May 11, 2018

The Gambler: Adam Gase all in and betting big. My new column; plus Yankees-Red Sox in London poll, latest BIMD (Receipts!), Twitter reach of state's pro teams, Dolphins rookie minicamp, your verdict on our Big Four team inspiring most optimism & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, MAY 11. Mother's Day reminder, fellas. It's Sunday. Remember the one person who gave you that certain lil' gift called life. 2) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Our return from Montreal, Big Four optimism poll, your Dolphins QB-position verdict, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GaseTHE GAMBLER: DOLPHINS' ADAM GASE IS ALL IN AND BETTING BIG: Miami's third-year coach is betting big that lockerroom culture is worth more than Pro Bowl talent. He is all in on Ryan Tannehill (again). He is betting on himself, on his gut feeling and instinct. It could get the Dolphins back in the playoffs. It could cost him his job. I explore all of this in my new column. to read it, click Adam Gase Places His Bets. (My previous column was pegged to Dolphins rookie minicamp happening today and Saturday. All eyes will be on top pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, but all the pressure is on the Dolphins to have made the right choice with him. We explore the franchise's spotty record with picks this high, and why Miami must hit big this time. To read that one, click Burden Is On Team, Not Player It Chose.

LondonAMERICAN LEAGUES EXPORTING GAMES OUTSIDE U.S.: ENOUGH, ALREADY!: The idiom, "the straw that broke the camel's back," arises from a proverb about how a seemingly minor action can cause a large, sudden reaction because of the cumulative effect of the small actions. So: the poor camel can bear the weight of a million straws, but its knees buckle as the million and first straw is added. In the case of my latest column, in an increasing trend in U.S. sports, over the years we have seen 34 regular-season NFL games, 27 in the NBA and 23 in MLB played outside the U.S. -- removed from their home cities and home fans. The straw, for me? This week's announcement that the Yankees and Red Sox -- the single best rivalry in American sports -- will play a two-game series next year in London among eight MLB games in all newly scheduled beyond our borders. Enough! That's my attitude, and to read the column please click Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money. But I have little idea if I'm in the majority or minority on this topic. Hence, this poll! I'm curious, so you tell me. Vote now!

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': RECEIPTS!: Here's the new one that debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio:

Heat TwitterTHE LIST: STATE SPORTS' TWITTER REACH: HEAT IS KING: Twitter followers of the state's 10 biggest pro teams -- NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL plus Major League Soccer. Quick general conclusion? Basketball owns social media. South Florida conclusion: Gulf of Heat/Dolphins popularity over Marlins/Panthers comes clear, in case there were any doubt. And the Heat's lead nearly tripling the second place team is beyond impressive.

Team                            League        Reach

Miami Heat                   NBA             4.73M

Orlando Magic               NBA             1.60M

Miami Dolphins              NFL              983K

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  NFL              758K

Tampa Bay Lightning     NHL              674K

Jacksonville Jaguars     NFL               635K

Tampa Bay Rays            MLB              542K

Orlando City SC            MLS              484K

Florida Panthers           NHL              359K

Miami Marlins               MLB              328K

CatsPOLL RESULT: PANTHERS INSPIRING MOST OPTIMISM AMONG BIG FOUR: We asked, "Which of South Florida's Big Four pro teams is inspiring the most optimism and closest to being really good?" Three had sizable support. The results: Florida Panthers 36.64 percent, Miami Heat 32.82%, Miami Dolphins 24.43% and Miami Marlins 6.11%.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Other recent columns: Taking The Optimism ChallengeThe Dolphins' Misplaced Inattention. Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It SafeA Hope-Crushing Defeat. And In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 07, 2018

Bonjour. Je suis revenu! What South Florida Big 4 pro team is inspiring the most optimism? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus return of 'The 4-Man Outfield,' your verdict on where Dolphins QB situation ranks in AFC East & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MAY 7. Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking Dolphins QB situation in AFC East with poll, your verdict on Dolphins draft, The Godfather (Riley) Speaketh, latest Back In My Day video, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Memont CohenBonjour. Je suis revenu!: Hello. I'm back. My wife and I spent this past Thursday though Sunday in the Mont Royal area of Montreal, Quebec with friends. Toured Notre-Dame Basilica, immersed in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, devoured a famous Moishes steak, had a couple or three Rickard's Reds (pictured) and enjoyed meeting up again with our good friends from Maryland near D.C. Also pictured: A 12-story mural of the late, beloved Canadian writer/singer Leonard Cohen. We and our friends rendezvous a couple of times a year in a random city for a long weekend, a tradition we began a handful of years ago and a great way to stay close with close friends far-flung. Next and 10th stop on our odyssey will be Chicago (I think). Blog note: Hot Button Top 10 had Sunday off but will return May 13.

Big4WHICH OF SO-FLA'S BIG 4 PRO TEAMS IS INSPIRING THE MOST OPTIMISM? NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: I love to run this kind of poll every year or so to get a pulse read on how my community and readers are feeling about their teams. The springboard for the poll is my latest column, which explores how there isn't a ton of outward optimism about any of our teams but that if look a little harder there are reasons for hope with each. Click Taking The Optimism Challenge to read that column. The premise off the poll also is underpinned by my belief that if you call yourself a local sports fan, you likely are at least casually aware of all four teams even if one is your favorite. I also trust you to understand this is NOT a favorite-team poll that wants wishful votes. Please pull the invisible lever for the team whose fans you think honestly should feel the most optimistic right now for being really good and soon. Poll is alphabetical and purposely omits David Beckham's approved Major League Soccer expansion team. This is for teams in play mode, not still in the womb. OK, ready? Vote!

