June 30, 2018

When an American newspaper covers its own tragedy. On the Annapolis murders; plus MLS Miami's pitch-perfect approach to marketing (latest column), World Cup odds for 16 teams still standing & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 30. Farewell, June. You did your best. 2) Want to surprise the Dolfans in your life? Check out our 'Fins At 50' book on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Variables that could favor Dolphins, defending the 305 as a sports town, Greg Norman wearing only a hat, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

CapitalON THE NEWSPAPER MURDERS IN ANNAPOLIS: Sorrow this week for the five victims killed and others wounded by the gunman who Thursday shot up the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md. Strength to their loved ones. The five killed: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. (Hiaasen was the brother of Miami Herald columnist and author Carl Hiaasen). I won't name the human excrement who has been charged in the murders, a man who reportedly had a vendetta against the newspaper. The fear moving forward: That the next assault on journalists might be politically motivated as blatant attacks on the First Amendment and unjustified disparaging of journalists continues to spew from the White House. The president of the United States cannot continue to relentlessly, egregiously and unfairly portray journalists as "fake news" purveyors, as the enemy of the people, and not expect that might eventually result in violence. At right: An American newspaper covers its own tragedy.

BecksMLS MIAMI'S MARKETING IS PITCH-PERFECT -- AND RIGHT FOR THE TIMES: The David Beckham group's emerging strategy to sell Major League Soccer in Miami is perfect. But it is more than just right for this particular market. It is right for the times. It is a reminder for America. Inclusiveness. Diversity. Open arms. The principles that once made us who we were, principles that seem to be slipping away, are being encouraged by MLS Miami. No, embraced. That is the theme of my latest column. To read it in full, click MLS Miami Says All Are Welcome. Beckham is pictured at right. Our two other most recent columns from this week: 7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town.

Other recent columns: Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours. Also: End the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinTannehill's Defining SeasonHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris.

BrazilKNOCKOUT STAGE: WORLD CUP ODDS FOR THE FINAL 16 TEAMS: [Update: France today eliminated Argentina, 4-3]. As knockout games begin today, prediction website FiveThirtyEight.com offers percentage likelihoods of the final 16 teams winning the World Cup, with Brazil (at 25 percent, its shield pictured) and Spain (20%) the clear favorites. Next come Belgium at 9%, France and England both 8%, Croatia 6% and Argentina and Portugal both 5%. The real longshots are Colombia, Uruguay and Switzerland all 3%, Sweden 2% and Denmark and host Russia both 1%. Mexico and Japan are given a negligible trace below 1%. Quick aside: FiveThirtyEight.com seems to have landed on its feet despite telling us for months, right up to election day, that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump. 

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye. (For our most recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 19, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): After a week when tragedy overshadowed everything in sports; plus column on Derek Jeter's decimation of Marlins as spring training begins & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19. The Dolfans in your life don't know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Stoneman Douglas tragedy with column and GoFund Me page & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Derek Jeter's Marlins as spring training begins: He can spin it and try to justify it any way he wishes, but Derek Jeter's massive Marlins salary dump is a betrayal of public trust. The Marlins are tanking because the new owners have put the bottom line above the product on the field and above the paying customers. To read my latest column, click: Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season

My column on Stoneman Douglas shooting tragedy, ICYMI: Seventeen were killed last week in a shooting spree at Parkland's Stoneman Douglas High carried out by a coward with an assault weapon, a deranged former student who'd been expelled. Something like this, by the way, is why I, unlike most sports writers, never use words like 'tragedy' or 'disaster' to describe a knee injury or an awful season. This is a tragedy. For my column, click: Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hot1. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Mass shooting at local high school kills 17: Seventeen innocents were murdered at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in a mass shooting that stunned the sports world as much as it did the rest of us. The perpetrator: A 19-year-old former student with an assault weapon who is now in custody. Another tragedy wrought by a deranged mind with a military-grade killing machine. The United States shames itself by continuing to allow these weapons to be sold.

2. HEAT: Slumping Miami hanging on at All-Star break: Heat has lost seven of past eight, is 1-2 since Dwyane Wade's return and has fallen to 8th place in the East. All-Star Weekend in L.A. came as a welcome diversion, with Goran Dragic in the main game Sunday, scoring two points in 11 minutes off the bench in a 148-145 Team LeBron win, after Wayne Ellington did Saturday's 3-point contest. Heat are off 'til Friday, at New Orleans.

3. MARLINS: Fire-sale Fish begin spring training for real Monday: What's left of the Miami Marlins opens spring training for real with Monday's first full-squad work up in Jupiter, with the first spring game only four days later. And -- other than new owner Derek Jeter being a colossal disappointment by trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in a massive salary dump -- it's been a great offseason!

4. OLYMPICS: Winter Games into final week in South Korea: Entering Monday's play Team USA was tied for fourth in gold medals won and tied for sixth in total medals won. Are we OK with that, or are we jingoists crestfallen because America should be No. 1 in everything and at all times?

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men's program cleared in FBI probe: Canes men have lost three straight and are back out of the Top 25 after Saturday's home loss to Syracuse. The good news? The UM program -- linked before season to FBI national probe of recruiting corruption -- went a long way to being cleared when charges were dropped against the AAU director accused of funneling money from Adidas to persuade one player to sign with Miami. Wonder if FBI sent Jim Larranaga an "Oops. Sorry, our bad" Hallmark card?

6. PANTHERS: Hot Cats inching up in playoff chase: The good news? Panthers have won seven of past eight games after Saturday's win at Calgary and have within six points of playoff pace. The bad news? Six down is still a lot, and 12th in the East means a lots of teams to still climb over with only 26 games left.

7. UM BASEBALL: Jim Morris' final season underway: It was Play ball! Friday in a season-opening weekend home series for 24th-ranked Canes baseball vs. Rutgers -- UM taking two of three games. Miami is trying to return to NCAA playoffs after missing last year for the first time in four decades. This is the 25th and last season for Morris, who'll then retire. His Canes teams have reached 13 College World Series and won two. Three would be a charm for the coach in the No. 3 jersey.

8. NASCAR: Vroom! Dillon takes Daytona 500 in season opener: Austin Dillon won Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 -- leading only on the final lap. The emotional tug came from the season starting without retired Dale Earnhardt Jr., and from Danica Patrick running in her final Daytona 500.

