August 30, 2015

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Canes, Marlins, FIU, LLWS, tennis, horses, Scully; plus latest 'Weighing The Fish,' Fins fantasy ranks, escaping Cone of Doom & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 31. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with onset of college football. 2) Backup Kirk Cousins reportedly will start for Redskins in Sept. 13 season opener vs. Dolphins. That doesn't help Miami. Such is the state of Robert Griffin III. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Twitter study finds Heat dominating local teams on social media, Gronkowskis = Kardashians, Serena wins pole position & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afiuronturnerFIU football: Turner's tall task: I probably don't write about FIU enough but for me it's a chicken-or-egg thing; unless you're a Kardashian, you have to earn the attention you get. Anyway, in my latest column I write why FIU's Ron Turner (pictured) has the toughest coaching job in South Florida. Click on Attitude Adjustment, Culture Makeover to read.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' special section: ICYMI, the Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50"

coverage, commemorating
the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season, arrived in the Old Classic print version
yesterday and remains available online. Click FINS AT 50 to access entire project. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND, my main column on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST, my list of the 50 top figures (not just players!) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM, my picks for that honor. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS, my conversations with Shula, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. I also have an added Shula-by-the-numbers column not in the original package; click TOP 10 NUMBERS to read.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Reminding you our Dolphins postgame DSM polls will be back in the blog again this year, but starting with the regular season on Sept. 13.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tannehill, starting D sharp again as Fins win preseason home debut: Miami is only 1-2 in exhibitions after Saturday's 13-9 win over Atlanta (game blog and postgame thoughts below), but the starting units look season-ready entering this coming Thursday's preseason finale vs. Tampa Bay. Based on August, Tannehill may be fast-climbing fantasy draft boards. (But the whisper remains: Can we trust August?)

2. HURRICANES: College football arrives! UM loses top RB with opener less than a week away: Coach Al Golden's Hurricanes, who open the season this coming Saturday vs. Bethune-Cookman, suffered a big blow with the news that expected starting running back Gus Edwards would miss the season with a foot injury. It's one more reason to doubt the Canes. If doubt is fuel, UM has a full tank in '15.

3. MARLINS: Stanton return from injury now on horizon: Fish have lost nine of past 12 to continue The Lost Season, but at least slugger Giancarlo Stanton is close. Marlins begin an extended homestand on Friday and Stanton figures to return sometime during it. Meantime, the club gives indications it might move the fences in next year. Giving Stanton shorter fences is like giving Bill Gates a raise.

4. FIU: Panthers open football season on road in three days: FIU begins its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner on Thursday at UCF. Turner seems to be making progress in turning around the Panthers program. The question now is whether hair-trigger FIU athletic director Pete Garcia will give him time to finish the job.

5. LITTLE LEAGUE: Japan beats U.S. for world title: The U.S. champion (Pennsylvania) squandered a 10-2 lead and lost to Japan on Sunday in the International final of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. By the way, a boy named Alex Edmondson pitched two no-hitters during the LLWS but you probably didn’t hear about it because, unfortunately for him, his name wasn’t Mo’Ne Davis.

6. TENNIS: U.S. Open starts today with all eyes on Serena: For the first time ever the women’s final has sold out before the men’s as fans anticipate Serena Williams completing the sport’s first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Now Serena's path is even easier with the withdrawal of Maria Sharapova. It almost isn't unfair. They should make Serena use a badminton racket.

7. HORSES: American Pharoah shocking loser at Travers: Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, a 1-5 favorite, lost to longshot Keen Ice at the historic Travers at Saratoga on Saturday. (Note to most of America: Yes, there are horse races other than the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont). 

8. VIN SCULLY: Dodgers broadcaster says he isn't done yet: Scully, who'll be 88 in November, said he would return next season for a 67th and final year broadcasting the Dodgers games. Put it this way: When last somebody else called Dodgers games, the president was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  

9. LEBRON JAMES: Ex-Heater sells Coconut Grove home: LeBron sold his 12,178-square-foot Coconut Grove waterfront mansion (including a theater and wine cellar) for $13.4 million. The question now: Do I redecorate?

10. DARRYL DAWKINS: Beloved ex-NBA stars dies: R.I.P. to the dunk specialist they called "Chocolate Thunder," who died at 58. The good news? I won big. As soon as I heard the news, I immediately invested in lame media references to "dunking in heaven."

Missing the HB10 cut: Tropical storm Erika turned out to be no threat to South Florida, despite local meteorologists' best efforts to scare us into panic mode. ..... Refurbished Dolphins stadium debuts. It looks good. If only it weren't 11,000 seats smaller. ..... Lawyers for NFL and Tom Brady are due back Monday for latest round of arguments. If this “Deflategate” morass were any more ridiculous, they’d move it from federal court to Vaudeville. ..... Marlins honor Dontrelle Willis but he's a no-show. Club president David Samson calls himself "flummoxed," becoming first sports figure since 1959 to use word "flummoxed." ..... Southern Cal football coach Steve Sarkisian profanely addresses boosters and fans while drunk. ..... Cris Carter apologizes for telling players at NFL Rookie Symposium they should have a “fall guy” to help them avoid trouble. An alternate piece of advice he might have been: Stay out of trouble so you don’t need a “fall guy.” ..... Now-retired former Dolphins bullying victim Jonathan Martin revealed he has contemplated suicide, seriously impinging my ability to make fun of him.

DOLPHINS 13, ATLANTA 9 (FAUX-GAME 3): THIS ONE COUNTED! (OK, NOT REALLY. BUT SORT OF): FINAL: Encouragingly, this was the third game in a row Miami's offensive and defensive starters outplayed the other team and performed very well. These units look season-ready. This time a win resulted for a 1-2 exhibition record, but it's the play of the main units that should have Dolfans nearly giddy. Tannehill tonight was 15-for-19 for 145 yards and a TD, Jarvis Landry looked good, and the defense was terrific, including six sacks. All of ATL's points came off Miami miscues. More importantly, coach Joe Philbin indicated after the game he did not think center Mike Pouncey's knee injury was a concern. In terms of roster spots last tonight, rookie kicker Andrew Franks may have drawn even with Caleb Sturgis. And I'd no longer be surprised if Josh Freeman edged Matt Moore for the backup QB role. ..... Fourth Quarter: MIA fumble recovery with 1:21 left at own 18 preserves win. ... Four-point late lead on rookie Franks' 51-yard FG. ... MIA recovers fumble with 4:13 left. ... More rain; not many fans still at Joe's Place. ... Third-string QB Josh Freeman looking pretty good, at wheel for 10-9 lead finished by 32Y FG by rookie Andrew Franks with 7 minutes to play. Longshot Franks stays in the competition with incumbent Caleb Sturgis for the PK job. ... ATL up 9-7. All Falcons points have followed Dolphins miscues. ... Matt Moore intercepted and 43Y return have Falcons poised to take lead. ..... Third Quarter: Goalline stand by backup defense preserves lead in scoreless third. ... Looks like second half will be reserves. Once again, for third game preseason game in a row, starters performed wel. ..... Half: Modest 7-6 lead but Dolphins very impressive overall. Tannehill 15-19 for 145 yards and a TD before giving way to Moore, Jarvis Landry 6 catches for 84 yards, and defense keeping Falcons punter busy. ATL's only points set up by a muffed Miami punt snap and a turnover. ..... Second quarter: ATL within 7-6 on 50Y field goal after late turnover. ... Matt Moore replaces Tannehill late in half. ... Center Mike Pouncey out with knee injury but does not seem serious. Questionable return but doubt he does as a precaution. ... MIA 7-0 on Rishard Matthews short TD pass from Tannehill. ..... First Quarter: Jarvis Landry 45-yard catch and run wakes up crowd. ... Late 1Q but Miami already subbing on defense, several starters already out.  ... Falcs parlay field position into 43-yard FG and 3-0 lead, but Fins defense looking good. ... Rain starts. Bad snap leads to muffed Dolphins pun after a couple of dropped passes. ... Quick ATL punt. DT Earl Mitchell playing like, "Suh, who?" ... Miami punt to open game. ... Pregame: Sparse crowd. Stadium improvements look good but fans aren't dumb. It's still a glorified practice game ... Hullo? Is this mic on? We'll be live-blogging the game here tonight and then have a postgame mini-column. ..... Original post: Atlanta Falcons here tonight in Miami's third exhibition game and, yes, it matters a little bit. A few reasons why and 1aa1abigdealother thoughts entering tonight: 1) Home debut, like-new stadium: It's the 2015 home debut of a Dolphins team that has a buzz about it, and in a refurbished stadium that also will look and feel new. A fall-flat performance would be a letdown. Especially because... 2) Playing to win: After two earlier losses in which the starters played well, but briefly, Miami will actually play to win for the first time, in a "dress rehearsal" game that figures to see the starters play much more. Atlanta has been 4-12 and 6-10 the past two seasons, so, yes, a loss tonight to go 0-3 would hurt in a way the past two did not. 3) Can't play scared: They'll balance the want to win with staying healthy. Since Ryan Tannehill and most other starters likely won't even play in next week's preseason finale, a key injury tonight is the worst fear. However! Reject the scared notion that Tannehill shouldn't play at all because of that 1aa1ahelmet testfear. He needs the added work behind his line, with his mostly new receivers, and against a live defense. You don't approach a game with your tail between your legs. 4) The offensive line: Seeking progress from an offensive line in flux due to both injuries and the questions at guard. Tonight guard Dallas Thomas likely will start at left tackle ... so be alert and nimble, Tannehill! 5) Position battles: In addition to the guard play, Walt Aikens is the heir to injured Louis Delmas' safety job. Is he up to the task? We may see tonight, as the Falcons' Matt Ryan will offer the best passing attack Miami has yet faced. Kicker Caleb Sturgis also must button-down his role tonight or risk still losing it. Bonuses: Interesting piece on coach Joe Philbin this week on Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback site; click here to read). Finally, pictured left, apropos of nothing, a prototype football helmet being tested as the wearer heaves himself into a wall, circa 1912. Evidently no concussion concerns back then.

