February 23, 2015

ESPN's Great Analytics Rankings: How Dolphins, Heat, Panthers and Marlins rate on use of new-age info; plus get-well campaign for Bosh, Dan Marino, Daytona 500, fight verdict, Oscars review & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 p.m. on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 ESPN Radio. Ears welcome. (And eyes, on the national-show webcast...)

1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pacquiao-Mayweather poll, Hot Button Top 10, Dragic debut for Heat, Oscar snorts coke & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stuck in the middle with you: Those six words are more than a 1972 song by Stealers Wheel. They describe the position of So-Fla sports fans, as I explore in today's latest column. Click on Border Town to read. Heat and Panthers clawing just to make playoffs, UM men's basketball on NCAA Tournament bubble, Dolphins and UM football stuck in mediocrity, Marlins improved yet not a betting pick for playoffs ... everywhere you look, our teams are better than bad but maybe not quite good enough.

Corner to Fins in first round?: For what it's worth, USA Today's new, post-Scouting Combine mock draft has Miami selecting Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes. My comment: That's be a great, but it's doubtful the draft's top CB will still be around at No. 14.

MIAMI TEAMS FALL SHORT IN ESPN ANALYTICS RANKING: ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com are calling 1aa1aanalyticsit "The Great Analytics Ranking" and it is now on The World Leader's website; click here. (Illustration shown is from the magazine). ESPN rated all 122 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams on how it judged "the strength of each franchise's analytics staff, its buy-in from execs and coaches, its investment in biometric data and how much its approach is predicated on analytics." Teams were slotted in one of five tiers: All-In, Believers, One Foot In, Skeptics and Non-Believers. The Dolphins, Heat and Panthers all rated in the middle ground of One Foot In, while the Marlins are in the bottom rung of Non-Believers. Here is ESPN's synopsis (minimally condensed by me) of each Miami team:

DOLPHINS: Owner Steve Ross and GM Dennis Hickey have become proponents of analytics, and new VP Mike Tannenbaum is a recent convert. Ross is heavy user of analytics in his real estate business and has been frustrated by its relative infancy in NFL. In summer of 2014 team hired Dennis Lock, who holds graduate degree in statistics, to head a football analytics group. At same time Dolphins announced hiring of sports science analyst Dave Regan, and in September, Tom Pasquali, with a graduate degree in applied statistics and experience in Yankees front office, joined Lock's staff. Tannenbaum said in January he planned to hire a "sports performance director" and acknowledged, "We have a long way to go, but we started something in terms of trying to give ourselves a competitive advantage." Miami has monitored player health for several years, and coach Joe Philbin has altered practice schedule to improve sleep habits by becoming only coach to give players Thursday off. But Philbin focuses on game film far more than stats, and it remains to be seen how well he'll use Miami's burgeoning analytics department.

HEAT: When analytics skeptics point out that coaches have been using numbers for decades, Heat president Pat Riley is commonly cited. As coach of Lakers, Riley famously devised his own efficiency rating for players. He passed that interest to protégé and coach Erik Spoelstra, who speaks the language of analytics. Riley devised a system the Heat still use to grade each defensive possession based on 54 criteria, focusing on the process of executing the team's system rather than results. Evaluations are done by Brian Hecker, Miami's director of basketball information technology, who gets the pertinent numbers to Spoelstra. In addition to lineup data, Spoelstra also has relied heavily on a simulation model developed by analyst Bob Chaikin. He has worked for Heat since 2008, following stint as consultant for team during 1990s, when Riley first arrived as coach. "I look at [stats] to evaluate our team, to compare us to other teams, particularly defensively," Spoelstra told NBA.com in 2011. "I also use it to make points to the team about things we need to improve. I use it also for scouting." Riley's fondness for statistical analysis doesn't seem to have carried over to his personnel work as team president. Miami has regularly punted valuable draft picks in favor of stacking bench with fading veterans. Heat's success, including three titles in past decade, has made it easy to justify sticking with an old-school approach. To get back to that level, Miami's front office may have to embrace details like analytics and international scouting that have gone neglected.

PANTHERS: The Panthers were wise to pick Brian Macdonald as team's director of analytics last summer, although they still have a skeleton crew compared to some other teams around league. Integrating him into team's decision-making has been a season-long process because of when he was hired, and his impact may not be felt until next season. "Anywhere there is data in this organization, I've tried to get my hands in it a little bit," Macdonald said. "That includes the business side of things now, also. The past couple months, I've been doing more business than hockey."

MARLINS: Marlins have a small, tight-knit baseball operations department that has shown very little interest in analytics. Team president Michael Hill was a two-sport athlete at Harvard, but like GM Dan Jennings, is a former player with a background in player development and scouting. The job of keeping the Marlins aware of analytics trends falls to director of baseball ops Dan Noffsinger, a longtime staffer who majored in applied math and economics at Harvard. Noffsinger has good reputation but a broader, less technical skill set than the leading sabermetricians being hired by other organizations. In a sign that Marlins might be ready to change their ways, they are looking to hire their first analytics interns this year to get their program off the ground.

HEAT INVITES YOU TO WISH BOSH WELL: Everything is so organized now. For example the Heat on
1aa1acbgetwellMonday (prior to beating lowly Philly at home) unveiled a getwellcb.com website to encourage fans to send best wishes to Chris Bosh, who will miss the rest of this NBA season as he undergoes treatment for blood clots in his lungs. Not sure the prompting was needed. Great player, great guy. Everybody rooting for Bosh. (He'll be on blood thinners probably at least through May, but is expected back fully for next season's training camp).

1aa1adanteesoffIT'S (STILL) GOOD TO BE DAN MARINO: Dolphins icon (and ambassador and now front-office consultant) Dan Marino tees off during his second annual Marino & Friends Bahamas Weekend event, as a deployed small battalion of the team's cheerleaders stand in the background looking all cheerleader-y. (The excellent photo is courtesy the Miami Dolphins). The Marino event isn't a fundraiser but rather a cross-promotion in which the Dolphins grow their brand in the Caribbean while the Bahamas promotes itself as a tourist destination.

 A race should not end under a caution flag. Start 1aa1ajloganothere. So it was the antithesis of a thrilling ending in NASCAR's season opener Sunday as Joey Logano (pictured) coasted to the finish. In NASCAR's dream it would have been fan favorite and defending champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. and retiring Jeff Gordon duel-barreling to the checkered flag. Or maybe Tony Stewart finally ending his Dayton jinx. Nope, just Logano under a yellow flag. NASCAR, reeling from the domestic-abuse suspension of Kurt Busch, could have used a result that wowed fans in one of its signature events. Didn't get it. That's racin', I suppose.

Poll result: Hoping Pacquiao wins but predicting Mayweather: We asked your feelings on the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight and it was split. Most hope Pacquaio wins, 56.5 percent to 23.4%. But most predict Mayweather will win, 57.9% to 22.0%. (The other 20.1% said they have no interest in the fight).

THE ACADEMY AWARDS REVIEW: Sunday's Oscars telecast may or may not still be going on. The Big 3 winners were Birdman (best picture with Michael Keaton), Eddie Redmayne (actor for The Theory of Everything) and Julianne 1aa1abirdmanMoore (actress for Still Alice). Admit it: No other Oscar category really matters that much except to the winner. Admit it II: You'd never 1aa1abirdheatheard of Eddie Redmayne, either, before last night. Evening lowlight: Host Neil Patrick Harris in his underwear. Admit it III: Against high expectations, NPH wasn't all that good. Summary: Boyhood

took 12 years to make and one night to pretty much ignore. Quick aside: While watching a film called Birdman, 1aa1abirdraphow must Chris Andersen and Bryan Williams feel? Andersen of course is the popular Heat reserve nicknamed Birdman. Williams is better known as the rapper whose stage name is Birdman, co-founder of Cash Money
records. I'm no lawyer but think the two Birdmen pictured at right should sue the movie for royalties. Speaking of the Heat and movies, I cannot confirm that How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the story of how an NBA team works to integrate newly arrived Goran (Dragon) Dragic into its lineup.

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February 22, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10 including Heat-Dragic-Bosh, Marlins, Daytona, UM, Tiger; plus Mayweather-Pacquiao poll (vote now!), snorting Oscar & more

1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 22. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat acquire Dragic with poll, Bosh medical crisis, athlete-media relationship poll, Mount Rushmore/QBs result, sign spinners & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NOW LET'S HOPE PACQUIAO-MAYWEATHER IS WORTH THE WAIT: The camps of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have been negotiating six years to make this happen -- six years! -- and now (supposedly) it 1aa1afightfinally will, on May 2, in Las Vegas. This is the fight for the ages, the one to save the sport, the one to set pay-per-view records, the one to remind UFC that a major boxing title fight (this for the welterweight crown) still rules the fighting world. Credit the Miami Heat for a small role, perhaps in making this happen. Recall Pacquiao and Mayweather met courtside at a Heat game here three weeks ago -- astonishingly the first time the two had ever met and conversed. The unbeaten Mayweather opens as a betting favorite, the bigger question is whether two past-prime fighters can put up a show that lives up to the hype ... and the wait. Pacquiao just turned 36; Mayweather turns 38 on Tuesday. We're wondering here who you hope will win and also who you predict will win. Heart vs. mind. The answer for you may be one in the same. Or not. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

HOT BUTTON FEB. 22: 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, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Dragic arrives but Bosh out for season in wild, emotional week: In a late-week whirlwind Miami fans cheered the trade for Goran Dragic then mourned Chris Bosh's medical news -- blood clots on his lungs that will shelve him the rest of the season. Almost forgot. Dwyane Wade returned from injury. Otherwise, slow week for the Heat.

2. MARLINS: Play ball! Upbeat Fish begin spring training in Jupiter: First spring game vs. big-league foe isn’t until March 5, but practice for the practice games has begun. Excitement in So-Fla and national media buzz suggest Miami will be playoff contender, although the Las Vegas over/under of a modest 81 1/2 wins says, “Whoa, now!”

3. BOXING: Mayweather-Pacquiao fight is (finally!) set: The May 2 bout in Vegas, finally on after some six years of negotiations, is expected to set pay-per view records. Question now is whether two past-prime fighters -- Manny Pacquiao is 36 and Floyd Mayweather is about to turn 38 -- can produce an event worthy of the hype ... and worth the wait.

4. UM FOOTBALL: Golden convenes spring football practice: Offseason football is under way in Coral Gables culminating with annual offense vs. defense Spring Game March 28. Spring traditionally is time for optimism, except among perpetually dissatisfied Canes fans, who complain UM is only .500 in intrasquad spring games under Al Golden.

5. NASCAR: Earnhardt, Gordon in Daytona 500 spotlight: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will try to become only fourth back-to-back champ in event’s 62 years and first since 1995 as Sunday's Daytona 500 begins Jeff Gordon’s farewell year. NASCAR opener will start with the traditional call: "Gentlemen, start your feuding and backbiting!"

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men miss big opportunity at Louisville: Miami, on the bubble in terms of making NCAA Tournament, blew a late lead and lost 55-53 Saturday at No. 12 Louisville, missing what would have been a huge win. Should coach Jim Larranaga's Canes wind up settling for NIT instead of being on the Big Dance card, they'll maybe blame this.

7. PANTHERS: Cats blow chance to take over No. 8 seed in East: Florida lost 4-1 at Ottawa last night when a win would have overtaken the idle Boston Bruins for eighth and final playoff spot in NHL’s Eastern Conference. Hey, when your team last won a postseason series in 1996, close counts and this is Playoff Fever.

8. NFL: Scouting Combine nears conclusion in Indianapolis: And, really, other than questions about his weight problem, his shoulder weakness and all of the baggage of his immaturity-fueled college shenanigans, it was a great Combine for Jameis Winston. 

9. GOLF: Honda Classic in Palm Beach loses Tiger Woods: PGA Tour’s Honda Classic starts in four days, but sans Tiger Woods, who is taking a short break from golf. Jack Nicklaus called Tiger’s struggles "between his ears." NBC analyst Johnny Miller said he "must have demons in his head." On the other hand, Sigmund Freud thinks Tiger’s problem is just a hitch in his backswing.

10. MLB: Baseball institutes speed-up rules: Effective this year, for example: Hitters must remain in batter’s box after asking for time, and pitching changes will be on the clock. Good! I don’t wanna say baseball got much too slow, but the sport fell so far behind it is just now about to begin the 2009 season.

Also considered: Roger Federer bows out of Key Biscayne tennis, A-Rod's apology letter, Canes at Gators baseball, beagle wins Westminster dog show, Cricket World Cup.

HEAT FIZZLE IN DRAGIC DEBUT AS POST-BOSH RUN BEGINS: Newly acquired Heat point guard Goran Dragic (pictured) debuted for Miami at home last night in a disappointing, never-led loss to New Orleans. With Chris 1aa1adragicBosh sidelined for the remainder of the season with blood clots in his lungs, this unveiled the post-Bosh Heat. With Dragic here and Dwyane Wade back, this is your new-look team. And if last night was any sort of good test and good gauge, Miami could struggle to make the playoffs without Bosh. Miami had whipped the awful Knicks the night before without Dragic, but that was no gauge. When Udonis Haslem makes his first career 3-pointer, Mario Chalmers has eight steals, eight of the only nine players available score in double figures and Tyler Johnson is on the end of an alley-oop dunk, you know the opponent is awful and all things are flowing your way.

Poll result: Heat fans loving -- loving! -- the Goran Dragic trade: We asked, and you had no doubt, with 80.4 percent "loving" and another 16.1% "liking" the Heat's trade for point guard Goran Dragic. Fewer than 4% disliked or hated the deal.

Poll result: Athletes should deal with media, but it's arguable: Little consensus. We asked if leagues and teams had a right to expect players to be available to media, and it was 47.8 percent yes and 43.8% no, with 8.4% undecided.

1aa1aoscarcokeSATIRIZING THE OSCARS: The Academy Awards are Sunday/tonight as most know, and I found funny the pictured work of a Los Angeles street artist named Plastic Jesus. (Yes, Plastic Jesus). It depicts an iconic gold Oscar statuette on all fours snorting two lines of cocaine. The sign reads, 'Hollywood's Best Party.' Ah, artistic freedom! It's a wonderful thing. Although Academy Awards lawyers may not have agreed. The display was soon removed.

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December 16, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.1%; plus New England routs Miami 41-13, ending realistic playoff hopes and, likely, Philbin's Fins future; also Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 15. Click on Random Evidence for the return of our Sunday notes-column package after a two-week hiatus. 2) Our blog-exclusive Hot Button Top 10 also returns today. Find it here right below the Dolphins-Patriots post. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Johnny Manziel poll, Dolphins/NFL Week 15 predix, Marlins' winning week, The U Part 2 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Find Dolphins-Patriots gamepost and postgame thoughts immediately below new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 5.1 percent overall satisfaction -- the season's second-lowest approval rating -- in the wake of Sunday's 41-13 loss at New England putting Miami's season record at 1aadsm7-7. The DSM, in its seventh 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. Results are usually certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

G7: 63.2% (following 27-13 victory at Jacksonville)

G8: 97.4% (following 37-0 victory vs. San Diego)

G9: 40.3% (following 20-16 loss at Detroit)

G10: 93.3% (following 22-9 victory vs. Buffalo)

G11: 38.9% (following 39-36 loss at  Denver)

G12: 69.6% (following 16-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G13: 6.1% (following 28-13 loss vs. Baltimore)

G14: 5.1% (following 41-13 loss at New England)

Next poll: Dec. 21 (following game vs. Minnesota)

G14: NEW ENGLAND 41, DOLPHINS 13 (FINAL): GOODBYE PLAYOFF HOPES AFTER 27-0 SECOND HALF: Final: The game  began with a 50-yard completion to Mike Wallace. The first half ended with momentum Miami's after a late TD. The second half was an unequivocal nightmare. What else can be said? Realistic playoffs hopes are now finished. So is the realistic chance that coach Joe Philbin will somehow save his job. Mediocrity, they record is 7-7. ..... Fourth quarter: Pats tack on FG for 41-13. ... If you're going for it on 4th and 18, why you wanna throw a way-short pass? Can this game end, please?. ... Dumb, dumb. Roughness penalty on Brandon Gibson, then Gibson gives the yards right back with an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. ... All over but the wailing. ..... Third quarter: Suddenly, a rout. Pats up 31-13 on Brady-Gronkowski 27-yard TD pass immediately following Tannehill's second INT. This was off a deflection so not entirely on the QB. ... Pats tack on a 35-yard FG for a 24-13 lead. ... NE up 21-13 on 79-yard drive to open second half capped by LeGarrette Blount 3-yard scoring run. ..... Halftime: Though down by a point, a Dolfan might be reasonably if cautiously optimistic. The defense is looking great, with one Pats TD coming on a blocked FG return and the other set up by a long interception return. With a turnover-free second half Miami will have a chance. Meanwhile, the Dolphins offense has discovered the long ball, with seven deep passes in half. A welcome sight! ..... Second quarter: Tannehill-Wallace 32-yard TD pass -- Miami's longest scoring pass of season -- on an overturned call on review. Right decision. Jarvis Landry 32-yard punt return helped set it up. That kid's the real deal, man. ... Fins within 14-6 on 53-yard FG but it's more settling. Damien Williams dropped a shoulda-been TD pass. ... NE 14-3 on Shane Vereen 3-yard TD run, after Pats' Duron Harmon intercepts Tannehill overthrow and returns it 60 yards to inside Dolphins 10. ..... First quarter: MIA within 7-3 on 24-yard FG late in quarter but it's another red-zone disappointment. Fins had a 1st-and-10 but settled. ... Jason Trusnik intercepts Brady to abort Pats drive. ... Only the Dolphins, right? Miami begins game with 50-yard Tannehill-to-Wallace completion (a TD if not underthrown), settles for 41-yard FG try, sees FG blocked and returned 62 yards for Patriots TD by Kyle Arrington. Only the Dolphins. Geez. MIA's previous blcoked FG returned for a score was in 1991. Geez again. ..... Original post: Miami lost more than a game at home to Baltimore last week. It lost all margin of error in the playoff chase. Beat the Ravens and "at New England" becomes less than a must-win. Now? All but a must win. Beat Bill Belichick and Tom Brady  in 1aa1adolpattheir chilly backyard today at 1 and postseason hopes are rescussitated. But lose and Miami is all but done, the season flatlining. Unfortunately for the Dolphins "at New England" is a tall task anytime and brutally so in wintertime. Miami has lost four in a row and seven of the past eight December-or-later games in Foxborough, and the exception was a 2005 game in which Pats had already clinched the dvision title and let Matt Cassel play three quarters. Pats are 6-0 at home this season, 52-9 in Foxborough in December under Bill Belichick and have much to play for today. A win here clinches yet another AFC East crown for NE, and Pats still gun for a first-round bye as well. Miami will get the A-game, in other words. Tom Brady averages 303.8 passing yards at home this year, with 17 TDs vs. only two INTs. I worry some about the Fins’ secondary as it welcomes back CB Cortland Finnegan but loses injured S Louis Delmas. I worry more about a run defense that has been pretty awful the past three games, making MIA stand for Missing In Action. Miami must both run better than it has lately and also stop the run to have a chance at an upset — a result that would make the playoffs hugely more likely. Dolphs beat Pats 33-20 in an exhilarating season opener. Don’t see a repeat in the chill, although I like Miami with the points. If only close counted for Joe Philbin. His job is slipping away from him, and Sunday won’t help. My pick: Patriots, 27-21.

HOT BUTTON DEC. 14: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, back after a two-week hiatus, 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. Dolphins: Will Foxborough be the end of line for playoff hopes?: Miami must beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in their backyard, something done only once in past eight late-season meetings (and only then because Brady sat out three quarters), to keep postseason hopes alive.

2. Marlins: Team acquires leadoff hitter, starting pitcher in big week: First they sign Giancarlo Stanton long-term. Now they acquire MLB base-stealing champ Dee Gordon and quality starter Mat Latos. Not fair. This is seriously infringing upon my ability to complain about Jeffrey Loria.

3. Heat: Still looking for answers at Chicago visits today: Miami hosts Bulls in marquee Eastern matchup today that will be a chance for Heat to get back to .500, but it'll take better defense than we've seen. Phrase you'd hear in a courtroom or among Heat fans: "The defense rests."  

4. Hurricanes: UM accepts invitation to Quack Bowl: Choices for 6-6 teams are limited, so Canes are headed to Duck Commander Independence Bowl vs. South Carolina in Shreveport, La. Those are TV's "Duck Dynasty" folks. Please tell me there won't be ducks calls blaring across the PA system.

5. College football: First four-team playoff set amid controversy: No argument Alabama, Oregon and Florida State would be the top three, but much debate when Ohio State snuck in fourth ahead of TCU and Baylor. What, you thought a playoff would end the arguing? It didn't. (Ain't it great!?)

6. Heisman Trophy: Oregon's Mariota takes top prize: Ducks QB Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy last evening. That's no surprise, although, since he plays on the West Coast with its late starts, Mariota is pretty much a rumor to a lot of fans on the East Coast.

7. Panthers: Cats semi-surge to NHL playoff pace: Florida today has won five of its past nine games and stands tied for No. 8 (the final spot) in the NHL Eastern playoff chase. Granted that's not exactly red-hot, but with this team we grade on a curve.

8. Johnny Football: Manziel makes first career start today: Cleveland is swooning but be careful what you wish for as we find out how much of Johnny Manziel, pro version, is all hype. New defintion of temporary insanity: You signed Manziel to start your fantasy playoff opener.

9. Canes hoops: For UM men, great start but real challenges are ahead: Jim Larranaga's guys are 9-1 and ranked No. 20. You know it's a promising basketball season when fans already are looking forward to a Jan. 13 date at No. 2 Duke.

10. Film: 'The U Part 2' can't live up to original: The first one in 2009 covered Canes football glory teams with all the swagger. The sequel premiering last night focuses on more recent, less interesting times. Pray there's no Part 3. Might lead with a 6-6 team preparing for the Duck Commander Bowl.

Poll result: Disagreement but prevailing doubt about Johnny Football's future: We asked and a plurality of 42.3 percent predicted Johnny Manziel in his NFL career would be OK -- neither a star nor a bust. But more than twice as many thought he'd have a short, failed career (36.3%) than prolonged stardom (17.0%). The other 4.4% were undecided.

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December 13, 2014

Will Johnny Manziel's career fly or fail? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/NFL Week 15 predix, Marlins' big week, 'The U Part 2' & more

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13. No choice. Guess I'd better start my Christmas shopping. 2) Watch for return this week (after a two-week hiatus) of the Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): "Back In My Day" -- the complete audio library, Marlins trade, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Philbin verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

THE MYSTERY OF MANZIEL: WILL HE LIVE UP TO HYPE?: In Cleveland, Johnny Manziel was to Brian Hoyer as Jim Harbaugh is to Joe Philbin in Miami. Possibility is so often so much more tantalizing than 1aa1ajmanzielreality. Change is exciting without ever knowing whether the excitement will be justified. With Manizel the uncertainty is part of the excitement. He isn’t seen as a certain star like Andrew Luck was. To doubters, he’s the next Tim Tebow, the college phenom whose talents don’t translate. To fans, he’s the next great pass/run dual threat, the refreshingly brash personality whose jersey sales will soar to No.1 on the charts. He was a Heisman-winning superstar at Texas A&M. Now, will he justify all the hype, or be crushed by it? The finding out will be fun, and it begins with his first career start on Sunday. But why wait? Take a dip in our poll and say now what you predict for Manziel's NFL career and why.

1aa1afripixDOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 15 PICKS: THE DAGGER: Dolphins will lose Sunday in New England and it will be the dagger to Miami's playoff hopes. Not wishing it, folks, just predicting it. Don't kill the messenger! Click on Week 15 Gems for all our latest NFL prediction capsules. (Mixed start Thursday start. Wrongly had Rams winning, but did have Cards covering). Also, click on Hype, Meet Reality for my weekly Friday Page column. It leads with the formal introduction to the pro version of Johnny Football.

1aa1amatlatosA WINNING OFFSEASON FOR MARLINS: It started with signing Giancarlo Stanton long-term, of course. But it continued this week with deals to acquire leadoff man/base-stealing champ Dee Gordon and then, yesterday, starting pitcher Mat Latos (pictured). Mat With One T, from Coconut Creek High in north Broward, is a big boy with a top-of-the-rotation arm. If pitcher Dan Haren (part of the Gordon deal) opts to not retire, that'll be a bonus. Gordon and Latos alone give Miami needed speed and a bolstered rotation. Good week. Things looking up for the Fish. By the way [Brag Alert], my oldest son Christopher got a hit off Latos in a high-school game. I think it was a soft single to right, although my mind is reconfiguring it as a line drive to the gap.

ON 'THE U PART 2': I am reading "Rickey & Robinson," by Roger Kahn, the story of Branch Rickey integrating baseball by making Jackie Robinson a Dodger. It is holding my interest, and yet the story is so 1aa1atheupart2well-known and oft-told it can't but feel a little like a rehash. I think it's also fair to say Kahn has made a career of plumbing those old Brooklyn Dodgers for books, to the point you want to say, "Enough, already." This brings me to "The U Part 2," the Billy Corben sequel-documentary premiering on ESPN tonight at 9 p.m. The nearly perfect original, in 2009, focused on the mid-'80s to early-'90s football Hurricanes, the teams that invented swagger. They were big and bad and great and controversial and it was fascinating. There was national interest. Now, I wonder. Although the program resurged to win another national title in 2001, The U we see in the new doc simply is not as interesting or nationally relevant. A large chunk of the sequel is devoted to the Nevin Shapiro/NCAA scandal, an era well-known and best moved past, not exhumed and rehashed. Before agreeing, ESPN reportedly twice declined the pitch for this sequel. I get that original hesitation. Corben does good work and Part 2 will be riveting to many younger Canes fans (as the Miami unveiling was to swooning local media). But the sequel simply can't be as compelling as the original beyond South Florida because the subject matter plainly isn't.

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July 31, 2014

Miami Big 5 next-champion poll too close to call, voting extended to midnight; plus Marlins, Riley, Dolphins, Sharknado & more

1) It is SATURDAY, AUGUST 2. Happy new month all! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miracle Marlins, Micky Arison's open letter, Canes odds, Tannehill-support results, naked TV & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

LeBron saga gets stranger: Three weeks later, LeBron James' departure from the Heat occupies a murky space in the gray between amicable parting and bitter divorce. I explore in my latest column. Click on Bad Blood Wrapped In Civility to read.

New NFL, Dolphins odds: New pre-preseason odds from Bovada show Broncos the Super Bowl fave at 13-2, followed by Seahawks 7-1, 49ers 15-2, Patriots 8-1 and Packers 10-1. Dolphins tied for 23rd at 66-1.

THE MIAMI TEAM BEST-POSITIONED TO NEXT BE CHAMPION IS...: This poll question -- and voting is extended through midnight tonight/Saturday because it's too close to call -- wouldn't be here if
LeBron James hadn't left Miami. What would have been the point? The answer would have been 1aa1abig5foregone. Heat, obviously. Now, not so much. 1aa1anextchampNow the playing field for this question has leveled. I could make an honest argument that any one of our Big 5 South Florida teams -- Dolphins, Heat, Hurricanes football, Marlins or Panthers -- is best-positioned and most likely to win our next championship. That is what makes picking just one tough, but that's your challenge here. Your other challenge is to not make it a favorite-team vote. It isn't. Not asking who you most hope has a parade next, but who you honestly think is most likely to. Who your money would be on in an even-odds wager. Vote and say why.

MARLINS SCREWED BY REPLAY REVERSAL: I'm not a kill-the-ump/blame-the-ref guy. Pinning your 1aa1amredteam's loss on the officiating almost always comes off as lame, an excuse. But not Thursday night. The Marlins got screwed when a blown decision by an MLB replay crew in New York turned a 1-0 Marlins lead into a 3-1 loss to the Reds. An inning-ending throw to the plate by Giancarlo Stanton that nailed the runner easily was wrongly overturned based on the new 7.13 rule preventing catchers from blocking the plate -- even though the rule should not have applied in this case based on when and where the catcher possessed the ball. The Marlins including manager Mike Redmond (shown protesting) were livid, and justifiably. MLB responded yesterday with a statement backing up the role reversal, but admitted the application of the new rule will be reviewed, and that last night's 6-minute review was far too long. Will the screw-job lead to a tailspin? Marlins lost again last night.

Marlins trade for starting pitcher: Fish beat this week's MLB trade deadline with a six-player swap 1aa1acosartwith Houston, acquiring righty starter Jarred Cosart, 24, who is 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA; utilityman Kike' Hernandez, 22; and outfielder Austin Wates, 25. Cosart (pictured) will join the rotation and should help right away. Traded away in the deal: OF Jake Marisnick, IF Colin Moran, RHP Francis Martes and a draft pick. Cosart must become a productive fixture in the rotation beyond this season for this deal to feel good, because chances are either Moran or Marisnick will turn into a very good player.

ON PAT RILEY'S RESTRAINT: We media adore Heat prez Pat Riley because he is effusive, eloquent, candid -- everything you want in a good quote interview. So there was great potential this week when Riles agreed 1aa1aprileyto a conference call with reporters. Then there was a letdown. We thought Riley wouldn't be able to resist veering off the high-road just a bit for a few pointed jabs at LeBron James, but he didn't. "We were shocked, but we recovered," he said. "We are going to build another championship team and that’s it." Riley said he plans to still be around in 2016 when the Heat will have much salary-cap flexibility for a bounty of free agents that will include Kevin Durant. "It has fired me up," he said. "We are going to try to make it another generational team. That’s my objective." On this coming season: "We feel very good. I feel we are going to be as competitive as anybody in the Eastern Conference." Riley never gives a bad interview, but this one was mild. It was like a deposition with the good stuff redacted. He could have made national news with the the hint of a LeBron rift the sound bite and headline. To the media's disappointment but his credit, Riley did not.

SHARKNADO NATION: If I have to explain the Sharknado phenomenon, you fail Pop Culture 101. 1aa1asharknadoSharknado 2, sequel to the made-for-TV disaster B-film, premiered on the SyFy channel this week. Proudly, I did not see it. Sharks eminating from tornadoes! Need I say more? In the sequel, the flying sharks attack New York City. (As if living in NYC wasn't dangerous enough, right?) The Sharknado vehicle is preposterous high camp owing to ancestors like Mothra, the giant moth that terrorized Tokyo in 1961. I am officially predicting a Sharknado vs. Mothra sequel, with a cameo by Godzilla as a Jimmy Carter-esque mediator who fails to ameliorate the mayhem.     

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April 08, 2014

Tue pm 4-8: Who'll be first QB taken in NFL Draft? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat tries to cut down Nets, Bob Coy, Mickey Rooney & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan Le Batard Show for my 18th national appearance. Airs 3-7 p.m. on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with a week of heaven for basketball junkies. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UConn beats Kentucky, Zo talks Hall, Heat Drama Week, Ryan Williams injury & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

Betting odds for Tiger-less Masters: It's Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott co-faves at 10-1, then Phil Mickelson 12-1, Jason Day 14-1, Matt Kuchar 18-1 and Sergio Garcia 20-1. 

1aa1adraft14ONE MONTH FROM NFL DRAFT, WHICH QB GOES FIRST?: The first round of the NFL Draft is May 8, so let's start the one-month countdown with a poll 1aa1abig3qbquestion. Normally this would be Dolphins-related, like, what's the greatest need, but this year offensive line is such a no-brainer answer it's pointless to ask. The most interesting draft question, for me, is which of three 1R-stamped quarterbacks will be taken first, and when. Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater are pictured, left to right. There is great variance in the many mock drafts I've perused. Most but not all mocks have all three guys going in the top 10, and each has support as the likely first QB taken. What do you think? Take a dip in our poll (listing is alphabetical) and say why.

CUTTING DOWN THE (BROOKLYN) NETS: UConn just cut down the nets. Tonight it's the Heat's turn to cut 1aa1aheatnetsdown the Nets. Beating the Knicks Sunday got Miami's Drama Week off to a strong start, but this is a greater challenge. Brooklyn has been quite good (32-13) this calendar year, and is 3-0 this season against Miami. This also serves a preview of a possible-dare-say-likely second round playoff matchup. (Miami's supposed waltz into the Eastern finals may be tougher than many think). You know LeBron James and the Heat will bring their A-game tonight; question is whether they'll have their A-team available, especially Dwyane Wade, who could miss a seventh straight game with hamstring issues. I write about Wade's hobbled season in today's latest column; click Counting On Wade to read.

CUTTING DOWN THE (NCAA) NETS: I was happy last night the One & Done Kentucky Wildcats got their comeuppance and that the Won & Done UConn Huskies snipped nets after a 60-54 win. John Calipari runs an NBA factory, while Connecticut holds truer to what college sports are supposed to be about. Having said that, it was only a year ago that UConn was closer to You-Con, banned from the postseason for academic reasons. So it wasn't exactly a feel-good final. There was not a truly great team in it, and neither was there a classic Cinderella. Seventh-seed UConn was the highest seed to win it all since No. 8 Villanova in 1985, but both UConn and Kentucky had too much program pedigree to be true Cindys. Bottom line, the right result: Team 1, Individuals 0.


Famed child star and entertainment legend Mickey Rooney passed away this week at 93, and here is a photo of Rooney taken on March 30, one week before he died. Rooney, seated, is flanked by fellow entertainment icons Dick Van Patten and Mel Brooks, at Santa Anita Park, the Los Angeles-area racetrack Rooney frequented. The picture is copyrighted by and courtesy of Benoit Photo.

ON BOB COY AND THE 'MEGACHURCH': Pastor Bob Coy (pictured) has resigned in disgrace from Fort Lauderdale's 1aa1abobcoyCalvary Chapel, a 20,000-member "megachurch," over a "moral failing" reported to include extramarital affairs. This reminds us that men of the clergy can be just as ethically bankrupt as the rest of us, and that anybody can throw on a robe and claim to speak for God. What interests me more about this story is the revelation that Calvary Chapel's assets are said to be around $135 million. Hmm. For me, the very idea of the "megachurch," the profiteering big business of of it, does more harm to the idea of religion than the occasional rogue infidel pastor. Of course, I may be wrong.

Poll result: You had NCAA final a razor's edge for Kentucky: We asked who'd win the NCAA Tournament men's championship and rarely have we had a closer blogpoll. It was 50.63 percent for Kentucky, 49.37% for Connecticut.

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March 03, 2014

Mon pm 3-3: Will Tiger Woods still break Jack's record? Poll. Vote!; plus James is King but Danny's still Miamarino, Kim Novak, Riley speaks & more

1) It is MONDAY, MARCH 3. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Miami's Mad March. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron vs. Marino poll, Tiger's withdrawal, Dolphins trade rumors, Richie's rehab, lovely mugshot & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Dolphins re-sign Grimes, send Fields overseas: Team came to terms to keep cornerback Brent Grimes today, not surprising but important because along with Cam Wake he's the steadiest hand on defense. Keeping Grimes the first win for new GM Dennis Hickey. Also today, Fins announced punter Brandon Fields would be one of three NFL players on a USO trip visiting troops in Middle East, along with 'Skins' Pierre Garcon and Saints' Jimmy Graham.

CHASING HISTORY, CHASING JACK: CAN TIGER DO IT?: Tiger Woods is the world's No. 1-ranked golfer again and coming off a big year. As I write in this column off yesterday's final round of the Honda 1aa1atigerjackClassic, Tiger is -- win, lose or withdraw -- stil the biggest thing on the PGA Tour. Which is why the back spasms that caused his withdrawal yesterday and make him questionable for the WGC event at Doral this week is such a big deal. Woods chases history as everyone else chases him. His majors total has been stuck at 14 still 2008. Five years ago it seemed certain he would surpass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors. Now, Tiger is 38 and the odds seem against him, although his continued high level of play and fierce drive make him tough to bet against. Nicklaus, it should be noted, won four majors when older than Tiger is right now, including his last at age 46. So, will Woods do it? This isn't asking whether you hope he will, but whether you think he will. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

KIM NOVAK'S FACE FRIGHTENS OSCARS, MILLIONS OF VIEWERS: My Oscars review: Gravity cleaned up even though the biggest awards went to 12 Years A Slave (picture), Matthew McConaughey from Dallas 1aa1aknovakBuyers Club (actor) and Cate Blanchett from Blue Jasmine (actress). Host Ellen DeGeneres was good-not-great. But the night's memorable moment for me was the gruesomely startling appearance of actress Kim Novak, 81. As visual evidence here indicates, Kim is an old woman still in the desperate throes of trying to appear, what, 40? I believe this may be possible, from a distance of approximately 100 yards. I wish people like this -- the plastic-surgery/collagen/Botox crowd -- would explain their intent. Does Novak think this is a good look? Does she have no friends or loved ones to be truthful with her? I mean, a 600-pound man can wear vertical stripes because they're thinning, but he's still a 600-pound man.

MARINO EDGES LEBRON FOR MIAMI MOUNTAINTOP: We asked in the last blogpost in what we called the ultimate Miami sports poll, you responded, and 50.4 percent of you said Dan Marino is still our greatest all- 1aa1adannytime athlete. LeBron James drew 45.8% and the other 3.8% voted "someone else." (C'mon, people. Who else!) I respect the vote. I personally think LeBron has now surpassed Marino. James has accomplished more in his career and is a bigger national star than Marino ever was. But I also understand that Marino spent a long career here exclusively and we've only had James four seasons. Guessing James almost certanly would win this poll if he re-signs and does what's doing a while longer. For now, though, the lasting aura of Marino proves resilient to even the King's challenge.

PAT RILEY SPEAKS!: The Heat's 17th annual Family Festival on Sunday found club president Pat Riley -- pictured right rockin' the Sonny Bono look in his flower-power-era incarnation -- unsually chatty. Some nuggets: On his own 1aa1arileshappiness--"Six years ago when I was coaching I'd wake up at 5 a.m. and it was dark and I was depressed. Not anymore." On his team--"They are so fun to watch. They're on a mission. You've just got to keep in mind, we've got a long way to go. Everybody thinks it's right around the corner [but] a lot of stuff can happen. Stay on track with the defense and the rebounding and I think we'll be OK." On Greg Oden--"I root for him more than I ever rooted for anybody. I knock on wood and cross my fingers every day he stays healthy." On LeBron James--"He wants to win and that's all it's about. All the other stuff that's flying around like butterflies, they're just things. And he deals with it as well as anybody. I'm so proud of him and Chris [Bosh] and Dwyane [Wade], that they're able to subjugate. Look what it's brought them. And it can only get better." On Wade--"He's like a son to me."

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February 07, 2014

The Olympics poll. Last day to vote!; plus Dolphins' draft, Marlins projection, Angela Means, approval for Beckham/MLS & more

1aa1ameoly1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8. Click on RANDOM EVIDENCE for today's latest Sunday notes-column, package, leading with the Winter Olympics. 2) U.S. contingent (right) during the Opening Ceremonies. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Confessions of a soccer fan: David Beckham/MLS and soccer-in-Miami poll, Chad 'n Brad lead UM recruiting class & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

"Heat lose at Utah. Mass though half-hearted panic sweeps Miami!" --Greg Cote

1aa1beatlesThe Beatles: Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' groundbreaking appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. I'll offer a new blogpost Monday that will include a retrospective on what the Beatles meant to me, and why.

DELIVER YOUR VERDICT ON OLYMPICS IN GENERAL AS SOCHI GAMES BEGIN: The Winter Games in Sochi commenced officially with Opening Ceremonies including the parade of nations featuring a record 230-athlete U.S. 1aa1aolyscontingent, and now competition is fully underway. I'll admit to being a flag-waving jingoist, which probably drives my interest in the Olympics. Winter or summer, once every
1aa1aolyssochifour years I look forward to watching sports I'd otherwise have zero interest in -- bobsled! -- simply to cheer America vs. the world. But that's just me. You? Not asking here about Russia hosting these Games. This isn't a vote on Vladimir Putin. This is simply asking whether or not you're into the Olympics in general. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Dueling ESPN draftniks Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay don't agree on much, including who'll go No. 1 overall to Houston in May's NFL Draft. Kiper says QB Johnny Manziel; McShay says DE Jadevon Clowney. But the warring nerds do agree in their latest mock drafts that that, Miami, at No. 19, will select Notre Dame OT Zack Martin (pictured). Seems logical. He's 6-4 and 308, it's a position of desperate need, and he's said to be pro-ready.

1aa1angelameansNEW CANES QB IS SON OF '90S ACTRESS: New Hurricanes QB recruit Brad Kaaya is the son of a minor 1990s actress, Angela Means, whose most notable roles (according to movie website IMDb) were in House Party 3 (1994), Friday (1995) and Cousin Skeeter (1998). It is not believed any of those performances resulted in an OScar, but we're still checking.   

Poll result: Soccer polarizes, but solid support for Beckham/MLS team here: A reminder that soccer tends to be a love it-or-hate it proposition. We asked in the last blogpost (you may still vote) about your interest in David Beckham bringing a Major League Soccer team to Miami, and 46.9 percent said "very excited" but 33.8% said "not interested." The other 19.3% said "somewhat intrigued."

MARLINS: "WE'RE NO. 25!": Spring training is around the corner, and that means it's time to start wondering if the Marlins will be really bad again or movin' on up to mediocre. ESPN in its pre-spring rankings slots Miami 25th of 30 teams and projects a 73-89 record, but calls the Marlins a "deep sleeper" that could potentially win 85 and sneak into ther wild-card hunt.

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October 16, 2013

Are the Dolphins a playoff team? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat/NBA over-unders, Doctor Sleep, texting at the movies, Stick-Figure Family backlash & more

1aa1bossIt is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17. I'm back in the Friday Page Dungeon today trying to survive this week's NFL picks. If you hear screaming call 9-1-1. 2) Yesterday was "National Boss Day," a contrivance to which underlings everywhere might mutter, "Isn't every day?" My Boss is pictured. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, LeBron revealed, happy anniversary Steve Bartman, exhilaration and disgust, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Canes-North Carolina: Watch for a new, separate blogpost on tonight's Miami Hurricanes-North Carolina game around late afternoon today.

Heat seen as NBA victories leader: Predicatbly, new betting over/unders from Bovada for NBA regular-season victories have Heat on top at 61.5. Followers are Clippers 57, Bulls 56.5, Spurs 55.5 and Rockets/Pacers both 54.5. Caboose is 76ers at 17.

ARE THESE DOLPHINS A PLAYOFF TEAM?: I know. It's a bit early for this. But Miami has so seldom been 1aa1dolposin the NFL playoff picture the past dozen or so years that just being in the conversation is worth chewing on, even pre-Halloween. Besides, the bye week is a pause that invites reflection. The Dolphins at 3-2 entering Sunday's game here vs. Buffalo would hold the sixth and final AFC playoff spot (the second wild-card) if the postseason started now. But five teams are 3-3 and three others have two wins, so the competition down the stretch will be fierce. Betting odds right now (Bovada) are that Miami will not make the playoffs. What do you think? I remind Dolfans who are voting (probably the majority) that this isn't asking what you hope happens but rather what your gut honestly feels will happen. Pull the lever with mind not heart, if you are able. Vote and say why, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

1aa1drsleepDOCTOR SLEEP: Just finished reading Stephen King's latest, Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining. (Not a prequel, as I'd caresslessly called it originally). I'll offer no plot hint except this: I'll never again pass a Winnebago on the Interstate without a glance at the driver. This book is far from my favorite of his, but I flew through the 500-plus pages fast and would recommend it. Then again I'm one of King's Constant Readers. He suffers critically from his popularity, but I'm proud to call him my favorite novelist (not counting Pete Dexter, who, opposite of King's prolificness, doesn't write nearly enough to suit me).

MULTI-TASKING IN MOVIE THEATERS: Movie theaters -- dying like newspapers and hand-written letters -- 1aa1cellmovieneed life breathed into them, but the idea that has caught my eye seems counterintuitive to say the least. A San Francisco venture capitalist named Hunter Walk suggests designated rooms or seating sections that allow (and thus tacitly encourage) texting, Tweeting and web-surfing during the film. At least two chains, Regal and IMAX, think it might be a good idea. Hmm. Remember when you went to the movies to escape the sort of reality embodied by cell phones? Dear Fellow Human: If you cannot leave your smartphone alone for 103 minutes, you may have Attention Deficit Disorder. Seriously.

1aa1figstickSTICK-FIGURE FAMILIES: We've all seen the stick-figure-family decals on the rear windows of cars and (most often, it seems) SUVs. They in turn have spawned response decals such as the one pictured -- and some more crude than this. It's in the same vein as the bumper sticker that reads, "My Kid Can Beat Up Your Honor Student." Response decals are not new. Remember when 'Baby On Board' begat 'Mother-in-Law In Trunk'? But the new wave reflected in the one pictured seem a bit coarse; no, mean-spirited. What's next? A bumper sticker that reads, "You Love Your Schnauzer? I'd Love to Eat Your Schnauzer with Fava Beans."  Or how about a reponse to those R.I.P. in-memorium stickers that reads, "I Don't Give a Crap That Your Loved One Died." C'mon, people! We turn a dark corner as a society when being mean is such a point of pride that we have it on a rolling billboard. Be nice!

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July 10, 2013

Draw line on 'roids & Cooperstown. Poll. Vote!; plus Sedano leaving WQAM, Wade's ex-wife, LeBron raps, Birdman the movie, Farewell to "The" & more

Cote radio doubleheader: Am back in-studio with Le Batard again today starting at 3 p.m. on 790 the Ticket and FM 104.3. Ears welcome.

1) It is FRIDAY, JULY 12. Jorge Sedano is leaving WQAM for ESPN, according to my colleague Barry Jackson. The Worldwide Leader is making a big reach to Hispanic listeners. That doesn't mean it's why he is being hired. But it fits and is unsurprising. 2) Dwyane Wade's ex-wife won't quit. She's back after Wade in a new lawsuit. Click here for the details. 3) Happy birthday to one of my musical heroes, @Mavis_Staples, who turned 74. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton cavorts nude, Dolphin calls out Pats, Bosh to India, 2 Canes honored, Shh to Silva and Shaq, Heat poll results, no-class Seahawks & more.

Join us on TWITTER @gregcote and INSTAGRAM @ upsetbird and VINE @ Greg Cote. Cost: Free. Return on investment: Commensurate with outlay.

Farewell to "The": The Miami Herald without ceremony has dropped the "The" from its name and is now officially simply Miami Herald. Farewell, The. I miss you already!

BASEBALL'S DIRTY DILEMMA: STEROIDS AND THE HALL OF FAME: The Home Run Derby and 84th All-Star Game are almost upon us, and what should be a wonderful time for baseball is decidedly not. The 1aa1bbhallroidsMiami-born Biogenesis scandal sees Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and four current All-Stars among 20 implicated players who could be suspended right after the break. Click on Baseball's Midsummer Nightmare for my latest column. Hall of fame voters so far have shown little inclination to forgive PED-tainted players and let them into Cooperstown's hallowed halls, rejecting otherwise-first-ballot guys such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, along with Mark McGwire and Samy Sosa -- all rebuffed earlier this year -- and many more. What if you had a Hall vote? You sort of do in the form of this poll. One option I have raised in the past (not found in the poll) is to induct the tainted guys whose numbers are too overwhelming to ignore, but with a scarlet S for steroids, with permanent mention of their scandal on their Hall plauque. OK, now you draw your own line. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

LEBRON JAMES TRIES RAPPING: On his Instagram account last night Heat star LeBron James posted 1aa1kingjtwo brief audio clips of him rapping, intro-ing himself as "the kid King James." It totals roughly a half-minute of sound that includes maybe half of that of him in acceptable mid-flow. Click HERE to listen. I am told it was recorded when he and some close friends were in Las Vegas on a recent bro-holiday. The idea of LeBron immersing himself in hip-hop and loving an open mic is nothing new, or any surprise. Click here to watch a 2010 video of LBJ on stage with Drake. Whether this latest little foray is the precursor of a James rap album is unknown, but LeBron's close friendhsip with Jay-Z, Drake and others in the genre suggests something could blossom. Meantime, X@#! you, Lil Wayne!

HOLLYWOOD CONTINUES SHAMELESS USURPING OF HEAT NICKNAMES!: Like it wasn't bad enough there is a new movie called The Heat, the popular Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy buddy flick. Now, in 1aa1theheatmovieproduction, is a new movie called Birdman, a comedy that began filming this spring in New York City. The movie stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and the ubiquitous Zach Galifianakis -- but conspicuously not the Heat's newly re-signed Chris (Birdman) Andersen. Andersen and his nickname had just begun making inroads on the long headstart of Birdman 1aa1birdmancaof Alcatraz; now, this new challenger. Pictured left: Birdman Andersen, saying, "C'mon, man!" at the idea of a new movie called Birdman. The mind casts back a year to Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse, the local short film that did not have Bosh's blessing. Where will the cinematic plundering of the NBA champions end!? Will actor Dwayne Johnson start spelling it "Dwyane"? How about a remake of the 1953 Western Shane, but not starring Battier? Enough, Hollywood. Enough.

1aa1heidiklumWHAT HEIDI KLUM DID ON HER VACATION: The former supermodel and Project Runway host recently vacationed in the Bahamas and Instagram'd this photo of her, um, tanline, with the caption, "Ouch!" We pass it along purely for educational purposes, as a reminder to always use sunscreen while tanning. As for a (mostly) sports blog showing this, well, ah, clearly this involved an outdoors activity, possibly beach volleyball. Yeah that's it!

JUSTIN BIEBER ENRAGES CHICAGO: An executive of the NHL champ Chicago Blackhawks made the 1aa1biebcuperror in judgement of Tweeting out this photo of pop star Justin Bieber posing with the hallowed Stanley Cup in the team's lockerroom. (Note the customized Bieber jersey in the background). Blackhawks' fans response has been swift, voluminous and full of rage. Three possible reasons: One, hockey is a very manly sport and Bieber, physically, looks as if he'd lose a slapfight to a female jockey. Two, Justin is a sports whore, by which I mean he poses as a fan of whatever city he's in, as when he wore a Heat cap during that playoff game here, that night he adopted the bling-n-whiteboy-thug persona and was booed when shown on the video screen. Three, if you don't love Bieber (an adoration confined mostly to adolescent girls who haven't defected to One Direction yet), then chances are you hate him.

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