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...

June 02, 2015

Bruce Jenner introduces Caitlyn. What do you think? New poll. Vote now!; plus Sepp Blatter resigns, UM reaches NCAA Super-Regional, Marlins demote Cishek, Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with NBA, Wade, pucks, tennis, horses & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today on radio (3-7 The Ticket Miami and 4-7 ESPN Radio) and on TV (4-7 Fusion). 

Sepp Blatters resigns: FIFA's president resigned today, four days after being reelected, in the midst of a bribery/corruption scandal. "I am the president of everyone," he had said. Now he is the president of nobody. Assumption: Blatter knows the hammer is coming, that he likely is to be imminently indicted in the scandal.

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 2. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade/Heat impasse with poll, UM-FIU feud, Dolphins uniform rank, FIFA verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1acaitlynBRUCE JENNER IS NOW CAITLYN: Former Olympic decathlon champion and Wheaties box cover-boy Bruce Jenner completed his transgender transition to her this week, unveiling Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vogue. This is a lot for many of us to wrap our heads around. There was Chastity Bono (Sonny & Cher's daughter) becoming a man named Chaz. But clearly, Jenner is the most prominent American athlete and celebrity to transgender, at least by my eye. His periphery to the Kardashian clan and all of that attendant tabloid fame makes the story only bigger still. The attention to this is such that Jenner, on Monday, became the fastest person ever to go from no Twitter to 1 million-plus followers, surpassing Barack Obama's record. I'm curious what our readers think of Bruce becoming Caitlyn. I think it takes courage -- balls, as it were -- to do this so publicly, at this age. I say good for her. Now it's your turn. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Canes 21, Columbia 3: Miami Hurricanes had lost at home to Columbia, 3-0, in the NCAA Regional, forcing a winner-take-all game between the teams last night. (Click on The Victim of Charming for my column from that game. I wrote that Columbia University, an Ivy League team, was a charming little story that threatened to crush mighty UM). Last night, though, order was restored, with Miami cruising into next week's super-regional, also here, a best 2-out-of-3 vs. Virginia Commonwealth.

"There are only five people still alive who were born in the 1800s. I wonder who the other four are?" --Greg Cote

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, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. FIFA: Scandalized soccer body re-elects Blatter: Federal corruption and bribery indictments rocked soccer's world governing body, yet unindicted president Sepp Blunder Blatter was re-elected the very same week despite being ultimately responsible for FIFA's messy shame. Imagine if Richard Nixon had won reelection at the height of Watergate? This was that.

2. MARLINS: Stanton blasts awaken struggling Fish: With Cubs in town for three, the Marlins are now 4-9 under new manager Dan Jennings and last night demoted struggling closer Steve Cishek to Double-A to work on his mechanics. But Miami had won two of three at the Mets -- one thanks to four home runs including a pair by Giancarlo Stanton. (Isn't it amazing how much better Jennings seems as a manager when his team hits four homers?)

3. NBA: It's a Golden State-Cleveland Finals, as expected: From the moment playoffs began it seemed inevitable LeBron James and league MVP Steph Curry would meet in the Finals. And they will. Eventually. Game 1 is Thursday night after a full week's delay since the conference finals. Don't worry, Miami. Before long it'll be time to boo and hate-watch LeBron again.

4. HEAT: Wade camp turns up contract heat on Heat: It was reported the Heat and Dwyane Wade are significantly apart on money, and that Wade may ponder leaving in free agency. In other words, Wade's people used the media to put a little public pressure on the team. Few believe Wade actually will leave, but it makes for a neat little diversion while waiting for the NBA Finals.   

5. COLLEGE BASEBALL: UM prevails in must-win, advances: The Miami Hurricanes were in the NCAA Regional championship game in their own ballpark last night and clobbered Columbia, 21-3. Miami is now two wins from advancing past the super-regional, also here, next weekend. Next time the Canes play a road game, it had better be in Omaha.

6. NHL: Stanley Cup Finals set after two Game 7 semis: Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning went the distance to play for Lord Stanley's chalice, beginning with Game 1 Wednesday night in Tampa. (Dear NBA: That's how to stage two exciting semis and get right to a Finals).

7. TENNIS: French Open passes its midpoint: It's now past midpoint of the red-clay major, and looking like No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic could unseat French champion Rafael Nadal on the men's side. In women's half, upset-loss by defending champ Maria Sharapova appears to clear path for top-seeded Serena Williams.

8. HORSE RACING: American Pharoah's moment nears: We are four days now from the 147th Belmont Stakes. More important, we are four days until American Pharoah tries to become first horse since 1978 to win a Triple Crown. This is the year it actually happens. No, seriously. I think. Maybe.

9. WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: U.S. among favorites: Women's soccer owns its quadrennial stage in the month-long World Cup starting this coming Saturday in Canada, with the United States and Germany generally considered co-favorites. FIFA may be shamed, but the game is still beautiful.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins continues offseason OTAs: Miami's second organized team activity (OTA) practice day was Monday. This is all very exciting, for those intensely interested in how their team practices more than three months from the start of the season. You know you're desperate for news when the big story is the kicker being injured and out for a few weeks.

