February 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Show us the way, Edwin Pope, Falcons-Patriots SB, Women's March, Juan Pablo Montoya & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 23. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page, debuting today. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Remembering Edwin Pope, NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside battered in all-star voting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl!: Click on Championship Game Gems for yesterday's Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots NFC and AFC title-game picks, and on A Dramatic Final Four for my preview column.

Montoya wins historic Miami Race Of Champions: Historic? The 28th annual ROC had never before been held in the U.S. before Saturday's race in Miami, on a racetrack built inside Marlins Park. And Miami driver Juan Pablo Montoya won. Crazy, one-of-a kind day. Click on Home Run For Montoya, Miami for my column from the race.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. EDWIN POPE: Herald sports icon dies at 88: If you are from South Florida, are aware life existed before ESPN SportsCenter or have ever held a newspaper in your hands, then you probably said or thought last week, “I grew up reading Edwin Pope.” Thank you, kind sir, friend, colleague and mentor. R.I.P. 

2. NFL: Championship Sunday gives us a Falcons-Pats Super Bowl: Atlanta walloped Green Bay and New England dispatched Pittsburgh on Sunday for the NFC and AFC titles to reach Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston. The blowout games were decided by 23- and 19-point margins. The challenge? For the Super Bowl to be better. You know, an actual good game?

3. WOMEN'S MARCH: Women lead world's biggest protest march. Ever: Estimates are more than 4 million women worldwide including more than 500,000 in Washington, D.C. marched Saturday to protest Donald Trump and stand up for the freedoms and rights. Hmm. Impressive. But can't help but wonder: If that same passion and numbers had participated in the election, would there have been a need to march?

4. MOTORSPORTS: Montoya wins Race of Champions at Marlins Park: Most different, unique sporting event in Miami history? You could do worse than nominating NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One stars racing against each other inside a baseball stadium this weekend in the ROC series' first U.S. appearance. Miami won twice as hometown driver Juan Pablo Montoya won Saturday's main event.

5. HEAT: Three straight wins in a lost season as trade deadline looms: Good news? Miami has its first three-game win streak of season. Bad news? Everything else. Record is still only 14-30 and streak is unlikely to reach four as Heat host Golden State tonight. Be honest. The most compelling things left in this lost season are the two dates for the trade deadline and draft lottery.

6. MARLINS: Fish acquire quality starting pitcher: The latest aftershock of the Jose Fernandez tragedy: Miami dealt three prospects to Cincinnati for righty starter Dan Straily, who was 14-8 in 31 starts for Reds last year.

7. BASEBALL: Two ex-Marlins elected to Hall of Fame: Pudge Rodriguez, of course, had a starring role in helping Marlins win the 2003 World Series. But count yourself a real Fish fan if you also recall that, the year before, Tim Raines ended his 23-year career as a reserve here.

8. TENNIS: Both No. 1 seeds out as Australian Open enters final week: No. 1 seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both were ousted the same day, the first time in the modern era the Australian Open has lost both No. 1s before the quarterfinals. An even bigger shock: Why wasn't Serena Williams No. 1?

9. PANTHERS: Three straight losses, but Florida still in playoff hunt: As NHL all-star break looms, Cats have cooled off with three straight losses but lurk only two points off playoff in Eastern Conference. Still, when you were talking Stanley Cup and are scrambling for an eighth seed -- that's a disappointing season.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Tough stretch for Canes men, women: Miami's No. 14-ranked women have lost three of past six. The men have dropped four of past five  after Saturday's loss at Duke. Better snap out of it fast, Team Larranaga. No. 9 North Carolina visits in five days.

Missing the HB10 cut: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich devoted seven minutes of a news conference Saturday to a pro-women's march, anti-Donald Trump soliloquy, pretty brave for a man who lives and works in Texas. It's enough to make me root for a Spurs championship just to see if he gets a White House invite, or goes ..... Former Marlins ace Josh Johnson retired at 32 from elbow issues, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago ..... Prior to Bellator 170, Chael Sonnen talked trash. Tito Ortiz made his statement in the fight ..... A 25-year-old dunce from Boston was arrested for pulling a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. Put him in a room alone with James Harrison for 20 minutes ..... Saw the headline, 'Beagle scores in OT as Capitals beat Stars,' and thought, "Wow, what a great story!" But it turned out to be a guy named Jay Beagle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Florida Panthers owner and Trump nominee for Secretary of the Army Vinnie Viola once was accused of punching a man in the face at a horse auction."

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 21, 2017

Remembering an epic life and personal hero: Edwin Pope, 1928-2017, R.I.P.; plus NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside collect further disrespect, Women's March, Race Of Champions & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 21. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Edwin Pope dies, Kiper's mock draft for Dolphins, two ex-Marlins make Hall, cowardly Goodell, your Super Bowl preference, BIMD video (The Circus) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Women's March on Washington: Much respect to the hundreds of thousands participating today in the Women's March in D.C., a grass-roots stand-up for freedoms and rights. Proud to say my wife, and many others I know, are among them.

Race Of Champions: The ROC series is in the U.S. for first time today in Miami, with stars from NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One all racing together inside Marlins Park. I like big events and am a curiosity seeker, so I'll be there columnizing.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, my latest column, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald legend. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

TO A MONUMENTAL CAREER, AN EPIC LIFE AND A CHERISHED MENTOR: THANK YOU, EDWIN POPE: [Blog note: I rarely do this. I link to columns of mine, but rarely reprint them in their entirety here in the blog. But the death of my great friend and mentor, last night at age 88, is too important to me to not share as broadly as I can. So here is my tribute column]:

Epope
The Edwin I first knew, circa mid-'70s

"I grew up reading Edwin Pope." How many generations in South Florida will be saying that, thinking it, feeling it today? I was coming of age as a sports fan who hadn’t yet discovered he was interested in writing when Pope was at the peak of his powers, and reading him kindled and sparked something in me.

What it did was give me a future, a passion, a career.

Thank you, Edwin. For your inspiration, your talent, your grace, your mentorship and your friendship.Thank you so much.

South Florida and the Miami Herald have lost a giant with the passing of Edwin Pope at age 88. Newspapering and sports journalism and the craft of putting words in just the right order have all lost a giant.

Edwin came to the Herald in 1956 in his late 20s. He was sports editor and main sports columnist from 1967 until he retired in 2003, though still writing occasionally the next several years until age and Alzheimer’s dictated otherwise. I loathe the frivolous overuse of words like "legend," but the superlative has not yet been invented that can properly describe the epic arc of Pope’s career chronicling Miami sports.

From the black and white days of Cassius Clay in the 5th Street Gym to the Heat drafting some kid named Dwyane Wade — and everything in between — Edwin was the eyes and ears for South Florida sports fans, the rhyme and the reason.

