August 16, 2017

Me, Papi and 'Highly Questionable': The controversy escalates into name-calling; plus your verdict on confidence in Derek Jeter, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16. Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Marlins/Derek Jeter poll, your verdict on Jay Cutler signing & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Cote on ESPN's Highly Questionable again today: It's Me-Week on HIghly Questionable, according to me. I was in-studio on ESPN's HQ show Monday and yesterday and will be again for a final time today, in the middle of Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre. Shows airs 4:30 p.m. back on the main ESPN.

Latest columns: On Dolphins, Hurricanes, Marlins: Our latest Sunday column quantifies how rare it is that the Dolphins and UM both are going into a season with new quarterbacks, and both can blame plain rotten luck. Click on Double QB Quandary A Rarity to read. And a Marlins doubleheader: Jeffrey Loria agreeing to sell to the group fronted by Derek Jeter makes us wonder, "What's next?" But first ... LET'S PARTY! Click on New Owner, New Hope to read. Also: Underappreciated nationally, overshadowed in his own city, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton is having one of the great seasons in Miami sports history, having hit his MLB-leading (and club-record) 43rd home run last night. My column is an unabashed appreciation. Click on A Diamond, Shining to read. 

PapiME, PAPI AND 'HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE': It's been fun doing ESPN's Highly Questionable this week. And funny, too, reading some of the Tweets and other reaction from people convinced I'm embroiled in a hostile takeover to replace beloved Papi in the middle of that table. There is no replacing Papi. But, this week, I find Mehq Papiandmemyself in between Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre on the set (pictured far left) as Dan and Papi are off on what I assume is vacation but on Papi's part also is an apparent contractual holdout. Fun fact: Bomani is way taller than Pablo and I but appears smaller in this photo. Magic? Also left, Papi and I, erstwhile friends, in happier days. It may surprise many of you to learn they asked me if I wanted to do this; I did not storm the studio heavily armed and commandeer the set. I considered the offer, quickly realized how much more TV pays than radio, and nonchalantly said, OH HELL YES!!! The producers have had me wearing a Papi-esque guayabera shirt and doing a few other Papi-esque things, which probably fanned the flame of controversy a bit. So did this: A LeBatard Tweet in which Papi accused me of being a "scab" for doing HQ in his place. Is Papi actually involved in a contractual dispute (#PayPapi) that has him off the air? No idea. No idea at all. Am I a "scab" for filling in for him, as Papi and a few of you have accused? That wounds me. Hence, the scab. Get it!?! Relax, all. It's just TV. It's just sports. I'll do my three lil' days of HQ this week and you'll likely not see me again on the tube (except on the televised radio show once a week). And soon, Papi will be back at the HQ desk. Well, I think. Probably. Maybe.

POLL RESULT: CONFIDENCE IN JETER STARTS WITH 'ANYBODY BUT LORIA' BOUNCE: We asked, "What best reflects your confidence that money-man Bruce Sherman and baseball-guy Derek Jeter will be successful Marlins owners?" Your verdict: 

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 8-16-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. San Francisco at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.: Fish (4-1), hot Stanton wrap up 6-game homestand.

2. Highly Questionable, 4:30 p.m.: I co-host again today on ESPN. My blog, my shameless plug!

3. Spanish Super Cup, 4:55 p.m.: Real Madrid-Barcelona in another El Clasico.

Select other recent columns -- Immortality Calling (with Jason Taylor in Hall, who's next?). Right Time, Right Quarterback (Dolphins should have gone with Kaepernick). Also: The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 11, 2017

PS1: Dolphins 23, Atlanta 20: Our quick-read, quick-thought observations on preseason opener; plus the wonder of Giancarlo Stanton, Jay Cutler poll, latest 'Back In My Day,' Fins fantasy ranks, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 11. Click on Pencils for the new Back In My Day from this week's LeBatard Show. 2) R.I.P., Glen Campbell, the Rhinestone Cowboy, gone this week at 81. 3) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 led by Jay Cutler arrival, your Dolphins/Hurricanes QB calamity verdicts & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: On the wonder of Giancarlo Stanton: Underappreciated nationally, overshadowed in his own city, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton is having one of the great seasons in Miami sports history. My new column is an unabashed appreciation. Click on A Diamond, Shining to read. 

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter is back ... but not yet: Another season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls is at hand, but, as always, they begin with the regular season, not in the preseason. Watch for the season's DSM debut on Sunday, Sept. 10.

PS1: DOLPHINS 23, ATLANTA 20: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FAKEBALL!?: Click on Quick Thoughts On Fake Game 1 for our mini-column on Thursday night's preseason-opening Miami win. The one update I'd offer: Rookie Raekwon McMillan's torn-ACL knee injury will cause him to miss the season and overrides any good that came out of last night. Big blow. First Tannehill, now the starting middle linebacker ..... Original post: The biggest scam in all of sports is that NFL teams get away with including preseason exhibition games in their season-ticket packages, requiring fans to pay full fare for fakeball or fraudball games they wouldn't otherwise pay to see. I mean, seriously, if you plan to  attend tonight's first preseason game (7 Atlmiap.m., CBS) despite the forecast of gloomy weather and are actually and truly excited to do so -- you are a Dolfan deserving of a medal. No Jay Cutler tonight. In fact very few starters will play Ps1much if at all. Not for the visiting Falcons, either. This of course renders the result meaningless. Miami could win by 20 or lose by 20 and it would signify nada. The game does mean a lot to participants, naturally. To coaches who must make roster cuts. To borderline players trying to make it. From a fan standpoint, though, it's a micro/macro thing. If you're Macro and you just want to judge the finished product starting Sept. 10, not see how the sausage is made along the way, tonight probably isn't for you. If you're Micro and you care about the minutia, stuff like who might be the fifth wide receiver, the preseason is your Petri dish. Tonight will mostly be about rookies, and Miami draft-loaded on defense, so that's tonight's focus. On rookie middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan: He's a baby, not yet 21, but set to start. Whether he flies or fails will have a huge impact on whether the Fins' defense improves as much as it needs to. On rookie defensive tackle Davon Godchaux: Is he really beating out young veteran Jordan Phillips for the start, or are the reps right now more of a fire-starter under Phillips? And on rookie defensive end Charles Harris: Surprisingly little attention for the No. 1 draft pick, maybe because he'll begin as a rotation player. But tonight will be our first good look at that explosive first step of his. And on rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley: Can the third-round pick make the team? Needs to shine tonight. Offensively, tonight one of the "other guys" at quarterback will stake a claim to being kept as a No. 3 behind Cutler and Matt Moore. By the way, don't look for Cutler to be smoking a cigarette on the sideline tonight. That would violate stadium rules.

