April 05, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Flying Fish, Kentucky's loss, reeling Heat, 7 others; plus who'll win NCAA final? New poll. Vote now!; also Loria, Serena & more

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


1aa1aeaster1) It is SUNDAY, APRIL 5. Happy Easter, believers, and congratulations, Jesus! 2) Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Final Four, UM/NIT, Jordan tops poll, Heat/Panthers playoff chase, Josh Freeman, Cuban baseball, John Wolin & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Marlins' Jeffrey Loria: I visit with the team owner for my column in today's season-preview section. Many don't like Loria, but will a big-spending offseason help his image? Click on Judging Jeffrey to read.

Serena's dominance: Serena Williams is The Tennis Terminator. She proved it again yesterday at the Miami Open. Click on Queen Serena for my column on Williams and her place in tennis history.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Double doom! Heat drop off pace, Panthers eliminated. Update entering SundayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending down in 9th place at 34-42 (L3) after last night's 99-98 loss at Detroit, 1/2 game from 8th, 1 game ahead of 10th with 6 games left (next tonight at Indiana). Heat playoff likelihood: 60.5% (down 9.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending down (eliminated) in 10th place at 36-43 (L1) after last night's 4-0 loss vs. Tampa Bay, 8 points from 8th with 4 games left (next today vs. Montreal). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.0% (down 0.2) per sportsclubstats.com.

HOT BUTTON APR. 5: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Opening Day! High hopes as Fish debut Monday: Major League Baseball opens its season with Cardinals at Cubs tonight, but all other teams take the field Monday. Here is your pump-up music, South Florida: Only the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants have won more World Series since 1997 than the Marlins’ two.

2. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: It's Duke-Wisconsin for NCAA championship: Kentucky and Duke were five-point betting picks in Saturday’s Final Four semifinals but only one of them did their job. For the previously unbeaten Wildcats of John Calipari, that meant yesterday was one and done.

3. HEAT: Loss at Detroit knocks Miami off playoff pace: The blown-lead 99-98 loss at Detroit last night toppled Heat into ninth place in East with six games to play resuming tonight at Indiana. Miami has now lost three straight and six of past eight in a season that has proved to be exciting like hanging on to the edge of a cliff is exciting.

4. TENNIS: Serena wins, men on deck at Miami Open: Two weeks of tennis nirvana in Key Biscayne end with today's Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray men's final, after Serena Williams won Saturday's women's crown with such ease that we won't even mention her poor opponent's name.

5. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from NHL playoff contention: Last night's 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay officially eliminated Florida from race. Panthers may have been most improved team in league this season. Unfortunately, Lord Stanley doesn't believe that close counts.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes lose heartbreaker in NIT title game: The bad news? UM, with two starters out injured, lost to Stanford 66-64 in overtime in the final of the NIT. The good news? We avoid having to cringe with a condescending smile while listening to coach Jim Larrañaga claim straight-faced that his team just won a national championship.

7. GOLF: Masters on deck with Tiger in it: Rory McIlroy is the betting favorite at The Masters this week at Augusta, but as much attention was being paid to Tiger Woods on whether he would play. He will. But it speaks to the shaky state of his game -- battling health issues, and after a long layoff -- that even his fans sort of wished he hadn't.

8. NFL DRAFT: UM Pro Day showcases Canes: NFL scouts raved about the Hurricanes’ talent at UM’s annual Pro Day, notably Phillip Dorsett, who ran a 4.25 40. I don’t wanna says he’s fast, but when Dorsett flips off the light switch in his bedroom he’s under the covers before the room goes dark. Seems the Canes will have a sizable impact on the NFL Draft’s early rounds. That sound you hear is one more excuse for a 6-7 season running away from Al Golden. 

9. DOLPHINS: Fins sign quarterback Josh Freeman: That was after the team gained a court order to exhume the remains of Freeman's career and conduct an autopsy for signs of life.

10. HORSES: Show-jumping competition ends on Miami Beach: A major show-jumping competition concluded Saturday on the sands of Miami Beach. I don’t wanna say those horses are pampered, but an "equine psychotherapist" was on hand. Seriously. Am picturing a typical session. Sad horse sighs as it lays on couch. Psychotherapist: “Why the long face?”

Poll result: You want different, better NCAA Tournament format: This surprised me a bit. I'd have guessed you'd go for the status quo. Instead, 70.3 percent said they'd prefer a tournament with the 64 best teams and no automatic bids for small-conference winners. Only 29.7% preferred it as is.

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March 29, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Kentucky, Heat, Materiality, Canes, Cats, tennis, Fish, Fins, cricket & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, MARCH 29. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Random Evidence notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Saturday, Heat in good hands, NCAAs, Miami Open, Cats alive, Miami-izing of ESPN Radio & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine (with new stuff from yesterday's Florida Derby).

Florida Derby: A close, controversial finish, a record betting handle -- the 64th Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park had it all. But did it have a special winner in Materiality? A horse that can challenge the Triple Crown drought? Click on Materiality's Burden for my column from the track. 

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat steady, Cats lose. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 33-39 (L1), 2 1/2 games from 6th with 10 games left (next tonight vs. Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 69.2% (down 3.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending down in 10th place at 34-41 (L1) after last night's 4-3 OT loss at Montreal, 3 points from 9th and 4 points from 8th with 7 games left (next tonight at Ottawa). Cats playoff likelihood: 3.6% (down 0.8) per sportsclubstats.com.

HOT BUTTON MAR. 29: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Kentucky escapes as Elite Eight moves toward Final Four: No. 1 overall NCAA Tournament seed Kentucky survived Notre Dame last night (barely) and Wisconsin also advanced to Final Four. Now Louisville-Michigan State and Duke-Gonzaga take stage tonight. Irish didn't prove Kentucky can be beaten because close doesn't count. Quoting John Calipari, "We're unbeaten, not perfect."

2. HEAT: Team returns home as playoffs draw near: Miami, hosting Detroit this evening, seems a likely No. 7 playoff with 10 games left, which would mean facing LeBron James in first round. Meantime an ESPN panel ranked Heat second in NBA ownership, third in front office and sixth in coaching. San Antonio swept all three categories. Evidently that ESPN panel consisted entirely of Spurs fans.

