August 21, 2017

Happy Solar Eclipse Monday!: plus latest Hot Button Top10 (updated): See who's No.1 and what else makes our newest list; also, Litmus test imperative for new Marlins owners (my Sunday column), HB Daily (Mon) & more


1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 21. R.I.P., Jerry Lewis, 91, and Dick Gregory, 84, two men with very different approaches to comedy, each a genius in his own way. 2) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami impact in Top 200 fantasy rankings, Dolphins lose Fake Game 2, my call for open Fins QB competition & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Priority for new Marlins owners should center on keeping Stanton: As Giancarlo Stanton powers through his best season with a majors-leading 45 home runs, the incoming new owners fronted by Derek Jeter should make a priority of committing to making Stanton a career-long Marlin. Click on Stanton the Litmus Test For New Owners to read.

EclipseHAPPY SOLAR ECLIPSE MONDAY!: I'm no astronomy nut (although I do proudly own and wear a T-shirt commemorating the great Pluto after its unfortunate 2006 demotion from full planet), but am looking forward to experiencing the partial solar eclipse Monday afternoon. It is projected to begin in South Florida at approximately 1:25 p.m. and end around 4:20, with the maximum eclipse seen by us at 2:58. Pictured is an illustration projecting the maximum eclipse we'll see in Greater Miami -- assuming fair weather and no cloud cover, of course. Weather will be a crapshoot. The forecast for this afternoon is partly cloudy, with widely scattered thunderstorms and a 20 percent chance of rain, so let's hope we get a good look at the eclipse. It'll be a bummer if the day is dark and overcast because of the weather. You need a sunny day for a partial solar eclipse to really stand out. Based on the illustration it seems as if the sun (weather willing) will be visible to us only as a sort of lopsided crescent grin when the eclipse is fullest. It looks to me as if we'll have around an 80 percent eclipse. Anyway, enjoy the wonder of science or the majesty of God, depending on your point of view. Either way, enjoy the marvel of a rare treat!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins any good? Week in Philly, 'dress rehearsal' may tell: Opening win, then lopsided loss. Who are these guys? Will they be any good with Jay Cutler? Does adding veteran LB Rey Maualuga help? Best answer yet may come this Thursday night in Philly as Fins culminate a week of shared practices with Eagles because Fake Game No. 3 is traditional “dress rehearsal” where starters play a lot. So. Will the real Dolphins please stand up? 

2. MARLINS: Stanton out of the park, Samson just out: It was reported Marlins president David Samson will be out once Jeffrey Loria's sale of club to Derek Jeter group is final. Meanwhile Giancarlo Stanton -- with MLB-leading 45 homers after one Sunday -- continues to make a so-so season matter. Stanton has a chance to hit 60 unless cowardly teams start walking him.

3. HURRICANES: UM look solid as opener nears, except...: Looking like Malik Rosier or Evan Shirreffs for the starting quarterback job after Saturday's scrimmage. Season opener vs. Bethune-Cookman looms in 12 days and Canes look like ACC contenders. Well, unless you're concerned about the minor matter of an unproven QB operating behind a suspect offensive line.

4. FIGHTING: Mayweather-McGregor: Ready, set, hype!: Only five more days until unbeaten boxer Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor will be in a Vegas ring this coming Saturday. Mayweather is heavily favored, but, with both men so unlikeable and such idiots in the buildup, can we please fix this thing so they simultaneously knock each other out?

5. HEAT: Hey, more Dwyane Wade speculation!: It was reported a Wade-Heat reunion may yet happen, based on a Chicago writer writing that Wade "is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months." Would you please wake me when what might or might not happen in a few months actually happens.

6. WRESTLING: Lesnar big winner at WWE SummerSlam: Brock Lesnar won the sport's "Universal Championship" in a "Fatal 4-Way Match," defeating Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman in Brooklyn. Samoa Joe sounds a Polynesian coffee brand.

7. GOLF: U.S. women trounce Europe to win Solheim Cup: There was a South Florida flavor as Miami native Christie Kerr and especially Lexi Thompson from Coral Springs were instrumental in the U.S. routing Europe 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 to win the Solheim Cup match-play event in Des Moines, Iowa.

8. BASEBALL: Yankees, Red Sox play rubber game: Sports' greatest rivalry renewed Sunday at Fenway Park and Boston took deciding game to grow its AL East lead to five games. MLB lacks tight division races this year, so appreciate this one.

9. GYMNASTICS: National championships wrap up in Anaheim: The 54th edition of the USA Gymnastics national championships ended Sunday in Anaheim, trying to make us forget about recent scandals over the abuse of young female gymnasts.

10. KEVIN DURANT: Star says Warriors would decline White House visit: The NBA champion Warriors will decline if invited to the White House over objections to President Trump, said Durant. In an unrelated story, Trump signed an executive order abolishing the Golden State Warriors.

Missing the HB10 cut: Nick Saban ranted against media predictions, saying, "Why do we play?" Here's another question, Nick. Should a man being paid $11.1 million to coach Alabama be complaining about anything!? ..... How much longer will it continue to be news that an NFL player sits for the national anthem? That reminds me. The Smithsonian will have a new exhibit featuring Colin Kaepernick items. Will one of the items be an unemployment check? ..... They're talking about taking down the Marlins Home Run Sculpture. What, is it linked to the Confederacy? ..... LeBron James called for healing and love in the wake of the violence "in Charlottesville, North Carolina." Hey, he's a baller, not a professor of geography!

