July 07, 2015

ESPN's 'Body' issue: Celebration of physique or narcissism on steroids? New poll. Vote now!; plus Fins seat auction, Pat Riley's motivation, new Dolphins/Canes betting odds, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

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 and Fusion TV. Ears welcome. Eyes, too. 

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 7. 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.

Fins seat auction is Wednesday: The Dolphins today announced that a limited number of assembled seats and seatbacks will be made available for purchase starting tomorrow/Wednesday. The seats were removed during stadium reconstruction. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the 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.

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 today, 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. (One reason I think that: QB Brad Kaaya (pictured), who just today is 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.

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

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

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

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%.

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

July 04, 2015

Happy Fourth, all! Jose's comeback vs. Dwyane re-upping: Which big Miami sports story was bigger? Poll. Vote now!; plus Confederate flag verdict & more

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

1aa1afourth1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 4. Happy birthday, America! You look good for 239. Have a fun and safe Fourth, all. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jam-packed! Wade re-signs, Fernandez's winning comeback, Aldridge meeting, Wade/LeBron in Bahamas, Heat summer league, U.S. in WWC finals, Confederate flag poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"I'll hitchhike nude to Portland and back if the Heat acquire LaMarcus Aldridge." -- Greg Cote

DWYANE, JOSE MAKE IT A MEMORABLE DAY IN MIAMI SPORTS: A thrilling Thursday for South Florida sports, right? Marlins ace Jose Fernandez makes a successful, winning comeback after being out more than 1aa1ajosef 1aa1adwadea year (almost 14 months) following Tommy John surgery. Then, a nearly sold-out Marlins Park had barely emptied after the matinee game when the news broke that Dwyane Wade had agreed to a one-year, $20 million deal to remain with the Heat. Both stories were big enough that I was called upon for double duty. I wrote a scheduled column on Jose's exciting return (click on Welcome Back, Kid K) and later wrote a breaking-news column on Wade's deal (click on Everybody Wins, Especially Heat). Both are currently online. The Jose column also is in today's print editions; the Dwyane column saves for Saturday's paper. I'm curious which of these twin-tower stories felt bigger to you on Thursday: The Marlins getting back their young ace after more than a year sidelined? Or the Heat securing Wade though only for a year? For me, it's close. The gut reaction may be to say Wade, perhaps, but that is tempered by the fact A) him staying was expected, and B) the news isn't as big as it would have been if it were a long-term deal. Don't make this a favorite-team vote, by the way. Please. It isn't. It's about which story felt bigger to you, and more significant.  Vote and tell us why.

Poll result: Most find Confederate flag an offensive symbol: We asked, and 51.4 percent said they think the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism or intolerance, vs. 27.1% who find it a legitimate symbol of American history and heritage. The other 21.5% said they can see both sides or are undecided.

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

July 02, 2015

D.Wade re-ups for 1 year, but ha-ha on Aldridge chances; plus winning Jose Day for Marlins and Miami!; also Wade 'n LeBron in Bahamas, U.S. partying like it's 1945, Confederate flag poll (vote now!) & more

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

1aa1akimk1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 2. Pictured right is the new Rolling Stone cover. Would it be wrong to admit I stared at the photo for about five minutes before noticing she was wearing a hat? 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat/Dwyane Wade impasse, Dolphins training camp schedule, "Let's gooooo States!" & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"Brett Favre says he could still play at age 45? Sounds like the concussions talking." --Greg Cote

This is why we missed Jose: Click on Welcome Back, Kid K for today's latest column by me, from Marlins Park, on the long-awaited comeback of Jose Fernandez. It wasn;t just the high heat and wins that Miami and fans have missed. It was the passion.

HEAT RE-SIGNS WADE FOR 1 YEAR: Heat and Dwyane Wade today agreed to a new 1-year contract for $20 million. Him staying in Miami is not a surprise at all. Click on Heat And Wade Will Work It Out to read my recent column. The market for Wade was soft. He wanted to stay. Heat wanted him back. All those things led to today's news. What is a bit surprising is the 1-year deal, which essentially means all of this starts over one year from now: Will Dwyane leave? How much will Miami pay to keep him? For now, though, the bottom line is all that counts. Wade remains a #HeatLifer. (At least for another season...)

HEAT AND ALDRIDGE? HA HA HA!: Seriously, I mean, we all love Pat Riley and think he's a magician and all that, but does anybody really think that Riles meeting tonight in L.A. with free agent LaMarcus Aldridge means Miami will land the NBA's most coveted actually available free agent? They don't have the money for Aldridge if they plan on re-signing Dwyane Wade and also planning for 2016. Nor do they especially have the need because Chris Bosh plays the same role. I'lladmit how wrong I was if somehow the Heat lands Aldridge. Meantime, anybody who tells you this could happen may well be drunk.

