Ballotgate welcome break from important stuff

01/12/2014 12:01 AM

01/12/2014 12:39 AM

I think most would agree it’s been a pretty big past week for sports news here in Greater Miami. I mean, the Dolphins started to blow things up by jettisoning unpopular general manager Jeff Ireland. Al Golden stayed at UM by turning down the Penn State job he might or might not have actually been offered. The Heat and LeBron James continued to be the Heat and LeBron James.

But what was everybody here talking about as the weekend approached?

Dan Le Batard’s baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

And with good reason!

The Dolphins’ shakeup was expected, Golden staying isn’t really news, per se, and we’ve become comfortably numb with the Heat’s NBA excellence, reminding ourselves to start paying real attention come the Eastern Conference finals.

So, thank you, Dan, because rarely does something come along as sublime and ridiculous as Ballotgate, the Cooperstown controversy, the baseball brouhaha!

You might know by now that Le Batard — the ESPN TV and radio personality and itinerant Miami Herald columnist — made national headlines late this week when it became known he gave his Cooperstown ballot to the website Deadspin, in “protest” of a voting electorate that continues (unfairly, he thinks) to not vote in the Steroids Era players.

Rounds of media interviews ensued. The BBWAA stripped Le Batard of his vote. It was publicity gold for Deadspin and Le Batard, not to mention an easy column top for me.

I must say — and I love Le Batard like a kid brother; we’ve been friends for 20 years, until this column — there have been protests somewhat more righteous than the understandably lonely cause of sport’s most infamous cheaters.

Laying down in front of a tank at Tiananmen Square — now that’s a protest! Standing up for Barry Bonds? Not so much.

(I love that Le Batard decries the “sanctimony” of voters like me who don’t vote for the steroids guys. Almost as if it is the voters’ fault and not the cheaters’ fault.)

Anyway, Le Batard has inspired me.

Therefore, in protest of a noble cause to be named later, I gave this Random Evidence column to my neighbor, Ned Farquar.

So if it’s even worse than usual, blame Ned.

• I looked it up in a book of etiquette. If anybody still wishes you a “Happy New Year” from this point forward, you may slap them.
• Hearing from a lot of Dolfans either feeling cheated or suffering withdrawal symptoms. With longtime punching bag Jeff Ireland suddenly gone, where does all the anger and frustration go!? Meantime, the Dolphins continue to interview general manager candidates whom fans and media have never heard of but have a strong opinion about, anyway.
• FSU fans are still celebrating their win over Auburn for the final BCS-era national championship. College football fans, like Dolfans with Ireland, will miss not having the BCS to kick around. Complaint: It’s the Guilty Pleasure!
• The UM men’s basketball team nearly pulled off an upset at No. 2 Syracuse, and then won at North Carolina. OK, Jim Larrañaga. You beat visiting Florida State on Wednesday, we start paying attention. Deal?
• James, 29, got carded last week in an Orlando hotel, evidently by the only bartender in America who has not had access to a television, the Internet or the outside world the past 10-plus years.
• The Heat played a game Thursday night at the Knicks against an opponent ( J.R. Smith) fined for untying an opponent’s shoelaces, then played Friday at the Nets on “nickname jerseys” night. When did the NBA become clown school?
• Speaking of clowns, Dennis Rodman was back in North Korea.
•  Ray Allen and Spike Lee are discussing reprising Allen’s “Jesus Shuttlesworth” role in a sequel to He Got Game, despite the slightest inkling of public demand.
• Former pro wrestler Ric Flair gave a pregame pep talk to the 49ers before they beat the Packers last week. Which helps explain Aaron Rodgers being hit over the head with that folding metal chair.
• In Panthers news, Ed Jovanovski returned from hip surgery and rookie Aleksander Barkov made Finland’s Olympic team. These are things that pass the time when not headed for the playoffs.
• The Australian Open, the tennis season’s first major, begins Monday. Just for fun, let’s go through the pretense of acting as if any woman other than Serena Williams might have a chance.
• And in today’s Battle of Strange College Coaching Moves, it’s Louisville rehiring Bobby Petrino, who left Arkansas in disgrace after a motorcycle crash with his mistress on board, against Penn State — of all schools — hiring James Franklin, who had four of his Vanderbilt players arrested for rape.
•  Johnny Manziel is turning pro. NFL sackers already are savoring the ostentatiousness of that nickname — Johnny Football — in anticipating their first meeting.
•  Evander Holyfield is in trouble for comparing homosexuality to a disability and calling it “treatable.” Having had part of an ear bitten off, I guess he couldn’t hear how dumb that sounded.
•  Floyd Mayweather Jr. keeps betting and winning big on sports. Poor fella only made $85 million boxing last year. Thank goodness for that added income.
• The WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks are in peril after their ownership group gave up control. “That’s crazy. How can any so-called major sports league not have a team in L.A.!” said the NFL.
• A horse named Commissioner is being touted as an early serious threat to win the Triple Crown, which means you’d want to bet heavily against it.
• Sports Name of the Week Challenge: Today, Thai golfer Pornanong Phatlum takes on Swiss bobsledder Beat Hefti.
•  Parting thought: As the Sochi Olympics in Russia draw nearer, security concerns intensify. One suggestion? Let every competitor carry a gun during competition instead of just biathletes.

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote, Instagram/upsetbird, Vine/Greg Cote and Facebook/Greg Cote.

About Greg Cote

Greg Cote

@gregcote

Greg Cote has been a Miami Herald sports columnist since 1995 and also writes the Random Evidence blog and NFL predictions along with his notorious sidekick the Upset Bird. He has covered Hurricanes football (1984-88), the Dolphins (1990-91) and major events including Super Bowls, NBA Finals, World Series, Stanley Cup, Olympics and World Cup.

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