January 28, 2013

Is this Super Bowl matchup more exciting than most, or less? (poll); plus return of Smirk, Heat-Obama video, Pro Bore, Cat panic, runners, R. Kilowatt & more

It's Radio Tuesday: If it's Tuesday, I'm back in-studio with Le Batard and Stugotz today beginning at 3 p.m. on 790 The Ticket and FM 104.3. Ears welcome. 

1aa1kilowatt[1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 29. Am thinking of launching a campaign to persuade Florida Power & Light to bring back its old icon, Reddy Kilowatt. Who's with me? 2) MLB is investigating several South Florida "wellness clinics" for the sale of human growth hormone and testosterone to players. I remember the good old days when baseball's only problem in Miami was Jeffrey Loria. 3) Click on Random Evidence for my Sunday notes column, leading with the sublime, somber, surreal week for Miami Hurricane sports. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Chris Bosh-for-Dwight Howard poll, LeBron's joy-tackle, Top 10 Super Bowl storylines. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1heatwh2OBAMA TO LEBRON: "IT'S YOUR WORLD, MAN!": President Barack Obama honored the Heat yesterday at the White House for their 2012 NBA championship. Click HERE for a brief video. At one point Obama invotes LeBron James to say a few words with, "It's your world, man!" Pretty cool. A delighted LeBron, overcome by the occasion, says, "Mama, I made it." Very sweet.

HOW DOES 49ERS-RAVENS RATE ON YOUR EXCITEMENT/INTEREST SCALE?: Are all Super Bowls created equal? I mean, unless your team is in it (sorry, Dolfans), isn't the interest level about the same every year? Teams change but the event is the same, right? You'll watch no matter who's playing, right? Or: Are some matchups more or less interesting than others? I'm curious, as Super Bowl Week kicks off, how you slot this 49ers-Ravens matchup vs. most SBs. More exciting? Less interesting? Have a vote and say why.

1aa1lewissiThe return of Super Bowl With a Smirk!: Smirk, sent here to tweak the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game, returns today with a menu that includes Ray Lewis' divineness, Alicia Keys, Radio Row, crab cakes vs. wine, Beyonce, cow sacrifice, Miss Alabama and, as always, much more. Click on SMIRK TUESDAY to read.

NFL KICKS OFF SUPER BOWL WEEK WITH PRO BORE: NFC defeats AFC, 62-35. Asusual, defenders lei down in Hawaii. LEI DOWN, GET IT!? Original post: Let me make this clear. The NFL kicking off its Super Bowl Week with the Pro Bowl is like you kicking off your expensive gourmet meal with an 1aa1bore2appetizer of dog s---. My Pro Bowl prediction: The final score will be something like 51-45, with offense once more masquerading as excitement but actually mirroring rampant disinterest by players. My other prediction: You won't remember or care in two days which conference won or who the game MVP was. The Pro Bowl has become such a lame event that the NFL is weighing whether to kill the whole thing because so many selected players drop out with lame excuses and so little effort is put forth by those who do participate. The event has gotten even worse since they moved it to the week before the Super Bowl, because now players from the two SB teams are excluded. You are beyond a diehard NFL fan if you plan to watch today's game from Honolulu. More likely, you are directly related to one of the players, or have been ordered to watch to help fulfill your court-ordered obligation to community service hours. Click on Top 10 Super Bowl Storylines for my column skewering the buildup to the SB. The Pro Bowl is enthusiastically omitted.

HEAT FALL  AT BOSTON IN RAY ALLEN RETURN: Heat lose today, 100-98  in double-OT. LeBron 34 points, Ray Allen 21 off bench. Mixed reaction to Allen shading toward booing. Original post: Ray Allen makes his much-awaited 1aa1allenrreturn to the Garden today. It isn't LeBron-back-in-Cleveland but it'll turn up the boo-decibels pretty good with Celtics fans who feel jilted -- their anger accentuated by the team's current mediocrity. It's another watch-me game on the schedule. Boston will be pumped to beat the champs and their former star, while Miami will rally up around Allen. Fun!

HEAT BIG 5 @ 40: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so we started 1aa1heat5this 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. The numbers themselves might not mean much but the numbers relative to each other give an indication of the contribution players are making. The Big 5 @ 40 Games (28-12):

Rank (@35)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   1,508.5

2 (3)   Dwyane Wade   993.5

3 (2)   Chris Bosh   979.7

4 (4)   Ray Allen   620.4

5 (5)   Mario Chalmers   606.7

Bubble: Udonis Haslem, 407.6

Poll result: Love for Bosh: We asked in the previous blogpost if you would (or think the Heat should) trade Chris Bosh for Dwight Howard. "No" won with 60.4 percent. It was 33.8% for "yes" and 5.8% "undecided." That might not be mad love, Chris. But it's love.

PANIC IN CATLAND: The Panthers' truncated NHL season began so merrily -- with a 5-1 home triumph -- and has since spiraled dismally to four straight defeats by a combined 18-3 margin. Normally we'd invoke the "long season" call for patience, except the 48-game schedule means the season already is more than 1/10th through, the playoffs or lack of them will get here on a fast track and the Cats need to figure this out fast. That's you, coach Kevin Dineen.

THE 26.2 AND 13.1 CROWD: Some 25,000 serious runners marathoned and half-marathoned in downtown Miami Sunday. I have noticed that fitness aficionadoes in general and runners in particular are very proud of themselves and wish to brag unabashedly share what they do with others, so the public display of their running is nirvana. But here is something to consider: 72 percent of all drivers with a 26.2 or 13.1 decal on their cars bought the stickers just for show, have never run more than a fever and are eating Doritos while driving. I totally made up that percentage, but believe it to be close.

