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 03, 2015

Ndamukong Suh arm-wrestles Warren Buffett (with video); plus Kiper's grade/analysis of Dolphins draft and note on Mel Kiper Sr.; also latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Fins, big fight, Marlins, hot horse, Cavs-Bulls, drafted Canes & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 4. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Grade-Dolphins-draft poll, Super Saturday with Mayweather-Pacquiao and poll, NFL Draft, Kentucky Derby, NBA Game 7 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NDAMUKONG SUH ARM-WRESTLES WARREN BUFFETT: No, seriously. The Dolphins' behemoth defensive tackle was in Omaho on Sunday and arm-wrestled 84-year-old billionaire Warren Buffett, live, on CNBC, the business channel. The odd couple are friends who met through former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. I can hear Dolfans railing now, "Oh so this is why he can't be at the Dolphins conditioning program!" Two things. 1) It's a voluntary conditioning program in early May. 2) Ndamukong Suh is the very last member of this team whose conditioning or performance should be the subject of any concern.

 

KIPER GRADES DOLPHINS DRAFT 2ND-BEST IN AFC EAST: Dolfans graded the Dolphins draft a "B" (see poll results just below), and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. (pictured) agrees. His team-by-team draft grades today include these for the AFC East quartet: Jets A-minus, Dolphins B, Patriots B-minus and Bills C-minus. 1aa1amelkiperjrKiper on Miami's seven-man haul: "The Dolphins had one of my favorite picks of Round 1, and they didn't have to move to get their guy. DeVante Parker has the chance to be special and fills a clear need for them. I could have seen him going with any of the four picks ahead of Miami -- St. Louis, Minnesota, Cleveland and New Orleans -- so getting him at No. 14 was a good value. Jordan Phillips has first-round physical ability and third-round tape, so landing in Round 2 just about averages things out. The addition of Ndamukong Suh was impactful, but Miami can use the depth behind him or put Phillips and Suh on the field at the same time. If Phillips plays at Suh's effort level on every snap, there's a potential stud here. Jamil Douglas could play right away, given the need at guard, and though I thought Bobby McCain was a bit of a reach given some other cornerbacks available when he was taken, that's splitting hairs again. Jay Ajayi is a tough runner who fell on injury and ball security concerns, but if he's healthy, he can be really good. Tony Lippett is a player I expected to go earlier. If there's a question, it's the lack of a linebacker earlier on. The Parker pick really elevates this draft for me, and they can hope the coin flip on Phillips' becoming really good works out. But ultimately, I see one certainty here, and injury risk in a number of places."


1aa1amelsrHow come you never hear about Mel Kiper Sr?:
 Mel's father was in the vending machine business and also sold real estate and coached high-school baseball. He helped his son's early career by finding subscribers and advertisers for Mel's first draft newsletters. Senior died in 1988.

Poll result: Dolphins draft judged closer to good than great: We invited you in the previous blogpost to grade the Dolphins draft (you may still vote) based on initial reactions, and "B" won overwhelmingly with 60.8 percent, followed by "C" with 19.0%, "A" with 16.4% and "D" with 3.8%. Despite more C's than A's, it was still 77.2% overall who gave it an A or B.

HOT BUTTON MAY 3: 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 get Parker in draft’s first round: Miami took Louisville receiver DeVante Parker 14th overall in the draft, and I’m not sure who was happier and smiling wider late Thursday night: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, for getting a premier 6-2 pass catcher, or yours truly for actually being right for once in his Miami Herald mock draft.

2. BOXING: Mayweather decisions Pacquiao: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquaio finally had their long-anticipated title fight in Las Vegas late Saturday night. It was the "Fight of the Century" and did not disappoint. Unless you had money on Pac Man. Or like a boxing match in which somebody actually gets hurt.

3. MARLINS: Hot Fish climb up to .500, then lose: The streaking Marlins had now won nine of past 10 games since the 3-11 start that almost got manager Mike Redmond prematurely fired, before losing yesterday. Now the Fish set out on a 10-game road trip. Uh oh. Could soon be time once again talk owner Jeffrey Loria out of doing something rash.

