May 06, 2015

Wells report on Deflategate implicates Patriots, Brady. Full report here; plus is a sombrero politically incorrect? Poll. Vote now!; also local firm sues Pacquiao, D-Wade at the Met, heat on LeBron, DeVante on 'impact' list, Dee Gordon & more

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


1aa1aeflowers1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 6. Hope y'all had a happy Cinco de Mayo, fellow imbibers. 2) At left, Giants 1st-round draft pick and ex-Cane Ereck Flowers throws out first pitch at a Mets game. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ndamukong Suh arm-wrestles Warren Buffett, Mel Kiper grades Dolphins, Mel Sr., Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Average American child, before completing education, sees 40,000 murders on TV. Just sayin'.  

My latest column: I write about what a flop the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was and how the only loser was the fan who paid 100 bucks to watch. Click on Nobody Got Hurt But You to read in full.

Updated MLB beting odds: Via Bovada today, Dodgers now alone as World Series favorites at 6-1, with Cardinals 7-1 and Tigers 15-2. Marlins are 66-1, tied for 22nd. (Ouch). But Miami's Dee Gordon (4th at 6-1) and Giancarlo Stanton (tie 5th at 9-1) both are among NL MVP frontrunners, with D-Backs' Paul Goldschmidt the fave at 3-1.

WELLS REPORT ON DEFLATEGATE IMPLICATES PATRIOTS, BRADY: Click on 'Probable' Guilt Not Enough for my column on this, newly online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Click HERE to access the entire 243-page report.The pertinent synopsis: "We have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship 1aa1adefballGame, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls." The report does not implicate others such as owner Robert Kraft or coach Bill Belichick. Next step: NFL decides what if any punishment will be in store for the Patriots. Update: Bovada and some other betting houses have removed NFL odds and bets on Patriots until it is determined if Brady will be suspended. I doubt he will be based on "probable" implication, but he may well be. 

A SONG, A HAT AND SENSITIVITY: I am not easily offended or as sensitive as a lot of people are -- maybe to a fault. That came up yesterday, on Cinco de Mayo, in a couple of ways. One was that I'd planned on wearing a Mexican-style sombrero in honor of the occasion, strictly for laughs, thinking nothing of it -- but was told by others that would be insensitive and has become politically incorrect. Then I happened upon old audio files from my "Singing Sportswriter" days on the radio and re-listened to a song called "God Bless Our Danica," a personal favorite. It's a fun though admittedly cheeky ode to Danica Patrick. The thing is, when I recorded it around five years ago I heard no objections, only laughs. Now? Now I wonder if it would be heard as sexist. I wonder if it has lapsed into "politically incorrect." Here is the audio of the song for you to decide:

Greg Cote - God Bless Our Danica

As for the sombrero, I saw it as harmless fun, as just a funny hat for a party occasion. I never considered that it could be viewed as belittling the Mexican culture. Maybe that's on me to have not considered that, or maybe people, in general, have just become too sensitive. I'm honestly not sure. I am curious what you think of the idea of wearing a sombrero, for fun, on Cinco de Mayo. OK or inappropriate? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

LOCAL LAW FIRM SUING PACQUIAO: Fort Lauderdale-based law firm Kelley/Uustal has filed the first class-action suit in Florida against boxer Manny Pacquiao, his promotor Top Rank and DirecTV, claiming perjury on Pacquiao's part for not revealing his right shoulder injury, which, had been revealed, might have canceled or postponed the fight.

WHAT DWYANE WADE DOES INSTEAD OF BEING IN THE PLAYOFFS: Heat star Dwyane Wade and 1aa1adwyanemetgalaactress/wife Gabrielle Union attended Monday night's high-end Met Gala, an annual fashion event and fundraiser at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 1aa1asarahAnybody who's anybody was there, except you and I. The Heat's First Couple (sorry, Bosh) is pictured right, photo via Perez Hilton. Union rocked the Met red carpet in purple. Or is it burgundy? D-Wade had sort of the
French Foreign Legion look going, complete with red sash and military-like medals. Others at the Gala included Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, George Clooney, Common, Cher, Justin Bieber, Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Anne Hathaway and Madonna. Pictured left, Sarah Jessica Parker looking remarkably calm for a woman whose head is flames. Must have been weird for Dwyane and Gabby to be at an event where they were not (nearly) the biggest stars there. Meanwhile, basketball players still playing were otherwise occupied last night...

Bulls turn up heat on LeBron: When isn't the pressure on LeBron James? But sometimes it's more
palpable. Like now, after the Cavaliers went down 1-0 in the 1aa1abullsheatEastern semifinals with a 99-92 home playoff loss to the Bulls entering Game 2 tonight. Did you love it, Heat fans? (Design at left making the rounds on Twitter reflects how the Bulls have become the adopted team of anti-LeBron Heat fans). Derrick Rose was good, Pau Gasol was better and Jimmy Butler stepped up for Chicago, while Cleveland, playing without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, got 30 from Kyrie Irving but not enough from LeBron. He nearly had a triple-double (19 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists), but also was only 9-for-22 shooting and had six turnovers. "I wasn't that good tonight," said James. No, he wasn't. And he'll need to be better than good -- he'll need to be vintage, MVP-caliber great -- for Cavs to move on.

POST-DRAFT SUPER BOWL, ROOKIE ODDS: New post-draft odds via Bovada have Seahawks an 11-2 Super Bowl favorite followed by Packers 7-1, Patriots 15-2, Colts 8-1 and Cowboys 10-1. Dolphins are 40-1, tied for 17th. AFC East odds are Pats 1-2, Fins and Bills both 5-1, and Jets 9-1. Rookie of the year odds find Melvin Gordon at 13-2 atop a bunched marquee over Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota both 7-1, Amari Cooper 15-2 and Todd Gurley 8-1. Miami's DeVante Cooper is 11th at 16-1. Two ex-Canes show: Phillip Dorsett 14-1 and Duke Johnson 25-1.

1aa1adevantepFins' Parker seen as 'impact' rookie: Mel Kiper Jr. names 10 "impact" rookies from the 2015 draft (five offense, five on D) and Dolphins' WR DeVante Parker is one. Kiper says, "Parker will get his because while Ryan Tannehill has other options in the passing game, such as Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills, Parker is easily the best big-play threat in the receiving corps. I could see him getting red zone looks as a jump-ball winner." Parker's target numbers? Here are Dolphins rookie single-season records in the major receiving categories: Catches--84, Landry, 2014; Yards--883, Chris Chambers, 2001; TDs--7, Chambers.

1aa1adeegIN CELEBRATION OF DEE GORDON: So many free-agent or draft busts and disappointments around here. Dion Jordan, Michael Beasley, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Time to celebrate a newcomer success: Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon (pictured), currently leading all of MLB in hitting at .422 (46 hits in 109 at-bats). That's a staggering first month of play that gives Gordon a leg up on Miami's single-season record for batting average. The club's career top five:

Average    Player                    Year

.342         Hanley Ramirez      2009

.339         Miguel Cabrera       2006

.334         Luis Castillo           2000

,332         Hanley Ramirez      2007

.325         Juan Pierre             2004

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February 17, 2015

Do you root for or against Tiger Woods? New poll. Vote now!; plus pro-rating Miami's all-time pro coaches, Heat career ASG leaders, Marlins outlook, saving newspaper industry & more

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


1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17. Hope y'all had a lovely Presidents' Day. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Loria verdict, thank you Dr. J & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Heat in Haiti: Heat stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade (and wives) are in Haiti post All-Star Game and before the NBA season resumes. Click here for more.  