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-21-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Solar eclipse, 1:25 p.m.: We'll experience it at its fullest around 3 p.m.

2. N.Y. Giants at Cleveland, 8 p.m.: Day's only NFL exhibition game.

3. Everton at Manchester City, 3 p.m.: Interesting EPL soccer match.

4. Little League World Series, 1 p.m.: Elimination games begin.

Note: Marlins have today off.

Select other recent columns -- Double QB Quandary A Rarity (On Dolphins, Canes' shared upheaval). New Owner, New Hope (Let's party at news Loria agrees to sell to Jeter group). A Diamond, Shining (Giancarlo Stanton's great season). Immortality Calling (Jason Taylor in Hall, now who's next?). Also: Right Time, Right QuarterbackThe Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 04, 2017

Playoffs? Bust? Set bar on Marlins expectations. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Fish, UNC, Heat, Always Dreaming, Federer, Dion Jordan; also, Radio Tuesday, Florida Derby/Marlins columns, Hot Button Daily (Tue) & more


1) It is TUESDAY, April 4. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Saturday with Final Four/Florida Derby/Miami Open, The List I-II, your NBA MVP verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and with the national show airing on ESPNU/ESPN2.

Florida Derby, Marlins preview columns: It was a double Sunday dose o' me as I weighed in with a column from Saturday's Florida Derby as well as a Marlins season preview column. Click on Always Dreaming for my Derbyizing on the winning horse and its owner, Vinnie Viola, the Florida Panthers owner. Click on Mourning And Celebration for my preview column on a Marlins season unlike any other.

My final bracket update: I finished 5th among some 90 entries in the LeBatard & Friends pool -- not bad -- topped by correctly having North Carolina as my national champion. 

Marlins odMARLINS OPENING DAY POLL: Yesterday began the Marlins' 25th season, and we're gauging how optimistic (or not) South Florida is about the team. Remove the rose-colored glasses and vote what you honestly expect will happen, please, not what you hope will. We ran this exact same poll in the blog in mid-February as spring training unfurled, so we'll be interested to compare results to detect any shifts. Ready? Play ball! Vote now...

THE LIST: MARLINS OPENING DAY STARTERS: Edinson Volquez became the 15th different Marlins Opening Day starting pitcher in the club's 25-year history. The eight pitchers with multiple Opening Day starts for the Fish:

Josh Beckett                  3    2003-05

Josh Johnson                  3    2010-12

Charlie Hough                2    1993-94 

Kevin Brown                   2    1996-97

Alex Fernandez              2    1999-00

Ryan Dempster               2    2001-02 

Dontrelle Willis              2    2006-07

Ricky Nolasco                 2    2009, '13

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Play ball! Fish open 25th season on road today: MLB Opening Day was Sunday with three games, but Miami plays six straight away starting with Monday's loss at Washington before finally opening at home April 11. This could be the year unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria finally sells the team. Which pretty much already makes it a successful season!

2. NCAA TOURNAMENT: Finally! It's North Carolina: There were 351 teams, from which 68 made the men's NCAA Tournament. Then it was down to 32, then 16 to eight to four to two and now ... the final one. It was North Carolina for the national title last night in the long-awaited crescendo to March (into April) Madness.

3. HEAT: Playoff fight intensifies as Miami winds down season: Heat is down to five games left as it angles for a first-round playoff series vs. Boston or Cleveland. Miami's long climb back staggered with a Sunday home loss to Denver that left Heat hanging onto 8th and last playoff seed. Oy!

4. HORSE RACING: Always Dreaming wins 66th Florida Derby: Gunnevera was the betting favorite Saturday but the Florida Derby belonged to Always Dreaming, owned by Florida Panthers  owner Vinnie Viola. It was nice to see horse racing the star at Gulfstream again for at least a day, not the casino, poker, restaurants etc. Also nice to see that Viola's four-legged athlete runs better than his two-legged guys skate.

5. TENNIS: Federer beats Nadal in Miami Open men's final: Jo Konta beating Caroline Wozniacki wasn't exactly a dream women's final for the Miami Open on Saturday, but Sunday delivered just that on the men's side with Roger Federer beating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in a heavyweight men's title match.

6. GOLF: The Masters arrives, but Tiger-less once more: Season's first golf major unfurls Thursday at Augusta as an absent Tiger Woods, still beset by back issues, continues one of the most epic slow fades in the history of sports.

7. DOLPHINS: Fins release all-time bust Dion Jordan: The quintessential NFL all-time draft bust might still be Ryan Leaf. But in the Miami division, Dion Jordan's dubious crown was affirmed this week as the Dolphins finally cut the guy they traded up for and never stopped regretting it. 

8. NCAA WOMEN: South Carolina reigns after UConn upset loss stuns women's Final Four: South Carolina beat Mississippi State in the finale Sunday night. But, no matter, dynastic UConn losing in Final Four, after 111 consecutive wins, already made it a refreshing victory for women's college basketball. 

9. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from playoff chase as disappointing season ebbs: Florida is down to three games left after Monday home loss to Montreal, a going-through-the-motions phase to end a huge letdown of a season. Um how'd that coaching change work out, by the way? Boneheaded. 

10. PRO WRESTLING: Orlando hosts WrestleMania 33: Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton had big wins and The Undertaker lost in his final WWE match to highlight WrestleMania 33. Imagine. Sports' biggest cartoon event in a city that worships Mickey Mouse. Perfect. So right.

Missing the HB10 cut: NFL owners voted 31-1 to OK Oakland Raiders' move to Las Vegas, with Dolphins' Stephen Ross the lone dissenter. Ross has since been so heroically lauded in the media you'd think he'd rescued three nuns from a burning car ..... Hurricanes football held its annual Pro Day for NFL teams to analyze 15 UM players as the draft nears. Only one, TE David Njoku, figures as a first-rounder. And I'll say it again: Ya shoulda stayed, Brad Kaaya ..... When was the last time UM baseball entered April with a losing record? Holy Brad Kelly!

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 4-4-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. FIU at Mississippi State, 6:30 p.m.: FIU baseball tops the marquee? Huh!?

2. Yes. Yes it is. It is the single slowest day of the entire sports year.

Select other recent columns: The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to close gap on Patriots. Missing Waiters, on Dion Waiters' value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Method to the Madness?, on bizarre LaVar Ball. Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, previewing tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, on World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 10, 2013

Heat (re)sign Michael Beasley; plus Redskins nickname poll (vote now), 9/11, U.S. soccer, Miley bares all (video), UM's Duke, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more

1aa1am1 1aa1am21) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11. On the 12th anniversary of 9/11 ... Never Forget! I'm Proud To BeAn American. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win opener, DSM poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

U-S-A! U-S-A!: I think it's the right day to be patriotic, so here's a shoutout to the U.S. men's soccer team for whipping Mexico 2-0 last night and qualifying for a seventh straight trip to the World Cup. Not saying the Spains and Brazils should be quaking, but Jurgen Klinsmann has a very good, confident American team. Go U-S-A!

We're football-happy!: The first Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll result rolled in at a solid 86.5 percent, one day after the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter showed a euphoric 96.7% following the Gator beating. Can't recall another week when both results were so favorable.

HEAT REACQUIRE POT SMOKIN' MICHAEL BEASLEY: I jacked "pot smokin'" into the headline to make it 1aa1beasclear I am quite aware of all the risks/baggage that comes with signing Michael Beasley. And, yes, it's still a smart signing. It's low risk. He comes cheap. Heck, a one-year, non-guaranteed deal is no-risk. If he decides weed is more important than his career and gets bounced, what has the Heat lost? Meanwhile, if he gets straight and gets serious, well, he is still only 24 years old. He's a career 14.1-point, 5.2-rebound guy. He's a flexible 6-9 forward. The upside is still way up. Besides, this orgnaization, and its leader Pat Riley have earned benefit of doubt on any signing, even or especially this one.

ON THE GROWING ISSUE WITH THE 'REDSKINS' NICKNAME: Washington's NFL team is standing firm on not changing it, and the NFL has not stepped in, but something close to a media boycott of the 1aa1redskinsnickname has begun. Several outlets including Mother Jones, Slate, Washington City Paper and New Republic now no longer use the name. And prominent sportswriters Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Bill Simmons of Grantland also have erased it. I support their doing so; it is their right. For years I have not referred to corporate names of stadiums and arenas as my own little moral stand, so I can't criticize someone else's. The thinking is that if the boycott grows -- if, for instance ESPN and the Washington Post stopped referring to Redskins or showing the logo/image pictured -- the weight for change might become too heavy to ignore. Imagine if a national TV broadcast of a Washington game purposely did not mention the word? I find this subject interesting but also personally conflicting. I'll admit that. I respect both the team and its fans wishing to protect what they consider a traditional nickname, but I also respect groups such as the American Indian Movement that consider "Redskins" to be offensive. It is one of the few topics on which I'm torn. That is why I have not columnized on this. Because "I see both sides" is a lousy starting point for any column. Do you have a stronger opinion than I do? That's what this poll is for. Vote and say why.

ESPN, ENOUGH WITH THE LEBRON NON-NEWS ON 2014!: Geez, are we facing almost a year of this non-stop? Of LeBron James being asked about next summer, essentially saying who-knows and having 1aa1jameskidthat fashioned as news? Headline today on's front: "LeBron has 'no idea' about '14 free agency." The implication is a questionable committment to Miami, or at least doubt. But in the story, right after he says he has "absolutely no idea" what might happen, he says: "I would love to spend the rest of my career in Miami with this great team and great organization as we continue to compete for championships. That's ideal." LeBron is smart and prudent to A) say he's happy here, but also to B) leave his options open. He doesn't know what will happen in 2014, OK!? Let's leave it at that, play a season and then all find out together. And in the meantime let's quit acting as if "I have no idea" constitutes news or the slightest tilting in any direction. Pictured: LeBron at age 6, offering only a coy, noncommittal smile as he is probed about his intentions in 2014.

1aa1cyrusmOH MY MILEY OH MY: Miley Cyrus, fresh from her tawdry twerking at the VMA's, has a new video out for her song Wrecking Ball, in which she swings on said wrecking ball while clothing-less. She also seems to be in love with a sledgehammer. Hey, this is a blog ... could I say it if it weren't true? ADVISORY: Do NOT click on the link if you are easily offended.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 1: Ouch. Rough start against the point spread, and in fantasy. NFL 1aa1fripixpredix: We went a solid 11-5 overall on our Week 1 Friday Page predictions, but we were a dismal 4-11-1 (the Bears pushed) vs. the spread. The wrong side of too many 3-to-4 point lines leaves us some early digging to do. Had a great shot on our Upset of the Week call ("Aawwk!"), but Carolina gave it up in the fourth Q. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos lost 177-111, led by Larry Fitzgerald's 28 points. Remember in our poll you all made a clear favorite of the team in my league led by Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning? Good call. They combined for 80 points and that team won its opener, 205-105.

