[IT IS WEDNESDAY, JULY 11: 1) Happy 73rd birthday yesterday to a musical hero of mine, Mavis Staples (pictured). 2) R.I.P., Ermes Effron Borgnino -- character actor Ernest Borgnine, gone at 95. His role in McHale's Navy (1962-66) is another one of my very early, vague-but-there childhood memories. 3) Tardily, I am now full on the Louis CK bandwagon. 4) Played golf Saturday for the first time since April at Sunrise and rediscovered that I stink. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote].
Heat on 'OTL': Thanks to ESPN's Outside The Lines for having us on yesterday to talk about how Dwight Howard's eventual landing spot might affect the Heat and rest of NBA.
HEAT LAND RASHARD LEWIS: With Ray Allen already in the fold, the Heat have now also signed free-agent Rashard Lewis, who is 6-10 but can pop from 3'sville and spread the floor. Like Allen, he took less to come here than he could have gotten elsewhere. Like Allen, he is past his prime but has life left in his career. Like Allen, he bolsters/improves the Heat bench. Smart signing.
NU-NU-NUDIO! GET YOUR NAKED ATHLETES RIGHT HERE!: On newsstands this Friday is ESPN The Magazine's fourth annual The Body issue, in which 27 athletes pose artfully naked -- which means you probably won't be offended unless you make a point in life of trying really hard to be. None of the athletes is associated with South Florida, so we miss a chance to relive the thrill of last year when Hanley Ramirez was pictured incongruously doing a domestic chore, his privates tastefully hidden by (yes) an ironing board. This year's cover photo is of Knicks' center Tyson Chandler (left), who hasn't been this naked since being dominated by LeBron James in the first round of the playoffs. The nudie at right is surfer Maya Gabeira. Not sure I consider surfing a sport, but think I am willing to make an exception after scrutinizing this photo. Note sure I consider The Mag's Body issue to be something pandering and silly or good and legit. Am sure I am not below pandering for blog hits by pimping it here.
BOXING VS. MIXED MARTIAL ARTS: Saw that the recent UFC 148 match between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen was billed as the circuit's biggest pay-per-view event of the year, which I took as a sign that mixed martial arts -- for all its undeniable (and increasing) popularity -- had not yet reached the mass appeal of boxing. My reasoning: A Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao bout would dwarf whatever UFC could throw out there in terms of PPV sales and national buzz. Am I wrong? Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of MMA, which I find cartoonishly violent. (I love baiting fans of the sport including my own two sons by making fun of the kicking, and pointing out that when I was growing up one of the big Guy Rules was that if you were involved in a fight, you didn't kick. "Because that's what girls did." MMA fans find this point neither amusing nor salient). Anyway, here's a poll just for fun, a boutique poll, meaning somewhat narrow interest, perhaps. If it moves you, vote and say why.
OK, THE HOME RUN DERBY WAS PRETTY GOOD...: Must admit Prince Fielder outslugging Jose Bautista for the Home Run Derby title last night made for pretty good TV. Kansas City fans were awfully rough on Robinson Cano -- and that's coming from a Yankee Hater. Sure would have been nice to see Giancarlo in there. ..... Original post: I'll admit I think I'm being parochial because Giancarlo Stanton's knee surgery erases the only Marlin from both tonight's HR Derby and Tuesday's ASG. I just don't look at the list of eight Derby guys and see much exciting. And an All-Star Game with nobody from your team feels like an anticlimax even before the first pitch. Anything else on TV tonight? Think I might find out.
Marlins deserve All-Star snub: Click on Star-Less for today's latest column by me. You want to be outraged that no Marlin was chosen to replace injured Giancarlo Stanton, but you can't, because nobody else has earned a spot on the stage. I write that the humbling all-star snub might be a good thing for a team that took its cocky cue from its manager but hasn't earned the swagger.
Baseball's second-half betting odds: From our friends at Bovada, Yankees (9-2) and Rangers (5-1) are World Series champ favorites, with Marlins 35-1, tied for 16th. In the NL it's Nationals and Giants both 9-2. In the NL East it's Nats 4-5, Braves 9-4, Mets 15-2, and Fish and Phillies both 12-1. Individual betting faves are: NL MVP--Pirates' Andrew McCutcheon (4-1); NL Cy Young--Mets' R.A. Dickey (13-10); AL MVP--Angels' Mike Trout (2-1); and AL Cy--Angels' Jered Weaver (5-2).
DOLPHINS: "WE'RE NO. 26! WE'RE...!": Ron Jaworski's Top 30 NFL quarterbacks countdown for ESPN slots Dolphins incumbent Matt Moore in at 26th. And most observers are betting David Garrard will beat him out for the starting job.
WIMBLEDON WINS: I generally like televised tennis as background noise but found the weekend's Wimbledon finals pretty compelling. Serena Williams' win was woman-against-girl stuff in terms of power. At her best Serena might be the greatest female player ever. If one could combine eras it's just hard to imagine dainty Chris Evert matching her game. On the men's side all of England cheered for Andy Murray but there also was something quite stirring about Roger Federer rising back to No. 1 after everyone had begun to spade dirt on a career supposedly fading. Good stuff, tennis!
A CIGAR STORY: I'm a cigar smoker (don't do it, kids), not a big-spending aficionado but a guy content with a $3 Arturo Fuente. On a recent trip to Oklahoma City I found myself back at my hotel at 1 a.m. craving a smoke so I traipsed to the convenience store next door for the closest they had to an actual cigar: a five-pack of Phillies Blunts. Insubstantial draw with a ghastly-sweet wrapper, every bit the cheap smoke you'd expect. But here was the worst part, noticed later in fine print on the carton: 'These cigars are predominantly natural tobacco with non-tobacco ingredients added.' Wha-huh!? What the hell else is in there? Cardboard? Mulch? Repurposed dock rope? Moral of story: A) Quit smoking, or B) at least leave the Blunts for the kids who hollow out the mostly-tobacco and replace it with pot.
SOUTH KOREAN DOMINANCE IS RUINING THE LPGA TOUR: Well, I guess that headline about sums up my feelings. Na Yeon Choi winning the U.S. Women's Open is great news in Seoul or Daejeon, but it's another death knell for pro women's golf in this country. Jingoist attitude? Absolutely. Also the truth.
PRESIDENT DROWNS ECONOMIC SORROWS IN BOOZE!: Evidence of U.S. presidents as real human beings is so rare that I feel the need to pass along this campaign-trail photo of President Barack Obama quaffing a beer. Notice it is not a bottled beer. Headline: PRESIDENT FAVORS REINSTATING DRAFT!
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