1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger Woods poll, pro-rating South Florida's all-time pro coaches, Heat career ASG scorers, saving the newspaper industry & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
WHO SHOULD BE ON MOUNT RUSHMORE OF ALL-TIME NFL QUARTERBACKS?: Every once in a while we like to do a 'Mount Rushmore' poll mainly to annoy WQAM radio host and friend Marc Hochman, who thinks he invented the time-worn idea. We got this idea from NFL.com, which had the discussion earlier this week -- just the latest entity to steal Hoch's un-patented gem. We culled the ballot to 12 finalists who appear here alphabetically. No category for "other," but let us know in a Comment if we've egregiously omitted anybody deserving. You know what Mount Rushmore means, so vote for your top four (4) guys. Go!
Vote For Top Four (4)
Poll result: Mixed results, but mostly support for Tiger Woods: We asked how you feel about Tiger Woods and it was 43.3 percent liking/rooting for him, 38.0% not liking or supporting him and 18.7% neutral or disinterested.
BEAGLE WINS WESTMINSTER 'BEST IN SHOW': Miss P, an adorable 4-year-old Beagle from British Columbia pictured right, won Best In Show last night at the prestigious annual Westminster Kennel Club pageant in New York City. (It was so good to see a winner and hear cheering in a full Madison Square Garden, a building rendered a fetid mausoleum by the Knicks). Controversy ensued, though. Random Evidence cannot confirm but has heard that the owners of the Standard Poodle pictured at left are being sued for pet abuse and mental torture for inflicting the dog with the embarrassing haircut shown. "As if my name, 'Princess Precious," isn't bad enough, you try walking around looking like this," said the angry canine. "People stare. Other dogs taunt and bully. Even cats laugh at me. It's [bleep]ing humiliating!"
SEEING RACISM WHERE IT ISN'T: Yesterday on the Dan LeBatard Show (The Ticket Miami, ESPN Radio) my Tuesday "Back In My Day" segment excoriated athletes who complain about having to deal with the media. Marshawn Lynch and Kevin Durant were examples I used, not even considering that both are black and that I'd better toss in a white guy for balance. Mentioned Lynch and Durant as the two most prominent, recent examples, which I thought obvious. But because the rant was critical and questioned the general intelligence of athletes who grow up chasing sports more than an education, a few texters to the show and Tweeters to me heard the rant as racist. Man, that's listening so hard you aren't hearing. So if I said the same thing but with a fleeting reference to Bode Miller I'm OK on the Racism Sensitivity Scale? Sorry, but I can't be that politically correct.
PIECES OF CHILDHOOD KEEP FALLING AWAY: I never considered myself a Lesley Gore fan. I thought she was someone whose fans were girls. Besides, when she hit big in 1963 with "It's My Party," my interest in music was just beginning to awaken. But I cared enough to read the obituary when I found out this week Gore had died at age 68. Maybe subliminally, but her first big hit was a part of my early childood's background noise, her death making the sound an echo fading my degrees.
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1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4. I'm at Friday Page Headquarters today divining my Week 14 NFL predictions. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins edge Jets, DSM poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Dolphins catch a break: Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, a five-time Pro Bowl run-stopper, today was suspended for the remainder of the regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. So he's erased from Sunday's Dolphins game here.
WINSTON DENIES RAPE ALLEGATION: I have no idea whether Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is guilty and lying or falsely accused and telling the truth. Neither, chances are, do you. It's he-said/she-said, the issue is consent and it's risky to make assumptions. Winston's long-awaited two-day student conduct hearing over the rape allegation against him ended Wednesday with no decision yet reached. Winston declined to answer questions but did read from a five-page statement, declining any guilt. In part: "I did not rape or sexually assault [the accuser]," the statement reads. "I did not create a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment in the short period of time that we were together. [She] had the capacity to consent to having sex with me and she repeatedly did so by her conduct and her verbal expressions. I never used physical violence, threats, or other coercive means. I never endangered [hers] health, safety, or well-being." Click here for the story. Do you tend to believe Winston based on your knowledge of the case? Take a dip in our poll, and try to separate whether you are a Seminoles fan or hater from what you honestly think.
