ferocious defense and by 32 points from LeBron James (pictured). Click on Time Warp for my column off the game, on how the hard physicality and frayed tempers of this seres made it feel like 1997-2000 all over again. Miami had been 3-0 in series this season and Knicks haven't won a playoff game -- not a series, a game -- since 2001. Having said that, the onus was on Miami to rediscover its rhythm fast with this the first game since April 15 with the BIg 3 all back on the court together. Consider it done. Sixteen teams begin the playoffs this weekend and Miami is the only one that isn't allowed to fail. I explore that in Championship or Bust, my playoff-preview column. Heat entered postseason as betting favorite for NBA title (again), at 11-5 odds, according to Bovada, followed by Bulls 7-2, Thunder 15-4 and Spurs 9-2 -- although Derrick Rose's injury wil alter those numbers and drop Chicago. [Update: Post-Rose injury, Bovada now has Heat 3-2 faves to win title, and Bulls 15-2]. First-round pick was Heat in five games (at 8-5), although I still have a feeling NYK will push it to six. Key for Miami in this opening series could be perimeter defense against NYK's rain of 3-point shots, although that was no major factor in Game 1. Your thoughts on the opening game and on the series are invited.
STANTON FINALLY OFF THE HOME RUN SCHNEID: Marlins lost 8-4 today but big news was Giancarlo Stanton finally hitting his first home run after allmost 100 at bats, a three-run shot to center. Can you say "flood gates"? This team needs an offensive spark. Who better than Stanton to bring it.
Dolfans approve of Tannehill pick. (Well, mostly...): I asked: Do you approve of the Dolphins selecting Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill in the first round? And you answered: 59.4 percent yes, 20.8% no and 19.8% mixed emotions. Poll analysis: That's clear approval but not overwhelming. Glass half full: Yesses beat nos by almost a 3-1 margin. Glass half empty: Slightly more than 40 percent don't like the pick or have reservations. Me, I liked the pick. I think Tannehill will become a 1R-quality NFL passer. Even more strongly, I think Tannehill is very fortunate to be married to the woman with whom he is pictured.
MY MOCK DRAFT BEAT MEL KIPER'S!: This is shameless boasting, but my Mock Draft beat that of ESPN's elaborately coiffed mockgod Mel Kiper Jr. I had 27 first-round picks right overall to Mel's 26. And I had nine exactos -- right player to right team -- to Mel's seven. However, Kiper dominated me in hair-gel viscosity.
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[It is Saturday, April 28. Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
POLL: LIKE DOLPHINS' PICK OF QB RYAN TANNEHILL? VOTE NOW!
SUPER THURSDAY IN SOUTH FLORIDA!: It was all about 7 and 8 last night. Panthers with a huge playoff Game 7 here (they lost). Heat learning who'll be the 7th seed and their first-round playoff opponent (it's the Knicks). And of course Dolphins picking 8th in the NFL Draft and landing QB Ryan Tannehill. Exciting times. Click on Super Thursday for my column...
PANTHERS' ELIMINATED IN GAME 7: Florida vs. New Jersey Devils last night at the Sunrise barn in the first home-ice Game 7 in the franchise's 19-year history. Alas, Cats lost 3-2 in double-overtime, failing to achieve their first postseason series win and playoff advance since 1996. If the rats ain't flyin', the Cats'll be cryin'. Click on Not A Lost Season for my column off the game. Despite the defeat, this franchise finally mattered again in the NHL and in a tough spoerts market.
History of local-team Game 7s: Last night marked the Cats' second Game 7 (1996) but first on home ice. Marlins have had two Game 7s (1997 here vs. Indians, 2003 at Cubs). The Heat have had five Game 7s: 1997 and 2000 vs. Knicks here; 2004 vs. Hornets here; 2005 vs. Pistons here; and 2009 at Atlanta. All-time Game 7 records: Panthers 1-1, Marlins 2-0, Heat 2-3.
DOLPHINS TAKE TANNEHILL WITH NO. 8 DRAFT PICK: Miami fulfilled most speculation in last night's NFL Draft by selecting Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the club's first 1R QB since Dan Marino in 1983. It was a good choice, the one Miami had to make. Click on Mockable Me to see my entire 2012 Mock Draft. (Got Tannehill to Dolphins right...)
Dolphins' recent draft woes quantified: I did some research. (I do that once in a while). I canvassed every NFL team's drafts (rounds 1-7) from 2000 through 2011 and counted the total number of Pro Bowl seasons by players selected by that club as a gauge of teams' talent evaluation. The NFL average is 15.6 Pro Bowl seasons drafted. The leaders: Patriots with 32 and Dallas with 30. The Dolphins have 6. Only the Rams and Bucs have fewer. Miami's only drafted Pro Bowl seasons since 2000 have been three by Jake Long and one each by Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers and Yeremiah Bell.
History of the 8th pick: Miami's only previous No. 8 pick worked out OK; it was future Hall of Fame RB Larry Csonka in 1968. Zonk is one of seven 8s in the Hall, along with OT Jim Parker (1957), TE Mike Ditka (1961), WR Lance Alworth (1962), S Ronnie Lott (1981), OG Mike Munchak (1982) and OT Willie Roaf (1993). Only two other QBs had been selected 8th overall: Jim Hardy in 1945 and Jake Locker in 2011.
HEAT DRAWS NEW YORK AS KNICKS EARN NO. 7 SEED: NBA regular season wrapped up last night with Heat losing at Washington (with Big 3 resting again), but it was determined the Knicks would be 2nd-seeded Miami's first-round playoff foe starting with Game 1 here Saturday. Knicks clinched 7th seed by winning.
Miami's history as 2-seed vs. 7-seed: This will be the Heat's sixth all-time first round series as a 2-seed vs. a 7-seed. Miami is 4-1 in those series, with wins/advances in 1997 (3-2 over Orlando), 2000 (3-0 over Detroit), 2006 (4-2 over Chicago) and 2011 (4-1 over Philadelphia). The loss/elimination was in 1998 (2-3 to New York).
THE LIST: OUR BEST ATHLETES WHO HAVE WORN 7 OR 8: In honor of Super Thursday's magic numbers. And in some cases the pickings were slim...
Dolphins: Best 7 Fuad Reveiz, Best 8 Daunte Culpepper
Heat: Best 7 Shawn Marion, Best 8 Steve Smith
Marlins: Best 7 Pudge Rodriguez, Best 8 Andre Dawson
Panthers: Best 7 Dmitry Kulikov, Best 8 Valeri Bure
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[1) It is Thursday, April 26. The Beach Boys, as part of their 50th anniversary tour that comes to us next week, have released a new song called, "That's Why God Made the Radio." There it is, courtesy Stereogum. The song is pretty awful, truthfully. But I still love ya, Beach Boys! 2) Thanks to all our live-chat participants yesterday. Do it each Wednesday 1-2 p.m. Click HERE to join us then or to post questions any time. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
MOCK DRAFT: WITH EIGHT YOU GET TANNEHILL:"With Six You Get Eggroll" was a 1969 comedy film starring Doris Day and Brian Keith. "With Eight You Get Tannehill" is a 2012 NFL draft-day drama starring Ryan Tannehill and Jeff Ireland. I'd put it at around 80 percent that the Texas A&M quarterback falls to Miami at No. 8, and that if that happens it's another 80% that the Dolphins grab him. They should. It has been 29 years since this club last spent a first-round pick on a QB. Enough. Do it. You may read all 32 of my first-round picks in my annual Mock Draft, now online and in Wednesday's inky pulp editions. And thanks for making it the most-read thing on all of MiamiHerald.com today! If Miami doesn't end up with Tannheill it will be for one of two reasons: 1) He's already off the board, in which case Miami would be smart to target a receiver (thinking Michael Floyd of Notre Dame) or a pass rusher (thinking South Carolina's Melvin Ingram or North Carolina's Quintin Coples). Less wise in terms of need but also possible: Iowa OT Riley Reiff or Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox. 2) Tannehill is there and the GM Ireland simply says "nah," in which case the Dolphins will have done the seemingly impossible: Made a disgruntled fan base even angrier. Fun times! My question to you: If it isn't Tannehill, what position and/or player should the Dolphins pick first?