IT'S A WINNING JOSE DAY FOR MARLINS FANS, MIAMI: [See link above for today's newest column by me from Marlins Park]. In a 12:10 matinee today at Marlins Park, Jose 1aa1ajosefFernandez toed the mound in a real game for the first time in 419 days, since injuring his elbow and undergoing Timmy John surgery in May 2014. And it was a winning effort in a 5-4 final that drew more than 32,000. This Marlins season has disappointed, from the won-lost record to the managerial change to Giancarlo Stanton's injury. A strong performance by Fernandez today wouldn't make everything better, but it would be a  much-needed symbol that better days are ahead. "I know I have to stay calm," Jose said yesterday. Bet that Marlins fans were a bit anxious, too. The team and its fans have missed and need more than what his right arm brings. The Marlins have missed his excitement and enthusiasm, too, so welcome back, Kid K.

WADE, LEBRON DO THE BAHAMAS: Former teammates and still-good-friends Dwyane Wade and LeBron 1aa1adwlebJames and their wives were seen at Atlantis in the Bahamas last night, mini-vacationing together. Pictured left: Dwyane and Gabrielle walking through the Atlantis lobby, glancing over their shoulders, and LeBron walking just ahead of them, the inconspicuous 6-8 guy in the hat. Of course this photo and others like it snapped on smart-phones blew up on social media ... just like you know Dwyane and LeBron knew they would. Of course this could be an innocent, long-planned getaway by a couple  of friends with unlimited money. It also could be a well-timed public display designed to foment a rumor that LeBron may be trying to coax Dwyane to sign with Cleveland -- either because he really is, or to create leverage for Wade to squeeze more dollars from Miami to stay. I bet on the latter. Interesting either way, though.

NO SURPRISE: HEAT KEEPS DRAGIC. WADE NEXT?: It is being reported as the 5-year, $90 million
deal that was expected -- and keeping point guard Goran Dragic is Miami's first big move of 2015 free 1aa1agorandwadeagency. Hassan Whiteside Tweeted congratulations that included, "Let me borrow 5 dollars. lol."  The only other free-agent move that really matters to Heat fans in the coming hours or days will be whether the club will spend enough to re-sign Dwyane Wade, or see him poached by another team. There is no reason, at least not yet, to think Wade will not be back. I asked Yahoo's tapped-in NBA expert Adrian Wojnarowski about Wade/Miami on the radio and he said, "I'd be shocked if this didn't work itself out in the near future." Yesterday ESPN's Chris Broussard said of Wade: "He's a lot of [other] teams' Plan B. That's why most people think he'll wind up back in Miami. If he wants $50M long term, then he's probably going to have to get it from the Heat." Stay tuned.

HEAT SUMMER-LEAGUE INFO: Heat announced its 18-player roster for the upcoming NBA summer leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas, and we were the first Herald blog to bring it to you. Team will play five games in Orlando starting July 4 and at least five 1aa1asummerlgin Vegas starting July 11. The roster will include recent draftees Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, and returning Heat players Zoran Dragic, James Ennis, Tyler Johnson, Shabazz Napier and Henry Walker. (Hassan Whiteside will practice with the Heat's summer squad but not play in games). Assistant coach Dan Craig will be in charge. Miami's summer roster also includes rookies Bradford Burgess, Kenny Gabriel, famous son Juwan Howard Jr., Tyler Kalinoski, Rodney McGruder, Gabriel Olaseni, Willie Reed, Joshua Smith, Travis Trice, Seth Tuttle and Greg Whittington.

PARTYING LIKE IT'S 1945! "LET'S GOOOOO STATES!": I enjoy absurd hyperbole (everybody needs a hobby), 1aa1agermanyoutso I'll go ahead and say the Americans' 2-0 victory over Germany in the Women's World Cup on Tuesday was the best U.S. result in the two countries' relationship since the Germans surrendered in World War II on May 8, 1945. U.S. advances to Sunday's WWC championship match in Canada vs. Japan, which edged England 2-1 in extra time last night. This sets up a rematch of the 2011 final won by Japan and sets a narrative for the thirst for U.S. revenge. I'll try my best to avoid politically incorrect Pearl Harbor references. No promises, though.

ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG: You can't keep sports out of political issues, and vice versa. Sports are too interwoven into society. Latest example is the national movement to ban the Confederate flag from 1aa1aconfedflying on government buildings in the wake of the racist mass killing at a South Carolina church. Now NASCAR -- still so linked to the Deep South -- is disassociating itself from the flag and even offering a trade-in: Race fans may exchange their Confederate flag for an American flag. Champion Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari also has come out against the Confederate flag. My take? The Civil War happened in the 1860s. Time to move on. I do not believe all who support the Confederate flag are racists. Yes, I've seen the "Heritage, Not Hate" bumper stickers. But I do understand why that flag, once flown by the side that supported maintaining slavery, might be seen as a symbol of racism by many. I'm curious on your thoughts. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

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

June 30, 2015

Wounded pride: Why Dwyane Wade opted out and what it really means; plus Dolphins' complete open-to-public training camp schedule here, "Let's gooooo States!" & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back on my regular Tuesday in-studio schedule with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 p.m. on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio and Fusion TV. Ears and eyes welcome. Good day to follow me on Periscope because we'll have something from the studio.

