August 19, 2016

PS2: Dallas 41, Dolphins 14: Tannehill solid but defense blows; plus Greg's Lobos announce fantasy roster, with rate-the-team poll. Vote now!; also, Lochte's apology, Neil Diamond, your verdict on Hard Rock Stadium name & more

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

Iamisaid1) It is SATURDAY, AUGUST 20. Click here to read Ryan Lochte's apology for his behavior and falsehoods while at the Rio Olympics. 2) I have rediscovered a 1971 song, Neil Diamond's "I Am, I Said." It's a shade melodramatic, as is Diamond's style, but really compelling and gorgeous in a way. Listen here. 3) Ohio man arrested for trying to have sex with parked van. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Newly named Hard Rock Stadium with poll, Hillary as Usain, fading Marlins, Joy Taylor, your verdict on MLB's Purgatory Four & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI: Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter, the latest, on the Hard Rock rechristening of It's Still Joe Robbie Stadium to Me. A-Rod to Fish Made Sense, on what might've been. Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars, on the Purgatory Four. The Weight Has Just Begun, inside the office and expectations of new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt. A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating opening for Dolphins and Canes. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chased 3,000 hits.

It's baa-aaack! Dolfan Satisfaction Meter to return: The DSM postgame blog polls will be back for another season this year, but they begin with the regular season, not in the preseason. Look for the first one the night of Sept. 11 immediately following the opener at Seattle.

PS2: DALLAS 41, DOLPHINS 14: TANNEHILL SHINES; DEFENSE, NOT SO MUCH: Postgame thoughts: NFL history made last night. Believed to be first game in league's 97 seasons that included quarterbacks named "Zac" and "Dak." Ryan Tannehill strong overall in an active evening, 12-for-20 for 162 yards and two TDs, a fat 119.2 passer rating. That'll work. And good they let him and the offense breathe a bit. Also, coach Adam Gase upgraded from last week's sideline T-shirt to an actual collared shirt. Progress! The rest? Not so good. Debut of Arian Foster an anticlimactic nothing: 2 carries, minus-5 yards. Ten Dolphins penalties. Defense? Awful. All over. Front to back. Especially against the pass. Awful. I saw in one fantasy draft ranking Miami's defense was ranked 28th. Thought that was low. Now I get it. I don't care if it's August or not. You don't give up 41 points. Work to do at 1-1 as the preseason pivots. Fake-game No. 3 -- fast, this Thursday vs. Atlanta in Orlando -- will be the full-ish dress rehearsal where the starters play a lot. Then will come the exhibition finale and only preseason home game at the newly refurbished and rebranded Hard Rock Stadium. Real season opener at Seattle chugging in hard. Uh oh. Original post: Last week Miami won its exhibition opener 27-10 at the Giants after trailing 10-0. In the real season that Doldalwould have been impressive with no yeah-buts. In fake-game context it was boring and proved little, mainly because Ryan Tannehill barely played (seven snaps, four Afosterpasses) and we saw little of Adam Gase's new offense. That should change tonight in Dallas as Tanny plays significantly more and we more substantively see what the quick-release/short-pass attack might actually be like. The preseason debut of RB Arian Foster (pictured) will also be a factor in tonight having more of a "this is the real offense" feel than last week. Foster, the former Pro Bowl star coming back from injuries at age 29 and obtained dirt-cheap, is a real wild card this season. He and young Jay Ajayi are fighting for the starting job and primary workload. Expectations for Foster may be modest, but there also is a big upside. Foster outranks Ajayi on most fantasy draft boards. Dolfans allowing themselves to dream big and imagine what has to go right for this to be a playoff season are surely including a bona fide return to form by Foster. If he can be who he was for most of 2010-14, or even close, the Dolphins will have a bargain, and a godsend. His skills catching passes out of the backfield, in addition to the ball carrying, dovetails with elements of the Gase offense. A first look at Foster, more Tannehill, and Tony Romo starting on the other side will give tonight a real-game feel -- however briefly.

GREG'S LOBOS REVEAL 2016 DRAFT RESULTS AND ROSTER: We had our fantasy draft Thursday night in the league that had the winning bid to have Greg's Lobos join this season. I was amazed how many leagues across the country bid for a good cause: ESPN's annual V Foundation fundraiser. I believe the winning  bid topped Lobos$2,000. There will be three Greg's Lobos this season: this team, the one in the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz league, and the original Lobos from our friends 'n family league. Last night we drew the overall No. 3 pick in a standard-league, 10-team snake draft. The Lobos draft, in order by round: 1st round--RB Todd Gurley; 2nd--RB Mark Ingram; 3rd--WR Jordy Nelson; 4th--RB Carlos Hyde; 5th--WR Jarvis Landry; 6th--QB Ben Roethlisberger; 7th; WE Donte Moncrief; 8th--RB DeAngelo Williams; 9th--TE Martellus Bennett; 10th--WR Kevin White; 11th--TE Julius Thomas; 12th--QB Jameis Winston; 13th--WR Travis Benjamin; 14th--RB Benjamin Cunningham; 15th--Vikings D/ST; 16th--PK Matt Prater. I am pinning my hopes on huge productivity from Big Ben, superstar breakout numbers from Gurley, and big stat seasons from Ingram/Nelson/Landry. (Click here for a video on Landry's training regimen). But the Lobos' secret weapon could be Hyde, who I see as poised to bust out as a top-tier back this season, especially in that Niners offense. I like my team. Do you? Let us know in the poll below. Here's the team based on projected starting lineup:

QB: Ben Roethlisberger

RB: Todd Gurley

RB: Carlos Hyde

WR: Jordy Nelson

WR: Jarvis Landry

TE: Martellus Bennett

FLEX: RB Mark Ingram

D/S: Vikings

PK: Matt Prater

Reserves: WRs Donte Moncrief, Kevin White and Travis Benjamin; RBs DeAngelo Williams and Benjamin Cunningham; TE Julius Thomas and QB Jameis Winston.

Poll result: A strong thumbs-up for the new Hard Rock Stadium name: We asked what best represents how you feel about "Hard Rock Stadium" as the new name for where the Dolphins and Hurricanes play. A plurality of 31.0 percent voted, "Whatever. It'll always be Joe Robbie Stadium to me." However, otherwise, the new name met with huge approval, with love/like swamping dislike/hate by a landslide 9-to-1 margin of 53.9% to 5.9%. The breakdown: Love 28.2%, Like 25.7%, Dislike 3.0% and Hate 2.8%. The remaining 9.3% chose the poll option, "

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

August 09, 2016

Should Marlins sign a soon-available Alex Rodriguez? Poll. Laast day to vote!; plus Mark Richt column, Radio Tuesday, latest Hot Button Top 10 starring Ichiro 3K, Rio, Canton, Fins, D-Wade; also, your verdict on win totals for Canes/Dolphins & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, AUGUST 9. We're back from a near two-week hiatus from the blog while we were away vacationing along California's Central Coast. Might have more on that later. The Hot Button Top 10 returns after taking last Sunday off. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: After a week's vacation we're back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, with the national show also visible on ESPNU. We have a new Back In My Day ready to go.  

Step into the office, and expectations, of Mark Richt: We visited privately with Miami Hurricanes football coach Mark Richt yesterday, stepping into his office and his world. Click on The Weight Has Just Begun for the column that resulted.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Dwyane Wade's departure from Heat creating a chance for Dolphins and Canes. Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp nears. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that says it all.