CATS' PLAYOFF RUN NAMED WEEK'S BIGGEST LOCAL STORY: I asked. You answered. The Panthers' playoff run garnered 38.9 percent of the vote in our latest poll to 35.8 for the Dolphins draft and 25.3 for the Heat starting the playoffs. Poll analysis: You all usually impress me (and in this case surprise me) in these polls. I'd have bet the Cats would be last, but I stressed it was not a favorite-team poll, and you listened. And had the order just right, I think. Cats after last night's loss are home Thursday vs. New Jersey in a huge Game 7 trying to do something they last did in 1996 -- win a postseason series and advance. That puts an historic spin on it. Dolphins draft is big, too (always). The vote also acknowledges the Heat is doing what is fully expected so merely starting the playoffs is not that big a deal. Smart vote.
HEAT FALL TO CELTICS IN JV GAME: There is little worse in sports than a late-season NBA game in which playoff-qualified teams are resting starters. Hence the monstrosity that was last night's Miami game at Boston. No Big 3 for Heat, no big stars for Celts, and a result that only underlined how a weak bench could be a real problem for Team Riley reaching the Finals again. It was a view of the post-Big 3 apocalypse for Miami: Dexter Pittman your leading scorer with 12 points. Dexter Pittman! One more game left before the playoffs open at home this weekend vs. the Knicks or 76ers. Then we see how well a full and (fingers crossed) healthy Heat squad that hasn't been intact for awhile can flip the switch. Meantime, LeBron James is on the cover (pictured) of the new Sports Illustrated, feathering his MVP candicacy.
HAVE YOU SLEPT WITH TIM TEBOW?: I myself have not. Perhaps you have. If so, prove that you have slept with the Jets QB who claims he is a virgin and you could win $1 million in this publicity stunt from AshleyMadison.com, the shameless infidelity website. The whole idea of Tebow as a virgin stretches credulity just a bit as I gaze upon the photo presented. If Timmy is a virgin (not that there's anything wrong with that!), let's just say he leads the league in willpower.
GISELLE BUNDCHEN UPDATE: It has come to my attention that model Giselle Bundchen has launched a new line of lingerie (pictured). Now if I told you that Patriots QB Tom Brady, her husband, enjoys wearing the lingerie as much as she does, well, that would be totally unsubstantiated and not something that anyone should ever pass along as a rumor or anything.
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[1) It is Wednesday, April 25. Dolphins waived DE Phillip Merling, the 2008 draft bust, underlining the need for pass-rush help in this week's draft. 2) It was St. George's Day. He's the patron saint of England. So there. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
Terrible Tuesday! Cats, Marlins, Heat all fall: Panthers fall in OT at New Jersey, 3-2, forcing a Thursday Game 7 back here in their NHL first-round playoff series. Marlins lose at the Mets, 2-1, the bullpen sabotaging Josh Johnson yet again. And Heat fall at Boston, 78-66, with starters resting for both sides including all of Miami's Big 3. Heat leading scorer: Dexter Pittman with 12 points. No, seriously.
WELCOME TO MIAMI'S BIGGEST SPORTS WEEK: We have begun the single greatest week of the year intersecting all four of our major pro teams. Here's why, after which a poll will invite your opinion on what the week's biggest event is. Remember this not a favorite-team vote but rather biggest-event. Vote and say why:
DOLPHINS DRAFT: The first round on Thursday night ushers in three days of the NFL draft, and the Dolphins, set to select No. 8 overall, will pick Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill if a consensus of experts' "mock drafts" proves correct. A big if, that one. Team could also target pass-rush help or a receiver to replace departed Brandon Marshall. In any case, the pressure is on GM Jeff Ireland to have a great draft and make amends for an offseason that has been a calamity of disappointment. (Watch for my annual Mock Draft online late Tuesday and in Wednesday's paper).
HEAT START PLAYOFFS: After two more games (at Boston tonight, at Washington Thursday), the Heat will begin their quest for an NBA championship when the playoffs start this coming weekend. Miami will host the first two first-round games, likely against the New York Knicks at this point in what would be a reprise of a once-great rivalry. As LeBron James soars over a presumptive MVP season, a different kind of "sore" plagues Miami, with Dwyane Wade sidelined and Chris Bosh recently out. Both should be ready for the playoffs. Better be is more like it.
PANTHERS PLAYOFF RUN: Cats are up 3-2 on the Devils in their NHL first-round series and will try to close it out tonight at New Jersey and avoid a Game 7 that would be back here on Thursday. Florida is in the playoffs for the first time since 2000 and trying to advance beyond the first round for the first time since 1996, giving the Cats' postseason run a more historic context than the Heat's fully expected appearance. (Meanwhile, the league has made Panthers stop selling rubber rats at the arena. It's an outrage! But if there's a Game 7, I have a feeling they'll show up just the same. Rat scratch fever! Power to the people!)
MARLINS: OK, it isn't as big as the playoffs or the NFL draft, but the Marlins play a three-game series at the division-rival Mets tonight through Thursday, then return home to their new ballpark for four games vs. Arizona starting Friday.
TO MAKE YOU FEEL REALLY OLD, DAN MARINO IS NOW AN AARP AMBASSADOR: Dolphins icon Dan Marino, who arrived in Miami as little more than a kid in 1983, recently turned 50 and is now the newly named "men's life ambassador" for AARP, the 50-and-older advocacy group that now goes simply by the acronym. Click on Marino Talks Health And Wellness to visit Dan's new AARP bio page, which includes a video. Click on the video. It might be the only time you get to see Marino walking on a treadmill and in his kitchern preparing a salad.
FACE OF THE PANTHERS: STEPHEN WEISS:And our blog's Face of the Franchise seres is complete as Panthers center Stephen Weiss, pictured, joins the previously elected Ozzie Guillen (Marlins), Dwyane Wade (Heat) and Jake Long (Dolphins). Weiss -- whose team plays at New Jersey Tuesday in Game 6 of a first-round NHL playoff series the Cats lead 3-2 -- dominated with 60.3 percent of the vote, overwhelming runnerup Ed Jovanovski (15.3) and GM Dale Tallon (7.5). Thanks to the thousands who voted in our four polls!
KISS-99.9 AND JONI MITCHELL: This morning I happened across a sad snippet of banter on KISS-99.9, the country radio station. They were talking about Taylor Swift maybe portraying Joni Mitchell in an upcoming movie, and none of the three banterers had heard of Joni Mitchell (despite her evidently being popular enough to be portrayed in a movie). Worse, their ignorance was utterly shameless. I felt like screaming at my radio. This isn't a generational thing. How can you work in the radio/music business and not have heard of Joni Mitchell!? (It would be like a young sports writer having never heard of Kenny Stabler or John Havlicek). You needn't be a big fan. You just need a general awareness about you. Mitchell, of course, was a popular, mainstream and immensely influential and critically acclaimed pop/folk singer in the late 1960s and through the '70s who still performs. Her hit songs included "Both Sides Now," "Woodstock" and "Big Yellow Taxi." She is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The preceding is anecdotal of why I rarely listen to the radio. I immediately pressed my CD button (escaping to Ziggy Marley), and let the blissfully ignorant KISS crew disappear into the ether.
