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16 posts from May 2014

May 30, 2014

It's Heat-Spurs (again). Best matchup for Miami? Poll. Vote now!; plus LeBron, Bosh lead G6 rout, Heat 3 Stars, Stanton, Dolphins, toplessness & more

New blogpost coming later today: Will include Heat-Spurs lookahead, of course, and also my reflection on the infamous "orange jumpsuit" column reference to Lance Stepehenson. Expect to post by late afternoon.

1) It is SUNDAY, JUNE 1. Happy new  month, everybody. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat-Pacers. 3) I wonder if Lance Stephenson blew in the pilot's ear on the Pacers' flight home to Indiana. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Pacers Game 5, Lance Stephenson's buffoonery with blow-in-ear video, Heat playoff MVP standings, top-10 music earners since 1990 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Click on The Full Force of a Two-Time Champion for my column from the arena off last night's series-clinching Heat victory.

HEAT-SPURS THE REMATCH: WHAT TEAM DID YOU HOPE MIAMI MET IN NBA FINALS?: It'll be Heat-Spurs in an NBA Finals rematch after last night's San Antonio win. Is that best for the Heat? It was a simple either/or choice offering no easy path to a three-peat for Miami, and a clear contrast in options. Conventional thinking is that San Antonio (a rematch of the 2013 Finals) offers the tougher opponent for the Heat because of the matchup problems it will present. Oklahoma City (which would have been a rematch of the '12 Finals) offered perhaps a more favorable matchup overall but also presented the challenge of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, arguably the only duo in the league that can match or even surpass the LeBron James/Dwyane Wade tandem offensively. The poll question is open to your interpretation. Vote based on which would be the easier opponent for Miami, or vote based on which Finals you'd find more entertaining. Vote either way, and say why.

G6: HEAT 117, INDIANA 92: LEBRON, BOSH COMBINE FOR 50 AS MIAMI REACHES 4TH STRAIGHT NBA FINALS: LeBron James and Chris Bosh with 25 points apiece last night in a complete beatdown that eliminated Indiana for the third straight year and lifts Miami to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season. More antics of course from punky Lance Stephenson -- including a hand on LeBron's face and an open palm raked across Norris Cole's face -- but the result shut him up. Said Pacers coach Frank Vogel afterward: "We're competing against the Michael Jordan of our era, the Chicago Bulls of our era." Click here for my game column. ..... Original post: It has been a nutty buildup to this game. Paul George just scored 37 points including a ridiculous 21 in the fourth.
1aa1aleblanceLeBron James just scored 7 thanks to extreme foul trouble
1aa1aheatindg6and 2-for-10 shooting, and passed up the last shot. But instead we were all talking about the fool Lance Stephenson, of the ear-blowing, huddle-invading and body-1aa1aecfflopping. Lance is an idiot. Miami's job is to make sure he isn't the idiot whose distracting antics contribute to the Heat blowing this series. (Stephenson and James are pictured in a staredown, which at least is more manly than Lance blowing gently into LeBron's ear). Miami's lead is only 3-2 now entering tonight's Game 6 here, and the Heat must ride two notable streaks to victory. First, the Heat has won 10 straight home playoff games overall. Second, Miami in the Big 3 era is 9-0 at home in potential series-clinching games. Unless those perfect streaks continue, the Heat would face a Game 7 in Indiana putting the hope of a three-peat championship in peril. That's why Chris Bosh rightly referred to tonight as "our Game 7."

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Last night: 1. LeBron James, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. Chris Andersen. The standings 15 playoff games, including Friday's series-clincher: LeBron James 34 points, Dwyane Wade 23, Chris Bosh 15, Ray Allen 8, Chris Andersen 3, Rashard Lewis 3, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

MAKE STANTON AN ALL-STAR!: Here is an unapologetic hometown plug for the local guy. Marlins star
Giancarlo Stanton is running fourth among NL outfielders in all-star voting in the first results released, and 1aa1agstantonhe unequivocally deserves to be one of the three starters. He is having an MVP-caliber season for a surprise team. My particular quibble is that one of the players Stanton trails is Milwaukee's Ryan "Steroids" Braun. I present their comparative statistics as of today: Braun--.315, 7 homers, 23 RBI, .910 OPS. Stanton--.318, 15 homers, 49 RBI, 1.034 OPS. Only the averages are close. Otherwise across the board Stanton is more deserving -- and that's not even getting into Braun's cheating past. Vote Stanton! Got to the MLB ballot HERE, and make justice happen.

MORE MEDIOCRITY AHEAD FOR DOLPHINS?: Bovada is out with its preseason betting over/unders on NFL win totals, and for the Dolphins it's 8. That's 8-8, .500, the essence of mediocrity, and likely no playoffs. Looking for the glass half full? That's at least second in the AFC East, after the Patriots' 10.5 but ahead of the Jets' 7 and Bills' 6.5.

1aa1ascoutwillisSCOUT WILLIS MAKES A POINT, OR TWO: Scout Willis, 22-year-old daughter of actors BruceWillis and Demi Moore, was photographed this week walking topless in Manhattan, to protest, she said, Instagram's policy of prohibiting topless photos of females. She posted the photos at right (but without the red stars) on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeTheNipple. It does strike us as weird that it is not illegal to walk topless in New York City but it is on Instagram. We offer the photos here in support of Scout's righteous crusade. That, and because we enjoy occasional gratuitous naughtiness just for the hell of it.

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May 28, 2014

Lance the Buffoon (with blow-in-ear vid); plus Heat's G5 loss on George's 37, LeBron's fouls; also Heat Postseason MVP race (updated) & more

1aa1amayanagelou1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 29. R.I.P., Maya Angelou (pictured), America's Poet Laureate, gone at 86. I recall reading 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' in a college literary class, and later being grateful for the assignment. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Five signs the Pacers are imploding, Heat-Pacers Game 4, Pat Riley enters your bedroom, fast food Top10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

LANCE STEPHENSON MAY BE THE STRANGEST MAN IN AMERICA: Ray Allen's word for Stephenson's antics is "buuffonery." He nails it like a 3-pointer.


G5: INDIANA 93, HEAT 90: CHAMPS STILL UP 3-2 HEADING BACK TO MIAMI: Final: What a bizarre, bizarre game. Miami had a last-second go-ahead shot despite a nightmare game by LeBron James, whose five fouls led to limited minutes and a career-playoff-low 7 points. At least two or three of those five fouls were marginal calls, but, let's not go all Indy and blame the officiating. It wasn't just the foul trouble. James was 2-for-10 shooting. Does a Heat fan take heart that it came down to the last seconds despite a rare non-LeBron night? Now it comes down to a Game 6 back in Miami Friday night, with the pressure shifting to the Heat. Nobody was great for Miami last night. Put it this way: Rashard Lewis (18 points; 6-9 on 3's) may have been the Heat's best player. Chris Bosh had 20 with 10 rebounds. Dwyane Wade had 18, and Ray Allen 15. I said earlier this was a bizarre game. Miami makes 15 3's and loses? Strange, strange. I do not blame LeBron for passing up a last-second drive to the basket for a potential game-tying shot, instead passing to Bosh for a winning 3 he missed. "He went for the kill," said coach Erik Spoelstra of James' pass. (For those who have asked: I was not in Indianapolis for Game 5 due to the sudden, unexpected death of a longtime friend whose funeral was Wednesday in Fort Myers). ..... Halftime: Miami up 42-33, remarkably, despite LeBron James mostly sitting with more fouls (3) than points (2). Heat plus-13 points with James out. How depressing that must be for fading Indiana! Ray Allen with 10 off the bench, Chris Bosh's 9 and Dwyane Wade's 8 carrying Miami, along with a pair of 3's by Rashard Lewis. ..... Original post: You could call both teams wounded for tonight's Eastern finals Game 5 in Indianapolis. But Miami's wounds are superficial, with top reserves Ray Allen and Chris (Birdman) Andersen both questionable with minor injuries. Indiana's wounds appear mortal, playoff- 1aa1aheat-pacersg5 1aa1amia-indlebronlife threatening. They are down 3-1 as they face elimination, and only 3.6 percent of teams in this situation in NBA history (8 of 222) have prevailed in the series. I'm no mathematician, but that gives Miami a 96.4% likelihood of reaching the NBA Finals again. The big question is 1aa1aheatindywhether that advance takes place tonight or in Game 6 back in Miami. Do the Heat have the imperative to close it out on the road? Do the Pacers have any fight left? New Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, on the radio with us Tuesday on the Dan Le Batard Show, said he thought the Pacers showed "mental weakness" and were "running from accountability." He meant Paul "We Outplayed Them" George blaming the officiating. He meant Roy "Big Zero" Hibbert blaming the game plan. He might also have mentioned Lance Stephenson's foolhardy LeBron-baiting, or coach Frank Vogel embarrassing himself by yelling at Shane Battier to distract his 3-point shot. Indiana is in excuses-mode, indicative of a team unable, at the moment, to come to grips with simply not being good enough, and on the verge of being eliminated from the postseason by nemesis Miami for a third straight season. Let' see if that's a reality that is forced to sink in tonight.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. Rashard Lewis, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. Dwyane Wade. Updated standings through 14 playoff games, including tonight's Heat-Pacers Game 5: LeBron James 31 points, Dwyane Wade 23, Chris Bosh 13, Ray Allen 8, Rashard Lewis 3, Chris Andersen 2, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

THE LIST: TOP MUSIC EARNERS, 1990-PRESENT: This is in my wheelhouse because I love music and appreciate longevity. These are Billboard's top 10 musical acts from 1990 to 2014 based on concert tour revenue:

Rank    Artist                        Revenue     Shows

1         Rolling Stones            1.566B       538

2         U2                              1.515         526

3         Bruce Springsteen      1.196        727

4         Madonna                    1.140        382

5         Bon Jovi                     1.030        578

6         Elton John                     787M      956

7         Dave Matthews Band     777        992

8         Kenny Chesney             753        755

9         Celine Dion                   738        1143

10        The Eagles                   702        484

Note: I think I have all of the above, on iTunes, CD or album (yes, album) other than Celine.  

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May 26, 2014

5 signs Pacers are imploding (including Vogel-yell video); plus James, Bosh lead G4 win, Heat postseason MVP table, fast food & more

1aa1agodzilla1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 27. At right, Godzilla devours E.T. and that adorable kid. 2) We needn't require an annual holiday (Memorial Day) to honor our war dead. Thank you today, too, fallen heroes. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat and the good noise/bad noise forever surrounding LeBron James. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Nine Heat truths we hold self-evident, Heat-Pacers Game 3, Charles Barkley, Mel Kiper's early prejection & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

Click on Thou Shall Not Irritate LeBron James for my column off last night's Heat win.

FIVE INDICATIONS THE PACERS ARE IMPLODING: No, I mean beyond their 3-1 series deficit to Miami that now makes their odds of winning the Eastern Conference finals equal to the likelihood Kim Kardashian will suddenly eschew fame and spotlight and quietly become a nun:

1aa1apgeorgepost1. Paul George's postgame lunacy: "I thought we outplayed them," he said late last night, as a large room full of media looked at each other and worked to stifle outbursts of braying, incredulous laughter. George said he found it "demoralizing" that Indiana was so superior in all phases and yet lost at the free-throw line because of "home cooking" by the officials. (Over/under on the league fine the NBA cooks up for George: $25,000). By the way, somebody point out to Paul that Miami scored 20 points off his team's turnovers, and invite him to blame the refs for that. Lame excuses, Indiana.

