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12 posts from July 2012

July 27, 2012

The Dolphins are back, dammit! Dolfans, vote your expectations (with poll); plus Tannehill/Dolphin QBs (with video), Olympics, Marlins & more

1aa1mememNEWEST VIDEO: ON RYAN TANNEHILL, DOLPHINS QB SITUATION: Click on YouTube/TheGregCote for my latest video, on why the Dolphins need to give Ryan Tannehill the football. Click on Fast-Track The Future for the full column, from Saturday's paper. The video was recorded and the column written before Tannehill signed on Sunday and reported to camp.

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Dear Loyal Readers and Blogger Nation: I'm back from vacation as of this (Sunday) afternoon after being out of the paper and the blog all last week. Watch for a brand new blogpost on Monday morning!]

Poll result: We won't miss you, Hanley: We asked in the previous blogpost how you felt about the Marlins trading Hanley Ramirez (you can still vote), and 47.7 percent said they like he's gone but wish Miami had gotten more in return, 35.8% said good riddance and only 16.5% called it a bad trade. That's more than 83.5% who are glad he's gone.

THE DOLPHINS ARE BACK! THE DOLPHINS ARE BACK!: Forget all this Heat championship stuff. Enough 1aa1dolphins12with these Marlins trades. THE MIAMI FREAKIN' DOLPHINS ARE BACK, DAMMIT! South Florida's dethroned big dogs have reentered the picture, as presason training camp opens, to try to win back your hearts. You up for it? You excited? Big season ahead? Ryan Tannehill the elusive Next Marino? Chad Johnson better than Chad Ochocinco? Joe Philbin poster on your bedroom wall? C'MON LET'S GET EXCITED ALREADY! FOR THE LOVE OF SHULA IT'S THE MOTHER-LOVIN' DOLPHINS!! OK enough with the all-caps italics. In all seriousness, I'm interested in how y'all feel about this Dolphins team and this season. Let's get an early pulse-read. The key word in the poll question is realistic. I'm not asking what you hope, I'm asking what you honestly feel, what you'd bet if your money were talking. Mind, not heart. Vote and say why.

OLYMPIC ROOTING INTEREST: UNITED STATES, COTE D'IVOIRE: You may have heard. The Summer 1aa1cotedivoireOlympics are starting. London, I think. Opening Ceremony was Friday night, which assuredly meant the standard overblown extravagance, something artsy-surreal, as if the production is a child of Salvadore Dali and Tim Burton meet Cirque de Soleil. My Olympic preview: No. 1, "U-S-A! U-S-A!" I'm an unabashed jingoist and patriotic guy. I hope LeBron wins gold. I hope Justin Gatlin stuns Usain Bolt. I hope Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have a duel for the ages. I hope Lolo Jones stays a virgin until she inevitably hooks up with Tim Tebow. No. 2, the other country I'll be following is Africa's Cote d'Ivoire (crest at left), because they were kind enough to name themselves after me. The U.S. has 530 athletes competing. Team Cote has 10. I'll have updates.

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

July 25, 2012

Good riddance, Hanley Ramirez! Agree or no? Vote now (with poll); plus a new video from me, Ricky Williams' odd journey turns odder & more

1aa1gregnewNEW VIDEO! THIS IS NOT A FIRE SALE-*   Visit YouTube/TheGregCote for my latest The View From Miami video, on why this week's two Marlins trades were smart (with an asterisk). All six videos I've done so far are posted.

[1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 26. Join us on Twitter @gregcote. 2) Happy for ex-Canes coach Randy Shannon catching on as linebackers coach at Texas Christian. 3) A belated R.I.P. to Sherman Hemsley, whose George character (left) in 'The Jeffersons' could strut a pimp-walk better than anybody not wearing a purple felt hat]

Juicy!: The Dodgers visit Miami for three games August 10-12 and the crowd reaction to Hanley Ramirez will be interesting. Mostly cheers? Mostly boos? Maybe the poll results below will offer a hint. Click on Good Riddance for my newest column, on the departure of Hanley. and on Train Wreck for my previous column, on the Marlins' nightmare season.

MARLINS TRADE HANLEY RAMIREZ (THAT'S GOOD), BUT DON'T GET MUCH FOR HIM (THAT'S BAD): Hanley Ramirez (right) became the Dodgers' problem just past 3 a.m. in the East yesterday when the 1aa1hanlanews began to break that the Marlins had sent to Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate packing for Los Angeles. What's headed out doesn't bother me. Hanley has shown three years of diminishing returns and a continuing attitude issue. He was hitting .246. They tried to build a team around Ramirez but he wasn't up to the role. It was time to move on, as I say in this video on my YouTube channel, filmed early last evening prior to the trade. As for Choate leaving? He was a spot-role mid-relief guy with  an expiring contract. No biggie. The problem with this trade is that, with about six teams reportedly interested in Ramirez, one would think the Marlins could have gotten more in return 1aa1nathanethan what they did: 22-year-old rookie starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (1-6, 4.15 ERA) and 22-year-old minor-league pitcher Scott McGough, both righties. Eovaldi is pictured at left. As with any trade involving prospects, this deal will look much better if either incoming young pitcher turns out great, of course. For now, though, it sort of seems like the Marlins just gave Hanley Ramirez away. L.A. agreed to assume his remaining contract, so it's a salary-dump for Miami. But does it make the team better? L.A. was the only interested team that would pick up Hanley's entire remaining salary, so the presumption is Miami might have gotten more in return from another team but opted for the financial relief instead. Piggybacked onto the earlier trade of pitcher Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante to Detroit for three young prospects, the Marlins definitely are retooling. Fire sale? Not yet, but it could begin to feel like that if, say, Josh Johnson is the next to go. Certain players ike Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes should be off-limits and the club should make that clear to clam fans. Meantime, weigh in on the departure of Hanley Ramirez. Poll open. Votes welcome.

Shame on Showtime: How ridiculously lame and lazy of Showtime's The Franchise to not re-tool last night's episode to center around the Hanley Ramirez trade. They had time. The show could have been fresh and right-now topical; instead, the episode was full of fluff 'n filler: Ozzie Guillen's family, Edwards Mujica's family ... yawn! The only memorable quote for me was owner Jeffrey Loria lamenting of his team, "I don't think these guys have any sense of urgency."

