June 29, 2015

Wade opts out as expected, Winslow will be Heat's biggest draft star since 2003.The new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 29. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton injured, Heat-draft-Justise Winslow poll, Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers draft & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

WADE OPTS OUT: Heat star Dwyane Wade will opt out of the final year of his Miami contract and become a free agent, ESPN reports this afternoon in this story. The move is fully expected and had been anticipated for weeks. It does not mean that Wade and the Heat won't continue as partners. It does mean that the sides must come to terms on a new contract of that is to happen, with negotiations set to begin on Wednesday.  

The new column: Setting the bar sky-high for Justise Winslow: Click on No Ceiling, No Doubts for my latest column, on Heat top draft pick Justise Winslow, online now and shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions. Elsewhere in Heatville, in addition to Wade opting out, Luol Deng announcing today he is opting-in and staying with Heat, perhaps a mild surprise because there were media reports suggesting otherwise. Also, team announcing it won't pick up option on Michael Beasley -- no surprise at all.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) 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:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami drafts Duke's Winslow, confronts Wade uncertainty: Heat hit big and fans were delighted Thursday night as team got Duke swingman Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft. I won big, too, after investing, on a hunch, in lame media references such a "Justise Is Served" and "League of Justise." Now Heat fans turn from delighted to wringing-hands anxious as Dwyane Wade prepares to opt out and become a free agent by tonight's midnight deadline, his future in Miami uncertain as contract negotiations begin Wednesday.

2. MARLINS: Stanton injured, Fernandez's return to mound on deck: MLB home-run leader Giancarlo Stanton is sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist, likely for four to six weeks, adding injury to the insult of a disappointing season for Miami that has included nine losses in past 11 games. Now speculation swirls that Miami may be sellers, not buyers, before the trade deadline. I’d say there isn't much more reason to watch, except at least Jose Fernandez’s long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery is set for this Thursday, here, vs. the Giants.

3. PANTHERS: Cats host NHL Draft, target goal-scoring help: Big week for the Panthers. Florida hosted the NHL Draft in Sunrise and took 6-4 winger Lawson Crouse 11th overall after earlier celebrating Aaron Ekblad’s NHL rookie of the year honor. But stop reading here if you believe in bad omens: After Florida hosted the draft for the first time in 2001, it missed the playoffs the next nine seasons.

4. SOCCER: U.S. faces Germany in Women's World Cup semfinals: The Americans beat China 1-0 on Friday to advance to the semifinals against Germany on Tuesday in a meeting of WWC co-favorites. American soccer fans would be thrilled (and surprised) if the U.S. men got this far, but it’s championship-or-bust for the women’s team.

5. TENNIS: As Wimbledon begins, can anybody stop Serena Williams?: The fortnight at Wimbledon starts today/Monday (cue strawberries-and-cream references) with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams the favorites, as usual. Serena goes for her fourth consecutive major. Injury might stop Serena. Sometimes disinterest has. Other women players? Not so much.  

6. DOLPHINS: Fins win offseason, now off until training camp: In late July, the preseason will start with Dolphins training camp. For now, thanks to signing Ndamukong Suh and extending Ryan Tannehill’s contract, I declare Miami to be NFL Offseason Champion! No rings for that. No parade. The reward is the heavier expectations you lug into August.

7. DEFLATEGATE: NFL hears Tom Brady's appeal of suspension: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Patriots quarterback for four games based on the result of an independent investigation paid for by Goodell's league. So who hears and will rule on Brady's appeal? Goodell! Hmm.

8. PETE ROSE: Latest revelation ends last Cooperstown hopes: Then again, is it really shocking that Pete Rose, who previously admitted to betting on his team as a manager, also is now determined to have bet on his team as a player, too? 

9. CONFEDERATE FLAG: When politics and social issues seep into sports: The growing move to abolish the Confederate flag in the wake of the South Carolina church shootings has seeped into sports, such as NASCAR chairman Brian France saying his sport will be "aggressive" in disassociating the symbol from its events. Aside to Confederate flag supporters: The Civil War was in the 1860s. Might be time to move on.

10. NUDE ATHLETES: Roster announced for ESPN mag's 'Body' issue: ESPN The Magazine announced the 24 sports figures who are to appear nude (though artfully covered) in its latest “Body” issue due out July 6, and they include Bryce Harper, Kevin Love and Dan LeBatard. OK, I made up that last one.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross teams with Qatari investors in bid to buy Formula One racing circuit. And Sean "Diddy" Combs arrested for allegedly swinging kettlebell during confrontation with a UCLA assistant coach who supposedly mistreated Combs’ son.

Poll result: Overwhelming thumbs-up for Heat drafting Justise Winslow: We asked your initial reaction to Miami selecting Duke's Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft and 86.0 percent answered "very favorable" and another 8.7% "somewhat favorable. A negligible few answered either very (2.8%) or somewhat (2.5%) unfavorable. 