WEIGHING THE FISH (130 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the departed Michael Morse but included Cole Gillespie even though he is one at-bat shy at 129). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton led comfortably before his injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 130 games (at 52-78):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @120

1  Dee Gordon                  430.9    1

2  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   358.0   3

4  Martin Prado              308.1    6

5  Christian Yelich         286.3   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         286.1   5

7  Marcell Ozuna            264.2   8

8  Justin Bour                 260.6    7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              228.6   9

10  Derek Dietrich          195.1   10

11  Cole Gillespie            140.1   --

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 4.

1aa1alamarmillerDOLPHINS' IN FANTASY RANKINGS: ESPN.com's official and final Top 300 fantasy rankings (click here for full list) includes 11 Dolphins, though none are pegged higher than what would be the third round in most drafts. The Fins listed, in order: 29th--RB Lamar Miller (pictured); 65th--WR Jarvis Landry; 87th--TE Jordan Cameron; 113th--WR DeVante Parker; 136th--RB Jay Ajayi; 142nd--Dolphins defense; 148th--QB Ryan Tannehill; 181st--RB Damien Williams; 191st--PK Caleb Sturgis; 197th--WR Kenny Stills; and 232nd--WR Greg Jennings. Quick thought: I think Tannehill, the 11th-ranked QB, could be somebody's draft steal. 

METEROLOGISTS SECRETLY DOWNTRODDEN AS SOUTH FLORIDA EVADES ERIKA'S CONE OF DOOM: Erika, the tropical storm, evidently not only won't become a hurricane but will be downgraded to a depression, or perhaps even a stiff breeze. This is good 1aa1acanestvfor South Florida, but bad of course for the people who sell plywood, ice, batteries and such. It's also bad for local TV meteorologists, who sell panic and at every opportunity foment an anxiety that leads to comically premature preparation. We'll probably get some rain and maybe some barely strong winds late Sunday into Monday. That's it. Am I making fun of hurricanes or the preparation for them. No! Certainly not on the 10-year anniversary of Katrina. Real hurricanes must be taken seriously. I am making fun of local TV weather people over-dramatizing every threat. I am picturing disappointed meteorologists downtrodden today, likely drinking heavily as they wistfully picture themselves beachside filming heroically in front of wind-whipped Stop signs.

Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 23, 2015

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins and Rappin' Joe, Canes, Marlins, NFL, LeBatard, Heat, Tiger, FIU; plus Fins-Cats, Entercom's shameful undercut in local radio & more

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

1aa1ajjfish1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 24. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) Pictured left: Reasons why Jimmy Johnson will never get back into coaching. This is JJ's prize from a recent fishing trip to Bimini. Click on image for a larger version. Life is good. 3) Happy birthday to my terrific wife, the greatest person I know! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exclusive on LeBatard Show move, love of NFL poll, Weighing The Fish, 2 Canes honored, ranking Miami uniforms, best-fans verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' project: The Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click FINS AT 50 to access entire project and all its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for that honor. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with Shula and also Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Enjoy!

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: A reminder, our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls will be back this year, but they start with the regular season, not the preseason.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins 0-2 in preseason but starters encouraging again: Miami is now 0-2 in fake games after last night's 31-30 loss at Carolina, but for a second straight week Ryan Tannehill and the starting units looked strong. Meanwhile coach Joe Philbin, in a white top hat and tails, rapped on stage for players in a talent show Friday night (see video below). Oh how I wish I were kidding! While practicing in Carolina for a few days Philbin also took his players on a team outing to see the movie Straight Outta Compton. That surprised me. I always thought of Philbin as more of an East Coast rappers kind of guy.

2. HURRICANES: Countdown 12 days 'til football opener: With the second and last fall scrimmage done as UM prepares for its 14th season since last winning a national title, 1960s Canes star Ted Hendricks was honored this week on a 75th anniversary All-America team. Old memories are nice, but fans attending next Saturday's CanesFest are looking for some new ones, please.

3. MARLINS: Reasons to keep watching (this won't take long): With Fish in midst of a homestand, four reasons to keep watching as The Lost Season drones on. 1, Giancarlo Stanton's long-awaited return from injury is due "early September." 2, Dee Gordon might win the NL batting crown. 3, Jose Fernandez will return from injury, again, eventually. 4, Marlins now on pace to NOT lose 100 games!

4. NFL: Brady vs. NFL nears ruling in federal court: Tom Brady and Roger Goodell are due back in federal court Aug. 31 in the Deflategate case and many think Brady's four-game suspension may be overturned. His supporters include Donald Trump. I don't wanna say Trump is overconfident, but if the court upholds Brady's punishment, Trump is already planning a presidential pardon.

5. DAN LEBATARD: Popular Miami-based radio show moving to morning: LeBatard's ESPN Radio show will move from 4-7 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting next month, as I first reported in my blog. I know this isn't a huge deal, but I forced it into this week's Hot Button Top 10 in a shameless, transparent attempt to make my "scoop" seem more important than it really was.

6. HEAT: Annual forecast details Heat's upcoming season: ESPN.com’s annual NBA expert panel’s “Summer Forecast” has determined the Heat will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference this coming season with a 47-35 record. Geez, way to ruin it! Couldn’t they at least have given us a spoiler alert?

7. GOLF: Davis Love III wins. No, seriously: Davis Love III, 51, won the Wyndham yesterday, capping a week in which Jordan Spieth overtook the world No. 1 ranking. Tiger Woods chased the Wyndham title before petering out. It's no major, but, hey, when your world ranking is a current 286th, you’ll take the Wyndham.

8. JURISPRUDENCE: National Labor Relations Board rules against Northwestern: The NLRB ruled against Northwestern University football players’ efforts to unionize. “Dear College Players,” the NLRB might as well have said, “You’re getting a free scholarship. Shut up and play.”

9. FIU: Panthers under pressure to boost attendance: FIU football must average 15,000 fans per game this season or risk losing its top-tier FBS standing. I say this in case you start to notice crowds seem bigger than usual because of what appears to be thousands of rented homeless people.

10. BASEBALL: Dodgers' payroll nears milestone: The Los Angeles Dodgers’ player payroll is approaching a record $300 million. Hey, what’s the big deal!? Jeffrey Loria spends that much on the Marlins. It just takes him seven or eight years.

Missing the HB10 cut: Little League World Series is underway through next Sunday as eight U.S. teams and eight foreign teams battle to see which ultimately is the best at sneaking in overage players undetected. ... Nova Southeastern University men’s golf coach Ryan Jamison is voted best current coach in all of South Florida in a Miami Herald online readers poll. No, seriously. ... The tennis U.S. Open begins in eight days in New York, and American player Mardy Fish said it will be his last tournament before he retires, leading analysts to Google who the heck Mardy Fish is. ... There is now a we-want-our-money-back class action suit in federal court over the Maywesther-Pacquiao fight, meaning Deflategate may no longer be the most frivolous case in federal court. ... R.I.P., Jimmy Evert, 91. ... Florida State is now requiring all of it athletes to take a personal-responsibility course. Probably would-a been cheaper just post a memo to football players: QUIT HITTING WOMEN! ... Brewers minor-leaguer David Denson has become the first openly gay player affiliated with an MLB team. Progress: When stuff like that isn’t even news anymore. ... Finally, there is renewed debate over whether all kids in youth sports, not just top finishers, should get “participation” trophies. “Oh hell YES!” said the American Association of Trophy Manufacturers.

RAPPIN' JOE PHILBIN LEADS DOLPHINS, BUT THEY LOSE ANYWAY: After losing big in Chicago last week -- but, more importantly, with the starting units looking very good -- the Dolphins provided the

1aa1ajoerapnext glimpse 'n hint of who they are last night at Carolina in fake-game dos, and lost 1aa1ajoerap2again, 31-30. I'd not be too worried, though. It wasn't much different than last week, meaning fairly brief appearances by the starters followed by a long look at the bottom-thirders trying to make the roster. This was the game that should settle the depth chart -- the starting guard spots, and whether Walt Aikens is the man to replace injured safety Louis Delmas, et cetera. (Next week's home debut, the third exhibition, will be the truer dress rehearsal with starters playing a lot). Last night, again, the starters played well. QB Ryan Tannehill was 12-for-15 for 102 yards and a TD. The few days of practice in Carolina this week were big on team bonding. Coach Joe Philbin took the guys to the movies to see Straight Outta Compton. The next night, evidently inspired, Philbin, his assistants and staffers put on a lack of talent show for the players, with Philbin on stage rapping. OK it wasn't actual rapping. It was the version of it you get from an extremely white guy in his 50s dressed like Fred Astaire. Philbin wore a white top hat and tails, as pictured from the video. Click on Rappin' Joe Philbin to see and (unfortunately) hear the short video, brought to you via linebacker Koa Misi's Instagram account. Fun stuff, actually. It humanizes a coach often seen as stiff, and the players seemed to love it. That was the point, after all.

ENTERCOM COMMUNICATIONS' STUNNING LACK OF CLASS: Entercom Communications, a Pennsylvania- 1aa1aentercombased broadcasting company, recently bought local radio stations 104.3 (FM) and The Ticket Miami (790-AM) from Lincoln Financial. The Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz aired on both. Suddenly, yesterday, without advance notice, 104.3 moved from a sports format to alternative music, meaning LeBatard and other shows were back to AM only -- without even the chance to alert listeners it would be happening. What a lousy way to run a business, Entercom.

