July 08, 2015

Carnival cruises to Cuba and impact on Heat owner Micky Arison: New poll. Vote now!; plus ESPN 'Body' issue poll, Fins seat sale, Pat Riley's motivation, new Dolphins 'n Canes betting odds, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. women reign, ESPN's 'Body,' Marlins All-Stars, LeBatard on 'Ballers,' Hot Button Top 10, Dwyane vs. Jose verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too (with a new 'Scope vid from yesterday's radio show).

Fins seat auction is today: Dolphins today are offering limited number of assembled seats and seatbacks for purchase. Seats were removed during stadium reconstruction. Proceeds from auction will benefit Miami Dolphins Foundation. Single and double seats are available; visit Dolphins.com/seatback to bid or for more info. Seats will be sold to season-ticket holders first (limit two per account) beginning at 11 a.m., then to others starting at 2 p.m., subject to availability.

An ode to Serena Williams: U.S. women's soccer flares across the sky as newly minted champions and deserves the applause, but look to the very pinnacle of American women's sports and who you see is Serena Williams. Click on Miss America for my latest column.

HOW DO HEAT FANS FEEL ABOUT CARNIVAL CRUISING TO CUBA?: Three facts, and how they might collide: Fact 1--Carnival Cruise Lines has won U.S. government approval to begin excursions to Cuba, as 1aa1aarisondetailed in this Miami Herald story. Fact 2--Doral-based Carnival Corporation is chaired by and a huge part of Micky Arison's $7.1 billion net worth. Fact 3--Arison (pictured aboard one of his ships) also owns the Miami Heat, many of whose fans are Cubans who do not approve of the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations because of their anti-Castro feelings. So, the question: Should the Heat owner's primary enterprise doing business with Cuba have a negative impact on how fans view him as a basketball team owner? I say no. I happen to support better relations with Cuba, and cruise traffic there was an inevitability, so Arison is doing smart business. Nor do I believe that all Cubans in South Florida might object; though some surely do. Let's get a rough idea how that breaks down with this pulse-read. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

NARCISSISM ON STEROIDS: ESPN'S ANNUAL 'BODY' ISSUE: Athletes love their bodies because their bodies are what make them rich and famous. Unless they are blowing up their hand misusing fireworks on the Fourth of July, athletes are famous for proudly taking care of their bods. Get all that. What I 1aa1awawrinka 1aa1acoughlindon't get is the comically outsized narcissism reflected in ESPN The Magazine's 'Body' issue, the seventh annual of which is out this week. Like, famous athletes don't get enough figurative exposure so they need the literal kind, too? Like, Bryce Harper doesn't have time to enter the Home Run Derby but he has time to get nekkid for ESPN? It's funny how the line has blurred. A top female athlete posing in Playboy would be lambasted for exploiting her sexuality and setting a bad example for young girls. But that same athlete going au naturale for ESPN is celebrated for being proud of her body. (Pictured left: Tennis player Stan Wawrinka. At right: Swimmer Natalie Coughlin). It's funny to me how ESPN fires a preemptive strike against any criticism that they are promoting only the perfect image of perfect bodies. They do this with the annual token inclusion of imperfect bodies. This year that includes three Colts linemen and a heavy female Olympian. Dear Athletes: Being proud of your bodies fully clothed would be just fine. A little modesty would be something to consider. But I may be wrong. Take a dip in our poll and share your overall view of ESPN's annual 'Body' issue.

RILEY'S REVENGE? HEAT PREZ IS COMING AFTER LEBRON: Last time it was to sign him. This time it's to 1aa1abig2beat him. That's a theory ESPN's Stephen A. Smith espoused on WQAM's Freeman & Fox Show, and it makes some sense. (Riley and LeBron are pictured in happier days). What follows is condensed, because Stephen A. is monumentally verbose: "Pat Riley I believe is coming for LeBron James. I believe Riley would have retired at the end of this [past] season had it not been for LeBron deciding to leave Miami. I think that has lit a fire under Riley we haven’t seen in some time. I think he is hell-bent on returning Miami to its glory and showing LeBron that [leaving was] not the way to go. I think Riley is going to do everything [he can to show] that LeBron made a mistake leaving the Heat. I think that’s a huge motivation." It is. That's why I wrote recently that getting to the Eastern Conference finals and beating Cleveland would be tantamount to an NBA Finals for Miami and almost parade-worthy for Riley and the Heat.

WEIGHING THE FISH (80 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's WTF after 80 games (actually 83 at 35-48; oops again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @70

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                309.1    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   251.0   3

4  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   4

5  Martin Prado              201.5   5

6  Christian Yelich        194.3   7

7  Jacob Realmuto         178.5    6

8  Justin Bour                 165.9   9

9  Ichiro Suzuki              129.9   8

10  Michael Morse           91.6   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 5, Gordon 2.

UPDATED DOLPHINS, HURRICANES BETTING ODDS; KAAYA HONORED: From Bovada, the Packers 1aa1abkaayaare your new Super Bowl favorite at 6-1 odds, with Seahawks displaced to 13-2, followed by Colts 8-1 and Patriots 9-1. Dolphins sit at 33-1, tied for 12th. In college football, latest win over/unders have the Hurricanes at only 6, which I'd call surprisingly low and a bargain play at 'over'. (One reason I think that: QB Brad Kaaya, pictured, who yesterday was named to  the preseason Maxwell Award watch-list). Other state win over/unders: FSU 9.5, Florida 7.5, UCF 7, FIU 5.5, FAU 5 and South Florida 4.

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July 06, 2015

"Let's gooooo States!" The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): U.S. wins World Cup, D.Wade, Jose, Serena, Fins, Chile, Aldridge, cycling, Cats and dogs; plus Marlins All-Stars, 'Body' nude, LeBatard & more


1aa1aflagme1) It is MONDAY, JULY 6. Hope y'all had a safe and fun Fourth of July and long holiday weekend. Happy 239th, America! Pictured is a photo I posted on Instagram of the flag in my yard as fireworks boomed over my neighborhood. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane vs. Jose poll, Confederate fag result & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

Random Evidence: The Sunday notes column: Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes column package.

"Let's gooooo States!" U.S. clubbed Japan 5-2 last night in Canada to convincingly win the Women's World Cup -- USA's third championship and first since 1999. Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and the Americans were favored and delivered, and of course as a ("U-S-A!") journalist I was a perfectly ("U-S-A!") neutral observer. "Let's gooooo States!"

1aa1agymnastESPN 'Body' issue: It's out in the magazine and online, ESPN's annual gratuitous platform allowing naturally narcissistic athletes to be even more narcissistic by showing us that their wonderful athleticism is a tribute to their even more wonderful bodies. Pictured right: Gymnast Aly Raisman, until my editors tell me to take the pic down, which I'm sure they wouldn't since it's, like, you know, all over ESPN.

Marlins All-Stars: All-Star Game starters based on fan voting were announced on ESPN last night, and as expected the Marlins' Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton made it, Gordon leading NL second basemen in voting and Stanton (though he's injured and won't play) finishing second among NL outfielders. The Marlins previously had only two players voted to start the ASG: Gary Sheffield (3B, 1993) and Hanley Ramirez (SS, 2008-10). Reserves will be announced tonight.

LeBatard cameo on 'Ballers': Dan LeBatard had a small speaking role on HBO's Miami-based Ballers series last night, seen wearing a 'Miami' cap, smoking a cigar and asking Dwyane Johnson what his end-game was. I loved his appearance, mostly because now so I can make fun of him on the radio Tuesday.

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

1. SOCCER: U.S. beats Japan, wins Women’s World Cup: Four years ago Japan beat the United States on penalty kicks in the championship match. Last night, the U.S. sought its revenge and resoundingly got it with a 5-2 rout in a WWC final rematch in Canada -- led by Carli Lloyd's three goals. This is where I’d drop in a quick Pearl Harbor reference, but that might be seen as politically incorrect so I'd better not.

1aa1ahotbutton2. HEAT: Wade re-signs with Miami, but for only one year: Huge week for Heat with Luol Deng staying, Goran Dragic signing long-term, Michael Beasley cut, Justise Winslow starring as Heat summer-league team opened play, plus that pointless pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge. But of course the biggest new was Dwyane Wade re-upping. Call  it drama, delayed. Won’t the Heat and Wade be doing this same contract dance a year from now? That’s what a one-year deal gives you. No complaint, though. A starting lineup of Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh, Deng, Dragic and Wade can win. (Had better, anyway!)

3. MARLINS: Fernandez makes winning return after year’s absence: It had been more than a year — 419 days — since Jose Fernandez last pitched before his triumphant comeback Thursday. He improved to 13-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Marlins Park. Isn’t there some way to convince him that every time he pitches it’s a home game? Hypnosis, perhaps?

4. TENNIS: Serena survives scare as Wimbledon, faces sister next: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams seem championship-bound as Wimbledon begins its second week. Serena survived an upset bid by Heather Watson on Friday but must now face sister Venus today/Monday. Meanwhile this was the fourth Wimbledon in a row in which Rafael Nadal has been ousted early and ingloriously. Might be time to bring back the Capri pants.

5. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule: The Dolphins announced their historic 50th anniversary season would begin July 30 with the official start of preseason training camp, two weeks of practices segueing into the first exhibition game. Anniversaries less impressive than the 50th include this being the 42nd season since their last Super Bowl.

6. SOCCER: Chile upset winner in Copa America: Beating Argentina on penalty kicks to win Copa America marked Chile's biggest international title ever. Finally, a message to Brazil and Argentina that South America has other teams, too.

7. NBA: LaMarcus Aldridge to Spurs: San Antonio bags NBA's No. 1 actually-might-leave-his team free agent with power forward Aldridge leaving Portland. Heat's Pat Riley had flown to L.A. to meet with Aldridge, the Godfather's biggest wasted trip since that meeting with LeBron James a year ago.

8. CYCLING: Tour de France gets underway: Still going despite all of its various doping scandals, the latest Tour de Fraud France has begun. It must be so difficult for those cyclists to peddle up mountains while simultaneously providing urine samples.

9. PANTHERS: Cats stage four-day developmental camp: It was for recent draftees and other first-year players and included “team building” activities such as a beach outing and a Marlins game. Hmm. I’d rather my team win but not get along than lose and sing Kumbaya.

10. HOT DOGS: Annual gorging contest held on Coney Island: Answer: I would sooner watch vultures disemboweling maggot-covered carrion in a roadside ditch. Question: Did you watch Saturday’s annual hot dog-eating contest? Dear "competitive eating" fad: You were cute for a while. Go away, please.

Missing the HB10 cut: Golf, Doral standing behind Donald Trump, for now. Dan LeBatard cameo on HBO's Ballers tonight. Strikers lose to Boca Juniors. Brett Favre, 45, says he could still play. ESPN Body issue out today/Monday as our most narcissistic athletes celebrate themselves.

Poll result: Dwyane edges Jose for biggest story: Admittedly it was an apples-and-oranges question that (predictably) caused a smallish response, but we asked it anyway, and Dwyane Wade re-upping with the Heat was judged a bigger story than Jose Fernandez's comeback game by 59.2 percent to 40.8%.

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April 26, 2015

Who has been Dolphins' top Hurricanes draft pick? Poll. Vote now!; plus Sofia V topless, Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Fins draft, hot Fish, NBA, Fraser, May 2, pucks, Cuba, running, Jenner & more


1aa1asofia1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 27. Sofia Vergara topless in the current Vanity Fair. Just because. Click on image for enlarged version. 2) Thanks to MLB Radio Network's Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth for  having me on this morning to talk Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' top low draft-picks poll, Ron Fraser statue, Fins draft, Jose Fernandez citizenship, hybrid animals & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stanton avoiding rundown: Giancarlo Stanton avoiding that tag and sliding back safely to third may have been the key play of the game Sunday in the Marlins' fifth straight win. Click here to see it again. 

On the Dolphins draft: Click on Intrigue At 14 for my latest column, previewing the Dolphins first-round draft options. This is not considered a great NFL Draft overall but could be for Miami.

WHAT HAS BEEN DOLPHINS' BEST UM HURRICANE DRAFT PICK?: First let's admit the pickings are slim. 1aa1acanedol 1aa1adolcaneDolphins have drafted 17 Miami Hurricanes over the years but few have amounted to much. We considered Jay Brophy, Bobby Harden and Randal Hill for this poll but they didn't rise to the level of the three finalists who made it: Tackle Vernon Carey and current Fins Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon. In voting, you must decide if Miller or Vernon already have surpassed Carey's career here or likely will. Whose career (completed or projected) would you take? Vote now and say why.

Latest on Canes in draft: NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah puts out his latest Top 50 prospects list today and Hurricanes are ranked 27th (OT Ereck Flowers), 34th (LB Denzel Perryman) and 47th (WR Phillip Dorsett). Based on likely draft slot he has Perryman ranked too high and Dorsett quite a bit too low. In fact Dorsett to the Dolphins at No. 14 falls into the cone of possibility.

HOT BUTTON APR. 26: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins up 14th Thursday in NFL Draft's first round: Will Miami draft Breshad Perriman or another receiver even though it just signed veteran Greg Jennings? Regardless of position the Dolphins say they want draftees who love football and have heart and great passion for the game. In other words, everything that 2013 No. 1 pick Dion Jordan seems to be lacking.

2. MARLINS: Five straight wins buoy Redmond, Fish: Five straight wins, the last three over Washington to begin nine-game homestand, have saved manager Mike Redmond from the firing line for now. Still, Fish need newly minted U.S. citizen Jose Fernandez back on the mound almost as much as Jeffrey Loria needs patience.

3. NBA: Cavs, Warriors, Wizards advance in lopsided first round: Cleveland and Washington joined Golden State in advancing past first-round with sweeps, and three of five series still in play are lopsided at 3-0 or 3-1 entering Monday's action. "Check  back with me next round, maybe," said Game 7.

1aa1afraser statue4. RON FRASER: Statue of UM baseball icon unveiled: UM dropped two of three at home to FSU,  but bigger news was the Ron Fraser bronze-statue unveiling. Miami Herald considered commissioning a statue in honor of Greg Cote, reconsidered, and settled on a bobblehead.

5. MAY 2: Countdown 6 days 'til sports' mega-doubleheader: Next Saturday we have the Kentucky Derby kicking off horse racing's Triple Crown season and the Mayweather-Pacquaio fight to rival biggest events ever in boxing. I'm calling it "The Greatest Day In Sports History Not Involving A Ball."

6. NHL: Six of eight first-round playoff series decided: Six of eight opening-round series included all four in the West are over. Canada will have two teams (Calgary, Montreal) in the next round in bid to celebrate its first Canadian Stanley Cup win since 1993. "We know it won't happen," said Canada, "but we can dream, eh?"

1aa1acubanba7. NBA/CUBA: Silver admits "oops" on not informing Heat: NBA commish Adam Silver admitted he erred not advising Miami beforehand of league's plans for four-day goodwill trip to Cuba this week. His punishment should be listening to a roomful of Cuban-exile Heat fans share their thoughts on Fidel Castro.

8. BOSTON MARATHON: City and spirit win again: An Ethiopian man and a Kenyan woman won the 119th Boston Marathon, but everybody knows it now. Ever since the 2013 terrorist bombing, it is Boston's resolve and spirit that will always finish first, just ahead of whomever wins the race.

9. RUNNING: Record throng for annual Miami race: Almost 28,000 runners representing almost 900 companies flooded downtown Miami streets for the 30th Mercedes-Benz Corporate 5K Run. For the 30th straight year the race's best time was recorded by some idiot barreling past the runners in a Mercedes.

1aa1abrucej10. BRUCE JENNER: Former Olympic hero reveals he is becoming she: Former Olympic gold-medal decathlete Bruce Jenner officially revealed he is transitioning to a woman, effectively becoming America's new most prominent transgender. Hey nothing lasts forever, Chaz Bono.

Missing the cut: Dolphins regular-season schedule set; Tim Tebow signs with Eagles; Panthers' Aaron Ekblad an NHL rookie-of-year finalist; Cowboys' Greg Hardy suspended 10 games.

Poll result: Thomas, Clayton top Dolphins' all-time late-round draft finds: We gave you our choice of Miami's 12 best draft picks from the fifth round or lower and invited you to pick the top four. Your had it LB Zach Thomas with 25.4 percent, WR Mark Clayton 25.3%, S Jake Scott 16.0% and RB Jim Kiick 7.1%.

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April 14, 2015

It's official. It's over. Heat eliminated from playoff chase by Indy win; plus who should be on Marlins' all-time "Mount Rushmore"? Poll. Vote now!; also Dolphins draft, Jordan Spieth, Lexi Thompson topless, presidential politics, God & more


It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Will have a new 'Back In My Day' segment if I can dream one up. Ears welcome.

1aa1abosh1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 14. Chris Bosh is shown flanked by Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and their significant others during Bosh's recent 31st birthday party. Click on image to see it larger. 2) Rolling Stones fan? Mick and the boys are playing Orlando Citrus Bowl on June 12. 3) Heard Howard Stern's great 90 minutes with Madonna. Stern doesn't get enough credit for being an adroit interviewer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Heat playoff chase, LeBron-sabotage verdict &more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins draft: ESPN and Football Outsiders offers "draft guides" for all 32 NFL teams and you'd find Miami's here. They call cornerback the Fins' greatest need and suggest a trade-down from No. 14 to acquire additional picks is very possible to likely.

Richie incognito seems to be fitting in well with the Bills. Although several players complain that a large teammate they're afraid to identify keeps stealing their lunch money. --Greg Cote

PLAYOFF CHASE: DONE. HEAT ELIMINATED: Heat's 100-93 win over Orlando in home finale last night kept Miami alive, but Heat were eliminated from playoff race tonight by Indiana's 99-95 double-overtime home win over Washington. (Click on You Know How This Ends, Right? for my column from the Heat arena. I wrote that it remained hugely likely Miami would miss the playoffs but that it hardly matters. What does is a brighter future next season with a healthy Chris Bosh, a full year of Goran Dragic and a developing Hassan Whiteside. The frustration here wasn't missing the playoffs but how they were missed: with a late-season collapse that somehow kept Miami from being one of the top eight teams in a really bad conference). Anyway, Boston clinched the No. 7 East and now it's Brooklyn or Indiana for No. 8 as Miami will watch the postseason on TV for first time since 2008.

