November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, all! A holiday column especially for this world and these times; plus NFL Bird Day predictions & more


1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Happy Thanksgiving, all! 2) I
The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins' bonehead move on Hutton, best-of-unbeatens poll, Dolphins' All-50ers, Heat jersey faux pas, NFL Week 11 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, SOPY standings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.


Happytg          Is it harder to be thankful these days? Because of the way the world has turned? Because so many terrible headlines and sound bites and images from all over make us equal parts angry, depressed or anxious about the future? For those very reasons maybe our gratefulness is more important than ever on Thanksgiving Day 2015.

          We express appreciation on this day for the health and happiness of loved ones or for the bounty of food laid out before us. Give thanks this year for hope, too, and for faith in better days. Give thanks that our fundamental belief in the prevailing good of mankind may be shaken and tested but will not be taken from us. Not ever.

          Give thanks for all of the little stuff that make up the rhythm and pulse of our lives, the things too easily taken for granted. Because the bigger the problems in the world, the more we need that reassurance of the small delights in our own backyard.

          The unexpected courtesy of a door held open and a stranger bidding you good morning.

          The jumble of loving noise in your crowded house as the turkey roasts and a dozen people all talk at once in a quilt of conversations.

          The uncontrollable wag of your dog’s tail when you return home.

          Give thanks for the friend who beat cancer this year. And for the one who didn’t.

          Hug somebody. And if you aren’t a hugger, well … become one.

          Teach your kids that “please,” “thank you” and “I love you” are words that, said enough, have the power to illuminate darkness.

          Marvel that a lump of raw dough blooms into a crescent roll in 12 minutes.

          Notice the way a toddler doesn’t sit on a chair as much as climb up onto it.

          Don’t be too jaded to enjoy all of those cute-baby and funny-animal videos people post on Facebook that your wife constantly shows you as you pretend to roll your eyes.

          Don’t sweat the small stuff — appreciate it.

          Sports in particular challenge our thankfulness because complaint is the currency of most fans. The very nature of sports trades in disappointment more than joy. Doesn’t every NFL season end with one team happy and 31 others something less?

          We’re no different in South Florida, where complaint always seems to gain a higher volume than gratitude. Look around, though. After all, Thanksgiving’s greatest gift to us is not a full belly, but rather an excuse to reboot our optimism.

          The other day Don Shula, flanked by Bob Griese and Dan Marino, was honored during a Dolphins game, the trio representing a 33-year continuum of making Miami nothing but proud. Dolfans frustrated by the present at least can dip into that constant well of what was, the perfect well of cool spring water.

          Give thanks for one of the most exciting minutes in sports: when the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton steps into a batter’s box.

          Give thanks for those five Hurricanes national football championships in a 19-year span more than you bemoan the lack of a sixth. (And how about Jim Larrañaga shepherding a renaissance for Canes basketball!)

          Give thanks for the Heat’s young slam-dunking, shot-blocking savant, Hassan Whiteside, and for all of his promise. And to Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade, for all of their promises kept.

          Marvel that we luck to have two of their sport’s future Hall of Famers — the Panthers’ Jaromir Jagr and Marlins’ Ichiro — end their splendid careers here.

          Appreciate that every year the world’s greatest golfers come to Doral, the greatest tennis players nest on Key Biscayne, the best thoroughbreds race in Hallandale and the greatest NASCAR drivers run at Homestead.

          Be thankful that, though there no longer is an Orange Bowl stadium, the annual Orange Bowl game remains a vibrant tradition that this New Year’s Eve will host a College Football Playoff semifinal game.

          Thanks that old sporting legends like Shula, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Gardnar Mulloy and Howard Schnellenberger are still gracefully among us.

          And gratitude, finally — of course — to you readers of all kinds, but especially to those steadfast old-schoolers out there who still enjoy the soft rattle of a newspaper in their hands.

          The crazier the world may get, the more we are challenged to see the good in it — but that is a challenge we must forever accept.

          I hope the best in your world, like the best in mine, starts with the loved ones around your table on this special day.

          Happy Thanksgiving, all!

BIRD DAY NFL PICKS: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY: The end of bye weeks coinciding with the arrival of Thanksgiving always signals the unofficial start of the stretch run to an NFL season, the time when Fripixplayoff permutations loom into view. That all begins today with Week 12 and the 10th season of Bird Day tripleheaders. At my house, the timeline of football coincides perfectly with our holiday. The early game finds the bird roasting in the oven. The middle game finds us seated and saying grace. And the late game finds me dozing from an overdose of turkey-induced Tryptophan and Miller Lite. Today's theme must be Home For the Holiday, because I like all three home teams, meaning a first loss for Carolina. Click on Thanksgiving Day Gems for the full prediction capsules on all three of today's games.

Poll result: Warriors' perfect start trumps NFL's 2 unbeatens: We asked which of the three major unbeaten teams impresses you most, and it was Golden State Warriors 53.2 percent, Carolina Panthers 26.9% and New England Patriots 19.9%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 11, 2015

The new 'Back In My Day' (coffee) video; plus latest Dolphins All-50'ers, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, Missouri Tigers' biggest win, SOPY standings, thank-you veterans & more


1aaamerflag1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11. Happy Veterans Day and thanks to all who have served, past and present. In case you missed it, click on The Real America's Team for my recent column on the Wounded Warriors Amputee Football Team, which played a team of former Dolphins and local NFL Alumni in flag-football last night at Flanagan High. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed at Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Fins are marking their 50th anniversary by revealing their Top 50 all-time players five at a time in random order. The latest five: Glenn Blackwood, Vern Den Herder, Keith Jackson, Jim Jensen and John Offerdahl. Den Herder and Offerdahl are no-brainers. Glad to see Jensen make it. Blackwood is borderline but I'm OK with it. Surprised by inclusion of Jackson.

The new 'Back In My Day': "Get back to a regular cup of coffee, America!": Click here for the video. Enjoy!

Mizzou: The power of sports when sports has a conscience: Click on Missouri's Biggest Win for today's latest column by me, on how Missouri Tigers football players threatening to boycott games helped topple a university president seen as soft on a racist campus culture.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 9: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams: Pix: One big hit amid overall struggle: We went 7-6 overall and 7-6 against the spread. Had a big hit, 1aacote2 Lobosnailing Colts over Broncos with our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!") and also had Niners-with-points over Falcons, but not enough else went our way. Greg's Lobos / family league: Heartache: Mauled by Bears! Thought I had a win comfortably in hand but lost 133-132 when my opponent got 45 combined points Monday night from Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. Despite 32 from Drew Brees the original Lobos fell to 4-5 and are now one game off playoff pace. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Heartache II: The LeBatard Show Lobos fell to Charlie 114.5 to 114.1 when Philip Rivers failed us Monday night by one agonizing point. We finished our regular season 5-4 and enter next week's playoffs as the No. 3 seed facing No. 6 seed Billy in the first round. MVL was Devonta Freeman with a hollow 21.9 points. Next week will be a real challenge because we've been BBBB -- "Bitten By the Bye Bug."

SOPY: A 3-WAY FIGHT DOWN THE STRETCH FOR 'STATE HEISMAN': The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- is heading down the stretch run in a three-way Sopyfight at this point. However, current (narrow) leader Alex McGough has one fewer game remaining than either challenger now tied for second place. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 11:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W10        Season

1 (1)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         179        1,506.5

2 (3)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             204        1,494

2 (2)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   191         1,494

4 (4)         Alex Gardner, FIU-rb              95         1,152

5 (5)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          152        1,083.5

6 (6)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       78           955

7 (9)          Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          131         916

8 (7)         Everett Golson, FSU-qb          DNP       863.5

9 (--)         Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      116.5      817 

10 (10)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       53         803

Bubble: Will Grier, Florida-qb, 789. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 713. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 287 (Wk6). Note: FIU and UCF have played 10 games each; all others nine.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida (8-1); 2. Florida State (7-2); 3. Miami (6-3); 4. South Florida (5-4); 5. FIU (5-5); 6. FAU (2-7); 7. UCF (0-10).

