April 19, 2016

Youth will be served. And serve back: Heat's refreshing reliance on its 2 rookies; plus Marlins finally win home game, Radio Tuesday, Deng's great work off-court, bad golf joke & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 19. Jose Fernandez ends career-worst one-game home losing streak as Marlins finally win at home. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's huge Game 1, Panthers give one away, Hot Button Top 10, Whiteside/Jagr win Heat/Panthers MVPs & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

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

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Rook 1, Rook 2, today's latest on Heat's refreshing, uncommon reliance on rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Rchardson. This Is the Upside, off last night's hugely impressive Heat Game 1 win. Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season, off Friday night's necessary Panthers Game 2 win.

YOUTH WILL BE SERVED. AND SERVE BACK: THE HEAT'S REVOLUTIONARY (FOR THE HEAT) THINKING ON ROOK 1, ROOK 2: There have been many benchmark delights in this successful Miami Heat season, from the top on down. We have seen Pat Riley’s resilience and determination to not use LeBron James’ departure as a crutch or excuse. After one aberrant season on the playoff sideline he has the Heat retooled and thinking big again. We have seen maybe Erik Spoelstra’s best coaching job, weathering the loss of Chris Bosh, changing the offense, tinkering with the pace, incorporating new faces young and old into the rotation. We have seen the full blossom of Hassan Whiteside, who finished third in NBA defensive player of the voting Monday but Rookieshas been as good as anybody the second half of the season and earned the large summer payday that’s coming. We have seen the career of Dwyane Wade, the South Florida treasure now 34 and still an all-star, continue to adapt and to age with graceful brilliance. But none of those things is as surprising as this: The Miami Heat (of all teams), relying on rookies and trusting youth. This is not the Riley Way, or hasn’t been. Signing old warhorses like Amar'e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson -- those were classic signature moves for the veteran-loving club president. It is the youth makeover that has been different, and given this team and season a feeling of fresh air, a feeling of future. Top rookie Justise Winslow and second-round pick Josh Richardson (pictured left to right) have been a revelation, with defense-first impact that has earned both a major role. We saw that during the season, when their combined average of 49.9 minutes per game was second in the NBA to Denver among teams with two rookies playing the most. We sure saw it again Sunday in Game 1 of the playoffs, in the rout of Charlotte, when the two combined for 62 minutes – playing off the bench, but playing starters’ time. Richardson, a 6-6 shooting guard, led everybody with 35 minutes, and had five rebounds, three assists, a pair of 3-point baskets and eight points. "I bring a bulldog mentality,” he said. “Play every possession as hard as I can." Winslow, a 6-6 small forward, played 27 minutes Sunday with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting, and four rebounds. "Learning something new every day," he described his rookie year. "Everybody can play [in the NBA], but you realize the elite guys are on a different level mentally. They see things before it happens. Seeing that first-hand has been cool." Include Whiteside at 26 and Tyler Johnson at 23 and Miami has its brightest nucleus of young players in many years. Wade, in his 13th Miami season, is enjoying a mentor’s role that has invigorated him. Sunday, Winslow mimicked Wade’s Euro-step move for a basket, pointed at the Heat bench in acknowledgment, and Wade literally danced with delight. Of course everything is fun when you are winning a playoff game by 32 points. But the whole season has been fun for Wade, finally seeing a next-gen commitment from his franchise. There is a passing-of-the-torch feeling at play. As Winslow said Monday of his mentor Wade: "He knows his time is winding down and that I can have a very bright future in this league." Wade in turn calls Winslow "a student of the game," says, "I love that rookie!" The experience has been different for Wade. "Yeah it’s not very often since I’ve been here that we’ve had a lot of rookies who can come in and do this," the Heat's all-time great said Monday, after practice. "They’ve meant a lot. Justise came in with that NBA body and we knew right away he could play, [as] a very good defender defending other team’s best player. And Josh Richardson, surprising everyone the second half of the season with his ability to shoot and defend as well. Josh came along slowly and then -- out of nowhere!" The Heat’s only NBA All-Rookie first teamer since Wade in 2004 has been Michael Beasley in ’09, and it’s fair to say he flamed out. As a non-starter Winslow might not make the all-rookie first team to be announced in May, but you get the sense he and Richardson are built to last. Though Winslow just turned 20 and Richardson is only 22, they are the anti-Johnny Manziels. Mature. Serious about the game. Winslow has the bloodlines. His father played at Houston on the famed Hakeem Olajuwon/Clyde Drexler teams and had a long pro career mostly overseas. The son came NBA-ready out of Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke factory. Richardson, a former Tennessee Vol, also is of sound stock. His father is a retired Oklahoma City firefighter and his mother a former Air Force lieutenant colonel who now is an ordained Baptist minister. Both rookies are comfortable in a role that doesn’t always lend itself to the kind of offense that attracts all-rookie votes. Unselfishness defines both. They’ve bought in. "You saw that with Golden State last year," as Winslow said. "Guys accepting their roles." They have had the luxury to tune their defensive games because, "They don’t have the burden to score ‘X’ amount points," as Spoelstra said. "They’ve embraced every challenge that was given to them. They’ve played with great defensive energy. They focus on making winning plays." Added Wade: "Our young guys, they’re not scared of the moment. We need them to not play like rookies, and the special ones at this time of year do not." Imagine! Rookies playing a major role … in the playoffs … for the Miami Heat. Such an uncommon and nourishing sight for this franchise and its fans.

DengLUOL DENG'S GOOD WORK EXTENDS BEYOND COURT: He scored 31 in Game 1 the other night. He's doing even better off the court. We've mentioned Luol Deng's good works in this area before. Here's an update: The Luol Deng Foundation is battling a humanitarian crisis that now impacts millions in his native country of South Sudan. Deng has created a crowd funding campaign with a goal of $100,000 to be donated to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in support of the group's emergency response aimed primarily at attacking malnutrition. Deng will match the first $50,000 in funds raised. The campaign will run through the end of April. "South Sudan is my home and I am humbled to be in a position to help those suffering from lack of access to basic needs, especially the children facing severe acute malnutrition," said Deng. "I hope to raise awareness of their plight and inspire others to support the millions of South Sudanese people who are in urgent need of lifesaving assistance." To learn more or to donate, visit www.crowdrise.com/luoldeng.

JesusgolfGOLF JOKE!: Moses and Jesus are playing golf, and come upon a water hole. Jesus hit his ball right into the water, walks out to get it and hits again. Moses tells him he should use a different club. Jesus answers, "Tiger Woods uses this club and so shall I." He hits the ball into the water four more times in a row, and as he is walking out to get his ball yet again, someone in the foursome behind him yells, "C'mon! Who's he think he is, Jesus Christ!?" Moses yells back": "Well, he is. The problem is he thinks he’s Tiger Woods."

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 18, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team                Seasons    PO years    Pct.

Miami Heat            28        19           .679

Miami Dolphins     50        16           .320

Florida Panthers     22         5            .227

Miami Marlins       23         2            .087

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 11, 2016

The new Hot Button Top 10, starring Heat, Cats, Fish, Masters, Warriors, Kobe, Miami FC, Fins, Pacquiao and Nyquist; plus Dolphins woes quantified, your verdicts on LeBron/Kobe & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Should Heat retire LeBron James' number poll, Kiper's latest Dolphins mock draft, Heat and Panthers playoff outlooks, does golf miss Tiger Woods poll, Dolphins preseason schedule, your Rock Hall verdict, mourning Merle Haggard & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent general columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Now the Proving Begins, as Panthers end regular season and face playoffs. Out Of Excuses, off Marlins Opening Night. Power and Porcelain, Marlins season preview.

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: Miami wins home finale, zeroes in on home court for playoffs: Heat whipped Orlando 118-96 in its home final Sunday but enters last three days of the regular season still unsure where it will finish or who its first-round opponent will be. Simplest scenario: Miami will have home-court advantaged if it finishes 2-0 by winning at Detroit Tuesday and at Boston Wednesday. That Boston game could be winner-take for the home court. Finish delicioso! Meantime Hassan Whiteside says he won’t campaign for the NBA defensive player of year award while casually mentioning he has more blocks than a Toys ‘R Us.

2. PANTHERS: Cats await Islanders in playoff Game 1 Thursday: Cats won their home finale Saturday (my column here) and now face the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series here Thursday night, with Game 2 here Friday night -- an odd postseason back-to-back. Cats dodged a bullet by not getting the tougher first-round draw vs. the Rangers. Either way, this was known: Florida -– unlike the entire country of Canada -– is competing for the Stanley Cup.

3. MARLINS: Fish trying to bounce back from rough early start: Has Jeffrey Loria fired Don Mattingly yet? Kidding, sort of, but an 0-2 start at home including the end of Jose Fernandez’ record 17-game Marlins Park winning streak wasn’t the season launch Miami hoped for, and now Miami is 1-3 in the midst of six straight road games vs. the division-power Nationals and Mets. One (very) early-season certainty: How much Marlins' TV broadcasts are missing Tommy Hutton.

4. GOLF: Spieth's collapse snatches green jacket from his hands: World’s No. 2 golfer and top American Jordan Spieth carried a 5-shot lead into the back nine of The Masters at Augusta on Sunday, then collapsed with a quadruple-boey 7 on the par 3 12th hole, and Danny Willett waltzed past him for the green jacket. Poor Danny. The 2016 Masters will be remembered not as the one he won, but as the one Spieth gave away.

5. NBA: Golden State's pursuit, Kobe's final game hog stage: Simple now for Golden State (72-9). Warriors must win at home vs. Memphis Wednesday night to break the Chicago Bulls' 1996 NBA record of 72 wins. On the Kobe Watch, Lakers are on road tonight, then Kobe Bryant plays his final NBA game at home on Wednesday -- same night Warriors go for the record. Has an NBA regular season ever finished bigger?

6. SOCCER: Miami FC makes inaugural home debut: Expansion team Miami FC tied Tampa Bay 1-1 in its home debut in the NASL Saturday night. More important, the new team drew more than 10,000 fans to FIU Stadium, decidedly more than most FIU football games draw. 

7. DOLPHINS: Ross names successor as draft nears: With the April 28 NFL Draft bearing in, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross named New York real estate mogul and longtime business partner Bruce Beal as the potential successor who'll have first rights to buy franchise when Ross, 75, sells or dies. Super Bowl or bust, Steve. Tick tock.

8. BOXING: Manny Pacquiao wins his (supposed) final fight: He beat Timothy Bradley in a unanimous decision last night in Las Vegas. Pacquiao therafter immediately announced he was retiring, which is boxspeak for, "Anticipation of my eventual comeback will hopefully stoke interest in the PPV bonanza of a Mayweather rematch."

9. HORSE RACING: Nyquist wins Florida Derby as Triple Crown season looms: Nyquist's impressive triumph in the Florida Derby positions the horse as an early favorite to win the Kentucky Derby on May 7. Surprising bloodline. Nyquist's sire, Nyquil, was best known for falling asleep in the starting gate.

10. HURRICANES: UM spring football wraps up in five days: Miami's annual intrasquad offense vs. defense Spring Game is this coming Saturday afternoon, April 16, at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. I'm betting big on the Hurricanes to win. And lose.

Missing the cut: Thousands will swarm Miami’s ocean sands Sunday for the finish of the Global Champions Tour of Olympic-style equestrian show jumping. I’m betting on Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani, a Qatar royal, because I hear his family just bought Miami Beach, the ocean and the event to assure he’ll win ... R.I.P., former New Orleans Saint Will Smith, shot dead in a road-rage incident ... U.S. women's soccer has filed a lawsuit demanding equal pay to the men. That is so ridiculous. Based on performance, the women should make at least three times more ... Entering Sunday's MLB games only the Baltimore Orioles remain unbeaten. "Good luck with that," sneered the '72 Dolphins ... First time since 1970 no Canadian teams in Stanley Cup playoffs. New national anthem: No Canada! ... This just in. UConn women's basketball has been awarded the next six national championships in a time-saving measure ... Recently (I'm serious) the No. 75-ranked Hurricanes men's tennis team hosted No. 41 North Carolina State. Um, is it possible college tennis might wanna tap the brakes on how many teams it ranks? ... An unnamed MLB scout told us that an anonymously quoted rival scout is full of s--- ... Novak Djokovic won the Miami Open but Serena Williams did not. For once, women's tennis is less predictable ... The 24th-ranked men's tennis player is an American named Jack Sock. He's a shoe-in ... The Lakers' D'Angelo Russell was wired for sound the other game. Not for TV. To secretly record his teammates ... No. 2-ranked UM baseball was snowed out of its series at Notre Dame. Duh. Games shoulda been here like Jim Morris said ... Finally, Ernie Els 7-putted the first green at The Masters. There's a phrase for that in golf: "Greg Cote."

THE LIST: THE DOLPHINS: THE (SAD) COMPANY THEY KEEP: The Dolphins' last winning season (no, .500 doesn't count) was 2008. I wondered how many of the 122 franchises in the Big Four sports have a longer drought, including the current NBA and NHL seasons. Answer: Seven. Longest droughts since last winning season (LWS):

Team                                League    LWS

Oakland Raiders                NFL        2002

St. Louis (now L.A.) Rams  NFL        2003

Edmonton Oilers                NHL       2004

Minnesota Timberwolves    NBA        2005

Sacramento Kings              NBA        2006 

Cleveland Browns              NFL        2007

Jacksonville Jaguars          NFL        2007

Miami Dolphins                 NFL         2008

Note: Marlins' LWS was 2009, longest drought in MLB. Panthers' LWS had been 2000, worst in NHL, but that drought ended this season. 

Poll result: No! Most don't favor Heat retiring LeBron's jersey: We asked, and 58.0 percent of you said no. Much disagreement, though, with 34.6% saying yes and 7.4% undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 09, 2016

Kiper's latest Dolphins mock pick, and why Fins won't get the "it" guy they covet; plus should Heat retire LeBron's jersey? Poll. Vote!; also, Heat/Panthers playoff outlook, does golf miss Tiger? (poll), your Rock Hall verdict, mourning Merle & more

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

Beerbff1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 9. On yesterday's date in 1974 Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to surpass Babe Ruth. 2) The day before was National Beer Day. Wait. I thought every day was. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jose Fernandez's first home loss has Marlins under early pressure, Rock Hall poll, R.I.P. Merle Haggard, judging Justise Winslow, UM hoops' 2017 title hopes, M.J. vs Steph verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My most recent general columns, ICYMI or in case you thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Out Of Excuses, off Marlins Opening Night. Power and Porcelain, Marlins season preview. Mystifying Offseason, on Dolphins' uneven efforts to improve.

ElliottKIPER'S LATEST DOLPHINS MOCK PICK; WHY FINS LIKELY WON'T GET THE PLAYER THEY COVET MORE: ESPN's Mel Kiper puts forth his NFL Mock Draft 4.0 today and has the Dolphins selecting Ohio State outside linebacker Darren Lee 13th overall. Maybe. But it's another OSU product who is Miami's latest "it" guy. Fins have scheduled a visit with Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (pictured), who would fill a glaring need and be a Day 1 starter. What a great pick he'd be at 13. One problem. He won't be there. It's a near-certainty Miami would have to trade up to have a shot at  him, and an equal certainty that won't happen. Elliott is especially coveted because he is this draft's only RB stamped 1R-quality. Scouts Inc.'s Top 32 has Elliott slotted No. 5 overall, Kiper's new mock has him going sixth (to Ravens), and Todd McShay's latest Top 32 has him rated fifth. McShay defies his own ratings by having Elliott fall to Miami at 13, but that is unlikely. It would be the kind of dumb luck the Dolphins haven't had much of on draft day since that Marino guy fell to them in '83.

Dolphins preseason schedule: Fins open their 51st season with a quartet of fake preseason games: at Giants Aug. 11-15, at Cowboys Aug. 18-22, home vs. Falcons at 8 p.m. on NBC Thursday Aug. 25, then home vs. Titans Sept. 1-2. Exact dates and times of games other than Atlanta are to be announced. All except Atlanta will air locally on WFOR/CBS4.

LebronheatSHOULD THE HEAT RETIRE LEBRON JAMES' JERSEY NUMBER?: The Heat surprised some by announcing they'd ceremonially retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey next season. Will they do the same someday for LeBron James? ESPN talking head and unofficial LeBron biographer Brian Windhorst says so -- not reporting it as fact, but merely predicting it. What do you think? The pro side: In his four seasons James played a major role in Miami reaching four NBA Finals and winning two championships. The con side: Four seasons is a little light for retired-jersey status, and LeBron left shabbily, in a way that angered Pat Riley and other Heaters. Your verdict goes here. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

FOR HEAT IT'S AS EASY A-B-C; FOR PANTHERS, THE TUNE IS NEW YORK, NEW YORK: This spring-into summer marks only the fifth time in 22 shared seasons that the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers both will be in the playoffs together. The Heat is in a four-team scrum for the Nos. 3 through 6 seeds in the NBA Eastern Conference and, depending on their finish, they'll face A, B or C -- Atlanta, Boston or Charlotte -- in the first round. Heat will avoid LeBron James and Cleveland until the conference finals if they finish third or sixth, but risk facing the Cavs one round sooner by ending fourth or fifth. In the NHL, the Panthers are the Eastern division winner with the second-most points and thus will face the wild-card team with the most points. That'll be the New York Islanders or New York Rangers. How the Heat and Panthers have fared this season vs. the teams they could face in the postseason:

AbcHeat vs. A-B-C:

3-1 vs. Atlanta, +28 points: L 99-92 Nov / W 100-88 Dec / W 105-87 Jan / W 115-111 Feb.

0-2 vs. Boston, -22 points: L 105-95 Nov / L 101-89 Feb / @ Celtics Apr 13.

2-2 vs. Charlotte, -7 points: W 104-94 Oct / L 99-81 Dec / W 98-95 Feb / L 109-106 Mar.

Latest Bovada betting odds have Celtics 50-1 to win NBA title, Heat 66-1, Hawks 75-1 and Hornets 100-1. Golden State is prohibitive overall pick at 5-7, followed by San Antonio 4-1 and Cleveland 13-4. 

NynyPanthers vs. New York, New York:

2-1 vs. Islanders with Cats leading in goals 10-5: W 3-2, so Nov / W 5-1 Dec / L 3-2 Mar.

1-2 vs. Rangers with goals tied 9-9: L 5-4, ot Nov / W 3-0 Jan / L 4-2 Mar.

Newest betting odds via Bovada have Rangers 18-1 to win NHL title, Panthers 20-1 and Islanders 28-1. Overall faves are Washington 17-4, Los Angeles 7-1 and Chicago 15-2.

DOES GOLF MISS TIGER WOODS?: The Masters has begun in Augusta, with Tiger Woods conspicuously absent as he continues (laboriously) recovering from back and other ailments. Four of his 14 majors have been green jackets but he hasn't won a major of any kind since 2008, and whether he'll win another one is in doubt. The sport he once dominated has seemingly moved on from him. Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth top the marquee now. Can Tiger, now 40, still make a comeback? Do we still care? Tell us what you think in this poll.

