December 13, 2014

Will Johnny Manziel's career fly or fail? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/NFL Week 15 predix, Marlins' big week, 'The U Part 2' & more

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13. No choice. Guess I'd better start my Christmas shopping. 2) Watch for return this week (after a two-week hiatus) of the Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): "Back In My Day" -- the complete audio library, Marlins trade, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Philbin verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

THE MYSTERY OF MANZIEL: WILL HE LIVE UP TO HYPE?: In Cleveland, Johnny Manziel was to Brian Hoyer as Jim Harbaugh is to Joe Philbin in Miami. Possibility is so often so much more tantalizing than 1aa1ajmanzielreality. Change is exciting without ever knowing whether the excitement will be justified. With Manizel the uncertainty is part of the excitement. He isn’t seen as a certain star like Andrew Luck was. To doubters, he’s the next Tim Tebow, the college phenom whose talents don’t translate. To fans, he’s the next great pass/run dual threat, the refreshingly brash personality whose jersey sales will soar to No.1 on the charts. He was a Heisman-winning superstar at Texas A&M. Now, will he justify all the hype, or be crushed by it? The finding out will be fun, and it begins with his first career start on Sunday. But why wait? Take a dip in our poll and say now what you predict for Manziel's NFL career and why.

1aa1afripixDOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 15 PICKS: THE DAGGER: Dolphins will lose Sunday in New England and it will be the dagger to Miami's playoff hopes. Not wishing it, folks, just predicting it. Don't kill the messenger! Click on Week 15 Gems for all our latest NFL prediction capsules. (Mixed start Thursday start. Wrongly had Rams winning, but did have Cards covering). Also, click on Hype, Meet Reality for my weekly Friday Page column. It leads with the formal introduction to the pro version of Johnny Football.

1aa1amatlatosA WINNING OFFSEASON FOR MARLINS: It started with signing Giancarlo Stanton long-term, of course. But it continued this week with deals to acquire leadoff man/base-stealing champ Dee Gordon and then, yesterday, starting pitcher Mat Latos (pictured). Mat With One T, from Coconut Creek High in north Broward, is a big boy with a top-of-the-rotation arm. If pitcher Dan Haren (part of the Gordon deal) opts to not retire, that'll be a bonus. Gordon and Latos alone give Miami needed speed and a bolstered rotation. Good week. Things looking up for the Fish. By the way [Brag Alert], my oldest son Christopher got a hit off Latos in a high-school game. I think it was a soft single to right, although my mind is reconfiguring it as a line drive to the gap.

ON 'THE U PART 2': I am reading "Rickey & Robinson," by Roger Kahn, the story of Branch Rickey integrating baseball by making Jackie Robinson a Dodger. It is holding my interest, and yet the story is so 1aa1atheupart2well-known and oft-told it can't but feel a little like a rehash. I think it's also fair to say Kahn has made a career of plumbing those old Brooklyn Dodgers for books, to the point you want to say, "Enough, already." This brings me to "The U Part 2," the Billy Corben sequel-documentary premiering on ESPN tonight at 9 p.m. The nearly perfect original, in 2009, focused on the mid-'80s to early-'90s football Hurricanes, the teams that invented swagger. They were big and bad and great and controversial and it was fascinating. There was national interest. Now, I wonder. Although the program resurged to win another national title in 2001, The U we see in the new doc simply is not as interesting or nationally relevant. A large chunk of the sequel is devoted to the Nevin Shapiro/NCAA scandal, an era well-known and best moved past, not exhumed and rehashed. Before agreeing, ESPN reportedly twice declined the pitch for this sequel. I get that original hesitation. Corben does good work and Part 2 will be riveting to many younger Canes fans (as the Miami unveiling was to swooning local media). But the sequel simply can't be as compelling as the original beyond South Florida because the subject matter plainly isn't.

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July 31, 2014

Miami Big 5 next-champion poll too close to call, voting extended to midnight; plus Marlins, Riley, Dolphins, Sharknado & more

1) It is SATURDAY, AUGUST 2. Happy new month all! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miracle Marlins, Micky Arison's open letter, Canes odds, Tannehill-support results, naked TV & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

LeBron saga gets stranger: Three weeks later, LeBron James' departure from the Heat occupies a murky space in the gray between amicable parting and bitter divorce. I explore in my latest column. Click on Bad Blood Wrapped In Civility to read.

New NFL, Dolphins odds: New pre-preseason odds from Bovada show Broncos the Super Bowl fave at 13-2, followed by Seahawks 7-1, 49ers 15-2, Patriots 8-1 and Packers 10-1. Dolphins tied for 23rd at 66-1.

THE MIAMI TEAM BEST-POSITIONED TO NEXT BE CHAMPION IS...: This poll question -- and voting is extended through midnight tonight/Saturday because it's too close to call -- wouldn't be here if
LeBron James hadn't left Miami. What would have been the point? The answer would have been 1aa1abig5foregone. Heat, obviously. Now, not so much. 1aa1anextchampNow the playing field for this question has leveled. I could make an honest argument that any one of our Big 5 South Florida teams -- Dolphins, Heat, Hurricanes football, Marlins or Panthers -- is best-positioned and most likely to win our next championship. That is what makes picking just one tough, but that's your challenge here. Your other challenge is to not make it a favorite-team vote. It isn't. Not asking who you most hope has a parade next, but who you honestly think is most likely to. Who your money would be on in an even-odds wager. Vote and say why.

MARLINS SCREWED BY REPLAY REVERSAL: I'm not a kill-the-ump/blame-the-ref guy. Pinning your 1aa1amredteam's loss on the officiating almost always comes off as lame, an excuse. But not Thursday night. The Marlins got screwed when a blown decision by an MLB replay crew in New York turned a 1-0 Marlins lead into a 3-1 loss to the Reds. An inning-ending throw to the plate by Giancarlo Stanton that nailed the runner easily was wrongly overturned based on the new 7.13 rule preventing catchers from blocking the plate -- even though the rule should not have applied in this case based on when and where the catcher possessed the ball. The Marlins including manager Mike Redmond (shown protesting) were livid, and justifiably. MLB responded yesterday with a statement backing up the role reversal, but admitted the application of the new rule will be reviewed, and that last night's 6-minute review was far too long. Will the screw-job lead to a tailspin? Marlins lost again last night.

Marlins trade for starting pitcher: Fish beat this week's MLB trade deadline with a six-player swap 1aa1acosartwith Houston, acquiring righty starter Jarred Cosart, 24, who is 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA; utilityman Kike' Hernandez, 22; and outfielder Austin Wates, 25. Cosart (pictured) will join the rotation and should help right away. Traded away in the deal: OF Jake Marisnick, IF Colin Moran, RHP Francis Martes and a draft pick. Cosart must become a productive fixture in the rotation beyond this season for this deal to feel good, because chances are either Moran or Marisnick will turn into a very good player.

ON PAT RILEY'S RESTRAINT: We media adore Heat prez Pat Riley because he is effusive, eloquent, candid -- everything you want in a good quote interview. So there was great potential this week when Riles agreed 1aa1aprileyto a conference call with reporters. Then there was a letdown. We thought Riley wouldn't be able to resist veering off the high-road just a bit for a few pointed jabs at LeBron James, but he didn't. "We were shocked, but we recovered," he said. "We are going to build another championship team and that’s it." Riley said he plans to still be around in 2016 when the Heat will have much salary-cap flexibility for a bounty of free agents that will include Kevin Durant. "It has fired me up," he said. "We are going to try to make it another generational team. That’s my objective." On this coming season: "We feel very good. I feel we are going to be as competitive as anybody in the Eastern Conference." Riley never gives a bad interview, but this one was mild. It was like a deposition with the good stuff redacted. He could have made national news with the the hint of a LeBron rift the sound bite and headline. To the media's disappointment but his credit, Riley did not.

SHARKNADO NATION: If I have to explain the Sharknado phenomenon, you fail Pop Culture 101. 1aa1asharknadoSharknado 2, sequel to the made-for-TV disaster B-film, premiered on the SyFy channel this week. Proudly, I did not see it. Sharks eminating from tornadoes! Need I say more? In the sequel, the flying sharks attack New York City. (As if living in NYC wasn't dangerous enough, right?) The Sharknado vehicle is preposterous high camp owing to ancestors like Mothra, the giant moth that terrorized Tokyo in 1961. I am officially predicting a Sharknado vs. Mothra sequel, with a cameo by Godzilla as a Jimmy Carter-esque mediator who fails to ameliorate the mayhem.     

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April 08, 2014

Tue pm 4-8: Who'll be first QB taken in NFL Draft? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat tries to cut down Nets, Bob Coy, Mickey Rooney & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan Le Batard Show for my 18th national appearance. Airs 3-7 p.m. on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with a week of heaven for basketball junkies. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UConn beats Kentucky, Zo talks Hall, Heat Drama Week, Ryan Williams injury & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

Betting odds for Tiger-less Masters: It's Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott co-faves at 10-1, then Phil Mickelson 12-1, Jason Day 14-1, Matt Kuchar 18-1 and Sergio Garcia 20-1. 

1aa1adraft14ONE MONTH FROM NFL DRAFT, WHICH QB GOES FIRST?: The first round of the NFL Draft is May 8, so let's start the one-month countdown with a poll 1aa1abig3qbquestion. Normally this would be Dolphins-related, like, what's the greatest need, but this year offensive line is such a no-brainer answer it's pointless to ask. The most interesting draft question, for me, is which of three 1R-stamped quarterbacks will be taken first, and when. Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater are pictured, left to right. There is great variance in the many mock drafts I've perused. Most but not all mocks have all three guys going in the top 10, and each has support as the likely first QB taken. What do you think? Take a dip in our poll (listing is alphabetical) and say why.

CUTTING DOWN THE (BROOKLYN) NETS: UConn just cut down the nets. Tonight it's the Heat's turn to cut 1aa1aheatnetsdown the Nets. Beating the Knicks Sunday got Miami's Drama Week off to a strong start, but this is a greater challenge. Brooklyn has been quite good (32-13) this calendar year, and is 3-0 this season against Miami. This also serves a preview of a possible-dare-say-likely second round playoff matchup. (Miami's supposed waltz into the Eastern finals may be tougher than many think). You know LeBron James and the Heat will bring their A-game tonight; question is whether they'll have their A-team available, especially Dwyane Wade, who could miss a seventh straight game with hamstring issues. I write about Wade's hobbled season in today's latest column; click Counting On Wade to read.

CUTTING DOWN THE (NCAA) NETS: I was happy last night the One & Done Kentucky Wildcats got their comeuppance and that the Won & Done UConn Huskies snipped nets after a 60-54 win. John Calipari runs an NBA factory, while Connecticut holds truer to what college sports are supposed to be about. Having said that, it was only a year ago that UConn was closer to You-Con, banned from the postseason for academic reasons. So it wasn't exactly a feel-good final. There was not a truly great team in it, and neither was there a classic Cinderella. Seventh-seed UConn was the highest seed to win it all since No. 8 Villanova in 1985, but both UConn and Kentucky had too much program pedigree to be true Cindys. Bottom line, the right result: Team 1, Individuals 0.

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R.I.P., MICKEY ROONEY:
Famed child star and entertainment legend Mickey Rooney passed away this week at 93, and here is a photo of Rooney taken on March 30, one week before he died. Rooney, seated, is flanked by fellow entertainment icons Dick Van Patten and Mel Brooks, at Santa Anita Park, the Los Angeles-area racetrack Rooney frequented. The picture is copyrighted by and courtesy of Benoit Photo.

ON BOB COY AND THE 'MEGACHURCH': Pastor Bob Coy (pictured) has resigned in disgrace from Fort Lauderdale's 1aa1abobcoyCalvary Chapel, a 20,000-member "megachurch," over a "moral failing" reported to include extramarital affairs. This reminds us that men of the clergy can be just as ethically bankrupt as the rest of us, and that anybody can throw on a robe and claim to speak for God. What interests me more about this story is the revelation that Calvary Chapel's assets are said to be around $135 million. Hmm. For me, the very idea of the "megachurch," the profiteering big business of of it, does more harm to the idea of religion than the occasional rogue infidel pastor. Of course, I may be wrong.

Poll result: You had NCAA final a razor's edge for Kentucky: We asked who'd win the NCAA Tournament men's championship and rarely have we had a closer blogpoll. It was 50.63 percent for Kentucky, 49.37% for Connecticut.

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March 03, 2014

Mon pm 3-3: Will Tiger Woods still break Jack's record? Poll. Vote!; plus James is King but Danny's still Miamarino, Kim Novak, Riley speaks & more

1) It is MONDAY, MARCH 3. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Miami's Mad March. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron vs. Marino poll, Tiger's withdrawal, Dolphins trade rumors, Richie's rehab, lovely mugshot & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Dolphins re-sign Grimes, send Fields overseas: Team came to terms to keep cornerback Brent Grimes today, not surprising but important because along with Cam Wake he's the steadiest hand on defense. Keeping Grimes the first win for new GM Dennis Hickey. Also today, Fins announced punter Brandon Fields would be one of three NFL players on a USO trip visiting troops in Middle East, along with 'Skins' Pierre Garcon and Saints' Jimmy Graham.

CHASING HISTORY, CHASING JACK: CAN TIGER DO IT?: Tiger Woods is the world's No. 1-ranked golfer again and coming off a big year. As I write in this column off yesterday's final round of the Honda 1aa1atigerjackClassic, Tiger is -- win, lose or withdraw -- stil the biggest thing on the PGA Tour. Which is why the back spasms that caused his withdrawal yesterday and make him questionable for the WGC event at Doral this week is such a big deal. Woods chases history as everyone else chases him. His majors total has been stuck at 14 still 2008. Five years ago it seemed certain he would surpass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors. Now, Tiger is 38 and the odds seem against him, although his continued high level of play and fierce drive make him tough to bet against. Nicklaus, it should be noted, won four majors when older than Tiger is right now, including his last at age 46. So, will Woods do it? This isn't asking whether you hope he will, but whether you think he will. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

KIM NOVAK'S FACE FRIGHTENS OSCARS, MILLIONS OF VIEWERS: My Oscars review: Gravity cleaned up even though the biggest awards went to 12 Years A Slave (picture), Matthew McConaughey from Dallas 1aa1aknovakBuyers Club (actor) and Cate Blanchett from Blue Jasmine (actress). Host Ellen DeGeneres was good-not-great. But the night's memorable moment for me was the gruesomely startling appearance of actress Kim Novak, 81. As visual evidence here indicates, Kim is an old woman still in the desperate throes of trying to appear, what, 40? I believe this may be possible, from a distance of approximately 100 yards. I wish people like this -- the plastic-surgery/collagen/Botox crowd -- would explain their intent. Does Novak think this is a good look? Does she have no friends or loved ones to be truthful with her? I mean, a 600-pound man can wear vertical stripes because they're thinning, but he's still a 600-pound man.

MARINO EDGES LEBRON FOR MIAMI MOUNTAINTOP: We asked in the last blogpost in what we called the ultimate Miami sports poll, you responded, and 50.4 percent of you said Dan Marino is still our greatest all- 1aa1adannytime athlete. LeBron James drew 45.8% and the other 3.8% voted "someone else." (C'mon, people. Who else!) I respect the vote. I personally think LeBron has now surpassed Marino. James has accomplished more in his career and is a bigger national star than Marino ever was. But I also understand that Marino spent a long career here exclusively and we've only had James four seasons. Guessing James almost certanly would win this poll if he re-signs and does what's doing a while longer. For now, though, the lasting aura of Marino proves resilient to even the King's challenge.

PAT RILEY SPEAKS!: The Heat's 17th annual Family Festival on Sunday found club president Pat Riley -- pictured right rockin' the Sonny Bono look in his flower-power-era incarnation -- unsually chatty. Some nuggets: On his own 1aa1arileshappiness--"Six years ago when I was coaching I'd wake up at 5 a.m. and it was dark and I was depressed. Not anymore." On his team--"They are so fun to watch. They're on a mission. You've just got to keep in mind, we've got a long way to go. Everybody thinks it's right around the corner [but] a lot of stuff can happen. Stay on track with the defense and the rebounding and I think we'll be OK." On Greg Oden--"I root for him more than I ever rooted for anybody. I knock on wood and cross my fingers every day he stays healthy." On LeBron James--"He wants to win and that's all it's about. All the other stuff that's flying around like butterflies, they're just things. And he deals with it as well as anybody. I'm so proud of him and Chris [Bosh] and Dwyane [Wade], that they're able to subjugate. Look what it's brought them. And it can only get better." On Wade--"He's like a son to me."

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February 07, 2014

The Olympics poll. Last day to vote!; plus Dolphins' draft, Marlins projection, Angela Means, approval for Beckham/MLS & more

1aa1ameoly1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8. Click on RANDOM EVIDENCE for today's latest Sunday notes-column, package, leading with the Winter Olympics. 2) U.S. contingent (right) during the Opening Ceremonies. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Confessions of a soccer fan: David Beckham/MLS and soccer-in-Miami poll, Chad 'n Brad lead UM recruiting class & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

"Heat lose at Utah. Mass though half-hearted panic sweeps Miami!" --Greg Cote

1aa1beatlesThe Beatles: Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' groundbreaking appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. I'll offer a new blogpost Monday that will include a retrospective on what the Beatles meant to me, and why.

DELIVER YOUR VERDICT ON OLYMPICS IN GENERAL AS SOCHI GAMES BEGIN: The Winter Games in Sochi commenced officially with Opening Ceremonies including the parade of nations featuring a record 230-athlete U.S. 1aa1aolyscontingent, and now competition is fully underway. I'll admit to being a flag-waving jingoist, which probably drives my interest in the Olympics. Winter or summer, once every
1aa1aolyssochifour years I look forward to watching sports I'd otherwise have zero interest in -- bobsled! -- simply to cheer America vs. the world. But that's just me. You? Not asking here about Russia hosting these Games. This isn't a vote on Vladimir Putin. This is simply asking whether or not you're into the Olympics in general. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

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DRAFTNIKS SAY DOLPHINS WILL DRAFT NOTRE DAME TACKLE:
Dueling ESPN draftniks Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay don't agree on much, including who'll go No. 1 overall to Houston in May's NFL Draft. Kiper says QB Johnny Manziel; McShay says DE Jadevon Clowney. But the warring nerds do agree in their latest mock drafts that that, Miami, at No. 19, will select Notre Dame OT Zack Martin (pictured). Seems logical. He's 6-4 and 308, it's a position of desperate need, and he's said to be pro-ready.

1aa1angelameansNEW CANES QB IS SON OF '90S ACTRESS: New Hurricanes QB recruit Brad Kaaya is the son of a minor 1990s actress, Angela Means, whose most notable roles (according to movie website IMDb) were in House Party 3 (1994), Friday (1995) and Cousin Skeeter (1998). It is not believed any of those performances resulted in an OScar, but we're still checking.   

Poll result: Soccer polarizes, but solid support for Beckham/MLS team here: A reminder that soccer tends to be a love it-or-hate it proposition. We asked in the last blogpost (you may still vote) about your interest in David Beckham bringing a Major League Soccer team to Miami, and 46.9 percent said "very excited" but 33.8% said "not interested." The other 19.3% said "somewhat intrigued."

MARLINS: "WE'RE NO. 25!": Spring training is around the corner, and that means it's time to start wondering if the Marlins will be really bad again or movin' on up to mediocre. ESPN in its pre-spring rankings slots Miami 25th of 30 teams and projects a 73-89 record, but calls the Marlins a "deep sleeper" that could potentially win 85 and sneak into ther wild-card hunt.

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October 16, 2013

Are the Dolphins a playoff team? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat/NBA over-unders, Doctor Sleep, texting at the movies, Stick-Figure Family backlash & more

1aa1bossIt is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17. I'm back in the Friday Page Dungeon today trying to survive this week's NFL picks. If you hear screaming call 9-1-1. 2) Yesterday was "National Boss Day," a contrivance to which underlings everywhere might mutter, "Isn't every day?" My Boss is pictured. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, LeBron revealed, happy anniversary Steve Bartman, exhilaration and disgust, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Canes-North Carolina: Watch for a new, separate blogpost on tonight's Miami Hurricanes-North Carolina game around late afternoon today.

Heat seen as NBA victories leader: Predicatbly, new betting over/unders from Bovada for NBA regular-season victories have Heat on top at 61.5. Followers are Clippers 57, Bulls 56.5, Spurs 55.5 and Rockets/Pacers both 54.5. Caboose is 76ers at 17.

ARE THESE DOLPHINS A PLAYOFF TEAM?: I know. It's a bit early for this. But Miami has so seldom been 1aa1dolposin the NFL playoff picture the past dozen or so years that just being in the conversation is worth chewing on, even pre-Halloween. Besides, the bye week is a pause that invites reflection. The Dolphins at 3-2 entering Sunday's game here vs. Buffalo would hold the sixth and final AFC playoff spot (the second wild-card) if the postseason started now. But five teams are 3-3 and three others have two wins, so the competition down the stretch will be fierce. Betting odds right now (Bovada) are that Miami will not make the playoffs. What do you think? I remind Dolfans who are voting (probably the majority) that this isn't asking what you hope happens but rather what your gut honestly feels will happen. Pull the lever with mind not heart, if you are able. Vote and say why, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

1aa1drsleepDOCTOR SLEEP: Just finished reading Stephen King's latest, Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining. (Not a prequel, as I'd caresslessly called it originally). I'll offer no plot hint except this: I'll never again pass a Winnebago on the Interstate without a glance at the driver. This book is far from my favorite of his, but I flew through the 500-plus pages fast and would recommend it. Then again I'm one of King's Constant Readers. He suffers critically from his popularity, but I'm proud to call him my favorite novelist (not counting Pete Dexter, who, opposite of King's prolificness, doesn't write nearly enough to suit me).

MULTI-TASKING IN MOVIE THEATERS: Movie theaters -- dying like newspapers and hand-written letters -- 1aa1cellmovieneed life breathed into them, but the idea that has caught my eye seems counterintuitive to say the least. A San Francisco venture capitalist named Hunter Walk suggests designated rooms or seating sections that allow (and thus tacitly encourage) texting, Tweeting and web-surfing during the film. At least two chains, Regal and IMAX, think it might be a good idea. Hmm. Remember when you went to the movies to escape the sort of reality embodied by cell phones? Dear Fellow Human: If you cannot leave your smartphone alone for 103 minutes, you may have Attention Deficit Disorder. Seriously.

1aa1figstickSTICK-FIGURE FAMILIES: We've all seen the stick-figure-family decals on the rear windows of cars and (most often, it seems) SUVs. They in turn have spawned response decals such as the one pictured -- and some more crude than this. It's in the same vein as the bumper sticker that reads, "My Kid Can Beat Up Your Honor Student." Response decals are not new. Remember when 'Baby On Board' begat 'Mother-in-Law In Trunk'? But the new wave reflected in the one pictured seem a bit coarse; no, mean-spirited. What's next? A bumper sticker that reads, "You Love Your Schnauzer? I'd Love to Eat Your Schnauzer with Fava Beans."  Or how about a reponse to those R.I.P. in-memorium stickers that reads, "I Don't Give a Crap That Your Loved One Died." C'mon, people! We turn a dark corner as a society when being mean is such a point of pride that we have it on a rolling billboard. Be nice!

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July 10, 2013

Draw line on 'roids & Cooperstown. Poll. Vote!; plus Sedano leaving WQAM, Wade's ex-wife, LeBron raps, Birdman the movie, Farewell to "The" & more

Cote radio doubleheader: Am back in-studio with Le Batard again today starting at 3 p.m. on 790 the Ticket and FM 104.3. Ears welcome.

1) It is FRIDAY, JULY 12. Jorge Sedano is leaving WQAM for ESPN, according to my colleague Barry Jackson. The Worldwide Leader is making a big reach to Hispanic listeners. That doesn't mean it's why he is being hired. But it fits and is unsurprising. 2) Dwyane Wade's ex-wife won't quit. She's back after Wade in a new lawsuit. Click here for the details. 3) Happy birthday to one of my musical heroes, @Mavis_Staples, who turned 74. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton cavorts nude, Dolphin calls out Pats, Bosh to India, 2 Canes honored, Shh to Silva and Shaq, Heat poll results, no-class Seahawks & more.

Join us on TWITTER @gregcote and INSTAGRAM @ upsetbird and VINE @ Greg Cote. Cost: Free. Return on investment: Commensurate with outlay.

Farewell to "The": The Miami Herald without ceremony has dropped the "The" from its name and is now officially simply Miami Herald. Farewell, The. I miss you already!

BASEBALL'S DIRTY DILEMMA: STEROIDS AND THE HALL OF FAME: The Home Run Derby and 84th All-Star Game are almost upon us, and what should be a wonderful time for baseball is decidedly not. The 1aa1bbhallroidsMiami-born Biogenesis scandal sees Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and four current All-Stars among 20 implicated players who could be suspended right after the break. Click on Baseball's Midsummer Nightmare for my latest column. Hall of fame voters so far have shown little inclination to forgive PED-tainted players and let them into Cooperstown's hallowed halls, rejecting otherwise-first-ballot guys such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, along with Mark McGwire and Samy Sosa -- all rebuffed earlier this year -- and many more. What if you had a Hall vote? You sort of do in the form of this poll. One option I have raised in the past (not found in the poll) is to induct the tainted guys whose numbers are too overwhelming to ignore, but with a scarlet S for steroids, with permanent mention of their scandal on their Hall plauque. OK, now you draw your own line. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

LEBRON JAMES TRIES RAPPING: On his Instagram account last night Heat star LeBron James posted 1aa1kingjtwo brief audio clips of him rapping, intro-ing himself as "the kid King James." It totals roughly a half-minute of sound that includes maybe half of that of him in acceptable mid-flow. Click HERE to listen. I am told it was recorded when he and some close friends were in Las Vegas on a recent bro-holiday. The idea of LeBron immersing himself in hip-hop and loving an open mic is nothing new, or any surprise. Click here to watch a 2010 video of LBJ on stage with Drake. Whether this latest little foray is the precursor of a James rap album is unknown, but LeBron's close friendhsip with Jay-Z, Drake and others in the genre suggests something could blossom. Meantime, X@#! you, Lil Wayne!

HOLLYWOOD CONTINUES SHAMELESS USURPING OF HEAT NICKNAMES!: Like it wasn't bad enough there is a new movie called The Heat, the popular Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy buddy flick. Now, in 1aa1theheatmovieproduction, is a new movie called Birdman, a comedy that began filming this spring in New York City. The movie stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and the ubiquitous Zach Galifianakis -- but conspicuously not the Heat's newly re-signed Chris (Birdman) Andersen. Andersen and his nickname had just begun making inroads on the long headstart of Birdman 1aa1birdmancaof Alcatraz; now, this new challenger. Pictured left: Birdman Andersen, saying, "C'mon, man!" at the idea of a new movie called Birdman. The mind casts back a year to Adventures of Christopher Bosh in the Multiverse, the local short film that did not have Bosh's blessing. Where will the cinematic plundering of the NBA champions end!? Will actor Dwayne Johnson start spelling it "Dwyane"? How about a remake of the 1953 Western Shane, but not starring Battier? Enough, Hollywood. Enough.

1aa1heidiklumWHAT HEIDI KLUM DID ON HER VACATION: The former supermodel and Project Runway host recently vacationed in the Bahamas and Instagram'd this photo of her, um, tanline, with the caption, "Ouch!" We pass it along purely for educational purposes, as a reminder to always use sunscreen while tanning. As for a (mostly) sports blog showing this, well, ah, clearly this involved an outdoors activity, possibly beach volleyball. Yeah that's it!

JUSTIN BIEBER ENRAGES CHICAGO: An executive of the NHL champ Chicago Blackhawks made the 1aa1biebcuperror in judgement of Tweeting out this photo of pop star Justin Bieber posing with the hallowed Stanley Cup in the team's lockerroom. (Note the customized Bieber jersey in the background). Blackhawks' fans response has been swift, voluminous and full of rage. Three possible reasons: One, hockey is a very manly sport and Bieber, physically, looks as if he'd lose a slapfight to a female jockey. Two, Justin is a sports whore, by which I mean he poses as a fan of whatever city he's in, as when he wore a Heat cap during that playoff game here, that night he adopted the bling-n-whiteboy-thug persona and was booed when shown on the video screen. Three, if you don't love Bieber (an adoration confined mostly to adolescent girls who haven't defected to One Direction yet), then chances are you hate him.

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February 25, 2013

Do you wish Loria would sell Marlins? Tell him. Poll. Vote!; plus 10 behind-scenes outtakes from Loria-Samson meeting, Canes, Heat, Oscars & more

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.

1aa1fats[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 1aa1jefflThe 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 1aa1asteriskwouldn'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 1aa1eiffelthe 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 1aa1jeffreyfirm 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 1aa1fusciato 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 1aa1dwadeDwyane 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.

1aa1dresses"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 1aa1greglwill 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.

1aa1carrey"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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January 11, 2013

NFL playoffs: Final Four set! It's BAL-NE, ATL-SF in title games; plus Heat win a road game, Cats, UM, Tuna/Sapp, Bacon Bar, Oscars & more

1aa1crappily[1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 13. Welcome to the No. 1 Blog Community at MiamiHerald.com. Congratulations, and thank you! 2) Pictured right: The new TV season, starting tonight, to which I am most looking forward. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Cats on ice: Florida Panthers to open their truncated 48-game NHL season next Saturday the 19th at home vs. Carolina.

UM 2013 ACC football schedule: Home games vs. Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Roadies at Duke, Florida State, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

Sapp, Parcells make Hall cut: Ex-Cane Warren Sapp among four first-time eligibles to make cut to 15 finalists for Hall of Fame induction, with Michael Strahan, Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen. Ex-Dolphins exec Bill Parcells also still in it. So, too, briefly-a-Dolphin Cris Carter.  

1aa1fripixNFL PLAYOFF PREDIX: WILD SATURDAY; CAN SUNDAY LIVE UP?: OK, college season is done. Time for King Sport to rise up like the Loch Ness monster and take over 1aa1divpoAmerica. Round 2 of the NFL playoffs: The Final Eight. Borderline teams gone, only serious contenders left. Now the Final Six, with favored Denver and Green Bay put to bed yesterday. Our four picks for this weekend are synopsized here. I found the two AFC games easy calls, the two NFC games thornier. Click on NFL Playoff Round 2 Gems for the full picks. And click Looking Ahead is OK for my predix-page column on the delightful anticipation of the inevitable likely Denver-New England/Manning-Brady AFC title game. One word: Oops. The thumbnails, chronologically:

FINAL: RAVENS 38, BRONCOS 35 (2OT) -- I was right on the close game/tough fight for Denver and right on Manning tending to struggle in freezing temps. It was the collapse of Denver's defense that stunned me. Original post: Many fans and prognosticating brethren expect a rout by Denver. I don't. Peyton Manning's playoff record when the kickoff temp is below 40 -- 0-3, one TD, seven picks -- could make this interesting if Ray Lewis' D can get into his pocket at all. [My pick was: Broncos (-9), 27-21. My record: Week, 0-1 overall and 1-0 vs. spread. Playoffs, 4-1 and 1-4].

FINAL: 49ERS 45, PACKERS 31 -- I had it way wrong on the QB contrast. Colin Kaepernick's 263 yards throwing and 181 running, wow. I could not have underestimated him more. Original post: Upset. Heavyweight duel is teams' first playoff meeting since 2001. See why Niners are favored but give me Aaron Rodgers, one of the all-time great postseason passers, to out-pitch an inexperienced-on-this-stage Colin Kaepernick. [My pick was: Packers (+3), 28-27. My record: Week, 0-2 overall and 1-1 vs. spread. Playoffs, 4-2 and 1-5].

FINAL: FALCONS 30, SEAHAWKS 28 -- Insanity! Falcons blow 20-0 lead, fall behind late, and win on 49-yard FG in closing seconds. They were Chokelanta, but then Matt Ryan came through and the ATL is at san Fran in next week's NFC title game. Original post: Folks wring hands over the Falcs' 0-3 playoff mark under Mike Smith/Matt Ryan, but ATL is a very good home team (7-1). And wrap the mind around this: No West Coast team since the 1989 L.A. Rams has won two playoff games in a row in the East. [My pick was: Falcons (-2 1/2), 24-20. My record: Week, 1-2 overall and 1-2 vs spread. Playoffs, 5-2 and 1-6].

FINAL: PATRIOTS 41, TEXANS 28 -- In many ways the most expected of the four weekend results. There were 276 points in these four divisional games including 154 by the winners. Did somebody tell the defenses to stay home? Original post: For me this is the biggest certainty of the four games. Pats are 13-3 all-time at home in the postseason. Tom Brady, at The Razor Blade, in deep winter, is money. He just is. And Houston, especially Matt Schaub's offense, does not seem in synch. [My pick was: Patriots (-9 1/2), 34-20. My record: Week, 2-2 overall and 2-2 vs. spread. Playoffs, 6-2 and 2-6].

ROAD WORRIERS?: HEAT TURN WARRIORS LAST NIGHT: Update: Miami wins at Sacramento last night. Original post: The 92-90 loss at Portland Thursday hurt for two reasons. First, the Heat led all the way until allowing a late 24-10 Blazers run that collapsed the night for Miami. Second, you could see real effort from the Heat in terms of defense and rebounding (which was tied 45-45). Palpably, this was a game they wanted. Instead the road record slips to 7-8 including losses in four of the past five away. Another downer: LeBron James' mortal 15 points ended his streak of 20-plus points at 33 games, longest in the NBA since 1981-82. (Love ya anyway, 'Bron). It isn't time to panic. The No. 1 East seed still is likely. But in terms of repeating as champions? That bandwagon has plenty of good seats available.

1aa1baconGOBLETS OF BACON ON THE BAR!: Wife had a business dinner at Prime 112 on South Beach the other night, and noticed over pregame drinks that the bar offered up goblets of bacon as a gratis snack. Sort of like a bowl of nuts on steroids. See the photo for proof. I find this funny because a goblet 'o bacon sounds like something a barbecue joint would serve, or something the Clampetts would have on the table when Mr. Drysdale came for dinner. The opposite of chic, in other words. But because Prime 112 does it? Uber trendy! Forgot to ask my wife if the restaurant bar had a cardiologist standing by.

OSCAR BEST-PICTURE ANALYSIS: The upcoming 85th Academy Awards will select a Best Picture from among nine newly announced finalist films: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern 1aa1abelWild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty. I am canceling my analysis in protest because they should go back to five finalists; nine is way too many. Also, because I happened to not see any of the nine films mentioned. (I did see Ted, which recklessly was not nominated). Two of the nine films I may yet see -- Zero Dark Thirty, about the Bin Laden raid, and Lincoln, about the vampire hunter who went on to become 16th president -- therefore I hope those movies win everything.

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June 29, 2012

Spain reigns over Italy 4-0; plus Stanton leads hot-again Marlins, 'Dirty Secrets of NBA Champs!', Riley on Heat free agency, lacrosse, Olympic song & more

1aa1rslogo[1) It is Monday, July 21. New blogpost coming later this (Monday) morning! 2) We bring you the Rolling Stones' new 50th annivesary logo. I'd have thought the redesign might have had the tongue spitting out dentures. (Sorry, Mick). 3) InsideTheU.com reporting that Hurricanes safety Ray-Ray Armstrong has been suspended for discussions with a booster on Twitter. 4) Woman Super-Glued to Walmart Toilet. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

SUNDAY UPDATES: SPAIN REIGNS; MARLINS HOT AGAIN: Spain beats Italy yesterday 4-nil to win Euro '12. I said I'd be surprised if Spain didn't win but expected a better match for sure. Must admit I was rooting for Mario Balotelli and the u-dog Italians. (Sorry I had the final as 3-0 for a while. Stopped watching in the 86th minute; meant to recheck the final but forgot). ..... Congrats to Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton for his first all-star selection today, well deserved and the first many I have a feeling. (He'll be in the Home Run Derby, too). Stanton is Miami's only all-star and showed why another homer leading a fourth straight victory. The topsy turvy Marlins are suddenly topsy again!

'DIRTY SECRETS OF THE NBA CHAMPS!': Well I saw that headline in the Publix checkout line today and since the July 9 issue of the Globe called it a Special Report I had to waste spend $3.99 to find out what the dirty secrets are. 1) 'LeBron James' family shame': Old news about his mom Gloria's past run-ins with the law. 2) 'Dwyane Wade's boys in kidnapping drama': Rehash of the recent situation that led Wade to seek a revoking of his ex-wife's visitation rights. 3) 'Chris Bosh's Bitter Child Support War': In which the lawyer for the mother of Bosh's daughter claims his $2,600 in monthly child support isn't enough -- even though that is exactly what the courts ordered him to pay. Well, in summary, that's $3.99 I'll never get back, but I spent it so you don't have to. On the bright side, the Globe apparently failed in efforts to prove that any of the Heat's BIg 3 is, in fact, a space alien.

HEAT DRAFT TALL WHITE GUY JUSTIN HAMILTON: Interesting and arguably productive NBA Draft for the Heat last night. 1aa1justinhamiltonThey end up with LSU center Justin Hamilton (pictured) as the 45th overall selection, plus a future conditional first-round (but lottery-protected) pick from Philadelphia, in exchange for sending forward Arnett Moultrie (originally picked 27th by Miami) to the 76ers. (I called Justin "Josh" before noticing the mistake. Sorry!) Arguably productive? Naysaying ESPN.com grades Miami's draft an 'F' because it says Moultrie was a better fit and that Miami also could have drafted a shooter such as Jeff Taylor. Hamilton, 22, is one of those advertised-as 7-foot guys who's really 6-11 but possesses a silky, Bosh-esque shooting touch from the outside. He also has dual U.S./Croatia citizenship, so you can expect the Heat will likely farm him out to develop overseas for a year or two. There was speculation Miami would go small-ball in the draft but they needed size, frontcourt help, so this looks like a prudent choice. That future No. 1 will be a nice bonus, too. Miami had no pressing needs that could be answered with a 27th pick, so call this trade-down for a developmental player the luxury of a champion.

PAT RILEY PREVIEWS FREE AGENCY: It starts Sunday and the Heat don't have the spending power 1aa1prileyavailable to be major players but would like to add an available shooter -- anybody got a number for Ray Allen? -- if he'd take less than he could get elsewhere. Miami's selling point? "Not many teams have a chance of winning a title," as club president Pat Riley (right) noted late last night in post-draft remarks. Riles said the club has "five or six guys earmarked" in free agency with the positional priority a shooter or a big. "We've got a compelling team," said Riley of his champions, "and it excites me to try to make it better."

LORIA: MARLINS STILL "ABSOLUTELY" HAVE PLAYOFF TALENT: Spoke to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria 1aa1jloriayesterday for today's latest column. Click on "I Love Our Chances" to read it. At midseason of Year 1 in the new ballpark, much has been disappointing, from Muhammad Ali/Opening Night to Ozzie Guillen/Fidel Castro to the June swoon to less-than-expected attendance. But now, with the Heat done and football a ways off, this is the Marlins' window of opportunity. The stage is theirs. Do they have a big second-half and playoff run in them? The owner thinks so. Do you?

Poll result: Yearning for Dolphins Super Bowl beats Heat repeat: In the previous blogpost I asked which Miami prefers: The Dolphins to win the Super Bowl this coming season or the Heat to repeat as NBA champions next year. The winner? An end to the Dolphins' 40-year title drought, 63.6 percent to 36.4. The results sound reasonable to me.

PRO LACROSSE TO SOUTH FLORIDA?: Major League Lacrosse stages its all-star game in Boca Raton Saturday night at the FAU football stadium, testing waters for possible future expansion here. So there. 

LONDON OLYMPICS PICKS OFFICIAL SONG: It is "Survival" by the English rock group Muse. Click on Survival to hear it. (You'll be sick of it by the Closing Ceremony). Sounds like a dirge for about the first minute but then gets all peppy, with lyrics about winning and never quitting -- imagine that!? I think bands now write songs expressly to be played at sporting events.

1aa1usflNEW USFL THREATENS 2013 LAUNCH: A new United States Football league is planning a March 2013 startup with eight teams, and initial cities being explored are Akron, Austin/San Antonio, Portland (Ore.) and Salt Lake City. Here is the new logo. You will next see it when the league announces it cannot possibly whip togerther an eight-team league in less than a year and is delaying its launch. You will then see the logo a final time when the USFL announces it is folding before ever playing a game.

WOO-HOO! I WIN A 'CUPY': The Miami Herald gives out monthly in-house CUPY awards for special effort (yeah I have no idea why they're called CUPYs), and I was one of three June winners for my deadline columns during the Heat playoff run. (The only negative? Now I'll need a new tombstone to replace the epitaph I'd planned: 'But He Never Won  A CUPY!') Other June winners were news reporters Ellie Brecher and Nadege Green, heavy lifters on the Causeway Cannibal story. I was talking to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade about winning; they were talking to cops about somebody's face being chewed off. I like my job.

1aa1magicdickON MAGIC MIKE: I have no interest in seeing the new male-stripper movie, Magic Mike, but the title interests me. I think it's a compromise, not quite what they really wanted. As for what they really wanted, use your imagination. In a totally, totally unrelated question, whatever happened to Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz, harmonica player and founding member of The J. Geils Band?

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