9. HURRICANES: UM football sets spring dates: Hot off a national top-10 recruiting class, Canes announced spring practice would commence March 20 -- highlighted by Malik Rosier trying to fend off challengers in an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Meanwhile, coach Mark Richt will host an "All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experience" at Hard Rock Stadium on February 24. Visit AllProDad.com for more.

10. SOCCER: Champions League matches continue: The 32-team UEFA Champions League continues toward its May conclusion with matches Tuesday and Wednesday including club giants Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United. You are following this avidly or not at all. No in-between, sorry.

Missing the HB10 cut: The weekend "Monster Truck Jam" wraps up Sunday at Marlins Park. Turns out it looks even more ridiculous in person than it does on TV ..... Headline: 'Arizona male cheerleader booted from arena for heckling Arizona State during basketball game.' Ah, sportsmanship! ..... Fox News host Laura Ingraham blasted LeBron James for his criticism of Donald Trump, essentially tell LeBron to "shut up and dribble" just like the president's aides told her to.

POLL RESULT: OPINIONS OF JETER 'VERY UNFAVORABLE': We asked, "What is your impression of the job Derek Jeter has done so far as CEO of the Miami Marlins?" And it was 75.58 "very unfavorable." the other three categories -- very favorable, somewhat favorable and somewhat unfavorable -- all tied with 8.14%.

AccordinionDEAR GREG...: "Dear Greg, Your blog's OK but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of a street musician playing the accordion while dressed like a giant creepy rodent-type thing and staring menacingly at the camera. Thank you." Dear Reader, I would but where on Earth am I going to find something like that!? Please be a little more reasonable with your requests in the future.

Select other recent columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 17, 2018

Derek Jeter can spin it as he wishes, but he has betrayed public trust in decimating Marlins. My new column, and a Jeter poll; plus the Stoneman Douglas tragedy. My column, how you can donate to victims' fund & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17. Click on Strange Signs! for the latest Back In My Day video from this week's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 2) The Dolfans in your life may not know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes vs. Arkansas State--The Court Case, latest Dolphins draft guess, Black History Month video, Flynn the bichon frise' & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

JeterMY BLISTERING NEW COLUMN ON DEREK JETER'S BETRAYAL OF THE PUBLIC TRUST: As Marlins spring training begins with Monday's first full-squad work in Jupiter, I write that the new ownership's payroll-slashing decimation of the team overshadows the season after a dispiriting winter in which Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon all were traded. Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter have been a colossal disappointment in putting financial considerations above the product on the field and above their paying customers. To read my entire column, click: A Betrayal of Trust By Jeter Against Marlins Fans.

NOW YOUR TURN: POLL ASKS HOW JETER IS DOING: OK I have had my opinion. Now you have yours. Vote now...

DouglasOFFICIAL GOFUNDME PAGE FOR DOUGLAS VICTIMS & FAMILIES: The fund, set up earlier today by the Broward Education Foundation, had raised about $200,000 toward a $300,000 goal in only its first two hours. Wednesdays' mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland killed 17 and wounded more than a dozen others. To donate, here is the official page: GoFundMe/StonemanDouglasVictimsFund.

MY COLUMN ON THE PARKLAND SCHOOL TRAGEDY: To read, click: Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

This week's previous columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. And our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade.

Select other recent columns: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Also: Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 24, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Dolphins camp? El Clasico? Kyrie Irving? Marlins? Paradise Camp? Spieth? O.J.? See who's No. 1 and what falls where; plus our Sunday column, your Kyrie-to-Heat trade verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 24. Almost Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kyrie Irving-to-Heat trade poll, O.J.'s parole, Brady jersey tops in Florida, your LeBron/Wade-back-to-Heat verdict, The List (Marlins HRs) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Sunday column: The magnitude of El Clasico Miami: How big is it that Miami is hosting the first El Clasico --Barcelona vs. Real Madrid -- ever held in the United States? This big: It could be the biggest soccer game ever played in America, or at least the biggest since the Brazil-Italy final of the 1994 World Cup held in Pasadena, Calif. And it could be the biggest sporting event, from a global view, ever held in South Florida, exceeding even Super Bowls. Click on World-Sized Spectacle to read.

ICYMI: Our column on O.J. Simpson's parole: Simpson, now 70, was paroled and in October will be set free after serving nine years in prison for armed robbery, but he'll forever be guilty of the public's conviction he got away with murder in the '90s. Click on Paroled But Not Free to read.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SOCCER: El Clasico Miami headlines huge week: The annual International Champions Cup rocks Hard Rock Stadium bigger than ever with Juventus vs. Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday and then headliner Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, El Clasico, on Saturday.  Added drama decorates the week, with Ronaldo very questionable to make the trip for Real Madrid and with Barcelona star Neymar reportedly about to sign with PSG. We just hosted the MLB All-Star Game, but guess what. Worldwide, El Clasico is bigger.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins set to open full training camp: After Dolphins rookies reported last week, the full squad reports for training camp in Davie on Wednesday, with the first practice scheduled for Thursday. Team has very high hopes of making playoffs again, but Vegas' low expectations (7.5 over/under on wins) beg to differ. Somebody's dead wrong, but who?

3. HEAT: Kyrie Irving, Wade speculation keep things interesting: Heat re-signed Udonis Haslem (of course); meanwhile, amid speculation Dwyane Wade could end up back in Miami this season at a bargain rate, Cleveland all-star Irving is asking for a trade with the Heat among places he'd like to land. Cancel that vacation, Pat Riley. No such thing as an offseason. Go to work!

4. MARLINS: Fish on road as trade deadline looms: Marlins following a lousy 1-5 homestand are in midst of a six-game road trip as talks to sell the team continue and the July 31 trade deadline nears. Fish already have dealt Adeiny Hechavarria and David Phelps for prospects. No fire sale ahead (we hope), but more deals coming.

5. O.J. SIMPSON: Notorious ex-NFL star wins parole: His parole means O.J. will be out of prison in October after serving nine years for armed robbery. Of course most people continue to think he got away with double murder in the '90s, a steadfast belief from which he remains permanently ineligible for parole.

