April 03, 2015

It's Final Four Saturday! But should NCAA Tournament change its format? Poll. Vote now!; plus unlucky Canes, Cuban baseball, Josh Freeman, Heat/Panthers playoff update, John Wolin & more

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

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1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 4. I'm down on Key Biscayne today to columnize off Serena Williams' presumed crushing of her hopeless opponent in the Miami Open women's final. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 20 athletes poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Canes/NIT. dead Cats, Ricky Williams sings, Marlins, Dolphins cheerleaders & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1ajoshfExcavation: Dolphins exhume human remains of quarterback Josh Freeman's career. If he surprises everybody, he might be Miami's third-string QB. If he's the Josh Freeman of the past couple of years, he'll quietly disappear by August. This signing is a low risk hit-or-miss by GM Dennis Hickey, who, while with Tampa Bay, had a big paw in the Bucs dubiously drafting Freeman in first round (17th overall) in 2009.

Cuban baseball and MLB: ESPN's Outside The Lines has a topic premiering on Sunday (9 a.m.) that may be of special interest in Miami. "Cuba On Deck?" explores the increased footprint of Cuban players in MLB and how continued defections along with warming U.S. relations will only increase their number. Click here for a 1-minute video preview.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat hanging on, Cats about done. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 8th place at 34-41 (L2), 1 game from 7th, 1/2 game ahead of 9th with 7 games left (next tonight at Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 70.3% (down 0.3) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 36-42 (W1), 3 points from 9th and 6 from 8th with 4 games left (next tonight vs. Tampa Bay). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.2% (unchanged) per sportsclubstats.com.

FINAL FOUR SATURDAY, UNLUCKY CANES FALL IN N.I.T.; TIME FOR CHANGE IN NCAA POSTSEASON?: Finally, the Final Four! Tonight it's 7-Michigan State vs. 1-Duke and 1-Wisconsin vs. 1-Kentucky, and it sure feels like the Duke-Kentucky finale everybody expects. Meanwhile, three thoughts watching Miami's men's basketball team fall 66-64 to Stanford in overtime Thursday for the NIT championship. 1) 1aa1acanesnitNobody, ever again, question whether Michael Irvin's blood runs the greenest and orange-est of any alum ever. Man he was into it. 2) Canes got unlucky, big time. First having to play without injured center Tonye Jekiri and point guard Angel Rodriguez, two big losses. And also that big, dubious call against UM with 3.4 seconds left. I thought Miami was the better team, best in the NIT. Which brings us to ... 3) The NCAA should consider retooling its hoops postseason format so that the NCAA Tournament invites the 64 best teams in the country, period, without automatic bids for small-conference winners. Let the Grade 2 and 3 conferences have their own tournament or meld into the NIT. Hampton at 16-17 gets in the Big Tournament but Miami does not? Anybody outside of Hampton think that makes much sense? With my suggested format there still would be Cinderellas -- somebody gotta be seeded 16th -- except Cinderella would be bigger, and better, and the No. 1s would have a challenge from the start, and in every round. Curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll and say why?

Poll result: Jordan top athlete of past 20 years, but runnerup a surprise: We invited you to name your top five athletes from ESPN's list of the 20 greatest of the past 20 years (that means the maximum vote for any individual was 20 percent), and predictably Micheal Jordan won. But your runnerup, Michael Phelps, was a surprise at least to me. Your results, with ESPN rank in parentheses:

1aa1amj1. Michael Jordan 15.7% (1); 2. Michael Phelps 10.5% (9); 3. LeBron James 10.2% (2); 4. Tiger Woods 10.0% (3); 5. Usain Bolt 6.4% (16); 6. Tom Brady 6.3% (4); 7. Serena Williams 5.9% (6); 8. Roger Federer 5.7% (5); 9. Lionel Messi 4.6% (12); 10. Derek Jeter 4.1% (10).

11. Floyd Mayweather 3.7% (17); 12. Peyton Manning 3.3% (7); 13. Tim Duncan 3.0% (14); 14. Kobe Bryant 2.3% (8); 15. Lance Armstrong 1.9% (15); T16. Barry Bonds 1.6% (19); T16. Brett Favre 1.6% (15); T18. Sidney Crosby 1.3% (20); T18. Shaquille O'Neal 1.3% (11); 20. Mia Hamm 0.9% (18).

My vote? In order, it was Jordon, James, Woods, Williams and Jeter.

FOR THE LOVE OF JOHN WOLIN: One of my career mentors and best friends was John Wolin (pictured), a Miami Herald editor, reporter and beloved curmudgeon for 21 years. He died in 2004 after a life 1aa1ajwolinremarkable only partly because John was born with achondroplastic dwarfism that led to gradually increasing paralysis. Long before it became politically correct to refer to dwarfs as "little people," Wolin cut to the chase and disarmingly called himself "a bald, crippled midget." He was one of a kind. He would make you laugh and break your heart. He was one of the most passionate journalists I have ever known. When we moved into our new house John gave me an elaborate set of wrenches that I still have. His beautiful now-grown daughter is my godchild. John lives on unforgettably in the memory of those he knew but also in a scholarship fund in his name at Florida International University, benefiting aspiring journalists. The fund is now accepting donations at GoFundMe/JohnWolin. Those interested in additional information may also visit FIU's Wolin scholarship page here, or call the university's School of Journalism & Mass Communication at (305) 919-5625. The man was extraordinary. May readers blessed with generosity consider finding the cause worthy.

