April 20, 2015

Trust Pat Riley ... except when he says he's made peace with LeBron. My new column; plus what should Dolphins target in draft? Poll. Vote now!; also Hot Button Top 10 (updated), 4/20, your pick for NBA title & more


1aa1aapril4201) It is MONDAY, APRIL 20. It's 4-20, the unofficial national holiday when marijuana devotees celebrate their love of cannabis by smoking weed ... just like they do every other day of the year, but with a tad more ceremony today. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA playoffs preview and poll, Weighing The Fish (10 games), Dolphins preseason & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

TRUST PAT RILEY ... EXCEPT WHEN HE SAYS HE'S MADE PEACE WITH THE WAY LEBRON LEFT: My column off today's Riley postseason State of the Heat news conference is now posted online and you'd click In Riley We Trust to read it there. We posted it in advance here in its entirety, including an interesting, barely disguised shot at LeBron James, a passage underlined for emphasis below. The photo is by me from the news conference:

1aa1arileyme      Pat Riley just turned 70. His hair has gone a natural silvery gray. He is at a point, in life and career, when a man begins to hear his mortality clock ever louder, to a point that reminders from elsewhere are neither required nor appreciated.

      "People always are trying to make me older than I am," he mused with a small smile Monday in his annual season-ending State of the Heat news conference. "They’re trying to ask me, ‘Why are trying to stay around this game?’ I love the game. I love competition. I love the challenge of building this team again."

      Riley is an NBA lifer in his 46th year in the league, and planning for his 21st season in Miami. He may be a newly minted septuagenarian, but he is convinced he has another championship ring -– at least one more -– in his future.

      Do you doubt him?

      We don’t trust much in South Florida sports or have a lot of faith right now, do we?

      We don’t trust Jeffrey Loria owning the Marlins.

      We have doubts about Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

      We see Panthers hockey forever trying our patience.

      We feel eroding confidence in Canes football coach Al Golden.

      There isn’t a lot at the top of our sports marquee that has earned our unequivocal trust.

      But Riley has.

      By his tenure and titles, by his track record, the wily Silver Fox has earned every confidence that the injury-marred, playoff-less season just past was a blip, an outlier. In the triumvirate of Riley, owner Micky Arison and coach Erik Spoelstraa, the Heat continue to be the unrivaled model for Miami sports.

      "I challenge myself more than anybody else," he said, "to make sure what happened this year doesn’t happen again."

      Do you doubt he is up to the challenge?

      One year earlier, though in June, after Miami’s loss in the NBA Finals, Riley’s theme had been to pointedly challenge LeBron James to stay, saying, "You have to stay together if you got the guts. You don’t find the first door and run out of it."

      Twenty-two days later James found the door marked ‘Cleveland’ and ran out of it.

      Monday, Riley obviously was alluding to James and the timing and manner of his departure when he referred to having "no more smiling faces with hidden agendas" to deal with this time. Pressed on that he attempted a fast back-track by saying he could have meant "anyone across the board," though it was obvious who he meant.

      I later asked Riley directly if he is at peace with the way James left.

      "Yes, absolutely," he said. "I’m at peace with it."

      I think he was being smarter than he was truthful. In any case Riley is wise to set aside if not bury the LeBron animus, at least publicly, and portray a man not lamenting, but looking forward.

      There is much to look forward to.

      Center Hassan Whiteside, forwards Chris Bosh and Luol Deng and guards Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic -– that is a starting five you can win with. With good health, and added depth including another 3-point shooter or two, that is a starting five you can contend with.

      "You would like to have seen that team intact for just one game," Riley said. "We didn’t get to see that. It was a real disappointing year in terms of setbacks."

      Riley portrayed being able to re-sign Dragic as a near-certainty.

      "If he doesn’t sign, my ass is going to be in that seat next year and I’ll be writing," he joked, pointing at reporters. "We’re in a very good position to offer him more than anybody else."

      Dragic and Bosh are all-star caliber. So, still, is Wade, who has shown an ability to offset advancing age with efficiency. Whiteside could become a powerhouse, what Riley called "a formidable presence in the offense." Deng is the selfless do-it-all guy every team needs. The return of Josh McRoberts to the rotation will be big. Guys like Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem still fill a valuable role.

      There is little doubt that Miami –- even with all of the injuries and Bosh’s blood clots and the 30 different starting lineups -– still should have made the playoffs but for a late swoon.

      "I told Eric [Spoelstra] to go beat himself up for a week," Riley said, maybe half-kidding. "And if he didn’t want to, I’d help him."

      Riley remains a huge Spoelstra supporter and believer, but also an enormous asset.

      "I’ve been in that trench before," as Riley put it. "I see everything. He knows I see everything."

      The club’s president and architect has seen enough, and accomplished enough, that Heat fans should have little doubt he’ll see this franchise back into the playoffs next season, and soon back into championship contention.

      It is hard to not have doubts about many of our biggest South Florida sports teams right now.

      It is hard to trust and have faith in who is in charge and leading those teams.

      Pat Riley makes it easy.

1aa1adoldraftWHAT POSITION SHOULD DOLPHINS TARGET IN FIRST ROUND?: It's the night of April 30. Dolphins are on the clock at No. 14 in the first round. There are comparably talented and rated players available at the positions Miami has targeted. So, what to do? Wide receiver seems to be the position earmarked for Fins in a lot of early mock drafts and analysis. It's a glamour position -- though also won pretty well-stocked, by my eye. Would cornerback or linebacker be a smarter option? (Yes, guard also is a need, but no OG is seen as 1R-worthy this year). So you tell me. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Warriors, then Spurs your pick for NBA title: Golden State (37.3 percent) and San Antonio (31.6%) dominated third-place Cleveland (15.3%) when we asked who'd win the NBA championship. Hmm. Anti-LeBron bias, perhaps? Atlanta was a distant fourth with 6.2%.

HOT BUTTON APR. 19: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, newly updated. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NBA: No Heat, but NBA playoffs begin anyway: With Dwyane Wade and Miami on outside for first time since 2008, NBA playoffs began this weekend with LeBron James’ Cleveland and Steph Curry’s Golden State the betting co-favorites and both off to 1-0 series leads. Meantime, Miami somehow lost its playoff spot to Boston and Brooklyn even though it was 7-1 against them. "SMH," said Heat fans, shaking their heads.

2, MARLINS: Fish swept by Mets, rough start to season tests optimism: Dee Gordon is way-hot and Giancarlo Stanton set the club record for career homers, but little else has gone right in team's 3-10 after Sunday' loss and sweep by Mets. Miami doesn't play today. The ways things are going, Marlins will lose the off-day.

