« July 2010 | Main | September 2010 »

13 posts from August 2010

August 30, 2010

Grade my fantasy team (with poll); plus Laveranues Coles makes sense for Dolphins, UM wants Duron Carter & more

[Join us noon to 1 p.m. for Live Chat Wednesday. Click HERE to get on board then or to post questions early. Also check us out at Twitter.com/gregcote]

1aacoles LAVERANUES COLES MAKES SENSE FOR DOLPHINS: Dolphins could use a proven receiver to replace the departed Greg Camarillo, and Laveranues Coles -- available but said to be pondering retirement at 32 -- makes some sense. He would provide some of the speed that left with Ted Ginn, and he proved last season (with 43 catches, five TDs) that he has something left in the tank. Also Chad Pennington knows and likes him, which couldn't hurt. Forget the other notable available receiver, Antonio Bryant. Knee issues. Bad news.

OY, I'M NOT SURE I LIKE MY FANTASY TEAM: Had our draft yesterday, I drew the dreaded mid-round pick, and am not liking my teama whole lot. I'm OK with Drew Brees as my top pick but after that I'm nervous. My top three backs are LeSean McCoy, Beanie Wells and the ghost of Clinton Portis. My top receivers are Marques Colston, Donald Driver and Bernard Berrian. Also have tight end Chris Cooley, kicker Rob Bironas and the Ravens defense. Based on the players listed, essentially my starters, take a dip in our poll and grade my fantasy team. I should note ours is an air-oriented league in which the top four or five scorers last season were QBs. How'd I do? Be honest. I can take it.

DOLPHINS LED NFL IN MONEY-LOSING: So says Forbes, which reports the Cowboys turned a whopping $149 million profit in 2009 and the Dolphins ranked dead last with $7.7 mill in losses. (Only other team with a net loss: Lions). I don't think those celebrity part-owners are doing their share. C'mon, Estefans. Kick in! Or, hey, maybe the secretly rich Marlins can provide a loan!

1aabail ANYBODY BELIEVE NEVIN SHAPIRO? Miami Herald had a a story that Nevin Shapiro is looking for a publisher for a book that alleges NCAA violations by former UM football players. That'd be the same Nevin Shapiro who faces decades in prison for allegedly running a $900 million Ponzi scheme. Hilarious.

MARLINS BULLPEN = BULLSH- -: Josh Johnson must be seething, and has a right. Yesterday was at least the sixth win snatched from him by the Marlins' incompetent bullpen, and that includes closer Leo Nunez. I like the team heading into 2011. The lineup seems set and solid (except for catcher) and the top three starters are stout. But that 'pen? Gawd. Help wanted. Lots of it. And desperately.

DURON CARTER TO CANES?: A source has told me The U is among schools interested in WR Duron Carter (Cris' son, of St. Thomas Aquinas), who flunked out of Ohio State and is now attending a community college in Kansas. Stay tuned.

URBAN MEYER: CHANGED MAN: At least that's what is alleged here in a New York Times profile of the Florida gators football coach. Anybody believe it? Yeah me neither. .

1aaocho LEADING THE LEAGUE IN SELF-PROMOTION: Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco (Miami's own, the former Chad Johnson) has his own network, did Dancing With the Stars, is a Twittering fool and now (see right) has his own cereal! Start your day with a bowl of Ochocincos! They're high in calcium, fiber and ego.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS, HURRICANES BY THE NUMBERS: SI.com recently listed the greatest NFL player to wear each number, 00 through 99, and 12 players selected have played for the Dolphins or UM. In numerical order:

00   Jim Otto (UM 1957-59)

13   Dan Marino (Dolphins 1983-99)

23   Troy Vincent (Dolphins 1992-95)

39   Larry Csonka (Dolphins 1968-74, '79)

41   Keith Byars (Dolphins 1993-96)

52   Ray Lewis (UM 1993-95)

55   Junior Seau (Dolphins 2003-05)

57   Dwight Stephenson (Dolphins 1980-87)

62   Jim Langer (Dolphins 1970-79)

83   Ted Hendricks (UM 1966-68)

96   Cortez Kennedy (UM 1988-89)

99   Warren Sapp (UM 1992-94)

Comments: Vincent, Byars pretty weak choices apparently from slim pickings. Closest calls? Larry Little (66) lost out to Ray Nitschke; Michael Irvin (88) lost out to Alan Page; and I think Sapp (99) is a debatable choice over Jason Taylor (99).

August 27, 2010

PS3: Atlanta 16, Dolphins 6; Too soon to lose faith in Henne, team

1aaatlanta 1aaatlanta2 [Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote].

ATLANTA 16, DOLPHINS 6:

FINAL: Miami's starters played into the second half vs. a quality opponent and got handled pretty good. Coach Tony Sparano mentioned "sloppy inconsistency" and that might have included QB Chad Henne, who was 10-for-22 and threw an end-zone interception. Not the kind of "dress rehearsal" performance Miami wanted. Click on Henne, Youth, Patience for my column off the game. 

4TH QUARTER: Pat White lives!

3RD QUARTER: FALCONS 16-6 late in 3rd after Chris Redman 5-yard TD pass and missed kick ..... DOLPHINS 10-6 on Carpenter FG ..... Chad Henne out with 10 minutes and change left in 3rd after completing only 10 of 22 for 123 yards. Chad II, Pennington, now in.

2ND QUARTER: Chad Henne intercepted in end zone off deflection just before half kills promising drive that including completions of 26 and 20 yards to Brandon Marshall. Yeremiah Bell interception began the drive ..... FALCONS 10-3 on chipshot FG 1:43 before halftime ..... Karlos Dansby recovers fumble caused by Vontae Davis, but nothing comes of it ..... Oh my. CB Sean Smith needs to head straight to church and thank somebody after being beaten badly by Roddy White for shoulda-been easyTD on ball that was (whew!) slightly overthrown. 

1ST QUARTER: Chad Henne held ball a bit too long on punt-inducing sack ..... FALCONS 7-3 with 6:58 left in 1Q on 18-yard Matt Ryan pass into end zone to Roddy White. Beaten: Jason Allen ..... DOLPHINS 3-0 on Dan Carpenter 53-yard FG with 11:30 left in 1Q. Prior, Brandon Marshall fumbled after a catch but Ronnie Brown recovered. No! Upon review play ruled incomplete, bringing on Carpenter ..... Is it just me? Or is it annoying when the stadium announcer, sounding as if he's grinning, constantly says, "That's another Miami Dolphin ... first down!"

PREGAME:

Oronde Gadsden is one of the alumni coin-flippers tonight. Did I mention I'll be doing the 790 The Ticket Dolphin pregame show with Oronde and Eric Reed this season? Man, my capacity for self-promotion surprises even me sometimes.

A few hours ago Ricky Williams Tweeted this: "1 of the reasons I have an issue w/some of the members of the media is b/c they pollute our lockerroom w/negativity, mediocrity & triviality." Wow OY! The good news? I haven't dealt with Ricky lately, ever since he declined my request to write about his yoga class. So maybe, maybe, he'd been annoyed more recently than to have me in mind.

ORIGINAL POST:

OK, "biggest exhibition" is an NFL oxymoron. Let's just agree the third preseason game invariably offers the closest you get in August to a legitimate gauge because starters play much more than in the first, second or fourth faux games. Between that and the fact Atlanta is clearly superior to the first two preseason foes, I expect tonight to offer a pretty decent barometer of where the Dolphins are as the Sept. 12 opener draws ever nearer.

You might have heard by now I'll be on 790 The Ticket's Dolphin pregame show each week along with the station's Eric Reed and former Dolphin Oronde Gadsden starting Sept. 12.

Tonight I'll be particularly interested in how the offensive line is coming together, with rock-solid bookends in Jake Long and Vernon Carey but new pieces in between. Defense also faces its best test yet with Atlanta bringing a ton of weapons.

Share your thoughts before and during the game, then afterward let us know who most impressed you or didn't, and where you stand on the confident-to-worried scale as the season approaches.

August 25, 2010

Deceit! Marlins owe public apology for financial scandal; plus Pats/Jets' talent edge over Dolphins, NFL 18-game plan (with poll), Camarillo trade & more

[Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. Note: Jeffrey Loria poll still accepting votes in blogpost directly below this].

[BULLETIN: Heat reach 2011 NBA championship without playing game: So says ESPN panel of 93 experts. Picks for Eastern Conference champ: Heat 66 votes, Magic 16, Celtics 10, Bulls 1]. 

1aadavids APOLOGIZE NOW, MARLINS, OR P.R. MESS WILL LINGER: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, or club president David Samson (pictured) on his behalf, need to make an unequivocal public apology for this financial scandal -- this mess of their own creation. Let's make it clear. The issue and wrongdoing here isn't that someone leaked private financial statements. The issue and wrongdoing is that the information in those statements clearly means the Marlins have been lying about the team's profitability. They have broken the public trust. The lying to fans wrongly justified years of low payrolls. The lying to the city and county wrongly was a basis of the club's advantageous stadium deal, at taxpayer expense. (Click on Crying Poor With Pockets Full for my Tuesday column. Click here for an outside view appearing today on Yahoo!.com). Fans are entitled to their anger, and to mistrust this regime and think less than ever of Loria, and they do, based on my blog poll in the post directly below this that shows around 75% of fans call Loria a bad or terrible owner. (Voting continues). Local government also is entitled to be furious that the Marlins cried poor in 2008 during stadium negotiations even as they were making about $38 million profit that year. "They took us for a ride," says Miami-Dade commissioner Carlos Giminez. There is no undoing what has been done. But an apology by the Marlins is needed. No matter the new stadium in 2012 and no matter the team on the field, plenty of fans cannot bring themselves to support Loria and Samson -- now more than ever. Healing is needed. A public apology by this ownership would be a start. [Note: Samson appeared on 790 The Ticket this evening. I expected dodging and spinning, but no apology. Unfortunately, I was not disappointed]. Thursday evening update: Now even Miami mayor Tomas Regalado is saying the city and county were "misinformed" as to the Marlins' financial state during stadium negotiations.

PATS, JETS STILL HOLD TALENT EDGE OVER DOLPHINS: Scouts Inc. lists the top 200 best NFL players for ESPN.com -- not a fantasy list, but best overall. Peyton Manning was highest-rated with 95 points, while the players barely making the top 200 were at 77 points. I broke the list down into AFC East teams with these results:

PATRIOTS (9 players listed, 759 combined points) -- QB Tom Brady 93 points; WR Randy Moss 89; NT Vince Wilfork 89; WR Wes Welker 87; G Logan Mankins 85; DL Ty Warren 82; S Brandon Meriweather 78; C Dan Koppen 78; and LB Jerod Mayo 78.

JETS (7 players, 588 points) -- CB Darrelle Revis 93 points; C Nick Mangold 91; DT Kris Jenkins 86; LB David Harris 81; CB Antonio Cromartie 80; WR Santonio Holmes 79; and LB Bart Scott 78.

DOLPHINS (5 players, 423 points) -- LT Jake Long 89 points; WR Brandon Marshall 88; LB Karlos Dansby 85; RT Vernon Carey 82; and DT Randy Starks 79.

BILLS (1 player, 79 points) -- WR Lee Evans 79 points.

NFL WEIGHS 18-GAME SCHEDULE: League meets this week with agenda including debate whether to increase from a 16-game to an 18-game regular season. Argument for: TV and most owners are for it because less of the boring stuff (two fewer exhibition games) and more of the good stuff means added revenue. (Commish Roger Goodell hopes to switch to 18 by 2012). Argument against: It would mess with stats and records, coaches think they need the four preseason games, and players worry about added risk of injury. I tend to favor sticking with 16 but don't feel real strongly. You? Take a dip in our poll.

1aabennysapp CAMARILLO TRADE SMART FOR DOLPHINS: Gone to the Vikings today: Greg Camarillo, the team's fourth WR, opening a roster spot for Patrick Turner. Arrived from Minnesota: Cornerback Benny Sapp (pictured), a veteran who'll add stability behind young starters Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, especially with Will Allen out. Smart deal for Miami. (By the way, click on This One (Sort Of) Counts for my latest column, on why Friday's third Dolphin exhibition game matters).

CURRENT CANES ON DRAFT WATCH-LIST: NFLDraftBible.com previews the 2011 draft (never too soon!) and lists only three offensive Miami Hurricanes among the top 20 prospects at their positions: seniors Graig Cooper (10th RB) and Orlando Franklin (11th OT), and junior Jacory Harris (12th QB).

TIGER/ELIN DIVORCE UPDATE: As best I can determine, Elin gave an interview to People magazine in which she revealed being saddened by the divorce, and Tiger responded in an interview by saying he understood her sadness and was, in fact, also sad. Updates as warranted.

1aajaymar MARIOTTI COPSHOT; We seldom see a flattering police mugshot, and I would say busted journalist Jay Mariotti (right) is no exception. Unless he meant to look as if he were gathering ammunition to spit.

LIST: BEATLES SONGS: Rolling Stone's top 10 Beatles songs, from its new coffee-table book on the group's 100 greatest songs of all-time:

1. A Day In The Life

2. I Want To Hold Your Hand

3. Strawberry Fields Forever

4. Yesterday

5. In My Life

6. Something

7. Hey Jude

8. Let It Be

9. Come Together

10. While My Guitar Gently Weeps

My comment: Fairly wimpy list. Lots of soft 'n slow.

August 23, 2010

Stunner: Documents confirm Marlins profitable (with Jeffrey Loria poll); plus Nick Saban impersonator (with vid) & more

[Thanks to all who joined us today for Live Chat Wednesday. We do it each week from noon to 1 in the Q&A Forum. Click HERE to join live, read past transcripts or to post questions any time. Also follow at Twitter.com/gregcoteWant to weigh in on the Dolphins? See the post directly below this one].

1aajeffreyl MARLINS OWNERSHIP CRIES POOR BUT MAKES NEAT PROFIT: [Click on Crying Poor With Pockets Full for today's column by me on leaked documents revealing the Marlins' financial state] Perfectly timed with the Marlins literally giving away fan favorite Cody Ross in part to save a few bucks, Deadspin.com today reveals formerly private financial statements for several MLB teams including the Marlins and -- imagine that! -- it turns out our little team is making quite a profit while crying poor. Click here for the overview and here to go right to the Marlins' Consolidated Balance Sheets for 2008 and 2009. Crunch all the numbers and here's what stands out: The Marlins' operating income (tantamount to net profit) the past two years totaled $48.9 million. That's largely because of a player payroll so low in 2008 that baseball publicly admonished the Marlins and ordered them to start spending more. That's why the profit was $37.8 million in '08 and "only" $11.1 million '09 because of a modestly increased payroll. Bottom line: The Jeffrey Loria ownership for years has chosen to increase overall profit rather than put more of that toward bigger payrolls and better teams. Loria's ownership has not been all bad. The 2003 World Series title was on his watch, and he should get some credit for the new stadium coming in 2012. Still, the big picture is of an owner who for years has been seriously underspending on the product he presents to fans and, relative to other teams, continues to underspend. But that's just me. Take a dip in our poll and you grade the Marlins' owner.

[Quick aside: Attended my wife's high school reunion Saturday night and was told (not for the first time) that I looked like Jeffrey Loria. Except that the woman, possibly hammered, called him Jim Loria. I wish my personal profit margin also looked like Loria's].

SABAN IMPERSONATOR: Alabama walk-on receiver Rob Ezell does a spot-on imitation of coach Nick Saban. Click here for the YouTube video. (Crimson Tide a consensus No. 1 in the preseason polls. Like Miami's Hurricanes checking in a pretty impressive No. 13 in the first AP poll. Been awhile since I've looked forward to a UM season this much).

GET IN LINE, TOM BRADY: Patriots QB Tom Brady tells Boston's WEEI radio, "I hate the Jets." Get in line, pal. You know how people (other than the team's fans) hated the 1986 UM Hurricanes and hate the new dream-team Heat now? I'd nominate Rex Ryan and his 2010 Jets for the list.

1aajaym JAY MARIOTTI'S ARREST: ESPN curmudgeon Jay Mariotti was arrested over the weekend on a felony charge related to an apparent domestic dispute. Must have been somewhat serious because the bail he made was a fairly steep $50,000. Is it official now? Has every ESPN announcer been arrested? I think that's the only network where each on-air personality gets his own wardrobe consultant, makeup artist and defense lawyer.

VIEWER BUSTS LADY GOLFER: LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster was disqualified from the Safeway Classic when a TV viewer reported she used a weighted "doughnut" during a practice swing, a rules violation. I'm not sure which is more shocking: That Inkster would do that. Or that an LPGA tournament had a TV viewer.

1aaegg EGG RECALL CONTINUES: The national recall of millions of eggs continues due to a salmonella outbreak. I have no punchline or anything to add. I've just been looking for an excuse to post a photo of a smiling, waving cartoon egg wearing sneakers.

1aaharp BEER UPDATE: Greg Cote, who dislikes people who speak in the third-person but is doing it now, is a Miller Lite man but this weekend tried for the first time a Harp, the Irish lager, and rather enjoyed it. 

Click back. I'll be adding much more stuff to this post thoughout the day Monday.

August 21, 2010

PS2: Dolphins 27, Jacksonville 26; Henne passes test

1aadol2 1aadol DOLPHINS NOW 2-0 IN PRESEASON

Last night's lightning-delayed 27-26 victory in Jacksonville was an answer for anybody questioning Chad Henne and the potential of Miami's passing offense. Either that or an indictment of the Jaguars' pass defense. Or both.

Three Dolphins QBs combined for 22 completions in 30 attempts for 281 yards and three TDs, most of the damage done early by Henne. And Brandon Marshall, shut out last week, caught four balls for 65 yards.

Nolan Carroll appeared to solidify his claim to the kick-return job. Most of the negatives were on defense, with only one sack and uneven play in the secondary.

Original post: Miami looked somewhat sloppy in last week's exhibition debut, a 10-7 win at home vs. Tampa Bay. Now tonight the Dolphins seek improvement against another NFL bottom-feeder in the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Fun fact about Jacksonville: Its official civic motto is, "The City That Doesn't Smell As Bad As It Used To.") Things worth looking out for in the game:

1. Does the first-team offense, especially Chad Henne-to-Brandon Marshall, click in a way it did not last week? Let us all pray Marshall has an impact night because the alternative -- more drops, another zero-catch game -- means Your Friend the Overanalyzing Media will turn "What's Wrong With Brandon!?" into a mushroom cloud. Also need to see a sharper, penalty-free effort from the offensive line.

2. Will the Dolphins show signs they can generate consistent pass pressure in non-blitz situations? Jags look like a sackable opponent and a chance for guys like Cameron Wake and rookie Koa Misi to shine.

3. Who'll step forward to claim the kick-return job? C'mon, now. Don't make us start wishing Ted Ginn Jr. was still here!

Your comments are welcome here before, during and of course after tonight's game. Tell us when it's over who most impressed you or didn't.

Note: Our Unofficial Live Boutique Blog will be taking the night off because I'll be attending my wife's high-school reunion at a local hotel, imbibing, trying to be invisible, and working steadfastly to avoid the dance floor. So the Dolphins and y'all are on your own.

August 18, 2010

The death of women's sports (with poll); plus Favre's return, Dolphin injuries, inappropriate politics & more

[Thanks to all our live-chatters today. We do it every Wednesday from noon to 1. Click HERE to join us then or to post questions any time. Also, follow along at Twitter.com/gregcote. Note: Our Udonis Haslem/pot-bust poll is still accepting your votes in blog post directly below this].

1aagalball THE DEATH OF  WOMEN'S SPORTS: A new study of gender in televised sports by Southern Cal's Center for Feminist Research finds that women's sports are being shown on TV less than at any point in the past 20 years. The center's Michael Messner calls it "simply intolerable." I call it "simply understandable." Women's sports that should be staples, such as the WNBA and LPGA, are stagnant and struggling. The latest attempt at women's professional soccer has folded. And TV is the great, inarguable barometer: It's all about the ratings. Women's Olympic sports such as figure skating, the WTA (women's tennis) and to some degree women's major-college basketball are consistently the only female sports that draw interest (ratings). You can debate the moral ethics of Title IX, but you can't argue facts such as TV ratings or this, as an example: the NBA attendance share relative to the WNBA was 92.3 percent last season. Title IX gives women's sports a free pass, a fair chance, but women need to earn their place on TV by providing a product that is attractive. At the root of this is the reality that the WNBA and women's golf simply are not sports that enough people (men or women) care to watch. But that's just my take. What's yours? Take a dip in our poll and weigh in.

FAVRE RETURNING STEEPENS DOLPHINS' CLIMB: Looks like quarterback Brett Favre will return to the Minnesota Vikings instead of retiring, thanks in part to a $3.5 million bribe raise. The biggest impact of that is to the Green Bay Packers, whose path to a division title adds a huge roadblock. But Miami takes a hit, too. Dolphins are at Minnesota in Week 2 and will go there now as a considerably bigger underdog. The Vikes would have pretty good even with Tarvaris Jackson. With Favre they're a top-five squad and a Super Bowl contender.

GOTTA LOVE THE MEDIA: Talking about today's headline, 'No hand-wringing needed about [Brandon] Marshall drops.' I am not singling out the writer because we all do it; I've done it. Essentially we write "no need to panic" but in devoting coverage to the subject we lend credence to and in effect contribute to the panic. It's mindful of the annual barrage of Super Bowl columns bemoaning the excess while contributing to it. Marshall continues the least of your worries, Dolfans. Now if you'd like to start worrying about the rash of injuries (the latest to guard Nate Garner), then I think you're on to something!

1aajamesl YET MORE LEBRON: Click here for excerpts from GQ's September cover story on LeBron James in which he mentions maybe ending his career back in Cleveland, if Cavs fans would have him. That should be fine. We'll allow it. Don't be greedy, Heat fans. Five years of LBJ and a few championships should sate us well.

LET'S GET ALL POLITICAL!: I know, I know. "That's inappropriate for a sports blog!" I can hear you now. I stretch the bounds of the blog partly for the hell of it, but largely because I give sports fans and my readers credit for having a brain beyond games. So I say this:

1. DR. LAURA: I don't listen to Dr. Laura Schlessinger's syndicated radio show but have explored the issue of her using the N-word on the air and basically being forced into retirement for it. Click here for an audio and transcript of what she said. In context, she used the word in reference to how black comics say "n--, n--, n--" all the time, with impunity. (She might have added black rappers). It strikes me the firestorm is much ado about very little. But there's a lesson here: Apparently it is that White Folk may not use the N-word even when quoting Black Folk using the N-word.

2. GROUND ZERO MOSQUE: I guess we have to define the boundaries of what constitutes Sacred Ground, considering the mosque site is a couple of blocks from where the World Trade Centers went down, in an area that used to be a Burlington Coat Factory. Anybody else think it's strange that in this case a prayer center seems less fitting for Sacred Ground than a coat factory?

3. ROD BLAGOJEVICH: A jury convicted the disgraced Illinois governor on only one of 24 corruption counts. Who knew the O.J. Jury was still together?

Don't even get me started on Jeff Greene.

1aashaqrun SHAQ VS. TYSON GAY: Click here for the full episode of the Shaq Vs. reality show when he races 60 meters against Tyson Gay. Well, except that Tyson is running 60 meters and Shaq only 30. There is a word for that type of head start. I think the word is "cheating."

HIP-HOP MONEY-MAKERS: Forbes list the top 20 hip-hop profiteers and the top 10 is Jay-Z, Diddy, Akon, Lil Wayne and Dr. Dre, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West. Did you ever notice that all Forbes seems to do now is rank people by how much money they make.

Click back. Be adding updates and more new stuff to this post later...

August 16, 2010

Udonis Haslem's pot bust (with poll); plus LeBron on eventual return to Cavs, Gator Capgate, OB Classic's new sponsor, designer chainsaws & more

[It's LIVE CHAT WEDNESDAY! Click HERE to join us today from noon to 1 p.m. or to post questions early. Also, join the following at Twitter.com/gregcote. Note: See the "PS1: Tampa Bay at Dolphins" post directly below this to comment specifically about Saturday night's preseason opener].

1aahaslem UDONIS' EVENTFUL SUNDAY DRIVE: Florida Highway Patrol stopped Heat veteran Udonis Haslem for speeding on Sunday. Also, for weeding. The apparent distinctive aroma of marijuana emanating from the vehicle led cops to arrest Haslem and a friend and charge both with possession of pot -- although Haslem was cited for having more than 20 grams, a third-degree felony. I'm curious what you all think. Hence, the poll below. Me? Because marijuana use is common throughout the NBA (the commissioner should be Cheech & Chong), the idea that Udonis might smoke doesn't surprise me. Disappointing? Yeah. Especially that he (apparently/allegedly) would drive under the influence. Also, he's a respected veteran and team leader, not some flaky kid-rookie like Michael Beasley. But I think Udonis has built a good enough name to withstand this. I also think there's more to this yet to come out. Already, Haslem's friend has said the pot was his, leading the player's attorney to claim his client will be vindicated. [Monday night update: Haslem released a statement saying, "I am confident that once the judicial process runs its course, I will be cleared.”] Your thoughts welcome.

"I'M-A TAKE MY TALENTS TO SOUTH BEACH" -- THE VIDEO: Click here for a worthwhile new vid by DJ Steve Porter for ESPN's SportsNation show, a montage of sports clips to a hip-hoppy vibe. Good dose of LeBron James and his famous line from "The Decision." D-Wade with some facetime, too. [Tuesday afternoon update: Piece on LeBron in the September GQ (click here) in which King does not rule out ending his career back in Cleveland, post-Heat. Meantime he says Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's infamous decision-night open letter gives him fuel. High octane].

UM BASEBALL DOESN'T PLAY, LOSES: I was down at UM Tuesday to interview Randy Shannon and bumped into Jim Morris, the baseball coach. He was lamenting losing five top recruits to MLB contracts on deadline-day for them to sign. Thought he had a shot at all five, but they followed the money. "We could have been the Miami Heat," he told me, half-kiddingly, "Instead we're the Cleveland Cavaliers." : .

1aaflacap GATOR CAPGATE: Reporter fired for wearing Gators ballcap (she's an alum) to an opposing school's football press conference. She's Renee Gork, fired by Hog Sports Radio two days after wearing her UF chapeau to an Arkansas media session at which coach Bobby Petrino glared and said he'd not answer any more questions from someone in an enemy hat. My scorecard: Reporter was mildly unprofessional for wearing the hat. Coach was OK to say what he did kiddingly, but not mean it. Radio station was was out of bounds for thinking this a firing offense. (Pictured left: A scene from the press conference, minus Gork and the press conference).

1aadiscover OB CLASSIC ALIGNING WITH DISCOVER CARD: After two decades as the FedEx Orange Bowl Classic, the annual college football bowl game's new title sponsor will be Discover Card, according to a CNBC report today. You know I hate corporate sponsors in stadium, arena and event names and don't use them in columns. Discover Card strikes me as a B-list alignment. It's fourth-banana in its field behind American Express, Visa and MasterCard, and its previous most prominent sponsorships have been with the second-tier Arena Football League and WNBA.

DUSTIN JOHNSON'S BRAIN FART: Dustin Johnson gave away the PGA Championship yesterday because of a two-stroke penalty for touching the blade of his club on a sand trap prior to striking the ball. Now golf is full of sometimes maddening persnickety rules, and this might be one, but Johnson blew it here. Wasn't the PGA Tour's fault. Wasn't the fault of officials on the course. It was the player's fault. Period.

1aachainsaw FOR THE HIGH-FASHION LUMBERJACK?: It has come to my attention that companies once associated only with pricey high fashion are now delving into blue-collar products (see photo). You'd buy this product, for example, if your shopping list included a pampered celebrity who eschews a gardening staff and chooses to prune the trees on his estate himself.

[Click back. Will be adding much more stuff to this post shortly and throughout the day...]

THE LIST: DOLPHIN PRESEASON OPENERS: Did some research to discern whether there is any correlation at all between winning or losing the exhibition opener and the season that follows. Conclusion: No correlation. Closer to the opposite. Of note, Miami lost its exhibition opener the year of the 1972 Perfect Season, and won in 2007 before going 1-15. The overall results from 1966-2009:

When Miami wins exhibition opener (20 times):

12 winning seasons

6 losing seasons

2 .500 seasons

9 playoff appearances

When Miami loses exhibition opener  (23 times):

17 winning seasons

3 losing seasons

3 .500 seasons

13 playoff appearances

Note: Miami tied its exhibition opener once and a losing sesaon followed.

August 14, 2010

PS1: Dolphins 10, Tampa Bay 7; Who impressed you or didn't in Miami's preseason opener?

[Note: For e-mailers who have asked: Yes, our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls will be back this year, but they don't start until the regular season].

TAMPA BAY @ DOLPHINS:

FINAL: Dolphins win exhibition opener 10-7. Chad Henne, Brandon Marshall and first-team offense looked shaky, for what that's worth (not much). Mike Nolan's defense came up pretty big. Your thoughts welcome.

4Q: Rashad Jones recovers TB fumble -- the fourth takeaway by Miami's defense. ..... Dolphins protect their lead with 6:28 to play when Nate Ness deflects an end-zone pass by Tampa Bay on fourth-and-goal from the Miami 3. 

3Q: DOLPHINS 10, BUCS 7. Lex Hilliard 2-yard scoring run gives Miami its first lead as quarter wanes. Set up by Tyler Thigpen to Marlon Moore for 34-yard completion to TB 11. ..... Bucs miss a 49-yard FG try keep score at 7-3, Tampa, with four minutes left in third. ..... I'm going to say this has been a dreadful game so far even by exhitbition-opener standards. 

2Q: BUCS 7, DOLPHINS 3. Dan Carpenter 33-yard FG in closing seconds of first half averts shutout. ..... Dolphins at Tampa Bay 4 but lose fumble as offensive frustration continues. ..... Paul Solaia fumble recovery for Miami is third takeaway by Dolphins defense. Now time for offense to do something. ..... Four series, four punts for Miami offense. ..... Sean Smith interception in opening seconds of second Q finally gives Dolfans something to cheer. 

1Q -- Three series, three punts. Not that I'm counting. Brandon Marshall drops a perfect pass. Two minutes left in first quarter and Dolfans with pretty much zero to cheer so far. ..... BUCS 7, DOLPHINS 0. Sammie Stroughter 13-yard TD pass from Josh Freeman with 3:07 to play in first quarter. Big play was Vontae Davis getting scorched for 30-yard completion. Oy. ..... Brandon Fields takes early lead in 2010 Dolphins team MVP voting with 63-yard punt. ..... Rain, a muddy baseball infield and a punt on the first possession. Not ideal conditions to launch a season, but what the hell. ..... Rain falling. Thank gosh I'm up in the press box staying dry and luxuriating in tubs of popcorn. ..... Live blog underway! Kickoff getting close. Dolphins lead, 0-0. Crowd looking like a Marlins crowd right now but filling in.

Original post: I'll be at the Dolphins' home stadium tonight 1aadolphfor 2010 preseason game No. 1 vs. the Buccaneers of Tampa Bay. Exhibition openers are famously unreliable barometers in terms of placing any stock in the final score since starters such as Chad Henne are likely to play only the first quarter, but this game will serve as a major stage for marginal guys trying to impress and make the roster. Tonight we'll also be interested in getting our first competitive glimpses of new Dolphins such as Brandon Marshall (pictured), Karlos Dansby and Jared Odrick.

1aadolph3 We'll turn this into an Unofficial Live Boutique Blog starting sometime around 6:30, so join us if you can and share your thoughts before, during and of course after the game. Let us know who or what you are most interested in seeing and later who impressed you or didn't and what stood out to you overall. We'll also be Twittering and Tweeting throughout the game so follow at Twitter.com/gregcote if you aren't already on board.

Because it's football time, baby!

August 13, 2010

Judging Rex [Bleepin'] Ryan (with poll); plus my new radio gig, Tiger, ex-Dolphin marries stalker, Stanton & more

1aafriday13th [SATURDAY BLOGNOTE: Our Tampa Bay @ Dolphins blogpost will publish here at precisely 4 p.m. today and we'll be blogging live during tonight's preseason opener. We'll also be Tweeting during the game so join us at Twitter.com/gregcote if you aren't already on board].

1aarexr JETS, REX RYAN IN WITH A BANG ON 'HARD KNOCKS': [Click here for today's column by me on how Rex Ryan personifies the stark contrast in styles between the Jets and Dolphins]. The HBO training-camp series that this year features the New York Jets debuted last night with coach Rex Ryan proclaiming he wanted to lead the league in wins. After watching the episode I can tell you Ryan already leads the league in F-bombs. Click here for some of the debut episode as Ryan addresses his team. Some people look at this guy and admire his brashness and candor. Most of those people are Jets fans. The rest of us look at Ryan and think, "What an a--hole." Your thoughts on Ryan are invited. Take a dip in our poll.

DSC01093_0355 COTE (THAT'S ME) ON 790'S DOLPHINS PREGAME SHOW: It's true. I'll be part of 790 The Ticket's Dolphin pregame shows throughout the regular season, along with the station's Eric Reed and former Dolphin Oronde Gadsden. I (pictured left along with my misshapen nose) think it'll be an interesting mix. To the table I hope to bring a bit of light-heartedness but also the perspective of someone who has followed the Dolphins the whole way, from a preteen who attended the very first game in 1966 to a journalist who has chronicled the team throughout his career.

TIGERS CONFRONTS LATEST MAJOR HURDLE: PGA Championship launches today in Wisconsin and how Tiger Woods will fare is the most compelling story. Click on Tiger Hunts For Lost Mojo for today's column by me.  

1aacchambers CHRIS CHAMBERS MARRIES STALKER: Ex-Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers, now with the Chiefs, married Stacey Bernice Saunders in Las Vegas recently (see photo). Notable? Only because in 2009 Chambers filed 11 separate stalking/harrassment complaints against the woman, who apparently hadn't taken well to Chris breaking off their extramarital affair. Two thoughts. 1) Other than anything involving a Kardashian, I cannot think of a marriage more destined to fail. 2) What a boon for the stalking industry! To hell with those restraining orders, stalkers. Show persistence and you, too, can marry the victim of your dreams!

MIKE STANTON, RISING: Last night the Marlins' phenom went 5-for-5, including his 11th home run. Much more of this and he'll make a late push in the NL Rookie of the Year race that presently finds teammate Gaby Sanchez among favorites. All that talk about Stanton's prodigious power was not just hype. This kid is for real. Can see him as a 40-homer guy for many years.

LEBRON JAMES HECKLED (SORT OF): Click here for a YouTube video of LeBron James being (mildly) heckled at an Akron amusement park this past weekend as he tries (and fails) to sink baskets through those diabolically smal amusement-park hoops.

Click back. Will be adding updates and new stuff throughout the day...

August 10, 2010

Ronnie Brown vs. Ricky Williams (with poll); plus Isiah quits Knicks, LeBron hires rabbi, Arroyo sings, ESPN has UM 10th, Van Gundy's motive, Pope-in-cap & more

1aaramadan [Notes: 1. Thanks to all who tapped into Live Chat Wednesday. Do it each week from noon to 1. Click HERE to join live or to post questions any time. 2. Follow at Twitter.com/gregcote. It's like one big happy family, other than nobody knows each other. 3. Tiger Woods poll still accepting votes in blogpost directly below this. 4. A happy, reflective Ramadan to all our Muslim friends. Get right with your Allah. Fast!].

1aalebronrabbi KING JAMES GOES OLD TESTAMENT: Verifying that the mega-rich are just looking for ways to spend silly money, Heat star LeBron James today paid Rabbi Yishayahu Yosef Pinto -- "Rabbi to the Business Stars" -- a six-figure sum to serve as his spiritual guide for upcoming business decisions. (Better the rabbi than Bernie Madoff. OY! Remember when the clergy ministered quietly to their flock? Off-camera and with scant renumeration?) Meeting took place on a yacht off the coast of New York, according to TMZ.com, which broke this important story and from whom we relay the telling photo. Couple of interesting notes. 1) Rabbi Pinto is 37 but looks 87 because of the fantastic, funky beard. 2) The rabbi speaks only Hebrew, so hopefully LeBron also sprung for an interpreter. 3) The Heat's pregame ritual this season just prior to tipoff will include players sharing a bottle of Manischewitz and chanting Hava Nagila. OK I made up that last part. But not the rest of it. Postscript: For your multicultural enjoyment, I present the phrase "Heat win it all" in Hebrew: 

חום זכיה שזאת כל

RONNIE VS. RICKY, RICKY VS. RONNIE: Ronnie Brown. Ricky Williams. Two good backs, one solid tandem. Together they are one of the Dolphins' strengths. But only one can start. Every team has a No. 1. Somebody is going to play more and carry more. There is little doubt that will be Brown. But should it be? Who would you prefer to have the bigger role and most carries, Dolfans?  And why? Take a dip in our poll.

'MADDEN 11' PLAYER RATINGS FOR DOLPHINS: Guys rating 90-plus are WR Brandon Marshall (96), LT Jake Long (96) and FB Lousaka Polite (91). Just missed: DT Randy Starks at 89. Surprisingly no love: LB Karlos Dansby. 

CANES RANKED 10TH BY ESPN: ESPN.com's spankin' new preseason college football rankings have Miami's Hurricanes a rather robust No. 10. Sports Illustrated's collball preview issue, on newsstands now, has Canes No. 15, with defensive Allen Bailey getting some nice ink, and CB Brandon Harris making the mag's preseason All-America team.

1aaaroyo CARLOS ARROYO SINGS!: The Heat guard (near right) has released a song on iTunes. Click here.

BRETT FAVRE'S DONG: You might know by now that perpetually undecided Vikings QB Brett Favre is accused of texting photos of his private parts to a woman who worked for the Jets when Favre was there in 2008. Of course this has spawned the inevitable YouTube treatment: "See My Dong," to the tune of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long." Click here for the vid.

1aajeffvg ON JEFF VAN GUNDY'S MOTIVE: I was parts amused and skeptical to read that basketball commentator Jeff Van Gundy of ABC/ESPN (pictured right with sinister, creepy lighting) had come out and pretty much predicted the 2010-11 dream-team Heat should be the greatest team, well, ever. JVD said Dwyane, LeBron & Company would break the all-time record of 72 wins and never lose even two in a row. He all but called Miami unbeatable, saying, "The other 29 teams better hope the lockout gets moved up a year." Two thoughts: 1) I generally like Jeff's TV work. He's smart and candid. 2) In this case, I don't trust his motivation for saying what he said. He used the media. It seems clear to me he is purposely turning up the pressure on Erik Spoelstra and the Heat on behalf of his brother, Stan, who happens to coach one of the teams, Orlando, now chasing the Heat. A conflict of interest is apparent when Announcer Bro says something expressly designed for Coach Bro to utilize as bulletin-board material.

'SEXIEST SEVEN' HEAT GAMES: NBA released its full NBA schedule today and here are my Sexiest Seven Heat games, chronologically: Oct. 26 at Boston (regular-season debut of Dream Team); Oct. 29 vs. Orlando (home opener); Nov. 2 vs. Minnesota (return of Michael Beasley); Nov. 11 vs. Boston (Shaq's back); Nov. 13 vs. Toronto (Chris Bosh ex's); Dec. 2 at Cleveland (rage awaits LeBron); and Dec. 25 at L.A. Lakers (holiday event as possible NBA Finals preview.

1aagaga LADY GAGA: I would be more impressed by the tattoo pictured if Lady GaGa did not appear to be a man in drag.

BOOK OF ISIAH ADDS ODD NEW CHAPTER: [Wednesday evening update: Isiah rescinds Knicks job after determining it violated NBA bylaws. Thanks to all involved for making my below-referenced column seem brilliant and influential whether it was or not!] FIU basketball coach Isiah Thomas hired by the Knicks while continuing as college coach is a conflict of interest that the NBA and/or NCAA should strike down. Or so I say in this column online and in today's pulp edition. 

1aagaby AWARD DART LANDS ON NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: I drew NL rookie of the year in the annual rotation of awards up for BBWAA vote this year, meaning the fate of Marlin Gaby Sanchez is partly up to me. Gaby (pictured left) is a very strong candidate, but the next few weeks will tell in a tight race. My radar currently also includes Jason Heyward of Atlanta, Ike Davis of the Mets, the Cubs' Tyler Colvin and pitcher Jaime Garcia of St. Louis. Vote is due prior to start of playoffs.

1aapopecap BALLCAP MANIA HITS NEW LOW: The baseball cap, formerly worn mostly by baseball players and self-consciously balding men, has become a fashion statement now worn most everywhere. But it's like the old saying goes, "At least the Pope doesn't wear a baseball cap!"  .  

THE LIST: LOCAL WINNING, LOSING STREAKS: Longest winning and losing streaks for our Big Five (four pro teams and UM football):

WINNING:

Years   Team (Seasons)

17  UM football (1980-96)

9    UM football (1998-06)

7    Dolphins (1997-03)

6    Dolphins (1970-75)

6    Heat (1996-01)

5    Dolphins (1981-85)

LOSING:

7    Panthers (2001-08)

5    UM football (1969-73)

5    Heat (1989-93)

5    Marlins (1998-02)

4    Dolphins (1966-69)

4    Marlins (1993-96)

Check back. Might be adding updates and new stuff to this blogpost later...