4. NFL DRAFT: Winston goes No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay: Controversial, scrutinized QB Jameis Winston of Florida State went No. 1 to the Bucs and immediately posted an Instagram photo of himself enjoying crab legs. In other words the guy known for making bad choices as a collegian took about nine seconds to make his first bad decision as a pro.

5. HORSE RACING: American Pharaoh wins Kentucky Derby: Betting favorite American Pharaoh finished strong Saturday to win the 141st Kentucky Derby, and now we're just 12 days from the Preakness. I really think this could finally be the year we have our first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Just like I thought last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and...

6. NBA: Clippers win Game 7 to complete final eight: Clippers' thrilling 111-109 Game 7 elimination of San Antonio Saturday moves NBA playoffs to conference semifinal round. Cavs-Bulls may be most interesting matchup ahead. Chicago might have real shot at an upset. Heat fans have a dilemma, though. Rooting against LeBron now means cheering for Joakim Noah.

7. HURRICANES: UM football sees seven players drafted: Tackle Ereck Flowers, ninth overall, led a parade of seven drafted Miami Hurricanes -- fourth-most behind FSU's 11, Louisville's 10 and Florida's eight. Glass half-empty: "No way UM should have finished 6-7 with all that talent." Glass half-full: "That Al Golden sure can recruit!"

8. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Marlins ace becomes U.S. citizen: Rehabbing young pitcher finally faced live batters in practice, but week's big news was the Cuba native taking his oath of citizenship. It proved once again that in America anything is possible. Especially if you happen to throw a 97 mph fastball.

9. DION JORDAN: Dumbass Dolphin draft-bust suspended again: Fins' disappointing 2013 draft bust screwed up again, failed a drug test again and was suspended again. Or, did that go without saying?

10. JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA: Marlins release free-agent bust catcher: The highlight of Jarrod's short-lived Marlins career? Led team last season in longest last name. 

Missing the cut: Billy Donovan leaves Gators for OKC, NHL playoffs, Baltimore riots affect on sports, English Premier League decides title, Tiger Woods in TPC Sawgrass, Giancarlo Stanton in GQ.

Poll result: Most wanted Pacquiao to win: We asked who you hoped won, and it was 76.3 percent for Manny Pacquiao over Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Was running closer to 78-79% prior to the fight).

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%.

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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

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


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 sportsclubstats.com.

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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March 29, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Kentucky, Heat, Materiality, Canes, Cats, tennis, Fish, Fins, cricket & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, MARCH 29. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Random Evidence notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Saturday, Heat in good hands, NCAAs, Miami Open, Cats alive, Miami-izing of ESPN Radio & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine (with new stuff from yesterday's Florida Derby).

Florida Derby: A close, controversial finish, a record betting handle -- the 64th Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park had it all. But did it have a special winner in Materiality? A horse that can challenge the Triple Crown drought? Click on Materiality's Burden for my column from the track. 

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat steady, Cats lose. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 33-39 (L1), 2 1/2 games from 6th with 10 games left (next tonight vs. Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 69.2% (down 3.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending down in 10th place at 34-41 (L1) after last night's 4-3 OT loss at Montreal, 3 points from 9th and 4 points from 8th with 7 games left (next tonight at Ottawa). Cats playoff likelihood: 3.6% (down 0.8) per sportsclubstats.com.

HOT BUTTON MAR. 29: 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. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Kentucky escapes as Elite Eight moves toward Final Four: No. 1 overall NCAA Tournament seed Kentucky survived Notre Dame last night (barely) and Wisconsin also advanced to Final Four. Now Louisville-Michigan State and Duke-Gonzaga take stage tonight. Irish didn't prove Kentucky can be beaten because close doesn't count. Quoting John Calipari, "We're unbeaten, not perfect."

2. HEAT: Team returns home as playoffs draw near: Miami, hosting Detroit this evening, seems a likely No. 7 playoff with 10 games left, which would mean facing LeBron James in first round. Meantime an ESPN panel ranked Heat second in NBA ownership, third in front office and sixth in coaching. San Antonio swept all three categories. Evidently that ESPN panel consisted entirely of Spurs fans.

3. HORSE RACING: Materiality wins Florida Derby: Huge crowd and a record betting handle festooned Saturday's 64th Florida Derby at Gulfstream, won by Materiality. This is when we begin to wonder if Materiality, starting May 2 in Kentucky Derby, can end the Triple Crown drought (and think sadly to ourselves, "Nah.") 

4. HURRICANES BASKETBALL: UM in NIT semifinals Tuesday: Miami faces Temple Tuesday night in an NIT semifinal, so at least Canes are making most out of missing the NCAAs. Game is at Madison Square Garden, which of course is nicknamed, "The World's Most Famous Arena Despite the Knicks."

5. PANTHERS: Next two games to define playoff hopes: Panthers, minus injured top scorer Nick Bjugstad, play tonight at Ottawa and Tuesday here vs. Boston -- the two teams Cats are chasing for final NHL playoff spot. Win both, and Cats have a shot. Lose either, and probably not. Playoff pressure doesn't always wait for the playoffs.

6. TENNIS: Miami Open at midpoint: Tennis’ "fifth major' runs through next weekend. The unexpected early ouster of No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova has been tournament’s biggest headline so far. Sharapova normally loses in the semifinals or final to career nemesis Serena Williams but apparently wanted to beat the rush this year and fast-track her inevitable elimination.

7. MARLINS: Cosart investigated for gambling: As Marlins wind down spring training with the season eight days away, pitcher Jarred Cosart is being investigated by MLB for gambling. Here's another gamble: Miami, despite high hopes, making the playoffs. 

8. UM FOOTBALL: Defense dominates Spring Game: Defense had four interceptions to lead UM's annual Spring Game but anybody saying "uh oh" about Brad Kaaya as result is a lunatic. Little in all of sports is a more pointless waste of money than college football teams practicing in March. Seriously.  

9. DOLPHINS: Free-agency season segues to pre-draft talk: Coach Joe Philbin this week said he hopes the team's transition to a new receiving corps "won't be too painful." Man that guy really knows how to rally the troops doesn't he!?:

10. CRICKET: Aussies win Cricket World Cup: One word. Crikey!

MADNESS: KENTUCKY SURVIVES; SIX GOES TO FOUR TONIGHT: No, I don't regret the previous headline, "Can we please stop pretending anybody can beat Kentucky?" Notre Dame almost did, last night, but when last I checked (sorry, Irish) almost didn't count. Both higher seeds (Wisconsin, too) won last night in the Elite Eight, so the March Madness Upset-o-Meter is now at 19.0 percent, with 11 upsets (based on seeds) in 58 games thus far. Tonight as we reach the Final Four, 1-Duke is a narrow favorite over 2-Gonzaga, but 7-Michigan State is a slight betting pick over 4-Louisville for the seed upset.

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November 04, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.4%; plus Fins rout Chargers 37-0 behind Tannehill and D, my Philbin column; also Canes record, Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Dolphins. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whomp North Carolina, CSM poll, FIU falls, Gators stun Georgia & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

CSM sets season high: Voting in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll wrapped this morning at 92.2 percent, a season high. Find complete results in the blogpost directly below this.

My Philbin column: Getting a huge email response to my column off the game on coach Joe Philbin celebrating his biggest Dolphins win while mouring the death of his father. It seems to have touched many readers who aren't even sports fans. Click on Heartache and Joy to read it. (Find our Dolphins-Chargers gamepost and postgame thoughts immediately below the latest DSM poll).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 97.4 percent overall satisfaction -- a season high -- in the wake of Sunday's 37-0 victory over visiting San Diego putting Miami's season record at 5-3. The DSM, in its seventh season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

;

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

G7: 63.2% (following 27-13 victory at Jacksonville)

G8: 97.4% (following 37-0 victory vs. San Diego)

Next poll: Nov. 9 (following game at Detroit)

G8: SAN DIEGO @ DOLPHINS: A PLAYOFF TEAM DECLARES ITSELF HERE: Final: Miami's first defensive shutout since 2006. Ryan Tannehill's career-best 125.6 passer rating. A dominating home triumph over a quality opponent has Miami 5-3 at midseason and very much thinking playoffs. Impressive. The best all-round, end-to-end victory in the three-year Joe Philbin/Tannehill era. Happy for Philbin, personally, with the win coming just two days after he tended to the death of his father, Paul, who passed away at 93. ..... Fourth quarter: Starting QBs Tannehill and Rivers both out of game, it's so lopsided. ..... Third quarter: It's 37-0. Jarvis Landry 14-yard TD is Tannehill's third scoring throw of game. TD set up by fumble-causing sack by Olivier Vernon that Jared Odrick recovered, Miami's fourth defensive takeaway. ... Grimes with his second pick. Dolphins D is making this a nightmare for Rivers. ... MIA 30-0 after 23-yard FG set up by Grimes pick. Should have been more. Clay and Wallace both dropped TD passes inside the 10. ... Brent Grimes intercepts Rivers, returns to SD 19. ... Miami sails to 27-0 lead on Tannehill's 21-yard TD pass to Rishard Matthews. What an a-- kicking! ..... Halftime: Tannehill is 18-for-25, 208 yards and a TD at the break, and Miami's defense has limited the Chargers to 118 total yards. A dominating half by Miami. Did not expect to be saying that. Good Fins, Good Tanny are in the house so far. ..... Second quarter: MIA 20-0 inside of 2 minutes. Fins ride 38-yard Wallace catch to 1st and goal but settle for 25-yard FG. ... Reshad Jones intercepts Philip Rivers, returns 16 yards to Bolts 31. A 26-yard FG and 17-0 lead is result. ... Lamar Miller 2-yard TD run has MIA up 14-0 early in second Q. ..... First quarter: Strong start for Dolphins. ... MIA up 7-0 on 77-yard opening drive capped by Charles Clay 6-yard TD pass from Ryan Tannehill. Tanny 6-for-6 on drive. ... Bolts unwisely eschew 39-yard FG attempt, go for it on 4th and 1 from MIA 22 and are stopped on Reshad Jones tackle. ..... Pregame: Kickoff temp 69 degrees with crazy-low 29% humidity. Hope game is as good as this perfect weather. ... I'm second-guessing today's pick (Chargers 24-20) a little bit. Usually don't do that. ..... Original post: San Diego is 5-3. Miami is 4-3 at it reaches midseason today. Today's 1 p.m. kickoff feels like a pivotal game that will see the winner looking like a playoff-team and the loser seeming like something else. The Dolphins have won two games 1aa1adolsdin a row and are one last-second play (vs. Packers) from carrying four consecutive W’s into Sunday’s matinee. Oppositely, two consecutive losses have sort of knocked the bloom off Philip Rivers (erstwhile MVP candidate) and San Diego (erstwhile NFL “it” team). I’m still a bit surprised the Dolphins are favored here, albeit slightly, by 1 1/2 points. The Chargers defense is as good as Miami’s — actually 18.6 points allowed to Fins’ 21.6 — and Rivers is more reliable than Ryan Tannehill, who for some reason has tended to struggle more at home than away this season. Dolphins’ O was really bad in Jacksonville last week, leaving Mike Wallace to complain, “We’re not going to get nowhere like that.” (Tweet! Throw a grammar flag. That’s a double negative!) I just see Bolts as a little less erratic and a little better all-round. Aside to Dolphins defense: Diego TE Antonio Gates is reborn and having a monster year. Cover him, won’t you? Historical note: Fins have won seven consecutive games in this occasional series, with SD’s last win in Miami the famous 41-38 overtime playoff game on Jan.2, 1982. So add the law of averages embodied in the weight of 32 years to the reasons my gut is telling me the visitors' return flight will be happier than the home team’s postgame locker room. My pick: Chargers, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON NOV. 2: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, an expanded, updated Hot Button Top 10. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Miami hosts Chargers seeking third straight wins: Dan Marino was still a Pitt Panther and Chargers' QB was Dan Fouts when San Diego last won in Miami — that famous 41-38 overtime game Jan.2, 1982. Bolts have since lost seven in a row here. Dolfans who believe in trends are happy. Those who believe in law of averages are nervous.

2. Hurricanes: UM, Duke of Gables stay hot in rout of UNC: Canes beat ACC rival North Carolina 47-20 here in a Saturday homecoming game that saw Duke Johnson pile up 226 offensive yards and score three TDs. Team had ceremony honoring former UM quarterback great Jim Kelly. It was "Kelly Tough," then it was "Duke Great."

3. Heat: Strong start to post-LeBron era for Miami: Heat are 2-0 entering this evening's home game vs. Toronto, and Chris Bosh has 56 points. Oh, and Cleveland fans were disappointed after an opening loss in which LeBron James shot only 5 for 15 and had eight turnovers. "Pinch me," said Miami fans. "I must be dreaming!"

4. College football: First playoff rankings already due a shakeup: The first College Football Playoff rankings had Mississippi State, FSU, Auburn and Ole Miss as the top four, but Ole Miss' Saturday loss will change that. I trust the CFP committee featuring Condoleezza Rice. I just hope her intel on football is better than her intel was in ’03 on those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

5. Baseball: Giants deny Cinderella Royals: No offense, Madison Bumgarner, but I think San Francisco’s third title in five years was something only a Giants fan could love. It answered the question, "Is it possible for a World Series to go to a Game 7 that ends 3-2 with the tying run on third and still think that World Series was boring?"

6. Gators: Florida stuns No. 11 Georgia: UF fans were left toasting the World's Largest Cocktail Party with a 38-20 win that may have saved Will Muschamp's job. New QB Treon Harris did great, expertly handing off as Gators topped 400 yards rushing.

7. Panthers: Cats finding their claws after slow start: Florida has shaken off an 0-3 start to win four of past six hockey games including last night over Flyers. Grading on a curve, that's a hot streak.

8. Horse racing: Bayern wins controversial Breeders' Cup: It was a rough start and a photo finish in the only horse race outside of the Triple Crown that most of us pay any attention to.

9. NASCAR: Only two races left before Homestead: Can't wait for the big Nov. 16 finale at Homestead. Looking forward to an exciting day of bitter feuds, intentional wrecks, pit-row shoving, and, time permitting, an auto race.

10. Politics: Florida elects governor Tuesday: Hey, we sports fans are interested in more than sports, right? We're also intrested in electing a great next governor. Unfortunately, our choice is Rick Scott or Charlie Crist.

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June 08, 2014

Finals G2: Heat 98, San Antonio 96: Miami evens series behind LeBron's 35!; plus Heat playoff MVP table (updated), raw vs. dumb honesty & more

1) It is SUNDAY, JUNE 8. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with (what else) Heat and NBA Finals. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Saturday Heat notes and 3-pack from San Antonio, California Chrome falls short, Crampgate poll result and more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

My World Cup preview: I columnize in today's Miami Herald World Cup preview section on how the U.S. standing in international soccer adds intrigue to the quadrennial event. America is seldom seen as the underdog in anything. Except this. Click on Us Against The World for the column. (Also, below find item on U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann).

FINALS G2: HEAT 98, SAN ANTONIO 96: LEBRON ANSWERS HIS HATERS WITH 35: LeBron James' 35 points carried Miami tonight in the two-point win that evens the Finals 1-1. Most impressively he did it all ways in hitting 14 of 22 shots including three 3's. He pounded the paint with force, he hit oustide jumpers, he had 10 rebounds -- all of it three days after debilitating cramping erased him late from Game 1 and drew a barrage of mocking on Twitter and elsewhere. Call tonight his response. He had help, though. Chris Bosh had 18 and Dwyane Wade 14, and Rashard Lewis also added 14. Miami also was much better defensively, with the Spurs shooting only 44 percent after hitting 59% in Game 1. Now the Finals haed to Miami for Games 3 and 4 starting Tuesday. The three-peat dream wouldn't have died with a loss and a 2-0, but it felt like Sunday brought it back to life just the same. Click on The King Reigns for my column from San Antonio off tonight's Miami win. ..... Original post: Some final thoughts on Crampgate before we look ahead to tonight. The consensus seems to be that no, the Spurs did not "arrange" for the air-conditioning failure that caused the hot/humid arena that led to LeBron James' 1aa1aheatspursfinalscramping that played a part in the Heat's Game 1 loss. But the consensus is that the Spurs were alerted ahead of time, well before Miami, to better prepare for the conditions. And that the Spurs lockerroom had cooling fans while Miami's did not. If all of this is true, the NBA should fine and publicly admonish the host franchise. OK, moving on. Tonight's Game 2 should find Miami motivated both by how Game 1 ended, and by the LeBron-bashing on social media that followed. But the 1aa1aheatspursg2biggest motivation should be desperation. What a difference in outlook and prospects between leveling this series or heading back to Miami in a 2-0 hole. Miami is on a 12-0 run responding to a loss in the postseason, and that streak confronts its toughest test tonight. The air-conditioning will be back, we are assured, but LeBron being 100 percent is less knowable. Will his minutes be limited? Might the cramping recur? We'll see. Meantime the Heat must do better in other areas, such as defend in a way that San Antonio doesn't shoot close to 60 percent (58.8) again, and allow a Tim Duncan-led layup parade again. Miami, after losing the Finals opener 110-95, must find a way to hold the Spurs under 100 points. I'd expect to see doses of Udonis Haslem (who didn't play at all Thursday) as Miami strives to defend the paint better and narrow S.A.'s rebounding edge. All eyes will be on LeBron's post-cramps health, but the key will be much better defense.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. LeBron James, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. Rashard Lewis. The updated standings through 17 playoff games, including tonight's Finals Game 2: LeBron James 40 points, Dwyane Wade 24, Chris Bosh 19, Ray Allen 8, Rashard Lewis 4, Chris Andersen 3, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

NBA commissioner on A.C. snafu: New commissioner Adam Silver, addressing the national media prior to Game 2 tonight, clearly was embarrassed by Thursday's air-conditioning outage in San Antonio. "I'm glad this isn't single-elimination," he said. And: "Certainly not one of my prouder moments." And: "In hindsight it wasn't handled perfectly." Silver said the NBA office was informed about the problem shortly after the game began, and was told just before halftime the issue could not be resolved that night.

RAW HONESTY: CALIFORNIA CHROME'S OWNER: It is so rare in sports and thus always refreshing when we see a reaction that is instant, visceral and raw. We got that yesterday from California Chrome's 

1aa1acoburnowner, Steve Coburn, after his horse had been denied the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes by a horse named Tonality. Coburn, pictured, railed against the format that allows a horse like Tonality to not run in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and then swoop in fresh against horses that run all three races. Coburn called that "the coward's way out." His reaction struck many as classless or sour grapes. He had a larger point that was valid: It would be a more level playing field if only horses that raced in the K-Derby could run in the next two races and be TC-eligible. But that probably was not the time or place for Coburn to rail against the rules.

DUMB HONESTY: JURGEN KLINSMANN: Team USA's World Cup coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, said in a New York Times profile, "We cannot win this World Cup because we are not at that level yet. Realistically, it 1aa1aklinsmannis not possible." He may be right. It still was an outrageously dumb, ill-timed thing to say publicly. The U.S. Soccer Federation should be furious. There would be a firestorm if soccer were bigger in this country. You can think that privately, Jurgen, you can say that to your wife, but to broadcast that on the eve of the World Cup is, well, imagine Joe Philbin saying at the start of training camp that the Dolphins are not at a level to compete for a Super Bowl. Klinsmann has cast a soggy blanket over any American enthusaism for this World Cup. There is also the element of self-fulfulling prophecy. Imagine being a player hearing your coach say that? Dumb, dumb.

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June 07, 2014

LeBron on burden he bears, plus other Saturday Heat mega-notes; also 3-pack from San Antonio, Crampgate poll result, California Chrome & more

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 7. Thoughts with Tracy Morgan, the comedian seriously injured in an auto accident. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Spurs Finals Game 1 report and video, A.C./cramps poll, MVP standings, NFL concussion result & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

California Chrome falls short of Triple Crown; owner fumes: Damn. Still no Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Tonality wins the Belmont Stakes today and California Chrome's run at history ends in a fifth-place finish. Chrome got pushed to the outside and did not have a closing kick in the longer race. Afterward Chrome's owner Steve Coburn blasted the Triple Crown format that allows a rested horse like Tonality -- who ran in neither the Kentucky Derby nor Preakness -- to swoop into the Belmont. Coburn angrily called Tonality's victory "the coward's way out." Classless? Sour grapes? Maybe. But Cobrun has a point, too. It would be a level field of only horses running in the Kentucky Derby were eligible for the following two race and a Triple Crown shot.