JaycutlerTHE CUTLER POLL: YOUR CONFIDENCE IN THE DOLPHINS' NEW QUARTERBACK: I have my say in this column; click New QB, Same Hopes to read. Although I preferred the Dolphins dare to sign Colin Kaepernick instead, hauling Jay Cutler out of retirement makes a ton of sense for Miami, given his experience, relationship with Adam Gase and knowledge of the offense Gase and the Fins use. The transition should be smooth. And I think with Cutler the Dolphins remain exactly what they were a week ago with Tannehill healthy, no more, no less: A pretty good team with a lot of "ifs" but a real shot at the playoffs. I know Cutler is a ripe target for lampooning. The nude photo. The cigarette photoshops. The celeb wife. And he has this habit of often seeming to convey apathy or boredom; see photo at right from yesterday's introductory media session. Still, a positive signing that makes the best of a bad situation and keeps Miami's season viable, I say. OK, now here comes your opinion. Express your degree of confidence in Cutler, or lack of, by taking a dip in our poll. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

AJAYI, LANDRY LEAD DOLPHINS IN FANTASY: Almost fantasy draft time, with Greg's Lobos on high alert. ESPN has a 10-team, 16-round mock fantasy draft here, and the four Dolphins selected, predictably, are: RB Jay Ajayi (2nd round/16th overall); WR Jarvis Landry (6th/51st); WR DeVante Parker (9th/85th); and WR Kenny Stills 12th/116th).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: FRI 8-11-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Colorado at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: After 2-5 roadie, Fish open 6-game homestand.

2. PGA Championship, 1 p.m.: Second round of season's final golf major.

3. Steelers at Giants, 7 p.m.: NFL preseason game.

4. USA Diving nationals, 9 p.m.: Nat'l championships From Columbus, Ohio.

5. Track world championships, ongoing: Track & field worlds continue in London.

Select other recent columns -- Immortality Calling (with Jason Taylor in Hall, who's next?). Right Time, Right Quarterback (Dolphins should have gone with Kaepernick). Also: The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 26, 2017

It was easy answer, once. Not now. Who is Miami Dolphins' biggest star? Poll too close to call. Last day to vote!; plus soccer's Wonderful Wednesday with my 2 El Clasico Week columns, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 26. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the latest LeBatard Show podcast with your's truly in studio. 2) We Didn't Start the Fire. Billy Joel song title, and my reality. Follow me on Twitter here to watch my valiant but failed Sunday attempt to start a fire with two sticks. 3) Almost Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, El Clasico Miami Week, your Kyrie Irving-to-Heat verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Happy 74th birthday today, Mick Jagger. Thank you for making even me feel young." --Greg Cote

JUVENTUS-PSG IN MIAMI TONIGHT TOPS A WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY FOR SOCCER!: How's this, futbol fans. All tonight, in order: Barcelona vs. Manchester United, 7 p.m. in an International Champions Cup match in Maryland. Juventus vs. Paris Saint-Germain, 8:30 p.m. in ICC play from Miami's Hard Rock Stadium. U.S. men vs. Jamaica, 9:30 p.m. for the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship in Santa Clara, Calif. And then Manchester City vs. Real Madrid, 11:30 p.m. in an ICC game in Los Angeles. (Barcelona and Real Madrid, of course, will meet in El Clasico Saturday in Miami). My two columns on Miami's biggest soccer week ever:

It Began With An Accidental Infatuation: Today's special-section column on how this week in Miami began in '70s with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer. 

World-Sized Spectacle: Our Sunday column putting in perspective the magnitude of Miami hosting El Clasico, the first-ever Barcelona-Real Madrid match held in U.S.

DolphinstarAS DOLPHINS OPEN TRAINING CAMP ... WHO IS TEAM'S BIGGEST STAR?: As the Dolphins report for Davie training camp today/Wednesday and stage their first practice Thursday, it was interesting to me to see the cover of the Dolphins' new 2017 media guide. It depicts not any one player but three unidentified players hugging in celebration. Maybe this is by design to emphasize team over individual? But it also strikes me the Dolphins do not have one clear-cut "star," an unequivocal "face of the franchise" who merits a cover photo above all others. Is there that player in Miami? If so, who? I offer a poll here that aims to answer the question. For most of two decades here that answer was Dan Marino. Many other years the answer has been clear. Now? By however you would define the phrase "biggest star," what current Dolphins player most earns that title entering the 2017 season? Here are my top five candidates, alphabetically, plus an "other" category, and you may choose only one. Hey nobody said life was fair. Or easy. Take a dip in our poll and vote now!

