April 28, 2018

GRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT: New poll. Vote now!: plus analysis on all 8 Miami picks; also, your verdict on Fitzpatrick at No. 1, today's Day 3 action, 4-Man Outfield update & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, APRIL 28. Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft Minkah Fitzpatrick with poll, my Mock Draft with results, your verdict on Fins' position-preference and Wade's return, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DolsGRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT! NEW POLL. VOTE NOW: [Note: Poll has moved to our newest blogpost. Chcek it out there]. I know, we all hate instant analysis, right? And yet we all have instant opinions. An instant gut feeling on how much we like (or don't like, or somewhere in between) our team's draft. So this isn't science. We all might feel differently in a year or so. This is just a pulse read now on how Dolfans are feeling about Miami's '18 draft. I'd base my vote on the quality of players drafted and on how they addressed needs. But your criteria is your own. Does the Dolphins' haul leave you happy? Disappointed? What? Poll purposely does not include an 'F' grade because, well, come on. Vote now!

DOLPHINS 2018 DRAFT: A RUNNING ANALYSIS: TOP THREE PICKS AND INTO DAY 3: Below is a pick-by-pick synopsis and analysis of Miami's ongoing 2018 NFL Draft -- three selections made, five more today as the draft wraps up. We'll be updating throughout the afternoon on all the Day 3 picks, after which we'll have a grade-the-draft poll right here.

Minkah1st (11th): MINKAH FITZPATRICK, S, ALABAMA -- Draft's 2nd-ranked safety. Grade 6.19 (should become instant starter). NFL.com overview: "Fitzpatrick turns up the intensity level as high as it will go and and rips off the knob until game is over. Has experience as slot cornerback but will likely be targeted as "do-everything" safety who can be deployed as sub-package linebacker, blitzer or in slot against big receivers and tight ends. Has consistently shined since his freshman season. Versatility, football character and desire should make him early starter." Caution: Smallish at 6-0, 204 vs. huge TEs like Gronk. Position need: Moderate. Dolphins had chance to move up or otherwise land their future quarterback but instead picked a player whose position was not among the most urgent needs. That is why my initial mini-column reaction was Solid Contact, No Home Run.

My full column on top pick: Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It Safe

Your poll verdict on Fitzpatrick pick: Two-thirds favorable: More than 3,500 voted online and in our blog (you may still vote in previous post), and it was 67.17 percent favorable (36.50% like, 30.67% love) versus 32.83% less than favorable (19.80% so-so, 7.59% dislike, 5.44% hate).

Gesicki2nd (42nd): MIKE GESICKI, TE, PENN STATE -- Draft's 3rd-ranked tight end. Grade 5.92 (chance to become NFL starter). NFL.com overview: "If you are looking for a tight end who can line up and help in the running game, he's not your guy. However, if you want a pass-catcher who can get open and has the ball skills to win against linebackers and safeties, he might be your guy. Gesicki needs to improve his strength and issues as a blocker but has chance to become one of better pass catching tight ends in league." Position need: High. Plus, at 6-6, 247, he's in the Gronk mold physically.

Jbaker3rd (73rd): JEROME BAKER, OLB, OHIO STATE -- Draft's 7th-ranked outside linebacker. Grade 5.65 (chance to become NFL starter). NFL.com overview: "Likely 4-3 weakside LB with range and speed to chase and tackle around the field and coverage talent to squeeze routes from man or zone. What Baker has in athletic ability and speed, he lacks in strength and toughness against run. Teams will have to decide if he's sub-package LB or three-down talent. May never be more than an average backup to below average starter." Position need: High. OLB fits a need, and he has desirable speed, but Baker is very small for the role at 6-1, 229.

My mini-column on 2nd and 3rd picks: Next Gronk (They Hope) And A Mini-Linebacker.

Smythe4th (123rd): DURHAM SMYTHE, TE, NOTRE DAME -- Draft's 12th-ranked tight end. Grade 5.60 (chance to become NFL starter). NFL.com overview: "Smythe is a classic 'Y' tight end who carries himself like an offensive lineman. He has the frame, toughness and ability to help do the dirty work as a run blocker for teams in need of toughness at the position. While he can catch what is thrown to him, he's unlikely to be a targeted pass catcher on the next level. Smythe's particular talent as a run blocker should create an opportunity to become a solid starter." Position need: Was high, until they went TE with second pick. Taking another one seems weird, although Gesecki is a pure offense-minded pass-catcher, while Smythe is a blocker-first. So they're complementary.

Ballage4th (131st): KALEN BALLAGE, RB, ARIZONA STATE -- Draft ranking outside top 20 running backs. Grade 5.46 (NFL backup or special teams potential). NFL.com overview: "Ballage looks great on the hoof, but his lack of decisiveness and vision make it hard to envision him as a full-time RB1. Ballage can do a little of this and a little of that, but a team will need to have a clear-cut plan for how to use him. Ballage's size and athletic ability will appeal to teams as will his ability to play on third downs and return kicks." Position need: Fairly high. Glad they got a RB, with Frank Gore so old, but will Ballage, though fast, be a guy who's going to challenge Kenyan Drake or Gore for touches?

Armstrong6th (209th): CORNELL ARMSTRONG, CB, SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI -- Draft ranking outside top 20 cornerbacks. Did not qualify for grade or overview with NFL.com. Fins take a chance on their first small-school pick. The top-ranked CB still available, Holton Hill of Texas, was there. Position need: Medium. Late pick on a corner not a bad idea, but Armsrtong is a real long shot.

Poling7th (227th): QUENTIN POLING, ILB, OHIO -- Draft ranking outside top 15 inside linebackers. Grade 5.15 (better than average chance to make NFL roster). NFL.com overview: "Poling's production, athletic testing and ability to potentially handle some coverage duties could make him a late Day 3 selection. He unleashes his true speed when he's chasing down tackles from behind, but needs to play to that same speed when he's attacking near the line of scrimmage. Poling has some holes in his game, but he has the ability to become a special teams player with backup linebacker potential." Position need: Medum. Raekwon McMillan the solid MLB starter. 

