September 24, 2016

Chris Bosh, with latest setback, should retire from Heat and NBA: my new column. Agree or not? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Week 3 picks, has-interest-in-Heat-decreased poll, why Stanley Cup odds still are against Panthers, your Tebow verdict & more


1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24. It's autumn! Are we feeling autumnal? 2) Click here for ESPN Radio podcast including my latest Back In My Day segment. It kicks in around the 41-minute mark. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tim Tebow launches baseball career with poll, Bosh says Heat docs wrote him off, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Demanding Racial Justice (the latest, on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it)Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CHRIS BOSH SHOULD RETIRE FROM HEAT, NBA: MY NEW COLUMN: Click on Time is Right For Bosh to Retire to read my latest column in full. What led me to write it: Four days before the start of Heat training camp in the Bahamas, the Miami Herald reports today that complications involving continued clotting have derailed or at least indefinitely delayed Bosh's comeback hopes. The issue is not considered life-threatening but requires medication at odds with the rigors of the NBA. Bosh's past two Miami seasons have been substantially ruined by blood clot issues, and it now seems a near-certainly a third season in a row will be majorly affected. The Heat, just after noon today, released a statement saying, "Chris has now taken his pre-season physical. The Miami Heat regret that it remains unable to clear Chris to return to basketball activities, and there is no timetable for his return." Ominous. Update: Bosh, saying "little setbacks happen," says he will continue working toward an NBA comeback in Miami.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY WEEK 3: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We continued the strong start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 12-4 overall and 10-6 against the spread last week. Click on Week 3 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Browns, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other matchup. Got off to another good start last night (see Thursday Gem) by accurately calling the Patriots' win over Houston -- one that found New England a rare home underdog, albeit by only 1 point. We also have an accompanying NFL column that leads with an analysis of the impact of state-school college players in the NFL, including a position breakdown of every current Miami Hurricane suiting up on Sundays. Click on We Got Some Canes Over Here to read the column plus NFL notes.

HeatPOST-WADE, WHAT IS YOUR INTEREST IN THE HEAT COMPARED TO BEFORE?: Incredibly, for the first time since 2002, the Miami Heat are about to open a preseason training camp without Dwyane Wade on the roster, after seeing him sign with the Chicago Bulls in free agency. The five-day camp runs this coming Tuesday through Saturday in Nassau, Bahamas. First LeBron James departs, now Wade. And with Chris Bosh still in limbo because of his medical situation, the Heat has gone from the BIg 3 to the BIg 2 to the BIg 1 ... maybe. And the team that reached four straight recent NBA Finals and won two of them is now judged as an also-ran that could struggle just to make the playoffs. I'm curious how that has impacted fans' interest in the coming season, post-Wade. Take a dip in our poll and let us know, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

STANLEY CUP? WHY ODDS STILL ARE AGAINST BIG-DREAMING PANTHERS: The Florida Panthers hit the ice to begin training camp today/Friday in Sunrise (Cats' first exhibition game is Tuesday and the season opens Oct. 13), and this may be the first season in franchise history in which winning the Stanley Cup is on minds and tips of tongues in a very Panthersnewlogoreal way. After winning its division last season, despite an unexpected first-round playoff ouster, this team believes it is really good. Florida finished with 103 standings points last year (tied for fifth in the NHL) and had a productive offseason of extending contracts on its youthful core of players. The future looks bright. But how bright will the present be? Odds remain against the Cats getting to the Stanley Cup Finals this season, and here's the reason: the best teams in the league will be roadblocks to get out of the Eastern Conference. Via Bovada, Florida's betting over/under on regular season points is 98.5, tied for eighth best. That's pretty good. Playoff good. But: the top three teams overall all are East rivals in Washington (107.5), Tampa Bay (106.5) and Pittsburgh (103.5). Before the puck ever drops on a meaningful game, the Panthers are trailing in the public perception that sets and moves betting lines. This is what happens when a non-traditional power thinks it's really good and ready to make a big move. The proving must come before the believing does. (That new logo is growing on me, by the way).

Poll result: He's polarizing, but a majority like Tebow: We asked, as he embarks on an attempted baseball career, what is your overall impression or feeling about Tim Tebow. And it was 

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 20, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 13.3%; plus Fins dig early grave, fall at New England 31-24; also, latest Hot Button Top 10, Zach for Canton, PASS rankings & more


1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. Huge leap: Canes football catapults 10 spots from 25 to 15 in new Associated Press poll. 2) Click on Week 2 Gems for all of this past weekend's NFL predictions. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes clobber Appalachian State with CSM poll, other state Collball Week 3 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Zach Thomas for the Hall of Fame: First-time nominee Jason Taylor is seen as a likely-to-certain Hall of Famer, but longtime Dolphins running mate Zach Thomas is not. I compare their careers and set straight that misperception. Click on The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton to read my latest Sunday column.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 2 Gems (NFL predix). Where Tannehill Falls (NFL column). Timing Was Perfect, Not Wrong (on four Dolphins' 9/11 kneel-down). Awesome Vs. Awful (on UM's resounding season-opening victory). Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CSM vote shows record number: Canesfan Satisfaction Meter voting seta season high for approval. See the results in our immediate previous blogpost.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 13.3%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 13.3 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 Dolphins loss at New DsmEngland putting Miami's season record at 0-2. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

Next poll: Sept. 25 (following game vs. Cleveland)

G2: NEW ENGLAND 31, DOLPHINS 24: GASE, NEW FINS FAIL EARLY LITMUS TEST: Final postgame thoughts: Miami dug its own grave early with horrific pass defense and trailed 24-0 before Jimmy Garoppolo went out injured. Then it was even, with a rookie third-stringer pitching for Pats. Too late. Not enough. Tannehill had a scorching second half and ended up with 389 yards passing but that abysmal start was too much to overcome. Positives: Miami didn't quit. Tanny and defense picked it up. Negatives: 0-2 now with an eighth straight loss in New England, thanks to an inexplicably zombie-like start to the game for Fins. Nice fight, nice comeback, but can't feel too good about "almost." ..... 4Q: Desperate last-second end-zone pass by Tannehill intercepted. Game. ... Wow, Pats miss 39Y FG with 1:04 left, so Miami (sans timeouts) will have one last shot. ... Oh my. Miami within 31-24 mid-quarter after Drake's 7-yard scoring run. No-huddle and a hot Tannehill and shredding Pats defense. ... Well now. Miami within 31-17 early in fourth on Tanny 12-yard strike to Cameron in e-zone. Do you believe in miracles? Tannehill now 3-4 yards passing. ..... 3Q: Quarter ends with MIA driving and Tannehill at 292 passing yards. Too little too late, though. ... Life! Dolphins within 31-10 on 24-yard Stills collection of really nice Tannehill pass. ... Ajayi fumble leads directly to Blunt TD run and 31-3 NE lead. This game meets all the parameters of embarrassing for Miami. ... Good gawd! Promising drive snuffed by Ajayi fumble loss. Christ. ...Garappolo (shoulder) won't return in second half. That's an opening for Miami. Dolphins get kick. If they score and make it 24-10, they give themselves a shot. ..... Halftime thoughts: Do I have to? Miami came out flat, showed little life, had miserable pass defense, and got behind so big so fast the running game became a non-factor. Tannehill may need to throw 30 times in second half. Barring small miracle MIA headed to 0-2 with eighth straight L in Foxborough. ..... 2Q: Fins hit 27-yard FG on last play of forgettable half. ... Dolphins driving but Tannehill intercepted. Can this (bleep) get any worse? ... Pats add FG for 24-0 lead but Dolphins-killer Garoppolo leaves game with apparent shoulder injury. ... Bulletin: Something goes right for Miami!!! Fumble recovery. But wait! They give it right back. Of course they do. ... Pats now 21-0 on Amendola 10-yarder from Garoppolo. How many ways can you say "embarrassing"? ..... 1Q: Absymal 1Q for Fins pass D allowing 177 yards to Garoppolo on 12-for-15 accuracy. ... Pats now 14-0 on Garoppolo-Bennett 20-yard pass. Sad pass-D so far, Miami. Brady's fill-in is 9-for-10 for 136 yards. ... Garoppolo-Amendola 12-yard scoring pass and quick 7-0 Pats lead. No Brady, no Gronk, no problem. Really bad defensive series to start game for Miami. ..... Pregame: We'll have running in-game commentary here and then, right afterward, the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. ..... Original post: Miami has lost seven straight trips to Foxborough and 13 of the past 15. The Fins have allowed an average of 32 points in those seven straight road defeats in the zseries. But today at 1 the Patriots will be without QB Tom Brady and likely without tight end Rob Gronkowski, too. DolpatThe Dolphins are only 6-point underdogs. The game is winnable, ripe for a road-team upset, perhaps. But ... can they win it? The Dolphins' recent track record at The Razor leaves us doubting it until we actually see. This is a first real litmus test to gauge the change the Gase Era has brought. A season-opening 12-10 loss in Seattle was mildly encourage, at least for a loss. Now let's see if the Dolphins build, or regress. New England owns the AFC East -- 72-21 in their division the past 15 years. So it was amusing this week seeing Bill Belichick heap praise on the Dolphins and wring hands over how dangerous Miami is. That would be the same Dolphins his Patriots have mostly owned for most of this century. Did I mention that Ryan Tannehill is 0-4 at New England and been sacked 22 times in the process? OK, that’s the glass half empty, Dolfans. But Belichick has a point, too, in being wary of today's foe. Here’s the glass half full: Belichick’s career record vs. Miami is a modest 20-14. Tannehill has pitched for 996 yards in the past three meetings. Jimmy Garoppolo is not Brady. No Gronkowski (hamstring) would be a big break for MIA. [Bonus fact: Jarvis Landry reached 200 catches in his 33rd NFL game, fastest ever]. Do I sense a major upset here? Nope. But neither would it shock me. I think Gase is the smartest Dolphins coach that Belichick has faced in a long time. Fins beat the point spread in Seattle and should do it again Sunday versus the rival and nemesis that plays Lord Voldemort in the AFC East. My pick: Patriots, 23-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 18): 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, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10: 

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami tries, fails again to solve nemesis Patriots: Fins entered Sunday afternoon's game at the Patriots having lost seven straight and 13 of past 15 trips to New England. (Dear Dolphins: Less focus on kneeling during the anthem, and more on winning in Foxborough). Could have been a major statement game for Miami that things are different under Adam Gase. Fins caught a big break with no Tom Brady, and another with Rob Gronkowski out. Alas, a 24-0 early hole resulted in a 31-24 loss. Same ol' same ol'. 

2. HURRICANES: UM crushes App State as Richt Era aces first real challenge: After two easy wins the No. 25 Canes Saturday played at "giant killer" Appalachian State. Of course that suggests UM has returned to “giant” status, the ongoing climb that is Mark Richt's challenge. Well, Canes looked the part in this one, clobbering the hometown Mountaineers, 45-10, as Brad Kaaya threw for 368 yards and three TDs. Don't  call it a statement win, though. No, no. A tough October schedule will be this team's barometer. Update: UM catapults 25 to 15 in today's new Associated Press poll.  

3. MARLINS: Write 'em off. Fish done as they prepare for year's final homestand: They're one game under .500 and 5 back in the wild-card race, with only 13 games left, as Fish prepare for Monday start of the waning season's last homestand. Finis. Done. The once-real playoff hopes are miracle-microscopic now.

4. HEAT: Bosh says he's ready for camp, team still mum, Wade says thanks: As Heat prepare to open training camp Sept. 27 in Nassau, Bahamas, Chris Bosh said this week he's ready to play but team remained noncommittal. Dear Heat: Please, a bleepin' decision, already! Meanwhile -- #Respect -- departed Dwyane Wade has billboard near the arena that reads, Thank You Miami.

5. PANTHERS: Hockey's back as Cats stage rookie camp: Florida's rookie camp is underway, through Tuesday, and includes three rookie games vs. other NHL teams, the second of them on Sunday. Cats have highest expectations of any local pro team this season. Then again, vs. Dolphins, Marlins and post-Wade Heat, that's a low bar.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Florida State loss shakes up CFP outlook: The top three teams faced road games against ranked opponents Saturday. No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State survived. Not so much No. 2 FSU in a crushing 63-20 humiliation at Louisville. This is the Noles waving goodbye to the College Football Playoff. This is the Canes possibly being favored when the Seminoles visit here Oct. 8.

7. TIM TEBOW: Former quarterback launches baseball career: It begins for Tebow on Monday morning, a few hours north of Miami up in Port St. Lucie, at the Mets' minor-league facility. There, amid what will be a media circus, the ex-Florida gators and NFL quarterback has his first workout as a newly signed minor-league ballplayer. Tebow has balls, Mets have a low-risk prospect. What's not to like?

8. HOCKEY: Team USA stunned in World opener: Heavily favored Team USA lost to Team Europe on Saturday in opening game of the eight-team World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, skating through Oct. 1. "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-Ohhhh..."

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes' ACC schedule announced: Season opens Nov. 11 but we now know ACC opener will be at home Dec. 31 vs. North Carolina State. UM will be showcased nationally on twice this season on CBS, Jan. 28 vs. North Carolina and Feb. 25 vs. Duke. Five other games will be broadcast on ESPN platforms and five more on the ACC Network.

10. FIU: School, AD Garcia set parting date: FIU's 10-year athletic director Pete Garcia will remain through July 31, 2018 and then depart, the two sides agreed this week. The spin is positive, but the fresh blood is needed. Garcia saves face with this; it isn't a firing. But it is FIU moving on (eventually). Oh, and FIU football fell to 0-3 Saturday.

Missing the HB10 cut: Bills coach Rex Ryan scapegoated and fired his offensive coordinator to protect his defensive coordinator brother -- the one who should have been fired. You're a sad clown, Rex ..... Penn State honored disgraced former football coach Joe Paterno on Saturday. Whose idea was that? Jerry Sandusky's? ..... Kyle Busch tops the 16-driver finalists field that will spend the two months trying to win a championship in Homestead in November. Another season with no dream finish for Dale Jr. ..... Soccer's 32-team Champions League is 32 matches in and off 'til Sept. 27. If you don't know what it is, it's too hard to explain here. If you do know what it is, you probably know more than I do ..... U.S. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem. At what point will this no longer even be newsworthy? ..... And in other news: A sentence I never imagined writing: "Ryan Lochte was attacked on Dancing With the Stars."

MstaffordPASS NFL QUARTERBACK RANKINGS ENTERING WEEK 2: Click here for Week 1 results launching the 19th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) NFL quarterback rankings. Lion Matthew Stafford (pictured) fronts our first Top 20 chart. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill failed to chart and sits in 30th place out the gate. A backgrounder:

Previous PASS champions: 1998—Steve Young SF 462.50 points; 1999—Kurt Warner STL 517.95; 2000—Peyton Manning IND 467.65; 2001—Warner STL 557.50; 2002—Rich Gannon OAK 555.45; 2003—P.Manning IND 522.35; 2004—P.Manning IND 579.85; 2005—Carson Palmer CIN 487.80; 2006—P.Manning IND 512.85; 2007—Tom Brady NE 664.30; 2008—Drew Brees NO 535.45; 2009—Brees NO 565.35; 2010—Brees NO 557.00; 2011—Brees NO 713.80; 2012—P.Manning DEN 593.35; 2013—P.Manning DEN 714.85; 2014—Brees NO 583.60; 2015—Brees NO 575.80.

Final 2015 Top 10: 1. Drew Brees NO 575.80; 2. Tom Brady NE 565.50; 3. Kirk Cousins WAS 521.30; 4. Philip Rivers SD 520.60; 5. Carson Palmer ARI 516.55; 6. Matthew Stafford DET 509.10; 7. Russell Wilson SEA 504.50; 8. Matt Ryan ATL 484.55; 9. Eli Manning NYG 470.80; 10. Cam Newton CAR 437.85.

Season record: Manning DEN 714.85 (2013). Dolphins record: Ryan Tannehill 481.25 (2014).

Best week: Ben Roethlisberger PIT 80.10 (2014). Worst week: Tim Hasselbeck WAS minus-23.30 (2003).

Career titles: 6 each—Brees and Manning; 2—Warner; 1 each—Brady, Gannon, Palmer and Young.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 29, 2016

Our fantasy draft: Who picked best team? (Was it Greg's Lobos?) New poll. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes, Fins, Fish, tennis, Kaepernick, Marlins Park, Little League, Heat; plus Gase/Richt column & more


1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 29. Dolphins and Uber announced a new partnership today. Go to my Facebook page to read team's press release in full. 2) R.I.P., Dick Assman, 82, the Canadian gas station owner propelled briefly to fame in 1995 when David Letterman, amused by his name, had Assman on as a recurring guest. 3) Yes, your dog's jaws are strong. An average 44-pound dog exerts a bite-pressure of 363 pounds. An average adult human's is 65 pounds. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins impress vs. Atlanta, Wade cousin killed, Fins talent vs. optimism, Canes heritage dissed, Marlins get Francoeur, Riley's Heat gloom confirmed, Rolling Stone joins our cause, your verdict on Dolfan optimism & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Twitter just told me, "Your Tweets earned 1,000,953 impressions over the last 28 days." Not exactly sure what that means, but I think it's my first time over 1 mill for a month. So, thank you, Twitter family!

Latest column: Hope for Dolphins, Canes starts with Gase, Richt: Miami's two flagship football teams have done a lot wrong most of this decade. What they've done right: Hire Adam Gase and Mark Richt. This is only the second time in 51 shared years the Fins and Canes both have begun a new season with a new head coach. Click on Gase, Richt and Hope for my latest column.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). The Real Olympic Ideal (it isn't gold medals). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars. The Weight Has Just Begun (inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (on Wade's departure from Heat).

OUR 10-TEAM FANTASY DRAFT: VOTE WHO YOU THINK PICKED THE BEST TEAM: Greg's Lobos had our last of three fantasy drafts on Sunday. The Lobos will be competing 1) in a random league Fantasyfbthat won us in an ESPN V Foundation fundraising auction; 2) in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos; and 3) in our own friends-n-family league. We had an earlier poll on our V Foundation team, and our LeBatard Show team is detailed at the end of this blogpost. Our friends-n-family league had its draft Sunday, and that's this poll. All of us gathered in person, not online. We did it old-school, with a giant draft board on the wall gradually populated with names. Afterward, of course, we stood around arguing who'd had the best draft, or worst. Whose teams looked strongest, or shakiest. Now I invite you to tell us. In this poll the teams are listed in draft order in case you wish to take that into consideration. We're a 10-team PPR league, and this was a standard snake draft. Our poll is based on each team's first four picks, because if we listed all 16 names for each team it'd be unwieldy. Peruse each team's top four and, based on that, vote which team you'd most want to have. Then check back often to monitor evolving results. Tomorrow we'll let you know who was behind the winning team and how your rated our Greg's Lobos.


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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: College football is back! Canes suspend 2, open in 5 days: Week 1 locally features Hurricanes hosting Florida A&M on Saturday, two days after FIU debuts here vs. Indiana. UM on Saturday severed ties with two of its better defensive players in DE Al-Quadin Muhammad and LB Jermaine Grace after both were found guilty in a school probe of improper luxury-car rentals in violation of NCAA rules. This week signals official start of the Mark Richt era at UM. Hasn't played a gamed yet, but he's already won by keeping his program clean.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Atlanta, prepare for stadium unveiling in preseason finale: After encouraging 17-6 win over Atlanta and roster cuts, Dolphins prepare for preseason finale on Thursday -- and public unveiling of refurbished, newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium. Place looks great. Will the team?

3. MARLINS: Playoff-chasing Fish add help, wrap homestand: Team is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace in a five-team wild-card scramble as it sets out today/Monday on seven-game road trip. Fish will be a part of the Tim Tebow audition after earlier trading for outfield help in Jeff Francoeur. Dear Jeff: Pretend like it's 2011, your last really good season.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Open, year's last major, set to begin: Starts today in New York with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams top seeds as usual. Tennis is predictable. Then again, defending women's champ Flavia Pennetta is a household name only in her own house.

5. MARLINS PARK: Stadium to host major auto race, World Baseball Classic: Good week for the Little Havana home of Marlins. First it's announced park will host Race of Champions on Jan. 21-22, annual event pitting Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar drivers. Then stadium landed first-round WBC games March 9-12 featuring U.S., Canada, Colombia and Dominican Republic. Now if only they'd add a few Marlins playoff games.

6. LITTLE LEAGUE: New York team wins annual youth World Series wraps up: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" The U.S. champion team from Endwell, N.Y. beat international champs from Seoul, South Korea on Sunday to make a U.S. team LLWS champions for first time since 2011. Was it fate? How could an American team from "End well" not have a happy ending?

7. OLYMPICS: Fallout from Rio controversy for Solo, Lochte: U.S. soccer suspended and cut ties with goalkeeper Hope Solo after she called victorious Sweden "cowards," and U.S. Swimming's Ryan Lochte saw several major sponsors including Speedo drop him over his gas-station episode in Rio. Good-looking athletes, but Ugly Americans.

8. HEAT: Riley's pronouncement of "bad summer" is affirmed: Pat Riley himself called it a "bad, bad summer" for the Heat, and evidence is rolling in. this week gave Miami a D+ in its offseason grades, and projected the Heat for a sub-.500 38.3 wins, 10th in the East. No LeBron, no D-Wade, no assurance yet on Bosh. No hope?

9. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB protest by sitting for national anthem: The 49ers' embattled QB refused to stand for the U.S. national anthem to protest the country "oppression" of people of color. It's the latest chapter in his new autobiography, "How My Once-Promising Career Went Straight to Hell."

10. SOCCER: Group stage set for Champions League: Thirty-two teams in eight groups of four were drawn this week to begin play Sept. 13 in the Champions League to crown the king of European club football. Headlines went to Group C, where Manchester City was drawn with Barcelona -- meaning new Man City manager Pep Guardiola will face his longtime former club. You know you love you some international soccer when you drop a Pep Guardiola reference!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cousin of Dwyane Wade killed in Chicago shooting. "Enough is enough" Wade had said of gun violence. So sad. ..... Cricket! World cricket powers India and West Indies playing two weekend matches at Central Broward Stadium. Do cricket players have single  names like in soccer. Is the star named Jiminy? (Sorry) ..... Tony Romo got injured. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Florida Panthers dealt Dave Bolland's bloated contract and 2015 top draft pick Lawson Crouse to Arizona for second- and third-round picks. Preseason begins Sept. 27 to launch perhaps first season in club history in which winning Stanley Cup seems a legit possibility ...... Booker T. Washington beat St. Thomas Aquinas in duel of local prep football powerhouses. Circle the date. Aquinas losses come about as often as Halley's Comet ..... Only five schools in poll-era have won more national championships than Miami's five, but the Canes were ranked only 14th in an ESPN piece on college football royalty. Question: What do they mean by "fuzzy math"? ..... The Chicago White Sox, feeling the name U.S. Cellular Field wasn't awful enough, announced their stadium's new name will be Guaranteed Rate Field. No, seriously ..... Oakland Raiders have trademarked the name "Las Vegas Raiders." No, but they aren't leaving or anything! ..... Signs you may be a degenerate gambler: You bet big on Friday's Arizona Rattlers-Philadelphia Soul game in Arena Bowl 29 ..... Answer: KFC gives away tubes of "Extra Crispy Sunscreen" that smells like fried chicken. Question: What do you mean real life sometimes reads like something from The Onion? ..... Todd Marinovich was found wandering in somebody's backyard, naked and with drugs. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Congratulations, Chargers top draft pick Joey Bosa. All of San Diego hates you and you haven't even played a down yet ..... Farewell, daily fantasy sites Draft Kings and FanDuel. Sure will miss those nonstop TV ads ..... The Oakland A's traded pitcher Mike Rzepczynski, explaining, "We got tired of trying to spell and pronounce his name" ..... According to Brazilian media, 20-year-old Ingrid Oliveira and 17-year-old Giovanna Pedroso have ended their Olympic diving partnership after Oliveira kicked the teen from the room they shared at the Olympic Village in Rio so she could enjoy a night of sex with Brazilian canoeist Pedro Gonçalves. Um, is that a canoe, or are you just happy to see me?

INTRODUCING GREG'S LOBOS II, THE LEBATARD SHOW TEAM: We introduced you previously to the 2016 Greg's Lobos team that will be competing in the league that donated the most money Lobosto ESPN's V Foundation to have me as a member. Now I'd like you to meet the Greg's Lobos squad that will be competing in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos this season, a PPR league. I'd imagine this is the team we'll be referencing most on the air. Mea culpa: We were last of 14 teams in the snake-draft order. Our players, by round: 1st--RB Devonta Freeman (reigning MVL; welcome back D-Free); 2nd--WR Allen Robinson; 3rd--QB Drew Brees; 4th--WR Randall Cobb; 5th--TE Delanie Walker; 6th--RB Melvin Gordon; 7th--WR Willie Snead; 8th--RB Theo Riddick; 9th--RB Tevin Coleman; 10th--Seahawks D/ST; 11th--WR Terrance Williams; 12th--TE Clive Walford; 13th--PK Chandler Catanzaro; and 14th--QB Teddy Bridgewater. Last season's 10-team league has grown to 14 teams with one dropout (Papi) and five expansion teams. Returning teams are Dan, Stugotz and myself along with Mike, Roy, Chris, Charlie, Guillermo and Allyson. The five newbies are Amin Elhassan, Randy Scott, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and (are you ready) WWE pro wrestler Tyler Breeze.

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

Twitter @gregcote

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


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


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 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


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


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 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...

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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


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


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


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."

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