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21 posts from January 2013

January 31, 2013

Shamed Dan Marino has done enough to be forgiven. Agree? Poll. Vote!; plus Super Bowl pick, Smirk Friday, LeBron upset, Lance Effect & more

[1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1. This is a jockey's favorite month, because it's the shortest. God that was awful! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): A-Rod/Ray Lewis accusations, Smirk Wednesday, Cats slipping. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Super Bowl predix: Upset! Ravens, 24-21: The favored 49ers might have an overall talent edge, but Ray Lewis gives the Ravens an emotional/intangible advantage, which often is big in a Super Bowl. Also think Joe Flacco has the vertical passing game to penetrate San Fran's D. Click on Super Bowl Gem for the full prediction capsule.  

MARINO LOVE-CHILD A SCANDAL, BUT FORGIVENESS TRUMPS SCORN: I have my say in my newest column today; click Marino Deserves Forgiveness to read. Do you agree? Vote in our poll below and say why you feel as you do. Original post from yesterday: Dan Marino, maybe the biggest sports figure in South Florida history, has been exposed by the New York Post for having fathered a love-child in 2005 and paid 1aa1danbaby 1aa1danmillions to the mother to support the child and to keep quiet. She evidently did not keep quiet. Full story here. Marino, a CBS analyst since 2003 who is to be involved with Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast, apparently had an affair with a CBS production assistant, Donna Savattere, then 35, that resulted in the birth of daughter Chloe. The mother and daughter are pictured. The news broke on Marino's 28th wedding anniversary to Claire; they have six children including two adopted daughters. Marino, when confronted with the news, owned up to it, saying, "This is a personal and private matter. I take full responsibility both personally and financially for my actions." Now, my take: Marino is enough a public figure to make this newsworthy, but I feel bad for Dan, for Claire and their family. He made a mistake eight years ago. He's human. This does not change his standing as one of the NFL's all-time great quarterbacks or as a Miami icon. Neither does this erase any of the good works he has done in the community in raising funds for great causes; I don't know of any athlete we have had who's done more. Some will think less of Marino and that is their right. He has paid millions in this matter, and now he is paying far more, with his embarrassment and with the tarnish on his name. How if at all does this matter affect your opinion of Marino? Vote and say why.

Smirk Friday: Super Bowl With a Smirk, here to tweak the self-imortant NFL and gravitas of its big game, is back today to refute speculation that Beyonce lip-synched replies to questions at her Halftime Show Press Conference. We have details on that, plus Ali, overweight cheerleaders, bowling, Tazon Latino, puppies, football laces and, as always, much more. Click on Smirk Friday for the full column.

Smirk Thursday: Smirk's Thursday menu included the lavish New Orleans arrival of the Roman Numerals (that's right), Beyonce, fake tickets, John Harbaugh's apparent sexiness, astrology, chicken, Hungary and, as always, much more. Click on Smirk Thursday for the full column.

LEBRON JAMES UPSET HE'LL MISS SUPER BOWL: The Heat play at Toronto Sunday and will miss most if not all of the Super Bowl because the team will be en route back to Miami on a private jet with no Wi-Fi or satellite TV. "How disgusting is that!?" James said. LeBron, a huge football and Cowboys fan, said, "If the Cowboys were in the Super Bowl I'd stay there for the game."

THE LANCE EFFECT: A-ROD, LEWIS DENIALS HARDER TOP ACCEPT: Lance Armstrong has made it harder for us to believe athletes when they say "I didn't do it," as Alex Rodriguez (Biogenesis) and Ray Lewis (deer-antler extract) have this week. I explore that here: Click on The Lance Effect for the full column.  

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January 30, 2013

A-Rod's Biogenesis, Ray Lewis' deer-antler extract: World gone mad!; plus Smirk Wednesday, Ken Dorsey & more

1aa1kate 1aa1beyonce[1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30. Pictured left and right are Kate Upton from her Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl ad, and Beyonce as she would look if playing referee and running back at the same time. Why? Just because. 2) Former UM quarterback Ken Dorsey named today as new QBs coach for the Carolina Panthers. 3)  In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat at White House, Super Bowl matchup poll, Pro Bore, Smirk, Cats, runners. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

BIOGENESIS AND DEER ANTLERS: A-ROD, RAY LEWIS MAKING THE WRONG KIND OF NEWS: Is it me, or has the first month of 2013 been exceptionally bizarre in our little Sports World. In newspapers they 1aa1deerrl 1aa1aroidused to call us the "toy department." Now the toy aisles are filled with guns (real ones) and drugs. Now the toys come in such weird packaging like Lance Armstrong's shamed confession and Manti Te'o record-setting naivete. A week ago the NCAA accused its own investigators of wrongdoing in the Miami probe. Of course it did! And now: A double scoop of strange involving two superstars with strong Miami ties. Ex-Hurricane Ray Lewis of the Ravens makes unfortunate Super Bowl Week headines when Sports Illustrated accuses him of using a banned substance found in, of all things, deer-antler extract. And Yankees icon Alex Rodriguez is the most prominent name in a Miami New Times expose about a now-shuttered PED-peddling Miami "anti-aging" clinic called Biogenesis. For what it's worth, A-Rod denies any involvement with Biogenesis and Lewis denies what he is accused of. It's a bad climate for denials, though, isn't it. In sports, our benefit of doubt is spent. Call it the Lance Effect.

Smirk Wednesday: Super Bowl With a Smirk, here to tweak the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game -- think of us as a whoopee cushion in church -- is back today with a menu that includes deer-antler extract, Media Day, the NFL Experience, national anthem, media party, Psy's pistachios and, as always, much more. Click on Smirk Wednesday for the full column.

Poll result: Super Bowl matchup better than most: We asked in the previous blogpost how 49ers-Ravens rates as a SB matchup and 44.5 percent said better than most, 41.5% said about the same, and 14.0% said worse.

CATS ON ICE! SLIPPING, FALLING...: Since their exhilirating season-opening home win your Florida Panthers have now lost five games in a row by a combined score of 23-5. This truncated 48-game NHL season will seem shorter and shorter and then too short for teams that fall too far behind early. Anybody seen a panic button?

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January 28, 2013

Is this Super Bowl matchup more exciting than most, or less? (poll); plus return of Smirk, Heat-Obama video, Pro Bore, Cat panic, runners, R. Kilowatt & more

It's Radio Tuesday: If it's Tuesday, I'm back in-studio with Le Batard and Stugotz today beginning at 3 p.m. on 790 The Ticket and FM 104.3. Ears welcome. 

1aa1kilowatt[1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 29. Am thinking of launching a campaign to persuade Florida Power & Light to bring back its old icon, Reddy Kilowatt. Who's with me? 2) MLB is investigating several South Florida "wellness clinics" for the sale of human growth hormone and testosterone to players. I remember the good old days when baseball's only problem in Miami was Jeffrey Loria. 3) Click on Random Evidence for my Sunday notes column, leading with the sublime, somber, surreal week for Miami Hurricane sports. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Chris Bosh-for-Dwight Howard poll, LeBron's joy-tackle, Top 10 Super Bowl storylines. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1heatwh2OBAMA TO LEBRON: "IT'S YOUR WORLD, MAN!": President Barack Obama honored the Heat yesterday at the White House for their 2012 NBA championship. Click HERE for a brief video. At one point Obama invotes LeBron James to say a few words with, "It's your world, man!" Pretty cool. A delighted LeBron, overcome by the occasion, says, "Mama, I made it." Very sweet.

HOW DOES 49ERS-RAVENS RATE ON YOUR EXCITEMENT/INTEREST SCALE?: Are all Super Bowls created equal? I mean, unless your team is in it (sorry, Dolfans), isn't the interest level about the same every year? Teams change but the event is the same, right? You'll watch no matter who's playing, right? Or: Are some matchups more or less interesting than others? I'm curious, as Super Bowl Week kicks off, how you slot this 49ers-Ravens matchup vs. most SBs. More exciting? Less interesting? Have a vote and say why.

1aa1lewissiThe return of Super Bowl With a Smirk!: Smirk, sent here to tweak the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game, returns today with a menu that includes Ray Lewis' divineness, Alicia Keys, Radio Row, crab cakes vs. wine, Beyonce, cow sacrifice, Miss Alabama and, as always, much more. Click on SMIRK TUESDAY to read.

NFL KICKS OFF SUPER BOWL WEEK WITH PRO BORE: NFC defeats AFC, 62-35. Asusual, defenders lei down in Hawaii. LEI DOWN, GET IT!? Original post: Let me make this clear. The NFL kicking off its Super Bowl Week with the Pro Bowl is like you kicking off your expensive gourmet meal with an 1aa1bore2appetizer of dog s---. My Pro Bowl prediction: The final score will be something like 51-45, with offense once more masquerading as excitement but actually mirroring rampant disinterest by players. My other prediction: You won't remember or care in two days which conference won or who the game MVP was. The Pro Bowl has become such a lame event that the NFL is weighing whether to kill the whole thing because so many selected players drop out with lame excuses and so little effort is put forth by those who do participate. The event has gotten even worse since they moved it to the week before the Super Bowl, because now players from the two SB teams are excluded. You are beyond a diehard NFL fan if you plan to watch today's game from Honolulu. More likely, you are directly related to one of the players, or have been ordered to watch to help fulfill your court-ordered obligation to community service hours. Click on Top 10 Super Bowl Storylines for my column skewering the buildup to the SB. The Pro Bowl is enthusiastically omitted.

HEAT FALL  AT BOSTON IN RAY ALLEN RETURN: Heat lose today, 100-98  in double-OT. LeBron 34 points, Ray Allen 21 off bench. Mixed reaction to Allen shading toward booing. Original post: Ray Allen makes his much-awaited 1aa1allenrreturn to the Garden today. It isn't LeBron-back-in-Cleveland but it'll turn up the boo-decibels pretty good with Celtics fans who feel jilted -- their anger accentuated by the team's current mediocrity. It's another watch-me game on the schedule. Boston will be pumped to beat the champs and their former star, while Miami will rally up around Allen. Fun!

HEAT BIG 5 @ 40: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so we started 1aa1heat5this new one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's a top-five cumulative ranking of the players having the biggest overall impact this season based on eight statistical categories. The numbers themselves might not mean much but the numbers relative to each other give an indication of the contribution players are making. The Big 5 @ 40 Games (28-12):

Rank (@35)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   1,508.5

2 (3)   Dwyane Wade   993.5

3 (2)   Chris Bosh   979.7

4 (4)   Ray Allen   620.4

5 (5)   Mario Chalmers   606.7

Bubble: Udonis Haslem, 407.6

Poll result: Love for Bosh: We asked in the previous blogpost if you would (or think the Heat should) trade Chris Bosh for Dwight Howard. "No" won with 60.4 percent. It was 33.8% for "yes" and 5.8% "undecided." That might not be mad love, Chris. But it's love.

PANIC IN CATLAND: The Panthers' truncated NHL season began so merrily -- with a 5-1 home triumph -- and has since spiraled dismally to four straight defeats by a combined 18-3 margin. Normally we'd invoke the "long season" call for patience, except the 48-game schedule means the season already is more than 1/10th through, the playoffs or lack of them will get here on a fast track and the Cats need to figure this out fast. That's you, coach Kevin Dineen.

THE 26.2 AND 13.1 CROWD: Some 25,000 serious runners marathoned and half-marathoned in downtown Miami Sunday. I have noticed that fitness aficionadoes in general and runners in particular are very proud of themselves and wish to brag unabashedly share what they do with others, so the public display of their running is nirvana. But here is something to consider: 72 percent of all drivers with a 26.2 or 13.1 decal on their cars bought the stickers just for show, have never run more than a fever and are eating Doritos while driving. I totally made up that percentage, but believe it to be close.

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Live Blog Q&A/Chat No. 17 has ended; next Chat Feb. 4

Welcome to Live Blog Chat No. 17: Today's Chat has ended. We do it each Monday here, 1-2 p.m. Click into 'Comments' section below for a transcript of our latest palaver.

January 25, 2013

Chris Bosh for Dwight Howard? Poll. Vote!; plus LeBron's joy-tackle (video), Top 10 Super Bowl stories media will beat to death, UM 'Homeland' plan & more

1aa1prince[1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 26. Pat White signs minor-league deal with Marlins. Bill Parcells ... VINDICATED! 2) Prince has new song called Screwdriver and you'd click the word to see and hear. I like Prince and the song. Not a big fan of the naughty use of the word screw, but the music is percussive with nice bass. 3) Much flap over Beyonce lip-synching at presidential inauguration, but outcry was misdirected. Don't blame the singers for trying to make it easy on themselves. Blame the hiring party -- Super Bowl, inaugural committee, etc. -- that fails to insist on a live, real performance. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM crushes Duke, NCAA probe tainted, Miami's All-Star Game fiasco. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

BOSH-FOR-HOWARD DEAL IS PLAUSIBLE. BUT IS IT SMART?: I didn't start this rumor. Heck, ESPN.com 1aa1boshdhlists seven teams to whom a Dwight Howard trade would make some sense, and has Miami first. The trade would work financially as a straight-up deal. The Lakers could be interested because Howard -- beyond his health and attitude issues -- has not been an ideal fit in L.A. to say the least. Chris Bosh would work in the Lakers' offense better, lending an outside presence and allowing Pau Gasol to work closer to the basket. The Heat could theoretically be interested, too, in that Howard is younger and could provide the low-post presence and defensive rebounding that is lacking. For Miami, especially, though, the trade would be a gamble. It could become a chemistry issue, and it would rely on Howard's full health and his willingness to be the Heat's third scoring option. Don't get this wrong: Am not advocating a trade or even remotely predicting it might happen. Mavericks and Rockets seem likelier landing spots if L.A. made a deal. Worth considering, though, that's all. And discussing. Have a vote and say why.

LeBron's joyful tackle: LeBron James is still a big kid at heart in ways most pro athletes aren't, and that showed last night when he ran out to tackle a fan who'd just won $75,000 by making a halfcourt shot during a break in the Heat game. Click HERE for the brief video. Call this the latest step in the transformation of LeBron's national reputation since it hit rock bottom with The Decision in 2010. [Note: Heat Big 5@40 coming in new blogpost on Sunday].

TOP 10 SUPER BOWL STORYLINES YOU'LL BE SICK OF: [Note: I rarely republish in the blog what is in print but make an exception here because the column below appears in the newspaper under such a 1aa1cardsbgodawful don't-read-me headline ('Lewis top Super Bowl story line') that I feel most readers ran from screaming from it. So here it is...]

I would describe Super Bowl Week — not the game itself, but the buildup to it — thusly: Thousands of journalists bound by custom and formula all writing and saying basically the same things while trying unsuccessfully to repackage them for an audience that not only has already heard these stories, but is sick enough of them to scream.

In other words, pretty much what I am doing right here with my Super Bowl Week primer, a list of top 10 story lines, a national cheat sheet for my media brethren set to descend locust-like upon New Orleans for the upcoming 49ers-Ravens game.

1. RAY LEWIS: Baltimore’s great linebacker (and ex-Hurricane) will be at the emotional epicenter of this game, a role for which he is insanely well suited. Ray is a baller. I don’t just mean once the game 1aa1lewisstarts. He’s bawling during the national anthem, pulling muscles with his squirrel dance and giving pregame speeches so fiery the field under his feet is left charred and smoldering. Your Friend the Media will plumb the soul of the Canton-bound Lewis and wonder aloud if he is the greatest defensive player ever. Coverage of him mostly will be breathlessly rosy, although some — the Serious Journalists Who Know It Isn’t All Fun and Games — will be unable to resist the temptation to revisit the 2000 murder indictment, later dismissed in exchange for Ray’s testimony against two other men. (These same Serious Journalists also will be writing densely this week about the league’s concussion crisis, a story no less important because nobody cares to read about it.) My hope? After a million floral retrospectives and odes to Lewis’ swan song have been reverently crafted, Ray casually mentions the day after the game that he has changed his mind and isn’t retiring, after all.

2. THE HARBAUGHS: Bro Bowl! Har-Bowl! Super Baugh! This has not been reported anywhere else, to my knowledge, but apparently Jim and John Harbaugh will be the first head coach brothers ever to duel 1aa1harbaughsin a Super Bowl. And oh how the media swoons with enchantment! Father and former longtime college coach Jack Harbaugh, 73, will be more popular in New Orleans next week than beignets at Café Du Monde. Mom Jackie will need a phalanx of bodyguards to fend off the rush of reporters all seeking warm memories of a Harbaugh childhood, and tears, if she wouldn’t mind. For an offshoot, there also will be much contrasting and comparing of the Harbaughs with the N’Awlins-based Mannings: Peyton, Eli and patriarch Archie. (It’s why I have bought stock in media use of the phrase “first family of football.”) My hope? A major news outlet (thinking Yahoo!) will have the exclusive, intriguing interview with heretofore unknown third brother Jasper Harbaugh, but it will turn out Jasper never existed and was the work of the same guy who duped Manti Te’o.

1aa1bountygate3. BOUNTYGATE: A Super Bowl held in New Orleans the season of the Saints’ crippling Bountygate scandal and resulting penalties will spawn a thousand reheated analyses. (Not to mention vicious postgame booing of Roger Goodell as he presents the Vince Lombardi Trophy.)

4. 'MEDIA DAY': This is the one day during Super Bowl Week when both teams appear in the stadium and thousands of media members swarm upon them. The occasion is such that an 1aa1mediadayinvestment in media references to “circus atmosphere” might be prudent. This event is renowned for the Wacky Foreign Journalist, typically a Mexican radio bombshell in a low-cut wedding dress asking the quarterbacks to marry her, and also for the Adorable Kid Reporter, typically a 12-year-old there for Nickelodeon who gets ushered to the front of the line by handlers rudely elbowing through the crowd of legitimate journalists. This also is where hundreds of columnists looking for an easy day on account of a tee time lament the “media excess” and “circus atmosphere” of Media Day, unbothered by the irony that they are contributing to that excess by writing about it.

5. KAEPERNICK/FLACCO: It is mandatory a Super Bowl’s quarterbacks be the focus of the perspective-laden piece placing each man in an historical context, a formula challenging this time because neither 1aa1kaepflacone has been in a Super Bowl before. (Or, as we in the media love to write and say: “On this stage before.”) The peg for Raven Joe Flacco: Is he “elite”? This will be the game that anoints or denies him. Unless perhaps the Ravens win even though Joe had a really crappy game, in which case a reevaluation of the word elite might be necessary. The peg for San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick: The Breath of Fresh Air. Nine games ago, this guy was most known for his tattoos, but now he’s a pass/run wunderkind. Watch an enterprising columnist visit a New Orleans tattoo parlor (say, Tats ’R Us) to discuss Kaepernick’s body art with an eclectic local ink god — only to discover that 14 other enterprising columnists are there doing the same thing.

6. FOOTBALL VS. REAL LIFE: This is the staple annual theme piece for the beyond-sports, big-picture 1aa1fbpovjournalist (thinking Mitch Albom, or perhaps Jeremy Schaap) who delights to juxtapose the extravagance and partying that surround a Super Bowl with the poverty being endured by real folks just blocks away. Any host city offers this contrast, dare say New Orleans more than most. This is where the serious writer notes that champagne, lobster and shrimp the size of kittens are being served at the Commissioner’s Party while, six blocks away, a family of 11 displaced by Hurricane Katrina lives in squalor battling over a can of tuna. (If the actual conditions are not quite squalor, well, this is why God invented embellishment!)

7. O.J. BRIGANCE: Most of the tear-jerk stories will center on Lewis’ farewell and on the Har-Bros, but 1aa1brigancehere is the real deal. Brigance, 43, is a former Ravens linebacker who now works in the club’s front office. He suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), is wheelchair-bound and speaks through a computerized voice. Lewis calls him his and the team’s biggest inspiration. Bonus: Brigance played four seasons for the Dolphins (1996-99), so he qualifies to fill the coveted Hometown Angle role for South Florida reporters trying to “localize” the Super Bowl for their readers.

8. THE 'OTHER' EX'S: Here’s another Hometown Angle for the Miami guys to plumb. Stock premise: 1aa1ginn“Ray Lewis is getting all the attention, but …” Baltimore safety Ed Reed and tackle Bryant McKinnie are other prominent ex-Miami Hurricanes for the Ravens, along with injured running back Damien Berry and receiver Tommy Streeter. For the 49ers, running back Frank Gore is a major player, and linebacker Tavares Gooden is a reserve. Oh, and of course Ted Ginn Jr., former Dolphins No. 1 draft pick, is a return guy for the Niners, so we’ll be looking for local reporters to invite a gloating Ginn to complain how he never got a fair shot here.

1aa1moss9. RANDY MOSS: A thousand stories and sound bites all will portray the Niners backup receiver and once-controversial figure as the “forgotten superstar” of this Super Bowl. Even though he obviously isn’t forgotten at all if so many people are writing and talking about him.

10. LOCAL FLAVOR: These is where media folks sent to New Orleans on the company dime justify the expenditure and prove to their bosses they aren’t covering the game from 1aa1neworltheir hotel bar by venturing into the city and filing descriptive “color pieces.” These would include the aromatic Cajun cuisine of Bourbon Street, the buoyant brass of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, casual use of the words “gris-gris” or “hoodoo,” and (almost certainly) a requisite tarot-card reading. A journalist’s research would likely also include three or four Hurricane cocktails at Pat O’Brien’s, a fact that would be omitted from one’s “color piece” but be deftly hidden on one’s expense report. That last thing is pure speculation, of course. I’m not speaking from experience or anything.

AL GOLDEN'S "HOMELAND SECURITY" STRATEGY: I find Al Golden's two most recent Hurricanes football hires to be good ones, but more than that interesting ones, for the same reason. James Coley, the 1aa1coleynew offensive coordinator (from FSU, pictured top) and Mario Cristobal, assistant head coach/tight ends (from FIU, bottom) have this in common: Recruiting. It is a clear strength of both men, especially in South Florida. Cristobal is born and raised here and tapped in with local schools. Coley is a Miami High alum whose first coaching job was at Norland; ESPN has named him top recruiter in the ACC. I mentioned this coincidence to a 1aa1cristobalsource in the football program. "But it isn't a coincidence. It's our 'Homeland Security' plan," the source said, the phrase his, not Golden's. "Al wants to dominate [recruiting] in Dade and Broward." That's especially true now as the school faces possible scholarship limits by the NCAA in the Nevin Shapiro case. If you don't have quantity, the quality had better be that much greater. The strategy to dominate in your bounteous backyard also sounds to me like a head coach digging in and planning to stay awhile. Golden and Cristobal were at the basketball arena with guest recruits during UM's big win over No. 1 Duke -- a result and ambience that could only have helped Canes recruiting leading to next month's signing day. And sitting right next to UM's current star running back Duke Johnson was the player Miami hopes follows in Duke's footsteps: South Plantation's heavily recruited Alex Collins. My guy coined the new reemphasis on South Florida as 'Homeland Security.' I might call it fencing in the backyard. Either way, Coley and Cristobal are smart hires to help Golden and UM get there.

SUPER BOWL PROP BETS (NORMAL AND NOT SO MUCH): There are hundreds. Some betting favorites that interested us, courtesy Bovada: MVP--Colin Kaepernick 7-4. First TD--Frank Gore 13-2. Alice Keys national anthem--2 minutes 15 seconds. Coaches' postgame handshake/bro-hug--7.5 seconds. Times word "Harbaugh" mentioned during game on telecast--20.5. TV rating/viewers--46/111 million. MVP thanks first--Teammates 5-4. (Sorry, God. You're at 5-2).

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January 23, 2013

Historic! UM crushes No. 1 Duke!; plus Bosh an all-star, Coley Canes' new OC, NCAA's tainted case, why Miami lost ASG & more

[1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 24. Unsurprisingly the Heat's Chris Bosh was named today to NBA Eastern all-star team as a reserve. 2) UM has hired Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley to that position with the Canes. A big hire. Bright young guy (well, 39) and also a top-notch recruiter. 3) I offer this link to my Ron Fraser tribute column -- Great Coach, Better Man -- because, based on the volume and content of my emails, it has touched readers. That is because of the subject, not the writer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron/Wade karaoke video, Jeff Ireland's plan, Ray Lewis vs. Bro Bowl, Obama/MLK. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

NCAA admits improper conduct in UM probe: NCAA president Mark Emmert called for a review of his enforcement program after acknowledging "improper conduct" related to the ongoing UM/Nevin Shapiro investigation. The NCAA said that "former enforcement staff members worked with Shapiro's criminal defense lawyer to improperly obtain information that would not otherwise have been accessible." Miami and Canes fans may presume that the NCAA will not -- and should not -- hold against UM any information improperly accessed. An official NCAA Notice of Allegations against UM is expected in February. Click on NCAA Probe of UM Now A Joke for my latest column.

UM STUNS/CRUSHES/ROUTS NO. 1 DUKE!: Greatest night in the history of Hurricanes basketball? I would not argue. Last night's 90-63 rout of Duke by the 25th-ranked Canes was UM's first-ever victory over a No. 1-ranked opponent. It also was Duke's worst defeat in 15 years. A more thorough spanking I have seldom seen. Such great, fierce defense. Such clutch offense by Durand Scott and the guys. Such relentlessness. Oh, and the unexpected return of Reggie Johnson. Fans storming the court as it ended; click What A Rush for the video of it. What a night for this program! Every season with a senior-dominated team has a now-or-never feel. Well, last night the Canes stood up and shouted: NOW! (Oh, by the way. The Heat won last night, too). Original post: Rock it up, Canes fans. Be the Gables Crazies. Turn this into a College Hoops joint for one night. This happens about once every, well, never, so shout it while you can: Heat and UM men play home games concurrently tonight, and the Canes game is 1aa1kennykbigger. By a lot. Heat game has a lot to offer, too: The guys are back home after a five-game break and six-game road trip, they're playing Chris Bosh's ex's, Toronto, and we'll probably see the debut of the team's newly signed DR (designated rebounder) and tattoos leader, Chris "Birdman" Andersen. But! The 25th-ranked Canes top that with a packed gym tonight (itself a rarity) vs. No. 1 Duke. When ESPN and Dick Vitale are on 1aa1coachk 1aa1dickv 1aa1ibiscampus doing the game you know it's big, bay-bee! Coach Jim Larranaga's Canes will try to make school history tonight by being the first UM men's team ever to beat a No. 1-ranked opponent. Miami has beaten two No. 2s in its history: Duke, here, on Dec. 21, 1962, and at UConn on Feb. 20, 1999. Pictured: UM's Kenny Kadji, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewki, Vitale and Sebastian the Ibis. No matter tonight's result, Miami has Sweet 16 potential when center Reggie Johnson is back from injury. A loss tonight won't change that. But a win? It would be the biggest in the regular-season in UM history, and the ultimate statement by these Hurricanes.

FIASCO: LORIA RENEGED. SELIG RENEGED. WE LOSE: Miami and Marlins Park were supposed to get MLB's 2015 All-Star Game. It was an implied more than actual promise by baseball and commissioner Bud 1aa1loriaj 1aa1seligbSelig contingent on the new stadium being built. The thing is, the team and owner Jeffrey Loria got that park built with the implied more than actual promise that big payrolls and competitive teams would result. That lasted one failed season, followed by the standard fan-betraying, promise-betraying payroll-slash. Did Selig renege? Yes. Why? Because Loria reneged first. (Pictured: the Reneging Twins). I cannot blame baseball for refusing to reward Loria. Nor do I buy the notion that MLB should give Miami the ASG and its satellite events to "save" baseball in South Florida. A few days of festivities won't save baseball here. What will is an owner who takes advantage of the new ballpark by keeping his word, by spending and fielding strong teams.

1aa1sloaneSPORTS: THE GREAT, UNSCRIPTED DRAMA: I love sports because it writes itself, live, and the ending defies prediction. Sometimes it produces something couldn't-make-it-up bizarre, like the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax. And sometimes it produces drama that might seem too hokey for a movie ending -- except it really happened, like yesterday at the Australian Open. The Stunna Down Unda: American Sloane Stephens, 19 (pictured), a Broward girl, upset her idol, Serena Williams, in the quarterfinals. When too-good-to-be-true is true. That's sports at its best.

Poll result: Lewis edges Harbaughs for biggest Super Bowl storyline: It was 52.3 percent for Ray Lewis' farewell and 42.4% for the coaching Bro Bowl when we asked in the previous blogpost what was the biggest SB storyline. The other 5.3% voted "something else."

GRATUITOUS CHEERLEADER ITEM GOES HERE: I would like to report that the Miami Dolphins 1aa1dolphcheercheerleaders -- no rest for the buxom! -- are currently abroad on a goodwill tour of military bases. The women Tweeted out the photo shown. [Aside to photographer: Showing the backs of cheerleaders may not have been your smartest cinematic option. I'm just sayin']. The women are pictured at Moron Air Base in Spain. Please give the word "Moron" a proper little Spanish tongue-roll and get the emphasis on that second syllable please!

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January 21, 2013

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sing, sort of (with video); plus Jeff Ireland's big plans, Bro Bowl v. Ray Lewis SB poll, the private Ron Fraser & more

1aa1fraserronRon Fraser: Great Coach, Better Man: Longtime former Hurricanes baseball coach, who passed away Sunday at 79, was known for 30 years of winning and for a promotional sense that changed his sport. But his family would like to give you a glimpse of the husband, father and grandfather. Click on Great Coach, Better Man for my latest column, a final tribute to Fraser. Funeral arrangements, events: Visitation will be Sunday Jan. 27 from 10 to 6 at Stanfill Funeral Home, 10545 S. Dixie Hwy., Miami. Funeral Mass will be Monday Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, 5601 S. Flamingo Rd., Southwest Ranches. Private burial will be in Fraser's hometown of Nutley, NJ. Celebration of the Life is scheduled Feb. 23 on campus; details to come. That night's baseball game will be in his honor, with proceeds to a fund to build a bronze statue of Fraser outside stadium. Click HERE to donate to fund. Email UM's Rick Remmert ([email protected]) for more info.

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23. New blogpost coming by midday today. Oh boy! 2) Marlins Park bypassed for 2015 All-Star Game. Gee, can't imagine why baseball wouldn't want to reward a sweet guy like Jeffrey Loria! 3) Fourth Dolphin, DT Randy Starks, added to Pro Bowl, following DT Cameron Wake, G Richie Incognito and long-snapper John Denney. Only Wake originally chosen. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1karaokeHEY! IT'S KARAOKE WITH LEBRON AND D-WADE!: This happened at Shane Battier's second annual "Battioke" fundraiser at the Eden Roc Monday night. Click RIGHT HERE for a video of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on-stage performing. A very rhythmic LeBron does a faithful and surprisingly passable version of Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," then LBJ and Wade duet on a massacred rendition of Shai's "If I Ever Fall In Love," sung to a woman yanked from the crowd. Pictured: A headless LeBron in foreground, Wade with mic and woman who appears to be covering her ears but isn't -- though we wouldn't blame her. The video is 6 minutes. Seems longer. Enjoy!

DOLPHINS' IRELAND: WE WANT PLAYMAKERS, DISRUPTERS: Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland spoke with media yesterday from Senior Bowl in Alabama and made clear what the club's emphasis will be in the draft and free agency. "There's a gap between one and two in our division," he said. "We've got to find guys that are scoring touchdowns, and disrupt the passer on defense." Ireland did not rule out trading out of the No. 12 draft slot, admitted he was "polarizing" to many fans, and said of himself and coach Joe Philbin, "This is a big offseason for us. We understand that. We look forward to making some exciting new before too long."

49ERS-RAVENS SUPER BOWL: RAY LEWIS! BRO BOWL!: Every Super Bowl presents its obvious storylines that the national media will beat to death explore fully, but few SBs offer up two as distinct -- 1aa1lewisrayand legit -- 1aa1harbaughsas 49ers vs. Ravens. One is the historic "Bro Bowl" -- Har-Bowl? Super Baugh? -- between coaching brothers Jim and John Harbaugh. The other is the sure to be over-the-top emotion of a retiring Ray Lewis in the final game of his Hall of Fame career. These two stories probably are why most of you voted for Niners-Ravens as your preferred matchup from four choices in a recent poll of ours, with 47.3 percent. (That, or a simple dislike of the Patriots). But which is the bigger story? Bro Bowl? Or Lewis? That's for you to decide, right here. It's a close call nationally, I'd say. In Greater Miami I'd give the edge to Lewis because he's a former Hurricane and arguably The U's greatest alum ever to play in the NFL. But try to step back and make your pick from a national vantage. Which story interest you most? Or, put another way: Which story will America be most sick of after two weeks of incessant repetitive over-saturation? OK let's go. Vote and say why.

Super Bowl odds: Our friends at Bovada have set 49ers as 4-point favorites over Ravens but say about 60 percent of early action is falling to Baltimore, meaning the line likely will shrink a bit. MVP favorites are Colin Kaepernick 7-4, Joe Flacco 5-2, Ray Lewis 6-1 and Frank Gore 17-2.

PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION / MLK DAY: A thought-provoking juxtaposition this week as the second 1aa1mlkdayinauguration of President Barack Obama occured on the day the nation annually honored its greatest civil-rights icon. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and spoke and fought for basic equality, or at least some humane semblance of it. The election of our first black president always will stand as a symbol of America's progress toward that equality, and by extension as a victory for the cause to which King devoted his life. By the way, visit Memphis not for the barbecue or music or Graceland, but for the National Civil Rights Museum beside the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated in 1968. I toured the NCRM a few months ago was profoundly moved. It is worth the trip.

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R.I.P., Ron Fraser: Legendary former Hurricanes baseball coach passes away after lengthy fight with Alzheimer's

[1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 20. Bro Bowl! 49ers oust Falcons, 28-24, then Ravens upset Patriots, 28-13, making it a Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh Super Bowl. Find our NFL championship-Sunday playoff post in the blog directly below this. 2) Heat today signed Chris "Birdman" Andersen to a 10-day contract, news that seems irrelevant in the context of the loss in the UM family. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1fraserrWE SAY GOODBYE TO RON FRASER, A CANES AND SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS LEGEND: Fraser's passing was announced just before 1 p.m. today. A statement from a family spokesperson read: "It is with profound sorrow we announce the passing of Ron Fraser, husband, father, grandfather, uncle and coach. He was surrounded by his family, after a valiant and courageous battle with Alzheimer's. Arrangements are pending."

Fraser coached University of Miami baseball from 1963 through 1992, and won College World Series championships in 1982 and '85. He was 79. I had known of Ron's fight with Alzheimer's for years but did not write of it out of respect for the family's wishes.

Click here to watch the 5-minute video from Ron's 1995 induction into the UM Sports Hall of Fame.

My most recent column on Fraser was not quite a year ago, on Feb. 17, 2012. I reprint it here, only slightly edited, with great respect:

The concept of time flying surely requires no additional evidence, but I would offer this: The University of Miami is about to begin its 20th baseball season since the retirement of the program's iconic and great coach, Ron Fraser.

It seems like a proper time to reflect, and to appreciate.

Today's Hurricanes - many not born when the "Wizard of College Baseball" left -- are trying to get back to the College World Series after a three-year absence, and the fact a drought so modest weighs in as so unacceptable and nearly unheard of -- simply reflects the standard Fraser set.
UM opens its 2012 season in a stadium officially and elaborately called Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park.
The name is all wrong, of course.
It should be Ron Fraser Stadium. Just that.
George and Ethel Light were generous to donate in the 1970s to the creation of the ballpark and name it after their son Mark, who had died of muscular dystrophy, Miami's famed A-Rod more recently donated $3.9 million for major renovations.
With due respect to those donors, though, Fraser gave more than money to UM baseball. He donated his life, 30 years of it anyway, to rescue a program from the edge of being abolished and see it to the nation's top echelon of success. Along the way, he lifted an entire sport with his salesmanship and marketing sense as the single most important figure in college baseball history.
Fraser is Hurricanes baseball, for sure, and although the Light and Rodriguez names should continue to have their place at the park, the only name on the front of it should be that of the man without whom the stadium would not exist at all. There might be legal hurdles to such a change; they should be overcome.
At the very least, UM should build a statue of Fraser in front of the ballpark, a plan that has been in the talking stage for years and should be made to happen without more delay.
Fraser is 78 now and battling serious health issues; he was unable to be interviewed for this column. All the more reason for that reflection, and appreciation. And for that statue.
What Fraser resurrected, shaped and raised has become the greatest constant on South Florida's tumultuous sports landscape. Canes baseball wins. Relentlessly. The streak of consecutive winning seasons now stands at 54. The consecutive regional (playoff) appearances are a current 39 years, an NCAA record. The CWS national titles Fraser won in 1982 and '85 have been augmented by the two championships led by current coach Jim Morris in 1999 and 2001.
Trace all of it to Fraser arriving on campus in 1963, right around the time "Beatlemania" entered the lexicon. He took on a sinking program that had no money, no uniforms, no scholarships and was about to be erased as a failed experiment by the administration. A box of new baseballs was such an extravagance then that Ron once told me he used to dip scuffed, used baseballs in Pet milk to whiten them for re-use.
He departed in 1992 after 30 years and 30 winning seasons, his legacy one of success, marketing genius and a little gem of a stadium that exists only because he dreamed it.
Fraser is UM's Don Shula, a higher compliment I cannot find.
Morris, beginning his 19th season, was a wonderful choice to replace Fraser and has maintained the winning tradition, but he understands the footsteps and the shadow, too. Those exist almost two decades later. No one is more appreciative of Fraser than the man who inherited what he'd left -- the tradition and the burden as well.
"I remember telling Ron, 'Coach, this is like replacing Bear Bryant, ' " Morris recalled. "Coach Fraser is a father figure, and the most influential guy in my coaching career."
Morris reigns over a program now whose baseballs gleam pearly white inside stacks of boxes, no Pet milk needed anymore to give scuffed old baseballs a makeover.
The newest Hurricanes will run onto the home diamond as the ballpark fills, and it doesn't matter what the name on the outside might say, this is The House that Fraser Built, and always will be.
Twenty years later. Imagine that?
Thank you, Ron.