SHOULD MARLINS SIGN A-ROD FOR REMAINDER OF SEASON?: What happened on Sunday with the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez was weird. It was announced his final game for the team would be this Friday, and that he would then segue into a role as team consultant and spring instructor. Hmm. It seemed less like a sudden retirement than it did New York pretty much telling A-Rod Arodto get lost but showing him the respect to make it seem like his decision. Rodriguez, even at 41, didn't seem like a guy ready to call it quits -- certainly not with one third of a season left. "Of course, I think I can play baseball," Rodriguez said. "You always think you have one more hit in you." It is important to note that A-Rod, after Friday, will be free to sign with any other team if that chance arose, and that he did not rule out that possibility. Miami Marlins, perhaps? It makes enough sense to at least consider. From A-Rod's view, he is from Miami. He lives here. The Marlins would be the perfect situation for him to have a proper farewell to the game, not the awkward, sudden goodbye from New York. From the Marlins' view, signing A-Rod for the remaining 47 games (after Friday) would boost attendance at least somewhat as it gave him a chance to get the four more home runs needed to reach 700. Ichiro got to 3,000 MLB hits in a Marlins uniform. Might A-Rod's milestone also come in a Fish uni? There is little question Rodriguez-to-Marlins make sense from his perspective and from that of the club's marketing side. Though his career has been tainted by steroids, I think he would be embraced by most Marlins fans. (Maybe not; the poll below will shed light on that). The one determining factor, the only one that matters: Would A-Rod, in a reserve/pinchhitter role, help the Marlins as they chase an NL wild-card spot? Is there room for him on the roster? That is all that matters. Miami should not sign A-Rod to be nice or as a publicity stunt in pursuit of slightly bigger crowds. No room for that in a playoff race. But if Don Mattingly thinks adding A-Rod's bat and experience would be a plus, then yes. I doubt this will happen, of course, but it's plausible enough to make it fun to consider. Take a dip in our poll, share your thoughts and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Ichiro (finally) reaches 3,000 hits!: Marlins are in a pitched battle for that second NL wild-card spot as six-game homestand begins tonight vs. Giants, but the overriding news is Ichiro reaching 3,000 MLB hits with a triple last night in San Diego. He is only the 30th ever to do it. The Marlins should have sat Ichiro yesterday and let him reach the milestone at home. That's according to me and, I'd imagine, Jeffrey Loria. Nevertheless, congrats on a remarkable achievement -- one of the biggest ever by an athlete in a Miami uniform. 

2. OLYMPICS: Summer Games underway in Rio: Rio de Janiero is hosting the Summer Olympics through Aug. 21 and, other than crime, terrorist concerns, polluted water and other issues, all is going well. Back home, Hillary Clinton wished the U.S. athletes well. Donald Trump quickly Tweeted that crooked Hillary could not be more wrong.

3. ALEX RODRIGUEZ: A-Rod retiring, will become Yankees adviser: The Yankees and slumping veteran Alex Rodriguez of Miami announced Sunday that A-Rod would play his final game for the Yanks on Friday, then become a team adviser and instructor. So begins the five-year wait until Cooperstown first says no to steroids-tainted A-Rod.

4. NFL: First football game of season canceled in Canton: Saturday in Canton saw the induction of the six newest Pro Football Hall of Fame members led by Brett Favre. Sunday was to bring Colts-Packers in the season's first exhibition game, but the game was canceled because the paint used on the field was too hard, dried like cement and was a hazard to players. No, seriously. You can't make this s--- up, folks. Are you ready for some football? Apparently the field crew in Canton wasn't.

5. DOLPHINS: Fins three days from exhibition opener: Lots of extraneous stuff. Hard Rock looms as frontrunner for stadium naming rights. Training camp visitors include Peyton Manning and WWE star The Big Show. Ryan Tannehill's wife has a baby boy named Steel. NFL reinstates Dion Jordan, who immediately goes on injury list. But cutting through all that? Monday dawns the first game week of season, with exhibition opener this Friday at Giants. So here come your Dolphins. Ready or not...

6. HEAT: Wade's return to Miami set for Nov. 10: Dwyane Wade, in a Chicago Bulls uniform, makes his first return to Miami on Nov. 10, a Thursday night. That's in 94 days. Not that I'm counting.

7. HURRICANES: Media, fan events on deck as season draws nearer: UM's football media day was Monday, (click on The Weight Has Just Begun for my new column on Mark Richt), and then Canesfest fan events are this coming Saturday as Richt's debut season draws ever nearer. 

8. GOLF: Walker wins PGA Championship: Jimmy Walker won the PGA Championship, the year's final major. It was the first time Walker had been in the news since starring as J.J. in Good Times in the '70s.

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Playoff ends its New Year's Eve games: The College Football Playoff is ending its New Year's Eve semifinals after only one year. Explained a CFP official: "We really had our head up our a-- on that one!"

10. MICHAEL JORDAN: NBA icon breaks silence: Michael Jordan, always hesitant to share personal views, spoke out on the subject of gun violence. Turns out he's against it. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Giancarlo Stanton's 496-foot home run just landed ..... The Marlins unveiled their 2017 All-Star Game logo. Nothing went wrong and people thought it was pretty good ..... Dolphins owner Stephen Ross held a business seminar for five Fins players interested in post-football careers. His advice to them: Become a billionaire. Makes everything so much easier! ..... Michael Vick, 36, is working out in Broward hoping for one last NFL shot. Those who have watched him train tell us Vick is not doggin' it. (Sorry) ..... Steve Spurrier is back with the Florida Gators as ambassador and consultant. Also, as an ad-Visor ..... Jim Turner, fired as a Dolphins assistant coach for his role in Bulygate, has been suspended by Texas A&M for showing a sexually suggestive video during a women's football clinic. Turner is 51 but evidently still in middle school ..... FIU baseball player Nick Day saved the life of a man who'd been in an auto accident in Arizona. Player of the week? ..... Fort Lauderdale Strikers played heir final game at Lockhart Stadium. Hardly anybody cared, but the ghosts of 1977 wept ..... St. Thomas Aquinas' John Bosa is holding out as a Chargers rookie. How Not to Begin Your NFL Career 101 ..... It's a challenging year to be a Kyle Busch hater ..... A veteran scout who wished to remain anonymous has criticized as "uninformed" a veteran unnamed front-office official ..... Finally, a man died during Florida's annual lobster miniseason. I keep telling you cheapstakes to order a lobster at a restaurant or buy one at Publix. Much safer that way.

Poll results: Higher hopes for Hurricanes than for Dolphins: We invited you to set the bar on expectations for the coming Hurricanes and Dolphins seasons and you set it higher for UM than for the Fins. For the Canes overall it was 8.95 wins and for the Dolphins 8.29, even though UM plays at least four fewer games. The breakdown: Hurricanes--44.6% 9 wins; 31.6% 10-plus wins; 15.4% 8 wins; 4.5% 7 wins; and 3.9% 6-fewer wins. Dolphins--31.4 percent 9 wins; 29.6% 8 wins; 15.3% 10-plus wins; 14.2% 7 wins; and 9.5% 6-fewer wins.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

July 23, 2016

Is NBA right to pull '17 All-Star Game from Charlotte over anti-LGBT law? New poll. Vote now!; plus new NFL MVP odds, Canes' Richt at ACC Kickoff, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, your verdict on Ajayi vs. Foster & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 23. Ichiro is at 2,996 hits after going 0-for-1 in last night's homestand-opening Marlins loss, and is not in starting lineup tonight. Now likely his milestone hit wouldn't come before Monday at earliest. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins sign Arian Foster with poll, Canes football on "surprise" list, LeBron James parties & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

New NFL MVP odds: Via Bovada, Packers' Aaron Rodgers opens as betting favorite to win NFL MVP award at 4-1 odds, followed by Ben Roethlisberger 7-1, Cam Newton 15-2, Russell Wilson 8-1 and Tom Brady 9-1, the latter devalued because of four-game suspension. Top Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 150-1, tied for 34th.

NBA LEADS WAY IN LEAGUES/ATHLETES DELVING INTO POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES: The NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver made good on a threat Thursday and removed the league's 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, N.C., because that state's refusal to repeal a law that critics say is anti-LGBTQ and encourages discrimination based on sex and gender. But, that same day, Nbaasg17in that same Charlotte, the ACC Football Kickoff (including the Miami Hurricanes) was held. Clearly, sports is still feeling its way in terms of whether to act or not in decisions that are political or involve social issues. Also, clearly, the NBA is leading the way on action. Just last week, it was four NBA star who opened the ESPY Awards with powerful statements agsint gun violence and shooting by and of police. There still is uncertainty, though, as seen in the WNBA, which fined players from three teams for wearing T-shirts during warmups Thursday in protest of recent police-related violence, yet in a statement said, "We are proud of WNBA players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues." Hmm. What to do? Should leagues and athletes "stick to sports" and not blur the line on social activism? Or is it right that leagues and players, as role models, lead the way in weighing in on such stuff? I align with the latter view. We offer this poll as a microcosm or indication of how our readers feel on this broad question. I'll vote "yes," but it is your consensus that will paint the picture. Vote now, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

FAREWELL, LOCKHART STADIUM: AN ODE TO THE ORIGINAL STRIKERS: [Click on Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham for our latest column. An alternate blog-exclusive version follows here] This was circa 1977-83, pre-Major League Soccer, when the original North American Soccer League had earned a foothold in this country, and when the original Fort FtlstrikersLauderdale Strikers had done the same locally, winning a loyal and considerable following. Lockhart Stadium, off I-95 and Commercial, filled to near its 20,000- Rayhudsonseat capacity for most home games. It was intimate, conveying a Fenway or Wrigley vibe for the lads in the bumblebee uniforms. Tailgating was huge. Fans showed up hours early. Strikers flags waved in the parking lots amid the rising smoke from cookout grills. This was pre-Heat, Marlins or Panthers. Other than Dolphins and Canes the Strikers  were the biggest thing in town. Lockhart Stadium is where showman-coach Ron Newman once rose from a coffin at midfield to demonstrate his team's resilience. Where a young blond Brit named Ray Hudson (pictured) made the women swoon. Where European legends like Gerd Muller and Georgie Best played their career's winters. Where a Rotten to the Cor banner flew against Dutch coach Cor Van der Hart. I covered those early Strikers teams as a fulltime beat, my first big break and major assignment for the Miami Herald. Interest (and travel budgets) were high, so all of a sudden I'm a kid being sent to Vancouver to cover a team. It seemed like a big deal. And it was, for a time. Now fast forward almost 40 years, if you can believe that. MLS is futbol king in America now. The NASL is still Ronnewmanaround, but as a diminished, second-tier league. The Strikers are still around in their latest iteration, but a shell of their former selves. This week those Strikers, currently averaging a meager 1,310 fans per game, worst in the NASL, announced they are leaving Lockhart for Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill (starting Aug. 20), which is one-fourth the capacity. It may be because Lockhart is now old and decrepit. Or because developers want to turn that area into a water theme park. Or because the Strikers are waving a white towel and admitting a team playing to 85 percent empty seats presents a depressing tableau. It may be some of all of that. What it also is: A chapter ending for a small but not insignificant piece of South Florida sports history. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Lockhart Stadium -- the original version. There was a time when that marriage was strong and supported buoyantly, back in the day, before Greater Miami boomed into a major sports town, and it should remain the template as David Beckham continues trying to realize his dream for an MLS team in Miami. Strikers home games were an event, Lockhart was home, and in the teeming crowd it felt like you were surrounded by friends and neighbors. Farewell, Original Strikers at Lockhart. It didn't end right, but those halcyon days as the late '70s turned to early '80s contributed some special snapshots to the album of our sports history.

Poll result: Foster edges Ajayi for Dolphins RB in closest vote ever: We asked which running back you expect will have the bigger role in Dolphins' offense this season, and it was newly acquired Arian Foster edging young Jay Ajayi by 50.9 percent to 49.1% as we called it final. I cannot think of a closer either/or vote in all the years of our blog polls. The lead went back and forth. You truly were torn.

WHAT MARK RICHT SAID TO ACC MEDIA THAT REALLY MATTERED: University of Miami's time slot was this week at the ACC Football Kickoff and media days in Charlotte. We cull though the boring stuff and bring you what we found most notable from coach Mark Richt: On the season and immediate outlook: "If we do things right and don't do things to hurt ourselves, there's a great chance to have Theusuccess. And then, once we get the ball rolling, I think people will say, 'Miami is back.' I don’t think people will say, 'Miami’s having a good year.' They'll say, 'Miami’s back.' You can say you’re back when you have the tradition of five national championships in the last 30 years." On his attitude with assistant coaches: "I got to cherry-pick guys that would really buy into how I like to do things. I told the coaches that I am coaching QBs again, I'm calling plays, I'm getting in the middle of this offense. I don't have time to baby-sit anybody. I tell them if I have to motivate you, we've got a problem. If I’ve got to motivate a staff member to do his job, I’m probably going to get another staff member." On his deep religious beliefs: "I happen to be a Christian. That's just what I am. I'm not using it. I think we need to be true to who we are, what we believe. I'm not trying to make anybody believe anything I believe. I just want to do things in a way that I think God would be pleased with me. That's my goal on a daily basis. I'm not trying to use anything. I'm just trying to be who I am." On recruiting and relationships: "The big thing is to make sure that the high school coaches know that they're welcome in our place, that we want to recruit their guys, we want the local guys to stay home, and we want to be honest with everybody and do our recruiting in a way that everybody appreciates." On his goal for UM in 2016: "Win the Coastal division. Get back to the ACC championship game." Pictured, apropos of nothing: Snoop (The U) Dogg.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

July 14, 2016

Wade and others' ESPY anti-violence video; plus Brady ban impact on Dolphins: My column with poll. Vote now!; also, grading 7 Marlins reps' All-Star performances, new MVP/Cy Young odds, Greg's Lobos news, latest 'Back In My Day' & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 14. See NBA stars' anti-violence video below, near end of this blogpost. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Strange fate of Heat's Big 3, mouth of Miko strikes again,UFC sells for $4B, history of Marlins in Home Run Derby, Ricky Williams/pot video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The latest 'Back In My Day': Click on Retail Desperation for our latest Back In My Day segment from Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Link gets you to ESPN Radio podcast, and from there the new BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they deserved another look: The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, the latest, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our Sunday farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

New MVP, Cy Young odds for MLB, Fish: New today via Bovada, NL and AL MVP favorites are Kris Bryant at 11-4 and Mike Trout at 7-2, respectively. Cy Young leaders are Clayton Kershaw at 11-10 and Chris Sale at 4-5. For Marlins, Jose Fernandez is 12-1 (6th place) for Cy and Giancarlo Stanton 33-1 (9th) for MVP. 

New Dolphins column in wake of Brady news: Click on Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image for my new column, in wake of today's court ruling upholding Tom Brady's four-game suspension.

HOPE FOR DOLPHINS? BRADY 4-GAME SUSPENSION UPHELD: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lost big in court this Wednesday morning when his four-game Deflategate suspension was upheld Bradyupheldin New York by the 2nd. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling essentially is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers to suspend Brady for his role in the doctoring of footballs used in 2014-season playoff game vs. the Colts. It's a big victory for Goodell. It's also a win for AFC East rivals Miami, Buffalo and the New York Jets. Brady's final hope would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Otherwise, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, not Brady, would start New England's first four games vs. the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans and Bills. Brady's season debut would then be in Week 5 vs.Cleveland. The Miami game Brady would miss is at New England. An oddsmaker buddy of mine told me this morning the Patriots still will be a decided favorite in the game, though likely now by around 6 points instead of around 9 points. Take a dip in our poll and tell us what best represents what you think will be the impact of Brady's suspension on the coming season. Not what you hope, but what you honestly believe. Then check back often to monitor evolving results.

GRADING MARLINS REPS' ALL-STAR BREAK PERFORMANCES: The Marlins had seven representatives at MLB's All-Star festivities in San Diego concluding last night. Grading them top to bottom:

StantonhrdGiancarlo Stanton: A+: I mean, he hit record 61 home runs to dominate Home Run Derby, including 20 of 21 longest dongs. He crushed it. Literally.

Marcell Ozuna: B: Started in CF at All-Star Game (because Yoenis Cespedes could not) and was 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Josh Naylor: B: Franchise's No. 2 prospect had two hits and an RBI as team's only representative in Futures Game.

Fernando Rodney: B: Pitched a neat, scoreless 2/3 inning with a strikeout.

A.J. Ramos: Inc.: Selected but did not appear in ASG.

Marlins Man: C-: Was relegated to the third row behind plate. And in first row was a man in a competing orange shirt. Oh the indignity!

Jose Fernandez: D: Sorry, Jose, but we always expect dominance. Gave up two hits and a run in 1 1/3 innings.

MIAMI HAD REASON TO WATCH ESPYS, AFTER ALL: The ESPYs were broadcast last night from Los Angeles, because ESPN doesn't get enough attention, and because there aren't enough awards shows. South Florida was close to bereft of nominees, save for Palm Beach's Serena Williams nominated (of course) for Best Female Tennis Player, one of 31 categories. Heat fans also saw the evening turn into the LeBron James Show, with him a winner for Best Male Athlete and Best Championship Performance. But! The show's highlight came at the beginning, when NBA friends LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul spoke out against gun violence and racial divide and exhorted fellow athletes to become involved as positive influences. Powerful stuff. Well said, and done. Video here:

 

Greg's Lobos earn $1,550 for charity: The ESPYs are a fundraiser for the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research, and one of the items up for bid this year, through ESPN Radio's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, was for my Greg's Lobos to be in your fantasy football league. Astonishingly, there were 113 bids in only a 24-hour window, and the winning bid was $1,550 by a charitable buyer in San Luis Obispo, Cal. Thank you. Look forward to hooking up for the draft. Go Lobos!

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

June 17, 2016

キングを打ちます (Hit King): The Wonder of Ichiro; plus Al Golden speaks (albeit blandly), pitchers in Home Run Derby a good idea? (poll; vote now!), Reshad Jones gets smart, Richie Incognito has an app, glorious return of Curb & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 17. Thoughts with that vacationing Nebraska family that lost their 2-year-old boy to an alligator in Orlando. So sad. 2) Classy: ESPN inviting leukemia-battling Craig Sager of Turner Sports/TNT to serve as sideline reporter for NBA Finals Game 6 last night was so wonderful. Well done! 3) Fan of our LeBatard Show "Back In My Day" segments? Click here for the ESPN Radio podcast of this week's appearance. The latest BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 11 minute mark. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Terrorism and the threat to American sports & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat. 

A video tribute to The Greatest ... and to a father: Whether you missed this or just want to see it again, click on Photographic Memories of Clay Becoming Ali for a video by Miami Herald photographer Charles Trainor, Jr. of photos taken by his father, Charles Trainor. It's a tribute to Ali, but also to a father, from his son. Wonderful stuff.

Six-pack: Six selected recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, the new one, on Marlins' Ichiro's hits milestone. The Weight of Tradition, off Canes' Omaha-clinching baseball win. LeBron Wants More Than Title From Finals, on LeBron James angling to take back best-player crown from Steph Curry. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Muhammad Ali set template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Ichiroキングを打ちます (HIT KING): THE WONDER OF ICHIRO: The Marlins lost in San Diego to their road trip 4-5, but attention riveted to Ichiro for a brighter reason. His single and double gave him 4,257 career professional hits including MLB and Japan -- one more than Pete Rose's MLB record of 4,256. Of course Rose maintains the MLB record for most career hits by a comfortable and perhaps unassailable margin. But Ichiro's milestone is important and deserves respect -- Japan to South Florida and all across baseball -- even if Rose himself seems to begrudge the achievement. The reasons why it's important and the wonder of Ichiro is the topic of my latest column, online after also appearing in Miami Herald inky pulp editions. Click on Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not to read in full.

AL GOLDEN SPEAKS (BLANDLY) OF HIS CANES TENURE: Al Golden, now the Lions tight ends coach, spoke for the first time yesterday about his UM tenure that ended in his firing during last season, in an intervkew with the Detroit Free Press. Boring, but here it is: "I took the job without knowing that there was an impending NCAA investigation and eight months into it, it blew up and it took its toll, and that’s it. I haven’t looked back since. I miss the players. I miss the people that were supportive of my family and I, the people that were friends. But other than that we’ve moved on."

ReshadjonesDOLPHINS' RESHAD JONES WISELY ENDS HOLDOUT AFTER 1 DAY: Reshad Jones incurred a fine by skipping the first day of the Dolphins' three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday but showed up Wednesday. Wise of him, financially. And always nice when an athlete deigns to fulfill the obligations of the contract he agreed to. In this case Jones signed a four-year extension in 2013 that will pay him around $14.3 million in base salary this season and next -- a deal he now believes underpays him. So he did the NFL equivalent of a child holding his breath to get his way, holding out in hopes of pressuring the club to renegotiate his deal. Jones calls himself "the best safety in the NFL." No. He is among the best, though, and his contract is commensurate. It is fair; although the way these things work, I'd expect Miami will agree to renegotiate a further extension to both keep and keep happy one of its best players. But here is the thing about pro contracts that doesn't get written or said much: they serve to protect the player, too, even if said player feels he is underpaid. If Reshad Jones busts an ankle tomorrow for example and is out for the season, he still gets paid. If he has an awful year with zero interceptions and gets benched, he stills gets paid. Something else for any athlete to consider: When complaining you are underpaid while making $7 million a year, complain loudly at your own risk, because your team's fans can only imagine being lucky enough to think such wealth isn't enough.

PITCHERS: STAY IN YOUR LANE. NOBODY WANTS TO SEE YOU BAT: At least five prominent NL pitchers including the Marlins' Jose Fernandez are making noise about wanting Allstargameto be included in the July 11 Home Run Derby prior to the All-Star Game. It's a bad idea for a few reasons. One is the risk of injury from over-swinging. Another is that even the best-hitting pitchers aren't that good at hitting. Another is the HR Derby doesn't need yet another format change. Finally, if somehow a pitcher did happen to win the thing, it would be an embarrassment to MLB (not to mention to the sluggers actually paid to hit home runs). But enough of my opinion. Have your say in the poll below:

RichieTHERE IS NOW A RICHIE INCOGNITO APP. NO, SERIOUSLY: Want to get closer to the one athlete in all of American sports most associated with the word "bullying"? There's an app for that! Former Dolphins' Bullygate star Richie Incognito, now of the Bills, launched an app this week. Oh how I wish I were kidding. Click here to prove I'm not. The app offers "the latest news and information" on Incognito, almost as if you need that, want that or can't get that a thousand other places. The app also offers "an interactive community, music, videos, early access to events and much more." I cannot yet confirm whether the app does or will additionally offer basic or advanced tips on bullying. A Richie Incognito app! I love it when athletes imagine an overwhelming interest in themselves that really does not exist. Richie, you're a lineman, a grunt for a small-market team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999. You're a pretty good (not great) guard who is best known for awful behavior. But good luck with the app, bud.

BLEIER UPDATE: FIRST BAD OUTING: Remember our recent column on Richard Bleier, the former South Plantation pitcher called up by the Yankees to finally make his MLB debut at age 29? (Click on A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop for the column). Well, Richard made his fifth big-league appearance Tuesday night and finally got hit hard, giving up five hits and three runs in 1.1 innings to the Rockies. He hadn't given up a run in 3.2 innings before that.

LarrydavidNO, I WILL NOT CURB MY ENTHUSIASM!: I could not be happier in trumpeting the long-awaited return of HBO's brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show's creator and comic-genius star, Larry David, announced, "In the immortal words of Julius Caesar, 'I left, I did nothing, I returned'." HBO did not reveal an exact return date but just the official word that it would return was met with cheers. The show has been on hiatus -- and missed by legions, including me -- since September 2011.

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May 30, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); plus who's feeling most heat in South Florida sports? 12 choices, you pick 3. Poll. Vote!; also, Memorial Day, long climb of Richard Bleier, extraordinary life of Charley Winner, your verdict on SB turf wars & more

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

Memorialday1) It is MONDAY, MAY 30. Remembering and honoring America's war dead on this Memorial Day. We are the land of the free because of the  brave, and these were the bravest. See our Memorial Day tribute video below. 2) Thoughts and best wishes to former Hurricanes receiver Brett Perriman on his recovery in Atlanta from a stroke. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Turf Wars on Super Bowl name with poll, rooting for LeBron, your preferred NBA Finals matchup & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The Under Pressure 12, the new one, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive. Whale Watching Expedition, on how Heat's best shot for a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James this summer is for Miami fans to hope LeBron wins the NBA title.

PressureUNDER PRESSURE: WHO'S FEELING THE HEAT IN SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS: My latest Sunday column (click The Under Pressure 12 to read in full) explores the topic of pressure and lists the dozen South Florida sports figures who are or should be feeling the most of it. The reason vary, starting with No. 1 on our list, Chris Bosh, whose medical situation puts him under a much different pressure than Ryan Tannehill, who must win, or Giancarlo Stanton, who must perform to the tune of $325 million. Everyone has his own definition of pressure in sports and their own thoughts on who's under it. I am curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll, the dozen choices listed alphabetically, and vote for the three (3) you think are or should be under the most pressure. Then check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: NFL rewards Stephen Ross, names Dolphins stadium as 2020 SB host: Miami and a refurbished, canopied Dolphins stadium in 2020 will host its first Super Bowl since 2010, thanks to a vote of NFL owners this week. Your city hosting a Super Bowl? Good. Your city playing in one? Infinitely better.

2. NBA: LeBron awaits Oklahoma City-Golden State Game 7 winner tonight: Well, Heat fans are guaranteed at least four more games to cheer or boo. LeBron's in the Finals! The question is who Cleveland will face, with Oklahoma City going to a Game 7 at Golden State tonight. LeBron vs. Kevin Durant or LeBron vs. Steph Curry. Fans can't lose.

3. MARLINS: Jose en fuego; Fish finally figure out Braves: Miami is hanging within striking distance of playoff contention and one reason is ace Jose Fernandez, who in last four starts has allowed three runs with 43 strikeouts in 27 innings. Fish are back home this week and Jose pitches Tuesday. Meanwhile Miami finally figured out Atlanta. Before yesterday the Braves had been are 5-0 vs. Miami, 9-34 against everybody else.

4. SOCCER: Real Madrid reigns, now Copa America on deck: It was Real Madrid beating Atletico Madrid on penalties Saturday after a 1-1 game in the UEFA Champions League final. Now comes Copa America June 3-26 in 10 U.S. cities, with the U.S. team debuting this coming Friday vs. Colombia. A championship by the hosts? That’s the goooooaaaaalll!

5. NHL: It’s a Pittsburgh-San Jose Stanley Cup Finals: NHL begins to reveal its next champion with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. San Jose is making its first SCF appearance. Pittsburgh is in its fifth, including titles in 1991, 1992, 2009.

6. AUTO RACING: Rookie wins centennial Indianapolis 500: NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 ran, too, but the Indy 500 is the one day Indy-car racing owns the sport of auto racing. Especially when it happens to be the 100th running of "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing," won Sunday by rookie Alexander Rossi.

7. CANES BASEBALL: UM falls short in ACC, but named regional host: The No. 3-ranked and top-seeded Miami Hurricanes failed to reach Sunday's ACC Tournament championship game, but still were named an NCAA Regional host as expected. Today the Canes learn which other teams will be here. For UM, as always, the Regionals mean one thing. Omaha or bust.

8. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic in line for milestones at midpoint of French Open: A title by Serena Williams would tie Steffi Graf's open-era record of 22 majors, while a French title is the only major that has eluded Novak Djokovic, whose path cleared when Rafael Nadal withdrew with a wrist injury.

9. DOLPHINS: Fins continue offseason OTA practices: The next ones are Tuesday through Thursday. OTA stands for "organized team activities," which always sounds to me like something that should involve arts and crafts, like making a log cabin out of popsicle sticks.

10. PANTHERS: Cats trade Gudbranson, plan unveiling: Florida continued to fix what wasn't broke, trading young defenseman Erik Gudbranson. This Thursday the club unveils its new logo and uniforms. Team will look different next season. Question is whether they'll look like a team ready to win a playoff series for first time since 1996.

Missing the cut: Canes football coach Mark Richt is donating $1 million toward the school's new indoor practice facility. Richt hasn't coached a game yet, but he keeps winning. ..... It took eight games but NASL  expansion team Miami FC earned its first victory, 1-0 over Edmonton. Congrats, I think ..... Chris Berman will step down from his current role at ESPN after this coming football season, meaning he won't be backbackbackbackback ..... Quick aside to Koa Misi: Nothing good ever happens outside a nightclub at 3:40 a.m. ..... Heat lost without playing as Erik Spoelstra's top assistant, David Fizdale, headed to Memphis ..... Scandal-plagued Baylor fired football coach Art Briles over his handling of sexual assault charge against players, and Ole Miss self-imposed sanctions for rules violations. The 'C' in NCAA stands for cheating, right? ..... Tom Brady is appealing his four-game Deflategate suspension. You get the feeling Brady will be retired and perhaps dead and this thing will still be going on in the courts ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie, with one finalist stymied by the word "feldenkrais" and the other by "gesellschaft." I'm still trying to figure out how to spell "Krzyzewski" ..... Jose Mourinho is the new savior at Manchester United. Until he loses his first math ..... Colombia beat Haiti 3-1 yesterday at Marlins Park. I wonder if soccer fans booed Jeffrey Loria just on principle? ..... There is increasing media speculation that Tiger Woods may never play again, one more reason to hope he does ..... Sport Name of the Week: Last week's LPGA tournament runnerup, So Oh ..... Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity apologized for paying the rapper Ludacris $65,000 for a 13-minute performance at Bulldogs' spring game. Ludicrous! ..... Canada beat Finland 2-0 to win the world hockey championships in Moscow. "We'd rather have the Stanley Cup back," said Canada in unison ..... Miami Gun Show ended Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Yes, because, if there is one thing we need more of in Miami, it's guns!

RICHARD BLEIER: A LONG CLIMB, BUT HE MADE IT: Richard Bleier, a local kid who played ball at South Plantation High, this week became a major-league rookie at age 29, after a career's climb through the minor leagues. He is wearing New York Yankees pinstripes this weekend as the team that called him up on Thursday plays in Tampa Bay. He did not pitch in that series; his MLB debut could come tonight in Toronto. BleierHis Dad, Lawrence, is from the Bronx and grew up a Mickey Mantle-era Yankees fans, so this is all as exciting for him as it for his son. "It's a dream come true," Lawrence told the Fort Myers News-Press. (Richard pitched in college for Florida Gulf Coast there). "He’s been very level-headed about everything. He’s excited, but he has anticipated this day for a long time. So here he is. How long he will be there, we don’t know. Whatever it is, he’ll be a major leaguer. It’ll be in the baseball encyclopedia." Richard said in a text, "It's an awesome feeling. I've worked my entire life to get here." Richard was a teammate of my son Christopher's at South Plantation High, where I announced the games from a purple-painted wood pressbox overlooking home plate. Richard was a lanky lefthanded pitcher, rather stoic, prone to being a bit too hard on himself. His father would sometimes come up into the press box and kibitz for an inning or two. Since those days Richard has spent the last 10 or 12 years climbing, pitching, dreaming. He will wear uniform No. 50, and pitch out of the bullpen for the Yankees. I hope his stay in the big leagues lasts as long as it took him to finally get there, but perseverance is its own reward. As his Dad noted, no matter how long his stay, his name will be in the baseball encyclopedia now. No matter how long his stay, he made it. Congratulations, Richard.

Poll result: 'Miami' swamps 'South Florida' when it comes to Super Bowl: We asked what is the best title for the 2020 NFL championship game awarded this week, and it was 75.7 percent for 'Miami Super Bowl' and 24.3% for 'South Florida Super Bowl.'

REMEMBERING AND HONORING AMERICA'S WAR DEAD: This video is called "50,000 Names Carved In the Wall," by country legend George Jones. It about about the Vietnam Memorial, but its message reaches across all generations, wars and all who made the ultimate sacrifice. If you can watch this video without tearing up, you are a stronger person than I. (For those in a sentimental or patriotic mood today, I also recommend "Ragged Old Flag," by Johnny Cash). 

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 27, 2016

Turf Wars: Should it be 'Miami Super Bowl' or 'South Florida Super Bowl'? Poll. Vote now!: plus rooting for LeBron, verdict on the NBA Finals you want & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 27. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA Finals matchup you most want poll, separating Marlins from Loria, your verdict on a South Florida Super Bowl & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Whale Watching Expedition, the latest one, on how Heat's best shot for a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James this summer is for Miami fans to hope LeBron wins the NBA title. The LeBron & Draymond Follies, on the playoffs as NBA Follies. No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins, on how Fins must earn back the faith and trust they've lost.

Rooting for LeBron: Many if not most Heat fans don't want to, but should know it is in their best interest, because LeBron James delivering an NBA championship to Cleveland is the best shot Miami has at landing Kevin Durant or LeBron this summer. I explore in this week's latest column. Click on Whale Watching Expedition to read in full. [Quick aside: Metrics saying this column has been burning up MiamiHerald.com; one of the most-read pieces I've written in a while. Don't miss it].

TURF WARS: 'SOUTH FLORIDA' SUPER BOWL VS. 'MIAMI' SUPER BOWL: This debate interests me, and it is explained well by colleague Douglas Hanks in this story. I can speak pretty objectively here, I think, because I walk the line on Miami-Dade vs. Broward, on 305 vs. 954. A lot of both are in me. I work for the Miami Herald and do a radio show on South Beach. Yet I live
Sblogosin Broward, was raised there, and my social orbit revolves closer to Fort Lauderdale than farther south. I have a foot in each county, if you want to picture me as a Brobdingnagian colossus. And I get the parochial bickering at play on how to promote the 2019-season (February 2020) Super Bowl awarded this week to Dolphins stadium. Argument: It should be the "Miami Super Bowl" because it is being played in Miami-Dade, that county is pouring more money into hosting it, and "Miami" is a more instantly recognizable and promotable brand than the amorphous "South Florida." Counter-argument: "South Florida Super Bowl" is more accurate and fair, mainly because so many SB-related events and hotel space will be rooted in Broward. Pictured at right: the official South Florida bid committee logo used in securing the NFL owners' vote to bring the game here, and the Miami host committee logo that Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Giminez displayed -- angering Broward officials. I am rarely on the fence about anything, an awful place to be for a sports columnist paid to have sharp opinions. But in this case I see both sides. "South Florida Super Bowl" is more inclusive, accurate and fair. But "Miami Super Bowl" is more concise and a better sell nationally and internationally. I'd probably narrowly vote for the latter, but feel a tinge of guilt in doing so. Wondering what you all think; hence, this new (and alphabetical!) poll. Try to separate where you happen to work, live or play from your vote. It isn't a which-county-rules poll. I am wondering instead which way to describe the game is the better way for "us" to promote a Super Bowl being held at Dolphins stadium. Vote, say why you think that way, and check back a lot to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: Cavaliers vs. Thunder is the NBA Finals you most want to see: We asked which of four possible Finals matchups you prefer (you may still vote), and it was Cavaliers-Thunder with 42.4 percent, Raptors-Thunder 28.8%, Cavs-Warriors 21.7% and Raptors-Warriors 7.1%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 28, 2016

The Chris Bosh Conundrum: Who's right? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat on brink of playoff elimination, Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft (with Dolphins' surprise at 13) & more

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

Meshow1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 28. Thanks again to ESPN Radio for re-branding their national show to better reflect my impact every Tuesday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hornets tie Heat series 2-2 with will-Miami-advance poll, court favors Dolphins in Brady ruling, how Panthers fans should feel after elimination, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack, the latest, off last night's Game 5 loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on Miami's best-case scenario for its No. 1 draft pick. Calling Jaromir Jagr, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals as it entered Game 6.

BoshTHE CHRIS BOSH CONUNDRUM: WHO'S RIGHT?: A good deal of my column off last night's Heat Game 5 home loss (click here) is on sidelined Chris Bosh foisting himself suddenly into playoffs with his (and his wife's) #BringBoshBack social-media effort that has caught Heat management off guard. Bottom line: Bosh, out since Feb. 9 with a recurrence of his blood clot issues, has been cleared to play by a personal doctor and says he is ready now, while the club doctors have not yet cleared him. Curious what Heat fans think. Hence, this poll! Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results. Vote soon, though. We'll call a winner in a couple of hours as we pivot to a new blogpost on tonight's NFL Draft.

G5: CHARLOTTE 90, HEAT 88: CRUCIAL HOME LOSS HAS MIAMI DOWN 3-2, FACING ELIMINATION: Dwyane Wade's 25 points weren't enough Wednesday night in a 90-88 Heat home loss -- the third straight Miami loss in this first-round series. Charlotte regained its 3-point touch with a dozen 3's including the go-ahead points by Courtney Lee with 25 second left. Click on Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack for my column from last night's game. ..... Original post: With both teams 2-0 at home in this series, the onus is on Miami tonight at 8 to again protect its home court by the bay. Clearly, the loser of this game will be in trouble in the series with Game 6 back up in Charlotte. Miami has shot 58 percent in two home wins vs. only 36 percent in two road Heathornetslosses. The Hornets are expected to have Nic Batum back available tonight from an ankle sprain but otherwise may be at a disadvantage, at least historically. The G5Heat are 13-2 in their past 15 playoff home games, the only losses both to San Antonio in the 2014 Finals. And Miami is on a 19-2 run vs. Charlotte in the 305. The Hornets have not won a road playoff game, anywhere, since 2002, losing nine in a row in the meantime. For those streaks to continue Miami will need much better defense in the paint tonight against the slashing runs of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, who combined for 55 points in Game 4. Hassan Whiteside needs to raise his game. Also expect a bounce-back night from Dwyane Wade. Watch out, though, if Charlotte finds its touch on 3-point shots. Hornets were fourth in league in 3's during the season but have clanked in only 23.9 percent in the first round. Fouls also may be a factor tonight. CHA has taken 122 free throws to MIA's 94 through four games. "We've probably fouled more in these four games than we have in the last four weeks," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Give them credit. They're aggressive." Meantime the post-LeBron, no-Bosh Heat still have some drawing power as a TV attraction, apparently. NBA TV's coverage of Heat-Hornets Game 4 drew 662,000 viewers, the network's most-seen playoff telecast since 2014. Its four-game playoffs average this month is 471,000 viewers.

25TH ANNUAL OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD MOCK DRAFT: SURPRISE! DOLPHINS SELECT HOUSTON CB WILLIAM JACKSON IN FIRST ROUND: Our 2016 NFL Mock Draft is now online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions, including Super Bonus Draft Facts as always. Click on Mockin' It '16 to read the entire first-round mock draft it in full. We cut to the chase here with our synopsis on Miami's pick:

William jackson13. MIAMI DOLPHINS: WILLIAM JACKSON, CB, HOUSTON — I sort of doubt Miami will stay at 13. I can see them trying to trade up into the 7-8 range to select the RB Ezekiel Elliott — a bold move of the headline-grabbing type that is part of the Mike Tannenbaum canon. But I also can see them anticlimactically trading down because, after Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves no DB is worth this high a pick and likely could be gotten lower. That includes Jackson (pictured) or Ohio State’s Eli Apple, both of whom might be labeled a “reach” taken this high. If the Fins do stay at 13, though — and assuming Elliott, Myles Jack and Hargreaves are all off the board – then grabbing the best available corner here would make sense as an urgent need. Apple may well be rated slightly higher by Miami and might be a safer mock pick for me here. But Jackson is older, more mature and more ready now than the riskier Apple. Jackson looks a safer bet for the Dolphins, and Miami cannot afford a first-round misfire.

GREG COTE'S 2016 NFL DRAFT VIDEO: Today I am holed up hammering out my 25th annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft. The first-round prognostications should be online this afternoon before shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Meantime click below (or on Mock 'n Roll) for my NFL Draft preview video:

 
TWO THOUGHTS ON DOLPHINS' VETERAN MINICAMP: Today is Day 2 of Miami's three-day voluntary veterans minicamp, and the news thus far is that four defensive players -- Reshad Jones, ReshadjonesNdamukong Suh, Mario Williams and Koa Misi --were absent from Day 1 practice. It was known Williams (personal issues) and Misi (illness) would be missing, but the absences of Jones (pictured) and Suh -- arguably the defense's two best players -- were unexcused and notable. Two thoughts: 1) It's a VOLUNTARY minicamp. And it's APRIL. You can't call something voluntary and then be mad not everyone volunteers. Jones is pouting and holding his breath for a new contract. Suh has done pretty well for himself preparing for seasons how he sees fit. If they're still AWOL when mandatory minicamps begin in June, then we have an issue. 2) There is, however, something noble in the concept of "leading by example." Jones is the highest-paid strong safety in the NFL at $28 million over four years, yet wants more. Suh is making a whopping $114 million over six years. For that kind of money, though it isn't mandatory, it sure would be nice if they "volunteered" to be with their teammates.   
 
Poll result: Optimism for Heat advance, but also doubts: We asked what you think is the likelihood the Miami Heat (series tied 2-2 entering tonight) will advance past the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, and results were wildly mixed. A plurality of 25.6 percent said 80% or better, 17.4% said 70-79% and 20.3% said 60-69%. But more than one-third of all voters said only 50-59% (19.8%) or less than 50% (16.9%).
 
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

April 18, 2016

This is the Heat team that can beat LeBron and Cavs. Miami 'perfect' in 123-91 Game 1 rout of Charlotte; plus Panthers fall in OT, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Hassan Whiteside and Jaromir Jagr named Heat/Panthers season MVPs & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 18. Heat's Hassan Whiteside finishes third in NBA Defensive Plahyer of Year vote; Spurs' Kawhi Leonard wins again. 2) ESPN's mock-draft picks for Dolphins selecting 13th are two Ohio State Buckeyes -- OLB Darron Lee (says Mel Kiper) and RB Ezekiel Elliott (via Todd McShay). So it won't be either, then. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Panthers tie Islanders series, Dolphins schedule, Heat-Hornets, Heat/Panthers MVP polls, history of Miami playoff games, your Warriors vs. Kobe verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

NEW COLUMN: On Heat's refreshing reliance on rookies Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson: Shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions but available to you now. Click on Rook 1, Rook 2 to read. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: This Is the Upside, off last night's hugely impressive Heat Game 1 win. Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season, off Friday night's necessary Panthers Game 2 win. Now We See About the Panthers, off the series-opening loss.

Cats give one away: The Florida Panthers aren't making it easy on themselves. They lose Game 1 at home. Then, last night, they lost Game 3 in Brooklyn, 4-3 in overtime, after leading 3-1. Florida nows trails their NHL first-round series to the Islanders 2-1, with Game 4 Wednesday night back up there.

G1: HEAT 123, CHARLOTTE 91: DENG, WHITESIDE LEAD 'PERFECT' GAME: As bad as the Heat were in that late collapse in Boston four nights earlier, the Heat were that good Sunday night in starting the playoffs with an impressive home bang. Miami set club playoff records for most points in a game (123) and quarter (41) and most field goals made (49). Goran Dragic called it "a perfect game on both ends." It was almost literally so for Luol Deng (31 points) and Hassan Whiteside (21), who combined for 20-of-24 shooting. Miami wasn't as bad it it looked in Boston last week and can't be as great as it looked Sunday, but we saw how good this team can be. And the team we saw Sunday night can beat anybody in the East, LeBron James and Cleveland included. Game 2 is back here Wednesday night. Click on This Is the Upside for my game column off last night's gem. ..... Original post: When last we saw the Heat on the court, they were Heathornetssundaysuffering a regular season-ending meltdown in Boston akin to Jordan Spieth's in The Masters. No time for a hangover effect now, with the first-round playoffs set to begin as No. 3 seed Miami hosts No. 6 Charlotte this evening in Game 1. Despite the seed disparity both teams were 48-34 in the season and split their series 2-2, so it's understandable that Charlotte is a trendy upset pick with some in the national media. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson will be a challenge, and it's a series where Chris Bosh's absence could be conspicuous after so many weeks of Miami seemingly not missing him. Charlotte has had the third-best record in the league since the all-star break and is 26-9 since Jan. 31. That's impressive. Miami is a narrow betting favorite in this series at 5-8 odds to Charlotte's 8-5, but must prove here that it is capable of playing all the way into the Eastern finals. Miami is one of only five of 122 franchises in the Big Four sports to make the playoffs at least 17 times and win at least three championships in the past 21 seasons, along with Lakers, Spurs, Red Wings and Yankees. The Heat have more playoff seasons than the Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers combined since Miami became a four-sport city in 1993. But I see a serious early challenge here for the Heat. So does ESPN, which ranks this series No. 1 of the eight for upset potential, which it estimates at 46 percent. My pick: Heat in 6 games.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Wow! Miami saves its best game of season for playoff opener:  Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets were a trendy pick to upset the No. 3 Heat in this best-of-seven, but the Heat last night said, "I don't think so." And emphatically, in a 123-91 rout in the downtown bayside arena led by Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside's combined 52 points on combined 20-for-24 shooting. If last night was the real Heat, then this team is capable of beating anybody in the East ... including that guy from Cleveland, whatshisname.

2. PANTHERS: Cats give one away in crucial Game 3 loss to Islanders: One game after Roberto Luongo saved the day for Florida, the Panthers last night blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads in a 4-3 overtime Game 3 loss in Brooklyn. Islanders now are up 2-1, with Game 4 back up in New York Wednesday night. Must win? Well, don't they all sort of feel like that in a best-of-seven playoffs?

3. DOLPHINS: Season schedule is out (uh oh) as Fins prepare for draft: Does new Dolphins coach Adam Gase have enemies? Apparently one — the guy who scheduled Miami to open the season at Seattle and at New England. Fins hope they fare better in the April 28-30 NFL Draft than they did with the schedule. I can't wait for the draft ..mainly because it puts a merciful end to the endless speculation of national mocks drafts and local flat-out guessing on what Miami might do.

4. MARLINS: Shh. Don’t tell anybody, but Fish in midst of homestand: Miami is in the midst of seven games in a row at Marlins Park. The question is, with the Heat and Panthers both in the playoffs and Dolphins’ draft soon, will South Florida even notice? The homestand may not be a good thing, considering it has opened with three straight losses to previously winless Braves, making Miami now 0-5 at home this year. Fish's early-season problem is clear. If your arm is loose, report immediately to the bullpen, please.

5. HURRICANES: UM’s spring game ends offseason football practice: Hurricanes’ annual Spring Game, the first under new coach Mark Richt, was Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Green beating Orange 24-7 behind Brad Kaaya's 345 yards passing before some 14,000 fans at Lockhart Stadium. Want a sad fact? Canes baseball is ranked No. 1 in the nation, but more UM fans care about a glorified football practice taking place five months before season starts.

6. NBA: Big end to regular season segues to playoffs: Basketball's regular season ended with Golden State’s record-setting 73rd win and retiring Kobe Bryant’s 60 points in his final game. Top that, first round!

7. NHL: It's No, Canada! as Stanley Cup playoffs begin: Canada invented hockey. You wouldn't know it. A Canadian team hasn't lifted Lord Stanley's Cup since 1993, and now, for the first time since 1970, no Canadian team even made the playoffs.

8. NFL: Rams trade up for No. 1 pick in draft: Good offseason for Los Angeles. First the city gets the Rams back from St. Louis. Now, in first trade involving a top pick since 2004, the team gets the No. 1 draft pick from Tennessee. 

9. GOLF: Fans still abuzz over Spieth's Masters meltdown: It's been a week and golf fans still can't get over Jordan Spieth blowing The Masters and literally handing over the green jacket to Danny Willett. Then again, at least Jordan, who tied for second, had $880,000 to help dry his tears.

10. SAILING: Miamian wins Star-class world title: Miami and Coral Reef Yacht Club hosted the Star-class world sailing championships, which is of apparent tremendous interest to Star-class sailors. No, seriously, it's a big event, and Miamian Augie Diaz parlayed home-wind advantage to victory.

Missing the cut: Sidelined Chris Bosh addressed his Heat teammates and advised them to "savor the playoffs." Had he told them to take the playoffs for granted, now that woulda been newsworthy! ... Tyler Summitt (Pat's son) resigns in disgrace after impregnating one of his basketball players. Um, what were you thinking, Louisiana Tech, hiring a then 22-year-old as a head coach? ... Dolphins are conducting voluntary offseason workouts, meaning all players are expected to "volunteer" ... FIU's spring football game was canceled by bad weather. No, seriously ... A company called U-Glove makes protective disposable gloves to wear when pumping gas. Shouldn't The U demand a cut of the action? ... MLB going high-tech with iPads in dugouts for analytic research during games. Can an iPad pick up a bat or throw a slider? Then I'm not impressed ... Kyle Busch became first NASCAR driver in 25 years to win multiple races on consecutive weekends. America still doesn't like you, Kyle! ... It has come to our attention badminton is a high-school sport, begging the question, Why?

Jagr WhitesidePOLL RESULTS: HASSAN WHITESIDE, JAROMIR JAGR NAMED HEAT AND PANTHERS' REGULAR-SEASON MVPS: It was a fairly close two-man race on the basketball side, but you had Hassan Whiteside (left) as the Heat's 2015-16 season MVP over Dwyane Wade by 51.8 percent to 41.4%, with the other 6.8% voting for "someone else." Mild upset, or no? It was a landslide on the hockey end. Jaromir Jagr (right) at age 44 won with 62.9 percent of the vote, followed by Roberto Luongo (13.8%), Aleksander Barkov (11.1%) and Aaron Ekblad (also 11.1%), with "someone else" at only 1.1%.

THE LIST: HEAT'S MIAMI REIGN: How often the Miami Heat have made the playoffs relative to SoFla's other other big teams:

Team                Seasons    PO years    Pct.

Miami Heat            28        19           .679

Miami Dolphins     50        16           .320

Florida Panthers     22         5            .227

Miami Marlins       23         2            .087

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 21, 2016

Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Angelic Canes, Heat, Cats, tennis, Fins and Fish lead the way; plus our NCAA bracket (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MARCH 21. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Super Sports Saturday, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner, my NCAA bracket, Cote advances in media bracket, your who'll-win verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES/COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Sweet! UM men beat Wichita State, reach the 16: Miami Hurricanes men beat Wichita State 65-57 Saturday to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, led by Angel Rodriguez's 28 points. "Heaven-sent Angel lifts Miami" -- too perfect. Canes will next face Sunday-winner Villanova on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. So your bracket is in ruins, but at least the Canes are winning.

2. HEAT: Miami routs Cavaliers, humbles LeBron to stay in hunt for third place: LeBron James now is 0-3 in Miami since leaving after the Heat's 122-101 rout of Cleveland on Saturday. LeBron returning to Miami is still a big deal, sort of. But here’s a bigger deal: The Heat is in a four-team scramble to finish third in the East and avoid seeing LeBron again until the conference finals.

3. PANTHERS: Cats stay in NHL division despite Spacey loss to Red Wings: Florida has clawed back up into the division lead despite Saturday's 5-3 home loss to Detroit. The game featured a visit by actor Kevin Spacey, who inspires the “Spacey in Space” sweatshirts that inexplicably are part of the mojo of this Cats season. The sweatshirts bring luck, although apparently Spacey himself doesn't.

4. TENNIS: Federer, Serena in spotlight as Miami Open tennis sets to launch: Perennial favorite Serena Williams, defending champ Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer’s return from knee surgery top the marquee for Miami Open tennis, which begins its annual two-week run on Key Biscayne this Tuesday. Event’s future is in some doubt, so treat the present like a gift.

5. DOLPHINS: Mixed results, disappointments continue team’s free agency run: Bumper sticker: Honk If You’ve Left the Dolphins Facility Without Signing a Contract. Running backs C.J. Anderson and Chris Johnson were the latest to do so as Miami’s first week-plus of free agency resulted in much activity but little discernible improvement.

6. BASEBALL: MLB visit to Cuba, LaRoche saga steal the headlines: Adam LaRoche of the Chicago White Sox abruptly retires after team tells him his 14-year-old son shouldn't be in the clubhouse so much. This Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays play the Cuban National Team in Havana. Man, baseball will do anything for attention, won't it!?

7. MARLINS: Shenanigans with the Opening Day starter: Barry Bonds, 51, out-homered Giancarlo Stanton in a friendly hitting drill. But the big news out of Marlins spring training was the team not naming ace Jose Fernandez its Opening Day starter on April 5. Ostensibly it's to give him more rest but more like it's that, with a big crowd guaranteed for the opener, the club wants to deploy Jose to help boost the gate for Game 2. Gawd, that is soooo Marlins.

8. UM/WOMEN'S NCAA: Canes make a quick exit: The Madness started and ended quickly for coach Katie Meier's women Canes, with Saturday's 74-71 upset loss to South Dakota State in their NCAA Tournament opener. Humbling: Losing your opener. Insult to injury: Losing to team nicknamed Jackrabbits.

9. NFL: Boca Raton hosts league meetings: A league executive, Jeff Miller, became first NFL official to acknowledge a direct link between football-related head trauma and brain disease. Meanwhile the NFL owners meetings are Sunday through Wednesday in Boca. Haven't seen the complete agenda but I understand the main order of business is a resolution to make Jeff Miller quit speaking.

10. UM FOOTBALL: Canes open first spring practices under Richt: The Hurricanes began spring practice with enthusiasm and praise for Mark Richt. Shocking! It was the 89,403rd consecutive time in the history of football that players praised their new head coach after his first practice. 

Missing the cut: R.I.P., Tray Walker ... Barry men reach Elite Eight in Division II. Good job, Barry ... Its Miami FC in its inaugural NASL game next Saturday at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. A natural rivalry is born! ... So a jury awards Hulk Hogan $115 million because Gawker published his sex tape -- more than double what Erin Andrews received. Pays to be a cartoon character, I guess ... This just in. Looking to place people where no one will find them, the federal witness protection program has now begun hiding people in the NIT tournament ... Gall, redefined: FIFA wants back its bribe money confiscated by the U.S. government. No, seriously ... Answer: Ultra Music Festival. Question: "Where do 99.9 percent of South Floridians want to be nowhere near this weekend?" ... Barack Obama's presidential bracket had Kansas winning the men's NCAA Tournament. Republicans demanding equal time berated Kansas as overrated ... Without being able to  vent on Twitter anymore, what's Miko Grimes doing, kicking the family dog? ... IndyCar season is underway. Wake me for the Indianapolis 500 ... The Colts are building a statue of Peyton Manning. You know who else should? The city of "Omaha!" ... What's poor FIU gotta do to get another mention here? Any more scandals on deck?

NCAA BRACKETEERING UPDATE: Sunday--I went 5-3 on my teams advancing in men's NCAA Tournament games. Overall--I'm 35-13 thus far. Cinderella Meter--33.3% (16 of 48 games have been by-seed upsets so far). Today--Madness is off until Thursday.

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

Twitter @gregcote