WHY? BECAUSE IT WAS FRIDAY THAT'S WHY!:

 

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March 12, 2015

Suh Effect poll: Setting the bar on Dolphins expectations. Vote now!; plus Canes/FIU hoops, verdict on Whiteside, Heat/Panthers playoff-chase update, robot sportswriters & more

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1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 12. Congrats to my friend Bryan Baucom (pictured) for his 500th softball coaching victory with St. Thomas Aquinas High. He also is offensive coordinator for STA's vaunted football program -- one of South Florida's most successful prep coaches. 2) Feeling sexist or shallow? Click here for a video on hottest quarterback WAGs. (Yes, Lauren Tannehill gets a mention). 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dirty Town: On Suh and Whiteside with poll, Canes/FIU basketball, Marlins future, delights of Twitter & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

It's back! Our annual March Madness Haiku Challenge!: An annual spring fixture in this blog is our March Madness Haiku Challenge. You know the drill. Haikus (17-syllable poems) about the coming NCAA Tournament. Stay tuned. Rules and details to come.

Postseason hoops: Canes tonight, FIU eliminated: Miami won its ACC Tournament opener last night over Virginia Tech, 59-49, in Greensboro, N.C., thanks to Sheldon McClellan's 16 points, strong defense and an awful opponent. But UM likely must beat a very good Notre Dame tonight at 9 to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament. FIU also won yesterday, beating Texas-San Antonio, 57-54, in the Conference USA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala., but the Golden Panthers were eliminated this afternoon by Texas-El Paso, 83-71, to finish their season 16-17. 

PLAYOFF CHASE UPDATE: Heat/Panthers status entering Thursday: A new daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending up in 8th place at 29-35 (W1), 1/2 game from 7th and 1/2 game from 9th with 18 games left (next Friday at Toronto). Heat playoff likelihood: 40.4% (up 11.9) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 9th place at 29-37 (W1), 6 points from 8th and 1 point from 10th with 16 games left (next tonight vs. Winnipeg). Cats playoff likelihood: 4.5% (up 0.1) per sportsclubstats.com.

SUH IMPACT: SETTING THE BAR ON DOLPHINS EXPECTATIONS: I attended Ndamukong Suh's Dolphins introduction yesterday and smiled when he was asked about the pressure one him. The question was
1aa1andammisdirected. The pressure is not on Suh. It is on (more than ever) coach Joe Philbin. As I write of the Suh signing in today's column -- love quoting myself! -- "It does not guarantee you will win or succeed. What it does is leave you out of excuses to explain why if you don't." So the question for you is how the Suh signing has impacted how you feel about the Dolphins and their chances this coming season. As I also note -- click on A Man Named Suh for the entire column -- the Pats are still the Pats and the active Bills and Jets both have improved, too. Factoring all of that, let's set an early bar on expectations for the 2015 Dolphins. Take a dip in our poll. Vote not for the option you hope for, but for the option you realistically expect, and say why.

1aa1adansuhPictorial: Behind-the-scenes photos from Ndamukong Suh's first day as a Dolphin: Click here to access around 50 behind-the-scenes photographs from Ndamukong Suh's first official day as a Miami Dolphin on Wednesday, courtesy the team. One of the photos, of Suh meeting Dan Marino, is pictured at left.

Poll result: There is concern for Whiteside's Heat future due to temper: We asked if you were very, somewhat or not concerned that Hassan Whiteside's temper and immaturity were imperiling his future with the Heat. It was close, with 38.5 percent voting "somewhat," 37.8 "very" and 23.7 "not." That's 76.3% expressing some concern.

1aa1arobotTHE SINISTER RISE OF ROBOT SPORTSWRITERS: Click here for the sad backstory. Well, probably it's more weird than sad. The robot actually is a software program that is fed data about, say, a game result, processes that information, and produces a news story based on the data provided. So, Big Brother is not only watching, now he's writing, too. I think my job is safe (for now), but who knows? Pretty soon there  might be an app for that.

WHEN SOMETHING SAD TURNS HEARTWARMING: Some fans at a middle-school basketball game in Kenosha, Wisc., were teasing a cheerleader who has Down Syndrome. Three players walked off the court to confront the bullies. Story here.

1aa1agronkbowl"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of Rob Gronkowski holding a bowling pin. Thank you." Dear Reader: I'll try, but can't imagine where I'd get one. 

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February 19, 2015

How do you feel about Heat's trade for Goran Dragic? Poll. Vote now!; plus ominous Bosh news (updated), athlete-media relationship poll (it's close!), sign-spinners, Mount Rushmore/QBs result & more

1aa1asheep1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20. I'm holed up at Random Evidence Laboratories today pulling from nonexistence the Sunday notes-column package. 2) Thursday was the Chinese New Year, year of the sheep. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mount Rushmore of QBs poll, Westminster dog show, Tiger verdict, false racism, Lesley Gore & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1aboshcOn Dragic trade, Bosh medical update: A strange Thursday night-into-Friday to be a Heat fan. You are elated (most likely) over the Goran Dragic trade but also holding your breath over Chris Bosh's medical situation. Click on Riley Wins Again for my latest column. It's on the big trade but touches on Bosh, too. Bosh is hospitalized for tests and, as I was first to report last night via Twitter, initial concerns centered on the lungs and a possible blood clot. We await official word from the club today but now have heard there are believed to be clots in both lungs. We wish Bosh the best and hope for the most positive news possible but fear the news may instead be that Bosh will miss the reminder of this NBA season.

1aa1adragicHEAT ACQUIRE GORAN DRAGIC FOR PICKS, PLAYERS: The Heat on Thursday acquired elite point guard Goran Dragic (and his brother Zoran) from Phoenix while giving up reserves Norris Cole, Danny Granger, Shawne Williams and Justin Hamilton and two first-round draft picks. I love the deal and you'd click on Riley Wins Again to read my latest column. But enough of me. Your opinion of the trade is welcomed here. Vote in the poll below and say why you feel as you do in the Comments section.