YEREMIAH BELL TO JETS?: Waived Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell is visiting the Jets. Of course he is!
ON METTA WORLD PEACE: Did you see the Lakers' Metta World Peace earn that ejection Sunday for violenting elbowing the Thunder's James Harden? How can a player who renamed himself after World Peace behave like that. I think we should go back to calling him Ron Artest. Or better yet, A--hole.
STEER-DECORATING AT THE GAY RODEO: I occasionally like to explore the line in writing that separates acceptable from politically incorrect, and the weekend's Florida Gay Rodeo Association event in Davie offers a ripe platform. If I tried in my wise-ass Sunday notes column to get in a line such as, "Gay-rodeo events will include bull-riding, calf-roping and goat makeovers" -- which I very well might, and in fact, have -- an editor would flag is as a stereotype offensive to gays. But in the actual rodeo just held, in addition to standard events, competition included "steer decorating" and "goat dressing." So I marvel (again) how it is OK for gays to embrace their campy side -- and it should be -- but those same references by the straight media (a mention of drag queens, for example) are seen as offensive stereotypes. A gay rodeo including a steer-decorating event amounts to "having fun," but if steer-decorating is my punchline in a good-natured joke I am seen as "making fun." Interesting to me.
Click back. Will be updating and adding to this latest blogpost...
[1) It is Monday, April 23. Yesterday was Earth Day. I vaguely recall attending the first one as a kid in 1970, up around Tampa I think. This is the day when the other eight planets celebrate What-Are-We-Chopped-Liver Day. It also is the day de-planetized Pluto is known to turn morose and drink heavily. 2) Good to see UM agree to a three-year football series with FAU starting in 2013. Better if it had begun while Howard Schnellenberger was still coaching. 3) Yesterday was national Record Store Day (see more below). 4) You'd find a complete transcript of Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland's pre-draft press conference in the post directly below this new one. We were the first Miami Herald blog to bring it to you, for those scoring at home. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
CATS SHUT OUT DEVILS, ONE WIN FROM ADVANCING: Panthers 3-0 at home over New Jersey last night for a 3-2 first-round series lead in NHL playoffs. Click Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose for my column off the game on Cats goaltender Jose Theodore. Here's how inspiring the game was: It should inspire you to vote in our Panthers poll below.
FACE OF THE FRANCHISE: FLORIDA PANTHERS: Our blog's Face of the Franchise series started out as a trilogy, with the Marlins (Ozzie Guillen won), Heat (Dwyane Wade) and Dolphins (Jake Long). However,
due to popular demand -- by which I mean two email requests! -- I must respects the Cats and the rats and add the Florida Panthers. This poll might not get thousands of votes like the other three did; neverthless, Panthers fans have a right to be heard in the wake of last night's big 3-0 victory over New Jersey that gave Florida a 3-2 lead in their first-round NHL playoff series. (I'll be columnizing from the Sunrise icebarn). I leave it to you to decide what "Face of the Franchise" even means. For me it's who you think of first (from the current team) when you hear "Florida Panthers." You needn't be a diehard puckhead to vote. The perspective of casual fans may be just as good. (As for you non-fans or hockey haters, just vote for the one guy you've heard of). I'd imagine the favorite here would be Stephen Weiss, but my darkhorse is Dale Tallon. But it's your opinion that counts. The list is alphabetical. Vote now and say why.
DOLFANS SAY IT (BUT DON'T SHOUT IT): WE WANT TANNEHILL: We asked yes-or-no in our last poll if Miami should draft Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill if he is available with the No. 8 overall pick, and it was 56.87 percent yes. Interestingly to me, it was closer in the state of Florida (which includes Miami when last I checked), with the yes vote here only 54.45%. Poll analysis: The quarterback-imperative lives, but there are split feelings on Tannehill and on what position Miami should target. It suggests there will be no consensus on fan opinion Thursday night, favorable or negative, no matter who is selected.
FENWAY PARK'S CENTENNIAL: Boston marked Fenway Park's 100th birthday with yesterday's game, with players (pictured) wearing uniforms from that long-gone era. Teams increasingly use any excuse they can to trot out "throwback" unis, as the Heat do with those ghastly Floridians duds. The reason is new-merchandise sales. Funny thing, though. The throwback trend never includes throwback prices. You want me to buy a 100-year-old replica jersey? How about you charge what it would have cost in 1912!
REASON FOR MARLINS OPTIMISM: I don't worry about the Marlins. Like where they're at even one game under .500 after two straight losses in D.C. The starting pitching has been great, the number of quality starts tied for the MLB lead. When Josh Johnson finds himself and when Jose Reyes, Gaby Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton start hitting -- and I count those as whens, not ifs -- this will be a very good team.
WADE HURTS FINGER IN LOSS: The chances for the No. 2 seed all but mathematically erased, the Heat now must also deal with Dwyane Wade's minor finger injury on his left hand, incurred last night. Ity could keep him out of the last three games of the regular season, but he expresses confidence he'll be ready for the playoffs starting next weekend. However, it's just one more reason a heat fans might be (slightly) less than confident about a Miami championship. Meanwhile, the only way LeBron James does not win the MVP award is if the league puts Cavs owner Dan Gilbert in charge of vote tallying.
JIMMY JOHNSON SPEAKS. WELL, TWEETS: The ex-Cowboys and Canes coach had a couple of interesting Tweets (@JimmyJohnson) worth sharing. He was asked if nothing, not even a piece of a team's ownership, would get him back into coaching, and said, "Got that right." He was asked whom he'd like to see as the new coach at his alma mater Arkansas, and said, "Butch Davis." Jimmy might be the most honest coach I have ever covered. Coaches today known for candor -- thinking Stan Van Gundy, thinking Ozzie Guillen -- had their blueprint in J.J.
HAPPY RECORD STORE DAY!: It was Record Store Day on Saturday, a day meant to celebrate and promote local, smaller record stores, the ones that typically deal heavily in vinyl and in indie artists. I haunt these places whenever and wherever I can. My favorite of all is Grimey's New & Preloved Music in Nashville. My favorite local spot is Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale. Heard a rumor that punk pioneer and blog favorite Iggy Pop (pictured) was hanging out yesterday at Sweat Records in Miami.
DEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of a Chinese farmer covered with 331,000 bees in an attempt to set a world record. Thank you." (Related story here). My question: Who counts the bees?
MORMON 'MAGIC UNDERWEAR': I have no problem with Mitt Romney wearing the type of Mormon "magic underwear" pictured. In fact I have no problem with Romeny wearing any type of underwear he wishes, with the possible exception of a leopard-print thong.
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[1) It is Saturday, April 21. Pictured is a Fidel Castro cake. Ozzie Guillen has absolutely no comment whatsoever. 2) R.I.P., Levon Helm of The Band, gone at 71. 3) Our friend Brendan Benson drops his fifth solo album this coming Tuesday the 24th. Click What Kind Of World to hear the title track, courtesy popmatters.com. 4) Is it just me, or does Ted Nugent's extremist, us-against-them political rhetoric beg the notion that he might be a moron? 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
Kickoff for Dolphins' Sept. 16 home opener vs. Oakland moved from 4:15 to 1 p.m. to accomodate fans celebrating Rosh Hashana.
DOLPHINS DRAFT DILEMMA, THY NAME IS TANNEHILL: I wrote this column in support of the Dolphins selecting Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the NFL Draft next week with the No. 8 overall pick. It was the most-read thing on all of MiamiHerald.com, but I also know from my emails that many Dolfans do not agree with me. And of course disagreement, to me, is the petri dish from which polls grow! Forget trade-ups or trade-downs. While there is a possibility Tannehill (pictured) will be drafted sooner (Browns? Jaguars?), the likelier reality is that he will be there when Miami is on the clock and that GM Jeff Ireland will face the very same decision I am presenting to you today. Which way would you go? Which way should the Dolphins go if it comes down to this simple choice? Vote and say why. (And check back often to monitor evolving results. Competitive vote!)