6. GOLF: Spieth wraps up British Open triumph in England: Branden Grace set a majors-record-low 62 on Saturday but it was Jordan Spieth in the ultimate with a 3-shot victory. This is the oldest major in golf. The first British Open was in 1860. I was there. I recall it being windy that day.

7. HURRICANES: ACC vote, Paradise Camp make big week for UM: Canes football held its annual Paradise Camp, a brilliant Mark Richt invention in which ex-UM stars return to mingle with recruits and Richt falls backward off a 10-meter diving board. Meanwhile ACC media members anointed UM to win the Coastal Division. Even scarier than Richt's backward dive? Facing FSU. 

8. CYCLING: Froome win as Tour de France (finally) ends: Brit Chris Froome (rhymes with zoom) won his fourth Tour de France on Sunday as cycling 's crown jewel ended along the Champs-Elysees. No PEDs, either. That we know of.

9. SOCCER: U.S. men reach Gold Cup final: U.S. beat Costa Rica 2-0 last night to reach the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Yanks will face Jamaica, surprisingly, not Mexico, for the title Wednesday night in Santa Clara, Calif. "Let's gooooo States!"  

10. POKER: New Jersey man wins WSOP main event: Scott Blumstein, 25, of Brigantine, N.J., on Sunday won the World Series of Poker final table in Las Vegas and its $8.15 million grand prize. "I can do that, too!" dreamed a million millennials, 999,999 of whom are laughably wrong.

Missing the HB10 cut: Lavar Ball pulled his Big Ballers AAU team off the court Saturday and forfeited the game after he was called for technical foul, confirming to the few remaining doubters what an ego-driven moron he truly is ..... Did I dream it or did it actually happen? Was it Michael Vick who counseled unemployed Colin Kaepernick to cut his Afro? ..... Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns in scandal related to his calls to an escort service. He claimed a "misdial." America snorted laughter and said in unison, "Yeah, right!" ..... Did you watch the WNBA All-Star Game yesterday? Yeah, me neither ..... Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor are annoying even when not speaking ..... Roger Federer hadn't won a major since 2012 and was nearing hasbeen-hood before Wimbledon last week gave him two this year. See, Tiger, there may be hope for you yet! ..... Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Pudge Rodriguez are set for baseball's Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown next week. No offense, but that's a bit low-watt on the starpower, no? ..... Feds are reviewing the endangered species status of the Florida panther, with only 230 or so thought left on earth. Even more rare: Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Finals ..... The state granted Miami's Magic City Casino permission to replace its dog races with jai-alai matches. "Damn!" said one of the greyhounds. "And just when I was finally gaining on that !@#$ing rabbit!"

POLL RESULT: VERY STRONG SUPPORT FOR PROPOSED KYRIE IRVING-TO-HEAT TRADE: We asked, "Would you want the Heat to trade Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving and Channing Frye?," a deal that would be workable based on ESPN's Trade Machine. You said: "Yes" 67.9 percent, "No" 21.5% and "Nit sure" 10.6%. (You may still vote in the previous blogpost).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-24-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Texas, 8:05 p.m.: Fish begin second leg of 6-game road trip.

2. FINA World Championships, 11:30 a.m.: Major swimming event goes on in Hungary.

3. Int'l Champions Cup, underway: Lyonaisse vs. Nanjing soccer in China.

Select other recent columns -- Don't Hold Your Breath: On chances LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat: Venus Williams' Wimbledon run. Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsVerdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up BigHome Run Derby Is KingMiami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing ItThere Should Be A Place For IchiroThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceWhat's Next, Marlins? NFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 22, 2017

A proposed 5-player trade that brings Kyrie Irving to Miami Heat. Would you do it? New poll. Vote now; plus Tom Brady wins Florida, O.J.'s parole, your LeBron/Wade-back-to-Heat verdict, The List (Marlins HRs), Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Dolcover1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 22. The Dolphins chose a group celebration for the cover of their newly minted 2017 Media Guide (pictured), rather than singling out any one player. Could be to underline the 'no-I-in-team' concept. Might also be that team has no one obvious face of the franchise at the moment. 2) For this week's "Greg Cote Tuesday" podcast from the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, click here. 3) Almost Dolphins time. Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Likelihood LeBron/Wade play again in Miami with polls, ex-Dolphins and Hurricanes in All-Time NFL Draft, good and bad news in Canes ACC vote & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: O.J. Simpson paroled, but he'll never be totally free: Simpson, now 70, was paroled Thursday and in October will be set free after serving nine years in a Nevada prison on an armed robbery conviction. But he'll forever be guilty of the public's conviction that he got away with double murder in the '90s, and for that he is ineligible for parole. Click on Paroled But Not Free for my latest column.

Good and good by Marlins on trade, Heat on re-signing U.D.: Two of our big teams done good with personnel moves Thursday. The Marlins trading reliever David Phelps to Seattle for four prospects was smart. The Fish farm system is  bare, under-talented, and needs the infusion. And the Heat re-signing veteran Udonis Haslem for a 15th season was right. A captain and leader, U.D.'s role and value on the team is far, far beyond minutes played or points scored.

KirvingPROPOSED KYRIE IRVING-TO-HEAT TRADE: LIKE IT? VOTE NOW!: You know that Cavaliers all-star point guard Kyrie Irving (pictured right) is seeking a trade and has listed Miami among four preferred destinations, along with San Antonio, Minnesota and New York. There are many reasons why Irving landing on the Heat likely would not happen. 1) Cleveland might not oblige to trade him. 2) Cavs are free to trade him to a team not on his wish list. 3) Irving reportedly prefers the Spurs, and Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns are pushing hard on behalf of the Timberwolves. Also, because Irving wants out in order to become the focal point and get out from under LeBron James' shadow, acquiring Irving would seem to lessen any chance LeBron might end up back in Miami as early as next summer. BUT! If Irving-to-Heat did have any shot at happening, here is the deal that would work in terms of the salary cap and contract exchanges, according to ESPN's Trade Machine:

HEAT GET: PG Kyrie Irving, PF Channing Frye.

CAVALIERS GET: PG Goran Dragic, SF Justise Winslow, PG Tyler Johnson.