SHOULD PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES BE REQUIRED TO DEAL WITH THE MEDIA?: That wasn't even a question, once. They did and that was that. But the relationship is becoming more and more adversarial

1aa1amediaml 1aa1amediakdand there may be no turning back. We have seen the actions of Seahawk Marshawn Lynch, grudgingly making himself available to avoid fines but hardly cooperating. More recently we have seen the Thunder's Kevin Durant express frustration with the media and his obligations. Many players, especially superstars, can get their message out via personal websites or social media and feel they don't need the mainstream/traditional media. Predictably, as a member of the latter, I don't feel it is too much of an obligation or burden for leagues and teams to expect that players would make themselves available to the reporters who cover them regularly. I think a mutually respectful, working relationship continues to benefit both sides. You may agree, or not. Let's find out. Take a dip in our poll and say why in the Comments section.

Poll result: It's Montana, Brady, Marino and Unitas on your QBs Mount Rushmore: We gave you 12 choices and four votes, and your mountain-worthy quartet were Joe Montana with 20.2 percent, Tom Brady with 16.7%, Dan Marino with 16.3% and Johnny Unitas with 12.3%. Great response, and solid results! Close but no mountain to Peyton Manning with 9.9%. (The maximum percentage was 25, so that means Montana, if everyone cast all four votes, was named on 80.8% of all ballots).

 

SIGN-SPINNERS UNIONIZE, SEEKS PAY HIKE, BENEFITS

        Faked-up News Network (FUNN) -- Sign-spinners have begun to flex their muscle. The Laborers International Union of North America has agreed to represent the estimated 60,000 American street-corner 1aa1asignspinnersworkers whose job is to hold, point and spin mostly arrow-shaped signs that aim to direct motorists to local stores but have the opposite effect as annoyed drivers barrel past shaking their heads at the aesthetic blight on their communities. "These beacons of business are doing essential work for chump pay," explained LIUNA communications laision Veronica Forkenplatter. "While it is true most of our spinners are inebriated homeless folks posing a traffic hazard or disinterested college kids listening to ear-buds or on cell phones, many of our other spinners are former Broadway dancers or other defrocked entertainers looking for a creative outlet. In fact we are trying to confirm -- there is national-spokesman potential in this -- that Joel Grey is currently soft-shoe spinning in New York at age 82."

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November 17, 2014

NASCAR dodged a bullet at Homestead; plus Stanton agrees, Dolphins in (for now) amid NFL tumult, Gary Shelton, Kim Kardashian as a horse & more

1aa1akimk1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17. Have you seen Kim Kardashian's nudies in Paper magazine? Click on image to see her equine version enlarged.  2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall to FSU,CSM poll, Stanton as Marlins' 'A Christmas Carol', Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stanton deal finalized: CBS Sports reporting today (and the Herald verifying) that Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins have agreed upon the 13-year, $325 million extension that first splashed as national news on Friday. It is expected to become official at a news conference Wednesday.  

BIG DAY FOR HARVICK AND HOMESTEAD, BUT NASCAR DODGES A BULLET: It was a big day for Kevin Harvick in his No. 4 Chevrolet on Sunday but a bigger day for 1aa1aharvickNASCAR down at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
(Click on Perfect Finish for my full column from the track). NASCAR dodged a bullet, though, and even as it celebrated the end of its season with a worthy winner in Harvick, flaws in its new Chase for the Cup format were revealed. There was a real possibility that runnerup Ryan Newman might have emerged as NASCAR's season Sprint Cup champion without winning Sunday -- or winning a single race all year. That would have been a first in NACAR's 67-year history. Chairman Brian France said the new system is supposed to put an emphasis on winning races, not points-building consistency, yet two of the Final Four drivers eligible to win it all entered Sunday's race with either zero (Newman) or only one (Denny Hamlin) season win. So tweak the Chase format once again. The Cote Plan: Only drivers who haved won a race entering Homestead are eligible for the season crown. This year that would have meant 15 drivers: Brad KeselowskI (6 wins), Joey Logano (5), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4), Jeff Gordon (4), Harvick (4), Jimmie Johnson (4), Carl Edwards (2), plus eight men with one win. Keep the new elimination format that whittles the field to an eventual Final Four, but start with only race winners.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: DOLPHINS IN (FOR NOW), NFL IN TUMULT: Miami as of this morning would be the 1aa1adol6sixth and final AFC playoff seed ITSET (if the season ended today). The Fins would edge San Diego and Baltimore (both also 6-4) on the tiebreaker for best conference winning percentage. Of more intrigue to me right now is the Super Bowl outlook after a crazy weekend in which SB favorite Denver and reigning champ Seattle both lost. Prediction: When the updated title odds come out Tuesday, the Patriots will be the new No. 1 and the Packers will be second, The formerly favored Broncos will now be third, with the Seahawks fourth and the (league-leading 9-1) Cardinals rounding out the top five.

GARY SHELTON'S NEW VENTURE: My sports-journalism colleague and friend Gary Shelton has left the
1aa1agsheltonTampa Bay Times after a stellar 25-year career; click here for his farewell column. He is now flying solo with a new venture: garysheltonsports.com. I invite you to check it out -- especially if you are from Tampa/St. Pete or interested in those teams, because Gary's is the voice of authority on sports in that area. Also, he's on Twitter @Gary_Shelton. Veteran Miami Herald readers may remember Gary from his time here in 1984-90, when his beats included the Dolphins. He was really good. Still is.

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August 07, 2014

LeBatard reacts to ESPN suspension for LeBron billboards; plus Oden's arrest, Scott Mitchell at 366 lbs, Dolphins calendar, unfriendly us & more

1aa1ame1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 7. If you doubt the Le Batard billboards are causing a big reaction, check out the screengrab at right. I'm not a "trending" kind of guy, but trended for a bit after I Tweeted out a link to the blog item below. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Al Golden's greatest challenge, Stanton MVP odds, emaciated Gap model and more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Coming soon: I Defy Logic, Time and Distance: I plan to kick a 50-yard field goal. I'll share details in the blog soon, so stay tuned.

ESPN SUSPENDS LE BATARD FOR TWO DAYS FOR LEBRON STUNT: [See item directly below for what led to suspension] ESPN today yanked Dan Le Batard off the air from his radio and television shows and will have him off again Friday as punishment for putting up billboards in Akron needling LeBron James. The ESPN statement: "Dan will be off the air for two days, returning Monday. His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN's standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance." Le Batard described the stunt as "fun anarchy" in comments exclusively in this blog yesterday. The two-day suspension, though a wrist-slap, is comically unnecessary. It's also this: Great publicity for Dan and his two ESPN platforms. I asked Dan for a comment. He just texted me: "I guess ESPN didn't find it all quite as funny as I did."

LEBATARD RADIO SHOW'S STEALTH ATTACK ON LEBRON'S AKRON HOMECOMING NOW UNDERWAY!: It is underway, and we had it first. Radio star Dan Le Batard of ESPN and Miami's The Ticket has today 1aa1adanbillbdbegun to unleash a good-natured advertising surprise on LeBron James as the Cavaliers celebrate his return to Cleveland with a homecoming in Akron on Friday. (Although "surprise" may be too strong a word considering he has yakked about it on-air as, in his words, an unabashed "attention grab disguised as a cause.") The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz initially considered full-page ads that pictured James' two championship rings won in Miami and read, "You're Welcome, LeBron" -- a gentle jab at LeBron not thanking Miami fans in his departure essay. When that idea was rejected by self-righteous Cleveland and Akron newspapers, LeBatard moved on to a no-longer secret Plan B now underway: Billboards! Pictured is what we think is the first of several to go up around Akron, the photo texted to me by a friend who lives just outside the city. Show producer Mike Ryan will be in Akron on Friday to give the show a live presence. There are rumors of an additional tier of the ad-assault that remains top secret, perhaps to be revealed on Friday. I pledged to not share more than I have at this time so that LeBron's "people" would not have enough advance notice or information to crush the plan. You especially don't (bleep) with Nike, which (not a lot of people know this) has its own CIA and military, including rumors of nuclear arms. Update: Dan just texted me his explanation for why he's doing this: "It's just fun anarchy. All meant in fun -- which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine. Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don't tell anyone there is no actual movement."

Greg Oden arrested: TMZ reports Greg Oden has been arrested for beating his ex-girlfriend. Story here. Oden was iffy/doubtful to be back with Heat even before this. Now? Forget it.

SCOTT MITCHELL WEIGHS 366 POUNDS: I can now state, as a matter of fact, that I once wrote a 1aa1ascottmcolumn suggesting the Miami Dolphins trade Dan Marino for a man who weighs 366 pounds. Quick explainer: Back in the early '90s, I wrote that the Dolphins should look into trading Marino, who then still had much trade value, because Mitchell at the time was a young, hot QB coming off a big season for Miami after Marino's Achilles injury. Well, fast forward to now. The long-retired Mitchell weighs 366 pounds (pictured) and appears on the new season of TV's The Biggest Loser weight-loss show starting in September. I'll end the item with that because A) it isn't nice to make fun of fat people, and B) OK I may have been wrong on that trade-Marino column, in retrospect. There. Are you happy!?

1aa1adolswimURGENT DOLPHIN CHEERLEADERS UPDATE: Your Dolphin cheerleaders this Saturday will unveil their 2015 swimsuit calendar, the strongest evidence yet that there will be a 2015 despite scattered reports of impending Armageddon. A Dolphin cheerleader of undisclosed month is pictured, her smile and calm outward demeanor yet another reassurance that everything little t'ing gonna be alright.

"WE'RE NO. 10! WE'RE...!": The magazine Conde Nast Traveler emits its annual list of America's 10 friendliest and unfriendliest cities, and top rankings go to Charleston, S.C. for most welcoming and to Newark, N.J. for threatening to kill you. Two Florida cities earn a mention -- Key West tied for eighth most friendly, and our own Miami checking in as 10th unfriendliest. "[Bleep] that and [bleep] the [bleep-bleepers] in charge of the list," said the city of Miami in a prepared statement.

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August 03, 2014

On Ray Rice's punishment. New poll. Vote now; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, Canton class, Canes edge Heat in next-champ race & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 4. Just looked up "excess" in the dictionary and saw a Dolphins scrimmage being covered as if it were a game or meant anything. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami Big 5 next-champion poll, Dolphins odds, Marlins screwed, MLB trade deadline, Riley's restraint, Sharknado & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

On evolution of sports media: Our latest column on Sunday uses the national debate over Ray Rice's crime and punishment (see related poll below) as a springboard to explore how athletes haven't changed, we're just watching more closely. Click on No Secrets Left to read.

ON RAY RICE'S CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: This poll is a bit tardy but still current because we keep 1aa1arricetalking about this. Ravens running back Ray Rice knocks out his then-fiance', captured on security video, and this week gets a two-game NFL suspension (plus a three-game fine) that many see at too lenient. Subsequently ESPN's Stephen A. Smith gets in trouble for his response, Ravens fans get criticized for cheering Rice at training camp, and anybody who defends the light punishment is shouted down as somehow condoning domestic violence. Crazy. I abhor the cowardice of spousal abuse but thought the punishment was fair considering Rice's previously clean record. I'd also note that missing two NFL games is the equivalent of a 20-game suspension in baseball. It isn't nothing. But that's just me. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll, vote and say why you feel as you do.

CANTON'S LACKLUSTER CLASS OF 2014: Seven new members paraded into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend, and (if I might rain on said parade) it isn't a class that excites all that much. Michael 1aa1acantonStrahan is the national star of the bunch, but his having played in New York and his post-career TV celebrity have as much do to with it as anything. Strahan had only two more career sacks than Jason Taylor, who is considered a likely but not certain Hall of Famer. Derrick Brooks and Walter Jones are the group's other Canton-quality incomers, but neither is a national star outside of his market, with Jones an offensive lineman and Brooks not resonating beyond Tampa/St. Pete. The remaining four guys are borderline inductees Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey, Andre Reed and Aeneas Williams.

Poll result: Epic! Canes edge Heat for next-champion: We asked which of Miami's Big 5 teams will next win a championship, and Hurricanes football winning a national title edged the Heat winning the NBA Finals by 39.4 percent to 37.5% in a two-way battle. It was a tight as any poll we have ever had until UM finally nudged ahead. Marlins winning a World Series got some love with 11.9%. A Dolphins Super Bowl drew only 8.4%, and a Panthers Stanley Cup 2.8%.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot 1aa1ahotbuttonButton is a newish feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package in the print edition (newspaper) is on hiatus until later in August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. Dolphins: Preseason opener: Fins fortified O-line by signing veteran center Samson Satele as they prepare for Friday's exhibition opener in Atlanta. You know how last night's scrimmage didn't tell us much? Friday night will tell us more, but barely.

2. UM football: Practice gets started: QB Kevin Olsen got suspended from the opener for a failed drug test. The Hurricanes players who are not knuckleheads and are not suspended will stage their first preseason practice on Tuesday.

3. Marlins: Reversal of fortunes: Fish had their ninth walkoff win of season last night to end three-game losing streak in a week marred by an egregious MLB home-plate replay reversal that cost Miami a win.

4. Team USA: Paul George injury: Pacers star Paul George suffered a gruesome broken leg as Team USA prepared for the World Cup in Spain. On the bright side, the season-ending injury helps the Heat. Ouch! (Too soon?)

5. Soccer: Guinness finale: The eight-team Guinness International Champions Cup is down to English powers Manchester United vs. Liverpool for Monday's title match at Dolphins stadium. Should be a good match, although a finale beyond the EPL would've been nice.

6. Heat: Riley speaks: Pat Riley, angry over the way LeBron James left, bit his tongue and played nice in a teleconference with reporters. Meantime Cleveland's "homecoming" party for James is planned for this Friday. Maybe it'll rain?

7. NFL: Rice wrist-slap: Many decried as too lenient the NFL's two-game suspension of Ravens RB Ray Rice for domestic violence. Rice responded by punching his critics.

8. MLB: Trade flurry: Jon Lester, David Price and Yoenis Cespedes were among the stars changing uniforms at the trade deadline. In the Bargain Division, the Marlins acquired Jarred Cosart.

9. Canton: Seven parade in: Michael Strahan, Walter Jones and Derrick Brooks headlined new seven-man class in Pro Football Hall of Fame, but highlight was Jim Kelly, fighting cancer, throwing a pass to old team and inductee Andre Reed.

10. Golf: PGA Championship: Season's fourth and final major finds Tiger Woods' the second favorite at 10-1 odds after Rory McIlroy's 7-1. Y'all do realize Tiger hasn't won a major since 2008, right?

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June 12, 2014

G4: Spurs 107, Heat 86: Routed again, Miami down 3-1, all but out of hope as LeBron gets no help; also postgame video, updated MVP table, Melo & more

1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 13. The National Congress of American Indians has an eloquently powerful new ad campaign against the Washington Redskins nickname. Click here for the 2-minute video. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Spurs Game 3 loss and postgame video, postseason MVP standings, LeBatard wins ratings, glamorous life of sports writer (not), Futblog! and more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Check out the debut of our separate World Cup FUTBLOG! in the post directly below this one.

Click on Dream Crashing for my column from the arena off last night's Heat loss.

G4: SAN ANTONIO 107, HEAT 86: MIAMI DOWN 3-1 AFTER LEBRON SCORES 28, NOBODY ELSE SHOWS UP: Stunning, this game. This performance or lack of by Miami. With everything on the line the Heat barely showed up in a 21-point loss that puts Miami down 3-1 in the Finals and fighting for its three-peat life as the series heads to San Antonio for Game 5 Sunday. The Heat had been on a 13-0 run following a playoff loss before the second straight defeat. LeBron James scored 28 and hardly anybody else bothered to show up, with Chris Bosh next-highest Heat scorer with 12 points. Dwyane Wade had 10 on miserable 3-for-13 shooting. What do I mean by "all but out of hope" in the blog's headline? This: No team in NBA Finals history has overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the championship. Click on Dream Crashing for my column from the arena off last night's loss. ..... Original post: Question: Can the Heat win tonight without Melo? Just kidding. But they'd better. I resist saying or writing "must win" because it's a cliche due to too-casual use. People say "must win" when it literally is not; they use it interchangeably for "important game." Anyway, tonight may not be a must-win literally 1aa1aheatspursg4 1aa1amiasafor Miami (trailing the Spurs 2-1), but it is in every other sense when you fathom the alternative. No team in NBA history has trailed 3-1 in the Finals and rallied to win the title, and the Heat
1aa1alebtimdown 3-1 would need two of those three straight wins to come in San Antonio. Impossible? No. Unlikely. Oh, very. That's what tonight is about: Keeping three-peat hopes realistically alive. The pressureis all on Miami coming off a thorough Game 3 spanking on its home floor. The Heat has played 48 consecutive playoff games since last losing two in a row -- 13-0 following losses in that streak -- but the Spurs convey the impression they may be good enough to beat Miami even when the Heat is playing well. And the Heat were miles from playing well the other night. A few of the improvements needed tonight for the Heat to have a chance in Game 4: Hugely better, intense defense by Miami. A positive impact by point guard Mario Chalmers, who has been a Finals nightmare. More involvement from Chris Bosh, who took but four shots Tuesday. And more composure after Tuesday's 20 turnovers including a Finals-record seven by LeBron James. I'd also expect to see James in attack-paint mode after getting to the free-throw line only three times in the last game. The two-time defending champs had better play like it's a must win tonight, because, in all but the literal sense, it is.