HEAT FANS HAVE SPOKEN: WIN OR ELSE, SPOELSTRA: Heat beat visiting Chicago last night 83-72 in what could be an Eastern Conference finals preview. Against this backdrop, results of our recent poll show most Heat fans think the team should make or consider a coaching change if Erik Spoelstra does not deliver an NBA championship in Year 2 of the Big 3. To that question, 41.7 percent said "yes" to a change if no title, 29.1% said "worth considering," 25.9% said "no" and 3.2% were undecided. Of course the only vote that counts is Pat Riley's, but we all can use a little advice, right?
STAY WHITE, MIAMI!: Heat announced it will return to "White Hot" as its playoff color theme. Each year is white, red or black, and white was the theme during the 2006 championship run, after which owner Micky Arison, addressing thousands of parade celebrants, famously misspoke, "Stay white, Miami!" The team's 2012 color theme is pictured at left.
IRELAND'S PRE-DRAFT TRANSCRIPT: Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland met the media Thursday for his pre-draft news conference. We were the first Miami Herald blog to bring you the complete transcript. Here it is:
Opening Statement - “Just a few opening remarks. I got a staff upstairs that is outstanding. I just wanted to thank them. It’s a job to them but they’re tireless workers. Between my scouts, Brian Gaine, Chase Leshin, Chris Grier in particular the last three months, in particular, these guys have been here a bunch. February meetings for two weeks, the combine for two weeks, on the road constantly during the Pro Days and chasing down players, in particular the last three weeks with two Miami Days. 7am – 9 pm meetings basically every single day the last three weeks. I need to thank Joe (Philbin) and his staff. We’ve had some great sessions. It’s been great to get to know his staff and we challenge each other. We’ve challenged the staff. We challenged the coaches for vision for the players to help us get a vision to help utilize the players we put on the board. I need to thank Steve (Ross) for giving us all the resources that we have to turn over every stone. That’s our policy and philosophy but a lot of guys upstairs I just wanted to thank and just wanted to start that with opening comments. But we just finished up the board. Basically yesterday and we’re ready draft. So just now strategy and more preparation.”
On how different it’s been developing the board with a new Coaching Staff - “Not too much different. My philosophy doesn’t change too much. Having Joe (Philbin), Joe’s been in a couple of draft rooms. He’s been around the Green Bay Packers, my philosophy’s not too much different then maybe Ted’s (Thompson). We grind out the draft. Believe in the draft. Believe in the development of young players. Believe in bringing young players onto the team every single year so you know it’s getting the staff. You know getting to use the same terminology more or less to what out scouts are using so an average comment to them is the same as an average comment to us. And it’s getting us all on the same terminology and making sure the coaches understand the division is what we’re looking for. How do you utilize the player? How does he utilize him on special teams? What kind of nickel role does he have on third down and things like that? Just having a clear vision for the player.”
On how important the second and third round picks are - “I think all the picks are extremely important but certainly second, third, fourth round picks, I mean those guys need to be either starters or significant role players. I’m a firm believer that you can find talent in the fifth, sixth and seventh and obviously free agency. So every pick, there’s a lot of thought that goes into each and every one of them. I’m maybe stubborn enough to think I can hit on every single one of them. So, we spent a lot of time this time of the year on fifth, sixth and seventh round and free agency. Those guys are up there right now grinding away at the free agent board as well.”
On how he’s done on those rounds since he’s been here - “I’ve got some good guys and some guys are still developing I would say (Charles) Clay and Reshad Jones and Chris Clemmons. Those guys are still here and they’re still developing. I think we drafted a kid last year in the seventh round, Jimmy Wilson, that I think is going to be a pretty good player.”
On specifically how he’s done in the second and third round - “Well, I mean time will tell with John Jerry and Koa (Misi). So Pat Turner’s still playing in the league. He’s not on our roster, he’s still playing in the league so we’ve got to do a pretty good job this year. I’m looking more in the future than in the past.”
On if he keeps the Number 8 pick if that player has to make an impact this season - “Not necessarily. I mean an impact. You like to be able to say that he’d be an impact player this year. But you also have to have a vision for the player whether or not he’s going to play this year or next year or the year after that. Certainly that would be the expectation of a top 10 pick is to have an impact on this team.”
On his approach to free agency and how that had to marry with the draft - “Well with free agency I think, again, it’s a process. You have to look at the free agency board and the dollars that you’re going to have commit to free agency versus what you might be able to get in the draft. Value’s important to me and again the draft is extremely important because I think that’s the best investment in professional sports to be honest with you is the draft. Getting young players that have upside and development, but the free agency I’m trying to build depth. I’m trying to bring depth to the football team, at least this year that’s my philosophy. I think free agency changes, depending on the situation that you’re in from year to year. But this year it was trying to provide some depth at certain positions and not have to feel like you’re pressured into making any need decisions in the draft.”
On putting the emphasis on depth when developing the draft board - “Well, it depends. You’re putting your first and second, third round, those are the ones you think that can come in right away and make an impact or start or have a significant role in the nickel. And your fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh are your developmental guys or role players. So you have to have a vision for the player. Not every fourth round is going to have the same exact vision. Some guys are fourth rounder’s maybe nickel players. Some fourth rounder’s may be developmental guys. There’s going to be some guys that you want on your team and you have to put them there because that’s where you think you’re going to have to get them.”
On his philosophy of free agency and finding starter type guys - “I would say that yeah, we need to get some starter types in the draft. I would certainly say that you certainly do. Moving forward I don’t know if I understood your question the move forward.”
On free agency depth putting pressure to find draft starters - “Well yeah sure. It puts a lot of emphasis on trying to find starters. That’s what we’re trying to do with every draft. You’re trying to find starters and impact players in every draft.”
On what he’s learned about Ryan Tannehill - “I spent a lot of time with a lot of players to be honest with you. I wouldn’t put a whole lot of stock into any one particular player. Almost 29, almost 30 guys into the building in the last couple of weeks and spent quite a bit of time on the road. But what I learned specific about Ryan (Tannehill) is he’s a great kid. Great kid. He’s smart. He’s tough. Got a good family background. A lot of good things about Ryan.”
On his emotions this time of year - “Excitement to be honest with you. I’m excited. This is my second favorite time of the year. First being the first day of training camp. I love that aspect of it. But I love this time of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed the Miami Day process a couple of days ago watching guys move around in shorts and do football drills with our coaching staff. That was exciting. But just excitement. I do wake up in the middle of night thinking, I have a notepad next to my bed, that I don’t want to forget about it. I’ll write it down or type it into my phone or something, but certainly excitement. Just excited to get this process going and wake up every morning excited about, we do pretty much a position a day. We take the entire day until, we start early and we end late regardless of when that positions over we’re going to stay here and get that position done so I wake up the next morning going, okay we got quarterbacks today or we got linebackers today or we got corners today so there’s certainly excitement there to try to attack that position that day.”
On balancing best player available versus filling team needs - “Everybody thinks that you draft like, well this players better than this player is better player. But that’s really not the way you do it. You do it horizontally. You have an expectation horizontally. That’s the way I look at it. I don’t look at vertically. I look at it horizontally. And you put an expectation on the round and when the best players marries to the need position and they’re in the same area then that’s probably when you probably take need over best player but usually they marry together. Usually they marry together and you kind of stack your board to the strength of the position. And you may attack certain positions earlier in the draft because there’s lack of depth in the draft.”
