September 05, 2015

Lightning strikes! UM clubs Bethune-Cookman 45-0 in opener; plus CSM poll, Dolphins change kickers, Izzy tells the truth, Marino makes wine, Upset Bird Countdown & more


1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. Are the Dolphins the sixth-best team in the NFL? Well, this nut says so. Click on The Order for my annual NFL team rankings, 1 through 32. 2) Note, Sunday's Random Evidence notes column will be the next-to-last in print, meaning in the newspaper. Details to come. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Dolphins preseason finale, FIU wins, Brady-wins poll, Fins U-25s, Jimmy Johnson reigns, UM hoops & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins rookie kicker Franks unseats Sturgis: The two players who put the foot in football -- the placekicker and punter -- both will be new for the Dolphins this year. Rookie kicker Andrew Franks beat out incumbent Caleb Sturgis today as the Fins met the 53-man roster max. Last week rookie punter Matt Darr Matt unseated veteran Brandon Fields. You know it has been an uneventful Cut Day when the big new is the kicker. Still, this will be first season since 2007 that Miami has had two new foot-men. That was when Jay Feely replaced PK Olindo Mare and Fields replaced P Donnie Jones.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 6 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix


1aa1abaltosthe Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We are doing a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related winged-creature nicknames from America's Big Four sports, from newest to oldest. Today, at No. 6: Baltimore Orioles, born 1954. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66].

On Al Golden: As the Miami Hurricanes open the new season tonight at 6 vs. visiting Bethune-Cookman, I write why this must be the no-excuses season when UM's coach restores fans' faith and his own future here. Click on Golden Opportunity to read.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Welcome back to another season of Canesfan Satisfaction Meter 1aa1acsmpostgame polls -- this first one in the wake of tonight's season-opening 45-0 victory vs. visiting Bethune-Cookman. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Monday.

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2014--2.7% overall satisfaction (following 6-7 season); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

G1: HURRICANES 45, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 0: SOFT-OPENER, BUT UM DOMINATES: Final--UM 1-0 after an impressive, maybe easier-than-expected 45-0 home rout in a game delayed 75 minutes by lightning. Corn Elder stood out with two long punt-return TDs, though one was nullified. Tough to judge the Canes off this considering the lesser opponent, but it nevertheless was an opening performance tough to criticize. ..... 4Q--UM 45-0 after Gray 2y TD run. ..... 3Q--UM 38-0 on Walton 5y TD run. ... Third and fourth quarters will be 10 minutes, not 15, because of earlier delay. ..... 2Q--UM 31-0 on Elder 72y punt-return TD. ... UM 24-0 on Yearby 25y TD run. ... UM 17-0 on Kaaya-Scott 17y TD pass after 75-minute lightning delay. ... UM denied 17-0 lead on apparent Corn Elder 70y punt-return TD because Herb Waters made an arm gesture that suggested to officials the punt would not be returned. ... UM 10-0 on 25y FG. ..... 1Q--UM 7-0 on Kaaya-Dobard 5y TD pass after Canes gambled to take three points off board following roughing-kicker penalty. ..... Original post: Dolphins stadium is all made-over, aqua seats replacing orange, and tonight starting at 6 p.m. we see if under-pressure
1aa1acanesopenercoach Al Golden's Miami Hurricanes look as good as their refurbished home. They'd better considering the opponent is Division 1AA Bethune-Cookman of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Bethune isn't bad for its size (it was 9-3 last season), but still is a second-tier program that The U had better handle without much trouble. Miami won these teams' most recent meeting in 2012 by 38-10, for example. It will be hard to gauge how good Miami really is tonight, but I'll be especially looking to see how the offensive line is protecting QB Brad Kaaya. My pick: Canes, 41-7.

Other college Week 1 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all today unless noted):

Tulsa 47, FAU 44 (OT): I'd called a road upset by Owls. If only close counted.

South Florida 51, Florida A&M 3: Bulls rout fang-less Rattlers.

Florida 61, New Mexico State 13: Swamp serves up big debut for coach Jim McElwain.

No. Florida State 59, Texas State 16: Ex-Irish Everett Golson sharp in Noles debut.

Thursday: FIU 15, UCF 14: Nice upset as FIU opens 1-0 with road win for first time since '04.

Preseason conference-title odds for state's 7 FBS schools: Percentage likelihoods are based on ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI). ACC--Florida State is favorite at 27.0 percent and Miami is sixth at 5.1%. (Clemson is near co-favorite at 26.8%). SEC--Florida is at 1.2%. (Georgia is favorite at 35.5%). Conference USA--FIU at at 1.0% and FAU at 0.4%. (Louisiana Tech is favorite at 45.3%). American--UCF is at 5.9% and South Florida at 0.3%. (Cincinnati is favorite at 40.9%).

1aa1aizzyFREEDOM: ISRAEL GUTIERREZ COMES OUT: Our friend and former Miami Herald colleague Izzy Gutierrez, now an ESPN star and heard regularly on local radio, revealed yesterday that he is gay. Family and close friends have known for years; the "coming out" is that all now know, a bigger deal -- in scope, not importance -- when one is a public figure. Click HERE to read his simple, riveting truth written in his personal blog, something that I think he'd agree took him a whole lifetime to write. The piece is very honest (of course), and I think it is important to read. I think it was especially interesting how he'd been inspired by others who had come out. Gutierrez in turn will continue that cycle of honesty, by example helping others who are working up the courage to fully be themselves. I'm happy for the freedom and unburdening Gutierrez must now feel. I also congratulate him on his upcoming marriage to his partner; they are pictured here, with Izzy in the shades. He'll be applauded by many for being "brave" or "courageous." I doubt he wants to be seen as that. I think he'd rather just be a guy living his truest life.

1aa1adanwineDAN MARINO WINE. NO, SERIOUSLY: Dolphins icon Dan Marino and former backup quarterback Damon Huard have partnered in a Washington State winery called (pun intended), Passing Time. Huard was the Dolphins backup late in Marino's career, in 1997-99. Their winemaking venture was launched in the spring of 2014 and their first cabernet sauvignon, retailing at around $75, rolled out this year. Marino has been a longtime wine collector and has a cellar in his home. He brings the marquee name to the partnership, while Huard mans the daily operation. The partners are pictured working their vineyard. Below is a short video as they describe their passion.


Poll result: Mixed verdict on court overturning Brady suspension: Most, 56.2 percent in our blogpoll, think Tom Brady got away with cheating and that the federal court was wrong to overturn his four-game suspension. But another 40.1% said it was the right call because the NFL failed to make its case. The other 3.7% were undecided.

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September 02, 2015

Who's best football coach in Hurricanes history? Poll. Vote!; plus Upset Bird Countdown (9 days), bizarre UM football photos, Kim Davis/gay marriage, Suh named Top 5, Heat intrigue, Canes' RBs, Dolphins get lucky, 'Concussion' trailer & more


1aa1acyrusm1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Dolphins change punters? If you think that's big news, you aren't very confident in your offense. 2) Wonder if it has occurred to Miley Cyrus (pictured) that the slut-persona has become so expected (ho hum) that she'd truly shock us more by being demure and fully clothed? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins beat Atlanta in third fake-game, Weighing The Fish, Fins' fantasy rankings, dodging the Cone of Doom & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50': Our massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating Dolphins' 50th season remains available online. Click FINS AT 50 to access. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND, column on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST, list of franchise's 50 top figures (not just players). ALL-TIME TEAM, my picks. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS, my talks with Shula, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. I also have a Shula-by-the-numbers column not in original package; click TOP 10 NUMBERS.

A Pair of Aces: I write, in today's latest column, that big seasons by quarterbsck Ryan Tannehill and Brad Kaaya will be lifesavers for the Miami careers of their Dolphins and Hurricanes coaches, Joe Philbin and Al Golden. Click on To The Rescue to read.

WHO IS GREATEST HURRICANES FOOTBALL COACH EVER?: Championships? Longevity? Recruiting 1aa1acanesprowess? Serving with do-right class beyond wins and losses? There are many ways a college football coach might be judged. Now, it's Judgement Day. We offer you, alphabetically, the 10 University of Miami football head coaches who have coached here a minimum of 50 games. (Randy Shannon and Al Golden happen to sneak in right at 50). By whatever criteria you hold most important, vote for your top two (2), then check back here often to monitor evolving results as we find out who is the greatest football coach The U has had ... and who isn't. Vote and say why you chose as you did.


Deciphering two-vote results: The highest possible vote total in this poll would be 50 percent if everyone cast the maximum two votes. Double a coach's total for a rough idea of the percentage of voters including that person in their top two.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 9 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. And so we have begun a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related nicknames from America's Big

1aa1aseahawk 1aa1a9Four sports, from newest (No. 10) to 1aa1afripix 1aa1abird;pixoldest (No. 1). There are 14 in all. Charlotte Hornets, Baltimore Ravens, Anaheim Ducks and New Orleans Pelicans were too recent to make the cut. This pains us, because we love Ducks and Pelicans as goofy nicknames, and the Raven, of course, is the hero and official muse of the Upset Bird. Don't look for Detroit Red Wings in our countdown, either; that nickname derives from a wheel, not a bird. Also no 1aa1a10 1aa1abluejaysJets here, even though they have wings. Our countdown began Monday with the 10th longest-serving bird nickname, Toronto Blue Jays, established 1977. Today, at No. 9: Seattle Seahawks, born 1976. Ornithological note: There is no "seahawk' per se in the winged kingdom but it is accepted in our countdown as a nickname for the osprey.

1aa1acanesstrangephotoWEIRD CANES FOOTBALL PHOTOS: Here's a strange little story that first appeared on Bleacher Report on Sunday, headlined 'Miami Hurricanes Football Players Do Goofy Poses for Photo Day.' (Click here for the original report). The photos shown, by Eric Espada at, picture players in unofficial, casual poses, as pictured here. They're just having fun. Two minor problems. 1) As BR points out, "The student sections at Florida State and other ACC schools are going to have a field day with these photos." 2) As a few have pointed out to me on Twitter and in emails, the photos (at least this one) could be misconstrued as homoerotic or poking fun at gays. Like I said, it's a strange little story that I don't think is any big deal. But, for reasons 1 and 2, it's another example how athletes maybe should think twice before doing ... well, anything.

SUH ELITE, BUT DOLPHINS OTHERWISE LAG IN TOP 100 PLAYESR:'s annual rank of the Top 100 NFL players is out today (full list here) and DT Ndamukong Suh (pictured) ranks No. 4 overall, after only J.J.
1aa1ansuhWatt, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. That bad news? Miami place only one other guy in the Top 100: DE Cam Wake at No. 51. Meanwhile the Fins' AFC East mates all have four men make the list. The Patriots have QB Brady 3rd, TE Rob Gronkowski 5th, S Devin McCourty 56th and LB Jamie Collins 97th. The Jets place CB Darrelle Revis 9th, DE Muhammad Wilkerson 50th, DE Sheldon Richardson 61st and C Nick Mangold 88th. And the Bills place RB LeSean McCoy 41st, DE Mario Williams 46th, DT Marcell Dareus 64th and DT Kyle Williams 94th. You wonder why Miami's offensive line is such a concern? That's seven front-seven pass rushing opponents in the Top 100.

ON KIM DAVIS, FAITH AND DUTY: [Warning: The following item may upset the "STICK TO SPORTS!!!" crowd. Those are the folks who accidentally wander across this blog like Mormons discovering Bourbon Street, unaware that Random Evidence is a (mostly) sports blog that also delves into pop culture and 1aa1adaviskimissues like this one]. Here is a backgrounder on the Kim Davis story, for the unaware. She (pictured) is the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky. Her office issues marriage licenses. Or not! She cites her religious belief in refusing to issue licenses to gay couples -- despite a Supreme Court ruling that says she must. "Under God's authority," she justifies her stance. Dear Ms. Davis: What you are doing does not make you a bad person or a good person as much as it simply makes you a person spectacularly unqualified to be a county clerk in the United States in 2015. That you were not summarily fired for failure to uphold the law and do your job suggests the Rowan mayor and city council may be hibernating and unaware of current events. May I suggest another line of work, Ms. Davis? Perhaps one where personal/religious beliefs and the law of the land are not at odds? Bulletin: THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. Nobody gives a s--- whether or who you worship when not on the job. Nobody cares if, when not on the job, you hear your God telling you the love of same-sex couples is inferior and wrong. You are entitled to your personal beliefs. What matters is that, when on the job, you do what you are being paid to do. Or leave.

ARE HEAT THE NBA'S MOST INTRIGUING TEAM?: Grantland's Zach Lowe poses the question this week at; click here to read. The premise sounds like a bit of hyperbole, yet is not far-fetched. Dwyane Wade trying to hang on to "elite." Chris Bosh coming back. Hassan Whiteside emerging. Goran Dragic in his first full season. The elements for "intriguing" are here. 

1aa1ajoeyearbyEDWARDS INJURY A MEDIUM LOSS FOR CANES, NOT A HUGE ONE: Gus Edwards appeared to have won
UM's starting running back job when a foot injury knocked him out for the season just before the first depth chart was revealed. Now Joe Yearby (pictured) looks like the next man up to be the featured back, although freshman Mark Walton also is in the mix, with bigger Trayone Gray also still in the RB picture and more physically suited, perhaps, for Edwards' short-yardage and goalline role. Beyond Edwards' size advantage, though, otherwise, on paper, the Hurricanes should lose nothing with Yearby replacing him. Yearby ran for 509 yards and a 5.9 average last season to Edwards' 349 and 5.7. Yearby is a bit better receiver out of the backfield, too.

DOLPHINS CATCH A BREAK WITH COUSINS IN FOR RG3 IN OPENER: Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. 1aa1acousinskEven a struggling Robert Griffin III is better and a bigger threat than backup Kirk Cousins (pictured), who'll start against Miami up there in the Sept. 13 season opener. Cousins is not as experienced (9 career starts to 35), is less accurate (59.0% completions to 63.9%), has a sizably lower passer rating (77.5 to 90.6) and, perhaps most important, is more than twice as likely to throw an interception (4.7 pick ratio to RG3's 2.2). Also, Cousins is not the least bit a running threat; Griffin definitely is. Suffice to say, Ndamukong Suh and Cam Wake are not unhappy it'll be Cousins in Week 1. As colleague Barry "Buzz" Jackson pointed out, the first six QBs Miami faces this season could be Cousins, Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota and Brian Hoyer -- a cornucopia of inexperience or ineffectiveness. Mariota is a rookie, Taylor has zero NFL starts and the other four have a combined 48-79-1 career record.

WATCH TRAILER FOR 'CONCUSSION,' THE NFL's NIGHTMARE MOVIE: Sony Pictures drops the new Will Smith film, Concussion, on Christmas Day. Here is the new 2-minute trailer:


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March 19, 2015

NCAAs a foregone conclusion? Most boring March Madness ever? Poll. Vote now!; plus Charles Clay, Ron Fraser, Haiku Challenge news, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Loria reimaging, Pounceys, D&G & more

1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 19. Corned beef. The meat I really enjoy one day a year, then never think of again. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): March Madness Haiku Challenge, Wade beats LeBron, UM men denied NCAAs, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine. (New stuff from yesterday's LeBatard Show).

Georgia State coach falls off chair during game: Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, on a courtside office chair due to an injury, falls from chair in closing minutes of his 14th-seeded team's upset of No. 3 Baylor today. Funny! Click here to watch.

Charles Clay to Bills: Dolphins today decline to match contract offer by Buffalo, meaning tight end Clay is headed to Bills. For him it's a smart financial move, dubious football move, awful lifestyle move. 

Ron Fraser statue dedication: The Miami Hurricanes will have a ceremony unveiling a new Rom Fraser statue on April 24 at 4 p.m. outside Mark Light Field. Fraser, the two-time national champion baseball coach, passed Away in at age 79 in 2013.  

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat soaring, Panthers nearly done. Update entering Thursday/today: A daily blog feature as two teams (one barely) fight to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending up in 7th place at 31-36 (W2), after last night's big 108-104 home win over Portland led by Dwyane Wade's 32 points. Miami is now 2 1/2 games from 6th with 15 games left (next Friday vs. Denver). Heat playoff likelihood: 60.0% (up 13.6) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 31-39 (L2), 3 points from 9th and 7 points from 8th with 12 games left (next tonight vs. Detroit). Cats playoff likelihood: 1.6% (unchanged) per

ARE WE STARING DOWN THE BARREL OF THE MOST BORING MARCH MADNESS EVER?: You could make the argument that we are if the feel of "foregone conclusion" is a barometer. Think about it. Kentucky is 1aa1amarchmad34-0, a unanimous No. 1 and a huge favorite (near even-odds) to win the men's NCAA Tournament. On the women's side, UConn is 32-1, also a unanimous No. 1 and perhaps an ever bigger favorite. I'd feel very good if you gave me Kentucky and UConn and you took the field. I get the two favorites; you get everybody else. I cannot recall a previous year in which the two overall No. 1s were such prohibitive favorites. Doesn't mean brackets will be filled out any less or that office pools will be smaller, but, for me, at least, the seeming inevitability of Kentucky's men and UConn's women reigning makes this March Madness feel like we know the ending even as the story is just starting.

HAIKU CHALLENGE CONTEST UPDATE: DEADLINE EXTENDED!: Due to unpopular demand we are extending the deadline to enter our annual March Madness Haiku Challenge into next week. (As an 1aa1ahaikuemailer put it, "Why end the contest just as the tournament is beginning, you moron!" Fair comment). So you still have time to get those 17-syllable poems in. Three simple rules: 1. If your poem is 17 syllables exactly and it's about the NCAA Tournament/March Madness/college hoops, it's a valid entry. 2. You may submit entries here in the blog's 'Comments' section below (preferred) OR email them to 3. You may enter as many haikus as you wish. We'll give you some warning on the new deadline but enter now just to be safe. Last year's contest was won by reader Scott Vogelsberg. His winning entry: "Beware Ides of 1aa1adickievMarch * Et tu Brutus the Buckeye * Bubbles pop for all." The judging panel (that's me) appreciated the classic 5-7-5 phrasing, liked the nod to the Roman calendar, loved the link between Ohio State and Shakespeare, and also enjoyed the double entendre on bubbles popping. But you can do better! Contest prize? The grand prize will be the glory of victory, but we'll throw in something else. Maybe a Dolphins or Heat media guide? Maybe a chance to visit the Dan LeBatard Show on a Tuesday we're in-studio? We'll figure something out. In any case, rev your creative mind. Ready, set ... haiku!

JEFFREY LORIA: BIG SPENDER: Still getting used to the re-imaging of Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria, erstwhile notorious tightwad. First, the huge contract for Giancarlo Stanton, Now, the private team jet.
1aa1aboeing767200The Marlins have rented a Boeing 767-200 (the model pictured) for the season and it includes 84 oversized luxury seats, a massage table and card tables. The outside of the jet will bear the Marlins logo. Miami also has expanded its overall payroll as well as its scouting, player development, marketing and sales departments. Did I mention the executive chefs to prepare meals for home games? Many Marlins fans still think negatively of Loria and maybe always will, but give him this. He's trying. And spending.

ON THE POUNCEYS' SNIPES AT WALLACE: Oh, those Pouncey brothers! Cue the ghost of Ronald Reagan 1aa1apounceysshaking his head with a smirk and saying, "Well, there they go again..." So Dolphin Mike Pouncey and his bro Maurkice (pictured) pretty much say in an interview "good riddance" to departed Mike Wallace. Maurkice drops the hot-potato word "coward," assuring media (over-)attention. To me this isn't a big deal because the Pounceys by now are established loose cannons and Wallace is a ship sailing fast from Finland. (Mike who?)

THE SLOW SUICIDE OF DOLCE & GABBANA: It's above my pay grade and sartorial splendor, but Dolce & Gabbana is an Italian luxury fashion line in the category Armani, Gucci and Versace. It is only important to 1aa1ad&gnote that founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana both are gay because of the controversy now embroiling them. Celebrities led by Elton John have condemned the  brand and promoted a boycott of D&G because of the founders' saying in an interview that gay adoption is unnatural and referring to babies born via in-vitro fertilization as "synthetic children." The LGBT community, non-gays who have benefited from IVF and many others inclined toward tolerance are sympathetic to the boycott, which seems to be growing. Many others agree with D&G's opinions or align on the side of freedom of speech in the social media age. What's interesting to me is that it feels like such business-suicide for a high-end fashion house to be perceived as anti-gay or anti-same sex parents. I am generalizing here, but feel safe in thinking D&G's customer base is gay or OK with same-sex adoption to a far greater extent than it would include supporters of D&G's stance on the matter. #BoycottDolceGabbana

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January 06, 2015

Dolphins hire Tannenbaum; plus my Hall of Fame ballot and, yes, it includes Bonds and Clemens. Would your's? New poll. Vote now!; also gay marriage, fake Beach Boys & more


It's Radio Tuesday: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today after a two-week holiday hiatus, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. A new "Back In My Day" segment is in hand. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 6. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package after a two-week holiday hiatus. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-draft-needs poll, happy birthday Shula, R.I.P. Stuart Scott, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS HIRE TANNENBAUM AS DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL OPS: The Dolphins today hired Mike Tannenbaum, formerly of the Jets, as executive vice president of pro football operations -- the old Bill Parcells role. He reportedly will oversee (and have firing power over) GM Dennis Hickey but not over coach Joe Philbin. Hickey can't be happy, although he reportedly maintains final say over the 53-man roster. What this means: Owner Stephen Ross doesn't quite trust Philbin or Hickey. Dolphins in flux. Again.

On Heat, Panthers: Click on Falling, Rising for today's column by me. It's on how the Heat and Panthers both are headed for a fight just to make the playoffs, and how that's an indignity for one club but a triumph for the other.

MY HALL OF FAME BALLOT INCLUDES BONDS, CLEMENS THIS YEAR: Update: Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz and Biggio elected. I voted for all four. Update 30 minutes before vote announced: The website, based on a screening of voters, projects the five inductees today will be, in order of support: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio and (narrowly) Mike Piazza. Original post: The latest inductees into Cooperstown are to be announced today at 2 p.m. I became a Baseball Hall of Fame voter for the first time a year ago, and did not include any "Steroids Era" guys on my ballot. It was personal. I felt my first- 1aa1abondsclemsnsever ballot should be as "clean" as the sport aspires to be. This year, however, I voted for both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (pictured). My 10 votes in all went to, alphabetically: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz. For the record I think Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz will get in. I think Sheffield has a good chance. I think Carlos Delgado and Mike Piazza have a shot. I do not think a sufficient 75 percent of my BBWAA brethren are ready yet to join me on Bonds and Clemens. My thinking on those two: Their career numbers are so extraordinary, so enormous, that they would have been Cooperstown-worthy even without PEDs. (I am much less sure on Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and others). I also believe the Hall of Fame is not the Hall of Sainthood. I further believe that guys like Bonds and Clemens (yes, and Pete Rose) have been punished enough by their previous barring from Cooperstown and by their public shaming. Of course all of that is moot as I fully expect both men to fall well short of the Hall again today. I respect my colleagues who continue take the highest moral ground on this. Hopefully they in turn respect those of us who have come to think otherwise -- at least on Bonds and Clemens. Here's a poll inviting your thoughts on this. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Guard, linebacker top Dolphin draft needs: We asked what position the Dolphins should target with the top pick in next NFL Draft, and among eight choice offensive guard (34.9 percent) and linebacker (27.0%) dominated. Defensive tackle (15.9%) and cornerback (12.6%) were next.

1aa1agaymarriageIT'S ABOUT TIME, FLORIDA: Congratulations to my home state for stepping gingerly into the 21st Century in becoming the 36th state to legalize same-sex marriage. And to Floridian gay couples for finally gaining their equal rights. Who are you, I or the government to tell any loving couple they are second-class citizens? Of course, with gay marriages inevitably will come gay divorces and the spawn of gay-divorce lawyers as a specialty practice. Oh how I wish I were kidding.     

BOYCOTT THE SEMI-BEACH BOYS!: The Beach Boys (sort of) play Thursday night in West Palm Beach, but, if you have tickets, beware. You are getting half the product. I'd ask for my money back. This is the version 1aa1amloveof the Beach Boys hijacked by frontman Mike Love (pictured), who unfortunately owns the group name. He is touring with only one other original Beach Boy, Bruce Johnstone. The group toured last year with all its original living members -- including Al Jardine, David Marks and, of course, the irreplacable Brian Wilson -- but Love essentially fired the other three. Boycott Mike Love. Boycott the fake, sort of, semi-Beach Boys. (Or at least smuggle in a 'WE WANT BRIAN WILSON!' sign).

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July 26, 2014

What's your faith in Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10, Joe Philbin, Morgan Freeman does LeBron & more

1aa1amick1) It is MONDAY, JULY 28. Just learned our recent column headlined "LeBron James' departure leaves Miami Heat fans divided" was the most-read thing locally and nationally on last week. Thanks, readers. 2) Mick Jagger turned 71. Rock on and roll on, Mick! 3) Frank Caliendo as Morgan Freeman as LeBron James reading his back-home essay is hilarious. Click HERE if you haven't heard it, or to enjoy it again. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Welcome back football/Dolphins expectations poll, college football betting odds, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

1aa1ajoepPhilbin on hot seat: I write in my latest column that Dolphins coach Joe Philbin must get Dolphins into playoffs this season or see his job in peril. Click Impatience = Imperative to read. For other recent columns click A Distraction to Embrace (Michael Sam) and Opportunity and Responsibility (Football Town).

Dolphins, NFL victory over/unders: New from Bovada, latest NFL over/unders on wins show Dolphins at 7.5, not a playoff number but still second in AFC East after Patriots (11) but ahead of Jets (7) and Bills (6.5). Joining Pats in double-digit club: Broncos at 11.5, Seahawks at 11, 49ers and Packers both 10.5, and Saints 10.

"Are you rooting for LeBron to win at least one championship with the Cavaliers?": ESPN SportsNation asked, and 63 percent overall say yes. The only state answering no: Oklahoma at 57%. The closest with only 52% yes: Florida and Illinois.

WHAT IS OUR FAITH IN RYAN TANNEHILL ENTERING HIS CRITICAL YEAR 3?: NFL quarterbacks are said to make their biggest advance entering Year 3, such as Ryan Tannehill is right now. That is only one of many 1aa1artannyfactors putting pressure on Tannehill to have a big season and end the Dolphins' playoff drought. Others include the team bolstering its offensive line with Brandon Albert and Ja'Wuan James, adding Jarvis Landry to an already solid receiving corps, beefing up the 1aa1alaurentground game with Knowshon Moreno and hiring a new offensive coordinator in Bill Lazor. All of these things remove the excuses that have protected Tannehill and put the onus on him to show us how good he can be. Click on Tannehill Under Pressure to read our column discussing all of this, off tghe opening of training camp. But enough of my opinion. I want yours. I know you wholeheartedly approve of hottie-wife Mrs. Lauren Tannehill, gratuitously pictured at left, but I'm asking here how you feel about her husband. We had this same poll question last year, and I'll find it interesting to compare results, gauge the level of faith in Tannehill, and see if it is trending upward or not. So take a dip in our poll. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Dolfan expectations modest to low: We asked in the previous blogpost if you expected -- not hoped, but expected -- the Dolphins to make the playoffs, and it was 38.7 percent yes for a breakthrough and 61.3% no for more disappointment. "No" votes were actually a bit higher (62.6%) in Florida, where a greater concentration of Dolfans might be assumed.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot Button 1aa1ahotbuttonis a newish feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package in the print edition (newspaper) is on hiatus until August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. Dolphins: The heat is on: Curiously, Ryan Tannehill said, "the pressure's off" as Miami opened training camp. Funny, but I would think that, for a QB and a head coach trying to establish themselves and a franchise seeking its first playoff win since 2000, the pressure might be closer to on.

2. Marlins: Signs of life: Erratic Fish surfed strong pitching to win six of past seven games entering today's game. Playoff contention is back on the horizon, although binoculars still are required.

3. Cooperstown: Big six: Baseball Hall of Fame inductions today include slugger Frank Thomas, aces Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and mega-managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre. And other than LaRusss'a blind eye to Mark McGwire, not a whiff of steroids!

4. UM football: Preparations begin: It is 35 days until the Canes' Sept. 1 season opener at Louisville. Do you know who your starting quarterback is? (Neither does Al Golden). UM has two players, RB Duke Johnson and LB Denzel Perryman, on preseason All-ACC team. That bad news? FSU has nine.

5. Soccer: Guinness on: The eight-team Guinness International Champions Cup is undereway with the title match Aug. 4 at Dolphins stadium. The World Cup just ended. Remind yourself you love soccer, right?

6. Tour de France: All Nibali: Italy's Vincenzo Nibali seemed a cinch to win cycling's signature event ending today in Paris, pending post-race urinalysis results. 

7. Heat: All quiet: Quiet, non-newsy week for the Heat. But they still make our top 10 because I don't want them to think that, post-LeBron, we stopped caring.

8. Outdoors: Lobster time: South Florida's annual two-day lobster miniseason is Wednesday and Thursday. You can fight the crowds and fish your own spiny delights out of the sea. Or you can quit being so cheap and go to Publix like me.

9. British Open: All Rory: Rory McIlroy won golf's latest major wire-to-wire. That reminds me. Whatever happened to Tiger Woods? Does he still play?

10. Panthers: Big Cubano: Cats have a new backup goaltender, Al Montoya, nicknamed "Big Cubano." I'd call that pandering or smart PR if I thought there was such thing as Cuban hockey fans.

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February 10, 2014

Put Tannehill on "short leash"? Poll. Vote!; plus topless Olympian, Michael Sam, Beatles, LeBron dunk show, Puig's dogs, Dumb Starbucks & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today for my landmark 11th national appearance. It's 3-7 on 790 & 104.3 the Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN National. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11. LeBron James says he'd win the All-Star dunk contest if he entered. Well, no duh. Click LeBron Dunk Show for proof; this was after yesterday's Heat practice in Phoenix. 2) Bruce Springsteen playing Sunrise arena on April 29. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Olympics poll, Dolphins draft, Canes QB's actress mom, Marlins projection & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

The Michael Sam column: Click HERE for today's latest column by me, on Michael Sam, the Missouri All-American defensive lineman who revealed his homosexuality and thus is likely to become the NFL's first openly gay player.

ON RYAN TANNEHILL'S (SUPPOSEDLY) SHAKY GROUND: We find ourselves in a time when the vessel for major news being broken might be a 140-character Tweet, perhaps from someone little-known. Even the definition of "news" evolves as competing outlets fight to be first first, and accurate second. Increasingly the sources for "news" are anonymous, a troubling, credibility-corrupting trend. I see it everywhere, including in my own newspaper. It is in this context that I read a recent online column by 1aa1atannphilCBSSports' NFL writer Jason La Canfora. It was an overview of the tough challenges awaiting new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey, but buried within was a nugget implying that coach Joe Philbin's patience with QB Ryan Tannehill might be fragile. The ever-popular Anonymous Source said that Philbin told potential GM candidates as much in recent interviews. The suggestion is that if Tannehill falters, there might be little hesitation in a move to backup Matt Moore. This is was rather vague speculation standing on the balsa-wood legs of anonymity, yet, of course, it was regurgitated as news, as with this ensuing headline on Report: Tannehill on shorter leash in 2014. Yes, so now it becomes an "issue," real or not. It becomes a question for Tannehill and Philbin to deal with as the season approaches. Two thoughts. First, if this is true, and I don't assume it is, Philbin was unwise to undermine his starting quarterback to job-seekers from other teams. That's needlessly creating controversy. Second, true or not, coming into this season as all but a declared lame-duck coach puts Philbin in a tough spot. It'll be playoffs-or-bust for him to keep his job (a perception/assumption hardening to fact) and that could lead Philbin to make decisions that are short-sighted, with his own derriere in mind, more than with the club's best long-term interests in mind. There would be no greater example than at QB, where benching Tannehill for Moore might seem smart to win a particular game but might not be smart if you understand that Tannehill, not Moore, is the better long-term solution. For me, Tannehill showed enough progress in Year 2 to not enter Year 3 feeling any "short leash" tightening around his neck. Your thoughts are invited. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

 I'm sorry but I love a topless-Olympian scandal. Always have. Topless photos of Lebanese skier Jackie Chamoun have turned up (see right), which does qualify as a scandal in conservative Lebanon. An investigation has ensued!

ME AND THE BEATLES: Yes, I was alive when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago. I was too young to recall watching, although I've seen the video so many times I think it has
1aa1abeatlewigtransmogrified over time into an adopted memory. Soon after that I'd cajoled my folks into buying me a Beatles wig (pictured) and Beatles boots, both the rage back then. The first singles (45s) I remember buying were the Beatles' "She Loves You," along with "Mr. Tambourine Man" (Byrds), "Dance Dance Dance" (Beach Boys) and "The Locomotion" (Little Eva). The Beatles, Rolling Stones and early Motown populated my early life's soundtrack, but it was the hysteria surrounding the Beatles coming to America that first caught my fascination. I have a vague memory of my mother listening to Elvis Presley music in our house, but it just never hit me the way the Beatles' sound did. I'll always credit the Fab Four for igniting in me what would become a lifelong passion for music. Now I ask you: For those who also love music, who was the artist or group that first caught your ear in a meaningful way, and why? Do you remember the first 45, LP, 8-track, cassette or CD you ever bought?

Poll result: Summer Olympics kick Winter's a--: We asked in the last blogpost how you feel about the Olympics (you may still vote), and you preferred the Summer over the Winter by an almost 6-1 margin, 37.9 percent to 6.4%. Another 30.8% said they liked both, and 24.9% said they don't follow either.

Like many professional athletes young Dodgers star Yasiel Puig lives in the Miami area. He just bought a home in upscale Gables by the Sea, where he is seen walking his two bulldogs and posing with three Columbus High ballplayers. The young athletes obviously were very excited for the opportunity to be photographed standing next to such handsome dogs.

1aa1adumbstar"HEY LET'S GO GET A CARAMEL FLAN LATTE AT DUMB STARBUCKS":  Dig this because the Starbucks lawyers will make sure it doesn't last. There is a newly opened coffee shop in Los Feliz, Cal., outside L.A., called Dumb Starbucks, a self-described "work of parody art" that uses the Starbucks logo. At least until the restraining order kicks in. Every menu item includes the word, as in Dumb Caramel Flan Latte. As a man of the people -- a Dunkin Donuts guy who finds that Starbucks is a bit high-brow and (in the words of Peter Griffin) "insists upon itself" -- I find this parody to be rather brilliant, if undoubtedly short-lived.

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December 19, 2013

Dolphins/NFL Week 16 predictions; plus Heat states its case, Duck Dynasty fracas, 'Free the Nipple' movement & more

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21. Bowl glut begins! Today are the first four of 35 bowl games, and it'd take a court order to make me watch any of them. 2) To the e-mailers asking: I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 3)  In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Shame and opportunity in Sochi Olympics, first Mock Draft, Google search stats, Dolphins' playoff chances, George Zimmerman's art, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Dolphins' Christmas greeting: Click HERE for the official Dolphins' Happy Holidays video. In case you weren't sure who the team considers its biggest stars, the players greeting you are (in order) Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Cam Wake and Ryan Tannehill.

UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 16 NFL PREDIX: WITH DIFFICULTY, DOLPHINS KEEP ROLLING: Dolphins at Buffalo in December with Miami playoff hopes in play. Like Ringo said, you know it don't come easy. 1aa1fripixTwo things worry me. One, the Bills' NFL-leading sackers as much as the elements making it tough on Ryan Tannehill. Two, just this gut feeling that after three straight emotional wins -- vs. the hated Jets, in snowy Pittsburgh, then over the nemesis Pats -- the Dolphins are due a letdown/stumble/return-to-Earth performance. Still like Miami, 23-20, but that's logic talking me out of that gut feeling of an upset. Click on Week 16 Gems for all of our complete prediction capsules, and on Holiday Cheer for my Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with a rose-colored take on why Miami, once in the playoffs, can beat anybody.

1aa1dwadedrivingHEAT SAY HOLD ON YOUNG PACERS, NOT YET, SON: Click HERE for my column from Wednesday night's 97-94 Heat win over the visiting Pacers. In the NBA the challengers, the wanna-be's, seek to make statements in December. The champions make theirs in June. But fans and Your Friend the Media love the concept of "statement games," and so contained in last night's win was the reminder Miami will not cede the East easily, or quietly. The fight for the best record and No. 1 seed is on. Bring it. The inevitable Miami-Indiana Eastern finals will be brutally delicious. And there was this, too, arising from the bayside arena last night: If that Dwyane Wade, healthy and soaring to a season-high 32 points, is the one we see in the playoffs, the Heat can three-peat. Wade is shown driving last night in a shot by staff photog Hector Gabino. That is the Dwyane Wade who drew LeBron James here in the first place, and who might convince him to re-up.

DUCK DYNASTY: PHENOMENON AND FRACAS: [Update: The Duck Dynasty family has produced the T-shirt pictured left to support their suspended brethren. Comeback for the word "Yuppie" is offically launched!] The phenomenon: A ratings-gold A&E reality show about a long-bearded Louisiana family that got rich making duck callers for hunters. Like the pet rock or 1aa1ddphilthat Gangnam Style 1aa1philshirtsinger, Duck Dynasty is one of those things that flare brightly and briefly across the American landscape, loved, then forgotten. It's the Warhol "15 Minutes of Fame" idea. And the clock is now ticking on Duck Dynasty because of ... The Fracas: Family patriarch Phil Robertson (pictured) ranting anti-gay in a GQ interview, calling homosexuality immoral and likening it to bestiality. A&E has now suspended Phil indefinitely; click HERE for the story. Meanwhile Phil met the predictable backlash by explaining he's an old hippie who got over drugs by embracing God, and that the Bible says man should be with woman. OK, whatever. That's in no way an apology, but it's a free country with free speech. The man is entitled to his beliefs. The thing is, folks like Phil always seem surprised by the consequences of those beliefs, surprised to learn that most Americans are intolerant of intolerance, and that using ancient Scriptures to justify modern-day bigotry doesn't fly with the grace of, say, a duck.

ON THE 'FREE THE NIPPLE' MOVEMENT: Yes, there is such a thing, and it went from obscure to talked-about when Miley Cyrus recently Tweeted in support of it. Talk about advertising! If your cause is 1aa1freeniptoplessness and Miley supports you, that's like owning a restaurant and having Bobby Flay rave about it. Gold! Anyway, Free the Nipple is the name of a documovie in the making (scene from shooting pictured left) by L.A. filmmaker and political activist Lina Esco, 28. It posits that women should be allowed to be topless whenever and wherever they wish as an equality issue, because men can, and because society should be concerned with violence, not nipples. I can already hear a national chorus of Red-Blooded Males shouting "WHOOO!" in lusty support of the movement. I would add two thoughts: First, being real here, there are legions of perverts and would-be rapists whose addled minds surely would take widespread female toplessness as an invitation for their creepdom. Second, rather than toplessness being OK for either 1aa1fatsex, I'd just as soon it be banned for both. That way the hairy-chested, morbidly obese man who jogs shirtless through my neighborhood would be made to throw on a tent shirt. I cannot honestly say that seeing a woman I don't know topless would outweigh the delight in not seeing the man pictured at right in all his shirtless glory. Nipples of either gender are not obscene, no. But neither is modesty a dirty word.

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December 17, 2013

Sochi Olympics: Shame and opportunity; plus Heat, Dolphins star in 2013 Google searches; '14 Mock Draft, Fins' playoff shot, Zimmerman art & more

It's Radio Wednesday!: They haven't fired me yet,  so I'm back in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today from 3 to 7 p.m. on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN national radio.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18. Click on Random Evidence for the latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat-Pacers II. 2) To the several e-mailers who are asking: I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 3)  In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Patriots, DSM poll, Incognito news & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

LeBron questionable for Pacers game Wednesday: James missed yesterday's light Heat practice with a sore ankle and is questionable for the game vs. Indiana here tonight.

Dolphins will clinch a playoff spot this coming Sunday if...: ...Miami wins at Buffalo, Baltimore loses to New England, and Cincinnati loses to Minnesota. All three must happen.

SOCHI OLYMPICS: THE SHAME AND OPPORTUNITY: [Update: U.S. Olympic delegation at Opening and Closing ceremonies will include gay athletes, Billie Jean King among them]. The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are less than two months away. By degrees the world's sporting eyes will turn there, and what will be seen won't be all

1aa1sochi 1aa1sochi1pleasant, despite the Russian government's wishes and attempts at propaganda. Click HERE for a story about the Sochi governent's recent crackdown and harrassment of local activists protesting the Olympics' negative impact on the environment. The group Human Rights Watch has become involved to condemn the actions and accuse the government of treating activists like terrorists. Of course, the broader spotlight the Olympics will shine on Russia will help expose the country's human rights violations when it comes to gays. Pictured: The official Sochi Games logo, and a protest poster. Vladimir Putin sign into law a ban on "homosexual propaganda," seen as an umbrella law tantamount to criminalizing gays. Elton John, performing in Moscow this month despite protests, dedicated his concert to a young Russian who had been murdered because he was gay, and John spoke out from the stage against the law, calling it "inhumane." President Obama does not plan to attend the Olympics; the presidents of Germany and France already have said they will not. Soon Olympic athletes can make a statement of their own, one more literal. An Olympic torch of sorts will be handed to them. Skier Bode Miller already has called Russia's anti-gay law "absolutely embarrassing." Olympic athletes from here will have a unique worldwide platform, voice and opportunity to speak up for human rights. Perhaps it is generally impolite to criticize one's hosts, but if there is an exception to that, a Winter Olympics in Russia may be it.

THE FIRST 2014 MOCK DRAFT!: It begins. ESPN's Todd McShay beats the crowd with his 1.0 Mock today, and it has UM bowl foe Teddy Bridgewater, the Louisville QB, going No. 1 overall. Also notable: UCF's Blake Bortles No. 3, Johnny Manziel No. 4, Florida D-lineman Dominique Easley 21st, FSU defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan 22nd -- the the Dolphins -- FSU receiver Kelvin Benjamin 27th and Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson 29th. No Canes pegged 1R. As for the Dolphins top-picking a defensive tackle? Doubt it. A lot.

HEAT TITLE, DOLPHINS' BULLYGATE DRIVE 2013 SEARCHES: Google released its annual info on 2013 searches, with some interesting stuff from a Miami vantage. No surprise that LeBron James was the most-searched NBA player or that the double-champion Heat were the most-search NBA team. But the usually under-the-radar Dolphins are the third-most-searched NFL team, with Bullygate the obvious impetus. You want further proof? Richie Incognito turns up No. 7 among overall top athlete searches. Top searches by category:

1aa1ahernTop overall athlete searches: 1. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots accused murderer (pictured); 2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings; 3. Kevin Ware, Louisville guard who broke leg in NCAA Tournament ; 4. Jason Collins, NBA player who came out as gay; 5. Oscar Pistorius, "Blade Runner" charged with murder; 6. Lamar Odom, Kardashian-involved basketball player; 7. Incognito, Dolphins' accused bully; 8. Ray Lewis, Ravens champion; 9. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers; and 10. Lindsey Vonn, skiier and Tiger Woods' squeeze.

Top NFL searches: Players--Lewis, Peterson, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Kaepernick. Team--Ravens, Seahawks, Dolphins, 49ers, Falcons. Top NBA searches: Players--LeBron, Jeremy Lin, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard. Teams--Heat, Pelicans, Warriors, Spurs, Rockets. Top MLB searches: Players--Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Bryce Harper, Yasiel Puig, Derek Jeter. Teams--Red Sox, Pirates, Braves, Indians, Rays.     

DOLPHINS' PLAYOFFS CHANCES PUT AT 56 PERCENT, BUT...: That's the good news. computers say Miami has a 56.39 percent likelihood to make the playoffs. The bad news? That still ranks seventh in the jockeying for six AFC spots. Colts, Broncos and Chiefs already have clinched, then it's Patriots 98.46%, Bengals 79.78, Ravens 63.21 -- after last night's win -- then Dolphins. Miami clinches by winning its last two games, but that eventually hardly is a slam dunk.

1aa1artzimGEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ARTIST: Multi-talented George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin to death, has an original painting (pictured) for sale on eBay, and it mortifies and saddens me to say the bidding is around $100,000.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 15: STAYING HOT ON PICKS, TOO LITTLE TOO LATE IN FANTASY: Cut to 1aa1fripixthe chase... NFL predix: I went 10-6 overall this past week and a buoyant 9-6-1 against the spread (with one game off the board when I picked it). Nailed the Dolphins' upset win. Also bull's-eyed my Upset of the Week with Steelers over Bengals. "Aaawwwk!" Fantasy: Greg's Lobos won big in our consolation-round playoffs, 157-81, fueled by Dez Bryant and the Seahawks defense. That 157 was more than anybody in our championship round scored. Which is what losers say, I know.

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May 04, 2013

Who's the idiot? LeBron 1 vote shy of unanimous for MVP; plus new NBA playoff odds, Dolphins' big loss, Tyson Clabo, Sad-O-Meter retired & more

1aa1cinco1) It is SUNDAY, MAY 5. Happy Cinco de Mayo! 2) NCAA refuses to dismiss UM case in advance of June hearing. "No duh," says rest of America. 3) Click on Random Evidence for today's Sunday notes column, leading with Heat playoffs. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The building and branding of Dion Jordan, Bulls-or-Nets Heat poll, Susannah Collins, Tim Tebow prank. 5Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

LEBRON MVP VOTE: NEW PROOF THAT 1 OF EVERY 121 PEOPLE IS A MORON: Heat's LeBron James got 120 of 121 frst-place votes for league MVP today, denying him the first unanimous vote in NBA history even though he was deserving. A funny Internet rumor spread that my colleague Dan Le Batard cast the lone vote for Carmelo Anthony. It wasn't true. That didn't stop it. "Probably a writer out fo New York," surmised LeBron, likely more accurately. LeBatard, sensing Twitter gold, didn't deny the initial speculation, merely re-Tweeted it. Deadspin said it was so. One of life's small pleasures is watching self-important Deadspin say, "Ah, um, uhh, oops. My bad!" Anyway, the mystery lunatic-voter is still out there. Oh he WILL be found!

HEAT-BULLS ON DECK; NBA NEXT-ROUND PLAYOFF ODDS: Second-round pairings and betting odds via Bovada, by conference, entering second-round play: Eastern: Miami over Chicago: Heat a prohibitive overall favorite at 2-11 to win East, 4-9 to repeat league title. Bulls are 40-1 to win East, 75-1 overall. There are no early indications Derrick Rose will play vs. Miami, but the fact he might will be an intriguing cloud hanging over this series. New York over Indiana: Knicks are 6-1 to win East and 14-1 to win league. Pacers are 12-1 and 25-1. Western: San Antonio over Golden State: Spurs are a big 5-7 pick to win West and 11-2 to win it all. Warriors are 9-1 in conference, 40-1 in league. Oklahoma City over Memphis: Thunder is 3-1 in West, 9-1 in league. Grizzlies are 5-1 to win West, 14-1 to win it all.

A WORD TO ROSS AND TO NFL IN WAKE OF DOLPHINS' LEGISLATIVE DEFEAT: Although it sounds as if Florida House speaker Will Weatherford (the smug-looking guy on the far right) may have done a bit of backstabbing up there in Tally, I can't get as worked up or disappointed as I'm sure Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is over the sudden collapse of his plan for 1aa1willw 1aa1dolrossmassive stadium renovations. That's partly because the plan faced a likely defeat in a Miami-Dade referendum vote even if the Legislature had let it get that far. A quick word to Ross (near right), and to the NFL. To Ross: Understand that most Dolphins fans think the stadium is fine as is (and it is), and are hugely more concerned about the Dolphins getting in the Super Bowl than they are about the stadium hosting Super Bowls. As long as your emphasis is on a winning team, you'll be fine with Dolfans even if there is no canopy to shade them. To the NFL: Threatening to withhhold future Super Bowls if this renovation didn't pass sounded a bit like extortion to folks down here, and that didn't play well. Miami -- even with Dolphins stadium as is -- should continue as a main-rotation factor in the awarding of Super Bowls. This is a destination city. That won't change. Also, a league that just awarded an outdoor Super Bowl to New Jersey -- where snow is very possible and freezing temps all but assured -- ought not wring hands over the idea a Miami Super Bowl might face the threat of rain. If the NFL wants to do what's best for the league and for fans, it should swallow its pride over this legislative defeat and get back to realizing Miami was, and is, a Super Bowl-caliber host.

Dolphins sign Clabo: That's Tyson Clabo, the long-time ex-Falcons right tackle, 31, a one-time Pro Bowl guy (2010) who'll help the blocking front. Good signing.

1aa1howardORB TAKES KENTUCKY DERBY: Orb, third-to-last early, saves energy for a brilliant finish and comfy win. Smartly run race. Good to see the Florida Derby as the springboard here. Pictured: A familiar former FAU football coach, Mr. Howard Schnellenberger, takes in the race today with his properly be-hatted wife Beverlee. Original post: The 139th running is today to launch racing's Triple Crown season, and my rooting interest probably is the betting favorite, Orb. I always root for our Florida Derby winner to represent. I have a funny feeling, though, that 5-1 shot Goldencents may carry the day. It's Rick Pitino's year, and he's part-owner. I always put more stock in gut feelings and supersition in horse racing than in other types of betting. Is that weird? Doubt that'll change until the horses start talking.

1aa1chrgayDOES MEDIA HAVE PRO-GAY, ANTI-CHRISTIAN BIAS?: A reader passed this political cartoon along to me, and I found it thought-provoking enough to post in the blog. I don't know that Christian vs. gay is a parallel discussion. Christian vs. atheist or gay vs. straight would be parallel. I'd also point out that something very unusual is more newsworthy than something common, and so Tebow's religious beliefs are much more common than Collins' ground-breaking revelation. Nevertheless, the cartoon makes its point very well.

1aa1bbsadUPDATED: MARLINS "SAD-O-METER" IN HIBERNATION: We have had this new blog feature we updated as long as Marlins' winning percentage was under .300. The New York Mets' 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is widely regarded as the worst season in modern MLB history and Marlins had been on pace to threaten for awhile. But Miami is now at 10-22 (.313) after today's win, so our Sad-O-Meter is on indefinite hiatus.

Poll result: No contest. Bulls tougher next foe than Nets: We asked, and by an 84.8 percent landslide you said Chicago would be a tougher next playoff opponent for the Heat than Brooklyn. (They meet in Game 7 tonight in the Kings County borough for the right to face Miami).

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May 01, 2013

Good news on Heat's preference for next round; plus Dolphins' biggest need (with poll), Tebow rumor, Broussard, Sad-O-Meter, glowing sheep & more

1aa1king1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 2. Happy dos de Mayo! 2) Always been a big Snoop Dogg fan. Now here is the reincarnated, reggae-fied Snoop Lion: Here Comes The King. 3) Panthers not making the NHL postseason? Unfortunate. Me not having to feign interest in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Priceless! 4) Click on Weatherman Battles Hiccups on Air for funny vid. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA's gay player, Dolphins' SB odds, Ed DuBois, Sad-O-Meter. 5bJoin us on Twitter @agregcote.

Dolphins/Tebow rumor: How'd it start? I mean beyond ther usual Internet nonsense? Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on WQAM this week he "wouldn't be shocked" if Miami showed interest in free agent QB Tim Tebow. That's how. Drew was doing what good agents do: Trying to drum up business. Tying to create the illusion of smoke so there appears to be fire. Most who follow the team closely would be far more shocked than Rosenhaus if Miami showed any interest. Bet against it. Big.

HEAT (AND FANS) SHOULD HAVE CLEAR PREFERENCE IN BULLS-NETS SERIES: [Update: Nets beat Bulls tonight to tie series 3-3, with Game 7 in Brooklyn]. What opponent should Heat players and fans most want to face in the second round starting Monday in Miami? Players would never say it because to do so would build confidence in the team they'd least like to play or incentive in the one they'd prefer. (Also, the confident Heat "fears" no team; Miami instills fear in others). But there is no doubt the Heat matches up better with Brooklyn than 1aa1aheadChicago and should hope the Nets -- who tied the series tonight and now host Game 7 -- can win one more. Miami was 3-0 vs. Brooklyn this season by an average margin of 18 points, but only 2-2 vs. Chicago, which ended Miami's 27-game win streak. But it's more than that, and more than the possibility (however remote) that Bulls star Derrick Rose could make his lonnnnng-awaited return in the next round. It is that Chicago defends Miami's strength better than any team in the NBA. LeBron James driving and then kicking it out for an open corner-3 (Ray Allen's moneymaker) is a huge part of the Heat's game. Miami shot 44 corner 3's in swamping Milwaukee in the first round, or 11 per game. But Chicago's defense this season allowed an NBA-low 3.6 corner-3 attempts per game. statwonk Tom Haberstroh has more on this here. Defensively the Bulls were better than the Nets this season in most categories, but it is their denying the corner-3 that would most challenge the Heat. Also worth noting, Chicago outrebounded Miami by 36 (175-139) in the four season meetings, and limited the Heat to 30 percent on 3-point shots (21-for-70), versus Miami's 41% on 3's against everybody else. Don't get me wrong. Miami still would be a heavy favorite to beat the Bulls, and deservedly. But the challenge would be a stark contrast to the playoffs' "soft opening" in that sweep of the Bucks.

DOLPHINS' BIGGEST REMAINING HOLES, POST-DRAFT: Left tackle seems to be getting most of the current attention and tryout calls (which must make Jonathan Martin feel like crap), and I can 1aa1helpunderstand that. But for me there are other roster soft spots of some concern. They include cornerback, where starters Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall would hardly count among the NFL's best tandems; tight end, where Dustin Keller is a marginal upgrade over departed Anthony Fasano; and perhaps running back, where Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas leave Miami lacking proof. Also wonder if we might add linebacker, where Koa Misi and newcomers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler have much to prove in an overhauled unit. What do you think is the Dolphins' biggest remaining area of concern and why?

Poll note: One choice above is garnering roughly two-thirds of all the votes. There is a phrase in the business for something like that. The phrase is, "Lousy poll idea."

PETITION TO SUSPEND BROUSSARD CIRCULATING: ESPN basketball analyst Chris Broussard is under fire for calling out-of-the-closet NBA player Jason Collins a sinner and saying his homosexuality is an 1aa1fa"open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ." The faith-based group Faithful America (click for the petition) is collecting online signatures calling for ESPN to suspend Broussard for what the group's executive director Michael Sherrard called allowing Broussard to "mischaracterize our faith and use the teachings of Jesus as the basis for gay-bashing." Faithful America's slogan is, "Love thy neighbor. No Exceptions."

MARLINS "SAD-O-METER" LIVES ON: We have this new blog feature 1aa1bbsadwe're updating as long as the Marlins' winning percentage is under .300. The New York Mets' 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is widely regarded as the single worst season in modern MLB history and the Marlins had been on pace to threaten that ignominy. A recent three-game win streak almost tipped the Fish up over .300 to at least temporarily shut down our Sad-O-Meter, but tonight in Philly made it two losses in a row. So: MARLINS SAD-O-METER: Current record, 8-21 (.276). Updated season pace, 44.69 wins, 117.31 losses.

1aa1glowsheepSOUNDS LIKE A BAA-AAAD IDEA: Scientists in Uruguay have engineered a "genetically modified" sheep that glows in the dark. (And you became a scientist for what exactly!?) WWMT? [What Would (Ron) Magill Think?] Click here for the story. Remember. This is a blog. I couldn't say it if it weren't true.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...