May 02, 2016

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

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

Ichiro1) It is MONDAY, MAY 2. Happy new  month, all! 2) Ichiro's legendary status in Japan and the way he gives the Marlins a large footprint there is a major reason beyond baseball why he is in Miami. At right, an adoring fan's artwork. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dragic leads to Heat to next round vs. Toronto, Hot Button Top 10, grading Dolphins draft with poll, your verdict on Tunsil pick, history of South Florida Game 7s & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

It's Heat-Raptors in second round as Miami routs Charlotte behind Dragic, great D; plus new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): What Miami sports fans are talking about; also, grading Dolphins draft (poll; vote now!), complete history of SoFla Game 7's & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 2. Happy new  month, all! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Wildest 24 Hours: Heat survive on Wade Heroics, Dolphins draft with Tunsil poll, Marlins' Gordon suspended and UM/Fins draft lists & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, the latest, from Sunday's Game 7 victory. Curious Pick, Major Gamble, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick. Heat Has Bigger Concerns Than #BringBoshBack, off Miami's damaging Game 5 home playoff loss.

Find our grade-Dolphins-draft poll here below our Heat Game 7 preview and the latest Hot Button.

It's Heat vs. Toronto Raptors in second round!: Raptors held on to beat visiting Indiana last night 89-84. Toronto will own home-court advantage over Miami in a second round series that will begin Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Canada, eh? And the Heat's climb to an unlikely spot in the NBA Finals or a more plausible spot in the Eastern finals vs. (presumably) LeBron James and Cleveland just got steeper. Toronto is better than Indiana, point blank, and also owns the home court edge, whereas Miami would have enjoyed that edge over Pacers. Toronto won eight more games during the season than Miami and was 3-1 head to head. To quantify, for what it's worth, ESPN's Basketball Power Index gave Heat a 56 percent chance to advance past Indiana, but only a 32 percent chance vs. Toronto. Raptors oversized shooting guard DeMar DeRozan will be a handful. He scored 30, 33 and 38 vs. Heat in Toronto's three wins this year.

G7: HEAT 106, CHARLOTTE 73: DRAGIC's 25, BIG D CARRY MIAMI CONVINGINGLY TO NEXT ROUND: Convincing. That's the word for a 106-73 Game 6 home win. Miami awaits Toronto in the second round starting Tuesday night in Canada after Sunday's huge Game 7 win fueled by Goran Dragic's 25 points (in three quarters) and defense that limited the Hornets to 32 percent shooting. Click on Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat for my column from today's big win. ..... Original post: Game 7s are always fun. Today's 1 p.m. matinee downtown is far from the biggest G7 Miami has seen; only the first round, remember. Still promises drama, though, as Heat try to keep perfect their franchise record (13-for-13) of advancing in the playoffs when they've had a 2-0 series lead. It was Dwyane Wade
G7 Miachasaving Miami in Game 6 in Charlotte, his 23 points including two late 3's ... by a man who hadn't hit a 3 since December. "Dwyane feels most alive when the competition is at its highest and games feel like this," explains coach Erik Spoelstra. "You need to have veteran players that understand [playoff pressure] and can manage all the emotions and bring out their best." Miami's edge over young Charlotte in that category is why Heat is a 6.5-point favorite today. One key for Miami today could be the health of rookie Josh Richardson, who is questionable with a shoulder strain. He often leads team in minutes off the bench and can be a shut-down defender. His would be a big absence. Miami also figures to need someone besides Wade to step up offensively today. His 34-year-old bones are bound to be tired after playing at night, traveling and then playing at 1. Still hard to imagine the Heat not holding court today and advancing to meet the winner of tonight's Pacers-at-Raptors Game 7.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami advances to second round behind Dragic's big Game 7: The Heat faced first-round playoff elimination on the road Friday in a last-gasp Game 6, but Dwyane Wade saved the day and season with late heroics to lift Miami. Today in Game 7 vs. Charlotte here it was Goran Dragic's turn and he delivered with 25 points. You're never sure who's going to lift the Heat ... one reason they're where they are.

2. DOLPHINS: Gamblin' Fins are talk of first round after taking Laremy Tunsil: Dolphins did not shy away from risk, or offense, in their three-day draft. I think it’s the unpredictability of sports that we love the most, right? For example: The Dolphins’ first-round pick being pictured on draft-night inhaling marijuana smoke from a bong while wearing a gas mask -- who could have predicted that! 

3. MARLINS: Big win streak offset by Gordon's 80-game suspension for PEDs: Fish, who are back home Tuesday, had won seven in a row on the road before losing today but the news of the week was popular batting and steals champ Dee Gordon being suspended for half a season in midst of club feeling better about itself than it has all year. Weird. Gordon out for PEDs while team's winning streak was on steroids.

4. NFL: The 81st NFL Draft wraps up in Chicago: Three days, seven rounds, 253 players, and if you paid much attention beyond your favorite team's selection in the first round, please have yourself evaluated by a mental-health professional. Somewhere, the first 2017 Mock Draft is now out. Oh how I wish I were kidding.

5. NBA: Two Sunday Game 7s set the four second-round pairings: Three matchups had been set: Spurs-Thunder, Warriors-Trail Blazers and Cavaliers-Hawks. The fourth materialized Sunday with Game 7 wins by Heat and Raptors. There is nothing better in sports than a Game 7, by the way. But only if your team wins.  

6. TOM BRADY: Appeals court upholds Brady suspension, a break for Miami: Patriots already were only team without a first-round draft pick, forfeited because of Deflategate. Then a court upheld Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, so Miami won’t face the star QB in Week 2. It's a strange, unfamiliar feeling for Pats fans. It’s called "losing."

7. NHL: Hockey playoffs down to final eight into second round: Florida Panthers were unexpectedly among teams eliminated in the first round, but the NHL's eight surviving teams forge into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, otherwise known as “Mourning in Canada.”

8. HORSES: Countdown five days until thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown season: The 142nd Kentucky Derby starts it off next Saturday at Churchill Downs. Admit it, though. It was a lot more fun wondering if some horse would finally end the long Triple Crown drought than wondering if some horse will win it a second straight year.

9. RUNNING: Latest MIami Corporate Run draws more than 26,000 runners: Thursday's two winners? Two people who should have been at work. Doesn't it seem like there are an awful lot of these corporate runs? If all these employees would spend less time running and more time working, their companies might be more profitable. 

10. SPORTS TV: ESPN losing more of its on-air talent: Exodus may be too strong a word but now Skip Bayless (for FOX) and Mike Tirico (for NBC) are the latest to leave ESPN. Bottom line? How can Bayless being heard by far fewer people possibly be a bad thing for America?

Missing the cut: Floyd Mayweather Jr. hints at coming out of retirement. The national group, People Surprised By That, is meeting tonight, corner phone booth ..... Hurricanes and Gators will open 2019 football season with nuetral-site game in Orlando. So you're down to 40 months to plan that tailgate party ..... Marlins reveal plan to boost attendance, announce postgame concert every game by Beyonce ..... Dolphins' two best defensive players, Ndamukong Suh and Reshad Jones, both skipped the team's three-day voluntary veterans camp. Which passed for controversy until that gas-mask bong ..... Bernice Brunson has begun spring practice at Miami Jackson as the state's first female high-school head football coach. From this point forward, equal rights will mean she gets second-guessed and booed and eventually fired just like the men ..... UM baseball falls from 1 to 3 in polls ..... I just had the sweetest dream. I dreamed that, somehow, Udonis Haslem found himself alone in a dark alley for 10 minutes with the Charlotte Hornets' Purple Shirt Guy fan ..... That reminds me. The #BringBoshBack social-media hashtag needs an update: #BringBoshBackEventually ..... The Cubs have ace pitcher Jake Arrieta and the majors' best record. Still, betting that for every Cubs fans thinking this is finally the year, there are a hundred thinking they've thought that before ..... The Indianapolis 500 (coming up May 29) has named an official poet laureate. OK, what rhymes with carbeurator? ..... Johnny Manziel was indicted. My question: What with all that partying, how does he find the time for domestic assault?

HOW'D THE DOLPHINS DO? GRADING MIAMI's 2016 DRAFT: Is this poll wildly premature? Of course! But think of it this way: Somewhere, somebody is already putting together a 2017 Mock DolgradeDraft. The world moves fast. What can I say? So. You've heard or read all the opinions of the media blowhards, local and national. You've seen all the data spewed Dollogorat-a-tat-tat by the Mel Kipers. You've mulled over all of the instant grades the analysts have given. You've heard the Dolphins -- and 31 other teams -- rave about how wonderfully the past three days worked out and how they loovvve their draft. And you've listened to your neighbors and friends -- every one of them an expert, no doubt. My opinion? Maybe a B. For me, a little too much bust-potential on Tunsil. And three WRs for a team strong at that position? But now it's your turn. How'd the Dolphins do? Again, I know. Can't really know for a year or three. But I'm writing a daily blog here, not a set of encyclopedias, so this can't wait. I'm curious your gut feeling on the entirety of the Miami draft. Were the "need" positions properly addressed? Was there too much emphasis on offense with six of eight picks including three wide receivers? Were there players available at 13 in the first round you'd have rather seen drafted? Consider all eight Dolphins picks (listed here below the poll) and render an overall gut-feeling grade. Vote and then check back often to monitor evolving results.

Dolphins 2016 Draft:

1r (13) -- Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

2r (38) -- Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

3r (73) -- Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama

3r (86) -- Leonte Caroo, WR, Rutgers

6r (186) -- Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas tech

6r (204) -- Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State

7r (231) -- Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky

7r (250) -- Thomas Duarte, WR, UCLA

Poll result: Dolfans really like the Tunsil pick in first round: The gas-mask bong did not dissuade you. We asked how you felt about Miami drafting Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil 13th overall, and it was 54.7 percent "love it" and 23.8% "like" -- a favorable rating of more than 78%. Naysayers were 8.6% "don't like" and 6.2% "hate," with the remaining 6.7% undecided.

