July 08, 2017

ESPN's 'Body' issue: Great or ridiculous? Poll. Final day to vote!; plus Kelly Olynyk, an homage to Bosh and Ichiro, your Barca-Real vs. All-Star Game verdict, Paul McCartney concert review, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 8. Interesting, in-depth piece in Rolling Stone here on the fatal auto accident for which tennis star Venus Williams has been implicated and sued -- but won't be criminally charged. 2) Know any Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Hayward, All-Star Game vs. Barcelona-Real Madrid with poll, 'Body' issue narcissism parade & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

AN HOMAGE TO BOSH, ICHIRO: Our two newest columns both are about farewells, in a way. Chris Bosh: The Heat officially parted ways with Bosh on Tuesday -- on the Fourth of July, in the midst of Gordon Hayward's free-agent decision. Bosh's was a gradual goodbye to begin with, and the timing of it becoming actual was overshadowing. As the third of the Big 3 Bosh was never Bosh Ichirofully appreciated even before the blood clot issues truncated his career. Off the court he was in many ways the most interesting of the Big 3, erudite, with interests beyond the bouncing ball. Click on The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks to read that column, from today's paper, in full. Ichiro: After 14 years of determining home-field advantage in the World Series, a ridiculous idea, the All-Star Game (Tuesday at Marlins Park) is back to what it should be: Ceremonial, a showcase, a celebration of history and heritage. Who wins doesn't matter, but moments and memories do. In that context I write that MLB should include the Marlins' Ichiro in Tuesday's game. In what likely is the final months of a Hall of Fame career, give him a curtain call in his adopted hometown. Stuff like that is what All-Star Games should be about. Click on There Should Be A Place For Ichiro to read that column, from today's All-Star Game special section, in full.

EspnboddyissueESPN'S 'BODY' ISSUE: GREAT ... OR RIDICULOUS?: ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual 'Body' issue hit newsstands this week. (Are there still newsstands?) It celebrates the athletic form with artfully nude (non-explicit) photography. There is argument on either side whether this concept is wonderful or awful. It's wonderful because it is empowering; not only perfect bodies are shown. And athletes should be proud of their bodies. It is awful because it is exploitative (much like Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit issue) and it is the ultimate in athlete ego-stroking -- narcissism on parade. I tend to think the latter, that it's a pretty ridiculous thing. I mean, look at the photo we've shown from the current issue, of the U.S. national women's hockey team. Is that empowering? Is it sexy? Or does it just make you laugh and think, "Seriously!?" I mean, it's so dumb it's hilarious, really. But that's me. Now, your turn. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results:

KellyoADDING OLYNYK A BIG PLUS FOR HEAT: It doesn't make up for the free agency sting of losing top prize Gordon Hayward to the Celtics, no.  But Miami has recovered admirably, first re-signing its own top FA Dion Waiters, and now signing ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk, 26, the floor-spacing 7-foot center who will complement the Heat frontcourt nicely. Miami also has managed to its own two top free agents, James Johnson and Dion Waiters, along with Wayne Ellington. Bonus: Josh McRoberts finally gone to free cap space. Miami fans hated Olynyk in Boston green, but he'll prove popular here. Also is reportedly a strong lockerroom guy who should fit that much-ballyhooed "Heat culture" that the team loves to talk about and that fans dutifully have adopted to recite as if it were some tangible god. Pat Riley took a big hit with Hayward, but the Godfather wasn't on the canvas long.  

POLL RESULT: UPSET? YOU SAY BARCELONA-REAL MADRID IS BIGGER THAN ALL-STAR GAME: We asked which major July event you consider to be the bigger, more prestigious for Miami to host, and you said El Clasico Miami: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid soccer with 46.1 percent over Major League Baseball All-Star Game with 40.4%. The other 13.5% voted even/too close to call. Maybe that isn't an upset. We asked same question on Twitter, with no "undecided" option, and Barca-Real defeated the ASG by 57-43%.

Rodcyndi MaccaREVIEWS: THE ENDURING MAGIC OF PAUL McCARTNEY; ROD 'N CYNDI AN ODD MIX THAT WORKS: A pair of concert reviews from this week... Paul McCartney: Saw the great Sir Paul at the Heat's arena last night and he did not disappoint with a career-spanning flexing of one of the great canons in music history: the Beatles, Wings and his solo stuff. He was very chatty with banter and song backgrounds. The video augmentation was terrific. Metallica also played Miami last night, at Dolphins stadium, and they are metal legends. But if you have the chance to see McCartney, still rocking and relevant at 75, do not pass it up. Rod Stewart/Cyndi Lauper: We saw the twinbill Thursday night at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, and with some trepidation. Stewart/Lauper was an impulse buy to attend and seemed an odd pairing, but they clicked in the opening of their joint tour. Lauper opened and rocked harder than anticipated in her set, even delivering an edge to her saccharine "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," performed to a political video backdrop exhorting women's rights and funding for Planned Parenthood. She's a strong live performer, quirky in her Brooklyn banter. The sold-out house wanted Rod, though, of course. He delivered. His signature rasp of a voice, live, is not his strongsuit, but Stewart makes up for its with a sexy charm still percolating at age 72. The largely female audience ate it up. Thankfully Stewart stayed away from his latter-career standards remakes and rocked with mostly older stuff, his stage setting and large backing band conveying a Motown flavor. His audience-pleasing 90-minute set hit all the right notes.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 7-8-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at San Francisco, 10:05: Next-to-last roadie before All-Star break.

2. Heat vs. San Antonio, 8 p.m.: Vegas summer debut for Miami after 0-5 in Orlando.

3. Wimbledon, 8 a.m.: Third-round matches continue in London.

4. U.S. vs. Panama, 3:30: In Gold Cup soccer tournament.

5. San Francisco at Miami FC, 7:30 a.m.: NASL matchup at FIU Stadium.

Select other recent columns: Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron: On Heat's fight for Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 05, 2017

Recovery mode: Heat scramble to move past Hayward loss; plus what's bigger for Miami: MLB All-Star Game or Barcelona vs. Real Madrid? Poll. Vote now!; also, ESPN 'Body' nudies, my July fireworks column, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

Happy4th1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 5. Happy 241st birthday, America! Hope y'all had a safe, wonderful Fourth of July. Our Boston butt was scrumptious! "Let's gooooo States!" 2) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, my Sunday Heat column & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Heat-lose-Hayward column: "He wasn't worth the money." "Better to sign James Johnson and Dion Waiters." Heat fans may parse it any way they wish to see the glass half full on this, but it won't work. This was a huge loss for the Heat and Pat Riley. It's a double-defeat: Miami not only losing Hayward, but losing him to Boston, not Utah. Click on Heat Lose Twice On Hayward for my new column.   

