August 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rank Player                   WTF#  @120

1  Dee Gordon                  430.9    1

2  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   358.0   3

4  Martin Prado              308.1    6

5  Christian Yelich         286.3   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         286.1   5

7  Marcell Ozuna            264.2   8

8  Justin Bour                 260.6    7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              228.6   9

10  Derek Dietrich          195.1   10

11  Cole Gillespie            140.1   --

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

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

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

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

August 14, 2015

PS1: @Chicago 27, Dolphins 10 (Final): Forget the score. Dolfans should be more encouraged than discouraged. My postgame thoughts; plus why is NBA ruining Christmas? New poll. Vote!; also Fins playoff likelihood, tennis sex scandal & more

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

1aa1acolinbeer1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 14. Defrocked ESPN voice Colin Cowherd now has his own beer. Oh Lord how I wish I were kidding. Click on image at left to see enlarged version. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jam-packed! Mayweather-Rousey poll, complete Heat schedule, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins' next manager, latest 'Back In My Day,' Drone Racing League, Joe Goodman, MNF broadcasters list & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1abuffettHey, waaaiiit a minute, Jimmy!: I thought Jimmy Buffett was our guy!? Mr. Key West, Mr. Landshark, a Heat fan, Fins Up, all that. Wasn't Buffett assumed to be a Dolphins fan too? Well, hmm. Here's Jimmy pictured today attending a Saints practice, standing beside former Dolphins and now Saints PR guy Fitz Ollison. Say it ain't so, Jim!

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Our DSM postgame blog polls will be back for another season this year -- but not tonight or during the preseason. They begin with the regular season. 

Fins playoff shot guesstimated at 44%: Numberfire.com, an analytics site, has its AFC East preview out today (read here) and predicts Miami for second in the division behind the Patriots. It puts Dolphins' playoff shot at 44.2 percent, with a 24.4% shot to be division champ and a wins over/under of 8.4. 

THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS: FOOTBALL'S BACK!: Final thoughts--This may strike some as strange after a 27-10 loss pockmarked by four turnovers, but I'd think Dolphins fans ought not be real disappointed right now. When it was Ryan Tannehill out there, and Ndamukong Suh on the other side -- when it was the Miami starters vs. Chicago's starters -- Miami looked very good. It was the backups and scrubs who squandered the early lead and the win. That suggests Miami's depth may be suspect. But if you judge this game, as you should, by how Miami looked at its best, the night was more encouraging than discouraging. ..... 4Q--Freeman INT is Miami's fourth turnover. Ugh. ... Dolphins scrubs give up 54Y scoring run for 27-10 score. MIA has done nothing since the starters went out. ... Josh Freeman in at QB for Miami. ... Oy! Bethel-Thompson (soon to be a former Dolphin) is intercepted again, leads to  Bears FG and 20-10 score. ..... 3Q--Bethel-Thompson intercepted to put Dolphins lead in peril. Sure enough, CHI coverts for TD run and two-point conversion for 17-10 lead in quarter's last seconds. MIA safety Cedric Thompson had chance to be a hero on 4th-down scoring run but was not. ... Pandas within 10-9 as Fins D stiffens in the red zone. ... A man named "Aultman" just caught a pass for Miami. Preseason opener! ... Penalties, now a lost fumble. Certainly not a flawless game by Fins. ..... 2Q--MIA 10-3 on Sturgis 31Y FG after squandered drive into red zone. ... You know it's a preseason opener when you look up and notice your QB is a person named "McLeod Bethel-Thompson." He replaced Matt Moore, who replaced Tanny. ... True to expectations, most defensive starters now out, too. ..... 1Q--Defense looking stout, too, but what a dropoff in run-D when Ndamukong Suh isn't in. ... Tannehill, many other offense starters out after only one series. He was 6-for-7. Like a razor, he was. ... MIA 7-0: Bottle that drive. Save it for September. Tannehill sharp enough to overcome two holding penalties. ..... Original post: The Day of the Dolphin was a not-very-good 1973 sci-fi thriller starring George C. Scott. This is the Day of the Dolphins -- the preseason opener tonight at 1aa1adayof 1aa1adayof2Chicago that tangibly kicks off the franchise's 50th anniversary season. Will the Dolphins be very good as the buzz suggests? Let the hints begin, although whether Miami wins or loses tonight won't be much of a barometer. Exhibition openers rarely are, as I detail in today's latest column. Click on Results Don't Matter (Yet) For Dolphins, But Football's Back to read in full. Look for Dolphins starters to play only the first quarter, if that. I'd expect Ryan Tannehill goes one series, maybe two. Trained eyes will be on the guard play as a handful of contenders try to determine if Miami has two suitable starters to flank center Mike Pouncey. It also will be interesting to see Ndamukong Suh, in a new uniform, facing his longtime former division rivals, albeit briefly. Coach Joe Philbin will devote the first two exhibitions to settling his depth chart and roster, with an eye on making the third exhibition the first real we-wanna-win dress rehearsal.

JESUS! NBA'S CHRISTMAS DAY OBSESSION AGAIN RUINS MIAMI'S HOLIDAY: In the previous blogpost we 1aa1achristmasnbalisted the entire 2015-16 Heat regular-season schedule released yesterday. It includes a Heat home game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas Day -- a noon tipoff that will be the first of a record five NBA games played on the holiday. I can tell you from past conversations that neither NBA players nor TV announcers like working on Christmas. I know I don't. For many of us, whether it's for religious or family reasons, Christmas is a day to be home, and certainly not a day to work. Yet the NBA embraces Christmas as its own stage to a degree beyond other leagues. I wonder whether the NBA's leadership being Jewish -- David Stern to Adam Silver -- weighs anything in this league treating Christmas not as an occasion to be off but as just another play day? Hey, I'm just asking!

TENNIS SEX SCANDAL!: So Stan Wawrinka, the reigning French Open champion and world's No. 5- 1aa1adonnavranked man, is playing Nick Kyrgios in the Montreal Masters last night in a heated match and, during a walk past each between sets, an open on-court mic picks up Kyrgios saying to Wawrinka, "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate." The reference was to a fellow ATP player, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and to Wawrinka's girlfriend, WTA player Donna Vekic, 19. Kyrgios did not deny what was heard, explaining Wawrinka had been getting "lippy." Wawrinka has responded angrily on Twitter, calling for the tour to discipline Kyrgios. Vekic is pictured. She may or may not be gesturing that she has two lovers, one for each hand. Ouch. Too soon?

Updated World Series odds: Out today via Bovada, Toronto Blue Jays are the new World Series favorites at 4-1. Others sub 10-1 are Royals at 5-1, Dodgers and Cardinals both 8-1 and Mets -- the Mets! -- at 9-1. Your Marlins are a tidy bargain at 2,000-to-1.

Poll result: Rousey beats Mayweather in no-holds-barred fight: Very few of our poll results surprise me, but this one sort of did. We asked who'd win in a no-holds-barred, MMA-style fight, and it was Ronda Rousey over Floyd Mayweather Jr., 56.1 percent to 43.9. 

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

July 06, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 22, 2015

Cote does Paris. A travelogue; plus Heat draft projection, new 'Weighing The Fish', latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), me Periscope, Dolphins still King & more

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

1aa1adad1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 23. No radio today. I'll be in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show on Friday this week instead. 2) Hope all my fellow padres had a great Father's Day. My wife and sons sure made it one for me! 3) Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, was off a second straight week but will return June 28. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Ultimate Favorite South Florida Sports Team poll. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

Heat draft projection: NBA Draft is Thursday night, Miami selects 10th overall, and Sports Illustrated's 1aa1adekkerlatest mock draft today predicts Heat will choose 6-9 Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker (pictured). SI's synopsis: "Dekker has shot well in recent workouts, including in Detroit and Sacramento, alleviating some of the concern about his perimeter game. Still, Dekker is one of the draft's biggest wild cards. He could go anywhere from 10-20. Miami will eventually need a small forward to supplant Luol Deng. Dekker — who has NBA size and athleticism — is the kind of player the Heat could groom." Meanwhile, newly out via Bovada, Miami is 33-1 to win the NBA title in 2016, tied for 10th best odds. Early favorites are Cleveland at 3-1, Golden State 5-1 and Oklahoma City 7-1.

Me on Periscope: I'm newly on Periscope @gregcote and posted my first video last evening. Join us if you'd like and we'll try to have some fun. 

COTE DOES PARIS, PARIS SURVIVES: We spent eight recent days in Paris. My wife had always wanted to go, so I finally took her. By that I mean it was her idea, and she did all the planning and organizing. I 1aa1acotemagfind the key to a successful marriage is me staying out of trouble and just being along for the ride. We had a suite at the boutique-y Hotel McMahon, a short walk from the Champs-Elysees (one of the world's great boulevards) and the Charles de Gaulle Metro stop. We rode the Metro a lot, and it was terrific. From our room we could see the Arc de Triomphe. Cote is a common surname in France and means "coast," so we saw it a lot in names of restaurants, shops and the magazine pictured. Cote Magazine. Weird. Now, a daily travelogue...

Day 1: After an overnight flight we arrived in Paris very early last Thursday morning and toured the city on Big Bus while waiting for our room to be ready. Got together with fellow Herald sports writer Michelle Kaufman, her husband Dave Barry and their daughter Sophie, who were a few days from leaving as we got there. Dined at Aux Anysetiers du Roy, and had the best beef bourguignon of my life. What a city for gastronomes!

Day 2: Spent hours at the Musee Rodin with Michelle et al and was surprised to find out so many of the 1aa1athinkermost noted sculptures -- including The Thinker -- are situated outdoors. That outdoor promenade of fine art was stunning. Stopped in local shops to buy wine, bread, cheeses and fruit for a picnic lunch against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. Idyllic. Nourished, we climbed to La Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmarie, a famed church that is the highest point of Paris. It is not a religious experience, but a carnival, with throngs of tourists and sometimes-aggressive vendors peddling cheap souvenirs. We dined at an magnificent Indian restaurant near the church.

Day 3: On our own after bidding adieu to our friends, we did The Louvre, probably the 1aa1amemonaworld's most famous museum, home to the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo among other priceless works. Da Vinci's Mona Lisa has a huge room all to itself, such are the crowds queuing for a look. Pictured left: Me taking a shameless selfie with Mona in the background. We also visited the less famous but exquisite Musee d'Orsay, which I preferred to The Louvre. D'Orsay is an Impressionist lover's paradise, with works by Renoir, Cezanne, Monet and more. Dined with balcony seating and thoroughly undeserved VIP treatment at the famed Moulin Rouge, where the 2001 Medoc Bourdeaux may have been the finest wine I have ever enjoyed.

Day 4: Took a river cruise along the Seine, which separates the heart of Paris from its 1aa1aarcLeft Bank. Lunched at Cafe Gustave. Went up in the Eiffel Tower (because tourists have to; it's practically the law) and had champagne overlooking the city. Visited the Arc de Triomphe, then ate Thai food. The Arc lit at night (pictured) is breathtaking, and worth the wait, considering it doesn't get dark in Paris until around 9:30 or 10 p.m.

Day 5: Monday now. Did the Musee L'Armee, the military museum that includes Napoleon's Tomb. Lunched at Ristorante Scala. Fun sidetrip to an out of the way local museum dedicated to chocolate. Visited the famed Notre Dame church (where again we observed a serious presence of police with military-grade weapons around major tourist areas, de rigeur security ever since the terrorist attacks on the city's Charlie Hedbo newspaper). Had dinner and champagne at Cafe de Deaville, then a stroll along the Champs-Elysees.

1aa1agardensmonetDay 6: Bused an hour outside Paris to Giverny, France and the home and gardens of Claude Monet until his death. The gardens pictured that inspired his art make it one of the loveliest acres on Earth. Had lunch with wine in Normandy at Le Moulin de Fourges, then bused to the famed Versailles, which (like The Louvre) lost points with me because of its popularity and crowds. Giverny was an absolute delight, though. Dinner at Caffe de Caesar.

Day 7: Took a three-hour guided, walking tour of Paris that was a delight because it delved off the beaten paths and into neighborhoods. Fell in love with the French cheese, Cantal, over lunch. Did a bunch of browsing and shopping. Dined at the funky La Petit Acacia.

1aa1aartfoodDay 8: In wind-down mode on our last full day in Paris, we visited Plaza de Bastille, enjoyed the best mussels I have ever eaten at the Belgian restaurant Leon, and later fine-dined at the upscale La Fermette Marbeuf just off the Champs-Elysees. This was the view from our table; you feel as if you are dining inside an art museum.

On the ninth day we flew home full of memories and thoroughly impressed by Paris, its people and sights. Highly recommend the visit. Postscript for the stereotype-inlcined: The entire time we were there, I think we saw two people wearing berets, and not a single street mime.

WEIGHING THE FISH (70 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games 1aa1afishweighcumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Weighing The Fish skipped the 60-game edition because we were away on vacation. Here's WTF after 70 games (actually 71 at 30-41; oops again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @50

1  Giancarlo Stanton      344.4    1

2  Dee Gordon                  272.3    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria  218.3   3

4  Marcell Ozuna            209.6   5

5  Martin Prado              201.5   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         162.9    6

7  Christian Yelich        156.8   9

8  Ichiro Suzuki              130.4   8

9  Justin Bour                 129.0   7

10  Michael Morse            91.7   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 4, Gordon 2.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. NBA: Golden State wins. More accurately, LeBron loses!: There were two winners in the NBA Finals: Golden State and Miami -- the Warriors for beating Cleveland, and jilted Heat fans because LeBron James lost. LeBron still hasn't won a title without Dwyane Wade. By the way.

2. SOCCER: U.S. advances in Women’s World Cup: The win-or-out matches started last night for the United States team, vs. Colombia, with a 2-0 USA win in the Women's World Cup in Canada. Unlike the American men, the U.S. women could actually win this thing, and have reached the quarterfinals. "Let's gooooo States!"

3. HEAT: NBA Draft, Wade decision on deck: The NBA Draft is Thursday night in Brooklyn, with Miami selecting 10th overall. More importantly, also coming up soon is Dwyane Wade's decision whether to opt-out and explore leaving the Heat. Say it ain't so, Dwyane. Heat fans mean that literally. Say it ain't so.

4. MARLINS: Fish prepare for long homestand: Fish open a nine-game homestand tonight with Jose Fernandez's return drawing nearer. Team has been about the same under Dan Jennings (14-19, .424) since he replaced Mike Redmond (16-22, .421), verifying that managers have very little do with a team's record. Season still a slogging disappointment, but at least we get to watch Giancarlo Stanton hit.

5. GOLF: Jordan Spieth wins U.S. Open: Jordan Spieth, 21, won the U.S. Open in Washington State after earlier winning the Masters. Meantime a former Spieth-like phenom named Tiger Woods (remember him?) fizzled and didn't even make the cut. It may be time to stop waiting for Tiger to find his old form and just assume he never will.

6. ALEX RODRIGUEZ: A-Rod records 3,000th hit: In storybook fashion, Yankee (and Miami-raised) Alex Rodriguez made a home run his 3,000th career hit in becoming the 29th player to reach that plateau. Unfortunately for A-Rod, steroids rewrote that storybook for all time.

7. PANTHERS: Cats prepare to host NHL Draft: As Chicago still celebrates its Stanley Cup win over Tampa Bay, the hockey draft is coming to Sunrise this Friday and Saturday. I suppose if Cats fans can't enjoy the playoffs, this at least is a consolation prize of sorts.

8. DOLPHINS: Now comes to wait until training camp: The OTA (Organized Team Activity) practice days are done. The three-day June mini-camp is finished. Now comes the wait as Dolfans look forward to the late-July start of Miami's full training camp, ready or not.  

9. HURRICANES: UM baseball disappoints at College World Series: Maybe getting to Omaha for first time since 2008 made it a good season for The U, but two lopsided losses to the Florida Gators, of all teams, wrote a sour ending for Jim Morris' Canes.

10. 'BALLERS': New HBO series premieres: Ballers is the Dwyane (The Rock) Johnson series that HBO describes as "centered around a group of football players and their families, friends, and handlers," and it premiered Sunday night. It involved scandals and misbehaving players getting trouble. True to life, in other words. Enjoyed the premiere. Show has promise. Had heard Master Thespian Dan Le Batard had a cameo, but it wasn't in the premiere.

Poll result: Dolphins still King of South Florida sports: We listed Greater Miami's biggest pro and college teams, asked which is your favorite, and the Dolphins reigned with 48.2 percent. Only the football Hurricanes were in the neighborhood at 34.7%, with the Heat a distant third with 8.0%. The Marlins (2.7%) and hockey Panthers (2.6%) rounded out the top five.

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

June 09, 2015

"Let's goooooooo States!" U.S. wins Women's World Cup opener; plus LeBron wins again, naughty Miami, Marlins' No. 1 draft pick, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 9. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with keeping Dwyane Wade in Miami. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron James hate-watch poll, UM to Omaha, women's World Cup, D.Wade's PR genius, Dolphins next-best verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Miami second-naughtiest city: C'mon, Miami, we can do better than No. 2, can't we? A survey by a dating site called OnMutualTerms.com polled 3,528 men and women on the best American cities for "casual encounters" and the top five were Philadelphia, Miami, Seattle, New Orleans and Las Vegas. One question. Philadelphia!?

"U-S-A! U-S-A!" AMERICANS WIN WOMEN'S WORLD CUP OPENER: Update: U.S. looked very strong last evening in dispatching Australia 3-1 in its WWC opener in Canada, led by two goals from Megan Rapinoe (pictured). If Alex  Morgan attains full fitness during this run, I like Team USA's chances for its first World Cup triumph since 1999. Original post: I toss my journalistic neutrality theatrically out the window, like Dave 1aa1awwc 1aa1ameganrapLetterman used to toss watermelons off tall buildings, when it comes to stuff like the Olympics and World Cups. I root for the United States, openly, unabashedly and
with gusto. I become a homer. So I am excited the U.S. women's national soccer team debuting vs. Australia tonight in Winnipeg in the Women's World Cup being held in Canada. I'm excited for patriotic, dare say jingoistic reasons, and also because the women of Abby Wambach, Morgan and bad-girl Hope Solo represent the best America has to offer in female sports. Only Serena Williams, in tennis, is at that level where unrelenting excellence is expected. Much about women's sports doesn't seem to interest America much (women's golf and the WNBA come to mind), but top-level soccer does because it appeals to the frontrunner in us. These women are good. Men's soccer wants to be what the women are: Top-tier contenders on the world stage. This is the seventh WWC, and the U.S. never has finished worse than third place, including championships in 1991 and '99 and a heart-breaking runnerup finish four years ago. But Brandi Chastain & The Sports Bra were a long time ago now. We're due. (Yes, I said we). Most experts rate the U.S. and Germany. So I say it again: "Let's go-ooooooo States!"

MARLINS PICK A SURPRISE IN MLB DRAFT: It pales in national media attention and general interest compared to the NFL and even NBA 1aa1ajoshndrafts, but baseball's annual draft began last night, and the Marlins surprised most experts -- yes, there are baseball mock drafts -- by selecting Canadian prep first baseman Josh Naylor (pictured) in the first round, 12th overall. They list Naylor as 6-1 and 225 pounds. Hmm. This pic must have been taken after a particularly large meal as Naylor displays something of a Babe Ruth physique. As long as the Babe bat comes with it, we're OK. First South Florida player drafted was Miami Hurricanes lefty pitcher Andy Suarez in the second round, 61st overall, by the Nationals. UM and Jim Morris are both preparing for the start of the College World Series and also keeping an eye on the draft, especially where slugging third baseman David Thompson is selected today. He'll likely turn pro if drafted high enough to suit him, but otherwise may return for another season at UM. 

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. NBA: Battered, not beaten, Cavs win Game 3 behind LeBron, again: Already  missing Kevin Love, Cleveland couldn't beat Golden State in Game 1 despite 44 points from LeBron James. Now they'd be missing Kyrie Irving the rest of the series, too. Facing a crucial Game 2 back out west, James said, accurately: "People are writing us off." (Added a grinning, high-fiving Miami: "I know we are!') Well, get me rewrite. LeBron scores 39, has a triple-double and Cleveland ties series, then scores 40 in Game 3 last night to put Cavs up 2-1 in Cleveland.

2. HORSE RACING: American Pharoah runs into history books: Since Affirmed in 1978, 13 horses had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness then failed to win the Belmont and finish the Triple Crown -- before American Pharoah finally ended that drought in triumph Saturday. (Quick aside: The word is actually spelled “pharaoh,” of course. Somebody buy that horse’s parents a dictionary!)

3. HURRICANES: Omaha! UM baseball back in College World Series: UM swept Virginia Commonwealth in the NCAA Super Regional here to qualify for the CWS for the first time since 2008, in search of Miami's fifth national title and first since '01. Only in college baseball do you hear anybody talk about being in Omaha, Nebraska as a life’s goal and highlight.

4. MARLINS: Fish show signs of life, take another series: Fish got spanbked last night in Toronto but before that in Colorado the Marlins won their third series in a row and fourth in the past five. Meanwhile Giancarlo Stanton is on a home-run tear (18) and Jose Fernandez is due back soon. I'd say things are looking up for replacement-manager Dan Jennings, but, with the Marlins, that’s usually a precursor to something exploding.

5. SOCCER: Europe final, Women’s World Cup come at right time: Lionel Messi's Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 Saturday in Europe’s Champions League final, same day the Women’s World Cup opened in Canada. (The U.S. began last night with a 3-1 win over Australia). Thank you, Europe and women, for helping remind us it's still the beautiful game despite the stink of corrupted FIFA and resigning-in-shame Sepp Blatter.

6. HOCKEY: Tampa Bay surges to lead in Stanley Cup Finals: While Panthers fans try to recall what the playoffs are, Tampa Bay beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 last night for a 2-1 series lead in the NHL finals. Meanwhile desperate Canada, which invented hockey but last celebrated a championship in 1993, has dispatched a covert team of special-ops Mounties to kidnap the Stanley Cup.

7. TENNIS: Williams wins French, but Djokovic upset loser: Heavily favored Serena Williams won the Franch Open women's title on Saturday, but No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Novak Djokovic was upset on Sunday by Stan Wawrinka for the men's title. Stan Wawrinka!? So much for me making fun of tennis' predictability by suggesting they saved time by engraving both trophies before tournament even started.

8. CAITLYN JENNER: Bruce's transformation sparks fascination: Former Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner, a transgender, became Caitlyn Jenner, debuted herself on the cover of Vogue and set a record for becoming the quickest person ever to reach 1 million Twitter followers. And me, still stuck at 18,000 and change. Hmm. Something to think about...

9. DOLPHINS: For Fins, it was a bad week for feet: Haven't even reached preseason mini-camp yet, but last week top draft pick DeVante Parker underwent foot surgery (he should be ready for the season), and kicker Caleb Sturgis injured his foot while playing, of all things, kickball. A kicker being injured playing kickball is a little like the fire chief burning his hand on the stove.

10. HEAT: Wade attends graduation, gets TV gig: Never dull around Dwyane Wade. Last week he was invited and attended Western High's graduation ceremony, and then was part of ABC's Finals coverage on Sunday night. Meantime it remains up in air if Heat will pay Wade what he wants or see him test free agency. Maybe on TV Sunday Dwyane should have appeared disheveled in shockingly unfashionable, tattered clothes and held up a hand-drawn cardboard sign reading, 'Will Stay In Miami For Millions.'

Missing the cut: Tiger Woods shoots am 85, Monday's MLB draft, Al Golden's football camps, WNBA begins, A-Rod's cousin sentenced, Adeiny Hechavarria's shoe collection.

Poll result: Animus toward LeBron still percolating: No, Heat fans have not forgiven LeBron James the way he left Miami. We asked (you may still vote) and 63.3 percent are rooting against LeBron in the NBA Finals versus only 12.7% rooting for him. The other votes were split among 10.3% who are "sort of conflicted," 10.2% "not interested or watching" and 3.5% "pretending to not be interested."

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

June 06, 2015

Omaha! Canes headed to College World Series; plus LeBron James/NBA Finals hate-watch poll, D.Wade's PR masterstroke, "U-S-A!", Dolphins' next-best verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 6. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins next-best poll, Weighing The Fish, LeBatard Tweets, Florida title teams, Jenner verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1acwsCANES HEADED TO COLLEGE WORLD SERIES: Host Miami beat Virginia Commonwealth again today, 10-3, sweeping the best-of-
three NCAA Super Regional in two games. That means Jim Morris' 1aa1abbtheuHurricanes are headed back to the College World Series in Omaha for the first time since 2008, in search of the school's fifth national championship and first since '01. UM won the opener on Friday, 3-2. Click on The Promised Land for my column from the first game. Morris called Omaha "the promised land." Today, they got there.

LEBRON MASTERFUL BUT GOLDEN STATE, HEAT FANS TAKE GAME 1: It had to be weird for the sizable LeBron 1aa1ajameslebHaters wing of Heat fandom to watch last night, reveling in Golden State's 108-100 OT win over Cleveland in Game 1 of the NBA Finals but also grudgingly reminded of LeBron's beyond-greatness as he scored 44 points in defeat. The Warriors strategy seems clear: LeBron cannot beat us alone and, unfortunately for him, has nobody else. He took 38 shots, but only four in the paint. Now, with Kyrie Irving apparently injured (again), the idea of LeBron as a one-man Army is underlined.Last night was so the game Cleveland had to steal. Now, Golden State's favorite's role seems greater than ever. Most Miami fans will smile at that. But they also should be marveling with appreciation at LeBron's greatness -- and longing for what they lost even if they won't admit it.

"U-S-A! U-S-A!" WOMEN'S WORLD CUP NEAR: I toss my journalistic neutrality theatrically out the window, like Dave Letterman used to toss watermelons off tall buildings, when it comes to stuff like the 1aa1aalexmorganOlympics and World Cups. I root for the United States, openly, unabashedly and with gusto. I become a homer. So I am excited the U.S. women's national soccer team debuts vs. Australia on Monday in the Women's World Cup being held in Canada, starting tomorrow/Saturday. I'm excited for the patriotic reasons mentioned, and also because the women of Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan (pictured) and Hope Solo represent the best America has to offer in female sports. Only Serena Williams, in tennis, is at that level where unrelenting excellence is expected. Much about women's sports doesn't interest America much (women's golf, the WNBA), but top-level soccer does because it appeals to the frontrunner in us. These women are good. Men's soccer wants to be what the women are: Top contenders on the world stage. This is the seventh WWC, and the U.S. never has finished worse than third, including championships in 1991 and '99 and a heart-breaking runnerup finish four years ago. We're due. (Yes, I said we). Most experts rate the U.S. and Germany. So I say it again: "Let's go-ooooooo States!"

1aa1awadewesternWADE'S MASTERY OF PUBLIC RELATIONS: I'm not couching this negatively. What Dwyane Wade just did was a very neat thing. A student at Broward's Western High named Negeen Fallahzedeh had started a #WadetoWestern hashtag campaign on Twitter last summer to get the Heat star to drop in on her class' graduation ceremony. And he did! The selfie at right proves it. Dwyane has done this sort of thing before. I think his desire to make small dreams come true is genuine. But this also is a public-relations masterstroke that serves another purpose. It reminds us -- coming in the early stages of what could be a messy contract renegotiation -- how integral Wade is with this community, and how popular he is. To the point, it reminds the Heat, who must decide how much he is still worth.

Poll result: Zonk in a landslide for Dolphins' "next best" player: We conceded Dan Marino as greatest Dolphins player of all time and asked in the previous blogpost who was No. 2 (you may still vote), and among seven choices Larry Csonka dominated with 50.3 percent of the vote. Then came Jason Taylor with 19.7% and Bob Griese with 15.9%.

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

June 02, 2015

Bruce Jenner introduces Caitlyn. What do you think? New poll. Vote now!; plus Sepp Blatter resigns, UM reaches NCAA Super-Regional, Marlins demote Cishek, Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with NBA, Wade, pucks, tennis, horses & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today on radio (3-7 The Ticket Miami and 4-7 ESPN Radio) and on TV (4-7 Fusion). 

Sepp Blatters resigns: FIFA's president resigned today, four days after being reelected, in the midst of a bribery/corruption scandal. "I am the president of everyone," he had said. Now he is the president of nobody. Assumption: Blatter knows the hammer is coming, that he likely is to be imminently indicted in the scandal.

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 2. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade/Heat impasse with poll, UM-FIU feud, Dolphins uniform rank, FIFA verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1acaitlynBRUCE JENNER IS NOW CAITLYN: Former Olympic decathlon champion and Wheaties box cover-boy Bruce Jenner completed his transgender transition to her this week, unveiling Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vogue. This is a lot for many of us to wrap our heads around. There was Chastity Bono (Sonny & Cher's daughter) becoming a man named Chaz. But clearly, Jenner is the most prominent American athlete and celebrity to transgender, at least by my eye. His periphery to the Kardashian clan and all of that attendant tabloid fame makes the story only bigger still. The attention to this is such that Jenner, on Monday, became the fastest person ever to go from no Twitter to 1 million-plus followers, surpassing Barack Obama's record. I'm curious what our readers think of Bruce becoming Caitlyn. I think it takes courage -- balls, as it were -- to do this so publicly, at this age. I say good for her. Now it's your turn. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Canes 21, Columbia 3: Miami Hurricanes had lost at home to Columbia, 3-0, in the NCAA Regional, forcing a winner-take-all game between the teams last night. (Click on The Victim of Charming for my column from that game. I wrote that Columbia University, an Ivy League team, was a charming little story that threatened to crush mighty UM). Last night, though, order was restored, with Miami cruising into next week's super-regional, also here, a best 2-out-of-3 vs. Virginia Commonwealth.

"There are only five people still alive who were born in the 1800s. I wonder who the other four are?" --Greg Cote

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. FIFA: Scandalized soccer body re-elects Blatter: Federal corruption and bribery indictments rocked soccer's world governing body, yet unindicted president Sepp Blunder Blatter was re-elected the very same week despite being ultimately responsible for FIFA's messy shame. Imagine if Richard Nixon had won reelection at the height of Watergate? This was that.

2. MARLINS: Stanton blasts awaken struggling Fish: With Cubs in town for three, the Marlins are now 4-9 under new manager Dan Jennings and last night demoted struggling closer Steve Cishek to Double-A to work on his mechanics. But Miami had won two of three at the Mets -- one thanks to four home runs including a pair by Giancarlo Stanton. (Isn't it amazing how much better Jennings seems as a manager when his team hits four homers?)

3. NBA: It's a Golden State-Cleveland Finals, as expected: From the moment playoffs began it seemed inevitable LeBron James and league MVP Steph Curry would meet in the Finals. And they will. Eventually. Game 1 is Thursday night after a full week's delay since the conference finals. Don't worry, Miami. Before long it'll be time to boo and hate-watch LeBron again.

4. HEAT: Wade camp turns up contract heat on Heat: It was reported the Heat and Dwyane Wade are significantly apart on money, and that Wade may ponder leaving in free agency. In other words, Wade's people used the media to put a little public pressure on the team. Few believe Wade actually will leave, but it makes for a neat little diversion while waiting for the NBA Finals.   

5. COLLEGE BASEBALL: UM prevails in must-win, advances: The Miami Hurricanes were in the NCAA Regional championship game in their own ballpark last night and clobbered Columbia, 21-3. Miami is now two wins from advancing past the super-regional, also here, next weekend. Next time the Canes play a road game, it had better be in Omaha.

6. NHL: Stanley Cup Finals set after two Game 7 semis: Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning went the distance to play for Lord Stanley's chalice, beginning with Game 1 Wednesday night in Tampa. (Dear NBA: That's how to stage two exciting semis and get right to a Finals).

7. TENNIS: French Open passes its midpoint: It's now past midpoint of the red-clay major, and looking like No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic could unseat French champion Rafael Nadal on the men's side. In women's half, upset-loss by defending champ Maria Sharapova appears to clear path for top-seeded Serena Williams.

8. HORSE RACING: American Pharoah's moment nears: We are four days now from the 147th Belmont Stakes. More important, we are four days until American Pharoah tries to become first horse since 1978 to win a Triple Crown. This is the year it actually happens. No, seriously. I think. Maybe.

9. WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: U.S. among favorites: Women's soccer owns its quadrennial stage in the month-long World Cup starting this coming Saturday in Canada, with the United States and Germany generally considered co-favorites. FIFA may be shamed, but the game is still beautiful.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins continues offseason OTAs: Miami's second organized team activity (OTA) practice day was Monday. This is all very exciting, for those intensely interested in how their team practices more than three months from the start of the season. You know you're desperate for news when the big story is the kicker being injured and out for a few weeks.

Missing the cut: WNBA season opens. NBA Draft ahead. National Spelling Bee ends in a tie between Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar, who successfully spelled each other's name.

Poll result: Mixed feelings on Heat/Wade contract matter: We asked and 51.4 percent said Dwyane Wade at this point in his career should be satisfied with less money but another 41.8% said Heat should pay him the max for all he's done. The other 6.8% were undecided or unsure.

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

May 27, 2015

FIFA scandal, my Blatter-must-go column and poll. Vote now!; plus NBA Finals odds, also Gordon, Stanton on ASG pace, 'Fish In the Dark', Abbot & Costello Marlins, Dolphins win May & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, a salute to Memorial Day (50,000 Names), UM/MLS stadium verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Gordon, Stanton on pace to start in All-Star Game: First NL All-Star voting trends are out, with a double dose of desperately needed good news Marlins and Marlfans. Dee Gordon leads all second basemen in voting, and Giancarlo Stanton is third among outfielders -- both on pace to start.

Tap breaks on Dolphins: Fins had their first OTA (organized team activity) practice day this week and it was decorated as a symbolic start to the 2015 season, with much made in particular about how good Ndamukong Suh looked. All of which earns the following two-word commentary: "It's freakin' May!"  

THE FIFA CORRUPTION SCANDAL: Yesterday's indictment in Switzerland of 14 persons including nine 1aa1afifacurrent or former FIFA officials is the biggest story in global sports. It also is big in America, considering the U.S. is behind the lengthy investigation and is extraditing the accused for prosecution. Click on Blatter Must Go for my latest column, online and in today's inky pulp editions. I write that now is the time for a clean break. FIFA president Sepp Blatter (pictured artfully blurry at right) has presided over 17 years of sporadic but seemingly unending scandal -- including controversy over the awarding of the 2018 and '22 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Blatter should resign or be voted out of office in Friday's election. Doubt either will happen, but we can dream. Meanwhile, weigh in on how serious you think this latest FIFA story is.

LEBRON BREEZES TO FINALS. NEXT STOP: HEARTACHE: Cleveland Cavaliers fans are delusional, in 1aa1alebonrgeneral, I think, but especially as they view this Cavs team and the upcoming NBA Finals vs. Golden State. (Warriors clinched last night). We can forgive Cavs fans naturally thinking that having LeBron James is the panacea that overcomes all. Miami and Heat fans can relate. But Clevelanders resist the reality check that LeBron and mates will be a clear underdog (see below) vs. Steph Curry and the Warriors. It will be interesting to see LeBron in that unfamiliar role. For many in Miami, it will be delicious. By the way, J.R. Smith posted on Instagram his team's hot-tub party after the Cavs swept Atlanta in the East finals ... just in case you didn't dislike LeBron quite enough. Click here to watch.

Warriors clear faves over Cavs: SportsBettingDime.com today has Golden State a 4-9 favorite to win the NBA Finals, with Cleveland at 16-7. Warriors in six games is likeliest pick at 18-7. Finals MVP odds are Steph Curry 2-3, LeBron James 2-1 and the field at 12-1.

MARLINS A MODERN-DAY ABBOT & COSTELLO ROUTINE: After turning its general manager into the manager and then raising eyebrows with a pool celebration after finally winning to end an earlier eight-game losing streak, the Marlins' sudden demotion of Brett Butler from third-base coach to outfield and base-running duties continues the notion that the ballclub is flying by the seat of its pants. ("Who's on third!") Mike Redmond got fired in part for being seen as too passive and conservative. Now replacement Dan Jennings is seen by some as over-managing -- and demoting Butler fits that perception pretty well. By the way, Marlins fired Redmond at 16-22 and are now 2-8 under Jennings. Winning cures all, of course. Fish need to make a push toward .500 as Jose Fernandez returns in a month or so.

 

'FISH IN THE DARK': A confession, first: Larry David is one of my favorite entertainers. Curb Your

1aa1adavidlEnthusiasm
was must-watch, appointment-TV every week for me, and I long for its return. So I was 1aa1afishpredisposed to love "Fish In the Dark," the (fairly) new Broadway comedy starring David. We spent the recent long holiday weekend in New York and saw it with front-row seats, because my wife (in charge of arrangements) is not nearly as cheap as me. How great were the seats? At right is a photo from the performance, taken discreetly (and against all rules) by my son. Anyway, the show was great. No unexpected ground broken; Larry David was pretty much the character we all know -- but that is exactly who the adoring audience came to see. Terrific show! Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

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May 26, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Fish, Fins, Finals, Canes baseball, Montoya, Letterman, hockey, soccer, tennis, Heat; plus 50,000 Names: Thank you, American heroes; also, UM/MLS stadium verdict & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami and 4-7 on ESPN Radio and Fusion TV. Ears, and eyes, welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 26. Click on Random for our latest Sunday Random Evidence notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM/MLS stadium discussions with poll, King of Late Night and Kidgate poll results, proctology news & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HOT BUTTON MAY 25: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (a day late this week but updated) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Stinking Fish make bizarre manager change, finally win: The slumping Marlins surprised baseball by prematurely firing manager Mike Redmond and then stunned baseball by replacing him with Dan Jennings, who was the general manager and began 0-5 in his new role before finally winning. Jennings last managed at the high school level in 1980s. No, seriously.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lock up QB Tannehill with long-term deal: The Dolphins will pay quarterback Ryan Tannehill $96 million over the next six seasons in the hopes he makes them a perennial playoff team and even a Super Bowl contender. I think Dolfans are generally happy about the deal, but probably not nearly as happy as Tannehill’s wife, Lauren.

3. NBA: Golden State, Cleveland barreling toward Finals: All of America outside of Atlanta, Houston and Miami is rooting for the Golden State-Cleveland NBA Finals that now seems certain -- Steph Curry vs. LeBron James. Take solace, Heat fans. Even if that happens, it would be first time in five or six years that LeBron would enter a playoff series expected to lose.

4. UM BASEBALL: Canes to host NCAA regional: Miami failed to win the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament but stil was named a No. 5 national seed and will host an NCAA Regional at Ron Fraser Stadium. (Hey. It's my blog. I can call it whatever I want).

5. AUTO RACING: Miamian Montoya wins Indy 500: The 99th running of “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” is the one day IndyCars steal the spotlight from NASCAR, and Miami's Juan Pablo Montoya won Sunday. I was betting on Will Power. Not because I thought he'd win, but because I have a soft spot for guys with ridiculous names that sound like alter-ego pseudonyms of comic-book superheroes.

6. DAVID LETTERMAN: Late-night TV legend says farewell: Letterman didn’t supplant Johnny Carson as the all-time late-night king, never got to host “The Tonight Show” and didn’t often beat Jay Leno in ratings, yet wound up a legend. Proves you can be beloved even if you don’t win the ultimate prize. Just ask Dan Marino. Ouch! Too soon?

7. NHL: High drama in hockey semifinals: Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers are tied 2-2 in the Eastwern Conference and Anaheim and Chicago are knotted 2-2 in the West. Dear NBA: This is how you do drama.

8. SOCCER: Joint stadium for UM football and MLS soccer?: David Beckham wanted a Miami waterfront home for Major League Soccer but couldn’t get one. Miami Hurricanes need a campus football stadium but couldn’t get one. Now the sides are discussing sharing a new venue near Marlins Park. What will it be called? Consolation Stadium?

9. TENNIS: French Open is underway: Betting favorites in Paris are Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. Sort of like in every other tournament anywhere else.

10. HEAT: Tough week for Heat fans: Watching LeBron James roll to another Finals. Pretending to be thrilled over keeping the 10th pick in the NBA Draft. Then seeing no Miami player make the All-NBA first, second or third team for the first time since 2008. Good news? Season's almost over.

Poll result: Cautious excitement over proposed UM/MLS stadium: We asked and 34.5 percent called it a great idea and 28.6% were intrigued enough to hear more. On the negative side, 15.1% were skeptical and 21.8% said "no!"

MEMORIAL DAY, 2015: THANK YOU, FALLEN SOLDIERS: On Memorial Day every year (that's today), America honors its war dead. As a proud, patriotic citizen I am honored to mark the occasion in my blog today. The Revolutionary War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq and right through to today's fight against Islamic State, among many other battles distant and not, America's bravest fight and the casualties continue. Across decades and centuries, across the world, the price of freedom never lets up and never will. I hate that we use the word "heroes" so frivolously, especially to apply to something as inconsequential as sports. This is the day for real heroes. The video below is a song called "50,000 Names," by George Jones. It is about Vietnam and The Wall in Washington, D.C., but it speaks to all of America's war dead, and with appreciation to all of the loved ones they left behind. This is for them. Thank you, today and always!

 

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May 23, 2015

UM football / MLS soccer shared-stadium venture: Good idea? New poll. Vote now!; plus King of Late-Night and Kidgate verdicts, proctology news & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, MAY 24. Click on Random for our latest Random Evidence, the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): David Letterman farewell with King of Late-Night poll, Steph Curry/Kidgate poll, Dolphins top-paid NFL team, punter disses Tannehill, Weighing the Fish at 40, Heat draft, D.Wade's new game, 'real' Miami Vice video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Hot Button Top 10: The HB10, our regular blog-exclusive Sunday feature, will appear here Monday evening this week.  

ON THE HURRICANES FOOTBALL / MLS SOCCER JOINT STADIUM VENTURE: You know the University of Miami and the David Beckham group trying to bring Major League Soccer here have met about a shared 1aa1astadiumsharestadium that would be built near Marlins Park. (One proposed rendering is pictured). It would be about 40,000 seats, which strikes us a bit too small for UM and a bit too big for MLS. (The Canes already have intimated they would still play marquee homes games, such as vs. Florida State, at much-bigger Dolphin stadium). I'm not sure if the proposed merger serves either side particularly well. UM, which of course needs the on-campus stadium it has never realized, would be closer to campus ... but enough to make a difference? The Beckham group, which has tried mightily and failed to have a downtown waterfront stadium, would suddenly be OK with Little Havana? For both sides it feels like settling. I have no better alternative dealing with each side's current realities, and I am not saying this wouldn't work fine. But I wonder how both sides of fans -- Canes football fans and people waiting to support MLS soccer here -- feel about the deal under discussion? About sharing a stadium? About the location? Would UM fans rather stay put at Dolphins stadium? Would soccer fans rather hold out for a different location? Or does what's being discussed sound pretty good? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Carson still King of Late-Night: We asked on the occasion of David Letterman's farewell but you made it clear you haven't forgotten his mentor. Johnny Carson earned 70.4 percent of your vote for King of Late Night, more than triple Letterman's 22.5%. After that it was 4.1% for Jay Leno and 3.0% for "someone else."

Poll result: On Steph Curry's side in Kidgate: We asked if athletes such as NBA star Steph Curry should be allowed to bring their kids to postgame press conferences, and it was 56.0 percent yes, 38.3% no and 5.7% undecided.

URGENT P1aa1aproctologyROCTOLOGY NEWS: As your full-service blog we like to keep you abreast of major medical breakthroughs, and here's one: Something that simulates the look and feel of a human derriere so that butting budding proctologists might become digitally adept before confronting an actual human being, as seen in the photo. They have named the device "Patrick," which must thrill all you Patricks out there. Click on Fake Proctology Ass for the tail tale that explains it all. Updates as warranted.

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