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED)Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Beginning today The 4-Man Outfield will appear every Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .806   23  89   16  25   11   4-1-3      .281

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .768   34 132  24  30   19   7-1-7      .227

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .627   30 128   9  33   19   5-0-2      .258

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .518   32  110  8  18   11    2-0-4     .164

POLL RESULT: DOLPHINS 3RD OF 4 IN AFC EAST FOR QB SITUATION: In a blog poll and also in a poll on our Twitter feed we asked which AFC East team has the best or most enviable quarterback situation moving forward?" And the order was the same in each: 1. Patriots with Tom Brady, 2. Jets with Sam Darnold, 3. Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill and 4. Bills with Josh Allen. The percentages, with blog poll first, then Twitter: Brady (51.63 and 53 percent; Darnold (20.26 and 25%); Tannehill (17.65 and 13%) and Allen 10.46 and 9%).

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Recent Dolphins draft-related columns: The Dolphins' Misplaced Inattention. Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It SafeSolid Contact, No Home Run. And Next Gronk (They Hope) And A Mini-Linebacker.

Recent Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing DefeatEmbiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So MuchNot Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry ThemWhiteside Must Rise Up NowIn Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust. And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 02, 2018

Where does Dolphins' QB situation now rank in the AFC East? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus latest 'Back In My Day' video (Mattresses!), your verdict on Fins draft grade, Godfather Riley's Heat message, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, MAY 2. Good to see you again, May. What's it been, a year? 2) Thrill and surprise the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Grade Dolphins draft poll, Hot Button Top 10, The List (Fins' top drafted TD producers), 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

"The red-hot Marlins... That's it. I just never thought I'd have the chance to say 'the red-hot Marlins' this season, so I'm doing it while can." --Greg Cote

TannyWHERE DOES DOLPHINS' QB SITUATION RANK IN AFC EAST? NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: The Dolphins' stubborn, dubious devotion to quarterback Ryan Tannehill (pictured) and the hesitance to try to draft his successor is the topic of my latest column. You'd click on The Dolphins' Misplaced Inattention to read it. The premise: In the micro view, Miami had a solid draft; Minkah Fitzpatrick will be really good. But in the macro view, still no future plan at QB, which is sort of important. Another theme of the column: Miami has slid to fourth (last) in the AFC East in terms of its quarterback situation moving forward. The Pats' Tom Brady isn't going anywhere, and now the Jets (Sam Darnold) and Bills (Josh Allen) have new first-round QBs on which to pin their hopes. No guarantee either or both will turn out great, but you have to take shots to score. Meanwhile Miami has a turning 30 QB who in six seasons has not proved to be a difference maker and who now is coming off major knee surgery. I'm not sure if most agree with me, though. Hence, this poll! If you neutral, say, a fan of a team outside the AFC East, which f these four QB situations would you prefer for your team moving forward? The poll is alphabetical by team name. Vote!

BPOLL RESULT: MOST LIKED DOLPHINS DRAFT, BUT MUCH DISSENT, TOO: We asked, "What overall grade would you give the Miami Dolphins' 2018 NFL Draft?" Your verdict: 40.26 percent said "B/Above average"; 30.25% said "C/Average"; 15.31% said "A/Excellent"; and 14.18% said "D/Below average." Broken down, that's 55.57% giving it an A or B versus 44.43% giving it a C or D. Bottom line? Call it overall approval, but somewhat muted and not without dissent.

RileyTHE GODFATHER SPEAKETH!: Pat Riley's annual postseason State of the Heat address is seldom boring, and Monday's did not disappoint. The biggest takeaway for me? "We're stuck with Hassan Whiteside, so we're going to make the best of it." OK, those are not Riley's words, they're mine. But that's what I heard. Whiteside's remaining contract and the role he plays in the changing NBA will make it very difficult for Miami to move him in a trade.So this becomes Riley's new 7-foot project. He admitted Whiteside was not mentally or physically prepared for the playoffs. He also spoke of a rift between Whiteside and coach Erik Spoelstra that Riley himself will get involved in mending. Bottom line? Riley hates the side of Whiteside who is moody and selfish -- everything Heat "culture" is not about. But Riley also thinks Whiteside needs to be a 30-minute man, not the disappearing giant he's become. Stay tuned.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': MATTRESSES!: This debuted during yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. It is one of my personal favorites. I think I've done around 115 or so BIMDs since the bit debuted in 2014. For me, this might be all-time top 10:

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED)Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and constantly updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Wednesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .768   19  73   14  20    9    2-1-2      .274

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .713   29 117  20  26   15   5-1-5      .222

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .607   26 112   9  28   17   4-0-2      .250

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .502   28  98    7  16    9    2-0-3      .163

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Our other recent Dolphins-draft columns: Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It SafeSolid Contact, No Home Run. And Next Gronk (They Hope) And A Mini-Linebacker.

Our recent Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing DefeatEmbiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much. Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry ThemWhiteside Must Rise Up NowIn Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust. And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 30, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what's No. 1 (well, no duh) and what else slots where; plus Grade-the-Dolphins-draft poll (last day to vote!), The List (Fins all-time drafted TD producers), 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 30. Fairwell, April. 2) The accuser isn't always right. I believe Tom Brokaw. 3) Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins pick-by-pick draft analysis and poll, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our Dolphins draft columns: Main column on first round: Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It Safe. Quick-take short columns: Solid Contact, No Home Run and Next Gronk (They Hope) And A Mini-Linebacker.

DolsGRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT! ANNUAL POLL. VOTE NOW: I know, we all hate instant analysis, right? And yet we all have instant opinions. An instant gut feeling on how much we like (or don't like, or somewhere in between) our team's draft. So this isn't science. We all might feel differently in a year or so. This is just a pulse read now on how Dolfans are feeling about Miami's '18 draft. I'd base my vote on the quality of players drafted and on how they addressed needs. But your criteria is your own. Does the Dolphins' haul leave you happy? Disappointed? What? Poll purposely does not include an 'F' grade because, well, come on. Vote now!

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Alabama safety Fitzpatrick lead Fins draft haul: Miami imported eight new players over three days, led by versatile 'Bama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, whom Fins will use as free safety. Oddity: Two tight ends among first four picks. Surprise: Didn't draft either of two need positions: Quarterback or defensive tackle. Could have moved up in first round for their future QB, but stood pat. Fitzpatrick's really good, but this draft was a step, not a leap.

2. NFL: Quarterback drama, Griffin win the weekend: Baker Mayfield going No. 1 overall and Josh Allen slipping after some Dumb Teen Tweets led the Day 1 drama in the NFL Draft. But by Day 3 the draft's heart was stolen by one-handed UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin being signed by the Seahawks. UCF claiming to be national champion? Not real. Griffin as an inspiration to anybody who's been told no-you-can't? Real.

3. HEAT: Early-ousted Miami plots path forward: The Godfather Pat Riley takes the throne today for his annual postseason State of the Heat address to gathered local media. Riles will be as eloquent as always, spewing perfect soundbites and filling up notebooks. But will he have an answer for the one overarching question: How does a team that just got bounced 4-1 in the first round bridge the enormous gulf between low playoff seed and championship contender?

4. NBA: LeBron's monster show carries Cavs in Game 7: It was LeBron James with 45 on the home wood for Cleveland in a 105-101 Game 7 ousting of Indiana on Sunday to close the first round, after Philadelphia, Toronto and Boston previously advanced in the East. Out West, second round already underway with Golden State-New Orleans and Houston-Utah. Conference finals? Nothing stops Golden State vs. Houston, but the final two in East is anybody's guess.

5. MARLINS: Signs of life for the flopping Fish: The Fire-Sale Fish still are only 9-18 but have won four of their past five games as the Phillies come to town for three starting tonight. Marlins can't hit, but the pitching actually has been mostly solid lately. Miami prevailed the other day when Wei-Yin "Disabled List" Chen won in his first start in nearly a full year. OK, so his work is done! 

6. NHL: Conference semifinals underway: Boston leads Tampa Bay 1-0 and PIttsburgh and Washington are 1-1 in the East. In the West Winnipeg-Nashville and Vegas-San Jose both are knotted 1-1. For me the best storylines are out West, where Vegas is trying to win a Stanley Cup as a first-year expansion team and Winnipeg is aiming to bring the Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993, eh!

7. PANTHERS: Cats don't get lucky in draft lottery: The order for the June 22-23 NHL Draft was determined Saturday and the Florida Panthers, who narrowly missed the playoffs despite a pretty solid 96-point season, shook out at No. 15 overall, a mid-pack, meh result. This draft is seen as eight dynamic talents and then a dropoff, so barring a major tradeup by Cats, don't expect another Sasha Barkov in this summer's haul.

8. HORSE RACING: Countdown 5 days 'til Kentucky Derby: Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown season leaves the gate this coming Saturday at Churchill Downs, where Justify was a 2-1 betting favorite when last we checked. Unfortunately, the horse Gronkowski -- yes, named after the Patriots star, who has a small ownership stake -- will miss the Derby after spiking a fever. Two legs or four, health always an issue with those darn Gronkowskis!

9. SOCCER: Liverpool, Real Madrid in charge in Champs League: The UEFA Champions League is nearing its championship matchup. In the second leg of semifinals, Real Madrid is up one goal on Bayern Munich heading into their Tuesday match, while Liverpool is a big plus-three on Roma in the other semi on Wednesday. It was a miracle Roma got this far. Do they have another astonishment in them?

10. UM BASEBALL: Sad-season Canes avoid sweep at FSU: The stunningly woeful UM baseball team improved to 18-25 with a Sunday win at No. 14 Florida State to avoid being swept. It will take a miracle for Jim Morris to put a smile at the end of his final season as coach. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Missing the HB10 cut is taking this Sunday off to go sailing on Biscayne Bay.