He reigned before ESPN "SportsCenter" and before the Internet changed everything, putting news and opinion everywhere, and right now, diminishing the influence of the local newspaper. He reigned when "the paper" thudded onto front lawns every morning, up and down your block, and you turned to the sports section first to see what Pope had to say.

Dan LeBatard and I tried to replace him when he left. We never had a chance. Voices are everywhere, but there is no replacing Sinatra. Pope ends an era.

I felt smarter, as a teenager, when I read Edwin. There might be a word (or three) in every column that sent me to the dictionary. I liked that. He never talked down to readers. It’s a concept that has informed my own writing.

Edwin wrote with poetic elan. He told stories. He could make the scene on a racetrack’s backstretch as interesting as the horse race itself. You smelled the hay. You closed your eyes and saw the groom mucking-out the stable.

Epope2
Edwin in his career's latter stage

Edwin also could be direct. When he wanted a column to throw a punch, it landed.

When Lou Saban abruptly left the University of Miami football team after only two years following the 1978 season to coach at West Point, the lead to Pope’s column was: "You wanted a deserter, Army? You got one."

Edwin didn’t tap-dance into a column or, in the parlance of a former editor of ours, "clear his throat." He got to it. He was concise. He didn’t overwrite, either in style or length. He valued his readers too much to waste their time.

He was like that off the page, too.

He was a gentle man, but one whose humor could be sharp, and bite.

He’d had a stormy relationship with Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, and once kidded the only thing wrong with the name of the stadium was that it wasn’t Joe Robbie Memorial Stadium. (At least I think he was kidding.)

Edwin commanded utmost respect in press boxes. He was the dean, the monarch, the legend. If the clatter got too noisy too close to deadline, Edwin eventually would raise a hand and loudly snap, "Quiet!" and the room would shut up. He didn’t have to say it twice.

You didn’t want to be a waiter who ignored Edwin once too often when he was fishing for another drink.

"What’s a man got to do to get another Heinekin around here!?!" he once stood and loudly squawked from our table in some far-flung city after some game, Southern drawl lifting into a high pitch.

Epopejoelouis
A favorite photo of his: A young Edwin Pope with boxer Joe Louis

Edwin was a drinker. May I say that? We had a good time on the many road trips we took together.

I was in the company of Edwin and more than one unnamed UM football coach as the two of them killed a 12-pack of beer hours before a game. You’d visit his hotel room and not be surprised to see a jug of red wine on ice in the bathroom sink. Once we closed down a bar in (I think) Indianapolis, stumbled out into the cold and were discussing how to go about getting a cab when it dawned on us our hotel was right in front of us.

I delighted to cover the 1992 Summer Olympics with Edwin in Barcelona, in a cramped, barracks-style dorm room we shared. After two weeks, the day before we flew out, we treated each other by taking a cab to the city’s famous nude beach to take in the sights. Why not!

Edwin was a wonderful colleague and road-trip companion of mine for 30 some years. Mostly he was a writing hero, somebody who was what I wanted to be. I have never stopped striving or falling short, or being grateful for his influence in my life and career.

His was a long, wonderful life well-led.

Thank you, Edwin. Always. Thank you.

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FripixPLAYOFFS: CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: OUR PICKS FOR NFL'S SUNDAY AFC, NFC TITLE GAMES: Lots of football fans call this Sunday the single best day of the season, better even than the Super Bowl, and I expect Packers at Falcons and then Steelers at Patriots to live up to expectations. A great final four! Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season, and we're 6-0 in the postseason after rolling a perfect 4-0 last week. Click on Championship Game Gems for my latest picks on the AFC and NFC title games. I see one game going as expected and the other not. We also offer our accompanying NFL column that today quantifies how good this final four is, historically, and how it gets the attention back where it belongs, on the field, after a weird week of drama for the NFL. Click on A Dramatic Final Four to read.

THE LIST: THIS FINAL FOUR IN THE POSTSEASON: Historically, this NFL final four includes three league giants and one interloper, as this list verifies. The franchise, head coach and quarterback records of these four teams in the postseason, listed in order of most all-time postseason wins, with total NFL championships listed in parentheses:

Team                                Franchise            Head coach                   Quarterback

Pittsburgh Steelers (6)       36-23, .610         Mike Tomlin, 8-5           Ben Roethlisberger, 13-6

Green Bay Packers (13)      34-21, .618        Mike McCarthy, 10-7       Aaron Rodgers, 9-6

New England Patriots (4)   30-19, .612         Bill Belichick, 24-10       Tom Brady, 23-9

Atlanta Falcons (0)             8-12, .400         Dan Quinn, 1-0              Matt Ryan, 2-4

HwhitesideHEAT BATTERED IN ALL-STAR VOTING, WHITESIDE SNUBBED: Hassan Whiteside collects perceived slights the way others of us collects stamps or coins, and he has added a big new one to his collection. He barely made the East frontcourt top 10 in NBA all-star voting, slotting in 10th overall after finishing eighth in the media vote, 11th by fans, and only 14th by players. Your colleagues don't respect you, bro! Get angry! Get even! No Goran Dragic in the East backcourt top 10. Starters were named Thursday. Reserves get added next week. I'd think Whiteside (pictured) will be included, but it sure isn't a given after his comeuppance in the triangular vote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 05, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 21, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 35.9%; plus UM beats Nebraska 36-33 in OT; also FIU wins, other state Collball Week 3, early verdict on new Herald look & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. Click on Random Evidence for the farewell collector's edition of our last Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami Herald redesign with poll, NFL Week 2 picks, Seminoles & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Canes-Nebraska game column: Find our in-game blog directly below the new CSM poll. Click on This Won't Help Golden Much for my game column from the stadium, newly online.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 35.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame 1aa1acsmpoll, and they show 35.9 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very"and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Saturday's 36-33 overtime victory over visiting Nebraska putting UM's season record at 3-0. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Monday.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Next poll: Oct. 1 (following game at Cincinnati)

Interpreting the latest vote: Majority dissatisfaction over UM's blown 23-point lead was balanced by the ultimate win and by the 3-0 record for a slight favorable bump in the overall approval rating. Still significantly below what you'd think the record would indicate, with Al Golden's unpopularity a major factor.

