February 27, 2016

Who should be our next president? It's an annoying non-sports poll! Last day to vote!; plus Heat sign Joe Johnson, Robert Irvine, Gronk Party Cruise verdict, Marlins playoff paucity in perspective & more


1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27. A website called VIP Concierge is selling tickets to Sunday's most exclusive Oscar parties. Highest price I saw was $6,450 to get into Elton John's annual viewing dinner and after-party. For that price, the ticket should include an Academy Award. 2) The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Gronk Party Ship with poll, Marlins open spring training, legend of Snowflake Nelson, Joey Bats, thanks Jeb Bush & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Heat sign Johnson: Team made it official at 7 p.m. this evening: Heat as expected have signed former all-star guard Joe Johnson.

PrezSPORTS BLOG VEERS OUTSIDE ITS LANE, ANNOYS READERS WITH PRESIDENTIAL POLL: "STICK TO SPORTS, MORON!!" OK I get it. Many of you hate when my (mostly) sports blog delves into politics. That's OK. I'm done explaining that this is a wide-ranging blog exploring all of my interests, which include sports, music, food, politics and et cetera. Besides, if I have ever met anyone who is only a sports fan, that is not someone I really wish to know, quite frankly. We'll get back to sports shortly. For now, hey, I'm a presidential-politics junkie, the main race has winnowed to seven major remaining candidates, the Florida primary is fast approaching -- and those are reasons enough to get a pulse-read on how our blog readers might be feeling heading into all-important March. What? Oh, you still insist on a sports tie? OK, Trump's name is on Doral. How's that? By the way did anyone else watch the Republican debate last night? What a fascinating brawl among Trump, Rubio and Cruz, the Big 3. Poor Kasich and Carson may as well been potted plants. Anyway, it should go without saying this is anything but a scientific poll. It's just for fun. And because I'm curious. I actually care what the people who visit this blog might be thinking. Purposely I have not included a category for undecided, don't-like-any-of-them or "other," a.k.a. the wasted-vote repository of minor-party candidates. I'm offering only the remaining major candidates who might actually win, and offering a chance to state your preference if you choose. That's all. The poll is arranged alphabetically. God Bless America!

RobertirvineON 'SEASIDE EATS' AND ROBERT IRVINE: When I probably should have been watching the Heat-Warriors game last night I was pleased to instead be attending Seaside Eats at the Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale, a satellite event to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival benefiting FIU's School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. There were open bars, dozens of local chefs with mostly seafood-themed treats from area restaurants and ... did I mention open bars? Best bite I had was either the Gailkimgiant seared scallop (I forget the restaurant) or the sour cream confection from Dandee Donuts. My God! The event was hosted by celebrity television chef Robert Irvine, the buffed Brit who looks like he might be in trouble if the Food Network suddenly instituted steroid testing. Oy! I took the photo at right, standing close enough to squeeze Irvine' biceps had I been so inclined. Irvine exudes the same apparent big ego in person that he does on shows ,like Restarant Impossible: but is playful with it as when he was addressing a boisterous (read: drunk) crowd last night and interrupted himself to boom, "Be quiet! I'm talking!" Fun night. Quick aside: Irvine's second wife is professional wrestler Gail Kim, left. That's a lot of testosterone under one roof.

Poll result: Most would not like a Gronk Party Ship surprise: We asked if you would feel closer to lucky or annoyed to book a cruise and be surprised to learn you were aboard Rob Gronkowski's "Gronk Party Ship." The vote was 60.2 percent annoyed vs. 39.8% lucky.

THE LIST: MARLINS' PLAYOFF PAUCITY: The fewest playoff appearances by the 122 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams since 1993, the Marlins's first season, is two, by these eight teams, listed from most recent postseason appearance to most distant:

Team                                         PO apps.

Kansas City Royals MLB         2014, 2015

Winnipeg Jets-* NHL               2007, 2015

Toronto Blue Jays MLB           1993, 2015

Washington Nationals MLB     2012, 2014

Columbus Blue Jackets NHL   2009, 2014

Milwaukee Brewers MLB        2008, 2011

Miami Marlins MLB                1997, 2003

Cleveland Browns-* NFL        1994, 2002

*-Note: Jets only have been a franchise since 1999-00 season. Browns did not play in 1996-98.

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July 15, 2015

Where Miami teams rank among world's 50 most valuable franchises; plus Heat-expectations poll, LeBatard auction, Giancarlo Stanton's new PSA, baseball hits home run with Derby, chicken wings 'n pizza have a baby & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 15. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Good and bad on Tannehill ranking, Hot Button Top 10, Trump and Pierre-Paul verdicts & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too. Join us on Twitter for Periscope alerts. (We have a new 'Scope from yesterday's radio show. Watch soon. It disappears around 5:30 p.m. today).

'Peytom Branning': If Tom Brady and Peyton Manning morphed into each other: Click here for the gif.

Florida: "We're No. 10!": Recent national poll by market research group YouGov found Florida the 10th-most liked state in the U.S. (Are we bragging or complaining?) First: Hawaii. Dead last: New Jersey.

DOLPHINS BEAT HEAT ON MOST-VALUABLE-FRANCHISE LIST: List-mad Forbes has come out with its annual list of the world's Top 50 most valuable sports franchises for 2015, and two Miami clubs (the ones 1aa1amoneysportsyou'd expect) make it, albeit modestly. The Dolphins tie for 37th valued at $1.3 billion, and the Heat are 47th at $1.18 billion. The worldwide Top 10, with all figures in billions: 1. Real Madrid 3.26; 2. tie, Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees both 3.2; 4. Barcelona 3.16; 5. Manchester United 3.1; 6. tie, Los Angeles Lakers and New England Patriots both 2.6; 8. New York Knicks 2.5; 9. tie, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Redskins both 2.4. Rounding out the U.S. Top 10 after the Cowboys, Yankees, Lakers, Patriots, Knicks, Dodgers and Redskins are the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants (tied 12th at 2.1) and the Chicago Bulls and San Francisco Giants (tied 14th at 2.0).

MOTIVATED MAN: RILEY'S BIG SUMMER TURNS AROUND HEAT: A non-playoff team last season might now be the biggest NBA East challenger to LeBron James and Cleveland. That's what Pat Riley's big summer has 1aa1aheattwodone for the Miami Heat. Click on Motivated Man for our latest column. In a flurry the Heat drafted Duke's Justise Winslow, locked up point guard Goran Dragic for five years, kept Dwyane Wade, kept Luol Deng, and brought in big man Amar'e Stoudemire and 3-point guy Gerald Green at bargain rates. Mix in Chris Bosh' return to health, an ascending Hassan Whiteside and a healthy Josh McRoberts. That's an impressive nine-man depth. Riley has had is best offseason since 2010 and clearly is driven to topple LeBron James and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. Will he? Now that the draft is past and free agency is (mostly) over, it's time to set the bar on Heat expectations for the coming season. Don't vote what you hope happens; vote what you honestly think most realistically will happen. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

LEBATARD/ESPN AUCTION: LAST DAY!: Today is last day to submit bids in ESPN's ESPY Auction 1aa1adanbenefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research. An item that may be of special interest to South Floridians is a "Miami Heat Experience With Dan LeBatard and Stugotz." Winning bidder gets to watch an upcoming Heat game with Dan and Stu and also observe a taping of Highly Questionable and the radio show, along with other goodies. High bid was $4,110 when last I looked. Click here to access the auction (being done on eBay) and search Le Batard's name.

BASEBALL HITS A HOME RUN: Baseball got it right. Did it right. Monday's 30th annual Home Run Derby,
1aa1aderbyprecursor to last night's 86th All-Star Game, was pretty close to fantastic. I thought it upstaged the ASG, won 6-3 by the AL. After constant tinkering with the Derby format and an awful, boring show a year ago, MLB is preening and should be. Love the new format: eight players head-to-head, bracket style, with a time limit. The pace stayed fast, and guys were free-swinging, not worried about making outs. That the Reds' Todd Frazier won it, in Cincinnati, capped a storybook night. For an event that's all show and means nothing, really, it  was close to thrilling. The final eight suffered from the absence of the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (injured) and Nationals' Bryce Harper (choice) -- I think Stanton would have been the favorite -- but it was great stuff just the same.

Derby a hit with viewers: Via Nielsen, the Home Run Derby on ESPN drew a final 4.2 rating, up 24 percent from 2014, despite Chris Berman's hair. It was best HRD rating since 2009.

GIANCARLO STANTON'S NEW PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: MLB teamed up with the group Volunteers of America beginning in 2003 on an "Action Team" project, called a "national youth volunteer program." It is meant to encourage high-school age kids to get involved in helping those less fortunate in their communities. The latest public-service ad debuted during last night's All-Star Game, featuring the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (another sign of his rising public profile) and Yankees pitcher Chris Capuano. Click on Volunteers of America for more info. Here is the full 60-second PSA:


Stanton in Cooperstown: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's early-career trajectory suggests he might make the Hall of Fame someday -- if he stays healthy -- but did you know Stanton already is represented in Cooperstown with two artifacts in the Hall's permanent collection? They are: Batting helmet he wore Sept. 28, 2011 in Marlins’ final home game at Sun Life Stadium, and spikes worn Sept. 29, 2013 when Stanton scored the game's only run, on a wild pitch in bottom of ninth, to seal no-hitter of Henderson Alvarez.

They are calling it "Napoli Crispy Pizza Chicken" and it is currently being test-marketed at KFC locations in Hong Kong, which suggests the menu item may soon reach America if it goes over in the Kong. How could it not!? It's the marriage of chicken wings and pizza for God's sake! I just cold-called a random stranger in Kowloon to see how the dish is but he spoke Cantonese so I couldn't understand what he said. The Colonel would be proud. Or mortified, perhaps? 

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May 26, 2014

5 signs Pacers are imploding (including Vogel-yell video); plus James, Bosh lead G4 win, Heat postseason MVP table, fast food & more

1aa1agodzilla1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 27. At right, Godzilla devours E.T. and that adorable kid. 2) We needn't require an annual holiday (Memorial Day) to honor our war dead. Thank you today, too, fallen heroes. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat and the good noise/bad noise forever surrounding LeBron James. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Nine Heat truths we hold self-evident, Heat-Pacers Game 3, Charles Barkley, Mel Kiper's early prejection & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

Click on Thou Shall Not Irritate LeBron James for my column off last night's Heat win.

FIVE INDICATIONS THE PACERS ARE IMPLODING: No, I mean beyond their 3-1 series deficit to Miami that now makes their odds of winning the Eastern Conference finals equal to the likelihood Kim Kardashian will suddenly eschew fame and spotlight and quietly become a nun:

1aa1apgeorgepost1. Paul George's postgame lunacy: "I thought we outplayed them," he said late last night, as a large room full of media looked at each other and worked to stifle outbursts of braying, incredulous laughter. George said he found it "demoralizing" that Indiana was so superior in all phases and yet lost at the free-throw line because of "home cooking" by the officials. (Over/under on the league fine the NBA cooks up for George: $25,000). By the way, somebody point out to Paul that Miami scored 20 points off his team's turnovers, and invite him to blame the refs for that. Lame excuses, Indiana.

2. Lance Stephenson's mouth: (See my rrelated game column) Lance's maw was wide open and yakking before the game, talking about how LeBron James' trash talking had been a "sign of weakness" and that he was "under his skin." Then, during the game last night, Lance was as a church mouse. Somebody give that man a choke sign.

3. Roy Hibbert zeroes in. Hibbert can do the seemingly impossible. He can be a 7-2 giant on national television, and completely disappear. Last night: 0 points. Your cat scored as many. Pacers were minus-23 points with him on the court. And his defense against Chris Bosh was as nonexistent as his offense.

4. World's shortest bench. This doesn't really fit with the others, but, have you noticed? In terms of bench/depth/rotation, Indiana is pretty much bereft with the exception of Luis Scola and his 1970s hair.

5. Frank Vogel's schoolyard yell. Saved my favorite for last. This is a classic. Vogel, the Pacers' nerdy coach, screaming at Shane Battier as he attempts a three-point shot. Recalls my old Little League days, when, as the opposing outfielder raced toward a fly ball, we'd shout, "TREE STUMP!" C'mon, Frank. Seriously!? Be a grownup. Postscript: Battier made the shot.


G4: HEAT 102, INDIANA 90: MIAMI IN CHARGE AT 3-1: LeBron James' 31 points and 10 rebounds and schooling of Lance Stephenson was the big story overall, although Chris Bosh's fast start and 25 points set the early tone. Click on Thou Shall Not Irritate LeBron James for my full column off the game. Original post: Looking at tonight's Game 4 from two angles. I love the seven-game series format because every result dramatically alters the framework of how the series looks and feels. Take tonight back at the downtown bayside arena. A 1aa1azheat-pacg4 1aa1alenlanceMiami win to make it a 3-1 series lead would put the defending-champion Heat in full control of these Eastern Conference finals and have even the most hopeful Pacers fans bracing for a third 1aa1aecfstraight playoff elimination by their nemesis. But! A road upset by the Pacers tonight to even the series 2-2, with Game 5 in Indianapolis, would swing momentum suddenly back to the team that is both the No. 1 seed and yet the underdog. OK that's the big-picture angle. Now the other one. I also love a seven-game series format because it is long enough to become its own soap opera. Hard fouls on the court and dumb comments off it can turn up the intensity and volume. That happened in the runup to tonight's game when Pacers guard Lance Stephenson said Sunday that LeBron James trash-talked him in the last game and called that "a sign of weakness" by James. (The two are pictured, with Stephenson either defending James or trying to kiss him on the left cheek). There is a history here. Lance, of course, made a choke sign (from the bench) in the 2012 playoffs after James missed a key late free throw. Stephenson is 23, so I suppose he can still play the young-and-stupid card, but two points  must be made here. 1) Publicly jabbing LeBron is never smart. He is due a monster game offensively; his 49-pointer in Brooklyn is his only plus-30 since the first round. And you know James would delight in showing up the mouthy Stephenson tonight. 2) Stephenson is a nice young player, a pretty good shooting guard, active defender, and also somebody who would not start for Miami. Three NBA seasons have not seen him within shouting distance of an all-star team or a leaderboard. Stephenson is a grain of sand. LeBron is the beach. It will be delicious to see if those roles come clear tonight.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. LeBron James, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. Dwyane Wade. The updated standings through 13 playoff games, including tonight's Heat-Pacers Game 4: LeBron James 31 points, Dwyane Wade 22, Chris Bosh 11, Ray Allen 8, Chris Andersen 2, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

 Urgent update: Heat prez Pat Riley's business arm, Riles & Co., has extended trademark rights to the phrase Three-Peat (and 3-Peat) to include bed covers, linens, blankets, sheets and towels. He has held the trademark since his late '80s Lakers days, but has now gone bed, bath and beyond. Further updates as needed.

THE LIST: FAST-FOOD CHAINS: The world's top 10 fast-food chains based on number of restaurants:

Rank  Chain                  Restaurants

1       Subway                41,641

2       McDonald's           34,492

3       Starbucks             20,184

4       KFC                      18,875

5      Pizza Hut               14,067

6      Burger King           13,667

7      Dunkin' Donuts      10,862

8      Domino's Pizza       10,566

9      Baskin-Robbins       7,294

10    Wendy's                  6,557 

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November 29, 2013

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 78.0%; plus UM thumps Pitt 41-31, 'Bama loses, FAU tops FIU, Incognito, NFL Week 13 picks & more

1aa1miley 1aa1fat
1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30. Hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My turkey soup recipe is below. (Click on the image at right for the disturbing animated version). 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Thanksgiving Special, Bird Day NFL picks, Bullygate Thanksgiving video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

1aa1incogSignificant Bullygate update: The Dolphins and suspended bully Richie Incognito reached an agreement to extend Incognito's team suspension with pay. This is significant. It positions Miami to reinstate Incognito if the findings of Ted Wells' NFL investigation make that plausible from a public relations standpoint. It had earlier been reported Incognito would never again play for Miami. Well, that no longer seems nearly as certain.


CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: Results are in on the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 78.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 41-31 victory at Pittsburgh putting Mami's final 1aa1csmregular-season record at 9-3 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. That is UM's highest CSM rating since Week 6. (This is not the season-ending CSM poll; we'll have a final one after the bowl game). This is the fifth year for these polls in our blog. They are your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, program's direction, and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Sunday.

2013 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 82.9% (19.9-very, 63.0-somewhat) following 34-6 victory vs. FAU.

G2: 96.7% (71.2-v, 25.5-s) following 21-16 victory vs. Florida.

G3: 95.7% (77.2-v, 18.5-s) following 77-7 victory vs. Savannah State.

G4: 97.6% (67.9-v, 29.7-s) following 49-21 victory at South Florida.

G5: 95.8% (60.4-v, 35.4-s) following 45-30 victory vs. Georgia Tech.

G6: 82.3% (41.8-v, 40.5-s) following 27-23 victory at North Carolina.

G7: 68.4% (31.2-v, 37.2-s) following 24-21 victory vs. Wake Forest.

G8: 65.7% (28.5-v, 37.2-s) following 41-14 loss at Florida State.

G9: 15.1% (4.7-v, 10.4-s) following 42-24 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

G10: 5.7% (2.5-v, 3.2-s) following 48-30 loss at Duke.

G11: 51.1% (6.2-v, 44.9-s) following 45-26 victory vs. Virginia.

G12: 78.0% (21.9-v, 56.1-s) following 41-31 victory at Pitt.

Next/Final poll: Following bowl game, date TBD

G12: HURRICANES @ PITT: Final: The bad news? UM's defense was spotty, especially against the run. The good news? Everything  else. Stephen Morris threw for almost 300 yards, Stacy Coley had three long TD plays totaling 139 yards, and Allen Hurns had nine catches for 173 yards to cap a terrific regular season for him. With the win bowl-bound Miami still had a chance to sneak into the ACC title game vs. FSU, but that ended when Duke won Saturday. ..... Halftime: The Stacy Coley Show, starring Stacy Coley. TD passes of 32 and 34 yards and a 73-yard TD run are about all you need to know of Miami's easy first half and comfy lead. The scary thing? Coley should have four TDs; he dropped a perfect pass in the end zone. ..... Original post: National television on ABC. Freezing-cold weather. Regular-
1aa1caneshelmetseason finales with bowl positioning in play. Lots to like about today's Canes at Pittsburgh game. For 8-3 Miami, a narrow favorite, a win also could see The U creep back up into the polls and keep slim ACC title-game hopes alive. Panthers are 6-5, pretty good, but Canes should win if Stephen Morris masters the conditions and turnovers are not a factor. (Admittedly, a lot to ask). The Hurricanes, with a win, are projected to meet either Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta) or Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando). That means Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater, so UM had better pack its pass defense for the trip. But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Beat Pitt today, or the bowl stakes shrink. My pick was: Miami, 28-24.

Other Week 14 state FBS games, chronologically:

FAU 21, FIU 6: The annual rivalry for the Don Shula Trophy was more of a Nightmare Bowl this year. FIU was a miserable 1-10. FAU had lost its head coach to a drug-related scandal around midseason -- but rallied and became bowl-eligible today. Remember: You can't spell "bowl" with "OWL"! My pick was: FAU, 37-13.

No. 19 UCF 23, USF 20: The Knights are rolling to an AAC title and major BCS bowl game and wouldn't be stopped by the ornery Bulls, but this one took a late escape. My pick was: UCF, 28-7.

No. 2 Florida State 37, Florida 7: Was this where we were supposed to pretend that the rivalry and home field and pride and all that good stuff would somehow turn this into a competitive game? I wouldn't bet on it. Jameis Winston,under investigation in a sexual assault case, calls the field his "sanctuary" and continues to thrive despite the distraction. Was close for a long while, but then the FSU offensive dam burst as you knew it would. My pick was: FSU, 41-14.

Week 14 national Top 25 matchups (all Saturday):

No. 4 Auburn 34, No. 1 Alabama 28: Iron Bowl was the Game of the Week and fittingly ended with a thrill, a 106-yard Auburn TD return of a missed field goal. Nick Saban out-coached himself to lose another shot at a national title. My pick was: Alabama, 31-21.

No. 10 South Carolina, 31, No. 6 Clemson 17: This was first time in 111 meetings both had been top-10 as both Tigers and 'Cocks angled for a BCS bowl. My pick was: Upset. Clemson, 27-24.

No. 8 Stanford 27, No. 25 Notre Dame 20: Stanford drive to a Rose Bowl wouldn't be derailed by the Irish. My pick was: Stanford, 27-21 (one point from an exact score).

No. 5 Missouri 28, No. 21 Texas A&M 21: Mizzou needed the win for the SEC East title and got it at home. Johnny Manziel is now 0-4 against ranked teams this year. My pick was: Missouri, 38-31.

No. 22 UCLA 35, No. 23 Southern Cal 14: USC had won five straight this season under Ed Orgeron, and seven in a row at home in this rivalry. My pick was: Southern Cal, 27-20.

My record: This week, 6-3; season, 79-27.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 13 NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS BEAT STINKIN' JETS: Dolphins a slight underdog at 1aa1fripixJets Sunday but Geno Smith will find a way to see a Miami victory. Rivals might both be 5-6 but don't let the haters tell you it isn't a big game. Winner will still have a decent shot at an AFC wild-card playoff berth. Click on Week 13 Gems for full prediction capsules on the Dolphins and all other games, and on Outlook Cloudy for my NFL notes column, leading with the playoff picture. My week got off to a decent start with the Thanksgiving Day tripleheader; I went 2-1 straight-up and the same against the spread.

SAVE THE CARCASS! GREG'S TURKEY SOUP RECIPE: (Photo of soup taken on my kitchen counter, 2:45 p.m. Friday) To make stock, submerge turkey carcass in 3 1aa1gregsoupquarts water. Rough-chop and add a handful each of celery, onion and carrots. Add 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and teaspoon Cajun seasoning. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer at least 1 hour. Strain and reserve stock. Pick remaining meat from carcass and add to pot, along with 2 cups chopped leftover turkey, 1 cup of diced onion, 1 cup diced celery, 1/2 cup fined-diced carrots and 1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning. Add 1 1/2 cups uncooked ditalini (white rice may be substituted). Stir, simmer until pasta is done. Stir in handful of fried onion crumbles, and S&P to taste. Serve. (Good now, better reheated tomorrow). Enjoy!

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June 23, 2013

It's Parade & Coronation Monday! Put Heat's run in context of Miami's greatest sports accomplishments. Poll. Vote!; plus Paula Deen & more, y'all

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 24. It's Championship Monday in Miami! 2) Click on Champions! Repeat, Champions! for my column off Heat's title-winning Game 7 triumph, and on Exhale, Appreciate for my most recent column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat win NBA championship, biggest Game 7 poll, Dolphins' future rank.

Follow us on TWITTER @gregcote and INSTAGRAM @ upsetbird and VINE @ Greg Cote. Bunch of new pix and vids from Heat-Spurs Game 7.

1aa1kwest"Kanye West named his daughter North. If she grows up to marry the grandson of singer Joe South and they are photographed at a religious sunrise service, the caption would read: North West-South at Easter." -- Greg Cote

WHAT IS OUR BIGGEST, PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN MIAMI SPORTS?: We are in the moment right now, surrounded by confetti. The Heat's Game 7 championship win still pulses in our minds as we prepare for Monday's celebratory parade. It's all LeBronLeBronLeBron today and that's fine. But it has struck an odd 1aa1dols 1aa1marlinswschord with me when I have read and heard it said so casually and certainly over the past several days that the Heat have given us the greatest feeling we have ever had in local sports. As if that were not debatable. I hear that said and I assume those saying it were not around in the the winters of 1972 and '73 when the Dolphins were capital-P Perfect and back-to-back Super Bowl champs back when football defined us. Or maybe we have too quickly forgotten what those two Marlins World Series championships felt like. Or perhaps we don't recall what 1aa1heatJan. 2, 1984 in the Orange Bowl meant, when the Miami Hurricanes began their 1aa1canesntrun of dominance in college football. Celebrate the Heat; they deserve every bit of it. But don't dismiss all of the wonderful feelings that preceded them. The Heat, after all, did not invent the Miami championship parade. We ran a similar poll once before, a good while back. The timing is right to reprise it. OK, your turn. What have been our two biggest or proudest major team-sports accomplishments to this point? Step back from the moment and see the question from the broadest view and largest context. I offer the four obvious choices. Pick the top two. Vote now and say why.


PAULA DEEN'S IN SOME TROUBLE, Y'ALL: Food Network has dumped Southern-fried cook Paula Deen after it 1aa1deenp2was learned, via a deposition she gave, that her use of the N-word seems rather casual, y'all. Paula previously had been seen as disingenuous only when it was learned she was a diabetic yet had been pimping some of the unhealthiest recipes on TV. Predictably her fans have rallied, threatening a boycott of the Food Network unless she is reinstated. Hey, she might be prejudiced or whatever but her food is yummy, y'all! Paula's future is difficult to predict. Do not write her off. Martha Stewart survived jail time, did she not, y'all?

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March 04, 2013

The Laura Silberman sham; plus Heat win record 15th straight, UM falls one to No. 6, Dolphins franchise Starks, golf's surprise, Bar Eaters & more

[1) It is MONDAY, MARCH 4. Sorry, again, that there was no live blog chat today due to a scheduling conflict. We'll be back at it next Monday 1-2 p.m. as usual. 2) Aside to Auto Nation: The "who you gonna call..." jingle that worked with the word "Maroone" does not work now. So stop it, please. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins and Darrelle Revis, Heat do Harlem Shake, Heat/Canes lead monster hoops weekend. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1kickTHE SHAM AND SHAME OF LAURA SILBERMAN: I saw this on TV and thought it was a joke. Like something from a Saturday Night Live skit. Premise: Female kicker gets historic NFL tryout but is so godawfully bad that it's, well, it's ridiculous-funny. So Silberman, 28, of New York City, appears Sunday at an NFL regional scouting combine at the Jets facility and becomes -- officially, and for all-time -- the first woman to participate in an NFL-sanctioned tryout. And what does she do? She sets women's sports back about two decades. She attempts two kickoffs. One goes 19 yards, the other 13. Then she stops, claiming a bad leg. She had played club-level soccer, no football. She had kicked her first football about two months earlier. Reports are she was unsure how to place the ball on the tee, or where to stand on her approach. She was thoroughly unprepared and unqualified for anything related to an NFL tryout. It smells like a publicity stunt. Yet the NFL played along, promoted her appearance, and the media throng there included E! Entertainment. Now, because of her "first," I have no doubt a quickie book or a deal for a really bad movie are right around the corner. Remember when "firsts" meant something? First man on the moon. First woman in Congress. First black president. Let the record state that the "first woman in an NFL-sanctioned tryout" was preposterously unqualified and had no business being there.

HEAT WIN CLUB-RECORD 15TH IN A ROW: [Update: Heat tonight won No. 15 in a row, 97-81 at Minnesota, led by D-Wade's 32 points. And I was dead-wrong about this being a danger/trap game]. Original post: Back to back the Heat have beaten a very good West team in Memphis and conquered an East rival in New York on the great stage of Madison Square 1aa1trapGarden to reach a club-record-tying 14 consecutive wins. Tonight the record 15th straight W should come easily at last-place Minnesota, right? Except you know it won't, right? It's a classic trap game. Pictured: A lobster trap of the type Dave Wannstedt would hang in the Dolphin lockerroom certain weeks. The letdown factor will be big for the Heat tonight. Plus LeBron James has a slightly hyperextended knee and is questionable to play. He'll play (knowing LeBron), but this might be a good time for his first rest of the season. By the way, still not sure what to make of the Heat re-signing ancient Juwan Howard. Can't imagine he'll play any significant minutes. To afford that roster luxury is another sign how good the Heat are.

CANES DROP ONLY ONE SPOT TO NO. 6: That's in today's latest Associated Press college men's basketball poll, and that's fair and reasonable, following a narrow loss at Duke. Top five: new No. 1 Gonzaga, then Indiana, Duke, Kansas and Georgtown. Florida is 11th.

DOLPHINS FRANCHISE STARKS: To nobody's surprise, the Dolphins today placed their franchise tag on 1aa1rstarksdefensive tackle Randy Starks, guaranteeing he will be among the top-paid at his position but assuring he will not be lost in free agency. It would have cost the team more money to franchise pending FA's such as tackle Jake Long or cornerback Sean Smith. Assigning a franchise tag is the first major step for general manager Jeff Ireland as he outlines how the coming free agency period will play out for Miami.

1aa1arodgirlWHAT A-ROD DOES IN HIS SPARE TIME: Yankee and Miami's own Alex Rodriguez, when not rehabbing from an injury or denying suggestions of steroid use, is now reportedly busy dating Torrie Wilson, a former wrestler and Playboy model. Torrie is pictured. (Is it cold in this blog!?)


GOLF'S CONSTANT SURPRISE: Enjoyed covering Sunday's final round of the Honda Classic up in Palm 1aa1mthompsonBeach and writing this column on the sport's splendid unpredictability. The week's script called for a Rory McIlroy-Tiger Woods showdown. Instead the final leaderboard was highlighted by a guy in Mr. Rogers' sweater (winner Michael Thompson, pictured) and a guy who'd had two heart transplants, Miamian Erik Compton. No team or individual sport more than the PGA Tour offers an anything-can-happen/anybody-can-win feel every week. Already looking forward to Doral this week.

Poll result: Interest in Revis, but not for 1st-round pick: We asked what you'd give up to get Jets CB Darrell Revis in a trade, and a plurality of 33.5 percent said 2nd and 3rd-round draft picks, 25.2% said a 2nd or 3rd-rounder and lower picks, 7.2% said a 1st-round pick and 5.9% said a 1st-rounder and more if needed. Another 28.2% would not give up picks for Revis.

A WAR ON BAR EATERS: A "bar eater," according to the Greg Cote Encyclopedia of Pet Peeves, is a person who walks into a fine restaurant, sits at the bar and orders a full meal that he or she consumes at the bar -- thereby occupying limited space intended for people who are A) there only to drink, or are B) there having drinks while waiting for a table. Again, I'm not talking about sports bars here; I'm talking about nice restaurants. To bar eaters and establishments that allow them: Restaurant tables = eating. Restaurant bars = drinking. Quiz in the morning.

Click back. Says here I'll be updating/adding to this latest blogpost. Bank on it...

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.

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

March 29, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 23, 2012

Heat defense puts the L in Linsanity; plus Manning-to-Miami push, [bleep]ing Marlins, SoBe wine-food fest review & more

"And in politics, men named Mitt and Newt are trying to unseat a man named Barack. Whatever happened to guys named Bill and Ted?" --Greg Cote

[1) President Obama visited the University of Miami yesterday. Click here to see and hear the prez singing 'Sweet Home Chicago.' 2) Thanks to Professor Michelle Kaufman for having me address her UM sports journalism class. Enjoyed it. Bright group. 3) You may still vote in our Dolphins-QBs poll in blogpost directly below this new one. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

HEAT DOMINATES WHATSHISNAME: Jeremy Lin has been the biggest and maybe best story in the NBA this season, but the Heat has been the biggest, best team story -- no maybes. Last night's 102-88 win 1aa1bossover the visiting Knicks was Miami's eighth straight win, all by at least 12 points, and a suffocating defense reduced Lin (pictured losing a staredown vs. LeBron James) to looking like what he is: a nice little role player from Harvard. Lin had eight points on 1-for-11 shooting, only three assists and eight turnovers. The Heat's Big 3 stepped up as you knew they would, Chris Bosh with 25 points, Dwyane Wade with 22 and James with 20 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, five blocks and two steals. Terrific night for the Heat, which now enters the all-star break a league-best 27-7. Scary-good. Original post: Miami and the NBA's MVP favorite, LeBron James, tonight hosting New York and the league's MDP (Most Discussed Player), Jeremy Lin. Oh my. LeBron and 1aa1amasianLin ... IN THE SAME GAME! If ESPN had a head, it would explode. Lin, of course, is the out-of-nowhere sensation who has inspired an unending parade of awful and occasionally racist wordplay such as is pictured. Tonight could only be a bigger media event if Tom Brady's wife sat courtside blaming Spike Lee for the Pats' Super Bowl loss as Tim Tebow inexplicably started Tebowing at midcourt. Click here for my Wednesday column previewing tonight's game. A playoff atmosphere will permeate the downtown arena because this is one of those "event" games that blessedly break up the monotony of an NBA season. Yes, monotony, even when your team is really good, because everything is so geared to the playoffs that the regular season can seem like little more than the perfunctory bridge there -- except on nights like this. Here is what will happen: While most eyes are on Lin, two players from the other team, guys named LeBron and Dwyane Wade, will remind everyone who the best players in this game are, and Miami will win comfortably. Trying to get a quick patent on the headline, 'Knicks Have Lin But Heat has Win.' Hey. I made it through this entire item without once using the word "Linsanity"! Damn. So close.

NBA All-Star Weekends odds: From Bovada, LeBron James is All-Star Game MVP favorite at 13-2, with Dwyane Wade 12-1 and Chris Bosh 25-1. Rising Stars Challenge fave is (surprise!) Jeremy Lin at 5-1, with Norris Cole 20-1. Three-Point pick is Anthony Morrow at 5-2, with James Jones 7-2 and Mario Chamers 4-1. And Slam-Dunk fave is Paul George at 3-2. What, no John Ringo?

Shane Battier's South Beach Battioke: Clear here to be enlightened.

1aa1ozCOVER YOUR EARS! OZZIE'S HERE!: I have a partial representative transcript of Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen answering a question: "I don't [bleep] if they [blank] as long as they [censored] because all that other  [deleted] is [oy!]." If paid by the F-bomb, Guillen would have more money than owner Jeffrey Loria. Click on Ozzfest for the latest column by me off this week's opening of spring training up in Jupiter. This Marlins season should be a wild, loud, fun ride for a number of reasons and one of them is that the refreshing Guillen in Rex Ryan in cleats. 

1aa1manningmiamiMANNING TO MIAMI? HERE'S A SIGN: Two Dolphins fans up in Stuart have started a ManningtoMiami.com website and paid for this Miami billboard to promote their cause. What's next? A competing, pro-Matt Flynn group called the Miami DolFlynns? Update: GM Jeff Ireland, at the NFL Combine in Indy, reports Miami wouold not rule out a short-term solution at QB. Well, no duh, Jeff. Everybody knows the team is interested in a healthy Manning. So in other words Ireland is not ruling out the quarterback they want. Another update: Dolphins win coin flip with Carolina and will draft eighth overall, not ninth. DOLPHINS DOMINATE COIN FLIP!

FAITH IN HAITH: Missouri coach Frank Haith, formerly of the Miami Hurricanes of course, is favorite at 5-2 odds to win NCAA men's basketball coach of the year, says Bovada. After that it's Michigan State's Tom Izzo at 7-2 and Kentucky's John Calipari at 5-1.  

ON RYAN BRAUN: I wrote a blog item on Milwaukee's Braun, the NL MVP and ex-Miami Hurricane, when he tested positive for a banned substance in October, so it is only fair I do so again now that those results have been overturned on appeal. Baseball needs to check its testing system, which evidently was wrong then or wrong now. Fans must have confidence that players who test positive absolutely are guilt of having used a banned substance. And players deserve to not be falsely accused and have their reputations stained. Braun will always be the guy who once tested positive, whether he was ever guilty or not.

1aa1breastsAUGMENTATION NATION: This woman (left) has had 22 breast-enlargement surgeries and isn't done yet. Hey, this is a blog. Could I say it if it weren't true!?


SOUTH BEACH WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL: Took in last night's opening of the SoBe Wine & Food festival, pricey but worth it. Paid extra for early access, chowing and imbibing nonstop while those who hadn't paid for early access waited outside. It's strange, the feeling of privilege and (yes) superiority. I felt a little like I do walking through an airport 1aa1guytwoand watching cigarette fiends (the modern lepers) penned in their smoke-filled room sucking cancer herb. Where was I? Oh yeah. I sampled enough ribs, brisket, pulled pork sliders and barbecue tacos to fill a raft. (BBQ theme, obviously). Also some yummy, vinegary slaw. Much of the food was sublime, some of it was not. Pork belly? C'mon! Sipped a bit of champagne, mostly stuck to Malbec, ended the liquid portion of my evening with cognac, neat. The most fun part was seeing the star chefs, including two personal culinary heroes of mine, Emeril Lagasse and Masaharu Morimoto. The official co-host along with Lagasse was Guy Fieri (both are pictured). I like his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives but because of it I think of him as more an eater and host than a chef. A bit much on the packaging, too, for me. The spiked hair, shades on the back of the head. Working a bit too hard for the biker/rock-star persona. C'mon! Also enjoyed seeing Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern, the bravest eater on Earth. Saw him walk up to a plateful of brisket and ask the chef, "Do you have that in vegetarian?" Chuckled, I did. Good times. Original post from Thursday: This is the 11th annual, and tonight for the first time I'll be attending. (Tried to get Heat-Knicks to postpone their game, but uncooperatively they refused). Boss wanted me at the Heat game but wife reminded me how much the festival tickets cost and started swearing at me like Ozzie Guillen so my decision was pretty clear. I'll have a report here tomorrow on what this event is really like. After several glasses of wine tonight I plan to pick a fight with Emeril Lagasse or perhaps start throwing shrimp at Guy Fieri to spice up that report, so we'll see how that goes.

1aa1katewalshNUDE MAG COVERS TURNS BLASE': Remember when [Your Female Celebrity Here] posing nude yet artfully covered on a magazine cover was different and daring? Now it's more unsual if somebody isn't nude. Here is actress Kate Walsh on the cover of Shape. I think she thinks she looks really good for 44. Also, in this particular case, I thank God for the airbrush.

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

January 27, 2012

Who are South Florida's 5 biggest current sports figures? (with poll); plus Wade answers doubters, Dolphins invade Herald, LeBron rumor, Paula Deen & more

[1) Pat Sajak admits he has been drunk on "Wheel of Fortune." No big deal. Occasionally I am drunk in this blog. 2) Musical treat: One of my heroes, Mavis Staples, sings "You Are Not Alone," accompanied only by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy on guitar. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote

Herald hosts Philbin, Ireland: Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, GM Jeff Ireland and CEO Mike Dee visited The Miami Herald yesterday for an exclusive one-hour sit-down interview with a Herald contingent that included myself. The video of that session is now online, and begins with my question about Philbin's recent family tragedy.

WHO ARE SOUTH FLORIDA's BIGGEST CURRENT TEAM-SPORT STARS?: My poll includes 14 nominees 1aa1top5logofrom our four major pro teams, listed alphabetically. You get to pick your top FIVE (5). I have little doubt LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (or Wade and James) 1aa1top5handprobably will rank 1-2, but to me the order after that is up for grabs among a pretty strong list. I don't have a "somebody else" category but you'll let me know if I left anyone deserving out. The "biggest star" criteria is your own, but I suggest you consider the question beyond a local vantage and view it from a national perspective: Who are the biggest current figures in Miami sports? Vote now and say why.

And remember: VOTE FOR AS MANY AS 5!

Poll analysis: Two things. 1) The timing of this poll clearly favors the Heat. However I have no doubts LeBron James/Dwyane Wade would be 1-2 even if the poll were in the middle of Dolphins or Marlins seasons. The mild surprise is that Heat sweep top four spots, with Pat Riley a solid third and Chris Bosh in fourth just ahead of Reggie Bush as voting continues. 2) Bear in mind that with each voter allowed to vote for five different men, 20 percent would be the maximum total vote percentage presuming each voter completes a full ballot. In other words, James and Wade's percentages of 19 and change means they are being included in just about everyone's top 5. One would multiple each person's vote percentage by 5 for an approximation of the overall percentage of top-5's in which each man is being included. For example, Hanley Ramirez 's vote percentage of just under 5% means he is being included in roughly 25% of all top 5s.

WADE ANSWERS THE DOUBTERS: Dwyane Wade returned from his ankle injury with a sharp 28 points in last night's Heat win over the Knicks, reminding us how much harder Miami is to defend when he is on the floor. The doubters who wonder if the Heat might somehow be better off without Wade -- they are wrong. Meanwhile the silly Knicks' only answer was to hoist an absurd 43 3-point shots. What an embarrassment for the NYK.

ANATOMY OF A RIDICULOUS LEBRON RUMOR: It was "being reported" this week that LeBron James is not thrilled with Pat Riley's disciplinary ways and that he might leave the Heat in free agency after the 2013-14 season. The story is baseless. It emanates from this fluff from one Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. Sam writes "there is talk" based on his "sources in Miami." Translated, that means "there is talk I just generated" based on "the sources in my head." His further speculation is that James would rejoin the Cavaliers. Which makes sense except that club owner Dan Gilbert would not have LeBron back in a million years. Maybe two million. The truth: James truly loves playing with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and company, and would not consider leaving as long as he feels he is legitimately chasing multiple championships here.

DOLPHINS 1-FOR-2 ON COORDINATOR UPGRADES: I like that new coach Joe Philbin is bringing in ex-Packers head coach Mike Sherman as his offensive coordinator. That can't but be seen as an upgrade over Brian Daboll. Not as sure about hiring Bengals DBs coach Kevin Coyle as defensive coordinator. He's a veteran, but does not seem like an upgrade over departed Mike Nolan.

SHANE BATTIER CHANNELS VANILLA ICE: Hear the Heat's Shane Battier, a karaoke guy, on YouTube sort of rapping the signature hit of Miami's own Vanilla Ice right here. Word to ya mutha.

SUPER BOWL PROP BETS: A few of the hundreds available, courtesy our friends at Bovada: MVP--Tom Brady 13-10, Eli Manning 9-4, Rob Gronkowski 8-1. Kelly Clarkson over/under on national anthem--1 minute 34 seconds. TV audience over/under--47.5 rating, 115 million viewers. Times Peyton Manning shown on TV--3 1/2. Color of Gatorade bath--Yellow 7-4.

PAULA DEEN'S LITTLE MESS: Food Network fans (like me) know Paula Deen is the Southern lady know 1aa1pauladeenfor rich, caloric foods that pay little heed to health. Many also know she just revealed she was diagnosed three years ago with type-2 diabetes, yet continued to pimp her artery-clogging dishes. Never too much butter 'n sugar 'n cream, ya'll! Now she has partnered with a diabetes drug company to profit off her condition. Angry diabetics are calling her a hypocrite and Anthony Bourdain of Travel Channel's "No Reservations" continues his critical assault. I find the controversy, well, delicious. It is stunning how Deen has misplayed this to such a degree there is outrage where sympathy otherwise would be. If I were the Food Network I'd consider saying adios, Paula. And if I were that drug company, I'd pay close attention to the public backlash, especially from diabetics, and probably run from this woman as fast as I could.

RAY LEWIS, OF COURSE: ESPN finished its countdown of the top 20 current NFL players for its "Any Era" list and of course Ray Lewis was chosen No. 1. It was probably the most anticlimactic foregone conclusion since that time ESPN's best-planet list was topped by Earth.

HEADLINES YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU'D SEE (one in a series): Click here. Note, a judiciously blurred video of her performance is included. Not sure if that's a good thing.  

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