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 7-26-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Int'l Champions Cup, 8:30 p.m.: Juventus vs. Paris Saint Germain in Miami.

2. Gold Cup, 9:30 p.m.: U.S. vs. Jamaica for the CONCACAF championship.

3. Int'l Champions Cup, 7 p.m.: Barca-Man U in Md., then Man City-Real 11:30.

4. Marlins at Texas, 8:05 p.m.: Fish wrap up 6-game road trip.

5. FINA World Championships, 11:30 a.m.: Major swim meet continues in Hungary.

Select other recent columns -- Blockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for Riley (on Kyrie Irving-to-Heat possibility). Paroled But Not Free (O.J. SImpson). Don't Hold Your Breath (LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat (Venus Williams' Wimbledon run). Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era Ebbs. The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports Hall. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty City. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 19, 2017

Will LeBron James or Dwyane Wade ever play for Miami Heat again? Two polls. Last day to vote!; plus here are ex-Dolphins 'n Canes selected in NFL all-time draft, good news/bad news for UM in ACC vote, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 19. For the latest "Greg Cote Tuesday" podcast from the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, click here. 2) Almost Dolphins time. Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday Venus Williams column & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

LebrondwyaneON THE LIKELIHOOD LEBRON AND D-WADE COULD END UP BACK WITH THE HEAT: LeBron James waxes nostalgic for his Miami days in two Instagram posts. Dion Waiters takes to Twitter to push for a Dwyane Wade/Heat reunion. Certain stuff on social media fans the flames that keep alive the notion James and Wade both could end up back in Miami after playing one more season in Cleveland and Chicago, respectively. But the reasons why that likely won't happen continue to outnumber the reasons why it could. I explore in my latest column; click on Don't Hold Your Breath to read. Im curious what you think the likelihood is that either will be back playing in Miami the season after next, or next summer. Take a dip in our two polls.

SLEW OF EX-DOLPHINS & CANES TAKEN IN MMQB'S ALL-TIME NFL DRAFT: Neat idea, this. Get 12 accomplished NFL experts and personnel guys involved in a 12-players-per-round, 25-round, 300-player all-time draft. Then have a 26th round to draft head coaches. Peter King's Sports Illustrated-affiliated MMQB (Monday Morning Quarterback) did that, with interesting results. Click here for the complete draft. There was at least one bizarre, ridiculous, indefensible pick: Punter Ray Guy was the fourth overall selection (!) by GM Dan Fouts. But otherwise the things seemed legit. LB Lawrence Taylor was first overall, and Pats QB Tom Brady was ninth. Now, let's localize:

DwightsFormer Dolphins drafted, including short-time Fins, in order -- LB Junior Seau (4th round, 43rd overall); WR Paul Warfield (5-49); C Dwight Stephenson (5-53, pictured left as the first full-career-Dolphin taken); G Larry Little (7-76); QB Dan Marino (10-115); C Jim Langer (15-172); RB Cookie Gilchrist (18-211); RB Larry Csonka (21-241); P Reggie Roby (21-250); WR Cris Carter (22-262); G Bob Kuechenberg (23-273); and DE Jason Taylor (25-294). My take: Surprised Marino was only the 11th QB taken. Also not a lot of love for Csonka or Taylor, who barely snuck in. And even less for the Fins' two Hall of Famers undrafted here: Nick Buoniconti and Bob Griese.Also thought Ndamukong Suh might have snuck in. Oh, and Don Shula was only the sixth coach selected.

EdreedFormer Hurricanes drafted. in order: S Ed Reed (3rd round, 29th overall, pictured); LB Ray Lewis (3-36); LB Ted Hendricks (5-50); DT Cortez Kennedy (6-70); C Jim Otto (7-80); DT Warren Sapp (14-157); DT Jerome Brown (14-167); Returner Devin Hester (15-173); WR Michael Irvin (23-267); TE Greg Olsen (24-282). My take: What jumps out is that six of the top seven Canes taken are on the defensive side, all but Otto. No surprise Reed/Lewis were 1-2, and good to see the love for pre-glory days Canes Hendricks and Otto.

Note: Not ex-Dolphins or Canes but South Florida guys drafted included Miami-born LB Derrick Thomas (4-42) and Fort Lauderdale-born WR Isaac Bruce (25-299).

WELL, AH, GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS ON THAT HURRICANES ACC MEDIA VOTE: ACC Kickoff & Media Days included the annual media predictions. The good news? Miami is predicted to win the QuartermanCoastal Division. The bad news? The Coastal is to the ACC what the Eastern Conference is to  the NBA. Weeeaaak! That perception is verified in the overall vote for predicted ACC champion. There were 167 votes, and 160 (or 95.8 percent) say the champ will come from the loaded Atlantic Division, where Florida State and Clemson rule, and where Louisville also is seen as better than UM. The Canes got only three votes (1.8%) to be conference champs. Bottom line? Miami should be good enough to get past Virginia Tech in the Coastal, but a tsunami awaits in the Atlantic. The disparity also is reflected in preseason voting for ACC player of the year. Of 167 votes, 164 (or 98.2%) went to players from the Atlantic. The three lonely votes for Coastal players included one each for Canes LB Shaquille Quarterman (pictured) and WR Ahmmon Richards.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 7-19-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Philadelphia at Marlins, 12:10 p.m.: Fish finish, try to salvage homestand at 1-4.

