May 03, 2016

Toronto favored? No way, eh. Nothing will stop a Miami-LeBron Eastern finals; plus your call Heat-Raptors (new poll; vote now!), Kiper/McShay's final word on Dolphins draft & more

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

Ichiro1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 3. Ichiro's legendary status in Japan and the way he gives the Marlins a large footprint there is a major reason beyond baseball why he is in Miami. At right, an adoring fan's artwork. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dragic leads to Heat to next round vs. Toronto, Hot Button Top 10, grading Dolphins draft with poll, your verdict on Tunsil pick, history of South Florida Game 7s & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and simulcasting on Fusion TV and ESPNU.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, my latest, previewing the Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory. Curious Pick, Major Gamble, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick.

Coming later today: A new blogpost featuring our Heat-Raptors Game 1 preview and the incomparable Mavis Staples.

HeatraptorsMETRICS GIVE HEAT ONLY 1 IN 3 CHANCE TO BEAT TORONTO BUT THE METRICS ARE LIARS! NEXT STOP, LEBRON: Sure, the Toronto Raptors are a higher seed, had a better record, beat Miami 3-1 head to head this season, are an overall series favorite -- at 5-8 odds to Miami's 7-5, via Bovada today -- and are a 4.5-point favorite in Tuesday night's Game 1 in Toronto. ESPN's updated Basketball Power Index metric puts it at Toronto 66 percent vs. Miami's 34% in terms of likelihood of winning this second-round series and reaching the NBA's Eastern finals. The most likely outcomes, according to the BPI: Raptors in 5 -- 21%; Raptors in 7 -- 21%; Heat in 6 -- 15%; Raptors in 6 -- 15%; Heat in 7 -- 10%; Raptors in 4 -- 8%; Heat in 5 -- 6%; and Heat in 4 -- 3%. The same BPI has Cleveland a 68 percent favorite over Atlanta and San Antonio (up 1-0) an 84 percent favorite over Oklahoma City. No prediction is offered for Golden State-Portland (Warriors lead 1-0) because Steph Curry remains out and BPI does not factor injuries, but you'd figure GS would be a favorite of at least mid-'80s. Curious if you think the BPI is disrespecting Miami with that 34% shot or if that sounds about right. I think it's crazy. I think the series should be about even, only because of Raptors' home-court edge. I actually like Miami to win it, based on greater depth, more offensive pop and most importantly, more playoff experience. Then again, part of that may be wishful thinking, I admit. Click on Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals for my latest column. Now it's your turn. Take a dip in our poll and, as always, we encourage a dispassionate vote -- not who you hope wins, but who you'd bet would if given a hundred bucks to place straight-up on either team. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

KIPER, MCSHAY'S FINAL WORD ON DOLPHINS DRAFT: From Espn.com today. Mel Kiper Jr.'s overall analysis: "Bizarre circumstances, great player. Let's just go with that for the short version of how the Dolphins ended up with arguably the single-best prospect in the draft all the way down at No. 13. Laremy Tunsil has so many natural gifts for the tackle position, it's just now a Melkipermatter of where he plays. Left side? Right side? Either way, if he's on the field, Miami gets better. Not many people know Xavien Howard, but that's not much of a reach in Round 2 -- he was going to go there. From there, this was all about getting Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase more weapons. Kenyan Drake is Reggie Bush-lite, Leonte Carroo is a productive threat who can make catches down the field, and Jakeem Grant is a jitterbug who is electric in space if you can get him the ball. Thomas Duarte is one to watch, a hybrid wideout-tight end split who could develop. The Dolphins didn't do much for their defense, but they sure as heck tried to help their QB and ended up with a major steal early in the process. Todd McShay's favorite pick: "The Dolphins got the No. 2 player on my board with the 13th pick. Tunsil's draft-day slide was partially the result of a video that surfaced on his Twitter account right before the draft started, showing him smoking from a bong. I understand the risks, but it's one I would've taken at the same point in the draft. The Dolphins need to better protect QB Ryan Tannehill, and they landed the best pass-blocker in this class. RB Kenyan Drake is a good complement for Jay Ajayi, and WRs Leonte Carroo and Thomas Duarte are both underrated pass-catchers."

Poll result: (Fairly) strong overall approval of Dolphins draft: We asked in the previous blogpost how you'd grade how the Dolphins did in the 2016 draft (you may still vote) and it was 49.2 percent "B," 26.6% "C," 15.4% "A" and 8.8% "D." (We were too nice to offer an "F" option). That's 64.6% above average or better vs. 35.4% average or below. I call that strong but not quite overwhelming approval.

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April 12, 2016

Micky Arison in the crosshairs on Carnival cruises to Cuba: New poll. Vote now!; plus Ronda Rousey loves Dolphins, Heat and Panthers parlay similar blueprint to playoffs, Cats' Stanley Cup odds, Donald Trump porn parody & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 12. Ronda Rousey praises Dolphins. Click here for the video. 2) Thanks to all the listeners, viewers and Tweeters who liked our "Back In My Day" on today's LeBatard Show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, The List (Dolphins), your verdicts on LeBron/Tiger & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

Panthers' Stanley Cups odds: Out today via Bovada, Florida is tied for eighth at 16-1 odds, better than opponent Islanders' 25-1. Capitals are favorites at 4-1, followed by a knot of five teams at 8-1. Cats Roberto Luongo (30-1) and Jaromir Jagr (35-1) are team's most plausible betting longshots for playoffs MVP. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint, the latest, on two teams' similar philosophy. Now the Proving Begins, as Panthers end regular season and face playoffs. Out Of Excusesoff Marlins Opening Night.

HEAT OWNER ARISON IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF CARNIVAL, CUBA AND POLITICS: Micky Arison's net worth is $7.7 billion, although it may have risen to $8 billion while you were reading this sentence. He is chairman of Doral-based Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest. He also is principle owner of the Miami Heat. As such, his two primary interests and business ventures put Arisonhim in the crosshairs of the latest news regarding his cruiseships, Cuba and politics. We first tackled this subject in the blog last July when Carnival first won Carnivalapproval to begin cruises to Cuba. For Arison (pictured) and Carnival it could be great for business. But many South Florida Cubans who fled that island's Castro tyranny (and many of those are Heat fans) are angry over normalized U.S.-Cuba relations and also about Carnival ships docking there. We ran a poll here last July asking if Carnival planning trips to Cuba negatively impacts how you view Arison, and it was 79.9 percent "no" vs. only 16.8% "yes" and 3.3% "undecided. But I wonder if the view has changed now that the Carnival-Cuba startup is soon -- first ships are set to head south in May -- and now that we know this disturbing detail: the still-oppressive Cuban government controls what passengers may be aboard the cruiseships, and they do not include Cuban-born people, which of course includes Cuban exiles living in and around Miami. Carnival has asked the Cuban government to relent on that policy, but, if Carnival wishes to do business in Cuba, it has no choice but to agree to that one huge restriction, even though it is plain discrimination, of course. Imagine Carnival traveling to a country that insisted only white people be aboard the ship? Or banned Muslims? As I wrote last July, I am in favor of normalized U.S.-Cuba relations, which I think ultimately will benefit the Cuban economy and people. But clearly it is wrong for the Cuban government to not allow folks born in Cuba and exiles in Miami to be aboard those Carnival ships, as we discussed on yesterday's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Dan was particularly passionate on the topic. And there protesters outside Carnival headquarters Tuesday. So, nine months after our first poll, let's repeat the question and compare the vote. Check back often to monitor evolving results.

TWO TEAMS, SIMILAR BLUEPRINT AS HEAT, PANTHERS FORGE PLAYOFF PATH: [Panthers Sasha Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, pictured left, and the Heat's Justise Winslow and Dwyane Wade, right, personify each team's winning blend of experience and youth -- the blueprint that carries each to the playoffs. Click on Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint for the online version of the my latest column] Appreciate the rarity of this first. The Miami Heat and Florida Panthers are about to both enter the playoffs in the same season for only the fifth time since 1993, when hockey joined basketball down here. And South Florida is one of only five markets to have both its teams reach the 2016 postseason, along with Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and Oakland/San Jose. Even more notable is the similar blueprint the Heat and Panthers have shared to find success, with rosters that blend wise and wizened veterans and raw youth. For the Heat it’s a blueprint that is very different from the company norm, showcasing an unusual reliance on young players by a franchise that, from Pat Barkov Wade WinslowRiley on down, Jagrhas never quite trusted youth. For the Cats it’s a blueprint taken to extremes, bookended by 44-year-old leading scorer Jaromir Jagr and by 10 players not even born when Jagr first entered the NHL, such as rising stars Sasha Barkov, 20, and Aaron Ekblad, 19. Both teams’ uncommonly wide gulf between its oldest and youngest players was reflected perfectly Monday in the Panthers’ dressing room following a midday practice. Nick Bjugstad, the Cats center, is 23 but looks even younger. His hand kept drifting absent-mindedly to his chin and rubbing what was there, which isn’t much. He is trying, the poor kid. The NHL postseason is upon us, the fight for the Stanley Cup beginning, and in hockey, the playoff beard is a near-sacred tradition. A wisp of blond whiskers trying bravely to be a goatee and an even wispier sprout on his alabaster cheeks is all Bjugstad can claim for now. "I keep playing with it – it’s more than I’ve ever had!' he is saying after Monday’s midday practice. "It is what it is. But it’s kind of embarrassing." Elsewhere around the dressing room manly playoff beards are in full bloom. It looks like a casting call for a movie about lumberjacks. A media guy trying to be kind tells Bjugstad most of the full-bearded guys probably started growing their facial hair at least a month ago. "So did I," Nick had to admit. The beard thing is the perfect reflection of what the Panthers see when they look in the mirror: A blend of age and youth, of over-35 veterans like Jagr, Roberto Luongo, Brian Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Willie Mitchell, offset by what is perhaps hockey’s premier core of players under 25. It was a risk that relies on aging players still having enough prime left and youthful guys proving ready. It was a chemistry experiment that has worked but might have blown up in the lab. "Our older guys have been so willing," as general manager Dale Tallon told me Monday. "It could have been a disaster." From the 45-minute jaunt from Sunrise down to Miami, from ice to hardwood, Heat veterans like Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and (even sidelined) Chris Bosh similarly mentor a youthful core led by rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, by second-year man Tyler Johnson and by Hassan Whiteside, who is 26 but still learning. "I’m just passing down knowledge," Wade describes the role that doesn’t show up on stat sheets. "All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped." It is a good time to be a fan of both teams, with each franchise locked in win-now mode but also boasting a blossoming young core that suggests a bridge to a promising future beyond the Hall of Fame-bound old guard led by Jagr and Wade. Both teams share justifiably high playoff hopes as the Panthers face the New York Islanders in the first round with Game 1 here Thursday night, while the Heat enter their final two regular-season games still unsure of their seeding, who’ll they’ll face or whether they’ll have home-court advantage. You’d think the Heat might be in happy-to-be-here mode, after missing the playoffs last year and with Bosh out. Yet there is the sense of a wide-open Eastern Conference, and of a real chance to reach the East finals, maybe head-to-head vs. old friend LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. You’d think the Panthers might really be in happy-to-be here mode. They last made the playoffs in 2012 and last won a playoff series in Year of the Rat 1996. Tallon and coach Gerard Gallant both admitted Monday they did not expect to win a division title this year. But hockey’s Eastern Conference also is wide open. An ESPN experts panel by a 9-0 vote picked the Panthers to advance past the Islanders. Washington was the only East team with an appreciably better record than Florida this season, but the Cats were 2-1 against the Capitals, outscoring them 10-5. The idea of a championship run by either the Panthers or especially the Heat is fanciful and not being discussed much in any sober conversation, but, in only their fifth playoffs at the same time, the idea of either team or both reaching their conference finals is tantalizingly plausible. And who knows? If that happens, by then, Nick Bjugstad’s patchwork of whiskers might even pass for a decent beard.

ThedonaldPERFECT! A DONALD TRUMP PORN PARODY!: How great and absolutely fantastic and terrific is this!? I'm so happy I feel like building a giant wall! Just when you think Larry Flynt might be dead, the Hustler impresario rises to produce something fun, like "The Donald," his new Donald Trump "porn parody" video. The photo at right surely whets your appetite and suggests the cinematic gravitas at play here. Click on Trump Porn Parody to read more. The video goes on sale to the public today/Tuesday, available to everyone including Muslims and Mexicans. Trump is the perfect target. I mean, who is more cocksure? Don't worry. Cocksure is a real word, not a dirty word, and describes Trump quite spot-on.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 06, 2016

Setting the bar on Marlins' season expectations. Poll. Vote now!; plus Villanova, '96 Bulls vs. '16 Warriors poll, Dolphins in Bogota, Monica Lewinsky the "innovator," spring football league comes to Florida & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6. A slightly belated bowed head for the recent anniversary, of the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. The great civil rights leader would have been 87 today had hatred not taken him. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your men's Final Four verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

It's Villanova in a classic finish: It was one for the ages. Kris Jenkins' 3-point basket at the buzzer averted overtime and lifted Villanova to the men's NCAA championship over North Carolina, 77-74. Based on our recent Final Four polls, most thought UNC would win (59.5 percent to Villanova's 28.9%), but more wanted 'Nova to win (38.7% to UNC's 32.4%). I had no rooting interest but was thrilled to see that basketball fans won. Anyone watching won. What a finish.

MARLINS LAUNCH 24TH SEASON WITH HOPES (SOMEWHAT) HIGH DESPITE LOSS ON OPENING DAY NIGHT: [Marlins fall to Detroit last night 8-7 in 11 innings, despite a Giancarlo Stanton home run and three extra-base hits by Dee Gordon. Click on Out Of Excuses for my column off the game] Original post: "If there is a fragile nature to Miami Marlins’ hopes for the 2016 season, it is embodied quite Marlins2016literally in the health of the team’s two biggest stars. One, Giancarlo Stanton, possesses a towering physique that drives baseballs over walls harder and faster than anybody else in the sport. The other, Jose Fernandez, throws fastballs so hard they all but leave a vapor trail and make catcher’s mitts Marlinssmoke. They are two players who rely on pure power, and yet there is a porcelain quality to their bodies, like thoroughbreds pounding a racetrack on legs that seem too slender for all of that weight. Few teams in Major League Baseball are more top-loaded with two young players as dynamic as Stanton, 26, and Fernandez, 23. A Stanton at-bat might be the most must-see minute in all of sports as outfielders can only turn and watch what in pre-technology days we would call a tape-measure home run. A start by Fernandez is served with a side dish of bravado, of infectious, fist-pumping fire. About both, though, there is the question mostly whispered, as if it were taboo. Can they stay healthy?" The preceding is the start to my Marlins season preview column; click on Power & Porcelain to read in full. Hard to judge expectations. Experts and bettors (see below) don't seem to expect much of Miami, but inside the clubhouse the team is genuinely hopeful with new manager Don Mattingly at the wheel, and the Marlins are a trendy they'll-surprise-you pick of some in the media. I'll be at the ballpark columnizing and social media-ing from Opening Day vs. the Detroit Tigers. For now, I invite you to help set the bar on Marlins expectations for 2016. What do you realistically expect of this season? Not what you hope might happen, but what you honestly think will. Take a dip in our poll.

Updated Marlins betting odds: Latest betting odds from Bovada show Marlins at 50-1 to win the World Series, holding steady since the previous odds were out in November. That's tied for 22nd-longest odds. NL East odds are Mets 10-11, Nationals 11-10, Marlins 6-1, Braves 25-1 and Phillies 50-1.x

BullswarriorsTHE ULTIMATE IMAGINARY NBA FINALS: '96 BULLS VS. '16 WARRIORS: What a great week to be a basketball fan! On the college level we get North Carolina vs. Villanova tonight for the men's NCAA championship, then UConn vs. Syracuse Tuesday night for the women's crown. And as the collegians are wrapping up the pros are just getting ready to start -- with the NBA regular season waning and the playoffs about to begin. But first there is the Golden State drama. Will the Warriors, 69-8 entering Tuesday's game, break the '96 Bull's 72-10 mark for most wins in a season? It's likely though hardly a ciunch, considering GS needs to win four of its last five games and two of those are vs. mighty rival San Antonio. Whether the Warriors  break the mark or not, though, our poll question is legit. Who'd win a sevn-game series: Michael Jordan's '96 Bulls or Stephen Curry's 2016 Warriors? There is no way of knowing, which makes the conjecture all the more interesting. Scottie Pippen says his '96 Bulls would not only beat but sweep the Warriors. Charles Barkley says, "That Bulls team would kill this little [Golden State] team." I'm sure many agree. But I'm also sure plenty think these Warriors' sport-changing barrage of 3's would get the best of even those great Bulls. Your opinion goes here.

BE INSPIRED BY ... MONICA LEWINSKY?: There is a conference April 18-19 in Miami (click here for details) that invites you to "be inspired by innovators," and lists a bevy of speakers that Monicaincludes statesman Colin Powell, skateboarding giant Tony Hawk and entertainer Pitbull. But in a Miami Herald ad for the event published today, the three faces out front are those of Powell, Hawk and (are you ready?) ... Monica Lewinsky! That's right, kids. Talk about an innovator! Be inspired by perhaps the only woman in U.S. history to be famous because she once engaged in a sordid-turned-public illicit relationship with an American president. I wonder. Is her talk entitled How I Blew Bill Clinton, or does she choose a somewhat more subtle heading for her address? Lewinsky, now 42, describes herself these days as a "social activist" and "public speaker." Give her credit, I guess. She evidently has managed to make a profitable cottage industry of parlaying the shame and notoriety of her name into some sort of career. God bless America! For me, though, this invites a most difficult question to answer, a real conundrum: Who is more gullible? The event that would pay Monica Lewinsky to speak? Or the people who would pay to hear her? 

BogataDOLPHINS TROT GLOBE IN SEARCH OF TALENTED ... CHEERLEADERS!: You thought the Dolphins were turning over every available stone only in search of talented players? No, sir. Or madam. Your Fins also are trotting the globe looking for talented cheerleaders. The club announced today it has chosen six young women from more than 100 applicants in a tryout in Bogota, Colombia. The NFL's first international cheerleader auditions included previous stops in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Mexico City. The Dolphins obviously want a more diverse Hispanic flavor to their cheer squad and apparently could not find enough diversity or Hispanic women in South Florida (!). Does it sound like a waste of money for the Dolphins to search abroad when there obviously is ample talent in So Fla? Yes I thought so, too. but then I saw the photo pictured left of Elianis, one of the six finalists from the Bogota audition, and thought to myself, "Why should young women such as this who have longed to lead cheers for a sport they know nothing about be denied their dream!?"

FloridafusionLATEST SPRING FOOTBALL LEAGUE DELAYS LAUNCH: These things are pretty much born to fail, but, for what it's worth, Major League Football, a new professional spring league listing Herm Edwards as a "senior adviser," has announced it will be in the "development" stage this year with plans to begin its inaugural season in March of 2017. MLFB has targeted eight of what it calls "underserved sports markets," and they include an Orlando-based team, the Florida Fusion (logo at right). Other planned league cities are Akron OH, Birmingham AL, Eugene OR, Little Rock AR, Norfolk VA, Salt Lake City UT and San Antonio TX.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 01, 2016

NCAA Final Four polls: Who will win? And who do you hope does? Vote now!; plus what Dwyane-Kobe rivalry always lacked, Marlins individual betting odds, Trump hires lawyer he "fired" on TV, your verdict on Arian Foster & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, APRL 1. Happy new month, all! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins and Arian Foster poll, Miami Open casualties & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

COTE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: I'll be retiring from the Miami Herald and from ESPN Radio, effectively immediately. April Fools!! "Damn," said South Florida in unison. "Thought we finally got rid of him!"  

FinalfourWHICH NCAA FINAL FOUR MEN'S TEAM WILL WIN? AND WHICH DO YOU WANT TO WIN?: Here are two polls, both with the Final Four teams listed alphabetically, but each asking a very different question. One is "Who do do you think will win?" This is your head answering. It's who you'd bet on if given 100 bucks to place on just one straight-up team to win it all. The other poll is asking "Who do you hope wins?" Your heart answers this one. Whether based on what's left of your bracket or other factors, what team has earned your rooting interest? Vote in both polls and we'll be interested to see how the results might differ.

IT WAS DWYANE VS. KOBE FOR FINAL TIME, BUT HERE'S WHAT FRIENDSHIP AND RIVALRY ALWAYS LACKED: [Update: Wade popped 26 points Wednesday night and Kobe scored only two in nine minutes in a 102-100 overtime loss by Heat in L.A. Bad loss as Miami squanders chance to take over third place in East] Original post: Kobe Bryant was questionable to play with a tender right shoulder Dwyanekobetonight as the absymal Lakers host the Heat. And Dwyane Wade had said that if Kobe didn't play, "Then I'm not playing either." So a highly anticipated matchup could have ended up a letdown. Instead the two future Hall of Famers played their 20th and last head-to-head meeting as Bryant is retiring after this season. That's a fair sample size, the equal of a quarter of a season, and we see in the comparative stats that the rivalry has tended to bring out the best in each other. Bryant averages 27.3 points and Wade 24.2 when they face each other, above the career averages for each. Kobe's high game in the series is 42 points (Christmas Day 2004) and Wade's is 40 (Christmas '06). The two also have faced off in All-Star games and played as USA Olympic teammates in a long friendship. But one thing is glaringly missing. Here is why Dwyane-Kobe is a far cry from Magic-Bird in terms of all-time NBA personal rivalries: Despite Heat-Lakers meriting the Christmas Day spotlight four times, Wade and Bryant have never met in the playoffs. Not once. Eight different seasons have found Heat and Lakers in the playoffs at the same time, but never have the teams intersected in the Wade-Bryant era. And no personal rivalry is full-fledged in this sport without championship implications or at least postseason stakes.

MARLINS INDIVIDUAL BETTING ODDS: Via Bovada today, Giancarlo Stanton's projected regular-season final numbers are a .280 average, 39.5 home runs and 105.5 RBIs. The HR figure is tied for the MLB high with Bryce Harper. Other select Marlins betting over/unders: Jose Fernandez 13.5 wins, 199.5 strikeouts, 2.75 ERA; Wei-Yin Chen 11.5 wins, 3.49 ERA; A.J. Ramos 30.5 saves; Dee Gordon .295 average, 50.5 steals; Justin Bour 23.5 homers; and Christian Yelich .290 average.

FUN FACT ABOUT TRUMP LAWYER IN CAMPAIGN-MANAGER SCANDAL: You know that Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been arrested for misdemeanor battery for his Bradcohenhandling of a treatment of a reporter, Michelle Fields, at a March 8 news conference at Trump National Golf Club in Palm Beach. And you may have heard Lewandowski's attorney, Brad Cohen, speaking on the NBC's Today show on Wednesday; click here for the story and video. Now, what you may not know: Bradford (Brad) Cohen, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, is the same Bradford Cohen who Trump "fired" early in the 2004 season of his TV show The Apprentice, forerunner of the later Celebrity Apprentice. Local attorneys who know Cohen tell me he delighted in the fleeting fame of his brief TV role and loved that Trump would refer to him on-air as "The Bradford." Trump called Cohen "stupid" in dismissing him. Twelve years later, Cohen (pictured), now 44, is smart enough to be one of the point-men Trump has brought in to help defuse the mini-scandal dogging his Republican presidential run.

LEBATARD SHOW INTENTIONALLY ABORTS 'BACK IN MY DAY' EPISODE: Tuesday the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz intentionally cut off the end of my very popular "Back In My Day" segment, a staple of my Tuesday in-studio co-host gig. I believe Dan purposely delayed the start of it and then attempted to distract and delay me throughout, evidently thinking it was better to have me miss the hard network out than to finish my piece. He quickly apologized on-air, and later off-air, but it's in my craw a day later to the degree I don't mind milking it for a blog item. Click here for yesterday's show podcast; BIMD starts around the 52:45 mark. #LeBaFraud #Disrespect. Of course I'm kidding. Probably.

Poll result: Dolfans unimpressed by interest in Arian Foster: I was not impressed; as told in this column. For me Arian Foster is an aging, damaged-goods running back, the one position that best exemplifies the Dolphins' offseason struggles in free agency. Well, y'all agreed. We asked how you felt about the Dolphins' interest in the free agent Foster, and by a better than 5-to-1 margin you said "skeptical/past prime" (72.9 percent) over "good/plenty left" (13.9%). The other 13.2% were undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 03, 2016

Doral's Last Stand? 3 reasons this week's WGC is special; plus Marriott's shame in Erin Andrews trial, FIU's sordid scandal with women's basketball coach, McShay on Dolphins' draft, cheerleader saves NFL Combine, your Best Oscar verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 3. A terrific read (click here) by our former Herald colleague Joe Goodman on the terrible hazing injuries Bart Starr suffered while at Alabama. Terrific work, Goody! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Greatest Oscar poll, Hot Button Top 10, Lists for the Ages, Miami's top 29s, Marlins odds, your presidential verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

THREE REASONS WHY THIS COULD BE THE MOST MEMORABLE DORAL TOURNAMENT EVER: The PGA Tourists are back crawling across Doral's Blue Monster today through Sunday, with 47 of the world's top 50 ranked players among the exclusive 66-man field for the season's frst World Golf Championships event, a sort of sub-major. Click on Doral's Wild Week to read today's latest column by me in full. This could turn out to be the most memorable Doral ever, for these three reasons:

TrumpThe Circus: Tournament host Donald Trump, the resort’s owner, always is at the event basking in the glory of his billions, conspicuous as the helicopter emblazoned with his name that in previous years always has been parked strategically for arriving fans to admire. Now, of course, Trump will be here as possibly the next president of the United States, a prospect that frightens the hell out of many Americans but apparently delights enough that he is the Republican frontrunner.

SpiethThe Golf: The sport is palpably moving on from the fading Tiger Woods era with bright new stars. The current top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking, Jordan Spieth (pictured), Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, all are in their 20s, and this week marks their first time all playing together since last September. They’ll go off in the same threesome Thursday at 11:32 a.m. from the 10th tee. And No. 5 in the rankings is Rickie Fowler, also in his 20s.

MonsterThe History: This could be the finish line, the end, for the PGA Tour's continuous 55-year relationship with Doral, the event a fixture on our sports landscape since 1962. Cadillac is ending its run as title sponsor, and contractually the next title sponsor may choose to relocate the event if it wishes, and perhaps with the Tour’s nudging. "We will explore all options regarding the event’s future," goes the Tour statement. There is speculation the event will abandon Trump National Resort and the Tour distances itself from Trump over his insults disparaging Mexicans, Muslims, women and others.

This week, then, is a lot about what we don’t know. We can’t know yet if Spieth, Day, McIlroy or anybody else will build the kind of historic career Woods did. We don’t know if the tournament’s namesake host will make history by becoming the next U.S. president. And we cannot be sure if Doral is about to lapse into history, the past tense, as a PGA Tour destination. All of these elements make this week special — a fitting end, if that’s what this is.

ErinandrewsON MARRIOTT'S SHAMEFUL DEFENSE IN THE ERIN ANDREWS TRIAL: Marriott lawyers on Tuesday revealed a shameful defense strategy, claiming that Erin Andrews profited from the nude video of her that was shot through a peephole of the chain's Nashville hotel in 2008 and uploaded to the Internet by the creep who shot it. It has been watched an estimated 17 million times. Convicted pervert Michael D. Barrett did 2 1/2 years in prison. Andrews, 37, then at ESPN and now at Fox Sports, is suing Marriott for $75 million. Marriott's defense is somewhat reprehensible. Andrews should be appluaded for being able to maintain her career, and the fact she has done so has zero to do with her claim the hotel was negligent in allowing Barrett to stay in the room next to hers and alter the peephole to her room with a hacksaw. Her privacy was violated in a most awful way, and Marriott's claim she gained financially because of the nude video is shameful. It makes me question my past loyalty to Marriott when traveling -- not because the incident happened at a Marriott, but because of the chain's defense in this trial. I hope Andrews gets every penny of the $75 million she is seeking.

ChinnFIU MUST ACT SWIFTLY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY OVER ALLEGATIONS AGAINST WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: I just read this story by our FIU beat writer David J. Neal and it is well-reported and shocking and galling. The FIU women's basketball team is going through a 4-23 season under first-year coach Marlin Chinn (pictured), but the record no longer matters. Chinn's conduct does, if allegations made against him by team captain Destini Feagin are true. She says Chinn has pursued a sexual relationship with her most of this season. If so that is a firing offense to say the least -- the height of inappropriateness especially for a male coach of a women's team. And I must say, from the account and its details, Ms. Feagin's claims have the heft of credibility. If Chinn has been wrongly accused, let him speak. If he has not been wrongly accused, let him resign in disgrace, or be fired. FIU's investigation led by athletic director Pete Garcia must be swift because this is sordid, combustible and a huge embarrassment for Miami's major public university. Chinn today was suspended by the school pending the outcome of that investigation, a necessary step. I can imagine repercussions. If the allegations prove to be true, it stretches credulity to think no assistant coach, no one else in FIU athletics, knew what was going on. If Ms. Feagin is right, I doubt Chinn would be the only person fired over this. I also doubt FIU would be unscathed by the NCAA over lack of institutional control.

THE LATEST GUESS ON DOLPHINS' NO. 1 DRAFT PICK: This today from ESPN's Todd McShay, in his third (of 7,418) mock drafts. He has Miami selecting UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, saying: "Jack, who is still recovering from an early-season knee injury, didn't participate in drills at the Combine. But his tape shows a twitched-up athlete who thrives in coverage and can make plays all over the field versus the run. If the Dolphins are looking to add a much-needed playmaker to the second level, Jack is their best bet." Well, maybe. And LB is a need. But I still think, right now, that Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is the likeliest Fins pick at No. 8 overall.

KatyKATY THE CHEERLEADER SAVES THE NFL COMBINE: Sure the NFL Combine ongoing in Indianapolis, the pre-draft meat market, is a raging bore except to football nerds and men with stopwatches, and is rather hopeless as a TV event. But it has its redeeming value. And here it is: NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen competing against two fully outfitted team mascots and a blond Falcons cheerleader named Katy in the 40-yard dash. Oh it's exquisite! Katy has terrific form. Also a pretty good running style. Click here to watch. The video is courtesy TMZ.com, which is pretty much filming everything, everywhere, including under your bed right now.

LATEST HEAT, PANTHERS BETTING ODDS: Per Bovada's latest odds, Heat are now 75-1 (tied for ninth) to win NBA title, down from 66-1, with Golden State an absurd 5-7 favorite over Cleveland's 13-4. As for the NBA MVP race, it might as well be off-the-board, with Steph Curry a ridiculous 1-30.  In the NHL, the Panthers are steady at 16-1 to win the Stanley Cup, 10th best, with Washington (9-2) and Chicago (5-1) fronting the pack.
Oscar2
OscarPoll result: Robertson edges the Grouch for Best Oscar:
We asked who was the greatest Oscar of all-time, gave you 12 choices and three votes, and when the pollen settled it was Oscar Robertson with 20.8 percent edging Oscar the Grouch with 19.0%. Bronze goes to Oscar Wilde with 12.2%. Also in double digits: Oscar Mayer (the bologna) at 11.3% and Oscar (the Academy Awards statue) right at 10.0%.

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March 01, 2016

Who is the all-time greatest Oscar? New poll. Twelve finalists. Vote now!; plus our finest No. 29s, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your presidential-poll verdict & more

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

Leap1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 1. Happy new month, all! Hope you had a happy Leap Year day! 2) A belated R.I.P. for Tad Foote, the former UM president who passed away earlier this month at 78. I got to know Mr. Foote quite well when I covered UM football in 1984-88, and respected him. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annoying non-sports presidential poll, Robert Irvine, Marlins playoff paucity, Gronk Party Ship verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and simulcasting on ESPNU and Fusion TV. Join us!

Jagr HoughLISTS FOR THE AGES: I am a South Florida sports historian of sorts, and so my Sunday column was in the wheelhouse. I explore the most notable (very) old and (really) young players we have had in Miami pro sports history, the ones who have made the greatest impact at 40 and older and at 21 and younger. Inspiring our search was the current play of the Panthers' 44-year-old Jaromir Jagr alongside 20-year-old Sasha Barkov. Click on List for the Ages to read in full. Meanwhile, here's a bonus list of oldest Miami players by pro franchise, all-time and current: Marlins--Charlie Hough (pictured), 46 years 202 days on last appearance, July 26, 1994. Current: Ichiro, 42 years 130 days as of today. Panthers--Jaromir Jagr (pictured), 44 years 14 days as of today. Current: Jagr. Dolphins: Earl Morrall, 42 years 146 days on last appearance, October 10, 1976. Current: John Denney, 37 years 78 days as of today. Heat: Juwan Howard, 40 years 69 days on last appearance, April 17, 2013. Current: Udonis Haslem, 35 years 265 days as of today.

NAME THE GREATEST OSCAR: This poll is an homage to last night's 88th Academy Awards, which were most notable, to me, for three things: 1) Leonardo DiCaprio finally scoring his first Best Actor Oscar; 2) Host Chris Rock needling and mocking the Academy over its lack of black nominees; 3) Spotlight winning Best Picture, maybe the biggest win in years for the ailing newspaper industry; and 4) Why on Earth was Mad Max winning all those awards? OK, now on to the serious stuff: Who is the greatest Oscar of them all? Here are my top 12 candidates. Vote for your top three (3):

 

THE TOP 29'S: In honor of this Leap Year and today, Feb. 29, we name each of our major pro franchise's best all-time player to have worn No. 29:

Dolphins: Cornerback Sam Madison, 1997-05

Panthers: Goaltender Tomas Vokoun, 2007-11

Marlins: Utilityman Greg Dobbs, 2011-14

Heat: Have never had a No. 29

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Team signs former all-star Joe Johnson: The Heat signed former all-star guard Joe Johnson, whom the Cavaliers and others also wanted, and he debuted with 12 points in a win over the Knicks Sunday in New York. The bad news? He's 34 now and past his star days. The good news? He can still pop 3's, which earns him a welcome parade on this roster. Meanwhile the blackout on Chris Bosh health news continues. "I'm not a doctor," said Pat Riley. OK, but somebody is. Let him speak. 

2. PANTHERS: Barkov back as wheelin'-dealin' Cats hit road: Rising star Sasha Barkov returned from a concussion with two goals for division-leading Florida, which continued a five-game road trip with Sunday's loss at Minnesota. Saturday, Cats bolstered an already strong roster by acquiring veteran wings Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell and solid defenseman Jakob Kindl. Good for you, Dale Tallon. This team is serious. Like this is the year.

3. HURRICANES: UM men beat Louisville; is the Final Four in play?: The 12th-ranked Canes men beat No. 11 Louisville here Saturday, while the No. 17 UM women close their regular season Sunday with a loss at No. 12 Florida State. We've been talking Sweet Sixteen as a realistic goal for Coach Jim Larranaga's guys, but I now believe we've been aiming low. In a wide-open season, even the Final Four is now in play.

4. GOLF: Doral on deck as the Trump Week circus begins: The Honda Classic ends Sunday in Palm Beach Gardens (with Adam Scott winning) and now the Trump PGA Tour swings south to Trump National Doral, allowing Donald Trump to parlay the event for free publicity in advance of the Trump Florida Primary as he continues his bid to take up residence at the Trump White House.

5. MARLINS: Clean-shaven Fish begin spring schedule: The Marlins face UM on Tuesday and the Cardinals on Thursday as spring games begin. The Fish have instituted a Jeffrey Loria-backed no-facial-hair policy for players. Better they should have a no-more-underspending-on-payrolls policy for players.

6. SOCCER: Corruption-plagued FIFA selects a new president: Gianni Infantino, a 45-year-old Swiss-Italian lawyer, was elected on the second ballot this week to succeed disgraced and ousted Sepp Blatter. Infantino immediately thanked all of the voters who'd accepted his bribes. Oh I'm just kidding! Probably. 

7. UM BASEBALL: Canes lose rubber-game with top-ranked Gators: No. 1-ranked Florida won two out of three weekend games vs. No. 6 Miami at The Light. Gators continue as the nemesis rivals. Am beginning to think Jim Morris tombstone will read, But He Couldn't Beat the Gators...

8. DOLPHINS: Fins prep for draft at NFL Scouting Combine: Dolphins and other teams have been at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis preparing for April's draft. They can put a stopwatch and tape on everything about a player, except, alas, whether he'll have arrest reports in his future.

9. NBA: Cleveland star Kyrie Irving bitten by bed bugs: Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was bitten by five bed bugs while staying at a posh Hilton hotel. Hilton apologized and immediately instituted a new policy that stringently places a three bed-bug maximum in all of its rooms worldwide.

10. MOVIES: The 88th Academy Awards on Sunday: I didn't much care who won an Oscar, but I was riveted to host Chris Rock as he skewered the Academy Awards for its lack of black nominees. Critics said Rock should have bowed out because of that. No. It was exactly why he was the perfect host.

Missing the cut: Gulfstream hosted the annual Fountain of Youth Stakes on Saturday as Triple Crown season nears. Mohaymen won and is now seen as a Kentucky Derby favorite. In an upset, an old burro in a straw hat finished second ..... Say "Denny Hamlin" really fast. His winning margin in last week's Daytona 500 was less than the time it took you to ..... Kimbo Slice is 42, and he fought somebody named "Dada 5000," and it was a Bellator production. And you were surprised why that it was a lousy fight!? ..... I forget. Is Johnny Manziel currently in trouble or between embarrassments? ..... Sam Querry won tennis' second-tier Delray Beach Open. My query: Who!? ..... Colin Kaepernick wants a trade. One stumbling block: His tattoos love it in San Fran and are suing to stay ..... Been more than a week since Lindsay Vonn posted an embarrassing video on social media. Somebody check on her ..... Update: Pablo Sandoval of the Red Sox now weighs 473 pounds ..... 'SMH' has a new visual image. It's Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft's reaction to the Gronk Party Ship.

MARLINS' ODDS TO WIN NL EAST: Latest betting odds from Bovada have Mets a narrow NL East favorite at 10-11, a whisker ahead of Nationals at 11-10, with Marlins at 6-1, then a big dropoff to Braves at 25-1 and Phillies at 33-1. Other division favorites: Royals, Red Sox, Astros, Cubs and Giants. NL East win over/unders are Mets 89.5, Nats 89.5, Marlins 79.5, Braves 66.5 and Phils 65.5.

DonaldtrumpPoll result: Trump, Hillary (in that order) rule Florida: We offered a presidential poll, one of those non-sports polls that annoy many of you, inviting you to choose among the seven major remaining candidates, and your leaders were Donald Trump at 30.7 percent and Hillary Clinton at 25.1%. Trailing were Marcio Rubio at 15.0%, Bernie Sanders with 12.9%, Ted Cruz and John Kasich both at 6.9%, and Ben Carson at 2.5%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 14, 2016

The new Hot Button Top 10; plus ominous Marlins news, ominous Dolphins odds, Hold Me Closer, Bernie Sanders (the video) & more

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

Valentines1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful wife and to all our abundantly appreciated female readers. I wish you love. 2) ICYMI, click on The Forte Factor for my most recent column on how the Dolphins should explore signing Matt Forte if Lamar Miller leaves and the price is right. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Dolphins/Matt Forte with poll, quantifying Heat's bad 3-point shooting, Panthers' record pace, Dwight Howard, ex-Canes at Combine, Ted Cruz's porn star, Kanye West's weird video game & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEB. 14): WHAT 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Wade, not Bosh rep Heat in All-Star Game in Toronto: Miami entered the break fifth in the East after a week that included the club saying it would retire Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32. Only Dwyane Wade will represent the Heat in Sunday's ASG with a calf strain rendering Chris Bosh a spectator. Do you think between the two of them they could kidnap a 3-point shooter and bring him back to Miami?

2. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Cats hit a lull as Cats chase record: Division-leading Florida continues a six-game homestand vs. Pittsburgh on Monday on pace for the most regular-season points in franchise history. But Florida now has lost four of past five, the last two by a combined 10-3. Uh-oh time?

3. HIGH SCHOOLS: Miami Jackson makes history with female football coach: Jackson High made Bernice Brunson the first female head coach in Florida prep football history, the same day it also named former 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell as defensive boss. Give 'em this: Jackson sure knows how to get your attention.

4. HURRICANES: UM men, women both face big road tests on Sunday: The 12th-ranked Canes men visit rival Florida State on Sunday while the 19th-ranked women play at No. 3 Notre Dame. Can’t recall another year (can you?) when both UM teams were thinking Sweet 16 and it wasn't just wishful thinking.

5. MARLINS: Spring is springing as Marlins prepare to report: Baseball unfurls this coming Friday as Marlins pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Jupiter. Fans hope for a playoff contender under new manager Don Mattingly. Alas, the Marlins betting over/under on wins, 81, is not a playoff number.

6. UM BASEBALL: High hopes as Hurricanes open season: Jim Morris' Hurricanes open their season at home vs. Rutgers with a weekend series starting this coming Friday. UM is No. 6 in the preseason polls. No pressure or anything. Omaha Or Bust, that's all.

7. SOCCER: Beckham seeks outside investors for Miami MLS team: Miami's Major League Soccer pointman David Beckham is seeking investors, and the places he's looking include Russia, China and Qatar. Becuase I guess nobody has money in any countries that would not be a controversial partner.

8. NFL: Denver still celebrating, Manning still deciding: One week later, Denver is still celebrating its Super Bowl win, Peyton Manning is still deciding whether or not to retire, and Cam Newton is still trying to convince people (and maybe himself) that it's OK to be immature and rude in a postgame news conference.

9. DOLPHINS: Slow time but a busy week for Fins: Miami cut two marginal players (Brice McCain, Quinton Coples) in salary-cap moves, tweaked its coaching staff and parted ways with an assistant GM. Perhaps most interesting: Fins could need a RB if Lamar Miller leaves, and Matt Forte just came available. Hmm...

10. VALENTINE'S DAY: Hope you didn't forget it's Sunday, guys: Valentine's Day either originated as a Western Christian liturgical day of feasting in honor of Saint Valentinus, or was invented by Hallmark, I can't remember which.

Missing the cut: His agent confirmed Marshawn Lynch will retire. "No comment," said the media ... USA Curling National Championships ended Saturday in Jacksonville, surprising analysts who didn't know we curled in America ... Hassan Whiteside lost his cool, threw an elbow and got ejected from a Heat game. Or, did that go without saying? ... Two more Cuban baseball stars defected for a shot at MLB riches. Or, did that too go without saying? ... It was announced the intrasquad UM spring game in football would be April 16 at Lockhart Stadium. It'll be Mark Richt's first Canes win. And loss ... Mexico beat Senegal 2-0 in a soccer friendly that drew 15,588 to Marlins Park. Which sounds about right for a Marlins Park crowd ... Congrats to Canes guard Sheldon McClellan, one of 35 candidates for Naismith player of the year award ... Brett Favre headed an eight-man Pro Football Hall of Fame class, which, looking at it, was about three or four men too many ... PGA Tour caddies lost a lawsuit in which they sought compensation for having to wear bibs with advertising. Dear fellas: Your job consists of carrying a golf bag, telling your guy, "178 yards" and collecting up to 10 percent of his earnings for doing very little. Quiet, please! ... Daytona 500 opens the NASCAR schedule next Sunday. "Gentlemen, start your season!" ... Delray Beach Open runs all this week, a second-tier men's pro tennis tournament featuring guys you've barely heard of and hardly care about ... Barcelona entered weekend with a club-record 29-march unbeaten streak. All Barca, plus bite-a. (Sorry) ... MLS announced its best would play English power Arsenal in the league's summer all-star game. Good luck, MLS ... Rockets trying to trade Dwight Howard but he'll be a free agent. Rental, anyone? ... The fast-approaching PGA Tour stop at Doral March 3-6 is just a week or so ahead of the Florida presidential primary. Gee, I wonder if Donald Trump will be here? ... Miami Gun Show ends Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Talk about the perfect Valentine's Day gift!

Poll result: Dolphins should look into Forte, although many disagree: We asked if the Dolphins should explore signing free agent-to-be running back Matt Forte, and it was 55.6 percent yes, 33.4% no and 11.0% undecided.

ZeroOMINOUS INDICATOR FOR MARLINS: Baseball America just came out with its 2016 Top 100 prospects list (click here for complete list), and here are the number of Marlins on it: Zero. Nada. Nil. Zilch. No promising crops growing on the farm. Ouch. That's baseball-unhealthy. Miami needs to remedy that dearth for its long-term success.

Bet66-1NO LOVE FOR DOLPHINS IN BETTING ODDS: Bovada rolls out new post-Super Bowl betting odds on who'll win next year's SB 51, and Patriots are on top at 15-2, followed by Steelers and champion Broncos both 9-1 and Panthers, Packers and Seahawks all 10-1. After the Pats in the AFC East are the Bills and Jets both at 50-1. The Dolphins? Tied for third from the bottom overall at 66-1, ahead of only the Titans and Browns.

"HOLD ME CLOSER, BERNIE SANDERS": That's the title of a new Bernie Sanders tribute parody song, to the tune of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." Includes lyrics. Clever. Pretty funny. Will be interesting to see if Feel The Bern OKs this to play during his campaign:

   

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2016

Rating the Hurricanes' Signing-Day bounty: New poll. Vote now!; plus skill positions, linebacker head Richt's incoming UM class; also, new Super Bowl With a Smirk III on the power of the chicken wing, updated NBA/NHL odds & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Gulp! Today I'm at Friday Page HQ deciding who'll win the Super Bowl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl With a Smirk I, Ted Cruz looks like a vampire & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Florida Panthers remain better title bet than Heat: Latest betting odds from from Bovada have Golden State now even at 1-1 for NBA championship, with Cleveland and San Antonio next at 11-4 each. Miami is tied for eighth at 66-1. NHL title odds are led by Washington at 4-1, Chicago 5-1 and Los Anegles 15-2, with Florida tied for sixth at 16-1. (Cats could become a trendy bet; they just won at Washington, 5-2). Prohibitive MVP faves are Warriors' Steph Curry at 1-4 and Blackhawks' Patrick Kane at 1-3.

AMID THE OVERBLOWN HYPE OF NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, CANES AND RICHT SCRAMBLE TO NAIL DOWN SOLID CLASS: [Click HERE to meet the Hurricanes' newly minted 18-man 2016 recruiting class]. I get why so many fans are drunk with interest (or perhaps just drunk in general) over National Signing Day. It is to college football what the NFL Draft is at the higher level. The pipeline. The replenisher. It's a first indication how successful your team might be in the Nsdnext few years. What amuses me, though, is the media and fans' instant and self-assured analysis of something inherently unpredictable. We are talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. The coveted five-star recruit might flame out. The lightly recruited two-star guy could become your program's savior. The preps-to-colleges outlook simply is not as readable or reliable as the colleges-to-pros jump because there is a greater lump-of-clay factor. High-school players are not fully formed; they need Allisondevelopment. They  need coaching. Al Golden and his staff did not do that sufficiently. That's why Mark Richt is now running Miami Hurricanes football. Richt was hamstrung by coming into Canes recruiting late but seems to have made up ground. UM's class was ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN, with 10 Top 300 prospects among its 18 recruits. I know there are thin areas and have been some notable defections, but I like what I see of the Canes' 2016 class. The linebacker gets are extremely impressive. And the offensive skill-position bounty seems very good, led by QB Jack Allison (Palmetto), RB Travis Homer (West Palm) and WR Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas). Allison (pictured), a 6-5 pro-style passer, will be groomed as the heir to Brad Kaaya; Bruce has five-star speed and skills but is downgraded for being only 5-8. Here is ESPN's synopsis of the UM bounty, condensed: "The Hurricanes surged after the hire of Richt. They landed ESPN 300 DE Patrick Bethel on Dec. 14. He is joined in the class by QB Allison, playmaker Bruce and fellow speedster Dionte Mullins. WR Ahmmon Richards (No. 212 in ESPN 300) was a great addition on signing day. Adding another ESPN 300 prospect, Homer and his 4.48 speed, was a big win at running back. The Hurricanes' class at receiver and linebacker is especially impressive, including LBs Shaquille Quarterman and Zachary McCloud. Three-star defensive tackle prospect Tre Johnson has considerable upside." Richt called Sam Bruce "very explosive," a slot receiver whose speed "gives him the ability to get on the edge as well." The coach called Travis Homer "A very skilled back," adding, "He was the second guy I watched after Jack [Allison] and I had a big grin when I watched the tape." Richt was hamstrung by his latte arrival in a recruiting game built on relationships. "When you have everything in place and all your support staff is clicking, there's some energy and synergy going on," he said. "But when you start that train from ground zero and try to move that thing, getting to know (everybody), there's so many things to do in such a short time." Richt and this class should be graded on that curve. The new coach sounded subdued Wednesday. Tired. "But it's a good tired," he said. We invite your initial thoughts on UM's 2016 recruiting bounty in the poll below. None of us can know for sure, of course. But that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion, right?

SMIRK III: CHICKEN-WING METRIC FAVORS CAROLINA, SB BLING UPDATE, HERDING THE HOMELESS, '17 SB ODDS: Here comes Smirk III, the third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns. The National Chicken Council — whose name alone conjures a clandestine assembly of poultry elders convening in George Orwell’s Animal Farm — has released its Chickens2016 Wing Report, the bible of Super Bowl snacking. The NCC estimates a record 1.3 billion wings will be eaten by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday, 39 million more than last year. The wing is king; pizza bows and curtsies. For example, Domino’s estimates it will sell 12 million slices on Sunday. Those 162.5 million pounds of wings, if laid end to end, would stretch from Charlotte to Denver almost 53 times. That amounts to 600 wings for every seat in every NFL stadium in the United States. Smirk has a word for that many wings: Dinner! Wings will not only probably dominate your Super Bowl party. The jointed marvels also have proven an accurate predictor of the game, based on the competing cities’ average expenditure on wings. This season that barometer went 7-3 in the playoffs and has accurately forecast four of the past five Super Bowls. Now the National Chicken Council reports (befitting a drum roll) that Charlotte residents spend $1,400 on wings per $1 million spent in local grocery stores — nearly three times the $480 devoted to wings in Denver. "It would be nice to see Peyton Manning go out with a victory, but numbers don’t lie," says the NCC’s fabulously named communications director, Tom Super. "Follow the chicken."

▪ The betting over/under is 2 minutes 20 seconds for Lady Gaga’s pregame national anthem on Sunday. What prevents Gaga from telling all her family and friends to bet big on the “under” and then coming in at 1:57? Hey, I’m just asking!

▪ Repucom, a sports and entertainment research company, measures the metrics on more than 3,800 athletes and celebrities and says Panthers QB Cam Newton now has a better "influential score" — the ability to change people’s perceptions — than President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. President Newton?

Jesuspendant▪ Super Bowl Week Bling Update: Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wears a Rolex watch valued at $80,000. Denver safety T.J. Ward counters with a similarly priced gold-encrusted pendant depicting the face of Jesus, replete with thorny crown.

▪ The game is in surburban Santa Clara, but San Francisco clearly is "Super Bowl City" in terms of festivities, and Fusion.net reports the city quietly has herded its homeless population to a four-block tent city three miles away. Apparently the host committee thinks NFL fans OK with concussions and player arrests would be aghast at the sight of a panhandler.

▪ Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called "your couch."

Budhelen▪ Helen Mirren will star in an anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad for Budweiser. Hmm. C’mon, Bud! Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get to preach against drunk driving any more than Smith & Wesson gets to bemoan gun violence.

▪ Super Bowl security on Sunday will include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force heading a task force of more than 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t deflated.

▪ OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: "Super Bowl history of missed extra points."

Fifty▪ Finally, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook already has laid betting odds to win next year’s Super Bowl, and it’s Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on top at 8-1. (Panthers are 10-1 and Broncos 14-1.) Smirk needed a miner’s helmet and pickaxe to find the Dolphins. At 50-1, only the 49ers and Browns have longer odds than Miami.

SMIRK II: THE UNEXPECTED INSPIRATION FOR SUCCESSFUL SUPER BOWL ADS, MISS UNIVERSE, A REF NAMED CLETE, GREYHOUND FORETELLS RESULT: Welcome to Smirk II, the second of
five daily Super Bowl notes columns. As we all know SB television commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gustavfreytag
Donkey National Association of Self-Serving Advertising Executives. Well, those TV ads also are as closely watched and analyzed as the game, apparently. A new study of each year’s highest-rated SB ads was conducted by researchers Keith Quesenberry of Messiah College and Michael Coolsen of Shippensburg University. Quesenberry told Time.com they concluded that the most successful, well-liked ads are presented as mini-movies in a five-act story structure such as that favored by legendary playwright William Shakespeare. The study also found most of the best Super Bowl ads follow “Gustav’s Pyramid,” the five-part story structure — exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement — espoused by 19th Century German novelist Gustav Freytag. A separate study by Smirk found that most successful Super Bowl ads feature yodeling animals in straw hats. (Pictured left: Gustav Freytag and a typical star of a Super Bowl ad). In an unrelated story, Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a Super Bowl television commercial for Amazon Echo, which has the electronic voice of “Alexa” answering your questions. Amazon denied it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s Siri. “Yeah, right!” snorted the entire country.

▪ Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrived at the Super Bowl in a pair of Versace zebra-print pants that retail for almost $900. Oh, and gold-tip loafers. By contrast, I think Broncos QB Peyton Manning arrived in a Jim Tressel sweater vest and Hush Puppies. GQ “Style Guy” Anthony Green revealed to ESPN that Newton’s daring sartorial splendor could be a good omen for Carolina.

▪ Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly Media Day) featured Newton freestyle rapping, an Austrian sportscaster in ski clothes, a man dressed in a gold leotard, a leprechaun in Broncos colors and Josh Norman in a Luchador wrestling mask. In other words, pretty much the usual stuff.

▪ I don’t wanna say I’m beginning to doubt Manning’s denial that he ever used human growth hormone, but at Tuesday’s weigh-in he was 6-11 and 314 pounds.

▪ This could be a dull Super Bowl Week if we don’t get some decent controversy beyond that silly HGH story. Smirk will do his part at Wednesday’s media session by attempting to plant deer-antler spray on Ted Ginn Jr.

Missuniverse▪ Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach (Phillipines), is covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition. Apparently an embittered Miss Colombia was denied a credential. At least that’s what Steve Harvey told me.

▪ CBS held a news conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to reveal it has more than 550 personnel and 100 cameras swarming the Bay Area. The event went well before degenerating into a fistfight between Jim Nantz and Phi Simms. OK Smirk made up that last thing.

▪ Federal officials said Tuesday there is no specific, credible threat to this week’s Super Bowl, other than it tanking in the ratings because Carolina is so far ahead.

▪ The NFL announced its Sunday officiating crew headed by referee Clete Blakeman, and nobody cared except the men’s immediate families.

Grammar▪ Panthers fans are more grammatically correct than Broncos fans, according to a Twitter study by grammarly.com. Carolina fans (6.6) made fewer grammar mistakes per 100 words than Denver fans (7.6). Both deploy the language far better than Dolphins fans, who ranked 30th of 32 teams at 11.9.

▪ A skirmish arose Tuesday along “Radio Row” when competing producers for rival stations 790 The Ticket Miami and WQAM came to blows over first dibs to a profusely sweating Chris Berman.

Carolinadog▪ Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.

Previously: Click on Smirk I for Tuesday's debut. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

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January 07, 2016

Who should be Dolphins' next coach? Twelve choices, you pick one. Last chance to vote; poll ends noon today!; plus my Piazza/Hall column, Panthers' streak in historical perspective, Heat vs. Cats title odds & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 7. Yes, you can still say Happy New Year! Barely. You get one full week. 2) See previous blogpost for final season results in Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Patriots with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Top Miami sports story of 2015 verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Piazza, other Hall voting show steroids stigma is softening: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza got into the baseball Hall of Fame tonight. Griffey was fully expected. But Piazza's election -- along with increased voting for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens -- strongly suggest the stigma against steroids-era guys is softening. Rumors alone kept Piazza out the previous three years. Now suddenly he's in. Click on Baseball's Cold War Is Slowly Ending to read my new column, online now and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.

Vote now! We declare a winner at noon today!

TannenbaumYOU PICK THE DOLPHINS' NEXT HEAD COACH: Update: Voting booth closes at noon today! Man, this poll has gotten a huuuge response and it's still too close to call. Very interesting results so far. Be a part of it. And quickly, please. Original post: I've had my say, online and in today's Miami Herald. Click on No Training Wheels This Time for my latest column, suggesting the Dolphins try something different and hire a head coach who has done the job before in the NFL. Seven hires in a row (including interims) have not. Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt were the last two hires who had been NFL head coaches before; they also are the last two to be on the sideline when Miami won a playoff game. In this poll I list a dozen coaches alphabetically. Eleven have been reportedly linked to the job as candidates. I added Tom Coughlin, just for fun. Conspicuously absent from the list are Sean Payton and Chip Kelly, with no indications of Dolphins interest. Me? I'd give up a second-round draft pick for Payton in a millisecond. But it's Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) fronting the Dolphins search, not me. Ready to give Tannenbaum your input? Vote for the man you think would be the best next coach for Miami or the hire that would excite you the most. You can only vote for one. (Nobody said life was fair...) Vote now and say why you chose as you did.

FripixNFL PIX WEEK 17 RESULTS: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Well, fantasy is done. But our prognosticating isn't. Pix: Ending the regular season badly: We stumbled in at 8-8 overall. Wed also were disappointed to wrap it up 8-7-1 against the spread. Should have been better, considering we nailed our Upset of the Week with Bills over Jets ("Aawwk!") and had a big five 'dogs-with-points in the Dolphins, Saints, Redskins, Raiders and Seahawks. On to the playoffs!

PANTHERS' WINNING STREAK IN CONTEXT OF BEST WE'VE SEEN: The longest winning streak by South Florida's four major pro sports franchises:

Heat: 27 games. Feb. 3 through March 27, 2013. Third-longest in NBA history.

Dolphins: 18 games. Sept. 17, 1972 through Sept. 16, 1973. Tied third-longest in NFL history.

Panthers: 10 games. Dec. 15, 2015 through now; current. Cats' previous long streak was seven games, done three times, most recently 2008. Florida has won eight of its 10 games outright and two by shootout, and outscored opponents 35-12 during streak. NHL record is 17-game winning streak by 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. Panthers' next game: Thursday at Ottawa.

Marlins: 9 games. Done four times, most recently Sept 9-19, 2008. Marlins' long win streak is shortest of any MLB franchise.

Odds say Cats likelier to win championship than Heat: New championship betting odds out from Bovada show the Florida Panthers (14-1, tie 6th) have better NHL title odds than do the Heat (40-1, tie 8th) in the NBA. Golden State is a clear basketball favorite to repeat, at 5-4. Washington Capitals top a crowded hockey field, at 6-1. 

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December 17, 2015

Pete Rose should be on the Hall of Fame ballot! Agree? New poll. Vote now!; also Heat fans' big thumbs-down to 'Melo & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17. I'm up at Friday Page HQ today summoning my NFL Week 15 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Bucs-Rams game. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat/'Melo trade poll, Dolphins draft, Fins fans' grammar and randiness, Star Wars & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

New World Series odds: Cubs and Giants are now World Series co-favorites at 6-1, via Bovada, then it's Red Sox at 9-1. In NL East it's Mets 14-1, Nationals 18-1, Marlins 66-1 and Braves/Phillies both 100-1.

PETE ROSE HAS DONE HIS TIME. PUT HIM ON HALL OF FAME BALLOT, ALREADY!: That headline summarizes my latest column; click on Rose's Purgatory Should End to read in full. You can see what’s coming in the case of MLB vs. Rose. You can guess how one of the most protracted sagas in American sports history will finally end. Rose’s lifetime ban from the sport will end when his life does. He will find forgiveness in death. The sport will welcome back its wayward son by inducting him posthumously into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. That Rosenowday, he’ll get the eulogy makeover. It will no longer be about his gambling problem way back in the late 1980s. Then it will be about the record 4,256 base hits. It will be about the man nicknamed "Charlie Hustle" sliding headfirst into history. What a shame to wait. How harshly and unnecessarily punitive baseball is being in its unwillingness to forgive. New commissioner Rob Manfred had the chance this week, in considering Rose’s appeal of his banishment, to say, "Enough." Instead, in affirming the ban would go on, Manfred all but assured that Rose, now 74, would die still ostracized. People convicted of murder in the U.S. serve an average prison sentence of 20 years 8 months, according to Department of Justice. Rose is still doing time more than 26 years later for betting on baseball games, including his own team, while managing the Cincinnati Reds. It is essential to note the Dowd Report found Rose only bet on his team to win. So there was never the suggestion of a scandal involving game fixing. What he did violated the sport’s rules against gambling, but hasn’t he served enough time? Lifetime sentences are not always literally that. Murderers can be paroled but Pete Rose can’t? It is hypocritical of Manfred and MLB to maintain this hardest possible line against the evils of gambling while being in a corporate bed with DraftKings, the daily fantasy site being systemically found to be a portal of illegal gambling, most recently by the New York Supreme Court. I get why Rose was punished, I just don’t get why he isn’t now reinstated when, at this point in his life, it would be a purely ceremonial gesture. I mean, Barry Bonds, who set home run records literally cheating opponents by using performance-enhancing drugs, can be hired as the Marlins hitting coach but Rose remains on the wrong side of baseball's locked gate? Certainly the deterrent effect — Rose an An Example — has served its purpose. He is why modern players know not to have a bookie or place wagers. From this point forward the only practical reason to continue Rose’s banishment is to continue to bar him from the Hall of Fame — a place where he belongs because, unlike the Steroids Era guys, Rose (A) did not cheat opponents and (B) has served his time. Rose is the only living person on baseball’s "permanently excluded" list, meaning he is not eligible to be on the Hall ballot. There may be wiggle room, though. Manfred noted his ruling was separate from the Hall of Fame, which is not owned by or run by MLB. The Hall in 1991 adopted a rule stating no banished players could appear on its ballot — but sometimes rules change, right? Sometimes exceptions are made. Plainly, Cooperstown has the right to put Rose on its Hall ballot if it chose to — and should. Let Hall voters (myself included) decide if the game’s all-time hits leader has been in purgatory long enough. I may be wrong, but I’m guessing enough of us think Rose has done more than sufficient time for his crime, and that the day at Cooperstown he deserves should not come to him posthumously. OK, the preceding is a condensed version of my column. Now it's your turn. Agree with me that Rose should be on the Hall ballot? Or disagree? Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: It's a big "no!" to Heat trading for 'Melo: We asked how you felt about a trade floated by ESPN's Chad Ford that would send Miami's Justise Winslow and Luol Deng to the Knicks for Carmelo Anthony. The response was huge, and it was 11.9 percent "Yes!," 5.6% "Leaning yes," 12.8% "Leaning no" and 69.7% "No!" Not surprised the no's won, but am surprised by the margin.

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

Twitter @gregcote