3. DOLPHINS: Fins ponder options as NFL Draft nears: Countdown is 10 days now until first round, with speculation growing that Miami likely will take a receiver or cornerback 14th overall. Then again, there also looms the anticlimactic possibility of a trade down.

4. LEGAL SYSTEM: Ex-Patriot Hernandez guilty of murder: Aaron Hernandez will serve life in prison, after jurors said they were “shocked” defense lawyer James Sultan admitted Hernandez witnessed the murder even though no testimony or evidence had placed him at the scene. Opposing defenses were seldom a problem for Hernandez, but apparently his own defense was.

5. NHL: Stanley Cup playoffs start without Cats (again): The hockey postseason is underway, and many experts see the New York Rangers as favorites to win their first Stanley Cup since 1994. That was one year after a team from Canada last won it all, a now-22-year drought for the birthplace of hockey. Modified national anthem to play at arenas during playoffs: Oh No, Canada.

6. BOSTON MARATHON: Iconic race is Monday, two years later: The 119th running will be today for the race struck by the 2013 terrorist bombing that killed three and wounded 264. The sentencing for convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins Tuesday. Is it too late to invent a sentence worse than death?

7. POLITICS: NBA visits Cuba this week: NBA will conduct a developmental camp in Cuba this Thursday through Sunday. That's against the Heat's wishes, on the face of it, although Micky Arison's Carnival cruise line would benefit greatly from an open port and tourism in Cuba.

8. GOLF: Next Tiger? Spieth wins Masters, electrifies sport: Jordan Spieth, 21, impressively won the Masters and immediately I saw a poll asking whether Spieth would shatter the record by surpassing 20 career major wins. Tap brakes, please. Talking 20 majors after No. 1 is like mentioning the Cy Young Award on Opening Day after the pitcher retires the side in the top of the first.

9. PANTHERS: Florida slotted for 11th pick: NHL draft lottery determined the Panthers will select 11th in the draft they will host in Sunrise on June 26, after the league rejected Florida's proposal that, this year only, the draft host gets the overall No.1 pick.

10. FIU: Golden Panthers wrap spring practice: FIU, seeking its first winning season since 2011, drew a couple of hundred fans for its Spring Game, which was only about 99,000 fewer than Ohio State.

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April 16, 2015

Kiper's latest mock draft: Dolphins, Hurricanes picks in top 3 rounds; plus does Miami now root for LeBron to win NBA title? (poll); also sporties in 'Time 100,' Aaron Hernandez, 'Back In My Day' audio, 4 on Marlins Mount Rushmore & more


1aa1abadmonkey1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 16. Just got around to Carl Hiassen's Bad Monkey. More of the madcap-with-a-heart style he mines so well. Fast read. Recommended. By the way, ever notice you never see Hiassen and Tim Dorsey in the same room at the same time? Hmm. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat eliminated, Marlins Mount Rushmore poll, Dolphins draft, Jordan Spieth, Lexi Thompson topless, Rubio/Clinton & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

I love the local sports media wondering how incoming University of Miami president Julio Frenk feels about the football program, as if Al Golden's future might be high among his priorities. Funny.

Dan LeBatard picks a fight with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez: This was during Tuesday's radio show on South Beach. Watch our video on Vine or Twitter.

Handy Man: The new 'Back In My Day': Had some fun on-air this week with a well-received new "Back In My Day," about America's disappearing Handy Man work ethic:

Handy Man

So, Heat fans are supposed to be thrilled their team was lousy enough to keep a draft pick?

Sporties among 'Time 100': Time's annual (unranked) list of the world's 100 most influential people is out, and the three sports figures on it are NBA commissioner Adam Silver, U.S. soccer icon Abby Wambach and, inexplicably, a Brazilian surfer named Gabriel Medina. Don't recall seeing the news reports. When exactly did the Medina family buy Time?

KIPER'S DOLPHINS, HURRICANES PICKS FOR TOP THREE ROUNDS: This is glorified guessing like anybody's mock draft; still, he's Mel Bleepin' Kiper! Junior! He's got the rep and the platform (ESPN) to 1aa1aagholor 1aa1aereckfgive what he says gravitas, so here we go. Kiper today has the Dolphins selecting Southern Cal receiver Nelson Agholor 14th overall in the first round, and Miami-Ohio defensive back Quinten Rollins in the second round. Miami has no third-round pick. Agholor is pictured left. Kiper sees a bounty for UM, with five Canes in the top three rounds: offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (pictured right, 1st round, 29th overall to Colts); receiver Phillip Dorsett (1st round, 31st overall to Saints); linebacker Denzel Perryman (2nd round to Texans); tight end Clive Walford (2nd round to Packers); and running back Duke Johnson (3rd round to Lions). One other area school lands in his first three rounds: FAU corner D'Juon Smith (3rd round to Rams).

WITH HEAT ELIMINATED, IS MIAMI NOW ROOTING FOR (OR AGAINST) LEBRON?: Last night's win at Philadelphia ends the Heat season, thankfully, mercifully. The growing 1aa1acavslebroninevitability had happened the game before when Indiana won, eliminating Miami from playoff contention. Now Heat fans, for the first time since 2008, must adopt a rooting interest for the coming NBA playoffs. Most times it'd be who-cares-who-wins-if-it-isn't-Miami. But does the LeBron James Factor make this year different? I still think South Florida has mixed feelings about LeBron. This poll may verify or refute that notion. I wonder if Heat fans are now rooting for -- or against -- James to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA championship? Do you root for a feelgood homecoming story? Or for a traitor to get his comeuppance? Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

So said a jury yesterday, and now the former New England tight end's life is effectively over. Pictured, the new uniform for which Hernandez will be fitted. I found this funny. (Nice touch: the Nike swoosh). I do not find the situation or the crime funny, of course. But the picture properly mocks an entitled punk who had so much and threw it all away. Sympathy for the victims, not the murderer. Click on Awful Decisions And 1.5 Miles for today's latest column by me on the Hernandez verdict.

DOLPHINS SIGN EX-CANE WR: The Dolphins signed receiver LaRon Byrd, the ex-Miami Hurricane. He has good size at 6-4 and 220 but still must prove himself NFL-worthy after spending three season mostly injured or as a practice-squadder with the Cardinals, Cowboys, Browns or Fins.

