May 11, 2015

Brady suspended 4 games, Pats forfeit 1st-round pick!; plus Dolphins now East favorites?; also Heat draft prediction, new 'Weighing The Fish', Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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


1) It is MONDAY, MAY 11. Hope you good moms out there had a happy Mother's Day. Especially to my own mom in Vero Beach and to my wife and wonderful mother to our two sons. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Deflategate findings with poll, A-Rod's milestone with poll, Dolphins lose Collins, '16 mock draft & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

BREAKING NEWS: BRADY SUSPENDED 4 GAMES!: Tom Brady is suspended the first four games of the coming season and the Patriots are made to forfeit a first-round draft pick as NFL hands down "Deflate" punishment today. Club also fined $1 million and made to forfeit a fourth-round 2017 pick as well.

1aa1adekkerHeat draft prediction: Jeff Goodman's latest NBA mock draft for ESPN.com today predicts Miami will select Wisconson small forward Sam Dekker 10th overall. Dekker (pictured) is 6-9 and 230. Goodman's synopsis of the pick: "The Heat need to hit a home run here, and Dekker showed the potential with his play in the NCAA tournament. He's long, athletic and displayed a mental toughness with huge games on the sport's biggest stage. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng aren't spring chickens. This team needs some fresh legs to go along with Hassan Whiteside."

The heat in Redmond's seat: New first-manager-to-be-fired odds via sportsbettingdime.com show Miami's Mike Redmond tied for fourth in line at 6-1. Only shorter odds are Mariners' Lloyd McClendon at 7-2, and Indians' Terry Francona and White Sox's Robin Ventura both 4-1.

AFC EAST FAVORITES? DOLPHINS MAKING POST-DRAFT, DEFLATEGATE-RELATED LEAPS: The Dolphins leap four spots -- 19th to 15th -- in ESPN's latest post-draft NFL rankings out today, tied with Baltimore (11th to 7th) for the biggest jump. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Patriots hold steady at No. 2, Bills fall 1aa1adolphinleapingone spot to 18th and Jets bump up two spots to 25th. (Top five is Seahawks, Pats, Packers, Broncos and Colts). Of even greater interest, the respected ESPN partner website Football Outsiders is projecting/predicting both New England and Miami for 11-5 records and says Dolphins will be division favorites if imminent Deflategate penalties show a significant suspension for QB Tom Brady. Here is FB-O's take not even factoring in a Brady suspension: "Your hot sleeper Super Bowl contender for 2015 is the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots run away with the AFC East year after year, but our early projections suggest the defending champions will finally get some serious competition in their own division this year. We're high on the 2015 Dolphins because the 2014 Dolphins were essentially a good team dragged down to 8-8 by dismal special teams and a difficult schedule. However, special teams are less consistent from year to year than offense or defense, which means the Dolphins are likely to be a lot closer to average in that area in 2015. And like the rest of their division, the Dolphins also get an easier schedule this year."

WEIGHING THE FISH (30 GAMES): We throw the occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this 1aa1afishweigh 1aa1adeegyear we debuted a new feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Nine qualify for our third ranking. WTF is cumulative and factors six offensive categories. It serves as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best season or is hot/cold. Weighing The Fish after 30 games (actually 32, at 15-17, because we were asleep at the wheel), with current leader Dee Gordon pictured:

Rank Player                          WTF#      @20

1    Dee Gordon                         170.3      2

2    Giancarlo Stanton            163.1      1

3    Adeiny Hechevarria        140.4      3

4    Martin Prado                     124.7      4

5    Marcell Ozuna                   120.7      6

6    Ichiro Suzuki                      92.2      7

7    Michael Morse                    83.4      5

8    Jacob Realmuto                 75.4      8

9    Christian Yelich                 51.3      9

HOT BUTTON MAY 10: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DEFLATEGATE: Pats, Brady await punishment after Wells Report: “Deflategate” probe found Patriots and QB Tom Brady bearing “probable” guilt related to under-inflated footballs in AFC title game. Don Shula this week noted, "We didn’t deflate any balls. We always tried to live by the rules." Every retiree needs a hobby. Shula's apparently is needling Bill Belichick.

2. MARLINS: Gordon-led Fish continue on 10-game trip: Miami moves on to L.A. now after last night's Steve Cishek blown save at San Fran. Story so far has been Dee Gordon leading majors with a .439 batting average — 62 points better than anyone else. Might he become baseball’s first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941? Hey, somebody had to defy the jinx superstition and finally say it!

3. DOLPHINS: Busy week includes free-agent loss, rookies, celebration: Fins lost out on heavily wooed free-agent tackle La'el Collins, who signed with Dallas, then held a rookie minicamp that featured all seven recently drafted players. Miami also announced season-long plan related to club's 50th anniversary season. Dolfans need only one celebration: A bleepin' playoff win, please!

4. NBA: Cavaliers tie it as LeBron plays hero: Clippers seized a 3-1 series lead over Houston and Cavaliers tied Chicago 2-2 Sunday on LeBron James' last second-winning shot. No team still alive has won an NBA title since 1998 in what has been one of league’s most unpredictable seasons in years. Still liking Cleveland and Golden -- LeBron vs. Steph Curry -- as the most predictable Finals.

