April 26, 2017

Dolphins pre-draft poll: Which of these 7 possible 1st-round Miami selections would please you most? Last day to vote!; plus new Marlins-sale column, Pat Riley/Dion Waiters, updated NHL forecast, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, April 26. It's NFL Draft Week! WOOO! 2) Wright Thompson has an excellent piece on Pat Riley in the new ESPNTheMag. Read it here. Also there's a braggadocious Players Tribune piece penned by Heat's Dion Waiters. Find it here. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: On Bush/Jeter agreement to buy Marlins: A cloud lifted over Miami and the Marlins with Tuesday's reports that Jeffrey Loria had reached an agreement to sell the Fish for $1.3 billion to the Je Bush/Derek Jeter group. Click on Home Run For Miami to read my latest column. 

ICYMI, our Sunday column on Jose Fernandez statue controversy: Many are against the Marlins building a statue to honor Fernandez since toxicology reports indicated he was impaired in the boat crash that killed himself and two others. I too am uneasy over the idea, and yet I see the potential for a greater good because the statue will be a constant reminder not only of his life, but of how it ended. Click on The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose to read.

DOLPHINS PRE-DRAFT POLL: WHICH OF SEVEN POSSIBLE MIAMI FIRST-ROUND PICKS AT 22ND OVERALL WOULD PLEASE YOU MOST?: My 26th annual official Miami Herald mock draft Dolclockcomes Dolphinsout very soon. I don't want to tip my hand (quite yet) on how the first round will play out for the Dolphins Thursday night (even though I have an idea). Instead, I invite you to have your say first. The seven players in this poll are not arbitrary. They are players who met both of two criteria: 1) They are at one of Miami's top-five position needs -- linebacker, guard, cornerback, safety or defensive tackle. 2) They are within range of the 22nd pick by being within five in either direction, 17th to 27th, according to the mock drafts of either Mel Kiper or Todd McShay of ESPN. In other words, these are guys who both should interest Miami in terms of need and who also could be available. I was tempted to add one more -- Canes tight end David Njoku -- but did not. I think he'll be gone, it isn't a dire position need, plus I didn't want a UM guy in there disproportionately glomming votes. I also do not include a "somebody else" category because I want to reel the vote in to what's most realistic. Photo at right: Dolphins on the clock. GET IT!?! Now take a dip in our poll, vote and check back often to watch a consensus magically form. It don't cost nuthin'.

NHL ROUND OF EIGHT FORECAST: The four NHL conference semifinal series begin Wednesday, and based on predictions by ESPN's 11-person hockey experts panel, we might expect three pretty clear-cut matchups and a tossup. The forecast is Rangers over Senators by a 10-1 margin, and a pair of 8-3 margins for Ducks over Oilers and Predators over Blues. The big one figures as Washington-Pittsburgh, with Capitals over Penguins by only a 6-5 experts margin. However betting odds via Bovada disagree on two of the series. Bovada has Anaheim-Edmonton even going in, and St. Louis a narrow pick over Nashville.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 4-26-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.: After Tuesday rainout, Fish 'n Phils play first of two.

2. NBA playoffs, 6 p.m.: Two 1st-round Game 5s, with WAS-ATL, CHI-BOS both tied 2-2.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: St. Louis, Anaheim host as conference semifinals begin with two Game 1s.

4. N.Y. Yankees at Boston, 7 p.m.: Baseball's best rivalry renews at Fenway.

5. FIU at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: After 8-7 win Tuesday, UM baseball hosts city rival.

Select other recent columns: Everyone's Shouting Defense, But..., on Dolphins and first round. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 13, 2017

Was this Heat season a success? New poll. Vote now!; plus Luddite's Heat season MVP revealed, Heat miss playoffs, NBA title odds, Landry's big boast, McShay's 3-round Dolphins mock, Marlins' start, Back In My Day video, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, April 14. Click on Express Lanes for my latest Back In My Day video rant from this week's LeBatard Show. 2) Know any Dolfans? Why not buy each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins' Opening Night win sandwiched around Heat's biggest games of season, keepin' it Brockmire & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My new column: 'Melo or Hayward for Heat?: Carmelo Anthony (via trade) or Gordon Hayward (in free agency) might be interesting options as the Heat approach the summer. Click on Heat Must Seek Next Level for my latest column.

POLL: WAS THIS HEAT SEASON A SUCCESS?: Weird Miami Heat season to judge, right? BY this franchise's standards, an even .500 record of 41-41 and no playoffs (barely) would not normally constitute success. And yet that record after an 11-30 first half of the season is something close to a sporting miracle, an astounding turnaround. So, in the simplest terms, how would you judge this Heat season. Take a dip in our poll and vote now:

HwhitesideCHAMPION REVEALED! HASSAN WHITESIDE REIGNS IN THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP FINAL 2016-17 STANDINGS: Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we went old-school, stripped it down, combined the Original Big Three statistical categories, and this season offered a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP --and Hassan Whiteside reigns as champion ahead of Goran Dragic in a (fairly) close race. We brought you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami finished at 41-41 after last night's season-ending home win over Washington, here is The Luddite's 16th and final installment.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Final Standings:

1. Hassan Whiteside           2,458

2. Goran Dragic                 2,186

3. James Johnson              1,628

4. Tyler Johnson                1,529

5. Dion Waiters                 1,077

Second five: Rodney McGruder 876; Wayne Ellington 851; 8. Josh Richardson 845; Willie Reed 733; and Luke Babbitt 500.

Others: Justise Winslow 355; Derrick Williams 234; Josh McRoberts 232; Okaro White 201; and Udonis Haslem 73.

WON AND DONE: HEAT NEEDED SMALL MIRACLE BUT DIDN'T GET ONE, WINNING BUT FALLING SHORT OF PLAYOFFS: [Update: Heat beat Washington 110-102 but narrowly miss playoffs because neither Chicago nor Indiana cooperated and lost. Click on Heat Fell Short But Did Not Fail for my column from the game] Original post: You know the drill by now entering this last day of the NBA regular season. The Miami Heat will make the playoffs only if they beat Washington at home tonight and if either Chicago (home vs. Brooklyn) or Indiana (home vs. Atlanta) loses, with each game starting at 8. Under the best of Spocircumstances, that would be unlikely. ESPN's Basketball Power Index playoff chances entering tonight puts the Bulls at 88.7 percent, Pacers at 83.7% and Heat at just 27.6%. The mighty BPI projects all three will win tonight, which would leave Miami 41-41 but losing a tiebreaker to Dwyane Wade (ouch) and Chicago for the 8th and final East playoff ticket. Plainly, the Heat must win and then get help tonight from either Brooklyn or Atlanta. The problem: 1) Brooklyn is awful even at full strength but announced it will sit out six players tonight including leading scorer Brook Lopez and starting guard Jeremy Lin. So Chicago will be playing a facsimile of an awful team, one that is all but conceding the game to the Bulls. 2) Atlanta secured the fifth seed last night so has zero to play for in the second game of a back-to-back at Indiana. So the Hawks will "rest" five players tonight including leading scorer Paul Millsap with the playoffs starting Saturday, offering little resistance to Indiana. In fairness, the Heat also are catching a break tonight because, with Washington already locked into the fourth seed, the Wizards tonight will "rest" three players including stars John Wall and Bradley Beal. (Just as the Heat also caught a big break Monday when the Cavs "rested" LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Miami). In any case, in a Tweet last night, Heat owner Micky Arison already seemed resigned to putting a positive spin on narrowly missing the playoffs, writing: "#HEATNation forget what other teams are doing ... Let's make [Wednesday] amazing. Win & 30 & 11 for the second half. So proud of this team!" Pictured right: A focused Heat coach Erik Spoelstra tries to mentally will a playoff spot.

NBA title odds: Via sportsbettingdime.com, Warriors a strong NBA championship favorite at 6-5, with Cavaliers 4-1 and Spurs 9-1. Russell Westbrook is even/odds for league MVP, with James Harden close at 3-2. (Bovada has Warriors a prohibitive 5-8 fave, with Cavs 10-3 and Spurs 6-1).

LandryON JARVIS LANDRY'S BIG BOAST: Dolphins star receiver Jarvis Landry, in London this week as part of an NFL promotional tour, predicted Miami would sweep the New England Patriots this season, meaning winning both games. "If you're a competitor, that's the way you should feel, and I don't mind saying it," Landry elaborated. "It's time for a change. I have all the respect in the world for the Patriots, and I respect Tom Brady tremendously. But they're not our big brother anymore." The Dolphins last swept the Pats in 2000, so, um, they sort of are Big Brother until which time the Fins prove -- with actions, not words -- that they are not. Landry credits a reboot on the Dolphins' mindset under second-year coach Adam Gase, saying, "He's flipped the switch with us. New England's won the division 14 of the last 16 years, something like that? It's ridiculous. It's a problem. We cannot let that happen anymore. What I've seen is, when we play that game, sometimes we focus on the guys on the other side of the line instead of just focusing on us. And I want to be part of that change. I want to go into the games against New England expecting to win — that's something we need to do." My take: Good for Landry. Sometimes you need to broadcast your confidence aloud to stamp it as real. And Landry, with 288 catches and two Pro Bowls in three seasons, has earned the right to be vocal and occupy a leadership role. A little bravado looks good on the Miami Dolphins. Now let's see how it fits.

McShay's 3-round Mock picks for Fins, Canes: ESPN's Todd McShay vomited his three-round NFL Mock Draft this week, and has these picks for Dolphins: 1st round (22nd overall)--Ohio State CB Gareon Conley; 2nd (54th)--Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham; 3rd (97th)--San Diego State guard Nico Siragusa. Conley would be a logical, solid pick. I mentioned him prominently in my recent Sunday column; click Dolphins Draft Wish List to read. McShay's other two picks for Dolphins also make some sense, position-wise. He has Hurricanes TE David Njoku going 13th overall (a tad high)to Arizona -- and no other UMers in the first three rounds. So I say it for only the 100th time: Ya shoulda stayed, Brad Kaaya! 

OzunaON MARLINS' START: Nine games (six on the road) and a 4-5 record is a very small sample size, but early signs for the Marlins are somewhat encouraging. The lineup will be above-average in run production, led by an outfield trio (Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna) that could be as good as any in baseball. Ozuna (pictured), supposedly the least of the three, is batting .389 with four homers and MLB-leading 16 RBIs. Health is a big key, though, as thin depth looms as Miami's biggest concern. Pitching also has the potential to be solid, starters to bullpen. The rotation of Edinson Volquez, Dan Straily, Tom Koehler, Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley is star-less but could be effective. Chen shows early signs of being the guy Miami thought it was getting, not last year's mess. Conley can be a star. If Straily proves as good as he was last year for the Reds, this could be a solid rotation. The problem? I do not think the Marlins are as good as the Nationals or Mets from their own division. But if Miami can take advantage of the lousy Braves and Phillies, Fish have the potential to be an 85-win team that hangs in the playoff chase. At least that's what it says here. In mid-April.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 4-14-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7 p.m.: NL East rivals play second of four-game series.

2. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: First-round series continue with four Game 2s.

3. Hurricanes at Pitt, 2 p.m.: Win-needy UM baseball plays ACC doubleheader.

Select other recent columns: Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off Wednesday's season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityLoria: The End Of An Error and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 11, 2017

Marlins win Opening Night game 8-4 sandwiched around Heat's 2 biggest games of season. What a week!; plus Radio Tuesday, keepin' it Brockmire, Hot Button Daily (Tue) & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, April 11. Interesting piece here by Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan on the Marlins' financial status and how that could affect the interest of Derek Jeter and other potential buyers. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy each of them our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron at Heat in mad playoff fight, Hot Button Top 10, Panthers promote Tallon & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my regular Tuesday co-host gig on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and with the national show also televised on ESPNU or ESPN2.

Stanley Cup betting odds: NHL championship odds via Bovada show Chicago (4-1) and Washington (9-2) as near-even favorites, followed by Minnesota and Pittsburgh both at 8-1 and Columbus at 10-1.

HeatmarlinsMARLINS OPENING NIGHT, 2 BIGGEST HEAT GAMES OF SEASON MAKE IT A WILD WEEK IN MIAMI: [Update: Marlins clubbed the Braves tonight 8-4 behind Mracell Ozuna's two home runs and six RBIs and a heroic gray cat that got stuck in the Home Run Sculpture] Original post: Tonight the Marlins play the Braves in Miami's 25th home opener. Normally that would be the week's marquee event as the Fish are coming off a decent 3-3 road trip to start the season and tonight are honoring the anniversary of their 1997 championship team. But the Heat! The amazing, don't quit Heat kept their season and playoff hopes alive last night with an exhilarating 124-121 overtime home win over Cleveland  season (click on Miracle Season a Joy to Behold to read my column from the arena), and that earned Miami the right to still be in playoff contention entering the final game of the season here Wednesday. Now, it's simple. To be in the playoffs, the Heat must beat Washington Wednesday and hope either Indiana or Chicago lose. It's very possible that will happen. Heat are 3-0 vs. Wizards for some reason, and Washington doesn't need the game. And Pacers have a potentially tough finale. Details below:

7. Indiana Pacers 41-40: vs. Atlanta .525 Wednesday.

8. Chicago Bulls 40-41: vs. Brooklyn .247 Wednesday.

9. Miami Heat 40-41: vs. Washington .605 Wednesday.

Heat lose tiebreaker to Bulls but win tiebreaker over Pacers.

BrockmireKEEPIN' IT BROCKMIRE: I am loving the new IFC dark sitcom, Brockmire, about a disgraced, scandalized major-league play by play man trying to revive his career 10 years later in the lower minor leagues. Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet have terrific chemistry, the scripts are sharply written and the premise is plausible and intriguing. There also is an absurdity to it that is wonderful. And Azaria's Jim Brockmire is a wonderfully drawn character perfectly played. Highly recommended television.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 4-11-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Atlanta at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Play ball! Opening Night as Fish play first home game of 25th season.

2. UEFA Champions League, 2:45 p.m.: Barcelona-Juventus, Borussia Dortmund-AS Monaco in quarters.

3. Florida at Florida State, 6 p.m.: Ranked rivals play some baseball in Tally.

Select other recent columns: Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityLoria: The End Of An Error and Thank You, Edwin Pope.
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 08, 2017

Marlins next-owner poll: Jeter? Jeb? Someone else? 5 candidates. Last day to vote!; plus Heat playoff odds tumble (updated), your verdict on Romo, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Legolandbeachretreat1) It is SATURDAY, April 8. Interesting story here on how Vegas sportsbooks are split on whether to refund bets on Dustin Johnson after his (very) late withdrawal from The Masters. 2) LegoLand Florida's Beach Retreat adjunct (pictured) opened Friday in Winter Haven. How delightfully weird! 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jeter/Bush among Marlins bidders, playoff odds swing against Heat, '18 NCAA title odds, Romo to CBS with poll, your Marlins expectations verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"LaVar Ball, briefly out of the spotlight, sought it again this week by blaming his son's UCLA team's ouster from NCAA Tournament on teammates he referred to as 'three white guys.' Not to repeat myself, but: You, sir, are an idiot." --Greg Cote

Marlinslogo ForsalePOLL: NAME YOUR FAVORITE POTENTIAL NEW MARLINS OWNERSHIP GROUP: I have a new column out touting Derek Jeter to replace (supposedly) departing Jeffrey Loria as Miami Marlins owner. Click on Because Jeter Is Everything Loria Is Not to read that column. Now it's your turn. Select your preferred next Marlins owner from among the currently identified plausible options. Vote now:

UPDATED: HEAT PLAYOFFS ODDS TUMBLE: Miami remains the 9th seed but is now one full game off playoff pace behind Chicago and Indiana after last night's hurtful loss in Toronto. 9thWith it, ESPN's Basketball Power Index playoff odds now give Miami only a 39.3 percent shot, down from 52.5 percent%. The Bulls' likelihood is now put at 94.7% and the Pacers' at 75.0%. The Heat's ace in the hole and best hope? A tiebreaker edge over Indiana, which would end up securing that 8th seed if their final records are tied. Closing schedules, though, still clearly favor CHI/IND and grow skepticism on Miami's playoff chances:

Chicago Bulls 39-40: @ Brooklyn .241 tonight; vs. Orlando .354 and vs. Brooklyn .241.

Indiana Pacers 39-40: @ Orlando .354 tonight; @ Philadelphia .354 and vs. Atlanta .519.

Miami Heat 38-41: @ Washington .608 tonight; vs. Cleveland .646 and vs. Washington .608.

Poll result: Romo a Hall of Famer? Oh hell no!: We asked if QB-turned-CBS analyst Tony Romo had a Hall of Fame-worthy NFL career, and it was 79.3 percent no and only 11.6% yes. The other 9.1% were undecided.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 4-8-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Washington, 7 p.m.: Miami, in final road game, still fighting to sneak in playoffs.

2. Buffalo at Panthers, 7 p.m.: Home finale for Cats' hugely disappointing season.

3. The Masters, 3 p.m. (TV): Third round of year's first golf major.

4. Marlins at N.Y. Mets, 7:10 p.m.: Fifth of six-game season opening road trip for Fish.

5. Duke at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball opens three-game ACC series.

Select other recent columns: Federer and Nadal Deliver, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 23, 2017

Kiper lights Lamp for Dolphins in latest Mock Draft; plus "Let's gooooo States!" Team USA reigns, Yelich honored; also, Miami Open tennis, weird Lavar Ball, Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Sweet 16 title odds, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, March 23. Thank you again, Cote's Coterie, for carrying me to the Final Four, and congratulations Amber Wilson, for winning the Slice Miami media bracket title! 2) Hurricanes men lose NCAA opener to Michigan State, then Canes women drop home game in second-round upset loss to Quinnipiac. What a hugely disappointing March Madness run (more like a stumble) for UM hoops. 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your Jose Fernandez verdict shows shaky support, R.I.P. Chuck Berry, Cote makes final four, my bracket update & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest columns: Miami Open tennis, weird LaVar Ball: The event is missing major stars due to injuries like Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray as it begins on Key Biscayne, yet hope grows as the folks who run the tournament dig in determined to keep the event at Crandon Park Tennis Center long-term despite legal setbacks. Click on Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten for this week's column. Then click Method to the Madness? for my latest column, exploring the bizarre attention-getting braggadocio of LaVar Ball, father of UCLA star Lonzo Ball.

LampKIPER'S MOCK DRAFT 3.0 OFFERS DOLPHINS SURPRISE: Mel Kiper Jr. rolls out his Mock Draft 3.0 for ESPN today and it has the Dolphins taking Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp 22nd overall. Junior writes: "Laremy Tunsil's expected move to left tackle leaves an opening at guard, and Lamp is the best guard in the draft. He could also move over to right tackle or slide in to center, and his versatility is a plus. Though Lamp (6-4, 309) played in Conference USA, he has the traits to step in and play immediately next season. Miami could also be in play for a linebacker, even with Kiko Alonso locked into a new deal. Florida's Jarrad Davis makes some sense." Lamp (pictured) is plausible for Miami, but I'd not bet on it. Defense still likelier for Fins' top pick. By the way, Kiper has Canes tight end David Njoku going 20th overall to Denver. Oh, and still no Brad Kaaya in first round, which by now should go without saying.

Teamusa"LET'S GOOOOO STATES!" TEAM USA WINS FIRST WBC TITLE!: Update U.S. routs Puerto Rico, 8-0, last night to win first WBC crown. Marlin Christian Yelich named to All-Tournament team. Original post: I'll be riveted to MLB Network tonight at 9 as Team USA takes on Puerto Rico in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium. This is only the fourth WBC, but U.S. has never before won, or even reached the title game. Must be the old magic of curmudgeonly Jim Leyland, who always looks like the should be smoking a cigarette and carrying a glass of Scotch as he makes a mound visit. With apologies to my Puerto Rican friends, I am not neutral on this game. I set aside my Objective Journalist card in favor of my Citizen's Card. I'm an American rooting for my home team. On my count ... 1 - 2 - 3 ... "Let's gooooo States!"

THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (70 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 34-36 after Sunday's home loss to Portland, here's The Luddite's 14th installment, with 65-game rank in parentheses.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (70 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      2,056

2. Goran Dragic (2)             1,838

3. James Johnson (3)          1,326

4. Tyler Johnson (4)            1,290

5. Dion Waiters (5)              1,077

6. Wayne Ellington (7)          733 

7. Rodney McGruder (6)       722

8. Josh Richardson (8)         622

9. Willie Reed (9)                601

10. Luke Babbitt (10)          452

Others: Justise Winslow 355, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 157, Udonis Haslem 72.

LATEST SWEET 16 TITLE ODDS: New from Bovada, betting odds on the last 16 men's teams winning the NCAA Tournament entering today's S16 action:  19-4--Kansas; 5-1--North Carolina; 13-2--Arizona and Gonzaga; 9-1--UCLA; 10-1--Kentucky; 12-1--Florida; 16-1--Baylor and Michigan; 18-1--Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin; 20-1--Purdue; 40-1--Butler; 50-1--South Carolina; and 75-1--Xavier.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 3-23-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA Tournament, 7 p.m.: Madness resumes with first four round of Sweet 16 men's games.

2. Toronto at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami, 8th seed in hand, tries (again) to climb to .500.

3. Arizona at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats winding down a very disappointing season.

4. Miami Open tennis, 11 a.m.: Early-round play continues with smattering of seeded players.

5. Marlins vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m.: Spring game in Jupiter.

Select recent columns: Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, the latest, previewing this year's tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on developments in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 08, 2017

My new autobiographical song, "The Ballad Of 1440," is out. Watch video here!; plus The Dead We Forgot (a Ghost Tour addendum), revealing Canes basketball, Marlins betting odds, Jimmy Buffett's old-folks home, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, March 8. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your NFL Scouting Combine verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Marlins, NL East odds: This is further indication, new via Bovada, that Miami is seen as mid-pack in its division. Odds of winning the NL East this season: Nationals 5-7, Mets 8-5, Marlins 12-1, Braves 16-1 and Phillies 20-1.

My latest column: Now we see how good Canes basketball really is: The Miami Hurricanes' men's and women's basketball teams are having good seasons. But how good are they? How close to special? March knows, and tells all. Click on Now We Find Out About UM Hoops to read my latest column.

THIS IS 'THE BALLAD OF 1440': Been telling you for awhile we had an autobiographical song coming out. Well, we posted "The Ballad Of 1440" on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube late last night, and now here's the video in my blog. It's personal and it's serious, with opening and closing credits and boyhood photos interspersed. The reaction has been good. I hope you enjoy it:

THE DEAD WE FORGOT: AN ADDENDUM TO OUR 'GHOST TOUR' COLUMN: We got an unusually great reaction to our recent A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past column. Nostalgia is good. ManateesPeople love to reminisce. But dozens of e-mailers pointed out a few defunct Miami sports teams I hadn't mentioned. My meandering was never meant to be an A-to-Z, comprehensive list. Nevertheless, you took the time to write me, so I'm taking he time to pass along what you said. So: A toast, please... To the Miami Manatees, a still-born Canadian Football League team proposed to begin play at the Orange Bowl in 1996, until the CFL suspended its foray into U.S. markets that spring. To the Gold Coast Suns, managed by Earl Weaver and a charter member of the Miami-based Senior Professional Baseball League, which played a 1989-90 season and then folded midway through season two. To the Miami Tropics, which played in 1987-88 and 1991-93 in the USBL (United States Basketball League), and won championship in 1987 and '92-93. To the Miami Sun Sox, which won 1950 and '52 championships in baseball's Florida International League, and to the Miami Beach Flamingos of that league. And last but least (!), to the Miami Caliente, who undied their way through the 2009-10 season in the women's Lingerie Football League.

BuffettJIMMY BUFFETT'S OLD FOLKS' HOME: I saw this headline, laughed out loud, and it made perfect sense. "Jimmy Buffett to Open Margaritaville Retirement Communities." Of course he is. (Here for more). It's for people "55 and better," and the first oldies enclave is set to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. It is geared to his aging demographic of fans -- Parrotheads. In other words, everyone in the place will be wearing Hawaiiian shirts and flying Salt Life stickers. Give Jimmy credit. Under the laid-back facade is a land shark who knows how to make money.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 3-8-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Hurricanes vs. Syracuse, noon: UM men make ACC Tournament debut in Brooklyn.

2. Charlotte at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Hot Miami still is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace.

3. Hurricanes at FIU, 7 p.m.: Bad-starting baseball Canes (now 4-7) are close to desperate.

4. FAU vs. Marshall, 8 p.m.: Owls debut in men's CUSA Tournament (FIU did not qualify).

Select other recent columns: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: Amar'e Joins the Shame ClubNFL's Arrested DevelopmentThe Wonder of Coach LIt's What's Great About SportsThe Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! Loria: The End Of An ErrorThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2017

Dolphins' Taylor elected to Hall of Fame! How I did on my Canton predictions; plus latest and Super Bowl With a Smirk, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, February 4. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Me and Dwyane Wade and Twitter and wine, the fourth Super Bowl With a Smirk, our Falcons-Patriots SB prediction & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

BREAKING: Jason Taylor voted into Canton: Ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Also elected" LaDanian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, Morten Andersen, Jerry Jones and Kenny Easley. That's seven in all. How's I do on my predictions? (See below). Six of the guys I had with a 50 percent chance or better got in. I thought John Lynch and Terrell Owens would, but they didn't. I thought Andersen wouldn't make it, but he did. Overall, not too bad on my guesswork. My original post is below:

CantonCANTON CALLING: HANDICAPPING HALL OF FAME LIKELIHOOD FOR JASON TAYLOR, OTHER 17 FINALISTS: Pro Football Hall Fame does the Big Reveal tonight at 8 on Fox, and what's intriguing is that only RB LaDainian Tomlinson is an absolute, you'd-bet-your-life lock to get in. There is big, wide debate on whether the Dolphins' contender, DE Jason Taylor, is likely to make it or has no real shot. I rank the 15 finalists and three senior/contributor nominees by likelihood of induction, with my betting odds on each:

DEAD-CERTAIN LOCK:

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (99% percent likely / 1-100 odds): Bet the house, the car and your entire family.

LIKELY:

QB Kurt Warner (75% / 1-2): God's will?

S Kenny Easley (70% / 1-2): Just watch. At least one Senior nominee has gotten in every year since 1997.

MAYBE:

S John Lynch (65% / 2-3): State of the art

Owner Jerry Jones (60% / 1-1): And Jimmy Johnson didn't make it to finalist round. Ouch. 

RB Terrell Davis (60% / 1-1): Fairly short career could hurt.

OT Joe Jacoby (60% / 1-1): Boss Hog.

WR Terrell Owens (60% / 1-1): Controversial. Media didn't like him. So what!

JtDE Jason Taylor (50% / 5-4): Most experts call him a longshot in first year of eligibility, but he's sixth all-time in sacks, returned more fumbles for TDs than anybody, won a Defensive Player of the Year award and is only pass rusher on the ballot, which helps. Don't be surprised if he gets in this time, or if he doesn't, but I absolutely think Taylor is a certain future Hall of Famer (eventually) and has a big chance right now time.

SLIM SHOT:

PK Morten Andersen (35% / 8-1): Punter Ray Guy remains only specialist/foot-man in Hall.

G Alan Faneca (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday.

OT Tony Boselli (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday II.

Coach Don Coryell (25% / 15-1): No Super Bowls, .572 win percentage. Meh.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (25% / 15-1): If he didn't get in immediately, probably never happen.

NEGLIGIBLE CHANCE:

WR Isaac Bruce (20% / 20-1): Big numbers, but Fort Lauderdale native and Dillard High alum spent much of pro career overshadowed on own team by Torry Holt.

C Kevin Mawae (15% / 25-1): Hall of Very Good. 

S Brian Dawkins (15% / 25-1): Hurts him that Lynch and Easley are both on ballot.

CB Ty Law (10% / 30-1): No ugly mustard-yellow jacket for you!

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK: BIDDING ADIEU FOR WEEK WITH AGRODOLCE, TAYLOR SWIFT, 22 COWS, 1.7 MILLION POUNDS OF CHICKEN WINGS AND ONE ORANGUTAN: Super Bowl With a Smirk bids farewell with our last of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game:

SmirkYou know Super Bowl Week is winding down and the game is finally near when the official parties kick in.

The 26th annual Taste of the NFL, a "Party With a Purpose" fundraiser, happens Saturday night at the University of Houston with dishes by chefs representing every league city.

Featured on the tony menu this year: Atlanta’s Roasted Quail, Parsnips, Onion Soubise and Cranberry Agrodolce vs. New England’s Cavatelli, Housemade Sausage, Butternut Squash and Shaved Truffle Butter.

AgrodolceObvious edge there to Atlanta. I mean, who doesn’t love soubise and agrodolce!?

In case you wondered, Miami, last in a Super Bowl 32 years ago, will be represented on the menu by Stone Crab Bisque and Rum-Glazed Bacon with a Glaze of Dolfan Tears.

Let’s hope there is no controversy at Saturday’s Taste of the NFL like there was last year, when the chef representing the Patriots was kicked out for intentionally deflating other chefs’ souffles.

(*) Maxim, Rolling Stone and Playboy will be among other major party hosts as a bevy of rented women and once-famous hip-hop stars make the rounds. Taylor Swift is hosting a "Super Saturday Night" party and can be expected to act all surprised to be there.

(*) Smirk culled through a stack of his exclusive A-list invites to celebrity soirees and chose to attend a Super Bowl party being hosted by the estranged second cousin of Gloria Estefan’s former gardener.

(*) Hall of Fame voters met Friday in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room to decide which new inductees will be announced Saturday. LaDainian Tomlinson is the only absolute for Canton, but ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor has a good shot. Should we expect a Tweet from President Trump that the election was rigged?

Kmkey(*) Keegan-Michael Key (of Comedy Central’s "Key & Peele") hosts the NFL Honors awards show Saturday, with winners announced in 16 categories including league MVP — likely Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Could be a shutout for Dolphins, although Cam Wake has a shot at Comeback Player of the Year. Miami also is a finalist for the Kaepernick Cup for anthem kneeling.

(*) Fox, ESPN and NFL Network are girding for pregame shows that will last longer than the game itself. ESPN’s pregame will include a 13-minute segment on how Wilson footballs are made. No, seriously. What they might not tell you: all of the footballs to be used on Sunday required the hides of 22 cows, one of them a cherished doe-eyed Guernsey named Lulu.

(*) ESPN’s pregame also will feature a tribute to Chris Berman on his final major workday before the network shoves him unceremoniously into awkward semi-retirement.

Chicken(*) The National Chicken Council says the estimated 1.3 billion chicken wings eaten on Sunday will weigh 1.7 million pounds or 300 times the combined weight of the 32 NFL teams, surprising analysts who were unaware there was a National Chicken Council.

(*) The annual NFL Foundation Super Bowl golf tournament was held Friday as dozens of former players drove the course loudly griping about their various ailments and lack of benefits.

(*) Acara, an orangutan at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, has predicted a Falcons victory.

(*) There was a brawl on Sad, Sad Radio Row at the SB Media Center on Friday when producers for rival Bangor, Maine, radio stations got into a kickfight over first dibs on Patriots backup long-snapper Tug McGillicutty.

Madea(*) Finally, our parting Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Why do what every other party in America is doing? As the Falcons and Patriots are lining up for the opening kickoff and the din of your guests reaches an excited pitch, abruptly switch the channel from the game to "A Madea Christmas" airing on BET.

Click Smirk I, Smirk II, Smirk III and Smirk IV for this week's previous Smirks.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-4-17: What events on the Saturday, Feb. 4 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Philadelphia at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami favored to bag its 10th straight win.

2. Hall of Fame announcement, 8 p.m.: Canton's big reveal could include Jason Taylor.

3. Hurricanes at North Carolina State, 3 p.m.: UM men, 3-5 since start of year, seek spark.

4. Kentucky at Florida, 8:15 p.m.: No. 8 Wildcat men a big test for No. 24 Gators.

5. Cleveland at New York, 8:30: Because LeBron James at Carmelo Anthony is still a show.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 01, 2017

If LeBron were any more thin-skinned we'd see his internal organs. New Barkley vs. James beef poll. Vote now!; plus latest Super Bowl With a Smirk, National Signing Day, blog debut of Hot Button Daily, new betting odds, latest Back In My Day video & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, February 1. Happy new month, all! 2) A new Miami Herald Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE to visit. 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk worldwide premiere, Super Bowl poll results, The List (Canes on top) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

The hate/love of National Signing Day: I really dislike the overblown hype and excess of the way Your Friend the Media covers National Signing Day as a bunch of 17-year-olds making a college decision are treated like gods. But! If you love NSD, Miami Herald Sports' new Facebook page will feed the junkie in you all day, right HERE. 

DEBUT OF NEW BLOG FEATURE! HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-1-17: What on the Wednesday, Feb. 1 sports calendar interests South Florida fans most:

1. National Signing Day, all day: Hurricanes, FIU, nation's colleges collect football bounty.

2. Atlanta at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Scorching Miami after its ninth consecutive victory.

3. Florida State at Hurricanes, 8 p.m.: Beating No. 15 FSU could lift UM men to Top 25.

4. Minnesota at Cleveland, 7 p.m.: Imagining LeBron's postgame should Cavs lose again.

5. Baylor at Kansas, 9 p.m.: Men's No. 2 at No. 3 brings Final Four feel to February.

LebbarkLEBRON-BARKLEY BEEF: IF LEBRON WERE ANY MORE THIN-SKINNED WE'D SEE HIS INTERNAL ORGANS: I find interesting and amusing this week's LeBron James-Charles Barkley beef. TNT analyst Barkley called LeBron "whiny," a pretty mild term that I found pretty justified, considering the Cavaliers are reigning champions and second-favorite to win again but here's James at midseason publicly calling out his team's management and his teammates. James, ever thin-skinned and on the lookout for perceived disrespect, called Barkley a "hater" and spewed a very personal attack-response, saying, "I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying." Oy! My take: Barkley has a right in his role as analyst to call James "whiny," and LeBron overreacted. What do you think? Take a dip in our poll.

NEW 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK': ADS AT $167,000 PER SECOND, FAN IN DJIBOUTI, BRADY'S TEARS, TUNA EYEBALLSSmirk returns with second of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game.

SmirkAgain this year, the Super Bowl television commercials have been voted even more popular than the game itself in an annual poll of the American Society of Advertisers.

In-game ads for this Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl will cost a record average of $5 million per half-minute spot, or roughly $167,000 per second.

Sunday’s ads will include has-been comic actor Jon Lovitz for Mexican avocados, a woman having a sexual fantasy about cartoon hottie Mr. Clean, an Intel ad with Tom Brady, and a Miami Herald commercial promoting Greg Cote’s blog. (OK I made up that last one).

Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad will tell the heartwarming story of immigrant founder Adolphus Busch’s 1857 journey from Germany to St. Louis, unless President Trump signs an executive order banning the ad.

Super Bowl ads used to be highly anticipated before companies put them out days in advance on social media. There still is a bit of unpredictability, other than the two annual iron-clad certainties:

Donkey1. There will be a sentimental ad revolving around a dog befriending a bedraggled donkey in a straw hat.

2. We’ll all hate the GoDaddy spot.

(*) NFL reports Falcons-Pats will be seen in 188 countries, Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and in more than 20 languages including Mandarin Chinese, Flemish and Hungarian. Right now, two bickering crones in Budapest stirring a pot of goulash are in agreement Falcons coach Dan Quinn may be “a feje folott” (in over his head).

(*) "What do they know of coaching!" cried a man in Djibouti.

(*) Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan briefly lost track of a backpack containing the team’s Sunday game plan. Cannot confirm witnesses said it had been taken by a scowling man wearing a gray hoodie.

(*) Still early, but Super Bowl Week has been too quiet and controversy-free. Can LeBron James and Charles Barkley both fly to Houston and start arguing please?

(*) Short of that, would some enterprising reporter at least please surreptitiously plant deer-antler spray on some linebacker?

7yrold(*) The question that nearly brought Tom Brady to tears talking about his father — "Who is your hero?" — was posed by a 7-year-old who won a contest to be a Super Bowl reporter. Great. Isn’t bad enough that newspapers are struggling. Now I have a second-grader after my job!

(*) Answer: Blonde/yellow is the betting favorite for the hair color of halftime performer Lady Gaga. Question: What do you mean there are too many ridiculous prop bets!?

(*) Notice how businesses refer to the "Big Game" in ads so they won’t get sued by the NFL? Smirk suggests "Stupor Bowl" or "Super Bore" instead.

(*) A team of Budweiser Clydesdales arrived in Houston Tuesday and were immediately signed to one-week contracts by Bill Belichick and trained to rush the passer.

(*) Only midweek, but already there are early indications the national media may be running out of story ideas. Trending: Experts in onomastics weigh in on the exact origin of Matt Ryan’s "Matty Ice" nickname.

(*) Wait. Smirk could swear he just saw Mercury Morris standing on an orange crate with a megaphone in downtown Houston loudly reminding passersby the ’72 Dolphins remain the only undefeated team.

Moose nose(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Want a few party foods sure to surprise and delight your guests? Eight words: Tuna eyeballs, crispy Cambodian tarantulas, jellied moose nose.

Click Smirk I for Tuesday's Smirk debut.

UPDATED BETTINGS ODDS FOR NBA, COLLEGE HOOPS, NHL: Not much good news here for SoFla teams in latest odds via Bovada. In the NBA: Warriors a strong title pick at 5-7 odds, followed by Cavaliers at 13-5, with Heat still off the board. James Harden is 10-11 for MVP, then Russell Westbrook close at 5-4. In men's college basketball: Kentucky is tops at 11-2 for the national title, then Gonzaga at 15-2. FSU is 20-1, Florida 50-1 and Miami 300-1. In the NHL, Capitals at 6-1 and Blackhawks at 7-1 top a very bunched field. Panthers are 21st at 50-1.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': From Tuesday's LeBatard Show:

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 04, 2016

Yes, Jose was Marlins' 2016 MVP. But who was second? New poll. Vote now!; Radio Tuesday, plus World Series odds, latest SOPY rankings, 'Fins At 50' book now available & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 3. See our previous blogpost for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They don't make numbers much higher as FSU Week begins for Miami. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at Georgia tech with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, state Collball Week 5, quartet of Jose columns & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Radio Tuesday!: We're on the LeBatard Show now on 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio.

World Series odds: Via Bovada today, Cubs a clear favorite at 12-5 odds, followed by Red Sox at 5-1, Rangers 6-1, Nationals 13-2 and Dodgers 15-2. Longer shots are the Indians at 9-1, Blue Jays 10-1, Mets 18-1 and Orioles and Giants both 22-1.

FINS AT 50: New book on sale now!: The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half century, Fins At 50, is now available, just in time for the holiday season. Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon.

MarlinsMARLINS' 2016 MVP: JOSE AND THEN...WHO?: The Marlins' 79-82 season was disappointing even before the tragic death of Jose Fernandez overshadowed everything. It was because, after being in the wild-card playoff hunt for so much of the season, Miami faded late. It was because it marked yet another injury-marred season for slugger Giancarlo Stanton. MVPIt was because, bottom line, the Fish still haven't had a winning season since 2009 in a playoff drought extending to '03. But there were positives, too, under first-year manager Don Mattingly, until Jose's death made them all seem meaningless. There were solid performances. In that spirit in this Marlins season MVP poll I present five finalists, alphabetically, with pertinent statistics listed. I ask that you vote for your top two (2) choices due to the extraordinary circumstances of Fernandez's death. In anticipation of an emotion-driven vote for Fernandez, who might very well have won anyway, I'm curious who comes out on top among the other finalists. So vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results:

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': NOLES' COOK EN FEUGO AS FSU WEEK ARRIVES: The fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds FSU running back SopyDalvin Cook continuing red-hot as the Seminoles prepare to visit Miami in Collball Week 6. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. UM's Mark Walton and Brad Kaaya rank 6-7 this week despite the Canes playing one fewer game than all the others. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. We close it off after the regular season to not penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 6, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 5:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk5        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                184          988.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          264          963

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 224          844.5

4      4      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       101          603.5

5      7      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         123          548

6      5      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      79           521 

7     10     Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       126.5       502.5

8     --      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    112         467

9     --      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      178.5      463.5

10    8      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                    68          454

Bubble: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 433. Other team leader: Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 351. Week 5 best: Cook, 264. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Miami (4-0); 2. Florida State (3-2); 3. Florida (4-1); 4. South Florida (4-1); 5. UCF (3-2); 6. FIU (1-4); 7. FAU (1-4).

OUR QUARTET OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ:

What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart last Sunday.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in team's first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The third, in midst of Wednesday's public events and outpouring.

With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose: The fourth and last, from Sunday, reflecting on a brutal week, but one that saw something so awful bring out something so wonderful in our community.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 4 Gems (our latest NFL picks). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (guess the headline says it all). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (and again the headline says it all).

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 10, 2016

Upset Bird Day in America! Our NFL Week 1 picks; plus Super Bowl poll. Vote now; also, FIU falls, study slams subsidies for sports facilities including Marlins Park, your verdict on biggest Heat acquisition & more

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

Wingicecream1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Pictured right, what stars in a Greg Cote sweet dream? Yes. Yes it is. It's Chicken Wing-flavored ice cream! 2) Marlins worth watching tonight: Jose Fernandez vs. Clayton Kershaw. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's biggest personnel move with poll, computer's gloomy prediction for Dolphins, debut of SOPY rankings, Arian Foster named starter, Canes crack Top 25, miserable Marlins & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FIU falls hard: The now 0-2 FIU Panthers hosted and lost to Maryland 41-14 last night. The Int'l was only one of seven state FBS teams to open with loss last week, and followed that by allowing 477 yards oif offense to Terps in a blowout loss.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our most recent, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

Heaviest-bet NFL team over/unders: Via Bovada: The heaviest-bet "overs" on win totals are Cardinals (84 percent on 9.5 wins), Patriots (79% on 10.5) and Panthers (72% on 10.5). Heaviest-bet "unders" are Eagles (82% on 7 wins), Colts (78% on 9.5) and Rams (74% on 7.5).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN MIAMI. WAIT. NO. IN AMERICA!:It has arrived -- our historic 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, today in the print edition and also online. A South Florida tradition that began in 1991 continues as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our 2016 Kickoff Weekend picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Seahawks, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week, Dog of the Week and every other matchup. Click on Week 1 Gems for all our picks and on Thursday Night Gem for tonight's pick. (We rolled to a big start last night, nailing Denver's upset of Carolina). We also have an accompanying NFL column with our division-by-division forecasts and projected won-lost records along with our Super Bowl pick. Click on Fearful Forecast to read.  We'll also be updating you every Tuesday here in the blog on how we fared the previous weekend with our picks, and with our Greg's Lobos fantasy teams.

Nfl Sb51KING SPORT AWAKENS! IT'S FOOTBALL DAY IN AMERICA!: The college game had a one-week head start. Now let the pros take over, kids. The NFL regular-season begins tonight -- click on Thursday Night Gem for our pick on the Panthers-Broncos game -- and so starts a continuous six-month blitzkrieg of America's immersion in fantasy football and gambling as 32 teams set out to reach and win a Super Bowl. Las Vegas betting odds and the public's reaction to those estimates suggest there are a consensus of six teams pretty clearly above the rest in terms of being likeliest to win it all. We're curious about your thoughts so we have listed all six current betting favorites in our new poll, and we added a seventh team, Denver, in the sentimental belief every reigning champion deserves at least that small nod of respect. No matter the team you cheer for, vote with head, not heart, as if you were given $100 to lay on one team only, straight up, to be this season's champ. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

NEW ECONOMIC STUDY SLAMS FEDERAL SUBSIDIES FOR SPORTS FACILITIES, INCLUDING MARLINS PARK: A new economic study by the respected Brookings BrookingsInstitute think tank says federal taxpayers have subsidized newly constructed or majorly renovated professional sports facilities at a cost of $3.2 billion since 2000, via tax-exempt federal municipal bonds. Because high-income bond holders receive that additional tax break for holding the bonds, the resulting loss in total revenue to the federal government is even larger at $3.7 billion. The Miami Marlins' new stadium is included in the study, and is shown to have received a $100 million tax subsidy at a lost-government-revenue pricetag of $132 million. The study looked at 48 stadiums and arenas in America's Big 4 sports. The Marlins received the 12th most in federal subsidy and caused the 10th most in lost revenue. Click on Brookings Study for the full story.

Poll result: Not LeBron, not Shaq, not Wade -- Riley is Heat's biggest acquisition: We asked what has been the Miami Heat's biggest personnel move or acquisition, and hiring executive Pat Riley was a runnaway winner with 50.3 percent. After that it was 24.7% for drafting Dwyane Wade, 16.9% for signing LeBron James/BIg Three, 6.7% for trading for Shaquille O'Neal, and 1.3% for trading for Alonzo Mourning.

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Twitter @gregcote