I would make that trade. Frye at 34 is a role player and a throw-in on this deal, but in Irving you are getting a four-time all-star in his early prime at age 25, a guy coming off career-high 25.2-point scoring and a 40-percent 3-point shooter. He's a shoot-first, pass-second point guard, but maybe that famous Heat "culture" can balance that a bit. As for what you're giving up, Dragic is very good, but Irving is better. Winslow still could have a promising future but in two seasons has shown mixed results. Johnson is about to get pricey for a guy coming off the bench. So, would you make the above trade if you were the Heat? Take a dip in our poll and vote now.

SAY IT AIN'T SO, FLORIDA! TOM BRADY'S IS STATE'S TOP-SELLING NFL JERSEY: As Dolphins rookies reported for training camp this week, we bring you shocking news. OK, maybe not that shocking. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- the man most responsible for keeping a thumb on the Miami Dolphins and Dolfans' dreams -- has the No. 1 selling-NFL jersey in the state of Florida, according to most recent sales at nflshop.com (see map; click on image to enlarge). Brady is tops in Jerseystate17 states, but who'd-a believed F-L-A would be one. Nationwide, the top five-selling jerseys are Marshawn Lynch, Brady, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Deshaun Watson.The latest top five at Dick's Sporting Goods are Brady, James Conner, Elliott, Prescott and Carson Wentz. (Conner is the Steelers rookie running back and cancer survivor; he ranks 11th on the NFL's sales list). How to explain Brady winning the state of Florida? 1) He is such a national star, at a glamour position, for a great team, that he surely moves jerseys in every state. 2) There isn't a ton of competing starpower from state players, Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In Dick's national top 50 in sales, Dolphin Jarvis Landry ranks 25th and QB Ryan Tannehill is 33rd, while the Jags' Leonard Fournette is 45th and the Bucs' Jameis Winston is 50th. That suggests Landry likely is making a run at Brady within the state. I think we'll start to see Fins RB Jay Ajayi turning up on some of these lists. 

POLL RESULTS: FAIR OPTIMISM ON WADE RETURNING TO HEAT, MUCH LESS ON LEBRON: We asked, in separate polls each offering four choices, "Will LeBron James or Dwyane Wade every play for the Miami Heat again?" On LeBron: Yes 6.7 percent, Decent chance 7.2%, Small chance 26.8% and No 59.3%. On Wade: Yes 31.2%, Decent chance 23.3%, Small chance 23.3% and No 22.3%. Combining the Yes and Decent-chance votes, LeBron returning had only a 13.9% optimism factor compared to 54.5% for Wade.

THE LIST: MARLINS BEST HOME RUN TRIOS: Entering Saturday play, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (30), Marcell Ozuna (23) and Justin Bour (21) had combined for 74 home runs -- projecting statistically to a combined season total of 128. We wondered how that would compare with the best power trios for one season in franchise history. Answer: It would be on top. Easily. Most combined homers by three Marlins in one season:

Year    HRs    Players

2017   128    Stanton/Ozuna/Bour projected total

2008    97     Ramirez 33, Jacobs 32, Uggla 32

2007    94     Cabrera 34, Uggla 31, Ramirez 29

1996    85     Sheffield 42, Conine 26, White 17

2004    83     Cabrera 33, Lowell 27, Gonzalez 23

2003    82     Lowell 32, Lee 31, Encarnacion 19

2005    82     Cabrera 33, Delgado 33, Encarnacion 16

Note: Marlins team record for most homers in a season is 208, set in 2008. The 2017 projected total is 189.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 7-22-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. U.S. vs. Costa Rica, 10 p.m.: Gold Cup soccer semifinal in Arlington, Tex.

2. Marlins at Cincinnati, 7:10 p.m.: Fish continue 6-game road trip.

3. Int'l Champions Cup, 6 p.m.: Juventus-Barcelona, then PSG-Tottenham at 8.

4. British Open, underway: Third round of golf's oldest major.

5. WNBA All-Star Game, 3:30 p.m.: Rare national spotlight, on ABC from Seattle.

Select recent columns -- Don't Hold Your Breath: On chances LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat: Venus Williams' Wimbledon run. Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsVerdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up BigHome Run Derby Is KingMiami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing ItThere Should Be A Place For IchiroThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceWhat's Next, Marlins? NFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 24, 2015

Who's Next: Stanton or Tannehill? New poll. Vote now!; plus Grantland on Dolphins, Al Golden's Kumbaya Manifesto, Kaaya and ex-Cane honored, Cosby or O.J?, Marino-Wade/Riley-Shula verdicts, U.S. men's shame, 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

1aa1ariquna1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 25. Nice honors for a Hurricane and ex-Cane: Brad Kaaya is one of 30 named to preseason Manning Award watch list for nation's top college QB. And Riquna Williams (of Tulsa Shock, pictured) becomes first Cane ever named to WNBA All-Star Game. 2) Dolphins announced undrafted rookie offensive tackle Mickey Baucus out of Arizona will retire. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's Greatest polls: Marino vs. Wade and Riley vs. Shula, experts analyze/rate Tannehill, Golden speaks, MLS-in-Miami enthusiasm verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

"Martin Van Buren died 153 years ago yesterday. Wasn't a great U.S. president, but is credited with popularizing the word OK, also spelled O.K. or okay."  --Greg Cote

1aa1adandonPoll results: Shula beats Riley, Marino edges Wade: In the ultimate Miami Greatness heavyweight bouts, we asked who has had the greater career in South Florida, and the two Dolphins stalwarts withstood the two Heat challengers. Dan Marino edged Dwyane Wade for greatest Miami athlete by 52.7 percent to 47.3%, while Don Shula beat Pat Riley more easily for best coach/executive, 59.9% to 40.1%. Wade and Riley led early in voting but could not sustain that momentum.

