July 26, 2016

History must wait: Ichiro 1-for-5 tonight in win, now at 2,997 hits; plus the new Back In My Day, Christopher Scissorhands and throwback unis (with poll; vote now!), Kaaya stat projections, Heat get "Kobe Wade," Jordan speaks, American cars & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 26. Ichiro now at 2,997 hits, after a single to left in eighth inning for Marlins tonight was his only hit in a 1-for-5 night as Marlins beat Phillies 5-0. This was first game when him reaching 3,000 was plausible, if mathematically unlikely. Now, his milestone must wait. Five games are left in this homestand. 2) Big weekend for two of Miami's biggest sports figures, with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra getting married on Saturday and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill becoming a first-time father on Sunday. Congrats to both! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, can Miami be a football town again, SABR nerds, Dolphins in fantasy rankings, your verdict on NBA/Charlotte move & more. 43) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new Back In My Day: Click here for today's latest LeBatard Show podcast, with me in-studio as cohost. Our new BIMD kicks in around the 50:45 mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating a chance for Dolphins and Canes. Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp nears. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

Kaaya projections on stats: Individual college football statistical betting over/unxders out today via Bovada show Canes QB Brad Kaaya at 3,050.5 yards and 20.5 TDs.

Uniform destruction was silly but served a larger point: White Sox ace Chris Sale destroys team's 1976 "throwback" uniforms, is suspended and gets savaged in the media. But as a statement against the silly trend of throwback and alternate uniforms, Sale became the face of what should be a movement. That's my latest column. Click on His Scissors Had a Point to read. I'm curious of you like the idea ogf throwback and alternate uniforms or if, like me, you find them a tiresome money-grab by teams. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results:

DwaitersON NEWEST HEAT PLAYER, "KOBE WADE": It takes balls to answer to the nickname "Kobe Wade," as newly signed Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters has. Now Waiters (pictured) arrives in Miami trying to literally replace departed Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup (while also wearing uniform No. 3) after signing a one-year, $2.9 million deal Monday. Should we nickname him "D-Wait"? The NBA free agent market wasn't much for Waiters, verifying he has work left to do to earn his audacious nickname and justify having been the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He hasn't lived up. Yet. But I like Miami giving him another shot. He is only 24. If you're going to err, err young. That finally seems to be Pat Riley's mindset. Waiters shot a tick under 40 percent overall last season (not good), but was a credible 35.8% from 3-land. I like Miami's guard rotation of Goran Dragic and Waiters, and Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and probably Wayne Ellington. Waiters isn't Wade (or Kobe), but he isn't worth giving up on, either.

MjMICHAEL JORDAN SPEAKS. AND NAILS IT: Jordan has spent his professional life saying very little of consequence outside the basketball rectangle, declining to get involves in social issues or politics. As the face of Nike once infamously said, "Republicans buy sneakers, too." That changed this week when Jordan spoke, to The Undefeated website (click here) against recent police-related violence both by and agsinst cops. With that he alsi is donating $1 million to each cause. Good for you, Michael. We've been waiting to hear your voice for a long time. Somewhere, Muhammad Ali would be smiling.

THE LIST: THE MOST-AMERICAN AMERICAN VEHICLES: The "Kogod Made In America Auto Index" for 2016 lists the Top 10 most-American cars, trucks and SUVs based on percentage of domestic parts used. The list:

1. Buick Enclave            90.0%

1. Chevy Traverse          90.0

1. GMC Acadia               90.0

4. Ford F-150                85.0

5. Chevy Corvette          83.0

6. Cadillac Escalade       82.5

6. Chevy Equinox           82.5

6. Chevy Impala             82.5

6. Chevy Malibu             82.5

6. GMC Yukon                82.5

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Twitter @gregcote

July 25, 2016

Canes football picked 2nd in ACC division; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Ichiro, Fins, Canes; also, NFL clears Peyton, football town again?, Tannehill a new daddy, SABR nerds coming, Dolphins fantasy leaders & more

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

Laurentannehill1) It is MONDAY, JULY 25. Ichiro is still at 2,996 hits after striking out yesterday as a pinchhitter.  He is not in tonight's starting lineup. 2) Former Dolphins receiver Greg Jennings retired this morning. 3) Pictured right is first-time mother Lauren Tannehill, whose baby delivered on Sunday made Ryan Tannehill a first-time daddy. Lauren is shown in a photo she posted on Twitter July 16. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA moves All-Star game with poll, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, Canes at ACC Football Kickoff, NFL MVP odds & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

NFL exonerates Peyton Manning: From the league today: "Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances." Cloud dissipates. R.I.P.: Retire In Peace.

Can Dolphins, Canes make this a football town again?: I explore the question in my latest Sunday column. Click on A Chance for Football to Retake Miami to read. The Marlins are hot at the moment, but, with Dwyane Wade gone from the Heat, a window opens for the Dolphins and UM football as both set forth with promising new coaches.  

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

SabrBaseball nerds on parade!: I'm kidding, sort of. Not everybody who belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is a nerd. Although you will find a disproportionately high percentage of statistics-obsessed sabermetric-heads, defined here as people who are aware of and casually refer to "babip" (batting average on balls in play). Anyway, SABR holds its 46th annual convention in downtown Miami at the Hyatt Regency this week, July 27-31, including a Friday ballpark session at Marlins Park. Think of it as like a comic-con for intellectually serious baseball fans including those who are convinced A's general manager Billy Beane may be the human incarnation of God. Fans may attend the convention, by the way, though it isn't free. Click on sabr.org/convention for details and and schedule.

AccCANES PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN ACC COASTAL: Miami Hurricanes are predicted to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division this season in a vote of ACC football media. UM received 50 first-place votes and 1,108 points to North Carolina's 121 and 1,238. Clemson is the pick in the Atlantic Division, its 148 first-place votes and 1,293 points beating Florida State's 42 and 1,176. For the overall conference championship it was Clemson 144 votes, FSU 39, North Carolina 7 and Louisville. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson is a huge favriet for ACC Player of the Year with 164 votes, followed by FSU RB Dalvin Cook with 18. Canes QB Brad Kaaya ties for fourth with 2 votes.

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. MARLINS: Ichiro on brink of 3,000 owns center-stage in Marlins homestand: Ichiro enters tonight's game with 2,996 hits. Dee Gordon is close to returning from suspension. And the Marlins are on playoff pace and looking to spend to acquire a starting pitcher before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Miami, you have run out of good excuses to not support this team.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins sign Foster, prepare to open first camp under Gase: Miami bolstered its running back situation by signing veteran Arian Foster as it prepared to open training camp under new coach Adam Gase with its first practice this coming Friday. Dolfans seem to love the Gase hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet.

3. HURRICANES: UM ceremonially kicks off start of football as first practice nears: Coach Mark Richt and QB Brad Kaaya spoke optimistically to media at ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte as program prepares for Aug. 4 start of preseason practice. Canes fans love the Richt hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet, either.

4. OLYMPICS: Russian doping scandal adds to beleaguered Rio Games: With the chaos-marred Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro only 12 days away, the IOC on Sunday ruled against a total ban of the Russian team over a doping scandal. Still, cheating Russians deserve a gall medal for gumption.

5. NBA: All-Star Game moved over controversial law: Its star players are outspoken against police-involved violence, now league itself steps into political arena by moving its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over that state's controversial anti-LGBT law. Leagues and athletes showing a social conscience? Good for them.

6. CYCLING: Froome wins Tour de France, again: Defending champion Chris Froome of Great Britain made it three wins in the last four years. I don't wanna say Froome had a safe lead, but he could race have raced Sunday's final stage on an 1890s-style bicycle with the giant front wheel and still finished first.

7. GOLF: Tiger still out as PGA Championship dawns: As year's final major, the 98th PGA Championship, begins this coming Thursday in New Jersey, Tiger Woods announced his back and other ailments will keep him out rest of the year. Tiger, don't keep telling us you're out. We assume that by now. Tell us when you're in.

8. BASEBALL: Griffey, Piazza inducted into Cooperstown: Baseball Hall of Fame added Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza in Sunday induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y. Griffey was untainted by even the slightest rumor of steroid use. Piazza? Wellllll...

9. SOCCER: Strikers out in U.S. Open, leaving Lockhart: The NASL Fort Lauderdale Strikers were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the all-comers U.S. Open Cup, losing 3-0 at the MLS Chicago Fire. Strikers also announced they are leaving iconic Lockhart Stadium for Central Broward Stadium. And the ghosts of 1977 wept.

10. POLITICS: Presidential race pivots from Republican convention to Democrats: Republicans just nominated Donald Trump, now Democrats are about to anoint Hillary Clinton as America tries to decide which candidate it dislikes and mistrusts less. To sports fans, it's like being forced to watch a game where you don't like either team.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Heat are quiet right now. Resting. It's very tiring not getting Kevin Durant and then losing Dwyane Wade! ..... Marlins' Christian Yelich went on Twitter to vehemently deny it was him seen in a video being, um, ah, extremely intimate with a female. After being informed his denial is what brought attention to it, he deleted his denial. "How NOT to Handle a Social Media Crisis 101" ..... White Sox ace Chris Sale shredded his uniform to protest the throwback style, missing Saturday's start. Talk about a fashion critic! ..... Derrick Rose says the Knicks are now being put in the same "super team" class as the Warriors. Yes, Derrick. But only by people who are mentally deranged ..... Jeff Gordon is coming out of retirement for a couple of races to replace concussed Dale Earnhardt Jr. Athletes are just not very good at retiring. Don't know when to. Don't know how to ..... An ESPN-affiliated ACC Network will debut in 2019. Yeah, because ESPN just doesn't have nearly enough platforms (!) ..... R.I.P., local basketball pillar Cesar Odio, 58, and ex-NFL coach Dennis Green, 67 ..... Somebody check on Miko Grimes. Make sure she's OK. Been almost a week since she last embarrassed herself and her husband on Twitter. ..... It's said the NFL doesn't like HBO's "Ballers." Should be the NFLPA that doesn't. Seems like every other scene in that series perpetuates stereotypes about black players partying on yachts ..... Saw the headline, 'Manny Pacquiao's return could revive interest in boxing'. And thought, "Man, how awful that boxing is that desperate!" ..... Answer: A new sport called "footvolley" -- soccer meets beach volleyball; no hands allowed -- will debut as a demonstration sport at Summer Olympics. Question: What do you mean there are too many ridiculous, made-up sports? ..... Hurricanes are about to reveal naming rights for their new football indoor practice facility. I cannot confirm the rumors: Greg Cote Dome.

JlandryEARLY FANTASY LOOK AT WHERE DOLPHINS PLAYERS RANK: The lists and cheat-sheets have begun trickling forth, which means fantasy football season is underway. ESPN's early standard-league Top 300 (full list here) includes nine Miami Dolphins, in this order: 42. Jarvis Landry (wr#21), pictured left; 52. DeVante Parker (wr#28); 95. Jay Ajayi (rb#36); 103. Arian Foster (rb#39); 164. Kenyan Drake (rb#55); 182. Leonte Carroo (wr#67); 194. Ryan Tannehill (qb#20); 197. Jordan Cameron (te#19); and 229. Kenny Stills (wr#85). Interestingly, at least to me, Ajayi and Foster are just about neck and neck. And surprisingly, to me, the Dolphins are not among the 22 defense/special teams to make the Top 300.

Poll result: Close, but most disagree with NBA moving its All-Star Game: We asked if you agree with the NBA pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of North Carolina's anti-LGBT law, and it was 54.3 percent "no," 42.8% "yes" and 2.9% "undecided or mixed feelings." That means most of our readers are more conservative than I am, but that's OK. Free country! I did find it interesting that "yes" votes led comfortably early on before the no's took over.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

July 16, 2016

Hurt, regretful but resolute, Pat Riley fights on. My new column; plus is Stephen Ross a good owner? Poll. Vote now!; also, D-Wade's ex after him again, HistoryMiami Museum's sports project, shame of Dani Mathers, your verdict of Brady/Fins impact & more

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

Nice1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 16. Our thoughts are with the people of Nice, France, a lovely town I have had the pleasure to visit, in the wake of the latest terrorist attack. The people committing these acts are the the biggest cowards in the history of mankind. If only our prayers were helping. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady suspension upheld with Dolphins poll, grading Marlins' All-Star performances, the ESPYS and NBA stars' anti-violence video, new MLB odds, Greg's Lobos news & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they merited another look: Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, the latest, on impact of Tom Brady's upheld suspension. The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical issues with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell to Wade. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on setting a template. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees.

MY NEW PAT RILEY COLUMN: A wistful but ultimately resolute Riley spoke at length today about his regrets concerning Dwyane Wade's departure, Chris Bosh's health and the Heat moving forward. Click on Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On for my new column, shipping to Sunday's inky pulp editions but online now. 

D-Wade's ugly divorce hasn't stopped being ugly: Dwyane Wade's divorce from childhood crush Siohvaughn Funchess ended in 2013 with a $5 million-pus settlement. Or, not. She is now asking the Cook County courts to dismiss her settlement agreement and is going after a cut of his new $47 million deal with the Chicago Bulls. Click here for the latest via the Chicago Tribune.

Updated World Series odds: As second half of MLB season starts, the Cubs (6-1) and Giants (13-2) now are virtual co-favorites to win the World Series, via sportsbettingdime.com, with the Rangers (9-1) and Nationals (10-1) next. The Marlins are a mid-pack 50-1, tied for 15th. Giancarlo Stanton is 8-1 to hit 50 homers, second only to Mark Trumbo at 4-1.

WHY DOLPHINS OWNER STEPHEN ROSS IS SMARTER (NOT TO MENTION RICHER) THAN US: You don't get to be worth $7 billion like Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is by making dumb business decisions. So when Ross, 76, decided to reach into his own deep pockets for some $400 million in massive, ongoing improvements to his and his team's stadium (including that Srossenormous canopy), he was justifiably given much credt for doing it himself rather than begging tax dollars from the public trough. It wasn't pure altruism, though. It was 42 Dolphinsbusiness. An investment in his own net wealth. And the latest Forbes ranking of the world's 50 most valuable sports franchises for 2016 verifies how smart Ross was in knowing he'd get his 400K back, and fast. The Miami Dolphins make the list as 33rd overall with a value of $1.85 billion. That is mid-pack (16th) among all NFL franchises, but represents a huge 42 percent increase over the previous year -- attributable largely to the stadium makeover. Only six of the 32 franchises more valauble than the Dolphins had a larger one-year spike in overall value. Twenty-seven of the 50 teams on the list are NFL clubs, by the way, led by the Dallas Cowboys, No. 1 overall valued at $4 billion. The remaining teams are from the NBA (8), international soccer (8) and MLB (7). The Miami Heat are just outside the Top 50. Bottom line? Give Ross enormous credit for paying for these stadium upgrades himself. Yes. But understand he knew very well it would be an investment that would pay for itself. And it already has, even as the construction workers and cranes continue to swarm over the stadium. Here's a poll on how you think Ross has been as Dolphins owner:

HISTORYMIAMI MUSEUM'S 'BEYOND THE GAME': "Beyond the Game: Sports and the Evolution of South Florida" premieres today/Saturday and runs through Jan. 15 at HistoryMiami Museum, 101 West Flagler Street. The Museum's own description: "Since the 1920s, sporting events and institutions have both mirrored and shaped the growth of South Florida. Miami Jai-Alai and Hialeah
Historymiamimuseum HistorymiamiPark two of the area’s earliest sporting attractions, lured northern tourists with, respectively, the spectacles of jai alai, an ancient Basque game imported from Cuba, and horse racing. Along with the annual collegiate Orange Bowl Game, these quickly became world-famous draws and by the mid-century were helping fuel the public fascination with South Florida as a locus of sun, fun, and leisure. It was an image that eventually would draw not only visitors, but transplants to the region. By the early 1960s, Miami-Dade’s population topped one million, including thousands of new arrivals from Cuba. One of these, a young architect, designed a venue for the distinctly South Florida sport of powerboat racing that captured the optimism and exuberance of the era: Miami Marine Stadium. At the same time, across the bay on Miami Beach, the Fifth Street Gym emerged, in the words of one observer, as “an island of democracy” amid the realities of Jim Crow segregation. It also made South Florida an epicenter of boxing. Professional sports franchises — and the rise of one very prominent college football team — followed in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, cementing South Florida’s sporting legacy and acknowledging its status as a modern metropolis." Call the museum for more info or click here to register for Saturday's premiere. The project is ambitious, broad and sounds great. And made all the more timely by the recent death of Muhammad Ali, who made Fifth Street Gym what it was.

Poll result: Sorry, Dolphins fans, but most don't see Brady suspension toppling Patriots: We asked what you think will be the ultimate impact this season of Tom Brady's 4-game Deflategate suspension being upheld, and 58.8 percent said "negligible" vs. 41.2% who said "significant." (And that's a Miami-based poll, where an element of Dolfans' wishful thinking might reasonably be factored in).

Danishaming DanimathersTHE PATENT ABSURDITY OF A PLAYBOY MODEL BODY-SHAMING ANYBODY: So a Playboy "model" named Dani Mathers body-shamed somebody this week by posting on Snapchat a photo (pictured left) of an unclothed older, heavier women taken at a gym. Click here for the background story. The social-media backlash against Mathers was swift and righteously strong, to a point the tone-deaf model had to scurry and emit a round of lame clarifications and too-late/damage-done apologies. I hope Playboy fires her ass after somebody awakens Hef from his nap to tell him. More than that, I hope the poor woman whose privacy she invaded sues her in civil court. But here is the thing that is especially galling to me about this. Dani Mathers is pictured at right, on the job. This is who she has chosen to be: Somebody answering to the description "Playboy Bunny" and presenting herself as a vapid sex-object. And this is the person who dares make fun of any another woman!? The victim here, the woman whose privacy was breached, she may be a secretary, a homemaker, a retired teacher, a heart surgeon or homeless. Doesn't matter. No matter who or what she is, I believe I'd prefer her company to that of an egotistical, mean-spirited airhead in silk rabbit ears whose entire self-worth apparently is confined to what she's admiring in a mirror or the next compliment from a leering man.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

July 12, 2016

The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3: Burned bridges, hurt feelings, now medical drama; plus Miko Grimes' "jew buddies" Tweet on Dolphins, new 'Back In My Day,' UFC sale, Stanton's HR Derby history, Ricky Williams' marijuana video & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 12. Condolences, again, to the family of Jim Mandich, the longtime former Dolphin and team broadcaster who passed away five years ago. The family is grieving anew this week over the death of Jim's widow, Bonnie. 2) Congratulations and farewell, Tim Duncan. What a big, successful, classy NBA career. Unsung because his personality never shouted -- a nice way to say he was boring! -- but an all-time great. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdicts on Wade statue and new face of Miami sports & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Today's new 'Back In My Day': Click on Retail Desperation for today's latest Back In My Day segment from the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Link gets you to the ESPN Radio podcast, and the new BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they deserved another look: Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, the latest, our Sunday farewell-Dwyane Wade column. The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime, on stunning departure of Wade. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Burned Bridges, Hurt Feelings and Medical Drama: The Strange Fate of the Heat's Big 3: Click on The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3 to read my latest column, in today's/Tuesday's inky pulp editions and also available online.

MIKO GRIMES INSERTS FOOT IN MOUTH. AGAIN: She cannot and will not shut up. She continues to embarrass herself and husband Brent Grimes on social media. The wife of the former Dolphins and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback took another shot at the Dolphins on Monday, using anti-Semitic language this time. On Twitter, she referred to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Mikoexecutive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum in writing, verbatim, "Gotta respect ross for keeping his jew buddies employed but did he not see how tannenbaum put the jets in the dumpster w/that sanchez deal?" It might be noted here that the late Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer and his family are descendants of Jewish immigrants who lost family members in the Holocaust. Miko later attempted to clarify -- badly -- that she didn't mean to offend Jewish people. "Think I'm gonna tweet racist remarks in an attempt to offend TWO PEOPLE? Lmao!! Why would I? Why would I want to offend 'Jewish' ppl?" she later Tweeted. Later still, in a statement to ESPN, she said, "When I wrote 'jew buddies' I was speaking about how a lot of communities (Jewish, Christian, gay, sometimes fraternities and sororities) will hire their 'own people' for jobs before others. That's a fact! Why people find facts offensive is strange to me. And now im a racist? Lmao! How?" She continued: "If what I said is racist or anti-Semitic, why isn't it also racist to only hire their own? America is just an easily offended, fake reacting, bunch of cry baby [expletive]s! Anyone that thinks I'm a racist needs to build a [expletive] bridge and get over it. I'm not a racist, I'm a realist." Dear Miko: You might be an idiot, too. And the hedge on might is becoming less and less likely.

SPORTS WORLD GONE MAD: UFC SELLS FOR $4 BILLION: The mega-talent agency WME-IMG is buying mixed martial arts mega-league UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) for $4 billion in a deal announced Monday. vestment firm of Michael Dell, to take over the mixed martial arts company. Said WME-IMG co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell in a statement: "It's been UFCexciting to watch the organization's incredible growth over the last decade. We're now committed to pursuing new opportunities for UFC and its talented athletes to ensure the sport's continued growth and success on a global scale." Four billion makes this the most expensive sports transaction for an organization or team in history. And what the new owners say suggests they expect a growth that make UFC an entity that competes with the NFL, NBA and MLB as a mainstream entity. Said outgoing UFC leader Dana White: "Sport is going to the next level." It'll be interesting to see how the growth plan plays out and how successful it will be. I'll admit I totally mis-read mixed martial arts and UFC when it rose to prominence. I thought it was too violent -- repugnantly so. And I thought the general decline of boxing mirrored a loss of appetite for hand-combat sports like this. I was way wrong. I still don't like UFC. I think it's cartoon violence somewhere between boxing and pro wrestling. But I'm not the desired demographic. UFC has proved enormously popular with young men, especially, and the growing appeal of women fighting has further grown the UFC brand. Four billion still sounds like crazy overspending, but let's see where this change of hands leads.

THE LIST: MARLINS IN HOME RUN DERBY: Last night marked the sixth time the Marlins have had a player in the Home Run Derby, and Giancarlo Stanton was the franchise's first two-time participant and maiden champion with a record 61 homers in three rounds. What a show! Miami was one of 13 clubs that had not had a Derby winner, but that changed fast -- and decisively, as Stanton hit 20 of the night's 21 longest homers. The history of Marlins in the HRD:

Player                    Year    Finish                Winner

Gary Sheffield        1996    T9th of 10         Barry Bonds, Giants

Miguel Cabrera       2006    3rd of 8             Ryan Howard, Phillies

Dan Uggla              2008    T3rd of 8           Justin Morneau, Twins

Hanley Ramirez      2010    2nd of 8            David Ortiz, Red Sox

Giancarlo Stanton   2014    T5th of 10         Yoenis Cespedes, A's

Giancarlo Stanton   2016    1st of 10            Stanton with record 61 homers

RICKY WILLIAMS STILL CHAMPIONING MARIJUANA AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: ESPN's 30 For 30 documentary series has done Ricky Williams ("Run Ricky Run"). Now Sports Illustrated Films weighs in with, "Ricky Williams Takes the High Road," premiering this Wednesday on SI.com. Williams, former Dolphins great continues one of the most enigmatic and interesting characters in South Florida sports history. I'll watch this. Trailer here:

  

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

June 17, 2016

キングを打ちます (Hit King): The Wonder of Ichiro; plus Al Golden speaks (albeit blandly), pitchers in Home Run Derby a good idea? (poll; vote now!), Reshad Jones gets smart, Richie Incognito has an app, glorious return of Curb & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 17. Thoughts with that vacationing Nebraska family that lost their 2-year-old boy to an alligator in Orlando. So sad. 2) Classy: ESPN inviting leukemia-battling Craig Sager of Turner Sports/TNT to serve as sideline reporter for NBA Finals Game 6 last night was so wonderful. Well done! 3) Fan of our LeBatard Show "Back In My Day" segments? Click here for the ESPN Radio podcast of this week's appearance. The latest BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 11 minute mark. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Terrorism and the threat to American sports & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat. 

A video tribute to The Greatest ... and to a father: Whether you missed this or just want to see it again, click on Photographic Memories of Clay Becoming Ali for a video by Miami Herald photographer Charles Trainor, Jr. of photos taken by his father, Charles Trainor. It's a tribute to Ali, but also to a father, from his son. Wonderful stuff.

Six-pack: Six selected recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, the new one, on Marlins' Ichiro's hits milestone. The Weight of Tradition, off Canes' Omaha-clinching baseball win. LeBron Wants More Than Title From Finals, on LeBron James angling to take back best-player crown from Steph Curry. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Muhammad Ali set template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Ichiroキングを打ちます (HIT KING): THE WONDER OF ICHIRO: The Marlins lost in San Diego to their road trip 4-5, but attention riveted to Ichiro for a brighter reason. His single and double gave him 4,257 career professional hits including MLB and Japan -- one more than Pete Rose's MLB record of 4,256. Of course Rose maintains the MLB record for most career hits by a comfortable and perhaps unassailable margin. But Ichiro's milestone is important and deserves respect -- Japan to South Florida and all across baseball -- even if Rose himself seems to begrudge the achievement. The reasons why it's important and the wonder of Ichiro is the topic of my latest column, online after also appearing in Miami Herald inky pulp editions. Click on Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not to read in full.

AL GOLDEN SPEAKS (BLANDLY) OF HIS CANES TENURE: Al Golden, now the Lions tight ends coach, spoke for the first time yesterday about his UM tenure that ended in his firing during last season, in an intervkew with the Detroit Free Press. Boring, but here it is: "I took the job without knowing that there was an impending NCAA investigation and eight months into it, it blew up and it took its toll, and that’s it. I haven’t looked back since. I miss the players. I miss the people that were supportive of my family and I, the people that were friends. But other than that we’ve moved on."

ReshadjonesDOLPHINS' RESHAD JONES WISELY ENDS HOLDOUT AFTER 1 DAY: Reshad Jones incurred a fine by skipping the first day of the Dolphins' three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday but showed up Wednesday. Wise of him, financially. And always nice when an athlete deigns to fulfill the obligations of the contract he agreed to. In this case Jones signed a four-year extension in 2013 that will pay him around $14.3 million in base salary this season and next -- a deal he now believes underpays him. So he did the NFL equivalent of a child holding his breath to get his way, holding out in hopes of pressuring the club to renegotiate his deal. Jones calls himself "the best safety in the NFL." No. He is among the best, though, and his contract is commensurate. It is fair; although the way these things work, I'd expect Miami will agree to renegotiate a further extension to both keep and keep happy one of its best players. But here is the thing about pro contracts that doesn't get written or said much: they serve to protect the player, too, even if said player feels he is underpaid. If Reshad Jones busts an ankle tomorrow for example and is out for the season, he still gets paid. If he has an awful year with zero interceptions and gets benched, he stills gets paid. Something else for any athlete to consider: When complaining you are underpaid while making $7 million a year, complain loudly at your own risk, because your team's fans can only imagine being lucky enough to think such wealth isn't enough.

PITCHERS: STAY IN YOUR LANE. NOBODY WANTS TO SEE YOU BAT: At least five prominent NL pitchers including the Marlins' Jose Fernandez are making noise about wanting Allstargameto be included in the July 11 Home Run Derby prior to the All-Star Game. It's a bad idea for a few reasons. One is the risk of injury from over-swinging. Another is that even the best-hitting pitchers aren't that good at hitting. Another is the HR Derby doesn't need yet another format change. Finally, if somehow a pitcher did happen to win the thing, it would be an embarrassment to MLB (not to mention to the sluggers actually paid to hit home runs). But enough of my opinion. Have your say in the poll below:

RichieTHERE IS NOW A RICHIE INCOGNITO APP. NO, SERIOUSLY: Want to get closer to the one athlete in all of American sports most associated with the word "bullying"? There's an app for that! Former Dolphins' Bullygate star Richie Incognito, now of the Bills, launched an app this week. Oh how I wish I were kidding. Click here to prove I'm not. The app offers "the latest news and information" on Incognito, almost as if you need that, want that or can't get that a thousand other places. The app also offers "an interactive community, music, videos, early access to events and much more." I cannot yet confirm whether the app does or will additionally offer basic or advanced tips on bullying. A Richie Incognito app! I love it when athletes imagine an overwhelming interest in themselves that really does not exist. Richie, you're a lineman, a grunt for a small-market team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999. You're a pretty good (not great) guard who is best known for awful behavior. But good luck with the app, bud.

BLEIER UPDATE: FIRST BAD OUTING: Remember our recent column on Richard Bleier, the former South Plantation pitcher called up by the Yankees to finally make his MLB debut at age 29? (Click on A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop for the column). Well, Richard made his fifth big-league appearance Tuesday night and finally got hit hard, giving up five hits and three runs in 1.1 innings to the Rockies. He hadn't given up a run in 3.2 innings before that.

LarrydavidNO, I WILL NOT CURB MY ENTHUSIASM!: I could not be happier in trumpeting the long-awaited return of HBO's brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show's creator and comic-genius star, Larry David, announced, "In the immortal words of Julius Caesar, 'I left, I did nothing, I returned'." HBO did not reveal an exact return date but just the official word that it would return was met with cheers. The show has been on hiatus -- and missed by legions, including me -- since September 2011.

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Twitter @gregcote

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 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

April 30, 2016

Wild Ride: Dwyane Wade's season-saving heroics, Laremy Tunsil's selection, Dee Gordon suspension equal wildest 24 hours in Miami sports history; plus Dolphins' Day 2-3 draft, history of Fins OLs and UM DBs in 1st round & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 30. Fare thee well, April! 2) Ray Lewis' son, Ray Anthony Lewis III, briefly a Miami Hurricane, has been charged with criminal sexual misconduct in South Carolina. Story here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft Laremy Tunsil No. 1 with poll, live-mocking my Mock Draft with results, Fins' sad track record in first round, Marlins best team in town, your Bosh vs. Heat verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Curious Pick, Major Gamble, the latest, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick last night. Heat Has Bigger Concerns Than #BringBoshBack, off Miami's damaging Game 5 home playoff loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on what Fins should be thinking for their top draft pick.

SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS' WILDEST 24 HOURS EVER?: I think we've just experienced Miami sports' most dramatic 24 hours ever in the stuff I hit on in this blogpost. I think I'd nominate the 24 hours from late Thursday night through late last night. We had the Marlins finish a road sweep of the Dodgers on a Giancarlo Stanton homer followed immediately by the 80-suspension of Dee Gordon. We had the Dolphins creating the most buzz in the entire NFL Draft first round in selecting tackle Laremy Tunsil despite that infamous gas-mask-bong video. And we had Dwyane Wade sinking two late 3's (a shot he'd last made in December) in a must-win that kept the Heat season alive. Wild ride. Thank you, again, sports.

G6: HEAT 97, CHARLOTTE 90: WADE'S LATE HEROICS LIFT MIAMI, FORCE GAME 7: Not yet. The Heat aren't done yet. There will be a Game 7 Sunday at 1 p.m. back in Miami after last night's 97-90 Miami win in Charlotte evened this first-round playoff series 3-3. Dwyane Wade led Miami with 23 points with 10 in the telling fourth quarter -- including two 3-point baskets. Wade had last hit a 3 in December. What wonderful late heroics by the Heat's all-time great. D-Wade took it upon himself to save this game, and series, and keep the season alive. ..... Original post: The Heat never have blown a 2-0 playoff series lead and lost. Thirteen times they have led 2-0 and 13 times Heathornetsthey have advanced. That historic franchise streak is at risk tonight in Charlotte with Miami trailing 3-2 and the Hornets a 2-point favorite. A Charlotte streak could end, too. The franchise last won a playoff series 14 years ago. That and the underdog role in this series has the Hornets playing with a "a huge chip on our shoulder," as G6Kemba Walker put it. Miami is stunned to find itself in this predicament after winning the first two games at home by a combined 44 points, seemingly in control. Charlotte's defense has limited Miami to 38.6 percent shooting in the three games since. And the Heat's own defense has struggled stopping Hornets guards Walker and Jeremy Lin. Charlotte's 3-point shooting also came alive in the last game. Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "Nobody said this was going to be easy. Nobody's giving out free tickets to the second round. You do have to earn it. It's our first real test when our backs are against the wall. These are the games you remember." Miami tonight will need more of the vintage Wade who scored 25 in Game 5, but Wade needs more help. Calling Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, especially. Because only the season depends on it. It will end tonight for the Heat, or survive for a Game 7 on Sunday back in Miami.

AFTERSHOCK: LAREMY TUNSIL HAS DOLPHINS IN SPOTLIGHT: I don't step back from my column; click on Curious Pick, Major Gamble to read in full. Many in the national media are swooning over Miami's unexpected windfall. So are many Dolfans (see poll below). I'm more skeptical, acknowledging Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil is a great talent but also admitting his off- Tunsil
Gasmaskfield issues and injury history make his Bust Potential bigger than most. Also, Miami has just spent its top pick on a tackle (not a position of urgent need) with plans to try to make him a guard. Hmm. He'll be the world's biggest, least-experienced guard. Weird. I haven't even gotten to the gas mask yet. Let's talk about the off-field baggage. The domestic assault charge (later dropped) against his stepfather, who is suing him. The seven-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits. The admission he took cash from an Ole Miss coach. And of course the hacked Twitter account that last night exposed the image shown of Tunsil smoking pot through a gas-mask bong. A bleepin' GAS-MASK BONG! "Years ago," Tunsil said of the photo. Well, two years ago, it turns out. Somebody did Tunsil dirty with that hack job. I feel bad his big draft night was enveloped in controversy. But it is him in the photo. So, who is Miami getting here? The great talent who will eventually be Ryan Tannehill's blindside protector for many years? Or a guy who needs a gas-mask because he can't get enough smoke -- a guy whose risk may outweigh his potential? Even with those doubts I would give Miami high marks for the totality of their first round, because it must include cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, who arrived from Philly when Miami first traded down from 8th to 13th. In effect, the Dolphins just got three starters in the first round. But! It also is fair to note Maxwell is coming off a terrible season, Alonso must reverse his decline since his excellent rookie season, and Tunsil arrives with character questions. So: If, if, if. If Maxwell bounces back and is starter-caliber. If Alonso shows the rookie we saw was no fluke. If Tunsil proves everybody wrong and is the steal of the draft. If all three happen Miami just had an A-plus first round. If.

And ... weird got weirder: Top Dolphins draft pick Laremy Tunsil could not attend his 3:30 introductory press conference yesterday because (it was said) he suffered an "allergic reaction" of undetermined origin at the team's Davie facility. Allergic to questions about gas masks, maybe, because he did speak about 70 minutes later, seemed fine, but would not address any controversies, saying he was there only "to talk about the Miami Dolphins."

And there's this...: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Ravens, picking 6th, passed on Tunsil because of that gas-mask-bong video. That's Baltimore, a smarter, better-drafting, more successful team than Miami in the past 15 years. I'm just sayin'. Something to mull over for you folks so critical of me for being too critical of Miami's 1R choice.

Dolphins' Day 2 draft:

2nd round (38th overall) -- Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor: Smart position-need pick, 6-foot, 200 pounds, big, physical corner, good against the run, 9 interceptions past two seasons. Miami traded up 4 spots (giving up a 4th round pick) to select Howard, suggesting a lot of love and the hope he'll start as a rookie opposite Byron Maxwell. 

3rd round (73rd overall) -- Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama: Needed a running back. Got one. Would have preferred fellow 'Bama RB Derrick Henry, but he went 45th overall. Like that Miami targeted and hit on its two main position needs on Day 2.

3rd round (86th overall) -- Leonte Caroo, WR, Rutgers: Miami traded up into round for this added third rounder at large cost, giving up two Day 3 picks. Dolphins tried to trade up to select LB Myles Jack. I'm more interested in what they did do on Day 2. Trading up twice comes with a cost in lost Day 3 picks and reduced depth via rounds 3 through 7 today.

Dolphins' Day 3 draft:

4th round -- No pick.

5th round -- No pick.

6th round (186th overall) -- Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech. Traded up 10 spots to get him, givgin up one of three 7th-round picks to do so. That's four out of five picks so far designed to make Ryan Tannehill's life easier.

6th round (204th overall) -Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State.

7th round (223rd overall) -- Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky. Local kid, born and raised in Davie.

7th round (231st overall) -- Thomas Duarte. WR, UCLA. Finis!

SAY IT AIN'T SO, DEE: BOMBSHELL ROCKS MARLINS: It was 1:17 a.m. in the East on Friday morning. The Marlins had just wo a fifth straight game by completing a four-game road sweep of the DeegordonL.A. Dodgers on a win by Jose Fernandez fueled by Giancarlo Stanton's seventh home run. The Fish were riding a season high. That's when the news broke that star second baseman Dee Gordon (pictured) had tested positive for testosterone and another PED and was suspended immediately for 80 games without pay by MLB. (Full story here). The gut reaction? "Him, of all people?" Second reaction: "If he's dirty, is anybody clean!?" This rocks the stereotype of PED use; this rocks the faith. Gordon is a waif of a man, the opposite of the power hitter looking for artificial muscles through illegal juice. Gordon also is the Good Guy personified, of the (formerly) perfect image, a great, smiling face of the franchise and of the too-few African Americans in baseball. A role model. All that. And all that takes a hit now as Gordon sits humiliated until after the all-star break, his earliest return set at July 29. Gordon called it an innocent mistake in a statement Friday, saying, in part: "Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences." Of course the shocker of a suspension has a pragmatic effect, too. Gordon is the reigning NL batting champion and stolen base leader. Though he was hitting only .266 so far this year, he's tough to replace. Derek Dietrich will be the likely new regular at second base. Who'll replace Gordon as leadoff hitter is dicier. With no great candidate it could be Martin Prado, who does not have classic leadoff speed but gets on base, a plus for that role. Meanwhile, what a bone-rattling disappointment! Say it ain't so, Dee. [Update: Dietrich at second, Ichiro leading off tonight at Milwaukee].

THE LIST: HURRICANES FIRST-ROUND DEFENSIVE BACKS: Of 61 Miami Hurricanes selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since the first in 1956, 13 have been defensive backs. The 13th happened last night with Artie Burns, who is pictured on the phone with the Steelers at his draft party held at The Betsy hotel on South Beach. UM's 13 1R DBs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating players still active, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:

Player                            Year (No.) / Team                NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade

ArtieburnsArtie Burns-*                   2016 (25th) / Steelers          TBD

Kenny Phillips-*               2008 (31st) / Giants             59/0/C

Brandon Meriweather-*    2007 (24th) / Patriots          112/2/B

Kelly Jennings                 2006 (31st) / Seahawks        91/0/C-

Antrel Rolle-*                  2005 (8th) / Cardinals         155/3/B+

Sean Taylor                     2004 (5th) / Redskins           55/2/A

Philip Buchanon               2002 (17th) / Raiders          122/0/B-

Ed Reed                          2002 (24th) / Ravens           174/9/A+

Mike Rumph                    2002 (27th) / 49ers              43/0/D

Duane Starks                   1998 (10th) / Ravens           97/0/C

Darryl Williams                1992 (28th) / Bengals          156/1/B

Bennie Blades                  1988 (3rd) / Lions               136/1/B-

Burgess Owens                 1973 (13th) / Jets               137/0/C+

THE LIST: DOLPHINS FIRST-ROUND OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: The Dolphins have drafted an offensive lineman in the first round 11 times, the 11th last night. Miami's 11 1R OLs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating active players, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:

Player                             Year (No.) / College            NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade

Laremy Tunsil-*                2016 (13th) / Ole Miss         TBD

Ja'Wuan James-*              2014 (19th) / Tennessee       23/0/Inc.

Mike Pouncey-*                 2011 (15th) / Florida           72/3/B

Jake Long-*                     2008 (1st) / Michigan           100/4/B-

Vernon Carey                   2004 (19th) / Miami             121/0/C+

Billy Milner                      1995 (25th) / Houston          30/0/F

Richmond Webb               1990 (9th) / Texas A&M        184/7/A

Roy Foster                       1982 (24th) / USC                 127/2/B

Jon Giesler                      1979 (24th) / Michigan         105/0/B-

Darryl Carlton                  1975 (23rd) / Tampa            36/0/F

Doug Crusan                     1968 (27th) / Indiana          82/0/C

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April 21, 2016

History! Heat, Panthers win playoff games on same day for first time ever; plus R.I.P. Prince, 'White Ho,' Josh Norman, bigot Schilling fired, Marlins' awful start, NBA jersey ads (what Heat's might look like) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 21. Seen leaving the Heat arena late last night ... what happens (pictured) when a letter in 'White Hot' mysteriously disappears. 2) Attention Miami Dolphins: Star Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman is unexpectedly a free-agent now. Reportedly the 49ers are a frontrunner, though. 3) Hope you had a happy 4-20, National Weed Day. Yeah, like pot smokers need an annual holiday to enjoy their herb? 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Youth will served and serve back (Heat's rookie reliance), Luol Deng's good work off-court, bad golf joke & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

PrincePrince dead at 57: Oh my. David Bowie, now Prince. All artists are unique, if the word is taken literally, but few stood out as more so than Prince. What a talent. What a shame to lose him so soon. I had a chance to be in his company (briefly) a few days before he performed at halftime of the February 2007 Super Bowl here. How small of stature, but with an aura and mystique -- and sound -- that filled the biggest rooms. Prince was genre-bending and to a degree gender-bending, an exceptional guitarist with a magnetic stage presence. I am already missing every song he might have written but now won't. R.I.P. 

"Nobody in the sports world had a better Wednesday than Harriet Tubman." --Greg Cote

HISTORY!: Last night was the first time ever the Heat and Panthers both won a playoff game the same day.

The makeup of MLB Opening Day rosters: In case you wondered, it was 59.1 percent White (plus 0.3 from a year earlier); 28.5% Latino (minus 0.8); 8.3% African-American or Black (no change); and 1.7% Asian (plus 0.5). The totals add to 97.6%. Our source, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, does not explain who the 2.4% are.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East, the new one, off last night's Heat win. Rook 1, Rook 2, on Heat's refreshing, uncommon reliance on rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. This Is the Upside, off Heat's impressive Game 1 win.

G2: HEATS HANDLES CHARLOTTE 115-103 FOR 2-0 SERIES LEAD AS WADE, OFFENSE STAR: Dwyane Wade 28 points and eight assists last night led the 115-103 downtown win over the Hornets. Plenty of help, though. Four others in double figures including Hassan Whiteside with 17 points and 13 rebounds on 8-for-8 shooting. Miami did not hit 115-plus points in consecutive games all season but has done it to open the playoffs. Click on For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East for my column off the Game 2 win. ..... Original post: Heat has won five straight over Charlotte in postseason dating to 2014, and the Hornets' 123-91 loss Dwadein Game 1 here offered little indication that streak will end tonight in Game 2. Of course, a leveling and a tighter came is certain. Miami was  near perfect to start the playoffs' first round, personified by Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside shooting a combined 20-for-24. That won't happen again, and neither will Charlotte's shell-shocked, deer-in-headlights effort. Charlotte coach Steve Clifford is right in saying, "Whether you lose by 30 or one, it's 1-0." So is Heat coach Erik Spoelstra in saying, "We will see a response from [the Hornets]." Key for Miami will be to continue to defend Charlotte's 3-point shot and control the boards. It also figures to be a night when Miami needs more offense from Dwyane Wade (pictured) than the quiet 16 he gave in the opener. Miami has won 10 consecutive first-round games overall and 15 of past 16 at home vs. Charlotte, so I'd bet on Heat winning again tonight, though narrowly. Miami can put the hammer down with a 2-0 series lead tonight, or find itself 1-1 heading for two straight in Charlotte. This is the beauty of a best-of-seven. Every result changes the entire narrative. Historically, though, here is the significance of tonight's result for Miami. In its playoff history, the Heat is 13-0 in a series its leads 2-0, but 10-8 in a series that is 1-1. And that sounds about right as a frame for tonight: Miami either puts this thing away, or invites anxiety moving forward.  

JagrG4: PANTHERS 2, N.Y. ISLANDERS 1: HUGE CATS WIN EVENS SERIES: Goals by Teddy Purcell and Alex Petrovic and big goaltending by Roberto Luongo forged last night's 2-1 road win that has the playoff series 2-2 heading back to Sunrise for Game 5 Friday night. ..... Original post: I still think Florida's roster is superior to the Isles', but NYI's 2-1 series lead says otherwise. Florida blew a 3-1 lead in Game 3 thanks in part to some sketchy officiating; now we see the response in the crucial Game 4 tonight in Brooklyn. Cats either will bounce home feeling good at 2-2, or wallow desperately in a 3-1 hole. Islanders haven't won a playoff series since 1993 and Panthers since '96, so something's gotta give. Troubling for the Panthers is that goalie Roberto Luongo has given up nine goals in the two losses. He admitted he was "exhausted" after three playoff games in four nights. Cats will need better net-minding tonight from their main guy or from Al Montoya to get back in this series. They'll also need their frontline scorers to get going, starting with Jaromir Jagr (pictured), who has not tallied a point in the three games. He also has not scored a goal in 34 straight playoff games, an almost unfathomable streak whose end tonight would be hugely well-timed.

SAD I: WHY DOES CURT SCHILLING STILL HAVE JOB AT ESPN? HE DOESN'T ANYMORE: Update: ESPN canned Schilling late yesterday. Good for ESPN. Original post: Full transparency: I work for The Worldwide Leader parttime as a once-a-week studio co-host for ESPN Radio on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, as many of you know. Those checks from Disney are a welcome stipend to my day job with the Miami Herald. So because of my role with ESPN, minor though Curtschilling Curtschillingit is, I hesitated to write this and will tread carefully. I love free speech. I also know that employers have a right to expect those they pay to represent the company in a way that does not unduly offend customers. I'm not sure, if I owned the Buffalo Bills, how I'd feel about Rex Ryan introducing Donald Trump at a New York rally last week. I'd feel the same if he had introduced Hillary Clinton, although it is fair to say some of Trump's views are more controversial and polarizing, and yet now the face of an NFL team is on board with all of those views (on Muslims, on Mexicans) by association. The matter of Curt Schilling, the ESPN baseball analyst, is far more disturbing. He previously was suspended by ESPN and later demoted from Sunday Night Baseball after posting a meme that compared extremist Muslims to Nazis. Schilling, 49, also has said Clinton should be "buried under a jail." Now the latest: Schilling has shared on his Facebook page the cartoon pictured, with the comment, "A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don't care what they are, who they sleep with, men's room was designed for the penis, women's not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic." The cartoon feeds the bigoted hysteria that surrounds the transgender bathroom issue that is news in several states, notably North Carolina, by suggesting it will mean predators attacking your daughters. Actually I think the cartoon might mean to lampoon the hysteria and mock the intolerant and small-minded like Schilling. In any case, Yahoo Sports reports an ESPN spokesman as saying, "We are taking this matter very seriously and are in the process of reviewing it." Schilling has responded to the outcry by blaming the media and those offended, writing on his website, "You know how I know you ‘offended’ people are full of crap? Because I’m not even close to any of the things you so desperately want me to be, so you can whine. You frauds out there ranting and screaming about my ‘opinions’ (even if it isn’t) and comments are screaming for tolerance and acceptance while you refuse to do and be either. YOU’RE the ones making it the issue." Schilling notes the things he shares on Facebook or Twitter are his own opinions and have nothing to do with his employer, but this of course is where he is plainly wrong. His description now does not begin with "former pitcher," it begins with "ESPN Baseball analyst." That's the issue here. Schilling has every right to have whatever opinions he wishes and to share them. The thing is, ESPN also has every right to not want its on-air stars volunteering themselves into needless public controversies with stances not in line with what represents Disney or ESPN. Curt Schilling's name should conjure one word first: Baseball. Instead it has come to conjure another: Bigotry.

DonmattinglySAD II: ON MARLINS' NIGHTMARE START: We're an unlucky 13 games into The Longest Season and already the requisite wisecrack has started circulating. Surely anyone who follows the Marlins has said or heard some variation of this: "Has Loria fired Mattingly yet?" It speaks to both owner Jeffrey Loria's notorious impatience and to the the club's disappointing start under new manager Don Mattingly (pictured). "Nightmare" start might not be hyperbole. The 4-9 record is third-worst in MLB. The 1-7 home record is the worst. Five of eight position starters are batting .244 or under. The bullpen has been an Amtrak derailment. (Speaking of which: Why, Lord, is Chris Narveson still in the big leagues?) [UPDATE: Marlins today/Thursday demoted Narveson to the minors] Now the Marlins face one more at home today against the rotation-strong Washington Nationals and then set out on a daunting, season-long 10-game road trip. There is the potential for things to get really ugly. Loria wanted a fast start under Mattingly. The opposite has left the Fish buried on the local landscape under the Heat and Panthers' playoff runs and Dolphins draft talk. And any attention the Marlins are getting is mostly negative. As for that crack about "has Loria fired Mattingly yet," the way things have started -- and knowing this owner -- it might seem less and less like a preposterous joke as summer rolls in.

HeatadsjerseySAD III: IMAGINING HEAT'S AD JERSEY: I have fought my quiet fight against the encroachment of advertising in sports for years. Long-time and particularly observant readers know that I, for example, never refer in my columns to stadium and arena names that include a corporate sponsor. I'll make it a generic ""Heat's downtown bayside arena" rather than mention the airline in the official name. It's just my little line in the sand. Well, now advertising is coming to the front of NBA jerseys starting in the 2017-18 season, a business-smart but otherwise sad development. Stadium names being whorred out for revenue is bad enough, but now jersey fronts? What's next, franchise names? The Burger King Miami Dolphins? How about player names? "And now batting, brought to you by Pepsi-Cola ... Giancarlo Stanton!" ESPN.com today (click here) imagines what various NBA jerseys would look like in the ad age and logically has the Heat sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines, Heat owner Micky Arison's other company, headquartered in Doral. Bright side: As shown, the corporate logo is affixed to the jersey in a way somewhat less garish and intrusive than it could be, I suppose. It's still sad. I mean, it's one thing to pay good money to buy a Heat T-shirt because you support the team or the player whose number and name are on it. But now you're also a walking billboard for Carnival or some other company, like it or not. As for the notion the sponsor's name on the merchandise might result in a reduced cost? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA! You are kidding, right?

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April 16, 2016

Luongo stars, Panthers win 3-1, tie series 1-1; plus Dolphins' brutal schedule, who are Heat and Panthers' MVPs? (last day to vote!), Heat-Hornets, history of home playoffs in Miami & more

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

Jackierobinson1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 16. Jackie Robinson (pictured) made his historic, barrier-breaking MLB debut yesterday in 1947. 2) 73 & 60: the NBA's biggest regular-season night. I guess Golden State's record 73rd win was bigger historically. (You did; see poll result below). But Kobe Bryant popping for 60 in his grand finale hit all the emotional chords. What a night for the NBA. Top that, playoffs! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat collapse but get 3rd seed and Charlotte, Golden State and Kobe on NBA's huge closing night, your Arison/Cuba verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

QUICK THOUGHT ON DOLPHINS' 2016 SCHEDULE? UH OH: The Fins' '16 schedule begins in a way -- at Seattle, at New England -- that makes you think the NFL put Marquis de Sade in charge of the thing and that Marquis doesn't like Adam Gase very much. No team is likelier than Miami for an 0-2 start. I rattled through the schedule game by game, factoring opponent and home/away, and came up with a 6-10 record, with more of what look like sure losses than certain wins. ESPN's guesstimate was 7-9. Numerically Miami has the third-toughest schedule, based on opponents' combined .535 winning percentage last year. Everybody is chattering about the first two games but the last five also seems a brutal stretch: at Baltimore, vs. Arizona, at N.Y. Jets, at Buffalo and vs. New England. Bottom line: Maybe the Dolphins will surprise us. It'd be about time. But, based on a fast digestion of the new schedule, it does not appear an end to the playoff drought is at hand.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season, off last night's  necessary win. Now We See About the Panthers, off gthe opening loss. Rats & Cats, 20 Years On, as the 2016 Panthers try to reprise the magic of '96. (I don't think I've been writing enough Panthers!)

G2: LUONGO REDEEMS HIMSELF, LEADS 3-1 WIN AS PANTHERS KNOT SERIES 1-1: G2: Roberto Luongo saved 41 of 42 Islanders shots last night in a 3-1 Florida victory tying the playoff series 1-1 as its heads to Brooklyn for the next two games. Reilly Smith scored his third goal in two nights, Nick Bjugstad scored the game-winner, and Dmitry Kulikov had a last-second empty netter. But the story was Luongo's excellence one night after he'd set a club record for most goals allowed in a playoff game. Click on Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season for my column off the game centered on Luongo. G1: Florida led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, giving up the equalizer each time, in an eventual 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their first-round NHL playoff series. Goalkeeper Roberto Luongo was not great but his defense let him down, and now all of the pressure heaps onto the favored Panthersislanders NhlplayoffsPanthers entering Game 2 Friday. I thought Florida in many ways was the better team, especially offensively, but Scoreboard Don't Lie. Click on Now We See About the Panthers for my column from the game. ..... Original post: The Florida Panthers have spent much of their 22-season franchise history playing the underdog. Even in reaching the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals they were the lovable little team nobody expected to get that far. Well, they are the little team no more. At least not in the first round vs. the New York Islanders. The Cats are the clear favorites in this series. They are the division champions with the potent, deep scoring, with the veteran goaltender, and with the perfect blend of savvy experience embodied by Jaromir Jagr still going strong at 44 and by a counterbalance of exciting, blossoming youth. Florida can't even play the "we're due" card this time in search of its first playoff series advance since '96 ... because the Isles haven't won a playoff series since '93! Bigger tests are immediately ahead, such as Tampa Bay (likely) in the next round, but I'd be surprised if the Islanders presented much of a problem. My pick: Panthers in 5 games.

ON HEAT-CHARLOTTE HORNETS: MIAMI GOT LUCKY. OR DID IT?: [Game 1 here Sunday] The Heat ended the NBA regular season with a second half in Boston that made you think Erik Spoelstra's halftime pep talk involved handing out Melatonin to his players as piped-in Yanni music softly played. Yet despite the collapse Miami still somehow managed
 Nbaplayoffsto secure the No. 3 seed, Heathornetswhich brings in Charlotte as the first-round foe and also avoids LeBron and Cleveland until a possible conference-finals meeting. The general narrative is that Miami lucked out ... but, are you sure about that? Miami and Charlotte were 2-2 during the season, the Hornets scoring seven more total points. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson will be a challenge, and it's a series where Chris Bosh's absence could be conspicuous after so many weeks of Miami seemingly not missing him. Charlotte has had the third-best record in the league since the all-star break and are 26-9 since Jan. 31. That's impressive. Miami is a narrow betting favorite in this series, 5-8 odds to Charlotte's 8-5, with both 100-1 longshots to win the NBA title. I see a serious challenge for Miami. So does ESPN, which ranks this series No. 1 of the eight for upset potential, which it estimates at 46 percent. My pick: Heat in 6 games.

WHO WERE HEAT AND PANTHERS' REGULAR-SEASON MVPS?: For the Heat the list is short: Dwyane Wade or Hassan Whiteside (that's alphabetical). Cannot see including anyone else; Chris Bosh just missed too big a chunk of the season. For the Panthers it's more complicated but I narrowed it down to four main contenders, also listed alphabetically. Have your say in both polls, and check back often to monitor evolving results. Which Heater and Panther have meant the most to their team's playoff season?

THE HISTORY OF HOME PLAYOFF GAMES FOR OUR BIG FOUR TEAMS: With the Panthers hosting their first-round opener of the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight vs. the New York Islanders and the Heat hosting their first-round Game 1 vs. the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday, we thought a quick review of South Florida home playoff history was in order:

108: Miami Heat: This is the 19th playoff season. Have played 39 postseason series totaling 108 home games. Home playoff record 78-30, .722. Highest stakes/biggest home games: Heat has hosted 16 NBA Finals games, winning championships on its home floor in 2012 and '13.

22: Miami Dolphins: Team has had 16 playoff seasons. Have played 22 postseason home games. Home playoff record 15-7, .682. Highest stakes/biggest home games: Dolphins have hosted six AFC Championship Games, winning in 1971, 1973, 1982 and 1984, and losing in 1985 and 1992. 

22: Florida Panthers: This is fifth playoff season. Are playing in eighth postseason series totaling 22 home games through last night. Home playoff record 11-11, .500. Highest stakes/biggest home games: Panthers hosted two Stanley Cup Finals games in 1996 but were swept, so biggest home game may have been the Game 6 win in conference finals that forced a Game 7 in Pittsburgh. 

18: Miami Marlins: Team has had two playoff seasons. Have played six postseason series totaling 17 home games. Home playoff record 11-6, .647. Highest stakes/biggest home games: Marlins have hosted seven World Series games, winning the championship at home in a dramatic Game 7 on Oct. 26, 1997.

HEAT vs. CHARLOTTE HORNETS:

G1: HOME Sunday 17th 5:30 p.m.

G2: HOME Wednesday 20th 7 p.m.

G3: @ CHA Saturday 23rd 5:30 p.m.

G4: @ CHA Monday 25th time tbd

G5*: HOME Wednesday 27th time tbd

G6*: @ CHA Friday 29th time tbd

G7*: HOME Sunday 1st time tbd

PANTHERS vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS:

G1: Islanders 5, Panthers 4

G2: Panthers 2, Islanders 1.

G3: @ NYI Sunday 17th 8 p.m.

G4: @ NYI Wednesday 20th 8 p.m.

G5*: HOME Friday 22nd time tbd

G6*: @ NYI Sunday 24th time tbd

G7*: HOME Tuesday 26th time tbd

Poll result: Warriors' record swamps Kobe's finale for night's biggest event: We asked which was bigger to close the NBA regular season -- the Warriors' record 73rd win or Kobe Bryant's final game, and it was Warriors routing Kobe by 72.1 percent to 27.9%. The result surprised me a bit. At the least, shouldn't it have been closer?

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

Twitter @gregcote