May 20, 2015

Is Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill a franchise QB worth that money? Poll. Vote now!; plus Patriots concede, new LeBatard TV show, your verdict on Marlins firing Redmond & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 20. Happy birthday to my eldest son Christopher! 2) Patriots concede: Odd for Robert Kraft to announce that Pats would not appeal Deflategate penalties -- meaning Tom Brady's four-game suspension stands. Can you defiantly claim your innocence and acquiesce at same time? Hmm. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins fire Redmond/name Jennings with poll, Tannehill signs Dolphins extension, Hot Button Top 10, SoFla Super Bowl verdict & more. 4) ICYMI, click on Garo Yepremian, R.I.P. for my column on the Dolphin icon's death. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Loria World: Wild ride continues: The Marlins' turbulent managerial merry-go-round continues under owner Jeffrey Loria. Click on Impatience Rules for my column.

Dee Train update: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .403 (64-for-159). Last night: 1-for-4 vs. ARI. Next: Tonight vs. ARI.

IS RYAN TANNEHILL UP TO HIS NEW CONTRACT?: Update: Click on Winning Must Define Tannehill for my new column, now online. Will have an updated version following today's news conference.  Original post: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's new Dolphins contract of $96 million over six years including $45 million in guaranteed money will become official today. That 1aa1atannyundoubtedly makes Lauren Tannehill the happiest young woman on Earth, but I'm more concerned here with how it makes Dolfans feel. This long-term commitment is a statement by the club that it believes Tannehill is the future, the franchise QB Miami has searched for since Dan Marino's last season in 1999. Have the Fins found him in Tannehill? Or are they settling for "good enough"? For "close enough"? Tannehill made strides last year in his third season with career-best numbers: 4,045 yards passing, 27 TDs, a 92.8 rating. Yet he continued to struggle completing the long ball, the "home run" pass. And he is 23-25 as a starter and 0-for-3 on playoff seasons -- at a position where bottom-line winning is paramount. That, and only that, is why, for example, Tannehill trails Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck in overall estimation. I wonder if you think Tannehill will blossom into Pro Bowl-level stardom or if you see his NFL ceiling as a second-tier guy. I wonder if you think he'll prove to be worth the money he is now being paid. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Most object to Marlins' firing of Redmond: We asked if you approve of Marlins firing manager Mike Redmond after 38 games at 16-22, and 56.1 percent said no versus 30.3% who said yes. The other 13.6% were undecided.

LEBATARD RADIO DEBUTS ON TV TODAY: The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, the ESPN Radio (and The Ticket Miami) program, debuts on TV today at 4 p.m. on the Fusion network. Here's the promo:

 

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May 18, 2015

Dolphins sign Tannehill long-term; plus do you approve of Marlins firing Redmond? Poll. Vote now!; also Jennings new Fish manager, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Garo Yepremian dies, SoFla Super Bowl poll, LeBatard ranked 11th, UM football, LeBron advances, Ted Wells'  mustache, Cote on $2 bill, B.B. King & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NBA Final Four odds: Via Bovada today, Golden State a 4-7 favorite to win the NBA title, with Cleveland 13-5. Longshots are Atlanta at 9-1 and Houston 10-1.

The Garo column: Click on Garo Yepremian, R.I.P. for my latest column.

Dee Train update: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .420 (63-for-150). Last game: 1-for-4 vs. ATL Sunday. Next: Tonight vs. ARI.D

1aa1aryantDOLPHINS COMMIT LONG-TERM TO TANNEHILL: The Dolphins today extended the contract of quarterback Ryan Tannehill by four years, through the 2020 season. Originally under contract for two more seasons, the sides renegotiated a six-year deal reportedly worth $96 million, with almost half of it ($45 mill) guaranteed. The long-term, high-dollar extension is not a surprise, although the timing of when it would occur was not certain. The sides were smart to get it done well  before summer training camp. The commitment and big bucks also increase the onus on Tannehill to lead a playoff season in 2015.

MARLINS NAME GM JENNINGS TO REPLACE FIRED MANAGER REDMOND: [Update: Click on Loria's Wild Ride for today's new column by me, on the Marlins' latest managerial move another sign of owner Jeffrey Loria's impatience and lack of firm direction]. The Marlins, 16-22 and fourth place in 1aa1adanjenthe NL East, fired manager Mike Redmond after yesterday's 6-0 home loss to the Atlanta Braves. Bench coach Rob Leary was dismissed, too. The Marlins were swept by the Braves to begin a 10-game homestand and were almost no-hit, breaking it up with two outs in the ninth. Even more surprising than Redmond's dismissal, the team today announced it has replaced Redmond with its general manager, Dan Jennings (pictured right), who has never managed or coached beyond the high school level. Do you approve of firing Redmond not quite one-quarter into the season? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

HOT BUTTON MAY 17: 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. GARO YEPREMIAN: Iconic Dolphin passes away: One of the most beloved and unique characters in club history, the Dolphins' 1970s kicker died late Friday at age 70 after battling brain cancer for about a year. He'll forever be a part of franchise folklore, with only one word required: Garo.

2. MARLINS: Fish, in midst of long homestand, fire manager: Miami is three games into a 10-game homestand and 0-3 after nearly being no-hit Sunday -- after which manager  Mike Redmond was let go. Team is mired in fourth place in division so we accentuate the positive: Dee Gordon, .420. Giancarlo Stanton, 11 homers. Steve Cishek, benched.

3. NBA: Houston completes league's Final Four: Rockets hosted and beat Clippers Sunday afternoon to avance vs. Golden State in Western finals, while it's LeBron James and Cleveland vs. Atlanta in the East. Going to be weird hearing all those "Let's go Hawks!" chants in Miami the next week or two.

4. HORSE RACING: America Pharoah does it again; Triple Crown in play: Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah overcame rain and a muddy track to win the Preakness Saturday, meaning the sport's first Triple Crown since 1978 will be in play at the Belmont in three weeks. This is when Americans who don't know a furlong from a fur coat pretend they're into horse racing.

5. DEFLATEGATE: Patriots, Brady fighting four-game suspension: The latest: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to hear Tom Brady's appeal, the NFLPA says no way, and the whole thing seems headed to a nasty court fight. NFL: National. Football. Litigation.

6. TERRORISM: Boston Marathon bomber sentenced to death: A Boston jury sentenced Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev to the death penalty for his role in the 2013 terrorist bombings. Unfortunately, the over/under on appeals is being measured in years, not months.

7. HEAT: Draft lottery is Tuesday night: Heat has a more than 80 percent chance to have the 10th overall pick. What a difference a year makes. Past four seasons Miami is steaming to the NBA Finals. Now Miami is hoping a bunch of ping-pong balls bounce just right.

8. HURRICANES: UM baseball opens ACC tournament: A terrific regular season has coach Jim Morris' Canes ranked No. 8 nationally and seeded second in the ACC Tournament starting Wednesday in Durham, N.C. UM carries 12-game win streak into postseason. Ending it now would be awful timing, indeed. 

9. NHL: Four still skating in Stanley Cup playoffs: New York Rangers are up 1-0 on Tampa Bay in Eastern finals, and Anaheim is up 1-0 on Chicago in the West finals. Anything seems possible in the NHL playoffs, except, as usual, a Canadian team playing for the championship.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins, South Florida ready Super Bowl bids: Continually passed over lately but with a renovated stadium now in play, South Florida bids to host upcoming Super Bowls at this week 's league meetings in San Fran. This is very important to Stephen Ross and to SoFla tourism officials. Dolfans only care about hosting a Super Bowl if their team is in it.

Missing the cut: Sepp Blatter and the FBI, WNBA suspensions, Isiah Thomas running women's team, ESPN and Bill Simmons, French Open nears.

Poll result: Great disagreement on importance of Miami hosting a Super Bowl: There was close to an even split between those who thought it was "very important" Miami host a Super Bowl (39.3 percent) and those who thought it was not important unless the Dolphins were in it (38.1%). The other 22.6% called hosting "somewhat important."

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May 16, 2015

Garo Yepremian, R.I.P.; plus do we really care if South Florida hosts a Super Bowl? (poll); also LeBatard ranked No. 11, Canes football news, Brady steals Ted Wells' mustache, LeBron waltzes on, Cote on $2 bill, B.B. King & more

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

1aa1abbking1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 16. Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King (pictured) has died at age 89. R.I.P. Scroll down for video at end of this blogpost. 2) Random Evidence, our Sunday notes column, has this week off. However our blog-exclusive Hot Button Top 10 will be here as usual on Sunday. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Evolving newspapers, John Wall's gang signs, LeBatard radio show preps for TV, Dee Train debut, Kiper's 2016 Big Board, assimilating bears & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

LeBatard ranked 11th: Miami-based TV and radio personality Dan LeBatard is No. 11 on TheBigLead.com's new list of 25 most powerful people in sports media. (List here). Bill Simmons, newly fired by ESPN, tops the list. Keith Olbermann, we presume, is ready to sue somebody for not being on it. Also omitted: Greg Cote, despite there supposedly being a move to put Cote's face on the $2 bill.

Hurricanes football schedule news: UM announced starting time or TV info for four of its games. Canes will host Bethune-Cookman Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. on ESPN3. On Sept. 19 UM will host Nebraska at 3:30 p.m. on either ABC or ESPN. Miami's game at Cincinnati will be in prime time at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. And the Canes' regular-season finale at Pittsburgh will air on ABC or ESPN, time to be determined.

Dee Train: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .433 (61-for-141). Last game: 3-for-5 vs. ATL last night. Next: Tonight vs. ATL.

GARO YEPREMIAN, R.I.P.: Dolphins great Garo Yepremian passed away last night from brain cancer after fighting the disease for more than a year. Click here for a 2014 column I wrote on Garo's health struggle, and click on Garo: The One And Only for my latest column on his death that went online late last night. Here is the column in its entirety:

1aa1agaro    So few names in the Miami Dolphins’ 50-year history have elevated above the playing field into franchise folklore. So few players could be described with only a first name, a single word, and that would be plenty.

    Garo.

    With greatness and whimsy, he was a part of the team’s biggest days.

    Garabed Sarkis Yepremian, the little kicker from Cyprus, died Friday evening at age 70 after battling adrenal cancer that had led to a brain tumor. His wife Maritza said he passed away at a hospital in Media, Pa., near their Philadelphia home.

    I had written about the fight of his life last summer.
    His latest round of chemotherapy had just ended.
    “It’s a gorgeous day,” he said.
    Yepremian, a Dolphin from 1970 through 1978, always will be most known for his faux pas in the 1972 Perfect Season Super Bowl – a lapse remembered with a smile, because Miami won.
     “I honestly thought my life was over,” he told me.
     It happened on Jan. 14, 1973. A field-goal attempt was botched, and Yepremian tried to throw a pass that was returned 49 yards for a touchdown by the Washington Redskins. Only because Miami won 14-7 did Garo escape the savagery of being labeled a national goat.
     He dealt with his unique place in history with wonderful humor.
     As recently as January, alluding to the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” controversy, Yepremian Tweeted, “Forty-two years later I realize I should have deflated the ball to get a better grip on it.”
     His one most famous, most infamous moment always overshadowed a career that stood on its own even as his ill-fated “pass” was what Johnny Carson delighted to skewer in late-night monologues.
     Yepremian was named to Miami’s Silver Anniversary team encompassing the club’s first 25 seasons. He was named to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team.
     He won so many games beyond the one famous one he almost lost.
     He stood barely 5-8 but authored so many of the biggest moments in club history, including the field goal on Christmas Day 1971 in Kansas City that ended “The Longest Game” and gave Miami its first playoff victory in franchise history.
     I was a kid then. I remember my father and I, watching in our living room, pogoing up and down and hugging after Garo’s kick sailed true. (The high-five hadn’t been invented yet).<
     Four decades later one of the most iconic names in Miami Dolphins history has lapsed into memory. But you still only need a single word to describe him:
     Garo.
 

DO WE REALLY CARE IF SOUTH FLORIDA HOSTS A SUPER BOWL?: So Miami and and renovated 1aa1abowlsuperDolphins stadium are bidding to host the 2019 and 2020 Super Bowls, the next two available, and should learn at next week's league meetings in San Fran if they made the first cut. Do we care? I have always had a theory on that -- one I admit could be totally off-line with how local fans and residents feel. (Hence, this poll). I think we only care about a Super Bowl if the Dolphins are playing in it. I don't think Miami hosting two other teams in an SB is particularly thrilling for anyone outside of direct beneficiaries -- tourism industry, hotels, restaurants and so forth. Yes, Dolphins (and stadium) owner Stephen Ross cares intensely. But do you? What is your level of excitement or interest in South Florida being named host of one of the next available Super Bowls? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

1aa1abradystache2

1aa1atedwellsTOM BRADY GROWS WEIRD MUSTACHE TO MOCK TED WELLS:
  This whole thing is getting strange. A bit juvenile. Quick chronology: Patriots accused of under-inflating footballs. NFL's independent Wells Report finds Pats and QB Tom Brady guilty. League suspends Brady four games. Criticism ensues that punishment is either too lenient or too harsh. Ted Wells goes on offensive to angrily defend his integrity and findings. Patriots go on offensive, lawyering up and appealing punishment. Now, Brady cultivates Wells-ian mustache apparently to publicly mock his nemesis. Updates here as warranted.

LEBRON WALTZES INTO NBA (CONFERENCE) FINALS: Cleveland awaits tonight's Atlanta-Washington 1aa1ajameslwinner in the Eastern finals, meaning LeBron James all but has a free pass into the NBA Finals. Hawks or Wizards would be large underdogs, although it does bear noting that ATL would have home-court advantage and was 3-1 vs. Cavs this season. Out West, Golden State tries to eliminate Memphis tonight and Clippers-Rockets face a Game 7 on Sunday. Still looking like a LeBron-Steph Curry Finals. By the way, good seats still available on my Miamians For LeBron bandwagon. All aboarrrd!

1aa1ameontwoMOVEMENT: COTE ON $2 BILL: You have heard by now of the "Women on 20s" movement, which is pushing to replace Andrew Jackson with Civil War-era abolitionist Harriet Tubman as the face of the $20 bill. Now, though as yet much less-known, there is a growing movement, dubbed "Cote On Two," to replace Thomas Jefferson on the $2 bill with Miami Herald sports columnist/blogger Greg Cote (pictured right). Updates as warranted.

LUCILLE WEEPS: B.B. KING (1925-2015):

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May 14, 2015

An evolving newspaper industry redefines itself; plus Wizards' John Wall and gang signs, LeBatard radio show preps for TV, 'Miamians For LeBron,' Dee Train, Kiper's 2016 Big Board, Brady/Dolphins-impact verdict, assimilating bears & more

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

1aa1arock1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 14. Happy birthday to my youngest son. Love you, Michael! 2) Miami royalty: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson meets up with Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) the other night in L.A. after Stanton put one clean out of Dodger Stadium. 3) Patriots issue lengthy rebuttal to Wells Report. Click here for story and link to Pats' response. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady punishment with poll, Marlins bench closer, rooting for LeBron, updated Super Bowl odds & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dee Train: A new blog feature: Starting today, "Dee Train" will be a daily blog update on the Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do it as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. (Yes, people who believe in jinxes and superstitions will hate this). Gordon updated season: .426 (58-for-136) after 4-for-5 last night. Next: Friday vs. ATL. 

'Miamians For LeBron' bandwagon forming; good seats still available: In today's latest column, on how these NBA playoffs are refreshing and good for the league, I explore further the fractured relationship between Miami and LeBron James. I propose -- tongue in cheek, I'd remind those less discerning -- that continuing animus is unfounded. Click on Miamians For LeBron to read column in full.

AS AN EVOLVING NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY REDEFINES ITSELF: I offer below the 9-minute video "We Are McClatchy," released earlier today. McClatchy is the parent company of the Miami Herald among many other media entities, and the video describes ways in which the beleaguered newspaper industry is continuing to refashion itself in the digital age. I recommend the video to anyone who cares about the Miami Herald, past, present and future, and to anyone who cares about the American newspaper industry and where it is headed.

 

IS WIZARDS' JOHN WALL THROWING UP GANG SIGNS?: As a spokesman for the Old White Community I can tell you I don't know gang signs from Adam. Somebody says the word "gang" to me and I start 1aa1ajwallhumming Spanky And Our Gang's "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" from 1967. But I can tell you a lot of people much closer to street level than me are convinced Washington point guard John Wall (pictured) was throwing up a gang signs for the Bloods during last night's playoff game, augmented by shouting the phrase "Big B's." Google Wall's name and "gang sign" to see the stories, video and Twitter references. (Wall had been involved in a similar gang-sign controversy while at Kentucky). Should we care? I'd imagine the Wizards and the NBA office do. Here we are in the midst of a great playoffs, with all four conference semifinal series at 3-2 and multiple Game 7s maybe looming, and we're talking about a star player and possible gang affiliation. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this, whether it be an explanation from Wall, admonishment or discipline. I'd be surprised if something didn't.

1aa1alebatardfusionLEBATARD RADIO SHOW READY FOR TV DEBUT: You've lent him your ears. Now he'd like your eyes, too. ESPN Radio's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz is preparing to make its television debut on the Fusion network this coming Tuesday May 19. The show began preparing/rehearsing for televised radio by broadcasting from its new studio at the Clevelander on South Beach earlier this week on 1aa1afusionTuesday, with Le Batard assuring listeners the content of the show would not change and making the distinction that it would be a radio show on television, not a TV show on radio. The logo for the new show is pictured. From Wade Beckett, Fusion’s chief programming officer: "Dan's smart-yet-irreverent take on sports and the stories making headlines perfectly aligns with Fusion’s desire to present this young, diverse generation with an array of dynamic voices that have an authentic point of view and, at the end of the day, are just are fun to watch." Says LeBatard: "We are pumped about unleashing the primitive Stugotz on a new and unsuspecting audience. And maybe we will talk some sports, too. Our goal is to not totally break Fusion. But the show will be better on the days we do." I'll continue to be a once-a-week guest on the show, unless Fusion convinces Dan to fire me. I'll be in the Tuesday slot although my on-TV debut will  be Thursday May 21.

NOTABLE FROM KIPER'S FIRST 2016 DRAFT 'BIG BOARD': Mel's first Double-B top-25 for ESPN.com 1aa1abosajoeylooking ahead to '16 NFL Draft starts off notably with Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (pictured) No. 1 overall -- notable because Bosa is from St. Thomas Aquinas High and is the son of John, the Dolphins' 1987 first-round pick. Also notable: No. 3--Florida State S Jalen Ramsey; No. 5--Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves; and No. 9--Cal QB Jared Goff, the highest quarterback ranked. Sorry, Canes. No UM'ers listed.

Poll result: Most think Brady punishment impact on Dolphins won't be major: We asked about the impact of Tom Brady's 4-game suspension on the Dolphins and it was a photo finish between "moderate" (46.1 percent) and "minor" (45.7%). Only 8.2% voted "major."

1aa1abearbar"DEAR GREG...": "I heard a TV report that in Alaska, and now spreading elsewhere across America, bears have begun assimilating and are now interacting with humans in ways never before thought possible. Can you explain, please?" Dear Reader: Sorry, but I have no idea what you're talking about.

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May 12, 2015

Dolphins Factor: How much does Brady suspension benefit Miami? Poll. Vote now!; plus adjusted Super Bowl odds, benching Cishek, rooting for LeBron, bacon roses & more

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

1aa1apats1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 13. New England Patriots today changed their Twitter avatar to what's pictured at right in a show of support for suspended QB Tom Brady. Click on image to see enlarged version. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady suspended and impact on Dplphins, new 'Weighing The Fish', Heat draft predix, Hot BUtton Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1abradygreg"Another embarrassment for the league. Terrible mixup. The NFL inadvertently suspended TV's Greg Brady instead." --Greg Cote

Marlins blow another one: Steve Cishek blew yet another save and game out in Los Angeles last night, Marlins fans waiting up 'til 1 a.m. only to endure another mound implosion. Time for a change. As we speak Mike Redmond is shopping the discount aisle at Closers 'R Us. [Update: Cischek demoted. For now, it's closer-by-committee].

