August 25, 2015

Major annual computer analysis projects stunningly rosy outlook for Dolphins; details here; plus rate my fantasy team. Poll, last day to vote!; also sabotage of Schnellenberger's Hall of Fame chances continues, note to anti-government crowd & more

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

No radio today: I'll be off today along with vacationing Dan LeBatard and Stugotz as Jorge Sedano continues to fill in for them on The Ticket Miami. Sedano asked me to sit in with him today but conflicting Herald duties will prevent.

1) It is TUESDAY, AUGUST 25. School's back in session in Broward, as anyone who has confronted morning traffic this week was reminded. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins-Panthers and Rappin' Joe, Entercom's undercut of local radio, NFL popularity verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' project: ICYMI,the Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click FINS AT 50 to access entire project and all its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players!) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for that honor. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with Shula, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas.

NFL COMPUTER PROJECTION OFFERS BRIGHTS NEWS FOR DOLPHINS: Our friends at PredictionMachine.com offer their respected annual forecast of the coming NFL season based on its 1aa1apredixcomputers playing the entire season schedule 50,000 times (so you don't have to), and there is good news for the Dolphins. Spoiler alert: They say Green Bay will win the Super Bowl 31-28 over Indianapolis. Of greater interest in Miami, they have the Dolphins as a playoff team, albeit a No. 5 seed losing in the wild-card round to Baltimore. Their computerized win projections for the AFC East: Patriots 10.0, Dolphins 9.1, Bills 7.9 and Jets 6.5. They say Miami has a 56.9 percent likelihood of a winning record, 28.2% to win the division, 37.2% to be a wild-card team, and 4.8% to win the Super Bowl. But dig this (as we used to say): The computers project Miami has more than a 50 percent likelihood to win 13 games. Seriously. Here is PredictionMachine.com's game-by-game analysis, a computerized breakdown of Miami's most- to least-likely wins: 73.1% win likelihood--G2 at Jaguars; 69.4--G4 vs Jets; 65.7--G7 vs Texans; 63.7--G6 at Titans; 62.0--G14 vs Giants; 61.3--G3 vs Bills; 61.2--G13 vs Ravens; 59.4--G12 at Jets; 56.9--G1 at Redskins; 55.8--G11 vs Cowboys; 54.3--G15 at Chargers; 52.6--G9 at Bills; 50.2--G16 vs Colts; 50.0--G17 vs Patriots; 44.4--G10 at Eagles; and 36.6--G8 at Patriots.

1aa1adraftBLIND-RATE GREG'S LOBOS' FANTASY DRAFT:  My 10-team friends 'n family 1aa1aglobosfantasy football league held its annual draft on Sunday, a technological wonder involving Skyping from Washington DC, Jacksonville and Orlando. Now I invite you (as I do
every year) to rate what you think is the best team in our league -- the one you'd most like to have -- based on each team's first four picks. I know that's tough but who said life was fair? Which quartet would you most like to start a team with? It's a standard PPR (point-per-reception) league hosted by ESPN.com. Teams in the poll are listed in the draft order. This is a blind list so you don't know which team is mine, Greg's Lobos, but of course I'll tell you after today's final day of voting who all the teams belong to. It was my draft, now it's your verdict. Vote and say why.

THE WELL-INTENDED SABOTAGING OF HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER CONTINUES: Recently I wrote a column exhorting the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame to bend its
1aa1ahowardeligibility rules to induct Howard Schnellenberger; click on Let Howard In! to read. But in that column I warned: "A well-meaning group of supporters led by major FAU booster John Sasko has undertaken a letter-writing and media campaign to exert pressure to induct their guy. The trouble is, this effort is rubbing wrong some of the very people who need to be convinced to make an exception for Schnellenberger." Update: The public campaign by the "Howard Schnellenberger Hall of Fame Committee," i.e. Sasko and Eugene R. Dunn of Medford, NY, continues, and continues to do a disservice to Schnellenberger's chances. The campaign is well-meaning but stridently tone deaf and plainly hurting Howard's chances. The presidents and athletic directors at Miami, FAU and Louisville should be working proper channels for this to happen. A loud, rogue campaign by two boosters isn't helping. It is doing the opposite.

1aa1afiremanANTI-GOVERNMENT ... EXCEPT WHEN YOU NEED IT: I love this photo because it perfectly encapsulates so much of what I believe about the "anti-government" crowd. Here is a man who wearing a T-shirt that reads "Lower Taxes + Less Government = More Freedom" as he thanks local firefighters for saving his home. Perfect! People want lower taxes ... except when they need what those taxes subsidize. People love to shout, "Get government out of our lives!" ... except when their potholed street needs repaving. People are funny.

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

August 09, 2015

Here are your choices as Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes of All-Time!; plus new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Marlins, NFL, Hurricanes, golf, soccer, Heat, Trump; also latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 10. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, was off but will return in six days. 2) Click on Let Howard In! for our latest column, which makes the case why Howard Schnellenberger should be in the College Football Hall of Fame. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes poll, ESPN college 100, Jon Stewart's finale, Republican debate & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

"The most unusual, shocking thing I saw in the Dolphins scrimmage Friday night? That's easy. FIU's football stadium filled with people." --Greg Cote

1aa1airvibnmYOUR TOP 10 GREATEST HURRICANES OF ALL-TIME: We invited you to select, from our hand-picked list of 30 finalists, the Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes football players of all-time and more than 5,600 votes were cast -- with mostly impressive results. I think the Top 10 is legit, although I do think two men relegated to the second tier, Bennie Blades and Jim Otto, deserved a little more love. Rankings are based on overall percentage of total top-10 ballots that included the player. Your Top 10:

1. Michael Irvin, WR, 1985-87 (pictured): 89.9 percent.

2. Ray Lewis, LB, 1993-95: 83.1%.

3. Ed Reed, S, 1998-01: 82.8%.

4. Warren Sapp, DT, 1992-94: 66.0%.

5. Jerome Brown, DT, 1983-86: 61.6%.

6. Sean Taylor, S, 2001-03: 57.6%.

7. Edgerrin James, RB, 1996-98: 56.9%.

8. Jim Kelly, QB, 1979-82: 56.0%.

9. Ted Hendricks, LB, 1966-68: 54.5%.

10. Bernie Kosar, QB, 1983-84: 42.8%.

The second 10: DT Cortez Kennedy 41.4, QB Ken Dorsey 41.0, DT Russell Maryland 36.8, QB Vinny Testaverde 33.9, S Bennie Blades 28.7, RB Ottis Anderson 25.5, C Jim Otto 17.3, RB Clinton Portis 16.2, RB Duke Johnson 15.2, KR Devin Hester 13.9.

The others: RB Chuck Foreman 13.6, WR Santana Moss 13.2, QB Gino Torretta 13.0, LB Jonathan Vilma 11.6, QB George Mira Sr. 10.2, QB Steve Walsh 10.2, FB Don Bosseler 4.1, WR Jim Dooley 2.1, RB Eddie Dunn 0.5, CB Burgess Owens 0.4.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 9): 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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Suh impresses (shocker!) in Fins scrimmage; preseason on deck: With preseason opener in three days, this Thursday at Chicago, Dolphins held a full scrimmage at FIU Friday night and the takeaway was Ndamukong Suh dominating Miami's interior offensive line. Our three-way summary, with apologies to N.W.A.: Straight Outta Guards.

2. MARLINS: Fish are worst in MLB, and now Jose is hurting, too: Marlins ended a six-game losing skid Sunday but still are only 6-17 since All-Star break, have sunk to worst record in baseball, and now ace Jose Fernandez -- the bright spot -- is headed to the 15-day DL with shoulder soreness. So how's that managerial switch to non-manager Dan Jennings working out, Jeffrey Loria?

3. NFL: Preseason begins in Canton: It was Vikings over Steelers 14-3 last night in annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, O., and nobody is happier for games than besieged commissioner Roger Goodell after an unending torrent of Ray Rice, arrests and Deflategate. Whoever thought the games themselves would be the welcome distraction?

4. HALL OF FAME: Seau leads latest football inductions: Junior Seau posthumously led Saturday's eight-man induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, O. Another inductee, Jerome Bettis, told a reporter he was inspired late in his career by a Miami Herald column by Greg Cote that called him "Hall of Almost." (You're welcome, Jerome). 

5. HURRICANES: Who besides Kaaya will stand up and stand out?: With practice underway and Sept. 5 season opener now less than a month away, ESPN.com's preseason Top 100 players in college football listed only one Hurricane -- quarterback Brad Kaaya at No. 97. Other Canes rising may determine whether the heat on AL Golden eases or intensifies.

6. GOLF: PGA Championship set to tee off: The PGA Championship, the season's fourth and last major, begins this Thursday in Wisconsin with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy set to return from his basketball injury. Tiger Woods also is playing. Remember when the odds of his winning a major were better than the odds he wouldn't make the cut?

7. NFL: First court appearance this week in Brady vs. league: This Wednesday is first scheduled court appearance for Tom Brady and Roger Goodell in Brady's lawsuit vs. NFL to rescind his four-game Deflategate suspension. The way the American legal system works, figure there may be a verdict soon after Brady retires.

8. SOCCER: EPL kicks off across the pond: Increasingly popular in America, the English Premier League kicked off this weekend. Don't expect many surprises, though. The league is top-heavy with only four or five teams considered to be realistic championship contenders. We have a phrase in the U.S. for that kind of predictability and lack of parity: "the NBA."

9. HEAT: No Miami players on Team USA roster: USA Basketball and coach Mike Krzyzewski released a list of 34 players, led by LeBron James, invited to this week's minicamp in Las Vegas. Notably absent: Any Heat players. Dwyane Wade was not selected. Chris Bosh might have been but still is recuperating from his blood clot scare.

10. DONALD TRUMP: The Donald doesn't disappoint in first debate: Ten leading Republicans gathered in Cleveland for their first presidential debate but, really, it was Donald Trump and nine other guys. Bumper sticker: 'Honk If You've Been Insulted by Donald Trump.'

Missing the HB10 cut: R.I.P., Frank Gifford, 84. ..... Floyd Mayweather says his final fight will be Sept. 12. Date of his final fight after that not yet announced. ..... Little League World Series regionals underway but, with no Mo'Ne Davis, do we care? ..... LPGA pioneer Louise Suggs dies. ..... American teen Katie Ledecky shines at world swimming championships in Russia. ..... 49ers cut troubled Aldon Smith. ..... Hurricanes women's basketball on exhitbition tour in Europe. ..... Finally, more than 10,000 people filled an arena in Seattle to watch two teams of video gamers compete. No, Seriously.

WEIGHING THE FISH (110 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10- 1aa1afishweighgames (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking, including the traded Morse. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race drawn close now by Stanton's continuing injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 110 games (actually 111, at 43-68):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @100

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                350.9    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   316.6   3

4  Christian Yelich        272.6   5

5  Jacob Realmuto         246.4    4

6  Martin Prado              244.9   6

7  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   7

8  Justin Bour                 207.9    8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              183.5   9

10  Derek Dietrich          143.1   --

11  Michael Morse          115.4   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 2.

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

August 08, 2015

Who are the Top 10 greatest Hurricanes football players of all-time? Poll. Close. Last day to vote!; plus ESPN's college 100, Jon Stewart's farewell, Republican debate & more

1) It is SATURDAY, AUGUST 8. R.I.P. former news anchor Peter Jennings, 67, taken by lung cancer. 2) Click on Let Howard In! for our latest column, which makes the case why Howard Schnellenberger should be in the College Football Hall of Fame. 3) Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, is taking the week off. However we'll have our blog-exclusive Hot Button Top 10 here as usual on Sunday. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 10 Greatest Dolphins of All-Time results, reunions and Key West & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

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

WHO ARE THE TOP 10 GREATEST HURRICANES IN MIAMI FOOTBALL HISTORY?: We just completed the Dolphins version of this poll (results in previous blogpost) and now it's your turn, Hurricanes fans. I found
1aa1acanessmoke 1aa1acanesuarriving at a 30-man Fins ballot much easier than here. Not only has UM football been going on some 30 years longer than the Dolphins, but in college you have only two or three seasons to judge a player, not a long career. So admittedly our 30 Canes finalists may not be a perfect list. No doubt an omitted name or two may jump out at you. We did our best to span the eras and not leave out deserving players from a time we recall in black-and-white, which forced us to omit more recent players we would have liked to include. At any rate, scan our alphabetical ballot and vote for your Top 10. Call it "greatest " players, "favorite," "most important," whatever -- the criteria is yours. I ask, though, that you give more weight to what these guys did while at UM than to their subsequent NFL careers or lack of. OK, ready? Vote! And then check back often to monitor evolving results.

Remember, you may vote for up to 10 players and are encouraged to do so!

Deciphering results in a 10-vote poll: A player's maximum voting percentage above (if everyone casts the full 10 votes) is 10 percent. Multiply the percentage by 10 to get the number of ballots including that player. In other words, a player at 5.2% is being included on slightly more than half of all ballots.

3 NOLES, 1 CANE, 1 GATOR IN ESPN'S TOP 100: ESPN.com's preseason Top 100 players in college football is complete (click here for list), and the five state of Florida guys in it are: No. 4--Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III; No. 10--FSU DB Jalen Ramsey; No. 39--FSU RB Dalvin Cook; No. 97--Miami QB Brad Kaaya; and No. 98--FSU OT Roderick Johnson. Ohio State dominates rankings including No. 1 overall with DE Joey Bosa from St. Thomas Aquinas.

ON JON STEWART, REPUBLICAN DEBATE: Interesting juxtaposition of major, must-watch TV events last night with the first Republican presidential debate followed immediately by Jon Stewart's final 1aa1ajonstewartepisode of 1aa1adonaldtrumpThe Daily Show on Comedy Central. (Watch Stewart's entire last show here). I was amazed to remember and appreciate how many careers Stewart's show has launched. More than just liberals (but, admittedly, mostly liberals) will miss Stewart. I always considered him an equal-opportunity skewerer with a neutral nose for bulls----, but I'm sure many -- likely including last night's 10 Republican debaters -- might not agree. The debate reaffirmed that Stewart is leaving a year too soon, because presidential politics is smack in his wheelhouse. Quick debate thoughts: Donald Trump stole the show with cartoonery, as was his intent. The clown-candidate is a fascinating study as he unabashedly divides America and inflames partisan politics by calling opponents idiots and offending in the name of honesty. Ted Cruz is plain scary. I was somewhat impressed by Ben Carson, who seemed to get shortchanged on airtime. I thought Sons of Miami Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio both did pretty well. For me Bush and Chris Christie, who is reasonably moderate, may be the GOP's most electable guys, or certainly the most palatable to Democrats and independents. As for anybody who thinks Trump is electable, sober up and get back on your meds. (Click on FiveThirtyEight.com to read a very smart analysis of Trump's vulnerability by Nate Silver). 

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

August 02, 2015

The new Hot Button Top10: Dolphins, Jose, Canes, Brady, Heat, Howard, Seau, Cecil the Lion, women coaches; plus the 5 most impressive streaks in Miami sports history & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, AUGUST 2. Happy new month, all! 2) Baseball history: Dodger Clayton Kershaw vs. Angel Mike Trout tonight will mark the first pitch in MLB history thrown by one reigning league MVP to another. Seems hard to believe, but pitchers rarely win MVP. Kershaw was first in NL since Bob Gibson in 1968. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' refreshing bravado and Training Camp Primer, Fartgate, Tom Brady legacy poll, Jose Fernandez, Marlins trades and Weighing The Fish & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Random Evidence: Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package.

Marlins deal Haren: Marlins met MLB trade deadline by dealing pitcher Dan Haren to Cubs for two Double-A prospects, pitcher Ivan Pineyro and infielder Elliot Soto. Haren had pitched well but was a pending free agent; the trade was no surprise.

Dolphins' uncommon optimism: The franchise hasn't made the playoffs since 2008 or won in the postseason since 2000 but its latest editon is all fired up and all but guaranteeing the playoffs in '15. Click on Refreshing Bravado for my column off the start of training camp.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 2): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (posted early this week) 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: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Playoffs or bust! Big talk as training camp opens: Stephen Ropss, Joe Philbon and Ryan Tannehill, et al, exuded confidence and all but guaranteed the playoffs as Dolphins camp began on Thursday. The bravado was refreshing to hear, but, coming from a team that hasn't won a playoff game in 14 years, it also sounded a little like your girlfriend smack-talking Ronda Rousey.

2. MARLINS: Fernandez goes for home win-streak record Sunday: Jose Fernandez, 15-0 at Marlins Park, takes the mound Sunday vs. Padres trying to equal the MLB record for most consecutive home victories to start one's career. It's also "Bark in the Park" day. Opponents haven't bothered or derailed Jose at home. Let's see if a bunch of yapping dogs can.

3. HURRICANES: UM opens football practice on Thursday: Coach Al Golden begins his fifth year leading The U, but, coming off a 6-7 season, fan patience toward Golden is minimal. To give you an example, I hear disgruntled boosters have arranged for a plane to pull a 'Fire Golden' banner Thursday in gloomy anticipation of a disappointing first practice. 

4. NFL: Brady still fighting as Goodell denies Deflategate appeal: Patriots QB Tom Brady remains under a four-game suspension but is taking his case to federal court, which will hear arguments Aug. 12 and 19. So it's official: They truly have made a federal case of whether Brady was aware of infinitesimally under-inflated footballs that had zero bearing on any outcome. 

5. MARLINS: Fish are sellers (of course) at trade deadline: A flurry of baseball trades to beat the MLB deadline included Miami trading away five players -- starting pitchers Dan Haren and Mat Latos among them -- and getting all young prospects in return. Deals were expected, and less a fire sale than smart business. Rotation is thin now, though. Have they told you yet? You're starting Tuesday.

6. HEAT: Team makes trades, sets preseason schedule: Heat announced its preseason schedule (and thus Chris Bosh's comeback) would begin Oct. 4. Team also made minor roster moves, trading Zoran Dragic and releasing Henry Walker after earlier trading Shabazz Napier. Thanks for the memories, guys. I'd be specific, but I can't think of any offhand.

7. HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER: Tribute dinner planned for coaching icon: Miami Touchdown Club is hosting a tribute dinner for Schnellenberger, 81, this Thursday at Signature Grand in Davie. I don't wanna say Howard has had a full career, but if they detailed all of his various accomplishments, I'd estimate that Thursday's dinner would end around early October.

8. JUNIOR SEAU: Controversy overshadows Hall induction in Canton: Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct its latest class this coming Saturday, overshadowed by the Hall's decision to not let the family of the late Junior Seau speak on his behalf. Not sure which is worse. That heartless decision. Or the subsequent refusal to budge from it.

9. WOMEN COACHES: Females making sudden inroads with male teams: Three major pro men's teams (San Antonio Spurs, Arizona Cardinals and Sacramento Kings) now have female assistant coaches. Next step on the progress chart: When those kind of hirings are so common they're barely newsworthy. 

10. CECIL THE LION: Has hunting ever seemed less sporting?: A Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, is in trouble for illegally hunting and killing the beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe and now faces extradition to face charges. (See more on this below). Authorities aren't buying the dentist's excuse that he was merely trying to sedate the animal to perform a root canal.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphin Cam Wake poses with uncaged tiger in Thailand. "That was intimidating," said the tiger. ..... Marlins play farting sounds on PA system during Nationals batting practice because, well, they're the Marlins! ..... Marlins will have influence of over design of David Beckham's new MLS stadium planned near Marlins Park. Uh oh. ..... Two Heat fans spend $75,000 to watch a game with Dan LeBatard. You can have met for 20 bucks. ..... Kyle Busch is first NASCAR driver in eight years to win three races in a row, and we still don't like him. ..... Florida's two-day lobster mini-season ends. Do y'all not realize lobsters are readily available for purchase year round? ..... Beijing is awarded 2022 Winter Olympics despite having no snow. IOC strikes again! ..... Boston withdraws as host candidate for '24 Summer Games, and entire city yawns. ..... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson, 20 wins her fifth LPGA tournament. When I was 20, I figured out that if you shook a vending machine an extra bag of chips might drop. ..... R.I.P., Rowdy Roddy Piper, wrestling's greatest bad guy.

THE MOST IMPRESSIVE STREAKS IN MIAMI SPORTS HISTORY: I fancy myself a South Florida sports historian so this kind of stuff interests me. Here are my top five Miami streaks, plus a few no-I-didn't-forget-you honorable mentions:

1aa1alarryc1. Dolphins' 18-game winning streak, 1972-73 -- Four decades later it still is tied for the third-longest streak of all-time in the NFL. But it is our choice for No. 1 because of the historical significance that it included the epic and still-unparalleled 17-0 Perfect Season of '72. Fullback Larry Csonka, along with Don Shula the broken-nosed face of perfection, is pictured.

1aa1aginot2. Hurricanes' 58-game home winning streak, 1985-94 -- It remains an NCAA football record, and an emblem of both the UM Glory Years and why the Orange Bowl still is so fondly remembered by so many. That streak also is one of the reasons so much pressure finds Al Golden today. Quarterback Gino Torretta is pictured.


1aa1ajosef3. Jose Fernandez's 15-0 home record, 2013-current
-- Fernandez, pictured, is scheduled to pitch on Sunday here, and one more win would tie the all-time MLB record for most consecutive home victories to start one's career. (A major reason for that streak and just as impressive as the wins: His 1.19 career ERA at Marlins Park).

1aa1alebronj4. Heat's 27-game winning streak, 2013 -- The Heat's franchise-record winning streak stands as probably the greatest hallmark of the four-year LeBron James Era; well, after the two championships, of course. The streak was the second-longest in NBA history and ended six victories shy of tying the all-time record of 33 set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. James (back when Miami still loved him) is pictured.


1aa1aluisc
5. Luis Castillo's 35-game hitting streak, 2002
 
-- Castillo, pictured, had the longest hitting streak in baseball in 15 years and tied for 11th longest of all-time, seventh best all-time among NL batters.

Honorable mention: Dolphins' 27 consecutive home wins, 1971-74. UM men's tennis streak of 137 straight matches won, 1957-64. And FAU baseball's 34 straight wins, 1999.

ON WALTER THE LION KILLER: The story has riveted international attention: How a Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, paid $50,000 to hunt and kill and beloved lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe. Now it seems 1aa1adentistthat government is attempting to extradite the doctor to face charges, and I must admit I hope the U.S. cooperates. Two Zimbabwe men already have been arrested. (Click here for the latest). The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says Cecil suffered a slow death, first with a crossbow, later by a gun. Palmer has said he regrets what he did, but he still should face consequences beyond, we may presume,the ruination of his dental practice from the tsunami of outraged reaction. The good to come of this: The light shone on the damnable practice of hunting for pleasure -- not for need, not for food, but for the pure sport of it. Hunters are free to do what's legal, but many of the rest of us are free to condemn the practice. What Palmer did, it must be emphasized, was not legal. (The illustration pictured is by Dave Granlund).

Poll result: Most think Brady legacy is damaged: We asked how much weight Tom Brady's role in Deflategate should be given in shaping his ultimate NFL legacy and it was 53.9 percent "a lot," 30.9% "a little" and 15.2% "none."

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

July 10, 2015

Heat signs Stoudemire, new study says Dolphins fans worst in NFL; plus Jason Pierre-Paul privacy breach poll and Donald Trump poll; also, Luol Deng's special video, the wonder of Jose & more

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

1aa1acubanmark1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 11. Belated happy birthday to one of my heroes, Mavis Staples, who turned 76 yesterday. 2) DeAndre Jordan, after verbally agreeing to free-agent deal with the Dallas Mavericks, reverses field and re-signs with L.A. Clippers. Fun! Always a delight when Mark Cuban (pictured) is angry and helpless. 3) #BoycottArianaGrande. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cuba cruises and Micky Arison poll, ESPN 'Body' poll, Pat Riley's revenge, Fins seat sale, ode to Serena, Weighing The Fish, Fins/Canes betting odds & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

DOLFANS CALLED WORST IN NFL: Hey don't blame the messenger. I'm just passing this along. A new study by Atlanta's Emory University rates NFL teams 1 through 32 in "fan equity rankings," and Miami is ranked 32nd. Emory calls it "a measure of brand equity that is based on fans' willingness to financially support their team ... based on the average Fan Equity score for the last three years." Dallas is ranked No. 1. Click here for the story including full rankings and methodology.

HEAT SIGNS AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: Heat yesterday struck a bargain deal with former Knick Amar'e 1aa1aamaresStoudemire, just one day after signing guard Gerald Green, 29, a 6-8 "young veteran," to a one-year deal at the minimum $1.3 million -- another bargain for Miami. Green averaged 11.9 points for Phoenix last season including 35 percent from 3-point land. He'll likely back up Dwyane Wade (who officially re-signed, as expected) at shooting guard and offer the needed threat from 3ville. Adding Green also suggests the club may be looking at rookie swingman and No. 1 draft pick Justise Winslow more as a small forward than a guard, at least initially. In Stoudemire, 32, the Heat get a man five years or so past his best days, but a man who, if his knees stay sound, still has offensive punch and can be a valuable backup big man in the rotation, a 6-10 power forward/center.

Poll result: Cuba cruises don't hurt Arison's image: We asked if Carnival offering cruises to Cuba negatively impacts your opinion of Heat (and Carnival) owner Mark Cuban, and it was 79.6 percent no, 17.4% yes 3.0% undecided.

JASON PIERRE-PAUL WAS WRONGED. WHO'S TO BLAME: A Giants defensive end from Deerfield Beach is celebrating the Fourth of July in Miami, does something dangerous and careless with fireworks and ends 1aa1aadams
1aa1ajpp
1aa1ajacksonmemup hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Thursday it is reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter that Pierre-Paul has had his right index finger amputated. Schefter knows this because someone at Jackson (apparently) leaked the player's private medical records, which would violate laws, and Schefter posted those private records on Twitter, which, to me, skirts the line of journalistic ethics. Jackson is investigating on its end. Nothing yet from ESPN yet on Schefter's actions. I'm curious what you think. Is it no big deal because the info on the amputation would have come out eventually? Was Schefter just doing his job? For me the bottom line is, the law is the law and even a prominent NFL player has a right to medical privacy. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

GOLF AND POLITICS: THE DONALD TRUMP MESS: I did it. I touched the lightning rod that is Donald Trump. As well as the lightning rod you often get when sports and politics mix. I did it with my latest column -- click on Golf Should Say No to Trump to read in full -- and the email reaction has been 1aa1agolftrumpvoluminous and largely vitriolic. A representative email from Vince F of Miami (last name withheld): "Hey ass-wipe, Trump is a Billionaire, you are still paying off mortgages." Then it got nasty. Vince, I was not aware great wealth made someone right and that relying on a paycheck made someone wrong. At least you're not materialistic or anything! (Quick aside: My mortgage happens to be paid off and I just paid cash for a brand new car. Does that make me a better person to you? More right?) I believe and wrote that the PGA Tour and other golf entities should disassociate themselves from Trump-owned golf courses because of his recent prejudicial, broad-swipe comments ("They're rapists...") about Mexican immigrants. NBC, Macy's, Univision and others already have done so. Unfortunately that would include the annual WGC/Doral tournament. Many emailers are on a tangent about immigration, as if what I wrote was about that topic. It wasn't, but as it happens I'm for strong borders. On very few topics am I more conservative. Anyway, the strong reaction to my column leads me to take a pulse here, too, with a blog poll. This poll is not about Trump's presidential bid. This is not about immigration. This is, specifically, about whether golf should continue to partner with a man who said what he did about Mexicans, and without regret. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.


1aa1ajosefJOSE STAYS MASTERFUL AT HOME: Jose Fernandez this week vs. the Reds made his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery, and his second strong, winning one. The Marlins had been losers of four straight and desperately needed him to continue his at-home perfection, and he delivered. Jose is now 14-0 with a 1.17 ERA pitching in Miami in his young MLB career. Astounding. Meanwhile:

Marlins record this year under fired manager Mike Redmond: 16-22, .421

Marlins record this year under his replacement Dan Jennings: 20-28, .417

Poll result: ESPN 'Body' issue is about narcissism: We asked your view of ESPN's annual 'Body' display of athletes nude but somewhat covered, and it was 49.0 percent negative (narcissism) vs. 35.5% positive (artfully done). The other 15.5% were undecided.

LUOL DENG'S SPECIAL VIDEO: The Heat forward thinks bigger than basketball. He was born in Sudan (now South Sudan) and cares deeply for his heritage. Four years after its independence, South Sudan suffers through violence, hunger and a collapsing economy. Luol's video is worth a minute of your time:

 

1aa1acroweagle"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's good but would be even better if occasionally you would show a picture of a crow hitching a ride on the back of an eagle. Would that be possible? Thank you." Dear Reader: No promises, but let me get right on that.

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July 08, 2015

Carnival cruises to Cuba and impact on Heat owner Micky Arison: New poll. Vote now!; plus ESPN 'Body' issue poll, Fins seat sale, Pat Riley's motivation, new Dolphins 'n Canes betting odds, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. women reign, ESPN's 'Body,' Marlins All-Stars, LeBatard on 'Ballers,' Hot Button Top 10, Dwyane vs. Jose verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too (with a new 'Scope vid from yesterday's radio show).

Fins seat auction is today: Dolphins today are offering limited number of assembled seats and seatbacks for purchase. Seats were removed during stadium reconstruction. Proceeds from auction will benefit Miami Dolphins Foundation. Single and double seats are available; visit Dolphins.com/seatback to bid or for more info. Seats will be sold to season-ticket holders first (limit two per account) beginning at 11 a.m., then to others starting at 2 p.m., subject to availability.

An ode to Serena Williams: U.S. women's soccer flares across the sky as newly minted champions and deserves the applause, but look to the very pinnacle of American women's sports and who you see is Serena Williams. Click on Miss America for my latest column.

HOW DO HEAT FANS FEEL ABOUT CARNIVAL CRUISING TO CUBA?: Three facts, and how they might collide: Fact 1--Carnival Cruise Lines has won U.S. government approval to begin excursions to Cuba, as 1aa1aarisondetailed in this Miami Herald story. Fact 2--Doral-based Carnival Corporation is chaired by and a huge part of Micky Arison's $7.1 billion net worth. Fact 3--Arison (pictured aboard one of his ships) also owns the Miami Heat, many of whose fans are Cubans who do not approve of the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations because of their anti-Castro feelings. So, the question: Should the Heat owner's primary enterprise doing business with Cuba have a negative impact on how fans view him as a basketball team owner? I say no. I happen to support better relations with Cuba, and cruise traffic there was an inevitability, so Arison is doing smart business. Nor do I believe that all Cubans in South Florida might object; though some surely do. Let's get a rough idea how that breaks down with this pulse-read. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

NARCISSISM ON STEROIDS: ESPN'S ANNUAL 'BODY' ISSUE: Athletes love their bodies because their bodies are what make them rich and famous. Unless they are blowing up their hand misusing fireworks on the Fourth of July, athletes are famous for proudly taking care of their bods. Get all that. What I 1aa1awawrinka 1aa1acoughlindon't get is the comically outsized narcissism reflected in ESPN The Magazine's 'Body' issue, the seventh annual of which is out this week. Like, famous athletes don't get enough figurative exposure so they need the literal kind, too? Like, Bryce Harper doesn't have time to enter the Home Run Derby but he has time to get nekkid for ESPN? It's funny how the line has blurred. A top female athlete posing in Playboy would be lambasted for exploiting her sexuality and setting a bad example for young girls. But that same athlete going au naturale for ESPN is celebrated for being proud of her body. (Pictured left: Tennis player Stan Wawrinka. At right: Swimmer Natalie Coughlin). It's funny to me how ESPN fires a preemptive strike against any criticism that they are promoting only the perfect image of perfect bodies. They do this with the annual token inclusion of imperfect bodies. This year that includes three Colts linemen and a heavy female Olympian. Dear Athletes: Being proud of your bodies fully clothed would be just fine. A little modesty would be something to consider. But I may be wrong. Take a dip in our poll and share your overall view of ESPN's annual 'Body' issue.

RILEY'S REVENGE? HEAT PREZ IS COMING AFTER LEBRON: Last time it was to sign him. This time it's to 1aa1abig2beat him. That's a theory ESPN's Stephen A. Smith espoused on WQAM's Freeman & Fox Show, and it makes some sense. (Riley and LeBron are pictured in happier days). What follows is condensed, because Stephen A. is monumentally verbose: "Pat Riley I believe is coming for LeBron James. I believe Riley would have retired at the end of this [past] season had it not been for LeBron deciding to leave Miami. I think that has lit a fire under Riley we haven’t seen in some time. I think he is hell-bent on returning Miami to its glory and showing LeBron that [leaving was] not the way to go. I think Riley is going to do everything [he can to show] that LeBron made a mistake leaving the Heat. I think that’s a huge motivation." It is. That's why I wrote recently that getting to the Eastern Conference finals and beating Cleveland would be tantamount to an NBA Finals for Miami and almost parade-worthy for Riley and the Heat.

WEIGHING THE FISH (80 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving 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 overall season or is hot/cold. Here's WTF after 80 games (actually 83 at 35-48; oops again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @70

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                309.1    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   251.0   3

4  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   4

5  Martin Prado              201.5   5

6  Christian Yelich        194.3   7

7  Jacob Realmuto         178.5    6

8  Justin Bour                 165.9   9

9  Ichiro Suzuki              129.9   8

10  Michael Morse           91.6   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 5, Gordon 2.

UPDATED DOLPHINS, HURRICANES BETTING ODDS; KAAYA HONORED: From Bovada, the Packers 1aa1abkaayaare your new Super Bowl favorite at 6-1 odds, with Seahawks displaced to 13-2, followed by Colts 8-1 and Patriots 9-1. Dolphins sit at 33-1, tied for 12th. In college football, latest win over/unders have the Hurricanes at only 6, which I'd call surprisingly low and a bargain play at 'over'. (One reason I think that: QB Brad Kaaya, pictured, who yesterday was named to  the preseason Maxwell Award watch-list). Other state win over/unders: FSU 9.5, Florida 7.5, UCF 7, FIU 5.5, FAU 5 and South Florida 4.

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July 04, 2015

Happy Fourth, all! Jose's comeback vs. Dwyane re-upping: Which big Miami sports story was bigger? Poll. Vote now!; plus Confederate flag verdict & more

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

1aa1afourth1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 4. Happy birthday, America! You look good for 239. Have a fun and safe Fourth, all. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jam-packed! Wade re-signs, Fernandez's winning comeback, Aldridge meeting, Wade/LeBron in Bahamas, Heat summer league, U.S. in WWC finals, Confederate flag poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"I'll hitchhike nude to Portland and back if the Heat acquire LaMarcus Aldridge." -- Greg Cote

DWYANE, JOSE MAKE IT A MEMORABLE DAY IN MIAMI SPORTS: A thrilling Thursday for South Florida sports, right? Marlins ace Jose Fernandez makes a successful, winning comeback after being out more than 1aa1ajosef 1aa1adwadea year (almost 14 months) following Tommy John surgery. Then, a nearly sold-out Marlins Park had barely emptied after the matinee game when the news broke that Dwyane Wade had agreed to a one-year, $20 million deal to remain with the Heat. Both stories were big enough that I was called upon for double duty. I wrote a scheduled column on Jose's exciting return (click on Welcome Back, Kid K) and later wrote a breaking-news column on Wade's deal (click on Everybody Wins, Especially Heat). Both are currently online. The Jose column also is in today's print editions; the Dwyane column saves for Saturday's paper. I'm curious which of these twin-tower stories felt bigger to you on Thursday: The Marlins getting back their young ace after more than a year sidelined? Or the Heat securing Wade though only for a year? For me, it's close. The gut reaction may be to say Wade, perhaps, but that is tempered by the fact A) him staying was expected, and B) the news isn't as big as it would have been if it were a long-term deal. Don't make this a favorite-team vote, by the way. Please. It isn't. It's about which story felt bigger to you, and more significant.  Vote and tell us why.

Poll result: Most find Confederate flag an offensive symbol: We asked, and 51.4 percent said they think the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism or intolerance, vs. 27.1% who find it a legitimate symbol of American history and heritage. The other 21.5% said they can see both sides or are undecided.

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July 02, 2015

D.Wade re-ups for 1 year, but ha-ha on Aldridge chances; plus winning Jose Day for Marlins and Miami!; also Wade 'n LeBron in Bahamas, U.S. partying like it's 1945, Confederate flag poll (vote now!) & more

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

1aa1akimk1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 2. Pictured right is the new Rolling Stone cover. Would it be wrong to admit I stared at the photo for about five minutes before noticing she was wearing a hat? 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat/Dwyane Wade impasse, Dolphins training camp schedule, "Let's gooooo States!" & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"Brett Favre says he could still play at age 45? Sounds like the concussions talking." --Greg Cote

This is why we missed Jose: Click on Welcome Back, Kid K for today's latest column by me, from Marlins Park, on the long-awaited comeback of Jose Fernandez. It wasn;t just the high heat and wins that Miami and fans have missed. It was the passion.

HEAT RE-SIGNS WADE FOR 1 YEAR: Heat and Dwyane Wade today agreed to a new 1-year contract for $20 million. Him staying in Miami is not a surprise at all. Click on Heat And Wade Will Work It Out to read my recent column. The market for Wade was soft. He wanted to stay. Heat wanted him back. All those things led to today's news. What is a bit surprising is the 1-year deal, which essentially means all of this starts over one year from now: Will Dwyane leave? How much will Miami pay to keep him? For now, though, the bottom line is all that counts. Wade remains a #HeatLifer. (At least for another season...)

HEAT AND ALDRIDGE? HA HA HA!: Seriously, I mean, we all love Pat Riley and think he's a magician and all that, but does anybody really think that Riles meeting tonight in L.A. with free agent LaMarcus Aldridge means Miami will land the NBA's most coveted actually available free agent? They don't have the money for Aldridge if they plan on re-signing Dwyane Wade and also planning for 2016. Nor do they especially have the need because Chris Bosh plays the same role. I'lladmit how wrong I was if somehow the Heat lands Aldridge. Meantime, anybody who tells you this could happen may well be drunk.

IT'S A WINNING JOSE DAY FOR MARLINS FANS, MIAMI: [See link above for today's newest column by me from Marlins Park]. In a 12:10 matinee today at Marlins Park, Jose 1aa1ajosefFernandez toed the mound in a real game for the first time in 419 days, since injuring his elbow and undergoing Timmy John surgery in May 2014. And it was a winning effort in a 5-4 final that drew more than 32,000. This Marlins season has disappointed, from the won-lost record to the managerial change to Giancarlo Stanton's injury. A strong performance by Fernandez today wouldn't make everything better, but it would be a  much-needed symbol that better days are ahead. "I know I have to stay calm," Jose said yesterday. Bet that Marlins fans were a bit anxious, too. The team and its fans have missed and need more than what his right arm brings. The Marlins have missed his excitement and enthusiasm, too, so welcome back, Kid K.

WADE, LEBRON DO THE BAHAMAS: Former teammates and still-good-friends Dwyane Wade and LeBron 1aa1adwlebJames and their wives were seen at Atlantis in the Bahamas last night, mini-vacationing together. Pictured left: Dwyane and Gabrielle walking through the Atlantis lobby, glancing over their shoulders, and LeBron walking just ahead of them, the inconspicuous 6-8 guy in the hat. Of course this photo and others like it snapped on smart-phones blew up on social media ... just like you know Dwyane and LeBron knew they would. Of course this could be an innocent, long-planned getaway by a couple  of friends with unlimited money. It also could be a well-timed public display designed to foment a rumor that LeBron may be trying to coax Dwyane to sign with Cleveland -- either because he really is, or to create leverage for Wade to squeeze more dollars from Miami to stay. I bet on the latter. Interesting either way, though.

NO SURPRISE: HEAT KEEPS DRAGIC. WADE NEXT?: It is being reported as the 5-year, $90 million
deal that was expected -- and keeping point guard Goran Dragic is Miami's first big move of 2015 free 1aa1agorandwadeagency. Hassan Whiteside Tweeted congratulations that included, "Let me borrow 5 dollars. lol."  The only other free-agent move that really matters to Heat fans in the coming hours or days will be whether the club will spend enough to re-sign Dwyane Wade, or see him poached by another team. There is no reason, at least not yet, to think Wade will not be back. I asked Yahoo's tapped-in NBA expert Adrian Wojnarowski about Wade/Miami on the radio and he said, "I'd be shocked if this didn't work itself out in the near future." Yesterday ESPN's Chris Broussard said of Wade: "He's a lot of [other] teams' Plan B. That's why most people think he'll wind up back in Miami. If he wants $50M long term, then he's probably going to have to get it from the Heat." Stay tuned.

HEAT SUMMER-LEAGUE INFO: Heat announced its 18-player roster for the upcoming NBA summer leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas, and we were the first Herald blog to bring it to you. Team will play five games in Orlando starting July 4 and at least five 1aa1asummerlgin Vegas starting July 11. The roster will include recent draftees Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, and returning Heat players Zoran Dragic, James Ennis, Tyler Johnson, Shabazz Napier and Henry Walker. (Hassan Whiteside will practice with the Heat's summer squad but not play in games). Assistant coach Dan Craig will be in charge. Miami's summer roster also includes rookies Bradford Burgess, Kenny Gabriel, famous son Juwan Howard Jr., Tyler Kalinoski, Rodney McGruder, Gabriel Olaseni, Willie Reed, Joshua Smith, Travis Trice, Seth Tuttle and Greg Whittington.

PARTYING LIKE IT'S 1945! "LET'S GOOOOO STATES!": I enjoy absurd hyperbole (everybody needs a hobby), 1aa1agermanyoutso I'll go ahead and say the Americans' 2-0 victory over Germany in the Women's World Cup on Tuesday was the best U.S. result in the two countries' relationship since the Germans surrendered in World War II on May 8, 1945. U.S. advances to Sunday's WWC championship match in Canada vs. Japan, which edged England 2-1 in extra time last night. This sets up a rematch of the 2011 final won by Japan and sets a narrative for the thirst for U.S. revenge. I'll try my best to avoid politically incorrect Pearl Harbor references. No promises, though.

ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG: You can't keep sports out of political issues, and vice versa. Sports are too interwoven into society. Latest example is the national movement to ban the Confederate flag from 1aa1aconfedflying on government buildings in the wake of the racist mass killing at a South Carolina church. Now NASCAR -- still so linked to the Deep South -- is disassociating itself from the flag and even offering a trade-in: Race fans may exchange their Confederate flag for an American flag. Champion Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari also has come out against the Confederate flag. My take? The Civil War happened in the 1860s. Time to move on. I do not believe all who support the Confederate flag are racists. Yes, I've seen the "Heritage, Not Hate" bumper stickers. But I do understand why that flag, once flown by the side that supported maintaining slavery, might be seen as a symbol of racism by many. I'm curious on your thoughts. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

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June 29, 2015

Wade opts out as expected, Winslow will be Heat's biggest draft star since 2003.The new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 29. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton injured, Heat-draft-Justise Winslow poll, Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers draft & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

WADE OPTS OUT: Heat star Dwyane Wade will opt out of the final year of his Miami contract and become a free agent, ESPN reports this afternoon in this story. The move is fully expected and had been anticipated for weeks. It does not mean that Wade and the Heat won't continue as partners. It does mean that the sides must come to terms on a new contract of that is to happen, with negotiations set to begin on Wednesday.  

The new column: Setting the bar sky-high for Justise Winslow: Click on No Ceiling, No Doubts for my latest column, on Heat top draft pick Justise Winslow, online now and shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions. Elsewhere in Heatville, in addition to Wade opting out, Luol Deng announcing today he is opting-in and staying with Heat, perhaps a mild surprise because there were media reports suggesting otherwise. Also, team announcing it won't pick up option on Michael Beasley -- no surprise at all.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) 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:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami drafts Duke's Winslow, confronts Wade uncertainty: Heat hit big and fans were delighted Thursday night as team got Duke swingman Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft. I won big, too, after investing, on a hunch, in lame media references such a "Justise Is Served" and "League of Justise." Now Heat fans turn from delighted to wringing-hands anxious as Dwyane Wade prepares to opt out and become a free agent by tonight's midnight deadline, his future in Miami uncertain as contract negotiations begin Wednesday.

2. MARLINS: Stanton injured, Fernandez's return to mound on deck: MLB home-run leader Giancarlo Stanton is sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist, likely for four to six weeks, adding injury to the insult of a disappointing season for Miami that has included nine losses in past 11 games. Now speculation swirls that Miami may be sellers, not buyers, before the trade deadline. I’d say there isn't much more reason to watch, except at least Jose Fernandez’s long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery is set for this Thursday, here, vs. the Giants.

3. PANTHERS: Cats host NHL Draft, target goal-scoring help: Big week for the Panthers. Florida hosted the NHL Draft in Sunrise and took 6-4 winger Lawson Crouse 11th overall after earlier celebrating Aaron Ekblad’s NHL rookie of the year honor. But stop reading here if you believe in bad omens: After Florida hosted the draft for the first time in 2001, it missed the playoffs the next nine seasons.

4. SOCCER: U.S. faces Germany in Women's World Cup semfinals: The Americans beat China 1-0 on Friday to advance to the semifinals against Germany on Tuesday in a meeting of WWC co-favorites. American soccer fans would be thrilled (and surprised) if the U.S. men got this far, but it’s championship-or-bust for the women’s team.

5. TENNIS: As Wimbledon begins, can anybody stop Serena Williams?: The fortnight at Wimbledon starts today/Monday (cue strawberries-and-cream references) with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams the favorites, as usual. Serena goes for her fourth consecutive major. Injury might stop Serena. Sometimes disinterest has. Other women players? Not so much.  

6. DOLPHINS: Fins win offseason, now off until training camp: In late July, the preseason will start with Dolphins training camp. For now, thanks to signing Ndamukong Suh and extending Ryan Tannehill’s contract, I declare Miami to be NFL Offseason Champion! No rings for that. No parade. The reward is the heavier expectations you lug into August.

7. DEFLATEGATE: NFL hears Tom Brady's appeal of suspension: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Patriots quarterback for four games based on the result of an independent investigation paid for by Goodell's league. So who hears and will rule on Brady's appeal? Goodell! Hmm.

8. PETE ROSE: Latest revelation ends last Cooperstown hopes: Then again, is it really shocking that Pete Rose, who previously admitted to betting on his team as a manager, also is now determined to have bet on his team as a player, too? 

9. CONFEDERATE FLAG: When politics and social issues seep into sports: The growing move to abolish the Confederate flag in the wake of the South Carolina church shootings has seeped into sports, such as NASCAR chairman Brian France saying his sport will be "aggressive" in disassociating the symbol from its events. Aside to Confederate flag supporters: The Civil War was in the 1860s. Might be time to move on.

10. NUDE ATHLETES: Roster announced for ESPN mag's 'Body' issue: ESPN The Magazine announced the 24 sports figures who are to appear nude (though artfully covered) in its latest “Body” issue due out July 6, and they include Bryce Harper, Kevin Love and Dan LeBatard. OK, I made up that last one.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross teams with Qatari investors in bid to buy Formula One racing circuit. And Sean "Diddy" Combs arrested for allegedly swinging kettlebell during confrontation with a UCLA assistant coach who supposedly mistreated Combs’ son.

Poll result: Overwhelming thumbs-up for Heat drafting Justise Winslow: We asked your initial reaction to Miami selecting Duke's Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft and 86.0 percent answered "very favorable" and another 8.7% "somewhat favorable. A negligible few answered either very (2.8%) or somewhat (2.5%) unfavorable. 

Poll result: Solid support for keeping Dwyane Wade: We asked you to describe how much you want the Heat to re-sign Dwyane Wade and more than 80 percent answered either "a lot" (48.3%) or "the max" (32.6%). Fewer than 20 percent answered either "a little" (11.1%) or "none" (8.0%).

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May 22, 2015

Heat suffer All-NBA shutout; plus Steph Curry/Kidgate poll and Letterman/King of Late Night poll; also my TV debut, D.Wade's new game, Heat draft, Fins No. 1 in $$, Colts punter disses Tannehill, new Weighing The Fish, 'real' Miami Vice video & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 22. I'm back at Random Evidence Laboratories today divining the Sunday notes-column package. 2) Thanks for all the Twitter kindness -- a phrase rarely said, "Twitter kindness" -- over my LeBatard debut yesterday on Fusion TV. Much appreciated! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill's new deal with poll, Heat keep 10th pick, LeBatard TV promo, firing-Redmond verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dee Train update: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .386 (64-for-166). Yesterday: 0-for-4 vs. ARI. Next: Tonight vs. BAL.

HEAT SHUT OUT OF ALL-NBA TEAMS: As Heat fans suffer not only not making the playoffs but watching LeBron James trot toward the NBA Finals with Cleveland, the indignity piles on with the announcement of the All-NBA first, second and third teams. Miami has nobody on any of the the three teams for the first time since 2008. Dwyane Wade collected a mere two points in voting, tied for 29th overall. It's the second straight season Wade didn't make any of the three All-NBA teams after being represented eight of his first nine seasons between 2005-13.

KIDGATE: ON STEPH CURRY'S DAUGHTER AND OTHER CHILDREN IN POSTGAME NEWS CONFERENCES: You know the controversy by now. NBA MVP and Warriors star Steph Curry brings his 2-year-old daughter 1aa1acurrykidRiley to a playoff postgame press conference. To most it is adorable or harmless -- "What's the big deal!" kind of stuff. To others (ESPN's Brian Windhorst notable among them) it's unprofessional. The reaction to the latter reaction is what's interesting and gives this story some shelf life. Suddenly Windhorst and other critics are castigated as anti-kids, as taking themselves too seriously. Well, Windhorst is right. It is unprofessional of Curry to do what he did. Also, unoriginal. Kids-on-laps at the dais has become a cliche. I always find it helpful in debates like this to consider what I call the "yeah but what if" angle. What if every athlete started doing this, across all sports, after every game? All of a sudden we're rolling our esys and saying "Enough!" Right? Babies, toddlers, young kids, teens -- all are welcome! No kids? Bring your dog! Or how about Mom or your favorite uncle? Why can't Steph Curry have his best friend with him? Athletes have so many social-media platforms to show off their family or trumpet their fatherhood if they wish. The workplace needn't be one of them. But that's just me. Your opinion goes directly below:

AN ODE TO DAVID LETTERMAN: Late-night TV legend David Letterman ended his 33-year run with a farewell show Wednesday, and it was emotional for me, among millions of others I'm sure. I grew up and 1aa1adavenow 1aa1adavethenold with Letterman, pictured then and now. His show, his monologues, his top 10 lists and his stupid pet tricks helped transport me from a guy in his mid-20s to a man now pondering retirement himself. My future wife and I were a young couple long before kids around the time Letterman came on the air, dropping watermelons and TV sets off tall buildings, and our common love of Dave's humor very much was an early bonding thing for us. Letterman was fresh, imprimatur of Early Zany, the hip guy opposite your father's Jay Leno. Ironically, sadly, Jimmy Squared -- Kimmel and Fallon -- came along to wrest the hip crown and make Letterman seem what he was becoming: Old. That's life. The natural order of things. I am not sure if Letterman bumps Johnny Carson from the Biggest Chair in late-night television history but I know it's arguable. For me, he'd be a strong second at the very least, after which it'd be a long drop to whomever might be third. In this King of Late Night poll I offer what for me are the Big 3 choices. This is with due respect to early icons like Jack Paar and Dick Cavett, and to later stars like Conan O'Brien and the Two Jimmys. The poll focuses on late-night entertainment more than political shows of Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and so forth. For me, few if any figures on late-night TV or in pop culture overall have played a more prominent role in my personal timeline than Letterman. I miss him already. Thank you, Dave.

DOLPHINS HIGHEST-PAID NFL TEAM. NO, SERIOUSLY: ESPN'S Global Sports Salaries Survey for 2015 incorporated 333 teams in 17 major league in seven sports in 13 countries,and ranked the teams 1aa1afbmoneyaccording to highest average salary per player. (Click on Global Sports Salaries for the full list). The soccer club Paris Saint Germain tops the list with a $9.1 million average. The top U.S. team, fifth overall, is the Los Anegles Dodgers at $8.0 million. How the Miami teams weigh in: Heat is NO. 28 at $4.8 million, Panthers No. 113 at $2.5 million, Marlins No. 114 at $2.5 mill, and Dolphins No. 124 at $2.3 million. However the Dolphins total -- shockingly, somewhat unbelievably -- leads all NFL teams, according to ESPN. Even factoring the Ndamukong Suh deal, and even if they included Ryan Tannehill's new contract, Miami leading all of football is still a surprise.

COLTS PUNTER DISSES TANNEHILL: Pretty bad when you get dissed by ... by ... by a punter! But the Colts' Pat McAfee went and Tweeted this: "Well today's market showed that a 25-25 record gets you 96 million American dollars ... Andrew's about to own a team I think. #Tannehill #Luck." Tannehill actually is 23-25, and McAfee's implication that for a QB it's all about winning is on the mark. In fact that's the theme of my latest column, on Tannehill's new contract. (Click on Just Win Now, Baby to read it). However, I'd also inform McAfee that Luck's three-year passer rating of 86.6 lives in about the same rent district as Tannehill's 84.0. A punter. Imagine that?

Poll result: Faith in Tannehill, but remaining doubts, too: In the wake of his new contract, we asked if you think Ryan Tannehill is worth the money as the franchise QB the Dolphins have been looking for, and "yes" (50.4 percent) beat "no" (17.6%) by almost a 3-1 margin. However, almost one-third (32.0%) voted "maybe but still not convinced."

HEAT KEEP 10TH PICK IN DRAFT; EYEING JOHNSON?: As expected in Tuesday's deathly dull NBA draft lottery did not budge Miami from its 10th pick in the June 25 draft. Chad Ford's new, post-lottery 1aa1ajohnsonstanleymock draft for ESPN has Heat selecting Arizona small forward Stanley Johnson (pictured). Says Ford: "The Heat need depth everywhere and might need starters at all five positions depending on how things play out this summer in free agency. Dwayne Wade, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng all can opt out. Plus, Chris Bosh's health is still a major question mark. Johnson makes a lot of sense here for the Heat; he's one of the most NBA-ready prospects in the draft, with the size and strength to play right away. And, given how young he is, there's still a lot of upside there. Wisconsin's Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky along with Texas' Myles Turner are other players in the mix for Miami." My take: Ford is being dire. You know Wade will be back. Re-signing Dragic is a priority. Keeping Deng could be an issue but is possible. And Bosh's full recovery is not seen as a "major question mark." The 6-9 Dekker may make sense. With an ascending Hassan Whiteside on board, can't see them taking Kaminsky.

1aa1adwadegame'D.WADE'S GET IT HOOPS': Dwyane Wade has a new game. Literally. His name is on "D.Wade's Get It Hoops," a new kids indoors basketball game that incorporates an app that keeps score and creates videos to post online. Visit getithoops.com or click here for the 2-minute YouTube video explainer starring Wade himself.

WEIGHING THE FISH (40 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we 1aa1afishweigh 1aa1agstantondebuted a new Miami Marlins 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 fourth 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 overall season or is hot/cold. Weighing The Fish after 40 games (at 16-24), with current leader Giancarlo Stanton pictured:

Rank Player                 WTF#  @30

1 Giancarlo Stanton     204.0    2

2 Dee Gordon              187.8    1

3 Adeiny Hechevarria   152.7   3

4 Marcell Ozuna           133.7   5

5 Martin Prado             131.2   4

6 Ichiro Suzuki             100.9   6

7 Jacob Realmuto          94.8    8

8 Michael Morse             88.0   7

9 Christian Yelich          69.6   9

'THE REAL MIAMI VICE': This is so Miami. Apparently in 2013 a film company, Coconut Grove-based Entertainment Dynamix, began filming the Miami Police Department with the consent of then-chief Manuel Orosa. The idea was a "real Miami Vice" reality show that never ended up happening. Or at least hasn't yet.  Now, two years later, an Entertainment Dynamix video surfaces that looks like a cross between a promo for the reality show and a recruiting tool for the Miami PD. It's slick, sexy, well done. Why the controversy? Well, ever seen a cop on the beach with her badge clipped to the string of her bikini? The tale was first reported by Miami's Random Pixels blog and followed up by this Herald story. We give you the controversial video here:

 

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