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 30. Farewell, June. You were good. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade opts out, Winslow star-bound, Hot Button Top 10, Heat draft and Wade verdicts & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

The Winslow column: Click on Justise At Last for today's latest column by me, on why Duke's Justise Winslow looks like the Heat's biggest draft-born star since Dwyane Wade in 2003. Winslow is fifth in NBA rookie of the year betting odds at 9-1, per Bovada. Only better odds are for Jahlil Okafor at 7-2, D'Angelo Russell at 4-1, Karl-Anthony Towns at 7-1 and Emmanuel Mudiay also 7-1.

MONEY AND PRIDE: WHY WADE OPTED OUT AND WHAT IT MEANS: NBA players opt out of their contracts early to become free agents for various reasons. LeBron James is doing it in Cleveland and it's all about power. Control. He wants to leverage the threat of leaving to force desired roster moves. With 1aa1adwpat1 1aa1adwpat2other players it's all about ego. Even if they have every intention of remaining with their team, they want to be loved and appreciated. They want to feel that from other bidding teams. They also want the adulation of their team's fans when they eventually re-sign. With Dwyane Wade in Miami it's a bit more complicated. It's about money, yes, but first it's about pride and respect. Wade's pride needs to feel Miami is showing him respect reflected in dollars. The problem is, Pat Riley, eyeing enough financial flexibility to pursue Kevin Durant in 2016, could draw a hard, pragmatic line with Wade. The chance Wade will leave is real. Not likely, I don't think, but real. Wade is gambling that another team (it only takes one) will offer him a max contract, or at least more $$$ than Riley is putting on the table when negotiations begin on Wednesday. There must be compromise, but that is not a given here. Wade wants to stay and end his career as a Heat Lifer. Little doubt. But he must be given enough to save face, to not feel insulted. Wade, at 33 and with intermittent health issues, should not expect a $20 million-a-year deal. But Riley should pay more than he thinks he should. It wouldn't be just gratitude. Wade remains a positive asset who would be a great mentor for young Justise Winslow. The negotiations behind closed between those two men and their teams will be fascinating, and likely tense at times. Somehow Riley must find a way to both keep Wade and also be in play for Durant in '16. It could be impossible. Then again, this is Pat Riley. It's when nobody thinks Riley can do something that El Presidente's own ego might rise up to prove them wrong. Let's see. How Heat fans think of Wade and Riley -- the two most important figures in franchise history -- sways in the balance.

Wade drops from most-popular-jerseys list: The NBA's top-15 ranking of most popular player jerseys does not include the Heat's Dwyane Wade, for the first time in memory. In national sales from April through, Stephen Curry overtakes LeBron James for No. 1, with Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson rounding out the top five. Miami is No. 10 in team merchandise sales.

DOLPHINS' COMPLETE OPEN-TO-PUBLIC TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE: As our blog readers knew first here, Dolphins today announced their full preseason training camp will begin July 30 and that 14 practices will be open to the public -- all at 1aa1adolcampthe team's Davie training facility except for one evening scrimmage on Aug. 7 at FIU Stadium. Admission to the scrimmage is $5 with tickets available via dolphins.com. All other practices are free. Most practices will begin inside the team's indoor practice bubble, with players taking the outdoor fields visible to fans about 30 minutes later. One practice, on Aug. 15, will be open only to Finatics season-ticket members. Practice times are subject to change, so for updates read the Herald or call the team's practice hotline at (954) 452-7004. This will be the team's 23rd training camp in Davie.

Dolphins Open-to-Public Practices:

(All are at Davie training camp except Aug. 7 as noted; all at 8 a.m. unless noted)

Thu July 30

Fri July 31

Sat Aug 1

Sun Aug 2

Tue Aug 4

Wed Aug 5

Thu Aug 6

Fri Aug 7 (6:30 p.m. at FIU Stadium)

Sun Aug 9 (3 p.m.)

Mon Aug 10 (12:30 p.m.)

Tue Aug 11

Sat Aug 15 (open only to Finatics season-ticket members)

Sun Aug 16

Mon Aug 17

1aa1aamerifans"LET'S GOOOOO STATES!" U.S.-GERMANY TONIGHT: Diabolical! That's a word soccer announcers like, especially in England. I'd use it for the Women's World Cup unfortunately putting the United State and Germany (who play tonight at 7 in Montreal) on the same side of the bracket. These are the WWC co-favorites, so this feels like a championship match. The survivor of it will be favored to win it all in the final vs. Japan or England. The Americans must show more offensive punch than we've seen from them thus far. This doesn't feel like a 1-nil game to me. It feels like it may take three goals to advance. And once again -- unabashedly -- I make no pretense of neutrality of journalistic objectivity. "Let's gooooo States!"   

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

June 29, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 27, 2015

Ouch! Giancarlo Stanton has broken bone in wrist, placed on DL; plus poll on Heat drafting Duke's Justise Winslow (vote now); also Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers' big week & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 27. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column off on vacation the past two weeks, returns this Sunday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cote Does Paris (a travelogue), Hot Button Top 10, Heat draft projection, latest Weighing The Fish, Dolphins still King & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine -- and now Periscope, too.

