June 25, 2016

Who's closest? Will Dolphins, Heat, Hurricanes football, Marlins or Panthers be champions next? New poll. Vote now!: plus your verdict on naked athletes & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Athletes getting naked poll, Cavs/Cubs/Dolfans, Dolphins helping Orlando, aggressive Panthers, Heat's Top 5 undrafted finds, Canes diving, your verdict on LeBron's future, R.I.P. Vinyl & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so great they deserved another look: Cavs, Cubs Offer Hope For Dolfans, the latest, musing on how Cleveland's championship and season Cubs are having proves even long-starving fans get fed eventually. Rooting For LeBron to Make History, on our treasonous hopes entering Finals Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's hits achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

THE MIAMI BIG 5 TEAM MOST LIKELY TO NEXT BE CHAMPION IS...: This poll topic last appeared in our blog in July 2014. Two years later, it's time to take another pulse-read. During the Heat's Nextchamp Big5Big 3 era the answer was pretty obvious. Now? It's open to honest debate. The Heat remain competitive, but now the Marlins are legitimately in the playoff hunt, the Dolphins and Canes football are hopeful with well-received coaching changes, and you could argue the Panthers' core of rising young talent makes the Cats closest to a title of all our teams. The playing field for this question has leveled. (For the purposes of the vote, let's not assume the Heat will somehow land Kevin Durant in free agency, a longshot). The timing for this poll also is right, with baseball going on, basketball and hockey just ended, and football about to gear up. I'm not sure if there is an easy or obvious answer here, or a bad one. That is what makes picking one team tough, but that is your challenge. Your other challenge: To not make it a favorite-team or favorite-sport vote. It isn't. Not asking who you most hope has a parade next, but who you honestly think is most likely to. In other words, who your money would be on in a straight-up wager. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: Enough, you narcissistic naked athletes!: We asked what best reflects your opinion of athletes (now including Dwyane Wade) posing nude for ESPN The Magazine's annual 'Body' issue, and a plurality of 44.7 percent voted "negative. However 30.8% voted "positive," 13.3% were undecided and 11.2% voted "depends who the athlete is."

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 22, 2016

Panthers lose OT heartbreaker, trail Isles 3-2; plus what should be Dolphins' priority for No. 1 draft pick? New poll. Vote now!; also 'Patrick & Zo,' homicide rates and lesson in them, athletes on 'most influential' list, reliving Prince in Miami & more

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

Passover Tubman1) It is FRIDAY, APRIL 22. A most happy Passover to our Jewish readers and friends. Also, happy Earth Day and thank you, mother! 2) Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Imagine you'd proposed that idea to her before she died in 1913, seven years before women had even won the right to vote! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): History! Heat and Panthers both win in playoffs on same day for first time, R.I.P. Prince, ESPN fires Schilling, Marlins' awful start, NBA jersey ads & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

"The national group, People Who Thought the Dolphins Might Actually Get Josh Norman, is meeting tonight. Waffle House. Corner booth." --Greg Cote

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East, the latest, off Heat's Game 2 win. Rook 1, Rook 2, on Heat's refreshing, uncommon reliance on rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. This Is the Upside, off Heat's impressive Game 1 victory.

G5: N.Y. ISLANDERS 2, PANTHERS 1 (2OT): CATS NOW TRAIL 3-2 HEADING TO BROOKLYN: Florida loses 2-1 in double-overtime past midnight and now faces elimination in Game 6 Sunday. Click on Cats Need Jagr's Goals Punch for my column from the game. ..... Original post: All four games so far have been one-goal margins if you exclude one last- Catsislessecond empty netter. In Florida's two wins Roberto Luongo has given up two total goals and in the two losses nine goals have whizzed past him, so figure defense and Luongo's performance naturally will be a key tonight starting at 8. But defense-first hasn't really been the Cats' mindset thus far in the postseason as it usually was in G5the regular season. You know how the Miami Heat are going nuts offensively so far in the playoffs? The Panthers are showing a similar aggressiveness. In the NHL there is an analytic rating that measures a team's total of blocked and unblocked shots in one-goal or overtime situations when both teams are full strength. Florida's rating was a minus-99 in the regular season, ranking 18th in the league, the number suggesting a team that tried to protect leads with puck possession rather than push for additional goals. But in the first four playoff games the Cats are an NHL-leading plus-46, signaling push-forward aggressiveness. How important is tonight? Historically in the NHL Game 5 winners of a 2-2 series go on to win the series 78.4 percent of the time. Late tonight, one team will be one win away from its first Stanley Cup series advance in two decades (Panthers' last was 1996, Islanders' '93).

Tannenbaum"DEAR MIKE TANNENBAUM...:" SETTING DOLPHINS' DRAFT PRIORITY: In six days, next Thursday night, your Miami Dolphins make their first-round selection in the NFL Draft, 13th overall barring a trade up or down. That puts Dolphins roster builder Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) in the throes of a huge decision. What to prioritize with so Draftroommany needs? Will you help him, please? I'll have a Dolphins draft column in this Sunday paper's (online Saturday) and of course will have my annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft in Thursday's paper (online Wednesday). So you'll be getting plenty of my specific thoughts on who the Dolphins should and will select No. 1. Now it's your turn. I invite you to say what you think is Miami's greatest position need and what you think its draft priority should be, assuming a player of comparable talent were available at each position. Say you happen to be in an elevator with Tannebuam. You have 10 seconds to share your thoughts as he pretends to listen. What are you telling him? The poll is alphabetical. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

PatrickzoTRAILER: 'PATRICK & ZO': Sports Illustrated has a new SI Films documentary, Patrick & Zo, newly available on SI.com. The doc explores the kinship and rivalry between menacing defensive giants Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning, who both starred at Georgetown University and then faced each other as star centers throughout their NBA careers. (Zo, of course, is the former Miami Heat star and now a club vice president). Click here to see the film's trailer: Patrick & Zo

GLOBAL HOMICIDE RATES, AND THE LESSON IN THEM: I read with interest the latest annual survey of the Mexican Citizens Council for Public Security, which ranks the world's most dangerous large cities (300,000-plus population) based on the number of homicides per 100,000 people. The dubious top three: Caracas, Venezuela with 119.87; San Pedro Sula, Honduras with 111.03; and DangerSan Salvador, El Salvador with 108.54. Four U.S. cities unfortunately make the top 50: St. Louis is 15th with 59.23, Baltimore 19th with 54.98, Detroit 28th with 43.89 and New Orleans 32nd with 41.44. Ten countries account for all of the top 50 most murderous cities: Brazil with an astounding 21, Venezuela 8, Mexico 5, U.S. and South Africa 4 each, Colombia 3, Honduras 2, and 1 each for El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica. (Click here for an article that includes the entire top 50). Forty-one of the most homicidal cities are Latin American, thanks largely to Brazil. Zero European cities are on the list. Two quick thoughts: 1) I wonder if President Donald Trump will now move to ban all Brazilians from entering the U.S? 2) Notice that zero Muslim countries are in the top 50. Hmm. That is despite radical terrorists (the most indiscriminate murderers of all) inflicting the most havoc on Muslims in countries where they live and unfairly fomenting broad-brush anti-Muslim hysteria in America and elsewhere thanks to folks like Trump. What the latest statistics suggest is that -- if you erased the scourge of terrorism from the globe -- you'd probably be safer from murder living in Baghdad or Raqqa than you would be in St. Louis or Baltimore. We can take whatever lesson or reminder from this that we wish. Here's one, and I think it's a reminder that we Americans in 2016 could use: Terrorists are murderous people. Muslims are not.

SIX SPORTIES ON TIME'S 'MOST INFLUENTIAL' LIST: Time's 2016 100 Most Influential people list (given as a group, not in order) includes, alphabetically: track star Usain Bolt; the Warriors' Stephen Curry; Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton; former UM football player-turned-actor Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson; UFC star Ronda Rousey; and golfer Jordan Spieth. OK, I guess. Each is very successful is his or her field. The influential part is open to interpretation, I reckon.

GONE TOO SOON, PRINCE: The great musician and performer died suddenly yesterday at 57. Recalling his Super Bowl halftime performance in Miami on Feb. 4, 2007, amid a rainstorm and lightning. The show must go on...:

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 18, 2016

This is the Heat team that can beat LeBron and Cavs. Miami 'perfect' in 123-91 Game 1 rout of Charlotte; plus Panthers fall in OT, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Hassan Whiteside and Jaromir Jagr named Heat/Panthers season MVPs & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 18. Heat's Hassan Whiteside finishes third in NBA Defensive Plahyer of Year vote; Spurs' Kawhi Leonard wins again. 2) ESPN's mock-draft picks for Dolphins selecting 13th are two Ohio State Buckeyes -- OLB Darron Lee (says Mel Kiper) and RB Ezekiel Elliott (via Todd McShay). So it won't be either, then. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Panthers tie Islanders series, Dolphins schedule, Heat-Hornets, Heat/Panthers MVP polls, history of Miami playoff games, your Warriors vs. Kobe verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

NEW COLUMN: On Heat's refreshing reliance on rookies Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson: Shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions but available to you now. Click on Rook 1, Rook 2 to read. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: This Is the Upside, off last night's hugely impressive Heat Game 1 win. Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season, off Friday night's necessary Panthers Game 2 win. Now We See About the Panthers, off the series-opening loss.

Cats give one away: The Florida Panthers aren't making it easy on themselves. They lose Game 1 at home. Then, last night, they lost Game 3 in Brooklyn, 4-3 in overtime, after leading 3-1. Florida nows trails their NHL first-round series to the Islanders 2-1, with Game 4 Wednesday night back up there.

G1: HEAT 123, CHARLOTTE 91: DENG, WHITESIDE LEAD 'PERFECT' GAME: As bad as the Heat were in that late collapse in Boston four nights earlier, the Heat were that good Sunday night in starting the playoffs with an impressive home bang. Miami set club playoff records for most points in a game (123) and quarter (41) and most field goals made (49). Goran Dragic called it "a perfect game on both ends." It was almost literally so for Luol Deng (31 points) and Hassan Whiteside (21), who combined for 20-of-24 shooting. Miami wasn't as bad it it looked in Boston last week and can't be as great as it looked Sunday, but we saw how good this team can be. And the team we saw Sunday night can beat anybody in the East, LeBron James and Cleveland included. Game 2 is back here Wednesday night. Click on This Is the Upside for my game column off last night's gem. ..... Original post: When last we saw the Heat on the court, they were Heathornetssundaysuffering a regular season-ending meltdown in Boston akin to Jordan Spieth's in The Masters. No time for a hangover effect now, with the first-round playoffs set to begin as No. 3 seed Miami hosts No. 6 Charlotte this evening in Game 1. Despite the seed disparity both teams were 48-34 in the season and split their series 2-2, so it's understandable that Charlotte is a trendy upset pick with some in the national media. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson will be a challenge, and it's a series where Chris Bosh's absence could be conspicuous after so many weeks of Miami seemingly not missing him. Charlotte has had the third-best record in the league since the all-star break and is 26-9 since Jan. 31. That's impressive. Miami is a narrow betting favorite in this series at 5-8 odds to Charlotte's 8-5, but must prove here that it is capable of playing all the way into the Eastern finals. Miami is one of only five of 122 franchises in the Big Four sports to make the playoffs at least 17 times and win at least three championships in the past 21 seasons, along with Lakers, Spurs, Red Wings and Yankees. The Heat have more playoff seasons than the Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers combined since Miami became a four-sport city in 1993. But I see a serious early challenge here for the Heat. So does ESPN, which ranks this series No. 1 of the eight for upset potential, which it estimates at 46 percent. My pick: Heat in 6 games.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Wow! Miami saves its best game of season for playoff opener:  Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets were a trendy pick to upset the No. 3 Heat in this best-of-seven, but the Heat last night said, "I don't think so." And emphatically, in a 123-91 rout in the downtown bayside arena led by Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside's combined 52 points on combined 20-for-24 shooting. If last night was the real Heat, then this team is capable of beating anybody in the East ... including that guy from Cleveland, whatshisname.

2. PANTHERS: Cats give one away in crucial Game 3 loss to Islanders: One game after Roberto Luongo saved the day for Florida, the Panthers last night blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads in a 4-3 overtime Game 3 loss in Brooklyn. Islanders now are up 2-1, with Game 4 back up in New York Wednesday night. Must win? Well, don't they all sort of feel like that in a best-of-seven playoffs?

3. DOLPHINS: Season schedule is out (uh oh) as Fins prepare for draft: Does new Dolphins coach Adam Gase have enemies? Apparently one — the guy who scheduled Miami to open the season at Seattle and at New England. Fins hope they fare better in the April 28-30 NFL Draft than they did with the schedule. I can't wait for the draft ..mainly because it puts a merciful end to the endless speculation of national mocks drafts and local flat-out guessing on what Miami might do.

4. MARLINS: Shh. Don’t tell anybody, but Fish in midst of homestand: Miami is in the midst of seven games in a row at Marlins Park. The question is, with the Heat and Panthers both in the playoffs and Dolphins’ draft soon, will South Florida even notice? The homestand may not be a good thing, considering it has opened with three straight losses to previously winless Braves, making Miami now 0-5 at home this year. Fish's early-season problem is clear. If your arm is loose, report immediately to the bullpen, please.

5. HURRICANES: UM’s spring game ends offseason football practice: Hurricanes’ annual Spring Game, the first under new coach Mark Richt, was Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Green beating Orange 24-7 behind Brad Kaaya's 345 yards passing before some 14,000 fans at Lockhart Stadium. Want a sad fact? Canes baseball is ranked No. 1 in the nation, but more UM fans care about a glorified football practice taking place five months before season starts.

6. NBA: Big end to regular season segues to playoffs: Basketball's regular season ended with Golden State’s record-setting 73rd win and retiring Kobe Bryant’s 60 points in his final game. Top that, first round!

7. NHL: It's No, Canada! as Stanley Cup playoffs begin: Canada invented hockey. You wouldn't know it. A Canadian team hasn't lifted Lord Stanley's Cup since 1993, and now, for the first time since 1970, no Canadian team even made the playoffs.

8. NFL: Rams trade up for No. 1 pick in draft: Good offseason for Los Angeles. First the city gets the Rams back from St. Louis. Now, in first trade involving a top pick since 2004, the team gets the No. 1 draft pick from Tennessee. 

9. GOLF: Fans still abuzz over Spieth's Masters meltdown: It's been a week and golf fans still can't get over Jordan Spieth blowing The Masters and literally handing over the green jacket to Danny Willett. Then again, at least Jordan, who tied for second, had $880,000 to help dry his tears.

10. SAILING: Miamian wins Star-class world title: Miami and Coral Reef Yacht Club hosted the Star-class world sailing championships, which is of apparent tremendous interest to Star-class sailors. No, seriously, it's a big event, and Miamian Augie Diaz parlayed home-wind advantage to victory.

Missing the cut: Sidelined Chris Bosh addressed his Heat teammates and advised them to "savor the playoffs." Had he told them to take the playoffs for granted, now that woulda been newsworthy! ... Tyler Summitt (Pat's son) resigns in disgrace after impregnating one of his basketball players. Um, what were you thinking, Louisiana Tech, hiring a then 22-year-old as a head coach? ... Dolphins are conducting voluntary offseason workouts, meaning all players are expected to "volunteer" ... FIU's spring football game was canceled by bad weather. No, seriously ... A company called U-Glove makes protective disposable gloves to wear when pumping gas. Shouldn't The U demand a cut of the action? ... MLB going high-tech with iPads in dugouts for analytic research during games. Can an iPad pick up a bat or throw a slider? Then I'm not impressed ... Kyle Busch became first NASCAR driver in 25 years to win multiple races on consecutive weekends. America still doesn't like you, Kyle! ... It has come to our attention badminton is a high-school sport, begging the question, Why?

Jagr WhitesidePOLL RESULTS: HASSAN WHITESIDE, JAROMIR JAGR NAMED HEAT AND PANTHERS' REGULAR-SEASON MVPS: It was a fairly close two-man race on the basketball side, but you had Hassan Whiteside (left) as the Heat's 2015-16 season MVP over Dwyane Wade by 51.8 percent to 41.4%, with the other 6.8% voting for "someone else." Mild upset, or no? It was a landslide on the hockey end. Jaromir Jagr (right) at age 44 won with 62.9 percent of the vote, followed by Roberto Luongo (13.8%), Aleksander Barkov (11.1%) and Aaron Ekblad (also 11.1%), with "someone else" at only 1.1%.

THE LIST: HEAT'S MIAMI REIGN: How often the Miami Heat have made the playoffs relative to SoFla's other other big teams:

Team                Seasons    PO years    Pct.

Miami Heat            28        19           .679

Miami Dolphins     50        16           .320

Florida Panthers     22         5            .227

Miami Marlins       23         2            .087

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 06, 2016

Setting the bar on Marlins' season expectations. Poll. Vote now!; plus Villanova, '96 Bulls vs. '16 Warriors poll, Dolphins in Bogota, Monica Lewinsky the "innovator," spring football league comes to Florida & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6. A slightly belated bowed head for the recent anniversary, of the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. The great civil rights leader would have been 87 today had hatred not taken him. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your men's Final Four verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

It's Villanova in a classic finish: It was one for the ages. Kris Jenkins' 3-point basket at the buzzer averted overtime and lifted Villanova to the men's NCAA championship over North Carolina, 77-74. Based on our recent Final Four polls, most thought UNC would win (59.5 percent to Villanova's 28.9%), but more wanted 'Nova to win (38.7% to UNC's 32.4%). I had no rooting interest but was thrilled to see that basketball fans won. Anyone watching won. What a finish.

MARLINS LAUNCH 24TH SEASON WITH HOPES (SOMEWHAT) HIGH DESPITE LOSS ON OPENING DAY NIGHT: [Marlins fall to Detroit last night 8-7 in 11 innings, despite a Giancarlo Stanton home run and three extra-base hits by Dee Gordon. Click on Out Of Excuses for my column off the game] Original post: "If there is a fragile nature to Miami Marlins’ hopes for the 2016 season, it is embodied quite Marlins2016literally in the health of the team’s two biggest stars. One, Giancarlo Stanton, possesses a towering physique that drives baseballs over walls harder and faster than anybody else in the sport. The other, Jose Fernandez, throws fastballs so hard they all but leave a vapor trail and make catcher’s mitts Marlinssmoke. They are two players who rely on pure power, and yet there is a porcelain quality to their bodies, like thoroughbreds pounding a racetrack on legs that seem too slender for all of that weight. Few teams in Major League Baseball are more top-loaded with two young players as dynamic as Stanton, 26, and Fernandez, 23. A Stanton at-bat might be the most must-see minute in all of sports as outfielders can only turn and watch what in pre-technology days we would call a tape-measure home run. A start by Fernandez is served with a side dish of bravado, of infectious, fist-pumping fire. About both, though, there is the question mostly whispered, as if it were taboo. Can they stay healthy?" The preceding is the start to my Marlins season preview column; click on Power & Porcelain to read in full. Hard to judge expectations. Experts and bettors (see below) don't seem to expect much of Miami, but inside the clubhouse the team is genuinely hopeful with new manager Don Mattingly at the wheel, and the Marlins are a trendy they'll-surprise-you pick of some in the media. I'll be at the ballpark columnizing and social media-ing from Opening Day vs. the Detroit Tigers. For now, I invite you to help set the bar on Marlins expectations for 2016. What do you realistically expect of this season? Not what you hope might happen, but what you honestly think will. Take a dip in our poll.

Updated Marlins betting odds: Latest betting odds from Bovada show Marlins at 50-1 to win the World Series, holding steady since the previous odds were out in November. That's tied for 22nd-longest odds. NL East odds are Mets 10-11, Nationals 11-10, Marlins 6-1, Braves 25-1 and Phillies 50-1.x

BullswarriorsTHE ULTIMATE IMAGINARY NBA FINALS: '96 BULLS VS. '16 WARRIORS: What a great week to be a basketball fan! On the college level we get North Carolina vs. Villanova tonight for the men's NCAA championship, then UConn vs. Syracuse Tuesday night for the women's crown. And as the collegians are wrapping up the pros are just getting ready to start -- with the NBA regular season waning and the playoffs about to begin. But first there is the Golden State drama. Will the Warriors, 69-8 entering Tuesday's game, break the '96 Bull's 72-10 mark for most wins in a season? It's likely though hardly a ciunch, considering GS needs to win four of its last five games and two of those are vs. mighty rival San Antonio. Whether the Warriors  break the mark or not, though, our poll question is legit. Who'd win a sevn-game series: Michael Jordan's '96 Bulls or Stephen Curry's 2016 Warriors? There is no way of knowing, which makes the conjecture all the more interesting. Scottie Pippen says his '96 Bulls would not only beat but sweep the Warriors. Charles Barkley says, "That Bulls team would kill this little [Golden State] team." I'm sure many agree. But I'm also sure plenty think these Warriors' sport-changing barrage of 3's would get the best of even those great Bulls. Your opinion goes here.

BE INSPIRED BY ... MONICA LEWINSKY?: There is a conference April 18-19 in Miami (click here for details) that invites you to "be inspired by innovators," and lists a bevy of speakers that Monicaincludes statesman Colin Powell, skateboarding giant Tony Hawk and entertainer Pitbull. But in a Miami Herald ad for the event published today, the three faces out front are those of Powell, Hawk and (are you ready?) ... Monica Lewinsky! That's right, kids. Talk about an innovator! Be inspired by perhaps the only woman in U.S. history to be famous because she once engaged in a sordid-turned-public illicit relationship with an American president. I wonder. Is her talk entitled How I Blew Bill Clinton, or does she choose a somewhat more subtle heading for her address? Lewinsky, now 42, describes herself these days as a "social activist" and "public speaker." Give her credit, I guess. She evidently has managed to make a profitable cottage industry of parlaying the shame and notoriety of her name into some sort of career. God bless America! For me, though, this invites a most difficult question to answer, a real conundrum: Who is more gullible? The event that would pay Monica Lewinsky to speak? Or the people who would pay to hear her? 

BogataDOLPHINS TROT GLOBE IN SEARCH OF TALENTED ... CHEERLEADERS!: You thought the Dolphins were turning over every available stone only in search of talented players? No, sir. Or madam. Your Fins also are trotting the globe looking for talented cheerleaders. The club announced today it has chosen six young women from more than 100 applicants in a tryout in Bogota, Colombia. The NFL's first international cheerleader auditions included previous stops in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Mexico City. The Dolphins obviously want a more diverse Hispanic flavor to their cheer squad and apparently could not find enough diversity or Hispanic women in South Florida (!). Does it sound like a waste of money for the Dolphins to search abroad when there obviously is ample talent in So Fla? Yes I thought so, too. but then I saw the photo pictured left of Elianis, one of the six finalists from the Bogota audition, and thought to myself, "Why should young women such as this who have longed to lead cheers for a sport they know nothing about be denied their dream!?"

FloridafusionLATEST SPRING FOOTBALL LEAGUE DELAYS LAUNCH: These things are pretty much born to fail, but, for what it's worth, Major League Football, a new professional spring league listing Herm Edwards as a "senior adviser," has announced it will be in the "development" stage this year with plans to begin its inaugural season in March of 2017. MLFB has targeted eight of what it calls "underserved sports markets," and they include an Orlando-based team, the Florida Fusion (logo at right). Other planned league cities are Akron OH, Birmingham AL, Eugene OR, Little Rock AR, Norfolk VA, Salt Lake City UT and San Antonio TX.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 11, 2016

Heat places seven players* among NBA's all-time Top 100 (*but how many are really ours?); plus Dolphins two-round mock draft, Riley's last push, your verdict on Shaq, The List (Marlins), chocolate bunny under siege & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11. In The Previous Blogpost: Should-Heat-retire-Shaq's-number poll, Miami Jackson's historic move, "Omahallelujah" (ode to Peyton), Super Bore 50, Canes' All-ACC brainiacs & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

On Pat Riley's late-career imperative: Today's latest column by me is a reckoning of Pat Riley's career and Heat legacy as he nears his 71st birthday. I touch on the significance of his decision to retire Shaquille O'Neal's number and explore whether Riley has one last hurrah -- one more NBA title -- in him, and how his decision on Hassan Whiteside's future will weigh on that. Click on Riley's Last Push to read.

DwyanewadeHEAT PLAYERS AMONG NBA'S ALL-TIME TOP 100, AND HOW MUCH OF THEM ARE "OURS": Lists-mad ESPN just named the NBA's all-time top 100 players (full list here) and seven of them (not bad!) have worn a Heat uniform. Here are the seven in order, and what percentage of their career NBA games (including playoffs) were or have been spent playing for Miami:

No. 3 LeBron James: 33.42% (and falling) -- James in 2010-14 played 381 games for Miami, of the 1,140 in career thus far.

No. 9 Shaquille O'Neal: 17.22% -- O'Neal played 245 games for Heat in 2004-07, of a career total of 1,423.

No. 27 Dwyane Wade: 100% -- D.Wade (pictured) has played all 983 of his career games, and counting, for Miami.

No. 45 Gary Payton: 11.69% -- Payton played 1,489 total games, and 174 were for the Heat to end his career in 2005-07.

No. 50 Ray Allen: 13.26% -- Allen ended career in Miami in 2012-14, playing 195 of his 1,471 total games for the Heat.

No. 65 Alonzo Mourning: 72.35% -- Zo played 675 of his 933 career games for Miami, in 1995-2002 and in 2004-08.

No. 86 Chris Bosh: 47.05% (and rising) -- With the Heat since 2010, Bosh as of now has played 462 of 982 career games for Miami.

Bottom line: Wade is all  ours. Claiming rights to Zo are strong. Bosh will tip up over the 50% mark for Miami in the 2016 playoffs or early next season. And we had a substantial minority share of LeBron. The other three were glorified career rentals for Miami, although Shaq and Allen see their place in club history magnified by their role in winning a championship. Wade's 983 career games, by the way, rank sixth among active players who have played their entire career for one franchise, trailing only Tim Duncan/Spurs (1,610), Kobe Bryant/Lakers (1,545), Dirk Nowitzki/Mavericks (1,454), Tony Parker/Spurs (1,259) and Manu Ginobli/Spurs (1,095). Also of note: Three other Miami-related figures make ESPN's all-time top 100: No. 37 Rick Barry was of course one of the Miami Hurricanes' first stars; No. 52 Bob McAdoo was a Heat assistant coach in 1995-2014; and No. 88 Billy Cunningham was among the Heat's founding minority owners from 1988-94.

Poll result: Approval for retiring Shaq's jersey, but it's hardly overwhelming: Shaquille O'Neal remains a somewhat polarizing figure in Miami. We asked and 55.4 percent agreed with the Heat's decision to retire his No. 32 uniform number and raise it to the arena rafters. But another 38.3% said no, and the other 6.3% were undecided. Interestingly (at least to me), the percentages were running against Shaq when the poll started out in my blog only, but shifted in his favor when the poll began running concurrently elsewhere in MiamiHerald.com.

HargreavesDOLPHINS' TWO-ROUND MOCK DRAFT: Via Sports Illustrated today, it is projected Miami's first-round draft pick in April at No. 8 overall will be Florida Gators cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, pictured (I could see that pick), and that the Dolphins' second-round pick (42nd overall) will be Kansas State guard/tackle Cody Whitehair. So there. Take that, Kiper!

THE LIST: MARLINS CAREER HOME-RUN LEADERS: To whet the appetite for spring training, for which Marlins players report late next week, here are the club's all-time Top 10 home run hitters:

Player                    Homers    Years

Giancarlo Stanton       181      2010-current

Dan Uggla                  154      2006-10

Hanley Ramirez          148      2006-12

Mike Lowell               143      1999-05

Miguel Cabrera           138      2003-07

Derrek Lee                 129      1998-03

Gary Sheffield            122      1993-98

Jeff Conine                120      1993-97, '03-05

Cliff Floyd                 110      1997-02

Preston Wilson           104      1998-02

Note: Marcell Ozuna, tied for 24th place with 36 homers, is second among active Marlins after Stanton. 

ChocolateanimalsBLASPHEMY! CHOCOLATE BUNNIES UNDER SIEGE: Not sure if this rises to the level meriting one of my "Back In My Day" radio-TV rants, but I find it mildly annoying nonetheless, and timely as Easter fast approaches. The bunny once stood alone in the animal kingdom when it came to chocolate treats for Easter. The Easter bunny! Now? As visual evidence presented here verifies, other chocolate animals -- in this case a sheep and a duckling, apparently -- are now infiltrating the bunny's holiday domain. Folks, I know there are greater, larger causes to get behind. Global warming, for example. But mustn't the small battles be fought, too? Reject as anti-American and perhaps anti-Christian those interloping, infiltrating chocolate animals that would blatantly denigrate a hallowed tradition. Stand with the chocolate Easter bunny!

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January 19, 2016

Your midseason grade for the Miami Heat: New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Final Four makes clear the onus on Tannehill, Dolphins; also, our latest playoff-pix results, MLK Ride-Out, Glenn Frey & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: Hope y'all enjoyed today's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz with me as guest-host. I just Tweeted out a link to today's latest "Back In My Day" so be sure to give us a follow.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 19. R.I.P. to Sun-Sentinel Marlins reporter Juan C. Rodriguez and founding Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey, both of whom passed away yesterday. I knew Juan as a respected colleague and Frey only as someone whose music was is a part of my life's soundtrack. Sad to lose both. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exploring South Florida's sports attic, Hot Button Top 10, MLK Day, your verdict on playoff QBs & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Abcd MiamiheatYOUR MIDSEASON GRADE FOR THE HEAT: The Miami Heat at midseason are what we thought they'd be. Or at least what I thought. They are pretty good, but no more. They are 23-18 and currently the fifth seed. They are only three games from second place in the East but also only two games from being off playoff pace. It would not shock me if they wound up in the conference finals against (presumably) Cleveland. But neither would it shock me if they missed the playoffs for a second straight season. So I'd give the Heat a "C" grade based in my expectations; for me, they have neither impressed nor disappointed beyond what I anticipated. But this is your poll, not mine. What is your midseason grade for the Heat based on your preseason thoughts? I purposely have not include an "F" in the poll, because, well, c'mon.

NFL FINAL FOUR IS A REMINDER WHERE DOLPHINS MOST FALL SHORT, AND HELPS EXPLAIN MIAMI'S HIRING STRATEGY: Four quarterbacks are left standing to fight for a Super Bowl win. Two Tannehillgaseare Canton-bound all-time greats in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. One is a better-than-ever veteran coming off his best season in Carson Palmer. And one is an exciting, rising young superstar in Cam Newton. The essential importance of the QB position in the modern NFL is underlined, and so is the gulf between the top tier at this position and the Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill. I explore this in my latest column; click on The Onus on Tannehill and Miami to read in full. I write why the hiring of head coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Clyde Chistensen, both seen as a QBs guru, were made specifically to elevate Tannehill's game to a point he can lead this franchise back to the playoffs, which he has yet to do in four years. (Tannehill and Gase are pictured). It is unspoken but abundantly clear: It's 2016-or-bust for this Tannehill/Dolphins marriage.

FripixNFL PIX DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF RESULTS: We were 3-1 straight-up again this week, although Seattle didn't give our upset pick much of a chance with that 31-0 hole before rallying. We went only 1-2-1 against the spread, with the Broncos pushing at seven points. Also, alas, my preseason Super Bowl pick -- Packers over Patriots -- perished with Green Bay's overtime loss.

RideoutTHE IDIOCY OF THE 'MLK RIDE-OUT': For the second straight year yesterday, hundreds of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes clogged South Florida roadways en masse for what has sadly become an annual event: the Martin Luther King Day Ride-Out. What a lunatic idea. Seriously. It's an exercise in lawlessness and pissant anarchy that sees dangerous driving and can only foment road rage as angry motorists respond. I'm surprised law enforcement has not made a concerted effort to stop this insane practice. Deaths will happen. Just a matter of time. I try to avoid the broad, sweeping statement, but let's just say anyone participating in this thing is very likely not an active member of MENSA.

R.I.P., GLENN FREY: GONE ALREADY: David Bowie, now this. So sad.

 

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November 29, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.7%; plus UM wins at Pitt 29-24 to end regular season 8-4; also 'Noles crush Gators, NFL Week 12 picks, bacon underwear & more

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

1) It is SATURAY, NOVEMBER 28. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend! 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Our Thanksgiving Day column, Bird Day NFL predictions & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Thanksgiving column: ICYMI, our Thanksgiving Day column seemed to strike a chord based on overwhelming positive email response. Click on Being Thankful In These Times to read.

Our UM-Pitt postgame thoughts: Find our in-game blog and UM-Pitt postgame thoughts below, directly beneath the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (There will be an additional, final CSM poll following the bowl game).

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 76.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 76.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 29-24 victory at Pitt putting UM's final regular-season Csmrecord at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Sunday.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

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

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

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

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

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

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Game 10: 49.5% (following 59-21 loss at North Carolina)

Game 11: 63.4% (following 38-21 victory vs. Georgia Tech)

Game 12: 76.7% (following 29-24 victory at Pitt)

Next/final poll: Following bowl game, date to be determined. 

G12: HURRICANES 29, PITT 24: UM COULD NOW BE STRONG BET FOR PINSTRIPE BOWL INVITE: Postgame thoughts: Miami squandered a 23-3 lead in the third quarter and made it a tad too close for comfort toward the end; still, a 29-24 road win over favored Pitt is a nice way to end the regular season. UM will go bowl-ing at 8-4, including a 4-1 marks since interim coach Larry Scott replaced the fired Al Golden. A typically solid day from QB Brad Kaaya today with 261 yards passing, augmented by 99 rushing from Joe Yearby and five field goals from Michael Badgley, who set a UM record for most FGs in a season. Defense was dominant early but beaten against the run late. All in all, a strong afternoon for The U. ..... Halftime thoughts: Not displeased to point out I'm dead wrong on my pregame prediction thus far. UM defense is dominating, limiting Pitt to 102 total yards off offense in a 23-3 game at the half. Canes have rolled up 248 yards with the ball, led by Brad Kaaya's 166 yards passing. ..... Note: We'll be live-updating the score and key plays throughout today's game, and be back here with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the arrival of the latest postgame CSM poll. ..... Original post: Miami's 7-4 Hurricanes visit Pitt's 8-3 Panthers in a noon matinee today, with Pittsburgh a 7-point home favorite. A small example why: Pitt

Miapittrouted Duke, 31-13, the team UM needed a last-second miracle to beat. I expect a shootout, and give the Canes a fair upset shot. Miami, 3-1 under interim coach Larry Scott, has much to play for. The nine-win season still in play would equal Miami's best since joining the ACC in 2004. And a win over Pitt could very well vault UM into the preferred Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, a stage the Canes program would love. I have little doubt Brad Kaaya willl put up plenty of points today. But enough? I have greater concerns about Miami's defense, which has tended to struggle on the road and now faces a Pitt offense that has put up 106 points over the past three games. My pick: Pitt, 31-27.

Other college Week 13 state FBS games (listed in chronology):

South Florida 44, UCF 3: Bulls finish 8-4 after a Thursday rout ending Knights' futility at 0-12. South Florida will be in American conference championship game if UConn beat Temple on Saturday.

FAU 33, Old Dominion 31: If you're going to have a bad season, might as well end it with a nice lil' road win. Owls finish 3-9.

No. 14 Florida State 27, No. 8 Florida 2: Dalvin Cook and huge defense carried FSU tonight to an unexpected rout of Florida in the Swamp, leaving both teams 10-2. Florida State has now won past three over Gators and was a 2 1/2-point road favorite here. This was 16th time but only the third time since 2001 that the rivals had met with both in the Top 15. Seminoles all but assured themselves a New Year's bowl. UF going in still had hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff top four if they'd beaten FSU and then somehow beaten Alabama in the Dec. 5 SEC title game. Those dreams are done.

Note: FIU completed its season at 5-7.

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: We got off to a wobbly start to our week on Thanksgiving, going 1-2 straight-up and against the spread. Knew we took a big risk picking against FripixCarolina, but Green Bay losing at Lambeau? I'd pick Pack again in a heartbeat. Anyway, onward! Click on Week 12 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Notably: Ryan Tannehill's AFC East struggles continue in a Dolphins loss at Jets, and Broncos end Patriots perfection in our Game and Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click Oh, Johnny for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with the gradual self-destruction of Johnny Manziel.

BACON-SCENTED UNDERWEAR: Ready to start your holiday shopping? Seattle-based J&D's Foods has announced the launch of bacon-scented underwear, which it calls "the world’s first underwear that looks and smells like bacon." Safe bet, that one. Another bold claim: That this is the first line of apparel "marrying the ultimate in comfort and cured meat" to attain "the smell of breakfast cooking in your pants." Want some? They're $19.99 a pair at www.baconunderwear.com. All of this is for real, by the way. This is a blog! Could I say it if it weren't true?

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

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November 26, 2015

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

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


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

WITH APPRECIATION FOR MY READER FAMILY, A THANKSGIVING DAY COLUMN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Don’t sweat the small stuff — appreciate it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Happy Thanksgiving, all!

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

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

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September 23, 2015

Heat's immediate future rated as bright; plus NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos updates, R.I.P. Yogi Berra, Dolphins' 1st 5 on 50th all-time team, newest in Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Fins' biggest problem, SOPY Week 3 standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. R.I.P., Yogi Berra, 90. [Insert malaprop]. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, which are even sadder than you might have imagined. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose at Jacksonville with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, The Hot List & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Ndamukong Suh column: In my latest column I explore the early heat finding Dolphins megamillionaire Ndamukonh Suh. Click on There Are Greater Concerns. The heat is misplaced. Suh's had two quiet games, but Miami has greater problems at 1-1, such as a disappearing ground game, shaky-at-times defense overall and bonehead penalties. Oh, and a brutal divison. New England we know, Buffalo proved Sunday it can play with the Patriots, then, Monday night, the New York Jets' defense dominated Andrew Luck. Better play from Suh had better be just the start of all the getting-better the Dolphins do.

HEAT RANKED 6TH IN NBA 'FUTURE POWER RANKINGS': ESPN's latest annual Future Power Rankings, a guesstimate projection of how each NBA team will fare on the court over the next three seasons, has 1aa1aheat1516Miami at No. 6 (up from ninth a year ago), trailing only Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland, Chicago and Houston. The Worldwide Leader's synopsis of Miami: "The Heat face a fascinating next 12 months. Miami has just four players under guaranteed contract beyond this season: guard Goran Dragic and forwards Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and (rookie) Justise Winslow. The Heat could clear significant cap space next summer -- or be completely capped out by re-signing unrestricted free agents Dwayne Wade and Hassan Whiteside. (Dragic and Wade are pictured). Whiteside presents a particularly thorny issue. The Heat will only have Whiteside's Early Bird rights, meaning Miami will have to dip into its cap space to re-sign him for more than the mid-level exception. Then again, Whiteside could regress and not be worth even that. We wouldn't trust everyone to manage an aging roster with so many question marks, but Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have earned the benefit of the doubt. And South Beach will always be a draw for players like Dragic, who left money on the table to re-sign this summer." Miami opens its 2015-16 pre-season with media day this coming Monday, following by training camp at FAU in Boca Raton.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2: We update you briefly every week on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Pix: Rough 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosweek: Stumbled at 7-9 overall with a slight bump to 8-8 against the spread. Called outright upsets by Broncos and Browns and had two other 'dogs-with-points in Redskins and Cowboys but not enough else went right. Lobos / family league: Tough loss: The original Lobos scored OK but lost 142-123 to fall to 1-1, despite 28 points from Odell Beckham, 27 from Torrey Smith and 19 from Adrian Peterson. Drew Brees (12) is letting me down and now banged up. Lobos / radio-show league: Ugh. Ouch: The new Lobos lost 111.8-93.1, dropping to 0-2. Got 28.7 from Emmanuel Sanders and then a whole lotta nuthin. Still  might have pulled it out Monday with a big game by Andrew Luck, but you saw how that went.

DOLPHINS ANNOUNCE FIRST 5 ON 50TH ALL-TIME TEAM: The Dolphins are gradually announcing their Top 50 all-time players in conjunction with this season's Golden Anniversary, and the first five announced today are safety Dick Anderson, receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, receiver O.J. McDuffie and safety Jake Scott. The "Marks Brothers" and safety tandem are no-brainers. McDuffie I think is deserving but wasn't, for me, the sure thing the other four were. The 50 were selected by fans, team alumni, local media and a "select blue ribbon panel." Five on the team will be announced each week starting with this. The entire team will be honored on the Dec. 14 home game vs. the Giants.

FLORIDA SPORTS HALL OF FAME ADDS NINE: The 54-year-old Florida Sports Hall of Fame will add nine new members, announced this week, in a Nov. 17 ceremony at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, (incredibly) the first time the group has held an induction in South Florida. Newest hall members alphabetically are: Longtime UM diving coach Randy Abelman, Ex-Hurricanes football star Bennie Blades, bowling hall of famer Paula Carter, "Mr. Marlin" Jeff Conine, former champion Bucs coach Tony Dungy, the late broadcaster Sonny Hirsch, the jai-alai champion Joey (Cornblit), Dolphins legend Zach Thomas and one-time Panthers goaltender John Vanbeisbrouck.

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH VAULTS TO NO. 1: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State 1aa1asopy 1aa1aalexmcgOffensive Player of the Year -- are underway and FIU quarterback Alex McGough (pictured) is our new Week 3 leader. SOPY does not discriminate. The smaller-school guys have a chance! Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 for Week 3:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 3

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W3        Season

1 (2)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         216       536.5

2 (1)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             57         522

3 (3)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       136        445

4 (9)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           192.5    434.5

5 (4)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb    127       391

6 (10)        Will Grier, Florida-qb           129.5     370 

7 (5)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb             75        338

8t (--)        Alex Gardner, rb-FIU             93        318

8t (3)        Everett Golson, FSU-qb         70.5       318

10 (--)       Marlon Mack, rb-SoFla           78         313

Bubble: Thomas Owens, wr-FIU, 304. Other team leader: Jordan Akins, UCF-wr, 164. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: All teams 2 games each. Past SOPY champions: 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb.

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

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

August 27, 2015

Who's the 2015 Athlete of the Year? 4 finalists. New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins optimism, dissing Larry Csonka, latest NFL playoff odds, Ashley Madison and ESPN, Greg's Lobos news & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 27. R.I.P. to the TV reporter and cameraman murdered yesterday in Virginia. So awful and senseless. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Prediction Machine's rosy Dolphins outlook, my fantasy draft annual poll, Schnellenberger sabotage continues, note to anti-government crowd & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Optimism surrounding Dolphins is well-founded: That is the theme of today's latest column by me. A new computer projection by PredictionMachine.com has Miami with a better than 50 percent likelihood to win 13 of its 16 games, further augmenting a sense of confidence among fans. Click on Dolphins, Rising to read the column in full. PredictionMachine's Paul Bessire elaborated to us today in an email: "The Dolphins currently rank fifth in our Power Rankings and are favored in 13 of 16 games. That’s the good -– if not great -– news for Dolphins fans. The most reasonable expectation, though, is a nine-win season and a wild card [playoff] berth with a better than 50 percent chance to make the playoffs. Given that the Dolphins play at a fast pace, tend to make critical mistakes and have so many young or new pieces, they are one of the most volatile teams in the league."

1aa1ashoeFunny joke: A friend thought I'd enjoy this recent Shoe comic strip. He was right. First woman: "So, tell me about this Shoe fellow you're dating." Second woman: "Well, he's a journalist. He's been married five times. He smokes, he's cheap, he's selfish, he uses foul language, he drinks way too much, and I'm not sure he's faithful." First woman: "Oh, you poor dear. He's a journalist?!"

FRAMING THE RACE FOR 2015 AMERICAN ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Our friend Christine Brennan, the very good USA Today columnist, inspires this poll with her latest column framing the 2015 Athlete of the Year race. (Click here to read). Her four finalists are hard to argue, probably all deserving, and an 1aa1aathleteyearinteresting mix of two individual-sport stars, a team and a horse. American Pharoah ended thoroughbred racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought. Golfer Jordan Spieth, at 21 turning 22, won two major championships and nearly won the other two. The U.S. women's soccer team won its first World Cup title since 1999. And tennis star Serena Williams is going for her fifth consecutive major and the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam in 27 years as the U.S. Open begins on Monday. Brennan writes, "If Serena wins the Open, becoming the first woman or man to win the Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, she would be my choice as sportsperson of the year. She would not only have won all four majors in the same year, she also would have tied Graf for the most Grand Slam titles won by a tennis player, male or female, in the Open era, with 22." I tend to agree. But I'm curious what the rest of you think right now. This has been a year when no major team-sport star (such as NBA MVP Steph Curry) has risen to the level of extraordinary accomplishment that these four have: Serena, dominating. Spieth, the phenom with the breakout year. Pharoah and U.S. women's soccer, both making history. Now pick just one. Hey, nobody said this was easy.

DEAR HBO AND BALLERS: SPELL-CHECK, PLEASE?: I watch HBO's Ballers, the Dwayne Johnson/football
vehicle that just ended its first season and got renewed, mainly because it is set in Miami and based 1aa1acsonka(without approval) on the Dolphins. There are cameos by guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Birdman Andersen, which is kind of neat. The acting is sort of lame and the writing cliched; I only watch because of the local angle. Anyway, Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka -- that's C-S-O-N-K-A -- has a recurring minor role as a gruff Dolphins assistant coach. Pictured right is a screen grab of the closing credits from the season finale. Dear HBO: How do you misspell the last name of a famous football player who stars in your own bleepin' show!? Jesus.

LATEST DOLPHINS/NFL PLAYOFF ODDS: Updated today, courtesy Bovada, with New England currently off-the-board due to Tom Brady suspension flux. Top five most likely playoff teams overall are Seahawks (1-8), Colts (1-6), Packers (2-11), Broncos (1-3) and Cowboys (4-7), though Pats would be in that group. AFC odds (including the Pats) find Miami tied for seventh at 6-5 in jockeying for six spots, meaning odds see Fins just past the far edge of being playoff-caliber. AFC East odds are Pats (off), Dolphins (6-5), Bills (7-4) and Jets (7-2).

ON ESPN AND THE HACK OF ASHLEY MADISON: The lovable muckrakers over at Deadspin report today that, of the millions of Ashley Madison users exposed when the infidelity website was hacked, at least 39
1aa1aashleymaccounts were registered with ESPN email addresses. (Click here for the story). No names are named. Yet. Deadspin reports around 100 ESPN employees may be involved (about 20 percent of them women) based on former or current ESPN-related IP addresses. Look for ESPN folks on the air today who seem to be unusually nervous, distracted or sweating profusely. Although in fairness Chris Berman tends to sweat profusely at all times, so that may not mean anything or be incriminating. I rule out LeBatard; he isn't married. In all seriousness, which is dumber: Needing the help of a website to cheat on your spouse? Doing it with a work email? Or doing it with a work email if you happen to be on TV and sort of famous? This story needs one of those triangular yellow road signs: EMBARRASSING FALLOUT AHEAD.

1aa1alobosGREG'S LOBOS -- THAT'S ME! -- WINS FANTASY POLL: I swear it wasn't rigged. It was a blind poll. You voted not knowing who ran what team; you voted simply based on each team's top four draft picks in our 10-team friends 'n family league. The results, with each team's top pick, and the owner:

 

12.2%:
 
5.1%: Team 1 ( 
 
 
2.4%: Team 5 (Antonio Brown). My older son, Christopher, who some may know as "Fat Chris" from the LeBatard Show even though he isn't fat.
 
1.7%: 
 
1.7%: 
 
1.0%: 

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