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August 03, 2014

On Ray Rice's punishment. New poll. Vote now; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, Canton class, Canes edge Heat in next-champ race & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 4. Just looked up "excess" in the dictionary and saw a Dolphins scrimmage being covered as if it were a game or meant anything. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami Big 5 next-champion poll, Dolphins odds, Marlins screwed, MLB trade deadline, Riley's restraint, Sharknado & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

On evolution of sports media: Our latest column on Sunday uses the national debate over Ray Rice's crime and punishment (see related poll below) as a springboard to explore how athletes haven't changed, we're just watching more closely. Click on No Secrets Left to read.

ON RAY RICE'S CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: This poll is a bit tardy but still current because we keep 1aa1arricetalking about this. Ravens running back Ray Rice knocks out his then-fiance', captured on security video, and this week gets a two-game NFL suspension (plus a three-game fine) that many see at too lenient. Subsequently ESPN's Stephen A. Smith gets in trouble for his response, Ravens fans get criticized for cheering Rice at training camp, and anybody who defends the light punishment is shouted down as somehow condoning domestic violence. Crazy. I abhor the cowardice of spousal abuse but thought the punishment was fair considering Rice's previously clean record. I'd also note that missing two NFL games is the equivalent of a 20-game suspension in baseball. It isn't nothing. But that's just me. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll, vote and say why you feel as you do.

CANTON'S LACKLUSTER CLASS OF 2014: Seven new members paraded into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend, and (if I might rain on said parade) it isn't a class that excites all that much. Michael 1aa1acantonStrahan is the national star of the bunch, but his having played in New York and his post-career TV celebrity have as much do to with it as anything. Strahan had only two more career sacks than Jason Taylor, who is considered a likely but not certain Hall of Famer. Derrick Brooks and Walter Jones are the group's other Canton-quality incomers, but neither is a national star outside of his market, with Jones an offensive lineman and Brooks not resonating beyond Tampa/St. Pete. The remaining four guys are borderline inductees Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey, Andre Reed and Aeneas Williams.

Poll result: Epic! Canes edge Heat for next-champion: We asked which of Miami's Big 5 teams will next win a championship, and Hurricanes football winning a national title edged the Heat winning the NBA Finals by 39.4 percent to 37.5% in a two-way battle. It was a tight as any poll we have ever had until UM finally nudged ahead. Marlins winning a World Series got some love with 11.9%. A Dolphins Super Bowl drew only 8.4%, and a Panthers Stanley Cup 2.8%.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot 1aa1ahotbuttonButton is a newish feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package in the print edition (newspaper) is on hiatus until later in August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. Dolphins: Preseason opener: Fins fortified O-line by signing veteran center Samson Satele as they prepare for Friday's exhibition opener in Atlanta. You know how last night's scrimmage didn't tell us much? Friday night will tell us more, but barely.

2. UM football: Practice gets started: QB Kevin Olsen got suspended from the opener for a failed drug test. The Hurricanes players who are not knuckleheads and are not suspended will stage their first preseason practice on Tuesday.

3. Marlins: Reversal of fortunes: Fish had their ninth walkoff win of season last night to end three-game losing streak in a week marred by an egregious MLB home-plate replay reversal that cost Miami a win.

4. Team USA: Paul George injury: Pacers star Paul George suffered a gruesome broken leg as Team USA prepared for the World Cup in Spain. On the bright side, the season-ending injury helps the Heat. Ouch! (Too soon?)

5. Soccer: Guinness finale: The eight-team Guinness International Champions Cup is down to English powers Manchester United vs. Liverpool for Monday's title match at Dolphins stadium. Should be a good match, although a finale beyond the EPL would've been nice.

6. Heat: Riley speaks: Pat Riley, angry over the way LeBron James left, bit his tongue and played nice in a teleconference with reporters. Meantime Cleveland's "homecoming" party for James is planned for this Friday. Maybe it'll rain?

7. NFL: Rice wrist-slap: Many decried as too lenient the NFL's two-game suspension of Ravens RB Ray Rice for domestic violence. Rice responded by punching his critics.

8. MLB: Trade flurry: Jon Lester, David Price and Yoenis Cespedes were among the stars changing uniforms at the trade deadline. In the Bargain Division, the Marlins acquired Jarred Cosart.

9. Canton: Seven parade in: Michael Strahan, Walter Jones and Derrick Brooks headlined new seven-man class in Pro Football Hall of Fame, but highlight was Jim Kelly, fighting cancer, throwing a pass to old team and inductee Andre Reed.

10. Golf: PGA Championship: Season's fourth and final major finds Tiger Woods' the second favorite at 10-1 odds after Rory McIlroy's 7-1. Y'all do realize Tiger hasn't won a major since 2008, right?

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