1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl review and poll, betting outlook for Dolphins and Canes & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
CANES CLASS NOT BAD, BUT LOW RANKINGS KEEP THE HEAT ON GOLDEN: I think UM's 2015 recruiting class is being underestimated on this National Signing Day, but the perception-is-reality thing -- its low rankings -- keeps the heat on coach Al Golden. Miami's class is ranked 24th by ESPN, 26th by Rivals and by 247Sports, and 34th by Scout, thanks to 14 de-commitments that left Golden scrambling. Click on The Ones That Got Away for my National Signing Day column, newly online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.
THIS IS NOT YOUR 'NATIONAL SIGNING DAY' HEADQUARTERS: I rebel against the NSD mania that engulfs college football fans, ESPN and other media today. Don't get me wrong. The sport's equivalent of the NFL's draft and free agency is important -- an essential annual influx and replenishing. What I reject as absurd is the over-analysis and over-coverage of it. Hurricanes fans and others around the country will instantly choose elation or disappointment today based on the signing of a couple of dozen players they've mostly never heard of or seen play. Based on what? On the analysis and assigning of a star rating by self-anointed website experts such as Rivals.com, Scout.com and others whose opinions are regurgitated as gospel. It's mostly guesswork that usually takes a couple or three of years to fairly judge, yet by the end of the day today every college's recruiting class will be ranked, poll-style. One year ago ESPN ranked UM's class No. 10 in the nation. Which means ... who knows? The Canes had the nation's No. 1-ranked incoming class in 2008. And it meant nothing, really. In the 2010-11 seasons, when that glorious class should have been blossoming to greatness, UM was a combined 13-12. Anyway, enough of my rant. Tell us what you think of National Signing Day and why.
BETTING UPDATES ON HEAT, CANES, PANTHERS: Courtesy Bovada, Golden State (7-2) and up-trending Cleveland (15-2) are now nearly tied as faves to win the NBA title, with Heat now 100-1 (was 75-1). In the NHL, Anaheim and Chicago are co-faves at 6-1, with the Panthers now 100-1 (was 75-1). In men's NCAA hoops, Kentucky is even-odds to win it all, with Hurricanes at 200-1 (was 100-1). Best bet for a local player to win an individual honor: Cats' Aaron Ekblad stands third in NHL rookie of year odds at 3-1.
Poll result: Huge majority loved Super Bowl: We asked how this Super Bowl compared to most and 82.8 percent called it "better than average." Another 10.3% called it about the same, and 6.9% -- presumably Seahawks fans and losing bettors -- called it below average.
"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a creepy family portrait in which the Dad looks almost like a ventriloquist's dummy. Thank you!" Dear Reader: Hmm. Tough request, but let me see what I can do.
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1) 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.
Mo'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 32 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 important. 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 Washington 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 home (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?
"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 public 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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1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 19. Thinking of the late, great Nelson Mandela (pictured), who would have turned 96 on Friday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Post-LeBron Heat outlook poll, Stanton/Jeter/All-Star break, Pouncey's latest woe, Hot Button Top 10, my ill-timed vacation & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.
Word of the day: balter: To dance gracelessly, without particular art or skill, but perhaps with some enjoyment.
WHOSE TOWN IS IT, ANYWAY? HAS LEBRON'S EXIT OPENED THE DOOR?: One of the little-considered byproducts of LeBron James leaving Miami is the idea that, if this had become a "basketball town" over the past four years largely because of him ... is it still? (Was it ever?) Do the Dolphins now have a large opportunity to reclaim what once was theirs? I know this poll question is tough for some of you because many of us, me included, follow more than one local team closely and hate to choose. Still, you know your heart and gut feeling must start somewhere. The poll is limited to South Florida's four major pro teams plus UM football. Apologies to others, but this clearly is our Big 5 teams. And, apologies to the Marlins and Cats, but we imagine a three-team race for the crown. So, post-LeBron and moving forward, which of our biggest teams do you follow most closely or care about the most? King James is gone. In his wake, who's our King Team? Vote and say why.
Heat fans still optimistic in wake of LeBron departure: We asked in the previous blogpost, and 70.7 percent of you said you remain optimistic about Miami entering this coming NBA season, versus 15.9% who are pessimistic. The other 13.4% were undecided.
ESPN, NORMALLY LOATH TO SELF-PROMOTE, ROLLS OUT THE ESPYS: I've never fully embraced the ESPYS as necessary annual awards -- sports has too many already -- but here they came again last night, with Drake (pictured) hosting. ESPN leads the league in self-promotion, and the ESPYS are the Worldwide Leader at its preening best. Not many Miami/South Florida athletes among finalists in this year's 34 categories. I wonder if LeBron James, up for best NBA player, would have thanked Miami fans if he'd won? New Heatnik Shabazz Napier was up for best championship performance while with UConn, Serena Williams from Palm Beach was up for best female tennis player; and IndyCar's Ryan Hunter-Reay, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, was up for best driver. Only Hunter-Reay won. An auction benefitting the V Foundation for cancer research was held, in conjunction with the ESPYS, and when last I checked the high bid among 258 items was $46,000 to watch a Mavs game with owner Mark Cuban. (I'd pay at least that much to not sit next to Cuban for two hours). Bargain: For a mere $3,050 you could watch a Heat game with Dan Le Batard, Papi and Stugotz, although I'd imagine Stugotz will scalp his ticket to a broker and miss the game. (For $1.99 you could smoke a cigar with me in my garage, if you bring the cigars).
THE ENTIRE WORLD CUP IN 245 SECONDS: Click here for a 4 minute 5 second video that summarizes the 2014 World Cup. For futbol aficionados, it may be emotional. For casual fans, it may further whet the appetite. For soccer agnostics, it may (hopefully) offer a glimpse of what they've been missing that so enthralls so much of the world.
"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but I feel like it has been a long time since you've had a gratuitously sexy photo of Kate Upton. Can this be remedied?" Dear Reader: That depends. Is there a gratuity in it for me?
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1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 16. Red Klotz (pictured), maybe the biggest loser in sports history, yet beloved, is dead at 93. For 60 years he played for, managed or otherwise ran the Washington Generals and other prop-opponents that toured with -- and lost to -- the Harlem Globetrotters. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron-gone poll, Germany wins World Cup, Heat add Luol Deng & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.
Dengue Fever: Mosquito-borne tropical disease.
Deng Fever: Heat fans' excitement over Luol Deng.
Updated NBA championship odds: New via our friends at Bovada, LeBron's Cavaliers are favorites ar 7-2, followed by Spurs 9-2, Bulls and Thunder both 13-2, and Rockets and Clippers both 10-1. Miami is 25-1, which is ninth overall and fourth in East.
THE HEAT OUTLOOK, POST-LEBRON: The flurry is settling. LeBron James is gone. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade (notably) will be back, along with Udonis Haslem (official today), Mario Chalmers and Chris "Birdman" Andersen. Wade also became official today, accepting a two-year deal not a longer one, which is a huge positive for the Heat. Luol Deng has been added, along with Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. Someone else may yet be added, but it will likely be a role player in that $2.7 million exception slot, not someone of great significance. Basically, we now know what the Heat will look like entering the 2014-15 season. The loss of LeBron is seismic and makes Miami appreciably worse. Now, it will be interesting to see how Bosh is deployed and if he is up to leading, and if Wade can develop a 3-point shot and revitalize himself phyiscally. Deng looks to me like a solid, underheralded add. The Heat's Big 3 is surely downsized post-LeBron, but I think Bosh-Wade-Deng make a decent one. (Bosh is pictured in what he posted on Instagram to announce he'd be back). An onus he hasn't had before will be on coach Erik Spoelstra. I think the Heat still will be among the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, a threat to compete to reach the Finals, but not a championship contender. What is your outlook as of now? How has Pat Riley done in response to the loss of his irreplaceable superstar? Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.
Poll result: Most fans understand, support LeBron's decision to leave: We asked -- Do you blame LeBron for leaving? -- the response was enormous, and 63.1 percent said no and wished him well. Yes-I'm-upset-at-him drew 17.8%, and another 19.1% were undecided or had mixed feelings. In Florida the percents were 61.5 no/wish well, 14.4 yes/upset at him, and 24.1 undecided/mixed.
STANTON GAGS IN HR DERBY; JETERFEST TONIGHT: Marlin's Giancarlo Stanton sort of choked in the Home Run Derby last night in rainy Minneapolis, impressively advancing to earn a bye, but then gagging with zero homers in the round that could have put him in the finals. Yoenis Cespedes won. Big letdown for Stanton, whose power is made for the Derby and who was a betting favorite going in. The Home Run Derby has pretty much become something that sucks, by the way. Tonight is the All-Star Game, a.k.a. a three-hour living euology for Derek Jeter.
MIKE POUNCEY'S TAILSPIN: Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and brother Maurkice assaulted a man at Cameo night club on Miami Beach around 4:20 a.m. Saturday, according to the alleged victim, Ricky Vasquez. It is said to have happened during the twins' annual advertised birthday blowout (see photo). Vasquez on Twitter claimed he had been "gay bashed," and a woman who witnessed the beating also went on Twitter. A police report and a related lawsuit have been filed; no charges as of today/Tuesday. Whether or not there are, the Dolphins should publicly address the situation. Recall that Mike Pouncey was a figure in last year's Bullygate mess, embarrassed himself with a related Tweet, and was photographed wearing a hat in support of accused murderer Aaron Hernandez. When Pouncey underwent hip surgery last month I wrote in the blog, "I wonder if he is just coming into the prime of a Pro Bowl-caliber career, or if we have seen his best and can expected a flameout. That may be harsh. Let's find out." The latest alleged incident piles on.
HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot Button is a new feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package is on hiatus until August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:
1. Heat: LeBron leaves Miami: The unthinkable happened. LeBron James left Miami to take his talents (back) to Cleveland. The good news, relatively speaking: Miami contracts (Luol) Deng Fever.
2. Baseball: All-Star festivities: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton is betting fave in tonight's Home Run Derby in Minneapolis. Stanton and pitcher Henderson Alavrez will rep Miami in Tuesday's All-Star Game.
3. World Cup: Germany wins: Viva Deutschland! Or something like that. Lionel Messi and Argentina fell. The good news for Argentines? You were still better than Brazil.
4. Marlins: Slumping into break: Team had lost foive of six and slumped to fourth place in NL East entering the Midsummer Classic. BOLO alert for those playoff hopes.
5. Dolphins: More Pouncey trouble: With July 25 start of training camp looming, center Mike Pouncey finds himself accused of a gay-bashing at a Miami Beach nightlcub. True or not, an embarrassment.
6. UM football: 2 Canes get boot: JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa were kicked off team and from school relalted to a sexual battery on campus. Some students never learn.
7. British Open: Tiger tries again: Golf's third of four majors is this week, with Tiger Woods seeking his fourth British but first since '06. Remeber the old days when Tiger was the favorite in any major?
8. Panthers: Developmental camp: Recent No. 1 pick Aaron Eklbad led the young Cats skating in club's developmental camp. Yes, that in out Top 10 does mean the dog days are here.
9. Wimbledon: Fortnight ends: Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova won and anounced plans to use their earnings to buy the missing vowel in their surnames.
10. College football: Preseason awards: The watch lists are out. FSU quarterback Jameis Winston is listed in categroies of player of the year and crab-leg stealing.
MY ILL-TIMED SUMMER VACATION: Me and a family-n-friends party of six returned Sunday from a week's sojourn aboard the biggest cruiseship in the world, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. (I don't wanna say it's a huge ship, but we took a cab from our stateroom to dinner). The LeBron-gone news broke while I was away, and I wrote a column from the ship's Internet room somewhere off the Virgin Islands. We had a great time touring Nassau and St. Maarten. Three of us played golf at the tony Oean Club near Paradise Island, Bahamas, not the most famous course I have played (Pebble Beach), but the most aesthetic with its ocean vistas. My kid Christopher and I (pictured) both birdied the par-4 17th. Birdies are routine for him. They make me do mental cartwheeels and backflips. NBA star Carlos Boozer was aboard our cruise, ogled and approached by fans who hated to bother him but did, anyway. I gained five pounds on a diet of alcohol and nonstop eating. Finished Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes over cigars on deck. Even did quite well in the casino especially on the roulette table, including a hit with five chips on 33 and four on 20. A great time. But I told you all to mind LeBron while I was gone. Geez I can't leave you people for a minute!
DEAR GREG...: "...Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of a man carrying a gigantic rabbit. Thank you." Dear Reader: I doubt there is such a thing but I'll check.
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It's Radio Wednesday: I'm in-studio with Dan Le Batard Show today, 3-7 p.m. on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.
1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 7. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Nets preview and series poll, LeBron overload, Seantrel, LeBapod, peanut shell art, Crocodile Chop & more. 2) Join us Twitter @gregcote.
Durant routs LeBron in MVP: Kevin Durant ended the two-year MVP reign of LeBron James in voting announced yesterday. No surprise. But the margin perhaps was. Durant had 119 first-place votes to James' six.
G1: HEAT 107, BROOKLYN 86: LEBRON, ALLEN LEAD BALANCED MIAMI ATTACK: [Click on Miami's Time for my column off last night's Heat win. It isn't the regular season any more, Brooklyn]. LeBron James led the way with 22 points but Ray Allen's 19 off the bench were just as big last night in Miami's 107-86 win. Chris Bosh also came up big with 15 points, 11 rebounds and a particular spark in the third quarter, when Miami's 33 points busted open a tight game. So much for Brooklyn's 4-0 season record against Miami, by the way. See our Heat 3 Stars of game below. Original post: You thought it started with the regular season? It didn't. You thought it started with the first round of the playoffs? It didn't. The Heat's run for a three-peat begins tonight, for real, for all intent and purposes. The regular season was an elongated walk-through. The first-round playoff sweep over Charlotte was perfunctory and drama free. Now it begins! Real playoff ambience and intensity will visit the downtown bayside arena for the first time in this postseason tonight in Game 1 of Heat-Nets. Brooklyn brings personalities, including former Celtics thorns Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Brooklyn brings starpower. Brooklyn also brings a team capable of beating Miami based on that 4-0 season mark favoring the Nets. Granted, three games were decided by 1 point and the other in double-overtime. Still, 4-0 is 4-0, although I suspect that as much as anything fuels the Heat here. If 4-0 makes Nets overconfident or invites doubt about Heat, well, that is what LeBron James and company feed on. The first quarter tonight should be especially torqued up tonight as the Heat fight off the natural rust of too much rest and try to make an early statement. Can't wait! My series pick: Heat in 5.
Poll result: You say Heat in 6: We asked for your prediction and most, 41.4 percent, said Heat in 6 games, edging the 37.3% who said Heat in 5. A Heat sweep drew 7.3% and Heat in seven drew 5.5%. Remaining 8.5% have Brooklyn in an upset. Interesting to contrast this round and last. With Brooklyn only 44.6% say Heat in any easy series (4 or 5 games). Versus Charlotte the easy-series factor was 87.1%.
Heat Postseason MVP Standings: Last night in Game 1--1. Ray Allen; 2. LeBron James; 3. Chris Bosh. Overall through five playoff games: LeBron James 13 points, Dwyane Wade 6, Chris Bosh 5, Ray Allen 3, Chris Andersen 1, Norris Cole 1, James Jones 1. (We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every game and award points on 3-2-1 basis).
ON THE MARLINS' STREAK: Marlins on a nice little 7-1 after last night's win, now a nifty 16-5 at home and only a half-game back in the NL East. Miami's plus-28 run differential, fifth best in MLB, suggests a real-deal contender. Perspective, though: These kind of little streaks happen every year, even in down years. Marlins were 6-1 from June 23-July 1 in 2013; 7-0 from May 1-7 in 2012; 7-1 from April 13-22 in 2011; 9-1 from July 6-18 in 2011; and 6-1 from May 10-16 in 2010. The key is to avoid the comparable slumps such as the 8-game losing streak just a month ago, April 6-14.
MOUNTAIN DEW'S MUSIC RIPOFF: The sound of the Mountain Dew TV commercial entitled "Kickstart Your Night" currently airing is suspiciously derivative of Jack White. It's a song called "Repetition" by a group called The Willowz, but the vocal and music are such a Jack ripoff it ain't funny. Aside to Third Man Records: This is why lawyers were invented.
DEAR GREG...: "...Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show what would happen if X Factor judge Simon Cowell were a large house cat. Thank you." Dear Reader: Let me see what I can do.
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1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12. We're on the rack in the Friday Page Dungeon materializing our latest NFL predictions. Tonight's pick is Broncos (-10) over Chargers, 31-23; capsule here. 2) To the e-mailers who keep asking: I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): College bowls poll, Lo-gone Morrison, Brady on Dolphins, Heat-Pacers, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, final SOPY Top 20, Book of Mormon & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).
Dose o' Dolphins on pregame show: This Sunday's The NFL Today on CBS pregame show will feature a segment in which Dan Marino interviews Joe Philbin, Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace and Cam Wake.
Marlins swap outfielders: Marlins today traded Justin Ruggiano to the Cubs for Brian Bogusevic, 29, who batted .273 with six homers in 47 games with Chicago last season.
PULSE-READ: HEAT'S THREE-PEAT HOPES AT THE QUARTER MARK: There used to be a public-service TV ad aimed at bad parents. It went something like, "It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your kids are?" Here's my adaptation: "It's the one-quarter mark of the NBA season. Do your know where the Heat's three-peat hopes are?" I ran this poll prior to the season in late October, so it'll be interesting to compare results. Now, Miami is 16-6, with fresh evidence suggesting Indiana is better in the East. No fewer than three teams in the West have a better record. The Heat is dead-last in rebounding. Dwyane Wade's knees need more and more pampering. On the other hand, LeBron is still LeBron. Based on what you have seen through 22 games and what your gut is saying, answer the poll question as honestly as possible -- or as if you had a sizable bet on the answer, perhaps. Vote and say why.
Poll result: Canes, FSU lead bowls poll: We asked in the previous blogpost what college bowl interests you most, and dominant were Miami-Louisville (48.1 percent) and FSU-AUburn (41.1). Considering this is a MiamiHerald.com blog, this was nio surprise. In fact, it was a lousy poll idea. UCF-Baylor got 3.6%, Michigan State-Stanford 2.7%, Clemson-Ohio State 0.7% -- ouch, Orange Bowl! -- and "other" 3.8%.
THINGS GREG COTE THINKS BUT SELDOM SPEAKS ALOUD (one in a series): I have never seen a man driving a white Volkswagen Beetle.
"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK, but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of an Elton John Russian nesting doll. Thank you." Dear Reader: Yeah, like they even make those!
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1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 18. NFL says Larry Litttle will anounce Dolphins' 2nd- and 3rd-round draft picks. 2) UM linebacker Eddie Johnson officially departs for Hinds Community College. 3) R.I.P. Pat Summerall, 82, for many the voice of football. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Boston Marathon tragedy, Man vs. World on Heat, Dolphins' Mount Rushmore results, UM spring football, New Orleans visit. 5) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.
Heat-Bucks schedule: Game 1--Sunday 21st at MIA 7 pm; 2--Tuesday 23rd at MIA 7:30; 3--Thursday 25th at MILW 7; 4--Sunday 28th at MILW 3:30. If necessary: 5--Tuesday 30th at MIA tbd;p 6--Thursday 2nd at MILW tbd; 7--Saturday 4th at MIA tbd. Click on Must Win for my forward-looking column off last night's regular season finale. Dwyane Wade says Miami must win a repeat title for the record-setting regular season to matter.
FORGET THE BIG 3. WHO HAS BEEN HEAT'S MOST VALUABLE OTHER GUY?: LeBron James will win another NBA season MVP award or the league should be disbanded. So a vote on the Heat's season MVP
would be pointless; it's obvious. Likewise, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the Heat's second and third
best and most valuable players beyond argument. But after the Big 3? There the debate begins. In this poll I offer a choice of the eight other players who have played most. Any of four of them, to me, might be legitimate picks here. Have your say. Vote and say why.
KIPER PLAYS IRELAND ON DOLPHINS DRAFT: Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, take the month off. ESPN draftnik Mel Kiper has done your job for you by revealing Miami's picks in the first three rounds. Dolphs are only NFL team with five, by the way. They'll be, says Mel: 1st round (12th overall)--Alabama OT D.J. Fluker; 2R (42nd)--Florida State DE Tank Carradine; 2R (54th)--UConn CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson; 3R (77th)--North Carolina State CB David Amerson; and 3R (82nd)--Harvard FB Kyle Juszczyk.
MORE REFLECTIONS ON BOSTON: I grew up in South Florida but was born in Massachusetts, 25 miles west of Boston, in Lawrence. Many longtime readers know the Red Sox and Carl Yastrzemski were my
first love in sports. My second was the parquet floor on which Bill Russell and John Havlicek worked. But of course I felt Monday's Boston Marathon tragedy not because of those roots, but as an American. Background matters not at a time like that. We are all one country. It sounds corny, but it is the one truism that the terrorists fail to understand: That what they think will tear us apart, binds us together instead. I was so moved to see people running toward where the bombs blew, to render aid. To hear of runners sprinting straight from the race to the nearest hospital, to donate blood. New York understands, and so the Yankees last night displayed both teams' logos with the banner, 'United We Stand,' and played the Red Sox anthem Sweet Caroline during the game. (Click here to see and hear that sweet gesture). Times like these remind us there are so many evil people in the world .. but also that there are so many, many more who are good. [Click on We Deal With It for my reaction to the tragedy, a column I am grateful to say has appeared in newspapers all over the country].
Papelbon goes there: Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies (and ex-Red Sox) pitcher, might have had a little internal voice saying, "Don't go there." But he went there. He might have heard that little inward voice warn, "Don't be that guy." But he was that guy. Papelbon, yesterday, on the Boston bombings: "Today's day and age has gotten so crazy. Shoot, man, Obama wants to take our guns from us and everything."
MARLINS UPDATED WORLD SERIES ODDS. NO, SERIOUSLY!: Hey, Mr. Vegas wants somebody to bet on everybody. Hence, odds. Updated World Series odds from Bovada, new today, have a bunched crowd for favorite, with Tigers 7-1, Braves 15-2 and Nationals 8-1. Your Marlins are dead last now at 1,000-to-1.
SHANE LARKIN, DON'T GO: Hurricanes point guard Shane Larkin's protrcated decision whether to return
to UM or enter the NBA draft is said to be leaning toward go-pro, according to ESPN's Chad Ford. That would be unfortunate for him, I think. Larkin would not be a certain first-round draft pick. TNT's Steve Kerr, appearing on 790 The Ticket recently, responded to my question about Larkin's NBA future by saying he'd be a career backup. Larkin needs another college season to solidify his first-round status and improve perceptions about his upside on the next level.
On FIU's basketball hire: Norfolk State's Anthony Evans taking over FIU men's basketball feels like a solid hire if only because -- unlike star names Richard Pitino and Isiah Thomas before that -- Evans seems like he might not treat the job as an immediate stepping stone. FIU doesn't need another fast-break outta town. It needs a coach who wants to stay, and build.
"DEAR GREG...": "...your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill riding a go-kart. Thank you." Dear reader, I'll see what I can do. No promises.
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1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 4. New blogpost coming later today. 2) Dan Marino a big underdog to Joe Montana head-to-head in Sweet 16 voting for 'Madden 25' cover. Click here to vote. 3) R.I.P., Ralph Sanchez. If you live in South Florida and you care about auto racing, he deserved your thanks. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins open season, Final Four poll, Ricky Williams' new song, Heat-Spurs, Cavalcade of Creepy Easter Bunnies. 5) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.
FIU losing Richard Pitino after one season: Men's basketball coach Richard Pitino has left FIU after one season for the Minnesota Gophers. It is no surprise. This was a stepping stone all the way for the son of Louisville's Famous Rick. Too bad for The Int'l, though. Kid Pitino did well, piloting an 18-14 season that fell one win shy of an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
MARLINS FANS' DILEMMA: SHOULD DISDAIN FOR LORIA BE TAKEN OUT ON TEAM?: This is a difficult decision without a right answer, and I think either viewpoint should be respected by the other side. I
tackle this issue in today's latest column; click Marlins Deserve Support Despite Loria to read. The headline on the column (Marlins deserve our support) is a bit misleading because it allows a lazy reader -- don't get me wrong, lazy readers are better than non-readers! -- to think I mean Loria deserves support. He does not; he deserves the disdain he gets, for reasons I outline. But I think Marlins fans must be bigger than the current team owner. Supporting the blameless players in the uniform supports Loria financially much less than it simply supports the hometown team and the idea of baseball here. I am interested in your thoughts. Can you be a Marlins fan while also having disdain for Loria, or are those two things mutually exclusive? We ran a similar poll back in November but it's time for another pulse-read with the home opener just days away. Remember, this is NOT asking whether you support Loria. This is asking how someone who calls himself a Marlins fan should feel toward the team right now. Vote and say why.
Heath Hell Bell has not changed: Former Marlins closer Heath Bell gave up four hits, two home runs and three runs in 1/3 inning in his Arizona debut last night before being lifted to a rain of boos. Sound familiar?
UPDATE: HERALD'S HEAT 'MOST INFLUENTIAL' BALLOT ADDS TICKET TAKER, BALL-INFLATER: I make fun of my own newspaper when warranted (appreciating that The Herald usually is thick-skinned) and feel an obligation to do so over our ongoing poll to name the
Heat's 25 most influential figures marking the club's 25th anniversary season. You can vote here if you have time to wend through a bloated ballot that started with 46 people and quickly, quietly and mysteriously ballooned to 62 because some folks left off the initial ballot evidently registered their pique. Leading the vote so far are who you'd expect: Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Alonzo Mourning. On the bubble at No. 25, when last I checked, was Grant Long. The eventual final list of 25 will be legit. So is the idea of the poll. It is the ridiculous names on the ballot that beg lampooning. The lowest vote-getters when last I checked included broadcaster John Crotty, arena noisemaker DJ Irie, the Golden Oldies, broadcaster Mike Inglis, team doctor Harlan Selesnick, and front-office background executives Michael McCullough, Kim Stone and Eric Woolworth. Stone had surged ahead of McCullough, 2 votes to
1, in the battle for last place as of this morning. Also on the ballot and drawing less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the vote: mascot Burnie (pictured) and the Heat Dancers. Was there anyone -- anyone at all!? -- who thought or said aloud, "Why are we putting Harlan Selesnick and the Golden Oldies on the ballot?" Surely the ballot should have swelled to at least 100 so we might have included the kid who mops up the sweat on the hardwood, the guy manning the T-shirt cannon, and the abuela selling game-night
arepas off Biscayne. Clearly, though, the most egregious, inexcusable ballot omission of all? Banana Man!
STUFF THE BALLOT FOR SAMMY SCHULMAN!: Blog friends, I ask you unabashedly to stuff The Herald's 'Heat 25' ballot for Sammy
Schulman and to encourage everyone you know to do the same. He is the face of the behind-the-scenes guy who few know but who deserves some public love! Schulman (pictured) is an original club employee who has risen to executive vice president and chief financial officer. He is one of Riley's most trusted right-hand men, and the man most responsible for keeping the franchise's and arena's financial houses in order. Click HERE to vote as many times as you like. He is up to 34th in the overall voting and climbing! Let's rally behind Schulman. Schulman! SCHUL-MAN, SCHUL-MAN, SCHUL-MAN!!
Three thoughts on star-less Heat's home loss to Knicks: 1) When LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sit out, never be the least bit surprised by a Miami loss. 2) Carmelo Anthony, when in his zone, is as good a scorer as anybody in the sport. 3) Nobody looks good wearing an orange hat. Especially you, Spike Lee. Pictured left is the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's April Fool's joke on readers yesterday. It also serves as a deferred nightmare for Heat fans.
DOLPHINS FAN TO ANNOUNCE DRAFT PICK: Longtime season-ticket holder Giovanni Estevez of Miramar has won a club promotion to announce the team's fourth-round pick of the NFL Draft in New York on April 27. I'd pay him a hundred bucks to announce his own name. The lucky fan is pictured with the giant, creepy-looking likenesses of Dan Marino and Don Shula. Bo caption was provided, but I'd guess Giovanni is the one in the middle.
Poll result: Most rooting for underdog Wichita State in Final Four: We asked not for a prediction but for who you most want to win the men's Final Four (you may still vote in blogpost directly below), and underdog No. 9 seed Wichita State led comfortably with 36.1 percent. After that it was Louisville 29.5, Michigan 21.7 and Syracuse 12.7.
DEAR GREG...: "...Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a man walking down a busy street with a cat on is head. Thank you." Dear reader: Don't be silly.
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[1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 21. The History Channel miniseries, "The Bible," cast as Satan an actor, Mehdi Ouzaani, who, in costume (pictured) appears to resemble President Obama. The network is aghast that anyone would make that connection. Really, History Channel? Look at the effing picture! 2) A happy 68th birthday to Heat potentate Pat Riley. 3) In the Previous Blogpost (ITPB): March Madness Haiku Challenge, Heat, Dolphins, Canes. 4) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.
Haiku Challenge announcement delayed (yet again): We'll name the winner Friday -- I promise! Have been working on having an expert guest judge; still trying. Finalists are OC Dolphin, Sean Millerick, Big Baby, Russell, Andrew, Redsky, I Am Kazaam, Ferrari and Brian.
THE TEAM THAT CANNOT LOSE! HEAT WIN 24TH STRAIGHT AFTER TRAILING BY 27: This is getting to be a bit unbelievable. Miami trails by 27 last night at Cleveland, mid-third quarter. Streak ending, right? Um ... no. Insane rally for a 98-95 win and a 24th straight triumph. And LeBron of course leading the way. (Or by now does that go without saying?) Prior to this latest win the Heat still were not a good bet to reach 34 and break the Lakers' 1971-72 NBA record. The odds, via Bovada, were 6-1. Over/under on the streak ending was 29 games. Odds to win out -- not lose again in the regular season with 16 (now 15) games left -- was 10-1. However, Miami was a prohibitive, near-even favorite to win a second straight NBA title, at 11-10. All those numbers will skew a shade better for the Heat after tonight. [Note: We missed our Heat Big 5@65 games feature. Sorry. The interval flew right past us. We'll pick it back up at 70 games.].
Jerry West likes Heat's shot at Lakers record: The iconic former Laker said today he thinks Miami has an "incredible chance" to break the Lakers' 1971-72 NBA record of 33 straight wins. Everyone's hedge: The March 31 game at San Antonio.
MY NCAA BRACKET (INTERESTING TO NO ONE BUT ME, AND BARELY THEN): I have Indiana beating Louisville in championship game. I have Miami reaching Elite Eight before losing to Hoosiers. My first-round upset picks (based solely on seeds) are: Missouri over Colorado State; Cincinnati over Creighton; Minnesota over UCLA; and Oklahoma over San Diego State. Next-round upsets picks are: Oklahoma State over St. Louis; Memphis over Michigan State; Arizona over New Mexico; and Butler over Marquette. My upset picks beyond that are: Michigan over Kansas; Florida over Georgetown; Ohio State over Gonzaga; and Michigan over Florida.
CANES MOST BET-ON TEAM IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: From Bovada sports book manager Kevin Bradley today: "Miami have seen the most volume of money so far, dropping them from 14-1 [championship odds] to 12-1." Hurrricanes are a 5-9 lock to reach the Sweet 16; Florida Gators are 1-3.
"DEAR GREG...": "...your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of a cat sculpted entirely of the cream filling from Oreo cookies. Thank you." Dear Reader, will try but cannot imagine any artist actually works in such a medium."
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Radio Tuesday!: Tuesday means I'm back in-studio today with Le Batard and Stugotz on 790 The Ticket/FM 104.3 starting at 3. Ears welcome.
[1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26. Happy 85th birthday to New Orleans legend Fats Domino (pictured). Chubby Checker tried to borrow his name and sound but there was and is only one Fats. Click HERE for his unmistakable signature song. 2) Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 but Danica Patrick won much respect with her eighth-place finish off the pole position. She is a huge shot in the arm for NASCAR. 3) Speaking of women, I think I could beat up Ronda Rousey. Not really. I just like to annoy UFC fans. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On LeBron James maybe leaving next year, Canes lose, kvetching Perfectos, Marlins' young talent. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
"I'm a little worried about my weight. You know how Life of Pi was a big Oscar winner? I'll be starring in Life of Pie." -- Greg Cote
JEFFREY LORIA'S STUNNING LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS. (OR COULD IT BE THAT HE JUST DOESN'T GIVE A S--- WHAT FANS THINK?): On behalf of the newspaper industry I'd like to thank Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria for Sunday's full-page "Letter To Our Fans" ad that ran on page 21A of
The Miami Herald and also in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post. We all can use the revenue. As for the content of the letter? That was combative, found Loria blaming everyone but himself for his abysmal public image, and left most fans I've talked to or heard from just shaking their heads. Loria just doesn't get it. "Something needed to be done," he writes. OK, but did that mean gutting the roster? Did that mean paring the payroll back to embarrassing meagerness? "Acquiring high-profile players just didn't work," he writes. Because you didn't acquire the right ones, perhaps. So go out and get better ones, don't scrap the entire higher-payroll philosophy after one stinkin' year. That higher payroll, by the way, was an assurance Loria made in order to get that new ballpark built. It was a public trust he has broken. It was something unaddressed in that self-serving open letter. It was not unaddressed last evening when I and other media meet with Loria for the first time in months. Take our poll, and see more on last night's Loria meeting just below the poll.
LORIA AT THE DIAMOND CLUB: THE OUTTAKES: Jeffrey Loria, club president David Samson and a few other Marlins officials met with a select group of media including myself last evening at Marlins Park. Click on Owner In Denial for my latest column, filed following that meeting. Included is Loria's reaction to the poll results directly above. Here are some outtakes from the Loria-Samson meeting, things that
wouldn't fit or didn't belong in the column: 1. I asked Samson directly if it wasn't accurate that the stadium was built on the promise of higher payrolls. He called that "accurate with an asterisk," saying, "We miscalculated" the revenue. 2. Samson said paid attendance was 2.2 million in year one of the new park but that the actual turnstile count was 1.4 million. 3. Samson said
the tone of Loria 's open letter, perceived as combative, was partly a reaction to the "constant personal pounding" his boss has taken. 4. Samson on Giancarlo Stanton's future: "It takes two people to sign a long-term deal." In other words, no amount of money will keep Stanton if he wants out. 5. Loria and Stanton were in Europe at the same time recently and the owner invited the player to dinner at the Eiffel Tower and said they had a wonderful time. I think it might take the Eiffel Tower to re-sign Stanton. 6. Loria's new PR
firm happens to be called Jeffrey Group, named after its founder, not Loria. The firm specializes in Latin America and U.S. Hispanics, an indication of markets the Marlins want to hit hard. 7. Loria labeled as a "smear campaign" the Dolphins' effort to win public funding for stadium improvements by putting the Marlins' ballpark deal in an unfavorable light. 8. Loria said Jose Reyes was "inaccurate" in saying Loria advised him
to buy a home in Miami two days before he was traded. 9. Loria: "It's not a fire sale. It's called hit the restart button." 10. Finally, apropos of nothing, the fastidious Samson selects what to wear from a prearranged order of clothes. Monday evening his socks were a pinkish red. "Maybe fuscia," he said. I'm not sure Samson is a great club president. But he is an interesting person.
HEAT HITTING REPEAT-LEVEL STRIDE: Miami ran its victory streak to a season-best 11 games Sunday and
Dwyane Wade lately is looking like the pre-LeBron dominator he was. We assume LeBron's nightly MVP-caliber output, but Wade showing he can still reach those elite levels is nourishing news. National media continue to harp on Heat's lack of size and insufficient rebounding, but I see a confident, championship team priming itself for a repeat run.
Poll result: Support for LeBron even if he left next year: I wrote an unpopular column on the likelihood from my view that LeBron James will return to Cleveland after next season, with a companion blog poll. I asked how you'd feel if that happened and 38.5 percent said they'd be positive and not begrudge him, vs. only 17.4% who said they'd see him as turning his back on the Heat. Another 25.7% said mixed feelings or didn't want to think about it yet, and 18.4% said the answer was to be determined by results this season and next.
HURRICANES FOOTBALL, MEN'S BASKETBALL:Football: UM completes its 2013 schedule. The seven home games are Aug. 30--FAU; Sep. 7--Florida; Sep. 21--Savannah State; Oct. 5--Georgia Tech; Oct. 26--Wake Forest; Nov. 9--Virginia Tech; and Nov. 23--Virginia. The five road games are Sep. 28--USF; Oct. 17--North Carolina; Nov. 2--FSU; Nov. 16--Duke; and Nov. 29--Pittsburgh. Men's basketball: Canes fall in polls: Miami dips from No. 2 to No. 5 in the latests Associated Press poll. The drop is to 7 in the USA Today coaches' poll and to 8 in the ESPN.com Power Rankings, all following the weekend loss at Wake Forest. The AP drop is pretty modest, and that's still the Big Daddy poll.
"WHO ARE YOU WEARING!?": This one question, asked of an actress on a red carpet, embodies much of what the rest of the world both envies and hates about America. The excess and ostentatiousness. The celebrity-worship so absurdly out of control there actually might be avid interest in what designer made Janie Pretend's gown. What a hoot! That's what made last night's Oscars so much fun. Hollywood needsa big female superstar who won't play along, who when asked "Who are you wearing" answers "Target" and then rails against the question. Found it intersting that Argo won Best Picture. Just saw it. Liked it. Didn't love it, or think it was transcendental in the way you hope Oscar champs might be. Quick aside for my right-leaning readers always needling me about my (apparent) left-leaning tendencies: the late video intrusion of First Lady Michelle Obama was spectacularly unnecessary and quite ridiculous.
LATEST AWFUL IDEA FOR TV SHOW: CELEBRITY DIVING!: God I wish I were kidding, but ABC in March
will premiere Splash, a new reality show in which ex-Olympian Greg Louganis (pictured) judges 10 celebrity divers. (No, seriously!) The show has a screwball chance because half of the contestants will be curvy young women in swimsuits, including Miss Alabama Katherine Webb. (At least we know Brent Musberger will be watching). Divers also will include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- Huh? Whu!? -- Ndamukong Suh and Louie Anderson. Counting on the latter two for cannonballs.
"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of Jim Carrey wearing giant prosthetic feet to Elton John's Oscars party. Thank you." Hmm. No promises, but let me see what I can do.
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