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January 17, 2013

Manti Te'o: Liar? Or victim? New poll. Vote now!; plus my own hoax, LeBron whips Lakers, Canes hoops, Lance's confessional & more

[1) It is FRIDAY, JANUARY 18. Brand new blogpost coming later this morning. A journalism professor once told me "brand new" was redundant. She may be right. I ignore her anyway. 2) Season debut of American Idol last night was more palatable than I'd imagined. Nicki Minaj adds something. Plus, credibility points for bouncing the one-legged guy. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

WHAT TO MAKE OF THE INCREDIBLE MANTI TE'O STORY: Yes, and Touchdown Jesus wept. Again. It isn't bad enough Notre Dame got schooled by Nick Saban's Alabama in the BCS National Championship that 1aa1mantiMiami hosted. Now its signature player, linebacker and Heisman runnerup Manti Te'o, is exposed as, well ... as what? He would be a liar of Lance-esque proportion (only much more creative) if we believe the Deadspin piece (here) that reported Manti completely made up the non-existent girlfriend who supposedly died of leukemia in November. Or ... Manti could be the victim of a heartless prank, as Notre Dame and Te'o now claim. Liar or victim. In this case there doesn't seem much gray area. Liar or victim? For the record, I lean to thinking Te'o contrived the whole tale, but am not sure. I invite you to vote and share your own thoughts.

When I was the victim of a (much smaller) hoax: Media outlets all over the country including this one were victims of the Manti Te'o/dead-girlfriend story, reporting it as fact. I sympathize. As a young 1aa1kenfreporter in 1982 I wrote what I thought was a nice, timely little story about how Fort Lauderdale Strikers soccer player Ken Fogarty (pictured) was worried because his sister was on a British military vessel headed to the Falklands War. Turned out Fogarty, a prankster, made the whole thing up. A certain trust is in play when media and subjects intersect. Should somebody have asked Te'o to see his girlfriend's death certificate? Should I have called the Royal Navy to confirm Fogarty's story? Maybe yes on both. But only in the clarity of retrospect.

1aa1lebkobLEBRON'S 39 LIFTS HEAT PAST LAKERS: LeBron's 39 points and Dwyane Wade's 27 powered Heat over Lakers in L.A., 99-90, late last night. Impressive win, and big show by the Big 2 after each was named an all-star starter earlier in the day. The result reignited the hope in Miami fans that, yes, there is a switch that this team is able to find, and flip. Original post: The Heat crushed Golden State last night as LeBron James breezed past 20,000 career points younger than anyone else. Now, tonight, it's Heat at Lakers and, yes, for this one I will stay up 'til 1 a.m. Lakers have won a couple in a row but still struggle off playoff pace. Miami is only 9-9 on the road. No matter. This is still a marquee, statement, event game, a stage on which both teams will want to bring the A-game and really perform. Can't wait! 1aa1cookie[Update: Remember last week when LeBron bragged that the pressure on the Lakers is "nowhere near what we went through"? Kobe Bryant today was asked about that. His response: "What does he want, a cookie?"]

UM HOOPS' NICE RUN, HUGE TEST: The nice run: A 13-3 record, five wins in a row and a pristine 4-0 ACC mark for Jim Larranaga's men. I'm-a start to float conspiracy theories if the Canes are still not ranked in the next poll. The huge test: This coming Wednesday, UM hosts No. 3 Duke. We'll be a college basketball hotbed ... at least for the night.

ANTICLIMACTICALLY INTO THE CONFESSIONAL WITH LANCE ARMSTRONG: Last night was the much-hyped interview with Oprah Winfrey in which shamed cyclist Lance Armstrong came clean about his PED use after years of indignant denials. "One big lie," he admitted. (I imagined the interview would star Oprah with an occasional appearance by Lance). It was the interview we already knew so much about there was almost no need to watch. It was on the network we have never seen and have no idea how to find.

Poll result: Support for Dolphins' stadium plan, but not strong: We asked in the previous blogpost if you supported the Dolphins' plan for a $400 million stadium improvement that would be shared equally by owner Stephen Ross and tax dollars. Yes won with 57.4 percent. Yes-but-only-if-Ross-pays had 35.6%. Only 5.1% thought the stadium was fine as is, and 1.9% were undecided.

THINGS GREG COTE PONDERS BUT SELDOM TALKS ABOUT (one in a series): With no evident protest or uproar, the classic 100-watt light bulb evidently is being phased out. Publix now maxes out at 75 watts. Updates as warranted.

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January 15, 2013

Dolphins' $400 million stadium plan: Yes or no? Poll. Vote now!; plus Manti Te'o hoax, Kiper's pick for Miami, Heat woes, UM/NCAA, Lyin' Lance & more

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16. Season debut of American Idol tonight. Used to be a guilty pleasure of mine, but less and less. Maybe give it one more shot. 2) Congrats to ex-Canes assistant coach Marc Trestman, new head coach of the Chicago Bears. 3) Did I like the season debut of Shameless? Yes. Mostly. Although the Mexico/drugs storyline with Frank seemed a bizarre tangient that didn't quite fit the show. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Kiper says: Cordarrelle Patterson No. 1 for Dolphs: That would be Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson who turns up No. 12 to Miami in the first Mock Draft of ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Patterson played only one year for Vols after two in junior college, but His Kiperness notes the size (6-3, 205), good hands and run-after-catch ability. Haven't seen Patterson in many mocks or first-round projections so this guess smells like a reach, but we'll see.

DOES DOLPHINS' $400 MILLION STADIUM PLAN HAVE PUBLIC SUPPORT? YOU TELL STEPHEN ROSS, NOW, RIGHT HERE: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants $400 million in stadium improvements, is willing to pay a little more than half and wants public funds to pay for the rest. Are you on board? The poll below is 1aa1canopyyour forum. The Dolphins want you to know that major area hotels are backing their plan to better attract future Super Bowls and big events. The InterContinental Miami, Trump National Doral and Loews Miami Beach are the first on board. No doubt others will follow. Hmm. Naturally major hotels are on board because big events mean visitors and revenue. But wouldn't it be nice if these hotels were willing to give as well as get? This big-ticket remodeling is outlined as a typical team/taxpayer consortium, with the Dolphins and Ross paying about half and you the public (they hope) absorbing the rest. But why shouldn't private enterprise that stands to benefit also contribute? Hotels, major restaurants, car-rental companies ... why do they get the windfall of a local Super Bowl that (theoretically) comes with a better stadium while contributing nothing to that better stadium but their spoken support? Anyway, I digress. Back to reality. The renovated stadium, including a giant canopy, is pictured. Now here's the poll. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Best Super Bowl? 49ers-Ravens, the Bro Bowl: We asked your preferred Super Bowl matchup in previous blogpost and 49ers-Ravens -- the duel of coach-brothers Jim and John Harbaugh -- won with 47.1 percent, followed by 49ers-Patriots 32.8%, Falcons-Ravens 15.5% and Falcons-Pats 4.6%. Combine totals and team you most want to see is 49ers 79.9, Ravens 62.6, Pats 37.4 and Falcons 20.1.

BIZARRE: MANTI TE'O: HOAXER OR HOAX VICTIM?: This is almost too weird/unbelievable/delicious to be true: A report today by Deadspin (click here) suggesting that Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o completely made up the tragic November death of supposed girlfriend Lennay Kekua, who apparently never existed. Notre Dame in turn has issued a statement claiming Te'o is not the liar here, but rather the victim of a terrible hoax. I'll not jump to conclusions like so many have. But you an bet we'll be following this. (Hey. Maybe the whole Manti Te'o liar/hoax story was planted by Lance Armstrong to take a little heat off!)

FOOT-DRAGGING NCAA MUST GIVE UM CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED, PUNISHMENT PAID: UM is now into its fourth calendar year living this Nevin Shapiro mess and NCAA probe. The university already has self-sacrificed two bowl games and an ACC championship game, suspended eight players for 19 games, self-imposed football scholarship limits and, in effect, served two years of probation even before the NCAA has issued its sanctions. That should count for a lot, I write in my latest column. Click on Credit For Time Served to read. Some will see me as an apologist for the Hurricanes. No. They have punishment coming. My point is, much of that punishment already has been served. UM has been a model for how to properly respond, and the NCAA needs to take that into full account.

HEAT STRUGGLES: JUST A BAD TRIP, OR REAL ISSUES? SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT: The defending champs seem in disarray, mentally beat up a bit. They are 4-6 in past 10 games and 8-9 on the road 1aa1eriksincluding 1-3 so far on this six-game swing out west. It's more than that, though. There was a veneer of lethargy to Monday night's 104-97 loss at Utah. "Low energy," LeBron James called it afterward. There also seem to be little fissures of dissension, things for coach Erik Spoelstra (pictured) to deal with. Chris Bosh has second-guessed the team's change in strategy, to smaller-ball, to "positionless." Bosh hardly played down the stretch last night. Dwyane Wade didn't get off the bench at all in the fourth quarter and obviously was not thrilled. "Coach makes the calls, I'm just a player," he said afterward. How do you not play Wade and Bosh in crunch time? A fair question for Spoelstra. (Perhaps one he has heard from Pat Riley). Panic time? No. Crisis? No. But all is not well with the Heat. All is not right. Not on the court, or off it. Something needs fixing. Mending.

LYIN' LANCE ARMSTRONG: AMERICAN CHEAT: Shamed, defrocked Tour de France icon Lance Armstrong 1aa1armstronglcomes clean to Oprah about his PED use, but how many years too late? It isn't so much his doping that galls here, it's all those years that Armstrong looked America in the eye and flat-out lied. He not only proclaimed his innocence, he was indignant at the accusations. Incredulous. All the while his fight with cancer and his good works with the Livestrong Foundation were held up as shields against the scrutiny. 'How dare you accuse me!?' Liar. Cheater. Turd. What a hypocritical fraud.

1aa1gagagunGAGA AND THE GUN BRA: Lady Gaga is in trouble with gun-control groups -- especially in light of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut -- for wearing in concert a bra with toy guns attached. I think she has a right to be as desperately outlandish as she wants to be. I also see the sensitivity, given the timing. Mostly, I've just always been looking for an excuse to picture a gun bra, which to me looks like something a beautiful counter-spy might have used to try to kill Bond in a 1960s' 007 film.

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January 11, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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December 28, 2012

Here are Top 10 national sports stories of 2012. You pick the biggest. Poll. Vote now!; plus NFL/Dolphins predix & more

[1) It is FRIDAY, DEC. 28. Dolphins rule injured WR Davone Bess out of Sunday's finale at New England. 2) Dwyane Wade's one-game groin-kick suspension without pay will cost him $154,764. I'm thinking of taking up a collection for him. Telethon, maybe? 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1big12YOU PICK THE 2012 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: The top 10 stories below are from The Associated Press annual ranking. However I have listed them alphabetically in the poll, not in 1-through-10 order, so your vote will be more independent and not influenced by The AP's rank. A synopsis:

Lance Armstrong: 7-time Tour de France champ stripped of titles.

College Football Playoffs: Finally! NCAA approved playoffs for 2014.

Giants Win Super Bowl: Once 7-7, New York surges to championship.

London Olympics: Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt lead summer gold rush.

Peyton Manning Resurgence: QB stages a huge comeback in Denver.

NFL Concussions: Health and long-term risk at issue as lawsuits fly.

NFL Replacement Officials: Labor strife settled after Week3 debacle.

Penn State/Jerry Sandusky: Conviction, penalties in sordid scandal.

Saints 'Bountygate': Penalties ruin season, embroil NFL in controversy.

Pat Summitt: Winningest women's hoops coach retires with dementia.

Disclaimer: My own list would be a bit different. I definitely would have included the Heat's LeBron James-led NBA championship, for example. But that'll get its due soon enough when we bring you 2012's Greater Miami Top 10 Sports Stories, also with a poll. Might have added the NHL lockout, too. Anyway, for now, we invite you to vote for your top three (3) national stories of the past year from The AP list and say why. Then check back often to monitor the evolving results:

NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS' COLD END IN FOXBOROUGH: Miami will play New England tough Sunday, 1aa1fripixbeating the point spread but not the Patriots. The 27-20 final will end Miami's season at 7-9. Click on Week 17 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions -- including a surprise in the big Cowboys-Redskins playoff play-in game. And click on Pro Bowl A Fair Mirror for our Friday page notes column leading with the notion Miami's lone PB pick is no travesty, it's a pretty accurate reflection of the team's lack of impact talent.

Poll result: Receiver in a landslide as Dolphins' greatest need: We asked in a previous blogpost for your choice as Miami's greatest need in free agency or the draft, and wide receiver thoroughly dominated with 83.6 percent, followed by cornerback 8.8%, pass rusher 5.5% and something else 2.1%.

1aa1heat5HEAT BIG 5 @... SKIPS A TURN: Blog housekeeping note: Our "Heat Big 5 @" series, bringing you the team's most productive players at five-game intervals, skipped the "@ 25 games" interval. Oops. Blame the holidays! Look for the feature's return @ 30 games. Thanks.   

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September 21, 2012

Why the Jets are the Stinkin' Jets to me; plus 1 Dolphin and 3 Jets on most-overpaid list, Beinfest, Melky, secret life of Ed Hochuli & more

[1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21. Visit our video channel at YouTube/TheGregCote. It's a bit dormant lately but we'll start posting new vids soon. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote].

DOLPHINS TO UPSET STINKIN' JETS: The Dolphins will upset the visiting Jets, 20-17, Sunday. Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest picks, and on Attention Misdirection for my Friday Page NFL column. But I'm not here to restate why Miami will win. I'm here to explain why the Jets, to me, are the Stinkin' Jets. 1) It is good-natured hatred, if that's possible. Part of it is simply to tweak and antagonize in the spirit of civic sparring, I'll admit. This is a great 1aa1firemanedrivalry, Miami's best, fueled by the many transplants among us. Those same New Yorkers/Jets fan must constantly be reminded of the irony that they think New York is so damned wonderful and yet they choose to live in South Florida. Hmm. Actions and words, baby. 2) Jets fans have a spectacularly unearned arrogance about them. This is not a blanket criticism of New York fans. Yankees fans should be arrogant; their team's history justifies it. But Jets fans!? The Jets won their only Super Bowl following the 1968 season. A touch of humility would serve them well. Especially the ubquitous fat guy in the stretched-out Gastineau jersey. 3) Jets superfan "Fireman Ed" (pictured). Because nobody better personifies the aforementioned attitude of the NYJ fan-breed. 4) Coach Rex Ryan. Who better to represent and speak for Jets fans than an unapologetic blowhard? How are all those Super Bowl guarantees workin' out for ya, Rex? 5) Quarterback Mark Sanchez. I think Mark leads the NFL in GQ covers. He has the right media market and the right appearance to be a big star. If only there was any evidence of commensurate talent. So this is why the Jets are the Stinkin' Jets to me. I could go on but I gotta run. FedEx Office just called to say my order is ready. But now I'm concerned. Will 10,000 "We Want Tebow!" placards fit in a car trunk?

Poll result: Call Jeff Ireland Mr. Unpopularity: In the previous blogpost we asked your impression of Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland and 70.9 percent voted unfavorable vs. only 12.0% favorable. The other 17.1% said too-soon-to-say. Timing is everything in polls, and this one came on the heel of the controversy in which Ireland called a fan an "asshole." Then again, balancing that, it also came in the wake of a big home-opening victory. In any case, suffice to say Mr. Ireland could use an image makeover.

KARLOS DANSBY, 3 JETS ON 'MOST OVERPAID' LIST: Call Jets-Dolphins the Overpaid Bowl. Forbes 1aa1dansbyk(which loves lists) has a new one for NFL's Top 10 most-overpaid players of 2012, and 1-2 are Jets linebacker David Harris and Dolphins LB Karlos Dansby (pictured). List also includes Jets WR Santonio Holmes and CB Antonio Cromartie fifth and seventh. It's based on a look at the 169 players making at least $5 million this season, and their salary vs. productivity. Click on Easy Money for the Forbes piece. Dansby is a productive player. But I must admit life is good when one can make $10.7 million this season after having never made a single Pro Bowl.

GOOD FOR MELKY: Melky Cabrera, the San Francisco Giant suspended 50 games for PEDs, did a good, smart and unexpected thing today in withdrawing himself from consideration for the NL batting title -- which he was eligible to win despite his suspension. It is tactically smart, a way of fully admitting his wrongdoing and moving on. So many others have not been as smart.  

LORIA'S NON-DENIAL OF BEINFEST REPORT: USA Today reports Marlins president of baseball ops Larry Beinfest will be replaced and club owner Jeffrey Loria responds by saying he won't comment on a "ridiculous" rumor that has been "fabricated." Hmm. He could have simply said, "It isn't true." Instead he huffed and puffed over a report he'd have preferred not to have been published, but did not specifically deny said report. Beinfest will be a scapegoat for this awful season. He spent most of a decade making the best of shoestring player payrolls but won't survive the one year he had money but couldn't buy a winner.

1aa1edhTHE OTHER LIFE OF ED HOCHULI: The ongoing labor dispute that has the NFL using replacement officials has robbed us of seeing in action the league's best-known referee, Ed "Guns" Hochuli. So we bring you Ed in his other life, as a defense attorney. He is pictured here (in white jacket), alongside a lawyer friend of mine, Brad McCormick, at a conference this week in Phoenix. Given the impasse keeping him off football fields, you'll find ironic the title of the talk Ed presented, as per my friend: "Ethical Considerations In Mediations And Negotiations." Kid you not.

THE LADY AT THE CHEVRON: Filled up at the local station yesterday and about to drive away when I hear a rap on my window. An elderly lady is asking if I would pump her gas for her. Of course I would, and did. She was visibly distraught. I asked if everything was OK and she said she was 86, had just lost her husband of 61 years three months earlier and was so depressed. I mentioned my own mother was about her age and we'd lost my father and that things do get better -- realizing even as the words came out that everybody says that. Anyway, I told her to have faith in better days, she thanked me and I drove off. Later I had regrets. I wished I had asked if she had family in town. I wished I had given her a business card with my cell phone number and invited her to call me for any reason. I had learned a lesson. Sometimes it isn't enough to do a good deed. Sometimes you have to do a little more.

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August 29, 2012

PS4: Dallas 30, Dolphins 13: Runway mishap a fitting end to preseason (with new video); plus Donte Stallworth, 790 takeover, Upset Bird (7), zombie wedding & more

1aa1me18[1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 31. NEWEST VIDEO! DOLPHINS IN WAKE OF AN 0-4 PRESEASON: Visit our video channel, YouTube/TheGregCote, to peruse all our "The View From Miami" mini-commentaries including the most recent, a Dolphins-Cowboys post-mortem. Subscribe (it's free) to get our latest videos as they are posted. 2) More than 18,000 people have joined a Facebook group and posted nude photos of themselves in support of Prince Harry and his recent naked Las Vegas scandal. This is either inspiring or sad, I can't decide which. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1mepick 1aa1owlwpUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction pages Sept. 7, and began a 21-day countdown that each day is honoring notable birds. Following the skateboarder Tony Hawk, today we welcome Winnie the Pooh's compatriot, Owl.

Dolphins airport-runway mishap: How fitting...: What better way to punctuate an 0-4 preseason than to have your team plane back into another plane on the airport runway? That's what the Dolphins jet did trying to leave Dallas after last night's loss, necessitating a switch of aircraft that delayed the Dolphins' departure by three hours. Perfect! In other news, receiver-shy Miami is working out recently cut Patriot Donte Stallworth today.

PS4: DALLAS 30, DOLPHINS 13: MIAMI ENDS PRESEASON 0-4: Final thoughts: Can the Dolphins get a few more preseason games, please? Because it does not appear that this team is season-ready. Tough to read much into this result since starters played so little, but Miami completed exhibition play without a single game that generated much optimism. Tonight the biggest positive I'd take is that Ryan Tannehill looked pretty sharp. Here comes the season, ready or not. And the "not" is unfortunately looking more likely at this point. ..... Halftime thoughts: I think the Dolphins could use a few more practice games. My one positive take from this so far is that Ryan Tannehill -- 6-for-8 with a drop in two series -- looked sharp. ..... Original post: I attended the annual Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Kickoff Luncheon for the Dolphins yesterday and 1aa1dolcowdidn't sense a lot of enthusiasm. Click on Gloomy Dolphins for the resulting column. This is a franchise and a fandom in need of a jolt, of reasons to believe. Or maybe just the slightest hint of momentum at 0-3 in a ragged preseason. That's where tonight's exhibition finale at Dallas comes in. (Yeah, I Know. Wednesday night football. Weird). Miami hasn't looked all-round solid in any preseason game yet and must tonight, no matter the result, to build hope for the regular season. With the Vontae Davis trade being questioned and now tackle Jake Long out for a bit, this would be a good time for the Dolphins to give fans something to feel good about. A strong showing by the defense tonight, especially the pass-D, would be a start. So would Ryan Tannehill looking sharp tonight (and ready) even thought he won't play much. Miami needs to come out of this game feeling better about itself in terms of confidence entering this season.

Sports Illustrated has Dolphins 4-12: SI's NFL preview issue is out this week and pegs the Dolphins 4-12, last in the AFC East and better, leaguewide, than only St. Louis' 3-13. I'm inclined to think Miami will be two or three wins better than that due largely to a soft schedule, although I'm less certain than I was a month ago.

Notable from last night's Dolphins 'Hard Knocks': A few thoughts. 1) Dear Daniel Thomas: You're not proven enough or good enough to keep being late. Be careful. 2) HBO cameras love Lauren Tannehill and also Jake Long's wife. I can't blame them. 3) Stunning how unfamiliar Tannehill is with NFL divisions. Thought Chiefs were in the NFC East. 4) Indy's first offer for Vontae Davis was 5th and 6th round picks. Still think Miami getting a 2nd (and 6th) was good value.      

Poll result: Serious disagreement on Vontae Davis trade: We asked in the previous blogpost if you agreed with the Dolphins trading Vontae Davis (you may still vote) and it was close, with 47.6 percent saying yes, 42.7% no and 9.7% undecided. Interestingly, in votes cast in Florida, where a heavier concentration of Dolfans might be assumed, no-votes slightly edged yesses, 45.6 to 45.2.

790 + 104.3 = MARKET DOMINATION: Effective 5 p.m. today 790 The Ticket began simulcasting on 1aa1buy790West Palm FM station 104.3. This is big in local sports-talk radio wars because many, many more people listen to FM than AM. What it means is that rival WQAM, already trailing 790 in ratings, no longer will be able to compete in terms of overall number of listeners. Initially only 790's three locally produced show will be simulcast. The station hopes to add its Heat, Marlins and ESPN programming to the simulcast by late this year or mid-2013 at latest.   

"WILL YOU TAKE THIS ZOMBIE...": A Louisville couple, Jesse Embry and Jennifer Wilson, plan to walk down the aisle dressed as zombies on their wedding day (story here). Betting over/under on how long it will take the couple to seriously regret ruining that day by acting like morons: 4 months.

THE BETRAYING SEAL: Fox News has identified as Mark Bissonnette the former Navy SEAL who wrote (under a pseudonym) the tell-all book on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. From what I have read this sounds like a betrayal of oath, a release of classified information. I'd not buy the book in protest for the author's actions, and not be disappointed if he faced legal consequences.

1aa1elvisA LOVE OF ELVIS TO EXTREMES: Urine-stained underwear (pictured) worn by Elvis Presley in 1977 will be sold at an auction in Manchester, England next week. Estimates are the garment could fetch around $15,000. The only thing scarier than the thought someone would want this displayed in their home is the idea someone would want this because, well, they fit, and who couldn't use another pair of underwear!?

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August 27, 2012

Yay or nay on Vontae Davis trade? Vote now (with poll); plus Jerry Jones rapping, GOP strippers, Upset Bird (10 days), Royal family portrait & more

[1) It is TUESDAY, AUGUST 28. Visit YouTube/TheGregCote to peruse our "The View From Miami' mini-commentaries including the latest on the Dolphins trading Vontae Davis. It's the most-viewed vid we've done yet; thank you. Subscribe (it's free) to get all our newest videos as they are posted. 2) Click here for Kate Upton's greatest video hits, including the Cat Daddy. 3) Lady Gaga is in the studio recording her new album, ARTPOP, completely in the nude. Or, did that go without saying? 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote].

1aa1tweety 1aa1mepickUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 10 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction pages Sept. 7, and began a 21-day countdown that each day is honoring notable birds. Following the singer Sheryl Crow, today we welcome the yellow canary from Warner Brothers cartoons, Tweety Bird.

WAS VONTAE DAVIS TRADE GOOD FOR DOLPHINS?: As Dolphins prepare to wrap the preseason Wednesday night in Dallas, the week's big news is Miami trading 2009 No. 1 draft 1aa1davisvpick Vontae Davis to Indianapolis. You know from my latest video that I like the deal. A second-round pick plus a sixth from the Colts is a lot of  value for a cornerback who had lost his starting job. (Of course the key is making something of that second-round pick. Miami's recent history of 2R selections has been spotty at best). I imagine though that there are others who think Miami's defense cannot afford this trade, or that it signals giving up on the season, or perhaps that the club gave up on Davis too soon. Hence, this poll. Vote and say why.

Poll result: High hopes for Tannehill, but also caution: We asked in the previous blogpost what you foresaw for Ryan Tannehill's career and the vote was 49.0 percent "very good," 31.9% "good," 10.8% "bust" and 8.3% "greatness." I call that outlook largely favorable, but with an undercurrent of thought that he'll fall short of being special.

FINAL PRESEASON BCS, HEISMAN ODDS: From Bovada, it's Southern Cal a 3-1 favorite for the BCS title, followed by Alabama 5-1, LSU 6-1 and Florida State 13-2. Miami a 150-1 longshot, tied for 24th. Heisman pick is USC QB Matt Barkley at 3-1, Wisconsin RB Montee Ball 6-1 and Michigan QB Denard Robinson 13-2. Highest state player is FSU QB E.J. Manuel at 30-1.  

JERRY JONES RAPPING (SORT OF): It's the Cowboys owner pimping a new Papa John's pizza ad. This is something nobody should ever have to see or heat. Click this if you dare. 

1aa1palin2STRIPPERS, MEET REPUBLICANS: Many state travelers are aware Tampa, site of the ongoing Republican National 1aa1palinConvention, is billed as America's strip club capital. These savvy travelers would then be unsurprised that the clubs are rolling out the red, white and blue theme for GOP week. Pictured left: One such theme. Pictured right: Porn star Lisa Ann, in Tampa as a Sarah Palin impersonator. Ah, politics!    

1aa1johnsonsSPORTIES ON NEW 'DWTS': Dancing With The Stars' 13th season is an all-star affair, and sporties on it are Olympic gymast Shawn Johnson and speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, Cowboys great Emmitt Smith and race car driver Helio Castroneves. Johnson is pictured, because she leads the league in perky. 

THE "LAST MEAL" ON DEATH ROW: I have mixed feelings about Death Row inmates being able to order a lavish "last meal" (whatever they wish); therefore I found this story interesting. I'm not saying these societal miscreants should be served a pile of crap, but neither am I comfortable with the idea of a mass murderer setting sail with a banquet courtesy taxpayers. I say we compromise. They get a tasty burger to go. No cheese, though!

SUN BELT GIRDS FOR FIU DEPARTURE: The Sun Belt conference, which of course includes FIU and FAU, is making a public relations push (click here) to position itself as the top "other" league, the best of the big-five football conferences. I think this push also is meant to soften the blow of losing FIU to Conference USA following the 2012 season. The Int'l -- a.k.a the Mario Brothers -- are flying high now as the Belt's top football power under aegis of wundercoach Mario Cristobal.

1aa1royalportraitPRINCE HARRY NUDE VEGAS UPDATE: We are thrilled to tell you Buckingham Palace has forgiven Prince Harry his nude Las Vegas strip-billiards romp and released a new official family portrait to show everything is back to normal with the Royals. So good to hear.

Click back. Says here we'll be updating/adding much more to this latest blogpost...

August 23, 2012

Dolphins trade Vontae Davis (with my new video); plus Tannehill's future (w/ poll), Upset Bird (11), Lance Armstrong, Prince Harry & more

1aa1gc17[1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 27. New blogpost coming later this morning! 2) NEW VIDEO! DOLPHINS TRADE VONTAE DAVIS: Visit our video channel at YouTube/TheGregCote to see all of our "The View From Miami" mini-commentaries including the newest on on today's trade of Vontae Davis. Subscribe (it's free) to receive latest videos as they are posted. 3) Musical treat: Chuck Berry and John Lennon jamming on "Johnny B. Goode" in 1972. Click here to watch 'n listen. 4) Does A's pitcher Bartolo Colon being suspended 50 games for a failed drug test mean MLB had just perfomed a Colonoscopy? 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1mepick 1aa1crowsUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 11 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction pages Sept. 7, and began a 21-day countdown that each day is honoring notable birds. Following the British band A Flock Of Seagulls, today we welcome American singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow.

Dolphins trade Vontae Davis: The Dolphins have traded cornerback Vontae 1aa1davisvDavis to Indianapolis for a second-round draft pick. A lower pick also will be involved, likely a sixth rounder. This strikes me initially as a positive deal for the Dolphins. Davis had had a poor camp, reporting out of shape and losing his starting job. And the Colts figure to be bad enoough that the second round pick likely will be very high. However, the trade also seems to be another indication that the Dolphins are conceding playoff chances for 2012 and are firmly in (re-)building mode. The trade also begs the question: Are Sean Smith and Richard Marshall a capable NFL starting corernback tandem. They'd better be. 

PS3: ATLANTA 23, DOLPHINS 6 (FINAL): IF THIS WAS A DRESS REHEARSAL, THE DOLPHINS ARE IN RAGS: A 23-6 loss to Atlanta last night puts Miami at 0-3 in the preseason after what was supposed to be a dress rehearsal game for the regular season. Uh oh. The first-team defense was OK, but the first-team offense stunk. So many dropped passes. Pretty ghastly. Ryan Tannehill does not have the surrounding talent in terms of playmakers to make his job any easier. Click on Help Wanted for my latest column, off last night's game. ..... Original post: Ryan Tannehill in his first performance since being named the season's starting quarterback will get the 1aa1atlmiaattention tonight. [Vote in Tannehill poll just below] But the broader picture to emerge will be how good (or bad) we can expect the team to be this year. Whether Tannehill will be piloting a credible playoff contender or a long-ways-to-go pretender should come clear in a way it hasn't yet. The first two preseason games (losses to Tampa and Carolina) were far more about player evaluation than the scoreboard. In some cases starters played little. Likewise next week's fourth and final exhibtiion will be about resting starters, staying healthy and determining final roster spots. It is preseason game No. 3 -- that's tonight -- that will see starters playing as much as three quarters and the effort to perform well and win considered paramount. This will be more of a regular-season prteview. That's why, for example, we can expect to see more Reggie Bush/running/offensive balance. Atlanta and Miami are two of only five teams that are 0-2, so a shade of added incentive will be there. This is the dress rehearsal. We're about to find out how ready for some football the Miami Dolphins really are.

HOW GOOD WILL TANNEHILL BE?: Admittedly the question of how good new Dolphins 1aa1ryantstarting QB Ryan Tannehill will be is at this point either unfair or more likely just wildly premature. We might not have an accurate read for a few years, after all. (Or at least for a few months). But, this being a blog and not a set of encyclopedias, I can't wait. I want to know now how high we're setting the bar for this guy. Dolfans and others, I am not asking what you hope but rather what you realistically expect. Vote and say why.

Four Dolphins in NFL top-200: Scouts Inc. for ESPN.com ranks the NFL's top 200 players, and the four Dolphins listed are tackle Jake Long (20th), linebackers Cameron Wake (57th) and Karlos Dansby (134th) and cornerback Vontae Davis (179th). The usual suspects in the toverall top five: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Calvin Johnson and Darrelle Revis.  

THE LATEST ON HARD KNOCKZZZ: The latest epsiode of HBO's Hard Knocks with the Dolphins was so 1aa1bmarleyforgettable I forgot to mention it right away. Is it just me or does the novelty of these shows wear off pretty quickly? I mean how many times can you watch and listen to Joe Philbin hem and haw to a player in his office without wishing you were doing something else. Highlight of the episode for me was that one of my all-time favorite songs, Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, was played in the practice bubble. (Click here to hear the song). I also had to smile at Philbin's advisory to Ryan Tannehill about the scrutiny he'll get from the media. "They're not bad people," said Joe, of reporters. "That's what they're paid to do."

NUDE ROYAL ROMP!: Britain's Prince Harry, of course, got nekked in a 1aa1harrygame of strip billiards in his Las Vegas hotel VIP suite the other day with a bunch of friends and some hotties they'd met, according to various reports. Harry evidently isn't very good at pool, based on the TMZ photos pictured. I think this is where I am obliged to be cheeky and mention "crown jewels." GET IT!? I could care less that His Princeness did this. He's young. He's single. He can afford it. I do wonder, though, about his royal judgement. Like, in a crowded, liquored-up room full of cell phone cameras, this wasn't going to get out!? No official reaction from Queen Elizabeth or from Bucknaked Buckingham Palace.

THE CONE OF PREMATURE CONCERN: I would never choose the 20th 1aa1emptyshelvesanniversary of Hurricane Andrew to make fun of our general overreaction to tropical storms. OK, maybe I would. Tropical storm Isaac remains in South Florida's watch cone even though it is veering west and now seems a greater threat to turn into Hurricane Mitt and mess with the Republican National Convention in Tampa. But, sure enough, on local TV last night, we saw the rote, stock stories about locals taking preparedness to premature extremes by stocking up on water, batteries, cans of tuna and so forth. So cute.

1aa1gymClick back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost. Meantime, am I the only one who can too closely relate to the lament expressed at right?

August 17, 2012

PS2: Carolina 23, Dolphins 17: Tannehill so-so, Miami now 0-2; plus new video (Dolphs-Cats), U-Bird Countdown (18), Canes, food stamps, Pussy Riot & more

1aa1meps2[1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 20. Watch for a new blogpost later today. 2) LATEST VIDEO! Watch our newest video -- a post-mortem of the Dolphins' loss at Carolina -- at YouTube/TheGregCote. All 13 "The View From Miami" mini-commentaries I've done so far are there. 3) Marlin's Giancarlo Stanton hit a 495-foot home run the other night. Good lord. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1mepick 1aa1chirubUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 18 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction pages Sept. 7, and began a 21-day countdown that each day will honor a notable bird. Following the former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, today we welcome the classic comedic prop, Rubber Chicken.

PS2: CAROLINA 23, DOLPHINS 17: TANNEHILL FAILS TO NAIL DOWN STARTING JOB, MIAMI DROPS TO 0-2 IN PRETEND GAMES: Miami hopes and plans to name a starting quarterback this coming week, before preseason game No. 3. Friday night's 23-17 loss at Carolina didn't make coach Joe Philbin's decision any easier. Rookie Ryan Tannehill, who started Friday, failed to maintain momentum from last week, only going 11-for-23 for 100 yards, and incumbent Matt Moore was a mere 3-for-10 for 33 yards. Reserve Pat Devlin looked pretty good late before throwing a last-second end-zone interception. If only shaky QB play was the only issue. Receivers had a lousy, drop-filled game, underlining WR as a Dolphins soft spot. The offensive line was shaky, especially the second unit. The defense wasn't very good; Panthers QB Cam Newton had his way early on. And is anybody but me a bit concerned that for a second straight game no real attention was paid to the running game? Beyond that a combined 27 penalties made the game nearly unwatchable. Now, midway through the preseason for Miami, there remain lots of issues to correct and one major decision (QB) still unresolved. ..... Original post: The Dolphins will likely name a season-opening starting quarterback in a few days, in time for the third preseason game, and so it is logical to 1aa1cardolthink the job will swing unmistakably to either Matt Moore or rookie Ryan Tannehill if either is clearly better tonight at Carolina. Since Moore started last week (in lieu of injured David Garrard) I'd be surprised if Tannehill did not start tonight and I was right. He's starting. Let's see what he can do against a starting defense. Miami will sit several slightly injured starters this evening but still will want to see improvement from last week's loss to Tampa Bay, especially on pass defense. For this team right now, though, it's all about the quarterback, about somebody stepping forward. LeBron James had "The Decision." Joe Philbin faces one of those, too, and I suspect tonight will help make it for him.

PATRIOTS TO SIGN DEMPS: The Dolphins' climb in the AFC East just got steeper because the Patriots just got better. Or at least faster. Olympic silver-medalist sprinter Jeff Demps is signing with New England, according to various reports. Seven or eight teams were interested in the former Florida Gators star running back. Would have been an interesting fit for Miami.

1aa1altuniHURRICANES TO SEE DEBUT OF AWFUL NEW NOTRE DAME UNIFORMS: This week Notre Dame revealed its new alternate football uniforms that will first be worn Oct. 6 vs. the University of Miami at Soldier Field. The helmets pictured are particularly bad.

Poll result: LeBron will (or might) surpass Michael Jordan: Few of our poll votes surprise me, but this did. In the previous blogpost I asked if you thought LeBron James will someday be considered greater than Michael Jordan (you can still vote), and a plurality of 38.5 percent said yes, another 36.9% said possibly, and only 24.6% said no. Take away votes from Florida, where Heat-related bias would most be a factor, and the 'yes' or 'possibly' votes still outnumber 'no' votes.

FOOD STAMPS FOR DESSERT?: This story interests me. Andrea Taber (pictured), owner of Ever So 1aa1andreatHumble Pie, a Massachusetts bakery, is controversially in the news for refusing to accept food stamps, saying, "American taxpayers should not be footing the bill for people's dessert." To some the case has racial tones; she says not. I think her stand is valid. Sensible. Food stamps are supposed to be for essentials, not luxuries. You can't use them for cigarettes or lottery tickets, for example. Doesn't seem unreasonable that pies and cakes might join the no-buy list.

PUSSY RIOT SENT TO JAIL: You thought Russia had softened its intolerance of dissent? It hasn't. A Moscow judge has sentenced the three members of Russian female punk band Pussy Riot each to two years in prison on "hooliganism" charges stemming from a cathedral protest against Vladimir Putin. Click here for the story. The case has drawn much attention because of the band's support from human rights groups and from major music artists including Paul McCartney.

HEADLINES YOU THOUGHT YOU'D NEVER SEE: Click here. (It's the parents who named him who should be arrested).

1aa1beckDAVID BECKHAM, LARGER THAN LIFE: Ten-foot almost-nude statues (pictured) of soccer star/underwear model/apparent heartthrob David Beckham will soon appear all over the United States in an ad campaign for his "underwear collection." For some reason this makes me sad. But I am thankful at least that the woman in the photo isn't doing to the Beckham statue what she might have been. (Use your imagination...)

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