Poll result: You said Chicago (the band) is most deserving new Hall inductee: The 31st Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions are Friday, we asked which of the five latest inductees are most deserving, and here was your call: Chicago 39.2 percent, Steve Miller 19.8%, Deep Purple 15.7%, N.W.A. 15.7% and Cheap Trick 9.7%. Personally, none of the five have been that important in my life but the pretty clear vote probably was Chicago in terms of commercial success and N.W.A. for social significance.

STILL BUMMIN' ABOUT MERLE: So let's throw another video of his up in here. It's Haggard's signature hit, with a little help from his friend starting at about the one-minute mark:

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March 26, 2016

Hurricanes out in Sweet 16: How successful was season? Poll. Vote now!; plus my updated bracket, Serena Williams, Miami Open tennis vs. Doral golf poll, LeBron's weird dream, McShay's latest Fins mock, your Brightest Future winner (tight!) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 26. Did you make it a good Good Friday, Christians? 2) Happy 69th birthday today to Elton John, one of my musical and cultural heroes. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bright Futures 25&U poll, Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena backs Miami Open, Dolphins on the cheap, your Obama-Cuba verdict, Melania Trump ad & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Serena and the Miami Open: The Miami Open on Key Biscayne helped raise Serena Williams, and vice versa. That symbiosis is the theme of my latest column. Click on Serena and the Miami Open to read it. 

End of the bracket for me: SliceMiami.com was down to its Final Four in the Media bracket and I made it, but lost in my semifinal to the 'Gotz Army of my 790 The Ticket/ESPN Radio colleague, Stugotz. He's now in the Media final and crushing rival station WQAM's Marc Hochman. Oh my. Juggernaut.

McShay's mock picks for Dolphins, UM: ESPN's Todd McShay's mock draft 4.0 has Fins picking Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott 13th overall and Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah in second round, 42nd overall. Only Miami Hurricane in the first two rounds: CB Artie Burns, 45th overall to Rams.

MARCH MADNESS: RUN IS DONE FOR HURRICANES; UM ELIMINATED IN SWEET 16: Miami was swamped 92-69 by Villanova in the NCAA Sweet 16 in Louisville. That's makes it three Canessweet16Sweet 16s for UM but still no Elite Eight. Sheldon McClellan did his part with 26 points tonight but got too little help. The story, though, was Miami not containing a really effective 'Nova attack. Villanova shot 62.7 percent from the field including 10-for-15 on 3's, plus 18 of 19 on free throws. Seems like they never missed. I'd foreseen it in my preview here, writing, "Mostly the matchup figures as how the Canes' defense fares in limiting 'Nova's big-time offense, which has averaged 82 points over the past month and has shot 58.6 percent so far in the NCAAs." Villanova, the nation's No. 1-ranked team for three weeks in February, was a four-point favorite and showed why. I liked Miami in an upset, but I guess that was homer parochial thinking. They needed another lights-out performance from guard Angel Rodriguez and didn't get it. Bottom line? Miami is not Elite yet, literally or figuratively. But Jim Larranaga is getting them closer. Progress. Overall a good season that did Miami proud. Agree? Take a dip in our poll.

NCAA Bracketeering, updated: Friday--My teams were 1-3, meaning 1-1 with teams still alive (North Carolina advanced) and two others previously eliminated. Overall--I'm 37-19 thus far in men's NCAA Tournament games. The bad news? I have only two teams still alive in the Elite Eight. The good news? They include Kansas, my pick to win it all. Cinderella Meter--28.6% (16 of 56 games have been upsets so far based on seeding). Today--I very much need Kansas to  beat Villanova. I have no dog left in the Oklahoma-Oregon hunt.

ON LEBRON'S 'DREAM TEAM,' STATE OF HEAT: 1) LeBron James said this week he would "take a pay cut" to play on the same team with close friends Dwyane Wade (once Lebrondreamingmore), Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Said James: "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP. I would actually take a pay cut to do that." Quick thought: Given the age and career arc of each, is 'Bron talking about an Old-Timers League? 2) The Heat's 112-88 loss to San Antonio Wednesday night was a reality check and a reminder of the distance between Miami and the best teams in the NBA. Here is another: Miami is now 4-9 this season against the five teams with clearly better records: Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Toronto. It's 2-1 vs. the Cavaliers, 2-8 vs. the other four.

Doral golf MiamiopenMIAMI OPEN TENNIS VS. WGC DORAL GOLF: The World Golf Championship event at Doral just ended, continuing the PGA Tour's 53-year run in South Florida. Now the Miami Open tennis tournament is underway on Key Biscayne -- Serena Williams won last evening in the first marquee match -- continuing that event's more than 30-year history in South Florida. But are prestigious tournaments right below being one of the sport's four majors. But both annual local sports institutions are in jeopardy. Doral could lose the greatest men's golfers in the world over politics, because the PGA Tour may distance itself from Donald Trump-owned properties. Key Biscayne could lose the best men's and women's tennis players in the world over legalities, related to a court case that will determine whether needed facility improvements are permitted. My question here: Which of these two major annual events is most important to you? I hope the answer for many of you is "both!" But which would you most hope stays where it is if you could choose only one? Take a dip in our poll and be heard!

JosePOLL RESULT: BRIGHTEST FUTURE? J'S HAVE IT AS JOSE, JUSTISE, JARVIS DOMINATE VOTE: We asked which of South Florida's 25-and-under sports stars has the brightest future, and gave you 14 choices and three votes. The clear overall top three in a tight race: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez (21.9 percent), Heat forward Justise Winslow (20.3%) and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (19.2%). Jose is pictured tipping his cap to thank you for the vote. Rounding out the top five were Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker with 9.3% and Heat guard Josh Richardson at 8.7%, followed by the top-ranking Florida Panther, Sasha Barkov, with 7.7%. Popular poll. Thanks to all who weighed in.

BOSH'S NEW PUBLIC-SERVICE AD: Sidelined Heat star Chris Bosh is featured (along with Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Becky Hammon) in a new LeanIn.org video for its public-awareness campaign in support of gender equality. Here it is:

 

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March 05, 2016

Revisiting my infamous "trade Marino" column, 22 years later; plus Mario Williams to Fins?, Phil Mickelson reborn, the silly outrage over my Eric Reid impression & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 5. R.I.P. Bud Collins, 86, respected tennis writer/broadcaster/historian. 2) You want a cheap laugh at Donald Trump's expense? Who doesn't! Visit TrumpDonald.org, click on the horn and enjoy. 3) A terrific read (click here) by our former Herald colleague Joe Goodman on the terrible hazing injuries Bart Starr suffered while at Alabama. Strong work, Goody! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Three reason why this week's Doral golf is special, Marriott's shameful attack on Erin Andrews, FIU's women's basketball scandal, Dolphins draft, cheerleader saves NFL Combine, Heat/Panthers betting odds, your Best-Oscar verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Mario Williams to Dolphins?: The recently released Bills defensive end, 31, is visiting with the Dolphins today, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The four-time Pro Bowl'er has 96 career sacks, though only five last season. Exploring Williams is smart, especially considering Miami may yet lose Olivier Vernon in free agency, which begins next week. Signing Williams would be costly, though, and not easy. Other potential suitors could include the Cowboys, Cardinals, Raiders, Giants and Eagles.

PhilMickelson: Golf's reinvigorated star: Click on The Rebirth of Phil Mickelson for our latest column from the World Golf Championships event at Doral. Mickelson is on leaderboard at 5-under, tied for seventh place entering Saturday play to continue a strong early 2016. At age 45 and with a new swing coach, he is determined to win again on the PGA Tour, which he last did in 2013. The sport is about Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and the young guns now, but old favorite Mickelson ain't done yet.

REVISITING MY INFAMOUS "TRADE MARINO" COLUMN: That's the easiest way to recall what I wrote on Nov. 4, 1993 and how many folks remember it, although I put "trade Marino" in quotes here because the column did not make an unequivocal case that Miami should trade its veteran quarterback. My opinion was not quite as strong as the headline pictured conveyed -- I only wrote that it may be time to consider that then-blasphemous notion. The column, Trademarinoabout which I still get occasional and mostly snarky emails and references, arose anew recently because a Twitter site called Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed) cited the column. The Twitter site has made a cottage industry of holding media folks accountable for things written or said that have proved wrong, things that the writer (or sayer) surely now regrets. Two quick points: A) What I wrote seems even more legit now, in 20/20 retrospect, than it did at the time. B) I don't regret writing it; quite the opposite. More on both points in a second. First, a word about that Twitter site. It is a good idea. We media blowhards should be held accountable for what we put out there. It's also a weird idea, though. It's akin to political fact-checkers divining the truth of what candidates say in debates, only in the Silly Division. It's funny to me: A self-appointed Twitter Watchdog protecting society from the idea Stephen A. Smith (or I) might say something that proves ludicrous and get away with it. We're in the toy department, people. We're giving opinions (now doing business as hot takes) on sports, for God's sake. OK, back to what I wrote late in a Dolphins season over 22 years ago. That was a great column. Seriously. I don't say that often of my own work. It was great because it was intensely debated and remains memorable, and because it broached a taboo topic and made a case. It made news. Local TV stations interviewed me about it. The only thing I didn't like about it being a part of @OldTakesExposed is the implication the column is a dark secret I'd rather have kept hidden, or that it was a column I regret writing. Neither is true, or close to it. Marino, then 32 and out with an Achilles injury, was in his 11th Dolphin season still looking for that elusive Super Bowl ring. He would play six more seasons, and retire still ring-less. Great as Marino was, big as his stats were, Miami was not getting where it wanted to go with him and, at 32, he still had trade value. Maybe it was time to get a bounty for him and move on, that's all. What I wrote might have been stupendously mockable had Miami gone on to win a couple of Super Bowls late in his career. But the way it turned out, what Dolfan can honestly say the Fins might not have benefited from the change I wrote about? It was worth considering, which essentially is all I said. I'll never forget Marino's reaction the next day in the lockerroom. He was asked about the column because it had become news in a way, something requiring a response. So what did he think of what Cote wrote? "He may be right," Marino said. Twenty-two years later, you can still make fun of the column if you wish. You can still bring it up like something I'd rather you didn't and try to pin it on me like a regret. I'll wear it like a medal, thanks.    

ON MY IMITATING HEAT BROADCASTER ERIC REID: This, like what's above, is sort of about me, but I wish to respond to the 790 The Ticket morning radio show slamming me the other day over my Ericreid"disrespectful" impersonation of Heat play-by-play broadcaster Eric Reid (pictured), which I do very, very occasionally (when asked) when guest-hosting on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. I LOL'd when I heard Zaslow's outrage replayed by LeBatard on Thursday, finding it doubly funny because I knew he wasn't kidding. Zas, who refers to himself as "a two-time Champion Broadcaster for the Miami Heat Radio Network," was defending his friend and colleague Reid, which is fine, but does a harmless impersonation really rise to a level meriting anger? Whatever happened to "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"? Reid's face and voice are well-known in this market. He's a local legend of sorts, which is why he rises to the level of somebody someone might imitate in the first place. Eric has a distinct delivery and well-known catchphrases that make an audio caricature of him so inviting. He also is obsessed with providing statistics and arcane facts, which I find funny. ("That's Whiteside's third block tonight and 51st this month!") I consider my impression a compliment more than disrespect. In fact I respect Reid very much. Doesn't mean I can't have a little good-natured fun with him. Is it disrespectful when impressionist Frank Caliendo does his Jim Rome? Or when a caricature sketch artist exaggerates someone's features? I'm a Miami guy, on a fun-first radio show, mimicking the Heat's popular play-by-play man. That's all. It's benign frivolity. Save the outrage for something that matters.

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March 03, 2016

Doral's Last Stand? 3 reasons this week's WGC is special; plus Marriott's shame in Erin Andrews trial, FIU's sordid scandal with women's basketball coach, McShay on Dolphins' draft, cheerleader saves NFL Combine, your Best Oscar verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 3. A terrific read (click here) by our former Herald colleague Joe Goodman on the terrible hazing injuries Bart Starr suffered while at Alabama. Terrific work, Goody! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Greatest Oscar poll, Hot Button Top 10, Lists for the Ages, Miami's top 29s, Marlins odds, your presidential verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

THREE REASONS WHY THIS COULD BE THE MOST MEMORABLE DORAL TOURNAMENT EVER: The PGA Tourists are back crawling across Doral's Blue Monster today through Sunday, with 47 of the world's top 50 ranked players among the exclusive 66-man field for the season's frst World Golf Championships event, a sort of sub-major. Click on Doral's Wild Week to read today's latest column by me in full. This could turn out to be the most memorable Doral ever, for these three reasons:

TrumpThe Circus: Tournament host Donald Trump, the resort’s owner, always is at the event basking in the glory of his billions, conspicuous as the helicopter emblazoned with his name that in previous years always has been parked strategically for arriving fans to admire. Now, of course, Trump will be here as possibly the next president of the United States, a prospect that frightens the hell out of many Americans but apparently delights enough that he is the Republican frontrunner.

SpiethThe Golf: The sport is palpably moving on from the fading Tiger Woods era with bright new stars. The current top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking, Jordan Spieth (pictured), Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, all are in their 20s, and this week marks their first time all playing together since last September. They’ll go off in the same threesome Thursday at 11:32 a.m. from the 10th tee. And No. 5 in the rankings is Rickie Fowler, also in his 20s.

MonsterThe History: This could be the finish line, the end, for the PGA Tour's continuous 55-year relationship with Doral, the event a fixture on our sports landscape since 1962. Cadillac is ending its run as title sponsor, and contractually the next title sponsor may choose to relocate the event if it wishes, and perhaps with the Tour’s nudging. "We will explore all options regarding the event’s future," goes the Tour statement. There is speculation the event will abandon Trump National Resort and the Tour distances itself from Trump over his insults disparaging Mexicans, Muslims, women and others.

This week, then, is a lot about what we don’t know. We can’t know yet if Spieth, Day, McIlroy or anybody else will build the kind of historic career Woods did. We don’t know if the tournament’s namesake host will make history by becoming the next U.S. president. And we cannot be sure if Doral is about to lapse into history, the past tense, as a PGA Tour destination. All of these elements make this week special — a fitting end, if that’s what this is.

ErinandrewsON MARRIOTT'S SHAMEFUL DEFENSE IN THE ERIN ANDREWS TRIAL: Marriott lawyers on Tuesday revealed a shameful defense strategy, claiming that Erin Andrews profited from the nude video of her that was shot through a peephole of the chain's Nashville hotel in 2008 and uploaded to the Internet by the creep who shot it. It has been watched an estimated 17 million times. Convicted pervert Michael D. Barrett did 2 1/2 years in prison. Andrews, 37, then at ESPN and now at Fox Sports, is suing Marriott for $75 million. Marriott's defense is somewhat reprehensible. Andrews should be appluaded for being able to maintain her career, and the fact she has done so has zero to do with her claim the hotel was negligent in allowing Barrett to stay in the room next to hers and alter the peephole to her room with a hacksaw. Her privacy was violated in a most awful way, and Marriott's claim she gained financially because of the nude video is shameful. It makes me question my past loyalty to Marriott when traveling -- not because the incident happened at a Marriott, but because of the chain's defense in this trial. I hope Andrews gets every penny of the $75 million she is seeking.

ChinnFIU MUST ACT SWIFTLY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY OVER ALLEGATIONS AGAINST WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: I just read this story by our FIU beat writer David J. Neal and it is well-reported and shocking and galling. The FIU women's basketball team is going through a 4-23 season under first-year coach Marlin Chinn (pictured), but the record no longer matters. Chinn's conduct does, if allegations made against him by team captain Destini Feagin are true. She says Chinn has pursued a sexual relationship with her most of this season. If so that is a firing offense to say the least -- the height of inappropriateness especially for a male coach of a women's team. And I must say, from the account and its details, Ms. Feagin's claims have the heft of credibility. If Chinn has been wrongly accused, let him speak. If he has not been wrongly accused, let him resign in disgrace, or be fired. FIU's investigation led by athletic director Pete Garcia must be swift because this is sordid, combustible and a huge embarrassment for Miami's major public university. Chinn today was suspended by the school pending the outcome of that investigation, a necessary step. I can imagine repercussions. If the allegations prove to be true, it stretches credulity to think no assistant coach, no one else in FIU athletics, knew what was going on. If Ms. Feagin is right, I doubt Chinn would be the only person fired over this. I also doubt FIU would be unscathed by the NCAA over lack of institutional control.

THE LATEST GUESS ON DOLPHINS' NO. 1 DRAFT PICK: This today from ESPN's Todd McShay, in his third (of 7,418) mock drafts. He has Miami selecting UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, saying: "Jack, who is still recovering from an early-season knee injury, didn't participate in drills at the Combine. But his tape shows a twitched-up athlete who thrives in coverage and can make plays all over the field versus the run. If the Dolphins are looking to add a much-needed playmaker to the second level, Jack is their best bet." Well, maybe. And LB is a need. But I still think, right now, that Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is the likeliest Fins pick at No. 8 overall.

KatyKATY THE CHEERLEADER SAVES THE NFL COMBINE: Sure the NFL Combine ongoing in Indianapolis, the pre-draft meat market, is a raging bore except to football nerds and men with stopwatches, and is rather hopeless as a TV event. But it has its redeeming value. And here it is: NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen competing against two fully outfitted team mascots and a blond Falcons cheerleader named Katy in the 40-yard dash. Oh it's exquisite! Katy has terrific form. Also a pretty good running style. Click here to watch. The video is courtesy TMZ.com, which is pretty much filming everything, everywhere, including under your bed right now.

LATEST HEAT, PANTHERS BETTING ODDS: Per Bovada's latest odds, Heat are now 75-1 (tied for ninth) to win NBA title, down from 66-1, with Golden State an absurd 5-7 favorite over Cleveland's 13-4. As for the NBA MVP race, it might as well be off-the-board, with Steph Curry a ridiculous 1-30.  In the NHL, the Panthers are steady at 16-1 to win the Stanley Cup, 10th best, with Washington (9-2) and Chicago (5-1) fronting the pack.
Oscar2
OscarPoll result: Robertson edges the Grouch for Best Oscar:
We asked who was the greatest Oscar of all-time, gave you 12 choices and three votes, and when the pollen settled it was Oscar Robertson with 20.8 percent edging Oscar the Grouch with 19.0%. Bronze goes to Oscar Wilde with 12.2%. Also in double digits: Oscar Mayer (the bologna) at 11.3% and Oscar (the Academy Awards statue) right at 10.0%.

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December 31, 2015

It's Clemson-'Bama! Tigers win big, Tide rolls. My postgame thoughts, Orange Bowl game column; plus here are 2015's Top 10 national sports stories. What was biggest? Poll. Vote now!; also, Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve, all. Make it a safe one. Lots of amateur drinkers out tonight. 2) Panthers have won seven straight hockey games. ICYMI, click on Surging Cats for my recent column. 3) Brent Grimes' "apology" for his wife slamming Ryan Tannehill was pretty tepid. And still no apology from Miko. 4) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Open letter to Miko Grimes, hot Panthers relevant again, NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos Week 16 results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP award: Receiver/returner Jarvis Landry and strong safety Reshad Jones split Dolphins' MVP award announced today. Hate ties, but both are legit choices. That neither Ryan Tannehill nor Ndamukong Suh won says much about why Miami is 5-10 and looking for a new coach.

Orangebowl ClemsonoklahomaORANGE BOWL/CFP SEMIFINAL: CLEMSON 37, OKLAHOMA 17 (Final): Clemson proved it had no business being the betting underdog in this College Football Playoff semifinal, winning all over the field in a 37-17 domination of favored Oklahoma. The Tigers won where it gets physical, rushing for 312 yards and limiting OU to 67. The Sooners averaged 52 points its previous seven games but was shut out in the second half Thursday. Clemson impressed more than Oklahoma disappointed on this New year's Eve. Click on Clemson Turns Disrespect Into Orange Storm for my column from the stadium on tonight's game. ..... Original post: To the sport, it's a College Football Playoff semifinal in the new era's second year. To Miami, it's the 82nd Orange Bowl, the continuation of a tradition conceived in the 1930s to draw attention and boost tourism. To the No. 1 Clemson Tigers and No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners, it's the win they need to reach the Jan. 11 championship game in Glandale, Ariz., vs. tonight's Alabama-Michigan State Cotton Bowl winner. Click on Miami Sets the Stage for my column previewing the game. Expect fireworks from two quarterbacks who combined for 65 touchdown passes this season. Clemson, though unbeaten and top-ranked, is a betting underdog; the buzz is that Oklahoma is right-now better. I don't buy it. My pick: Clemson 34-31.

2015YOU PICK THE 2015 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-ending blog vote. The top 10 stories in our poll are not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically, not in order, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, figuring that if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, chances are the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. We'll ask your vote on the top 10 Greater Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2015 in the coming days. For now, let's go nationwide. Ready? Go!

Vote for the top three (3) biggest stories:

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December 12, 2015

What is your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Vote now!; plus the strength of Serena, PGA Tour may leave Doral over Trump, NFL Week 14 picks, verdict on Heat at quarter mark & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat at quarter-mark poll, Marlins and Fernandez, Trump's hate-mongering, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy Week 13 results & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Golden Dolphins: Miami introduced its all-time 50 greatest players last evening during a gala at the Diplomat in Hollywood. I was there and will have a column online later today and in Sunday's paper.

AS A FRANCHISE CELEBRATES ITS PAST, DOLFANS STILL WONDER ABOUT THE FUTURE -- ESPECIALLY THAT OF TANNEHILL: The preceding headline is my suppposition, and here is why: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said six words yesterday that I thought spoke volumes. He had been asked whether he wanted to throw more passes than his 19 in last week's game and Tannehillhe said it didn't matter, explaining, "I’m in the business of winning." He is, indeed. So when is it going to start? The question is fair to ask this week — almost unavoidable, in fact — as the 50 greatest players in Miami's franchise history are in town to be honored at halftime of Monday night’s game vs. the Giants in a ceremony marking the club’s 50th season. Two of those greatest players, of course, are named Dan Marino and Bob Griese. So we are reminded of better days and better players, almost all of them in the past. It isn’t that anyone expects Tannehill to be a Hall of Famer. But it is fair, I think, to say we expected more of the No. 1 draft pick by now than a four-year record of 7-9, 8-8, 8-8, 5-7 and no playoff appearances. The mediocrity isn't all on Tannehill, for sure. But he has not demonstrated the ability special QBs have to lift and lead, to win because of them and despite surrounding talent. Has Tannehill taken a step forward this season? "I don’t know," he answered. Does he think 2016 will be his breakout season? "I hope so," he said. He called this "a crazy year for us for a lot of different reasons." Yes. When the in-season tumult includes the head coach being fired and later the offensive coordinator, too, that’s crazy. The thing is, both moves are due in part to the quarterback underperforming. As the Dolphins and Dolfans rightly celebrate their past, the frustration of the present isn’t just a likely seventh consecutive season out of the playoffs. It is that we still aren’t sure what we have at the most important position. We still aren’t sure if Tannehill is the franchise quarterback who will lead Miami to new glory days. And the fact we are still asking and wondering four years in may itself be the answer. Now, your turn. What is your degree of faith that Tannehill is or will be as good as the Dolphins need him to be? We asked this same question Oct. 15. I'll be interested to compare results two months later and see how Tannehill is trending. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 14 PICKS: We got off to a split start to our week last night. Hit on the Cardinals winning but thought they'd cover, too; they didn't. Click on Week 14 Gems for all of our remaining latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins get huge home win over Giants in a mild upset Monday night; Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers surprise Cincinnati in Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"); and Patriots avoid their first three-game losing streak in 13 seasons. Also, click on Judging Tannehill Amid Golden Hoopla for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column (more above), leading with Dolfans still wondering if QB Ryan Tannehill is the future as they celebrate the club's past.

DonaldPGA TOUR MAY LEAVE DORAL AFTER '16; PETITION TARGETS TRUMP AT DORAL: Update: The PGA Tour said today it will explore moving its WGC event from Doral after the '16 tournament this coming March. If so -- and it seems likely -- that would end a 53-year relationship between the Tour and Doral. ... Original post: A Care2 petition is asking the PGA Tour to cancel or move its World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship event scheduled for March 3-6 at Trump National Doral because of Donald Trump's controversial call for a sweeping ban on Muslims entering the U.S. The petition had gathered more than 33,000 supporters as of this morning; click on thepetitionsite.com to view. (Earlier this year Trump's controversial comments about Mexicans also called into question whether the PGA Tour should be doing business with Trump and his golf courses). The Tour is in a tough spot, put there by Trump himself, who has gone from flashy tournament host to outspoken, polarizing presidential candidate. I doubt very much this petition will move the PGA Tour or cause it to leave Doral, at least not now. But chances are good the Doral event in March will be as much a political circus as it is a golf tournament this year, with players asked about Trump's politics and perhaps protests. That's good for me, for Your Friend the Media. I'm not sure it's good for golf.

