May 30, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); plus who's feeling most heat in South Florida sports? 12 choices, you pick 3. Poll. Vote!; also, Memorial Day, long climb of Richard Bleier, extraordinary life of Charley Winner, your verdict on SB turf wars & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Memorialday1) It is MONDAY, MAY 30. Remembering and honoring America's war dead on this Memorial Day. We are the land of the free because of the  brave, and these were the bravest. See our Memorial Day tribute video below. 2) Thoughts and best wishes to former Hurricanes receiver Brett Perriman on his recovery in Atlanta from a stroke. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Turf Wars on Super Bowl name with poll, rooting for LeBron, your preferred NBA Finals matchup & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The Under Pressure 12, the new one, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive. Whale Watching Expedition, on how Heat's best shot for a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James this summer is for Miami fans to hope LeBron wins the NBA title.

PressureUNDER PRESSURE: WHO'S FEELING THE HEAT IN SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS: My latest Sunday column (click The Under Pressure 12 to read in full) explores the topic of pressure and lists the dozen South Florida sports figures who are or should be feeling the most of it. The reason vary, starting with No. 1 on our list, Chris Bosh, whose medical situation puts him under a much different pressure than Ryan Tannehill, who must win, or Giancarlo Stanton, who must perform to the tune of $325 million. Everyone has his own definition of pressure in sports and their own thoughts on who's under it. I am curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll, the dozen choices listed alphabetically, and vote for the three (3) you think are or should be under the most pressure. Then check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: NFL rewards Stephen Ross, names Dolphins stadium as 2020 SB host: Miami and a refurbished, canopied Dolphins stadium in 2020 will host its first Super Bowl since 2010, thanks to a vote of NFL owners this week. Your city hosting a Super Bowl? Good. Your city playing in one? Infinitely better.

2. NBA: LeBron awaits Oklahoma City-Golden State Game 7 winner tonight: Well, Heat fans are guaranteed at least four more games to cheer or boo. LeBron's in the Finals! The question is who Cleveland will face, with Oklahoma City going to a Game 7 at Golden State tonight. LeBron vs. Kevin Durant or LeBron vs. Steph Curry. Fans can't lose.

3. MARLINS: Jose en fuego; Fish finally figure out Braves: Miami is hanging within striking distance of playoff contention and one reason is ace Jose Fernandez, who in last four starts has allowed three runs with 43 strikeouts in 27 innings. Fish are back home this week and Jose pitches Tuesday. Meanwhile Miami finally figured out Atlanta. Before yesterday the Braves had been are 5-0 vs. Miami, 9-34 against everybody else.

4. SOCCER: Real Madrid reigns, now Copa America on deck: It was Real Madrid beating Atletico Madrid on penalties Saturday after a 1-1 game in the UEFA Champions League final. Now comes Copa America June 3-26 in 10 U.S. cities, with the U.S. team debuting this coming Friday vs. Colombia. A championship by the hosts? That’s the goooooaaaaalll!

5. NHL: It’s a Pittsburgh-San Jose Stanley Cup Finals: NHL begins to reveal its next champion with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. San Jose is making its first SCF appearance. Pittsburgh is in its fifth, including titles in 1991, 1992, 2009.

6. AUTO RACING: Rookie wins centennial Indianapolis 500: NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 ran, too, but the Indy 500 is the one day Indy-car racing owns the sport of auto racing. Especially when it happens to be the 100th running of "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing," won Sunday by rookie Alexander Rossi.

7. CANES BASEBALL: UM falls short in ACC, but named regional host: The No. 3-ranked and top-seeded Miami Hurricanes failed to reach Sunday's ACC Tournament championship game, but still were named an NCAA Regional host as expected. Today the Canes learn which other teams will be here. For UM, as always, the Regionals mean one thing. Omaha or bust.

8. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic in line for milestones at midpoint of French Open: A title by Serena Williams would tie Steffi Graf's open-era record of 22 majors, while a French title is the only major that has eluded Novak Djokovic, whose path cleared when Rafael Nadal withdrew with a wrist injury.

9. DOLPHINS: Fins continue offseason OTA practices: The next ones are Tuesday through Thursday. OTA stands for "organized team activities," which always sounds to me like something that should involve arts and crafts, like making a log cabin out of popsicle sticks.

10. PANTHERS: Cats trade Gudbranson, plan unveiling: Florida continued to fix what wasn't broke, trading young defenseman Erik Gudbranson. This Thursday the club unveils its new logo and uniforms. Team will look different next season. Question is whether they'll look like a team ready to win a playoff series for first time since 1996.

Missing the cut: Canes football coach Mark Richt is donating $1 million toward the school's new indoor practice facility. Richt hasn't coached a game yet, but he keeps winning. ..... It took eight games but NASL  expansion team Miami FC earned its first victory, 1-0 over Edmonton. Congrats, I think ..... Chris Berman will step down from his current role at ESPN after this coming football season, meaning he won't be backbackbackbackback ..... Quick aside to Koa Misi: Nothing good ever happens outside a nightclub at 3:40 a.m. ..... Heat lost without playing as Erik Spoelstra's top assistant, David Fizdale, headed to Memphis ..... Scandal-plagued Baylor fired football coach Art Briles over his handling of sexual assault charge against players, and Ole Miss self-imposed sanctions for rules violations. The 'C' in NCAA stands for cheating, right? ..... Tom Brady is appealing his four-game Deflategate suspension. You get the feeling Brady will be retired and perhaps dead and this thing will still be going on in the courts ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie, with one finalist stymied by the word "feldenkrais" and the other by "gesellschaft." I'm still trying to figure out how to spell "Krzyzewski" ..... Jose Mourinho is the new savior at Manchester United. Until he loses his first math ..... Colombia beat Haiti 3-1 yesterday at Marlins Park. I wonder if soccer fans booed Jeffrey Loria just on principle? ..... There is increasing media speculation that Tiger Woods may never play again, one more reason to hope he does ..... Sport Name of the Week: Last week's LPGA tournament runnerup, So Oh ..... Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity apologized for paying the rapper Ludacris $65,000 for a 13-minute performance at Bulldogs' spring game. Ludicrous! ..... Canada beat Finland 2-0 to win the world hockey championships in Moscow. "We'd rather have the Stanley Cup back," said Canada in unison ..... Miami Gun Show ended Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Yes, because, if there is one thing we need more of in Miami, it's guns!

RICHARD BLEIER: A LONG CLIMB, BUT HE MADE IT: Richard Bleier, a local kid who played ball at South Plantation High, this week became a major-league rookie at age 29, after a career's climb through the minor leagues. He is wearing New York Yankees pinstripes this weekend as the team that called him up on Thursday plays in Tampa Bay. He did not pitch in that series; his MLB debut could come tonight in Toronto. BleierHis Dad, Lawrence, is from the Bronx and grew up a Mickey Mantle-era Yankees fans, so this is all as exciting for him as it for his son. "It's a dream come true," Lawrence told the Fort Myers News-Press. (Richard pitched in college for Florida Gulf Coast there). "He’s been very level-headed about everything. He’s excited, but he has anticipated this day for a long time. So here he is. How long he will be there, we don’t know. Whatever it is, he’ll be a major leaguer. It’ll be in the baseball encyclopedia." Richard said in a text, "It's an awesome feeling. I've worked my entire life to get here." Richard was a teammate of my son Christopher's at South Plantation High, where I announced the games from a purple-painted wood pressbox overlooking home plate. Richard was a lanky lefthanded pitcher, rather stoic, prone to being a bit too hard on himself. His father would sometimes come up into the press box and kibitz for an inning or two. Since those days Richard has spent the last 10 or 12 years climbing, pitching, dreaming. He will wear uniform No. 50, and pitch out of the bullpen for the Yankees. I hope his stay in the big leagues lasts as long as it took him to finally get there, but perseverance is its own reward. As his Dad noted, no matter how long his stay, his name will be in the baseball encyclopedia now. No matter how long his stay, he made it. Congratulations, Richard.

Poll result: 'Miami' swamps 'South Florida' when it comes to Super Bowl: We asked what is the best title for the 2020 NFL championship game awarded this week, and it was 75.7 percent for 'Miami Super Bowl' and 24.3% for 'South Florida Super Bowl.'

REMEMBERING AND HONORING AMERICA'S WAR DEAD: This video is called "50,000 Names Carved In the Wall," by country legend George Jones. It about about the Vietnam Memorial, but its message reaches across all generations, wars and all who made the ultimate sacrifice. If you can watch this video without tearing up, you are a stronger person than I. (For those in a sentimental or patriotic mood today, I also recommend "Ragged Old Flag," by Johnny Cash). 

 Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 27, 2016

Turf Wars: Should it be 'Miami Super Bowl' or 'South Florida Super Bowl'? Poll. Vote now!: plus rooting for LeBron, verdict on the NBA Finals you want & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 27. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA Finals matchup you most want poll, separating Marlins from Loria, your verdict on a South Florida Super Bowl & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Whale Watching Expedition, the latest one, on how Heat's best shot for a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James this summer is for Miami fans to hope LeBron wins the NBA title. The LeBron & Draymond Follies, on the playoffs as NBA Follies. No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins, on how Fins must earn back the faith and trust they've lost.

Rooting for LeBron: Many if not most Heat fans don't want to, but should know it is in their best interest, because LeBron James delivering an NBA championship to Cleveland is the best shot Miami has at landing Kevin Durant or LeBron this summer. I explore in this week's latest column. Click on Whale Watching Expedition to read in full. [Quick aside: Metrics saying this column has been burning up MiamiHerald.com; one of the most-read pieces I've written in a while. Don't miss it].

TURF WARS: 'SOUTH FLORIDA' SUPER BOWL VS. 'MIAMI' SUPER BOWL: This debate interests me, and it is explained well by colleague Douglas Hanks in this story. I can speak pretty objectively here, I think, because I walk the line on Miami-Dade vs. Broward, on 305 vs. 954. A lot of both are in me. I work for the Miami Herald and do a radio show on South Beach. Yet I live
Sblogosin Broward, was raised there, and my social orbit revolves closer to Fort Lauderdale than farther south. I have a foot in each county, if you want to picture me as a Brobdingnagian colossus. And I get the parochial bickering at play on how to promote the 2019-season (February 2020) Super Bowl awarded this week to Dolphins stadium. Argument: It should be the "Miami Super Bowl" because it is being played in Miami-Dade, that county is pouring more money into hosting it, and "Miami" is a more instantly recognizable and promotable brand than the amorphous "South Florida." Counter-argument: "South Florida Super Bowl" is more accurate and fair, mainly because so many SB-related events and hotel space will be rooted in Broward. Pictured at right: the official South Florida bid committee logo used in securing the NFL owners' vote to bring the game here, and the Miami host committee logo that Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Giminez displayed -- angering Broward officials. I am rarely on the fence about anything, an awful place to be for a sports columnist paid to have sharp opinions. But in this case I see both sides. "South Florida Super Bowl" is more inclusive, accurate and fair. But "Miami Super Bowl" is more concise and a better sell nationally and internationally. I'd probably narrowly vote for the latter, but feel a tinge of guilt in doing so. Wondering what you all think; hence, this new (and alphabetical!) poll. Try to separate where you happen to work, live or play from your vote. It isn't a which-county-rules poll. I am wondering instead which way to describe the game is the better way for "us" to promote a Super Bowl being held at Dolphins stadium. Vote, say why you think that way, and check back a lot to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: Cavaliers vs. Thunder is the NBA Finals you most want to see: We asked which of four possible Finals matchups you prefer (you may still vote), and it was Cavaliers-Thunder with 42.4 percent, Raptors-Thunder 28.8%, Cavs-Warriors 21.7% and Raptors-Warriors 7.1%.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 25, 2016

Cavaliers now betting faves for NBA title. Which of the 4 possible Finals matchups do you most want to see? New poll. Vote now!; plus separating the Marlins from Loria, your verdict on a South Florida Super Bowl & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida Super Bowl poll, Stanton's epic strikeout pace, your verdict on Dolphins win total, tweaking Trump & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The LeBron & Draymond Follies, on the playoffs as NBA Follies. No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins, on how Fins must earn back the faith and trust they've lost. Conviction on Whiteside, Uncertainty on Bosh, on Pat Riley's annual state-of-the-Heat address.

LeBron, Cavs now favorites for championship: For th0e first time all season Golden State is no longer the favorite to win the NBA title. New odds out today via Bovada have it Cleveland at 7-5, Oklahoma City 8-5, Golden State 3-1 and Toronto 25-1.

NbafinalsWHICH NBA FINALS MATCHUP ARE YOU MOST HOPING TO SEE?: Any of four NBA Finals matchups could happen. Chances are one of them interests you most to watch. Which one? In the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors are tied 2-2 entering tonight's Game 5 in Cleveland. Out West, Oklahoma City leads defending champion Golden State 3-1 entering Game 5 Thursday night at GS. The Cavs remain the East favorite. The Thunder surely are now favored to take the West, although one still cannot discount the Warriors, with two of the last three potential games at home. If you could magically make happen the ideal Finals from among the four possibilities, it would be what and why? Take a dip in our alphabetically listed poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

SEPARATING THE MARLINS FROM THE MARLINS OWNER: Interesting piece here in Miami New Times about the Marlins playing hardball in court with season-ticket holders and stadium vendors who they say have reneged on contractual agreements. One ticket holder, local veterinarian Mickey Alexband, 59, a charter Fish fan since 1993, is featured. He is one of at least nine fans Marlins Loriaor vendors being taken to court. They in turn  say the Marlins reneged on promises. From New Times: "The Marlins promised first-floor parking in the [new stadium's] garage and a private entrance. There would also be a lounge with pre- and postgame buffets so season ticket­ holders could arrive early or hang out late. Axelband happily paid $24,000 for the two-seat package — nearly double the $13,000 he'd ponied up for the final year at Dolphin Stadium. He agreed to a two-year deal. Although only the private lounge was actually written into the contract, Axelband says he had no reason to believe the team wouldn't follow through." But it didn't, apparently. Who is right or wrong legally is for the court to decide, although it is fair to say the Marlins playing hardball on this does not enhance the already awful reputation of owner Jeffrey Loria (pictured). Would South Florida be better off with a different Marlins owner? Absolutely! But I still do not buy the argument (and I hear it a lot) from would-be fans who say they won't support the team as long as Loria owns it. MLB in Miami is bigger than Loria. Keeping our team is more important than punishing the current owner in some pointless way. For me it is not a moral conundrum to simultaneously object to Loria but support the team. As even Axelband says in the New Times: "I'll still go to games, I'll still be a fan. I'm rooting for the guys in the uniforms, not Loria."

Poll result: Super Bowl in South Florida is good. Dolphins in it is better: We asked how important it is to you that South Florida host a Super Bowl, and a plurality of 42.1 percent voted "not important unless Dolphins are in it." However, 36.2% voted "very important" and 21.7% voted "somewhat important." Notably, the "very important" votes spiked up from around 30 percent after the announcement Tuesday that Dolphins stadium had been awarded the 2019-season (February 2020) game.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 24, 2016

South Florida named host of 2019-season Super Bowl! How much do you care? Poll. Vote now; plus Dolphins' AFC East odds, Stanton's epic strikeouts pace, non-news on LeBron's Miami return, thank you Bahamas, your verdict on Dolphins' 2016 win total & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Bahamas Dylan1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 24. A happy 75th birthday today to an American  music and cultural icon, Bob Dylan (pictured right). 2) I want to be Ichiro when I grow up. 3) Thank you, Bahamas and Royal Caribbean, for a wonderful weekend family cruise! The six of us had a terrific time. The photo at left was taken by me on Sunday; click on it to see a larger version. I would be remiss of course to not also thank my new best friend, a local named Kalik. Kalik Beer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Gauging Dolfans' optimism with poll, Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on ESPN, woman chooses death over Trump or Clinton & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

More signs nobody believes in Dolphins: Vegas NFL divisional odds are out today (via Bovada), and for the AFC East it's Patriots a huge favorite at 5-11, Bills and Jets both 21-4, and Dolphins the longshot at 8-1. Meantime this new list calls the Dolphins the fifth-most dysfunctional team in the NFL. Cue buoyant "We're No. 5!" chant.

"Yes, we have. We have reached a point where something Stephen A. Smith says, vaguely and speculatively, about LeBron James maybe somebody returning to Miami, passes as news that is regurgitated by other media. Pretty amazing when you think about."  --Greg Cote 

Thank you, LeBron. Thank you, Draymond: Those two sports videos-gone-viral over the weekend -- first of LeBron James' Flop and then of Draymond Green's Kick -- are why the Internet was invented, and also some of why you're probably still watching the NBA playoffs even if your team is out of the running. These are the dog days for pro sports in South Florida, with no Heat or Panthers left, the Dolphins pretending like May practices are important and the Marlins sunk back to mediocrity. So thanks, LeBron and Draymond, for keeping us interested. Click on The LeBron & Draymond Follies for my latest column.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The LeBron & Draymond Follies, the new one, on the playoffs as NBA Follies. No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins, on how Fins must earn back the faith and trust they've lost. Conviction on Whiteside, Uncertainty on Bosh, on Pat Riley's annual state-of-the-Heat address.

SoflabidSOUTH FLORIDA AWARDED 2019-SEASON SUPER BOWL. HOW MUCH DO YOU CARE?: In Charlotte, N.C. today  NFL owners vote to award the 2019-season Super Bowl -- to be held in February 2020 -- to South Florida and the renovated Dolphins stadium. That's Super Bowl 54, or LIV for our Roman friends. Other competing cities were Los Angeles, Atlanta, Tampa and New Orleans. This obviously is a huge day for Greater Miami civic leaders embodied by the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, and also for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross as he (finally) justified his great personal expenditure on stadium improvements. I wonder, though, if hosting a Super Bowl is as important, or important at all, to South Floridians. To Dolphins fans. And you know what happens when I wonder. A poll happens! Take in a dip in our poll, say which answer most reflects how you feel, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

GstantonSPECIAL K: MARLINS' STANTON ON RECORD STRIKEOUT PACE: Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' $325 Million Man, is on pace to challenge 40 home runs, with 11 just past the season's quarter mark. That's the good news. That bad news? Just about everything else. He is batting .213 after Monday night's home win and had struck out 60 times in 42 games (1.43 per game) entering today. If he continues at that pace the remainder of the year his final strikeout total would be 229 -- an all-time major league single-season record. Stanton's current projected total compared to players who have struck out 200 or more times in a season:

Player, Team                              Year        K's        Per game

Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins       2016       229       1.43       

Mark Reynolds, D'backs           2009       223       1.44

Adam Dunn, White Sox            2012       222       1.47

Chris Carter, Astros                  2013       212       1.43

Mark Reynolds, D'backs           2010      211       1.46

Chris Davis, Orioles                 2015      208        1.30

Drew Stubbs, Reds                   2011      205        1.30

Mark Reynolds, D'backs          2008      204        1.34

Note: Marlins' current season record is held by Preston Wilson with 187 strikeouts (1.16 per) in 2000.

Poll result: Dolfans slightly more optimistic on 2016 Dolphins than Las Vegas: The Vegas betting over/under on Miami wins is 7. Yours is 8.1 -- slightly above .500 but likely not a playoff number -- based on an aggregate of votes in our recent poll. The breakdown: 10 or more wins 12.8 percent; 9 wins 31.4%; 8 wins 27.9%; 7 wins 13.3%; and 6 or fewer wins 14.6%. Although 9 wins was the most popular vote, the average of all votes cast was 8.145.

TrumpmenuTWEAKING TRUMP, NORWAY-STYLE: Sign outside a Norwegian Mexican restaurant. The joke feels so five-months-ago to us, perhaps, but I like seeing American politics reflected around the world.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 23, 2016

Dolfans optimistic? After all the changes, how many games will Dolphins win in 2016? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated), woman chooses death over Trump or Clinton, your verdict on ESPN & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 23. I'm back! Spent a long weekend in the Bahamas. More on that later. 2) Good story here by ESPN's Pablo S. Torre on the friendship between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Not sure I entirely buy the premise that the friendship is all that controversial. But an interesting read nonetheless. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Is-ESPN-in-trouble poll, navigating dog days of SoFla sports, proof Joe Public still hates Dolphins, your pessimism on Bosh's return, FA Cup champs list & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins, the new one, on how Fins must earn back the faith and trust they've lost. Conviction on Whiteside, Uncertainty on Bosh, on Pat Riley's state-of-the-Heat address. It's Pat Riley Season!, on Heat's looming offseason.

DolfanHOW OPTIMISTIC (OR NOT) ARE DOLPHINS FANS RIGHT NOW?: I won't know unless I ask, right? On one hand, there seem to be legitimate reasons for optimism, after an encouraging coaching hire in Adam Gase, a promising draft led by Laremy Tunsil and a free-agency period in which gains led by Mario Williams at least offset losses. Yet the disappointment and mistrust are ingrained now, yes? They have become part of the fabric of being a Dolfan. It is hard to expect this franchise to do right, or to be good, after 10 to 15 years of mostly letdowns. (Click on No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins for my latest column more fully exploring all of this). Mirroring the more doubtful/skeptical side, the new Las Vegas betting over/under on Dolphins wins (via Bovada) is a mere seven. That's one better than last year's dismal 6-10 season, but 7-9 isn't a playoff team and doesn't budge the club from its rut of mediocrity. Now, ESPN's offseason report card for each team weighs in with a D+ grade for Miami. Ouch. Betting lines mirror public perception, so that means Mr. Vegas with its over/under of 7 wins is surmising that gamblers football fans in general aren't sold on Miami being appreciably better. My question: Are Dolfans sold on the improvement? Is South Florida more optimistic? Are you? Only one way to find out: A poll! Take a dip in it. As always, I encourage you to vote as dispassionately as you can, not as a fan, but honestly, as if you were betting with mind (or money), not heart. Ready? Go! Vote, say why you feel as you do, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Riley unequivocal on Whiteside as team's offseason priority: The Silver Fox favored the media with his annual postseason State of the Heat address (the onset of Pat Riley Season) and left zero doubt that re-signing center Hassan Whiteside long-term is the club's No. 1 priority. Alas, he could not be as unequivocal on Chris Bosh's future, only saying the club is "trying to find a way" to get Bosh back on the court. That's hopeful. But a little ominous, too?

2. MARLINS: Miami need to pick up the pace: Fish, in a current five-game homestand, remain in playoff contention as year's second quarter began but are only 6-9 since that 11-1 streak. Slumping Giancarlo Stanton is hitting .211 and on pace for a club-record 237 strikeouts. The good news? The $325 Million Man gotta get hot soon ... right?

3. NBA: Cavaliers, Thunder up 2-1 entering Game 4s: Cleveland leads 2-1 in East finals over Toronto entering Game 4 tonight in Canada, while Oklahoma City is up 2-1 out West over Golden State entering Game 4 Tuesday in OKC. That "inevitable" LeBron James vs. Steph Curry finals is on hold for a bit.

4. DOLPHINS: Miami prepares for OTA practices: Fins will stage full practices this Tuesday though Thursday and again May 31 as new Vegas betting odds set the team's wins over/under at a modest seven. Meantime club this week bids to host three more Super Bowls, the next in 2019. How 'bout Miami spends less time on hosting a Super Bowl and more time on playing in one.

5. UM BASEBALL: Third-ranked UM begins postseason play: The regular season now done, Jim Morris' No. 3 Hurricanes prepare now for the ACC Tournament running this Tuesday though next Sunday, followed by an expected host's role in an NCAA Regionals. That in turn will lead to the College World Series ... or a very good Canes season will have been for naught.

6. HORSE RACING: Exaggerator denies Nyquist in Preakness: It was possible, after almost 30 years without a Triple Crown winner, the sport might now have had two in a row. That was the true entering Saturday's Preakness. It isn't now.

7. PANTHERS: Cats announce new logo and uniform unveiling: Florida announced it will reveal its new logo and look at its arena on June 2. That's good. Even better: Announce you're going to reveal a hockey team that can win a playoff series for the first time since 1996.

8. NHL: Tampa Bay can clinch spot in Finals on home ice: Tampa Bay leads Pittsburgh 3-2 in East semis and can clinch spot in Stanley Cup Finals on home ice Tuesday night, with St. Louis and San Jose tied 2-2 out West. Alas, not sure if any Finals matchup that arises of this will makes hearts race outside of the competing cities.

9. TENNIS: French Open, one of sports' majors, gets underway Sunday: Well, OK. Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are the two big majors. They get together and make fun of the French and Australian Opens. But still.

10. SOCCER: Americans train in Miami for Copa America: Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. men are training in Miami for the Copa America being held in the U.S. in June. Meantime, Manchester United won Saturday's FA Cup final that riveted attention across Great Britain.

Missing the cut: I Googled the phrase ENOUGH ALREADY! and saw that Tom Brady is now appealing the reinstatement of his four-game suspension ..... The Pro Bowl reportedly is moving to Orlando in 2017. What a perfect destination for a Mickey Mouse event! ..... Dolphins will be back on WQAM-560 this season for first time since 2009. That's big news for the station. Also for the estimated nearly 1 percent of all people who don't own televisions ..... Miami Dolphins Foundation held its 20th annual golf-and-fishing Fins Weekend fundraiser ending Saturday. Hopefully funds will go toward fielding a winning football team for a change ..... Valued Heat assistant David Fizdale interviewed with Memphis. Miami would love him to get the opportunity (but not really!) ..... The NFL is returning to the government more than $723,000 its teams (including the Dolphins) received in "sponsored" military tributes. Hey, somebody gotta pay for those gigantic, football field-sized flags! ..... Second-worst golf week: Tiger Woods tried to demonstrate how close his game was to healthy by hitting three straight wedge shots in the water. Worst golf week: Phil Mickelson must pay back nearly $1 million in money he received via insider trading ..... Rangers 2B Rougned Odor was suspended eight games for landing a punch vs. Toronto. Wild guess: You grow up with the name "Odor," you get in your share of fights ..... UM women's tennis lost in the NCAA Sweet 16. Feeling nostalgic, Canes fans blamed Al Golden ..... Scotland's Muirfield Golf Club voted to continue its ban on women members, erasing itself from consideration to host the British Open. Club officials could not be reached, because they are all living in the previous century ..... Canes men's basketball coach Jim Larranaga, 66, said, "I'm going to coach until I'm dead." A foolproof way to avoid being fired, come to think of it ..... The 76ers won the NBA draft lottery and will have the first pick in June. They'll still be awful, but now will have one less good excuse ..... The Indianapolis 500 is next Sunday. Gentlemen, get ready to get ready to start your engines ..... And in other news, WNBA season is underway, and you continue to ignore it.

Poll result: ESPN diminished, but still the boss: We asked what best reflects your opinion of ESPN in light of recent departures from the network, and a plurality of 46.0 percent chose "diminished but still the leader." However, more than twice as many voted for "in decline" (36.9%) over "as big as ever" (17.1%).

ObitWHO SAYS THERE IS NO HUMOR IN DEATH?: Either the dearly departed or the bereaved she left behind had a sense of humor in writing the opening of this newspaper obituary. I must say Mary Anne Noland probably speaks for millions of Americans faced with what they perceive as a lesser-of-two-evils presidential decision in November. Although I'm guessing the vast majority of us will either choose the lesser evil or choose to abstain from voting rather than choose the great beyond as a preferred alternative.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 19, 2016

Is mighty ESPN in trouble? Poll. Vote now; plus Justise Winslow honor, proof Joe Public still doubts Dolphins, my column on Riley's state-of-Heat address, navigating dog days of SoFla sports, your pessimism on Bosh & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Trumpovercomb1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 19. I found the mock-poster at right to be clever and funny. But it's OK, Republicans. I make fun of Hillary's pantsuits, too. 2) Justise Winslow of Heat makes NBA All-Rookie second team, 11th Miami rook to make 1st or 2nd team. 3) R.I.P., 60 Minutes' Morley Safer, gone at 84. R.I.P. as well to the victims of the Egypt Air crash. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Will Chris Bosh play again with poll, changes coming to LeBatard Show, your was-Heat-season-a-success verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Conviction on Whiteside, Uncertainty on Bosh, the new one, on Pat Riley's state-of-the-Heat address. It's Pat Riley Season!, on Heat's looming offseason. Small Ball, Big Win, off Heat Game 6 home win over Toronto.

My new Pat Riley column from his State of the Heat address: Click on Conviction on Whiteside, Uncertainty on Bosh to read my latest column in full.

"The Dolphins returning to WQAM for the first time since 2009 is big news for the station but inconsequential to Dolfans, who don't care what spot on the dial feeds them their games." --Greg Cote

DolphinsJOE PUBLIC STILL HATES THE DOLPHINS AND THINK THEY'LL STINK AGAIN: Hiring Adam Gase didn't do it. Neither did free agency. Or a highly regarded draft led by Laremy Tunsil. As you read here before it was anywhere else on MiamiHerald.com, new NFL over/unders on win totals via Bovada suggest the betting public still thinks  very little of your Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins over/under of 7 wins is last in the AFC East behind the Patriots at 10.5 and the Bills and Jets both at 8. New England is in a five-way tie for first at 10.5 with the Panthers, Packers, Seahawks and Steelers. Miami's 7 is tied for fourth from the bottom. The only lower O/U's are the 49ers and Titans both at 5.5 and the Browns at 4.5.

DogdaysNAVIGATING AND SURVIVING THE DOG DAYS OF SPORTS IN SOUTH FLORIDA: Down here the dog days on our sports calendar are that yawning patch of spring and summer from the time the Heat are done until August, when football thunders in subtle as a solar eclipse. This year, the Summer Olympics in Rio also begin Aug. 5. But what until then? What to watch before football other than the rest of the NBA and NHL playoffs? Well here is your primer (and it includes football). Here are highlights of the local and national sports calendar from now through July:

MARLINS: Homestands May 20-24, May 30-June 5, June 17-26, July 8-10, July 22-31 / Fish vs. Braves at Fort Bragg July 3 / All-Star Game July 12.

DOLPHINS: OTAs May 24-26, May 31, June 1-2, June 6-9. Mandatory minicamp June 14-16.

CANES BASEBALL: ACC tournament May 24-29, then NCAA regionals (schedule to be announced), then College World Series June 18-29.

SOCCER: Fort Lauderdale Strikers NASL home games May 21, 27; June 12; July 2, 10, 13, 23. Miami FC home May 28; June 4; July 9, 16, 30 / Colombia vs. Haiti May 29 at Marlins Park / FA Cup final May 21 / UEFA Champions League final May 28 / Copa America in U.S. June 3-26 / Euro '16 in France June 10-July 10.

HORSE RACING: The Preakness May 21 / Belmont Stakes June 11.

AUTO RACING: Indianapolis 500 May 29 / NASCAR at Daytona July 2.

GOLF: U.S. Open June 16-19 / British Open July 14-17.

TENNIS: French Open May 22-June 5 / Wimbledon June 27-July 10.  

MISCELLANEA: NHL Awards Show June 22 / NBA Draft June 23 / Tour de France cycling July 2-24 / WWE Smackdown wrestling June 28 in Miami.

EspnIS ESPN IN TROUBLE?: Skip Bayless. Mike Tirico. Bill Simmons. Colin Cowherd. Keith Olbermann. Jason Whitlock. These are some of the prominent on-air personalitiies who have recently or in the past year or so departed from ESPN. The question: Does it matter? There is a growing narrative that the run of departures, coupled with declining subscriber numbers, suggests the Disney-owned ESPN brand is taking a hit and losing its once-commanding tight grip as the industry leader. Take a dip in our poll and share your thoughts:

Poll result: Surprising pessimism on Bosh's Heat future: The word surprising is mine. Poll results here don't often surprise me. This one did. We asked what you think is most likely to happen with Chris Bosh, and a plurality of 44.1 percent voted that he'd resume playing but have more blood-clot issues that might then abort his career. Nearly as many (40.6%) thought he would be forced to retire without every playing again. Only 15.3% voted that Bosh would resume his Heat career with no recurrence of health problems.

THE LIST: FA CUP CHAMPIONS: This Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London will mark the 135th FA Cup final of English soccer as Manchester United faces Crystal Palace. Man U goes for a record-tying 12th FA Cup title and Crystal Palace seeks its first ever. Most FA Cup finals wins:

Team                    FA Cups    Most recent

Arsenal                     12         2015

Manchester United    11         2004

Tottenham Hotspur    8          1991

Chelsea                     7          2012

Liverpool                  7          2006

Aston Villa                7          1957

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 18, 2016

Big change coming to LeBatard Show; plus will Chris Bosh ever play again for Miami Heat? New poll. Vote now!; also, it's Pat Riley season, your verdict on Heat's year & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 17. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 7 with was-season-a-success poll, Hot Button Top 10, history of Heat G7s list, your NBA favorite verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: It's Pat Riley Season!, the latest, on Heat's looming offseason move. Small Ball, Big Win, off Heat Game 6 home win. Heat is America's Underdog, on how injuries and obstacles cast Miami in an unaccustomed role.

DanshowCHANGE COMING TO LEBATARD SHOW: What we first reported exclusively in our blog here yesterday has been confirmed this morning on the air: A change coming to the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz will affect how the top-rated radio show looks on television and where you can see it. The show airs weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, with the three-hour national show also simulcast on TV. But today's/Wednesday's show be the last to air on Fusion TV (that contract is expiring) and also the last to utilize the current larger television studio and look. Beginning in June (target date is June 6 but that isn't firm), the show will be televised solely on ESPNU from the smaller radio studio previously used only for the local hour. Both studios are adjacent on the second floor of the Clevelander hotel on South Beach. The LeBatard Show show will be radio-only from Thursday until it returns to TV in the redesigned smaller studio in June.

ON CHRIS BOSH'S MURKY FUTURE WITH THE HEAT: The uncertainty and mystery took another turn late yesterday with the latest questionable and questioned report by ESPN's Brian Windhorst, Boshwho said on the Mike & Mike radio show that Miami Heat doctors may never clear Bosh to play again and that he could end up as a forced "medical retirement" on account of the issue with blood clots that has now shortened his past two seasons. Windhorst wrote a column saying, "There is a fear within the Heat organization that Bosh's condition will prevent him from ever being cleared to play by team doctors, several sources said." (Full column here). However, most local media closer to the team than Windhorst believe the Heat remains hopeful Bosh will be cleared to resume his career next season. It was just a week or so ago when Windhorst reported of friction between Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic -- something vehemently denied by all concerned in Miami. None of us can know for sure about Bosh; how can we when neither the club nor player ever seem to be certain or in agreement. Click on It's Pat Riley Season! for my latest column, in which I explore how Bosh 's uncertain future weighs on everything -- including the team's planned pursuit fo Kevin Durant in free agency this summer. We all wish the best for Bosh, of course. But what is your expectation on how the Bosh saga will turn out? Please vote in this poll how you believe it will play out, what you'd bet on, not what you hope happens.

Poll result: Unequivocally, Heat season was a success: We asked you if the Heat season just-ended was successful, and by a better than 5-1 margin you answered yes (80.9 perecent) over no (14.6%), with the other 4.5% undecided. The overwhelming positivity is all the more impressive because of the timing, with the poll first out just minutes after Sunday's Game 7 loss in Toronto.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 16, 2016

Successful Heat season? Yes or no? New poll. Vote now!; plus Miami done 1 win shy of LeBron in 116-89 loss at Toronto; also, Winslow 6th in rookie vote, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your NBA favorite (no duh), history of Heat G7s & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 16. Heat's Justise Winslow today finished 6th in NBA rookie of the year voting, won in a landslide by Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat win Game 6, NBA favorite poll, Heat playoff foes list & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Small Ball, Big Win, the latest, off Friday's Heat Game 6 home win. Heat is America's Underdog, on how injuries and obstacles have cast Miami in an unaccustomed role. Be Careful What You Wish For, from Heat's Game 4 home win.

G7: TORONTO 117, HEAT 89: CLOBBERED! DONE. MIAMI'S SEASON ENDS ONE WIN SHY OF MEETING LEBRON: Clobbered. Out and done. Miami's injury-marred playoff run ended abruptly in Toronto Sunday in a decisive Game 7 loss to the Raptors in the NBA's Eastern semifinals -- the Heat falling one win short of meeting LeBron James and Cleveland in the next round. Heat lived by the small-ball to win Game 6 and died by it Sunday, outrebounded big, 50-30. Raptors also dominated in free throw attempts, 43-23. Toronto's aggressive defense kept any one Heat player from standing out, with Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade leading Miami with a modest 16 points each. Meanwhile Toronto's guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 63. This had been a tight, even series in every game. But not today. Hard to argue the better team did not advance. ..... Original post: This is why we love sports, right? Today. This. A winner-take-all Game 7. Loser gets an offseason. Winner gets LeBron James in an NBA Eastern finals starting Tuesday in Cleveland. Tipping off at 3:30 p.m. today up in Canada, the Raptors try to reach the East finals for the first time, Miator G7while the Heat try to be the first team ever to erase 3-2 deficits in two straight postseason series. "This is why we're in this business, to be challenged," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And there is no greater challenge than a Game 7." The pressure is on the Raptors today, as the favored home team and higher seed -- magnified by Toronto's 2-6 record in elimination games. A big question is if Miami will continue to play the small-ball that won Game 6, featuring mostly guards and small forwards on the court. With Chris Bosh out and Hassan Whiteside still out, Udonis Haslem and Amar'e Stoudemire did not play at all in Game 6 and Josh McRoberts played only 19  minutes. I'd expect more of the same today. Why change? The Heat are 7-1 in their last eight elimination games and going for a fifth straight today. Somebody's season ends today. Somebody else moves on. America will be watching. And so will LeBron.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami falls at Toronto in Game 7, one win shy of LeBron: Heat and Raptors kept rest of NBA waiting but final four finally is now set with Sunday's Miami Game 7 loss in Toronto. Winner gets Cleveland, which has been waiting an extra long time after a four-game sweep. Raptors best hope now? That LeBron’s rest has turned to rust.

2. MARLINS: Fish trying to stay hot on the road: Miami has now won 15 of its past 21 games including two straight at Washington with another strong effort by Jose Fernandez (5-2) on Sunday in midst of a seven-game road trip. It was a seven-game road win streak in late April that began the turnaround. Considering team's recent paltry home crowds, Fish may be better off heading to the airport than to Marlins Park.

3. NBA: It's three-fourths a marquee final four: It'll be MVP Steph Curry's Golden State vs. Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City in the West finals starting tonight. East finals begin Tuesday, with LeBron James' Cleveland awaiting Toronto. How much did Dwyane Wade want to complete a starry final-four quartet? (Meantime San Antonio was eliminated but Gregg Popovich is still looking for a reporter to rudely yell at).

4. PANTHERS: Cats make odd staff changes including Tallon: Florida fired a club a vice president, its director of hockey and an assistant coach among others. But the oddest move was Tom Rowe being named general manager with GM Dale Tallon bumped up to president of hockey operations. Tallon has turned around the Cats since arriving in 2010. If he is losing power any in this move, it's a bad one.

5. NHL: Fight for Stanley Cup down to final four: Tampa Bay leads Pittsburgh 1-0 in the East finals and St. Louis leads San Jose 1-0 in the West finals. Time now for our northern neighbor's national anthem: No, Canada.

6. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream announces major new race: The second leg of Triple Crown, The Preakness, is in five days, but Gulfstream made headlines this week in announcing the inaugural Pegasus World Cup would be run in January with a $12 million payout -- five times that of Kentucky Derby. Who said horse racing’s dead?

7. UM FOOTBALL: Canes moving closer to building indoor practice facility: This apparently is a big deal. Maybe UM will have better luck than the Dolphins, who built their indoor "bubble" facility in 2006 and have had one winning season in the 10 years since.

8. DOLPHINS: Officials insist renovated stadium will be done in time: Dolphins officials announced that massive stadium renovations currently underway are on schedule and would be done before the Aug. 25 home exhibition opener. Said anyone who has driven past the construction site lately: "Yeah, right."

9. WNBA: Women's league opens its 20th season: The WNBA's anniversary season opened Saturday but league still may not be entirely in the mainstream. Put it this way. If you know the defending champions are the Minnesota Lynx, chances are pretty good you live in Minnesota.

10. GOLF: Day dominates, wins The Players Championship: World No. 1 Jason Day was in charge with a wire-to-wire victory in the electrical storm-delayed Players Championship outside Jacksonville. They sometimes call this the "fifth major," although the four majors laugh to themselves at that.

Missing the cut: George Zimmerman continues to be a raging idiot. Updates as warranted ..... UM women's tennis is hosting first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and has reached Sweet 16 as Greg Cote continues a long-standing tradition of never having seen a single minute of college tennis played live ..... That reminds me, UM baseball season has flown, with Sunday the next-to-last regular season home game for the 3rd-ranked Canes ..... Rob Gronkowski will be on the cover of the Madden NFL 17 video game. They want the most realistic depiction possible, so I imagine he'll be shown holding a cocktail in one hand and a blond in the other ..... Peyton Manning secretly visited Dolphins HQ earlier this spring to counsel Ryan Tannehill. What, Dan Marino has been fired as ceremonial mentor? ..... The Dolphins signed ex-Lions DE Jason Jones, and nobody thought much of it ..... UFC 198 was Saturday. That's UFC CXCVIII to our Roman friends ..... Soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his man ponytail are leaving Paris Saint-Germain ..... The Cubs are off to the best start by any MLB team since 1984. Chicagoans are bracing for inevitable disappointment ..... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson continues collecting LPGA wins at age 21. When Greg Cote was 21, he was the first on his block to own a Pet Rock ..... I Googled the phrase "match made in hell" and saw the Las Vegas Raiders ..... The expansion Miami FC was NASL's only winless team entering Saturday play. Welcome to the league! ..... Canyon Barry, son of Hurricanes basketball legend Rick Barry, chose to transfer to Florida over UM, begging the question, "Who names their son Canyon?!" ..... UM's Sheldon McClellan was a late invitee to the NBA Draft combine ending Sunday in Chicago. Sheldon -- now there's a real first name ..... That reminds me. FIFA appointed a woman, Fatma Samoura, as secretary general. How about it, ladies? Why has the name Fatma not caught on in America? ..... And in other news, the entire country of Russia has tested positive for doping.

Poll result: No duh. Warriors the favorite for NBA championship: We asked which of the first three teams through to the conference finals will win the NBA title and it was Golden State 82.4 percent, Cleveland 11.5% and Oklahoma City 6.1%.

THE LIST: HEAT GAME 7'S: Today will be the 10th Game 7 in Heat playoff history. Ranking all 10 in order of importance based on how deep into the postseason they ocurred:

Year    Round                    Result

2013   NBA Finals            W vs Spurs 95-88

2012   Eastern finals         W vs Celtics 101-88

2013   Eastern finals         W vs Pacers 99-76

2005   Eastern finals         L vs Pistons 88-82

1997   Conference semis   W vs Knicks 101-90

2000   Conference semis   L vs Knicks 83-82

2016   Conference semis   L @ Raptors 116-89

2004   First round             W vs NO Hornets 85-77

2009   First round             L @ Hawks 91-78

2016   First round             W vs CHA Hornets 106-73

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 14, 2016

G6: Heat 103, Toronto 91: Dragon power! Dragic's 30 lift Miami to a Sunday Game 7; plus who's favorite for NBA title? New poll. Vote now!; also, updated NBA/NHL betting odds, your verdict on Curry & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 14. Hope y'all had a happy Friday the 13th. Unless you are one of those inexplicably anxious paraskevidekatriaphobes, in which case that grand piano being lifted above your doorway on a fraying rope was about to drop and possibly kill you if you exited the house. 2) We all know it. And yet he continues to remind us, over and over again: George Zimmerman is an idiot. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 5 in Toronto, is Steph Curry an all-time great poll, Canes/Brad Kaaya ranked, Mike Pouncey's next career, Dwyane Wade's playoff scoring & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Small Ball, Big Win, the latest, off last night's Game 6 home win. Heat is America's Underdog, on how injuries and obstacles have cast Heat in an unaccustomed role. Be Careful What You Wish For, from Heat's Game 4 home win.

Updated NBA, NHL title odds: Warriors, Penguins favored: Out today via Bovada, in the NBA, it's Warriors a 5-8 favorite, Cavaliers 12-5, Thunder 6-1, Raptors 50-1 and Heat the longshot at 100-1. In the NHL, it's Penguins at 9-5, Blues 2-1, Sharks 4-1 and Lightning 17-4.

G6: HEAT 103, TORONTO 91: DRAGIC'S 30 CARRIES MIAMI TO A SUNDAY GAME 7: Goran Dragic's 30 points and Dwyane Wade's 22 lifted the Heat at home Friday night in a 103-91 win over Toronto, forcing as Game 7 back up there Sunday. "Tonight was his night," said coach Erik Spoelstra of Dragic. "It came at the right time." Click on Small Ball, Big Win for my column from the game, online now. ...... Original post: Miami trails this Toronto series 3-2 but is 2-0 this postseason in elimination games and 7-1 in its past eight overall. The Heat do "must win" pretty well, and are 4-point favorites tonight to send this thing back up to Toronto for a Sunday Game 7. Whether Miami survives tonight may
 Wethenorth Rapsatheatdepend on which team is the healthiest, or, in this case, the least unhealthy. Luol Deng (wrist) is expected to tough it out tonight, although Hassan Whiteside and G6of course Chris Bosh still are missing, increasing the likelihood Miami will play small-ball for extended spurts. For Toronto, DeMarre Carroll (wrist) is questionable, Jonas Valanciunas remains out Demar DeRozan is playing through a thumb injury. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra downplayed the injury factor, saying playoff basketball in general is meant "to push you and stress you and put you in uncomfortable situations. And that's what this series is doing right now." This is the last of four NBA series still undecided, meaning the Heat and Raptors are two of just five teams still standing. "Right now there's nobody totally healthy in this league," said Toronto coach Dwane Casey. "This is the time you play through it." A rested Cleveland awaits this series winner, and LeBron James' Cavs will be a heavy favorite over either. The Heat of course face a steeper climb to get there. In NBA history teams that lose Game 5 in a 2-2 series go on to win the series only 18 percent of the time -- the odds now against Miami. (Click on Heat Is America's Underdog for today's latest column by me). Dwyane Wade, with 88 points in his past three games, has been carrying the Heat but needs help. The Heat especially need to find their collective range on 3-point shots. Other than Wade, Miami is 10-for-57 on 3's since Game 1, a horrid 17.5 percent. Joe Johnson (1-for-17) in particular has gone cold from deep. Looking for somebody other than Wade to do some heavy lifting for Miami tonight. Any volunteers?

NAME THAT NBA FAVORITE: The Miami-Toronto survivor will be a prohibitive underdog, a distant fourth of the final four in terms of betting odds to win the NBA championship. As we wait for this series to finish, who among the first three teams through would you call the favorite to win it all? Teams are listed alphabetically in the poll. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

Poll result: Curry is an all-time great, though still much debate: We asked if Golden State's Stephen Curry, right now, should be included in conversation as an NBA all-time great, and it was 48.2 percent yes, 42.7% no and 9.1% undecided.

UNEARTHED BONUS PHOTO: TunsilWoman pushing baby stroller arrives for a party at Laremy Tunsil's house. 

THE LIST: HEAT'S EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF OPPONENTS: Cleveland, the team that awaits if Miami survives Toronto, is the only Eastern team the Heat has never faced in the club's postseason history. Most common East playoff foes based on total games played in postseason:

Opponent                Games

Chicago Bulls            31

New York Knicks      29

Indiana Pacers          25

Boston Celtics          17

Detroit Pistons         16

Others: Charlotte 14 games, Atlanta 12, New Jersey 9, New Orleans 7, Toronto 6 (including last night), Brooklyn 5, Orlando 5, Philadelphia 5, Milwaukee 4 and Washington 4.

Most common opponents by number of series: Chicago 7; New York 5; Indiana 4; Boston, Charlotte and Detroit 3 each; Atlanta and New Jersey 2 each; all others 1.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 12, 2016

G5: Toronto 99, Heat 91: Battered, beaten and a season on fumes; plus is Stephen Curry an all-time great (poll; vote now); also, Wade in club playoff scoring annals, Canes football ranked and Kiper on Kaaya, Mike Pouncey's next career & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 12. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat win Game 4 in overtime to even series, Hot Button Top 10, Wade dethrones Marino & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Be Careful What You Wish For, the latest, from last night's Heat Game 4 home win. Wade: A Little Help, Please?, off the Game 3 home loss. Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend.

"More than 3,000 cannabis industry executives, investors and enthusiasts are in Orlando attending this week's Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, which started late because munchies-stricken attendees were flocked around food trucks parked outside the event." --Greg Cote

G5: TORONTO 99, HEAT 91: OY! MIAMI MUST WIN TWO STRAIGHT NOW TO ADVANCE: Miami falls behind 9-0 in Game 5 and never leads. Dwyane Wade held to 20 points and (as usual) gets too little help. Luol Deng suffers wrist injury. TOR's DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry wake up with 59 combined points. This is why Miami is now down 3-2 and having to win Friday at home and Sunday back in Toronto in a Game 7. This Heat team is just seeming too depleted. No Chris Bosh, no Hassan Whiteside and now perhaps no Deng is too much. I may be wrong, but it is feeling as if the Heat is done in this round. ..... Original post: Do you hate those Raptors fans' "We The North" shirts as much as I do? Such a weird combination of nonsensical, ungrammatical and arrogant -- the latter thoroughly unearned considering club has never in its history advanced past this round. Wonder of those same fans will be booing Dwyane Wade tonight for his Game 3 faux pas in continuing to warm up during the singing of O Canada? (Rhetorical question. Yes! is the answer). OK, on to the game, obviously a huge one in a series G5
Heatatrapstied 2-2. Miami must find a way to win at Toronto either tonight or in a Game 7, so you'd think tonight would be the prime shot. That would allow Miami to avoid a road Game 7 by closing it out at home Friday night. Goran Dragic will be playing tonight despite  being given a technical and fined $2,000 for taking a swing (he missed) at Raptors guard Cory Joseph in the last game. With Hassan Whiteside (knee) out again tonight the Heat will need more from Dragic and Joe Johnson because Dwyane Wade (38 and 30 the past two games) is probably due a mortal night, though he said, "I'm as confident as I've been all season now." Also, chances are either DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry (a combined 6-for-28 last game) will have a big back-to-form showing at home tonight. It will be interesting to see how much "small ball" coach Erik Spoelstra opts for again tonight. Miami had success in Game 4 playing with Luol Deng, Wade, Dragic, Johnson and Justise Winslow. Those five played only three minutes together the entire season but were on the court 10 minutes last game.

History: Heat now 0-5 all-time in road Game 5s when series at 2-2: Here's a franchise streak Miami hoped to end last night: 0-4 all-time on the road in Game 5s when a series is tied 2-2. Miami lost Game 5 away and also lost the series to Atlanta in 1994, Indiana in 2004 and Atlanta in 2009. However, Miami lost Game 5 at San Antonio in the 2013 NBA Finals but went on to win two straight and the championship. Last night made it 0-5 in that situation.

CurryIS IT TIME TO ANOINT STEPHEN CURRY ONTO NBA'S ALL-TIME GREATS ECHELON?: This was a big debate on the radio show yesterday, with LeBatard saying it was time now to start considering Curry among the all-time greats, and me arguing he needs to do what he's doing at least a few more years before he enters that Michael Jordan / LeBron James conversation. Curry is 28, in his seventh season but only third as a full-fledged star. Today he was named league MVP for the second straight year in the first-ever unanimous vote. There is little doubt he has usurped LeBron as the NBA's best active player, with a 3-point game that is helping to revolutionize the sport. The question is whether he has done enough to this point to be in the all-time, best-of-the-best discussion. So take a dip in our poll, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

MIKE POUNCEY: BROADCASTER?: Dolphins starting center Mike Pouncey is among 25 current and former NFL players who have signed up to participate in the league's 10th annual "Broadcast Boot Camp," an annual four-day camp for players who are considering a post-career career in broadcasting. This one takes place May 16-19) at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, N.J. Sessions include hands-on work in tape study, editing, studio and show preparation, radio production, production meetings and field reporting. Each player will tape segments as a game analyst and field reporter and also have a chance to serve as a live guest host on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Pouncey is 26. Points for planning ahead.

ESPN RANKS HURRICANES FOOTBALL NO. 24 IN NATION: ESPN's post-spring football Top 25 college rankings are out today with Alabama-Clemson-Michigan 1-2-3 and the Miami Hurricanes 24sneaking in at 24th. (Full list here). ESPN's synopsis of UM coming off an 8-5 season and now led by new coach Mark Richt: "The Hurricanes will have to stay healthy and get a few breaks to make a lot of noise in Richt's first season coaching his alma mater. But with Brad Kaaya leading the offense and a formidable front leading the defense, there's reason for optimism. Miami will have to solidify its offensive line and get some help from incoming freshmen and juco receivers. There are also concerns about depth on defense, especially at linebacker and in the secondary, where all four starters must be replaced. Early enrollees Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney are expected to start at linebacker in coordinator Manny Diaz's aggressive scheme." Miami 2016 ranked opponents are Florida State(4th), Notre Dame (9th) and North Carolina (19th). The Georgia team Richt left is ranked 13th.

Kaaya among five state players on Kiper's first 2017 draft 'Big Board': Hurricanes QB Brad Kaaya is ranked 13th on Mel Kiper's first 2017 NFL Draft 'Big Board' for ESPN today. Other state players on it are Gators CB Jalen Tabor (8th), Seminoles OT Roderick Johnson (10th), FSU DE DeMarcus Walker (19th) and Florida OLB Jarrad Davis (21st). Says Kiper of Kaaya: "A talented quarterback with a big arm, touch and growing poise as he reads the whole field. He continues to get better."

THE LIST: WADE AMONG HEAT'S BEST POSTSEASON PERFORMANCES: That Dwyane Wade has scored 38 and 30 in back to back games and is averaging 22 points this postseason at age 34 is not the best testament to his greatness. This is: He has had seven other postseasons -- seven! -- that have been better based on scoring averages, and some by a lot. Sixteen times a Heat player has averaged 20-plus points in a postseason, and eight times it's been Wade. Miami's 20-plus playoff kings:

Avg.        Player                    Year    G-Pts. (High)

33.20      Dwyane Wade        2010   5-166 (46)

30.30      LeBron James        2012   23-697 (45)

29.14      Wade                     2009   7-204 (41)

28.43      Wade                     2006   23-654 (43)

27.43      Wade                     2005   14-384 (42)

27.40      James                    2014   20-548 (49)

26.00      Tim Hardaway       1998   5-130 (34)

25.91      James                    2013   23-596 (37)

24.52      Wade                     2011   21-515 (38)

23.67      James                    2011   21-497 (35)

23.50      Wade                     2007   4-94 (28)

22.83      Wade                     2012   23-525 (41)

21.83      Wade                     2016   12-262 (38) 

21.60      Alonzo Mourning  2000  10-216 (29)

21.60      Mourning              1999   5-108 (27)

20.67      Rony Seikaly         1992  3-62 (26)

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