OUR GAME 4 POSTGAME VIDEO: That'll be Heat beat writer Joseph (Goody) Goodman on the left looking natty. I'm the guy who looks like a homeless man who wandered in off Biscayne:

 

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Last night: 1. LeBron James, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. James Jones. The updated standings through 19 playoff games, entering Sunday's Game 5: LeBron James 45 points, Dwyane Wade 25, Chris Bosh 21, Ray Allen 8, Rashard Lewis 7, Chris Andersen 3, James Jones 3, Norris Cole 2.

WHO IS BOBBY RAMOS AND WHY IS HE HAUNTING THE HEAT WITH AMUSINGLY ACCUSATORY QUESTIONS?: 1aa1abobbyramosI'm really looking forward to tonight's Heat-Spurs Game 4 in Miami, especially the pregame or postgame interview sessions in case Bobby Ramos materializes again to rock the lavender shirt and pose lengthy, meandering, accusatory questions to the Heat. (Actually I am praying for a Spurs loss and the Ramos Treatment for a moody, hairtrigger Gregg Popovich, because there could be a delightful explosion). Ramos, the NBA Finals' Media Internet Sensation Because We're Bored, demanded Erik Spoelstra explain why his team had been "stomped" in Game 3, eliciting the classic one-word response, "Clearly." Ramos later demanded at length that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade explain why the team's offense and defense had been so "lackluster," a bizarre grilling that found James stifling laughter and Wade offering an indulgent, "The problem is we're down 2 games to 1. That's the problem." Ramos is the latest face of a growing trend I call The Quasi-Journalist. He is a former Connecticut cop who evidently runs a small website called the Bottom Line, which has crashed for a lack of bandwidth. He previously masterminded Bobby's Lobby, a blog last tended in 2010. In the social media age, the media pool is murky and crowded now with all manner of mysterious bloggers and sort-of reporters, with legitimate and mainstream media now made to share the same umbrella with a "reporter" in a wedding dress proposing marriage to Tom Brady. It has become likely now that sharing a row in any major-event interview room might be an on-air star for ESPN, a columnist for the New York Times, and Ralphie Bimtoddle of TheRalph.com, who has watched no games but consistently delights his 29 Twitter followers. Into Super Bowls and NBA Finals wander all sorts of Quasi-Journalists because evidently the vetting in the credentialing process now consists entirely of you asking for a credential and the NBA saying, sure Ralphie. This is not a direct slam on Bobby Ramos, mostly because he looks like a guy who could beat me up with a well-aimed stare. Quick advice for Bobby tonight: Popovich especially after a loss enjoys questions that are never-ending and second-guessing in nature and actually more statements than questions. Please don't ask until I'm in the room!

ESPN SAYS HEAT IN DISCUSSIONS TO SIGN CARMELO ANTHONY: The nut graph in a new story by ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein: "Sources told ESPN.com that Heat officials and the team's leading 1aa1abig4players have already started to explore their options for creating sufficient financial flexibility to make an ambitious run at adding New York Knicks scoring machine Carmelo Anthony this summer in free agency." Click HERE for the full story, and HERE for a subsequent detailed analysis on how Miami could make it work under the salary cap. [Update: Chris Bosh said today the Big 3 have not discussed such a thing and called it "very unlikely" to happen]. ESPN saying it doesn't necessarily mean it's true or will happen, but it does mean it's loud, and now whistles and clangs over the ongoing NBA Finals that resume Thursday here with San Antonio up 2-1. It's an ill-timed distraction for the Heat. The story speculates that key Heat players may be willing to make yet more financial sacrifices to make this work, noting that LeBron James is doing fabulously off the court at the bank, including a $30 million windfall due him related to Apple's $3 billion purchase of the Beats By Dre company. The story is believable for a few reasons. The two writers are credible; Windhorst because he is a lifelong friend of LeBron's. James and Anthony are close friends. And Miami (see below) needs to beef up its roster even if it manages to three-peat. Melo, of course, would be Grade-A beef on the offensive end. So, perhaps, the NBA's era of raging jealousy against Heat mastermind Pat Riley sees no end as the Big 3 plots to become the Big 4.

1aa1achalmersBAD: MARIO CHALMERS' PLAY. WORSE: NEEDING HIM THIS MUCH: That's the gist of my latest column, newly online and in today's/Thursday's inky pulp editions. Click on Missing The Point (Guard) for the full column. Chalmers has been awful in the Finals, but needing him this badly underlines a larger issue: The Heat's glaring lack of depth beyond the Big 3 when contrasted with the Spurs.

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May 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 20, 2014

G2: Heat 87, Indiana 83: Miami ties series as LeBron, Wade surge in 4Q; plus Hoosiers hate me, Heat Postseason MVP standings (updated) & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 21. It's (not) Radio Wednesday, after all. Not in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today because of flight delays returning from Indy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Pacers Game 1, Heat most-disliked-opponent poll, NBA Game of Thrones, Canes baseball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

Click on LeBron And Wade To The Rescue for my column from Indy off last night's Heat's game 2 win. And see our postgame video just below.

G2: HEAT 87, PACERS 83: JAMES, WADE COMBINE FOR 22 IN 4TH TO LEAD RALLY: LeBron James and Dwyane combined for 22 of their 44 points in the fourth quarter to rally Miami to a series tying 87-83 win last night in Indy. They shot 9-for-12 in the fourth and scored the team's final 20 points in the last 7:51 of the game. Wade was 5-for-5 in the fourth. It was an amazing statement by the Heat's two best players, and just when absolutely needed. Honorable mention as well to Norris Cole, who scored 11 off the bench and served up some great late defense to cool off Lance Stephenson. And to Birdman Andersen, who had a team-best 12 rebounds. Original post: The Heat have not lost consecutive games in the playoffs since the 2012 conference finals, a span of 39 postseason games. Tonight in Indianapolis, Miami must keep that streak alive to avoid going down 2-0 1aa1aheatg2 1aa1aheatpacers2in these Eastern finals. The home team in this rivalry has won eight straight games and 13 of the past 15 -- another hurdle the Heat must overcome. "We understand the urgency of a response," as coach Erik Spoelstra put it. Said LeBron James: "You go in with the mindset that's it's must-win." Indiana's 107-96 victory in Game 1 Sunday was thorough, wire to wire. Tonight the Heat must be better across the board, but especially on the defensive end. Udonis Haslem starting place of Shane Battier will help there, and that in turn will allow LeBron to be a perimeter defender again and not expend energy battling David West. Another help. It'll take more than more intense urgency on defense, though. Miami must shoot much better on 3's than Sunday's abysmal 6-for-23. Must get more than Game 1's paltry four offensive rebounds. And must get to the free-throw line a lot more (that starts with LeBron and Dwyane Wade) to not repeat Indiana's absurd 37-15 FT advantage in Game 1. Expect LeBron to be in take-charge mode and lead an inspired Heat effort.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. From Heat-Pacers Game 2 tonight: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Norris Cole are 1-2-3. Updated standings through 11 playoff games, after tonight: LeBron James 26 points, Dwyane Wade 18, Chris Bosh 9, Ray Allen 7, Chris Andersen 2, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

POSTGAME VIDEO: Heat beat writer Joseph "Goodie" Goodman and myself, the untelegenic guy on the right, discuss last night's Heat win: 

 

INDIANA HATES ME, LORD I CAN'T GO BACK THERE: My email in-box and Twitter feed has been engorged 1aa1alebronfatheadwith hundreds of angry messages in response to this column by me off Game 1. Actually it was in response to one paragraph low in the column, in which I refer to Pacers fans holding up large photos depicting LeBron James (pictured) and Dwyane Wade wearing pink bras. In addition Wade has a pacifier in his mouth and LeBron has a bow on his headband. I thought the bow lent the visual effect of an Aunt Jemima-style kerchief that seemed a bit racist to me. Not saying that was the intent, but for me it crossed a line. That was part of a column detour in which I discussed how rude Pacers fans can be when it comes to the Heat. (And I didn't even mention the 'F--- LeBron' T-shirts). Anyway, sensitive Indianapolisites have reacted as if I called their entire city racist, when my remark was limited to one particular questionable image. (I especially enjoyed a comically outraged, 1aa1amebowhuffing-and-puffing response in something called the 'Indy Sports Report'). Postscript: I have seen on Twitter that the Pacers folks in charge of the "G2 Zone," a dedicated section of rowdy fans where the image shown appeared, have ordered it not to be repeated at Game 2 tonight. And sure enough, I see the image nowhere in the crowd. Update: One of my haters in Indy posted the photo of me at left on Twitter. It's funny. Unlike many Pacers fans, I have a sense of humor. The photo is doctored, of course. The bow was added. However, that's actually my body. Further update: A Twitterer told me folks from this area don't like to be called Indianapolisites. They prefer to be called Hoosiers Whosiers.

Poll result: Pacers most disliked opponent: I think this is an in-the-moment result, at least the lopsidedness of it, but I asked, you answered and 57.4 percent called Indiana the Heat's most disliked opponent. New York Knicks came in second at 17.4% and then Chicago Bulls at 11.7%, with four other options splitting what was left.


1aa1aumpA GOOD DEED. BUT STILL WEIRD:
Major League Baseball umpires, in town for tonight's Marlins game, visited patients today at Miami Children's Hospital. I am trying to picture the look on a young patient's face when into his hospital room strides an umpire in full regalia. I'm guessing the look would be a cross between fright and bewilderment.

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May 08, 2014

On Dolphins' choice of OT Ja'Wuan James: New poll. Vote now!; plus Miami cruising after G2 win, Heat 3 Stars named

1aa1legend1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 9. I'm back up in Random Evidence Laboratories today inventing Sunday's Sunday notes-column package. 2) This week marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the Bob Marley classic album, 'Legend,' the track-listing of which I know by heart from repeated listening. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Nets Game 1, hot Marlins, Mountain Dew, Cowell cat & more. 4) Join us Twitter @gregcote.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF DOLPHINS' FIRST-ROUND PICK? VOTE NOW!: The Dolphins last night 1aa1jawuanjamesselected Tennessee offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James 19th overall in the first round. James (pictured) unquestionably had a solid college career, starting 49 games in the tough SEC. But, also unquestionably, he was a reach at 19 and almost certainly could have been had in a trade-down. Plenty of experts even saw him as a likely second-rounder. Clearly the Dolphins and new general manager Dennis Hickey targeted position need over "best available athlete," a conservative tactic by a rookie GM. What do you think? The poll question means to be all-encompassing. I want to know what you think of who Miami picked based on where he was chosen and the quality of the player weighed against team needs. I also want you to factor in the club's decision to not trade up or down, and the selection made vs. other players who Miami could have chosen but did not. Overall: Your gut feeling on the team's top pick is what? Vote and say why.

IT WAS THRILLING THURSDAY: MIAMI IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Rare was the single day, like last night, when Miami's three biggest pro teams all were on a main stage this big, with the Heat hosting Brooklyn in Game 2 of their NBA playoff series, the Dolphins in the first round of the NFL Draft, and the hot Marlins awakening in first place in the NL East. Enjoy, South Florida...

G2: HEAT 94, BROOKLYN 82: MIAMI UP 2-0, IN CHARGE: LeBron James' 22 points, Chris Bosh's 18, Dwyane Wade's 14 and Ray Allen's 13 off the bench led Miami last night. Brooklyn tried to deny the Heat the paint; nothing worked. Click on Benjamin Button for my column off the game, on the spark Miami is getting in this series from a reenergized Allen. Click here for a postgame video with myself and Heat writer Joe Goodman. Original post: Miami's comfortable Game 1 win here Tuesday night will have been relegated all but meaningless unless the Heat hold serve again tonight and 1aa1g2 1aa1heatnets2carry a 2-0 series lead up to Brooklyn. It'll be interesting to note what adjustments are seen, and whether Miami stays with Shane Battier in the starting five. Adjusting is now the burden of Brooklyn, though. The Nets cannot beat Miami playing smallball but have few options, unless the ghost of Kevin Garnett can be the offensive and defensive presence he wasn't in G1. The Nets' 4-0 regular season advantage over Miami is long-gone and irrelevant. Brooklyn must now prove it belongs on the same floor with Miami and can make this the competitive series we thought we were getting.

Attention to Stitches has me in stitches: So before the previous game, in the Heat lockeroom, Chris "Birdman" Andersen is yelling singing the refrain of a song called Brick In Yo Face, by a Miami rapper, 1aa1birdman




1aa1stitches18, who calls himself Stitches. (Read interview with the kid here). The song is basic angry-shout rap, not bad but derivative of hundred things heard before. It's about cocaine, money, guns. The usual. Did I mention Stitches has AK-47s tattooed on his face? Notable here is how mainstream media always swoons over something like this, particularly with local radio mad-scrambling to talk up Stitches and pander for street cred and younger ears. I heard one radiohead today sugges Bird's hype song should be played in the arena. Sure, Pat Riley'd go for that! And maybe Disney should book the Chippendales! My contribution to Stitchmania in this first and only mention is to note that Stitches and Bird (left to right) appear visually to be kindred spirits who but for the age difference might have been separated at birth.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Last night: 1. Ray Allen, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. LeBron James, with honorable mention to Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade. Through six playoff games: LeBron James 14 points, Chris Bosh 7, Ray Allen 6, Dwyane Wade 6, Chris Andersen 1, Norris Cole 1, James Jones 1.

FINALLY, THE NFL DRAFT. WHAT WILL DOLPHINS DO?: Original pre-draft post: The NFL Draft. It's what you've been waiting and waiting for but somehow are already sick of even though it  hasn't happened yet. Am I right?

1aa1nfldraft 1aa1doldraft

1aa1dhickeyAnticipation in Miami is probably luke-warm on the excitement scale. I mean, how amped can you be when your team is selecting No. 19, the big need is an offensive lineman, and the big talk is about a possible trade-down? (Pardon me if I suggest the electricity at the Dolphins' stadium draft party tonight may not equal the concurrent current ricocheting through the Heat's bayside arena). Nevertheless! It's still the Dolphins, the draft and the first round. And we'll be waiting to see if it's a pedestrian or magical night for new GM Dennis Hickey (pictured), the Silver Fox. What you got, D-Hick! So it's big, dammit.

My 23rd annual Miami Herald Mock Draft: My annual guesss-n-pray is out. Click Cote Mock '14 for the entire thing, including exclusive Super Bonus Draft Facts. I ended up getting 25 of 32 first-round picks correct overall but had only three bull's-eyes with exact player to exact team. Here was my full capsule for Dolphins pick:

19. Miami Dolphins: C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama -- What I think the Dolphins should do is trade up for Notre Dame OT Zack Martin and plug him in on the right side to fill their greatest position need. But new general manager Dennis Hickey, with only a bare-bones seven draft picks, is not likely to part with 1aa1mosleyany. And barring a trade-up, Miami would be in no-man’s land at No. 19: Draft’s four best tackles all gone and no other O-lineman worthy. A trade-down to then select an OT such as Virginia’s Morgan Moses also is in play. If they stay put, well, ILB is not as great a need but it is a need, and Mosley (pictured) is the best one in this draft, the only one of 1R quality. Miami’s run defense was astoundingly bad or at best erratic last year, and Mosley brings that Alabama pedigree. He also is top notch in coverage, a need for a team that tended to get clobbered by opposing tight ends. Mosley has a bit of an injury history, but if Miami is confident he’s healthy, he would be a great value at 19. He'd be in that “best available” category, with OL needs not forgotten, but deferred to later picks.

State-school draft projections (via ESPN): 1st round--UCF QB Bortles, FSU DT Jernigan. 2nd round--FSU WR Benjamin. 3rd round--UF DT Easley. 4th-to-7th rounds--UM: QB Morris, WR Hurns, OT Henderson, OG Linder. UF: WR Patton, TE Burton, OG Halapio, C Harrison, OLB Powell. FSU: RB Freeman, RB Wilder, C Stork, OLB Smith, OLB Jones. UCF RB Johnson. USF DE Lynch.

MARLINS WIN ON ROAD! MARLINS WIN ON ROAD!: Snap a picture of the standings, Fish heads. (I did,
1aa1standingshere). They showed Miami tied for first in the NL East after a club-record 8-1 homestand that has the team an MLB-best 17-5 at home this season. It's that Loria magic! OK, maybe not. Anyway, that's the good news. The bad news is Miami 2-10 on the road and embarking on a season-long 11-game West Coast roadie starting last night in Padreland. But make it 3-10 now after last night's 3-1 win in 11 innings. Jose Fernandez will have three starts on the trip, so hope lives. First-place Marlins. Man! Might be time to ressurect that "Everybody's Doin' the Fish" song. (Yeah, yeah, yeah!) Sure it was awful. But still better than "Brick In Yo Face." See, everything is relative.

1aa1beckham

OOPS. SPELL-CHECK, PLEASE!:
The Miami Herald sent out this week Tweet promoting its latest coverage in the ongoing David Beckham/soccer stadium story. Unfortunately, Beckham's name was misspelled as Beckman. OY!

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