June 11, 2016

A brutal appraisal of Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill: Fair or out-of-bounds? Poll. Vote now!; plus quick hits (updated) on Sharapova, LeBron, Fish, Steeltown, MLB Draft; also, when Ali met Marino, Forbes' rich-athletes list, verdict on Ali v. Jordan & more

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

Alimarino1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 11. Headed down to Canes baseball today to see if UM can beat Boston College again and advance to the College World Series. 2) Miami sports icons: The Louisville memorial service for Muhammad Ali was yesterday. Pictured right: the time Ali and Dan Marino posed playfully as if about to fight. Based on appearance of both, I'd estimate the photo as late-'80s. Click on image to see it larger. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking Ali among century's greatest athletes poll, Cassius Clay music video, R.I.P. Kimbo Slice, D.Wade in bed, the wonder of Jose, Game of Thrones, Crisis of Character & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 5: My five most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: LeBron Wants More Than Title From Finals, the latest, on LeBron James angling to take back best-player crown from Steph Curry. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Ali set template for individuality in 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. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional.

"Oh. Well then. If former NBA career scrub Brian Scalabrine says he wouldn't be shocked if Kevin Durant signed with Miami, I guess we can start the party now!" --Greg Cote

RtannyCBS SPORTS' BRUTAL APPRAISAL OF TANNEHILL: FAIR OR OUT-OF-BOUNDS?: CBS Sports NFL writer Jason LaCanfora this week ranks all 32 starting quarterbacks and divides them into seven "tiers," with Miami's Ryan Tannehill's ranked in the sixth tier entitled, 'Good Luck With These Guys.' The seventh tier is an "incomplete" on the two rookie starters, so, in effect, Tannehill is lumped on the bottom rung of starters, along with the likes of Tyrod Taylor and Blaine Gabbert. Seems harsh to me. Clearly, you wouldn't place Tannehill in tiers 1 (Bona Fide Franchise QBs) or 2 (Top Pros, Proven Winners). But, arguably, he might have belonged somewhere in tiers 3 (Rising Stars) or 4 (Guys That Can be Winning QBs). Instead LaCanfora ranks Tannehill as no better than 25th of 32 starting QBs, and writes, "Not sure he is going to be Adam Gase's cup of tea. He doesn't make big-boy reads or throws and is very limited downfield. Still looks pretty rudimentary to me." (Click here to see LaCanfora's full story and list). Curious how you feel about the largely negative appraisal of Tannehill as he enters his fifth season, approaching age 28 and still looking for his first playoff berth. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do?

QUICK HITS: ON SHARAPOVA'S PUNISHMENT, NBA FINALS, MARLINS, STANLEY CUP, MLB DRAFT: Let's be fast with this, rat-a-tat-tat...

Sharapova: She's right. Her 2-year ban is harsh: No doubt it is the responsibility of athletes -- and their doctors -- to be aware of what substances are on a banned list that marks them as PEDs. But the punishers must put violations in context. In this case Maria Sharapova for many years was prescribed meldonium, a drug said to boost oxygen and blood flow, because of a family history of heart issues. It did not go on the banned-substance list (and become tennis-"illegal") until Jan. 1, after which she tested positive and immediately stopped using it. Sharapova, 29, is appealing the two-year suspension as "unfairly harsh." She's right. Six months or the next two majors seems closer to fair.

NBA Finals: Warriors still winning, but LeBron-Curry percolates: Golden State is up 3-1 after last night's win in Cleveland, with a chance to put it away at home Monday night. But the series within the series -- LeBron James vs. Steph Curry -- is closer, and has been fascinating, with King James seemingly determined to take back the crown (NBA's Best Player) snatched from him by Steph. James is averaging 24.8 points in the four games. Curry is at 21.5 after popping 38 last night. Click on LeBron Wants More Than Title From Finals to read my latest column.

Marlins: Call to the bullpen means uh-oh: Fish won a second straight last night but bullpen has been off lately. It's weird, because closer A.J. Ramos has converted 28 consecutive save opportunities. It's everybody else who stinks. Giancarlo Stanton's funk is hurting Miami, but relief pitching is hurting more. Another thing: Miami's record this season against the two worst teams is the majors (Braves, Twins) is 2-7. (But Ichiro keeps hitting!)

Stanley Cup Finals: Rooting for a city, not a team: Pittsburgh leads San Jose 3-2, with Game 6 on Sunday. Penguins can close out their fourth Cup title (1991, 1992, 2009), while San Jose is playing in its first Stanley Cup Finals in its 24th season. The latter fact would normally have me rooting for the Sharks, but I tend to root for cities when I don't care about either team, and in this case, my sensibilities are much closer to blue-collar Pittsburgh than to Silicon Valley San Jose. So, go Pens.

MLB Draft: Marlins take lefty, Canes' Zack Collins goes top-10: Baseball has never been able to package its draft to compete with the NFL's or even the NBA's for allure. Nevertheless! Marlins picked seventh overall and took Alabama high-school lefty pitcher Braxton Garrett. Hurricanes catcher Zack Collins went 10th overall to the White Sox.

FORBES' LATEST LIST OF PEOPLE MUCH RICHER THAN YOU AND I: Forbes' 2016 list of world's 100 highest-paid athletes in combined salary/winnings and endorsements finds soccer star Cristiano CristianoronaldoRonaldo (pictured) No. 1 at $88 million. Rounding out the top five: Lionel Messi 81.4M, LeBron James 77.2, Roger Federer 67.8 and Kevin Durant 56.2. Click here for full list. Heat's Dwyane Wade tops Miami athletes at No. 33 with $32 million. (Oddly, Wade, who wears No. 3, also was 33rd on ESPN's recent World Fame 100 list). Palm Beach's Serena Williams is 40th at 28.9M, Heat's Chris Bosh is 55th at 25.2 and (surprisingly) Heat's Joe Johnson is 77th at 22.9. Notable among the ex's on the list: Former Cane and Dolphin Olivier Vernon is 39th at $29 million, verifying the free-agent deal he got from the Giants makes him -- based on career accomplishment -- maybe pro sports' most overpaid athlete at the moment. Conspicuously absent from Forbes' list is Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton -- conspicuous considering he signed a 13-year, $325 million contract. Explanation: He is making "only" $9 million this season because his contract is heavily back-loaded, a reason cynics might imagine he'll be a Marlin for the next few bargain years of the deal and then perhaps be traded when the mega-bucks begin to kick in.

AliPoll result: Ali edges Jordan for greatest American athlete of 20th Century: We gave you 15 candidates (based on ESPN's SportsCentury list) and invited you to pick your top three. Based on that consensus Muhammad Ali (pictured) edged Michael Jordan for No. 1 overall by 23.06 percent to 22.12%. Those two dominated. A distant third was Babe Ruth with 8.85%, and rounding out your Mount Rushmore is Jackie Robinson with 6.84%. Also challenging for the top four with substantial support were Jim Brown (with 6.43%), Jim Thorpe (6.17%), Jesse Owens (6.03%) and Wayne Gretzky (5.63%). The next tier were Jack Nicklaus (3.08%), Willie Mays (2.68%) and Hank Aaron (2.55%). Pulling up the rear were Wilt Chamberlain (1.61%), Babe Zaharias (1.07%) and Carl Lewis and Joe Louis (both 0.94%). The remaining 2% voted "someone else."

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 14, 2016

And with eighth overall draft pick, the Dolphins select ... Mel Kiper's pick for Miami here; plus what winning Powerball would buy you in sports, CFP 2017 title odds for Canes, Fins' and Marlins' big moves, Marlins caskets & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 14. Back up at Friday Page HQ today working up my NFL Divisional Round playoff picks. Where my coin at !? 2) Goran Dragic has serious hamstring strain, will miss at least three Heat games. 3) Lawrence Phillips died in prison yesterday of an apparent suicide while serving time for the murder of a cellmate after originally being jailed for domestic abuse. He was the sixth overall pick of the 1996 NFL draft and flamed out of the league by '99. His was wasted talent, a wasted life. What a shame. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Insomniac's Dream with 'Bama-Heat-Panthers, R.I.P. David Bowie, CFP championship polls, our NFL wild-card results, your Adam Gase verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

KIPER'S FIRST '16 MOCK DRAFT: ANOTHER SHAQ IN MIAMI'S FUTURE: ESPN guru Mel Kiper is ahead of the curve today with his first NFL Mock Draft, and he has Miami selecting Clemson DE ShaqlawsonShaq Lawson (pictured) in the first round, eighth overall. The Kipe's nugget on the pick: "Lawson led college football in tackles for loss with 25.5, and Miami should add another edge rusher because Olivier Vernon is about to become extremely expensive if he can even be kept around as an unrestricted free agent. Lawson is just extremely consistent in his ability to beat tackles and makes plays." Also notable: Kiper predictably has Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (from St. Thomas Aquinas) going No. 1 overall. He has  no Canes in the first round but one Seminole (DB Jalen Ramsey, fifth overall) and one Gator (CB Vernon Hargreaves, ninth). He pegs three QBs as 1R: Cal's Jared Goff, second; Memphis' Paxton Lynch, 15th; and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz, 22nd). I can see Miami interest in Lawson. The Dolphins' specific targeted position priority may be linebacker, but that could be problematic in the '16 draft picking eighth. Two of the top three LBs (UCLA's Myles Jack, Notre Dame's Jalen Smith) are coming off major knee injuries; Kiper has Jack going 10th and Smith 20th. Another name to keep an eye on for Miami: Alabama LB Reggie Ragland.

Zamboni PowerballWHAT WINNING THE POWERBALL COULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU IN SPORTS: In today's latest column I calculate what a single winner of last night's Powerball lottery would actually have taken home in cash, and what that might have bought in the world of sports. How many major-league baseballs, how many Zamboni machines, how many Super Bowl trophies. Also, what franchises in the BIg Four sports you could have afforded to buy. Hint: There are 15. Click on Powerball and Sports to read the column.   

Um66-1BECAUSE IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLACE YOUR BETS, THAT'S WHY: Fans in Tuscaloosa haven't even sobered up yet but the betting odds are out for the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship, via Bovada. Alabam is the favroite to repeat at 7-1, a half-tick ahead of the team it just best, Clemson, at 15-2. Then it's a trio at 12-1: Baylor, Michigan and Ohio State. Looking to our peninsula, Florida State Seminoles are 10th at 16-1, Florida Gators are tied for 14th at 33-1, and Miami Hurricanes are tied for 30th at 66-1. A big-time coach hire in Mark Richt and a returning star quarterback in Brad Kaaya obviously have not raised the estimation of UM all that much, although I'd be surprised if that 66-1 didn't fall as the seasons nears.

ON DOLPHINS' AND MARLINS' BIG MOVES: Fins: Gase fills in staff: New coach Adam Gase this week completed most of his staff, notably including the hiring of defensive coordinator Vance Vancejoseph ChenJoseph, who' d been the Bengals defensive backs coach. Joseph (pictured left) has not been a coordinator before, just as Gase has not been a head coach before, so both must earn our faith. It isn't given. As I first wrote after the Gase hiring (before it apparently became trendy and was seen echoed elsewhere): "Prove you can fix all of this, and you’ll be a conquering hero. But prove it first, please, because we have been here before, seen this, done this. Another news conference proclaiming another culture. Another declaration how they got the right coach this time. Don’t tell me [again] how it’s different this time. How this is the right coach and the winning is at hand. Do it first. Win. Then talk to me." Fish: Team extends Gordon, signs Chen and two others: Wei-Yin Chen (pictured right) is a legit starter, the likely No. 2 after Jose Fernandez, leaving only 3-through-5 in the rotation to worry about (!). Edwin Jackson may get a shot to resurrect his career as a starter or appear in middle relief. Chris Johnson will be a utility guy as a corner infielder. None of these additions is a difference maker, although the Chen signing is significant. Also, extending second baseman Dee Gordon's contract by five years and $50 million is big. Gordon, NL batting champion, is one of the few things that went right for the Fish last season, and he's a cornerstone moving forward.

MarlinscasketSLIP INTO A MIAMI MARLINS CASKET: Have a loved one dying to prove for all eternity that he or she is the ultimate Marlins fan? Then here is the perfect parting gift. Yes, there are MLB-licensed caskets, and the Marlins version is pictured. For a mere $2,559 (available at Walmart, of all places), your loved one can rest in peace with a Marlins logo embossed in satin staring him or her in the face as the casket is lowered into the earth. Talk about a fitting tribute. Also buried in a Marlins casket: the team's playoff hopes, most seasons.

Poll results: You predicted Alabama, but wanted Clemson: In separate polls we asked who you predicted to win the CFP national-championship game and it was 56.2 percent Alabama. We asked who you wanted to win and it was 84.2% Clemson. Clearly, the Saban Effect at work.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 16, 2014

Wed pm 4-16: Heat isn't as good as past two years. True or False? Poll. Vote now!; plus Heat-Charlotte in 1R, scary saga of Puig, local $$$ list & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16. Panthers win lottery for No. 1 overall pick in June NHL draft. Here's betting GM Dale "Trader" Tallon swaps it. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Why No. 2 seed is better for Heat, Philbin on candid camera, Nirvana, NHL playoffs, Bubba, Pacquiao & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

Heat open playoffs vs. Charlotte here Sunday: It's Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats in first-round Game 1 here Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC-TV. No need for instant over-analysis; Miami should sweep. Be interesting though to watch Udonis Haslem's defense against Al Jefferson. Miami rest LeBron James and Chris Bosh in tonight's meaningless regular-season finale vs. Philadelphia, a loss. Recently sidelined Dwyane Wade saw limited action and looked sharp, and Greg Oden returned from injury.

DIFFERENT CHALLENGE AND DOUBT CHASING HEAT INTO PLAYOFFS: The Heat love a challenge. Love to be doubted. LeBron James says that all the time. OK, so here's the challenge and the doubt, Heat, and it's 1aa1abig3heatdifferent than in the past: Are they good enough? Simply that. Because the presumption is that this Miami team seeking a three-peat just isn't as good as the teams that won back-to-back championships. A worse regular-season record is the backbone of the presumption but there's more. Of the two big new additions, Greg Oden hasn't played much and might not at all in the postseason, and Michael Beasley has faded out of the rotation. Departed Mike Miller is sorely missed, still. Ray Allen and Shane Battier just seem older. Depth appears to be thinner. Chemistry doesn't feel as rock-solid. Then there's Dwyane Wade's fragile health of course. These things -- not to mention how great San Antonio is -- cast Miami as a somewhat vulnerable defending champ as the playoffs begin this weekend against Charlotte or Washington. Do you buy the basic premise that this Heat team is not as good as the ones that won consecutive titles? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

THE BIZARRE, SCARY ODYSSEY OF YASIEL PUIG: The L.A. Times' Los Angeles Magazine, in its May issue, has a lengthy and fascinating piece on Dodgers star Yasiel Puig written by Jesse Katz. Get it 1aa1apuigyHERE. It reads like a screenplay. It probably will turn into one. It is the tale of Puig's path from Cuba to the major leagues via Mexico, and it is fraught with shady characters, skullduggery and ominous overtones. Read it, understand Puig a little more, and suddenly you'll be less focused on his speeding tickets or his showing up late for a game. The story gives a new understanding and appreciation for his situation. The young man has a lot on his mind. Reportedly his path out of Cuba was underwritten by a Miamian, Raul Pacheco, and involved smugglers -- human traffickers working for a major and murderous Mexican drug cartel. There are allegations that Puig promised 20 percent of his future earnings and that some exceptionally unsavory people may still be looking for their money. If I were the Dodgers and MLB I'd not only take this seriously, I'd enlist the FBI and anybody else who might help. What a scary tale. Forget protecting your investment, Dodgers. Protect Yasiel Puig.

Sad coincidence for baseball: This week marked the 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier, and this week there are exactly -- and only -- 67 active African-American players on MLB rosters. 

"MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY ... MON-EY!" (PINK FLOYD, 1973): ESPN has a list of the world's 1aa1amoneytop-paying sports teams, and Manchester United of soccer's English Premier League is on top with an average salary of $8.11 million per player, edging the Yankees' $8.03 million. The Heat check in 16th at $5.57 million, led by LeBron James and Chris Bosh at $19.1 million apiece. Interestingly, among Greater Miami's other three pro teams, the Panthers are next at $1.85 million per, edging the Dolphins ($1.77M) and Marlins ($1.55M).

Click back often. Am constantly updating/adding to newest blogpost...