RICKY WILLIAMS KEEPS PUTTING THE 'ODD' IN ODYSSEY: The life story of Ricky Williams gets stranger 1aa1garydouglas 1aa1garydrwmsjust when you thought that impossible. The latest: The retired Dolphin and his Ricky Williams Foundation are now heavily involved (spiritually and also financially) with a controversial organization -- many would say cult -- called Access Consciousness. Williams is a "facilitator" for the group and teaches classes for it. Its founder, Gary Douglas, is on record saying he believes he can heal wounds with his bare hands and read minds among other claims. The Austin (Tex.) Chronicle just did an interesting piece on all this. Click on Ricky's New Chapter for that story, which includes audio of an extensive interview with Williams and Douglas. Williams' ongoing search for enlightenment is admirable on some level, and I won't judge the motives or legitimacy of Douglas beyond suggesting they seem questionable. I wish Ricky and his bank account well on this venture, and hope he has trusted advisers in his life who are doing their job.

Poll result: Penn State punishment about right: We asked in the prior blogpost how you felt about Penn State's punishment over the Jerry Sandusky scandal (you can still vote), and 52.1 percent said it was about right. Another 26.8% called it too harsh and 21.1% too lenient.

Click back. Will be updating/adding much more to this latest blogpost...

July 23, 2012

NCAA hammers Penn State. Fair? Vote! (with poll); plus farewell, Hanley Ramirez? (new video), ACC predix, Aurora & more

1aa1gcnewvidMY NEWEST VIDEO: FAREWELL, HANLEY RAMIREZ?: I have launched a new YouTube channel for daily one-minute commentaries called 'The View From Miami.' My fifth and latest video -- on speculation the Marlins are about to trade Hanley Ramirez -- is newly posted. View that and others at YouTube/TheGregCote.

We're on ESPN Outside the Lines today: I'll be a guest toady at 3 p.m. for a segment on the Penn State penalties.  

[1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 24. Click on Punishment Fits Crime for today's latest column by me, on the NCAA sanctions against Penn State. 2) Go, Molli, go! Am thrilled to report that the neighbor I wrote about a few blogposts ago, Molli Serrano, who overcame pancreatic cancer, did win that Kona Inspired vote and is headed to the Hawaii Ironman triathlon. Thanks to all of you who voted and passed along the link! 3) Reports are the Heat will open next season at home vs. Boston on Oct. 30, and host Oklahoma City Christmas Day. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

PENN STATE FOOTBALL SURVIVES, BUT THE SLEDGEHAMMER COMES DOWN: There had been talk of a 1aa1pssicoverpossible death penalty, which the NCAA has only done once (Southern Methodist, 1987). Instead, Penn State football has survived the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal -- but barely. Announced this/Monday morning: A $60 million fine, a bowl ban for the next four seasons, a total reduction of 80 scholarships over four years, 112 victories from 1998 through 2011 all vacated, plus five years of 1aa1pstateprobation. The erased wins means legendary-turned-shamed former coach Joe Paterno, whose statue came down Sunday in the wake of his implication in years of coverup, sees his career wins cascade from a record 409 to 298. And that's not to mention the damage to the name Penn State that might be indelible. Pictured right: The new Sports Illustrated cover. The penalties are harsh, but fair. But that's me. Do you think Penn State deserved more punishment, perhaps even the death penalty? Or do you feel the sanctions are too harsh or about right? Your vote and thoughts are welcome.

MARLINS WAVE THE WHITE TOWEL WITH SELLERS' TRADE: The disappointing, underperforming Marlins effectively gave up on the 2012 season yesterday by trading starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and starting second baseman Omar Infante to the Tigers in exchange for starting-pitching prospect Jacob Turner, young catcher Rob Brantley and lefty pitcher Brian Flynn, ages 21, 23 and 22, respectively. On the face of this deal it looks like Miami gave up two solid -- if unspectacular -- players for three question marks, three might-bes. Obviously if any of the three turn out to be great this trade will look much better in retrospect. For now, it looks like the Marlins are hitting the refresh button and starting again. Not sure anyone is untouchable except maybe Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes. Speculation has the Red Sox after Josh Johnson, and Hanley Ramirez seems forever in the middle of rumors.

Poll result: No ads on NBA jerseys!: I hope David Stern weighs public sentiment as his league moves forward with plans to add advertising patches to NBA jerseys starting in 2013. I asked in the previous blogpost if you approved of the plan, and only 17.2 percent said yes, compared to 79.2% no and 3.6% undecided. Are you listening, Stern?

CANES PICKED FOR FIFTH PLACE IN ACC DIVISION: Ouch. The media think very little of the Miami football Hurricanes for this season. In voting at the ACC Kickoff event in North Carolina today, UM was picked to finish fifth in the Coastal Division, ahead of only Duke. The top four were Virginia Tech (overwhelmingly), Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia. Florida State was a landslide pick to win the other division.

OCHOCINCO IS CHAD JOHNSON AGAIN: Chad Ochocinco is now officially back to being the man he was: Chad Johnson. Now if he can go back to being the receiver he was, the Dolphins and their fans would be mighty thankful.

THE BRITISH OPEN MELTDOWN: Watched yesterday as Adam Scott blew a four-shot lead with four holes to play and made it Too Easy for the Big Easy, Ernie Els, to win the British Open. Els' first major victory in 10 years was a nice story, but this was Scott losing more than Els winning. Meltdowns in golf are more compelling than in most other sports, because they happen gradually and you are alone out there, your collapse spot-lit.

SOMEBODY OUT-DESPICABLES JERRY SANDUSKY: He is James Holmes, the piece of s--- who 1aa1jholmesmassacred 12 people (oops, allegedly) in that Aurora, Colo., movie theater. If this crime is not justification for the death penalty, there is  none. If this crime does not agitate a national discussion on toughening gun control, nothing will. The (alleged) puddle of scum is pictured in a court appearance today. That clown-orange hair should be shaved off his head and, were I the barber, I'm not sure I'd be all that careful with the straight razor.

Click back. Will be updating/adding much more to this latest blogpost...

July 20, 2012

The big sell-out: Heat, NBA to place ads on uniforms; plus Al Golden's new mess, The View From Miami (new video!), comics, Gators, ABA Floridians & more

1aa1me3GREG COTE (THAT'S ME) ANNOUNCES NEW VIDEO CHANNEL: This week I launched a new YouTube video channel for (almost) daily one-minute commentaries called 'The View From Miami.' My third and latest, on NBA uniform ads, is now posted. View all three so far at YouTube/TheGregCote.

1aa1lonmas[1) It is SUNDAY, JULY 22. No Random Evidence in print today; I've been on vacation from the paper this past week. Back to work Monday. 2) Penn State removed the Joe Paterno statue this morning. It was the right thing to do. 3) Has anyone yet satisfactorily explained why the London Olympics chose frightening amorphous Cyclops monsters (right) as their official mascots? I'm just asking. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

UGH! NBA APPROVES ADVERTISING ON UNIFORMS: The incremental death of civilization has its latest 1aa1adsunimilepost: NBA uniforms will include "small advertising patches" beginning with the 2013-14 season, the league announced late last night. Well, that's pending a September vote by the Board of Governors, but all indications are the shoulder-area ads will be approved unless maybe there is a public outcry in the meantime. It will be an estimated $100 million reveue stream for the league and its teams. The ads also will appear on replica jerseys that fans buy. Gawd. Seriously? It's bad enough that sports franchises sell their stadium and arena names to corporations and inundate spectators with a constant advertising barrage during games, but ads on uniforms is a significant step across 1aa1adsuni2a major, previously uncrossed line. The NBA will be the first of the Big 4 American pro sports to do this. But now that the seal is broken what do you bet the NFL, baseball and NHL follow in the money grab? Oh, and here's guessing those "small" advertising patches will get bigger over time, or not be limited to just one. We'll come to a point of sports prostitution when sponsors buy into team names themselves. "And tonight your Tsingtao Miami Heat take on the Prudential Boston Celtics..." Where does it end, people? I feel strongly about this. It's why I take a personal stand in my writing and refuse to use corporate names of facilities. Then again I also understand many others might think that sports' big sellout is no big deal, or even that it's smart business. Your vote and opinion are welcome.

Team USA stays perfect: Team USA men's basketball improved to 3-0 in Olympic tuneups with a 118-78 rout of host Great Britain. Heat's LeBron james had 16 points.

AL GOLDEN DEALING WITH MORE [BLEEP]: Poor Al Golden. His second Miami Hurricanes football season 1aa1algis dawning and, like his first, it is dawning under a cloud. The ACC media days are early next week in North Carolina, and NCAA-related questions will far outnumber football questions. New allegations are again courtesy Yahoo!, the same folks who broke last year's Nevin Shapiro pinata. This time the charge is that former assistant equipment manager Sean Allen (a Shapiro henchman) helped UM in recruiting, an allegation Golden (pictured) calls "simply false." Players named as having dealt with Allen are defenders Anthony Chickillo and Thomas Finnie and incoming freshman Duke Johnson and Herb Waters. (Finnie's father and Johnson's former coach deny wrongdoing). We'll see how this plays out. For now, it's just another headache Golden -- and UM football -- don't need. [See below for another perspective on Canes football).

A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE ON 'CANES FOOTBALL: Senior safety Ray-Ray Armstrong booted off the 1aa1ufarrHurricanes this week reminds us he was one of the guys with his hand out obliged by Nevin Shapiro, the now-jailed devil-booster whose actions still threaten Miami with future NCAA sanctions. A little perspective, though. Just look to Gainesville, where the off-field mess continues. Thirty-one player arrests under coach Urban Meyer (who drained The Swamp in a lot of ways) and now the number is up to 12 under Will Muschamp, who still is trying to clean up the culture fomented by Meyer before he bolted for Ohio State. Yes, some Canes wrongly accepted gifts, but it is the Gators' continuing, growing Urban-sprawl rap sheet that is this state's college football shame.

COMEDY WEEK WITH MEYERS, CALIENDO: Saw Saturday Night Live's wonderfully smug Seth Meyers at the Seminole Casino/Coconut Creek and then last night caught Frank Caliendo at the Hard Rock/Fort Lauderdale. That's a personal record for Most Comedy Shows Seen, Consecutive. Meyers is so typecast to me as SNL's "Weekend Update" guy that I wasn't sure how'd he be out from behind the desk but he does a classic, funny stand-up heavy on his stock-in-trade: sarcasm. Caliendo, whom I've seen before, is a great impressionist, of course. The audience could listen to his Bill Clinton all night. Got a chance to hang with Frank a few minutes afterward in the green room, which isn't green. (I happened to be a guest with Paul & Young Ron on Big 105.9 at the same time as Caliendo Thursday and told him I mourned for him that John Madden and Brett Favre both retired, which of course set up a riff by him as Madden. You're welcome.).

RETROSPECTIVE: THE MIAMI FLORIDIANS: The death of ex-player Warren Jabali is all the excuse I 1aa1miaflaneed for a quick, oddly fond retrospective on the ABA's Miami Floridians (1968-70), later simply The Floridians (1970-72). Given the franchise's brevity and lousy attendance it would unduly flatter to suggest this team paved the way for the Heat; nevertheless, it owns distinct niche in South Florida sports. Best player in club history was either Mack Calvin (All-ABA first team 1970-71) or Donnie Freeman (second-team twice), and you are a certifiable fan/historian if you know without Googling that the three head coaches were Jim Pollard, Hal Blitman and Bob Bass. (Might not have been a good idea that the cartoon guy in the original logo appeared to be dribbling blind).

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost. Hey I don't just say that. I mean it...

July 18, 2012

Yes. Yes, Ozzie DID say that; plus Marlins trade rumors, The View From Miami (new video!), Olympic pole dancing, Heat, Dolphins, Gaga & more

1aa1tvfm2NEW VIDEO! Greg Cote's The View From Miami #2 * 7-19-12 * U.S. Olympic Uniforms -- This week I launched a series of one-minute videos about various stuff called The View From Miami (TVFM). Might be daily, maybe a few a week, maybe occasional, we'll see how it goes. Click on TVFM#2 for my YouTube channel to access the latest vid or to see both.

[1) It is FRIDAY, JULY 20. 2) UM dismisses senior safety Ray-Ray Armstrong. Good for Al Golden. Armstrong's bad decisions painted his own departure. 2) Ex-Dolpins LB Joey Porter is retiring as a Steeler. 3) Dez Bryant arrested for attacking his mother. Ma hasn't had this much attention since Jeff Ireland saw to it. 4) Knicks did the right thing letting Jeremy Lin go to Houston. Does Linsanity even exist anymore? 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

OZZIE: TIME FOR MARLINS TO STICK THEIR "D--K IN THE DIRT": Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen displayed inventive variation in his vulgarity Wednesday night in Episode 2 of Showtime's The Franchise. 1aa1ozgAnyone who thought Oz was a one-trick pony with the F-bombs has undersold the man severely. About 25 minutes into the 30-minute segment, Guillen is in the clubhouse addressing his underperforming team as it returns from the All-Star Break, tells his players he hopes they had a nice rest and adds: "Now it's time to stick your d--k in the dirt." I re-watched the show on-demand today and re-wound that part several times to make sure that is what he said. It is. I'm as vulgar as the next guy (well, unless the next guy is Guillen) but had not heard that phrase. Is sticking one's d--k in the dirt a good thing? I consulted urbandictionary.com and discovered the phrase can be a negative condition of having been knocked to the ground, but also a reference to knocking someone out, so we'll assume Guillen meant the latter to inspire his team. It's like a Gipper speech, but R-rated. Never a dull moment with Guillen, or a moment free of !@#$%s and [bleep]s, apparently.   

Marlins willing to trade Hanley, others?: Reports yesterday had the Marlins exploring trades involving third baseman Hanley Ramirez and others prior to 1aa1carlcthe July 31 deadline. USA Today had the Marlins pondering a deal with Boston to send left fielder Carl Crawford (pictured) and a prospect here for Ramirez and closer Heath Bell. FoxSports had Boston approaching Miami about dealing Crawford for either Ramirez or shortstop Jose Reyes. USA Today also floated a suggestion the club has discussed trades involving Josh Johnson, Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez. However, ESPN's Buster Olney then Tweeted that the Crawford/Ramirez deal was "brought up briefly as concept, immediately died." A Marlins source of mine said the club is torn whether to be a buyer or seller. I wouldn't deal Reyes or Ramirez for Crawford, who turns 31 in August and has dealt with wrist and elbow issues. Interesting, though, the speculation. The Marlins distance themselves from any truth to the rumors. But where there's smoke...

DENIED LONDON, POLE DANCERS SET SIGHTS ON 2016 OLYMPICS: This is one of those stories that is at once serious and silly: A petition, fueled by the Pole Fitness Association and other advocacy groups, to get pole dancing into the Olympics. Or, as they prefer to call it: "Vertical dance." 1aa1poled 1aa1rio2016Pictured: KT Coates, a pole dance advocate from the United Kingdom who failed in efforts to get her sport into the 2012 London Games. Advocates are now taking aim at the '16 Summer Games in (a perfect city for pole dancing!) partying Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pole dancing, though suburbanized as a fitness outlet for moms and other non-strippers, unfortunately maintains its seedier connotation associated with gentlemen's clubs, lap dances and athletes making it rain. I am picturing the first Olympic pole-dance medal ceremony. The gold medalist bends forward to receive her medal as a leering IOC official discreetly slips a $100 bill into her cleavage. Well, as discreetly one one can in an internationally televised event!

Poll result: Basketball, track, swimming win your Olympic medals: We asked in the previous blogpost what Summer Olympics sports you are most looking forward to, inviting you to select your top two from eight options (you may still vote), and the winners were basketball (gold, 28.3 percent); track and field (silver, 27.1%); and swimming (bronze, 18.8%).

DOLPHINS' YOUNG-PLAYERS RANKING: ESPN.com presents NFL "Organizational Rankings" in the category of players 25 and younger. Patriots are No. 1 overall and Dolphins are 25th -- but ahead of the Bills (29th) and Jets (30th). AFC East'ers among the Top 25 prospects are Jets WR Jeremy Kerley (13th), Patriots QB Ryan Mallett (16th) and Pats OL Marcus Cannon (19th). I might have ranked Miami higher in the U25s. To mind come the names Vontae Davis, Reshad Jones, Jared Odrick, Mike Pouncey, Sean Smith and Ryan Tannehill.

WHITE HOUSE HONORS 'GREEN' HEAT: The Heat will be among teams honored at the White House today in an event focusing on sports franchises and facilities that lead the way in recycling, energy efficiency and other green initiatives. Jackie Ventura, operations coordinator for the Heat's arena, will represent the club. [On the court, Heat developmental team fell to 2-1 in the Las Vegas Summer League in a 65-62 loss to Golden State last night. Norris Cole had 15 points].

1aa1dumervilbbMAKING FUN OF DUMBASS ATHLETES: Someone in Denver paid for the billboard pictured to poke fun (albeit gently) at Broncos defender Elvis Dumervil for his recent arrest in Miami in a road-rage incident involving a gun. It reads, "Dumervil: Sticks with the Guns that made you a Star." I see this as a promising trend. More athletes might be dissuaded from appearing on police reports if the shame included mocking billboards in the cities in which they play. Fans, make it a grass-roots movement!

1aa1gagaadLADY GAGA'S NEW PERFUME AD: What is it about celebrity that celebrities think lends itself to a signature cologne or perfume? It seems everybody in entertainment has one now. Am waiting for a Larry the Cable Guy Body Spray. I think fandom might be traversing a dark, creepy road when we not only want to be like our favorite star but also smell like them. I digress. Here is the new ad for the inevitable new Lady Gaga scent. The good news? Ladies, this perfume will have men crawling all over you. The bad news? They'll all be tiny little men with tiny little ... let's move on.

Click back. Will be adding/updating to this latest blogpost and that's a fact....

July 16, 2012

Go, Molli, go! (A special plea); plus vote for 2 best Olympic sports (poll), radio's Heavy 100, UM/FIU football both in 40s, Heat, Marlins, Paternos & more

GO, MOLLI, GO!: If you haven't heard of Molli Serrano's story, it will be worth your time. She was featured on the Today show last week. I knew her story before that 1aa1mollibike 1aa1mollitodaybecause she is my neighbor in Plantation, same street, four houses down, a 38-year-old married mother of twins. I make a living in the company of great athletes, but Molli might be the most extraordinary athlete I know. Isn't courage how we respond when life deals us an awful hand? A year ago Molli underwent major surgery for pancreatic cancer, and six months of radiation and chemotherapy treatments -- all the while continuing with her serious passion for biking, running and swimming. Now she has a chance to compete in October in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii if she receives enough votes in a "Kona Inspired" contest. Voting ends today/Wednesday, July 18. Click on Team Molli to hear her story in her words, then please vote to help her dream happen, and forward this to others who also may wish to vote. I thank you.

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 18. Scroll down for Olympics poll immediately below. 2) UM dismisses senior safety Ray-Ray Armstrong. His own bad decisions caused it. What a shame. 3) Watch this kid try to steal a PGA Tour player's golf ball during yesterday's tournament. 4) Cigar smokers: Just finished a nice CAO La Traviata, a good bargain stick at $5. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

WHAT SPORTS ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE SUMMER OLYMPICS?: Athletes have begun to arrive in London. The Summer Games begin in only seven days (yes, there is competition in soccer and archery prior to the 1aa1londonolysJuly 27 Opening Ceremony), which means excitement begins to build in those who give a crap. I have always viewed the Olympics as a lot of stuff to fast-forward past -- sorry badminton, canoe and trampoline et al -- interspersed with sports of actual (and rather intense) interest. It has been said gymnastics, swimming and track are the Big 3 Summer Olympics sports. I'll be drawn to soccer and especially U.S. men's basketball as well. (Loved watching LeBron score 30 in that 80-69 U.S. exhibition win over Brazil Monday night). What competition in London are you most anticipating? Vote for your top TWO. If you vote for a sport not listed, pray tell which one. (It's canoe, right?) And remember, to not vote at all would be un-American, or un- whatever you are. That's why this poll doesn't have snarky, anti-Olympics options such as "Wake me when it's over!" or "Bring on the NFL!" After all what is the Olympics all about if not patriotism and national pride? If you don't vote in this poll you might as well just go ahead and burn the flag right now. (And I know you're better than that!)