RECOVERY MODE: HEAT STAGGERED BY HAYWARD LOSS, NOW LOOK AHEAD: There were media reports out of Salt Lake City, Boston and Miami all saying how optimistic the Jazz, Celtics and Heat were of signing Gordon Hayward after encouraging meetings. Two-thirds of them proved wrong. The only nedws that mattered came with Hayward saying Tuesday he'd chosen Boston. This is a big defeat for Miami and a very personal one for Pat Riley. You can try to the any way you wish, but it is an

Haywardbos
And so it is for Heat.

unequivocal loss for Miami. Period. It means an ultimately disappointing summer of free agency in South Florida. Hayward chose the Fourth of July to declare his independence from Utah, his longtime NBA employer, but in doing so essentially told the world he thought Boston was closer to competing for a championship than Miami, his very decision making that a reality. The Celtics had a built-in edge: Brad Stevens, their coach, coached Hayward in college. Riley tried to overcome that but could not, losing what amounted to a 1-on-1 duel with Celtics counterpart Danny Ainge to convince Hayward where his future would be best spent. Ainge and Riley have had a professional animus since the 1980s, one that in 2013 led Riley to publicly tell Ainge to "shut the f--- up." It was a needed victory for Boston, which hoped to both trade for Paul George and then sign Hayward but missed out on the first half of that dream. It was a sizable loss, too, of course, for the for the Jazz, who lose their rising star and franchise face — despite the fact they could offer him the most money. The Heat and Celtics both offered Hayward what Utah could not: An easier Eastern Conference. A more reasonable path to the NBA Finals that did not include the gargantuan roadblock of reigning champion/dynasty Golden State. Now the defeated Heat are left to prioritize retaining and re-signing their own two top free agents, James Johnson and Dion Waiters, keeping the core of the team that went 30-11 in the past season's second half, and tinkering from there. By signing Hayward, Miami might have been unable financially to keep both Johnson and Waiters and might even have lost both. Heat fans of the glass-half-full variety will go there now, seeing the bright side, convincing themselves that keeping Johnson/Waiters (if they can) will outweigh losing Hayward. Hmm. That's dubious. Hayward was not a tinker. Miami was aiming big with him. He was the top available free agent out there. He was not a "whale," no, but he's an in-his-prime 26-year-old versatile forward coming off a 22-point-average season. He made the 2017 All-Star team. He can shoot the 3. He'd have been a great add for Miami, a budding star, not to mention a big personal triumph for Riley. Now, the Heat is left to parse the disappointment and hope to salvage the summer. The news of Hayward's decision broke mid-afternoon on the Fourth. The fireworks would start booming overhead later Tuesday night. They would not find most Heat fans in the mood to celebrate.

MLB ALL-STAR GAME VS. BARCELONA-REAL MADRID EL CLASICO: WHICH IS THE BIGGER JULY EVENT FOR MIAMI? POLL. VOTE NOW!: Talk about a heavyweight battle! Next week, July 11, Elclasicomiami
MiamiasgMarlins Park will host Miami's first-ever MLB All-Star Game (and the Home Run Derby the night before). Soon after, on July 29, Hard Rock Stadium will be filled for Barcelona-Real Madrid -- Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo -- in El Clasico Miami (three nights after a Juventus vs. Paris-St. Germain match). In my latest column -- click on Fireworks Fill July in Miami Sports to read -- I suggest the two Super Bowl-scale mega-events make this the biggest July ever in South Florida sports. I'm curious which event you think merits the top of the marquee. This is not a baseball vs. soccer/favorite sport poll. I'm simply curious which you think is the bigger, more prestigious event for Miami to host. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

NARCISSISTS ON PARADE!: ESPN The Magazine's 'Body' issue is out today. It's the ninth annual, because, evidently, there is a continuing and endless parade of athletes who are proud of their physiques to a point of narcissism. There are 16 athletes featured, many of whom I have never heard of. The biggest name probably is former No. 1-ranked tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. Also prominent: Boston stars Julian Edelman of the Patriots and Isiah Thomas of the Celtics. Was the photo shoot of Thomas used to lure Gordon Hayward in free agency? Hey I'm just asking! Wozniacki and Thomas, in all their vain glory, are pictured below. I'll leave to figure out which is which:

Body2017

Ithomas

 

 

 

 

 

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 7-5-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at St.Louis, 8:15 p.m.: Continuing road trip leading to All-Star Break.

2. NBA free agency, ongoing: Heat must rebound from Hayward loss.

3. Wimbledon, 7 a.m.: Second-round matches begin in London.

4. Tour de France, 7:30 a.m.: Stage 5 of famed cycling event.

5. ESPN's 'Body' issue, out today: Annual font of athlete narcissism.

Select other recent columns: Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron : On Heat's fight for Gordon Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 13, 2017

The true tale of Marlins' Boobs Flasher! (with video); plus huge disagreement on how good Dolphins are, with your expectations; also, Buoniconti and Kiick as new faces of brain injury, David Beckham's acting debut, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, May 13. Condolences to Fort Lauderdale's Ray Hudson, the Strikers icon turned great soccer announcer, on the passing of his father, Wilfred, at age 98. 2) Our latest Back In My Day video from the LeBatard Show is entitled 'Bumper Stickers.' Watch it HERE. 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-expectations poll, Kathy Berman, your LaVar Ball/$495 sneaker verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

David Beckham: Aspiring soccer-team owner, professional actor: Becks has his first speaking role in the new King Arthur movie. Story here. 

THE INCREDIBLE (OR PERHAPS RIDICULOUS) TRUE TALE OF THE MARLINS' BOOBS FLASHER: It was meant to distract the opposing pitcher. That didn’t work. Had it been meant to distract South Florida from the fact the Miami Marlins had lost 11 of the past 14 games entering tonight’s, well, then that worked a little bit better. Fans have been talking less about the team and its Korinawoes than about a certain young blond woman behind home plate since an episode during Wednesday night’s home game vs. St. Louis splashed all over the Internet. Hey, Boobswhen it gets on Inside Edition, it is certifiably news. Or ... something. It was the bottom of the sixth inning when Korina Evaniuk, 22, pulled down and open the V-neck of her Marlins shirt to reveal much of her cleavage. Korina is shown, at left, in action, from a screen grab, and at right in her Twitter avatar. Alas, the attempted distraction did not prevent Cardinals pitcher Brett Cecil from striking out Christian Yelich in a 7-5 Marlins loss. "I was just having fun," Evaniuk told NBC6. "That’s just me. It’s my personality. We were drinking, watching the game and, I don’t know, we wanted to have a distraction. We wanted to try and win! I’m bringing attention to baseball I guess!" Evaniuk reportedly is (or was) a Marlins "Mermaid," one of the team’s in-game cheerleaders. She’d been a second-row guest of "Marlins Man," the local attorney-turned-cult oddity in his ubiquitous orange jersey. The boobs-flash was not shown live in South Florida because the cameras of the local Marlins broadcast were elsewhere at that moment. But the episode was shown on the St. Louis feed, and commented on at length by Cardinals announcers. Marlins officials officially condemned the action, but, if any publicity is good publicity, and if it takes the mind off a losing team, how bad can it be, really?

DayofdolphinTHE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS I: SHARP DICHOTOMY ON HOW GOOD '17 TEAM WILL BE: The Day Of the Dolphin was a 1973 thriller movie starring George C. Scott. The Day of the Dolphins, in our blog, is the two-parter presented here. Part I: Coach Adam Gase and the people running the Fins think their 10-6 playoff team has improved. They are convinced of it. Las Vegas strongly disagrees, setting a wins over/under of only 7 1/2. Who's right? I explore in today's latest column, and identify eight issues/questions -- eight big "ifs" -- that will provide the answer and steer the season to continued credibility or to the regression Vegas foresees. Click on The Dolphins' Eight Ifs to read in full. Meanwhile, I invited you in a recent blog poll to say how good you thought the team would be based on regular-season wins. Your verdict: 10 wins--33.7 percent; 9 wins--31.5%; 8 wins--18.3%; 11 or more wins--10.4%; 6 or fewer wins--3.6%; and 7 wins--2.5%. Your combined average of all votes: 9.20 wins, a maybe-playoff number closer to last year's total than to Vegas' disrespecting projection.

THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS II: THE SAD TALE OF NICK BUONICONTI, JIM KIICK: Part II: Absolutely stellar work by Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price, our old friend and former colleague Scott, on this week's two stories on the brain-injury related plight of two 1970s-era Dolphins icons. These are long reads worth every moment of your time. Click on Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick to read, Nickbuonbut be warned. The tales will make you sad, especially if you are of an age where these two meant something to you pre-Marino, when Shula was King. (Buoniconti is pictured right, today, at 76. Kiick is 70). Within the story you'll find a video that depicts Buoniconti taking more than a minute to try to remember and figure out how to pul a T-shirt over his head. Heart-wrenching. I remember, attending the club's 50th anniversary banquet two seasons ago, seeing all of those gnarled, disfigured claw-hands and those terribly limping knees. Football players tend not to age well. The deteriorating mind, though, the effects of CTE -- those things are not as obvious. Until they are. Situations like Buoniconti's and Kiick's could have been spotlighted in any NFL city. It's unfortunate for the Dolphins the stories chose Miami, but the stories are important to tell. It's also notable and no coincidence that Buoniconti, a middle linebacker, and Kiick, a running back, played the two positions that tackle most and get tackled most. Like the government was with the dangers of cigarettes, the NFL is a few generations late in finally acknowledging the debilitating, long-lasting dangers of brain-injuries in the sport. That Buoniconti and Kiick are the latest faces of the problem is sad, but serves a so-important cause.

ASPIRING MIAMI SOCCER OWNER DAVID BECKHAM MAKES ACTING DEBUT: Beckham, 42, still trying to realize a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami, has a small part in King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword, which hits movie theaters on Friday. His appearance lasts only two minutes but is a speaking role, as Trigger, a smart-mouthed soldier to the king. Fans may not Beckhamtworecognize the British heartthrob, as he is hardened for the role with yellowed fake teeth and prosthetic facial scars. Pictured: Beckham as heartthrob, and made-up as Trigger. "My role is pretty small in that I have one or two lines," he says in a video on his Instagram account. This is Beckham's first speaking role in a full-length feature film, although he did have a brief, wordless cameo in the 2015 film, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Both movies were directed by Guy Ritchie, one of Beckham's best friends). The subject of the new film, King Arthur, was a British leader in the late 5th and early 6th Centuries. Hey, wasn't that about when Beckham first announced his bid to own an MLS expansion team in Miami? Beginning to seem like that. It actually was February 2014 when Beckham announced his plans. Three years and three months later, he and investors appear ready to complete the purchase of the three acres needed to complete his stadium site in Miami's Overtown area. The deal would require county-commission approval.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 5-13-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Atlanta at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Fish, losers of 12 of past 15, continue 9-game homestand.

2. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: Ottawa at Pittsburgh in Game 1 of Eastern finals.

3. Hurricanes at Virginia, 1 p.m.: UM baseball doubleheader after Friday rainout.

4. WNBA opener, 5 p.m.: Seattle at defending champ Los Angeles tips off season.

5. UFC 211, 10 p.m.: Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos headlines in Dallas.

[Note: NBA playoffs are off Saturday]

Select recent other columns: On The Team's Terms, Not His, on what it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium, on the N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why the Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 18, 2017

How will Marlins do this season? Set the early bar on expectations. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Cam Wake, my Fish column, Edwin Pope news, what Kate Upton is (not) wearing, ode to the Monopoly thimble, new Hot Button Daily & more

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

Mepic1) It is SATURDAY, February 18. We're about to put out a new song, "The Ballad of 1440," an autobiographical tale of a little boy in Hollywood, Florida who grew up to have an unexpected life. Click on image at left to see larger version. Will post a video of song on social media later this month. Stay tuned. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump sticks nose in Marlins' sale, Branden Albert, Shane Battier, 3 Fins in PFF 101, Fish farm barren, your Villain Purge verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins extend Cam Wake contract: Announced today, it's through the 2018 season.

My new Marlins column: From Jupiter and the team's first full-squad workday of spring training, I wrote of how nothing is ever simple for this team. Still getting over the Jose Fernandez grief, now the players deal with questions about the prospective sale of the team and other off-field stuff. Click on French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! to read.

Edwin Pope news: The Miami Herald longtime former sports columnist, who passed away earlier this year,  is being honored today in Okeechobee in a private celebration for family, friends and colleagues. There had been no public event planned. However, myself and Dan LeBatard are putting together a Miami event to honor Edwin that will be free and open to the public. Stay tuned for details. 

MattinglyWHAT IS YOUR OPTIMISM ON MARLINS SEASON AS TEAM STAGES FIRST FULL-SQUAD SPRING WORKOUT?: I'll be up in Jupiter for a column today as the Marlins stage their first full-squad workout of the spring. Much swirls around this team (as usual). The tragic offseason death of Jose Fernandez is a huge loss both from emotional and baseball standpoints. Now the team also deals with the distracting speculation about Jeffrey Loria selling the team and the White House-related Kushner family maybe buying and the possible offer to Loria of an ambassadorship to France (!) tossing a monkey wrench. But somewhere amid all of that there will be a baseball season, Miami's second under manager Don Mattingly (pictured). Most NL East estimations are that the Nationals are clear favorites and the Mets are next, with the Marlins in the middle -- better, at least, than the Braves and Phillies. The playoffs seem a longshot. Again. Although the Marlins toying around with .500 and contention seems plausible. We invite your thoughts on the matter. Take a dip in our poll and set the expectations bar on this Marlins season.

KateUptonNO, IT IS NOT SEXIST TO SHOW THIS COVER PHOTO IN MY BLOG BECAUSE IT'S FROM A SPORTS MAGAZINE AND SHE IS WEARING (HALF OF) WHAT COULD ALMOST BE A SWIMSUIT, SORT OF: Cover your eyes, Junior! And click on the image to see a larger version, Dad. The Sports Illustrated "swimsuit issue" continues as a sublime and ridiculous slice of Americana and an annual $$$-maker for SI. This year three models get the cover prize of this week's current issue, with Kate Upton pictured here, setting a record in the category, "Minimalist Swimwear." (Note to self: Consider an abrupt career change; apply to be a Sports Illustrated photographer. Unless, that is, SI's budget and staffing have gone the way of the newspaper, in which case the person taking this photo may have been the lone remaining SI editor, or perhaps one of the other models using a smartphone). Where was I ? Is this a swimsuit bottom or jewelry? How come on my occasional forays to the beach I see not a person who looks like this (un)dressed like this, but rather a matronly, waddling Canadian packed into a black one-piece like 20 pounds of potatoes crammed in a 10-pound sack? That's a rhetorical question. Keep doing the great work you do, Kate Upton!

ThimbleFAREWELL, THIMBLE. R.I.P.: The Monopoly board game is retiring its Thimble after 82 years. The Thimble, though never respected like the Dog or the Tophat, has stood sturdily across the generations, moving inexorably around the board, easing past the Iron, passing go, landing on Free Parking, staying out of jail, quietly making money for its owners. Farewell, great, humble Thimble, and a thumb's up to you. Gone ... but never forgotten.   

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 2-18-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Clemson at Hurricanes, noon: UM men playing for NCAA Tournament seeding in final regular games.

2. Panthers at Los Angeles, 10 p.m.: Playoff-chasing Cats have won three in row and five of past six.

3. NBA All-Star events, 8 p.m.: Including 3-Point and Slam-Dunk contests.

4. Kansas at Baylor, 1 p.m.: A men's Final Four feel with No. 3 at No. 4.

5. Rutgers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: Second of three in opening baseball series at The Light.

Select recent columns: French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, the new one, from the start of Marlins spring training. Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View, on how Heat's recent run has Miami poised to be buyers at trade deadline as possibility of first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James looms. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 24, 2016

Dolphins come to aid of Orlando victims; plus athletes posing nude: OK or narcissistic? Poll. Vote!; also, Cleveland, Cubs, Dolfans 'n hope; active Panthers, Top 5 undrafted Heat finds, your verdict on LeBron's future, R.I.P. Vinyl & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JUNE 23. I always respected the British people as intelligent, but am rethinking that appraisal after UK's vote to leave European Union. 2) I'm thrilled to say Kennedy Center Honors announced today that Mavis Staples, one of my beyond-music heroes, will be among 2016 inductees. KCH described "unmatched gospel and rhythm and blues masterpieces span(ning) 60 years." So deserved! 3) I read that earlier this week it was "National Selfie Day." Isn't every day? I didn't think our ode to narcissism ever took a break! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. soccer falls to Argentina, Dwyane Wade nude, LeBron's future with odds and poll, Canes out fast in Omaha, USGA's choke at Oakmont & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so great they deserved another look: Cavs, Cubs Offer Hope For Dolfans, the latest, musing on how Cleveland's championship and season Cubs are having proves even long-starving fans get fed eventually. Rooting For LeBron to Make History, on our treasonous hopes entering Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Dolphins, NFL coming to aid of Orlando victims: The NFL Foundation and the league's three Florida teams including the Dolphins are donating $400,000 to the OneOrlando Fund to aid families and survivors of the recent Orlando nightclub tragedy in which 49 people were murdered. Said Dolphins owner Stephen Ross: "It's hard to find words to describe the emotions we all felt when news of this senseless tragedy broke." Visit OneOrlando.org for more info or to add your donation.

IT'S ABOUT FANS, AND HOPE: WHAT TIES TOGETHER CLEVELAND, THE CUBS AND DOLFANS: I tried something different with my latest column today. Not sure if it worked (click on Cavs, DolfansCubs Offer Hope For Dolfans) to read, but envelopes are made for pushing, right? It is a musing column that sees a common denominator among the city of Cleveland ending its 52-year championship drought, the Cubs (in town to face the Marlins) being favored to end that team's 108-year World Series title drought, and the Dolphins moving in on their 43rd season since last winning a Super Bowl. The column's theme is that sports is about the cities and the fans, first and always. Players, coaches and team owners come and go. Even stadiums, arenas and uniforms might change. It's the fans that are the lifeblood, generation after generation, decade after decade. So Wednesday's championship parade was about the city of Cleveland even as the national media made it about LeBron James. The Cubs finally winning again would not be about Jake Arrieta or Joe Maddon, but about that franchise's long-suffering fans. And if the Dolphins ever win a Super Bowl again? It won't be about Stephen Ross or Ryan Tannehill (or whomever is in place then). It'll be about Dolfans, generations of them, ever hopeful and waiting. My column in no way suggests the Dolphins may be poised to do what Cleveland just did or what the Cubs might. That seems such a longshot ... again. No, the column is about fans, and about faith. In sports' Year of the End of the Drought, we are reminded that sports feeds its most starving, eventually. We are reminded that hope is eternal, and that there's always next year.

WadenudeSELF-LOVING ATHLETES KEEP GETTING NAKED: Athletes love their bodies, and I get it. Most work very hard on their physiques. Their bodies and what those bodies can do is what makes them famous and rich. ESPN The Magazine tapped into that self-adulation several years ago in inaugurating its annual Body issue, in which a variety of athletes are photographed posing artfully nude. That means nothing pornographic or even NSFW, unless maybe you work in a church or elementary school. Still, they're naked! The next Body issue is forthcoming and athletes posing au natural include the Heat's Dwyane Wade (pictured). Giancarlo Stanton and Serena Williams have been other South Florida stars taking it all of for ... well, for what, exactly, other than ego? I'm no prude, and I see nothing at all wrong with athletes posing nude if they choose, but I'd also suggest the undeniable: It's blatant narcissism. Curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll and say which of the four options best reflects your opinion of the annual Body issue and athletes who participate.

YandleAGGRESSIVE PANTHERS KEEP MAKING NOISE: The Florida Panthers have been busy since their disappointing early playoff exit, and I don't mean the fluffery of a new uniform and logo. Yesterday, the same day Jaromir Jagr won the NHL's Masterton trophy best exemplifying "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication," the Cats made a big, costly and smart move in signing a quality defenseman in the prime of his career. Keith Yandle (pictured), 29, a two-time all-star, is aboard with a seven-year, $44 million deal. He was a pending free agent but Florida spent two lower draft picks (to the Rangers) for first rights to sign him. That's aggressive. It's also a smart move in that Cats were expecting to lose veteran defender Brian Campbell, and adding Yandle more than compensates. Yandle also will boost what last season was a mediocre power-play unit. The spending and willingness to part with draft picks indicates a club that thinks it is close and wants to win now. [Update: Panthers today acquired backup goaltender Reto Berra, 29, from Colorado, in exchange for forward Rocco Grimaldi].

HeatTHE LIST: HEAT UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS: The NBA Draft is tonight but the Miami Heat have no picks, so will be scouring the land for bargains, for undrafted free agents. Sometimes you get lucky. Here are the top five undrafted players signed right out of college by the Heat who have been the most successful, based on number of regular-season games played for Miami:

Player                  Games   Signed/College

Udonis Haslem    814       2003/Florida

Keith Askins        486       1990/Alabama

Joel Anthony       382       2007/UNLV

Voshon Lenard    249        1995/Minnesota

Anthony Carter   246        1999/Hawaii

Note: Haslem has played second-most games in Heat history, after Dwyane Wade, and remains with team.

AblemanANOTHER FEATHER FOR CANES DIVING: I'm not a huge fan of the sport of diving, and find synchronized diving a laughable appendage that I'd eliminate if I were paring the Olympics. Nevertheless! Congrats to former Miami Hurricane Sam Dorman for qualifying last night for Team USA and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in synchronized 3-meter diving along with Michael Hixon. Even more impressive: Dorman is the 12th Hurricane to make the Olympics under the wing of UM diving coach Randy Ableman (pictured), who just finished his 23rd season in Coral Gables.

Poll results: Relax, Cleveland. LeBron ain't goin' nowhere: We asked where pending free agent LeBron James would be playing next season, and 79.8 percent voted "still in Cleveland." Only 20.2% voted "somewhere else." (The majority percentage grew, but only by two or three points, after LeBron predictably told ESPN yesterday he had "no intentions" of leaving).

VinylFAREWELL, VINYL, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: HBO this week canceled Vinyl after one season, leaving my emotions mixed. I gave the show a big chance, watching most every week, because the subject was so in my wheelhouse. I grew up on '70s rock music so a series about that time, and the music industry, had me from hello. And when Martin Scorcese and Mick Jagger are the producers, you have high hopes. But the show itself let me down. The writing was pedestrian, the storylines not great, and I'm not sure Bobby Cannavale was not up to carrying the series (though I loved him in a lesser role in Boardwalk Empire). The sense, though, is that Vinyl was salvageable with a tweak or three, and may have deserved one more season.  

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 06, 2016

G2: Toronto 96, Heat 92 (OT): At 1-1, still liking Miami in 6; plus no-Bosh decision smart beyond health, good/bad news for Miami in '17 NFL Draft, Jose & Giancarlo (Part IX), appreciating Shula, disrespecting Richt, urgent Fins cheerleader news & more

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

Cincodemayo1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 6. Hope y'all had a happy Cinco de Mayo! As you know this date marked the Mexican Army's upset victory over French forces at the Battle of Pubela in 1862, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza. That's in Mexico. In the U.S. this date marked the latest excuse to get drunk. Like we need one! 2) Thanks to Tony Kornheiser for having us on his national radio show. And thank you, Mavis Staples, for a wonderful show on Wednesday! 3) Welcome back, Jaromir Jagr. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat beat Raptors in Game 1, LeBron wants Heat next, an appreciation of Mavis Staples, Fins/Marlins updated betting odds, ex-Heat/Dolphin on wasted-talent list, your verdict on Heat-Raptors & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, the new one, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend. Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, previewing Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory.

U.S. presidential odds: Today, six months before the election, via Bovada: Next president--Hillary Clinton 1-3, Donald Trump 2-1, Bernie Sanders 20-1. Republican VP--Chris Christie and John Kasich both 4-1. Democratic VP--Julian Castro 2-1, Elizabeth Warren 4-1.

G2: TORONTO 96, HEAT 92 (OT): TURNOVERS, COLD-SHOOTING LATE HAS SERIES TIED 1-1 HEADING BACK TO MIAMI: Miami outshot the Raptors 49-42% and led in rebounds but is hard to claim the Heat deserved to win last night on the road. Miami led 77-70 in the fourth quarter but soon after went on a field goal drought of 4:37 as Toronto forced a second straight overtime game. Then Miami started 0-for-5 in OT. Heat also self-destructed with 21 turnovers to offset the gift of 12 missed free throws by the Raptors. This Heat team had a chance to be the first in franchise history to lead a playoff series 2-0 with consecutive road wins. Instead it's 0-for-15 in such opportunities. The good news? A split in Toronto and heading home at 1-1 probably would have been OK with most Heat fans coming in. See you Saturday at 5 p.m. by the bay. Still like Heat in six. ..... Original post: All eyes will be on Heat-Raptors tonight -- the only game on the NBA  playoff schedule -- and it finds Miami with a chance to make some history. This is the 41st playoff series in Heat franchise annals. Fourteen of the previous 40 have begun with two games on the road, but none of those 14 -- G2
Heatatraptorszero
-- have ever resulted in a 2-0 Miami series lead. That can happen tonight for the first time if the Heat can manage to pile another win in Toronto onto that overtime survival in Game 1. (The Eastern semifinal series swings to Miami with Game 3 on Saturday). As a starting point Miami will win again if guards Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic continue to be clearly better than Toronto's tandem of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Lowry has been especially awful. "I know we won't advance if I don't play better," he admitted on Wednesday. Look for Toronto to try to get Lowry going tonight with early shots and foul-seeking drives into the paint. Miami can't count on being as good from 3-point range as it was (8-for-11) in Game 1, but Hassan Whiteside (17 rebounds) should continue to be a force om the boards. Miami needs more offense from Whiteside, though, which may come tonight. Toronto is a 4.5-point favorite tonight. Then again, the Raps were a 6.5-point fave in the series opener.

THE REASONS FOR SITTING BOSH REST OF PLAYOFFS GO BEYOND HEALTH: It was smart of the Heat and Chris Bosh to jointly announce yesterday (at the team's strong urging) that he would not return the rest of the playoffs. Not a surprise, but it needed to be said to defuse the growing distraction caused by his wife's #BringBoshBack social media flurry and also by the unecessary,
Chrisboshbutting-in involvement of the NBA Players Association. The group issued a pointless statement saying Bosh's health if the utmost concern. What, like it isn't for the Heat, too? Abundant caution on the part of the team is why Bosh is still sitting in the first place. But it may not be the only reason. This doesn't get talked about, but Bosh rejoining the active roster right now might not be best for the team from purely a basketball standpoint. Miami will be better with him back starting next season. But right now? Here's why not, beyond the blood clot-related health concerns: 1) He would not be in basketball condition, let alone playoff-intensity condition, after not playing since February. 2) His return in the midst of a playoff run would be a circus-y distraction. 3) The team is performing well without him, with most metrics indicating Miami has been better post-Bosh, especially offensively, with Luol Deng's increased role and the addition of Joe Johnson. The Heat eventually will be a better team with Bosh when Erik Spoelstra figures out how to reintegrate him to the team's advantage next season. But that's not an experimenting that should be starting now.

LeBron, Wade on looming faceoff: LeBron on whether he has thought of facing Miami in Eastern finals: "Of course. It'd be great to play against those guys in the postseason. I've always wanted to go against [Dwyane] Wade in a playoff series." Wade on same question: "That's something we always talked about. Obviously, you want to play against the best and we respect each other as being two of the best competitors. But right now, that's not something I'm focusing on." Funny. Despite that disclaimer at the end, Wade obviously is looking forward to facing LeBron as much as vice versa. Make it happen, fate! Even fans in Toronto and Atlanta would probably rather watch Heat-Cavs.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR MIAMI IN FIRST '17 MOCK DRAFT: The outrageously early guesswork is out today via ESPN's Todd McShay. The good news for Miami is for The U. McShay has QB BradkaayaBrad Kaaya (pictured) as the No. 2 overall pick, after only Clemson QB DeShaun Watson. The bad for Miami is for the Dolphins. He has the Fins selecting fourth overall, which would indicate a really bad season. His choice for Miami isn't so bad, though: LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Others of Todd's first-round picks include Gators Jalen Rabor (CB) and Jarrad Davis (OLB) and Seminoles Roderick Johnson (OT) and Dalvin Cook (RB). Find McShay's full mock here. A Sports Illustrated '17 mock has Kaaya going first overall and the Dolphins selecting 10th and taking Alabama DE Jonathan Allen.

MARLINS: THE JOSE & GIANCARLO SHOW, PART IX: Jose Fernandez was the winning pitcher yesterday in the Marlins' ninth win in past 10 games, and Giancarlo Stanton homered. I wondered how often that has happened -- a Stanton HR the same game as a Fernandez W in the ultimate nexus of the team's two biggest stars. Answer: Nine times. But the pattern is interesting. It happened a lot in Jose's rookie season of 2013 (5 times, July 23-28, August 19, September 6-11). It happened only once in 2014 (April 29). It did not happen at all in 2015 largely because of staggered injuries to both. But it has already has happened three times in 2016, in all three of Jose's wins (April 18-28, May 4).

ShulaA RE-APPRECIATION OF SHULA: Whether it is a parent or grandparent or an iconic football coach who meant so much to your city, when an 86-year-old man is hospitalized, it is a good time to pray or give thanks or simply to appreciate that person. That is the spirit of today's latest column by me, an unabashed paean to Don Shula. We celebrate, again, all he meant and accomplished, and also marvel at yet another reminder of how distant the Dolphins' best days have grown from the present. Click on Shula: A Renewed Appreciation to read the column in full.

MarkrichtDISRESPECTING MARK RICHT: A panel of CBS Sports college football experts ranks all 65 Power 5 conference head coaches entering the 2016 season (click here) and the Hrricanes' Mark Richt (pictured) is ranked only 18th -- a tumble down from last year's 7th. Explains the synopsis: "Richt takes a big step back in the rankings, falling 11 spots. This is no doubt a result of a third straight season of failing to live up to high expectations at Georgia, especially in a season in which the SEC East was so very winnable. Now Richt has moved on to Miami where we'll see if a fresh start is enough to get him back into the top 10." The usual suspects -- Alabama's Nick Saban and Ohio State's Urban Mayer -- are 1-2 atop the list. Florida State's Jimbo Fisher is 6th. Florida's Jim McElwain is 27th.

FinscheerURGENT DOLPHINS CHEERLEADERS NEWS!: The Dolphins are giving fans a chance to attend this year's Dolphins Cheerleaders calendar shoot. Click here for details including how to enter. The club has chosen 40 young women for a seven-week boot camp from which the final 2016 squad will be selected. The camp will consist of workouts, etiquette training, team building, uniform fittings, look development and performance training. (Yes, I said "look development!") The 40 finalists were selected from among more than 800 hopefuls who auditioned at tryouts in Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil in addition to South Florida. I really don't care about any of this. I just needed a vessel in order to gratuitously float the photo at right.

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

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April 12, 2016

Micky Arison in the crosshairs on Carnival cruises to Cuba: New poll. Vote now!; plus Ronda Rousey loves Dolphins, Heat and Panthers parlay similar blueprint to playoffs, Cats' Stanley Cup odds, Donald Trump porn parody & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 12. Ronda Rousey praises Dolphins. Click here for the video. 2) Thanks to all the listeners, viewers and Tweeters who liked our "Back In My Day" on today's LeBatard Show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, The List (Dolphins), your verdicts on LeBron/Tiger & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

Panthers' Stanley Cups odds: Out today via Bovada, Florida is tied for eighth at 16-1 odds, better than opponent Islanders' 25-1. Capitals are favorites at 4-1, followed by a knot of five teams at 8-1. Cats Roberto Luongo (30-1) and Jaromir Jagr (35-1) are team's most plausible betting longshots for playoffs MVP. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint, the latest, on two teams' similar philosophy. Now the Proving Begins, as Panthers end regular season and face playoffs. Out Of Excusesoff Marlins Opening Night.

HEAT OWNER ARISON IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF CARNIVAL, CUBA AND POLITICS: Micky Arison's net worth is $7.7 billion, although it may have risen to $8 billion while you were reading this sentence. He is chairman of Doral-based Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest. He also is principle owner of the Miami Heat. As such, his two primary interests and business ventures put Arisonhim in the crosshairs of the latest news regarding his cruiseships, Cuba and politics. We first tackled this subject in the blog last July when Carnival first won Carnivalapproval to begin cruises to Cuba. For Arison (pictured) and Carnival it could be great for business. But many South Florida Cubans who fled that island's Castro tyranny (and many of those are Heat fans) are angry over normalized U.S.-Cuba relations and also about Carnival ships docking there. We ran a poll here last July asking if Carnival planning trips to Cuba negatively impacts how you view Arison, and it was 79.9 percent "no" vs. only 16.8% "yes" and 3.3% "undecided. But I wonder if the view has changed now that the Carnival-Cuba startup is soon -- first ships are set to head south in May -- and now that we know this disturbing detail: the still-oppressive Cuban government controls what passengers may be aboard the cruiseships, and they do not include Cuban-born people, which of course includes Cuban exiles living in and around Miami. Carnival has asked the Cuban government to relent on that policy, but, if Carnival wishes to do business in Cuba, it has no choice but to agree to that one huge restriction, even though it is plain discrimination, of course. Imagine Carnival traveling to a country that insisted only white people be aboard the ship? Or banned Muslims? As I wrote last July, I am in favor of normalized U.S.-Cuba relations, which I think ultimately will benefit the Cuban economy and people. But clearly it is wrong for the Cuban government to not allow folks born in Cuba and exiles in Miami to be aboard those Carnival ships, as we discussed on yesterday's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Dan was particularly passionate on the topic. And there protesters outside Carnival headquarters Tuesday. So, nine months after our first poll, let's repeat the question and compare the vote. Check back often to monitor evolving results.

TWO TEAMS, SIMILAR BLUEPRINT AS HEAT, PANTHERS FORGE PLAYOFF PATH: [Panthers Sasha Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, pictured left, and the Heat's Justise Winslow and Dwyane Wade, right, personify each team's winning blend of experience and youth -- the blueprint that carries each to the playoffs. Click on Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint for the online version of the my latest column] Appreciate the rarity of this first. The Miami Heat and Florida Panthers are about to both enter the playoffs in the same season for only the fifth time since 1993, when hockey joined basketball down here. And South Florida is one of only five markets to have both its teams reach the 2016 postseason, along with Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and Oakland/San Jose. Even more notable is the similar blueprint the Heat and Panthers have shared to find success, with rosters that blend wise and wizened veterans and raw youth. For the Heat it’s a blueprint that is very different from the company norm, showcasing an unusual reliance on young players by a franchise that, from Pat Barkov Wade WinslowRiley on down, Jagrhas never quite trusted youth. For the Cats it’s a blueprint taken to extremes, bookended by 44-year-old leading scorer Jaromir Jagr and by 10 players not even born when Jagr first entered the NHL, such as rising stars Sasha Barkov, 20, and Aaron Ekblad, 19. Both teams’ uncommonly wide gulf between its oldest and youngest players was reflected perfectly Monday in the Panthers’ dressing room following a midday practice. Nick Bjugstad, the Cats center, is 23 but looks even younger. His hand kept drifting absent-mindedly to his chin and rubbing what was there, which isn’t much. He is trying, the poor kid. The NHL postseason is upon us, the fight for the Stanley Cup beginning, and in hockey, the playoff beard is a near-sacred tradition. A wisp of blond whiskers trying bravely to be a goatee and an even wispier sprout on his alabaster cheeks is all Bjugstad can claim for now. "I keep playing with it – it’s more than I’ve ever had!' he is saying after Monday’s midday practice. "It is what it is. But it’s kind of embarrassing." Elsewhere around the dressing room manly playoff beards are in full bloom. It looks like a casting call for a movie about lumberjacks. A media guy trying to be kind tells Bjugstad most of the full-bearded guys probably started growing their facial hair at least a month ago. "So did I," Nick had to admit. The beard thing is the perfect reflection of what the Panthers see when they look in the mirror: A blend of age and youth, of over-35 veterans like Jagr, Roberto Luongo, Brian Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Willie Mitchell, offset by what is perhaps hockey’s premier core of players under 25. It was a risk that relies on aging players still having enough prime left and youthful guys proving ready. It was a chemistry experiment that has worked but might have blown up in the lab. "Our older guys have been so willing," as general manager Dale Tallon told me Monday. "It could have been a disaster." From the 45-minute jaunt from Sunrise down to Miami, from ice to hardwood, Heat veterans like Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and (even sidelined) Chris Bosh similarly mentor a youthful core led by rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, by second-year man Tyler Johnson and by Hassan Whiteside, who is 26 but still learning. "I’m just passing down knowledge," Wade describes the role that doesn’t show up on stat sheets. "All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped." It is a good time to be a fan of both teams, with each franchise locked in win-now mode but also boasting a blossoming young core that suggests a bridge to a promising future beyond the Hall of Fame-bound old guard led by Jagr and Wade. Both teams share justifiably high playoff hopes as the Panthers face the New York Islanders in the first round with Game 1 here Thursday night, while the Heat enter their final two regular-season games still unsure of their seeding, who’ll they’ll face or whether they’ll have home-court advantage. You’d think the Heat might be in happy-to-be-here mode, after missing the playoffs last year and with Bosh out. Yet there is the sense of a wide-open Eastern Conference, and of a real chance to reach the East finals, maybe head-to-head vs. old friend LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. You’d think the Panthers might really be in happy-to-be here mode. They last made the playoffs in 2012 and last won a playoff series in Year of the Rat 1996. Tallon and coach Gerard Gallant both admitted Monday they did not expect to win a division title this year. But hockey’s Eastern Conference also is wide open. An ESPN experts panel by a 9-0 vote picked the Panthers to advance past the Islanders. Washington was the only East team with an appreciably better record than Florida this season, but the Cats were 2-1 against the Capitals, outscoring them 10-5. The idea of a championship run by either the Panthers or especially the Heat is fanciful and not being discussed much in any sober conversation, but, in only their fifth playoffs at the same time, the idea of either team or both reaching their conference finals is tantalizingly plausible. And who knows? If that happens, by then, Nick Bjugstad’s patchwork of whiskers might even pass for a decent beard.

ThedonaldPERFECT! A DONALD TRUMP PORN PARODY!: How great and absolutely fantastic and terrific is this!? I'm so happy I feel like building a giant wall! Just when you think Larry Flynt might be dead, the Hustler impresario rises to produce something fun, like "The Donald," his new Donald Trump "porn parody" video. The photo at right surely whets your appetite and suggests the cinematic gravitas at play here. Click on Trump Porn Parody to read more. The video goes on sale to the public today/Tuesday, available to everyone including Muslims and Mexicans. Trump is the perfect target. I mean, who is more cocksure? Don't worry. Cocksure is a real word, not a dirty word, and describes Trump quite spot-on.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 24, 2016

Which Miami 25-&-under sports star will have greatest career? Poll too close to call. Last chance to vote!; plus Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena's pitch for Miami Open, Melania Trump, Fins on the cheap, your Cuba-trip verdict & more

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

Garagiola1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 24. Purim began at sundown last evening. Happy day to all our Jewish friends. 2) R.I.P. famed baseball broadcaster Joe Garagiola, pictured, at age 90. His was the first TV voice I heard when I was falling love with baseball as a kid. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Other side of the cheering on Cuba visit with poll, disrespecting Canes, Marlins on Jose, Serena's selfie, NCAA bracket update & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

"Rays beat Cuban National Team. Thank you, Tampa Bay, for denying the Castros the added propoganda." --Greg Cote

My latest 'Back In My Day': ICYMI on Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, here it is via ESPN Radio: Click Menus to listen and watch.

BrightfutureBRIGHT FUTURES: WHICH OF SOUTH FLORIDA'S 25-AND-UNDER PRO SPORTS STARS WILL HAVE THE GREATEST CAREER?: We made 25 the arbitrary line of demarcation here, and considered every current Heat, Dolphins, Marlins or Panthers player who was born in March 1991 or later. There were a lot, but we whittled it to a list of the 14 most prominent -- five Panthers and three from each of the other teams. Our poll list is alphabetical, and you may vote for your top three (3). It shouldn't be easy. For me, Jose Fernandez and Sasha Barkov were pretty easy, but the third was not. Jarvis Landry? Justise Winslow? Somebody else? Enough about me. Your turn. By the way, if you think anybody obvious is missing from the poll, I should mention as a preemptive strike that Giancarlo Stanton and Hassan Whiteside were born in 1989 and Ryan Tannehill in '88. They're still young, but too old for our 25U club. OK, ready? Remember, this is a brightest-future poll; try not to make it about which team or sport is your favorite. Vote now and check back frequently to monitor constantly evolving numbers. To decipher a three-vote ballot, triple the percentage of each player's total shown for an estimation of the percentage of ballots that include him in the top three. In other words, Winslow at 23.3 percent (when last I checked) was being included in about 70 percent of all top-threes.

Vote for your top 3:

UnisSWEET 16: NOT ALL AGREE THE HURRICANES ARE LOOKING GOOD: ESPN has one of those silly "Uni Watch" uniform rankings for the Sweet 16 teams, and the Miami Hurricanes's new Adidas duds are ranked only 14th. Ouch. The synopsis reads: "Green, orange and white are such a great color combination. Too bad they're used to such poor effect on the new March Madness uni set that Adidas prepared for the Hurricanes. It's hard to say which is worse -- the orange [or green] shoulder harness or the 'grass skirt' striping on the shorts. A real stinker." OK, then. A Thursday victory from Villanova away from their first Elite Eight appearance, we're thinking UM fans prefer their team continue to be athletically splendid even if its sartorial splendor may be somewhat dubious.

UH OH. IT'S COTE VS. STUGOTZ IN LOCAL MEDIA BRACKET'S FINAL FOUR: Website SliceMiami has been holding NCAA-style brackets in four 16-person "regions" including Media, and I -- the last Herald writer standing -- have vanquished two foes to reach the Final Four, where I will face my 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio mate, the great Stugotz. The other semifinal will pit WQAM's Marc Hochman vs. his 560 stablemate Joe Rose. I think voting in the Final Four round is Thursday and Friday but we'll update you further.xx

SerenaSERENA STANDS UP ELOQUENTLY FOR THE MIAMI OPEN: We know Serena Williams is the best women's tennis player in the world, and has been for much of the past 15 years or so. She's a pretty good writer, too, it turns out. Williams this week penned a piece for the New York Times on why the Miami Open (running now through April 3 on Key Biscayne) is so dear to her and how she'd hate to see it leave, which it could related to a legal battle over improvements to the site. Good for you, Serena! Find her entire essay here.

DOLPHINS ON THE CHEAP: ESPN ranks all 32 teams in terms of current free-agent spending and your Dolphins slot in 22nd with only $11.9 million in guaranteed money given. Dough spent does Abdul-quddusnot always equate with winning, no, but it is a bit disconcerting that division-power New England has spent more than triple ($38.1 mill) what the Dolphins have to get better. ESPN's cynopsis of the Fins' FA expenditure so far: "For the first time in several years, the Dolphins elected to be judicious with their free-agent spending. They spent just $11.9 million in guaranteed money so far, with the biggest guarantee going to safety Isa Abdul-Quddus ($6 million). Big-ticket items haven't produced more victories, so Miami is trying the opposite approach." But just as spending big isn't always smart, being economical doesn't always mean smart spending. For example, Abdul-Quddus (pictured), the big get in terms of guaranteed money, has only 16 starts and two interceptions in 74 career NFL games. Hmm.

Poll result: Most oppose Obama and baseball's visit to Cuba: We asked your reaction and it was 25.3 percent "positive," 54.9% "negative" and 19.8% "mixed emotions or undecided." Interestingly, the negative vote was running only slightly higher (58.5%) in Florida, where a higher percentage of Cuban-Americans reside. Also interesting (at least to me): The "positive" vote enjoyed a plurality when the poll appeared only in my blog, before it hit a broader/different audience when picked up by MiamiHerald.com.

MelaniatrumpTHE MELANIA TRUMP AD: Nasty politics continue on the Republican side of the presidential race. A super-PAC supporting Ted Cruz ran the ad pictured, showing Donald Trump's wife Melania in a GQ photo shoot from 2000, back in her modeling days. The text reads, "Meet Melania Trump: Your Next First Lady. Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz On Tuesday."  The Donald responded on Twitter with a warning for Cruz to be careful or he'll "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife. Me? I have little doubt that Trump is privately not displeased at all with this ad -- with people being reminded how great he must be to have a wife this hot. But here's the bottom line: Will seeing Melania like this make anyone less likely to vote for Donald Trump? For many people, absolutely nothing could possibly make them less likely to vote for Trump.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 09, 2016

On Dolphins' dubious, rocky (and low-graded) start to free agency; plus Marlins' big problem, the week of Erin Andrews and Kim Kardashian, sympathy for Maria Sharapova, your verdict on Peyton Manning, Dollar Bill Murray & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9. Hope all y'all international women had a great International Women's Day. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Peyton's-place-in-history poll, the Wonder of Whiteside quantified, Dolphins trades, Hot Button Top 10, Trump vs. Kramden video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Canes men on deck: Tonight's Florida State-Virginia Tech winner will face the Miami Hurricanes Thursday night in UM's debut in the ACC Tournament.

THE DOLPHINS' DUBIOUS START TO FREE AGENCY: These are the Miami Dolphins we're talking about, so, as disappointment-hardened Dolfans well know, nothing is easy, or simple. Most every move the team makes seems to come with an asterisk, or a "yeah, but." So it is with what has happened this week:

Mario1. Mario Williams for Olivier Vernon is not a smart swap: Williams, pictured, is an accomplished sacker, but he also is 31 and arrives with a reputation for quitting on his team when he feels like it and not being a great teammate. Miami is paying him star money ($17 million over two years) but it would not surprise to see him gone after one season. It would have seemed smarter -- more in keeping with a long-range vision -- to instead commit big bucks at the end position to the imminently departing Vernon, the gifted homegrown sackman and rising talent who's still only 25. /// ESPN's Bill Barnwell, in his free-agency report card, graded the Williams signing a C. He writes, in part: "It's hard to figure out the Dolphins, who seem to stick their finger into the socket, get shocked, and wonder how many of their other fingers can fit inside. Miami's top-heavy, stars-and-replacement talent roster philosophy hasn't worked for years, but instead of getting away from the tactic, the Dolphins are doubling down in 2016. The Dolphins didn't have many other options available, especially once Jason Pierre-Paul agreed to return to New York on a one-year deal, but Williams is 31 and was just run out of Buffalo amidst a cloud of anonymous sources saying derogatory things about his effort level. Would they have been better off locking up Vernon, who is just 25 and had 36 quarterback knockdowns to Williams's 11 in 2015? Or using the money saved by [possibly] cutting Cameron Wake to add much-needed depth around the roster? Do these sorts of questions ever even enter into Miami's thinking during the offseason? Williams should be better as a 4-3 defensive end than he was dropping off the line of scrimmage at times as a 3-4 outside linebacker for Rex Ryan last year, but this is another step in a tired, unsuccessful roster-building model for the Dolphins."

2. That "blockbuster" trade with Eagles is high-priced risk: The Dolphins move down from the No. 8 overall draft pick to No. 13 to acquire cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso from Philly. Hmm. A shoulder issue with Maxwell jeopardized the deal but he is now cleared physically. Still, Miami is adopting his six-year, $63 million contract, very pricey for a journeyman with eight interceptions in 61 games, one who has never made a Pro Bowl and was pretty awful last season. So let's not oversell him. He has yet to prove he is No. 1 corner-caliber. Alonso, only 25, may be worth the risk; he was great as a rookie in '13. "Yeah but": He missed all of 2014 after major knee surgery, and disappointed in his comeback last season. There was a reason both players were available. /// ESPN's Barnwell graded that deal a B+ for Phily and a C- for Miami. He wrote, in part: "It's shocking that the Eagles were able to get anything in a swap for Maxwell's onerous contract. The Dolphins will likely restructure Maxwell's $8.5 million base salary as a signing bonus to create more cap space and sign more free agents, but there's still little upside on this deal. Maxwell was erratic at best in his first year outside of the Seattle cocoon, and at $10 million per year going forward, he'll need to play like a No. 1 cornerback to justify his salary, even with the rising tide of cornerback contracts. Oddly, the Dolphins may get more out of Alonso, who will likely move back to play middle linebacker in a 4-3 after getting lost in Philly's 3-4 look. With one year remaining on Alonso's rookie deal, he offers the best chance of generating surplus value in this deal for Miami."

3. Lamar Miller gone to Houston: The starting running back will sign with the Texans and take handoffs from Brock Osweiler. Miller's departure is not a surprise, but suddenly Ryan Tannehill has nobody proven to hand-off to. Remember my recent column urging the Dolphins to consider signing available RB Matt Forte? Too late. The Stinkin' Jets got him.

Mario's big props to Ross: Dolphins introduced Mario Williams today and he gave big props to owner Stephen Ross when asked what attracted him to Miami. "The direction that the organization wants to go in from top to bottom was huge," he said. "Meeting with the owner, it was really shocking to me. I can say I’ve never been in the room with an NFL owner and it was like talking to somebody who is 30 years old. He was cool to interview with. I want to say he’s 75? I know it was something like that. But to be part of something with someone who has so much enthusiasm, so much energy and passion towards the team, and then it trickles straight down to the last guy."

 Kim ON ERIN ANDREWS AND KIM KARDASHIAN: It may be a first that these two disparate women are in the same sentence or headline -- I feel I may owe an apology for that, Erin -- but I couldn't help notice the jarring juxtaposition this week involving the prominent sports broadcaster Erin Andrews and the famous-for-being-famous Kim Kardashian. One, Andrews, was winning a $55 million jury verdict in her trial against the Nashville Marriott at which she was filmed nude through an altered peephole, the creep who did it then uploading the video to the Internet for millions to watch. She testified tearfully of the devastating, life-altering invasion of her privacy and modesty. The same day as that justified verdict was read, Kardashian, apparently abhorrent to privacy -- the queen of immodesty -- published the bathroom selfie we pass along at right. With Andrews, initially, there was false speculation she'd planned the stunt for publicity. Had Kardashian been the victim of the peephole video, suffice to say the idea would have been far easier to believe.

THE MARLINS' BIG PROBLEM: It's the farm system. The latest example: The rankings of under-21 talent by MiLB.com, the official arm of minor-league baseball. Miami is graded a D. The synopsis: "At first blush, it's a good sign for our purposes that both of the Marlins' top two prospects -- Tyler Kolek and Josh Naylor -- are so young and represent their last two first-rounders. Upon further review, neither is as impressive as he looks on paper. Kolek dropped out of the Top 100 after suffering control issues in his first full season and Naylor was a surprise pick at No. 12 last June. The latter could grow into a prodigious power hitter in time, but for now, that pick remains a head-scratcher. The rest of the system doesn't look like it has any impact Major Leaguers, even among the younger prospects." Elsewhere in the NL East the Braves are graded A-, the Phillies B+ and the Mets B. MiLB.com has only three other teams graded as low or worse than the Marlins for U-21 talent: Tigers also with a D, and Angels and Diamondbacks both with F's.

MariaI FEEL BAD FOR MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sharapova's biggest crime used to be she couldn't beast Serena Williams. Now she  is branded a cheater, a doper, because she tested positive for the banned substance Meldonium. Sponsors including Nike have dropped her. What an overreaction! The drug does not even enhance athletic performance, according to the Latvian scientist who invented it. But it does help protect athletes against heart problems related to extreme physical exercise. Meldonium is a heart medicine that improves blood flow, but was added to the banned-substances list by the World Anti-Doping Agency on Jan. 1. Sharapova said she had been legally using the drug for 10 years for various medical issues, but tested positive just days after it suddenly became illegal. She deserves sympathy or benefit of doubt, not indignant condemnation.

Poll result: Plurality think Manning greatest ever, but much disagreement: We've seldom run a more evenly split blogpoll than the one asking where Peyton Manning ranks among all-time top five greatest quarterbacks. Most, 22.3 percent, said he was No. 1, the best ever. But second-most voters, 19.0%, said he wasn't even in top five. Then it was 17.4% No. 3, 14.6% No. 5, 13.8% No. 2, and 12.9% No. 4.

IF BILL MURRAY HAD DELIVERED THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: Please note I do not approve of the illegal defacing of U.S. currency. Although when the defacing involves Bill Murray's face I think I'm sort of OK with it: 

Murray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Twitter @gregcote