5. ALEX RODRIGUEZ: A-Rod passes Mays on career home run list: Alex Rodriguez’s 661st career homer Thursday night at Yankee Stadium passed Willie Mays for fourth on all-time list, an achievement diminished, of course, by A-Rod’s steroids history. Don’t mean to stigmatize him, but instead of the number 13, shouldn't the back of his uniform have a giant asterisk?

6. GOLF: Fowler wins TPC Sawgrass near Jacksonville: Rickie Fowler won in a playoff Sunday while Tiger Woods sputtered home tied for 69th. Tiger endured a recent breakup with girlfriend Lindsay Vonn but already seems over it. Just saw him walking into his favorite store, Blondes ’R Us.

7. ESPN: Network parting ways with Bill Simmons: ESPN said it won’t renew Bill Simmons' contract amid speculation a big reason is his continuing outspoken animus against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. I love the media saying what a major blow this will be to ESPN. "Um, I think we’ll get by," said the $51 billion network.

8. BOXING: Fallout from the big fight continues: The fallout from Floyd Mayweather's uninspiring win over Manny Pacquiao includes includes class-action lawsuits against Pacquiao for not disclosing his shoulder injury. Pac Man was hurting that night. But not as much as the suckers who spent $100 to watch the borefest on pay-per-view.

9. NHL: Conference semis reaching crescendo: Chicago and Anaheim are in, Tampa Bay can clinch Tuesday, and the Rangers host a Game 7 vs. Washington on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Canada is planning a candlelight vigil for the anticipated continuation of its Stanley Cup drought.

10. HORSE RACING: Countdown 5 days 'til Preakness Stakes: Meaning we have less than a week left to pretend that Kentucky Derby winner American Pharaoh will break horse racing’s near-40-year Triple Crown drought.

Poll result: You want Brady suspended minimum of four games: We asked what would be a fair Deflategate penalty for Tom Brady and a narrow majority of 50.4 percent said a suspension of four or more games. Then it was 17.2% for no suspension, 16.9% for two games, 8.4% for three games and 7.1% for one game.

Poll result: You'd have cheered A-Rod, but feelings are mixed: We asked if you'd have cheered or booed Alex Rodriguez's home run that passed Willie Mays, and it was 50.4 percent cheered, 34.3% booed and 15.3% undecided.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

May 09, 2015

Would you have booed or cheered A-Rod's 661st HR? Poll. Vote now!; plus Tom Brady suspension poll, Fins lose and win, offensive Cavaliers video, 2016 NFL mock draft (no, seriously), sombrero verdict & more

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

1aa1amaytbe1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 9. 1) Floyd Mayweather (pictured) models the new T-shirt his company has put out. Isn't modesty supposed to be a virtue? Furthermore, there are zero boxing historians not on his payroll who'd agree with the message. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Deflategate report implicates Patriots, D-Wade at the Met Gala, sombrero poll, heat on LeBron, local firm sues Pacquiao, new Super Bowl/MLB odds, appreciating Dee Gordon & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins lose, win: The loss? Offensive lineman La'el Collins, whom Miami wooed heavily, signing instead with Cowboys. The win? Having all seven draft choices signed already. Although that's not nearly as big a deal or impressive as it once would have been. Once NFL rookie salary cap kicked in, holdouts became extremely rare.

Offensive Cleveland Cavaliers video: Cavaliers are rightly catching lower-case heat for airing an in-game video being criticized for making light of domestic violence by depicting a Cavs fan throwing his wife/girlfriend across a room for wearing a Bulls jersey. Click here to watch, cringe and wonder who's getting fired today for approving this. Update: Team issued apology for video. Update II: Last night's playoff loss to Bulls and 2-1 series deficit gives Cavs bigger concerns.

1aa1ahassanWhiteside 4th in 'most improved': Out-of-nowhere Heat center Hassan Whiteside finished a distant, disappointing fourth in NBA "most improved" voting with 88 points, trailing winner Jimmy Butler of Bulls (535), Warriors' Draymond Green (200) and Jazz's Rudy Gobert (189).

WOULD YOU HAVE CHEERED OR BOOED A-ROD'S HISTORIC HOME RUN?: [Click on This Is The Cost for my latest column, on how one of the casualties of the Steroids Era is that what should be great baseball moments -- like A-Rod's milestone home run -- become awkward embarrassments for the game]. Original post: Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez's 661st career home run passed legendary Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time 1aa1aarodhrlist Thursday night, but of course the accomplishment is tainted. He sat out the entire 2014 season for steroids use, not his first admission of PEDs. It is not a stretch to think the number 661 is artificially juiced. The Yankee Stadium crowd gave A-Rod a curtain call but even he admitted afterward, "I certainly thought the days of curtain calls for me were long gone. I was a little embarrassed and it was a little awkward." I wonder what the reaction on the road would have been -- or should have been. Say it happened at Marlins Park. Do you appreciatively and respectfully cheer a major historic accomplishment? Is forgiveness in play? Or do you boo a man who clearly cheated to get that record? You would have done what? Vote and say why.

DOLFANS EXPECTING MAJOR BRADY SUSPENSION MAY BE DISAPPOINTED: Click on Is 'Probable' Guilt Enough? for my column on the Wells Report's Deflategate conclusion and what it might mean in terms of NFL punishment of the Patriots and QB Tom Brady. It bears further discussion and amplification 1aa1abradytomhere because I suspect Dolphins fans are expecting -- wrongly, I think -- that the league will bring the hammer down on the Patriots and especially Brady. I won't pander to Dolfans and say otherwise; plenty of others to do the pandering. Three factors by my vantage weigh against a major suspension: 1) Weak, equivocal findings. The report concluded it was "more probable than not" that Brady was at least "generally aware" of the improper activities. "More probable than not" isn't exactly definitive. Will the NFL bring the hammer down on its league champion and star QB based on "maybe"/"likely"? 2) Brady's clean record other than Deflategate. Note that Brady was not implicated or disciplined in the 2007 "Spygate" matter that aimed the hammer at coach Bill Belichick. 3) Did the rule-breaking affect results? No indication it did, certainly not in an AFC Championship Game the Colts lost, 45-7. So, what next? Certainly there will be punishment. The current climate under commissioner Roger Goodell all but assures it. No way the NFL spends time and money on a 109-day independent investigation and then doesn't act on it. Owner Robert Kraft and Belichick are not implicated and very likely won't be disciplined. However the club likely will be fined substantially and be made to forfeit a draft pick that I doubt is a first-rounder but could be. The big question is Brady's punishment. I wrote that I wouldn't suspend him at all based on "probable," but the likelihood may be a small suspension -- based as much on his lack of full cooperation in the Wells investigation as on its findings. I just don't buy the overreaction I am hearing, including Colin Cowherd predicting a "severe" punishment. And the speculation about a possible full-season suspension? Ludicrous. For what it's worth the odds on Brady's punishment via footballbettingcenter.com are: 1 game--2/1 odds; not suspended at all--5/2; 2 games--5/2; 3 games--8/1; and 4-plus games--15/1. If I'm right, and if those odds are, Dolfans and many in the media calling for a major suspension may be disappointed. I'm curious what you think would be fair discipline of Brady. It may be futile, but I challenge Dolfans here to not vote for the discipline they'd prefer for a nemesis/rival, but rather to dispassionately consider the discipline they'd think fair if roles were reversed and, say, the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill were the accused here. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

AQUINAS LEADS NFL HIT PARADE: NFL announced that Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas High was only high school in nation with three players drafted this year: Phillip Dorsett, Rashad Greene and Bobby Hart. Fourteen schools had two players drafted including Miami Central, Norland and Northwestern. Florida led all states this year with 39 former prep players.

IT'S A 2016 NFL MOCK DRAFT. NO, SERIOUSLY: Blame ESPN's Todd McShay for redefining "premature." I'm just passing it along in digest form. His order is based on Football Outsiders' projected team records. The good news? The Dolphins finish 11-5. Woo hoo! Todd's overall No. 1 pick is Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, to the Redskins. Miami, picking 29th, takes Alabama RB Derrick Henry. No Hurricanes in the first round. Also notable, Ohio State DE Joey Bosa -- from St. Thomas Aquinas High and son of ex-Dolphins draftee John -- goes third overall.

Poll result: You may wear a sombrero guilt-free: We asked if it was OK to wear a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo just for fun, and 82.2 percent said yes. Another 8.3% said no because it's insulting to Mexicans, and 9.5% were undecided.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

January 06, 2015

Dolphins hire Tannenbaum; plus my Hall of Fame ballot and, yes, it includes Bonds and Clemens. Would your's? New poll. Vote now!; also gay marriage, fake Beach Boys & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND. 

It's Radio Tuesday: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today after a two-week holiday hiatus, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. A new "Back In My Day" segment is in hand. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 6. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package after a two-week holiday hiatus. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-draft-needs poll, happy birthday Shula, R.I.P. Stuart Scott, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS HIRE TANNENBAUM AS DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL OPS: The Dolphins today hired Mike Tannenbaum, formerly of the Jets, as executive vice president of pro football operations -- the old Bill Parcells role. He reportedly will oversee (and have firing power over) GM Dennis Hickey but not over coach Joe Philbin. Hickey can't be happy, although he reportedly maintains final say over the 53-man roster. What this means: Owner Stephen Ross doesn't quite trust Philbin or Hickey. Dolphins in flux. Again.

On Heat, Panthers: Click on Falling, Rising for today's column by me. It's on how the Heat and Panthers both are headed for a fight just to make the playoffs, and how that's an indignity for one club but a triumph for the other.

MY HALL OF FAME BALLOT INCLUDES BONDS, CLEMENS THIS YEAR: Update: Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz and Biggio elected. I voted for all four. Update 30 minutes before vote announced: The website baseballthinkfactory.org, based on a screening of voters, projects the five inductees today will be, in order of support: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio and (narrowly) Mike Piazza. Original post: The latest inductees into Cooperstown are to be announced today at 2 p.m. I became a Baseball Hall of Fame voter for the first time a year ago, and did not include any "Steroids Era" guys on my ballot. It was personal. I felt my first- 1aa1abondsclemsnsever ballot should be as "clean" as the sport aspires to be. This year, however, I voted for both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (pictured). My 10 votes in all went to, alphabetically: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz. For the record I think Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz will get in. I think Sheffield has a good chance. I think Carlos Delgado and Mike Piazza have a shot. I do not think a sufficient 75 percent of my BBWAA brethren are ready yet to join me on Bonds and Clemens. My thinking on those two: Their career numbers are so extraordinary, so enormous, that they would have been Cooperstown-worthy even without PEDs. (I am much less sure on Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and others). I also believe the Hall of Fame is not the Hall of Sainthood. I further believe that guys like Bonds and Clemens (yes, and Pete Rose) have been punished enough by their previous barring from Cooperstown and by their public shaming. Of course all of that is moot as I fully expect both men to fall well short of the Hall again today. I respect my colleagues who continue take the highest moral ground on this. Hopefully they in turn respect those of us who have come to think otherwise -- at least on Bonds and Clemens. Here's a poll inviting your thoughts on this. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Guard, linebacker top Dolphin draft needs: We asked what position the Dolphins should target with the top pick in next NFL Draft, and among eight choice offensive guard (34.9 percent) and linebacker (27.0%) dominated. Defensive tackle (15.9%) and cornerback (12.6%) were next.

1aa1agaymarriageIT'S ABOUT TIME, FLORIDA: Congratulations to my home state for stepping gingerly into the 21st Century in becoming the 36th state to legalize same-sex marriage. And to Floridian gay couples for finally gaining their equal rights. Who are you, I or the government to tell any loving couple they are second-class citizens? Of course, with gay marriages inevitably will come gay divorces and the spawn of gay-divorce lawyers as a specialty practice. Oh how I wish I were kidding.     

BOYCOTT THE SEMI-BEACH BOYS!: The Beach Boys (sort of) play Thursday night in West Palm Beach, but, if you have tickets, beware. You are getting half the product. I'd ask for my money back. This is the version 1aa1amloveof the Beach Boys hijacked by frontman Mike Love (pictured), who unfortunately owns the group name. He is touring with only one other original Beach Boy, Bruce Johnstone. The group toured last year with all its original living members -- including Al Jardine, David Marks and, of course, the irreplacable Brian Wilson -- but Love essentially fired the other three. Boycott Mike Love. Boycott the fake, sort of, semi-Beach Boys. (Or at least smuggle in a 'WE WANT BRIAN WILSON!' sign).

Check back regularly because we update and add to our latest blogposts often...

November 07, 2014

College footbowl! Here are bowl projections for Hurricanes, Gators, OB and others; plus A-Rod's latest shame & more

1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6. I'm bunkered down at Friday Page HQ today inventing this week's NFL predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's Browns-Bengals pick. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Happy Days for Miami sports (with poll), NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings, Florida governor's race & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

On Heat's first loss: Click on Reality Hasn't Changed for my column from the arena off the Heat's first loss. Losing to very good Houston (and then at Charlotte last night) wasn't a reality check for Miami because the reality is the same now as it was at 3-0. Heat is competitive, not a contender, and the moving on from LeBron James will be a season-long challenge.

1aa1acollfbowlCOLLEGE FOOTBOWL: LET'S GO BOWLING!: The sport's focus funnels to the debut of the historic four-team College Football Playoff, but lest we forget there will be a long parade of 38 bowl games leading up to the Jan. 12 championship game in Arlington, Tex., here are the latest bowl projections involving either state of Florida teams or South Florida-based bowls. They are in chronological order, via ESPN:

1aa1amiabchbowlMiami Beach Bowl -- Brigham Young vs. Cincinnati is today the consensus best guess for the inaugural Dec. 22 game to be played at Marlins Park.

1aa1abocabowlBoca Raton Bowl -- Bowling Green vs. Middle Tennessee or Louisiana Tech vs. Western Michigan are the current projections for the inaugural Dec. 23 game at FAU Stadium.

UCF Knights -- Central Florida is presently predicted to face California or North Carolina in the Dec. 26 St. Petersburg Bowl.

Miami Hurricanes -- UM's current forecast is either to face Utah in the Dec. 27 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex., or to face Louisiana State in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville. 

Florida Gators -- UF is seen at the moment as facing either Boston College or Maryland in the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl in Nashville.

1aa1aorangebowlOrange Bowl Classic -- The Miami landmark, Dec. 31 at Dolphins stadium, is projected to be Clemson vs. either Notre Dame or Alabama, based on the current College Football Playoff rankings.

Florida State Seminoles -- FSU would face Auburn Jan. 1 in the Rose Bowl, in the CFP's 2 vs. 3 semifinal, based on current rankings.

A-ROD'S LATEST SHAME: LIAR, LIAR,REP ON FIRE: Expert reporting this week by Herald colleague Jay Weaver reveals that Yankee Alex Rodriguez, in an under-oath January meeting with DEA agents, 1aa1aarodadmitted his PED involvement with the Coral Gables Biogenesis clinic and Anthony Bosch -- even as he continued his vehement public denials of any wrongdoing. Click here for the story. As always, the indignant, two-faced lying is in some ways worse than the deed itself. The truth, owning up, can be so cleansing for both soul and reputation, and yet A-Rod continued to accuse MLB of a "witch hunt" even after he'd spilled his guts to federal agents, admitting everything and even implicating his own cousin. The indignant, lying A-Rod said he would continue to try to clear his name. Well, that train has left the station, pal. It's too late.  

Poll result: Dolphins in playoffs given best shot: We asked in the previous blogpost which of three things is most likely, and you voted Dolphins make playoffs at 39.1 percent, Canes beat Florida State at 32.1% and Heat reach Eastern finals at 17.7%. The other 11.1% said none of those would happen.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

January 15, 2014

Dolphins' new O.C. hire Lazor: Like or no like? Poll. Vote!; plus Lauren Tannegun, Heat lose 3rd straight, 'LeBroning' video & more

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 16. I'm back down in the Friday Page Dungeon today summoning this week's NFL playoff picks. Is that the Upset Bird I see? What is he smoking? 2) Mel Kiper Jr. in his first Mock Draft has Miami selecting Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio 19th overall. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The A-Rod mess with poll, D.Wade's birthday yacht, NFL Final Four, Golden Globes & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

1aa1laurenshootsLauren's got a gun...: In the news, Lauren Tannehill, hottie wife of Dolphins QB, leaves an AR-15 rifle in a rental car. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). Only readers of this blog know the backstory! We told you on Aug. 1, under the headline, 'Mr. & Mrs. Tannehill are locked and loaded,' that the couple occasionally shoots at a gun range. The Riflewoman is pictured.

PANIC! PANIC? Heat lose 3rd straight, debut Oden, trade Anthony:  Big, weird Wednesday for the Heat. Miami loses third straight game (at Washington) for first time in two years -- all three to teams with losing records. Greg Oden makes long-awaited debut, scores six points in eight minutes. And Heat trade reserve center Joel Anthony and conditional, lottery-protected draft pick for veteran point guard Toney Douglas in three-team deal with Boston/Golden State. LeBron James said, of the three straight L's, "Defensively, we're just not very good right now." No panic, though. The opposite. "We love adversity more than anything, " noteth the King.

DOLPHINS MAKE PROMISING O.C. HIRE IN LAZOR, BUT G.M. SEARCH LAGS: Bill Lazor (pictured) is the 1aa1billlazorDolphins' new offensive coordinator. He'd been the Eagles' quarterbacks coach last season credited with developing Nick Foles, and has a pretty solid coaching tree, having worked under Dan Reeves, Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren and Chip Kelly. (If only Miami's search for a general manager were going as well). Lazor said he's "extremely excited." He was noncomittal on the offense he'll run or his staff plans, but did say he'd call plays. He said Miami has a "strong nucleus" in place toward a wnning team, and said he's excited to work with Ryan Tannehill, saying he has "a lot of ability." Lazor spoke highly of coach Joe Philbin, crediting him as why he accepted the job. Click on Lazor Focus for my column on the hiring. Meantime what are your initial thoughts? You'll note the poll has no option for "too soon to say"; that goes without saying. None of us knows if this is a great hire. We're just looking for a gut feel based on what you know or have heard of the new guy. Vote and say why.

1aa1alebroning'LEBRONING' SWEEPS NATION IN 'HONOR' OF KING JAMES' FLOPPING: Remembering "planking"? Golf fans may recall "Dufnering." Surely most know of "Tebowing." Well, welcome "LeBroning" into the world of

1aa1alebroningleb 1aa1alebroningtInternet memes. Spawned in high-school hallways by bored teens whose life's goal is to do something that might go viral, #LeBroning is the act of intentionally flopping to the ground after barely being touched. Click HERE for a short compilation video. This may be the ultimate in James' career. Sure he's won MVP awards. Yeah he's won champioonships. But is there a greater honor -- a greater indication of worldwide celebrity -- than being mocked on the Internet?

1aa1heatwh14ON HEAT'S WHITE HOUSE VISIT: You may have heard by now that the Heat was honored at the White House on Tuesday for its 2013 NBA championship. Pictured at right: The most powerful man in the world, standing next to President Barack Obama. I watched the ceremony and wasn't even sure Obama was the most powerful president in the room. That was just before Pat Riley issued an executive order 1aa1dwadesneaksauthorizing missile strikes on Iranian nuclear plants. Pictured left: The sneakers Dwayne Wade wore to the White house, because nobody had the nerve to tell him not to.

POOR 'CLARK THE CUB': Chicago Cubs fans, last happy in 1908, are piling on against the club's new 1aa1clarkmascot, Clark the Cub (pictured). A Chicago Tribune poll finds 74 percent against the poor young fella. Little-known fact: Clark the Cub was named after longtime Miami Herald baseball writer Clark Spencer. Unconfirmed speculation: Clark (the Cub, not Spencer) is the illegitimate son resulting from a one-night stand between a sexually freewheeling Billy the Marlin and Cindy Bear, Yogi's ex. Suggested new marketing theme for the unpopular mascot: "At Least He's Better Than Steve Bartman!"

Poll result: Little support for A-Rod: We asked in the last blogpost how you feel about Alex Rodriguez 's fight against baseball, and 71.7 percent said they did not believe A-Rod and supported his full-season suspension. Only 15.6% believed A-Rod and felt MLB was out to get him. Another 12.7% were undeciced.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

January 13, 2014

A-Rod poll: What do you believe? Vote now!; plus D.Wade's b-day yacht, radio, NFL Final Four's quiet Cinderella-ness, "Who are you wearing?" & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back-in studio today for my ninth national appearance on the Dan Le Batard Show, airing on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket from 3-7 p,.m. and on ESPN from 4-7. Ears welcome.

1aa1heat13wh1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 14. Heat visit the White House later today. Wonder if Obama will remark how he wishes he'd had as good a year as Miami? Photo is from last year's WH visit. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with the merry lunacy of Le Batard's Ballotgate. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Divisional Round playoffs, Super Bowl rooting-interest poll & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Click on Damage Is Done for today's latest column by me, on Alex Rodriguez's fight against baseball, a fight Quixotic but for its lack of nobility. The stain of steroids is not something A-Rod, or his sport, will ever be past. 

TAKING SIDES IN THE ALEX RODRIGUEZ MESS: Sunday night's 60 Minutes interview with Anthony Bosch, the Biogenesis clinic founder, was damning to Alex Rodriguez as you knew it would be. If you beieve 1aa1arodBosch, who is cooperating with Major League Baseball's investigation, then chances are you have little or no doubt A-Rod used various performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and that that his resulting 162-game suspension (reduced from 212 by an arbitrator) is justified. If your sympathies instead are pro A-Rod, then chances are you think Bosch is a lying snitch and that MLB is pursuing a vendetta against Rodriguez, who has denied the allegations and may sue to have his suspension overturned. Chances are, either Bosch or A-Rod is the liar here, without a lot of gray area in between. Maybe our poll question should simply have been "Who do you believe?," although I think the poll choices pretty much cut to that chase. Vote and say why.

D.WADE'S BIRTHDAY YACHT: One of the many ways Heat stars and celeb-athletes in general are
1aa1dwadebdaydifferent than the rest of us is that they throw themselves lavish 1aa1dwadebdaygroupbirthday parties, calling to mind the brilliant two-syllable Muhammad

Ali poem; "Me? Wheee!" Don't get me wrong. I'm not just buying Publix ice-cream cakes over here. I have spent big for a party or two, such as the time I rented out an out an oceanfront hotel ballroom and complained about the cost for a year. But Heat players -- they do it up. Chris Bosh once touted his own birthday with live camels in a Sahara motif. Yesterday, Dwyane Wade topped 1aa1dwadebdayboshhim with a three-story yacht custom-wrapped in his personal logo. Dwyane turns 32 this coming Friday but celebrated early. Pictured are the yacht, Wade and teammates, and in a photo pretty much epitomiziing The Good Life: Bosh in a tux, aboard a yacht, drawing on a fine cigar against the Miami skyline.

 

NFL FINAL FOUR: GLAMOUR QUARTET, BUT UNDERDOG QUALITY, TOO: Patriots at Broncos and 49ers at Seahawks bring a legit, heavyweight quality to the AFC and NFC Championship Games. The NFL and 1aa1bradymanning 1aa1bradymanning2TV networks undoubtedly are thrilled, and so should fans be. Ten Super Bowl championships are represented by the Final Four. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning (pictured left) is about as good as it gets for an individual duel, and San Fran-Seattle (right) probably is the league's fiercest team rivalry at the moment. Peel back a layer and see an underdog aspect here too, though. Seattle has never won a Super Bowl in its 38 seasons, and its only SB appearance (2005) saw 'Hawks fans bitterly feeling robbed by the officiating. The other three teams in the Final Four are pedigreed, but with a film of dust on their shine. The Patriots last won it all in 2004, the Broncos in 1998 and the 49ers in 1994. Their fans aren't starving like Dolfans are, no, but it's been awhile for each. That makes this a power Final Four but with an underlying shade of Cinderella. By the way, I went 3-1 overall on my Divisional Round picks (missed on Carolina), and 1-2-1 against the spread (had San Diego with points; Seattle game pushed).

Poll result: You want a Denver-Seattle Super Bowl, and a Broncos win: We aked in the last blogpost who you're rooting for of the final eight NFL playoff teams. Extracting the surviving Final Four it's Broncos 29.9 percent, Seahawks 19.0, Patriots 9.9 and 49ers 7.4. (The now-ousted teams were Panthers 21.7%, Chargers 6.5, Colts 3.2 and Saints 2.7).

Updated Super Bowl odds: Via Bovada, it's Seahawks a slight fave at 19-10, with Broncos 2-1, 49ers 3-1 and Patriots 9-2. Early lines look like Seahawks over Broncos by 2.5; Broncos over 49ers by 2.5; 49ers over Patriots by 3; and Seahawks over Patriots by 6.

"WHO ARE YOU WEARING!?": Golden Globes co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had a funny line Sunday night, thanking "all the women and gay men who are watching." Awards show audiences I guess skew like that, at least by broad stereotype. They might have added, "...and married men whose wives control the 1aa1bissetremote." That'd be me. My wife informed me last night we have entered "awards season." (I did not know there was such a thing, but have a feeling it's going to be a lonng season). The Globes combine film and television. The TV people are identifiable by their bad seats; some of the TV winners are still making their way to the stage. Highlight of the evening for me: an apparently drunk or stoned Jacqueline Bisset (pictured) floating onstage in a trance, in an appearance that answered the question whether she is still alive. (Answer: barely). The only household rule when I watch an awards show with my wife is I can't constantly make fun of the red-carpet preamble and "Who are you wearing?" -- maybe the most absurd question ever invented. So I vent in my blog instead. "Who are you wearing!?" In other words, give [Your Designer Here] a goose of free national advertising. "Who are you wearing!?" In other words, let's shamelessly promote the idea that beauty and high fashion are above all, even though the cost of it makes them beyond most. "Who are you wearing!?" I don't give a crap, because I'd just as soon see you in a T-shirt, jeans and no makeup. Bulletin: About one-third of the the dresses look halfway to hideous, and all tuxedos pretty much look alike.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

January 01, 2014

What was biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2013? New poll. Vote now!; plus Jeff Fireland, Cote's Top 10 New Year's resolutions & more

1aa1a20141) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 2. I'm back in the Friday Page Dungeon today divining my NFL first-round playoff predictions. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins who-to-fire poll, D.Wade's surprise child & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

A message from me to you: To all our readers, longtime and recent, print and online, to our Blog Family, radio listeners and followers on Twitter, Instagram and Vine ... thank you! You made it a great past year and make me look forward to 2014.

WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2013?: We asked you previously to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (results below). Now we invite you to select the 2013 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from an alphabetically presented top 10 of my choosing. You may vote for your top three (3). I offer no synopsis beyond what's in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Remember, you can choose your top three. Ready? Vote!

Mea culpa: One glaring poll omission: As many of you are pointing out, the above poll is missing UM's ACC championship and NCAA Tournament run in men's basketball. That's my fault all the way; it just slipped between the cracks. Doubt it would have threatened the top vote-getters here, but it absolutely should have been in the poll. Sorry, Jim Larranaga! (I also could well have included either of two international soccer matches that drew huge crowds to Dolphins stadium).

MARATHON BOMBINGS TOP NATIONAL STORY: You voted from a list of The Associated Press' top 10 national sports stories of 2013, and your clear top three were the Boston Marathon bombings (30.9%), the Heat's second straight NBA title (19.6%) and the Aaron Hernandez arrest (15.8%). (I had the same top three). Others in order were Lance Armstrong admits to doping; NFL $765 million concussion settlement; Red Sox win World Series; Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax; Baseball/A-Rod PED scandal; Ravens win Super Bowl; and Auburn football resurgence.

1aa1fripixNFL PIX / WEEK 16: ENDING STRONG: Hectic holiday time to blame (again) for posting this a couple of days later than usual... NFL predix: Went a nifty 13-3 overall and a just-as-buoyant 10-5-1 against the spread to end our regular season. Where was this all year? On to the playoffs with a tailwind of mo'!

Poll result: Ireland, Sherman bear brunt of Dolfan frustration: Dolfans want change in the wake of the late-season collapse and I asked in the previous blogpost who they'd most like to fire (if anyone). The bull's-eye was on GM Jeff Ireland (53.6%) and offensive chief Mike Sherman (23.6%). Objection was mild toward coach Joe Philbin (9.8%) and owner Stpehen Ross (9.3%), and negligible toward defensive chief Kevin Coyle (2.2%) and QB Ryan Tannehill (1.5%).

GREG COTE'S TOP 10 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2014:

1aa1a2014resolutions1. Lose 145 pounds.

2. Cut down on cigars by smoking only one at a time.

3. Admit that being Platinum Member of Functional Alcoholics Society may not be good thing.

4. Redouble efforts to recycle. Not cans and bottles. Column ideas.

5. Curb temper issues; limit road-rage incidents to one a month.

6. Do as credit-card machines rightly suggest and Remove Card Quickly.

7. Stop answering Jeff Ireland's frantic draft-day phone calls.

8. Increase blog readership with daily $100,000 giveaways.

9. Engage Le Batard in profanity-laced on-air brawl.

10. Tackle terrorism.

What y'all got planned?

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost....

August 07, 2013

Dolphins fantasy rankings offer glum outlook; plus Ronaldo!, D-Wade's politics, Ross speaks, Mannings rap vid, Hugh Douglas & more

New blogpost featuring 'PS2: Dolphins at Jaguars' coming later today. Watch for it!

1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 9. LeBron James reported for jury duty yesterday in his hometown of Akron, Ohio (Summit County) but was not called. Updates as needed. Also, Heat officially signed Greg Oden. Let the waiting begin! 2) So much for deference to the champs. New NBA schedule does Heat no favors. Players not thrilled to be away for both Thanksgiving (at Cleveland day before, at Toronto day after) and at the Lakers on Christmas Day. 3) Great show the other night by Jacksonville indie-electronica band T3AM at Lucky's. Not my favorite genre of music but they win you over. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLB drops hammer on A-Rod, the other Cris Carter & more. 5) Join us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

"Does Michael Beasley being caught with pot even qualify as news? It's like me me being caught with a donut." --Greg Cote

WHY NFL FANTASY DRAFTS ARE UNLIKELY TO BE DOLPHINS-HEAVY: Sports Illustrated has trotted out its 2013 NFL Fantasy Top 300 and from a Miami perspective, for what it's worth, the rankings are pretty 1aa1fantasybleak. The eight Dolphins to make it, in order: 58th overall--Mike Wallace, pictured (23rd among WRs); 67th--Lamar Miller (26th RB); 140th-1aa1mikew-Brian Hartline (56th WR); 159th--Daniel Thomas (53rd RB); 191st--Dustin Keller (16th TE); 196th--Ryan Tannehill (25th QB); 266th--Brandon Gibson (86th WR); and 292nd--Dan Carpenter (25th PK). Four bad signs: 1) Your big off-season acquisition, a supposedly an elite receiver, projected as a mid-round pick in an eight-team league. 2) Your top running back, in a competition that generally puts a premium on RBs, ranks 26th in a 32-team league. 3) Your rising young QB, even with receiving help, ranks 25th. 4) And your defense, supposedly a team strength, is -- rather stunningly, I'd say -- not among the 20 defense/special-teams to make the top 300. We'll see how this fantasy compares with the reality ahead. For now, suffice to say you'll have your pick of Dolphins in most rounds come draft day. Results of ESPN's latest mock-fantasy draft also are Dolphins-shy. It's a 16-round draft for a 10-team PPR league, meaning 260 selections, and the only Dolphins picked were RB Miller (4th round, 35th overall); WR Wallace (5th/47th) and WR Hartline (13th/127th).

1aa1dwadetrayvonWADE, SONS ADORN EBONY'S TRAYVON COVER: Heat star Dwyane Wade and his two young sons Zaire and Zion -- both wearing hoodies -- adorn the regional cover (pictured) of Ebony magazine's new Trayvon Martin issue. Wade has been outspoken in seeking justice for Martin, the Florida teen killed by neighborhood-watch person George Zimmerman, who recently was acquitted.

STEPHEN ROSS SPEAKS: Dolphins owner held a (fairly) rare news conference yesterday. Rather than a tedious transcript here are a few highlights. On Ryan Tannehill: "We believe and hope we've selected the right quarterback. I love the guy." On his GM: "I think he's doing a good job. I'm committed to Jeff Ireland." On Mike Pouncey's 'Free Hernandez' hat: "Obviously I don't condone it." Ross also said the club could return to Tallahassee in 2014 for another attempt at stadium-renovation funds, and that he plans to name a new club president/CEO by next month.

FABULOUS RONALDO LEADS REAL MADRID TO MIAMI TITLE: The sublime Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice Wednesday night and Real Madrid beats Chelsea 3-1 to win the inaugural International Champions Cup at Dolphins stadium. I felt watching Ronaldo like I do watching LeBron: There is only one best player in the game, and everybody knows who it is. Including that that player. Click on Joe's Vision for my column from the game. ..... Original post: We tend to be myopic. Jingoistic. We Americans tend to think that "sports" means the NFL or baseball or NBA. Locally it's all about the 1aa1chelsea 1aa1madridDolphins, Heat and Canes. Well, no it isn't. Not in America, and not locally. There is more. We are bigger that that. Comes a refreshing reminder tonight, when Dolphins stadium will fill with soccer fans for the conclusion of the first Guinness International Champions Cup, with Spain's Real Madrid vs. England's Chelsea for the title. (After a third-place match between U.S. club L.A. Galaxy and Italy's AC Milan). I'll happily be there, watching, enjoying and columnizing. This eight-team tournament has arguably been the most impressive collection of soccer talent ever seen in America, and, yes, I say that having covered the 1994 U.S. World Cup. It's big that Miami got the final games. Tonight's match will makes headlines across Europe and the world.

1aa1manningsrapON THE MANNINGS' RAP VIDEO: Peyton and Eli Manning sort-of rapping in a spoof video called "Football On Your Phone" may be the worst performance by NFL white players since Riley Cooper at a Kenny Chesney concert. The Mannings are pictured, looking about as gangsta as they possibly can. The vid is a pimp for DirecTV, designed-to-go-viral advertising, making it worse. Click HERE to watch and listen, both of which are a chore.

ON HUGH DOUGLAS' TIRADE: Hugh Douglas, the former Eagle now of ESPN's Numbers Never Lie, spewed racially at show colleague Michael Smith (also African-American) at a House of Blues in Orlando while in town for a National Association of Black Journalists convention. Called him "Uncle Tom" and a "house [N-word]." (How to embarrass your association in one easy step!) Hugh apparently doesn't think Michael is black enough. Well, who on Earth thinks Hugh Douglas, whom I'd call an Uncle Dumb, is a journalist? Throw him off the air permanently. While you're at it, ESPN, cancel Numbers Never Lie. It sucks.

Poll result: Serious split on A-Rod's punishment: We asked about Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension for PEDs in the Biogenesis case, and 37.7 percent called that too harsh while 31.9% said too lenient. Another 26.3% called the punishment about right and 4.1% weren't sure.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...