G3: HURRICANES 36, NEBRASKA 33 (FINAL/OT): UNRANKED? NO MATTER. IT WAS A HUGE GAME: Final: Miami led 14-0 fast and then 30-10 and then blew it and saw Nebraska force overtime before surviving 36-33. Wow. So much to like, so much not to. I'll have my game column online soon. ..... Overtime: What an escape! UM wins 36-33 on Michael Badgley 28-y FG after a Corn Elder INT thwarts Nebraska's drive to start OT. That is correct: A team named Cornhuskers were just beaten by a man named Corn. ..... Fourth Q: The unthinkable just happened. Nebraska tied it 33-33 with an 8-yard TD pass and 2-point conversion with 33 seconds to play. Overtime. Nightmare. ... Uh oh. Cornies within 33-25 on 21-y TD pass with 3:46 left. Miami can't possibly blow this game. can it? ... NEB within 33-18 on 10-yard TD pass and 2-point conversion with 8:36 left. ... UM settles for a fourth FG to make it 33-10. Kaaya up to 366 yards, a career high, still with 11 minutes left. ... Kaaya throws end-zone interception, his first turnover of season. ..... Third Q: Deon Bush pickoff for Miami defense brings third quarter to a close. ... UM settles for 41y FG and 30-10 lead after holding penalty negates 19y Mark Walton scoring run. ... Nebraska bags first TD, moves within 27-10 on 22-y pass mid-quarter. ... UM up 27-3 quickly on Joe Yearby's tackle-busting 41-y scoring run. ..... Halftime: Kaaya with 226 yards passing and two TDs and dominant defense spell the first half. Now we see if UM can pull away and make it an impressive rout, or allow a Cornhuskers comeback. ..... Second Q: Huge INT by Artie Burns, his third already this season, for Miami. NEB was driving, threatening to pull within 20-10 and make a game of it late in half. ... Cornies get on board with 49y FG, Canes counter with 27-yard for 20-3 lead. Settled, though, wasting a 53-yard Kaaya completion to Rashawn Scott. ..... First Q: UM adds FG for 17-0 lead. Near-perfect quarter for The U. Three for three on scoring drives; three Nebraska punts. ... Told ya so! Said Brad Kaaya would have a huge day against Nebraska's lousy pass-D and already in the first quarter it's 14-0 on his 10-y TD pass to Chris Herndon and then his 11-y strike to Tyre Tyre Brady. ..... Original post: You know that Nebraska is 1-1 under a new coach, that Miami is 2-0 over little guys Bethune-Cookman and FAU, that neither team is ranked and that both programs are trying to recapture their old mojo and get back to who they 1aa1acanesnebwere. You also know none of that will seem to matter today when the ball kicks off at 3:30 in Miami Gardens. It will feel big. Special. It will be Nebraska's first trip here since the '95 Orange Bowl. It will be a rematch of a titan series that provided UM three of its five national championships and Nebraska one of its five. OK. That's enough with nostalgia, backstory and hype. On to this game! It's seen as a tossup, with Miami favored by three points based on the home field. But that's guesswork because this will be UM's first 2015 test against someone its own size, someone capable of beating the Canes. But will the Cornhuskers win? No. Nebraska has a porous secondary that has given up almost 700 yards passing (692) in its first two games. Brad Kaaya should have a huge day. Miami will show more on offense and defense than we have yet seen in what will be the coming-out party for the '15 Canes. Because of that, the pressure is all on UM, the home favorite. Of course that means the pressure is all on coach Al Golden, as usual. The legitimate rap on Golden is he hasn't won the biggest games in his four-plus seasons here -- that he lacks "signature win"-type victories. This would fit the category, silence the critics if even for a little while. Nebraska may be 1-1, but the stage is big. ABC is televising. The crowd could approach a sellout. Anticipation has been high. Bigger tests lay ahead, yes, but for UM and Golden, shouldn't the credit for winning today mirror what the damnation would be for losing? My pick: Hurricanes 34-23.

Other college Week 3 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all today unless noted):

No. 9 Florida State 14, Boston College 0: A rarity last night. Noles win with defense!

Maryland 35, South Florida 17: Flat roadie for now 1-2 Bulls.

Buffalo 33, FAU 15: Owls stay winless with very disappointing home result.

Furman 16, UCF 15: Stunning, embarrassing home loss has Knights 0-3.

FIU 39, North Carolina Central 14: Panthers now 2-1. QB Alex McGough? Not bad!

Florida 14, Kentucky 9: Florida won a 29th straight game over KY. Some doubted they would. Not me.

Poll result: Reaction mixed to Herald's new look: We invited you to weigh in on the Miami Herald's re-design that debuted this week, and it was 37.6 percent positive, 40.0% negative and 22.4% "still not sure."

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

September 14, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 31.0%; plus Radio Tuesday, Dolphins beat Redskins 17-10, Fins on Forbes $$ list, Dee Gordon honored, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), farewell Sunday notes column & 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, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 on ESPN Radio. Good morning!

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Click on Random Evidence for the farewell edition of our Sunday notes column. See the bottom of this blogpost for an explainer. 2) Click on Howard's Night, Al's Burden for my column from Boca Raton on Friday's 44-20 Canes win. And see previous blogpost for first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM wins at FAU, CSM poll, Upset Bird Day in America, LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Marlins' Gordon honored, twice: Marlins 2B Dee Gordon received two nice award nominations today: For the Robert Clemente Award for sportsmanship, and for the MLBPA Marvin Miller Award. He's also still fighting (currently down seven points) for the NL batting title.

Dolphins mid-pack on franchise value list: Forbes' latest list has Dolphins as NFL's 16th-most valuable franchise at $1.85 billion. Click Money List for full rankings. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 31.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 17-10 Dolphins 1aa1adsmvictory at Washington. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Yearly DSM results:

2014: 2.7% (following 8-8 season)

2013: 4.2% (following 8-8 season)

2012: 29.8% (following 7-9 season)

2011: 34.9% (following 6-10 season)

2010: 3.8% (following 7-9 season)

2009: 31.2% (following 7-9 season)

2008: 96.9% (following 11-5 season/playoff loss)

