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15 posts from January 2010

January 29, 2010

Pro Bowl: Exciting or Zzz (with poll); plus Bryant McKinnie embarrasses UM, man offers body part for Super Bowl tix, Marlins picked for last, Wade ranked 6th, The Who's halftime playlist & more

1aa1 1aa1 COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY: It's Sunday, meaning it's one day 'til our daily SUPER BLOG premieres here Monday, Feb.1

 

1aabryant BRYANT McKINNIE: C'MON, MAN!: Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie, the former Miami Hurricane, was kicked off the NFC Pro Bowl squad Saturday after being a no-show for a second straight practice. He didn't call to explain his absence, but Twittered about plans for partying. Sunday, through his publicist, McKinnie claimed he had withdrawn from the team due to "ongoing injuries" of his feet and left ankle. Geez, hope that doesn;t hamper his partying. The whole thing is lame, Bryant. Just goes to remind us again how unimportant the Pro Bowl game is to so many players. For an ex-Cane to do this in a Miami Super Bowl is a plain embarrassment.

1aaleft testicleTHIS MAN SOUNDS LIKE A NUT: A Miami man, in a Craigslist ad (seen at right) offers to "trade left testicle for Super Bowl tickets." That had to be a difficult decision. I mean, left or right...which one goes? I can't blame the guy for making the trade offer. Should be a great game. I'm more worried about the person accepting the trade offer.

YIKES! MARLINS TO FINISH LAST IN NL EAST: Geez, why play the damned season! The first Baseball Prospectus team predictions for 2010 are out, and the Marlins are seen as dead last in their division, set to finish 76-86. Philly wins, followed by Atlanta, Washington (!) and the Mets. Click here for the sadness. Projections are derived from PECOTA: Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithms. I don't know what the hell that is, but it hates the Marlins.

PRO BOWL POLL: You know from recent writings what I think of the Pro Bowl. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll and elaborate.

CBS REJECTS GAY-ORIENTED AD: CBS supposedly has said no-way to a Super Bowl ad that a male dating website called Mancrunch.com tried to buy. Click here. Too bad. They should run it back-to-back with the Tim tebow ad by anti-gay group Focus on the Family. Equal time, you know. 

1aagregoden BUMPER STICKERS I'D LIKE TO SEE: "I'm Bigger Than Greg Oden." I particularly liked the NBA'er's response to the nude photos of him that were publicized on the Internet by an ex-girlfriend -- photos that exposed some, ah, um, largeosity south of the beltline. "Those were taken over a year and a half ago," he explained. "I've grown since then." OY!  

WADE SIXTH ON 'POWER' LIST: Heater Dwyane Wade is No. 6 on the 2010 Bloomberg/BusinessWeek Power 100 ranking of athletes based mostly on earning potential, and based on what they did (and raked in) in '09. Ahead of him: Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Phil Mickelson, Albert Pujols and Peyton Manning. Other locals who are ranked: Serena Williams (16), ex-UM'er Andre Johnson (38), Venus Williams (42), Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez (61), ex-Cane Ray Lewis (78), and Miami native Chad Ochocinco (98). Conspicuously absent: Marlin Hanley Ramirez. Baseball contemporaries of his made the list (David Wright, Evan Longoria), but not Hanley, because his outside endorsements are lacking. Also, Derek Rose made the list but Michael Beasley did not.

THE WHO'S HALFTIME PLAYLIST: These things are supposed to be big secrets, but a Random Evidence supersource tells us The Who's Super Bowl halftime performance will be a medley with parts of five songs: Baba O'Riley, Pinball Wizard, Tommy, Who Are You and Won't Get Fooled Again. Meantime, a child-abuse group has mailed "pedophile advisory" postcards to homes around the stadium complaining that Who guitarist Pete Townshend spent five years (through 2008) on Britain's sex offenders list related to the Internet and child pornography, a search he claimed as research related to his own childhood. Townshend was never criminally charged, did his time on that list and now deserves a fresh slate. Rock on

1aatigerballs TAIL OF THE TIGER: Tailofthetiger.com is offering novelty golf balls (pictured right) immortalizing Tiger Woods' various mistresses. Fore-teen!

HEADLINES YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU'D SEE (one in an occasional series): Let's all agree we don't wanna see the guy this fits. Click here.

Twitter.com/gregcote

January 26, 2010

The Pro Bowl mess; plus truth on Wade vs. LeBron, Johnny Weir on fur, Michael Stanton, Tebow in draft & more

1aajd [R.I.P. -- J.D Salinger. Somewhere, hidden in some box in some closet in my house, is a dogeared copy of "Catcher in the Rye"...]

[Colts-Saints in the Miami Super Bowl. Who wins? Vote in poll in blog post directly below this].

1aa3 1aa3 COUNTDOWN: 3 DAYS: Happy Friday. It is now three days 'til our daily SUPER BLOG premieres Monday, Feb. 1.


THE PRO BOWL MESS: The NFL erred badly moving the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl, thus eliminating Pro Bowl'ers who made the SB. The so-called all-star game also suffers from lack of interest on the part of players, who routinely drop out with made-up "injuries." The pro Bowl needs to be scrapped, or fixed. I offer a couple of solutions in a column today. Click here.

UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH ABOUT WADE VS. JAMES REVEALED:

 I read an account that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade put on "a show for the ages" last nigh1aadwadet here at the Bayside gym. No they didn't. Not unless the game stopped at halftime. Wade's performance in the second half was whatever the opposite of a "show for the ages" is. How does a man who scorches the nets for 30 points in the first half end up with 32 for the night? What were the odds? How does a guard with Wade's skillset miss seven free throws including a pair in the clutch? And then watch as friendly rival LeBron steals his pass in the closing seconds to cause a 92-91 Heat loss? This defeat was on Dwyane. His second half was embarrassing. He is heaped with so much praise down here -- and rightfully -- but there are times when the truth is unavoidable. So here is today's truth: Wade is not the best. From a national regard he has not been the best player in the NBA, and he won't be. Kobe Bryant held that title early in Wade's career and LeBron "King" James holds it now. Without question. No equivocation. D-Wade vs. LeBron is not a modern Magic vs. Bird. The latter was open to real debate. This isn't. The only issue now is who's No. 2 behind James. Is it still Kobe? Is it D-Wade? Are Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant coming on to stake a claim? Don't take this wrong, Heat fans. Wade is great. A true superstar in an age that cheapens the word with frivolous use. He ranks with Dan Marino as the very best we have had and we're lucky he's ours. He is not LeBron, though. If you needed a reminder, you got one.

1aajweir IS JOHNNY WEIR RIGHT?: The group Friends of Animals (beating PETA to the punch, apparently) is railing against U.S. Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir over his use of fur in a performing costume (pictured). I find Weir's response interesting and find his opinion somewhat like my own. Are we wrong? Weir is reported to have said: "I totally get the dirtiness of the fur industry and how terrible it is to animals. But it's not something that's the No. 1 priority in my life. There are humans dying every day. There are thousands if not millions of homeless people in New York City. Look at what just happened in Haiti. I tend to focus my energy, if there is a cause, on humans. While that may be callous and bad of me, it's my choice."

MARLINS OVERSEAS: Click here for an article in an English-language Kuwait newspaper on the Marlins' current trip abroad. It truly is a goodwill tour. Now if we can just figure a way to shuttle those kids from Kuwait to Marlins home games.

1aamstanton REMEMBER THE NAME: MICHAEL STANTON: Marlins diehards already know it. The rest will soon. Stanton (pictured) is a corner outfielder, age 20, pegged the No. 2 overall 2010 prospect in all of MLB on this new list, after only Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Marlins place two others in top 100: No. 51 1B Logan Morrison and No. 86 RHP Jhan Martinez. Stanton is 6-5 and described as a Dave Winfield type with "monstrous power." Tantalizing to think he may be ready to blossom fully by new-stadium year 2012.

TEBOW DRAFT STOCK PLUMMETING?: Well, the harsh headline in today's Tampa Tribune bugles, "Tebow draft stock already tanking at Senior Bowl" (click here), even though the first practice was Monday. Geez how does your draft stock tank on the first day? That must have been some awfully bad stretching, Timmy! The Dolphins staff is in Mobile, Ala., coaching Tebow's side and, ironically, Miami is partly why the NFL might be skeptical about Tebow's future. The Dolphins are now seen as over-drafting Pat White in the second round, which sounds a cautionary note for teams that envision Tebow as a Wildcat or situational QB. I can't remember another player whose draft stock has been as all over the map -- from late first round to fourth.

CAPPING DAWSON'S CAREER: The baseball Hall of Fame announced today (Wednesday) that an Expos cap would adorn the head of Miamian Andre Dawson on his Cooperstown plaque. It was that or Cubs. The decision is considered an affronr to America! Not really, I just felt like saying that. 

[Thanks to all who tapped into LIVE CHAT WEDNESDAY! We do it 1-2 p.m. every week in the prestigious Q&A Forum; admission free. Click HERE to join live then or to post questions early].

Twitter.com/gregcote

January 24, 2010

It's Saints-Colts in the Miami Super Bowl! Who wins? Vote in poll now!

1aa7 1aa7 [THE REAL COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS: Seven days 'til the launch of our daily SUPER BLOG on Monday, Feb. 1].

[Vote in our pick-the-Super Bowl-winner poll immediately below in this blogpost. Be the first on your block to cast a vote!]

After a summer of training camp, way-too-many preseason games, 256 regular-season games and 10  playoff games, it's down to this. The ultimate reality-TV: The Survivors: Colts-Saints...

1aaindy COLTS 30, JETS 17 (FINAL): Jets "L-O-S-E LOSE!" Hey they were in it early, even led, but ultimately favored Indy overwhelmed NYJ 30-17, led by Peyton Manning's 377 passing yards and three TDs ..... Manning-to-Collie TD pass just before half restores order ..... A QB sneak by Manning is your best play there? Oy ..... Original post: Indy favored by 7 1/2 and I like the Colts comfortably, 24-13. Team Peyton handled Baltimore easily last week, and NYJ is a mirror-image of Ravens, from the Rex Ryan defense to the run-first offensive style. Constant readers know I've never been a big fan of Jets fans, so I'll admit I have a visceral interest in this result beyond my pick. No one figure in the NFL could use a little dose of humility more than the bellicose rookie-coach Ryan. Special note: Both teams were guilty of pre-selling "AFC Champions" merchandise. Meaning one team will get its comeuppance, and the other proven merely prescient.

1aanos SAINTS 31, VIKINGS 28 (Final): Little-known kicker Garrett Hartley connects a 40-yard FG in overtime and the 42 years of franchise disappointment lifts from the Saints ...... Adrian Peterson TD run with 4:58 left ties it 28-28 ..... Reggie Bush angles in for 28-21 lead, affirmed by replay after a coach's challenge. Huge fumble loss by Percy Harvin sets up the go ahead TD ..... Adrian Peterson TD run ties it 21-21 ..... Pierre Thomas another TD and NO up 21-14 early in 3rd ..... Huge muffed-punt turnover by Saints' Reggie Bush late in half -- but Vikes give it right back on muffed handoff between Favre and Peterson. What a giant break for New Orleans! ..... NO 14-14 on Brees 9-yard TD pass to Devery Henderson. Anybody wanna play a little defense around here? No? OK ..... MIN 14-7 on Favre 5-yard TD bullet to Sidney Rice ..... NO 7-7 on Pierre Thomas taking a screen pass and cut-back-turning it into a 38-yard score ..... MIN 7-0 on impressive opening drive capped by 19-yard Adrian Peterson scoring run ..... Cannot remember hearing a louder crowd ..... Original post: I am in the Crescent City (one of my favorite places) columnizing off this game, and it's one of those "event" assignments that get me excited, even after all these years. Saints favored by 3 1/2, and I like N'Awlins, 34-30. An insane crowd and Minny's .500 road record will offer a true home-field edge, and I also like Drew Brees and that offense versus a beatable Vikes' secondary. Special note: Prince, the elfin Minnesotan, quick-wrote a fight song for the Vikings called "Purple and Gold." It's sort of the opposite of a pump-up song. If it played in the Vikes' pregame lockerroom it would get funny looks. It is awful. Listen.  

Your thoughts on today's games, on the matchups and results, are welcome here.

NFL Championship Weekend Fact-O-Rama Six-Pack, just for you:

1. Current Bodog Super Bowl odds entering the day: Colts 6-5, Saints 2-1, Vikings 4-1, Jets 13-2. BetUS.com had it Colts 6-5, Saints 2-1, Vikings 17-4, Jets 7-1.

2. Colts' Jim Caldwell becomes fifth rookie head coach in a Super Bowl, after Don McCafferty (1970 Colts), Red Miller ('77 Broncos), George Seifert ('89 49ers) and Bill Callahan (2002 Raiders).

3. Drew Brees vs. Brett Favre surprisingly marked only second time a conference title game has featured QBs who each passed for 4,000 yards that season. The other: Drew Bledsoe-Mark Brunell (Pats-Jags) in 1996.

4. The 5th-seeded Jets would have been only third 5-or-lower-seed to reach Super Bowl since current playoff format began in 1990, after Steelers (6th/2005) and Giants (5th/2007). Jets also would have been only third 9-7 team to reach SB, after 1979 L.A. Rams and 2008 Cardinals, both of whom lost.

5. Favre became oldest QB to start a conf-champ game, at 40 years, 106 days, out-aging Johnny Unitas (38y, 240 d) from 1971. Oppositely, had Jets won, Mark Sanchez would have been youngest Super Bowl starter ever at 23 years, 88 days. That distinction now remains Dan Marino's.

6. Saints-Vikings was first champ-game duel of league's No. 1-2 ranked scoring offenses since 49ers-Cowboys in 1994.

January 21, 2010

NFL final-four predix; plus Tebow sticks beak in your life, Jets-Colts jump gun, Rolando McClain to Dolphins?, Tiger rehab photo, urine on court & more

Twitter.com/gregcote

1aa9 1aa9 [THE REAL COUNTDOWN: 9 DAYS: Nine days as of today/Saturday 'til the launch of our daily SUPER BLOG on Monday, Feb. 1].

NFL FINAL-FOUR PREDIX: It's a Colts-Saints Super Bowl. Good for Miami. Good for the NFL. Not so good for Jets and Vikings. Click on Championship Game Gems for our AFC and NFC picks. Click on Deserving Fans Meter for our related column on why Saints and Vikings fans deserve good news Sunday so much more than Colts or Jets fans.

1aabk SOUTH BEACH BURGER KING TO SERVE BEER: Great news for those wishing to push their diet to even unhealthier levels: A Whopper and fries, chased by beer. Click here.

1aatimt TIM TEBOW WANTS YOU TO HAVE THAT CHILD, DAMMIT!: (Whether you want to or not!) Granted, the law indicates pregnant women may choose for themselves regarding their bodies and whether to have a legal abortion. But Tebow and his mother, Pam, have teamed with conservative group Focus On The Family for a pro-life/anti-choice ad that will air during the Super Bowl. What's interesting is CBS-TV has a policy prohibiting "advocacy ads" that take sides in fractious political issues such as this. Since CBS is allowing an anti-abortion ad, would it also allow, say, an anti-gay marriage ad during the Super Bowl? (Focus On The Family is anti-gay marriage, too, unless that went without saying). I have no problem with pro-lifers (except of course their extreme, lunatic fringe who scream "Murder!" and think killing doctors who perform abortions is justifiable). I sometimes wish pro-lifers had that same tolerance for the other side, but that's another story. But I also believe religion and this choice are personal, private things. CBS is wrong to violate its own policy by airing an advocacy ad on this topic. CBS would be wrong if it were airing a pro-life ad, too. The network is star-struck by Tebow or mesmerized by the $2.8 million being paid for the 30-second spot. The ad will be jarring, especially in the context of all the funny, talking-donkey ads. Also the ad will upset more people than it pleases, if we are to believe opinion polls on this issue. There is a place for rigorous political debate, but during the Super Bowl? It'd be like you throwing a big Super Bowl party and one of your guests shows up on a bullhorn railing against the evils of drinking. Out of place, man! Call this a mistake by CBS. And the first fumble of Tebow's professional career.

1aacolts champs 1aajetswin JETS, COLTS ALREADY SELLING CHAMPIONSHIP GEAR: Geez, can we root for both to lose Sunday? The Jets (left) and Colts (right) both already are selling merchandise that declares they are AFC champions. 

BUYER'S MARKET FOR ANQUAN BOLDIN: A year ago WR-needy teams like the Dolphins would have had to spend a first-round to pick pry Anquan Boldin from Arizona. Not now. Boldin's age (turning 30 in October) and injury history -- plus the emergence in 'Zona of Steve Breaston and especially Early Doucet to augment Larry Fitzgerald -- make Boldin gettable for less. Anquan is still better than anybody Miami has and would be worth acquiring for the right price.

ROLANDO MCCLAIN TO DOLPHINS IN FIRST ROUND: Miami takes the Alabama inside-linebacker 12th overall, according to the very first (of 738) mock drafts by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.

DOLPHINS-JETS, LOTS OF SIMILARITIES: I liked the column today by a colleague headlined, 'Jets victory would validate Dolphins.' In fact I liked it so much I wrote it two days earlier.   :)    Tuesday's column (click here) spoke extensively about how the Jets are the one team in the final four with a style like Miami's. Guess some people missed it.   :D   I wrote, "The bedrock belief in strong running and solid defense -- what the Dolphins want to be, philosophically, is what the Jets came closer to perfecting first." And, "Miami needn't knee-jerk to the blueprints of the Colts, Vikings and Saints and try to completely retool and become what they are not. It is more plausible that Miami take heart that a team built around similar ideals can succeed, with the Jets as proof."  I feel flattered. I think.

1aatigerrehab NEW TIGER PHOTO: The National Enquirer has published this photo (left) of Tiger Woods taken at the sex-addiction rehab clinic at which he is staying. I have seen it called a "PR nightmare" for Tiger. Why? Because he's wearing a scary hoodie? Ooh! The only PR nightmare in this photo is if the cup is determined to contain straight bourbon. C'mon. I make fun of Tiger as much as the next guy. (OK, a little more). But give the guy a damn break. Sheesh. 

AUSTRALIAN OPEN MATCH DELAYED BY URINE: It happened when a ballboy inadvertantly whizzed all over the court. Seriously. Click here for the story, which happened during an obscure match. The poor kid will either retreat into a dark shell of humiliation, scarred for life, or star in a short-lived reality-TV series, followed by a boxing match against Danny Bonaduce. 

1aabedwarmers HUMAN BED WARMERS: Some Holiday Inns in Britain now offer Human Bed Warmers (pictured right), people who hop under the covers with you to lower the temperature of your sleep cocoon. Seriously. I think wayward men just received the gift of a potential alibi. "Officer, this most certainly is NOT a prostutute! She is a Human Bed warmer."

January 18, 2010

Play fun Tiger Woods video game here; plus Mike Nolan, Zo, Sun Life Stadium (ugh), Marlins in Iraq, Uggla, Johnny Weir, Palin at 500 & more

[Bulletin: ESPN's 30 on 30 series had added an "intimate profile" of Ricky Williams, entitled Run Ricky Run and set to debut Aprtil 27].

[Which of four possible Super Bowl matchups would you prefer? Voting continues in the post directly below this one].

COUNTDOWN RE-COUNT! I have decided to launch my daily Super Blog the week of the game. So it debuts on Monday, Feb. 1, not a week earlier. I'll start a 10-day countdown this Friday

 

1aatiger PLAY NEW "TIGER'S TRANGRESSIONS" GAME!:

The object is for Tiger to knock out his mistresses with a golf shot before they can reach the TV truck and start yakking. Fun! Place cursor where you want ball to land. Takes a little while to get the hang of it. My personal best score is 14. Game lasts nine Ho's. Click HERE to give it a shot.

1aamiken IT'S NOLAN. TRULY: The Dolphins hired veteran NFL defensive coordinator Mike Nolan (right) as their DC. During his 49ers head-coaching term he was known for dressily nattily in suits on the sideline. Can he make Miami's defense look as sharp? I think it's a good move, smart hire. I say why in a new column that has hurtled through cyberspace and landing online here, and also appears in Wednesday's paper. 

MIKE GREENBERG'S SLIP: The Greenberg half of the Mike & Mike radio show on ESPN slipped yesterday and referred to "Martin Luther Coon King Jr." before quickly correcting himself. The requisite apology followed, seeming absolutely sincere. It is news today, with speculation about a suspension. I say we let Mike off the hook. It could have been worse. He could have been like Mark McGwire and waiting around 12 years to apologize.

ZO'S KIND HEART STILL BEATING: Retirement hasn't stopped him, or the good he does. Now comes word that the Haiti fundraisng efforts of Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade have generated pledges of more than $800,000 so far from other athletes. What an example Zo is for other athletes, for others in general. His capacity for generosity and philanthrophy are not much less than inspiring. Well done, sir.

WELCOME TO SUN LIFE STADIUM: Today the word is out that Dolphin-turned-Land Shark Stadium will be rechristened Sun Life Stadium in time for the Pro Bowl/Super Bowl, with an official announcement expected Wednesday. Y'all know how I feel about corporate naming rights. The memory and legacy of franchise founder (and stadium visionary) Joe Robbie could only be more mistreated if his cryogenically frozen head were being used for batting practice like the skull of Ted Williams. The bright side? Having your stadium pimped out to a Canadian-based financial corporation instead of being named after a second-tier beer is probably a push at worst. Please join me in continuing to refer (in my case in print, always) to Dolphin Stadium, or to its nostalgic nickname, The Joe.

1aakimbo CATCHING UP WITH KIMBO: Miami's Kimbo Slice, the fading mixed martial arts novelty, poses recently with Elton John in an effort by Slice to increase his "street cred." 

1aajohnnyweir JOHNNY WEIR: No. No, I have no reason whatsoever to believe all the speculation that U.S. figure skater Johnny Weird Weir (pictured left) might be gay. So what if he is? Or isn't? Or might or might not be? Why do you even ask?

ON UGGLA'S DEAL: Like that Marlins avoided Dan Uggla and buttoned him up for this season at a fair price, another byproduct of MLB wrist-slapping the club and telling it publicly to spend more on players. Don't kid yourself, though. Team would still trade Uggla (and his salary) for the right deal. 

