February 13, 2016

Should Dolphins look into suddenly available Matt Forte? Poll. Vote now!; plus here's how bad Heat 3-point shooting is; also Dwight Howard, Panthers' record pace, ex-Canes at Combine, Ted Cruz's porn star, Kanye West's heavenly video game & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13. ICYMI, click on Riley's Last Push for my column earlier this week on Pat Riley's drive to win another Heat championship. 2) Marlins pitchers and catchers report in six days to spring training in Jupiter. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Heat players in Top 100 and how much they were ours, Dolphins two-round mock draft, Shaq verdict, Riley's imperative, The List (Marlins homers), chocolate bunny under siege & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Pats' owner throws shade on Mannings: Patriots owner Robert Kraft in a radio interview this week, referring to Archie Manning: "He has two sons who have won two Super Bowls [each]. But with all due respect, we've got one son who's won four."

ForteMATT FORTE TO THE DOLPHINS MAY BE WORTH EXPLORING: That's if Lamar Miller leaves and if Forte is affordable. That is the gist of my newest column; click on The Forte Factor to read. Matt Forte, the career-long Chicago Bears running back, announced yesterday the team would not re-sign him, meaning he will be a free agent free to sign with any team come March 9. Adam Gase, the Dolphins' new head coach, knows Forte as well as anyone, having been Chicago's offensive coordinator. And Miami may have a need at the position if, as expected, pending free agent Miller is not re-signed. At the least, Forte's sudden availability is worth exploring if the price is right. The downside: He just turned 30. The upside: Just about everything else. Forte has been durable, starting 120 of a possible 128 games in his career. He has averaged 1,075 rushing yards and 61 catches per season, and would offer the dual-threat Miami has rarely had. Also, because of his age alone, it could be a buyer's market; I suspect he'd be affordable -- the only circumstance under which this would make sense. I wonder what Dolfans think. Should Miami explore signing Forte or avoid him? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

BoshQUANTIFYING HOW BAD HEAT'S 3-POINT SHOOTING REALLY IS: At the All-Star Game break Miami's .323 accuracy on 3-point shots ranked third from the bottom in the NBA, ahead of only Minnesota and the L.A. Lakers. The Heat's 6.1 3's per game ranks fifth from the bottom. But I find more telling how this season ranks in Heat franchise history. Miami set a franchis erecord for 3-point accuracy at .396 just three seasons ago. Now? Here is the club's all-time bottom five in terms of 3-point accuracy. Chris Bosh (pictured) doesn't get enough help, especially with Tyler Johnson out injured. Note that three of the bottom-five lows happened in the franchise's first three seasons, when 3's were much less a part of the game and Miami had the excuse of being an awful expansion team. Bottom-five seasons for team 3-point percentage in Heat history:

Pct.    Season        Made-Atts.    Leader

.293   1989-90      88-300          Jon Sunvold, 44

.302   1990-91      140-464        Glen Rice, 71

.316   2003-04      348-1,100     Eddie Jones, 177

.323   2015-16      322-998        Chris Bosh, 81

.326   1988-89      97-298          Jon Sunvold, 48

DwighthowardDWIGHT HOWARD TRADED TO HEAT? WHAT ARE YOU, DRUNK?: There is speculation to that end as the Feb. 18 NBA trade deadline bears in and the Houston Rockets shop around a possible deal for Dwight Howard, 30, the 6-11 center. Certainly Miami would be an interesting landing spot if the the Heat feels it will need to replace Hassan Whiteside. Here is the problem. Howard has indicated his intention to become a free agent July 1, which severely limits trade interest in him unless the acquiring team can agree to a long-term deal rather just rent him for half a season. That's the same reason there is little chance the Heat could trade Whiteside before the deadline. Another problem: Would the Heat want to make Howard its big-money signing and effectively withdraw from the Kevin Durant Sweepstakes. Pat Riley loves big, bold moves and likely is doing his due diligence on Howard's availability. But call it unlikely that we'll be seeing for real the photoshop presented here. If Riley does make a pre-deadline deal, it'll more likely be for a quick-fix to the 3-point crisis.

ReillysmithFIRE ON ICE: THE PANTHERS' RECORD PACE: Florida not only is leading its NHL division but is on pace for the best regular season in franchise history. The top five seasons based on points percentage and points per game, noting that fifth place, '95-96, was the Stanley Cup Finals year. Current figures are updated through Friday's night's home loss to St. Louis:

Season        Pts.Pct.    PPG    Leading goal scorer

2015-16      .636        1.27    Reilly Smith, 18 (pictured)

1999-00      .598        1.20    Pavel Bure, 58

2011-12      .573        1.15    Tomas Fleischmann, 27

2008-09      .567        1.13    David Booth, 31

1995-96      .561        1.12    Scott Mellanby, 32

FIVE EX-CANES INVITED TO NFL SCOUTING COMBINE: It's Feb. 26-29 in Indianapolis, and former Miami Hurricanes footballers Artie Burns, Deon Bush, Ufomba Kamalu, Raphael Kirby and Rashawn Scott will be among the more than 300 draft prospects invited. It's a rather weak crop for UM. The cornerback Burns probably is the highest-regarded prospect, generally pegged as a likely third-round pick who could sneak into the low second round.

AmylindsayOOPS, SAYS THE TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN: I love love love this story. Ted Cruz's Republican presidential campaign has scrambled to yank an ad released Thursday because it was reported an actress in the commercial formerly starred in soft-core porn. In the ad, the women refers to Marco Rubio as just a "pretty face." Well, that actress, Amy Lindsay, formerly appeared in such film titles as "Erotic Confessions," "Secrets Of a Chambermaid" and "Carnal Wishes." The controversial thespian is pictured at right. I'll say this in defense of the Cruz campaign. This does not make me like him less, because nothing could. I cannot confirm that Rubio criticized the ad ... and then repeated the criticism verbatim four more times.

KANYE WEST CREATES WORLD'S MOST DEPRESSING VIDEO GAME: Rap mogul and all-roound modest guy Kanye West has developed a video game called Only One, which centers around his mother (who passed away in 2007) and her path to heaven. He previewed a trailer Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, and we present it below. And, yes, it is every bit as strange as you might imagine:

 

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February 10, 2016

Do you agree with Heat retiring Shaq's jersey number? New poll. Vote now!; plus a video ode to Peyton Manning ("Omahallelujah!"), Miami Jackson High's historic gamble, how and why Super Bowl 50 let us down & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10. Carly Fiorina, who looked, talked and acted like the one teacher at school every student hates, dropped out of the Republican presidential race today. 2) Oy! Dolphins are ranked a depressing 24th in ESPN's post-Super Bowl 2016 NFL Power Rankings. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl 50 with postgame poll, Hot Button Top 10, Hurricanes men rise in polls & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Congrats to Canes' four brainiacs: xFour Miami Hurricanes football players -- quarterbacjk Brad Kaaya, offensive linemen Alex Gall and Nick Linder and punyer Justin Vogel -- were among 56 players named Wednesday to the All-ACC Academic Team.

The new 'Back In My Day': Just posted it on my Facebook page.

Super Bore 50!: Let us count the ways Sunday's big game and its surrounding attractions let us down. Lady Gaga's national anthem was great. Otherwise? From the game itself to the pregame show, the broadcast, the halftime show, the TV commercials and the postgame, there was much not to like. That's the gist of my latest column. Click on I Want To Kill Puppymonkeybaby to read in full.

ShaqSHOULD THE HEAT BE LIFTING SHAQ'S JERSEY INTO THE RAFTERS?: The Miami Heat yesterday announced it would retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 uniform number at the start of next season, making him only the third player in club history (Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning) afforded such an honor. But is it justified? Leading the "yes" argument: Shaq had a huge hand in helping win Miami's first NBA championship and raising the franchise's profile to a whole new level. Leading the "no" argument: Longevity. He played only 3 1/2 seasons for the Heat (July 2004 'til February '08), and left on frosty terms. There is also the fact he is much better known as a Los Angeles Laker, for whom he spent his prime seasons and had his greatest success. So, yes or no? Your call.

Peyton"OMAHALLELUJAH!": It figured that a video tribute to Peyton Manning would come via the homespun radio variety show, A Prairie Home Companion, the Garrison Keillor production based out of St. Paul, Minn. Cam Newton would have gotten  some sort of rap treatment for winning the Super Bowl, one imagines. Peyton gets bluegrass from the Midwest. Check this out, though. Smarted lyrically and created and performed just in the past few days:

 

HISTORY! MIAMI JACKSON'S BOLD MOVE:  Miami Jackson High School makes history today by becoming the first Florida high school to hire a female head football coach. She is Lakatriona
"Bernice" Brunson (pictured), perhaps previously best-known as a recent star of the truTV reality tow-truck series, South Beach Tow. The Jackson Generals further make news by hiring Luther Brunson"Luke" Campbell, originally famous as the leader of the 2 Live Crew rap group, as defensive coordinator. Campbell previously has coached prep football at Central, Northwestern and Norland. If the hirings prove to be as successful on the field as they are instantly attention-getting, Jackson will have found itself a bounty. Brunson was graduated from Miami Northwestern High in 1995, playing basketball and track and field. She threw shot put and discus and helped lead one of the state's powers in the sport, later playing basketball and graduating from Tennessee State. She teaches phys-ed at Jackson. Campbell told the Miami Herald: "At first I thought this might be crazy because I take football real serious. But after a conversation with her, I said, 'Naw, she knows her football. She's on point.' I don't take this as a joke. I didn't want to be a part of no circus." In my blog headline I call this a "bold gamble " for Jackson. I say "gamble" not so much because Brunson is a woman, but because she has no coaching experience. It would be bold in any case, but the inexperience at the job is what makes it a gamble.  Jackson hopes the new regime can finally help win the school's first state football championship after three semifinal losses, most recently in 2012. It is close to impossible to not wish the trail-blazing Brunson well.

Poll result: You found Super Bowl 50 to be a bit below average: We asked how you rated the Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl experience, and it was "worse than average" at 43.4 percent, "about the same" at 33.0% and "better than average" at 23.6%.

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February 04, 2016

Rating the Hurricanes' Signing-Day bounty: New poll. Vote now!; plus skill positions, linebacker head Richt's incoming UM class; also, new Super Bowl With a Smirk III on the power of the chicken wing, updated NBA/NHL odds & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Gulp! Today I'm at Friday Page HQ deciding who'll win the Super Bowl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl With a Smirk I, Ted Cruz looks like a vampire & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Florida Panthers remain better title bet than Heat: Latest betting odds from from Bovada have Golden State now even at 1-1 for NBA championship, with Cleveland and San Antonio next at 11-4 each. Miami is tied for eighth at 66-1. NHL title odds are led by Washington at 4-1, Chicago 5-1 and Los Anegles 15-2, with Florida tied for sixth at 16-1. (Cats could become a trendy bet; they just won at Washington, 5-2). Prohibitive MVP faves are Warriors' Steph Curry at 1-4 and Blackhawks' Patrick Kane at 1-3.

AMID THE OVERBLOWN HYPE OF NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, CANES AND RICHT SCRAMBLE TO NAIL DOWN SOLID CLASS: [Click HERE to meet the Hurricanes' newly minted 18-man 2016 recruiting class]. I get why so many fans are drunk with interest (or perhaps just drunk in general) over National Signing Day. It is to college football what the NFL Draft is at the higher level. The pipeline. The replenisher. It's a first indication how successful your team might be in the Nsdnext few years. What amuses me, though, is the media and fans' instant and self-assured analysis of something inherently unpredictable. We are talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. The coveted five-star recruit might flame out. The lightly recruited two-star guy could become your program's savior. The preps-to-colleges outlook simply is not as readable or reliable as the colleges-to-pros jump because there is a greater lump-of-clay factor. High-school players are not fully formed; they need Allisondevelopment. They  need coaching. Al Golden and his staff did not do that sufficiently. That's why Mark Richt is now running Miami Hurricanes football. Richt was hamstrung by coming into Canes recruiting late but seems to have made up ground. UM's class was ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN, with 10 Top 300 prospects among its 18 recruits. I know there are thin areas and have been some notable defections, but I like what I see of the Canes' 2016 class. The linebacker gets are extremely impressive. And the offensive skill-position bounty seems very good, led by QB Jack Allison (Palmetto), RB Travis Homer (West Palm) and WR Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas). Allison (pictured), a 6-5 pro-style passer, will be groomed as the heir to Brad Kaaya; Bruce has five-star speed and skills but is downgraded for being only 5-8. Here is ESPN's synopsis of the UM bounty, condensed: "The Hurricanes surged after the hire of Richt. They landed ESPN 300 DE Patrick Bethel on Dec. 14. He is joined in the class by QB Allison, playmaker Bruce and fellow speedster Dionte Mullins. WR Ahmmon Richards (No. 212 in ESPN 300) was a great addition on signing day. Adding another ESPN 300 prospect, Homer and his 4.48 speed, was a big win at running back. The Hurricanes' class at receiver and linebacker is especially impressive, including LBs Shaquille Quarterman and Zachary McCloud. Three-star defensive tackle prospect Tre Johnson has considerable upside." Richt called Sam Bruce "very explosive," a slot receiver whose speed "gives him the ability to get on the edge as well." The coach called Travis Homer "A very skilled back," adding, "He was the second guy I watched after Jack [Allison] and I had a big grin when I watched the tape." Richt was hamstrung by his latte arrival in a recruiting game built on relationships. "When you have everything in place and all your support staff is clicking, there's some energy and synergy going on," he said. "But when you start that train from ground zero and try to move that thing, getting to know (everybody), there's so many things to do in such a short time." Richt and this class should be graded on that curve. The new coach sounded subdued Wednesday. Tired. "But it's a good tired," he said. We invite your initial thoughts on UM's 2016 recruiting bounty in the poll below. None of us can know for sure, of course. But that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion, right?

SMIRK III: CHICKEN-WING METRIC FAVORS CAROLINA, SB BLING UPDATE, HERDING THE HOMELESS, '17 SB ODDS: Here comes Smirk III, the third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns. The National Chicken Council — whose name alone conjures a clandestine assembly of poultry elders convening in George Orwell’s Animal Farm — has released its Chickens2016 Wing Report, the bible of Super Bowl snacking. The NCC estimates a record 1.3 billion wings will be eaten by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday, 39 million more than last year. The wing is king; pizza bows and curtsies. For example, Domino’s estimates it will sell 12 million slices on Sunday. Those 162.5 million pounds of wings, if laid end to end, would stretch from Charlotte to Denver almost 53 times. That amounts to 600 wings for every seat in every NFL stadium in the United States. Smirk has a word for that many wings: Dinner! Wings will not only probably dominate your Super Bowl party. The jointed marvels also have proven an accurate predictor of the game, based on the competing cities’ average expenditure on wings. This season that barometer went 7-3 in the playoffs and has accurately forecast four of the past five Super Bowls. Now the National Chicken Council reports (befitting a drum roll) that Charlotte residents spend $1,400 on wings per $1 million spent in local grocery stores — nearly three times the $480 devoted to wings in Denver. "It would be nice to see Peyton Manning go out with a victory, but numbers don’t lie," says the NCC’s fabulously named communications director, Tom Super. "Follow the chicken."

▪ The betting over/under is 2 minutes 20 seconds for Lady Gaga’s pregame national anthem on Sunday. What prevents Gaga from telling all her family and friends to bet big on the “under” and then coming in at 1:57? Hey, I’m just asking!

▪ Repucom, a sports and entertainment research company, measures the metrics on more than 3,800 athletes and celebrities and says Panthers QB Cam Newton now has a better "influential score" — the ability to change people’s perceptions — than President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. President Newton?

Jesuspendant▪ Super Bowl Week Bling Update: Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wears a Rolex watch valued at $80,000. Denver safety T.J. Ward counters with a similarly priced gold-encrusted pendant depicting the face of Jesus, replete with thorny crown.

▪ The game is in surburban Santa Clara, but San Francisco clearly is "Super Bowl City" in terms of festivities, and Fusion.net reports the city quietly has herded its homeless population to a four-block tent city three miles away. Apparently the host committee thinks NFL fans OK with concussions and player arrests would be aghast at the sight of a panhandler.

▪ Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called "your couch."

Budhelen▪ Helen Mirren will star in an anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad for Budweiser. Hmm. C’mon, Bud! Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get to preach against drunk driving any more than Smith & Wesson gets to bemoan gun violence.

▪ Super Bowl security on Sunday will include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force heading a task force of more than 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t deflated.

▪ OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: "Super Bowl history of missed extra points."

Fifty▪ Finally, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook already has laid betting odds to win next year’s Super Bowl, and it’s Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on top at 8-1. (Panthers are 10-1 and Broncos 14-1.) Smirk needed a miner’s helmet and pickaxe to find the Dolphins. At 50-1, only the 49ers and Browns have longer odds than Miami.

SMIRK II: THE UNEXPECTED INSPIRATION FOR SUCCESSFUL SUPER BOWL ADS, MISS UNIVERSE, A REF NAMED CLETE, GREYHOUND FORETELLS RESULT: Welcome to Smirk II, the second of
five daily Super Bowl notes columns. As we all know SB television commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gustavfreytag
Donkey National Association of Self-Serving Advertising Executives. Well, those TV ads also are as closely watched and analyzed as the game, apparently. A new study of each year’s highest-rated SB ads was conducted by researchers Keith Quesenberry of Messiah College and Michael Coolsen of Shippensburg University. Quesenberry told Time.com they concluded that the most successful, well-liked ads are presented as mini-movies in a five-act story structure such as that favored by legendary playwright William Shakespeare. The study also found most of the best Super Bowl ads follow “Gustav’s Pyramid,” the five-part story structure — exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement — espoused by 19th Century German novelist Gustav Freytag. A separate study by Smirk found that most successful Super Bowl ads feature yodeling animals in straw hats. (Pictured left: Gustav Freytag and a typical star of a Super Bowl ad). In an unrelated story, Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a Super Bowl television commercial for Amazon Echo, which has the electronic voice of “Alexa” answering your questions. Amazon denied it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s Siri. “Yeah, right!” snorted the entire country.

▪ Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrived at the Super Bowl in a pair of Versace zebra-print pants that retail for almost $900. Oh, and gold-tip loafers. By contrast, I think Broncos QB Peyton Manning arrived in a Jim Tressel sweater vest and Hush Puppies. GQ “Style Guy” Anthony Green revealed to ESPN that Newton’s daring sartorial splendor could be a good omen for Carolina.

▪ Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly Media Day) featured Newton freestyle rapping, an Austrian sportscaster in ski clothes, a man dressed in a gold leotard, a leprechaun in Broncos colors and Josh Norman in a Luchador wrestling mask. In other words, pretty much the usual stuff.

▪ I don’t wanna say I’m beginning to doubt Manning’s denial that he ever used human growth hormone, but at Tuesday’s weigh-in he was 6-11 and 314 pounds.

▪ This could be a dull Super Bowl Week if we don’t get some decent controversy beyond that silly HGH story. Smirk will do his part at Wednesday’s media session by attempting to plant deer-antler spray on Ted Ginn Jr.

Missuniverse▪ Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach (Phillipines), is covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition. Apparently an embittered Miss Colombia was denied a credential. At least that’s what Steve Harvey told me.

▪ CBS held a news conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to reveal it has more than 550 personnel and 100 cameras swarming the Bay Area. The event went well before degenerating into a fistfight between Jim Nantz and Phi Simms. OK Smirk made up that last thing.

▪ Federal officials said Tuesday there is no specific, credible threat to this week’s Super Bowl, other than it tanking in the ratings because Carolina is so far ahead.

▪ The NFL announced its Sunday officiating crew headed by referee Clete Blakeman, and nobody cared except the men’s immediate families.

Grammar▪ Panthers fans are more grammatically correct than Broncos fans, according to a Twitter study by grammarly.com. Carolina fans (6.6) made fewer grammar mistakes per 100 words than Denver fans (7.6). Both deploy the language far better than Dolphins fans, who ranked 30th of 32 teams at 11.9.

▪ A skirmish arose Tuesday along “Radio Row” when competing producers for rival stations 790 The Ticket Miami and WQAM came to blows over first dibs to a profusely sweating Chris Berman.

Carolinadog▪ Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.

Previously: Click on Smirk I for Tuesday's debut. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 30, 2016

What sport has best (or least awful) All-Star Game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dan Marino's new Super Bowl ad (with video), runners who make marathons an unhealthy obsession, '72 Dolphins lose again, control-freak LeBron & more

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

Phelps1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 30. How great is this? Champion swimmer Michael Phelps, wearing Speedos and his Olympic medals, joined Arizona's State's "Curtain of Distraction" at a basketball game last night. 2) Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane guitarist and founding member, dead at 74. Man, all the old rockers are peeling away. 3) ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for the Fusion TV/LeBatard Show spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost: Canes '16 football schedule analysis, '72 Dolphins finally lose, UM basketball and baseball, #WomenNotObjects, activities book for Satanic children & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Anybody but me noticed that Heat limited partner Raanan Katz's name is pronounced 'rainin' cats'?" --Greg Cote

Word of the day: anorak: British slang for someone obsessively interested in something that doesn't seem to merit such attention. Example: "He's a bloody anorak for running those marathons, isn't he?"

Lust for power, control is who LeBron is: That's the theme of my recent column; click Chosen And In Charge to read. Email reaction has seen Heat fans generally loving the column and others (read: Clevelanders) not so much. I don't consider the column pro-Heat or anti-LeBron. I'm simply exploring how everything about LeBron's career makes believable the prevailing idea he had a hand in David Blatt's firing, and plausible the report that he also maneuvered to see Erik Spoelstra removed while in Miami.

IT'S ALL-STAR GAME SEASON, UNFORTUNATELY: Today's latest column by me centers on All-Star Game Season, with the NFL Pro Bowl and NHL All-Star Game both Sunday and the NBA's ASG Nflpb
Nhlasg Nbaasg  Mlbasgtwo weeks later. The NBA has the best of those three, though that's faint praise. Baseball's July Midsummer Classic gets it closest to right, because of tradition and the fact the game matters. The Pro Bowl to me is the worst of them all -- mainly because the players themselves don't give a s---. In the other three sports players are honored to participate. Football players actively dream up reason to avoid the game, as I detail in the column. Click on The All-Star Shame to read in full. The poll asks you which of the big-four all-star games you think is the best one, although I could as easily have worded the question, "Which is the least bad." In this poll I challenge you to separate which sport you may prefer from which league presents its all-stars best.

Dolphins in 2016 NFL Pro Bowl: C Mike Pouncey was team's only actual, originally chosen all-star but will not play because of an alleged injury. Replacement players (quasi-Pro Bowlers) are OT Branden Albert and S Reshad Jones (Team Irvin) and WR/KR Jarvis Landry and CB Brent Grimes (Team Rice).

Panthers in 2016 NHL All-Star Game: F Jaromir Jagr won a fan vote to be Atlantic Division captain, and D Aaron Ekblad and G Roberto Luongo join him on team. Gerad Gallant will coach Atlantic team via Cats' first-place division standing.

Heat in 2016 NBA All-Star Game: G Dwyane Wade was voted in as an Eastern Conference starter. F Chris Bosh was selected as a reserve.

Marlins in 2015 MLB All-Star Game: OF Giancarlo Stanton and 2B Dee Gordon made the team.

DAN MARINO'S NEW SUPER BOWL AD: The Dolphins great and actor Alec Baldwin star in an upcoming Super Bowl ad for Amazon Echo. If you don't know it, Amazon Echo goes by the nickname, "Blatant Ripoff of Apple's Siri." Cute ad, though. Here it is:

  

RunningTHE UNHEALTHINESS OF IT WHEN RUNNING BECOMES AN OBSESSION: I've seen a couple of recent instances in my own newspaper. We in the media cover and write laudingly of people who have made a lifestyle of running marathons, of running in general, without noting how strange it is, and how unhealthy it seems Running4from a mental standpoint when that practice evolves into an overriding obsession. One was the story of a 71-year Texas man who made the Miami Marathon the 1,606th he had competed in. Another was the story of a 35-year-old Massachusetts woman in the process of running in seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Both of those instances are wonderful to some, but weird to others of us. I wonder if the running-obsessed are able to step back and see what others see. The story on the woman noted she was a single mother. Hmm. I wonder why. Him: "Honey, can you take a few days off from that? I never see you anymore!" Her: "Love to chat, Bill, but I'm in training and need to get in 100 miles today." There is an inherent selfishness to running or any other obsession that takes command of one's lifestyle and life. Obsessed runners, evidently self-conscious of this and defensive about it, come up with fortune-cookie slogans like the ones pictured at left. Yes, because of course we unhealthy heathens who are not constantly training to run in 26.2-mile footraces -- we just don't understand! The rest of us are just a bunch of lazy fatties eating Cheetos on the Running2couch, right? We're jealous!! Yeah that's it. Look, I'm not anti-running. I'm not even anti-obsession. Whatever floats your boat, as we used to say. I don't think the obsessed runner is any better or worse (or much different, for that matter) than the woman who lives with 45 cats or the guy who has been collecting stamps for 70 years. What I don't like is fawning media coverage that glowingly depicts these sneakered cultists as somehow better, as special. These Quixotic folks who literally cannot stop running -- they aren't bad people, no. But neither are they heroic as so often portrayed. They are just (and hopefully we can agree on this) people who have given their lives to running in a fitness pursuit now running their lives.

BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR THE '72 DOLPHINS: Yesterday we told  you how, in a bracketed competition of all 49 Super Bowl winners by CBS Sports and Strat-O- Dolphins72Matic, the Perfect Season 1972 Dolphins were beaten in the round-of-16 by the 1992 Cowboys. Well, today, predictionmachine.com computers played all 49 champions against each other 50,000 times each, ranked the teams by overall winning percentage, and the '72 Dolphins were ranked only No. 9 overall (the '73 Fins were 22nd). Said Prediction Machine of the No. 9 ranking: "A perfect season is a special thing. Miami was the best team that year but being undefeated isn't enough to claim the top spot on this list. Don Shula's squad was good but not dominant. During its regular season run of excellence the Dolphins beat just two teams with a winning record. When we re-simulate Miami's 1972 schedule, the team would have just a 1.2 percent chance to win every game. The Dolphins would have to get lucky again for Mercury Morris to pop bottles of champagne." Ouch. By the way, the all-time top five SB champs are: 1--1999 Rams, 2--1985 Bears, 3--1989 49ers, 4--1996 Packers and 5--1979 Steelers. Update: Yet another humbling for the Class of '72: Safety Jake Scott is the lone Dolphin to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 26-man Golden Anniversary Super Bowl team out today.  

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 26, 2016

Hoop Town: Canes' and Heat's big night; plus Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl polls. Two polls. Vote now!; also, Heat's Whiteside Dilemma poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Showkiller1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 26. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Making A Murderer' video spoof starring me (click Making a Showkiller to watch), NFL Championship-Round playoff picks and poll, your greatest-NBA-center verdict & more. 2Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and simulcasting on ESPNU and Fusion TV. Have a new 'Back In My Day' in hand.

CANES' AND HEAT'S BIG NIGHT: Best night of the season for Miami hoops. Then  again, Miami's two big basketball teams rarely play on the same night, let alone against big opponents, with big victories. But still! Heat win 89-84 at Chicago with a large fourth-quarter comeback, led by Dwyane Wade's 28 points. D-Wade loves performing in his hometown, doesn't he? Back in Miami, the Hurricanes men bop rival Duke, 80-69, in a phyiacl game that saw UM with the upper hand throughout. This is was the night Jim Larranaga envisioned when he took the job in 2011: the Canes, ranked and beating Duke before a sold-out crowd. What a night. I was there in the campus arena. Click on Larranaga's Dream for my column.

Sb50SUPER BOWL 50 SET: IT'S PANTHERS-BRONCOS! NOW WHO YOU GOT? AND WHO DO YOU WANT?: It'll be No. 1 vs. No. 1 on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif. as the AFC-winning Denver Broncos meet the NFC-champion Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Panthers advanced Sunday night by dominating Arizona 49-15 after Broncos upset New England 20-18. So it'll be Canton-bound veteran Peyton Manning -- he ain't done yet -- vs. rising supertstar Cam Newton. It'll be the Broncos aiming for the franchise's third Super Bowl title but first since 1998 vs. a Panthers club that is a relative postseason neophyte, its only previous SB appearance (a loss) coming 12 years ago. Carolina is installed as an opening favorite of 3.5 points or more. So, who do you predict will win? And who do you want to win? Those two answers may or may not be the same for you. Let's find out...

THE HEAT'S WHITESIDE DILEMMA: WHICH WAY SHOULD PAT RILEY GO?: The question facing the Heat is the topic of my latest Sunday column. Click on The Whiteside Dilemma to read in Hassanfull. Should Miami spend big to extend Hassan Whiteside's contract? Or should the team instead opt for the financial wherewithal to pursue Kevin Durant in free agency? You almost certainly cannot do both, and there are no guarantees with either. No guarantee Whiteside (pictured) will continue his ascent and become a reliable star. And no guarantee of landing Durant. Miami would get nothing for Whiteside if it lets him go in free agency, but the option of trading him before next month's NBA deadline isn't viable. The trade market and Miami's return would be minimal since he'd be able to leave his new team in free agency this coming summer as well. It's a quandary for the Heat. Miami would hate to lose the unearthed, developing power of Whiteside. But would Miami hate that more than abstaining from the Durant Sweepstakes? Mixed into this quandary Dwyane Wade, of course. Like Whiteside he too is a free agent after this season. Will Miami want Wade, 34, back on another one-year deal? Might he accept less money to facilitate the club keeping Whiteside or pursuing Durant? Good luck figuring all this out, Pat Riley. That's why they pay you the big bucks. For now, give Riley some free advice in this poll.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NFL: Championship Sunday sets up a Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl: Sunday results left a clear contrast and theme for upcoming Super Bowl 50, a quarterback duel between near-40-year-old future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and rising superstar Cam Newton. Cam's Cats were supposed to be here. But Manning? After the worst season of his career? Epic. Oh, and that ongoing cable dispute prevented U-Verse subscribers from watching the main broadcast of the NFC game. (Thanks, AT&T!)

2. HEAT: Miami beset by losing, injuries and no scoring: The good news? Dwyane Wade makes his 12th all-star game with 10 start. The bad news? Everything else. Miami has lost four straight games and seven of past eight, is injury wracked, is 28th of 30 teams in scoring average and has fallen to the eighth and final playoff spot entering tonight's game in Chicago. Otherwise, all's well!

3. PANTHERS: Cats crush defending Cup finalists to end slump: Wild ride, these Cats. They win a club-record 12 games in a row. Then they lose four straight. Now they've won two in a row by a combined 9-2 over defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago and Tampa Bay, the team it beat in the final. The Good Cats are back, at least for now.

4. HURRICANES: Monday visit by Duke tops huge two days for UM hoops: For a Sunday appetizer you had the 16th-ranked Canes women hosting No. 14 Florida State, albeit in a 69-58 UM loss. Now, the main course: The No. 15 Miami men host rival Duke tonight. Mike Krzyzewki's guys recently lost three straight to fall to No. 20, but no matter. They're still the Devils. 

5. RUNNING: Miami Marathon draws thousands: More than 24,000 runners were registered for Sunday's Miami Marathon and Half Marathon won by Moroccan Benazzouz Slimani and New York's Allison Kieffer. One entrant Larry Macon, 71, of San Antonio, competed in his 1,606th marathon. That's 42,077 miles in a lifetime of running. Big deal. My car already has more than 7,000 miles and I've only had it six months.

6. TENNIS: Top seeds Djokovic, Serena still alive in Australian Open: Year's first major moves to its quarterfinals stage with top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams still in it as expected. Serena next faces a Tuesday match with Maria Sharapova, whom she has beaten 17 straight times, including 12 of the past 13 in straight sets. Maria's improved serve supposedly gives her a better chance. Yeah good luck with that.

7. DOLPHINS: Grimes, Jones join Landry and Albert in Pro Bowl: First it was receiver/kick returner Jarvis Landry and tackle Branden Albert making the Pro Bowl as alternates because other players dropped out. Now it's Dolphins DBs Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones who are added. Brag quietly, please. That's like finally getting invited to the prom only because other girls said no. Oh, and Mike Tannenbaum says consensus agreement on who to draft in the first round is important. Well no duh, right?

8. NBA: Conference-leading Cavaliers fire their coach: It finally happened in Cleveland. LeBron James fired coach David Blatt. Of course he then denied he had any influence whatsoever on the decision. America replied, "Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!" 

9. NFL: Bills hire full-time female assistant coach: Kathryn Smith becomes the first woman to be a fulltime assistant coach on an NFL staff. She'll be Buffalo's "special-teams quality control coach." Hmm. Is that even a real position?  

10. MARLINS: Spring training only three weeks away: Players begin reporting Feb. 19. I wrote an upbeat, positive column this week saying the Marlins had begun to earn back your trust. The majority email reaction was, shall we say, vehement disagreement. Bulletin to me: Fans still hate Jeffrey Loria.

Missing the cut: The Dolphins are holding cheerleader tryouts in several Latin America countries. Sure, because, clearly, there is a shortage of good-looking young Latin American women in South Florida (!) ... Upcoming tournament at Doral may be last as PGA Tour distances itself from Donald Trump. Nervous Democrats wish more Americans were doing the same ... National Signing Day is soon. That's when we instantly grade how college football programs did based on the utter guesswork of how a bunch of 17-year-olds will turn out ... World Cup champion U.S. women's soccer team announced it would play an exhibition March 9 in FAU's football stadium. It'll be weird to see a winning team on that field ... Congrats, Katie Meier, on your 200th career win at UM ... The U.S. Figure Skating Championship are going on, and nobody cares ... Answer: The U.S. team trained in Miami won the World Cup of FootGolf, a sports played on golf courses in which players kick soccer balls into giant holes. Question: Whaddya mean there are too many ridiculous, made-up sports?

Poll result: You say Panthers most likely Super Bowl champ from final four: We invited you to say which NFL final-four team you think will win the Super Bowl (not who you want to win, but who you predict will), and it was Carolina 48.0 percent, New England 32.0%, Arizona 14.7% and Denver 5.3%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2016

'Making A Murderer' video spoof starring me from LeBatard Show/Fusion TV; plus NFL Championship-Round playoff picks with who'll win Super Bowl poll. Vote now!; also, your greatest-NBA-center verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 23. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins earning back trust, greatest-NBA-centers poll, Kiper downgrades Fins draft, Heat/Panthers simultaneous slumps, return of Sarah Palin & more. 2Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Congrats to Heat star Dwyane Wade for earning yet another NBA All-Star Game start. At 34, D.Wade is aging as gracefully and effectively as most any athlete I have covered or seen." --Greg Cote

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL CHAMPIONSHIP-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Nope, the Upset Bird is quiet today as the NFL playoffs pare to a final four with Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship Games. I Fripix Champgameslike both favorites, the visiting Patriots (at Broncos) and the homie Panthers (over Cardinals). By the way, Cinderella couldn't get past the velvet rope this year. No classic 'dog left in the hunt. In fact this is the first time in 11 years both conference title games have been No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in terms of seeding. Click on Championship-Round Gems for our two full prediction capsules. Also, click on Brady-Manning: The Latest And Last for our weekly Friday Page NFL column. It centers on the 17th and likely final duel in the epic Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry. Great rivalries always end with a winner, and the winner always is Time. In the poll below, it's who you think will win the Super Bowl, NOT who you want to win. Vote here with mind, not heart. You have $100 to bet on one team, straight up, to win it all. Who you got?

Showkiller'MAKING A SHOWKILLER': Fusion TV today rolled out a pretty clever spoof of Making A Murderer, the popular Netflix docu-series. It is Making A Showkiller, a promo for my Tuesday co-host role on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Showkiller (sometimes Showkilla) is a nickname of mine on the show for reasons I'll leave to the listener and viewer. Anyway, fun spoof and thanks to Charlie Hulme and the folks at Fusion. Click on Making a Showkiller to watch.

Poll result: Kareem, Wilt and Bill the Big 3 centers: We asked your vote for greatest NBA center of all-time in an alphabetical poll using ESPN's Top 10, and three guys accounted for almost 80 percent of the votes. It was Kareem-Abdul Jabbar winning with 29.6 percent followed by Wilt Chamberlain 26.9% and Bill Russell 21.6%. Then it was a huge dropoff but notable support for Shaquille O'Neal (8.4%) and Hakeem Olajuwon (8.0%). None of the other five had even 2%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 21, 2016

Marlins, rising: As spring nears, the team you love to hate is earning back your trust; plus who is NBA's greatest center of all-time? Poll. Vote!; also, Kiper downgrades Dolphins, Heat and Panthers' simultaneous slump, Sarah Palin & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 21. I'm back at Friday Page HQ today working up my NFL Championship-Round picks. Oy vey. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-at-midseason grades, the onus on Ryan Tannehill, NFL Divisional pix results, 'MLK Ride-Out' idiocy, Glenn Frey & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Nice that Dolphins Jarvis Landry and Branden Albert are now in Pro Bowl, but brag quietly. Being added as late alternate is like getting asked to the prom only because other girls said no." --Greg Cote

DeegordonBULLETIN: THE MARLINS ARE EARNING BACK YOUR TRUST: Spring training is now less than a month away (players begin to report Feb. 19) and it's an interesting time for your usually disappointing and oft-vilified Miami Marlins. The team that has let you down with an unpopular owner, low spending, fire sales, instability and a lengthy playoff Donmattingly
Chendrought has had a smart, strategic offseason and seems finally to have settled on a clear direction. The Marlins, in short, may be earning back your trust again. That is the theme of my latest column as baseball begins to loom again into view. Click on Marlins, Rising to read in full. The Marlins spent big this winter to hire a credible, proven manager in Don Mattingly, to sign a legit free-agent starting pitcher in Wei-Yin Chen, and to extend the contract of all-star second baseman Dee Gordon. (Gordon, Chen and Mattingly are pictured). That piggybacks onto the long-term extension for Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to give a sense that the club is committing to a core group and finally building stability. I know, we have been hopeful before only to be let down. Believe me, early Twitter response to my column has been largely negative because of this climate. Trusting the Marlins has become sort of a drinking-the-Kool-Aid kind of thing. Marlins fans are scarred. And having Jeffrey Loria and David Samson out front as the faces of the franchise is the opposite of ideal. But the Marlins are fostering hope again by action, not claim. Marlins fans can feel pretty again again as the '16 seasons draws near.

NbarankCENTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: WHO IS NBA'S GREATEST CENTER OF ALL-TIME?: ESPN's #NBArank series today names its top 10 NBA centers of all time. (Sorry, Miami. No Hassan Whiteside). Their list is in order, 1 through 10. But I don't want to prejudice the jury with ESPN's opinion, so in my poll I am listing their choices alphabetically. Vote for your top three (3) by whatever critera you choose and from that we'll arrive at a consensus. Check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3)

KiperKIPER (SLIGHTLY) DOWNGRADES DOLPHINS' '15 DRAFT: ESPN's Mel Kiper (pictured), with time on his hands between mock drafts, today re-grades the 2015 draft of every NFL team, and he adjusts Miami's grade from a B down to a C-plus. His explanation: "In my post-draft grades I noted that DeVante Parker was one of my favorite picks of Round 1, and they didn't have to move to get their guy. I could have seen him going with any of the four picks ahead of Miami. It was only at the end of the season, however, that we saw Parker start to show off what he's capable of. If he's healthy, he can be special. Jordan Phillips worked his way into the rotation and we also got a glimpse of Jay Ajayi, but it's fair to call the early returns underwhelming, especially when the team took a step back overall. A healthy Parker changes that going forward." Mel's re-grades for the other AFC East teams all were up slightly, Patriots from B-minus to A, Jets A-minus to A and Bills C-minus to B.

ONE'S IN SNEAKERS AND ONE ON SKATES, BUT HEAT, PANTHERS BOTH FIZZLING IN LOCKSTEP: That good feeling our NBA and NHL teams carried into the new year didn't last long. Suddenly
Gallant Dwadeboth teams are slumping just past midseason and looking for fast answers. (Dwyane Wade and Panthers coach Gerard Gallant are pictured). Miami Heat: That hoped-for Eastern finals vs. Cleveland could still happen, but a current 2-7 slump since Jan. 6 after last night's loss has made it seem remote. Wracked by injuries and inconsistency (The I's have it!), Miami has fallen to seventh place and now faces four more road games in a row. A fan's thoughts have veered from comeuppance vs. LeBron to, "Can you just make the playoffs, please?" Florida Panthers: The Cats have chased their club-record 12-game winning streak with a four straight losses during which they are 0-for-12 on power plays. The division lead has frittered to three points, and the next game, Friday here, is vs. a Chicago team that itself has won 12 games in a row. Who'd they better call? Slump Busters! And fast.

Poll results: Heat performance at midseason seen as average to below average: We invited your midseason letter grade (A,B, C or D) for the Heat relative to your preseason expectations, and most, 55.6 percent, gave it a C for average. However the below average D's (26.8%) outpolled the above average B's (16.4%) and the excellent A's (1.2%).

PALIN ENDORSES TRUMP. THIS IS SERIOUS, RIGHT? YOU BETCHA!: [Note: This is a mostly sports blog but one that also delves into pop culture and politics. Even having said that, let me fire a Dailynewspreemptive strike to get ahead of the curve: "STICK TO SPORTS!!!!!"] OK when I heard the news yesterday that Sarah Palin had endorsed Donald Trump for president, the initial thought was, "With friends like these..." I mean, does Trump or any candidate benefit from or even want the public backing of the person who single-handedly cost John McCain a legitimate shot at the presidency because, as his VP-candidate running mate, she was a such a national punchline and laughingstock? Conservatives will argue the New York Daily News front page today is just more of the liberal media doing its thing. Fair enough. But the illustration also represents a lot of people who are incredulous that Trump thinks Palin helps him beyond appealing to the voters he already appeals to. If I were the RNC I would be concerned about the short-sightedness of this. Yes, Palin's endorsements may help Trump in Iowa in a contested primary vs. Ted Cruz. But beyond? At some point the Republican frontrunner Trump needs to think nationally and about how to win a general election vs. Hillary Clinton (still likely) or Bernie Sanders. That is where an endorsement by Palin -- let alone a place in his administration -- may hurt Trump as he attempts to woo wavering Democrats and undecideds. Of course that's just my opinion. I may be wrong. 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 19, 2016

Your midseason grade for the Miami Heat: New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Final Four makes clear the onus on Tannehill, Dolphins; also, our latest playoff-pix results, MLK Ride-Out, Glenn Frey & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: Hope y'all enjoyed today's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz with me as guest-host. I just Tweeted out a link to today's latest "Back In My Day" so be sure to give us a follow.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 19. R.I.P. to Sun-Sentinel Marlins reporter Juan C. Rodriguez and founding Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey, both of whom passed away yesterday. I knew Juan as a respected colleague and Frey only as someone whose music was is a part of my life's soundtrack. Sad to lose both. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exploring South Florida's sports attic, Hot Button Top 10, MLK Day, your verdict on playoff QBs & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Abcd MiamiheatYOUR MIDSEASON GRADE FOR THE HEAT: The Miami Heat at midseason are what we thought they'd be. Or at least what I thought. They are pretty good, but no more. They are 23-18 and currently the fifth seed. They are only three games from second place in the East but also only two games from being off playoff pace. It would not shock me if they wound up in the conference finals against (presumably) Cleveland. But neither would it shock me if they missed the playoffs for a second straight season. So I'd give the Heat a "C" grade based in my expectations; for me, they have neither impressed nor disappointed beyond what I anticipated. But this is your poll, not mine. What is your midseason grade for the Heat based on your preseason thoughts? I purposely have not include an "F" in the poll, because, well, c'mon.

NFL FINAL FOUR IS A REMINDER WHERE DOLPHINS MOST FALL SHORT, AND HELPS EXPLAIN MIAMI'S HIRING STRATEGY: Four quarterbacks are left standing to fight for a Super Bowl win. Two Tannehillgaseare Canton-bound all-time greats in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. One is a better-than-ever veteran coming off his best season in Carson Palmer. And one is an exciting, rising young superstar in Cam Newton. The essential importance of the QB position in the modern NFL is underlined, and so is the gulf between the top tier at this position and the Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill. I explore this in my latest column; click on The Onus on Tannehill and Miami to read in full. I write why the hiring of head coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Clyde Chistensen, both seen as a QBs guru, were made specifically to elevate Tannehill's game to a point he can lead this franchise back to the playoffs, which he has yet to do in four years. (Tannehill and Gase are pictured). It is unspoken but abundantly clear: It's 2016-or-bust for this Tannehill/Dolphins marriage.

FripixNFL PIX DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF RESULTS: We were 3-1 straight-up again this week, although Seattle didn't give our upset pick much of a chance with that 31-0 hole before rallying. We went only 1-2-1 against the spread, with the Broncos pushing at seven points. Also, alas, my preseason Super Bowl pick -- Packers over Patriots -- perished with Green Bay's overtime loss.

RideoutTHE IDIOCY OF THE 'MLK RIDE-OUT': For the second straight year yesterday, hundreds of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes clogged South Florida roadways en masse for what has sadly become an annual event: the Martin Luther King Day Ride-Out. What a lunatic idea. Seriously. It's an exercise in lawlessness and pissant anarchy that sees dangerous driving and can only foment road rage as angry motorists respond. I'm surprised law enforcement has not made a concerted effort to stop this insane practice. Deaths will happen. Just a matter of time. I try to avoid the broad, sweeping statement, but let's just say anyone participating in this thing is very likely not an active member of MENSA.

R.I.P., GLENN FREY: GONE ALREADY: David Bowie, now this. So sad.

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2016

What Dolphins' new OC hire signifies; plus invisible haters inspire Whiteside and Heat, who's best QB left in NFL playoffs? (Poll; vote now!); also, our Divisional-Round picks, the booming business of death & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 16. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kiper's first-round Dolphins pick, what Powerball win would buy in sports, Dolphins and Marlins' big moves, Canes CFP title odds, Marlins caskets & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

ClydeTWO THOUGHTS ON WHAT DOLPHINS' NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR HIRE SIGNIFIES: The Dolphins today hired Clyde Christensen (pictured) as offensive coordinator. He'd been the Indianapolis Colts' quarterbacks coach. Two thoughts: 1) This is not a power position in Miami, at least not initially. New head coach Adam Gase already has said he will call offensive plays, which usually is an OC's primary task, so Christensen arrives with influence limited from the outset. 2) The fact Christensen is a QB specialist who helped develop Andrew Luck is significant. Coupled with Gase's background as sort of a quarterbacks guru, it underlines the clear objective of the Miami's coaching staff makeover: To raise Ryan Tannehill's game to the optimum level. That's it. It's obvious. It is 2016-or-bust for the Tannehill/Dolphins marriage. 

"THEY," THE UNIDENTIFIED AND PERHAPS INVISIBLE HATERS, INSPIRE WHITESIDE, HEAT: So Miami rallies furiously from 18 down and wins in Denver last night, 98-95, behind Hassan HassanwhitesideWhiteside's 19-point, 17-rebound, 11-block triple double and Chris Bosh's 24 points. It was a big win, needed and timely. The team had lost three straight and four of five, and leaders Bosh and Dwyane Wade spoke out. Wade mentioned the team's "inner dilemmas." Bosh called the team's mentality "really, really bad." What I loved, though, was Whiteside (pictured) on Twitter after the game: "THEY don't want to see a triple double in blocks and win for the HEAT," he wrote, the underline mine but the all-caps his. Omnipresent DJ Khaled, the Miami record producer and social-media hound, re-Tweeted and added, "Of course they don't, so what we going to do is win more!!" My question: Who are they, exactly? Is Charles Barkley going all anti-Heat mouthy again? There was indeed a they during the four LeBron years. Much of America heaped jealousy or hate upon the Heat. Many in the national media also were throwing shade. Those teams adopted an us-against-them mentality that was real, and justified. But now? Are they still around? Is anybody really hating on a mid-pack Heat team that's pretty good but not even assured of making the playoffs? I think young Hassan is simply reaching for the easy self-motivation. And that's fine. Funny, though. Whatever works, I guess.

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Thirty-two teams funneled to 12 in the playoffs. Now that number is whittled to eight -- soon to be four, after today's and Sunday's doubleheaders. Welcome to Divisional-Round FripixWeekend, where last week's four survivors visit the four highest-seeded teams that had byes last week. Click on Divisional-Round Gems for our four second-round playoff picks; we have three home favorites advancing with one upset -- Seahawks winning in Carolina ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on All the Reminder You Need for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with my noting seven of the eight remaining teams are quarterbacked by Canton-bound legends or current elite stars -- a reminder how the QB position is linked more directly than ever to winning. That QB-driven final eight also helps explain why the Dolphins chose quarterback guru Adam Gase as their new head coach. In the alphabetical poll below, we invite you to vote for which of the final eight QBs you'd most want starting for your team this weekend.

DeathTHE LATEST REMINDER HOW DEATH IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS: The next Billboard charts will reflect that several old David Bowie albums have re-entered because sales spike upon a singer's death. It's quantifiable. Happens every time. For now, this indication: On Monday, the day we found out Bowie had died, at 69, of cancer, his videos were watched more than 51 million times, more than any other artist has ever received on Vevo in one day. The previous, short-lived record was 36 million views for Adele the day her hit song Hello was released in October.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2016

Dolphins hire Adam Gase as head coach. What do you think of the choice? New poll. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 10. Happy anniversary to my wonderful wife. I married up, what can I say? 2) The case is made right here why Marlins fans should feel very, very good about pitcher Carter Capps. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend Pix, Cooperstown who-shoulda-made-it poll, your Dolphins next-coach verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Our NFL playoff picks: Click on Wild-Card Gems for our four playoff picks for yesterday's and today's first-round games. But ignore that Chiefs-Texans pick, please. Must've been a typographical error. Click on Playoff Preview, King Sport Awards for our ranking of the 12 playoff teams and season-ending awards.

AdamgaseDOLPHINS OFFICIALLY HIRE ADAM GASE AS NEW HEAD COACH!: Click on Dolphins' Latest Dice-Roll for my new version column on the hiring of Adam Gase. Miami is once again betting on promise over experience as it made official yesterday that Bears offensive coordinator Gase will be this franchise's eighth head-coach hire in a row (including three interim promotions) who had never before done the job in the NFL. Gase, 37, pictured, directed Chicago's offense last year after six seasons with Denver, the last two as offensive coordinator. Clearly, a major part of this hiring is a hope/belief that Gase will be be able to raise Ryan Tannehill's game and career to the next level. Miami interviewed seven men for this job including some (led by Mike Shanahan) with longer NFL resumes that including head-coach experience. Yet, again, the franchise is gambling it has found The Next Big Thing rather than playing it safer with the proof of experience. Gase may well prove this to be an inspired hire. It is the track record of the Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross that demands a certain wariness and skepticism. It is the Dolphins' fault, not Gase's, that trust and benefit of doubt are in short supply around here. OK, your turn. Entering the franchise's 51st season Adam Gase will be the Dolphins' ninth fulltime head coach and 12th overall if you include three interim guys. What is your initial reaction to the hiring of Gase? Vote and say why you feel as you do.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JAN. 10): WHAT 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins hire Adam Gase, latest gamble on inexperienced head coach: Adam Gase, suddenly league's youngest head coach at 37, makes it five Dolphins hires in a row (eight including interims) who have never before been an NFL head coach. Miami's head-coach job posting: "EXPERIENCE REQUIRED PREFERRED TOTALLY UNNECESSARY." 

2. PANTHERS: Hot Cats put 11-game winning streak on line: Florida, talk of the NHL, puts club-record 11-game win streak to test tonight in Edmonton. "The division-leading Panthers." Still a phrase one turns in the mind with marvel, as if it were a snow globe. Time to rewrite Cat Scratch Fever and hockeyize it. Anything rhyme with "Luongo"? Get on it, Ted Nugent.

3. NFL: Wild-Card Weekend eliminates two, with two more Sunday: Bengals and Texans fell by the wayside  Saturday, now two NFC teams face elimination Sunday as NFL playoffs pare from an original 12 teams down to eight. Admit it, Dolfans. It's sort of relaxing to watch football on Sunday and know your Fins can't lose. 

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Clemson, 'Bama meet Monday for national title: Second year of College Football Playoff ends in Glendale, Ariz. Clemson embarrassed Hurricanes 58-0 this season. Alabama coach Nick Saban lied and left the Dolphins. Um, can Miamians hope both teams lose? ESPN will air game on 14 different platforms . I'll be watching on ESPNCOTE.

5. HEAT: Miami at Golden State Monday for first test vs. champs: We know Miami is inconsistent but pretty good (currently fifth) in the East. Now we find out how good Heat is in a broader context, out west, Monday night, with first game of season vs. Steph Curry and champion Golden State. Uh oh. 

6. UM BASKETBALL: Men at No. 4 Virginia Tuesday in biggest test yet: No. 12 Canes are now 13-1 after dispatching Florida State yesterday. I think UM is really good this season. I'm about to find out how good: Tuesday night, at No. 4 Virginia, will tell us more about Team Larranaga than we yet know. 

7. BASEBALL: Griffey, Piazza are '16 inductees to Cooperstown: Ken Griffey Jr., with a record vote, and Mike Piazza, after a three-year wait, were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for summer induction. Alas, Piazza won’t be wearing a Marlins cap on his plaque despite playing for Miami an entire week in 1998.

8. MARLINS: Team acquires pitcher, shops Ozuna: As spring training draws ever nearer the Marlins continue shopping outfielder Marcell Ozuna for a trade. Hopefully they'll get a better pitcher for him than newly acquired Edwin Jackson, 32, whose arrival would be exciting if this were, like, 2009. 

9. TIGER WOODS: Is the end at hand for generation's greatest golfer?: There is growing speculation, as the PGA Tour season unfurls, that Tiger Woods won't be healthy for The Masters in April and that he may not play at all in 2016. Say it ain't so, Tiger. No, I mean that literally. Give us an update.

10. UFC: Holm's return to octagon scheduled for spring: Holly Holm reportedly will fight Miesha Tate at UFC 197 in Las Vegas on March 5, her first fight since upsetting Ronda Rousey in November. OK, I just did an item on women's MMA. I'm outta here.

Missing the cut: Mark Richt completes UM staff. It 's a complete purge. Nobody back. Fresh start. I like it ... Tennis' Australian Open is close. It's the season's first major, although it's sort of a minor major ... Fort Lauderdale Strikers signed Kleberson, one of those one-name players. But shouldn't that be an honorarium for only great players? "Kleberson" sounds like a guy working at a deli ... WQAM-560 may go after and pay big for Dolphins radio rights, unaware that most folks nowadays own televisions ... The Miami Gun Show ends today at Dade County Fairgrounds. Yes, because that's what the world, America and especially Miami needs. More guns!

Poll result: Clemens, Bonds lead the shoulda-gotten-ins: Only Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week. We gave you a list of the nine other players who had the most support but fell short, and asked who should most have gotten in. Your top five: Rogers Clemens at 19.7 percent, Barry Bonds 18.8%, Tim Raines 13.8%, Curt Schilling 12.3% and Jeff Bagwell 10.5%.

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