SCINTILLATING VS. SILLY AT UM: What's scintillating right now -- Hurricanes men's basketball -- isn't getting the full attention it deserves because of the distraction over what's silly: the pointless speculation over football coach Al Golden. Jim Larranaga's men's hoopers are now 8-0 and surely will rise from their No. 15 poll ranking after Tuesday night's 70-61 home win over No. 24 Illinois. Yet the obsession these days of UM fans in general and of the media seems to be the job status of Golden following a disappointing 6-6 season. All of this was perfectly reflected last night at the arena when a "Fire Golden" chant briefly bloomed, only to be tamped out by annoyed fellow attendees directing attention to the basketball game, please. (Pictured left, the heroic Larranaga. Pictured right, Golden, being chased by an angry mob). The Golden chatter is silly because it's moot. Golden's job is not in jeopardy; UM is not considering a coaching change. Maybe we won't be able to say that a year from now, but it's ironclad-true today. Yet false rumors percolated yesterday about an imminent firing. One local radio host reported he'd been told by a source that Golden was getting the boot; then, when that proved false, the same host Tweeted, "I'm NOT a journalist!" Effing hilarious. Meanwhile, a few Board of Trustee members continue in the role of shadow snipers, anonymously criticizing Golden. The Trustees should stop with the cowardice, and the local media should cease and desist with what has become a far too common practice of using anyonymous sources. Well, at least that's what I was told by a "close associate" of a journalism professor who requested anonymity!
SOPY: CANES' DUKE JOHNSON WINS "STATE HEISMAN": Well, something went right for the Miami Hurricanes this year. Duke Johnson went right. UM's Duke of Gables comfortably beats Florida State's Jameis Winston in our season-ending, blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings: the "State Heisman." The SOPY rankings end with the 12-game regular season and do not include conference title games or bowls, so every school is on even footing. This is a cumulative ranking of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Florida only played 11 games, not making up its lightning-canceled opener. UCF plays its final game Thursday night, but the result has no bearing on the overall lead so we present the final rankings now. 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 final 2014 SOPY Top 25:
Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. FSU (12-0); 2. UCF (8-3); 3. Florida (6-5); 4. Miami (6-6); 5. SoFla (4-8); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-9).
BARKLEY IS RIGHT ON FERGUSON RIOTERS: Race is a fascinating thing. If I (white as a linen napkin) call the folks rioting and looting in Ferguson, Mo. "scumbags" it comes off as racist. Black Charles Barkley can say it -- and did. It's still controversia, but not the way it would be if said by a white commentator. Barkley is right, by the way. "Scumbag" is an inflammatory word, but do people destroying property and looting merit much better? I hate that the looters claim an entitlement based on their outrage over the Michael Brown shooting and the police-shooter's non-indictment. Righteous protest and civil disobedience are wonderful things, part of the our freedom. Looting isn't. Not under any circumstance. Barkley sounds more like Rush Limbaugh in calling the police "the only thing in the ghetto between this place being the wild wild West," and saying, "There's a reason they racially profile us at times." But in lambasting the looters, I can't imagine he'd get much disagreement from anyone but the looters.
NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 13 SEES PICKS UNEVEN, LOBOS PRAYING: We update you briefly every week on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: We went a fairly solid 11-5 overall but only 7-9 against the spread despite a pair of nice outright upset picks with Falcons over Cardinals ("Aawwk!") and Jaguars over Giants. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos won, 118-69, led by Calvin Johnson's big 38 Bird Day points, improving to 6-7 on the year. We're in a four-way tie for our league's final playoff spot entering the last week. However we stand fourth on the tiebreaker ladder, meaning we need a small mirale. Um, make that a large miracle.
GOODBYE, RGIII: A smart, expertly done ode to Robert Griffin III's downfall, to the tune of Elton John's Candle in the Wind:
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1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Dolfan satisfaction running at a buoyant 96.4%. See previous blogpost for full results of first DSM poll. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whip Patriots, DSM poll, QB wives, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
On Ray Rice, Bruce Levenson: Amid the outcry over Rice's violent video and Levenson's racially charged email, we step back and suggest that Rice deserves a second chance in the NFL, and that there may have been some truth in what Levenson wrote. Today's latest column: Beyond the Condemnation.
Bump for Dolphins Super Bowl odds: The win over New England sent Miami's updated Super Bowl odds (via Bovada) rising from 66-1 (tied for 19th) to a current 40-1 (tied for 12th). Seattle has bumped ahead of Denver, 7-2 to 9-2, as overall SB favorite.
'FIRE AL GOLDEN' MOVEMENT TAKES SEED. DO YOU SUPPORT UM'S COACH?: OK, "Fire Al Golden movement takes seed" may be a tad dramatic, if technically accurate. It's a very small seed at this point. Miami New Times has a piece about "disgruntled UM fans" raising money to fly a 'Fire Al Golden' banner over the stadium during the Florida State game in November, but the cause of one disgruntled fan, Danny Vazquez, seems to have modest support (though a pretty good publicist, evidently). His GoFundMe campaign has raised only $520 from 21 donors in six days, about half of what he needs for the banner. His FireAlGolden Twitter account has a modest 230 followers. Wasn't it just a minute ago we loved Golden and students were wearing white shirts and orange ties in his honor? Wasn't it just a minute ago we were lauding how he'd navigated UM through the three-year Nevin Shapiro/NCAA mire he inherited? Now he loses the opener at Louisville and we want his scalp? Seems silly to me, or at least way premature. What if UM is 2-1 and then wins at Nebraska? What if the Canes are 7-2 and ranked going into that FSU game? How silly would that banner flyover look then? The purpose of this poll is to gauge support (or lack of) for Al Golden. I wonder if the critics calling him Al "Folden" and supporting his firing are the majority, a lunatic few or somewhere in between. Tell me. Tell Al. Tell each other. Vote now and say why.
NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SOLID START: We'll update you briefly every week (on Tuesday or Wednesday) on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-leahgue team. Pix: We went 11-5 overall and 8-8 against the spread, nailing three outright upsets including Dolphins over Pats. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos, after a miserable 2-12 season last year in our eight-team league, won its opener 167-126, led by Calvin Johnson's 36 points.
SOPY: DEFENDING CHAMP WINSTON VAULTS TO SECOND: A Week 2-best 142 points lifts FSU quarterback Jameis Winston into second place in our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly updated 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 Jameis 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. Standings are for regular seasons and do not include conference championship games or bowls, so that all seven teams are on even footing.
SOPY WEEK 2 TOP 10
Rk (LW) Player, team-pos. Wk2 Season
1 (1) Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb 80 384
2 (3) Jameis Winston, FSU-qb 142 348
3 (2) Rashad Greene, FSU-rec 80 289
4 (--) Alex Gardner, FIU-rb 138 199
5 (7) Duke Johnson, Miami-rb 103 198
6 (6) Karlos Williams, FSU-rb 87 189
7 (10t) Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb 99.5 176.5
8 (--) Jonnu Smith, FIU-rec 133 153
9 (--) Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb 137 137
10 (--) Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec 60 136
10 (10t) Jay Warren, FAU-rb 59 136
Bubble: DeMarcus Robinson, Florida-rec, 129. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman-qb, 115. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 points (Wk1). Note: All seven state FBS teams have played two games except Florida and UCF (1 each).
Cote's State of the State Week 1 rank: 1. FSU (2-0); 2. Florida (1-0); 3. Miami (1-1); 4. UCF (0-1); 5. SoFla (1-1); 6. FAU (0-2); 7. FIU (1-1).
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1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-Bucs exhibition, Mark D'Onofrio poll, LeBron cheer/boo result & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.
Hurricanes ranking outlook: Miami is ranked 39th in the Associated Press preseason ranking, or 14th among "others receiving votes" after the Top 25. Realistically, that means it'll take at least a 2-0 start, perhaps 3-0, to see the Canes ranked.
I FULFILL MY ALS ICE-BUCKET CHALLENGE: I have developed a love-hate relationship with the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge. The cause -- raising funds to fight Lou Gehrig's Disease -- is a great one. That's why I happily went along. (And yes, there was ice involved). The gimmick has been a fabulous success in raising not only money but awareness. Whomever dreamed this up hit big, because it seems everybody is doing it from famous sports stars and celebrities to regular folks. Now, though, I'm sort of ready for this thing to go away, even as I feel guilty saying it. This is like anything that goes viral and is fun for a while and then you get sick of it. Think Gangnam Style. We also can predict the spate of copycat "challenges" by others in the name of fundraising (or attention-getting). Just wait and watch. God bless America.
HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot Button is an added Sunday feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package in the print edition has been on summer hiatus, scheduled to return to the newspaper next Sunday, Aug. 24. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:
1. Dolphins: Pass passes, run fails: The quarterbacking was great -- Ryan Tannehill, especially Matt Moore and even newly acquired Brady Quinn -- and so was the overall defense in last night's 20-14 exhibition win in Tampa, but the running game sputtered. It was minus-5 yards in first half, meaning you outgained Miami while sitting on your couch.
2. UM football: Quarterbacks 1 and 1A: It is 15 days until the season begins and the Canes still aren't sure if Jake Heaps or Brad Kaaya -- co-No. 1s on the depth chart -- will start the opener at Louisville. Competition is a good thing. So is a decision. Soon.
3. Marlins: Another shot at .500: After winning six of past nine Fish have another chance today to get back to .500. They enter Sunday only 3.5 games back for NL wild card. Giancarlo Stanton's best case for MVP isn't the homers, but that he has this team, sans Jose Fernandez, in playoff chase.
4. Heat: Christmas present: Release of 2014-15 NBA schedule confirmed the Heat will host Cleveland and LeBron James Dec. 25 in his first return to Miami since leaving in free agency. Four months to decide, South Florida: Cheer or boo?