THE LIST: BIGGEST TD-PRODUCERS EVER DRAFTED BY DOLPHINS: By passing, rushing and receiving, here are the players drafted by the Miami Dolphins who have produced at least 50 career touchdowns in the NFL:

RK  Player, Pos.                             Rd-Yr Drafted   TDs  As Dolphin

1    Dan Marino, QB                        1st - 1983        429      429

2    Bob Griese, QB                         1st - 1967        199      199

3    Joe Theismann, QB                   4th - 1971       177          0

4    Ryan Tannehill, QB                    1st - 2012       112+     112+

5    Bill Kenney, QB                         12th - 1978      110         0

6    Scott Mitchell, QB                      4th - 1990       106       12

7    Mark Clayton, WR                      8th - 1983        85        82

8    Nat Moore, WR                          3rd - 1974        75        75

9    Larry Csonka, RB                       1st - 1968         68       57

10  Chad Henne, QB                        2nd - 2008        61+     33

The five other 50-plus guys: David Woodley (60), Mark Duper (59), Chris Chambers (58), Anthony Carter (57) and Freddie Solomon (52). Former Dolphin Jarvis Landry, with 23 TDs at age 25, has chance to join list.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': STANTON OVERTAKES LEADThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and constantly updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Monday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .763   27 109  20  26   15   5-1-5      .239

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .762   17  65   11  17    9    2-1-2      .262

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .601   25 108   8  27   17   3-0-2      .250

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .513   26  92    7  15    8    2-0-3      .163

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Our six-pack of recent Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry ThemWhiteside Must Rise Up NowIn Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust and The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 25, 2018

The annual Dolphins Draft Poll: What position do you hope Miami targets in first round? Vote now!; plus Heat's done. Wade, too? Your verdict and my thoughts; also, new Back In My Day video, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25. Final score from last night's Marlins game: Bryant Gumbel 1, Derek Jeter 0. 2) Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a book!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat eliminated in Game 5, NFL Draft's top 10 state-college prospects, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

WadeDID HEAT ELIMINATION MEAN WADE'S DONE, TOO? YOUR THOUGHTS, AND MINE: Miami bounced in first round of playoffs 4-1 by Philly, meaning a lots-to-think-about, lots-to-do offseason for Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra as they try to elevate a pretty good team into one that can compete beyond the current low-seed/quick-exit status. The more emotional question arising from Tuesday night's loss: Have we seen the last of Dwyane Wade? Will he retire or return for another season? Do not expect a decision to be made public for a few months, until well into summer. In a poll on my Twitter site well over 3,000 have voted and it was running 55 percent he'll be back to 45% he'll retire. Close. You may still voice your opinion; poll is open until around 10 tonight. Go HERE to vote. I tend to agree with what the voting thus far suggests. I don't think his return is foregone, but I think it is likely. A farewell season in 2018-19, then the sunset. We'll see. Either way, D.Wade's legacy is secure. First-ballot Hall of Famer, three-time champion and on a two-man Mount Rushmore with Dan Marino -- and in my mind just above him -- as the most important athlete in South Florida pro sports history. 

Our six-pack of Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (off Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

WarroomTHE MIAMI DOLPHINS PRE-DRAFT POLL: VOTE NOW!: I will have my annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft and a related video online later today, so Dolhelyou'll know soon where I think the Dolphins are headed with their first round pick, scheduled 11th overall. Pictured: Fins VP of football ops Mike Tannenbaum and owner Stephen Ross will be two of the men in the "War Room" Thursday night shaping that selection. But first it's your turn in our annual Dolphins pre-draft poll. There are no names below (too many possibilities and variables), but positions instead. This allows you to name what you think is Miami's most pressing need meriting first-round attention. For me its quarterback or just about anywhere on defense. But this is your poll. Vote, obviously, as if there will be a qualified candidate available at No. 11 at the position you choose. Ready? Vote!

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY' VIDEO: OLD MOVIE THEATERS!: From yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews, an ode to the old-timey theater experience of marquees, Milk Duds and red velvet curtain. Starts about 40 seconds in, after a Stephen A. Smith rant about birthdays:

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Tuesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .939   12  47   10  15    8    2-1-2      .319

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .745   22  89   15  19   14   3-1-5      .213

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .581   20  86    8  20   11   2-0-2      .233

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .484   22  80    6  12    7    1-0-3      .150

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Schedule Not Daunting, So No More ExcusesBuy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Welcome Home, D.Wade / Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 24, 2018

G5: @Philadelphia 104, Heat 91: Miami eliminated from playoffs. Was that Wade's final game? Poll. Vote now; plus top 10 state-college NFL Draft prospects and every Cane; also, Radio Tuesday, 4-Man Outfield updated & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, APRIL 24. Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a book!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot  Button Top 10, Heat-on-the-brink column, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Heat eliminated. Was that Dwyane Wade's final game?: New poll on our Twitter feed. Go HERE to vote now.

G5: @PHILADELPHIA 104, HEAT 91: IT'S OVER: Original post: It has been done once before. Only once. It was 21 seasons ago, in 1997. That was the only time the Miami Heat Mustwin Dwadehave been down 3-1 in a playoff series and won three straight games to advance. It was vs. the Knicks in the second round. It was Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning vs. Patrick Ewing and G5Allan Houston. But two of those three straight wins were at Miami. This time the climb is steeper. The Heat trails Philadelphia 3-1 entering Game 5 tonight up there, and this time the three straight Miami must win to stay alive would include two in Philly -- tonight and a Game 7, sandwiched around one more in Miami if the Heat prevail tonight. This is the Heat's 20th postseason appearance in 30 franchise years, and (barring a history-making comeback) would be Miami's 10th first-round exit -- but first since 2010, the season before LeBron James' arrival. This would be the third first-round exit under Erik Spoelstra (2010, '09). There were five on Pat Riley's watch (2007, '01, '99, '98 and '96) and two under Kevin Loughery (1994, 92). Can the Heat avoid joining that dubious list of first-round exits? A better question: Do you believe in miracles? I do not believe the Heat will live to play another home game this spring. I think it ends tonight.  

Our six-pack of Heat playoff-run columns thus far: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (off Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

DerwinjamesNFL DRAFT: TOP 10 STATE-COLLEGE PROSPECTS AND ALL CANES: The NFL Draft this Thursday through Saturday finds most South Florida interest riveted on the whom the Dolphins will select -- especially with their first-round pick slotted 11th overall. (I'll have my annual mock draft out later in the week). But there is also interest in state-college players who'll be drafted, and here is the list of the top 10 prospects based on ESPN's player rankings. Only the first three players listed are judged likely to be first-round picks, with top-ranked Derwin James pictured right. No Miami Hurricanes are close to first-round status. Only one Cane (barely) makes the state top 10, but we've listed all of the other draft-eligible Canes beneath the top 10:

Player, Pos., School                           Overall   Grade

1. Derwin James, S, FSU                       7th       93

2. Mike Hughes, CB, UCF                     17th       90

3. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida                 18th       90

4. Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida        74th       78

5. Josh Sweat, DE, FSU                       81st       76

6. Duke Dawson, CB, Florida               88th       73

7. Derrick Nnadi, DT, FSU                    93rd      72

8. Deadrin Senat, DT, South Florida    104th      70

9. Jordan Akins, TE, UCF                   123rd      66

10. Chris Herndon, TE, Miami            127th      65

Other Hurricanes: DT RJ McIntosh 129th/65; RB Mark Walton 136th/62; DE Chad Thomas 148th/59; WR Braxton Berrios 192nd/51; DT Kendrick Norton 230th/44 and OG KC McDermott 260th/39.

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON AT .145: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Tuesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers      1.000   11  42   10  14    8    2-1-2      .333

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .778   21  85   14  19   14   3-1-5      .224

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .616   19  81    8  20   11   2-0-2      .247

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .470   21  76    6  11    7    0-0-3      .145

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Schedule Not Daunting, So No More ExcusesBuy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Welcome Home, D.Wade / Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 23, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Who won the tight battle for No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Heat's hope-crushing defeat (with column), 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 23. Eagles and Jimmy Buffett put on a great show at The Rock on Saturday. Vince Gill played with the Eagles and was fantastic. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Sixers Game 4, analyzing Dolphins schedule, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

The violent swing of a physical series: My Heat Game 4 column: This was the 76ers coach after Saturday's game: "I'm shocked we won this game. We didn't really have a right." The Heat's 106-102 loss for a 3-1 series disadvantage could not have been more demoralizing. Miami did so much right. Philly did so much wrong. And yet the Heat let what should have been a faith-restoring, series-evening victory slip away late. Again. My column: A Hope-Crushing Defeat. Our previous Heat playoff-run columns: Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much / Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Crushing Game 4 loss has Miami on the brink: Saturday's 106-102 Game 4 home loss by Miami made it a 3-1 series that Philly can clinch at home on Tuesday. How in hell did the Heat manage to lose that game? How on earth did the Sixers somehow win!? Soon, there will be a long offseason to ponder the questions. Short answer: The 76ers are better. As for my series prediction -- Heat in six games -- I plead temporary insanity. Although "temporary" may be open to debate.

2. DOLPHINS: Finally! It's NFL Draft Week: The regular-season schedule came out, and it isn't daunting enough to be an excuse for more Fins losing. Meanwhile, finally, it's draft week, with the first round this Thursday night kicking off the three-day event. You've read a thousand mock drafts (mine is yet to come) and still have no idea what the Dolphins will do with the 11th overall pick. It's OK. Neither do I. The real question: Do the Dolphins even know?

3. SOCCER: Quartet of giants at Hard Rock this summer: The International Champions Cup returns to The Rock this summer with a massive doubleheader: Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich on July 28, and Manchester United vs. Real Madrid on July 31. Both games should sell out, just like last summer’s El Clasico Miami did with Real Madrid and Barcelona. Miami and Hard Rock alway gets the best ICC matches. No mystery. "I own the event," as Dolphins and stadium owner Stephen Ross points out.

4. MARLINS: Jeter tries to defend the indefensible: Fire-Sale Fish owner Derek Jeter made the  mistake of going on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel for an interview that airs Tuesday. It got contentious. Jeter called Gumbel mentally weak and at one point said, "Tanking? What is tanking?" Well, since he asked! Dear Derek: Tanking is trading away your best players in a payroll slash, even knowing it would leave you with a non-competitive team. Marlins' current record: 5-16. Or 5-17, if you count Jeter's loss to Gumble.

5. NBA: Pelicans first through, LeBron sweating: New Orleans swept Portland to be the first team onto the playoffs' second round, while Golden State and Philadelphia are one win away from advancing. Three series are deadlocked 2-2 including, surprising, Cavs-Pacers in the wide-open East. LeBron James struggling to get past the first round? Well, if the Heat don't advance, isn't that about the best South Florida can hope for?

6. HURRICANES: UM football puts a bow on spring practice: Mark Richt wrapped up a month's offseason work, and spring practice ended with it looking as if Malik Rosier would enter the fall still as the team's starting quarterback. The questions fans are left to ponder: Is that a good thing?

7. NHL: Six teams advance, two close: Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, San Jose, expansion Las Vegas, Pittsburgh and Nashville are on to the next round in the Stanley Cup playoffs, while Boston and Washington are up 3-2 and try to clinch on road ice tonight. Winnipeg is the last hope to end Canada's four-decade Stanley Cup drought. But don't get your hopes up, eh?

8. SOCCER: UEFA Champions League semifinal on deck: It's Liverpool vs. Roma and Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid in the first leg of the semifinals this Tuesday and Wednesday, with the second leg on May 1-2. You partial to Cinderellas? Roma's your team.

9. UM BASEBALL: It isn't getting any better, folks: Dropping two out of three at Pitt, Canes baseball is now 17-22, with the chances to climb above .500 slipping away. A sad way for coach Jim Morris to go out after such a long and stellar career at UM. 

10. POWERBOATS: Miami Marine Stadium comes alive!: There was powerboat racing at Miami Marine Stadium this weekend for the first time in 26 years with the P1 Miami Grand Prix of the Sea. It's history making, by which I mean this is the first-ever appearance of powerboat racing in the Hot Button Top 10.

Missing the HB10 cut: UCF football unveiled a "2017 National Champions" sign at its stadium. Um, should we tell them, or let them continue in their harmless delusion? ..... Packers QB Aaron Rodgers bought a small share of the Milwaukee Bucks. His advice to the team: More passing! ..... UM held its 50th annual Sports Hall of Fame banquet. honoring a nine-person class led by new Dolphin Frank Gore. The number of people in the UM hall now exceeds the population of half the countries in the world ..... Five years after the Boston Marathon bombing, an American woman won the race for the first time since 1985. "U-S-A!" ..... Condolences to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on the death of wife Erin.

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': ALL BUT ONE STRUGGLING: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Monday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers      1.000   11  42   10  14    8    2-1-2      .333

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .678   20  81   11  15   12   3-1-4      .185

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .616   19  81    8  20   11   2-0-2      .247

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .479   20  73    6  11    7    0-0-3      .151

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: On Dolphins schedule: Schedule Not Daunting, So No More Excuses. Also: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 21, 2018

G4: Philadelphia 106, @Heat 102: Miami squanders lead, sees series hope fritter away; plus Dolphins' 2018 schedule not daunting, so no more excuses!; also, 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

Meshirt1) It's SATURDAY, APRIL 21. It's Record Store Day! Explore an indie shop near you. That's me on the right flying the flag of my local haunt. Get your groove on. Vinyl's back, Jack! 2) Best wishes to longtime colleague and fellow columnist Dave George, who retired this week after 40 years at the Palm Beach Post. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Sixers Game 3, your Whiteside verdict (uh oh), Dolphins draft/schedule, MLB Top 50, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

My Heat Game 4 column: Click on A Hope-Crushing Defeat to read.

Column on Dolphins schedule offering no excuses: Click Schedule Not Daunting, So No More Excuses for my latest column. With Ryan Tannehill back, an offseason of changes that (they think) made them better, and a schedule that is less than daunting, the Fins are out of excuses to not win in 2018.

G4: PHILADELPHIA @ HEAT: SPO ON THE SPOT TODAY IN (REALISTICALLY) A MUST-WIN: I hate saying "must win" casually, when it isn't that literally, but today is everything but for the Heat, Embiidtrailing the Sixers 2-1 in this best-of-seven playoff series. Another loss would leave Miami having to win three games in a row -- two of them in Philly. Even a win today still leaves the Heat G4disadvantaged, but at least with a fair shot and the assurance of another home game. I say "Spo on the spot" in the headline here because coach Erik Spoelstra must find a way to neutralize the 76ers' clear advantage in overall talent. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the best players in this series, and both so young and athletic. Who can stop Embiid (pictured), the the masked marvel? Spo must find a way to do that, to get Hassan Whiteside involved offensively, which he has been unable to do thus far, and he also must find a way to create much better perimeter defense, considering Philly has sunk 18 three-pointers in both its series wins. All of the pressure is on the home team today. Let's see how they handle it.

Our Heat playoff-run columns: On Thursday's Game 3 home loss: Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much. Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

RtDOLPHINS SCHEDULE SOFT ENOUGH TO WIPE AWAY ALL THE EXCUSES: [Note: An expanded version of this blogpost on Dolphins schedule appears as an online column linked immediately above]. You know what I see when I look at the Miami Dolphins' newly minted 2018 regular-season schedule? I see a last chance for the regime of VP Mike Tannenbaum, GM Chris Grier and coach Adam Gase. At least that's how they should see it. Like an opportunity they should seize as if their Dolphins futures depended on it. This is a schedule that affords a chance for last year's 6-10 team to improve by a few games and be in the playoff hunt. The return of quarterback Ryan Tannehill (pictured) only underlines the notion that there will be no excuses for Miami in 2018. After the season opener, the Fins play nine of their next 10 games against teams not in the playoffs last year. There is a real shot to be in solid postseason shape entering December -- and they'd better be, because the schedule finishes tough. With all but one game at 1 p.m. on a Sunday, our game by game synopsis/outlook, with AFC East games in bold:

G1: Vs. Tennessee Sept. 9 -- Titans made playoffs at 9-7 last year but Dolphins beat them here (16-10) and get home-opener boost. Win likelihood solid.

G2: @ N.Y. Jets Sept. 16 -- Rivals were 5-11 last year but teams split games. Always tough roadie for Miami. Win likelihood fair.

G3: Vs. Oakland Sept. 23 -- Raiders were disappointing 6-10 in '17 but edged Miami 27-24 here. Payback? Win likelihood solid.

G4: @ New England Sept. 30 -- Big Daddy Pats were 13-3, reached Super Bowl. Assuming Tom Brady doesn't retire, the Danny Amendola Bowl might not go well. Miami last won in Foxborough in 2008. Win likelihood slim.

G5: @ Cincinnati Oct. 7 -- Bengals were 7-9 and missed playoffs, but Fins lost last trip to Cincy in '16. Win likelihood fair.

G6: Vs. Chicago Oct. 14 -- Bears were 5-11. If Miami has a playoff prayer, this one better be in the bank. Win likelihood solid.

G7: Vs. Detroit Oct. 21 -- Lions were 9-7 but missed postseason. Another key game a playoff team must take. Win likelihood fair.

G8: @ Houston Oct. 25 -- Texans were 4-12 but will have Deshaun Watson back a huge difference. And this is the Thursday night road game every traveling team hates. Win likelihood slim.

G9: Vs. N.Y. Jets Nov. 4 -- If you can't beat the Stinkin' Jets at home, can you say you deserve the playoffs? Win likelihood solid.

G10: @ Green Bay Nov. 11 -- Pack was 7-9 and missed playoffs. Aaron Rodgers, but what else? Tough venue, though. Win likelihood fair. 

Bye Week. Late. But well-timed for a big closing push?

G11: @ Indianapolis Nov. 25 -- Colts were 4-12 but should have Andrew Luck back for the Frank Gore Bowl. Win likelihood solid. 

G12: Vs. Buffalo Dec. 2 -- This begins the schedules' tough closing stretch. Bills were 9-7 and made playoffs, and swept Miami (both close) last year. Win likelihood fair.

G13: Vs. New England Dec. 9 -- Well, Dolphins beat Pats at home last year, so... Win likelihood fair.

G14: @ Minnesota Dec. 16 -- Vikings were 13-3. Tough roadie. Win likelihood slim. 

G15: Vs. Jacksonville Dec. 23 -- Jags were 10-6 and made playoffs, but it's here, and it's still Blake Bortles. Win likelihood fair.

G16: @ Buffalo Dec. 30 -- Weather a likely big factor. Tough finish if this is for a playoff spot. Win likelihood slim.

ESPN forecasts a two-game bump to 8-8 for Miami. I have it as five "solid" wins, seven "fair" shots and four "slim" chances. By that reckoning, if Fins go 4-3 in those seven teetering games, that's 9-7 and a (likely) wild-card spot. In any case: No More Excuses!

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Brinson has been struggling mightily but came alive with two homers Thursday (his first extra-base hits all years) to raise his OPS from .316 to .456. The latest, entering Saturday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       1.076   9  34    9  13    6    2-1-1      .382

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .740   18  73   10  15   12   3-1-4      .205

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .622   18  77    7  19   11   2-0-2      .247

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .442   18  66    5  10    4    0-0-2      .152

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 19, 2018

G3: Philadelphia 128, @ Heat 108: Embiid shows up, Whiteside doesn't, and Miami down 2-1. With my column from the arena; plus poll verdict in on Whiteside (ouch!); also, Dolphins draft/schedule, Top 50 MLB players, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, APRIL 19. Condolences to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and family on the death of his wife, Erin, 67, following a long illness. 2) Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the podcast of this week's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade rescues Heat, Whiteside poll, Marlins 29th of 30 in 'legendary,' 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW: COLUMN ON HEAT'S GAME 3 LOSS: Click Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much for my column from the arena on Thursday night's 128-108 Game 3 loss creating a 2-1 series hole entering Saturday's Game 4 here.

G3: PHILADELPHIA @ HEAT: GOOD THAT WADE HAS THAT LEFT IN HIM. BETTER IF MIAMI ISN'T COUNTING ON IT: Heat-Sixers NBA first-round playoff series locked 1-1 entering Game 3 back Hwhitesideat the downtown bayside arena tonight -- Miami's first home playoff game in two years. Philly super-center Joel Embiid being called "doubtful" to play tonight, meaning he might but probably G3won't. Pretty clearly, the 76ers will need Embiid to challenge for the East crown, but think they can get by without him now and beat Miami anyway. Up to the Heat to prove otherwise. Dwyane Wade carried the Heat off the bench with 28 points in Game 2. As I explore in my latest column (link below), Miami should not rely on its 36-year-old icon to ave the day. Wade at this point in his career should be more luxuruy than necessity. Others must step up, led by Hassan Whiteside (pictured) and Goran Dragic and the bench. Only James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk have distinguished themselves in this series beyond Wade's Game 2. Miami stripped away Philly's home-court advantage but I still consider Sixers the series favorite. Both sides need a win tonight very badly, the beauty of a seven-game series. Our four Heat playoff-run columns thus far:

(*) New: It's good Wade can still do that, but better if they don't need him to: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them.

(*) His Heat future is wavering, and two quiet games haven't helped: Whiteside Must Rise Up Now.

(*) With Wade at the hub, Heat keep giving us reasons to care: In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust.

(*) And my series prediction, which Wade pulled from the gutter: The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

POLL RESULT: VERDICT IN ON WHITESIDE (SORRY, HASSAN...): We asked, "What best reflects your opinion of the Heat's Hassan Whiteside?", and of four choices, a majority of 58.53 percent answered, "He's big disappointment relative to salary." Then it was 18.70% for "His skill set does not fir the evolving NBA," 17.89% for "Spoelstra needs to give him more minutes," and 4.88% for "Favorable. No issue. All good. No problem." The two negative options totaled around 77% to the two positive options' 23%. Ouch.

TannenbaumDOLPHINS: PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE (HA!), SCHEDULE RELEASE: The NFL insist teams have a pre-draft media session, so the Dolphins did on Wednesday, starring VP Mike Tannenbaum and GM Chris Grier (pictured), the team's Ministers of Draft Non-Information. They'll make the draft decisions with input from coach Adam Gase, and Wednesday the two men spent an hour revealing as little as possible about their intentions. It's Groundhog Day. Every year, reporters dutifully ask questions, team execs dutifully emit banal generalities. Everybody says thanks and leaves. Now, Thursday night comes Part II of the NFL making much ado about very little. The schedule release! It's packaged as prime-time TV now, of course. We already know who all of the Dolphins' opponents will be. Tonight simply sets the order and tells us if there are any prime-time games, yet the NFL says it's big news so the media obediently treats it as such. Teams coming off 6-10 season can't count on any prime-time stages, by the way, although odds are the Fins may get one. Update: And they did get one.

ESPN TOP 50 LIST ANOTHER 'OUCH' FOR MARLINS: ESPN ranks its Top 50 players in MLB right now and it's another reminder why the Marlins are where they are in the NL East. The Washington Nationals place five players in RHP Max Scherzer (4th), OF Bryce Harper (5th), RHP Stephen Strasburg (19th), 3B Anthony Rendon (37th) and SS Trea Turner (46th). There are two New York Mets in RHP Jacob deGrom (32nd) and RHP Noah Syndergaard (34th). There is one Atlanta Brave in 1B Freddie Freeman (25th). No Philadelphia Phillies, but the Phils are rising with the kind of rebuild the Marlins are hoping for and a few years from. The Marlins list shutout is magnified by the facet four ex-Marlins make it: Yanks OF Giancarlo Stanton (13th), Brewers OF Christian Yelich (41st), Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna (42nd) and Indians RP Andrew Miller (44th).

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': YELICH BACK: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Early days, but all are struggling to varying degrees except Yelich, who is finally back off the disabled list. The latest, entering Thursday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       1.023   7   28    6  11    5    2-0-1      .393

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees     .702  16  66    9  13   10   3-1-3      .197

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .673   16  70    6  19   11   2-0-2      .271

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .316   16  61    3   8    1    0-0-0      .131

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 18, 2018

What's the deal with Hassan Whiteside? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dwyane Wade saves the day, Marlins ranked 29th of 30 teams in 'legendary,' 4-Man Outfield update (Stanton sub-.200) & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the podcast of yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 2) R.I.P. former First Lady Barbara Bush, gone at 92. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Sixers Game 2, Hot Button Top 10, 4-Man Outfield update & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HassanWHAT'S THE DEAL WITH HASSAN WHITESIDE?: I explored this question in a recent column; see link just below. It is troubling the Heat are paying $24 million a year to someone who has become an easy-to-bench, situational player. I wonder about his future with the team; i.e., whether he has one. Now it's your say. This poll offers four choice. Pick the one that comes closest to representing how you feel about Miami's 7-foot center. Vote now!

DwyaneWADE TO THE RESCUE! VINTAGE SHOW SAVES HEAT: Dwyane Wade erased a good 10 years off the calendar Monday night to rescue the Miami Heat's playoff hopes with a vintage performance: 28 points in 26 minutes on 11-for-17 shooting. It was the most points off the bench in Heat postseason history. Hassan Whiteside had another quiet night -- four points in 15 minutes on only two shot attempts -- but Wade's heroics made up for a lot of too little elsewhere. Miami will need more from Whiteside when Joel Embiid returns for the 76ers, which could be in Game 3 Thursday night at the bayside arena. The series is 1-1 with Monday's 113-103 win, offsetting an embarrassing 130-103 loss in the best-of-seven opener. Our three Heat playoff-run columns thus far:

(*) His Heat future is wavering, and two quiet games haven't helped: Whiteside Must Rise Up Now.

(*) With Wade the hub of it, Heat keep giving us reasons to care: In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust.

(*) And my series prediction, which Wade pulled from the gutter: The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

Jconine"WE'RE NO. 29!" MARLINS' 'MOST LEGENDARY' LINEUP RANKED 29TH OF 30: The Topps trading card company is unveiling the "all-time legendary trading card line-up" for all 30 MLB teams in a season-long gimmick, and Miami's checks in 29th, ahead of only Tampa Bay. Marlins in the lineup range chronologically from LF Jeff Conine in 1993 (pictured) to RF Giancarlo Stanton in 2010. In between are RP Robb Nen '94, 2BLuis Castillo '96, C Charles Johnson '98, 1B Derrek Lee '99, 3B Miguel Cabrera '00, UTIL Mike Lowell '00, SP Dontrelle Willis '02, CF Juan Pierre '03 and SS Hanley Ramirez '06. Should Topps ever produce a series of least-legendary lineups, the Marlins outfit you're watching this season might be No. 1.

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Early days, but Brinson is really struggling, while Yelich has been sidelined by an oblique (abdominal) issue but is due back this week. The latest, entering Wednesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers        .984   6   26    6  10    5    2-0-1      .385

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees     .702  16  66    9  13   10   3-1-3      .197

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .673   16  70    6  19   11   2-0-2      .271

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .316   16  61    3   8    1    0-0-0      .131

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote