July 04, 2016

Durant to Golden State! The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Heat/Durant decision, Fish, soccer, tennis, Summitt, Cats, Olympics, Fins; plus Supercon, your verdict on Wade & more

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

Aliprince Fourthjuly1) It is MONDAY, JULY 4. Happy Fourth of July! To all my fellow USA'ers, a safe and happy holiday and a happy 240th birthday, America! 2) At the midpoint of 2016, a reminder (pictured right) what a tough year's it's been for prominent deaths. The latest: R.I.P. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, whom President Obama once called "the conscience of the world," gone at 87. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hassan Whiteside sticking with Heat, might-D.Wade-actually-leave poll, Dan Jennings revisited, Dolphins playoff odds, Mark Richt ranked, Greg Cote the thespian & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Riley Gives Heat a Fighting Chance, the latest, on Miami's longshot odds entering Sunday's meeting with Kevin Durant. Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat, on Wade's tenuous status as Miami nears NBA free agency. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."  --Elie Wiesel

"The Rio Olympics begin in one month. And, really, other than the threat of Zika virus and crime, the unfinished facilities, bacteria-riddled water, athlete withdrawals, doping suspensions and body parts washing ashore, everything is looking good!"  --Greg Cote

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: Durant chooses Golden State; Heat keeps Whiteside, awaits Wade: What a flurry! In the first few days of free agency the Heat spent more than it wanted ($98 million over four years) to keep Hassan Whiteside, and saw Luol Deng and Joe Johnson (and now looks like Tyler Johnson, too) sign elsewhere. The biggest questions remaining: Dwyane Wade, who wants his money, and of course the whale Kevin Durant, whom the Heat met Sunday in  New York. Durant's decision came late this morning and he chose the Golden State Warriors. Click on Riley Gives Heat a Fighting Chance for my column that previewed yesterday's meeting and Miami's longshot odds. Pat Riley tried to shock the world. He didn't. Now Golden State is positioned as a super-team. But Durant's two-year deal gives him an out option after next season. Meaning, next summer, we'll all be doing this all over again.

2. MARLINS: Fish acquire reliever, face Braves at Fort Bragg: As all-star break nears, Ichiro bears down on 3,000 hits and the Marlins still struggle to beat the damned Braves, the playoff-chasing Fish are buyers, thankfully, trading for quality bullpen help in veteran Fernando Rodney. That should feel good to fans. So should this: As a pre-July Fourth nod to patriotism, Braves-Marlins played Sunday night (Miami winning, 5-2) at Fort Bragg, N.C., the world's largest military base.

3. SOCCER: Host France wraps up Euro quarterfinal round: Host France throttled upstart Iceland on Sunday 5-2 to conclude the Euro '16 quarterfinal round, with semifinals coming on Wednesday (Portugal vs. Wales) and Thursday (France vs. Germany) in the sport's biggest tournament outside of the World Cup. Think of it as a welcome respite from NBA free agency.

4. TENNIS: Djokovic out, Serena still alive at Wimbledon midpoint: No. 1 Novak Djokovic was denied a shot at third straight Wimbledon title in Saturday loss, but top-ranked Serena Williams won again Sunday and still angles for her seventh Wimbledon crown. The king is dead. Who can dethrone the queen of her sport's grandest court?

5. PAT SUMMITT: Women's basketball legend passes away: The retired Tennessee legend and winningest basketball coach in NCAA history passed away at 64 after battling Alzheimer's. A summit is the highest point of a mountain. Pat Summitt reached it.

6. PANTHERS: Cats lock up Ekblad, Trochek long-term: As NHL free agency began the aggressive Panthers locked up rising-star defenseman Aaron Ekblad, 20, with a reported eight-year, $60 million deal, and also signed forward Vincent Trochek to a six-year deal. Wheeling, dealing, spending -- these Cats are serious, folks.

7. OLYMPICS: Phelps in, Bolt injured, Richards-Ross retires: Apparently 18 gold medals are not enough as American swimming legend Michael Phelps, who turned 31 Thursday, qualified for his fifth Olympics, a record for a male swimmer. In track, Jamaica's sprint champion Usain Bolt suffered a hamstring injury that puts his participation in the Rio Olympics in doubt. Closer to home, ex-Miami Hurricane Sanya Richards-Ross retired at 31 as a three-time Olympian who won four golds. Well done.  

8. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule, raised money: Club announced players would report for training camp July 28 and stage their first public practice the next day. Meantime the Dolphin Cycling Challenge raised $5.06 million for cancer research. If only the Dolphins, with 9-4 odds against making the playoffs, played as well as they fund-raised.

9. STRIKERS: Fort Lauderdale NASL club advances in U.S. Open Cup: Fort Lauderdale Strikers hosted Miami FC to open the NASL fall season Saturday night, and tied 1-1. More important, Strikers beat MLS team Orlando City, up there, to advance to the quarterfinals of the annual all-comers U.S. Open Cup soccer tournament. Go, lads, go!

10. CYCLING: Tour de France is underway: The sport that crowned and then shamed Lance Armstrong began its 103rd edition on Saturday and continues through July 24. Anybody got an over/under on number of cyclists who'll test positive for doping during the competition?

Missing the HB10 cut: NBA summer league play runs this week in Orlando and next week in Las Vegas. Heat won its debut Saturday and will see cameos by Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson but mostly 17 guys you've never heard of. NBA summer league is like the WNBA, only less exciting ..... Johnny Manziel was suspended four games for substance abuse. Or, did that go without saying? ..... NASCAR's Tony Stewart won last week to end an 84-race winless drought. Finally, his final season before retirement takes on a little feel-good ..... Colts sign Andrew Luck to richest deal in NFL history, worth up to $140 million through 2021. Imagine if he weren't coming off his worst season!? ..... Superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic signs with superteam Manchester United. In international soccer, that's about as big as it gets ..... That reminds me. Argentina's Lionel Messi announced he was done with international competition and zero people worldwide believed him ..... Funny to see Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) on the cover of Sports Illustrated's annual "Where Are They Now?" issue. Funny because I sort of think most of us have a pretty good idea what she's been up to the last few years ..... Shaquille O'Neal spent four days in Cuba this week as a U.S. State Department "sports envoy." There is a phrase for that: "Waste of tax dollars." ..... Coastal Carolina won the College World Series. No, seriously ..... Gulfstream's annual Summit of Speed ran Saturday, surprising analysts who thought that place was just a casino nowadays ..... Hockey Hall of Fame finally inducted Eric Lindros, out of the NHL since 2007, after passing him over six times. Must have had a hell of a retirement year! ..... The Cubs had lost nine of 13 entering Sunday and now barely have the best record in MLB. "It begins," agreed distraught Cubs fans ..... Tiger Woods to miss British Open. At this point, let's just assume he isn't playing until we hear otherwise, OK? ..... R.I.P., Buddy Ryan, 85, a great defensive football coach, although let's not retrofit it and saint-him-up. Like son Rex, he could be a boor and wasn't roundly liked ..... Six days 'til UFC 200. Hopefully you're more excited than I am ..... The Reds retired Pete Rose's jersey number. Well, at least Cincinnati still loves him.

SuperconFLORIDA 'SUPERCON' ROLLICKING IN MIAMI: The four-day holiday weekend event wraps up Monday in Miami Beach. I'm not personally into but am interested in this somewhat bizarre side street of pop subculture that seems to enthrall so many (mostly) young adults. It's an amalgamation of fans of anime, comic books, animation, video games, fantasy and sci-fi. It's an escapism that encourages dress-up. It's a NerdFest! But I mean that in a good way. Seriously. The scarier the real world turns, the more needed outlets like this somehow become.

Poll result: Few believe Wade will actually leave Heat: We asked where you think Dwyane Wade will be to start next season (you may still vote) and it was 42.2 percent saying back with the Heat "no doubt", 39.6% back with the Heat "some doubts," 14.1% with another team and 4.1% undecided. Comment: Surprised "some doubts" didn't win and that "with another team" wasn't a higher number.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 29, 2016

What's likelihood Heat will land Durant? Poll. Vote now!; plus Spoelstra getting contract extension, latest Back In My Day, Caitlyn Jenner, Euro '16 quarterfinals, Summitt/Ryan deaths, your verdict on Miami's next sports champ & more

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

Caitlynjenner1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29. Pictured is Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) on the cover of the new Sports Illustrated magazine's annual "Where Are They Now?' issue. The funny thing there? Like there's anybody in America who doesn't know what this particular person has been up to lately!? 2) Does anybody really believe Lionel Messi has played his last game for Argentina? Yeah, me neither. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's next champion among Miami's Big 5 teams with poll, Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on naked athletes & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, the latest, and that tagline says it all. Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's hits achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Spoelstra getting extension from Heat: Miami and Erik Spoelstra are "progressing on completion of a multiyear contract extension," The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported. Spo's current deal is to expire after the 2016-17 season. His 399-241 record since taking over in 2008 ranks seventh in wins among active NBA coaches, but second only to San Antonio's Gregg Popovich for most victories with one team.

The new Back In My Day: Our latest "Back In My Day" segment from the LeBatard Show is on yesterday's ESPN Radio podcast right here. The BIMD starts right around the 1-hour mark. I wasn't too sure about this one, but the show crew and listeners seemed to love it. 

"Things I think about: Mustn't there be dozens of people in the world -- and likely a lot more -- named Zika?"  --Greg Cote

Durant1 DurantHOW LIKELY THAT THE HEAT LAND THE WHALE KEVIN DURANT?: NBA free agency starts Friday (midnight Thursday) and Miami is one of six teams announced so far as securing an audience with No. 1 prize Kevin Durant. This is what Pat Riley does. Short of celebrating a Heat championship, getting in the room with a free-agent whale is the professional turn-on for the Heat's president and deal-closer. Nobody does this better than Riley. However! The betting odds are that Durant will ultimately choose to stay with Oklahoma City. And if he doesn't, the consensus of experts is that Golden State would be the likely destination. Plainly, Miami seems a real underdog in the Durant Sweepstakes, and yet that little voice keeps whispering the name of Riley and picturing him flashing all of those rings at Durant. I'm curious about the realistic feelings and expectations of Heat fans as free agency nears. The poll isn't asking what you hope happens, obviously, but what you honestly see as the Miami's chances of landing Durant. Vote and check back frequently for evolving results.

Euro16ON THE EURO '16 QUARTERFINALS: First, the BREXIT vote. Now England shockingly falls to Iceland -- Iceland! -- in the Euro '16 round of 16, one of the greatest upsets in international soccer history. Now, onto the quarterfinals in the biggest soccer tournament outside of the World Cup: Poland vs. Portugal, Thursday--Portugal, at 7-1 odds to win it all (via oddschecker.com) and No. 8 in the FIFA World Ranking, a clear favorite over 20-1/No. 27 Poland. Wales vs. Belgium, Friday--Belgium, at 4-1 odds and No. 2 in the world, an even larger fave over 20-1/No. 26 Wales. Germany vs. Italy, Saturday--Germany, co-favorite at 3-1 and ranked No. 4, a narrow favorite over 13-2/No. 12 Italy in a duel of international powers -- probably the one quarterfinal I'd choose to watch if I could watch but one. France-Iceland, Sunday--France, co-fave at 3-1, ranked No. 17 and the host national team, an enormous pick over 40-1/No. 34 Cinderella Iceland.

ON THE DEATHS PAT SUMMITT, BUDDY RYAN: The legendary Tennessee women's basketball coach and former NFL coach have passed away within hours of each other, Summitt at 64 from Patsummittcomplications of Alzeimer's disease, and Ryan at 85 after battling a stroke and cancer. A few thoughts... On Summitt: Won more college basketball games, 1,098, than anybody, man or women, and led the Lady Vols to eight national championships in 38 seasons. Summitt (pictured) was a pioneer in women's sports, and an any-gender, all-sports legend in coaching. I wonder if she was ever aware that her son, Tyler, was forced to resign as Louisiana Tech women's basketball coach earlier this year over an inappropriate relationship with a player. I hope not. Her good name stands unblemished, for all time. On Ryan: The father of Bills head coach Rex Ryan, Buddy reached his coaching pinnacle as defensive coordinator for the 1985 champion Bears, but the head-coaching career that followed was less successful. He was 55-55-1, and 0-3 in the postseason. Like his son, Buddy was controversial and not entirely popular. I can tell you, for example, that Don Shula did not like him. Anyway, R.I.P., twice. A rough year for deaths, 2016, and we're only halfway through.

Poll result: Canes football, Panthers hockey lead in South Florida optimism: We asked which of South Florida's Big 5 sports teams is most like to win a championship next, and it was Hurricanes football 29.92 percent, Panthers 28.28%, Heat 19.67%, Dolphins 12.70% and Marlins 9.43%. Observations: Panthers led most of the way and had what for me is the most impressive result overall. Marlins have to be the most disappointing considering they are, as we speak, on playoff pace. We had the same poll in July 2014. Here is the change in two years, in order of plus/minus:

Team                              +/-       2016     2014

Panthers                    +25.28    28.28     3.00

Dolphins                     +4.52     12.70      8.18

Marlins                        -2.16       9.43    11.59

Canes football            -9.83     29.92    39.75

Heat                            -17.80     19.67     37.47

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 27, 2016

Who's closest? Will Dolphins, Heat, Hurricanes football, Marlins or Panthers be champions next? Poll too close to call. Last day to vote!: plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your verdict on naked athletes & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 27. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Athletes getting naked poll, Cavs/Cubs/Dolfans, Dolphins helping Orlando, aggressive Panthers, Heat's Top 5 undrafted finds, Canes diving, your verdict on LeBron's future, R.I.P. Vinyl & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Monday: I co-hosted on the LeBatard Show today this week instead of Tuesday. Thanks for listening/watching!

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so great they deserved another look: Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, the new one, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. Cavs, Cubs Offer Hope For Dolfans, musing on how Cleveland's championship and season Cubs are having proves even long-starving fans get fed eventually. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's hits achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

THE MIAMI BIG 5 TEAM MOST LIKELY TO NEXT BE CHAMPION IS...: This poll topic last appeared in our blog in July 2014. Two years later, it's time to take another pulse-read. During the Heat's Nextchamp Big5Big 3 era the answer was pretty obvious. Now? It's open to honest debate. The Heat remain competitive, but now the Marlins are legitimately in the playoff hunt, the Dolphins and Canes football are hopeful with well-received coaching changes, and you could argue the Panthers' core of rising young talent makes the Cats closest to a title of all our teams. The playing field for this question has leveled. (For the purposes of the vote, let's not assume the Heat will somehow land Kevin Durant in free agency, a longshot). The timing for this poll also is right, with baseball going on, basketball and hockey just ended, and football about to gear up. I'm not sure if there is an easy or obvious answer here, or a bad one. That is what makes picking one team tough, but that is your challenge. Your other challenge: To not make it a favorite-team or favorite-sport vote. It isn't. Not asking who you most hope has a parade next, but who you honestly think is most likely to. In other words, who your money would be on in a straight-up wager. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JUNE 26): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Durant, Whiteside in spotlight with free agency on deck for Miami: Well, Dwyane Wade posed nude in ESPN mag's Body issue. Anything else going on with the Heat? Oh, yeah. Almost forgot. Free agency starts in five days, and Heat's priorities are getting a meeting with Kevin Durant and and re-signing Hassan Whiteside. Click on Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has for my column, on how club should make Whiteside the imperative as it chases the longshot dream of Durant.

2. MARLINS: Exciting times for Fish as Cubs visit wraps up: Marlins won three of four from the Cubs, are in playoff hunt, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich should join Jose Fernandez as all-stars, Giancarlo Stanton is heating up and Ichiro nears 3,000 hits. Pretty damned good time to be a Fish fan, folks.

3. SOCCER: Copa America wraps up, Euro '16 heads to quarters: Chile upset Argentina on Sunday for Copa crown (U.S. lost third-place game Saturday), and now Euro '16 begins its quarterfinals on Thursday. England plays the last round-of-16 game Monday and should win, unless Brits vote to exit tournament. 

4. PANTHERS: Cats sign Yandle, add draft picks: Wheelin'-dealin' Florida signed all-star defenseman Keith Yandle to a seven-year, $44 million deal, traded Dmitri Kuliokov, and had the 23rd and 33rd picks early in NHL Draft, according to analyst Pierre Kiper Jr. I bet big they'd draft two white teenagers you'd never heard of. How'd I do?

5. NBA: Free agency extends busy time for league: Cleveland has a championship parade, Derrick Rose and Serge Ibaka get traded, the draft is held, and now free agency is on deck with Kevin Durant the big prize. Otherwise, a slow week for the NBA.

6. HURRICANES: UM football investigating four for NCAA infractions: Miami suspended linebacker Juwon Young and is investigating three others for possible NCAA rules violations in a deal struck with a local auto dealer to use luxury cars. On the bright side, Nevin Shapiro has the ultimate alibi (jail) and was in no way involved.

7. COLLEGE BASEBALL: Out in Omaha: UM fizzles at CWS: No. 3 seed Miami and No. 1 Florida both ingloriously were ousted fast from the College World Series. Good seasons, bad endings. The best of three final is pedigreed Arizona vs. upstart Coastal Carolina. Oh, Canes. What a missed chance!

8. TENNIS: Wimbledon begins on Monday: Wimbledon runs Monday though July 10. The favorites are Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. Or, did that go without saying?

9. JOHNNY MANZIEL: Lawyer's goof latest problem for troubled QB: Manziel's lawyer accidentally texted private information about his drug use and case strategy to the Associated Press. Who's worse, Johnny or his lawyer? At least the attorney didn't text the world's largest news-gathering agency or anything (!).

10. STRIKERS: Fort Lauderdale alive in U.S. Cup Open: Soccer's all-comers U.S. Open Cup finds the Strikers facing MLS team Orlando City up there this Wednesday. Go Bumblebees!

Missing the cut: USA basketball completed its LeBron-less Olympics roster for Rio, pending the future withdrawal of several players with Zika concerns or fake injuries ..... Congrats again to Mr. Paula Gretzky for winning last week's U.S. Open in golf ..... Anybody know when ESPN's O.J.Simpson documentary starts? Haven't heard anything about it ..... The Dolphins will be out of the news for a month or so, pending the arrest of a player at 3 a.m. outside a nightclub ..... Dear United Kingdom: You all seemed like pretty smart people, until that BREXIT vote. What were you thinking!? ..... Coral Springs' LPGA star, Lexi Thompson, 21, is No. 4 in the world and just made the Olympic team. When I was 21 my biggest accomplishment was buying the new Led Zeppelin album ..... Cycling's Tour de France begins next Saturday. Gentlemen, start your doping! ..... Ex-Miami Hurricane Sam Dorman made the Olympic team in synchronized diving, surprising analysts who had no idea there was such a sport.

Poll result: Enough, you narcissistic naked athletes!: We asked what best reflects your opinion of athletes (now including Dwyane Wade) posing nude for ESPN The Magazine's annual 'Body' issue, and a plurality of 44.7 percent voted "negative. However 30.8% voted "positive," 13.3% were undecided and 11.2% voted "depends who the athlete is."

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 24, 2016

Dolphins come to aid of Orlando victims; plus athletes posing nude: OK or narcissistic? Poll. Vote!; also, Cleveland, Cubs, Dolfans 'n hope; active Panthers, Top 5 undrafted Heat finds, your verdict on LeBron's future, R.I.P. Vinyl & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JUNE 23. I always respected the British people as intelligent, but am rethinking that appraisal after UK's vote to leave European Union. 2) I'm thrilled to say Kennedy Center Honors announced today that Mavis Staples, one of my beyond-music heroes, will be among 2016 inductees. KCH described "unmatched gospel and rhythm and blues masterpieces span(ning) 60 years." So deserved! 3) I read that earlier this week it was "National Selfie Day." Isn't every day? I didn't think our ode to narcissism ever took a break! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. soccer falls to Argentina, Dwyane Wade nude, LeBron's future with odds and poll, Canes out fast in Omaha, USGA's choke at Oakmont & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so great they deserved another look: Cavs, Cubs Offer Hope For Dolfans, the latest, musing on how Cleveland's championship and season Cubs are having proves even long-starving fans get fed eventually. Rooting For LeBron to Make History, on our treasonous hopes entering Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Dolphins, NFL coming to aid of Orlando victims: The NFL Foundation and the league's three Florida teams including the Dolphins are donating $400,000 to the OneOrlando Fund to aid families and survivors of the recent Orlando nightclub tragedy in which 49 people were murdered. Said Dolphins owner Stephen Ross: "It's hard to find words to describe the emotions we all felt when news of this senseless tragedy broke." Visit OneOrlando.org for more info or to add your donation.

IT'S ABOUT FANS, AND HOPE: WHAT TIES TOGETHER CLEVELAND, THE CUBS AND DOLFANS: I tried something different with my latest column today. Not sure if it worked (click on Cavs, DolfansCubs Offer Hope For Dolfans) to read, but envelopes are made for pushing, right? It is a musing column that sees a common denominator among the city of Cleveland ending its 52-year championship drought, the Cubs (in town to face the Marlins) being favored to end that team's 108-year World Series title drought, and the Dolphins moving in on their 43rd season since last winning a Super Bowl. The column's theme is that sports is about the cities and the fans, first and always. Players, coaches and team owners come and go. Even stadiums, arenas and uniforms might change. It's the fans that are the lifeblood, generation after generation, decade after decade. So Wednesday's championship parade was about the city of Cleveland even as the national media made it about LeBron James. The Cubs finally winning again would not be about Jake Arrieta or Joe Maddon, but about that franchise's long-suffering fans. And if the Dolphins ever win a Super Bowl again? It won't be about Stephen Ross or Ryan Tannehill (or whomever is in place then). It'll be about Dolfans, generations of them, ever hopeful and waiting. My column in no way suggests the Dolphins may be poised to do what Cleveland just did or what the Cubs might. That seems such a longshot ... again. No, the column is about fans, and about faith. In sports' Year of the End of the Drought, we are reminded that sports feeds its most starving, eventually. We are reminded that hope is eternal, and that there's always next year.

WadenudeSELF-LOVING ATHLETES KEEP GETTING NAKED: Athletes love their bodies, and I get it. Most work very hard on their physiques. Their bodies and what those bodies can do is what makes them famous and rich. ESPN The Magazine tapped into that self-adulation several years ago in inaugurating its annual Body issue, in which a variety of athletes are photographed posing artfully nude. That means nothing pornographic or even NSFW, unless maybe you work in a church or elementary school. Still, they're naked! The next Body issue is forthcoming and athletes posing au natural include the Heat's Dwyane Wade (pictured). Giancarlo Stanton and Serena Williams have been other South Florida stars taking it all of for ... well, for what, exactly, other than ego? I'm no prude, and I see nothing at all wrong with athletes posing nude if they choose, but I'd also suggest the undeniable: It's blatant narcissism. Curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll and say which of the four options best reflects your opinion of the annual Body issue and athletes who participate.

YandleAGGRESSIVE PANTHERS KEEP MAKING NOISE: The Florida Panthers have been busy since their disappointing early playoff exit, and I don't mean the fluffery of a new uniform and logo. Yesterday, the same day Jaromir Jagr won the NHL's Masterton trophy best exemplifying "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication," the Cats made a big, costly and smart move in signing a quality defenseman in the prime of his career. Keith Yandle (pictured), 29, a two-time all-star, is aboard with a seven-year, $44 million deal. He was a pending free agent but Florida spent two lower draft picks (to the Rangers) for first rights to sign him. That's aggressive. It's also a smart move in that Cats were expecting to lose veteran defender Brian Campbell, and adding Yandle more than compensates. Yandle also will boost what last season was a mediocre power-play unit. The spending and willingness to part with draft picks indicates a club that thinks it is close and wants to win now. [Update: Panthers today acquired backup goaltender Reto Berra, 29, from Colorado, in exchange for forward Rocco Grimaldi].

HeatTHE LIST: HEAT UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS: The NBA Draft is tonight but the Miami Heat have no picks, so will be scouring the land for bargains, for undrafted free agents. Sometimes you get lucky. Here are the top five undrafted players signed right out of college by the Heat who have been the most successful, based on number of regular-season games played for Miami:

Player                  Games   Signed/College

Udonis Haslem    814       2003/Florida

Keith Askins        486       1990/Alabama

Joel Anthony       382       2007/UNLV

Voshon Lenard    249        1995/Minnesota

Anthony Carter   246        1999/Hawaii

Note: Haslem has played second-most games in Heat history, after Dwyane Wade, and remains with team.

AblemanANOTHER FEATHER FOR CANES DIVING: I'm not a huge fan of the sport of diving, and find synchronized diving a laughable appendage that I'd eliminate if I were paring the Olympics. Nevertheless! Congrats to former Miami Hurricane Sam Dorman for qualifying last night for Team USA and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in synchronized 3-meter diving along with Michael Hixon. Even more impressive: Dorman is the 12th Hurricane to make the Olympics under the wing of UM diving coach Randy Ableman (pictured), who just finished his 23rd season in Coral Gables.

Poll results: Relax, Cleveland. LeBron ain't goin' nowhere: We asked where pending free agent LeBron James would be playing next season, and 79.8 percent voted "still in Cleveland." Only 20.2% voted "somewhere else." (The majority percentage grew, but only by two or three points, after LeBron predictably told ESPN yesterday he had "no intentions" of leaving).

VinylFAREWELL, VINYL, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: HBO this week canceled Vinyl after one season, leaving my emotions mixed. I gave the show a big chance, watching most every week, because the subject was so in my wheelhouse. I grew up on '70s rock music so a series about that time, and the music industry, had me from hello. And when Martin Scorcese and Mick Jagger are the producers, you have high hopes. But the show itself let me down. The writing was pedestrian, the storylines not great, and I'm not sure Bobby Cannavale was not up to carrying the series (though I loved him in a lesser role in Boardwalk Empire). The sense, though, is that Vinyl was salvageable with a tweak or three, and may have deserved one more season.  

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 08, 2016

Hear a 21-year-old Cassius Clay sing "Stand By Me" (it isn't bad!); plus where does Ali rank among past century's greatest American athletes? Poll. Vote now; also, in bed with D-Wade, R.I.P. Kimbo, magic of Jose, Games of Thrones & more

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

Kimboslice1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8. R.I.P., fighter Kimbo Slice (pictured), gone suddenly at 42. We spent much of yesterday's LeBatard Show discussing his life. He was a Miami original who started so low and rose from the streets thanks to strength and ingenuity. 2) Bulletin: Roger Goodell is not dead. Somebody hacked the NFL's Twitter site and reported commissioner Roger Goodell had died. I wonder. Does Tom Brady have an alibi? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 led by Muhammad Ali, our Ali and Richard Bleier columns, bipartisan political insult & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 5: My five most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look:Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, the latest, on how Ali set the template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, also new, on Richard Bleier's long climb to the Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure.

DwadegabyInto the bedroom -- and the bed -- with D-Wade and Gaby: Well, this is too much information! Black Sports Online relays that Heat star Dwyane Wade has, on Snapchat, provided fans with a glimpse of himself and wife/actress Gabrielle Union in bed (apparently) just before and after, um, ah, I guess i can say "marital relations" in a family blog. Click here for the item via BSO. At right is an "after" screengrab from the Snapchat. This may be taking the social media concept of "total access" a smidge too far. I'm no prude, but this is wandering too close for my liking to Kim Kardashian-nude-in-a-bathroom-mirror-selfie territory. Remember when celebrities used to bemoan their lack of privacy? Now it seems they're the first to give it away.

"A Democrat running for Congress put a flyer on my door that states proudly, 'Meet Tim Canova. He's not a politician.' Only in politics does this outsider-ism seem to work. If I'm hiring a salesman, I'd sort of like him to have done the job before in much the same way I'd prefer someone about to perform surgery on me to be an actual doctor. And yet it's no-experience-necessary to be in Congress? Bizarre."  --Greg Cote

Clay albumCASSIUS CLAY SINGS 'STAND BY ME' ... AND IT ISN'T BAD!: The video below is 21-year Cassius Clay singing "Stand By Me" in 1963. The video lists him as Muhammad Ali, but '63 was before the first Sonny Liston fight in Miami Beach and a year before before Clay had converted to his Muslim name. "Stand By Me" was the only proper song included on the album (pictured right) that Clay recorded in '63; all of the other "songs" were monologues, poetry and other spoken-word material by Clay. The single heard here was released in 1964 and nearly reached the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at 102 weeks after his stunning upset of Liston. Clay-turned-Ali was a big fan of soul music and friends with tghe legendary Sam Cooke. As for Clay's version of this classic song? He's no Ben E. King, but his rendition actually is pretty solid. Floats like a butterfly, sings like a bee?

 

RANKING ALI AMONG AMERICA'S GREATEST ATHLETES OF THE 20TH CENTURY: The death of Muhammad Ali over the weekend is the impetus for this poll. The 15 athletes presented here are Espncenturynot of my choosing, although I can't disagree with much. These are the top 15 of ESPN's 100 greatest American athletes of the 20th Century list from the network's SportsCentury project. I present them alphabetically, not in order, so as not to prejudice the jury (that's you), although you'd find the complete list here. Limited it to 15 simply so the poll wouldn't get too unwieldy. If you can't believe so-and-so didn't make the top 15 and our poll, blame ESPN, not me. Or cast one of your votes for "somebody else" and say who you were thinking of. But please note this is American athletes only, which is why you don't find soccer god Pele on the list, for example. Also note it is athletes of the past century only, which is why you won't see LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady or anybody else whose career has all or substantively occurred since 2000. As for what constitutes "greatest," that's entirely for you to decide. Select your top three (3) athletes, and from that consensus we'll arrive at the greatest American athlete of the 20th Century. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

JosefTHE WONDER OF JOSE, CONTINUED: Marlins ace Jose Fernandez's statistics in his past eight startst: 8-0 records, 1.38 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 14 walks in 52 innings. The ERA is 0.66 over his past six starts. He still might be third on most NL Cy Young ballots right now behind Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta, but he'll continue to contend for the award if his performance keeps up and if Miami hangs in the playoff chase. Jose is a surreal 23-1 with a 1.53 ERA at home in his career vs. a mortal 8-10 and 3.54 on the road. But he's scheduled for only one start (June 11) on the current nine-game road trip.

Dragonlady GameofthronesON 'GAME OF THRONES': An admission. Five years late, I have joined the lowing herd. I have recently adopted and embraced HBO's Game of Thrones as a guilty viewing pleasure. I am not an aficionado-bordering-cultist who prays to the show or wishes to over-analyze every nuance of every episode in a like-minded online community of zealots. But I enjoy GOT and have elevated it to the my uncrowded pantheon of must-see TV. I like it visually first, for the stunning look of it, before I even get to the expansive, complicated storyline I am still trying to slowly decipher with the not always patient help of my wife, a longer-time fan. Also I must make a confession: One reason I like the show is my embarrassing schoolboy crush on the character Daenerys Targaryen, "Dany," the Mother of Dragons (pictured), portrayed by actress Emilia Clarke. The show's description of her character: "Princess of House Targaryen, Daenerys lives in exile in Essos with her advisors and dragons. Dany rallied the Unsullied of Astapor to her cause and continues to grow the army she needs to take back the throne." Greg Cote's description: "You know, the hot blond with the dragons."

ON 'CRISIS OF CHARACTER': A forthcoming book very critical of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton White House has been written by former Secret Service agent Gary J. Byrne Garyjbyrne(pictured). Coming out a month before the Democratic convention, the book -- timing and content -- fall straight from Republican heaven. If you didn't know better, you might even think the RNC was behind it. I find particularly interesting the book's title: Crisis of Character. Hmm. The title means to suggest the character issue is Hillary's. I wonder if it isn't the author's instead. A tell-all book by a former Secret Service agent!? So much for the secret part of the job title, huh. How unseemly. How unprofessional. How against-code. How against every expectation of discretion for a Secret Service agent to betray confidences in this manner. I'd feel similarly, by the way, if one of Donald Trump's former loyal lieutenant's suddenly came out with a sleazy tell-all timed to sell books. A back-stabbing snitch is a back-stabbing snitch. But I certainly hold Secret Service agents to a higher standard than I do corporate suits. Gary J. Byrne should be embarrassed. Except perhaps to Republicans to whom he is undoubtedly a hero, this man should be ashamed of himself.

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

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June 06, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Muhammad Ali, NBA Finals, Doral, Jose, Copa America, UM baseball, French, Cats logo, Fins; plus new columns on Ali and Richard Bleier, the Everybody Sucks vote & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 6. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Muhammad Ali 1942-2016, your Panthers logo verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

New columns on Muhammad Ali, Richard Bleier: The death of Ali, with so much of his history interwoven with Miami, is seismic. Overshadowed but still a sweet story worth your time: the struggles and rise of Richard Bleier. Links to both of my latest columns are immediately below.

"How did the world first learn that Muhammad Ali had died? America's most trusted news source: Marlins Park Jumbotron." --Greg Cote

The Last 5: My five most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, the latest, on how Ali set the template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, also new, on Richard Bleier's long climb to the Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure.

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. MUHAMMAD ALI: Legendary boxing great passes away at 74: G.O.A.T. Greatest Of All Time. Ali might have been that in the ring. He definitely was that beyond boxing, a groundbreaking societal and cultural icon who probably was the most influential athlete of the 20th Century. R.I.P. to a true American original. Thank you, Champ. You said, "I am the greatest!" And you weren't lying.

2. NBA: Golden State in early command over LeBron, Cleveland: Warriors won NBA Finals Game 1 by 15 points despite Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shooting a combined 8-for-27, then won Game 2 last night 110-77 despite their two stars combining for a modest 35 points. Cleveland says it is still "Believeland," but, down 2-0 entering Wednesday's Game 3, it feels closer to "Grieveland." 

3. GOLF: PGA Tour leaves Doral, Miami after 55 years: A local tradition since 1962 died when Tour said it was leaving Donald Trump’s Doral course for Mexico City. Oh, the rich irony! But, hey, maybe Trump can get his wall built fast enough to keep the event from crossing the border!

4. MARLINS: Red-hot Jose stays en fuego on mound: Fish hit the road for nine games now after wrapping up their homestand Sunday against the Mets. Jose Fernandez, after going 6-0 in May with a 1.38 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 39 innings, matched a career-high 14 strikeouts Sunday in a 1-0 win. At this rate, if Miami stays in playoff chase, Fernandez will have Cy Young's attention.

5. HURRICANES: UM wins, advances to NCAA super-regional here: UM led Long Beach State 8-1 and hung on to win 9-8 last night here to win its NCAA Regional. The Hurricanes will now host Boston College in a super-regional this coming weekend in a best-oo-three series, with the winner advancing to the College World Series. More heavy stakes at The Light.

6. SOCCER: Host U.S. bows badly as Copa America gets underway: The 100th Copa America tournament finds favored Argentina debuting Monday night, led by Lionel Messi if his back issues and tax owes allow him. Meanwhile a very disappointing 2-0 opening loss to Colombia puts the American side in early trouble in the event it is hosting. A poor showing by the U.S. cojuld jeopardize the coaching future of Jurgen Klinsmann, according to a rumor I just started.

7. TENNIS: Serena falls in French Open final, Novak gets career Slam: Little-known Spaniard Garbine Muguruza denied Serena Williams her record-tying 22nd major in the French women's final. But in Sunday's men's final Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray to complete his personal career Grand Slam. Serena couldn't make history. Novak did.

8. PANTHERS: Cats unveil new logo to lukewarm response: Lukewarm is putting it generously. Nearly 70 percent preferred the old leaping-cat logo in our blog poll. The new shield design seems generic, right off the Logos 101 cookie-cutter. Then again, as long as you win, Panthers, nobody will much care.
 
9. NHL: Pittsburgh's Finals lead over San Jose cut to 2-1: Three one-goal games, two decided in overtime. Looks like Lord Stanley has himself a pretty good Finals after all. San Jose tries to tie it at home Monday night. Stanley Cup, do you know the way to San Jose? (Sorry).
 
10. DOLPHINS: Fins resume practices, move exhibition game: Miami stages four more OTA practices Monday through Thursday. Meanwhile team announced its exhibition home opener vs. Atlanta would be played in Orlando. And the preseason home finale could be played at FAU. They insist this has nothing to do with stadium renovation delays, but nobody believes them.

Missing the cut: Davie's Nova Southeastern won the NCAA Division II national championship in baseball. Top that, Hurricanes! ..... Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds admitted in an interview he'd been surly and acted stupid much of his career. Intended result: "Aw, he ain't so bad, after all!" thought Hall of Fame voters ..... Who in God's name is Michael Bisping? ..... We are two months from scheduled start of Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. And other than the Zika virus threat, the bacteria-infested waters and the massive construction delays, everything looks good! ..... Heat announced its three preseasom home games, for those of you who like to plan four months in advance to attend games that don't matter ..... There are 75 names on the latest College Football Hall of Fame ballot and, egregiously, Howard Schnelleneberger still is not one of them ..... UM's Sinead Lohan reached final four of NCAA women's tennis singles before losing ..... ESPN  has a new 30 for 30 documentary on O.J. Simpson. Spoiler alert: He did it, but was acquitted ..... Disgraced and dethroned FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his regime took $80 million in bonuses on their way out. Blatter: The Gift That Keeps On Taking ..... Dwyane Wade was 33rd in ESPN's "World Fame 100" rankings, further proof ESPN will make a list about anything ..... This just in. Knicks boss Phil Jackson has announced he'll be taking credit for all of new coach Jeff Hornacek's wins.

EverybodysucksBIPARTISAN POLITICAL INSULT: I am aware that much of America considers the looming presidential election to be the lesser of two evils. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are untrusted and disliked by many. Tens of millions of votes will be cast mainly to keep the other person out. I personally find one candidate much more evil than the other, but, in the bipartisan spirit of hating both, I present a photo that I found funny and that, to many, is sadly accurate. The best part of the photo, to me? The gentleman's genial smile as he holds the placard declaring America is doomed. Also -- wait a second. Hey! Is that guy shooting a bird at us!?

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

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June 04, 2016

MUHAMMAD ALI, 1942-2016: The metamorphosis happened here. The butterfly who stung like a bee, and changed the world, was born in Miami

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 4. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Florida Panthers new logo poll, Jose Fernandez's monstrous May, me and U.S. soccer, Ali gravely ill, World Fame 100, Marlins in Cy Young voting, your verdict on NBA Finals & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 4: My four most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, the latest, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral.Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, 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.

ALI: THE METAMORPHOSIS HAPPENED HERE. THE BUTTERFLY WHO STUNG LIKE A BEE, AND CHANGED THE WORLD, WAS BORN IN MIAMI: The great and legendary Muhammad Ali passed away late last night at age 74 in a Phoenix hospital, from respiratory complications exacerbated by years of suffering from Parkinson's disease. I'll have a new column on Ali later today. For now, below is my most recent column on him, from February 2014, on the 50th anniversary of his epic victory over Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The original column is unabridged, unedited:

Ali1Ferdie Pacheco, "The Fight Doctor," famously once said, "Cassius Clay was born in Louisville. Muhammad Ali was born in Miami."

You could further say Ali was born on Feb. 25, 1964 — exactly 50 years ago — on a surreal night at the Miami Beach Convention Center. He fought Sonny Liston as Clay, but his metamorphosis into the preening, floating butterfly that stung like a bee had already occurred.

He would announce the next day that his new name was Cassius X as a convert to the Nation of Islam. Within a week he was forever more Muhammad Ali, set to become perhaps the most important American athlete of the 20th century.

His playful braggadocio was like nothing we had seen. His politics and religion made him a lightning rod at a time the country still was divided by segregation. His new heavyweight championship belt, minted in Miami, made him a volatile star.

Pacheco, at 86, still lives in Miami, doctor, writer, painter, sweet scientist, Renaissance man, and the last alive of Ali’s old entourage. Being Ali’s physician and corner man gave Pacheco the most literal of ringside seats to boxing history — maybe no chapter of it more significant than that night at the convention center.

The thing is, back then, on that night, it wasn’t about a context bigger than a square of ropes bordering a canvas floor.

"We didn’t know we were gonna win, we didn’t even think of the significance. There was sheer terror Liston was going to kill us!" Pacheco said Monday from his home. "It was a huge surprise. He out-fooled Liston and just boxed a beautiful fight. But the significance was for others to say, later. For us, that night, it was sheer elation, then we went home and went to sleep."

As Clay-turning-Ali, then only 22, towered over a fallen Liston in triumph, America had a new counterculture hero, and our sports would never be the same.

Sports Illustrated on the eve of the millennium called that first Clay-Liston fight the fourth-biggest American sports moment of the past century. That makes it a logical starting place for anyone trying to decipher the biggest sports moment we have hosted and seen here in South Florida.

If you might nominate instead the Super Bowl 3 "guarantee" Joe Namath fulfilled across town at the Orange Bowl not quite five years later, I’d remind you Namath simply was the first athlete to successfully embrace the template that Clay/Ali created for everyone who followed.

Ali kicked open doors and allowed color and outlandish personality to flow into our games. Instantly, sports changed. He gave breadth and volume to the voice of athletes. Namath parading to town with his fur coat and his guarantee — he should have paid Ali royalties.

Liston, the aging but feared reigning champion, had been the heavy betting favorite to knock that bluster clean out of Clay. To shut him up.

A black-and-white photo shows Edwin Pope, the great longtime former Miami Herald sports columnist, ringside that night with his mouth agape and an unlit cigarette on his lip, in the moment Clay won.

"The night exploded so fast I never got the match to the cigarette,” Pope explained about the photo in a 1989 column on the fight’s 25th anniversary. “I remember thinking, ‘This can’t be happening.’"

Pope lamented then that the significance of that night had largely been forgotten. I didn’t know my mentor to be wrong often, but thankfully about that he might have been.

The HistoryMiami museum on West Flagler Street is commemorating the fight’s 50th anniversary with an art and photo exhibit, and Pacheco is to headline a panel discussion there Tuesday night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fifty years earlier, exactly, the Miami Beach Convention Center would have been filling for the main event, with arriving fight fans having little idea a stunning coronation was to take place on the canvas.

That night was the epicenter of a golden era of boxing in Miami, back when Miami Beach’s famed, original 5th Street Gym, a jog from the convention center, was the splendidly seedy hub of it. Clay trained there for that first Liston fight. The gym, the love and life of brothers Chris and Angelo Dundee, now both passed, lasted 42 years.

The last time I remember walking up those sagging steps to enter the pungent squalor of the gym had been to interview actor Mickey Rourke, then embarked on a short-lived boxing career. Some skinny fighter played a drumbeat on a speed bag against a backlit window.

Not long afterward, Pacheco and I stood together and watched the 5th Street Gym razed by a wrecking ball on a morning in 1993, history crushed to rubble, old ghosts rising in the clouds of chalky dust. I remember thinking, "Anything can be torn down, if this can."

Pacheco saved from the demolition an old "rubbing table" where fighters could get a massage. The table is in his house. It holds his paints. The Fight Doctor called that grimy, beautiful old gym "our earthly equivalent of the kingdom of Oz."

These days the former Cassius Clay is, at 72, a brittle shell in the cruel embrace of Parkinson’s, while the original 5th Street Gym is as irretrievably gone as some magical, disappeared night 50 years past.

None of them is forgotten, though. Never that.

In the memory, the old 5th Street Gym is still thrumming, full of sweat and dreams, and its most famous fighter is in its humid mist, floating like a butterfly.

[The above column originally was published Feb. 25, 2014]
 

Poll result: Sorry, Panthers, you shouldn't have changed logos: Bad idea, bad logo or both, you don't like. We asked what you think of the Florida Panthers ' new logo, and 69.4 percent said "thumbs down/wish they hadn't changed." Only 30.6% said "thumbs up/like it better than the old one."

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

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June 03, 2016

U.S. Soccer: Confessions of a not-always-unbiased sports columnist; plus like Panthers' new logo? Poll. Vote!; also, Muhammad Ali, Jose Fernandez's monster May, locals in 'World Fame 100,' Doral-PGA divorce, your NBA Finals verdict & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 3. I Tweeted out last night I think the Cavaliers will upset the Warriors and win the NBA Finals, but Game 1 did not feather that nest. When Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shoot a combined 8-for-27 and Golden State still sails, that's a bad sign for Cleveland. 2) Still cannot fathom that the Doral-PGA Tour divorce was not preventable. See link below for my column on the subject. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): PGA Tour dumps Doral, Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals polls, Tannehill 'wins' under-pressure vote, UM baseball & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 4: My four most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, the latest, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, 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.

Is end near for Muhammad Ali?: The legendary boxer, 74, whose career bloomed in Miami's 5th Street Gym, is hospitalized and today reportedly on life support with respiratory issues. He has suffered from Parkinson's disease and been in unsteady health for years. We wish for the full recovery.of one of America's bigger-than-sports sports icons.

CONFESSIONS OF A NOT-QUITE-ALWAYS-UNBIASED SPORTS COLUMNIST: The U.S. men's soccer team begins play vs. Colombia tonight at 9:30 in the Copa America tournament being held in Ussoccer
Copaamericathis country throughout June. I have a rooting interest, because I am an American before I am a journalist. Call it jingoism; I call it patriotism. I love my country. In a mood, I can get emotional during the national anthem. I get emotional watching the American squad parade en masse during an Olympic opening ceremony. And when U.S. soccer (men or women) is in a World Cup game or a major tournament like the Copa America, yes, I root for "us." (It is nothing personal, Colombia. I love that your supporters are passionate, too). If it is my country playing, I don't even bother to feign the neutrality that is otherwise a part of my profession. I do maintain that neutral curtain when covering our local pro teams. Even though I grew up a Dolphins fan, for example, I cannot be the child-fan I was when covering that team. I am a journalist covering the Dolphins. I am an American first watching U.S. soccer. Can you understand that? I hope so. But if not, I'll still be at home tonight (hopefully) cheering that first U.S. goal, and unabashedly so.

FLORIDA PANTHERS LOGO CHANGE: SHIELD REPLACES LEAPING CAT. GOOD IDEA?: The Marlins and Dolphins have both made significant logo changes in recent years, and now the Florida Panthers have done the same, jettisoning the original 1993-minted leaping panther, the claws-out version seeming to come at you in 3D, in favor of the head of a panthers pictured in a shield

Panthersoldlogo
ORIGINAL LOGO
Panthersnewlogo
NEW LOGO

under the word Florida. The old and new logos are pictured here. A logo change can be good, invigorating, as well as a boon to merchandise sales. Cha-ching. A logo change can be, bad, too. It can mess with tradition; it might prove unpopular. I liked the old/original Panthers logo, but I also get the desire for change after 23 years. The new logo is sleek, hard to dislike. It is inspired by the U.S. Army 101st Airborne shield, although I must say it reads more like a soccer logo, with that sports prone to shields and crests. I also would note the new logo is closer to the Carolina Panthers' logo than the original one was. Bottom line, for me? I'd-a probably kept the old one. It was more original. Different. The new one reads as more generic. Logo 101. But I'm more interested in what you think. You needn't be a passionate or even casual Panthers or hockey fan to vote. You can come at it from an artistic vantage or simply vote which design you'd rather have on your chest on a jersey. Vote and say why, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

JosefJOSE SHOULD ENTER CY YOUNG CHATTER THANKS TO MONSTROUS MAY: The NL Cy Young race has two clear frontrunners in Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta. No denying that. Kershaw, who won in 2013-14, has 105 strikeouts and five walks. Arrieta, who won last year, is 9-0 for the best team in baseball. That's a tall climb for Jose Fernandez. But the Marlins ace had better have at least joined the conversation after an historically good month of May. He is only the third starting pitcher since 1893 to be 6-0 with at least 50 strikeouts in May. The others: Roger Clemens in 1997 and Pedro Martinez in 1999 -- both of whom won the Cy Young that year. That's Cooperstown-quality company. (See how those three months compare below). Fernandez is now 22-1 in his career at Marlins Park. His starts have become must-see; his next one scheduled is here Sunday vs. the Mets. Jose staying in the Cy Young race will depend on him hanging statistically with Kershaw and Arrieta, but it also will depend on the Marlins hanging in the playoff chase, as they are now, just 1 1/2 games back in the wild-card standings. If Jose keeps pitching like it's May and is seen as the main reason Miami could end a 13-year postseason drought, he'll have a fighter's shot at the Cy. Here are the three greatest months of May by starting pitchers in MLB history:

Player, Team (Year)                        Record      ERA    K-BB / IP      Opp BA

Roger Clemens, Blue Jays (1997)      6-0        1.96   51-13 / 46.0   .215

Pedro Martinez, Red Sox (1999)        6-0        1.84   69-9 / 44.0     .228

Jose Fernandez, Marlins (2016)         6-0        1.38    56-11 / 39.0   .200

THE LIST: MARLINS IN CY YOUNG VOTING: Eight Marlins pitchers have received votes for the NL Cy Young Award. They are listed in order of most voting points (VP):

Pitcher                     Year    VP (1st)    Finished

Dontrelle Willis        2005   112 (11)    2nd 

Kevin Brown            1996    88 (2)       2nd

Jose Fernandez        2013    62 (0)       3rd

Josh Johnson           2010    34 (0)       5th

Carl Pavano             2004    6 (0)        6th

Bryan Harvey           1993   1 (0)         T8th

Al Leiter                  1996    1 (0)        T9th

Henderson Alvarez   2014   1 (0)        12th

Worldfame100 SerenaSERENA, D-WADE, OTHER SOFLA ATHLETES IN ESPN'S 'WORLD FAME 100': ESPN loves lists and analytics and celebrates fame like a schoolgirl, so naturally it has an annual "world fame" ranking that factors salary, endorsements, social media following and Google search popularity. The top five on the new one: 1st Cristiano Ronaldo, 2nd LeBron James, 3rd Lionel Messi, 4th Neymar and 5th Roger Federer. (Click here for full list). South Florida athletes who make it are 25th Serena Williams (from Palm Beach, pictured), 33rd Dwyane Wade, 68th Chris Bosh, 74th Venus Williams and (surprisingly, to me) 79th Amar'e Stoudemire. One SoFla ex- on the list besides LeBron: 88th Miguel Cabrera.

Poll: Landslide, twice! You predict Golden State will win NBA Finals, and want Warriors to win, too: Sorry, LeBron. Not a lot of love emanating from Miami or, as your geography puts it, South Beach. We asked which team you wanted to win and it was Warriors 75.8 percent to Cavaliers 24.2%. We asked which team you predict will win and it was Warriors 79.8% to Cavaliers 20.2%. For our viewing pleasure starting with Game 1 tonight, may the series be closer than these polls!

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Twitter @gregcote

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 23, 2016

Dolfans optimistic? After all the changes, how many games will Dolphins win in 2016? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated), woman chooses death over Trump or Clinton, your verdict on ESPN & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 23. I'm back! Spent a long weekend in the Bahamas. More on that later. 2) Good story here by ESPN's Pablo S. Torre on the friendship between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Not sure I entirely buy the premise that the friendship is all that controversial. But an interesting read nonetheless. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Is-ESPN-in-trouble poll, navigating dog days of SoFla sports, proof Joe Public still hates Dolphins, your pessimism on Bosh's return, FA Cup champs list & 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: No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins, the new one, on how Fins must earn back the faith and trust they've lost. Conviction on Whiteside, Uncertainty on Bosh, on Pat Riley's state-of-the-Heat address. It's Pat Riley Season!, on Heat's looming offseason.

DolfanHOW OPTIMISTIC (OR NOT) ARE DOLPHINS FANS RIGHT NOW?: I won't know unless I ask, right? On one hand, there seem to be legitimate reasons for optimism, after an encouraging coaching hire in Adam Gase, a promising draft led by Laremy Tunsil and a free-agency period in which gains led by Mario Williams at least offset losses. Yet the disappointment and mistrust are ingrained now, yes? They have become part of the fabric of being a Dolfan. It is hard to expect this franchise to do right, or to be good, after 10 to 15 years of mostly letdowns. (Click on No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins for my latest column more fully exploring all of this). Mirroring the more doubtful/skeptical side, the new Las Vegas betting over/under on Dolphins wins (via Bovada) is a mere seven. That's one better than last year's dismal 6-10 season, but 7-9 isn't a playoff team and doesn't budge the club from its rut of mediocrity. Now, ESPN's offseason report card for each team weighs in with a D+ grade for Miami. Ouch. Betting lines mirror public perception, so that means Mr. Vegas with its over/under of 7 wins is surmising that gamblers football fans in general aren't sold on Miami being appreciably better. My question: Are Dolfans sold on the improvement? Is South Florida more optimistic? Are you? Only one way to find out: A poll! Take a dip in it. As always, I encourage you to vote as dispassionately as you can, not as a fan, but honestly, as if you were betting with mind (or money), not heart. Ready? Go! Vote, say why you feel as you do, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Riley unequivocal on Whiteside as team's offseason priority: The Silver Fox favored the media with his annual postseason State of the Heat address (the onset of Pat Riley Season) and left zero doubt that re-signing center Hassan Whiteside long-term is the club's No. 1 priority. Alas, he could not be as unequivocal on Chris Bosh's future, only saying the club is "trying to find a way" to get Bosh back on the court. That's hopeful. But a little ominous, too?

2. MARLINS: Miami need to pick up the pace: Fish, in a current five-game homestand, remain in playoff contention as year's second quarter began but are only 6-9 since that 11-1 streak. Slumping Giancarlo Stanton is hitting .211 and on pace for a club-record 237 strikeouts. The good news? The $325 Million Man gotta get hot soon ... right?

3. NBA: Cavaliers, Thunder up 2-1 entering Game 4s: Cleveland leads 2-1 in East finals over Toronto entering Game 4 tonight in Canada, while Oklahoma City is up 2-1 out West over Golden State entering Game 4 Tuesday in OKC. That "inevitable" LeBron James vs. Steph Curry finals is on hold for a bit.

4. DOLPHINS: Miami prepares for OTA practices: Fins will stage full practices this Tuesday though Thursday and again May 31 as new Vegas betting odds set the team's wins over/under at a modest seven. Meantime club this week bids to host three more Super Bowls, the next in 2019. How 'bout Miami spends less time on hosting a Super Bowl and more time on playing in one.

5. UM BASEBALL: Third-ranked UM begins postseason play: The regular season now done, Jim Morris' No. 3 Hurricanes prepare now for the ACC Tournament running this Tuesday though next Sunday, followed by an expected host's role in an NCAA Regionals. That in turn will lead to the College World Series ... or a very good Canes season will have been for naught.

6. HORSE RACING: Exaggerator denies Nyquist in Preakness: It was possible, after almost 30 years without a Triple Crown winner, the sport might now have had two in a row. That was the true entering Saturday's Preakness. It isn't now.

7. PANTHERS: Cats announce new logo and uniform unveiling: Florida announced it will reveal its new logo and look at its arena on June 2. That's good. Even better: Announce you're going to reveal a hockey team that can win a playoff series for the first time since 1996.

8. NHL: Tampa Bay can clinch spot in Finals on home ice: Tampa Bay leads Pittsburgh 3-2 in East semis and can clinch spot in Stanley Cup Finals on home ice Tuesday night, with St. Louis and San Jose tied 2-2 out West. Alas, not sure if any Finals matchup that arises of this will makes hearts race outside of the competing cities.

9. TENNIS: French Open, one of sports' majors, gets underway Sunday: Well, OK. Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are the two big majors. They get together and make fun of the French and Australian Opens. But still.

10. SOCCER: Americans train in Miami for Copa America: Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. men are training in Miami for the Copa America being held in the U.S. in June. Meantime, Manchester United won Saturday's FA Cup final that riveted attention across Great Britain.

Missing the cut: I Googled the phrase ENOUGH ALREADY! and saw that Tom Brady is now appealing the reinstatement of his four-game suspension ..... The Pro Bowl reportedly is moving to Orlando in 2017. What a perfect destination for a Mickey Mouse event! ..... Dolphins will be back on WQAM-560 this season for first time since 2009. That's big news for the station. Also for the estimated nearly 1 percent of all people who don't own televisions ..... Miami Dolphins Foundation held its 20th annual golf-and-fishing Fins Weekend fundraiser ending Saturday. Hopefully funds will go toward fielding a winning football team for a change ..... Valued Heat assistant David Fizdale interviewed with Memphis. Miami would love him to get the opportunity (but not really!) ..... The NFL is returning to the government more than $723,000 its teams (including the Dolphins) received in "sponsored" military tributes. Hey, somebody gotta pay for those gigantic, football field-sized flags! ..... Second-worst golf week: Tiger Woods tried to demonstrate how close his game was to healthy by hitting three straight wedge shots in the water. Worst golf week: Phil Mickelson must pay back nearly $1 million in money he received via insider trading ..... Rangers 2B Rougned Odor was suspended eight games for landing a punch vs. Toronto. Wild guess: You grow up with the name "Odor," you get in your share of fights ..... UM women's tennis lost in the NCAA Sweet 16. Feeling nostalgic, Canes fans blamed Al Golden ..... Scotland's Muirfield Golf Club voted to continue its ban on women members, erasing itself from consideration to host the British Open. Club officials could not be reached, because they are all living in the previous century ..... Canes men's basketball coach Jim Larranaga, 66, said, "I'm going to coach until I'm dead." A foolproof way to avoid being fired, come to think of it ..... The 76ers won the NBA draft lottery and will have the first pick in June. They'll still be awful, but now will have one less good excuse ..... The Indianapolis 500 is next Sunday. Gentlemen, get ready to get ready to start your engines ..... And in other news, WNBA season is underway, and you continue to ignore it.

Poll result: ESPN diminished, but still the boss: We asked what best reflects your opinion of ESPN in light of recent departures from the network, and a plurality of 46.0 percent chose "diminished but still the leader." However, more than twice as many voted for "in decline" (36.9%) over "as big as ever" (17.1%).

ObitWHO SAYS THERE IS NO HUMOR IN DEATH?: Either the dearly departed or the bereaved she left behind had a sense of humor in writing the opening of this newspaper obituary. I must say Mary Anne Noland probably speaks for millions of Americans faced with what they perceive as a lesser-of-two-evils presidential decision in November. Although I'm guessing the vast majority of us will either choose the lesser evil or choose to abstain from voting rather than choose the great beyond as a preferred alternative.

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

Twitter @gregcote