G1: DOLPHINS 17, WASHINGTON 10 (Final): SEASON OF (FAIRLY) GREAT EXPECTATIONS BEGINS WITH ROAD WIN: Final: Miami christens its 50th season right with 17-10 win at Washington. Reminded me a little of UM beating FAU the other night. Shaky early, but the better team emerging. Dolphins offense wasn't great today and defense was less than perfect against the run. But! Two interceptions by Miami's defense and a huge 69-yard punt-return score by Jarvis Landry made the difference. ..... Fourth Q: Miami stops a Skins 4th-and-7 from MIA 20. Fins in charge. ... Huge! McCain INT at Fins 2 denies a Skins threat. ... MIA with its first lead at 17-10 on Landry's 69-yard TD return of a punt. Money! ... Dolphins tie it 10-10 on Franks' short FG, but you gotta go into end zone on 4th and goal! MIA squanders red-zone chance to take lead. ... Third Q: Scoreless third, but Fins on the move. ... Oy! LT Albert injured, but walks off field on own, a good sign. ... Ugh. Tanny stripped of ball and loses fumble on half's opening series. ..... Dolfans Halftime: Dolfans should feel lucky to only be down 10-7. No cause for panic, but Fins must shore up their run defense in second half. ..... Second Q: Finally! Life for Fins! MIA within 10-7 on Tanny's 3y TD toss to Matthews just before half. ... Tanny misses a wide-open Stills. Hasn't been as accurate yet today as in preseason. ... Dolphins down 10-0 as defense beat up for 17-yard drive. Reed 3y TD catch over a fallen Jones ends series. ... Miami wastes the Grimes INT, denied on 4th-and-1 from Skins 12. Ballsy call; gave up an near-certain tying FG. ... TE Sims out injured trying to catch an end-zone overthrow by Tannehill. ... Grimes interception! MIA at WAS 21. ..... First Q: Olivier Vernon ankle injury; iffy return. ... Fins offense on field for only 5 plays in first quarter. Ugh. ... MIA catches small break in final seconds when Skins go wide right on 46y FG try. ... Fins fail to convert a 3rd-and-1. Not the opening quarter of Dolfans' dreams. ... Miami down 3-0 early is no worry. But the early run-defense is. ..... Pregame: I love that Your Friend The Media is making such a deal of Jarvis Landry and LaMike James having a minor shove-exchange four days ago. Zero bearing on what happens today. ..... Original post: As the Dolphins launch their 50th franchise season we bring you true math, NFL style: One season of unusually high hopes + one a bad opponent = one opener Miami really needs to win. The air would seep 1aa1adolredout of Dolfans' optimism like it does footballs on the Patriots sideline, only moreso, if Miami somehow falls flat today in Landover, Md. I doubt that happens. I'm sold on these Dolphins as a playoff team. Ryan Tannehill's multi-weaponed offense should not have a problem motoring and flying all over the field today, and the Ndamukong Suh-infused 1aa1adolredqbsdefense should make it a daytime nightmare for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. (Tannehill and Cousins are pictured left). See it as a comfy win, maybe even a rout. This isn't Bethune-Cookman to the Hurricanes as season openers go, but if there were gimmies in the NFL, Washington would be close to one. Now let's quantify why winning one's season opener is so important. Quick history lesson: Super Bowl winners were 39-9-1 on opening day. Since the advent of the 16-game season in 1978, teams that started 1-0 made the playoffs 52.2 percent of the time, versus 23.9% for teams that began 0-1. Similar trends for Miami. Dolphins at 1-0 have made the playoffs 16 of 26 times (61.5%), versus 5 of 22 times (22.7%) at 0-1. That excludes one season-opening tie, in 1971. Join us back here during the game for a live running commentary.

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:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open 50th season right at Washington: Miami’s season of unusually high hopes and uncommonly buoyant fan optimism opened Sunday with a 17-10 win over a Redskins team seen as not very good. We’ve seen the Dolphins live down to expectations a lot since their last playoff win in 2000. Now we see if they can live up to expectations for a change.

2. HURRICANES: UM surges late past FAU, awaits visit by Nebraska: Canes rallied from a second-half tie to win at FAU 44-20 in Howard Bowl II, leaving many fans displeased. Miami is 2-0, albeit vs. Bethune-Cookman and the Owls. UM's real season starts this coming Saturday at home vs. Nebraska. This is when Al Golden turns down the heat a little, or starts to feel it singe.

3. NFL: Win by Patriots (fittingly) opens King Sport's season: Patriots and Tom Brady won the last game in 2014 and the first in '15, with Deflategate talk book-ending both games but evidently not bothering either. Now we booked the first Sunday of the regular season -- a de facto national holiday in America. By the way, Roger Goodell came out of hiding in Chicago.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Opens ends without a Grand Slam by Serena: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer for men's title Sunday, but the women's side was the talk of the U.S. Open. Serena Williams fell short of sport's first calendar Grand Slam since 1988, but another great story took its place as little-known Italian Flavia Pennetta, 33, won the Open and then retired, redefining "going out on top."

5. MARLINS: Jose's back, but it isn't looking good for Giancarlo: Jose Fernandez won Saturday in his return and is now 16-0 in his career at Marlins Park. With this team though, the news is never all good. As Fish wrapped up homestand Sunday and now hit the road relegated to playing spoilers in a spoiled season, it's looking more and more like we won’t see Giancarlo Stanton again until Opening Day 2016.

6. HEAT: Riley really liking Heat roster as training camp nears: As Miami prepares to open its preseason training camp on Sept. 29, club prez Pat Riley said this week he thinks the Heat has "all the elements of a championship team." Hmm. That would be somewhat of a surprise to Las Vegas oddsmakers, who list Miami as the NBA’s ninth favorite at 40-1.

7. FIU: Hopes for second straight road upset wither in Indiana: After winning at Central Florida to open the season, FIU fell Saturday at Indiana 36-22. Glass half-full: Well, unbeaten for a week is better than not unbeaten for a week.

8. PANTHERS: NHL club to open training camp, exhibition play: Hockey's about back. The Panthers open training camp this Thursday and then play their first exhibition game next Sunday. This season, players swear, they'll make the playoffs. One of these years, by dumb luck, they may be right.

9. LEBRON JAMES: He's back in Miami. Temporarily: LeBron is Miami with several Cavaliers teammates this week for pre-training camp workouts. Heat fans aren’t sure whether to chase LeBron outta town with torches and pitchforks, or kidnap him and beg him to stay.

10. BOXING: Mayweather wins final (?) fight: Miamian Andre Berto lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Mayweather says it was his last fight. The national group, People Who Believe Him, meets tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth.

Missing the HB10 cut: Alex Rodriguez ties Hank Aaron with 15th 30-homer season. A-Rod’s steroids-free comeback year has been a marvel. The downside: Much tougher for me to make fun of him. ... R.I.P., Moses Malone. ... Speculation on the Marlins’ next manager heats up. The front-runner: Anybody but Dan Jennings. ... NBA will henceforth seed playoff teams by their records, not by division finish. The NFL would do that, too, but it makes too much sense. ... NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup begins next Sunday in Chicago, a nine-race tournament leading to the Nov. 22 championship race here. This is 14th year we’ve hosted the grand finale, and I still can’t believe they have it in Homestead. It’s like the NFL putting a Super Bowl in Fargo, North Dakota. ... Just read about something called a trumpetfish. My first reaction? Donald Trump bought a species and named it after himself. ... Reds had a Pete Rose Bobblehead Night on Saturday. The Rose figurine bobbles its head and then places 100 large in the fifth race.