Kicker7th (229th): JASON SANDERS, PK, NEW MEXICO -- Draft outside top placekickers. Did not qualify for grade or overview on NFL.com. Position need: High. Dolphins do need a kicker, although free agency rather than late-draft would be the typical course.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED)Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and constantly updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Saturday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .829   15  57   11  16    9    2-1-2      .281

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .767   25 101  18  24   15   4-1-5      .238

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .623   23 101   8  26   16   3-0-2      .257

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .482   24  86    6  13    7    1-0-3      .151

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Our six-pack of recent Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry ThemWhiteside Must Rise Up NowIn Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust and The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 27, 2018

Alabama S Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 11: Like the Dolphins' pick? Poll. Vote now!; plus our mock draft #ExactosWatch results, your verdict on what Fins should have targeted, Dwyane Wade's future, 4-Man Outfield update & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, APRIL 27. Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a book!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins pre-draft poll, Dwyane Wade retire-or-return poll, latest Back In My Day video, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

ALABAMA S MINKAH FITZPATRICK at NO. 11: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF DOLPHINS' PICK? NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: Click on Solid Contact, No Home Run for my thoughts on last night's Dolphins' first round. Now it's your turn. Vote now:

DdraftGREG COTE'S 27TH ANNUAL OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD MOCK DRAFT: LIVE REPORT CARD: What's below is pared down to just the picks, except for the expanded Dolphins' selection. For the full online package, click Cote '18 Mock. It includes preliminary remarks, an explanation capsule on every pick, Super Bonus Draft Facts and a video by me. My picks were completed Wednesday afternoon, before news broke about Josh Allen's unfortunate teenage tweets. Oh well. No do-overs ... for Josh or myself. Let's mock! Many of you followed along here last night and on Twitter as I live-graded my own first round during the draft. A red bull's-eye icon next to the pick means an "exacto" -- right player to right team. A green check mark means I had that player in my first round, but not to the correct team. A black 'X' means I blew it; that player wasn't anywhere in my round. Here it is:

Check1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: The pick: Baker Mayfield, whom I had going 5th. #TweetGate didn't help Allen. Worst start since Marlins gave up home run on first pitch of season. #ExactosWatch: Kiper 1.

Bullseye2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: The pick: Barkley! The comeback  begins! #ExactosWatch: Kiper 2; Cote, Mayock & McShay 1 each.

Bullseye3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern Cal: The pick: Darnold! Got it! #RollinLikeABigWheel #ExactosWatch: Kiper 3; Cote 2; Mayock & McShay 1 each.

Check4. Cleveland Browns: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB: The pick: Denzel Ward. Yeah, maybe I overestimated The Mink. But nobody got this right. #ExactosWatch: Kiper 3; Cote 2; Mayock & McShay 1 each.

Check5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: The pick: Bradley Chubb. Good selection, though surprised they didn't go QB. I had Chubb going next. Mock stalemate. #ExactosWatch: Kiper 3; Cote 2; Mayock & McShay 1 each.

Check6. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State: The pick: Quenton Nelson. Had him 8th, but pick makes sense for Indy. #ExactosWatch: Kiper 3; Cote & McShay 2 each; Mayock 1.

Check7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: The pick: Buffalo trades up from No. 12, takes Josh Allen. Still alive with Rosen-to-Dolphins! #ExactosWatch: Kiper & McShay 3 each; Cote & Mayock 2 each.

Check8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame: The pick Roquan Smith. Had him two picks later. I don't like the way this thing is trending for me. #ExactosWatch: McShay 4; Kiper & Mayock 3 each; Cote 2.

Check9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, DE/OLB, Virginia Teach: The pick: Mike McGlinchey. A bit high for him. Nobody got it: #ExactosWatch: McShay 4; Kiper & Mayock 3 each; Cote 2.

Check10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia: The pick: Arizona moves up from No. 15, takes Josh Rosen. DAMN! There goes my Dolphins pick -- one away! #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 4 each; Kiper 3; Cote 2. (Mayock had Rosen to Cardinals, though at No.15 before trade-up).

Check11. MIAMI DOLPHINS: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA -- Minkah Fitzpatrick. I'll have more on this pick online soon. #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 4 each; Kiper 3; Cote 2.  /  Original post: Fins get (hopefully) their quarterback of the future when Rosen – one of the draft’s Big Four QBs – unexpectedly falls to them. He’s seen as NFL- Rosenready but the suspicion is he’ll groom behind Ryan Tannehill in 2018. Is he a perfect prospect? No. There are reasons he tumbled to Miami. Durability (shoulder, concussions) have been a concern. So have turnovers, with 26 INTs and seven lost fumbles in 30 college starts. But his upside is too great to bypass the surprise gift of his availability. If Rosen is gone by here (a real possibility), Miami would consider the FSU safety Derwin James or perhaps Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson, but likelier might select the big run-stopper Vita Vea, who’d plug in so perfectly for the departed Ndamukong Suh. Vea is the safer Dolphins pick here, yes, but I can’t ignore that my mock has Rosen landing in their laps. Also think there is a possibility that Miami would reach and select Louisville QB Lamar Jackson 11th. Jackson isn’t as fully formed and ready as Rosen, but is more of a dual threat, a bigger gamble with perhaps a higher ceiling.

Check12. Buffalo Bills: Derwin James, S, Florida State: The pick: Tampa Bay trades down, takes Vita Vea. I was one spot off on him. #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 4 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2.

Check13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington: The pick: Da'Ron Payne. We all had him going a bit lower. Exactos are getting tougher. #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 4 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2.

Check14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio: The pick: New Orleans trades up, takes Davenport. Damn! Had him going in this exact spot but don't get credit. #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 4 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2.


Check15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
. The pick: After a trade, Oakland takes Kolton Miller. Ouch. My first 'X.' And our scoreboard stays frozen. #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 4 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2.

Check16. Baltimore Ravens: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. The pick: After a trade, Buffalo takes Tremaine Edmunds. This was a guy many draftniks (not me) thought Miami would grab. #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 4 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2.

Check17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. The pick: Derwin James. Big fall for the FSU kid some had top-10. Mock scoreboard still frozen. #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 4 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2.

Check18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The pick: After a trade, Green Bay takes Jaire Alexander. Finally, movement on the scoreboard! #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 5 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2. (McShay and Mayock had Alexander to Packers, though with the 14th pick).

Check19. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. The pick: Leighton Vander Esch. No points, but I was the only one of the four mockers here who had Vander Esch going in first round. #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 5 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2.

X20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College. The pick: Frank Ragnow. Just plumb missed this cat. My chances for a valiant rally are waning. #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 5 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2.

X21. Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels, C, Iowa. The pick: Billy Price. None of we four mockers had this dude in our first round.  #ExactosWatch: Mayock & McShay 5 each; Kiper 3, Cote 2.

Bullseye22. Buffalo Bills: Will Hernandez, OG, Texas-El Paso. The pick: After a trade, Tennessee picks Rashaan Evans. I finally score! #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 3 each. (Mayock and I both had Evans to Titans, but with 25th pick).

