April 29, 2015

It's Mock Day in Miami!; plus Mayweather/Winston boycott poll (vote now); also, new 'Weighing The Fish' leader, Dion Jordan, Ray Lewis on Baltimore riots, best UM/Dolphin result & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' best UM draftee poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dion Jordan = Bust: You could always have debated whether it was still premature to call Dion Jordan a draft bust. Until yesterday. Now the Dolphins' 2013 No. 1 draft pick has violated the NFL drug policy -- again -- and been suspended without pay for the entire 2015 season. His Miami career is effectively or should we say ineffectively done. Perhaps his NFL career is, too. What a shame. For the Dolphins, and also for the sad waste that Dion Jordan has made of himself.

1aa1alewisrayRay Lewis on the Baltimore riots: Lewis, the eloquent retired Raven and ex-Cane, speaks out strongly, angrily and passionately against the violence going on in Baltimore that has caused postponement of two straight Orioles home games and will case today's to be played in an empty stadium. Lewis agrees with me -- that the rioters and looters have no right to ruin that city. Outrage, no matter how justified, does not make right those actions. Picture is a still from the video Lewis posted on Facebook. Click here to listen and watch. Powerful.

1aa1amedraftIT'S MOCK DAY IN MIAMI!: [Update: Mock Draft has been completed and filed. Should appear online and in a new blogpost here momentarily] The NFL Draft begins with its first round Thursday night, and that 1aa1amockd
means I am holed up in the Miami Herald Mock Draft Emporium all day today seeing my mock materialize. Will Jameis Winston go No. 1 overall. Who'll be a Dolphin at 14th overall? How many (if any) Miami Hurricanes will be stamped 1R quality? This is my 24th annual mock draft for the Herald, and it should be online I hope by mid-afternoon today before splashing old-school into Thursday's inky pulp editions. Pictured at right: Me in mid-mock draft research. I'll have updates here on when today you can expect it online.

BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT? TALKING NFL DRAFT, MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO AND MORALITY: ESPN's Keith Olbermann, America's self-appointed Morality Policeman, calls for a fan/viewer boycott of the NFL Draft because of Jameis Winston's sexual-assault accusation and of the big Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny 1aa1akeithoPacquiao 1aa1amayjame
fight because of Mayweather's history of domestic violence. I offer a different view in today's latest column -- click on Booing Is Fine, No Boycott Needed to read in full. A boycott of the draft because of Winston is patently absurd, a gross overreaction. Winston, though investigated for sexual assault and the subject of an ongoing related civil suit, never has been charged with the crime let alone convicted. Does that still matter in this country? Innocent until proven guilty? Unless you are protesting stolen crab legs are other spasms of idiot behavior by Winston, your boycott is based on what you think was a crime event though the legal system did not. That's Quixotic, silly, unfair. A boycott of Mayweather at least is arguable. Why pay money to Mayweather to watch a man who has been convicted multiple times of domestic violence and served two months in jail for it in 2012? If you feel that way, fine. I just hate moralists like Olbermann implying I condone domestic violence or don't stand as tall for women as they do if I don't go along. Personally, I'll consider it money well spent if I shell out 90 bucks for the May-Pac fight pay-per-view and get to cheer Mayweather's first career defeat -- get to see him hit hard as symbolic payback for the times he raised his lethal fists to women. We all have a right to protest as we wish, and it doesn't always involve a bullhorn or a march or a boycott. I can boo Winston and hope he's a draft bust if I wish. I can boo Mayweather and hope he's knocked out cold. No boycott needed. How do you feel? Which of the four poll options here comes closest to reflecting your opinion? Vote and say why.

WEIGHING THE FISH (20 GAMES): We throw the occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweigh 1aa1agia2we debuted a new feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our second ranking. WTF is cumulative and factors six offensive categories. It serves as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best season or, in this case, who's off to the best start and who most needs to pick it up. Weighing The Fish after 20 games (at 8-12):

Rank Player                          WTF#    @10

1    Giancarlo Stanton             129.9    2

2    Dee Gordon                         120.4    1

3    Adeiny Hechevarria          116.6    4

4    Martin Prado                      88.0    5

5    Michael Morse                    73.4    3

6    Marcell Ozuna                    71.3    8

7    Ichiro Suzuki                      63.9    7

8    Jacob Realmuto                 53.4    --

9    Christian Yelich                 47.9    6

10  Jarrod Saltalamacchia      32.4    9

Poll result: From slim pickings, Olivier Vernon named Dolphins' best UM Hurricane draftee: We gave you our three finalists, and the defensive end Vernon won with 48.3 percent to 38.2% for offensive tackle Vernon Carey and only 13.5% for running back Lamar Miller.

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January 10, 2015

Canton calling: Your football Hall of Fame ballot. 15 finalists, you pick 5. Poll. Vote now!; plus Rex Ryan to Bills, new Hot Button Top 10 & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 11. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Two Super Bowl polls, NFL Divisional Round picks, Shula and Beli-cheat, Canes' big win, Rob Konrad, Bosh the actor, mouthy relatives & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

My NFL Divisional Round pix: Saturday: Patriots, 27-23, and Seahawks, 21-13. Sunday: Broncos, 34-24, and Packers, 31-24. (I was 3-1 overall, 1-3 vs. the spread). Click Divisional Gems for the full predix capsules.

"Rex Ryan to Buffalo as head coach? Not sure if the Bills just got better, but I am sure they just got noisier." --Greg Cote

YOU SELECT WHO GETS INTO PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Baseball voters who decide entry into 1aa1acantgonCooperstown (I'm one of them) come under annual criticism largely because the Steroids Era-factor makes the vote so polarizing and complicated. Football voters who decide entry into Canton have no such issues, and rarely if ever seem to have their choices scrutinized or slammed. (I'd mention the basketball and hockey halls, but nobody really cares). Anyway,the Pro Football Hall of Fame has winnowed its 2015 nominees to 15 modern-era finalists, who I present alphabetically in this poll. A maximum of five will be elected, so I invite you to vote for as many as five (5) here. Three or four seem obvious to me, but that's just me. I'll tell you my five later.

READING LEBRON'S MIND: The Cavaliers are 19-18, have lost four straight and are presently the sixth seed. The Heat are 15-21, have lost five of six and are slotted eighth. Somewhere, there is telepathy between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and it sounds something like this: "We should-a left it alone."

HOT BUTTON JAN. 11: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NFL: Patriots, Seahawks advance; two more today: Patriots (narrowly) and Seahawks (comfortably) won Divisional Round games Saturday, now Colts-Broncos and Cowboys-Packers on Sunday will complete the AFC and NFC title-game matchups. Conpsiracy theorists are ready in case Dallas wins on another lucky call.

2. College football: Oregon, Ohio State in first playoff title game Monday: Fair to say Oregon will have rooting interest of much of country outside of Ohio, because every game needs a villain. America doesn't have Jameis Winston to taunt or Nick Saban to hate, but Urban Meyer is an acceptable substitute.

3. Dolphins: Team adds ex-Jets GM Tannebaum to front office: Mike Tannenbaum becoming VP of football operations was met with knee-jerking derision from many Dolfans and media, who clamored for change but evidently not this change.

4. Heat: Slumping team carries tailspin to west coast: Heat star Chris Bosh stars in Funny or Die's new short comedy viedo, Tall Justice 2. Is it just me, or do Heat players' various side projects tend to be much more amusing when the team is headed to another NBA Finals than when it has lost five of six and is 15-21?

5. Baseball: Hall of Fame adds four to Cooperstown: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were elected, the largest class since 1955. Could that be because those were only players left untarnished by steroid use or rumors? (Benefit of doubt to Biggio on that...)

6. Panthers: Luongo named to NHL all-star team: Florida had only one player named to the all-star team so it's fitting it is goalie Roberto Luongo, who has team in the playoff chase despite the Cats being one of the lowest-scoring teams in NHL.

7. Hurricanes: Women's basketball stuns No. 4 Notre Dame: UM ended Notre Dame's 30-game road winning streak as the Canes were led by Adrienne Motley's 32 points. Is there even a slight chance the Canes should not now be nicknamed Motley Crew?

8. Rob Konrad: Ex-Dolphin heroically saves own life: Fishing alone, boat on autopilot, Konrad falls overboard, swims nine miles to safety through rough Atlantic waters in dead of night. Man, some guys'll do anything for attention!

9. Stuart Scott: ESPN anchors succumbs to cancer: Polarizing in life but lauded in death, Stuart Scott left us at 49 after a battle with cancer. "Boo-ya's!" at half-mast, please.

10. Don Shula: Icon calls Belichick "Beli-cheat": Turning 85, Shula in an interview called Bill Belichick "Beli-cheat," a reference to the 2007 "Spygate" incident that brought Belichick a $500,000 fine and cost Pats a first-round pick. Shula got criticized, bt what's that they say abiout truth being the best defense?

Poll result: Thinking Seahawks win Super Bowl, hoping Packers: We asked in separate polls who think think will win the Super Bowl and who you want to win from among the final eight. The top three in each category: Predict will win--Seahawks 34.1 percent, Patriots 23.9%, Packers 21.2%. Want to win--Packers 24.9 percent, Broncos 22.8%, Panthers 12.4%.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 16, 2014

Dolphins vs. Heat vs. Canes poll extended through today only. Vote now!; plus ESPYs, World Cup in 245 seconds, Kate Upton & more

1aa1amandela1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 19. Thinking of the late, great Nelson Mandela (pictured), who would have turned 96 on Friday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Post-LeBron Heat outlook poll, Stanton/Jeter/All-Star break, Pouncey's latest woe, Hot Button Top 10, my ill-timed vacation & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Word of the day: balter: To dance gracelessly, without particular art or skill, but perhaps with some enjoyment.

WHOSE TOWN IS IT, ANYWAY? HAS LEBRON'S EXIT OPENED THE DOOR?: One of the little-considered 1aa1akingmiamibyproducts of LeBron James leaving Miami is the idea that, if this had become a "basketball town" over the past four years largely because of him ... is it still? (Was it ever?) Do the Dolphins now have a large opportunity to reclaim what once was theirs? I know this poll question is tough for some of you because many of us, me included, follow more than one local team closely and hate to choose. Still, you know your heart and gut feeling must start somewhere. The poll is limited to South Florida's four major pro teams plus UM football. Apologies to others, but this clearly is our Big 5 teams. And, apologies to the Marlins and Cats, but we imagine a three-team race for the crown. So, post-LeBron and moving forward, which of our biggest teams do you follow most closely or care about the most? King James is gone. In his wake, who's our King Team? Vote and say why.

Heat fans still optimistic in wake of LeBron departure: We asked in the previous blogpost, and 70.7 percent of you said you remain optimistic about Miami entering this coming NBA season, versus 15.9% who are pessimistic. The other 13.4% were undecided.

ESPN, NORMALLY LOATH TO SELF-PROMOTE, ROLLS OUT THE ESPYS: I've never fully embraced the ESPYS as necessary annual awards -- sports has too many already -- but here they came again last night, 1aa1aespyswith Drake (pictured) hosting. ESPN leads the league in self-promotion, and the ESPYS are the Worldwide Leader at its preening best. Not many Miami/South Florida athletes among finalists in this year's 34 categories. I wonder if LeBron James, up for best NBA player, would have thanked Miami fans if he'd won? New Heatnik Shabazz Napier was up for best championship performance while with UConn, Serena Williams from Palm Beach was up for best female tennis player; and IndyCar's Ryan Hunter-Reay, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, was up for best driver. Only Hunter-Reay won. An auction benefitting the V Foundation for cancer research was held, in conjunction with the ESPYS, and when last I checked the high bid among 258 items was $46,000 to watch a Mavs game with owner Mark Cuban. (I'd pay at least that much to not sit next to Cuban for two hours). Bargain: For a mere $3,050 you could watch a Heat game with Dan Le Batard, Papi and Stugotz, although I'd imagine Stugotz will scalp his ticket to a broker and miss the game. (For $1.99 you could smoke a cigar with me in my garage, if you bring the cigars).

THE ENTIRE WORLD CUP IN 245 SECONDS: Click here for a 4 minute 5 second video that summarizes the 2014 World Cup. For futbol aficionados, it may be emotional. For casual fans, it may further whet the appetite. For soccer agnostics, it may (hopefully) offer a glimpse of what they've been missing that so enthralls so much of the world.

1aa1akateupton"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but I feel like it has been a long time since you've had a gratuitously sexy photo of Kate Upton. Can this be remedied?" Dear Reader: That depends. Is there a gratuity in it for me?

Click back often because we update and add to our latest blogposts often...

May 22, 2014

Who's biggest Heat-hater in national media? Poll has Top 5. Vote now!; plus Landon Donovan, Mark Cuban, Dolphins rookie camp & more

1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 23. I'm up in Random Evidence Laboratories today summonging the newest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Pacers Game 2 with video, why Hoosiers hate me, benevolent umpires & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

1aa1asymonetteFacts That May Only Interest Me: There will be 119 officials working NFL games this coming season. The only one of the 119 who graduated from a Florida college is Tom Symonette, No. 100, line judge, 11-year veteran, ex-Gator.

Speaking of Heat haters...: Bill Simmons (among frontrunners in our Anti-Heat poll below) will be in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket.

WHO GRAND MARSHALS THE ANTI-HEAT PARADE?: It's always something. It's always someone. The national commentary that rubs Miami the wrong way and makes a Heat fan shake his or her head. The 1aa1akeephatinglatest is Charles Barkley this week saying, "Those fans in Miami are not real fans, those fans in Cleveland are real fans" -- in predicting and encouraging James to return to the Cavaliers. Before that, during the Heat's Game 2 win in Indiana, Bill Simmons surmised that LeBron's slow start in the game may have been because he'd heard Cleveland had just won the draft lottery. Oh, and don't get a Heat fan started on Skip Bayless! They're 1aa1aheatleseverywhere: National journalists or talking heads who never seem to give the Heat enough credit or can barely contain their delight in speculating LeBron will leave. In this poll I have listed alphabetically my Top 5 Anti-Heat guys, in either reality or perception (your choice). I could have listed others such as Michelle Beadle, Ric Bucher or Brian Windhorst. Maybe you'd include Stephen A. Smith? That's where the 'other' vote comes in. Have I left anybody out? Vote for who you consider to be the biggest Anti-Heat person in the national media and say why.

ON MARK CUBAN'S ADMISSION: Outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, in a newly published article in Inc. magazine: "I know I'm prejudiced. I'm bigoted in a lot of ways. I mean, we're all prejudiced 1aa1amcubanin one way or another. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it's late at night, I'm walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there's a guy that has tattoos all over his face -- white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere -- I'm walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of. I try not to be hypocritical. I know that I'm not perfect. I know that I live in a glass house, and it's not appropriate for me to throw stones." (Click here for the full interview. He made similar comments yesterday in a speech in Nashville). The comments are immediately controversial; them coming in the context of the NBA's Donald Sterling mess gives them added volume. Clearly Cuban, unlike Sterling, has no track record of racism. Still, Michael Wilbon today, for one, called Cuban's comments "awkward," called the reaction a "firestorm" and said the owner must explain himself further. Me? I think Cuban was speaking a human-nature truth that lives within most of us in terms of stereotyping. I give him credit for saying it aloud. But I also find "If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it's late at night..." to be especially troubling, because it is that exact stereotyping mindset that may have gotten Trayvon Martin killed.

SHH. THE DOLPHINS ARE PRACTICING: Dolphins have a rookie mini-camp today/Friday through the weekend 1aa1ajjamesand it flies largely undetected by local radar. It isn't just the overshadowing Heat playoff run. It's the lack of anybody -- anybody -- with star appeal. That can happen when your No. 1 draft pick is an offensive lineman (in this case Ja'Wuan James, pictured, from Tennessee). That can also happen when five of your eight picks are from North Dakota State, Liberty, Montana, Coastal Carolina and Marist. Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Michael Sam and others bring big noise to other NFL teams' rookie camps. Miami's incoming crop of eight draftees and some 20 undrafted free agents may prove bounteously successful. But, going in, may we admit it's on the Dull side of the Excitement scale?

ON THE LANDON DONOVAN EXCLUSION: Was surprised and disappointed by the news Landon Donovan had been left off the final 23-man USA roster for this summer's soccer World Cup. Bold call by coach 1aa1alandondJurgen Klinsmann. Donovan played in previous three World Cups and is all-time leading U.S. scorer in international goals with 57 (in 156 games). Here is the statement Donovan put out on Facebook: "It has been an honor and privilege to have represented the U.S. national team in three World Cups. I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with [Thursday's] decision. Regardless, I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the U.S. in the years to come." Donovan, at 32, had lost a step, but I felt his World Cup experience and savvy would have been a stabilizer for the team. Klinsmann's decision is ripe for second-guessing.

WATCH WHERE YOU PARK: Are you an able-bodied person who has ever ignored a "handicapped 1aa1ahandiparking" sign and parked in a spot reserved for those with disabilities? Or seen somebody else do that? Click here and you may think twice. By the way, the old-fashioned "handicapped parking" logo we are used to is getting a makeover, being replaced by a more dynamic, forward-leaning figure as pictured. Me, I'd like to see an even more dynamic logo in which the stick figure in the wheelchair is a pointing a gun at someone parked in his spot.

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September 30, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 58.2%; plus Miami falls to 3-1 at Saints, 38-17; Heat media day, Lebby goes natty & more

1) It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1. Happy new month, everybody! 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Collball Week 5 roundup, UM routs South Florida, Canesfan Satisfaction Meter & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 58.2%: Results are certified in the latest of our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 58.2 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Monday night's 38-17 loss at New Orleans putting Miami's season 1aa1dsmrecord at 3-1. This actually is a fairly high overall number following a loss, and includes a plurality of 39.4% calling themselves "somewhat" satisfied. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:15 a.m. today/Wednesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% satisfaction (20.3 very, 66.2 somewhat) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% satisfaction (71.9 very, 26.9 somewhat) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% satisfaction (78.2 very, 20.8 somewhat) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% satisfaction (18.8 very, 58.2 somewhat) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

Next poll: Oct. 6 following game vs. Baltimore.

G4: DOLPHINS @ NEW ORLEANS: ARE THEY READY-FOR-PRIME-TIME PLAYERS?: Final: Big pic? Can't get too down. Miami is 3-1 at the quarter turn after a road loss to a very good team. Defensive injuries hurt Dolphins tonight, though not as much as four turnovers hurt -- all by Ryan Tannehill. Problem areas beyond the turnovers: Brees made the MIA pass D look just awful. Mike Wallace had his third quiet game in four. And the Dolphins O-line/pass protection continues in serious need of major, immediate improvement. ..... 4Q: Tanny arm hit at release, causing 3rd INT, 4th tunover. Done. ... Too little too late but MIA finally gets a defensive takeaway inside own 10 when Jimmy Wilson strips Sproles of ball. ... Tannehill suffers 2nd INT, 3rd turnover. Fork time. ... Fleur de Lis up 38-17 after a 29-yard FG. Time for Dandy Don Meredith to start singing from the grave. (How creepy would that be!?) ... MIA within 35-17 on Charles Clay 3-yard TD pass from Tannhill. Still need a miracle. ..... 3Q: Cajuns miss FG try! Something goes right for Dolphins! ... OK this is getting embarrassing. Brees' 4th TD pass is 43-yarder to Graham. Chris Clemons didn't have a chance. ... Brees' 3rd TD pass is a 4-yard flip to Ben Watson and Cajuns are in charge at 28-10. Miami needs some deep shots on O and sudden answers on pass-D or this one is done. ..... Half: Two things are killing Miami at the half: Turnovers, both by Tannehill, each have led to Saints points. And Darren Sproles' 7 catches for 114 yards have victimized Miami's defense. Tanny's numbers are fine -- 9-for-13 for 128 yards -- but his INT and lost fumble are the difference. ..... 2Q: NO up 21-10 in final minute of half on Sproles 13-yard scoring catch on 3rd-and-11, thanks to a Nolan Carroll failed gamble on D. More points off turnovers. ... Tanny picked off late in half, his second turnover of game. That's the difference so far. ... Dolphs within 14-10 on Lamar Miller 5-yard scoring jaunt. Marcus Thigpen 50-yard catch and run sets it up. ... N'Awlins up 14-3 on 27-yard Brees strike to ex-Cane Jimmy Graham. Rookie Jamar Taylor with decent coverage, but Graham too tall and the pass too perfect. That's points off a turnover, which Miami absolutely cannot afford tonight. (Also can't give up first down on a 3rd-and-20).  ... Tannehill fumbles, turns ball over on run, ending drive into Saints territory. ...... 1Q: I must say, a fairly encouraging first Q. ... Might have liked to have seen MIA go for there on 4th-and-1 from own 45. Like Jon Gruden said, you're probably going to need to score 30 to be in this game. ... Miami within 7-3 on 34-yard Caleb Sturgis FG but disappointing because Dolphs eschewed a QB sneak on 3rd and inches. You don't hand off six yards deep in that situation. ... Impressive Saints opening drive for 7-0 lead on 4-yard Darren Sprol draw-play TD run. That was the series you worried about if you worried Drew Brees might have a big night. ..... Original post: Miami 3-0 for the first time since 2002 and aiming for its first 4-0 breakout since '95. Drew Brees' Saints also 3-0. The 1aa1dol4 1aa1dolsaintsMonday night stage and the nation watching. Oh my. Easy theme in the Big Easy: Are the Dolphins ready? Are the Dolphins ready at long last to fit this stage and be national players again? We'll see. For now, oh yes, I believe we are ready for some football, thank you! Excitement aside, I'm afraid Dolfans should perhaps be worried tonight. Brees is awfully tough to beat at home and tougher to hold under 300 yards, and Jimmy Graham has the skills to exploit Miami's tendency to struggle against top tight ends. It isn't that I doubt the Dolphins; I think they're a playoff team. It's that Brees at home on a Monday night is a tall, tall order. My pick: Saints, 34-20.

1aa1danrunDAN MARINO'S LEGS: To my attention came this story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about this, the 35th anniversary of Dan Marino's senior season at the city's Central Catholic High. The point of the piece is what a great runner Marino was in high-school, surprising since he never was with the Dolphins during his Hall of Fame career. Marino fans may enjoy the story. Here is a photo of the prep Marino on a TD run -- all the more remarkable because he appears to be missing a foot.

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IT WAS A MAJOR, MANIC, MONSTROUS, MARVELOUS MONDAY IN MIAMI!: (Man, I love alliteration!) It wasn't just the Dolphins last night. Two pretty big South Florida events happened earlier in the day...

1aa1heatmediadayThe Heat's road to a three-peat begins now: The double-champion Miami Heat reconvened in the bayside arena for the first time since the place still had the sweet stink of champagne and confetti on the floor. It was Media Day as the team ceremonially christened the 2013-14 season before jetting off to the Bahamas for a four-day training camp. The highlight: "I want to be the greatest of all-time," said LeBron James -- more directly than ever. Click on Defeating Doubt for my column off Media Day.

1aa1danradioLe Batard goes national: The Dan Le Batard Show on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket went national on ESPN Radio starting yesterday at 4 p.m. The show was canceled at 5:45. OH I'M JUST KIDDING, RELAX! The show was not canceled and will be a big hit despite my occasional on-air involvement. If you heard the national debut, what'd y'all think? Congrats to our buddy Dan!

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September 26, 2013

LeBron's wristwatch costs more than a house-*; plus Dolphins/NFL W4 predix, Wade-Durant feud poll, Beinfest firing, Le Batard update & more

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27. Today I'm at Random Evidence Laboratories conjuring Sunday's notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins, Marlins slammed in ESPN franchise rankings, Canes' 1,000 days of hell, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

"Scientists estimate the sun will obliterate the Earth in 2.25 billion years. Appreciate the heads-up!" -- Greg Cote

1aa1lebwatchTHE SPLENDOR OF LEBRON JAMES' WRISTWATCH: I said in the main headline it costs more than a house. (*-OK, more than some houses). It costs $51,500. Not a lot for a house, granted. But a lot for a watch. Yet there was LeBron today in Miami at a lavish event to introduce his new limited line of wristwatches for Audemars Piguet, which I take it is better than Timex and Bulova combined. His line is called the "Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph" and it comes with an 18-karat pink-gold case, oversize Arabic numerals, a gray patterned dial and a crocodile strap. Sure you can spend less than 52K for a watch, but why would you!? Hurry, they only made 600 of these. Click HERE for the full story. The photo of the Heat's bon vivant is by Juan Fernando. The best part about LeBron's expensive, designer wristwatch? He can take one look at it and know instantly it's almost time to win another championship.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 4 PREDIX FOR DOLPHINS, NFL: A confession, Dolfans. I, aparently, am not a 1aa1fripixbeliever. (I think that might make me a heathen). I believe the Dolphins are much improved and pretty good, likely playoffs-good. I just don't believe they can outscore Drew Brees in the Superdome Monday night. Click on Week 4 Gems for my full predix capsules on Dolphins-Saints and every other game. And click on State Of the NFL for my Friday Page column, a by-the-numbers look at how many players every state college has in the league and who the best are. (My week got off to a good start last night. Had the 49ers winning and covering in St. Louis, and they did. Thank you, Frank Gore).

WADE/DURANT FEUD: REAL OR RUSE?: [Update: Wade said last night at a charity function that the feud is not a contrivance. Wait ... isn't that what you'd say even if it was? Hmm]. Most of you know by now that Kevin Durant said in an interview this week that James Harden should replace the Heat's Dwyane Wade in a Sports Illustrated top-10 list of 1aa1dwkdbest NBA players entering this coming season. Wade shot back on Twitter and Instagram saying he'll have to teach Durant some respect ... "again." Durant then replied, "Show me don't tweet me." It's interesting on the face of it because it's rare for one NBA star to call another one out, and Durant was all but saying Wade is overrated. But this little back and forth is even more interesting, to me, if it's fake as some suggest -- a social-media ruse, a setup for a new Gatorade commercial perhaps. I explore all of this in today's latest column, acknowledging the possibility it's fake but also the possibility it's real. Click on WADE VS. DURANT to read. (This is the updated version of the column, replacing the earlier version that unfortunately appears in print). I suggest the larger point that, either way, real or fake, this invites us to consider whether Wade, turning 32 in January, remains an elite/top-10 player, and to also consider his sensitivity to any doubts about that. Meantime, do you believe this feud is real or fake? Vote and say why.

ON LORIA'S FIRING OF BEINFEST: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria dropped the guillotine on president of 1aa1beinbaseball ops Larry Beinfest this afternoon, not the least bit surprising. Suspicious as I am of just about anything Loria does, I cannot say Beinfest (pictured) built a record over his 12 seasons to suggest the change is unwarranted. He deserves some credit for the 2003 championship and for drafting Jose Fernandez in 2011. Those are nice bookends. But there was an awful lot of failure and bad draft picks elsewhere. The problem now? Convincing ourselves Loria will A) make a smart hire to replace Beinfest, then B) stay the hell out of his way.

ESPN PRESS RELEASE INDICATES I'M GOING NATIONAL WITH LE BATARD: The Dan Le Batard Show goes national on ESPN Radio this Monday at 4 p.m. The show will air Monday-through-Friday from 3-4 p.m. 1aa1eradioonly on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket, and then 4-7 nationally (and still locally, of course). ESPN has removed 'with Stugotz' from the show's title, but he's still the intrepid co-host. An ESPN press release says, "Rotating guest co-hosts, including Bomani Jones and Greg Cote, will often join Le Batard and Stugotz to provide listeners with a slightly different experience every day." This is the first time my name has appeared in an official report not associated with the police. Being a "rotating guest co-host" sounds dizzying. ESPN Radio has 24 million listeners on 450 stations, numbers expected to decline immediately following every appearance by me. The Le Batard Show will have an after-party at Whiskey Tango on Monday following the national debut.

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August 17, 2013

PS3: Houston 24, Dolphins 17: Biggest test yet. Tannehill to Wallace finally hits, but Keller injury is big!; plus AP preseason poll, LeBron, Fox Sports 1 result & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 19. Click on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes column. 2) Amused that Dwyane Wade says he is hopeful the Heat's Big 3 will stay together beyond this coming season. Ask yourself, though, "If the whole point is to defuse controversy and distraction, what else would he say in August?" 3) ESPN is close enough to a monopoly that I do not like Fox Sports 1's chances to make a big dent. Regis Philbin!? That's a joke, right? 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): ESPN girds for latest attack, Offerdahl on Honor Roll, college football predictions & more. 5) Join us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter returns: We'll be back with a sixth season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter polls appearing in the blog right after every Dolphins game. But as always the polls begin with the regular season, not the preseason. Watch for the first DSM on Sept. 8.

PS3: HOUSTON 24, DOLPHINS 17: TANNEHILL-TO-WALLACE ENCOURAGING, BUT KELLER HURT: Miami was outgained 2-to-1 in total yards and the pass defense was shaky at best, so, the score was more competitive than the Dolphins were with one of the NFL's best teams. Encouraging signs, though, included a big one: Ryan Tannehill connecting three times for 58 yards to Mike Wallace, including a 33-yard strike and a 9-yard TD pass. Tannehill (10-15, 141 yards) looked sharp. Also, a Brent Grimes interception reflected his strong training camp. The injury that looks like it will shelve tight end Dustin Keller for the season is big, but let's not overdramatize it and retroactively make like Keller was a Pro Bowl dominator. If the Patriots can withstand the erasure of Aaron Hernandez and injury of Rob Gronkowski, let's not act like Miami's offense is now doomed by the absence of Keller. Overall, at 1-2 with two exhibitions to go we still have no real sense of how good Miami will be, but Tannehill-to-Wallace was a positive coming out of this one as much as the Keller injury was a negative. (Apologies for not being here during the game or updating immediately afterward. Out of town family obligations prevented the former, and connectivity issues the latter. ..... Original post: Tonight should be a better gauge than what we've had on how good the Dolphins are. The Hall of Fame Game was like an early walk-through even by preseason standards, and last week brought a really 1aa1dolhoubad opponent in Jacksonville. Tonight offers a strong foe in Houston, which is dreaming Super Bowl. And the third of five exhibitions is (hopefully) a time to start 1aa1dolps3polishing a bit and play starters more. Specifically, some game interaction between Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace would be nice (and encouraging), considering he missed PS1 and then wasn't even thrown to last week. A deep connection or TD pass to Wallace would be both meaningless but meaningful if you know what I mean. Dolfans are looking for tangible signs Wallace was worth the big money and Tanny is poised to make a big step. Also will be interested to see new kicker Caleb Sturgis tonight with a little weight on him for the first time. On the Houston side, LB Brian Cushing is expected to make his debut and play for the first time since a Game 5 season-ending injury last year. That dresses the night with a little more of an occasion-feel for the Texans. Finally, struggling Miami left tackle Jonathan Martin will see a supreme challenge, at least in small doses, in pass-batting J.J. Watt, who might be the best defensive player in the NFL. In sum, an impressive show by Miami tonight will be legitimately encouraging. (Note: I'm out of town this weekend but will make a Herculean effort to be here at least sporadically during the game and then offer postgame thoughts. Meanwhile, talk amongst yourselves. There's an open bar).

Poll result: Split feelings on ESPN vulnerability: With Fox Sports 1's hyped rollout today, we asked how vulernable you think ESPN is (you may still vote), and 51.5 percent said the "Worldwide Leader" should be concerned, when last we checked, versus 48.5% who said otherwise. That may be one of the closest votes we have ever had on an either/or question. (That means I think it is, but I'm too lazy to do the research).

CANES JUST MISS IN AP PRESEASON FOOTBALL POLL: The Associated Press college football poll still is 1aa1ap25the Granddaddy of 'em all, to me, and of course Alabama is a near-unanimous No. 1 in Saturday's preseason Top 25. (Aside the the one voter who chose Ohio State: Either Nick Saban stole your wife, or you're an idiot). Gators check in No. 10 and Seminoles No. 11. U-Miami is fourth in "others receiving votes," tantamount to a No. 29 ranking out the gate. An early-season game vs. Florida gives the Canes a big shot to leap high and fast up the rankings.

ROYALTY: LEBRON GETS POLICE ESCORT TO SHOW: LeBron James got special passage to last night's Jay-Z/Justin Timberlake concert at Dolphins stadium; click here for details. This is no surprise. LeBron is King. I'd have been only slightly less surprised if James had leaped on stage and grabbed a mic. Or if the concert had been moved to his house to avoid his needing to drive there in the first place.

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August 15, 2013

As Fox Sports 1 readies big launch, how vulnerable is ESPN? Poll. Close! Vote now; plus Offerdahl, UM set for 8.8 wins, Elvis 'n Woodstock, LeBron & more

1aa1woodstock 1aa1elvis1) It is SATURDAY, AUGUST 17. Our new Dolphins @ Houston blogpost will publish here today at 2 p.m. sharp. Watch for it. 2) Wanna feel old? Woodstock (right) was going on 44 years ago this week, and Elvis Presley (left) died 36 years ago yesterday. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron's-future poll, '72 Dolphins to White House, college football mascots, 2014 NFL draft & more. 4) Join us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote). 

Click on The Perfectos & The President for my latest column, on the upcoming White House visit by the 1972 Dolphins. I explore why, even 41 years late, the honor is due a team that did not get sufficient credit in its time, because that time was so different. 

"WORLDWIDE LEADER" ESPN GIRDS FOR ITS LATEST ATTACKER: Fox Sports 1, billing itself "America's New 24-Hour Sports Network," launched today at 6 a.m. as the latest major cable challenger to ESPN's throne. (NBC and CBS previously rolled out cable sports networks as well, in case you haven't noticed). The Fox challenge 1aa1foxvsespnseems better organized, or at least better promoted, and appears to have caught the attention of ESPN in a way the others did not. "We've always had competition," ESPN president John Skipper said recently of the 30-year-old mothership he steers. "But there's a little more overt strategy from our competitors to look a little more like ESPN than they have in the past." I am told that ESPN is taking the Fox threat seriously enough that it has planned several programming announcements for Saturday, including one involving Dan Le Batard's Miami-based radio show going national. Fox says its "pillar" sports will be college basketball and football, NFL, MLB (starting in 2014), NASCAR, soccer and UFC. The latter two may offer the best chance for Fox to distinguish itself. A nightly 11 p.m. "Fox Sports Live" show will be their version of ESPN SportsCenter. Andy Roddick will co-host Fox's news show. (Hmm. Let's wait and see on that one). Other programming will include a sports/entertainment show called Crowd Goes Wild hosted by Regis Philbin. (Hmm again. Not sure the wisdom of having a host who turns 82 this month if you're trying to be the hip new flavor). By pure numbers, ESPN is available in roughly 100 million homes and Fox projects a startup of about 90 million. NBC Sports Network is in roughly 80 million homes, but ratings have been very spotty. CBS has around 48 million homes. I'm not sure ESPN should be worried about any one threat, although it seems the aggregate challenge can't but eventually eat into the Worldwide Leader's audience and therefore its influence. Right? Give us a pulse-read on ESPN and how vulnerable you think it is, or isn't. Vote and say why.

ON OFFERDAHL JOINING DOLPHINS HONOR ROLL: Injuries limited linebacker John Offerdahl's Dolphins 1aa1johnocareer to eight years (1986-93), but in five of those seasons he made the Pro Bowl. He was Zach Thomas before Zach Thomas, only for not nearly as long. I'm glad to see Offerdahl, whom I covered, announced as the 26th member of the club's Honor Roll. He is not "first ballot" caliber on the Larry Csonka/Dan Marino/Jason Taylor echelon, no. But he is deserving.

Poll result: LeBron will stay, re-up with Heat: We asked what you predict LeBron James will do after this coming NBA season, and 81.98 percent said "re-sign with Miami" vs. only 18.02% voting "go elsewhere in free agency." We can't say how much of that is Heat fans' wishful-thinking, but we can tell you the "stay" vote spiked to 85.98% in Florida, vs. 78.01% everywhere else.

SPOILER ALERT! HERE'S HOW THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON WILL TURN OUT: PredictionMachine.com's computer played the coming college football season 50,000 times and here are 1aa1premachthe win totals forecast for the seven state FBS schools (all based on a 12-game regular season): Florida State 9.9 wins, Miami 8.8, Florida 8.3, UCF 7.4, South Florida 5.6, FIU 3.2 and FAU 2.6. SPOILER ALERT!: Alabama wins a third straight national title; FSU beats Miami in the ACC title game then beats Oklahoma State in the Orange Bowl; LSU beats Miami in the Chick-fil-A Bowl; Florida beats Michigan State in the Gator Bowl; and Maryland beats UCF in the Belk Bowl. I have two words: Belk Bowl!?

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July 08, 2013

At long last, Giancarlo Stanton cavorts naked in spray of water (w/ pics, vid); plus Dolphin calls out Pats, Bosh to India, Canes' football honor, Heat & more

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 9. Tuesday is Friday this week in terms of me and the radio. Not in my usual spot with Le Batard today on 790, but will be in-studio Friday instead. 2) Heat scrubs beat Brooklyn scrubs Monday to go to 1-1 in NBA summer-league, where results mean less than MLB spring-training games and NFL preseason openers, if that's possible. 3) Kevin Durant is marrying a WNBA player. I just placed a bet that their first child will lead somebody's league in scoring in 2035. 4) Saddest music headline of the week nominee: 'Surviving Doors to Reunite.' 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's-biggest-challenge polls post-Dwight Howard decision, shame of Urban Meyer, Jose Fernandez an All-Star, Andy Murray reigns & more.

Join us on TWITTER @gregcote and INSTAGRAM @ upsetbird and VINE @ Greg Cote. Cost: Free. Return on investment: Commensurate with outlay. Also, follow our latest Twitter project @carlyastrzemski

Click on Good vs. Evil for today's latest column by me. It's on how sports has become a morality play, and how Jose Fernandez and Andy Murray spent the weekend striking a blow for the good guys.

ESPN BODY ISSUE: GIANCARLO REVEALED!: ESPN The Magazine's annual 'Body' issue, in which 1aa1gs1various athletes are photographed nude but artfully covered, is on newstands this Friday, and pictured right are two scenes from the mag in which Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton cavorts and flexes au naturel while being sprayed by a well-aimed hose. Click HERE for a 90-second video of Stanton's photo shoot. Below right is UFC fighter Meisha Tate. As a public service we are not showing 77-year-old golfer Gary Player in the buff. Niners QB 1aa1kapcap 1aa1meishatateColin Kaepernick and Mets pitcher Matt Harvey are among the most prominent athletes to be featured. (Kaepernick is pictured left holding a Dolphins cap he got in trouble for wearing to a Fourth of July party. Slow News Day redefined: This, as an issue). I doubt very much if Kaepernick, Stanton or Harvey would look as good as Meisha Tate wearing nothing but pink gloves and leaping on a beach, although Stanton gives it a shot.

A DOLPHIN CALLS OUT THE PATRIOTS! (WELL, SORT OF...): I doubt what 1aa1dannellenew linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said qualifies as Fightin' Words with the start of training camps looming, but these are summer's dog days in sports, so we do what we can. CBS Sports asked Ellerbe (pictured) if the AFC East-dominant Patriots at last are vulnerable: "I think they are," he replied. "I was brought here to hep knock them off. That doesn't mean we will, but we feel like we can." Take that, Tom Brady! Cower and quake!

BOSH TO INDIA: Heater Chris Bosh will be in Mumbai, India July 16-19 on an NBA goodwill and grow-the-game tour, the club and league announced today.

TWO CANES GET PRESEASON FOOTBALL HONOR: Hurricanes QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson are on the newly announced 75-man watch list for the 2013 Maxwell Award, given to the college football player of the year. The only other state players to make it are QBs Jeff Driskel of Florida and Blake Bortles of UCF.

TO SILVA AND SHAQ: QUIET, PLEASE: Previously unbeaten Anderson Silva lost UFC 162 to Chris 1aa1clarkkentWeidman, and, after watching Silva showboating and clowning, the result did not bother me in the least. I also would say "shhh" to Shaquille O'Neal for slamming Dwight Howard going to Houston by saying, "Not everyone can handle being under the bright lights." Shaq is still sore that Howard usurped his Superman nickname. Bulletin: You both stole it from the man pictured: Clark Kent.

Poll result: Pacers, Thunder are Miami's top obstacles: Sorry, Brooklyn. Adding Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett wasn't enough. Too bad, Houston. Signing Dwight Howard didn't do it. We asked who in new NBA landscape is biggest challenge to Heat Three-Peat. From the East you said Pacers at 59.3 percent, Bulls 25.6%, Nets 12.0% and someone else 3.1%. In The Finals you said Thunder 50.3 percent, Clippers 17.7%, Rockets 15.2% and someone else (Spurs again?) 16.9%.

SEAHAWKS' CLASSLESS MOVE: Seattle Seahawks' annual charity softball game Sunday featured guest umpire Lance Easley. Name ring a bell? He's the infamous replacement referee whose end-zone mistake handed an undeserved win to Seattle at the expense of Green Bay in Week 3 last season. Now Easley was yukking it up and posing for pictures with Golden Tate. I doubt the Packers, or the NFL, were amused.

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January 08, 2013

Grade owners Arison, Loria and Ross. Three polls. Vote!; plus Bonds/Clemens hall snub, Musberger & the beauty queen, Heat, 'Bama/UM & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9. Heat today signed forward Jarvis Varnado to 10-day contract. 2) From Bovada: Alabama an early (really early) 5-1 favorite to repeat as national champ, following by Oregon 8-1 and Ohio State 17-2. Florida and FSU lurking at 14-1. UM Canes tied for 11th at 25-1. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Roll Tide! Miami crowns unfavorite son Saban; UM gets a hard lesson: You could have an arduous debate whether Monday's 42-14 rout was due to Alabama's wonderfulness or Notre Dame proving overrated. I'll take the former. Click on Give The Devil His Due for my column off the game centered on Saban's continued reign. Another quick thought more parochial: 'Bama destroyed the Irish; Irish dominated the Canes this season. I think we just got a measure on how far UM is from being championship caliber.

GRADE MIAMI'S BIG 3 SPORTS-TEAM OWNERS: They have been in the news lately. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had his postseason state-of-the-team address this week (he likes his Philbin/Tannehill 1aa1ross 1aa1loria 1aa1arisonfrontline and says he'll open his wallet to win). Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, of course, was at the center of the latest cost-cutting, angering many fans. Even Heat owner Micky Arison, more of a background guy, made news with a Tweet tweaking Heat fans for not being satisfied. [I am purposely but without malice excluding the Florida Panthers' owner Cliff Viner, who simply is not known to nearly the degree of the other three]. Arison, Loria and Ross are pictured, left to right. This is not a poll on your favorite or least favorite team, but on these three men and their ownership/leadership. I invite you to step back and look at all of the Big 3 owners with fresh eyes and a big-picture perspective here. For example, should one weigh credit for the new ballpark against any animus toward Loria? By however you think a team owner ought to be judged, give a grade to each and say why. There are three polls below, followed by other bloggy stuff.

 

HALL VOTERS TAKE EASY ROAD ON BONDS/CLEMENS, BUT NOT RIGHT ONE: Today nobody was elected for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996 -- with notable snubs led by first-time balloteers Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the Steroids Era poster children. Click on Voters Predictable, But Not Right for my latest column, online now and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Craig Biggio's 68.2 percent of the vote came closest to the required 75%. Clemens (37.6) and Bonds (36.2) garnered around half the needed support. Local aside: Of 37 men on the ballot, 11 including "Mr. Marlin" Jeff Conine got zero votes.

ON MUSBERGER AND THE BEAUTY QUEEN: I tried to avoid this topic but ESPN forced my hand with its stupid public apology for Brent Musberger's comments about Miss Alabama during Monday's BCS National Championship at Dolphins stadium. You are in a coma in Tibet if you don't know by now that Miss 1aa1ala 1aa1brentA is Katherine Webb and that she dates 'Bama QB AJ McCarron. Well, of course, she was shown on screen for about 30 seconds during the game -- it was a game where diversions from the actual football were welcome -- and a very-impressed Musberger called her a "lovely lady" and said "What a beautful woman!" and added: "Wow. Whoa!" It was cartoon-sexist but also harmless, like a playfully lecherous wink from Gramps, especially from a 73-year-old broadcaster who also used the word "youngsters" in the same sound bite. But hypocritical ESPN huffed and puffed and said, "We apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that." Two thoughts. 1) ESPN should apologize for itself, if anything. It was in their production meeting that someone surely mentioned the need to exploit capitalize on the star player having a sexy girlfriend. 2) Have we really reached a point where a TV commentator cannot remark favorably on the appearance of a woman who exploits trades in her own good looks? Seriously? This woman promenades in bleepin' BEAUTY PAGEANTS! Her entire being and life's goal is encapsulated by a sash that reads, AREN'T I HOT!? She is Miss !@#$ing Alabama! But old Brent can't say she's beautful!? Good lord on a horse.

HEAT OPEN ROAD TRIP BADLY: Miami lost 87-77 in Indy last night, a season low for points scored, but the story again was rebounding, or lack of. Heat got out-boarded 55-36, including 22-7 on the offensive end. Warning signs, or at least concern signs, continue for Miami.

Birdman to Heat?: Miami worked out and is considering signing unemployed center Chris "Birdman" Anderson, 34, the former Denver free-spirit who is an aggressive rebounder (a Heat need) but mostly known for his tattoos, evolving hair styles and, well, weirdness. He'd be an interesting hire. For the rebounds, and for the variety. Maybe a jolt in the dressing room would do the team some good.

SAFE-DRIVING SONGS: A study by London Metropolitan University (which obviously has more grant money than it needs) has determined the 10 songs most conducive to safe driving. It's related to heartbeat or pulse rate or some such thing. Click here for the story and list. Hint: One of the song's lyrics is (or should be): "Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer. Don't hit those other headlights on the hiiiighway..."

1aa1chickfilaFUNNY FAKE ADS THAT SEEM REAL: Many know that the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain is owned by a very conservative family that leans on the Bible to oppose homesexuality. It is why many boycott Chick-fil-A and why others have rallied behind it. With all that in mind, I find this spoof ad funny.   

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