FAREWELL, RANDOM EVIDENCE: Random Evidence, my long-running, fun-seeking Sunday notes column after which this blog was named, ends with today's column (link above). That's because the Herald prefers I instead write a general sports column on Sundays moving forward to coincide with a dramatic redesign that will debut with this Wednesday's newspaper. Part of the notes column still will run on Sundays in print: Our weekly Top 5 list. Many of the other notes I once saved for Sundays I'll now write throughout the week on Twitter or in this blog, so rest assured our followers @gregcote and our blog family won't miss a thing. My innate need to poke gentle fun at Jeffrey Loria and others will not be denied! Meanwhile we'll continue to have the Hot Button Top 10 every Sunday in the blog (sort of our Top 5 list on steroids), and Sunday's Hot List from the paper will become a blog feature starting next week. You got all that!?

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

August 12, 2015

Heat schedule out, all 82 games here; plus new 'Back In My Day' video, Mayweather vs. Rousey poll, Canes hoops, Drone Racing League, Tannehill on SI cover, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins manager search & more

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


1aa1abradyct1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12. Here's why people make fun of courtroom sketch artists. Pictured right is supposed to be Tom Brady in federal court today. 2) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your picks for 10 greatest Hurricanes, Hot Button Top 10, Weighing The Fish & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too. We have a new Periscope up from yesterday's radio show.

Honor for Canes men's basketball: In an indication of high expectation for UM's men's team, ESPN announced today Miami would host two of the network's "Big Monday" telecasts this season: Jan. 25 vs. Duke and Feb. 22 vs. Virginia, both at 7 p.m.on ESPN.

1aa1adroneDrone Racing League! A, because there aren't enough ridiculous sports and B, because Stephen Ross apparently has more money than he knows what to do with: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and his money are behind the new Drone Racing League. Yes I said Drone Racing League. Click here for the details. (Pictured, a young man racing his drone). A co-mingling of Ross' two sporting passions seems inevitable, so watch for it: Dolphin play-calls getting from sideline to huddle via drone. I apologize if I'm droning on. OY!

1aa1aheatHEAT SCHEDULE OUT, INCLUDES CHRISTMAS GAME HERE: Heat released its 2015-16 regular season NBA schedule today, and it opens Oct . 28 at home vs. Charlotte. Other highlights include a Christmas Day home game vs. New Orleans, and visits by LeBron James and Cleveland on Dec. 5 and Mar. 19. Here is the entire schedule:

DATE DAY OPPONENT TIME TV

OCTOBER

28 Wed. CHARLOTTE 7:30 PM SUN

30 Fri. @ Cleveland 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

NOVEMBER

1 Sun. HOUSTON 6:00 PM SUN

3 Tues. ATLANTA 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

5 Thurs. @ Minnesota 8:00 PM SUN

6 Fri. @ Indiana 8:00 PM SUN/ESPN

8 Sun. TORONTO 6:00 PM SUN

10 Tues. L.A. LAKERS 7:30 PM SUN

12 Thurs. UTAH 7:30 PM SUN

17 Tues. MINNESOTA 7:30 PM SUN

19 Thurs. SACRAMENTO 7:30 PM SUN

21 Sat. PHILADELPHIA 7:30 PM SUN

23 Mon. NEW YORK 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

25 Wed. @ Detroit 7:30 PM SUN

27 Fri. @ New York 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

30 Mon. BOSTON 7:30 PM SUN

DECEMBER

3 Thurs. OKLAHOMA CITY 7:00 PM TNT

5 Sat. CLEVELAND 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

7 Mon. WASHINGTON 7:30 PM SUN

9 Wed. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM SUN

11 Fri. @ Indiana 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

13 Sun. MEMPHIS 6:00 PM SUN

14 Mon. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM SUN

16 Wed. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM SUN

18 Fri. TORONTO 7:30 PM SUN

20 Sun. PORTLAND 1:00 PM SUN

22 Tues. DETROIT 7:30 PM SUN

25 Fri. NEW ORLEANS 12:00 PM SUN/ESPN

26 Sat. @ Orlando 7:00 PM SUN

28 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM SUN

29 Tues. @ Memphis 8:00 PM SUN

JANUARY

1 Fri. DALLAS 7:30 PM SUN

3 Sun. @ Washington 6:00 PM SUN

4 Mon. INDIANA 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

6 Wed. NEW YORK 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

8 Fri. @ Phoenix 9:30 PM SUN

9 Sat. @ Utah 9:00 PM SUN

11 Mon. @ Golden State 10:30 PM SUN

13 Wed. @ L.A. Clippers 10:30 PM SUN/ESPN

15 Fri. @ Denver 9:00 PM SUN

17 Sun. @ Oklahoma City 7:00 PM SUN

19 Tues. MILWAUKEE 7:30 PM SUN

20 Wed. @ Washington 7:00 PM SUN

22 Fri. @ Toronto 8:00 PM SUN/ESPN

25 Mon. @ Chicago 8:00 PM SUN

26 Tues. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM SUN

29 Fri. @ Milwaukee 8:30 PM SUN

31 Sun. ATLANTA 6:00 PM SUN

FEBRUARY

2 Tues. @ Houston 8:00 PM SUN/NBA TV

3 Wed. @ Dallas 8:30 PM SUN

5 Fri. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM SUN

7 Sun. L.A. CLIPPERS 2:00 PM ABC

9 Tues. SAN ANTONIO 7:30 PM SUN

19 Fri. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM SUN

20 Sat. WASHINGTON 7:30 PM SUN

22 Mon. INDIANA 7:30 PM SUN

24 Wed. GOLDEN STATE 7:30 PM SUN

27 Sat. @ Boston 3:00 PM SUN

28 Sun. @ New York 7:30 PM SUN

MARCH

1 Tues. CHICAGO 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

3 Thurs. PHOENIX 7:30 PM SUN

4 Fri. @ Philadelphia 7:00 PM SUN

6 Sun. PHILADELPHIA 6:00 PM SUN

9 Wed. @ Milwaukee 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

11 Fri. @ Chicago 8:00 PM SUN/NBA TV

12 Sat. @ Toronto 7:00 PM SUN

14 Mon DENVER 7:30 PM SUN

17 Thurs. CHARLOTTE 7:30 PM SUN

19 Sat. CLEVELAND 7:30 PM SUN

22 Tues. @ New Orleans 8:00 PM SUN

23 Wed. @ San Antonio 8:30 PM SUN

25 Fri. ORLANDO 7:30 PM SUN

28 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM SUN

30 Wed. @ L.A. Lakers 10:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

APRIL

1 Fri. @ Sacramento 10:00 PM SUN

2 Sat @ Portland 10:00 PM SUN

5 Tues. DETROIT 7:30 PM SUN

7 Thurs. CHICAGO 8:00 PM TNT

8 Fri. @ Orlando 7:00 PM SUN

10 Sun. ORLANDO 6:00 PM SUN

12 Tues. @ Detroit 7:30 PM SUN

13 Wed. @ Boston 8:00 PM SUN

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. VS. RONDA ROUSEY, NO HOLDS BARRED. HEY, IT'S FUN TO DREAM: I doubt we'll ever see this fight. I'd bet big on that. Yes, the boxing champion vs. the UFC champion would be a 1aa1afighthuge draw. And, yes, it could work weight-wise if Mayweather (151) dropped and Rousey (135) added. But too many male athletes including Mayweather himself have made too many ugly headlines for domestic violence to imagine that the possibility of a man pummeling a woman in a ring (or octagon) would ever be sanctioned for sport. Rousey keeps keeping the topic alive, though. Just Monday night, in an ask-me-anything chat on Reddit, Rousey was asked if she would beat Mayweather in a no-holds-barred, mixed martial arts-style bout, and she said: "Floyd is one of the best boxers of all time. He would definitely beat me in a boxing match. I unfortunately don't get into 'matches.' I fight for a living. In a no-rules fight, I believe I can beat anyone on this planet. Boxing is a sweet science with strict rules that I respect. But you said rule-less fight, and that's my honest answer." Is she right? Could she beat anyone no-holds-barred even including Mayweather? She is 10 years younger; I'd give her a real chance. What do you think? Remember, this is not asking who you'd want to win, but who you honestly think would win. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': Many know that my Tuesday appearances with the Dan LeBatard Show on radio/TV include a "Back In My Day" segment that has grown quite popular with listeners and viewers. They're on Fusion TV's YouTube channel now, and here is the latest one, from yesterday:

 

WHERE DOLPHINS FALL IN 2015 FANTASY DRAFTING: If you're like Greg's Lobos you are preparing for your fantasy draft. And you may be wondering 1aa1almiller 1aa1asitannhow Dolphins players will be slotted. A good indication comes this week in ESPN.com's annual fantasy draft, based on a 12-team standard league and 16-round draft. Dolphins taken, in order, with round and overall selection: RB Lamar Miller, pictured (3rd round-30th overall); WR Jarvis Landry (7-75th); WR DeVante Parker (7-84th); QB Ryan Tannehill (10-113th); TE Jordan Cameron (10-117th); WR Kenny Stills (12-139th); RB Jay Ajayi (13-154th); Dolphins defense/special teams (15-171st); and PK Caleb Sturgis (16-192nd). Tannehill is pictured (left) on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2016 fantasy issue.

NFL MVP odds: Newly out via Bovada, it's Packer Aaron Rodgers the favorite out the gate at 5-1, followed by Colt Andrew Luck at 7-1. Only others under 20-1 are Viking Adrian Peterson and Texan J.J. Watt both 12-1, and Bronco Peyton Manning at 16-1. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 40-1, tied for 20th.

My Uber driver is a Dolphin: Dolphins defensive tackle A.J. Francis earned extra money as an Uber driver during the recent offseason. No, seriously. Not everybody makes Ndamukong Suh money. Click here for a feature video as ESPN.com's James Walker goes along for the ride. Not sure how much extra money A.J. made. I only hope he gets as much attention for football as he got doing this.xx

JUMP-STARTING MARLINS' MANAGER SEARCH: Worst record in MLB hosts worst record in AL in a two-game 1aa1afish4series ending today at Marlins Park, after Fish won 5-4 in 10 last night. So it's Stinkin' Fish vs. Bostgon Red Sux. Sorry. Truth hurts. I suggest in my latest column that the Marlins' managerial search should be on now, not wait until after the season. If their guy is out there and available -- and many are, including Bud Black and Ron Gardenhire -- why not make the move soon and give the new guy a chunk of this season to learn his team? An experienced manager with a track record is a must after the failed experiment that is Dan Jennings. This season has turned hopeless. Everything now should be about 2016. Click on Look Ahead to read the column in full. Meantime, fans last night received the poster pictured of the Marlins' "Franchise Four," part of an MLB promotion in which fans selected each team's Mount Rushmore. The Fish are Jeff Conine, Gary Sheffield, Mike Lowell and Giancarlo Stanton.

1aa1agoodyGOODBYE, GOODY: Joe Goodman, a Herald sportswriter since 2005 and most recently our main Heat beat guy, is leaving us to write for AL.com in his homestate Alabama. His hunger for college football will be well sated; his love of soccer, not so much. Joe's talented and we wish him well. He and I shared some good times on the road, including a memorable drinking night at New York's wonderful little Tribeca bar, Ward III. Joe and I are pictured at right doing a Heat postgame video. He's the one who's young, handsome and well-dressed.

THE LIST: MNF LONGEVITY: Broadcasters who have had the most tenure in the Monday Night Football booth (on ABC in 1970-05, on ESPN 2006-current):

Broadcaster        Years     Duration

Frank Gifford       27        1971-97

Al Michaels          20        1986-05

Howard Cosell     14        1970-83

Don Meredith       12        1970-73, '77-84

Dan Dierdorf        12        1987-98

Mike Tirico          10        2006-current

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

August 30, 2014

FIU vs. Miami Herald. Who's right in fight? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins cut RB Thomas, D-Wade's wedding, SOPY, U-Bird & more

1) It is SATURDAY, AUGUST 30. Click on Hard Line for my latest column, on the NFL's new policy against domestic violence. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolfan-optimism poll, Upset Bird Countdown, I invented the 'It Factor', Miami facial hair & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1apierrepelicanUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 6 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season 1aa1abird6of NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 6 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following Froot Loops' Toucan Sam), we welcome Pierre the Pelican, the new mascot of the NBA's newly re-nicknamed New Orleans Pierres Pelicans.

Today's only Dolphins cuts you should give a crap about: As Miami pared to reach 53-man roster today, the only truly notable cuts were RB Daniel Thomas (former 2nd-round pick certified officially as a draft bust) and utilityman Marcus Thigpen (who was team's main kickoff/punt returner last year). That means one of my favorite players based solely on his name -- RB Orleans Darkwa! -- made the squad.

Invasion of the Football Sections!: Herald's annual preview sections are now out. My three contributions: Dolphins column (Angel, devil duel for the soul of Dolfans); NFL Ranking (I rate teams 1-32, slot Miami as playoff-bound); and Hurricanes column (search continues for Next Great Quarterback).

BETHUNE-COOKMAN 14, FIU 12: PANTHERS LOSE TO OPPONENT, MEDIA: FIU and second-year coach Ron Turner had enough on their hands tonight in their season opener with Bethune-Cookman, a Division 1aa1afiu
1aa1amiamiherald1AA power. FIU lost, 14-12. Coming off a 1-11 season, the Golden Panthers don't have the luxury of any automatic wins on their schedule. But unfortunately FIU is taking on more than its opponents this football season. It is taking on the Miami Herald in a self-defeating feud that is doing nothing but costing the football program coverage and attention and casting it in a terrible, dictatorial light. Click here for a news story to background you. Long-story short: FIU refused a credential tonight for David J. Neal, who covers FIU for the Herald. The school did approve a credential for a columnist (myself) and a photographer, but the newspaper decided it would send no one to cover FIU football as long as FIU continued to try to dictate that coverage. I strongly support the Herald's decision -- and I hope other media, local and beyond, will stand with us. Who is assigned to cover the team or what stories are written is not FIU's decision to make. Athletic director Pete Garcia evidently is upset with Neal over a couple of stories the school would rather have not seen not written, so he chose a strong-arm tactic from a point of weakness. He entered a battle he could not win. FIU, dying for coverage and attention in the long shadow of UM, has just alienated the only media outlet that regularly covers it. Welcome to the real world, Pete Garcia. Time to put on your big-boy pants here. You think UM appreciated the Herald's 1A story about those two football players kicked off the team over a sexual assault on campus? We cover the good and the bad, the whole program, and Neal does so professionally. What's stunning here isn't that Garcia would make an edict that his underlings -- his football coaches and players -- would be forced to suffer. Garcia's reign has been full of power grabs and strange decisions. The real stunning thing is that none of Garcia's superiors -- no FIU administrator -- has shown the spine (or belief in the First Amendment, or common sense) to stand up to him. Until somebody does, FIU football will wear the shame of this. OK that's my opinion. Time for your's. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Other Collball Week 1 state FBS games: Penn State def. UCF, 26-24; No. 22 Nebraska def. FAU, 55-7; Idaho @ Florida, postponed by lightning/weather; USF def. Western Carolina, 36-31; No. 1 Florida State def. Oklahoma State, 37-31; and (Monday) Miami @ Louisville 8.

1aa1adwadewedDWYANE WADE'S NOT-SO-SECRET WEDDING: The Heat star and longtime girl Gabrielle Union, the actress, are to be married tonight at a secret location that didn't stay secret, thanks to TMZ. The wedding will be at Chateau Artisan (pictured), a castle surrounded by water in Redland in southern Miami-Dade. Guests have been prohibited from bringing cell phones or cameras and have been made to sign a confidentiality agreement promising no media leaks. (I love that the confidentiality agreement was itself leaked to the media). Unfortunately my invitation to the wedding evidently was lost in the mail. It's a shame because I'd planned to present Dwyane and Gabby with a lovely re-gifted fondue pot.

IT'S THE BLOG RETURN OF THE WEEKLY SOPY RANKINGS!: This is the third season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a cumulative weekly updated list of the most productive 1aa1asopyquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. We like to think of this as the "state Heisman." Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Standings are for 12-game regular seasons and exclude conference championship games or bowls, so that all seven teams are on even footing. Here are the final Top 10s from the past two seasons:

2013 SOPY WINNER JAMEIS WINSTON FSU-qb 2,107 points; 2. Blakes Bortles UCF-qb; 3. Jacquez Johnson FAU-qb; 4. Stephen Morris Miami-qb; 5. Storm Johnson UCF-rb; 6. Allen Hurns Miami-rec; 7. Devonta Freeman FSU-rb; 8. Duke Johnson Miami-rb; 9. Rashad Greene FSU-rec; 10. Rannell Hall UCF-rec.

2012 SOPY WINNER STEPHEN MORRIS MIAMI-QB 1,900.5 points; 2. E.J. Manuel FSU-qb; 3. Blake Bortles UCF-qb; 4. B.J. Daniels SoFla-qb; 5. Graham Wilbert FAU-qb; 6. Jake Medlock FIU-qb; 7. Mike Gillislee Florida-rb; 8. Duke Johnson Miami-rb; 9. Latavius Murray UCF-rb; 10. Jeff Driskel Florida-qb.

Look for our SOPY rankings every Monday in the blog. However, our first rankings for 2014 will appear this Tuesday instead because Miami opens its season Monday night at Louisville.

Poll result: Preseason failed to increase Dolfans' optimism: In the wake of a 3-1 Miami preseason we asked in previous blogpost (you may still vote) if you thought the Dolphins would make the playoffs or not, and 61.9 percent said no. We asked the same question prior to the preseason and it was 61.0% no.

THE MYSTERIOUS LURE OF IKEA: The first Ikea furniture and home store in Miami-Dade opened the 1aa1aikeaother day in Sweetwater to absurd fanfare and manufactured media coverage. Here is a conversation I imagine between shoppers as they waited for the doors to open: First shopper--"I'm a huge fan of Ikea. I feel good that the nuisance of assembling my own furniture out of a box allows me the illusion I'm saving money." Second shopper--"I appreciate Ikea because what they sell is a perfect fit for my home's 'Dorm Room' motif." Third shopper--"Yeah, and so what if Ikea's founder was pro-Nazi!?"

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

July 02, 2014

On Garo's biggest fight. The back story; plus was World Cup a success for U.S? Poll. Vote!; also, Dolphins' Jordan suspended, Tannehill ranked & more

1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 3. For those who are asking, my radio appearances on the Dan LeBatard Show are scheduled to resume on Tuesday July 15. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. ousted as World Cup reaches quarterfinals, Heat free agency and Big 3 poll result & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Futblog! World Cup quarterfinals preview coming Friday: Apparently FIFA has decided to continue the World Cup in Brazil to its conclusion despite the elimination of the U.S. The nerve! Watch for our blog's round of 8/quarterfinals preview here Friday morning.

ON THE GARO YEPREMIAN COLUMN: I have a 1A column today on former Dolphin Garo Yepremian's fight with adrenal cancer and a brain tumor. You'd click Garo's Biggest Fight if you haven't yet read it. 1aa1agaroyMy email and Twitter response suggests the story has touched a lot of people. I won't reprint it here (you have the link), except to summarize by saying Garo, the lovable kicker from the '70s, has had a tough life but hasn't lost his spirit. The Garo Yepremian Foundation since 2001 has raised money for brain tumor research and now its founder was himself afflicted with a brain tumor. Can you imagine? The photo is from Garo's 70th birthday on June 2. The wide scar above his left eye is from his brain surgery to remove the tumor. I'd invite you to visit the Garo Yepremian Foundation at yepremian.org. From there you can find its Facebook page, where best wishes may be expressed, and where you'd 'like' the page to get updates on his medical situation and health. I thank the Yepremian family, especially Garo, his wife Maritza and son Garo Jr., for reaching out to me with the honor of sharing their story. I was a novice reporter yoo young to have covered Garo in the '70s but met and spoke with Maritza last August in a Washington, D.C. hotel lobby, the day the '72 Perfect Season Dolphins were being honored at the White House. That casual, chance conversation led to my being trusted to share this story, which is filled with pain and loss but ultimately offers the steady beam of light that is Garo's spirit and will. If my column helps increase traffic or donations to Garo's foundation even a little bit, it will have mattered.

WAS THIS WORLD CUP RUN A SUCCESS FOR UNITED STATES?: The question isn't simple. How do you define "success"? We seem to do so differently in international soccer, where we accept the U.S. is 1aa1aussoccernot top-echelon (yet) and so judge more leniently. The American sports mindset most other places is "winning is everything," but on world-stage soccer we seem to be more OK with stuff like progress and effort. Consider: The Dolphins go 8-8, the epitome of right-in-between, of average, and no fan is happy about that. But the U.S. men reach the round of 16 and advance no further in a 32-team tournament -- also sort of in-the-middle-average -- yet the gut reaction to the eliminating 2-1 loss to Belgium seemed to be praise. We applauded heart and grit as we nominated goalkeeper Tim Howard for sainthood. Are our standards too low? Should we be more demanding? The World Cup was filled with images like the one pictured, but peel away the surrounding patriotism and simply judge the team for its performance, by however you define success, and in whatever context you think is fair. Now that the ouster has settled in ... was this World Cup run a success for the United States? Vote and say why.

Chunk of World Cup coming to Miami: Seventy-six players from 22 World Cup teams (though none from U.S.) will participate in upcoming annual Guinness International Champions Cup, featuring eight top club teams competing across the U.S.: Inter Milan, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, AC Milan, Olympiacos, Real Madrid and AS Roma. Dolphins stadium wil host the champion match Aug. 4.

DOLPHINS' DION JORDAN SUSPENDED: Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan today was suspended without pay for the first four regular-season games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. "We were disappointed," said coach Joe Philbin. Said Jordan: "I tested positive for stimulants that are banned. I take full responsibility for the test results. I’m very sorry for the impact of this situation on my teammates, coaches, Stephen Ross, the entire Dolphins organization, fans and my family."

OY. TANNEHILL RANKED 23RD-BEST STARTING QB: The proving is hardly finished for Ryan Tannehill. 1aa1artannyTwenty-third of 32 starting NFL quarterbacks is hardly brag-worthy, but that's where 26 anonymous "league insiders" rank the Dolphins' QB in a new survey for ESPN. Click here for the full story and list. The usual Big 4 of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers tie for first with a rating of 1.04 each. (So much for Brady's supposed accelerated demise). Tannehill is 23rd overall with a 3.32 rating, and included in the third of four "tiers."

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March 05, 2014

Thu pm 3-6: Two reasons LeBron should avoid Cleveland event; plus WGC/Doral update, Luongo trade, Herald, SI's pimping & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): xxxxx. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Darkness ends incomplete first round at WGC/Doral: Severe weather this afternoon including a tornado warning suspended play at 2:22 p.m. in the World Golf Championship event at Doral, but it play resumed at 4:46 p.m. before darkness ended the round just before 6. Only six of 69 golfers completed the first round. Five golfers will be tied for the lead at 3-under when play resumes Friday morning. Tiger Woods was 2-over, five strokes off the pace.

WHY LEBRON SHOULD AVOID SATURDAY'S EVENT IN CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers are retiring Zydrunas Ilkgauskas' No. 11 jersey Saturday night in Cleveland, and his longtime teammate and good friend 

1aa1alebronbigzLeBron James is pondering whether to attend. He'd like to be there. (The Heat, on the road, are off Friday and Saturday but play in nearby Chicago Sunday). There is zero doubt in mind that LeBron wants to be there for all the right reasons: simply to honor and respect his friend. They're pictured in their one shared season in Miami after seven as teammates in Cleveland. Now here are two reasons LeBron should avoid that event: 1) It would make the night about LeBron and totally take attention away from Ilkgauskas. That's reality. The fan reaction and media coverage would be all about LeBron. 2) It would send the message, whether intended or not, of another olive branch from LeBron to Cavs fans. It would become the latest circumstantial evidence in what will be the increasing debate over whether James might leave Miami in free agency after this season, and where he might go. My solution: Take the day off Friday to quietly visit your friend in Cleveland, LeBron. Have lunch. See a movie. Go through old scrapbooks. Then, on Saturday night, let Ilkgauskas have his spotlight while you're with your team getting rest and preparing for the Bulls.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: PANTHERS' SMART TRADE FOR LUONGO: [Update: Panthers yesterday traded goalie Tim Thomas, 39, to Dallas, a day after Luongo's acquisition made Thomas imminently expendable]. Reacquiring goaltender Roberto Luongo, a Panthers fixture in 2002-06, no doubt is popular with fans, and it's smart -- even though it 1aa1aluongomight not appear to be at a casual glance. At a glance you might wonder why a team out of the playoff race and supposedly forward-thinking would make a trade for a 34-year-old goalie and in turn trade away a goalie, Jacob Markstrom, who just turned 24 and supposedly was your netminder of the future? Here's the answer: Luongo wanted to return here (his wife is local), is playing very well and has several years left. And it had become obvious Markstrom would not be the long-term solution they'd hoped. The Cats stil need to develop that long-term answer, but in the short term they'll have much better goaltending to augment a nuclues of young, rising stars including Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson.

SHAMELESS SHILLING I: MIAMI HERALD SPORTS SCORES IN APSE AWARDS: The annual Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) 1aa1aheraldsportsnational awards announced this week are like the Oscars for sports journalism, and l'm pleased to say the Miami Herald for 2013 was named Top 10 in Daily and Special sections and honorable mention in Sunday sections. No other South Florida paper scored in any of those big-three categories. The Orlando Sentinel (Special sections) was the only other state paper to go Top-10 in any of the three. I'm honored to work on a staff of (mostly) great people led by our executive sports editor, Jorge Rojas.

1aa1aproseSHAMELESS SHILLING II: SI DEVOTES COVER TO PIMPING ITS OWN BOOK: Sports Illustrated's latest cover is on Pete Rose, on the 25th anniversay of his banishment from baseball. OK, fine. Slow news week. (Aside to SI: LeBron had a 61-point game). Not so fine? That the cover is a shameless pimp-job for a new book, "Pete Rose: An American Dilemma," coming out March 11. The author: SI assistant managing editor Kostya Kennedy. Tthe publisher: SI Books.

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