Missing the cut: WNBA season opens. NBA Draft ahead. National Spelling Bee ends in a tie between Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar, who successfully spelled each other's name.

Poll result: Mixed feelings on Heat/Wade contract matter: We asked and 51.4 percent said Dwyane Wade at this point in his career should be satisfied with less money but another 41.8% said Heat should pay him the max for all he's done. The other 6.8% were undecided or unsure.

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

May 26, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Fish, Fins, Finals, Canes baseball, Montoya, Letterman, hockey, soccer, tennis, Heat; plus 50,000 Names: Thank you, American heroes; also, UM/MLS stadium verdict & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami and 4-7 on ESPN Radio and Fusion TV. Ears, and eyes, welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 26. Click on Random for our latest Sunday Random Evidence notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM/MLS stadium discussions with poll, King of Late Night and Kidgate poll results, proctology news & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HOT BUTTON MAY 25: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (a day late this week but updated) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Stinking Fish make bizarre manager change, finally win: The slumping Marlins surprised baseball by prematurely firing manager Mike Redmond and then stunned baseball by replacing him with Dan Jennings, who was the general manager and began 0-5 in his new role before finally winning. Jennings last managed at the high school level in 1980s. No, seriously.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lock up QB Tannehill with long-term deal: The Dolphins will pay quarterback Ryan Tannehill $96 million over the next six seasons in the hopes he makes them a perennial playoff team and even a Super Bowl contender. I think Dolfans are generally happy about the deal, but probably not nearly as happy as Tannehill’s wife, Lauren.

3. NBA: Golden State, Cleveland barreling toward Finals: All of America outside of Atlanta, Houston and Miami is rooting for the Golden State-Cleveland NBA Finals that now seems certain -- Steph Curry vs. LeBron James. Take solace, Heat fans. Even if that happens, it would be first time in five or six years that LeBron would enter a playoff series expected to lose.

4. UM BASEBALL: Canes to host NCAA regional: Miami failed to win the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament but stil was named a No. 5 national seed and will host an NCAA Regional at Ron Fraser Stadium. (Hey. It's my blog. I can call it whatever I want).

5. AUTO RACING: Miamian Montoya wins Indy 500: The 99th running of “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” is the one day IndyCars steal the spotlight from NASCAR, and Miami's Juan Pablo Montoya won Sunday. I was betting on Will Power. Not because I thought he'd win, but because I have a soft spot for guys with ridiculous names that sound like alter-ego pseudonyms of comic-book superheroes.

6. DAVID LETTERMAN: Late-night TV legend says farewell: Letterman didn’t supplant Johnny Carson as the all-time late-night king, never got to host “The Tonight Show” and didn’t often beat Jay Leno in ratings, yet wound up a legend. Proves you can be beloved even if you don’t win the ultimate prize. Just ask Dan Marino. Ouch! Too soon?

7. NHL: High drama in hockey semifinals: Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers are tied 2-2 in the Eastwern Conference and Anaheim and Chicago are knotted 2-2 in the West. Dear NBA: This is how you do drama.

8. SOCCER: Joint stadium for UM football and MLS soccer?: David Beckham wanted a Miami waterfront home for Major League Soccer but couldn’t get one. Miami Hurricanes need a campus football stadium but couldn’t get one. Now the sides are discussing sharing a new venue near Marlins Park. What will it be called? Consolation Stadium?

9. TENNIS: French Open is underway: Betting favorites in Paris are Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. Sort of like in every other tournament anywhere else.

10. HEAT: Tough week for Heat fans: Watching LeBron James roll to another Finals. Pretending to be thrilled over keeping the 10th pick in the NBA Draft. Then seeing no Miami player make the All-NBA first, second or third team for the first time since 2008. Good news? Season's almost over.

Poll result: Cautious excitement over proposed UM/MLS stadium: We asked and 34.5 percent called it a great idea and 28.6% were intrigued enough to hear more. On the negative side, 15.1% were skeptical and 21.8% said "no!"

MEMORIAL DAY, 2015: THANK YOU, FALLEN SOLDIERS: On Memorial Day every year (that's today), America honors its war dead. As a proud, patriotic citizen I am honored to mark the occasion in my blog today. The Revolutionary War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq and right through to today's fight against Islamic State, among many other battles distant and not, America's bravest fight and the casualties continue. Across decades and centuries, across the world, the price of freedom never lets up and never will. I hate that we use the word "heroes" so frivolously, especially to apply to something as inconsequential as sports. This is the day for real heroes. The video below is a song called "50,000 Names," by George Jones. It is about Vietnam and The Wall in Washington, D.C., but it speaks to all of America's war dead, and with appreciation to all of the loved ones they left behind. This is for them. Thank you, today and always!

 

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

May 18, 2015

Dolphins sign Tannehill long-term; plus do you approve of Marlins firing Redmond? Poll. Vote now!; also Jennings new Fish manager, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Garo Yepremian dies, SoFla Super Bowl poll, LeBatard ranked 11th, UM football, LeBron advances, Ted Wells'  mustache, Cote on $2 bill, B.B. King & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NBA Final Four odds: Via Bovada today, Golden State a 4-7 favorite to win the NBA title, with Cleveland 13-5. Longshots are Atlanta at 9-1 and Houston 10-1.

The Garo column: Click on Garo Yepremian, R.I.P. for my latest column.

Dee Train update: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .420 (63-for-150). Last game: 1-for-4 vs. ATL Sunday. Next: Tonight vs. ARI.D

1aa1aryantDOLPHINS COMMIT LONG-TERM TO TANNEHILL: The Dolphins today extended the contract of quarterback Ryan Tannehill by four years, through the 2020 season. Originally under contract for two more seasons, the sides renegotiated a six-year deal reportedly worth $96 million, with almost half of it ($45 mill) guaranteed. The long-term, high-dollar extension is not a surprise, although the timing of when it would occur was not certain. The sides were smart to get it done well  before summer training camp. The commitment and big bucks also increase the onus on Tannehill to lead a playoff season in 2015.

MARLINS NAME GM JENNINGS TO REPLACE FIRED MANAGER REDMOND: [Update: Click on Loria's Wild Ride for today's new column by me, on the Marlins' latest managerial move another sign of owner Jeffrey Loria's impatience and lack of firm direction]. The Marlins, 16-22 and fourth place in 1aa1adanjenthe NL East, fired manager Mike Redmond after yesterday's 6-0 home loss to the Atlanta Braves. Bench coach Rob Leary was dismissed, too. The Marlins were swept by the Braves to begin a 10-game homestand and were almost no-hit, breaking it up with two outs in the ninth. Even more surprising than Redmond's dismissal, the team today announced it has replaced Redmond with its general manager, Dan Jennings (pictured right), who has never managed or coached beyond the high school level. Do you approve of firing Redmond not quite one-quarter into the season? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

HOT BUTTON MAY 17: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. GARO YEPREMIAN: Iconic Dolphin passes away: One of the most beloved and unique characters in club history, the Dolphins' 1970s kicker died late Friday at age 70 after battling brain cancer for about a year. He'll forever be a part of franchise folklore, with only one word required: Garo.

2. MARLINS: Fish, in midst of long homestand, fire manager: Miami is three games into a 10-game homestand and 0-3 after nearly being no-hit Sunday -- after which manager  Mike Redmond was let go. Team is mired in fourth place in division so we accentuate the positive: Dee Gordon, .420. Giancarlo Stanton, 11 homers. Steve Cishek, benched.

3. NBA: Houston completes league's Final Four: Rockets hosted and beat Clippers Sunday afternoon to avance vs. Golden State in Western finals, while it's LeBron James and Cleveland vs. Atlanta in the East. Going to be weird hearing all those "Let's go Hawks!" chants in Miami the next week or two.

4. HORSE RACING: America Pharoah does it again; Triple Crown in play: Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah overcame rain and a muddy track to win the Preakness Saturday, meaning the sport's first Triple Crown since 1978 will be in play at the Belmont in three weeks. This is when Americans who don't know a furlong from a fur coat pretend they're into horse racing.

5. DEFLATEGATE: Patriots, Brady fighting four-game suspension: The latest: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to hear Tom Brady's appeal, the NFLPA says no way, and the whole thing seems headed to a nasty court fight. NFL: National. Football. Litigation.

6. TERRORISM: Boston Marathon bomber sentenced to death: A Boston jury sentenced Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev to the death penalty for his role in the 2013 terrorist bombings. Unfortunately, the over/under on appeals is being measured in years, not months.

7. HEAT: Draft lottery is Tuesday night: Heat has a more than 80 percent chance to have the 10th overall pick. What a difference a year makes. Past four seasons Miami is steaming to the NBA Finals. Now Miami is hoping a bunch of ping-pong balls bounce just right.

8. HURRICANES: UM baseball opens ACC tournament: A terrific regular season has coach Jim Morris' Canes ranked No. 8 nationally and seeded second in the ACC Tournament starting Wednesday in Durham, N.C. UM carries 12-game win streak into postseason. Ending it now would be awful timing, indeed. 

9. NHL: Four still skating in Stanley Cup playoffs: New York Rangers are up 1-0 on Tampa Bay in Eastern finals, and Anaheim is up 1-0 on Chicago in the West finals. Anything seems possible in the NHL playoffs, except, as usual, a Canadian team playing for the championship.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins, South Florida ready Super Bowl bids: Continually passed over lately but with a renovated stadium now in play, South Florida bids to host upcoming Super Bowls at this week 's league meetings in San Fran. This is very important to Stephen Ross and to SoFla tourism officials. Dolfans only care about hosting a Super Bowl if their team is in it.

Missing the cut: Sepp Blatter and the FBI, WNBA suspensions, Isiah Thomas running women's team, ESPN and Bill Simmons, French Open nears.

Poll result: Great disagreement on importance of Miami hosting a Super Bowl: There was close to an even split between those who thought it was "very important" Miami host a Super Bowl (39.3 percent) and those who thought it was not important unless the Dolphins were in it (38.1%). The other 22.6% called hosting "somewhat important."

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

May 11, 2015

Brady suspended 4 games, Pats forfeit 1st-round pick!; plus Dolphins now East favorites?; also Heat draft prediction, new 'Weighing The Fish', Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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


1) It is MONDAY, MAY 11. Hope you good moms out there had a happy Mother's Day. Especially to my own mom in Vero Beach and to my wife and wonderful mother to our two sons. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Deflategate findings with poll, A-Rod's milestone with poll, Dolphins lose Collins, '16 mock draft & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

BREAKING NEWS: BRADY SUSPENDED 4 GAMES!: Tom Brady is suspended the first four games of the coming season and the Patriots are made to forfeit a first-round draft pick as NFL hands down "Deflate" punishment today. Club also fined $1 million and made to forfeit a fourth-round 2017 pick as well.

1aa1adekkerHeat draft prediction: Jeff Goodman's latest NBA mock draft for ESPN.com today predicts Miami will select Wisconson small forward Sam Dekker 10th overall. Dekker (pictured) is 6-9 and 230. Goodman's synopsis of the pick: "The Heat need to hit a home run here, and Dekker showed the potential with his play in the NCAA tournament. He's long, athletic and displayed a mental toughness with huge games on the sport's biggest stage. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng aren't spring chickens. This team needs some fresh legs to go along with Hassan Whiteside."

The heat in Redmond's seat: New first-manager-to-be-fired odds via sportsbettingdime.com show Miami's Mike Redmond tied for fourth in line at 6-1. Only shorter odds are Mariners' Lloyd McClendon at 7-2, and Indians' Terry Francona and White Sox's Robin Ventura both 4-1.

AFC EAST FAVORITES? DOLPHINS MAKING POST-DRAFT, DEFLATEGATE-RELATED LEAPS: The Dolphins leap four spots -- 19th to 15th -- in ESPN's latest post-draft NFL rankings out today, tied with Baltimore (11th to 7th) for the biggest jump. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Patriots hold steady at No. 2, Bills fall 1aa1adolphinleapingone spot to 18th and Jets bump up two spots to 25th. (Top five is Seahawks, Pats, Packers, Broncos and Colts). Of even greater interest, the respected ESPN partner website Football Outsiders is projecting/predicting both New England and Miami for 11-5 records and says Dolphins will be division favorites if imminent Deflategate penalties show a significant suspension for QB Tom Brady. Here is FB-O's take not even factoring in a Brady suspension: "Your hot sleeper Super Bowl contender for 2015 is the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots run away with the AFC East year after year, but our early projections suggest the defending champions will finally get some serious competition in their own division this year. We're high on the 2015 Dolphins because the 2014 Dolphins were essentially a good team dragged down to 8-8 by dismal special teams and a difficult schedule. However, special teams are less consistent from year to year than offense or defense, which means the Dolphins are likely to be a lot closer to average in that area in 2015. And like the rest of their division, the Dolphins also get an easier schedule this year."

WEIGHING THE FISH (30 GAMES): We throw the occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this 1aa1afishweigh 1aa1adeegyear we debuted a new feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Nine qualify for our third ranking. WTF is cumulative and factors six offensive categories. It serves 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 season or is hot/cold. Weighing The Fish after 30 games (actually 32, at 15-17, because we were asleep at the wheel), with current leader Dee Gordon pictured:

Rank Player                          WTF#      @20

1    Dee Gordon                         170.3      2

2    Giancarlo Stanton            163.1      1

3    Adeiny Hechevarria        140.4      3

4    Martin Prado                     124.7      4

5    Marcell Ozuna                   120.7      6

6    Ichiro Suzuki                      92.2      7

7    Michael Morse                    83.4      5

8    Jacob Realmuto                 75.4      8

9    Christian Yelich                 51.3      9

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. DEFLATEGATE: Pats, Brady await punishment after Wells Report: “Deflategate” probe found Patriots and QB Tom Brady bearing “probable” guilt related to under-inflated footballs in AFC title game. Don Shula this week noted, "We didn’t deflate any balls. We always tried to live by the rules." Every retiree needs a hobby. Shula's apparently is needling Bill Belichick.

2. MARLINS: Gordon-led Fish continue on 10-game trip: Miami moves on to L.A. now after last night's Steve Cishek blown save at San Fran. Story so far has been Dee Gordon leading majors with a .439 batting average — 62 points better than anyone else. Might he become baseball’s first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941? Hey, somebody had to defy the jinx superstition and finally say it!

3. DOLPHINS: Busy week includes free-agent loss, rookies, celebration: Fins lost out on heavily wooed free-agent tackle La'el Collins, who signed with Dallas, then held a rookie minicamp that featured all seven recently drafted players. Miami also announced season-long plan related to club's 50th anniversary season. Dolfans need only one celebration: A bleepin' playoff win, please!

4. NBA: Cavaliers tie it as LeBron plays hero: Clippers seized a 3-1 series lead over Houston and Cavaliers tied Chicago 2-2 Sunday on LeBron James' last second-winning shot. No team still alive has won an NBA title since 1998 in what has been one of league’s most unpredictable seasons in years. Still liking Cleveland and Golden -- LeBron vs. Steph Curry -- as the most predictable Finals.

5. ALEX RODRIGUEZ: A-Rod passes Mays on career home run list: Alex Rodriguez’s 661st career homer Thursday night at Yankee Stadium passed Willie Mays for fourth on all-time list, an achievement diminished, of course, by A-Rod’s steroids history. Don’t mean to stigmatize him, but instead of the number 13, shouldn't the back of his uniform have a giant asterisk?

6. GOLF: Fowler wins TPC Sawgrass near Jacksonville: Rickie Fowler won in a playoff Sunday while Tiger Woods sputtered home tied for 69th. Tiger endured a recent breakup with girlfriend Lindsay Vonn but already seems over it. Just saw him walking into his favorite store, Blondes ’R Us.

7. ESPN: Network parting ways with Bill Simmons: ESPN said it won’t renew Bill Simmons' contract amid speculation a big reason is his continuing outspoken animus against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. I love the media saying what a major blow this will be to ESPN. "Um, I think we’ll get by," said the $51 billion network.

8. BOXING: Fallout from the big fight continues: The fallout from Floyd Mayweather's uninspiring win over Manny Pacquiao includes includes class-action lawsuits against Pacquiao for not disclosing his shoulder injury. Pac Man was hurting that night. But not as much as the suckers who spent $100 to watch the borefest on pay-per-view.

9. NHL: Conference semis reaching crescendo: Chicago and Anaheim are in, Tampa Bay can clinch Tuesday, and the Rangers host a Game 7 vs. Washington on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Canada is planning a candlelight vigil for the anticipated continuation of its Stanley Cup drought.

10. HORSE RACING: Countdown 5 days 'til Preakness Stakes: Meaning we have less than a week left to pretend that Kentucky Derby winner American Pharaoh will break horse racing’s near-40-year Triple Crown drought.

Poll result: You want Brady suspended minimum of four games: We asked what would be a fair Deflategate penalty for Tom Brady and a narrow majority of 50.4 percent said a suspension of four or more games. Then it was 17.2% for no suspension, 16.9% for two games, 8.4% for three games and 7.1% for one game.

Poll result: You'd have cheered A-Rod, but feelings are mixed: We asked if you'd have cheered or booed Alex Rodriguez's home run that passed Willie Mays, and it was 50.4 percent cheered, 34.3% booed and 15.3% undecided.

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

May 02, 2015

Grade the Dolphins draft: Poll. Vote now!; plus Super Saturday: Mayweather-Pacquiao (with poll), 7th Cane drafted (2nd in nation), American Pharaoh, NBA Game 7, NHL playoffs, A-Rod & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 2. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft DeVante Parker with poll, my Mock Draft and results, Giancarlo Stanton in GQ & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

GRADE THE DOLPHINS 2015 DRAFT: I know, I know. Can't properly grade it 'til 2017 or '18 yadda yadda yadda. I get it. I hate the idea of instant analysis as well. But! Fans are still allowed to have an overall 1aa1acard 1aa1acardlogogut feeling on how it went -- on whether and how their team seemed to address its needs with players that provide optimism. So how'd the Dolphins do, Dolfans? Consider the bounty: Louisville WR DeVante Parker (1st round), Oklahoma DT Jordan Phillips (2nd), Arizona State OG Jamil Douglas (4th), Memphis CB Bobby McCain (5th), Boise State RB Jay Ajayi (5th), Minnesota S Ced Thompson (5th) and Michigan State WR Tony Lippett (5th). That's four on offense, three on defense, with position needs fairly well met. Phillips in the 2nd round seems the one possible red flag. Anyway, you've Googled the names, heard the Kipers and Grudens weigh in. Now it's your turn. How does Miami's seven-player draft class, weighted incrementally from top to bottom by round, make you think the Fins did overall? How do you feel? OK now give that feeling a letter grade that best reflects your gut reaction to how Miami did. Vote and say why.

1aa1asupersatSUPER SATURDAY: The single greatest day in sports history? Oh hell. Why not! Mayweather-Pacquiao. NFL Draft. Kentucky Derby. An NBA playoff Game 7. Stanley Cup action. Yanks-Red Sox and A-Rod. Um, anything else we can do for you? Enjoy...

 

1aa1amaypacMayweather-Pacquiao: Fight of the Century: Years in the making, the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquaio mega-fight late tonight in Las Vegas is expected to set pay-per-view records and is boxing's most anticipated bout in a long time. "Fight of the Century" fits, albeit a mere 15 years in. Might Mayweather (47-0) finally lose? Seeing that answer unfold is the main draw for many, me included. I sense that most are rooting for just such a comeuppance for Mayweather, but I may be wrong. Your poll results will tell me. This is not who you think will win, but who you hope wins. Betting interest aside, who do you want to win? Vote and say why.

1aa1adolparkNFL Draft: Big hit, big gamble go 1-2 for Dolphins: Rounds 4 through 7 wrap it up today, meaning your team will now be drafting guys you've probably never heard of. Even Mel Kiper Jr. might be faking it. The Dolphins hit big with WR DeVante Parker in the 1st round, gambled big with DT Jordan Phillips in the 2nd and had no 3rd rounder. Dolphins today picked Arizona State G Jamil Douglas in 4th round, Memphis CB Bobby McCain in 5th, Boise State RB Jay Ajayi in 5th, Minnesota S Ced Thompson in 5th and Michigan State WR Tony Lippett in 5th. That's it. No more Miami picks. Meanwhile seven Hurricanes joined the NFL: OT Ereck Flowers (1st round to Giants), WR Phillip Dorsett (1st to Colts), LB Denzel Perryman (2nd to Chargers), TE Clive Walford (3rd to Raiders), RB Duke Johnson (3rd to Browns) and, Hurricanes today added OG Jon Feliciano (4th to Raiders) and DE Anthony Chickillo (6th to Steelers). UM's seven draftees were second in nation, trailing only Florida State.


1aa1aamerpharKentucky Derby: American Pharaoh wins:
 "Hey remember me? I know y'all are consumed by the NFL Draft and the big fight, but I'm the Kentucky Freakin' Derby!" American Pharoah (pictured) at 13-5 was the betting fave for today's kickoff race to the Triple Crown season -- and showed why with a late finish from third to the win. I had a parochial rooting interest in Florida Derby winner Materiality at 14-1. Terrific race minted by a great finish. And they're off! Now we wait to see if Pharaoh will be the one to end the Triple Crown drought.

1aa1aclipspurNBA playoffs: Game 7 treat: Seven of eight first-round series are completed, most lopsidedly. Tonight completes the lpuzzle with San Antonio Spurs at L.A. Clippers in a Game 7. A rare treat, Game 7s. Do the old Spurs have one last hurrah in them or does tonight signal the end of their dynastic run? Delicious!

1aa1anyrStanley Cup playoffs: Pressure on Rangers: The four conference semifinals are underway, and in today's only game the New York Rangers hosted Washington today needing a win, and getting one, 3-2. Many see NYR as the Stanley Cup favorite but that might have changed if Rangers hadn't evened the series 1-1 today.

1aa1aarodMLB: Eyes on A-Rod: A Yankees-Red Sox series still pulses as baseball's best rivalry, but this weekend's series is extra special. Alex Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth all-time in career home runs last night but was homerless today. His passing the Say Hey Kid will be dubious, a tainted honor given A-Rod's steroid history. Would Bosox fans treat the historical moment with respect or boo? One more reason to watch.

Poll result: Y'all love Dolphins' DeVante Parker pick!: Rarely do we get this much consensus in a blog poll, but 71.6 percent said they "loved" Miami drafting WR DeVante Paerker NO. 1 and 22.3% said they "liked" it. That 93.9% approval rating left only 6.1% voting "so-so," "disliked" or "hated."

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

April 26, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 20, 2015

Trust Pat Riley ... except when he says he's made peace with LeBron. My new column; plus what should Dolphins target in draft? Poll. Vote now!; also Hot Button Top 10 (updated), 4/20, your pick for NBA title & more

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

1aa1aapril4201) It is MONDAY, APRIL 20. It's 4-20, the unofficial national holiday when marijuana devotees celebrate their love of cannabis by smoking weed ... just like they do every other day of the year, but with a tad more ceremony today. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA playoffs preview and poll, Weighing The Fish (10 games), Dolphins preseason & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

TRUST PAT RILEY ... EXCEPT WHEN HE SAYS HE'S MADE PEACE WITH THE WAY LEBRON LEFT: My column off today's Riley postseason State of the Heat news conference is now posted online and you'd click In Riley We Trust to read it there. We posted it in advance here in its entirety, including an interesting, barely disguised shot at LeBron James, a passage underlined for emphasis below. The photo is by me from the news conference:

1aa1arileyme      Pat Riley just turned 70. His hair has gone a natural silvery gray. He is at a point, in life and career, when a man begins to hear his mortality clock ever louder, to a point that reminders from elsewhere are neither required nor appreciated.

      "People always are trying to make me older than I am," he mused with a small smile Monday in his annual season-ending State of the Heat news conference. "They’re trying to ask me, ‘Why are trying to stay around this game?’ I love the game. I love competition. I love the challenge of building this team again."

      Riley is an NBA lifer in his 46th year in the league, and planning for his 21st season in Miami. He may be a newly minted septuagenarian, but he is convinced he has another championship ring -– at least one more -– in his future.

      Do you doubt him?

      We don’t trust much in South Florida sports or have a lot of faith right now, do we?

      We don’t trust Jeffrey Loria owning the Marlins.

      We have doubts about Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

      We see Panthers hockey forever trying our patience.

      We feel eroding confidence in Canes football coach Al Golden.

      There isn’t a lot at the top of our sports marquee that has earned our unequivocal trust.

      But Riley has.

      By his tenure and titles, by his track record, the wily Silver Fox has earned every confidence that the injury-marred, playoff-less season just past was a blip, an outlier. In the triumvirate of Riley, owner Micky Arison and coach Erik Spoelstraa, the Heat continue to be the unrivaled model for Miami sports.

      "I challenge myself more than anybody else," he said, "to make sure what happened this year doesn’t happen again."

      Do you doubt he is up to the challenge?

      One year earlier, though in June, after Miami’s loss in the NBA Finals, Riley’s theme had been to pointedly challenge LeBron James to stay, saying, "You have to stay together if you got the guts. You don’t find the first door and run out of it."

      Twenty-two days later James found the door marked ‘Cleveland’ and ran out of it.

      Monday, Riley obviously was alluding to James and the timing and manner of his departure when he referred to having "no more smiling faces with hidden agendas" to deal with this time. Pressed on that he attempted a fast back-track by saying he could have meant "anyone across the board," though it was obvious who he meant.

      I later asked Riley directly if he is at peace with the way James left.

      "Yes, absolutely," he said. "I’m at peace with it."

      I think he was being smarter than he was truthful. In any case Riley is wise to set aside if not bury the LeBron animus, at least publicly, and portray a man not lamenting, but looking forward.

      There is much to look forward to.

      Center Hassan Whiteside, forwards Chris Bosh and Luol Deng and guards Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic -– that is a starting five you can win with. With good health, and added depth including another 3-point shooter or two, that is a starting five you can contend with.

      "You would like to have seen that team intact for just one game," Riley said. "We didn’t get to see that. It was a real disappointing year in terms of setbacks."

      Riley portrayed being able to re-sign Dragic as a near-certainty.

      "If he doesn’t sign, my ass is going to be in that seat next year and I’ll be writing," he joked, pointing at reporters. "We’re in a very good position to offer him more than anybody else."

      Dragic and Bosh are all-star caliber. So, still, is Wade, who has shown an ability to offset advancing age with efficiency. Whiteside could become a powerhouse, what Riley called "a formidable presence in the offense." Deng is the selfless do-it-all guy every team needs. The return of Josh McRoberts to the rotation will be big. Guys like Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem still fill a valuable role.

      There is little doubt that Miami –- even with all of the injuries and Bosh’s blood clots and the 30 different starting lineups -– still should have made the playoffs but for a late swoon.

      "I told Eric [Spoelstra] to go beat himself up for a week," Riley said, maybe half-kidding. "And if he didn’t want to, I’d help him."

      Riley remains a huge Spoelstra supporter and believer, but also an enormous asset.

      "I’ve been in that trench before," as Riley put it. "I see everything. He knows I see everything."

      The club’s president and architect has seen enough, and accomplished enough, that Heat fans should have little doubt he’ll see this franchise back into the playoffs next season, and soon back into championship contention.

      It is hard to not have doubts about many of our biggest South Florida sports teams right now.

      It is hard to trust and have faith in who is in charge and leading those teams.

      Pat Riley makes it easy.

1aa1adoldraftWHAT POSITION SHOULD DOLPHINS TARGET IN FIRST ROUND?: It's the night of April 30. Dolphins are on the clock at No. 14 in the first round. There are comparably talented and rated players available at the positions Miami has targeted. So, what to do? Wide receiver seems to be the position earmarked for Fins in a lot of early mock drafts and analysis. It's a glamour position -- though also won pretty well-stocked, by my eye. Would cornerback or linebacker be a smarter option? (Yes, guard also is a need, but no OG is seen as 1R-worthy this year). So you tell me. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Warriors, then Spurs your pick for NBA title: Golden State (37.3 percent) and San Antonio (31.6%) dominated third-place Cleveland (15.3%) when we asked who'd win the NBA championship. Hmm. Anti-LeBron bias, perhaps? Atlanta was a distant fourth with 6.2%.

HOT BUTTON APR. 19: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, newly updated. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NBA: No Heat, but NBA playoffs begin anyway: With Dwyane Wade and Miami on outside for first time since 2008, NBA playoffs began this weekend with LeBron James’ Cleveland and Steph Curry’s Golden State the betting co-favorites and both off to 1-0 series leads. Meantime, Miami somehow lost its playoff spot to Boston and Brooklyn even though it was 7-1 against them. "SMH," said Heat fans, shaking their heads.

2, MARLINS: Fish swept by Mets, rough start to season tests optimism: Dee Gordon is way-hot and Giancarlo Stanton set the club record for career homers, but little else has gone right in team's 3-10 after Sunday' loss and sweep by Mets. Miami doesn't play today. The ways things are going, Marlins will lose the off-day.

3. DOLPHINS: Fins ponder options as NFL Draft nears: Countdown is 10 days now until first round, with speculation growing that Miami likely will take a receiver or cornerback 14th overall. Then again, there also looms the anticlimactic possibility of a trade down.

4. LEGAL SYSTEM: Ex-Patriot Hernandez guilty of murder: Aaron Hernandez will serve life in prison, after jurors said they were “shocked” defense lawyer James Sultan admitted Hernandez witnessed the murder even though no testimony or evidence had placed him at the scene. Opposing defenses were seldom a problem for Hernandez, but apparently his own defense was.

5. NHL: Stanley Cup playoffs start without Cats (again): The hockey postseason is underway, and many experts see the New York Rangers as favorites to win their first Stanley Cup since 1994. That was one year after a team from Canada last won it all, a now-22-year drought for the birthplace of hockey. Modified national anthem to play at arenas during playoffs: Oh No, Canada.

6. BOSTON MARATHON: Iconic race is Monday, two years later: The 119th running will be today for the race struck by the 2013 terrorist bombing that killed three and wounded 264. The sentencing for convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins Tuesday. Is it too late to invent a sentence worse than death?

7. POLITICS: NBA visits Cuba this week: NBA will conduct a developmental camp in Cuba this Thursday through Sunday. That's against the Heat's wishes, on the face of it, although Micky Arison's Carnival cruise line would benefit greatly from an open port and tourism in Cuba.

8. GOLF: Next Tiger? Spieth wins Masters, electrifies sport: Jordan Spieth, 21, impressively won the Masters and immediately I saw a poll asking whether Spieth would shatter the record by surpassing 20 career major wins. Tap brakes, please. Talking 20 majors after No. 1 is like mentioning the Cy Young Award on Opening Day after the pitcher retires the side in the top of the first.

9. PANTHERS: Florida slotted for 11th pick: NHL draft lottery determined the Panthers will select 11th in the draft they will host in Sunrise on June 26, after the league rejected Florida's proposal that, this year only, the draft host gets the overall No.1 pick.

10. FIU: Golden Panthers wrap spring practice: FIU, seeking its first winning season since 2011, drew a couple of hundred fans for its Spring Game, which was only about 99,000 fewer than Ohio State.

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

April 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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January 25, 2015

Which is the best (or least bad) of sports' Big 4 All-Star Games? New poll. Vote now!; plus new Hot Button Top 10, verdict on D-Wade & more

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 25. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Is-Dwyane Wade-still-elite poll, Marlins sign Ichiro, Riley descends from mount, Marino dipped in wax, Bob Dylan & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

OUR LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH ALL-STAR GAMES: The NFL and NHL play their annual all-star games today and the NBA's is soon so this is the right time to ask which of our Big Four sports' all-star games 1aa1anflpb 1aa1amlbasg 1aa1anhlasg 1aa1anbaasgyou think is the best -- or, perhaps, the least awful. They all are flawed, which is why the formats are always tinkered with. We spend a lot of time complaining about the selection process. The games don't draw great TV ratings. Each is decorated with surrounding events (home run derbies, slam-dunk contests) because the All-Star Game itself is not a great sell on its own. Nevertheless, chances are you think one if better than the rest. So which is it and why? Remember, this is not a favorite-sport poll. It is asking specifically which one has the best All-Star Game. Vote now.

Poll result: Mixed views (but doubts) on whether Wade still "elite": We asked in the previous blogpost if Heat star Dwyane Wade, at 33, remains an "elite" player by however you define that (you may still vote), and it was 51.6 percent "no," 40.1% "yes" and 8.3% "undecided."

HOT BUTTON JAN. 25: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NFL: "Deflategate” dominates buildup to Super Bowl: It’ll be New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks next Sunday in the 49th Super Bowl, but the buildup has become an NFL nightmare with the Pats’ underinflated-footballs controversy. At least attention is diverted away from whether Marshawn Lynch will be fined again for grabbing his crotch. So from either angle, it's all about balls!

2. HEAT: Wade’s streak of All-Star Game starts ends: Forbes surprised many when its rank of best NBA fans had Miami No. 1. That was just before Heat fans allowed Dwyane Wade’s streak of nine All-Star Game starts in a row to end as a late flurry of votes by Toronto fans pushed Kyle Lowry ahead. No word on whether Forbes will now reconfigure its fan rankings.

3. MARLINS: Active offseason continues as Fish add Ichiro: With the Feb. 20 start of spring training looming, the Marlins continued an active and successful offseason by signing 10-time All-Star Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year contract as a fourth outfielder. Granted, Ichiro is 41 now and this signing would be more exciting if it were 2005, not ’15. But still!

4. ALL-STAR GAMES: NFL, NHL stars showcased Sunday: Hockey’s All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, and football's Pro Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, have more in common than the fact both are being played Sunday and each has undergone format changes. For example, they are also alike in that the leagues act like they are big deals but fans don’t care all that much.

5. RUNNING: Annual Miami Marathon stampedes from downtown: OK, you got me. Nobody is talking about this except the runners themselves. But there were some 25,000 of those setting off early Sunday in the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon starting at 6:15 a.m. Too bad it’s not in South Beach so the runners could stampede over all the drunks leaving SoBe clubs at about that time.

6. DOLPHINS: Ross touts stadium renovations: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pimped a $350 million stadium renovation designed to attract Super Bowls and other biig events. Dear Steve: The only change in the stadium Dolfans care about is a winning team in it.

7. HURRICANES: Former player donates $1.6 million: UM men's basketball won a big game at Syracuse but a bigger story off-the-field was ex-Canes football star Calais Campbell donating $1.6 million to school's athletic department, biggest gift ever by a former UM athlete. Perpetually complaining, dissatified Hurricanes fans said it wasn't enough.

8. BASEBALL: Manfred takes over as MLB commissioner: Rob Manfred is on the job as of Sunday as Bud Selig retires. Selig had a great run other than the Steroids Era happening under his nose. Much as Nixon was a pretty great president other than Watergate. 

9. GOLF: Allenby, Woods in strange controversies: Robert Allenby claimed he was beaten, robbed and dumped in a park six miles from a bar, but his story unraveled. Tiger Woods claimed he lost a front tooth to a swinging TV camera but nobody seemed to believe that, either.

10. FIU: Veteran coach Russo retires: Cindy Russo retired after 36 years as FIU's women's basketball coach. Perspective? That's 10 years longer than that slacker Don Shula coached the Dolphins.

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