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21 posts from January 2013

January 17, 2013

Manti Te'o: Liar? Or victim? New poll. Vote now!; plus my own hoax, LeBron whips Lakers, Canes hoops, Lance's confessional & more

[1) It is FRIDAY, JANUARY 18. Brand new blogpost coming later this morning. A journalism professor once told me "brand new" was redundant. She may be right. I ignore her anyway. 2) Season debut of American Idol last night was more palatable than I'd imagined. Nicki Minaj adds something. Plus, credibility points for bouncing the one-legged guy. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

WHAT TO MAKE OF THE INCREDIBLE MANTI TE'O STORY: Yes, and Touchdown Jesus wept. Again. It isn't bad enough Notre Dame got schooled by Nick Saban's Alabama in the BCS National Championship that 1aa1mantiMiami hosted. Now its signature player, linebacker and Heisman runnerup Manti Te'o, is exposed as, well ... as what? He would be a liar of Lance-esque proportion (only much more creative) if we believe the Deadspin piece (here) that reported Manti completely made up the non-existent girlfriend who supposedly died of leukemia in November. Or ... Manti could be the victim of a heartless prank, as Notre Dame and Te'o now claim. Liar or victim. In this case there doesn't seem much gray area. Liar or victim? For the record, I lean to thinking Te'o contrived the whole tale, but am not sure. I invite you to vote and share your own thoughts.

When I was the victim of a (much smaller) hoax: Media outlets all over the country including this one were victims of the Manti Te'o/dead-girlfriend story, reporting it as fact. I sympathize. As a young 1aa1kenfreporter in 1982 I wrote what I thought was a nice, timely little story about how Fort Lauderdale Strikers soccer player Ken Fogarty (pictured) was worried because his sister was on a British military vessel headed to the Falklands War. Turned out Fogarty, a prankster, made the whole thing up. A certain trust is in play when media and subjects intersect. Should somebody have asked Te'o to see his girlfriend's death certificate? Should I have called the Royal Navy to confirm Fogarty's story? Maybe yes on both. But only in the clarity of retrospect.

1aa1lebkobLEBRON'S 39 LIFTS HEAT PAST LAKERS: LeBron's 39 points and Dwyane Wade's 27 powered Heat over Lakers in L.A., 99-90, late last night. Impressive win, and big show by the Big 2 after each was named an all-star starter earlier in the day. The result reignited the hope in Miami fans that, yes, there is a switch that this team is able to find, and flip. Original post: The Heat crushed Golden State last night as LeBron James breezed past 20,000 career points younger than anyone else. Now, tonight, it's Heat at Lakers and, yes, for this one I will stay up 'til 1 a.m. Lakers have won a couple in a row but still struggle off playoff pace. Miami is only 9-9 on the road. No matter. This is still a marquee, statement, event game, a stage on which both teams will want to bring the A-game and really perform. Can't wait! 1aa1cookie[Update: Remember last week when LeBron bragged that the pressure on the Lakers is "nowhere near what we went through"? Kobe Bryant today was asked about that. His response: "What does he want, a cookie?"]

UM HOOPS' NICE RUN, HUGE TEST: The nice run: A 13-3 record, five wins in a row and a pristine 4-0 ACC mark for Jim Larranaga's men. I'm-a start to float conspiracy theories if the Canes are still not ranked in the next poll. The huge test: This coming Wednesday, UM hosts No. 3 Duke. We'll be a college basketball hotbed ... at least for the night.

ANTICLIMACTICALLY INTO THE CONFESSIONAL WITH LANCE ARMSTRONG: Last night was the much-hyped interview with Oprah Winfrey in which shamed cyclist Lance Armstrong came clean about his PED use after years of indignant denials. "One big lie," he admitted. (I imagined the interview would star Oprah with an occasional appearance by Lance). It was the interview we already knew so much about there was almost no need to watch. It was on the network we have never seen and have no idea how to find.

Poll result: Support for Dolphins' stadium plan, but not strong: We asked in the previous blogpost if you supported the Dolphins' plan for a $400 million stadium improvement that would be shared equally by owner Stephen Ross and tax dollars. Yes won with 57.4 percent. Yes-but-only-if-Ross-pays had 35.6%. Only 5.1% thought the stadium was fine as is, and 1.9% were undecided.

THINGS GREG COTE PONDERS BUT SELDOM TALKS ABOUT (one in a series): With no evident protest or uproar, the classic 100-watt light bulb evidently is being phased out. Publix now maxes out at 75 watts. Updates as warranted.

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January 15, 2013

Dolphins' $400 million stadium plan: Yes or no? Poll. Vote now!; plus Manti Te'o hoax, Kiper's pick for Miami, Heat woes, UM/NCAA, Lyin' Lance & more

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16. Season debut of American Idol tonight. Used to be a guilty pleasure of mine, but less and less. Maybe give it one more shot. 2) Congrats to ex-Canes assistant coach Marc Trestman, new head coach of the Chicago Bears. 3) Did I like the season debut of Shameless? Yes. Mostly. Although the Mexico/drugs storyline with Frank seemed a bizarre tangient that didn't quite fit the show. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Kiper says: Cordarrelle Patterson No. 1 for Dolphs: That would be Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson who turns up No. 12 to Miami in the first Mock Draft of ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Patterson played only one year for Vols after two in junior college, but His Kiperness notes the size (6-3, 205), good hands and run-after-catch ability. Haven't seen Patterson in many mocks or first-round projections so this guess smells like a reach, but we'll see.

DOES DOLPHINS' $400 MILLION STADIUM PLAN HAVE PUBLIC SUPPORT? YOU TELL STEPHEN ROSS, NOW, RIGHT HERE: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants $400 million in stadium improvements, is willing to pay a little more than half and wants public funds to pay for the rest. Are you on board? The poll below is 1aa1canopyyour forum. The Dolphins want you to know that major area hotels are backing their plan to better attract future Super Bowls and big events. The InterContinental Miami, Trump National Doral and Loews Miami Beach are the first on board. No doubt others will follow. Hmm. Naturally major hotels are on board because big events mean visitors and revenue. But wouldn't it be nice if these hotels were willing to give as well as get? This big-ticket remodeling is outlined as a typical team/taxpayer consortium, with the Dolphins and Ross paying about half and you the public (they hope) absorbing the rest. But why shouldn't private enterprise that stands to benefit also contribute? Hotels, major restaurants, car-rental companies ... why do they get the windfall of a local Super Bowl that (theoretically) comes with a better stadium while contributing nothing to that better stadium but their spoken support? Anyway, I digress. Back to reality. The renovated stadium, including a giant canopy, is pictured. Now here's the poll. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Best Super Bowl? 49ers-Ravens, the Bro Bowl: We asked your preferred Super Bowl matchup in previous blogpost and 49ers-Ravens -- the duel of coach-brothers Jim and John Harbaugh -- won with 47.1 percent, followed by 49ers-Patriots 32.8%, Falcons-Ravens 15.5% and Falcons-Pats 4.6%. Combine totals and team you most want to see is 49ers 79.9, Ravens 62.6, Pats 37.4 and Falcons 20.1.

BIZARRE: MANTI TE'O: HOAXER OR HOAX VICTIM?: This is almost too weird/unbelievable/delicious to be true: A report today by Deadspin (click here) suggesting that Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o completely made up the tragic November death of supposed girlfriend Lennay Kekua, who apparently never existed. Notre Dame in turn has issued a statement claiming Te'o is not the liar here, but rather the victim of a terrible hoax. I'll not jump to conclusions like so many have. But you an bet we'll be following this. (Hey. Maybe the whole Manti Te'o liar/hoax story was planted by Lance Armstrong to take a little heat off!)

FOOT-DRAGGING NCAA MUST GIVE UM CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED, PUNISHMENT PAID: UM is now into its fourth calendar year living this Nevin Shapiro mess and NCAA probe. The university already has self-sacrificed two bowl games and an ACC championship game, suspended eight players for 19 games, self-imposed football scholarship limits and, in effect, served two years of probation even before the NCAA has issued its sanctions. That should count for a lot, I write in my latest column. Click on Credit For Time Served to read. Some will see me as an apologist for the Hurricanes. No. They have punishment coming. My point is, much of that punishment already has been served. UM has been a model for how to properly respond, and the NCAA needs to take that into full account.

HEAT STRUGGLES: JUST A BAD TRIP, OR REAL ISSUES? SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT: The defending champs seem in disarray, mentally beat up a bit. They are 4-6 in past 10 games and 8-9 on the road 1aa1eriksincluding 1-3 so far on this six-game swing out west. It's more than that, though. There was a veneer of lethargy to Monday night's 104-97 loss at Utah. "Low energy," LeBron James called it afterward. There also seem to be little fissures of dissension, things for coach Erik Spoelstra (pictured) to deal with. Chris Bosh has second-guessed the team's change in strategy, to smaller-ball, to "positionless." Bosh hardly played down the stretch last night. Dwyane Wade didn't get off the bench at all in the fourth quarter and obviously was not thrilled. "Coach makes the calls, I'm just a player," he said afterward. How do you not play Wade and Bosh in crunch time? A fair question for Spoelstra. (Perhaps one he has heard from Pat Riley). Panic time? No. Crisis? No. But all is not well with the Heat. All is not right. Not on the court, or off it. Something needs fixing. Mending.

LYIN' LANCE ARMSTRONG: AMERICAN CHEAT: Shamed, defrocked Tour de France icon Lance Armstrong 1aa1armstronglcomes clean to Oprah about his PED use, but how many years too late? It isn't so much his doping that galls here, it's all those years that Armstrong looked America in the eye and flat-out lied. He not only proclaimed his innocence, he was indignant at the accusations. Incredulous. All the while his fight with cancer and his good works with the Livestrong Foundation were held up as shields against the scrutiny. 'How dare you accuse me!?' Liar. Cheater. Turd. What a hypocritical fraud.

1aa1gagagunGAGA AND THE GUN BRA: Lady Gaga is in trouble with gun-control groups -- especially in light of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut -- for wearing in concert a bra with toy guns attached. I think she has a right to be as desperately outlandish as she wants to be. I also see the sensitivity, given the timing. Mostly, I've just always been looking for an excuse to picture a gun bra, which to me looks like something a beautiful counter-spy might have used to try to kill Bond in a 1960s' 007 film.

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January 14, 2013

The Super Bowl matchup you most want: New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphin$, Heat Big 5@35, Snoop Dogg at Last Supper, Jodie Foster & more

Live blog chat: Thanks to all who joined our live blog chat today. We do it every most Mondays 1-2 p.m. Wall to wall today. Crammed almost 90 Q's/A's into 60 minutes. Not bad. My digits are tired. Thanks again.

1aa1corv14[1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 14. Heat's championship ceremony at White House scheduled for Jan. 28. As big a basketball fan as the president is, bet Obama is looking forward to the visit as much as the players. 2) Chevrolet revealed its 2014 Corvette today (pictured). Not sure, but thinking I might have to go get me one. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

NFL FINAL FOUR VARIETY: WHICH SUPER BOWL MATCHUP YOU LIKE BEST?: These NFL playoffs took a hit with Denver's ouster. The league and TV could not have done 1aa1finalfour 1aa1finalfour2better, for interest or ratings, than with Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. Nevertheless next Sunday's AFC and NFC championship games present some interesting combinations, with all four teams offering something unique. Atlanta gives us the only team of the Final Four after its first Super Bowl win. Baltimore gives us the possible storybook ending for the retiring great ex-Cane, Canton-bound Ray Lewis in. New England gives us Tom Brady and Bill Belichick trying to reawaken their dynasty. And San Francisco gives us the electric Colin Kaepernick off his record-setting performance. Ravens vs. Niners additionally would give us the Bro Bowl: coaching brothers Jim vs. John Harbaugh. Pitcured left to right: Lewis, Brady, Kaepernick and Matt Ryan. Which possible Super Bowl matchup do you most want to see and why?

Super Bowl odds: Courtesy of our friends at Bovada, Patriots an even-odds 1-1 to win the Super Bowl, followed by Niners 2-1, Falcons 11-2 and Ravens 15-2. Matchup picks are Pats-49ers 5-6, Pats-Falcons 9-4, Ravens-Niners 6-1 and Ravens-Falcons 9-1.

DOLPHINS WANT YOUR MONEY. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross today laid out a plan for about $400 million in stadium improvements and seeks about half of that in public money. Roughly $100 mill of the cost would go to erecting a giant canopy to shield patrons from the sun or rain. Getting the public money will be a tough go for three reasons: 1) I think most fans (taxpayers) think the stadium is fine as is. 2) Attracting a future Super Bowl, the main reason for the money-grab, is not nearly as important to fans (taxpayers) as it is to local politicos. And 3) what the Marlins did makes this a hard climate for the Dolphins.

HEAT BIG 5 @ 35: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so this season 1aa1heat5we started this 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. We continue with The Big 5 @ 35 Games (24-11:

Rank (@30)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   1,313.1

2 (2)   Chris Bosh   878.8

3 (3)   Dwyane Wade   835.4

4 (4)   Ray Allen   545.1

5 (5)   Mario Chalmers   525.1

Bubble: Udonis Haslem, 345.5

1aa1snoopFUNNY VS. BLASPHEMY: What is funny to me might be sacrilege to others, but I am willing to push that line on occasion, because as a general rule I think people take themselves too seriously and that "lighten up" applies to most everybody. Here, above, an animated Snoop Dogg at the Last Supper is amusing to me. Not even sure why. Just is. I may be wrong.

GREG COTE'S FREE TIPS FOR PROPER LIVING (GCFTFPL): One in a series. Today: Backing in. Drivers, 1aa1backinwhen in a crowded parking lot surrounded by other drivers all jockeying for a spot, do not back in. It is unnecessary, and rightfully annoys your fellow drivers, who immediately I.D. you as a self-absorbed jerk even if you are not. The only time backing in is considered necessary or at least prudent is A) when unloading from the car or truck, B) when burglarizing a home (so neighbors can't see your license plate), or C) when committing an armed robbery such as a bank heist conducive to a rapid getaway.

JODIE FOSTER AT THE GLOBES: I'm not sure I have ever seen or heard a celebrity come out as gay quite as carefully or artfully -- or defiantly --  as Jodie Foster did last night at the Golden Globes. She (sort of) confirmed what was widely known, while also blasting the culture that all but forces celebs out of the closet, like it or not. Very interesting. Best few minutes of the night.  

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Live Blog Q&A / Chat No. 15 has ended; next chat Jan. 21

Welcome to Live Blog Chat No. 15: Thanks to all participants. Great response. We do this every Monday expect on holidays and when I forget, from 1-2 p.m. today. Click on 'Comments' below for transcript of today's palaver. See you next Monday at 1.

January 11, 2013

NFL playoffs: Final Four set! It's BAL-NE, ATL-SF in title games; plus Heat win a road game, Cats, UM, Tuna/Sapp, Bacon Bar, Oscars & more

1aa1crappily[1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 13. Welcome to the No. 1 Blog Community at MiamiHerald.com. Congratulations, and thank you! 2) Pictured right: The new TV season, starting tonight, to which I am most looking forward. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Cats on ice: Florida Panthers to open their truncated 48-game NHL season next Saturday the 19th at home vs. Carolina.

UM 2013 ACC football schedule: Home games vs. Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Roadies at Duke, Florida State, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

Sapp, Parcells make Hall cut: Ex-Cane Warren Sapp among four first-time eligibles to make cut to 15 finalists for Hall of Fame induction, with Michael Strahan, Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen. Ex-Dolphins exec Bill Parcells also still in it. So, too, briefly-a-Dolphin Cris Carter.  

1aa1fripixNFL PLAYOFF PREDIX: WILD SATURDAY; CAN SUNDAY LIVE UP?: OK, college season is done. Time for King Sport to rise up like the Loch Ness monster and take over 1aa1divpoAmerica. Round 2 of the NFL playoffs: The Final Eight. Borderline teams gone, only serious contenders left. Now the Final Six, with favored Denver and Green Bay put to bed yesterday. Our four picks for this weekend are synopsized here. I found the two AFC games easy calls, the two NFC games thornier. Click on NFL Playoff Round 2 Gems for the full picks. And click Looking Ahead is OK for my predix-page column on the delightful anticipation of the inevitable likely Denver-New England/Manning-Brady AFC title game. One word: Oops. The thumbnails, chronologically:

FINAL: RAVENS 38, BRONCOS 35 (2OT) -- I was right on the close game/tough fight for Denver and right on Manning tending to struggle in freezing temps. It was the collapse of Denver's defense that stunned me. Original post: Many fans and prognosticating brethren expect a rout by Denver. I don't. Peyton Manning's playoff record when the kickoff temp is below 40 -- 0-3, one TD, seven picks -- could make this interesting if Ray Lewis' D can get into his pocket at all. [My pick was: Broncos (-9), 27-21. My record: Week, 0-1 overall and 1-0 vs. spread. Playoffs, 4-1 and 1-4].

FINAL: 49ERS 45, PACKERS 31 -- I had it way wrong on the QB contrast. Colin Kaepernick's 263 yards throwing and 181 running, wow. I could not have underestimated him more. Original post: Upset. Heavyweight duel is teams' first playoff meeting since 2001. See why Niners are favored but give me Aaron Rodgers, one of the all-time great postseason passers, to out-pitch an inexperienced-on-this-stage Colin Kaepernick. [My pick was: Packers (+3), 28-27. My record: Week, 0-2 overall and 1-1 vs. spread. Playoffs, 4-2 and 1-5].

FINAL: FALCONS 30, SEAHAWKS 28 -- Insanity! Falcons blow 20-0 lead, fall behind late, and win on 49-yard FG in closing seconds. They were Chokelanta, but then Matt Ryan came through and the ATL is at san Fran in next week's NFC title game. Original post: Folks wring hands over the Falcs' 0-3 playoff mark under Mike Smith/Matt Ryan, but ATL is a very good home team (7-1). And wrap the mind around this: No West Coast team since the 1989 L.A. Rams has won two playoff games in a row in the East. [My pick was: Falcons (-2 1/2), 24-20. My record: Week, 1-2 overall and 1-2 vs spread. Playoffs, 5-2 and 1-6].

FINAL: PATRIOTS 41, TEXANS 28 -- In many ways the most expected of the four weekend results. There were 276 points in these four divisional games including 154 by the winners. Did somebody tell the defenses to stay home? Original post: For me this is the biggest certainty of the four games. Pats are 13-3 all-time at home in the postseason. Tom Brady, at The Razor Blade, in deep winter, is money. He just is. And Houston, especially Matt Schaub's offense, does not seem in synch. [My pick was: Patriots (-9 1/2), 34-20. My record: Week, 2-2 overall and 2-2 vs. spread. Playoffs, 6-2 and 2-6].

ROAD WORRIERS?: HEAT TURN WARRIORS LAST NIGHT: Update: Miami wins at Sacramento last night. Original post: The 92-90 loss at Portland Thursday hurt for two reasons. First, the Heat led all the way until allowing a late 24-10 Blazers run that collapsed the night for Miami. Second, you could see real effort from the Heat in terms of defense and rebounding (which was tied 45-45). Palpably, this was a game they wanted. Instead the road record slips to 7-8 including losses in four of the past five away. Another downer: LeBron James' mortal 15 points ended his streak of 20-plus points at 33 games, longest in the NBA since 1981-82. (Love ya anyway, 'Bron). It isn't time to panic. The No. 1 East seed still is likely. But in terms of repeating as champions? That bandwagon has plenty of good seats available.

1aa1baconGOBLETS OF BACON ON THE BAR!: Wife had a business dinner at Prime 112 on South Beach the other night, and noticed over pregame drinks that the bar offered up goblets of bacon as a gratis snack. Sort of like a bowl of nuts on steroids. See the photo for proof. I find this funny because a goblet 'o bacon sounds like something a barbecue joint would serve, or something the Clampetts would have on the table when Mr. Drysdale came for dinner. The opposite of chic, in other words. But because Prime 112 does it? Uber trendy! Forgot to ask my wife if the restaurant bar had a cardiologist standing by.

OSCAR BEST-PICTURE ANALYSIS: The upcoming 85th Academy Awards will select a Best Picture from among nine newly announced finalist films: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern 1aa1abelWild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty. I am canceling my analysis in protest because they should go back to five finalists; nine is way too many. Also, because I happened to not see any of the nine films mentioned. (I did see Ted, which recklessly was not nominated). Two of the nine films I may yet see -- Zero Dark Thirty, about the Bin Laden raid, and Lincoln, about the vampire hunter who went on to become 16th president -- therefore I hope those movies win everything.

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January 10, 2013

Heat: Get off analyst's couch and rebound the damned ball!; plus UM hires Cristobal, Dolphins sign 7, Cooperstown, verdict on Arison-Loria-Ross & more

1aa1alacover1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 10. How is Katherine Webb, Miss Alabama, not on the cover of this latest Sports Illustrated!? OUTRAGE! 2) Dolphins today signed seven players, none of them people most of us have heard of. Click here for the info. 3) Am back today at the prestigious Guesswork Laboratories to cook up my next NFL playoff predictions. Guards have been instructed to deny entry to the Upset Bird. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

UM'S GOLDEN HIRES CRISTOBAL: University of Miami football coach Al Golden has hired recently fired FIU coach Mario Cristobal as the Canes' new associate head coach. Strong hire. Smart. Cristobal, an ex-Cane, is a bright young guy who was stupidly canned by FIU. He solidifies Golden's staff and will be big in local recruiting. (He also gives the staff a potential natural and experienced successor to Golden if and when Al would depart -- the mere mention of which should not constitute a rumor, please!).

HEAT: ENOUGH SELF-ANALYSIS. FLEX MUSCLE AND JUST PLAY!: Maybe it eminates from coach Erik Spoelstra, who tends to talk in New Age psyche-speak, but a tiring air of self-analysis has enveloped the 1aa1merebHeat, which leads the NBA East with a 23-10 record and yet seems wrapped in gloom. Yesterday LeBron James said the team must look inward to solve the rebounding woes he called Miami's "kryptonite." Earlier, Chris Bosh second-guessed Spoelstra's position-less idea and said the Heat should play a system that creates more rebound opportunities. What's next? D-Wade staring into Oprah's doe eyes? Miami doesn't need more self-analysis or outward over-analysis. Miami needs to toughen up and flex it muscle -- the physical and mental kind. There may come a time when sage Pat Riley needs to pull Spoelstra aside and tell him ask him what's best for this team and this season. For now, the problem isn't who's on the team or isn't, or who's on the floor or isn't. The problem is epitomized by the following: Bosh is playing center. He is almost 7-feet tall. Why is he averaging only 5.8 rebounds a game? Get off the analyst's coach and hit the glass, Heat. Quick whining and thinking and hand-wringing and start acting like champions, dammit.

BASEBALL, COOPERSTOWN SHOULD RE-THINK HALL VOTING: I tackle this more fully in my latest column; click on The Easy Call, Not The Right One for my take on yesterday's exclusion of (notably) Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Two points: 1) Hall of Fame voters should stop banning anyone who ever used steroids and 1aa1bondsroginstead start making a distinction: Did the PED use appreciably cause those Hall-worthy numbers? Or not? In Bonds and Clemens' cases, they were having Cooperstown-ready careers long before any steroids taint. 2) But I also believe players of the Steroid Era who do get into the Hall eventually should see their bronze plaque tell the whole truth, and mention steroids. Baseball and the Hall must adapt to reality. When you start excluding players the caliber of Bonds, Clemens and, soon, Alex Rodriguez because steroids played a relatively minor role in their careers, there is a punitive vindictiveness in play that does not serve the sport well. Voters, it's simple: If you think a guy's career was substantially boosted by steroids or you have serious doubts, vote no. But if you think a guy had the credentials pre-steroids, then please step down from the moral soapbox and vote him in. Postscript: I know many of you don't agree and find my latest column every bit as popular as the so-called "Trade Marino" column or my recent praise of Nick Saban. I am not including a poll here on yesterday's Hall vote because I had a similar poll in the blog a few months ago, and sure enough few of you thought Bonds (16.8 percent support) or Clemens (16.3) deserved to be elected.

FASCINATING DIVERGENCE ON ARISON, LORIA, ROSS: I am thoroughly intrigued by results from our latest poll, in the previous blogpost, on grades for our Big 3 team owners: Heat's Micky Arison, Marlins' Jeffrey Loria and Dolphins' Stephen Ross. More than 4,000 have voted (you still may), and results do not surprise but are nonetheless telling. A synopsis:

1aa1arisonArison's grade: Excellent -- He got an 'A' from 90.2 percent and an 'A' or 'B' from 97.7%. That is extraordinary number for any poll, anywhere, on any subject, under any circumstances. I could ask if you approve of love, peace and happiness and I doubt it would get that close to unanimity.

1aa1loriaLoria's grade: Awful -- The polar opposite of Arison in many ways. Loria received an 'F' grade from 84.4 percent and an 'F' or 'D' from 94.4%. And this is a guy who just got a new stadium built! Loria needs to acknowledge this animus, deal with it and start repairing his image. Desperately.

1aa1rossRoss' grade: Mixed -- A plurality of 44.3 percent graded Ross a middle-ground 'C.' But it is interesting to note that combined D's and F's far outnumbered combined A's or B's. That tells us that opinions on Ross are not set hard like those of Arison or Loria, but are shading toward negative.

1aa1psyPOLLS I SHOULD RUN BUT WON'T (one in a series): "In three years, Psy, the Gangnam Style singer, will be..." A) Still a popular performer. B) Dating Miss Alabama. C) Dating Brent Musberger. Or D) Washing my windshield with a wet newspaper at an intersection.

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January 08, 2013

Grade owners Arison, Loria and Ross. Three polls. Vote!; plus Bonds/Clemens hall snub, Musberger & the beauty queen, Heat, 'Bama/UM & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9. Heat today signed forward Jarvis Varnado to 10-day contract. 2) From Bovada: Alabama an early (really early) 5-1 favorite to repeat as national champ, following by Oregon 8-1 and Ohio State 17-2. Florida and FSU lurking at 14-1. UM Canes tied for 11th at 25-1. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Roll Tide! Miami crowns unfavorite son Saban; UM gets a hard lesson: You could have an arduous debate whether Monday's 42-14 rout was due to Alabama's wonderfulness or Notre Dame proving overrated. I'll take the former. Click on Give The Devil His Due for my column off the game centered on Saban's continued reign. Another quick thought more parochial: 'Bama destroyed the Irish; Irish dominated the Canes this season. I think we just got a measure on how far UM is from being championship caliber.

GRADE MIAMI'S BIG 3 SPORTS-TEAM OWNERS: They have been in the news lately. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had his postseason state-of-the-team address this week (he likes his Philbin/Tannehill 1aa1ross 1aa1loria 1aa1arisonfrontline and says he'll open his wallet to win). Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, of course, was at the center of the latest cost-cutting, angering many fans. Even Heat owner Micky Arison, more of a background guy, made news with a Tweet tweaking Heat fans for not being satisfied. [I am purposely but without malice excluding the Florida Panthers' owner Cliff Viner, who simply is not known to nearly the degree of the other three]. Arison, Loria and Ross are pictured, left to right. This is not a poll on your favorite or least favorite team, but on these three men and their ownership/leadership. I invite you to step back and look at all of the Big 3 owners with fresh eyes and a big-picture perspective here. For example, should one weigh credit for the new ballpark against any animus toward Loria? By however you think a team owner ought to be judged, give a grade to each and say why. There are three polls below, followed by other bloggy stuff.


HALL VOTERS TAKE EASY ROAD ON BONDS/CLEMENS, BUT NOT RIGHT ONE: Today nobody was elected for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996 -- with notable snubs led by first-time balloteers Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the Steroids Era poster children. Click on Voters Predictable, But Not Right for my latest column, online now and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Craig Biggio's 68.2 percent of the vote came closest to the required 75%. Clemens (37.6) and Bonds (36.2) garnered around half the needed support. Local aside: Of 37 men on the ballot, 11 including "Mr. Marlin" Jeff Conine got zero votes.

ON MUSBERGER AND THE BEAUTY QUEEN: I tried to avoid this topic but ESPN forced my hand with its stupid public apology for Brent Musberger's comments about Miss Alabama during Monday's BCS National Championship at Dolphins stadium. You are in a coma in Tibet if you don't know by now that Miss 1aa1ala 1aa1brentA is Katherine Webb and that she dates 'Bama QB AJ McCarron. Well, of course, she was shown on screen for about 30 seconds during the game -- it was a game where diversions from the actual football were welcome -- and a very-impressed Musberger called her a "lovely lady" and said "What a beautful woman!" and added: "Wow. Whoa!" It was cartoon-sexist but also harmless, like a playfully lecherous wink from Gramps, especially from a 73-year-old broadcaster who also used the word "youngsters" in the same sound bite. But hypocritical ESPN huffed and puffed and said, "We apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that." Two thoughts. 1) ESPN should apologize for itself, if anything. It was in their production meeting that someone surely mentioned the need to exploit capitalize on the star player having a sexy girlfriend. 2) Have we really reached a point where a TV commentator cannot remark favorably on the appearance of a woman who exploits trades in her own good looks? Seriously? This woman promenades in bleepin' BEAUTY PAGEANTS! Her entire being and life's goal is encapsulated by a sash that reads, AREN'T I HOT!? She is Miss !@#$ing Alabama! But old Brent can't say she's beautful!? Good lord on a horse.

HEAT OPEN ROAD TRIP BADLY: Miami lost 87-77 in Indy last night, a season low for points scored, but the story again was rebounding, or lack of. Heat got out-boarded 55-36, including 22-7 on the offensive end. Warning signs, or at least concern signs, continue for Miami.

Birdman to Heat?: Miami worked out and is considering signing unemployed center Chris "Birdman" Anderson, 34, the former Denver free-spirit who is an aggressive rebounder (a Heat need) but mostly known for his tattoos, evolving hair styles and, well, weirdness. He'd be an interesting hire. For the rebounds, and for the variety. Maybe a jolt in the dressing room would do the team some good.

SAFE-DRIVING SONGS: A study by London Metropolitan University (which obviously has more grant money than it needs) has determined the 10 songs most conducive to safe driving. It's related to heartbeat or pulse rate or some such thing. Click here for the story and list. Hint: One of the song's lyrics is (or should be): "Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer. Don't hit those other headlights on the hiiiighway..."

1aa1chickfilaFUNNY FAKE ADS THAT SEEM REAL: Many know that the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain is owned by a very conservative family that leans on the Bible to oppose homesexuality. It is why many boycott Chick-fil-A and why others have rallied behind it. With all that in mind, I find this spoof ad funny.   

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January 07, 2013

Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14: ROLL TIDE! 'Bama, Saban continue reign!; plus Ross' Dolphins promise, Arison's Heat Tweet, NFL playoffs & more

[1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 7. Welcome to Championship Day in South Florida. 2) Heat today waived Josh Harrellson. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Big -- Even For Us for my column today advancing the Tide-Irish title game. I write of the history of Greater Miami hosting games on sports' biggest stage, and how this ranks.

ROLL TIDE!: ALABAMA, SABAN REIGN AGAIN!: Crimson Tide crush Fighting Irish, 42-14. Alabama completely dominated Notre Dame tonight at Dolphins stadium, leading early and once up 35-0 before the Irish made the score seem less lopsided than it really was. Eddie Lacy (140 yards rushing) was the game's MVP. My vote went to QB AJ McCarron (four TD passes).

1aa1bcsALABAMA-NOTRE DAME: YOU MIGHT WANT BOTH TO LOSE, BUT ONE HAS TO WIN: We asked back in early December, when this matchup first was known, which team you hoped would win, and 60.2 percent voted Notre Dame. Now let's take the hope out of it and find out which team you 1aa1aland2predict will win. Not against the spread, just straight up. Who'll reign as champion at Dolphins stadium around midnight tonight? I doubt Irish or Tide fans can vote dispassionately, so I'm counting on those who don't have a rooting interest or who hate both equally to step back and be steered by mind, not heart. You have $100 to place on either team winning outright. Where's your money go?  Vote and say why.

Crystal championship trophy traces roots to Miami: The Waterford crystal trophy Alabama or Notre Dame will win tonight traces to South Florida. The UM Sports Hall of Fame informs us the locally based Gerrits Foundation teamed with the UPI Coaches Poll to create the trophy in 1986. The foundation was formed by three Gerrits brothers (all UM graduates) to honor their father, Edward, who founded Gerrits Construction here in 1945. The family affiliation with the trophy ended in 1990, but the trophy itself endures.

OWNER SPEAKS: ARISON TWEET TWEAKS SPOILED HEAT FANS: Heat owner Micky Arison's Sunday Tweet: When did being 1st in the East at the beginning of January become not good enough for some @MiamiHEAT fans? Hmm. I get Arison's point. First is first. It's harsh if you look at team's record and see disappointment first. Arison must appreciate fans' concerns, though. Lack of rebounding has been a real issue, and two or three teams in the West seem capable, at this point, of beating Miami.    

OWNER SPEAKS II: DOLPHINS' ROSS VOWS TO OPEN WALLET: Owner Stephen Ross held his season-wrapup news conference today and promised, "I don't care what it costs. I'm willing to do whatever it takes" to build a winner. Ross said he believes in draft above free agency but won't hesitate to spend in the latter of right players are there. Ross also reiterates his belief that Miami has the "right guys" in coach Joe Philbin and QB Ryan Tannehill. Said those are any team's two most important ingredients, adding, "I think we have them."

NFL PLAYOFFS: ROUND 1 AND LOOKING AHEAD: The weekend's four wild-card games were a letdown, decided by 6, 14, 15 and 10 points. None came down to an exciting finish. The only real drama was A) 1aa1lewisr 1aa1rg3the likely home farewell of Ray Lewis (left) in Baltimore, and B) Mike Shanahan's handling of Robert Griffin III's (right) knee injury at Washington. Doubt it would have changed the result, but Shanahan would have served RG3 -- and his team -- better by putting in a healthy Kirk Cousins sooner. Looking ahead to next weekend and the Final Eight, the initial gut feeling is that the two AFC games are easy picks but that the two NFC games are toughies. Broncos over Ravens and Patriots over Texans seem clear calls for the home teams. Packers-at-Niners and Seahawks-at-Falcons will require some deeper thought.

Updated Super Bowl odds: New from Bovada, the numbers bear out what I said above regarding the next round of games. Updated SB odds: Broncos 11-4, Patriots 7-2, 49ers and Packers both 6-1, Falcons and Seahawks both 7-1, and Texans and Ravens both 18-1. 

Poll result: Broncos, Ravens the fan favorites: We asked in the previous blogpost which of the 12 playoff teams you most hope wins the Super Bowl, and the three to draw double-figure support were the Broncos (21.6 percent), Ravens (17.8) and Seahawks (11.8). That's the power and popularity of Peyton.

1aa1bessdBESS CITED FOR TECHNIQUE: Davone Bess is the only Dolphin honored among 26 NFL players on USA Football's 2012 All-Fundamental Team for "exemplary football techniques for youth players to emulate." Didn't even know the team existed, but a neat little honor for Davone.

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January 04, 2013

NFL playoffs' boring first round: Seahawks, Ravens advance, join Texans, Packers. What's your rooting interest? Vote!; plus NHL ends lockout, Heat, 'Bama, FIU & more

[1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 6. I'm already tired of Rex Ryan's tattoo but this interests me. Sexy Sofia Vergara involved in Miami nightclub skirmish, falls to floor as breast pops out of dress. I couldn't say it if it werent true; this is a blog! Click here for more. 2) Heat waive guard Terrel Harris. 3) Am told Alabama as a team will see a private screening of 'Zero Dark Thirty' tonight to get pumped for Monday's game. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1catsNHL, players agree to end lockout: Happened early this morning. A 48-game (or perhaps 50) season is expected to begin no later than Jan. 18. Panthers fans, rejoice! The rest of you, go about your business as usual.

1aa1fripix1NFL PLAYOFFS: PREVIEW, PREDIX, POLL: Here I offer my predictions for this weekend's first round of the playoffs, which I dislike calling Wild-Card Weekend as the NFL does because half of the eight teams playing are not wild-card teams. Anyway, I like all four underdogs with the points and all four home teams, meaning one outright upset. Click on Playoff Round 1 Gems for the full version of our picks; here is a synopsis, chronologically:

FINAL: TEXANS d. BENGALS, 19-13 -- Arian Foster and big defense carry the day as Cincy held without offensive TD. Original post: Houston backing in, Cincy hotter, but Bengals last won a playoff in 1990, and Texans much more talented. Arian Foster runs big, J.J. Watt harrasses Andy Dalton. [My pick was: Texans (-4 1/2), 24-21. Playoff record: 1-0 outright; 0-1 vs. spread].

1aa1fripixFINAL: PACKERS d. VIKINGS, 24-10 -- Aaron Rodgers was great as expected, and Joe Webb in for injured Christian Ponder doomed Vikes' upset shot. Original post: Tough to beat Gee Bees twice in a year, let alone twice in two weeks. Return of Charles Woodson big for Pack defense, and Aaron Rodgers comes up huge. [My pick was: Packers (-7 1/2), 31-24. Playoff record: 2-0 outright, 0-2 vs. spread].

FINAL: RAVENS d. COLTS, 24-9 -- Vintage Baltimore defense reminiscent of past years and a big day by Anquan Boldin carries the Crows. Original post: Lots of emotion here, with Ray Lewis facing his final game and the Chuck Pagano story. I see Lewis' return from 10 games out and the home field carrying the day. [My pick was: Ravens (-6 1/2), 27-23. Playoff record: 3-0 outright, 0-3 vs. spread]

FINAL: SEAHAWKS d. REDSKINS, 24-14 -- Thought I was looking foof at 14-0, Skins. RG3's injury didn't help. Original post: Upset! Seattle has not been a very good road team (3-5) and I'll take Robert Griffin III at home in a rookie-QB duel that should make this the game of the weekend. [My pick was: Redskins (+3), 24-23. Playoff record: 3-1 outright; 0-4 vs. spread]

Click Logic Vs. Sentiment for my Friday Page column. I rank the playoff teams 1 through 12 based on best chance to win the Super Bowl (Logic) and also based on my own Independent Rooting Interest scale (Sentiment). The column also includes my six end-of-season league awards plus my Dolphins MVP.

OK, your turn. Which team do you most hope wins the Super Bowl? I know 20 of 32 teams aren't in the playoffs, so about 63 percent of all fans including Dolfans aren't as passionately drawn. But don't fans develop a rooting interest in the playoffs even when their team isn't in it? I bet yes. Remember, this poll is not asking who you predict will win the Super Bowl. It's asking who you hope does. You can even still vote for teams that have been eliminated, if you wish. Vote and say why.

FIU RECYCLES, HIRES RON TURNER: Last month FIU and athletics boss Pete Garcia prematurely and 1aa1fiuronunwisely fired bright young football coach Mario Cristobal. Now the school introduces his replacement, Ron Turner, 59 (pictured), a college and pro journeyman coach who is seen as an offensive specialist and quarterbacks guru. My concern is that Turner hasn't coached collegiately in almost a decade, since Illinois fired him after the 2004 season. He was 35-57 in eight years with the Illini. In 2001 he was 10-2 and lost in the Sugar Bowl but apart from that didn't do much. I wonder how a 60ish guy out of the college game so long will be as a recruiter. Turner signed a five-year contract but I doubt Garcia's patience will last that long. The upside? Ron has a more normal first name than his brother, Norv.     

HEAT BIG 5 @ 30: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so this season 1aa1heat5we started this new one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals (except we skipped @25; oops). It's a top-five cumulative ranking of the players having the biggest overall impact this season based on eight statistical categories. We continue with The Big 5 @ 30 Games (22-8, before Friday night's loss to Bulls):

Rank (@20)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   1,146.1

2 (2)   Chris Bosh   746.5

3 (3)   Dwyane Wade   703.5

4 (4)   Ray Allen   475.0

5 (5)   Mario Chalmers   447.7

Bubble: Shane Battier, 316.3

Poll result: Sorry, Nick. We still don't like you: I wrote this week that Dolfans should finally forgive Nick Saban, six years later, for the way he left Miami for Alabama, and asked in a poll if you agree. You didn't. Don't-forgive had 70.4 percent to only 21.5% who said forgive, with the other 8.1% undecided. So if you get booed Monday night, Nick, don't take it personally. Actually ... do take it personally.    

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January 02, 2013

Is it time to forgive Nick Saban? New poll. Vote now!; plus ND, 'Bama arrive; farewell, Ray Lewis; Dolphins' draft; Orange's lost gamble & more

[1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 3. See results of our biggest-Miami-sports-story-of-2012 poll in blogpost directly below this new one. 2) Louisville and Miami's Teddy Bridgewater put the sweetness in the Sugar Bowl last night. Florida added the diabetes. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1lewisRay Lewis announces retirement: The great ex-Cane and Ravens linebacker is saying he plans to retire following the playoffs. It sounds like the right decision, alas. Five words for his career: Hall of Fame, first ballot.

IT IS TIME TO FORGIVE NICK SABAN AND MOVE ON, MIAMI: I like to take jabs at Nick Saban as much as the next guy. Probably more than the next guy. (See item directly below for proof.) I mean, he's such an easy target! But I also think, more seriously, that, six years later, Dolphins fans should forgive him the clumsy way he departed here, first lying, then leaving. He was far from the first coach to be deceitful about his intentions or abruptly change his mind. He has expressed regrets. Saban deserves to be appreciated for what he has accomplished since -- going for a second straight national title with Alabama and third in four years vs. Notre Dame here Monday night in the BCS National Championship. I make my case for forgiveness in today's latest column; click Burying Nick Satan to read. But I also know many of you don't agree, and won't ever. The poll below will tell Saban exactly how South Florida feels about him, six years later. Vote and make your case why.

NOTRE DAME EVIL LEPRECHAUNS, ALABAMA CRIMSON SATANS ARRIVE!: Hype and anticipation for Monday's BCS National Championship game at Dolphins stadium ramp up to another level yesterday as both 1aa1nickteams arrived, No. 1 Irish in Fort Lauderdale, No. 2 Tide in Miami. It's the perfect dream bowl, because both programs are storied and deserve enormous respect, and yet each is vilified in a certain way in South Florida. So it's a matchup to love and hate all at once! Notre Dame of course is disliked by all but its fans in much the same way the New York Yankees are or the Dallas Cowboys (pre-irrelevance) used to be. Feelings for the Irish boil closer to hatred here on account of the bitter past rivalry with Miami's Hurricanes exacerbated by the Irish's rout-win this past season at Soldier Field. Remember when Irish fans called Jimmy Johnson "Pork-faced Satan?" What better segue to why so many locals will be rooting against 'Bama. It is because of Nick Satan Saban, who angered Dolfans with the way he lied left the Dolphins after the 2006 season. Saban is pictured here, practicing his creepy, robotic, fake smile alongside ND coach Brian Kelly. [Disclaimer: I don't dislike Saban. He's just such a ripe target and so damned much fun to make fun of!]

OBC gambles, loses on Northern Illinois: Sorry, Orange Bowl Committee. Points for thinking outside the box and tossing them dice, but Northern Illinois indicated in Tuesday's 31-10 loss to Florida State why a Mid-American Conference team hadn't ever before been invited to a BCS bowl. Huskies were no match for Seminoles on either side of the ball. Click on NIU Answers Whether It Belonged for my column off the game. OB last hosted a close bowl (under 10-point margin) in 2008. 

HEY HERE'S SOME COMICALLY EARLY NFL DRAFT TALK!: The draft is in 112 days. The reason I mention it here is because Monday's BCS title game include at least two players who realistically could be Miami's first-round pick at No. 12 overall. One is Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner (if he lasts that long). Another is Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert (if the Dolphins reach a bit or trade down). No wide receivers are rated worthy of being take higher than the low 20s. If Miami goes for a pass-rusher a plausible pick might be Oregon DE Dion Jordan.

GREG COTE'S FREE TIPS FOR PROPER LIVING (GCFTFPL): (One in a series) Florida drivers, those small 1aa1licenseyellow stickers are meant to be affixed to the upper right corner of your vehicle's license plate, as shown, and only there. When you get a new one, it goes right over the old one in the same spot. Get it? Do not -- as many drivers do -- place the stickers in all four corners or even in the middle of the plate. Doing so indicates to other drivers that the chances are very good you might not be a member of Mensa.

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