Live Blog Q&A/Chat No. 16 has ended; next chat Jan. 28

Welcome to Live Blog Chat No. 16: Chat has ended. Thanks to all. Click on 'Comments' below to read a transcript of today's palaver.

January 18, 2013

BRO BOWL! Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh! Ray Lewis! Ravens, 49ers in Super Bowl!; Ravens-Pats next; plus Panthers' big opening night, Jedd Fisch, Earl Weaver, Heat, Lance/Manti & more

1aa1earlw[1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 20. Click on Lance 'n Manti for my Sunday Random Evidence wiseass notes column, led by a skewering of this week's Liefest. 2) R.I.P., Earl Weaver (pictured), dead at 82. The colorful and cantankerous longtime former Orioles manager, who lived in Pembroke Pines, suffered a heart attack while on an O's fantasy cruise in Caribbean. Also, a farewell to the great Stan Musial. 3) WQAM rightly suspended Dan Sileo two days for cartoonishly sexist Tweets about Erin Andrews. C'mon, Sileo. Don't go so low with the shock-jock schtick. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Canes losing offensive coordinator: ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported that Hurricanes OC Jedd Fisch is leaving for the same post with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That's a sizable loss. Be interesting to see what Al Golden does for a replacement, especially now that Mario Cristobal is on the staff.

NFL PREDIX: 49ERS, RAVENS MAKE IT A HAR-BOWL SUPER BOWL: OK, get ready , America, for the onslaught. More Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh than you can stomach. More Ray Lewis farewell than you can stand. Storyline overload! WHOOOOO! Original post: The possibility of a 49ers- 1aa1fripicksRavens Super Bowl -- Jim Harbaugh vs. John Harbaugh in the Bro Bowl -- is pretty good, but won't happen. John's Niners get in. Jim's Crows do not, which means the end of the line for Ray Lewis. Click on Championship Game Gems for full version of this week's latest NFL picks. And on First Family for my Friday NFL column. I write how the Harbaughs have (temporarily) unseated the Mannings atop league's geneological marquee, and on other stuff that makes this year's Final Four a good one no matter who advances. A synopsis of my picks:

1aa1afc-nNFC FINAL: 49ers 28, Falcons 24 -- Atalnta just isn't there yet. Almost blew it a week ago vs. Seattle, and today sqaundered a 17-0 second-quarter lead. Niners clearly the better team and proved it, though SF pushed against the spread. Original post: Home dogs always are so tempting in playoffs (especially with ATL 8-1 at home), but Niners are a more physical and better all-round team, and Falcons defense has had trouble defending the kind of dual-threat QB embodied by Colin Kaepernick. SF has too many weapons. My pick was: 49ers (-4), 24-17.

1aa1afcAFC FINAL: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 -- Pats were 67-0 when leading at halftime under Tom Brady ... until tonight. Give Ravens credit. Big defense and three TD passes by Joe Flacco. Original post: I like Baltimore getting nine points but not outright in the first AFC title-game rematch since 1986-87. Ravens usually defend Tom Brady comparatively well, but you just don't bet against Brady at home in winter-time, even missing Rob Gronkowski again. My pick was: Patriots (-9), 34-27.

HOCKEY'S BACK, EH! ROOKIE HUBERDEAU LEADS CATS' BIG IN OPENER: Panthers routed Carolina 5-1 last night here to launch the NHL season, with a goal and two assists from rookie Jonathan Huberdeau,

1aa1huberhatthe player of the game. Click on Earning the Ridiculous Red Hat for my column off the game. This season the Cats are having their guy voted player of the game wear a Three Musketeers-style hat in postgame interviews, and last night it looked more like a playful rookie hazing of the 19-year-old Huberdeau (pictured). Love it! Original post: Better late than never, Florida Panthers open their 19th NHL season tonight vs. Carolina in the Sunrise ice barn. I'll be there battling a deadline column. Cats won their first-ever division title last year to end a long playoff drought, and Carolina is one of the teams they'll have to beat to do that again so it's a big division test out the gate. Every game will seem a little bigger this season with the schedule truncated from 82 games to 48. Honestly I don't follow hockey intently but I do follow the Panthers closely. Love what GM Dale Tallon has done since arriving in 2010, second-year coach Kevin Dineen looks like the real deal, and I'm eager to see if young Jonathan Huberdeau will add needed scoring punch. Cats have a really good mix of veterans and rising talent. I had a nice long conversation with Dineen the other day and from that petri dish arose this preview column.

ALL IS WELL WITH HEAT AGAIN! (UNTIL NEXT LOSS...): Heat, off until Wednesday, ended a 3-3 western road swing on a high in L.A., 99-90 over the Lakers. Blearily I stayed up 'til 1:30 to watch LeBron James net 39 points, Dwyane Wade hit 27, and Kobe Bryant get hot too late. LeBron affirmed his BPE status (Best Player on Earth) for any doubters out there. Miami has struggled on the road and the Lakers are struggling, period, but this game still had an event/marquee feel and it was a nice win for the Heat. Lakers had the inside size to (theoretically) match up well with Miami, but tenacious D (pictured) and 

1aa1d-tenLeBron at his best were plenty. So it's official, then. All is well and Heat-repeat chances look good again. Until the next loss, of course. With this team, premature panic never quite disappears, right? It just lays dormant ... waiting.

Poll result: Manti Lie'o: We asked in the previous blogpost if you thought Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o was a liar or the victim of a hoax in the bizarre dead-girlfriend-who-never existed story. More than two-thirds, 68.4 percent, said liar, and only 6.7% said victim. Another 24.9% voted "not sure."

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