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9 posts from March 2011

March 31, 2011

Play ball! Who's your favorite Marlin? (with poll); plus UConn-Butler final, Wile E. Coyote, Heat, new Strikers, new Wonder Woman & more

[Sorry I was late getting this  new blogpost out. I was off using the restroom. Hey if that excuse is good enough for LeBron James, it's good enough for me. By the way, join us at Twitter.com/gregcote].

1aa1bbopening2 1aa1bbopening MARLINS: UNDER THE RADAR, BUT A PLAYOFF SHOT: [Season begins with an exhilirating 6-2 victory for the Marlins. I propose in this column that Florida can contend for a wild-card spot this season, despite universal doubts. Hey, if you can't be optimistic on Opening Day...] Original post: It's Opening Night 2011 and Marlins hosting Bernie Madoff's Mets tonight to launch the club's 19th season and last in the old stadium. Hardly anybody gives the Marlins a playoff shot. Example: Of 45 ESPN.com "experts" asked to predict the division winners and wild-cards, this many had Florida in the postseason: Zero! I give the Marlins a shot if good health couples with several key guys meeting expectations and the bullpen being better as advertised. I do worry about the third base situation and a generally weak bench, but still predict the Marlins to be around an 85-win team with a wild-card shot. Click on The Prodigy for today's Marlins column by me on Mike Stanton. (Insider gripe: Can't believe my newspaper used Sony tennis over Marlins as the main display in today's Sports section. Really, really bad decision). Now take a dip in our poll. Let's play My Favorite Marlin (not to be confused with My Favorite Martian). By however you define "favorite," who's your pick among current players going in and why? I thought Hanley Ramirez might be the favorite going in but it appears some fan-unfriendly attitude issues last year, along with the departures of popular Dan Uggla and Cody Ross, have thrown the favorite-Marlin title wide open.

IT'S A UCONN-BUTLER FINAL TWO: Well I didn;t get what I wanted in last night's men's Final Four semifinal in Houston. My rooting interest was Virginia Commonwealth over Butler (a real Cinderella beating a fake Cindy), and Kentucky over UConn (a return to power over a program recently penalized for shady recruiting). Instead it was UConn, 56-55, and Butler, 70-62. And if you think the No. 3 seed Huskies vs. the No. 8 Bulldogs topped a lot of brackets, consider only 881 of 5.9 million brackets in ESPN's contest had this as the final game. This is the highest combined seed (11) and also the most combined losses (18) of any NCAA championship game. UConn is the favorite but I'll be rooting for the mid-major from the Midwest in Monday's crescendo. 

OMG! SIMON COWELL BUYS DOLPHINS!!!: I love April 1st and the tradition of the "April Fool's joke" because we know it's coming, we see it coming, and yet it goes on, undeterred by blatant predictability. Latest example: This morning on the Paul & Young Ron Show on 105.9, in a pre-taped interview, Simon Cowell reveals he is buying the Miami Dolphins and the stadium from Stephen Ross. Actually I think the handoff between celebrity-obsessed owners might be pretty smooth. The station's producer called me yesterday and asked me to come on this morning and do a faux interview as if the news were true. I respectfully declined. I think the April Fool's stunt is perfect for radio -- especially those wacky morning zoo shows! -- but not something I'd like to be associated with, except in the following item, which is absolutely true and not in any way an April Fool's joke even though it's April 1st!!

1aa1rickyyoga RICKY WILLIAMS INTERVENES IN NFL LOCKOUT: Dolphins running back-for-now Ricky Williams (pictured practicing yoga) has been engaged as a mediator in the NFL labor discord between owners and players. Williams will use yoga, trance techniques, "holistic mind-healing" and if necessary perhaps the secret herbal contents of a small plastic baggie to bring the sides closer together, toward a state of love and harmony. "The key is to allow each side to see into the other's soul," said Ricky. "Of course that presupposes that Roger Goodell has a soul, but still."    

ISIAH BEING ISIAH: Defrocked NBA'er Isiah Thomas, now FIU's basketball coach of course, is profiled in-depth (click here) in a new Foxsports.com piece I'd recommend. Thomas comes off a bit paranoid, as if everyone is conspiring to keep him out of the NBA. Representative quote, talking about playing-era rivals Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan: "If they were all my size, s---, they wouldn't even be talked about. Make them all 6-1 and let's go on the court."

VANILLA ICE UPDATE: Former or perhaps still parttime Miamian Vanilla Ice will appear England later this year as Captain Hook in a pantomime stage production of Peter Pan. Click No I'm NOT Lying for the story.

1aa1coyote MY 'ROADRUNNER' FANTASY: As a kid watching, and loving, "The Roadrunner" cartoon (meep meep!), I used to root for poor, hapless Wile E. Coyote to finally catch the Roadrunner. I mean, couldn't something out of that damned Acme crate work just once!? Well, here's a linked mini-cartoon from the makers of "Family Guy," a spoof as brilliant and funny as you'd expect. Click on Roadrunner to see if my dream comes true. WARNING: It's adult-y. If a little cursing including a couple of cartoon f-bombs will offend you, please don't watch.

1AA1FTLSTRIKERS FORT LAUDERDALE STRIKERS, THE SEQUEL: The 1aa1ftlstrikers1 Strikers were pretty big down here, pre-Heat/Marlins/Panthers, circa 1977 to early '80s, when the NASL was semi-thriving. Well, they're back. Sort of. The former second-tier USL is calling itself the NASL now, and the Miami FC Blues have transmogrified into the new Fort Lauderdale Strikers and are playing at Lockhart Stadium beginning next week. Will it fly? Not if you compare it to the original, but otherwise, maybe. Pictured right is the original Strikers logo and, at left, the new team's logo.

1aa1crown HEAT KING-O-METER UPDATE: Latest update on our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking which of Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season. This is after 75 games, through last night's win at Washington: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 4,418.17 King points to 3,929.13 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. Wade leads in games led, 38-37, although LBJ has won three straight. (Regular updates whenever you see the crown symbol pictured).

1aa1wonder3 Leaving you with a photo of Adrianne Palicki engaging in a bit of wardrobe adjustment as "Wonder Woman," the new NBC series now filming. Seems like they want a Lynda Carter clone. I prefer Palicki's natural blond hair. Can't complain too much, though. Click back. be adding more stuff to this new post later...

THE LIST: MARLINS' PRODUCTION MEN: Only five Marlins on seven occasions have had 100 runs and 100 RBIs the same season. The chronology:

1996   Gary Sheffield   118r, 120bi

2001   Cliff Floyd   123r, 103bi

2004   Miguel Cabrera   101r, 112bi

2005   Miguel Cabrera   106r, 116bi

2006   Miguel Cabrera   112r, 114bi

2009   Hanley Ramirez   101r, 106bi

2010   Dan Uggla   100r, 105bi

March 28, 2011

Confessions of a March Madness convert (with Final Four poll); plus Heat lose, Marlins countdown, stinkin' Jets, Jose Canseco & more

[Follow at Twitter.com/gregcote. It's like having me in your home or office, but without having to call the cops].

CONFESSION OF A REFORMED MARCH MADNESS AGNOSTIC: That's me. I don't call myself a March Madness atheist 1aa1final4 because I don't deny the men's basketball NCAA Tournament exists as something that sends millions into annual rapture. I'm an agnostic in that I don't get into the religious fervor as much as I stand back from it with bemusement over others' orgasmic involvement. Now here comes the caveat: Virginia Commonwealth going from a play-in game to the Final Four finally convinces me that what the March Madness acolytes say is really true: The little team really can win it all, and in a way that doesn't seem nearly as possible in most other sports. I'm sold. I still think there are too many teams to start (68), but VCU getting this far -- and for the first time ever, no No. 1 or 2 seed in the FF -- affirms for me that anything is possible. It's a good Final Four all-round, with traditional powers in Kentucky and UConn, and upstarts in Butler and Virginia un-Commonwealth. My bracket exploded, so my rooting interest from here is purely emotional. UConn won as recently as 2004 so is my fourth choice. Butler, an overqualified Cinderella, is my third choice. Kentucky, which last reigned in 1998, is my second choice. I'll be rooting for VCU. Because the glass slipper fits. Take a dip in our poll. This isn't who your cold money thinks will win. This is who you want to win (and why).

HEAT'S LOSE AT CADAVALIERS: Amusing last night to watch Clevelanders celebrating like it was Game 7 of The Finals. Another dip in the topsy turvy season, this loss to awful Cleveland. You measure Miami's Big 3 Experiment in the playoffs, the ones coming up soon and in the years beyond. That hasn't changed. But a reminder had come just Sunday that Pat Riley's coup already has been a huge success. LeBron James (33 points, 10 rebounds), Chris Bosh (31-12) and Dwyane Wade (30-11) became only the second set of three teammates -- and first since 1961 -- to top 30-10 in the same regulation game. Bosh's assertion on the offensive end makes me think more and more that Miami has a real shot at the title this season. Last night's aberration didn't change that thinking. Well, much. 

MARLINS COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY 'TIL OPENING NIGHT: Friday night begins the 19th season and last in the old stadium, versus Bernie Madoff's Mets. Look for our big preseason poll in a new, separate blogpost later this week.

ADVERTISING FROM HELL: A TV ad for the new movie, Your Highness, mentions -- as if it were a good thing -- "...from the director who brought you Pineapple Express!" Which is sort of like introducing a new music act "...from the producer who brought you Milli Vanilli!"

JET EDGES DOLPHIN IN MADDEN VOTE: Jets QB Mark Sanchez advances over Dolphins tackle Jake Long by 55 to 45 percent in the first-round of bracket-style voting on ESPN.com to pick the cover of EA Sports' Madden NFL '12 video game. It was surprisingly (to me) the closest of 16 first-round matchups. It also was a statement about Miami's lack of starpower that an offensive lineman would be the club's rep.

1aa1josec JOSE CAN YOU SEE YOU'RE A MORON?: Jose Canseco, the former 'roid-boy baseball slugger from Miami, continues to embarrass himself at every turn. His latest stunt: To appear on a "celebrity boxing" card Saturday at Hard Rock Live, an indictment of both the promoter's inability to book real celebrities and Jose's amazing knack for making career choices as if guided by Charlie Sheen. So what's worse than celebrity boxing? No, it isn't being on the new season of Celebrity Apprentice. It's failing to show up for Saturday's boxing sham and trying to get away with sending your twin brother Ozzie in your place. One of life's small wonders, by the way, is why Ozzie has not yet tried to distance himself from his odd bro with massive plastic surgery.

Click back. Adding more stuff to this latest blogpost later. Seriously...

March 24, 2011

Virginia Commonwealth, Kentucky join Butler, UConn in Final Four; plus Marlins' betting odds, Heat playoff theme, tennis & more

[Twitter.com/gregcote. Because it's free].

1aa1gators2VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH? WELL, YEAH!: Play-in qualifier Virginia Commonwealth today becomes only the third No. 11 seed ever to reach the Final Four after stunning No. 1 Kansas. In today's Sunday notes column I made fun of lucky Kansas' easy path. Oops. Also today, 4-Kentucky in a small upset over -North Carolina. Friday's Final Four qualifiers were No. 8 seed Butler (upsetting No. 2 Florida in overtime) and 3-Conn (edging 5-Arizona). My bracket? It softly wept with Ohio State's ouster and has been sobbing since. Can't fit Butler with the Cinderella slipper -- not with a second straight FF appearance. But VCU? Yes. 

Friday games: Two routs and two thrillers. No. 2 North Carolina spanks 11-Marquette and No. 1 Kansas -- the only surviving top seed -- literally shoves around 12-Richmond. Closer, much: 4-Kentucky stuns 1-Ohio State on a last-second shot by our Brandon Knight out of Pine Crest, and 11-Virginia Commonwealth eliminates 10-Florida State by one in OT. 

Thursday games: No. 2-seed Florida laid claim that sex beats celibacy (or something like that) in ousting 3-Brigham Young, the program that punishes you for having premarital intercourse, 83-74. Big three-pointer in OT by local kid Kenny Boynton. Big game by BYU's Jimmer Fredette, but ultimately the ridiculously nicknamed Jimmer got dimmered. All three other results Thursday results were seed-upsets: 3-UConn over 2-San Diego State, 5-Arizona stunning 1-Duke, the defending national champ, and 8-Butler ousting 4-Wisconsin.

Through Sunday, entering the Final Four, 20 of 56 played in the men's NCAA Tournament have been upsets based on seeds, or 36 percent, although that includes six negligible "neighbor-seed" upsets such as a 9 beating an 8. (In the women's NCAAs entering entering Monday's Elite Eight games, it's 14 of 56 upsets so far, or 25 percent, including six negligibles).

My question, now moot but still of interest, Can a South Florida UM Hurricanes fan wish well for Florida and FSU in the NCAAs? Can you root for the state teams to represent, or do you feel quite the opposite? Take a dip in our poll and s'plain.

SEASON BETTING ODDS FOR MARLINS AND THEIR PLAYERS: Fresh from Bodog.com, Marlins wins over/under is 82, and they are 40-1 (tied for 19th) to win the World Series. Faves are Phillies at 13-4 and Red Sox at 9-2. The NL East stacks at Phils 1-3, Braves 4-1, Marlins 9-1, Bernie Madoff's Mets 16-1 and Nationals 30-1. Individually, Hanley Ramirez's batting over/unders are .305, 25 homers and 89.5 RBIs, and for Mike Stanton it's 34.5 homers and 92.5 RBIs. Josh Johnson's o/u is 15 wins, and he's tied-third for NL Cy Young pick, after Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum.

MARLINS SHOULD PURSUE RANGERS 3B MICHAEL YOUNG: Marlins are in desperate need of help at third base and in Texas six-time all-star Michael Young is available. Make it work, Florida. P.S., it'll likely never happen because Young makes a lot of money and Marlins are still on the cheap side. But we can dream, can't we? Click on Think Young for today's column by me on this. And in other Marlins news, MIKE STANTON IS A BLEEPIN' MONSTAH! The kid hit two three-run homers yesterday in his first spring game vs. major-league pitching after returning from injury. With good health, Stanton has a chance to be a 40-plus home run guy, Dwyane Wade in cleats in terms of power and the everybody-else-wants-what-we-got factor.

"STAY WHITE, MIAMI!": The Heat on Saturday will reveal the new logo for its 2011 playoff campaign, and it will be a return to "White Hot." (The team also has used black and red themes). "White Hot" reprises the 2006 title-year theme, made most notable at the championship parade celebration as club owner Micky Arison addressed the thousands of fans, many of them African-American. "Stay White Hot, Miami!" is what he meant to tell the crowd. But, um, he accidentally left out the word hot.

1aa1crown HEAT KING-O-METER UPDATE: Latest update on our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking which of Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season. This is after 72 games, through last night's win over Philadelphia: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 4,200.47 King points to 3,733.25 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. However, Wade leads in games led, 38-34, after a season-high 92.10-King-point effort last night. (Regular updates whenever you see the crown symbol pictured).

SONY TENNIS ADVISORY: The Sony Ericcson Open tennis tournament has begun on Key Biscayne, the combined ATP/WTA event ranking as the sport's "fifth major." However, the absence of both Serena and Venus Williams, and therefore the unlikelihood that anyone will wear a garish outfit I can make fun of, lessens the chance we'll deal with the tournament much in this blog. Plus that leaves no top Americans to cheer for outside of Andy Roddick. Too many players with names like Agnieszka Radwanska. Yes I am a jingoist. Sue me. Also, Caroline Wozniacki of wherever-she's-from-it-ain't-here (Denmark, actually) has never won a major but ranks No. 1 in the world. Shouldn't that be impossible?  

1aa1ocdolphin IT'S 'OC DOLPHIN' APPRECIATION DAY: Congrats once again to loyal blogite OC Dolphin, a.k.a. Raul Pares, for winning our recent March Madness Haiku Challenge. I invited him to send us a photo, he did, and so our champion is pictured at right. The narrow face and distinguished, salt-and-peppery mane give him a slight resemblance to Heat president Pat Riley unless I am mistaken. Which is always a distinct possibility.

1aa1ej2 1aa1ej WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME WHEN I'M...: Elton John turns 64 today. Happy birthday to one of the most successfully enduring figures in entertainment history, and a personal hero of mine for both his music and humanitarianism.

Check back. Be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost...

THE LIST: SPORTS' BIGGEST TWITTER STARS: The top 10 sports figures on Twitter based on current number of followers in millions:

1. Shaquille O'Neal   3.63   Basketball

2. Kaka   3.15   International soccer

3. Lance Armstrong   2.77   Cycling

4. NBA   2.36   League

5. Tony Hawk   2.33   Skateboarding

6. NFL   1.98   League

7. Serena Williams   1.92   Tennis

8. Dwight Howard   1.90   Basketball

9. Chad Ochocinco   1.84   Football

10. Paul Pierce   1.75   Basketball

Note: The Heat's LeBron James (1.58) ranks 11th.

March 21, 2011

Sweet! Gators, Duke top Thursday schedule as the real Madness starts (with poll); plus UM women and men, Chad Henne's Bahamian adventure & more

1aa1lizt [Note: Live chat returns next Wednesday. Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. Results of our March Madness Haiku Challenge may be found in post directly below this in blog. And R.I.P., Elizabeth Taylor, true Hollywood legend].

1aa1ncaa PRETENDERS GONE. NOW LET THE REAL NCAA TOURNAMENT BEGIN!: I wait for the wheat to separate from the chaff -- not exactly sure what chaff is, but it's bad -- before fully tuning into the men's NCAA Tournament. That would be now, at the Sweet 16, with the bloated original field of 68 down to four regional quarterfinalists.

TONIGHT: 3-UConn vs. 2-San Diego State; 2-Florida vs. 3-Brigham Young; 1-Duke vs. 5-Arizona; and 4-Wisconsin vs. 8-Butler. 

My bracket has 10 teams still alive. I'm not bragging. I am in second place of 28 in my pool with 55 points, and with Ohio State oiver Kansas in my final. OK I guess I am bragging.

Three No. 1 seeds (Ohio State, Duke, Kansas) survive, while one No. 1 (Pitt) already is out. Survivors also include BYU, which pleases me because I was looking 1aa1mormon2 for an excuse to use the T-shirt photo pictured. Of statewide interest, second-seeded Florida and 10th-seeded Florida State are among Sweet 16'ers. Joining the Seminoles as surviving double-digit seeds are Marquette (11), Virginia Commonwealth (11) and Richmond (12). VCU, the only surviving play-in winner, feels like the Cinderella.

Which brings us to upsets. Rule 1: "Almost" doesn't count. "Ooh Michigan almost beat Duke Sunday!" Well, they didn't. OK? They didn't. Rule 2: Upsets by direct-neighbor seeds (like a 9 beating an 8 or a 5 beating a 4, et cetera) are such negligible upsets they barely count.

On the men's side, with the Sweet 16 now set, 12 of the 48 games played so far -- not counting the four play-in games between even-seeded teams -- have been upsets, based on seedings. That's 25 percent. But that includes two neglibles, a 9 beating 8 and a 5 over 4. Biggest legit-stunners so far, based on seeding differential: 13-Morehead State beating 4-Louisville, 11-VCU beating 3-Purdue, 11-Marquette beating 3-Syracuse, 10-FSU eliminating 2-Notre Dame, 12-Richmond ousting 5-Vanderbilt and 8-Butler shocking 1-Pitt.  

In the women's tournament, with the Sweet 16 now set, 13 of 48 games played so far have been upsets based on seedings. That's 27 percent. But that includes three neglible 9-over-8 results and three 5-over-4s. Biggest upsets so far based on seed differential: 11-Gonzaga over 3-UCLA, 11-Gonzaga over 6-Iowa, and 7-Louisville over 2-Xavier.

I'd give you the NIT upset stats, but I really don't care about the NIT. It's March Mildness. It's where wallflowers not invited to the BIg Dance pretend to be having a good time drinking fruit punch. And I'm screaming the next time I hear a coach in the NIT speak about having a chance to play for a championship. (I'm talkin' to you, Frank Haith). UM had a decent run, winning twice to reach the quarterfinals before losing last night to Alabama).

Poll time! You must place your life savings, right now, on one and only one regional to produce the national champion. Where's your money going and why?

1aa1shenisej HURRICANES WOMEN FALL SHORT TO END GREAT SEASON: I was up in Charlottesville, Va., with the UM women, who on Sunday won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 1993, but Tuesday night fell to Oklahoma to fall short of the Sweet 16. Pictured is ACC Player of the Year Shenise Johnson, who had a terrific two games. Click on Magic Team for my column off Sunday's win, on Feeling the Joy for the column in advance of game 2, and on Dream Deferred for the column off last night's loss.

1aa1chadh CHAD HENNE: PARTYING BOOB: TMZ Sports reveals that Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, apparently unbothered by either the NFL lockout or his shaky job status, spent some recent time drinking and partying in Nassau. Nothing wrong with that. He's grown. But he's also showing some pretty shaky judgement, in this age of everything-you-do-gets-known-and-shown, by putting two blown-up balloons under his shirt, as pictured. What a boob, indeed! I would say this: The beleaguered Dolphins franchise gets nationally embarrassed enough on its own, by its own management, without added help from the starting QB.

DANCING WITH THE HEAT: Click here for a YouTube video from the Heat's annual weekend Family Festival. The highlight, for me: Starting late in the video, club president Pat Riley is shown dancing on stage in the background, looking every bit as white as me at a wedding reception. I think there might even be a little Rat Pack-esque finger-snapping in there! And click here for LeBron James' on The Ellen Show, including a little aerobicize. Wooooo!

LAWRENCE TAYLOR GOLFING!: The notorious L.T., newly sentenced to six years' probation in the mater of his having sex with an underage girl, was an honored invitee at a recent Dolphins golf tournament benefitting Nat Moore's foundation. Hmm. Dear golf tournaments: I know Taylor is a "name." And the guy does love him some golf. But if Tatylor hasn't become persona non grata at your event, your event maybe needs to rethink the term.   

MARLINS MISS ON CASTILLO: I see the Phillies signed the released Met Luis Castillo. I think he would have provided solid utility insurance for the Marlins at the right price. Would have been nice for him to end his career back in Florida, too. If you combine tenure and accomplishment, Castillo -- not Jeff Conine, not Mike Lowell -- is probably this franchise's Mr. Marlin.

DOG FOOD NEWS: Kibble & Bits has come out with a new line of canine chow called "Bistro Meals." Seriously. Yeah because when it comes to food, dogs are such a selective, discerning breed!

Click back. Will be adding more stuff, of a non-college basketball variety, to this new blogpost later...

THE LIST: UM WOMEN IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: This marks Miami's seventh appearance in the women's NCAAs. The history:

Year   Results

1989   Lost-Oklahoma State

1992   Won-North Carolina, Lost-Vanderbilt

1993   Won-St. Peter's, Lost-Western Kentucky

1998   Lost-Clemson

2003   Lost-New Mexico

2004   Lost-Maryland

2011   Won-Gardner Webb, vs. Oklahoma Tuesday

Note: UM women also have made five NIT appearances, in 1990, 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2010.

March 14, 2011

OC Dolphin wins March Madness Haiku Challenge!; plus my St. Patrick's Day video, Heat, Canes, Dolphins, porn-meets-pageant & more

[Hi. I'm Greg Cote, the only person on Earth, evidently, who really doesn't give a flying crap about the Fab Five. Click on Twitter to join us there, and on Chat to post questions any time for our Wednesday 1-2 p.m. live online chats.]

OC DOLPHIN WINS 6TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!: Congratulations to long time blog-community leader OC Dolphin for recording his first career victory in our sixth annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. He slayed the field with this simple, neat, gently political winning entry:

"The world is crumbling

Barack's ratings are tumbling

Still has time for picks"

OC, email me at [email protected] and when I match the IP address to your winning entry we'll figure out a prize to send you. Also, if you email me a photo of yourself I'll post it here. Find all our 2011 entries in the blogpost directly below this one. And thanks to all who played along! (Liked a couple of r.duke's haikus, especially the one referencing Precious, but, um, this is a family blog. Sort of).

Previous March Madness Haiku Challenge champions:

2010--I am Kazaam with: "There is no Cinderella / Only step-mothers / Somewhere, Wofford weeps." 2009--r.duke with: "Basketball baby! / Vitale gets priapism / this time every year." 2008--Tococane with: "The Padawan Haith / Will Do Battle With Darth Barnes / The Force Will Prevail." 2007 (tie)--Bruce with: "Slighted Syracuse / Sadness Surrounds Snow City / Orange Turned to blue" and David Tucker with: "The Five Gator Boys / Only Forty Minutes Left / History Awaits." 2006--Kurt from Boca with: "Stay Home and Watch Games / Or Check Scores from the Office / Forget Champ by June."

1aa1haikudick 1aa1haikujap MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE: ENTER NOW! This is the official entry point for our blog's sixth annual March Madness Haiku Challenge, a contest that endures despite a typically tepid response rooted in most Americans' general innate fear of Japanese short-form poetry. Meaning your odds aren't bad should you dare to delve. This year, you may enter as a way of honoring Japan and its tsunami victims, because nothing says "I sympathize" quite like a haiku referencing Dick Vitale. Contest rules? Simple:

1. Haikus must at least tangentially be about the NCAA Tournament (men's and/or women's) and must be in haiku form, or precisely 17 syllables. Classic 5-7-5 metrical phrasing is preferred but not required, and rhyme-or-no-rhyme is your choice, but only entries of 17 syllables will be considered.

2. Enter as many times as you like in the Comments section here, but only ONE entry per comment, please! Haikus must be entered as a comment in this blogpost to be considered. In the case of similar haikus, favored status goes to first posted.

There will be a prize to be announced for the best, most original or inventive haiku. Not sure what yet. One year it was a 264-page Official NCAA Men's Final Four Records Book.

Tip: Haikus specific to this season and this tournament preferred. Bonus tip: "Krzyzewski" is three syllables. Now. Ready ... set ... haiku!

1aa1stpatricksday HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!: Hey here's our latest holiday video just for you! This one is Heat-themed. That's me in the middle with the hat, then left to right, it's LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Pat O'Riley. Notice Pat is the only one not smiling. Uh Oh. Click HERE to enjoy the video.

WEALTHY NORMAN BRAMAN SPENDS $1 MILLION FOR SUCCESSFUL RECALL ELECTION TO EXACT REVENGE BECAUSE HE'S STILL SORE HE FAILED IN HIS PROTRACTED EFFORTS TO STOP THE NEW MARLINS STADIUM: Well, I guess that headline about says it all. (And in other political news, lucky Michelle Spence-Jones evidently has more lives than a cat).

1aa1crown HEAT KING-O-METER UPDATE: [Lousy Heat result vs Oklahoma City last night, but what a spin-dunk move by Dwyane Wade. Lordie!] New update on our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking which of Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season. This is after 68 games, through last night's loss to OK City: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 3,951.07 King points to 3,489.66 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. However, Wade leads in games led, 35-33. (Regular updates whenever you see the crown symbol pictured).

ON YAZ, NFL LOCKOUT: Longtime or careful readers may know Carl Yastrzemski was a boyhood idol who still holds a place in my sentimental heart. Well, if Yaz matters to you too click on Lion In Winter for a wonderful new Dan Shaughnessy (Boston Globe) column on the man who gives few interviews. Also recommended: This column by Sally Jenkins (Washington Post), a particularly astute take on the NFL lockout.

CANES MEN WIN N.I.T. OPENER: The NIT means different things to different schools. For small or downtrodden programs it can mean celebration, a big step in the right direction. For major teams it can be, well, sort of a humbling consolation. Somewhere in between: the UM men coached by Frank Haith to a 19-14 mark. I'm never quite sure whether this is a small program that should be pleased by the NIT invite, or a big program that should be disappointed by anything but the NCAA Tournament. I do now that -- based on the many narrow losses this season, including in the quarterfinals of the ACC tourney -- Miami is not far from playing with the big boys. If only close counted. UM won its N.I.T opener over FAU. Which is fine. I just wish coaches in the "other" tournament (including Haith) would stop talking about the opportunity to play for a championship. The NCAAs decide the one that matters. 

DOLPHINS' OPEN LETTER TO FANS OVER LABOR STRIFE: Click here to read the "open letter" to fans from Mike Dee, the club's business-side CEO. The concept of the letter has been further devalued, not only by the say-nothingness contained, but by the idea something posted online now qualifies, apparently, as a letter. (By the way, I purposely have written/blogged little about the NFL work stoppage, because both sides are greedy, because the topic is boring, and because at this point the likelihood of any games being actually canceled is roughly equal to the probability of Charlie Sheen being named parent of the year).

1aa1carolines PAGEANT SCREWS LOCAL CONTESTANT. WAIT LET ME REPHRASE THAT: Hollywood resident Caroline Schwitzky (sometimes called Carolina), pictured, a former Miss Weston, was denied entry into the Miss Florida beauty pageant because her titles -- not counting the Miss Weston crown she was made to relinquish in scandal -- also include Miss Exxxotica 2008. People are outraged on her behalf! OK, well, most people aren't. But Charlie Sheen is.

NEW DEFINITION OF "All-ROUND WOMAN": The above item reminds me that somebody just told me porn star Asia Carerra is a member of Mensa and once played piano at Carnegie Hall.

1aa1golf "DEAR GREG...": Your blog's OK, but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture from the recent Reid & Fiorentino (Heat broadcasters) golf tournament. And make it a photo in which four delighted men who look as if they've never seen a putt before prepare to burst into ecstatic cheers as O.J. McDuffie rolls one toward the cup. Thank you."

BOOK CLUB: Answer: I am currently half way through, and thoroughly enjoying, Peter Straub's "A Dark Matter." Question: Who gives a crap what book you're reading?

SPELLYNG BEA: An all-time great "Setrec" (correction) appeared in the March 10 Miami Herald. In it, the newspaper corrected having misspelled a key word in its coverage of The Miami Herald Spelling Bee. I couldn't make that up, because this is a blog.

THE LIST: MARCH MADNESS UPSETS: First-round results since the current format (basically) took effect in 1985:

Seed Pairings     Higher Seed's Record

#1 vs. #16   104-0 (100%)

#2 vs. #15   100-4 (96.2)

#3 vs. #14   88-16 (84.6)

#4 vs. #13   82-22 (78.9)

#5 vs. #12   69-35 (66.4)

#6 vs. #11   71-33 (68.3)

#7 vs. #10   62-42 (59.6)

#8 vs. #9   48-56 (46.2)

Click back. Adding more stuff to this latest blogpost later...

March 10, 2011

Judge Heat in playoffs, not now; plus rooting for Tiger Woods (with poll), Tiki Barber and Dolphins & more

[Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. Hey sorry we missed our online chat Wednesday. Thought I'd be back in time from interviewing Tiger Woods but was not].

IT'S STILL EARLY TO PORTRAY HEAT AT CROSSROADS, IN CROSSHAIRS: Kobe and his smokin'-hot Lakers in town to face a Heat squad that has dissolved to five straight losses. Time for what we haven't seen or heard much of: moderation. Even a sixth straight loss won't mean the sky is falling. Neither will a win mean everything is great again. I'm glad that Chris Bosh is barking for a bigger offensive role because that could be one of the ways out. The bottom line is, judge this team by how it does in the playoffs. I thought that at 9-8. I think that now. Too many in the media are knee-jerking. Handy example: Jason Whitlock of Foxsports.com writes that Erik Spoelstra should be fired, right now, and replaced by old Larry Brown. Whitlock concludes his column with, "The Big 3 will outlive Erik Spoelstra, but not by much." So let me get this straight. What the Heat has built should be stamped a failure and exploded and Season 1 isn't even to the playoffs yet? Breathe deeply, please. Exhale slowly. Repeat. The playoffs are when everything about this team -- coaching, players and plan -- should be judged. Not now. Not even if the Lakers walk out of here happy and it's the Heat and their fans who feel like crying.

1aa1tigerw TIGER BRINGS HIS COMEBACK TOUR TO DORAL: Tiger Woods' latest attempt to revive his game (as well as mend his name) comes in this week's WGC event at Doral's Blue Monster. In my latest column, online and in Thursday's pulp edition, I explore the similarities in Woods' struggles and the Heat's, and Tiger's image-hit to LeBron's. Click on Tiger Feels The Heat to read. I also suggest fans are ready to embrace Woods again and cheer his comeback -- although you'll tell me, in the poll below, how right or wrong I am about that.

KIPER'S LATEST MOCK: INGRAM TO MIAMI, HANK TO PATS: Mel Kiper's latest NFL mock draft for ESPN sticks with Alabama RB Mark Ingram going 15th overall to the Dolphins, and it's hard to disagree. Other notables: 1st--Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert to Carolina; 4th--Auburn QB Cam Newton to Cincy; 19th--Florida G/C Mike Pouncey to Giants; 25th--Washington QB Jake Locker to Seattle; and 28th--Canes WR Leonard Hankerson to New England.

1aa1barbert BETTING ODDS SAY TIKI NOT OUT OF QUESTION FOR DOLPHINS: Hey I don't make this s--- up, folks. Bodog.com has Miami a reasonable 15-2 longshot to sign unretired RB Tiki Barber. The only teams seen as more likely are Bucs 2-1, Broncos 5-2, Saints 3-1 and Redskins 5-1. I'm doubting Tiki here but if it did happen it could affect that NO. 15 first-round pick, of course. 

1aa1pyramid BRIEF VACATION NEWS: You get a short break from me. Wife and I are meeting another couple in San Antonio for a long weekend. It's OK, though. My 23- and 19-year-old sons are watching the house so I'm not worried. Wait. I think that's why I am worried. Last time I did this I came home to find vague indications of mass partying, such as a mountain of spent cardboard beer boxes about the size of one of the Great Pyramids. I'll be back writing and blogging on Monday.

March 07, 2011

A crying shame! Heat lose 5th straight (with polls); plus Ochocinco casts for Dolphins, Charlie Sheen, alien life & more

[Celebrate Fat Tuesday by following a fat guy on Twitter. Twitter.com/gregcote].

1aa1heatbad2 1aa1heatbad1 A CRYING SHAME: THE UNRAVELING HEAT:   [Update: Heat lose at home tonight to Portland for Miami's fifth straight loss and sixth in seven games]. Coach Erik Spoelstra was wrong to make what's private public and tell the world some of his players were crying Sunday after the team's fourth straight loss and fifth in six games. Amazing how CryGate has taken off as a national story. I was on ESPN's Outside The Lines, on The Sporting News national radio and on with Tony Kornheiser just in the past 24 hours, talking about it. That the star-studded Heat are crying makes it that much easier for all but Miami fans to laugh. This is not a team built to inspire sympathy (let alone patience). But the crying matter, of course, is peripheral to the point, which is that stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been chokers more than clutch when needed most lately. And that Chris Bosh (one shot in the fourth quarter Sunday) is too acquiescent to the Big 2. And that the center position continues as a huge weakness even as the point guard spot has improved. And that the bench is weak. And that Mike Miller (one point in 31 minutes) continues as an erratic disappointment. And that Miami sorely needs Udonis Haslem back on the floor as much for the emotional lift as the rebounds. Suddenly, Miami slipping to a No. 4 playoff seed seems possible as championship hopes run away. What to do, what to do? I present two Heat polls here. the first is on who should have the ball in the closing seconds. It's been LeBron, but that ain't workin'. I think Miami should give the team and the ball back to D-Wade, who obviously wants it. The second poll is on the coach. It is admittedly most likely a moot question because I honestly don't think Pat Riley wants to coach again, or will. But it's still an interesting discussion point.

CHAD OCHOCINCO CASTS FOR DOLPHINS: Perpetually dissatisfied Chad Ochocinco-or-is-he-Chad Johnson-again is lobbying for a trade out of Cincinnati and putting out feelers to get back to his hometown of Miami. "The Dolphins have always been my team since I've grown up," he recently noted. Stop it! Just stop it. Please? Chad is 33 now, and Miami already fulfills the diva-receiva quotient with Brandon Marshall. If the Dolphins are thinking trade with Cincy, QB Carson Palmer is the guy they should try to pry loose, although Miami's lack of a second-round draft pick would hinder that possibility even if there were interest.

1aa1bradypony TOM BRADY COIF UPDATE: The pretty-boy Patriots QB was recently spotted sporting a mini-ponytail (see right). Trend? I'm not sayin', Chad Henne. Something to think about, though!

PANTHERS TALK!: I have a new column online and in Tuesday's pulp edition on the Florida Panthers and the task facing GM Dale Tallon. Why? Because sometimes the intrepid columnist must delve into topics he knows won't generate a slew of online hits. Somehow, inexplicably, it made today's top-10 columns list on USSportsPages.com.

LOCALS ON COLLEGE HALL BALLOT: College Football Hall of Fame's new list of 79 2011 nominees includes six locally tied guys. First-time balloteers are former Dolphins and UM coach Jimmy Johnson, the late South Miami High LB Derrick Thomas, and ex-RB Lorenoz White of Dillard High. Back for another shot are ex-Cane DT Russell Maryland, vintage Dolphins safety Jake Scott, and briefly ex-Dolphins RB Bobby Humphrey.

1aa1charlies CHARLIE SHEEN STILL WINNING, TALKING: Yeah on Saturday the defrocked Two And A Half Men star debuted an online show of sorts on Ustream. Click on Giving Winning A Bad Name for details and the video. Warning: It's 13 minutes of your life you'll never get back. Charlie moves closer and closer to the homeless man wearing a cardboard shirt ambling down a busy street ranting to himself with arms flailing. Except people aren't taking Charlie as seriously.

SPEAKING OF PATHETIC...: I happened across the season debut of Celebrity Apprentice last night and noticed Jose Canseco among the participants. The hope here is that Donald Trump will pay Jose to go away and never appear publicly again. 

TV'S GREATEST WOMEN: TVSquad.com names its "100 Most Memorable Female TV Characters" and the top of the list is 10. Edith Bunker; 9. Clair Huxtable; 8. Veronica Mars; 7. Carmela Soprano; 6. Buffy Summers; 5. Elaine Benes; 4. Peggy Olson; 3. Lucy Ricardo; 2. Laura Roslin; 1. Mary Richards. Quick thoughts: Have never watched 8 or 6. Have never heard of 2. I appreciate Mad Men but think 4 is way over-ranked. And Lucy should-a beat Mary. Finally, I find it interesting that all 10 of these women have one thing in common: They all agree Charlie Sheen is sad.

ANAGRAM DU JOUR: Charlie Sheen = Hearse Lech In.

AND IN OTHER NEWS, NASA SCIENTISTS FIND EVIDENCE OF ALIEN LIFE: Click here. I dunno. I'd have thought this might have been bigger news.

1aa1caution 1aa1fattues Click back. Adding more stuff to this latest post later...

March 03, 2011

Panic! Heat blow another one, lose 4th straight; plus odds on Dolphins/UM title hopes, Serena, BYU, Ronald McDonald, sad ashtrays & more


1aa1eriksHEAT'S WORST STRETCH OF SEASON CONTINUES: Miami lost its fourth straight game today/Sunday, at home, to Chicago, squandering a 12-point lead and losing by one. That was on the heel of the blown 24-point lead vs. Orlando and then the 30-point road loss to San Antonio. Miami had two go-ahead shots in the final 10 seconds, by the shooters they wanted, but LeBron James missed a layup in traffic and then Dwyane Wade missed a buzzer-beating endline jumper. This is bad. The Heat's inability both to hold leads and to close games has become an issue, especially when one fathoms that Miami has two of the best closers in the league in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. You know how James and Wade are supposed to be able to "take over a game" when needed? Not lately. No answers instead. Now Miami has lost four of its past five (three straight at home), and is 12-18 vs. teams with winning records. Oy. This stretch brings out all the big questions, such as who should have the ball at the end of games. This kind of stretch also feeds those who dream that Pat Riley might still swoop in and snatch the whistle from Erik Spoelstra. If the Heat is a championship team, the proving needs to start. Because the doubts certainly have, and they're growing.

U-PICK-A-POLL: What's the next good poll for the blog? You decide. Email your suggestions to [email protected] and whichever one I receive today/Saturday and like the best will appear here this weekend.

1aa1longshot ODDS ON DOLPHINS AND UM TITLE SHOTS: Sit down, Dolfans and Canes fans. Brace yourselves. Our buddy Danny Sheridan, the great handicapper whose work appears in USA Today, tells us the Dolphins are right now 100-1 longshots to win the coming Super Bowl (presuming there is a season) -- and that Miami's Hurricanes are the same 100-1 to win the BCS title. Danny also says it is "better than 50-50" right now that the NFL regular season will be shorter than 16 games stemming from the ongoing labor strife and pending lockout.   

SERENA WILLIAMS, JIM MORRIS AND REAL LIFE: I poke fun at tennis star Serena Williams plenty, but was concerned to hear she had suffered a pulmonary embolism in her lung that required emergency surgery, and I wish her well. She'll miss the upcoming Key Biscayne tournament, a major blow to the event. Best wishes likewise go to UM baseball coach Jim Morris as he recovers from complications following gall-bladder surgery. He already has missed several games and will miss this weekend's big series at Florida. We don't associate our sports figures with everyday health scares. It isn't a bad thing to be reminded they bleed like the rest of us.

1aa1brandond CHASTE BYU PARTIES LIKE IT'S 1899: No. 3-ranked Brigham Young's March Madness Final Four hopes endure a huge blow with the sudden dismissal from the team of 6-9 leading rebounder Brandon Davies (pictured). Was he arrested? Involved in a cheating scandal? Caught with drugs? Nah. He had sex with his girlfriend ... premarital sex! Oh my. That's against the Mormon honor code at BYU, so goodbye, Brandon. Gee, what century is this? And organized religion wonders why church attendance dwindles. I'm not arguing the dismissal; rules are rules and Davies knew them. I'm arguing the puritanical code. Can you imagine if it applied to every college? The only teams left with enough players to field a team would be BYU and a pickup squad from the Vatican.

1aa1boshgiraffe 1aa1crown HEAT KING-O-METER UPDATE: Latest update on our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking which of Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season. This is after 61 games through last night's meltdown vs. Orlando: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 3,558.34 King points to 3,212.66 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. However Wade leads in games led, 31-30. (Regular updates here in the blog whenever you see the crown symbol pictured). Heat Bonus: A photo of Chris Bosh posing with a baby giraffe named Mainard in a new Got Milk? ad.

TOMMY BOOHAMA: Tommy Bahama, the overpriced "tropical lifestyle" clothing line, has announced limited-edition shirts featuring seven MLB teams -- Astros, Giants, Mets, Padres, Rays, Twins and White Sox -- plus a Brooklyn Dodgers throwback. Geez, did they draw those teams out of a hat? Twins? Dear Tommy: The most tropically located team in baseball plays in South Florida, where Jimmy Buffett grew a natural brand of the lifestyle and look you ripped off. You could look it up. [Speaking of Marlins, just saw some over/unders on wins for NL East. It's Phillies 97.5, Braves 87.5, Marlins 82.5, Mets 77.5 and Nats 72.5].

1aa1ronald5 1aa1ronald4 RONALD McDONALD DEAD AT 48: Well, no he isn't but he might as well be. After nearly a half-century as McDonald's advertising mascot, the creepy clown's descent continues as the company's remaking of its image leaves Ronald behind. McDonald's re-branding moves from an emphasis on Big Macs and high-fat foods to an upscale emphasis on salads and designer coffees ... and guess who's the odd man out? Has it been difficult? Judge for yourself. Photos don't lie. The downward spiral has been tough for Ronald, now drinking, womanizing and drug-addled -- the Charlie Sheen of fast-food icons.

1aa1carsmoke SAD STATE OF THE CAR ASHTRAY: Is there a more pointless accoutrement in the motor vehicle? They sit pristinely unused, lonely and privately mocked by other members of the molded-plastic kingdom. This is because cigarette smokers, modern lepers, are a diminishing breed, and not nearly enough cigars and joints are being puffed in transit to make up the slack. (While the rarest breed, pipe smokers, imperially haul ashes in their own compact bowl). And I have noticed that most people who do smoke in their cars seem likely to simply extend arm out open window and rudely litter the roadway with their spent ashes. You know who you are, asses. Use your asstray!

1aa1hello Click back. Might be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost...

March 01, 2011

Heat gets huge upgrade in Bibby (with poll); plus Herald on Henne/Hocutt, Dolphins lose Shockey, cheering in the press box & more

[Big response today on the live chat. Thanks. Do it each Wednesday, 1-2 p.m. Click anywhere on this paragraph to join us live or to post questions any time. No topic off-limits except Christian Bale's homeless-man Oscar beard].

1aa1bibby HERE'S THE POINT: HEAT BETTER WITH BIBBY: [Wednesday update: Heat has confirmed the Bibby signing. He will  wear uniform number 0. Pat Riley couched the signing in terms of the team continuing to move "into the direction of our championship dreams."] Original post: LeBron James today spoke of Mike Bibby (pictured) as if he's already on the team, saying he'll be a tremendous help, and that's a good enough source for me. Bibby will be a clear upgrade over Mario Chalmers in both talent and experience, and Miami is smart to get him. Available journeyman power forward Troy Murphy also would have served a use, if only as a stopgap until Udonis Haslem's return, but he chose Boston instead. Bibby is the bigger catch, a no-brainer. The Heat still has a legitimate championship chance, but the team's 12-15 record against teams with winning records underlines that improvement was needed. Bibby brings that. Click on Heat Admits It Needs Help for my new column, online now and shipping to Wednesday's paper. Your concurrence or dissent are welcome. Take a dip in our poll.

DOLPHINS LOSE OUT ON SHOCKEY: Free-agent tight end Jeremy Shockey -- the ex-cane who wanted dearly to sign with the Dolphins -- is saying this afternoon he is signing with Carolina. Whether Miami showed no interest or was outbid, this is a big missed chance for the Dolphins at a position of need.

MAKING HENNE AND HOCUTT SQUIRM: My newspaper's pulp edition has two interesting pieces today: A news story on Dolphin QB Chad Henne's early dealings with his new offensive coordinator, and a column on the departure of UM athletic director Kirby Hocutt. They are interesting mainly because they might leave some readers wondering if the subjects were treated fairly. Let's discuss.

1aa1hennegolf Henne's meetings with Brian Daboll vs. NFL rules: The QB casually mentioned to reporters, at a golf tournament, "I've been meeting with [Daboll] for the last month now." Oops. One of the offseason rules is that before March 15 players can use team facilities but not meet with coaches. Cote sez: It isn't the media's job to "protect" local players or teams. This was worth reporting. However, I thought it significant that this story was displayed on page 2D and that the headline ('Henne optimistic about new offense') clearly downplayed the rules-violation aspect. Why? Because this isn't a very big deal. If it were it would have been a front-page story with a hard-hitting headline. Whether the league fines or penalizes the Dolphins over this will say a lot. I would not expect any penalty.

1aa1hocuttad Le Batard says Hocutt put himself over UM in coach-search: The column implies Kirby Hocutt knew while searching for Randy Shannon's replacement he coveted the Texas Tech AD job and therefore steered clear of interviewing Mike Leach or Tommy Tuberville. The premise: That would have been unpopular at Tech and hindered Hocutt's chances to be hired there, with Tuberville the current Tech coach and Leach an ex-coach suing the school. Cote sez: Le Batard has the right in an opinion column to raise the question, but it presumes Tuberville and Leach were obvious candidates who should have been interviewed and the fact they weren't smells funny. That isn't an easy sell. Tuberville is an ex-UM assistant coming off an 8-5 season and Miami (after Shannon) wanted a clean break from recycling a guy who'd been here. Leach is controversial; it wasn't at all surprising image- and brand-minded UM steered clear. Le Batard wrote a good, thought-provoking column, but the reader must judge if it answered whether Hocutt cheated UM on his own behalf.

ON CHEERING IN THE PRESS BOX: Tom Bowles, a freelance NASCAR correspondent for SI.com, says he was fired because he was among journalists who openly cheered as 20-year-old Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500. I was there. I heard the cheers. I did not add my voice or applause, yet I understood it. I did not feel then, or think now, that it was worthy of condemnation, or firing. What I heard, to me, was a bunch of human beings responding emotionally and without premeditation to a fantastic finish that made for a great, almost unbelievable story. That's all. It's always weird to me that I am allowed to applaud a good story in print, in effect, but not audibly. At the same time I understand the sports writer mandate against "cheering in the press box." It is justified. We are paid, neutral observers, not fans. The mandate is particularly needed in team-sport press boxes. How ludicrous would it be if Jets writers cheered a Mark Sanchez TD pass and soon afterward Dolphins writers roared with delight when Sanchez was picked off? Can't have that. Period. There are always small times, though, when I think it's OK for a journalist to let his heart show. I cannot feel I have violated some sacred law if an emotional rendition of the national anthem moves me to applaud the singer, for example. I felt a lot of things, but shame not one of them, when I joined the applause for Dan Marino after his retirement press conference. Yes, I see that NASCAR writers spontaneously applauding the finish of the Daytona 500 might have been unprofessional, but in the most heartfelt, forgivable way.

1aa1damienw JASON TAYLOR, DAMIEN WOODY & DOLPHINS: The stinkin' Jets are purging veterans to cut salary as the NFL lockout looms, and the interesting available names are Jason Taylor and Damien Woody. Might the Dolphins re-sign JT? It would be a sentimental nod, but a shock, too. Won't happen. The best hope is they ceremonially re-sign him for a day and let him retire a Dolphin as was done with Zach Thomas. Even that is a bit doubtful. More intriguing is the possibility of Woody (pictured). He is 33 but can play center, guard and right tackle, a solid and versatile veteran who could really fill an interior-line need. If he can pass a physical and comes cheap, why not?

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

1aa1breastej DEAR GREG...: "...Your blog is OK but would be better if occasionally you would show controversial and somewhat creepy artwork that depicts Elton John breastfeeding his new surrogate baby. Thank you."