1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 9. I'm straddling the Friday Page Dungeon and Random Evidence Laboratories today, working up my latest NFL playoff picks and Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins move past Ireland and Sherman, FSU reigns, Machine Gun LeBron, more Al Golden, NFL playoffs & more. Pictured: FSU on this week's SI regional cover. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.
Click on A Necessary Change for my latest column, on the departure of Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland.
DEADSPIN / LE BATARD BALLOT ISSUE A FAUX-SCANDAL MADE IN PUBLICITY HEAVEN: So it comes out that friend and colleague Dan Le Batard is the writer who gave his baseball hall of fame ballot to the preciously anti-establishment website, Deadspin. I knew this but Dan had asked me to not share it and, frankly, I didn't think it was that big a deal. Still don't. After all, he didn't sell the ballot for profit, and his reason for giving it up was high-minded even if I happen to not share the view. He was tired of the "sanctimony" of writers who refused to vote for the Steroid Era guys like Barry Bonds on what he saw as misguided principles. A lengthy aside here: This was the first year I had a hall vote, from having been a member of the BBWAA the required 10 years. I did not give away my ballot; I filled it in and mailed it. How dull, right!? Unlike Dan I take the vote seriously and was honored to be part of the process. We could vote for up to 10 players of the 36 on the ballot. I chose to be very selective. I considered 17 but voted for only four: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas -- who all got in, and are pictured -- and Jeff Bagwell. No, I did not vote for any steroid guy. I just could not in good conscience include any on my first-ever ballot. I'll continue to promote the idea that guys like Bonds and Roger Clemens perhaps should get in someday -- but only if Cooperstown makes mention of their PED controversy for posterity on that bronze plaque. Likewise I'd want Pete Rose in the hall, if his plaque mentioned why he wasn't for so long. That, to me, is a fair compromise. And that stance, to me, does not make me a part of the problem against which Le Batard and Deadspin colluded so righteously. Two quick thoughts: 1) I love, love, love that Deadspin today refers to some voting writers as "attention-seeking trolls," a blindspot in self-awareness by a website that leads the league in self promotion. 2) I love that my buddy Dan must now act as if he'd have preferred none of this get out when in fact this is publicity gold, effing gold, for somebody with a daily radio show who fancies himself a cutting edge establishment-tweaker. As a final thought: The hall selection process happens to be pretty good, broader and more inclusive than the NFL's, for example, but not as unwieldy as the Heisman, for another. I like that the 75% requirement makes it tough to get in. And if the majority of voters feel the steroid guys are undeserving because they cheated, well, maybe that's the fault of the steroid guys, not the voters. Something for the Deadspins and Le Batards to consider as they high-five each other for stickin' it to The Man.
ON THE HEAT, ANDREW BYNUM, BAD KNEES AND THE FUTURE OF LEBRON JAMES: I'd say that the Cavaliers-Bulls trade this week has a ripple effect reaching all the way down to Miami, except it's more than a ripple. It's a potential tidal wave. Chicago dumps salary by trading Luol Deng to Cleveland for Andrew Bynum, then the Bulls immediately waive Bynum as expected in another money move. Ripple 1: Bynum (pictured as he might soon look) is now an available free agent, Miami needs a big man and Bynum wants to play for a contender. If that isn't a match made in heaven, it'll be close enough for Pat Riley. (Yes, yes, I am aware there supposedly is no great Heat interest in Bynum at the moment, but that could change). Ripple 2: If Cleveland aims to sign Deng long-term, which is the assumption, that would severely limit the Cavs' ability to make a run at luring back LeBron James after this season. Combined ripple: Miami gets immediate big-man help to help slay the Pacers and Roy Hibbert, and also sees its biggest obstacle to re-signing LeBron eliminate itself. That's a good week for the Heat. Bynum, of course, comes with disclaimers; why else would a 26-year-old former All-Star 7-footer be available in the first place? He has had attitude problems that helped chase him from Cleveland. He has had bad knees that shelved him all last season. So what? He's a calculated/big-upside gamble like Greg Oden (more bad knees) was, except Bynum is game-ready. Besides, Riley loves the challenge of taking other people's problems, wringing them through the Heat Culture and turning them out all shiny and new. It has worked quite fabulously with Michael Beasley. You next, Bynum?
Battioke '14, the promo video: Click HERE for two minutes of Shane Battier in a powder-blue disco shirt and his Heat teammates singing badly. It's a promo for his Jan. 27 Battioke karaoke fundraiser. Highlight: Chris Bosh rocks the creepy mustache.
WITH IRELAND AND GOLDEN, THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM: The biggest local sports news of the past few days -- GM Jeff Ireland leaving the Dolphins, coach Al Golden staying with the Hurricanes -- are
complicated stories with areas of gray. They are not easy, simple or neat. Reflections on Ireland going: The Dolphins and their suddenly former personnel boss are calling it a "mutual" parting. It is so rare there is truly such a thing. In this case there grew an awkwardness in the relationship between Ireland (pictured left) and coach Joe Philbin that made a continued working relationship difficult, and owner Stephen Ross ultimately pledged allegiance to Philbin. Things are not always as they seem. "Mutual" suggests Ireland in some way wanted out. He didn't. He was forced out. Now, moving forward, one wonders what preferred candidate to replace Ireland (Eagles VP Tom Gamble is
rumored) would want a job without the freedom to choose his own coach. Reflections on Golden staying: UM's coach was careful and coy in hardly addressing at all what really went on with Penn State, leaving doubts about what did, or might have. What I have heard is that Golden (pictured right) and Penn State had a mutual interest but Golden sought a firm offer to close the deal and Penn State still wanted to conduct another interview or two. That wasn't good enough for Golden. Things are not always as they seem. Golden gets to appear in the wake of this as so committed to Miami that he would turn down his alma mater. But just last night, the NBC station in Philadelphia reported that Penn State still considers Golden a candidate. Things that make you go hmm. Interesting days for both the Canes and Dolphins.
BILLY JOEL ROCKS THE ICEHOUSE: He played the Panthers' arena in Sunrise Tuesday night and I caught the last two-thirds of the show after being delayed by the beaking-news column on Jeff Ireland. I've seen Joel in concert many times, so didn't mind that much being late. This guy always puts on a great show, and this was special, being his first down here in a long time. Wish he'd played Until The Night, but with a catalog like his he can't get to all the good stuff. A Billy Joel concert is like a Jimmy Buffett concert in the sense that the people there are more like worshippers than just fans. He has earned the loyalty.
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...