THE LIST: SOUTH FLORIDA GAME 7'S: The Panthers were one win shy of getting to one this season, but the Heat weren't. Sunday will be the 13th Game 7 in Miami's sports history, the 10th at home and the ninth by the Heat. The history of playoff Game 7's by the Heat, Panthers and Marlins: 

HEAT

First round          May 1, 2016 at home          Won 106-73 vs Hornets

NBA Finals          June 20, 2013 at home       Won 95-88 vs Spurs

East finals           June 3, 2013 at home         Won 99-76 vs Pacers

East finals           June 9, 2012 at home         Won 101-88 vs Celtics

First round           May 3, 2009 in Atlanta       Lost 91-78 vs Hawks

East finals           June 6, 2005 at home         Lost 88-82 vs Pistons

First round          May 4, 2004 at home         Won 85-77 vs Hornets

East semis           May 21, 2000 at home       Lost 83-82 vs Knicks

East semis           May 18, 1997 at home       Won 101-90 vs Knicks

PANTHERS

First round          Apr. 26, 2012 at home         Lost 3-2 vs Devils

East finals           June 1, 1996 in Pittsburgh   Won 3-1 vs Penguins

MARLINS

NLCS                  Oct. 15, 2003 in Chicago     Won 9-6 vs Cubs

World Series        Oct. 26, 1997 at home        Won 3-2 vs Indians

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 30, 2016

Wild Ride: Dwyane Wade's season-saving heroics, Laremy Tunsil's selection, Dee Gordon suspension equal wildest 24 hours in Miami sports history; plus Dolphins' Day 2-3 draft, history of Fins OLs and UM DBs in 1st round & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 30. Fare thee well, April! 2) Ray Lewis' son, Ray Anthony Lewis III, briefly a Miami Hurricane, has been charged with criminal sexual misconduct in South Carolina. Story here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft Laremy Tunsil No. 1 with poll, live-mocking my Mock Draft with results, Fins' sad track record in first round, Marlins best team in town, your Bosh vs. Heat verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Curious Pick, Major Gamble, the latest, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick last night. Heat Has Bigger Concerns Than #BringBoshBack, off Miami's damaging Game 5 home playoff loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on what Fins should be thinking for their top draft pick.

SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS' WILDEST 24 HOURS EVER?: I think we've just experienced Miami sports' most dramatic 24 hours ever in the stuff I hit on in this blogpost. I think I'd nominate the 24 hours from late Thursday night through late last night. We had the Marlins finish a road sweep of the Dodgers on a Giancarlo Stanton homer followed immediately by the 80-suspension of Dee Gordon. We had the Dolphins creating the most buzz in the entire NFL Draft first round in selecting tackle Laremy Tunsil despite that infamous gas-mask-bong video. And we had Dwyane Wade sinking two late 3's (a shot he'd last made in December) in a must-win that kept the Heat season alive. Wild ride. Thank you, again, sports.

G6: HEAT 97, CHARLOTTE 90: WADE'S LATE HEROICS LIFT MIAMI, FORCE GAME 7: Not yet. The Heat aren't done yet. There will be a Game 7 Sunday at 1 p.m. back in Miami after last night's 97-90 Miami win in Charlotte evened this first-round playoff series 3-3. Dwyane Wade led Miami with 23 points with 10 in the telling fourth quarter -- including two 3-point baskets. Wade had last hit a 3 in December. What wonderful late heroics by the Heat's all-time great. D-Wade took it upon himself to save this game, and series, and keep the season alive. ..... Original post: The Heat never have blown a 2-0 playoff series lead and lost. Thirteen times they have led 2-0 and 13 times Heathornetsthey have advanced. That historic franchise streak is at risk tonight in Charlotte with Miami trailing 3-2 and the Hornets a 2-point favorite. A Charlotte streak could end, too. The franchise last won a playoff series 14 years ago. That and the underdog role in this series has the Hornets playing with a "a huge chip on our shoulder," as G6Kemba Walker put it. Miami is stunned to find itself in this predicament after winning the first two games at home by a combined 44 points, seemingly in control. Charlotte's defense has limited Miami to 38.6 percent shooting in the three games since. And the Heat's own defense has struggled stopping Hornets guards Walker and Jeremy Lin. Charlotte's 3-point shooting also came alive in the last game. Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "Nobody said this was going to be easy. Nobody's giving out free tickets to the second round. You do have to earn it. It's our first real test when our backs are against the wall. These are the games you remember." Miami tonight will need more of the vintage Wade who scored 25 in Game 5, but Wade needs more help. Calling Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, especially. Because only the season depends on it. It will end tonight for the Heat, or survive for a Game 7 on Sunday back in Miami.

AFTERSHOCK: LAREMY TUNSIL HAS DOLPHINS IN SPOTLIGHT: I don't step back from my column; click on Curious Pick, Major Gamble to read in full. Many in the national media are swooning over Miami's unexpected windfall. So are many Dolfans (see poll below). I'm more skeptical, acknowledging Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil is a great talent but also admitting his off- Tunsil
Gasmaskfield issues and injury history make his Bust Potential bigger than most. Also, Miami has just spent its top pick on a tackle (not a position of urgent need) with plans to try to make him a guard. Hmm. He'll be the world's biggest, least-experienced guard. Weird. I haven't even gotten to the gas mask yet. Let's talk about the off-field baggage. The domestic assault charge (later dropped) against his stepfather, who is suing him. The seven-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits. The admission he took cash from an Ole Miss coach. And of course the hacked Twitter account that last night exposed the image shown of Tunsil smoking pot through a gas-mask bong. A bleepin' GAS-MASK BONG! "Years ago," Tunsil said of the photo. Well, two years ago, it turns out. Somebody did Tunsil dirty with that hack job. I feel bad his big draft night was enveloped in controversy. But it is him in the photo. So, who is Miami getting here? The great talent who will eventually be Ryan Tannehill's blindside protector for many years? Or a guy who needs a gas-mask because he can't get enough smoke -- a guy whose risk may outweigh his potential? Even with those doubts I would give Miami high marks for the totality of their first round, because it must include cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, who arrived from Philly when Miami first traded down from 8th to 13th. In effect, the Dolphins just got three starters in the first round. But! It also is fair to note Maxwell is coming off a terrible season, Alonso must reverse his decline since his excellent rookie season, and Tunsil arrives with character questions. So: If, if, if. If Maxwell bounces back and is starter-caliber. If Alonso shows the rookie we saw was no fluke. If Tunsil proves everybody wrong and is the steal of the draft. If all three happen Miami just had an A-plus first round. If.

And ... weird got weirder: Top Dolphins draft pick Laremy Tunsil could not attend his 3:30 introductory press conference yesterday because (it was said) he suffered an "allergic reaction" of undetermined origin at the team's Davie facility. Allergic to questions about gas masks, maybe, because he did speak about 70 minutes later, seemed fine, but would not address any controversies, saying he was there only "to talk about the Miami Dolphins."

And there's this...: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Ravens, picking 6th, passed on Tunsil because of that gas-mask-bong video. That's Baltimore, a smarter, better-drafting, more successful team than Miami in the past 15 years. I'm just sayin'. Something to mull over for you folks so critical of me for being too critical of Miami's 1R choice.

Dolphins' Day 2 draft:

2nd round (38th overall) -- Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor: Smart position-need pick, 6-foot, 200 pounds, big, physical corner, good against the run, 9 interceptions past two seasons. Miami traded up 4 spots (giving up a 4th round pick) to select Howard, suggesting a lot of love and the hope he'll start as a rookie opposite Byron Maxwell. 

3rd round (73rd overall) -- Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama: Needed a running back. Got one. Would have preferred fellow 'Bama RB Derrick Henry, but he went 45th overall. Like that Miami targeted and hit on its two main position needs on Day 2.

3rd round (86th overall) -- Leonte Caroo, WR, Rutgers: Miami traded up into round for this added third rounder at large cost, giving up two Day 3 picks. Dolphins tried to trade up to select LB Myles Jack. I'm more interested in what they did do on Day 2. Trading up twice comes with a cost in lost Day 3 picks and reduced depth via rounds 3 through 7 today.

Dolphins' Day 3 draft:

4th round -- No pick.

5th round -- No pick.

6th round (186th overall) -- Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech. Traded up 10 spots to get him, givgin up one of three 7th-round picks to do so. That's four out of five picks so far designed to make Ryan Tannehill's life easier.

6th round (204th overall) -Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State.

7th round (223rd overall) -- Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky. Local kid, born and raised in Davie.

7th round (231st overall) -- Thomas Duarte. WR, UCLA. Finis!

SAY IT AIN'T SO, DEE: BOMBSHELL ROCKS MARLINS: It was 1:17 a.m. in the East on Friday morning. The Marlins had just wo a fifth straight game by completing a four-game road sweep of the DeegordonL.A. Dodgers on a win by Jose Fernandez fueled by Giancarlo Stanton's seventh home run. The Fish were riding a season high. That's when the news broke that star second baseman Dee Gordon (pictured) had tested positive for testosterone and another PED and was suspended immediately for 80 games without pay by MLB. (Full story here). The gut reaction? "Him, of all people?" Second reaction: "If he's dirty, is anybody clean!?" This rocks the stereotype of PED use; this rocks the faith. Gordon is a waif of a man, the opposite of the power hitter looking for artificial muscles through illegal juice. Gordon also is the Good Guy personified, of the (formerly) perfect image, a great, smiling face of the franchise and of the too-few African Americans in baseball. A role model. All that. And all that takes a hit now as Gordon sits humiliated until after the all-star break, his earliest return set at July 29. Gordon called it an innocent mistake in a statement Friday, saying, in part: "Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences." Of course the shocker of a suspension has a pragmatic effect, too. Gordon is the reigning NL batting champion and stolen base leader. Though he was hitting only .266 so far this year, he's tough to replace. Derek Dietrich will be the likely new regular at second base. Who'll replace Gordon as leadoff hitter is dicier. With no great candidate it could be Martin Prado, who does not have classic leadoff speed but gets on base, a plus for that role. Meanwhile, what a bone-rattling disappointment! Say it ain't so, Dee. [Update: Dietrich at second, Ichiro leading off tonight at Milwaukee].