5. Social media: Ice-bucket challenge: Are we tired yet of the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge? Not the fund- raiser for the terrible disease, but the incessant videos by sports stars and others dumping ice on their heads? Hope not. Because mine's coming later today. (Cannot confirm the whole idea was based on a casual suggestion from the ice industry).
6. Soccer: EPL underway: The English Premier League season is underway, with a growing audience of U.S. followers. It's like the World Cup, if the World Cup only involved one country. Sunderland! Stoke City! Woooo!
7. LLWS: Mo'Ne Davis: A girl pitcher, Mo'Ne Davis of Philadelphia, has been the talk of the ongoing Little League World Series. She's been giving the boys nightmares. Dreams, too, perhaps? (Oh, c'mon. Like you hadn't start noticing girls when you were 12 or 13?)
8. Baseball: New commissioner: Rob Manfred was elected MLB's new commissioner. Manfred hopes to bring something different to the ofifce following guys like Bowie Kuhn and Bud Selig. A personality!
9. NASCAR: Stewart idle again: Tony Stewart will voluntarily sit out a second straight race today in the wake of tragedy in which he killed a sprint-car driver on a track in upstate New York. The phrase for that? "Smart public relations."
10. Notre Dame: Academic fraud: Notre Dame football is scandalized by allegations of academic fraud involving four prominent players -- not exactly a quartet to rival the Four Horsemen for nobility. Here's to the Cheatin' Irish!
[Preemptive strike on what's below: You--"Why are you talking about race relations and political stuff!? This is supposed to be a sports blog! Cancel my subscription to the Internet!" Me--This is a Greg Cote blog, sports-based but broader. We also talk pop culture. We talk about what's fun and absurd. Sometimes we also talk about what's not fun, but real].
ON FERGUSON, MISSOURI: I get the outrage. I can't feel it like I could if I were black and living in Ferguson, Mo., but I get it. Some of the same anger and helplessness hit my own state last year with Trayvon Martin, another young black teen, 17, killed for what seemed no justifiable reason. A neigborhood security-watch guy held the gun in that case. In Ferguson, it was a cop, and the victim was Michael Brown, 18. There are complications here, though; there is gray area. Had Brown just stolen from a convenience store and punched the clerk as surveillance video suggests? Not saying that justified the police shooting; it did not. But it does help explain the possible mindset on both sides of the tragedy. There were angry protests in Ferguson after Brown was shot, when it first appeared he was more of an innocent victim than we would later learn. And I understand a community needing to vent. What I don't get in Ferguson, or anywhere, is how outrage and legitimate protest segue to violence and then looting. I can't find that bridge in my mind. Can't find it in how I think civilization should work. One minute, you are demonstrating the police-shooting of a teenager. The next minute, you are marauding through the shattered window of a liquor store. The police response in Ferguson -- tear gas and rubber bullets -- seemed excessive, but did the looting and violence invite it? Quickly, then, the images conveyed to the rest of the country are of looting and cops in riot gear, and focus on a young man's death is lost. Everything here is sad: The shooting, the militaristic police response, and, yes, the people of Ferguson who found that bridge from protest to looting, and poured across it.
Poll result: The heat is on UM's D'Onofrio: We asked your opinion of Canes defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio and about half, 49.8 percent, answered "moderate/let's see what happen this year." But "negative/wish he were gone" outnumbered "positive/gets a bad rap" by more than a 4-1 margin, 41.1% to 9.1%.
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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.
Facts 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 latest 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 everywhere: 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 in 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 and 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 Jurgen 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 parking" 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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1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30. ICYMI, click on The Perfect Quarterback for our column on the death of Dolphins icon Earl Morrall. It generated a voluminous positive reaction. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Charlotte Game 4, Donald Sterling poll, RIP Dr. Jack, Dolphins draft, Herald building, Panthers firing, Jeff ireland, NCAA odds & more. 3) Join us Twitter @gregcote.
Crab theft sacks Winston: Man the folks over at TMZ are en fuego. Just days after breaking the Donald Sterling/racist tape story, they report here that Florida State has booted two-sport star Jameis Winston off the baseball team after a charge that he stole crab legs from a grocery store.
SILVER HAMMER! CLIPPERS OWNER BANNED FOR LIFE, FINED MAXIMUM: New NBA commissioner Adam Silver (pictured) wasn't fooling around yesterday. At a news conference in New York he banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling "for life" for racist views expressed in an audiotape -- views that outraged players throughout the league. Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum allowed by the NBA Constitution. In addition, Silver said he would seek a three-fourths majority vote of NBA owners to force Sterling to sell the team. Click Silver Lining for my latest column, online and in today's inky pulp editions.
Poll result: You support tough sanctions against Sterling: We asked what the punishment should be for Sterling and most, 58.6 percent, said he should be made to sell team or relinquish power, while 20.8% said he should be suspended and/or fined. Another 16.9% said no punishment, that he has a right to his views, while 3.7% said an apoogy was enough. (You may still vote in our previous blogpost).
Heat react to decision: Heat players and others were among the NBA family reacting strongly and positively to Silver's actions Tuesday against Sterling. A sampling from Twitter: Owner Micky Arison: "Great job Adam.The NBA is in good hands. You have my full support." LeBron James: "Commissioner Silver thank you for protecting our beautiful and powerfukl league!! Great leader!!" Dwyane Wade: "Commissioner Silver....STRONG...way to take charge and protect our great league."
THE BOSS REIGNS IN SUNRISE: We saw Bruce Springsteen at the Panthers arena in Sunrise last night (posted a couple of Vines from it) and for me he lived up to and in some ways exceeded his legend's status. Stevie Van Zandt was not in the E Street Band last night but he was mostly missed visually with that iconic bandana. The sublime Tom Morello, from Rage Against the Machine et al, more than made up musically. Attendees, in the mosh pit near the stage, included Heat prez Pat Riley and his lookalike pal, actor Michael Douglas. [Background: This was my fourth Springsteen show. The first was his famous Orange Bowl gig in September 1985 on the Born in the USA tour, the next was his Ghost of Tom Joad acoustical tour at the smaller Sunrise Musical Theater in December 1996, and the previous was I think May 2008 back at the hockey arena on the Magic tour. I call myself a big Springsteen fan, though not a know-every-lyric-to-every-song worshipper]. Last night's show was weighted to non-radio hits, though he played enough of those to satisfy casual fans. Are there casual Springsteen fans, though? You get the feeling 90 percent of the fans at his shows are devotees wearing 30-year-old Springsteen T-shirts. No artist I have ever seen live connects better with his audience, and last night that was literally. He constantly walked among the crowd to sing and at one point fell backward into the floor-level throng and was slowly transported in that fashion at least 20 yards back to the stage, singing all the while. What a sight. What a show. There were so many signtaure songs Springsteen did not perform, including "Born In the USA" and "Glory Days," but nobody seemed to mind. It was three hours of verifying his nickname with energy and excellence: The Boss.
Springsteen setlist from last night: 1--Clampdown; 2--Badlands; 3--High Hopes; 4--No Surrender; 5--I Wanna Marry You; 6--Linda Let Me Be The One; 7--Boom Boom; 8--Hearts Of Stone; 9--Talk To Me; 10--Wrecking Ball; 11--Hungry Heart; 12--Save My Love; 13--The River; 14--Prove It All Night; 15--My Love Will Not Let You Down; 16--Darlington County; 17--Shackled and Drawn; 18--The Ghost of Tom Joad; 19--The Rising; 20--Land of Hope and Dreams. Encores: Highway To Hell; Born To Run; Dancing in the Dark; Tenth Avenue Freeze-out; Shout; The Wall; Thunder Road (video of latter below).
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1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 29. Demolition has begun on the iconic Miami Herald building, and Walt Michot's photo here is worth a thousdand words, all of them sad. 2) Jay Z and Beyonce's summer tour will kick off June 25 at Dolphins stadium. 3) ICYMI, click on The Perfect Quarterback for our column on the death of Dolphins icon Earl Morrall. It generated a voluminous positive reaction. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Charlotte G3 with preview/live blog/postgame thoughts/Sunday reflections, Dolphins best-game result & more. 5) Join us Twitter @gregcote.
Panthers fire coach: The Florida Panthers today fired coach Peter Horacheck. It isn't a susprise in the least. They never removed the "interm" tag from him, he did not spark a notable turnaround, and the Cats need a replacement with more NHL experience. With an impressive young nucleus of talent and the No. 1 overall draft pick coming, Florida has a fairly inviting roster. Now GM Dale Tallon must find a premier goal-scorer and make the right coaching hire to re-energize a listing franchise.
No radio today: No me today on the Dan Le Batard Show. I'll be on Friday this week instead.
DOLPHINS LATEST DRAFT PROJECTIONS: ESPN dueling Mock Drafters Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay crap their latest guesswork today and Kiper has Miami selecting Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley 19th overall, while McShay has the Fins picking Virginia tackle Morgan Moses. They have Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin -- the guy Miami really wants -- going 15th and 17th, respectively. Sounds like a trade-up for Martin may be the way to go.
Seahawks hire Jeff Ireland as a temp: Champion Seattle has hired ex-Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland as a consultant through next month's draft. Explained coach Pete Carroll: "We were tired of all this success." Naw, Pete didn't really say that. But Seattle really DID hire Ireland.