3. HORSE RACING: Materiality wins Florida Derby: Huge crowd and a record betting handle festooned Saturday's 64th Florida Derby at Gulfstream, won by Materiality. This is when we begin to wonder if Materiality, starting May 2 in Kentucky Derby, can end the Triple Crown drought (and think sadly to ourselves, "Nah.") 

4. HURRICANES BASKETBALL: UM in NIT semifinals Tuesday: Miami faces Temple Tuesday night in an NIT semifinal, so at least Canes are making most out of missing the NCAAs. Game is at Madison Square Garden, which of course is nicknamed, "The World's Most Famous Arena Despite the Knicks."

5. PANTHERS: Next two games to define playoff hopes: Panthers, minus injured top scorer Nick Bjugstad, play tonight at Ottawa and Tuesday here vs. Boston -- the two teams Cats are chasing for final NHL playoff spot. Win both, and Cats have a shot. Lose either, and probably not. Playoff pressure doesn't always wait for the playoffs.

6. TENNIS: Miami Open at midpoint: Tennis’ "fifth major' runs through next weekend. The unexpected early ouster of No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova has been tournament’s biggest headline so far. Sharapova normally loses in the semifinals or final to career nemesis Serena Williams but apparently wanted to beat the rush this year and fast-track her inevitable elimination.

7. MARLINS: Cosart investigated for gambling: As Marlins wind down spring training with the season eight days away, pitcher Jarred Cosart is being investigated by MLB for gambling. Here's another gamble: Miami, despite high hopes, making the playoffs. 

8. UM FOOTBALL: Defense dominates Spring Game: Defense had four interceptions to lead UM's annual Spring Game but anybody saying "uh oh" about Brad Kaaya as result is a lunatic. Little in all of sports is a more pointless waste of money than college football teams practicing in March. Seriously.  

9. DOLPHINS: Free-agency season segues to pre-draft talk: Coach Joe Philbin this week said he hopes the team's transition to a new receiving corps "won't be too painful." Man that guy really knows how to rally the troops doesn't he!?:

10. CRICKET: Aussies win Cricket World Cup: One word. Crikey!

MADNESS: KENTUCKY SURVIVES; SIX GOES TO FOUR TONIGHT: No, I don't regret the previous headline, "Can we please stop pretending anybody can beat Kentucky?" Notre Dame almost did, last night, but when last I checked (sorry, Irish) almost didn't count. Both higher seeds (Wisconsin, too) won last night in the Elite Eight, so the March Madness Upset-o-Meter is now at 19.0 percent, with 11 upsets (based on seeds) in 58 games thus far. Tonight as we reach the Final Four, 1-Duke is a narrow favorite over 2-Gonzaga, but 7-Michigan State is a slight betting pick over 4-Louisville for the seed upset.

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November 04, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.4%; plus Fins rout Chargers 37-0 behind Tannehill and D, my Philbin column; also Canes record, Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Dolphins. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whomp North Carolina, CSM poll, FIU falls, Gators stun Georgia & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

CSM sets season high: Voting in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll wrapped this morning at 92.2 percent, a season high. Find complete results in the blogpost directly below this.

My Philbin column: Getting a huge email response to my column off the game on coach Joe Philbin celebrating his biggest Dolphins win while mouring the death of his father. It seems to have touched many readers who aren't even sports fans. Click on Heartache and Joy to read it. (Find our Dolphins-Chargers gamepost and postgame thoughts immediately below the latest DSM poll).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 97.4 percent overall satisfaction -- a season high -- in the wake of Sunday's 37-0 victory over visiting San Diego putting Miami's season record at 5-3. 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 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)

Next poll: Nov. 9 (following game at Detroit)

G8: SAN DIEGO @ DOLPHINS: A PLAYOFF TEAM DECLARES ITSELF HERE: Final: Miami's first defensive shutout since 2006. Ryan Tannehill's career-best 125.6 passer rating. A dominating home triumph over a quality opponent has Miami 5-3 at midseason and very much thinking playoffs. Impressive. The best all-round, end-to-end victory in the three-year Joe Philbin/Tannehill era. Happy for Philbin, personally, with the win coming just two days after he tended to the death of his father, Paul, who passed away at 93. ..... Fourth quarter: Starting QBs Tannehill and Rivers both out of game, it's so lopsided. ..... Third quarter: It's 37-0. Jarvis Landry 14-yard TD is Tannehill's third scoring throw of game. TD set up by fumble-causing sack by Olivier Vernon that Jared Odrick recovered, Miami's fourth defensive takeaway. ... Grimes with his second pick. Dolphins D is making this a nightmare for Rivers. ... MIA 30-0 after 23-yard FG set up by Grimes pick. Should have been more. Clay and Wallace both dropped TD passes inside the 10. ... Brent Grimes intercepts Rivers, returns to SD 19. ... Miami sails to 27-0 lead on Tannehill's 21-yard TD pass to Rishard Matthews. What an a-- kicking! ..... Halftime: Tannehill is 18-for-25, 208 yards and a TD at the break, and Miami's defense has limited the Chargers to 118 total yards. A dominating half by Miami. Did not expect to be saying that. Good Fins, Good Tanny are in the house so far. ..... Second quarter: MIA 20-0 inside of 2 minutes. Fins ride 38-yard Wallace catch to 1st and goal but settle for 25-yard FG. ... Reshad Jones intercepts Philip Rivers, returns 16 yards to Bolts 31. A 26-yard FG and 17-0 lead is result. ... Lamar Miller 2-yard TD run has MIA up 14-0 early in second Q. ..... First quarter: Strong start for Dolphins. ... MIA up 7-0 on 77-yard opening drive capped by Charles Clay 6-yard TD pass from Ryan Tannehill. Tanny 6-for-6 on drive. ... Bolts unwisely eschew 39-yard FG attempt, go for it on 4th and 1 from MIA 22 and are stopped on Reshad Jones tackle. ..... Pregame: Kickoff temp 69 degrees with crazy-low 29% humidity. Hope game is as good as this perfect weather. ... I'm second-guessing today's pick (Chargers 24-20) a little bit. Usually don't do that. ..... Original post: San Diego is 5-3. Miami is 4-3 at it reaches midseason today. Today's 1 p.m. kickoff feels like a pivotal game that will see the winner looking like a playoff-team and the loser seeming like something else. The Dolphins have won two games 1aa1adolsdin a row and are one last-second play (vs. Packers) from carrying four consecutive W’s into Sunday’s matinee. Oppositely, two consecutive losses have sort of knocked the bloom off Philip Rivers (erstwhile MVP candidate) and San Diego (erstwhile NFL “it” team). I’m still a bit surprised the Dolphins are favored here, albeit slightly, by 1 1/2 points. The Chargers defense is as good as Miami’s — actually 18.6 points allowed to Fins’ 21.6 — and Rivers is more reliable than Ryan Tannehill, who for some reason has tended to struggle more at home than away this season. Dolphins’ O was really bad in Jacksonville last week, leaving Mike Wallace to complain, “We’re not going to get nowhere like that.” (Tweet! Throw a grammar flag. That’s a double negative!) I just see Bolts as a little less erratic and a little better all-round. Aside to Dolphins defense: Diego TE Antonio Gates is reborn and having a monster year. Cover him, won’t you? Historical note: Fins have won seven consecutive games in this occasional series, with SD’s last win in Miami the famous 41-38 overtime playoff game on Jan.2, 1982. So add the law of averages embodied in the weight of 32 years to the reasons my gut is telling me the visitors' return flight will be happier than the home team’s postgame locker room. My pick: Chargers, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON NOV. 2: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, an expanded, updated Hot Button Top 10. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Miami hosts Chargers seeking third straight wins: Dan Marino was still a Pitt Panther and Chargers' QB was Dan Fouts when San Diego last won in Miami — that famous 41-38 overtime game Jan.2, 1982. Bolts have since lost seven in a row here. Dolfans who believe in trends are happy. Those who believe in law of averages are nervous.