Poll result: Vast majority following NFL just as much despite scandals: We asked if you are following the NFL any less because of its various controversies, and it was 74.8 percent "no" versus only 25.2% "yes."

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

August 21, 2015

Have NFL controversies made you less a fan? Poll. Vote now!; plus our exclusive on LeBatard's move, Ryan the Giant Slayer, Kiper's rookie rank, 2 Canes get honor, 'Weighing The Fish,' judging Miami team unis, best-fans verdict & more

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


1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 21. I'n back up at Random Evidence Laboratories today raising from the slab the Sunday notes-column package. 2) Miami Hurricanes are offering their fans "personalized web pages," with your surname seen on the back of a jersey. Um, OK then. 3) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Grading South Florida teams' fans (with poll), 'Fins at 50' project, Louis Delmas, Heat projection, dog-saving Jarvis Landry, The List & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' project: The Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click on FINS AT 50 to access the entire project and all of its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on the great Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for, well, for the Dolphins' all-time team. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with not only Shula but also with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Enjoy!

1aa1ajamisonrRyan the Giant Slayer: David used a slingshot to drop Goliath. This guy wielded a 9-iron on the field. Click on Meet Ryan Jamison for today's latest column by me, on how a little-known Division II college golf coach from Nova Southeastern University beat Erik Spoelstra and every other bigger-name in the Miami Herald's best-current-coach-in-South Florida poll.

Kiper's rookie rank: As fantasy drafts near ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. vomits this list of his top 12 fantasy rookies for 2015, fronted by Chargers RB Melvin Gordon. Of special note in South Florida, Colts WR Phillip Dorsett, the ex-Hurricane, ranks sixth, and Dolphins WR DeVante Parker ranks seventh.

OUR OBSESSIVE LOVE OF NFL FOOTBALL OUTWEIGHS ALL OF ITS CONTROVERSIES: The preceding headline puts in a nutshell the premise of Thursday's column by me; click on Arrows Bouncing Off The 1aa1agoodell 1aa1adolfansShield to read in full. The vast majority of my media brethren think differently, even though by most every measure of popularity the NFL withstands every scandal that has hit it -- the ongoing Tom Brady federal-court case just the latest. I believe America's love of the NFL is so deep, augmented by fantasy leagues and gambling, that interest has not been diminished even a little by Ray Rice or Deflategate or anything else that has made for ugly headlines. Of course, I may be wrong! I invite you to tell me if I am in this poll. Be honest: Are you less interested in the NFL -- watching or following less -- because of all that has made life rough for Roger Goodell? Vote and say why.

EXCLUSIVE: LEBATARD ESPN RADIO SHOW EXPECTED TO MOVE TO EARLIER IN DAY: It is not official yet. ESPN has yet to announce it. But readers of this blog knew it first, whether our exclusive 1aa1adanwas properly credited by others repeating the news or not: The popular, ratings-winning Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz is planning a move from its current afternoon radio time slot to earlier in the day. Barring an unexpected last-minute snag, the show will air 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN Radio in the space vacated by departing Colin Cowherd, still with a possibility of adding a local hour from 9 to 10. Currently the show airs 4-7 p.m, with a local-only hour from 3-4. The change is expected to take effect around mid-September. LeBatard will continue to air locally as well on The Ticket Miami. His local afternoon slot may be filled by Izzy Gutierrez and Ethan Skolnick, although that is not yet official.

2 CANES GET FWAA 'ALL-75TH' HONORS: The Football Writers Association of America this week unveiled
1aa1ahendrickstedits 75th Anniversary college All-America team, honoring 75 players on three teams of 25 each. (Complete teams here). Two Miami Hurricanes are honored -- DE Ted Hendricks (pictured) on the first team and S Ed Reed on the second. Three Florida State Seminoles are mentioned -- CB Deion Sanders first team, WR Fred Belitnikoff second and punter Rohn Stark third. Two Florida Gators honored are QB Tim Tebow second team and DE Jack Youngblood third.

WEIGHING THE FISH (120 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and 1aa1afishweighthis year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the now-departed Michael Morse). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race drawn close by Stanton's continuing injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 120 games (at 49-71):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @110

1  Dee Gordon                402.4    2

2  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   344.3   3

4  Christian Yelich         280.5   4

5  Jacob Realmuto          280.1   5

6  Martin Prado              265.9   6

7  Justin Bour                 235.2    8

8  Marcell Ozuna            228.3   7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              215.3   9

10  Derek Dietrich          178.6   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 3.

MIAMI UNIFORMS LAGGING IN SARTORIAL SPLENDOR: ESPN.com's "Uni Watch" ranks the 20 cities with at least three teams in the Big Four sports and the top-5 best-dressed are Boston (9.13 average score), 1aa1abig4unisPittsburgh (8.83), Chicago (8.50), Philadelphia (8.38) and San Francisco Bay (8.17). The hobos in the rear are Tampa Bay 19th (3.00) and Atlanta dead last (2.67). Miami (5.50) falls just below average in 12th place. ESPN's synopisis: "The Heat are an interesting case. They keep rolling out one alternate uniform after another (black, white, red, sleeved, nicknames on the back, etc.), but they all look good because their core design is so strong. As for the rest of Miami's teams, they're a mixed bag. But hey, at least the Marlins have gone back to wearing their gray jerseys on the road this season. The previous two seasons, they only wore black on the road." MIA's 5.5 is an average of: Heat 8, Panthers 6, Dolphins 5, Marlins 3.

Poll result: Heat, Dolphins (in that order) dominate for best fans: We asked which major South Florida sports team has the best fans, and it was the Heat with 41.3 percent and the Dolphins with 34.6% combining for about three-quarters of all votes among eight choices. Hurricanes football was a distant third with 10.6%.

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

August 19, 2015

Grading South Florida sports fans: We examine attendance for our 15 most prominent pro and college teams. Who has best fans? Poll. Vote!; plus Herald's 'Fins at 50' project, Heat projection, Jarvis Landry saving dogs' lives & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with UM's Al Golden being ranked No. 1 in a preseason list of college football's "hottest coaching seats." 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My Don Shula video, Hot Button Top 10, fashionista Serena, Heat/Christmas verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Delmas out for season: Dolphins safety Louis Delmas will miss the entire 2015 season with a knee injury (torn ACL) sustained in practice, it was announced today. That's a fairly big blow to the defense, but hardly an insurmountable one. 

NFL yardage-leader odds: Via Bovada, Andrew Luck is betting favorite to lead NFL in passing yards at 7-2, with Dolphin Ryan Tannehill 33-1 (13th). Adrian Peterson is 7-2 fave to lead in rushing yards, with Miami's Lamar Miller 50-1 (tie 17th). And Antonio Brown is receiving yards pick at 11-2 odds, with Dolphin Jarvis Landry 66-1 (tie 21st). 

Con-men and South Florida sports: There's an in-depth piece this week at Grantland.com (click here to read) on how South Florida's hustler culture and engulfed Heat players in financial scams. All of this has been well-covered, but this is a comprehensive overview worth your time.

1aa1afinsat50 1aa1afinsat50HERALD'S 'FINS AT 50' SPECIAL PROJECT: The Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click on FINS AT 50 to access the entire project and all of its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on the great Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for, well, for the Dolphins' all-time team! And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with not only Shula but also with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Enjoy! 

1aa1acardreportGRADING THE FANS: EXAMINING ATTENDANCE FOR SOUTH FLORIDA'S 14 MOST PROMINENT PRO AND COLLEGE TEAMS: We examined the attendance of South Florida's 15 most visible sports teams (five pro, 10 college), compared how it ranks among others in its leagues, and doled out grades out how each team is doing drawing fans. Only two of the 14 earned a better than average grade. Our results:

GRADE A

1aa1aheatMiami Heat: Heat averaged 19,712 last season, officially 100.6 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked sixth of 30 NBA teams, even with no LeBron James and a non-playoff team. What Pat Riley has built continues to be a South Florida juggernaut of interest.

GRADE B

1aa1adolfansMiami Dolphins: The Fins averaged 70,035 per game last season, 92.7 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked 14th of 32 NFL teams. For a franchise that last made the playoffs in 2008 and hasn't won in the postseason since 2000, that isn't bad. An improved team and stadium-makeover both will help.

Miami Hurricanes baseball: Canes averaged 2,738 per game last season, which ranked 27th among NCAA Division I schools. UM was one of only 18 schools to surpass 100,000 (101,296) in total home attendance.

GRADE C

1aa1acanesfbMiami Hurricanes football: The Canes averaged 52,518 per game last season. That ranked 40th of 125 NCAA teams at the premier FBS level. "C" means average, and that is what UM attendance, like the team itself, has become.

Miami Hurricanes men's basketball: UM averaged 5,777 per game last season, 93rd of 344 NCAA Division I teams. Canes under Jim Larranaga have ranged from competitive to quite good and must find way to more consistently fill their modestly-sized (just under 8,000) campus arena.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers: The Strikers averaged 3,626 per game in 2014 (combined spring and fall seasons), which ranked ninth of 10 NASL soccer. But attendnace through seven home games in 2015 has risen to 5,551, ranking seventh of 11 teams.

GRADE D

1aa1aballparkMiami Marlins: The Marlins are averaging 22,263 this season through 58 of 81 home games, or 59.5 percent of capacity. That attendance ranks 27th of 30 MLB teams. Clearly, the new ballpark has not been a panacea. But this season has been a major disappointment and will mark a sixth straight losing season, which would be debilitating for most any city's attendance.