2. Lance Stephenson's mouth: (See my rrelated game column) Lance's maw was wide open and yakking before the game, talking about how LeBron James' trash talking had been a "sign of weakness" and that he was "under his skin." Then, during the game last night, Lance was as a church mouse. Somebody give that man a choke sign.

3. Roy Hibbert zeroes in. Hibbert can do the seemingly impossible. He can be a 7-2 giant on national television, and completely disappear. Last night: 0 points. Your cat scored as many. Pacers were minus-23 points with him on the court. And his defense against Chris Bosh was as nonexistent as his offense.

4. World's shortest bench. This doesn't really fit with the others, but, have you noticed? In terms of bench/depth/rotation, Indiana is pretty much bereft with the exception of Luis Scola and his 1970s hair.

5. Frank Vogel's schoolyard yell. Saved my favorite for last. This is a classic. Vogel, the Pacers' nerdy coach, screaming at Shane Battier as he attempts a three-point shot. Recalls my old Little League days, when, as the opposing outfielder raced toward a fly ball, we'd shout, "TREE STUMP!" C'mon, Frank. Seriously!? Be a grownup. Postscript: Battier made the shot.


G4: HEAT 102, INDIANA 90: MIAMI IN CHARGE AT 3-1: LeBron James' 31 points and 10 rebounds and schooling of Lance Stephenson was the big story overall, although Chris Bosh's fast start and 25 points set the early tone. Click on Thou Shall Not Irritate LeBron James for my full column off the game. Original post: Looking at tonight's Game 4 from two angles. I love the seven-game series format because every result dramatically alters the framework of how the series looks and feels. Take tonight back at the downtown bayside arena. A 1aa1azheat-pacg4 1aa1alenlanceMiami win to make it a 3-1 series lead would put the defending-champion Heat in full control of these Eastern Conference finals and have even the most hopeful Pacers fans bracing for a third 1aa1aecfstraight playoff elimination by their nemesis. But! A road upset by the Pacers tonight to even the series 2-2, with Game 5 in Indianapolis, would swing momentum suddenly back to the team that is both the No. 1 seed and yet the underdog. OK that's the big-picture angle. Now the other one. I also love a seven-game series format because it is long enough to become its own soap opera. Hard fouls on the court and dumb comments off it can turn up the intensity and volume. That happened in the runup to tonight's game when Pacers guard Lance Stephenson said Sunday that LeBron James trash-talked him in the last game and called that "a sign of weakness" by James. (The two are pictured, with Stephenson either defending James or trying to kiss him on the left cheek). There is a history here. Lance, of course, made a choke sign (from the bench) in the 2012 playoffs after James missed a key late free throw. Stephenson is 23, so I suppose he can still play the young-and-stupid card, but two points  must be made here. 1) Publicly jabbing LeBron is never smart. He is due a monster game offensively; his 49-pointer in Brooklyn is his only plus-30 since the first round. And you know James would delight in showing up the mouthy Stephenson tonight. 2) Stephenson is a nice young player, a pretty good shooting guard, active defender, and also somebody who would not start for Miami. Three NBA seasons have not seen him within shouting distance of an all-star team or a leaderboard. Stephenson is a grain of sand. LeBron is the beach. It will be delicious to see if those roles come clear tonight.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. LeBron James, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. Dwyane Wade. The updated standings through 13 playoff games, including tonight's Heat-Pacers Game 4: LeBron James 31 points, Dwyane Wade 22, Chris Bosh 11, Ray Allen 8, Chris Andersen 2, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

 Urgent update: Heat prez Pat Riley's business arm, Riles & Co., has extended trademark rights to the phrase Three-Peat (and 3-Peat) to include bed covers, linens, blankets, sheets and towels. He has held the trademark since his late '80s Lakers days, but has now gone bed, bath and beyond. Further updates as needed.

THE LIST: FAST-FOOD CHAINS: The world's top 10 fast-food chains based on number of restaurants:

Rank  Chain                  Restaurants

1       Subway                41,641

2       McDonald's           34,492

3       Starbucks             20,184

4       KFC                      18,875

5      Pizza Hut               14,067

6      Burger King           13,667

7      Dunkin' Donuts      10,862

8      Domino's Pizza       10,566

9      Baskin-Robbins       7,294

10    Wendy's                  6,557 

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May 24, 2014

9 Heat Playoff Truths We May Hold to Be Self-Evident; plus James, Wade, Allen spark G3 win, Barkley top Heat Hater, playoff MVP table (updated) & more

1) It is SUNDAY, MAY 25. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat and the good noise/bad noise forever surrounding LeBron James. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Hater poll, Mark Cuban's firestorm, Landon Donovan's exclusion, Dolphins rookie camp, illegal parking & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

Click on The Closing Kings for my column from the arena off last night's Heat win. The start was sluggish but the ending sublime. Again.

THESE HEAT PLAYOFF TRUTHS WE MAY HOLD TO BE SELF-EVIDENT: Taking stock a dozen games into the Heat's postseason run and in the heart of the Eastern finals, with Miami up 2-1 on Indiana:

1. LeBron James (28.6 points) is the NBA's postseason MVP if Tim Duncan isn't, and the two are headed for a Finals rematch showdown. The team tends to mirror LeBron's slow starts, but also his big finishes.

2. Dwyane Wade looks as good the past four games as in any such stretch we can recall of late, a testament to the team's season-loing "maintenance" strategy. He isn't doing much on the defensive end, but offensively he is recalling his vigorous prime.

3. If anybody sees Chris Bosh, please turn him in to Lost & Found. Corner 3's have replaced the low post for him; no matter. How can a man that tall get so few rebounds? Wake up, dude.

4. Ageless Ray Allen earns every penny and every ounce of his Hall of Fame cred with bursts like last night's. What a gift for the Heat.

5. Norris Cole is more valuable to the team right now than starting point guard Mario Chalmers.

6. Not always sure why, but Miami is very good with Rashard Lewis rotated in. Last night the Heat was plus-21 in his 17 minutes even though Lewis himself had zero points.

7. Chris (Birdman) Andersen is averaging more rebounds and blocks than Bosh in barely over half the minutes. Tattoo You, as the Stones once said.

8. Michael Beasley and Greg Oden should hold daily CA meetings. Commisserators Anonymous. 

9. Erik Spoelstra is really, really good.

G3: HEAT 99, INDIANA 87: BIG SECOND HALF LIFTS MIAMI: LeBron James' 26 points, Dwyane Wade's 23 -- his fourth straight big offensive game this postseason -- and Ray Allen's 16 off the bench carried Miami in its second-half rally tonight. I'd also mentiom Rashard Lewis. He had zero points, but Miami was plus-21 in his 17 minutes; him in the game sparked the team. Heat now up 2-1 and in charge entering Game 4 back here Monday night. The resolve and resourcefulness of this team continues to amaze. Miami trailed 17-4 early, never led until the third quarter, but found a way, as it usually does. Click on The Closing Kings for my column off the game. ..... Original post: Series came out of Indiana 1-1 but Miami is 5-0 at home in this postseason. Keep that record pristine and the Heat will be sitting 3-1 and in control after tonight's and Monday's bayside dates. That would put Miami in great shape to make this the NBA-record fifth series in a row they've won after losing the opener. Charles Barkley said this week that Miami's fans 1aa1aheatg3 1aa1apacatheataren't very good in explaining why he hopes LeBron James returns to Cleveland. Hmm. Here's betting Heat fans will look and sound pretty damn good tonight inside the downtown bayside arena. Paul George, who had a mild concussion, is OK'd 1aa1labebronjto play for the Pacers. That's big because Indiana without him (maybe even with him) just does not have the offensive firepower to match the Heat when Miami is playing well. LeBron James is having an MVP-caliber postseason and, after a three-day series rest, it says here he is due a breakout game offensively. Thinking mid-30s-plus. Dwyane Wade also has strung together three straight games that are vintage, all of that regular season "maintenance" paying off. It'll be interesting to see what coach Erik Spoelstra does with that fifth starting spot -- whether Udonis Haslem or Shane Battier is called. We also could see Greg Oden deployed briefly in his first playoff appearance since April 30, 2009. He back spasms have gone away; "I'm ready," he said. Not sure if that will matter much tonight. Also not sure the Pacers' impressive showing on the road in this postseason will bear fruit. Home-floor adrenaline and a big night from LeBron should carry the Heat.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. Dwyane Wade, 2. LeBron James, 3. Ray Allen. The updated standings through 12 playoff games, including tonight: LeBron James 28 points, Dwyane Wade 21, Chris Bosh 9, Ray Allen 8, Chris Andersen 2, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

Poll result: Barkley leads Anti-Heat parade: In the previous blogpost we invited you to name the biggest Anti-Heat person in the national media (you may still vote), and Charley Barkley was the choice of 50.5 percent, followed by Bill Simmons at 23.9% and Skip Bayless at 15.8%. Jon Barry, Michael Wilbon and "other" split the remaining votes.

1aa1acrabSEMINOLES DOMINATE KIPER'S FIRST '15 BIG BOARD: Mel Kiper Jr.'s first top-25 "Big Board" previewing the 2015 NFL draft is out, and No. 1 on it is Florida State quarterback Jameis "Crab Legs" Winston. Florida Gator DE Dante Fowler is 8th. Three other Noles make it: OG Tre Jackson, 15th; CB P.J. Williams, 17th; and DEMario Edwards, 23rd. Nary a Hurricane to be found.

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May 22, 2014

Who's biggest Heat-hater in national media? Poll has Top 5. Vote now!; plus Landon Donovan, Mark Cuban, Dolphins rookie camp & more

1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 23. I'm up in Random Evidence Laboratories today summonging the newest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Pacers Game 2 with video, why Hoosiers hate me, benevolent umpires & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

1aa1asymonetteFacts That May Only Interest Me: There will be 119 officials working NFL games this coming season. The only one of the 119 who graduated from a Florida college is Tom Symonette, No. 100, line judge, 11-year veteran, ex-Gator.

Speaking of Heat haters...: Bill Simmons (among frontrunners in our Anti-Heat poll below) will be in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket.

WHO GRAND MARSHALS THE ANTI-HEAT PARADE?: It's always something. It's always someone. The national commentary that rubs Miami the wrong way and makes a Heat fan shake his or her head. The 1aa1akeephatinglatest is Charles Barkley this week saying, "Those fans in Miami are not real fans, those fans in Cleveland are real fans" -- in predicting and encouraging James to return to the Cavaliers. Before that, during the Heat's Game 2 win in Indiana, Bill Simmons surmised that LeBron's slow start in the game may have been because he'd heard Cleveland had just won the draft lottery. Oh, and don't get a Heat fan started on Skip Bayless! They're 1aa1aheatleseverywhere: National journalists or talking heads who never seem to give the Heat enough credit or can barely contain their delight in speculating LeBron will leave. In this poll I have listed alphabetically my Top 5 Anti-Heat guys, in either reality or perception (your choice). I could have listed others such as Michelle Beadle, Ric Bucher or Brian Windhorst. Maybe you'd include Stephen A. Smith? That's where the 'other' vote comes in. Have I left anybody out? Vote for who you consider to be the biggest Anti-Heat person in the national media and say why.

ON MARK CUBAN'S ADMISSION: Outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, in a newly published article in Inc. magazine: "I know I'm prejudiced. I'm bigoted in a lot of ways. I mean, we're all prejudiced 1aa1amcubanin one way or another. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it's late at night, I'm walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there's a guy that has tattoos all over his face -- white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere -- I'm walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of. I try not to be hypocritical. I know that I'm not perfect. I know that I live in a glass house, and it's not appropriate for me to throw stones." (Click here for the full interview. He made similar comments yesterday in a speech in Nashville). The comments are immediately controversial; them coming in the context of the NBA's Donald Sterling mess gives them added volume. Clearly Cuban, unlike Sterling, has no track record of racism. Still, Michael Wilbon today, for one, called Cuban's comments "awkward," called the reaction a "firestorm" and said the owner must explain himself further. Me? I think Cuban was speaking a human-nature truth that lives within most of us in terms of stereotyping. I give him credit for saying it aloud. But I also find "If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it's late at night..." to be especially troubling, because it is that exact stereotyping mindset that may have gotten Trayvon Martin killed.

SHH. THE DOLPHINS ARE PRACTICING: Dolphins have a rookie mini-camp today/Friday through the weekend 1aa1ajjamesand it flies largely undetected by local radar. It isn't just the overshadowing Heat playoff run. It's the lack of anybody -- anybody -- with star appeal. That can happen when your No. 1 draft pick is an offensive lineman (in this case Ja'Wuan James, pictured, from Tennessee). That can also happen when five of your eight picks are from North Dakota State, Liberty, Montana, Coastal Carolina and Marist. Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Michael Sam and others bring big noise to other NFL teams' rookie camps. Miami's incoming crop of eight draftees and some 20 undrafted free agents may prove bounteously successful. But, going in, may we admit it's on the Dull side of the Excitement scale?

ON THE LANDON DONOVAN EXCLUSION: Was surprised and disappointed by the news Landon Donovan had been left off the final 23-man USA roster for this summer's soccer World Cup. Bold call by coach 1aa1alandondJurgen Klinsmann. Donovan played in previous three World Cups and is all-time leading U.S. scorer in international goals with 57 (in 156 games). Here is the statement Donovan put out on Facebook: "It has been an honor and privilege to have represented the U.S. national team in three World Cups. I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with [Thursday's] decision. Regardless, I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the U.S. in the years to come." Donovan, at 32, had lost a step, but I felt his World Cup experience and savvy would have been a stabilizer for the team. Klinsmann's decision is ripe for second-guessing.

WATCH WHERE YOU PARK: Are you an able-bodied person who has ever ignored a "handicapped 1aa1ahandiparking" sign and parked in a spot reserved for those with disabilities? Or seen somebody else do that? Click here and you may think twice. By the way, the old-fashioned "handicapped parking" logo we are used to is getting a makeover, being replaced by a more dynamic, forward-leaning figure as pictured. Me, I'd like to see an even more dynamic logo in which the stick figure in the wheelchair is a pointing a gun at someone parked in his spot.

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May 20, 2014

G2: Heat 87, Indiana 83: Miami ties series as LeBron, Wade surge in 4Q; plus Hoosiers hate me, Heat Postseason MVP standings (updated) & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 21. It's (not) Radio Wednesday, after all. Not in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today because of flight delays returning from Indy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Pacers Game 1, Heat most-disliked-opponent poll, NBA Game of Thrones, Canes baseball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

Click on LeBron And Wade To The Rescue for my column from Indy off last night's Heat's game 2 win. And see our postgame video just below.

G2: HEAT 87, PACERS 83: JAMES, WADE COMBINE FOR 22 IN 4TH TO LEAD RALLY: LeBron James and Dwyane combined for 22 of their 44 points in the fourth quarter to rally Miami to a series tying 87-83 win last night in Indy. They shot 9-for-12 in the fourth and scored the team's final 20 points in the last 7:51 of the game. Wade was 5-for-5 in the fourth. It was an amazing statement by the Heat's two best players, and just when absolutely needed. Honorable mention as well to Norris Cole, who scored 11 off the bench and served up some great late defense to cool off Lance Stephenson. And to Birdman Andersen, who had a team-best 12 rebounds. Original post: The Heat have not lost consecutive games in the playoffs since the 2012 conference finals, a span of 39 postseason games. Tonight in Indianapolis, Miami must keep that streak alive to avoid going down 2-0 1aa1aheatg2 1aa1aheatpacers2in these Eastern finals. The home team in this rivalry has won eight straight games and 13 of the past 15 -- another hurdle the Heat must overcome. "We understand the urgency of a response," as coach Erik Spoelstra put it. Said LeBron James: "You go in with the mindset that's it's must-win." Indiana's 107-96 victory in Game 1 Sunday was thorough, wire to wire. Tonight the Heat must be better across the board, but especially on the defensive end. Udonis Haslem starting place of Shane Battier will help there, and that in turn will allow LeBron to be a perimeter defender again and not expend energy battling David West. Another help. It'll take more than more intense urgency on defense, though. Miami must shoot much better on 3's than Sunday's abysmal 6-for-23. Must get more than Game 1's paltry four offensive rebounds. And must get to the free-throw line a lot more (that starts with LeBron and Dwyane Wade) to not repeat Indiana's absurd 37-15 FT advantage in Game 1. Expect LeBron to be in take-charge mode and lead an inspired Heat effort.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. From Heat-Pacers Game 2 tonight: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Norris Cole are 1-2-3. Updated standings through 11 playoff games, after tonight: LeBron James 26 points, Dwyane Wade 18, Chris Bosh 9, Ray Allen 7, Chris Andersen 2, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

POSTGAME VIDEO: Heat beat writer Joseph "Goodie" Goodman and myself, the untelegenic guy on the right, discuss last night's Heat win: 


INDIANA HATES ME, LORD I CAN'T GO BACK THERE: My email in-box and Twitter feed has been engorged 1aa1alebronfatheadwith hundreds of angry messages in response to this column by me off Game 1. Actually it was in response to one paragraph low in the column, in which I refer to Pacers fans holding up large photos depicting LeBron James (pictured) and Dwyane Wade wearing pink bras. In addition Wade has a pacifier in his mouth and LeBron has a bow on his headband. I thought the bow lent the visual effect of an Aunt Jemima-style kerchief that seemed a bit racist to me. Not saying that was the intent, but for me it crossed a line. That was part of a column detour in which I discussed how rude Pacers fans can be when it comes to the Heat. (And I didn't even mention the 'F--- LeBron' T-shirts). Anyway, sensitive Indianapolisites have reacted as if I called their entire city racist, when my remark was limited to one particular questionable image. (I especially enjoyed a comically outraged, 1aa1amebowhuffing-and-puffing response in something called the 'Indy Sports Report'). Postscript: I have seen on Twitter that the Pacers folks in charge of the "G2 Zone," a dedicated section of rowdy fans where the image shown appeared, have ordered it not to be repeated at Game 2 tonight. And sure enough, I see the image nowhere in the crowd. Update: One of my haters in Indy posted the photo of me at left on Twitter. It's funny. Unlike many Pacers fans, I have a sense of humor. The photo is doctored, of course. The bow was added. However, that's actually my body. Further update: A Twitterer told me folks from this area don't like to be called Indianapolisites. They prefer to be called Hoosiers Whosiers.

Poll result: Pacers most disliked opponent: I think this is an in-the-moment result, at least the lopsidedness of it, but I asked, you answered and 57.4 percent called Indiana the Heat's most disliked opponent. New York Knicks came in second at 17.4% and then Chicago Bulls at 11.7%, with four other options splitting what was left.

Major League Baseball umpires, in town for tonight's Marlins game, visited patients today at Miami Children's Hospital. I am trying to picture the look on a young patient's face when into his hospital room strides an umpire in full regalia. I'm guessing the look would be a cross between fright and bewilderment.

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May 18, 2014

G1: Indiana 107, Heat 96: Pacers with a wire-to-wire win; plus what is Heat's most disliked opponent? Poll. Vote now!; also NBA Game of Thrones & more

NOTE TO READERS: You all know our blog has been largely disabled the past day-plus because of an attack on our host site, Typepad. That is why the number of comments is down. Anyway, we're back up, finally. Check back Tuesday morning for a new blogpost. We have much to say.

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 19. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat-Pacers. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Pacers preview and prediction poll, Michael Jackson sings about Indiana & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

Click on No Panic for my column from Indianapolis off the Heat's Game 1 loss.

G1: INDIANA 107, HEAT 96: PACERS WIN WIRE-TO-WIRE: Heat fans should not be real discouraged by this Game 1 loss. Miami in the big 3 era is 7-0 in the next game following a playoff loss of 11 or more points, and 4-0 in Game 2 following a series-opening loss. A win Tuesday night may be expected. The Heat can not play much worse than tonight. Miami went to the free-throw line 22 fewer times, shot 6-for-23 from 3-point range, played horrible defense and got next to nothing from Chris Bosh. Actually, Dwyane Wade (27 points), LeBron James (25) and Chris "Birdman" Andersen and Ray Allen off the bench were the only players who did anything for Miami. Expected a bounce-back in Game 2. Ajust-and-respond is what the Heat do. (Watch for my column off Game 1 posting online soon, and my Heat 3 Stars of the game here later tonight). Original post: Miami sets out today 1aa1aheatpacerstrying to be the first NBA team to win consecutive Eastern finals over the same opponent since Detroit 1aa1aheatg1(over Chicago) in 1989-90. Indiana made a point of the No. 1 seed and home court edge all season with Miami in mind. Now let's see if we get the team that had a 35-6 home record during the season or the Pacers who have gone only 3-4 in Indy in the postseason. It also will be interesting to see if Miami goes small at times, because Atlanta and Washington both had some success on 3-balls vs. Indiana inthe first two rounds. My series pick: Heat in six.

WHAT IS HEAT'S MOST DISLIKED OPPONENT?: What opponent should the Heat and Miami fans dislike most? Oh the candidates are many! Indiana must be considered not only because it is right upon us. I'd have have said that even before the Pacers' Lance Stephenson implied on Saturday he'd be trying to run Dwyane Wade into the ground in this series to exploit his knee issues. The Pacers were irritants even before that. But let us not forget how we felt just a week earlier about Paul Pierce and Brooklyn. Let's remember how much we love to boo Joakim Noah and Chicago. And, of course, Boston, New York and even Detroit are great rivals of long-standing in the love-to-hate-'em category. Heck, maybe Mark Cuban's Dallas even qualifies? Is there even a difference between "biggest rival" and "most disliked"? I'm not even sure. You decide. Don't be just in the moment. Factoring everything, history to present, what is the one Heat opponent you most dislike? Vote and say why.

Poll result: You like Heat over Pacers in six games: Overall, 84.5 percent of you picked Miami to win. The breakdown--Heat in 6 at 56.5%, in 5 at 16.6%, in 7 at 8.5% and in 4 at 2.7%. Indiana backers had it Pacers in 7 at 9.1%, in 6 at 4.8%, in 4 at 1.4% and in 5 at 0.2%.

GAME OF THRONES/NBA EDITION (WITH BOSH THE MAGIC DRAGON): I sort of think these parodies have run their course, but they still have a bit of entertainment value. In this latest one, LeBron says (ominously) to Pat Riley, "Dynasties must fall, Lord Riley." Chris Bosh plays a dragon. And Gregg Popovich plays a vampire. The usual.


REALLY, CANES BASEBALL?: Don't take this wrong, Miami Hurricanes baseball. Lova ya, Jim Morris. A 1aa1umregssnnice regular season is not nothing, and you all finished strong and deserve to feel good. But throwing CHAMPIONS around? Do that after you win the ACC Tournament, or better yet, after you win the College World Series. (I feel the same way when I see teams hanging CHAMPIONSHIP banners from the rafters or flagpoles based on division titles. C'mon, man!)

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May 16, 2014

Indiana wants us. Lord we gotta go back there. Predict the Heat-Pacers series. New poll. Vote now!; plus Michael Jackson & more

1aa1homelesssmoker1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 17. Quick tip for the homeless: Panhandling with a cardboard sign in one hand and a cigarette in the other is bad for business. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Indiana advances to meet Miami, candidates to replace Van Gundy on Le Batard, Pacers-or-Wizards poll, Dolphins '15 draft, Jameis surveillance video, heroic cat saves boy from dog attack & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

HEAT-PACERS. IT'S WHAT WE'VE EXPECTED ALL SEASON. YOUR SERIES PREDICTION GOES HERE: There was an inevitability to this, right? Even when the Pacers were struggling. Even when Roy Hibbert had gone invisible, which is tough for a guy 7-2. You still knew it would be Heat-Pacers in the Eastern Conference 1aa1aecffinals for a shot at the championshup round. For Miami the postseason intensity has been escalating -- as it should. The first-round sweep over Charlotte was perfunctory and dull. The last round vs. Brooklyn was 4-1 but contentious, flavored by old rivals Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in different colors. Now? Now it really gets good. How hungry are the Pacers? Two years ago Miami ousted Indiana in the semifinals in 6 games, after the Pacers led 2-1 and were home. Last year Miami ousted Indy in the conference finals in 7 games. But the rematch -- commencing Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Indianapolis -- finds the Pacers with home-court advantage. Despite that Miami should be the series favorite, despite the home-court thing and despite the perception Hibbert is a particuylar nightmare for LeBron James. To the latter point I might note that James led Miami in  scoring all seven games in last year's ECF, averaging 29 points. (If that's struggling, struggle on!) Anyway, enough of me. Your turn. We do this before every series. How will Heat vs. Pacers series turn out? Not what you want to happen, but what you honestly think will. Vote and say why.

Poll result: You were torn on Pacers-or-Wizards: We asked and it was 50.7 percent favoring Washington as the next Heat opponent and 49.3% saying Indiana. However, the margin for the Wizards was running in the 56% range -- you preferring the easier series to the more exciting one -- before votes for the Pacers surged as Indiana won last night.

A SONG WITH INDIANA IN THE TITLE (BUT NOT THAT ONE): Indiana has not inspired many memorable songs. The biggest was "Indiana Wants Me," which made a one-hit-wonder of one R. Dean Taylor in 1970. ("Indiana wants me, Lord I can't go back there...") But that's too obvious. So I'm sharing with you instead the somewhat funkier "Goin' Back to Indiana," with Michael Jackson rockin' the 'fro with The Jackson 5:


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May 15, 2014

It's Heat-Pacers in Eastern finals!; plus the 4 candidates to replace Van Gundy on Le Batard, Dolphins '15 draft, hero cat & more

1aa1godzilla1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 15. Patriots continue to dominate AFC East. On the bright side, no Dolphins player is under indictment for three murders. That we know of. 2) Pictured right, for no good reason, the original Godzilla. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Nets Game 5 as Miami advances, NBA boycott talk, Van Gundy leaving Le Batard, Dolphins post-draft odds, Bob Dylan & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

IT'S HEAT-PACERS IN EASTERN FINALS: Indiana won at Washington tonight 93-80 to advance to meet Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. Game 1 will be Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Indianapolis.

Click on What Champions Do for my column off last night's series-clinching Heat victory.

Newly added below: Surveillance video of Jameis Winston crab leg heist.

News: Dolphins name Eric Stokes assistant general manager. He'd been Tampa Bay's director of college scouting past two seasons, working there with new Miami GM Dennis Hickey.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: CANDIDATES TO REPLACE STAN VAN GUNDY ON LE BATARD SHOW: Four names being considered are basketball coach-turned-ESPN announcer Jeff Van Gundy, Stan's younger brother; actor Alan Thicke; 1aa1jvg


1aa1izzoMichigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo; and former Dolphins great Jason Taylor. JVG and Thicke are pictured left and Izzo and Taylor right. It is not yet certain if one of them will be chosen as a regular once-a-week cohost or if there will be a rotation. The opening arose with SVG taking the Detroit Pistons job this week. The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz airs weekdays 3-7 p.m. on 104.3 & 790 The Ticket and 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Van Gundy had been one of three once-a-week cohosts. The others are Bomani Jones and, inexplicably, me.

DEAR JOE JOHNSON...: After the Heat's series-clinching 96-94 win over Brooklyn last night the Nets' Joe Johnson noted, "There were some questionable calls down the stretch." Really, Joe? So it was the officiating? It wasn't that your team choked with a late 4:37 scoreless stretch that fostered Miami's miracle rally? It wasn't that your team missed nine of its last 10 field goal tries? It wasn't that you had the ball stripped on the last play and couldn't even get off a shot off? Geez, Joe.

Should Heat prefer Indiana or Washington?: Vote now!: Miami moves on next against the Indiana-Washington winner, with Pacers leading 3-2 entering tonight's Game 6 in D.C. The eventual machup presents an interesting dilemma for the Heat and for Heat fans. Who do you want? Do you want the more anticipated, sexier matchup and rival in Indiana? Or do you want the perceived softer matchup and easier path to the Finals in Washington? (I say that knowing the Heat was 3-1 vs. Indiana this season and 1-3 vs. Washington. I think Brooklyn just reminded us regular-season records don't matter much). Miami would have home-court advantage vs. the Wizards but not against the Pacers. Still, I sense Indiana is the foe we hope for. Not sure I'm right, though. Hence, this poll! Vote and say why.

DOLPHINS/NFL PROJECTIONS FOR '15 DRAFT. NO, SERIOUSLY: Todd McShay has this up on ESPN.com today, because nobody told him how ridiculous it was and to not do it. His overall No. 1 pick is Southern Cal 1aa1marioedefensive lineman Leonard Williams, and he has a Florida DE, Dante Fowler, going fourth. Six -- six! -- FSU Seminoles are projected as first-rounders: QB Jameis "Crab Legs" Winston, 5th, to the Stinkin' Jets; DE Mario Edwards Jr. (pictured), 9th, to the Dolphins; CB P.J. Williams, 13th; WR Rashad Greene, 14th; OT Cameron Erving, 17th; and OG Tre Jackson, 26th. Two observations: 1. The Dolphins are seen drafting 9th after a 7-9 season (sigh). 2. The Hurricanes' 1R drought continues. Next week: McShay projects the 2037 draft. Miami's first pick will be wideout who'll be conceived in July in a Port-a-Potty during a Phish concert in Saratoga.

Jameis Winston surveillance video: I just saw the Publix surveillance video that show FSU QB Jameis Winston heisting crab legs. You can too by clicking here. Video via Leon County Sheriffs Department and Tallahassee.com. 

HEROIC CAT RESCUES BOY FROM DOG ATTACK: You may have heard of this, If you haven'g seen it yet, you need to. This is the Feline of the Year!


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May 14, 2014

G5: Heat 96, Brooklyn 94: Early Wade surge, late miracle rally carry Miami to East finals; plus Heat 3 Stars named, new Dolphins odds, Van Gundy & more

1aa1baby1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 14. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron hits 49 in Heat-Nets Game 4, Jose Fernandez injury rocks Marlins, Dolphins draft vote. 2) Join us Twitter @gregcote.

Note to Blog Family: Civility, please? Respect? If your discourse slinks into racism or hate, this is the wrong blog for you. Please don't make me play Censor/Cop and ban people. Play nice!

Click on What Champions Do for my column from the arena off tonight's series-clinching Heat win.

G5: HEAT 96, BROOKLYN 94: MIRACLE RALLY LEADS MIAMI TO EAST FINALS: Do you believe in miracles? Well you do now, dammit. The Heat rallied from eight points down with less than three minutes left, rallied with a closing 14-3 run to eliminate Brooklyn 96-94, win this playoff series 4-1, and advance to the NBA's Eastern finals for the fourth straight year. Dwyane Wade (28 points) provided the early spark and LeBron James (29) was a bulldog, struggling on 6-of-14 shooting but bulling to the rim through tough, tough defense to earn 17 free throws. Ray Allen also came up huge again, when it mattered, hitting the late go-ahead three -- after he'd been 0-for-6 on 3's before then -- and knocking the ball from Joe Johnson's hand on the Nets' last-second possession. Watch for my column from the game, posting online soon. Original post: Miami's 3-1 second-round series lead after LeBron James' 49-point show in Brooklyn Monday means the Nets must win three games in a row, 1aa1lebeyes 1aa1heatnetsg5starting tonight here, to take this series.The odds of that happening are roughly akin to those of Donald Sterling launching a successful 1aa1heatg5one-man show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The Nets are done; I think it will end tonight as Miami moves on in the NBA playoffs to await the winner of the Indiana-Washington series now led 3-2 by the Pacers. The Heat are assured more rest than their next foe by winning tonight. The guess is that LeBron will take on a much lesser role offensively tonight and that Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh (or both) will have their chances for a 20-point night. Pictured: LeBron, with eyes on the prize. The first quarter may be telling tonight. It will indicate whether Brooklyn has fight left or has come to South Beach to lay down.

LeBron/NBA boycott? Threat = pressure: NBA Players Association vice president Roger Mason Jr., a former Heat sub, tells Showtime's Jim Rome in an interview airing tonight that NBA players including LeBron James have told him there will be a player boycott if the L.A. Clippers' Donald Sterling remains an NBA owner when next season begins. It is obvious posturing intended to galvanize and hurry along owners' intentions to oust Sterling. Predictably, dutifully, like a complicit partner, Your Friend the Media has played along with its "LeBron threatens boycott!" scare-headlines. 1) The issue is likely moot because Sterling likely will be gone before next season starts. 2) Even if he isn't, a boycott is extremely unlikely. (Update: LeBron today already began distancing himself from the boycott talk. He said before tonight's game, "A long discussion needs to be held. We'll see what happens.")

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. Dwyane Wade; 2. LeBron James; 3. Ray Allen. Updated standings through nine games, including tonight: LeBron James 22 points, Dwyane Wade 12, Chris Bosh 9, Ray Allen 7, James Jones 2, Chris Andersen 1, Norris Cole 1.

1aa1svgLE BATARD FAILS TO MATCH DETROIT OFFER FOR VAN GUNDY: Stan Van Gundy has accepted a job as Pistons coach and president of basketball ops -- despite the job requiring him to live in or around Detroit. The 5-year, $35 million deal means SVG will be leaving his regular Wednesday radio co-host role on the Dan Le Batard Show. The show failed to keep Van Gundy when he turned down Le Batard's counteroffer of a raise to $100 per week, a free lifetime ESPN The Magazine subscription, limitless 790 The Ticket bumper stickers and a Highly Questionable T-shirt.    

DOLPHINS, NFL POST-DRAFT ODDS: On winning the Super Bowl, via Bovada, it's now Seahawks 6-1, Broncos 7-1, Patriots and 49ers both 15-2 and Packers 12-1, with Miami tied for 21st at 50-1. (Guess Ja'Wuan James has not lit up the wagering public). Offensive rookie picks are Mike Evans at 3-1, Sammy Watkins 4-1 and Johnny Manziel 15-2. Defensive rookie frontrunners are Jadeveon Clowney 2-1 and Khalil Mack 4-1. Michael Sam is expected to make the Rams' opening-day roster, at 2-1.

DYLAN COVERS SINATRA: Bob Dylan on his forthcoming album covers an old and somewhat obscure Frank Sinatra song, Full Moon & Empty Arms. Maybe it is not your flavor. It really isn't mine. But Sinatra was an American original and I'm a big Dylan fan and admirer, so for me it's worth a listen. Here it is:


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