July 27, 2016

Football! Set the bar on expectations: How many games will Dolphins and Hurricanes win this season? 2 new polls. Vote now!

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

Asglogo1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 27. I'll be off on vacation through Sunday, August 7. Will be out of the newspaper (print and online) in terms of new stuff, mostly away from this blog and also off the LeBatard Show air until returning the week of August 8. However I'll still tap in on social media while away, so join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat. 2) Pictured right, the new Marlins' 2017 All-Star Game logo.

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating a chance for Dolphins and Canes. Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp nears. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

"Dear Bernie Sanders supporters: Welcome to adult politics. Grow up, please. Get over yourselves. Could you try to accept defeat with a modicum of grace? Thanks!" --Greg Cote

SETTING THE BAR ON DOLPHINS AND HURRICANES EXPECTATIONS...: On the upcoming calendar for our major local teams and beyond: Dolphins are upon us. Team opens training camp on July 29. First exhibition game is Aug. 12. Season starts Sept. 11 at Seattle. Canes football is here. ACC Football Kickoff is in the books. UM's first practice is Aug. 4. Season opens Sept. 3 vs. Florida Dolphins HurricanesA&M. Marlins continue chasing NL playoff spot and Ichiro reaches 3,000 hits (was at 2,997 as we wrote this) and Dee Gordon returns. Olympics' Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro begin Aug. 5, ready or not. (And sure seems it's not). Tennis' U.S. Open draws near. It starts Aug. 29. Panthers are quiet. Cats open preseason Sept. 26 and regular hockey schedule Oct. 13. Heat are quiet. Dead of offseason. Training camp will begin in late September. It is the gradual onset of football that tops the local plate as I set out on holiday, with the Dolphins and then the Canes hitting the practice field under promising new coaches in Adam Gase and Mark Richt. So it is time to set the bar on expectations for each team with separate polls. This is not asking what you wish or hope, but what your honest/realistic expectations are. In other words, pick the projected victory total for each team that you'd bet on if given $100 to place on any one number. For the Dolphins pick a number based on a 16-game regular season. For UM pick the final total based on a 12-game season with the additional possibility of an ACC Championship Game and a bowl game (or two bowls games if you make the College Football Playoff). Ten seems to be the magic number for each team. For the Dolphins that would all but assure an elusive playoff spot. For the Canes that would be a standard the program last achieved in 2003. So how realistically optimistic are you for each team? We'll leave these polls up the entire time we're away. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 25, 2016

Canes football picked 2nd in ACC division; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Ichiro, Fins, Canes; also, NFL clears Peyton, football town again?, Tannehill a new daddy, SABR nerds coming, Dolphins fantasy leaders & more

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

Laurentannehill1) It is MONDAY, JULY 25. Ichiro is still at 2,996 hits after striking out yesterday as a pinchhitter.  He is not in tonight's starting lineup. 2) Former Dolphins receiver Greg Jennings retired this morning. 3) Pictured right is first-time mother Lauren Tannehill, whose baby delivered on Sunday made Ryan Tannehill a first-time daddy. Lauren is shown in a photo she posted on Twitter July 16. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA moves All-Star game with poll, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, Canes at ACC Football Kickoff, NFL MVP odds & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

NFL exonerates Peyton Manning: From the league today: "Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances." Cloud dissipates. R.I.P.: Retire In Peace.

Can Dolphins, Canes make this a football town again?: I explore the question in my latest Sunday column. Click on A Chance for Football to Retake Miami to read. The Marlins are hot at the moment, but, with Dwyane Wade gone from the Heat, a window opens for the Dolphins and UM football as both set forth with promising new coaches.  

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

SabrBaseball nerds on parade!: I'm kidding, sort of. Not everybody who belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is a nerd. Although you will find a disproportionately high percentage of statistics-obsessed sabermetric-heads, defined here as people who are aware of and casually refer to "babip" (batting average on balls in play). Anyway, SABR holds its 46th annual convention in downtown Miami at the Hyatt Regency this week, July 27-31, including a Friday ballpark session at Marlins Park. Think of it as like a comic-con for intellectually serious baseball fans including those who are convinced A's general manager Billy Beane may be the human incarnation of God. Fans may attend the convention, by the way, though it isn't free. Click on sabr.org/convention for details and and schedule.

AccCANES PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN ACC COASTAL: Miami Hurricanes are predicted to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division this season in a vote of ACC football media. UM received 50 first-place votes and 1,108 points to North Carolina's 121 and 1,238. Clemson is the pick in the Atlantic Division, its 148 first-place votes and 1,293 points beating Florida State's 42 and 1,176. For the overall conference championship it was Clemson 144 votes, FSU 39, North Carolina 7 and Louisville. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson is a huge favriet for ACC Player of the Year with 164 votes, followed by FSU RB Dalvin Cook with 18. Canes QB Brad Kaaya ties for fourth with 2 votes.

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. MARLINS: Ichiro on brink of 3,000 owns center-stage in Marlins homestand: Ichiro enters tonight's game with 2,996 hits. Dee Gordon is close to returning from suspension. And the Marlins are on playoff pace and looking to spend to acquire a starting pitcher before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Miami, you have run out of good excuses to not support this team.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins sign Foster, prepare to open first camp under Gase: Miami bolstered its running back situation by signing veteran Arian Foster as it prepared to open training camp under new coach Adam Gase with its first practice this coming Friday. Dolfans seem to love the Gase hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet.

3. HURRICANES: UM ceremonially kicks off start of football as first practice nears: Coach Mark Richt and QB Brad Kaaya spoke optimistically to media at ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte as program prepares for Aug. 4 start of preseason practice. Canes fans love the Richt hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet, either.

4. OLYMPICS: Russian doping scandal adds to beleaguered Rio Games: With the chaos-marred Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro only 12 days away, the IOC on Sunday ruled against a total ban of the Russian team over a doping scandal. Still, cheating Russians deserve a gall medal for gumption.

5. NBA: All-Star Game moved over controversial law: Its star players are outspoken against police-involved violence, now league itself steps into political arena by moving its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over that state's controversial anti-LGBT law. Leagues and athletes showing a social conscience? Good for them.

6. CYCLING: Froome wins Tour de France, again: Defending champion Chris Froome of Great Britain made it three wins in the last four years. I don't wanna say Froome had a safe lead, but he could race have raced Sunday's final stage on an 1890s-style bicycle with the giant front wheel and still finished first.

7. GOLF: Tiger still out as PGA Championship dawns: As year's final major, the 98th PGA Championship, begins this coming Thursday in New Jersey, Tiger Woods announced his back and other ailments will keep him out rest of the year. Tiger, don't keep telling us you're out. We assume that by now. Tell us when you're in.

8. BASEBALL: Griffey, Piazza inducted into Cooperstown: Baseball Hall of Fame added Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza in Sunday induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y. Griffey was untainted by even the slightest rumor of steroid use. Piazza? Wellllll...

9. SOCCER: Strikers out in U.S. Open, leaving Lockhart: The NASL Fort Lauderdale Strikers were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the all-comers U.S. Open Cup, losing 3-0 at the MLS Chicago Fire. Strikers also announced they are leaving iconic Lockhart Stadium for Central Broward Stadium. And the ghosts of 1977 wept.

10. POLITICS: Presidential race pivots from Republican convention to Democrats: Republicans just nominated Donald Trump, now Democrats are about to anoint Hillary Clinton as America tries to decide which candidate it dislikes and mistrusts less. To sports fans, it's like being forced to watch a game where you don't like either team.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Heat are quiet right now. Resting. It's very tiring not getting Kevin Durant and then losing Dwyane Wade! ..... Marlins' Christian Yelich went on Twitter to vehemently deny it was him seen in a video being, um, ah, extremely intimate with a female. After being informed his denial is what brought attention to it, he deleted his denial. "How NOT to Handle a Social Media Crisis 101" ..... White Sox ace Chris Sale shredded his uniform to protest the throwback style, missing Saturday's start. Talk about a fashion critic! ..... Derrick Rose says the Knicks are now being put in the same "super team" class as the Warriors. Yes, Derrick. But only by people who are mentally deranged ..... Jeff Gordon is coming out of retirement for a couple of races to replace concussed Dale Earnhardt Jr. Athletes are just not very good at retiring. Don't know when to. Don't know how to ..... An ESPN-affiliated ACC Network will debut in 2019. Yeah, because ESPN just doesn't have nearly enough platforms (!) ..... R.I.P., local basketball pillar Cesar Odio, 58, and ex-NFL coach Dennis Green, 67 ..... Somebody check on Miko Grimes. Make sure she's OK. Been almost a week since she last embarrassed herself and her husband on Twitter. ..... It's said the NFL doesn't like HBO's "Ballers." Should be the NFLPA that doesn't. Seems like every other scene in that series perpetuates stereotypes about black players partying on yachts ..... Saw the headline, 'Manny Pacquiao's return could revive interest in boxing'. And thought, "Man, how awful that boxing is that desperate!" ..... Answer: A new sport called "footvolley" -- soccer meets beach volleyball; no hands allowed -- will debut as a demonstration sport at Summer Olympics. Question: What do you mean there are too many ridiculous, made-up sports? ..... Hurricanes are about to reveal naming rights for their new football indoor practice facility. I cannot confirm the rumors: Greg Cote Dome.

JlandryEARLY FANTASY LOOK AT WHERE DOLPHINS PLAYERS RANK: The lists and cheat-sheets have begun trickling forth, which means fantasy football season is underway. ESPN's early standard-league Top 300 (full list here) includes nine Miami Dolphins, in this order: 42. Jarvis Landry (wr#21), pictured left; 52. DeVante Parker (wr#28); 95. Jay Ajayi (rb#36); 103. Arian Foster (rb#39); 164. Kenyan Drake (rb#55); 182. Leonte Carroo (wr#67); 194. Ryan Tannehill (qb#20); 197. Jordan Cameron (te#19); and 229. Kenny Stills (wr#85). Interestingly, at least to me, Ajayi and Foster are just about neck and neck. And surprisingly, to me, the Dolphins are not among the 22 defense/special teams to make the Top 300.

Poll result: Close, but most disagree with NBA moving its All-Star Game: We asked if you agree with the NBA pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of North Carolina's anti-LGBT law, and it was 54.3 percent "no," 42.8% "yes" and 2.9% "undecided or mixed feelings." That means most of our readers are more conservative than I am, but that's OK. Free country! I did find it interesting that "yes" votes led comfortably early on before the no's took over.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 23, 2016

Is NBA right to pull '17 All-Star Game from Charlotte over anti-LGBT law? New poll. Vote now!; plus new NFL MVP odds, Canes' Richt at ACC Kickoff, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, your verdict on Ajayi vs. Foster & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 23. Ichiro is at 2,996 hits after going 0-for-1 in last night's homestand-opening Marlins loss, and is not in starting lineup tonight. Now likely his milestone hit wouldn't come before Monday at earliest. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins sign Arian Foster with poll, Canes football on "surprise" list, LeBron James parties & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

New NFL MVP odds: Via Bovada, Packers' Aaron Rodgers opens as betting favorite to win NFL MVP award at 4-1 odds, followed by Ben Roethlisberger 7-1, Cam Newton 15-2, Russell Wilson 8-1 and Tom Brady 9-1, the latter devalued because of four-game suspension. Top Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 150-1, tied for 34th.

NBA LEADS WAY IN LEAGUES/ATHLETES DELVING INTO POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES: The NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver made good on a threat Thursday and removed the league's 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, N.C., because that state's refusal to repeal a law that critics say is anti-LGBTQ and encourages discrimination based on sex and gender. But, that same day, Nbaasg17in that same Charlotte, the ACC Football Kickoff (including the Miami Hurricanes) was held. Clearly, sports is still feeling its way in terms of whether to act or not in decisions that are political or involve social issues. Also, clearly, the NBA is leading the way on action. Just last week, it was four NBA star who opened the ESPY Awards with powerful statements agsint gun violence and shooting by and of police. There still is uncertainty, though, as seen in the WNBA, which fined players from three teams for wearing T-shirts during warmups Thursday in protest of recent police-related violence, yet in a statement said, "We are proud of WNBA players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues." Hmm. What to do? Should leagues and athletes "stick to sports" and not blur the line on social activism? Or is it right that leagues and players, as role models, lead the way in weighing in on such stuff? I align with the latter view. We offer this poll as a microcosm or indication of how our readers feel on this broad question. I'll vote "yes," but it is your consensus that will paint the picture. Vote now, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

FAREWELL, LOCKHART STADIUM: AN ODE TO THE ORIGINAL STRIKERS: [Click on Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham for our latest column. An alternate blog-exclusive version follows here] This was circa 1977-83, pre-Major League Soccer, when the original North American Soccer League had earned a foothold in this country, and when the original Fort FtlstrikersLauderdale Strikers had done the same locally, winning a loyal and considerable following. Lockhart Stadium, off I-95 and Commercial, filled to near its 20,000- Rayhudsonseat capacity for most home games. It was intimate, conveying a Fenway or Wrigley vibe for the lads in the bumblebee uniforms. Tailgating was huge. Fans showed up hours early. Strikers flags waved in the parking lots amid the rising smoke from cookout grills. This was pre-Heat, Marlins or Panthers. Other than Dolphins and Canes the Strikers  were the biggest thing in town. Lockhart Stadium is where showman-coach Ron Newman once rose from a coffin at midfield to demonstrate his team's resilience. Where a young blond Brit named Ray Hudson (pictured) made the women swoon. Where European legends like Gerd Muller and Georgie Best played their career's winters. Where a Rotten to the Cor banner flew against Dutch coach Cor Van der Hart. I covered those early Strikers teams as a fulltime beat, my first big break and major assignment for the Miami Herald. Interest (and travel budgets) were high, so all of a sudden I'm a kid being sent to Vancouver to cover a team. It seemed like a big deal. And it was, for a time. Now fast forward almost 40 years, if you can believe that. MLS is futbol king in America now. The NASL is still Ronnewmanaround, but as a diminished, second-tier league. The Strikers are still around in their latest iteration, but a shell of their former selves. This week those Strikers, currently averaging a meager 1,310 fans per game, worst in the NASL, announced they are leaving Lockhart for Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill (starting Aug. 20), which is one-fourth the capacity. It may be because Lockhart is now old and decrepit. Or because developers want to turn that area into a water theme park. Or because the Strikers are waving a white towel and admitting a team playing to 85 percent empty seats presents a depressing tableau. It may be some of all of that. What it also is: A chapter ending for a small but not insignificant piece of South Florida sports history. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Lockhart Stadium -- the original version. There was a time when that marriage was strong and supported buoyantly, back in the day, before Greater Miami boomed into a major sports town, and it should remain the template as David Beckham continues trying to realize his dream for an MLS team in Miami. Strikers home games were an event, Lockhart was home, and in the teeming crowd it felt like you were surrounded by friends and neighbors. Farewell, Original Strikers at Lockhart. It didn't end right, but those halcyon days as the late '70s turned to early '80s contributed some special snapshots to the album of our sports history.

Poll result: Foster edges Ajayi for Dolphins RB in closest vote ever: We asked which running back you expect will have the bigger role in Dolphins' offense this season, and it was newly acquired Arian Foster edging young Jay Ajayi by 50.9 percent to 49.1% as we called it final. I cannot think of a closer either/or vote in all the years of our blog polls. The lead went back and forth. You truly were torn.

WHAT MARK RICHT SAID TO ACC MEDIA THAT REALLY MATTERED: University of Miami's time slot was this week at the ACC Football Kickoff and media days in Charlotte. We cull though the boring stuff and bring you what we found most notable from coach Mark Richt: On the season and immediate outlook: "If we do things right and don't do things to hurt ourselves, there's a great chance to have Theusuccess. And then, once we get the ball rolling, I think people will say, 'Miami is back.' I don’t think people will say, 'Miami’s having a good year.' They'll say, 'Miami’s back.' You can say you’re back when you have the tradition of five national championships in the last 30 years." On his attitude with assistant coaches: "I got to cherry-pick guys that would really buy into how I like to do things. I told the coaches that I am coaching QBs again, I'm calling plays, I'm getting in the middle of this offense. I don't have time to baby-sit anybody. I tell them if I have to motivate you, we've got a problem. If I’ve got to motivate a staff member to do his job, I’m probably going to get another staff member." On his deep religious beliefs: "I happen to be a Christian. That's just what I am. I'm not using it. I think we need to be true to who we are, what we believe. I'm not trying to make anybody believe anything I believe. I just want to do things in a way that I think God would be pleased with me. That's my goal on a daily basis. I'm not trying to use anything. I'm just trying to be who I am." On recruiting and relationships: "The big thing is to make sure that the high school coaches know that they're welcome in our place, that we want to recruit their guys, we want the local guys to stay home, and we want to be honest with everybody and do our recruiting in a way that everybody appreciates." On his goal for UM in 2016: "Win the Coastal division. Get back to the ACC championship game." Pictured, apropos of nothing: Snoop (The U) Dogg.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 20, 2016

Jay Ajayi vs. Arian Foster: Who'll have bigger role in Dolphins offense? Our closest poll ever! Last day to vote; plus LeBron arrives discreetly at a club, Canes football predicted among 2016 "surprise" teams, wonder of Ichiro, new 'Back In My Day' & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 20. Florida Panthers and 560-WQAM have extended their partnership. Good for 'QAM. Cats poised to be good for years and a growing presence in our market. 2) R.I.P., Garry Marshall, 81, who produced a lot of the '70s TV that amused America, including, of course, 'Happy Days.' 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins sign Arian Foster, your verdict on Ross as Fins owner & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new 'Back In My Day': Click here for yesterday's LeBatard Show podcast from ESPN Radio. The latest 'Back In My Day' segment, on Hour 2, kicks in around the 16-minute mark.

IchiroIchiro! Ichiro!: He's a national icon and treasure in Japan. He'll probably enter Cooperstown as a Seattle Mariner. But it is Miami and the Marlins who luck to write the final career chapter for the great Ichiro and see his run to 3,000 MLB hits. Click on Ichiro! for today's latest column, an unabashed appreciation.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or think they deserve another look: Ichiro! , the latest, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

ArianfosterWHAT TO MAKE OF DOLPHINS' ARIAN FOSTER SIGNING?:  Miami's interest in possibly recycling used running back Arian Foster first surfaced in March, when I wrote this column. Fourteen weeks later, the signing looks better to me because Foster, coming off major knee surgery, is completely healthy now (he says; he wasn't then) and passed a physical. It also looks better because the Fins got him on a very low-risk deal: an incentive-laden one-year contract of which a mere $400,000 is guaranteed. By NFL standards, he's a fry cook at McDonald's in terms of compensation. If he proves unhealthy or washed up, the team hasn't lost much on the gamble. But if he can resurrect himself, turning 30 in August, for a last hurrah? He could be the veteran presence who balances young second-year guy Jay Ajayi if he doesn't win the starting job altogether. For what it's worth, "I still feel like I'm a Pro Bowl caliber player, and I intend to show that," Foster said upon signing.

CANES FOOTBALL PREDICTED TO BE AMONG 2016 "SURPRISE TEAMS": Phil Steele writing for ESPN. com names "the 13 biggest CFB surprise teams for 2016" and the Miami Hurricanes check in RichtNo. 6 on his list. (Full story here). I think most experts think the Canes will be pretty good, so I'm a bit surprised they're on a "surprising teams" list. Nevertheless! Excerpts from Phil's reasoning: "Mark Richt will get the most out of the talent on hand. [Brad] Kaaya will be one of the top QBs taken in next year's draft. Miami has my No. 13 running back group, No. 21 receivers, No. 16 offensive line, No. 20 defensive line, No. 36 linebackers, No. 30 defensive backs and No. 15 special-teams unit. The Hurricanes are one of only 11 teams to rank in my top units in all eight position categories. They face only three teams that will be in the preseason top 25, and if they win the Coastal, beat the powerful Atlantic champ and have either zero or one losses, they will be headed to the playoffs." Whoa, big fella, whooaa! You had me at the nice stuff about Richt (pictured) and Kaaya. But those are skyscraper-sized ifs leading to the top four and College Football Playoff.

LebronLEBRON CELEBRATES TITLE: LeBron James is pictured celebrating his Cleveland Cavaliers' NBA championship on Monday night at Marquee nightclub inside the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas. (Photo is courtesy Tony Tran Photography). LeBron began his night in the private dining room of the restaurant Beauty & Essex. After dinner the former Heat star and his entourage hit the nightclub as countless smart-phones recorded his arrival. The UNLV Marching Band played "We Are the Champions" as the entourage strode a red carpet along the pool deck as fireworks boomed overhead. Upon arrival the Marquee staff inundated the James group with a parade of bottles of Ace of Spades champagne - gratis, of course. Seven Cavaliers teammates including Kyrie Irving were in James' party, which also included Chris Paul. Well, it's good to see LeBron didn't get special treatment or anything. Nope, just a regular guy arriving at a club.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 18, 2016

Dolphins exhume career of Arian Foster; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Riley, Fish, Canes, Phil, Fins, France, ESPYs, UFC; also my Pat Riley column, your verdict on Stephen Ross & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Why Stephen Ross is smart and rich with rate-him-as-Dolphins-owner poll, D-Wade's ex-wife causing more trouble, HistoryMiami Museum's 'Beyond the Game,' updated World Series odds, the shame of Dani Mathers, your verdict on Brady/Fins & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On the Dolphins and Arian Foster: NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported via Tweet this afternoon, "RB Arian Foster is signing with the Dolphins, source said." Other reports are that it is a 1-year deal. Foster is coming off major knee surgery. Miami's interest in possibly recycling the used running back first surfaced in late March, when I wrote this column. Not much has changed in 14 weeks in term of my opinion.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or think they deserve another look: Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, the latest, as Riley admits regrets over Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports.

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:

1. HEAT: Riley "floored" by Wade exit, admits regrets: Summer for the Heat ended with the team missing out on Kevin Durant and then losing Dwyane Wade, followed by an NBA Summer League that saw Miami's developmental players finish 6-5 and fail to reach today/Monday's title game in Las Vegas. Pat Riley on Saturday called it a "tough, summer, period," and admitted he regrets not doing more and being more personally involved in trying to keep Wade. No do-overs, Pat.

Hotbutton2. MARLINS: Stanton, Ichiro in spotlight as second half begins: Playoff-chasing Fish are hoping Giancarlo Stanton's record-setting Home Run Derby triumph during the All-Star break continues to carry over as season's second half is underway in midst of a seven-game road trip. Team's next big hope: That Ichiro's upcoming 3,000th hit milestone (he's within six) happens at home.

3. HURRICANES: ACC Football Kickoff ceremonially launches season: Canes reinstated RB Mark Walton after a DUI charge was dropped, lost WR Lawrence Cager for the year to an injury, and now prepare to open fall practice Aug. 4. But first the program heads to Charlotte for ACC Kickoff media events this coming Thursday. UM's three representatives will be new coach Mark Richt, star quarterback Brad Kaaya and, somehow, for reasons unclear, punter Justin Vogel.

4. GOLF: Phil falls in finale of British Open: Phil Mickelson, nearly as old as golf itself, opened with a majors-record-tying 63 but lost by three shots to Henrik Stenson on Sunday as the British Open wrapped up in in Scotland. Most outside of Sweden surely were rooting for Phil, but you felt good for Stenson raising the Claret Jug for his first major victory.

5. DOLPHINS: Brady ruling, Forbes list both pluses for Fins: As team auditions free agent running back Arian Foster and prepares to open training camp July 29, Dolphins caught break as appeals court upheld four-game Deflategate suspension of Patriots QB Tom Brady. Meanwhile Fins were ranked 33rd among Top 50 most valuable sports franchises in world by Forbes, at $1.85 billion, an increase of 42 percent in one year. Which means Stephen Ross already got his money back on those $400 million in stadium renovations.

6. CYCLING: Tour de France continues with heavy hearts: Cycling's premier annual race continues through this coming Sunday despite last week's terrorist attack that killed 84 in Nice, France on the country's southern coast. Don't care who wins the race, as long as civilization is winning over terror.

7. ESPY AWARDS: NBA stars' opening message steals show: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul began the broadcast with a poignant message against gun violence in wake of recent police-involved shootings. The handing out of awards that followed hardly mattered.

8. TIM DUNCAN: Spurs' all-time great retires: Duncan retired at age 40 as a five-time NBA champion and 15-time all-star. He is 17th in career points and No. 1 all-time in bland.

9. UFC: Mixed-martial arts franchise sells for $4 billion: Remember when you thought UFC was too brutally violent to catch on with the mainstream? When we thought it was a fad that wouldn't last? WME-IMG just bet $4 billion that we were wrong.

10. SOCCER: Strikers in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal this week: The NASL Fort Lauderdale Strikers will play at the MLS Chicago Fire this Wednesday in a the quarterfinal match of the all-comers U.S. Open Cup. If you reach the final, can we get Ray Hudson to call the game?

Missing the HB10 cut: Republican National Convention begins today in Cleveland. OK, y'all had the Cavs this year. That's enough winning ..... In tennis, Croatia stunned the U.S, in quarterfinals of the Davis Cup. "Even I'm surprised," said Davis ..... Max Kellerman will replace Skip Bayless on ESPN's 'First Take.' Stephen A. Smith took 15  minutes and used 4,688 syllables to say, "Welcome." ..... Bulletin: Miko Grimes is still an idiot ..... Miami gymnast Danell Leyva made the U.S. Olympic team replacing an injured teammate ..... Back for its season premiere on Sunday is HBO's "Ballers," starring Dwayne Johnson as a guy who isn't really that good an actor but became rich and famous anyway ..... The WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks are 20-1. Dare you to name a single player ..... HistoryMiami Museum premiered 'Beyond The Game," on the history of sports in the evolution of South Florida ..... Broncos signed Von Miller to a 6-year, $114.5 million deal, more than half of it guaranteed. "See, we're not the only ones with silly-big contracts," said the NBA ..... MLB All-Star Game drew a record-low 5.4 TV rating. I think that means Stanton hit more home runs Monday night than there were viewers on Tuesday ..... Red Sox-Yankees. It's still the best rivalry in sports and I'll hear no arguments ..... We're 19 days from start of Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio. "Holy s---! Really?" said Brazil. "We better get started on those facilities!" ..... Cooperstown prepares for next week's Hall of Fame Weekend events. As always, prohibited items include fireworks, glass containers and Pete Rose ..... Ricky Williams is entering the cannabis business. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Marlins signed top draft pick Braxton Garrett, surprising the zero people who worried they wouldn't ..... Manny Pacquiao is coming out of retirement. Or, did that also go without saying? ..... Dwyane Wade's ex-wife is trying to hit him up for more money. Or, did that also go without saying? ..... Cows fly. Hell is frozen. An American golfer, Brittany Lang, not a South Korean, won the U.S. Women's Open ..... That reminds me. Why is golf a new Olympic sport if none of the men golfers seem to want to compete? ..... Sepp Blatter is appealing his six-year ban from soccer, even though no one on the face of the Earth likes him including Mrs. Blatter ..... Bartolo Colon looks like the first runnerup in a Fred Flintstone lookalike contest ..... The Panthers wrapped up their five-day developmental camp and held a news conference to introduce new players, with GM Tom Rowe again all but promising a Stanley Cup. Give him credit. Lots of balls for a guy in a sport with no ball ..... A Playboy bunny named Dani Mathers body-shamed another woman on social media. So let me get this straight. A woman who wears a cottontail and rabbit ears made fun of somebody else? ..... The Miami Gun Show is back at Dade County Fairgrounds ending today. Because, once again, there just aren't nearly enough guns in America!!

Poll result: Mixed views on Stephen Ross as Dolphins owner. But a warming trend?: This is a change. Ross is not quite as unpopular as he once was. We asked what best describes your opinion of the job he is doing as Dolphins owner and a plurality of 37.5 percent voted "so-so but getting better." However, the negative votes (24.1% "not very successful," 16.7% "unmitigated failure") outnumbered the positive votes (14.5% "somewhat successful," 7.2% "very successful"). Positive spin? If you include "so-so but getting better" on the plus side, then the pro-Ross votes outweigh the anti-Ross votes by 59.2% to 40.8%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 16, 2016

Hurt, regretful but resolute, Pat Riley fights on. My new column; plus is Stephen Ross a good owner? Poll. Vote now!; also, D-Wade's ex after him again, HistoryMiami Museum's sports project, shame of Dani Mathers, your verdict of Brady/Fins impact & more

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

Nice1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 16. Our thoughts are with the people of Nice, France, a lovely town I have had the pleasure to visit, in the wake of the latest terrorist attack. The people committing these acts are the the biggest cowards in the history of mankind. If only our prayers were helping. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady suspension upheld with Dolphins poll, grading Marlins' All-Star performances, the ESPYS and NBA stars' anti-violence video, new MLB odds, Greg's Lobos news & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they merited another look: Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, the latest, on impact of Tom Brady's upheld suspension. The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical issues with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell to Wade. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on setting a template. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees.

MY NEW PAT RILEY COLUMN: A wistful but ultimately resolute Riley spoke at length today about his regrets concerning Dwyane Wade's departure, Chris Bosh's health and the Heat moving forward. Click on Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On for my new column, shipping to Sunday's inky pulp editions but online now. 

D-Wade's ugly divorce hasn't stopped being ugly: Dwyane Wade's divorce from childhood crush Siohvaughn Funchess ended in 2013 with a $5 million-pus settlement. Or, not. She is now asking the Cook County courts to dismiss her settlement agreement and is going after a cut of his new $47 million deal with the Chicago Bulls. Click here for the latest via the Chicago Tribune.

Updated World Series odds: As second half of MLB season starts, the Cubs (6-1) and Giants (13-2) now are virtual co-favorites to win the World Series, via sportsbettingdime.com, with the Rangers (9-1) and Nationals (10-1) next. The Marlins are a mid-pack 50-1, tied for 15th. Giancarlo Stanton is 8-1 to hit 50 homers, second only to Mark Trumbo at 4-1.

WHY DOLPHINS OWNER STEPHEN ROSS IS SMARTER (NOT TO MENTION RICHER) THAN US: You don't get to be worth $7 billion like Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is by making dumb business decisions. So when Ross, 76, decided to reach into his own deep pockets for some $400 million in massive, ongoing improvements to his and his team's stadium (including that Srossenormous canopy), he was justifiably given much credt for doing it himself rather than begging tax dollars from the public trough. It wasn't pure altruism, though. It was 42 Dolphinsbusiness. An investment in his own net wealth. And the latest Forbes ranking of the world's 50 most valuable sports franchises for 2016 verifies how smart Ross was in knowing he'd get his 400K back, and fast. The Miami Dolphins make the list as 33rd overall with a value of $1.85 billion. That is mid-pack (16th) among all NFL franchises, but represents a huge 42 percent increase over the previous year -- attributable largely to the stadium makeover. Only six of the 32 franchises more valauble than the Dolphins had a larger one-year spike in overall value. Twenty-seven of the 50 teams on the list are NFL clubs, by the way, led by the Dallas Cowboys, No. 1 overall valued at $4 billion. The remaining teams are from the NBA (8), international soccer (8) and MLB (7). The Miami Heat are just outside the Top 50. Bottom line? Give Ross enormous credit for paying for these stadium upgrades himself. Yes. But understand he knew very well it would be an investment that would pay for itself. And it already has, even as the construction workers and cranes continue to swarm over the stadium. Here's a poll on how you think Ross has been as Dolphins owner:

HISTORYMIAMI MUSEUM'S 'BEYOND THE GAME': "Beyond the Game: Sports and the Evolution of South Florida" premieres today/Saturday and runs through Jan. 15 at HistoryMiami Museum, 101 West Flagler Street. The Museum's own description: "Since the 1920s, sporting events and institutions have both mirrored and shaped the growth of South Florida. Miami Jai-Alai and Hialeah
Historymiamimuseum HistorymiamiPark two of the area’s earliest sporting attractions, lured northern tourists with, respectively, the spectacles of jai alai, an ancient Basque game imported from Cuba, and horse racing. Along with the annual collegiate Orange Bowl Game, these quickly became world-famous draws and by the mid-century were helping fuel the public fascination with South Florida as a locus of sun, fun, and leisure. It was an image that eventually would draw not only visitors, but transplants to the region. By the early 1960s, Miami-Dade’s population topped one million, including thousands of new arrivals from Cuba. One of these, a young architect, designed a venue for the distinctly South Florida sport of powerboat racing that captured the optimism and exuberance of the era: Miami Marine Stadium. At the same time, across the bay on Miami Beach, the Fifth Street Gym emerged, in the words of one observer, as “an island of democracy” amid the realities of Jim Crow segregation. It also made South Florida an epicenter of boxing. Professional sports franchises — and the rise of one very prominent college football team — followed in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, cementing South Florida’s sporting legacy and acknowledging its status as a modern metropolis." Call the museum for more info or click here to register for Saturday's premiere. The project is ambitious, broad and sounds great. And made all the more timely by the recent death of Muhammad Ali, who made Fifth Street Gym what it was.

Poll result: Sorry, Dolphins fans, but most don't see Brady suspension toppling Patriots: We asked what you think will be the ultimate impact this season of Tom Brady's 4-game Deflategate suspension being upheld, and 58.8 percent said "negligible" vs. 41.2% who said "significant." (And that's a Miami-based poll, where an element of Dolfans' wishful thinking might reasonably be factored in).

Danishaming DanimathersTHE PATENT ABSURDITY OF A PLAYBOY MODEL BODY-SHAMING ANYBODY: So a Playboy "model" named Dani Mathers body-shamed somebody this week by posting on Snapchat a photo (pictured left) of an unclothed older, heavier women taken at a gym. Click here for the background story. The social-media backlash against Mathers was swift and righteously strong, to a point the tone-deaf model had to scurry and emit a round of lame clarifications and too-late/damage-done apologies. I hope Playboy fires her ass after somebody awakens Hef from his nap to tell him. More than that, I hope the poor woman whose privacy she invaded sues her in civil court. But here is the thing that is especially galling to me about this. Dani Mathers is pictured at right, on the job. This is who she has chosen to be: Somebody answering to the description "Playboy Bunny" and presenting herself as a vapid sex-object. And this is the person who dares make fun of any another woman!? The victim here, the woman whose privacy was breached, she may be a secretary, a homemaker, a retired teacher, a heart surgeon or homeless. Doesn't matter. No matter who or what she is, I believe I'd prefer her company to that of an egotistical, mean-spirited airhead in silk rabbit ears whose entire self-worth apparently is confined to what she's admiring in a mirror or the next compliment from a leering man.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 14, 2016

Wade and others' ESPY anti-violence video; plus Brady ban impact on Dolphins: My column with poll. Vote now!; also, grading 7 Marlins reps' All-Star performances, new MVP/Cy Young odds, Greg's Lobos news, latest 'Back In My Day' & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 14. See NBA stars' anti-violence video below, near end of this blogpost. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Strange fate of Heat's Big 3, mouth of Miko strikes again,UFC sells for $4B, history of Marlins in Home Run Derby, Ricky Williams/pot video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The latest 'Back In My Day': Click on Retail Desperation for our latest Back In My Day segment from Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Link gets you to ESPN Radio podcast, and from there the new BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they deserved another look: The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, the latest, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our Sunday farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

New MVP, Cy Young odds for MLB, Fish: New today via Bovada, NL and AL MVP favorites are Kris Bryant at 11-4 and Mike Trout at 7-2, respectively. Cy Young leaders are Clayton Kershaw at 11-10 and Chris Sale at 4-5. For Marlins, Jose Fernandez is 12-1 (6th place) for Cy and Giancarlo Stanton 33-1 (9th) for MVP. 

New Dolphins column in wake of Brady news: Click on Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image for my new column, in wake of today's court ruling upholding Tom Brady's four-game suspension.

HOPE FOR DOLPHINS? BRADY 4-GAME SUSPENSION UPHELD: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lost big in court this Wednesday morning when his four-game Deflategate suspension was upheld Bradyupheldin New York by the 2nd. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling essentially is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers to suspend Brady for his role in the doctoring of footballs used in 2014-season playoff game vs. the Colts. It's a big victory for Goodell. It's also a win for AFC East rivals Miami, Buffalo and the New York Jets. Brady's final hope would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Otherwise, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, not Brady, would start New England's first four games vs. the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans and Bills. Brady's season debut would then be in Week 5 vs.Cleveland. The Miami game Brady would miss is at New England. An oddsmaker buddy of mine told me this morning the Patriots still will be a decided favorite in the game, though likely now by around 6 points instead of around 9 points. Take a dip in our poll and tell us what best represents what you think will be the impact of Brady's suspension on the coming season. Not what you hope, but what you honestly believe. Then check back often to monitor evolving results.

GRADING MARLINS REPS' ALL-STAR BREAK PERFORMANCES: The Marlins had seven representatives at MLB's All-Star festivities in San Diego concluding last night. Grading them top to bottom:

StantonhrdGiancarlo Stanton: A+: I mean, he hit record 61 home runs to dominate Home Run Derby, including 20 of 21 longest dongs. He crushed it. Literally.

Marcell Ozuna: B: Started in CF at All-Star Game (because Yoenis Cespedes could not) and was 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Josh Naylor: B: Franchise's No. 2 prospect had two hits and an RBI as team's only representative in Futures Game.

Fernando Rodney: B: Pitched a neat, scoreless 2/3 inning with a strikeout.

A.J. Ramos: Inc.: Selected but did not appear in ASG.

Marlins Man: C-: Was relegated to the third row behind plate. And in first row was a man in a competing orange shirt. Oh the indignity!

Jose Fernandez: D: Sorry, Jose, but we always expect dominance. Gave up two hits and a run in 1 1/3 innings.

MIAMI HAD REASON TO WATCH ESPYS, AFTER ALL: The ESPYs were broadcast last night from Los Angeles, because ESPN doesn't get enough attention, and because there aren't enough awards shows. South Florida was close to bereft of nominees, save for Palm Beach's Serena Williams nominated (of course) for Best Female Tennis Player, one of 31 categories. Heat fans also saw the evening turn into the LeBron James Show, with him a winner for Best Male Athlete and Best Championship Performance. But! The show's highlight came at the beginning, when NBA friends LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul spoke out against gun violence and racial divide and exhorted fellow athletes to become involved as positive influences. Powerful stuff. Well said, and done. Video here:

 

Greg's Lobos earn $1,550 for charity: The ESPYs are a fundraiser for the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research, and one of the items up for bid this year, through ESPN Radio's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, was for my Greg's Lobos to be in your fantasy football league. Astonishingly, there were 113 bids in only a 24-hour window, and the winning bid was $1,550 by a charitable buyer in San Luis Obispo, Cal. Thank you. Look forward to hooking up for the draft. Go Lobos!

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 12, 2016

The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3: Burned bridges, hurt feelings, now medical drama; plus Miko Grimes' "jew buddies" Tweet on Dolphins, new 'Back In My Day,' UFC sale, Stanton's HR Derby history, Ricky Williams' marijuana video & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 12. Condolences, again, to the family of Jim Mandich, the longtime former Dolphin and team broadcaster who passed away five years ago. The family is grieving anew this week over the death of Jim's widow, Bonnie. 2) Congratulations and farewell, Tim Duncan. What a big, successful, classy NBA career. Unsung because his personality never shouted -- a nice way to say he was boring! -- but an all-time great. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdicts on Wade statue and new face of Miami sports & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Today's new 'Back In My Day': Click on Retail Desperation for today's latest Back In My Day segment from the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Link gets you to the ESPN Radio podcast, and the new BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they deserved another look: Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, the latest, our Sunday farewell-Dwyane Wade column. The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime, on stunning departure of Wade. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Burned Bridges, Hurt Feelings and Medical Drama: The Strange Fate of the Heat's Big 3: Click on The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3 to read my latest column, in today's/Tuesday's inky pulp editions and also available online.

MIKO GRIMES INSERTS FOOT IN MOUTH. AGAIN: She cannot and will not shut up. She continues to embarrass herself and husband Brent Grimes on social media. The wife of the former Dolphins and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback took another shot at the Dolphins on Monday, using anti-Semitic language this time. On Twitter, she referred to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Mikoexecutive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum in writing, verbatim, "Gotta respect ross for keeping his jew buddies employed but did he not see how tannenbaum put the jets in the dumpster w/that sanchez deal?" It might be noted here that the late Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer and his family are descendants of Jewish immigrants who lost family members in the Holocaust. Miko later attempted to clarify -- badly -- that she didn't mean to offend Jewish people. "Think I'm gonna tweet racist remarks in an attempt to offend TWO PEOPLE? Lmao!! Why would I? Why would I want to offend 'Jewish' ppl?" she later Tweeted. Later still, in a statement to ESPN, she said, "When I wrote 'jew buddies' I was speaking about how a lot of communities (Jewish, Christian, gay, sometimes fraternities and sororities) will hire their 'own people' for jobs before others. That's a fact! Why people find facts offensive is strange to me. And now im a racist? Lmao! How?" She continued: "If what I said is racist or anti-Semitic, why isn't it also racist to only hire their own? America is just an easily offended, fake reacting, bunch of cry baby [expletive]s! Anyone that thinks I'm a racist needs to build a [expletive] bridge and get over it. I'm not a racist, I'm a realist." Dear Miko: You might be an idiot, too. And the hedge on might is becoming less and less likely.

SPORTS WORLD GONE MAD: UFC SELLS FOR $4 BILLION: The mega-talent agency WME-IMG is buying mixed martial arts mega-league UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) for $4 billion in a deal announced Monday. vestment firm of Michael Dell, to take over the mixed martial arts company. Said WME-IMG co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell in a statement: "It's been UFCexciting to watch the organization's incredible growth over the last decade. We're now committed to pursuing new opportunities for UFC and its talented athletes to ensure the sport's continued growth and success on a global scale." Four billion makes this the most expensive sports transaction for an organization or team in history. And what the new owners say suggests they expect a growth that make UFC an entity that competes with the NFL, NBA and MLB as a mainstream entity. Said outgoing UFC leader Dana White: "Sport is going to the next level." It'll be interesting to see how the growth plan plays out and how successful it will be. I'll admit I totally mis-read mixed martial arts and UFC when it rose to prominence. I thought it was too violent -- repugnantly so. And I thought the general decline of boxing mirrored a loss of appetite for hand-combat sports like this. I was way wrong. I still don't like UFC. I think it's cartoon violence somewhere between boxing and pro wrestling. But I'm not the desired demographic. UFC has proved enormously popular with young men, especially, and the growing appeal of women fighting has further grown the UFC brand. Four billion still sounds like crazy overspending, but let's see where this change of hands leads.

THE LIST: MARLINS IN HOME RUN DERBY: Last night marked the sixth time the Marlins have had a player in the Home Run Derby, and Giancarlo Stanton was the franchise's first two-time participant and maiden champion with a record 61 homers in three rounds. What a show! Miami was one of 13 clubs that had not had a Derby winner, but that changed fast -- and decisively, as Stanton hit 20 of the night's 21 longest homers. The history of Marlins in the HRD:

Player                    Year    Finish                Winner

Gary Sheffield        1996    T9th of 10         Barry Bonds, Giants

Miguel Cabrera       2006    3rd of 8             Ryan Howard, Phillies

Dan Uggla              2008    T3rd of 8           Justin Morneau, Twins

Hanley Ramirez      2010    2nd of 8            David Ortiz, Red Sox

Giancarlo Stanton   2014    T5th of 10         Yoenis Cespedes, A's

Giancarlo Stanton   2016    1st of 10            Stanton with record 61 homers

RICKY WILLIAMS STILL CHAMPIONING MARIJUANA AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: ESPN's 30 For 30 documentary series has done Ricky Williams ("Run Ricky Run"). Now Sports Illustrated Films weighs in with, "Ricky Williams Takes the High Road," premiering this Wednesday on SI.com. Williams, former Dolphins great continues one of the most enigmatic and interesting characters in South Florida sports history. I'll watch this. Trailer here:

  

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 11, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring Wade's goodbye, Fish at All-Star break, Wimbledon, Vive la Portugal?, Fins stadium, UFC 200, British Open, ESPYs; plus your verdicts on Wade statue, new face of Miami sports & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade-leaving aftershocks including build-a-statue and who's-now-face-of-Miami-sports polls, your verdict of booing Wade, LeBatard Show podcast dominance & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

MY DWYANE WADE COMMEMORATIVE SPECIAL-SECTION COLUMN: Click on Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure for Sunday''s farewell-Dwyane column.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime, on the stunning departure of Dwyane Wade. Heat Must Kiss-and-Make Up With Wade Now, warning of the imperative to sign Wade once the Durant dream was over. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

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: Stunner! Wade leaves Heat for Chicago Bulls: After 13 seasons and three championships, Dwyane Wade is gone. Just like that. Gone in free agency to his hometown Chicago Bulls while his adopted city reels over the loss. He was D-Wade. This was Wade County. It still doesn't seem real. This would be numbers one through eight in our Hot Button, or maybe the whole Top 10, based on the proportional impact in our market. Across the NBA, only Kevin Durant choosing Golden State was a bigger free-agency story than Wade leaving Miami. Farewell, Dwyane. The ending may have been ugly, but the run was sublime. Thank you.

2. MARLINS: Four Fish to All-Star Game, Stanton to Derby at midsummer break: Marlins wrapped up first half of season Sunday strong in playoff contention after a third straight win, and send four players (Jose Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, A.J. Ramos, Fernando Rodney) to Tuesday's All-Star Game in San Diego. And Giancarlo Stanton will be in tonight's/Monday's Home Run Derby. Nice.

3. TENNIS: Wimbledon fortnight ends with perfect championship weekend: Wimbledon wrapped up Sunday with Brit Andy Murray winning the men's title after Serena Williams reigned with a record-tying 22nd major win. The perfect weekend for Wimbledon. 

4SOCCER: Host France falls to Portugal in Euro '16 finale: It was Portugal upsetting host 'France 1-0 in overtime Sunday afternoon in the Euro '16 championship match. After all the host nation had been through, including the Paris terrorist attacks, unless you were living in downtown Lisbon, you were probably hoping, "Vive la France!"

5. DOLPHINS: Club refutes speculation on construction delays: Crazy reports and rumors pinballing around suggested that Dolphin stadium renovation delays might force the Fins to play early-season home games Orlando. Wrong! Or so said the team, claiming all construction including the new canopy would be done by Sept. 1. Hmm. We'll see.

6. MMA: Depleted UFC 200 marks milestone for sport: UFC 200 went on as scheduled in Las Vegas Saturday despite the doping-related absence of Jon "Bones" Jones after the earlier withdrawal of Conor McGregor. Disappointed pay-per-viewers buyers, there's probably a class-action suit near you.

7. GOLF: Season's third major, British Open, begins this week: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are bunched as favorites to win the 145th British Open commencing Thursday at Scotland's Royal Troon. Bonus fact: A "troon," according urbandictionary.com, is "a girl that looks like she used to be a man." Hey, don't blame me. I'm just the messenger.

8. ESPN: Network's ESPY Awards air this week: The ESPYs air on Wednesday night. Because ESPN doesn't get enough attention. And because there are not nearly enough awards shows.

9. OLYMPICS: Embattled Rio Games now less than month away: With the Aug. 5 Opening ceremony fast approaching, the Rio Olympics look to be in great shape other than the minor matters of the Zika virus, unfinished facilities, bacteria-riddled water, athlete withdrawals, doping suspensions, body parts washing ashore and local police saying they cannot protect visitors from rampant crime.

10. NBA: Summer league pivots from Orlando to Vegas: The Heat bounced to a 3-0 start in NBA summer league play, which features mostly rookies and undrafted free agents. So Miami missed out on Kevin Durant and lost Dwyane Wade, but otherwise -- a good week!

Missing the HB10 cut: Chris Bosh "broke his silence" on Bill Simmons' new show but was not asked -- not once -- about his health. It'd be like having Trump as a guest and the presidential race is never discussed. You can't make this s--- up, folks ..... Panthers GM Tom Rowe and star defenseman Aaron Ekblad were touting Cats' Stanley Cup chances at a press conference. Love the confidence but, for now, less talking, more doing, please ..... Miami super-agent Drew Rosenhaus helped saved the life of an accident victim by offering roadside assistance. No word yet whether Rosenhaus waived his 5 percent fee ..... Seven MLS teams and only the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of second-tier NASL are alive in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. Strikers play at Chicago Fire July 20 ..... We ride FIU and AD Pete Garcia pretty hard, so, in fairness, today we note that FIU's athletic department is having its best academic year on record including a highest-ever overall grade point average of 3.1. So there! ..... You know the Dolphins are in deep offseason hibernation when I get a press-release from the club touting an upcoming third annual "Mom's Clinic," evidently geared to females who are football fans but requiring a tutorial ..... Break the ice at a party with this one: "Did you know it is 133 days until the NASCAR season finale at Homestead?!" You're welcome ..... The Tour de France continues, despite a spate of bicycle tires being punctured by strewn steroid needles ..... Somebody check to make sure Johnny Manziel is OK. It's been almost a week since he last was embroiled in an embarrassing calamity.

Poll result: It's "yes" on a Dwyane Wade statue: We asked if the Miami Heat should erect a statue of departed star Wade in front of the arena, and it was 64.1 percent yes, 29.8% no and 6.1% undecided.

GsPoll result: Post-Wade, Marlins' Stanton is face of South Florida pro sports: We asked what current athlete is now the face of South Florida pro sports, and Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) led with 28.2 percent, followed by his Marlins teammate Jose Fernandez with 23.3% and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill with 16.3%. Chris Bosh (6.7%) will have to earn back his status, while Hassan Whiteside (5.9%) must prove himself worthy. Interestingly, 14.1% voted "someone else" not listed in the poll. If you were thinking Justise Winslow or Jarvis Landry, sorry, they're not there yet.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 04, 2016

Durant to Golden State! The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Heat/Durant decision, Fish, soccer, tennis, Summitt, Cats, Olympics, Fins; plus Supercon, your verdict on Wade & more

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

Aliprince Fourthjuly1) It is MONDAY, JULY 4. Happy Fourth of July! To all my fellow USA'ers, a safe and happy holiday and a happy 240th birthday, America! 2) At the midpoint of 2016, a reminder (pictured right) what a tough year's it's been for prominent deaths. The latest: R.I.P. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, whom President Obama once called "the conscience of the world," gone at 87. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hassan Whiteside sticking with Heat, might-D.Wade-actually-leave poll, Dan Jennings revisited, Dolphins playoff odds, Mark Richt ranked, Greg Cote the thespian & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Riley Gives Heat a Fighting Chance, the latest, on Miami's longshot odds entering Sunday's meeting with Kevin Durant. Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat, on Wade's tenuous status as Miami nears NBA free agency. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."  --Elie Wiesel

"The Rio Olympics begin in one month. And, really, other than the threat of Zika virus and crime, the unfinished facilities, bacteria-riddled water, athlete withdrawals, doping suspensions and body parts washing ashore, everything is looking good!"  --Greg Cote

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/NBA: Durant chooses Golden State; Heat keeps Whiteside, awaits Wade: What a flurry! In the first few days of free agency the Heat spent more than it wanted ($98 million over four years) to keep Hassan Whiteside, and saw Luol Deng and Joe Johnson (and now looks like Tyler Johnson, too) sign elsewhere. The biggest questions remaining: Dwyane Wade, who wants his money, and of course the whale Kevin Durant, whom the Heat met Sunday in  New York. Durant's decision came late this morning and he chose the Golden State Warriors. Click on Riley Gives Heat a Fighting Chance for my column that previewed yesterday's meeting and Miami's longshot odds. Pat Riley tried to shock the world. He didn't. Now Golden State is positioned as a super-team. But Durant's two-year deal gives him an out option after next season. Meaning, next summer, we'll all be doing this all over again.

2. MARLINS: Fish acquire reliever, face Braves at Fort Bragg: As all-star break nears, Ichiro bears down on 3,000 hits and the Marlins still struggle to beat the damned Braves, the playoff-chasing Fish are buyers, thankfully, trading for quality bullpen help in veteran Fernando Rodney. That should feel good to fans. So should this: As a pre-July Fourth nod to patriotism, Braves-Marlins played Sunday night (Miami winning, 5-2) at Fort Bragg, N.C., the world's largest military base.

3. SOCCER: Host France wraps up Euro quarterfinal round: Host France throttled upstart Iceland on Sunday 5-2 to conclude the Euro '16 quarterfinal round, with semifinals coming on Wednesday (Portugal vs. Wales) and Thursday (France vs. Germany) in the sport's biggest tournament outside of the World Cup. Think of it as a welcome respite from NBA free agency.

4. TENNIS: Djokovic out, Serena still alive at Wimbledon midpoint: No. 1 Novak Djokovic was denied a shot at third straight Wimbledon title in Saturday loss, but top-ranked Serena Williams won again Sunday and still angles for her seventh Wimbledon crown. The king is dead. Who can dethrone the queen of her sport's grandest court?

5. PAT SUMMITT: Women's basketball legend passes away: The retired Tennessee legend and winningest basketball coach in NCAA history passed away at 64 after battling Alzheimer's. A summit is the highest point of a mountain. Pat Summitt reached it.

6. PANTHERS: Cats lock up Ekblad, Trochek long-term: As NHL free agency began the aggressive Panthers locked up rising-star defenseman Aaron Ekblad, 20, with a reported eight-year, $60 million deal, and also signed forward Vincent Trochek to a six-year deal. Wheeling, dealing, spending -- these Cats are serious, folks.

7. OLYMPICS: Phelps in, Bolt injured, Richards-Ross retires: Apparently 18 gold medals are not enough as American swimming legend Michael Phelps, who turned 31 Thursday, qualified for his fifth Olympics, a record for a male swimmer. In track, Jamaica's sprint champion Usain Bolt suffered a hamstring injury that puts his participation in the Rio Olympics in doubt. Closer to home, ex-Miami Hurricane Sanya Richards-Ross retired at 31 as a three-time Olympian who won four golds. Well done.  

8. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule, raised money: Club announced players would report for training camp July 28 and stage their first public practice the next day. Meantime the Dolphin Cycling Challenge raised $5.06 million for cancer research. If only the Dolphins, with 9-4 odds against making the playoffs, played as well as they fund-raised.

9. STRIKERS: Fort Lauderdale NASL club advances in U.S. Open Cup: Fort Lauderdale Strikers hosted Miami FC to open the NASL fall season Saturday night, and tied 1-1. More important, Strikers beat MLS team Orlando City, up there, to advance to the quarterfinals of the annual all-comers U.S. Open Cup soccer tournament. Go, lads, go!

10. CYCLING: Tour de France is underway: The sport that crowned and then shamed Lance Armstrong began its 103rd edition on Saturday and continues through July 24. Anybody got an over/under on number of cyclists who'll test positive for doping during the competition?

Missing the HB10 cut: NBA summer league play runs this week in Orlando and next week in Las Vegas. Heat won its debut Saturday and will see cameos by Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson but mostly 17 guys you've never heard of. NBA summer league is like the WNBA, only less exciting ..... Johnny Manziel was suspended four games for substance abuse. Or, did that go without saying? ..... NASCAR's Tony Stewart won last week to end an 84-race winless drought. Finally, his final season before retirement takes on a little feel-good ..... Colts sign Andrew Luck to richest deal in NFL history, worth up to $140 million through 2021. Imagine if he weren't coming off his worst season!? ..... Superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic signs with superteam Manchester United. In international soccer, that's about as big as it gets ..... That reminds me. Argentina's Lionel Messi announced he was done with international competition and zero people worldwide believed him ..... Funny to see Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) on the cover of Sports Illustrated's annual "Where Are They Now?" issue. Funny because I sort of think most of us have a pretty good idea what she's been up to the last few years ..... Shaquille O'Neal spent four days in Cuba this week as a U.S. State Department "sports envoy." There is a phrase for that: "Waste of tax dollars." ..... Coastal Carolina won the College World Series. No, seriously ..... Gulfstream's annual Summit of Speed ran Saturday, surprising analysts who thought that place was just a casino nowadays ..... Hockey Hall of Fame finally inducted Eric Lindros, out of the NHL since 2007, after passing him over six times. Must have had a hell of a retirement year! ..... The Cubs had lost nine of 13 entering Sunday and now barely have the best record in MLB. "It begins," agreed distraught Cubs fans ..... Tiger Woods to miss British Open. At this point, let's just assume he isn't playing until we hear otherwise, OK? ..... R.I.P., Buddy Ryan, 85, a great defensive football coach, although let's not retrofit it and saint-him-up. Like son Rex, he could be a boor and wasn't roundly liked ..... Six days 'til UFC 200. Hopefully you're more excited than I am ..... The Reds retired Pete Rose's jersey number. Well, at least Cincinnati still loves him.

SuperconFLORIDA 'SUPERCON' ROLLICKING IN MIAMI: The four-day holiday weekend event wraps up Monday in Miami Beach. I'm not personally into but am interested in this somewhat bizarre side street of pop subculture that seems to enthrall so many (mostly) young adults. It's an amalgamation of fans of anime, comic books, animation, video games, fantasy and sci-fi. It's an escapism that encourages dress-up. It's a NerdFest! But I mean that in a good way. Seriously. The scarier the real world turns, the more needed outlets like this somehow become.

Poll result: Few believe Wade will actually leave Heat: We asked where you think Dwyane Wade will be to start next season (you may still vote) and it was 42.2 percent saying back with the Heat "no doubt", 39.6% back with the Heat "some doubts," 14.1% with another team and 4.1% undecided. Comment: Surprised "some doubts" didn't win and that "with another team" wasn't a higher number.

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

Twitter @gregcote