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 02, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 82.7%; plus UM's (controversial) last-play miracle beats Duke; also, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), message from Society Against Fraudulent Pumpkins & more


1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2. Happy new month! Hope y'all had a safe and fun Halloween. 2) I
The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed by Pats with DSM poll, NFL Week 8 predix, Marlins and Mattingly, Heat begin, FAU's letter for Howard & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

On Loria hiring Mattingly: Click on Trusting The Hire for my latest Sunday column, on Marlins hiring Don Mattingly as their new manager -- which is being formally announced this morning. It seems like a good move. But, with Marlins, everything must be seen through the Loria Lens, which is sort of the opposite of rose-colored.

Hot Button Top 10: Scroll down to find our latest HB10 toward the bottom of this blogpost.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: 82.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 82.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and Csm"somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday night's 30-27 victory at Duke putting UM's season record at 5-3 overall and 2-2  in the ACC. 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 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.

Interpreting the latest results: An 82.7 percent approval, second-highest of the year, seems steep but reflects the euphoria of a wild, last-second, miracle kick-return TD to beat Clemson -- a play appreciated no less by Canes fans because it is controversial, with the ACC suspending the officiating crew. I think the high number also reflects most UM fans feeling good about the coaching change.

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)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Next poll: Nov. 7 (following game vs. Virginia)

G8: HURRICANES 30, @ NO. 22 DUKE 27: MIRACLE WIN ENDS EMOTIONAL WEEK, BEGINS POST-GOLDEN ERA: Final thoughts: At least nine Canes touched the ball on a desperate, lateral-filled, miracle kickoff-return touchdown for a last-second 30-27 Miami victory -- a final-play that withstood an Miracleexcruciatingly long review by the officials. When anybody, anytime, compiles a list of most memorable plays in this program's history, this one will qualify. Wow. Shout-out to Artie Burns for the emotional fuel, playing so soon after the death of his mom. And to QB Malik Rosier, for a stout performance subbing for injured Brad Kaaya. And to interim-coach Larry Scott, miracle-winning his first game since the firing of Al Golden. This will get lost in the crazy win -- a win that keeps UM alive, however remotely, for the ACC Coastal Division crown -- but Miami somehow prevailed despite 23 penalties for 194 yards. Those are ridonkulous totals. That's lawlessness, an egregious lack of discipline. Nevertheless: Miracle win! Maybe it was for Al Golden. Maybe it was for Artie Burns. Maybe it was plain luck and maybe it wasn't. Whatever. Enjoy. ..... Halftime thoughts: QB Malik Rosier has been very good. The defense has been very good. And never underestimate the power of emotion, apparently. ..... Note: I'll be providing live score updates but not a live running commentary. However I'll be back with halftime and postgame observations. ..... Original post: After the week the Canes have had, this game had to be on Halloween night, right? Saturday's 7 p.m. roadie brings us full circle on one of the most tumultuous weeks in UM football history. Started with the stunning 58-0 home loss to Clemson that got Al Golden fired (and replaced Canesdukeby interim guy Larry Scott). QB Brad Kaaya's  concussion in that game will sideline him vs. CanespumpkinDuke. Canes also mourned for cornerback Artie Burns, whose mom died. A different UM player was arrested for domestic violence and suspended. Just a miserable week. A benevolent football god might give 4-3 UM the salve of an upset win here, but it doesn't seem likely against a 6-1, No. 22-ranked Duke squad that has won four in a row and is fighting for the ACC Coastal division crown that once was Miami's goal. Burns has said he plans to play despite his mother's passing, but I'm not sure that emotional lift will be enough. Kaaya's absence is huge. His backup, redshirt-freshman Malik Rosier, has struggled in limited action this season and looked lost vs. Clemson last week after replacing Kaaya. The betting line catapulted from 7 points favoring the Blue Devils to 13 as it became evident Kaaya would not play. Duke might also find itself emotionally drained, coming off last week's 45-43, four-overtime win at Virginia Tech. Miami has dominated this series, leading 10-2 including a 22-10 win last year, but this is a different, better Duke. With Kaaya augmenting the week's emotion, I'd have toyed with an outright upset. With Rosier, I just can't see it. My pick: Duke, 27-16.

Other college Week 9 state FBS games (in chronology; all Saturday):

No. 17 Florida State 45, Syracuse 21: No Dalvin Cook? No Everett Golson? No worries. 'Noles now 7-1 and still fighting to reach ACC title game. Cook should be healthy and back for the big Clemson game next week. Golson should be ready, too -- although the starting QB job may be Sean Maguire's now.

Cincinnati 52, UCF 7: No wonder coach George O'Leary resigned. The now 0-9 Knights might be the worst team in the country.

Navy 29, South Florida 17: Bulls drop to 4-4, see bowl hopes take broadside hit from a Navy ship.

No. 11 Florida 27, Georgia 3: World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party found Gators a scant 2-point fave but running away with it. Impressive. UF maintains hopes of reaching SEC title game. With rumors Georgia and coach Mark Richt might party ways after season, any Canes fans interested in Richt as Golden's possible eventual UM replacement was rooting for exactly what happened.

FAU 31, FIU 17: Told you a home FAU upset would not surprise in the Shula Bowl, and I was right. Owls now 2-6 in a lost season but this is a big blow to FIU's bowl hopes, at 4-5 now.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 1): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Al Golden firing to The Miracle at Duke in a wild, emotional week for UM: Embattled, unpopular coach Al Golden is fired after an unfathomable 58-0 home loss to Clemson. A concussion sidelines quarterback Brad Kaaya. A player’s mother dies. Another player is arrested and suspended. The poor Hurricanes, making so much news for so many sad reasons. Then, that last-play, eight-lateral miracle Saturday night and a 30-27 win at Duke. There is a football god. And, oh, by the way: Canes fans don't care if you or the ACC think it shouldn't have counted.

2. DOLPHINS: Loss at Patriots, Wake injury bring Fins back to Earth: Thud! That was the Dolphins falling back down to reality Thursday night, in New England, after back-to-back rousing wins had made an instant hero of their interim coach. And now sack-man Cameron Wake is lost for the season. On the bright side? Good seats at reduced rates are newly available on the Dan Campbell Bandwagon.

3. HEAT: Miami wins opener, but LeBron delivers reality check: Thud II! An impressive season-opening Heat home win and a big rally to beat Houston sandwiched a Friday night reminder from LeBron James and Cleveland of who’s still boss, at least for now, in the Eastern Conference. Miami’s one-man Swat Team, Hassan Whiteside, had six blocked shots in that game. (“One-man Swat Team.” That’s mine. Patent pending.) 

4. MARLINS: Fish introduce Don Don Mattingly as new manager: Former Yankees great Don Mattingly, who managed the Dodgers the past five years, is being introduced this morning as Miami’s new skipper. Which, given owner Jeffrey Loria’s track record, makes “Donnie Baseball” the Marlins’ latest future ex-manager. Not sure of the odds on how long he’ll last, but Loria’s impatience usually makes the “under” a safe bet.

5. BASEBALL: Royals win World Series 4-1 over Mets: Kansas City beat New York again last night to silence the ballpark in Flushing, N.Y. and clinch the Royals' championship since 1985. KC catcher Salvador Perez was named World Series MVP. That means he has earned baseball's most coveted title: Mr. Early-November!

6. PANTHERS: New and improved or same ol'? Still deciding...: After a strong start Florida has lost five of its past seven games entering a three-game road trip starting Wednesday. Cats are supposed to be better. Playoff-good. Let them prove it, OK?
7. UM HOOPS: "Soft opening" this week for Canes men: Jim Larranaga's guys host an exhibition game vs. Dowling this Wednesday night as they prepare to open the season Nov. 13. Free tickets to anybody who knows who or what "Dowling" is.

8. NASCAR: Gordon headed to storybook finish at Homestead?: As the Nov. 22 NASCAR season finale at Homestead looms, Jeff Gordon -- who is retiring after this season -- on Sunday earned one of four spots to win the season title. Can you say storybook ending? 

9. SHULA BOWL: FAU upsets visiting FIU in annual rivalry: FIU's hopes for a bowl invitation took a big hit in an upset loss at visiting FAU. I know you don't care, but I give a hoot.

10. HORSE RACING: Triple Crown champ Pharoah wins, retires: American Pharoah capped a magical season Saturday by winning the Breeders' Cup by 6 1/2 lengths, and then retiring. Pharoah reportedly will retire to Century Village and beat all the other retired horses in bingo.

Missing the cut: First College Football Playoff ranking due out Tuesday ... Gregg Popovich to replace Mike Krzyzewski as U.S. basketball coach. ... Major League Soccer playoffs ... Abby Wambach retires from U.S. women's soccer team ... Miami FC to play at FIU ... R.I.P., Flip Saunders. Second-greatest Flip after Wilson?

AN URGENT PLEA: STOP THE SCOURGE OF FAKE HALLOWEEN PUMPKINS!: We've all seen them. Your neighbor may have one. It's a beautifully carved pumpkin ... except it isn't. He didn't carve it. It isn't even a pumpkin! It's a machine "carved" fake, a fraudulent non-pumpkin probably made of plastic or, Fakesmore likely, some sort of a Styrofoam-ish conglomeration. The fake pumpkin is un-American, a national scourge, 
and must be stopped. The fakes, as seen at left, may be good enough for the shelves of Walmart or Target, but they are not good enough for the U.S.A., dammit. Reject the very idea. Respect Mother Earth. Buy a real pumpkin, grab a knife or two, get creative, carve it yourself and feel great. And when you run across a fraudulent non-pumpkin, do not be afraid to tell the lazy, corner-cutting homeowner -- but politely! -- that you wouldn't put a fake pumpkin out front any more than you'd serve a beautifully painted papier-mache turkey on Thanksgiving. Thanks for listening. I'm Greg Cote, founder, Society Against Fraudulent Pumpkins (SAFP).

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 28, 2015

Bosh back with double-double as Miami wins opener. How good do you expect Heat to be? New poll. Vote now!; plus Fox Sports' embarrassment, racist Halloween costumes & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28: Condolences to Hurricanes cornerback Artie Burns and family over the passing of his mom, Dana Smith. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Our wild, wild week in sports, World Series predix, latest Dolphins all-50'ers, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, latest SOPY standings, Golden-firing verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

OPENING NIGHT! HEAT USHER IN MIAMI'S 28TH NBA SEASON: Chris Bosh's 21 points and 10 rebounds sparked Miami's 104-94 win over Charlotte tonight. Dwyane Wade had 20 and Gerald Green 19 off the bench -- including 5-for-8 on 3's as Miami made 12 of 20 threeballs. ..... Original post: Into the great unknown we step gingerly tonight at 7:30 as the Heat host Charlotte in its 2015-16 NBA regular season opener in the
Openingnight Dwadedowntown bayside arena. What do we have here is the question. The starting lineup of Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside looks great. But can that unit play as fast-paced as coach Erik Spoelstra likes? Is there sufficient 3-point punch there? Can it stay healthy? All agree Miami should be considerably better than the team that finished 37-45 and missed the playoffs last season. But will better mean a low playoff seed and maybe a first-round advance if that? Or will better mean a top-four seed and maybe a challenge to Cleveland's Eastern Conference reign? The portrait of this Heat team will paint itself. The blank canvas gets its first brushstrokes tonight. Meantime, what do you think is a realistic expectation of how many (of 82) games the Heat will win this season? Not what you hope, but what you honestly think. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

FOX SPORTS' WORLD SERIES EMBARRASSMENT: Long World Series Game 1 last night, Royals winning in 14 innings, but an even longer night for Fox Sports, which lost its power. Fox blames "a rare electronics failure [that] caused both the primary and backup generators inside the Fox Sports production compound to lose power," adding, "The issue was immediately addressed, although it resulted in the audience missing one at-bat during the time needed to switch to MLB's international feed. The on-field delay was due to replay capability being lost in both teams’ clubhouses. We apologize for the interruption and are working to ensure that the remainder of the World Series is broadcast without incident." Sounds like a Fox intern spilled a Red Bull on the console.

Arab Boysoldier

 Mega-retailer Walmart has been goaded to stop selling racist Halloween costumes such as the one pictured right, at the urging of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Walmart also used to sell the Israeli soldier getup at left. Yes, because hatred and tension in the Middle East is not volatile enough. Let's make a joke of it and bring it door to door! 

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 12, 2015

Good news, bad news on Dolphins QB Tannehill; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): MLB screws Marlins on ASG, Riley's big summer, Serena, parade, fireworks, The Donald, Dolfans slammed; also, verdicts on Trump, Jason Pierre-Paul & more


1) It is MONDAY, JULY 13. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) #BoycottArianaGrande. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Pierre-Paul/privacy and Donald Trump/golf polls, Heat sign Stoudemire, Dolphins fans low-rated, Jose stays perfect, Luol Deng's special video & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"LeBron James, featured in the new movie, Trainwreck, hosted a private VIP screening. Based on the title, I assume it's about the Cavaliers’ collapse in the recent NBA Finals?" --Greg Cote

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS ON TANNEHILL IN AFC EAST CONTEXT: Peter King's respected Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) website has a new ranking of all 32 projected NFL starting quarterbacks by writer Andy 1aa1adolqbBenoit and it offers good news and bad news for Miami's Ryan Tannehill 1aa1adol15(pictured) both overall and also in the context of the AFC East. His ranking of No. 15 could be seen as good or bad. That's mid-pack overall, but the synopsis of Tannehill reads, "An underappreciated athlete and good pure passer who has progressed every year in his career." He's clearly on the ascent, and outranks the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton and Jay Cutler. More good news: Two division-rival starters are at dregs-level: Jets' Geno Smith at 27th and Bills' Matt Cassel at a dead-last 32nd. The bad news? Guess who's No. 1? Good guess. Patriots' Tom Brady. Click here for the full rankings.

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. BASEBALL: All-Star Game, Home Run Derby on deck: The 86th All-Star Game is Tuesday in Cincinnati, with no Marlins playing thanks to Giancarlo Stanton and now Dee Gordon both being injured. The Home Run Derby is tonight, though diminished without Stanton and Bryce Harper. The danger in Cincy hosting? Pete Rose runs onto field past security and demands an at-bat.

2. HEAT: Miami adds Stoudemire and Green, shines in summer ball: Another strong week for the Heat as Miami signed veteran forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire and three-point specialist Gerald Green (both cheap) and the Heat’s youth squad finished 5-0 in the Orlando Summer League. Pat Riley hasn’t had a better summer since 2010.

3. MARLINS: Gordon injured, Fish fuming over ASG replacement snub: Jose Fernandez improved to 2-0 since his return from Tommy John surgery (and 14-0 all-time at home) but team slogged into All-Star break with third-worst record in MLB despite two nice wins in a row. Now there is speculation Mat Latos, Dan Haren and others may be traded before July 31 deadline. Oh, and Dee Gordon's injury leaves Miami 0-for-2 on All-Stars who'll actually play, after Gordon was replaced by Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, not Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria. That's a bit too literal on "adding insult to injury."

4. TENNIS: Serena wins fourth straight major, Djokovic tops Wimbledon men: Wimbledon wrapped yesterday with Novak Djokovic beating Roger Federer in a heavyweight men's final. Saturday, Serena Williams completed the “Serena Slam” by winning her fourth major in a row. She beat Garbine Muguruza, who evidently is a rising young Venezuelan even though Greg Cote had never heard of her.

5. SOCCER: America still celebrating women’s World Cup win: The symbolic culmination of last week’s third U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer championship and first since 1999 came Friday with a ticker-tape parade along New York’s “Canyon of Heroes.” There are so many great players on that champions’ roster. Hey, maybe they could loan a few to the U.S. men’s team!

6. FIREWORKS: Two NFL players lose fingers in mishaps: Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (one) and Bucs CB C.J. Wilson (two) lost fingers in Fourth of July fireworks mishaps. It's relentless. NFL players -- along with FSU players and athletes in general -- keep providing lessons in how not to behave.

7. DONALD TRUMP: PGA Tour mulling Trump controversy: The PGA Tour and other golf entities weigh whether to divest from Trump-owned courses (such as Doral) over his comments disparaging Mexican immigrants. One possible solution: Trump avoids that by buying the entire sport of golf.
8. DOLPHINS: Miami fans slammed in new study: 

A study by Atlanta’s Emory University ranked Dolphins fans 32nd — dead last in the NFL — in a “fan-equity ranking” measuring willingness to financially support their team. Um, you don't need a college degree (or study) to know that 30 years between Super Bowl appearances can do that.



9. UM FOOTBALL: Adidas plans uniform unveiling: A

didas plans a lavish VIP party this coming Saturday at trendy Club Liv to unveil the Hurricanes’ new football uniforms. I wish I were kidding. Remember when you didn’t know — or care — who made your team’s uniforms? And that when you said your team “looked good” you meant winning, not sartorial splendor?
10. GOLF: British Open to miss its defending champion: It starts in three 

days at St. Andrews in Scotland, but without defending champ Rory McIlroy, who hurt his ankle playing pickup soccer. Meanwhile Tiger Woods tries (again) for his first major win since 2008. Headline: 'Old Tiger seeks old form on The Old Course.'


Missing the HB10 cut: DeAndre Jordan jilts Mavericks, stays with Clippers. Carnival's Cuba cruises and impact on Micky Arison. Michael Irvin Jr. commits to Canes. NHL Panthers seeks arena lease relief from Broward County. ESPN won't re-sign Keith Olbermann. U.S. men's soccer in Gold Cup. (Who knew we had a men's team, too!?) And the Tour de France enters its final week. First cyclist to pass both the finish line and a doping test wins.

Poll result: Mixed feelings but mostly support for Trump: We asked if the PGA Tour should disassociate itself from Donald Trump-owned courses because of his disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants and it was 56.2 percent no and 41.4% yes, with 2.4% undecided.

Poll result: Blame targets hospital in Jason Pierre-Paul matter: We asked who was to blame for the Giants defensive end's medical records being leaked after his fireworks accident and 54.4 percent blamed both Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital (for leaking) and ESPN's Adam Schefter (for disseminating). But 28.8% mostly blamed Jackson vs. only 8.9% who mostly blamed Schefter. The other 8.0% blamed no one.

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July 04, 2015

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


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

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

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

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

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June 22, 2015

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEIGHING THE FISH (70 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games 1aa1afishweighcumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Weighing The Fish skipped the 60-game edition because we were away on vacation. Here's WTF after 70 games (actually 71 at 30-41; oops again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @50

1  Giancarlo Stanton      344.4    1

2  Dee Gordon                  272.3    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria  218.3   3

4  Marcell Ozuna            209.6   5

5  Martin Prado              201.5   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         162.9    6

7  Christian Yelich        156.8   9

8  Ichiro Suzuki              130.4   8

9  Justin Bour                 129.0   7

10  Michael Morse            91.7   10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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


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!


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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


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 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 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.

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April 05, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Flying Fish, Kentucky's loss, reeling Heat, 7 others; plus who'll win NCAA final? New poll. Vote now!; also Loria, Serena & more


1aa1aeaster1) It is SUNDAY, APRIL 5. Happy Easter, believers, and congratulations, Jesus! 2) Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Final Four, UM/NIT, Jordan tops poll, Heat/Panthers playoff chase, Josh Freeman, Cuban baseball, John Wolin & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Marlins' Jeffrey Loria: I visit with the team owner for my column in today's season-preview section. Many don't like Loria, but will a big-spending offseason help his image? Click on Judging Jeffrey to read.

Serena's dominance: Serena Williams is The Tennis Terminator. She proved it again yesterday at the Miami Open. Click on Queen Serena for my column on Williams and her place in tennis history.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Double doom! Heat drop off pace, Panthers eliminated. Update entering SundayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending down in 9th place at 34-42 (L3) after last night's 99-98 loss at Detroit, 1/2 game from 8th, 1 game ahead of 10th with 6 games left (next tonight at Indiana). Heat playoff likelihood: 60.5% (down 9.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending down (eliminated) in 10th place at 36-43 (L1) after last night's 4-0 loss vs. Tampa Bay, 8 points from 8th with 4 games left (next today vs. Montreal). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.0% (down 0.2) per

HOT BUTTON APR. 5: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Opening Day! High hopes as Fish debut Monday: Major League Baseball opens its season with Cardinals at Cubs tonight, but all other teams take the field Monday. Here is your pump-up music, South Florida: Only the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants have won more World Series since 1997 than the Marlins’ two.

2. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: It's Duke-Wisconsin for NCAA championship: Kentucky and Duke were five-point betting picks in Saturday’s Final Four semifinals but only one of them did their job. For the previously unbeaten Wildcats of John Calipari, that meant yesterday was one and done.

3. HEAT: Loss at Detroit knocks Miami off playoff pace: The blown-lead 99-98 loss at Detroit last night toppled Heat into ninth place in East with six games to play resuming tonight at Indiana. Miami has now lost three straight and six of past eight in a season that has proved to be exciting like hanging on to the edge of a cliff is exciting.

4. TENNIS: Serena wins, men on deck at Miami Open: Two weeks of tennis nirvana in Key Biscayne end with today's Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray men's final, after Serena Williams won Saturday's women's crown with such ease that we won't even mention her poor opponent's name.

5. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from NHL playoff contention: Last night's 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay officially eliminated Florida from race. Panthers may have been most improved team in league this season. Unfortunately, Lord Stanley doesn't believe that close counts.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes lose heartbreaker in NIT title game: The bad news? UM, with two starters out injured, lost to Stanford 66-64 in overtime in the final of the NIT. The good news? We avoid having to cringe with a condescending smile while listening to coach Jim Larrañaga claim straight-faced that his team just won a national championship.

7. GOLF: Masters on deck with Tiger in it: Rory McIlroy is the betting favorite at The Masters this week at Augusta, but as much attention was being paid to Tiger Woods on whether he would play. He will. But it speaks to the shaky state of his game -- battling health issues, and after a long layoff -- that even his fans sort of wished he hadn't.

8. NFL DRAFT: UM Pro Day showcases Canes: NFL scouts raved about the Hurricanes’ talent at UM’s annual Pro Day, notably Phillip Dorsett, who ran a 4.25 40. I don’t wanna says he’s fast, but when Dorsett flips off the light switch in his bedroom he’s under the covers before the room goes dark. Seems the Canes will have a sizable impact on the NFL Draft’s early rounds. That sound you hear is one more excuse for a 6-7 season running away from Al Golden. 

9. DOLPHINS: Fins sign quarterback Josh Freeman: That was after the team gained a court order to exhume the remains of Freeman's career and conduct an autopsy for signs of life.

10. HORSES: Show-jumping competition ends on Miami Beach: A major show-jumping competition concluded Saturday on the sands of Miami Beach. I don’t wanna say those horses are pampered, but an "equine psychotherapist" was on hand. Seriously. Am picturing a typical session. Sad horse sighs as it lays on couch. Psychotherapist: “Why the long face?”

Poll result: You want different, better NCAA Tournament format: This surprised me a bit. I'd have guessed you'd go for the status quo. Instead, 70.3 percent said they'd prefer a tournament with the 64 best teams and no automatic bids for small-conference winners. Only 29.7% preferred it as is.

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