G4 FINAL: HEAT 109, CHARLOTTE 98: SWEEP = SLEEP:Postgame: Miami sweeps Charlotte 4-0 with tonight's triumph led by LeBron James' 31 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Now let the playoffs begin! I mean the real playoffs. Brooklyn-Toronto winner on deck for Miami in next round, but, with that series tied 2-2, Heat could be in a for a full week's rest thanks to this sweep. Tonight's Heat 3 Stars: 1. LeBron. (Or did that go without saying); 2. Chris Bosh, with 17 points, 8 rebounds; 3. Norris Cole, with a sparky 13 points, 4 assists off the bench. ..... Halftime thoughts: Heat trail by two 54-52, but Al Jefferson sitting for Bobcats with foot injury and like Heat based on flow of game. Funny that Charlotte fans boo LeBron James at every touch. It's so 2010! Loved Heat's pregame warmup-shirt stunt in support of Clippers and against racist Donald Sterling. Miami shooting only 41.5%, only 2-for-12 from 3 and LeBron with a mortal 11 points and yet it's a (near) even game. Thse things do not bode well for the Bobs. ..... Original post: While playing golf on Saturday (I had a 93 at Inverrary-East while my showboat son shot 79), I predicted the fired-up Heat would win that night's Game 3 easily but then lose Game 4, which is tonight. I called the first one right. Now I'm wavering on tonight. All know the series is effectively over, and that in 108 all-time NBA playoff sets the team up 3-0 has won every time -- 108 for 108. But human nature can work two ways tonight. It might spark the Bobcats to avoid the embarrassment of a series shutout coupled with the Heat being complacent and coasting. Or! It might find the Bobcats going through the motions, resigned to defeat, while the Heat rev it up again for the sweep -- knowing that would mean welcome extra rest before the next round. Unlike Saturday, I don't have a strong feeling which way this one will go. (I'll be back here with commentary at halftime and postgame).
THE LIST: HEAT-CHARLOTTE SERIES SCORING LEADERS: The top five updated through Game 4:
1. LeBron James, Heat 30.0
2. Kemba Walker, Bobcats 19.5
3. Al jefferson, Bobcats 18.7
4. Dwyane Wade, Heat 17.5
5. Chris Bosh, Heat 14.5
Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated through 4 games/first round): Entering second round: LeBron James 11 points, Dwyane Wade 6, Chris Bosh 4, Chris Andersen 1, Norris Cole 1, James Jones 1. (We name 'Heat 3 Stars' every game and award points on 3-2-1 basis).
MY VIEW: NBA SHOULD FORCE OUT STERLING AS OWNER. NOW YOUR VIEW GOES HERE: No company or entity that deals with the public can afford to be owned or led by a racist -- let alone a franchise owner in the NBA, with more than 70 percent of its players African-American. That is why L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racism on that audio tape is such a bombshell-crisis for the NBA and must be dealt with quickly. For now the NBA has told Sterling (pictured) not to show up at Tuesday's Clippers home playoff game, but surely more punishment is ahead. I think Sterling needs to be forced out as owner or at least be made to relinquish his authority -- the harshest penalty. But a hefty suspension and/or fine also is possible. Perhaps you think a public apology would suffice. Some of you may even think no punishment is due because, after all, it's a free country and Sterling isn't breaking any laws with his views even as they outrage most of us including NBA star like the Heat's LeBron James, who said, "There is no place for Donald Sterling in our league." How would you handle this situation if you were new NBA commissioner Adam Silver? (Hmm. Sterling and Silver. How bizarre). Take a dip in our poll and say why.
HEAT REACT TO DEATH OF "DR. JACK":[Update: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is pcitured left at age 10, with Dr. Jack at a basketball camp in 1980. Lil' Erik was so cuuuuute!] Original post: Jack Ramsay passed away Monday morning at age 89 at his home in Naples, Fla., after a long battle with cancer. (Naples, coincidentally, was also the adopted hometown where Dolphins great Earl Morrall died on Friday). Ramsay is best known as the basketball Hall of Famer and 20-year NBA coach who led the Portland Trailblazers to their only championship in 1977. But his post-coaching career in broadcasting also was long and accomplished. He has a niche in Heat history as the team's eight-season on-air personality alongside Eric Reed from 1992-2000. Fans may recall the Dr. Jack nugget, "This-away, that-away, Hardaway!" Team owner Micky Arison said today, "When I first bought the team we had no basketball organization in place and Dr. Jack was the first person who I turned to for advice. So for a few days, he was the entire basketball organization for the Miami Heat. Over the years I often turned to him for advice. Club president Pat Riley said: "Dr. Jack Ramsay meant a great deal to me as a mentor when I was coaching and while I've been with the Heat running the team." Ramsay's long, remarkable life included a pre-hoops stint in the Navy working underwater demolition. R.I.P.
GATORS, CANES ODDS FOR '15 NCAA MEN'S HOOPS TITLE: With deadline past for declaring for NBA draft, new odds are out on 2014-15 NCAA men's basketball season, and national-championship favorites are Kentucky at 5-1, Duke 9-1, Wisconsin 12-1 and Kansas 14-1. Florida, Arizona and North Carolina are bunched at 16-1. Miami is 66-1, ahead of Florida State's 100-1.
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1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16. Panthers win lottery for No. 1 overall pick in June NHL draft. Here's betting GM Dale "Trader" Tallon swaps it. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Why No. 2 seed is better for Heat, Philbin on candid camera, Nirvana, NHL playoffs, Bubba, Pacquiao & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.
Heat open playoffs vs. Charlotte here Sunday: It's Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats in first-round Game 1 here Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC-TV. No need for instant over-analysis; Miami should sweep. Be interesting though to watch Udonis Haslem's defense against Al Jefferson. Miami rest LeBron James and Chris Bosh in tonight's meaningless regular-season finale vs. Philadelphia, a loss. Recently sidelined Dwyane Wade saw limited action and looked sharp, and Greg Oden returned from injury.
DIFFERENT CHALLENGE AND DOUBT CHASING HEAT INTO PLAYOFFS: The Heat love a challenge. Love to be doubted. LeBron James says that all the time. OK, so here's the challenge and the doubt, Heat, and it's different than in the past: Are they good enough? Simply that. Because the presumption is that this Miami team seeking a three-peat just isn't as good as the teams that won back-to-back championships. A worse regular-season record is the backbone of the presumption but there's more. Of the two big new additions, Greg Oden hasn't played much and might not at all in the postseason, and Michael Beasley has faded out of the rotation. Departed Mike Miller is sorely missed, still. Ray Allen and Shane Battier just seem older. Depth appears to be thinner. Chemistry doesn't feel as rock-solid. Then there's Dwyane Wade's fragile health of course. These things -- not to mention how great San Antonio is -- cast Miami as a somewhat vulnerable defending champ as the playoffs begin this weekend against Charlotte or Washington. Do you buy the basic premise that this Heat team is not as good as the ones that won consecutive titles? Take a dip in our poll and say why.
THE BIZARRE, SCARY ODYSSEY OF YASIEL PUIG: The L.A. Times' Los Angeles Magazine, in its May issue, has a lengthy and fascinating piece on Dodgers star Yasiel Puig written by Jesse Katz. Get it HERE. It reads like a screenplay. It probably will turn into one. It is the tale of Puig's path from Cuba to the major leagues via Mexico, and it is fraught with shady characters, skullduggery and ominous overtones. Read it, understand Puig a little more, and suddenly you'll be less focused on his speeding tickets or his showing up late for a game. The story gives a new understanding and appreciation for his situation. The young man has a lot on his mind. Reportedly his path out of Cuba was underwritten by a Miamian, Raul Pacheco, and involved smugglers -- human traffickers working for a major and murderous Mexican drug cartel. There are allegations that Puig promised 20 percent of his future earnings and that some exceptionally unsavory people may still be looking for their money. If I were the Dodgers and MLB I'd not only take this seriously, I'd enlist the FBI and anybody else who might help. What a scary tale. Forget protecting your investment, Dodgers. Protect Yasiel Puig.
Sad coincidence for baseball: This week marked the 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier, and this week there are exactly -- and only -- 67 active African-American players on MLB rosters.
"MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY ... MON-EY!" (PINK FLOYD, 1973): ESPN has a list of the world's top-paying sports teams, and Manchester United of soccer's English Premier League is on top with an average salary of $8.11 million per player, edging the Yankees' $8.03 million. The Heat check in 16th at $5.57 million, led by LeBron James and Chris Bosh at $19.1 million apiece. Interestingly, among Greater Miami's other three pro teams, the Panthers are next at $1.85 million per, edging the Dolphins ($1.77M) and Marlins ($1.55M).
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1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Team USA Olympic poll, Dale Jr., LeBron's nose & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.
IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO: CLAY BEATS LISTON IN MIAMI BEACH, AND MUHAMMAD ALI IS BORN: I spoke with Ferdie Pacheco, "The Fight Doctor," for yesterday's column on the golden anniversary of a watershed event in American sports history, and arguably the biggest one we have hosted in greater Miami. Click on Ali Is Born for that column. Ferdie and I did not speak at length. He was tired. He 's 86 now, and he'd just done four hours with CBS Sports cameras in his Miami home for a special. Being the last, best living link to those Clay-turning-Ali days makes Pacheco a treasure, living history. Ali himself, of course, is a shell in the terrible embrace of Parkinson's. It's as if Pacheco is his voice now, too. I was too young to know of that Feb. 25, 1964 fight, let alone to have attended, but the buzz about it helped kindle in me a fascination with boxing; more accurately, with Ali, the Greatest Of All Time. He was the first athlete of my generation, at the least the first on my radar, who transcended sports, and who brought politics, religion and outlandish (wonderful) braggadocio to our games. He was like nothing before, and there has been none like him since. It is fitting that the History Miami museum has an art and photo exhibit marking that event 50 years ago, and hosted a panel discussion last night. And it is fitting that The Fight Doctor was on that panel, the painter's brush strokes giving color to memories in black and white.
MARLINS' PROJECTED WIN TOTAL: It's 69.5 on the betting over/under, says Bovada. Good news: That's better than last season's 62 wins. Bad news: That's still tied for next to last in all of MLB, and last in the NL East, after Nationals 88.5, Braves 87.5, Phillies 76.5 and mets 73.5. Overall leader is Dodgers at 92.5.
Poll result: Mixed verdict on Team USA performance in Sochi: We asked in the previous blogpost and you all gave Team USA what amounts to silver or bronze at best. Most, 32.5 percent, rated the overall performance "good," 29.2% "fair" and 26.6% "disappointing." It was "a failure" to 6.5% and "excellent" to only 5.2%.
ON THE USE OF THE "N-WORD": First, yeah, I'm about as white as can be and yet here I am opining on the n-word. So what? No apologies. If I can speak up for gay rights even though I'm not gay, why can't I have an opinion on others using the n-word? I have not been hurt to have been called it in anger, derision or hatred like many older African-Americans (and some younger) may have, but I still am jarred by the sound of the word, no matter it's present-day connotation. I address its use not from a vantage of Civil Rights, but of civility, and Black History Month provides a natural vessel for discussion. I hear black friends and black athletes (though not all) defend using the word among themselves, but with an "-a" not an "-er" on the end. Rappers feel the same justification. Even some whites do, as if using the word includes them in some private club. That was an element of the Incognito/Martin dynamic in the Dolphins' Bullygate saga. I'm not audacious enough to tell anybody how they should speak among themselves, or in their art form, but I can suggest the continued use of the n-word, even ending in "a," feels self-defeating to me. It is clearly generational, as we saw in the recent ESPN Outside The Lines special on the word. It is significant to note most older blacks who actually were victims of segregation and racism abhor the word in all its forms. This, to me, is reason enough to erase the word in all its forms from our lexicon. That includes rap lyrics and collegial locker-room banter. It is a matter of respect, not so much respect for one's self as respect for generations past that suffered greatly, sometimes paying with their lives, when the n-word represented discrimination in its most violent, hateful form. I don't agree with the NFL considering making a penalty of the word, but only because not saying it should not require rules or legislation. Not saying it should spring from the conscience.
IN APPRECIATION OF HIASSEN, PITTS: Columnists Carl Hiaasen and Leonard Pitts Jr. make me proud of the Miami Herald, and honored to be a colleague over here on the sporting wing. The thought occured Sunday as I read the latest from each: Hiassen on the latitude and lunacy of Florida's Stand Your Ground gun law, and Pitts on gay rights and stubborn wrongs. Excellence. From them it almost always is.
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1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 20. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Champ Sunday picks and polls, LeBron's b'day message to Wade, IOC's 'anti-American' ruling & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.
Click on Super Sunday Twice for yesterday's column previewing AFC and NFC Championship Games, and on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes-column package leading with Heat.
NFL'S CHAMP SUNDAY: IT'S BRONCOS VS. SEAHAWKS SUPER BOWL IN BATTLE OF NO. 1 SEEDS: Well, I blew it. I wrote that betting against Peyton Manning at home was like betting against tomorrow's sunrise. Then I went and did it. Broncos win, 26-16, in a game not as close as score suggests. All Denver. All Peyton. You all had it. Denver was the pick of 69.6 percent of you in our poll. In the late game, 62.3% thought Seattle would beat San Francisco. I had the road 'dog again: Niners. And was wrong again. Seahawks, 23-17. Now it's the Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl the seeds and the oddsmakers predicted. In retrospect, I wish I'd stuck with Peyton but do not second-guess liking Niners. The question now for you: Who wins on Feb. 2 in the cold of New Jersey? Vote and say why.
SB a betting tossup: Las Vegas can't seem to decide on a favorite here, with some books favoring Seattle by 1 point and others Denver by as many as 2. Early money swinging to Broncos. I think the line will settle at Denver -2 or even 2.5. Over/under seems in the 47-48 range, low for a Super Bowl, lowest, in fact, in 32 years.
ON MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: It's MLK Day in America, honoring the great civil rights icon who would be 85 today if not slain in 1968 at age 39. I strongly reccomend a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, built beside the Lorraine Motel where King was killed. It is a profoundly moving experience.
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