HEAT STUFF FROM TODAY'S SESSION IN SAN ANTONIO THAT INTERESTED ME:

1aa1aredoct(*) LeBron James warmed up on the court wearing Nike Air Yeezy 2s -- Red Octobers, pictured -- the Kanye West-designed sneakers worth $4,000 and up if you're not LeBron and get them for free.

(*) Check me out on Vine for a new video on Dwyane Wade asking the last question of LeBron in today's media session.

(*) LeBron yesterday called himself "the easiest target in sports" in reaction to being made fun of on social media for his cramps. Today he expounded: "I don't think it, I know it," he said of that burden. "Cameras been in front of me since I was 15, since everything from being an adolescent, kind of going to the top and falling from the mountain and going back on top again. Half of my life I've been in front of this. That makes me an easy target."

(*) LeBron on his post-cramps health: I'm doing well. Doing a lot better. The soreness is starting to get out."

(*) Erik Spoelstra on the review of the tape of Thursday's loss: "A lot of carnage to go through in that film."

(*) Snapshot from the practice gym. On a bench in the far corner: Micky Arison, Pat Riley and Spoelstra. Oh to have bugged that bench!

(*) Wade, a Chicagoan, on the impact on him of Michael Jordan's first Bulls championship: "I was 9 years old, and that's when I feel in love with basketball. After that I was in the  backyard, in the cold, trying to emulate M.J."

(*) Wade on the team's mindset down 1-0 entering Sunday's Game 2: "We're not uptight, we're not overly loose. We're focused." 

A SATURDAY HEAT THREE-PACK...

1. DEFENDING LEBRON FROM THE TWITTIDIOTS: I love that former Dolphins wimp Jonathan Martin 1aa1acramps(of all people) was among those piling on LeBron James on Twitter for his cramps in Game 1, with 'C'mon, bruh. Drink a Gatorade and get out there.' James in general was savaged, with America seemingly oozing out of the woodwork to criticize James when given any opportunity. I address the phenomenon and defend James in today's latest column from San Antonio; click Iron Man to read. I note why James is about the last player in sports whose toughness or durability should be doubted or questioned. For example, in his career, he has started all 154 playoff games and 996 of 1,040 games overall, or 96 percent, a remarkable record of dependability beyond the excellence thet gets more celebrated.

2. HEAT TOPS IN NATIONAL POLL: The Miami Heat have overtaken the Los Angeles Lakers as America's favorite NBA team, in the latest annual poll by ESPN. The Heat are sixth 1aa1aheatlesoverall among favorite U.S. sports teams, after the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, New York Yankees and Denver Broncos. Also, interesting South Florida-market television ratings, via colleague Barry "TV" Jackson, verify Heat's popularity relative to Dolphins. Game 1 of the Finals Thursday drew a 30.5 rating in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, after Heat-Pacers series averaged 23.4. Dolphins regular-season games last year averaged 17.1. In fairness, a Dolphins playoff game rating likely would top 30, but that would require the Dolphins actually, you know, making the playoffs.

3. WADE'S PUBLIC ADVICE FOR SPOELSTRA: Dwyane Wade yesterday publicly admonished coach Erik Spoelstra to play 1aa1adwademore guys in Game 2, partly blaming "mental and physical fatigue down the stretch" for Thursday's loss. "We've got to go a little deeper into our bench, keep guys fresher," Wade said. He likely had in mind Udonis Haslem, who did not play at all in Game 1. James Jones and Toney Douglas did not play, either. At the least, look for a role for Haslem on Sunday. LeBron on Saturday backed up Wade, saying, "Toney,. J.J. and U.D. could have got some minutes to take the load off the rest of us."  

Poll results: Conditions, cramps likely cost Heat Game 1 win: We asked in previous blogpost (you may still vote), and a plurality of 44.2 percent said the lack of arena air-conditioning that led to LeBron James' cramps cost Miami a win Thursday night, while 14.9% said "perhaps" it did. The other 40.9% said no to the premise.

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