2. U.S. vs. El Salvador, 9 p.m.: Gold Cup knockout-stage game in men's soccer.

3. Champions Cup games, underway: Bayern Munich-Arsenal ongoing, Roma-PSG 8 pm.

4. Tour de France, underway: Cycling's main event continues with Stage 17.

5. Diving world championships, 12:30 p.m.: Women's 10-meter.

Select other recent columns -- An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat: Venus Williams' Wimbledon run. All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsVerdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up BigHome Run Derby Is KingMiami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing ItThere Should Be A Place For IchiroThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceWhat's Next, Marlins? NFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American Tragedy. History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 15, 2017

Venus' Wimbledon run ends in defeat but still a marvel: My new column; plus Marlins score big 0 in major category, El Clasico Miami still hopeful on Ronaldo, Dolphins rocket up $$$ chart, your Heat-offseason verdict, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 15. Rolling Stone, increasingly list-crazy, lists the 100 Greatest Movies of the 1990s. Click here for the countdown. 2) Almost Dolphins time. Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): AL wins Miami All-Star Game, your Home Run Derby vs. ASG verdict, Heat-offseason poll, ESPY Awards & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Venus' remarkable Wimbledon run falls just short: My new column: My Sunday column, newly online, is on the marvel of Venus Williams even in defeat Saturday in the Wimbledon women's final, at 37 the oldest woman in a major final since 1994. Click on An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat to read.

CUPBOARD BARE: MARLINS PLACE ZERO PLAYERS ON TOP-PROSPECTS LIST: Here is a challenge the next Marlins owner will inherit. Miami suffers a complete shutout in Baseball America's new 2017 midseason ranking of the Top 100 Baminor-league prospects, which includes guys recently drafted. To put that in perspective, the Fish's four NL East rivals combine to place 21 players on the list: Braves--9 players (ranked 10th, 23rd, 25th, 33rd, 41st, 42nd, 55th, 72nd and 76th); Phillies--7 players (46th, 47th, 52nd, 69th, 81st, 92nd, 98th); Nationals--3 players (8th, 70th, 95th); and Mets--2 players (4th, 50th). Miami's barren minor-league cupboard is why fans should expect to see more veterans traded for prospects. That began with the recent trade of shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to Tampa Bay. More infusion of young talent via trades -- though not another fire sale -- should be expected before the July 31 trade deadline. Click here for the complete Top 100.

REPORTS ASIDE, RONALDO EXPECTED FOR EL CLASICO MIAMI: Rosters for El Clasico Miami -- Barcelona vs.Real Madrid July 29 at Hard Rock Stadium -- were Ronaldoannounced Tuesday, the day the Marlins hosted the All-Star Game. That overshadowed the news, but the soccer world has since been abuzz that superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured) did not appear on Real Madrid's roster for the International Champions Cup tournament play including Miami. Barcelona's roster includes stars Lionel Messi, Luis Sanchez and Neymar, with no notable omissions. Some media outlets have since reported (erroneously) that Ronaldo not being on the roster means he definitely will not play in Miami, but that is not a certainty  -- at least not yet, or not officially. Ronaldo, 32, led his native Portugal to a third-place finish in the recent FIFA Confederations Cup tournament and perhaps could use a rest. Also, he has a July 31 court date scheduled in Spain related to tax-fraud charges against him. With those factors in mind his omission from Real Madrid's ICC roster was ominous, but I am told there still remains a strong chance he will travel to play in the Barca-Real game on the 29th. Soccer fans and Miami hope so, because Ronaldo vs. Messi is a big part of what makes El Clasico a classic. Stay tuned.

DOLPHINS CRACK FORBES' 2017 MOST-VALUABLE-TEAMS LIST: Forbes has issued its annual World's Most Valuable Teams list for 2017, a Top 50, and the Miami Dolphins are the only South ForbesFlorida franchise on it, smack in the middle at No. 25 with a value of $2.38 billion. That marks a 28 percent increase from the previous year, 10th-biggest plus on the list. (The Dolphins ranked 33rd, at $1.85B, in 2016). The Marlins, about to be sold for $1.2 billion, would not make the list at that value; 50th place was at $1.75B. The Heat were just below that. Overall, the Dallas Cowboys rank No. 1 in the world with a value of $4.2 billion, followed by the New York Yankees at $3.7 billion. The most valuable NBA team, the New York Knicks, rank seventh at $3.3B. After the 'Boys and Yanks in the top five comes English soccer power at Manchester United at $3.69 billion, and then the two teams in this month's El Clasico Miami, Spanish soccer titans Barcelona and Real Madrid, $3.64 and $3.58 billion, respectively. Click here for the full Top 50.

POLL RESULT: HEAT OFFSEASON A SUCCESS, ALTHOUGH VERDICT MIXED: We asked, "Has this been a successful Miami Heat offseason?" And "yes" was a clear winner with 58.2 percent. But it was 25.3% "no" with the other 16.5% undecided, meaning better than 4 in 10 had doubts.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 7-15-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

Wimbledon, 9 a.m.: Venus Williams goes for women's title in London.

L.A. Dodgers at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: After meltdown-loss last night, Fish continue homestand.

Heat vs. Memphis, 6 p.m.: Heat kid squad ends summer-league season.

U.S. vs. Nicaragua, 7 p.m.: Gold Cup men's soccer match from Cleveland.

Yankees at Red Sox, 4 p.m.: Sports' best rivalry adds Aaron Judge mania.

Select other recent columns -- Our Miami All-Star Week columns: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era Ebbs: From Tuesday's ASG. Verdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up Big: From Home Run Derby. Home Run Derby Is King: Why power show has become bigger than ASG. Miami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing It: We're not typical All-Star host. There Should Be A Place For IchiroHonoring such greats should be what All-Star Game is about. Others: Venus, Rising: On Williams' Wimbledon run to finals. to read the column. The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks: A farewell to Bosh. Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 12, 2017

Miami steps up big in All-Star Game/Home Run Derby doubleheader, with my latest column from ballpark; plus was Heat offseason a success? Poll. Last day to vote!; also, ESPY Awards, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 12. I'll be in-studio twice this week with the LeBatard Show, Thursday and Friday. 2) Know any Dolphins fans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Aaron Judge wins Home Run Derby, Miami All-Star Primer and grading the Big Four events, Derby vs. ASG poll, Hot Button Top 10, your ESPN Body issue result & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Our Miami All-Star Week columns:

NEW: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era Ebbs: Column from Tuesday's ASG.

Verdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up Big: Column from Monday night's Home Run Derby. 

Home Run Derby Is King: Why the Monday power show has become bigger than even the All-Star Game.

Miami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing It: We are definitely not a typical All-Star host.

There Should Be A Place For IchiroHonoring greats like Ichiro should be what All-Star games are about.

AFTER SIZZLING HOME RUN DERBY, AL BEATS NL 2-1 in MIAMI ALL-STAR GAME: It was AL 2, NL 1 Tuesday night in the 88th All-Star Game culminating the first Midsummer Classic Allstargame Ajudgeheld in Miami, the game won on a solo homer by Robinson Cano of Seattle in the 10th inning. Marlins had Giancarlo Stanton starting as designated hitter (manager choice) and batting second, and Marcell Ozuna starting in left field (fan vote) and batting eighth. But Stantonn was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and Ozuna 0-2 with one K. After 14 years with the ASG winner determining home-field advantage in the World Series, the ASG was back to purely ceremonial this year. That's good and makes sense, although it did make the game less important -- all showcase, no real stakes. Mike Trout missed the game injured and other guys of special interest to Miami (Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado) didn't make the team, but the game didn't lack for starpower. Tough act to follow, though, after the show Yankees phenom Aaron Judge (pictured) put on the previous night in taking the Home Run Derby crown from Stanton. There is a broad perception (see poll result below) that the Derby has usurped the ASG as the All-Star break's biggest event. The game did not exactly fight back and reassert itself Tuesday. Cano's late homer won it, but it's tough to think what he did topped Judge.

POLL RESULT: HR DERBY IS BIGGER THAN ALL-STAR GAME: We asked which Miami All-Star Week event you most look forward to watching, and Monday's Home Run Derby swamped Tuesday's All-Star Game by 69.5 percent to 30.5%.

KolynykHAS THIS BEEN A SUCCESSFUL HEAT OFFSEASON? NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: How'd Pat Riley do? Has the team improved? Is Miami in a better spot relative to the competition? The case for YES: The Heat re-signed key components it could have lost in free agency (led by Dion Waiters and James Johnson) from a team that went 30-11 in last season's second half, and added young big man Kelly Olynyk (pictured) from Boston. The case for NO: Miami went hard after top free-agent prize Gordon Hayward and not only lost him, but lost him to the rival Celtics. The Heat essentially stood pat with a 41-41 team other than adding Olynyk, a consolation prize after losing Hayward. We assume no major deals and maybe only minor tinkering are yet to come. Your Heat-offseason verdict goes here:

EspysSLIM PICKINGS FOR LOCALS ON ESPY AWARDS TONIGHT: The annual ESPY Awards tonight will include 32 categories, but South Florida team athletes were shut out of the nominees, and local individuals are few. They are: Serena Williams (from Palm Beach Gardens), nominated for Best Female Athlete and Best Female Tennis Player; Brad Koepka (born West Palm Beach), nominated for Best Male Golfer; and Lexi Thompson (from Coral Springs), nominated for Best Female Golfer. In a related award, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), founded by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, won an ESPN Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 7-12-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Cincinnati at Miami FC, 7:30 p.m.: It's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at FIU Stadium.

2. Heat vs. Washington, 6 p.m.: Miami kiddies in summer-league playoff in Vegas.

3. Wimbledon, underway: Men's quarterfinal matches from London.

4. ESPY Awards, 8 p.m.: ESPN's annual grandiose self-promotion from L.A. 

5. Tour de France, underway: Stage 11 of famed cycling race.

Select other recent columns: The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks: A farewell to Bosh. Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron: On Heat's fight for Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 29, 2017

Serena vs. McEnroe. What's fair? Poll. Last chance to vote!; plus Dolphins roster ranked only 22nd in NFL. Here's why, with grades for all starters; also, Dolfan gets married wearing helmet, Clinton Portis' near-murder, latest BIMD, HB Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) THURSDAY, JUNE 29. Congrats to Miami FC for beating MLS Atlanta last night to reach the round of eight in the U.S. Open Cup. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on Heat's Adebayo pick, The List (Heat) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Clinton Portis's near-murder: The former NFL and Miami Hurricanes star running back nearly committed murder four years ago over a financial swindle, says Sports Illustrated in new story. Click here to read.

The latest Back In My Day: I was back in-studio yesterday with Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Click here for the best-of podcast, then scroll to about 48:30 mark for latest Back In My Day (Tuxedos).

My column on Heat, Adebayo: Click on Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt for my column on the Miami Heat drafting Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo in first round. Most mock drafts and media experts see it as a "reach." John Calipari and Pat Riley disagree. I know where my benefit if doubt goes.

SERENA WILLIAMS VS. JOHN MCENROE: WHAT'S FAIR?: LeBatard and I had a genuine disagreement and high-pitched radio debate about this yesterday. John McEnroe noted in an interview Serenamcenroethat, while Serena is the greatest women's tennis player, she'd lose to the 700th-ranked man. LeBatard and many others agree and think Serena cannot be called the "best" without that qualifier. I think that's absurd and an insult to women's athletes and accomplishments to be constantly compared to men when the debate is pointless -- apples and oranges. Serena has won 23 singles majors (and counting, post-pregnancy). No man has won more than 17. Maybe this is a semantics argument (best vs. greatest), but I think it's unfair to Serena to always get the "yeah, but" qualifier on how she might lose to a good men's college player. Should the greatest women's weightlifter of all-time be diminished because men can outlift her? Crazy. Serena is the most accomplished player to ever lift a tennis racket. Period. OK, that's me. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll:

THE LATEST DISRESPECT OF MIAMI DOLPHINS: The Dolphins -- the 10-6 playoff team from 2016 but with a 7 1/2-win betting over/under for '17 -- continue saddled by low regard nationally. BushrodThe latest example: ESPN today ranks all 32 NFL rosters in order, based on Pro Football Focus grades for every projected starter, and the Dolphins' roster ranks 22nd. New England's is rated second, trailing only Atlanta. ESPN calls Ndamukong Suh the Fins' biggest strength, and the offensive line the biggest weakness. Why that's significant: Ryan Tannehill had a 116.6 rating throwing from a clean pocket, but only 49.1 when hurried -- a drop almost double the league average. Here are PFF's rankings for every Miami starter, with 90-plus considered elite, 80-89 good/high quality, 70-79 average, 60-69 below average, and 60 or lower poor. Totals add up to more than 22 starters because of starting battles at a few positions:

Elite (0) -- None. Good/high quality (9) --  S Reshad Jones 88.5; DT Suh 88.4; DE Cam Wake 87.4; RB Jay Ajayi 86.8; WR Jarvis Landry 85.1; CB Byron Maxwell 85.0; DE William Hayes 83.4; QB Tannehill 80.8 and WR DeVante Parker 80.2. Average (8) -- RT Ja'Wuan James 78.0; TE Anthony Fasano 76.5; WR Kenny Stills 73.8; LG Ted Larsen 72.3; LB Kiko Alonso 71.9; CB Bobby McCain 71.2; C Mike Pouncey 71.7 and LT Laremy Tunsil 70.4. Below average (2) -- S Nate Allen 68.0 and TE Julius Thomas 66.6. Poor (5) -- DT Jordan Phillips 56.8; RG LB Koa Misi 50.0; CB Xavien Howard 49.1; LB Lawrence Timmons 46.8 and (pictured) RG Jermon Bushrod 41.7.

My take: Grade for Maxwell seems high. But grades for Pouncey (when healthy), Tunsil and Timmons seem low.

DolweddingNEW DEFINITION FOR GREATEST DOLPHINS FANS EVER. OR WEIRDEST, PERHAPS?: You think you're a huge Dolphins fans? OK, would you wear a Dolphins helmet during your wedding ceremony? Put another way: Would your bride let you? Lee's wife-to-be did. Lee (@LeeToplanding on Twitter) is a huge Miami fan from England, got married on Sunday, and posted the attached photo from his wedding ceremony. Dolphins, get this guy free tickets or something. Seriously. I admire his level of fandom. More than that. I admire his bride's sense of humor.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 6-29-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish in 2nd of 3 vs. NL East rivals.

2. Confederations Cup, 2 p.m.: Germany vs. Mexico in soccer semifinal.

3. U.S. Swimming, 7 p.m.: National championships continue in Indianapolis.

4. Arm wrestling, 10 p.m.: It's the World League championships!

Select other recent columns: A 1-Man Mock Draft: My prediction for Heat's top pick. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: On Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 21, 2017

The 'Random Evidence' notes column returns with the shame of Margaret Court leading off; plus the new Back In My Day (Privileged Pets), your Mayweather-McGregor verdict, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21. Happy Summer Solstice, all! 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mayweather vs. McGregor with poll, Hot Button Top 10, your next-Miami-champion verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new Back in My Day: Privileged Pets: Click on Privileged Pets for yesterday's LeBatard Show podcast and scroll to the 51:30 mark for the start of the new BIMD. 

THE RETURN OF 'RANDOM EVIDENCE OF A CLUTTERED MIND' NOTES COLUMN: For many years ending in 2015 I penned a popular Sunday notes column called “Random Evidence of a Cluttered Mind” (from which the name of this blog derived). Tuesday, in a new form and on an occasional basis, Random returned after a two-year hiatus with a mixture of serious and fun across all sports. The inaugural topics:

Mcourt* A lambaste of tennis' major embarrassment, bigot Margaret Court. Pictured: Court, now 74, waves goodbye to her formerly good reputation.

* This week's Heat draft and why I disagree with most mocks.

* The Panthers' big gamble in exposing Jonathan Marchessault to expansion draft.

* The U.S. Open champion's notable girlfriend (Attack Of the 50-Foot Cheerleader).

* Marlins' home hotness reaches 11-2 run last night.

* Quantifying high hopes for UM football, men's basketball.

* And Quick Hits featuring Mayweather-McGregor fight, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jim Harbaugh, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Colin Kaepernick and Pete Rose.

Click on Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court to read the comeback column in its entirety.

POLL RESULT: MOST SAY THEY WON'T WATCH MAYWEATHER-MCGREGOR: We asked if you plan to watch the newly confirmed Aug. 26 Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight, and it was 59.8 percent "no" to 40.2% "yes." The fight is expected to break records for pay-per-view revenue.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 6-21-17: Today's sports events of most interest to SoFla fans:

1. Washington at Marlins, 12:10 p.m.: Rubber game of 3-game NL East series.

2. NHL announcement show, 8 p.m.: Award winners, Vegas expansion picks revealed.

3. College World Series, 7 p.m.: FSU in elimination game vs. LSU.

Select other recent columns: Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch, from Sunday, on Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 31, 2017

Do you feel bad for Tiger Woods? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Jeb out as Marlins' buyer but Jeter bid lives on; also, 'World Fame 100,' UM baseball 44-year streak ends nobly, kneejerk reaction on Terry Frei, Hott Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, May 31. R.I.P., Frank Deford, famed sportswriter, gone at 78. Never met him, but much respect for who he was in this business. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, UM baseball streak ends, Tiger Woods' arrested, 50,000 Names tribute video, The List (Dolphins draft), your most-wins verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

ICYMI, our latest Sunday column: Golden State, LeBron on history's doorstep: For the Warriors as a team or LeBron James as a player, this NBA Finals is going to leave one of them looking a lot like the best there ever was. Click on History Calling Warriors, LeBron for my new Sunday column.

Tigerhappy TigersadSTRANGE LATEST CHAPTER IN THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF AN ALL-TIME GREAT: DO YOU FEEL BAD FOR TIGER WOODS?: Tiger is pictured in better days and in this week's booking mugshot. You know the weird story by now. Found asleep in his running car. Taken into custody at 2:49 a.m. Monday, booked at 7:18, released on his own recognizance at 10:50, to be will be arraigned in Palm Beach County Court July 5. But the DUI charge turned out not  to involve alcohol. He blew a perfect 0.00 breath test for that. Turned out to be a mix of prescription drugs, including painkillers, blamed on recent back surgeries. Said Woods in a statement: "I understand the severity of what I did, and I take full responsibility for my actions. I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly." Woods recently announced he'd miss the remainder of the 2017 PGA Tour season. Since his initial back surgery in MArch 2014 Woods has played only 19 Tour events with zero top-10s, his career majors number long stuck on 14. I feel bad for Tiger. Do you?

REPORT: JEB BUSH OUT OF RUNNING TO BUY MARLINS: The Associated Press, citing unidentified sources, first reports today that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has withdrawn from a bid to buy the Miami Marlins. Bush fronted the group led by ex-Yankees great Derek Jeter, who may continue to explore a bid with other money men. No reason for Bush's withdrawal was reported. "Gov. Bush has great respect for Derek Jeter, and Derek remains a great friend," the AP quoted a source. "And he's looking forward to a great rest of the season for the Marlins." The apparent frontrunner to buy the club now would appear to be the group fronted by businessman Tagg Romney (Mitt's son) that includes ex-Braves star pitcher Tom Glavine -- but not so fast on that. Bush had very little capital in the investment group, so that group very much would remain in the running with Jeter -- still involved -- out front. Today's no-Bush news, in effect, might end up meaning very little. Both groups had been considered nearly even in the running to make the deal. Existing owner Jeffrey Loria has lowered his asking price from $1.8 billion to (as of now) about $1.3B. There are reports the deal will be completed in the next couple of month so change of ownership might be ratified at the next MLB owners meeting in August.

JmorrisUM'S BASEBALL STREAK ENDS, BUT CANES WIN ANYWAY: The longest NCAA postseason streak in any sport -- Miami Hurricanes baseball's 44-year run -- ended Monday when UM was passed over for an at-large regional bid. It was a mild surprise but not a shock. After a 31-27 record, it's hard to argue the Canes got screwed. The nature of the tournament is that, as in basketball, automatic bids got to small-conference winners to fill much of the 64-team field. UM did get unlucky, though,as the first team out. UM coach Jim Morris was admirably gracious, saying, "It's an honor and a privilege to be part of the 44. It's a streak that's unmatched in any sport in NCAA history, so to be part of that and be part of that with coach [Ron] Fraser is an honor." Morris could have complained, claimed to have been cheated, claimed the selection committee didn't show proper reverence for his program's pedigree, or blamed the team's many injuries. Instead, no excuses. He took the high road. Good for him.

TerryfreiOVERREACTION IN FIRING OF TERRY FREI: I don't know Frei, until this week a Denver Post sportswriter, so this opinion is uninfluenced by friendship. He Tweeted something ill-advised. But I'm not sure it was a firing offense, given his immediate explanation and contrition. Frei Tweeted he was "uncomfortable" with a Japanese driver winning the Indy 500 on Memorial Day, harking to Pearl Harbor. For me, that was outrageous. The equivalent would have been me writing on Twitter that the Marlins should have sat Ichiro on Sunday for the same reasoning. That's pretty crazy. But, again, given the extenuating circumstances (Frei' s father fought in the war), and his fast apology, I feel bad that one lapse in judgement cost the man his job and reputation. Frei is pictured. A regrettably uttered or written sentiment can happen to any of us in this fast-paced business. I wish him well.

ESPN'S SECOND ANNUAL 'WORLD FAME 100': Click here for the full list, or stay here to save time. The top 10, in order: Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Lionel Messi, Roger Federer, Phil Mickelson, Neymar, Usain Bolt, Kevin Durant, Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods. Also notable: Serena Williams 19th, Tom Brady 21st and Dwyane Wade 24th. No current South Florida athlete made it. Thought maybe Jaromir Jagr and Ichiro had a chance to sneak in low.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 5-31-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Philadelphia at Marlins, 1:10 p.m: Fish have won 3 straight, are 4-1 in 10-game homestand.

2. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Pittsburgh leads Nashville 1-0 and home for Game two of Stanley Cup Finals.

3. French Open, 11 a.m: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic among notable on today's schedule.

4. Dolphins OTA day: Second of this week's three closed-to-public offseason practices.

[Note: NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

Select other recent columns: Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 25, 2017

Do you agree with NFL relaxing rules to allow TD celebrations? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Canes brace for Friday must-win in ACC; also, Marlins column, a clue in death of Cortez Kennedy?, new Back In My Day video, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, May 25. Thoughts and condolences with the loved ones of the victims of the Manchester concert terrorism in the U.K. R.I.P., innocents. So terribly sad that a miserable coward in a suicide vest can wreak such sorrow. #GivePeaceAChance. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from Tuesday's LeBatard Show. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday Marlins column & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New column: The Marlins' mysterious future: In what figures as a blockbuster summer for sports in South Florida, who buys the Marlins and what they do with the roster looms as the great unknown. Easy to say blow-it-up-and-start-over, but that wouldn't be easy. Or smart. Click on What's Next, Marlins? for my latest column.

EzpartyPARTY'S ON! NFL RELAXES RULES ON END-ZONE CELEBRATIONS: At this week's NFL spring owners meeting, the lords of King Sport reduced overtimes in the regular season from 15 to 10 minutes (because everybody loves ties!), flip-flopped host cities for the 2021 and '22 Super Bowls, and approved the Raiders' stadium lease in Las Vegas. But the talking-point, clearly, was a seismic shift on allowing personality back into the game -- as in, end-zone celebrations. Yes, the Old Fuddy-Duddy has loosened the corporate collar. The "No Fun League" is ready to party. New rules give players much leeway in how they celebrate a touchdown. Once banned but now allowed: orchestrated end-zone dance parties, using the football as a prop and group celebrations. As a further example, the NFL said players may now "roll around or flap their arms like snow angels on the ground again if they choose." Defensive players who just allowed the TD that ignited the celebration might not like it. I'm more interested in what you think. For me, it's good for the league, it's fun -- as long as the celebrating is reasonably brief and does not devolve into taunting. What say you? Take a dip in our poll and let us know.

TezHEADACHES A CLUE IN DEATH OF UM FOOTBALL GREAT CORTEZ KENNEDY?: Miami Hurricanes football great, Cortez Kennedy, the dominating defensive tackle, has died at age 48, Orlando police said Tuesday. Kennedy died alone in Orlando, where he lived. Police are investigating but initially reported nothing suspicious. A relative told the New York Times that Kennedy recently had been experiencing headaches. Kennedy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 after an 11-year career with the Seattle Seahawks in which he made eight Pro Bowls. Kennedy made the Associated Press NFL All-Decade team for the 1990s. "Tez" was the third overall pick in the '90 NFL draft out of UM after a stellar Canes career that included his being MVP of the 1989 national championship team. Kennedy is one of six former Canes inducted into Canton, and he and fellow Hall of Famer Warren Sapp are considered the greatest defensive tackles in school history.

JimmCANES WIN ACC TOURNEY OPENER, KEEP HOPE ALIVE TO CONTINUE 44-YEAR NCAA STREAK!: UM  yesterday beat Georgia Tech 6-5 in 13 innings in the Canes' ACC Tournament opener in Louisville. The Canes now face Wake Forest on Friday at 11 a.m., delayed from Thursday by rainouts in other games Wednesday. The winner advances to Saturday's semifinals. UM considers Friday's game a must-win in terms of the Canes staying alive to reach the NCAA Tournament for a record 45th straight season. Click on The Weight of History for my column by me previewing the Canes' challenge in the tourney. Original post: Miami Hurricanes baseball owns the top of our blog's marquee today. Most years at this time, UM is planning for a near-certain NCAA Regional host's role and dreaming of getting back to the College World Series in Omaha. This time, though, that's getting way ahead of ourselves. UM's record-setting 44-year NCAA streak is in jeopardy after an uncommonly common 29-26 regular season. Can the young men of Jim Morris (pictured) win the ACC tourney to secure an automatic bid? Or, falling short of the title, can they win win two games this week or perhaps even three to make an at-large invitation likely? That positions UM, a four-time national champion, in the unlikely role of underdog. Odds are against the Canes. That also lends an unusual drama to the start of conference-tournament play for Miami. Will Morris' next-to-last season end in ignominy? UM last missed the NCAAs in 1972. Today we begin to learn if the weight of that 44-year streak lifts or crushes the Canes.

THE LIST: LOCAL PLAYERS IN MLB DRAFT: The MLB Draft is June 12 and, according to Baseball America's Top 200 prospects list, here are the players from South Florida high schools who are highest rated:

Rank    Player, Pos., School

38        Mark Vientos, SS/3B, American Heritage (Plantation)

50        M.J. Melendez, C, Westminster Christian (Palmetto Bay)

59        James Marinan, RHP, Park Vista (Lake Worth)

60        Jake Eder, LHP, Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale)

68        Jeter Downs, SS, Pace (Miami Gardens)

75        Joe Perez, RHP/1B, Archbishop McCarthy (Southwest Ranches)

89        Shane Drohan, LHP, Cardinal Newman (West Palm Beach)

Note: Among college players, three Gators, one Seminole but no Miami Hurricanes make Top 200.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 5-25-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 8:30 p.m.: Cavaliers up 3-1 at Celtics as Cleveland tries to close out Eastern finals.

2. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Ottawa at Pittsburgh in a winner-take-all Game 7 of Eastern finals.

3. Dolphins OTA day: Third of three this week, but this one's closed to the public, too.

[Note: Marlins off today, and UM/ACC baseball game postponed until Friday].

Select other recent columns: Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote