August 21, 2014

Time for baseball to reinstate Pete Rose. Yes or no? New poll. Vote now!; plus lions fight crocodile (video), your verdict on Stanton & more

1aa1acroc1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 21. Happy birthday (of undisclosed numeral) to my best friend and wife, and also a happy 75th to my boyhood idol, Carl Yastrzemski. 2) I told y'all SI Jinx would crush Mo'Ne Davis! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ways Marlins can keep Stanton with poll, Manziel's bird, Mo'Ne's jinx, Allen's home, Dear Greg, Stitches & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Stanton, Yelich pitch-count leaders: Via baseball stats maven BIll Chuck: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton is best first-pitch hitter in MLB this season, with a .548 average when count is 0-0. Teammate Christian Yelich leads majors at .533 when count is 1-1.

TIME TO REINSTATE PETE ROSE AND LET HIM ON HALL BALLOT: I have a new column on this online and in today's/Friday's print editions (front page is below right); click Bring Pete Home to read in full. I got a jump on it here as a sort of special 1aa1arose2h'orsdouvre 1aa1arose1for our blog readers. This week marks the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose's banishment-for-life from baseball for gambling; he bet on his team, the Reds, while a manager. Now he's 73, and still in purgatory. I say it's time -- with a new commissioner taking office in January -- for MLB to reinstate Rose and in turn allow him on the Hall of Fame ballot. He has done more than enough time to fit the crime. ESPN had an unremarkable Outside The Lines special on this last evening. The most memorable thing in it was outgoing commissioner Bud Selig, asked why he has not acted on Rose's appeal for reinstatement, calling it "under 1aa1aproseadvisement." The appeal was 17 years ago! (Take your time, Bud...) Rose is pictured at left back in the day and at right looking all curmudgeonly on the OTL show. Rose is not likeable to many; quite the opposite, but even the irascible deserve a second chance. No team will hire Rose for anything meaningful at his age, with his past, so, realistically, reinstatement would be limited to ceremonial stuff like allowing him to attend the 2015 all-star game in Cincinnati, and, mainly, giving the sport's all-time hits leaders his shot at Cooperstown. No guarantee he'd make it. Voters might lump him with the Steroids Era Guys, stamp him persona non grata and keep him out. I just think he deserves a chance. Let the voters decide if they are as forgiving as I hope baseball finally will be. OK that's me. Last word to you. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Marlins fans (slightly) more optimistic about keeping Stanton: We asked if you thought it likelier the Marlins would trade Giancarlo Stanton before he becomes a free agent or be able to re-sign him long-term, and 74.6 percent predicted a trade. We asked the same question in January 2013 and 78.0 predicted a trade, so optimism at least has increased ever so slightly.

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July 14, 2014

Heat's post-LeBron outlook. Poll, vote; plus Wade sacrifices again, Stanton gags, Radio Tuesday, Pouncey's woe, Hot Button Top 10 & more

1aa1aklotzr1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 16. Red Klotz (pictured), maybe the biggest loser in sports history, yet beloved, is dead at 93. For 60 years he played for, managed or otherwise ran the Washington Generals and other prop-opponents that toured with -- and lost to -- the Harlem Globetrotters. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron-gone poll, Germany wins World Cup, Heat add Luol Deng & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Dengue Fever: Mosquito-borne tropical disease.

Deng Fever: Heat fans' excitement over Luol Deng.

Updated NBA championship odds: New via our friends at Bovada, LeBron's Cavaliers are favorites ar 7-2, followed by Spurs 9-2, Bulls and Thunder both 13-2, and Rockets and Clippers both 10-1. Miami is 25-1, which is ninth overall and fourth in East.

THE HEAT OUTLOOK, POST-LEBRON: The flurry is settling. LeBron James is gone. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade (notably) will be back, along with Udonis Haslem (official today), Mario Chalmers and Chris "Birdman" Andersen. Wade also became official today, accepting a two-year deal not a longer one, which is a huge positive for the Heat. Luol 1aa1aboshDeng has been added, along with Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. Someone else may yet be added, but it will likely be a role player in that $2.7 million exception slot, not someone of great significance. Basically, we now know what the Heat will look like entering the 2014-15 season. The loss of LeBron is seismic and makes Miami appreciably worse. Now, it will be interesting to see how Bosh is deployed and if he is up to leading, and if Wade can develop a 3-point shot and revitalize himself phyiscally. Deng looks to me like a solid, underheralded add. The Heat's Big 3 is surely downsized post-LeBron, but I think Bosh-Wade-Deng make a decent one. (Bosh is pictured in what he posted on Instagram to announce he'd be back). An onus he hasn't had before will be on coach Erik Spoelstra. I think the Heat still will be among the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, a threat to compete to reach the Finals, but not a championship contender. What is your outlook as of now? How has Pat Riley done in response to the loss of his irreplaceable superstar? Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Most fans understand, support LeBron's decision to leave: We asked -- Do you blame LeBron for leaving? -- the response was enormous, and 63.1 percent said no and wished him well. Yes-I'm-upset-at-him drew 17.8%, and another 19.1% were undecided or had mixed feelings. In Florida the percents were 61.5 no/wish well, 14.4 yes/upset at him, and 24.1 undecided/mixed.

STANTON GAGS IN HR DERBY; JETERFEST TONIGHT: Marlin's Giancarlo Stanton sort of choked in the Home Run Derby last night in rainy Minneapolis, impressively advancing to earn a bye, but then gagging with zero homers in the round that could have put him in the finals. Yoenis Cespedes won. Big letdown for Stanton, whose power is made for the Derby and who was a betting favorite going in. The Home Run Derby has pretty much become something that sucks, by the way. Tonight is the All-Star Game, a.k.a. a three-hour living euology for Derek Jeter. 

MIKE POUNCEY'S TAILSPIN: Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and brother Maurkice assaulted a man at Cameo night club on Miami Beach around 4:20 a.m. Saturday, according to the alleged victim, Ricky 1aa1apounceybdayVasquez. It is said to have happened during the twins' annual advertised birthday blowout (see photo). Vasquez on Twitter claimed he had been "gay bashed," and a woman who witnessed the beating also went on Twitter. A police report and a related lawsuit have been filed; no charges as of today/Tuesday. Whether or not there are, the Dolphins should publicly address the situation. Recall that Mike Pouncey was a figure in last year's Bullygate mess, embarrassed himself with a related Tweet, and was photographed wearing a hat in support of accused murderer Aaron Hernandez. When Pouncey underwent hip surgery last month I wrote in the blog, "I wonder if he is just coming into the prime of a Pro Bowl-caliber career, or if we have seen his best and can expected a flameout. That may be harsh. Let's find out." The latest alleged incident piles on.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot Button is a 1aa1ahotbuttonnew feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package is on hiatus until August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. Heat: LeBron leaves Miami: The unthinkable happened. LeBron James left Miami to take his talents (back) to Cleveland. The good news, relatively speaking: Miami contracts (Luol) Deng Fever.

2. Baseball: All-Star festivities: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton is betting fave in tonight's Home Run Derby in Minneapolis. Stanton and pitcher Henderson Alavrez will rep Miami in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

3. World Cup: Germany wins: Viva Deutschland! Or something like that. Lionel Messi and Argentina fell. The good news for Argentines? You were still better than Brazil.

4. Marlins: Slumping into break: Team had lost foive of six and slumped to fourth place in NL East entering the Midsummer Classic. BOLO alert for those playoff hopes.

5. Dolphins: More Pouncey trouble: With July 25 start of training camp looming, center Mike Pouncey finds himself accused of a gay-bashing at a Miami Beach nightlcub. True or not, an embarrassment.

6. UM football: 2 Canes get boot: JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa were kicked off team and from school relalted to a sexual battery on campus. Some students never learn.

7. British Open: Tiger tries again: Golf's third of four majors is this week, with Tiger Woods seeking his fourth British but first since '06. Remeber the old days when Tiger was the favorite in any major?

8. Panthers: Developmental camp: Recent No. 1 pick Aaron Eklbad led the young Cats skating in club's developmental camp. Yes, that in out Top 10  does mean the dog days are here.

9. Wimbledon: Fortnight ends: Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova won and anounced plans to use their earnings to buy the missing vowel in their surnames.

10. College football: Preseason awards: The watch lists are out. FSU quarterback Jameis Winston is listed in categroies of player of the year and crab-leg stealing.

MY ILL-TIMED SUMMER VACATION: Me and a family-n-friends party of six returned Sunday from a week's sojourn aboard the biggest cruiseship in the world, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. (I don't
1aa1agolfbahamaswanna say it's a huge ship, but we took a cab from our stateroom to dinner). The LeBron-gone news broke while I was away, and I wrote a column from the ship's Internet room somewhere off the Virgin Islands. We had a great time touring Nassau and St.  Maarten. Three of us played golf at the tony Oean Club near Paradise Island, Bahamas, not the most famous course I have played (Pebble Beach), but the most aesthetic with its ocean vistas. My kid Christopher and I (pictured) both birdied the par-4 17th. Birdies are routine for him. They make me do mental cartwheeels and backflips. NBA star Carlos Boozer was aboard our cruise, ogled and approached by fans who hated to bother him but did, anyway. I gained five pounds on a diet of alcohol and nonstop eating. Finished Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes over cigars on deck. Even did quite well in the casino especially on the roulette table, including a hit with five chips on 33 and four on 20. A great time. But I told you all to mind LeBron while I was gone. Geez I can't leave you people for a minute!

1aa1agermanrabbitDEAR GREG...: "...Your blog's OK but would be  better if occasionally you would show a picture of a man carrying a gigantic rabbit. Thank you." Dear Reader: I doubt there is such a thing but I'll check.

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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 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 

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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February 12, 2014

Name NBA's Mount Rushmore. Last day to vote!; plus lunch with Dennis Hickey, more from Richie, freaky Westminster dogs & more

1aa1avalday1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to the ladies. To the romantically challenged gents, this is your reminder. 2) I'm back up at Random Evidence Laboratories today coaxing Sunday's notes-column package. 3)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill short-leash poll, Michael Sam, LeBron's dunks, topless Olympian, the Beatles and me, Puig's dogs, Dumb Starbucks & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

LeBron sends a message to Durant: That is what LeBron James' eventful week was all about. Click on The King's Proclamation for today's latest column by me.

HELP LEBRON JAMES PICK NBA'S ALL-TIME MOUNT RUSHMORE: The Heat's LeBron James was asked to name his all-time NBA Mount Rushmore in an NBA TV interview to air this coming Monday. With some 1aa1amtrushease he named Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. After some thought he added Oscar Robertson. Pressed to consider himself, a refreshingly immodest James said, "I'll be one of the top four that's ever played the game for sure. Somebody'll have to be bumped." OK, your turn. Who, right now, in 2014, would make your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of four greatest players? To form my 13-man (alphabetical) ballot I pulled 10 names off the 50 Greatest Players list selected in 1996, and arbitrarily added three more recent stars: Kobe, LeBron and Tim Duncan. Plenty of terrific players didn't make the cut; neither did current young stars such as Kevin Durant whose careers are still taking shape. Scan the ballot, vote for your top four (4) and say why.

LUNCH WITH NEW DOLPHINS GM HICKEY: A little peek behind the curtain. This week the Miami Herald had a luncheon with new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey, at the team's invitation, at Bin 595 at the Plantation Renaissance. The Herald reps consisted of myself, Dolphins writers Adam Beasley and 1aa1adhickArmando Salguero, and Buzz impressario Barry Jackson. With Hickey were Dolphins media-relations legend Harvey Greene and his two able lieutenants Jason Jenkins and Fitz Ollison. The affair was casual and off-the-record, which is why there isn't much meat in this item, just general impressions. Hickey, between bites of Caesar salad, deftly parried questions to provide as little real info as possible, even off-the-record. Example: I asked him how many starter-caliber offensive linemen he thinks he has on the roster right now. "What do you think?" he replied. I told him one (his center) or two at most. He responded expertly, meaning he didn't really answer the question. Nevertheless, I found Hickey to be affable, relaxed and media-friendly -- words rarely used to describe predecessor Jeff Ireland. Hickey (married father of two, devoutly religious, relaxes on a 22-foot boat, gives you a firm shake and a look in the eye) seems like genuinely nice guy. Now we'll see if he's a genuinely good GM. My Cobb salad was delicious, by the way.

DEAR RICHIE: SHHH...: If I were Richie Incognito's agent or his lawyer or the PR firm hired to reshape his image -- if I were anyone who cared at all about Richie -- my advice to him, in language he might understand, might be: "Dude, bro, #STFU." This week brought another fusillade of Twitter rants by Incognito that meant to make adversary Jonathan Martin look bad but hurt Incognito's cause instead. In one, Incognito confided that Martin once "told me he thought about taking his own life." That's a low-blow Tweet, whether true or not. Incognito needs to STFU as he awaits the NFL Bullygate report, because right now he is Tweeting out red flags to every team that might be his future employer.

Poll result: Trust and patience for Tannehill: We asked in last blogpost if you thought Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill should be on a "shorter leash" in 2014, and 68.3 percent said no. Only 22.7% said yes, and the other 9.0% were undecided.

WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB: DOGS GONE WILD: I raptly watched the final of the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this week, rooting in vain for a bloodhound named Nathan. The whole event is 1aa1apoodleabsurdly comical without meaning to be, an annual reminder why Best In Show is one of my favorite movies ever. The real Best In Show, last night, went to a prancing 5-year-old wire fox terrier named Sky, pictured 1aa1bestinshowleft, but what caught my fascination was the second-place dog, the outrageously coifed standard poodle named Ally pictured right. Sky, except for the meticulously groomed beard that makes him look like an old English gentleman, looks like a fairly normal dog. Like a pet. Ally, not so much. No offense, Ally -- thank God dogs can't read -- but you have been given a fur-cut that makes you look ridiculous. Even Nathan the bloodhound opened his sleepy eyes long enough to ogle you and shake his giant head.

ON SHAUN WHITE'S OLYMPIC HALFPIPE CHOKE: Yeah, sorry, I do call it a choke when the master of a 1aa1aswhiteparticular discipline gets on the biggest stage and fails to even medal. Honestly, I don't even know why the halfpipe (or slopestyle) are Olympic events at all. It's skateboarding gone wild, X Games stuff. You can turn the halfpipe from concrete or wood to ice and it's still something I'd sooner expect to see dope-smoking 15-year-old slackers doing, not Olympic athletes. I know the preceding makes me sound like I'm a thousand years old. Whatever. The halfpipe is the IOC pandering for a younger demographic. To be fair, I'd eliminate other Olympic sports, too. Curling? Outta here!

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May 01, 2013

Good news on Heat's preference for next round; plus Dolphins' biggest need (with poll), Tebow rumor, Broussard, Sad-O-Meter, glowing sheep & more

1aa1king1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 2. Happy dos de Mayo! 2) Always been a big Snoop Dogg fan. Now here is the reincarnated, reggae-fied Snoop Lion: Here Comes The King. 3) Panthers not making the NHL postseason? Unfortunate. Me not having to feign interest in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Priceless! 4) Click on Weatherman Battles Hiccups on Air for funny vid. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA's gay player, Dolphins' SB odds, Ed DuBois, Sad-O-Meter. 5bJoin us on Twitter @agregcote.

Dolphins/Tebow rumor: How'd it start? I mean beyond ther usual Internet nonsense? Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on WQAM this week he "wouldn't be shocked" if Miami showed interest in free agent QB Tim Tebow. That's how. Drew was doing what good agents do: Trying to drum up business. Tying to create the illusion of smoke so there appears to be fire. Most who follow the team closely would be far more shocked than Rosenhaus if Miami showed any interest. Bet against it. Big.

HEAT (AND FANS) SHOULD HAVE CLEAR PREFERENCE IN BULLS-NETS SERIES: [Update: Nets beat Bulls tonight to tie series 3-3, with Game 7 in Brooklyn]. What opponent should Heat players and fans most want to face in the second round starting Monday in Miami? Players would never say it because to do so would build confidence in the team they'd least like to play or incentive in the one they'd prefer. (Also, the confident Heat "fears" no team; Miami instills fear in others). But there is no doubt the Heat matches up better with Brooklyn than 1aa1aheadChicago and should hope the Nets -- who tied the series tonight and now host Game 7 -- can win one more. Miami was 3-0 vs. Brooklyn this season by an average margin of 18 points, but only 2-2 vs. Chicago, which ended Miami's 27-game win streak. But it's more than that, and more than the possibility (however remote) that Bulls star Derrick Rose could make his lonnnnng-awaited return in the next round. It is that Chicago defends Miami's strength better than any team in the NBA. LeBron James driving and then kicking it out for an open corner-3 (Ray Allen's moneymaker) is a huge part of the Heat's game. Miami shot 44 corner 3's in swamping Milwaukee in the first round, or 11 per game. But Chicago's defense this season allowed an NBA-low 3.6 corner-3 attempts per game. statwonk Tom Haberstroh has more on this here. Defensively the Bulls were better than the Nets this season in most categories, but it is their denying the corner-3 that would most challenge the Heat. Also worth noting, Chicago outrebounded Miami by 36 (175-139) in the four season meetings, and limited the Heat to 30 percent on 3-point shots (21-for-70), versus Miami's 41% on 3's against everybody else. Don't get me wrong. Miami still would be a heavy favorite to beat the Bulls, and deservedly. But the challenge would be a stark contrast to the playoffs' "soft opening" in that sweep of the Bucks.

DOLPHINS' BIGGEST REMAINING HOLES, POST-DRAFT: Left tackle seems to be getting most of the current attention and tryout calls (which must make Jonathan Martin feel like crap), and I can 1aa1helpunderstand that. But for me there are other roster soft spots of some concern. They include cornerback, where starters Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall would hardly count among the NFL's best tandems; tight end, where Dustin Keller is a marginal upgrade over departed Anthony Fasano; and perhaps running back, where Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas leave Miami lacking proof. Also wonder if we might add linebacker, where Koa Misi and newcomers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler have much to prove in an overhauled unit. What do you think is the Dolphins' biggest remaining area of concern and why?

Poll note: One choice above is garnering roughly two-thirds of all the votes. There is a phrase in the business for something like that. The phrase is, "Lousy poll idea."

PETITION TO SUSPEND BROUSSARD CIRCULATING: ESPN basketball analyst Chris Broussard is under fire for calling out-of-the-closet NBA player Jason Collins a sinner and saying his homosexuality is an 1aa1fa"open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ." The faith-based group Faithful America (click for the petition) is collecting online signatures calling for ESPN to suspend Broussard for what the group's executive director Michael Sherrard called allowing Broussard to "mischaracterize our faith and use the teachings of Jesus as the basis for gay-bashing." Faithful America's slogan is, "Love thy neighbor. No Exceptions."

MARLINS "SAD-O-METER" LIVES ON: We have this new blog feature 1aa1bbsadwe're updating as long as the Marlins' winning percentage is under .300. The New York Mets' 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is widely regarded as the single worst season in modern MLB history and the Marlins had been on pace to threaten that ignominy. A recent three-game win streak almost tipped the Fish up over .300 to at least temporarily shut down our Sad-O-Meter, but tonight in Philly made it two losses in a row. So: MARLINS SAD-O-METER: Current record, 8-21 (.276). Updated season pace, 44.69 wins, 117.31 losses.

1aa1glowsheepSOUNDS LIKE A BAA-AAAD IDEA: Scientists in Uruguay have engineered a "genetically modified" sheep that glows in the dark. (And you became a scientist for what exactly!?) WWMT? [What Would (Ron) Magill Think?] Click here for the story. Remember. This is a blog. I couldn't say it if it weren't true.

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March 28, 2013

Pat Riley to Ainge: "Shut the f--- up"; plus Sweet 16 morphs to Elite 8, Dolphins land CB Brent Grimes, Marlins' odds, Bosh's camel & more

1aa1mrt[1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 30. Headed down to Key Biscayne to columnize off women's tennis final. Quiet, please! 2) Pictured right: Mr. T playing hockey. Just because. 3) Thanks again to ESPN SportsCenter for having us on this week to discuss Heat streak and Canes' NCAA run. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat streak ends, Dolphins new logo/poll, Heat Big 5@70, Madness, Tiger Woods, men's tennis. 5) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

Dolphins sign CB Brent Grimes: He's 29, only 5-10 and coming off an injury, but if healthy Grimes, the ex-Falcon, is a starter-caliber guy capable of replacing departed Sean Smith. I see him  as Miami's third biggest free-agency get of this offseason after WR Mike Wallace and LB Dannell Ellerbe. Having said that, given his age and the fact he signed only a one-year contract, Grimes feels like a temporary mend at cornerback rather than a real answer.

Marlins' betting odds (they ain't good): Bovada's final preseason MLB odds find Marlins 200-1 to win the World Series; only Astros at 250-1 have longer odds. Favorites are Nationals at 7-1, Tigers/Blue Jays both 8-1, and Angels/Dodgers both 9-1. NL East odds are Nats 5-6, Braves 12-5, Phillies 3-1, Mets 15-1 and Marlins 40-1. Over/under on Miami wins: 63.5.

RILEY FIRES BACK AT LEBRON CRITICISM: Heat beat Hornets on road last night 108-89 to clinch top seed in Eastern Conference behind LeBron James' 36 points -- but that isn't the story. The story is Heat president Pat Riley firing back at Celtics prez Danny Ainge for calling it "embarrassing " that James complained abot officiating and hard fouls in the loss at Chicago. "Danny Ainge needs to shut the f--- up and manage his own team," Riley said in a statement. "He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing..." Think about that. Riley telling a contemporary to "shut the f--- up." In a statement released through the club. You go, boy!

CANES COLD EARLY, CAN'T RECOVER IN LOSS TO MARQUETTE IN SWEET 16: A really disappointing ending to the season last night in the Sweet 16 for the Hurricanes, in a 71-61 loss to Marquette. The final score flattered Miami, which came out cold and never could recover. Marquette couldn't miss, shot 54 percent from the field, while UM shot a clanky 35.5%. (Durand Scott, Trey McKinney-Jones and Rion Brown were a combined 8-for-35). Very tough to overcome a 16-point first half at this level, on this stage. Second-seeded Miami was a scant 5-point favorite in Washington, D.C. I liked the Canes and did not 1aa1canes16feel the knee-related absence of center Reggie Johnson, who had become a role player, would be a key factor. But cold shooting sure was. Congrats to Miami for only the second Sweet 16 run in school history, but this is not how, or when, a No. 2 seed envisions going out. ..... My bracket's wishes: Thursday night--Wanted wins by Miami, Ohio State and Indiana; did not have a dog in the Wichita State-LaSalle hunt. (If you did, bless you!) Last night--Needed wins by Louisville, Michigan, Duke and Florida. I have five teams left in the Elite Eight, but Indiana losing was the ultimate bracket killer for me; I'd hunched Hoosiers winning it all. I am forked.

Last night's Sweet 16 quartet:

* No. 1 Louisville d. No. 12 Oregon, 77-69; in Indianapolis, Ind. Louisville was favored by 11. Cardinals roll on, if not quite comfortably.

* No. 4 Michigan d. No. 1 Kansas, 87-85 (OT); in Arlington, Tex. Kansas was favored by 2. I liked Meechigan (that was for you, Mandich) in a slight upset and nailed it, if luckily, and late.

* No. 2 Duke d. No. 3 Michigan State, 71-61; in Indianapolis. Duke was favored by 2. The Diablo Azur and Coach K repping the ACC.

* No. 3 Florida d. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, 62-50; in Arlington. Florida was favored by 14. Like Gators to win but not cover. Cinderella FGCU, led by coach Andy Enfield's wife, Amanda Marcum, did not go dwn without a fight. Eagles led big early before fading.

Thursday night's results:

* No. 3 Marquette d. No. 2 Miami, 71-61; in Washington, D.C. Miami was favored by 5. Canes shoot 35.5%, pick a very bad time to be Ice Ice (Cold) Baby.

* No. 2 Ohio State d. No. 6 Arizona, 73-70; in Los Angeles. OSU was favored by 3 1/2. Buckeyes needed a 3-point basket with 2 seconds left to avoid overtime. 

* No. 4 Syracuse d. No. 1 Indiana, 61-50; in Washington. Indiana was favored by 5 1/2. Marquee game of night found Hoosiers following Canes path with early hole, poor shooting.

* No. 9 Wichita State d. No. 13 LaSalle, 72-58; in L.A. Wichita State was favored by 4. Mutt game of the night except to the involved schools.

Natonal championships represented by Thursday's four games: 10 -- 5 by Indiana (1987-81-76-53-40); 1 each by Syracuse (2003), Arizona (1997), Marquette (1977), Ohio State (1960) and LaSalle (1954); 0 by Miami and Wichita State.

National championships represented by Friday's four games: 15 -- 4 by Duke (2010-01-92-91); 3 by Kansas (2008-88-52); 2 each by Florida (2007-06), Michigan State (2000-79) and Louisville (86-80); 1 each by Michigan (1989) and Oregon (1939); 0 by Florida Gulf Coast.

Elite Eight matchups: Tonight--3-Marquette vs. 4-Syracuse and 2-Ohio State vs. 9-Wichita State. Sunday--1-Louisville vs. 2-Duke and 3-Florida vs. 4-Michigan.

DOUG GOTTLIEB'S AWKWARD WHITE MOMENT: CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb found himself on the set alongside four African-American gentlemen during last night's NCAA coverage and introduced himself 1aa1douggthusly: "I'm just here to bring diversity to the set. Give kind of the white man's perspective on things..." He is pictured here in the midst of burying himself. It was awkwardly received with what sounded like nervous, forced laughter. Gottlieb later apologized. With Twitter blowing up against Gottlieb, Charles Barkley, during the broadcast, defended Gottlieb by saying the panel was not offended, and that listeners should "get a life" and move on. As a spokesman for the White Community, I was not offended, either.

WHY STREAK ENDING IS GOOD THING FOR HEAT: Dwyane Wade after the loss in Chicago halted Miami's win streak at 27 games: "Now that's it over, I'm glad it's over. See you all in the playoffs." Wade is pictured right with that things-are-looking-up attitude. Perfect. It would be disengenuous to now claim the record (Lakers, 33) didn't matter to the Heat, but it 1aa1dwadechinever mattered most, or even close. As coach Erik Spoelstra said: "It has never been about the streak. We have a bigger goal in mind." Now the pressure of an historic streak disappears. The incessant questions about the 1972 Lakers cease. And the Heat can start focusing again on being the best/healthiest/most rested and ready team it can possibly be when the playoffs begin. Winning 34 games in a row to break a long-standing NBA streak record would have been special. But winning four games in the NBA Finals in June -- again -- would be better by a lot. As a bonus, Heat fans, too, can now return to their normal rhythm, which had been rudely interrupted by two months of perfection. Time to dust off our nit-picking nature, Miami, and wonder and worry anew whether the Heat has the rebounding necessary to repeat.

Quantifying interest that Heat streak generated: Sun Sports tells us that Miami-Fort Lauderdale ratings during the streak averaged 9.1, a 30 percent spike over the season average of 6.95 --itself a Miami-area record for Heat ratings. The highest-rated game was March 18 vs. Boston, drawing a 12.2. Last night's streak-ending loss at Chicago was the sixth straight game in which a Heat telecast on Sun (10.6) out-rated ESPN (6.6) head to head in the South Florida. 

1aa1boshcamelHOW THE RICH AND FAMOUS ARE DIFFERENT THAN YOU AND I (one in a series): When we have a birthday, maybe it's a quiet dinner out with a few friends or a Carvel ice-cream cake from Publix. When Chris Bosh of the Heat has a birthday, it's a "Moroccan-Style" bash at Miami's Briza on the Bay featuring belly 1aa1camelsdancers, fire breathers and a live camel named Henri. Oh, and it is "presented by Remy Martin V." Of course it is! The exotic soiree will April 3 as Chris turns 29. My rejected theme for the party: "No Drama -- Just Dromedary!" Bosh is pictured right in the official poster for the party (the parties of the rich and famous have official posters). At left, members of the camel community kvetch and snipe over why Henri (of all camels) seems to gets all the celebrity gigs.

1aa1dolhelPoll result: Mixed reviews for Dolphins' new logo: We asked in the previous blogpost if you prefer the new Dolphins' logo over the current one (you may still vote) and support for the new logo (47.4 percent) was lagging narrowly behind loyalty to the current one (52.6%). By the way, how would you like to be newly signed Dolphins guard Lance Louis? You make your big free-agent announcement yesterday but nobody is paying attention because everybody is talking about your new team's bleepin' LOGO!

SUPER BOWL SCAM TRACED TO BROWARD MAN: Oh, the shame! Oh, the sham! A Broward man, Robert Pham, 37, of Coral Springs, has been arrested as the culprit who bilked two 49ers fans out of $5,900 on Craigslist. Story here. Instead of mailing the fans two Super Bowl tickets Pham allegedly mailed them a taunting note that read, Go Ravens! LOL! Talk about mean-spiritedness.

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February 19, 2013

Canes win again as UM receives NCAA Notice of Allegations; plus Lil Wayne vs. Heat, fixing NBA All-Stars, Dolphins, goats & more

ESPN Outside The Lines on UM/NCAA case today: I'll be among guests on the show starting at 3 p.m. Please watch anyway.

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron schools Michael, Canes win again, Battier tops Wade, Stanton, Cristobal, Robbie Rogers. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Canes win again; UM receives NCAA Notice of Allegations: No. 2-ranked UM men's basketball wins at home last night over Virginia, 54-50, the key play a late Reggie Johnson layup off a Shane Larkin pass. Meantime The U received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA in the Nevin Shapiro probe and now has three months to officially respond. Allegations include a "lack of institutional control" against UM, as expected. "We have suffered enough," said UM president Donna Shalala. (More on that below). On the brighter side, Jim Larranga's Canes are in a dead heat for national-championship favorites. According to latest Bovada odds, Forida Gators are a slight pick at 5-1, a sliver ahead of Miami and Indiana both at 11-2. Then it's Michigan 15-2 and Duke 9-1. But that was before Florida's latest loss.

NCAA ADMITS WRONGDOING BUT PRESSES ON AGAINST UM, IS BLASTED BY SHALALA: Well, damn, this is getting interesting! The external review of the NCAA's unethical botchery of the UM probe came 1aa1donnasout yesterday and was damning. Turns out investigators went ahead and paid Nevin Shapiro's attorney to improperly obtain info via depositions even though the NCAA's own staff counsel explicitly said not to. Also turns out the NCAA has paid thousands to provide Shapiro a cell phone. Click on Full Report for the 52-page review. NCAA President Mark Emmert -- who seeks outs wrongdoing in colleges when his own organization is corrupted -- said he'll move forward toward a Notice oif Allegations against UM, prompting university President Donna Shalala (pictured) to sharply call for an end to this case with no further punishment beyond what the school already has self-imposed. She is right. Click on UM Has Paid, Now Punish NCAA for Tuesday's latest column by me.

Cristobal leaves UM for 'Bama: Former FIU coach Mario Cristobal, hired Jan. 10 by UM as an assistant, is leaving five weeks later for Alabama and Nick Saban's staff, as offensive line coach. The move is unfortunate for the Canes and Al Golden but not a big surprise. Cristobal wants to be a head coach again as soon as possible and felt a national-championship staff would be his best springboard. Hard to argue.

LIL WAYNE DROPS F-BOMBS ALL OVER MIAMI HEAT: Glad to see everybody else is catching up to what you read here first on The original post: "F--- the Heat, f--- LeBron, f--- She-Wade and I f---ed Chris Bosh wife." That is what rapper Lil Wayne said to a crowd during NBA All-Star Weekend at a 

1aa1carterbirthday celebration for fellow Young Money rapper Birdman, according to Tweets sent out by two attendees, MTV's Shaheem Reid and Karen Civil. It happened during Wayne's performance at Houston's packed Stereo Live club early Monday morning following the game. Click HERE for a brief video, but be warned it's profane. The diatribe does not surprise. Hip-hop and sports do not intersect any more than in the NBA, and Lil Wayne vs. the Heat has become a rather bizarre offshoot. This is an escalation of Lil Wayne's all-but-declared war on the Heat. The hostility began when Weezy felt disrespected because James and Wade did not acknowledge him courtside during a game. It intensified when Weezy claimed he was ejected from the recent game vs. the Lakers here in which he was rooting for L.A.; the Heat said he eft voluntarily. Now the rapper claims he has been banned from all NBA games and events -- at Miami's orchestration. Here's guessing that, once again, Lil Wayne will not be a featured speaker at the Heat's next championship parade.

HOW TO FIX NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND: For me the most compelling snippet of the NBA's showcase weekend in Houston was late in the All-Star Game itself Sunday, when Kobe Bryant decided to get serious (and personal) with LeBron James, defending him hard and even blocking his shot. It looked like something otherwise unseen in the game: Intensity. Real basketball. Step 1 for fixing All-Star Weekend: Make the game matter. Make it into an actual competition rather than a track-meet/dunk-fest/Globetrotters impersonation where the over/under on total points is always around 285 and it is understood nobody bothers with defense. Have some incentive to win. Could be a charity thing. Could be an extra draft-pick for the winning conference's teams; a de-facto "third round" for half the league. I understand the game is a break for these guys. I'm not saying it should be all-out. But let's find a happy medium somewhere between playoff intensty and the farce it is now. Step 2: Streamline, streamline, streamline. There now are six official all-star events, which is three too many. Pare it back to the game itself, the slam-dunk contest and the 3-point competition. That's it. Sorry, retired players and celebrity-rappers. Step 3: Put players in the slam-dunk contest that fans actually want to watch. This used to be big, remember? An event. It was the NBA equivalent of the Home Run Derby. Now it sucks. It sucks because star dunkmasters want nothing to do with it. Find a way to get the superstars back in it. Because we'd all rather watch LeBron dunk, no matter how good Terrence Ross might be. Step 4: This is important. Make sure all arena personnel in every All-Star city have a photo of diminutive actor/comedian Kevin Hart, so that if he attempts to get in the building -- let alone get on the air -- he might be stopped.

DOLPHINS AND FREE AGENCY: Ravens QB Joe Flacco tops a new list of top 50 NFL free agents. Dolphin pending FAs on it are OT Jake Long (9th), WR Brian Hartline (31st) and DT Randy Starks (36th). Top-rated WRs, a Miami target area, are Greg Jennings (3rd), Wes Welker (6th), Dwayne Bowe (7th), Victor Cruz (13th) and an underrated Mike Wallace (14th). Top-rated CB is Brent Grimes (11th).

1aa1goatGOATS SCREECHING, YELLING LIKE HUMANS: Guess that headline about says it all. Click HERE to watch/listen. 

HEAT BIG 5 @ 50: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially the nerdy-stat variety and so we started this one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's top-five cumulative 1aa1heat5ranking of players having the biggest overall impact based on eight statistical categories. The numbers themselves might not mean much but the numbers relative to each other give an indication of the contribution players are making. The Big 5 @ 50 Games (36-14):

Rank (@45)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   1,916.4

2 (2)   Dwyane Wade   1,315.9

3 (3)   Chris Bosh   1,180.0

4 (5)   Mario Chalmers   740.7

5 (4)   Ray Allen   734.6

Bubble: Udonis Haslem, 497.8

1aa1ebert"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a vintage picture of a young Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom in 1969. Thank you." Yep here it is, courtesy of Bill Lucey's

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February 12, 2013

Sports in Miami: Still a Football Town or now a Basketball Town? Poll. Vote!; plus Canes win again, affenpinscher, Tiger, the next Pope & more

Hurricanes win again!: No. 3-ranked UM men win last night at Florida State, 74-68. Not easy, but impressive considering Canes had not won in Tally since 2006. Poll position: Protected.

1aa1mj50[1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14. New blogpost coming later this morning. 2) Michael Jordan turns 50 and is on Sports Illustrated's cover for the 50th time. 3) Tiger Woods has confirmed he will play the Honda Classic beginning Feb. 28 in Palm Beach Gardens. Huge. Tiger still the biggest draw in golf. 4) Happy 204th birthday yesterday, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, as most know, is the former vampire hunter who also served as U.S. president. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat and Canes on fire, Grammys, Kate Upton. 5b) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

"I may be paranoid. I heard somebody this week refer to 'Fat Tuesday' and I thought they were talking about me." -- Greg Cote

Click on The Ultimate Double-Double for my recent column, on the possibility Miami this year could accomplish something that has happened only twice in 66 years: One city celebrating an NBA title and an NCAA men's champion the same year.

WHAT ARE WE? FOOTBALL TOWN OR BASKETBALL TOWN?: There used to be no doubt. Miami was a Football Town by acclaim. It was so because, rounded off roughly from 1970 through 2000 we had Super 1aa1basketball 1aa1footballBowls, Don Shula, Dan Marino and five Hurricanes national titles in a seemingly endless run. Neither the Heat nor two Marlins World Series crowns could penetrate the football armor, and Panthers hockey stayed mostly on the periphery. Is football losing its grip, though? The Dolphins and Canes haven't been national powers in a long time, while the Heat have become just that. Now, too, suddenly, UM men's hoops ranks No. 3 in the nation. Does the Canes' emergence and especially the full blossom of the LeBron James Era change the dynamic? is Miami now a Basketball Town or at least moving in that direction? That is what this poll is about. Apologies in advance to baseball, hockey, soccer, cricket and kickball fans, but at this point it's an either/or on football or basketball. Remember, this is not a favorite-team poll, but rather a read on which sport is now bigger here. South Floridians, how do we now think of ourselves in terms of sports? Folks from elsewhere, which sport do you now most associate with Miami? Vote and say why.

BANANA JOE IS TOP DOG: Affenpinscher sounds like a condition I should see my doctor about but 1aa1bananajoeinstead is a breed of small dog, and one of its kind, Banana Joe (pictured) won the big prize this week at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The inherent ridiculousness of pampered, preening, prancing dogs on parade is what inspired a favorite movie of mine, Best In Show, which you absolutely must watch if you have not. Still trying to confirm speculation that Banana Joe celebrated his triumph by taking an unceremonious dump on the red carpet.

IF THE NEXT POPE WAS AMERICAN, AND HE WAS A MIAMI SPORTS FIGURE: It has come to my attention that Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down at the end of this month on account of old age, which 1aa1jackpopehappens once every 598 years. Catholics world-wide are abuzz, and speculation roars: Who'll be the next Pope? Enough with Europe, already. It is time for an American Pope! It also is time for tradition-bound Catholics to think outside the box and anoint someone who is devout but also a lay person. My nominee for next Pope, pictured right, is former Marlins manager Jack McKeon: Pope John Aloysius MMIII (the Roman numerals designating the 2003 Marlins World Series title he won). Jack is the right age for a Pope, 82, and is a devout 1aa1donpopeCatholic who attends Mass regularly. The Pope has worn a baseball hat (right); why then can't a baseman man don a papal hat? The 1aa1bbpopeone possible drawback -- cigar smoke in the Vatican -- could be overcome. Should Jack not accept the post, my two other nominees for next Pope are, pictured left, Don Shula or Edwin Pope. Shula is the right age, 83, and also is a devout Catholic. He would be Pope Donald Francis LXXII (designating the '72 Perfect Season). Edwin Pope, 84, may or may not be a Catholic, or devout, but has 1aa1edwinpopethe perfect name. No Roman numerals would be needed. He simply would be Pope Pope. Should the Catholic Church choose to maintain tradition and require that the next Pope be a Cardinal, there is no clear choice. It might have been Stan Musial, but he just died.

OBAMA'S STATE OF UNION ADDRESS: Forgetting the politics or content of it, I thought the oratory was strong. The "they deserve a vote" chant over the applause on gun-control was effective speech-making. By the way, I hate when the other party gets to air the opposing view right afterward. I'd hate it no matter who was or wasn't in office. To me, a president through his election has won the right to present the State of the Union without an immediate televised counterpoint from the side whose ideas and ideals were not elected. I may be wrong.

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December 14, 2012

SI's disservice to UM, Al Golden and truth; plus NFL predix (Dolphins roll), Heat Big 5 @ 20, RG3's blackness, Dog Court & more

[1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15. Condolences for the victims and loved ones of the awful Connecticut elementary-school shootings yesterday. So, so sad. Click here for Pres. Obama's statement from the White House. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Aquinas rules state: Congrats to St. Thomas Aquinas for bring the state title home to the 954. Love the name of quarterback John O'Korn. O'Korn! Now it's your turn, Miami Central and Cypress Bay. Love the local schools.

Dolphins rule 2 prominent starters out injured: WR Davone Bess (back) and LB Koa Misi (ankle) will miss Sunday's game, the team announced.

REMEMBER WHEN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED WAS ABOVE RUMOR-MONGERING?: I always hesitate to comment negatively on fellow media, and so rarely do. But all of us (me included) have had instances worthy of dubious scrutiny, and that transparency -- the idea that we are not above a microscope -- is a foundation of building trust with readers. In that spirit I would lambast what happened with Sports 1aa1algoldenIllustrated senior college football writer Pete Thamel and Twitter. He wrote that Hurricanes coach Al Golden had "emerged heavily" at Wisconsin and was "mulling a decision today." The strong implication was that Wisconsin was trying to lure Golden from UM and imminently might succeed. Thirty minutes later a second Thamel Tweet read, "Just got word that Golden is flattered [by the interest] but staying at Miami." A UM spokesman called the Tweets and what they implied "preposterous." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Golden was never a candidate at Wisconsin. Golden has said repeatedly he is staying at Miami. He faces legitimate brush fires, such as guys leaving early for the draft and a player's arrest this week in a laptop theft. And he faces a full-out blaze in the coming NCAA sanctions in the Nevin Shapiro mess. It's enough he must recruit against this stuff. Must he also recruit against continued rumors and speculation when all he has said is that he's staying? Here is all I ask both as a journalist and as a reader: Next time some media outlet leads me to believe Golden may be leaving, it had better be something that once was the media's strock-in-trade but increasingly feels quaint: Facts. The truth.

NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS WILL (HAD BETTER) TOP HENNE, SAD JAGS: Not too many Sundays lately find 1aa1fripixMiami a clear favorite in the NFL. This is one. Dolphins should beat Jacksonville with some ease. An interesting subtext will be the QB duel between ex-Dolphin Chad Henne and rookie Ryan Tannehill. Click on Week 15 Gems for all of our latest NFL predictions. And on The Darkest December for our Friday Page column leading with the league's roughest two weeks in memory.

DEATH, TAXES, LEBRON AND KOBE: Predictable as sunrise, the NBA announced that LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are running 1-2 in early fan voting for the NBA all-star game. It is yet another sign that the post-"Decision" backlash against James from 2010 continues to fade by degrees to nonexistence except perhaps in stubborn rogue outposts in and around Cleveland.

HEAT BIG 5 @ 20: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so this sason 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 @ 20 Games (14-6):

Rank (@15)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   731.9

2 (2)   Chris Bosh   539.5

3 (3)   Dwyane Wade   432.7

4 (4)   Ray Allen   345.9

5 (5)   Mario Chalmers   293.7

Bubble: Shane Battier, 195.7

LET RG3 BE HIMSELF. PLEASE?: [Update: Parker has been suspended by ESPN] Rob Parker, black sports columnist for appearing on ESPN's First Take, said of Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III: "He's black, he does his thing, but he's really not down with the cause. He's not one of us." Really? What cause is that, Rob? Because I sort of think he's doing quite well with the cause of helping the Redskins win and turning around a franchise. What must he do to suit your view of blackness, Rob? Adopt hip-hop slang? Wear a dashiki over his uniform? Even Stephen A. Smith was taken aback, saying Parker's comments made him uncomfortable. Let RG3 be himself because that, by most accounts, seems like a pretty wonderful thing.

Poll result: Spoof on Serena Williams was harmless fun: Caroline Wozniacki stuffed her shirt and skirt with towels to mimic Serena's full, buxom figure during a recent exhibition in Brazil. Some saw it as racist. But our readers sure  didn't. We asked in the previous blogpopst and 88.9 percent called it harmless fun. Only 6.0% called it racist or poor taste,with another 5.1 % undecided.

1aa1dog1IF I WERE A CANINE COURT JUDGE...: We recently lost our great dog of almost 16 years, Sandy. She led a wonderful life and made ours better. I love dogs, know dogs, and therefore I would make a good Canine Court judge. I realize that dogs have a capacity for shame and embarrassment, and that is why the "punishment" pictured struck me as funny and earned a pass-along.

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April 30, 2012

G2: Heat 104, Knicks 94: Miami in control, Amare sounds fire alarm; plus Dolphins' play for popularity, Marlins' nightmarish April, giant rubber duck & more

1aa1brooklyn nets 1aa1houseofpain[1) It is Wednesday, May 2. The Heat-Knicks G2 pumpup music: Old-school barroom hip-hop from House of Pain, Jump Around. (Warning: Some of the lyrics might offend the easily offended). 2) Newt Gingrich announced he will formally drop out of the presidential race today, surprising analysts who assumed he'd dropped out weeks ago. 3) The new Brooklyn Nets logo appears at left. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

'LIVE CHAT WEDNESDAY' BIDS NON-TEARY FAREWELL: Join us today 1-2 p.m. for the historic farewell edition of Live Chat Wednesday. The Miami Herald is at least temporarily discontinuing its Q&A Chats, a corporate decision, and that means I'll be clicking my heels like a drunk leprechaun doing the final installment today. I'll be the guy in the middle of the Chat Room wearing the pointy cardboard cone-hat. Click FAREWELL, CHAT to magically transport yourself there today at 1, or to post questions early.

Click on A Little Help? No Help Needed for my latest column. It's on the Heat's championship path clearing with injuries to Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and now Amare Stoudemire, but on a Heat team needing no outside help to look, right now, like the best team in the NBA.

