February 01, 2012

Grade Hurricanes' 2012 football recruiting class (with poll); plus Angelo Dundee, Super Blog Thursday (pray for Tommy), Matt Moore, LeBron, Cats & more

1aa1punx[1) Happy Groundhog Day! Although it was sad to hear about Punxsutawney Phil (pictured) being run over by that 18-wheeler. Hey that's just a rumor. Can't swear to it. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Triumphant Day for Golden, Canes for today's latest column from me.

1aa1nsd2UM WINS TRACY HOWARD SWEEPSTAKES, CLAIMS TOP-10 CLASS: Tracy Howard (pictured), the elite cornerback from the backyard, 1aa1tracyhowardMiramar High, chose Miami over Florida and FSU in a nationally televised announcement this morning. Howard was the most prominent South Florida football player not yet committed and is a huge National Signing Day prize for the Canes -- one that elevated UM's 2012 recruiting class into the No. 10 spot nationally in ESPN's rankings. Howard's announcement came in his school auditorium, cheers erupting as he pulled on a UM cap and touched his thumbs together in the familar "U" sign. "Why not win in my city and my hometown?" Howard said. "Why not do it here?" A big, big victory for coach Al Golden and the Canes. Howard is the sixth Canes recruit rated in the ESPN Top 150, and the highest ranked at 18th. The others: RB/CB Duke Johnson, Miami Norland (35th); WR Angelo Jean-Louis, Palm Beach Central (41st); DE Tyriq McCord, Tampa Jefferson (96th); S Deon Bush, Miami Columbus (101st); and WR Malcolm Lewis, Miramar (145th). All in all, a big day for Miami considering the school was recruiting under the cloud of likely NCAA sanctions ahead. How do you feel about UM's new recruiting class? Hey, here's a poll! I know, I don't like instant grades, either. So just think of it as a statement of your level of excitement over this class, all things considered. Vote now.

1aa1dundeeANGELO DUNDEE, R.I.P.: Legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee passed away at 90 in a Clearwater hospital last night after a heart attack, family at his side. Dundee shaped Muhammad Ali's career; they are pictured here way back when. Dundee stands with the fight doctor, Ferdie Pacheco, as kings of Miami's heydays in the sweet science, days when the 5th Street Gym reigned. Farewell, Angelo.

1aa1giselleSUPER BLOG THURSDAY: PRAY FOR TOMMY: Supermodel and superwife Giselle Bundchen, a.k.a. Mrs. Tom Brady, sent an email to family and friends that became privvy to the nefarious media. "I feel Tommy really needs our prayer, our support and love at this time," it partly read. Tommy! Giselle is pictured. Should the Patriots lose Sunday, think of it as one of the better consolation prizes out there. Or perhaps two of the better consolation prizes. (I didn't just say that did I?) Two other quick Super Blog Thursday thoughts: 1) EA Sports' annual SB simulation, using Madden NFL '12, has the Giants winning, 27-24, so why play the actual game? 2) The National Chicken Council reports 1.25 billion wings will be eaten Sunday. And that's just by me!

SUPER BLOG WEDNESDAY: MADONNA, ELTON: Madonna, oldish but aging well, is Sunday's Super Bowl halftime performer and her setlist is revealed! Reportedly Madge's 12-minute show will find her lip 1aa1eltonkingadsyncing singing a new song, "Gimmie All Your Luvin," the classics "Ray Of Light and "Vogue," as well as samples of "Music" and Holiday." Meanwhile, the commercials are always a favorite part of the Super Bowl -- according to the people who produce Super Bowl commercials -- and among them Sunday will be a new Pepsi ad featuring Elton John as a king. This would be the same Elton whose feud with Madonna included him recently exhorting her to "lip sync good" on Sunday. Elton is pictured here in a still from the new ad. (Love your music, Sir, but you are one strange, strange man).

A LITTLE R-E-S-P-E-C-T FOR MATT MOORE, PLEASE?: I'm talkin' to you, Brandon Marshall. But not just to you. Click on Chopped Liver for the column by me (and thanks for making it the most-read thing on all of MiamiHerald.com today). See, the Dolphins' opportunities to upgrade their quarterback situation are few, and risky. They almost certainly won't trade up to draft Robert Griffin III. Peyton Manning is looking more and more doubtful for medical reasons. Matt Flynn stands as the likeliest path, but he is unproven with all of two career starts. The options after those three are marginal free agents and lower-ranked draftees. Don't write off Moore just yet. That's all.

MY BLOG READERS VS. STATEWIDE VOTERS: In my Republican primary poll (a few posts back), rounded results were Mitt Romney 48 percent, Ron Paul 25, Newt Gingrich 19, Rick Santorum 9. In Tuesday's statewide vote it was Romney 46, Gingrich 32, Santorum 13, Paul 7. The big difference: More Paulies here, fewer Newts. That's OK.

1aa1bikelebronLEBRON AND HIS BICYCLE: Heat star LeBron James made big news for bicycling (pictured) the 40 minutes or so from his home to the downtown arena for the recent game vs. the Bulls. I'd be more impressed if he biked last night's game: Heat at Milwaukee. Postscript: LeBron scores 24 in first quarter, Heat lead by as many as 18, but somehow lose to Bucks. Miami forming a reputation for rising for the glamor opponents but sometimes coasting vs. the lesser foes. LeBron, though, has been consistent and consistently great. What a season he is having!

PANTHERS' PASS HUGE TEST: It was overshadowed by National Signing Day and the Heat playing, but the Florida Panthers' 4-2 home win over the Washington Capitals last night was the game of the year so far for the Cats -- one for first place in the NHL Southeast. Bulls-at-Heat the other day was billed as a big statement game but it was false drama; those teams will meet again in the playoffs and everybody knows it. With Caps-at-Cats, this was a truer declarative for the Panthers, who must win the division or risk continuing the club's long playoff drought.

TERRELL OWENS BROKE: Terrell Owens says he is broke (story here) after making more than $80 million in his NFL career. The national group, People Who Feel Sorry For T.O., will be meeting tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth. 

Click back. Will be adding to and updating this latest blogpost throughout the day...

November 07, 2011

Will Joe Paterno firing amid scandal hurt or help UM keep Golden?; plus Joe Frazier, R.I.P.; new Marlins unis, danger of Dolphin wins, Heat season & more

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

COULD PENN STATE SCANDAL HELP CANES KEEP GOLDEN?: [Click here for my latest column, on the Penn State scandal and Joe Paterno's firing] Many consider UM coach Al Golden (pictured left) a strong candidate to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State after this season -- a main reason Golden might think of 1aa1happybookleaving Miami. But now as the Jerry Sandusky scandal swamps Happy Valley, costing Paterno his job, one wonders: Would Golden leave UM in part to escape looming NCAA penalties only to take on another program clouded by scandalous controversy? At the very least, it seems less likely. Sandusky, as most know by now, is the longtime former Penn State defensive coordinator indicted on charges of inappropriate sexual behavior including statutory rape 1aa1algagainst eight minor-age boys over a 15-year period. (Irony: The ex-coach's autobiography, pictured right, is titled, Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story. The allegations are not expected to lead to NCAA sanctions, but already have led to resignations. For sure, Joe Pa's eventual replacement will inherit a program whose good name has been hugely damaged, making recruiting that much tougher. [Side note: Sandusky is not related to longtime former Dolphins assistant coach John Sandusky, who happens to also have a son named Jerry who is a former local WSVN sportscaster and now a radio voice for the Baltimore Ravens].

1aa1frazieraliJOE FRAZIER: REQUIEM: The great Smokin' Joe Frazier, gone at 67, taken by liver cancer. It seems every obituary coming out is less about Frazier than about his storied rivalry with Muhammad Ali, but that's OK, because the rivalry was that epic. I was always an Ali guy, mesmerized by his personality and poetry. I remember my brother and I listening on the radio in an unlit room as the "Thrilla In Manila" delivered some of the best drama in the history of sports. The 1970s were halcyon days for me and sports, and "Ali-Frazier" was an important reason. The two men's relationship, in their prime and years later, was complicated, often bitter. Cassius Clay-turned-Ali mocked Frazier, called him a "gorilla" and "Uncle Tom." Frazier, who resented Ali's greater stature and beloved status, fired back without class at times, even mocking a latter-years Ali after he lit the Olympic torch, trembling with Parkinson's. Some would see irony in Ali outliving Frazier. Graciously, Ali's statement on his old rival's passing spoke of respect. Frazier had earned that.

1aa1marlinsnew2 1aa1marlinsnewNEW MARLINS UNIFORMS! (MAYBE...): Official new Marlins uniforms will be revealed Friday night, but the Internet has sprung a hundred leaks and pictured here, above, are a few more. I must say I don't think these are bad. Not in love with the orange jerseys -- too Baltimore Oriole-ish -- but think the others start out OK and are likely to grow on us.  

A LITTLE SUCCESS MUSTN'T CHANGE DOLPHINS' IMPERATIVE: In today's latest column by me -- click here to read -- I explore the risk in the Dolphins experiencing a little success the balance of this season. And I'm not talking about losing out on Andrew Luck. The more Miami wins, the easier ti would be for owner Stephen Ross to convince himself major changes aren't needed. It is a trap to be avoided. From draft plans to front-office and coaching upgrades, Ross must remain strong in his commitment to significant changes.

COTE'S STATE OF THE STATE: Our latest updated weekly ranking of the seven FBS teams in our state, with previous week's rank in parentheses. Entering collball Week 11:

1aa1fla1. FSU Seminoles (1) 6-3, 4-2 ACC

2. Miami Hurricanes (2) 5-4, 3-3 ACC

3. Florida Gators (3) 5-4, 3-4 SEC 

4. S. Fla. Bulls (4) 4-4, 0-4 Big East

5. C. Fla. Knights (5) 4-5, 2-3 C-USA  

6. FIU Panthers (6) 5-4, 2-3 Sun Belt

7. FAU Owls (7) 0-8, 0-6 Sun Belt

ME, FANTASY: Greg's Lobos have faded to 3-6 with a fourth straight loss, this one 134-109. That I cannot win with Aaron Rodgers (38 more points) speaks ill of my drafting, I think. I'm top-heavy on WRs but very weak at running back. Boo, me!

ME, PICKS: Went 9-5 overall and 8-5-1 vs. the spread on my Friday NFL predictions page last week. Nailed the Dolphins' upset of KC and also had two other outright upsets with Jets at Buffalo and Bengals winning at Tennessee. Rolled dice on Chargers over Pack but can't find much shame in a 45-38 loss. Details coming on this Friday's pix page.    

1aa1davisvVONTAE DAVIS: PARTYING AND TARDYING!: Dolphins CB Vontae Davis was made to sit in a corner under a dunce cap and miss the Kansas City trip after missing treatments for a hamstring injury, showing up late to a team meeting, getting into an altercation with Brandon Marshall, and showing up for a practice smelling of alcohol from a night's partying, according to sundry reports. Dear Vontae: Ever heard of a breath mint? Davis, his punishment over and expected back at practice Wednesday, is pictured wading in a vat of vodka. I'm kidding. It's water, probably.

LAMAR MILLER PEGGED MID-1ST ROUND TALENT: Hope UM sophomore running back Lamar Miller doesn't read Todd McShay's latest Top 32 draft projections on ESPN.com. Might give him some ideas about turning pro early. McShay pegs Miller 14th overall.

AND 51 WEEKS LATER...: After UM beat Duke and then the Dolphins won in Kansas City I figured it had been awhile so I looked it up. It was 51 weeks ago, last Nov. 13-14, when the Dolphins and Hurricanes both won on the same weekend. Then it was UM beating Georgia Tech and a day later the Dolphins beating Tennessee -- the club's last home win, by the way.

COMICALLY AWFUL IDEAS IN AMERICAN JOURNALISM: I try to avoid criticizing colleagues, but it has just come to my attention that a certain South Florida newspaper (not mine) is pretending the Heat season is going on and writing about the games that aren't happening. Seriously. I just hope the Sun-Sentinel unnamed newspaper doesn't give LeBron a pretend sprained ankle or anything! The paper explains the premise thusly: "We will offer a look on each scheduled game day of what would have been in play for the Miami Heat had they actually been playing." Here's an even better idea: Please don't!

THE REAL T-30: The Real T-30 is our weekly cumulative, consensus Top 30 college football ranking based on a season-long combination of the three major polls: Associated Press, USA Today, ESPN. Points based on 30 for a No. 1 ranking, 29 for No. 2, etc. The combined ranking entering Week 11:

Rank   Team   Points   (Last week)

1   Louisiana State   965   (1)

2   Alabama   942   (2)

3   Oklahoma   913   (3)

4   Boise State   861   (4)

5   Stanford   852   (5)

6   Oklahoma State   826   (6)

7   Oregon   740   (8)

8   Wisconsin   733   (7)

9   Arkansas   651   (10)

10   Nebraska   623  (9)

11   South Carolina   593   (11)

12   Virginia Tech   572   (12)

13   Clemson   487   (14)

14   Texas A&M   457   (13)

15   Michigan State   434   (15)

16   Michigan   364   (18)

17   FLORIDA STATE   350   (16)

18   West Virginia   338   (17)

19   Texas   299   (19)

20   Kansas State   268   (22)

21   Georgia Tech   263   (23)

22   FLORIDA   262   (20)

23   Houston   256   (24t)

24   Arizona State   244   (21)

25   Auburn   202   (26)

26   Penn State   201   (30t)

27   Baylor   197   (24t)

27   Illinois   161   (26)

28   Texas Christian   175   (28)

29   Georgia   170   (32)

30t   Ohio State   161   (29)

30t   Illinois   161   (27)

32   SOUTH FLORIDA   144   (30)

41   MIAMI   13   (41)

44t   CENTRAL FLORIDA   7   (44t)

Click back will be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost...

August 15, 2011

Would you trade LeBron James for Dwight Howard? (with poll); plus UM/Shapiro mess, LoMo demotion, Mike Leach/FAU & more

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote].

1aa1miahurr2 1aa1miahurr ON UM/SHAPIRO/NCAA MESS: My latest column, on UM football's Nevin Shapiro/NCAA investigation, is online HERE and in today's/Tuesday's paper. Nobody looks good in this. Hurricanes will come out sullied even if no penalties result. Shapiro is human sleaze but UM will have answering to do too in terms of oversight. It's a mess unfortunately inherited by Al Golden. And it's a lesson that schools need to build and maintain a strong firewall between boosters and athletes.  

WOULD YOU TRADE LEBRON JAMES FOR DWIGHT HOWARD?: A current piece on ESPN.com (click here) 1aa1lebone 1aa1lebtwo proposes just such an even-up deal as making sense. A King for a Superman. An interesting discussion, if probably moot. I can see Orlando trading Howard (post-lockout) rather than losing him to free agency next summer, but I also know the Magic would much prefer to keep him. I also have a hard time imagining the Heat breaking up the Big 3 -- especially if it meant parting with James, but if you'd deal LBJ for anybody wouldn't it be Howard? Would I make the deal? Probably not. But the possibility is much too tempting to dismiss altogether. Voting booth open. Your thoughts welcome.

1aa1lomoimage MORRISON DEMOTION A LESSON, IF HE'LL LEARN IT: A combination of Logan Morrison's serial Tweeting, his skipping a photo op with season-ticket holders and his slip into the .240s caused the outfielder's unexpected demotion to Triple-A. Morrison's immature reaction -- "... and this is how you get treated" -- only underlined the attitude issues the club sees in him. So does his threatening to file a grievance. So does his Twitter logo (pictured). The kid should swallow his pride and abandon his Twitter account if only as a symbol of the re-dedication to baseball the club demands. Having said all that, I would not have demoted him for the reasons that are public. Team is coming off a depressing 1-9 homestand during which only 25 runs were scored, and LoMo is one of team's few power/run producers. A mess all around.

1aa1mikel MIKE LEACH REPLACING HOWARD AT FAU?: Found it interesting that FAU didn't have a coach-in-waiting with Howard Schnellenberger retiring after one more year, a la Florida State with Jimbo Fisher long-designated to replace Bobby Bowden. The reason might be that FSU has its sights on Mike Leach, the defrocked Texas Tech coach, whose name and stature would help boost the Owls' profile. Recent FAU recruit Chad Ward, a receiver from Palm Beach, told reporters he "heard" Leach will be the next coach. Makes you think he was told that as an incentive to stay home in the backyard.

1aa1lebron panda LEBRON WITH PANDA BEAR: Yeah, well, I reckon that headline about says it all.

 

 

 

 

 

1aa1dufner DUFNER FINISHES LIKE DUFFER: Tough to watch Jason Dufner wither in the PGA Championship, blowing a late four-shot lead and losing in a playoff, giving away his first PGA Tour win, let alone first major. Dufner was an OK golfer for St. Thomas Aquinas in the '90s (pictured as Aquinasites might recall him), hardly the star, not blossoming until he got to Auburn. The good news? He gets a consoling check for $865,000, meaning he can still expect a cheery fundraising letter from St. Thomas.

1aa1brookecage BROOKE HOGAN UPDATE: Brooke, the recording artist, songwriter, producer, musician, actress and television personality who doesn't do any of those things particularly well, has posed nude for a PETA ad and here is the artsy finished product. (Click on image to see larger version). This should partly satisfy all who believe Brooke should be jailed (or at least caged) for a lack of talent. Meantime I continue to grapple with the link PETA evidently sees between nudity and the fight for animal rights. Yeah I don't like the Iditarod, either. LET'S GET NAKED!

1aa1kkkswimsuit conmp"WHAT IF THE KKK HAD A SWIMSUIT PAGEANT?": OK that would be my caption for the photo at left. I think I'm alright with that. I don't think any reference to the KKK is automatically offensive, as long as the KKK is the butt of the joke. Then again I might be wrong.

'16 AND WELL ADJUSTED': I love the new parody video, "16 And Well Adjusted" (click here), which mocks the MTV shows 16 And Pregnant and Teen Mom. Remember when it was sort of scandalous if your teen was pregnant? Now the notion is pushed nearer acceptability by being aggrandized on television. This parody is spot-on.

KIMBO SLICE: The time it took you to read the preceding item on '16 And Well Adjusted' is about how long it took Kimbo Slice to knock out some guy (17 seconds) in his pro boxing debut Saturday night.

THE LIST: HITTING STREAKS BY MARLINS AND EX'S: Five men who have played for the Marlins have had hitting streaks of 30-plus games, though only one played with Florida at the time:

Player, Team                              Streak - Year        With Marlins

Luis Castillo, Marlins                    35 - 2002             1996-2005

Benito Santiago, Padres               34 - 1987             1993-94

Dan Uggla, Braves                        33 - 2011             2006-10

Luis Gonzalez, Diamondbacks       30 - 1999             2008

Moises Alou, Mets                        30 - 2007            1997

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

June 29, 2011

Vince Young? Reggie Bush? Vote on post-lockout plan for Dolphins (with poll); plus LeBron and Bono, ode to old guys, German women's soccer (hide the children!) & more

1aa1janvb ["Get Your Truth Here." Thanks to all who tapped into our live online chat today. Do it each Wednesday 1-2. Click HERE to join us live, read transcripts or post questions any time. Also join us at Twitter.com/gregcote R.I.P. Jan van Beveren, the great Dutch goalkeeper and former Fort Lauderdale Striker, dead at 63.].

VINCE YOUNG, REGGIE BUSH MAKE SENSE FOR DOLPHINS: I propose in my latest column (click here) that the Dolphins' post-lockout plan would do well to target QB Vince Young, RB Reggie Bush, utilityman/returner Brad Smith and OLB Jason Taylor -- in about that order of importance. The pretext of the plan is what is realistic and could actually happen. For example, I acknowledge that Carson Palmer is the premier quarterback option but that Cincy hasn't budged in its insistence he won't be traded. Weigh in on my plan by voting below, then tell me how brilliant I am. Um, or not. 

1aa1popejoelouis AN ODE TO THE OLD: The best assignment I ever had in school was to 1aa1jack interview a grandparent about their life. I recommend it to all kids. I discovered my mother's father testified before Congress early last century as part of a child-labor investigation. That brings me to this mini-tribute to South Florida's most senior sports figures, inspired by the Marlins' rehiring of manager Jack McKeon (pictured left) at age 80. Limiting it to living octogenarians-plus, here's a nod of appreciation as well to tennis great Gardnar Mulloy, still swinging on Fisher Island at age 97. To boxing legends Angelo Dundee, 89, and Ferdie Pacheco, 83. To Miami Herald icon Edwin Pope, 82 (pictured youthfully interviewing Joe Louis). And of course to Dolphins legend Don Shula, now 81. Did I miss anybody? Thanks to you all.

1aa1lebronbono LEBRON AND BONO: Heat star LeBron James got some backstage love from Bono before last night's U2 show at the stadium here. Also in the pic: LeBron's girlfriend, Savannah. Given LeBron's continuing lack of a championship ring, clearly the U2 song dedicated to LBJ should be, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Just sayin'.

1aa1grgich MY SUMMER VACATION: Speaking of old guys I'm back at work after a week in California wine country, bookended by nights in wonderful San Francisco, in the wharf area, amid barking sea lions and the best cioppino I have tasted, at Scoma's. Wife and I did 11 vineyards in three days of Sonoma and Napa grape-hopping, including favorites like Duckhorn, Charles Krug and Cakebread. I'd place near that echelon a new wine I hadn't met: Grgich. Don't get the idea I'm an expert or snob. An occasional 2007 Duckhorn cab with a good ribeye is sublime, but I've had many enjoyable affairs with $8 merlots, too. Happy to be back at work. Well, relatively speaking. Not compared to drinking wine all day.

1aa1colen HEAT DRAFT: LOOK OUT, MARIO: Heat traded up slightly to land Cleveland State point guard Norris Cole, pictured rockin' the hightop fade. His thing is 1aa1lebronhair quickness and he's a true PG, meaning Miami is targeting the weak area currently manned none too securely by young veteran Mario Chalmers. Cole dominated at times in the Horizon League -- once had 41 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists in a game. Heat see him as a speed-spark off the bench, and hope he can push Chalmers to a higher, more consistent level. (Also pictured is a wiseguy photoshop sent to me of how LeBron James and his prematurely receding hairline might look in a few years. I do not condone this type of humor but pass it along purely for your personal edification). 

1aa1germanplayboy 1aa1germantwo GERMAN WOMEN'S SOCCER IS WUNDERBAR!: The women's World Cup is underway in Germany (U.S. won its debut vs. North Korea), and I make no apology for appreciating the women's skills but also for finding the sport sexy. Germany is the heavy favorite to win and also the heavy favorite on the sex-appeal side, with five players posing provocatively (pictured) in the current German Playboy. This reminds us how different we are from Europe. Can you imagine the scandal if members of the U.S. women's team agreed to such a photo spread? It would launch a thousand outraged newspaper columns. Maybe even a couple from male writers! Is such a celebration of the female form wrong? Well, it is mighty low on the food-chain in terms of self- or sport-promotion. But I have a hard time thinking that what's pictured here is much different than Serena Williams posing "artfully" nude in an ESPN The Mag "Body" issue.

PANTHERS LOOKING UP: I like what the Panthers are doing under GM Dale Tallon, whose recent draft gives him 23 picks in two drafts -- 15 of them forwards. Also like the trade for veteran Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell, a second-team All-NHL player in 2007-08. Two or three strategic moves in free agency to reach the spending requirement and Cats should (finally) be a playoff team next season.

MICHELLE BACHMANN: Conservative, tea party-right Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has made official her candidacy for the presidency. As best I can tell, she is Sarah Palin, but smarter. Or did that go without saying? (Free advice: Pick a guy named Turner as your running mate, christen a Bachmann-Turner Overdrive campaign theme).

MEL FISHER TREASURES = GRAVE ROBBERS: I find disturbing the news (read here) of the latest find by Mel Fisher Treasures of Key West. This is a legal enterprise. But legal does not absolve these literal gold-diggers of guilt on the moral meter. I see no glamor in modern-day pirates plundering long-sunken-ships for valuables; in effect, robbing the victims of the shipwrecks. By my eye they are raping the remains of underwater cemeteries. I might be alone on this. It just feels wrong.

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

February 19, 2011

Playoffs or bust: How good will the Marlins be? (with poll); plus Cam Newton, LeBron on dunk contest, Wittels' streak & more

[Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. Also, just in time for baseball, vintage Red Sox fans who are Yazheads might also enjoy following a new site from me: Twitter.com/carlyastrzemski. Spread the word!].

HEY 19! SOLID TEAM BUT TOUGH ROAD GREETS MARLINS' 19TH SEASON: Spring training has begun and 1aa1hanleyr 1aa1joshj so it's time to reconnoiter where the Marlins' final season in the old stadium might lead. Jeffrey Loria predicts the playoffs, but that's by rote. Rare is preseason pessimism from an owner. From a more neutral vantage, I am optimistic for a wild card-contending year -- led by the pictured Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez -- but also recognize the long odds. That's literally. Betting odds put the Marlins at 35-1 to win the World Series, and unfortunately for the Fish, the NL East-mate Phillies are the clear favorite to win it all at 2-1. The division's Braves also are generally seen as better than Florida. So where does the optimism come from? Always assuming good health, the Marlins' J.J.-led starting rotation is very stout. Not Phillies-awesome, but solid. The bullpen is notably improved. The regular lineup is loaded with young, ascending talent with huge upside. Negatives? Losing Dan Uggla (compounded by departures of Cody Ross and Jorge Cantu) erases a lot of home run punch. Defense always seems to be an issue. The bench seems a bit weak. And many lingering questions must answer affirmatively for this to be a playoff season, such as: Does new starter Javier Vazquez have much left? Is Matt Dominguez ready for a fulltime role at third? Will new 2B Omar Infante and new catcher John Buck prove themselves strong additions? Lots to find out about and eager to start. For now, take a dip in our poll and help set the bar on expectations. As always, asking for your reasonable, realistic view, not your wishful thinking.

CAM NEWTON SLIP-SLIP-SLIPPING FROM DOLPHINS' GRASP: This week's NFL scouting combine sort of 1aa1camn unofficially kicks off NFL Draft Season and all the raging speculation and parade of mock drafts leading up to it. A growing consensus, from a Miami perspective, seems to be that the Dolphins -- if quarterback shopping -- will have zero shot at Auburn's Cam Newton (pictured) barring an unexpected major tradeup from the 15th spot. Once he was expected to fall to around there. No more. In fact Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock for ESPN has Newton going third overall to AFC East-mate Buffalo. The Melster has Miami taking Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

LEBRON PICKS BLAKE GRIFFIN TO WIN DUNK CONTEST: The dunking happens tonight as part of NBA All-Star Weekend, and Miami's LeBron James -- it still feels weird to type those three words -- picks Blake Griffin to win, along with everybody else in the thinking world. Click here for a video in which LBJ 'splains himself.

WITTELS, POSTSCRIPT: Garrett Wittels' record-chasing 56-game hitting streak ended in last night's FIU season opener. To those who assume he is guilty or at least feel as if he should have been suspended, that must have felt like justice. Now the national media spotlight (ESPN was there) will disappear. Given the rape charges Wittels faces in the Bahamas, the commencing lack of attention is probably a very good thing for both the kid, is team and

TOMMY MORRISON: PROFESSIONAL IDIOT: Retired HIV-positive boxer Tommy Morrison says HIV does not exist and brags that he has unprotected sex every day. Click here to read the sadness. Something to ponder: Who's dumber, Morrison ... or his girlfriend?

1aa1cassy DEAR GREG...: "...your blog's OK, but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of Cassy Herkelman, the Iowa girl-wrestler who that boy refused to wrestle, standing next to a man wo appears to be an escaped Charles Manson. Thank you."

THE LIST: MARLINS IN MVP VOTING: Top 10 Marlins in annual NL MVP voting based on total number of votes received:

2009 Hanley Ramirez   233 votes (2nd place)

2006 Miguel Cabrera   170 (5th)

2005 Miguel Cabrera   146 (5th)

1996 Gary Sheffield   112 (t6th)

2005 Carlos Delgado   84 (6th)

1997 Moises Alou   60 (10th)

2008 Hanley Ramirez   55 (11th)

2007 Hanley Ramirez   49 (10th)

2005 Dontrelle Willis   42 (11th)

2003 Juan Pierre   39 (10th)

Note: No Marlin has ever received a first-place vote.

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this new post throughout the day...

December 05, 2010

G12: Browns 13, Dolphins 10 (Final); Henne INT leads to game-losing FG as time expires

[Watch for latest edition of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter in separate post beginning at 5:30 p.m.]

1aa1dol2 1aa1dol G12: BIG HOME LOSS DEALS SEVERE DAMAGE TO PLAYOFF HOPES:

Final: What can you say? A miserable home loss leaves Miami 6-6 and deals a serious blow to playoff hopes. Chad Henne three interceptions. Sad day to be a Dolfan.

4Q: Cleveland 13-10: Browns win it on chipshot FG as time expires ..... Oh my. Henne intercepted (his third) off deflection and returned 24 yards to the 2 by Mike Adams ..... Nolan Carroll drops an INT that would have set Miami up for game-winning FG. Oh my ..... Huge sack by Cam Wake ..... Dolphins punt with 3:48 to play. Overtime looking likely ..... Crowd sounds into this game for about the first time all day ..... Miami 10-10: Anthony Fasano 11-yard pass from Chad Henne and Dolphins tie game with 10:27 to play on impressive 80-yard drive sprinkled with some Wildcat. Excellent Henne pass beat decent coverage to finish it ..... RT Vernon Carey out of game with knee injury.

3Q: Cleveland 10-3: Benjamin Watson 3-yard TD pass left Karlos Dansby looking around, as if wondering whether that was his man. Capped a 94-yard CLE drive with 1:16 left in quarter. Pass D made Jake Delhomme look like Joe Montana, with Chris Clemson and Sean Smith giving up completions of 37 and 33 yards ..... I believe Marlon Moore needs to make that catch ..... Browns fail to break 3-3 deadlock when 47-yard field goal try bonks off left upright. In this game, that passes for excitement! ..... By the way Carpenter's 60-yard FG ties for fifth-longest in NFL history.

Half: How can a Dolphins offense that looked so good a week ago in Oakland look so bad today? Defense has been great; Browns have 79 total yards. Now Chad Henne (two picks, 30.2 passer rating) needs to start playing like his future depends on it.

2Q: Miami 3-3: Dan Carpenter 60-yard FG ties game with 2 seconds left in half. That's no typo. It was 60 yards, a franchise record. And it kept the home team from being roundly booed as it left the field ..... Cleveland 3-0: Browns' capitalize on Henne pick with 32-yard FG 1:43 before halftime ..... Henne suffers second interception. Seemed to telegraph the pass. That gives DBs too much of an edge at this level ..... Another Miami punt. More light booing. I feel like a nap ..... Cam Wake QB pressure forces Browns punt after INT ..... Chad Henne is intercepted on underthrown deep ball. Almost sounded like a completion in the stadium. Lots of Browns fans here. 

1Q: Dolphins Player of the Quarter: Brandon Fields. Never a good sign .....  Scattered booing greets Miami's latest third-down leading to punt ..... Feels like a game tryingto decide if it's an impressive defensive struggle or simply a dull game ..... Brandon Marshall and Channing Crowder the key inactives for Miami.

Original post: Miami at 6-5 is tied for seventh in the race for six AFC playoff tickets with five games to play. That means hope. That also means zero margin of error, a series of must-wins from here. Following last week's very impressive victory in Oakland, today brings the perfect opponent for Miami to build its first two-game winning streak since Games 1-2. "Keep the boulder rolling" was the message on the sign in the Dolphins' lockerroom this week. Offensively the 4-7 Browns don't have much to scare you beyond two-way back Peyton Hillis. Jake Delhomme is a grade-D quarterback at this point. Defensively the Browns are improved. I picked Miami to win 27-17 but wouldn't be surprised if the game was lower-scoring than that. If Miami takes care of business today and the Jets lose at New England Monday night, Miami's trip to the Jets next week could be very interesting, indeed.

Your thoughts welcome on on today's game and playoff prospects.

November 07, 2010

G8: Baltimore 26, Dolphins 10 (Final); Henne throws 3rd INT as Miami absorbs first road loss, sinks to .500

[UM fans: New Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll still welcoming votes in post directly below this! Watch for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in separate post beginning at 5 p.m.].

1aabalt 1aabalt2 "MOVING TIME": BIG, KEY TEST FAILED BY DOLPHINS:

Final: On a day when the Patriots lost (and Jets almost did), Miami missed a real opportunity. Three picks by Chad Henne and no pop on offense. Hmm. Wonder if Randy Moss might have helped?  Dolphins missed a FG, settled for one after reaching the BAL 1, and blew an easy TD when Sean Smith dropped a pick-six INT. That's 14 blown points right there. A day of missed chances on a day when a win would have hugely boosted Miami's shot at an AFC East title. 

4Q: Final minute, and Chad Henne throws third INT ..... BAL adds late FG for 26-10 lead ..... Chad Henne pass off Brandon Marshall's hands picked off by Ed Reed and that should just about do it. Pass was high but nothing Marshall hasn't caught before ..... BAL chips in a 20-yard FG for a 23-10 lead with less than 7 minutes left ... Dan Carpenter, perfect lately, is just wide left on a 46-yard FG try. Dolphins running out of chances ..... On a day when the Patriots and Jets both currently trail, a comback win here could be gargantuan for Miami.

3Q: Ravens shank a 37-yard FG try wide left in quarter's final minute after series that included successful fake punt ..... Sean Smith bobbles and drops what should have been a pikc-six INT. Oh my. Should have had Miami within 20-17. Huge ..... Derrick Mason beats Vontae Davis for scoring catch and an at least temporarily safe-seeming 20-10 Baltimore lead. 

2Q: Dan Carpenter 19-yard FG draws Miami within 13-10 in closing seconds of half. That was after Henne overthrew Anthony Fasano in the end zone ..... Defense been pretty solid since that first BAL drive. Now. It's up to Henne & Co. ..... BAL adds 39-yard FG for 13-7 lead, the kick forced by Dolphins sack. ..... Oy! Bad Chad Henne INT nearly returned for TD but defense rises and stuff Baltimore, forcing a FG attempt that fails with a muffed snap. Huge sequence. Looked like 17-7 hole for sure, now momentum is Miami's ..... Big 3rd-and 1 stop by Miami makes BAL settle for 28-yard FG and 10-7 lead.

1Q: Ravens threatening as quarter ends. Miami defense giving up too many 3rd-and-long conversions lately ..... Ronnie Brown scoring runs ties it 7-7. Apparent early that Miami thinks it can move it on ground against this once-vaunted run defense ..... Ravens early 7-0 lead on opening possession on Willis McGahee 32-yard score with screen pass.

Original post: Coach Tony Sparano calls NFL Novembers "moving time" because it is when playoff contenders and pretenders separate themselves. When cream rises. This afternoon in Baltimore is such a test for Miami, which is 4-0 on the road but faces a tough Ravens squad that is coming off a bye and favored. I predict Baltimore wins, 24-20. Lord knows that doesn't mean I'm right. If anything, based on my predictions record thus far, it might gladden a Dolfan's heart with joy. Ravens' defense hasn't been so special lately but Crows bring a ton of weapons on O. Think Miami had better leave the FGs at home and start treating the end zone like a friend.

Comments welcome here before, during and of course after today's game in Crabtown. 

THE LIST: 5-0 STARTS ON ROAD: Only times in franchise history the Dolphins have begun a season with a 5-0 road record, which the 2010 squad tries to do today:

Year   Finish

1972   Perfect Season, Super Bowl champs

1975   Ended 10-4 but missed playoffs

 

1984   Went 14-2, lost in Super Bowl

May 12, 2010

Heat's shot at LeBron James (with poll); plus Las Vegas, RIP Kimbo Slice, DJ Rony Seikaly & more

1aabigelvis SURVIVING LAS VEGAS: Wife and I have returned to So Fla after 4 days/3 nights in Las Vegas on a recovery mission. By that I mean time to ourselves to recover our sanity in a continuing effort to survive having two male offspring ages 18 and 22 throwing parties at the house while we were away. Stayed at the Venetian. Drank a lot. Saw comedy shows by Ray Romano and Frank Caliendo. Ate great food. Drank a lot. Saw a bunch of nudity in Cirque de Solei's Zumanity. Saw Big Elvis (pictured). Kept net gambling losses under 1K. Drank a lot. How bad could it be? Postscript: Big Elvis is the perfect entertainer with his free, old-style show at the former Barbary Coast. He's huge and kitschy enough to amuse. But good enough as an impersonator to actually impress. Click on That's Alright Mama for a video taste. The trailer-parkers -- by which I mean chain-smoking, high-mileage, dirty-blonde white women in their 60s -- were swooning. Highly recommended.

1aadwlb DO HEAT HAVE A SHOT AT LEBRON JAMES?: Speculation swirls today over LeBron James supposedly having one foot out the door in Cleveland. Might Miami be a landing spot? The answer is some undetermined shade of maybe, which makes it a valid question. I find it tough to believe he'll stay in Cleveland. But could the egos of LeBron and Dwyane Wade (pictured) co-exist in Miami? Have your say. Take a dip in our poll. Asking not for what you hope happens but what you realistically think will.

[Update: New odds out today from BetUS.com on where LeBron ends up next season: It's Cavaliers 2/3; Bulls 2/1; Knicks 5/2; and then Heat and Nets tied at 15/1].

1aabra WHY CAN'T I HAVE A JOB...: ...like this. I'm just saying.


1aarony RONY SEIKALY, D.J.: So I'm in Las Vegas over the weekend and I see a billboard for Tao Beach promoting a May 30 appearance by DJ Rony Seikaly. Yes, the same guy. The longtime former Heat center. He's a club DJ now. See the photo at left. Or Google Tao Beach and Rony's name. Maybe he does weddings. Couldn't hurt to ask!

KIMBO SLICE, R.I.P: No, we'll let Miami's Kevin Ferguson live. It's his namesake, mixed martial arts fighter and clown Kimbo Slice, who needs to go away, please. His latest loss, Saturday in UFC 113, is the latest evidence that his phenomena has flared but now fades. Fast. The novelty has become passe'.

IMPORTANCE OF MARLINS-METS: Marlins host division-rival Mets in four-game series starting Thursday, and I'm thinking Florida must take at least three of four to alleviate some of the heat on manager Fredi Gonzalez. Anybody who thinks the pressure isn't on Fredi just because Jeffrey Loria says so publicly must have majored in gullibility in college.

TIGER'S NECK HURTS: Tiger Woods withdraws from tournament with a pain in his neck. There is a punchline there related to his having had 121 affairs. But some things I can't say even in a blog.

PERFECT GAME, PERFECT ENDING: Oakland's Dallas Braden pitches only the 19th perfect game in MLB history and the moral of the story apparently is that good things come to those who tell Alex Rodriguez to stick it. Before his perfecto Braden was best-known for getting in Rodriguez's face earlier this season when A-Rod ran across the pitcher's mound when heading back to the dugout -- breaking one of baseball's myriad "unwritten rules." It's one of the sillier unwritten rules, considering both teams share the mound, but you had to love the mouse standing up to the lion And now the mouse pitches a perfect game. God what a tortured metaphor.

1aadolcheer DEAR GREG...: Your blog is OK but would be better if you showed a "sexy" picture from the recent Dolphin cheerleader tryout. Thank you. 

THE LIST: PERFECT GAMES: There have been 19 perfect games pitched in MLB history. The five most recent:

May 9, 2010   Dallas Braden, A's

July 23, 2009   Mark Buehrle, White Sox

May 18, 2004   Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks

July 18, 1999   David Cone, Yankees

May 17, 1998   David Wells, Yankees

Twitter.com/gregcote

May 03, 2010

Heat's Riley smart to leave door open (with poll); plus latest on Dez's mom, how optimistic are Dolfans? (with poll), FedEx drops OB & more

1aateacher Today/Tuesday is National Teacher Day. Appreciate and thank a teacher today!

 

RILEY OPENS DOOR TO COACHING HEAT AGAIN: Finally, some big news involving a local team executive not having to do with asking if a player's mom was a prostitute! Heat president Pat Riley said today he'll do whatever it takes to make Miami a champion again -- and did not rule out the possibility that could mean him coaching again. Doesn't mean it's likely. But the possibility is out there now. Here is my column on this, online now and shipping to Tuesday's paper. Meantime take a dip in our poll and tell Riley what you think. And tell us why.

DOLPHINS POLL. BECAUSE SPARANO SAYS THE SEASON HAS STARTED: I know it's only May, and barely that. But Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said that to him the weekend rookie camp just ended is the official start of preparation for the 2010 season. So there you have it. Time for an early gauge of what Dolfans are thinking about the coming season. I look at seemingly soft schedule and can easily envision 10 wins. Others are not so optimistic. For example, ESPN's updated, post-draft Power Rankings have Miami slotted an uninspiring 22nd, well back of both the Jets (8th) and Patriots (9th). Where do your expectations fall and why? Remember, it's not what you are hoping for, but what you realistically envision.

DEZ BRYANT'S MOM CONTINUES TO EMBARRASS HERSELF: Angela Bryant is demanding an apology now from Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland over his "was your mom a prostitute" question -- as if his earlier public apology  was not all-encompassing enough for her. Well it now is revealed Angela's druggy past was not so much in the past after all. She was arrested in April 2009 for selling crack cocaine to undercover informants and found guilty in August and sentenced to 10 years' probabation. She's lucky she isn't back in prison. Two thoughts here. One, Ireland and the Dolphins have apologized enough. Period. Two, Dez should pay his mother to shut the [bleep] up and not be seen in public. She is an embarrassment. The "was your mom a prostitute" question should be more insulting to prostitutes than to her.

1aafloyd MOMENTUM FOR MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO: Am told Floyd Mayweather Jr. (pictured) dominated Shane Mosley Saturday night (I missed it; was at a wedding). Now the ultimate bout -- Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquia -- is gaining momentum and should happen. I'm always waiting for the return of the heavyweight division to rescue boxing, but who needs it? I think Mayweather-Pacquiao will set PPV records and remind everyone that the Sweet Science still is embedded in our national psyche in a way that mixed martial arts isn't, and won't be.

ON ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW: I'm conservative on illegal immigration. Think it's a big problem and a drain on America's economy. Think we should protect our borders. But even from that vantage, I think Arizona's controversial new anti-immigration law is shockingly over-the-top and must be rescinded. It is racial profiling at its worst. I'm glad to see some of the Diamondbacks' six Latino players speaking out. I think sports can wield some leverage here in helping to nudge Arizona forward into the 21st Century.

1aafedex IT'S NOW THE EX-FED EX ORANGE BOWL: SportsBusiness Journal reporting today (click here) that FedEx is ending its 21-year run as title sponsor of Miami's Orange Bowl Classic, the longest such partnership of any BCS bowl game. The good news? It's now the splendidly unadorned Orange Bowl Classic, at least temporarily. The bad news? Naming rights are for sale and some new corporate sponsor will jump in soon.

OH, CANADA? NO, CANADA!: Click here for the bizarre tale of Canadian youth-hockey coaches who thought it was roaring funny to give beer to 9- and 10-year-old players after a game. I think this is an outrage. What a waste of perfectly good beer.

1aafeagles FAREWELL, JEFF FEAGLES: Venerable ex-Miami Hurricane finally retires after 22 NFL years. Nobody punted more times (1,713) for more yards. He leaves third in all-time in games played (352). Only George Blanda and kickers Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson played more seasons. Hall of Fame? Doubt it very much. Only two Pro Bowls for Feagles (pitcured). Plus he's a punter! But what a remarkable career. His rookie season was 1988. Recent Dolphins' top draftee Jared Odrick was then not yet 1 and literally learning to crawl.

1aamenutitanic DEAR GREG...: Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would reprint the ill-fated last menu from the Titanic on the day it sank. Thank you.

THE LIST: MOST NO. 1 RECORDS: The top 10 music artists ranked by most No. 1 singles on Billboard pop music charts. Asterisks indicate artists whose music would be found on my iPod:

20   Beatles*

18   Mariah Carey

17   Elvis Presley*

13   Michael Jackson*

12   Supremes*

12   Madonna*

11   Whitney Houston

10   Stevie Wonder*

10   Janet Jackson

9   Bee Gees*

9   Elton John*

Twitter.com/gregcote

March 14, 2010

Hurricanes screwed by NIT; plus other, happier stuff

[It's coming. Oh you can't stop it! Our blog's annual March Madness Haiku Contest is right around the corner. Keep an eye out. Meantime, get your haikus ready. Or Google the word "haiku" to learn more as needed].

NIT SAYS N-O TO CANES: [Click on Snub Job for my new column on this, online now and shipping to Tuesday's paper]. Selection Sunday became Rejection Sunday for the Hurricanes. I know this will seem very parochial to some because I am railing against The U being screwed, but here is what is broken about college basketball's postseason -- the one that gets universally lauded compared to college football's. UM finished 20-13 and in the ACC Tournament beat Wake Forest and Virginia Tech before losing 77-74 to mighty Duke -- yet was told on Sunday it is not one of the 97 best teams in the country. Didn't make the 65-team NCAA Tournament bracket (that was no surprise) and then wasn't invited to the 32-team NIT, either (that was pretty much criminal). I'm not saying Miami didn't have a heavy hand in its own fate. I know about the conference record and all that. But are you telling me the Canes team we saw in the ACC tourney isn't flat-out one of the 97 best in the country? Seriously? Two words for that. Or maybe it's one word. BULLS---.

1aarex DOLFANS, THERE'LL BE LESS OF REX RYAN TO DISLIKE: The Jets' blowhard coach (pictured at left accompanied by several of his chins) had lap-band surgery to lose weight (click here for story), following an apparent decades-old love affair with cake. In other Jets news, the team signed fading running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Much as I (and most Dolfans) want to make fun of this (because it's the Jets), I think L.T. has some life left and that this makes NYJ better.

ELS OVERCOMES DISTRACTION OF [ABSENT UNNAMED SUPERSTAR]: Click here for Sunday's column by me off Ernie Els' PGA Tour victory at Doral. 

BOXING: WE AIN'T DEAD YET: More than 50,000 turning out at Cowboys Stadium for Manny Pacquiao's rout of Joshua Clottery proves again that boxing has not been run asunder by bastard-brother mixed martial arts and deranged cousin pro wrestling. All it takes is a great personality or a great fighter (like Pac-Man) to reinvigorate the sport. They'll probably sell 100,000 tickets and set pay-per-view records when Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather face off.

1aanutrisystem NUTRI-SYSTEM PROFIT MARGIN LOSING WEIGHT: Speaking of Rex Ryan and fat people, The Nutri-System weight-loss plan is taking a financial bath, and some analysts blame the company's obsession with hiring athletes and ex-athletes as spokespersons. Pictured right, our boys Dan Marino and Don Shula at a commercial taping. Notice that Shula looks as if he's thinking, "What the hell is this they want me to say!?" And Marino looks as if somebody just dropped a perfect pass.  

Click back. Adding more crap to this post on Monday... 

Twitter.com/gregcote