STANTON OUT WITH INJURED WRIST, ON D.L.: Fox MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal first reported this morning 1aa1agstantonthat Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton -- the sport's home run and RBI leader -- has a broken bone in his hand. ESPN's Tim Kurkjian further reported it is the hamate bone in Stanton's left hand and that he will have surgery and be sidelined four to six weeks. The Marlins later today called it a wrist injury in placing Stanton on the 15-day disabled list. (The hamate is located at the joint of the wrist and hand). Stanton had complained of soreness after last night's home loss to the Dodgers. Reeling Miami has now lost five games in a row, the Stanton injury compounding the disappointing season. He'd been about the main reason to still watch. Stanton will obviously miss the upcoming All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. I'd first speculated he'd likely be out a couple of months; fortunately he could be back a bit sooner, and going on the 15-day DL (not longer) may be a positive sign. I remember Joe Robbie once lamenting how the Dolphins were "wasting the Marino years." Well, the Marlins were wasting Stanton's this year. He'd been great. His 27 homers lead the majors. His season pace was around 59, pre-injury. But it hasn't been enough. Stanton was headed toward being the first big-leaguer since 2002 to top 50 homers for a losing team. Now, the injury makes his reaching 40 seem the likelier target. Tough injury track record for Stanton, and more bad luck for the snakebit Fish.

Stanton tops local ESPY nominees: ESPN's ESPY Awards, the Worldwide Leader's annual 
font of shameless self-promotion, air July 18 and five nominees in six of the 31 categories have strong, ongoing South Florida ties: Marlins' Stanton (best MLB player); Palm Beach's Serena Williams (best female athlete, best female tennis player); Miamian Juan Pablo Montoya (best driver); Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez (best comeback); and ex-Hurricane Devin Hester (best record-breaking performance, for 20th punt-return TD).


HEAT DRAFT WINSLOW 10TH OVERALL!: Click on Contingency Plan for my column on this week's Heat draft. With both players taken, Miami is preparing itself for the possibility the Dwyane Wade era may be ending, or at least planning for that eventuality. Original post: The Miami Heat on Thursday night drafted Duke small-forward Justise Winslow (pictured right) with its first-round NBA Draft pick, 10th overall. Winslow is a 6-6, 222-pounder who could fit 1aa1ajwinslowthe role currently occupied by Luol Deng but more likely could be an NBA shooting guard -- Dwyane Wade's position. In fact Duke coach Mike Krzyzewki compared Winslow to Wade in an interview earlier this season. Later Thursday night Miami specifically targeted a proper shooting guard, Tennessee's Josh Richardson (pictured left), with its second-round pick. Smart planning? Message to Dwyane? I found it interesting that Wade, a pending free 1aa1ajoshrAgent who wants to see the  money, did not Tweet congratulations to Winslow when he was drafted by Miami. Chris Bosh did. But Wade didn't. Doesn't prove anything. Interesting, though. Pat Riley said there is "no doubt" he wants to re-sign Wade, but doing so may be tough. Asked if he is concerned Wade may leave, Riley began, "I'm not a pessimist" -- which does not exactly shout confidence. It all begins to play out July 1, when Wade (presumably) will opt out and negotiations may begin. Anyway, back to the draft. I liked Miami's stake. Heat got two very talented players, and love Winslow's versatility. Your thoughts on Miami selecting Winslow No. 1 go here. Vote now and say why.

HOW MUCH DO HEAT FANS WANT WADE BACK?: The title here of the link to my earlier Miami Herald column, on the Heat/Dwyane Wade contract disagreement, cuts to the chase of my opinion: Pay Him. I think Wade, at 33, still is worth 1aa1adwadecloser to what he's reportedly asking than to what the club reportedly wants to offer. His Heat future is Greater Miami's hottest sports topic with his looming decision whether to opt-out and seek free agency. As teammate-for-now Hassan Whiteside Tweeted this morning: "Man if another person ask me if d wade staying in Miami I'm going to lose it! I DONT KNOW!!! I just catch LOBS from the man." I hope there is compromise when the sides meet in the coming days and that Wade stays. I hope it because of all Wade and has done for the Heat and meant to South Florida. I also hope it because I think Wade, though past his prime, yes, remains a valuable asset moving forward. However, I have been surprised by the mixed reaction to my column. Many staunchly agree with my pro-Wade assessment but many other emailers are conveying they see him as fading and injury prone and think this is the right time for the club to move on without him. That mixed reaction spawns this poll. Weigh in and say why you feel as you do.