G2: HEAT 104, KNICKS 94: NEW YORK IN MAJOR HOLE AS BIG 3 COMBINE FOR 65 POINTS: Miami taking a big 2-0 series lead up to New York now after G2 Player of the Game Dwyane Wade's 25 points 1aa1heatknicksand early spark led Monday night's home win. After the loss the 1aa1amaretshirtKnicks' Amare Stoudemire cut his left hand when punching the glass case holding a fire extingisher and later was seen boarding the team bus with said hand heavily bandaged, his arm in a sling, his status for Game 3 questionable. Defeat + anger + temper = ugly cocktail. This win was as big for Miami as Game 1 even if the margin was not. The earlier 33-point rout could be brushed off as an aberration. This was a more of a "normal" game, one that found NYK more desperate to have, and yet one the Heat controlled. Nice balance and bench tonight for the Heat, and also a second straight game in which Miami was more dangerous from 3-point land, a supposed Knicks edge in this series. Don't call this first-rounder done. Miami has only held serve. But boarding its flight tonight is a New York squad that surely must know (if not yet admit to itself) that the Heat simply is better. And not by a little. [Original post]: The Knicks' desperation in this series entering tonight's Game 2 here is reflected equally by Miami's 33-point victory in the opener and by the talk now of Jeremy Lin perhaps 1aa1fireknicksreturning from injury as soon as Game 4 -- as if that's the golden ticket. Funny to me that anybody might think the difference for NYK between Game 1 and winning this series is the exhumation of whatever remains of Linsanity. By the way, I think coaching rarely wins an NBA game and didn't in Game 1, but Erik Spoelstra showed some coaching chops with that new-look defense that utterly stymied Carmelo Anthony, and also with the unleashing of his 3-point guys to open up the floor for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Be interesting to see both teams' adjustments for Game 2. The onus is on you, Knicks coach Mike Woodson. Remember, a suddenly available Isiah Thomas is right around the corner ready to step in. (At halftime, if necessary!) Your thoughts on tonight's game and the series are invited.

A LeBron James highlight reel: Click here for a nice 3 1/2-minute YouTube vid that reminds why LeBron James has been this season's MVP. (Heat announcer Eric Reid should renegotiate to be paid by the exclamation point).

1aa1big3kidsPhotos of Heat's Big 3 as kids: Passing this along might be considered mean-spirited of me, insulting to Chris Bosh, in poor taste. But since I grabbed the photo off LeBron James' official Twitter site it means LeBron and therefore the Heat find it amusing, and so my passing it along enjoys the imprimatur of good clean fun. See how that works?

Nike's idiot shoe designer: Nike's Lebron James shoe designer Jason Petrie (the two are pictured) mocked adidas client Derrick Rose after Rose's playoffs-ending knee injury Saturday, Tweeting, "you chose poorly." Perhaps Petrie should awaken to find himself Nike's former shoe designer. Of course the ESPN headline read, 'LeBron's Nike designer jeers Rose after injury,' verifying the media's continuing intention to put LeBron front and center even in controversy he has nothing to do with.

Dolfans give team's draft a grade of B, shading B-plus: I asked, in the prior blogpost, you answered, and Jeff Ireland will like the results. Those grading the Dolphins draft an "A" were at 20.5 percent, "B" 57.3%, "C" 18.1% and "D" 4.1%. That's a strong A-or-B thumbs-up from nearly 80 percent. Poll analysis: Results will play out, of course, but from a fan-perception standpoint this was a successful draft. The fact so many fans were predisposed to be pessimistic or anti-Ireland I think makes the approval that much more impressive.

1aa1mrstannehillTHE DOLPHINS' PUBLIC PLAY FOR POPULARITY AND...: Two more Dolphin draft thoughts: 1) Selecting QB Ryan Tannehill in the first round, drafting two UM Hurricanes (Olivier Venon, Lamar Miller) and now inviting undrafted QB Jacory Harris in for a tryout all feel like decisions made with mending an unhappy fan base in mind. Doesn't make them bad decisions; you know I was for Tannehill. But I think the franchise is beginning to act with fans in mind in a way it hadn't for years. 2) The new wife of Tannehill (married in January, see photo) continues to be just unbearably perky and cute.

EXCLUSIVE! NFL PLAYERS MIGHT BE HIGH: NFL players voted for the current Top 100 that NFL Network has begun annoucing piecemeal, and in the initial blurt of players rated 91st throgh 100th we see Tim Tebow ranked 95th. Titans RB Chris Johnson is ranked 100th. Teams that would rather have Tebow than Johnson: None that I can think of. (No Dolphins in the first wave. Only Jake Long is a lock to be ranked at all). 

MARLINS' ONE-MONTH SUMMARY: OY!: Baseball season has ended its first month and the Marlins' first season in the new ballpark has started off great ... if you don't count the disasterous Muhammad Ali buzzkill Opening Night ceremony, the Ozzie Gullen/Fidel Castro nightmare, and the lack of hitting that has sent the team spiraling into the NL East cellar. On the bright side, the Marlins and their MLB-worst 2-10 road record are away for the next eight straight games.

On David Samson, charity and lying: David Samson, the Marlins' president, recently ran 52.4 miles for charity. Also, Samson recently admitted in The New Yorker that he lied about the team's season-ticket sales in the old stadium (not the first lie Samson's critics would attach to him). Dear Dave: Your charitable side is great. Please take as seriously your credibility as Marlins' president.

LONDON OLYMPICS GIRDS TO THWART TERRORISTS: With the London Olympics less than three months away, some residents of the city have been told they will have British troops and surface-to-air missiles on their rooftops. Ah yes, the Olympics: Celebratring international brotherhood!

GOVERNMENT WASTE IN MIAMI-DADE: People complain (still) about how Miami-Dade couldn't afford to substantially pay for the Marlins' new ballpark. And that's fine. But when you read a story like this -- about 298 brand new vehicles bought by Miami-Dade in 2006-07 and never used -- you are reminded there are things more outrageous in terms of waste and dubious spending.

GENERALLY SPEAKING, PET OWNERS MIGHT BE NUTS: Don't get me wrong. I'm a pet owner (dog, cat). But occasionally I see examples of my kind that make me shake my head. When I see a Pomeranian wearing a designer cardigan, for example. Or when I read a headline like this. (Overheard in dating interview: "But no a-- sniffing on the first date," says the female. "I'm not that kind of dog."

1aa1giantrubberduckDEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of the giant rubber duck that is floating around the world to promote peace. Thank you." Dear reader: OK, but I have to warn you. No way this thing gets past the Somali pirates.

THE LIST: HEAT PLAYOFF SCORING LEADERS: LeBron James' 32-point Game 1 got us wondering what have been Miami's highest individual scoring averages over an entire postseason. The top five:

Average   Player   Year (Games)

33.2   Dwyane Wade   2010 (5)

29.4   Wade   2009 (7)

29.1   Wade   2006 (23)

27.4   Wade   2005 (15)

26.0   Tim Hardaway   1998 (5)

Note: Others to top a 20-point average have been Wade 24.5 (2011), James 23.7 (2011), Wade 23.5 (2007), Alonzo Mourning 21.6 (1999), Mourning 21.6 (2000) and Rony Seikaly 20.7 (1992).

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