CANES' DUKE STILL NO. 2 BUT NEW LEADER IN OUR SOPY 'STATE HEISMAN' RANKINGS: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly 1aa1duke2updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Miami's Duke Johnson (pictured) remains second despite a relatively quiet game vs. the Gators. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points, edging FSU QB E.J. Manuel. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Our 2013 standings entering Week 3:

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk2=Year

1 (4)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb               141 = 318

2 (2)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb            77 = 307

3 (3)     Marcus Shaw, USF-rb                94 = 292

4 (10t) Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb               176.5 = 278 

5 (9)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb             146 = 259     

6 (1)     Jameis Winston, FSU-qb-*         BYE = 233

7 (--)    Rannell Hall, UCF-wr                 127 = 191

8 (--)    Stephen Morris, Miami-qb          84 = 186

9 (--)    Solomon Patton, Florida-wr       128 = 166

10 (6)   Mack Brown, Florida-rb             29 = 153

Bubble: Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb, 141.5 FIU leader: Lamarq Caldwell, rb, 119. *-Note, FSU (Winston) has played one fewer game than others listed.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. FSU (1-0); 2. Miami (2-0); 3. Florida (1-1); 4. UCF (2-0); 5. USF (0-2); 6. FAU (0-2); 7. FIU (0-2).

WELL PLAYED, MIKE WALLACE. NOW PLAY WELL!: Dolphin Mike Wallace's so-predictable day-after response to his postgame diva act was to say he was mad at himself, not at the coaches or play-calling. 1aa1mwupsetThat's smart P.R. No team needs this kind of controversy, not this early, and especially not after a win. Click HERE for my column from the game on Wallace catching only one pass and then reacting as he did. He'll be a happier man this week. Indianapolis won't have a cornerback for him as good as Joe Haden, and the play-calling will attempt to make amends. Miami needs its $60 Million Man heavily involved ... and happy.

ON MAYWEATHER-ALVAREZ: No surprise, but Floyd Mayweather is a prohibitive betting favorite at 5-14 over Canelo Alvarez in next week's fight, a line designed to stem the flow of money on Money. A Mayweather win by decision is the result of choice at 10-19, and the over/under on pay-per-view buys is 1.75 million. Signs you may be a degenerate gambler: Betting the over/under on the PPV.

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

July 11, 2012

U.S. Olympians will lead world in funny hats; plus vote Heat's biggest free-agent addition (with poll); also Marlins, Dolphins & more

[It is THURSDAY, JULY 12. Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE LOSES MIND, OUTFITS AMERICAN ATHLETES WITH DORKY BERETS: At 1aa1beretssome point the USOC met to go over uniforms for the upcoming London Games, someone stood and said, "Let's have our athletes wear French berets that will be widely mocked," and the joking suggestion apparently was taken seriously and voted in, perhaps because everyone in the room was drunk. So this week the U.S. revealed Ralph Lauren-designed berets that 1aa1berets2American athletes will don (see right) during the opening and closing ceremonies and throughout the Games. A rule of thumb here is that nobody looks good in a beret. Not even the Green Berets 1aa1beretobamalook good in berets. Anyone wearing a beret looks like he should be driving a tiny Fiat while wearing a paisley ascot and smoking an elaborate pipe. I tried to think of headwear that might be even more embarrassing for U.S. athletes to wear and the only thing I could come up with was either those pointy green Robin Hood caps with the feather or the red plant pots the band Devo wore. Do I continue as a proud American hoping the U.S. kicks some serious Olympic a-- over there? Of course. Also I am very proud to not be wearing a beret.

1aa1allenrayPOLL: HEAT'S TOP FREE-AGENT ADDITION IS...: It's official. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis both signed with Miami today. Allen, 37 next week, is the 6-5 guard who is the NBA's all-time three-point shooter (pictured at today's introductory press conference conspicuously not wearing a beret). Lewis, 33 next month, is the 6-10 forward and two-time all-star who also can hit from the perimeter. Both will be major rotation players off the bench next season. The inclination is to think Allen is the more significant signing, but Lewis could play a very interesting role as well. Whose signing excites you more? Put another way, whose signing do you imagine will impact the Heat more favorably? Vote and say why.

A conversation with Dwyane Wade: Had a nice talk with the Heat's D-Wade yesterday about a variety of stuff. Click on Wade Reflects, Looks Forward for the resulting column. 

1aa1committeeMARLINS' CLOSER-BY-COMMITTEE: Manager Ozzie Guillen unsurprisingly revealed he would start the season's second half with a "closer by committee," a de facto demotion of Heath Bell. Expect Steve Cishek in the role initially (as I'd suggested in a Tuesday column), with maybe a dose of Juan Carlos Oviedo (when he returns from suspension) or Bell again if Cishek falters. Meantime Guillen's son Ozney Tweeted 'This [bleep]ing guy' after Bell's latest blown save on Sunday, prompting his father to say, "That's not his business." (It seems that the occasional placement of foot in mouth runs in the Guillen family...). Pictured: The Marlins' new Closer Committee holds its first meeting.

Showtime debuts 'The Franchise' starring Marlins: The one-hour premiere episode is tonight at 10. It will include some of the stuff already seen in a sneak preview, such as the Ozzie Guillen/Fidel Castro stuff. of more current interest: a testy office meeting between Guillen and embattled closer Heath Bell.

WORST ALL-STAR GAME EVER?: Almost, if you go just by the numbers. Last night's 8-0 win by the NL in Kansas City was the 83rd All-Star Game, and only two others have been bigger routs based on margin of runs. Those were the AL's 12-0 win in 1946 at Fenway Park, and the AL's 13-3 win in 1983 at Comiskey Park. Between the absence of any Marlins players and the uncompetitive game off a 5-0 first inning, I say no ASG has interested South Florida less.

Poll result: MMA edges boxing: In a result closer than I expected from our poll in the previous blogpost, mixed martial arts was the favorite over boxing by 39.2 percent to 36.4. Another 17.6 percent said they liked liked neither sport, and 6.8% said they liked both equally.

1aa1camwakeCAMERON WAKE, TOUR GUIDE: All-access and behind-the-scenes is all the rage, with Marlins on Showtime's The Franchise and Dolphins about to unfurl on HBO's Hard Knocks. Want more? Cameron Wake provides a tour of the Dolphins' locker room and facilities tonight at 7 on NFL Network. Click here for a one-minute preview.

WORLD'S WORST DAD: OK I'm going to go ahead and nominate this guy until somebody worse comes along.

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

July 09, 2012

Sneak peek: ESPN's 'Body' issue (with photos); plus, are you bigger fan of boxing or MMA? (with poll); also, Heat/Rashard Lewis, Marlins-less All-Star Game & more

1aa1maviss[IT IS WEDNESDAY, JULY 11: 1) Happy 73rd birthday yesterday to a musical hero of mine, Mavis Staples (pictured). 2) R.I.P., Ermes Effron Borgnino -- character actor Ernest Borgnine, gone at 95. His role in McHale's Navy (1962-66) is another one of my very early, vague-but-there childhood memories. 3) Tardily, I am now full on the Louis CK bandwagon. 4) Played golf Saturday for the first time since April at Sunrise and rediscovered that I stink. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote].

Heat on 'OTL': Thanks to ESPN's Outside The Lines for having us on yesterday to talk about how Dwight Howard's eventual landing spot might affect the Heat and rest of NBA.

HEAT LAND RASHARD LEWIS: With Ray Allen already in the fold, the Heat have now also signed free-agent Rashard Lewis, who is 6-10 but can pop from 3'sville and spread the floor. Like Allen, he took less to come here than he could have gotten elsewhere. Like Allen, he is past his prime but has life left in his career. Like Allen, he bolsters/improves the Heat bench. Smart signing.

NU-NU-NUDIO! GET YOUR NAKED ATHLETES RIGHT HERE!: On newsstands this Friday is ESPN The Magazine's fourth annual The 1aa1bodycoverBody issue, in which 27 athletes pose artfully naked -- which means 1aa1body2you probably won't be offended unless you make a point in life of trying really hard to be. None of the athletes is associated with South Florida, so we miss a chance to relive the thrill of last year when Hanley Ramirez was pictured incongruously doing a domestic chore, his privates tastefully hidden by (yes) an ironing board. This year's cover photo is of Knicks' center Tyson Chandler (left), who hasn't been this naked since being dominated by LeBron James in the first round of the playoffs. The nudie at right is surfer Maya Gabeira. Not sure I consider surfing a sport, but think I am willing to make an exception after scrutinizing this photo. Note sure I consider The Mag's Body issue to be something pandering and silly or good and legit. Am sure I am not below pandering for blog hits by pimping it here.

BOXING VS. MIXED MARTIAL ARTS: Saw that the recent UFC 148 match between Anderson Silva and 1aa1boxufc1Chael Sonnen was billed as the circuit's biggest pay-per-view event of the year, which I took as a sign that mixed martial arts -- for all its undeniable (and 1aa1boxufc2increasing) popularity -- had not yet reached the mass appeal of boxing. My reasoning: A Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao bout would dwarf whatever UFC could throw out there in terms of PPV sales and national buzz. Am I wrong? Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of MMA, which I find cartoonishly violent. (I love baiting fans of the sport including my own two sons by making fun of the kicking, and pointing out that when I was growing up one of the big Guy Rules was that if you were involved in a fight, you didn't kick. "Because that's what girls did." MMA fans find this point neither amusing nor salient). Anyway, here's a poll just for fun, a boutique poll, meaning somewhat narrow interest, perhaps. If it moves you, vote and say why.

OK, THE HOME RUN DERBY WAS PRETTY GOOD...: Must admit Prince Fielder outslugging Jose Bautista for the Home Run Derby title last night made for pretty good TV. Kansas City fans were awfully rough on Robinson Cano -- and that's coming from a Yankee Hater. Sure would have been nice to see Giancarlo in there. ..... Original post: I'll admit I think I'm being parochial because Giancarlo Stanton's knee surgery erases the only Marlin from both tonight's HR Derby and Tuesday's ASG. I just don't look at the list of eight Derby guys and see much exciting. And an All-Star Game with nobody from your team feels like an anticlimax even before the first pitch. Anything else on TV tonight? Think I might find out.

Marlins deserve All-Star snub: Click on Star-Less for today's latest column by me. You want to be outraged that no Marlin was chosen to replace injured Giancarlo Stanton, but you can't, because nobody else has earned a spot on the stage. I write that the humbling all-star snub might be a good thing for a team that took its cocky cue from its manager but hasn't earned the swagger.

Baseball's second-half betting odds: From our friends at Bovada, Yankees (9-2) and Rangers (5-1) are World Series champ favorites, with Marlins 35-1, tied for 16th. In the NL it's Nationals and Giants both 9-2. In the NL East it's Nats 4-5, Braves 9-4, Mets 15-2, and Fish and Phillies both 12-1. Individual betting faves are: NL MVP--Pirates' Andrew McCutcheon (4-1); NL Cy Young--Mets' R.A. Dickey (13-10); AL MVP--Angels' Mike Trout (2-1); and AL Cy--Angels' Jered Weaver (5-2).

DOLPHINS: "WE'RE NO. 26! WE'RE...!": Ron Jaworski's Top 30 NFL quarterbacks countdown for ESPN slots Dolphins incumbent Matt Moore in at 26th.  And most observers are betting David Garrard will beat him out for the starting job.

WIMBLEDON WINS: I generally like televised tennis as background noise but found the weekend's Wimbledon finals pretty compelling. Serena Williams' win was woman-against-girl stuff in terms of power. At her best Serena might be the greatest female player ever. If one could combine eras it's just hard to imagine dainty Chris Evert matching her game. On the men's side all of England cheered for Andy Murray but there also was something quite stirring about Roger Federer rising back to No. 1 after everyone had begun to spade dirt on a career supposedly fading. Good stuff, tennis!

A CIGAR STORY: I'm a cigar smoker (don't do it, kids), not a big-spending aficionado but a guy content 1aa1bluntwith a $3 Arturo Fuente. On a recent trip to Oklahoma City I found myself back at my hotel at 1 a.m. craving a smoke so I traipsed to the convenience store next door for the closest they had to an actual cigar: a five-pack of Phillies Blunts. Insubstantial draw with a ghastly-sweet wrapper, every bit the cheap smoke you'd expect. But here was the worst part, noticed later in fine print on the carton: 'These cigars are predominantly natural tobacco with non-tobacco ingredients added.' Wha-huh!? What the hell else is in there? Cardboard? Mulch? Repurposed dock rope? Moral of story: A) Quit smoking, or B) at least leave the Blunts for the kids who hollow out the mostly-tobacco and replace it with pot.

SOUTH KOREAN DOMINANCE IS RUINING THE LPGA TOUR: Well, I guess that headline about sums up my feelings. Na Yeon Choi winning the U.S. Women's Open is great news in Seoul or Daejeon, but it's another death knell for pro women's golf in this country. Jingoist attitude? Absolutely. Also the truth.

1aa1beerobamaPRESIDENT DROWNS ECONOMIC SORROWS IN BOOZE!: Evidence of U.S. presidents as real human beings is so rare that I feel the need to pass along this campaign-trail photo of President Barack Obama quaffing a beer. Notice it is not a bottled beer. Headline: PRESIDENT FAVORS REINSTATING DRAFT!

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June 11, 2012

Who'll win Heat-Thunder NBA Finals? Vote now (with poll); bettors, America siding with OKC; plus Dolphins sign Chad Ochocinco & more

[1) It is Tuesday, June 12. "I am flying to Oklahoma." I never imagined I would say those words and be happy about it. 2) ESPN set cable record for an NBA game with a 9.1 rating for Heat-Celtics Game 7. ABC expects better ratings for Heat-Thunder than if Boston had made Finals. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Bosh poll still open: Should Chris Bosh return to starting lineup in NBA Finals or would Heat be smarter to keep him as best weapon off bench? You can still vote in blogpost directly below this new one.

HOW CONFIDENT, HEAT FANS? PREDICT THE NBA FINALS. VOTE HERE: Our official NBA Finals result 1aa1finalsnbapoll is below. I'd invite you to separate what you hope happens from what you honestly believe will happen. In other words (to the degree it's possible), try to vote with your gut, or as if placing a bet, rather than with your heart. We did this before the previous two series as well. Against Indiana a plurality of 49.4 percent had it Miami in 5 games, with 8.2% picking the Pacers. Against Boston a plurality of 40.3 had it Miami in 6 games, with 14.2% picking the Celtics. Now onto Heat-Thunder. Poll open!

A FIRST: HEAT BETTING UNDERDOGS FOR FIRST TIME IN BIG 3'S TWO SEASONS: From the first betting prior to last season straight through the Boston series just ended, the Big 3 Heat has been the favorite to win both season titles and every playoff series. Until now. Now Miami has a motivation new to it: Underdog. Mirroring most sports books, Bovada has the Oklahoma City Thunder a 10/17 betting favorite (at minus-17) in the NBA Finals, with Miami at 3-2  (and plus-150). The line for Game 1 (there Tuesday night) moved from 4 1/2 to 5 points favoring OKC. Interestingly, though, Bovada sportsbook manager Kevin Bradley says about 65 percent of the action is laying on Miami anhd that he expects that to jump to 70% --  meaning a lot of people and their money maybe think the Heat shouldn't be underdogs at all. While bettors are torn, the Thunder unsurprisingly have the support of America, according to new ESPN SportsNation results showing 63 percent think OKC will win the title and 61% hope they do. The biggest disparity in the poll is in coaching, with 78% saying they'd prefer OKC's Scott Brooks to coach their team over Miami's Erik Spoelstra. Oklahoma City's perceived strong coaching edge clearly is a driving factor in its status as betting fave. Interestingly, though, their similar four-year career records (combined regular season/playoffs) give an edge to Spoelstra with a .617 overall winning percentage in 363 games to Brooks' .585 in 337 games.

Newest NBA ad: Click here to watch the NBA's latest 30-second spot that will debut on ABC during tomorrow's Finals Game 1.

DOLPHINS SIGN  OCHOCINCO: Interesting. Dolphins sign recently cut Patriot WR Chad Ochocinco, the Miamian and the former Chad Johnson. He comes cheap. Smart gamble for a team lacking a premier receiver. Also something that will thrill HBO's Hard Knocks. (You don't think this is because of that, do you? Naaah! No way. Right? Well...)

1aa1heelheat 1aa1heelokcHEAT FASHION: HIGH HEELS: LADIES, SHOW YOUR SUPPORT AND LOOK RIDICULOUS AT THE SAME TIME!: A women's fashion footwear and apparel company called HerStar has come out with a line of "microsuede pumps" (or what I'd call "ridiculous high heels," pictured) just in time for the NBA Finals. Ladies, what says "I am the imprimatur of high fashion and class" more than wearing your team's logo on your shoes? They run $99.99 a pair or, with crystals, $274.99. Visit (Not sure if these come in men's sizes as well).

1aa1glassesdw 1aa1glasseslbjHEAT FASHION: GLASSES: PROPOSING A DEAL WITH LEBRON, D-WADE: You may have noticed LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have taken to wearing fashion frames without lenses in postgame interview sessions, or what I like to call, "The Poindexter Look." With apologies to Justin Timberlake, they're bringing Nerdy Back. How's this for a deal: They get to wear the absurd frames only after victories, as a reward. Talk about incentive!

MARLINS: HOME NOT SO SWEET: Marlins have slumped to a 16-16 home record. Miami now has the second-worst home record (White Sox are 14-18) among the 17 teams with winning overall records. So much for that new-ballpark bounce.

ON THE PACQUIAO DECISION: I was able to watch only a couple rounds of the Manny Pacquaio fight the other night so don't have a strong opinion on the consensus that he was robbed by the split-decision loss. A thought, though: Maybe Manny should spend less time singing and engaging in homophobic rants and more time training for his upcoming fights.

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March 29, 2012

Vote: Like WWE pro wrestling? (with poll); plus LeBron sings Super Freak, Koa Misi, Nadal, Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, anti-Obama racism & more

[1) It is Saturday, March 31. Yesterday I paid $4.25.9 per gallon for premium gas. I don't believe I have ever paid more. #sadpersonalrecords. 2) Will the last American player eliminated from the Sony Ericcson Open on Key Biscayne please turn out the light? 3) Bill Parcells maybe coaching the Saints? "Sorry, Drew. We're a running team now." 4) Pope Benedict XVI wore a sombrero during a recent trip to Mexico. Glad that didn't become a papal trend as he flew to Cuba. The sight of the pope wearing a fake Fidel Castro beard might have pushed me right over the edge. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote] 

FANS OF WWE AND PRO WRESTLING NEED TO LIGHTEN UP: As Dolphins stadium prepares to host WrestleMania XXVIII, I have learned recently -- and find it deliciously ironic -- that fans of America's cartoon sport have very little sense of humor. That's based on the e-mail reaction 1aa1wweto my my Random Evidence notes column from this past Sunday. I referred to the stadium hosting "the biggest clowns in sports" and invited readers to wonder (briefly) if I was talking about the WWE show or the woe-stricken Dolphins. Wrestling fans were not amused and let me know it. Dear Wrestling Fans: Lighten up. Don't take yourself or your sport so seriously. The best thing to happen to this organization was when the World Wildlife Federation won legal rights to the acronym WWF and wrestling had to change its name to WWE -- E for Entertainment. That helped finally move it beyond the old narrative of whether wrestling was real or fake (I prefer "scripted") to simply accepting it for what it was: Entertainment, showmanship and fun. Its players -- The Rock and John Cena are pictured here -- are half-athletes, half-actors and that's fine. OK I admit "clowns" was pejorative on my part but when I say "cartoon sport" I mean it neutrally, descriptively. Pro wrestling to me is a comic book come to life. POW! BAM! That is not a criticism. Might even be a compliment. I respect the immensely popular business model that is WWE, and marvel that it can fill a football stadium for WrestleMania. There is marketing genius at work here. At the same time fans of pro wrestling and its absurd theater should develop thicker skin and not be quite so angry at those who might find the whole spectacle a shade closer to ridiculous than entertaining. What are your feelings about WWE? Take a dip in our poll...

1aa1lbjrickjamesLEBRON: SUPER FREAK, SUPER FREAK, HE'S SUPER FREAKY: Shane Battier's recent "Battioke" (karaoke) fundraiser on South Beach is represented here in this YouTube vid. Gets interesting at about the 1:45 mark when LeBron James (right) appears on stage channeling Rick James, in a wig and singing "Super Freak." Not badly, either. Very passable.

KOA MISI'S ARREST: Dolphin defender's arrest on a battery charge this morning in Broward stems from an altercation in California that occured more than a year ago. A club source expressed a belief the case likely will never be prosecuted.

FISH OUT OF WATER: [Rafael Nadal withdraws from Sony Ericcson Open with knee injury] Fish out of a water: An apt description of American tennis after Mardy Fish yesterday was the last U.S. player eliminated from the tennis event down on Key Biscayne. Click on Fish Out Of Water for my column on Fish's meek exit and how far American tennis (men and women) has fallen.  

Poll result: Fewer Heat Fans Have Faith This Will Be Championship Year: Call Miami's win at home over the Dallas Mavericks the other night a needed boost to fans' spirits. It is quantifiable: Fan confidence in a 2012 Heat title has diminished. "How confident are you on a scale of 1 to 10 the Heat will win the NBA championship this season?" We asked that in a blog poll in early February and again this week (poll remains open in post directly below) and the erosion of faith in the past seven weeks is notable. In early February 78.4 percent of fans called their confidence very high (47.5) or fairly strong (30.9), versus only 21.6 percent who said their confidence was moderate (15.2) or low (6.4). Now, 56.0 percent call their confidence very high (27.7) or fairly strong (28.3), compared to 44.0 percent who say their confidence is moderate (25.5) or low (18.5). Heat must do some faith-building. Maybe it started last night.

WOULD KENTUCKY BEAT THE NBA'S WORST TEAM?: This comes up now and again and has anew with former Maryland coach Gary Williams telling a D.C. radio station the Final Four-favorite Kentucky Wildcats could beat the NBA's 11-38 Washington Wizards in one game at Rupp Arena. No. No they couldn't. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "Look, it's absurd. You could say, 'Oh, Kentucky has four [future] NBA players.' But the other team's got 13! It wouldn't be close."

THE DOLPHINS AND "REBUILDING": Dolphin media obsession with the world "rebuilding" foments a pointless, dead-end debate. "Rebuilding" is but a word, a semantical crutch for those looking for a too-easy description of the state of their team. Are the Dolphins rebuilding? Answer: Continually, until they get it right, I would hope. Two thoughts: 1) The only NFL team right now that admits it is rebuilding is the Colts, as a rationale for the letting go of Peyton Manning. 2) Most other teams including Miami are at some stage of metamorphosis but don't say "rebuilding" and won't because the word in league context means, "Fans, we'll be lousy for a while." Teams like Miami walk a tightrope, wishing to assure fans of a "win now" mindset while also softening expectations with the likes of owner Stephen Ross' recent recycling of "Rome wasn't built in a day." Miami was 6-10 last season but had enough close, shoulda-been wins that it was not far-fetched to think the team was not far from competing for a wild-card spot. Theoretically, then, if the front office did its job and improved the team via a coaching change, free agency and the draft, playoff contention should follow. So it would be bad p.r. but also disengenuous for Ross or GM Jeff Ireland to now lean on a "rebuilding" crutch. It would be an admission of failure to improve or regression, which in the NFL are the same.

ON RYAN TANNEHILL, REGGIE BUSH: Todd McShay's latest mock draft for ESPN, for what it's worth, has the Dolphins selecting Ryan Tannhill, the Texas A&M quarterback, 8th overall. That sounds reasonable, The bigger question is whether he'd be there at eight or require a trade-up. In other Dolphin non-news, Reggie Bush -- repping Miami as one of 32 players involved -- was eliminated by Eagles RB LeSean McCoy in national bracket-style first round voting to select the cover athlete for the Madden NFL '13 video game. (Cam Newton will win. Bank it).  

1aa1guillenozESPN: "FACE" OF MARLINS IS NOT A PLAYER: names the "face" of every MLB franchise and has manager Ozzie Guillen for the Marlins -- one of only four non-players selected along with Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and GMs Theo Epstein of the Cubs and Billy Beane of the A's. Think I might have had Hanley Ramirez but can't argue much on Guillen. Also think this could inspire a future series of blog polls: Who is the face of the Marlins, Dolphins and Heat? Close calls, every one.

MARLINS BETTING OVER/UNDERS ON STATS: From Bovada, statistical over/unders for several Marlins players: Jose Reyes .300 average, 100.5 runs, 39.5 stolen bases and 10.5 triples. Hanley Ramirez .290 AVG, 20.5 HR, 80.5 RBI and 29.5 SB. Giancarlo Stanton 35.5 HR and 95.5 RBI. Gaby Sanchez 19.5 HR. Emilio Bonifacio 32.5 SB. Logan Morrison 20.5 HR. Heath Bell 39.5 saves. For starting-pitcher victories: Josh Johnson 13, Mark Buerhle 12.5, Anibal Sanchez 12.5, Ricky Nolasco 10.5 and Carlos Zambrano 9.5.

LOVE AND FOOD: Carrabba's Italian Grill has on its takeout bags the slogan: "There is no love more sincere than the love of food." Can it possibly be? I will say this. Food requires no flowers or cards or thoughtful gestures. Food asks nothing in return but that you love it.

1aa1dontrenigRACIST ANTI-OBAMA BUMPER STICKER: A shockingly racist anti-Obama bumper sticker is available that reads, "Don't Re-Nig in 2012." Politics aside, this seriously crosses a line and in my mind tests the parameters of free expression. Who would have the gall to drive a vehicle bearing such a statement? Answer: Some Neanderthal jackass inviting a brick to be thrown through the window of his parked car. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

1aa1cleavageNATIONAL CLEAVAGE DAY: It has come to my attention that National Cleavage Day -- which began as a promotion by brassiere maker Wonderbra but has understandably caught on -- is either today or very soon. Why limit the celebration to one day, anyway?

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