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%.

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

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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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July 27, 2015

Harvard (yes, Harvard) says Dolphins will make Super Bowl; plus Zoran Dragic, latest Hot Button Top 10 with Fins, Marlins, Heat, Canes, Cooperstown, Froome, Cowherd, soccer, Pan Am; also Stanton-Tannehill and Cosby-O.J. verdicts & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 27. Heat today reportedly have traded Zoran Dragic to Boston -- with the blessing of brother Goran. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's Next poll (Stanton vs. Tannehill), Al Golden's Kumbaya Manifesto, Dolphins among Top 100 players, Fall From Grace poll, U.S. men's shame, Weighing The Fish & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Sunday at Cooperstown: It was one of baseball's most illustrious inductions days. ICYMI, click here to see the four plaques, hear the tribute videos and watch the induction speeches.

HARVARD STUDY FORECASTS DOLPHINS IN SUPER BOWL. NO, SERIOUSLY: OK, Dolfans. You wanted a foundation (I mean beyond the law of averages) for your optimism about this coming season? You got it. 1aa1asb50A study by the brainiacs at Harvard University forecasts a Seattle-Miami Super Bowl. This is via the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, a student-run organization "dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management." In this study, researcher Kurt Bullard used Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, the site’s measure of comparing individual talent. Then Bullard, using ESPN’s NFL depth charts, aggregated each team’s per-game Approximate Value of what he judged the "core" makeup of a team: QB, RB, 2 WR, TE, top 2 OL, top 4 "front seven" defenders and top 2 players from secondary. Click here for details of the study and the complete list of how teams ranked. The study lists AFC East playoff likelihood as Dolphins 77 percent, Patriots 62%, Jets 56% and Bills 43%. Here are the study's projected eight AFC and NFC playoff teams based on overall ratings:

AFC: Dolphins 145 points, Chiefs 142, Patriots 141, Broncos 137, Jets 134, Colts 133, Bills 133, Steelers 132. NFC: Seahawks 166, Packers 154, Lions 136, Giants 126, Eagles 125, Cowboys 123, Falcons 120, Saints and Cardinals (tried) 119.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): 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: Fins open training camp in three days: Team assembles on Wednesday and practices for first time on Thursday as lid lifts on club's 50th anniversary season. Joe Philbin will remind players they're there to win a championship. Um, yeah so will 31 other NFL head coaches. Question is whether Miami will be among the handful that actually might.

2. MARLINS: Fish return home (finally!) as trade deadline looms: Off a 3-7 road grind, Marlins are back Tuesday vs. Nationals with Jose Fernandez pitching, Miami's first home game in 16 days. Meantime team traded defrocked closer Steve Cishek to Cards for a minor-leaguer with more deals likely before July 31 deadline. In other words, there's 60-plus games left, but season is over,

3. HURRICANES: UM sees "accountability" as football nears: Al Golden is talking up intangibles like accountability and leadership as UM nears Aug. 6 start of practice. "One heartbeat," he says. Call it Camp Kumbaya. Now if Canes can just replace Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman and four other NFL draftees, they might be OK.

4. BASEBALL: Pitchers lead incoming Hall of Fame class: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, who combined for 735 wins, joined Craig Biggio in the latest Hall of Fame induction class Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y. Johnson stood out. The 10-time All-Star won 303 games, struck out 4,875 and is sport's all-time career leader in mullets.

5. HEAT: Miami trades Napier to Magic: Heat yesterday dealt second-year guard Shabazz Napier to Orlando Magic for a second-round draft pick. Miami would have much preferred Magic take Mario Chalmers (and his salary). Chalmers and/or Birdman Andersen may yet be traded. 

6. CYCLING: Froome zooms to Tour de France victory: Great Britain's Chris Froome won his second Tour de France in the 102nd running of the event beset by recent doping scandals. How boring. Why couldn't the upset winner have been some 9-year-old kid riding a beat-up Schwinn with baseball cards flapping in the spokes?

7. COLIN COWHERD: ESPN removes radio host over comments: ESPN booted radio host Colin Cowherd from its air after widespread criticism met his suggestion that Dominican baseball players lacked intelligence. Maybe Cowherd saw that making idiotic, insulting statements seemed to be working for Donald Trump and thought he’d give it a try, too!

8. BASEBALL: Hamels tosses no-hitter as pitchers steal season spotlight: Phillies' Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs Saturday, surely boosting his trade value. Meantime Dodgers aces Zack Greinke (43 2/3) and Clayton Kershaw (29) entered the weekend with 72 2/3 combined shutout innings in a row, though Greinke's streak ended Sunday at 45 2/3. Batters, ya'll need some Viagra for those bats! (Well, except Alex Rodriguez, who hit three homers Saturday).

9. GOLF: It's 'The American Year' on PGA Tour: Zach Johnson's British Open win last Monday, following Jordan Spieth's Masters and U.S. Open triumphs, means 2015 could be the first year since 1982 that U.S. golfers win all four majors. Too bad this sport and its “Quiet Please” signs frown upon a good, loud “U.S.A!” chant.

10. SOCCER: No U.S., but there was Gold Cup final, anyway: Philadelphia hosted Mexico's 3-1 win over Jamaica in CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer final last night -- hardly the championship match expected. Jamaica stunned the U.S in one semifinal and Mexico lucked to beat Panama in the other thanks to outrageous penalty-kick calls.

Missing the HB10 cut: U.S. won medals count as Pan American Games ended Sunday in Toronto. Pan Am Games are best known for drinking heavily and undergoing years of therapy from being lost in shadow of the bigger, more prestigious Olympic Games. ..... Pro Football Hall of Fame, in apparent effort to make itself seem heartless and small, refuses to let Junior Seau's family speak at next month’s posthumous induction ..... Wednesday is “Writers Night” at Marlins Park, with contest-winning fans watching game in company of Miami Herald sportswriters. One person will then be chosen for Grand Prize: Getting to ditch the writers and return to his regular seat ..... Annual WNBA All-Star Game was Saturday and MLS all-stars play Wednesday. Still intact: My incredible personal record of having never watched a single second of either. ..... U.S. Department of Justice drops 10-year investigation of Barry Bonds with no ultimate conviction. Hmm. Why do people keep saying the government wastes so much money?

Poll result: Stanton beats Tannehill for top-tier potential: We asked whether Giancarlo Stanton or Ryan Tannehill was more likely, 10 years from now, to be considered in Dan Marino/Dwyane Wade territory as an all-time great, beloved Miami sports star, and the Marlins slugger beat the Dolphins quarterback by 54.7 percent to 45.3%.

Poll result: O.J. edges Cosby for biggest fall from grace: It was one of the closest results we've ever seen. We asked whether Bill Cosby or O.J. Simpson had the bigger, more notorious fall from grace, and the dubious "winner" was O.J. with 51.5 percent to Cosby's 48.5%.

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July 19, 2015

What's our enthusiasm level for MLS soccer in Miami? Poll Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Beckham, Marlins, British Open, Canes unis, Heat, Gold Cup, Dolphins, urine; also Dwyane Wade wine, Big 5-optimism verdict & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 20. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS in Miami moves closer, Big 5 optimism poll, R.I.P. Bill Arnsparger, Dolphin's brush with homelessness, Marlins resume, ESPY review, UM's jersey policy, Heat-expectations verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope. (Our followers on Twitter get automatic Periscope alerts).

Royals new WS faves: Kansas City Royals are new World Series frontunners at 6-1 odds, via Bovada's latest line. Cardinals and Nationals are next at 8-1, then Dodgers at 17-2. Marlins' 150-1 odds are tied for fourth-longest.

1aa1awadewineDwyane Wade, vinter: Heat star Dwyane Wade now has his own wine label, as seen in the photo here of the reds he posted on Instagram. I do not yet have a proper review of the Wade wine. I'm guessing it has subtle notes and aroma of oak, blackberry and a late-career athlete trying to capitalize on his name while he still can. D.Wade also has his own signature fashion line of designer bowties and men's socks, of course. Diversifying one's business interests is key. Hopefully for Heat fans, the Wade portfolio also includes another season (or more) of elite play.

HOW ENTHUSIASTIC ARE WE ABOUT MLS SOCCER IN MIAMI?: Soccer tends to be a polarizing sport in
America, still. Millions embrace and love it; it has grown far beyond a curiosity or niche sport. Yet many 1aa1amiamlsothers steadfastly want little or nothing to do with it and see it as an acquired taste not for them. I think diverse Miami and South Florida are far more likely than most regions to embrace Major League Soccer, but I've been wrong before so I want to take the pulse. David Beckham's investment group and the city of Miami settling on a stadium site (the old Orange Bowl grounds near Marlins Park) makes it more likely than ever that Miami's MLS franchise is real and will begin play in 2018. So, how enthusiastic are we? Does the "Miami Is Ready" declarative in the illustration here need a question mark? Take a dip in our poll, express your feelings and drop us a comment to say why you feel as you do.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): 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. SOCCER: Miami, Beckham agree on MLS stadium site: David Beckham's investment group once referred to the former Orange Bowl site near Marlins Park as "spiritually tainted." Now, apparently it's "realistically feasible" after attempts at a waterfront stadium proved fruitless. The two applicable to the new stadium that are most important to taxpayers: "Privately funded." 

2. MARLINS: Injury-wracked Fish resume (badly) on long road trip: The semi-Marlins -- still missing injured stars Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Henderson Alvarez -- are back from All-Star Game break and in midst of 10-game road trip, starting 0-3 at hapless Philly. Team is on season-long 16-day gap between home games, but, given the way this season has gone, that's probably not a bad thing. 

3. GOLF: Johnson wins British Open; Spieth just short: The year's third major will ended on a Monday for first time since 1988, with Zach Johnson winning and Jordan Spieth one stroke off making the three-man playoff. The British was missing its defending champion Rory McIlroy to injury, and its shot at history as the Grand Slam-seeking Masters and U.S. Open champ Spieth was denied. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods missed the cut. Or, did that go without saying? 

4. HURRICANES: (So what!) UM unveils new football uniforms: Adidas threw an invitation-only VIP party on South Beach Saturday night to unveil its new University of Miami football uniforms, and nobody cared except Adidas executives, UM accountants and that segment of Canes fans way too worried about sartorial splendor. "Looking good" means playing well, Canes, not what you wear.

5. HEAT: Team wraps up summer league, mulls trades: Heat's youth squad finished a combined 6-4 in Orlando and Las Vegas summer-league play as club mulled trading Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen in salary cap moves. Meantime Chris Bosh called retooled Miami "on the verge of being an elite team. (Um, a lot of that depends on an elite you, Mr. Bosh). 

6. SOCCER: U.S. pounds Cuba, reaches Gold Cup semis: U.S. men ripped Cuba 6-0 Saturday to reach semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament and next face Jamaica on Wednesday. No surprise. I don't wanna say Cuba's expectations in the tournament were modest, but the big aim was having more goals than political defectors.

7. DOLPHINS: Countdown 10 days 'til start of training camp: It is almost time, Dolfans. It is almost time for experience the encroaching gloom of past disappointments and begin anxiously second-guessing your fragile optimism.   

8. CYCLING: Tour de France down to final week: Leader Chris Froome said a spectator yelled "Doper!" before throwing a cup of urine on him. I apologize. I don't know what got into me.   

9. BILL ARNSPARGER: Dolphins coaching icon passes away: Arnsparger, architect of the Super Bowl-winning "No-Name " defense and later the "Killer B's," died at 88. Among all coaches only Don Shula himself had a greater impact on Dolphins history.

10. THE ESPYS: ESPN stages annual salute to itself: Highlight: Caitlyn Jenner's speech. Lowlight: LeBron James winning the "Best Championship Moment" ESPY even though he didn't win a championship. "Yeah that makes sense," said snubbed American Pharoah.

Missing the HB10 cut: ACC Football Kickoff, annual three-day media event, starts Sunday. All-Star Game draws record-low TV rating. Exodus of ESPN stars. Conor McGregor lights up UFC. Cooperstown prepares for Hall of Fame weekend. And UM to limit football jersey sales each year to only Nos. 1 and the year (15 this season), the worst idea since New Coke.

Poll result: Heat, Dolphins make biggest leap in fan optimism: We asked which of our Big 5 sports teams are earning the most fan optimism right now, and the Heat and Dolphins are the big winners. The results now compared to the same poll back in February:

Team               Now        Feb.        +/-

Heat               49.1%      24.5%      +24.6

Dolphins        32.3%      14.1%      +18.2

UM football     9.0%      13.1%      - 4.1

Panthers           7.0%        5.4%      + 1.6

Marlins            2.6%       42.9%      -40.3

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July 15, 2015

Where Miami teams rank among world's 50 most valuable franchises; plus Heat-expectations poll, LeBatard auction, Giancarlo Stanton's new PSA, baseball hits home run with Derby, chicken wings 'n pizza have a baby & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 15. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Good and bad on Tannehill ranking, Hot Button Top 10, Trump and Pierre-Paul verdicts & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too. Join us on Twitter for Periscope alerts. (We have a new 'Scope from yesterday's radio show. Watch soon. It disappears around 5:30 p.m. today).

'Peytom Branning': If Tom Brady and Peyton Manning morphed into each other: Click here for the gif.

Florida: "We're No. 10!": Recent national poll by market research group YouGov found Florida the 10th-most liked state in the U.S. (Are we bragging or complaining?) First: Hawaii. Dead last: New Jersey.

DOLPHINS BEAT HEAT ON MOST-VALUABLE-FRANCHISE LIST: List-mad Forbes has come out with its annual list of the world's Top 50 most valuable sports franchises for 2015, and two Miami clubs (the ones 1aa1amoneysportsyou'd expect) make it, albeit modestly. The Dolphins tie for 37th valued at $1.3 billion, and the Heat are 47th at $1.18 billion. The worldwide Top 10, with all figures in billions: 1. Real Madrid 3.26; 2. tie, Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees both 3.2; 4. Barcelona 3.16; 5. Manchester United 3.1; 6. tie, Los Angeles Lakers and New England Patriots both 2.6; 8. New York Knicks 2.5; 9. tie, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Redskins both 2.4. Rounding out the U.S. Top 10 after the Cowboys, Yankees, Lakers, Patriots, Knicks, Dodgers and Redskins are the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants (tied 12th at 2.1) and the Chicago Bulls and San Francisco Giants (tied 14th at 2.0).

MOTIVATED MAN: RILEY'S BIG SUMMER TURNS AROUND HEAT: A non-playoff team last season might now be the biggest NBA East challenger to LeBron James and Cleveland. That's what Pat Riley's big summer has 1aa1aheattwodone for the Miami Heat. Click on Motivated Man for our latest column. In a flurry the Heat drafted Duke's Justise Winslow, locked up point guard Goran Dragic for five years, kept Dwyane Wade, kept Luol Deng, and brought in big man Amar'e Stoudemire and 3-point guy Gerald Green at bargain rates. Mix in Chris Bosh' return to health, an ascending Hassan Whiteside and a healthy Josh McRoberts. That's an impressive nine-man depth. Riley has had is best offseason since 2010 and clearly is driven to topple LeBron James and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. Will he? Now that the draft is past and free agency is (mostly) over, it's time to set the bar on Heat expectations for the coming season. Don't vote what you hope happens; vote what you honestly think most realistically will happen. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

LEBATARD/ESPN AUCTION: LAST DAY!: Today is last day to submit bids in ESPN's ESPY Auction 1aa1adanbenefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research. An item that may be of special interest to South Floridians is a "Miami Heat Experience With Dan LeBatard and Stugotz." Winning bidder gets to watch an upcoming Heat game with Dan and Stu and also observe a taping of Highly Questionable and the radio show, along with other goodies. High bid was $4,110 when last I looked. Click here to access the auction (being done on eBay) and search Le Batard's name.

BASEBALL HITS A HOME RUN: Baseball got it right. Did it right. Monday's 30th annual Home Run Derby,
1aa1aderbyprecursor to last night's 86th All-Star Game, was pretty close to fantastic. I thought it upstaged the ASG, won 6-3 by the AL. After constant tinkering with the Derby format and an awful, boring show a year ago, MLB is preening and should be. Love the new format: eight players head-to-head, bracket style, with a time limit. The pace stayed fast, and guys were free-swinging, not worried about making outs. That the Reds' Todd Frazier won it, in Cincinnati, capped a storybook night. For an event that's all show and means nothing, really, it  was close to thrilling. The final eight suffered from the absence of the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (injured) and Nationals' Bryce Harper (choice) -- I think Stanton would have been the favorite -- but it was great stuff just the same.

Derby a hit with viewers: Via Nielsen, the Home Run Derby on ESPN drew a final 4.2 rating, up 24 percent from 2014, despite Chris Berman's hair. It was best HRD rating since 2009.

GIANCARLO STANTON'S NEW PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: MLB teamed up with the group Volunteers of America beginning in 2003 on an "Action Team" project, called a "national youth volunteer program." It is meant to encourage high-school age kids to get involved in helping those less fortunate in their communities. The latest public-service ad debuted during last night's All-Star Game, featuring the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (another sign of his rising public profile) and Yankees pitcher Chris Capuano. Click on Volunteers of America for more info. Here is the full 60-second PSA:

   

Stanton in Cooperstown: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's early-career trajectory suggests he might make the Hall of Fame someday -- if he stays healthy -- but did you know Stanton already is represented in Cooperstown with two artifacts in the Hall's permanent collection? They are: Batting helmet he wore Sept. 28, 2011 in Marlins’ final home game at Sun Life Stadium, and spikes worn Sept. 29, 2013 when Stanton scored the game's only run, on a wild pitch in bottom of ninth, to seal no-hitter of Henderson Alvarez.


1aa1achickenpizzaIF CHICKEN WINGS AND PIZZA HAD A BABY...:
They are calling it "Napoli Crispy Pizza Chicken" and it is currently being test-marketed at KFC locations in Hong Kong, which suggests the menu item may soon reach America if it goes over in the Kong. How could it not!? It's the marriage of chicken wings and pizza for God's sake! I just cold-called a random stranger in Kowloon to see how the dish is but he spoke Cantonese so I couldn't understand what he said. The Colonel would be proud. Or mortified, perhaps? 

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July 06, 2015

"Let's gooooo States!" The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): U.S. wins World Cup, D.Wade, Jose, Serena, Fins, Chile, Aldridge, cycling, Cats and dogs; plus Marlins All-Stars, 'Body' nude, LeBatard & more

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

1aa1aflagme1) It is MONDAY, JULY 6. Hope y'all had a safe and fun Fourth of July and long holiday weekend. Happy 239th, America! Pictured is a photo I posted on Instagram of the flag in my yard as fireworks boomed over my neighborhood. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane vs. Jose poll, Confederate fag result & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

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

"Let's gooooo States!" U.S. clubbed Japan 5-2 last night in Canada to convincingly win the Women's World Cup -- USA's third championship and first since 1999. Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and the Americans were favored and delivered, and of course as a ("U-S-A!") journalist I was a perfectly ("U-S-A!") neutral observer. "Let's gooooo States!"

1aa1agymnastESPN 'Body' issue: It's out in the magazine and online, ESPN's annual gratuitous platform allowing naturally narcissistic athletes to be even more narcissistic by showing us that their wonderful athleticism is a tribute to their even more wonderful bodies. Pictured right: Gymnast Aly Raisman, until my editors tell me to take the pic down, which I'm sure they wouldn't since it's, like, you know, all over ESPN.

Marlins All-Stars: All-Star Game starters based on fan voting were announced on ESPN last night, and as expected the Marlins' Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton made it, Gordon leading NL second basemen in voting and Stanton (though he's injured and won't play) finishing second among NL outfielders. The Marlins previously had only two players voted to start the ASG: Gary Sheffield (3B, 1993) and Hanley Ramirez (SS, 2008-10). Reserves will be announced tonight.

LeBatard cameo on 'Ballers': Dan LeBatard had a small speaking role on HBO's Miami-based Ballers series last night, seen wearing a 'Miami' cap, smoking a cigar and asking Dwyane Johnson what his end-game was. I loved his appearance, mostly because now so I can make fun of him on the radio Tuesday.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): 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:

1. SOCCER: U.S. beats Japan, wins Women’s World Cup: Four years ago Japan beat the United States on penalty kicks in the championship match. Last night, the U.S. sought its revenge and resoundingly got it with a 5-2 rout in a WWC final rematch in Canada -- led by Carli Lloyd's three goals. This is where I’d drop in a quick Pearl Harbor reference, but that might be seen as politically incorrect so I'd better not.

1aa1ahotbutton2. HEAT: Wade re-signs with Miami, but for only one year: Huge week for Heat with Luol Deng staying, Goran Dragic signing long-term, Michael Beasley cut, Justise Winslow starring as Heat summer-league team opened play, plus that pointless pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge. But of course the biggest new was Dwyane Wade re-upping. Call  it drama, delayed. Won’t the Heat and Wade be doing this same contract dance a year from now? That’s what a one-year deal gives you. No complaint, though. A starting lineup of Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh, Deng, Dragic and Wade can win. (Had better, anyway!)

3. MARLINS: Fernandez makes winning return after year’s absence: It had been more than a year — 419 days — since Jose Fernandez last pitched before his triumphant comeback Thursday. He improved to 13-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Marlins Park. Isn’t there some way to convince him that every time he pitches it’s a home game? Hypnosis, perhaps?

4. TENNIS: Serena survives scare as Wimbledon, faces sister next: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams seem championship-bound as Wimbledon begins its second week. Serena survived an upset bid by Heather Watson on Friday but must now face sister Venus today/Monday. Meanwhile this was the fourth Wimbledon in a row in which Rafael Nadal has been ousted early and ingloriously. Might be time to bring back the Capri pants.

5. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule: The Dolphins announced their historic 50th anniversary season would begin July 30 with the official start of preseason training camp, two weeks of practices segueing into the first exhibition game. Anniversaries less impressive than the 50th include this being the 42nd season since their last Super Bowl.

6. SOCCER: Chile upset winner in Copa America: Beating Argentina on penalty kicks to win Copa America marked Chile's biggest international title ever. Finally, a message to Brazil and Argentina that South America has other teams, too.

7. NBA: LaMarcus Aldridge to Spurs: San Antonio bags NBA's No. 1 actually-might-leave-his team free agent with power forward Aldridge leaving Portland. Heat's Pat Riley had flown to L.A. to meet with Aldridge, the Godfather's biggest wasted trip since that meeting with LeBron James a year ago.

8. CYCLING: Tour de France gets underway: Still going despite all of its various doping scandals, the latest Tour de Fraud France has begun. It must be so difficult for those cyclists to peddle up mountains while simultaneously providing urine samples.

9. PANTHERS: Cats stage four-day developmental camp: It was for recent draftees and other first-year players and included “team building” activities such as a beach outing and a Marlins game. Hmm. I’d rather my team win but not get along than lose and sing Kumbaya.

10. HOT DOGS: Annual gorging contest held on Coney Island: Answer: I would sooner watch vultures disemboweling maggot-covered carrion in a roadside ditch. Question: Did you watch Saturday’s annual hot dog-eating contest? Dear "competitive eating" fad: You were cute for a while. Go away, please.

Missing the HB10 cut: Golf, Doral standing behind Donald Trump, for now. Dan LeBatard cameo on HBO's Ballers tonight. Strikers lose to Boca Juniors. Brett Favre, 45, says he could still play. ESPN Body issue out today/Monday as our most narcissistic athletes celebrate themselves.

Poll result: Dwyane edges Jose for biggest story: Admittedly it was an apples-and-oranges question that (predictably) caused a smallish response, but we asked it anyway, and Dwyane Wade re-upping with the Heat was judged a bigger story than Jose Fernandez's comeback game by 59.2 percent to 40.8%.

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