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.

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

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.

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

June 27, 2015

Ouch! Giancarlo Stanton has broken bone in wrist, placed on DL; plus poll on Heat drafting Duke's Justise Winslow (vote now); also Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers' big week & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 27. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column off on vacation the past two weeks, returns this Sunday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cote Does Paris (a travelogue), Hot Button Top 10, Heat draft projection, latest Weighing The Fish, Dolphins still King & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine -- and now Periscope, too.

STANTON OUT WITH INJURED WRIST, ON D.L.: Fox MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal first reported this morning 1aa1agstantonthat Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton -- the sport's home run and RBI leader -- has a broken bone in his hand. ESPN's Tim Kurkjian further reported it is the hamate bone in Stanton's left hand and that he will have surgery and be sidelined four to six weeks. The Marlins later today called it a wrist injury in placing Stanton on the 15-day disabled list. (The hamate is located at the joint of the wrist and hand). Stanton had complained of soreness after last night's home loss to the Dodgers. Reeling Miami has now lost five games in a row, the Stanton injury compounding the disappointing season. He'd been about the main reason to still watch. Stanton will obviously miss the upcoming All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. I'd first speculated he'd likely be out a couple of months; fortunately he could be back a bit sooner, and going on the 15-day DL (not longer) may be a positive sign. I remember Joe Robbie once lamenting how the Dolphins were "wasting the Marino years." Well, the Marlins were wasting Stanton's this year. He'd been great. His 27 homers lead the majors. His season pace was around 59, pre-injury. But it hasn't been enough. Stanton was headed toward being the first big-leaguer since 2002 to top 50 homers for a losing team. Now, the injury makes his reaching 40 seem the likelier target. Tough injury track record for Stanton, and more bad luck for the snakebit Fish.

Stanton tops local ESPY nominees: ESPN's ESPY Awards, the Worldwide Leader's annual 
font of shameless self-promotion, air July 18 and five nominees in six of the 31 categories have strong, ongoing South Florida ties: Marlins' Stanton (best MLB player); Palm Beach's Serena Williams (best female athlete, best female tennis player); Miamian Juan Pablo Montoya (best driver); Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez (best comeback); and ex-Hurricane Devin Hester (best record-breaking performance, for 20th punt-return TD).


HEAT DRAFT WINSLOW 10TH OVERALL!: Click on Contingency Plan for my column on this week's Heat draft. With both players taken, Miami is preparing itself for the possibility the Dwyane Wade era may be ending, or at least planning for that eventuality. Original post: The Miami Heat on Thursday night drafted Duke small-forward Justise Winslow (pictured right) with its first-round NBA Draft pick, 10th overall. Winslow is a 6-6, 222-pounder who could fit 1aa1ajwinslowthe role currently occupied by Luol Deng but more likely could be an NBA shooting guard -- Dwyane Wade's position. In fact Duke coach Mike Krzyzewki compared Winslow to Wade in an interview earlier this season. Later Thursday night Miami specifically targeted a proper shooting guard, Tennessee's Josh Richardson (pictured left), with its second-round pick. Smart planning? Message to Dwyane? I found it interesting that Wade, a pending free 1aa1ajoshrAgent who wants to see the  money, did not Tweet congratulations to Winslow when he was drafted by Miami. Chris Bosh did. But Wade didn't. Doesn't prove anything. Interesting, though. Pat Riley said there is "no doubt" he wants to re-sign Wade, but doing so may be tough. Asked if he is concerned Wade may leave, Riley began, "I'm not a pessimist" -- which does not exactly shout confidence. It all begins to play out July 1, when Wade (presumably) will opt out and negotiations may begin. Anyway, back to the draft. I liked Miami's stake. Heat got two very talented players, and love Winslow's versatility. Your thoughts on Miami selecting Winslow No. 1 go here. Vote now and say why.

