May 11, 2015

Brady suspended 4 games, Pats forfeit 1st-round pick!; plus Dolphins now East favorites?; also Heat draft prediction, new 'Weighing The Fish', Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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


1) It is MONDAY, MAY 11. Hope you good moms out there had a happy Mother's Day. Especially to my own mom in Vero Beach and to my wife and wonderful mother to our two sons. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Deflategate findings with poll, A-Rod's milestone with poll, Dolphins lose Collins, '16 mock draft & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

BREAKING NEWS: BRADY SUSPENDED 4 GAMES!: Tom Brady is suspended the first four games of the coming season and the Patriots are made to forfeit a first-round draft pick as NFL hands down "Deflate" punishment today. Club also fined $1 million and made to forfeit a fourth-round 2017 pick as well.

1aa1adekkerHeat draft prediction: Jeff Goodman's latest NBA mock draft for ESPN.com today predicts Miami will select Wisconson small forward Sam Dekker 10th overall. Dekker (pictured) is 6-9 and 230. Goodman's synopsis of the pick: "The Heat need to hit a home run here, and Dekker showed the potential with his play in the NCAA tournament. He's long, athletic and displayed a mental toughness with huge games on the sport's biggest stage. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng aren't spring chickens. This team needs some fresh legs to go along with Hassan Whiteside."

The heat in Redmond's seat: New first-manager-to-be-fired odds via sportsbettingdime.com show Miami's Mike Redmond tied for fourth in line at 6-1. Only shorter odds are Mariners' Lloyd McClendon at 7-2, and Indians' Terry Francona and White Sox's Robin Ventura both 4-1.

AFC EAST FAVORITES? DOLPHINS MAKING POST-DRAFT, DEFLATEGATE-RELATED LEAPS: The Dolphins leap four spots -- 19th to 15th -- in ESPN's latest post-draft NFL rankings out today, tied with Baltimore (11th to 7th) for the biggest jump. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Patriots hold steady at No. 2, Bills fall 1aa1adolphinleapingone spot to 18th and Jets bump up two spots to 25th. (Top five is Seahawks, Pats, Packers, Broncos and Colts). Of even greater interest, the respected ESPN partner website Football Outsiders is projecting/predicting both New England and Miami for 11-5 records and says Dolphins will be division favorites if imminent Deflategate penalties show a significant suspension for QB Tom Brady. Here is FB-O's take not even factoring in a Brady suspension: "Your hot sleeper Super Bowl contender for 2015 is the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots run away with the AFC East year after year, but our early projections suggest the defending champions will finally get some serious competition in their own division this year. We're high on the 2015 Dolphins because the 2014 Dolphins were essentially a good team dragged down to 8-8 by dismal special teams and a difficult schedule. However, special teams are less consistent from year to year than offense or defense, which means the Dolphins are likely to be a lot closer to average in that area in 2015. And like the rest of their division, the Dolphins also get an easier schedule this year."

WEIGHING THE FISH (30 GAMES): We throw the occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this 1aa1afishweigh 1aa1adeegyear we debuted a new feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Nine qualify for our third ranking. WTF is cumulative and factors six offensive categories. It serves as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best season or is hot/cold. Weighing The Fish after 30 games (actually 32, at 15-17, because we were asleep at the wheel), with current leader Dee Gordon pictured:

Rank Player                          WTF#      @20

1    Dee Gordon                         170.3      2

2    Giancarlo Stanton            163.1      1

3    Adeiny Hechevarria        140.4      3

4    Martin Prado                     124.7      4

5    Marcell Ozuna                   120.7      6

6    Ichiro Suzuki                      92.2      7

7    Michael Morse                    83.4      5

8    Jacob Realmuto                 75.4      8

9    Christian Yelich                 51.3      9

HOT BUTTON MAY 10: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DEFLATEGATE: Pats, Brady await punishment after Wells Report: “Deflategate” probe found Patriots and QB Tom Brady bearing “probable” guilt related to under-inflated footballs in AFC title game. Don Shula this week noted, "We didn’t deflate any balls. We always tried to live by the rules." Every retiree needs a hobby. Shula's apparently is needling Bill Belichick.

2. MARLINS: Gordon-led Fish continue on 10-game trip: Miami moves on to L.A. now after last night's Steve Cishek blown save at San Fran. Story so far has been Dee Gordon leading majors with a .439 batting average — 62 points better than anyone else. Might he become baseball’s first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941? Hey, somebody had to defy the jinx superstition and finally say it!

3. DOLPHINS: Busy week includes free-agent loss, rookies, celebration: Fins lost out on heavily wooed free-agent tackle La'el Collins, who signed with Dallas, then held a rookie minicamp that featured all seven recently drafted players. Miami also announced season-long plan related to club's 50th anniversary season. Dolfans need only one celebration: A bleepin' playoff win, please!

4. NBA: Cavaliers tie it as LeBron plays hero: Clippers seized a 3-1 series lead over Houston and Cavaliers tied Chicago 2-2 Sunday on LeBron James' last second-winning shot. No team still alive has won an NBA title since 1998 in what has been one of league’s most unpredictable seasons in years. Still liking Cleveland and Golden -- LeBron vs. Steph Curry -- as the most predictable Finals.

5. ALEX RODRIGUEZ: A-Rod passes Mays on career home run list: Alex Rodriguez’s 661st career homer Thursday night at Yankee Stadium passed Willie Mays for fourth on all-time list, an achievement diminished, of course, by A-Rod’s steroids history. Don’t mean to stigmatize him, but instead of the number 13, shouldn't the back of his uniform have a giant asterisk?

6. GOLF: Fowler wins TPC Sawgrass near Jacksonville: Rickie Fowler won in a playoff Sunday while Tiger Woods sputtered home tied for 69th. Tiger endured a recent breakup with girlfriend Lindsay Vonn but already seems over it. Just saw him walking into his favorite store, Blondes ’R Us.

7. ESPN: Network parting ways with Bill Simmons: ESPN said it won’t renew Bill Simmons' contract amid speculation a big reason is his continuing outspoken animus against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. I love the media saying what a major blow this will be to ESPN. "Um, I think we’ll get by," said the $51 billion network.

8. BOXING: Fallout from the big fight continues: The fallout from Floyd Mayweather's uninspiring win over Manny Pacquiao includes includes class-action lawsuits against Pacquiao for not disclosing his shoulder injury. Pac Man was hurting that night. But not as much as the suckers who spent $100 to watch the borefest on pay-per-view.

9. NHL: Conference semis reaching crescendo: Chicago and Anaheim are in, Tampa Bay can clinch Tuesday, and the Rangers host a Game 7 vs. Washington on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Canada is planning a candlelight vigil for the anticipated continuation of its Stanley Cup drought.

10. HORSE RACING: Countdown 5 days 'til Preakness Stakes: Meaning we have less than a week left to pretend that Kentucky Derby winner American Pharaoh will break horse racing’s near-40-year Triple Crown drought.

Poll result: You want Brady suspended minimum of four games: We asked what would be a fair Deflategate penalty for Tom Brady and a narrow majority of 50.4 percent said a suspension of four or more games. Then it was 17.2% for no suspension, 16.9% for two games, 8.4% for three games and 7.1% for one game.

Poll result: You'd have cheered A-Rod, but feelings are mixed: We asked if you'd have cheered or booed Alex Rodriguez's home run that passed Willie Mays, and it was 50.4 percent cheered, 34.3% booed and 15.3% undecided.

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

May 06, 2015

Wells report on Deflategate implicates Patriots, Brady. Full report here; plus is a sombrero politically incorrect? Poll. Vote now!; also local firm sues Pacquiao, D-Wade at the Met, heat on LeBron, DeVante on 'impact' list, Dee Gordon & more

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


1aa1aeflowers1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 6. Hope y'all had a happy Cinco de Mayo, fellow imbibers. 2) At left, Giants 1st-round draft pick and ex-Cane Ereck Flowers throws out first pitch at a Mets game. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ndamukong Suh arm-wrestles Warren Buffett, Mel Kiper grades Dolphins, Mel Sr., Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Average American child, before completing education, sees 40,000 murders on TV. Just sayin'.  

My latest column: I write about what a flop the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was and how the only loser was the fan who paid 100 bucks to watch. Click on Nobody Got Hurt But You to read in full.

Updated MLB beting odds: Via Bovada today, Dodgers now alone as World Series favorites at 6-1, with Cardinals 7-1 and Tigers 15-2. Marlins are 66-1, tied for 22nd. (Ouch). But Miami's Dee Gordon (4th at 6-1) and Giancarlo Stanton (tie 5th at 9-1) both are among NL MVP frontrunners, with D-Backs' Paul Goldschmidt the fave at 3-1.

WELLS REPORT ON DEFLATEGATE IMPLICATES PATRIOTS, BRADY: Click on 'Probable' Guilt Not Enough for my column on this, newly online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Click HERE to access the entire 243-page report.The pertinent synopsis: "We have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship 1aa1adefballGame, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls." The report does not implicate others such as owner Robert Kraft or coach Bill Belichick. Next step: NFL decides what if any punishment will be in store for the Patriots. Update: Bovada and some other betting houses have removed NFL odds and bets on Patriots until it is determined if Brady will be suspended. I doubt he will be based on "probable" implication, but he may well be. 

A SONG, A HAT AND SENSITIVITY: I am not easily offended or as sensitive as a lot of people are -- maybe to a fault. That came up yesterday, on Cinco de Mayo, in a couple of ways. One was that I'd planned on wearing a Mexican-style sombrero in honor of the occasion, strictly for laughs, thinking nothing of it -- but was told by others that would be insensitive and has become politically incorrect. Then I happened upon old audio files from my "Singing Sportswriter" days on the radio and re-listened to a song called "God Bless Our Danica," a personal favorite. It's a fun though admittedly cheeky ode to Danica Patrick. The thing is, when I recorded it around five years ago I heard no objections, only laughs. Now? Now I wonder if it would be heard as sexist. I wonder if it has lapsed into "politically incorrect." Here is the audio of the song for you to decide:

Greg Cote - God Bless Our Danica

As for the sombrero, I saw it as harmless fun, as just a funny hat for a party occasion. I never considered that it could be viewed as belittling the Mexican culture. Maybe that's on me to have not considered that, or maybe people, in general, have just become too sensitive. I'm honestly not sure. I am curious what you think of the idea of wearing a sombrero, for fun, on Cinco de Mayo. OK or inappropriate? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

LOCAL LAW FIRM SUING PACQUIAO: Fort Lauderdale-based law firm Kelley/Uustal has filed the first class-action suit in Florida against boxer Manny Pacquiao, his promotor Top Rank and DirecTV, claiming perjury on Pacquiao's part for not revealing his right shoulder injury, which, had been revealed, might have canceled or postponed the fight.

WHAT DWYANE WADE DOES INSTEAD OF BEING IN THE PLAYOFFS: Heat star Dwyane Wade and 1aa1adwyanemetgalaactress/wife Gabrielle Union attended Monday night's high-end Met Gala, an annual fashion event and fundraiser at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 1aa1asarahAnybody who's anybody was there, except you and I. The Heat's First Couple (sorry, Bosh) is pictured right, photo via Perez Hilton. Union rocked the Met red carpet in purple. Or is it burgundy? D-Wade had sort of the
French Foreign Legion look going, complete with red sash and military-like medals. Others at the Gala included Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, George Clooney, Common, Cher, Justin Bieber, Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Anne Hathaway and Madonna. Pictured left, Sarah Jessica Parker looking remarkably calm for a woman whose head is flames. Must have been weird for Dwyane and Gabby to be at an event where they were not (nearly) the biggest stars there. Meanwhile, basketball players still playing were otherwise occupied last night...

Bulls turn up heat on LeBron: When isn't the pressure on LeBron James? But sometimes it's more
palpable. Like now, after the Cavaliers went down 1-0 in the 1aa1abullsheatEastern semifinals with a 99-92 home playoff loss to the Bulls entering Game 2 tonight. Did you love it, Heat fans? (Design at left making the rounds on Twitter reflects how the Bulls have become the adopted team of anti-LeBron Heat fans). Derrick Rose was good, Pau Gasol was better and Jimmy Butler stepped up for Chicago, while Cleveland, playing without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, got 30 from Kyrie Irving but not enough from LeBron. He nearly had a triple-double (19 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists), but also was only 9-for-22 shooting and had six turnovers. "I wasn't that good tonight," said James. No, he wasn't. And he'll need to be better than good -- he'll need to be vintage, MVP-caliber great -- for Cavs to move on.

POST-DRAFT SUPER BOWL, ROOKIE ODDS: New post-draft odds via Bovada have Seahawks an 11-2 Super Bowl favorite followed by Packers 7-1, Patriots 15-2, Colts 8-1 and Cowboys 10-1. Dolphins are 40-1, tied for 17th. AFC East odds are Pats 1-2, Fins and Bills both 5-1, and Jets 9-1. Rookie of the year odds find Melvin Gordon at 13-2 atop a bunched marquee over Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota both 7-1, Amari Cooper 15-2 and Todd Gurley 8-1. Miami's DeVante Cooper is 11th at 16-1. Two ex-Canes show: Phillip Dorsett 14-1 and Duke Johnson 25-1.

1aa1adevantepFins' Parker seen as 'impact' rookie: Mel Kiper Jr. names 10 "impact" rookies from the 2015 draft (five offense, five on D) and Dolphins' WR DeVante Parker is one. Kiper says, "Parker will get his because while Ryan Tannehill has other options in the passing game, such as Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills, Parker is easily the best big-play threat in the receiving corps. I could see him getting red zone looks as a jump-ball winner." Parker's target numbers? Here are Dolphins rookie single-season records in the major receiving categories: Catches--84, Landry, 2014; Yards--883, Chris Chambers, 2001; TDs--7, Chambers.

1aa1adeegIN CELEBRATION OF DEE GORDON: So many free-agent or draft busts and disappointments around here. Dion Jordan, Michael Beasley, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Time to celebrate a newcomer success: Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon (pictured), currently leading all of MLB in hitting at .422 (46 hits in 109 at-bats). That's a staggering first month of play that gives Gordon a leg up on Miami's single-season record for batting average. The club's career top five:

Average    Player                    Year

.342         Hanley Ramirez      2009

.339         Miguel Cabrera       2006

.334         Luis Castillo           2000

,332         Hanley Ramirez      2007

.325         Juan Pierre             2004

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

May 03, 2015

Ndamukong Suh arm-wrestles Warren Buffett (with video); plus Kiper's grade/analysis of Dolphins draft and note on Mel Kiper Sr.; also latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Fins, big fight, Marlins, hot horse, Cavs-Bulls, drafted Canes & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 4. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Grade-Dolphins-draft poll, Super Saturday with Mayweather-Pacquiao and poll, NFL Draft, Kentucky Derby, NBA Game 7 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NDAMUKONG SUH ARM-WRESTLES WARREN BUFFETT: No, seriously. The Dolphins' behemoth defensive tackle was in Omaho on Sunday and arm-wrestled 84-year-old billionaire Warren Buffett, live, on CNBC, the business channel. The odd couple are friends who met through former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. I can hear Dolfans railing now, "Oh so this is why he can't be at the Dolphins conditioning program!" Two things. 1) It's a voluntary conditioning program in early May. 2) Ndamukong Suh is the very last member of this team whose conditioning or performance should be the subject of any concern.

 

KIPER GRADES DOLPHINS DRAFT 2ND-BEST IN AFC EAST: Dolfans graded the Dolphins draft a "B" (see poll results just below), and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. (pictured) agrees. His team-by-team draft grades today include these for the AFC East quartet: Jets A-minus, Dolphins B, Patriots B-minus and Bills C-minus. 1aa1amelkiperjrKiper on Miami's seven-man haul: "The Dolphins had one of my favorite picks of Round 1, and they didn't have to move to get their guy. DeVante Parker has the chance to be special and fills a clear need for them. I could have seen him going with any of the four picks ahead of Miami -- St. Louis, Minnesota, Cleveland and New Orleans -- so getting him at No. 14 was a good value. Jordan Phillips has first-round physical ability and third-round tape, so landing in Round 2 just about averages things out. The addition of Ndamukong Suh was impactful, but Miami can use the depth behind him or put Phillips and Suh on the field at the same time. If Phillips plays at Suh's effort level on every snap, there's a potential stud here. Jamil Douglas could play right away, given the need at guard, and though I thought Bobby McCain was a bit of a reach given some other cornerbacks available when he was taken, that's splitting hairs again. Jay Ajayi is a tough runner who fell on injury and ball security concerns, but if he's healthy, he can be really good. Tony Lippett is a player I expected to go earlier. If there's a question, it's the lack of a linebacker earlier on. The Parker pick really elevates this draft for me, and they can hope the coin flip on Phillips' becoming really good works out. But ultimately, I see one certainty here, and injury risk in a number of places."


1aa1amelsrHow come you never hear about Mel Kiper Sr?:
 Mel's father was in the vending machine business and also sold real estate and coached high-school baseball. He helped his son's early career by finding subscribers and advertisers for Mel's first draft newsletters. Senior died in 1988.

Poll result: Dolphins draft judged closer to good than great: We invited you in the previous blogpost to grade the Dolphins draft (you may still vote) based on initial reactions, and "B" won overwhelmingly with 60.8 percent, followed by "C" with 19.0%, "A" with 16.4% and "D" with 3.8%. Despite more C's than A's, it was still 77.2% overall who gave it an A or B.

HOT BUTTON MAY 3: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins get Parker in draft’s first round: Miami took Louisville receiver DeVante Parker 14th overall in the draft, and I’m not sure who was happier and smiling wider late Thursday night: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, for getting a premier 6-2 pass catcher, or yours truly for actually being right for once in his Miami Herald mock draft.

2. BOXING: Mayweather decisions Pacquiao: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquaio finally had their long-anticipated title fight in Las Vegas late Saturday night. It was the "Fight of the Century" and did not disappoint. Unless you had money on Pac Man. Or like a boxing match in which somebody actually gets hurt.

3. MARLINS: Hot Fish climb up to .500, then lose: The streaking Marlins had now won nine of past 10 games since the 3-11 start that almost got manager Mike Redmond prematurely fired, before losing yesterday. Now the Fish set out on a 10-game road trip. Uh oh. Could soon be time once again talk owner Jeffrey Loria out of doing something rash.

4. NFL DRAFT: Winston goes No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay: Controversial, scrutinized QB Jameis Winston of Florida State went No. 1 to the Bucs and immediately posted an Instagram photo of himself enjoying crab legs. In other words the guy known for making bad choices as a collegian took about nine seconds to make his first bad decision as a pro.

5. HORSE RACING: American Pharaoh wins Kentucky Derby: Betting favorite American Pharaoh finished strong Saturday to win the 141st Kentucky Derby, and now we're just 12 days from the Preakness. I really think this could finally be the year we have our first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Just like I thought last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and...

6. NBA: Clippers win Game 7 to complete final eight: Clippers' thrilling 111-109 Game 7 elimination of San Antonio Saturday moves NBA playoffs to conference semifinal round. Cavs-Bulls may be most interesting matchup ahead. Chicago might have real shot at an upset. Heat fans have a dilemma, though. Rooting against LeBron now means cheering for Joakim Noah.

7. HURRICANES: UM football sees seven players drafted: Tackle Ereck Flowers, ninth overall, led a parade of seven drafted Miami Hurricanes -- fourth-most behind FSU's 11, Louisville's 10 and Florida's eight. Glass half-empty: "No way UM should have finished 6-7 with all that talent." Glass half-full: "That Al Golden sure can recruit!"

8. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Marlins ace becomes U.S. citizen: Rehabbing young pitcher finally faced live batters in practice, but week's big news was the Cuba native taking his oath of citizenship. It proved once again that in America anything is possible. Especially if you happen to throw a 97 mph fastball.

9. DION JORDAN: Dumbass Dolphin draft-bust suspended again: Fins' disappointing 2013 draft bust screwed up again, failed a drug test again and was suspended again. Or, did that go without saying?

10. JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA: Marlins release free-agent bust catcher: The highlight of Jarrod's short-lived Marlins career? Led team last season in longest last name. 

Missing the cut: Billy Donovan leaves Gators for OKC, NHL playoffs, Baltimore riots affect on sports, English Premier League decides title, Tiger Woods in TPC Sawgrass, Giancarlo Stanton in GQ.

Poll result: Most wanted Pacquiao to win: We asked who you hoped won, and it was 76.3 percent for Manny Pacquiao over Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Was running closer to 78-79% prior to the fight).

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

May 02, 2015

Grade the Dolphins draft: Poll. Vote now!; plus Super Saturday: Mayweather-Pacquiao (with poll), 7th Cane drafted (2nd in nation), American Pharaoh, NBA Game 7, NHL playoffs, A-Rod & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 2. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft DeVante Parker with poll, my Mock Draft and results, Giancarlo Stanton in GQ & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

GRADE THE DOLPHINS 2015 DRAFT: I know, I know. Can't properly grade it 'til 2017 or '18 yadda yadda yadda. I get it. I hate the idea of instant analysis as well. But! Fans are still allowed to have an overall 1aa1acard 1aa1acardlogogut feeling on how it went -- on whether and how their team seemed to address its needs with players that provide optimism. So how'd the Dolphins do, Dolfans? Consider the bounty: Louisville WR DeVante Parker (1st round), Oklahoma DT Jordan Phillips (2nd), Arizona State OG Jamil Douglas (4th), Memphis CB Bobby McCain (5th), Boise State RB Jay Ajayi (5th), Minnesota S Ced Thompson (5th) and Michigan State WR Tony Lippett (5th). That's four on offense, three on defense, with position needs fairly well met. Phillips in the 2nd round seems the one possible red flag. Anyway, you've Googled the names, heard the Kipers and Grudens weigh in. Now it's your turn. How does Miami's seven-player draft class, weighted incrementally from top to bottom by round, make you think the Fins did overall? How do you feel? OK now give that feeling a letter grade that best reflects your gut reaction to how Miami did. Vote and say why.

1aa1asupersatSUPER SATURDAY: The single greatest day in sports history? Oh hell. Why not! Mayweather-Pacquiao. NFL Draft. Kentucky Derby. An NBA playoff Game 7. Stanley Cup action. Yanks-Red Sox and A-Rod. Um, anything else we can do for you? Enjoy...

 

1aa1amaypacMayweather-Pacquiao: Fight of the Century: Years in the making, the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquaio mega-fight late tonight in Las Vegas is expected to set pay-per-view records and is boxing's most anticipated bout in a long time. "Fight of the Century" fits, albeit a mere 15 years in. Might Mayweather (47-0) finally lose? Seeing that answer unfold is the main draw for many, me included. I sense that most are rooting for just such a comeuppance for Mayweather, but I may be wrong. Your poll results will tell me. This is not who you think will win, but who you hope wins. Betting interest aside, who do you want to win? Vote and say why.

1aa1adolparkNFL Draft: Big hit, big gamble go 1-2 for Dolphins: Rounds 4 through 7 wrap it up today, meaning your team will now be drafting guys you've probably never heard of. Even Mel Kiper Jr. might be faking it. The Dolphins hit big with WR DeVante Parker in the 1st round, gambled big with DT Jordan Phillips in the 2nd and had no 3rd rounder. Dolphins today picked Arizona State G Jamil Douglas in 4th round, Memphis CB Bobby McCain in 5th, Boise State RB Jay Ajayi in 5th, Minnesota S Ced Thompson in 5th and Michigan State WR Tony Lippett in 5th. That's it. No more Miami picks. Meanwhile seven Hurricanes joined the NFL: OT Ereck Flowers (1st round to Giants), WR Phillip Dorsett (1st to Colts), LB Denzel Perryman (2nd to Chargers), TE Clive Walford (3rd to Raiders), RB Duke Johnson (3rd to Browns) and, Hurricanes today added OG Jon Feliciano (4th to Raiders) and DE Anthony Chickillo (6th to Steelers). UM's seven draftees were second in nation, trailing only Florida State.


1aa1aamerpharKentucky Derby: American Pharaoh wins:
 "Hey remember me? I know y'all are consumed by the NFL Draft and the big fight, but I'm the Kentucky Freakin' Derby!" American Pharoah (pictured) at 13-5 was the betting fave for today's kickoff race to the Triple Crown season -- and showed why with a late finish from third to the win. I had a parochial rooting interest in Florida Derby winner Materiality at 14-1. Terrific race minted by a great finish. And they're off! Now we wait to see if Pharaoh will be the one to end the Triple Crown drought.

1aa1aclipspurNBA playoffs: Game 7 treat: Seven of eight first-round series are completed, most lopsidedly. Tonight completes the lpuzzle with San Antonio Spurs at L.A. Clippers in a Game 7. A rare treat, Game 7s. Do the old Spurs have one last hurrah in them or does tonight signal the end of their dynastic run? Delicious!

1aa1anyrStanley Cup playoffs: Pressure on Rangers: The four conference semifinals are underway, and in today's only game the New York Rangers hosted Washington today needing a win, and getting one, 3-2. Many see NYR as the Stanley Cup favorite but that might have changed if Rangers hadn't evened the series 1-1 today.

1aa1aarodMLB: Eyes on A-Rod: A Yankees-Red Sox series still pulses as baseball's best rivalry, but this weekend's series is extra special. Alex Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth all-time in career home runs last night but was homerless today. His passing the Say Hey Kid will be dubious, a tainted honor given A-Rod's steroid history. Would Bosox fans treat the historical moment with respect or boo? One more reason to watch.

Poll result: Y'all love Dolphins' DeVante Parker pick!: Rarely do we get this much consensus in a blog poll, but 71.6 percent said they "loved" Miami drafting WR DeVante Paerker NO. 1 and 22.3% said they "liked" it. That 93.9% approval rating left only 6.1% voting "so-so," "disliked" or "hated."

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

April 29, 2015

It's Mock Day in Miami!; plus Mayweather/Winston boycott poll (vote now); also, new 'Weighing The Fish' leader, Dion Jordan, Ray Lewis on Baltimore riots, best UM/Dolphin result & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' best UM draftee poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dion Jordan = Bust: You could always have debated whether it was still premature to call Dion Jordan a draft bust. Until yesterday. Now the Dolphins' 2013 No. 1 draft pick has violated the NFL drug policy -- again -- and been suspended without pay for the entire 2015 season. His Miami career is effectively or should we say ineffectively done. Perhaps his NFL career is, too. What a shame. For the Dolphins, and also for the sad waste that Dion Jordan has made of himself.

1aa1alewisrayRay Lewis on the Baltimore riots: Lewis, the eloquent retired Raven and ex-Cane, speaks out strongly, angrily and passionately against the violence going on in Baltimore that has caused postponement of two straight Orioles home games and will case today's to be played in an empty stadium. Lewis agrees with me -- that the rioters and looters have no right to ruin that city. Outrage, no matter how justified, does not make right those actions. Picture is a still from the video Lewis posted on Facebook. Click here to listen and watch. Powerful.

1aa1amedraftIT'S MOCK DAY IN MIAMI!: [Update: Mock Draft has been completed and filed. Should appear online and in a new blogpost here momentarily] The NFL Draft begins with its first round Thursday night, and that 1aa1amockd
means I am holed up in the Miami Herald Mock Draft Emporium all day today seeing my mock materialize. Will Jameis Winston go No. 1 overall. Who'll be a Dolphin at 14th overall? How many (if any) Miami Hurricanes will be stamped 1R quality? This is my 24th annual mock draft for the Herald, and it should be online I hope by mid-afternoon today before splashing old-school into Thursday's inky pulp editions. Pictured at right: Me in mid-mock draft research. I'll have updates here on when today you can expect it online.

BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT? TALKING NFL DRAFT, MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO AND MORALITY: ESPN's Keith Olbermann, America's self-appointed Morality Policeman, calls for a fan/viewer boycott of the NFL Draft because of Jameis Winston's sexual-assault accusation and of the big Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny 1aa1akeithoPacquiao 1aa1amayjame
fight because of Mayweather's history of domestic violence. I offer a different view in today's latest column -- click on Booing Is Fine, No Boycott Needed to read in full. A boycott of the draft because of Winston is patently absurd, a gross overreaction. Winston, though investigated for sexual assault and the subject of an ongoing related civil suit, never has been charged with the crime let alone convicted. Does that still matter in this country? Innocent until proven guilty? Unless you are protesting stolen crab legs are other spasms of idiot behavior by Winston, your boycott is based on what you think was a crime event though the legal system did not. That's Quixotic, silly, unfair. A boycott of Mayweather at least is arguable. Why pay money to Mayweather to watch a man who has been convicted multiple times of domestic violence and served two months in jail for it in 2012? If you feel that way, fine. I just hate moralists like Olbermann implying I condone domestic violence or don't stand as tall for women as they do if I don't go along. Personally, I'll consider it money well spent if I shell out 90 bucks for the May-Pac fight pay-per-view and get to cheer Mayweather's first career defeat -- get to see him hit hard as symbolic payback for the times he raised his lethal fists to women. We all have a right to protest as we wish, and it doesn't always involve a bullhorn or a march or a boycott. I can boo Winston and hope he's a draft bust if I wish. I can boo Mayweather and hope he's knocked out cold. No boycott needed. How do you feel? Which of the four poll options here comes closest to reflecting your opinion? Vote and say why.

WEIGHING THE FISH (20 GAMES): We throw the occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweigh 1aa1agia2we debuted a new feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our second ranking. WTF is cumulative and factors six offensive categories. It serves as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best season or, in this case, who's off to the best start and who most needs to pick it up. Weighing The Fish after 20 games (at 8-12):

Rank Player                          WTF#    @10

1    Giancarlo Stanton             129.9    2

2    Dee Gordon                         120.4    1

3    Adeiny Hechevarria          116.6    4

4    Martin Prado                      88.0    5

5    Michael Morse                    73.4    3

6    Marcell Ozuna                    71.3    8

7    Ichiro Suzuki                      63.9    7

8    Jacob Realmuto                 53.4    --

9    Christian Yelich                 47.9    6

10  Jarrod Saltalamacchia      32.4    9

Poll result: From slim pickings, Olivier Vernon named Dolphins' best UM Hurricane draftee: We gave you our three finalists, and the defensive end Vernon won with 48.3 percent to 38.2% for offensive tackle Vernon Carey and only 13.5% for running back Lamar Miller.

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April 26, 2015

Who has been Dolphins' top Hurricanes draft pick? Poll. Vote now!; plus Sofia V topless, Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Fins draft, hot Fish, NBA, Fraser, May 2, pucks, Cuba, running, Jenner & more

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

1aa1asofia1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 27. Sofia Vergara topless in the current Vanity Fair. Just because. Click on image for enlarged version. 2) Thanks to MLB Radio Network's Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth for  having me on this morning to talk Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' top low draft-picks poll, Ron Fraser statue, Fins draft, Jose Fernandez citizenship, hybrid animals & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stanton avoiding rundown: Giancarlo Stanton avoiding that tag and sliding back safely to third may have been the key play of the game Sunday in the Marlins' fifth straight win. Click here to see it again. 

On the Dolphins draft: Click on Intrigue At 14 for my latest column, previewing the Dolphins first-round draft options. This is not considered a great NFL Draft overall but could be for Miami.

WHAT HAS BEEN DOLPHINS' BEST UM HURRICANE DRAFT PICK?: First let's admit the pickings are slim. 1aa1acanedol 1aa1adolcaneDolphins have drafted 17 Miami Hurricanes over the years but few have amounted to much. We considered Jay Brophy, Bobby Harden and Randal Hill for this poll but they didn't rise to the level of the three finalists who made it: Tackle Vernon Carey and current Fins Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon. In voting, you must decide if Miller or Vernon already have surpassed Carey's career here or likely will. Whose career (completed or projected) would you take? Vote now and say why.

Latest on Canes in draft: NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah puts out his latest Top 50 prospects list today and Hurricanes are ranked 27th (OT Ereck Flowers), 34th (LB Denzel Perryman) and 47th (WR Phillip Dorsett). Based on likely draft slot he has Perryman ranked too high and Dorsett quite a bit too low. In fact Dorsett to the Dolphins at No. 14 falls into the cone of possibility.

HOT BUTTON APR. 26: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins up 14th Thursday in NFL Draft's first round: Will Miami draft Breshad Perriman or another receiver even though it just signed veteran Greg Jennings? Regardless of position the Dolphins say they want draftees who love football and have heart and great passion for the game. In other words, everything that 2013 No. 1 pick Dion Jordan seems to be lacking.

2. MARLINS: Five straight wins buoy Redmond, Fish: Five straight wins, the last three over Washington to begin nine-game homestand, have saved manager Mike Redmond from the firing line for now. Still, Fish need newly minted U.S. citizen Jose Fernandez back on the mound almost as much as Jeffrey Loria needs patience.

3. NBA: Cavs, Warriors, Wizards advance in lopsided first round: Cleveland and Washington joined Golden State in advancing past first-round with sweeps, and three of five series still in play are lopsided at 3-0 or 3-1 entering Monday's action. "Check  back with me next round, maybe," said Game 7.

1aa1afraser statue4. RON FRASER: Statue of UM baseball icon unveiled: UM dropped two of three at home to FSU,  but bigger news was the Ron Fraser bronze-statue unveiling. Miami Herald considered commissioning a statue in honor of Greg Cote, reconsidered, and settled on a bobblehead.

5. MAY 2: Countdown 6 days 'til sports' mega-doubleheader: Next Saturday we have the Kentucky Derby kicking off horse racing's Triple Crown season and the Mayweather-Pacquaio fight to rival biggest events ever in boxing. I'm calling it "The Greatest Day In Sports History Not Involving A Ball."

6. NHL: Six of eight first-round playoff series decided: Six of eight opening-round series included all four in the West are over. Canada will have two teams (Calgary, Montreal) in the next round in bid to celebrate its first Canadian Stanley Cup win since 1993. "We know it won't happen," said Canada, "but we can dream, eh?"

1aa1acubanba7. NBA/CUBA: Silver admits "oops" on not informing Heat: NBA commish Adam Silver admitted he erred not advising Miami beforehand of league's plans for four-day goodwill trip to Cuba this week. His punishment should be listening to a roomful of Cuban-exile Heat fans share their thoughts on Fidel Castro.

8. BOSTON MARATHON: City and spirit win again: An Ethiopian man and a Kenyan woman won the 119th Boston Marathon, but everybody knows it now. Ever since the 2013 terrorist bombing, it is Boston's resolve and spirit that will always finish first, just ahead of whomever wins the race.

9. RUNNING: Record throng for annual Miami race: Almost 28,000 runners representing almost 900 companies flooded downtown Miami streets for the 30th Mercedes-Benz Corporate 5K Run. For the 30th straight year the race's best time was recorded by some idiot barreling past the runners in a Mercedes.

1aa1abrucej10. BRUCE JENNER: Former Olympic hero reveals he is becoming she: Former Olympic gold-medal decathlete Bruce Jenner officially revealed he is transitioning to a woman, effectively becoming America's new most prominent transgender. Hey nothing lasts forever, Chaz Bono.

Missing the cut: Dolphins regular-season schedule set; Tim Tebow signs with Eagles; Panthers' Aaron Ekblad an NHL rookie-of-year finalist; Cowboys' Greg Hardy suspended 10 games.

Poll result: Thomas, Clayton top Dolphins' all-time late-round draft finds: We gave you our choice of Miami's 12 best draft picks from the fifth round or lower and invited you to pick the top four. Your had it LB Zach Thomas with 25.4 percent, WR Mark Clayton 25.3%, S Jake Scott 16.0% and RB Jim Kiick 7.1%.

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April 21, 2015

NFL schedule day: What is Dolphins' sexiest non-division home game? New poll. Vote now; plus Heat 1st-round pick, Tebow, Riley/LeBron, Mike Redmond, Fins draft verdict, favorite Tweets & more

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

No radio today: Not doing my regular Tuesday in-studio gig with the Dan LeBatard Show today because I'll be attending the Bob Dylan concert in Fort Lauderdale. I'll be on-air Thursday this week instead.  

1aa1aloveteeth1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 21. Saw this window decal today. Somebody loves their dentist, their teeth or their devotion to dental hygiene to a rather bizarre degree. 2) Happy 89th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II. Let's do lunch soon. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pat Riley column, Dolphins draft poll, 4/20, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Latest Mayweather/Pacquiao odds: Via Bovada today, it's now Floyd Mayweather Jr. the favorite at 10-21 odds for their May 2 fight, with Manny Pacquiao at 17-10.

"If Tim Tebow makes the Eagles opening-day roster I'll walk from Miami to Gainesville pulling a 19th Century-style Conestoga covered wagon." --Greg Cote

Trust Riley ... except when he says he's made peace with LeBron: I trust Pat Riley to have the Heat winning big again. I trust him, period, except when he told me directly that he has "absolutely, yes" made peace with the way LeBron James left Miami. Click on In Riley We Trust for my latest column, off yesterday's Riley state-of-the-Heat postseason press conference.

NFL HAS 3-HOUR SCHEDULE SHOW TO TELL US WHAT IS ALREADY SUBSTANTIALLY KNOWN: If corporations can be a genius, the NFL is a genius. No sports league markets itself better. It used to be that the Super Bowl and the draft were the NFL's only national holidays. The draft grew to three days. 1aa1adolhelThen they began to televise the annual scouting combine. Now they televise the announcement of the regular-season schedule. Seriously. That's tonight at 8 p.m. on NFL Network. It's a three-hour show. Three hours! To announce something that is mostly already known! Every team and its fan already know who every 2015 opponent will be. Tonight simply sets the order, filling in exact dates and kickoff times. Big deal. Minor details. Dolphins fans, for example, already know that the five non-division home games will be vs. Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis and the New York Giants, and that the five non-division road games will be at Jacksonville, Philadelphia, San Diego, Tennessee and Washington. Dolfans also know that the six home-and-away series games vs. AFC East foes Buffalo, New England and New York Jets will include an Oct. 4 date vs. the Jets in London. That was supposed to be Miami's home game, meaning the the Fins will have only seven actual home games this year, and travel nine times. Anyway, I'm curious what to you is the sexiest non-division home game on this year's schedule -- the one you're most looking forward to. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Wide receiver should be Dolphins' No. 1 pick: We asked what position Miami should target in upcoming NFL Draft and you had it 44.7 percent for wide receiver, 22.0% cornerback and 13.8% linebacker. The other 19.5% voted "something else."