On how often he feels a franchise should use a first round pick on a quarterback - “When there’s one available. I mean that’s tough question. That’s kind of a loaded question to be honest with you.”
On if a healthy franchise should do draft a quarterback in the first round every few years - “I can’t say for the years in the past or the other teams that are involved with selecting quarterbacks. Certainly I’m not going to get into the quarterback discussion here today from the strategy stand point but I think there are times that you should try to go after one but I certainly don’t feel like you should be pressured into doing that either.”
On the strength of wide receiver group, especially the first few rounds - “Well I think it’s a pretty good group. Receivers, you can look at, and we had this discussion in our draft room when we were doing receivers is that they come in all shape and sizes. There’s always an exception to the rule when it comes to receivers. You can find them in the first round. You can find them in free agency. You can find them anywhere and they come sometimes they’re 5’8” and sometimes they’re 6’5”. Sometimes they run 4.6 and sometimes they run 4.3. And there’s more of the receiver positions on your board them any other position just because there’s more of them. And so I think there’s strength if you’re picking in the first round. I’ll have a pretty good stack board at receiver throughout my board. I can tell you that. I think it’s a pretty good position this year to be honest with you.”
On what other positions are strong this year and what are some positions not too strong - “Well some guys, again I got this question the other day, some people would say that the strength means that there’s more first round caliber guys. My way of looking at is I got one pick in every round basically. Am I going to have an opportunity to take one if I miss him in the first, second or third. So I look at strength of the draft and basically how my board falls and where I might be able to find key target positions in the draft. So other positions that I think are strong I think it’s a pretty good defensive line. When we’re talking defensive line I’m talking about defensive end, three technique, one technique, five technique. I think it’s a pretty good group of guys. I think the offensive line groups are a fairly good group too. I don’t think center is the most deepest in the draft but I think the guard and tackle positions pretty good too.”
On if he’s looking for different players due to the change in coaching staff - “I think at some positions we’re looking for different types of skill sets. I’ve always been big, strong, fast. That’s what I’m looking for and big, strong, fast and intelligent. But now in some cases you’re looking for a little bit different player versus the run or a little different player in a nickel situation or coverage situation. Some guys would be protected by a three technique from the linebackers standpoint so I think there are some cases that we’re looking for different types of players but it’s not complete offensive ‘D’. We’re not looking for completely different types of players on offense and defense.”
On the offensive line - “Not necessarily. I think Jim (Turner) and Mike (Sherman) and Joe (Philbin) are still looking for big, strong, athletic type for offensive linemen.”
On how do you measure heart - “You know, that’s a tough one. You wish you could bottle up some of these guys and sometime you feel it. I always tell player you reach in your pocket for two cents because I’m going to give you my two cents of advice whether you like it or not. I always try to tell them a little bit about we have this thing called the makeup. Basically, I ask my scouts to grade the ability of the player and the make of the player. Pretty simple and I ask them grade their ability in a system. Let’s say 1 through 10, you’re a 9.5. You’re an 8.6. The makeup of the player I’m trying to grade whether he has it or not. It’s passion. It’s heart. It’s toughness. It’s competitiveness. It’s football intelligence. It’s integrity. It’s character. It’s a yes or no answer. Either you have them all or you don’t and some of those you can develop and some you can’t. And that’s the way my scouts answer that question. It’s a yes or no. Does he have all or he doesn’t? If he’s missing one of those, he doesn’t because that’s a margin of failure. And so that doesn’t answer your question, on how you rate heart, but it’s more than just heart. It’s the entire makeup of the person allows a player to be successful.”
On having a philosophy of trading down in the draft - “It’s hard. It depends on what you’re going to get in return. Everyone say they use this draft calculator or trade down sheet. I think that’s really ambiguous to be honest. You use it as a starting point. But it depends on the person that’s coming up. The team that’s coming up and what they’re willing to give up and how bad do they want it and how bad you want to keep it. So if you’re trading back you’re certainly looking for value. You’re looking to get more than what you think the pick is worth. Sometimes, it’s future. I traded back in Dallas for future first-round picks and things like that. I think it’s just the matter of the circumstance and it has to be the right circumstance.”
On considering trading up in the first round this year - “I think anything is possible. Sure, anything’s possible trading back, trading up.”
On how important is it to have back-to-back picks in the third round - “I think it’s extremely valuable. It gives us a little bit more time to make decisions. And it’s an extra pick and having them back-to-back somewhat high in the third round extremely valuable.”
On what is the atmosphere like in the War Room - “Anticipation. Again, excitement. Depends on the guy you think is going to be there. Obviously, there could be a scramble. I’ve been in a couple of scrambles before. It’s always interesting. You’re picking high in the draft and so every pick leading up to that is anticipation obviously.”
On how do you evaluate your draft history in Miami - “Well, it’s a team effort. Bill (Parcells) and I conducted a couple drafts together. I’ve conducted one here solely by myself with my team upstairs obviously. Certainly, I’m not responsible for all of it. When you look back and you made some good picks. Depends on how you look at it. If you look at the future or past of the draft and you say 50-55% and you say if you can be 50% in the draft over a period of time, you’ve done pretty good. I think where we were when we started to where we are now we’ve done a pretty good job of adding some talent to this football team. Certainly I’m not saying I hit on every single one because I haven’t. There’s no doubt about that. Some I have taken some risk on and hit. And some I have taken some risk on and didn’t work out so good, but that’s just part of the draft.”
On drafting different types of player compared to what you’re accustomed to drafting- “Well, I think the first couple of years we were here I think trying to build the foundation, which would be offensive line, defensive line was a big hole for this franchise, for this team and so I think that was the main purpose of doing some of the things early was getting the offensive line and defensive line set and then as we matured our team adding skill to the football team was important last year in particular coming out of the 2010 season. I think we needed to add some speed on the football team, some playmakers. We had some really good possession type offensive skill set, but we needed some explosive playmakers. That was glaring to me last year. Certainly, I have some glaring things that hitting me in the face this year, which I won’t get into strategy and tell you what those things are, but I got some things I feel certainly confident about that we can probably approach here in the next week.”
On if his board is set now and he know what he wants to do – “Yes.”
On when did you finalize your draft board - “Last night at 11:47, no (laughing).”
On have you changed anything since you finalized your draft board - “The board is set. The board is in its place. I wouldn’t say it’s completely set. Do I know what I want at eight? I have a pretty good feeling at what I want at eight. If the player is not there at eight I have got a pretty good idea of what I want if that player is not there. You have to have a contingency plan and a contingency plan to the contingency plan. So how many times have I changed my mind? Every time I see another good player that’s a consideration at eight, I’m like ‘woo’ that would be a good player to have. I think there’s some really good players in this year’s draft, especially in the top 10. I think some really impact players.”
On knowing what your needs are this year - “Yeah, absolutely. To me, I think they’re pretty glaring to me and so I haven’t really changed too much what I’m looking for in this year’s draft. I think you go into every draft looking for core position players. You’re looking for guys that can make an impact and certain guys that can block premier pass rushers and guys that can make big plays down the field. Create big plays on defense. You’re looking for those types of guys.”
On a player not flourishing on college level, but flourishing in the professional level - “Depends on what me and my staff upstairs feel. If we feel that’s the case, then we wouldn’t draft him. But I’m not going to worry about the gurus out there feel about a player. Depends on what we’re talking about. Are we talking about in the third round or the first round? (laughing) Certainly, if I feel like that and my staff feels like that, then he’s probably not a consideration at eight.”
On considering offensive linemen impact players - “Do I consider offensive line impact player? Let’s see, it depends if it’s the right guy. Yeah certainly, I would consider him an impact player. A guy could start 16 games every single year and Pro Bowler, I think that’s a pretty impactful player, sure.”
On how impactful is a player’s stock increase or decrease prior to the draft - “Tough. To me, that doesn’t change a whole lot. To my staff, that doesn’t change a whole lot. We start the process and it’s a good question because soon as my scouts get on the road in the middle of December without any time 40s or combine workouts. We sit there and watch the tape. We put a football grade on them. Put them on the board and then we’ll do it again in February after the bowl process so we watched these guys as a group, graded them as a group, evaluated them haven’t necessarily gone through the checks and balances of the character and some of that stuff. We’ll put a football grade on them. I would say very few, very few change drastically from December, February to April.”
On how high can a player rise in the draft after the college season - “We have a couple of guys like we had a fifth round grade on and jump to a third round. There’s some guys that maybe didn’t have some of the production in 2011 that they did in 2009 and 2010. So best time of the year from February to April gives us an opportunity to really search back and their Sophomore seasons and their Junior seasons to really to really kind of grind in on some of that stuff you’re going through, and the scouts on the road they really not getting the opportunity to sit down and grind the past years and so that’s when guys will start rising when you get the chance to really get deep into their production from years past.”
MARLINS 'NAME-THAT-THING' CONTEST: The Miami Herald is running a "Name That Thing" contest to bestow a proper nickname upon what is now blandly, generically called "the home run sculpture" (pictured) at Marlins Park. Click here to enter the contest. I've got dibs and a patent pending on "The Green Monstrosity." I also like "Bubba."
PANTHERS LOSE 4-0, SERIES TIED: First-round Game 4 last night in Jersey and Panthers got spanked 4-0, tying series with Devils at 2-2. Florida seeking its first postseason series win and playoff advance since 1996 and back home for Game 5 Saturday. Click here to help set the mood for the next puck drop.
DOLPHINS SIGN LES BROWN: The Dolphins announced they have signed tight end Les Brown. Brown was a famous big-band leader (pictured) in the 1940s and '50s, although there always is the possibility that was a different Les Brown.
PORN SITE VISITORS PREFER CHASE UTLEY'S WIFE: The website Pornhub asked patrons to name the sexiest baseball wife and a news release indicates that Jennifer Utley (pictured; wife of the Phillies' Chase) was leading with 14 percent. Jen seems a bit wholesome and girl-next-doory -- by which I mean not nearly buxom enough -- for what I imagine to be the tastes of most porn site devotees, but who am I to question? I'm still trying to figure how I ended up on Pornhub's email list for the news release. Must be a total coincidence!
DEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo to convey what it would be like if primates rallied into a massive worldwide army and set out to attack the human race. Thank you." Dear reader: These 'Dear Greg' requests keep getting more and more ridiculous and impossible to oblige.
WELCOME TO F--KING, AUSTRIA: Click here. This is a blog. Could I say it if it weren't true?
Click back. Will be updating and adding lots more to this latest blogpost...
[1) It is Thursday, April 19. R.I.P., Dick Clark (pictured), gone at 82, a major figure in the growth of American pop music culture. 2) Happy birthday, Charlie Chaplin. He'd have turned 123 this week. 3) This new project by Jack White looks interesting. In other music news, Tupac Rises From the Dead. 4) I think Bobby Valentine might be crazy. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
SHOULD SPOELSTRA'S JOB DEPEND ON HEAT WINNING TITLE THIS SEASON?: Here's a theory that is not unreasonable. Last season was a mulligan. With all the turmoil and adjustments and intense scrutiny of Year 1 of the Big 3 era, reaching the NBA Finals and losing was acceptable. Not now. Now, in Year 2, winning it all is a must, or the Grand Plan will begin to feel like a disappointment and the idea of any sort of dynasty will feel like wishful thinking. Today's question (and poll): Should Erik Spoelstra's job depend on it? If you were Pat Riley, should you consider a coaching change if this season falls short again? Don't get me wrong. I think Spoelstra is a bright young coach. But is he the right coach to get the most out of this dream team? I'm not stirring up trouble here, just inviting a consensus. The poll results could be a vote of confidence for Spoelstra, I have no idea. So tell me, and tell each other. Vote now and say why. (And check back often to monitor evolving results. Close vote early on...).
TEBOW BLESSES WADE: Heat star Dwyane Wade was blessed to be in the direct proximity of Jets quarterback Tim Tebow and his magical aura at Sunday night's Yankees game in Da Bronx (see photo), with both wearing matching NY caps given them by a PR hack. They began seated one row apart but ended up elbow to elbow, the suggestion of divine intervention. Yankees fan, who would boo a puppy on Christmas morning, booed when Tebow was shown. Wade too was understandably booed -- he'd help beat the Knicks hours earlier -- but turned the jeers to obedient, Pavlovian cheers when he held up the Yankees cap. Miami's win over the Knicks, a possible first-round playoff opponent, means the lurching, roller-coastering emotions of Heat fans are "up" again, pending the results of this Thursday's next game in the endless litmus parade, a homie vs. Chicago. Wait. I just noticed that in the photo Wade and Tebow's sleeves appear to be touching, a direct contact that Biblical scholars say is tantamount to a poor man's Papal blessing.
Click on Jeff Van Ranty for a video of Jeff Van Gundy's comically irate rant against a "flop" by the Heat's James Jones during yesterday's Knicks game. The cartoon-y outrage starts about 30 seconds in.
AS MARLINS RETURN TO THE LAND OF OZ, HERE IS A PHOTOSHOPPED PICTURE OF FIDEL CASTRO EMBRACING OZZIE GUILLEN. IT'S FAKE! IT NEVER REALLY HAPPENED! IT ISN'T MEANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!:[Marlins beat Cubs last night, 5-2, on 3-run Hanley Ramirez homer in 8th]. Well I just found this photo funny and thought you might, too. (OK, not all of you). The Blizzard Of Oz returned tonight from his five-game suspension for comments favorable to Fidel. I hoped the baseball action inside the ballpark vs. the Cubbies was more interesting than any demonstrative action outside the gates, and it was. No protests and a big home win. Good combo. (In other Marlins news, a dead bird fell in the outfield to spark Sunday's home rally over Houston. National NBA writers are trying to figure a way to blame the bird's death on LeBron James).
Click HERE for 3-minute sneak preview of Showtime's "The Franchise" summer reality series starring the Marlins. (About 40 seconds in, the handsome guy in the red ballcap is Herald beat writer Clark Spencer).
DOLPHINS COULD GO 11-5. NO, SERIOUSLY!: I have scrutinized the Dolphins' schedule, out last evening, and I count 11 very winnable games. I would not fool you about a subject this grave. My very winnable games, in sequence: Sep. 16 vs. Raiders; Sep. 23 vs. Jets; Sep. 30 at Cardinals; Oct. 7 at Bengals; Oct. 14 vs Rams; Nov. 4 at Colts; Nov. 11 vs. Titans; Nov. 15 at Bills; Nov. 25 vs. Seahawks; Dec. 16 vs. Jaguars; and Dec. 23 vs. Bills. One other quick observation: 1) No Monday night games and only one in prime-time (a Thursday).
PANTHERS END 15-YEAR NHL PLAYOFF HEX, WIN STUNNER AT JERSEY: I can get jaded, so I must admit it was special being in the Sunrise icebarn Sunday night as the Panthers won a playoff game for the first time since 1997, powered (fittingly) by two goals from Stephen Weiss, the club's all-time games-played leader appearing in his first Stanley Cup playoffs. Click on Weiss' Perfect Smile for my column off that game. Cats also rather stunningly took Game 3 last night at NJ, rallying from a three-goal hole to a 4-3 win and 2-1 series lead. It was Florida's first playoff road win since Game 7 of the '96 conference finals. Rats redux?
McSHAY ON UM DRAFT PROSPECTS: ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay did a national media conference call yesterday. Here is his response (condensed) to a question about Miami Hurricanes draft prospects:
Question: This year they're saying possibly nine guys could be drafted, maybe more. Other than Lamar Miller, out of the guys going early, Tommy Streeter, Olivier Vernon, Brandon Washington, Marcus Forston and Lamar, who are the ones that have the most potential. And will Jacory Harris be drafted?
Answer: "Jacory, I doubt it. He played better this past year, but the inconsistency jumps out, and the turnovers and just not protecting the football. He's still kind of slight-framed and there are durability concerns. But he has enough arm talent, so it's not to say he won't one day land on a roster if he's able to continue to develop. Nine guys from Miami, I have to count. Travis Benjamin I would say yes, that's one. Chase Ford has a chance late as a sleeper. LaRon Byrd is in that same category -- there's a chance, but I'm not saying he really has a good chance to get drafted. I would take a chance on him in the last couple rounds. Marcus Forston makes it two (who'll be drafted); Lamar Miller, three; Adewale Ojomo is kind of on the fringe; Sean Spence is five; Streeter, six; Vernon, seven; Washington, eight. So you could see as many as nine guys going. It wouldn't shock me. But I probably a safe bet is seven. Olivier Vernon of all those guys after Miller is the most intriguing to me. Tommy Streeter there's a lot of interest because of the height, weight and speed, and certainly he's a great athlete and has more potential than we've seen him do at Miami, but the tape just doesn't match up with what I see. I would have a hard time drafting him in the first four rounds, even though there's a strong chance he goes somewhere in that third or fourth-round range. But Vernon, I think he's a better player than maybe the perception, and at 6'3", 262, I think he played end, can play outside linebacker, can do a little of both. He's not a great athlete, and his production didn't always match up, and I've heard some things -- is he mature enough, how does he work and all those things. But if he is focused and doing the right things and 100 percent dedicated, he's well built, solid, strong, shows some quickness, and has a chance to make an impact as a pass rusher at the next level."
FACE OF THE DOLPHINS: JAKE LONG: (Dolphins, why the Long face?) Thus concludes our blog's Face of the Franchise trilogy. We began with the Marlins and Ozzie Guillen (pre-Fidelgate) edged Hanley Ramirez. Continued with the Heat and of course Dwyane Wade dominated. The Dolphins vote to me was much less predictable and in a close tally in the previous blogpost the tackle Long edged running back Reggie Bush 23.9 percent to 22.3, with GM Jeff Ireland third among nine choices with 14.7. Poll analysis: I think y'all made a solid, justifiable choice in Long. But I also think your Face of the Franchise being an offensive tackle is accurately indicative of a faceless, star-challenged team.
SHENISE JOHNSON SETS UM DRAFT RECORD: Hurricanes' Shenise Johnson was drafted fifth overall this week by San Antonio in the WNBA Draft, highest ever for a UM woman. (Tamara James was taken eighth overall in 2006). Canes teammate Riquna Williams drafted 17th overall (fifth in second round) by Tulsa. Much will be expected; Tulsa's record last season was 3-31. Pictured, as a gesture of silent mourning, the logo of the Miami Sol, our short-lived WNBA franchise from 2000-02.
POOR PENNY CARSON: I just saw Poor Penny Carson, the intersection preacher with the dummy (pictured), at the intersection of University Drive and Peters Road in Plantation. I believe he is a celebrity of sorts among intersection preachers with dummies. Google Poor Penny Carson to see what I mean.
VICTORIA'S SECRET MARLINS STUFF NO LONGER A SECRET: Vicoria's Secret model Elsa Hosk stopped by Miami's Dolphin Mall to model the chain's new line of Marlins-related stuff. Here's Elsa now looking unbearably perky-cute.
ON JACKIE ROBINSON: I admire Jackie Robinson, baseball's color-barrier breaker, and like that MLB honors him every year (as it did again Sunday). But every player on every team wearing No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day is overkill and a bit silly, not to mention confusing. Who's gonna say it if not me?
FIU MINES THE BLOODLINES: FIU has replaced sh--canned basketball coach Isiah Thomas with Richard Pitino, 29, the son of accomplished Louisville coach Rick Pitino. That's on the heel of FIU's hiring of new soccer coach Kenny Arena, son of former U.S national coach Bruce Arena. In other FIU news, football coach Mario Cristobal is given 5-1 odds by Bovada to replace fired Bobby Petrino at Arkansas. Only Gus Malzahn (5-2), Garrick McGee (3-1) and Skip Holtz (7-2) are speculated as more likely replacements. FIU loves Cristobal despite his not being the son of a famous coach.
VOLUPTUOUS ATHLETE WIVES(one in a series): Meet Syndal Gorden, pictured right, former star of a reality TV series about wedding dresses and married to Marlins relief pitcher Chad Gaudin. When Chad has a bad day on the mound, these mounds are where he finds relief. Can I say that in a blog? (I guess I can!)
TITANIC, FENWAY CENTENNIALS: The RMS Titanic sank 100 years ago Sunday. Fenway Park opened 100 years ago this coming Friday. Coincidence?
THE THREE STOOGES: Fresh light shines on the slapstick group The Three Stooges thanks to the eponymous new movie. Moe, Curly and Larry are pictured at left. (Quick shout-out to Shemp as well. Nyuk, nyuk). The group's heyday was before my time and I was never a huge fan, but I do think they were underappreciated and am glad for the new film. Of course the other famous Stooges were the punk band fronted by Iggy Pop. Saw Iggy at the Cameo Theater on Miami Beach years ago, once owned a "Lust For Life" T-shirt, and always loved the poster at right incongruously combining Stooges.
POLITICAL QUESTION...: Question: Is it possible that American politics would ever discover a major presidential candidate who was more robotic and less life-like than even Al Gore? Answer: See right.
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[1) Today is Sunday, April 15. Thoughts for Robin Gibb. 2) Hope all you triskaidekaphobes had a survivable Friday the 13th. Also you paraskevidekatriaphobes and friggatriskaidekaphobes. Irrational fear is a freaky thing, although I suspect the supersitition surrounding Friday the 13th might be a client-getting invention of the American Psychological Association. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. It is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
"Face of the Dolphins" poll is at end of this blogpost
TRIPLEHEADER: PANTHERS AND MARLINS AND HEAT, OH MY!: I cannot ever remember this happening: the Panthers, Marlins and Heat all playing a home game not only on the same day but concurrently, with all three events notable for very different reasons. (It actually last happened on April 14, 2002 -- 10 years ago tomorrow -- for those scoring at home). It was a great day/night to be a sports fan in South Florida, countering the unluckiness some might associate with a Friday the 13th.
I was calling last night History, History & Hysteria. Panthers made history by ending their record playoff drought. Marlins made history by embarking on their first full homestand in the new ballpark. And Heat were fighting off the hysteria of growing concern about their championship potential. The locals went 2-1. Unfortunately the only loser was the team in the playoffs. It's a smorgasbord! All you can eat! Enjoy...
Panthers end record-long postseason drought (Cats lose to New Jersey 3-2 in Game 1 of NHL first-round playoff series) -- Florida last played a playoff hockey game on April 20, 2000, 12 years ago less a week. That ignominy ended with a flurry at the puck-drop last night. The icebarn in Sunrise is where I was, columnizing. Hey, it's the Stanley Cup playoffs, eh! When you wait 12 years, that makes something practically an historic occasion. Click on Twelve Years to Prepare But Still Not Ready? for my column off the game. Click on The Beards Are Back In Town for my earlier preview column. Pictured: Center Stephen Weiss, who has played a club-record 637 games for the Panthers and last night played his first in the postseason.
Marlins begin first homestand under Ozzie/Fidel cloud (Miami launches Opening Weekend with 11-inning 5-4 win over Astros) -- Manager Ozzie Guillen remains on his five-game suspension for incendiary comments complimentary of Cuban oppressor Fidel Castro. I've said my piece on this, in a column and two previous blogposts, but suffice to say the brouhaha is not over in the minds of many in the Cuban exile community. The Marlins were trying to shake off both the controversy and a slow (2-5) start. Pictured: Ricky Nolasco, tonight's Marlins starter.
Heat shake off Bulls loss, seek to find momentum (Miami whips hapless Charlotte Bobcats, 105-82) -- We don't need Charles Barkley or that OT loss in Chicago to tell us the Bulls are a better or at least more complete team than the Heat right now. And considering the playoffs start soon, that's troubling. Miami thoroughly drilled dreadful Charlotte as expected, but the bigger question remains: Can the Heat win the NBA championship? Pictured: LeBron James, whose team even with last night's win has lost six of its past 12 games overall and eight of 11 on the road, despite his MVP-type season.
FACE OF THE FRANCHISE: MIAMI DOLPHINS. VOTE HERE: We wrap up our blog's Face of the Franchise trilogy now with the toughest call of the three, the Dolphins. We started with the Marlins, and Ozzie Guillen (pre-Castro mess) edged Hanley Ramirez for the title. We continued with the Heat and it was a predictable win for Dwyane Wade. But the Dolphins? I don't know that there is a favorite among the eight current-team candidates I've listed alphabetically, underlining the Fins' plight as something of a faceless franchise. Use your own definition of what the "face of a franchise" even means. Biggest star? Person who best represents the team? Is longevity a factor? For me it is the person who comes to mind first when you think "Dolphins." And for me the face of a franchise demands a national perspective, not just local. No write-ins for Dan Marino or Don Shula, please. Remember, we're looking for the current face. Vote now and say why. (Close vote so far so check back often for updated results. Fairly high percentage for "somebody else." Who'd I leave out? Karlos Danby? Brian Hartline?)
UM SPRING GAME (GET WELL SOON, STEPHEN MORRIS): This jumps out at me from today's spring-football-ending Hurricanes scrimmage: Three quarterbacks combined for four interceptions and zero TDs on only 33-of-60 accuracy, with Ryan Williams throwing two of those picks. Stephen Morris missed the spring following back surgery but saw his status as QB frontrunner only enhanced.
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[1) It is Thursday, April 12. Only two starts, yeah, but after last night Marlins ace Josh Johnson has now gven up 21 hits in 9 2/3 innings. 2) Musical treat du jour: Bonnie Raitt lays a reggae vibe on Gerry Rafferty's Right Down the Line. 3) George Zimmerman to be tried for second-degree murder in shooting of Trayvon Martin. Grass-roots outrage brings justice closer. 4) Did a spot with Tony Kornheiser on his national radio show. Tony's intro music for segment on Ozzie Guillen: "I'm Sorry" by Brenda Lee. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
Vote continues on impact of Ozzie's gaffe: Still welcoming your votes on the very popular poll on the impact of Ozzie Guillen's Castro mess. Find it in our blogpost just below this newest one.
A TEST FOR MIAMI NOW. TIME TO FORGIVE, MOVE FORWARD: My latest column, Healing, If You Want It, explains my take on the Ozzie Guillen/Fidel Castro mess more fully, but let me augment here. I'm in an unsual spot as an Anglo sports columnist in the middle of this. I can't feel the visceral hatred of Castro that many Cuban Americans among us rightly do, and won't pretend to. On the other hand one needn't be Jewish to abhor the Holocaust, be black to hate racism, or be Cuban to count Castro as a vilified dictator. Guillen was insensitive and plain dumb for suggesting -- in this of all communities -- any sympathy for Castro. My question: What now? What next? Do we as a community allow this controversy to cripple the Marlins, or do we find a way to move forward? Guillen, a brash, outspoken man (loudmouth might be accurate) has been contrite; an inherently unapologetic man has apologized. Is that enough? And if it isn't ... does that say more about Guillen, or about the unforgiving? I'm just asking. I spoke to Cookie Rojas, the Cuban broadcaster for the Marlins, and what he told me resonated. He said Guillen opened a wound, that the wound bleeds and then scabs, but that a reminder would always be there. A scar, in other words. I asked Cookie if what Guillen said was forgivable. He paused a second or two. "I would say yes," he said. I would, too. Would you?
HEAT LOSE IN OT AT BULLS: I'll say it again. Something is missing. Something isn't right. A Heat championship in Year 2 of the Big 3 is beginning to feel very dicey, very iffy. Am I being too pessimistic? Tonight the Heat lost in OT at Chicago 96-86, making Miami 5-6 in its last 11 games overall and 3-8 in its past 11 on the road. Tonight was huge. Heat fans were looking for a reason to believe. (Maybe Heat players were, too?) I still the Eastern Conference finals coming down to these two teams, and probably to a game seven, and a last shot. But that's the point. Nothing is coming easy for the Heat.
ON '26.2' AND '13.1' STICKERS: You've seen them fixed to cars, disproportionately on the rear windows of Range Rovers, it seems. They are worn by people bragging that they run marathons and halfs. (Well, they want us to think so. Maybe they just bought the stickers). These people might as well have a bumper sticker that reads, I EXERCISE. DO YOU? Or, I'M MORE FIT THAN YOU. What is it about people who are into fitness that makes them think anybody else cares about their lifestyle regimen? Or that fills them with a need to share what they do? Most of us put down the Cheetos and do something to stay in shape (even me), but I think of it as something personal, not something to be trumpeted. You run marathons? Good for you. It's you feeling the need to let the strangers in the car behind you know it that I find oddly sad. Likewise, by the way, nobody cares that you went to -- or are headed to -- the gym.
WILL UM RETURN TO FOOTBALL PROMINENCE? "NO QUESTION...": Seahawks coach and longtime Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll, yesterday on West Palm's ESPN 760 radio, on whether the Canes can return to football glory: “I don’t think there’s any question. I think Al [Golden] has done a fantastic job wherever he’s been. He’s come into a situation and put together already a new culture and a new mindset, taking on the challenges that you sometimes acquire when you go someplace. I think the rest of Florida and those schools, they can feel it already. I think they can already sense that the turn is happening. I would expect [in] the next couple years they’ll really make a big jump.” (One necessary caveat: Carroll's son, Brennan, is on Golden's staff).
ON CAMERON WAKE: Dolphins sackman Cameron Wake skipping the start of voluntary offseason workouts this week is only a big deal as an obviouos Wake-up call to GM Jeff Ireland. The message: I want a new contract. Or, to quote an old song: "Moneymoneymoneymon-ey .... MON-ey!" If Cam is still boycotting, unrenumerated and unhappy, when mandatory workouts start in May/June, then we have a problem.
LOCAL RADIO SHAKEUP: We were the first at MiamiHerald.com to tell you Jorge Sedano left 790 The Ticket to pursue TV interests. Big loss. Big shakeup for local airwaves. Sedano and WQAM's Joe Rose were the only morning voices that mattered on local sports-talk radio. More: 'QAM has fired Sid Rosenberg after last week's DUI arrest and replaced him with recently fired Tampa personality Dan Sileo. Many will recall Sileo (who I've known since covering him in the '80s) as the former UM football player. This market is a natural for him, and he's good. The 790/560 rivalry just got more interesting.
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