LE BATARD RATED NO. 13 YAKKETY-YAK MAN IN U.S.: Talkers magazine, a talk-radio industry pub, is 1aa1danlebout with its 2012 Heavy Hundred, which it calls the 100 "most important" sports-talk hosts in America, and 790 The Ticket's Dan Le Batard (pictured) is rated 13th -- tops in the Greater Miami market. Top three overall are Mike Francesa (WFAN/New York), Jim Rome and Dan Patrick. Other national notables are Mike & Mike 6th, Tony Kornheiser 8th and Colin Cowherd 22nd. Other So-Fla yakkers inhaling Le Batard's dust are WQAM's Dan Sileo 32nd, 'QAM's Joe Rose 49th and 790's Stugotz & Marc Hochman 51st.

Irvin leaves WQAM: Michael Irvin bid his listeners goodbye Monday, and WQAM is right to make the move. Michael is a good guy and had a pretty good show but it insults the local market to have a man living in Dallas doing Miami radio.

MARLINS AND TRADE DEADLINE: Earlier I wrote, "Baseball trade deadline is the end of this month. Is it too late to trade the Marlins -- I mean the owner, manager, entire roster, everybody -- and just start over?" But the frustrating-to-watch Fish are showing signs of life again, 3-2 sinec the all-star break after last night's win at the Cubs fueled by Carlos Lee's grand slam. (Meanwhile, Ozzie Guillen lashed out during Sunday's game at Nats phenom Bryce Harper for using too much pine tar. A mastery of lip-reading is not reqired to discern Giullen calling Harper "a piece of s---." Click here for the YouTube vid).

1aa1cokerlCANES FOOTBALL: "WE'RE NO. 43! WE'RE...!": Bleacher Report, a website I seldom visit because its has that annoying, time-consuming slideshow theme, has come out with a preseason ranking of all 124 FBS football teams and Miami's Hurricanes are ranked an uninspiring 43rd -- barely ahead of FIU's 49th. Other state-school rankings: FSU 4th, Florida 25th, South Florida 29th, UCF 44th and FAU 114th. The predictable top-three: Alabama-LSU-Southern Cal. Dead last: UMass. Almost dead last at 121st: Texas-San Antonio led by ex-Canes coach Larry Coker (pictured).

1aa1lebronwishMORE PROOF LEBRON IS NOW THE GREATEST PERSON ON EARTH: The man America used to hate continues his inexorable move toward sainthood with this: Granting the wish of a cancer-stricken boy. As part of ESPN's currently running "My Wish" series, Georgia teen Thiago D'Elia (pictured with his hero) gets the star treatment from the Heat and LeBron James. Click here for the video.

Heat in China: Club announced it will play a pair of preseason exhibitions in China against the L.A. Clippers, on Oct. 11 in Beijing and Oct. 14 in Shangai.

Heat Summer Leaguers are kicking a--!: Heat younguns swamped the Lakers' children, 106-56, yesterday in Summer league play in Las Vegas, a SL record for win margin. Norris Cole led with 13 points, nine assists. Miami had beaten Toronto, 71-59, in its first of five Summer League games, topped by Terrel Harris' 14 points. 

FAMILY OF JOE PATERNO TO LAUNCH OWN INVESTIGATION: I could not type the preceding headline without laughing out loud and being angry and sad all at once. But it's true. The Paterno family thinks 1aa1bannerthe damning Freeh Report -- a credible, detailed, independent, months-long investigation -- was incomplete and so will appoint its own investigators. Wild guess: The family report will suggest the late Joe Pa did what he could to stop the monster Jerry Sandusky and that Paterno's superiors are most to blame. Dear Paterno family: This is pathetic. Your patriarch's name is forever damaged beyond repair (see below). At least deal with it with a little grace. Jesus. [Tuesday update: A plane pulling the banner pictured flew over Penn State today].

Poll result: Landslide! Paterno statue should come down: We asked in the previous blogpost (you can still vote) if Penn State should take down the statue honoring Paterno, and man did you answer. It was 80.5 percent yes, 14.6% no and 4.9% undecided. (Votes cast in Florida were 81.7 - 13.7 - 4.6. Votes from Pennsylvania were 79.0 - 15.7 - 5.3).    

DAMN YANKEES EVEN BEAT RED SOX IN STAMPS: U.S. Postal Service issues four new 1aa1joedcommemorative baseball stamps late this week, and based on preorders the Joe DiMaggio stamp edged the Ted Williams stamp in popularity, 421,266 to 417,066, with the Willie Stargell and Larry Doby stamps well behind. The DiMaggio stamp pictures Joe canoodling Marilyn Monroe. Just kidding. The stamp is shown. Quick thought: Maybe the USPS wouldn't be as close to bankruptcy as it is if it put out fewer commemorative stamps.

AND IN TODAY'S DUMBASS-ATHLETE FACEOFF...: We present Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, arrested in a road rage incident in Miami Beach, vs. Knicks guard Jason Kidd, busted for DUI in New York.

1aa1chickfilaTIME TO BOYCOTT CHICK-FIL-A?: It has come to my attention (belatedly, I feel), that the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A has been making an awful lot of political donations to groups that would fall under the broad umbrella "anti-gay." Click here for a backgrounder, and please pass it along. The corporation running Chick-fil-A has a right to its political leanings. So do consumers have a right to not patronize restaurants that are serving up a heapin' side of intolerance.

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July 14, 2012

Joe Paterno's Penn State statue should come down: Agree or disagree? Vote now (with poll); plus Heat, Marlins, being a billionaire, Octomom & more

[1) It is MONDAY, JULY 16. Click on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes column. Who else but me could combine the Joe Paterno scandal and Olympic berets into a lead item? 2) Drew Brees' new $100 million contract including a record $60 million guaranteed is good news. The Saints' bounty fund was getting a little low. 3) Click here to watch our friend Cory Chisel's recent performance on David Letterman. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

JOE PATERNO'S WATERGATE: HIS PENN STATE STATUE SHOULD COME DOWN: I say that after reading this week's damning Freeh Report that leaves little doubt former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had ample information to do something but did nothing -- for 14 years! -- while Jerry Sandusky rampaged as a pedophile sexually abusing boys. Paterno might well be facing criminal charges today 1aa1joepastatuerelated to his coverup, in fact, had he not died in January. How many more boys became victims because of an ignorance by Paterno that amounted to tacit approval? Even old colleague Bobby Bowden said the statue (pictured) honoring Paterno outside the stadium should not remain. I do not think this poll question is a no-brainer, though. Plenty might say that a lifetime devoted well to Nittany Lions football should not be overshadowed by what Paterno's family would have you believe is one regrettable chapter of that life. To others this might involve some of the same moral wrangling we go through in debating, for example, whether Barry Bonds deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. (Which is NOT to liken the two crimes, but only to note both involve assigning a weight to a man's wrongdoing in the larger context of his life and career). I admired Paterno from afar for a long time. He was "Joe Pa." But his damnable role in the Sandusky scandal made ever more irrefutable by the Freeh Report is too shaming, too much, to dismiss. Watergate rightly became what forever stained Richard Nixon and began any discussion of his legacy, and this is Paterno's Watergate. OK that's my say. Your turn. Vote and say why.

1aa1arisonmIT'S GOOD TO BE A BILLIONAIRE: Heat owner Micky Arison, vacation in Europe, Tweeted this photo captioned, "We are enjoying lunch Poulet de Bresse with France's best chef." From what I could determine here, this is a specially bred, very expensive type of poultry, the kind of royal bird that probably looks down its beak at mere ordinary chickens.

Heat kiddies debut in Summer League: Heat's Summer League team debuts today vs. Toronto in Las Vegas. Never quite understood the fascination (assuming any) for the Summer League. It's five developmental games for B-list players like Norris Cole, Dexter Pittman and recent draftee Justin Hamilton. 

MARLINS BOUNCE BACK: First game back after the break. Eager home crowd. First-place division opponent. Josh Johnson on the bump. and ... pffft! The Marlins somehow come out flat, lose 5-1. The perfect snapshot: The Nats' Bryce Harper steals third while Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes are lost in conversation. But last night they bounced back with strong pitching to even the series. Long way to go, but this inaugural season in the new ballpark still looks like an awfully steep climb to the playoffs.

Poll result: Sorry, Kobe, it's still the Dream Team: Kobe Bryant said his 2012 U.S. Olympic team could beat the 1992 Dream Team. I tend to agree. But Michael Jordan scoffed and so did you in our previous poll. We asked could the '12 team beat the Dreamers (you can still vote) and it was "no" with 60.6 percent. And that's despite the LeBron James factor, with about half of our polls' votes generally coming from Florida.

1aa1octomomTHE ETERNAL SADNESS OF OCTOMOM: Nadya Suleman, 37, mother of 14 and the world's worst advertisement for collagen lips, performed Friday night at The Playhouse, a Hallandale strip club, on the heel of releasing her first adult film Octomom Uncovered. Should her life get even sadder, we'll have updates.   

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July 12, 2012

Vote: Could 2012 U.S. Olympians beat '92 Dream Team? (w/ poll); plus Freeh Report buries Joe Pa, America loves LeBron, TV ratings, Marlins & more

1aa1fri13th[1) It is FRIDAY, JULY 13. Convince a paraskevidekatriaphobe to leave the house and join you for lunch today, then pay the waiter to slip a fake eyeball into your friend's soup. 2) Click on The Closer for yesterday's column, on Pat Riley's influence in the Heat landing free agents Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. (If only the Marlins had a closer as effective as Riley...). 3) It was 50 years ago last night that the Rolling Stones played their first gig at London's Marquee Jazz Club. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Team USA off to good start: Team USA routed the Dominican Republic, 113-59, in its first pre-Olympics exhibition last night in Las Vegas, led by Kevin Durant's 24 points. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant had 11 combined in very limited action. Click on Dream Debate for today's latest column by me, on the debate over whether the 2012 U.S. Olympic basketball team could beat the '92 Dream Team. I say yes and explain. We invite your vote in the poll immediately below.

POLL: 2012 U.S. OLYMPIC BASKETBALL TEAM VS. 1992 DREAM TEAM. VOTE NOW!: The answer isn't 1aa1dreamdebateknowable, so like any cross-eras debate this poll is just for fun. The question of which team would win is in the news because Kobe Bryant said his 2012 team would beat the '92 squad, and Michael Jordan scoffed at the idea. The Big 3's for each team: Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird vs. Kobe, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. If that sounds lopsided (not to prejudice the jury), I would note that Magic and Bird clearly were past their primes in '92, which to me levels the argument and makes the answer honestly debatable. Dream Team might still be the quick/easy answer but I'm not so sure, as I explain in my latest column, now online (see link above) and in today's/Friday's paper. What do you think? Vote and say why.

U.S Olympians will lead world in funny hats -- Update!: In prior blogpost I poked fun at U.S. Olympic Committee choosing dorky French berets as headwear for American athletes in London. Now Congress is irate because the Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms were made in China!

FOOTBALL STILL RULES NATION: There might be some doubt in Greater Miami, where the Heat are as (or more) popular than the Dolphins, but nationally the NFL remains king. Latest proof is from Sports Market Watch's top 50-rated sports broadcasts of the first half of 2012. The Giants-Patriots Super Bowl is No. 1 overall with 111.3 million viewers; in fact the top 12 are all NFL. Clinching Game 5 of the Heat-Thunder NBA Finals ranks 17th with 18.4 million.

AMERICA: "WE FORGIVE YOU LEBRON. IN FACT YOU'RE OUR FAVORITE NOW!": Call Wednesday night's 20th annual ESPY Awards the symbolic completion of the reimaging of LeBron James. Fickle, front-running America's opinion of the Heat megastar has gone from Mad to Mad Love. Quick disclaimer: NBA and its stars enjoy a unfair distinct advantage in the ESPYS, because fan voting takes place just after the season has ended, when highlights and the NBA Finals are fresh in minds. Even so, it 1aa1heat2was a stunning sweep for James as he won Male Athlete of the Year, NBA Player of the Year, Championship Performer of the Year, and led the Heat to winning the big final award, Team of the Year. The Big 3 were not there in Los Angeles, although LeBron -- off training with the U.S. Olympic team -- appeared in a live thank-you video. Hilariously, the team award was accepted by Juwan Howard and Mike Miller (pictured). "We have the Big 3 and then there's the Little 12, and you see two of 'em right now," joked Howard. Those two accepting Team of the Year for the Heat would be like me accepting the Pulitzer Prize for The Miami Herald, but it was cute. Three other quick ESPY thoughts: 1) No other entity on Earth pimps itself as unabashedly as ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Self-Promotion; 2) Eric LeGrand simply would not stop talking but who has the nerve to shush a man in a wheelchair accepting a never-give-up award?; and 3) If you walked in on Baylor's Brittney Griner speaking and didn't know who she was, you'd assume from seeing and hearing her that she was a "he." I'm just sayin'.

Poll result: Sorry, Rashard. Ray's the man: We invited you in our previous blogpost to say whether Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis excited you more as a Heat free-agent signing (you can still vote), and a landslide of 87.2 1aa1raylewispercent chose Allen. (By the way, if you combine Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, do you get Ray Lewis?)

MARLINS' 'THE FRANCHISE' PREMIERE: A REVIEW: [Marlins return to post-All-Star Break action tonight at home vs. Nationals] Much of the one-hour premiere of Showtime's baseball reality series starring the Marlins felt like a replowing of plowed ground, such as Ozzie Guillen's 1aa1franchiseprofanity-laced spring training talk to his team and the Fidel Castro stuff. (The series will seem fresher elsewhere than in So-Fla, where so much of what is aired has been previously reported). Other elements seemed extraneous, such as way too much time spent on club president David Samson's charity run. What makes the concept work are the details, such as Guillen telling Marlins wives before a charity softball game: "Play better than your husbands!" Or GM Mike Hill in a staff meeting saying, "The veterans are crapping all over themselves." Focal point was Heath Bell's struggles, and his give and take with Guillen was illuminating. Guillen, Bell, Jose Reyes, Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Zambrano got the most face time. Very little Hanley Ramirez. Zero Josh Johnson. Sometimes you almost wished the cameras weren't there, as when Gaby Sanchez was told he was being demoted again to Triple-A. One other quick thought: Guillen spewing F-bombs in a clubhouse has its profane charm, seeming natural to his persona and somehow softened by his thick accent. Samson in a suit using F-words in a president's office sounds, well, unprofessional.

FREEH REPORT ON PENN STATE/SANDUSKY DAMNING TO PATERNO: The investigation into the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky child rape scandal by former FBI director Louis Freeh is out; click HERE to 1aa1joepadownload it. "Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," Freeh concludes. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized." Joe Paterno (pictured) is named as one of four leaders who "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well being of Sandusky's victims until after [his] arrest." The world now knows Sandusky, convicted of 45 counts of serial child abuse, is a creep of the worst order. But this new report leaves little doubt about the gravity and extent of Paterno's looking the other way -- a tacit approval that allowed for more victims over many years. The legacy and name of the late Joe Pa won't ever be the same.

1aa1heads2 1aa1headsTHE BEST NEWSPAPER HEADLINES...: ...are the ones that have a double entendre, and leave you to wonder if the headline writer meant that or not. Like these two headlines.

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July 11, 2012

U.S. Olympians will lead world in funny hats; plus vote Heat's biggest free-agent addition (with poll); also Marlins, Dolphins & more

[It is THURSDAY, JULY 12. Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE LOSES MIND, OUTFITS AMERICAN ATHLETES WITH DORKY BERETS: At 1aa1beretssome point the USOC met to go over uniforms for the upcoming London Games, someone stood and said, "Let's have our athletes wear French berets that will be widely mocked," and the joking suggestion apparently was taken seriously and voted in, perhaps because everyone in the room was drunk. So this week the U.S. revealed Ralph Lauren-designed berets that 1aa1berets2American athletes will don (see right) during the opening and closing ceremonies and throughout the Games. A rule of thumb here is that nobody looks good in a beret. Not even the Green Berets 1aa1beretobamalook good in berets. Anyone wearing a beret looks like he should be driving a tiny Fiat while wearing a paisley ascot and smoking an elaborate pipe. I tried to think of headwear that might be even more embarrassing for U.S. athletes to wear and the only thing I could come up with was either those pointy green Robin Hood caps with the feather or the red plant pots the band Devo wore. Do I continue as a proud American hoping the U.S. kicks some serious Olympic a-- over there? Of course. Also I am very proud to not be wearing a beret.

1aa1allenrayPOLL: HEAT'S TOP FREE-AGENT ADDITION IS...: It's official. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis both signed with Miami today. Allen, 37 next week, is the 6-5 guard who is the NBA's all-time three-point shooter (pictured at today's introductory press conference conspicuously not wearing a beret). Lewis, 33 next month, is the 6-10 forward and two-time all-star who also can hit from the perimeter. Both will be major rotation players off the bench next season. The inclination is to think Allen is the more significant signing, but Lewis could play a very interesting role as well. Whose signing excites you more? Put another way, whose signing do you imagine will impact the Heat more favorably? Vote and say why.

A conversation with Dwyane Wade: Had a nice talk with the Heat's D-Wade yesterday about a variety of stuff. Click on Wade Reflects, Looks Forward for the resulting column. 

1aa1committeeMARLINS' CLOSER-BY-COMMITTEE: Manager Ozzie Guillen unsurprisingly revealed he would start the season's second half with a "closer by committee," a de facto demotion of Heath Bell. Expect Steve Cishek in the role initially (as I'd suggested in a Tuesday column), with maybe a dose of Juan Carlos Oviedo (when he returns from suspension) or Bell again if Cishek falters. Meantime Guillen's son Ozney Tweeted 'This [bleep]ing guy' after Bell's latest blown save on Sunday, prompting his father to say, "That's not his business." (It seems that the occasional placement of foot in mouth runs in the Guillen family...). Pictured: The Marlins' new Closer Committee holds its first meeting.

Showtime debuts 'The Franchise' starring Marlins: The one-hour premiere episode is tonight at 10. It will include some of the stuff already seen in a sneak preview, such as the Ozzie Guillen/Fidel Castro stuff. of more current interest: a testy office meeting between Guillen and embattled closer Heath Bell.

WORST ALL-STAR GAME EVER?: Almost, if you go just by the numbers. Last night's 8-0 win by the NL in Kansas City was the 83rd All-Star Game, and only two others have been bigger routs based on margin of runs. Those were the AL's 12-0 win in 1946 at Fenway Park, and the AL's 13-3 win in 1983 at Comiskey Park. Between the absence of any Marlins players and the uncompetitive game off a 5-0 first inning, I say no ASG has interested South Florida less.

Poll result: MMA edges boxing: In a result closer than I expected from our poll in the previous blogpost, mixed martial arts was the favorite over boxing by 39.2 percent to 36.4. Another 17.6 percent said they liked liked neither sport, and 6.8% said they liked both equally.

1aa1camwakeCAMERON WAKE, TOUR GUIDE: All-access and behind-the-scenes is all the rage, with Marlins on Showtime's The Franchise and Dolphins about to unfurl on HBO's Hard Knocks. Want more? Cameron Wake provides a tour of the Dolphins' locker room and facilities tonight at 7 on NFL Network. Click here for a one-minute preview.

WORLD'S WORST DAD: OK I'm going to go ahead and nominate this guy until somebody worse comes along.

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July 09, 2012

Sneak peek: ESPN's 'Body' issue (with photos); plus, are you bigger fan of boxing or MMA? (with poll); also, Heat/Rashard Lewis, Marlins-less All-Star Game & more

1aa1maviss[IT IS WEDNESDAY, JULY 11: 1) Happy 73rd birthday yesterday to a musical hero of mine, Mavis Staples (pictured). 2) R.I.P., Ermes Effron Borgnino -- character actor Ernest Borgnine, gone at 95. His role in McHale's Navy (1962-66) is another one of my very early, vague-but-there childhood memories. 3) Tardily, I am now full on the Louis CK bandwagon. 4) Played golf Saturday for the first time since April at Sunrise and rediscovered that I stink. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote].

Heat on 'OTL': Thanks to ESPN's Outside The Lines for having us on yesterday to talk about how Dwight Howard's eventual landing spot might affect the Heat and rest of NBA.

HEAT LAND RASHARD LEWIS: With Ray Allen already in the fold, the Heat have now also signed free-agent Rashard Lewis, who is 6-10 but can pop from 3'sville and spread the floor. Like Allen, he took less to come here than he could have gotten elsewhere. Like Allen, he is past his prime but has life left in his career. Like Allen, he bolsters/improves the Heat bench. Smart signing.

NU-NU-NUDIO! GET YOUR NAKED ATHLETES RIGHT HERE!: On newsstands this Friday is ESPN The Magazine's fourth annual The 1aa1bodycoverBody issue, in which 27 athletes pose artfully naked -- which means 1aa1body2you probably won't be offended unless you make a point in life of trying really hard to be. None of the athletes is associated with South Florida, so we miss a chance to relive the thrill of last year when Hanley Ramirez was pictured incongruously doing a domestic chore, his privates tastefully hidden by (yes) an ironing board. This year's cover photo is of Knicks' center Tyson Chandler (left), who hasn't been this naked since being dominated by LeBron James in the first round of the playoffs. The nudie at right is surfer Maya Gabeira. Not sure I consider surfing a sport, but think I am willing to make an exception after scrutinizing this photo. Note sure I consider The Mag's Body issue to be something pandering and silly or good and legit. Am sure I am not below pandering for blog hits by pimping it here.

BOXING VS. MIXED MARTIAL ARTS: Saw that the recent UFC 148 match between Anderson Silva and 1aa1boxufc1Chael Sonnen was billed as the circuit's biggest pay-per-view event of the year, which I took as a sign that mixed martial arts -- for all its undeniable (and 1aa1boxufc2increasing) popularity -- had not yet reached the mass appeal of boxing. My reasoning: A Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao bout would dwarf whatever UFC could throw out there in terms of PPV sales and national buzz. Am I wrong? Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of MMA, which I find cartoonishly violent. (I love baiting fans of the sport including my own two sons by making fun of the kicking, and pointing out that when I was growing up one of the big Guy Rules was that if you were involved in a fight, you didn't kick. "Because that's what girls did." MMA fans find this point neither amusing nor salient). Anyway, here's a poll just for fun, a boutique poll, meaning somewhat narrow interest, perhaps. If it moves you, vote and say why.

OK, THE HOME RUN DERBY WAS PRETTY GOOD...: Must admit Prince Fielder outslugging Jose Bautista for the Home Run Derby title last night made for pretty good TV. Kansas City fans were awfully rough on Robinson Cano -- and that's coming from a Yankee Hater. Sure would have been nice to see Giancarlo in there. ..... Original post: I'll admit I think I'm being parochial because Giancarlo Stanton's knee surgery erases the only Marlin from both tonight's HR Derby and Tuesday's ASG. I just don't look at the list of eight Derby guys and see much exciting. And an All-Star Game with nobody from your team feels like an anticlimax even before the first pitch. Anything else on TV tonight? Think I might find out.

Marlins deserve All-Star snub: Click on Star-Less for today's latest column by me. You want to be outraged that no Marlin was chosen to replace injured Giancarlo Stanton, but you can't, because nobody else has earned a spot on the stage. I write that the humbling all-star snub might be a good thing for a team that took its cocky cue from its manager but hasn't earned the swagger.

Baseball's second-half betting odds: From our friends at Bovada, Yankees (9-2) and Rangers (5-1) are World Series champ favorites, with Marlins 35-1, tied for 16th. In the NL it's Nationals and Giants both 9-2. In the NL East it's Nats 4-5, Braves 9-4, Mets 15-2, and Fish and Phillies both 12-1. Individual betting faves are: NL MVP--Pirates' Andrew McCutcheon (4-1); NL Cy Young--Mets' R.A. Dickey (13-10); AL MVP--Angels' Mike Trout (2-1); and AL Cy--Angels' Jered Weaver (5-2).

DOLPHINS: "WE'RE NO. 26! WE'RE...!": Ron Jaworski's Top 30 NFL quarterbacks countdown for ESPN slots Dolphins incumbent Matt Moore in at 26th.  And most observers are betting David Garrard will beat him out for the starting job.

WIMBLEDON WINS: I generally like televised tennis as background noise but found the weekend's Wimbledon finals pretty compelling. Serena Williams' win was woman-against-girl stuff in terms of power. At her best Serena might be the greatest female player ever. If one could combine eras it's just hard to imagine dainty Chris Evert matching her game. On the men's side all of England cheered for Andy Murray but there also was something quite stirring about Roger Federer rising back to No. 1 after everyone had begun to spade dirt on a career supposedly fading. Good stuff, tennis!

A CIGAR STORY: I'm a cigar smoker (don't do it, kids), not a big-spending aficionado but a guy content 1aa1bluntwith a $3 Arturo Fuente. On a recent trip to Oklahoma City I found myself back at my hotel at 1 a.m. craving a smoke so I traipsed to the convenience store next door for the closest they had to an actual cigar: a five-pack of Phillies Blunts. Insubstantial draw with a ghastly-sweet wrapper, every bit the cheap smoke you'd expect. But here was the worst part, noticed later in fine print on the carton: 'These cigars are predominantly natural tobacco with non-tobacco ingredients added.' Wha-huh!? What the hell else is in there? Cardboard? Mulch? Repurposed dock rope? Moral of story: A) Quit smoking, or B) at least leave the Blunts for the kids who hollow out the mostly-tobacco and replace it with pot.

SOUTH KOREAN DOMINANCE IS RUINING THE LPGA TOUR: Well, I guess that headline about sums up my feelings. Na Yeon Choi winning the U.S. Women's Open is great news in Seoul or Daejeon, but it's another death knell for pro women's golf in this country. Jingoist attitude? Absolutely. Also the truth.

1aa1beerobamaPRESIDENT DROWNS ECONOMIC SORROWS IN BOOZE!: Evidence of U.S. presidents as real human beings is so rare that I feel the need to pass along this campaign-trail photo of President Barack Obama quaffing a beer. Notice it is not a bottled beer. Headline: PRESIDENT FAVORS REINSTATING DRAFT!

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