Poll result: Solid support for keeping Dwyane Wade: We asked you to describe how much you want the Heat to re-sign Dwyane Wade and more than 80 percent answered either "a lot" (48.3%) or "the max" (32.6%). Fewer than 20 percent answered either "a little" (11.1%) or "none" (8.0%).

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

May 14, 2015

An evolving newspaper industry redefines itself; plus Wizards' John Wall and gang signs, LeBatard radio show preps for TV, 'Miamians For LeBron,' Dee Train, Kiper's 2016 Big Board, Brady/Dolphins-impact verdict, assimilating bears & more

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

1aa1arock1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 14. Happy birthday to my youngest son. Love you, Michael! 2) Miami royalty: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson meets up with Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) the other night in L.A. after Stanton put one clean out of Dodger Stadium. 3) Patriots issue lengthy rebuttal to Wells Report. Click here for story and link to Pats' response. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady punishment with poll, Marlins bench closer, rooting for LeBron, updated Super Bowl odds & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dee Train: A new blog feature: Starting today, "Dee Train" will be a daily blog update on the Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do it as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. (Yes, people who believe in jinxes and superstitions will hate this). Gordon updated season: .426 (58-for-136) after 4-for-5 last night. Next: Friday vs. ATL. 

'Miamians For LeBron' bandwagon forming; good seats still available: In today's latest column, on how these NBA playoffs are refreshing and good for the league, I explore further the fractured relationship between Miami and LeBron James. I propose -- tongue in cheek, I'd remind those less discerning -- that continuing animus is unfounded. Click on Miamians For LeBron to read column in full.

AS AN EVOLVING NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY REDEFINES ITSELF: I offer below the 9-minute video "We Are McClatchy," released earlier today. McClatchy is the parent company of the Miami Herald among many other media entities, and the video describes ways in which the beleaguered newspaper industry is continuing to refashion itself in the digital age. I recommend the video to anyone who cares about the Miami Herald, past, present and future, and to anyone who cares about the American newspaper industry and where it is headed.

 

IS WIZARDS' JOHN WALL THROWING UP GANG SIGNS?: As a spokesman for the Old White Community I can tell you I don't know gang signs from Adam. Somebody says the word "gang" to me and I start 1aa1ajwallhumming Spanky And Our Gang's "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" from 1967. But I can tell you a lot of people much closer to street level than me are convinced Washington point guard John Wall (pictured) was throwing up a gang signs for the Bloods during last night's playoff game, augmented by shouting the phrase "Big B's." Google Wall's name and "gang sign" to see the stories, video and Twitter references. (Wall had been involved in a similar gang-sign controversy while at Kentucky). Should we care? I'd imagine the Wizards and the NBA office do. Here we are in the midst of a great playoffs, with all four conference semifinal series at 3-2 and multiple Game 7s maybe looming, and we're talking about a star player and possible gang affiliation. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this, whether it be an explanation from Wall, admonishment or discipline. I'd be surprised if something didn't.

1aa1alebatardfusionLEBATARD RADIO SHOW READY FOR TV DEBUT: You've lent him your ears. Now he'd like your eyes, too. ESPN Radio's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz is preparing to make its television debut on the Fusion network this coming Tuesday May 19. The show began preparing/rehearsing for televised radio by broadcasting from its new studio at the Clevelander on South Beach earlier this week on 1aa1afusionTuesday, with Le Batard assuring listeners the content of the show would not change and making the distinction that it would be a radio show on television, not a TV show on radio. The logo for the new show is pictured. From Wade Beckett, Fusion’s chief programming officer: "Dan's smart-yet-irreverent take on sports and the stories making headlines perfectly aligns with Fusion’s desire to present this young, diverse generation with an array of dynamic voices that have an authentic point of view and, at the end of the day, are just are fun to watch." Says LeBatard: "We are pumped about unleashing the primitive Stugotz on a new and unsuspecting audience. And maybe we will talk some sports, too. Our goal is to not totally break Fusion. But the show will be better on the days we do." I'll continue to be a once-a-week guest on the show, unless Fusion convinces Dan to fire me. I'll be in the Tuesday slot although my on-TV debut will  be Thursday May 21.

NOTABLE FROM KIPER'S FIRST 2016 DRAFT 'BIG BOARD': Mel's first Double-B top-25 for ESPN.com 1aa1abosajoeylooking ahead to '16 NFL Draft starts off notably with Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (pictured) No. 1 overall -- notable because Bosa is from St. Thomas Aquinas High and is the son of John, the Dolphins' 1987 first-round pick. Also notable: No. 3--Florida State S Jalen Ramsey; No. 5--Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves; and No. 9--Cal QB Jared Goff, the highest quarterback ranked. Sorry, Canes. No UM'ers listed.

Poll result: Most think Brady punishment impact on Dolphins won't be major: We asked about the impact of Tom Brady's 4-game suspension on the Dolphins and it was a photo finish between "moderate" (46.1 percent) and "minor" (45.7%). Only 8.2% voted "major."

1aa1abearbar"DEAR GREG...": "I heard a TV report that in Alaska, and now spreading elsewhere across America, bears have begun assimilating and are now interacting with humans in ways never before thought possible. Can you explain, please?" Dear Reader: Sorry, but I have no idea what you're talking about.

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

May 11, 2015

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Rank Player                          WTF#      @20

1    Dee Gordon                         170.3      2

2    Giancarlo Stanton            163.1      1

3    Adeiny Hechevarria        140.4      3

4    Martin Prado                     124.7      4

5    Marcell Ozuna                   120.7      6

6    Ichiro Suzuki                      92.2      7

7    Michael Morse                    83.4      5

8    Jacob Realmuto                 75.4      8

9    Christian Yelich                 51.3      9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 29, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rank Player                          WTF#    @10

1    Giancarlo Stanton             129.9    2

2    Dee Gordon                         120.4    1

3    Adeiny Hechevarria          116.6    4

4    Martin Prado                      88.0    5

5    Michael Morse                    73.4    3

6    Marcell Ozuna                    71.3    8

7    Ichiro Suzuki                      63.9    7

8    Jacob Realmuto                 53.4    --

9    Christian Yelich                 47.9    6

10  Jarrod Saltalamacchia      32.4    9

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

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

January 10, 2015

Canton calling: Your football Hall of Fame ballot. 15 finalists, you pick 5. Poll. Vote now!; plus Rex Ryan to Bills, new Hot Button Top 10 & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 11. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Two Super Bowl polls, NFL Divisional Round picks, Shula and Beli-cheat, Canes' big win, Rob Konrad, Bosh the actor, mouthy relatives & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

My NFL Divisional Round pix: Saturday: Patriots, 27-23, and Seahawks, 21-13. Sunday: Broncos, 34-24, and Packers, 31-24. (I was 3-1 overall, 1-3 vs. the spread). Click Divisional Gems for the full predix capsules.

"Rex Ryan to Buffalo as head coach? Not sure if the Bills just got better, but I am sure they just got noisier." --Greg Cote

YOU SELECT WHO GETS INTO PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Baseball voters who decide entry into 1aa1acantgonCooperstown (I'm one of them) come under annual criticism largely because the Steroids Era-factor makes the vote so polarizing and complicated. Football voters who decide entry into Canton have no such issues, and rarely if ever seem to have their choices scrutinized or slammed. (I'd mention the basketball and hockey halls, but nobody really cares). Anyway,the Pro Football Hall of Fame has winnowed its 2015 nominees to 15 modern-era finalists, who I present alphabetically in this poll. A maximum of five will be elected, so I invite you to vote for as many as five (5) here. Three or four seem obvious to me, but that's just me. I'll tell you my five later.

READING LEBRON'S MIND: The Cavaliers are 19-18, have lost four straight and are presently the sixth seed. The Heat are 15-21, have lost five of six and are slotted eighth. Somewhere, there is telepathy between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and it sounds something like this: "We should-a left it alone."

HOT BUTTON JAN. 11: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NFL: Patriots, Seahawks advance; two more today: Patriots (narrowly) and Seahawks (comfortably) won Divisional Round games Saturday, now Colts-Broncos and Cowboys-Packers on Sunday will complete the AFC and NFC title-game matchups. Conpsiracy theorists are ready in case Dallas wins on another lucky call.

2. College football: Oregon, Ohio State in first playoff title game Monday: Fair to say Oregon will have rooting interest of much of country outside of Ohio, because every game needs a villain. America doesn't have Jameis Winston to taunt or Nick Saban to hate, but Urban Meyer is an acceptable substitute.

3. Dolphins: Team adds ex-Jets GM Tannebaum to front office: Mike Tannenbaum becoming VP of football operations was met with knee-jerking derision from many Dolfans and media, who clamored for change but evidently not this change.

4. Heat: Slumping team carries tailspin to west coast: Heat star Chris Bosh stars in Funny or Die's new short comedy viedo, Tall Justice 2. Is it just me, or do Heat players' various side projects tend to be much more amusing when the team is headed to another NBA Finals than when it has lost five of six and is 15-21?

5. Baseball: Hall of Fame adds four to Cooperstown: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were elected, the largest class since 1955. Could that be because those were only players left untarnished by steroid use or rumors? (Benefit of doubt to Biggio on that...)

6. Panthers: Luongo named to NHL all-star team: Florida had only one player named to the all-star team so it's fitting it is goalie Roberto Luongo, who has team in the playoff chase despite the Cats being one of the lowest-scoring teams in NHL.

7. Hurricanes: Women's basketball stuns No. 4 Notre Dame: UM ended Notre Dame's 30-game road winning streak as the Canes were led by Adrienne Motley's 32 points. Is there even a slight chance the Canes should not now be nicknamed Motley Crew?

8. Rob Konrad: Ex-Dolphin heroically saves own life: Fishing alone, boat on autopilot, Konrad falls overboard, swims nine miles to safety through rough Atlantic waters in dead of night. Man, some guys'll do anything for attention!