2. Hurricanes: UM, Duke of Gables stay hot in rout of UNC: Canes beat ACC rival North Carolina 47-20 here in a Saturday homecoming game that saw Duke Johnson pile up 226 offensive yards and score three TDs. Team had ceremony honoring former UM quarterback great Jim Kelly. It was "Kelly Tough," then it was "Duke Great."

3. Heat: Strong start to post-LeBron era for Miami: Heat are 2-0 entering this evening's home game vs. Toronto, and Chris Bosh has 56 points. Oh, and Cleveland fans were disappointed after an opening loss in which LeBron James shot only 5 for 15 and had eight turnovers. "Pinch me," said Miami fans. "I must be dreaming!"

4. College football: First playoff rankings already due a shakeup: The first College Football Playoff rankings had Mississippi State, FSU, Auburn and Ole Miss as the top four, but Ole Miss' Saturday loss will change that. I trust the CFP committee featuring Condoleezza Rice. I just hope her intel on football is better than her intel was in ’03 on those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

5. Baseball: Giants deny Cinderella Royals: No offense, Madison Bumgarner, but I think San Francisco’s third title in five years was something only a Giants fan could love. It answered the question, "Is it possible for a World Series to go to a Game 7 that ends 3-2 with the tying run on third and still think that World Series was boring?"

6. Gators: Florida stuns No. 11 Georgia: UF fans were left toasting the World's Largest Cocktail Party with a 38-20 win that may have saved Will Muschamp's job. New QB Treon Harris did great, expertly handing off as Gators topped 400 yards rushing.

7. Panthers: Cats finding their claws after slow start: Florida has shaken off an 0-3 start to win four of past six hockey games including last night over Flyers. Grading on a curve, that's a hot streak.

8. Horse racing: Bayern wins controversial Breeders' Cup: It was a rough start and a photo finish in the only horse race outside of the Triple Crown that most of us pay any attention to.

9. NASCAR: Only two races left before Homestead: Can't wait for the big Nov. 16 finale at Homestead. Looking forward to an exciting day of bitter feuds, intentional wrecks, pit-row shoving, and, time permitting, an auto race.

10. Politics: Florida elects governor Tuesday: Hey, we sports fans are interested in more than sports, right? We're also intrested in electing a great next governor. Unfortunately, our choice is Rick Scott or Charlie Crist.

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June 08, 2014

Finals G2: Heat 98, San Antonio 96: Miami evens series behind LeBron's 35!; plus Heat playoff MVP table (updated), raw vs. dumb honesty & more

1) It is SUNDAY, JUNE 8. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with (what else) Heat and NBA Finals. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Saturday Heat notes and 3-pack from San Antonio, California Chrome falls short, Crampgate poll result and more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

My World Cup preview: I columnize in today's Miami Herald World Cup preview section on how the U.S. standing in international soccer adds intrigue to the quadrennial event. America is seldom seen as the underdog in anything. Except this. Click on Us Against The World for the column. (Also, below find item on U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann).

FINALS G2: HEAT 98, SAN ANTONIO 96: LEBRON ANSWERS HIS HATERS WITH 35: LeBron James' 35 points carried Miami tonight in the two-point win that evens the Finals 1-1. Most impressively he did it all ways in hitting 14 of 22 shots including three 3's. He pounded the paint with force, he hit oustide jumpers, he had 10 rebounds -- all of it three days after debilitating cramping erased him late from Game 1 and drew a barrage of mocking on Twitter and elsewhere. Call tonight his response. He had help, though. Chris Bosh had 18 and Dwyane Wade 14, and Rashard Lewis also added 14. Miami also was much better defensively, with the Spurs shooting only 44 percent after hitting 59% in Game 1. Now the Finals haed to Miami for Games 3 and 4 starting Tuesday. The three-peat dream wouldn't have died with a loss and a 2-0, but it felt like Sunday brought it back to life just the same. Click on The King Reigns for my column from San Antonio off tonight's Miami win. ..... Original post: Some final thoughts on Crampgate before we look ahead to tonight. The consensus seems to be that no, the Spurs did not "arrange" for the air-conditioning failure that caused the hot/humid arena that led to LeBron James' 1aa1aheatspursfinalscramping that played a part in the Heat's Game 1 loss. But the consensus is that the Spurs were alerted ahead of time, well before Miami, to better prepare for the conditions. And that the Spurs lockerroom had cooling fans while Miami's did not. If all of this is true, the NBA should fine and publicly admonish the host franchise. OK, moving on. Tonight's Game 2 should find Miami motivated both by how Game 1 ended, and by the LeBron-bashing on social media that followed. But the 1aa1aheatspursg2biggest motivation should be desperation. What a difference in outlook and prospects between leveling this series or heading back to Miami in a 2-0 hole. Miami is on a 12-0 run responding to a loss in the postseason, and that streak confronts its toughest test tonight. The air-conditioning will be back, we are assured, but LeBron being 100 percent is less knowable. Will his minutes be limited? Might the cramping recur? We'll see. Meantime the Heat must do better in other areas, such as defend in a way that San Antonio doesn't shoot close to 60 percent (58.8) again, and allow a Tim Duncan-led layup parade again. Miami, after losing the Finals opener 110-95, must find a way to hold the Spurs under 100 points. I'd expect to see doses of Udonis Haslem (who didn't play at all Thursday) as Miami strives to defend the paint better and narrow S.A.'s rebounding edge. All eyes will be on LeBron's post-cramps health, but the key will be much better defense.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. LeBron James, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. Rashard Lewis. The updated standings through 17 playoff games, including tonight's Finals Game 2: LeBron James 40 points, Dwyane Wade 24, Chris Bosh 19, Ray Allen 8, Rashard Lewis 4, Chris Andersen 3, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

NBA commissioner on A.C. snafu: New commissioner Adam Silver, addressing the national media prior to Game 2 tonight, clearly was embarrassed by Thursday's air-conditioning outage in San Antonio. "I'm glad this isn't single-elimination," he said. And: "Certainly not one of my prouder moments." And: "In hindsight it wasn't handled perfectly." Silver said the NBA office was informed about the problem shortly after the game began, and was told just before halftime the issue could not be resolved that night.

RAW HONESTY: CALIFORNIA CHROME'S OWNER: It is so rare in sports and thus always refreshing when we see a reaction that is instant, visceral and raw. We got that yesterday from California Chrome's 

1aa1acoburnowner, Steve Coburn, after his horse had been denied the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes by a horse named Tonality. Coburn, pictured, railed against the format that allows a horse like Tonality to not run in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and then swoop in fresh against horses that run all three races. Coburn called that "the coward's way out." His reaction struck many as classless or sour grapes. He had a larger point that was valid: It would be a more level playing field if only horses that raced in the K-Derby could run in the next two races and be TC-eligible. But that probably was not the time or place for Coburn to rail against the rules.

DUMB HONESTY: JURGEN KLINSMANN: Team USA's World Cup coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, said in a New York Times profile, "We cannot win this World Cup because we are not at that level yet. Realistically, it 1aa1aklinsmannis not possible." He may be right. It still was an outrageously dumb, ill-timed thing to say publicly. The U.S. Soccer Federation should be furious. There would be a firestorm if soccer were bigger in this country. You can think that privately, Jurgen, you can say that to your wife, but to broadcast that on the eve of the World Cup is, well, imagine Joe Philbin saying at the start of training camp that the Dolphins are not at a level to compete for a Super Bowl. Klinsmann has cast a soggy blanket over any American enthusaism for this World Cup. There is also the element of self-fulfulling prophecy. Imagine being a player hearing your coach say that? Dumb, dumb.

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June 07, 2014

LeBron on burden he bears, plus other Saturday Heat mega-notes; also 3-pack from San Antonio, Crampgate poll result, California Chrome & more

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 7. Thoughts with Tracy Morgan, the comedian seriously injured in an auto accident. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Spurs Finals Game 1 report and video, A.C./cramps poll, MVP standings, NFL concussion result & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

California Chrome falls short of Triple Crown; owner fumes: Damn. Still no Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Tonality wins the Belmont Stakes today and California Chrome's run at history ends in a fifth-place finish. Chrome got pushed to the outside and did not have a closing kick in the longer race. Afterward Chrome's owner Steve Coburn blasted the Triple Crown format that allows a rested horse like Tonality -- who ran in neither the Kentucky Derby nor Preakness -- to swoop into the Belmont. Coburn angrily called Tonality's victory "the coward's way out." Classless? Sour grapes? Maybe. But Cobrun has a point, too. It would be a level field of only horses running in the Kentucky Derby were eligible for the following two race and a Triple Crown shot.

HEAT STUFF FROM TODAY'S SESSION IN SAN ANTONIO THAT INTERESTED ME:

1aa1aredoct(*) LeBron James warmed up on the court wearing Nike Air Yeezy 2s -- Red Octobers, pictured -- the Kanye West-designed sneakers worth $4,000 and up if you're not LeBron and get them for free.

(*) Check me out on Vine for a new video on Dwyane Wade asking the last question of LeBron in today's media session.

(*) LeBron yesterday called himself "the easiest target in sports" in reaction to being made fun of on social media for his cramps. Today he expounded: "I don't think it, I know it," he said of that burden. "Cameras been in front of me since I was 15, since everything from being an adolescent, kind of going to the top and falling from the mountain and going back on top again. Half of my life I've been in front of this. That makes me an easy target."

(*) LeBron on his post-cramps health: I'm doing well. Doing a lot better. The soreness is starting to get out."

(*) Erik Spoelstra on the review of the tape of Thursday's loss: "A lot of carnage to go through in that film."

(*) Snapshot from the practice gym. On a bench in the far corner: Micky Arison, Pat Riley and Spoelstra. Oh to have bugged that bench!

(*) Wade, a Chicagoan, on the impact on him of Michael Jordan's first Bulls championship: "I was 9 years old, and that's when I feel in love with basketball. After that I was in the  backyard, in the cold, trying to emulate M.J."

(*) Wade on the team's mindset down 1-0 entering Sunday's Game 2: "We're not uptight, we're not overly loose. We're focused." 

A SATURDAY HEAT THREE-PACK...

1. DEFENDING LEBRON FROM THE TWITTIDIOTS: I love that former Dolphins wimp Jonathan Martin 1aa1acramps(of all people) was among those piling on LeBron James on Twitter for his cramps in Game 1, with 'C'mon, bruh. Drink a Gatorade and get out there.' James in general was savaged, with America seemingly oozing out of the woodwork to criticize James when given any opportunity. I address the phenomenon and defend James in today's latest column from San Antonio; click Iron Man to read. I note why James is about the last player in sports whose toughness or durability should be doubted or questioned. For example, in his career, he has started all 154 playoff games and 996 of 1,040 games overall, or 96 percent, a remarkable record of dependability beyond the excellence thet gets more celebrated.

2. HEAT TOPS IN NATIONAL POLL: The Miami Heat have overtaken the Los Angeles Lakers as America's favorite NBA team, in the latest annual poll by ESPN. The Heat are sixth 1aa1aheatlesoverall among favorite U.S. sports teams, after the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, New York Yankees and Denver Broncos. Also, interesting South Florida-market television ratings, via colleague Barry "TV" Jackson, verify Heat's popularity relative to Dolphins. Game 1 of the Finals Thursday drew a 30.5 rating in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, after Heat-Pacers series averaged 23.4. Dolphins regular-season games last year averaged 17.1. In fairness, a Dolphins playoff game rating likely would top 30, but that would require the Dolphins actually, you know, making the playoffs.

3. WADE'S PUBLIC ADVICE FOR SPOELSTRA: Dwyane Wade yesterday publicly admonished coach Erik Spoelstra to play 1aa1adwademore guys in Game 2, partly blaming "mental and physical fatigue down the stretch" for Thursday's loss. "We've got to go a little deeper into our bench, keep guys fresher," Wade said. He likely had in mind Udonis Haslem, who did not play at all in Game 1. James Jones and Toney Douglas did not play, either. At the least, look for a role for Haslem on Sunday. LeBron on Saturday backed up Wade, saying, "Toney,. J.J. and U.D. could have got some minutes to take the load off the rest of us."  

Poll results: Conditions, cramps likely cost Heat Game 1 win: We asked in previous blogpost (you may still vote), and a plurality of 44.2 percent said the lack of arena air-conditioning that led to LeBron James' cramps cost Miami a win Thursday night, while 14.9% said "perhaps" it did. The other 40.9% said no to the premise.

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May 16, 2013

It's Indiana! Heat-Pacers in East finals; plus Heat bigger faves than ever to repeat, D-Wade prom video, Oxbow, Sad-O-Meter & more

1aa1mando1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 18. Sesame Street is introducing a new character named Armando or "Mando," which may or may not be an homage to Herald sports writer Armando Salguero. Mando is pictured at right. (Is it me or do half of the Sesame Street characters sort of look like this?) 2) Former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle dead at 71 of reported suicide. Sad story. All-time great name, Dick Trickle, but a sad story. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Game 5 win, Wade health poll, LeBron No. 2 in money, most disappointing hotel, catchers' fake fingernails, Sad-O-Meter. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

Another year, another horse fails to win Triple Crown: Affirmed in 1978 remains the last to do it after Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished a disappointing fourth in today's Preakness Stakes, won by Oxbow with ancient Gary Stevens aboard. Orb started on the rail and really struggled to extricate himself from traffic.

Hit Wade Strikes Back for my column off Wednesday's Heat win.

"David Beckham is retiring? What a big, big loss for the sport of underwear endorsing." --Greg Cote

UPDATED: HEAT CRAZY-BIG FAVES TO REPEATS AS CHAMPS: If you want the other side you stand to make some big bucks. Are you that daring? New from Bovada, championship odds on the five teams still alive show Heat at 1-3, Spurs 5-1, Grizzlies 6-1, Pacers 20-1 and Knicks 40-1. Miami odds to win East and get to Finals: 1-9. Man! Based on the public perception that sets the odds, let's just go ahead and plan that parade right now. I'm just sayin'.

EASTERN FINALS SET: HEAT VS. PACERS: Indiana beat visiting New York 106-99 tonight to win the series 4 games to 2. Miami will host Eastern finals Game 1 vs. Pacers on Wednesday night. The series suggests Pacers are a better team, although that is debatable. Both teams fared well against Miami this season, Indy going 2-1 against the Heat and the Knickerbockers 3-1. The other factor in answering the poll question below was the vantage point of your vote. It might have been based on which team you think would be an easier draw for the Heat. Or you might have voted for what you think the more exciting series would be. On the latter criteria the clear preference would seem to have been New York, a bigger rival with more starpower and boorish fans in constant need of shutting up. Based on results, your choice was pretty clear. Enjoys the Eastern finals anyway.

1aa1leblady 1aa1bearladyUPDATE: HEAT MIDDLE-FINGER LADY: South Florida's most famous birder is keeping sharp between playoff series. After honing her skills against the Bulls' Joakim Noah, Middle-Finger Lady now prepares for Indiana or New York in the next round. Pictured left, MFL transmogrifies into a clownishly grinning LeBron James in a final, parting-shot farewell to Noah. At right, Middle-Finger Lady inexplicably proffers the Flying Digit to an adorably dumbfounded polar bear.

1aa1dwpromDWYANE WADE: PROM DATE: What cute story. Archbishop Coleman Carroll senior Nicole Muxo posts a YouTube video asking Heat star Dwyane Wade to be her prom date. He calls her cell phone with his regrets, then moments later walks into the Friday ight event in Coral Gables, shocking her. Later Wade Tweeted, 'I had a blast at Prom. Never be 2 scared to ask.' The couple is pictured on the dance floor. This, among a million other reasons, is why South Florida loves Dwyane Wade.

Click HERE for a 3-minute video on how Wade pulled off his big prom surprise. Good stuff.

1aa1chadjLATEST TRAVAILS OF CHAD JOHNSON: Free-agent receiver Chad (nee Ochocinco) Johnson lessens his chances of ever playing again with a warrant for his arrest for failing to report to his probation officer stemming from the domestic violence issue that got him cut by the Dolphins. The latest misstep is indicative of Johnson perhaps suffering from DAS, Dumbass Athlete Syndrome. There is no known cure.

UPDATED! MARLINS' SAD-O-METER: We have this new blog feature we update as long as Marlins' 1aa1bbsadwinning percentage is under .300 -- as long as the New York Mets' infamous 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is within dubious reach. Well, six straight losses with last night's have brought the S-O-M roaring back as the season inches past the one-quarter mark. Updated Sad-O-Meter: Current record, 11-31 (.262). Season projection, 42.43 wins, 119.57 losses.

1aa1bimboBACKSTORY: COMPANY NAMES: Took this pic on my phone camera as proof there is a baked-goods company operating in South Florida under the name Bimbo. (Primary dictionary definition: "A foolish, stupid or inept person.") I am envisioning the initial meeting of company investors. "OK, first things first," says the boss. "We need a name that represents who we are. Thoughts?"

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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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June 07, 2012

G6: Heat 98, Celtics 79: LeBron spins 45, lifts Miami to Game 7; plus Ochocinco to Dolphins?, cheerleaders fake-singing, I'll Have Another & more

[1) It is Saturday, June 9. Back from my Vegas vacation, now back from my work in Boston. Heat is 0-3 in games I missed this series, and 3-0 in games I covered. Coincidence? 2) The Chargers signed former Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown. 3) Feeling guilty that the blog has been so Heat-intensive lately, but tough to avoid. We'll gradually get back to our familiar, signature variety. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on King James Roars for my column from Boston off the Heat's Game 6 win, and thanks for making it the most-read thing on all of MiamiHerald.com. Meantime, you can shop for a small swing in either direction, but most early sports books have Miami favored by 7 1/2 points in Game 7.

G6: HEAT 98, CELTICS 79: KING JAMES, INDEED! MIAMI ONE WIN FROM RETURN TRIP TO NBA FINALS: LeBron James, 45 points on 19-for-26 shooting; oh, and 15 rebounds. Mull those numbers. Savor them. This was one of the great, clutch performances in South Florida sports history, in an elimination that earned Miami a Game 7 back home on Saturday night -- winner-take-all for a spot in the NBA Finals. ..... Original post: Elimination game. Always a daunting, scary phrase in Heatbostonsports, and not more so than for the Miami Heat, which tonight is one loss from seeing its championship dream and ballyhooed Big 3 promise fall short for a Dangersecond straight season. The Heat, down 3-2 in these NBA Eastern Conference finals, must win -- literally this time -- tonight in Baahston to stay alive and force a Game 7 back in Miami Saturday. I'm up here in Nuevo England for what will be a game column reflecting gloom or relief, no in-betweens. "You really rise to the occasion when the pressure is there," said Chris Bosh of his team. That, my friends, is to be determined. We'll know by around 11 tonight. Clearly as a starting point the Heat will need big, healthy minutes from Bosh, 50-plus combined points from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and stout defense on Kevin Garnett to have a chance. The betting line is a near toss-up (Miami by 1 1/2 points) and, being honest, my thoughts on the outcome are no more defined. Fundamental faith in the Heat -- in LeBron and D-Wade to get it done -- has been rocked pretty badly by three straight losses. That's for many nervous fans, I'm sure, but also for Your Friend the Media, me. Miami has proven to be a team capable of so much, but the thing is, that's a broad spectrum that encompasses the polars of highlight-reel greatness and crushing disappointment. I resist the premature "what's next" scenarios that will bloom with anything less than a championship. You know, will coach Erik Spoelstra and the BIg 3 return intact for another try or are big changes in store? I respect this team enough to not start that already. You don't start an autopsy without a dead body. A loss tonight would commence that, though. We'll all find out together if that happens.

CHAD OCHOCINCO TO DOLPHINS?: Miami's own Chad Ochocinco, cut by the Patriots and available, is a wide receiver. The Dolphins are perceived by fans and media to need a wide receiver. A match? Oddsamkers seem to think so. Bovada has Miami a 3-1 favorite to sign the former (and maybe future) Chad Johnson, followed by Dallas 4-1 and Jax and St. Lou both 11-2. Ochocinco is flaky and past his prime but might be worth a low-cost training camp gamble.

1aa1dolcheerDOLPHINS CHEERLEADERS LIP-SYNCH NEW VIDEO: Click here for 3 1/2 minutes of the Dolphins cheerleaders lip-synching Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." I think they lip-synch pretty well but am not positive because they are dancing in bikinis which tends to be distracting. They could be lip-synching to an entirely different song, perhaps "God Bless America," for all I noticed. We'll never know, but the Dolphins cheerleaders putting out a sexy video right after HBO announced the Dolphins would star this summer in its Hard Knocks reality series seem an unlikely coincidence.

1aa1have another'I'LL HAVE ANOTHER' WON'T HAVE ANOTHER: So much for horse racing's first Triple Crown in 34 years. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another was scratched from Saturday's Belmont Stakes today with a sore right front leg. Pictured above: I'll Have Another being led by Barack Obama or by a groom who could get work impersonating the president.

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May 19, 2012

G4: Heat 101, Pacers 93: New life for Miami as LeBron, D-Wade power huge victory; plus Dolphins MVP, I'll Have Another, Exxxotica & more

[It is Tuesday, May 22. Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Trusting LeBron and D-Wade for my column from Indianapolis off Sunsay's Heat victory.

G4: HEAT 101, PACERS 93: LEBRON, WADE LIFT MIAMI IN MUST-WIN: Heat triumph 101-93 as LeBron James (40 points, 18 rebounds) and Dwyane Wade (30 points) rise up hugely. ..... Miami trails 54-46 at half. LeBron James with 19 points, Dwyane Wade 8. ..... Juwan Howard jawing at Lance Stephenson pre-game, separated by Pacers assistant Brian Shaw. Stephenson is the Pacer who directed a choke sign at LeBron James during Game 3, later apologizing. .... Ronny Turiaf and Shane Battier join LeBron/Wade/Chalmers in today's Game 4 Heat starting lineup. ..... Original post: I love the best-of-7 1aa1heatindyseries format because every result redefines the context almost entirely, and today's Heat-Pacers Game 4 in Indianapolis is that to the extreme with Indy up 2-1. A 3-1 hole for Miami would spread panic and gloom across South Florida -- with reason. But a 2-2 series heading back to Miami would reassert the Heat's control. So all that's at stake today is, well, just about everything. It's why we love sports. I'm back in Indianapolis and this is one of those assignments it's a pleasure to cover more than feeling like work. Guessing the starting lineup will change again today and would bet Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem start. Also safe to imagine a bounceback game for Dwyane Wade after his controversial (see below) 5-point debacle in Game 3, if his left allows it. Have a feeling Miami will win. (Caveat: Thought that the last game, too). 

REACTION TO HEAT'S SITUATION A FASCINATING STUDY: Consecutive second-round NBA playoff losses have the Heat on the edge of being on the edge of the cliff, granted, but one would think Miami is 1aa1overreactionalready there -- pushed over, done, out, eliminated -- to hear and read the reaction both locally and nationally as we enter Game 4 Sunday in Indianapolis. Dwyane Wade's 5-point night on a hobbled leg Thursday led to a flash-mob debate on whether he is (suddenly) over the hill. Coach Erik Spoelstra starting Dexter Pittman at center (the decision evidence of a mental instability, perhaps?) led to a reconsideration of whether Pat Riley should swoop back in and make everything right. The cancellaton of Friday's off-day practice and media session in Indy (even though the Pacers didn't practice, either) fed ominous speculation about internal turmoil. And left a void filled by premature mediababble about how much change is in store if (when?) the Heat fail. My own Herald on Saturday gravely reported "a national perception that the Heat is on the brink of a postseason meltdown." Pause. Step back. Breathe deeply. Sunday will tell. Another loss Sunday and the avalanche of gloom and doom will be understandable. Miami truly will be on the brink. But a win Sunday and everything looks so, so much different. Then it's 2-2 heading back to Miami, order restored, the Earth back on its axis. A bounceback game by Wade in a victory and all the "meltdown" talk will seem hysterical in every sense of the word. Now all the Heat have to do is make that happen. (No pressure, guys. Have some fun out there!) In the Pacers arena fans hold up signs that state, simply, 'BELIEVE.' The question now: Do Heat fans still believe? Because it sure hasn't sounded like it lately.

Wade addresses blowup: After Saturday's Heat practice in Indy Dwyane Wade called his Game 3 outburst at coach Erik Spoelstra "emotional and in the heat of the battle," downplaying the incident but stopping short of a public apology. Wade said it wasn't the first time and won't be the last he has had heat-of-the-moment words with a coach, but called his team "a family" and said Miami has moved on and is focusing on Sunday's Game 4. Meantime Marlins manager Ozzie "Opinion On Everything" Guillen said he'd have punched a player who got in his face publicly the way Wade did with Spoelstra Thursday night. Spoelstra has publicly downplayed the controversy.

'I'LL HAVE ANOTHER' HAS ANOTHER!: Magnificent rally-run for I'll Have Another to overtake Bodemeister and win the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, giving IHA two-thirds of the Triple Crown awaiting the Belmont. Might this sport actually have its first Triple Crown horse since Affirmed in 1978? There is a chance, at least. Manna for the beleaguered Sport of Kings. Love it.

THE STATE OF THE DOLPHINS PERFECTLY STATED: Quarterback Matt Moore is named 2011 season MVP. Perfect! So the most valuable player on the team is the one player (based on the recent draft) they most wanted to replace. In other words, the Dolphins didn't really have a team MVP last season but felt like they needed to name somebody.

EXXXOTICA 2012 HITS MIAMI BEACH: Adult-film icon Ron Jeremy walked unmistakably past me in the Charlotte airport Friday and I could not help but notice how small he is. I should elaborate. I mean he is 1aa1chelseashort, really short, maybe 5-4, like a porn gnome. Anyway, seeing him reminded me that Exxxotica 2012 is going on through Sunday at the Miami Beach Convention Center. How'd you like to be part of the cleanup crew working that building come Monday? (I'm allowed to say "come Monday" because it's a Jimmy Buffett song title). This is billed as "the biggest event in the USA dedicated to love and sex" (although I might add, "not necessarily in that order"). What it is is a trade show to promote the adult film industry, which somehow has survived the Internet. Pictured is the demure Chelsea Charms, seen in an appearance at last year's Exxotica show here. Guessing her transition into non-adult films could be problematic. Also, I'm no doctor, but would imagine she has back problems.

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May 05, 2012

Loss at Knicks a mere bump in road for Heat; plus LeBron James now vs. Dan Marino in prime (with poll), Philbin on Dolphin QBs, Beach Boys & more

1aa1goober[It is Tuesday, May 8. R.I.P. actor George Lindsey (pictured) -- forever "Goober" from the Andy Griffth Show -- gone to the great Mayberry in the sky. 2) Hope y'all had a happy Drinko Cinco de Mayo. 3) SUPERMOON! 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

G4: KNICKS BEAT HEAT TO DRAW WITHIN 3-1 IN SERIES: The good news for Miami besides the still-safe 3-1 series lead? Knicks had the home crowd, all the motivation, 41 points from Carmelo Anthony and 20 in a Willis Reed-esque performance by Amare "Fire Extinguisher" Stoudemire and still it came down to the final shot. The bad news for Miami? The Heat stunk, with 41 percent shooting, 16 missed 3's, 11 missed free throws and a disappearing bench. Maybe this is the needed early postseason lesson: Heat gotta be the Heat, and the Heat get beat. Click on Bump In The Road for my column from the Garden. ..... Original post: I'm up here for a column off Game 4 today and as we speak am staring out my 1aa1heatnykLaGuardia-area hotel room at Citi Field. Soon I'll be in a Yellow cab hurtling at 145 mph toward midtown Manhattan. I see a sweep. Home-court and desperation don't amount to much when the other team is just better; look at Dallas failing to avoid the broom at home last night. Besides I don't even know how much desperation (want) the Knicks really have. There isn't a man in that lockerroom who truly believes and there won't be many fans in the Garden who do, either. Exceolt the ones who flew in from Miami.

HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT: MARINO VS. LEBRON: This poll's premise is that the Heat's LeBron James -- in his prime, 1aa1lebronjamesleft 1aa1dammarinorightconsidered the best player in the NBA and about to win his third MVP award -- is the first Miami athlete since an in-his-prime Dan Marino who has enjoyed the national stature of being seen as the best at what he does. This poll presents a challenge because it asks you to reach across eras and across sports. It also reminds this is not a popularity poll, but rather one that asks you to honestly appraise which of these two iconic stars -- at his best -- was more impressive. Can you do it? Vote and say why. (And check back often to monitor evolving results; looks like a tight one...). 

THE BEACH BOYS: A CONCERT REVIEW: First another quick R.I.P. for Adam Yauch, better known as MCA of the Beastie Boys. Still can't believe he's gone at 47. The fact the Beasties and Beach Boys are neighbors in my alphabetical CD library tells you a little about my musical tastes, which are broader than anyone else's I know. So. Saw the reunited, 50th-anniversary-tour Beach Boys Friday night at the Hard Rock and was pleasantly surprised. The Beach Boys brand has been fractured and diluted by years of 1aa1brianwilsonover-touring by splinter groups. Everybody has seen the BB's, but usually it's been a lame postgame concert or something by Semi-Boys featuring maybe one or two original members. This is all five: Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, David Marks and, indispensably, most importantly, creative genesis Brian Wilson (pictured, from last night's show). Understandably the group needs and gets help. Nine other musicians onstage fill in musical muscle and vocal background. This is unmistakably the Beach Boys, though, still floating on etheral harmonies and a catalogue few groups can match. From the concert-opening drum on "Do It Again" to the encore that includes an epic "Good Vibrations," the group puts on a great show. Mike Love is characterisically full of himself and a somewhat wobbly Brian Wilson is helped to his piano by an aide; nevertheless, there is a nostalgic, historic appeal to seeing this group in its full reunion, although undercut by the wistfulness of, "Can you believe it's been 50 years...?" Could have done without the intermission, but the song tributes to departed Dennis and Carl Wilson were appreciated. One of the first 45s I (barely) remember buying was "Dance, Dance, Dance," the old Capitol Records single stacked somewhere lonely in a closet to this day I'm sure. I wished they'd played that song. I think it might have been the only one of their 15 top-10 hits they didn't. Then again, maybe it's just as well. Might have brought a tear, you never know.

1aa1savedbythebellSAVING HEATH BELL: Ozzie Guillen is faced with his biggest problem not involving Fidel Castro: Closer Heath Bell. The Marlins spent millions to sign him, but he is about one more blown save from becoming an egregiously overpaid, seldom-used middle reliever, Chad Gaudin with a fat wallet. Bell has blown five saves already. Three were losses. Twice including last night the Marlins saved him by going on to win. The current now-five-game winning streak removes some of the urgency, but the onus on Bell is clear: Save your job.

1aa1dolphtannPHILBIN ON TANNEHILL: Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, verbatim, on new QB Ryan Tannehill (pictured) after Friday's rookie camp:

On Tannehill’s first practice – “I like the way we threw a couple of double moves, we threw a couple deep balls. I thought he threw those relatively well. It looked like he threw the ball on the move well. In general, and I think that even our quarterbacks who are veterans, our play speed at that position is something that we are going to need to work on. Given the fact that its day one, practice one, I thought he did some good things.”

On what you want his role to be starting off, more of a leader or just one of the guys “I haven’t had any singular one-on-one discussions with him in that regard. Part of the fun process in coaching is to get a sense for how these guys handle themselves on their own, obviously there is going to be a lot of time to give specific instructions, but we are just letting the guys go out there and compete. We told them last night that they are a part of the Miami Dolphins, unfortunately in this profession, for how long we don’t know, and so we asked them to give a great effort out here today and do the best they possibly could, and there will be time to hone everybody in. But today we just wanted to see how everybody competed and see some of the things that they were capable of doing.”

On if he noticed any comfort level today between Tannehill and Jeff Fuller, who were college teammates “I don’t know if there was anything specific that I noticed, obviously Jeff’s a fantastic target, he’s a big individual at that position and it looks like he did some good things, but I don’t know if there was anything special about (their relationship) today.”

On Tannehill’s familiarity with the playbook and how much it will speed his progress – “I think initially it’s going to help him, no question about it. At some point that knowledge, and I would say that David (Garrard) and Matt (Moore) have been around the system for three weeks or four weeks, so at some point that is going to even itself out and the difference is going to be the decision making and the accuracy, the playmaking ability at the quarterback position. So I am sure, as opposed to some of the other rookie quarterbacks that are practicing today, he probably feels a little more comfortable when he puts his head on the pillow at night. But the bottom line is the productivity once you get on the field, so we will see how that goes.”

On whether he saw the deep pass that Tannehill completed in practice “Yeah I thought he hit two of them, if I’m not mistaken, the real deep one down the left sideline. Yeah it looked like a nice ball, it looked like it had just the right amount of air under it so the receiver didn’t have to sit and wait for it. It kind of hit him in rhythm, which is important on those deep balls. Sometimes the timing is not right and it just turns into a jump ball, which obviously we coach (our players) to win that situation on both sides… Break it up on defense and come down with it on offense. But, I thought the timing on it was pretty good in terms of the amount of time it was in the air. Again I just think our play seed overall at that position, the quarterback position, is key.”

On whether he has talked with Matt Moore and David Garrard about the team drafting Tannehill “Yeah we’ve talked to those guys. Yeah those guys are professionals and I couldn’t be more pleased with either one of those guys from what we’ve seen in the way they’ve conducted themselves. We made it very clear to both of them from the minute they stepped foot here for the offseason program that it would be an open competition between those guys. If you watch those guys on the field, they’re very supportive of one another and I expect nothing different when this group, Ryan (Tannehill) specifically joins them. They all know what the rules are and they all know that they will have opportunities, so I think they know what the drill is.”

On if it is accurate to say that Tannehill has a better grasp on the new offense than Moore and Garrard – “I don’t know about that. Those other guys have been studying hard now since April 10th, so we’ve installed quite a bit of offense, as you guys know, during that voluntary minicamp. We practiced Red Zone, third down, two minute drill, normal down and distance, screens and deceptives, so I don’t know (that he has a better grasp) for sure. I don’t want to say definitively yes or no, because we have exposed the other guys to a lot.”

1aa1derbykyTHE KENTUCKY DERBY: Three-hour preview show on NBC yesterday for a two-minute race. And you thought Super Bowl pregame shows were silly-long? The crowded 20-horse field made it tricky; eliminate all of the nags that don't run well in traffic. On a hunch I liked Union Rags more than I liked favored Bodemeister, which went out at a pace he couldn't maintain. For a semi-longshot I kept going back to Take Charge Indy under Calvin Borel, who gave it a go. As for the winner I'll Have Another, anybody see a horse to threaten the long Triple Crown drought? Yeah me neither. 

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