HOW MUCH DO HEAT FANS WANT WADE BACK?: The title here of the link to my earlier Miami Herald column, on the Heat/Dwyane Wade contract disagreement, cuts to the chase of my opinion: Pay Him. I think Wade, at 33, still is worth 1aa1adwadecloser to what he's reportedly asking than to what the club reportedly wants to offer. His Heat future is Greater Miami's hottest sports topic with his looming decision whether to opt-out and seek free agency. As teammate-for-now Hassan Whiteside Tweeted this morning: "Man if another person ask me if d wade staying in Miami I'm going to lose it! I DONT KNOW!!! I just catch LOBS from the man." I hope there is compromise when the sides meet in the coming days and that Wade stays. I hope it because of all Wade and has done for the Heat and meant to South Florida. I also hope it because I think Wade, though past his prime, yes, remains a valuable asset moving forward. However, I have been surprised by the mixed reaction to my column. Many staunchly agree with my pro-Wade assessment but many other emailers are conveying they see him as fading and injury prone and think this is the right time for the club to move on without him. That mixed reaction spawns this poll. Weigh in and say why you feel as you do.

NHL DRAFT CAPS PANTHERS' BIG WEEK: Panthers drafted Ontario winger Lawson Crouse, 18, with the 11th overall pick in yesterday's NHL Draft -- hosted by the Cats in Sunrise. (The draft ends today). Unlike 1aa1acrousethe NBA Draft, the NHL Draft is cloaked in mystery because very few of us had heard of any of the guys drafted let alone seen them play. So I won't be presumptuous enough to guess whether the picks is good or not. But I like the idea of it, its aim. Florida needs a big-time goal scorer, and Crouse is a 6-4, 215- pounder that GM Dale Tallon described as a "power forward." Now we wait to see if he's that 30-goal scorer the Cats crave. Meantime, it was a big week for the franchise, which lasted hosted the draft in 2001. Give some weight, too, to Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad winning NHL rookie of the year honors this week. It is only the ninth time in 120 combined seasons that a player has been ROY for one of our Big Four pro teams. The Marlins have had four: Dontrelle Willis in 2003, Hanley Ramirez in 2006, Chris Coghlan in 2009 and Jose Fernandez in 2013. The Dolphins have had three (per The Associated Press): A.J. Duhe in 1977, Troy Stradford in 1987 and Tim Bowens in 1994. Ekblad is the Panthers' second, after Jonathan Huberdeau in 2012-13. The Heat, surprisingly, have never had a rookie of the year.

Panthers announce schedule: Florida announced its 2015-16 NHL schedule, set to open at home Oct. 10 vs. Philadelphia. Click here for the full schedule.

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

June 20, 2015

The ultimate "South Florida's Favorite Sports Team" poll. Last chance to vote!; plus we're back from vacation & more

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

I'm back!: The wife and I have returned to the Motherland after an eight-night stay in Paris. I'm back on the Herald clock Monday but will have a brand new blog post here tomorrow/Sunday morning, including a new Hot Button Top 10 and (unavoidably, I'm afraid) a synopsis of my week-plus in Paris including photos. 2) 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine, because we'll be posting stuff while away.

1aa1akingofmiamiLAST CHANCE TO VOTE IN THE ULTIMATE "SOUTH FLORIDA'S FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM" POLL: Baseball is in full bloom, basketball and hockey have just wrapped up their seasons and summer means football is getting close enough to
hear the pads popping. So this is as good a time as 1aa1akingofmiami2any to wonder what South Florida's favorite team is, and I invite you to answer that question in the poll below. We're focusing here on teams at the pro or college level in the Greater Miami market -- and you may only choose one. I know that's tough because, if you're like me and most, you follow multiple teams and certainly care about more than one. But you can only care about one the most, right? By whatever criteria you choose to use, name that team! (Hey, nobody said life was easy, or fair). With apologies to any teams left out, I had to keep the poll to a manageable length and make some tough calls, but included an "other" category for that. So think about which SoFla pro or college team you love best or follow most avidly -- the one that is simply the most important to you -- then take a dip in our poll and say why. Final results announced here Sunday so vote now!

Check back a lot to monitor evolving results above...

June 06, 2015

Omaha! Canes headed to College World Series; plus LeBron James/NBA Finals hate-watch poll, D.Wade's PR masterstroke, "U-S-A!", Dolphins' next-best verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 6. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins next-best poll, Weighing The Fish, LeBatard Tweets, Florida title teams, Jenner verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1acwsCANES HEADED TO COLLEGE WORLD SERIES: Host Miami beat Virginia Commonwealth again today, 10-3, sweeping the best-of-
three NCAA Super Regional in two games. That means Jim Morris' 1aa1abbtheuHurricanes are headed back to the College World Series in Omaha for the first time since 2008, in search of the school's fifth national championship and first since '01. UM won the opener on Friday, 3-2. Click on The Promised Land for my column from the first game. Morris called Omaha "the promised land." Today, they got there.

LEBRON MASTERFUL BUT GOLDEN STATE, HEAT FANS TAKE GAME 1: It had to be weird for the sizable LeBron 1aa1ajameslebHaters wing of Heat fandom to watch last night, reveling in Golden State's 108-100 OT win over Cleveland in Game 1 of the NBA Finals but also grudgingly reminded of LeBron's beyond-greatness as he scored 44 points in defeat. The Warriors strategy seems clear: LeBron cannot beat us alone and, unfortunately for him, has nobody else. He took 38 shots, but only four in the paint. Now, with Kyrie Irving apparently injured (again), the idea of LeBron as a one-man Army is underlined.Last night was so the game Cleveland had to steal. Now, Golden State's favorite's role seems greater than ever. Most Miami fans will smile at that. But they also should be marveling with appreciation at LeBron's greatness -- and longing for what they lost even if they won't admit it.

"U-S-A! U-S-A!" WOMEN'S WORLD CUP NEAR: I toss my journalistic neutrality theatrically out the window, like Dave Letterman used to toss watermelons off tall buildings, when it comes to stuff like the 1aa1aalexmorganOlympics and World Cups. I root for the United States, openly, unabashedly and with gusto. I become a homer. So I am excited the U.S. women's national soccer team debuts vs. Australia on Monday in the Women's World Cup being held in Canada, starting tomorrow/Saturday. I'm excited for the patriotic reasons mentioned, and also because the women of Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan (pictured) and Hope Solo represent the best America has to offer in female sports. Only Serena Williams, in tennis, is at that level where unrelenting excellence is expected. Much about women's sports doesn't interest America much (women's golf, the WNBA), but top-level soccer does because it appeals to the frontrunner in us. These women are good. Men's soccer wants to be what the women are: Top contenders on the world stage. This is the seventh WWC, and the U.S. never has finished worse than third, including championships in 1991 and '99 and a heart-breaking runnerup finish four years ago. We're due. (Yes, I said we). Most experts rate the U.S. and Germany. So I say it again: "Let's go-ooooooo States!"

1aa1awadewesternWADE'S MASTERY OF PUBLIC RELATIONS: I'm not couching this negatively. What Dwyane Wade just did was a very neat thing. A student at Broward's Western High named Negeen Fallahzedeh had started a #WadetoWestern hashtag campaign on Twitter last summer to get the Heat star to drop in on her class' graduation ceremony. And he did! The selfie at right proves it. Dwyane has done this sort of thing before. I think his desire to make small dreams come true is genuine. But this also is a public-relations masterstroke that serves another purpose. It reminds us -- coming in the early stages of what could be a messy contract renegotiation -- how integral Wade is with this community, and how popular he is. To the point, it reminds the Heat, who must decide how much he is still worth.

Poll result: Zonk in a landslide for Dolphins' "next best" player: We conceded Dan Marino as greatest Dolphins player of all time and asked in the previous blogpost who was No. 2 (you may still vote), and among seven choices Larry Csonka dominated with 50.3 percent of the vote. Then came Jason Taylor with 19.7% and Bob Griese with 15.9%.

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

June 04, 2015

Who's No. 2? Name the greatest Dolphins player after Dan Marino. Poll. Vote now!; plus FIFA-prez and NFL-win odds, latest 'Weighing The Fish', answering LeBatard Tweets, Florida title games, Caitlyn Jenner verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JUNE 4. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner with poll, Blatter resigns, Canes to super-regional, Hot Button Top 10, Wade/contract verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Updated NFL win over/unders: Via Bovada, updated AFC East over/unders on wins has Patriots at 10.5, Dolphins and Bills both 8.5 and Jets 7.5. Joining Pats in double-figures are Colts, Packers and Seahawks at 11 each and Broncos at 10.

FIFA next-president odds: With Sepp Blatter resigned in shame and amid scandal, Bovada has co-favorites at 3-2 odds to replace him: Prince Ali Al-Hussein, who ran against Blatter and lost last week; and Michel Platini, the former French star who is president of the European football union.

AND THE DOLPHINS' SECOND-GREATEST PLAYER EVER IS...: You know the Dolphins' 50th anniversary 1aa1adoltwo1 1aa1adoltwoseason is upcoming. The team will be making a big deal of it. So will the Miami Herald. As a part of that I'll be naming the Top 50 figures in franchise history in our special section coming out in August -- figures, meaning not just players. However for the purpose of this poll I'm sticking to players, conceding that (spoiler alert!) Dan Marino is No. 1, and inviting you to suggest who should be the franchise's top-ranked player other than Marino. I have listed six reasonable contenders plus a slot for "other." You can only choose one. (Nobody said life was fair, or easy). Remember, this is the greatest Dolphins player not counting Marino. Vote and say why you chose as you did.

1aa1akitkatSTANTON TUMBLES IN NL MVP RACE: Former NL MVP favorite Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins has tumbled to fifth-favorite (tied) at 12-1 odds. Nationals' Bryce Harper is now favored at 2-1. Marlin Dee Gordon is on the board at 20-1. Stanton's power numbers are MVP-worthy -- 16 homers, 45 RBIs -- but his candidacy is plundered by a .230 batting average, by Miami's 21-32 record and of course by the fact he eats Kit Kat bars all wrong.

WEIGHING THE FISH (50 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-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our fifth 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 50 games (actually 53, at 21-32 before last night's win; oops):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @40 

1  Giancarlo Stanton      243.7    1

2  Dee Gordon                  219.9    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria  174.8   3

4  Martin Prado              173.7   5

5  Marcell Ozuna            165.1   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         118.9    7

7  Justin Bour                 115.2   --

8  Ichiro Suzuki              107.9   6

9  Christian Yelich        102.3   9

10  Michael Morse            91.7   8

Note: Season WTFs count is now Stanton 3, Gordon 2.

ANSWERING LEBATARD SHOW TWEETS: I rarely respond directly to or answer Tweets (sorry), but here are responses to a select few related to my Tuesday appearance on the Dan LeBatard Show: To snarkyRedhd: I'm pro-Caitlyn Jenner and use "she"  .....  ericlnewmark: The Singing Sportswriter semi-retired  .....  RoxFan17: Except I don't fish  .....  TheEpistle: Yes my email is gcote@miamiherald.com  .....  crherbs: No. LeBatard buys the $40 cigars. I buy a 5-pack for $10.99  .....  mfr234: Fusion TV did the Fatty Arbuckles photoshop, so no idea what you mean  .....  Thanks en masse to all those who sent complimentary Tweets. My favorite, from loggylog1: "If you don't like @gregcote you don't like America."

Poll result: Much negativity on Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn: Not for the first time I find many of my readers to be a bit less tolerant than I'd prefer, but, hey, it's a free country. We asked, and 49.7 percent had a negative view of Jenner's transgendering, finding the tale too weird for words. Another 34.8% were positive, saying "good for her," while 15.5% were unsure what to think.

THE LIST: FLORIDA TEAMS PLAYING FOR CHAMPIONSHIP: Tampa Bay, in the current Stanley Cup Finals that began last night, marks the 19th time a team from the state of Florida has played for the championship of the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL. The complete list, chronologically:

Season    Team                    Result

1971       Dolphins                L Cowboys

1972       Dolphins                W Redskins

1973       Dolphins                W Vikings

1982       Dolphins                L Redskins

1984       Dolphins                L 49ers

1995       Magic                    L Rockets

1996       Panthers                L Avalanche

1997       Marlins                  W Indians

2002       Buccaneers            W Raiders

2003       Marlins                  W Yankees

2004       Lightning              W Flames

2006       Heat                     W Mavericks

2008       Rays                      L Phillies

2009       Magic                    L Lakers

2011       Heat                     L Mavericks

2012       Heat                     W Thunder

2013       Heat                     W Spurs

2014       Heat                     L Spurs

2015       Lightning              Vs. Blackhawks

The city totals: Miami 13 (5 Dolphins, 5 Heat, 2 Marlins, 1 Panthers); Tampa 4 (2 Lightning, 1 Bucs, 1 Rays); and Orlando 2 (both Magic).

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

June 02, 2015

Bruce Jenner introduces Caitlyn. What do you think? New poll. Vote now!; plus Sepp Blatter resigns, UM reaches NCAA Super-Regional, Marlins demote Cishek, Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with NBA, Wade, pucks, tennis, horses & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today on radio (3-7 The Ticket Miami and 4-7 ESPN Radio) and on TV (4-7 Fusion). 

Sepp Blatters resigns: FIFA's president resigned today, four days after being reelected, in the midst of a bribery/corruption scandal. "I am the president of everyone," he had said. Now he is the president of nobody. Assumption: Blatter knows the hammer is coming, that he likely is to be imminently indicted in the scandal.

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 2. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade/Heat impasse with poll, UM-FIU feud, Dolphins uniform rank, FIFA verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1acaitlynBRUCE JENNER IS NOW CAITLYN: Former Olympic decathlon champion and Wheaties box cover-boy Bruce Jenner completed his transgender transition to her this week, unveiling Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vogue. This is a lot for many of us to wrap our heads around. There was Chastity Bono (Sonny & Cher's daughter) becoming a man named Chaz. But clearly, Jenner is the most prominent American athlete and celebrity to transgender, at least by my eye. His periphery to the Kardashian clan and all of that attendant tabloid fame makes the story only bigger still. The attention to this is such that Jenner, on Monday, became the fastest person ever to go from no Twitter to 1 million-plus followers, surpassing Barack Obama's record. I'm curious what our readers think of Bruce becoming Caitlyn. I think it takes courage -- balls, as it were -- to do this so publicly, at this age. I say good for her. Now it's your turn. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Canes 21, Columbia 3: Miami Hurricanes had lost at home to Columbia, 3-0, in the NCAA Regional, forcing a winner-take-all game between the teams last night. (Click on The Victim of Charming for my column from that game. I wrote that Columbia University, an Ivy League team, was a charming little story that threatened to crush mighty UM). Last night, though, order was restored, with Miami cruising into next week's super-regional, also here, a best 2-out-of-3 vs. Virginia Commonwealth.

"There are only five people still alive who were born in the 1800s. I wonder who the other four are?" --Greg Cote

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): 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. FIFA: Scandalized soccer body re-elects Blatter: Federal corruption and bribery indictments rocked soccer's world governing body, yet unindicted president Sepp Blunder Blatter was re-elected the very same week despite being ultimately responsible for FIFA's messy shame. Imagine if Richard Nixon had won reelection at the height of Watergate? This was that.

2. MARLINS: Stanton blasts awaken struggling Fish: With Cubs in town for three, the Marlins are now 4-9 under new manager Dan Jennings and last night demoted struggling closer Steve Cishek to Double-A to work on his mechanics. But Miami had won two of three at the Mets -- one thanks to four home runs including a pair by Giancarlo Stanton. (Isn't it amazing how much better Jennings seems as a manager when his team hits four homers?)

3. NBA: It's a Golden State-Cleveland Finals, as expected: From the moment playoffs began it seemed inevitable LeBron James and league MVP Steph Curry would meet in the Finals. And they will. Eventually. Game 1 is Thursday night after a full week's delay since the conference finals. Don't worry, Miami. Before long it'll be time to boo and hate-watch LeBron again.

4. HEAT: Wade camp turns up contract heat on Heat: It was reported the Heat and Dwyane Wade are significantly apart on money, and that Wade may ponder leaving in free agency. In other words, Wade's people used the media to put a little public pressure on the team. Few believe Wade actually will leave, but it makes for a neat little diversion while waiting for the NBA Finals.   

5. COLLEGE BASEBALL: UM prevails in must-win, advances: The Miami Hurricanes were in the NCAA Regional championship game in their own ballpark last night and clobbered Columbia, 21-3. Miami is now two wins from advancing past the super-regional, also here, next weekend. Next time the Canes play a road game, it had better be in Omaha.

6. NHL: Stanley Cup Finals set after two Game 7 semis: Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning went the distance to play for Lord Stanley's chalice, beginning with Game 1 Wednesday night in Tampa. (Dear NBA: That's how to stage two exciting semis and get right to a Finals).

7. TENNIS: French Open passes its midpoint: It's now past midpoint of the red-clay major, and looking like No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic could unseat French champion Rafael Nadal on the men's side. In women's half, upset-loss by defending champ Maria Sharapova appears to clear path for top-seeded Serena Williams.

8. HORSE RACING: American Pharoah's moment nears: We are four days now from the 147th Belmont Stakes. More important, we are four days until American Pharoah tries to become first horse since 1978 to win a Triple Crown. This is the year it actually happens. No, seriously. I think. Maybe.

9. WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: U.S. among favorites: Women's soccer owns its quadrennial stage in the month-long World Cup starting this coming Saturday in Canada, with the United States and Germany generally considered co-favorites. FIFA may be shamed, but the game is still beautiful.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins continues offseason OTAs: Miami's second organized team activity (OTA) practice day was Monday. This is all very exciting, for those intensely interested in how their team practices more than three months from the start of the season. You know you're desperate for news when the big story is the kicker being injured and out for a few weeks.

Missing the cut: WNBA season opens. NBA Draft ahead. National Spelling Bee ends in a tie between Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar, who successfully spelled each other's name.

Poll result: Mixed feelings on Heat/Wade contract matter: We asked and 51.4 percent said Dwyane Wade at this point in his career should be satisfied with less money but another 41.8% said Heat should pay him the max for all he's done. The other 6.8% were undecided or unsure.

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May 28, 2015

On Heat vs. Wade impasse: Who's right? Poll. Vote now!; plus UM beats FIU 6-2, Sepp Blatter, Dolphins' rank on NFL uniforms list, verdict on FIFA scandal & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 30. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, is off this week. However, our blog-exclusive adjunct, the Hot Button Top 10, will appear here Sunday as always. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): FIFA scandal with poll, LeBron facing Finals heat, Abbot & Costello Marlins, 'Fish In the Dark' & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"Sepp Blatter being reelected as FIFA president on Friday is like Richard Nixon winning a second term in the midst of Watergate." --Greg Cote

Miami Beach Bowl: College football bowl game announced that the second annual Miami Beach Bowl will be played Monday, Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m., again at Marlins Park.

NBA delay: Don't go there: If you hear anybody whining about the long, week's delay before the start of the NBA Finals (and you have, or will), please tell them to shut up and complain about something that matters.  

WADE/HEAT CONTRACT IMPASSE IS COMPLICATED BY EMOTION: The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported citing anonymous sources that Dwyane Wade and the Heat are significantly apart in contract talks, 1aa1adwadeand that there is a chance Wade will opt out this summer, test free agency and possibly even leave Miami. I believe the chances of Wade actually leaving are remote, because I believe the Heat does not want Wade to leave, and that Dwyane wishes to spend his entire career in the city where he is a three-time champion and revered. This story is mostly about one side using an ever-willing media to get across its message. The story is interesting, though, because it involves cold reality vs. emotion, and it involves the value of loyalty. Wade sacrificed $10.6 million off what he was owed by agreeing to a reworked two-year, $31 million deal that is to pay him $16 million this coming season. It is believed he wants to recoup that money by getting a deal that would pay him around $20 million per season over the next three years. That gulf, to me, seems small enough to bridge, but it would require compromise. The cold reality: Wade, at his age (33) and with his injury history, probably should be happy with the $16 million. His All-Star days and max-contract days may be past. Not sure he'd do better on the open market, although you never know. (The rejoining-LeBron-in-Cleveland speculation already is out there). The emotional argument in all this: That the Heat owes Wade in every sense, and should be willing to over-spend to keep to keep him, and keep him happy. That's the value of loyalty. I have to believe Pat Riley will find a way here. Meantime, what would you do if you were Riley: Take a hard line and pay Wade what you think he is worth now? Or pay him more than you feel he is worth to make up for his earlier sacrifices, and out of respect. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

MIAMI BEATS FIU 6-2 AS FEUDIN' NEIGHBORS FINALLY MEET: Update: Miami beat FIU last night, 6-2. Click on Bigger Than a Feud for my column from the ballpark. Original post: UM and FIU meet in baseball tonight for the first time since 1aa1ajmorris
1aa1acgablesreg
1aa1atthomas2008, though not by choice, at 7 p.m. in the four-team NCAA regional The U is hosting in Coral Gables. It's an open secret that Canes coach Jim Morris and FIU's Turtle Thomas -- Morris' assistant for 12 seasons through 1999 --  had a falling out and don't especially like each other. Morris and Thomas are pictured. Thomas would count it a career highlight by beating Miami tonight, even if he'd never admit it. The pressure is on Miami, top-seeded in this regional and a No. 5 national seed, to beat its underdog city neighbor. Should be deliciously intense. I'll be down there columnizing tonight.

DOLPHINS' UNIFORMS RANKED MID-PACK IN NFL: AOL.com ranks all 32 NFL uniforms (click here) and the top five are Packers, Steelers, Raiders, Cowboys and Chiefs. AFC East teams are mid-pack with Jets 10th, Bills 16th, Dolphins 17th and Patriots 22nd. (Bulletin: New England finishes last in division!) Dead-last overall: Tampa Bay Bucs. 

Poll result: FIFA scandal a huge story: We asked about this week's soccer scandal and 58.9 percent called the FIFA corruption indictments a "huge" story, 20.2% called it "big," 4.8% "medium" and 16.1% "minor."

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May 27, 2015

FIFA scandal, my Blatter-must-go column and poll. Vote now!; plus NBA Finals odds, also Gordon, Stanton on ASG pace, 'Fish In the Dark', Abbot & Costello Marlins, Dolphins win May & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, a salute to Memorial Day (50,000 Names), UM/MLS stadium verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Gordon, Stanton on pace to start in All-Star Game: First NL All-Star voting trends are out, with a double dose of desperately needed good news Marlins and Marlfans. Dee Gordon leads all second basemen in voting, and Giancarlo Stanton is third among outfielders -- both on pace to start.

Tap breaks on Dolphins: Fins had their first OTA (organized team activity) practice day this week and it was decorated as a symbolic start to the 2015 season, with much made in particular about how good Ndamukong Suh looked. All of which earns the following two-word commentary: "It's freakin' May!"  

THE FIFA CORRUPTION SCANDAL: Yesterday's indictment in Switzerland of 14 persons including nine 1aa1afifacurrent or former FIFA officials is the biggest story in global sports. It also is big in America, considering the U.S. is behind the lengthy investigation and is extraditing the accused for prosecution. Click on Blatter Must Go for my latest column, online and in today's inky pulp editions. I write that now is the time for a clean break. FIFA president Sepp Blatter (pictured artfully blurry at right) has presided over 17 years of sporadic but seemingly unending scandal -- including controversy over the awarding of the 2018 and '22 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Blatter should resign or be voted out of office in Friday's election. Doubt either will happen, but we can dream. Meanwhile, weigh in on how serious you think this latest FIFA story is.

LEBRON BREEZES TO FINALS. NEXT STOP: HEARTACHE: Cleveland Cavaliers fans are delusional, in 1aa1alebonrgeneral, I think, but especially as they view this Cavs team and the upcoming NBA Finals vs. Golden State. (Warriors clinched last night). We can forgive Cavs fans naturally thinking that having LeBron James is the panacea that overcomes all. Miami and Heat fans can relate. But Clevelanders resist the reality check that LeBron and mates will be a clear underdog (see below) vs. Steph Curry and the Warriors. It will be interesting to see LeBron in that unfamiliar role. For many in Miami, it will be delicious. By the way, J.R. Smith posted on Instagram his team's hot-tub party after the Cavs swept Atlanta in the East finals ... just in case you didn't dislike LeBron quite enough. Click here to watch.

Warriors clear faves over Cavs: SportsBettingDime.com today has Golden State a 4-9 favorite to win the NBA Finals, with Cleveland at 16-7. Warriors in six games is likeliest pick at 18-7. Finals MVP odds are Steph Curry 2-3, LeBron James 2-1 and the field at 12-1.

MARLINS A MODERN-DAY ABBOT & COSTELLO ROUTINE: After turning its general manager into the manager and then raising eyebrows with a pool celebration after finally winning to end an earlier eight-game losing streak, the Marlins' sudden demotion of Brett Butler from third-base coach to outfield and base-running duties continues the notion that the ballclub is flying by the seat of its pants. ("Who's on third!") Mike Redmond got fired in part for being seen as too passive and conservative. Now replacement Dan Jennings is seen by some as over-managing -- and demoting Butler fits that perception pretty well. By the way, Marlins fired Redmond at 16-22 and are now 2-8 under Jennings. Winning cures all, of course. Fish need to make a push toward .500 as Jose Fernandez returns in a month or so.

 

'FISH IN THE DARK': A confession, first: Larry David is one of my favorite entertainers. Curb Your

1aa1adavidlEnthusiasm
was must-watch, appointment-TV every week for me, and I long for its return. So I was 1aa1afishpredisposed to love "Fish In the Dark," the (fairly) new Broadway comedy starring David. We spent the recent long holiday weekend in New York and saw it with front-row seats, because my wife (in charge of arrangements) is not nearly as cheap as me. How great were the seats? At right is a photo from the performance, taken discreetly (and against all rules) by my son. Anyway, the show was great. No unexpected ground broken; Larry David was pretty much the character we all know -- but that is exactly who the adoring audience came to see. Terrific show! Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

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May 23, 2015

UM football / MLS soccer shared-stadium venture: Good idea? New poll. Vote now!; plus King of Late-Night and Kidgate verdicts, proctology news & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, MAY 24. Click on Random for our latest Random Evidence, the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): David Letterman farewell with King of Late-Night poll, Steph Curry/Kidgate poll, Dolphins top-paid NFL team, punter disses Tannehill, Weighing the Fish at 40, Heat draft, D.Wade's new game, 'real' Miami Vice video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Hot Button Top 10: The HB10, our regular blog-exclusive Sunday feature, will appear here Monday evening this week.  

ON THE HURRICANES FOOTBALL / MLS SOCCER JOINT STADIUM VENTURE: You know the University of Miami and the David Beckham group trying to bring Major League Soccer here have met about a shared 1aa1astadiumsharestadium that would be built near Marlins Park. (One proposed rendering is pictured). It would be about 40,000 seats, which strikes us a bit too small for UM and a bit too big for MLS. (The Canes already have intimated they would still play marquee homes games, such as vs. Florida State, at much-bigger Dolphin stadium). I'm not sure if the proposed merger serves either side particularly well. UM, which of course needs the on-campus stadium it has never realized, would be closer to campus ... but enough to make a difference? The Beckham group, which has tried mightily and failed to have a downtown waterfront stadium, would suddenly be OK with Little Havana? For both sides it feels like settling. I have no better alternative dealing with each side's current realities, and I am not saying this wouldn't work fine. But I wonder how both sides of fans -- Canes football fans and people waiting to support MLS soccer here -- feel about the deal under discussion? About sharing a stadium? About the location? Would UM fans rather stay put at Dolphins stadium? Would soccer fans rather hold out for a different location? Or does what's being discussed sound pretty good? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Carson still King of Late-Night: We asked on the occasion of David Letterman's farewell but you made it clear you haven't forgotten his mentor. Johnny Carson earned 70.4 percent of your vote for King of Late Night, more than triple Letterman's 22.5%. After that it was 4.1% for Jay Leno and 3.0% for "someone else."

Poll result: On Steph Curry's side in Kidgate: We asked if athletes such as NBA star Steph Curry should be allowed to bring their kids to postgame press conferences, and it was 56.0 percent yes, 38.3% no and 5.7% undecided.

URGENT P1aa1aproctologyROCTOLOGY NEWS: As your full-service blog we like to keep you abreast of major medical breakthroughs, and here's one: Something that simulates the look and feel of a human derriere so that butting budding proctologists might become digitally adept before confronting an actual human being, as seen in the photo. They have named the device "Patrick," which must thrill all you Patricks out there. Click on Fake Proctology Ass for the tail tale that explains it all. Updates as warranted.

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