Marlins outlook: Buzz not so loud nationally: Local buzz about the Marlins is not reflected so much in national expectations based on new Bovada win over/unders that have Miami at 81.5 -- right about .500. Nationals top NL East at a majors-leading 92.5, with Fish and Mets both 81.5, Braves 73.5 and Phillies an MLB-worst 68.5.

TAKING SIDES ON TIGER WOODS: I explore the Tiger Woods phenomenon in today's latest column; click on Can't Stop Watching to read in full. It's timely because Woods is taking an indefinite break and 1aa1atigerwoodsunlikely to play the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens later this month, which in turn means he wouldn't qualify to compete in the WGC event at Doral. We followed Woods through his era of excellence and aura. We watched during the infidelity scandal that rocked his golf career. Now we watch as he struggles, at 39, to come back and win again. Well, I do, anyway. And I think many do. But you may not. I see Woods as polarizing so I think most have an opinion. Like him or don't like him? Still interested or past him? Root for him or against him? I think Tiger Woods not playing is still more interesting than anyone who is (a problem for the PGA Tour), but I could be wrong. Take a dip in our poll and share your thoughts.

PRO-RATING SOUTH FLORIDA'S ALL-TIME WINNINGEST PRO COACHES: Jack McKeon won more games in Miami than Don Shula. Huh. What? Of course he did. Because baseball (162) plays 10 times more 1aa1adonshulagames in a season than football (16). Basketball and hockey (82) in turn play five times more games than football but half as many as baseball. So just for fun I did the math on all-time wins in each sport, with baseball managers holding at one point per victory, hockey and basketball coaches having their win totals doubled, and football coaches seeing their wins multiplied by 10. We included regular season and playoff wins. Here, pro-rated for the first time, measuring both success and longevity, are South Florida's all-time winningest coaches in a way that allows the comparison of each relative to each other. The Top 15:

Coach, Team                            Win value    Duration

1. Don Shula, Dolphins                2,740        1970-95

2. Pat Riley, Heat                           960        1995-03, '05-08

3. Erik Spoelstra, Heat                   798        2008-current

4. Dave Wannstedt, Dolphins         430        2000-04

5. Jimmy Johnson, Dolphins          380         1996-99

6. Jack McKeon, Marlins                292         2003-05, '11

7. Tony Sparano, Dolphins             290         2008-11

8. Fredi Gonzalez, Marlins             276         2007-10

9. Kevin Loughery, Heat                270         1991-95

10. Stan Van Gundy, Heat             258         2003-05

11. Joe Philbin, Dolphins               230          2012-current

12. Rene Lachemann, Marlins       221         1993-96

13. Jacques Martin, Panthers        220          2005-08

14. Peter DeBoer, Panthers          206          2008-11

15. John Boles, Marlins                 205         1996, '99-01

Note -- Others active (along with Spoelstra and Philbin): Marlins' Mike Redmond (139) and Panthers' Gerard Gallant (48). Spoelstra and Gallant are in-season, with totals updated through Sunday.

HEAT ALL-TIME ALL-STAR GAME SCORING: Only seven Heat players in franchise history have played in an NBA All-Star Game, encompassing 28 appearances. That includes Chris Bosh on Sunday. The seven listed in order of ASG points scored:

Player                            Pts.-Games    Avg.

Dwyane Wade                 173-10          17.3

LeBron James                 106-4            26.5

Chris Bosh                        42-5              8.4

Shaquille O'Neal               39-3            13.0

Alonzo Mourning              30-3            10.0

Tom Hardaway                18-2              9.0

Anthony Mason                  0-1              0.0

1aa1afloridiansNote -- The Miami Floridians (later The Floridians) played four seasons in the ABA, 1968-72. Their six players who appeared in an all-star game were: Donnie Freeman 31-2, Mack Calvin 18-2, Les Hunter 12-1, Larry Jones 6-1, Warren Jabali 4-1 and Skip Thoren 2-1.

 

NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY PLANS BOLD NEW SURVIVAL STRATEGY: GUILT-TRIP ON "CHEAP" AMERICANS

    Faked-Up News Network (FUNN) -- The Association of American Newspapers, desperate to reverse years of declining circulation and advertising revenue, is expected to soon unveil a major national multi-platform 1aa1anewspapersad
campaign embodying a bold new strategy: Shame Americans by making them feel guilty for being too cheap to buy a paper. "Nothing else has worked because of the damned Internet so we're going the guilt-trip route," confirmed AAN president Mort Eppermeier. "I mean, seriously, you'll pay $2 for a cup of coffee but you won't spend 50 cents for a paper? How cheap are you!?" The media group considered an alternate ad campaign centered on Thomas Jefferson's famous words said in 1787: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter" -- but that was shouted down as too high-minded. The group also considered a campaign emphasizing alternate uses for old newspapers, such as packing material and weed retardant, but that too was rejected. The rollout of the new ad campaign -- 'BUY A PAPER, CHEAPSKATE!' -- is expected later this summer.

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February 11, 2015

Marlins All-Star Game in historical context; plus LeBron's grand plan, Kiper's new Dolphins pick, bad news for Al Golden, Chicago's cheaters?, Brian Williams/Jon Stewart, armed goats & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot-Seat Index coaching poll, SI swimsuits, J-Law's snake, Marlins unis, 2015 college football rankings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

LeBron's grand plan: LeBron James reveals in the Feb. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter his grand plan including a future in movies and his dream of building a Hollywood empire. Click here for the story and related video. Must-read for LBJ fans. 

'Back In My Day': Many of you on Twitter and in emails ask for links to the "Back In My Day" segments I do Tuesdays on the Dan Le Batard Show. I have done 17. Click on BIMD Volume 1 for episodes 1 through 10 (which originally appeared in the blog on Dec. 11). I'll have a link to the most recent episodes soon.

"I liked Beck before it was cool." --Greg Cote

1aa1afishlogoMARLINS ALL-STAR GAME IS FIFTH FOR SOUTH FLORIDA: The Marlins will be hosting their first MLB All-Star Game in 2017, a direct result of the new stadium that so many complained about but that will prove a positive for generations to come. Getting this game is a big deal, and it's about time. Baseball's annual
showcase is far superior to the other sports'. Giancarlo Stanton in the Home-Run Derby seems a given. But Miami sports historians like myself know this Marlins first actually will be the fifth major (Big Four sport) professional all-star game in South Florida. The list, chronologically:

All-Star Game               Date                    Site

NFL Pro Bowl                Jan. 20, 1975       Orange Bowl

NBA All-Star Game        Feb. 11, 1990       Miami Arena

NHL All-Star Game        Feb. 2, 2003        Office Depot Center, Sunrise 

NFL Pro Bowl                Jan. 31, 2010       Sun Life Stadium, Miami

MLB All-Star Game        TBD, 2017            Marlins Park

KIPER APES MCSHAY ON FINS PICK: Dueling ESPN mock drafters Mel Kiper (pictured) and Todd McShay need to get together and fake some variety. Kiper in his new Mock 2.0 out today has Jameis Winston No. 1 1aa1akipermeloverall to Tampa Bay, Marcus Mariota No. 6 to the Stinkin' Jets and Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes No. 14 to Miami -- just like McShay did last week. Kiper on Waynes: "Dolphins need to add some effective youth at cornerback, and Waynes is a well-coached cover man with the versatility to help in both man and zone and brings a physical presence. He's effective taking on big receivers and will also not shy away from tackling and setting the edge as a run-defender. If you're going on pure upside, Marcus Peters (Washington) could gain a slight edge, but Waynes gets the nod for reliability. The Combine can shift perceptions at this position, but I think Waynes is a safe bet to be one of the top two corners taken and it's a need area for the Dolphins, who need more playmakers in their secondary."

Poll result: It's Golden over Philbin for the coaching hot seat: We asked who among So Fla's Big Six coaches should lead the Hot-Seat Index, and UM football coach Al Golden swamped the Dolphins' Joe Philbin by 65.9 percent to 32.4%. We figured a two-man race and man was it! Heat's Erik Spolestra, Marlins' Mike Redmond, UM hoops' Jim Larranaga and Panthers' Gerard Gallant combined for a scant 1.7%.

ON BRIAN WILLIAMS, JON STEWART: NBC suspends Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for six months 1aa1abrianwmswithout pay for the truth-fudging that has spawned a million Internet lampoons like the photo pictured. I get the punishment. U.S. presidents and network news anchors -- aren't those the folks you sort of want to trust most? I wonder if in six months Williams will return as if nothing happened or just sort of fade into shamed retirement. Elsewhere on the dial, Jon Stewart is leaving Comedy Central's The Daily Show, a major loss for hilarious, razor-edgy political commentary. I think Stewart is brilliant, by which I mean he shares my take on just about everything arising from today's headlines.

LITTLE LEAGUE A LITTLE TOO LATE WITH ITS DISCIPLINE: So Little League Baseball strips the U.S. championship from the Chicago team (Jackie Robinson West) that won it in the 2014 LL World Series by, we now are told, supposedly fudging boundary lines to improperly build a superteam. Two adults involved have been supposed for actions that spoils the heart-warming story of the first African-American team to reign. Better late than never on the discipline, I suppose, but Little League's due diligence on boundaries and birth certificates needs to come before a tournament not afterward. This story bears further examination. As it was the Chicago team's triumph was overshadowed, anyway, by the Sports Illustrated cover-spawning mania over the Philadelphia girl pitcher, Mo'Ne Davis.

1aa1agoatswithguns"DEAR GREG...": "I have heard rumors that a sect of anti-government separatists in the Deep South has formed a militia made up entirely of armed goats trained to perform as soldiers. Can this possibly be true?" Dear Reader: I find that almost impossible to believe, but I'll check into it and get back to you.

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January 12, 2015

Who'll win AFC, NFC title games? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus Hassan Whiteside and history of Heat 7-footers, Canton results & more

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 12. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pro Football Hall of Fame poll, NFL Divisional Round, Heat/Cavs, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

College Football Playoff got it right: Click on College Football Wins for today's column by me previewing tonight's Oregon-Ohio State national championship game. For years I didn't think the sport needed a playoff. I think I was wrong.

1aa1aafcnfcWHO CAN STOP A SEAHAWKS-PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL?: It seems inevitable at this point, right? Seattle and New England are two of the greatest home-field advantages in the NFL, and opening betting line shows Patriots a 7 to 7.5-point favorite over Colts and Seahawks 6.5-7.5 over Packers. Then again, discounting Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers too quickly feels risky, too. I'm curious who you like in the AFC and NFC championship games. Not asking who you want to win. Asking who you predict will win.

HASSAN WHITESIDE, MAYOR OF MIAMI: OK I guess I'm coming around on this guy. I've been making fun of 1aa1ahassanall the glowing stories about the Heat's 25-year-old, 7-foot reserve center. But last night's 23-point, 16-rebound show off the bench in the win at the L.A. Clippers was pretty convincing. The Heat could finally have their big man -- the guy they hoped Greg Oden would be. Hassan Whiteside was bouncing around Lebanon and China until Miami gave him a shot, and right now it looks like a major find. The Heat are still only 16-21 and positioned as the eighth seed, but Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and last night's Whiteside will not be a team anyone wants to face in the first round of the playoffs. Pictured: The avatar from his Twitter account, @youngwhiteside.

THE LIST: HEAT 7-FOOTERS: Hassan Whiteside is the 18th 7-footer in franchise history to score in a Heat regular-season game. Miami's top five 7-footers based on regular-season points scored for the team:

Shaquille O'Neal             2004-08          4,010

Kevin Willis                     1994-96          1,591

Matt Geiger                    1992-95          1,352

Vladimir Stepania           2001-03             726

Mark Blount                    2007-09             660

Note: Rounding out top 10--Earl Barron 404 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas 360, Duane Causwell 275, Alan Ogg 162 and Loren Woods 121. Others--Wang Zhi-Zhi 86 points, Justin Hamilton 80 (and counting), Greg Oden 67, Eddy Curry 30, Milos Babic 18, Ernest Brown 3 and Manute Bol 2. In case you wondered, officially listed heights are 6-11 1/2 for Rony Seikaly, 6-11 for Chris Bosh and 6-10 for Alonzo Mourning. 

Poll result: Seau leads your Canton inductees: We gave you thr 15 modern-era finalists for Canton, invited you to vote for five, and your top five were Junior Seau with 16.0 percent, Jimmy Johnson 12.8%, Marvin Harrison 10.2%, Orlando Pace 9.8% and Kurt Warner 9.4%. Smart ballot by you all; I was impressed you included Pace, a lineman. I had four of those in my top five. I left out Johnson but included Tim Brown, who was sixth (7.8%) by your vote.

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December 23, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 26.5%; plus most disagree with Ross keeping Philbin (poll result) & more

1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 22. The Sunday Random Evidence notes-column package in print, and its Hot Button Top 10 blog version, were off this week for the holidays. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins/NFL Week 16 pix, Fleetwood Mac, bowl season, Marlins trade, Heat/Panthers morphing, NBA-on-Christmas verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Click on Sticking With Philbin the Right Choice for my column off Sunday's Dolphins game. Do you agree? Vote in our Philbin poll. And find latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll directly below the Philbin poll.

SUPPORT FOR ROSS KEEPING PHILBIN IS SHAKY: We asked if you agreed with owner Stpehen Ross' decision to retain coach Joe Philbin at least another season and "no" beat "yes" by 53.5 percent to 36.5%, with the other 10.0% undecided.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: Reuslts are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 26.5 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 37-35 victory over visiting MInnesota Vikings putting 1aa1adsmMiami's season record at 8-7. 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 usually 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)

G9: 40.3% (following 20-16 loss at Detroit)

G10: 93.3% (following 22-9 victory vs. Buffalo)

G11: 38.9% (following 39-36 loss at  Denver)

G12: 69.6% (following 16-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G13: 6.1% (following 28-13 loss vs. Baltimore)

G14: 5.1% (following 41-13 loss at New England)

G15: 26.5% (following 37-35 victory vs. Minnesota)

Next/final poll: Dec. 28 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets)

G15: DOLPHINS 37, MINNESOTA 35: MIAMI WINS WILD ONE, TANNEHILL SHINES, PLAYOFFS OUT, PHILBIN RETAINED: Final: Wow. Thrilling game, even on a day when Miami was formally eliminated from playoff contention. Blocked-punt safety in closing minute decides it, but Ryan Tannehill is the star of day with 396 yards passing and career-best four TD passes. Miami now 8-7. Joe Philbin's future was in limbo then suddenly was not as owner Stephen Ross announced postgame that he'd be basck next season. I agree with the call; click HERE for my column from the game. ..... Fourth quarter: Unreal! Miami up 37-35 with 41 seconds left on blocked punt out of end zone by Terrence Fede resulting in safety. ... Cam Wake sack helps Miami get ball back with under a minute left. ... Miami ties it 35-35 with 1:11 left on 3-yard TD pass to Damien Williams -- Tannehill's fourth of game. ... Nightmare! Vikes up 35-28 on 5-yard Asiata scoring rplay immediately after Jarvis Landry fumbles kick-return and five MIN ball at Dolphins' 5. ... MIN ties it 28-28 with 4:46 left on 8-yasrd scoring pass and then Asiata's 2-point conversion run. Fins had stopped earlier attewmpt, buyt Came Wake offsides penalty give Vikes another shot. ... Jarius Wright 8-yard TD pass had Vikes within 28-26. ... Tannehill's third TD passs of game and second to Wallace, from 7 yards out,l has MIA up 28-20 with 6L:39 to play. A fairly entertaining game, after all. ... Vikes within 21-20 on 33-yard FG with 9:52 to play. Well-timed Randy Starks sack on the series. ... MIA leads 21-17, its first lead of game, on Miller's 1-yasrd run ending 64-yard drive. ..... ThIrd quarter: Miami knocking on MIN's goal as quarter ends. ... Bridgewater pass deflected and interceted by Derrick Shelby in MIA territory. But Jared Odrick injured on play. ... Dion Jordan first sack of season! Christmas miracle! ... MIA within 17-14 on Wallace 16-yard pass play from Tannehill, ended with an effort-reach across goalline. ..... Halftime: The great '70s defensive tackle Manny Fernandez, old No. 75, joins the Dolphins Honor Roll in a halftime ceremony. The field is filled with the club's all-time greats, contrasting as always the franchise's present-day struggles. ... Dolphins lead in yards and time of possession but not where it counts. The scoreboard. ..... Second quarter: MIN 17-7 on 18-yard FG with 2 secodns left in half. ... Owner Stephen Ross has been on sideline near Dolphins bench the entire game, not usual. Could be because Manny Fernandez being inducted to team's Honor Roll at halftime. Could be because he's hands-on with his coaching decision. Likely some of both. ... Miami within 14-7 on Tannehill 14-yard strike to Dion Sims capping an impressive 92-yard drive. There's life in here! ... Vikes 14-0 on 21-yard Bridgewater-to-Jennings pass set up by Tannehill INT when ball slipped from his hand. Awful start for Dolphinsd. ..... First quarter: Not feeling much energy from Fins or from fans. ... MIN up 7-0 on Asiata 1-yard scoring run to cap 54-yard yard drive. Fins defense pushed around at the scrimmage line. ... Typical MIA drive to open game, ending in missed 56-yard FG try after Tannehill takes sask to make kick longer. ..... Original post: Minnesota is eliminated from postseason contention but dangerous. Miami is all but mathematically out with a playoff likelihood estimated at 0.7 percent, according to the computer 1aa1adolvikeprojections of makenflplayoffs.com. That constututes the low hopes. So what are the high stakes? The immediate future of the franchise, embodied in coach Joe Philbin's job status. The Dolphins are unlikely to luck into the playoffs, even if they win out. But their performance these last two games -- the fight left in them -- may either save Philbin's job or confirm his doom. He is 22-24 with no playoffs in not quite three seasons. Not good enough, But winning out to finish 9-7 would constitute improvement on the bottom line, at least. Despite that motivating factor for Miami the Vikings' upset shot is sizable here. Purples bring a stout defense to face a struggling Miami team that has been outscored 69-26 the past two weeks in a December swoon that has put that thin ice under Philbin. Miami-born Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater rates 103.3 across his past three starts. Visitors aren’t great on road (2-5), so we’ll stick with Fins, although Miami hasn’t done much to impress ever since blowing that game at Denver a month ago. I do wonder how much fight the demoralized Fins have left in them. Maybe we'll find out today. Meantime how’s this for strange: Outbound 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh might have his choice of the Dolphins or U-Michigan jobs, and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a prominent Michigan alum and major donor. The bright side, then: At least one of Ross’ two favorite teams might get the man it wants. My pick: Dolphins, 23-20.

THE LIST: DOLPHIN HIGH GAMES VS. VIKINGS: Sunday marked only the 12th all-time meeting between the Vikings and Miami. Dolphins major individual records vs. this opponent:

Category                Number    Record setter

Passing yards         431          Dan Marino, 9-25-94

Receiving yards      160          Irving Fryar, 9-25-94

Rushing yards         145          Larry Csonka, 1-13-74*

Team points            35            In 38-35 loss, 9-25-94

*-Csonka's performance was in Super Bowl.

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November 10, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 40.3%; plus Miami falls to Lions in last minute 20-16; also new Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Rooting-for-or-against-LeBron poll, state Collball Week 11 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Our Dolphins-Lions gameblog and postgame thoughts are immediately below the new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 40.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 20-16 loss at Detroit putting Miami's season record at 5-4. 1aa1adsm(That's the season best mark following a defeat). 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)

G9: 40.3% (following 20-16 loss at Detroit)

Next poll: Thursday, Nov. 13 (following game vs.Buffalo)

G9: DOLPHINS @ DETROIT: FAILING TO BRING THE MIAMI SOUND TO MOTOWN: Final: Three-game winning streak ends as Dolphins fall to 5-4 and see playoff shot take a hit, a defeat compounded by left tackle Branden Albert's season-ending knee injury. Heartbreak loss as Miami fought from an early 10-0 deficit to take a late lead before giving it up with 29 seconds left. Bottom line? Miami got beat on pass defense as Matthew Stafford threw for 288 yards and Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate both topped 100 yards receiving. Miami also got beat for its red-zone shortco ing, as with settling for three in the fourth quarter from a 1st-and-goal situation. That gave Miami a 16-13 lead but it turned out to be the losing field goal. A hard-fought game by Dolphins, not a shameful loss by any means. But a hurtful loss nonetheless. ..... Fourth quarter: Sure would be nice to have that one timeout Miami used on defense. ... Theo Riddick 11-yard TD pass from Stafford with 29 seconds left. Good coverage by Reshad Jones, but not good enough. ... Miami gets final timeout back after Philbin argues he never called it. ... Fins back up 16-13 on 20-yard kick after Charles Clay drops TD pass in the e-zone. ... DET knots it 13-13 early in fourth on 5-yard kick. ..... Third quarter: Dolphins' first lead at 13-10 as Tannehill-Wallace 3-yard TD pass immediately followed a long Dion Jordan block-field goal return to the 3. Earl Mitchell had the block. ... MIA within 10-6 on 50-yard FG. Lions momentum has been negated. It's a game again. ... Ugh. Dabiel Thomas loses fumble on first possession. ..... Halftime: It's the defensive struggle we thought it would be. Miami has only 103 total yards and must find a qay to spark the offense. Imbalance in the Fins attack so far, with Tannehill at 20 pass attempts and the team only 10-for-18 rushing. Have the conceded the run? We'll see. Miami gets kick to start second half. Feels like Dolphins lucky to be only down by a touch. ..... Second quarter: Miami within 10-3 on 23-yard FG just before half. ... Oy! LT Branden Albert leaves game injured. ... Grimes interception gets it right back for Miami! ... Tannehill intercepted; his own tackle prevents pick-6. ... Tannehill overthrows Wallace on a deep ball ... Lions try another fake punt -- ballsy! -- but Miami stops it. ... Miami's luck so far: Fake punt is sucessful but penalty negates the first down. Penalties hurting. ..... First quarter: Fins O-line is being overwhelmed. ... DET 10-0 on 49-yard Calvin "Megatron" Johnson catch over much-smaller Brent Grimes. Gorgeous deep pass by Matthew Stafford. ... Quick punt for Miami. Ndamukong Suh having his way with Fins OL. ... Koa Misi defensive stop has Detroit settling for short FG and 3-0 lead on drive extended by successful fake punt. Thought Miami defense played well even though Lions controlled ball for 15 plays. ..... Original post: Eliminate Dolfans and Lions fans, extract the partisanship and remove the betting/fantasy factor. This would still be a game that football fans
1aa1adoldetshould want to watch as the second half of the NFL season kicks off. It weighs in both conference's playoff chase. It involves two of the best defenses in the league. And it matches an improving Dolphins offense -- Miami has averaged 30.6 points since Week 4 -- and a Detroit squad getting top weapon Calvin Johnson back. This will be a huge test for Miami's pass defense especially because, apart from the Megatron factor, Golden Tate has been a handful. Should be fun to watch. I'm not convinced the Lions are better than just pretty good. Last time I watched them they were really lucky to beat awful Atlanta by a point in London. Also, erratic Matthew Stafford usually is a decent bet for a pick or two, and I think the Fins' pass rush will bother him. Detroit is favored here by 3, meaning oddsmakers see it dead-even apart from the home-field factor. My pick: Dolphins, 23-20.

Georgia RB Gurley to Dolphins?: NFLDraftScout.com has its 2015 mock draft out, estimates Miami picking 21st, and has the Dolphins selecting Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Click here for the full first-round guesstimates.

THE LIST: BEST DOLPHINS GAMES VS. DETROIT: This is only 11th all-time meeting between the clubs; Miami leads 7-3. Dolphins have faced only the Giants fewer times (7) among franchises that have been around as long. Most indivdiual passing, rushing and receiving yards by a Dolphin vs. the Lions:

Category         Player                    Yards / Date     

Passing            Dan Marino            310 / Dec. 7, 1997

Rushing           Lamar Smith          125 / Nov. 5, 2000

Receiving        Marty Booker          115 / Nov. 23, 2006

Poll result: Heat fans are rooting against LeBron: We asked in the previous blogpost, and "rooting against" beat "rooting for" by a nearly 4-1 margin, 58.6 percent to 15.2.0%. The other 26.2% answered that they are "pretty much ignoring" LeBron this season.

HOT BUTTON NOV. 9: 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: Detroit Sunday, then quick Thursday turnaround: Here's your early holiday gift, Dolfans. Two games -- two important games -- in five days, starting in Motown today, then following with Buffalo here Thursday night.

2. Hurricanes: Idle Canes preparing to host FSU in six days: It's No. 2 FSU here Saturday at 8 p.m. Jameis Winston's lawyers want his student conduct code hearing delayed. UM lawyers counter-propose that the hearing be scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. 

3. Heat: Miami, LeBron both win: Heat won last night to improve to 4-2, and LeBron's Cavs also won their last game to go to 2-3. Take a picture of the standings. Might not be much longer that Miami has the better record.

4. College basketball: Canes open season on Friday at home: NCAA hoops tips off in five days, with Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes men hosting Howard after Katie Meier's women face Oakland. Both UM teams are judged mid-pack in the ACC, suggesting March Madness may be closer to March Mildness in the 305.

5. NASCAR: One week until season crescendo at Homestead: Today in Phoenix determines the final four drivers eligible for NASCAR's season title next Sundday at Homestead. Winner will be whichever driver has fastest car, or the most luck avoiding the vindictive non-qualifiers hell-bent on running the finalists into a wall.

6. Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod's latest shame: It was reported The Yankees' fading star, under oath, admitted all about his PED use to DEA agents, while still continuing to publicly deny all wrongdoing. We thought he was cheat. Turned out he was a cheat, and a lliar.

7. Stephen Ross: Dolphins owner puts business over football: Ross agreed to have Miami play a "home game" against the division rival Jets in London next year, denying the team one of eight home games, and cheating Dolfans of the joy of booing their most hated rival.

8. Marlins: Club begins contract talks with Stanton: Giancarlo Stanton, who finds out Thursday if he is the NL MVP, has begun talks with club about possibly re-signing long-term. Hope Jeffrey Loria isn't involved. Writing a check with that many commas must make him nauseous. 

9. Panthers: Hockey team loses, but at least finds the net: Florida lost 6-4 last night to the Calgary Flames. The good news? Cats topped two goals for only the second time all season.

10. Soccer: Strikers reach NASL title game: Fort Lauderdale Strikers will visit San Antonio next Saturday in the NASL championship game, the club's first shot at a title since the 1980 Soccer bowl in the original NASL. Holy Cor van der Hart!

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June 01, 2014

Predict Heat-Spurs NBA Finals. Who wins and in how many? Poll. Vote!; plus my 'orange jumpsuit' regret, Marino/Kelly, jilted Wozniacki & more

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 2. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat-Pacers. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Spurs-or-Thunder poll, Heat-Pacers Game 6, vote Stanton, Dolphins forecast, Scout Willis & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

HEAT-SPURS FINALS REMATCH: SAME RESULT, OR DIFFERENT?: The NBA prepares for its first Finals rematch since Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls met (and twice beat) Karl Malone's Utah Jazz in 1997-98. 1aa1anbafinals 1aa1alenduncCan the Heat repeat for a three-peat? The oddsmakers doubt it. Miami is a 3 1/2-point underdog for Thursday night's Game 1 in San Antonio, and generally a narrow underdog in the series -- although Las Vegas Hilton and a few other sports books have the betting odds dead even. It should stay close, with the Spurs' superior record and home-court advantage offsetting Miami's double-champion pedigree. San Antonio has the revenge factor -- "We'll do it this time," said Tim Duncan -- and also is seen as a tough matchup for Miami, which may not have the low-post presence to contend with Duncan, Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw. The Spurs also have been shooting well from 3-point range this postseason.But do you really ewant to underestimate LeBron James and Miami's chase at history. We've done this poll before every round. How do you expect the NBA Finals to turn out? Not what you hope but what you honestly predict. Vote and say why.

Poll results: Heat fans wanted Thunder, not Spurs: We asked in the previous blogpost and 59.2 percent preferred Miami face Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals, versus 40.8% who preferred San Antonio. Notably, the vote for OKC was running closer to 70-30, but votes for San Antonio flooded in once the Spurs won last night to clinch a spot in the Finals.

I WAS WRONG ON 'ORANGE JUMPSUIT' REFERENCE: A quick backgrounder for those unaware. My column off the Heat's clinching Game 6 win over Indiana the other night spent a good deal of time eviscerating the Pacers' Lance Stephenson for his dirty play and buffoonish antics, and the column included the following paragraph: "Stephenson’s egregiously dirty streetball gives one the impression that if his skills hadn’t put him in NBA clothes, his uniform by now might be an orange jumpsuit, county-issue." It was one sentence, low in the column, but it was seen as racially charged in a way I did not intend. I initially stood behind what I wrote against a backlash on Twitter, but upon reflection I was wrong to make the orange-jumpsuit reference and wish I had not. I say this not because my boss ordered me to or because of any Tweeted outcry, but because I realized I'd made an assumption about Stephenson that made me uncomfortable defending. Neither Stephenson's behavior in the Heat series nor his past off-court incidents, including a charge he threw his girlfriend down a flight of stairs, justifies a presumption he might be in jail if not in the NBA. The fact I'd have made the same reference to a white player who had that history and behaved like that in the series also does not justify the presumption. Anybody who has done what I do for a living for this long has been guilty of an occasional lapse in judgment. For me, this was one.

1aa1amarino visitMARINO VISITS KELLY: Once, rivals. Now, old friends, one reaching out to the other. Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino visited former Bills counterpart Jim Kelly in the hospital Sunday as Kelly continues to battle oral cancer and undergo radiation treatment in upstate New York. Click here for a brief video. Pictured, Marino with Kelly in the hospital. (Howard Schnellenberger, Kelly's old UM coach, and ex-Bills GM Bill Polian also were visiting Kelly on Sunday).

1aa1acarolineCAROLINE ON THE REBOUND: Dumped unceremoniously by fiance golfer Rory McIlroy in a brief phone call, jilted tennis star Caroline Wozniacki bounced back impressively on Saturday with some fun on the sands of Miami Beach. Nice touch on the 'Lover' T, too. Her throwing motion may be somehwat suspect but (Mildly Sexist Comment Alert) her form otherwise seems quite good, actually. Rory, Rory, Rory. Quick aside: My son and I, over golf on Sunday (96 at Davie Golf Club to his 87), were discussing how Rory had dropped Caroline after wedding invitations already had gone out, in a move so sudden and unexpected that Caroline at first thought the phone call was a joke. My in-his-20s son was defending Rory. Drawing on experience, I suggested he deftly omit his defense of Rory should the topic of the breakup ever happen to arise in a conversation with his girlfriend. Fore!

THE LIST: MLB DIVISION RACES: The Marlins' division, the NL East, is the most competitive in baseball this season, based on fewest combined games behind (CGB) the frontrunner, entering Monday's games:

Division        CGB (2nd)

NL East        16.5 (3.0)

AL Central    22.5 (4.5)

AL East        24.5 (3.5)

AL West       28.5 (4.5)

NL Central    31.0 (4.0)

NL West       42.0 (7.5)

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May 28, 2014

Lance the Buffoon (with blow-in-ear vid); plus Heat's G5 loss on George's 37, LeBron's fouls; also Heat Postseason MVP race (updated) & more

1aa1amayanagelou1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 29. R.I.P., Maya Angelou (pictured), America's Poet Laureate, gone at 86. I recall reading 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' in a college literary class, and later being grateful for the assignment. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Five signs the Pacers are imploding, Heat-Pacers Game 4, Pat Riley enters your bedroom, fast food Top10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

LANCE STEPHENSON MAY BE THE STRANGEST MAN IN AMERICA: Ray Allen's word for Stephenson's antics is "buuffonery." He nails it like a 3-pointer.

 

G5: INDIANA 93, HEAT 90: CHAMPS STILL UP 3-2 HEADING BACK TO MIAMI: Final: What a bizarre, bizarre game. Miami had a last-second go-ahead shot despite a nightmare game by LeBron James, whose five fouls led to limited minutes and a career-playoff-low 7 points. At least two or three of those five fouls were marginal calls, but, let's not go all Indy and blame the officiating. It wasn't just the foul trouble. James was 2-for-10 shooting. Does a Heat fan take heart that it came down to the last seconds despite a rare non-LeBron night? Now it comes down to a Game 6 back in Miami Friday night, with the pressure shifting to the Heat. Nobody was great for Miami last night. Put it this way: Rashard Lewis (18 points; 6-9 on 3's) may have been the Heat's best player. Chris Bosh had 20 with 10 rebounds. Dwyane Wade had 18, and Ray Allen 15. I said earlier this was a bizarre game. Miami makes 15 3's and loses? Strange, strange. I do not blame LeBron for passing up a last-second drive to the basket for a potential game-tying shot, instead passing to Bosh for a winning 3 he missed. "He went for the kill," said coach Erik Spoelstra of James' pass. (For those who have asked: I was not in Indianapolis for Game 5 due to the sudden, unexpected death of a longtime friend whose funeral was Wednesday in Fort Myers). ..... Halftime: Miami up 42-33, remarkably, despite LeBron James mostly sitting with more fouls (3) than points (2). Heat plus-13 points with James out. How depressing that must be for fading Indiana! Ray Allen with 10 off the bench, Chris Bosh's 9 and Dwyane Wade's 8 carrying Miami, along with a pair of 3's by Rashard Lewis. ..... Original post: You could call both teams wounded for tonight's Eastern finals Game 5 in Indianapolis. But Miami's wounds are superficial, with top reserves Ray Allen and Chris (Birdman) Andersen both questionable with minor injuries. Indiana's wounds appear mortal, playoff- 1aa1aheat-pacersg5 1aa1amia-indlebronlife threatening. They are down 3-1 as they face elimination, and only 3.6 percent of teams in this situation in NBA history (8 of 222) have prevailed in the series. I'm no mathematician, but that gives Miami a 96.4% likelihood of reaching the NBA Finals again. The big question is 1aa1aheatindywhether that advance takes place tonight or in Game 6 back in Miami. Do the Heat have the imperative to close it out on the road? Do the Pacers have any fight left? New Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, on the radio with us Tuesday on the Dan Le Batard Show, said he thought the Pacers showed "mental weakness" and were "running from accountability." He meant Paul "We Outplayed Them" George blaming the officiating. He meant Roy "Big Zero" Hibbert blaming the game plan. He might also have mentioned Lance Stephenson's foolhardy LeBron-baiting, or coach Frank Vogel embarrassing himself by yelling at Shane Battier to distract his 3-point shot. Indiana is in excuses-mode, indicative of a team unable, at the moment, to come to grips with simply not being good enough, and on the verge of being eliminated from the postseason by nemesis Miami for a third straight season. Let' see if that's a reality that is forced to sink in tonight.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. Rashard Lewis, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. Dwyane Wade. Updated standings through 14 playoff games, including tonight's Heat-Pacers Game 5: LeBron James 31 points, Dwyane Wade 23, Chris Bosh 13, Ray Allen 8, Rashard Lewis 3, Chris Andersen 2, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

THE LIST: TOP MUSIC EARNERS, 1990-PRESENT: This is in my wheelhouse because I love music and appreciate longevity. These are Billboard's top 10 musical acts from 1990 to 2014 based on concert tour revenue:

Rank    Artist                        Revenue     Shows

1         Rolling Stones            1.566B       538

2         U2                              1.515         526

3         Bruce Springsteen      1.196        727

4         Madonna                    1.140        382

5         Bon Jovi                     1.030        578

6         Elton John                     787M      956

7         Dave Matthews Band     777        992

8         Kenny Chesney             753        755

9         Celine Dion                   738        1143

10        The Eagles                   702        484

Note: I think I have all of the above, on iTunes, CD or album (yes, album) other than Celine.  

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May 26, 2014

5 signs Pacers are imploding (including Vogel-yell video); plus James, Bosh lead G4 win, Heat postseason MVP table, fast food & more

1aa1agodzilla1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 27. At right, Godzilla devours E.T. and that adorable kid. 2) We needn't require an annual holiday (Memorial Day) to honor our war dead. Thank you today, too, fallen heroes. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat and the good noise/bad noise forever surrounding LeBron James. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Nine Heat truths we hold self-evident, Heat-Pacers Game 3, Charles Barkley, Mel Kiper's early prejection & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.

Click on Thou Shall Not Irritate LeBron James for my column off last night's Heat win.

FIVE INDICATIONS THE PACERS ARE IMPLODING: No, I mean beyond their 3-1 series deficit to Miami that now makes their odds of winning the Eastern Conference finals equal to the likelihood Kim Kardashian will suddenly eschew fame and spotlight and quietly become a nun:

1aa1apgeorgepost1. Paul George's postgame lunacy: "I thought we outplayed them," he said late last night, as a large room full of media looked at each other and worked to stifle outbursts of braying, incredulous laughter. George said he found it "demoralizing" that Indiana was so superior in all phases and yet lost at the free-throw line because of "home cooking" by the officials. (Over/under on the league fine the NBA cooks up for George: $25,000). By the way, somebody point out to Paul that Miami scored 20 points off his team's turnovers, and invite him to blame the refs for that. Lame excuses, Indiana.

2. Lance Stephenson's mouth: (See my rrelated game column) Lance's maw was wide open and yakking before the game, talking about how LeBron James' trash talking had been a "sign of weakness" and that he was "under his skin." Then, during the game last night, Lance was as a church mouse. Somebody give that man a choke sign.

3. Roy Hibbert zeroes in. Hibbert can do the seemingly impossible. He can be a 7-2 giant on national television, and completely disappear. Last night: 0 points. Your cat scored as many. Pacers were minus-23 points with him on the court. And his defense against Chris Bosh was as nonexistent as his offense.

4. World's shortest bench. This doesn't really fit with the others, but, have you noticed? In terms of bench/depth/rotation, Indiana is pretty much bereft with the exception of Luis Scola and his 1970s hair.

5. Frank Vogel's schoolyard yell. Saved my favorite for last. This is a classic. Vogel, the Pacers' nerdy coach, screaming at Shane Battier as he attempts a three-point shot. Recalls my old Little League days, when, as the opposing outfielder raced toward a fly ball, we'd shout, "TREE STUMP!" C'mon, Frank. Seriously!? Be a grownup. Postscript: Battier made the shot.

 

G4: HEAT 102, INDIANA 90: MIAMI IN CHARGE AT 3-1: LeBron James' 31 points and 10 rebounds and schooling of Lance Stephenson was the big story overall, although Chris Bosh's fast start and 25 points set the early tone. Click on Thou Shall Not Irritate LeBron James for my full column off the game. Original post: Looking at tonight's Game 4 from two angles. I love the seven-game series format because every result dramatically alters the framework of how the series looks and feels. Take tonight back at the downtown bayside arena. A 1aa1azheat-pacg4 1aa1alenlanceMiami win to make it a 3-1 series lead would put the defending-champion Heat in full control of these Eastern Conference finals and have even the most hopeful Pacers fans bracing for a third 1aa1aecfstraight playoff elimination by their nemesis. But! A road upset by the Pacers tonight to even the series 2-2, with Game 5 in Indianapolis, would swing momentum suddenly back to the team that is both the No. 1 seed and yet the underdog. OK that's the big-picture angle. Now the other one. I also love a seven-game series format because it is long enough to become its own soap opera. Hard fouls on the court and dumb comments off it can turn up the intensity and volume. That happened in the runup to tonight's game when Pacers guard Lance Stephenson said Sunday that LeBron James trash-talked him in the last game and called that "a sign of weakness" by James. (The two are pictured, with Stephenson either defending James or trying to kiss him on the left cheek). There is a history here. Lance, of course, made a choke sign (from the bench) in the 2012 playoffs after James missed a key late free throw. Stephenson is 23, so I suppose he can still play the young-and-stupid card, but two points  must be made here. 1) Publicly jabbing LeBron is never smart. He is due a monster game offensively; his 49-pointer in Brooklyn is his only plus-30 since the first round. And you know James would delight in showing up the mouthy Stephenson tonight. 2) Stephenson is a nice young player, a pretty good shooting guard, active defender, and also somebody who would not start for Miami. Three NBA seasons have not seen him within shouting distance of an all-star team or a leaderboard. Stephenson is a grain of sand. LeBron is the beach. It will be delicious to see if those roles come clear tonight.

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. Dwyane Wade. The updated standings through 13 playoff games, including tonight's Heat-Pacers Game 4: LeBron James 31 points, Dwyane Wade 22, Chris Bosh 11, Ray Allen 8, Chris Andersen 2, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

1aa1arilesbed
RILEY HAS YOUR BEDROOM COVERED:
 Urgent update: Heat prez Pat Riley's business arm, Riles & Co., has extended trademark rights to the phrase Three-Peat (and 3-Peat) to include bed covers, linens, blankets, sheets and towels. He has held the trademark since his late '80s Lakers days, but has now gone bed, bath and beyond. Further updates as needed.

THE LIST: FAST-FOOD CHAINS: The world's top 10 fast-food chains based on number of restaurants:

Rank  Chain                  Restaurants

1       Subway                41,641

2       McDonald's           34,492

3       Starbucks             20,184

4       KFC                      18,875

5      Pizza Hut               14,067

6      Burger King           13,667

7      Dunkin' Donuts      10,862

8      Domino's Pizza       10,566

9      Baskin-Robbins       7,294

10    Wendy's                  6,557 

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April 28, 2014

G4: Heat 109, Charlotte 98: Sweep = sleep!; plus new Dolphins draft projections, NBA racist-owner poll, Panthers, Dr. Jack, Ireland, Herald & more

1aa1amichotwalt1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 29. Demolition has begun on the iconic Miami Herald building, and Walt Michot's photo here is worth a thousdand words, all of them sad. 2) Jay Z and Beyonce's summer tour will kick off June 25 at Dolphins stadium. 3) ICYMI, click on The Perfect Quarterback for our column on the death of Dolphins icon Earl Morrall. It generated a voluminous positive reaction. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Charlotte G3 with preview/live blog/postgame thoughts/Sunday reflections, Dolphins best-game result & more. 5) Join us Twitter @gregcote.

Panthers fire coach: The Florida Panthers today fired coach Peter Horacheck. It isn't a susprise in the least. They never removed the "interm" tag from him, he did not spark a notable turnaround, and the Cats need a replacement with more NHL experience. With an impressive young nucleus of talent and the No. 1 overall draft pick coming, Florida has a fairly inviting roster. Now GM Dale Tallon must find a premier goal-scorer and make the right coaching hire to re-energize a listing franchise.

No radio today: No me today on the Dan Le Batard Show. I'll be on Friday this week instead.

DOLPHINS LATEST DRAFT PROJECTIONS: ESPN dueling Mock Drafters Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay crap their latest guesswork today and Kiper has Miami selecting Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley 19th overall, while McShay has the Fins picking Virginia tackle Morgan Moses. They have Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin -- the guy Miami really wants -- going 15th and 17th, respectively. Sounds like a trade-up for Martin may be the way to go.

Seahawks hire Jeff Ireland as a temp: Champion Seattle has hired ex-Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland as a consultant through next month's draft. Explained coach Pete Carroll: "We were tired of all this success." Naw, Pete didn't really say that. But Seattle really DID hire Ireland.

G4 FINAL: HEAT 109, CHARLOTTE 98: SWEEP = SLEEP: Postgame: Miami sweeps Charlotte 4-0 with tonight's triumph led by LeBron James' 31 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Now let the playoffs begin! I mean the real playoffs. Brooklyn-Toronto winner on deck for Miami in next round, but, with that series tied 2-2, Heat could be in a for a full week's rest thanks to this sweep. Tonight's Heat 3 Stars: 1. LeBron. (Or did that go without saying); 2. Chris Bosh, with 17 points, 8 rebounds; 3. Norris Cole, with a sparky 13 points, 4 assists off the bench. ..... Halftime thoughts: Heat trail by two 54-52, but Al Jefferson sitting for Bobcats with foot injury and like Heat based on flow of game. Funny that Charlotte fans boo LeBron James at every touch. It's so 2010! Loved Heat's pregame warmup-shirt stunt in support of Clippers and against racist Donald Sterling. Miami shooting only 41.5%, only 2-for-12 from 3 and LeBron with a mortal 11 points and yet it's a (near) even game. Thse things do not bode well for the Bobs. ..... Original post: While playing golf on Saturday (I had a 93 at Inverrary-East while my showboat son shot 79), I predicted the fired-up Heat would win that night's Game 3 easily but 1aa1aheatchag4 1aa1aheatcha 1aa1aheatsweepthen lose Game 4, which is tonight. I called the first one right. Now I'm wavering on tonight.  All know the series is effectively over, and that in 108 all-time NBA playoff sets the team up 3-0 has won every time -- 108 for 108. But human nature can work two ways tonight. It might spark the Bobcats to avoid the embarrassment of a series shutout coupled with the Heat being complacent and coasting. Or! It might find the Bobcats going through the motions, resigned to defeat, while the Heat rev it up again for the sweep -- knowing that would mean welcome extra rest before the next round. Unlike Saturday, I don't have a strong feeling which way this one will go. (I'll be back here with commentary at halftime and postgame).

THE LIST: HEAT-CHARLOTTE SERIES SCORING LEADERS: The top five updated through Game 4:

1. LeBron James, Heat            30.0

2. Kemba Walker, Bobcats       19.5

3. Al jefferson, Bobcats           18.7

4. Dwyane Wade, Heat            17.5

5. Chris Bosh, Heat                 14.5

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated through 4 games/first round): Entering second round: LeBron James 11 points, Dwyane Wade 6, Chris Bosh 4, Chris Andersen 1, Norris Cole 1, James Jones 1. (We name 'Heat 3 Stars' every game and award points on 3-2-1 basis).

MY VIEW: NBA SHOULD FORCE OUT STERLING AS OWNER. NOW YOUR VIEW GOES HERE: No company or entity that deals with the public can afford to be owned or led by a racist -- let alone a franchise owner in 1aa1adonaldsthe NBA, with more than 70 percent of its players African-American. That is why L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racism on that audio tape is such a bombshell-crisis for the NBA and must be dealt with quickly. For now the NBA has told Sterling (pictured) not to show up at Tuesday's Clippers home playoff game, but surely more punishment is ahead. I think Sterling needs to be forced out as owner or at least be made to relinquish his authority -- the harshest penalty. But a hefty suspension and/or fine also is possible. Perhaps you think a public apology would suffice. Some of you may even think no punishment is due because, after all, it's a free country and Sterling isn't breaking any laws with his views even as they outrage most of us including NBA star like the Heat's LeBron James, who said, "There is no place for Donald Sterling in our league." How would you handle this situation if you were new NBA commissioner Adam Silver? (Hmm. Sterling and Silver. How bizarre). Take a dip in our poll and say why.

1aa1adrjackHEAT REACT TO DEATH OF "DR. JACK": [Update: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is pcitured left at age 10, with Dr. Jack at a basketball camp in 1980. Lil' Erik was so cuuuuute!] Original post: Jack Ramsay passed away Monday morning at age 89 at his home in Naples, Fla., after a long battle with cancer. (Naples, 1aa1adrspocoincidentally, was also the adopted hometown where Dolphins great Earl Morrall died on Friday). Ramsay is best known as the basketball Hall of Famer and 20-year NBA coach who led the Portland Trailblazers to their only championship in 1977. But his post-coaching career in broadcasting also was long and accomplished. He has a niche in Heat history as the team's eight-season on-air personality alongside Eric Reed from 1992-2000. Fans may recall the Dr. Jack nugget, "This-away, that-away, Hardaway!" Team owner Micky Arison said today, "When I first bought the team we had no basketball organization in place and Dr. Jack was the first person who I turned to for advice. So for a few days, he was the entire basketball organization for the Miami Heat. Over the years I often turned to him for advice. Club president Pat Riley said: "Dr. Jack Ramsay meant a great deal to me as a mentor when I was coaching and while I've been with the Heat running the team." Ramsay's long, remarkable life included a pre-hoops stint in the Navy working underwater demolition. R.I.P.

GATORS, CANES ODDS FOR '15 NCAA MEN'S HOOPS TITLE: With deadline past for declaring for NBA draft, new odds are out on 2014-15 NCAA men's basketball season, and national-championship favorites are Kentucky at 5-1, Duke 9-1, Wisconsin 12-1 and Kansas 14-1. Florida, Arizona and North Carolina are bunched at 16-1. Miami is 66-1, ahead of Florida State's 100-1.

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