August 30, 2015

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Canes, Marlins, FIU, LLWS, tennis, horses, Scully; plus latest 'Weighing The Fish,' Fins fantasy ranks, escaping Cone of Doom & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 31. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with onset of college football. 2) Backup Kirk Cousins reportedly will start for Redskins in Sept. 13 season opener vs. Dolphins. That doesn't help Miami. Such is the state of Robert Griffin III. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Twitter study finds Heat dominating local teams on social media, Gronkowskis = Kardashians, Serena wins pole position & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afiuronturnerFIU football: Turner's tall task: I probably don't write about FIU enough but for me it's a chicken-or-egg thing; unless you're a Kardashian, you have to earn the attention you get. Anyway, in my latest column I write why FIU's Ron Turner (pictured) has the toughest coaching job in South Florida. Click on Attitude Adjustment, Culture Makeover to read.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' special section: ICYMI, the Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50"

coverage, commemorating
the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season, arrived in the Old Classic print version
yesterday and remains available online. Click FINS AT 50 to access entire project. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND, my main column on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST, my list of the 50 top figures (not just players!) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM, my picks for that honor. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS, my conversations with Shula, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. I also have an added Shula-by-the-numbers column not in the original package; click TOP 10 NUMBERS to read.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Reminding you our Dolphins postgame DSM polls will be back in the blog again this year, but starting with the regular season on Sept. 13.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated on 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:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tannehill, starting D sharp again as Fins win preseason home debut: Miami is only 1-2 in exhibitions after Saturday's 13-9 win over Atlanta (game blog and postgame thoughts below), but the starting units look season-ready entering this coming Thursday's preseason finale vs. Tampa Bay. Based on August, Tannehill may be fast-climbing fantasy draft boards. (But the whisper remains: Can we trust August?)

2. HURRICANES: College football arrives! UM loses top RB with opener less than a week away: Coach Al Golden's Hurricanes, who open the season this coming Saturday vs. Bethune-Cookman, suffered a big blow with the news that expected starting running back Gus Edwards would miss the season with a foot injury. It's one more reason to doubt the Canes. If doubt is fuel, UM has a full tank in '15.

3. MARLINS: Stanton return from injury now on horizon: Fish have lost nine of past 12 to continue The Lost Season, but at least slugger Giancarlo Stanton is close. Marlins begin an extended homestand on Friday and Stanton figures to return sometime during it. Meantime, the club gives indications it might move the fences in next year. Giving Stanton shorter fences is like giving Bill Gates a raise.

4. FIU: Panthers open football season on road in three days: FIU begins its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner on Thursday at UCF. Turner seems to be making progress in turning around the Panthers program. The question now is whether hair-trigger FIU athletic director Pete Garcia will give him time to finish the job.

5. LITTLE LEAGUE: Japan beats U.S. for world title: The U.S. champion (Pennsylvania) squandered a 10-2 lead and lost to Japan on Sunday in the International final of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. By the way, a boy named Alex Edmondson pitched two no-hitters during the LLWS but you probably didn’t hear about it because, unfortunately for him, his name wasn’t Mo’Ne Davis.

6. TENNIS: U.S. Open starts today with all eyes on Serena: For the first time ever the women’s final has sold out before the men’s as fans anticipate Serena Williams completing the sport’s first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Now Serena's path is even easier with the withdrawal of Maria Sharapova. It almost isn't unfair. They should make Serena use a badminton racket.

7. HORSES: American Pharoah shocking loser at Travers: Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, a 1-5 favorite, lost to longshot Keen Ice at the historic Travers at Saratoga on Saturday. (Note to most of America: Yes, there are horse races other than the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont). 

8. VIN SCULLY: Dodgers broadcaster says he isn't done yet: Scully, who'll be 88 in November, said he would return next season for a 67th and final year broadcasting the Dodgers games. Put it this way: When last somebody else called Dodgers games, the president was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  

9. LEBRON JAMES: Ex-Heater sells Coconut Grove home: LeBron sold his 12,178-square-foot Coconut Grove waterfront mansion (including a theater and wine cellar) for $13.4 million. The question now: Do I redecorate?

10. DARRYL DAWKINS: Beloved ex-NBA stars dies: R.I.P. to the dunk specialist they called "Chocolate Thunder," who died at 58. The good news? I won big. As soon as I heard the news, I immediately invested in lame media references to "dunking in heaven."

Missing the HB10 cut: Tropical storm Erika turned out to be no threat to South Florida, despite local meteorologists' best efforts to scare us into panic mode. ..... Refurbished Dolphins stadium debuts. It looks good. If only it weren't 11,000 seats smaller. ..... Lawyers for NFL and Tom Brady are due back Monday for latest round of arguments. If this “Deflategate” morass were any more ridiculous, they’d move it from federal court to Vaudeville. ..... Marlins honor Dontrelle Willis but he's a no-show. Club president David Samson calls himself "flummoxed," becoming first sports figure since 1959 to use word "flummoxed." ..... Southern Cal football coach Steve Sarkisian profanely addresses boosters and fans while drunk. ..... Cris Carter apologizes for telling players at NFL Rookie Symposium they should have a “fall guy” to help them avoid trouble. An alternate piece of advice he might have been: Stay out of trouble so you don’t need a “fall guy.” ..... Now-retired former Dolphins bullying victim Jonathan Martin revealed he has contemplated suicide, seriously impinging my ability to make fun of him.

DOLPHINS 13, ATLANTA 9 (FAUX-GAME 3): THIS ONE COUNTED! (OK, NOT REALLY. BUT SORT OF): FINAL: Encouragingly, this was the third game in a row Miami's offensive and defensive starters outplayed the other team and performed very well. These units look season-ready. This time a win resulted for a 1-2 exhibition record, but it's the play of the main units that should have Dolfans nearly giddy. Tannehill tonight was 15-for-19 for 145 yards and a TD, Jarvis Landry looked good, and the defense was terrific, including six sacks. All of ATL's points came off Miami miscues. More importantly, coach Joe Philbin indicated after the game he did not think center Mike Pouncey's knee injury was a concern. In terms of roster spots last tonight, rookie kicker Andrew Franks may have drawn even with Caleb Sturgis. And I'd no longer be surprised if Josh Freeman edged Matt Moore for the backup QB role. ..... Fourth Quarter: MIA fumble recovery with 1:21 left at own 18 preserves win. ... Four-point late lead on rookie Franks' 51-yard FG. ... MIA recovers fumble with 4:13 left. ... More rain; not many fans still at Joe's Place. ... Third-string QB Josh Freeman looking pretty good, at wheel for 10-9 lead finished by 32Y FG by rookie Andrew Franks with 7 minutes to play. Longshot Franks stays in the competition with incumbent Caleb Sturgis for the PK job. ... ATL up 9-7. All Falcons points have followed Dolphins miscues. ... Matt Moore intercepted and 43Y return have Falcons poised to take lead. ..... Third Quarter: Goalline stand by backup defense preserves lead in scoreless third. ... Looks like second half will be reserves. Once again, for third game preseason game in a row, starters performed wel. ..... Half: Modest 7-6 lead but Dolphins very impressive overall. Tannehill 15-19 for 145 yards and a TD before giving way to Moore, Jarvis Landry 6 catches for 84 yards, and defense keeping Falcons punter busy. ATL's only points set up by a muffed Miami punt snap and a turnover. ..... Second quarter: ATL within 7-6 on 50Y field goal after late turnover. ... Matt Moore replaces Tannehill late in half. ... Center Mike Pouncey out with knee injury but does not seem serious. Questionable return but doubt he does as a precaution. ... MIA 7-0 on Rishard Matthews short TD pass from Tannehill. ..... First Quarter: Jarvis Landry 45-yard catch and run wakes up crowd. ... Late 1Q but Miami already subbing on defense, several starters already out.  ... Falcs parlay field position into 43-yard FG and 3-0 lead, but Fins defense looking good. ... Rain starts. Bad snap leads to muffed Dolphins pun after a couple of dropped passes. ... Quick ATL punt. DT Earl Mitchell playing like, "Suh, who?" ... Miami punt to open game. ... Pregame: Sparse crowd. Stadium improvements look good but fans aren't dumb. It's still a glorified practice game ... Hullo? Is this mic on? We'll be live-blogging the game here tonight and then have a postgame mini-column. ..... Original post: Atlanta Falcons here tonight in Miami's third exhibition game and, yes, it matters a little bit. A few reasons why and 1aa1abigdealother thoughts entering tonight: 1) Home debut, like-new stadium: It's the 2015 home debut of a Dolphins team that has a buzz about it, and in a refurbished stadium that also will look and feel new. A fall-flat performance would be a letdown. Especially because... 2) Playing to win: After two earlier losses in which the starters played well, but briefly, Miami will actually play to win for the first time, in a "dress rehearsal" game that figures to see the starters play much more. Atlanta has been 4-12 and 6-10 the past two seasons, so, yes, a loss tonight to go 0-3 would hurt in a way the past two did not. 3) Can't play scared: They'll balance the want to win with staying healthy. Since Ryan Tannehill and most other starters likely won't even play in next week's preseason finale, a key injury tonight is the worst fear. However! Reject the scared notion that Tannehill shouldn't play at all because of that 1aa1ahelmet testfear. He needs the added work behind his line, with his mostly new receivers, and against a live defense. You don't approach a game with your tail between your legs. 4) The offensive line: Seeking progress from an offensive line in flux due to both injuries and the questions at guard. Tonight guard Dallas Thomas likely will start at left tackle ... so be alert and nimble, Tannehill! 5) Position battles: In addition to the guard play, Walt Aikens is the heir to injured Louis Delmas' safety job. Is he up to the task? We may see tonight, as the Falcons' Matt Ryan will offer the best passing attack Miami has yet faced. Kicker Caleb Sturgis also must button-down his role tonight or risk still losing it. Bonuses: Interesting piece on coach Joe Philbin this week on Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback site; click here to read). Finally, pictured left, apropos of nothing, a prototype football helmet being tested as the wearer heaves himself into a wall, circa 1912. Evidently no concussion concerns back then.

WEIGHING THE FISH (130 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the departed Michael Morse but included Cole Gillespie even though he is one at-bat shy at 129). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton led comfortably before his injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 130 games (at 52-78):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @120

1  Dee Gordon                  430.9    1

2  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   358.0   3

4  Martin Prado              308.1    6

5  Christian Yelich         286.3   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         286.1   5

7  Marcell Ozuna            264.2   8

8  Justin Bour                 260.6    7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              228.6   9

10  Derek Dietrich          195.1   10

11  Cole Gillespie            140.1   --

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 4.

1aa1alamarmillerDOLPHINS' IN FANTASY RANKINGS: ESPN.com's official and final Top 300 fantasy rankings (click here for full list) includes 11 Dolphins, though none are pegged higher than what would be the third round in most drafts. The Fins listed, in order: 29th--RB Lamar Miller (pictured); 65th--WR Jarvis Landry; 87th--TE Jordan Cameron; 113th--WR DeVante Parker; 136th--RB Jay Ajayi; 142nd--Dolphins defense; 148th--QB Ryan Tannehill; 181st--RB Damien Williams; 191st--PK Caleb Sturgis; 197th--WR Kenny Stills; and 232nd--WR Greg Jennings. Quick thought: I think Tannehill, the 11th-ranked QB, could be somebody's draft steal. 

METEROLOGISTS SECRETLY DOWNTRODDEN AS SOUTH FLORIDA EVADES ERIKA'S CONE OF DOOM: Erika, the tropical storm, evidently not only won't become a hurricane but will be downgraded to a depression, or perhaps even a stiff breeze. This is good 1aa1acanestvfor South Florida, but bad of course for the people who sell plywood, ice, batteries and such. It's also bad for local TV meteorologists, who sell panic and at every opportunity foment an anxiety that leads to comically premature preparation. We'll probably get some rain and maybe some barely strong winds late Sunday into Monday. That's it. Am I making fun of hurricanes or the preparation for them. No! Certainly not on the 10-year anniversary of Katrina. Real hurricanes must be taken seriously. I am making fun of local TV weather people over-dramatizing every threat. I am picturing disappointed meteorologists downtrodden today, likely drinking heavily as they wistfully picture themselves beachside filming heroically in front of wind-whipped Stop signs.

Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 23, 2015

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins and Rappin' Joe, Canes, Marlins, NFL, LeBatard, Heat, Tiger, FIU; plus Fins-Cats, Entercom's shameful undercut in local radio & more

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

1aa1ajjfish1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 24. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) Pictured left: Reasons why Jimmy Johnson will never get back into coaching. This is JJ's prize from a recent fishing trip to Bimini. Click on image for a larger version. Life is good. 3) Happy birthday to my terrific wife, the greatest person I know! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exclusive on LeBatard Show move, love of NFL poll, Weighing The Fish, 2 Canes honored, ranking Miami uniforms, best-fans verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' project: The Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click FINS AT 50 to access entire project and all its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for that honor. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with Shula and also Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Enjoy!

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: A reminder, our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls will be back this year, but they start with the regular season, not the preseason.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive 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:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins 0-2 in preseason but starters encouraging again: Miami is now 0-2 in fake games after last night's 31-30 loss at Carolina, but for a second straight week Ryan Tannehill and the starting units looked strong. Meanwhile coach Joe Philbin, in a white top hat and tails, rapped on stage for players in a talent show Friday night (see video below). Oh how I wish I were kidding! While practicing in Carolina for a few days Philbin also took his players on a team outing to see the movie Straight Outta Compton. That surprised me. I always thought of Philbin as more of an East Coast rappers kind of guy.

2. HURRICANES: Countdown 12 days 'til football opener: With the second and last fall scrimmage done as UM prepares for its 14th season since last winning a national title, 1960s Canes star Ted Hendricks was honored this week on a 75th anniversary All-America team. Old memories are nice, but fans attending next Saturday's CanesFest are looking for some new ones, please.

3. MARLINS: Reasons to keep watching (this won't take long): With Fish in midst of a homestand, four reasons to keep watching as The Lost Season drones on. 1, Giancarlo Stanton's long-awaited return from injury is due "early September." 2, Dee Gordon might win the NL batting crown. 3, Jose Fernandez will return from injury, again, eventually. 4, Marlins now on pace to NOT lose 100 games!

4. NFL: Brady vs. NFL nears ruling in federal court: Tom Brady and Roger Goodell are due back in federal court Aug. 31 in the Deflategate case and many think Brady's four-game suspension may be overturned. His supporters include Donald Trump. I don't wanna say Trump is overconfident, but if the court upholds Brady's punishment, Trump is already planning a presidential pardon.

5. DAN LEBATARD: Popular Miami-based radio show moving to morning: LeBatard's ESPN Radio show will move from 4-7 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting next month, as I first reported in my blog. I know this isn't a huge deal, but I forced it into this week's Hot Button Top 10 in a shameless, transparent attempt to make my "scoop" seem more important than it really was.

6. HEAT: Annual forecast details Heat's upcoming season: ESPN.com’s annual NBA expert panel’s “Summer Forecast” has determined the Heat will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference this coming season with a 47-35 record. Geez, way to ruin it! Couldn’t they at least have given us a spoiler alert?

7. GOLF: Davis Love III wins. No, seriously: Davis Love III, 51, won the Wyndham yesterday, capping a week in which Jordan Spieth overtook the world No. 1 ranking. Tiger Woods chased the Wyndham title before petering out. It's no major, but, hey, when your world ranking is a current 286th, you’ll take the Wyndham.

8. JURISPRUDENCE: National Labor Relations Board rules against Northwestern: The NLRB ruled against Northwestern University football players’ efforts to unionize. “Dear College Players,” the NLRB might as well have said, “You’re getting a free scholarship. Shut up and play.”

9. FIU: Panthers under pressure to boost attendance: FIU football must average 15,000 fans per game this season or risk losing its top-tier FBS standing. I say this in case you start to notice crowds seem bigger than usual because of what appears to be thousands of rented homeless people.

10. BASEBALL: Dodgers' payroll nears milestone: The Los Angeles Dodgers’ player payroll is approaching a record $300 million. Hey, what’s the big deal!? Jeffrey Loria spends that much on the Marlins. It just takes him seven or eight years.

Missing the HB10 cut: Little League World Series is underway through next Sunday as eight U.S. teams and eight foreign teams battle to see which ultimately is the best at sneaking in overage players undetected. ... Nova Southeastern University men’s golf coach Ryan Jamison is voted best current coach in all of South Florida in a Miami Herald online readers poll. No, seriously. ... The tennis U.S. Open begins in eight days in New York, and American player Mardy Fish said it will be his last tournament before he retires, leading analysts to Google who the heck Mardy Fish is. ... There is now a we-want-our-money-back class action suit in federal court over the Maywesther-Pacquiao fight, meaning Deflategate may no longer be the most frivolous case in federal court. ... R.I.P., Jimmy Evert, 91. ... Florida State is now requiring all of it athletes to take a personal-responsibility course. Probably would-a been cheaper just post a memo to football players: QUIT HITTING WOMEN! ... Brewers minor-leaguer David Denson has become the first openly gay player affiliated with an MLB team. Progress: When stuff like that isn’t even news anymore. ... Finally, there is renewed debate over whether all kids in youth sports, not just top finishers, should get “participation” trophies. “Oh hell YES!” said the American Association of Trophy Manufacturers.

RAPPIN' JOE PHILBIN LEADS DOLPHINS, BUT THEY LOSE ANYWAY: After losing big in Chicago last week -- but, more importantly, with the starting units looking very good -- the Dolphins provided the

1aa1ajoerapnext glimpse 'n hint of who they are last night at Carolina in fake-game dos, and lost 1aa1ajoerap2again, 31-30. I'd not be too worried, though. It wasn't much different than last week, meaning fairly brief appearances by the starters followed by a long look at the bottom-thirders trying to make the roster. This was the game that should settle the depth chart -- the starting guard spots, and whether Walt Aikens is the man to replace injured safety Louis Delmas, et cetera. (Next week's home debut, the third exhibition, will be the truer dress rehearsal with starters playing a lot). Last night, again, the starters played well. QB Ryan Tannehill was 12-for-15 for 102 yards and a TD. The few days of practice in Carolina this week were big on team bonding. Coach Joe Philbin took the guys to the movies to see Straight Outta Compton. The next night, evidently inspired, Philbin, his assistants and staffers put on a lack of talent show for the players, with Philbin on stage rapping. OK it wasn't actual rapping. It was the version of it you get from an extremely white guy in his 50s dressed like Fred Astaire. Philbin wore a white top hat and tails, as pictured from the video. Click on Rappin' Joe Philbin to see and (unfortunately) hear the short video, brought to you via linebacker Koa Misi's Instagram account. Fun stuff, actually. It humanizes a coach often seen as stiff, and the players seemed to love it. That was the point, after all.

ENTERCOM COMMUNICATIONS' STUNNING LACK OF CLASS: Entercom Communications, a Pennsylvania- 1aa1aentercombased broadcasting company, recently bought local radio stations 104.3 (FM) and The Ticket Miami (790-AM) from Lincoln Financial. The Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz aired on both. Suddenly, yesterday, without advance notice, 104.3 moved from a sports format to alternative music, meaning LeBatard and other shows were back to AM only -- without even the chance to alert listeners it would be happening. What a lousy way to run a business, Entercom.

Poll result: Vast majority following NFL just as much despite scandals: We asked if you are following the NFL any less because of its various controversies, and it was 74.8 percent "no" versus only 25.2% "yes."

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 14, 2015

PS1: @Chicago 27, Dolphins 10 (Final): Forget the score. Dolfans should be more encouraged than discouraged. My postgame thoughts; plus why is NBA ruining Christmas? New poll. Vote!; also Fins playoff likelihood, tennis sex scandal & more

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

1aa1acolinbeer1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 14. Defrocked ESPN voice Colin Cowherd now has his own beer. Oh Lord how I wish I were kidding. Click on image at left to see enlarged version. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jam-packed! Mayweather-Rousey poll, complete Heat schedule, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins' next manager, latest 'Back In My Day,' Drone Racing League, Joe Goodman, MNF broadcasters list & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1abuffettHey, waaaiiit a minute, Jimmy!: I thought Jimmy Buffett was our guy!? Mr. Key West, Mr. Landshark, a Heat fan, Fins Up, all that. Wasn't Buffett assumed to be a Dolphins fan too? Well, hmm. Here's Jimmy pictured today attending a Saints practice, standing beside former Dolphins and now Saints PR guy Fitz Ollison. Say it ain't so, Jim!

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Our DSM postgame blog polls will be back for another season this year -- but not tonight or during the preseason. They begin with the regular season. 

Fins playoff shot guesstimated at 44%: Numberfire.com, an analytics site, has its AFC East preview out today (read here) and predicts Miami for second in the division behind the Patriots. It puts Dolphins' playoff shot at 44.2 percent, with a 24.4% shot to be division champ and a wins over/under of 8.4. 

THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS: FOOTBALL'S BACK!: Final thoughts--This may strike some as strange after a 27-10 loss pockmarked by four turnovers, but I'd think Dolphins fans ought not be real disappointed right now. When it was Ryan Tannehill out there, and Ndamukong Suh on the other side -- when it was the Miami starters vs. Chicago's starters -- Miami looked very good. It was the backups and scrubs who squandered the early lead and the win. That suggests Miami's depth may be suspect. But if you judge this game, as you should, by how Miami looked at its best, the night was more encouraging than discouraging. ..... 4Q--Freeman INT is Miami's fourth turnover. Ugh. ... Dolphins scrubs give up 54Y scoring run for 27-10 score. MIA has done nothing since the starters went out. ... Josh Freeman in at QB for Miami. ... Oy! Bethel-Thompson (soon to be a former Dolphin) is intercepted again, leads to  Bears FG and 20-10 score. ..... 3Q--Bethel-Thompson intercepted to put Dolphins lead in peril. Sure enough, CHI coverts for TD run and two-point conversion for 17-10 lead in quarter's last seconds. MIA safety Cedric Thompson had chance to be a hero on 4th-down scoring run but was not. ... Pandas within 10-9 as Fins D stiffens in the red zone. ... A man named "Aultman" just caught a pass for Miami. Preseason opener! ... Penalties, now a lost fumble. Certainly not a flawless game by Fins. ..... 2Q--MIA 10-3 on Sturgis 31Y FG after squandered drive into red zone. ... You know it's a preseason opener when you look up and notice your QB is a person named "McLeod Bethel-Thompson." He replaced Matt Moore, who replaced Tanny. ... True to expectations, most defensive starters now out, too. ..... 1Q--Defense looking stout, too, but what a dropoff in run-D when Ndamukong Suh isn't in. ... Tannehill, many other offense starters out after only one series. He was 6-for-7. Like a razor, he was. ... MIA 7-0: Bottle that drive. Save it for September. Tannehill sharp enough to overcome two holding penalties. ..... Original post: The Day of the Dolphin was a not-very-good 1973 sci-fi thriller starring George C. Scott. This is the Day of the Dolphins -- the preseason opener tonight at 1aa1adayof 1aa1adayof2Chicago that tangibly kicks off the franchise's 50th anniversary season. Will the Dolphins be very good as the buzz suggests? Let the hints begin, although whether Miami wins or loses tonight won't be much of a barometer. Exhibition openers rarely are, as I detail in today's latest column. Click on Results Don't Matter (Yet) For Dolphins, But Football's Back to read in full. Look for Dolphins starters to play only the first quarter, if that. I'd expect Ryan Tannehill goes one series, maybe two. Trained eyes will be on the guard play as a handful of contenders try to determine if Miami has two suitable starters to flank center Mike Pouncey. It also will be interesting to see Ndamukong Suh, in a new uniform, facing his longtime former division rivals, albeit briefly. Coach Joe Philbin will devote the first two exhibitions to settling his depth chart and roster, with an eye on making the third exhibition the first real we-wanna-win dress rehearsal.

JESUS! NBA'S CHRISTMAS DAY OBSESSION AGAIN RUINS MIAMI'S HOLIDAY: In the previous blogpost we 1aa1achristmasnbalisted the entire 2015-16 Heat regular-season schedule released yesterday. It includes a Heat home game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas Day -- a noon tipoff that will be the first of a record five NBA games played on the holiday. I can tell you from past conversations that neither NBA players nor TV announcers like working on Christmas. I know I don't. For many of us, whether it's for religious or family reasons, Christmas is a day to be home, and certainly not a day to work. Yet the NBA embraces Christmas as its own stage to a degree beyond other leagues. I wonder whether the NBA's leadership being Jewish -- David Stern to Adam Silver -- weighs anything in this league treating Christmas not as an occasion to be off but as just another play day? Hey, I'm just asking!

TENNIS SEX SCANDAL!: So Stan Wawrinka, the reigning French Open champion and world's No. 5- 1aa1adonnavranked man, is playing Nick Kyrgios in the Montreal Masters last night in a heated match and, during a walk past each between sets, an open on-court mic picks up Kyrgios saying to Wawrinka, "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate." The reference was to a fellow ATP player, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and to Wawrinka's girlfriend, WTA player Donna Vekic, 19. Kyrgios did not deny what was heard, explaining Wawrinka had been getting "lippy." Wawrinka has responded angrily on Twitter, calling for the tour to discipline Kyrgios. Vekic is pictured. She may or may not be gesturing that she has two lovers, one for each hand. Ouch. Too soon?

Updated World Series odds: Out today via Bovada, Toronto Blue Jays are the new World Series favorites at 4-1. Others sub 10-1 are Royals at 5-1, Dodgers and Cardinals both 8-1 and Mets -- the Mets! -- at 9-1. Your Marlins are a tidy bargain at 2,000-to-1.

Poll result: Rousey beats Mayweather in no-holds-barred fight: Very few of our poll results surprise me, but this one sort of did. We asked who'd win in a no-holds-barred, MMA-style fight, and it was Ronda Rousey over Floyd Mayweather Jr., 56.1 percent to 43.9. 

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 02, 2015

The new Hot Button Top10: Dolphins, Jose, Canes, Brady, Heat, Howard, Seau, Cecil the Lion, women coaches; plus the 5 most impressive streaks in Miami sports history & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, AUGUST 2. Happy new month, all! 2) Baseball history: Dodger Clayton Kershaw vs. Angel Mike Trout tonight will mark the first pitch in MLB history thrown by one reigning league MVP to another. Seems hard to believe, but pitchers rarely win MVP. Kershaw was first in NL since Bob Gibson in 1968. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' refreshing bravado and Training Camp Primer, Fartgate, Tom Brady legacy poll, Jose Fernandez, Marlins trades and Weighing The Fish & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Random Evidence: Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package.

Marlins deal Haren: Marlins met MLB trade deadline by dealing pitcher Dan Haren to Cubs for two Double-A prospects, pitcher Ivan Pineyro and infielder Elliot Soto. Haren had pitched well but was a pending free agent; the trade was no surprise.

Dolphins' uncommon optimism: The franchise hasn't made the playoffs since 2008 or won in the postseason since 2000 but its latest editon is all fired up and all but guaranteeing the playoffs in '15. Click on Refreshing Bravado for my column off the start of training camp.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 2): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (posted early this week) 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: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Playoffs or bust! Big talk as training camp opens: Stephen Ropss, Joe Philbon and Ryan Tannehill, et al, exuded confidence and all but guaranteed the playoffs as Dolphins camp began on Thursday. The bravado was refreshing to hear, but, coming from a team that hasn't won a playoff game in 14 years, it also sounded a little like your girlfriend smack-talking Ronda Rousey.

2. MARLINS: Fernandez goes for home win-streak record Sunday: Jose Fernandez, 15-0 at Marlins Park, takes the mound Sunday vs. Padres trying to equal the MLB record for most consecutive home victories to start one's career. It's also "Bark in the Park" day. Opponents haven't bothered or derailed Jose at home. Let's see if a bunch of yapping dogs can.

3. HURRICANES: UM opens football practice on Thursday: Coach Al Golden begins his fifth year leading The U, but, coming off a 6-7 season, fan patience toward Golden is minimal. To give you an example, I hear disgruntled boosters have arranged for a plane to pull a 'Fire Golden' banner Thursday in gloomy anticipation of a disappointing first practice. 

4. NFL: Brady still fighting as Goodell denies Deflategate appeal: Patriots QB Tom Brady remains under a four-game suspension but is taking his case to federal court, which will hear arguments Aug. 12 and 19. So it's official: They truly have made a federal case of whether Brady was aware of infinitesimally under-inflated footballs that had zero bearing on any outcome. 

5. MARLINS: Fish are sellers (of course) at trade deadline: A flurry of baseball trades to beat the MLB deadline included Miami trading away five players -- starting pitchers Dan Haren and Mat Latos among them -- and getting all young prospects in return. Deals were expected, and less a fire sale than smart business. Rotation is thin now, though. Have they told you yet? You're starting Tuesday.

6. HEAT: Team makes trades, sets preseason schedule: Heat announced its preseason schedule (and thus Chris Bosh's comeback) would begin Oct. 4. Team also made minor roster moves, trading Zoran Dragic and releasing Henry Walker after earlier trading Shabazz Napier. Thanks for the memories, guys. I'd be specific, but I can't think of any offhand.

7. HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER: Tribute dinner planned for coaching icon: Miami Touchdown Club is hosting a tribute dinner for Schnellenberger, 81, this Thursday at Signature Grand in Davie. I don't wanna say Howard has had a full career, but if they detailed all of his various accomplishments, I'd estimate that Thursday's dinner would end around early October.

8. JUNIOR SEAU: Controversy overshadows Hall induction in Canton: Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct its latest class this coming Saturday, overshadowed by the Hall's decision to not let the family of the late Junior Seau speak on his behalf. Not sure which is worse. That heartless decision. Or the subsequent refusal to budge from it.

9. WOMEN COACHES: Females making sudden inroads with male teams: Three major pro men's teams (San Antonio Spurs, Arizona Cardinals and Sacramento Kings) now have female assistant coaches. Next step on the progress chart: When those kind of hirings are so common they're barely newsworthy. 

10. CECIL THE LION: Has hunting ever seemed less sporting?: A Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, is in trouble for illegally hunting and killing the beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe and now faces extradition to face charges. (See more on this below). Authorities aren't buying the dentist's excuse that he was merely trying to sedate the animal to perform a root canal.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphin Cam Wake poses with uncaged tiger in Thailand. "That was intimidating," said the tiger. ..... Marlins play farting sounds on PA system during Nationals batting practice because, well, they're the Marlins! ..... Marlins will have influence of over design of David Beckham's new MLS stadium planned near Marlins Park. Uh oh. ..... Two Heat fans spend $75,000 to watch a game with Dan LeBatard. You can have met for 20 bucks. ..... Kyle Busch is first NASCAR driver in eight years to win three races in a row, and we still don't like him. ..... Florida's two-day lobster mini-season ends. Do y'all not realize lobsters are readily available for purchase year round? ..... Beijing is awarded 2022 Winter Olympics despite having no snow. IOC strikes again! ..... Boston withdraws as host candidate for '24 Summer Games, and entire city yawns. ..... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson, 20 wins her fifth LPGA tournament. When I was 20, I figured out that if you shook a vending machine an extra bag of chips might drop. ..... R.I.P., Rowdy Roddy Piper, wrestling's greatest bad guy.

THE MOST IMPRESSIVE STREAKS IN MIAMI SPORTS HISTORY: I fancy myself a South Florida sports historian so this kind of stuff interests me. Here are my top five Miami streaks, plus a few no-I-didn't-forget-you honorable mentions:

1aa1alarryc1. Dolphins' 18-game winning streak, 1972-73 -- Four decades later it still is tied for the third-longest streak of all-time in the NFL. But it is our choice for No. 1 because of the historical significance that it included the epic and still-unparalleled 17-0 Perfect Season of '72. Fullback Larry Csonka, along with Don Shula the broken-nosed face of perfection, is pictured.

1aa1aginot2. Hurricanes' 58-game home winning streak, 1985-94 -- It remains an NCAA football record, and an emblem of both the UM Glory Years and why the Orange Bowl still is so fondly remembered by so many. That streak also is one of the reasons so much pressure finds Al Golden today. Quarterback Gino Torretta is pictured.


1aa1ajosef3. Jose Fernandez's 15-0 home record, 2013-current
-- Fernandez, pictured, is scheduled to pitch on Sunday here, and one more win would tie the all-time MLB record for most consecutive home victories to start one's career. (A major reason for that streak and just as impressive as the wins: His 1.19 career ERA at Marlins Park).

1aa1alebronj4. Heat's 27-game winning streak, 2013 -- The Heat's franchise-record winning streak stands as probably the greatest hallmark of the four-year LeBron James Era; well, after the two championships, of course. The streak was the second-longest in NBA history and ended six victories shy of tying the all-time record of 33 set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. James (back when Miami still loved him) is pictured.


1aa1aluisc
5. Luis Castillo's 35-game hitting streak, 2002
 
-- Castillo, pictured, had the longest hitting streak in baseball in 15 years and tied for 11th longest of all-time, seventh best all-time among NL batters.

Honorable mention: Dolphins' 27 consecutive home wins, 1971-74. UM men's tennis streak of 137 straight matches won, 1957-64. And FAU baseball's 34 straight wins, 1999.

ON WALTER THE LION KILLER: The story has riveted international attention: How a Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, paid $50,000 to hunt and kill and beloved lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe. Now it seems 1aa1adentistthat government is attempting to extradite the doctor to face charges, and I must admit I hope the U.S. cooperates. Two Zimbabwe men already have been arrested. (Click here for the latest). The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says Cecil suffered a slow death, first with a crossbow, later by a gun. Palmer has said he regrets what he did, but he still should face consequences beyond, we may presume,the ruination of his dental practice from the tsunami of outraged reaction. The good to come of this: The light shone on the damnable practice of hunting for pleasure -- not for need, not for food, but for the pure sport of it. Hunters are free to do what's legal, but many of the rest of us are free to condemn the practice. What Palmer did, it must be emphasized, was not legal. (The illustration pictured is by Dave Granlund).

Poll result: Most think Brady legacy is damaged: We asked how much weight Tom Brady's role in Deflategate should be given in shaping his ultimate NFL legacy and it was 53.9 percent "a lot," 30.9% "a little" and 15.2% "none."

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 28, 2015

How much do you trust the buzz about the Dolphins? New poll. Vote now!; plus Miami flavor to MLB 25-and-under list, Golden's schedule on ESPN 'Car Wash' today, Seau induction controversy & more

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

It's Radio/TV Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 p.m. on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio and Fusion TV. New Back In My Day, new Periscope both possible. Ears and eyes welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 28. Dolphins re-sign QB Josh Freeman after just releasing him, a contractual maneuver to lessen team's financial risk. 2) Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez, with a home run on his 40th birthday, became only fourth player in MLB history to homer in his teens and his 40s, joining Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub and Gary Sheffield. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Harvard loves Dolphins, Hot Button Top 10, Stanton-Tannehill and Cosby-O.J. verdicts & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Canton should waive its dumb policy for Seau: Click on Let His Family Speak for today's latest column by me. It's on the Pro Football Hall of Fame not allowing a member of his family to speak for the late Junior Seau at next week's induction ceremony.

HOW MUCH DO YOU TRUST THE BUZZ ABOUT THE DOLPHINS?: Maybe some of it was Miami being at the 1aa1ansuhcenter of the offseason's biggest free-agent signing in defensive star Ndamukong Suh (pictured). Maybe it was the long-term commitment to Ryan Tannehill, or the receiving corps overhaul. Heck, maybe it's just the law of averages -- the sense the Fins are simply due for a big season after this long run of mediocrity. In any case there is a buzz about the team this season, a cautious expectation about the playoffs. (You saw in our previous blogpost that even a Harvard University analytic study has forecast Miami to be in the Super Bowl). But I'm more curious what you think than what Harvard does. With the Dolphins hitting the practice field this Thursday for the start of training camp, who does how you feel about the Dolphins' upcoming season differ from how you typically feel? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

DISTINCT SOUTH FLORIDA STAMP ON BASEBALL 25-AND-UNDER LIST: With Jose Fernandez on the mound as Marlins return home tonight, it's a good time to bring you MLB.com's new list of the top 25 1aa1ammachadoplayers 25-and-younger. (Complete list here). After Mike Trout and Bryce Harper at 1-2, there is a distinct South Florida flavor, with five of the next 23 players having local ties: No. 3--Orioles 3B Manny Machado, pictured left (Hialeah and Brito High); No. 4--Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton; No. 6--Marlins pitcher Fernandez; No. 9--Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo (Fort Lauderdale and Stoneman-Douglas High); and No. 23--Royals 1B Eric Hosmer (South Miami and American Heritage High).

GOLDEN RUNS THE 'CAR WASH' GAUNTLET: Hurricanes coach Al Golden is run through ESPN's 'Car Wash'
today in Bristol, Conn., answering the same questions dozens of times and gamely pretending to enjoy
1aa1agoldencarwashthe experience. Theme most likely to be pounded into the ground: "The media and fans have put you on the hot seat, Al. How do you respond to that criticism and pressure?" Here's where to catch Golden on radio or TV today: 10:25 a.m. on SportscenterU on ESPNU; 10:50 on ESPN Front Row; 11:20 on SportsCenter (pictured at right); 11:40 on ESPN Digital Video with Chris Low; 12:15 p.m. on Championship Drive Podcast; 12:30 with Freddie Coleman; 1 with Jorge Sedano; 1:20 on College Football Live; 1:40 with Joe Schad; 2:20 with Paul Finebaum; and 2:35 on College Football Daily. Golden, embattled off a 6-7 season, opens his fifth UM year with the start of fall practice Aug. 6. Season starts Sept. 5 at home vs. Bethune-Cookman.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 27, 2015

Harvard (yes, Harvard) says Dolphins will make Super Bowl; plus Zoran Dragic, latest Hot Button Top 10 with Fins, Marlins, Heat, Canes, Cooperstown, Froome, Cowherd, soccer, Pan Am; also Stanton-Tannehill and Cosby-O.J. verdicts & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 27. Heat today reportedly have traded Zoran Dragic to Boston -- with the blessing of brother Goran. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's Next poll (Stanton vs. Tannehill), Al Golden's Kumbaya Manifesto, Dolphins among Top 100 players, Fall From Grace poll, U.S. men's shame, Weighing The Fish & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Sunday at Cooperstown: It was one of baseball's most illustrious inductions days. ICYMI, click here to see the four plaques, hear the tribute videos and watch the induction speeches.

HARVARD STUDY FORECASTS DOLPHINS IN SUPER BOWL. NO, SERIOUSLY: OK, Dolfans. You wanted a foundation (I mean beyond the law of averages) for your optimism about this coming season? You got it. 1aa1asb50A study by the brainiacs at Harvard University forecasts a Seattle-Miami Super Bowl. This is via the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, a student-run organization "dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management." In this study, researcher Kurt Bullard used Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, the site’s measure of comparing individual talent. Then Bullard, using ESPN’s NFL depth charts, aggregated each team’s per-game Approximate Value of what he judged the "core" makeup of a team: QB, RB, 2 WR, TE, top 2 OL, top 4 "front seven" defenders and top 2 players from secondary. Click here for details of the study and the complete list of how teams ranked. The study lists AFC East playoff likelihood as Dolphins 77 percent, Patriots 62%, Jets 56% and Bills 43%. Here are the study's projected eight AFC and NFC playoff teams based on overall ratings:

AFC: Dolphins 145 points, Chiefs 142, Patriots 141, Broncos 137, Jets 134, Colts 133, Bills 133, Steelers 132. NFC: Seahawks 166, Packers 154, Lions 136, Giants 126, Eagles 125, Cowboys 123, Falcons 120, Saints and Cardinals (tried) 119.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) 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: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open training camp in three days: Team assembles on Wednesday and practices for first time on Thursday as lid lifts on club's 50th anniversary season. Joe Philbin will remind players they're there to win a championship. Um, yeah so will 31 other NFL head coaches. Question is whether Miami will be among the handful that actually might.

2. MARLINS: Fish return home (finally!) as trade deadline looms: Off a 3-7 road grind, Marlins are back Tuesday vs. Nationals with Jose Fernandez pitching, Miami's first home game in 16 days. Meantime team traded defrocked closer Steve Cishek to Cards for a minor-leaguer with more deals likely before July 31 deadline. In other words, there's 60-plus games left, but season is over,

3. HURRICANES: UM sees "accountability" as football nears: Al Golden is talking up intangibles like accountability and leadership as UM nears Aug. 6 start of practice. "One heartbeat," he says. Call it Camp Kumbaya. Now if Canes can just replace Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman and four other NFL draftees, they might be OK.

4. BASEBALL: Pitchers lead incoming Hall of Fame class: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, who combined for 735 wins, joined Craig Biggio in the latest Hall of Fame induction class Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y. Johnson stood out. The 10-time All-Star won 303 games, struck out 4,875 and is sport's all-time career leader in mullets.

5. HEAT: Miami trades Napier to Magic: Heat yesterday dealt second-year guard Shabazz Napier to Orlando Magic for a second-round draft pick. Miami would have much preferred Magic take Mario Chalmers (and his salary). Chalmers and/or Birdman Andersen may yet be traded. 

6. CYCLING: Froome zooms to Tour de France victory: Great Britain's Chris Froome won his second Tour de France in the 102nd running of the event beset by recent doping scandals. How boring. Why couldn't the upset winner have been some 9-year-old kid riding a beat-up Schwinn with baseball cards flapping in the spokes?

7. COLIN COWHERD: ESPN removes radio host over comments: ESPN booted radio host Colin Cowherd from its air after widespread criticism met his suggestion that Dominican baseball players lacked intelligence. Maybe Cowherd saw that making idiotic, insulting statements seemed to be working for Donald Trump and thought he’d give it a try, too!

8. BASEBALL: Hamels tosses no-hitter as pitchers steal season spotlight: Phillies' Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs Saturday, surely boosting his trade value. Meantime Dodgers aces Zack Greinke (43 2/3) and Clayton Kershaw (29) entered the weekend with 72 2/3 combined shutout innings in a row, though Greinke's streak ended Sunday at 45 2/3. Batters, ya'll need some Viagra for those bats! (Well, except Alex Rodriguez, who hit three homers Saturday).

9. GOLF: It's 'The American Year' on PGA Tour: Zach Johnson's British Open win last Monday, following Jordan Spieth's Masters and U.S. Open triumphs, means 2015 could be the first year since 1982 that U.S. golfers win all four majors. Too bad this sport and its “Quiet Please” signs frown upon a good, loud “U.S.A!” chant.

10. SOCCER: No U.S., but there was Gold Cup final, anyway: Philadelphia hosted Mexico's 3-1 win over Jamaica in CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer final last night -- hardly the championship match expected. Jamaica stunned the U.S in one semifinal and Mexico lucked to beat Panama in the other thanks to outrageous penalty-kick calls.

Missing the HB10 cut: U.S. won medals count as Pan American Games ended Sunday in Toronto. Pan Am Games are best known for drinking heavily and undergoing years of therapy from being lost in shadow of the bigger, more prestigious Olympic Games. ..... Pro Football Hall of Fame, in apparent effort to make itself seem heartless and small, refuses to let Junior Seau's family speak at next month’s posthumous induction ..... Wednesday is “Writers Night” at Marlins Park, with contest-winning fans watching game in company of Miami Herald sportswriters. One person will then be chosen for Grand Prize: Getting to ditch the writers and return to his regular seat ..... Annual WNBA All-Star Game was Saturday and MLS all-stars play Wednesday. Still intact: My incredible personal record of having never watched a single second of either. ..... U.S. Department of Justice drops 10-year investigation of Barry Bonds with no ultimate conviction. Hmm. Why do people keep saying the government wastes so much money?

Poll result: Stanton beats Tannehill for top-tier potential: We asked whether Giancarlo Stanton or Ryan Tannehill was more likely, 10 years from now, to be considered in Dan Marino/Dwyane Wade territory as an all-time great, beloved Miami sports star, and the Marlins slugger beat the Dolphins quarterback by 54.7 percent to 45.3%.

Poll result: O.J. edges Cosby for biggest fall from grace: It was one of the closest results we've ever seen. We asked whether Bill Cosby or O.J. Simpson had the bigger, more notorious fall from grace, and the dubious "winner" was O.J. with 51.5 percent to Cosby's 48.5%.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 19, 2015

What's our enthusiasm level for MLS soccer in Miami? Poll Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Beckham, Marlins, British Open, Canes unis, Heat, Gold Cup, Dolphins, urine; also Dwyane Wade wine, Big 5-optimism verdict & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 20. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS in Miami moves closer, Big 5 optimism poll, R.I.P. Bill Arnsparger, Dolphin's brush with homelessness, Marlins resume, ESPY review, UM's jersey policy, Heat-expectations verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope. (Our followers on Twitter get automatic Periscope alerts).

Royals new WS faves: Kansas City Royals are new World Series frontunners at 6-1 odds, via Bovada's latest line. Cardinals and Nationals are next at 8-1, then Dodgers at 17-2. Marlins' 150-1 odds are tied for fourth-longest.

1aa1awadewineDwyane Wade, vinter: Heat star Dwyane Wade now has his own wine label, as seen in the photo here of the reds he posted on Instagram. I do not yet have a proper review of the Wade wine. I'm guessing it has subtle notes and aroma of oak, blackberry and a late-career athlete trying to capitalize on his name while he still can. D.Wade also has his own signature fashion line of designer bowties and men's socks, of course. Diversifying one's business interests is key. Hopefully for Heat fans, the Wade portfolio also includes another season (or more) of elite play.

HOW ENTHUSIASTIC ARE WE ABOUT MLS SOCCER IN MIAMI?: Soccer tends to be a polarizing sport in
America, still. Millions embrace and love it; it has grown far beyond a curiosity or niche sport. Yet many 1aa1amiamlsothers steadfastly want little or nothing to do with it and see it as an acquired taste not for them. I think diverse Miami and South Florida are far more likely than most regions to embrace Major League Soccer, but I've been wrong before so I want to take the pulse. David Beckham's investment group and the city of Miami settling on a stadium site (the old Orange Bowl grounds near Marlins Park) makes it more likely than ever that Miami's MLS franchise is real and will begin play in 2018. So, how enthusiastic are we? Does the "Miami Is Ready" declarative in the illustration here need a question mark? Take a dip in our poll, express your feelings and drop us a comment to say why you feel as you do.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature 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: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. SOCCER: Miami, Beckham agree on MLS stadium site: David Beckham's investment group once referred to the former Orange Bowl site near Marlins Park as "spiritually tainted." Now, apparently it's "realistically feasible" after attempts at a waterfront stadium proved fruitless. The two applicable to the new stadium that are most important to taxpayers: "Privately funded." 

2. MARLINS: Injury-wracked Fish resume (badly) on long road trip: The semi-Marlins -- still missing injured stars Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Henderson Alvarez -- are back from All-Star Game break and in midst of 10-game road trip, starting 0-3 at hapless Philly. Team is on season-long 16-day gap between home games, but, given the way this season has gone, that's probably not a bad thing. 

3. GOLF: Johnson wins British Open; Spieth just short: The year's third major will ended on a Monday for first time since 1988, with Zach Johnson winning and Jordan Spieth one stroke off making the three-man playoff. The British was missing its defending champion Rory McIlroy to injury, and its shot at history as the Grand Slam-seeking Masters and U.S. Open champ Spieth was denied. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods missed the cut. Or, did that go without saying? 

4. HURRICANES: (So what!) UM unveils new football uniforms: Adidas threw an invitation-only VIP party on South Beach Saturday night to unveil its new University of Miami football uniforms, and nobody cared except Adidas executives, UM accountants and that segment of Canes fans way too worried about sartorial splendor. "Looking good" means playing well, Canes, not what you wear.

5. HEAT: Team wraps up summer league, mulls trades: Heat's youth squad finished a combined 6-4 in Orlando and Las Vegas summer-league play as club mulled trading Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen in salary cap moves. Meantime Chris Bosh called retooled Miami "on the verge of being an elite team. (Um, a lot of that depends on an elite you, Mr. Bosh). 

6. SOCCER: U.S. pounds Cuba, reaches Gold Cup semis: U.S. men ripped Cuba 6-0 Saturday to reach semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament and next face Jamaica on Wednesday. No surprise. I don't wanna say Cuba's expectations in the tournament were modest, but the big aim was having more goals than political defectors.

7. DOLPHINS: Countdown 10 days 'til start of training camp: It is almost time, Dolfans. It is almost time for experience the encroaching gloom of past disappointments and begin anxiously second-guessing your fragile optimism.   

8. CYCLING: Tour de France down to final week: Leader Chris Froome said a spectator yelled "Doper!" before throwing a cup of urine on him. I apologize. I don't know what got into me.   

9. BILL ARNSPARGER: Dolphins coaching icon passes away: Arnsparger, architect of the Super Bowl-winning "No-Name " defense and later the "Killer B's," died at 88. Among all coaches only Don Shula himself had a greater impact on Dolphins history.

10. THE ESPYS: ESPN stages annual salute to itself: Highlight: Caitlyn Jenner's speech. Lowlight: LeBron James winning the "Best Championship Moment" ESPY even though he didn't win a championship. "Yeah that makes sense," said snubbed American Pharoah.

Missing the HB10 cut: ACC Football Kickoff, annual three-day media event, starts Sunday. All-Star Game draws record-low TV rating. Exodus of ESPN stars. Conor McGregor lights up UFC. Cooperstown prepares for Hall of Fame weekend. And UM to limit football jersey sales each year to only Nos. 1 and the year (15 this season), the worst idea since New Coke.

Poll result: Heat, Dolphins make biggest leap in fan optimism: We asked which of our Big 5 sports teams are earning the most fan optimism right now, and the Heat and Dolphins are the big winners. The results now compared to the same poll back in February:

Team               Now        Feb.        +/-

Heat               49.1%      24.5%      +24.6

Dolphins        32.3%      14.1%      +18.2

UM football     9.0%      13.1%      - 4.1

Panthers           7.0%        5.4%      + 1.6

Marlins            2.6%       42.9%      -40.3

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 15, 2015

Where Miami teams rank among world's 50 most valuable franchises; plus Heat-expectations poll, LeBatard auction, Giancarlo Stanton's new PSA, baseball hits home run with Derby, chicken wings 'n pizza have a baby & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 15. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Good and bad on Tannehill ranking, Hot Button Top 10, Trump and Pierre-Paul verdicts & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too. Join us on Twitter for Periscope alerts. (We have a new 'Scope from yesterday's radio show. Watch soon. It disappears around 5:30 p.m. today).

'Peytom Branning': If Tom Brady and Peyton Manning morphed into each other: Click here for the gif.

Florida: "We're No. 10!": Recent national poll by market research group YouGov found Florida the 10th-most liked state in the U.S. (Are we bragging or complaining?) First: Hawaii. Dead last: New Jersey.

DOLPHINS BEAT HEAT ON MOST-VALUABLE-FRANCHISE LIST: List-mad Forbes has come out with its annual list of the world's Top 50 most valuable sports franchises for 2015, and two Miami clubs (the ones 1aa1amoneysportsyou'd expect) make it, albeit modestly. The Dolphins tie for 37th valued at $1.3 billion, and the Heat are 47th at $1.18 billion. The worldwide Top 10, with all figures in billions: 1. Real Madrid 3.26; 2. tie, Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees both 3.2; 4. Barcelona 3.16; 5. Manchester United 3.1; 6. tie, Los Angeles Lakers and New England Patriots both 2.6; 8. New York Knicks 2.5; 9. tie, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Redskins both 2.4. Rounding out the U.S. Top 10 after the Cowboys, Yankees, Lakers, Patriots, Knicks, Dodgers and Redskins are the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants (tied 12th at 2.1) and the Chicago Bulls and San Francisco Giants (tied 14th at 2.0).

MOTIVATED MAN: RILEY'S BIG SUMMER TURNS AROUND HEAT: A non-playoff team last season might now be the biggest NBA East challenger to LeBron James and Cleveland. That's what Pat Riley's big summer has 1aa1aheattwodone for the Miami Heat. Click on Motivated Man for our latest column. In a flurry the Heat drafted Duke's Justise Winslow, locked up point guard Goran Dragic for five years, kept Dwyane Wade, kept Luol Deng, and brought in big man Amar'e Stoudemire and 3-point guy Gerald Green at bargain rates. Mix in Chris Bosh' return to health, an ascending Hassan Whiteside and a healthy Josh McRoberts. That's an impressive nine-man depth. Riley has had is best offseason since 2010 and clearly is driven to topple LeBron James and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. Will he? Now that the draft is past and free agency is (mostly) over, it's time to set the bar on Heat expectations for the coming season. Don't vote what you hope happens; vote what you honestly think most realistically will happen. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

LEBATARD/ESPN AUCTION: LAST DAY!: Today is last day to submit bids in ESPN's ESPY Auction 1aa1adanbenefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research. An item that may be of special interest to South Floridians is a "Miami Heat Experience With Dan LeBatard and Stugotz." Winning bidder gets to watch an upcoming Heat game with Dan and Stu and also observe a taping of Highly Questionable and the radio show, along with other goodies. High bid was $4,110 when last I looked. Click here to access the auction (being done on eBay) and search Le Batard's name.

BASEBALL HITS A HOME RUN: Baseball got it right. Did it right. Monday's 30th annual Home Run Derby,
1aa1aderbyprecursor to last night's 86th All-Star Game, was pretty close to fantastic. I thought it upstaged the ASG, won 6-3 by the AL. After constant tinkering with the Derby format and an awful, boring show a year ago, MLB is preening and should be. Love the new format: eight players head-to-head, bracket style, with a time limit. The pace stayed fast, and guys were free-swinging, not worried about making outs. That the Reds' Todd Frazier won it, in Cincinnati, capped a storybook night. For an event that's all show and means nothing, really, it  was close to thrilling. The final eight suffered from the absence of the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (injured) and Nationals' Bryce Harper (choice) -- I think Stanton would have been the favorite -- but it was great stuff just the same.

Derby a hit with viewers: Via Nielsen, the Home Run Derby on ESPN drew a final 4.2 rating, up 24 percent from 2014, despite Chris Berman's hair. It was best HRD rating since 2009.

GIANCARLO STANTON'S NEW PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: MLB teamed up with the group Volunteers of America beginning in 2003 on an "Action Team" project, called a "national youth volunteer program." It is meant to encourage high-school age kids to get involved in helping those less fortunate in their communities. The latest public-service ad debuted during last night's All-Star Game, featuring the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (another sign of his rising public profile) and Yankees pitcher Chris Capuano. Click on Volunteers of America for more info. Here is the full 60-second PSA:

   

Stanton in Cooperstown: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's early-career trajectory suggests he might make the Hall of Fame someday -- if he stays healthy -- but did you know Stanton already is represented in Cooperstown with two artifacts in the Hall's permanent collection? They are: Batting helmet he wore Sept. 28, 2011 in Marlins’ final home game at Sun Life Stadium, and spikes worn Sept. 29, 2013 when Stanton scored the game's only run, on a wild pitch in bottom of ninth, to seal no-hitter of Henderson Alvarez.


1aa1achickenpizzaIF CHICKEN WINGS AND PIZZA HAD A BABY...:
They are calling it "Napoli Crispy Pizza Chicken" and it is currently being test-marketed at KFC locations in Hong Kong, which suggests the menu item may soon reach America if it goes over in the Kong. How could it not!? It's the marriage of chicken wings and pizza for God's sake! I just cold-called a random stranger in Kowloon to see how the dish is but he spoke Cantonese so I couldn't understand what he said. The Colonel would be proud. Or mortified, perhaps? 

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July 12, 2015

Good news, bad news on Dolphins QB Tannehill; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): MLB screws Marlins on ASG, Riley's big summer, Serena, parade, fireworks, The Donald, Dolfans slammed; also, verdicts on Trump, Jason Pierre-Paul & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 13. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) #BoycottArianaGrande. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Pierre-Paul/privacy and Donald Trump/golf polls, Heat sign Stoudemire, Dolphins fans low-rated, Jose stays perfect, Luol Deng's special video & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"LeBron James, featured in the new movie, Trainwreck, hosted a private VIP screening. Based on the title, I assume it's about the Cavaliers’ collapse in the recent NBA Finals?" --Greg Cote

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS ON TANNEHILL IN AFC EAST CONTEXT: Peter King's respected Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) website has a new ranking of all 32 projected NFL starting quarterbacks by writer Andy 1aa1adolqbBenoit and it offers good news and bad news for Miami's Ryan Tannehill 1aa1adol15(pictured) both overall and also in the context of the AFC East. His ranking of No. 15 could be seen as good or bad. That's mid-pack overall, but the synopsis of Tannehill reads, "An underappreciated athlete and good pure passer who has progressed every year in his career." He's clearly on the ascent, and outranks the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton and Jay Cutler. More good news: Two division-rival starters are at dregs-level: Jets' Geno Smith at 27th and Bills' Matt Cassel at a dead-last 32nd. The bad news? Guess who's No. 1? Good guess. Patriots' Tom Brady. Click here for the full rankings.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature 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: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. BASEBALL: All-Star Game, Home Run Derby on deck: The 86th All-Star Game is Tuesday in Cincinnati, with no Marlins playing thanks to Giancarlo Stanton and now Dee Gordon both being injured. The Home Run Derby is tonight, though diminished without Stanton and Bryce Harper. The danger in Cincy hosting? Pete Rose runs onto field past security and demands an at-bat.

2. HEAT: Miami adds Stoudemire and Green, shines in summer ball: Another strong week for the Heat as Miami signed veteran forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire and three-point specialist Gerald Green (both cheap) and the Heat’s youth squad finished 5-0 in the Orlando Summer League. Pat Riley hasn’t had a better summer since 2010.

3. MARLINS: Gordon injured, Fish fuming over ASG replacement snub: Jose Fernandez improved to 2-0 since his return from Tommy John surgery (and 14-0 all-time at home) but team slogged into All-Star break with third-worst record in MLB despite two nice wins in a row. Now there is speculation Mat Latos, Dan Haren and others may be traded before July 31 deadline. Oh, and Dee Gordon's injury leaves Miami 0-for-2 on All-Stars who'll actually play, after Gordon was replaced by Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, not Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria. That's a bit too literal on "adding insult to injury."

4. TENNIS: Serena wins fourth straight major, Djokovic tops Wimbledon men: Wimbledon wrapped yesterday with Novak Djokovic beating Roger Federer in a heavyweight men's final. Saturday, Serena Williams completed the “Serena Slam” by winning her fourth major in a row. She beat Garbine Muguruza, who evidently is a rising young Venezuelan even though Greg Cote had never heard of her.

5. SOCCER: America still celebrating women’s World Cup win: The symbolic culmination of last week’s third U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer championship and first since 1999 came Friday with a ticker-tape parade along New York’s “Canyon of Heroes.” There are so many great players on that champions’ roster. Hey, maybe they could loan a few to the U.S. men’s team!

6. FIREWORKS: Two NFL players lose fingers in mishaps: Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (one) and Bucs CB C.J. Wilson (two) lost fingers in Fourth of July fireworks mishaps. It's relentless. NFL players -- along with FSU players and athletes in general -- keep providing lessons in how not to behave.

7. DONALD TRUMP: PGA Tour mulling Trump controversy: The PGA Tour and other golf entities weigh whether to divest from Trump-owned courses (such as Doral) over his comments disparaging Mexican immigrants. One possible solution: Trump avoids that by buying the entire sport of golf.
 
8. DOLPHINS: Miami fans slammed in new study: 

A study by Atlanta’s Emory University ranked Dolphins fans 32nd — dead last in the NFL — in a “fan-equity ranking” measuring willingness to financially support their team. Um, you don't need a college degree (or study) to know that 30 years between Super Bowl appearances can do that.

 

 

9. UM FOOTBALL: Adidas plans uniform unveiling: A

didas plans a lavish VIP party this coming Saturday at trendy Club Liv to unveil the Hurricanes’ new football uniforms. I wish I were kidding. Remember when you didn’t know — or care — who made your team’s uniforms? And that when you said your team “looked good” you meant winning, not sartorial splendor?
 
10. GOLF: British Open to miss its defending champion: It starts in three 

days at St. Andrews in Scotland, but without defending champ Rory McIlroy, who hurt his ankle playing pickup soccer. Meanwhile Tiger Woods tries (again) for his first major win since 2008. Headline: 'Old Tiger seeks old form on The Old Course.'

 

Missing the HB10 cut: DeAndre Jordan jilts Mavericks, stays with Clippers. Carnival's Cuba cruises and impact on Micky Arison. Michael Irvin Jr. commits to Canes. NHL Panthers seeks arena lease relief from Broward County. ESPN won't re-sign Keith Olbermann. U.S. men's soccer in Gold Cup. (Who knew we had a men's team, too!?) And the Tour de France enters its final week. First cyclist to pass both the finish line and a doping test wins.

Poll result: Mixed feelings but mostly support for Trump: We asked if the PGA Tour should disassociate itself from Donald Trump-owned courses because of his disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants and it was 56.2 percent no and 41.4% yes, with 2.4% undecided.

Poll result: Blame targets hospital in Jason Pierre-Paul matter: We asked who was to blame for the Giants defensive end's medical records being leaked after his fireworks accident and 54.4 percent blamed both Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital (for leaking) and ESPN's Adam Schefter (for disseminating). But 28.8% mostly blamed Jackson vs. only 8.9% who mostly blamed Schefter. The other 8.0% blamed no one.

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June 29, 2015

Wade opts out as expected, Winslow will be Heat's biggest draft star since 2003.The new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 29. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton injured, Heat-draft-Justise Winslow poll, Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers draft & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

WADE OPTS OUT: Heat star Dwyane Wade will opt out of the final year of his Miami contract and become a free agent, ESPN reports this afternoon in this story. The move is fully expected and had been anticipated for weeks. It does not mean that Wade and the Heat won't continue as partners. It does mean that the sides must come to terms on a new contract of that is to happen, with negotiations set to begin on Wednesday.  

The new column: Setting the bar sky-high for Justise Winslow: Click on No Ceiling, No Doubts for my latest column, on Heat top draft pick Justise Winslow, online now and shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions. Elsewhere in Heatville, in addition to Wade opting out, Luol Deng announcing today he is opting-in and staying with Heat, perhaps a mild surprise because there were media reports suggesting otherwise. Also, team announcing it won't pick up option on Michael Beasley -- no surprise at all.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) 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:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami drafts Duke's Winslow, confronts Wade uncertainty: Heat hit big and fans were delighted Thursday night as team got Duke swingman Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft. I won big, too, after investing, on a hunch, in lame media references such a "Justise Is Served" and "League of Justise." Now Heat fans turn from delighted to wringing-hands anxious as Dwyane Wade prepares to opt out and become a free agent by tonight's midnight deadline, his future in Miami uncertain as contract negotiations begin Wednesday.

2. MARLINS: Stanton injured, Fernandez's return to mound on deck: MLB home-run leader Giancarlo Stanton is sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist, likely for four to six weeks, adding injury to the insult of a disappointing season for Miami that has included nine losses in past 11 games. Now speculation swirls that Miami may be sellers, not buyers, before the trade deadline. I’d say there isn't much more reason to watch, except at least Jose Fernandez’s long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery is set for this Thursday, here, vs. the Giants.

3. PANTHERS: Cats host NHL Draft, target goal-scoring help: Big week for the Panthers. Florida hosted the NHL Draft in Sunrise and took 6-4 winger Lawson Crouse 11th overall after earlier celebrating Aaron Ekblad’s NHL rookie of the year honor. But stop reading here if you believe in bad omens: After Florida hosted the draft for the first time in 2001, it missed the playoffs the next nine seasons.

4. SOCCER: U.S. faces Germany in Women's World Cup semfinals: The Americans beat China 1-0 on Friday to advance to the semifinals against Germany on Tuesday in a meeting of WWC co-favorites. American soccer fans would be thrilled (and surprised) if the U.S. men got this far, but it’s championship-or-bust for the women’s team.

5. TENNIS: As Wimbledon begins, can anybody stop Serena Williams?: The fortnight at Wimbledon starts today/Monday (cue strawberries-and-cream references) with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams the favorites, as usual. Serena goes for her fourth consecutive major. Injury might stop Serena. Sometimes disinterest has. Other women players? Not so much.  

6. DOLPHINS: Fins win offseason, now off until training camp: In late July, the preseason will start with Dolphins training camp. For now, thanks to signing Ndamukong Suh and extending Ryan Tannehill’s contract, I declare Miami to be NFL Offseason Champion! No rings for that. No parade. The reward is the heavier expectations you lug into August.

7. DEFLATEGATE: NFL hears Tom Brady's appeal of suspension: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Patriots quarterback for four games based on the result of an independent investigation paid for by Goodell's league. So who hears and will rule on Brady's appeal? Goodell! Hmm.

8. PETE ROSE: Latest revelation ends last Cooperstown hopes: Then again, is it really shocking that Pete Rose, who previously admitted to betting on his team as a manager, also is now determined to have bet on his team as a player, too? 

9. CONFEDERATE FLAG: When politics and social issues seep into sports: The growing move to abolish the Confederate flag in the wake of the South Carolina church shootings has seeped into sports, such as NASCAR chairman Brian France saying his sport will be "aggressive" in disassociating the symbol from its events. Aside to Confederate flag supporters: The Civil War was in the 1860s. Might be time to move on.

10. NUDE ATHLETES: Roster announced for ESPN mag's 'Body' issue: ESPN The Magazine announced the 24 sports figures who are to appear nude (though artfully covered) in its latest “Body” issue due out July 6, and they include Bryce Harper, Kevin Love and Dan LeBatard. OK, I made up that last one.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross teams with Qatari investors in bid to buy Formula One racing circuit. And Sean "Diddy" Combs arrested for allegedly swinging kettlebell during confrontation with a UCLA assistant coach who supposedly mistreated Combs’ son.

Poll result: Overwhelming thumbs-up for Heat drafting Justise Winslow: We asked your initial reaction to Miami selecting Duke's Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft and 86.0 percent answered "very favorable" and another 8.7% "somewhat favorable. A negligible few answered either very (2.8%) or somewhat (2.5%) unfavorable. 

Poll result: Solid support for keeping Dwyane Wade: We asked you to describe how much you want the Heat to re-sign Dwyane Wade and more than 80 percent answered either "a lot" (48.3%) or "the max" (32.6%). Fewer than 20 percent answered either "a little" (11.1%) or "none" (8.0%).

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