MARLINS HEADING TO IRAQ: That reminds me. A group of 10 Marlins including manager Fredi Gonzalez and rookie of the year Chris Coghlan will visit troops in Iraq and Kuwait Jan. 24-Feb. 1. The party will include four "Mermaid" cheerleaders. I love the idea of scantily clad Mermaids deployed to where Muslim mores are so strictly held.   

1aapalin SARAH PALIN AT DAYTONA 500: The failed VP candidate will be a special guest at next month's big race, with Daytona International Speedway president Robin Braig explaining the track will "showcase her just as much as we would our mayor, our governor or our sentaors." Interesting. The one distinction I might draw is that Palin is not one of "our" elected officials, or an elected official at all, for that matter. Braig indicated she gained approval from NASCAR political advisers. Who knew NASCAR had political advisers?

Twitter.com/gregcote

January 16, 2010

Poll: What is your preferred Super Bowl matchup?

1aa7 1aa7 COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS 'TIL SUPER BLOG! Our daily Super Blog will commence on Monday, Jan. 25.

SUPER BOWL MATCHUP POLL: Vote right now! C'mon, it's the "Miami Super Bowl." WE get to decide! Which SB matchup do you most want to see?].

Next Sunday: Jets at Colts in AFC title game, 3 p.m.; Vikings at Saints in NFC title game, 6:40 p.m.

SECOND-ROUND PLAYOFFS: NFL down to its final six now as the countdown to the Miami Super Bowl is today/Sunday at 21 days. Love to keep saying the phrase "Miami Super Bowl." It lets me sort of pretend the Dolphins are in it, almost, in a way. Anyhow, back to reality. Saints and Colts are in after winning Saturday and will host next week's conference title games. Today we learn who their underdog-opponents will be. Your thoughts on yesterday's games and today's matchups invited here.

My kingdom for a decent game! The six playoff games entering today have been won by an average margin of 17.2 points and produced one compelling game. And that was before the Cowboys-Vikes blowout.

1aaminn VIKINGS 34, COWBOYS 3 (Final) -- Ouch. That last TD pass with less than 2 minutes left might have been rubbing in it ... Brett Favre to Sidney Rice twice for 14-3 ... Original post: This to me was the toughest game of the weekend's four to pick and should be the best game. Vikes are favored by three points although it almost feels like Dallas should be. I pick Minnesota 28-24 and siding with a home fave has seldom felt so much like an upset pick. I put a lot of stock in an 8-0 home record, in the magic left in Brett Favre's paw, in Adrian Peterson coming alive, and in Minny's run-D doing a better job than Philly did last week.

1aanyj JETS 17, CHARGERS 14 (Final): Nate Kaeding, former NFL kicker ... Original post: This is the only weekend game that feels lopsided to me. Chargers favored by 7 1/2 and I pick the Bolts, 27-13, with a potential for an even bigger rout. SD might be best team in NFL right now, on an 11-game win streak, and Jets don't have the offensive pop to keep up. By the way, I do no intentionally try to annoy Jets fans. I really don't. It is just a pleasant byproduct of my picks. Like a bonus.

Saturday's results:

1aanos SAINTS 45, CARDINALS 14 (Final) -- No. 1 seed Fleur de Lis hosting NFC title game next week ... Had Saints, but figured 'Zona would show up a little better. Man! N'Awlins shook off that rusty pretty good. Who dat! ... Arizona allowed 90 points in its two playoffs games. Oy! ... Over/under on this game was around 58, seemed low early but turned out right on-point ... Somebody revoke Cards' playoff card! Arizona has allowed 66 points the past five quarters through the first today ... Original post: A gunslingin' shootout between Kurt Warner and Drew Brees is all but a guarantee, with the over/under approaching 60 and the prospect of 700 combined passing yards not unrealistic. N'Awlins favored by 7; my pick is Saints winning but not covering, 34-30. I must side with the NFL's highest-scoring offense, at home, against a 'Zona defense that got rappy-cacked* pretty good by the Pack last week. (*Rappy-cacked. That's phonetic; not positive on the spelling. It's a shoutout to Rick Weaver. Anybody remember Rick Weaver?).

COLTS 20, RAVENS 3 (Final) -- Baltimore's offensive coordinater, Cam Cameron, hasn't enjoyed1aaindy this kind of success since 2007 ... Indy scores huge cushion-TD in closing seconds of first half when Reggie Wayne reaches ball over goalline just ahead of Ray Lewis in duel of great ex-Canes ... First TD of game at 2-minute warning of first half ... Don't count on on another pointfest here ... Joe Flacco reportedly has hip issues, but will play. Original post: Interesting contrast of physical vs. finesse, ferocious defense vs. poppin' O, Ray Lewis staring down Peyton Manning. Indy favored by 6 1/2; I like Colts but barely, 21-20. I worry about Nags' run-D stopping Ray Rice. Also wonder if Indy can shake that late-season letdown and get all the cylinders flying on cue. Venue and Peyton swing the pick, but a Balt upset would not surprise.

60 MINUTES CATCHES UP ON SAMOA: CBS' 60 Minutes, appealing to the oldest demographic this side of Murder, She Wrote, has a piece on Sunday's show on why so many NFL players come from tiny American Samoa. Sure, the piece may be several years tardy. Watch anyway. I hear the segment includes footage of a 380-pound Samoan nose tackle pancaking Andy Rooney.

NFL TV RATINGS GONE WILD: Last week's four Wild Card Weekend games together were the most watched in 15 years, and a 16 percent spike over a year earlier. Packers-Cardinals, with 34.4 million viewers, was the league's most watched first-round playoff game since 1999. Analysts credit Greg Cote's blog.

DSC01093_0355 [ME TV: Thanks again to Kim Bokamper and CB4 for having us on the SportsZone show last night to chat up NFL playoffs.

Twitter.com/gregcote

January 14, 2010

NFL round-2 playoff picks; plus no-go on Groh, Rush Limbaugh, Josh Johnson, A-Rod's new distraction, Orrin Hatch, Whipple, Ass family & more

1aagreg [Cannot get "Pants on the Ground" outta my head. Sorry...]

NFL DIVISIONAL PICKS:

Online now and in today's/Friday's paper are my second-round NFL playoff picks for this weekend. Click on NFL Divisional Gems for all the whats and whys. All homies this week. No upsets. Although Vikes over Cowboys feels like an upset based on opinions I'm hearing at the grass-roots level. Resist. Stick with Favre at home. And click on Hall Pass for my NFL column focusing on the Hall of Fame chances of players still alive in the playoffs.

NO-GO ON GROH: Al Groh is going to Georgia Tech, ESPN.com reports today. The Dolphins had interviewed him for their defensive coordinator opening and he seemed a leading candidate, given his long past with Bill Parcells. Another candidate, Romeo Crennel, previously took the DC job with the Chiefs. Hey, anybody wanna coach the Dolphins defense? Hullo?

1aarush THE HEART OF RUSH LIMBAUGH: So Rush tells his legion of radio lemmings listeners yesterday that, "We've already donated to Haiti. it's called the U.S. income tax." Click here for more, via the Huffington Post. Did Rush specifically tell people they should not contribute to the Haiti relief efforts? No. but the implication is pretty clear when you are telling a conservative, anti-Obama audience that president is using to crisis to feather his own reputation for humanitarianism. I trust (although I have my doubts) that even some of Limbaugh's blind-faith followers may have thought that their man crossed the line with some of his Haiti-related remarks. To me, what he said came off as rather heartless. Also, a little bit un-American.

LaDAINIAN's ELECTRIC GLIDE: L.T., the Chargers' LaDainian Tomlinson, has a new video you'd see by clicking on Electric Glide. It debuts a new dance he has created and sort-of raps about here. I have a feeling New York Jets defenders have seen it. Alas, a dance more closely mirroring Tomlinson's career arc might have been called Electric Slide. The viewer might be hard-pressed to decide which is worse: L.T.'s new dance. Or his 2009 season.

UPDATED PLAYOFF ODDS: Cardinals-Saints opening with an over/under of 57 is the highest playoff o/u since Bodog has kept track, since 1985. Previous high was 55.5 for Falcons-Vikings in the 1999 NFC Championship Game. (By the way, since the current postseason format began in 1990, No. 1 seeds are 28-10 in this round, but only 3-5 the past four years). Bodog's updated win-Super Bowl odds for the final eight are Colts 3-1, Chargers 10-3, Saints 4-1, Vikes and Cowboys 6-1, Ravens 12-1, and Cards and Jets 14-1. Most likely Miami SB matchup remains Colts-Saints at 11-3. AFC team will open as 3-point fave with o/u of 51.5.

1aajosh MARLINS' WOODSHEDDING PAYS IMMEDIATE DIVIDENDS: The Marlins got caught underspending on player payrolls, were ordered by MLB to spend more and -- viola! -- today the club reached a 4-year deal with ace pitcher Josh Johnson (pictured). Imagine if such spending had been voluntary and happening all along! Johnson and Hanley ramirez now locked-up long-term. It's a start.

1aaass THE ASS FAMILY: Am I allowed to say that in a blog? All I am doing is reporting the news. For example, the rear-window decal pictured at right would be real if it were not emailed to me by a "wacky" friend of mine, and passed along to you posthaste.

MR. WHIPPLE: All of this speculation of Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Mark Whipple maybe leaving -- no way to be sure yet whether this is real, or the stuff of Mark's agent's ingenuity. In any case, Whipple is good. He greatly improved UM's offense this past season. And reasonable Canes fans should hope he stays.

1aaspottswood AS THE A-ROD TURNS: As a public service this blog would confirm that randy (though not as randy as Tiger Woods) Miamian Alex Rodriguez has dumped actress Kate Hudson and is now squiring one Elaine Spottswood, pictured right. Good luck to them both. By the way, have you ever noticed that, the rich athletes, they never date the hags?

1aajamie JAMIE DUKES' PLAN FOR YOU: Former really fat NFL offensive lineman Jamie Dukes (1986-95; pictured) is a new pimp spokesman for surgical weight loss. Click here for his story. Whatever happen to exercise and sensible eating? (Praying this is a "before" photo). 

SEN. ORRIN HATCH BELIEVED TO BE ON DRUGS: Hatch has asked President Obama to honor Boise State's football team at the White House. Not because they are national champions. Because they are not. But because they finished unbeaten and (it follows) therefore got "cheated" by the dastardly BCS. Dear Hatch: Alabama is champ, officially. Alabama gets honored. Deal with it, and go about your business doing whatever people in Utah do.

Twitter.com/gregcote

January 12, 2010

Idol's Pants on the Ground; plus Groh to Dolphins?, Marlins' cheapness, Miami shames itself in election, UM hoops, World Cup & more

[HELP HAITI: Visit www.iwant2help.org for a joint relief effort of The Miami Herald and United Way-Miami].

1aalarry platt PANTS ON THE GROUND: General Larry Platt's "Pants On The Ground," seen last night on American Idol, is a new song that might not be sweeping the nation, but is sweeping this blog. Click on Pants to see and hear an older black man rant against baggy, drawers-baring pants. Gen. Platt is pictured right. Am I the only one who thinks he bears a slight resemblance to Michael Irvin?

1aagroh DEFENSIVE CANDIDATE GROHS ON DOLPHINS: Looks like former Virginia coach Al Groh (pictured left) could be the Dolphins new defensive coordinator, replacing the canned Paul Pasqualoni. Groh, 65, is an old experienced coach who has a long history with Bill Parcells. One prime candidate for the Miami DC job was X'd off the list when Romeo Crennel signed on with the Chiefs. Click here for the Groh file.

1aaloria BULLETIN: MARLINS CAUGHT BEING CHEAP!:

Everybody knew it. I've been writing it for years. But Tuesday it became official. Major League Baseball and its players union came out publicly and admonished the Marlins for underspending on its player payrolls -- specifically for not spending as much from its revenue-sharing proceeds as the rules require. This is an extraordinary public spanking. It is unprecedented. [Click here for today's column by me on this, fresh out the oven]. The Marlins are free to admit no wrongdoing and spin it 'til it's dizzy but the bottom line is clear. They have been cheating the rules and shortchanging their fans, and they got caught. The club will now spend at least the minimum required on payrolls not because it's right or because it's the rule, but because they got publicly shamed into it. [Pictured at right, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria indicates the number of dollar bills he is willing to spend on free agency].

WORLD CUP FEVER SWEEPS MIAMI, SORT OF: The U.S. World Cup bid committee has named Miami among 18 finalist cities to host games if the U.S. is awarded the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022. Let me get this straight. Miami might or might not be hosting games in an event that might or might not be held in America in eight or 12 years. Hmm. Is it too soon to get in line for tickets? Too early to practice our goal calls? GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL! 

JANUARY MADNESS! CANES BASKETBALL, BAY-BEEE!: While UM fans were busy complaining about Randy Shannon, the Hurricanes men's basketball team got off to a 15-1 start and the UM women a 14-2 start. Now, this week, both are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 together for the first time. Click here for today's (Thursday's) column by me on UM hoops. I'd say "Enjoy it while you can because the ACC games are kicking in," but that might come off as mean.

1aamichelle MIAMI EMBARRASSES ITSELF IN ELECTION: Miami voters overwhelmingly return to office a commissioner, Michelle Spence-Jones (pictured left), who was suspended for redirecting county funds to a family business. What's a little evidence of corruption and graft, right Miami! 

IT'S OFFICIAL: THE NEW YORK KNICKS HAVE FINALLY RUN OUT OF EXCUSES: Team blames haunted hotel for latest loss. Click on Ghost Story for the pathetic details.

1aacowell AMERICAN IDOL LAUNCHES NEW SEASON: Started last night, and it's a guilty pleasure of mine I'll admit. Looking forward to when Ellen DeGeneres kicks in as new judge. No strong opinion on Simon Cowell leaving after this season, except to say he'll be missed, and to fire a preemptive strike and hope they don't replace him with (coincidentally) an acerbic British guy. [Pictured right: Cowell in an uncharacteristically happy moment].

Twitter.com/gregcote

January 11, 2010

Dolphins fire defensive chief; plus McGwire, who should win Super Bowl? (with poll), Namath's daughter, Dolphins 14th in swagger, new Tiger ad & more

1aapaul DOLPHINS FIRE DEFENSIVE CHIEF: Club announced late today that D-coordinator Paul Pasqualoni (pictured left) is out the door, suddenly and surprisingly, based on the fact my paper's fulltime Dolphins experts have been saying no coaching changes were expected. Let's see who the new guy is before we weigh in on the change. Also a farewell to longtime Dolphins executive Bryan Wiedmeier, who is leaving to join the Browns' front-office. Bryan is one of the true good guys I have known, although I must now question his sanity for voluntarily leaving sunny Miami for snowbound Cleveland.

1aamcgwire MARK McGWIRE ADMITS TO STEROIDS: [Click on A Covenient Truth for today's column by me on McGwire's belated revelation]. Mr. I'm Not Here To Talk About The Past finally talked about the past Monday, with Mark McGwire (right) admitting he was on steroids for many years including when he broke baseball's home run record in 1998. A cheater, a scoundrel, but now, looking on the bright side, only a former liar. My question du jour: Should this exclude McGwire from the Hall of Fame for all-time? Or does the (belated) truth begin the process for eventual forgiveness/enshrinement?

PICK A ROOTING INTEREST FROM NFL'S FINAL EIGHT: NFL down to its final eight in the Miami Super Bowl tournament. Who you rooting for and why? C'mon, gotta be one team you don't hate as much as all the others! Take a dip in our poll.

DING, DONG THE PATS AREN'T DEAD: I realize the easy, neat, simple storyline arising from the Ravens-Patriots game is "Ding dong the witch is dead" -- the oh-so-tempting and not-so-bold declaration that the New England's "era" is over. Not so fast, of course. In the modern NFL, eras and dynasties are fluid things. Neither their beginning nor their end are neatly defined. In this case, I'd be careful writing off a team led by a premier head coach and an elite quarterback, as the Pats most definitely still are. The AFC East right now is a power struggle between the patriots and Jets -- the order remians open to debate -- with the Dolphins credible but clearly third.

DOLPHINS NO. 14 IN NFL SWAGGER: That's 14th of 32 teams. Is that, like, good? Anyway click here for the formual by which the Dolphins are judged to sort of have swagger, almost. Ranked No. 1? Colts.

1aaolivianamath NAMATH'S DAUGHTER FLAGGED FOR UNNECESSARY PARTYING: Joe Namath's 19-year-old daughter, Olivia, pictured left, was arrested in Jupiter on alcohol and marijuana charges. The good news? Olivia has not yet gone all tabloid about an affair with Tiger Woods.   

1aatiger TIGER SNAGS MAJOR NEW ENDORSEMENT: Sure Tiger Woods has lost some endorsements since his sex scandal broke. But other opportunities have arisen. Here, Random Evidence presents an exclusive preview of an ad campaign soon to debut.  

SEN. HARRY REID ON OBAMA: Noted Democratic senator is revealed in a new book to have said of Barack Obama during the campaign that Obama's electability was enhanced by the fact he was "light-skinned" and spoke with "no Negro dialect." Harry might want to step out of the early '60s and drop the "Negro," but otherwise what he said has created a curious uproar because what he said is almost certainly true. Is that out-of-bounds for me to even suggest? America's first black president was not going to be someone perceived in general as "too black," either literally (though that's certainly debatable) or, more so, figuratively. Reid was right. But some of still have a hard time with the truth.

DAVE? DEREK? DIANE? Y'ALL IN TROUBLE: A new study (click on The Name Game) examined life spans of athletes and others whose first names began with A, B, C or D -- the letters associated with the American scholastic grading system -- and found a correlation, found that people whose names start with D in general have lower self-esteem and die sooner. Just imagine what Marino and Shula  might have accomplished if their names had been, say, Al and Artie!

HAWK'$ $OFT LANDING: Interesting NY Daily News piece (click on $$$) about the monetary dividends Miami's Andre Dawson can expect to reap from having been elected (finally) to the baseball Hall of Fame. If it's true, more power to him. (Personally, the only autograph I might pay $40 for is John Lennon if he came back from the dead, but that's just me).

ESPN PLAYING MONOPOLY?: The Worldwide Leader already has specific website spinoffs for Chicago, Dallas, L.A. and Boston. What's next? What isn't? Read here that ESPN has gobbled up domain names to at least 770 other locales, inclusding ESPNMiami.com, which it bullied from a cybersquatter. World domination: it's just so unbecoming!

Twitter.com/gregcote

January 09, 2010

NFL first-round playoffs: Rout-rout-rout-epic! Cardinals beat Packers 51-45 in OT, join Ravens, Jets, Cowboys on road to Miami

Next week's schedule based on weekend results: Cardinals at Saints, Saturday at 4:30; Ravens at Colts, Saturday at 8:15; Cowboys at Vikings, Sunday at 1; and Jets at Chargers, Sunday at 4:40.

FIRST-ROUND PLAYOFFS: The NFL calls this Wild-Card Weekend, which always strikes me as odd considering half of the teams playing are not wild card teams but division champions. That's why I prefer to simply call this weekend the first round of the playoffs. Today's menu:

1aaravens RAVENS 33, PATRIOTS 14 -- You have got to be kidding me. Seeing Bill Belichick and Tom Brady humbled would be so much fun had I not picked NE to win. What a thorough a-- kicking from Ray Rice's 83-yard scoring run right 'til the end. Good show, Crows. Original post: New England favored by 3 1/2 and I like the favorites, although that extra half-point makes me take Baltimore with the points. Venue pick all the way. Tom Brady and Pats just don't lose at home in the playoffs.

1aacards CARDINALS 51, PACKERS 45 (OT) -- OMG. A playoff epic. Redeems what otherwise was a lopsided weekend. This game started like the last one, with GeeBees in role of Pats. But what a finish! Original post: Could be 700 yards in passing between Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner. Arizona a 1-point favorite, but I like Pack in a mild upset. Green Bay entering playoffs on a roll, with a corner (Charles Woodson) who is up to the task that is Larry Fitzgerald.

Saturday's games:

1aajets JETS 24, BENGALS 14 -- Credit where it is due: Rookie Mark Sanchez played a great game. Carson Palmer did not. This was a tough pick or me. Felt good early, but ultimately had the wrong side. Original post: Cincy favored by 2 1/2 and I like the homies 20-17, although nervously. Toughest pick of the four for me. I do think NYJ is a slightly better team overall, but the venue and the likelihood of rookie jitters from Mark Sanchez swings it for me. Be surprised if Sanchez doesn't heave two picks, maybe three, as Bengals win in playoffs for first time since 1990. Also suggesting here that Cincy fans adopt a Jets-like chant today. Although "'G-A-L-S!" might not be the right way to go. Not particularly liking "'N-A-T-I!" either.

1aacowboysCOWBOYS 34, EAGLES 14 -- Cowboys playing at a level right now that could be good enough to reach Miami. Original post: Dallas favored by 4 and I like the Cowmen 30-20. Dallas' first playoff win since 1996; hard to believe. Tony Romo and this defense are on a roll. In fact if I got the Cowboys as my NFC team in a Super Bowl blind draw, I'd feel pretty good about that. Eagles will show up better than last week, but this is a confident pick.

Your commentary invited.

MANNING IS THE (PREDICTABLE) MAN: Associated Press NFL MVP voting announced today, and Colt Peyton Manning rolls with 39 1/2 (of 50) votes. Saint Drew Brees drew 7 1/2, Charger Phillip Rivers 2 and Viking Brett Favre 1. I'd like to meet the one guy who just couldn't make up his mind! Note four QBs for the four top-seeded teams. Nothing in sports is more predictable than NFL MVP voting. The bad news for the Colts? No league MVP has won a Super Bowl that same season since Kurt Warner in 1999. Oy!

KUECHENBERG DENIED: Had something on this in previous post but it bears repeating. Old Dolphin Bob Kuechenberg was denied a spot among the 15 finalists n this year's Hall of Fame vote, pretty much ending his realistic hopes of ever reaching Canton. Briefly-ex-Dolphin Cris Carter made the finalists and has a fair chance of getting in. Ex-Cane Cortez Kennedy is among the 15 but is a real longshot. This year's absolute gimmies: Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.

Twitter.com/gregcote