A DIFFERENT, DIMINISHED NFL DRAFT: The NFL Draft will seem different and feel smaller on its first round the night of April 30. It will be in Chicago after having been held in New York every year since 1965 (meaning inconvenienced Jets fans will have to travel to boo their team's pick). Also, neither Jameis Winston nor Marcus Mariota -- the QBs who are the stars of this draft -- will attend. NFL this week annnounced its 26 draft attendees, and the biggest names probably are running backs Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon. A possible Dolphins pick at No. 14, UCF receiver Breshad Perriman, also will attend.

Poll result: Marlins Mount Rushmore: Conine, Lowell, Beckett, Stanton: We offered the eight finalists in

1aa1astanton 1aa1abeckett

1aa1alowell 1aa1aconinean ongoing MLB.com vote, and your top vote-getter was Jeff Conine, his Mr. Marlin nickname justified with 22.5 percent of the vote. Also making your mountain: Mike Lowell at 15.1%, Josh Beckett at 14.6% and Giancarlo Stanton at 14.3%. (Then it was Livan Hernandez aat 11.0%, Gary Sheffield at 10.9%, Charles Johnson at 6.2% and underloved Luis Castillo at 5.5%).

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September 17, 2014

What's your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Vote!; plus LeBron's new hair, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY Top 10, Kevin Olsen, 3D-printed car & more

MESSAGE TO OUR BLOG FAMILY: (Note, this decision is corporate, not my own): "Starting Tuesday (yesterday), to comment on this blog you’ll need to log in with a Facebook account. We encourage lively discussion, but also believe respect and civility must be part of good debate. Your blog posts will carry the name on your Facebook account; you will have the choice whether your post also appears on your own Facebook page." Find a broader explanation here. Change affects all blogs, not just this one. I apologize for any inconvenience and thank our blog community -- the strongest on all of MiamiHerald.com -- for standing together through the change.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17. A belated happy birthday to Dan Marino, who turned 53 this week. Time flies like his passes once did. Fast. 2) The latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, showing a sizable dip, may be found in blogpost directly below. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fizzle in Buffalo, DSM poll, Heat signing, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

CONUNDRUM: TANNEHILL HASN'T FULLY EARNED TRUST, BUT DOLPHINS MUST TRUST HIM: I explore the curious state of Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins in my latest column; click on Pass Or Fail to 1aa1adolqbread. Two mediocre games into this third season, some fans and media already are concluding he isn't the team's long-term answer at quarterback. I say it looks like the Dolphins are afraid to find out. They are not letting him throw deep as often as they should. Sunday in the loss at Buffalo they ran out the clock with 2:21 left in the half and three timeouts (plus the two-minute warning) left. That was negative coaching betraying a lack of confidence in the man running the offense. Unshackle Tannehill, I say. It is the only way to know for sure what you have, and what the future holds. But enough of my opinion. Time for yours. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

LEBRON UNVEILS NEW SHOE, NEW HAIR: LeBron James has unveiled 1aa1alebronnewshoe
1aa1alebronhair2 1aa1alebronoldhairhis latest sneaker, the $200 LeBron 12 pictured left, a shoe whose color scheme seems to pay subconscious homage to the NFL in the city he left behind. Of more interest, it seems LeBron also has quietly also unveiled a new hairline that has reduced his growing expanse of forehead. Check out the before and current pics at right.

ON CANES QB KEVIN OLSEN: [Update: UM released the following statement in its entirety: "Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami. We wish him the very best in the future."] My original post: I have a personal policy to not criticize 1aa1akolsencollege athletes as I would pro athletes. Kevin Olsen (pictured in this week's police mug shot) makes that a challege. UM's oft-suspended quarterback is suspended again after his latest off-field issue, a DUI arrest with a fake ID -- dropping an unneeded distraction onto Al Golden's lap as the team prepares to play Nebraska. I temper this with a degree of sympathy, because it has become obvious the kid has an alcohol problem. He needs help and the school should try to give it as a last step before cutting ties altogether.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2 DIPS: We update you briefly every week on how we 1aa1afripixdid the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: We went 9-7 overall in Week 2 and 8-8 against the spread, nailing our Upset of the Week call ("Aawwk!") with Cowboys winning at Tennessee. Fantasy: Thud! Greg's Lobos fell to Earth like the Dolphins, losing 136-90 with nobody topping 15 lousy points.

SOPY: CANES' KAAYA VAULTS TO THIRD PLACE: A 177-point Week 3 vaults Canes QB Brad Kaaya to third place in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- 1aa1asopy"the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Jameis Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 4:


Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk2    Season

1 (1)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            49       433

2 (--)       DeMarcus Robinson, Fla-rec   228      357

3 (7)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            177      353.5

4 (2)        Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        DNP     348

5 (9)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb           182.5    319.5

6 (5)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb        116       314

7 (--)       Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec       206       302

8 (3)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       80       289

9 (--)        Matt Jones, Florida-rb           176      262

10 (--)     Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb     201     256.5

Bubble: Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 252. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman-qb, 250.5. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF, Florida and FSU have played one fewer game (2) than the other four state FBS teams.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 4: 1. FSU (2-0); 2. Florida (2-0); 3. Miami (2-1); 4. UCF (0-2); 5. SoFla (1-2); 6. FAU (1-2); 7. FIU (1-2). 

1aa1astratiWORLD'S FIRST 3-D PRINTED CAR: This technology is beyond my comprehension -- I still listen to CDs -- but I find this fascinating. The Strati (pictured), a two-seat electric car with a range of 120 miles and a max speed of 40 mph, has been unveiled at a Chicago auto show. It was manufactured with a 3-D printer by Local Motors of Phoenix. The Strati will cost between $18,000 and $30,000 when it goes on sale later this year. Click here for the backstory.

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September 12, 2014

Stanton injuries "devastating" but prognosis good, with new column; plus Ray Rice poll, NFL Week 2 pix, Ferry-Deng audio, Al Golden & more

1aa1asep111) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today conjuring Sunday's notes-column package. 2) Thirteen years later, never forget doesn't just mean on Sept. 11. Means always. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Al Golden poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, updated SOPY standings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1afripixNFL Week 2 picks: Good start last night with Ravens winning. Click on Week 2 Gems for all our predictions capsules (have the Dolphins winning, but it's a low-confidence pick), and on Eventually, Forgiveness for our Friday Page NFL column, on the engulfing Ray Rice controversy. Had an earlier column on how Miami suddenly is an "it" team in the NFL. Click on The State of Show-Me to read.  

Faint memories of Tony C., and thanks this wasn't worse: My new column on Giancarlo Stanton's injury and how close he came to a career-changing tragedy. Click on Lucky to read. 

MARLINS' STANTON HIT IN FACE BY FASTBALL; SEASON LIKELY DONE: The unimaginable struck the Marlins in Milwaukee last night, with Giancarlo Stanton hit on the left cheek by an 88-mph Mike Fiers fastball, 1aa1agstantondownwheeled off in an ambulance cart and almost certainly done for the remainder of the season. Stanton, co-favorite for the NL MVP award with Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, by rights should not lose his shot at the award over this, but sadly might. Stanton lay in pain for several minutes near home plate, being attended to after the fifth-inning beaning -- the scene pictured -- before being carted off. Incredibly, home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg ruled he swung while raising his arms to defend himself. Reed Johnson came in to finish Stanton's at-bat, also was hit (on the hand), but also was said to have swung. The two dugouts emptied, with Marlins manager Mike Redmond and Casey McGehee both ejected for arguing. What an awful  break for Stanton, who had not missed a single game injured all season and was in the home stretch of a career year. Redmond afterward described Stanton as "bleeding heavily from his mouth" near home plate, adding, "It was scary." Might he possibly return in the final weeks of the season? "It's not looking good," said the manager. "It's devastating for us. Devastating." Medical update from Marlins Friday morning indicates Stanton suffered "facial lacerations requiring stitches, multiple facial fractures & dental damage," but the club said it is not expected he will require surgery. A doctor friend who deals with facial injuries said it was good news no mention was made of an orbital-bone fracture, which would involve the eye and vision, so early indications based on what we know suggest Stanton should be fully recovered by spring training. What bookend misfortune, though: the Marlins lose their two true stars -- Joe Fernandez early in the season to Tommy John surgery, and now Stanton late in the year to this. Best wishes to Giancarlo, a classy, good guy. I hope MVP voters rally around him and don't add insult to his injury by penalizing him for being hit in the face.

AUDIO OF HAWKS GM'S 'AFRICAN' COMMENT ON DENG: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained a 2-minute 22-second audio of the conference call in which Hawks GM Danny Ferry says of Luol Deng (now with the Heat), "He's got some African in him." Comes about midway through. Ferry claimed he was reading from a scouting report, but it sure doesn;t seem like that on the tape. Click here to listen.

CONDEMNATION, FORGIVENESS AND RAY RICE: The revealing this week of the awful video that shows Ray Rice slugging his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator has NFL commissioner Roger Goodell scrambling to keep 1aa1arricehis job and Rice's future in the league in limbo and jeopardy. The Ravens cut him and league suspended him indefinitely amid speculation he'll never play again. I think that's harsh. Plenty don't agree. Rice and Janay Palmer both say he had never struck her before so we must assume this was a first-time offense, appalling as it was. Based solely on that he should be suspended two games (his original sentence) or six games (if the new, tougher rules are applied), and then be reinstated and be eligible to be signed. But some say the graphic video merits a full-year suspension or even a lifetime ban. And even if he were to be reinstated, would any team risk the public-relations backlash to sign him? Rice is 27 and before last season was rated among the NFL's top handful of running backs. I think this poll distills to the shades of gray in one not-simple question: Does Ray Rice deserve a second chance? Vote and say why.

MOST NFL PLAYERS BY COLLEGE: Ex-Canes, Gators and Noles in the NFL are prevalent once more. Top 10 pro-producing schools in 2014 based on opening-week NFL rosters: LSU 38 players, Southern Cal 37, Alabama 36, Georgia 34, Florida and FSU 33 each, Miami 31, Cal and Ohio State 29 each, and Notre Dame and Tennessee 28 each. 

Poll result: Most still back UM's Golden, but support wavering: We invited you to describe your support (or lack of) for UM football coach Al Golden in any of four categories (you may still vote), and it was 27.0 percent "strong," 34.5% "medium," 24.2% "weak," and 14.3% "none." That's mostly favorable -- 61.5% strong/medium to 38.5% weak/none -- but it's a soft thumbs-up, with increasing dissatisfaction apparent.

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August 19, 2014

4 ways Marlins can keep Stanton. Will they? Poll. Vote!; plus Mo'Ne Davis, Johnny Middle Finger, wax Beyonce, Ray Allen, Stitches & more

1aa1akanyepaul1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20. R.I.P., James Foley. 2) Former Dolphins great Jason Taylor will join Mike Florio's 'Pro Football Talk' show this season on NBCSN. Taylor will appear Mondays as well as other days. 3) Kanye West and Paul McCartney reportedly are collaborating on new songs. Hmm. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge video, Hot Button Top 10, unrest in Ferguson, verdict on D'Onofrio & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

1aa1amonedavisMo'Ne Davis doomed to life of spiraling decline: Sad to report that Little League World Series star Mo'Ne Davis appears on the cover the new Sports Illustrated, subjecting her to the infamous S.I. Jinx and a life of cascading woe.

Personal radio note: I have informed The Ticket (104.3 & 790) that I won't be back on the station's Dolphins pregame show this season. Have done it past three or four years and wanted change of pace. Also find that my increasing role with LeBatard show sufficiently sates my radio appetite.  

WHAT MARLINS MUST DO TO KEEP STANTON: In my latest column I make the case why Marlins rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton should be considered the frontrunner for the NL MVP award -- a case further bolstered by last night's game-winning hit. His nearest competitiors have fallen or are flawed. Mostly, he deserves it on his own merit, and his league-leading 1aa1agia132 homers and 88 RBIs are just the start. Click on G-Spot for the entire column. In it I touch on but want to explore further here what Miami must do to keep Stanton long-term. Many baseball experts continue to believe Stanton will be traded before he becomes a free agent after the 2016 season because the Marlins don't think he'll re-sign here long-term. I don't think that is as true as it once was, and I believe the Marlins also sense hope that wasn't there before. Stanton, for his part, has smartly remained shades of silent to vague on his future, which would be a big distraction if  he let it. I see four major factors in what I call the continuing, quiet courtship of Giancarlo Stanton: 1) MONEY. I put this first because it is most obvious, not neccesarily most 1aa1agia2important. Miami only has a chance to keep him if its offer is market-competitive, and that will soar above the $25 million-a-year mark, because so many big spenders (Dodgers, Red Sox, et al) will want him. The Marlins let Miguel Cabrera get away. It cannot happen again. The club for some time now has planned to make Stanton a long-term offer after this season. 2) TEAM. What's the roster surrounding Stanton as you bid to re-sign him? This season is encouraging. That Miami is still in the playoff hunt even without Jose Fernandez can't but please Stanton. The Marlins added pieces, got better. As manager Mike Redmond told me yesterday, "Last year was tough for him, it wasn't fair to him. We didn't have guys around him to help him out. Now we do. It has energized him. He's happier. He's smiling. He wants to be part of a winning team." 3) COMMITMENT. This has not been owner Jeffrey Loria's strongsuit but it is where he must step up. The talent-adding and improvement must continue; Stanton must feel like he has a chance to win a World Series here. How will Loria's commitment show itself moving forward? Free agents after this season will include Royals ace pitcher James Shields. Will Loria surrender to the high-payroll teams or will he make a serious run at him? You know Stanton will be watching. 4. FANS. It matters. The crowd and atmosphere at Marlins Park has its role in all this. Stanton is an L.A. guy. The Dodgers average 47,000 fans a night. Miami can't compete with that but can do much better than its current average of 21,575 ranking 27th of 30 teams. TV guy Tommy Hutton blasted Marlins fans Sunday night for not appreciating Stanton, who was taken out of a big win late in the game after a home run and four RBIs in the midst of an MVP season. It was the perfect spot for an ovation; there was none. Redmond and the team know what they have in Stanton. Fans need to know it ... and show it. SUMMARY: The Marlins' unique advantage is that they can (and will) offer Stanton a contract extension now, meaning after this season, two years ahead of when other teams could. Doesn't mean he'll take it; he may be determined to test free agency. But it might be awfully tough for him to turn down what would amount to a $50 million head start on whatever riches are in his future. Miami cannot force Stanton to re-up if he wants out; as club president David Samson says, "It takes two to make a deal." But the club will make every effort to sign him, first, or, failing that, to get a trade-windfall in return. They'd demand proven talent in trade such as Yasiel Puig from the Dodgers or Yoenis Cespedes from the Bosox. OK, now the poll. We aren't asking what you hope will happen but what you honestly think is most likely to. We asked this same question in January 2013 and will be interested to compare results. Vote and say why.

Cardiac Fish:
 Marlins lead MLB in walk-off wins (11), one-run wins (32) and wins in last at-bat (21), after adding to each catgeory last night.

ON JOHNNY MIDDLE FINGER: So Johnny Manziel is playing badly in the Browns' preseason loss to 1aa1afingerWashington Sunday night and the Redskins are chirping to get under his skin and it works and Manziel flips a bird at their bench. (I bring you the screen grab without pixilating the gesture because anybody who's driven on I-95 has seen it). Johnny Football leads the NFL in jersey sales, but, we are reminded again, not in leadership or maturity. He's just a rookie, but you get the feeling he'll be doing the same s--- when he's 35. "I can tell you what the statement was that set him off," Redskins safety Ryan Clark said this morning on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike show. "[It] was, 'This isn't college anymore and these people are faster than you are.'" It's a valuable lesson for Browns' opponents: You needn't sack Manziel to get to him.

ON THE RAY ALLEN HOME CONTROVERSY: The trespassers in the former Heat player's Coral Gables 1aa1aallenhomehome (pictured; story here) is an interesting tale, and a quandary. To the cops who did not initially file charges against the seven teens (all 18 or 19), it was sort of dismissed as a harmless prank. No forced entry, nothing taken, end of story. But Allen, his family and lawyer are treating it like a traumatic home invasion and pressing the case, demanding justice. The State Attorney's Office is considering charges. I see Allen's point. Seven strangers, young adults with flashlights, are in his house uninvited at 2:30 in the morning, frightening his wife and young kids? Sorry, but that sounds like a crime to me. Dumbass kids who meant no harm? Maybe. You still don't do what they did. There also seem to be racial overtones in this. These were seven Hispanic teens from a wealthy neighborhood in a black man's home. I wonder if seven black teens in a white man's home would have been treated as such a harmless prank?

1aa1abeyonce"DEAR GREG...":
"...your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of a wax Beyonce' standing with insouciance among a flock of disinterested wax geese from Madame Tussaud's in London. Thank you." Dear reader: I'll get right on it.

CATCHING UP WITH STITCHES: Remember Stitches, the local rapper who flared into 1aa1abrickpublic consciousness during the past NBA season when his song, "Brick In Yo Face," caught the attention of the Heat's lockerroom? (A scene from the video is pictured). I'd have imagined that Stitches' proverbial 15 minutes of fame would have expired by now, but his oddball cult celebrity is exhumed and rescussitated in a lengthy piece in the latest Broward New Times. Click here to read. It is everything you wanted to know about this guy, and probably much, much more.

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August 05, 2014

Al Golden's new, greatest Canes challenge; plus Stanton's surprising MVP odds, UFC brawl, UM hoops, Gap model, your verdict on Rice & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6. Brawl breaks out at UFC Media Day in Las Vegas. Or, did that go without saying? Click here for the Jon Jones-Daniel Carmier brawl vid. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ray Rice punishment poll, Canton class of '14, Hot Button Top 10 and more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

"Manchester United and Liverpool drew 51,000 to Dolphins stadium last night. What was that you were saying about Miami being a lousy sports town?"  --Greg Cote

GOLDEN'S NEXT CHALLENGE: CLOSING HURRICANES' TALENT GAP WITH FSU: I smile at all the coverage of maturity-challenged Canes redshirt-freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen reportedly being suspended from the season 1aa1acanesfsuopener for a failed drug test. Miami football and coach 1aa1acanes renewedAl Golden have a far greater, broader problem and challenge, and that's making up the recruiting/talent shortfall they suffer compared to national champion Florida State, UM's ACC rival and roadblock. I tackle the topic in my latest column. Golden has spent three years admirably navigating UM through the off-field NCAA bog. Now that sky has cleared, and he must move the Canes forward on the field. Click on Solving The Noles to read the column. UM football won't totally be #Renewed (the latest marketing campaign) until he does. The most recent evidence of Miami's talent gap with Florida State is ESPN's ranking of the 100 best players in college football, voted by a panel of 32 experts. FSU places a nation-leading 11 on the list. UM has only two: RB Duke Johnson (tied for 24th) and LB Denzel Perryman (t35th). FSU's 11 are QB Jameis Winston (1st overall), TE Nick O'Leary (28th), DE Mario Edwards (29th), OL Tre Jackson (t31st), WR Rashad Greene (t31st), OT Cameron Erving (33rd), CB P.J. Williams (t39th), DB Jalen Ramsey (t52nd), RB Karlos Williams (t59th), CB Ronald Darby (t76th) and K Roberto Agauyo (85th). For those wondering the Gators, like UM, place two on the list: CB Vernon Hargreaves (13th) and DL Dante Fowler (t43rd).

Canes hoops opens at Florida: Jim Larranaga's hardwood UM men will visit Gainesville Nov. 17 to face the Gators at 7 p.m. as part of ESPN's 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. It'll be teams' first meeting since March 2009. Nice exposure for the Canes, who were better than expected last season and have nine newcomers on this year's team.

STANTON SECOND IN NL MVP RACE: Surprisingly, at least to me, Marlin Giancarlo Stanton has second-best odds at 7-4 to win the NL MVP award, trailing only clear favorite Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers pitcher, at 4-7. Other favorites: AL MVP--Angels' Mike Trout at 2-5; NL Cy Young--Kershaw at 2-7; and AL Cy--Mariners' Felix Hernandez at 9-4. Stanton is third-fave at 10-1 to lead MLB in home runs, after White Sox's Jose Abreu at 4-7 and Orioles' Nelson Cruz at 2-1.

Poll result: Rice punishment too lenient: We asked about the two-game NFL suspension of Ravens RB Ray Rice for domestic violence and most of you, 68. 3 percent, called it too lenient. Another 19.2% thought it was about right, 6.7% were not sure, and only 5.8% called it too severe.


 Clothing store Gap -- is it just Gap, or is it The Gap? -- is under fire for using the too-skinny model pictured in one of its latest ads. Life is getting hard. It used to be that we just made fun of overweight people like myself. Now apparently we also ridicule people we deem as too thin. (I will admit the young woman pictured looks like a hiker who got lost in the mountains and has been rescued after six days alone eating only berries and wood bark. But why was she hiking in a Gap dress!?) I suppose making fun of thin folks is still somewhat more acceptable than making fun of the morbidly obese, in much the same way making fun of really tall people is less bad than needling the unusually short. Tough to know, though. It's getting to the point the unkind may require a guidebook.

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February 28, 2014

Sun 3-2 pm: Ultimate Miami poll: LeBron vs. Marino. Vote now!; plus Tiger iffy for Doral, Dolphins said open to big trades, Incognito & more

1) It is SUNDAY, MARCH 2. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Miami's Mad March. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Masked Man LeBron, JoJo Nicolas, Incognito vandalizes own car, dumb Elkington & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Tiger withdraws from Honda, iffy for Doral: Tiger Woods withdrew after 13 holes from today's final round of the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, at 5-over-par for the day and out of the hunt, citing lower back spasms. Woods' status for next week's tournament at Doral is in question. "It's too early to tell," Woods said. "I need treatment every day until Thursday to try to calm it down. We'll see how it is."

Masked Man update: NBA told LeBron James to wear a standard clear protective mask, not the black on he debuted Thursday, and he agreed. In other Heat news, free agent Caron Butler has chosen Thunder over Miami for the prospect of more playing time.

IS IT FINALLY TIME FOR MARINO TO STEP ASIDE FOR LEBRON?: A few quick thoughts from Thursday's Heat win over the Knicks. Love the menacing look of LeBron James' black carbon fiber mask protecting his
1aa1adanbroken nose. LeBron has pulled as close to Kevin Durant in the MVP race as Miami has to Indiana for the East's No. 1 seed, and the nose/mask thing enhances James' chances. Voters will like that; it conveys toughness and playing through pain -- MVP attributes. Also, Dwyane Wade looked great. If that's the Wade we see throughout the playoffs, I like Miami's three-peat shot. Click on The Masked Man for my column from the arena off the game. OK now to our latest poll. Is it finally time to say LeBron has surpassed Dan Marino as the greatest player in the history of South Florida professional team sports? I think those are the only two realistically in the debate. The only poll I've had related to this was in May 2012. I asked who was more impressive: Marino in his prime or LeBron right then? Marino won by a 2-to-1 margin, 57.2% to 28.5%, with another 14.3% saying it was too close to call. Two years later, it's time to ask the question more directly. Remember, this is not a favorite-team poll, it isn't about longevity or about who's most "beloved." It's asking who's the greatest? Vote and say why.

WOMAN SUES OVER LOVELY MUGSHOT: Don't know why but I love this story. Meagan Simmons, a young 1aa1amugshotmother from Zephyrhills, Fla., near Tampa, was arrested for DUI and the resulting police mugshot was, well, rather sexy. So the Internet did what the Internet does, which was to take make fun of it, as pictured. At first Simmons seemed to revel in the attention, even mentioning in an interview that she was open to a Playboy shoot if Hugh Hefner himself called. Now she has an attorney and is suing to stop Mr. Internet from making fun of her. Delicioso!

REPORT: DOLPHINS OPEN TO TRADING WALLACE, WAKE, JORDAN: This is from CBSSports.com's Jason LaCanfora yesterday, citing leage sources. (Click HERE for the story). To summarize he claims the Dolphins are shopping DE Dion Jordan, last year's No. 1 draft pick, and that Miami also could be receptive to dealing WR Mike Wallace and DE Cam Wake. This would be pretty stunning if true, considering Wallace/Wake could be the team's two biggest stars and Jordan presumably has much untapped upside. Then again any or all of the three would have value and bring enough draft picks in return to allow significant moves in the coming draft. The Herald cites a team source saying the CBS report is not true. We'll see, stay tuned, et cetera and so forth.

INCOGNITO IN REHAB: Estranged -- and just plain strange -- ex-Dolphin Richie Incognito has an entered an Arizona mental-health rehab facility for stress-related reasons, the NFL Network first reported. Smashing your own $300,000 Ferrari with a baseball bat evidently is one of the warning signs of stress. 

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November 25, 2013

What is your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Vote!; plus sub-human 'Knockout Game', NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Brian the Dog, the Eagles, SOPY & more

1aa1briandeath1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27. Happy Hanukkah to all our Jewish friends. 2) I am shocked and dismayed that TV's Family Guy would kill Brian the Dog (pictured), my favorite erudite cartoon animal of all-time. Still hoping it's a Beatles/Paul-is-dead styled hoax. 3 In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Carolina, DSM & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

"What the hell!? I thought this was supposed to be a sports blog!" Well, it is. Mostly. And usually. But occasionally real life intervenes...

1aa1dolqbA REFERENDUM ON RYAN TANNEHILL: The Dolphins' young quarterback is now 27 games into his NFL career. This might be too soon for hard conclusions, but it is not too soon for opinions to be forming, and setting, like wet cement turning by degrees to stone. You know the Dolphins' offense has struggled, but how much of that is on Tannehill? What is your faith in him moving forward? This poll may provide a glimpse of our collective opinion. Vote and say why.

AWFUL 'KNOCKOUT GAME' AN EXTENSION OF AMERICA'S GLORIFYING OF VIOLENCE: If you haven't yet heard of the so-called "Knockout Game," it will disturb you. Or should, anyway. In the "game,"
1aa1kogamesomeone comes up to an innocent, unsuspecting victim and sucker-punches him or her with the violent intention of knocking them unconcious -- just for fun. For fun. Victims have included the elderly. Deaths have been reported. It is an awful, sub-human trend in crime. Click here for a general backgrounder, and here for the perspective of BlackAmericaWeb.com, which says the "game" has its roots among urban African-American youth. I read this quote from Chuck Williams, a Drexel University psychology professor and expert on youth crime: "We market violence to our children and we wonder why they're violent." He's so right, of course. There are video games that outrageously make sport of violence and killing. There are sports themselves -- I'm thinking UFC -- that are just short of barbaric. Am I blaming mixed martials arts for the Knockout Game? No. But there is at least a subliminal link between a society that cheers UFC and a society whose children make a sport of punching someone into submission. What's the point of even denying it?

'Knockout Game' news update: I have been made aware, because of this blog item, that a class-action lawsuit is pending against the makers of the video game Grand Theft Auto V, over claims the video depicts and encourages 'knockout' crimes. (Click here for a GTAV tutorial on how game players can best utilize a knockout punch).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 12: LOBOS WIN! LOBOS WIN!: Been a long season, folks, so yes is I do 1aa1fripixexaggerate the good news. NFL predix: Went only 7-6-1 overall but a solid 8-5-1 against the spread, including outright upset calls on Pats over Broncos ("Aawwk!"), Titans over Raiders and Steelers over Browns, plus Bucs and Chargers with points. Why can't I do that every week! Fantasy: Greg's Lobos finally won again! It was 151-128 with five guys scoring in the 20s to end a Texans-esque nine-game losing streak and improve to 2-10.

1aa1indmiaFAST FORWARD TO HEAT-PACERS, PLEASE: With Chicago's Derrick Rose out for the season (again) and Brooklyn a shambles, can we just fast-forward to a Heat-Pacers Eastern finals, please? A lot of air just went out of this NBA regular season for me. The only question is who gets the No. 1 seed, and right now Indiana seems hell-bent to have it. (Apropos of nothing, click HERE for a well-made Samsung video on LeBron James. I say well-made because it starts out with some nice publicity for the Miami Herald. Yee-uhh.   

1aa1eaglesAN HOMAGE TO THE EAGLES: We saw the Eagles perform the other night at the Heat arena (Pat Riley was there), and I'm happy to say the name of their latest tour, The History of the Eagles, is apt. Anyone who has followed this band since its 1970s heydays will enjoy the chronology of the concert. It begins with just co-founders Don Henley and Glenn Frey on stage, acoustically recalling the band's origin. The stage is gradually populated in order, ending with crowd favorite Joe Walsh. There were a few lesser-known cuts but mostly the show sticks to the greatest hits. The sold-out crowd ate it up. For me, any discussion of Greatest American Bands must start with the Beach Boys, Eagles and Springsteen's E Street Band. Then I might swoop in with the Greateful Dead and Pearl Jam. Who'd make your top five in the category?

SOPY RANKINGS: WEEK 13: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player 1aa1sopyof the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated 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. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. The current leader, FSU QB Jameis Winston, already has surpassed that total. 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 14: 

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk13=Year

1 (1)     Jameis Winston, FSU-qb            117.5 = 1,917.5

2 (2)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb                181.5 = 1,709.5

3 (3)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb            257.5 = 1,641

4 (4)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb           119 = 1,394

5 (5)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb              99 = 1,220

6 (7)     Devonta Freeman, FSU-rb         141 = 1,104

7 (6)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb             DNP = 1,051

8 (9)     Allen Hurns, Miami-wr                 132 = 1,014

9 (8)     Rashad Greene, FSU-wr             29 = 952

10 (--)   Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr                  119 = 858

Bubble: Rannell Hall, UCF-wr, 822. Other team leaders: USF--Marcus Shaw-rb, 770; Florida--Tyler Murphy-qb, 723; FIU--Lamarq Caldwell-rb, 603. Note: UCF and USF have played 10 games, all others 11 each.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. FSU (11-0); 2. UCF (9-1); 3. Miami (8-3); 4. FAU (5-6); 5. Florida (4-7); 6. USF (2-8); 7. FIU (1-10).

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August 26, 2013

Dumb, dumber, dumbest: NCAA's torture of UM, Miley at the VMAs, Zimmerman at the gun factory & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 26. Click on Random Evidence for latest Sunday notes column, leading with onset of college football and Canes' opener. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose PS4 to Tampa Bay, The List & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), on Instagram (Upsetbird) and on Vine (Greg Cote).

Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest: It's up to you which of these Three Things That Make Me Mad deserve which designation on the Dumb Scale. I just woke up Monday feeling all three needed me to dropkick them...

SHAME ON THE NCAA FOR ITS EGREGIOUS FOOT-DRAGGING: There are statutes of limitations in the United States. There are laws about double-jeopardy. There is the right to a speedy trial. These safeguards convey the general belief in America that the accused should not be punished by an 1aa1emmertncaaextraordinarily long process only to then be punished again. The NCAA of course is sadly beholden to none of these principles, and that is why the Miami Hurricanes still wait, three years later, for resolution of the Nevin Shapiro investigation. This is Hurricanes Week, with the football season opener vs. FAU on Friday night. We should be beyond NCAA matters by now and free to just enjoy football. Instead coach Al Golden and his program still deal with the enormous distraction of possible penalties yet to come. "We've done everything we can do," Golden said Monday. "It's felt like 50 First Dates, answering the same question [about the NCAA] all the time. I'm looking forward to that closure." Nobody formerly connected to the renegade/jailed booster Shapiro remains with the team. Everybody is ready to move on. Self-imposed penalties including two years of postseason bans already have been served. But the foot-dragging NCAA won't let this end, and with every day of further delay you get the uneasy sense that Mark Emmert's (pictured) corrupted, dysfunctional organization will levy additional penalties if only to justify the time and expense of its ponderous probe. Miami has paid its price and the paying continues. The shamed NCAA needs to wrap this case up with nothing beyond minor additional sanctions -- and wrap it up now.

MILEY CYRUS AT THE VMA'S: I assume Miley Cyrus, the pop singer, has a personal manager who steers her career and her professional choices. I assume said personal manager either should have been fired 1aa1cyrus3before this, or will be now. Miley once had a nice, role-model persona; sort of a Taylor Swift without the talent. Remember? Then somebody decided to turn her into a character of the type one might find on a street corner and rent for an hour. Like a brainless doll, she was re-dressed, re-made-up and paraded out as all sexy. Sunday night came an in-your-face reminder at the MTV Video Music Awards, when Miley, 20, stripped down to flesh-tone undies and turned the other cheek (see left) for Robin Thicke. I did not see the VMAs live, because the competing Dexter/Ray Donovan doubleheader had my attention. In missing Miley's twerkin' performance I feel like I made a good choice. Click HERE to watch her self-degradation, which includes some naughtiness with a foam finger. Constant readers know I am quite the opposite of a prude, but I'm embarrassed for this girl and what she has allowed herself to be turned into by the pimps in charge of her.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN AT THE GUN PLANT: George, George, George. Seriously!? Last month George Zimmerman wins a controversial acquittal on charges he murdered unarmed teen Trayvon Martin while 1aa1georgegunserving as a neighborood watchman. Now Zimmerman is photographed touring the Kel-Tec firearms factory, the same Cocoa, Fla., manufacturer that made the semi-automatic handgun he used to kill Martin. Pictured via TMZ is the photo of Zimmerman all smiles with a Kel-Tec employee. This is pretty galling. This is an affront to Trayvon's family. Is this really who Zimmerman wants to be now? Mr. Vigilante? Mr. Gun Lobby Guy? I'm not sure if Kel-Tec makes bulletproof vests or not, but, with post-trial decisions such as this, I'd imagine George might want to consider such a purchase a wise investment.

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August 22, 2013

Marlins attendance: Signs of life; plus Dolphin roster moves, T.O. sues Rosenhaus, my White House visit, NFL award odds, Mr. Incognito & more

1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 23. Dolphins cut five players today including LB Alonzo Highsmith. Others out the door: G Jeff Braun, G Chandler Burden, DT Chris Burnette and WR Kenny Stafford. 2) I'm back in the Random Evidence Dungeon midwifing the birth of this Sunday's notes-clumn package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Blog Exclusive: With the Dolphins at The White House. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), on Instagram (Upsetbird) and on Vine (Greg Cote).

MARLINS ATTENDANCE: SIGNS OF LIFE, AND HOPE: A while back in the blog I mentioned I sensed fan resentment against the Marlins on account of owner Jeffrey Loria might be easing, and it was as if I'd outlined plans to vacation in Egypt or Syria. I had to be crazy! But now look: Eight of the 10 biggest 1aa1josemarlinshome crowds of the season have come in August. That includes 103,422 for the just-ended four-game series with the Dodgers. Some of that is the opponent, but not all of it. Some of it is that, since an abysmal 13-41 start, the team has been competetive/respectable at 35-36. As much, I think there is a growing sense that maybe that controversial "fire sale" trade with Toronto wasn't so bad for Miami after all and that, in turn, maybe 1aa1lbjmarlinsLoria knew what he was doing. Don't get me wrong: Loria still needs to spend more, especially for veteran bats, for offense, as we look forward. That remains a public-trust obligation of the new ballpark. But the framework of a promising young team is here, and we are starting to see it in the fan response. Rookie phenom Jose Fernandez (pictured above right) has been the hub of growing interest, and should now be in the lead for NL Rookie of the Year after his domination of the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig. And when LeBron James attends a Marlins game (as he did Wednesday, pictured above left), you officially have earned a bit of buzz. The sharp uptick in August attendance is good news no matter what you think of Loria, because it proves the fans are here. Combine the promise of this team with an owner who spends -- and owner who simply manages to not make fans irate -- and fans will respond.

T.O. SUING ROSENHAUS: Former NFL receiver Terrell Owens is suing agent Drew Rosenhaus over the hiring of a financial adviser, faulting Rosenhaus for "steering Owens to hire an incompetent and unethical financial adviser with whom the defendant had a ... business relationship." The suit was filed last night in Miami-Dade Circuit Court by the Miami law firm Carlson & Lewittes.

MY WHITE HOUSE VISIT: I have what people tell me is an interesting job. I have covered Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Finals, a Stanley Cup Finals, a World Cup, a Masters, an Olympics. I've been in the 1aa1housewhitecompany of sports figures from Muhammad Ali to Tiger Woods to LeBron James. I was there the night UM won the '83 national championship. But nothing I've covered connected with my work has struck me quite likely being in the White House for the ceremony honoring the 1972 Dolphins. It was an honor, a genuine thrill. I'm not a bucket-list guy, but if I were, I feel like I just crossed off a big one. When I wrote in criticism of the three former players who did not attend for political reasons, in objection to Obama's policies, I meant to convey that, to me, the White House is bigger than whomever the current occupant might be. Those three men have every right to stand on principle however they define it for themselves. For me, the White House is the most iconic symbol of the country I love, and it was an honor to walk those grounds, to attend an official press briefing, and to watch the president enter the East Room. I'll never forget it.     

DOLPHINS, NFL AWARDS ODDS: From Bovada, Peyton Manning at 5-1 odds is preseason pick for NFL MVP, followed by Aaron Rodgers 13-2, Colin Kaepernick and Drew Brees both 10-1, and Adrian Peterson and Tom Brady at 12-1. No Dolphin is among 39 men mentioned through 150-1 odds. Other categories: Passing yards--Brees the pick at 4-1; Ryan Tannehill tied for 21st at 50-1. Rushing yards--Peterson pick at 11-4; Lamar Miller tie-19th at 40-1. Receiving yards--Calvin Johnson pick at 11-4; Mike Wallace tie-19th at 40-1. Offensive rookie--Tavon Austin pick at 5-1; Mike Gillislee tie-16th at 33-1. And defensive rookie--Ezekiel Ansah pick at 6-1; Dion Jordan tie-11th at 18-1.

1aa1incognitoON RICHIE INCOGNITO: Couple of quick thoughts on reports this week that Dolphins guard Richie Incognito recently clocked a security guard outside LIV nightclub at the Fountainbleau. (This was just after that altercation involving him in the last preseason game). First, when a man reputed to be one of the NFL's dirtiest players -- or badass, if he's on your team -- gets in a fight, is that even news? Second, could there be a man less-suited to the surname "Incognito" than a 320-punt football player with a temper?

1aa1ddWHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?: I read this lead paragraph of a local story today and it made me sad. Here it is, verbatim: A Lauderhill couple assaulted and pistol-whipped an employee at a Dunkin’ Donuts on Tuesday for getting their coffee order wrong, police said. My comment: There is only one possible exception to this being an overreaction by the couple. That would be if they asked for vanilla or caramel in their coffee but instead got urine or arsenic.

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