December 18, 2014

Should NBA play games on Christmas? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat skid, Panthers surge, Philbin/Golden result, U.S.-Cuba relations & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18. I'm up at Friday Page Headquarters today conjuring the NFL Week 16 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's putrid Titans-Jaguars game. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Tis the season for being average, Miami and Shaq, Philbin/Golden poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Marlins, meatballs & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1asantaA POX ON NBA FOR PLAYING ON CHRISTMAS!: One week from today LeBron James-at-Heat will be one of five NBA games played on Christmas. The NHL, conspicuously, 1aa1ajesusdoes not play on Christmas. I hate that the NBA does. I'm not alone. Stan Van Gundy once said, "I actually feel sorry for people who have nothing to do on Christmas Day other than watch an NBA game." Phil Jackson said, "I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day." LeBron James said, "If you ask any player in the league, we'd rather be home with our families. It's not just a regular holiday." I agree. I'm not especially religious; it just seems wrong to play on Christmas. You with me, or are you OK with it? Have a vote!

HEAT ON HISTORIC SKID: OK "historic skid" may be a bit dramatic, but last night's 105-87 home loss to reeling Utah marked the first time since 1990 that Miami has lost four consecutive home games by double digits. Heat is 1-7 overall in its past eight home dates, and fighting just to stay on the eight-team Eastern playoff grid nearly one-third into the season. The good news? Dwyane Wade had 42 points. Wasn't sure he had another 40-point game in him, frankly. The bad news? Everything else. Chris Bosh was out again, Miami couldn't buy a 3-point shot, and the defense was (again) lousy. Injuries haven't helped, but, bottom line: the post-LeBron era has set sail on much rougher seas than imagined. The Christmas game here against LeBron and Cleveland could be ugly.

PANTHERS FIND THEIR PULSE, PACE: It's funny. The Heat is 12-14 and No. 7 in their conference and it's a near-disaster to fans. The Panthers are 13-16 and tied for No. 8 and it's closer to a joyous miracle. That's one team coming down from four straight NBA Finals appearances, and the other dreaming of its first Stanley Cup postseason series victory since 1996. Florida got much attention for its record 20-round shootout win the other night, but Cats have been ascending for awhile; they're over .5000 since a 4-8 start, and 6-4 in past 10 games. (They've also won four of past five home games).

Poll result: Philbin edges Golden in "fire him!" sentiment: In the previous blogpost we asked you to make a choice who you want gone more, and Dolphins coach Joe Philbin edged the Hurricanes' Al Golden for the dubious prize, 52.6 percent to 47.4%.

A NON-CUBAN'S VIEW OF WARMING RELATIONS: [Preemptive strike: "Stay out of politics! STICK TO SPORTS!!!"] I am fascinated by the various reactions to yesterday's news that the U.S. has begun to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. To be clear, I'd guess the vast 1aa1aamercubamajority of America doesn't much care either way. To those who do care, I'd imagine (and hope) that most think diplomacy and civil relations in general are a good thing. But in South Florida, among many Cuban-Americans and exiles -- especially older folks -- this amounts to climbing into bed with the enemy and has inspired anger, even outrage. My take: U.S.-Cuba normalized relations were a long-time coming; Raul Castro taking over for brother Fidel obviously hastened the process. I call this "progress." To me an historical analogy is Japan. After the Pearl Harbor bombing it was unimaginable America would ever be on good terms with Japan, but times change, and Japan is now a strong ally. I respect that many Cuban-Americans can't and won't ever forgive Castro, and that is their right. But that outrage is too small in the national scope to steer American foreign policy.

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April 17, 2014

Sat pm 4-19: How many games will Heat-Charlotte series go? Poll. Vote!; plus CJ2K-to-Jets a worry to Dolphins?, word to Dabo & more

1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 19. This April's Giancarlo Stanton is the Stanton we've been waiting for. This is the Stanton, with a healthy career, who gets to Cooperstown. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat vs. past years poll, Yasiel Puig saga, local money list & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

WHAT IS YOUR EXPECTATON FOR HEAT-CHARLOTTE SERIES?: I can't pretend. Won't construct false-drama by talking up Charlotte or reminding that upsets happen. Won't lie and tell you how worried the Heat 1aa1aheatchaare about Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. Um, Miami has beaten the Bobcats 16 games in a row and it's 4-0 this season by a combined 42-point margin. So, no, I do not expect a competitive series in the first-rounder that begins here Sunday at 3:30 to launch the Heat's run at a three-peat. No, Miami is not as good as last season, as I write in today's lastest column; click on Doubting the Champs to read. (Also see the poll results below). But LeBron in this season's four meetings scored 151 points -- including that 61-point game -- on 56-for-89 shooting. Charlotte has no answer for him. Chances are any doubts about Miami's ability to three-peat must wait at least until the second round. But enough of my jabberwocky. What is your realistic expectation for this series? Sweep? Competitive? Remember I'm asking not how you hope it'll turn out but how you'd honestly bet it will. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Heat isn't as good as past seasons: We asked and your verdict was clear. A majority of 57.9 percent think the Heat is not as good as the past two years, vs. only 5.3% who think this team is better. Other 36.8 percent thought this team is comparabale to the previous two.

JETS TAKING OFF. SHOULD DOLFANS BE WORRIED?: So the New York Stinkin' Jets add running back 1aa1acj2kChris Johnson on a two-year deal, balancing a retooled offense that previously added quarterback Mike Vick and receiver Eric Decker. I must say, a bad Jets offense doesn't seem so bad anymore. Johnson, at 29, isn't the runner or fantasy darling he was in rushing for 2,006 yards in 2009, but he's still very good when healthy, as last season's 1,422 for the Titans attests.

PLAYING AND PRAYING. WORD TO DABO SWINNEY: Many of you may know Dabo Swinney is the successful Clemson football coach. You may not know he also is devoutly religion, constantly references Jesus and Scriptures, organizes "Church Day" bus trips for his team, and sometimes pauses practices for 1aa1adabosprayer sessions. A Wisconsin non-profit group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has formally complained. My take: Swinney is free to believe what he wants as devoutly as he wishes, but he should separate that from his football role when with his team. Clemson hired a coach, not an evangelist. Since Clemson is a public university, the doctrine of separation of church and state also comes into play. Religious and political views are personal; when not, they are argument starters. Not saying Swinney is, but the devoutly religious often are anti-abortion and believe homosexuality is a sin. What if a coach who was open about such views had a quarterback who felt differently? What if the QB's brother was gay? There is a potential team divisiveness to what Swinney is doing beyond the other issues. Don't change what you stand for, my religious friends. Just don't wear Jesus on your sleeve at all times. I don't know or care if Canes coach Al Golden is Catholic, Baptist, agnostic or worships the devil, and his players shouldn't know, either. Likewise my kid shouldn't know if his math teacher is a staunch Democrat or hates Obama. It's all about context. Don't change who you are, Dabo, just dial it back. Compartmentalize. Praise Jesus as loudly as you wish on your own time. But on your team's time, just be a football coach.

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April 08, 2014

Tue pm 4-8: Who'll be first QB taken in NFL Draft? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat tries to cut down Nets, Bob Coy, Mickey Rooney & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan Le Batard Show for my 18th national appearance. Airs 3-7 p.m. on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with a week of heaven for basketball junkies. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UConn beats Kentucky, Zo talks Hall, Heat Drama Week, Ryan Williams injury & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

Betting odds for Tiger-less Masters: It's Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott co-faves at 10-1, then Phil Mickelson 12-1, Jason Day 14-1, Matt Kuchar 18-1 and Sergio Garcia 20-1. 

1aa1adraft14ONE MONTH FROM NFL DRAFT, WHICH QB GOES FIRST?: The first round of the NFL Draft is May 8, so let's start the one-month countdown with a poll 1aa1abig3qbquestion. Normally this would be Dolphins-related, like, what's the greatest need, but this year offensive line is such a no-brainer answer it's pointless to ask. The most interesting draft question, for me, is which of three 1R-stamped quarterbacks will be taken first, and when. Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater are pictured, left to right. There is great variance in the many mock drafts I've perused. Most but not all mocks have all three guys going in the top 10, and each has support as the likely first QB taken. What do you think? Take a dip in our poll (listing is alphabetical) and say why.

CUTTING DOWN THE (BROOKLYN) NETS: UConn just cut down the nets. Tonight it's the Heat's turn to cut 1aa1aheatnetsdown the Nets. Beating the Knicks Sunday got Miami's Drama Week off to a strong start, but this is a greater challenge. Brooklyn has been quite good (32-13) this calendar year, and is 3-0 this season against Miami. This also serves a preview of a possible-dare-say-likely second round playoff matchup. (Miami's supposed waltz into the Eastern finals may be tougher than many think). You know LeBron James and the Heat will bring their A-game tonight; question is whether they'll have their A-team available, especially Dwyane Wade, who could miss a seventh straight game with hamstring issues. I write about Wade's hobbled season in today's latest column; click Counting On Wade to read.

CUTTING DOWN THE (NCAA) NETS: I was happy last night the One & Done Kentucky Wildcats got their comeuppance and that the Won & Done UConn Huskies snipped nets after a 60-54 win. John Calipari runs an NBA factory, while Connecticut holds truer to what college sports are supposed to be about. Having said that, it was only a year ago that UConn was closer to You-Con, banned from the postseason for academic reasons. So it wasn't exactly a feel-good final. There was not a truly great team in it, and neither was there a classic Cinderella. Seventh-seed UConn was the highest seed to win it all since No. 8 Villanova in 1985, but both UConn and Kentucky had too much program pedigree to be true Cindys. Bottom line, the right result: Team 1, Individuals 0.


Famed child star and entertainment legend Mickey Rooney passed away this week at 93, and here is a photo of Rooney taken on March 30, one week before he died. Rooney, seated, is flanked by fellow entertainment icons Dick Van Patten and Mel Brooks, at Santa Anita Park, the Los Angeles-area racetrack Rooney frequented. The picture is copyrighted by and courtesy of Benoit Photo.

ON BOB COY AND THE 'MEGACHURCH': Pastor Bob Coy (pictured) has resigned in disgrace from Fort Lauderdale's 1aa1abobcoyCalvary Chapel, a 20,000-member "megachurch," over a "moral failing" reported to include extramarital affairs. This reminds us that men of the clergy can be just as ethically bankrupt as the rest of us, and that anybody can throw on a robe and claim to speak for God. What interests me more about this story is the revelation that Calvary Chapel's assets are said to be around $135 million. Hmm. For me, the very idea of the "megachurch," the profiteering big business of of it, does more harm to the idea of religion than the occasional rogue infidel pastor. Of course, I may be wrong.

Poll result: You had NCAA final a razor's edge for Kentucky: We asked who'd win the NCAA Tournament men's championship and rarely have we had a closer blogpoll. It was 50.63 percent for Kentucky, 49.37% for Connecticut.

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May 04, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 01, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February 12, 2013

Sports in Miami: Still a Football Town or now a Basketball Town? Poll. Vote!; plus Canes win again, affenpinscher, Tiger, the next Pope & more

Hurricanes win again!: No. 3-ranked UM men win last night at Florida State, 74-68. Not easy, but impressive considering Canes had not won in Tally since 2006. Poll position: Protected.

1aa1mj50[1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14. New blogpost coming later this morning. 2) Michael Jordan turns 50 and is on Sports Illustrated's cover for the 50th time. 3) Tiger Woods has confirmed he will play the Honda Classic beginning Feb. 28 in Palm Beach Gardens. Huge. Tiger still the biggest draw in golf. 4) Happy 204th birthday yesterday, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, as most know, is the former vampire hunter who also served as U.S. president. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat and Canes on fire, Grammys, Kate Upton. 5b) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

"I may be paranoid. I heard somebody this week refer to 'Fat Tuesday' and I thought they were talking about me." -- Greg Cote

Click on The Ultimate Double-Double for my recent column, on the possibility Miami this year could accomplish something that has happened only twice in 66 years: One city celebrating an NBA title and an NCAA men's champion the same year.

WHAT ARE WE? FOOTBALL TOWN OR BASKETBALL TOWN?: There used to be no doubt. Miami was a Football Town by acclaim. It was so because, rounded off roughly from 1970 through 2000 we had Super 1aa1basketball 1aa1footballBowls, Don Shula, Dan Marino and five Hurricanes national titles in a seemingly endless run. Neither the Heat nor two Marlins World Series crowns could penetrate the football armor, and Panthers hockey stayed mostly on the periphery. Is football losing its grip, though? The Dolphins and Canes haven't been national powers in a long time, while the Heat have become just that. Now, too, suddenly, UM men's hoops ranks No. 3 in the nation. Does the Canes' emergence and especially the full blossom of the LeBron James Era change the dynamic? is Miami now a Basketball Town or at least moving in that direction? That is what this poll is about. Apologies in advance to baseball, hockey, soccer, cricket and kickball fans, but at this point it's an either/or on football or basketball. Remember, this is not a favorite-team poll, but rather a read on which sport is now bigger here. South Floridians, how do we now think of ourselves in terms of sports? Folks from elsewhere, which sport do you now most associate with Miami? Vote and say why.

BANANA JOE IS TOP DOG: Affenpinscher sounds like a condition I should see my doctor about but 1aa1bananajoeinstead is a breed of small dog, and one of its kind, Banana Joe (pictured) won the big prize this week at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The inherent ridiculousness of pampered, preening, prancing dogs on parade is what inspired a favorite movie of mine, Best In Show, which you absolutely must watch if you have not. Still trying to confirm speculation that Banana Joe celebrated his triumph by taking an unceremonious dump on the red carpet.

IF THE NEXT POPE WAS AMERICAN, AND HE WAS A MIAMI SPORTS FIGURE: It has come to my attention that Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down at the end of this month on account of old age, which 1aa1jackpopehappens once every 598 years. Catholics world-wide are abuzz, and speculation roars: Who'll be the next Pope? Enough with Europe, already. It is time for an American Pope! It also is time for tradition-bound Catholics to think outside the box and anoint someone who is devout but also a lay person. My nominee for next Pope, pictured right, is former Marlins manager Jack McKeon: Pope John Aloysius MMIII (the Roman numerals designating the 2003 Marlins World Series title he won). Jack is the right age for a Pope, 82, and is a devout 1aa1donpopeCatholic who attends Mass regularly. The Pope has worn a baseball hat (right); why then can't a baseman man don a papal hat? The 1aa1bbpopeone possible drawback -- cigar smoke in the Vatican -- could be overcome. Should Jack not accept the post, my two other nominees for next Pope are, pictured left, Don Shula or Edwin Pope. Shula is the right age, 83, and also is a devout Catholic. He would be Pope Donald Francis LXXII (designating the '72 Perfect Season). Edwin Pope, 84, may or may not be a Catholic, or devout, but has 1aa1edwinpopethe perfect name. No Roman numerals would be needed. He simply would be Pope Pope. Should the Catholic Church choose to maintain tradition and require that the next Pope be a Cardinal, there is no clear choice. It might have been Stan Musial, but he just died.

OBAMA'S STATE OF UNION ADDRESS: Forgetting the politics or content of it, I thought the oratory was strong. The "they deserve a vote" chant over the applause on gun-control was effective speech-making. By the way, I hate when the other party gets to air the opposing view right afterward. I'd hate it no matter who was or wasn't in office. To me, a president through his election has won the right to present the State of the Union without an immediate televised counterpoint from the side whose ideas and ideals were not elected. I may be wrong.

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March 31, 2012

Who is "face" of Miami Marlins? Vote now (with poll); plus Panthers' momentous day, Kentucky reigns, uh-oh Heat, WrestleMania, Seinfeld, atheism & more

[1) It is Tuesday, April 3. Our yay-or-nay poll on WWE professional wrestling still welcomes your votes in the blogpost directly below this. 2) Ryan Leaf was arrested on burglary and drug possession charges in Montana. Headline: 'Draft Bust Busted.' 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

DOLPHINS ACQUIRE PEYTON MANNING FROM BRONCOS FOR TWO FIRST-ROUND PICKS!: OK that headline was my token April Fool's joke from Sunday. Obligation met. Moving on now...

THE "FACE" OF THE MIAMI MARLINS IS...: ESPN named the "face" of every MLB franchise and for the 1aa1face1 1aa1faceMarlins it was manager Ozzie Guillen. ("Sounds like a poll!," I thought to myself. The timing is right, with the Marlins hosting the Yankees Sunday and again last night at the new ballpark prior to Wednesday's historic Opening Day). I can see the choice of Guillen but for me the current face of the franchise probably is Hanley Ramirez. How about for you? Use your own definition of what the "face of a franchise" even means. Is it always the biggest star? Is it the person who best represents the team? Is longevity a factor? For me it is the person who comes to mind first when you think "Marlins." And for me the face of a franchise demands a national perspective, not just local. What would a baseball fan in New York or California say? Then again I'm more interested in what Marlins fans think. The list is alphabetical, and apologies for initially having "Mike" Stanton instead of Giancarlo. Old habits, ya know? Vote and say why.

Click on Play Ball, Already for my latest column, off Sunday's Marlins-Yankees game.

MOMENTOUS DAY LOOMS FOR PANTHERS: This could be it. Tonight's home game against Winnipeg could find the Panthers clinching an NHL playoff spot after an 10-season drought, finally ending the long suffering of local hockey fans. Florida clinches -- and wins its first division title ever -- by winning tonight. Florida also would clinch if Buffalo lost, or if the Cats and Sabres boht earn only one standings point. Panthers' presumptive first-round playoff opponent looks like the New Jersey Devils. Toughdraw. Whatever. Playoffs! We've missed you Lord Stanley. 

WRESTLEMANIA XVIII: CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKIN'?!: The Rock beat John Cena 1aa1dolwrestlein Sunday night's featured Wrestlemania match at Dolphins stadium. Imagine that? The local hometown hero winning in an upset? FLABBERGASTING! Wrestling: It keeps surpring you, doesn't it? WWE filled the stadium. I kid pro wrestling; not a huge fan. But I respect the business model and how the sport constantly evolves and stays fresh. The packaging and marketing are spot-on.    

SPECIAL K: KENTUCKY BEATS KANSAS IN NCAA FINAL: Can anybody stop Kentucky? Since you asked ... no. As coach John Calipari's nearly NBA-ready Cats proved again last night. The 67-59 margin over Kansas suggested a reasonably close game but it didn't feel that way. Felt like Kentcuky was in control throughout. I had Kentucky winning it all in my pool but was long-eliminated from the money pot so found myself rooting for underdog Kansas. That was the team of juniors and seniors against the one-and-done crowd from Kentucky. Credit where it's due, though. Youth was served.

1aa1beach2 1aa1beach1BIKINIS NOW OPTIONAL IN BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Beginning this summer the Olympics will make bikinis optional in women's beach volleyball. I got excited when I heard that because I thought it would be, like, a clothing-optional beach or something. Instead it means women can now dress more modestly in shorts and sleeved tops if they wish. I find this an outrage! A travesty!! Television ratings will plummet as a once-cheeky, titillating sport (yes I can say that in a blog) dresses up, tones down and becomes just another competition. The operative word here is "barely." That word used to describe why most men watched. Covered up, the word will describe most men's interest level.

1aa1mariasharapovaSHARAPOVA THE SHRIEKER LOSES, DJOKOVIC WINS: Maria "Shriekin'" Sharapova was favored but error-prone and lost Saturday to Agnieszka Radwanska in the women's tennis final down on Key Biscayne. Her loud grunt-squeals on every shot are annoying but when you play that well (except not this time) and look that good (see photo), such idiosyncracies are indulged. Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray as expected Sunday in the largely grunt-squeal-shriek-free men's final.

DWYANE WADE'S NEPHEW SHOT: A nephew of Dwyane Wade, nine years younger, was among six young men shot (one fatally) outside a store on Chicago's South Side late Thursday. Click here for the story. Wade said he expects his relative to recover and that he played with a "heavy heart" in last night's win in Toronto. Just days ago Heat players took a photo wearing hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen killed by a neighborhood-watch guard. Now, for Wade, the gun violence that his foundation works to fight has hit closer to home.

Heat's uh-oh moment in Boston: The week needn't wait for Wednesday's visit by Oklahama City for its drama. Sunday's blowout loss at Boston found the Celtics hot, and a very possible first-round playoff opponent for Miami and a tough draw. Miami was anything but hot. Never I thought I'd see the Big 3 Heat score only 72 points. Celts are creaky-old but still find ways to win. Oprah had her a-ha moment. The Heat (on the road at least) keep giving us uh-oh moments.

1aa1atheistsHOW WOULD GOD FEEL ABOUT ATHEISTS?: Saw a thought-provoking bumper sticker today that declared, 'God Doesn't Believe In Atheists.' Now I'm no expert on theology, but I am led to think a God who is all about forgiveness would hold no animus against (and therefore, in effect, believe in) His non-believers.

MINI-REVIEW: JERRY SEINFELD LIVE: Saw Jerry Seinfeld's stand-up act at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts the other night. (Because when your wife buys two tickets, you don't complain about missing the NCAA basketball semifinals on TV. You say, "Thanks, dear.") I'm a fan of his but not one of those worshipping types who still watches Seinfeld re-runs for the 34th time and laughs all over again. Anyway, I thought his show was great. I mean great. Nothing ground-breaking, just observational humor about everyday stuff. (A schtick about nothing...) No jokes would even be LOL in print. It's all timing and delivery with this guy, and he's a master. Audience howling. Not a single reference to his long-running, iconic, eponymous sitcom, but no matter. Terrific performance.

THE LIST: THE FLORIDA DERBY: In honor of Saturday's 61st running of the Florida Derby at Gulfstream -- a Take Charge indy upset over favored Union Rags -- here are the 12 Fla-Derby winners who went on to win the Kentucky Derby:

Year   Horse

2008   Big Brown

2006   Barbaro

2001   Monarchos

1995   Thunder Gulch

1990   Unbridled

1984   Swale

1979   Spectacular Bid

1968   Forward Pass

1964   Northern Dancer

1961   Carry Back

1958   Tim Tam

1956   Needles

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

July 25, 2011

Can Jeff Ireland do it? Help him set Dolphins' free-agent priority (with poll); plus DeAngelo Williams to Miami and Ronnie Brown to Pats?, bizarre death of Harry Potter's brother & more

[Join our live chat tomorrow/Wednesday 1-2 p.m. Click on Chatty to tap in live then or to post questions, bon mots and pithyisms any time. Also join the modest parade at]. 

Click on TIME FOR JEFF IRELAND TO STEP UP, PROVE HIMSELF for my latest column, online now and shipping to Tuesday's pulp editions. It's on the end of the NFL lockout segueing into a truncated, madcap trades-and-free agency window that finds the Dolphins, and especially GM Jeff Ireland, under the gun to move both boldly and quickly. For Miami, this is an opportunity. Also, it is an obligation. Because Dolfans deserve better.



1aa1lock LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE ENDS! NFL MAKES PEACE!: This new 'Back to Football' logo (above) is bugled across the website. The two sides have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, the 132-day lockout is over, and free-agent and trade negotiations may begin today/Tuesday. Let the madness begin! Click here for a detailed pdf-document summary of the new CBA sent to agents. I'm being a bit facetious on the "long national nightmare," by the way. The NFL lockout of four-plus months affected my life not a bit and, by all indications, affected the NFL hardly at all. No games missed. Preseason scarcely impacted. Best I can tell, teams missed a few "mini-camps" and OTA (organized team activity) days. Big whoop. Plenty of players were secretly thrilled to not have those high-heat mini-camps. Now, on deck: the truncated piranha tank otherwise known as free agency. Click here for a recent column of mine on where the Dolphins should be looking. I would target QBs Kyle Orton or Vince Young, running backs Ahmad Bradshaw, DeAngelo Williams or Reggie Bush (in that order), and also consider WR Plaxico Burress and bringing back OLB Jason Taylor. What would your advice be to Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland? Let's pretend he asked. Help Ireland with his to-do list in terms of Miami's FA priority. Vote now.

1aa1devlin DOLPHINS SIGN A QUARTERBACK! (SORT OF): Dolphins today/Tuesday signed undrafted Delaware QB Pat Devlin (pictured). This is good news if he's being brought in as a longshot training-camp body. This is bad news if this is the extent of Miami's run on guys to compete with Chad Henne. Let's assume and hope it's the former, and that Dolphins still are setting sights on bigger targets like Kyle Orton or Vince Young.

DEANGELO TO MIAMI, RONNIE TO PATS?: Sports Illustrated's wise Peter King projects Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams ending up with Dolphins in his outlook for top 50 free agents in the latest SI. King also guesses projects Miami will land Atlanta guard Harvey Dahl. Also notable, he has Ronnie Brown ending up with Patriots. Oy! In the same issue, SI's Jim Trotter calls QB Vince Young a "good fit" for Miami. Here's hoping it's yes for MIA on both Williams and Young. Meantime, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Miami is interested in newly released Cowboys RB Marion Barber.

BIZARRE CIRCUMSTANCES CLAIM TORTURED LIFE OF HARRY POTTER'S BROTHER: The little-known older 1aa1alpotter brother of Harry Potter has been identified as the victim in what London police are calling the world's first known planking-related death. An apparently drunk Al Potter, 36, died while planking in a West End intersection and being run over by a Fiat driven by the grandson of original Kinks drummer Mick Avory. Planking is a fad in which participants lay face-down in an incongruous setting. Relatives of Al Potter, an orphan, are calling the death a suicide. "He couldn't take it any more," said an aunt who declined to give her name. "Everything was about Harry and it drove him mad. Al was denied admission to Hogwarts, began drinking 12, 15 Stellas a day, had 'Voldemort' tattooed across the broad of his back -- just rebelled in jealousy and went off the deep end. Sad." Al Potter, single, attempted to enter trade school but failed as a blacksmith. He later failed as a Harry Potter impersonator (pictured). Relatives say his depression had worsened recently with failed efforts to self-publish a biographical novel, "The Smithying World Of Al Potter." Funeral arrangements are pending.

1aa1backstreets GIANT-HEADED DON SHULA LEADS "BACK TO FOOTBALL" RALLY: Love the big cardboard cutouts of Brandon Marshall and Jake Long, but not nearly as much as I love the gigantic Don Shula head. This is a local Dolphins-organized Back to Football rally that appears to be populated entirely by Dolphins employees, but, maybe it was just early. At any rate, GIANT SHULA HEAD RULES!

1aa1lebronleg INKY LOVE FOR LEBRON: See, Cleveland, LeBron James is not universally hated, after all. A fan has had a likeness of LeBron's face (and a damned good one at that) tattooed on his leg. The fan posted this photo on Twitter, and LeBron Tweeted back: Oh damn! That's how u feel. I appreciate the love.

BELIEVE, OR BURN?: Some may know I'm a fan of puns and wordplay, so I rather enjoyed a church sign I saw today: "Follow the Son, And You Won't End Up Burning." However, upon further reflection, I thought it a tad harsh to consign cremation in hell to those of perhaps divergent beliefs. When did 'religious tolerance' become an oxymoron? I'm just saying.

1aa1giantshw BEARDED GIANT GETS PAST WHITE HOUSE SECURITY: Here is a photo of Barack Obama honoring the World Series champ Giants at the White House today. I am thinking it is no coincidence that closer Brian Wilson and his astoundingly creepy beard were not allowed anywhere close to the president. Also, cannot confirm that Republicans demanded equal time to profess that they love the Giants even more.

1aa1joepa GOTTA LOVE JOE PA: Pictured is a photo of Penn State octogenarian football coach Joe Paterno in his office staring through lenses thick enough to be hurricane-grade glass at a computer screen the size of a braggart's television. You go, Joe! 

Click back. Likely to be adding yet more stuff to this latest blogpost later...

May 20, 2011

Bulletin: End of world threatens Heat-Bulls Game 3! Wait. Never mind; plus statue mania, Udonis, "In loving memory of..." decals & more

1aa1savage [R.I.P. Randy "Macho Man" Savage, pictured in latter days. Note: Main Heat-Bulls playoff post may be found in the blog directly below this latest post. Also, join us at No contracts, no meetings, open bar].

1aa1judgment HEAT-BULLS GAME 3 IN GRAVE JEOPARDY AS JUDGMENT DAY THREATENS OBLITERATION OF ENTIRE WORLD INCLUDING NBA PLAYOFFS!: It has come to my attention that life as we know it would cease to exist on Saturday. I'm surprised this has not gotten more attention. We're all just so busy! I saw the billboard pictured along the Turnpike the other day and would have thought the result would have been mass panic, or at least a decent vehicular pileup. Evidently May 21, 2011 -- that's today -- is the day of rapture, Judgment Day, when the world will end in joy for believers swept into Heaven, and in despair for heathens. The world ending Saturday naturally means, of course, there will be no Heat-Bulls Game 3 here Sunday. Ticket holders may seek a full refund ... in hell! The 1aa1camping apocalypse also means Miami-Dade has wasted yet more taxpayer money by staging a Tuesday mayoral election that will never come. Further, it means the NFL lockout will never end and the Dolphins' Super Bowl drought will stretch into perpetuity. On a brighter note, Chad Henne will never throw another interception! What will you miss most with Saturday's End of Days? No I mean other than this blog. The May 21 Judgment Day is the brainchild of Family Radio network founder Harold Camping, 89 (pictured). (Why am I imagining God looking at Camping and shaking His head?)  Camping previously predicted Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994, and might have been right, had the request ever made it through Jesus' protective phalanx of personal assistants. Cannot confirm, but I hear Camping has a $100 bet on the Heat covering Sunday. You know, just in case. [Update: The world evidently did not end Saturday as scheduled. So Sunday's Heat-Bulls Game 3 is on pending a delayed Rapture].

HONK IF YOU'VE BEEN IMMORTALIZED WITH A STATUE: Former Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he is underappreciated and feels slighted because the team has not erected a statue in his honor outside the Staples Center. Let me ask you something: How big an ego do you have to have to be miffed because your former employer has failed to immortalize 1aa1skate you in bronze? The statue trend in sports has gotten absurd. Remember when statues were reserved for Greek gods sculpted in marble and historical figures of great importance in the nation's capital? Now Tim Tebow has a couple of nice years and he's in bronze outside Florida Field. How many accolades do you athletes need, anyway? You are lavishly paid and heroically adored. You have championship parades and keys to the city. You have halls of fame and rings of honor. Now you need a statue, too? Really, athletes? I think the only athlete who deserves a statue is the first one to humbly state that's too much. People who make statues for a living must be behind this trend. I see it spreading beyond sports to other walks of life. I see nothing stopping this trend with the possible exception of Saturday's Armageddon. I believe The Miami Herald should erect a statue of me outside 1 Herald Plaza to give the wandering homeless a gathering point. The salesman who moves the most cars should have a statue outside the dealership. Subjects of statues need not stand the test of time, either. Why wait? The other day I drove past a boy expertly riding a skateboard. In his honor I commissioned the statue you see pictured.

1aa1haslemu AN ODE TO UDONIS: In today's column I write with unabashed sentiment in praise of the Heat's Udonis Haslem, and what his Wednesday night playoff performance meant to him, not just to his team and to fans. Click on Heart of the Heat to read it. Haslem will make his home playoff debut Sunday night in Game 3. I think the moment he rises from the bench to enter the game for the first time will be a very, very special moment in that arena. [Update: Just got a nice email from Udonis' old coach, Frank Martin, now of Kansas State, saying thanks for the column and praising Haslem].

1aa1memory ON "IN LOVING MEMORY OF..." CAR DECALS: You know the kind I mean? If not an example is pictured. They are proliferating. What do we think? I have mixed feelings. More power to the vehicle owner who believes this expression is either an outlet for his sorrow or a tribute to his departed friend or relative. I suppose there are no rules on grief. Then again (no disrespect meant) isn't a loved one's death a bit of a personal matter to be casually sharing with the stranger behind you at the red light? Almost a too-much-information thing. It's like having a bumper sticker on your car that reads, 'My Daughter Suffers Clinical Depression'. Of course I could be wrong.

LOCAL RADIO RATINGS: Best battle among the four local sports-talk stations is 6-10 a.m. between WQAM's Joe Rose and 790 The Ticket's Jorge Sedano. Rose won the latest ratings book out this week with 3.5/3.6 by age group to Sedano's 3.0/3.0. The two other stations were blips, with Mike & Mike on 940 registering 0.3/0.8 and Armando & The Amigo on 640 showing 0.0/0.3. Look at me I'm like Barry Jackson here with ratings talk! I'm not sure how you get a 0.0, by the way. I think it means your wife used to listen, but then she switched to Sedano.

THE MIND OF MENDENHALL: Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall previously caused ire by Tweeting in apparent sympathy of Osama bin Laden, blasting those who celebrated his death. Mendenhall's latest Tweet: "Happy Birthday El Hajj Malik El Shabazz #Respect #Salute." That's Malcolm X, of course. Rashard is gradually working his way back into the good graces of the Terrible Towel crowd. I suppose his next Tweet will be to suggest that foreign cars are best and that the American labor movement would be better off without unions.

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost later today and into Saturday...

April 11, 2011

Dear UM: Frank Martin is begging to coach here. Hire him! (with poll); plus Canes hire AD, Heat title odds, Dolphins preseason, religion and sports, dumb statues, Gaga & more

[Live Chat Wednesday! It's today 1-2 p.m. Click on CHAT to join us live then or to post questions early. Also join us at Happy to announce I have been invited to the upcoming Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. OK not really. I lied].

1aa1eichorsts CANES PLUMB WISCONSIN FOR NEW A.D.: University of Miami has hired as its new athletic director Shawn Eichorst, who held the deputy AD position at Wisconsin. Initial thought: Eichorst, pictured, appears to be nearly as white as the guy he replaces, Kirby Hocutt. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Board of Trustees athletic advisory chief Paul DiMare ostensibly led the search, but this hiring bears President Donna Shalala's fingerprints. Eichorst was the No. 2 man to Barry Alvarez, a good friend of Shalala's from her tenure at Wisconsin. Also interesting: One of Eichorst's accounts at UW was overseeing men's basketball. He'll have a say on Miami's pending hire, and a ton of Canes fans are hoping he'll be the last-minute champion who brings Frank Martin back to Miami.

1aa1fmartion MARTIN LOBBIES (QUIETLY) FOR CANES JOB; UM TURNS DEAF EAR: Successful, proven, winning Kansas State coach Frank Martin, the Miami native of Cuban heritage -- the perfect UM hire to replace Frank Haith -- is all but begging for a homecoming, but the Canes aren't calling. UM seemed to favor Harvard's Tommy Amaker but he said Tuesday he's staying in the Ivy League. Martin (pictured) is better. Martin told the Associated Press that Miami hasn't called, but that he'd be willing to listen if they did. Knowing money might be an issue, he went as far as to reveal his salary is $1.1 million, not the $1.55 he has seen reported. In other words, even the money is negotiable. UM has "character" concerns with Martin but should not. It isn't too late. Hire this guy! Click on My Favorite Martin for the newest column by me on this, online now and shipping to Tuesday's pulp edition. (And thanks for making it today's most-read sports column...) Then again my preference for Martin might not be shared. Take a dip in our poll.

HEAT TITLE LIKELIHOOD PUT AT 13.4%. BUT WHO'S COUNTING?: Tonight Heat win at Atlanta, 98-90, to clinch No. 2 seed in conference. Got close in the fourth, but unlikely hero James Jones bucketed seven straight points. Good signs lately. Big game by the bench in Sunday's win over Boston, bow bench-man Jones sparking things. Original post: nerds with a computer and too much free time figured it that the Bulls have a leading 26.6 percent probability of winning the NBA championship as of right now, then it's Miami at 13.4. Rounding out the top five: Nuggets 11.4, Lakers 10.9, Spurs 9.5. Heat catch a break with Boston's inopportune slump, and likely lucking to draw 76ers instead of Knicks as a first-round foe. Miami 3-0 in season vs. Philly and should sweep series or take five games at most.

DOLPHINS' PRESEASON: Announced today: @ Atlanta, home Carolina, @ Tampa, home Dallas.

1aa1a'sbb RELIGION AND SPORTS A WEIRD MIX: USA Today trend piece says more and more leagues, led by MLB, are incorporating religion into their theme nights. For example, the Oakland A's on May 17 will debut a "Jewish Heritage Night." Am told the Marlins will also have a religious-themed night later this season. I don't feel strongly about this and am certainly not anti-religion, I just think it's a bit weird to bring religion so overtly to the ballpark. I thought we had particular places for that called churches, synagogues and mosques.

1aa1wmssis WILLIAMS SISTERS + FASHION = HEAVEN: Pictured left is a photo Serena Williams just posted on her Twitter account. A hot-pink full body stocking. What I love about Serena and Venus' fashion sense is the subtlety, the nuanced understatement.

THE MASTERS: THE THREE LESSONS: 1) Charl Schwartzel has a funny name. 2) Rory McIlroy might never live down Sunday. 3) Though his winless drought goes on, write off Tiger Woods at your own peril. Eldrick has major wins left in him.

NFL LOCKOUT, MADDEN VIDEO NEWS: Judge orders NFL and players to mediation in Minneapolis beginning Thursday. Geez wake me when this ponderous thing is over. In other ridiculous football news, the four finalists to grace the cover of Madden NFL '12 are Peyton Hillis, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick. Logic rules out Hillis (not yet prominent enough) and Vick (lingering doggy baggage), and A.P. is coming of a so-so-for-him year. Rodgers a no-brainer pick.

1aa1tebow PARADE OF DUMB STATUES CONTINUES: Remember when statues were reserved for historical figures of great import? The statue has been devalued by increasing overuse. Latest example: Gators unveil Tim Tebow statue (pictured) outside Florida Field. Are you [bleep]ing kidding me!? Do not be outdone, UM! When next covering a Canes football game I expect to be greeted by a bronze Vinny Testaverde!

IS THERE A TRIPLE CROWN FAVORITE HORSE? NEIGH: Most track denizens pegged the upcoming Kentucky Derby (and by extension Triple Crown) favorite as Uncle Mo, but he took an unexpected crap in the weekend's Wood Memorial prep race. So I say again what I wrote off the Florida Derby: Dialed In is as close to a KY-Derby fave as anything on four legs, bred for distance and with Nick Zito training.

AK-47 NEWS: I saw this headline and I'm thinking, "So that's what Evan Longoria has been doing while on the DL..."

1aa1gaga WELCOME, LADY GAGA: Madonna 2.0 plays the Sunrise arena tonight and Miami Wednesday. I like Lady Gaga, see much talent behind the facade. But I don't like her enough that I wouldn't pass along an embarrassing video of her falling off a piano during a recent concert in Houston. Click here.  

THE LIST: LOCAL PLAYOFF SEASONS: With the Heat's playoff run about to begin, the playoff track record of our four pro franchises:

Team   PO Pct.   (Seasons/Playoff Apps.)

Heat   65.2   (23/15; most recently 2011)

Dolphins   48.9   (45/22; most recently 2008)

Panthers   18.2   (17/3; most recently 2000)

Marlins   11.1   (18/2; most recently 2003)

Click back. Adding more stuff to this new post later...