THE LIST: HURRICANES FIRST-ROUND DEFENSIVE BACKS: Of 61 Miami Hurricanes selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since the first in 1956, 13 have been defensive backs. The 13th happened last night with Artie Burns, who is pictured on the phone with the Steelers at his draft party held at The Betsy hotel on South Beach. UM's 13 1R DBs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating players still active, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:

Player                            Year (No.) / Team                NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade

ArtieburnsArtie Burns-*                   2016 (25th) / Steelers          TBD

Kenny Phillips-*               2008 (31st) / Giants             59/0/C

Brandon Meriweather-*    2007 (24th) / Patriots          112/2/B

Kelly Jennings                 2006 (31st) / Seahawks        91/0/C-

Antrel Rolle-*                  2005 (8th) / Cardinals         155/3/B+

Sean Taylor                     2004 (5th) / Redskins           55/2/A

Philip Buchanon               2002 (17th) / Raiders          122/0/B-

Ed Reed                          2002 (24th) / Ravens           174/9/A+

Mike Rumph                    2002 (27th) / 49ers              43/0/D

Duane Starks                   1998 (10th) / Ravens           97/0/C

Darryl Williams                1992 (28th) / Bengals          156/1/B

Bennie Blades                  1988 (3rd) / Lions               136/1/B-

Burgess Owens                 1973 (13th) / Jets               137/0/C+

THE LIST: DOLPHINS FIRST-ROUND OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: The Dolphins have drafted an offensive lineman in the first round 11 times, the 11th last night. Miami's 11 1R OLs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating active players, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:

Player                             Year (No.) / College            NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade

Laremy Tunsil-*                2016 (13th) / Ole Miss         TBD

Ja'Wuan James-*              2014 (19th) / Tennessee       23/0/Inc.

Mike Pouncey-*                 2011 (15th) / Florida           72/3/B

Jake Long-*                     2008 (1st) / Michigan           100/4/B-

Vernon Carey                   2004 (19th) / Miami             121/0/C+

Billy Milner                      1995 (25th) / Houston          30/0/F

Richmond Webb               1990 (9th) / Texas A&M        184/7/A

Roy Foster                       1982 (24th) / USC                 127/2/B

Jon Giesler                      1979 (24th) / Michigan         105/0/B-

Darryl Carlton                  1975 (23rd) / Tampa            36/0/F

Doug Crusan                     1968 (27th) / Indiana          82/0/C

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 28, 2016

DOLPHINS DRAFT OT TUNSIL #1. Like the pick? New poll. Vote now!; plus mocking my Mock Draft, live, pick by pick (Final); also, Miami's sad recent 1st-round history quantified, surging Marlins, your Bosh verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 28. Heat an early 1.5-point underdog in Game 6 at Charlotte Friday. 2) Click here for Rolling Stone review (and videos) of Beyonce's world-tour opening concert last night at Marlins Park. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat home loss makes it 3-2 series hole, Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft and video, Dolphins defenders skip voluntary, verdict on Heat fans' confidence & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat Has Bigger Concerns Than #BringBoshBack, the latest, off last night's damaging Game 5 home playoff loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on Miami's best-case scenario for its No. 1 draft pick. Calling Jaromir Jagr, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals drought entering Game 6.

POLL ON DOLPHINS FIRST-ROUND PICK: Find it right here, immediately below:  

DOLPHINS DRAFT OLE MISS TACKLE LAREMY TUNSIL NO. 1: Some had him going as early as third overall but off-field and injury issues had him plummeting Thursday night. But Miami got him 13th overall. Smart steal? Huge risk? Maybe both? For me it's both a curious pick and a major gamble -- curious because tackle is one of the last positions at which Miami needed immediately help, and this should be a franchise drafting for now, not later. Click on Curious Pick, Major Gamble for my column on the pick. Now it's your turn to weigh in:

NfldraftDRAFT NIGHT IN AMERICA! MOCKING MY NFL MOCK DRAFT, LIVE, PICK BY PICK: Click on Mockin' It '16 for my full, unabridged 2016 Official Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft, including full capsules for each selection and Super Bonus Draft Facts, too. Here you see the entire first round, condensed except for the full capsule on Dolphins prediction. Follow along tonight as we score our results, pick by pick, with three symbols: Bulls-eye is the optimum: Exact player to exact team. Green check mark is middle ground: Means I had the player selected in my first round but not going to the right team. Red 'X' is a big loss: Means I did not have the player selected in my first round. I did pretty well a year ago, with 26 of 32 first-round picks correct overall and nine bull’s-eyes -- including the Dolphins taking DeVante Parker. How will I do this year? I'm wondering, too. Throughout the night we'll be updating what actually happens vs. what I had in my Mock, live, with commentary, so join us starting at 8...

Greg Cote's 25th annual Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft:

Bullseye1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal / The pick: Goff / The big news as 81st NFL Draft begins? "Cote Mock Off to Perfect Start!" #1972 Can we quit now, please? Mock Score: 1-for-1, 1 Bull's-eye. 

Bullseye2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State / The pick: Wentz / Little to zero doubt here. No surprises yet. QBs 1-2. Goodell booed. Mock score: 2-for-2, 2 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark3. San Diego Chargers: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss / The pick: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State / I had Bosa going 5th. Bolts go for D. St. Thomas Aquinas happier than Philip Rivers. Mock score: 3-for-3, 2 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark4. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State / The pick: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State / I had Elliott, of the crop-top shirt, going 8th. This is draft's first loss for Dolphins. Would have loved him, but couldn't trade up this high. Mock score: 4-for-4, 2 Bull's-eyes. 

Checkmark5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State / The pick: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State / I had Ramsey, a CB-safety hybrid, going 4th. #CloseDon'tCount Mock score: 5-for-5, 2 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark6. Baltimore Ravens: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon / The pick: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame / I had Stanley going 7th. #CloseDon'tCount (And Laremy Tunsil continues to slide). Mock score: 6-for-6, 2 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark7. San Francisco 49ers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame / The pick: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon / I had Buckner going 6th. #CloseDon'tCount. (Getting tired of that hashtag). Mock score: 7-for-7, 2 Bull's-eyes. 

Checkmark8. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State / TRADE: Tennessee moves up to 8th. The pick: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State / I had Conklin going 15th. Tunsil continues in freefall. Mock score: 8-for-8, 2 Bull's-eyes. 

Checkmark9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida / TRADE: Chicago moves up to 9th. The pick: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia / I had Floyd going 12th. Mock score: 9-for-9, 2 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark10. New York Giants: Myles Jack, ILB, UCLA / The pick: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State / Invest big in "The Big Apple" tabloid headlines. A reach. I had Apple going way down at 28th. Miami had some interest. Mock score: 10-for-10, 2 Bull's-eyes. 

Bullseye11. Chicago Bears: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson / TRADE: Tampa Bay moves down to 11th. The pick: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida / I had Hargreaves going 9th, but to Tampa, so that's an Exacto. Miami had a big interest. Mock score: 11-for-11, 3 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark12. New Orleans Saints: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia / The pick: Sheldon Rankins, DE, Louisville / I had Rankins going 19th. You knew they'd go D. Dolphins on the clock! Mock score: 12-for-12, 3 Bull's-eyes. 

Checkmark13. MIAMI DOLPHINS: WILLIAM JACKSON, CB, HOUSTON / The pick: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss / I had Tunsil going 3rd but he fell precipitously fell with off-field and injury issues. A major risk. Mock score: 13-for-13, 3 Bull's-eyes / Original post: I doubt Miami will stay at 13. I see them trying to trade up into the 7-8 range to select the RB Elliott he he gets past Dallas picking 4th — a bold move of the headline-grabbing type that is part of the Mike Tannenbaum canon. But I also can see the Fins anticlimactically trading down because, after Ramsey and Hargreaves no DB is worth this high a pick and likely could be gotten lower. That includes Jackson or Ohio State’s Eli Apple, both of whom might be labeled a “reach” taken this high. If Miami does stay at 13, though — and assuming Elliott, Jack and Hargreaves are all off the board -- then grabbing the best available corner here would make sense as an urgent need. Apple may well be rated slightly higher by Miami and might be a safer mock pick for me than Jackson here. But Jackson is older, more mature and more ready now than the riskier Apple. Jackson looks a safer bet for the Dolphins (if not for me), and Miami cannot afford a first-round misfire.

Checkmark14. Oakland Raiders: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama / The pick: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia / I had Joseph going 16th. #MoreCloseDon'tCount. Mock score: 14-for-14, 3 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark15. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State / TRADE: Cleveland moves down to 15th. The pick: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor / I had Coleman going 24th. Mock score: 15-for-15, 3 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark16. Detroit Lions: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia / The pick: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State / I had Taylor going 18th. #MoreCloseYadaYadaYada Mock score: 16-for-16, 3 Bull's-eyes.

  Xmark17. Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State / The pick: Keanu Neal, S, Florida / My first flat-out miss. Did not have Neal in my first round. Mock score: 16-for-17, 3 Bull's-eyes. 

Checkmark18. Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State / The pick: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama / I had Kelly going 26th. Mock score: 17-for-18, 3 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark19. Buffalo Bills: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville / The pick: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson / I had Lawson going 11th. Mock score: 18-for-19, 3 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark20. New York Jets: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis / The pick: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State / I had Lee going 17th. Mock score: 19-for-20, 3 Bull's-eyes.

Xmark21. Washington Redskins: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama / TRADE: Houston moves up to 21st. The pick: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame / I did not have Fuller in my first round. Mock score: 19-for-21, 3 Bull's-eyes.
Checkmark22. Houston Texans: Josh Doctson, WR, Texas Christian / TRADE: Washington moves down to 22nd. The pick: Josh Doctson, WR, Texas Christian
/ I had Doctson going in this exact spot, but to a different team. Mock score: 20-for-22, 3 Bull's-eyes. 

Bullseye23. Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss / The pick: Treadwell / Bingo! Exactos too rare this year. Mock score: 21-for-23, 4 Bull's-eyes.

Checkmark24. Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor / The pick: William Jackson, CB, Houston / I had Jackson going 13th, to Miami. Still think he'd have been a better pick than Tunsil. Mock score: 22-for-24, 4 Bull's-eyes.

Bullseye25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Artie Burns, CB, Miami / The pick: Burns / Bingo again! Doubly ice to get the Cane right. Mock score: 23-for-25, 5 Bull's-eyes. 

  Checkmark26. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama / TRADE: Denver moves up to 26th. The pick: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis / I had Lynch going 20th. Mock score: 24-for-26, 5 Bull's-eyes.

Xmark27. Green Bay Packers: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama / The pick: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA / I did not have Clark in my first round. Mock score: 24-for-27, 5 Bull's-eyes. 

Xmark28. Kansas City Chiefs: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State / TRADE: San Francisco moved up to 28th. The pick: Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford / I did not have Garnett in my first round. Mock score: 24-for-28, 5 Bull's-eyes.

[New England Patriots: Forfeited 29th overall pick]

Xmark30. Arizona Cardinals: Vonn Bell, S/CB, Ohio State / The pick: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss / I did not have Nkemdiche in my first round. Probably round's biggest risk along with Miami's Tunsil. Mock score: 24-for-29, 5 Bull's-eyes.

Xmark31. Carolina Panthers: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State / The pick: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech / I did not have Butler in my first round. #EndingWithAWhimperHere Mock score: 24-for-30, 5 Bull's-eyes. 

Xmark32. Denver Broncos: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas / TRADE: Seattle moved down to 32nd. The pick: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M / I did not have Ifedi in my first round. #CrappedMyPantsLateInRound Final Mock score: 24-for-31, 5 Bull's-eyes. 

DionjordanJUST TO CONFIRM: DOLPHINS NOT VERY GOOD LATELY IN FIRST ROUND: ESPN used Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value (AV) metric, which is sort of the football equivalent of baseball's WAR (Wins Over Replacement), to rank NFL teams on their first-round draft success over the past 10 years. And Miami checks in a sub-mediocre 22nd of 32 teams with a minus-0.8 score. Ryan Tannehill is called the best pick since 2006, and of course Dion Jordan (pictured) is the worst. ESPN's Dolphins synopsis: "Six of Miami's 10 first-round picks in the last decade failed to meet draft expectations, but their most questionable selection was Jordan. Despite a solid defensive line, Miami moved up nine spots from 12th to third to pick Jordan, who has since been suspended twice for violating the league's substance abuse policy." Top three-rated teams overall: Carolina plus-11.5, Houston plus-7.7 and Baltimore plus-6.8. Elsewhere in the AFC East, New England is 4th overall at plus-6.4, the Stinkin' Jets are 9th at plus-3.0 and Buffalo is 30th at minus-4.2.

BillyIMAGINE THAT: MARLINS BEST TEAM IN TOWN TODAY: The Panthers and Heat were supposed to own South Florida sports' spring-into-summer with long playoff runs. Hmm. The Panthers unexpectedly were eliminated in the first round by the underdog New York Islanders. Now, after last night's dispiriting home loss, Miami's third straight in the series, the favored, sinking Heat suddenly face first-round elimination in Game 6 Friday in Charlotte. A huge double disappointment looms. Meanwhile? The overlooked, slow-starting Marlins have quietly won four games in a row, tied for the third-best current streak in MLB. I say quietly because they're on the west coast, so only adamant Fish-heads and wide-eyed insomniacs are watching the games. Still, at least somebody is winning around here. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everybody's Doin' the Fish!

Poll result: Mixed views, and close, but more Heat fans side with Bosh than with team: We asked who's right in the disagreement between Chris Bosh saying he's ready to play now and the team saying no (you may still vote), and it was 42.4 percent siding with Bosh and 35.2% with the team. The other 22.4% were undecided or called the issue too complicated to take sides.

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

Twitter @gregcote

The Chris Bosh Conundrum: Who's right? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat on brink of playoff elimination, Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft (with Dolphins' surprise at 13) & more

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

Meshow1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 28. Thanks again to ESPN Radio for re-branding their national show to better reflect my impact every Tuesday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hornets tie Heat series 2-2 with will-Miami-advance poll, court favors Dolphins in Brady ruling, how Panthers fans should feel after elimination, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack, the latest, off last night's Game 5 loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on Miami's best-case scenario for its No. 1 draft pick. Calling Jaromir Jagr, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals as it entered Game 6.

BoshTHE CHRIS BOSH CONUNDRUM: WHO'S RIGHT?: A good deal of my column off last night's Heat Game 5 home loss (click here) is on sidelined Chris Bosh foisting himself suddenly into playoffs with his (and his wife's) #BringBoshBack social-media effort that has caught Heat management off guard. Bottom line: Bosh, out since Feb. 9 with a recurrence of his blood clot issues, has been cleared to play by a personal doctor and says he is ready now, while the club doctors have not yet cleared him. Curious what Heat fans think. Hence, this poll! Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results. Vote soon, though. We'll call a winner in a couple of hours as we pivot to a new blogpost on tonight's NFL Draft.

G5: CHARLOTTE 90, HEAT 88: CRUCIAL HOME LOSS HAS MIAMI DOWN 3-2, FACING ELIMINATION: Dwyane Wade's 25 points weren't enough Wednesday night in a 90-88 Heat home loss -- the third straight Miami loss in this first-round series. Charlotte regained its 3-point touch with a dozen 3's including the go-ahead points by Courtney Lee with 25 second left. Click on Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack for my column from last night's game. ..... Original post: With both teams 2-0 at home in this series, the onus is on Miami tonight at 8 to again protect its home court by the bay. Clearly, the loser of this game will be in trouble in the series with Game 6 back up in Charlotte. Miami has shot 58 percent in two home wins vs. only 36 percent in two road Heathornetslosses. The Hornets are expected to have Nic Batum back available tonight from an ankle sprain but otherwise may be at a disadvantage, at least historically. The G5Heat are 13-2 in their past 15 playoff home games, the only losses both to San Antonio in the 2014 Finals. And Miami is on a 19-2 run vs. Charlotte in the 305. The Hornets have not won a road playoff game, anywhere, since 2002, losing nine in a row in the meantime. For those streaks to continue Miami will need much better defense in the paint tonight against the slashing runs of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, who combined for 55 points in Game 4. Hassan Whiteside needs to raise his game. Also expect a bounce-back night from Dwyane Wade. Watch out, though, if Charlotte finds its touch on 3-point shots. Hornets were fourth in league in 3's during the season but have clanked in only 23.9 percent in the first round. Fouls also may be a factor tonight. CHA has taken 122 free throws to MIA's 94 through four games. "We've probably fouled more in these four games than we have in the last four weeks," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Give them credit. They're aggressive." Meantime the post-LeBron, no-Bosh Heat still have some drawing power as a TV attraction, apparently. NBA TV's coverage of Heat-Hornets Game 4 drew 662,000 viewers, the network's most-seen playoff telecast since 2014. Its four-game playoffs average this month is 471,000 viewers.

25TH ANNUAL OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD MOCK DRAFT: SURPRISE! DOLPHINS SELECT HOUSTON CB WILLIAM JACKSON IN FIRST ROUND: Our 2016 NFL Mock Draft is now online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions, including Super Bonus Draft Facts as always. Click on Mockin' It '16 to read the entire first-round mock draft it in full. We cut to the chase here with our synopsis on Miami's pick:

William jackson13. MIAMI DOLPHINS: WILLIAM JACKSON, CB, HOUSTON — I sort of doubt Miami will stay at 13. I can see them trying to trade up into the 7-8 range to select the RB Ezekiel Elliott — a bold move of the headline-grabbing type that is part of the Mike Tannenbaum canon. But I also can see them anticlimactically trading down because, after Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves no DB is worth this high a pick and likely could be gotten lower. That includes Jackson (pictured) or Ohio State’s Eli Apple, both of whom might be labeled a “reach” taken this high. If the Fins do stay at 13, though — and assuming Elliott, Myles Jack and Hargreaves are all off the board – then grabbing the best available corner here would make sense as an urgent need. Apple may well be rated slightly higher by Miami and might be a safer mock pick for me here. But Jackson is older, more mature and more ready now than the riskier Apple. Jackson looks a safer bet for the Dolphins, and Miami cannot afford a first-round misfire.

GREG COTE'S 2016 NFL DRAFT VIDEO: Today I am holed up hammering out my 25th annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft. The first-round prognostications should be online this afternoon before shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Meantime click below (or on Mock 'n Roll) for my NFL Draft preview video:

 
TWO THOUGHTS ON DOLPHINS' VETERAN MINICAMP: Today is Day 2 of Miami's three-day voluntary veterans minicamp, and the news thus far is that four defensive players -- Reshad Jones, ReshadjonesNdamukong Suh, Mario Williams and Koa Misi --were absent from Day 1 practice. It was known Williams (personal issues) and Misi (illness) would be missing, but the absences of Jones (pictured) and Suh -- arguably the defense's two best players -- were unexcused and notable. Two thoughts: 1) It's a VOLUNTARY minicamp. And it's APRIL. You can't call something voluntary and then be mad not everyone volunteers. Jones is pouting and holding his breath for a new contract. Suh has done pretty well for himself preparing for seasons how he sees fit. If they're still AWOL when mandatory minicamps begin in June, then we have an issue. 2) There is, however, something noble in the concept of "leading by example." Jones is the highest-paid strong safety in the NFL at $28 million over four years, yet wants more. Suh is making a whopping $114 million over six years. For that kind of money, though it isn't mandatory, it sure would be nice if they "volunteered" to be with their teammates.   
 
Poll result: Optimism for Heat advance, but also doubts: We asked what you think is the likelihood the Miami Heat (series tied 2-2 entering tonight) will advance past the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, and results were wildly mixed. A plurality of 25.6 percent said 80% or better, 17.4% said 70-79% and 20.3% said 60-69%. But more than one-third of all voters said only 50-59% (19.8%) or less than 50% (16.9%).
 
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

April 26, 2016

With Heat-Hornets now tied 2-2, what do you think is likelihood Miami will advance? New poll. Vote now!; plus Radio Tuesday, court rules for Dolphins in latest Brady decision, how Panthers fans should feel, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 26. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 3 at Charlotte, calling on (and out) Jaromir Jagr, UM suspends Mark Walton, Dolphins draft-priority verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

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

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, the latest, on Miami's two clear choices for their No. 1 draft pick. Calling Jaromir Jagr, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals drought entering Game 6. And For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East, off Heat's Game 2 win.

G4: CHARLOTTE 89, HEAT 85: WITH SERIES NOW 2-2 HEADING BACK TO MIAMI, WHAT'S YOUR CONFIDENCE MIAMI WILL ADVANCE?: Heat lose last night in Charlotte 89-85, squaring series at 2-2 heading back to Miami for Game 5 Wednesday night. And pressure swings to Miami for first time in series. Finally, though, a taut, competitive game. Heat shot only 39.5 percent last night and nobody scored more than 16 points, with Dwyane Wade netting only 12 (though he did have 10 assists). Big story, though, was Miami's lack of defense against Hornets speed-demons Kemba Walker (32 points) and Jeremy Lin (21). Miami was clear favorite and higher seed (3 to 6) entering this first-round series, though both teams had same regular-season record. That favorite's role was underlined after first two games. But now? Who really is the better team is a question back in play. Somebody will have the answer Wednesday night back in in the 305. Meantime, weigh in on our poll immediately below. ..... Original post: The Heat has felt zero pressure in this series, remembering that Miami was in control from the Miachastart in catapulting to a 2-0 series lead, and the Game 3 road loss was sort of expected. But tonight? Should Miami lose again to make the series 2-2 in this 7 p.m. G4tipoff, it will return to the 305 for Wednesday's Game 5 with the pressure on it for the first time. Them's the stakes tonight. A commanding 3-1 series lead vs. a little bit of uh oh. Heat must do better offensively tonight, not necessarily the Showtime East blitzkrieg of the first two games, but certainly better than the 34 percent night in G3. And defensively, Miami must find an answer in the low post for (all of all people) Frank Kaminsky. That'll mean Hassan Whiteside (who should play despite a bruised thigh) staying out of foul trouble and playing smart, which are not always automatic things. Heat must play more tenacious D all-round than the version that forced only four Charlotte turnovers the other night. Miami has lost six of its past eight road games overall. Another one tonight and this series gets too interesting fast.

BradyFEDERAL APPEALS COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF DOLPHINS WITH TOM BRADY DECISION: A federal appeals court today ruled that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve his four-game "Deflategate" suspension after all, sweet noise to the Dolphins (at New England in Week 2)and three other teams. The ruling overturned a lower-court ruling and sided with the NFL, a victory for Roger Goodell over the NFL Players Association. The ruling was not on Brady's guilt or innocence on the matter of deflated footballs -- but rather that Goodell acted within his broad commissioner's powers in meting out the punishment. The matter still may not be over as the NFLPA said it would review options. Even if today's decision is upheld and Brady does miss the first four games with Jimmy Garoppolo starting instead, the Patriots at home still would be favored over Miami, likely by four or five points instead of eight or nine, according to an oddsmaker pal. (NE also still would still be favored at home over Houston and Buffalo but likely would now be a slight road underdog in the opener at Arizona). Brady is pictured at right, estimating how much greater Miami's likelihood of winning would be without him playing.

G6: N.Y. ISLANDERS 2, PANTHERS 1 (2OT): HOW CATS FANS SHOULD BE FEELING TODAY AFTER EARLY ELIMINATION: Disappointment, naturally, is the go-to emotion for Panthers fans today. Understandable. The team was division champion with the best regular season in franchise history. They were first-round favorites to a degree nine of nine on ESPN's experts panel predicted Florida would advance past the Islanders. Instead the drought goes: nothing past the first round since 1996. But once the hurt of last night fades it should be replaced with a good feeling about this season overall and optimism moving forward. The Cats have such a terrific young core -- thinking Barkov, Ekblad, Bjugstad, Gudbranson, Huberdeau -- that the future should be bright, and built to last.There are questions, such as whether Roberto Luongo has another season in him as the answer in goal. But the team is in good hands with GM Dale Tallon and coach Gerard Gallant ..... Postgame post: Jonathan Huberdeau's first period goal was all the Cats could get tonight's 2-1 Game 6 loss in Brooklyn that eliminated the Panthers in the first round. Roberto Luongo with a stalwart effort, just not enough on the attack. Disappointing ending. Panthers were division champions and favorites in this round. And the wait for the first series advance since 1996 goes on. ..... Original post: Somebody's two-decades-old misery is about to end, either tonight in Brooklyn or in a Game 7 Tuesday back in Sunrise. The Panthers, down 3-2 and facing a must-win tonight starting at 7, last advanced beyond the first round of the NHL playoffs in Year of the Rat 1996. The Islanders, who can G6 Panthersgame6do so tonight, top that, having last advanced in '93. Both teams have players not yet born when their fans last cheered a first-round series win. Every game in this super-close series has been a one-goal margin if you discount a last-second empty netter. Key to Florida's survival tonight? Panthers must solve Isles goaltender Michael Greiss, who might be the first star of the series through. And part of doing that is to get Jaromir Jagr going. His unfathomable 36-game playoff goalless streak must end -- and oh wouldn't tonight before the perfect time for that. Power-play situations will also be noteworthy tonight for sure. NYI is 5-for-18 on those in this series and Florida only 2-for-12; that's three goals difference deriving from officiating calls in a series this close. Cats could also use a gem of a game from Roberto Luongo. He's been strong (1.66 GAA) since allowing five in the series opener. But he also is 2-9 in his last 11 playoff starts dating to 2011.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: NFL Draft begins Thursday as Miami weighs options: Team should select Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott or Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves with No. 1 pick if it can (see my new column for more on that). But Dolphins were noncommittal in an obfuscating pre-draft news conference, declining to admit there was a draft or if Miami would participate.

2. HEAT: Road killed! Miami prepares for Game 4 tonight after big loss in Charlotte: Heat held a dominant 2-0 series on two home wins marked by terrific offense, but Miami shot a weak 34 percent in Saturday's 96-80 loss at Charlotte. What happened to Showtime East? Miami still in control of series, although another road loss tonight/Monday and things would get a little too interesting.

3. PANTHERS: Cats eliminate after double-overtime loss at Isles: Panthers were on the cliff's edge and fell, in a second straight 2-1 double-overtime loss, this one Sunday night in Brooklyn. A very good season ends in disappointment, with Cats fans denied a Game 7 back in Sunrise.

4. MARLINS: Fish away in midst of season-long 10-game road trip: Miami won 5-4 Sunday to avoid being swept in San Fran in a homecoming for Marlins hitting coach and ex-Giant Barry Bonds. It’s 10 straight games on road for awful-starting Fish, which -- considering Miami’s 2-7 home record -- may be a good thing.

5. HURRICANES: Running back Mark Walton arrested, suspended: Cops pinched Walton for DUI and knowingly driving with a suspended license and was quickly suspended from the team by suffer-no-fools football coach Mark Richt. Could somebody please introduce Mark to the concept of Uber?

6. NBA: Cavaliers, Spurs are first to advance: San Antonio and Cleveland rolled to 4-0 series sweeps Sunday as first teams to advance in NBA playoffs. Spurs have rekindled hopes they can beat Golden State in West. LeBron has served to remind that Cavs are still kings of East. 

7. PRINCE: Iconic singer dies suddenly at 57: I could mention the sports ties, such as his epic Super Bowl halftime performance in a Miami thunderstorm  in February '07. But Prince transcended sports. What a talent. What a loss. R.I.P. 

8. JOSH NORMAN: Redskins sign star free-agent: Former Carolina Panther will get $75 over five years, $50 million of it guaranteed. Crazy money. The funniest thing about Norman's sudden availability? Any suggestion the Dolphins might actually spend that much to sign him. 

9. UM BASEBALL: Canes will tumble from No. 1 ranking after down weekend: Canes, ranked No. 1 for first time in eight years, lost two out of three this past weekend to defending College World Series champion and current 22nd-ranked Virginia. What Cavaliers did last year, UM and coach Jim Morris are trying to do for first time since 2001.

10. NASCAR: Tony Stewart returns, loudly: Stewart made his season debut at Richmond after missing start of year recovering from injuries sustained in an ATV accident, finishing 19th. NASCAR welcomed him back with a $35,000 fine for complaining about sanctioning body not being more stringent on how many lug nuts are attached wheels before cars re-enter track.

Missing the cut: Poker! WPT Tournament of Champions ended Sunday at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood with Farid Yachou of the Netherlands on top. Hey, it beats a real job! ..... Washington and New York Islanders joined Pittsburgh, San Jose and Tampa Bay in clinching their NHL their first-round series. Meanwhile playoff ratings are down in Canada as entire country mourns having zero teams in the hunt ..... Two Ethiopians won the 120th Boston Marathon. Or, did that go without saying? More important than who won, though, the event still means Boston Strong as it proves itself bigger than those terrorist bombings ..... The Dolphins said they'd draft "the best available player," just like every team says, every year ..... Don Mattingly was tossed out of his first Marlins game. By an umpire, at least, not by Jeffrey Loria ..... Cubs' Jake Arrieta threw season's first no-hitter, adding to the burgeoning season hope that of course inevitably will end in Cubs fans' heartache ..... Hassan Whiteside finished a distant third in NBA defensive player of year voting, much to his pouty chagrin ..... Drew Rosenhaus dropped Johnny Manziel. You have reached a new low, athlete, when your agent fires you ..... R.I.P., Pearl Washington, original Heat player, at 52 ..... UFC's Conor McGregor abruptly retires. Wait, no he doesn't. Updates as warranted.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 23, 2016

Humbled! Heat blown out at Charlotte, 96-80, in Game 3!; plus calling on -- and calling out -- Jaromir Jagr to rescue Florida Panthers, Dolfans' clear verdict on draft priority & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 23. Sad Marlins fact du jour: Today only one team in MLB is further out of first place than Miami's 6 1/2 games. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Panthers drop crucial Game 5 in double-OT, Dolphins draft-priority poll, 'Patrick & Zo,' sports' 'most influential,' global murder rates and what they teach us, Prince in Miami & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

Dumbass Athlete: Mark Walton: No I don't enjoy calling a college kid a dumbass, even Miami Hurricanes running back Mark Walton, arrested for DUI and knowingly driving with a suspended license. But, seriously? Mark? You have a new coach who's a hard-liner and you do this!? Ever heard of Uber? Now, predictably, Richt has suspended Walton. Good lord. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Calling Jaromir Jagr, the latest, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals drought after last night's Game 5 loss. For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East, off Heat's Game 2 win. Rook 1, Rook 2, on Heat's refreshing, uncommon reliance on rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson.

G3: CHARLOTTE 96, HEAT 80: WHOLE NEW SERIES? HORNETS HALVE MIAMI SERIES LEAD TO 2-1: Clobbered. Hammered. Humbled. After flying to a 2-0 series lead on great offensive performances at home the Heat fizzled today in Charlotte in a 96-80 loss. Hold off on posting that Crying Michael Jordan meme, Heat fan. Can't use it tonight. Maybe after Game 4 back in N.C. Monday night? It was all Hornets this evening after a competitive first half. Charlotte went on an 18-0 run in the second half and at one time Miami was in a 5-for-44 shooting funk -- a far cry from the make-everything Heat that shot 58 percent the first two games. Luol Deng led Miami with 19 points including 5-for-6 on 3's but got insufficient help. The bench stunk. And Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic and Joe Johnson shot a combined 14-for-44. A loss today on the road is not a surprise, but the ease of it perhaps is. Heat still in charge in this series, although stakes are raised now for Monday night. ..... Original post: Teams returning home in a 2-0 playoff series hole epitomize desperation, and that is Charlotte today in Game 3 Heathornetsgame3at 5:30 p.m. The Hornets will climb back into the series, or the Heat will put the hammer down. After 238 points in the first two comfy wins, Miami hopes to continue its super-secret strategy: Making every shot. As CHA coach Steve Clifford said, "Sometimes the other team just makes shots. That's what's really going on." Miami has shot 57.6 and 57.9 percent -- the two most accurate performances vs. the Hornets all season. But isn't just that. Charlotte is tanking on more than defense. The Hornets scored 30.4% of their points on three-points shots, third-most in the NBA, during the season. But int two playoff games they are a miserable 7-for-33 on 3's. These are reasons Charlotte's playoff losing streak has now reached 13 games. A lower-scoring Game 3 might be expected. "On the road we have to win defensively," as Dwyane Wade said. Sidelight: The next two at Charlotte will be a homecoming for Hassan Whiteside, who grew up in that area. Erik Spoelstra may need to tamp-down his intensity. Historical note: Miami has never blown a 2-0 playoff series lead. Heat is 13-0 all-time in this position.

CALLING ON -- AND CALLING OUT -- JAROMIR JAGR: After last night's 2-1 double-OT home loss the Panthers trail Islanders 3-2 and face a must-win Game 6 Sunday at 7 p.m. in Brooklyn. Four quick thoughts before I get to my points on Jagr. 1) Enough with the conspiracy theories, Cats fans. "The refs are against us." "The league wants New York to win." Please. Yes NYI had five power plays last night to Florida's one. But the Panthers also had a shoulda-been game-winning penalty shot they squandered. 2) In many ways the Panthers look to be the better team in this series; certainly the more entertaining. Cats are playing well. "Great hockey," coach Gerard Gallant said. It's just that out-of-his-mind Isles goalie Thomas Greiss is playing better thus far. 3) Great, great crowd last night in the Sunrise barn. But those fans who threw rubber rats at the celebrating Islanders players at the end? Not cool. 4) The next round will be really tough even if Florida makes it. Cats will be worn by a long series that already has featured three period of OT, and Tampa Bay will be much more rested. OK now on to my thoughts off Game 5. Click on Calling Jaromir Jagr to read the column in full. The gist of it: JagrWatching Jaromir Jagr perform on ice is a little like watching Dwayne Wade do his thing on the hardwood as we enjoy this rare concurrent playoff run by the Panthers and Heat. With both you are seeing something special, something you want to make a memory of because you know it won’t last. They are two veterans who know as much about their craft as anybody out there. They draw on every ounce and iota of experience to find a way, some way. They are both marvels for their age, except that Jagr (pictured) happens to be 44, which I guess makes him 10 years even more marvelous. That Jagr kick-started the game-tying goal last night mirrors his resolve and fight, because this playoff series has been a struggle for him. He has not scored a goal, and Friday’s assist was only his second. It does not feel entirely fair to say, but the Cats need more from Jagr moving forward. He has done so, so much, and now his team needs more. Jagr is old enough to be several teammates’ father. He could be seven or eight years into a cushy analyst’s job on a Canadian or Czech hockey network by now. Instead he was leading Florida with 66 points scored this season and one off the Cats’ goals lead with 27. He was, for me, the team MVP for the division champions. He needs to be that again now, with the Stanley Cup trophy in play. Jagr has picked a heck of a time to continue a personal postseason slump with a quiet opening series, and he could be running out of time to make some noise. Can Jagr be the difference in this super-even series? History tells us Game 5 winners in a 2-2 series go on to win the series and advance 78.4 percent of the time, the odds weighing now against Florida. The Cats and Isles are so close, though, that Florida does not need a miracle to win two in a row now. It just needs a spark, somebody to step up and show the way. Jagr, anyone? The team leader must lead, and not in some intangible way, but by doing what he has done better than almost everyone to every play this sport: Score goals. The Panthers were 19-1-2 this season in games Jagr scored a goal. He is the Cat-alyst, and now — either in the balance of this series or moving forward — his team will need that regular-season mojo of his to reappear and join the playoffs. It has been missing. Jagr has zero goals in five playoff games. Just twice all season did he have a goal drought this long, only now it matters more. As for that personal postseason slump, inexplicably, astoundingly, Friday marked Jagr’s 36th consecutive playoff game without a goal. More than hour before the puck dropped Friday, the arena still mostly empty, Jagr was the only player skating out on the ice, alone in his thoughts. No player works harder, or knows the game better. His playoff slump is unfathomable. Believe hard now in the law of averages if nothing else, Panthers fans. Jagr and the Cats will need his postseason goals drought to end in the worst way — and in the best way — come Sunday.

Poll result: Dolfans speak, loudly. Prioritize cornerback for No. 1 pick, please!: We asked in the previous blogpost what position the Dolphins should target for their No. 1 draft pick Thursday (you may still vote), and gave you five choices plus "other." It wasn't close. Cornerback dominated with 57.1 percent, with running back a distant second at 16.2%. Trailing were linebacker 10.8%, offensive line 9.8%, defensive end 3.7% and "something else" 2.4%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 22, 2016

Panthers lose OT heartbreaker, trail Isles 3-2; plus what should be Dolphins' priority for No. 1 draft pick? New poll. Vote now!; also 'Patrick & Zo,' homicide rates and lesson in them, athletes on 'most influential' list, reliving Prince in Miami & more

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

Passover Tubman1) It is FRIDAY, APRIL 22. A most happy Passover to our Jewish readers and friends. Also, happy Earth Day and thank you, mother! 2) Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Imagine you'd proposed that idea to her before she died in 1913, seven years before women had even won the right to vote! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): History! Heat and Panthers both win in playoffs on same day for first time, R.I.P. Prince, ESPN fires Schilling, Marlins' awful start, NBA jersey ads & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

"The national group, People Who Thought the Dolphins Might Actually Get Josh Norman, is meeting tonight. Waffle House. Corner booth." --Greg Cote

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East, the latest, off Heat's Game 2 win. Rook 1, Rook 2, on Heat's refreshing, uncommon reliance on rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. This Is the Upside, off Heat's impressive Game 1 victory.

G5: N.Y. ISLANDERS 2, PANTHERS 1 (2OT): CATS NOW TRAIL 3-2 HEADING TO BROOKLYN: Florida loses 2-1 in double-overtime past midnight and now faces elimination in Game 6 Sunday. Click on Cats Need Jagr's Goals Punch for my column from the game. ..... Original post: All four games so far have been one-goal margins if you exclude one last- Catsislessecond empty netter. In Florida's two wins Roberto Luongo has given up two total goals and in the two losses nine goals have whizzed past him, so figure defense and Luongo's performance naturally will be a key tonight starting at 8. But defense-first hasn't really been the Cats' mindset thus far in the postseason as it usually was in G5the regular season. You know how the Miami Heat are going nuts offensively so far in the playoffs? The Panthers are showing a similar aggressiveness. In the NHL there is an analytic rating that measures a team's total of blocked and unblocked shots in one-goal or overtime situations when both teams are full strength. Florida's rating was a minus-99 in the regular season, ranking 18th in the league, the number suggesting a team that tried to protect leads with puck possession rather than push for additional goals. But in the first four playoff games the Cats are an NHL-leading plus-46, signaling push-forward aggressiveness. How important is tonight? Historically in the NHL Game 5 winners of a 2-2 series go on to win the series 78.4 percent of the time. Late tonight, one team will be one win away from its first Stanley Cup series advance in two decades (Panthers' last was 1996, Islanders' '93).

Tannenbaum"DEAR MIKE TANNENBAUM...:" SETTING DOLPHINS' DRAFT PRIORITY: In six days, next Thursday night, your Miami Dolphins make their first-round selection in the NFL Draft, 13th overall barring a trade up or down. That puts Dolphins roster builder Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) in the throes of a huge decision. What to prioritize with so Draftroommany needs? Will you help him, please? I'll have a Dolphins draft column in this Sunday paper's (online Saturday) and of course will have my annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft in Thursday's paper (online Wednesday). So you'll be getting plenty of my specific thoughts on who the Dolphins should and will select No. 1. Now it's your turn. I invite you to say what you think is Miami's greatest position need and what you think its draft priority should be, assuming a player of comparable talent were available at each position. Say you happen to be in an elevator with Tannebuam. You have 10 seconds to share your thoughts as he pretends to listen. What are you telling him? The poll is alphabetical. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

PatrickzoTRAILER: 'PATRICK & ZO': Sports Illustrated has a new SI Films documentary, Patrick & Zo, newly available on SI.com. The doc explores the kinship and rivalry between menacing defensive giants Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning, who both starred at Georgetown University and then faced each other as star centers throughout their NBA careers. (Zo, of course, is the former Miami Heat star and now a club vice president). Click here to see the film's trailer: Patrick & Zo

GLOBAL HOMICIDE RATES, AND THE LESSON IN THEM: I read with interest the latest annual survey of the Mexican Citizens Council for Public Security, which ranks the world's most dangerous large cities (300,000-plus population) based on the number of homicides per 100,000 people. The dubious top three: Caracas, Venezuela with 119.87; San Pedro Sula, Honduras with 111.03; and DangerSan Salvador, El Salvador with 108.54. Four U.S. cities unfortunately make the top 50: St. Louis is 15th with 59.23, Baltimore 19th with 54.98, Detroit 28th with 43.89 and New Orleans 32nd with 41.44. Ten countries account for all of the top 50 most murderous cities: Brazil with an astounding 21, Venezuela 8, Mexico 5, U.S. and South Africa 4 each, Colombia 3, Honduras 2, and 1 each for El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica. (Click here for an article that includes the entire top 50). Forty-one of the most homicidal cities are Latin American, thanks largely to Brazil. Zero European cities are on the list. Two quick thoughts: 1) I wonder if President Donald Trump will now move to ban all Brazilians from entering the U.S? 2) Notice that zero Muslim countries are in the top 50. Hmm. That is despite radical terrorists (the most indiscriminate murderers of all) inflicting the most havoc on Muslims in countries where they live and unfairly fomenting broad-brush anti-Muslim hysteria in America and elsewhere thanks to folks like Trump. What the latest statistics suggest is that -- if you erased the scourge of terrorism from the globe -- you'd probably be safer from murder living in Baghdad or Raqqa than you would be in St. Louis or Baltimore. We can take whatever lesson or reminder from this that we wish. Here's one, and I think it's a reminder that we Americans in 2016 could use: Terrorists are murderous people. Muslims are not.

SIX SPORTIES ON TIME'S 'MOST INFLUENTIAL' LIST: Time's 2016 100 Most Influential people list (given as a group, not in order) includes, alphabetically: track star Usain Bolt; the Warriors' Stephen Curry; Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton; former UM football player-turned-actor Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson; UFC star Ronda Rousey; and golfer Jordan Spieth. OK, I guess. Each is very successful is his or her field. The influential part is open to interpretation, I reckon.

GONE TOO SOON, PRINCE: The great musician and performer died suddenly yesterday at 57. Recalling his Super Bowl halftime performance in Miami on Feb. 4, 2007, amid a rainstorm and lightning. The show must go on...:

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 18, 2016

This is the Heat team that can beat LeBron and Cavs. Miami 'perfect' in 123-91 Game 1 rout of Charlotte; plus Panthers fall in OT, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Hassan Whiteside and Jaromir Jagr named Heat/Panthers season MVPs & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 18. Heat's Hassan Whiteside finishes third in NBA Defensive Plahyer of Year vote; Spurs' Kawhi Leonard wins again. 2) ESPN's mock-draft picks for Dolphins selecting 13th are two Ohio State Buckeyes -- OLB Darron Lee (says Mel Kiper) and RB Ezekiel Elliott (via Todd McShay). So it won't be either, then. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Panthers tie Islanders series, Dolphins schedule, Heat-Hornets, Heat/Panthers MVP polls, history of Miami playoff games, your Warriors vs. Kobe verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

NEW COLUMN: On Heat's refreshing reliance on rookies Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson: Shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions but available to you now. Click on Rook 1, Rook 2 to read. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: This Is the Upside, off last night's hugely impressive Heat Game 1 win. Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season, off Friday night's necessary Panthers Game 2 win. Now We See About the Panthers, off the series-opening loss.

Cats give one away: The Florida Panthers aren't making it easy on themselves. They lose Game 1 at home. Then, last night, they lost Game 3 in Brooklyn, 4-3 in overtime, after leading 3-1. Florida nows trails their NHL first-round series to the Islanders 2-1, with Game 4 Wednesday night back up there.

G1: HEAT 123, CHARLOTTE 91: DENG, WHITESIDE LEAD 'PERFECT' GAME: As bad as the Heat were in that late collapse in Boston four nights earlier, the Heat were that good Sunday night in starting the playoffs with an impressive home bang. Miami set club playoff records for most points in a game (123) and quarter (41) and most field goals made (49). Goran Dragic called it "a perfect game on both ends." It was almost literally so for Luol Deng (31 points) and Hassan Whiteside (21), who combined for 20-of-24 shooting. Miami wasn't as bad it it looked in Boston last week and can't be as great as it looked Sunday, but we saw how good this team can be. And the team we saw Sunday night can beat anybody in the East, LeBron James and Cleveland included. Game 2 is back here Wednesday night. Click on This Is the Upside for my game column off last night's gem. ..... Original post: When last we saw the Heat on the court, they were Heathornetssundaysuffering a regular season-ending meltdown in Boston akin to Jordan Spieth's in The Masters. No time for a hangover effect now, with the first-round playoffs set to begin as No. 3 seed Miami hosts No. 6 Charlotte this evening in Game 1. Despite the seed disparity both teams were 48-34 in the season and split their series 2-2, so it's understandable that Charlotte is a trendy upset pick with some in the national media. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson will be a challenge, and it's a series where Chris Bosh's absence could be conspicuous after so many weeks of Miami seemingly not missing him. Charlotte has had the third-best record in the league since the all-star break and is 26-9 since Jan. 31. That's impressive. Miami is a narrow betting favorite in this series at 5-8 odds to Charlotte's 8-5, but must prove here that it is capable of playing all the way into the Eastern finals. Miami is one of only five of 122 franchises in the Big Four sports to make the playoffs at least 17 times and win at least three championships in the past 21 seasons, along with Lakers, Spurs, Red Wings and Yankees. The Heat have more playoff seasons than the Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers combined since Miami became a four-sport city in 1993. But I see a serious early challenge here for the Heat. So does ESPN, which ranks this series No. 1 of the eight for upset potential, which it estimates at 46 percent. My pick: Heat in 6 games.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Wow! Miami saves its best game of season for playoff opener:  Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets were a trendy pick to upset the No. 3 Heat in this best-of-seven, but the Heat last night said, "I don't think so." And emphatically, in a 123-91 rout in the downtown bayside arena led by Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside's combined 52 points on combined 20-for-24 shooting. If last night was the real Heat, then this team is capable of beating anybody in the East ... including that guy from Cleveland, whatshisname.

2. PANTHERS: Cats give one away in crucial Game 3 loss to Islanders: One game after Roberto Luongo saved the day for Florida, the Panthers last night blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads in a 4-3 overtime Game 3 loss in Brooklyn. Islanders now are up 2-1, with Game 4 back up in New York Wednesday night. Must win? Well, don't they all sort of feel like that in a best-of-seven playoffs?

3. DOLPHINS: Season schedule is out (uh oh) as Fins prepare for draft: Does new Dolphins coach Adam Gase have enemies? Apparently one — the guy who scheduled Miami to open the season at Seattle and at New England. Fins hope they fare better in the April 28-30 NFL Draft than they did with the schedule. I can't wait for the draft ..mainly because it puts a merciful end to the endless speculation of national mocks drafts and local flat-out guessing on what Miami might do.

4. MARLINS: Shh. Don’t tell anybody, but Fish in midst of homestand: Miami is in the midst of seven games in a row at Marlins Park. The question is, with the Heat and Panthers both in the playoffs and Dolphins’ draft soon, will South Florida even notice? The homestand may not be a good thing, considering it has opened with three straight losses to previously winless Braves, making Miami now 0-5 at home this year. Fish's early-season problem is clear. If your arm is loose, report immediately to the bullpen, please.

5. HURRICANES: UM’s spring game ends offseason football practice: Hurricanes’ annual Spring Game, the first under new coach Mark Richt, was Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Green beating Orange 24-7 behind Brad Kaaya's 345 yards passing before some 14,000 fans at Lockhart Stadium. Want a sad fact? Canes baseball is ranked No. 1 in the nation, but more UM fans care about a glorified football practice taking place five months before season starts.

6. NBA: Big end to regular season segues to playoffs: Basketball's regular season ended with Golden State’s record-setting 73rd win and retiring Kobe Bryant’s 60 points in his final game. Top that, first round!

7. NHL: It's No, Canada! as Stanley Cup playoffs begin: Canada invented hockey. You wouldn't know it. A Canadian team hasn't lifted Lord Stanley's Cup since 1993, and now, for the first time since 1970, no Canadian team even made the playoffs.

8. NFL: Rams trade up for No. 1 pick in draft: Good offseason for Los Angeles. First the city gets the Rams back from St. Louis. Now, in first trade involving a top pick since 2004, the team gets the No. 1 draft pick from Tennessee. 

9. GOLF: Fans still abuzz over Spieth's Masters meltdown: It's been a week and golf fans still can't get over Jordan Spieth blowing The Masters and literally handing over the green jacket to Danny Willett. Then again, at least Jordan, who tied for second, had $880,000 to help dry his tears.

10. SAILING: Miamian wins Star-class world title: Miami and Coral Reef Yacht Club hosted the Star-class world sailing championships, which is of apparent tremendous interest to Star-class sailors. No, seriously, it's a big event, and Miamian Augie Diaz parlayed home-wind advantage to victory.

Missing the cut: Sidelined Chris Bosh addressed his Heat teammates and advised them to "savor the playoffs." Had he told them to take the playoffs for granted, now that woulda been newsworthy! ... Tyler Summitt (Pat's son) resigns in disgrace after impregnating one of his basketball players. Um, what were you thinking, Louisiana Tech, hiring a then 22-year-old as a head coach? ... Dolphins are conducting voluntary offseason workouts, meaning all players are expected to "volunteer" ... FIU's spring football game was canceled by bad weather. No, seriously ... A company called U-Glove makes protective disposable gloves to wear when pumping gas. Shouldn't The U demand a cut of the action? ... MLB going high-tech with iPads in dugouts for analytic research during games. Can an iPad pick up a bat or throw a slider? Then I'm not impressed ... Kyle Busch became first NASCAR driver in 25 years to win multiple races on consecutive weekends. America still doesn't like you, Kyle! ... It has come to our attention badminton is a high-school sport, begging the question, Why?

Jagr WhitesidePOLL RESULTS: HASSAN WHITESIDE, JAROMIR JAGR NAMED HEAT AND PANTHERS' REGULAR-SEASON MVPS: It was a fairly close two-man race on the basketball side, but you had Hassan Whiteside (left) as the Heat's 2015-16 season MVP over Dwyane Wade by 51.8 percent to 41.4%, with the other 6.8% voting for "someone else." Mild upset, or no? It was a landslide on the hockey end. Jaromir Jagr (right) at age 44 won with 62.9 percent of the vote, followed by Roberto Luongo (13.8%), Aleksander Barkov (11.1%) and Aaron Ekblad (also 11.1%), with "someone else" at only 1.1%.

THE LIST: HEAT'S MIAMI REIGN: How often the Miami Heat have made the playoffs relative to SoFla's other other big teams:

Team                Seasons    PO years    Pct.

Miami Heat            28        19           .679

Miami Dolphins     50        16           .320

Florida Panthers     22         5            .227

Miami Marlins       23         2            .087

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 16, 2016

Luongo stars, Panthers win 3-1, tie series 1-1; plus Dolphins' brutal schedule, who are Heat and Panthers' MVPs? (last day to vote!), Heat-Hornets, history of home playoffs in Miami & more

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

Jackierobinson1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 16. Jackie Robinson (pictured) made his historic, barrier-breaking MLB debut yesterday in 1947. 2) 73 & 60: the NBA's biggest regular-season night. I guess Golden State's record 73rd win was bigger historically. (You did; see poll result below). But Kobe Bryant popping for 60 in his grand finale hit all the emotional chords. What a night for the NBA. Top that, playoffs! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat collapse but get 3rd seed and Charlotte, Golden State and Kobe on NBA's huge closing night, your Arison/Cuba verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

QUICK THOUGHT ON DOLPHINS' 2016 SCHEDULE? UH OH: The Fins' '16 schedule begins in a way -- at Seattle, at New England -- that makes you think the NFL put Marquis de Sade in charge of the thing and that Marquis doesn't like Adam Gase very much. No team is likelier than Miami for an 0-2 start. I rattled through the schedule game by game, factoring opponent and home/away, and came up with a 6-10 record, with more of what look like sure losses than certain wins. ESPN's guesstimate was 7-9. Numerically Miami has the third-toughest schedule, based on opponents' combined .535 winning percentage last year. Everybody is chattering about the first two games but the last five also seems a brutal stretch: at Baltimore, vs. Arizona, at N.Y. Jets, at Buffalo and vs. New England. Bottom line: Maybe the Dolphins will surprise us. It'd be about time. But, based on a fast digestion of the new schedule, it does not appear an end to the playoff drought is at hand.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season, off last night's  necessary win. Now We See About the Panthers, off gthe opening loss. Rats & Cats, 20 Years On, as the 2016 Panthers try to reprise the magic of '96. (I don't think I've been writing enough Panthers!)

G2: LUONGO REDEEMS HIMSELF, LEADS 3-1 WIN AS PANTHERS KNOT SERIES 1-1: G2: Roberto Luongo saved 41 of 42 Islanders shots last night in a 3-1 Florida victory tying the playoff series 1-1 as its heads to Brooklyn for the next two games. Reilly Smith scored his third goal in two nights, Nick Bjugstad scored the game-winner, and Dmitry Kulikov had a last-second empty netter. But the story was Luongo's excellence one night after he'd set a club record for most goals allowed in a playoff game. Click on Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season for my column off the game centered on Luongo. G1: Florida led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, giving up the equalizer each time, in an eventual 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their first-round NHL playoff series. Goalkeeper Roberto Luongo was not great but his defense let him down, and now all of the pressure heaps onto the favored Panthersislanders NhlplayoffsPanthers entering Game 2 Friday. I thought Florida in many ways was the better team, especially offensively, but Scoreboard Don't Lie. Click on Now We See About the Panthers for my column from the game. ..... Original post: The Florida Panthers have spent much of their 22-season franchise history playing the underdog. Even in reaching the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals they were the lovable little team nobody expected to get that far. Well, they are the little team no more. At least not in the first round vs. the New York Islanders. The Cats are the clear favorites in this series. They are the division champions with the potent, deep scoring, with the veteran goaltender, and with the perfect blend of savvy experience embodied by Jaromir Jagr still going strong at 44 and by a counterbalance of exciting, blossoming youth. Florida can't even play the "we're due" card this time in search of its first playoff series advance since '96 ... because the Isles haven't won a playoff series since '93! Bigger tests are immediately ahead, such as Tampa Bay (likely) in the next round, but I'd be surprised if the Islanders presented much of a problem. My pick: Panthers in 5 games.

ON HEAT-CHARLOTTE HORNETS: MIAMI GOT LUCKY. OR DID IT?: [Game 1 here Sunday] The Heat ended the NBA regular season with a second half in Boston that made you think Erik Spoelstra's halftime pep talk involved handing out Melatonin to his players as piped-in Yanni music softly played. Yet despite the collapse Miami still somehow managed
 Nbaplayoffsto secure the No. 3 seed, Heathornetswhich brings in Charlotte as the first-round foe and also avoids LeBron and Cleveland until a possible conference-finals meeting. The general narrative is that Miami lucked out ... but, are you sure about that? Miami and Charlotte were 2-2 during the season, the Hornets scoring seven more total points. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson will be a challenge, and it's a series where Chris Bosh's absence could be conspicuous after so many weeks of Miami seemingly not missing him. Charlotte has had the third-best record in the league since the all-star break and are 26-9 since Jan. 31. That's impressive. Miami is a narrow betting favorite in this series, 5-8 odds to Charlotte's 8-5, with both 100-1 longshots to win the NBA title. I see a serious challenge for Miami. So does ESPN, which ranks this series No. 1 of the eight for upset potential, which it estimates at 46 percent. My pick: Heat in 6 games.

WHO WERE HEAT AND PANTHERS' REGULAR-SEASON MVPS?: For the Heat the list is short: Dwyane Wade or Hassan Whiteside (that's alphabetical). Cannot see including anyone else; Chris Bosh just missed too big a chunk of the season. For the Panthers it's more complicated but I narrowed it down to four main contenders, also listed alphabetically. Have your say in both polls, and check back often to monitor evolving results. Which Heater and Panther have meant the most to their team's playoff season?

THE HISTORY OF HOME PLAYOFF GAMES FOR OUR BIG FOUR TEAMS: With the Panthers hosting their first-round opener of the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight vs. the New York Islanders and the Heat hosting their first-round Game 1 vs. the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday, we thought a quick review of South Florida home playoff history was in order:

108: Miami Heat: This is the 19th playoff season. Have played 39 postseason series totaling 108 home games. Home playoff record 78-30, .722. Highest stakes/biggest home games: Heat has hosted 16 NBA Finals games, winning championships on its home floor in 2012 and '13.

22: Miami Dolphins: Team has had 16 playoff seasons. Have played 22 postseason home games. Home playoff record 15-7, .682. Highest stakes/biggest home games: Dolphins have hosted six AFC Championship Games, winning in 1971, 1973, 1982 and 1984, and losing in 1985 and 1992. 

22: Florida Panthers: This is fifth playoff season. Are playing in eighth postseason series totaling 22 home games through last night. Home playoff record 11-11, .500. Highest stakes/biggest home games: Panthers hosted two Stanley Cup Finals games in 1996 but were swept, so biggest home game may have been the Game 6 win in conference finals that forced a Game 7 in Pittsburgh. 

18: Miami Marlins: Team has had two playoff seasons. Have played six postseason series totaling 17 home games. Home playoff record 11-6, .647. Highest stakes/biggest home games: Marlins have hosted seven World Series games, winning the championship at home in a dramatic Game 7 on Oct. 26, 1997.

HEAT vs. CHARLOTTE HORNETS:

G1: HOME Sunday 17th 5:30 p.m.

G2: HOME Wednesday 20th 7 p.m.

G3: @ CHA Saturday 23rd 5:30 p.m.

G4: @ CHA Monday 25th time tbd

G5*: HOME Wednesday 27th time tbd

G6*: @ CHA Friday 29th time tbd

G7*: HOME Sunday 1st time tbd

PANTHERS vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS:

G1: Islanders 5, Panthers 4

G2: Panthers 2, Islanders 1.

G3: @ NYI Sunday 17th 8 p.m.

G4: @ NYI Wednesday 20th 8 p.m.

G5*: HOME Friday 22nd time tbd

G6*: @ NYI Sunday 24th time tbd

G7*: HOME Tuesday 26th time tbd

Poll result: Warriors' record swamps Kobe's finale for night's biggest event: We asked which was bigger to close the NBA regular season -- the Warriors' record 73rd win or Kobe Bryant's final game, and it was Warriors routing Kobe by 72.1 percent to 27.9%. The result surprised me a bit. At the least, shouldn't it have been closer?

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