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

March 09, 2016

On Dolphins' dubious, rocky (and low-graded) start to free agency; plus Marlins' big problem, the week of Erin Andrews and Kim Kardashian, sympathy for Maria Sharapova, your verdict on Peyton Manning, Dollar Bill Murray & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9. Hope all y'all international women had a great International Women's Day. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Peyton's-place-in-history poll, the Wonder of Whiteside quantified, Dolphins trades, Hot Button Top 10, Trump vs. Kramden video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Canes men on deck: Tonight's Florida State-Virginia Tech winner will face the Miami Hurricanes Thursday night in UM's debut in the ACC Tournament.

THE DOLPHINS' DUBIOUS START TO FREE AGENCY: These are the Miami Dolphins we're talking about, so, as disappointment-hardened Dolfans well know, nothing is easy, or simple. Most every move the team makes seems to come with an asterisk, or a "yeah, but." So it is with what has happened this week:

Mario1. Mario Williams for Olivier Vernon is not a smart swap: Williams, pictured, is an accomplished sacker, but he also is 31 and arrives with a reputation for quitting on his team when he feels like it and not being a great teammate. Miami is paying him star money ($17 million over two years) but it would not surprise to see him gone after one season. It would have seemed smarter -- more in keeping with a long-range vision -- to instead commit big bucks at the end position to the imminently departing Vernon, the gifted homegrown sackman and rising talent who's still only 25. /// ESPN's Bill Barnwell, in his free-agency report card, graded the Williams signing a C. He writes, in part: "It's hard to figure out the Dolphins, who seem to stick their finger into the socket, get shocked, and wonder how many of their other fingers can fit inside. Miami's top-heavy, stars-and-replacement talent roster philosophy hasn't worked for years, but instead of getting away from the tactic, the Dolphins are doubling down in 2016. The Dolphins didn't have many other options available, especially once Jason Pierre-Paul agreed to return to New York on a one-year deal, but Williams is 31 and was just run out of Buffalo amidst a cloud of anonymous sources saying derogatory things about his effort level. Would they have been better off locking up Vernon, who is just 25 and had 36 quarterback knockdowns to Williams's 11 in 2015? Or using the money saved by [possibly] cutting Cameron Wake to add much-needed depth around the roster? Do these sorts of questions ever even enter into Miami's thinking during the offseason? Williams should be better as a 4-3 defensive end than he was dropping off the line of scrimmage at times as a 3-4 outside linebacker for Rex Ryan last year, but this is another step in a tired, unsuccessful roster-building model for the Dolphins."

2. That "blockbuster" trade with Eagles is high-priced risk: The Dolphins move down from the No. 8 overall draft pick to No. 13 to acquire cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso from Philly. Hmm. A shoulder issue with Maxwell jeopardized the deal but he is now cleared physically. Still, Miami is adopting his six-year, $63 million contract, very pricey for a journeyman with eight interceptions in 61 games, one who has never made a Pro Bowl and was pretty awful last season. So let's not oversell him. He has yet to prove he is No. 1 corner-caliber. Alonso, only 25, may be worth the risk; he was great as a rookie in '13. "Yeah but": He missed all of 2014 after major knee surgery, and disappointed in his comeback last season. There was a reason both players were available. /// ESPN's Barnwell graded that deal a B+ for Phily and a C- for Miami. He wrote, in part: "It's shocking that the Eagles were able to get anything in a swap for Maxwell's onerous contract. The Dolphins will likely restructure Maxwell's $8.5 million base salary as a signing bonus to create more cap space and sign more free agents, but there's still little upside on this deal. Maxwell was erratic at best in his first year outside of the Seattle cocoon, and at $10 million per year going forward, he'll need to play like a No. 1 cornerback to justify his salary, even with the rising tide of cornerback contracts. Oddly, the Dolphins may get more out of Alonso, who will likely move back to play middle linebacker in a 4-3 after getting lost in Philly's 3-4 look. With one year remaining on Alonso's rookie deal, he offers the best chance of generating surplus value in this deal for Miami."

3. Lamar Miller gone to Houston: The starting running back will sign with the Texans and take handoffs from Brock Osweiler. Miller's departure is not a surprise, but suddenly Ryan Tannehill has nobody proven to hand-off to. Remember my recent column urging the Dolphins to consider signing available RB Matt Forte? Too late. The Stinkin' Jets got him.

Mario's big props to Ross: Dolphins introduced Mario Williams today and he gave big props to owner Stephen Ross when asked what attracted him to Miami. "The direction that the organization wants to go in from top to bottom was huge," he said. "Meeting with the owner, it was really shocking to me. I can say I’ve never been in the room with an NFL owner and it was like talking to somebody who is 30 years old. He was cool to interview with. I want to say he’s 75? I know it was something like that. But to be part of something with someone who has so much enthusiasm, so much energy and passion towards the team, and then it trickles straight down to the last guy."

 Kim ON ERIN ANDREWS AND KIM KARDASHIAN: It may be a first that these two disparate women are in the same sentence or headline -- I feel I may owe an apology for that, Erin -- but I couldn't help notice the jarring juxtaposition this week involving the prominent sports broadcaster Erin Andrews and the famous-for-being-famous Kim Kardashian. One, Andrews, was winning a $55 million jury verdict in her trial against the Nashville Marriott at which she was filmed nude through an altered peephole, the creep who did it then uploading the video to the Internet for millions to watch. She testified tearfully of the devastating, life-altering invasion of her privacy and modesty. The same day as that justified verdict was read, Kardashian, apparently abhorrent to privacy -- the queen of immodesty -- published the bathroom selfie we pass along at right. With Andrews, initially, there was false speculation she'd planned the stunt for publicity. Had Kardashian been the victim of the peephole video, suffice to say the idea would have been far easier to believe.

THE MARLINS' BIG PROBLEM: It's the farm system. The latest example: The rankings of under-21 talent by MiLB.com, the official arm of minor-league baseball. Miami is graded a D. The synopsis: "At first blush, it's a good sign for our purposes that both of the Marlins' top two prospects -- Tyler Kolek and Josh Naylor -- are so young and represent their last two first-rounders. Upon further review, neither is as impressive as he looks on paper. Kolek dropped out of the Top 100 after suffering control issues in his first full season and Naylor was a surprise pick at No. 12 last June. The latter could grow into a prodigious power hitter in time, but for now, that pick remains a head-scratcher. The rest of the system doesn't look like it has any impact Major Leaguers, even among the younger prospects." Elsewhere in the NL East the Braves are graded A-, the Phillies B+ and the Mets B. MiLB.com has only three other teams graded as low or worse than the Marlins for U-21 talent: Tigers also with a D, and Angels and Diamondbacks both with F's.

MariaI FEEL BAD FOR MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sharapova's biggest crime used to be she couldn't beast Serena Williams. Now she  is branded a cheater, a doper, because she tested positive for the banned substance Meldonium. Sponsors including Nike have dropped her. What an overreaction! The drug does not even enhance athletic performance, according to the Latvian scientist who invented it. But it does help protect athletes against heart problems related to extreme physical exercise. Meldonium is a heart medicine that improves blood flow, but was added to the banned-substances list by the World Anti-Doping Agency on Jan. 1. Sharapova said she had been legally using the drug for 10 years for various medical issues, but tested positive just days after it suddenly became illegal. She deserves sympathy or benefit of doubt, not indignant condemnation.

Poll result: Plurality think Manning greatest ever, but much disagreement: We've seldom run a more evenly split blogpoll than the one asking where Peyton Manning ranks among all-time top five greatest quarterbacks. Most, 22.3 percent, said he was No. 1, the best ever. But second-most voters, 19.0%, said he wasn't even in top five. Then it was 17.4% No. 3, 14.6% No. 5, 13.8% No. 2, and 12.9% No. 4.

IF BILL MURRAY HAD DELIVERED THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: Please note I do not approve of the illegal defacing of U.S. currency. Although when the defacing involves Bill Murray's face I think I'm sort of OK with it: 

Murray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 08, 2016

Where does Peyton Manning rank among all-time great QBs? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins' trade with Philly a dubious blockbuster, Scott 'n Trump win Doral, the Wonder of Whiteside quantified, latest Hot Button Top 10, Trump vs. Kramden video & more

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

Windhorst1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 8. No radio for me today, with Dan LeBatard and Stugotz taking the week off from their show, which I normally co-host on Tuesdays. 2) There probably has been funnier erroneous information used to describe the person on the phone, but I can't think of any better than what's pictured at right. 3) Miami tie to the Falcons' are-you-gay question of a draft prospect. The position coach who asked it is Marquand Manuel, the former Florida Gator who went to Miami High. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Revisiting my infamous "trade Marino" column, Phil Mickelson's rebirth, silly furor over my Eric Reid impression & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' deal with Eagles must prove itself a blockbuster: Miami is giving up draft picks to Philadelphia to acquire veteran cornerback Byron Maxwell and young linebacker Kiki Alonso. I am doubtful this rises to the level of a blockbuster trade. There is a reason both players were available. Maxwell has disappointed in Philly and was bad last season, though his arrival likely would signal the departure of Brent Grimes. I'd still consider drafting Florida Gators CB Vernon Hargreaves No. 8 overall. As for Alonso, he was agreat as a rookie, missed 2014 after major knee surgery and disappointed in his comeback year last season. This is a gamble for Miami. 

Scott, Trump win Doral: Click on King Adam and The Donald for my column from Doral off Sunday's final round of the World Golf Championships event. Adam Scott became the first since Lee Trevino in 1973 to win both South Florida PGA Tour events back to back. But Donald Trump owned the day, and the attention, at his own course as the Florida primary loomed.

ManningWHAT IS PEYTON'S PLACE IN THE PASSING PANTHEON?: Click on For Manning, An Epic Career Ends (Almost) Perfectly for today's latest column by me. We discuss Manning's place in history as he formally announces his retirement yesterday, going out a champion after his second Super Bowl win. There is a clear Big 5 of NFL quarterbacks (Mount Rushmore-plus?) in terms of prolific numbers. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Dan Marino (that's alphabetical) are the top five in various order in career touchdowns passes, yards and completions. But there have been other great quarterbacks, of course, from Otto Graham and Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana and John Elway and now Aaron Rodgers. So where does Manning -- the career leader in TDs and yards -- rank among the all-time greatest quarterbacks by however you define that crown? Take a dip in our poll.

WhitesideTHE WONDER OF WHITESIDE, QUANTIFIED: What have we here in Hassan Whiteside? How special is Miami's blossoming 26-year-old, 7-foot center? How many reasons do the Heat have to make not losing him in free agency this summer a franchise priority? I wanted to quantify those rhetorical questions by comparing what Whiteside does best -- rebound and block shots -- against the most prolific at doing that across the club's 28 seasons. The methodology: I took the six players who rank in Heat's career top 10 in both total rebounds and in blocks, and computed their per-game average in combined boards and swats. Then I figured where Whiteside would rank, presuming Alonzo Mourning as the measuring stick. Here are the results, with all figures updated entering Sunday's home win over Philadelphia:

Player (Era)                                    Rebounds / Blocks    Averages        Combined R&B Avg.

Hassan Whiteside (2014-current)      1,100 / 329            10.89 / 3.26            14.15

Rony Seikaly (1988-94)                    4,544 / 610            10.35 / 1.39            11.74

Alonzo Mourning (1996-02, '05-08) 4,807 / 1,625           8.11 / 2.74            10.85

P.J. Brown (1996-00)                        2,251 / 305              7.93 / 1.07              9.00

Chris Bosh (2010-current)                2,816 / 332              7.33 / 0.86              8.20

Udonis Haslem (2003-current)         5,649 / 246              7.02 / 0.31              7.34

Dwyane Wade (2003-current)          4,060 / 747              4.84 / 0.89              5.74

Bottom line? Seikaly, from the expansion era, was the best pure rebounder the Heat has had, without question. Likewise Zo was the best pure shot-blocker, without question. But in the combined art of boards and blocks, Whiteside's per-game average with the Heat is better than both -- 23.3 percent better overall than Mourning, and 17.0% better than Seikaly.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive 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. GOLF: Scott wins trophy, Trumps wins attention at WGC-Doral: Adam Scott won the World Golf Championships event at the Blue Monster but event host Donald Trump won the day at Doral Sunday, schmoozing thousands of fans in advance of the Florida primary. Conspicuously, though, afterward, Trump was not the one who presented the trophy to the winner. Perhaps his hands were too small to hold it?

2. UM BASKETBALL: Hurricanes stumble heading into conference Championship Week: The No. 7-ranked Miami men are headed to Washington D.C. for the ACC Tournament (their first game is Thursday night) after losing at Virginia Tech Saturday to end 24-6 and squander a shot at the ACC regular-season crown. Meanwhile the No. 21 Canes women reached their tourney's semifinal before losing Saturday to Duke. Both UM teams will hear their names called early for the NCAA Tournament in six days on Selection Sunday. 

3. FIU: Scandal rocks Panthers' women's basketball program: FIU suspended women’s basketball coach Marlin Chinn after the team captain accused him of pursuing a sexual relationship with her. Remember the good old days, when the worst thing about that team's season was its 4-25 record?

4. HEAT: Johnson fitting in, everything clicking for surging Heat: Newly acquired Joe Johnson has fit right in, Hassan Whiteside is focused and dominating, Dwyane Wade looks good, Miami shot 67.5 percent against the Bulls, the Heat’s pace has picked up and the team has won five in a row. All would be well, except Chris Bosh is still missing, along with any info on a prognosis.

5. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Slumping Cats fall out of division lead: Florida has lost its long-held Atlantic Division lead and fallen behind Tampa Bay as the Lightning have won nine games in a row while the Cats have dropped four of the past five entering tonight's home date with Boston. The good news? Sunshine State rules division!

6. DOLPHINS: NFL, Fins prepare for free agency; Williams visits Miami: Available players may sign with new teams beginning this Wednesday. Big question in Miami: Will Fins re-sign or lose RB Lamar Miller and DE Olivier Vernon? Don’t expect a blockbuster signing by Miami a la Ndamukong Suh last year, although ex-Bills DE Mario Williams visited Fins Saturday. Club restructured deals with Suh and Koa Misi to free up spending money. 

7. PEYTON MANNING: Quarterback to announce retirement: Various media reports are that Broncos QB Peyton Manning will announce his retirement today/Monday, which the team has confirmed. He goes out chased by allegations of his involvement in HGH and an incident with a female trainer while at Tennessee. But mostly he goes out a champion, and an all-time great.

8. MARLINS: Fish host Yankees on Tuesday: Spring training drones on, and no spring game is particularly important, but Marlins-Yankees in Jupiter on Tuesday is sexier than most.

9. BUD COLLINS: Tennis' loses its legendary journalist/historian: Bud Collins, for decades America's premier voice of tennis as writer and broadcaster and distinctive in his trademark loud, colorful pants, died at 86 after suffering from Parkinson's and dementia. The upcoming Miami Open on Key Biscayne, which starts March 21, had better honor Collins in a big way.

10. SOCCER: MLS opens 21st season: Major League Soccer launched its 21st season on Sunday. David Beckham's Miami franchise is on deck. Hopefully. Eventually. Maybe.

Missing the cut: Nearing a conclusion is Erin Andrews' civil suit against the Nashville Marriott she says facilitated the stalker who published a nude video of her shot through an altered peephole. Man that was a long sentence! ... Conor McGregor loses UFC 196. Why s watching an ego deflated so damned satisfying!? ... Atlanta Falcons asked a potential draftee if he was gay. "What's wrong with that!?" said every Republican presidential candidate ... LeBron James worked out with Dwyane Wade in Miami during a break in the NBA schedule. "Thank you," said rumor-mongering social media ... The Iditarod sled-dog race is underway in Alaska. I wonder if Sarah Palin can see it form he backyard? ... Four Florida Panthers including American Aaron Ekblad were named to World Cup of Hockey rosters, which might be impressive if I were familiar with that event ... U.S. and Germany play in women's soccer Wednesday at FAU ... Fort Lauderdale Strikers are on a two-week trip to China. Hey bring back some of the jobs they stole from us would ya? ... Jimmie Johnson won his 76th NASCAR race. "I'm still the better Jimmy Johnson," said the former UM football coach ... The Tampa Bay Rays' spring game vs. Cuba in Havana was set for March 22. Anybody in Miami still care enough to protest or are we past that? ... UM baseball still No. 6 in the rankings. Updates as warranted ... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson, still only 21, won her seventh LPGA tournament. Nobody likes a show-off, Lexi.

DONALD TRUMP MEETS RALPH KRAMDEN: There is much annoying about the Internet, but then something like this pops up and makes you smile:

 

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March 03, 2016

Doral's Last Stand? 3 reasons this week's WGC is special; plus Marriott's shame in Erin Andrews trial, FIU's sordid scandal with women's basketball coach, McShay on Dolphins' draft, cheerleader saves NFL Combine, your Best Oscar verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 3. A terrific read (click here) by our former Herald colleague Joe Goodman on the terrible hazing injuries Bart Starr suffered while at Alabama. Terrific work, Goody! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Greatest Oscar poll, Hot Button Top 10, Lists for the Ages, Miami's top 29s, Marlins odds, your presidential verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

THREE REASONS WHY THIS COULD BE THE MOST MEMORABLE DORAL TOURNAMENT EVER: The PGA Tourists are back crawling across Doral's Blue Monster today through Sunday, with 47 of the world's top 50 ranked players among the exclusive 66-man field for the season's frst World Golf Championships event, a sort of sub-major. Click on Doral's Wild Week to read today's latest column by me in full. This could turn out to be the most memorable Doral ever, for these three reasons:

TrumpThe Circus: Tournament host Donald Trump, the resort’s owner, always is at the event basking in the glory of his billions, conspicuous as the helicopter emblazoned with his name that in previous years always has been parked strategically for arriving fans to admire. Now, of course, Trump will be here as possibly the next president of the United States, a prospect that frightens the hell out of many Americans but apparently delights enough that he is the Republican frontrunner.

SpiethThe Golf: The sport is palpably moving on from the fading Tiger Woods era with bright new stars. The current top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking, Jordan Spieth (pictured), Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, all are in their 20s, and this week marks their first time all playing together since last September. They’ll go off in the same threesome Thursday at 11:32 a.m. from the 10th tee. And No. 5 in the rankings is Rickie Fowler, also in his 20s.

MonsterThe History: This could be the finish line, the end, for the PGA Tour's continuous 55-year relationship with Doral, the event a fixture on our sports landscape since 1962. Cadillac is ending its run as title sponsor, and contractually the next title sponsor may choose to relocate the event if it wishes, and perhaps with the Tour’s nudging. "We will explore all options regarding the event’s future," goes the Tour statement. There is speculation the event will abandon Trump National Resort and the Tour distances itself from Trump over his insults disparaging Mexicans, Muslims, women and others.

This week, then, is a lot about what we don’t know. We can’t know yet if Spieth, Day, McIlroy or anybody else will build the kind of historic career Woods did. We don’t know if the tournament’s namesake host will make history by becoming the next U.S. president. And we cannot be sure if Doral is about to lapse into history, the past tense, as a PGA Tour destination. All of these elements make this week special — a fitting end, if that’s what this is.

ErinandrewsON MARRIOTT'S SHAMEFUL DEFENSE IN THE ERIN ANDREWS TRIAL: Marriott lawyers on Tuesday revealed a shameful defense strategy, claiming that Erin Andrews profited from the nude video of her that was shot through a peephole of the chain's Nashville hotel in 2008 and uploaded to the Internet by the creep who shot it. It has been watched an estimated 17 million times. Convicted pervert Michael D. Barrett did 2 1/2 years in prison. Andrews, 37, then at ESPN and now at Fox Sports, is suing Marriott for $75 million. Marriott's defense is somewhat reprehensible. Andrews should be appluaded for being able to maintain her career, and the fact she has done so has zero to do with her claim the hotel was negligent in allowing Barrett to stay in the room next to hers and alter the peephole to her room with a hacksaw. Her privacy was violated in a most awful way, and Marriott's claim she gained financially because of the nude video is shameful. It makes me question my past loyalty to Marriott when traveling -- not because the incident happened at a Marriott, but because of the chain's defense in this trial. I hope Andrews gets every penny of the $75 million she is seeking.

ChinnFIU MUST ACT SWIFTLY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY OVER ALLEGATIONS AGAINST WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: I just read this story by our FIU beat writer David J. Neal and it is well-reported and shocking and galling. The FIU women's basketball team is going through a 4-23 season under first-year coach Marlin Chinn (pictured), but the record no longer matters. Chinn's conduct does, if allegations made against him by team captain Destini Feagin are true. She says Chinn has pursued a sexual relationship with her most of this season. If so that is a firing offense to say the least -- the height of inappropriateness especially for a male coach of a women's team. And I must say, from the account and its details, Ms. Feagin's claims have the heft of credibility. If Chinn has been wrongly accused, let him speak. If he has not been wrongly accused, let him resign in disgrace, or be fired. FIU's investigation led by athletic director Pete Garcia must be swift because this is sordid, combustible and a huge embarrassment for Miami's major public university. Chinn today was suspended by the school pending the outcome of that investigation, a necessary step. I can imagine repercussions. If the allegations prove to be true, it stretches credulity to think no assistant coach, no one else in FIU athletics, knew what was going on. If Ms. Feagin is right, I doubt Chinn would be the only person fired over this. I also doubt FIU would be unscathed by the NCAA over lack of institutional control.

THE LATEST GUESS ON DOLPHINS' NO. 1 DRAFT PICK: This today from ESPN's Todd McShay, in his third (of 7,418) mock drafts. He has Miami selecting UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, saying: "Jack, who is still recovering from an early-season knee injury, didn't participate in drills at the Combine. But his tape shows a twitched-up athlete who thrives in coverage and can make plays all over the field versus the run. If the Dolphins are looking to add a much-needed playmaker to the second level, Jack is their best bet." Well, maybe. And LB is a need. But I still think, right now, that Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is the likeliest Fins pick at No. 8 overall.

KatyKATY THE CHEERLEADER SAVES THE NFL COMBINE: Sure the NFL Combine ongoing in Indianapolis, the pre-draft meat market, is a raging bore except to football nerds and men with stopwatches, and is rather hopeless as a TV event. But it has its redeeming value. And here it is: NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen competing against two fully outfitted team mascots and a blond Falcons cheerleader named Katy in the 40-yard dash. Oh it's exquisite! Katy has terrific form. Also a pretty good running style. Click here to watch. The video is courtesy TMZ.com, which is pretty much filming everything, everywhere, including under your bed right now.

LATEST HEAT, PANTHERS BETTING ODDS: Per Bovada's latest odds, Heat are now 75-1 (tied for ninth) to win NBA title, down from 66-1, with Golden State an absurd 5-7 favorite over Cleveland's 13-4. As for the NBA MVP race, it might as well be off-the-board, with Steph Curry a ridiculous 1-30.  In the NHL, the Panthers are steady at 16-1 to win the Stanley Cup, 10th best, with Washington (9-2) and Chicago (5-1) fronting the pack.
Oscar2
OscarPoll result: Robertson edges the Grouch for Best Oscar:
We asked who was the greatest Oscar of all-time, gave you 12 choices and three votes, and when the pollen settled it was Oscar Robertson with 20.8 percent edging Oscar the Grouch with 19.0%. Bronze goes to Oscar Wilde with 12.2%. Also in double digits: Oscar Mayer (the bologna) at 11.3% and Oscar (the Academy Awards statue) right at 10.0%.

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Twitter @gregcote

February 10, 2016

Do you agree with Heat retiring Shaq's jersey number? New poll. Vote now!; plus a video ode to Peyton Manning ("Omahallelujah!"), Miami Jackson High's historic gamble, how and why Super Bowl 50 let us down & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10. Carly Fiorina, who looked, talked and acted like the one teacher at school every student hates, dropped out of the Republican presidential race today. 2) Oy! Dolphins are ranked a depressing 24th in ESPN's post-Super Bowl 2016 NFL Power Rankings. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl 50 with postgame poll, Hot Button Top 10, Hurricanes men rise in polls & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Congrats to Canes' four brainiacs: xFour Miami Hurricanes football players -- quarterbacjk Brad Kaaya, offensive linemen Alex Gall and Nick Linder and punyer Justin Vogel -- were among 56 players named Wednesday to the All-ACC Academic Team.

The new 'Back In My Day': Just posted it on my Facebook page.

Super Bore 50!: Let us count the ways Sunday's big game and its surrounding attractions let us down. Lady Gaga's national anthem was great. Otherwise? From the game itself to the pregame show, the broadcast, the halftime show, the TV commercials and the postgame, there was much not to like. That's the gist of my latest column. Click on I Want To Kill Puppymonkeybaby to read in full.

ShaqSHOULD THE HEAT BE LIFTING SHAQ'S JERSEY INTO THE RAFTERS?: The Miami Heat yesterday announced it would retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 uniform number at the start of next season, making him only the third player in club history (Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning) afforded such an honor. But is it justified? Leading the "yes" argument: Shaq had a huge hand in helping win Miami's first NBA championship and raising the franchise's profile to a whole new level. Leading the "no" argument: Longevity. He played only 3 1/2 seasons for the Heat (July 2004 'til February '08), and left on frosty terms. There is also the fact he is much better known as a Los Angeles Laker, for whom he spent his prime seasons and had his greatest success. So, yes or no? Your call.

Peyton"OMAHALLELUJAH!": It figured that a video tribute to Peyton Manning would come via the homespun radio variety show, A Prairie Home Companion, the Garrison Keillor production based out of St. Paul, Minn. Cam Newton would have gotten  some sort of rap treatment for winning the Super Bowl, one imagines. Peyton gets bluegrass from the Midwest. Check this out, though. Smarted lyrically and created and performed just in the past few days:

 

HISTORY! MIAMI JACKSON'S BOLD MOVE:  Miami Jackson High School makes history today by becoming the first Florida high school to hire a female head football coach. She is Lakatriona
"Bernice" Brunson (pictured), perhaps previously best-known as a recent star of the truTV reality tow-truck series, South Beach Tow. The Jackson Generals further make news by hiring Luther Brunson"Luke" Campbell, originally famous as the leader of the 2 Live Crew rap group, as defensive coordinator. Campbell previously has coached prep football at Central, Northwestern and Norland. If the hirings prove to be as successful on the field as they are instantly attention-getting, Jackson will have found itself a bounty. Brunson was graduated from Miami Northwestern High in 1995, playing basketball and track and field. She threw shot put and discus and helped lead one of the state's powers in the sport, later playing basketball and graduating from Tennessee State. She teaches phys-ed at Jackson. Campbell told the Miami Herald: "At first I thought this might be crazy because I take football real serious. But after a conversation with her, I said, 'Naw, she knows her football. She's on point.' I don't take this as a joke. I didn't want to be a part of no circus." In my blog headline I call this a "bold gamble " for Jackson. I say "gamble" not so much because Brunson is a woman, but because she has no coaching experience. It would be bold in any case, but the inexperience at the job is what makes it a gamble.  Jackson hopes the new regime can finally help win the school's first state football championship after three semifinal losses, most recently in 2012. It is close to impossible to not wish the trail-blazing Brunson well.

Poll result: You found Super Bowl 50 to be a bit below average: We asked how you rated the Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl experience, and it was "worse than average" at 43.4 percent, "about the same" at 33.0% and "better than average" at 23.6%.

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

Twitter @gregcote