Adjusted Super Bowl odds, post-Deflategate: New England, assuming Tom Brady's four-game suspension is upheld on appeal, is now a 10-1 pick via Bovada to repeat as Super Bowl champ, down from 15-2. Seattle at 11-2, Green Bay 7-1 and Indianapolis 8-1 now are above the Pats; Dallas also is 10-1. Miami is now 33-1, tied for 12th best, up from 40-1 because of the Brady suspension. Patriots remain AFC East favorites at 2-3, with Dolphins and Bills now both 17-4 and Jets 7-1.

BRADY PUNISHMENT IS FAIR, TURNS UP HEAT ON DOLPHINS, PHILBIN: NFL took a long time with the Wells Report investigation but then moved quickly in suspending QB Tom Brady four games,
1aa1abrady 1aa1adolphinsfining
the Patriots $1 million and making New England forfeit first-round (2016) and fourth-round ('17) draft picks. Click on Deflategate Penalties Inflate Dolphins Chances to read my latest column in full. My reaction to the vrerdict was two-fold: 1) The NFL got it right. The punishment is neither too lenient nor too harsh. The penalties would have been lighter based solely on the report's finding of "probable" guilt, but were increased because Brady lied and then did not cooperate fully with the investigation. 2) The impact on the Dolphins. It's a big chance, erasing your nemesis-team's star quarterback for a quarter of the season. It turns up the heat on Joe Philbin to make this a winning season and a playoff season. The AFC East title should be considered in play. I'm curious the weight you attach to a four-gamer Brady suspension in terms of its impact on the Dolphins this year. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

1aa1ajameslTHE BLASPHEMY OF ROOTING FOR LEBRON JAMES: Watching Sunday's Cavs-Bulls game at home with my son, I pumped a fist and smiled when LeBron James hit that buzzer-beating, winning shot. My kid looked at me like I'd just sold the family dog for crack cocaine. Is it alright for Heat fans or anyone living in South Florida to be rooting for LeBron this postseason, or does that expose one as a traitor? I explore today in an online-only column. Click on Miamians For LeBron Bandwagon to read the column in full. (Good seats still available...).

1aa1abaconroses"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's good, but I'd like it even better if occasionally you'd show a picture of a dozen roses made of bacon. Thank you." Dear Reader: If only they made such a thing.

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May 11, 2015

Brady suspended 4 games, Pats forfeit 1st-round pick!; plus Dolphins now East favorites?; also Heat draft prediction, new 'Weighing The Fish', Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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


1) It is MONDAY, MAY 11. Hope you good moms out there had a happy Mother's Day. Especially to my own mom in Vero Beach and to my wife and wonderful mother to our two sons. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Deflategate findings with poll, A-Rod's milestone with poll, Dolphins lose Collins, '16 mock draft & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

BREAKING NEWS: BRADY SUSPENDED 4 GAMES!: Tom Brady is suspended the first four games of the coming season and the Patriots are made to forfeit a first-round draft pick as NFL hands down "Deflate" punishment today. Club also fined $1 million and made to forfeit a fourth-round 2017 pick as well.

1aa1adekkerHeat draft prediction: Jeff Goodman's latest NBA mock draft for ESPN.com today predicts Miami will select Wisconson small forward Sam Dekker 10th overall. Dekker (pictured) is 6-9 and 230. Goodman's synopsis of the pick: "The Heat need to hit a home run here, and Dekker showed the potential with his play in the NCAA tournament. He's long, athletic and displayed a mental toughness with huge games on the sport's biggest stage. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng aren't spring chickens. This team needs some fresh legs to go along with Hassan Whiteside."

The heat in Redmond's seat: New first-manager-to-be-fired odds via sportsbettingdime.com show Miami's Mike Redmond tied for fourth in line at 6-1. Only shorter odds are Mariners' Lloyd McClendon at 7-2, and Indians' Terry Francona and White Sox's Robin Ventura both 4-1.

AFC EAST FAVORITES? DOLPHINS MAKING POST-DRAFT, DEFLATEGATE-RELATED LEAPS: The Dolphins leap four spots -- 19th to 15th -- in ESPN's latest post-draft NFL rankings out today, tied with Baltimore (11th to 7th) for the biggest jump. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Patriots hold steady at No. 2, Bills fall 1aa1adolphinleapingone spot to 18th and Jets bump up two spots to 25th. (Top five is Seahawks, Pats, Packers, Broncos and Colts). Of even greater interest, the respected ESPN partner website Football Outsiders is projecting/predicting both New England and Miami for 11-5 records and says Dolphins will be division favorites if imminent Deflategate penalties show a significant suspension for QB Tom Brady. Here is FB-O's take not even factoring in a Brady suspension: "Your hot sleeper Super Bowl contender for 2015 is the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots run away with the AFC East year after year, but our early projections suggest the defending champions will finally get some serious competition in their own division this year. We're high on the 2015 Dolphins because the 2014 Dolphins were essentially a good team dragged down to 8-8 by dismal special teams and a difficult schedule. However, special teams are less consistent from year to year than offense or defense, which means the Dolphins are likely to be a lot closer to average in that area in 2015. And like the rest of their division, the Dolphins also get an easier schedule this year."

WEIGHING THE FISH (30 GAMES): We throw the occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this 1aa1afishweigh 1aa1adeegyear we debuted a new feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Nine qualify for our third ranking. WTF is cumulative and factors six offensive categories. It serves 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 season or is hot/cold. Weighing The Fish after 30 games (actually 32, at 15-17, because we were asleep at the wheel), with current leader Dee Gordon pictured:

Rank Player                          WTF#      @20

1    Dee Gordon                         170.3      2

2    Giancarlo Stanton            163.1      1

3    Adeiny Hechevarria        140.4      3

4    Martin Prado                     124.7      4

5    Marcell Ozuna                   120.7      6

6    Ichiro Suzuki                      92.2      7

7    Michael Morse                    83.4      5

8    Jacob Realmuto                 75.4      8

9    Christian Yelich                 51.3      9

HOT BUTTON MAY 10: 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. DEFLATEGATE: Pats, Brady await punishment after Wells Report: “Deflategate” probe found Patriots and QB Tom Brady bearing “probable” guilt related to under-inflated footballs in AFC title game. Don Shula this week noted, "We didn’t deflate any balls. We always tried to live by the rules." Every retiree needs a hobby. Shula's apparently is needling Bill Belichick.

2. MARLINS: Gordon-led Fish continue on 10-game trip: Miami moves on to L.A. now after last night's Steve Cishek blown save at San Fran. Story so far has been Dee Gordon leading majors with a .439 batting average — 62 points better than anyone else. Might he become baseball’s first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941? Hey, somebody had to defy the jinx superstition and finally say it!

3. DOLPHINS: Busy week includes free-agent loss, rookies, celebration: Fins lost out on heavily wooed free-agent tackle La'el Collins, who signed with Dallas, then held a rookie minicamp that featured all seven recently drafted players. Miami also announced season-long plan related to club's 50th anniversary season. Dolfans need only one celebration: A bleepin' playoff win, please!

4. NBA: Cavaliers tie it as LeBron plays hero: Clippers seized a 3-1 series lead over Houston and Cavaliers tied Chicago 2-2 Sunday on LeBron James' last second-winning shot. No team still alive has won an NBA title since 1998 in what has been one of league’s most unpredictable seasons in years. Still liking Cleveland and Golden -- LeBron vs. Steph Curry -- as the most predictable Finals.

5. ALEX RODRIGUEZ: A-Rod passes Mays on career home run list: Alex Rodriguez’s 661st career homer Thursday night at Yankee Stadium passed Willie Mays for fourth on all-time list, an achievement diminished, of course, by A-Rod’s steroids history. Don’t mean to stigmatize him, but instead of the number 13, shouldn't the back of his uniform have a giant asterisk?

6. GOLF: Fowler wins TPC Sawgrass near Jacksonville: Rickie Fowler won in a playoff Sunday while Tiger Woods sputtered home tied for 69th. Tiger endured a recent breakup with girlfriend Lindsay Vonn but already seems over it. Just saw him walking into his favorite store, Blondes ’R Us.

7. ESPN: Network parting ways with Bill Simmons: ESPN said it won’t renew Bill Simmons' contract amid speculation a big reason is his continuing outspoken animus against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. I love the media saying what a major blow this will be to ESPN. "Um, I think we’ll get by," said the $51 billion network.

8. BOXING: Fallout from the big fight continues: The fallout from Floyd Mayweather's uninspiring win over Manny Pacquiao includes includes class-action lawsuits against Pacquiao for not disclosing his shoulder injury. Pac Man was hurting that night. But not as much as the suckers who spent $100 to watch the borefest on pay-per-view.

9. NHL: Conference semis reaching crescendo: Chicago and Anaheim are in, Tampa Bay can clinch Tuesday, and the Rangers host a Game 7 vs. Washington on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Canada is planning a candlelight vigil for the anticipated continuation of its Stanley Cup drought.

10. HORSE RACING: Countdown 5 days 'til Preakness Stakes: Meaning we have less than a week left to pretend that Kentucky Derby winner American Pharaoh will break horse racing’s near-40-year Triple Crown drought.

Poll result: You want Brady suspended minimum of four games: We asked what would be a fair Deflategate penalty for Tom Brady and a narrow majority of 50.4 percent said a suspension of four or more games. Then it was 17.2% for no suspension, 16.9% for two games, 8.4% for three games and 7.1% for one game.

Poll result: You'd have cheered A-Rod, but feelings are mixed: We asked if you'd have cheered or booed Alex Rodriguez's home run that passed Willie Mays, and it was 50.4 percent cheered, 34.3% booed and 15.3% undecided.

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

May 09, 2015

Would you have booed or cheered A-Rod's 661st HR? Poll. Vote now!; plus Tom Brady suspension poll, Fins lose and win, offensive Cavaliers video, 2016 NFL mock draft (no, seriously), sombrero verdict & more

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

1aa1amaytbe1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 9. 1) Floyd Mayweather (pictured) models the new T-shirt his company has put out. Isn't modesty supposed to be a virtue? Furthermore, there are zero boxing historians not on his payroll who'd agree with the message. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Deflategate report implicates Patriots, D-Wade at the Met Gala, sombrero poll, heat on LeBron, local firm sues Pacquiao, new Super Bowl/MLB odds, appreciating Dee Gordon & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins lose, win: The loss? Offensive lineman La'el Collins, whom Miami wooed heavily, signing instead with Cowboys. The win? Having all seven draft choices signed already. Although that's not nearly as big a deal or impressive as it once would have been. Once NFL rookie salary cap kicked in, holdouts became extremely rare.

Offensive Cleveland Cavaliers video: Cavaliers are rightly catching lower-case heat for airing an in-game video being criticized for making light of domestic violence by depicting a Cavs fan throwing his wife/girlfriend across a room for wearing a Bulls jersey. Click here to watch, cringe and wonder who's getting fired today for approving this. Update: Team issued apology for video. Update II: Last night's playoff loss to Bulls and 2-1 series deficit gives Cavs bigger concerns.

1aa1ahassanWhiteside 4th in 'most improved': Out-of-nowhere Heat center Hassan Whiteside finished a distant, disappointing fourth in NBA "most improved" voting with 88 points, trailing winner Jimmy Butler of Bulls (535), Warriors' Draymond Green (200) and Jazz's Rudy Gobert (189).

WOULD YOU HAVE CHEERED OR BOOED A-ROD'S HISTORIC HOME RUN?: [Click on This Is The Cost for my latest column, on how one of the casualties of the Steroids Era is that what should be great baseball moments -- like A-Rod's milestone home run -- become awkward embarrassments for the game]. Original post: Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez's 661st career home run passed legendary Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time 1aa1aarodhrlist Thursday night, but of course the accomplishment is tainted. He sat out the entire 2014 season for steroids use, not his first admission of PEDs. It is not a stretch to think the number 661 is artificially juiced. The Yankee Stadium crowd gave A-Rod a curtain call but even he admitted afterward, "I certainly thought the days of curtain calls for me were long gone. I was a little embarrassed and it was a little awkward." I wonder what the reaction on the road would have been -- or should have been. Say it happened at Marlins Park. Do you appreciatively and respectfully cheer a major historic accomplishment? Is forgiveness in play? Or do you boo a man who clearly cheated to get that record? You would have done what? Vote and say why.

DOLFANS EXPECTING MAJOR BRADY SUSPENSION MAY BE DISAPPOINTED: Click on Is 'Probable' Guilt Enough? for my column on the Wells Report's Deflategate conclusion and what it might mean in terms of NFL punishment of the Patriots and QB Tom Brady. It bears further discussion and amplification 1aa1abradytomhere because I suspect Dolphins fans are expecting -- wrongly, I think -- that the league will bring the hammer down on the Patriots and especially Brady. I won't pander to Dolfans and say otherwise; plenty of others to do the pandering. Three factors by my vantage weigh against a major suspension: 1) Weak, equivocal findings. The report concluded it was "more probable than not" that Brady was at least "generally aware" of the improper activities. "More probable than not" isn't exactly definitive. Will the NFL bring the hammer down on its league champion and star QB based on "maybe"/"likely"? 2) Brady's clean record other than Deflategate. Note that Brady was not implicated or disciplined in the 2007 "Spygate" matter that aimed the hammer at coach Bill Belichick. 3) Did the rule-breaking affect results? No indication it did, certainly not in an AFC Championship Game the Colts lost, 45-7. So, what next? Certainly there will be punishment. The current climate under commissioner Roger Goodell all but assures it. No way the NFL spends time and money on a 109-day independent investigation and then doesn't act on it. Owner Robert Kraft and Belichick are not implicated and very likely won't be disciplined. However the club likely will be fined substantially and be made to forfeit a draft pick that I doubt is a first-rounder but could be. The big question is Brady's punishment. I wrote that I wouldn't suspend him at all based on "probable," but the likelihood may be a small suspension -- based as much on his lack of full cooperation in the Wells investigation as on its findings. I just don't buy the overreaction I am hearing, including Colin Cowherd predicting a "severe" punishment. And the speculation about a possible full-season suspension? Ludicrous. For what it's worth the odds on Brady's punishment via footballbettingcenter.com are: 1 game--2/1 odds; not suspended at all--5/2; 2 games--5/2; 3 games--8/1; and 4-plus games--15/1. If I'm right, and if those odds are, Dolfans and many in the media calling for a major suspension may be disappointed. I'm curious what you think would be fair discipline of Brady. It may be futile, but I challenge Dolfans here to not vote for the discipline they'd prefer for a nemesis/rival, but rather to dispassionately consider the discipline they'd think fair if roles were reversed and, say, the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill were the accused here. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

AQUINAS LEADS NFL HIT PARADE: NFL announced that Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas High was only high school in nation with three players drafted this year: Phillip Dorsett, Rashad Greene and Bobby Hart. Fourteen schools had two players drafted including Miami Central, Norland and Northwestern. Florida led all states this year with 39 former prep players.

IT'S A 2016 NFL MOCK DRAFT. NO, SERIOUSLY: Blame ESPN's Todd McShay for redefining "premature." I'm just passing it along in digest form. His order is based on Football Outsiders' projected team records. The good news? The Dolphins finish 11-5. Woo hoo! Todd's overall No. 1 pick is Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, to the Redskins. Miami, picking 29th, takes Alabama RB Derrick Henry. No Hurricanes in the first round. Also notable, Ohio State DE Joey Bosa -- from St. Thomas Aquinas High and son of ex-Dolphins draftee John -- goes third overall.

Poll result: You may wear a sombrero guilt-free: We asked if it was OK to wear a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo just for fun, and 82.2 percent said yes. Another 8.3% said no because it's insulting to Mexicans, and 9.5% were undecided.

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

May 06, 2015

Wells report on Deflategate implicates Patriots, Brady. Full report here; plus is a sombrero politically incorrect? Poll. Vote now!; also local firm sues Pacquiao, D-Wade at the Met, heat on LeBron, DeVante on 'impact' list, Dee Gordon & more

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


1aa1aeflowers1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 6. Hope y'all had a happy Cinco de Mayo, fellow imbibers. 2) At left, Giants 1st-round draft pick and ex-Cane Ereck Flowers throws out first pitch at a Mets game. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ndamukong Suh arm-wrestles Warren Buffett, Mel Kiper grades Dolphins, Mel Sr., Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Average American child, before completing education, sees 40,000 murders on TV. Just sayin'.  

My latest column: I write about what a flop the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was and how the only loser was the fan who paid 100 bucks to watch. Click on Nobody Got Hurt But You to read in full.

Updated MLB beting odds: Via Bovada today, Dodgers now alone as World Series favorites at 6-1, with Cardinals 7-1 and Tigers 15-2. Marlins are 66-1, tied for 22nd. (Ouch). But Miami's Dee Gordon (4th at 6-1) and Giancarlo Stanton (tie 5th at 9-1) both are among NL MVP frontrunners, with D-Backs' Paul Goldschmidt the fave at 3-1.

WELLS REPORT ON DEFLATEGATE IMPLICATES PATRIOTS, BRADY: Click on 'Probable' Guilt Not Enough for my column on this, newly online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Click HERE to access the entire 243-page report.The pertinent synopsis: "We have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship 1aa1adefballGame, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls." The report does not implicate others such as owner Robert Kraft or coach Bill Belichick. Next step: NFL decides what if any punishment will be in store for the Patriots. Update: Bovada and some other betting houses have removed NFL odds and bets on Patriots until it is determined if Brady will be suspended. I doubt he will be based on "probable" implication, but he may well be. 

A SONG, A HAT AND SENSITIVITY: I am not easily offended or as sensitive as a lot of people are -- maybe to a fault. That came up yesterday, on Cinco de Mayo, in a couple of ways. One was that I'd planned on wearing a Mexican-style sombrero in honor of the occasion, strictly for laughs, thinking nothing of it -- but was told by others that would be insensitive and has become politically incorrect. Then I happened upon old audio files from my "Singing Sportswriter" days on the radio and re-listened to a song called "God Bless Our Danica," a personal favorite. It's a fun though admittedly cheeky ode to Danica Patrick. The thing is, when I recorded it around five years ago I heard no objections, only laughs. Now? Now I wonder if it would be heard as sexist. I wonder if it has lapsed into "politically incorrect." Here is the audio of the song for you to decide:

Greg Cote - God Bless Our Danica

As for the sombrero, I saw it as harmless fun, as just a funny hat for a party occasion. I never considered that it could be viewed as belittling the Mexican culture. Maybe that's on me to have not considered that, or maybe people, in general, have just become too sensitive. I'm honestly not sure. I am curious what you think of the idea of wearing a sombrero, for fun, on Cinco de Mayo. OK or inappropriate? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

LOCAL LAW FIRM SUING PACQUIAO: Fort Lauderdale-based law firm Kelley/Uustal has filed the first class-action suit in Florida against boxer Manny Pacquiao, his promotor Top Rank and DirecTV, claiming perjury on Pacquiao's part for not revealing his right shoulder injury, which, had been revealed, might have canceled or postponed the fight.

WHAT DWYANE WADE DOES INSTEAD OF BEING IN THE PLAYOFFS: Heat star Dwyane Wade and 1aa1adwyanemetgalaactress/wife Gabrielle Union attended Monday night's high-end Met Gala, an annual fashion event and fundraiser at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 1aa1asarahAnybody who's anybody was there, except you and I. The Heat's First Couple (sorry, Bosh) is pictured right, photo via Perez Hilton. Union rocked the Met red carpet in purple. Or is it burgundy? D-Wade had sort of the
French Foreign Legion look going, complete with red sash and military-like medals. Others at the Gala included Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, George Clooney, Common, Cher, Justin Bieber, Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Anne Hathaway and Madonna. Pictured left, Sarah Jessica Parker looking remarkably calm for a woman whose head is flames. Must have been weird for Dwyane and Gabby to be at an event where they were not (nearly) the biggest stars there. Meanwhile, basketball players still playing were otherwise occupied last night...

Bulls turn up heat on LeBron: When isn't the pressure on LeBron James? But sometimes it's more
palpable. Like now, after the Cavaliers went down 1-0 in the 1aa1abullsheatEastern semifinals with a 99-92 home playoff loss to the Bulls entering Game 2 tonight. Did you love it, Heat fans? (Design at left making the rounds on Twitter reflects how the Bulls have become the adopted team of anti-LeBron Heat fans). Derrick Rose was good, Pau Gasol was better and Jimmy Butler stepped up for Chicago, while Cleveland, playing without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, got 30 from Kyrie Irving but not enough from LeBron. He nearly had a triple-double (19 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists), but also was only 9-for-22 shooting and had six turnovers. "I wasn't that good tonight," said James. No, he wasn't. And he'll need to be better than good -- he'll need to be vintage, MVP-caliber great -- for Cavs to move on.

POST-DRAFT SUPER BOWL, ROOKIE ODDS: New post-draft odds via Bovada have Seahawks an 11-2 Super Bowl favorite followed by Packers 7-1, Patriots 15-2, Colts 8-1 and Cowboys 10-1. Dolphins are 40-1, tied for 17th. AFC East odds are Pats 1-2, Fins and Bills both 5-1, and Jets 9-1. Rookie of the year odds find Melvin Gordon at 13-2 atop a bunched marquee over Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota both 7-1, Amari Cooper 15-2 and Todd Gurley 8-1. Miami's DeVante Cooper is 11th at 16-1. Two ex-Canes show: Phillip Dorsett 14-1 and Duke Johnson 25-1.

1aa1adevantepFins' Parker seen as 'impact' rookie: Mel Kiper Jr. names 10 "impact" rookies from the 2015 draft (five offense, five on D) and Dolphins' WR DeVante Parker is one. Kiper says, "Parker will get his because while Ryan Tannehill has other options in the passing game, such as Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills, Parker is easily the best big-play threat in the receiving corps. I could see him getting red zone looks as a jump-ball winner." Parker's target numbers? Here are Dolphins rookie single-season records in the major receiving categories: Catches--84, Landry, 2014; Yards--883, Chris Chambers, 2001; TDs--7, Chambers.

1aa1adeegIN CELEBRATION OF DEE GORDON: So many free-agent or draft busts and disappointments around here. Dion Jordan, Michael Beasley, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Time to celebrate a newcomer success: Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon (pictured), currently leading all of MLB in hitting at .422 (46 hits in 109 at-bats). That's a staggering first month of play that gives Gordon a leg up on Miami's single-season record for batting average. The club's career top five:

Average    Player                    Year

.342         Hanley Ramirez      2009

.339         Miguel Cabrera       2006

.334         Luis Castillo           2000

,332         Hanley Ramirez      2007

.325         Juan Pierre             2004

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

May 03, 2015

Ndamukong Suh arm-wrestles Warren Buffett (with video); plus Kiper's grade/analysis of Dolphins draft and note on Mel Kiper Sr.; also latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Fins, big fight, Marlins, hot horse, Cavs-Bulls, drafted Canes & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 4. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Grade-Dolphins-draft poll, Super Saturday with Mayweather-Pacquiao and poll, NFL Draft, Kentucky Derby, NBA Game 7 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NDAMUKONG SUH ARM-WRESTLES WARREN BUFFETT: No, seriously. The Dolphins' behemoth defensive tackle was in Omaho on Sunday and arm-wrestled 84-year-old billionaire Warren Buffett, live, on CNBC, the business channel. The odd couple are friends who met through former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. I can hear Dolfans railing now, "Oh so this is why he can't be at the Dolphins conditioning program!" Two things. 1) It's a voluntary conditioning program in early May. 2) Ndamukong Suh is the very last member of this team whose conditioning or performance should be the subject of any concern.

 

KIPER GRADES DOLPHINS DRAFT 2ND-BEST IN AFC EAST: Dolfans graded the Dolphins draft a "B" (see poll results just below), and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. (pictured) agrees. His team-by-team draft grades today include these for the AFC East quartet: Jets A-minus, Dolphins B, Patriots B-minus and Bills C-minus. 1aa1amelkiperjrKiper on Miami's seven-man haul: "The Dolphins had one of my favorite picks of Round 1, and they didn't have to move to get their guy. DeVante Parker has the chance to be special and fills a clear need for them. I could have seen him going with any of the four picks ahead of Miami -- St. Louis, Minnesota, Cleveland and New Orleans -- so getting him at No. 14 was a good value. Jordan Phillips has first-round physical ability and third-round tape, so landing in Round 2 just about averages things out. The addition of Ndamukong Suh was impactful, but Miami can use the depth behind him or put Phillips and Suh on the field at the same time. If Phillips plays at Suh's effort level on every snap, there's a potential stud here. Jamil Douglas could play right away, given the need at guard, and though I thought Bobby McCain was a bit of a reach given some other cornerbacks available when he was taken, that's splitting hairs again. Jay Ajayi is a tough runner who fell on injury and ball security concerns, but if he's healthy, he can be really good. Tony Lippett is a player I expected to go earlier. If there's a question, it's the lack of a linebacker earlier on. The Parker pick really elevates this draft for me, and they can hope the coin flip on Phillips' becoming really good works out. But ultimately, I see one certainty here, and injury risk in a number of places."


1aa1amelsrHow come you never hear about Mel Kiper Sr?:
 Mel's father was in the vending machine business and also sold real estate and coached high-school baseball. He helped his son's early career by finding subscribers and advertisers for Mel's first draft newsletters. Senior died in 1988.

Poll result: Dolphins draft judged closer to good than great: We invited you in the previous blogpost to grade the Dolphins draft (you may still vote) based on initial reactions, and "B" won overwhelmingly with 60.8 percent, followed by "C" with 19.0%, "A" with 16.4% and "D" with 3.8%. Despite more C's than A's, it was still 77.2% overall who gave it an A or B.

HOT BUTTON MAY 3: 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. DOLPHINS: Fins get Parker in draft’s first round: Miami took Louisville receiver DeVante Parker 14th overall in the draft, and I’m not sure who was happier and smiling wider late Thursday night: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, for getting a premier 6-2 pass catcher, or yours truly for actually being right for once in his Miami Herald mock draft.

2. BOXING: Mayweather decisions Pacquiao: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquaio finally had their long-anticipated title fight in Las Vegas late Saturday night. It was the "Fight of the Century" and did not disappoint. Unless you had money on Pac Man. Or like a boxing match in which somebody actually gets hurt.

3. MARLINS: Hot Fish climb up to .500, then lose: The streaking Marlins had now won nine of past 10 games since the 3-11 start that almost got manager Mike Redmond prematurely fired, before losing yesterday. Now the Fish set out on a 10-game road trip. Uh oh. Could soon be time once again talk owner Jeffrey Loria out of doing something rash.

4. NFL DRAFT: Winston goes No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay: Controversial, scrutinized QB Jameis Winston of Florida State went No. 1 to the Bucs and immediately posted an Instagram photo of himself enjoying crab legs. In other words the guy known for making bad choices as a collegian took about nine seconds to make his first bad decision as a pro.

5. HORSE RACING: American Pharaoh wins Kentucky Derby: Betting favorite American Pharaoh finished strong Saturday to win the 141st Kentucky Derby, and now we're just 12 days from the Preakness. I really think this could finally be the year we have our first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Just like I thought last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and...

6. NBA: Clippers win Game 7 to complete final eight: Clippers' thrilling 111-109 Game 7 elimination of San Antonio Saturday moves NBA playoffs to conference semifinal round. Cavs-Bulls may be most interesting matchup ahead. Chicago might have real shot at an upset. Heat fans have a dilemma, though. Rooting against LeBron now means cheering for Joakim Noah.

7. HURRICANES: UM football sees seven players drafted: Tackle Ereck Flowers, ninth overall, led a parade of seven drafted Miami Hurricanes -- fourth-most behind FSU's 11, Louisville's 10 and Florida's eight. Glass half-empty: "No way UM should have finished 6-7 with all that talent." Glass half-full: "That Al Golden sure can recruit!"

8. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Marlins ace becomes U.S. citizen: Rehabbing young pitcher finally faced live batters in practice, but week's big news was the Cuba native taking his oath of citizenship. It proved once again that in America anything is possible. Especially if you happen to throw a 97 mph fastball.

9. DION JORDAN: Dumbass Dolphin draft-bust suspended again: Fins' disappointing 2013 draft bust screwed up again, failed a drug test again and was suspended again. Or, did that go without saying?

10. JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA: Marlins release free-agent bust catcher: The highlight of Jarrod's short-lived Marlins career? Led team last season in longest last name. 

Missing the cut: Billy Donovan leaves Gators for OKC, NHL playoffs, Baltimore riots affect on sports, English Premier League decides title, Tiger Woods in TPC Sawgrass, Giancarlo Stanton in GQ.

Poll result: Most wanted Pacquiao to win: We asked who you hoped won, and it was 76.3 percent for Manny Pacquiao over Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Was running closer to 78-79% prior to the fight).

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

May 02, 2015

Grade the Dolphins draft: Poll. Vote now!; plus Super Saturday: Mayweather-Pacquiao (with poll), 7th Cane drafted (2nd in nation), American Pharaoh, NBA Game 7, NHL playoffs, A-Rod & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 2. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft DeVante Parker with poll, my Mock Draft and results, Giancarlo Stanton in GQ & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

GRADE THE DOLPHINS 2015 DRAFT: I know, I know. Can't properly grade it 'til 2017 or '18 yadda yadda yadda. I get it. I hate the idea of instant analysis as well. But! Fans are still allowed to have an overall 1aa1acard 1aa1acardlogogut feeling on how it went -- on whether and how their team seemed to address its needs with players that provide optimism. So how'd the Dolphins do, Dolfans? Consider the bounty: Louisville WR DeVante Parker (1st round), Oklahoma DT Jordan Phillips (2nd), Arizona State OG Jamil Douglas (4th), Memphis CB Bobby McCain (5th), Boise State RB Jay Ajayi (5th), Minnesota S Ced Thompson (5th) and Michigan State WR Tony Lippett (5th). That's four on offense, three on defense, with position needs fairly well met. Phillips in the 2nd round seems the one possible red flag. Anyway, you've Googled the names, heard the Kipers and Grudens weigh in. Now it's your turn. How does Miami's seven-player draft class, weighted incrementally from top to bottom by round, make you think the Fins did overall? How do you feel? OK now give that feeling a letter grade that best reflects your gut reaction to how Miami did. Vote and say why.

1aa1asupersatSUPER SATURDAY: The single greatest day in sports history? Oh hell. Why not! Mayweather-Pacquiao. NFL Draft. Kentucky Derby. An NBA playoff Game 7. Stanley Cup action. Yanks-Red Sox and A-Rod. Um, anything else we can do for you? Enjoy...

 

1aa1amaypacMayweather-Pacquiao: Fight of the Century: Years in the making, the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquaio mega-fight late tonight in Las Vegas is expected to set pay-per-view records and is boxing's most anticipated bout in a long time. "Fight of the Century" fits, albeit a mere 15 years in. Might Mayweather (47-0) finally lose? Seeing that answer unfold is the main draw for many, me included. I sense that most are rooting for just such a comeuppance for Mayweather, but I may be wrong. Your poll results will tell me. This is not who you think will win, but who you hope wins. Betting interest aside, who do you want to win? Vote and say why.

1aa1adolparkNFL Draft: Big hit, big gamble go 1-2 for Dolphins: Rounds 4 through 7 wrap it up today, meaning your team will now be drafting guys you've probably never heard of. Even Mel Kiper Jr. might be faking it. The Dolphins hit big with WR DeVante Parker in the 1st round, gambled big with DT Jordan Phillips in the 2nd and had no 3rd rounder. Dolphins today picked Arizona State G Jamil Douglas in 4th round, Memphis CB Bobby McCain in 5th, Boise State RB Jay Ajayi in 5th, Minnesota S Ced Thompson in 5th and Michigan State WR Tony Lippett in 5th. That's it. No more Miami picks. Meanwhile seven Hurricanes joined the NFL: OT Ereck Flowers (1st round to Giants), WR Phillip Dorsett (1st to Colts), LB Denzel Perryman (2nd to Chargers), TE Clive Walford (3rd to Raiders), RB Duke Johnson (3rd to Browns) and, Hurricanes today added OG Jon Feliciano (4th to Raiders) and DE Anthony Chickillo (6th to Steelers). UM's seven draftees were second in nation, trailing only Florida State.


1aa1aamerpharKentucky Derby: American Pharaoh wins:
 "Hey remember me? I know y'all are consumed by the NFL Draft and the big fight, but I'm the Kentucky Freakin' Derby!" American Pharoah (pictured) at 13-5 was the betting fave for today's kickoff race to the Triple Crown season -- and showed why with a late finish from third to the win. I had a parochial rooting interest in Florida Derby winner Materiality at 14-1. Terrific race minted by a great finish. And they're off! Now we wait to see if Pharaoh will be the one to end the Triple Crown drought.

1aa1aclipspurNBA playoffs: Game 7 treat: Seven of eight first-round series are completed, most lopsidedly. Tonight completes the lpuzzle with San Antonio Spurs at L.A. Clippers in a Game 7. A rare treat, Game 7s. Do the old Spurs have one last hurrah in them or does tonight signal the end of their dynastic run? Delicious!

1aa1anyrStanley Cup playoffs: Pressure on Rangers: The four conference semifinals are underway, and in today's only game the New York Rangers hosted Washington today needing a win, and getting one, 3-2. Many see NYR as the Stanley Cup favorite but that might have changed if Rangers hadn't evened the series 1-1 today.

1aa1aarodMLB: Eyes on A-Rod: A Yankees-Red Sox series still pulses as baseball's best rivalry, but this weekend's series is extra special. Alex Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth all-time in career home runs last night but was homerless today. His passing the Say Hey Kid will be dubious, a tainted honor given A-Rod's steroid history. Would Bosox fans treat the historical moment with respect or boo? One more reason to watch.

Poll result: Y'all love Dolphins' DeVante Parker pick!: Rarely do we get this much consensus in a blog poll, but 71.6 percent said they "loved" Miami drafting WR DeVante Paerker NO. 1 and 22.3% said they "liked" it. That 93.9% approval rating left only 6.1% voting "so-so," "disliked" or "hated."

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