February 15, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10, with Marlins, Heat, NBA, Canes, Cats, NFL, cricket, Tiger, LLWS, racing; also, verdict on Loria, thanks Dr. J & more

1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15. Hope the ladies had a wonderful Valentine's Day! 2) Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Reconsidering Jeffery Loria poll, D-Wade on '50 Shades,' Ndamukong Suh verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HOT BUTTON FEB. 15: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Miami awarded All-Star Game as spring training nears: As an improved Marlins team opens spring training in five days in Jupiter, MLB held a news conference here Friday to make official that Miami would host the 2017 All-Star Game. "We couldn’t be happier,” Marlins fans said. “Well ... unless of course Jeffrey Loria changed his mind about not selling the team."

2. HEAT: Wade sits as Bosh represents Heat in Sunday’s All-Star Game: Dwayne Wade rests his injured hamstring but Chris Bosh will play in tonight's NBA showcase of stars. Miserable New York and Brooklyn, a combined 31-74, are cohosts. Am surprised teams aren’t boycotting the game at Madison Square Garden for fear their players might catch whatever the Knicks have.

3. NBA: LaVine, Curry, Bosh top Saturday's All-Star Game undercard: Miami's Bosh (along with WNBA'er Swin Cash and legend Dominique Wilkins won the Shooting Stars event, Golden State's Stephen Curry won the 3-point contest and Minnesota's 19-year-old Zach LaVine won the Dunk contest. The latter answered the question, "Who the hell is Zach LaVine?"

4. HURRICANES: It’s the nexus of basketball, baseball and football: UM men’s basketball team tries to shake off an ill-timed slump and still make the NCAA Tournament. UM opened baseball season this weekend seeking to end a six-year College World Series drought. Football prepares for spring practice with heat on Al Golden. For all three, cue Queen and David Bowie’s "Under Pressure."

5. PANTHERS: Crunch time as Cats chase rare NHL playoff spot: Florida enters today's game only four points off playoff pace, chasing what would be only the fifth postseason berth in 21 franchise seasons, after 1996, ’97, 2000 and ’12. Not much margin of error from here, though, as each loss puts the Panthers closer to a phrase particularly apt in hockey: Thin ice.

6. NFL: Scouting Combine, major pre-draft event, begins: The weeklong talent show begins Tuesday in Indianapolis. And if you can't get enough of watching fat college linemen timed in the 40-yard dash, the NFL Network will have your all-excess pass.

7. CRICKET: World Cup under way in Australia, New Zealand: Yes, we DO have cricket in this week’s Top 10 as 14 nations are in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. The sport is very popular in parts of South Florida among residents from the West Indies. For others inclined to scoff, here’s your challenge: You can make fun of cricket, but wisecracks may not include the word “Jiminy.”

8. GOLF: Tiger Woods taking indefinite "break" from PGA Tour: This is bad news for the tour and for the upcoming Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens. There go the TV ratings. Golf fans would rather watch Tiger take a break (or a nap) than watch other guys play golf.

9. YOUTH SPORTS: Chicago team stripped of Little League title: Chicago's Jackie Robinson West team was stripped of the U.S. championship it won at the Little League World Series for its coach using players not from its district. It's another reminder the only problem with youth sports is adults.

10. AUTO RACING: Daytona 500 begins the NASCAR schedule next Sunday: The swansong season for Jeff Gordon, with all its testiminials and ceremonial rocking chair gifts, is about to begin. The Gordon tributes haven’t even started yet and I’m already tired of them.

Poll result: Estimation of Loria improving, but still skews negative: We gave your four choices on how you feel about Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and results were: Very positive 25.6 percent, mildly positive 18.4%, mildly negative 25.9% and very negative 30.1. That made it negative over positive overall by 56-44%. [Note: There was a sudden surge in "very positive" votes yesterday, suggesting an organized effort by the Marlins, perhaps. Not enough, alas]. 

THANK YOU, DR. J: Julius Erving said something (click here) that I have thought but never said aloud. In 1aa1adunkmascotfact I've not heard it said or seen it written. "Dr. J" says the NBA All-Star Weekend's Slam-Dunk Contest, once an exciting, huge draw, has lost much of its appeal due to mascots. Yes, mascots. He means mascots (and non-mascot gymnasts) bouncing off mini-trampolines and acrobatically slam-dunking from above the rim as in-game entertainment (as pictured). Mere earth-bound mortals cannot duplicate that. No, not even Michael Jordan. Blake Griffin can sort of jump over the hood of a small car, but he still is not rising as high or majestically as a trampoline allows. The absence of top stars in the Slam-Dunk Contest also hurts (talking to you, LeBron), but Dr. J. is right. No more trampolines in NBA arenas!

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October 07, 2014

Dolphins and Jim Harbaugh. Poll. Vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY Top 10, college football's merry mess, toast to '72, Cinder-AL-a & more

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It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket  Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7. The Jacksonville Jaguars mascot led to an apology from the club for the sign shown carried during the Steelers game. Dear Mascots: Two things. First, stay out of politics and current events. Second, nothing about the ebola virus is funny. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes grounded by Georgia Tech, CSM poll, Hot Button Top  10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

THE DOLPHINS' HARBAUGH DILEMMA: A prevailing school of thought within the NFL is that the San Francisco 49ers and coach Jim Harbaugh may mutually part ways after this season, despite their success 1aa1ajimhtogether. That immediately raises Harbaugh-to-Dolphins speculation considering owner Stephen Ross already tried once (2011) to hire Harbaugh for Miami. I think the issue would be moot if Miami makes the playoffs, which I think would secure Joe Philbin's job. But otherwise? Harbaugh's coaching talent is evident. But so is his off-putting personality and his hunger for control. Hiring him would be seen as a coup by some, but would be seen by others as an invitation to upheaval and turmoil. It's early, but we invite your thoughts on the matter. Vote and say why.

THE MERRY MESS OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL: I am grinning right now at all those folks who thought the advent, this season, of the four-team College Football Playoff would make everything cut-and-dried, neat, 1aa1acfpabove argument. Ha! In the best case, the Final Four may not be a broad consensus. There will usually be an angry No. 5 standing outside the closed door leading a protest. In the worst case, picking four for the CFP may be a crapshoot that finds at least as many teams feeling unfairly left out. This first year of the playoff looks like it could be one of those nightmares for the selection committee. Seemed otherwise until Nos. 2-3-4 Oregon, Alabama and Oklahoma all lost this past weekend, leaving the playoff picture as Florida State and the backup group Question Mark & The Mysterians. Auburn is pretty solid No. 2, then it gets crazy. Mississippi State, Baylor, Ole Miss, Notre Dame -- there are 24 teams in the AP Top 25 with zero or one losses. Alabama or any of the other recently dethroned team that runs the table from here stil can gravitate back up into the top four. It's insane, with very little hope of consensus come playoff time. Ain't it great!?

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: ALL GOOD FOR WEEK 5: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosprevious NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: Great on the overall at 13-2 and OK against the spread at 8-7. But we stumbled for first time on our Upset of the Week when Bears blew it in Carolina. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos (logo at left) improved to 2-3 with a 107-93 win, led by 22 points from Marshawn Lynch, 21 from Philip Rivers and, unexpectedly, 21 from the toe of Stephen Gostkowski. Gotta say, though. You killin' me, Calvin Johnson!

SOPY: CANES' JOHNSON, KAAYA STAY ON TOP: Canes Duke Johnson and Brad Kaaya stay 1-2 in our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings --"the State Heisman" -- while hard- 1aa1asopycharging Jameis Winston, the defending champion, leaps to No. 3. This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 7:

SOPY WEEK 6 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk6    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         158      826

2 (2)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            119.5    769

3 (6)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        194.5    746

4 (4)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      176.5   741 

5 (5)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        33      592

6 (3)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            DNP      586

7 (9)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb            114     538.5

8 (8)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb           59.5     496.5

9 (7)        Karlos Williams, FSU-rb           54      494

10 (--)     Alex Gardner, FIU-rb               118     470

Bubble: Jay Warren, FAU-rb, 467. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 458.5. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF and Florida have played 4 games, FSU and USF have played 5 and Miami, FIU and FAU have played 6.

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

A TOAST (EARLY THIS YEAR) TO 1972: In South Florida "1972" doesn't mean Vietnam or Watergate or anything else but Perfection. It means Don Shula, Lazrry Csonka and the 17-0 '72 Dolphins. Usually it's 1aa1adol72around Thanksgiving each year when some other NFL team is making its futile attempt to equal what Miami did, once and forver. This season we're only five weeks in and already we are rid of the last unbeaten team, thanks to the Bengals losing big at New England last night. The '72 Perfectos should feel cheated. National football writers didn't even have time to try to scrounge a phone number for Dick Anderson or Nick Buoniconti. Was the champgane even chilled yet? Anyone, congrats to what was, and remains. To the Class of '72.

...AND THEN THERE'S DERRICK SHELBY: We segue from the Dolphins' 1aa1adshelbypinnacle of pride to the latter-day embarrassment of defensive end Derrick Shelby, arrested for causing a disturbance at Fort Lauderdale nightclub at 2 a.n. Saturday. Cops had to tase him three times. The mugshot at left hints at one of the charges: resisting arrest. This is the worst possible climate to be arrested as an NFL player right now, but alcohol does cloud the mind, doesn't it? Kudos to the Dolphins and coach Joe Philbin for immediately suspending Shelby.

CINDERELLA LIVES IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE: I love that the Orioles and Royals are in 1aa1aalcsthe AL Championship Series after 3-0 playoff series wins over the Tigers and Angels, respectively. The O's have waited the longest of any AL playoff team (31 years) to win a World Series, while the Royals hadn't even been to the postseason since 1985. In the NL, if the Nationals (down 2-0) get eliminated the team to root for sentimentally would be the L.A. Dodgers. They last won a WS in 1988, although seven playoff appearances since and a mega-payroll hardly make LAD a classic Cinderella like the AL offers.

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January 15, 2014

Dolphins' new O.C. hire Lazor: Like or no like? Poll. Vote!; plus Lauren Tannegun, Heat lose 3rd straight, 'LeBroning' video & more

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 16. I'm back down in the Friday Page Dungeon today summoning this week's NFL playoff picks. Is that the Upset Bird I see? What is he smoking? 2) Mel Kiper Jr. in his first Mock Draft has Miami selecting Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio 19th overall. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The A-Rod mess with poll, D.Wade's birthday yacht, NFL Final Four, Golden Globes & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

1aa1laurenshootsLauren's got a gun...: In the news, Lauren Tannehill, hottie wife of Dolphins QB, leaves an AR-15 rifle in a rental car. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). Only readers of this blog know the backstory! We told you on Aug. 1, under the headline, 'Mr. & Mrs. Tannehill are locked and loaded,' that the couple occasionally shoots at a gun range. The Riflewoman is pictured.

PANIC! PANIC? Heat lose 3rd straight, debut Oden, trade Anthony:  Big, weird Wednesday for the Heat. Miami loses third straight game (at Washington) for first time in two years -- all three to teams with losing records. Greg Oden makes long-awaited debut, scores six points in eight minutes. And Heat trade reserve center Joel Anthony and conditional, lottery-protected draft pick for veteran point guard Toney Douglas in three-team deal with Boston/Golden State. LeBron James said, of the three straight L's, "Defensively, we're just not very good right now." No panic, though. The opposite. "We love adversity more than anything, " noteth the King.

DOLPHINS MAKE PROMISING O.C. HIRE IN LAZOR, BUT G.M. SEARCH LAGS: Bill Lazor (pictured) is the 1aa1billlazorDolphins' new offensive coordinator. He'd been the Eagles' quarterbacks coach last season credited with developing Nick Foles, and has a pretty solid coaching tree, having worked under Dan Reeves, Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren and Chip Kelly. (If only Miami's search for a general manager were going as well). Lazor said he's "extremely excited." He was noncomittal on the offense he'll run or his staff plans, but did say he'd call plays. He said Miami has a "strong nucleus" in place toward a wnning team, and said he's excited to work with Ryan Tannehill, saying he has "a lot of ability." Lazor spoke highly of coach Joe Philbin, crediting him as why he accepted the job. Click on Lazor Focus for my column on the hiring. Meantime what are your initial thoughts? You'll note the poll has no option for "too soon to say"; that goes without saying. None of us knows if this is a great hire. We're just looking for a gut feel based on what you know or have heard of the new guy. Vote and say why.

1aa1alebroning'LEBRONING' SWEEPS NATION IN 'HONOR' OF KING JAMES' FLOPPING: Remembering "planking"? Golf fans may recall "Dufnering." Surely most know of "Tebowing." Well, welcome "LeBroning" into the world of

1aa1alebroningleb 1aa1alebroningtInternet memes. Spawned in high-school hallways by bored teens whose life's goal is to do something that might go viral, #LeBroning is the act of intentionally flopping to the ground after barely being touched. Click HERE for a short compilation video. This may be the ultimate in James' career. Sure he's won MVP awards. Yeah he's won champioonships. But is there a greater honor -- a greater indication of worldwide celebrity -- than being mocked on the Internet?

1aa1heatwh14ON HEAT'S WHITE HOUSE VISIT: You may have heard by now that the Heat was honored at the White House on Tuesday for its 2013 NBA championship. Pictured at right: The most powerful man in the world, standing next to President Barack Obama. I watched the ceremony and wasn't even sure Obama was the most powerful president in the room. That was just before Pat Riley issued an executive order 1aa1dwadesneaksauthorizing missile strikes on Iranian nuclear plants. Pictured left: The sneakers Dwayne Wade wore to the White house, because nobody had the nerve to tell him not to.

POOR 'CLARK THE CUB': Chicago Cubs fans, last happy in 1908, are piling on against the club's new 1aa1clarkmascot, Clark the Cub (pictured). A Chicago Tribune poll finds 74 percent against the poor young fella. Little-known fact: Clark the Cub was named after longtime Miami Herald baseball writer Clark Spencer. Unconfirmed speculation: Clark (the Cub, not Spencer) is the illegitimate son resulting from a one-night stand between a sexually freewheeling Billy the Marlin and Cindy Bear, Yogi's ex. Suggested new marketing theme for the unpopular mascot: "At Least He's Better Than Steve Bartman!"

Poll result: Little support for A-Rod: We asked in the last blogpost how you feel about Alex Rodriguez 's fight against baseball, and 71.7 percent said they did not believe A-Rod and supported his full-season suspension. Only 15.6% believed A-Rod and felt MLB was out to get him. Another 12.7% were undeciced.

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August 13, 2013

LeBron's Miami future: Poll. Vote!; plus Dolphins cut PK Carpenter, '72 Perfectos at White House, '13 Dolphins' value, Ibis' rank among college mascots & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14. Relax, unsportsmanlike wing of Dolfandom, Tom Brady's knee is OK. 2) Dolphs cut Dan Carpenter today, meaning Gators rookie Caleb Sturgis has won kicking job. 3) LeBron decides against run for NBA players association president. One word: Wise. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): College-or-pro football poll, Jose Abreu defects, Jason Dufner wins, KC's '305 3,' LeBron speaks, Lady Gaga naked & more. 5) Join us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

White House to honor '72 Dolphins: OK so it's 40 years late. Quit nitpicking! The 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins are to be honored by President Obama at the White House next Tuesday, Aug. 20, that team's first such recognition. Coach Don Shula said he is "honored," adding, "It is a very special occasion and I know it’s something that all of us will enjoy and remember." (Aside to Mercury Morris: Resist the urge to pen a rap chiding Obama for not having a record nearly as good as your team's).

"RIGHT NOW" VS. NEXT YEAR: PREDICTING LEBRON'S MIAMI FUTURE: Two little words is all it took. "Right now." The full quote From LeBron James to ABC's Robin Roberts yesterday about his future with the Heat beyond this coming season: "I'm happy right now being in Miami. Hopefully, everything works 1aa1jameslebout." There is nothing wrong with that sentiment or the quote that conveyed it. It makes sense. The quote should not imply he might leave. But let's be honest: Down here, the entire 2013-14 NBA season will be played in the context of wondering what LeBron will do beyond it. And the search for clues and hints is on. He said "right now." Does that mean maybe not later? He said "hopefully." Does that suggest some doubt? The fun/agonizing part is that we really can't know "right now" what will happen next summer, because I doubt even LeBron knows. I could very easily see him re-upping with Miami, which will make an obvious priority of keeping him with all its money and might. But I also could see him going full circle with his Akron roots and returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, or winding up elsewhere such as with the Lakers, perhaps. Everyone will want LeBron, and no doubt a handful of teams with the wherewithall will pursure him hard. So what will haoppen? With the caveat that nobody knows, let's speculate. It don't cost nuthin'! We have had a bunch of LeBron-related polls the past few years but none asking this specific question about his future. As always please remember: We are not asking what you hope happens, but rather what you honestly think is most likely to happen. Vote and say why.

DOLPHINS' VALUE MID-PACK IN NFL: The Dolphins are dead-center in NFL franchise value, 16th among 32 clubs at $1.074 billion, according to the new Forbes rankings. No. 1 are the Cowboys at $2.3 billion. No. 32 are the Raiders at $825 million.  

THREE STATE MASCOTS MAKE TOP 25: Our peninsula swells with pride as Florida State's Chief Osceola, 1aa1algator 1aa1ibis 1aa1chiefoMiami's Sebastian the Ibis and Florida's Albert Gator rank No. 1, No. 12 and No. 24, respectively, in a new Sports Illustrated list of top 25 college football mascots. Click HERE for the whole parade. One aside to SI: Classic mascots, by my definition, are costumed. I may be wrong. Osceola, Ibis and Albert are pictured. Another thing: Osceola has a horse, which seems like cheating, and Albert has a female sidekick, "Alberta," also cheating. So I declare the Ibis the winner. 

STATE-SCHOOL GUYS PEGGED FOR 2014 NFL DRAFT: This we extract from Mel Kiper Jr.'s new list of top-five prospects at each position entering this college season. Including his top-fives and a "next up" 1aa1bridget 1aa1achickcategory of others to watch, there are six FSU Seminoles, three Florida Gators, one UM Hurricane and one South Florida Bull. The Noles: No. 2 DT Timmy Jernigan, No. 5 OL Cameron Erving and next-uppers OLB Christian Jones, S Lamarcus Joyner, OL Bryan Stork and RB James Wilder Jr. The Gators: No. 2 CB Loucheiz Purifoy and next-uppers DE Dominque Easley and CB Marcus Roberson. The Cane is next-upper DE Anthony Chickillo (pictured right). And the Bull is No. 3 DE Aaron Lloyd. The top-projected QB is Miami native and Northwestern alum Teddy Bridgewater (pictured left) of Louisville, with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel third and UM's Stephen Morris meriting a "more I like" category below the next-up level.

UPDATED DOLPHINS, AFC EAST PLAYOFF ODDS: The propositionists at Bovada lay out AFC East playoff odds thusly: Patriots big 1-6 favorite, Dolphins 2-1, Bills 4-1 and Stinkin' Jets 6-1. Leaguewide its Broncos as overall fave at 1-10, and Jaguars as longest longshot at 15-1.

Poll result: College football defeats NFL: This was a surprise, at least to me, but we asked which season you most looked forward to, and you answered 60.8 percent for college football and 39.2% for the NFL. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the disparity was even greater in Florida, at 65.3% to 34.7%. Why not surprisingly? Hurricanes, Gators and Seminoles inspire more fan excitement in 2013 than Dolphins, Bucs and Jaguars.

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September 18, 2012

On Jeff Ireland: Vote now; plus Beinfest out?, state of our Big 4 teams, Chad Johnson, Dolphin WR prospects, Ozzie on the (other) f-word & more

[1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21. Thanks to the Dan Le Batard show on 790 The Ticket for having us on in-studio. Fun. More to come? Stay tuned. 2) Visit our video channel at YouTube/TheGregCote and join us on Twitter @gregcote. Promise to resume the videos soon.

STATE OF THE FRANCHISE: DOLPHINS, HEAT, MARLINS, PANTHERS: In this latest column by me, online now and shipping to today's/Wednesday's pulp editions, I offer a state-of-the-franchise report for our four major professional teams, grading and ranking them 1aa1jeffitop to bottom. We consider management, success, prognosis, everything. I thought about adding a complementary poll here but decided it would be pointless because, logically, the Heat would dominate as our best-run pro team. Instead I offer a poll on South Florida's biggest sports lightning rod, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, who was in the news again this week when a Dolfan confronted him, said he should "fire himself," and Ireland in turn called his critic an "asshole," later expressing regrets. There is a perception Ireland is extremely unpopular with fans. Leave it to me to find out. Vote in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Mixed, lukewarm support for Ozzie Guillen: In our previous blog poll we asked if you wanted Ozzie Guillen back as Marlins manager (you can still vote), and 49.1 percent said yes, 45.1% said no and 5.8% were unsure. Interesting. Results about as polarizing as the outspoken Guillen tends to be.

REPORT: LARRY BEINFEST TO BE REPLACED: USA Today is reporting the Marlins plan to replace president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest with assistant Dan Jennings. Beinfest has been GM or president since 2002. The move would not be a surprise. The same report indicated manager Ozzie Guillen likely would be back. No surprise there, either. Owner Jeffrey Loria tonight called the Beinfest report a "ridiculous" rumor. Which is not the same as simply denying it.

CHAD JOHNSON SPEAKS!: The former Dolphins receiver spoke last night on the 9 p.m. premiere of Showtime's Inside the NFL, and we brought you excerpts first. Highlights: 1) Johnson says, "The consequences to that altercation with my wife was me being released" -- even though coach Joe Philbin did not tell him that directly. "That was the reason. There is no need to blow smoke up my ass." 2) Johnson reveals he is taking anger-management classes, says, "Chad has to work on Chad." 3) He says he will work to win back the wife who divorced him.

DOLPHINS DRAFT PROSPECTS AT WR: Be surprised if wide receiver wasn't the Dolphins thinking right now for a No.1 draft pick in 2013. With that in mind, I note the three WRs listed on Mel Kiper's new top-25 "Big Board" are spaced apart enough that Miami, no matter how it finishes, likely would have a shot at one of them. The names to remember: Tennessee's Justin Hunter (pegged 7th overall), Cal's Keenan Allen (17th) and USC's Robert Woods (25th). 

STANLEY C. PANTHER OUT OF WORK: I half expect to see Panthers mascot Stanley C. Panther on a 1aa1stanleycwest Broward intersection holding a cardboard sign reading, 'Will Caper For Food.' Panthers have temporarily laid off their team mascot related to the NHL lockout threatening the season. Is there anything sadder than an out-of-work mascot? I'd imagine Stanley C. Panther must now be included as one of Mitt Romney's non-tax-paying 47 percent. I'm just saying.

ON STEVE SABOL: The NFL Films leader passed away today at age 69. NFL Films' dramatic, intimate packaging and presenting of the NFL was a big part of the league's emergence as America's favorite sport. It also was precursor to all-access shows such as HBO's Hard Knocks and Showtime's The Franchise. R.I.P. to an important figure in the history of sports and television.

ON YUNEL ESCOBAR: The Blue Jays shortstop is suspended three games for wearing an eye-black message written in Spanish (pictured) that used an anti-gay slur. He said it was meant as a 1aa1escobarjoke and "not meant to be offensive." Some suggest it's a cultural thing, that in the machismo of many Hispanics homophobic language is more accepted. I think that sounds like an insult to the majority of Hispanics who know bigotry is wrong in any language. What gets me about stuff like this is not just that Escobar might feel this way. It's that he (evidently) thought wearing an anti-gay slur on his face in a televised game would not, um, be noticed? Leaves us to wonder which is worse: Prejudice. Or outright obliviousness.

Ozzie weighs in on use of gay slur: Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen admits he is comfortable using the anti-gay slur "faggot," the word that got Escobar (see above) in trouble. Guillen once was disciplined for calling a Chicago columnist that. Yesterday he explained it as a cultural thing, saying, "In my house we call [each other] that word every 20 seconds. I've got three kids. For us it's like, 'What's up, bro?'" Ozzie lives his life unfiltered, which is fine. But Marlins ownership/management, in reviewing this season and deciding Guillen's future, must judge not just his managerial skills, but how he represents the team in the community. See Steve Rothaus' excellent Herald blog, Gay South Florida, for more on this. 

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May 19, 2010

Farewell, Zach Thomas. You done good; plus Andre Dawson schools Hanley, NY titillates LeBron, Brandon Marshall's hip, Rima Fakih, World Cup odds & more

[Twitter.com/gregcote]

1aadolzach ZACH THOMAS RETIRES A DOLPHIN: An emotional, grateful and characteristically classy Zach Thomas officially retired as a Dolphin yesterday. I was there and you'd click Farewell Zach for my column that is online in Friday's paper. It is an unabashed ode and appreciation. Zach was one of the nicest. most grounded, most real people I have had the pleasure to cover on any team in any sport. I wish him only the best. What a terrific career and terrific guy.

MARLINS' HANLEY DRAMA PUT TO BED: Sorry seems to be the hardest word, but Hanley Ramirez mustered an apology yesterday before the win in St. Louis. Earlier he had told ESPNDeportes.com: I’m sorry that all this got so ugly. My intent was not to cause a distraction. I’m sorry that things got this heated. The team, the fans don’t deserve it. We are all professionals here and we’re pulling for the same side. I’ll try to close this chapter and focus on playing baseball.” Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez, bohit club executives, met privately with Ramirez, and Dawson didn't mince words, blasting the younger player for showing up his manager. Click here for the great story of that meeting in the Palm Beach Post.

[Update: ESPN.com's Mid-May Top 300 is out today and Marlins place 10 guys: Hanley Ramirez 2nd overall, Josh Johnson 54th, Ricky Nolasco 73rd, Dan Uggla 107th, Jorge Cantu 115th, Leo Nunez 182nd, Cody Ross 206th, Chris Coghlan 226th, Gaby Sanchez 253rd and Cameron Maybin 266th. I'd have thought Anibal Sanchez might sneak in. The Sporting News' top 50, also new, has Hanley 7th and Johnson 35th]. 

My post earlier yesterday, pre-apology:

1aahanley 1aahanley2 HERE'S THE SOLUTION TO HANLEY VS. FREDI: Quick recap: Star Hanley Ramirez loafs in game, gets called out and benched by manager Fredi Gonzalez. Hanley fires back, rips Fredi. Now Fredi wants Hanley to apologize to team, but Hanley sulks, seems disinclined. Stalemate! The manager is right in this and the player is wrong. If you don't believe it, click on Fredi Sends Right Message for the column by me. But let's move on. The only pertinent question now is:

What now? What's next?

I broker peace with a three-point plan.

1. No ridiculous overreaction please. You already hear the knee-jerk "trade Hanley!" huffing on local sports-rant radio. Stop it! Take a deep breath. This could turn out to be a blip (albeit a potentially staining one) on the young man's career timeline. Hanley is only 26 and is signed long-term. He is the game's most gifted player at one of its key positions. You do not stop counting on him as a franchise cornerstone just because he is not the Derek Jeter/Cal Ripken model in terms of perfect personality/ideal teammate.

2. Marlins, do not be intractable. Don't draw a line in cement that will harden and cause a permanent rift. Yes, Hanley must apologize in some way, but let the definition of that be flexible. Must he stand up on a soapbox in the middle of the clubhouse? Must he admit he dogged it Monday night? To me it would be enough if Hanley apologizes personally to his manager and tells his teammates (not necessarily en masse) that he regrets his overreaction and the distraction it created.

3. Hanley, step up and be a man. You didn't give full effort Monday night, for whatever reason, then you overreacted horribly Tuesday in a fountain of immaturity. Look that in the eye. Take ownership. Make amends and move on. There is an olive branch on the table, but it is yours to pick up and extend, not the manager's or the team's. Oh, and you might also tip a cap to the fans in whatever version of a mea culpa you can manage. Did you hear them booing? They want to embrace you. Give them a reason.

SUMMARY: The Marlins need Ramirez too much, in this 2010 playoff chase and beyond, to allow this tempest to sour what should be a long and fruitful relationship. The manager and club are on the righteous side of this, but still must find a way to have their best player content mentally and on the field. Hanley? He must mind that he doesn't invite a national perception that he is, well, a head-case. Potential endorsement dollars run away from you with stuff like that. More important, so does the respect of teammates and fans. It's OK to be eccentric ("Hanley being Hanley"), but not when it involves effort and leaves a clubhouse sour. You are great player, Hanley. Is it too much to ask that you be a good guy, too?

BRANDON MARSHALL PICKS NUMBER, SITS WITH HIP: The number might not be permanent but for Wednesday's practice he chose 19 -- Ted Ginn's old number. Big footsteps, Brandon!  :)  Also it turned out Marshall has undergone minor hip surgery and might miss minicamps and not practice until training camp. This is where my media brethren and some fans make like that's a huge, ominous deal even though it really isn't a very big deal at all.

WORLD CUP ODDS: Got World Cup Fever yet? Getting close, amigos. Latest odds from BetUS.com have Spain a narrow favorite at 4/1 followed closely by Brazil 9/2 and England 11/2. Then it's Argentina 7/1 and Germany and Italy both 10/1. The USA is midpack, tied for 14th of 32 nations at 60/1. 

1aascores LEBRON GETS TITILLATING ENTICEMENT: Can I say that in a blog? Apparently so. New York's famous and shamelessly publicity-seeking Scores "gentleman's club" entices LeBron James to sign with the Knicks by offering him a lifetime pass for free lap dances. Seriously. What's good about that is, the poor fella could never afford that on his own! (Thinking a New York male strip club should chime in with a similar offer to LeBron's mother, based on recent suggestions of her amorous side). Anyway, time for the 305 to step up for LeBron. Where my Miami strip clubs at!?

1aafakih RIMA FAKIH TAKES POLE POSITION: The above reminds me. The newly crowned Miss USA, Michigan's Rima Fakih (pictured), caused a stir when it came out she'd posed for pix on a stripper pole a few years ago. Amazing what passes for a scandal these days. I think if pole dancing became part of the competition, ratings for beauty pageants would return to their 1970's heyday.

1aalondon2 LONDON UNVEILS CRUMMY MASCOTS: The London 2012 Olympics committee unveils its mascots Wenlock and Mandeville (pictured above molesting area schoolchildren), their shapes as odd as their names. When and why did mascots gradually transmogrify from cuddly animal likenesses to unidentifiable and at times creepy-looking blobs?

THE LIST: DOLPHIN 19'S: Should Brandon Marshall keep No. 19, here are the five previous players in Dolphins history to wear that numeral, listed chronologically:

Reyna Thompson (CB, 1986)

Scott Mitchell (QB, 1990-93)

Bernie Kosar (QB, 1994-96)

Nate Jacquet (WR, 1998)

Ted Ginn Jr. (WR, 2007-09)

[Blognote: Our "Sports Radio Wars" champion is declared and it's 790 The Ticket over WQAM. See poll results in post directly below this one]. 

September 30, 2008

Beer for the economy, Pfund, cheating Billy the Marlin, mouth of Ricky, Elly May Clampett and more

  Aaa1beer A brand new pile of miscellania for your consideration...

     Help solve the economic crisis. Drink beer: If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Air Lines stock one year ago, you would have $49 left today. With Fannie Mae, you would have $2.50 left. But if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, consumed all of the beer, then turned in the cans for an aluminum recycling refund, you would have $214 like this guy.

Aaa1ozzie     Octoberfest: Baseball playoffs begin Wednesday after White Sox beat Twins tonight 1-0 in a playoff for the eighth and last spot. I rooted for the Twins, solely because Chisox manager Ozzie Guillen (right) seems like sort of a gasbag idiot. Check this blog tomorrow morning for a poll on who you hope wins the World Series.

     Aaa1pfundPfund escapes the gargantuan shadow: The abrupt resignation of Heat GM Randy Pfund (pictured) was unexpected but not real surprising. How much pfun fun can it be to serve in that role under an omnipotent team president (Pat Riley) who possesses complete control over all personnel decisions? Pfund leaves amicably, but the fact he leaves in search of another NBA job tells you he finally grew tired of Riley's immense shadow and wants to be where he'll have more say. Can't blame him.

Aaa1billy_2     Mascot Hall of Fame screws Billy the Marlin: The three newly announced 2008 inductees into the Mascot Hall of Fame (yes there is such a thing; click here) are Rocky (Denver Nuggets), Slider (Cleveland Indians) and Smokey (University of Tennessee). However Random Evidence has learned that another nominee, Billy the Marlin, was snubbed by selectors despite leading all pro-team nominees in online fan voting. An outrage! UM's Sebastian the Ibis also was nominated and denied entry but did not lead in fan votes. Billy is pictured here, appearing to smile but weeping inside.

Aaa1ellymay      Dear Greg, Your blog is OK, but...: "...it would be much better if at some point you would show a picture of actress Donna Douglas -- Elly May Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies -- today at age 75. Thanks very much."

     If it came down to Uggla or Olsen...: Click here to find today's column by me on the Marlins' planned makeover that will sacrifice home run power for speed and defense. The two most prominent players who might not be back are second baseman Dan Uggla and pitcher Scott Olsen. If the club spends to keep just one, who would you wish it to be? I'd pick Olsen but doubt most fans would. (By the way, Jorge Cantu finished fourth in NL comeback player of the year voting announced today. Cantu got my vote for the Marlins MVP award that went to Hanley Ramirez).

Aaa1barker      Tattoos for Really, Really Old People or the Incredibly Unhip, one in a series:

Aaa1mandarich_2      Well, no bleepin' duh!: Showtime's Inside the NFL will include, in its Wednesday show, a segment in which former offensive tackle Tony Mandarich (pictured), one of the all-time draft busts, reveals he used to use steroids. What a shock! Gee, don't some things sort of go without saying? Which reminds me...

     Ricky admits pot temptation: Dolphin Ricky Williams revealed he still sometimes has the urge to spark some weed. Is that news? I love Ricky's honesty, but wish, for his sake, he'd self-edit a bit more. A guy trying to mend his image and outlive all the pot jokes probably ought to tell a little fib and say he's past all that. Sort of reminds me when President Jimmy Carter once made headlines by admitting he lusts in his heart. Too much information, Jim!

     Giants running back arrested for standing in traffic drunk!: Click here.

     Where's Waldo? Where's Grego?: Many of you, in comments and e-mails, have expressed concern that The Herald's website redesign has made it more difficult to find my blog. You are correct and I'm not too pleased, either. I'm hoping for a remedy; stay tuned. Meantime, if you don't see my ugly mug as one of the two featured blogs on the Sports homepage, simply click on 'all blogs' to find me. I'll keep trying to make it worth the effort.

July 22, 2008

Taylor's place in Dolphins history (with poll), Wade's failure, UM hoops ranked 145th, mascots and more

     [Thursday update: Cam Cameron apparently was the Dolphins' head coach again for about 10 minutes today! The club sent out a training camp advisory to local media early this afternoon, but it was mistakenly the one from last year's camp, touting Cameron's debut. Oops! A revised release was quickly forthcoming.].

     The newest batch of miscellania, just for you...    

     Judging Jason: Now that he's gone and his Dolphins' body of work is complete, it is fair to judge Jason Taylor's place among the franchise's all-time greatest defenders. Our alphabetical finalists include defensive players who are in the Hall of Fame, individually on the team's Honor Roll, or made at least five Pro Bowls. Partake of The Daily Poll. Then leave a comment telling why you voted as you did, or who most should have been on the list but wasn't. Click here for my column making the case for Taylor. Meantime, have your say.

     [Poll update: Congrats, again. You helped make the above our 26th web poll to surpass 1,000 votes within the first 24 hours. Thanks. And keep 'em comin'!]

     [Jason Taylor postscript: Many fans who don't know any better (and a few mediaites who should) are making way, way too much of Taylor's current stated intention to play as long as he can vs. his earlier public suggestion of playing only one more season. Players who say they are retiring often don't, and vice versa. Ever heard of Brett Favre? Taylor changing his public stance to please his new team is not the least bit surprising. Nor would it be the least bit surprising if after this season he announced he was done].   

     Why D.Wade's Sports Grill failed: A lawsuit by his business partners blames Dwyane Wade's lack of Aaa1dwyane promotion. Uh uh. Sorry. Too easy. Too simple an excuse. Based on reports from two people I know who lunched separately at the just-closed Fort Lauderdale location, D.Wade's Sports Grill failed because the food was unoriginally mediocre, the service was indifferently slow, and you only get one chance to win over customers in an intensely crowded, competitive business. Photos on the wall won't cut it if the food on the plate doesn't. Investors thinks they can stick a sports star's name on a restaurant and that'll make up for what's missing on the menu and in the wait staff? No. That doesn't work even when the economy isn't bad. Wade's eponymous venture didn't fail because the Heat star didn't pimp it enough. D.Wade's Sports Grill failed because it sucked.

    Shockey a Saint. That's a good one!: The relieved Giants unloaded nuisance tight end Jeremy Shockey in a trade to New Orleans. Reasons to be glad the ex-Cane didn't somehow end up in Miami: Ego, injuries, inconsistency, me-me-me-me. 

    "We're No. 145! We're No. 145!": ESPN, in love with lists, this week ranks the most prestigious programs in the modern era of college basketball. The top 30 is yet to come. So far, UM is ranked in a tie for 145th, FAU in a tie for 233rd and FIU in a tie for 260th. Oy! Click here.

     Michelle Wie = Shameless: Michelle Wie is playing in another PGA Tour event on a sponsor's exemption. I propose a new rule: Until you prove you can win a women's tournament, you can't play in a men's tournament.

Aaa1billy

Important mascot news!: Random Evidence has learned exclusively that Billy the MarlAaa1ibisin and UM's Sebastian the Ibis are among six pro and six collegiate nominees for 2008 induction into the Mascot Hall of Fame. No state of Florida mascot has been among the 14 inductees in the Hall's four-year history. Click here for the MHOF website. Voting begins in August.

     Sporting fact that seems ridiculous but is actually true: A round of golf is 18 holes, so determined in ancient Scotland, because there are precisely 18 shots in a fifth of scotch.

     Tuna talks! Sort of: HBO has sent out a transcript of a Bill Parcells interview airing at 10 tonight. I'd give you the link, except Tuna didn't say much that was either interesting, or illuminating.

     Naughty, randy Chris Evert: Chris Evert admits in an upcoming Vogue interview that her marriage to Greg Norman began as an extramarital affair. Oh-my-god-what-a-bleepin'-SHOCK!!!!!

     Headlines You Thought You'd Never See, one in a series: Click here. My question: How'd it get past the cheddar detector.

     Check back. Probably be adding more stuff to this post later.

August 10, 2007

Love-me hate-me mascots

Aaasebastian      Your Random Evidence blog has learned that UM's venerable Sebastian the Ibis (left) is up for the national Mascot Hall of Fame. Online voting began this week.

     There truly is a Mascot Hall of Fame; click on Aaamrmetthe phrase to visit or vote. It has inducted nine members in three years, none local. There are 12 pro and college nominees this year, and the Ibis' competition includes Mr. Met, who evidently is on steroids based on the size of his head.

     Some may recall that in this blog's infant days, in October 2005, we ran a poll to name South Florida's best mascot (find that blog post here) and Sebastian won handily -- no doubt fomenting momentum for his eventual Hall nomination.

Aaabilly_2 Aaadolphtd   I revisit theAaaburnie topic nearlyAaac two years later and ask again: Who is South Florida's best sports mascot? Is it still the Ibis? Or do you prefer (left to right here) Billy the Marlin, the Dolphins' T.D., Heat's Burnie, or Stanley C. Panther? Is there one you find particularly annoying? Are you a mascot fan to begin with or do you find them stupid?

    I like mascots, but some, and in some sports, more than others. I'd rank them 1-Billy, 2-Sebastian, 3-Burnie, 4-Stanley and 5-T.D. Burnie is great on the antics but needs a costume makeover something fierce. Creepy T.D. is the reason they don't allow fans to carry high-powered rifles into the stadium.  Billy rules, although I'd like him even more if, once in a while, out of nowhere, just for fun, he ran amok, impaling a base umpire or the occasional Mermaid.