May 04, 2013

Who's the idiot? LeBron 1 vote shy of unanimous for MVP; plus new NBA playoff odds, Dolphins' big loss, Tyson Clabo, Sad-O-Meter retired & more

1aa1cinco1) It is SUNDAY, MAY 5. Happy Cinco de Mayo! 2) NCAA refuses to dismiss UM case in advance of June hearing. "No duh," says rest of America. 3) Click on Random Evidence for today's Sunday notes column, leading with Heat playoffs. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The building and branding of Dion Jordan, Bulls-or-Nets Heat poll, Susannah Collins, Tim Tebow prank. 5Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

LEBRON MVP VOTE: NEW PROOF THAT 1 OF EVERY 121 PEOPLE IS A MORON: Heat's LeBron James got 120 of 121 frst-place votes for league MVP today, denying him the first unanimous vote in NBA history even though he was deserving. A funny Internet rumor spread that my colleague Dan Le Batard cast the lone vote for Carmelo Anthony. It wasn't true. That didn't stop it. "Probably a writer out fo New York," surmised LeBron, likely more accurately. LeBatard, sensing Twitter gold, didn't deny the initial speculation, merely re-Tweeted it. Deadspin said it was so. One of life's small pleasures is watching self-important Deadspin say, "Ah, um, uhh, oops. My bad!" Anyway, the mystery lunatic-voter is still out there. Oh he WILL be found!

HEAT-BULLS ON DECK; NBA NEXT-ROUND PLAYOFF ODDS: Second-round pairings and betting odds via Bovada, by conference, entering second-round play: Eastern: Miami over Chicago: Heat a prohibitive overall favorite at 2-11 to win East, 4-9 to repeat league title. Bulls are 40-1 to win East, 75-1 overall. There are no early indications Derrick Rose will play vs. Miami, but the fact he might will be an intriguing cloud hanging over this series. New York over Indiana: Knicks are 6-1 to win East and 14-1 to win league. Pacers are 12-1 and 25-1. Western: San Antonio over Golden State: Spurs are a big 5-7 pick to win West and 11-2 to win it all. Warriors are 9-1 in conference, 40-1 in league. Oklahoma City over Memphis: Thunder is 3-1 in West, 9-1 in league. Grizzlies are 5-1 to win West, 14-1 to win it all.

A WORD TO ROSS AND TO NFL IN WAKE OF DOLPHINS' LEGISLATIVE DEFEAT: Although it sounds as if Florida House speaker Will Weatherford (the smug-looking guy on the far right) may have done a bit of backstabbing up there in Tally, I can't get as worked up or disappointed as I'm sure Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is over the sudden collapse of his plan for 1aa1willw 1aa1dolrossmassive stadium renovations. That's partly because the plan faced a likely defeat in a Miami-Dade referendum vote even if the Legislature had let it get that far. A quick word to Ross (near right), and to the NFL. To Ross: Understand that most Dolphins fans think the stadium is fine as is (and it is), and are hugely more concerned about the Dolphins getting in the Super Bowl than they are about the stadium hosting Super Bowls. As long as your emphasis is on a winning team, you'll be fine with Dolfans even if there is no canopy to shade them. To the NFL: Threatening to withhhold future Super Bowls if this renovation didn't pass sounded a bit like extortion to folks down here, and that didn't play well. Miami -- even with Dolphins stadium as is -- should continue as a main-rotation factor in the awarding of Super Bowls. This is a destination city. That won't change. Also, a league that just awarded an outdoor Super Bowl to New Jersey -- where snow is very possible and freezing temps all but assured -- ought not wring hands over the idea a Miami Super Bowl might face the threat of rain. If the NFL wants to do what's best for the league and for fans, it should swallow its pride over this legislative defeat and get back to realizing Miami was, and is, a Super Bowl-caliber host.

Dolphins sign Clabo: That's Tyson Clabo, the long-time ex-Falcons right tackle, 31, a one-time Pro Bowl guy (2010) who'll help the blocking front. Good signing.

1aa1howardORB TAKES KENTUCKY DERBY: Orb, third-to-last early, saves energy for a brilliant finish and comfy win. Smartly run race. Good to see the Florida Derby as the springboard here. Pictured: A familiar former FAU football coach, Mr. Howard Schnellenberger, takes in the race today with his properly be-hatted wife Beverlee. Original post: The 139th running is today to launch racing's Triple Crown season, and my rooting interest probably is the betting favorite, Orb. I always root for our Florida Derby winner to represent. I have a funny feeling, though, that 5-1 shot Goldencents may carry the day. It's Rick Pitino's year, and he's part-owner. I always put more stock in gut feelings and supersition in horse racing than in other types of betting. Is that weird? Doubt that'll change until the horses start talking.

1aa1chrgayDOES MEDIA HAVE PRO-GAY, ANTI-CHRISTIAN BIAS?: A reader passed this political cartoon along to me, and I found it thought-provoking enough to post in the blog. I don't know that Christian vs. gay is a parallel discussion. Christian vs. atheist or gay vs. straight would be parallel. I'd also point out that something very unusual is more newsworthy than something common, and so Tebow's religious beliefs are much more common than Collins' ground-breaking revelation. Nevertheless, the cartoon makes its point very well.

1aa1bbsadUPDATED: MARLINS "SAD-O-METER" IN HIBERNATION: We have had this new blog feature we updated as long as Marlins' winning percentage was under .300. The New York Mets' 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is widely regarded as the worst season in modern MLB history and Marlins had been on pace to threaten for awhile. But Miami is now at 10-22 (.313) after today's win, so our Sad-O-Meter is on indefinite hiatus.

Poll result: No contest. Bulls tougher next foe than Nets: We asked, and by an 84.8 percent landslide you said Chicago would be a tougher next playoff opponent for the Heat than Brooklyn. (They meet in Game 7 tonight in the Kings County borough for the right to face Miami).

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May 01, 2013

Good news on Heat's preference for next round; plus Dolphins' biggest need (with poll), Tebow rumor, Broussard, Sad-O-Meter, glowing sheep & more

1aa1king1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 2. Happy dos de Mayo! 2) Always been a big Snoop Dogg fan. Now here is the reincarnated, reggae-fied Snoop Lion: Here Comes The King. 3) Panthers not making the NHL postseason? Unfortunate. Me not having to feign interest in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Priceless! 4) Click on Weatherman Battles Hiccups on Air for funny vid. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA's gay player, Dolphins' SB odds, Ed DuBois, Sad-O-Meter. 5bJoin us on Twitter @agregcote.

Dolphins/Tebow rumor: How'd it start? I mean beyond ther usual Internet nonsense? Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on WQAM this week he "wouldn't be shocked" if Miami showed interest in free agent QB Tim Tebow. That's how. Drew was doing what good agents do: Trying to drum up business. Tying to create the illusion of smoke so there appears to be fire. Most who follow the team closely would be far more shocked than Rosenhaus if Miami showed any interest. Bet against it. Big.

HEAT (AND FANS) SHOULD HAVE CLEAR PREFERENCE IN BULLS-NETS SERIES: [Update: Nets beat Bulls tonight to tie series 3-3, with Game 7 in Brooklyn]. What opponent should Heat players and fans most want to face in the second round starting Monday in Miami? Players would never say it because to do so would build confidence in the team they'd least like to play or incentive in the one they'd prefer. (Also, the confident Heat "fears" no team; Miami instills fear in others). But there is no doubt the Heat matches up better with Brooklyn than 1aa1aheadChicago and should hope the Nets -- who tied the series tonight and now host Game 7 -- can win one more. Miami was 3-0 vs. Brooklyn this season by an average margin of 18 points, but only 2-2 vs. Chicago, which ended Miami's 27-game win streak. But it's more than that, and more than the possibility (however remote) that Bulls star Derrick Rose could make his lonnnnng-awaited return in the next round. It is that Chicago defends Miami's strength better than any team in the NBA. LeBron James driving and then kicking it out for an open corner-3 (Ray Allen's moneymaker) is a huge part of the Heat's game. Miami shot 44 corner 3's in swamping Milwaukee in the first round, or 11 per game. But Chicago's defense this season allowed an NBA-low 3.6 corner-3 attempts per game. statwonk Tom Haberstroh has more on this here. Defensively the Bulls were better than the Nets this season in most categories, but it is their denying the corner-3 that would most challenge the Heat. Also worth noting, Chicago outrebounded Miami by 36 (175-139) in the four season meetings, and limited the Heat to 30 percent on 3-point shots (21-for-70), versus Miami's 41% on 3's against everybody else. Don't get me wrong. Miami still would be a heavy favorite to beat the Bulls, and deservedly. But the challenge would be a stark contrast to the playoffs' "soft opening" in that sweep of the Bucks.

DOLPHINS' BIGGEST REMAINING HOLES, POST-DRAFT: Left tackle seems to be getting most of the current attention and tryout calls (which must make Jonathan Martin feel like crap), and I can 1aa1helpunderstand that. But for me there are other roster soft spots of some concern. They include cornerback, where starters Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall would hardly count among the NFL's best tandems; tight end, where Dustin Keller is a marginal upgrade over departed Anthony Fasano; and perhaps running back, where Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas leave Miami lacking proof. Also wonder if we might add linebacker, where Koa Misi and newcomers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler have much to prove in an overhauled unit. What do you think is the Dolphins' biggest remaining area of concern and why?

Poll note: One choice above is garnering roughly two-thirds of all the votes. There is a phrase in the business for something like that. The phrase is, "Lousy poll idea."

PETITION TO SUSPEND BROUSSARD CIRCULATING: ESPN basketball analyst Chris Broussard is under fire for calling out-of-the-closet NBA player Jason Collins a sinner and saying his homosexuality is an 1aa1fa"open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ." The faith-based group Faithful America (click for the petition) is collecting online signatures calling for ESPN to suspend Broussard for what the group's executive director Michael Sherrard called allowing Broussard to "mischaracterize our faith and use the teachings of Jesus as the basis for gay-bashing." Faithful America's slogan is, "Love thy neighbor. No Exceptions."

MARLINS "SAD-O-METER" LIVES ON: We have this new blog feature 1aa1bbsadwe're updating as long as the Marlins' winning percentage is under .300. The New York Mets' 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is widely regarded as the single worst season in modern MLB history and the Marlins had been on pace to threaten that ignominy. A recent three-game win streak almost tipped the Fish up over .300 to at least temporarily shut down our Sad-O-Meter, but tonight in Philly made it two losses in a row. So: MARLINS SAD-O-METER: Current record, 8-21 (.276). Updated season pace, 44.69 wins, 117.31 losses.

1aa1glowsheepSOUNDS LIKE A BAA-AAAD IDEA: Scientists in Uruguay have engineered a "genetically modified" sheep that glows in the dark. (And you became a scientist for what exactly!?) WWMT? [What Would (Ron) Magill Think?] Click here for the story. Remember. This is a blog. I couldn't say it if it weren't true.

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April 29, 2013

Significance of NBA's first gay player (and the reaction); plus Nets stay alive to face Heat, Dolphins' new SB odds, Ed DuBois & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 1. Another year, another Greg Cote snub in the Tony nominations. 2) "I am no better, and neither are you." --Sly Stone, 1968. This for the intolerant: Everyday People. 3) Played golf Sunday at Jacaranda for a great cause in the Angela Kramer-White Memorial Tournament. I played lousy; however, I did win closest-to-the-beer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Grading Dolphins draft, Canes avert shuout, Heat sweep Bucks, Shane Larkin, Marlins Sad-O-Meter. 5Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

Nets stay alive to face Heat guillotine: Brooklyn beats Chicago 110-91 at home to shave Bulls' series lead to 3-2. Winner faces Miami. Game 6 Thursday night in Chitown.

Click on The First Steps Forward for my latest column, on the bravery of Jason Collins and why this is important for pro sports and for the cause of equal rights.

1aa1collinsWIZARDS CENTER: "I'M GAY": Free agent 7-foot center Jason Collins, who finished this season with the Washington Wizards, reveals himself as the cover subject (pictured) of the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated newly available. His story begins: "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay." Click here for the whole story; it is as compelling as you'd imagine. Collins has seldom been an important player on the court. He last started in the 2006-07 season and has become an end-of-the-bench journeyman. His career scoring average is 3.6 points. But he has become an important player now, near the end of that career, by becoming the first active, openly gay athlete in one fo America's big-four team sports. Does this have the same impact as if a rising star had come out? No. But it still is a significant watershed in that a door that always has been shut has now been nudged ajar. Somebody had to be the first. Good for Jason Collins. Update: There has been widespread praise and support for Collins on Twitter and then there as this from Dolphin Mike Wallace: 'All of them beautiful women in the world and guys want to mess with other guys ... I just don't understand.' Wallace soon deleted the Tweet and quickly apologized. Hey you're not all alone, Mike. Chris Broussard today on ESPN called being gay "an open rebellion to God." What century is this again!?

DOLPHINS' SUPER BOWL ODDS: Courtesy the good folks at Bovada, updated post-draft Super Bowl betting favorites are 49ers at 6-1, Broncos 15-2, Patriots 8-1 and Seahawks 9-1, with Miami a modest 40-1 (tied for 18th). Pats/Dolphins are 1-2 in AFC East well ahead of Jets at 75-1 and Bills at 100-1.

Dolphins' pre-training camp dates announced: Rookie minicamp will be May 3-5. OTA offseason workouts will be May 21-23, May 29-31 and June 3-6. And mandatory minicamp will be June 11-13.

Poll result: Dolfans pleased if not quite thrilled with draft: We asked for grades, almost 3,000 of you and counting have responded and a plurality of 48.4 percent gave Miami's draft a "B." "A" (26.1%) outpolled "C" (21.3%), while only 4.2% voted "D." So roughly three-quarters voted A or B. Is that fairly interpreted as pleased-but-not-quite-thrilled overall?

1aa1pain&gain 1aa1eddubTHE REMARKABLE ED DUBOIS: I met Ed (pictured) several years ago researching a 50-years-later column on a Miami team that won the 1958 Little League World Series. Ed was a member of that team who went on to a colorful career as a private investigator whose work in the 1990s partly inspired the new Mark Wahlberg/Dwayne Johnson film, Pain & Gain. Actor Ed Harris portrays the role of DuBois in the movie. DuBois, also a songwriter, has a new country-rock feel song called Pain & Gain. Click on the title to download.

UPDATED: MARLINS "SAD-O-METER": We have a new feature we'll update in the blog throughout the season as long as the Marlins' winning percentage is under .300. The New York Mets' 1aa1bbsad1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is widely regarded as the nadir in its class -- the single worst season in modern MLB history. Now, your Marlins are threatening that ignominy, despite a season-best two-game winning streak. (The sad face is now for Giancarlo Stanton getting injured yet again). Marlins Sad-O-Meter: Current record after last night's win, 7-19 (.269). Updated season pace, 43.62 wins, 118.38 losses.

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April 18, 2013

Dolphins' schedule: Here's early call on won-lost record; plus NBA 1R playoffs odds and my picks, Branden Albert, Heat MVOG, Brittney Griner & more

1aa1rsd1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 20. It is Record Store Day! Unshackle yourself from the chains, go find a local indie shop and hunt for some great vinyl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat MVOG poll, Heat-Bucks, Kiper plays Ireland, Marlins odds, Shane Larkin, reflections on Boston. 3) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

That ol' Peyton Magic?: Bovada tells us the Super Bowl champion Ravens will be a 7 1/2-point underdog at Denver in the 2013 NFL season opener, the first time in at least eight years the defending champ has been an opening 'dog.

DOLPHINS SCHEDULE IS READY FOR PRIME TIME: NFL schedules were finalized, and Miami will be under the lights thrice: Sept. 30 at New Orleans (a Monday), Oct. 31 here vs. Cincinnati (a Thursday), 1aa1dol13logoand Nov. 11 at Tampa Bay (a Monday). Dolphins open with two straight on road, Sept. 8 at Cleveland and Sept. 15 at Cleveland, with the home opener Sept. 22 at 4:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta. Bye week is Oct. 13. The full schedule:

September: 8--at Cleveland, 1 p.m.; 15--at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.; 22--vs. Atlanta, 4:05 p.m.; 30--at New Orleans, 8:40 p.m. October: 6--vs. Baltimore, 1 p.m.; 13--Bye; 20--vs. Buffalo, 1 p.m.; 27--at New England, 1 p.m.; 31--vs. Cincinnati, 8:25 p.m. November: 11--at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:40 p.m.; 17--vs. San Diego, 1 p.m.; 24--vs. Carolina, 1 p.m. December: 1--at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.; 8--at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.; 15--vs. New England, 1 p.m.; 22--at Buffalo, 1 p.m.; 29--vs. N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.

The quickie analysis: Six games clear favorites, four clear 'dogs, six in-between. Seeing 10-6 / playoffs as a legitimate early possibility. Not a great home schedule, beyond Patriots and champion Ravens. Although I guess we still include the Stinkin' Jets, even though they actually do stink now.

NBA FIRST-ROUND PLAYOFF ODDS, OUR PICKS: The 16 most deserving teams have made the playoffs that start this weekend. Or, as i like to say it: The 15 most deserving teams plus the Milwaukee Bucks. Our opening-round synopses and picks, starting with the East of course:

1aa1buckNo. 1 seed Miami Heat vs. No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks: Must we even go through the pretense that the losing-record Bucks will be anything other than ease-into-it fodder for the revving defending champions? No, we must not go through that pretense. Miami vs. Milwaukee in the first round is like the U.S. vs. Barbados in a war. Bovada betting title odds: Heat 2-3, Bucks 500-1. My pick: Heat in 4 games. [Click on Must Win for today's latest column from me on the Heat as it segues from regular season to playoffs]. 

No. 2 New York Knicks vs. No. 7 Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and wise Doc Rivers have enough left to make this interesting. Surely the recent Boston bombings will be an emotional factor. NYK and Carmelo bring too much, though. Title odds: Knicks 16-1, Celtics 66-1. My pick: Knicks in 7.

No. 3 Indiana Pacers vs. No. 6 Atlanta Hawks: Indy brings the annoying, cocky, defensive brats Miami wouldn't mind avoiding en route to the Finals. I give Hawks a better chance than most seem to but do not see an outright upset. Title odds: Pacers 25-1, Hawks 150-1. My pick: Pacers in 6.

No. 4 Brooklyn Nets vs. No. 5 Chicago Bulls: By seed and betting odds an even series. Tough to side against Deron Williams, but I like Chitown rising up even without Derrick Rose. Title odds: Nets 60-1, Bulls 60-1. My pick: Feels like an upset even if it isn't. Bulls in 7.

No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 8 Houston Rockets: James Harden vs. his former team makes the easy storyline, but Jim is surrounded by enough talent o top his ex's. No hiccup here to the inevitable OKC-Heat Finals rematch. Title odds: Thunder 17-4, Rockets 100-1. My pick: Thunder in 6.

No. 2 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers: Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol have been on the court together without Kobe Bryant five minutes all season. Five minutes! Just a gut feeling on this one. Title odds: Spurs 10-1, Lakers 40-1. My pick: Upset! Lakers in 7.  

No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Golden State Warriors: Denver has hardly seemed to miss Danilo Gallinari. I give Golden State less a first-round shot than any team not named Milwaukee. Title odds: Nuggets 25-1, Warriors 100-1. My pick: Nuggets in 5.

No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies: I think a strong Memphis defense will slow LAC into a haf-court mode and take away the Clips' run-and-lob preferences. Title odds: Clippers 25-1, Grizzlies 40-1. My pick: Upset! Grizzlies in 6.

NOT SURE BRANDEN ALBERT IS WORTH IT: The Dolphins are negotiating to agree to terms with 1aa1albertband then trade for Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert -- even though coach Andy Reid later told KC media his team had not granted Miami permission for such discussions. Hmm. Anyway, the issue to me is whether Albert (pictured) is worth the second-round pick being talked about. He is 28, a pretty solid starter but nothing more. Has not made a Pro Bowl in five seasons. Has had sporadic back issues. He'll be wanting Jake Long money, but is he worth it? Is he that much better than Jonathan Martin to spend that much and also yield a high pick? I'd be more inclined to make the deal if it was for the lower (54th overall) of Miami's two 2R picks; the other is 42nd overall.

Poll result: Battier, Birdman lead Heat 'MVOG' vote: Who is the Heat's Most Valuable Other Guy? (Meaning non-Big 3). We asked, and you anointed Shane Battier (40.4 percent) and Chris "Birdman" Andersen (30.3%) as your clear picks. Results surprised me a bit. I thought starter Mario Chalmers (12.7%) and star-reserve Ray Allen (11.3%) would fare much better. The other four guys on the ballot (Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis) had negligible support.

GOOD FOR BRITTNEY GRINER: The Baylor star-turned-No. 1 pick in the recent WNBA draft has revealed 1aa1brittneyshe is gay. She didn't "announce" it. She mentioned it casually. She was not defensive, flip or ambiguous. It was as if she was discussing the weather. Perfect. America has been waiting for a prominent, active professional team-sports star to come out. We have one  now. It isn't the headline maker it would be if it were an NFL or NBA star -- far from it. But that's OK. Griner's honesty (and to a degree bravery) makes it that much easier for her male counterparts to someday prove themselves as strong. You're out there, guys. We're waiting...

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February 17, 2013

Miracle Canes win again!; plus LeBron schools Jordan, Battier tops Wade, Giancarlo's smart play, Robbie Rogers' gayness & more

1aa1hardaway[1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17. Ex-Heater Tim Hardaway (pictured), eligible for first time, is one of 12 finalists for Basketball Hall of Fame. I had doubts he was a first-ballot guy but think he'll make it because only Gary Payton (who ended his career with Miami) outshines him on ballot. 2) I get the feeling these allegations against Ryan Braun are going to end badly for him. His previous test-positive for PEDs, though overturned on a technicality, makes it tougher to believe his link to Miami's Biogenesis clinic is innocent. 3) Note: Our Heat Big 5@50 feature will appear as play resumes following the All-Star break. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron vs. Michael poll, UM hoops, Dolphins logo, D-Wade's socks, Marco Rubio, kangaroos. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Random Evidence my today's latest Sunday notes column, leading with (what else?) the wonder of LeBron.

Soon-to-be No. 2-ranked Miracle Canes win again!: Tonight it was a 45-43 last-minute triumph at Clemson, a tough place to play, and the nature of the win underlined the fateful feel of this season for the No. 3-ranked Canes. Miami needed a late three-point shot from Kenny Kadji and a beneficial/debatable charging call against Clemson to rally from four down. UM is now 12-0 in the ACC with a 13th straight win. Amazing. Canes will rise to No. 2 in the polls on Monday.  

ALL NET: LEBRON SHOOTS DOWN THE RING OBSESSION: Michael Jordan has won six championships. If you don't believe it, just ask him. He apparently is the mayor of the rings-are-the-thing wing of judging

1aa1kingwho's 1aa1allstarthe best in sports. Thus he said Kobe Bryant trumps LeBron James because five (rings) is better than one. "Right on!" agreed Magic Johnson in a Tweet, or words to that effect. Well, it's nonsense and the only people who don't seem to know it are the athletes whose self-worth seems fundamentally rooted in the number of rings they possess. Miami is particularly unreceptive to this thinking, in that we are home to perhaps the greatest player in any sport to not have a ring (Dan Marino), and are somewhat resistent to the idea that, say, Trent Dilfer is in any way greater because he does. LeBron gave voice to this lunacy Friday from NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, in addressing Jordan's statement. He noted, reasonably, fairly, that Bill Russell's 11 rings does not mean he is "greater" than Jordan. He noted, with a bull's-eye, that greats like Charles Barkley never won a ring while passengers such as Jud Buechler (a miniscule reserve on Jordan's Bulls) did. Rings do not or at least should not define an athlete. All-round individual excellence and dominance in one's era should. By that standard, LeBron stands with anyone, anytime.

Poll result: Surprise! Take LeBron now over Jordan in his prime: Few of our poll results surprise me, but this did. A clear majority of 64.1 percent said they'd rather have LeBron James on their team right now than Michael Jordan in his prime. Yes, Heat fans surely read this blog in greater number than other teams' fans. Yet the percentage favoring LeBron was only slightly higher (66.4%) in the state of Florida, where a greater percentage of Heat fans might be assumed.

BATTIER BEATS WADE AT SOMETHING: lists its Top 75 Players in NCAA Tournament History to mark that event's 75th anniversary, and the Heat's Shane Battier (Duke) ranks 34th to Dwyane Wade's (Marquette) 65th. Battier averaged 22.5 points/10.2 rebounds for the 2001 champions and was Final Four MVP; Wade had a triple-double vs. Kentucky in the regional final to get his team to the Final Four. The list's top five: Lew Alcindor (UCLA), Bill Walton (UCLA), Christian Laettner (Duke), Bill Russell (San Francisco) and Magic Johnson (Michigan State). Other notables include Glen Rice (Michigan) 20th, Isiah Thomas (Indiana) 22nd, Joakim Noah (Florida) 47th, and Michael Jordan (North Carolina) 57th.

1aa1gstantonSTANTON'S SMART GRACIOUSNESS: As Marlins players reported Friday for the full start of spring training Giancarlo Stanton had his pulpit to rehash his disappointment if he chose. To decry the latest fire-sale as he had when it happened a few months ago. Instead Stanton showed maturity and leadership, said he had "turned the page" and would not be "pouting." Traded-away Jose Reyes, now a Blue Jay, regurgitated his disappointment on Friday and said he "felt sorry" for Stanton, but Stanton had the perfect response. "Why?" he said. "I'm in the big leagues. I play a game for a living." Stanton's stance serves him well as the face of the franchise. Nobody wants another Hanley Ramirez in terms of attitude. Pragmatically, Stanton's professional approach also will impress other teams who'll try to pry him from the Marlins. Here's hoping they fail. It's a long-shot that Miami and Stanton would agree on a long-term contract extension, largely because of Jeffrey Loria, but that hope is a lot of what Marlins fans have to hang onto right now.

ON CRISTOBAL'S UM FUTURE: Newly hired Hurricanes assistant Mario Cristobal interviewing for Alabama's O-line job surprised no one at UM, least of all Al Golden. A source on the staff tells us Cristobal made it very clear in taking the job that he wants another head-coaching position as soon as possible, and knows that won't be at Miami if Golden's committment is as solid as it seems. Cristobal seeks a stepping stone, and being on Nick Saban's championship staff is about the best place for any upwardly mobile assistant to be.

ROBBIE ROGERS LEAVES SPORTS STILL WANTING, AND WAITING: Former U.S. National Team 1aa1rrogersmidfielder Robbie Rogers said this week he is gay and that he is retiring from soccer, at age 25. Good for him for his honesty. The essence of a person, which includes one's sexuality, is bigger than one's occupation, and a person should come out on his own terms and timetable. Sports is still waiting, though, for the first major American team-sport athlete to reveal himself as gay while still an active player. Particular bravery will be required. To make the revelation in a post-career autobiography or upon retiring is fine, but the first athlete to take this stand in mid-career will be heroic in terms of breaking down barriers and fomenting acceptance. Who will it be? And when?

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January 14, 2013

The Super Bowl matchup you most want: New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphin$, Heat Big 5@35, Snoop Dogg at Last Supper, Jodie Foster & more

Live blog chat: Thanks to all who joined our live blog chat today. We do it every most Mondays 1-2 p.m. Wall to wall today. Crammed almost 90 Q's/A's into 60 minutes. Not bad. My digits are tired. Thanks again.

1aa1corv14[1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 14. Heat's championship ceremony at White House scheduled for Jan. 28. As big a basketball fan as the president is, bet Obama is looking forward to the visit as much as the players. 2) Chevrolet revealed its 2014 Corvette today (pictured). Not sure, but thinking I might have to go get me one. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

NFL FINAL FOUR VARIETY: WHICH SUPER BOWL MATCHUP YOU LIKE BEST?: These NFL playoffs took a hit with Denver's ouster. The league and TV could not have done 1aa1finalfour 1aa1finalfour2better, for interest or ratings, than with Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. Nevertheless next Sunday's AFC and NFC championship games present some interesting combinations, with all four teams offering something unique. Atlanta gives us the only team of the Final Four after its first Super Bowl win. Baltimore gives us the possible storybook ending for the retiring great ex-Cane, Canton-bound Ray Lewis in. New England gives us Tom Brady and Bill Belichick trying to reawaken their dynasty. And San Francisco gives us the electric Colin Kaepernick off his record-setting performance. Ravens vs. Niners additionally would give us the Bro Bowl: coaching brothers Jim vs. John Harbaugh. Pitcured left to right: Lewis, Brady, Kaepernick and Matt Ryan. Which possible Super Bowl matchup do you most want to see and why?

Super Bowl odds: Courtesy of our friends at Bovada, Patriots an even-odds 1-1 to win the Super Bowl, followed by Niners 2-1, Falcons 11-2 and Ravens 15-2. Matchup picks are Pats-49ers 5-6, Pats-Falcons 9-4, Ravens-Niners 6-1 and Ravens-Falcons 9-1.

DOLPHINS WANT YOUR MONEY. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross today laid out a plan for about $400 million in stadium improvements and seeks about half of that in public money. Roughly $100 mill of the cost would go to erecting a giant canopy to shield patrons from the sun or rain. Getting the public money will be a tough go for three reasons: 1) I think most fans (taxpayers) think the stadium is fine as is. 2) Attracting a future Super Bowl, the main reason for the money-grab, is not nearly as important to fans (taxpayers) as it is to local politicos. And 3) what the Marlins did makes this a hard climate for the Dolphins.

HEAT BIG 5 @ 35: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so this season 1aa1heat5we started this new one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's a top-five cumulative ranking of the players having the biggest overall impact this season based on eight statistical categories. We continue with The Big 5 @ 35 Games (24-11:

Rank (@30)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   1,313.1

2 (2)   Chris Bosh   878.8

3 (3)   Dwyane Wade   835.4

4 (4)   Ray Allen   545.1

5 (5)   Mario Chalmers   525.1

Bubble: Udonis Haslem, 345.5

1aa1snoopFUNNY VS. BLASPHEMY: What is funny to me might be sacrilege to others, but I am willing to push that line on occasion, because as a general rule I think people take themselves too seriously and that "lighten up" applies to most everybody. Here, above, an animated Snoop Dogg at the Last Supper is amusing to me. Not even sure why. Just is. I may be wrong.

GREG COTE'S FREE TIPS FOR PROPER LIVING (GCFTFPL): One in a series. Today: Backing in. Drivers, 1aa1backinwhen in a crowded parking lot surrounded by other drivers all jockeying for a spot, do not back in. It is unnecessary, and rightfully annoys your fellow drivers, who immediately I.D. you as a self-absorbed jerk even if you are not. The only time backing in is considered necessary or at least prudent is A) when unloading from the car or truck, B) when burglarizing a home (so neighbors can't see your license plate), or C) when committing an armed robbery such as a bank heist conducive to a rapid getaway.

JODIE FOSTER AT THE GLOBES: I'm not sure I have ever seen or heard a celebrity come out as gay quite as carefully or artfully -- or defiantly --  as Jodie Foster did last night at the Golden Globes. She (sort of) confirmed what was widely known, while also blasting the culture that all but forces celebs out of the closet, like it or not. Very interesting. Best few minutes of the night.  

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

October 02, 2012

Diamond in rough season: Marlins MVP vote (w/ poll); plus Dolphins sign Jabar Gaffney, D-Wade changes shoes, Cabrera/Yaz, pix 'n fantasy, SOPY Top 10 & more

[1) It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2. Find results of our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter -- a number surprisingly high -- in blogpost directly below this new one. 2) Visit or video channel at YouTube/TheGregCote and see our latest mini-commentary on Saturday's big day by QB Stephen Morris and the Canes. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

MARLINS MVP: FINDING THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: A miserable Marlins season expires with games tonight and Wednesday, and most disappointed fans are grateful for it to end. From the Ozzie Guillen/Fidel mess to the Hanley trade to the injuries to Heath Bell to all the losing -- what a bleepin' nightmare. I know that when I 1aa1miaminvite you to select a team Most Valuable Player the inclination might be to vacate the award in disgust and say nobody deserves it. But we'll be bigger than that. (Won't we?) I think three men have most stood out above the mess. Mark Buerhle has been the starting pitcher they thought they were getting: Solid, consistent, 13-13 despite poor run support, a team-leading 202 innings and 3.74 ERA. Shortstop Jose Reyes has lived up to expectations, too: .284 with 37 doubles, 11 triples and 38 stolen bases. And outfielder Mike Stanton, despite missing a month injured, hit .290 with 37 homers and 86 RBIs. Who is the diamond in the rough season? Vote for the Marlins' 2012 MVP and say why.

JABAR GAFFNEY AN UPGRADE FOR DOLPHINS: Farewell, Legadu Naanee. If only you had more catches than vowels. Dolphins upgraded today by replacing Naanee with veteran Jabar Gaffney, 31, the ex-Gator. Should slot in as a nifty third WR after Brian "Sudden Star" Hartline and Davone Bess. Gaffney's past two seasons (with Broncos and Redskins) were his best, totaling 133 catches for 1,822 yards (13.5 average) and seven TDs.

D-WADE DUMPS NIKE FOR LA-NING: Heat star Dwyane Wade has left the Nike Jordan brand in favor of Beijing-based La-Ning in terms of shoe and apparel endorsements. Change effective Oct. 1.

Heat ranks among ESPN Top 500 players: LeBron James No. 1, of course, Dwyane Wade No. 8 and Chris Bosh 18. Others ranked: Ray Allen 64, Mario Chalmers 104, Shane Battier 107, Udonis Haslem 129, Joel Anthony 209, Mike Miller 236, James Jones 252, Norris Cole 256 and Rashard Lewis 257. What jumps out is Lewis' low ranking. Guaranteed, Heat expects a healthy-again Lewis to perform like a top-100 guy. Wouldn't surprise me if he won the starting power-forward role.

Poll result: Three rings the magic number for Heat's Big 3: In a recent blogpost we asked how many NBA championships it will take for the Heat 's Big 3 era to be fully seen as a success, and a plurality of 46.6 percent said three. Two rings got 26.7%, four or more got 17.5%, and only 9.2% said the one title already achieved.

ON CABRERA, YAZ AND THE TRIPLE CROWN: Carl Yastrzemski, last man to win baseball's Triple Crown 1aa1cabmin 1967, was my first boyhood idol. I never particularly liked Miguel Cabrera, the ex-Marlin. Now the Tigers' Cabrera (pictured) is poised to win the Triple Crown. With two games left he is plus-4 in average, plus-1 in homers and comfortably up in RBIs. I have mixed emotions, but ultimately I think Cabrera would be a worthy successor. Among active players only Albert Pujols has had a start to his career better than Cabrera's, and even that is arguable. Cooperstown beckons. If only he'd remained a Marlin. If only.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: Had a bit of a bounceback with my picks, but my fantasy slump continued. NFL predix: I went 10-5 straight-up last week and 7-7-1 vs. the spread, a modest rebound both ways, but numbers to neither encourage boasting nor chagrin. You killed me with those five picks last night, Romo. Way to come up big on a big stage, you Gagmeister. Greg's Lobos: We lost, 149-122, not getting enough beyond Aaron Rodgers' 35 points. You're usually in trouble when your second-leading scorer is your defense (Houston, 23).

AMERICA'S RYDER CUP COLLAPSE: I love to play golf (badly), like it as a TV sport and was riveted by the weekend U.S. vs. Europe Ryder Cup even though the match-play can be confusing. How could the Americans blow a 4 1/2-point lead entering Sunday!? What a choke. Seriously. Captain Davis Love III, face of the team Tiger Woods and culprit/goats like Jim Furyk should all be embarrassed. Get outta my country!

1aa1lilwLIL WAYNE AND ELVIS: Rapper Lil Wayne has topped Elvis Presley's record for most charted songs on the Billboard Hot 100, with 109. However a large asterisk is required. Only 42 of Wayne's songs were essentially his; all the rest found him credited as contributing, often in a minor way. Pictured is Elvis. Nah. It's Lil.

BIRK: RHYMES WITH...: Ravens center Matt Birk has broadcast his narrow-mindedness by writing an anti-gay marriage editorial in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, apparently in reaction to teammate Brendan Ayanbadejo's public comments in support of marriage equality. I remember the simpler days when teammates argued about play-calling, not politics. Birk argues his stance does not represent homophobia. I guess it only represents him thinking he is somehow better than or at least entitled to more rights than gay people. I leave you with the delightful irony of a man with Birk's views making his living, as a football center, with another man's hands constantly under his crotch.

SOPY RANKINGS (WEEK 5): CANES' MORRIS LEAPS TO NO. 2 OFF RECORD DAY: This college football season marks the blog debut of our weekly State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, which I 1aa1bjdcall the "Sunshine State Heisman" until a Heisman lawyer tells me to stop. Our chart encompasses the most productive seasons of any quarterback, running back or receiver from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida and FSU, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. (Note: Rankings consider only passing, rushing and receiving, not returns). Our formula awards one point per offensive yard gained running or receiving and a half-point per yard passing, plus six bonus points for touchdowns thrown or scored. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. After Week 5 it's B.J. Daniels of South Florida (pictured) on top for a third straight week, with UM's Stephen Morris leaping to second after his record-setting 566 yards passing. The SOPY Top 10 entering Week 6:

Rank (LW)     Player, Team-pos.     SOPY Pts. Week=Year

1 (1)     B.J. Daniels, South Florida-qb     155.5 = 985.5

2 (4)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb     315 = 902.5

3 (2)     E.J. Manuel, FSU-qb     136 = 830.5   

4 (3)     Jake Medlock, FIU-qb     DNP = 616.5

5 (6)     Chris Thompson, FSU-rb     98 = 606

6 (7)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb     69 = 542

7 (5)     Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb     BYE = 527

8 (9)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb     145.5 = 521.5

9 (--)     Phillip Dorsett, Miami-wr     208 = 484

10 (--)     Graham Wilbert, FAU-qb     96 = 460.5 

Bubble: Mike Gillislee, Florida-rb, 446

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

BIEBER VOMITS ON STAGE: Hours after the Dolphins left Arizona Justin Bieber performed in Glendale Sunday and vomited on stage. Click here if you dare. The teen- and preteen female audience didn't seem to mind. In fact I hear Bieber's expelled chunks are now selling on eBay.

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

September 18, 2012

On Jeff Ireland: Vote now; plus Beinfest out?, state of our Big 4 teams, Chad Johnson, Dolphin WR prospects, Ozzie on the (other) f-word & more

[1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21. Thanks to the Dan Le Batard show on 790 The Ticket for having us on in-studio. Fun. More to come? Stay tuned. 2) Visit our video channel at YouTube/TheGregCote and join us on Twitter @gregcote. Promise to resume the videos soon.

STATE OF THE FRANCHISE: DOLPHINS, HEAT, MARLINS, PANTHERS: In this latest column by me, online now and shipping to today's/Wednesday's pulp editions, I offer a state-of-the-franchise report for our four major professional teams, grading and ranking them 1aa1jeffitop to bottom. We consider management, success, prognosis, everything. I thought about adding a complementary poll here but decided it would be pointless because, logically, the Heat would dominate as our best-run pro team. Instead I offer a poll on South Florida's biggest sports lightning rod, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, who was in the news again this week when a Dolfan confronted him, said he should "fire himself," and Ireland in turn called his critic an "asshole," later expressing regrets. There is a perception Ireland is extremely unpopular with fans. Leave it to me to find out. Vote in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Mixed, lukewarm support for Ozzie Guillen: In our previous blog poll we asked if you wanted Ozzie Guillen back as Marlins manager (you can still vote), and 49.1 percent said yes, 45.1% said no and 5.8% were unsure. Interesting. Results about as polarizing as the outspoken Guillen tends to be.

REPORT: LARRY BEINFEST TO BE REPLACED: USA Today is reporting the Marlins plan to replace president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest with assistant Dan Jennings. Beinfest has been GM or president since 2002. The move would not be a surprise. The same report indicated manager Ozzie Guillen likely would be back. No surprise there, either. Owner Jeffrey Loria tonight called the Beinfest report a "ridiculous" rumor. Which is not the same as simply denying it.

CHAD JOHNSON SPEAKS!: The former Dolphins receiver spoke last night on the 9 p.m. premiere of Showtime's Inside the NFL, and we brought you excerpts first. Highlights: 1) Johnson says, "The consequences to that altercation with my wife was me being released" -- even though coach Joe Philbin did not tell him that directly. "That was the reason. There is no need to blow smoke up my ass." 2) Johnson reveals he is taking anger-management classes, says, "Chad has to work on Chad." 3) He says he will work to win back the wife who divorced him.

DOLPHINS DRAFT PROSPECTS AT WR: Be surprised if wide receiver wasn't the Dolphins thinking right now for a No.1 draft pick in 2013. With that in mind, I note the three WRs listed on Mel Kiper's new top-25 "Big Board" are spaced apart enough that Miami, no matter how it finishes, likely would have a shot at one of them. The names to remember: Tennessee's Justin Hunter (pegged 7th overall), Cal's Keenan Allen (17th) and USC's Robert Woods (25th). 

STANLEY C. PANTHER OUT OF WORK: I half expect to see Panthers mascot Stanley C. Panther on a 1aa1stanleycwest Broward intersection holding a cardboard sign reading, 'Will Caper For Food.' Panthers have temporarily laid off their team mascot related to the NHL lockout threatening the season. Is there anything sadder than an out-of-work mascot? I'd imagine Stanley C. Panther must now be included as one of Mitt Romney's non-tax-paying 47 percent. I'm just saying.

ON STEVE SABOL: The NFL Films leader passed away today at age 69. NFL Films' dramatic, intimate packaging and presenting of the NFL was a big part of the league's emergence as America's favorite sport. It also was precursor to all-access shows such as HBO's Hard Knocks and Showtime's The Franchise. R.I.P. to an important figure in the history of sports and television.

ON YUNEL ESCOBAR: The Blue Jays shortstop is suspended three games for wearing an eye-black message written in Spanish (pictured) that used an anti-gay slur. He said it was meant as a 1aa1escobarjoke and "not meant to be offensive." Some suggest it's a cultural thing, that in the machismo of many Hispanics homophobic language is more accepted. I think that sounds like an insult to the majority of Hispanics who know bigotry is wrong in any language. What gets me about stuff like this is not just that Escobar might feel this way. It's that he (evidently) thought wearing an anti-gay slur on his face in a televised game would not, um, be noticed? Leaves us to wonder which is worse: Prejudice. Or outright obliviousness.

Ozzie weighs in on use of gay slur: Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen admits he is comfortable using the anti-gay slur "faggot," the word that got Escobar (see above) in trouble. Guillen once was disciplined for calling a Chicago columnist that. Yesterday he explained it as a cultural thing, saying, "In my house we call [each other] that word every 20 seconds. I've got three kids. For us it's like, 'What's up, bro?'" Ozzie lives his life unfiltered, which is fine. But Marlins ownership/management, in reviewing this season and deciding Guillen's future, must judge not just his managerial skills, but how he represents the team in the community. See Steve Rothaus' excellent Herald blog, Gay South Florida, for more on this. 

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

July 16, 2012

Go, Molli, go! (A special plea); plus vote for 2 best Olympic sports (poll), radio's Heavy 100, UM/FIU football both in 40s, Heat, Marlins, Paternos & more

GO, MOLLI, GO!: If you haven't heard of Molli Serrano's story, it will be worth your time. She was featured on the Today show last week. I knew her story before that 1aa1mollibike 1aa1mollitodaybecause she is my neighbor in Plantation, same street, four houses down, a 38-year-old married mother of twins. I make a living in the company of great athletes, but Molli might be the most extraordinary athlete I know. Isn't courage how we respond when life deals us an awful hand? A year ago Molli underwent major surgery for pancreatic cancer, and six months of radiation and chemotherapy treatments -- all the while continuing with her serious passion for biking, running and swimming. Now she has a chance to compete in October in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii if she receives enough votes in a "Kona Inspired" contest. Voting ends today/Wednesday, July 18. Click on Team Molli to hear her story in her words, then please vote to help her dream happen, and forward this to others who also may wish to vote. I thank you.

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 18. Scroll down for Olympics poll immediately below. 2) UM dismisses senior safety Ray-Ray Armstrong. His own bad decisions caused it. What a shame. 3) Watch this kid try to steal a PGA Tour player's golf ball during yesterday's tournament. 4) Cigar smokers: Just finished a nice CAO La Traviata, a good bargain stick at $5. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

WHAT SPORTS ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE SUMMER OLYMPICS?: Athletes have begun to arrive in London. The Summer Games begin in only seven days (yes, there is competition in soccer and archery prior to the 1aa1londonolysJuly 27 Opening Ceremony), which means excitement begins to build in those who give a crap. I have always viewed the Olympics as a lot of stuff to fast-forward past -- sorry badminton, canoe and trampoline et al -- interspersed with sports of actual (and rather intense) interest. It has been said gymnastics, swimming and track are the Big 3 Summer Olympics sports. I'll be drawn to soccer and especially U.S. men's basketball as well. (Loved watching LeBron score 30 in that 80-69 U.S. exhibition win over Brazil Monday night). What competition in London are you most anticipating? Vote for your top TWO. If you vote for a sport not listed, pray tell which one. (It's canoe, right?) And remember, to not vote at all would be un-American, or un- whatever you are. That's why this poll doesn't have snarky, anti-Olympics options such as "Wake me when it's over!" or "Bring on the NFL!" After all what is the Olympics all about if not patriotism and national pride? If you don't vote in this poll you might as well just go ahead and burn the flag right now. (And I know you're better than that!)

LE BATARD RATED NO. 13 YAKKETY-YAK MAN IN U.S.: Talkers magazine, a talk-radio industry pub, is 1aa1danlebout with its 2012 Heavy Hundred, which it calls the 100 "most important" sports-talk hosts in America, and 790 The Ticket's Dan Le Batard (pictured) is rated 13th -- tops in the Greater Miami market. Top three overall are Mike Francesa (WFAN/New York), Jim Rome and Dan Patrick. Other national notables are Mike & Mike 6th, Tony Kornheiser 8th and Colin Cowherd 22nd. Other So-Fla yakkers inhaling Le Batard's dust are WQAM's Dan Sileo 32nd, 'QAM's Joe Rose 49th and 790's Stugotz & Marc Hochman 51st.

Irvin leaves WQAM: Michael Irvin bid his listeners goodbye Monday, and WQAM is right to make the move. Michael is a good guy and had a pretty good show but it insults the local market to have a man living in Dallas doing Miami radio.

MARLINS AND TRADE DEADLINE: Earlier I wrote, "Baseball trade deadline is the end of this month. Is it too late to trade the Marlins -- I mean the owner, manager, entire roster, everybody -- and just start over?" But the frustrating-to-watch Fish are showing signs of life again, 3-2 sinec the all-star break after last night's win at the Cubs fueled by Carlos Lee's grand slam. (Meanwhile, Ozzie Guillen lashed out during Sunday's game at Nats phenom Bryce Harper for using too much pine tar. A mastery of lip-reading is not reqired to discern Giullen calling Harper "a piece of s---." Click here for the YouTube vid).

1aa1cokerlCANES FOOTBALL: "WE'RE NO. 43! WE'RE...!": Bleacher Report, a website I seldom visit because its has that annoying, time-consuming slideshow theme, has come out with a preseason ranking of all 124 FBS football teams and Miami's Hurricanes are ranked an uninspiring 43rd -- barely ahead of FIU's 49th. Other state-school rankings: FSU 4th, Florida 25th, South Florida 29th, UCF 44th and FAU 114th. The predictable top-three: Alabama-LSU-Southern Cal. Dead last: UMass. Almost dead last at 121st: Texas-San Antonio led by ex-Canes coach Larry Coker (pictured).

1aa1lebronwishMORE PROOF LEBRON IS NOW THE GREATEST PERSON ON EARTH: The man America used to hate continues his inexorable move toward sainthood with this: Granting the wish of a cancer-stricken boy. As part of ESPN's currently running "My Wish" series, Georgia teen Thiago D'Elia (pictured with his hero) gets the star treatment from the Heat and LeBron James. Click here for the video.

Heat in China: Club announced it will play a pair of preseason exhibitions in China against the L.A. Clippers, on Oct. 11 in Beijing and Oct. 14 in Shangai.

Heat Summer Leaguers are kicking a--!: Heat younguns swamped the Lakers' children, 106-56, yesterday in Summer league play in Las Vegas, a SL record for win margin. Norris Cole led with 13 points, nine assists. Miami had beaten Toronto, 71-59, in its first of five Summer League games, topped by Terrel Harris' 14 points. 

FAMILY OF JOE PATERNO TO LAUNCH OWN INVESTIGATION: I could not type the preceding headline without laughing out loud and being angry and sad all at once. But it's true. The Paterno family thinks 1aa1bannerthe damning Freeh Report -- a credible, detailed, independent, months-long investigation -- was incomplete and so will appoint its own investigators. Wild guess: The family report will suggest the late Joe Pa did what he could to stop the monster Jerry Sandusky and that Paterno's superiors are most to blame. Dear Paterno family: This is pathetic. Your patriarch's name is forever damaged beyond repair (see below). At least deal with it with a little grace. Jesus. [Tuesday update: A plane pulling the banner pictured flew over Penn State today].

Poll result: Landslide! Paterno statue should come down: We asked in the previous blogpost (you can still vote) if Penn State should take down the statue honoring Paterno, and man did you answer. It was 80.5 percent yes, 14.6% no and 4.9% undecided. (Votes cast in Florida were 81.7 - 13.7 - 4.6. Votes from Pennsylvania were 79.0 - 15.7 - 5.3).    

DAMN YANKEES EVEN BEAT RED SOX IN STAMPS: U.S. Postal Service issues four new 1aa1joedcommemorative baseball stamps late this week, and based on preorders the Joe DiMaggio stamp edged the Ted Williams stamp in popularity, 421,266 to 417,066, with the Willie Stargell and Larry Doby stamps well behind. The DiMaggio stamp pictures Joe canoodling Marilyn Monroe. Just kidding. The stamp is shown. Quick thought: Maybe the USPS wouldn't be as close to bankruptcy as it is if it put out fewer commemorative stamps.

AND IN TODAY'S DUMBASS-ATHLETE FACEOFF...: We present Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, arrested in a road rage incident in Miami Beach, vs. Knicks guard Jason Kidd, busted for DUI in New York.

1aa1chickfilaTIME TO BOYCOTT CHICK-FIL-A?: It has come to my attention (belatedly, I feel), that the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A has been making an awful lot of political donations to groups that would fall under the broad umbrella "anti-gay." Click here for a backgrounder, and please pass it along. The corporation running Chick-fil-A has a right to its political leanings. So do consumers have a right to not patronize restaurants that are serving up a heapin' side of intolerance.

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

April 23, 2012

What is week's top South Florida sports story: Dolphins draft, Heat playoffs or Panthers' run? Vote now (with poll); plus Dan Marino, Stephen Weiss, gay rodeos & more

[1) It is Wednesday, April 25. Dolphins waived DE Phillip Merling, the 2008 draft bust, underlining the need for pass-rush help in this week's draft. 2) It was St. George's Day. He's the patron saint of England. So there. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Terrible Tuesday! Cats, Marlins, Heat all fall: Panthers fall in OT at New Jersey, 3-2, forcing a Thursday Game 7 back here in their NHL first-round playoff series. Marlins lose at the Mets, 2-1, the bullpen sabotaging Josh Johnson yet again. And Heat fall at Boston, 78-66, with starters resting for both sides including all of Miami's Big 3. Heat leading scorer: Dexter Pittman with 12 points. No, seriously.  

WELCOME TO MIAMI'S BIGGEST SPORTS WEEK: We have begun the single greatest week of the year intersecting all four of our major pro teams. Here's why, after which a poll will invite your opinion on what the week's biggest event is. Remember this not a favorite-team vote but rather biggest-event. Vote and say why:

DOLPHINS DRAFT: The first round on Thursday night ushers in three days of the NFL draft, and the 1aa1doldraftDolphins, set to select No. 8 overall, will pick Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill if a consensus of experts' "mock drafts" proves correct. A big if, that one. Team could also target pass-rush help or a receiver to replace departed Brandon Marshall. In any case, the pressure is on GM Jeff Ireland to have a great draft and make amends for an offseason that has been a calamity of disappointment. (Watch for my annual Mock Draft online late Tuesday and in Wednesday's paper).

HEAT START PLAYOFFS: After two more games (at Boston tonight, at Washington Thursday), the Heat will 1aa1heatwhitehotbegin their quest for an NBA championship when the playoffs start this coming weekend. Miami will host the first two first-round games, likely against the New York Knicks at this point in what would be a reprise of a once-great rivalry. As LeBron James soars over a presumptive MVP season, a different kind of "sore" plagues Miami, with Dwyane Wade sidelined and Chris Bosh recently out. Both should be ready for the playoffs. Better be is more like it.

PANTHERS PLAYOFF RUN: Cats are up 3-2 on the Devils in their NHL first-round series and will try to close 1aa1flacatsredit out tonight at New Jersey and avoid a Game 7 that would be back here on Thursday. Florida is in the playoffs for the first time since 2000 and trying to advance beyond the first round for the first time 1aa1ratssince 1996, giving the Cats' postseason run a more historic context than the Heat's fully expected appearance. (Meanwhile, the league has made Panthers stop selling rubber rats at the arena. It's an outrage! But if there's a Game 7, I have a feeling they'll show up just the same. Rat scratch fever! Power to the people!)

MARLINS: OK, it isn't as big as the playoffs or the NFL draft, but the Marlins play a three-game series at the division-rival Mets tonight through Thursday, then return home to their new ballpark for four games vs. Arizona starting Friday.

1aa1danmTO MAKE YOU FEEL REALLY OLD, DAN MARINO IS NOW AN AARP AMBASSADOR: Dolphins icon Dan Marino, who arrived in Miami as little more than a kid in 1983, recently turned 50 and is now the newly named "men's life ambassador" for AARP, the 50-and-older advocacy group that now goes simply by the acronym. Click on Marino Talks Health And Wellness to visit Dan's new AARP bio page, which includes a video. Click on the video. It might be the only time you get to see Marino walking on a treadmill and in his kitchern preparing a salad.

FACE OF THE PANTHERS: STEPHEN WEISS: And our blog's Face of the Franchise seres is complete as 1aa1catsweissPanthers center Stephen Weiss, pictured, joins the previously elected Ozzie Guillen (Marlins), Dwyane Wade (Heat) and Jake Long (Dolphins). Weiss -- whose team plays at New Jersey Tuesday in Game 6 of a first-round NHL playoff series the Cats lead 3-2 -- dominated with 60.3 percent of the vote, overwhelming runnerup Ed Jovanovski (15.3) and GM Dale Tallon (7.5). Thanks to the thousands who voted in our four polls!

KISS-99.9 AND JONI MITCHELL: This morning I happened across a sad snippet of banter on KISS-99.9, the country radio station. They were talking about Taylor Swift maybe portraying Joni Mitchell in an upcoming movie, and none of the three banterers had heard of Joni Mitchell (despite her evidently being popular enough to be portrayed in a movie). Worse, their ignorance was utterly shameless. I felt like screaming at my radio. This isn't a generational thing. How can you work in the radio/music business and not have heard of Joni Mitchell!? (It would be like a young sports writer having never heard of Kenny Stabler or John Havlicek). You needn't be a big fan. You just need a general awareness about you. Mitchell, of course, was a popular, mainstream and immensely influential and critically acclaimed pop/folk singer in the late 1960s and through the '70s who still performs. Her hit songs included "Both Sides Now," "Woodstock" and "Big Yellow Taxi." She is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The preceding is anecdotal of why I rarely listen to the radio. I immediately pressed my CD button (escaping to Ziggy Marley), and let the blissfully ignorant KISS crew disappear into the ether.

YEREMIAH BELL TO JETS?: Waived Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell is visiting the Jets. Of course he is!

ON METTA WORLD PEACE: Did you see the Lakers' Metta World Peace earn that ejection Sunday for violenting elbowing the Thunder's James Harden? How can a player who renamed himself after World Peace behave like that. I think we should go back to calling him Ron Artest. Or better yet, A--hole.

1aa1gayrodeoSTEER-DECORATING AT THE GAY RODEO: I occasionally like to explore the line in writing that separates acceptable from politically incorrect, and the weekend's Florida Gay Rodeo Association event in Davie offers a ripe platform. If I tried in my wise-ass Sunday notes column to get in a line such as, "Gay-rodeo events will include bull-riding, calf-roping and goat makeovers" -- which I very well might, and in fact, have -- an editor would flag is as a stereotype offensive to gays. But in the actual rodeo just held, in addition to standard events, competition included "steer decorating" and "goat dressing." So I marvel (again) how it is OK for gays to embrace their campy side -- and it should be -- but those same references by the straight media (a mention of drag queens, for example) are seen as offensive stereotypes. A gay rodeo including a steer-decorating event amounts to "having fun," but if steer-decorating is my punchline in a good-natured joke I am seen as "making fun." Interesting to me.

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