June 18, 2016

Will you be rooting for or against LeBron James in Sunday's Game 7? Poll. Vote now!; plus Canes start badly in Omaha, U.S. on collision course with Messi, R.I.P. Prince Be, who's winning/losing Florida sports' Twitter war, your verdict on HR Derby & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ichiro surpasses Rose's hit total, Reshad Jones gets smart, Al Golden speaks, pitchers-in-Home Run Derby poll, Richie Incognito app, Richard Bleier update, Larry David brings back Curb & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat. 

Six-pack: Six selected recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Rooting For LeBron to Make History, the latest, on our treasonous hopes for Sunday's Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Marlins' Ichiro's hits milestone. The Weight of Tradition, off Canes' Omaha-clinching baseball win. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Muhammad 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.

CwsCANES OPEN IN OMAHA WITH 5-1 LOSS: [Update: Oy. Canes open with 5-1 loss. Bad start. Backs to the wall immediately] The Florida Gators are waiting. I know, I know. Miami's Hurricanes need to do some winning to get to them, starting tonight at 8 p.m. vs. Arizona (ESPN2) in UM's 2016 College World Series debut. But the overarching theme of this double- Ubbelimination CWS for Miami is that it seeks another shot at its upstate nemesis. Canes and Gators are luckily in opposite brackets in Omaha, meaning they could only meet in a best-of-three series for the championship ... and it feels like a collision course toward that. Top-ranked Florida is the overall favorite at 9-5 betting odds per Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, and Miami is tied for second (with Oklahoma State) at 5-1 odds. Florida has been the pebble in Jim Morris' shoe, the clear nemesis. UM is 6-21 vs. the Gators since 2010, and three of those season it was Florida that ousted Miami from the playoffs. That includes last year in Omaha, when both of UM's losses were to Florida. A shot at revenge ahead? Canes must get there first. And that starts tonight.

TREASONOUS? I'LL BE ROOTING FOR LEBRON AND CAVS ON SUNDAY, AND YOU SHOULD, TOO: [Poll is immediately below] Basketball devotees in and around Oakland, California wouldn't agree, of course. Neither would the many folks in South Florida who with martyrs' pride bear the grudge of animus for having been jilted by LeBron James. Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat followers are the Lebron Finalsoutliers here, though. The Flat Earthers. Those two fandoms couldn't be much farther apart geographically, or more separated from the rest of America in the way they see the NBA Finals now hurtling to a magical Game 7 on Sunday night. To most of the rest of us, surely it is has become clear beyond argument or doubt: We'll be cheering for history to be made, for the underdog to beat the impossible odds. We'll be cheering for the best story, the kind where sports plays out like a fairy tale, astonishes us, wrenches emotion. We'll be cheering for LeBron to fulfill his promise and deliver Cleveland its first major-sport championship since the Browns wore the NFL crown in pre-Super Bowl 1964. Miami fans may hate that I'm writing this. It might sound treasonous. But I wish those who think that would choose to appreciate the four years, four straight Finals appearances and two championships LeBron helped give us, rather than hang onto the anger over the admittedly shabby way he left us. I mean, if you aren't a Warriors fan or a card-carrying LeBron Hater, how can you not root for the Cavaliers to do what has never been done even once in the NBA's 70-year history? It's a bona fide feel-good story. So let yourself feel good. No team has been down 3-1 in a Finals and won the championship. Count to 32. It'll take a while. That's how many times a team has trailed 3-1, and those teams are 0-for-32 in overcoming the odds against them. Now all the the Cavs must do to break that forever-spell and make history is beat the reigning champions on their own floor Sunday. Beat the league MVP. Beat the team they lost to in last year's Finals. Beat a team that had the best regular season (73-9) of all time. And beat a team whose record at home including this postseason is 50-4. That's all. That it has never been done, that it would be LeBron doing it, that it would be champion-MVP Stephen Curry on the other end, that it would be title-starved Cleveland celebrating -- this would not be less than one of the greatest stories in the history of sports if the Cavaliers can somehow pull it off. Of course few outside of northeast Ohio probably think it has more than a prayer of actually happening. All the better! The feeling might be different had Golden State not won it all last season, the franchise's first championship since Rick Barry's 1975. Had that drought continued it's hard to say who'd hold the underdog card or be the sentimental favorite on Sunday. But now? Cleveland is that underdog in every connotation of the word, and Golden State suddenly has become the easy-to-dislike favorite -- especially after Thursday night. Curry, who looks like he's 17 and rarely is caught in any controversy, fouled out with 4:22 left in Game 6 and in frustration threw his plastic mouthguard. His wife Ayesha then went all Miko Grimes on Twitter, blasting the officiating with conspiracy-theory Tweets she quickly deleted. Later, Warriors coach Steve Kerr invited a league fine in saying Curry was upset with good reason. "He should be upset," said an angry Kerr. "If they're going to let Cleveland grab and hold these guys constantly on their cuts and then you're going to call these ticky-tack fouls on the MVP of the league to foul him out, I don't agree with that." That is the look and sound of a coach, an MVP and a team feeling all of the pressure now. Since leading these Finals 2-0 the Warriors have lost three of the past four games to the Cavs -- and by a combined 59 points. And, in the delicious duel atop this series' marquee, LeBron has plainly outperformed Curry, as if staking his claim to win back the best-player honorarium given by gradual consensus to the smaller man. LeBron has outscored Curry in five of the six games and, fueled by back-to-back 41-point games, is averaging 30.2 points in the Finals to Curry's 23.5. This has been an odd postseason for the NBA, lopsided, with 62.4 percent of all playoff games this year (53 of 85) decided by double-digit margins. That includes all six Finals games, which, defying logic and explanation, have been have been decided by an average margin of 19.7 points. It's been sort of a lousy playoffs, in other words. Until now. Cleveland fighting back to unexpectedly force a winner-take-all Game 7 -- ratcheting the stakes as high as stakes can go -- erases two months of bad postseason. Makes everything better. Sports fans regard Game 7s as a special gift with reason. They are not common. This will be the 19th Finals Game 7 in the 70-year history of the NBA and the first since the Heat went the distance to beat the Spurs in 2013. This will be only the seventh since 1978, an incidence of 18.4 percent since then or fewer than one every five years. There have not been more than three Finals Game 7s in any one decade since the 1960s. So they all seem special, these ultimate games. Like the biggest and the best. Except this one actually could be. If LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers can do what no NBA team ever has -- if they can leave fans in Oakland stunned silent and those in Miami shaking their heads in disbelief -- it will be an historic comeback that makes Sunday a Game 7 for the ages.

 
Usmnt"U-S-A! U-S-A!" MEN WIN AGAIN IN SOCCER, GET LIONEL MESSI NEXT (PROBABLY): I was juggling NBA Finals Game 6 and U.S.-Ecuador in the Copa America match from Seattle. Team America won 2-1 to become the first team to advance to the semifinals. U.S. will next face the winner of Saturday's Argentina-Venezuela match, which very likely will be Argentina led by the incomparable Lionel Messi. Delicioso!
 
THE LIST: MAJOR FLORIDA PRO TEAMS ON TWITTER: The state of Florida has nine franchises in the Big Four sports of NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. Here's how the teams rank based on most Twitter followers as of this week:

Team                          Followers

Miami Heat                 3.40M  @MiamiHEAT

Orlando Magic            1.35M  @OrlandoMagic

Miami Dolphins           613K  @MiamiDolphins

Tampa Bay Bucs          438K  @TBBuccaneers

Tampa Bay Lightning  398K  @TBLightning

Jacksonville Jaguars    338K  @Jaguars

Tampa Bay Rays          332K  @RaysBaseball

Florida Panthers          229K  @FlaPanthers 

Miami Marlins             201K  @Marlins

Poll result: No pitchers in Home Run Derby, please: Low-interest question + predictable result = bad poll. And this one was. Nevertheless! We asked if you'd like to see pitchers included in MLB's Home Run Derby, and it was 60.6 percent no, 34.5% yes and 4.9% undecided.

R.I.P., ATTRELL CORDES (PRINCE BE): Attrell Cordes, "Prince Be," frontman of the 1990s hip-hop duo P.M. Dawn, passed away yesterday of diabetes and kidney disease at age 46. (Click here for more, from Rolling Stone). P.M. Dawn was successful in the early to mid '90s, helping to pioneer what would become known as "cloud rap," a form of hip-hop that featured an ethereal vibe, dreamlike beats and harmonizing. A favorite P.M. Dawn song of mine below, "Looking Through Patient Eyes," is a good example of the genre. Thank you for your talent and music, Prince Be.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 08, 2016

Hear a 21-year-old Cassius Clay sing "Stand By Me" (it isn't bad!); plus where does Ali rank among past century's greatest American athletes? Poll. Vote now; also, in bed with D-Wade, R.I.P. Kimbo, magic of Jose, Games of Thrones & more

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

Kimboslice1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8. R.I.P., fighter Kimbo Slice (pictured), gone suddenly at 42. We spent much of yesterday's LeBatard Show discussing his life. He was a Miami original who started so low and rose from the streets thanks to strength and ingenuity. 2) Bulletin: Roger Goodell is not dead. Somebody hacked the NFL's Twitter site and reported commissioner Roger Goodell had died. I wonder. Does Tom Brady have an alibi? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 led by Muhammad Ali, our Ali and Richard Bleier columns, bipartisan political insult & 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:Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, the latest, on how Ali set the template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, also new, on Richard Bleier's long climb to the Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure.

DwadegabyInto the bedroom -- and the bed -- with D-Wade and Gaby: Well, this is too much information! Black Sports Online relays that Heat star Dwyane Wade has, on Snapchat, provided fans with a glimpse of himself and wife/actress Gabrielle Union in bed (apparently) just before and after, um, ah, I guess i can say "marital relations" in a family blog. Click here for the item via BSO. At right is an "after" screengrab from the Snapchat. This may be taking the social media concept of "total access" a smidge too far. I'm no prude, but this is wandering too close for my liking to Kim Kardashian-nude-in-a-bathroom-mirror-selfie territory. Remember when celebrities used to bemoan their lack of privacy? Now it seems they're the first to give it away.

"A Democrat running for Congress put a flyer on my door that states proudly, 'Meet Tim Canova. He's not a politician.' Only in politics does this outsider-ism seem to work. If I'm hiring a salesman, I'd sort of like him to have done the job before in much the same way I'd prefer someone about to perform surgery on me to be an actual doctor. And yet it's no-experience-necessary to be in Congress? Bizarre."  --Greg Cote

Clay albumCASSIUS CLAY SINGS 'STAND BY ME' ... AND IT ISN'T BAD!: The video below is 21-year Cassius Clay singing "Stand By Me" in 1963. The video lists him as Muhammad Ali, but '63 was before the first Sonny Liston fight in Miami Beach and a year before before Clay had converted to his Muslim name. "Stand By Me" was the only proper song included on the album (pictured right) that Clay recorded in '63; all of the other "songs" were monologues, poetry and other spoken-word material by Clay. The single heard here was released in 1964 and nearly reached the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at 102 weeks after his stunning upset of Liston. Clay-turned-Ali was a big fan of soul music and friends with tghe legendary Sam Cooke. As for Clay's version of this classic song? He's no Ben E. King, but his rendition actually is pretty solid. Floats like a butterfly, sings like a bee?

 

RANKING ALI AMONG AMERICA'S GREATEST ATHLETES OF THE 20TH CENTURY: The death of Muhammad Ali over the weekend is the impetus for this poll. The 15 athletes presented here are Espncenturynot of my choosing, although I can't disagree with much. These are the top 15 of ESPN's 100 greatest American athletes of the 20th Century list from the network's SportsCentury project. I present them alphabetically, not in order, so as not to prejudice the jury (that's you), although you'd find the complete list here. Limited it to 15 simply so the poll wouldn't get too unwieldy. If you can't believe so-and-so didn't make the top 15 and our poll, blame ESPN, not me. Or cast one of your votes for "somebody else" and say who you were thinking of. But please note this is American athletes only, which is why you don't find soccer god Pele on the list, for example. Also note it is athletes of the past century only, which is why you won't see LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady or anybody else whose career has all or substantively occurred since 2000. As for what constitutes "greatest," that's entirely for you to decide. Select your top three (3) athletes, and from that consensus we'll arrive at the greatest American athlete of the 20th Century. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

JosefTHE WONDER OF JOSE, CONTINUED: Marlins ace Jose Fernandez's statistics in his past eight startst: 8-0 records, 1.38 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 14 walks in 52 innings. The ERA is 0.66 over his past six starts. He still might be third on most NL Cy Young ballots right now behind Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta, but he'll continue to contend for the award if his performance keeps up and if Miami hangs in the playoff chase. Jose is a surreal 23-1 with a 1.53 ERA at home in his career vs. a mortal 8-10 and 3.54 on the road. But he's scheduled for only one start (June 11) on the current nine-game road trip.

Dragonlady GameofthronesON 'GAME OF THRONES': An admission. Five years late, I have joined the lowing herd. I have recently adopted and embraced HBO's Game of Thrones as a guilty viewing pleasure. I am not an aficionado-bordering-cultist who prays to the show or wishes to over-analyze every nuance of every episode in a like-minded online community of zealots. But I enjoy GOT and have elevated it to the my uncrowded pantheon of must-see TV. I like it visually first, for the stunning look of it, before I even get to the expansive, complicated storyline I am still trying to slowly decipher with the not always patient help of my wife, a longer-time fan. Also I must make a confession: One reason I like the show is my embarrassing schoolboy crush on the character Daenerys Targaryen, "Dany," the Mother of Dragons (pictured), portrayed by actress Emilia Clarke. The show's description of her character: "Princess of House Targaryen, Daenerys lives in exile in Essos with her advisors and dragons. Dany rallied the Unsullied of Astapor to her cause and continues to grow the army she needs to take back the throne." Greg Cote's description: "You know, the hot blond with the dragons."

ON 'CRISIS OF CHARACTER': A forthcoming book very critical of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton White House has been written by former Secret Service agent Gary J. Byrne Garyjbyrne(pictured). Coming out a month before the Democratic convention, the book -- timing and content -- fall straight from Republican heaven. If you didn't know better, you might even think the RNC was behind it. I find particularly interesting the book's title: Crisis of Character. Hmm. The title means to suggest the character issue is Hillary's. I wonder if it isn't the author's instead. A tell-all book by a former Secret Service agent!? So much for the secret part of the job title, huh. How unseemly. How unprofessional. How against-code. How against every expectation of discretion for a Secret Service agent to betray confidences in this manner. I'd feel similarly, by the way, if one of Donald Trump's former loyal lieutenant's suddenly came out with a sleazy tell-all timed to sell books. A back-stabbing snitch is a back-stabbing snitch. But I certainly hold Secret Service agents to a higher standard than I do corporate suits. Gary J. Byrne should be embarrassed. Except perhaps to Republicans to whom he is undoubtedly a hero, this man should be ashamed of himself.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 04, 2016

G1: Heat 102, @ Toronto 96: Reasons Miami is better, will advance; plus LeBron wants Heat next, Bosh ruled out, new Dolphins SB odds, Mavis Staples, 'Back In My Day,' could've-beens, Marlins odds, your verdict on Heat-Raptors & more

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

Dolgasmask1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 5. Watch for a brand new blog posting here later this morning. 2) Sorry Dolfans but a Laremy Tunsil-styled Dolphins logo incorporating a bong gas mask is too funny to not pass along. Tunsil's career may outgrow that infamous draft-night photo, but not soon. Example: This FunnyorDie.com spoof skewers Tunsil. (Warning: Rough language). 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Metrics give Heat 1 in 3 series shot vs. Toronto but I like Miami with poll, Kiper/McShay final thoughts on Dolphins draft, your verdict on Fins draft & more. 4) Click here for my latest Back In My Day. Comes late in podcast, around 1:07 mark. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

SHULA: A RENEWED APPRECIATION: A health scare that hospitalized Don Shula this week at age 86 invites us to reflect and renew our appreciation for the great longtime former Dolphins coach. Click on Shula: A Renewed Appreciation to read my latest column in full.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, my latest, previewing the Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory. Curious Pick, Major Gamble, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick.

Bosh out rest of playoffs: Heat and Chris Bosh releaseed this joint statement late this afternoon: "The Miami Heat  and Chris Bosh announce that Chris will not be playing in the remainder of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. The Heat, Chris, the doctors and medical team have been working together throughout this process and will continue to do so to return Chris to playing basketball as soon as possible." No surprise but need to be said given the recent distraction of #BringBoshBack and the NBA Players Association involvement.

LeBron admits he wants Wade, Heat next: Said LeBron James following a Cavs shootaround today, on whether he has thought about facing the Heat in the Eastern finals: "Naturally, of course. That's since I've came back [to Cleveland from Miami]. It'd be great to play against those guys in the postseason. Throughout my whole career, I've always wanted to go against [Dwyane] Wade in a playoff series. We've always talked about it even before we became teammates in '10. It's not been heavy on my mind, but it's crossed my mind throughout my whole career."

Dolphins latest odds: Still no love: No love for Fins in post-draft Super Bowl odds via Bovada today. Miami is 66-1, same as pre-free agency and last in AFC East. Patriots are 7-1 (first overall), Jets 40-1, Bills 50-1. And no Laremy Tunsil among top 10 picks for offensive rookie.

Marlins latest odds: New World Series odds out via Bovada show Marlins the same 50-1 as coming into season despite recent hot streak. One problem? Three favorites to win it all are NL clubs, with Cubs on top at 5-1 and Mets/Nationals (both in Marlins' division) both 10-1. Jose Fernandez is 16-1 for Cy Young (tie, eighth), but Giancarlo Stanton (8 homers) isn't among 14 players listed 20-1 or better for MVP.

G1: HEAT 102, @ TORONTO 96: WE SAW WHY MIAMI IS BETTER TEAM, WILL WIN SERIES: If it's seven games of this, can the heart take it? Miami squandered a late 79-67 lead, went into overtime on Kyle Lowry's desperation half-court 3 at the buzzer, but then prevailed in OT 102-96 last night, fueled by two field goals and a steal by (who else) Dwyane Wade. Reasons Miami is better and will win series: 1) Wade had 24 points and Goran Dragic 26 last night on combined 20-for-41 shooting, seriously outplaying TOR counterparts DeMar DeRozan and Lowry. Lowry, despite the prayer that forced OT, has been awful in the playoffs, shooting 30.6 percent including 3-for-13 last night. That's the worst postseason percentage by any NBA player in a half century, according to Elias Sports Bureau. 2) Miami also hit big with a 52-41 rebounding advantage in Game 1 led by Hassan Whiteside's 17 boards, and that edge should continue. 3) Heat have the perimeter defenders, with Tyler Johnson back and with Rook 1 and Rook 2, to bother the Raptors' game. 4) Erik Spoelstra is a better coach than Dwane Casey. (And by the way, Dwane, our Dwyane is the only one who gets to misspell Dwayne). In sum, a gigantic road win to open the series entering Game 2 Thursday night back in Toronto. ..... Original post: Both teams are coming off watershed series. Toronto is past the first round of the playoffs for only the second time in 21 franchise seasons and the first since 2001. Miami (after missing the playoffs altogether last year) just won its first postseason series since 2006 not involving a man named LeBron James. So the
Heatraptorsquestion now: Who isn't satisfied? Who is hungrier for more? This is the closest of the four conference semifinal series in terms of betting odds and G1the toughest call entering Game 1 tonight at 8 in Toronto. The Raptors understandably are favored, with the better season record, a 3-1 series edge and home-court advantage. But you get the feeling -- by which I mean I get the feeling -- the Raptors are closer to happy-just-to-be-here mode, whereas the Heat are hell-bent-driven for an Eastern finals showdown with LeBron and the Cavs. More pragmatically, I think Miami is a bit deeper, has a tad more offensive pop and enjoys the clear edge in playoff experience. Certainly the Heat come in off a more comfortable Game 7 showing in the last series. Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan may get his points -- he scored 30, 33 and 38 in the Raptors' three season wins over Miami -- but fellow guard Kyle Lowery is lessened by a tender elbow, which could hurt Toronto. The Heat have more go-to options offensively, and one of them, Hassan Whiteside, may be poised for a big series in a favorable matchup if he can stay out of foul trouble. Other key questions: Will we see the vintage Dwyane Wade of old, or the old Wade. Can Goran Dragic consistently be the difference-maker who poured in 25 points in Game 7? Might Joe Johnson be the force he was in helping Brooklyn eliminate Toronto two years ago? Lots of compelling storylines here -- even with Chris Bosh still out and not facing his longtime former team. Miami will need to at least split these two games in Toronto to win the right to come home feeling good about its chances. And tonight might be the night to cherry-pick that road win, with Toronto on a 1-8 in playoff series openers. My series pick: Heat in 6. (Click on Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals for latest column).

1 EX-DOLPHIN. 1 FORMER HEAT PLAYER (THOUGH BOTH BARELY) MAKE LIST YOU DON'T WANT TO BE ON: ESPN unveils a dubious Top 25 all-time athletes in unfulfilled potential -- the "Could-Have-Beens." Click here for the full list. Two with South Florida ties (albeit brief ones) make it. At No. 14 is running back Lawrence Phillips, who appeared in two Dolphins games in 1997, rushing 18 times for 44 yards. And at No. 1 is center Greg Oden, who played in 23 Heat games in 2013-14, averaging 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.

MAVIS STAPLES, AMERICAN TREASURE, PERFORMS TONIGHT IN BROWARD: Mavis Staples performs tonight/Wednesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, opening for venerable gospel legends The Blind Boys of Alabama. They could as well have been the opening act for her, such is her stature in music and the phenomenal career renaissance she is enjoying at age 76. I am an unabashed admirer and fan who has followed her career since first becoming familiar with her family group the Staple Singers in the '70s. In fact I write a Twitter fan site for her; click on MavisstaplesMavis_Staples for my tribute site, and on MavisStaples for her official site. I first knew of Mavis as the lead singer for the family group that enjoyed several years of chart popularity with songs such as "I'll Take You There," "Respect Yourself" and "If You're Ready." The music intrigued me partly because I couldn't easily categorize it. It was gospel-flavored pop but with also parts R&B (what they used to call soul music) and funk. There was a grit to it. To my ears, the Detroit sound of Motown always seemed like music recorded in an air-conditioned studio, while the less-polished sound of Memphis and Stax Records (the Staples' label) seemed as if it were recorded in a club, with sweat involved. I only learned later that the Staple Singers were first a gospel group singing in Chicago churches and producing standards such as "Uncloudy Day," long before the mainstream success. The group also was intimately involved in the civil rights movement; group leader Roebuck "Pops" Staples and Martin Luther King were close friends. Pops famously told his family, "If he [King] can preach it, we can sing it," and the result were civil-rights anthems such as "Freedom Highway." The video below is a funk-filled, bass-line-driven song about segregationist days called "Down In Mississippi." Mavis Staples is living history. The decades of diverse music -- from gospel roots to socially conscious music to mainstream success -- led the Staple Singers to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. The Staple Singers were finished by the mid-'80s, Pops passed away in 2000. But Mavis was far from done. She was rediscovered by Prince, a fan, and appeared prominently on his 1990 album, Graffiti Bridge. More recently she won a 2011 Grammy for Best Americana Recording with a solo album, You Are Not Alone, produced by Jeff Tweedy of the group Wilco. He also produced her well-received 2013 followup album, One True Vine. A new album, Livin' On a High Note, features performances by Nick Cave, Neko Case and others. A new documentary film, "Mavis!" premiered Feb. 29 on HBO. She will open on tour for Bob Dylan starting in June. Crossing genres and appealing to all audiences, young and old, has marked her career resurgence. She has played jazz fests and folk festivals, appealing to all. Just last week, she played at the youth-skewed Coachella festival, and spoke a moving tribute to Prince, whom she called "my son." Mavis Staples' concerts are intimate, moving and uplifting. She aims to spread joy, and succeeds. If you have not discovered her music, it isn't too late. If you have never seen her live in concert, do treat yourself Wednesday night.

Click on Broward Center for ticket information about Mavis' Wednesday, May 4 show with The Blind Boys of Alabama.

 

Poll result: Heat will win Raptors series, say 73 percent: We asked the likelihold Miami would advance past Toronto in the series starting tonight and it was 28.8 percent voting 60%-plus, 44.6% voting 50-59%, 15.1% voting 40-49% and 11.5% voting 40% or less. That's 73.4% voting over 50% likelihood vs. 26.6% under. 

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

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 21, 2016

History! Heat, Panthers win playoff games on same day for first time ever; plus R.I.P. Prince, 'White Ho,' Josh Norman, bigot Schilling fired, Marlins' awful start, NBA jersey ads (what Heat's might look like) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 21. Seen leaving the Heat arena late last night ... what happens (pictured) when a letter in 'White Hot' mysteriously disappears. 2) Attention Miami Dolphins: Star Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman is unexpectedly a free-agent now. Reportedly the 49ers are a frontrunner, though. 3) Hope you had a happy 4-20, National Weed Day. Yeah, like pot smokers need an annual holiday to enjoy their herb? 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Youth will served and serve back (Heat's rookie reliance), Luol Deng's good work off-court, bad golf joke & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

PrincePrince dead at 57: Oh my. David Bowie, now Prince. All artists are unique, if the word is taken literally, but few stood out as more so than Prince. What a talent. What a shame to lose him so soon. I had a chance to be in his company (briefly) a few days before he performed at halftime of the February 2007 Super Bowl here. How small of stature, but with an aura and mystique -- and sound -- that filled the biggest rooms. Prince was genre-bending and to a degree gender-bending, an exceptional guitarist with a magnetic stage presence. I am already missing every song he might have written but now won't. R.I.P. 

"Nobody in the sports world had a better Wednesday than Harriet Tubman." --Greg Cote

HISTORY!: Last night was the first time ever the Heat and Panthers both won a playoff game the same day.

The makeup of MLB Opening Day rosters: In case you wondered, it was 59.1 percent White (plus 0.3 from a year earlier); 28.5% Latino (minus 0.8); 8.3% African-American or Black (no change); and 1.7% Asian (plus 0.5). The totals add to 97.6%. Our source, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, does not explain who the 2.4% are.

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 new one, off last night's Heat 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 win.

G2: HEATS HANDLES CHARLOTTE 115-103 FOR 2-0 SERIES LEAD AS WADE, OFFENSE STAR: Dwyane Wade 28 points and eight assists last night led the 115-103 downtown win over the Hornets. Plenty of help, though. Four others in double figures including Hassan Whiteside with 17 points and 13 rebounds on 8-for-8 shooting. Miami did not hit 115-plus points in consecutive games all season but has done it to open the playoffs. Click on For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East for my column off the Game 2 win. ..... Original post: Heat has won five straight over Charlotte in postseason dating to 2014, and the Hornets' 123-91 loss Dwadein Game 1 here offered little indication that streak will end tonight in Game 2. Of course, a leveling and a tighter came is certain. Miami was  near perfect to start the playoffs' first round, personified by Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside shooting a combined 20-for-24. That won't happen again, and neither will Charlotte's shell-shocked, deer-in-headlights effort. Charlotte coach Steve Clifford is right in saying, "Whether you lose by 30 or one, it's 1-0." So is Heat coach Erik Spoelstra in saying, "We will see a response from [the Hornets]." Key for Miami will be to continue to defend Charlotte's 3-point shot and control the boards. It also figures to be a night when Miami needs more offense from Dwyane Wade (pictured) than the quiet 16 he gave in the opener. Miami has won 10 consecutive first-round games overall and 15 of past 16 at home vs. Charlotte, so I'd bet on Heat winning again tonight, though narrowly. Miami can put the hammer down with a 2-0 series lead tonight, or find itself 1-1 heading for two straight in Charlotte. This is the beauty of a best-of-seven. Every result changes the entire narrative. Historically, though, here is the significance of tonight's result for Miami. In its playoff history, the Heat is 13-0 in a series its leads 2-0, but 10-8 in a series that is 1-1. And that sounds about right as a frame for tonight: Miami either puts this thing away, or invites anxiety moving forward.  

JagrG4: PANTHERS 2, N.Y. ISLANDERS 1: HUGE CATS WIN EVENS SERIES: Goals by Teddy Purcell and Alex Petrovic and big goaltending by Roberto Luongo forged last night's 2-1 road win that has the playoff series 2-2 heading back to Sunrise for Game 5 Friday night. ..... Original post: I still think Florida's roster is superior to the Isles', but NYI's 2-1 series lead says otherwise. Florida blew a 3-1 lead in Game 3 thanks in part to some sketchy officiating; now we see the response in the crucial Game 4 tonight in Brooklyn. Cats either will bounce home feeling good at 2-2, or wallow desperately in a 3-1 hole. Islanders haven't won a playoff series since 1993 and Panthers since '96, so something's gotta give. Troubling for the Panthers is that goalie Roberto Luongo has given up nine goals in the two losses. He admitted he was "exhausted" after three playoff games in four nights. Cats will need better net-minding tonight from their main guy or from Al Montoya to get back in this series. They'll also need their frontline scorers to get going, starting with Jaromir Jagr (pictured), who has not tallied a point in the three games. He also has not scored a goal in 34 straight playoff games, an almost unfathomable streak whose end tonight would be hugely well-timed.

SAD I: WHY DOES CURT SCHILLING STILL HAVE JOB AT ESPN? HE DOESN'T ANYMORE: Update: ESPN canned Schilling late yesterday. Good for ESPN. Original post: Full transparency: I work for The Worldwide Leader parttime as a once-a-week studio co-host for ESPN Radio on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, as many of you know. Those checks from Disney are a welcome stipend to my day job with the Miami Herald. So because of my role with ESPN, minor though Curtschilling Curtschillingit is, I hesitated to write this and will tread carefully. I love free speech. I also know that employers have a right to expect those they pay to represent the company in a way that does not unduly offend customers. I'm not sure, if I owned the Buffalo Bills, how I'd feel about Rex Ryan introducing Donald Trump at a New York rally last week. I'd feel the same if he had introduced Hillary Clinton, although it is fair to say some of Trump's views are more controversial and polarizing, and yet now the face of an NFL team is on board with all of those views (on Muslims, on Mexicans) by association. The matter of Curt Schilling, the ESPN baseball analyst, is far more disturbing. He previously was suspended by ESPN and later demoted from Sunday Night Baseball after posting a meme that compared extremist Muslims to Nazis. Schilling, 49, also has said Clinton should be "buried under a jail." Now the latest: Schilling has shared on his Facebook page the cartoon pictured, with the comment, "A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don't care what they are, who they sleep with, men's room was designed for the penis, women's not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic." The cartoon feeds the bigoted hysteria that surrounds the transgender bathroom issue that is news in several states, notably North Carolina, by suggesting it will mean predators attacking your daughters. Actually I think the cartoon might mean to lampoon the hysteria and mock the intolerant and small-minded like Schilling. In any case, Yahoo Sports reports an ESPN spokesman as saying, "We are taking this matter very seriously and are in the process of reviewing it." Schilling has responded to the outcry by blaming the media and those offended, writing on his website, "You know how I know you ‘offended’ people are full of crap? Because I’m not even close to any of the things you so desperately want me to be, so you can whine. You frauds out there ranting and screaming about my ‘opinions’ (even if it isn’t) and comments are screaming for tolerance and acceptance while you refuse to do and be either. YOU’RE the ones making it the issue." Schilling notes the things he shares on Facebook or Twitter are his own opinions and have nothing to do with his employer, but this of course is where he is plainly wrong. His description now does not begin with "former pitcher," it begins with "ESPN Baseball analyst." That's the issue here. Schilling has every right to have whatever opinions he wishes and to share them. The thing is, ESPN also has every right to not want its on-air stars volunteering themselves into needless public controversies with stances not in line with what represents Disney or ESPN. Curt Schilling's name should conjure one word first: Baseball. Instead it has come to conjure another: Bigotry.

DonmattinglySAD II: ON MARLINS' NIGHTMARE START: We're an unlucky 13 games into The Longest Season and already the requisite wisecrack has started circulating. Surely anyone who follows the Marlins has said or heard some variation of this: "Has Loria fired Mattingly yet?" It speaks to both owner Jeffrey Loria's notorious impatience and to the the club's disappointing start under new manager Don Mattingly (pictured). "Nightmare" start might not be hyperbole. The 4-9 record is third-worst in MLB. The 1-7 home record is the worst. Five of eight position starters are batting .244 or under. The bullpen has been an Amtrak derailment. (Speaking of which: Why, Lord, is Chris Narveson still in the big leagues?) [UPDATE: Marlins today/Thursday demoted Narveson to the minors] Now the Marlins face one more at home today against the rotation-strong Washington Nationals and then set out on a daunting, season-long 10-game road trip. There is the potential for things to get really ugly. Loria wanted a fast start under Mattingly. The opposite has left the Fish buried on the local landscape under the Heat and Panthers' playoff runs and Dolphins draft talk. And any attention the Marlins are getting is mostly negative. As for that crack about "has Loria fired Mattingly yet," the way things have started -- and knowing this owner -- it might seem less and less like a preposterous joke as summer rolls in.

HeatadsjerseySAD III: IMAGINING HEAT'S AD JERSEY: I have fought my quiet fight against the encroachment of advertising in sports for years. Long-time and particularly observant readers know that I, for example, never refer in my columns to stadium and arena names that include a corporate sponsor. I'll make it a generic ""Heat's downtown bayside arena" rather than mention the airline in the official name. It's just my little line in the sand. Well, now advertising is coming to the front of NBA jerseys starting in the 2017-18 season, a business-smart but otherwise sad development. Stadium names being whorred out for revenue is bad enough, but now jersey fronts? What's next, franchise names? The Burger King Miami Dolphins? How about player names? "And now batting, brought to you by Pepsi-Cola ... Giancarlo Stanton!" ESPN.com today (click here) imagines what various NBA jerseys would look like in the ad age and logically has the Heat sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines, Heat owner Micky Arison's other company, headquartered in Doral. Bright side: As shown, the corporate logo is affixed to the jersey in a way somewhat less garish and intrusive than it could be, I suppose. It's still sad. I mean, it's one thing to pay good money to buy a Heat T-shirt because you support the team or the player whose number and name are on it. But now you're also a walking billboard for Carnival or some other company, like it or not. As for the notion the sponsor's name on the merchandise might result in a reduced cost? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA! You are kidding, right?

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 09, 2016

Kiper's latest Dolphins mock pick, and why Fins won't get the "it" guy they covet; plus should Heat retire LeBron's jersey? Poll. Vote!; also, Heat/Panthers playoff outlook, does golf miss Tiger? (poll), your Rock Hall verdict, mourning Merle & more

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

Beerbff1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 9. On yesterday's date in 1974 Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to surpass Babe Ruth. 2) The day before was National Beer Day. Wait. I thought every day was. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jose Fernandez's first home loss has Marlins under early pressure, Rock Hall poll, R.I.P. Merle Haggard, judging Justise Winslow, UM hoops' 2017 title hopes, M.J. vs Steph verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My most recent general columns, ICYMI or in case you thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Out Of Excuses, off Marlins Opening Night. Power and Porcelain, Marlins season preview. Mystifying Offseason, on Dolphins' uneven efforts to improve.

ElliottKIPER'S LATEST DOLPHINS MOCK PICK; WHY FINS LIKELY WON'T GET THE PLAYER THEY COVET MORE: ESPN's Mel Kiper puts forth his NFL Mock Draft 4.0 today and has the Dolphins selecting Ohio State outside linebacker Darren Lee 13th overall. Maybe. But it's another OSU product who is Miami's latest "it" guy. Fins have scheduled a visit with Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (pictured), who would fill a glaring need and be a Day 1 starter. What a great pick he'd be at 13. One problem. He won't be there. It's a near-certainty Miami would have to trade up to have a shot at  him, and an equal certainty that won't happen. Elliott is especially coveted because he is this draft's only RB stamped 1R-quality. Scouts Inc.'s Top 32 has Elliott slotted No. 5 overall, Kiper's new mock has him going sixth (to Ravens), and Todd McShay's latest Top 32 has him rated fifth. McShay defies his own ratings by having Elliott fall to Miami at 13, but that is unlikely. It would be the kind of dumb luck the Dolphins haven't had much of on draft day since that Marino guy fell to them in '83.

Dolphins preseason schedule: Fins open their 51st season with a quartet of fake preseason games: at Giants Aug. 11-15, at Cowboys Aug. 18-22, home vs. Falcons at 8 p.m. on NBC Thursday Aug. 25, then home vs. Titans Sept. 1-2. Exact dates and times of games other than Atlanta are to be announced. All except Atlanta will air locally on WFOR/CBS4.

LebronheatSHOULD THE HEAT RETIRE LEBRON JAMES' JERSEY NUMBER?: The Heat surprised some by announcing they'd ceremonially retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey next season. Will they do the same someday for LeBron James? ESPN talking head and unofficial LeBron biographer Brian Windhorst says so -- not reporting it as fact, but merely predicting it. What do you think? The pro side: In his four seasons James played a major role in Miami reaching four NBA Finals and winning two championships. The con side: Four seasons is a little light for retired-jersey status, and LeBron left shabbily, in a way that angered Pat Riley and other Heaters. Your verdict goes here. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

FOR HEAT IT'S AS EASY A-B-C; FOR PANTHERS, THE TUNE IS NEW YORK, NEW YORK: This spring-into summer marks only the fifth time in 22 shared seasons that the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers both will be in the playoffs together. The Heat is in a four-team scrum for the Nos. 3 through 6 seeds in the NBA Eastern Conference and, depending on their finish, they'll face A, B or C -- Atlanta, Boston or Charlotte -- in the first round. Heat will avoid LeBron James and Cleveland until the conference finals if they finish third or sixth, but risk facing the Cavs one round sooner by ending fourth or fifth. In the NHL, the Panthers are the Eastern division winner with the second-most points and thus will face the wild-card team with the most points. That'll be the New York Islanders or New York Rangers. How the Heat and Panthers have fared this season vs. the teams they could face in the postseason:

AbcHeat vs. A-B-C:

3-1 vs. Atlanta, +28 points: L 99-92 Nov / W 100-88 Dec / W 105-87 Jan / W 115-111 Feb.

0-2 vs. Boston, -22 points: L 105-95 Nov / L 101-89 Feb / @ Celtics Apr 13.

2-2 vs. Charlotte, -7 points: W 104-94 Oct / L 99-81 Dec / W 98-95 Feb / L 109-106 Mar.

Latest Bovada betting odds have Celtics 50-1 to win NBA title, Heat 66-1, Hawks 75-1 and Hornets 100-1. Golden State is prohibitive overall pick at 5-7, followed by San Antonio 4-1 and Cleveland 13-4. 

NynyPanthers vs. New York, New York:

2-1 vs. Islanders with Cats leading in goals 10-5: W 3-2, so Nov / W 5-1 Dec / L 3-2 Mar.

1-2 vs. Rangers with goals tied 9-9: L 5-4, ot Nov / W 3-0 Jan / L 4-2 Mar.

Newest betting odds via Bovada have Rangers 18-1 to win NHL title, Panthers 20-1 and Islanders 28-1. Overall faves are Washington 17-4, Los Angeles 7-1 and Chicago 15-2.

DOES GOLF MISS TIGER WOODS?: The Masters has begun in Augusta, with Tiger Woods conspicuously absent as he continues (laboriously) recovering from back and other ailments. Four of his 14 majors have been green jackets but he hasn't won a major of any kind since 2008, and whether he'll win another one is in doubt. The sport he once dominated has seemingly moved on from him. Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth top the marquee now. Can Tiger, now 40, still make a comeback? Do we still care? Tell us what you think in this poll.

Poll result: You said Chicago (the band) is most deserving new Hall inductee: The 31st Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions are Friday, we asked which of the five latest inductees are most deserving, and here was your call: Chicago 39.2 percent, Steve Miller 19.8%, Deep Purple 15.7%, N.W.A. 15.7% and Cheap Trick 9.7%. Personally, none of the five have been that important in my life but the pretty clear vote probably was Chicago in terms of commercial success and N.W.A. for social significance.

STILL BUMMIN' ABOUT MERLE: So let's throw another video of his up in here. It's Haggard's signature hit, with a little help from his friend starting at about the one-minute mark:

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 07, 2016

End of Jose Fernandez's record home win streak heaps (very) early pressure on Marlins; plus Justise Winslow, UM '17 title odds, R.I.P. Merle Haggard, rat-tastic Panthers, Rock Hall poll (vote now!), your verdicts on 2 polls & more

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

Rats1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 7. Congrats to the Florida Panthers for achieving their second NHL division title in franchise history. Rats! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Night with expectations poll, Villanova wins thriller, '96 Bulls vs. '16 Warriors poll, Monica Lewinsky, Dolphins in Bogota, spring football & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Disrespect for Heat's Justise Winslow?: A bunch of ESPN talking heads are jabbering here about what NBA rookie has the greatest upside/future/potential and Miami's Justise Winslow is ranked only No. 7 on one list and No. 8 on the other.

UM 2017 title odds in men's hoops: Confetti hasn't even stopped falling at Villanova and already the 2017 men's NCAA Tournament odds are out (via Bovada), with Duke on top at 9-2, then Kentucky 6-1 and 'Nova 8-1. The Miami Hurricanes, depleted by departing seniors, are tied for 18th at 40-1.

My Marlins column off opener: Click on Out Of Excuses to read in full. I write why it is imperative for the Marlins to finally win and matter again.

JoseHOMELAND SECURITY: MARLINS COUNTED ON JOSE'S MIAMI MAGIC AGAIN, LOST, AND NOW FACE EARLY-SEASON PRESSURE [Update: Fernandez was pulled in the 6th inning trailing 3-0 in an eventual 7-3 Marlins loss to Detroit yesterday, meaning his home win streak finally ended. Fernandez struck out 13 in defeat]. Original post: The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson (yes, Jeh) happened to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Marlins Opening Night. Fitting, because the Marlins' own director of Homeland Security, Jose Fernandez, takes the mound for Game 2. The home/away disparity sports is interesting. It tends to be quite pronounced with teams enjoying a home-field (or court, or ice) advantage, but much less so with individuals. A few anecdotal examples below only underline the remarkable home/road career arc of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins' Game 2 starter today. Consider:

Dan Marino passer rating: 87.4 home vs. 85.3 road.

Dwyane Wade scoring average: 24.3 home vs. 23.1 road.

Jaromir Jagr goals per game: 0.49 home vs. 0.43 road.

Giancarlo Stanton home runs per game: 0.2577 home vs. 0.2557 road.

The differences are shades of negligible. Now consider:

Jose Fernandez record and ERA, before Wednesday: 17-0 and 1.40 home vs. 5-9 and 3.78 road.

It isn't that he's terrible on the road by any means; that sub-4 ERA is decent, and his K's-per-inning away are comparable. It is that he is record-setting, all-time-great at home to begin a career. And now the Marlins are counting on him yet again today to deliver that Homeland Security at Marlins Park. You keep counting on the law of averages to kick in, but he keeps winning here. Now Fernandez maintaining his home streak is especially important because Miami lost its season opener last night and because, after today, the Fish face six consecutive road games -- all of them vs. the NL East favorite Nationals or Mets. Marlins need a fast start this season, and that's why they need Jose to stay perfect at home today. If Jose's streak ends, this team will be feeling pressure earlier than any club should.

Poll result: Most expect Marlins to be OK but not a playoff team: We asked your expectations for this Marlins season, and votes came in before and after the Opening Night loss. Most overall, 55.1 percent, voted "average" (around .500, no playoffs). However, more voted "good" (playoff drought finally ends) than "poor" (more disappointment from Fish) by 28.6% to 16.3%.

Poll result: It's M.J. over Steph, easily: Old School won. We asked who win an NBA Finals between Michael Jordan's 72-win 1996 Chicago Bulls and Stephen Curry's current, now-69-win Golden State Warriors, and it was M.J. routing Steph by 61.4 percent to 24.6%. The other 14.0% voted "too close to call."

RockhallROCK HALL: WHICH 2016 INDUCTEE IS MOST (AND LEAST) DESERVING: Music has been and is a huge (Bernie Sanders: Yuuuge) part of my life, and I've followed the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ever since visiting it in Cleveland a couple of years ago. The Hall's 31st annual induction ceremony is this Friday in Brooklyn, and the five latest inductees are listed in this poll alphabetically. I'm curious what you think, so I invite you to vote for the one artist you think is most deserving, whether by your own personal preference or by how you judge that artist's importance or place in music history. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

MERLE HAGGARD, 1937-2016: Merle Haggard died today on his 79th birthday, a huge loss in the country music world. I was (am) a big fan and admirer. I looked forward to seeing him in concert for the first time a few months ago, in Fort Lauderdale, but he canceled days before the show. He had reportedly been in declining health for awhile. We happened to be in Nashville over the past weekend on a small holiday, and visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, which has a video that includes Merle, years ago, doing spot-on impersonations of Johnny Cash and other contemporaries. A friend with us asked, "Is he still alive?" I said, "Oh yes. He still tours!" He would pass away four days later. Haggard had many bigger hits, such as Okie From Muskogee and Mama Tried, but below is a song and video that always gets to me, and does especially today. It is called My Favorite Memory. Thank you, Merle Haggard.There will never be another. R.I.P.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 14, 2016

The new Hot Button Top 10; plus ominous Marlins news, ominous Dolphins odds, Hold Me Closer, Bernie Sanders (the video) & more

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

Valentines1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful wife and to all our abundantly appreciated female readers. I wish you love. 2) ICYMI, click on The Forte Factor for my most recent column on how the Dolphins should explore signing Matt Forte if Lamar Miller leaves and the price is right. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Dolphins/Matt Forte with poll, quantifying Heat's bad 3-point shooting, Panthers' record pace, Dwight Howard, ex-Canes at Combine, Ted Cruz's porn star, Kanye West's weird video game & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEB. 14): WHAT 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Wade, not Bosh rep Heat in All-Star Game in Toronto: Miami entered the break fifth in the East after a week that included the club saying it would retire Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32. Only Dwyane Wade will represent the Heat in Sunday's ASG with a calf strain rendering Chris Bosh a spectator. Do you think between the two of them they could kidnap a 3-point shooter and bring him back to Miami?

2. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Cats hit a lull as Cats chase record: Division-leading Florida continues a six-game homestand vs. Pittsburgh on Monday on pace for the most regular-season points in franchise history. But Florida now has lost four of past five, the last two by a combined 10-3. Uh-oh time?

3. HIGH SCHOOLS: Miami Jackson makes history with female football coach: Jackson High made Bernice Brunson the first female head coach in Florida prep football history, the same day it also named former 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell as defensive boss. Give 'em this: Jackson sure knows how to get your attention.

4. HURRICANES: UM men, women both face big road tests on Sunday: The 12th-ranked Canes men visit rival Florida State on Sunday while the 19th-ranked women play at No. 3 Notre Dame. Can’t recall another year (can you?) when both UM teams were thinking Sweet 16 and it wasn't just wishful thinking.

5. MARLINS: Spring is springing as Marlins prepare to report: Baseball unfurls this coming Friday as Marlins pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Jupiter. Fans hope for a playoff contender under new manager Don Mattingly. Alas, the Marlins betting over/under on wins, 81, is not a playoff number.

6. UM BASEBALL: High hopes as Hurricanes open season: Jim Morris' Hurricanes open their season at home vs. Rutgers with a weekend series starting this coming Friday. UM is No. 6 in the preseason polls. No pressure or anything. Omaha Or Bust, that's all.

7. SOCCER: Beckham seeks outside investors for Miami MLS team: Miami's Major League Soccer pointman David Beckham is seeking investors, and the places he's looking include Russia, China and Qatar. Becuase I guess nobody has money in any countries that would not be a controversial partner.

8. NFL: Denver still celebrating, Manning still deciding: One week later, Denver is still celebrating its Super Bowl win, Peyton Manning is still deciding whether or not to retire, and Cam Newton is still trying to convince people (and maybe himself) that it's OK to be immature and rude in a postgame news conference.

9. DOLPHINS: Slow time but a busy week for Fins: Miami cut two marginal players (Brice McCain, Quinton Coples) in salary-cap moves, tweaked its coaching staff and parted ways with an assistant GM. Perhaps most interesting: Fins could need a RB if Lamar Miller leaves, and Matt Forte just came available. Hmm...

10. VALENTINE'S DAY: Hope you didn't forget it's Sunday, guys: Valentine's Day either originated as a Western Christian liturgical day of feasting in honor of Saint Valentinus, or was invented by Hallmark, I can't remember which.

Missing the cut: His agent confirmed Marshawn Lynch will retire. "No comment," said the media ... USA Curling National Championships ended Saturday in Jacksonville, surprising analysts who didn't know we curled in America ... Hassan Whiteside lost his cool, threw an elbow and got ejected from a Heat game. Or, did that go without saying? ... Two more Cuban baseball stars defected for a shot at MLB riches. Or, did that too go without saying? ... It was announced the intrasquad UM spring game in football would be April 16 at Lockhart Stadium. It'll be Mark Richt's first Canes win. And loss ... Mexico beat Senegal 2-0 in a soccer friendly that drew 15,588 to Marlins Park. Which sounds about right for a Marlins Park crowd ... Congrats to Canes guard Sheldon McClellan, one of 35 candidates for Naismith player of the year award ... Brett Favre headed an eight-man Pro Football Hall of Fame class, which, looking at it, was about three or four men too many ... PGA Tour caddies lost a lawsuit in which they sought compensation for having to wear bibs with advertising. Dear fellas: Your job consists of carrying a golf bag, telling your guy, "178 yards" and collecting up to 10 percent of his earnings for doing very little. Quiet, please! ... Daytona 500 opens the NASCAR schedule next Sunday. "Gentlemen, start your season!" ... Delray Beach Open runs all this week, a second-tier men's pro tennis tournament featuring guys you've barely heard of and hardly care about ... Barcelona entered weekend with a club-record 29-march unbeaten streak. All Barca, plus bite-a. (Sorry) ... MLS announced its best would play English power Arsenal in the league's summer all-star game. Good luck, MLS ... Rockets trying to trade Dwight Howard but he'll be a free agent. Rental, anyone? ... The fast-approaching PGA Tour stop at Doral March 3-6 is just a week or so ahead of the Florida presidential primary. Gee, I wonder if Donald Trump will be here? ... Miami Gun Show ends Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Talk about the perfect Valentine's Day gift!

Poll result: Dolphins should look into Forte, although many disagree: We asked if the Dolphins should explore signing free agent-to-be running back Matt Forte, and it was 55.6 percent yes, 33.4% no and 11.0% undecided.

ZeroOMINOUS INDICATOR FOR MARLINS: Baseball America just came out with its 2016 Top 100 prospects list (click here for complete list), and here are the number of Marlins on it: Zero. Nada. Nil. Zilch. No promising crops growing on the farm. Ouch. That's baseball-unhealthy. Miami needs to remedy that dearth for its long-term success.

Bet66-1NO LOVE FOR DOLPHINS IN BETTING ODDS: Bovada rolls out new post-Super Bowl betting odds on who'll win next year's SB 51, and Patriots are on top at 15-2, followed by Steelers and champion Broncos both 9-1 and Panthers, Packers and Seahawks all 10-1. After the Pats in the AFC East are the Bills and Jets both at 50-1. The Dolphins? Tied for third from the bottom overall at 66-1, ahead of only the Titans and Browns.

"HOLD ME CLOSER, BERNIE SANDERS": That's the title of a new Bernie Sanders tribute parody song, to the tune of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." Includes lyrics. Clever. Pretty funny. Will be interesting to see if Feel The Bern OKs this to play during his campaign:

   

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

Twitter @gregcote

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.

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 12, 2016

Insomniac's Dream: Epic Alabama-Clemson, Heat-Golden State, Panthers streak in the Tuesday wee hours; plus R.I.P. David Bowie, my NFL playoff pix results, your verdict on Dolphins' Gase hiring & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 12. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins hire Gase with reaction poll, Hot Button Top 10, NFL wild-card picks, Cooperstown verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my regular Tuesday gig with the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and also airing on TV on ESPNU and Fusion.

INSOMNIAC'S DREAM: 'BAMA, HEAT AND CATS IN THE TUESDAY WEE HOURS: I spent the first hour of this morning watching Nick Saban almost smile, watching the end of the Panthers' 12-game hockey winning streak, and watching Heat lose gamely in Golden State -- all the while facing a 6:30 alarm to get to South Beach for today's radio show. So if I sound even more delirious than usual on-air today you'll know why... 12:22 a.m.: Alabama finishes 45-40 national-championship win over Clemson. Glad I bet the way-over. I'm not sure if Clemson collapsed or if Alabama's 24-9 fourth quarter was the stuff of greatness. I do know it was a wholly enteraining, nearly epic game. Afterward a typically stoic, naturally angry loooking Saban was coaxed into a smile by a sideline reporter. There was a rusty creaking sound, an emission of hell's gasses and then the release of screeching bats as Saban's lips parted... 12: 41 a.m.: Panthers end 12-game win streak with 3-2 overtime loss in Vancouver. Seconds after game ended the winning goal-scorer skated past the Panthers bench, said something, and a melee ensued. A chaotic scene that even involved coaches. Then it was repoted Cats coach Gerard Gallant waas flying immediately to attend his mother's funeral. It may have ended in ugliness and death, but what a marvelous run the Panthers have been on... 12:53 a.m.: Heat fall 111-103 in Golden State: Miami played very well, had 31 assists as a team, showed an ability to lift its collective game. Dwyane Wade played young. And yet Steph Curry is unstoppable and the champion Warriors are a cut above. No shame in a loss like this. 6:53 a.m.: I better put a bow on this blog item and hit the road or I'll never get to SoBe in time.

AlabamaclemsonALABAMA VS. CLEMSON: YOUR MONEY VS. YOUR HEART: (Note, These polls were posted early yesterday, before the game) No. 2-ranked but favored Alabama faces unbeaten No.1 Clemson tonight for the second College Football Playoff national championship in Glendale, Ariz. I offer to quick polls because I suspect the results may be different. The first poll asks who you think will win. This is your money talking. If you're betting the game, straight-up, and need to choose either the Crimson Tide or Tigers, who would you predict to win? The second poll asks who you want to win. This is your heart talking. Which team would you more like to see celebrating around midnight tonight? We invite your thoughts on both questions.

R.I.P., DAVID BOWIE, 1947-2016: One of the most fascinating cultural figures of our time passed away on Sunday after an unpublicized 18-month fight Bowie1 Bowie2with cancer. David Bowie had turned 69 three days earlier. He leaves us with a soon-to-be-released new album, Blackstar, that was recorded as he knew he was dying and is darkly reflective of that. Bowie's career, music but also acting, defied convention and definition. Others of his time in pop music, such as Elton John, enjoyed more mainstream, commercial success. But Bowie won critics' hearts with his lack of convention, his experimentation, his theatrics. He was The Thin White Duke, and Ziggy Stardust. He was glam, he was androgynous, he was relentlessly fascinating. How many times, and how loudly, did I blast "Rebel, Rebel." Bowie was a big part of my personal soundtrack through the years. I have much of his music, spanning decades, in my collection. I regret I never saw him perform live. I'll miss him. I think I already do.

 

FripixNFL PIX WILD-CARD PLAYOFF RESULTS: We caught a break or two to finish 3-1 overall on our first-round NFL playoff picks. (Thank you, Blair Walsh). But we went only 1-3 against the spread. We gambled big and lost big thinking Texans, at home, would surprise Chiefs. Instead it was the weekend's biggest rout going in the opposite (for me the wrong) direction. My preseason Super Bowl pick -- Packers over Patriots -- remains alive with both of my dogs still in the hunt as playoffs move forward down from 12 teams to eight.

Poll result: Dolphins' Gase hiring met with mostly dislike, but with warming trend: We asked what you thought of the Dolphins hiring Adam Gase as head coach (you may still vote), and it was "love" 9.7 percent, "like" 32.6%, "don't like" 40.5% and "hate" 17.2%. That's negative beating positive 57.7%  to 42.3%. However, it is notable that the negative percentage was running around 64-36 initially, when the hiring first was reported as imminent and then just happened. Voting was closer to 50-50 in the second wave, after Gase was introduced and fans had a chance to hear from him and from others about him.

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

Twitter @gregcote