WHO SHOULD BE ON MARLINS' FRANCHISE "MOUNT RUSHMORE"?: The time-worn "Mount Rushmore" gimmick, the concept that local radio man Marc Hochman is convinced he invented despite it being applied to myriad top-four lists throughout history, is now being done for every team at MLB.com. (Find 1aa1afishmountthe ballot here). Fans are invited to name the "Franchise Four" from eight finalists plus an other/write-in category, with results to be announced during the July All-Star break. The Marlins' final eight presented in our poll is interesting. For me Josh Beckett and Livan Hernandez are dubious picks apparently included because both were World Series MVPs. Not sure about Charles Johnson, either, because of the offensive deficiencies. Obvious omissions? Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez. Maybe Dontrelle Willis? Oh, and some guy named Ricky Nolasco happens to be No. 1 in Marlins all-time starts, innings, strikeouts and victories, that's all. So don't blame me. Our poll is based on the MLB list. Also I have excluded an "other" category because it would be a wasted vote. Let's play the hand we are dealt. By whatever criteria you wish, vote for the top four (4) and say why.

Figuring four-vote ballot results: Any one player's maximum vote would be 25 percent of the total if everyone cast the maximum four votes. Multiply a player's total times four for an idea of the overall percentage of ballots on which that player is being included.

GOLF'S GREAT DAY: Jordan Spieth (pictured) won The Masters on Sunday, but golf and the PGA Tour won, too. 1aa1ajspiethSpieth, 21, seems the real deal, the first young American who could truly be up to the "next Tiger" stuff. Meanwhile young Rory McIlroy (world No. 1 and fourth place Sunday) won't concede anything to Spieth. Golf also benefits from old-timer Phil Mickelson's big Masters and from the fact Tiger Woods also had an encouraging tournament. This is straight out of the PGA Tour's dreams: McIlroy and the American Spieth leading a new vanguard while guys like Mickelson and Woods remains relevant. Quick aside: Spieth is an old-looking 21 thanks largely to the Prince William hairline that will have Jordan endorsing implants by 25.

U.S Open odds: Via Bovada today, Rory McIlroy is an early 11-2 favorite to win golf's next major, the U.S. Open, followed by Jordan Spieth at 7-1 and Tiger Woods at 14-1.

1aa1alexitLEXI THOMPSON OH MY!: Coral Springs-born rising LPGA star Lexi Thompson, 20, poses topless (sort of) on the cover of the current Golf Digest magazine, a towel covering most of what is otherwise uncovered. What's amazing is not that this is daring or groundbreaking (it's neither), but that it is generating a lot of attention. For media and athletes alike, what once was bold is now blase'. Bumper sticker: Honk If You've Appeared Nekkid On a Magazine Cover.



RUBIO, CLINTON: TWO THOUGHTS ON PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Miami's own Marco Rubio announced his presidential candidacy last evening at Freedom Tower. I had two suggestions: Hidden, oscillating 1aa1ahillrubfans to counter Rubio's tendency to sweat like Richard NIxon in a 1960 debate. And no water bottles within 100 feet of him! More seriously, Rubio has an outside nomination shot in a muddled Republican field bereft of a clear frontrunner, although he must overcome the notion that, at 43, it's too soon for him. Damning poll numbers also suggest his support has eroded since he sort of peaked as an "it" guy in 2013. On the Democrat side there is a clear, now-declared frontrunner, but I'll be very interested to see if Hillary Clinton's age -- she'd be 68 on election day -- will emerge as a factor or be a subject considered off-limits.

1aa1abumperCOMBATIVE, COMPETITIVE CHRISTIANS: Pictured is a bumper sticker I saw on an older car while visiting my mother in Vero Beach on Sunday. The message -- I Love God More Than You Do -- struck me as comical, although I don't think it was intended to be.

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April 02, 2015

Who are best athletes of past 20 years? 20 names; you pick top 5. Poll. Vote now!; plus Canes/NIT, Heat/Panthers playoff chase (updated), dead Cats, Ricky Williams' singing debut (w/ video), Marlins, Fins cheerleaders & more


It's Radio Thursday!: My usual Tuesday gig was delayed to Thursday this week so I'll be in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 2. Departed Brian Hartline bought a billboard to thank Dolphins fans. Classy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Final Four polls, Heat/Panthers playoff update, ageless wonders Wade and Jagr, Dolphins draft, Larranaga at NIT, Bieber roast & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Bumper sticker: 'Honk If You're Bored By Pointless, Premature Guesswork On What Teams Might Or Might Not Do In the NFL Draft'.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat holding on, Cats needing miracle. Update entering ThursdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 34-40 (L1), 2 1/2 games from 6th and 0 games (tiebreaker) from 8th with 8 games left (next tonight at Cleveland). Heat playoff likelihood: 74.5% (down 2.0) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 35-42 (L1), 3 points from 9th and 6 points from 8th with 5 games left (next tonight vs. Carolina). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.7% (unchanged) per sportsclubstats.com.

TOP 20 ATHLETES OF PAST 20 YEARS: PUTTING ESPN'S LIST IN RIGHT ORDER: ESPN.com marks its 1aa1atop20 1aa1atop20grath20th anniversary this week not only with a needless website redesign but also by ranking the Top 20 athletes of 1995-2015. All sports, and not just American athletes. You can read the story and see the list here. But I am interested in how your order might differ from ESPN's. In this poll -- the longest one we've ever had in this blog -- I list all 20 athletes, but alphabetically, not in ESPN's order, so as not to prejudice the jury. Please step back to take an historic view. Consider how the athlete dominated his or her sport and stands in its all-time estimation. Vote for your top five (5) and check back often for evolving results as we put a Miami spin on ESPN's order.

Deciphering the vote: In this poll, 20 percent would be a perfect-score vote if everyone voted for the maximum five athletes. Any total over 20% would indicate some are voting for only that person. Multiply an athlete's vote total by five for fair estimation of percentage of ballots that are including that athlete.