NHL DRAFT CAPS PANTHERS' BIG WEEK: Panthers drafted Ontario winger Lawson Crouse, 18, with the 11th overall pick in yesterday's NHL Draft -- hosted by the Cats in Sunrise. (The draft ends today). Unlike 1aa1acrousethe NBA Draft, the NHL Draft is cloaked in mystery because very few of us had heard of any of the guys drafted let alone seen them play. So I won't be presumptuous enough to guess whether the picks is good or not. But I like the idea of it, its aim. Florida needs a big-time goal scorer, and Crouse is a 6-4, 215- pounder that GM Dale Tallon described as a "power forward." Now we wait to see if he's that 30-goal scorer the Cats crave. Meantime, it was a big week for the franchise, which lasted hosted the draft in 2001. Give some weight, too, to Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad winning NHL rookie of the year honors this week. It is only the ninth time in 120 combined seasons that a player has been ROY for one of our Big Four pro teams. The Marlins have had four: Dontrelle Willis in 2003, Hanley Ramirez in 2006, Chris Coghlan in 2009 and Jose Fernandez in 2013. The Dolphins have had three (per The Associated Press): A.J. Duhe in 1977, Troy Stradford in 1987 and Tim Bowens in 1994. Ekblad is the Panthers' second, after Jonathan Huberdeau in 2012-13. The Heat, surprisingly, have never had a rookie of the year.

Panthers announce schedule: Florida announced its 2015-16 NHL schedule, set to open at home Oct. 10 vs. Philadelphia. Click here for the full schedule.

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

June 22, 2015

Cote does Paris. A travelogue; plus Heat draft projection, new 'Weighing The Fish', latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), me Periscope, Dolphins still King & more

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

1aa1adad1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 23. No radio today. I'll be in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show on Friday this week instead. 2) Hope all my fellow padres had a great Father's Day. My wife and sons sure made it one for me! 3) Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, was off a second straight week but will return June 28. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Ultimate Favorite South Florida Sports Team poll. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

Heat draft projection: NBA Draft is Thursday night, Miami selects 10th overall, and Sports Illustrated's 1aa1adekkerlatest mock draft today predicts Heat will choose 6-9 Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker (pictured). SI's synopsis: "Dekker has shot well in recent workouts, including in Detroit and Sacramento, alleviating some of the concern about his perimeter game. Still, Dekker is one of the draft's biggest wild cards. He could go anywhere from 10-20. Miami will eventually need a small forward to supplant Luol Deng. Dekker — who has NBA size and athleticism — is the kind of player the Heat could groom." Meanwhile, newly out via Bovada, Miami is 33-1 to win the NBA title in 2016, tied for 10th best odds. Early favorites are Cleveland at 3-1, Golden State 5-1 and Oklahoma City 7-1.

Me on Periscope: I'm newly on Periscope @gregcote and posted my first video last evening. Join us if you'd like and we'll try to have some fun. 

COTE DOES PARIS, PARIS SURVIVES: We spent eight recent days in Paris. My wife had always wanted to go, so I finally took her. By that I mean it was her idea, and she did all the planning and organizing. I 1aa1acotemagfind the key to a successful marriage is me staying out of trouble and just being along for the ride. We had a suite at the boutique-y Hotel McMahon, a short walk from the Champs-Elysees (one of the world's great boulevards) and the Charles de Gaulle Metro stop. We rode the Metro a lot, and it was terrific. From our room we could see the Arc de Triomphe. Cote is a common surname in France and means "coast," so we saw it a lot in names of restaurants, shops and the magazine pictured. Cote Magazine. Weird. Now, a daily travelogue...

Day 1: After an overnight flight we arrived in Paris very early last Thursday morning and toured the city on Big Bus while waiting for our room to be ready. Got together with fellow Herald sports writer Michelle Kaufman, her husband Dave Barry and their daughter Sophie, who were a few days from leaving as we got there. Dined at Aux Anysetiers du Roy, and had the best beef bourguignon of my life. What a city for gastronomes!

Day 2: Spent hours at the Musee Rodin with Michelle et al and was surprised to find out so many of the 1aa1athinkermost noted sculptures -- including The Thinker -- are situated outdoors. That outdoor promenade of fine art was stunning. Stopped in local shops to buy wine, bread, cheeses and fruit for a picnic lunch against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. Idyllic. Nourished, we climbed to La Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmarie, a famed church that is the highest point of Paris. It is not a religious experience, but a carnival, with throngs of tourists and sometimes-aggressive vendors peddling cheap souvenirs. We dined at an magnificent Indian restaurant near the church.

Day 3: On our own after bidding adieu to our friends, we did The Louvre, probably the 1aa1amemonaworld's most famous museum, home to the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo among other priceless works. Da Vinci's Mona Lisa has a huge room all to itself, such are the crowds queuing for a look. Pictured left: Me taking a shameless selfie with Mona in the background. We also visited the less famous but exquisite Musee d'Orsay, which I preferred to The Louvre. D'Orsay is an Impressionist lover's paradise, with works by Renoir, Cezanne, Monet and more. Dined with balcony seating and thoroughly undeserved VIP treatment at the famed Moulin Rouge, where the 2001 Medoc Bourdeaux may have been the finest wine I have ever enjoyed.

Day 4: Took a river cruise along the Seine, which separates the heart of Paris from its 1aa1aarcLeft Bank. Lunched at Cafe Gustave. Went up in the Eiffel Tower (because tourists have to; it's practically the law) and had champagne overlooking the city. Visited the Arc de Triomphe, then ate Thai food. The Arc lit at night (pictured) is breathtaking, and worth the wait, considering it doesn't get dark in Paris until around 9:30 or 10 p.m.

Day 5: Monday now. Did the Musee L'Armee, the military museum that includes Napoleon's Tomb. Lunched at Ristorante Scala. Fun sidetrip to an out of the way local museum dedicated to chocolate. Visited the famed Notre Dame church (where again we observed a serious presence of police with military-grade weapons around major tourist areas, de rigeur security ever since the terrorist attacks on the city's Charlie Hedbo newspaper). Had dinner and champagne at Cafe de Deaville, then a stroll along the Champs-Elysees.

1aa1agardensmonetDay 6: Bused an hour outside Paris to Giverny, France and the home and gardens of Claude Monet until his death. The gardens pictured that inspired his art make it one of the loveliest acres on Earth. Had lunch with wine in Normandy at Le Moulin de Fourges, then bused to the famed Versailles, which (like The Louvre) lost points with me because of its popularity and crowds. Giverny was an absolute delight, though. Dinner at Caffe de Caesar.

Day 7: Took a three-hour guided, walking tour of Paris that was a delight because it delved off the beaten paths and into neighborhoods. Fell in love with the French cheese, Cantal, over lunch. Did a bunch of browsing and shopping. Dined at the funky La Petit Acacia.

1aa1aartfoodDay 8: In wind-down mode on our last full day in Paris, we visited Plaza de Bastille, enjoyed the best mussels I have ever eaten at the Belgian restaurant Leon, and later fine-dined at the upscale La Fermette Marbeuf just off the Champs-Elysees. This was the view from our table; you feel as if you are dining inside an art museum.

On the ninth day we flew home full of memories and thoroughly impressed by Paris, its people and sights. Highly recommend the visit. Postscript for the stereotype-inlcined: The entire time we were there, I think we saw two people wearing berets, and not a single street mime.

WEIGHING THE FISH (70 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games 1aa1afishweighcumulative 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. Weighing The Fish skipped the 60-game edition because we were away on vacation. Here's WTF after 70 games (actually 71 at 30-41; oops again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @50

1  Giancarlo Stanton      344.4    1

2  Dee Gordon                  272.3    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria  218.3   3

4  Marcell Ozuna            209.6   5

5  Martin Prado              201.5   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         162.9    6

7  Christian Yelich        156.8   9

8  Ichiro Suzuki              130.4   8

9  Justin Bour                 129.0   7

10  Michael Morse            91.7   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 4, Gordon 2.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. NBA: Golden State wins. More accurately, LeBron loses!: There were two winners in the NBA Finals: Golden State and Miami -- the Warriors for beating Cleveland, and jilted Heat fans because LeBron James lost. LeBron still hasn't won a title without Dwyane Wade. By the way.

2. SOCCER: U.S. advances in Women’s World Cup: The win-or-out matches started last night for the United States team, vs. Colombia, with a 2-0 USA win in the Women's World Cup in Canada. Unlike the American men, the U.S. women could actually win this thing, and have reached the quarterfinals. "Let's gooooo States!"

3. HEAT: NBA Draft, Wade decision on deck: The NBA Draft is Thursday night in Brooklyn, with Miami selecting 10th overall. More importantly, also coming up soon is Dwyane Wade's decision whether to opt-out and explore leaving the Heat. Say it ain't so, Dwyane. Heat fans mean that literally. Say it ain't so.

4. MARLINS: Fish prepare for long homestand: Fish open a nine-game homestand tonight with Jose Fernandez's return drawing nearer. Team has been about the same under Dan Jennings (14-19, .424) since he replaced Mike Redmond (16-22, .421), verifying that managers have very little do with a team's record. Season still a slogging disappointment, but at least we get to watch Giancarlo Stanton hit.

5. GOLF: Jordan Spieth wins U.S. Open: Jordan Spieth, 21, won the U.S. Open in Washington State after earlier winning the Masters. Meantime a former Spieth-like phenom named Tiger Woods (remember him?) fizzled and didn't even make the cut. It may be time to stop waiting for Tiger to find his old form and just assume he never will.

6. ALEX RODRIGUEZ: A-Rod records 3,000th hit: In storybook fashion, Yankee (and Miami-raised) Alex Rodriguez made a home run his 3,000th career hit in becoming the 29th player to reach that plateau. Unfortunately for A-Rod, steroids rewrote that storybook for all time.

7. PANTHERS: Cats prepare to host NHL Draft: As Chicago still celebrates its Stanley Cup win over Tampa Bay, the hockey draft is coming to Sunrise this Friday and Saturday. I suppose if Cats fans can't enjoy the playoffs, this at least is a consolation prize of sorts.

8. DOLPHINS: Now comes to wait until training camp: The OTA (Organized Team Activity) practice days are done. The three-day June mini-camp is finished. Now comes the wait as Dolfans look forward to the late-July start of Miami's full training camp, ready or not.  

9. HURRICANES: UM baseball disappoints at College World Series: Maybe getting to Omaha for first time since 2008 made it a good season for The U, but two lopsided losses to the Florida Gators, of all teams, wrote a sour ending for Jim Morris' Canes.

10. 'BALLERS': New HBO series premieres: Ballers is the Dwyane (The Rock) Johnson series that HBO describes as "centered around a group of football players and their families, friends, and handlers," and it premiered Sunday night. It involved scandals and misbehaving players getting trouble. True to life, in other words. Enjoyed the premiere. Show has promise. Had heard Master Thespian Dan Le Batard had a cameo, but it wasn't in the premiere.

Poll result: Dolphins still King of South Florida sports: We listed Greater Miami's biggest pro and college teams, asked which is your favorite, and the Dolphins reigned with 48.2 percent. Only the football Hurricanes were in the neighborhood at 34.7%, with the Heat a distant third with 8.0%. The Marlins (2.7%) and hockey Panthers (2.6%) rounded out the top five.

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

June 20, 2015

The ultimate "South Florida's Favorite Sports Team" poll. Last chance to vote!; plus we're back from vacation & more

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

I'm back!: The wife and I have returned to the Motherland after an eight-night stay in Paris. I'm back on the Herald clock Monday but will have a brand new blog post here tomorrow/Sunday morning, including a new Hot Button Top 10 and (unavoidably, I'm afraid) a synopsis of my week-plus in Paris including photos. 2) 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine, because we'll be posting stuff while away.

1aa1akingofmiamiLAST CHANCE TO VOTE IN THE ULTIMATE "SOUTH FLORIDA'S FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM" POLL: Baseball is in full bloom, basketball and hockey have just wrapped up their seasons and summer means football is getting close enough to
hear the pads popping. So this is as good a time as 1aa1akingofmiami2any to wonder what South Florida's favorite team is, and I invite you to answer that question in the poll below. We're focusing here on teams at the pro or college level in the Greater Miami market -- and you may only choose one. I know that's tough because, if you're like me and most, you follow multiple teams and certainly care about more than one. But you can only care about one the most, right? By whatever criteria you choose to use, name that team! (Hey, nobody said life was easy, or fair). With apologies to any teams left out, I had to keep the poll to a manageable length and make some tough calls, but included an "other" category for that. So think about which SoFla pro or college team you love best or follow most avidly -- the one that is simply the most important to you -- then take a dip in our poll and say why. Final results announced here Sunday so vote now!

Check back a lot to monitor evolving results above...

June 09, 2015

"Let's goooooooo States!" U.S. wins Women's World Cup opener; plus LeBron wins again, naughty Miami, Marlins' No. 1 draft pick, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 9. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with keeping Dwyane Wade in Miami. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron James hate-watch poll, UM to Omaha, women's World Cup, D.Wade's PR genius, Dolphins next-best verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Miami second-naughtiest city: C'mon, Miami, we can do better than No. 2, can't we? A survey by a dating site called OnMutualTerms.com polled 3,528 men and women on the best American cities for "casual encounters" and the top five were Philadelphia, Miami, Seattle, New Orleans and Las Vegas. One question. Philadelphia!?

"U-S-A! U-S-A!" AMERICANS WIN WOMEN'S WORLD CUP OPENER: Update: U.S. looked very strong last evening in dispatching Australia 3-1 in its WWC opener in Canada, led by two goals from Megan Rapinoe (pictured). If Alex  Morgan attains full fitness during this run, I like Team USA's chances for its first World Cup triumph since 1999. Original post: I toss my journalistic neutrality theatrically out the window, like Dave 1aa1awwc 1aa1ameganrapLetterman used to toss watermelons off tall buildings, when it comes to stuff like the Olympics and World Cups. I root for the United States, openly, unabashedly and
with gusto. I become a homer. So I am excited the U.S. women's national soccer team debuting vs. Australia tonight in Winnipeg in the Women's World Cup being held in Canada. I'm excited for patriotic, dare say jingoistic reasons, and also because the women of Abby Wambach, Morgan and bad-girl Hope Solo represent the best America has to offer in female sports. Only Serena Williams, in tennis, is at that level where unrelenting excellence is expected. Much about women's sports doesn't seem to interest America much (women's golf and the WNBA come to mind), but top-level soccer does because it appeals to the frontrunner in us. These women are good. Men's soccer wants to be what the women are: Top-tier contenders on the world stage. This is the seventh WWC, and the U.S. never has finished worse than third place, including championships in 1991 and '99 and a heart-breaking runnerup finish four years ago. But Brandi Chastain & The Sports Bra were a long time ago now. We're due. (Yes, I said we). Most experts rate the U.S. and Germany. So I say it again: "Let's go-ooooooo States!"

MARLINS PICK A SURPRISE IN MLB DRAFT: It pales in national media attention and general interest compared to the NFL and even NBA 1aa1ajoshndrafts, but baseball's annual draft began last night, and the Marlins surprised most experts -- yes, there are baseball mock drafts -- by selecting Canadian prep first baseman Josh Naylor (pictured) in the first round, 12th overall. They list Naylor as 6-1 and 225 pounds. Hmm. This pic must have been taken after a particularly large meal as Naylor displays something of a Babe Ruth physique. As long as the Babe bat comes with it, we're OK. First South Florida player drafted was Miami Hurricanes lefty pitcher Andy Suarez in the second round, 61st overall, by the Nationals. UM and Jim Morris are both preparing for the start of the College World Series and also keeping an eye on the draft, especially where slugging third baseman David Thompson is selected today. He'll likely turn pro if drafted high enough to suit him, but otherwise may return for another season at UM. 

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. NBA: Battered, not beaten, Cavs win Game 3 behind LeBron, again: Already  missing Kevin Love, Cleveland couldn't beat Golden State in Game 1 despite 44 points from LeBron James. Now they'd be missing Kyrie Irving the rest of the series, too. Facing a crucial Game 2 back out west, James said, accurately: "People are writing us off." (Added a grinning, high-fiving Miami: "I know we are!') Well, get me rewrite. LeBron scores 39, has a triple-double and Cleveland ties series, then scores 40 in Game 3 last night to put Cavs up 2-1 in Cleveland.

2. HORSE RACING: American Pharoah runs into history books: Since Affirmed in 1978, 13 horses had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness then failed to win the Belmont and finish the Triple Crown -- before American Pharoah finally ended that drought in triumph Saturday. (Quick aside: The word is actually spelled “pharaoh,” of course. Somebody buy that horse’s parents a dictionary!)

3. HURRICANES: Omaha! UM baseball back in College World Series: UM swept Virginia Commonwealth in the NCAA Super Regional here to qualify for the CWS for the first time since 2008, in search of Miami's fifth national title and first since '01. Only in college baseball do you hear anybody talk about being in Omaha, Nebraska as a life’s goal and highlight.

4. MARLINS: Fish show signs of life, take another series: Fish got spanbked last night in Toronto but before that in Colorado the Marlins won their third series in a row and fourth in the past five. Meanwhile Giancarlo Stanton is on a home-run tear (18) and Jose Fernandez is due back soon. I'd say things are looking up for replacement-manager Dan Jennings, but, with the Marlins, that’s usually a precursor to something exploding.

5. SOCCER: Europe final, Women’s World Cup come at right time: Lionel Messi's Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 Saturday in Europe’s Champions League final, same day the Women’s World Cup opened in Canada. (The U.S. began last night with a 3-1 win over Australia). Thank you, Europe and women, for helping remind us it's still the beautiful game despite the stink of corrupted FIFA and resigning-in-shame Sepp Blatter.

6. HOCKEY: Tampa Bay surges to lead in Stanley Cup Finals: While Panthers fans try to recall what the playoffs are, Tampa Bay beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 last night for a 2-1 series lead in the NHL finals. Meanwhile desperate Canada, which invented hockey but last celebrated a championship in 1993, has dispatched a covert team of special-ops Mounties to kidnap the Stanley Cup.

7. TENNIS: Williams wins French, but Djokovic upset loser: Heavily favored Serena Williams won the Franch Open women's title on Saturday, but No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Novak Djokovic was upset on Sunday by Stan Wawrinka for the men's title. Stan Wawrinka!? So much for me making fun of tennis' predictability by suggesting they saved time by engraving both trophies before tournament even started.

8. CAITLYN JENNER: Bruce's transformation sparks fascination: Former Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner, a transgender, became Caitlyn Jenner, debuted herself on the cover of Vogue and set a record for becoming the quickest person ever to reach 1 million Twitter followers. And me, still stuck at 18,000 and change. Hmm. Something to think about...

9. DOLPHINS: For Fins, it was a bad week for feet: Haven't even reached preseason mini-camp yet, but last week top draft pick DeVante Parker underwent foot surgery (he should be ready for the season), and kicker Caleb Sturgis injured his foot while playing, of all things, kickball. A kicker being injured playing kickball is a little like the fire chief burning his hand on the stove.

10. HEAT: Wade attends graduation, gets TV gig: Never dull around Dwyane Wade. Last week he was invited and attended Western High's graduation ceremony, and then was part of ABC's Finals coverage on Sunday night. Meantime it remains up in air if Heat will pay Wade what he wants or see him test free agency. Maybe on TV Sunday Dwyane should have appeared disheveled in shockingly unfashionable, tattered clothes and held up a hand-drawn cardboard sign reading, 'Will Stay In Miami For Millions.'

Missing the cut: Tiger Woods shoots am 85, Monday's MLB draft, Al Golden's football camps, WNBA begins, A-Rod's cousin sentenced, Adeiny Hechavarria's shoe collection.

Poll result: Animus toward LeBron still percolating: No, Heat fans have not forgiven LeBron James the way he left Miami. We asked (you may still vote) and 63.3 percent are rooting against LeBron in the NBA Finals versus only 12.7% rooting for him. The other votes were split among 10.3% who are "sort of conflicted," 10.2% "not interested or watching" and 3.5% "pretending to not be interested."

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