9. Stuart Scott: ESPN anchors succumbs to cancer: Polarizing in life but lauded in death, Stuart Scott left us at 49 after a battle with cancer. "Boo-ya's!" at half-mast, please.

10. Don Shula: Icon calls Belichick "Beli-cheat": Turning 85, Shula in an interview called Bill Belichick "Beli-cheat," a reference to the 2007 "Spygate" incident that brought Belichick a $500,000 fine and cost Pats a first-round pick. Shula got criticized, bt what's that they say abiout truth being the best defense?

Poll result: Thinking Seahawks win Super Bowl, hoping Packers: We asked in separate polls who think think will win the Super Bowl and who you want to win from among the final eight. The top three in each category: Predict will win--Seahawks 34.1 percent, Patriots 23.9%, Packers 21.2%. Want to win--Packers 24.9 percent, Broncos 22.8%, Panthers 12.4%.

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

July 16, 2014

Dolphins vs. Heat vs. Canes poll extended through today only. Vote now!; plus ESPYs, World Cup in 245 seconds, Kate Upton & more

1aa1amandela1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 19. Thinking of the late, great Nelson Mandela (pictured), who would have turned 96 on Friday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Post-LeBron Heat outlook poll, Stanton/Jeter/All-Star break, Pouncey's latest woe, Hot Button Top 10, my ill-timed vacation & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Word of the day: balter: To dance gracelessly, without particular art or skill, but perhaps with some enjoyment.

WHOSE TOWN IS IT, ANYWAY? HAS LEBRON'S EXIT OPENED THE DOOR?: One of the little-considered 1aa1akingmiamibyproducts of LeBron James leaving Miami is the idea that, if this had become a "basketball town" over the past four years largely because of him ... is it still? (Was it ever?) Do the Dolphins now have a large opportunity to reclaim what once was theirs? I know this poll question is tough for some of you because many of us, me included, follow more than one local team closely and hate to choose. Still, you know your heart and gut feeling must start somewhere. The poll is limited to South Florida's four major pro teams plus UM football. Apologies to others, but this clearly is our Big 5 teams. And, apologies to the Marlins and Cats, but we imagine a three-team race for the crown. So, post-LeBron and moving forward, which of our biggest teams do you follow most closely or care about the most? King James is gone. In his wake, who's our King Team? Vote and say why.

Heat fans still optimistic in wake of LeBron departure: We asked in the previous blogpost, and 70.7 percent of you said you remain optimistic about Miami entering this coming NBA season, versus 15.9% who are pessimistic. The other 13.4% were undecided.

ESPN, NORMALLY LOATH TO SELF-PROMOTE, ROLLS OUT THE ESPYS: I've never fully embraced the ESPYS as necessary annual awards -- sports has too many already -- but here they came again last night, 1aa1aespyswith Drake (pictured) hosting. ESPN leads the league in self-promotion, and the ESPYS are the Worldwide Leader at its preening best. Not many Miami/South Florida athletes among finalists in this year's 34 categories. I wonder if LeBron James, up for best NBA player, would have thanked Miami fans if he'd won? New Heatnik Shabazz Napier was up for best championship performance while with UConn, Serena Williams from Palm Beach was up for best female tennis player; and IndyCar's Ryan Hunter-Reay, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, was up for best driver. Only Hunter-Reay won. An auction benefitting the V Foundation for cancer research was held, in conjunction with the ESPYS, and when last I checked the high bid among 258 items was $46,000 to watch a Mavs game with owner Mark Cuban. (I'd pay at least that much to not sit next to Cuban for two hours). Bargain: For a mere $3,050 you could watch a Heat game with Dan Le Batard, Papi and Stugotz, although I'd imagine Stugotz will scalp his ticket to a broker and miss the game. (For $1.99 you could smoke a cigar with me in my garage, if you bring the cigars).

THE ENTIRE WORLD CUP IN 245 SECONDS: Click here for a 4 minute 5 second video that summarizes the 2014 World Cup. For futbol aficionados, it may be emotional. For casual fans, it may further whet the appetite. For soccer agnostics, it may (hopefully) offer a glimpse of what they've been missing that so enthralls so much of the world.

1aa1akateupton"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but I feel like it has been a long time since you've had a gratuitously sexy photo of Kate Upton. Can this be remedied?" Dear Reader: That depends. Is there a gratuity in it for me?

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May 22, 2014

Who's biggest Heat-hater in national media? Poll has Top 5. Vote now!; plus Landon Donovan, Mark Cuban, Dolphins rookie camp & more

1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 23. I'm up in Random Evidence Laboratories today summonging the newest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Pacers Game 2 with video, why Hoosiers hate me, benevolent umpires & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

1aa1asymonetteFacts That May Only Interest Me: There will be 119 officials working NFL games this coming season. The only one of the 119 who graduated from a Florida college is Tom Symonette, No. 100, line judge, 11-year veteran, ex-Gator.

Speaking of Heat haters...: Bill Simmons (among frontrunners in our Anti-Heat poll below) will be in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket.

WHO GRAND MARSHALS THE ANTI-HEAT PARADE?: It's always something. It's always someone. The national commentary that rubs Miami the wrong way and makes a Heat fan shake his or her head. The 1aa1akeephatinglatest is Charles Barkley this week saying, "Those fans in Miami are not real fans, those fans in Cleveland are real fans" -- in predicting and encouraging James to return to the Cavaliers. Before that, during the Heat's Game 2 win in Indiana, Bill Simmons surmised that LeBron's slow start in the game may have been because he'd heard Cleveland had just won the draft lottery. Oh, and don't get a Heat fan started on Skip Bayless! They're 1aa1aheatleseverywhere: National journalists or talking heads who never seem to give the Heat enough credit or can barely contain their delight in speculating LeBron will leave. In this poll I have listed alphabetically my Top 5 Anti-Heat guys, in either reality or perception (your choice). I could have listed others such as Michelle Beadle, Ric Bucher or Brian Windhorst. Maybe you'd include Stephen A. Smith? That's where the 'other' vote comes in. Have I left anybody out? Vote for who you consider to be the biggest Anti-Heat person in the national media and say why.

ON MARK CUBAN'S ADMISSION: Outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, in a newly published article in Inc. magazine: "I know I'm prejudiced. I'm bigoted in a lot of ways. I mean, we're all prejudiced 1aa1amcubanin one way or another. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it's late at night, I'm walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there's a guy that has tattoos all over his face -- white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere -- I'm walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of. I try not to be hypocritical. I know that I'm not perfect. I know that I live in a glass house, and it's not appropriate for me to throw stones." (Click here for the full interview. He made similar comments yesterday in a speech in Nashville). The comments are immediately controversial; them coming in the context of the NBA's Donald Sterling mess gives them added volume. Clearly Cuban, unlike Sterling, has no track record of racism. Still, Michael Wilbon today, for one, called Cuban's comments "awkward," called the reaction a "firestorm" and said the owner must explain himself further. Me? I think Cuban was speaking a human-nature truth that lives within most of us in terms of stereotyping. I give him credit for saying it aloud. But I also find "If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it's late at night..." to be especially troubling, because it is that exact stereotyping mindset that may have gotten Trayvon Martin killed.

SHH. THE DOLPHINS ARE PRACTICING: Dolphins have a rookie mini-camp today/Friday through the weekend 1aa1ajjamesand it flies largely undetected by local radar. It isn't just the overshadowing Heat playoff run. It's the lack of anybody -- anybody -- with star appeal. That can happen when your No. 1 draft pick is an offensive lineman (in this case Ja'Wuan James, pictured, from Tennessee). That can also happen when five of your eight picks are from North Dakota State, Liberty, Montana, Coastal Carolina and Marist. Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Michael Sam and others bring big noise to other NFL teams' rookie camps. Miami's incoming crop of eight draftees and some 20 undrafted free agents may prove bounteously successful. But, going in, may we admit it's on the Dull side of the Excitement scale?

ON THE LANDON DONOVAN EXCLUSION: Was surprised and disappointed by the news Landon Donovan had been left off the final 23-man USA roster for this summer's soccer World Cup. Bold call by coach 1aa1alandondJurgen Klinsmann. Donovan played in previous three World Cups and is all-time leading U.S. scorer in international goals with 57 (in 156 games). Here is the statement Donovan put out on Facebook: "It has been an honor and privilege to have represented the U.S. national team in three World Cups. I was looking forward to playing in Brazil and, as you can imagine, I am very disappointed with [Thursday's] decision. Regardless, I will be cheering on my friends and teammates this summer, and I remain committed to helping grow soccer in the U.S. in the years to come." Donovan, at 32, had lost a step, but I felt his World Cup experience and savvy would have been a stabilizer for the team. Klinsmann's decision is ripe for second-guessing.

WATCH WHERE YOU PARK: Are you an able-bodied person who has ever ignored a "handicapped 1aa1ahandiparking" sign and parked in a spot reserved for those with disabilities? Or seen somebody else do that? Click here and you may think twice. By the way, the old-fashioned "handicapped parking" logo we are used to is getting a makeover, being replaced by a more dynamic, forward-leaning figure as pictured. Me, I'd like to see an even more dynamic logo in which the stick figure in the wheelchair is a pointing a gun at someone parked in his spot.

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September 30, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 58.2%; plus Miami falls to 3-1 at Saints, 38-17; Heat media day, Lebby goes natty & more

1) It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1. Happy new month, everybody! 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Collball Week 5 roundup, UM routs South Florida, Canesfan Satisfaction Meter & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 58.2%: Results are certified in the latest of our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 58.2 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Monday night's 38-17 loss at New Orleans putting Miami's season 1aa1dsmrecord at 3-1. This actually is a fairly high overall number following a loss, and includes a plurality of 39.4% calling themselves "somewhat" satisfied. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:15 a.m. today/Wednesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% satisfaction (20.3 very, 66.2 somewhat) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% satisfaction (71.9 very, 26.9 somewhat) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% satisfaction (78.2 very, 20.8 somewhat) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% satisfaction (18.8 very, 58.2 somewhat) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

Next poll: Oct. 6 following game vs. Baltimore.

G4: DOLPHINS @ NEW ORLEANS: ARE THEY READY-FOR-PRIME-TIME PLAYERS?: Final: Big pic? Can't get too down. Miami is 3-1 at the quarter turn after a road loss to a very good team. Defensive injuries hurt Dolphins tonight, though not as much as four turnovers hurt -- all by Ryan Tannehill. Problem areas beyond the turnovers: Brees made the MIA pass D look just awful. Mike Wallace had his third quiet game in four. And the Dolphins O-line/pass protection continues in serious need of major, immediate improvement. ..... 4Q: Tanny arm hit at release, causing 3rd INT, 4th tunover. Done. ... Too little too late but MIA finally gets a defensive takeaway inside own 10 when Jimmy Wilson strips Sproles of ball. ... Tannehill suffers 2nd INT, 3rd turnover. Fork time. ... Fleur de Lis up 38-17 after a 29-yard FG. Time for Dandy Don Meredith to start singing from the grave. (How creepy would that be!?) ... MIA within 35-17 on Charles Clay 3-yard TD pass from Tannhill. Still need a miracle. ..... 3Q: Cajuns miss FG try! Something goes right for Dolphins! ... OK this is getting embarrassing. Brees' 4th TD pass is 43-yarder to Graham. Chris Clemons didn't have a chance. ... Brees' 3rd TD pass is a 4-yard flip to Ben Watson and Cajuns are in charge at 28-10. Miami needs some deep shots on O and sudden answers on pass-D or this one is done. ..... Half: Two things are killing Miami at the half: Turnovers, both by Tannehill, each have led to Saints points. And Darren Sproles' 7 catches for 114 yards have victimized Miami's defense. Tanny's numbers are fine -- 9-for-13 for 128 yards -- but his INT and lost fumble are the difference. ..... 2Q: NO up 21-10 in final minute of half on Sproles 13-yard scoring catch on 3rd-and-11, thanks to a Nolan Carroll failed gamble on D. More points off turnovers. ... Tanny picked off late in half, his second turnover of game. That's the difference so far. ... Dolphs within 14-10 on Lamar Miller 5-yard scoring jaunt. Marcus Thigpen 50-yard catch and run sets it up. ... N'Awlins up 14-3 on 27-yard Brees strike to ex-Cane Jimmy Graham. Rookie Jamar Taylor with decent coverage, but Graham too tall and the pass too perfect. That's points off a turnover, which Miami absolutely cannot afford tonight. (Also can't give up first down on a 3rd-and-20).  ... Tannehill fumbles, turns ball over on run, ending drive into Saints territory. ...... 1Q: I must say, a fairly encouraging first Q. ... Might have liked to have seen MIA go for there on 4th-and-1 from own 45. Like Jon Gruden said, you're probably going to need to score 30 to be in this game. ... Miami within 7-3 on 34-yard Caleb Sturgis FG but disappointing because Dolphs eschewed a QB sneak on 3rd and inches. You don't hand off six yards deep in that situation. ... Impressive Saints opening drive for 7-0 lead on 4-yard Darren Sprol draw-play TD run. That was the series you worried about if you worried Drew Brees might have a big night. ..... Original post: Miami 3-0 for the first time since 2002 and aiming for its first 4-0 breakout since '95. Drew Brees' Saints also 3-0. The 1aa1dol4 1aa1dolsaintsMonday night stage and the nation watching. Oh my. Easy theme in the Big Easy: Are the Dolphins ready? Are the Dolphins ready at long last to fit this stage and be national players again? We'll see. For now, oh yes, I believe we are ready for some football, thank you! Excitement aside, I'm afraid Dolfans should perhaps be worried tonight. Brees is awfully tough to beat at home and tougher to hold under 300 yards, and Jimmy Graham has the skills to exploit Miami's tendency to struggle against top tight ends. It isn't that I doubt the Dolphins; I think they're a playoff team. It's that Brees at home on a Monday night is a tall, tall order. My pick: Saints, 34-20.

1aa1danrunDAN MARINO'S LEGS: To my attention came this story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about this, the 35th anniversary of Dan Marino's senior season at the city's Central Catholic High. The point of the piece is what a great runner Marino was in high-school, surprising since he never was with the Dolphins during his Hall of Fame career. Marino fans may enjoy the story. Here is a photo of the prep Marino on a TD run -- all the more remarkable because he appears to be missing a foot.

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IT WAS A MAJOR, MANIC, MONSTROUS, MARVELOUS MONDAY IN MIAMI!: (Man, I love alliteration!) It wasn't just the Dolphins last night. Two pretty big South Florida events happened earlier in the day...

1aa1heatmediadayThe Heat's road to a three-peat begins now: The double-champion Miami Heat reconvened in the bayside arena for the first time since the place still had the sweet stink of champagne and confetti on the floor. It was Media Day as the team ceremonially christened the 2013-14 season before jetting off to the Bahamas for a four-day training camp. The highlight: "I want to be the greatest of all-time," said LeBron James -- more directly than ever. Click on Defeating Doubt for my column off Media Day.

1aa1danradioLe Batard goes national: The Dan Le Batard Show on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket went national on ESPN Radio starting yesterday at 4 p.m. The show was canceled at 5:45. OH I'M JUST KIDDING, RELAX! The show was not canceled and will be a big hit despite my occasional on-air involvement. If you heard the national debut, what'd y'all think? Congrats to our buddy Dan!

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September 26, 2013

LeBron's wristwatch costs more than a house-*; plus Dolphins/NFL W4 predix, Wade-Durant feud poll, Beinfest firing, Le Batard update & more

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27. Today I'm at Random Evidence Laboratories conjuring Sunday's notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins, Marlins slammed in ESPN franchise rankings, Canes' 1,000 days of hell, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

"Scientists estimate the sun will obliterate the Earth in 2.25 billion years. Appreciate the heads-up!" -- Greg Cote

1aa1lebwatchTHE SPLENDOR OF LEBRON JAMES' WRISTWATCH: I said in the main headline it costs more than a house. (*-OK, more than some houses). It costs $51,500. Not a lot for a house, granted. But a lot for a watch. Yet there was LeBron today in Miami at a lavish event to introduce his new limited line of wristwatches for Audemars Piguet, which I take it is better than Timex and Bulova combined. His line is called the "Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph" and it comes with an 18-karat pink-gold case, oversize Arabic numerals, a gray patterned dial and a crocodile strap. Sure you can spend less than 52K for a watch, but why would you!? Hurry, they only made 600 of these. Click HERE for the full story. The photo of the Heat's bon vivant is by Juan Fernando. The best part about LeBron's expensive, designer wristwatch? He can take one look at it and know instantly it's almost time to win another championship.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 4 PREDIX FOR DOLPHINS, NFL: A confession, Dolfans. I, aparently, am not a 1aa1fripixbeliever. (I think that might make me a heathen). I believe the Dolphins are much improved and pretty good, likely playoffs-good. I just don't believe they can outscore Drew Brees in the Superdome Monday night. Click on Week 4 Gems for my full predix capsules on Dolphins-Saints and every other game. And click on State Of the NFL for my Friday Page column, a by-the-numbers look at how many players every state college has in the league and who the best are. (My week got off to a good start last night. Had the 49ers winning and covering in St. Louis, and they did. Thank you, Frank Gore).

WADE/DURANT FEUD: REAL OR RUSE?: [Update: Wade said last night at a charity function that the feud is not a contrivance. Wait ... isn't that what you'd say even if it was? Hmm]. Most of you know by now that Kevin Durant said in an interview this week that James Harden should replace the Heat's Dwyane Wade in a Sports Illustrated top-10 list of 1aa1dwkdbest NBA players entering this coming season. Wade shot back on Twitter and Instagram saying he'll have to teach Durant some respect ... "again." Durant then replied, "Show me don't tweet me." It's interesting on the face of it because it's rare for one NBA star to call another one out, and Durant was all but saying Wade is overrated. But this little back and forth is even more interesting, to me, if it's fake as some suggest -- a social-media ruse, a setup for a new Gatorade commercial perhaps. I explore all of this in today's latest column, acknowledging the possibility it's fake but also the possibility it's real. Click on WADE VS. DURANT to read. (This is the updated version of the column, replacing the earlier version that unfortunately appears in print). I suggest the larger point that, either way, real or fake, this invites us to consider whether Wade, turning 32 in January, remains an elite/top-10 player, and to also consider his sensitivity to any doubts about that. Meantime, do you believe this feud is real or fake? Vote and say why.

ON LORIA'S FIRING OF BEINFEST: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria dropped the guillotine on president of 1aa1beinbaseball ops Larry Beinfest this afternoon, not the least bit surprising. Suspicious as I am of just about anything Loria does, I cannot say Beinfest (pictured) built a record over his 12 seasons to suggest the change is unwarranted. He deserves some credit for the 2003 championship and for drafting Jose Fernandez in 2011. Those are nice bookends. But there was an awful lot of failure and bad draft picks elsewhere. The problem now? Convincing ourselves Loria will A) make a smart hire to replace Beinfest, then B) stay the hell out of his way.

ESPN PRESS RELEASE INDICATES I'M GOING NATIONAL WITH LE BATARD: The Dan Le Batard Show goes national on ESPN Radio this Monday at 4 p.m. The show will air Monday-through-Friday from 3-4 p.m. 1aa1eradioonly on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket, and then 4-7 nationally (and still locally, of course). ESPN has removed 'with Stugotz' from the show's title, but he's still the intrepid co-host. An ESPN press release says, "Rotating guest co-hosts, including Bomani Jones and Greg Cote, will often join Le Batard and Stugotz to provide listeners with a slightly different experience every day." This is the first time my name has appeared in an official report not associated with the police. Being a "rotating guest co-host" sounds dizzying. ESPN Radio has 24 million listeners on 450 stations, numbers expected to decline immediately following every appearance by me. The Le Batard Show will have an after-party at Whiskey Tango on Monday following the national debut.

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August 17, 2013

PS3: Houston 24, Dolphins 17: Biggest test yet. Tannehill to Wallace finally hits, but Keller injury is big!; plus AP preseason poll, LeBron, Fox Sports 1 result & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 19. Click on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes column. 2) Amused that Dwyane Wade says he is hopeful the Heat's Big 3 will stay together beyond this coming season. Ask yourself, though, "If the whole point is to defuse controversy and distraction, what else would he say in August?" 3) ESPN is close enough to a monopoly that I do not like Fox Sports 1's chances to make a big dent. Regis Philbin!? That's a joke, right? 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): ESPN girds for latest attack, Offerdahl on Honor Roll, college football predictions & more. 5) Join us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter returns: We'll be back with a sixth season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter polls appearing in the blog right after every Dolphins game. But as always the polls begin with the regular season, not the preseason. Watch for the first DSM on Sept. 8.

PS3: HOUSTON 24, DOLPHINS 17: TANNEHILL-TO-WALLACE ENCOURAGING, BUT KELLER HURT: Miami was outgained 2-to-1 in total yards and the pass defense was shaky at best, so, the score was more competitive than the Dolphins were with one of the NFL's best teams. Encouraging signs, though, included a big one: Ryan Tannehill connecting three times for 58 yards to Mike Wallace, including a 33-yard strike and a 9-yard TD pass. Tannehill (10-15, 141 yards) looked sharp. Also, a Brent Grimes interception reflected his strong training camp. The injury that looks like it will shelve tight end Dustin Keller for the season is big, but let's not overdramatize it and retroactively make like Keller was a Pro Bowl dominator. If the Patriots can withstand the erasure of Aaron Hernandez and injury of Rob Gronkowski, let's not act like Miami's offense is now doomed by the absence of Keller. Overall, at 1-2 with two exhibitions to go we still have no real sense of how good Miami will be, but Tannehill-to-Wallace was a positive coming out of this one as much as the Keller injury was a negative. (Apologies for not being here during the game or updating immediately afterward. Out of town family obligations prevented the former, and connectivity issues the latter. ..... Original post: Tonight should be a better gauge than what we've had on how good the Dolphins are. The Hall of Fame Game was like an early walk-through even by preseason standards, and last week brought a really 1aa1dolhoubad opponent in Jacksonville. Tonight offers a strong foe in Houston, which is dreaming Super Bowl. And the third of five exhibitions is (hopefully) a time to start 1aa1dolps3polishing a bit and play starters more. Specifically, some game interaction between Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace would be nice (and encouraging), considering he missed PS1 and then wasn't even thrown to last week. A deep connection or TD pass to Wallace would be both meaningless but meaningful if you know what I mean. Dolfans are looking for tangible signs Wallace was worth the big money and Tanny is poised to make a big step. Also will be interested to see new kicker Caleb Sturgis tonight with a little weight on him for the first time. On the Houston side, LB Brian Cushing is expected to make his debut and play for the first time since a Game 5 season-ending injury last year. That dresses the night with a little more of an occasion-feel for the Texans. Finally, struggling Miami left tackle Jonathan Martin will see a supreme challenge, at least in small doses, in pass-batting J.J. Watt, who might be the best defensive player in the NFL. In sum, an impressive show by Miami tonight will be legitimately encouraging. (Note: I'm out of town this weekend but will make a Herculean effort to be here at least sporadically during the game and then offer postgame thoughts. Meanwhile, talk amongst yourselves. There's an open bar).

Poll result: Split feelings on ESPN vulnerability: With Fox Sports 1's hyped rollout today, we asked how vulernable you think ESPN is (you may still vote), and 51.5 percent said the "Worldwide Leader" should be concerned, when last we checked, versus 48.5% who said otherwise. That may be one of the closest votes we have ever had on an either/or question. (That means I think it is, but I'm too lazy to do the research).

CANES JUST MISS IN AP PRESEASON FOOTBALL POLL: The Associated Press college football poll still is 1aa1ap25the Granddaddy of 'em all, to me, and of course Alabama is a near-unanimous No. 1 in Saturday's preseason Top 25. (Aside the the one voter who chose Ohio State: Either Nick Saban stole your wife, or you're an idiot). Gators check in No. 10 and Seminoles No. 11. U-Miami is fourth in "others receiving votes," tantamount to a No. 29 ranking out the gate. An early-season game vs. Florida gives the Canes a big shot to leap high and fast up the rankings.

ROYALTY: LEBRON GETS POLICE ESCORT TO SHOW: LeBron James got special passage to last night's Jay-Z/Justin Timberlake concert at Dolphins stadium; click here for details. This is no surprise. LeBron is King. I'd have been only slightly less surprised if James had leaped on stage and grabbed a mic. Or if the concert had been moved to his house to avoid his needing to drive there in the first place.

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