ARIZONA SWINGMAN PROJECTED AS HEAT FIRST-ROUND PICK: Arizona Wildcats' Stanley Johnson (pictured), a 6-7 small forward who also has played shooting guard, is projected as the Heat's first round 1aa1astanleyjohnsondraft pick (10th overall) by ESPN's Chad Ford in his latest mock draft. Ford's synopsis: "The Heat's future is very much up in the air this summer. Dwayne Wade, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng can opt out and Chris Bosh's health is still a major question mark. Drafting for need probably isn't the smartest move. Johnson would be a nice fit regardless of what the others do. He's one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft, can play the 2 and the 3 and he's a fierce competitor. He can back up both Wade and Deng if they come back, or take a starting role if one of them (likely Deng) decides to leave." My addendum: Wade isn't going anywhere, Heat is highly confident of re-signing Dragic and equally confident in Bosh's full recovery, although Deng departing is a possibility. Not as sure Johnson is NBA-ready. He turns 19 May 29.

1aa1amikeredMARLINS: RED'S LAST STAND?: Marlins manager Mike Redmond, "Red" to his friends, red-faced by a 3-10 start to the season, may be fighting for his job in the three-game series in Philadelphia starting tonight. After suffering a four-game sweep at the Mets, a three-game sweep by the lowly Phillies could doom Redmond. For me it's too soon to have any manager on a firing line, but owner Jeffrey Loria never has led the league in patience. The turnaround needs to start soon. Tonight, por favor? (By the way, Jack McKeon is 84 now. Don't go there!).

MY BIGGEST TWEETS OF PAST 12 MONTHS: I had a curiosity and a few minutes' free time so I researched my most popular Twitter entries of the past year, based on number of combined re-Tweets and times favorited listed as "total" below. Here are the Top 10 Tweets:

Total  Date         Subject synopsis

449    6-14-14    Why is great pass in soccer always a "lovely ball"?

362    2-19-15    No confirmation yet, but blood clot feared on Bosh lung

340    5-10-14    Michael Sam kisses boyfriend after drafted (photo)

269*  4-20-15    Pot smokers get baked on 4/20 ... and every other day (*-as of this a.m.)

211    7-1-14      Prideful World Cup run ends for U.S.

154     8-7-14     ESPN suspends LeBatard, his reaction 

154    2-19-15    Heat gets Dragic, Riley wins again

150    4-14-15    LeBatard vs. Cain Velasquez (video)

131    3-3-15      LeBatard wears horse's head (video)

127    4-7-15      Mocking backpack wearers (video)

Others topping 100: 122 on 6-20-14 for "Let's Goooo States!" (video); 111 on 2-24-15 for prosthetic nose day at LeBatard show (video); and 107 on 1-13-15 for Canes snap Duke's 41-game home win streak.

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April 18, 2015

NBA playoffs begin! Preview, picks and who-wins poll. Vote now!; plus Record Store Day, Dolphins preseason details, debut of new Marlins blog feature 'Weighing The Fish,' Fins cast as Star Wars 'Greedos,' Mayweather-Pacquiao & more

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


1aa1arecordsstoreday1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 18. Today is national Record Store Day, championing the cause and comeback of vinyl and the indie shops that are its main purveyors. Vinyl sales last year were the highest in 20 years, and growing. Find an indie store near you and explore! 2)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kiper draft picks for Dolphins/Hurricanes, rooting-for-LeBron poll, Aaron Hernandez verdict, Back in My Day audio, LeBatard vs.Cain Velasquez & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adolphwarsDolphins preseason details: Club announced specific dates and kickoff times today. The schedule: Aug. 13 at Chicago 8 p.m.; Aug. 22 at Carolina 7 p.m.; Aug. 29 vs. Atlanta 7 p.m.; and Sept. 3 vs. Tampa Bay 7 p.m. Pictured right, the Dolphins logo and helmet reimagined with the Rodia Greedos character from Stars Wars by by Mexican artist John Raya. Click on pic for enlarged image.

Mayweather-Pacquiao and Miami: Watch this video and hear Floyd Mayweather confirm that his upcoming May 2 megafight vs. Manny Pacquiao would never have happened if the two hadn't run into each other at a Heat game in Miami on Jan. 27. (Which pretty much makes that the best thing to come of this Heat season).

Click on Awful Decisions And 1.5 Miles for my latest column, on the Aaron Hernandez verdict.

1aa1anbaposNBA PLAYOFF PREVIEW, PICKS FOR ALL EIGHT SERIES: Miami is unqualified for the first time since 2008 and yet the NBA has the temerity to go on with its postseason. Four series begin today and the other four Sunday. Our first-round capsules:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1aa1aatl
1-Atlanta vs. 8-Brooklyn:
Game 1 Sunday 5:30 p.m. Hawks 12-1 title odds via Bovada, Nets 250-1. ESPN experts panel likes Hawks, 18-0. Me: Al Horford, Jeff Teague and "faceless" ATL won't be tested much in this round. Pick: Hawks in 5 games.

1aa1acle
2-Cleveland vs. 7-Boston:
Game 1 Sunday 3 p.m. Cavaliers 11-5 for title, Celtics 150-1. ESPN panel picks Cavs, 18-0. Me: LeBron James and company have way too much firepower for the popgun Celtics. Pick: Cavaliers in 4.

1aa1achi
3-Chicago vs. 6-Milwaukee:
Game 1 today/Saturday 7 p.m. Bulls 14-1 for title, Bucks 250-1. ESPN panel likes Bulls, 18-0. Me: Mediocre Milwaukee won't stay in this if Derrick Rose can manage his first healthy playoffs since 2011. Pick: Bulls in 5.

1aa1awas
4-Toronto vs. 5-Washington:
Game 1 today/Saturday 12:30 p.m. Raptors 50-1 for title, Wizards 75-1. ESPN panel likes Raptors, 13-5. Me: See a Longshot Bowl upset by D.C. gang led by guards John Wall, Bradley Beal. Pick: Wizards in 7.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1aa1ags1-Golden State vs. 8-New Orleans: Game 1 today/Saturday 3:30 p.m. Warriors 2-1 for title, Pelicans 150-1. Me: Steph Curry vs. Anthony Davis fills a marquee pretty good. But did I mention GS is 39-2 at home? Pick: Warriors in 5.

1aa1ahou2-Houston vs. 7-Dallas: Game 1 today/Saturday 9:30 p.m. Rockets 16-1 for title, Mavericks 40-1. ESPN panel likes Rockets, 16-3. Me: A motivated James Harden and a healthy Dwight Harden will be too much for Mavs. Pick: Rockets in 6.

1aa1alac3-L.A. Clippers vs. 6-San Antonio: Game 1 Sunday 10:30 p.m. Spurs 15-4 for title, Clippers 16-1. ESPN panel likes Spurs, 16-3. Me: Feeling an upset by Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and rebounding machine DeAndre Jordan. Pick: Clippers in 7.

1aa1amem4-Portland vs. 5-Memphis: Game 1 Sunday 8 p.m. Grizzlies 28-1 for title, TrailBlazers 50-1. ESPN panel likes Grizzlies, 19-0. Me: Yes on The Griz but Portland is being underestimated and will push this series hard. Pick: Grizzles in 6.   

POLL: WHICH TEAM IS YOUR PICK TO BE NBA CHAMP?: Las Vegas sets odds to reflect its estimation of public perception and then moves the line if needed to reflect actual betting trends. Based on that there is no clear favorite in the NBA playoffs that 1aa1acurryjamesstart today/Saturday -- but there are three teams clearly out front. Cleveland and Golden State, generally seen as co-favorites, and San Antonio, are those teams. The fourth-best odds show a sharp drop to Atlanta and Chicago. So Mr. Vegas is feeling a LeBron James vs. Steph Curry final but also showing much respect for the playoff-tested oldies of Tim Duncan. Curry and James are pictured. Not much love for the beast-of-the-East Hawks, who could attract lots of wagering action as the under-regarded, disrespected 'dog. Who would you anoint as the favorite as the playoffs begin? Not who you hope wins but who'd bet actually will. In the poll I list the seven teams with the best odds, plus an "other" category covering the longshots. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Very little rooting interest for you in Miami, LeBron: With the Heat out of it, we asked if you would now be rooting for LeBron James to win the NBA title, and it was 58.0 percent "no" vs. only 15.2% "yes. The other 26.8% said they no longer care who wins.

NEW BLOG FEATURE: WEIGHING THE FISH (10 GAMES): We throw the occasional bell 'n whistle into 1aa1adeegordon
1aa1afishweighthe blog, and today we debut a new feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- will be a once-every-10-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Nine qualify for our first ranking. WTF is cumulative and factors six offensive categories. It serves as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best season or, in this case, who's off to the best start and who most needs to pick it up. Early leader Dee Gordon is pictured. Weighing The Fish after 10 games (at 3-7):

Player                          WTF#

Dee Gordon                   86.8

Giancarlo Stanton         74.8

Michael Morse              60.5

Adeiny Hechevarria     57.8

Martin Prado                 54.6

Christian Yelich           52.8

Ichiro Suzuki                44.4

Marcell Ozuna              39.7

Jarrod Saltalamacchia  34.9

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April 02, 2015

Who are best athletes of past 20 years? 20 names; you pick top 5. Poll. Vote now!; plus Canes/NIT, Heat/Panthers playoff chase (updated), dead Cats, Ricky Williams' singing debut (w/ video), Marlins, Fins cheerleaders & more

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

It's Radio Thursday!: My usual Tuesday gig was delayed to Thursday this week so I'll be in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 2. Departed Brian Hartline bought a billboard to thank Dolphins fans. Classy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Final Four polls, Heat/Panthers playoff update, ageless wonders Wade and Jagr, Dolphins draft, Larranaga at NIT, Bieber roast & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Bumper sticker: 'Honk If You're Bored By Pointless, Premature Guesswork On What Teams Might Or Might Not Do In the NFL Draft'.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat holding on, Cats needing miracle. Update entering ThursdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 34-40 (L1), 2 1/2 games from 6th and 0 games (tiebreaker) from 8th with 8 games left (next tonight at Cleveland). Heat playoff likelihood: 74.5% (down 2.0) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 35-42 (L1), 3 points from 9th and 6 points from 8th with 5 games left (next tonight vs. Carolina). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.7% (unchanged) per sportsclubstats.com.

TOP 20 ATHLETES OF PAST 20 YEARS: PUTTING ESPN'S LIST IN RIGHT ORDER: ESPN.com marks its 1aa1atop20 1aa1atop20grath20th anniversary this week not only with a needless website redesign but also by ranking the Top 20 athletes of 1995-2015. All sports, and not just American athletes. You can read the story and see the list here. But I am interested in how your order might differ from ESPN's. In this poll -- the longest one we've ever had in this blog -- I list all 20 athletes, but alphabetically, not in ESPN's order, so as not to prejudice the jury. Please step back to take an historic view. Consider how the athlete dominated his or her sport and stands in its all-time estimation. Vote for your top five (5) and check back often for evolving results as we put a Miami spin on ESPN's order.

Deciphering the vote: In this poll, 20 percent would be a perfect-score vote if everyone voted for the maximum five athletes. Any total over 20% would indicate some are voting for only that person. Multiply an athlete's vote total by five for fair estimation of percentage of ballots that are including that athlete.

CANES-STANFORD FOR N.I.T. TITLE! BUT...: Jim Larranaga's Miami men face Stanford tonight 1aa1acaneshoopsat Madison Square Garden for the NIT championship after beating Temple in the semis. It's nice the Canes reached the final, win or lose. They have made the most of being passed over for the NCAA Tournament. But let's tap the brakes on what this means. Larranaga said a couple of days ago: "I hope our players realize the opportunity they have because whoever cuts down the nets on Thursday night, it's going to be winning a national championship." Hmm. Well... Really? The problem with the NIT is it's so clearly the "other" postseason tournament, the one you are relegated to if you don't get invited to the one you want. It would be great if UM won. An accomplishment, yes. But one worthy of "national champion" talk and a parade? Sorry. No.

1aa1adeadcatCATS DEAD ON ICE: Call it. It's over. This week's blown-lead 3-2 loss at Boston was a season killer for the Florida Panthers (see Playoff Chase above). The Cats are now six points off pace for the final playoff spot with five games left, their chances now negligible. Florida probably must finish on a 5-0 run (all at home, starting tonight) and then hope Boston and Ottawa both crash to even have a small chance. Otherwise this would make it the 17th non-playoff year in 21 franchise seasons. Hasn't been a terrible season by any means. Just not good enough.

Poll result: Kentucky, Duke the Final Four picks: We asked for your Final Four predictions, and you went Kentucky by 67.3 percent over Wisconsin and Duke by 67.5% over Michigan State. Thought both favorites, especially UK, might draw a larger margin.

EX-DOLPHIN RICKY WILLIAMS EMBARKS ON SINGING CAREER: Ever on a mystical journey of self-enlightment, Ricky Williams' latest life detour has led him to a recording studio. Williams, 37, is now barely recognizable after gaining about 85 pounds (see below) since his playing career after being diagnosed with acute munchieitis. And he again is wearing his hair in dreadlocks as he embarks on a musical career. Williams formed a duo he calls P.M. Dawn, explaining that the name stands for Post Miami, "and represents the dawn of a new morning on the beachhead of my life." The duo was signed to Gee Street, a boutique subsidiary of Def Jam Records, and has been recording at Noegnud Studios in northern California. "I don't sing the songs. The songs sing me," said Williams in a recent interview in Vibe. The sound is trippy, R&Bish with a hip-hop flavor. "Williams' sultry, breathy vocals score a touchdown!" raves Billboard in a new review. Williams' first single is called "Looking Through Patient Eyes." The video for it below begins with an introspective Williams seen walking on a beach, his eyes enigmatically covered by a dark lace veil:

 

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR MARLINS: The good news? In an ESPN The Magazine survey of MLB 1aa1abb25players, the Marlins finished first with 25 percent to the question, "Which team will be the 2014 Royals?" -- meaning the team that unexpectedly makes the playoffs. The bad news? The Washington Nationals, Miami's NL East roadblock, finished first with 30 percent to the question, "Who will win the World Series?" Update: Marlins are unchanged at 33-1 to win World Series (tied for 16th) in latest Bovada odds. However, the over/under on Miami wins has inched up from 81.5 to 82.5.

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URGENT DOLPHINS CHEERLEADERS NEWS:
 We here at Greg Cote's Random Evidence blog feel duty-bound to keep you abreast of Miami Dolphins cheerleaders news, and so we would note that the troupe recently embarked on a Norwegian cruise to Nassau, St. Maarten and St. Thomas for a photo shoot for their 2016 calendar. Pictured, courtesy the Dolphins: Two artsy photos taken on the cruise. The site of the photo shoot is the latest evidence of the club's concerted effort to grow the Dolphins brand in the Caribbean. Supposedly several cheerleaders got hammered one night on the cruise and crammed nude into a hot tub, to the howling delight of other passengers. NO IT ISN'T TRUE! I totally made that up. That did not actually happen. To our knowledge.

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February 23, 2015

ESPN's Great Analytics Rankings: How Dolphins, Heat, Panthers and Marlins rate on use of new-age info; plus get-well campaign for Bosh, Dan Marino, Daytona 500, fight verdict, Oscars review & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 p.m. on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 ESPN Radio. Ears welcome. (And eyes, on the national-show webcast...)

1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pacquiao-Mayweather poll, Hot Button Top 10, Dragic debut for Heat, Oscar snorts coke & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stuck in the middle with you: Those six words are more than a 1972 song by Stealers Wheel. They describe the position of So-Fla sports fans, as I explore in today's latest column. Click on Border Town to read. Heat and Panthers clawing just to make playoffs, UM men's basketball on NCAA Tournament bubble, Dolphins and UM football stuck in mediocrity, Marlins improved yet not a betting pick for playoffs ... everywhere you look, our teams are better than bad but maybe not quite good enough.

Corner to Fins in first round?: For what it's worth, USA Today's new, post-Scouting Combine mock draft has Miami selecting Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes. My comment: That's be a great, but it's doubtful the draft's top CB will still be around at No. 14.

MIAMI TEAMS FALL SHORT IN ESPN ANALYTICS RANKING: ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com are calling 1aa1aanalyticsit "The Great Analytics Ranking" and it is now on The World Leader's website; click here. (Illustration shown is from the magazine). ESPN rated all 122 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams on how it judged "the strength of each franchise's analytics staff, its buy-in from execs and coaches, its investment in biometric data and how much its approach is predicated on analytics." Teams were slotted in one of five tiers: All-In, Believers, One Foot In, Skeptics and Non-Believers. The Dolphins, Heat and Panthers all rated in the middle ground of One Foot In, while the Marlins are in the bottom rung of Non-Believers. Here is ESPN's synopsis (minimally condensed by me) of each Miami team:

DOLPHINS: Owner Steve Ross and GM Dennis Hickey have become proponents of analytics, and new VP Mike Tannenbaum is a recent convert. Ross is heavy user of analytics in his real estate business and has been frustrated by its relative infancy in NFL. In summer of 2014 team hired Dennis Lock, who holds graduate degree in statistics, to head a football analytics group. At same time Dolphins announced hiring of sports science analyst Dave Regan, and in September, Tom Pasquali, with a graduate degree in applied statistics and experience in Yankees front office, joined Lock's staff. Tannenbaum said in January he planned to hire a "sports performance director" and acknowledged, "We have a long way to go, but we started something in terms of trying to give ourselves a competitive advantage." Miami has monitored player health for several years, and coach Joe Philbin has altered practice schedule to improve sleep habits by becoming only coach to give players Thursday off. But Philbin focuses on game film far more than stats, and it remains to be seen how well he'll use Miami's burgeoning analytics department.

HEAT: When analytics skeptics point out that coaches have been using numbers for decades, Heat president Pat Riley is commonly cited. As coach of Lakers, Riley famously devised his own efficiency rating for players. He passed that interest to protégé and coach Erik Spoelstra, who speaks the language of analytics. Riley devised a system the Heat still use to grade each defensive possession based on 54 criteria, focusing on the process of executing the team's system rather than results. Evaluations are done by Brian Hecker, Miami's director of basketball information technology, who gets the pertinent numbers to Spoelstra. In addition to lineup data, Spoelstra also has relied heavily on a simulation model developed by analyst Bob Chaikin. He has worked for Heat since 2008, following stint as consultant for team during 1990s, when Riley first arrived as coach. "I look at [stats] to evaluate our team, to compare us to other teams, particularly defensively," Spoelstra told NBA.com in 2011. "I also use it to make points to the team about things we need to improve. I use it also for scouting." Riley's fondness for statistical analysis doesn't seem to have carried over to his personnel work as team president. Miami has regularly punted valuable draft picks in favor of stacking bench with fading veterans. Heat's success, including three titles in past decade, has made it easy to justify sticking with an old-school approach. To get back to that level, Miami's front office may have to embrace details like analytics and international scouting that have gone neglected.

PANTHERS: The Panthers were wise to pick Brian Macdonald as team's director of analytics last summer, although they still have a skeleton crew compared to some other teams around league. Integrating him into team's decision-making has been a season-long process because of when he was hired, and his impact may not be felt until next season. "Anywhere there is data in this organization, I've tried to get my hands in it a little bit," Macdonald said. "That includes the business side of things now, also. The past couple months, I've been doing more business than hockey."

MARLINS: Marlins have a small, tight-knit baseball operations department that has shown very little interest in analytics. Team president Michael Hill was a two-sport athlete at Harvard, but like GM Dan Jennings, is a former player with a background in player development and scouting. The job of keeping the Marlins aware of analytics trends falls to director of baseball ops Dan Noffsinger, a longtime staffer who majored in applied math and economics at Harvard. Noffsinger has good reputation but a broader, less technical skill set than the leading sabermetricians being hired by other organizations. In a sign that Marlins might be ready to change their ways, they are looking to hire their first analytics interns this year to get their program off the ground.

HEAT INVITES YOU TO WISH BOSH WELL: Everything is so organized now. For example the Heat on
1aa1acbgetwellMonday (prior to beating lowly Philly at home) unveiled a getwellcb.com website to encourage fans to send best wishes to Chris Bosh, who will miss the rest of this NBA season as he undergoes treatment for blood clots in his lungs. Not sure the prompting was needed. Great player, great guy. Everybody rooting for Bosh. (He'll be on blood thinners probably at least through May, but is expected back fully for next season's training camp).

1aa1adanteesoffIT'S (STILL) GOOD TO BE DAN MARINO: Dolphins icon (and ambassador and now front-office consultant) Dan Marino tees off during his second annual Marino & Friends Bahamas Weekend event, as a deployed small battalion of the team's cheerleaders stand in the background looking all cheerleader-y. (The excellent photo is courtesy the Miami Dolphins). The Marino event isn't a fundraiser but rather a cross-promotion in which the Dolphins grow their brand in the Caribbean while the Bahamas promotes itself as a tourist destination.


IT WASN'T THE DAYTONA 500 NASCAR NEEDED:
 A race should not end under a caution flag. Start 1aa1ajloganothere. So it was the antithesis of a thrilling ending in NASCAR's season opener Sunday as Joey Logano (pictured) coasted to the finish. In NASCAR's dream it would have been fan favorite and defending champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. and retiring Jeff Gordon duel-barreling to the checkered flag. Or maybe Tony Stewart finally ending his Dayton jinx. Nope, just Logano under a yellow flag. NASCAR, reeling from the domestic-abuse suspension of Kurt Busch, could have used a result that wowed fans in one of its signature events. Didn't get it. That's racin', I suppose.

Poll result: Hoping Pacquiao wins but predicting Mayweather: We asked your feelings on the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight and it was split. Most hope Pacquaio wins, 56.5 percent to 23.4%. But most predict Mayweather will win, 57.9% to 22.0%. (The other 20.1% said they have no interest in the fight).

THE ACADEMY AWARDS REVIEW: Sunday's Oscars telecast may or may not still be going on. The Big 3 winners were Birdman (best picture with Michael Keaton), Eddie Redmayne (actor for The Theory of Everything) and Julianne 1aa1abirdmanMoore (actress for Still Alice). Admit it: No other Oscar category really matters that much except to the winner. Admit it II: You'd never 1aa1abirdheatheard of Eddie Redmayne, either, before last night. Evening lowlight: Host Neil Patrick Harris in his underwear. Admit it III: Against high expectations, NPH wasn't all that good. Summary: Boyhood

took 12 years to make and one night to pretty much ignore. Quick aside: While watching a film called Birdman, 1aa1abirdraphow must Chris Andersen and Bryan Williams feel? Andersen of course is the popular Heat reserve nicknamed Birdman. Williams is better known as the rapper whose stage name is Birdman, co-founder of Cash Money
records. I'm no lawyer but think the two Birdmen pictured at right should sue the movie for royalties. Speaking of the Heat and movies, I cannot confirm that How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the story of how an NBA team works to integrate newly arrived Goran (Dragon) Dragic into its lineup.

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