Check23. New England Patriots: Connor Williams, OG/OT, Texas. The pick: Isaiah Wynn. Right position, right idea, wrong guy. #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 3 each.

Bullseye24. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. The pick: Moore. Yeeeah! Me and Kiper nailed it. RallyinIt! #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 4 each.

Check25. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama. The pick: After a trade, Baltimore takes Hayden Hurst. And score remains the same as we approach the home stretch. #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 4 each. 

Check26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. The pick: Calvin Ridley. All of us had him going a bit higher. Mayock crafting his victory speech?  #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 4 each. 

X27. New Orleans Saints: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina. The pick: After a trade, Seattle takes Rashaad Penny. Huh? Wha? None of we four had this guy in our first round. #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 4 each. 

X28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State. The pick: Terrell Edmunds. Another dude who eluded us all. Making the turn now. One furlong to go! #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 4 each.

Check29. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Chark, WR, Louisiana State. The pick: Taven Bryan. All of us had the Gator going just a bit higher. #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 4 each.

X30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia. The pick: Mike Hughes. Of national-champion UCF! Same scoreboard entering the top of the ninth. #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 4 each.

X31. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. The pick: Sony Michel. Another late misfire by me. One more chance. #ExactosWatch: Mayock 6; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 4 each.

Check32. Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Jones, RB, Southern Cal. The pick: After a trade, Baltimore takes Lamar Jackson to end round.  Final #ExactosWatch (pending an audit by Price Waterhouse): Mayock 7; McShay 5; Cote & Kiper 4 each.

POLL RESULT: DOLFANS' POSITION PREFERENCE A TWO-WAY RACE: We asked in a blog poll, "What position would you be most pleased to see the Miami Dolphins address in the NFL Draft's first round?" Two dominated -- linebacker with 41.01 percent, and quarterback with 36.69%. A distant third was defensive line with 8.63%, with five other position options sharing the remaining votes.

POLL RESULT: WADE WILL BE BACK (BUT BARELY): I wonder if Dwyane Wade's career and life-changing decision -- retire or return -- is as close in his mind as this vote was. I asked that question in a 24-hour poll on my Twitter site and, after 3,647 votes, it was 53 percent he'll be back with the Heat to 47% he'll retire. Close. I tend to agree with what the voting suggests: That it could go either way, but that it's likelier he'll be back for a final, farewell season in 2018-19.

Our six-pack of Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry ThemWhiteside Must Rise Up NowIn Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust and The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED)Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Friday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .878   14  54   11  16    8    2-1-2      .296

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .772   24  97   18  23   15   4-1-5      .237

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .583   22  96    8  23   14   2-0-2      .240

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .482   23  82    6  12    7    1-0-3      .146

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 25, 2018

The annual Dolphins Draft Poll: What position do you hope Miami targets in first round? Vote now!; plus Heat's done. Wade, too? Your verdict and my thoughts; also, new Back In My Day video, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25. Final score from last night's Marlins game: Bryant Gumbel 1, Derek Jeter 0. 2) Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a book!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat eliminated in Game 5, NFL Draft's top 10 state-college prospects, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

WadeDID HEAT ELIMINATION MEAN WADE'S DONE, TOO? YOUR THOUGHTS, AND MINE: Miami bounced in first round of playoffs 4-1 by Philly, meaning a lots-to-think-about, lots-to-do offseason for Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra as they try to elevate a pretty good team into one that can compete beyond the current low-seed/quick-exit status. The more emotional question arising from Tuesday night's loss: Have we seen the last of Dwyane Wade? Will he retire or return for another season? Do not expect a decision to be made public for a few months, until well into summer. In a poll on my Twitter site well over 3,000 have voted and it was running 55 percent he'll be back to 45% he'll retire. Close. You may still voice your opinion; poll is open until around 10 tonight. Go HERE to vote. I tend to agree with what the voting thus far suggests. I don't think his return is foregone, but I think it is likely. A farewell season in 2018-19, then the sunset. We'll see. Either way, D.Wade's legacy is secure. First-ballot Hall of Famer, three-time champion and on a two-man Mount Rushmore with Dan Marino -- and in my mind just above him -- as the most important athlete in South Florida pro sports history. 

Our six-pack of Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (off Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

WarroomTHE MIAMI DOLPHINS PRE-DRAFT POLL: VOTE NOW!: I will have my annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft and a related video online later today, so Dolhelyou'll know soon where I think the Dolphins are headed with their first round pick, scheduled 11th overall. Pictured: Fins VP of football ops Mike Tannenbaum and owner Stephen Ross will be two of the men in the "War Room" Thursday night shaping that selection. But first it's your turn in our annual Dolphins pre-draft poll. There are no names below (too many possibilities and variables), but positions instead. This allows you to name what you think is Miami's most pressing need meriting first-round attention. For me its quarterback or just about anywhere on defense. But this is your poll. Vote, obviously, as if there will be a qualified candidate available at No. 11 at the position you choose. Ready? Vote!

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY' VIDEO: OLD MOVIE THEATERS!: From yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews, an ode to the old-timey theater experience of marquees, Milk Duds and red velvet curtain. Starts about 40 seconds in, after a Stephen A. Smith rant about birthdays:

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Tuesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .939   12  47   10  15    8    2-1-2      .319

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .745   22  89   15  19   14   3-1-5      .213

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .581   20  86    8  20   11   2-0-2      .233

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .484   22  80    6  12    7    1-0-3      .150

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Schedule Not Daunting, So No More ExcusesBuy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Welcome Home, D.Wade / Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 24, 2018

G5: @Philadelphia 104, Heat 91: Miami eliminated from playoffs. Was that Wade's final game? Poll. Vote now; plus top 10 state-college NFL Draft prospects and every Cane; also, Radio Tuesday, 4-Man Outfield updated & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, APRIL 24. Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a book!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot  Button Top 10, Heat-on-the-brink column, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Heat eliminated. Was that Dwyane Wade's final game?: New poll on our Twitter feed. Go HERE to vote now.

G5: @PHILADELPHIA 104, HEAT 91: IT'S OVER: Original post: It has been done once before. Only once. It was 21 seasons ago, in 1997. That was the only time the Miami Heat Mustwin Dwadehave been down 3-1 in a playoff series and won three straight games to advance. It was vs. the Knicks in the second round. It was Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning vs. Patrick Ewing and G5Allan Houston. But two of those three straight wins were at Miami. This time the climb is steeper. The Heat trails Philadelphia 3-1 entering Game 5 tonight up there, and this time the three straight Miami must win to stay alive would include two in Philly -- tonight and a Game 7, sandwiched around one more in Miami if the Heat prevail tonight. This is the Heat's 20th postseason appearance in 30 franchise years, and (barring a history-making comeback) would be Miami's 10th first-round exit -- but first since 2010, the season before LeBron James' arrival. This would be the third first-round exit under Erik Spoelstra (2010, '09). There were five on Pat Riley's watch (2007, '01, '99, '98 and '96) and two under Kevin Loughery (1994, 92). Can the Heat avoid joining that dubious list of first-round exits? A better question: Do you believe in miracles? I do not believe the Heat will live to play another home game this spring. I think it ends tonight.  

Our six-pack of Heat playoff-run columns thus far: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (off Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

DerwinjamesNFL DRAFT: TOP 10 STATE-COLLEGE PROSPECTS AND ALL CANES: The NFL Draft this Thursday through Saturday finds most South Florida interest riveted on the whom the Dolphins will select -- especially with their first-round pick slotted 11th overall. (I'll have my annual mock draft out later in the week). But there is also interest in state-college players who'll be drafted, and here is the list of the top 10 prospects based on ESPN's player rankings. Only the first three players listed are judged likely to be first-round picks, with top-ranked Derwin James pictured right. No Miami Hurricanes are close to first-round status. Only one Cane (barely) makes the state top 10, but we've listed all of the other draft-eligible Canes beneath the top 10:

Player, Pos., School                           Overall   Grade

1. Derwin James, S, FSU                       7th       93

2. Mike Hughes, CB, UCF                     17th       90

3. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida                 18th       90

4. Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida        74th       78

5. Josh Sweat, DE, FSU                       81st       76

6. Duke Dawson, CB, Florida               88th       73

7. Derrick Nnadi, DT, FSU                    93rd      72

8. Deadrin Senat, DT, South Florida    104th      70

9. Jordan Akins, TE, UCF                   123rd      66

10. Chris Herndon, TE, Miami            127th      65

Other Hurricanes: DT RJ McIntosh 129th/65; RB Mark Walton 136th/62; DE Chad Thomas 148th/59; WR Braxton Berrios 192nd/51; DT Kendrick Norton 230th/44 and OG KC McDermott 260th/39.

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON AT .145: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Tuesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers      1.000   11  42   10  14    8    2-1-2      .333

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .778   21  85   14  19   14   3-1-5      .224

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .616   19  81    8  20   11   2-0-2      .247

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .470   21  76    6  11    7    0-0-3      .145

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Schedule Not Daunting, So No More ExcusesBuy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Welcome Home, D.Wade / Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 23, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Who won the tight battle for No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Heat's hope-crushing defeat (with column), 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 23. Eagles and Jimmy Buffett put on a great show at The Rock on Saturday. Vince Gill played with the Eagles and was fantastic. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Sixers Game 4, analyzing Dolphins schedule, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

The violent swing of a physical series: My Heat Game 4 column: This was the 76ers coach after Saturday's game: "I'm shocked we won this game. We didn't really have a right." The Heat's 106-102 loss for a 3-1 series disadvantage could not have been more demoralizing. Miami did so much right. Philly did so much wrong. And yet the Heat let what should have been a faith-restoring, series-evening victory slip away late. Again. My column: A Hope-Crushing Defeat. Our previous Heat playoff-run columns: Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much / Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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: Crushing Game 4 loss has Miami on the brink: Saturday's 106-102 Game 4 home loss by Miami made it a 3-1 series that Philly can clinch at home on Tuesday. How in hell did the Heat manage to lose that game? How on earth did the Sixers somehow win!? Soon, there will be a long offseason to ponder the questions. Short answer: The 76ers are better. As for my series prediction -- Heat in six games -- I plead temporary insanity. Although "temporary" may be open to debate.

2. DOLPHINS: Finally! It's NFL Draft Week: The regular-season schedule came out, and it isn't daunting enough to be an excuse for more Fins losing. Meanwhile, finally, it's draft week, with the first round this Thursday night kicking off the three-day event. You've read a thousand mock drafts (mine is yet to come) and still have no idea what the Dolphins will do with the 11th overall pick. It's OK. Neither do I. The real question: Do the Dolphins even know?

3. SOCCER: Quartet of giants at Hard Rock this summer: The International Champions Cup returns to The Rock this summer with a massive doubleheader: Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich on July 28, and Manchester United vs. Real Madrid on July 31. Both games should sell out, just like last summer’s El Clasico Miami did with Real Madrid and Barcelona. Miami and Hard Rock alway gets the best ICC matches. No mystery. "I own the event," as Dolphins and stadium owner Stephen Ross points out.

4. MARLINS: Jeter tries to defend the indefensible: Fire-Sale Fish owner Derek Jeter made the  mistake of going on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel for an interview that airs Tuesday. It got contentious. Jeter called Gumbel mentally weak and at one point said, "Tanking? What is tanking?" Well, since he asked! Dear Derek: Tanking is trading away your best players in a payroll slash, even knowing it would leave you with a non-competitive team. Marlins' current record: 5-16. Or 5-17, if you count Jeter's loss to Gumble.

5. NBA: Pelicans first through, LeBron sweating: New Orleans swept Portland to be the first team onto the playoffs' second round, while Golden State and Philadelphia are one win away from advancing. Three series are deadlocked 2-2 including, surprising, Cavs-Pacers in the wide-open East. LeBron James struggling to get past the first round? Well, if the Heat don't advance, isn't that about the best South Florida can hope for?

6. HURRICANES: UM football puts a bow on spring practice: Mark Richt wrapped up a month's offseason work, and spring practice ended with it looking as if Malik Rosier would enter the fall still as the team's starting quarterback. The questions fans are left to ponder: Is that a good thing?

7. NHL: Six teams advance, two close: Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, San Jose, expansion Las Vegas, Pittsburgh and Nashville are on to the next round in the Stanley Cup playoffs, while Boston and Washington are up 3-2 and try to clinch on road ice tonight. Winnipeg is the last hope to end Canada's four-decade Stanley Cup drought. But don't get your hopes up, eh?

8. SOCCER: UEFA Champions League semifinal on deck: It's Liverpool vs. Roma and Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid in the first leg of the semifinals this Tuesday and Wednesday, with the second leg on May 1-2. You partial to Cinderellas? Roma's your team.

9. UM BASEBALL: It isn't getting any better, folks: Dropping two out of three at Pitt, Canes baseball is now 17-22, with the chances to climb above .500 slipping away. A sad way for coach Jim Morris to go out after such a long and stellar career at UM. 

10. POWERBOATS: Miami Marine Stadium comes alive!: There was powerboat racing at Miami Marine Stadium this weekend for the first time in 26 years with the P1 Miami Grand Prix of the Sea. It's history making, by which I mean this is the first-ever appearance of powerboat racing in the Hot Button Top 10.

Missing the HB10 cut: UCF football unveiled a "2017 National Champions" sign at its stadium. Um, should we tell them, or let them continue in their harmless delusion? ..... Packers QB Aaron Rodgers bought a small share of the Milwaukee Bucks. His advice to the team: More passing! ..... UM held its 50th annual Sports Hall of Fame banquet. honoring a nine-person class led by new Dolphin Frank Gore. The number of people in the UM hall now exceeds the population of half the countries in the world ..... Five years after the Boston Marathon bombing, an American woman won the race for the first time since 1985. "U-S-A!" ..... Condolences to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on the death of wife Erin.

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': ALL BUT ONE STRUGGLING: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Monday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers      1.000   11  42   10  14    8    2-1-2      .333

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .678   20  81   11  15   12   3-1-4      .185

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .616   19  81    8  20   11   2-0-2      .247

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .479   20  73    6  11    7    0-0-3      .151

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: On Dolphins schedule: Schedule Not Daunting, So No More Excuses. Also: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 21, 2018

G4: Philadelphia 106, @Heat 102: Miami squanders lead, sees series hope fritter away; plus Dolphins' 2018 schedule not daunting, so no more excuses!; also, 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

Meshirt1) It's SATURDAY, APRIL 21. It's Record Store Day! Explore an indie shop near you. That's me on the right flying the flag of my local haunt. Get your groove on. Vinyl's back, Jack! 2) Best wishes to longtime colleague and fellow columnist Dave George, who retired this week after 40 years at the Palm Beach Post. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Sixers Game 3, your Whiteside verdict (uh oh), Dolphins draft/schedule, MLB Top 50, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

My Heat Game 4 column: Click on A Hope-Crushing Defeat to read.

Column on Dolphins schedule offering no excuses: Click Schedule Not Daunting, So No More Excuses for my latest column. With Ryan Tannehill back, an offseason of changes that (they think) made them better, and a schedule that is less than daunting, the Fins are out of excuses to not win in 2018.

G4: PHILADELPHIA @ HEAT: SPO ON THE SPOT TODAY IN (REALISTICALLY) A MUST-WIN: I hate saying "must win" casually, when it isn't that literally, but today is everything but for the Heat, Embiidtrailing the Sixers 2-1 in this best-of-seven playoff series. Another loss would leave Miami having to win three games in a row -- two of them in Philly. Even a win today still leaves the Heat G4disadvantaged, but at least with a fair shot and the assurance of another home game. I say "Spo on the spot" in the headline here because coach Erik Spoelstra must find a way to neutralize the 76ers' clear advantage in overall talent. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the best players in this series, and both so young and athletic. Who can stop Embiid (pictured), the the masked marvel? Spo must find a way to do that, to get Hassan Whiteside involved offensively, which he has been unable to do thus far, and he also must find a way to create much better perimeter defense, considering Philly has sunk 18 three-pointers in both its series wins. All of the pressure is on the home team today. Let's see how they handle it.

Our Heat playoff-run columns: On Thursday's Game 3 home loss: Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much. Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

RtDOLPHINS SCHEDULE SOFT ENOUGH TO WIPE AWAY ALL THE EXCUSES: [Note: An expanded version of this blogpost on Dolphins schedule appears as an online column linked immediately above]. You know what I see when I look at the Miami Dolphins' newly minted 2018 regular-season schedule? I see a last chance for the regime of VP Mike Tannenbaum, GM Chris Grier and coach Adam Gase. At least that's how they should see it. Like an opportunity they should seize as if their Dolphins futures depended on it. This is a schedule that affords a chance for last year's 6-10 team to improve by a few games and be in the playoff hunt. The return of quarterback Ryan Tannehill (pictured) only underlines the notion that there will be no excuses for Miami in 2018. After the season opener, the Fins play nine of their next 10 games against teams not in the playoffs last year. There is a real shot to be in solid postseason shape entering December -- and they'd better be, because the schedule finishes tough. With all but one game at 1 p.m. on a Sunday, our game by game synopsis/outlook, with AFC East games in bold:

G1: Vs. Tennessee Sept. 9 -- Titans made playoffs at 9-7 last year but Dolphins beat them here (16-10) and get home-opener boost. Win likelihood solid.

G2: @ N.Y. Jets Sept. 16 -- Rivals were 5-11 last year but teams split games. Always tough roadie for Miami. Win likelihood fair.

G3: Vs. Oakland Sept. 23 -- Raiders were disappointing 6-10 in '17 but edged Miami 27-24 here. Payback? Win likelihood solid.

G4: @ New England Sept. 30 -- Big Daddy Pats were 13-3, reached Super Bowl. Assuming Tom Brady doesn't retire, the Danny Amendola Bowl might not go well. Miami last won in Foxborough in 2008. Win likelihood slim.

G5: @ Cincinnati Oct. 7 -- Bengals were 7-9 and missed playoffs, but Fins lost last trip to Cincy in '16. Win likelihood fair.

G6: Vs. Chicago Oct. 14 -- Bears were 5-11. If Miami has a playoff prayer, this one better be in the bank. Win likelihood solid.

G7: Vs. Detroit Oct. 21 -- Lions were 9-7 but missed postseason. Another key game a playoff team must take. Win likelihood fair.

G8: @ Houston Oct. 25 -- Texans were 4-12 but will have Deshaun Watson back a huge difference. And this is the Thursday night road game every traveling team hates. Win likelihood slim.

G9: Vs. N.Y. Jets Nov. 4 -- If you can't beat the Stinkin' Jets at home, can you say you deserve the playoffs? Win likelihood solid.

G10: @ Green Bay Nov. 11 -- Pack was 7-9 and missed playoffs. Aaron Rodgers, but what else? Tough venue, though. Win likelihood fair. 

Bye Week. Late. But well-timed for a big closing push?

G11: @ Indianapolis Nov. 25 -- Colts were 4-12 but should have Andrew Luck back for the Frank Gore Bowl. Win likelihood solid. 

G12: Vs. Buffalo Dec. 2 -- This begins the schedules' tough closing stretch. Bills were 9-7 and made playoffs, and swept Miami (both close) last year. Win likelihood fair.

G13: Vs. New England Dec. 9 -- Well, Dolphins beat Pats at home last year, so... Win likelihood fair.

G14: @ Minnesota Dec. 16 -- Vikings were 13-3. Tough roadie. Win likelihood slim. 

G15: Vs. Jacksonville Dec. 23 -- Jags were 10-6 and made playoffs, but it's here, and it's still Blake Bortles. Win likelihood fair.

G16: @ Buffalo Dec. 30 -- Weather a likely big factor. Tough finish if this is for a playoff spot. Win likelihood slim.

ESPN forecasts a two-game bump to 8-8 for Miami. I have it as five "solid" wins, seven "fair" shots and four "slim" chances. By that reckoning, if Fins go 4-3 in those seven teetering games, that's 9-7 and a (likely) wild-card spot. In any case: No More Excuses!

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Brinson has been struggling mightily but came alive with two homers Thursday (his first extra-base hits all years) to raise his OPS from .316 to .456. The latest, entering Saturday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       1.076   9  34    9  13    6    2-1-1      .382

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .740   18  73   10  15   12   3-1-4      .205

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .622   18  77    7  19   11   2-0-2      .247

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .442   18  66    5  10    4    0-0-2      .152

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 19, 2018

G3: Philadelphia 128, @ Heat 108: Embiid shows up, Whiteside doesn't, and Miami down 2-1. With my column from the arena; plus poll verdict in on Whiteside (ouch!); also, Dolphins draft/schedule, Top 50 MLB players, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, APRIL 19. Condolences to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and family on the death of his wife, Erin, 67, following a long illness. 2) Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the podcast of this week's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade rescues Heat, Whiteside poll, Marlins 29th of 30 in 'legendary,' 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW: COLUMN ON HEAT'S GAME 3 LOSS: Click Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much for my column from the arena on Thursday night's 128-108 Game 3 loss creating a 2-1 series hole entering Saturday's Game 4 here.

G3: PHILADELPHIA @ HEAT: GOOD THAT WADE HAS THAT LEFT IN HIM. BETTER IF MIAMI ISN'T COUNTING ON IT: Heat-Sixers NBA first-round playoff series locked 1-1 entering Game 3 back Hwhitesideat the downtown bayside arena tonight -- Miami's first home playoff game in two years. Philly super-center Joel Embiid being called "doubtful" to play tonight, meaning he might but probably G3won't. Pretty clearly, the 76ers will need Embiid to challenge for the East crown, but think they can get by without him now and beat Miami anyway. Up to the Heat to prove otherwise. Dwyane Wade carried the Heat off the bench with 28 points in Game 2. As I explore in my latest column (link below), Miami should not rely on its 36-year-old icon to ave the day. Wade at this point in his career should be more luxuruy than necessity. Others must step up, led by Hassan Whiteside (pictured) and Goran Dragic and the bench. Only James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk have distinguished themselves in this series beyond Wade's Game 2. Miami stripped away Philly's home-court advantage but I still consider Sixers the series favorite. Both sides need a win tonight very badly, the beauty of a seven-game series. Our four Heat playoff-run columns thus far:

(*) New: It's good Wade can still do that, but better if they don't need him to: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them.

(*) His Heat future is wavering, and two quiet games haven't helped: Whiteside Must Rise Up Now.

(*) With Wade at the hub, Heat keep giving us reasons to care: In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust.

(*) And my series prediction, which Wade pulled from the gutter: The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

POLL RESULT: VERDICT IN ON WHITESIDE (SORRY, HASSAN...): We asked, "What best reflects your opinion of the Heat's Hassan Whiteside?", and of four choices, a majority of 58.53 percent answered, "He's big disappointment relative to salary." Then it was 18.70% for "His skill set does not fir the evolving NBA," 17.89% for "Spoelstra needs to give him more minutes," and 4.88% for "Favorable. No issue. All good. No problem." The two negative options totaled around 77% to the two positive options' 23%. Ouch.

TannenbaumDOLPHINS: PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE (HA!), SCHEDULE RELEASE: The NFL insist teams have a pre-draft media session, so the Dolphins did on Wednesday, starring VP Mike Tannenbaum and GM Chris Grier (pictured), the team's Ministers of Draft Non-Information. They'll make the draft decisions with input from coach Adam Gase, and Wednesday the two men spent an hour revealing as little as possible about their intentions. It's Groundhog Day. Every year, reporters dutifully ask questions, team execs dutifully emit banal generalities. Everybody says thanks and leaves. Now, Thursday night comes Part II of the NFL making much ado about very little. The schedule release! It's packaged as prime-time TV now, of course. We already know who all of the Dolphins' opponents will be. Tonight simply sets the order and tells us if there are any prime-time games, yet the NFL says it's big news so the media obediently treats it as such. Teams coming off 6-10 season can't count on any prime-time stages, by the way, although odds are the Fins may get one. Update: And they did get one.

ESPN TOP 50 LIST ANOTHER 'OUCH' FOR MARLINS: ESPN ranks its Top 50 players in MLB right now and it's another reminder why the Marlins are where they are in the NL East. The Washington Nationals place five players in RHP Max Scherzer (4th), OF Bryce Harper (5th), RHP Stephen Strasburg (19th), 3B Anthony Rendon (37th) and SS Trea Turner (46th). There are two New York Mets in RHP Jacob deGrom (32nd) and RHP Noah Syndergaard (34th). There is one Atlanta Brave in 1B Freddie Freeman (25th). No Philadelphia Phillies, but the Phils are rising with the kind of rebuild the Marlins are hoping for and a few years from. The Marlins list shutout is magnified by the facet four ex-Marlins make it: Yanks OF Giancarlo Stanton (13th), Brewers OF Christian Yelich (41st), Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna (42nd) and Indians RP Andrew Miller (44th).

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': YELICH BACK: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Early days, but all are struggling to varying degrees except Yelich, who is finally back off the disabled list. The latest, entering Thursday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       1.023   7   28    6  11    5    2-0-1      .393

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees     .702  16  66    9  13   10   3-1-3      .197

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .673   16  70    6  19   11   2-0-2      .271

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .316   16  61    3   8    1    0-0-0      .131

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 18, 2018

What's the deal with Hassan Whiteside? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dwyane Wade saves the day, Marlins ranked 29th of 30 teams in 'legendary,' 4-Man Outfield update (Stanton sub-.200) & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the podcast of yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 2) R.I.P. former First Lady Barbara Bush, gone at 92. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Sixers Game 2, Hot Button Top 10, 4-Man Outfield update & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HassanWHAT'S THE DEAL WITH HASSAN WHITESIDE?: I explored this question in a recent column; see link just below. It is troubling the Heat are paying $24 million a year to someone who has become an easy-to-bench, situational player. I wonder about his future with the team; i.e., whether he has one. Now it's your say. This poll offers four choice. Pick the one that comes closest to representing how you feel about Miami's 7-foot center. Vote now!

DwyaneWADE TO THE RESCUE! VINTAGE SHOW SAVES HEAT: Dwyane Wade erased a good 10 years off the calendar Monday night to rescue the Miami Heat's playoff hopes with a vintage performance: 28 points in 26 minutes on 11-for-17 shooting. It was the most points off the bench in Heat postseason history. Hassan Whiteside had another quiet night -- four points in 15 minutes on only two shot attempts -- but Wade's heroics made up for a lot of too little elsewhere. Miami will need more from Whiteside when Joel Embiid returns for the 76ers, which could be in Game 3 Thursday night at the bayside arena. The series is 1-1 with Monday's 113-103 win, offsetting an embarrassing 130-103 loss in the best-of-seven opener. Our three Heat playoff-run columns thus far:

(*) His Heat future is wavering, and two quiet games haven't helped: Whiteside Must Rise Up Now.

(*) With Wade the hub of it, Heat keep giving us reasons to care: In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust.

(*) And my series prediction, which Wade pulled from the gutter: The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

Jconine"WE'RE NO. 29!" MARLINS' 'MOST LEGENDARY' LINEUP RANKED 29TH OF 30: The Topps trading card company is unveiling the "all-time legendary trading card line-up" for all 30 MLB teams in a season-long gimmick, and Miami's checks in 29th, ahead of only Tampa Bay. Marlins in the lineup range chronologically from LF Jeff Conine in 1993 (pictured) to RF Giancarlo Stanton in 2010. In between are RP Robb Nen '94, 2BLuis Castillo '96, C Charles Johnson '98, 1B Derrek Lee '99, 3B Miguel Cabrera '00, UTIL Mike Lowell '00, SP Dontrelle Willis '02, CF Juan Pierre '03 and SS Hanley Ramirez '06. Should Topps ever produce a series of least-legendary lineups, the Marlins outfit you're watching this season might be No. 1.

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Early days, but Brinson is really struggling, while Yelich has been sidelined by an oblique (abdominal) issue but is due back this week. The latest, entering Wednesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers        .984   6   26    6  10    5    2-0-1      .385

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees     .702  16  66    9  13   10   3-1-3      .197

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .673   16  70    6  19   11   2-0-2      .271

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .316   16  61    3   8    1    0-0-0      .131

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 16, 2018

G2: Heat @ 76ers: Tonight or forget it. Will Miami show up?; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated). See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; also, 4-Man Outfield update (Brinson at .131) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 16. Jackie Robinson dissolved baseball's color barrier 71 years ago yesterday. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Sixers Game 1 and playoff preview, your confidence-level verdict, The List, 4-Man Outfield update & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

G2: HEAT @ SIXERS: MUST-WIN FOR MIAMI? NOT LITERALLY, BUT YES REALISTICALLY: Still no Joel Embiid for Philly, yet Heat are a 7-point underdog tonight in Game 2 of their NBA first- Miaphiround playoff series after being shellacked 130-103 in Game 1 Saturday. This is the 34th seven-game series in Miami franchise history, and the weight of Game 1 is clear. The 18 times Miami has G2won the opener, it is 15-3 on advancing. The 15 times it has lost the opener, it is 7-8 on advancing. But four of those advances from 0-1 were in the Big 3 era; today's is obviously not an especially strong Heat team, just a resourceful one with a deep bench. The onus tonight is on Erik Spoelstra to make adjustments that give his Heat a chance. That starts with better perimeter defense against the Sixers' 3's. It also depends on much better efforts and results from everybody but the one guy who played well Saturday, Kelly Olynyk. Time for Miami's "Culture" to show up in the battle with Philly's "Process." The fundamentals that Spoelstra relies on -- defense and effort -- need to arise in full tonight or Miami will limp home in an 0-2 crater.   

My Heat playoff columns: The Dolphins thought they'd retake Miami when LeBron left, but the Heat, back in the playoffs, have other ideas. Click In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust. Also, I foolishly daringly picked Miami to win in six games. For that column: The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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/NBA: Heat get clobbered in Game 1 as playoffs underway: Ouch. Oy. Miami got spanked 130-103 by the 76ers in Philly last night, with Game 2 back up there tonight/Monday. Kelly Olynyk showed up big off the bench for Miami; everybody else pretty much disappeared. It's early, but our series pick (Heat in six games) has been rushed to the emergency room. First the Eagles win the Super Bowl, then Villanova wins the NCAA Tournament, now this. Don't get greedy, Philly!

2. DOLPHINS: Amendola sounds off as draft nears: We're 10 days until the draft's first round, so before we get fully immersed in that, new Fins receiver Danny Amendola tells ESPN that his former Pats boss, Bill Belichick, is both a brilliant coach and a person who could be "an a-hole sometimes." Um, Danny, doesn't that sorta go without saying on both counts?

3. MARLINS: B.V.I. Fish ready to visit Yanks, Stanton: After closing out a home set with the Pirates on Sunday (another loss, of course), the British Virgin Islands Marlins travel to New York for Monday and Tuesday games vs. the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton. Marlins dismantler-in-chief Derek Jeter said it would be "awkward" for him to be in Yankee Stadium so he won't make the trip. What, like it isn't awkward for him to be at Marlins Park, too?

4. HURRICANES: Spring Game fails to settle QB battle: The quarterback race remains open although with Malik Rosier out front and the defensive line dominated the offensive line, if you want a capsule synopsis of Saturday's football Spring Game at Hard Rock Stadium. Other big college programs sell out their Spring Games, while UM 's drew only around 12,000 fans. If that. You know why? Because Miamians are smarter than everybody else. Bulletin: A Spring Game doesn't count. It's a glorified practice. See ya in September.

5. NHL: Panthers extinct (again) as playoffs underway: Florida finished ninth in the scrum for eight Eastern playoffs spots, but the fight for Lord Stanley's cup is on, anyway. Nashville, Tampa Bay and old-guard Boston are the betting favorites going in, but wouldn't it be fun if the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights won it all!? Already picturing a float full of waving Elvis impersonators in the victory parade.

6. SOCCER: Neat contrast in Champions League semifinals: The UEFA Champions League is down to four teams as the first leg of the semifinals looms April 24-25. In the upstart division: Liverpool vs. Roma. And in the heavyweight division: Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid. The only real Cinderella? Associazione Sportiva RomaI Giallorossi = La Lupa = La Magica. Roma!

7. GOLF: Tiger commits to U.S. Open: He was encouraged by a credible showing in this month's Masters with a 1-over tie for 32nd, including a finishing 69. Now Tiger Woods says he'll play in the 118th U.S. Open June 14-17 in New York. Tiger has won three U.S. Opens and the one way back in 2008 was his last major title. Time for another, Eldrick?

8. UM BASEBALL: Will Clemson series be needed spark?: The Canes are limping with a 15-20 record but were encouraged to take two of three on the road at No. 8-ranked Clemson over the weekend. UM will take a spark anywhere it can find one as it tries to salvage Jim Morris' swansong season.

9. NFL: Cowboys release star receiver Dez Bryant: Dallas rather abruptly cut Dez this week. Yes, and other than his age, injuries, diminishing production, huge salary and itinerant attitude issues, it was a real shock!

10. MLB: Two-way sensation Ohtani continues to wow: The Angels' Japanese star Shohei Ohtani enters Sunday play hitting .367 with three homers and a 1.191 OPS, and is 2-0 pitching with a 2.08 ERA and 18-2 on strikeouts/walks ratio. Mike Trout? Who?

Missing the HB10 cut: Quick. Somebody check on Conor McGregor. Getting worried. Been several days since he's done anything stupid ..... Dancing With The Stars announced an all-athletes lineup for its 26th season, including Adam Rippon, Josh Norman, Johnny Damon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The must-watch factor? A chance to hopefully see Tonya Harding fall on her a-- in humiliated defeat ..... PGA Tour golfer Kelly Kraft missed the cut because his tee shot hit a bird. He'd have still made the cut had more of his other shots hit birdies ..... WNBA draft was held. Details when available ..... Free-agent QB Mark Sanchez was suspended four games for performance-enhancing drugs. Dear Mark: They ain't workin'!

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON DOWN TO .131: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Early days, but Brinson is really struggling, while Yelich remains sidelined by an oblique (abdominal) issue. The latest, entering Monday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers        .984   6   26    6  10    5    2-0-1      .385

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees     .761  14  59    8  13   10   3-1-3      .220

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .703   15  66    6  19   10   2-0-2      .288

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .316   15  61    3   8    1    0-0-0      .131

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 14, 2018

G1: Heat @ Sixers: Philly routs Miami. Oy!; plus The List (Heat playoff history), 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, APRIL 14. I trust you paraskevidekatriaphobes had a nice, paranoia-laced Friday the 13th? 2) Surprise and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat huge playoff underdogs with chart, Canes in NBA draft, 4-Man Outfield, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Update: Defenseless Heat routed by 76ers Saturday night, 130-103, in playoff Game 1. Most points ever allowed by Miami in a playoff game.  

Heatsixers Wade G1: HEAT @ SIXERS: WHY MIAMI CAN SHOCK THE WORLD STARTING TONIGHT: Heat is roughly a 5-point underdog tonight in Game 1 of the NBA first round despite Philadelphia being without star center Joel Embiid at least for this game due to a recently G1fractured orbital bone near his eye. Pictured: Dwyane Wade shooting over Ben Simmons. This would be the game for Miami to pinch if it is to defy odds, win the seven-game series and advance. Few believe that will happen, which I feel is an overestimation of the Sixers based on the 16-game winning streak they carry into the postseason. I believe in the Heat (see column linked below), but I'm in the vast minority. I believe Miami's distinct edge in coaching and playoff experience will be the difference. The teams were 2-2 in the regular season, Miami winning the last two, and the Embiid factor also is big.

My Heat playoff columns: The Dolphins thought they'd retake Miami when LeBron left, but the Heat, back in the playoffs, have other ideas. Click In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust. Also, Miami will win in six games and here's why. Click The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

ESPN's expert-panel's judgement: Twenty-one NBA chroniclers predicted each series, and in Philly-Miami it went 19-2 for Sixers, with only Amin Elhassan and Jorge Sedano dissenting. Thanks for the company, fellas. Group hug? The other series faves were Houston, Portland, Toronto and Cleveland all by 21-0; Golden State 20-1; Boston 17-4; and Oklahoma City 13-8.    

Your Heat-Sixers poll verdicts: We asked how confident you are the Miami Heat can beat Philadelphia in the first round, and as of this morning it was 38.46 percent "fairly," 36.54% "very," 13.46% "barely" and 11.54% "nope." But that's a limited blog poll with a likely higher share of readers who are Heat fans. I took the same poll on my Twitter feed, which has a much more national following, and the results were far different. There, with more than 1,400 votes, it was 40% nope, 28% barely, 22% fairly and 10% very. Twitter poll has now closed, but you may still vote in the blog poll here:

THE LIST: HEAT PLAYOFF OPPONENTS: If Philadelphia seems like an uncommon playoff opponent for the Heat, it is. Here are Miami's all-time Eastern Conference (non-Finals) playoff foes, in order of frequency of postseason meetings. This is Miami's 37th Eastern postseason series, with the Heat advancing 22 times vs. 14 eliminations:

Times  Opponent (Results)

7         Chicago Bulls (L-1992/L-96/L-97/W-06/L-07/W-11/W-13)

5         New York Knicks (W-1997/L-98/L-99/L-00/W-12)

4         Indiana Pacers (L-2004/W-12/W-13/W-14)

3         Boston Celtics (L-2010/W-11/W-12)

3         Brooklyn/N.J. Nets (W-2005/W-06/W-14)

3         Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats (L-2001/W-14/W-16)

3        Detroit Pistons (W-2000/L-05/W-06)

2        Atlanta Hawks (L-1994/L-09)

2        Philadelphia 76ers (W-2011/??-18)

Note: 1 each versus Milwaukee Bucks (W-2013), New Orleans Hornets (W-04), Orlando Magic (W-97), Toronto Raptors (L-16) and Washington Wizards (W-05). 

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON GETS A HIT!: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Early days, but Brinson is struggling, while Yelich remains sidelined by an oblique (abdominal) issue. The latest, entering Saturday's play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers        .984   6   26    6  10    5    2-0-1      .385

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees     .761  14  59    8  13   10   3-1-3      .220

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .730   14  63    6  19    9    2-0-2      .302

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .361   13  53    3   8    1    0-0-0      .151

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks to APSE. Here are our nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote