July 19, 2015

What's our enthusiasm level for MLS soccer in Miami? Poll Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Beckham, Marlins, British Open, Canes unis, Heat, Gold Cup, Dolphins, urine; also Dwyane Wade wine, Big 5-optimism verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 20. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS in Miami moves closer, Big 5 optimism poll, R.I.P. Bill Arnsparger, Dolphin's brush with homelessness, Marlins resume, ESPY review, UM's jersey policy, Heat-expectations verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope. (Our followers on Twitter get automatic Periscope alerts).

Royals new WS faves: Kansas City Royals are new World Series frontunners at 6-1 odds, via Bovada's latest line. Cardinals and Nationals are next at 8-1, then Dodgers at 17-2. Marlins' 150-1 odds are tied for fourth-longest.

1aa1awadewineDwyane Wade, vinter: Heat star Dwyane Wade now has his own wine label, as seen in the photo here of the reds he posted on Instagram. I do not yet have a proper review of the Wade wine. I'm guessing it has subtle notes and aroma of oak, blackberry and a late-career athlete trying to capitalize on his name while he still can. D.Wade also has his own signature fashion line of designer bowties and men's socks, of course. Diversifying one's business interests is key. Hopefully for Heat fans, the Wade portfolio also includes another season (or more) of elite play.

HOW ENTHUSIASTIC ARE WE ABOUT MLS SOCCER IN MIAMI?: Soccer tends to be a polarizing sport in
America, still. Millions embrace and love it; it has grown far beyond a curiosity or niche sport. Yet many 1aa1amiamlsothers steadfastly want little or nothing to do with it and see it as an acquired taste not for them. I think diverse Miami and South Florida are far more likely than most regions to embrace Major League Soccer, but I've been wrong before so I want to take the pulse. David Beckham's investment group and the city of Miami settling on a stadium site (the old Orange Bowl grounds near Marlins Park) makes it more likely than ever that Miami's MLS franchise is real and will begin play in 2018. So, how enthusiastic are we? Does the "Miami Is Ready" declarative in the illustration here need a question mark? Take a dip in our poll, express your feelings and drop us a comment to say why you feel as you do.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. SOCCER: Miami, Beckham agree on MLS stadium site: David Beckham's investment group once referred to the former Orange Bowl site near Marlins Park as "spiritually tainted." Now, apparently it's "realistically feasible" after attempts at a waterfront stadium proved fruitless. The two applicable to the new stadium that are most important to taxpayers: "Privately funded." 

2. MARLINS: Injury-wracked Fish resume (badly) on long road trip: The semi-Marlins -- still missing injured stars Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Henderson Alvarez -- are back from All-Star Game break and in midst of 10-game road trip, starting 0-3 at hapless Philly. Team is on season-long 16-day gap between home games, but, given the way this season has gone, that's probably not a bad thing. 

3. GOLF: Johnson wins British Open; Spieth just short: The year's third major will ended on a Monday for first time since 1988, with Zach Johnson winning and Jordan Spieth one stroke off making the three-man playoff. The British was missing its defending champion Rory McIlroy to injury, and its shot at history as the Grand Slam-seeking Masters and U.S. Open champ Spieth was denied. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods missed the cut. Or, did that go without saying? 

4. HURRICANES: (So what!) UM unveils new football uniforms: Adidas threw an invitation-only VIP party on South Beach Saturday night to unveil its new University of Miami football uniforms, and nobody cared except Adidas executives, UM accountants and that segment of Canes fans way too worried about sartorial splendor. "Looking good" means playing well, Canes, not what you wear.

5. HEAT: Team wraps up summer league, mulls trades: Heat's youth squad finished a combined 6-4 in Orlando and Las Vegas summer-league play as club mulled trading Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen in salary cap moves. Meantime Chris Bosh called retooled Miami "on the verge of being an elite team. (Um, a lot of that depends on an elite you, Mr. Bosh). 

6. SOCCER: U.S. pounds Cuba, reaches Gold Cup semis: U.S. men ripped Cuba 6-0 Saturday to reach semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament and next face Jamaica on Wednesday. No surprise. I don't wanna say Cuba's expectations in the tournament were modest, but the big aim was having more goals than political defectors.

7. DOLPHINS: Countdown 10 days 'til start of training camp: It is almost time, Dolfans. It is almost time for experience the encroaching gloom of past disappointments and begin anxiously second-guessing your fragile optimism.   

8. CYCLING: Tour de France down to final week: Leader Chris Froome said a spectator yelled "Doper!" before throwing a cup of urine on him. I apologize. I don't know what got into me.   

9. BILL ARNSPARGER: Dolphins coaching icon passes away: Arnsparger, architect of the Super Bowl-winning "No-Name " defense and later the "Killer B's," died at 88. Among all coaches only Don Shula himself had a greater impact on Dolphins history.

10. THE ESPYS: ESPN stages annual salute to itself: Highlight: Caitlyn Jenner's speech. Lowlight: LeBron James winning the "Best Championship Moment" ESPY even though he didn't win a championship. "Yeah that makes sense," said snubbed American Pharoah.

Missing the HB10 cut: ACC Football Kickoff, annual three-day media event, starts Sunday. All-Star Game draws record-low TV rating. Exodus of ESPN stars. Conor McGregor lights up UFC. Cooperstown prepares for Hall of Fame weekend. And UM to limit football jersey sales each year to only Nos. 1 and the year (15 this season), the worst idea since New Coke.

Poll result: Heat, Dolphins make biggest leap in fan optimism: We asked which of our Big 5 sports teams are earning the most fan optimism right now, and the Heat and Dolphins are the big winners. The results now compared to the same poll back in February:

Team               Now        Feb.        +/-

Heat               49.1%      24.5%      +24.6

Dolphins        32.3%      14.1%      +18.2

UM football     9.0%      13.1%      - 4.1

Panthers           7.0%        5.4%      + 1.6

Marlins            2.6%       42.9%      -40.3

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May 18, 2015

Dolphins sign Tannehill long-term; plus do you approve of Marlins firing Redmond? Poll. Vote now!; also Jennings new Fish manager, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Garo Yepremian dies, SoFla Super Bowl poll, LeBatard ranked 11th, UM football, LeBron advances, Ted Wells'  mustache, Cote on $2 bill, B.B. King & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NBA Final Four odds: Via Bovada today, Golden State a 4-7 favorite to win the NBA title, with Cleveland 13-5. Longshots are Atlanta at 9-1 and Houston 10-1.

The Garo column: Click on Garo Yepremian, R.I.P. for my latest column.

Dee Train update: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .420 (63-for-150). Last game: 1-for-4 vs. ATL Sunday. Next: Tonight vs. ARI.D

1aa1aryantDOLPHINS COMMIT LONG-TERM TO TANNEHILL: The Dolphins today extended the contract of quarterback Ryan Tannehill by four years, through the 2020 season. Originally under contract for two more seasons, the sides renegotiated a six-year deal reportedly worth $96 million, with almost half of it ($45 mill) guaranteed. The long-term, high-dollar extension is not a surprise, although the timing of when it would occur was not certain. The sides were smart to get it done well  before summer training camp. The commitment and big bucks also increase the onus on Tannehill to lead a playoff season in 2015.

MARLINS NAME GM JENNINGS TO REPLACE FIRED MANAGER REDMOND: [Update: Click on Loria's Wild Ride for today's new column by me, on the Marlins' latest managerial move another sign of owner Jeffrey Loria's impatience and lack of firm direction]. The Marlins, 16-22 and fourth place in 1aa1adanjenthe NL East, fired manager Mike Redmond after yesterday's 6-0 home loss to the Atlanta Braves. Bench coach Rob Leary was dismissed, too. The Marlins were swept by the Braves to begin a 10-game homestand and were almost no-hit, breaking it up with two outs in the ninth. Even more surprising than Redmond's dismissal, the team today announced it has replaced Redmond with its general manager, Dan Jennings (pictured right), who has never managed or coached beyond the high school level. Do you approve of firing Redmond not quite one-quarter into the season? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

HOT BUTTON MAY 17: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. GARO YEPREMIAN: Iconic Dolphin passes away: One of the most beloved and unique characters in club history, the Dolphins' 1970s kicker died late Friday at age 70 after battling brain cancer for about a year. He'll forever be a part of franchise folklore, with only one word required: Garo.

2. MARLINS: Fish, in midst of long homestand, fire manager: Miami is three games into a 10-game homestand and 0-3 after nearly being no-hit Sunday -- after which manager  Mike Redmond was let go. Team is mired in fourth place in division so we accentuate the positive: Dee Gordon, .420. Giancarlo Stanton, 11 homers. Steve Cishek, benched.

3. NBA: Houston completes league's Final Four: Rockets hosted and beat Clippers Sunday afternoon to avance vs. Golden State in Western finals, while it's LeBron James and Cleveland vs. Atlanta in the East. Going to be weird hearing all those "Let's go Hawks!" chants in Miami the next week or two.

4. HORSE RACING: America Pharoah does it again; Triple Crown in play: Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah overcame rain and a muddy track to win the Preakness Saturday, meaning the sport's first Triple Crown since 1978 will be in play at the Belmont in three weeks. This is when Americans who don't know a furlong from a fur coat pretend they're into horse racing.

5. DEFLATEGATE: Patriots, Brady fighting four-game suspension: The latest: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to hear Tom Brady's appeal, the NFLPA says no way, and the whole thing seems headed to a nasty court fight. NFL: National. Football. Litigation.

6. TERRORISM: Boston Marathon bomber sentenced to death: A Boston jury sentenced Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev to the death penalty for his role in the 2013 terrorist bombings. Unfortunately, the over/under on appeals is being measured in years, not months.

7. HEAT: Draft lottery is Tuesday night: Heat has a more than 80 percent chance to have the 10th overall pick. What a difference a year makes. Past four seasons Miami is steaming to the NBA Finals. Now Miami is hoping a bunch of ping-pong balls bounce just right.

8. HURRICANES: UM baseball opens ACC tournament: A terrific regular season has coach Jim Morris' Canes ranked No. 8 nationally and seeded second in the ACC Tournament starting Wednesday in Durham, N.C. UM carries 12-game win streak into postseason. Ending it now would be awful timing, indeed. 

9. NHL: Four still skating in Stanley Cup playoffs: New York Rangers are up 1-0 on Tampa Bay in Eastern finals, and Anaheim is up 1-0 on Chicago in the West finals. Anything seems possible in the NHL playoffs, except, as usual, a Canadian team playing for the championship.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins, South Florida ready Super Bowl bids: Continually passed over lately but with a renovated stadium now in play, South Florida bids to host upcoming Super Bowls at this week 's league meetings in San Fran. This is very important to Stephen Ross and to SoFla tourism officials. Dolfans only care about hosting a Super Bowl if their team is in it.

Missing the cut: Sepp Blatter and the FBI, WNBA suspensions, Isiah Thomas running women's team, ESPN and Bill Simmons, French Open nears.

Poll result: Great disagreement on importance of Miami hosting a Super Bowl: There was close to an even split between those who thought it was "very important" Miami host a Super Bowl (39.3 percent) and those who thought it was not important unless the Dolphins were in it (38.1%). The other 22.6% called hosting "somewhat important."

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May 16, 2015

Garo Yepremian, R.I.P.; plus do we really care if South Florida hosts a Super Bowl? (poll); also LeBatard ranked No. 11, Canes football news, Brady steals Ted Wells' mustache, LeBron waltzes on, Cote on $2 bill, B.B. King & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1aa1abbking1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 16. Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King (pictured) has died at age 89. R.I.P. Scroll down for video at end of this blogpost. 2) Random Evidence, our Sunday notes column, has this week off. However our blog-exclusive Hot Button Top 10 will be here as usual on Sunday. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Evolving newspapers, John Wall's gang signs, LeBatard radio show preps for TV, Dee Train debut, Kiper's 2016 Big Board, assimilating bears & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

LeBatard ranked 11th: Miami-based TV and radio personality Dan LeBatard is No. 11 on TheBigLead.com's new list of 25 most powerful people in sports media. (List here). Bill Simmons, newly fired by ESPN, tops the list. Keith Olbermann, we presume, is ready to sue somebody for not being on it. Also omitted: Greg Cote, despite there supposedly being a move to put Cote's face on the $2 bill.

Hurricanes football schedule news: UM announced starting time or TV info for four of its games. Canes will host Bethune-Cookman Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. on ESPN3. On Sept. 19 UM will host Nebraska at 3:30 p.m. on either ABC or ESPN. Miami's game at Cincinnati will be in prime time at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. And the Canes' regular-season finale at Pittsburgh will air on ABC or ESPN, time to be determined.

Dee Train: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .433 (61-for-141). Last game: 3-for-5 vs. ATL last night. Next: Tonight vs. ATL.

GARO YEPREMIAN, R.I.P.: Dolphins great Garo Yepremian passed away last night from brain cancer after fighting the disease for more than a year. Click here for a 2014 column I wrote on Garo's health struggle, and click on Garo: The One And Only for my latest column on his death that went online late last night. Here is the column in its entirety:

1aa1agaro    So few names in the Miami Dolphins’ 50-year history have elevated above the playing field into franchise folklore. So few players could be described with only a first name, a single word, and that would be plenty.

    Garo.

    With greatness and whimsy, he was a part of the team’s biggest days.

    Garabed Sarkis Yepremian, the little kicker from Cyprus, died Friday evening at age 70 after battling adrenal cancer that had led to a brain tumor. His wife Maritza said he passed away at a hospital in Media, Pa., near their Philadelphia home.

    I had written about the fight of his life last summer.
    His latest round of chemotherapy had just ended.
    “It’s a gorgeous day,” he said.
    Yepremian, a Dolphin from 1970 through 1978, always will be most known for his faux pas in the 1972 Perfect Season Super Bowl – a lapse remembered with a smile, because Miami won.
     “I honestly thought my life was over,” he told me.
     It happened on Jan. 14, 1973. A field-goal attempt was botched, and Yepremian tried to throw a pass that was returned 49 yards for a touchdown by the Washington Redskins. Only because Miami won 14-7 did Garo escape the savagery of being labeled a national goat.
     He dealt with his unique place in history with wonderful humor.
     As recently as January, alluding to the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” controversy, Yepremian Tweeted, “Forty-two years later I realize I should have deflated the ball to get a better grip on it.”
     His one most famous, most infamous moment always overshadowed a career that stood on its own even as his ill-fated “pass” was what Johnny Carson delighted to skewer in late-night monologues.
     Yepremian was named to Miami’s Silver Anniversary team encompassing the club’s first 25 seasons. He was named to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team.
     He won so many games beyond the one famous one he almost lost.
     He stood barely 5-8 but authored so many of the biggest moments in club history, including the field goal on Christmas Day 1971 in Kansas City that ended “The Longest Game” and gave Miami its first playoff victory in franchise history.
     I was a kid then. I remember my father and I, watching in our living room, pogoing up and down and hugging after Garo’s kick sailed true. (The high-five hadn’t been invented yet).<
     Four decades later one of the most iconic names in Miami Dolphins history has lapsed into memory. But you still only need a single word to describe him:
     Garo.
 

DO WE REALLY CARE IF SOUTH FLORIDA HOSTS A SUPER BOWL?: So Miami and and renovated 1aa1abowlsuperDolphins stadium are bidding to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls, the next two available, and should learn at next week's league meetings in San Fran if they made the first cut. Do we care? I have always had a theory on that -- one I admit could be totally off-line with how local fans and residents feel. (Hence, this poll). I think we only care about a Super Bowl if the Dolphins are playing in it. I don't think Miami hosting two other teams in an SB is particularly thrilling for anyone outside of direct beneficiaries -- tourism industry, hotels, restaurants and so forth. Yes, Dolphins (and stadium) owner Stephen Ross cares intensely. But do you? What is your level of excitement or interest in South Florida being named host of one of the next available Super Bowls? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

1aa1abradystache2

1aa1atedwellsTOM BRADY GROWS WEIRD MUSTACHE TO MOCK TED WELLS:
  This whole thing is getting strange. A bit juvenile. Quick chronology: Patriots accused of under-inflating footballs. NFL's independent Wells Report finds Pats and QB Tom Brady guilty. League suspends Brady four games. Criticism ensues that punishment is either too lenient or too harsh. Ted Wells goes on offensive to angrily defend his integrity and findings. Patriots go on offensive, lawyering up and appealing punishment. Now, Brady cultivates Wells-ian mustache apparently to publicly mock his nemesis. Updates here as warranted.

LEBRON WALTZES INTO NBA (CONFERENCE) FINALS: Cleveland awaits tonight's Atlanta-Washington 1aa1ajameslwinner in the Eastern finals, meaning LeBron James all but has a free pass into the NBA Finals. Hawks or Wizards would be large underdogs, although it does bear noting that ATL would have home-court advantage and was 3-1 vs. Cavs this season. Out West, Golden State tries to eliminate Memphis tonight and Clippers-Rockets face a Game 7 on Sunday. Still looking like a LeBron-Steph Curry Finals. By the way, good seats still available on my Miamians For LeBron bandwagon. All aboarrrd!

1aa1ameontwoMOVEMENT: COTE ON $2 BILL: You have heard by now of the "Women on 20s" movement, which is pushing to replace Andrew Jackson with Civil War-era abolitionist Harriet Tubman as the face of the $20 bill. Now, though as yet much less-known, there is a growing movement, dubbed "Cote On Two," to replace Thomas Jefferson on the $2 bill with Miami Herald sports columnist/blogger Greg Cote (pictured right). Updates as warranted.

LUCILLE WEEPS: B.B. KING (1925-2015):

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February 18, 2015

Who is on your Mount Rushmore of all-time NFL quarterbacks? 12 choices, you pick 4. Vote now!; plus Westminster dog show, Lesley Gore, Tiger verdict, 'Back In My Day' & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger Woods poll, pro-rating South Florida's all-time pro coaches, Heat career ASG scorers, saving the newspaper industry & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

WHO SHOULD BE ON MOUNT RUSHMORE OF ALL-TIME NFL QUARTERBACKS?: Every once in a while we 1aa1amountrlike to do a 'Mount Rushmore' poll mainly to annoy WQAM radio host and friend Marc Hochman, who thinks he invented the time-worn idea. We got this idea from NFL.com, which had the discussion earlier this week -- just the latest entity to steal Hoch's un-patented gem. We culled the ballot to 12 finalists who appear here alphabetically. No category for "other," but let us know in a Comment if we've egregiously omitted anybody deserving. You know what Mount Rushmore means, so vote for your top four (4) guys. Go!

Vote For Top Four (4)

Poll result: Mixed results, but mostly support for Tiger Woods: We asked how you feel about Tiger Woods and it was 43.3 percent liking/rooting for him, 38.0% not liking or supporting him and 18.7% neutral or disinterested.

BEAGLE WINS WESTMINSTER 'BEST IN SHOW': Miss P, an adorable 4-year-old Beagle from British 1aa1abeagleColumbia pictured right, won Best In Show last night at the prestigious annual Westminster Kennel Club pageant in New York City. (It was so good to see a winner and hear cheering in a full Madison Square Garden, a building rendered a fetid mausoleum by the Knicks). Controversy ensued, though. Random Evidence cannot 1aa1apoodlestandardconfirm but has heard that the owners of the Standard Poodle pictured at left are being sued for pet abuse and mental torture for inflicting the dog with the embarrassing haircut shown. "As if my name, 'Princess Precious," isn't bad enough, you try walking around looking like this," said the angry canine. "People stare. Other dogs taunt and bully. Even cats laugh at me. It's [bleep]ing humiliating!"

SEEING RACISM WHERE IT ISN'T: Yesterday on the Dan LeBatard Show (The Ticket Miami, ESPN Radio) my Tuesday "Back In My Day" segment excoriated athletes who complain about having to deal with the 1aa1aBIMDmedia. Marshawn Lynch and Kevin Durant were examples I used, not even considering that both are black and that I'd better toss in a white guy for balance. Mentioned Lynch and Durant as the two most prominent, recent examples, which I thought obvious. But because the rant was critical and questioned the general intelligence of athletes who grow up chasing sports more than an education, a few texters to the show and Tweeters to me heard the rant as racist. Man, that's listening so hard you aren't hearing. So if I said the same thing but with a fleeting reference to Bode Miller I'm OK on the Racism Sensitivity Scale? Sorry, but I can't be that politically correct.

PIECES OF CHILDHOOD KEEP FALLING AWAY: I never considered myself a Lesley Gore fan. I thought she was someone whose fans were girls. Besides, when she hit big in 1963 with "It's My Party," my interest in music was just beginning to awaken. But I cared enough to read the obituary when I found out this week Gore had died at age 68. Maybe subliminally, but her first big hit was a part of my early childood's background noise, her death making the sound an echo fading my degrees.

 

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November 25, 2014

Ouch. Computers put Dolphins playoff shot at mere 19.7%; plus Canes' Duke nears "state Heisman," NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, (barely) remembering JFK, naughty names & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio on South Beach today with the Dan Le Batard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. A new "Back In My Day" is prepped and ready. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolfan and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter polls. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS PICK A BAD YEAR TO BE PRETTY GOOD; PLAYOFF HOPES SLIM: Miami at 6-5 has a slightly less than 1 in 5 chance (19.7 percent) to reach the postseason, according to the computer analytics at a site I 1aa1adol19.7have come to respect: makenflplayoffs.com. Following last night's end of NFL Week 12 the three clear AFC frontrunners, all but in, are the Patriots (94.3%), Colts (92.0%) and Broncos (83.1%). Then it's a mad five-team scrum for the last three spots among the Bengals (61.9%), Chiefs (50.2%), Steelers (47.6%), Chargers (47.4%), Ravens (39.9%) and Browns (38.8%). Then comes Miami, 10th overall in the hunt for six AFC tickets. The Fins' path to the playoffs from here seems pretty clear: Beat the three teams you should (Jets, twice, and Vikings) and find a way to beat either the Ravens or Patriots. Doable. But daunting.

SOPY: UM'S DUKE WITH SAFE BUT NOT INSURMOUNTABLE LEAD ENTERING FINAL GAME: Miami's Duke Johnson leads Florida State's Jameis Winston by 103.5 points entering each player's final game in our 1aa1asopyblog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." That's a nice but not insurmountable lead. The SOPY rankings end with the 12-game regular season and do not include conference title games or bowls, so every school is on even footing. This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been Winston (in 2013 with 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (in 2012 with 1,900.5 points). Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 14:

SOPY WEEK 13 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk13    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         132     1,857

2 (2)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb         142.5   1,753.5

3 (3)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      223     1,622.5

4 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           143     1,383.5

5 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           104.5    1,352

6 (8)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb           165      1,220

7 (6)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       106      1,176

8 (7)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb              8       1,063.5

9 (10)     Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb       131       911

10 (9)       Matt Jones, Florida-rb            27        895

Bubble: Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 839. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Florida and UCF have played 10 games; Miami, FSU, FAU and USF have played 11; and FIU has played 11.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (11-0); 2. UCF (7-3); 3. Miami (6-5); 4. Florida (6-4); 5. SoFla (4-7); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-8).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: PICKS, LOBOS BOTH SLIP IN WEEK 12: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team, 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixand this week's report ain't pretty. Pix: We went a mediocre 9-6 overall but only 6-9 against the spread -- breaking a season-long string of 11 straight weeks at no worse than .500 ATS. Had four 'dogs-with-points including Dolphins, but misfired badly on our Cards-over-Seahawks upset call, a bad pick. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos' three-game win streak ended with a mighty thud, 144-54. Never a good sign when your high scorer (Philip Rivers) has 13 points. The bigger issue was six guys in single-figures. Oy! The good news? At 5-7 I'm only one game off playoff pace (not counting tiebreakers) with two weeks left, so I'll have a shot if I can win out. Rally, Lobos!

REMEMBERING JFK (IF BARELY): This is what insidious time does. It fades even the most memorable of us. A year ago the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination was big news. The 51st 1aa1ajfkanniversary, this past Saturday, passed quietly. Do any of us even know when Abe Lincoln was assassinated? It was on an April 15, 149 years ago. So we may expect a proper media remembrance on the big-One-Five-Oh next spring, at least. JFK's murder is one of my faintest childhood memories. I vaguely recall us being sent home from school early and finding my mother weeping at the black-and-white TV set. On Saturday I was on a weekend cruise in the Bahamas and didn't give the date a fleeting thought. But I do now.

NAUGHTY 'N NICE NAMES: The Daily Mail of London reports a recent study of 63,000 (presumably British) school 1aa1anameschildren determined which kids tend to be naughty misbehavers and nice angels, based on first names. Ten nicest girls: Amy, Georgia, Emma, Charlotte, Grace, Sophie, Abigail, Hannah, Emily and Alice. Ten naughtiest girls: Ella, Bethany, Eleanor, Olivia, Laura, Holly, Courtney, Amber, Caitline and Jade. Ten nicest boys: Jacob, Daniel, Thomas, James, Adam, Harry, Samuel, Jack, Oliver and Ryan. Ten naughtiest boys: Joseph, Cameron, William, Jake, Joshua, Jamie, Lewis, Benjamin, Ethan and Luke. All I can say is, if Ella and Joe get together, watch out!

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October 09, 2014

Poll: Chalmers or Cole? Pick a Heat point guard. Vote now!; plus Panthers hockey, Fins/Harbaugh verdict, defending MLB, Alan Cherry (R.I.P.) & more

1aa1ajlennon1) It is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9. Thinking of the late, great John Lennon today, on what would be his 74th birthday. 2) I'm holed up at Friday Page Headquarters today pulling forth my NFL Week 6 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's pick. 3) BBC Music brings together dozens of great artists for a rendition of the Beach Boys classic, "God Only Knows." Trippy result worth a listen and watch here. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins/Harbaugh poll, college football upheaval, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY standings, toast to '72, Derrick Shelby, Cinder-AL-a & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1aflacatsCats on the ice: NHL starting. Hockey's back. Florida Panthers open tonight/Thursday in Tampa then at home Saturday vs. New Jersey. Click on Telling Season for my preview column. Club hasn't won a playoff series since 1996 and a sharp decline in attendance is expected. This has become a franchise that needs saving. Winning is the only start.

CHALMERS VS. COLE IN HEAT POINT-GUARD BATTLE: IT'S ON: The post-LeBron Heat are 0-2 in the preseason entering Saturday's game vs. Cleveland and James in Rio -- uh oh -- and even though the games don't matter you know that panic is setting in with some fans as 1aa1amarionorris"We really might be that bad" sweeps over them. Relax. It's a playoff team. But to distract you from your growing angst here's a poll. It's incumbent Mario Chalmers vs. challenger Norris Cole (pictured left to right) in what by all accounts is an open battle for starting point guard. And that role is magnified because LeBron James, who brought the ball up and handled it so much he was a de facto point guard, is no longer here. (He went somewhere. I forget where). Chalmers probably brings more offensive pop and swagger; Cole brings better defense and energy. Both have flaws. Is Cole better-suited to being the spark off the bench? What Heat point guard would you prefer to see start and get the most minutes? I exclude rookie Shabazz Napier from the question because he obviously isn't ready yet to be in the conversation. So take a dip in the poll and say why.

Poll result: Dolfan interest in Harbaugh, but with some reservations: We asked in the previous blogpost if the Dolphins should pursue 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh should he become avaailable after the season, and 47.9 percent said yes without equivocation. However, 25.2% said only if Miami does not make the playoffs and another 18.7% voted "avoid him like the plague." The other 8.2% were undecided.

DEFENDING BASEBALL'S POSTSEASON, FINAL FOUR: The complainers are out. Not enough starpower! Not enough runs! Bad World Series ahead! I don't buy it. Yes, 10 of the 14 playoff games thus far (not 1aa1adavidandgcounting wild-cards) have been won with four runs or fewer. So what? Pitching is good. Steroids are outlawed. Deal with it. I think the Orioles-Royals ALCS (starting Friday) and the Cardinals-Giants NLCS (Game 1 Saturday) guarantees a World Series of interesting contrast. St. Louis and San Fran are recent champions from 2011 and '12, respectively, while Baltimore and Kansas City last won it all in 1983 and '85. Royals haven't even been in the postseason since then. There will be an AL-David vs. NL-Goliath element that I think America will find appealing. Besides, the fact all four division series ended either 3-0 or 3-1 indicates the vanquished teams were undeserving in some way. And there is no clear betting favorite among the four survivors; it's anybody's ring.

ALAN CHERRY, 1955-2014, R.I.P.: This is self-indulgent. Screw it. It's my blog. My oldest friend, Alan Cherry, died this week, at 59, and I miss him already. We met when we were 19, I think. Fate had us 1aa1aalancboth stumbling blind into journalism careers under the tutelage of Max Hall at BCC. I gravitated to sports. Alan ended up doing important stuff, for three decades a news reporter and editor for the Sun-Sentinel. Alan was a nonconformist both intellectually and visually. In a newsroom where men wore shirts and ties, clean-shaved faces and neat hair, you'd find Alan with long hair tucked under a ballcap and a full, straggly beard. (He was way ahead of the trend on that look. I think his wife Pat and son James deserve royalty checks from Duck Dynasty). Alan was also an accomplished songwriter. He wrote "Letting Go," which I was honored to record (click here to listen). A few years ago Alan was surprised and delighted to hear another of his songs, "House of Ghosts," played on an NPR program devoted to unsigned artists who merited attention. The song is below. Alan was a man of great talent, and greater integrity. Rest in peace, my unforgettable old friend.

 

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August 13, 2014

LeBron's return to Miami set: Cheer or boo? Poll. Vote!; plus top 10 Heat home games, Miss BumBum, football in China, Tony Stewart verdict & more

1aa1abeef1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 15. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association tells me yesterday was Filet Mignon Day. Is that a national holiday? Could I have taken the day off? 2) Honestly it does not get much better than one of my favorites artists performing, live, one of my favorite songs: Beck and "Loser". 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tony Stewart tragedy blame-poll, Robin Williams and suicide, Dolphins and Brady Quinn, projections for Heat and Fins, Stanton MVP bid, my 50-yard FG update & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

"Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's NL MVP chances improve with the season-ending injury to Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki. If Dodger Clayton Kershaw doesn't poach and sweep, the trophy should be Stanton's." --Greg Cote  

DATE FOR LEBRON'S FIRST RETURN IS SET. NOW, TO CHEER OR TO BOO -- THAT IS THE QUESTION: NBA's release of its 2014-15 season schedule this evening confirmed what had been rumored: LeBron James' highly anticipated first return to Miami will be Christmas Day as Heat host 1aa1aclevlebCleveland at 5 p.m. (See the complete schedule here). How Heat fans feel about LeBron and will respond to his introduction that day has been highly debated. Miami fans initially seemed understanding of his leaving. In a July 11 poll here 63.1 percent said they wished him well versus only 17.9% who said they were upset with him (the other 19.0% weren't sure or had mixed feelings). But has the pro-LeBron sentiment dissipated since? This new poll will help answer that. Some of the reaction Dec. 25 may depend on how the Heat frame his return. Will there be an appreciative, fond-memories, welcome-back video shown to encourage applause? Or will the conspicuous lack of one encourage the opposite? We'll see. For now, put yourself in the arena that day as LeBron is introduced. What should the reaction be? Today/Friday is final day to vote, so vote and say why.

Cote's Top 10 most interesting Heat home games: 1. Cavaliers December 25--Well, duh / 2. Cavaliers March 16--LeBron II / 3. Wizards October 29--season opener / 4. Spurs March 31--Finals rematch / 5. Bulls December 14--Rose 'n Noah / 6. Thunder January 20--Concert by Durant Durant / 7. Clippers November 20--L.A.'s best / 8. Lakers March 4--Ghost of Kobe, but still Kobe / 9. Nets January 4--Men in black / 10. Knicks February 9--Hey, it's still the Knicks.

Poll result: More blame victim than Stewart in racetrack tragedy: We asked where blame should go in the tragedy in which NASCAR star Tony Stewart struck and killed young driver Kevin Ward Jr. after he'd wandered onto the track trying to confront Stewart. "Mostly blame Ward" had 45.6 percent of the vote, while "mostly blame Stewart" had 18.9%. Nearly a quarter, 24.2%, said they should share blame. Another 7.9% were not sure, and 3.4% said neither should be blamed.

1aa1acaflAMERICAN (INDOOR) FOOTBALL GOES TO CHINA: It is being announced today that the China American Football League (CAFL) will launch in 2015.  Principles in the indoor league's startup include U.S. businessman Marty Judge, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski and former NFL coach Dick Vermeil. Each  team will have a combination of American and Chinese players.  The long-term vision is to have 30 teams throughout China,  and eventually throughout Asia and Australia. What does it mean? It means failed American football players -- marginal collegians who can't make the NFL, have flamed out of Canada or been rejected by the Arena league -- have a whole new vista opening up to possibly delay having to give up the dream and get a real job.

1aa1abumbumWHO'LL BE THE NEXT MISS BUMBUM?: In Brazil, where dare I say the female derriere is exalted, the hunt is on to determine who'll be the 2014 Miss BumBum, an annual contest/pageant to find what baby got back the best. Some of this year's contestants are shown turning the other cheek. Click here for the backstory. My favorite part is when the reigning champion describes how maintaining a perfect a-- is "a lot of work, a lot devotion." No doubt.

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August 12, 2014

Who's to blame in Tony Stewart race tragedy? Poll. Vote; plus Philbin firing odds, Robin Williams, Heat pegged 6th, Mighty Quinn, Stanton & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13. Happy 65th birthday to one of the greatest guitarists and a personal favorite, Mark Knopfler. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins computerized win percentages, Fins sign Brady Quinn, Wade needles LeBron, boxing promoter becomes woman, Facekini, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Christmas present: LeBron at Heat: NBA will release its regular season schedule this evening to reveal officially that Cleveland and LeBron James will visit Miami on Christmas Day. So you now have 134 more days to decide: Cheer or boo?


1aa1amanmannDolphins sign Brady Quinn:
 "When Quinn the Eskimo Quarterback gets here, everybody's gonna jump for joy." --"Mighty Quinn," Manfred Mann, 1968. (Click here to listen. It's trippy, baby!).
 

ASSESSING BLAME IN TONY STEWART'S ROLE IN ANOTHER DRIVER'S DEATH: I write in my latest column about the weekend tragedy in a sprint-car race on a dirt track in upstate New York, where NASCAR 1aa1astewart-wardsuperstar Tony Stewart struck and killed 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward Jr. (Ward, near left, and Stewart are pictured) You may click here to watch a video of the tragedy, although I caution that you may wish you had not. Click on The Culture of Racing to read my column in full. Many blame Ward for dangerously wandering onto a hot track during a race and attempting to confront Stewart. Others blame Stewart, even suggesting he could have avoided striking Ward. I see the gray in between, and fault the culture of auto racing that infects NASCAR and trickles down. The culture is one of confrontation and retaliation. It was just a matter of time before a tragedy like this occured. That's my opinion. Time for your's. Vote for the poll option that best represents how you feel, and say why. 

PROJECTIONS FOR DOLPHINS, TANNEHILL, PHILBIN, NFL: Miami has the NFL's 19th-best offense overall and No. 8 defense, according to new rankings by Pro Football Focus. The breakdown on O: QBs 1aa1ajoep9th, line 18th, receivers 19th and RBs 27th. On D: Edge rushers 5th, interior line 9th, secondary 13th and LBs 26th. Meanwhile here are Bovada's new betting odds in individual categories. Most passing yards--Drew Brees and Peyton Manning co-favorites to lead league at 11-4, with Ryan Tannehill tied for 16th at 100-1. Most rushing yards--Adrian Peterson the pick at 4-1, with no Dolphin at 100-1 or better. Receiving yards--Calvin Johnson favored at 13-5, with Mike Wallace tied for 26th at 66-1. Also of note,it's 33-1 against any team going 16-0. And Joe Philbin (pictured) is third at 7-1 in first-coach-to-be-fired odds, trailing only DAL's Jason Garrett (2-1) and OAK's Dennis Allen (4-1).

HEAT PICKED FOR 6TH IN CONFERENCE: ESPN's 219-person panel of NBA experts -- I think they have more experts than the NBA has players -- has put forth its Eastern Conference projected standings for the coming season. Their top eight (meaning playoff teams): 1. Cavaliers (56 wins), 2. Bulls (54), 3. Raptors (47), 4. Wizards (47), 5. Bobcats (45), 6. Heat (44), 7. Hawks (42), 8. Nets (39).

ON ROBIN WILLIAMS AND SUICIDE: Robin Williams' death shocked me and saddened me to the edge of tears. I heard my voice struggle as I reacted to the news. (I think the last celebrity death to affect 1aa1ameandrobinme in what felt like a personal way was that of Amy Winehouse). When the soon-after second wave of news said "reported suicide," the shock doubled. So did the sadness. I have since heard, and read on Twitter, a few unkind comments, as if the tragedy in such a loss is less because it came by the deceased's own hand. Somebody called Williams "selfish." For me, the tragedy in some ways is magnified by suicide because it speaks to such despair and hopelessness. Depression is a powerful, frightening thing. In Williams' case, none of his celebrity or wealth mattered; in the end, no one could help him. Millions adored and cheered for him; in the end, he was alone. So, so sad. I found Robin Williams to be a comic genius, a phrase overused that I use sparingly. It feels like America, not just the "entertainment industry," has lost someone truly special. Pictured is me in Williams' company a few years ago before a performance of his my wife and I saw at the Hard Rock in Hollywood. We were longtime big fans. We bought premium tickets for a pre-show meet-and-greet if I recall. The red lanyard holds my dorky VIP pass. I'd lost track of this photo before searching for it this morning. I think I'll keep track of it now. I recall being thrilled in a way I rarely am in the company of even the biggest sports stars. I can see it in my face here. Williams was kind in the short time we had with him.

GIANCARLO STANTON: "MVP! MVP!": The Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton has a big chance to become only 1aa1agstantonthe sixth player to win a league MVP award playing for a losing team (Miami is presently one game under .500). MondaY night was a wonderful advertisement: two home runs and a spectacular diving catch in right field. Stanton now leads the NL in homers (31) and RBIs (82) and is second in OPS (.960). His seven homers of 450-plus feet are more than everybody else's combined team total. At this point only Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could beat Stanton, but most voters lean to the position player in a close call since the pitchers have their own award in the Cy Young. Even as the playoff chase slowly ebbs, Stanton is the reason to keep watching the Marlins.

50 YARDS TO GLORY: LATEST UPDATE: Here's what's new in our radio-bet quest to kick a 50-yard field 1aa1acotequadgoal. In a Saturday training session at St. Thomas Aquinas we did no better than 30 yards before straining a quad muscle. The injury -- depicted by a reader in the illustration shown -- will delay our planned on-air attempt today. In other news we have fired St. Thomas as our host over a controversial Tweet in which @STA_Football demeaned our dream of 50. I love that people are not quite sure if I'm serious about all this or not. I am! Sort of.

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April 28, 2014

G4: Heat 109, Charlotte 98: Sweep = sleep!; plus new Dolphins draft projections, NBA racist-owner poll, Panthers, Dr. Jack, Ireland, Herald & more

1aa1amichotwalt1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 29. Demolition has begun on the iconic Miami Herald building, and Walt Michot's photo here is worth a thousdand words, all of them sad. 2) Jay Z and Beyonce's summer tour will kick off June 25 at Dolphins stadium. 3) ICYMI, click on The Perfect Quarterback for our column on the death of Dolphins icon Earl Morrall. It generated a voluminous positive reaction. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Charlotte G3 with preview/live blog/postgame thoughts/Sunday reflections, Dolphins best-game result & more. 5) Join us Twitter @gregcote.

Panthers fire coach: The Florida Panthers today fired coach Peter Horacheck. It isn't a susprise in the least. They never removed the "interm" tag from him, he did not spark a notable turnaround, and the Cats need a replacement with more NHL experience. With an impressive young nucleus of talent and the No. 1 overall draft pick coming, Florida has a fairly inviting roster. Now GM Dale Tallon must find a premier goal-scorer and make the right coaching hire to re-energize a listing franchise.

No radio today: No me today on the Dan Le Batard Show. I'll be on Friday this week instead.

DOLPHINS LATEST DRAFT PROJECTIONS: ESPN dueling Mock Drafters Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay crap their latest guesswork today and Kiper has Miami selecting Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley 19th overall, while McShay has the Fins picking Virginia tackle Morgan Moses. They have Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin -- the guy Miami really wants -- going 15th and 17th, respectively. Sounds like a trade-up for Martin may be the way to go.

Seahawks hire Jeff Ireland as a temp: Champion Seattle has hired ex-Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland as a consultant through next month's draft. Explained coach Pete Carroll: "We were tired of all this success." Naw, Pete didn't really say that. But Seattle really DID hire Ireland.

G4 FINAL: HEAT 109, CHARLOTTE 98: SWEEP = SLEEP: Postgame: Miami sweeps Charlotte 4-0 with tonight's triumph led by LeBron James' 31 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Now let the playoffs begin! I mean the real playoffs. Brooklyn-Toronto winner on deck for Miami in next round, but, with that series tied 2-2, Heat could be in a for a full week's rest thanks to this sweep. Tonight's Heat 3 Stars: 1. LeBron. (Or did that go without saying); 2. Chris Bosh, with 17 points, 8 rebounds; 3. Norris Cole, with a sparky 13 points, 4 assists off the bench. ..... Halftime thoughts: Heat trail by two 54-52, but Al Jefferson sitting for Bobcats with foot injury and like Heat based on flow of game. Funny that Charlotte fans boo LeBron James at every touch. It's so 2010! Loved Heat's pregame warmup-shirt stunt in support of Clippers and against racist Donald Sterling. Miami shooting only 41.5%, only 2-for-12 from 3 and LeBron with a mortal 11 points and yet it's a (near) even game. Thse things do not bode well for the Bobs. ..... Original post: While playing golf on Saturday (I had a 93 at Inverrary-East while my showboat son shot 79), I predicted the fired-up Heat would win that night's Game 3 easily but 1aa1aheatchag4 1aa1aheatcha 1aa1aheatsweepthen lose Game 4, which is tonight. I called the first one right. Now I'm wavering on tonight.  All know the series is effectively over, and that in 108 all-time NBA playoff sets the team up 3-0 has won every time -- 108 for 108. But human nature can work two ways tonight. It might spark the Bobcats to avoid the embarrassment of a series shutout coupled with the Heat being complacent and coasting. Or! It might find the Bobcats going through the motions, resigned to defeat, while the Heat rev it up again for the sweep -- knowing that would mean welcome extra rest before the next round. Unlike Saturday, I don't have a strong feeling which way this one will go. (I'll be back here with commentary at halftime and postgame).

THE LIST: HEAT-CHARLOTTE SERIES SCORING LEADERS: The top five updated through Game 4:

1. LeBron James, Heat            30.0

2. Kemba Walker, Bobcats       19.5

3. Al jefferson, Bobcats           18.7

4. Dwyane Wade, Heat            17.5

5. Chris Bosh, Heat                 14.5

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated through 4 games/first round): Entering second round: LeBron James 11 points, Dwyane Wade 6, Chris Bosh 4, Chris Andersen 1, Norris Cole 1, James Jones 1. (We name 'Heat 3 Stars' every game and award points on 3-2-1 basis).

MY VIEW: NBA SHOULD FORCE OUT STERLING AS OWNER. NOW YOUR VIEW GOES HERE: No company or entity that deals with the public can afford to be owned or led by a racist -- let alone a franchise owner in 1aa1adonaldsthe NBA, with more than 70 percent of its players African-American. That is why L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racism on that audio tape is such a bombshell-crisis for the NBA and must be dealt with quickly. For now the NBA has told Sterling (pictured) not to show up at Tuesday's Clippers home playoff game, but surely more punishment is ahead. I think Sterling needs to be forced out as owner or at least be made to relinquish his authority -- the harshest penalty. But a hefty suspension and/or fine also is possible. Perhaps you think a public apology would suffice. Some of you may even think no punishment is due because, after all, it's a free country and Sterling isn't breaking any laws with his views even as they outrage most of us including NBA star like the Heat's LeBron James, who said, "There is no place for Donald Sterling in our league." How would you handle this situation if you were new NBA commissioner Adam Silver? (Hmm. Sterling and Silver. How bizarre). Take a dip in our poll and say why.

1aa1adrjackHEAT REACT TO DEATH OF "DR. JACK": [Update: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is pcitured left at age 10, with Dr. Jack at a basketball camp in 1980. Lil' Erik was so cuuuuute!] Original post: Jack Ramsay passed away Monday morning at age 89 at his home in Naples, Fla., after a long battle with cancer. (Naples, 1aa1adrspocoincidentally, was also the adopted hometown where Dolphins great Earl Morrall died on Friday). Ramsay is best known as the basketball Hall of Famer and 20-year NBA coach who led the Portland Trailblazers to their only championship in 1977. But his post-coaching career in broadcasting also was long and accomplished. He has a niche in Heat history as the team's eight-season on-air personality alongside Eric Reed from 1992-2000. Fans may recall the Dr. Jack nugget, "This-away, that-away, Hardaway!" Team owner Micky Arison said today, "When I first bought the team we had no basketball organization in place and Dr. Jack was the first person who I turned to for advice. So for a few days, he was the entire basketball organization for the Miami Heat. Over the years I often turned to him for advice. Club president Pat Riley said: "Dr. Jack Ramsay meant a great deal to me as a mentor when I was coaching and while I've been with the Heat running the team." Ramsay's long, remarkable life included a pre-hoops stint in the Navy working underwater demolition. R.I.P.

GATORS, CANES ODDS FOR '15 NCAA MEN'S HOOPS TITLE: With deadline past for declaring for NBA draft, new odds are out on 2014-15 NCAA men's basketball season, and national-championship favorites are Kentucky at 5-1, Duke 9-1, Wisconsin 12-1 and Kansas 14-1. Florida, Arizona and North Carolina are bunched at 16-1. Miami is 66-1, ahead of Florida State's 100-1.

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April 24, 2014

R.I.P. Earl Morrall, 79; plus Heat are angry (war on Charlotte!), Dolphins-schedule poll (vote now), runners, FIU sand volleyball (what?) & more

1) It is FRIDAY, APRIL 25. I'm holed up at Random Evidence Laboratories today craft-brewing Sunday's notes-column package. It's hoppy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Charlotte G2, Arison's guarantee, Heat in Game of Thrones, Bobcat Jesus, Jose Fernandez, Meb Keflezighi, Rubin (Hurricane) Carter & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

Heat not satisfied with McRoberts fine for LeBron mugging: Charlotte's Josh McRoberts was fined $20,000 yesterday by the NBA for a flagrant 2 foul in Game 2 when his forearm struck LeBron James' throat. McMuggerts is lucky; he should have been suspended for Saturday's Game 3 in Charlotte. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra agreed, saying today, "We disagree with this," meaning just a fine. James said today he is "frustrated" by the pounding he takes but won't retaliate. "This isn't the 1980s," he noted.

1aa1aearlmDOLPHINS ICON EARL MORRALL DEAD AT 79: Quarterback Earl Morrall, who had such a big hand in the Dolphins' 1972 Perfect Season, died this morning in Naples, Fla. after years of declining health. Morrall replaced injured starter Bob Griese in '72 and led the team to nine straight victories and two more in the playoffs before being replaced by Griese in the Super Bowl. Morrall was 38 when Don Shula brought him to Miami in '72. He would start only 12 games over five seasons, but his role in Miami's historic 17-0 season was enough to make him a franchise icon and forge a unique legacy. I have a column on Morrall that is newly online -- click on The Perfect Quarterback to read -- and shipping to Saturday's inky pulp editions. 

1aa1adolsked14RANKING DOLPHINS SCHEDULE 1-THROUGH-16 ON GAME WATCHABILITY: I scan the Dolphins' newly released 2014 schedule, weighing the caliber of each opponent and factoring in home/away, and at first glance I come up with a most-likely record of 8-8. Which means another of those 9-7 to 7-9 range, Stealers Wheel/"Stuck In The Middle With You" seasons may be ahead. NOOOOOOO! The Dolphins have turned into Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Just below there's a poll inviting you to name the Dolphins home game you are most looking forward to. First here's my ranking of all 16 games, not chronologically but 1-through-16 based on watchability and anticipation:

1. Sept. 7 vs. Patriots: Start with division power. No soft-opening here!

2. Nov. 23 @ Broncos: Sorry, I meant to say @ Peyton Manning.

3. Dec. 28 vs. Jets: Season-ender could have playoff stakes for Fins.

4. Dec. 1 @ Jets: Bitter rival. Monday night lights. Any questions?

5. Oct. 12 vs. Packers: Joe Philbin's old team. Oh, and Aaron Rodgers.

6. Dec. 14 @ Patriots: Pack the longjohns. Battle for AFC East crown?

7. Sept. 28 @ Raiders: Wembley in London is why it's interesting.

8. Nov. 13 vs. Bills: Will game live up? It's prime-time Thursday.

9. Dec. 21 vs. Vikings: Adrian Peterson's first career game in Miami.

10. Dec. 7 vs. Ravens: Post-Ray Lewis and off 8-8, BAL not what it was.

11. Oct. 19 @ Bears: Storied opponent, and Soldier Field is still special.

12. Sept. 21 vs. Chiefs: Amply fed Andy Reid had KC 11-5 last year.

13. Nov. 2 vs. Chargers: One of those season-altering tossup games.

14. Sept. 14 @ Bills: Pretty rough when highlight is Ralph Wilson tribute.

15. Nov. 9 @ Lions: Winnable roadie. But pack pass defense for trip.

16. Oct. 26 @ Jaguars: Rotten opponent. Awful fans. Sad stadium.

POLL: WHAT DOLPHINS HOME GAME INTERESTS YOU THE MOST?: Life is full of tough choices, Dolfan. It's a fairly attractive home schedule, and you can only pick the one game you are most looking forward to. Games are listed chronologically. Vote and say why:

NBA SHOULD HAVE PENALIZED LEBRON-MUGGER JOSH "JESUS" McROBERTS: That hard forearm to the throat of LeBron James late in last night's 101-97 Heat playoff win merited a suspension or at least a fine of Charlotte's Josh McRoberts, who we noted in a previous blogpost looks like Jesus. Instead he was fined $20K, which to most NBA players is loose change under the sofa cushion. No flagrant foul was called but the NBA reviewed the play today and called it a flagrant 2. The good news for Miami? The only player better than LeBron is LeBron, angry, and that play could  be the spark Miami needs as it heads to Charlotte for two games starting Saturday. The Heat, though up 2-0, has yet to play exceptionally well in the postseason. Click on Do Not Rile the King for my column off last night's win.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (through 2 games): Entering Game 3 Saturday: LeBron James 5 points, Dwyane Wade 4, Chris Bosh 2, James Jones 1. (We name 'Heat 3 Stars' every game and award points on a 3-2-1 basis).

1aa1acorprun
ON MIAMI CORPORATE RUN:
The annual Miami Corporate Run displaced and greatly inconvenienced thousands of motorists was contested yesterday on downtown streets. I have noticed that runners are prone to making a public display of their obsession, as with competing en masse and also with those bragadocious, I'm-fitter-than-you '26.2' and '13.1' car decals. Anyway, the winner of last evening's race, pictured front right, was a Mr. James Harden, 24, from Houston, Tex.

1aa1afiusandIN RAPT APPRECIATION OF FIU SAND VOLLEYBALL: The FIU sand volleyball team has earned its first trip to the nationals. We mention that here as a gratuitous excuse to show you the team's more-interesting-than-usual team schedule poster. Sand volleyball is like regular volleyball, but on a beach, or sand made to seem like a beach. What's not to like?

LORDE'S "ROYALS" GETS SPRINGSTEENIZED:

 

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