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10 posts from May 2010

May 27, 2010

Why don't Marlins draw decent crowds? (with poll); plus Phillip Merling's arrest, Dennis Rodman--BOOM!, Michael Beasley, Idol blows it & more

Twitter.com/gregcote 

1aaamerflag Note to the blogdom: It's Memorial Day in America. Be thankful for somebody. We'll be back with a brand new blogpost Tuesday morning.

1aacoleman Gary Coleman, R.I.P

[Phillip Merling's arrest: (Click on Nowhere To Hide for today's column by me on Merling's arrest). Dolphins young defensive end arrested early Thursday morning for aggravated battery in a domestic dispute involving his pregnant girlfriend. The is the fourth Dolphin arrest this offseason, following the DUI busts of Will Allen and Ronnie Brown and Tony McDaniels' domestic battery. Merling was a high 2nd-round pick in 2008 but has disappointed on the field as well -- one big reason the club drafted Jared Odrick to fill a similar role. Dear Phillip: Have you always been an idiot, or is this a trait you developed over time? More Dolphin news: Team just cut Reggie Torbor].  

[Jarvis Williams, R.I.P.: Condolences to the loved ones and friends of Williams, the former Dolphins safety (1988-93) who passed away unexpectedly at age 45 in Palatka, Fla., of an acute asthma attack. I covered Jarvis and recall him as a solid safety and nice guy. Williams and the more outgoing Louis Oliver were a formidable safety tandem for a lot of seasons here].

1aacrowds THE MARLINS DON'T DRAW BECAUSE...: ...why? Enlighten me. Tell me, because I don't know. The team is fun to watch. They're pretty good and chasing a playoff spot. They have some star power with guys like Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson. They have some blue-collar ethic with guys like Cody Ross and Dan Uggla. They have rising young players. The stadium is centrally located. Yet they come home to open a long homestand last night and the crowd is an embarrassing 11,434. Let's figure out why. Take a dip in our poll and drop a comment of elaboration. Will the new stadium be a panacea? I have my doubts. This poll is for Marlins fans -- those who do and don't go to games. That's why "don't care about baseball" is not one of the poll answers. Vote now!

[Blogpoll note: This one has blasted past 1,000 votes, unsually high for a Marlins-related poll. Thanks. And keep 'em coming!]

1aadennisr DENNIS RODMAN--BOOM!: Spy report. A lawyer friend of mind at a table of five was having a business meeting at Capital Grill in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday night when Dennis Rodman was spotted in the restaurant walking past. On a lark Rodman was hailed and called over. He came over -- quite obviously beside himself with liquor or other influences -- sat, stayed for 15 mostly incoherent minutes and kept saying "Boom!" at the end of every sentence. As in, "You my lawyer? How you get me out of this DUI tonight -- BOOM!" I wouldn't say it if it weren't true. Boom!

1aaforsale BEASLEY A DRAFT-DAY GONER?: ESPN's Chris Sheridan said on Jorge Sedano's 790 the Ticket radio show today he thinks the Heat will trade Michael Beasley on draft-day next month. It sounded like a logical guess by Sheridan more than any inside info. I think it's still soon to give up on Beasley's potential. But if Miami does, I would think the Heat would get a starter-caliber player in return or possibly a low-first-round draft pick. Another possibility would be packaging Beasley in a sign-and-trade to get Amare Stoudemire prior to the onset of free agency. 

1aafbsnow SUPER BOWL GOES ALL FROZEN TUNDRA: Click on NFL Goes Insane for today's column by me on this. As expected Tuesday the new Giants/Jets stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. was awarded the 2014 Super Bowl, the next one available. Gotham beat out Tampa's bid. The third bidding city, our own Greater Miami (I'm done with "South Florida"), was the first eliminated. I think the NFL was concerned the Dolphins' 746 celebrity part-owners would try to glom too many freebie tickets. Jersey averages 20-some degrees in early February, so we're looking at a frigid, possibly snowbound SB in an open-air stadium. That's brutal, of course. Could make for an interesting or at least bizarre game, visually. Could also make for a miserable SB Week for visiting fans. 

1a30gc "I'M NO. 88!" (UMM, IS THAT GOOD?): An interesting, brand- new website called Sportsgrid.com (check it out) attempts to quantify popularity of athletes, teams and sports media using various criteria. Well lo and behold your faithful columnist/blogger, little ol' Greg Cote, is (when last I checked, anyway) ranked No. 88 nationally in the "Power Grid" among all writers of sports, both online and print. The top five: Peter King, Bill Simmons, Peter Gammons, Joe Posnanski and Dan Patrick. The criteria is a combination of news buzz, blog buzz, Bing searches, print circulation and online unique hits. I think being 88th sort of sucks, but at least it does rank No. 1 in the South Florida market of the seven local writers ranked among 321 nationally. (How's that for putting a positive spin on being 88th!?)

PLAYS ON WORDS GONE WRONG: CBSSports.com weighs in on the first-place Tampa Bay Rays with the headline, "They're gRAYt!" Gawd. When a pun makes even me groan, you know it's awful.

1aafrankc CALIENDO HATS? CALIENTE!: Comedian Frank Caliendo Tweeted that he was as surprised as anyone to see this scene on TV in Game 4 of the Celtics-Lakers series. Hmm. I might be cynical, but I set it at even money that Frank or someone connected to him knows who these two guys are. Caliendo -- whom I recently saw in Vegas, and he was great -- is big enough to have fans who'd do this, but also small enough to go guerrilla like this for some free national pub.

WHAP A PINATA FOR PAC-MAN: Happy birthday to Pac-Man! The all-time greatest arcade video game (IMHO; well, along with offshoot Ms. Pac-man) turned 30 this week. Fast fact: the game's original Japanese name was Puckman, which derived from the Japanese word paku, meaning "chomp." But American arcade operators worried vandals would alter the letter P to appear like an F, so Pac became the safer substitute for Puck.

1aabustybarbie MATTEL ROLLS OUT BUSTY BARBIE: Mattel's Barbie series has a new "Back to Basics" line that features female dolls dressed as if ready to go clubbing (or in some cases ready to stand on a street corner winking at cars). One of them (we'll call her Busty Barbie) is pictured right. I only wish I were making this up.

AMERICAN IDOL VOTERS BLOW IT. BIG TIME: With incredulity I report that American Idol voters tonight awarded the season title to Lee DeWyze over the far-more talented Crystal Bowersox. Not that I'm bitter. In a related story, the series Dancing With the Stars crowned its new celebrity champion and it was ... Nicole Scherzinger! Seriously. She is alleged to be a pop singer whose claim to fame came as part of the group Pussycat Dolls. Nicole Scherzinger. Rule of thumb: Nobody with the last name Scherzinger is allowed to be considered a celebrity. I mean, Bowersox is weird. But  Scherzinger!? C'mon.

THE LIST: MARLINS ATTENDANCE: Florida is averaging about 17,300 per game (15th of 16 NL teams), on pace to draw roughly 1.4 million for the year. Top five attendance totals in club history, in millions:

3.065   1993

2.364   1997

1.937   1994

1.853   2005

1.747   1996

[Note: The Chris Bosh vs. Amare Stoudmire for Heat poll continues raging in the post directly below this in the blog].

May 24, 2010

Venus goes commando; plus Bosh vs. Stoudemire for Heat (with poll), Super Bowl freezes out Miami, 'Lost' & more

Twitter.com/gregcote

1aavenusoutfit2 1aavenusoutfit31aabottomvenus
  1aavenusoutfit1
VENUS PORTRAYS NAUGHTY FRENCH MAID AT FRENCH OPEN:
Parisians don't shock easily, but Venus Williams is the talk of the French Open with her first-round outfit (pictured). I believe our girl has an exhibitionist side. That, or she lost a bet or is fulflling a dare. Her black and red-striped outfit features a corset-top with low neckline and a frilly lace skirt. She looks like something a French maid would wear in a film starring Ron Jeremy. The best part? The skin-tone, pantyhose-like undergarment lending the illusion that Venus is going commando. Am I offended? Not in the least. Rather, I find it delightfully ridiculous that Venus would wear this in public. Usually, this kind of a look comes with a pole and a lap dance. Give Venus credit, though. She has one hell of a backside backhand, no ifs, ands or buttocks buts.

BOSH VS. STOUDEMIRE GETTING INTERESTING: Did you watch the Suns' Amare Stoudemire (42 points) almost singlehandedly make the Lakers series interesting last night? That's why Pat Riley covets this guy. And I keep hearing that Dwyane Wade might prefer Stoudemire over Chris Bosh. They are 1 and 1A on Miami's summer wish list to pair with Wade presuming that LeBron James proves ungettable. Always seemed like Bosh was the frontunner. Not so sure anymore. Take a dip in our poll and help Riley decide. You know he wants your advice!

SUPER BOWL FREEZES OUT MIAMI: As expected today/Tuesday the NFL awarded the 2014 Super Bowl,. the next one available, to the new Giants/Jets stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Tampa finished second in voting and our own Greater Miami third. This means the NFL has chosen an open-air stadium in a place where temperatures average in the 20s in early February. Yeah, visitors actually enjoying Super Bowl Week is really overrated, apparently.

HEAT DRAFT STILL RATED PG: Latest NBA mock draft by ESPN's Chad Ford has Miami at 18th selecting Kentucky point guard Eric Bledsoe. Now if it was that other Kentucky point guard (John Wall), I'd be excited. 

DOLPHINS DEAL SMILEY: Guard Justin Smiley ships off to Jacksonville for a late-round pick. He went from fairly solid starter to persona non grata pretty quickly, thanks largely to a shaky shoulder. Good guy. Good quote.  

STINKIN' JETS TROLLING AUSTRALIA: The stinkin' New York Jets are interested in signing 23-year-old Aussie rugby star Greg Inglis, according to the Sun-Herald in Melbourne. He is 6-5 and 238 pounds and is projected to be (are you ready for this combo?) a kick-returner and outside linebacker. 

THIS IS WHY HE GETS THE BIG BUCKS: Marlins ace Josh Johnson, in his past eight starts, is 5-0 with a 1.70 ERA.

1aahurley PRAYER ANSWERED: TV'S "LOST" GOES OFF AIR: With pride I tell you I have outlasted the TV series Lost without having watched a single episode. I couldn't pick Jack out of a police lineup. The phrase "Jacob's cabin" means nothing to me. I thought the series went downhill that one season in which poor Hurley (pictured) was cannibalized by the other islanders. Also I hear the series ending was lame when they revealed Oceanic Flight 815 in fact never crashed and the whole thing was a dream.

PRICETAG PUT ON TIGER'S INFIDELITY: Soon-to-be-ex-wife Elin Nordegren wants $750 million from Tiger Woods to settle their pending divorce. Tiger has made more money from golf than anyone ever. Soon Elin will take over that title. Also I think her lawyerr will move into the top 10.

1aaigor3 AMERICA'S TALLEST MAN: Meet 27-year-old Minnesotan Igor Vovkovinskiy, who at 7 feet 8 1/3 inches has been declared the country's tallest man. I'm guessing he's been made fun of his whole life. Not for being freakishly tall. For being named Igor Vovkovinskiy.

1aacraigs DEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you'd show a screengrab of TNT's Craig Sager wearing a ridiculous pink jacket and ghastly tie. Thank you." (Too bad there wasn't a bizarre wardrobe mixup: Venus Williams wore Sager's outfit at the French Open and Sager wore Venus' black teddy on the air.

THE LIST: STATE GUYS IN NBA DRAFT: The three state-college players who have a chance to be selected in next month's NBA Draft, based on Chad Ford's top-100 prospects list on ESPN.com:

1. Solomon Alabi, FSU center (ranked 26th overall).

2. Dominique Jones, South Florida shooting guard (35th).

3. Dwayne Collins, Miami power forward (53rd). Collins' stock is rising. One big reason: a 7-4 wingspan.

May 21, 2010

You rate Zach Thomas & Jason Taylor's Hall of Fame chances (with polls)

Twitter.com/gregcote

RATING ZACH AND JASON'S HALL OF FAME CHANCES: First, thanks for making today's column by me on Zach Thomas (click Farewell Zach) the most-read thing on all of MiamiHerald.com. I believe Jason Taylor will make the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday but that it isn't a slam-dunk. If I were betting I would not think Zach Thomas would make the Hall, but think he has a very legitimate chance.

TAYLOR: Case for: 127.5 career sacks (11th all-time) and not done yet; 6 Pro Bowls and 3 times first-team All-Pro; 2006 Defensive Player of Year; 27 fumble recoveries for NFL-record six TDs; 3 interceptions returned for scores; and a sizable national profile augmented by "Dancing With the Stars" and ending career with New York Jets. Caveat: Although what's above should be good enough, consider that Kevin Greene (160), Chris Doleman (150.5) and Leslie O'Neal (132.5) had more sacks, haven't made the Hall and likely won't.

THOMAS: Case for: 7 Pro Bowls (most ever by a Dolphins defender) and 5 times first-team All-Pro; club-record 1,106 solo tackles; 17 interceptions with 4 returned for TDs; 16 forced fumbles; and more combined tackles and assists (1,866) than any Hall of Fame linebacker. Caveat: Fairly modest national profile overshadowed most of career by Ray Lewis and others. His Dolphin teams never getting past second-round of playoffs won't help. May be seen as solid and very productive but an "almost" in terms of Canton.

(Update: Interesting reaction on Thomas' Hall chances here from three HOF voters. All three are doubtful, but open-minded).

Now you decide. Take a dip in our separate polls on Zach and Jason's Hall chances and drop a comment saying why. Try to vote as dispassionately as possible. Remember this isn't what you hope for but what you honestly think will happen.

May 19, 2010

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

[Twitter.com/gregcote]

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

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

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

My post earlier yesterday, pre-apology:

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

What now? What's next?

I broker peace with a three-point plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reyna Thompson (CB, 1986)

Scott Mitchell (QB, 1990-93)

Bernie Kosar (QB, 1994-96)

Nate Jacquet (WR, 1998)

Ted Ginn Jr. (WR, 2007-09)

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

May 18, 2010

Hanley rips Fredi: "He can do whatever he f---ing wants"; plus 790 wins Sports Radio Wars & more

Twitter.com/gregcote

DOGGIN' HANLEY RIPS HIS MANAGER: Big fallout today (Tuesday) from Hanley Ramirez's in-game benching by manager Fredi Gonzalez last night for a lack of effort. I credit Gonzalez for making the move. Hanley, not so much. An angry Ramirez lashed out at Gonzalez in the clubhouse this morning. Among highlights, Hanley said, "It's his team. He can do whatever he f---ing wants." When Fredi's name was mentioned, Hanley said, "Who is that?" Whern asked iof he has lost some respect for his manager, he said, "A little bit." Then: "I respect everybody. But I don't know if I get the same respect back." Ramirez blamed his injured shin for not running full-speed after the ball he'd booted, adding, of Gonzalez: "He didn't play in the big leagues. He didn't understand." Ramirez is emotional, mercurial. This feud could be short-lived. Right now, though, it is a major controversy enveloping the Marlins and their best player. Stay tuned.

[Sidelights: The latest next-manager-fired odds from BetUS.com have Fredi safe at home at 20-1 odds. That's tied for 19th-longest odds. Hottest seats are in Baltimore and Houston at 4-1. Click on SB 1070 for my column off last night's Marlins game. It's about reaction to Arizona's controversial new anti-immigration law. Jorge Cantu? Not happy].

SPORTS RADIO WARS: 790 BEATS WQAM: [Declaring a winner, even though polls stays open]. We last did something like this in the blog in January 2006, so I'm thinking it's time again. Especially with the rivalry between WQAM-560 and 790 The Ticket seeming to get more and more intense and bitter, and with WINZ-940's move to an all-sports format adding a major player to the market mix. 'QAM has taken the offensive (quite literally some might say) with its current promo ads against 790 -- one of them saying, "You could listen to the other station, but you may turn gay." The WQAM station manager also takes shots at 790 ratings king Dan Le Batard, calling his show "sophomoric." (I absolutely love the irony of a a man who would approve "but you may turn gay" calling somebody else sophomoric). Anyway, we don't need no stinkin' Arbitron ratings. We're going to decide right here who's king of the South Florida radio airwaves. We'll take votes for at least a few days before declaring a champion. Vote now, and add a comment saying why you prefer one station over the other.

1aadaletallon PANTHERS' GM A SMART CHOICE: How do I know? I don't. But Florida hiring Dale Tallon, 59 (pictured), as general manager appears to be a good move based on his track record and the Panthers' needs. He turned the Chicago Blackhawks around, into the team now playing for the conference title and a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals, in only three years. Most experts agreed he did not deserve to be demoted last summer from GM to senior adviser, but that demotion made him available. Call him a builder or a rebuilder; either is what the Cats needs to help end this embarrassing 10-year playoff drought and make the NHL matter in South Florida again.

THE LIST: LONGEST LOCAL PLAYOFF DROUGHTS: Why are the Panthers changing GM's yet again? Here's why. Playoff droughts of three or more consecutive seasons by our four major pro teams:

9   Panthers (2001-current)

6   Dolphins (2002-07)

6   Marlins (2004-current)

5   Marlins (1998-02)

4   Dolphins (1966-69)

4   Dolphins (1986-89)

4   Marlins (1993-96)

3   Dolphins (1975-77)

3   Heat (1989-91)

May 13, 2010

Sweep! Sweet! Marlins own stinkin' Mets; plus Randy Shannon's imperative (with poll), LeBron-to-Heat odds, Canes-Irish, keep-Wade campaign & more

1aabroom 1aabroom2 MARLINS SWEEP STINKIN' METS: Marlins make it a 4-game home sweep today vs. division-rival Mets. Sweet. What in sports is better than a crestfallen New York fan?

UM, SHANNON REACH NEW DEAL:

[Click on Shannon's Imperative for my column, newly online and shipping to Friday's newspaper]. Finally! After one mighty long pregnancy -- seemingly years of on/off negotiations -- the University of Miami delivers a brand new four-year contract for football coach Randy Shannon. It's good news for the program, from a continuity standpoint first, but also because Shannon is the right man for the job. I know some of you might disagree. Shannon is a bit of a lightning rod for polar opinions down here. Why? Let's take a pulse read on how we feel about the head of Canes football. Share your thoughts on Shannon as he settles in presumably for the long haul. Take a dip in our poll and tell us why you voted as you did.

CANES-IRISH RENEWING FOOTBALL RIVALRY?: Chicago Tribune reporting UM and Notre Dame are negotiating to play a football game at Soldier Field in 2012. Hope it happens. Would be the schools' first meeting since 1990 and the old "Catholics vs. Convicts" era. Schools are close to agreement on a three-game series that also would include home-and-home dates in 2014 and '16.

1aawww WWW = WE WANT WADE: The Heat today launches "We Want Wade," an interactive, community-based campaign to show the love to Dwyane Wade as the summer of free agency approaches. Check out the hub of the campaign at WeWantWade.com. Through the site, supporters can order fan kits, send Tweets, upload videos to Wade and more. Fans may also call (786) 777-3333 to leave messages. The club is putting up billboards and banners, too, to augment the campaign, which will culminate with "We Want Wade Week" July 1-7, the onset of free agency. Wade has said his plan is to re-sign with Miami but he'll also consider major offers from his (original) hometown Bulls, the Knicks and others. The Heat's WWW campaign is smart, because we are talking about feeding egos here, not just wallets. This is the franchise's public love letter to Dwyane.

[Update: At 1:23 p.m. Thursday the Heat sent out the following Tweet: Due 2 the overwhelming response on WeWantWade.com, the servers have crashed. U guys broke the internet ;) We’re fixing it now. Stay tuned!]

[Update II: Click here for Dwyane Wade's TwitVid as he crafts a Facebook thank-you for all of the WeWantWade.com support]. 

[Update III: Cleveland counters Miami's WeWantWade.com with a godawful video called "We Are LeBron"].

UPDATED LEBRON-TO-HEAT ODDS: Latest odds from BetUS.com on where LeBron James will be next season: Cavaliers 5/7, Bulls 2/1, Knicks 5/2, Heat 8/1, Nets 9/1. It was 15/1 for Miami a week ago, before Cleveland's playoff elimination fueled speculation James' days in Cleveland were numbered. Bodog.com has it Cavs 4/7, Bulls 9/4, Knicks 5/1, Nets 7/1, Heat 15/2.

THE CASE AGAINST MODERN TECHNOLOGY: There is nothing wrong with showering in the nude. I personally do it all the time. But Arizona Cardinals lineman Darnell Dockett -- supposedly to win a $1,000 bet on a dare -- filmed himself taking a shower and broadcast it on Ustream. OY! I refuse to show the photo. Just imagine what we sports writers in postgame lockerrooms used to have to avert eyes from back in the days before wraparound towels became blessedly de rigeur.

THE LIST: UM FOOTBALL COACHES: The top 10 head coaches in UM football history ranked by most career victories with Canes:

Andy Gustafson   93-65-3 (1948-63)

Dennis Erickson   63-9 (1989-94)

Jack Harding   54-29-3 (1937-42, '45-47)

Larry Coker   53-9 (2001-06)

Jimmy Johnson   52-9 (1984-88)

Butch Davis   51-20 (1995-00)

Howard Schnellenberger   41-16 (1979-83)

Charlie Tate   34-27-3 (1964-70)

Randy Shannon   21-17 (2007-current)

Tom McCann   18-15-4 (1931-34)

Twitter.com/gregcote

May 12, 2010

Heat's shot at LeBron James (with poll); plus Las Vegas, RIP Kimbo Slice, DJ Rony Seikaly & more

1aabigelvis SURVIVING LAS VEGAS: Wife and I have returned to So Fla after 4 days/3 nights in Las Vegas on a recovery mission. By that I mean time to ourselves to recover our sanity in a continuing effort to survive having two male offspring ages 18 and 22 throwing parties at the house while we were away. Stayed at the Venetian. Drank a lot. Saw comedy shows by Ray Romano and Frank Caliendo. Ate great food. Drank a lot. Saw a bunch of nudity in Cirque de Solei's Zumanity. Saw Big Elvis (pictured). Kept net gambling losses under 1K. Drank a lot. How bad could it be? Postscript: Big Elvis is the perfect entertainer with his free, old-style show at the former Barbary Coast. He's huge and kitschy enough to amuse. But good enough as an impersonator to actually impress. Click on That's Alright Mama for a video taste. The trailer-parkers -- by which I mean chain-smoking, high-mileage, dirty-blonde white women in their 60s -- were swooning. Highly recommended.

1aadwlb DO HEAT HAVE A SHOT AT LEBRON JAMES?: Speculation swirls today over LeBron James supposedly having one foot out the door in Cleveland. Might Miami be a landing spot? The answer is some undetermined shade of maybe, which makes it a valid question. I find it tough to believe he'll stay in Cleveland. But could the egos of LeBron and Dwyane Wade (pictured) co-exist in Miami? Have your say. Take a dip in our poll. Asking not for what you hope happens but what you realistically think will.

[Update: New odds out today from BetUS.com on where LeBron ends up next season: It's Cavaliers 2/3; Bulls 2/1; Knicks 5/2; and then Heat and Nets tied at 15/1].

1aabra WHY CAN'T I HAVE A JOB...: ...like this. I'm just saying.


1aarony RONY SEIKALY, D.J.: So I'm in Las Vegas over the weekend and I see a billboard for Tao Beach promoting a May 30 appearance by DJ Rony Seikaly. Yes, the same guy. The longtime former Heat center. He's a club DJ now. See the photo at left. Or Google Tao Beach and Rony's name. Maybe he does weddings. Couldn't hurt to ask!

KIMBO SLICE, R.I.P: No, we'll let Miami's Kevin Ferguson live. It's his namesake, mixed martial arts fighter and clown Kimbo Slice, who needs to go away, please. His latest loss, Saturday in UFC 113, is the latest evidence that his phenomena has flared but now fades. Fast. The novelty has become passe'.

IMPORTANCE OF MARLINS-METS: Marlins host division-rival Mets in four-game series starting Thursday, and I'm thinking Florida must take at least three of four to alleviate some of the heat on manager Fredi Gonzalez. Anybody who thinks the pressure isn't on Fredi just because Jeffrey Loria says so publicly must have majored in gullibility in college.

TIGER'S NECK HURTS: Tiger Woods withdraws from tournament with a pain in his neck. There is a punchline there related to his having had 121 affairs. But some things I can't say even in a blog.

PERFECT GAME, PERFECT ENDING: Oakland's Dallas Braden pitches only the 19th perfect game in MLB history and the moral of the story apparently is that good things come to those who tell Alex Rodriguez to stick it. Before his perfecto Braden was best-known for getting in Rodriguez's face earlier this season when A-Rod ran across the pitcher's mound when heading back to the dugout -- breaking one of baseball's myriad "unwritten rules." It's one of the sillier unwritten rules, considering both teams share the mound, but you had to love the mouse standing up to the lion And now the mouse pitches a perfect game. God what a tortured metaphor.

1aadolcheer DEAR GREG...: Your blog is OK but would be better if you showed a "sexy" picture from the recent Dolphin cheerleader tryout. Thank you. 

THE LIST: PERFECT GAMES: There have been 19 perfect games pitched in MLB history. The five most recent:

May 9, 2010   Dallas Braden, A's

July 23, 2009   Mark Buehrle, White Sox

May 18, 2004   Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks

July 18, 1999   David Cone, Yankees

May 17, 1998   David Wells, Yankees

Twitter.com/gregcote

May 07, 2010

Fredi Gonzalez on the firing line? (with poll); plus JaMarcus Russell and Dolphins, shame of Lawrence Taylor, TSA GenitalGate, Wade's wild week & more

[VIVA LAS COTE: Why. Why? Why!? Why hasn't the blog been updated for a couple of days? It is because Greg Cote -- that's me-- is enjoying some R&R in Las Vegas through Tuesday. Will be back with a new blogpost Wednesday, inevitably including notes about my mini-vacation. Meantime I am left to fathom which is the greater horror: The amount of money I am losing in the casinos. Or what my party-inclined sons, ages 18 and 22, are doing to my house while I'm gone.

IS FREDI ON THE FIRING LINE?: The whispers are out there. The Marlins are in a little bit of a funk and it would not surprise anyone close to the team if owner Jeffrey Loria was pondering a managerial change. Remember that Loria and president David Samson both stated flatly they expected a playoff season, which I and others saw as very optimistic and tantamount to setting Gonzalez up to fail. My take? The swoon is not Fredi's fault and it is much too soon to ponder a change. The team is struggling primarily because Chris Coghlan is sophomore-slumping, because Cameron Maybin has disappointed and because the bullpen has been lousy or at best erratic. Give Coghlan and Maybin a bit more time, promote sensational Mike Stanton in June, make a trade for a solid veteran setup reliever -- that's what this team needs, not a different manager. But that's just me. Take a dip in our poll and share your thoughts.

JAMARCUS RUSSELL TO DOLPHINS?: Hey this isn't me saying this. I just got some most-likely-destination odds from Bodog.com (unsolicited) and Miami is 6-1 to end up with Russell, the former overall No. 1 draftee-turned-bust QB with the Raiders. Only teams seen as more likely are Cardinals at 3-1, Bills at 7-2 and Jaguars at 4-1. I would doubt any real interest; then again that's a ton of still-untapped potential in a still-young guy if the price is right. I'm just saying.

1aascan TSA GENITAL-GATE: Have you read this bizarre story about the Miami airport federal security screener arrested for attacking a TSA coworker? Apparently the victim and others had been making fun of the attacker ever since a full-body scan conducted during a training session had revealed some (ahem) private shortcomings. You know what bothers me here? Not so much the guy who'd had enough and went nuts. Not even the obvious invasiveness (pictured) of those scanners. No, what really bothers me is the idea that our trusted TSA  agents -- these adults in charge of rooting out terrorists -- are giggling and teasing and yukking around making small pee-pee jokes like a bunch of [bleep]ing preteens in a [bleep]ing middle school cafeteria. Fire everybody involved and give them back their [bleep]ing Wackenhut uniforms.

1aalt SHAME EQUALS FAME FOR LAWRENCE TAYLOR: Click on Train Wreck for today's column by me on the arrest of former Giants star Lawrence Taylor (pictured making bail yesterday) in the rape of a 16-year-old girl -- the latest in a long list of arrests and drug abuse. Dan Patrick was debating today whether Halls of Fame should expel members related to off-field or post-career embarrassments. I think not. But I do think players' official Hall plaques should be updated to reflect the entirety of lives. That includes O.J. Simpson's. That would include Pete Rose's if he ever gets in. Likewise Taylor's Hall plaque should at least mention his controversial side.

DRAFT STOCK RISING: UM'S ALLEN BAILEY: Mel Kiper's first Big Board on the 2011 NFL draft projects Hurricanes defensive end Allen Bailey going 16th overall. If that holds, or is even close, Bailey figures to be the highest-drafted Cane since Antrel Rolle went 8th in 2005.

1aadwandpaul WADE'S WILD WEEK: The highs and lows in Dwyane Wade's life continue extreme. One day he endures a lawsuit from his estranged wife claiming his relationship with actress Gabrielle Union has caused their kids emotional duress. The next day he is named first-team All-NBA for the second straight year. We celebrate the latter achievement with a photo of what it would look like if Wade and Chris Paul morphed into one person.

HEAT HOPING DRAFT RATED PG?: For what it's worth the first (of 843) NBA mock drafts by ESPN's Chad Ford is out and he has the Heat selecting Kentucky point guard Eric Bledsoe 18th overall. Think I'd be more excited if it was the other Kentucky point guard, John Wall, but he's probably going No. 1 overall.

DOLPHINS GETTING NO VEGAS LOVE: New Bodog.com odds are out and Dolphins are 30-1 to win the Super Bowl, tied for 17th of 32 teams. It's 16-1 to win the AFC, tied for ninth of 16. The division-rival Patriots and Jets are top-five both ways. Estimation of the Jets clearly is being overinflated by hopeful money from a huge market. But still.

1aanorway GREETINGS FROM NORWAY!: Got a nice e-mail from a journalist in Norway who is a Dolphins fan and runs that country's only website devoted to the NFL. Click on Amerikansk Fotball Pa Norsk to see it. Very professionally done. One possible small drawback for many of my readers: It's in Norwegian!

1aacrap
DEAR GREG...:
Your blog is OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of a woman about to s--- in a field as a lion approaches her menacingly. And if the photo had a funny caption. Thank you.

THE LIST: HEAT ALL-NBA PLAYERS: Miami players who have made the All-NBA first, second or third teams, listed in order of total selections:

Dwyane Wade (5 times --- 1T 2009 & '10; 2T 2005 & '06; 3T 2007)

Tim Hardaway (3 times --- 1T 1997; 2T 1998 & '99)

Alonzo Mourning (2 times --- 1T 1999; 2T 2000)

Shaquille O'Neal (2 times --- 1T 2005 & '06)

Twitter.com/gregcote

May 05, 2010

On Bill Parcells' silence (with poll); plus D-Wade responds to wife's latest suit; Marlins' uphill climb, corpse rides bike, Taser Boy & more

1aacinco [We celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a live online chat today. Thanks to all who tapped in. We do it every Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. in the Q&A Forum. Click here to join live, see transcripts or to post questions at any time].

BILL PARCELLS' SILENCE: OK OR NO?: Big Tuna's method of operation is to be publicly silent on any and all major decisions he makes regarding the Dolphins. I write about why this is wrong, and contrast the styles of Parcells and the Heat's Pat Riley, in this column today. I think it is a way for Parcells to escape public accountability for his actions. I think the fans deserve more. The Dolphins believe fans don't care that Parcells doesn't talk. I'm not sure. That's why I'm asking! Take a dip in our poll and tell us why.

[Poll comment: I am amused and amazed that close to two-thirds of you are A-OK with giving Parcells a free ride on this. Eating up the company line and asking for more. Oh well. Your call].

VEGAS ODDS ON WADE: Asked my guys at Bodog.com to give us odds on where Dwyane Wade will be when the 2010-11 NBA season begins. The answer: Heat 4/11; Bulls 5/2; Knicks 10/1; Nets 15/1; any other team 15/2. LeBron James is 1/3 to return to Cavaliers and 3/1 for Knicks, 10/1 for Nets and 25/1 for Mavericks, with Miami 35/1 to get King James.

[Sad Wade update: Uglier and uglier gets his bitter divorce. Now Wade's estranged wife is suing actress Gabrielle Union, claiming Wade's relationship with Union has caused her and their two young children emotional duress. A divorce-lawyer friend speculates these are tactics to drive up the settlement offer Mrs. Ex will eventually accept. Wade Tweeted this apparent response to the suit around 4:45 this afternoon, verbatim: The gd times its easy 2 b who ppl expect. Itz the bad times that show who u rlly R.. alwayz keep my head high & show class].

MARLINS' UPHILL CLIMB: Twenty-six games is a big enough chunk of season to form opinions, and clearly the 13-13 Marlins do not have a playoff-caliber bullpen -- as we were reminded again last night with Leo Nunez's blown save in the extra innings loss. Another emerging threat to Florida's playoff hopes is the number of teams that figure to be in the wild-card hunt. In the NL 13 of 16 teams are within three games of .500. If I'm Fredi Gonzalez right now I'm thinking the NL East title might be a better shot than a wild card spot. Gonna take a fortified 'pen, though.

1aabikewake IT'S ALMOST AS IF HE ISN'T REALLY DEAD!: True story. A Puerto Rican funeral home recently allowed the corpse of David Morales Colon (right) to be posed on a motorcycle during the service. I'm sorry but this is creepy. May we immediately nip in the bud the potential trend in funereal action figures. I have heard of Bike Week. But never before Bike Wake.

1aataserboy SCREW TASER BOY: The amount of sympathy I feel for that Phillies fan who ran onto the field and was tasered by a cop would fit in a thumble, with room left over for a thumb. Click here for the video. I'm stunned anyone would support the 17-year-old fan. But not as stunned as the 17-year-old fan!

THE LIST: 5'S: In honor of Cinco de Mayo, the five greatest players drafted having to do specifically with the number 5 by the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins or Panthers:

1. Dwyane Wade (Heat; 5th overall, 2003)

2. Zach Thomas (Dolphins; 5th round, 1996)

3. Dan Uggla (Marlins; Rule 5 draft, 2005)

4. Jim Kiick (Dolphins; 5th round, 1968)

5. Paul Laus (Panthers; 5th round, 1993 expansion draft)

Honorable mention: Steve Smith (Heat 5th overall 1991); Rob Niedermayer (Panthers 5th overall 1993); Bryan Cox (Dolphins 5th round 1991); Don Strock (Dolphins 5th round 1973); Jon Sunvold (Heat 5th round 1988 expansion draft); and Charlie Babb (Dolphins 5th round 1972).