WHO'S NEXT: STANTON OR TANNEHILL: In my latest column I propose that Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill stand out among current Miami pro athletes 1aa1adolmarlwith the best chance to someday reach the Dan Marino/Dwyane Wade echelon of all-time great and beloved South Florida sports stars. No that they will; that they have a shot. Click on Race For The Mountaintop to read the full column. Stanton can do it with sheer home-run power and awesome individual skills. Tannehill's path is to end a four-decades-plus drought and deliver to Dolfans another Super Bowl championship. Am curious which of these two rising stars you think -- 10 years from now -- has a better chance to be judged in that Marino/Wade company. You'll note the poll includes no option for "Neither" or "Somebody else," because we're simply wondering which of these two leading candidates has the better chance. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Advice for Marlins, Dolphins: Click on Right Time To Be Smart Sellers for this week's earlier column on the Marlins at the trade deadline, and on Get The Missing Piece for our call for the Dolphins to sign free agent guard Evan Mathis.

THREE DOLPHINS MAKE GRANTLAND'S TOP 100 PLAYERS: ESPN's respected Grantland offshoot names its Top 100 current NFL players, and Dolphins on it are DT Ndamukong Suh (26th), CB Brent Grimes (67th) and DE Cam Wake (86th). Thought Suh might be a bit higher. In the rest of the AFC East: the three Patriots to make it are QB Tom Brady (4th), TE Rob Gronkowski (14th) and S Devin McCourty (46th). The three Jets are CB Darrelle Revis (12th), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (38th) and DL Sheldon Richardson (71st). Four Bills make it: DT Marcell Dareus (39th), DLs Kyle Williams (74th) and Mario Williams (85th) and RB LeSean McCoy (90th). Top five overall are Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, J.J. Watt, Brady and Peyton Manning.

ON AL GOLDEN's 'KUMBAYA MANIFESTO': Miami Hurricanes football, around the corner now, is coming off a 6-7 season, lost seven top players to the NFL Draft and is forecast for another six-win-type season 1aa1aalgoldenbased on Vegas over/unders. Reasons for encouragement? Quarterback Brad Kaaya, for one. Also, a
wide-open (read: winnable) ACC Coastal Division, and an experienced defense despite the attrition. I think UM could be a pleasant surprise. Coach Al Golden's preseason mantra interests me, though. He's all about the intangibles, embodied by his saying, "We have one heartbeat now." I coin the phrase "Kumbaya Manifesto" because Golden boasts of a "very team-oriented group," mentions "a lot of trust" and "a bond." Stresses stuff like "focus" and "accountability." (Many may know that Kumbaya is an old spiritual song that has come to stand, somewhat cynically, for a 
naively optimistic view of a situation or of human nature). Golden, pictured at 17, showed a predilection for touchy/feely in his high-school yearbook quote: "Each dream in your heart lies within reach if you just believe in yourself." There have been implications that last year's 6-7 Canes disappointment was due at least partly to a team not believing in itself, a team suffering from selfishness and a lack of leadership -- and Golden has sought to make clear that such cancers have been eradicated. We'll see how important that is. A tight lockerroom and a team singing Kumbaya in harmony is good. Adequately replacing Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett and Denzel Perryman is even better.

 

FALL FROM GRACE POLL: COSBY OR O.J?: We were debating this on the radio show Tuesday, with fair argument on either side. Has celebrated football star O.J. Simpson or beloved actor Bill Cosby had the bigger, more notorious fall from grace? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

1aa1ajkU.S. MEN EMBARRASS AMERICA: Just a couple of weeks after Americans celebrated the U.S. triumph in the
Women's World Cup, the U.S. men's team shamed itself and American soccer fans Wednesday night in a 2-1 Gold Cup semifinal loss to underdog Jamaica. The squad of coach Jurgen Klinsmann, pictured, had the home field advantage (game was in Atlanta), a near flawless history vs. the "Reggae Boyz" and allegedly the better team -- all for naught. U.S. men had slipped to No. 34 in the FIFA World Ranking even before last night. The notion they might duplicate the women's international success anytime soon seems ludicrous today, alas. (Mexico beat Panama in the other Gold Cup semi, thanks to an outrageous Call of God penalty-kick gift).

WEIGHING THE FISH (90 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this 1aa1afishweighyear we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race drawn somewhat closer by the Stanton and Gordon injuries. The numbers below might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 90 games (actually 95 at 40-55; oops yet again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @80

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                324.7    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   279.6   3

4  Christian Yelich        228.2   6

5  Jacob Realmuto         222.1    7

6  Martin Prado              216.1   5

7  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   4

8  Justin Bour                 191.1   8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              157.5   9

10  Michael Morse          112.4   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 6, Gordon 2.

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

May 18, 2015

Dolphins sign Tannehill long-term; plus do you approve of Marlins firing Redmond? Poll. Vote now!; also Jennings new Fish manager, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Garo Yepremian dies, SoFla Super Bowl poll, LeBatard ranked 11th, UM football, LeBron advances, Ted Wells'  mustache, Cote on $2 bill, B.B. King & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NBA Final Four odds: Via Bovada today, Golden State a 4-7 favorite to win the NBA title, with Cleveland 13-5. Longshots are Atlanta at 9-1 and Houston 10-1.

The Garo column: Click on Garo Yepremian, R.I.P. for my latest column.

Dee Train update: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .420 (63-for-150). Last game: 1-for-4 vs. ATL Sunday. Next: Tonight vs. ARI.D

1aa1aryantDOLPHINS COMMIT LONG-TERM TO TANNEHILL: The Dolphins today extended the contract of quarterback Ryan Tannehill by four years, through the 2020 season. Originally under contract for two more seasons, the sides renegotiated a six-year deal reportedly worth $96 million, with almost half of it ($45 mill) guaranteed. The long-term, high-dollar extension is not a surprise, although the timing of when it would occur was not certain. The sides were smart to get it done well  before summer training camp. The commitment and big bucks also increase the onus on Tannehill to lead a playoff season in 2015.

MARLINS NAME GM JENNINGS TO REPLACE FIRED MANAGER REDMOND: [Update: Click on Loria's Wild Ride for today's new column by me, on the Marlins' latest managerial move another sign of owner Jeffrey Loria's impatience and lack of firm direction]. The Marlins, 16-22 and fourth place in 1aa1adanjenthe NL East, fired manager Mike Redmond after yesterday's 6-0 home loss to the Atlanta Braves. Bench coach Rob Leary was dismissed, too. The Marlins were swept by the Braves to begin a 10-game homestand and were almost no-hit, breaking it up with two outs in the ninth. Even more surprising than Redmond's dismissal, the team today announced it has replaced Redmond with its general manager, Dan Jennings (pictured right), who has never managed or coached beyond the high school level. Do you approve of firing Redmond not quite one-quarter into the season? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

HOT BUTTON MAY 17: 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. GARO YEPREMIAN: Iconic Dolphin passes away: One of the most beloved and unique characters in club history, the Dolphins' 1970s kicker died late Friday at age 70 after battling brain cancer for about a year. He'll forever be a part of franchise folklore, with only one word required: Garo.

2. MARLINS: Fish, in midst of long homestand, fire manager: Miami is three games into a 10-game homestand and 0-3 after nearly being no-hit Sunday -- after which manager  Mike Redmond was let go. Team is mired in fourth place in division so we accentuate the positive: Dee Gordon, .420. Giancarlo Stanton, 11 homers. Steve Cishek, benched.

3. NBA: Houston completes league's Final Four: Rockets hosted and beat Clippers Sunday afternoon to avance vs. Golden State in Western finals, while it's LeBron James and Cleveland vs. Atlanta in the East. Going to be weird hearing all those "Let's go Hawks!" chants in Miami the next week or two.

4. HORSE RACING: America Pharoah does it again; Triple Crown in play: Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah overcame rain and a muddy track to win the Preakness Saturday, meaning the sport's first Triple Crown since 1978 will be in play at the Belmont in three weeks. This is when Americans who don't know a furlong from a fur coat pretend they're into horse racing.

5. DEFLATEGATE: Patriots, Brady fighting four-game suspension: The latest: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to hear Tom Brady's appeal, the NFLPA says no way, and the whole thing seems headed to a nasty court fight. NFL: National. Football. Litigation.

6. TERRORISM: Boston Marathon bomber sentenced to death: A Boston jury sentenced Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev to the death penalty for his role in the 2013 terrorist bombings. Unfortunately, the over/under on appeals is being measured in years, not months.

7. HEAT: Draft lottery is Tuesday night: Heat has a more than 80 percent chance to have the 10th overall pick. What a difference a year makes. Past four seasons Miami is steaming to the NBA Finals. Now Miami is hoping a bunch of ping-pong balls bounce just right.

8. HURRICANES: UM baseball opens ACC tournament: A terrific regular season has coach Jim Morris' Canes ranked No. 8 nationally and seeded second in the ACC Tournament starting Wednesday in Durham, N.C. UM carries 12-game win streak into postseason. Ending it now would be awful timing, indeed. 

9. NHL: Four still skating in Stanley Cup playoffs: New York Rangers are up 1-0 on Tampa Bay in Eastern finals, and Anaheim is up 1-0 on Chicago in the West finals. Anything seems possible in the NHL playoffs, except, as usual, a Canadian team playing for the championship.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins, South Florida ready Super Bowl bids: Continually passed over lately but with a renovated stadium now in play, South Florida bids to host upcoming Super Bowls at this week 's league meetings in San Fran. This is very important to Stephen Ross and to SoFla tourism officials. Dolfans only care about hosting a Super Bowl if their team is in it.

Missing the cut: Sepp Blatter and the FBI, WNBA suspensions, Isiah Thomas running women's team, ESPN and Bill Simmons, French Open nears.

Poll result: Great disagreement on importance of Miami hosting a Super Bowl: There was close to an even split between those who thought it was "very important" Miami host a Super Bowl (39.3 percent) and those who thought it was not important unless the Dolphins were in it (38.1%). The other 22.6% called hosting "somewhat important."

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

May 09, 2015

Would you have booed or cheered A-Rod's 661st HR? Poll. Vote now!; plus Tom Brady suspension poll, Fins lose and win, offensive Cavaliers video, 2016 NFL mock draft (no, seriously), sombrero verdict & more

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

1aa1amaytbe1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 9. 1) Floyd Mayweather (pictured) models the new T-shirt his company has put out. Isn't modesty supposed to be a virtue? Furthermore, there are zero boxing historians not on his payroll who'd agree with the message. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Deflategate report implicates Patriots, D-Wade at the Met Gala, sombrero poll, heat on LeBron, local firm sues Pacquiao, new Super Bowl/MLB odds, appreciating Dee Gordon & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins lose, win: The loss? Offensive lineman La'el Collins, whom Miami wooed heavily, signing instead with Cowboys. The win? Having all seven draft choices signed already. Although that's not nearly as big a deal or impressive as it once would have been. Once NFL rookie salary cap kicked in, holdouts became extremely rare.

Offensive Cleveland Cavaliers video: Cavaliers are rightly catching lower-case heat for airing an in-game video being criticized for making light of domestic violence by depicting a Cavs fan throwing his wife/girlfriend across a room for wearing a Bulls jersey. Click here to watch, cringe and wonder who's getting fired today for approving this. Update: Team issued apology for video. Update II: Last night's playoff loss to Bulls and 2-1 series deficit gives Cavs bigger concerns.

1aa1ahassanWhiteside 4th in 'most improved': Out-of-nowhere Heat center Hassan Whiteside finished a distant, disappointing fourth in NBA "most improved" voting with 88 points, trailing winner Jimmy Butler of Bulls (535), Warriors' Draymond Green (200) and Jazz's Rudy Gobert (189).

WOULD YOU HAVE CHEERED OR BOOED A-ROD'S HISTORIC HOME RUN?: [Click on This Is The Cost for my latest column, on how one of the casualties of the Steroids Era is that what should be great baseball moments -- like A-Rod's milestone home run -- become awkward embarrassments for the game]. Original post: Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez's 661st career home run passed legendary Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time 1aa1aarodhrlist Thursday night, but of course the accomplishment is tainted. He sat out the entire 2014 season for steroids use, not his first admission of PEDs. It is not a stretch to think the number 661 is artificially juiced. The Yankee Stadium crowd gave A-Rod a curtain call but even he admitted afterward, "I certainly thought the days of curtain calls for me were long gone. I was a little embarrassed and it was a little awkward." I wonder what the reaction on the road would have been -- or should have been. Say it happened at Marlins Park. Do you appreciatively and respectfully cheer a major historic accomplishment? Is forgiveness in play? Or do you boo a man who clearly cheated to get that record? You would have done what? Vote and say why.

DOLFANS EXPECTING MAJOR BRADY SUSPENSION MAY BE DISAPPOINTED: Click on Is 'Probable' Guilt Enough? for my column on the Wells Report's Deflategate conclusion and what it might mean in terms of NFL punishment of the Patriots and QB Tom Brady. It bears further discussion and amplification 1aa1abradytomhere because I suspect Dolphins fans are expecting -- wrongly, I think -- that the league will bring the hammer down on the Patriots and especially Brady. I won't pander to Dolfans and say otherwise; plenty of others to do the pandering. Three factors by my vantage weigh against a major suspension: 1) Weak, equivocal findings. The report concluded it was "more probable than not" that Brady was at least "generally aware" of the improper activities. "More probable than not" isn't exactly definitive. Will the NFL bring the hammer down on its league champion and star QB based on "maybe"/"likely"? 2) Brady's clean record other than Deflategate. Note that Brady was not implicated or disciplined in the 2007 "Spygate" matter that aimed the hammer at coach Bill Belichick. 3) Did the rule-breaking affect results? No indication it did, certainly not in an AFC Championship Game the Colts lost, 45-7. So, what next? Certainly there will be punishment. The current climate under commissioner Roger Goodell all but assures it. No way the NFL spends time and money on a 109-day independent investigation and then doesn't act on it. Owner Robert Kraft and Belichick are not implicated and very likely won't be disciplined. However the club likely will be fined substantially and be made to forfeit a draft pick that I doubt is a first-rounder but could be. The big question is Brady's punishment. I wrote that I wouldn't suspend him at all based on "probable," but the likelihood may be a small suspension -- based as much on his lack of full cooperation in the Wells investigation as on its findings. I just don't buy the overreaction I am hearing, including Colin Cowherd predicting a "severe" punishment. And the speculation about a possible full-season suspension? Ludicrous. For what it's worth the odds on Brady's punishment via footballbettingcenter.com are: 1 game--2/1 odds; not suspended at all--5/2; 2 games--5/2; 3 games--8/1; and 4-plus games--15/1. If I'm right, and if those odds are, Dolfans and many in the media calling for a major suspension may be disappointed. I'm curious what you think would be fair discipline of Brady. It may be futile, but I challenge Dolfans here to not vote for the discipline they'd prefer for a nemesis/rival, but rather to dispassionately consider the discipline they'd think fair if roles were reversed and, say, the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill were the accused here. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

AQUINAS LEADS NFL HIT PARADE: NFL announced that Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas High was only high school in nation with three players drafted this year: Phillip Dorsett, Rashad Greene and Bobby Hart. Fourteen schools had two players drafted including Miami Central, Norland and Northwestern. Florida led all states this year with 39 former prep players.

IT'S A 2016 NFL MOCK DRAFT. NO, SERIOUSLY: Blame ESPN's Todd McShay for redefining "premature." I'm just passing it along in digest form. His order is based on Football Outsiders' projected team records. The good news? The Dolphins finish 11-5. Woo hoo! Todd's overall No. 1 pick is Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, to the Redskins. Miami, picking 29th, takes Alabama RB Derrick Henry. No Hurricanes in the first round. Also notable, Ohio State DE Joey Bosa -- from St. Thomas Aquinas High and son of ex-Dolphins draftee John -- goes third overall.

Poll result: You may wear a sombrero guilt-free: We asked if it was OK to wear a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo just for fun, and 82.2 percent said yes. Another 8.3% said no because it's insulting to Mexicans, and 9.5% were undecided.

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.

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

April 20, 2015

Trust Pat Riley ... except when he says he's made peace with LeBron. My new column; plus what should Dolphins target in draft? Poll. Vote now!; also Hot Button Top 10 (updated), 4/20, your pick for NBA title & more

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

1aa1aapril4201) It is MONDAY, APRIL 20. It's 4-20, the unofficial national holiday when marijuana devotees celebrate their love of cannabis by smoking weed ... just like they do every other day of the year, but with a tad more ceremony today. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA playoffs preview and poll, Weighing The Fish (10 games), Dolphins preseason & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

TRUST PAT RILEY ... EXCEPT WHEN HE SAYS HE'S MADE PEACE WITH THE WAY LEBRON LEFT: My column off today's Riley postseason State of the Heat news conference is now posted online and you'd click In Riley We Trust to read it there. We posted it in advance here in its entirety, including an interesting, barely disguised shot at LeBron James, a passage underlined for emphasis below. The photo is by me from the news conference:

1aa1arileyme      Pat Riley just turned 70. His hair has gone a natural silvery gray. He is at a point, in life and career, when a man begins to hear his mortality clock ever louder, to a point that reminders from elsewhere are neither required nor appreciated.

      "People always are trying to make me older than I am," he mused with a small smile Monday in his annual season-ending State of the Heat news conference. "They’re trying to ask me, ‘Why are trying to stay around this game?’ I love the game. I love competition. I love the challenge of building this team again."

      Riley is an NBA lifer in his 46th year in the league, and planning for his 21st season in Miami. He may be a newly minted septuagenarian, but he is convinced he has another championship ring -– at least one more -– in his future.

      Do you doubt him?

      We don’t trust much in South Florida sports or have a lot of faith right now, do we?

      We don’t trust Jeffrey Loria owning the Marlins.

      We have doubts about Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

      We see Panthers hockey forever trying our patience.

      We feel eroding confidence in Canes football coach Al Golden.

      There isn’t a lot at the top of our sports marquee that has earned our unequivocal trust.

      But Riley has.

      By his tenure and titles, by his track record, the wily Silver Fox has earned every confidence that the injury-marred, playoff-less season just past was a blip, an outlier. In the triumvirate of Riley, owner Micky Arison and coach Erik Spoelstraa, the Heat continue to be the unrivaled model for Miami sports.

      "I challenge myself more than anybody else," he said, "to make sure what happened this year doesn’t happen again."

      Do you doubt he is up to the challenge?

      One year earlier, though in June, after Miami’s loss in the NBA Finals, Riley’s theme had been to pointedly challenge LeBron James to stay, saying, "You have to stay together if you got the guts. You don’t find the first door and run out of it."

      Twenty-two days later James found the door marked ‘Cleveland’ and ran out of it.

      Monday, Riley obviously was alluding to James and the timing and manner of his departure when he referred to having "no more smiling faces with hidden agendas" to deal with this time. Pressed on that he attempted a fast back-track by saying he could have meant "anyone across the board," though it was obvious who he meant.

      I later asked Riley directly if he is at peace with the way James left.

      "Yes, absolutely," he said. "I’m at peace with it."

      I think he was being smarter than he was truthful. In any case Riley is wise to set aside if not bury the LeBron animus, at least publicly, and portray a man not lamenting, but looking forward.

      There is much to look forward to.

      Center Hassan Whiteside, forwards Chris Bosh and Luol Deng and guards Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic -– that is a starting five you can win with. With good health, and added depth including another 3-point shooter or two, that is a starting five you can contend with.

      "You would like to have seen that team intact for just one game," Riley said. "We didn’t get to see that. It was a real disappointing year in terms of setbacks."

      Riley portrayed being able to re-sign Dragic as a near-certainty.

      "If he doesn’t sign, my ass is going to be in that seat next year and I’ll be writing," he joked, pointing at reporters. "We’re in a very good position to offer him more than anybody else."

      Dragic and Bosh are all-star caliber. So, still, is Wade, who has shown an ability to offset advancing age with efficiency. Whiteside could become a powerhouse, what Riley called "a formidable presence in the offense." Deng is the selfless do-it-all guy every team needs. The return of Josh McRoberts to the rotation will be big. Guys like Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem still fill a valuable role.

      There is little doubt that Miami –- even with all of the injuries and Bosh’s blood clots and the 30 different starting lineups -– still should have made the playoffs but for a late swoon.

      "I told Eric [Spoelstra] to go beat himself up for a week," Riley said, maybe half-kidding. "And if he didn’t want to, I’d help him."

      Riley remains a huge Spoelstra supporter and believer, but also an enormous asset.

      "I’ve been in that trench before," as Riley put it. "I see everything. He knows I see everything."

      The club’s president and architect has seen enough, and accomplished enough, that Heat fans should have little doubt he’ll see this franchise back into the playoffs next season, and soon back into championship contention.

      It is hard to not have doubts about many of our biggest South Florida sports teams right now.

      It is hard to trust and have faith in who is in charge and leading those teams.

      Pat Riley makes it easy.

1aa1adoldraftWHAT POSITION SHOULD DOLPHINS TARGET IN FIRST ROUND?: It's the night of April 30. Dolphins are on the clock at No. 14 in the first round. There are comparably talented and rated players available at the positions Miami has targeted. So, what to do? Wide receiver seems to be the position earmarked for Fins in a lot of early mock drafts and analysis. It's a glamour position -- though also won pretty well-stocked, by my eye. Would cornerback or linebacker be a smarter option? (Yes, guard also is a need, but no OG is seen as 1R-worthy this year). So you tell me. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Warriors, then Spurs your pick for NBA title: Golden State (37.3 percent) and San Antonio (31.6%) dominated third-place Cleveland (15.3%) when we asked who'd win the NBA championship. Hmm. Anti-LeBron bias, perhaps? Atlanta was a distant fourth with 6.2%.

HOT BUTTON APR. 19: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, newly updated. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NBA: No Heat, but NBA playoffs begin anyway: With Dwyane Wade and Miami on outside for first time since 2008, NBA playoffs began this weekend with LeBron James’ Cleveland and Steph Curry’s Golden State the betting co-favorites and both off to 1-0 series leads. Meantime, Miami somehow lost its playoff spot to Boston and Brooklyn even though it was 7-1 against them. "SMH," said Heat fans, shaking their heads.

2, MARLINS: Fish swept by Mets, rough start to season tests optimism: Dee Gordon is way-hot and Giancarlo Stanton set the club record for career homers, but little else has gone right in team's 3-10 after Sunday' loss and sweep by Mets. Miami doesn't play today. The ways things are going, Marlins will lose the off-day.

3. DOLPHINS: Fins ponder options as NFL Draft nears: Countdown is 10 days now until first round, with speculation growing that Miami likely will take a receiver or cornerback 14th overall. Then again, there also looms the anticlimactic possibility of a trade down.

4. LEGAL SYSTEM: Ex-Patriot Hernandez guilty of murder: Aaron Hernandez will serve life in prison, after jurors said they were “shocked” defense lawyer James Sultan admitted Hernandez witnessed the murder even though no testimony or evidence had placed him at the scene. Opposing defenses were seldom a problem for Hernandez, but apparently his own defense was.

5. NHL: Stanley Cup playoffs start without Cats (again): The hockey postseason is underway, and many experts see the New York Rangers as favorites to win their first Stanley Cup since 1994. That was one year after a team from Canada last won it all, a now-22-year drought for the birthplace of hockey. Modified national anthem to play at arenas during playoffs: Oh No, Canada.

6. BOSTON MARATHON: Iconic race is Monday, two years later: The 119th running will be today for the race struck by the 2013 terrorist bombing that killed three and wounded 264. The sentencing for convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins Tuesday. Is it too late to invent a sentence worse than death?

7. POLITICS: NBA visits Cuba this week: NBA will conduct a developmental camp in Cuba this Thursday through Sunday. That's against the Heat's wishes, on the face of it, although Micky Arison's Carnival cruise line would benefit greatly from an open port and tourism in Cuba.

8. GOLF: Next Tiger? Spieth wins Masters, electrifies sport: Jordan Spieth, 21, impressively won the Masters and immediately I saw a poll asking whether Spieth would shatter the record by surpassing 20 career major wins. Tap brakes, please. Talking 20 majors after No. 1 is like mentioning the Cy Young Award on Opening Day after the pitcher retires the side in the top of the first.

9. PANTHERS: Florida slotted for 11th pick: NHL draft lottery determined the Panthers will select 11th in the draft they will host in Sunrise on June 26, after the league rejected Florida's proposal that, this year only, the draft host gets the overall No.1 pick.

10. FIU: Golden Panthers wrap spring practice: FIU, seeking its first winning season since 2011, drew a couple of hundred fans for its Spring Game, which was only about 99,000 fewer than Ohio State.

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