SerenaSTRENGTH OF SERENA: You wonder why Serena Williams dominates women's tennis? Catch her photo, pictured, taken for the 2016 Pirelli calendar.

Poll result: More think Heat is worse than expected than better: We asked how you thought the Heat were doing relative to expectations at the NBA season's quarter mark, and 58.8 percent said about as expected. However, "worse" than expected drubbed "better" by 34.3% to 6.9%.

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Twitter @gregcote

September 22, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 1.7%; plus Miami falls 23-20 at Jacksonville; also the new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21. Random Evidence the Sunday notes column has retired (click on Random Evidence for last week's farewell) but its Top 5 list goes on! Click on Hot Button Top 5 for the latest edition. Our Hot Button Top 10 (here below) is an updated, expanded version found exclusively in this blog every Sunday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes beat Nebraska, CSM poll, other Collball Week 3 &  more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results: See blogpost directly below for latest CSM results, showing a modest upturn. Click on This Won't Help Golden Much for my column off the UM-Nebraska game.

Sorry about that...: A computer glitch tonight caused our Dolphins-Jaguars in-game blog to disappear. It also caused our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll to do the same. We have reinstalled the poll, now open for voting. Thanks for the patience. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 1.7 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied) in the wake of Sunday's 23-20 loss at Jacksonville putting Miami's season record at 1-1. The DSM, in 1aadsmits eighth year, 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Next poll: Sept. 27 (following game vs. Buffalo)

Interpreting the vote: It doesn't get much lower than 1.7 percent. Literally. An Internet poll could ask "Would your rather be happy and wealthy or miserable and destitute?" and you might not have a majority like this one.  

G2: JACKSONVILLE 23, DOLPHINS 20: Note: With apologies, a computer glitch has erased our live in-game blog. Original post: There are no gimmies in the NFL, granted. No Bethune-Cookmans. But Washington and now Jacksonville 1aa1adoljaxis about as soft a season-opening road quiniela as any NFL team or its fans should have the right to hope for. Dolphins were so-so last week and still beat the Redskins 17-10. The Jaguars are worse than the Skins. I expect a better performance today, and a more impressive win at Jacksonville, where I also expect the Traveling Wilburys traveling Dolfans will make it feel almost like a home game for Miami. What I expect most is that Ndamukong Suh and his defensive-line mates, who didn't defend the run very well last week, will be much better today. I wouldn't want to be Blake Bortles. In general, but especially today. I don't buy, though, that today is any sort of Litmus test for the Dolphins. The opponent isn't up to that challenge. The first of those tests looks like next week's home opener vs. Rex Ryan's revitalized, defense-strong Bills. But let's take 'em one game at a time, shall we? My pick: Dolphins, 30-10.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPT. 20): WHAT 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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM dominates, almost blows, then survives Nebraska visit: Canes are 3-0, barely, after blowing a 23-point lead and escaping Nebraska in overtime last night, 36-33, thanks to goalline interception by Corn Elder. Odds, please, that team named Cornhuskers would be beaten by man named Corn? Two programs with five national titles each were trying to recapture old mojo. Arguable which team needed the win more, although I’m confident UM coach Al Golden and his many critics would have dominated that debate.

2. DOLPHINS: Miami 1-1 after crushing upset loss at lowly Jacksonville: Bad defense, not enough offense and costly penalties cost Miami dearly in a 23-20 loss to the underdog Jaguars. Just when a Dolfan thinks it's different this time we get The Return of the S.O.D. -- Same Ol' Dolphins.

3. MARLINS: Just shut Stanton down, already!: As Fish prepare to open the season's final homestand on Tuesday they have locked up third place in NL East but are well out of wild-card hunt. So why not shut down Giancarlo Stanton and the “abnormal” scar tissue in his healing hand for the rest of the year? No gain in rushing him back now. See you on Opening Day 2016.

4. NCAA: Loss by No. 2 Alabama tops college football's wild weekend: Gators and Seminoles survived defensive struggles (and FIU won!), but it was second-ranked Alabama losing to Ole Miss that topped the national news in college football Week 3. Having a bad day? Lift your spirits by picturing Nick Saban sad.

5. NFL: Patriots at Rex Ryan. Delicioso!: Patriots edging Buffalo was our NFL Week 2 Game of the Week pick. And that was even before Rex Ryan and the Bills tweaked New England for its Deflategate scandal by selling ball-inflating needle pumps this week in its team store.  

6. PANTHERS: Cat Skate Fever! Hockey’s back, eh?: So Fla puckheads are happy. The Panthers made their preseason debut Sunday by splitting a pair of exhibitions in Nashville and now play their first home exhibition Tuesday. ESPN says the Panthers “could be the surprise team in the Eastern Conference.” So it has come to that. When your team hasn’t won a playoff series since 1996, the expectation of its success is surprising.

7. HEAT: Team eyes major improvement as training camp nears: With preseason practices starting next week, expect a big change at Media Day a week from today. Last year, every other question concerned LeBron leaving. This year, only about a third of them will.

8. NASCAR: Homestead awaits as 'The Chase' begins: With the Nov. 22 finale in Homestead-Miami Speedway the prize, race teams started winnowing the field in the first "Chase" race Sunday in Chicago won by Denny Hamlin. Gentlemen, start your drama.

9. TIGER WOODS: More back surgery for the former great one: The ebbing PGA Tour season was cut short for Tiger Woods when he elected to have more back surgery and set his sights on a 2016 return. The ultimate favorite has turned himself into the ultimate underdog. 

10. WNBA: Playoffs underway in women's basketball: I'll give you a dollar if you can name who's in the this year's playoffs. Another buck if you can tell me who won last year's WNBA championship. (Hint: Phoenix Mercury).

THE HOT LIST: DOLPHINS VS. THE STATE: How Miami has fared in NFL regular-season and playoff games vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and today's opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars. All are regular season except 2000 playoff loss to Jags:

                      MIA W-L      Wins                           Losses

Vs. JAC             4-4           2003-09-12-14           1998-00-06-15

Vs. TB               5-5           1976-85-88-91-09     1982-97-00-05-13

                     Seasons        Playoffs        Championships

MIA                49                22                2: 1972, 73

TB                  39                10                1: 2002

JAC                20                 6                 0

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...