Twitter.com/gregcote

May 03, 2010

Heat's Riley smart to leave door open (with poll); plus latest on Dez's mom, how optimistic are Dolfans? (with poll), FedEx drops OB & more

1aateacher Today/Tuesday is National Teacher Day. Appreciate and thank a teacher today!

 

RILEY OPENS DOOR TO COACHING HEAT AGAIN: Finally, some big news involving a local team executive not having to do with asking if a player's mom was a prostitute! Heat president Pat Riley said today he'll do whatever it takes to make Miami a champion again -- and did not rule out the possibility that could mean him coaching again. Doesn't mean it's likely. But the possibility is out there now. Here is my column on this, online now and shipping to Tuesday's paper. Meantime take a dip in our poll and tell Riley what you think. And tell us why.

DOLPHINS POLL. BECAUSE SPARANO SAYS THE SEASON HAS STARTED: I know it's only May, and barely that. But Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said that to him the weekend rookie camp just ended is the official start of preparation for the 2010 season. So there you have it. Time for an early gauge of what Dolfans are thinking about the coming season. I look at seemingly soft schedule and can easily envision 10 wins. Others are not so optimistic. For example, ESPN's updated, post-draft Power Rankings have Miami slotted an uninspiring 22nd, well back of both the Jets (8th) and Patriots (9th). Where do your expectations fall and why? Remember, it's not what you are hoping for, but what you realistically envision.

DEZ BRYANT'S MOM CONTINUES TO EMBARRASS HERSELF: Angela Bryant is demanding an apology now from Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland over his "was your mom a prostitute" question -- as if his earlier public apology  was not all-encompassing enough for her. Well it now is revealed Angela's druggy past was not so much in the past after all. She was arrested in April 2009 for selling crack cocaine to undercover informants and found guilty in August and sentenced to 10 years' probabation. She's lucky she isn't back in prison. Two thoughts here. One, Ireland and the Dolphins have apologized enough. Period. Two, Dez should pay his mother to shut the [bleep] up and not be seen in public. She is an embarrassment. The "was your mom a prostitute" question should be more insulting to prostitutes than to her.

1aafloyd MOMENTUM FOR MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO: Am told Floyd Mayweather Jr. (pictured) dominated Shane Mosley Saturday night (I missed it; was at a wedding). Now the ultimate bout -- Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquia -- is gaining momentum and should happen. I'm always waiting for the return of the heavyweight division to rescue boxing, but who needs it? I think Mayweather-Pacquiao will set PPV records and remind everyone that the Sweet Science still is embedded in our national psyche in a way that mixed martial arts isn't, and won't be.

ON ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW: I'm conservative on illegal immigration. Think it's a big problem and a drain on America's economy. Think we should protect our borders. But even from that vantage, I think Arizona's controversial new anti-immigration law is shockingly over-the-top and must be rescinded. It is racial profiling at its worst. I'm glad to see some of the Diamondbacks' six Latino players speaking out. I think sports can wield some leverage here in helping to nudge Arizona forward into the 21st Century.

1aafedex IT'S NOW THE EX-FED EX ORANGE BOWL: SportsBusiness Journal reporting today (click here) that FedEx is ending its 21-year run as title sponsor of Miami's Orange Bowl Classic, the longest such partnership of any BCS bowl game. The good news? It's now the splendidly unadorned Orange Bowl Classic, at least temporarily. The bad news? Naming rights are for sale and some new corporate sponsor will jump in soon.

OH, CANADA? NO, CANADA!: Click here for the bizarre tale of Canadian youth-hockey coaches who thought it was roaring funny to give beer to 9- and 10-year-old players after a game. I think this is an outrage. What a waste of perfectly good beer.

1aafeagles FAREWELL, JEFF FEAGLES: Venerable ex-Miami Hurricane finally retires after 22 NFL years. Nobody punted more times (1,713) for more yards. He leaves third in all-time in games played (352). Only George Blanda and kickers Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson played more seasons. Hall of Fame? Doubt it very much. Only two Pro Bowls for Feagles (pitcured). Plus he's a punter! But what a remarkable career. His rookie season was 1988. Recent Dolphins' top draftee Jared Odrick was then not yet 1 and literally learning to crawl.

1aamenutitanic DEAR GREG...: Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would reprint the ill-fated last menu from the Titanic on the day it sank. Thank you.

THE LIST: MOST NO. 1 RECORDS: The top 10 music artists ranked by most No. 1 singles on Billboard pop music charts. Asterisks indicate artists whose music would be found on my iPod:

20   Beatles*

18   Mariah Carey

17   Elvis Presley*

13   Michael Jackson*

12   Supremes*

12   Madonna*

11   Whitney Houston

10   Stevie Wonder*

10   Janet Jackson

9   Bee Gees*

9   Elton John*

Twitter.com/gregcote