Miami Hurricanes women's basketball: UM's women averaged 1,254 per game last season, which ranked 113th of 344 NCAA Division I teams. The good news? That's better than 231 others schools did. The  bad news? Coach Katie Meier consistently fields a quality product that deserves better.

FAU football: The Owls averaged 14,122 last season, roughly half of the stadium's capacity. That attendance ranked 117th of 125 FBS teams. The nifty little campus stadium that Howard Schnellenberger saw built has not been the fan kick-starter hoped.   

GRADE F

1aa1afiufbFIU football: The Panthers averaged 11,966 last season, about half of capacity. That attendnace ranked 123rd of 125 FBS schools, ahead of only Akron and Ball State. FIU must grow to meet the NCAA's 15,000 standard or risk demotion from the top-tier FBS level.

Florida Panthers: The Cats averaged 11,265 per game last season, 66.1 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked dead last in the NHL, 30th of 30 teams. You can't get lower than that, so shouldn't the grade be rock-bottom, too? I can't see how this franchise can survive long-term in South Florida unless it starts consistently winning and the fan interest jumps commensurately.

FIU men's basketball: Panthers averaged 1,474 per game last season, 268th of 344 Division I men's teams.  

FAU men's basketball: Owls averaged 1,346 per game last season, 281st of 344 teams.

FAU women's basketball: Owls women averaged 601 per game last season, 294th of 344 teams.

FIU women's basketball: And playing the caboose, Panthers women averaged 355 per game last season, 310th of 344 teams. That's officially "friends 'n family" territory.

NFL: IF THE BACKUP QB'S WERE STARTERS...: PredictionMachinbe.com, evidently with time on its hands, used its computers to figure how each team's playoff likelihood would change if the No. 2 quarterback were to start all 16 games. The biggest dropoff was New England's minus 54.4 percent from Tom Brady to Jimmy Garoppolo. The least was Jacksonville's plus 2.3% from Blake Bortles to Chad Henne. Miami had a modest 11.4% dropoff from Ryan Tannehill to Matt Moore, which ranked midpack (17th) in the league. It was 52.7% with Tannehill and 41.3% with Moore, who had the third-highest percentage of any backup.

WHY PLAY THE SEASON? HERE'S HOW HEAT WILL FINISH: ESPN.com's eighth annual NBA "Summer Forecast" is out, and its experts panel says Miami will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference at 47-35, after Cleveland (59-23), Chicago (50-32) and Atlanta (50-32). I think that's overestimating the Hawks and think the Heat have a great shot at third. Miami would host fifth place Washington in the first round of the playoffs if the forecast holds true. So there. Why even play the season?

JARVIS LANDRY WANTS TO SAVE YOUR DOG'S LIFE: The Dolphins' second-year receiver has recorded a public-service video for PETA urging you to avoid baking your dog in a closed car. Sounds like good advice! Here it is:

 

SEMI-HOT MARLINS: In a respite from The Lost Season, a small island in the roiling sea, your Marlins have won five of their past seven games, despite Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich all being on the DL. This rivals the second-best stretch Miami has had all season, deferring only to a 9-1 run April 22 to May 2. I continue to think this team can be very good next season, with a real manager and much better health the starting requisites.

THE LIST: NFL COACHING VICTORIES: The 10 winningest coaches for combined regular season and playoff career victories, and their percentage of losing seasons:

Coach                     Wins       Losing seasons

Don Shula               347          6.1% (2 of 33)

George Halas          324        15.0% (6 of 40)

Tom Landry            270        31.0% (9 of 29)

Bill Belichick          233        25.0% (5 of 20)

Curley Lambeau     229        18.2% (6 of 33)

Paul Brown            222         16.0% (4 of 25)

Chuck Noll             209         30.4% (7 of 23)

M. Schottenheimer 205           9.5% (2 of 21)

Dan Reeves            201         39.1% (9 of 23)

Chuck Knox           193         36.4% (8 of 22)

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

August 16, 2015

Shula at 85: An unabashed appreciation of Miami's great, iconic coach; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Marlins, Canes, Heat, Jason Day, Ichiro, tennis; also fashionista Serena, Christmas verdict & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 17. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with UM's Al Golden being ranked No. 1 in preseason list of college football's "hottest coaching seats." 2) Click on A Lot To Like for my previous column off the Dolphins preseason opener. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins drop preseason opener at Chicago, NBA keeps ruining Christmas, tennis sex scandal, Colin Cowherd beer & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

"Marcell Ozuna, back with the Marlins, said of his demotion to Triple A, 'It's like a jail.' Dude. Please. Try to fake a little self-awareness, would you?" --Greg Cote

CELEBRATING DON SHULA: As the Miami Dolphins turn 50 this season, the franchise's great coach and icon is a regal 85 now, 20 years off the sideline and out of the game but still sharp and going strong in retirement. Recently
1aa1adoshulaI sat down with Shula for an extensive interview at his home, in a den filled with his career's memorabilia. Journalists are supposed to be neutral, dispassionate. I don't claim or attempt such things when it comes to Shula. I admire the man. What he accomplished, and who he is. I have an in-depth column on Shula in today's Miami Herald on page 1A, a column that is not yet available online but will be starting Tuesday. For now, click on DON SHULA for a video from our retrospective interview; Shula is pictured from during that conversation. Shula talks about perfection, his career, his regrets and more. He even talks about the man who replaced him, the coach he called "Jimmy Who." (Thanks to our online and video folks for their excellent work. My only quibble: the extreme closeups of me. Gawd! I am un-telegenic and old. I demand a far angle and a soft focus! Anyway...) My Shula video and accompanying column begin the rollout of the Herald's ongoing coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming Golden Anniversary season. The package will also include videos of my extensive interviews with defensive legends Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor. Click here for a brief sneak preview of the Thomas video.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 16): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Starters impressive despite loss in exhibition opener: As Dolphins prepare for their annual kickoff luncheon tomorrow/Tuesday, the limitlessness of possibilities was redefined in the preseason opener as Dolfans discovered it was possible to be generally pleased after a game in which Miami lost at Chicago 27-10 while committing 12 penalties and four turnovers. The starters looked great. For mid-August, that’s enough.

2. MARLINS: Lost year as Fernandez, Yelich join Stanton on disabled list: Fish have won four of past five after winning in St. Louis last night but the season was beyond hope, and now Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich have joined Giancarlo Stanton on the DL. Interim manager Dan Jennings said of this season, “Thank God there’s no Prohibition in baseball.” It’s disappointed fans who could use a drink.

3. HURRICANES: Countdown 19 days as UM prepares for opener: Canes held their first scrimmage, but it was closed to fans and media. (If a scrimmage falls on campus but nobody hears it, does it still make a sound?) Miami’s Sept. 5 opener against Bethune-Cookman had better require little more exertion than that intrasquad scrimmage, or the Canes could be in trouble.

4. HEAT: NBA schedule out; Miami hosts Christmas game again: The Heat opens play at home Oct. 28 in Chris Bosh’s comeback, and visits LeBron James in Cleveland two days later. Also notable: A Christmas home game against New Orleans. Bah humbug. NBA should take that sacred holiday off but instead will play a record five games. Jesus!

5. GOLF: Jason Day wins PGA Championship, year’s final major: Jason Day finally won a major by capturing the PGA Championship in Wisconsin, but, once again, Tiger Woods couldn’t find the map to Sunday, missing the cut for the fourth time in his past five majors. Remember when Tiger was thrilling to watch? Now it’s closer to sad.

6. AL GOLDEN: UM coach ranked No.1 on hot-seat list: Canes' Al Golden is a dubious No. 1 on ESPN.com’s preseason list of the 10 “hottest coaching seats” in college football. I don’t want to exaggerate Golden’s unpopularity with fans, though. He isn't Jeffrey Loria. Also, even his biggest critics surely like Golden more than, for example, that Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion. Probably.

7. NFL: Only the Jets! Sucker-punch breaks Geno Smith's jaw: Embattled Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith is sidelined half the season with a broken jaw after being punched by teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali, who immediately was cut. Worst part? Jets fans weren’t sure whether to call Smith’s injury good news or bad.

8. TOM BRADY: Federal suit over Deflate gate still unsettled: The Patriots QB's federal court case against the NFL over his four-game Deflategate suspension has yet to settle. Meanwhile the courtroom sketch artist was ridiculed nationally for her rendition of Brady that was unflattering. Check that, the artist was ridiculed in New England, but hailed as a modern-day da Vinci elsewhere.

9. ICHIRO: No. No, he did not surpass Ty Cobb in career hits!: It keeps getting reported that the Marlins' Ichiro Suzuki just surpassed Ty Cobb's 4,189 hits for second on the all-time list. But that's only if you count his hits in Japan, which MLB does not and never has. In fact, Ichiro still trails Cobb by more than 1,200 hits.

10. TENNIS: Love triangle on tour?: Tennis pro Nick Krygios was fined $10,000 by the ATP tour for telling opponent Stan Wawrinka during a match that another player was, um, ah, engaged in carnal knowledge with Wawrinka’s girlfriend, who also is a touring pro. Well, there goes that Kyrgios-Wawrinka doubles partnership!

Missing the HB10 cut: A Milwaukee Brewers minor-leaguer has revealed he is gay. Um, when do we get to stop caring about stuff like that? ... Bills sign Jets sucker-puncher. ... Dolphins owner Stephen Ross invests in Drone Racing League. Will play-calls now get from sideline to huddle via drone? ... American teen Katie Ledecky wins five golds at world swimming championship in Russia. ... Tigers' Al Avila (from Hialeah High) becomes MLB’s first Cuban-born general manager. ... Floyd Mayweather Jr. announces his final fight before retiring would be Sept. 12, with no date set yet for his final fight after that one. ... Adidas is paying James Harden $200 million to wear its sneakers. No, seriously. ... FIFA said it has opened an internal investigation into corruption. That’s like the Mafia investigating organized crime. ... Little League World Series begins this week despite no Mo'ne Davis. ... Finally, the national gymnastics championships end today in Indiana, where Miami’s Danell Leyva hoped to perform a parallel bars maneuver so groundbreaking that, if successful, it would be named after him. I can relate. In sports writing, someone who writes  a slapdash column is said to have "nailed a Cote."

1aa1aserenamagSERENA, FASHIONISTA: We've poked fun at Palm Beach tennis superstar Serena Williams over the years. She
1aa1aserenamag2can come off as arrogant, a real diva. She has indulged various side interests that have seemed to diminish her attention to tennis at times. Respect, though, must be given. She is chasing history, the career record for most majors won. She may be the greatest women's player ever. Yet steadfastly she maintains her outside interests, such as clothes design. Pictured, Serena adorns the cover of the new New York magazine fashion issue, once again living -- and winning -- by her own rules.

Poll result: Split opinions on NBA, Heat playing Christmas Day: In the previous blogpost we asked what you thought of the Heat hosting a Christmas game, and it was 46.9 percent opposed, 45.7% in favor and 7.4% undecided.

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

August 12, 2015

Heat schedule out, all 82 games here; plus new 'Back In My Day' video, Mayweather vs. Rousey poll, Canes hoops, Drone Racing League, Tannehill on SI cover, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins manager search & more

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


1aa1abradyct1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12. Here's why people make fun of courtroom sketch artists. Pictured right is supposed to be Tom Brady in federal court today. 2) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your picks for 10 greatest Hurricanes, Hot Button Top 10, Weighing The Fish & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too. We have a new Periscope up from yesterday's radio show.

Honor for Canes men's basketball: In an indication of high expectation for UM's men's team, ESPN announced today Miami would host two of the network's "Big Monday" telecasts this season: Jan. 25 vs. Duke and Feb. 22 vs. Virginia, both at 7 p.m.on ESPN.

1aa1adroneDrone Racing League! A, because there aren't enough ridiculous sports and B, because Stephen Ross apparently has more money than he knows what to do with: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and his money are behind the new Drone Racing League. Yes I said Drone Racing League. Click here for the details. (Pictured, a young man racing his drone). A co-mingling of Ross' two sporting passions seems inevitable, so watch for it: Dolphin play-calls getting from sideline to huddle via drone. I apologize if I'm droning on. OY!

1aa1aheatHEAT SCHEDULE OUT, INCLUDES CHRISTMAS GAME HERE: Heat released its 2015-16 regular season NBA schedule today, and it opens Oct . 28 at home vs. Charlotte. Other highlights include a Christmas Day home game vs. New Orleans, and visits by LeBron James and Cleveland on Dec. 5 and Mar. 19. Here is the entire schedule:

DATE DAY OPPONENT TIME TV

OCTOBER

28 Wed. CHARLOTTE 7:30 PM SUN

30 Fri. @ Cleveland 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

NOVEMBER

1 Sun. HOUSTON 6:00 PM SUN

3 Tues. ATLANTA 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

5 Thurs. @ Minnesota 8:00 PM SUN

6 Fri. @ Indiana 8:00 PM SUN/ESPN

8 Sun. TORONTO 6:00 PM SUN

10 Tues. L.A. LAKERS 7:30 PM SUN

12 Thurs. UTAH 7:30 PM SUN

17 Tues. MINNESOTA 7:30 PM SUN

19 Thurs. SACRAMENTO 7:30 PM SUN

21 Sat. PHILADELPHIA 7:30 PM SUN

23 Mon. NEW YORK 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

25 Wed. @ Detroit 7:30 PM SUN

27 Fri. @ New York 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

30 Mon. BOSTON 7:30 PM SUN

DECEMBER

3 Thurs. OKLAHOMA CITY 7:00 PM TNT

5 Sat. CLEVELAND 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

7 Mon. WASHINGTON 7:30 PM SUN

9 Wed. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM SUN

11 Fri. @ Indiana 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

13 Sun. MEMPHIS 6:00 PM SUN

14 Mon. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM SUN

16 Wed. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM SUN

18 Fri. TORONTO 7:30 PM SUN

20 Sun. PORTLAND 1:00 PM SUN

22 Tues. DETROIT 7:30 PM SUN

25 Fri. NEW ORLEANS 12:00 PM SUN/ESPN

26 Sat. @ Orlando 7:00 PM SUN

28 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM SUN

29 Tues. @ Memphis 8:00 PM SUN

JANUARY

1 Fri. DALLAS 7:30 PM SUN

3 Sun. @ Washington 6:00 PM SUN

4 Mon. INDIANA 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

6 Wed. NEW YORK 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

8 Fri. @ Phoenix 9:30 PM SUN

9 Sat. @ Utah 9:00 PM SUN

11 Mon. @ Golden State 10:30 PM SUN

13 Wed. @ L.A. Clippers 10:30 PM SUN/ESPN

15 Fri. @ Denver 9:00 PM SUN

17 Sun. @ Oklahoma City 7:00 PM SUN

19 Tues. MILWAUKEE 7:30 PM SUN

20 Wed. @ Washington 7:00 PM SUN

22 Fri. @ Toronto 8:00 PM SUN/ESPN

25 Mon. @ Chicago 8:00 PM SUN

26 Tues. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM SUN

29 Fri. @ Milwaukee 8:30 PM SUN

31 Sun. ATLANTA 6:00 PM SUN

FEBRUARY

2 Tues. @ Houston 8:00 PM SUN/NBA TV

3 Wed. @ Dallas 8:30 PM SUN

5 Fri. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM SUN

7 Sun. L.A. CLIPPERS 2:00 PM ABC

9 Tues. SAN ANTONIO 7:30 PM SUN

19 Fri. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM SUN

20 Sat. WASHINGTON 7:30 PM SUN

22 Mon. INDIANA 7:30 PM SUN

24 Wed. GOLDEN STATE 7:30 PM SUN

27 Sat. @ Boston 3:00 PM SUN

28 Sun. @ New York 7:30 PM SUN

MARCH

1 Tues. CHICAGO 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

3 Thurs. PHOENIX 7:30 PM SUN

4 Fri. @ Philadelphia 7:00 PM SUN

6 Sun. PHILADELPHIA 6:00 PM SUN

9 Wed. @ Milwaukee 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

11 Fri. @ Chicago 8:00 PM SUN/NBA TV

12 Sat. @ Toronto 7:00 PM SUN

14 Mon DENVER 7:30 PM SUN

17 Thurs. CHARLOTTE 7:30 PM SUN

19 Sat. CLEVELAND 7:30 PM SUN

22 Tues. @ New Orleans 8:00 PM SUN

23 Wed. @ San Antonio 8:30 PM SUN

25 Fri. ORLANDO 7:30 PM SUN

28 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM SUN

30 Wed. @ L.A. Lakers 10:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

APRIL

1 Fri. @ Sacramento 10:00 PM SUN

2 Sat @ Portland 10:00 PM SUN

5 Tues. DETROIT 7:30 PM SUN

7 Thurs. CHICAGO 8:00 PM TNT

8 Fri. @ Orlando 7:00 PM SUN

10 Sun. ORLANDO 6:00 PM SUN

12 Tues. @ Detroit 7:30 PM SUN

13 Wed. @ Boston 8:00 PM SUN

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. VS. RONDA ROUSEY, NO HOLDS BARRED. HEY, IT'S FUN TO DREAM: I doubt we'll ever see this fight. I'd bet big on that. Yes, the boxing champion vs. the UFC champion would be a 1aa1afighthuge draw. And, yes, it could work weight-wise if Mayweather (151) dropped and Rousey (135) added. But too many male athletes including Mayweather himself have made too many ugly headlines for domestic violence to imagine that the possibility of a man pummeling a woman in a ring (or octagon) would ever be sanctioned for sport. Rousey keeps keeping the topic alive, though. Just Monday night, in an ask-me-anything chat on Reddit, Rousey was asked if she would beat Mayweather in a no-holds-barred, mixed martial arts-style bout, and she said: "Floyd is one of the best boxers of all time. He would definitely beat me in a boxing match. I unfortunately don't get into 'matches.' I fight for a living. In a no-rules fight, I believe I can beat anyone on this planet. Boxing is a sweet science with strict rules that I respect. But you said rule-less fight, and that's my honest answer." Is she right? Could she beat anyone no-holds-barred even including Mayweather? She is 10 years younger; I'd give her a real chance. What do you think? Remember, this is not asking who you'd want to win, but who you honestly think would win. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': Many know that my Tuesday appearances with the Dan LeBatard Show on radio/TV include a "Back In My Day" segment that has grown quite popular with listeners and viewers. They're on Fusion TV's YouTube channel now, and here is the latest one, from yesterday:

 

WHERE DOLPHINS FALL IN 2015 FANTASY DRAFTING: If you're like Greg's Lobos you are preparing for your fantasy draft. And you may be wondering 1aa1almiller 1aa1asitannhow Dolphins players will be slotted. A good indication comes this week in ESPN.com's annual fantasy draft, based on a 12-team standard league and 16-round draft. Dolphins taken, in order, with round and overall selection: RB Lamar Miller, pictured (3rd round-30th overall); WR Jarvis Landry (7-75th); WR DeVante Parker (7-84th); QB Ryan Tannehill (10-113th); TE Jordan Cameron (10-117th); WR Kenny Stills (12-139th); RB Jay Ajayi (13-154th); Dolphins defense/special teams (15-171st); and PK Caleb Sturgis (16-192nd). Tannehill is pictured (left) on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2016 fantasy issue.

NFL MVP odds: Newly out via Bovada, it's Packer Aaron Rodgers the favorite out the gate at 5-1, followed by Colt Andrew Luck at 7-1. Only others under 20-1 are Viking Adrian Peterson and Texan J.J. Watt both 12-1, and Bronco Peyton Manning at 16-1. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 40-1, tied for 20th.

My Uber driver is a Dolphin: Dolphins defensive tackle A.J. Francis earned extra money as an Uber driver during the recent offseason. No, seriously. Not everybody makes Ndamukong Suh money. Click here for a feature video as ESPN.com's James Walker goes along for the ride. Not sure how much extra money A.J. made. I only hope he gets as much attention for football as he got doing this.xx

JUMP-STARTING MARLINS' MANAGER SEARCH: Worst record in MLB hosts worst record in AL in a two-game 1aa1afish4series ending today at Marlins Park, after Fish won 5-4 in 10 last night. So it's Stinkin' Fish vs. Bostgon Red Sux. Sorry. Truth hurts. I suggest in my latest column that the Marlins' managerial search should be on now, not wait until after the season. If their guy is out there and available -- and many are, including Bud Black and Ron Gardenhire -- why not make the move soon and give the new guy a chunk of this season to learn his team? An experienced manager with a track record is a must after the failed experiment that is Dan Jennings. This season has turned hopeless. Everything now should be about 2016. Click on Look Ahead to read the column in full. Meantime, fans last night received the poster pictured of the Marlins' "Franchise Four," part of an MLB promotion in which fans selected each team's Mount Rushmore. The Fish are Jeff Conine, Gary Sheffield, Mike Lowell and Giancarlo Stanton.

1aa1agoodyGOODBYE, GOODY: Joe Goodman, a Herald sportswriter since 2005 and most recently our main Heat beat guy, is leaving us to write for AL.com in his homestate Alabama. His hunger for college football will be well sated; his love of soccer, not so much. Joe's talented and we wish him well. He and I shared some good times on the road, including a memorable drinking night at New York's wonderful little Tribeca bar, Ward III. Joe and I are pictured at right doing a Heat postgame video. He's the one who's young, handsome and well-dressed.

THE LIST: MNF LONGEVITY: Broadcasters who have had the most tenure in the Monday Night Football booth (on ABC in 1970-05, on ESPN 2006-current):

Broadcaster        Years     Duration

Frank Gifford       27        1971-97

Al Michaels          20        1986-05

Howard Cosell     14        1970-83

Don Meredith       12        1970-73, '77-84

Dan Dierdorf        12        1987-98

Mike Tirico          10        2006-current

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

August 09, 2015

Here are your choices as Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes of All-Time!; plus new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Marlins, NFL, Hurricanes, golf, soccer, Heat, Trump; also latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 10. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, was off but will return in six days. 2) Click on Let Howard In! for our latest column, which makes the case why Howard Schnellenberger should be in the College Football Hall of Fame. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes poll, ESPN college 100, Jon Stewart's finale, Republican debate & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

"The most unusual, shocking thing I saw in the Dolphins scrimmage Friday night? That's easy. FIU's football stadium filled with people." --Greg Cote

1aa1airvibnmYOUR TOP 10 GREATEST HURRICANES OF ALL-TIME: We invited you to select, from our hand-picked list of 30 finalists, the Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes football players of all-time and more than 5,600 votes were cast -- with mostly impressive results. I think the Top 10 is legit, although I do think two men relegated to the second tier, Bennie Blades and Jim Otto, deserved a little more love. Rankings are based on overall percentage of total top-10 ballots that included the player. Your Top 10:

1. Michael Irvin, WR, 1985-87 (pictured): 89.9 percent.

2. Ray Lewis, LB, 1993-95: 83.1%.

3. Ed Reed, S, 1998-01: 82.8%.

4. Warren Sapp, DT, 1992-94: 66.0%.

5. Jerome Brown, DT, 1983-86: 61.6%.

6. Sean Taylor, S, 2001-03: 57.6%.

7. Edgerrin James, RB, 1996-98: 56.9%.

8. Jim Kelly, QB, 1979-82: 56.0%.

9. Ted Hendricks, LB, 1966-68: 54.5%.

10. Bernie Kosar, QB, 1983-84: 42.8%.

The second 10: DT Cortez Kennedy 41.4, QB Ken Dorsey 41.0, DT Russell Maryland 36.8, QB Vinny Testaverde 33.9, S Bennie Blades 28.7, RB Ottis Anderson 25.5, C Jim Otto 17.3, RB Clinton Portis 16.2, RB Duke Johnson 15.2, KR Devin Hester 13.9.

The others: RB Chuck Foreman 13.6, WR Santana Moss 13.2, QB Gino Torretta 13.0, LB Jonathan Vilma 11.6, QB George Mira Sr. 10.2, QB Steve Walsh 10.2, FB Don Bosseler 4.1, WR Jim Dooley 2.1, RB Eddie Dunn 0.5, CB Burgess Owens 0.4.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 9): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Suh impresses (shocker!) in Fins scrimmage; preseason on deck: With preseason opener in three days, this Thursday at Chicago, Dolphins held a full scrimmage at FIU Friday night and the takeaway was Ndamukong Suh dominating Miami's interior offensive line. Our three-way summary, with apologies to N.W.A.: Straight Outta Guards.

2. MARLINS: Fish are worst in MLB, and now Jose is hurting, too: Marlins ended a six-game losing skid Sunday but still are only 6-17 since All-Star break, have sunk to worst record in baseball, and now ace Jose Fernandez -- the bright spot -- is headed to the 15-day DL with shoulder soreness. So how's that managerial switch to non-manager Dan Jennings working out, Jeffrey Loria?

3. NFL: Preseason begins in Canton: It was Vikings over Steelers 14-3 last night in annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, O., and nobody is happier for games than besieged commissioner Roger Goodell after an unending torrent of Ray Rice, arrests and Deflategate. Whoever thought the games themselves would be the welcome distraction?

4. HALL OF FAME: Seau leads latest football inductions: Junior Seau posthumously led Saturday's eight-man induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, O. Another inductee, Jerome Bettis, told a reporter he was inspired late in his career by a Miami Herald column by Greg Cote that called him "Hall of Almost." (You're welcome, Jerome). 

5. HURRICANES: Who besides Kaaya will stand up and stand out?: With practice underway and Sept. 5 season opener now less than a month away, ESPN.com's preseason Top 100 players in college football listed only one Hurricane -- quarterback Brad Kaaya at No. 97. Other Canes rising may determine whether the heat on AL Golden eases or intensifies.

6. GOLF: PGA Championship set to tee off: The PGA Championship, the season's fourth and last major, begins this Thursday in Wisconsin with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy set to return from his basketball injury. Tiger Woods also is playing. Remember when the odds of his winning a major were better than the odds he wouldn't make the cut?

7. NFL: First court appearance this week in Brady vs. league: This Wednesday is first scheduled court appearance for Tom Brady and Roger Goodell in Brady's lawsuit vs. NFL to rescind his four-game Deflategate suspension. The way the American legal system works, figure there may be a verdict soon after Brady retires.

8. SOCCER: EPL kicks off across the pond: Increasingly popular in America, the English Premier League kicked off this weekend. Don't expect many surprises, though. The league is top-heavy with only four or five teams considered to be realistic championship contenders. We have a phrase in the U.S. for that kind of predictability and lack of parity: "the NBA."

9. HEAT: No Miami players on Team USA roster: USA Basketball and coach Mike Krzyzewski released a list of 34 players, led by LeBron James, invited to this week's minicamp in Las Vegas. Notably absent: Any Heat players. Dwyane Wade was not selected. Chris Bosh might have been but still is recuperating from his blood clot scare.

10. DONALD TRUMP: The Donald doesn't disappoint in first debate: Ten leading Republicans gathered in Cleveland for their first presidential debate but, really, it was Donald Trump and nine other guys. Bumper sticker: 'Honk If You've Been Insulted by Donald Trump.'

Missing the HB10 cut: R.I.P., Frank Gifford, 84. ..... Floyd Mayweather says his final fight will be Sept. 12. Date of his final fight after that not yet announced. ..... Little League World Series regionals underway but, with no Mo'Ne Davis, do we care? ..... LPGA pioneer Louise Suggs dies. ..... American teen Katie Ledecky shines at world swimming championships in Russia. ..... 49ers cut troubled Aldon Smith. ..... Hurricanes women's basketball on exhitbition tour in Europe. ..... Finally, more than 10,000 people filled an arena in Seattle to watch two teams of video gamers compete. No, Seriously.

WEIGHING THE FISH (110 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10- 1aa1afishweighgames (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking, including the traded Morse. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race drawn close now by Stanton's continuing injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 110 games (actually 111, at 43-68):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @100

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                350.9    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   316.6   3

4  Christian Yelich        272.6   5

5  Jacob Realmuto         246.4    4

6  Martin Prado              244.9   6

7  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   7

8  Justin Bour                 207.9    8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              183.5   9

10  Derek Dietrich          143.1   --

11  Michael Morse          115.4   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 2.

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

August 02, 2015

The new Hot Button Top10: Dolphins, Jose, Canes, Brady, Heat, Howard, Seau, Cecil the Lion, women coaches; plus the 5 most impressive streaks in Miami sports history & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, AUGUST 2. Happy new month, all! 2) Baseball history: Dodger Clayton Kershaw vs. Angel Mike Trout tonight will mark the first pitch in MLB history thrown by one reigning league MVP to another. Seems hard to believe, but pitchers rarely win MVP. Kershaw was first in NL since Bob Gibson in 1968. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' refreshing bravado and Training Camp Primer, Fartgate, Tom Brady legacy poll, Jose Fernandez, Marlins trades and Weighing The Fish & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Random Evidence: Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package.

Marlins deal Haren: Marlins met MLB trade deadline by dealing pitcher Dan Haren to Cubs for two Double-A prospects, pitcher Ivan Pineyro and infielder Elliot Soto. Haren had pitched well but was a pending free agent; the trade was no surprise.

Dolphins' uncommon optimism: The franchise hasn't made the playoffs since 2008 or won in the postseason since 2000 but its latest editon is all fired up and all but guaranteeing the playoffs in '15. Click on Refreshing Bravado for my column off the start of training camp.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 2): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (posted early this week) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Playoffs or bust! Big talk as training camp opens: Stephen Ropss, Joe Philbon and Ryan Tannehill, et al, exuded confidence and all but guaranteed the playoffs as Dolphins camp began on Thursday. The bravado was refreshing to hear, but, coming from a team that hasn't won a playoff game in 14 years, it also sounded a little like your girlfriend smack-talking Ronda Rousey.

2. MARLINS: Fernandez goes for home win-streak record Sunday: Jose Fernandez, 15-0 at Marlins Park, takes the mound Sunday vs. Padres trying to equal the MLB record for most consecutive home victories to start one's career. It's also "Bark in the Park" day. Opponents haven't bothered or derailed Jose at home. Let's see if a bunch of yapping dogs can.

3. HURRICANES: UM opens football practice on Thursday: Coach Al Golden begins his fifth year leading The U, but, coming off a 6-7 season, fan patience toward Golden is minimal. To give you an example, I hear disgruntled boosters have arranged for a plane to pull a 'Fire Golden' banner Thursday in gloomy anticipation of a disappointing first practice. 

4. NFL: Brady still fighting as Goodell denies Deflategate appeal: Patriots QB Tom Brady remains under a four-game suspension but is taking his case to federal court, which will hear arguments Aug. 12 and 19. So it's official: They truly have made a federal case of whether Brady was aware of infinitesimally under-inflated footballs that had zero bearing on any outcome. 

5. MARLINS: Fish are sellers (of course) at trade deadline: A flurry of baseball trades to beat the MLB deadline included Miami trading away five players -- starting pitchers Dan Haren and Mat Latos among them -- and getting all young prospects in return. Deals were expected, and less a fire sale than smart business. Rotation is thin now, though. Have they told you yet? You're starting Tuesday.

6. HEAT: Team makes trades, sets preseason schedule: Heat announced its preseason schedule (and thus Chris Bosh's comeback) would begin Oct. 4. Team also made minor roster moves, trading Zoran Dragic and releasing Henry Walker after earlier trading Shabazz Napier. Thanks for the memories, guys. I'd be specific, but I can't think of any offhand.

7. HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER: Tribute dinner planned for coaching icon: Miami Touchdown Club is hosting a tribute dinner for Schnellenberger, 81, this Thursday at Signature Grand in Davie. I don't wanna say Howard has had a full career, but if they detailed all of his various accomplishments, I'd estimate that Thursday's dinner would end around early October.

8. JUNIOR SEAU: Controversy overshadows Hall induction in Canton: Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct its latest class this coming Saturday, overshadowed by the Hall's decision to not let the family of the late Junior Seau speak on his behalf. Not sure which is worse. That heartless decision. Or the subsequent refusal to budge from it.

9. WOMEN COACHES: Females making sudden inroads with male teams: Three major pro men's teams (San Antonio Spurs, Arizona Cardinals and Sacramento Kings) now have female assistant coaches. Next step on the progress chart: When those kind of hirings are so common they're barely newsworthy. 

10. CECIL THE LION: Has hunting ever seemed less sporting?: A Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, is in trouble for illegally hunting and killing the beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe and now faces extradition to face charges. (See more on this below). Authorities aren't buying the dentist's excuse that he was merely trying to sedate the animal to perform a root canal.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphin Cam Wake poses with uncaged tiger in Thailand. "That was intimidating," said the tiger. ..... Marlins play farting sounds on PA system during Nationals batting practice because, well, they're the Marlins! ..... Marlins will have influence of over design of David Beckham's new MLS stadium planned near Marlins Park. Uh oh. ..... Two Heat fans spend $75,000 to watch a game with Dan LeBatard. You can have met for 20 bucks. ..... Kyle Busch is first NASCAR driver in eight years to win three races in a row, and we still don't like him. ..... Florida's two-day lobster mini-season ends. Do y'all not realize lobsters are readily available for purchase year round? ..... Beijing is awarded 2022 Winter Olympics despite having no snow. IOC strikes again! ..... Boston withdraws as host candidate for '24 Summer Games, and entire city yawns. ..... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson, 20 wins her fifth LPGA tournament. When I was 20, I figured out that if you shook a vending machine an extra bag of chips might drop. ..... R.I.P., Rowdy Roddy Piper, wrestling's greatest bad guy.

THE MOST IMPRESSIVE STREAKS IN MIAMI SPORTS HISTORY: I fancy myself a South Florida sports historian so this kind of stuff interests me. Here are my top five Miami streaks, plus a few no-I-didn't-forget-you honorable mentions:

1aa1alarryc1. Dolphins' 18-game winning streak, 1972-73 -- Four decades later it still is tied for the third-longest streak of all-time in the NFL. But it is our choice for No. 1 because of the historical significance that it included the epic and still-unparalleled 17-0 Perfect Season of '72. Fullback Larry Csonka, along with Don Shula the broken-nosed face of perfection, is pictured.

1aa1aginot2. Hurricanes' 58-game home winning streak, 1985-94 -- It remains an NCAA football record, and an emblem of both the UM Glory Years and why the Orange Bowl still is so fondly remembered by so many. That streak also is one of the reasons so much pressure finds Al Golden today. Quarterback Gino Torretta is pictured.


1aa1ajosef3. Jose Fernandez's 15-0 home record, 2013-current
-- Fernandez, pictured, is scheduled to pitch on Sunday here, and one more win would tie the all-time MLB record for most consecutive home victories to start one's career. (A major reason for that streak and just as impressive as the wins: His 1.19 career ERA at Marlins Park).

1aa1alebronj4. Heat's 27-game winning streak, 2013 -- The Heat's franchise-record winning streak stands as probably the greatest hallmark of the four-year LeBron James Era; well, after the two championships, of course. The streak was the second-longest in NBA history and ended six victories shy of tying the all-time record of 33 set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. James (back when Miami still loved him) is pictured.


1aa1aluisc
5. Luis Castillo's 35-game hitting streak, 2002
 
-- Castillo, pictured, had the longest hitting streak in baseball in 15 years and tied for 11th longest of all-time, seventh best all-time among NL batters.

Honorable mention: Dolphins' 27 consecutive home wins, 1971-74. UM men's tennis streak of 137 straight matches won, 1957-64. And FAU baseball's 34 straight wins, 1999.

ON WALTER THE LION KILLER: The story has riveted international attention: How a Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, paid $50,000 to hunt and kill and beloved lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe. Now it seems 1aa1adentistthat government is attempting to extradite the doctor to face charges, and I must admit I hope the U.S. cooperates. Two Zimbabwe men already have been arrested. (Click here for the latest). The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says Cecil suffered a slow death, first with a crossbow, later by a gun. Palmer has said he regrets what he did, but he still should face consequences beyond, we may presume,the ruination of his dental practice from the tsunami of outraged reaction. The good to come of this: The light shone on the damnable practice of hunting for pleasure -- not for need, not for food, but for the pure sport of it. Hunters are free to do what's legal, but many of the rest of us are free to condemn the practice. What Palmer did, it must be emphasized, was not legal. (The illustration pictured is by Dave Granlund).

Poll result: Most think Brady legacy is damaged: We asked how much weight Tom Brady's role in Deflategate should be given in shaping his ultimate NFL legacy and it was 53.9 percent "a lot," 30.9% "a little" and 15.2% "none."

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

July 30, 2015

Uncommon, refreshing bravado from Dolphins: the new column; plus Fins Training Camp Primer, who Marlins got from Dodgers, Brady's legacy (w/ poll), 1 big reason to call Marlins' lost season a success, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 30. No music but apparent mysterious farting sounds from the Marlins Park PA system greeted the Nationals as they took batting practice. An investigation supposedly is underway. #Fartgate. 2) Click here for a primer on, and videos of, the Robot World Cup. Love soccer? Love robots? You might still hate this. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins trust-the-buzz poll, Miami stamp on MLB under-25 list, Junior Seau, Al Golden's Car Wash & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1amehatUncommon, refreshing bravado Dolphins as training camp opens: Fins owner Stephen Ross today called this Miami roster the team's best "in many, many years" and left no doubt he expects the Dolphins will make the playoffs and challenge to reach Super Bowl. Asked if his patience has run out and he's antsy to see results, Ross said, "Goddamn right!" Click on Refreshing Bravado to read my latest column, online a now shipping to Friday's inky pulp editions. Photo at right is from today's Ross media session. My favorite part: the guy in the background with the goofy hat and shades who looks an awful lot like me.

Marlins acquire 3 Dodgers pitchers for Latos, Morse: The Marlins today completed the trade of pitcher Mat Latos and first baseman Michael Morse to the Dodgers for three righty minor-league pitchers: Kevin Guzman (age 20), Jeff Brigham (23) and Victor Araujo (22), all Single-A bound. Guzman and Brigham are starters. Araujo, perhaps the best prospect of the three, is a reliever. The Marlins dealing Latos, a pending free agent, was expected. Getting rid of Morse was no shock, either, considering he had underperformed and lost his job to Justin Bour.

Dolphins' Top 50: Fans may vote for franchise's all-time 50 greatest players now through Sept. 15 at Dolphins.com, from among 100 finalists, as part of club's 50th anniversary activities. Click here for ballot.

1aa1acamp1 1aa1acamp2DOLPHINS TRAINING CAMP PRIMER: TEN THINGS THAT SHOULD INTEREST YOU, FOR BETTER OR WORSE: The Dolphins' 50th anniversary season kicks off in a tangible way with today's first practice signalling the official start of training camp. Optimism is high (see poll result below). Hopes for a playoff season (at last) will be in the humid air as Dolfans flock to the club's Davie training center. Here are 10 things that should have a Dolfan's interest, as positives or concerns or shades in between:

1aa1ansuh1. Ndamukong Suh: Uncage the beast: Suh, pictured right, was the Dolphins' signature offseason acquisition, the state-of-the-art defensive tackle who by himself upgrades Miami's run-stopping and overall D to formidable. That's the idea, anyway.

2. New receiving corps: In like a gust of fresh air: Fins bring in top draft pick DeVante Parker, veteran Greg Jennings, young veteran Kenny Stills and tight end Jordan Cameron to augment second-year star Jarvis Landry and TE Dion Sims. On paper, an improvement to excite.

3. Ryan Tannehill: Now earn it: Entering his fourth season, Tannehill is newly enriched with the big contract ensuring financial and future stability. But that new deal, and the new receiving corps, increases the pressure on the QB to lead a playoff season.

1aa1adparker4. DeVante Parker: How's the foot?: The foot injury that dogged Parker's senior year at Louisville continues to bother and limit him. Yesterday the club placed him on the PUP list, which suggests the No. 1 draft pick, pictured right, will likely miss training camp though team still hopes he'll be ready by start of regular season. Missing camp would be a blow, though. Parker needs to get in sync with Tannehill and with Bill Lazor's offense.  

5. The guards: Can anybody play this position?: Dallas Thomas? Billy Turner? Lot of warm bodies out here. But will Miami find two of them hot enough to be capable, solid NFL starters?

6. Branden Albert: Get well soon: Albert can be the Richmond Webb/Jake Long-type left tackle pillar when healthy. But he's coming off major knee surgery. His complete recovery in time for the season opener remains in question but seems likely.

1aa1aajayij7. Running back: Will a battle materialize?: Ex-Cane Lamar Miller, entering the final year of his contract, is the guy. But rookie Jay Ajayi, pictured right, will get a big chance to impress and unseat Miller if he can. Ajayi could get the nod if it's too close to call, because he'd be cheaper to keep beyond this season.

8. The secondary: Big 2 and then...: Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes and PB-quality safety Reshad Jones are rock-solid starters back there. Then there's a dropoff. Lots of depth, but which guys will step up to augment the Big 2.

9. The linebackers: How good?: Jelani Jenkins had a break-through season last year and Chris McCain shows much promise. If those two continue to develop and team can find a home for Koa Misi (middle? outside?), then Fins could have a solid nucleus. LBs still must prove, though, that they aren't the weak link of the three defensive groups.

1aa1ajoep10. Joe Philbin and overall pressure: This could be higher on our list. Much. Overriding everything this year is the onus on coach Joe Philbin, pictured right, to lead a playoff season. His job likely depends on it. The 50th anniversary events will call much attention to the franchise's storied past -- and heap that much more pressure on the '15 squad to create some new glory days.

Dolfan optimism running higher than usual: We asked, on the eve of training camp, about your optimism for this coming Dolphins season relative to how you feel most years, and almost 75 percent of readers called themselves either "slightly" (43.0 percent) or "much" (31.7%) more optimistic than usual. Another 13.7% said they feel about the same, and 11.6% were pessimistic and don't trust the buzz.

TOM BRADY AND THE DAMAGE DONE: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is making it harder and harder for anyone to buy his innocence in the Deflategate mess. Now the appeal of his four-game suspension is denied 1aa1abradytombecause he ordered his cellphone destroyed -- the phone with the incriminating texts. I say in my latest column -- click on Take The Loss, Brady to read in full -- that he should forget pursuing this further in federal court, instead swallowing his medicine and serving his four games to start the coming season. But let's look ahead, beyond Brady's playing career, to the weight this controversy will or should have on his legacy, on how he is remembered. As I write in the column, I don't think this rises to the level (or sinks to the depth) of what Watergate was to Nixon, but it's definitely a permanent stain. The question is, how big? How noticeable? Dolfans, I challenge you to be fair by imagining how you would feel if, say, Ryan Tannehill were embroiled in the very same controversy and accused of the same actions. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

ONE BIG REASON TO CALL THIS LOST MARLINS SEASON A SUCCESS: Two words. Jose Fernandez. 1aa1ajosefThat's where you start in assessing the Marlins 100 games in. Barring a sporting miracle the season will be an overall disappointment, with too many key injuries spelling no playoffs. The big salvation, though, is that Fernandez has done it. He has come back successfully --wonderfully -- from Tommy John surgery. That's something you can never be sure of until you see it. We are seeing it. In five starts he is 4-0 with a 2.53 ERA and 37 strikeouts (against only seven walks) in 32 innings. And that full recovery eases the sting of the overall losing. By the way, the team's premature managerial change through 100 games continued to have an eerily negligible effect. Fish were winning at a .421 clip (16-22) under Mike Redmond, and it's .419 (26-36) under Dan Jennings.

1aa1afishweighWEIGHING THE FISH (100 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race drawn somewhat closer by Stanton's injury. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 100 games (at 42-58):


Rank Player                   WTF#  @90

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                330.5    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   285.4   3

4  Jacob Realmuto         242.8    5

5  Christian Yelich        237.9   4

6  Martin Prado              229.4   6

7  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   7

8  Justin Bour                 199.9    8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              161.6   9

10  Michael Morse          115.5   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 7, Gordon 2.

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

July 28, 2015

How much do you trust the buzz about the Dolphins? New poll. Vote now!; plus Miami flavor to MLB 25-and-under list, Golden's schedule on ESPN 'Car Wash' today, Seau induction controversy & more

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

It's Radio/TV Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 p.m. on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio and Fusion TV. New Back In My Day, new Periscope both possible. Ears and eyes welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 28. Dolphins re-sign QB Josh Freeman after just releasing him, a contractual maneuver to lessen team's financial risk. 2) Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez, with a home run on his 40th birthday, became only fourth player in MLB history to homer in his teens and his 40s, joining Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub and Gary Sheffield. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Harvard loves Dolphins, Hot Button Top 10, Stanton-Tannehill and Cosby-O.J. verdicts & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Canton should waive its dumb policy for Seau: Click on Let His Family Speak for today's latest column by me. It's on the Pro Football Hall of Fame not allowing a member of his family to speak for the late Junior Seau at next week's induction ceremony.

HOW MUCH DO YOU TRUST THE BUZZ ABOUT THE DOLPHINS?: Maybe some of it was Miami being at the 1aa1ansuhcenter of the offseason's biggest free-agent signing in defensive star Ndamukong Suh (pictured). Maybe it was the long-term commitment to Ryan Tannehill, or the receiving corps overhaul. Heck, maybe it's just the law of averages -- the sense the Fins are simply due for a big season after this long run of mediocrity. In any case there is a buzz about the team this season, a cautious expectation about the playoffs. (You saw in our previous blogpost that even a Harvard University analytic study has forecast Miami to be in the Super Bowl). But I'm more curious what you think than what Harvard does. With the Dolphins hitting the practice field this Thursday for the start of training camp, who does how you feel about the Dolphins' upcoming season differ from how you typically feel? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

DISTINCT SOUTH FLORIDA STAMP ON BASEBALL 25-AND-UNDER LIST: With Jose Fernandez on the mound as Marlins return home tonight, it's a good time to bring you MLB.com's new list of the top 25 1aa1ammachadoplayers 25-and-younger. (Complete list here). After Mike Trout and Bryce Harper at 1-2, there is a distinct South Florida flavor, with five of the next 23 players having local ties: No. 3--Orioles 3B Manny Machado, pictured left (Hialeah and Brito High); No. 4--Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton; No. 6--Marlins pitcher Fernandez; No. 9--Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo (Fort Lauderdale and Stoneman-Douglas High); and No. 23--Royals 1B Eric Hosmer (South Miami and American Heritage High).

GOLDEN RUNS THE 'CAR WASH' GAUNTLET: Hurricanes coach Al Golden is run through ESPN's 'Car Wash'
today in Bristol, Conn., answering the same questions dozens of times and gamely pretending to enjoy
1aa1agoldencarwashthe experience. Theme most likely to be pounded into the ground: "The media and fans have put you on the hot seat, Al. How do you respond to that criticism and pressure?" Here's where to catch Golden on radio or TV today: 10:25 a.m. on SportscenterU on ESPNU; 10:50 on ESPN Front Row; 11:20 on SportsCenter (pictured at right); 11:40 on ESPN Digital Video with Chris Low; 12:15 p.m. on Championship Drive Podcast; 12:30 with Freddie Coleman; 1 with Jorge Sedano; 1:20 on College Football Live; 1:40 with Joe Schad; 2:20 with Paul Finebaum; and 2:35 on College Football Daily. Golden, embattled off a 6-7 season, opens his fifth UM year with the start of fall practice Aug. 6. Season starts Sept. 5 at home vs. Bethune-Cookman.

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