CANES-STANFORD FOR N.I.T. TITLE! BUT...: Jim Larranaga's Miami men face Stanford tonight 1aa1acaneshoopsat Madison Square Garden for the NIT championship after beating Temple in the semis. It's nice the Canes reached the final, win or lose. They have made the most of being passed over for the NCAA Tournament. But let's tap the brakes on what this means. Larranaga said a couple of days ago: "I hope our players realize the opportunity they have because whoever cuts down the nets on Thursday night, it's going to be winning a national championship." Hmm. Well... Really? The problem with the NIT is it's so clearly the "other" postseason tournament, the one you are relegated to if you don't get invited to the one you want. It would be great if UM won. An accomplishment, yes. But one worthy of "national champion" talk and a parade? Sorry. No.

1aa1adeadcatCATS DEAD ON ICE: Call it. It's over. This week's blown-lead 3-2 loss at Boston was a season killer for the Florida Panthers (see Playoff Chase above). The Cats are now six points off pace for the final playoff spot with five games left, their chances now negligible. Florida probably must finish on a 5-0 run (all at home, starting tonight) and then hope Boston and Ottawa both crash to even have a small chance. Otherwise this would make it the 17th non-playoff year in 21 franchise seasons. Hasn't been a terrible season by any means. Just not good enough.

Poll result: Kentucky, Duke the Final Four picks: We asked for your Final Four predictions, and you went Kentucky by 67.3 percent over Wisconsin and Duke by 67.5% over Michigan State. Thought both favorites, especially UK, might draw a larger margin.

EX-DOLPHIN RICKY WILLIAMS EMBARKS ON SINGING CAREER: Ever on a mystical journey of self-enlightment, Ricky Williams' latest life detour has led him to a recording studio. Williams, 37, is now barely recognizable after gaining about 85 pounds (see below) since his playing career after being diagnosed with acute munchieitis. And he again is wearing his hair in dreadlocks as he embarks on a musical career. Williams formed a duo he calls P.M. Dawn, explaining that the name stands for Post Miami, "and represents the dawn of a new morning on the beachhead of my life." The duo was signed to Gee Street, a boutique subsidiary of Def Jam Records, and has been recording at Noegnud Studios in northern California. "I don't sing the songs. The songs sing me," said Williams in a recent interview in Vibe. The sound is trippy, R&Bish with a hip-hop flavor. "Williams' sultry, breathy vocals score a touchdown!" raves Billboard in a new review. Williams' first single is called "Looking Through Patient Eyes." The video for it below begins with an introspective Williams seen walking on a beach, his eyes enigmatically covered by a dark lace veil:


GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR MARLINS: The good news? In an ESPN The Magazine survey of MLB 1aa1abb25players, the Marlins finished first with 25 percent to the question, "Which team will be the 2014 Royals?" -- meaning the team that unexpectedly makes the playoffs. The bad news? The Washington Nationals, Miami's NL East roadblock, finished first with 30 percent to the question, "Who will win the World Series?" Update: Marlins are unchanged at 33-1 to win World Series (tied for 16th) in latest Bovada odds. However, the over/under on Miami wins has inched up from 81.5 to 82.5.

 We here at Greg Cote's Random Evidence blog feel duty-bound to keep you abreast of Miami Dolphins cheerleaders news, and so we would note that the troupe recently embarked on a Norwegian cruise to Nassau, St. Maarten and St. Thomas for a photo shoot for their 2016 calendar. Pictured, courtesy the Dolphins: Two artsy photos taken on the cruise. The site of the photo shoot is the latest evidence of the club's concerted effort to grow the Dolphins brand in the Caribbean. Supposedly several cheerleaders got hammered one night on the cruise and crammed nude into a hot tub, to the howling delight of other passengers. NO IT ISN'T TRUE! I totally made that up. That did not actually happen. To our knowledge.

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February 09, 2015

Hot-Seat Index: What Miami coach should be feeling most job pressure? New poll. Vote now!; plus early '15 college football rankings, Marlins uniforms, J-Law's snake & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. This will be my 50th national show, so I'm sure they have a nice surprise planned for me. Balloons? Cake? Stripper? Nothing at all? Ears welcome.

1aa1ahannahdavis1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10. Model, Derek Jeter squeeze and professional sexy person Hannah Davis is the cover girl for the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue now out. So there. 2) I'd like to brag tell you that I shot an 86 over the weekend at Sunrise, featuring seven pars. This, for me, is very good. Then again, my son Christopher shot 78. What a showoff! 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Ndamukong Suh poll result & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Thank you, Knicks: Click on Good Medicine for my column from the arena off last night's Heat victory.

1aa1ahotseatSix teams the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers on the pro side, plus the Miami Hurricanes in football and men's basketball. We offer a quick "State Of" and gauge the current job pressure on those six head coaches, listed by our estimation of most pressure to least:

1aa1ajoepJoe Philbin, Dolphins: High pressure -- Philbin, 53, approaches his fourth season with a three-year mark of 23-25 and no playoffs. Fans are restless and impatience is now justified. A 10-6 season with no playoffs or perhaps even a one-game improvement to 9-7 with no playoffs might spare Philbin, but chances are he must see Miami into the postseason in 2015 or see himself replaced.

1aa1aalgAl Golden, Hurricanes football: High pressure -- Golden, 45, approaches his fifth season with a four-year record of 28-22, including 16-16 in the ACC and 0-2 in bowl games. The NCAA cloud he inherited has bought Golden leeway with administrators, but much less so with an angry, vociferous fan base. Coming off a six-win season, it could take a bounce to 9-4 to save his job.

1aa1agerardgGerard Gallant, Panthers: Medium-high pressure: Gallant, 51, is in the midst of his first season, with Cats currently 23-28 (including 11 overtime losses) and six points off playoff pace. Gallant hadn't head-coached in NHL since 2006-07 before this season, and Florida thought it had a playoff team. Unless he gets there, it could be a quick hook.

1aa1amikerMike Redmond, Marlins: Medium pressure: Redmond, 43, is about to open spring training on his third season, with a two-year record of 139-185 and no playoffs. The team's 15-win improvement last year earned Redmond credit, but now a  much-improved roster (and a mercurial owner) means a playoff berth or a serious run at one will be expected or the hotseat could find Redmond.

1aa1aeriksErik Spoelstra, Heat: Low to no pressure: Spoelstra, 44, is in the midst of his (hard to believe) seventh season, with a mark of 336-191 including six playoffs and two NBA championships. Even at 22-29, fighting for a playoff spot and facing his first losing season, "Spo" continues to be seen as a long-term gem by loyal Pat Riley.

1aa1ajimlJim Larranaga, Hurricanes basketball: Low to no pressure: Larranaga, 65, is in midst of his fourth season with record of 81-44, including 36-26 in ACC. Has one NCAA appearance (Sweet Sixteen, 2013) and one NIT (second round, 2012). Winning ACC title in 2013 was huge, and Canes are now 15-8 and hoping for another March Madness ticket. It's Larranaga's job for as long as he wishes.

Clearly, to me, Philbin and Golden are under the most pressure. But which is under more? Or, you may feel somebody else should be seen as on a hotter seat. Hence, the poll, with our Big Six coaches listed alphabetically. Vote and say why.

1aa1ajlawANOTHER NAKED CELEBRITY ATTEMPTS TO BREAK INTERNET: I enjoy making fun of celebrity and the silly uses of it, such as the wont of so many female celebs to be naked. This time it is Jennifer Lawrence, 24, "J-Law," the actress from Hunger Games, American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook et al. She is au natural but for the unnatural presence of a giant Colombian red-tail boa constrictor posed strategically across her body in the current Vanity Fair. Remember when showing this much skin was risque? Now it's like, yeah, so? I'll throw out a token, "Lucky snake!" and move on.

1aa1afishlogoMARLINS UNIFORMS RANKED 20TH: Bloguin via AOL ranks MLB uniforms 1-30, best to worst. Top three: Cardinals, Yankees, Phillies. Dead last: Padres. Marlins a sort of almost respectable 20th, with the look described as "love it or hate it." (I must say, for me, the Fish's South Beach-y colors took a while to get used to, but I like 'em now).

1aa1aespnsiCOLLEGE FOOTBALL RPI RANKINGS FOR 2015: ESPN Stats & Information does this each year and, before you dismiss it, consider that its top three-ranked teams last year -- FSU, Oregon, Alabama -- all made the initial College Football Playoff. They factor a team's offense, defense and special-teams from previous season, returning starters, head coach and recruiting ranking. The 2015 top three is Ohio State, Alabama and LSU. How state teams fare among 128 schools rated: FSU 21st, Florida 27th, Miami 29th, UCF 73rd, FIU 87th, South Florida 101st and FAU 108th.

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January 22, 2015

"Deflategate" latest hit for beleaguered NFL (with parody video); plus Drew Rosenhaus party-yacht drama is SO Miami!; also, LeBron's game-show, Heat value, Marlins' nemesis & more

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 22. Click here for a gratuitously sexy, totally unnecessary video of Kate Upton doing fun stuff. Just because. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl prediction poll, Mariota vs. Winston & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adeflateNFL's Deflategate mess:
Even if you don't believe the Patriots deflating footballs is a big deal, it is because it's another image-hit for the beleaguered NFL and has hijacked the narrative leading to the Super Bowl. Click on Deflating for today's latest column by me. Postscript: Bill Belichick in a news conference this morning denies any knowledge of the issue, says he did not learn of it until Monday. I'd still expect a penalty (fine and/or forfeited draft pick) but nothing related to the Feb. 1 game vs. Seattle.


LeBron starting game show: Increasingly the former Heat star is becoming an entertainment mogul who plays basketball when time permits. I wish this game-show thing weren't true. But it is. Read about it here.

Sad news. Hassan Whiteside's media annointment as Heat savior, mayor of Miami and NBA It-Guy has been temporarily postponed by this week's ankle injury.

DREW AND LISA ROSENHAUS ARE SO MIAMI!: I love this story not because it involves marital discord -- I wish the couple well -- but because it involves the so-Miami trappings of celebrity, partying, police, a yacht and a 1aa1alisadanbfreeloading playboy millionaire named Dan Bilzerian. (I say freeloading because when your income source is "trust-fund beneficiary," you are mowing through money inherited, not earned). Short story: Bilzerian throws a party here last month during Art Basel, and the dozens of bikini'd young women 1aa1alisa2aboard include Lisa Thomson-Rosenhaus, 28, who had just marked her 1-year annivesary with Miami NFL mega-agent Drew Rosenhaus, 48. Drew and Lisa are pictured left in bliss-ier times. At right, Lisa is the one in the pink bikini at the elbow of the gesturing Bilzerian, who reposted the photo on his Instagram account. Speculation is that's why police were called to casa de Rosenhaus on Sunday in a domestic dispute. Rumors of a pending divorce now swirl. Three quick thoughts: 1) Amazing how money makes Bilzerian and his comical beard look sexy to women who would otherwise not give him the time of day. (Superficial much?) 2) Aside to Lisa: So, so sad, but it may be almost time to retire the Spring Break Party Girl persona. 3) Drew Rosenhaus has never shied from publicity, even the notorious kind, and this latest wave may actually be good for business. After all, this is precisely the kind of drama to which so many potential athlete clients can relate.

1aa1aarisonmHEAT FRANCHISE VALUE SKYROCKETS: Micky Arison is smiling and why not. New annual figures from Forbes estimate the Miami Heat franchise value is now $1.175 billion, ninth in the NBA and up a whopping 53 percent over last year. The caveat? Heat are barely above the league average of $1.1 billion, and below the average one-year increase of 74 percent fueled by new national and local TV deals.

NATIONALS TO MARLINS = PATS TO FINS: As baseball spring training looms, we lament the Marlins' new reality. No matter what they do or how much they improve, somebody in their division always seems to be better. A step ahead. The Dolphins and Dolfans can relate, after 10-plus years in the shadow of the New England Patriots. The Marlins' big-brother nemesis has become the Washington Nationals. Coming off a 96-win season the Nats are the new World Series favorites are 6-1 odds after landing premier free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer. 

Poll result: Patriots to win Super Bowl: We asked, you answered, and 54.6 percent said the Patriots would win the Super Bowl versus 45.4% who predicted a Seahawks repeat.

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January 14, 2015

South Florida's Top 10 most exciting 25-and-younger pro athletes; plus Canes hoops, Miley naked (again, yawn) & more


1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 15. I'm at Friday Page Headquarters today bringing forth my next NFL playoff predictions. Oy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Shame on the Rob Konrad doubters, elevating Urban Meyer, TV's Shameless, AFC/NFC verdicts & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Hurricanes basketball soaring: The Hurricanes men ended Duke's 41-game home winning streak just a few days after the Canes women ended Notre Dame's 30-game road winnning streak. Click on UM Hoops Flying High for my latest column, online and in today's Herald inky pulp editions.

SOUTH FLORIDA'S TOP 10 MOST EXCITING 25-AND-UNDER PRO ATHLETES: Talking about our Big Four professional teams here: Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers. Criteria: Players must be no older than 25 as of today. We tried to combine current proof with emerging potential, and here's what we got. Agree with the order?:

1aa1agstanton1. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins (25 years, 6 months, 2 days): If he's dropping bombs commensurate with his new contract, Stanton (pictured) has a chance to join Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade on the top tier of Miami's greatest team-drafted stars.

2. Jose Fernandez, P, Marlins (22-5-14): Electrifying stuff and a Cy Young contender presuming he comes back all the way from Tommy John surgery.

1aa1ajlandry3. Jarvis Landry, WR/KR, Dolphins (22-1-17): His 84 catches and 1,158 combined kickoff and punt-return yards as a rookie out of LSU just began to scratch the surface for Landry (pictured).

1aa1aaekblad4. Aaron Ekblad, D, Panthers (18-11-7): Just a teen, but Ekblad (pictured) already leads Cats with 19 assists as a rookie and is No. 6-rated among all prospects by NHL.com.

5. Nick Bjugstad, C, Panthers (22-5-28): His new six-year contract refelcted hopes he'll be team's goal-scoring star for a long time.

6. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins (23-1-9): Overshadowed a bit by Stanton's bat and Fernandez's arm, but Yelich could be a solid-hitting fixture in left field for a long time.

7. Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat
(25-7-1): Flavor of the month, for sure, averaging 7.2 points and 6 rebounds off bench in 14 games. We've seen glimpses of greatness and acknowledge the tremendous upside of the 7-footer (pictured), but let's pump the brakes just a tad for now, OK?

8. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins (23-8-20): Ex-Cane rushed for 1,099 yards and a 5.1 average last season to push his way among NFL's top young backs.

9. Aleksander Barkov, C, Panthers (19-4-12): Huge upside for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

10. Shabazz Napier, PG, Heat (23-6-0): A bit of an up and down rookie season, but much potential.

Considered for Top 10 but fell short: Dolphins' Charles Clay, Ju'Wuan James, Jelani Jenkins, Dion Jordan, Mike Pouncey, Dion Sims and Olivier Vernon; Heat's James Ennis and Justin Hamilton; Marlins' Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria and Marcell Ozuna; and Panthers' Jonathan Huberdeau, Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov. Note: Ryan Tannehill is 26 now. Sorry, old man.

1aa1amileycTHEY'VE GONE AND DONE IT. CELEBRITIES HAVE FINALLY SUCCEEDED IN MAKING NUDITY BORING: Now it's singer/provocateur Miley Cyrus appearing nude (in various Polaroids, no less; one is at right) in the V magazine on newsstands Thursday. Miley appearing nude is about as shocking as Elton John shopping at a Versace store. I mean, did you see her video for Wrecking Ball. And now this is supposed to be outrageous? The contrived, packaged free-spiritedness of the Mileys and Gagas and Kim Kardashians has become tiring. Is anything shocking any more?

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November 17, 2014

NASCAR dodged a bullet at Homestead; plus Stanton agrees, Dolphins in (for now) amid NFL tumult, Gary Shelton, Kim Kardashian as a horse & more

1aa1akimk1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17. Have you seen Kim Kardashian's nudies in Paper magazine? Click on image to see her equine version enlarged.  2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall to FSU,CSM poll, Stanton as Marlins' 'A Christmas Carol', Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stanton deal finalized: CBS Sports reporting today (and the Herald verifying) that Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins have agreed upon the 13-year, $325 million extension that first splashed as national news on Friday. It is expected to become official at a news conference Wednesday.  

BIG DAY FOR HARVICK AND HOMESTEAD, BUT NASCAR DODGES A BULLET: It was a big day for Kevin Harvick in his No. 4 Chevrolet on Sunday but a bigger day for 1aa1aharvickNASCAR down at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
(Click on Perfect Finish for my full column from the track). NASCAR dodged a bullet, though, and even as it celebrated the end of its season with a worthy winner in Harvick, flaws in its new Chase for the Cup format were revealed. There was a real possibility that runnerup Ryan Newman might have emerged as NASCAR's season Sprint Cup champion without winning Sunday -- or winning a single race all year. That would have been a first in NACAR's 67-year history. Chairman Brian France said the new system is supposed to put an emphasis on winning races, not points-building consistency, yet two of the Final Four drivers eligible to win it all entered Sunday's race with either zero (Newman) or only one (Denny Hamlin) season win. So tweak the Chase format once again. The Cote Plan: Only drivers who haved won a race entering Homestead are eligible for the season crown. This year that would have meant 15 drivers: Brad KeselowskI (6 wins), Joey Logano (5), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4), Jeff Gordon (4), Harvick (4), Jimmie Johnson (4), Carl Edwards (2), plus eight men with one win. Keep the new elimination format that whittles the field to an eventual Final Four, but start with only race winners.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: DOLPHINS IN (FOR NOW), NFL IN TUMULT: Miami as of this morning would be the 1aa1adol6sixth and final AFC playoff seed ITSET (if the season ended today). The Fins would edge San Diego and Baltimore (both also 6-4) on the tiebreaker for best conference winning percentage. Of more intrigue to me right now is the Super Bowl outlook after a crazy weekend in which SB favorite Denver and reigning champ Seattle both lost. Prediction: When the updated title odds come out Tuesday, the Patriots will be the new No. 1 and the Packers will be second, The formerly favored Broncos will now be third, with the Seahawks fourth and the (league-leading 9-1) Cardinals rounding out the top five.

GARY SHELTON'S NEW VENTURE: My sports-journalism colleague and friend Gary Shelton has left the
1aa1agsheltonTampa Bay Times after a stellar 25-year career; click here for his farewell column. He is now flying solo with a new venture: garysheltonsports.com. I invite you to check it out -- especially if you are from Tampa/St. Pete or interested in those teams, because Gary's is the voice of authority on sports in that area. Also, he's on Twitter @Gary_Shelton. Veteran Miami Herald readers may remember Gary from his time here in 1984-90, when his beats included the Dolphins. He was really good. Still is.

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October 18, 2014

FSU 31, Notre Dame 27: Winston's revenge; plus Royals-Giants World Series poll, NFL Week 7 picks, Chelsea in shower & more

1) It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jameis Winston poll, NFL odds, Rick Scott and the fan, local-leadership results & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Heat, Cats off the schneid: Miami Heat finally won last night (how strange does that sound to say), and so did Florida Panthers. Heat had been 0-4 in preseason. Cats had been 0-3 after an 0-6 preseason.

NO. 2 FLORIDA STATE 31, NO. 5 NOTRE DAME 27: Original post: The Miami Hurricanes may be off this weekend, but UM fans looking for a collball fix have their game right here, and a chance to eyeball an 1aa1andfsuFSU squad that will be visiting Miami Nov. 15. Much sentiment among college football literati that Notre Dame (a 10-point underdog) is primed for an upset in this 8 p.m. game, but I don't see it. The Fighting Irish tend to be Failing Irish against the best. They are 1-16 against top-five opponents since 1999 including eight straight losses, the last seven by 13 or more points. Also this will be the first true road test for ND after four games in 1aa1andtshirtSouth Bend and two at nuetral sites. And FSU has 22 straight victories including 10 in a row in Tally. The wild card that leads to much of the upset supposition is of course all the controversy swirling around Noles QB Jameis Winston. (At left is a "Catholics vs. Criminoles" T-shirt they sell in South Bend mocking Winston's legals issues). But Winston has shown a blinders-on ability to mute the distraction and perform, and his team has something to gain from the turmoil, too. It is called motivation. FSU dropped from the top spot in the AP poll despite not losing, and this game presents a chance to get back to No. 1 and make much more likely a spot in the first College Football Playoff. My pick: Seminoles, 38-31.

Other Collball Week 8 state FBS games:

FAU 45, Western Kentucky 38: Visitors averaged 433 passing yards a game but allowed 38.4 points. Over/under must have looked like a bowling score. Gave Owls a big upset chance and was right. Huge game by dual-threat QB Jacquez Johnson as The Atlantic improves to 3-4. Hooooot! 

No. 25 Marshall 45, FIU 13: Unbeaten Marshall had not scored fewer than 42 points in any game and still hasn't. T-Herd QB Rakeem Cato was tyoo mcuh for FIU as it fell to 3-5, swamped after halftime. Didn't give The Int'l much of a shot, and with good reason.

Missouri 42, Florida 13: Florida and its two-headed quarterback were favored. I wasn't sure why. Mizzou brought pretty good defense, and it seemed the magic has been drained from The Swamp. I see less and less chance for coach Will Muschamp to keep his job. This was a crushing home loss.

Also: South Florida def. Tulsa, 38-30; and UCF def. Tulane, 20-13. Off this week: Miami.

ROYALS-GIANTS LOOKS LIKE EASY CHOICE FOR IMPARTIAL FANS: If you are not a fan of either team --which would be about 98 percent of America -- your World Series rooting interest should be pretty clear 1aa1akcsfwhen the 110th Fall Classic begins Tuesday. It's Giants vs. Lilliputians, David vs. Goliath. The betting odds may say otherwise (slightly), but the Kansas City Royals play the Lovable Underdog to the San Francisco Giants' Darth Vader. KC is in its first World Series -- first postseason at all -- since last winning it all in George Brett's 1985. San Fran has been in the playoffs nine times since then, including World Series wins in 2010 and '12, so recent the clubhouse probably still stinks of champagne. I'll be rooting for the Royals simply because their fans have starved longer. But that's my perspective. Your turn. Which team do you hope wins and why? Notice the poll does not have the answer option, 'I Don't Give a Crap.' Play along, people. If you were watching and you did care, who would you most want to win?

1aa1afripixNFL WEEK 7 PICKS: NO WIN IN WINDY CITY: Mixed start Thursday night as Patriots won but didn't cover. Click on Week 7 Gems for all the rest of our latest prediction capsules. I do not see Dolphins winning at Chicago, although Soldier Field has not exactly been an impenetrable fortress for Da Bears lately. Have winless Jacksonville getting off the schneid in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Click on Murray's Law for my Friday Page NFL column. It's on Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray running counter to the league's escalating pass-first mentality.

Poll result: Mixed verdict, but most say to sit or suspend Jameis Winston: We asked in the previous blogpost (you may still vote) if FSU's star QB should still be playing in wake of several off-field controversies, and it was 61.9 percent no, 35.0% yes and 3.1% undecided. We are duty-bound to point out the obvious: That voters in a MiamiHerald.com blog may include many Hurricanes fans whose team happens to play FSU next month. I'm not sayin' I'm just sayin', you know what I'm sayin'?

1aa1achelseaCHELSEA HANDLER SHOWER SCENE: The Chelsea Lately late-night talk show on E! had a hilarious season-ending episode in which a fully clothred Ellen DeGeneres joins a fully naked Chelsea Handler in the shower. Spoiler alert: Late appearance by a dwarf! (Is it OK to say dwarf. Or is it Little Person?) Warning: Though Chelsea's private-est parts are pixilated, it is very obvious she is actually nude, so if that might offend you, whatever you do, do NOT watch the video by clicking HERE.   

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