June 24, 2016

Dolphins come to aid of Orlando victims; plus athletes posing nude: OK or narcissistic? Poll. Vote!; also, Cleveland, Cubs, Dolfans 'n hope; active Panthers, Top 5 undrafted Heat finds, your verdict on LeBron's future, R.I.P. Vinyl & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JUNE 23. I always respected the British people as intelligent, but am rethinking that appraisal after UK's vote to leave European Union. 2) I'm thrilled to say Kennedy Center Honors announced today that Mavis Staples, one of my beyond-music heroes, will be among 2016 inductees. KCH described "unmatched gospel and rhythm and blues masterpieces span(ning) 60 years." So deserved! 3) I read that earlier this week it was "National Selfie Day." Isn't every day? I didn't think our ode to narcissism ever took a break! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. soccer falls to Argentina, Dwyane Wade nude, LeBron's future with odds and poll, Canes out fast in Omaha, USGA's choke at Oakmont & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so great they deserved another look: Cavs, Cubs Offer Hope For Dolfans, the latest, musing on how Cleveland's championship and season Cubs are having proves even long-starving fans get fed eventually. Rooting For LeBron to Make History, on our treasonous hopes entering Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Dolphins, NFL coming to aid of Orlando victims: The NFL Foundation and the league's three Florida teams including the Dolphins are donating $400,000 to the OneOrlando Fund to aid families and survivors of the recent Orlando nightclub tragedy in which 49 people were murdered. Said Dolphins owner Stephen Ross: "It's hard to find words to describe the emotions we all felt when news of this senseless tragedy broke." Visit OneOrlando.org for more info or to add your donation.

IT'S ABOUT FANS, AND HOPE: WHAT TIES TOGETHER CLEVELAND, THE CUBS AND DOLFANS: I tried something different with my latest column today. Not sure if it worked (click on Cavs, DolfansCubs Offer Hope For Dolfans) to read, but envelopes are made for pushing, right? It is a musing column that sees a common denominator among the city of Cleveland ending its 52-year championship drought, the Cubs (in town to face the Marlins) being favored to end that team's 108-year World Series title drought, and the Dolphins moving in on their 43rd season since last winning a Super Bowl. The column's theme is that sports is about the cities and the fans, first and always. Players, coaches and team owners come and go. Even stadiums, arenas and uniforms might change. It's the fans that are the lifeblood, generation after generation, decade after decade. So Wednesday's championship parade was about the city of Cleveland even as the national media made it about LeBron James. The Cubs finally winning again would not be about Jake Arrieta or Joe Maddon, but about that franchise's long-suffering fans. And if the Dolphins ever win a Super Bowl again? It won't be about Stephen Ross or Ryan Tannehill (or whomever is in place then). It'll be about Dolfans, generations of them, ever hopeful and waiting. My column in no way suggests the Dolphins may be poised to do what Cleveland just did or what the Cubs might. That seems such a longshot ... again. No, the column is about fans, and about faith. In sports' Year of the End of the Drought, we are reminded that sports feeds its most starving, eventually. We are reminded that hope is eternal, and that there's always next year.

WadenudeSELF-LOVING ATHLETES KEEP GETTING NAKED: Athletes love their bodies, and I get it. Most work very hard on their physiques. Their bodies and what those bodies can do is what makes them famous and rich. ESPN The Magazine tapped into that self-adulation several years ago in inaugurating its annual Body issue, in which a variety of athletes are photographed posing artfully nude. That means nothing pornographic or even NSFW, unless maybe you work in a church or elementary school. Still, they're naked! The next Body issue is forthcoming and athletes posing au natural include the Heat's Dwyane Wade (pictured). Giancarlo Stanton and Serena Williams have been other South Florida stars taking it all of for ... well, for what, exactly, other than ego? I'm no prude, and I see nothing at all wrong with athletes posing nude if they choose, but I'd also suggest the undeniable: It's blatant narcissism. Curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll and say which of the four options best reflects your opinion of the annual Body issue and athletes who participate.

YandleAGGRESSIVE PANTHERS KEEP MAKING NOISE: The Florida Panthers have been busy since their disappointing early playoff exit, and I don't mean the fluffery of a new uniform and logo. Yesterday, the same day Jaromir Jagr won the NHL's Masterton trophy best exemplifying "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication," the Cats made a big, costly and smart move in signing a quality defenseman in the prime of his career. Keith Yandle (pictured), 29, a two-time all-star, is aboard with a seven-year, $44 million deal. He was a pending free agent but Florida spent two lower draft picks (to the Rangers) for first rights to sign him. That's aggressive. It's also a smart move in that Cats were expecting to lose veteran defender Brian Campbell, and adding Yandle more than compensates. Yandle also will boost what last season was a mediocre power-play unit. The spending and willingness to part with draft picks indicates a club that thinks it is close and wants to win now. [Update: Panthers today acquired backup goaltender Reto Berra, 29, from Colorado, in exchange for forward Rocco Grimaldi].

HeatTHE LIST: HEAT UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS: The NBA Draft is tonight but the Miami Heat have no picks, so will be scouring the land for bargains, for undrafted free agents. Sometimes you get lucky. Here are the top five undrafted players signed right out of college by the Heat who have been the most successful, based on number of regular-season games played for Miami:

Player                  Games   Signed/College

Udonis Haslem    814       2003/Florida

Keith Askins        486       1990/Alabama

Joel Anthony       382       2007/UNLV

Voshon Lenard    249        1995/Minnesota

Anthony Carter   246        1999/Hawaii

Note: Haslem has played second-most games in Heat history, after Dwyane Wade, and remains with team.

AblemanANOTHER FEATHER FOR CANES DIVING: I'm not a huge fan of the sport of diving, and find synchronized diving a laughable appendage that I'd eliminate if I were paring the Olympics. Nevertheless! Congrats to former Miami Hurricane Sam Dorman for qualifying last night for Team USA and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in synchronized 3-meter diving along with Michael Hixon. Even more impressive: Dorman is the 12th Hurricane to make the Olympics under the wing of UM diving coach Randy Ableman (pictured), who just finished his 23rd season in Coral Gables.

Poll results: Relax, Cleveland. LeBron ain't goin' nowhere: We asked where pending free agent LeBron James would be playing next season, and 79.8 percent voted "still in Cleveland." Only 20.2% voted "somewhere else." (The majority percentage grew, but only by two or three points, after LeBron predictably told ESPN yesterday he had "no intentions" of leaving).

VinylFAREWELL, VINYL, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: HBO this week canceled Vinyl after one season, leaving my emotions mixed. I gave the show a big chance, watching most every week, because the subject was so in my wheelhouse. I grew up on '70s rock music so a series about that time, and the music industry, had me from hello. And when Martin Scorcese and Mick Jagger are the producers, you have high hopes. But the show itself let me down. The writing was pedestrian, the storylines not great, and I'm not sure Bobby Cannavale was not up to carrying the series (though I loved him in a lesser role in Boardwalk Empire). The sense, though, is that Vinyl was salvageable with a tweak or three, and may have deserved one more season.  

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 22, 2016

USA falls 4-0 to Messi, Argentina in Copa; plus, in other nudes, Dwyane Wade is naked in a magazine; also, what's-next-for-LeBron (odds and poll; vote now), Canes ousted at CWS, USGA dodges bullet, 2017 NBA title odds & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22. NBA title odds for 2017 out via Bovada show Warriors favorites at 2-1, then Cavaliers 9-4, Spurs 15-2 and Thunder 17-2. Miami Heat are tied for eighth at 33-1. 2) Florida Panthers announced 2016-17 schedule, with regular season opening at home vs. New Jersey on Oct. 13. 3) Hope it was a Happy Father's Day for all my fellow padres and papis! Christopher and I played golf at Inverrary East, on his dime. I played my worst round in three years but had a great time. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron fulfills promise, Hot Button Top 10, your verdict of rooting for or against LeBron & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so great they deserved another look: Trust LeBron On His Next Decision, the latest, on what's next for a King on top of his world. Rooting For LeBron to Make History, on our treasonous hopes entering Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

U.S. SOCCER PUT IN ITS PLACE BY MESSI, MIGHTY ARGENTINA: [Update: Argentina thumps U.S. last night 4-0 in Copa America semifinal, the Americans conceding a goal three minutes in and then a brilliant free-kick banana by the wondrous Lionel Messi. It was men against boys as the world's No. 1-ranked team dominated in possession with brilliant passing and tight defensive marking that left the U.S. with precious few scoring chances. But still an overall positive tournament for the U.S.]. Original post: Sports has just seen a major upset: Cleveland beating Golden State for the NBA championship after trailing 3-1 in Messi Dempseythe Finals. Will we see another shocker tonight? The U.S. beating world No. 1 Argentina in the Copa America Centenario semifinal tonight in Houston (9 p.m., FS1) would be an upset comparably big. It will require an American squad missing three suspended starters to neutralize Argentina's diminutive maestro Lionel Messi, the goal machine. Messi has bounced back from a rib ailment to scored four goals in the Copa in the minutes equivalent of less than two full games. The opponent and stage make this our national team's biggest home game since the round of 16 in the 1994 World Cup. (It's Colombia vs. Chile Wednesday in the other Copa semifinal, with the two winners meeting Sunday in New Jersey for the championship). For the U.S. it has been a solid tournament showing already, but pulling this upset to reach the final would be a major coup for both the USMNT and at-times embattled coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The coach was asked Monday f we might expect a defensive posture from the depleted Americans. No, he said: "We want to take the game to them. We want to go eye to eye, because we've done that tremendously well throughout this tournament. There's no need to change now." But to adjust, yes, with midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Jermaine Jones and forward Bobby Wood all suspended. Clint Dempsey has had a strong tournament for the U.S., and more of that will be needed. (Dempsey and Messi are pictured, left to right). Odds favor Argentina, of course. But more than they favored Golden State with a 3-1 series lead? It's one game. It's soccer. The stadium in Houston will be full. "This is a one-off," as Klinsmann reminded reporters. "Anything can happen."

DwadeAND IN OTHER NUDES, DWYANE WADE IS NAKED IN A MAGAZINE: Heat star and pending free agent Dwyane Wade, who has said he hopes to re-sign with Miami, appears artfully nude in ESPN The Magazine's annual Body issue, which will be online July 6 and on newsstands two days later. "Artfully nude" means he is completely naked but his body is posed and photographed in a way that shows neither his backside nor that most private region out front -- the area on an opponent that Draymond Green might try to kick during a game. I must say D.Wade's physique looks very good for a man of 34, or of any age. Naked athletes are nothing new; remember that the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton did the Body issue a couple of years ago. Was it just last year that Serena Williams posed en buff? Naked athletes and celebrities in general have become de rigeur, as anyone who follows Kim Kardashian on social media knows too well. There used to be a shock value, a titillation that no longer exists. Now it's sensory overload. It's too much information. I feel like filing a class-action cease-and-desist to get the Kardashians to please stop being publicly nude. I mean, OK, famous people, we know you're attention whores and that you're proud of your bodies. We get it. But, just for something different, how 'bout you surprise us and try a little modesty once in a while just to see how you like it. Dare you!

LebronwinsLEBRON REIGNS, FULFILLS HIS PROMISE ... NOW WHAT?: [Click on Trust LeBron On His Next Decision for my new column, now online] LeBron James jilted left Miami to return to hometown Cleveland with the promise of delivering that city its first major-sport championship since the Browns in 1964. He promised one championship, not "six or seven or..." OK, he's done that now. Promise fulfilled. LeBron is pictured last night holding the championship trophy and his NBA Finals MVP trophy, cradling both as if the were his babies. So now what? James is a pending free agent and starting on July 1 can do whatever he wants, go wherever he wants. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has reported sources in Miami telling him LeBron could possibly return to Miami if the Cavs won it all. Other speculation is that the Los Angeles Clippers could be the most enticing option for him. But would he dare leave Cleveland and its fans a second time, quite literally raining on their championship parade? I'll have a new column on LeBron's championship, legacy and future that should be online by early afternoon today. Meantime what is your gut feeling and best guess on where LeBron will be as next season begins? Not what you hope might happen, but what you'd bet will. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Betting odds on LeBron's summer decision: Odds out today via Bovada on where LeBron James qill be playing to begin next season: Cavaliers 1-4, Heat 5-1, Lakers 6-1, Clippers 11-1, Knicks 15-1. (Liking those Clippers odds, personally...)

OH-NO-MAHA!: HURRICANES FIRST TEAM OUT OF CWS WITH 5-3 LOSS: Miami won national College World Series championships in 1982, 1985, 1999 and 2001. This was the program's 25th appearance in Omaha. UM baseball's pedigree is beyond debate. But this also is true: The Canes have not done very well in Omaha since last winning in '01. The exited early in 2003, '04, '06, '08 and '15, and now they are the first of eight teams eliminated in a 5-3 loss to UC-Santa Barbara today, after a 5-1 loss to Arizona to open the double elimination CWS. Miami today got a solo home run by Zack Collins and run-scoring singles from Randy Batista and Collins but it was too little. This year's Canes were supposedly so much better and readier for the stage than last year's; so coach Jim Morris had said. UM at 5-1 odds were tied for second favorites to win it all after the top-ranked Florida Gators. Now the Canes are sent packing at 0-2, a very disappointing end to what had been a very good season prior to the stumble in Omaha.

USGA EMBARRASSED ITSELF AT OAKMONT: My God did the U.S. Golf Association dodge a bullet Sunday in the U.S. Open at Oakmont! Dustin Johnson (pictured) ended up winning by three shots, Dustinjohnsondespite incurring a one-stroke penalty when his ball ever-so-slightly moved on the green through no apparent fault of his. A tsunami of outrage would have ensued had that ruling ended up costing him his first major title. Even if the ruling was correct, the USGA erred in holding the possibility over his head, making him play much of the final round unsure if he'd be penalized. Fellow golfers like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth Tweeted their outrage on Johnson's behalf. The great Jack Nicklaus, who is sort of golf's conscience, called the situation "terrible" and said, "Golf is a game of honor. That's what the USGA believes in, and that's what players all believe in. And when you have a situation where the official said, 'Did you cause it to move?' and he says, 'No,' then that should be the end of the story." Jack's right, of course. Even as it ultimately lucked out, the USGA lost Sunday as much as Dustin Johnson won.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 18, 2016

Will you be rooting for or against LeBron James in Sunday's Game 7? Poll. Vote now!; plus Canes start badly in Omaha, U.S. on collision course with Messi, R.I.P. Prince Be, who's winning/losing Florida sports' Twitter war, your verdict on HR Derby & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ichiro surpasses Rose's hit total, Reshad Jones gets smart, Al Golden speaks, pitchers-in-Home Run Derby poll, Richie Incognito app, Richard Bleier update, Larry David brings back Curb & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat. 

Six-pack: Six selected recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Rooting For LeBron to Make History, the latest, on our treasonous hopes for Sunday's Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Marlins' Ichiro's hits milestone. The Weight of Tradition, off Canes' Omaha-clinching baseball win. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Muhammad Ali set template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

CwsCANES OPEN IN OMAHA WITH 5-1 LOSS: [Update: Oy. Canes open with 5-1 loss. Bad start. Backs to the wall immediately] The Florida Gators are waiting. I know, I know. Miami's Hurricanes need to do some winning to get to them, starting tonight at 8 p.m. vs. Arizona (ESPN2) in UM's 2016 College World Series debut. But the overarching theme of this double- Ubbelimination CWS for Miami is that it seeks another shot at its upstate nemesis. Canes and Gators are luckily in opposite brackets in Omaha, meaning they could only meet in a best-of-three series for the championship ... and it feels like a collision course toward that. Top-ranked Florida is the overall favorite at 9-5 betting odds per Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, and Miami is tied for second (with Oklahoma State) at 5-1 odds. Florida has been the pebble in Jim Morris' shoe, the clear nemesis. UM is 6-21 vs. the Gators since 2010, and three of those season it was Florida that ousted Miami from the playoffs. That includes last year in Omaha, when both of UM's losses were to Florida. A shot at revenge ahead? Canes must get there first. And that starts tonight.

TREASONOUS? I'LL BE ROOTING FOR LEBRON AND CAVS ON SUNDAY, AND YOU SHOULD, TOO: [Poll is immediately below] Basketball devotees in and around Oakland, California wouldn't agree, of course. Neither would the many folks in South Florida who with martyrs' pride bear the grudge of animus for having been jilted by LeBron James. Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat followers are the Lebron Finalsoutliers here, though. The Flat Earthers. Those two fandoms couldn't be much farther apart geographically, or more separated from the rest of America in the way they see the NBA Finals now hurtling to a magical Game 7 on Sunday night. To most of the rest of us, surely it is has become clear beyond argument or doubt: We'll be cheering for history to be made, for the underdog to beat the impossible odds. We'll be cheering for the best story, the kind where sports plays out like a fairy tale, astonishes us, wrenches emotion. We'll be cheering for LeBron to fulfill his promise and deliver Cleveland its first major-sport championship since the Browns wore the NFL crown in pre-Super Bowl 1964. Miami fans may hate that I'm writing this. It might sound treasonous. But I wish those who think that would choose to appreciate the four years, four straight Finals appearances and two championships LeBron helped give us, rather than hang onto the anger over the admittedly shabby way he left us. I mean, if you aren't a Warriors fan or a card-carrying LeBron Hater, how can you not root for the Cavaliers to do what has never been done even once in the NBA's 70-year history? It's a bona fide feel-good story. So let yourself feel good. No team has been down 3-1 in a Finals and won the championship. Count to 32. It'll take a while. That's how many times a team has trailed 3-1, and those teams are 0-for-32 in overcoming the odds against them. Now all the the Cavs must do to break that forever-spell and make history is beat the reigning champions on their own floor Sunday. Beat the league MVP. Beat the team they lost to in last year's Finals. Beat a team that had the best regular season (73-9) of all time. And beat a team whose record at home including this postseason is 50-4. That's all. That it has never been done, that it would be LeBron doing it, that it would be champion-MVP Stephen Curry on the other end, that it would be title-starved Cleveland celebrating -- this would not be less than one of the greatest stories in the history of sports if the Cavaliers can somehow pull it off. Of course few outside of northeast Ohio probably think it has more than a prayer of actually happening. All the better! The feeling might be different had Golden State not won it all last season, the franchise's first championship since Rick Barry's 1975. Had that drought continued it's hard to say who'd hold the underdog card or be the sentimental favorite on Sunday. But now? Cleveland is that underdog in every connotation of the word, and Golden State suddenly has become the easy-to-dislike favorite -- especially after Thursday night. Curry, who looks like he's 17 and rarely is caught in any controversy, fouled out with 4:22 left in Game 6 and in frustration threw his plastic mouthguard. His wife Ayesha then went all Miko Grimes on Twitter, blasting the officiating with conspiracy-theory Tweets she quickly deleted. Later, Warriors coach Steve Kerr invited a league fine in saying Curry was upset with good reason. "He should be upset," said an angry Kerr. "If they're going to let Cleveland grab and hold these guys constantly on their cuts and then you're going to call these ticky-tack fouls on the MVP of the league to foul him out, I don't agree with that." That is the look and sound of a coach, an MVP and a team feeling all of the pressure now. Since leading these Finals 2-0 the Warriors have lost three of the past four games to the Cavs -- and by a combined 59 points. And, in the delicious duel atop this series' marquee, LeBron has plainly outperformed Curry, as if staking his claim to win back the best-player honorarium given by gradual consensus to the smaller man. LeBron has outscored Curry in five of the six games and, fueled by back-to-back 41-point games, is averaging 30.2 points in the Finals to Curry's 23.5. This has been an odd postseason for the NBA, lopsided, with 62.4 percent of all playoff games this year (53 of 85) decided by double-digit margins. That includes all six Finals games, which, defying logic and explanation, have been have been decided by an average margin of 19.7 points. It's been sort of a lousy playoffs, in other words. Until now. Cleveland fighting back to unexpectedly force a winner-take-all Game 7 -- ratcheting the stakes as high as stakes can go -- erases two months of bad postseason. Makes everything better. Sports fans regard Game 7s as a special gift with reason. They are not common. This will be the 19th Finals Game 7 in the 70-year history of the NBA and the first since the Heat went the distance to beat the Spurs in 2013. This will be only the seventh since 1978, an incidence of 18.4 percent since then or fewer than one every five years. There have not been more than three Finals Game 7s in any one decade since the 1960s. So they all seem special, these ultimate games. Like the biggest and the best. Except this one actually could be. If LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers can do what no NBA team ever has -- if they can leave fans in Oakland stunned silent and those in Miami shaking their heads in disbelief -- it will be an historic comeback that makes Sunday a Game 7 for the ages.

 
Usmnt"U-S-A! U-S-A!" MEN WIN AGAIN IN SOCCER, GET LIONEL MESSI NEXT (PROBABLY): I was juggling NBA Finals Game 6 and U.S.-Ecuador in the Copa America match from Seattle. Team America won 2-1 to become the first team to advance to the semifinals. U.S. will next face the winner of Saturday's Argentina-Venezuela match, which very likely will be Argentina led by the incomparable Lionel Messi. Delicioso!
 
THE LIST: MAJOR FLORIDA PRO TEAMS ON TWITTER: The state of Florida has nine franchises in the Big Four sports of NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. Here's how the teams rank based on most Twitter followers as of this week:

Team                          Followers

Miami Heat                 3.40M  @MiamiHEAT

Orlando Magic            1.35M  @OrlandoMagic

Miami Dolphins           613K  @MiamiDolphins

Tampa Bay Bucs          438K  @TBBuccaneers

Tampa Bay Lightning  398K  @TBLightning

Jacksonville Jaguars    338K  @Jaguars

Tampa Bay Rays          332K  @RaysBaseball

Florida Panthers          229K  @FlaPanthers 

Miami Marlins             201K  @Marlins

Poll result: No pitchers in Home Run Derby, please: Low-interest question + predictable result = bad poll. And this one was. Nevertheless! We asked if you'd like to see pitchers included in MLB's Home Run Derby, and it was 60.6 percent no, 34.5% yes and 4.9% undecided.

R.I.P., ATTRELL CORDES (PRINCE BE): Attrell Cordes, "Prince Be," frontman of the 1990s hip-hop duo P.M. Dawn, passed away yesterday of diabetes and kidney disease at age 46. (Click here for more, from Rolling Stone). P.M. Dawn was successful in the early to mid '90s, helping to pioneer what would become known as "cloud rap," a form of hip-hop that featured an ethereal vibe, dreamlike beats and harmonizing. A favorite P.M. Dawn song of mine below, "Looking Through Patient Eyes," is a good example of the genre. Thank you for your talent and music, Prince Be.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 17, 2016

キングを打ちます (Hit King): The Wonder of Ichiro; plus Al Golden speaks (albeit blandly), pitchers in Home Run Derby a good idea? (poll; vote now!), Reshad Jones gets smart, Richie Incognito has an app, glorious return of Curb & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 17. Thoughts with that vacationing Nebraska family that lost their 2-year-old boy to an alligator in Orlando. So sad. 2) Classy: ESPN inviting leukemia-battling Craig Sager of Turner Sports/TNT to serve as sideline reporter for NBA Finals Game 6 last night was so wonderful. Well done! 3) Fan of our LeBatard Show "Back In My Day" segments? Click here for the ESPN Radio podcast of this week's appearance. The latest BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 11 minute mark. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Terrorism and the threat to American sports & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat. 

A video tribute to The Greatest ... and to a father: Whether you missed this or just want to see it again, click on Photographic Memories of Clay Becoming Ali for a video by Miami Herald photographer Charles Trainor, Jr. of photos taken by his father, Charles Trainor. It's a tribute to Ali, but also to a father, from his son. Wonderful stuff.

Six-pack: Six selected recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, the new one, on Marlins' Ichiro's hits milestone. The Weight of Tradition, off Canes' Omaha-clinching baseball win. LeBron Wants More Than Title From Finals, on LeBron James angling to take back best-player crown from Steph Curry. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Muhammad Ali set template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Ichiroキングを打ちます (HIT KING): THE WONDER OF ICHIRO: The Marlins lost in San Diego to their road trip 4-5, but attention riveted to Ichiro for a brighter reason. His single and double gave him 4,257 career professional hits including MLB and Japan -- one more than Pete Rose's MLB record of 4,256. Of course Rose maintains the MLB record for most career hits by a comfortable and perhaps unassailable margin. But Ichiro's milestone is important and deserves respect -- Japan to South Florida and all across baseball -- even if Rose himself seems to begrudge the achievement. The reasons why it's important and the wonder of Ichiro is the topic of my latest column, online after also appearing in Miami Herald inky pulp editions. Click on Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not to read in full.

AL GOLDEN SPEAKS (BLANDLY) OF HIS CANES TENURE: Al Golden, now the Lions tight ends coach, spoke for the first time yesterday about his UM tenure that ended in his firing during last season, in an intervkew with the Detroit Free Press. Boring, but here it is: "I took the job without knowing that there was an impending NCAA investigation and eight months into it, it blew up and it took its toll, and that’s it. I haven’t looked back since. I miss the players. I miss the people that were supportive of my family and I, the people that were friends. But other than that we’ve moved on."

ReshadjonesDOLPHINS' RESHAD JONES WISELY ENDS HOLDOUT AFTER 1 DAY: Reshad Jones incurred a fine by skipping the first day of the Dolphins' three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday but showed up Wednesday. Wise of him, financially. And always nice when an athlete deigns to fulfill the obligations of the contract he agreed to. In this case Jones signed a four-year extension in 2013 that will pay him around $14.3 million in base salary this season and next -- a deal he now believes underpays him. So he did the NFL equivalent of a child holding his breath to get his way, holding out in hopes of pressuring the club to renegotiate his deal. Jones calls himself "the best safety in the NFL." No. He is among the best, though, and his contract is commensurate. It is fair; although the way these things work, I'd expect Miami will agree to renegotiate a further extension to both keep and keep happy one of its best players. But here is the thing about pro contracts that doesn't get written or said much: they serve to protect the player, too, even if said player feels he is underpaid. If Reshad Jones busts an ankle tomorrow for example and is out for the season, he still gets paid. If he has an awful year with zero interceptions and gets benched, he stills gets paid. Something else for any athlete to consider: When complaining you are underpaid while making $7 million a year, complain loudly at your own risk, because your team's fans can only imagine being lucky enough to think such wealth isn't enough.

PITCHERS: STAY IN YOUR LANE. NOBODY WANTS TO SEE YOU BAT: At least five prominent NL pitchers including the Marlins' Jose Fernandez are making noise about wanting Allstargameto be included in the July 11 Home Run Derby prior to the All-Star Game. It's a bad idea for a few reasons. One is the risk of injury from over-swinging. Another is that even the best-hitting pitchers aren't that good at hitting. Another is the HR Derby doesn't need yet another format change. Finally, if somehow a pitcher did happen to win the thing, it would be an embarrassment to MLB (not to mention to the sluggers actually paid to hit home runs). But enough of my opinion. Have your say in the poll below:

RichieTHERE IS NOW A RICHIE INCOGNITO APP. NO, SERIOUSLY: Want to get closer to the one athlete in all of American sports most associated with the word "bullying"? There's an app for that! Former Dolphins' Bullygate star Richie Incognito, now of the Bills, launched an app this week. Oh how I wish I were kidding. Click here to prove I'm not. The app offers "the latest news and information" on Incognito, almost as if you need that, want that or can't get that a thousand other places. The app also offers "an interactive community, music, videos, early access to events and much more." I cannot yet confirm whether the app does or will additionally offer basic or advanced tips on bullying. A Richie Incognito app! I love it when athletes imagine an overwhelming interest in themselves that really does not exist. Richie, you're a lineman, a grunt for a small-market team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999. You're a pretty good (not great) guard who is best known for awful behavior. But good luck with the app, bud.

BLEIER UPDATE: FIRST BAD OUTING: Remember our recent column on Richard Bleier, the former South Plantation pitcher called up by the Yankees to finally make his MLB debut at age 29? (Click on A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop for the column). Well, Richard made his fifth big-league appearance Tuesday night and finally got hit hard, giving up five hits and three runs in 1.1 innings to the Rockies. He hadn't given up a run in 3.2 innings before that.

LarrydavidNO, I WILL NOT CURB MY ENTHUSIASM!: I could not be happier in trumpeting the long-awaited return of HBO's brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show's creator and comic-genius star, Larry David, announced, "In the immortal words of Julius Caesar, 'I left, I did nothing, I returned'." HBO did not reveal an exact return date but just the official word that it would return was met with cheers. The show has been on hiatus -- and missed by legions, including me -- since September 2011.

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June 11, 2016

A brutal appraisal of Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill: Fair or out-of-bounds? Poll. Vote now!; plus quick hits (updated) on Sharapova, LeBron, Fish, Steeltown, MLB Draft; also, when Ali met Marino, Forbes' rich-athletes list, verdict on Ali v. Jordan & more

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

Alimarino1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 11. Headed down to Canes baseball today to see if UM can beat Boston College again and advance to the College World Series. 2) Miami sports icons: The Louisville memorial service for Muhammad Ali was yesterday. Pictured right: the time Ali and Dan Marino posed playfully as if about to fight. Based on appearance of both, I'd estimate the photo as late-'80s. Click on image to see it larger. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking Ali among century's greatest athletes poll, Cassius Clay music video, R.I.P. Kimbo Slice, D.Wade in bed, the wonder of Jose, Game of Thrones, Crisis of Character & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 5: My five most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: LeBron Wants More Than Title From Finals, the latest, on LeBron James angling to take back best-player crown from Steph Curry. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Ali set template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional.

"Oh. Well then. If former NBA career scrub Brian Scalabrine says he wouldn't be shocked if Kevin Durant signed with Miami, I guess we can start the party now!" --Greg Cote

RtannyCBS SPORTS' BRUTAL APPRAISAL OF TANNEHILL: FAIR OR OUT-OF-BOUNDS?: CBS Sports NFL writer Jason LaCanfora this week ranks all 32 starting quarterbacks and divides them into seven "tiers," with Miami's Ryan Tannehill's ranked in the sixth tier entitled, 'Good Luck With These Guys.' The seventh tier is an "incomplete" on the two rookie starters, so, in effect, Tannehill is lumped on the bottom rung of starters, along with the likes of Tyrod Taylor and Blaine Gabbert. Seems harsh to me. Clearly, you wouldn't place Tannehill in tiers 1 (Bona Fide Franchise QBs) or 2 (Top Pros, Proven Winners). But, arguably, he might have belonged somewhere in tiers 3 (Rising Stars) or 4 (Guys That Can be Winning QBs). Instead LaCanfora ranks Tannehill as no better than 25th of 32 starting QBs, and writes, "Not sure he is going to be Adam Gase's cup of tea. He doesn't make big-boy reads or throws and is very limited downfield. Still looks pretty rudimentary to me." (Click here to see LaCanfora's full story and list). Curious how you feel about the largely negative appraisal of Tannehill as he enters his fifth season, approaching age 28 and still looking for his first playoff berth. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do?

QUICK HITS: ON SHARAPOVA'S PUNISHMENT, NBA FINALS, MARLINS, STANLEY CUP, MLB DRAFT: Let's be fast with this, rat-a-tat-tat...

Sharapova: She's right. Her 2-year ban is harsh: No doubt it is the responsibility of athletes -- and their doctors -- to be aware of what substances are on a banned list that marks them as PEDs. But the punishers must put violations in context. In this case Maria Sharapova for many years was prescribed meldonium, a drug said to boost oxygen and blood flow, because of a family history of heart issues. It did not go on the banned-substance list (and become tennis-"illegal") until Jan. 1, after which she tested positive and immediately stopped using it. Sharapova, 29, is appealing the two-year suspension as "unfairly harsh." She's right. Six months or the next two majors seems closer to fair.

NBA Finals: Warriors still winning, but LeBron-Curry percolates: Golden State is up 3-1 after last night's win in Cleveland, with a chance to put it away at home Monday night. But the series within the series -- LeBron James vs. Steph Curry -- is closer, and has been fascinating, with King James seemingly determined to take back the crown (NBA's Best Player) snatched from him by Steph. James is averaging 24.8 points in the four games. Curry is at 21.5 after popping 38 last night. Click on LeBron Wants More Than Title From Finals to read my latest column.

Marlins: Call to the bullpen means uh-oh: Fish won a second straight last night but bullpen has been off lately. It's weird, because closer A.J. Ramos has converted 28 consecutive save opportunities. It's everybody else who stinks. Giancarlo Stanton's funk is hurting Miami, but relief pitching is hurting more. Another thing: Miami's record this season against the two worst teams is the majors (Braves, Twins) is 2-7. (But Ichiro keeps hitting!)

Stanley Cup Finals: Rooting for a city, not a team: Pittsburgh leads San Jose 3-2, with Game 6 on Sunday. Penguins can close out their fourth Cup title (1991, 1992, 2009), while San Jose is playing in its first Stanley Cup Finals in its 24th season. The latter fact would normally have me rooting for the Sharks, but I tend to root for cities when I don't care about either team, and in this case, my sensibilities are much closer to blue-collar Pittsburgh than to Silicon Valley San Jose. So, go Pens.

MLB Draft: Marlins take lefty, Canes' Zack Collins goes top-10: Baseball has never been able to package its draft to compete with the NFL's or even the NBA's for allure. Nevertheless! Marlins picked seventh overall and took Alabama high-school lefty pitcher Braxton Garrett. Hurricanes catcher Zack Collins went 10th overall to the White Sox.

FORBES' LATEST LIST OF PEOPLE MUCH RICHER THAN YOU AND I: Forbes' 2016 list of world's 100 highest-paid athletes in combined salary/winnings and endorsements finds soccer star Cristiano CristianoronaldoRonaldo (pictured) No. 1 at $88 million. Rounding out the top five: Lionel Messi 81.4M, LeBron James 77.2, Roger Federer 67.8 and Kevin Durant 56.2. Click here for full list. Heat's Dwyane Wade tops Miami athletes at No. 33 with $32 million. (Oddly, Wade, who wears No. 3, also was 33rd on ESPN's recent World Fame 100 list). Palm Beach's Serena Williams is 40th at 28.9M, Heat's Chris Bosh is 55th at 25.2 and (surprisingly) Heat's Joe Johnson is 77th at 22.9. Notable among the ex's on the list: Former Cane and Dolphin Olivier Vernon is 39th at $29 million, verifying the free-agent deal he got from the Giants makes him -- based on career accomplishment -- maybe pro sports' most overpaid athlete at the moment. Conspicuously absent from Forbes' list is Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton -- conspicuous considering he signed a 13-year, $325 million contract. Explanation: He is making "only" $9 million this season because his contract is heavily back-loaded, a reason cynics might imagine he'll be a Marlin for the next few bargain years of the deal and then perhaps be traded when the mega-bucks begin to kick in.

AliPoll result: Ali edges Jordan for greatest American athlete of 20th Century: We gave you 15 candidates (based on ESPN's SportsCentury list) and invited you to pick your top three. Based on that consensus Muhammad Ali (pictured) edged Michael Jordan for No. 1 overall by 23.06 percent to 22.12%. Those two dominated. A distant third was Babe Ruth with 8.85%, and rounding out your Mount Rushmore is Jackie Robinson with 6.84%. Also challenging for the top four with substantial support were Jim Brown (with 6.43%), Jim Thorpe (6.17%), Jesse Owens (6.03%) and Wayne Gretzky (5.63%). The next tier were Jack Nicklaus (3.08%), Willie Mays (2.68%) and Hank Aaron (2.55%). Pulling up the rear were Wilt Chamberlain (1.61%), Babe Zaharias (1.07%) and Carl Lewis and Joe Louis (both 0.94%). The remaining 2% voted "someone else."

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June 08, 2016

Hear a 21-year-old Cassius Clay sing "Stand By Me" (it isn't bad!); plus where does Ali rank among past century's greatest American athletes? Poll. Vote now; also, in bed with D-Wade, R.I.P. Kimbo, magic of Jose, Games of Thrones & more

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

Kimboslice1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8. R.I.P., fighter Kimbo Slice (pictured), gone suddenly at 42. We spent much of yesterday's LeBatard Show discussing his life. He was a Miami original who started so low and rose from the streets thanks to strength and ingenuity. 2) Bulletin: Roger Goodell is not dead. Somebody hacked the NFL's Twitter site and reported commissioner Roger Goodell had died. I wonder. Does Tom Brady have an alibi? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 led by Muhammad Ali, our Ali and Richard Bleier columns, bipartisan political insult & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 5: My five most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look:Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, the latest, on how Ali set the template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, also new, on Richard Bleier's long climb to the Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure.

DwadegabyInto the bedroom -- and the bed -- with D-Wade and Gaby: Well, this is too much information! Black Sports Online relays that Heat star Dwyane Wade has, on Snapchat, provided fans with a glimpse of himself and wife/actress Gabrielle Union in bed (apparently) just before and after, um, ah, I guess i can say "marital relations" in a family blog. Click here for the item via BSO. At right is an "after" screengrab from the Snapchat. This may be taking the social media concept of "total access" a smidge too far. I'm no prude, but this is wandering too close for my liking to Kim Kardashian-nude-in-a-bathroom-mirror-selfie territory. Remember when celebrities used to bemoan their lack of privacy? Now it seems they're the first to give it away.

"A Democrat running for Congress put a flyer on my door that states proudly, 'Meet Tim Canova. He's not a politician.' Only in politics does this outsider-ism seem to work. If I'm hiring a salesman, I'd sort of like him to have done the job before in much the same way I'd prefer someone about to perform surgery on me to be an actual doctor. And yet it's no-experience-necessary to be in Congress? Bizarre."  --Greg Cote

Clay albumCASSIUS CLAY SINGS 'STAND BY ME' ... AND IT ISN'T BAD!: The video below is 21-year Cassius Clay singing "Stand By Me" in 1963. The video lists him as Muhammad Ali, but '63 was before the first Sonny Liston fight in Miami Beach and a year before before Clay had converted to his Muslim name. "Stand By Me" was the only proper song included on the album (pictured right) that Clay recorded in '63; all of the other "songs" were monologues, poetry and other spoken-word material by Clay. The single heard here was released in 1964 and nearly reached the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at 102 weeks after his stunning upset of Liston. Clay-turned-Ali was a big fan of soul music and friends with tghe legendary Sam Cooke. As for Clay's version of this classic song? He's no Ben E. King, but his rendition actually is pretty solid. Floats like a butterfly, sings like a bee?

 

RANKING ALI AMONG AMERICA'S GREATEST ATHLETES OF THE 20TH CENTURY: The death of Muhammad Ali over the weekend is the impetus for this poll. The 15 athletes presented here are Espncenturynot of my choosing, although I can't disagree with much. These are the top 15 of ESPN's 100 greatest American athletes of the 20th Century list from the network's SportsCentury project. I present them alphabetically, not in order, so as not to prejudice the jury (that's you), although you'd find the complete list here. Limited it to 15 simply so the poll wouldn't get too unwieldy. If you can't believe so-and-so didn't make the top 15 and our poll, blame ESPN, not me. Or cast one of your votes for "somebody else" and say who you were thinking of. But please note this is American athletes only, which is why you don't find soccer god Pele on the list, for example. Also note it is athletes of the past century only, which is why you won't see LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady or anybody else whose career has all or substantively occurred since 2000. As for what constitutes "greatest," that's entirely for you to decide. Select your top three (3) athletes, and from that consensus we'll arrive at the greatest American athlete of the 20th Century. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

JosefTHE WONDER OF JOSE, CONTINUED: Marlins ace Jose Fernandez's statistics in his past eight startst: 8-0 records, 1.38 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 14 walks in 52 innings. The ERA is 0.66 over his past six starts. He still might be third on most NL Cy Young ballots right now behind Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta, but he'll continue to contend for the award if his performance keeps up and if Miami hangs in the playoff chase. Jose is a surreal 23-1 with a 1.53 ERA at home in his career vs. a mortal 8-10 and 3.54 on the road. But he's scheduled for only one start (June 11) on the current nine-game road trip.

Dragonlady GameofthronesON 'GAME OF THRONES': An admission. Five years late, I have joined the lowing herd. I have recently adopted and embraced HBO's Game of Thrones as a guilty viewing pleasure. I am not an aficionado-bordering-cultist who prays to the show or wishes to over-analyze every nuance of every episode in a like-minded online community of zealots. But I enjoy GOT and have elevated it to the my uncrowded pantheon of must-see TV. I like it visually first, for the stunning look of it, before I even get to the expansive, complicated storyline I am still trying to slowly decipher with the not always patient help of my wife, a longer-time fan. Also I must make a confession: One reason I like the show is my embarrassing schoolboy crush on the character Daenerys Targaryen, "Dany," the Mother of Dragons (pictured), portrayed by actress Emilia Clarke. The show's description of her character: "Princess of House Targaryen, Daenerys lives in exile in Essos with her advisors and dragons. Dany rallied the Unsullied of Astapor to her cause and continues to grow the army she needs to take back the throne." Greg Cote's description: "You know, the hot blond with the dragons."

ON 'CRISIS OF CHARACTER': A forthcoming book very critical of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton White House has been written by former Secret Service agent Gary J. Byrne Garyjbyrne(pictured). Coming out a month before the Democratic convention, the book -- timing and content -- fall straight from Republican heaven. If you didn't know better, you might even think the RNC was behind it. I find particularly interesting the book's title: Crisis of Character. Hmm. The title means to suggest the character issue is Hillary's. I wonder if it isn't the author's instead. A tell-all book by a former Secret Service agent!? So much for the secret part of the job title, huh. How unseemly. How unprofessional. How against-code. How against every expectation of discretion for a Secret Service agent to betray confidences in this manner. I'd feel similarly, by the way, if one of Donald Trump's former loyal lieutenant's suddenly came out with a sleazy tell-all timed to sell books. A back-stabbing snitch is a back-stabbing snitch. But I certainly hold Secret Service agents to a higher standard than I do corporate suits. Gary J. Byrne should be embarrassed. Except perhaps to Republicans to whom he is undoubtedly a hero, this man should be ashamed of himself.

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

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June 03, 2016

U.S. Soccer: Confessions of a not-always-unbiased sports columnist; plus like Panthers' new logo? Poll. Vote!; also, Muhammad Ali, Jose Fernandez's monster May, locals in 'World Fame 100,' Doral-PGA divorce, your NBA Finals verdict & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 3. I Tweeted out last night I think the Cavaliers will upset the Warriors and win the NBA Finals, but Game 1 did not feather that nest. When Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shoot a combined 8-for-27 and Golden State still sails, that's a bad sign for Cleveland. 2) Still cannot fathom that the Doral-PGA Tour divorce was not preventable. See link below for my column on the subject. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): PGA Tour dumps Doral, Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals polls, Tannehill 'wins' under-pressure vote, UM baseball & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 4: My four most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, the latest, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive.

Is end near for Muhammad Ali?: The legendary boxer, 74, whose career bloomed in Miami's 5th Street Gym, is hospitalized and today reportedly on life support with respiratory issues. He has suffered from Parkinson's disease and been in unsteady health for years. We wish for the full recovery.of one of America's bigger-than-sports sports icons.

CONFESSIONS OF A NOT-QUITE-ALWAYS-UNBIASED SPORTS COLUMNIST: The U.S. men's soccer team begins play vs. Colombia tonight at 9:30 in the Copa America tournament being held in Ussoccer
Copaamericathis country throughout June. I have a rooting interest, because I am an American before I am a journalist. Call it jingoism; I call it patriotism. I love my country. In a mood, I can get emotional during the national anthem. I get emotional watching the American squad parade en masse during an Olympic opening ceremony. And when U.S. soccer (men or women) is in a World Cup game or a major tournament like the Copa America, yes, I root for "us." (It is nothing personal, Colombia. I love that your supporters are passionate, too). If it is my country playing, I don't even bother to feign the neutrality that is otherwise a part of my profession. I do maintain that neutral curtain when covering our local pro teams. Even though I grew up a Dolphins fan, for example, I cannot be the child-fan I was when covering that team. I am a journalist covering the Dolphins. I am an American first watching U.S. soccer. Can you understand that? I hope so. But if not, I'll still be at home tonight (hopefully) cheering that first U.S. goal, and unabashedly so.

FLORIDA PANTHERS LOGO CHANGE: SHIELD REPLACES LEAPING CAT. GOOD IDEA?: The Marlins and Dolphins have both made significant logo changes in recent years, and now the Florida Panthers have done the same, jettisoning the original 1993-minted leaping panther, the claws-out version seeming to come at you in 3D, in favor of the head of a panthers pictured in a shield

Panthersoldlogo
ORIGINAL LOGO
Panthersnewlogo
NEW LOGO

under the word Florida. The old and new logos are pictured here. A logo change can be good, invigorating, as well as a boon to merchandise sales. Cha-ching. A logo change can be, bad, too. It can mess with tradition; it might prove unpopular. I liked the old/original Panthers logo, but I also get the desire for change after 23 years. The new logo is sleek, hard to dislike. It is inspired by the U.S. Army 101st Airborne shield, although I must say it reads more like a soccer logo, with that sports prone to shields and crests. I also would note the new logo is closer to the Carolina Panthers' logo than the original one was. Bottom line, for me? I'd-a probably kept the old one. It was more original. Different. The new one reads as more generic. Logo 101. But I'm more interested in what you think. You needn't be a passionate or even casual Panthers or hockey fan to vote. You can come at it from an artistic vantage or simply vote which design you'd rather have on your chest on a jersey. Vote and say why, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

JosefJOSE SHOULD ENTER CY YOUNG CHATTER THANKS TO MONSTROUS MAY: The NL Cy Young race has two clear frontrunners in Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta. No denying that. Kershaw, who won in 2013-14, has 105 strikeouts and five walks. Arrieta, who won last year, is 9-0 for the best team in baseball. That's a tall climb for Jose Fernandez. But the Marlins ace had better have at least joined the conversation after an historically good month of May. He is only the third starting pitcher since 1893 to be 6-0 with at least 50 strikeouts in May. The others: Roger Clemens in 1997 and Pedro Martinez in 1999 -- both of whom won the Cy Young that year. That's Cooperstown-quality company. (See how those three months compare below). Fernandez is now 22-1 in his career at Marlins Park. His starts have become must-see; his next one scheduled is here Sunday vs. the Mets. Jose staying in the Cy Young race will depend on him hanging statistically with Kershaw and Arrieta, but it also will depend on the Marlins hanging in the playoff chase, as they are now, just 1 1/2 games back in the wild-card standings. If Jose keeps pitching like it's May and is seen as the main reason Miami could end a 13-year postseason drought, he'll have a fighter's shot at the Cy. Here are the three greatest months of May by starting pitchers in MLB history:

Player, Team (Year)                        Record      ERA    K-BB / IP      Opp BA

Roger Clemens, Blue Jays (1997)      6-0        1.96   51-13 / 46.0   .215

Pedro Martinez, Red Sox (1999)        6-0        1.84   69-9 / 44.0     .228

Jose Fernandez, Marlins (2016)         6-0        1.38    56-11 / 39.0   .200

THE LIST: MARLINS IN CY YOUNG VOTING: Eight Marlins pitchers have received votes for the NL Cy Young Award. They are listed in order of most voting points (VP):

Pitcher                     Year    VP (1st)    Finished

Dontrelle Willis        2005   112 (11)    2nd 

Kevin Brown            1996    88 (2)       2nd

Jose Fernandez        2013    62 (0)       3rd

Josh Johnson           2010    34 (0)       5th

Carl Pavano             2004    6 (0)        6th

Bryan Harvey           1993   1 (0)         T8th

Al Leiter                  1996    1 (0)        T9th

Henderson Alvarez   2014   1 (0)        12th

Worldfame100 SerenaSERENA, D-WADE, OTHER SOFLA ATHLETES IN ESPN'S 'WORLD FAME 100': ESPN loves lists and analytics and celebrates fame like a schoolgirl, so naturally it has an annual "world fame" ranking that factors salary, endorsements, social media following and Google search popularity. The top five on the new one: 1st Cristiano Ronaldo, 2nd LeBron James, 3rd Lionel Messi, 4th Neymar and 5th Roger Federer. (Click here for full list). South Florida athletes who make it are 25th Serena Williams (from Palm Beach, pictured), 33rd Dwyane Wade, 68th Chris Bosh, 74th Venus Williams and (surprisingly, to me) 79th Amar'e Stoudemire. One SoFla ex- on the list besides LeBron: 88th Miguel Cabrera.

Poll: Landslide, twice! You predict Golden State will win NBA Finals, and want Warriors to win, too: Sorry, LeBron. Not a lot of love emanating from Miami or, as your geography puts it, South Beach. We asked which team you wanted to win and it was Warriors 75.8 percent to Cavaliers 24.2%. We asked which team you predict will win and it was Warriors 79.8% to Cavaliers 20.2%. For our viewing pleasure starting with Game 1 tonight, may the series be closer than these polls!

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

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June 01, 2016

PGA Tour leaving Miami, Doral; plus Cavaliers-Warriors. Who'll win? Who do you hope does? 2 polls. Vote!; also, new 'Back In My Day,' Jim Morris' challenge, Ryan Tannehill's dubious distinction & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1. Happy new month, all! Summer time, and the livin' is humid. 2) Congrats to Richard Bleier from South Plantation High. Made his MLB debut at 29 with Yankees on Monday night and faced two batters with two groundouts. Perfect! 3) I'm already tired of hearing about Dion Jordan and his comeback, and Dolfans should be, too. Show us, don't tell us. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): SoFla sports figures most under pressure with poll, Hot Button Top 10, Memorial Day, long climb of Richard Bleier, extraordinary life of Charley Winner, your Super Bowl turf wars verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The latest 'Back In My Day': Click here for yesterday's LeBatard Show podcast that includes my latest 'Back In May Day' segment, on the devaluation of championship rings. I think it kicks in at around the 1 hour 19 minute mark.

The Last 4: My four most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, the new one, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive.

Canes host NCAA Regional starting Friday: Click on Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations for my latest column as coach Jim Morris and the nationally fourth-ranked Miami Hurricanes prepare to host this week's NCAA Regional that also includes FAU, Long Beach State and Stetson.

DoralBREAKING NEWS: PGA TOUR DUMPS DORAL, LEAVES MIAMI: [Click on Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce for my new column, now online]. More than a half century of history is finished. The PGA Tour's annual stop at Doral is moving to -- of all places -- Mexico City. It was Donald Trump, owner of Trump National Doral, who first put the event's future in doubt last year with his controversial political stances including disparaging remarks against Mexicans. The World Golf Championships event officially is South Florida because it could not find a title sponsor to replace departing Cadillac. But Trump's involvement surely plays a role. Trump himself broke the news on Fox's Sean Hannity show Tuesday night, leveraging the move an another example of America losing jobs to foreign countries. "They’re moving it to Mexico City which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance," said Trump. The PGA Tour had warned in December that it would explore all options on the event's future after Trump’s remarks about Mexicans and Muslims.

NbafinalsLEBRON VS. STEPH. CAVALIERS VS. WARRIORS: WHO YOU LIKE? WHO YOU WANT?:  I like these head vs. heart polls because sometimes we vote differently with each, right? With the Cleveland-Golden State rematch in the NBA Finals that begins Thursday night, your head has a favorite -- the team you'd bet to win straight-up if handed a hundred bucks. But who you want to win may be different because your heart is talking. Miami Heat fans may be especially conflicted. There may be a natural inclination to hope Golden State wins as an anti-LeBron vote. But didn't Stephen A. Smith report that LeBron may be agreeable to return to Miami if he delivers this title to Cleveland? Put it all in the blender and vote separately who you think will win and who you want to win. And check back often to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: It's Tannehill in a landslide for local figure under most pressure: We asked which South Florida sports figure is under the most pressure, gave you 12 choices and three votes, and your landlside winner was Ryan Tannehill with 31.7 percent. The maximum would be 33.3% if every voter cast all three votes, meaning just about everybody included the Dolphins quarterback. Rounding out your top five: Giancarlo Stanton 13.2%, Mark Richt 12.7%, Chris Bosh 10.7% and Ndamukong Suh 8.9%.

THE LIST: MIAMI HURRICANES BASEBALL CHAMPIONS: With this week's NCAA Regional here UM sets out seeking its fifth national championship. The roll call:

Year    Record     Coach            CWS MVP

1982   55-17-1    Ron Fraser     Miami P Dan Smith    

1985   64-16       Ron Fraser     Miami DH Greg Ellena     

1999   50-13       Jim Morris     FSU 2B Marshall McDougall

2001   53-12       Jim Morris     Miami OF Charlton Jimerson

Note: Though Miami won a CWS in which one of its players was not MVP (1999), UM also had one CWS MVP in a year it did not win the title: OF Pat Burrell in 1996.

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

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May 30, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); plus who's feeling most heat in South Florida sports? 12 choices, you pick 3. Poll. Vote!; also, Memorial Day, long climb of Richard Bleier, extraordinary life of Charley Winner, your verdict on SB turf wars & more

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

Memorialday1) It is MONDAY, MAY 30. Remembering and honoring America's war dead on this Memorial Day. We are the land of the free because of the  brave, and these were the bravest. See our Memorial Day tribute video below. 2) Thoughts and best wishes to former Hurricanes receiver Brett Perriman on his recovery in Atlanta from a stroke. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Turf Wars on Super Bowl name with poll, rooting for LeBron, your preferred NBA Finals matchup & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The Under Pressure 12, the new one, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive. Whale Watching Expedition, on how Heat's best shot for a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James this summer is for Miami fans to hope LeBron wins the NBA title.

PressureUNDER PRESSURE: WHO'S FEELING THE HEAT IN SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS: My latest Sunday column (click The Under Pressure 12 to read in full) explores the topic of pressure and lists the dozen South Florida sports figures who are or should be feeling the most of it. The reason vary, starting with No. 1 on our list, Chris Bosh, whose medical situation puts him under a much different pressure than Ryan Tannehill, who must win, or Giancarlo Stanton, who must perform to the tune of $325 million. Everyone has his own definition of pressure in sports and their own thoughts on who's under it. I am curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll, the dozen choices listed alphabetically, and vote for the three (3) you think are or should be under the most pressure. Then check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

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

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: NFL rewards Stephen Ross, names Dolphins stadium as 2020 SB host: Miami and a refurbished, canopied Dolphins stadium in 2020 will host its first Super Bowl since 2010, thanks to a vote of NFL owners this week. Your city hosting a Super Bowl? Good. Your city playing in one? Infinitely better.

2. NBA: LeBron awaits Oklahoma City-Golden State Game 7 winner tonight: Well, Heat fans are guaranteed at least four more games to cheer or boo. LeBron's in the Finals! The question is who Cleveland will face, with Oklahoma City going to a Game 7 at Golden State tonight. LeBron vs. Kevin Durant or LeBron vs. Steph Curry. Fans can't lose.

3. MARLINS: Jose en fuego; Fish finally figure out Braves: Miami is hanging within striking distance of playoff contention and one reason is ace Jose Fernandez, who in last four starts has allowed three runs with 43 strikeouts in 27 innings. Fish are back home this week and Jose pitches Tuesday. Meanwhile Miami finally figured out Atlanta. Before yesterday the Braves had been are 5-0 vs. Miami, 9-34 against everybody else.

4. SOCCER: Real Madrid reigns, now Copa America on deck: It was Real Madrid beating Atletico Madrid on penalties Saturday after a 1-1 game in the UEFA Champions League final. Now comes Copa America June 3-26 in 10 U.S. cities, with the U.S. team debuting this coming Friday vs. Colombia. A championship by the hosts? That’s the goooooaaaaalll!

5. NHL: It’s a Pittsburgh-San Jose Stanley Cup Finals: NHL begins to reveal its next champion with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. San Jose is making its first SCF appearance. Pittsburgh is in its fifth, including titles in 1991, 1992, 2009.

6. AUTO RACING: Rookie wins centennial Indianapolis 500: NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 ran, too, but the Indy 500 is the one day Indy-car racing owns the sport of auto racing. Especially when it happens to be the 100th running of "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing," won Sunday by rookie Alexander Rossi.

7. CANES BASEBALL: UM falls short in ACC, but named regional host: The No. 3-ranked and top-seeded Miami Hurricanes failed to reach Sunday's ACC Tournament championship game, but still were named an NCAA Regional host as expected. Today the Canes learn which other teams will be here. For UM, as always, the Regionals mean one thing. Omaha or bust.

8. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic in line for milestones at midpoint of French Open: A title by Serena Williams would tie Steffi Graf's open-era record of 22 majors, while a French title is the only major that has eluded Novak Djokovic, whose path cleared when Rafael Nadal withdrew with a wrist injury.

9. DOLPHINS: Fins continue offseason OTA practices: The next ones are Tuesday through Thursday. OTA stands for "organized team activities," which always sounds to me like something that should involve arts and crafts, like making a log cabin out of popsicle sticks.

10. PANTHERS: Cats trade Gudbranson, plan unveiling: Florida continued to fix what wasn't broke, trading young defenseman Erik Gudbranson. This Thursday the club unveils its new logo and uniforms. Team will look different next season. Question is whether they'll look like a team ready to win a playoff series for first time since 1996.

Missing the cut: Canes football coach Mark Richt is donating $1 million toward the school's new indoor practice facility. Richt hasn't coached a game yet, but he keeps winning. ..... It took eight games but NASL  expansion team Miami FC earned its first victory, 1-0 over Edmonton. Congrats, I think ..... Chris Berman will step down from his current role at ESPN after this coming football season, meaning he won't be backbackbackbackback ..... Quick aside to Koa Misi: Nothing good ever happens outside a nightclub at 3:40 a.m. ..... Heat lost without playing as Erik Spoelstra's top assistant, David Fizdale, headed to Memphis ..... Scandal-plagued Baylor fired football coach Art Briles over his handling of sexual assault charge against players, and Ole Miss self-imposed sanctions for rules violations. The 'C' in NCAA stands for cheating, right? ..... Tom Brady is appealing his four-game Deflategate suspension. You get the feeling Brady will be retired and perhaps dead and this thing will still be going on in the courts ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie, with one finalist stymied by the word "feldenkrais" and the other by "gesellschaft." I'm still trying to figure out how to spell "Krzyzewski" ..... Jose Mourinho is the new savior at Manchester United. Until he loses his first math ..... Colombia beat Haiti 3-1 yesterday at Marlins Park. I wonder if soccer fans booed Jeffrey Loria just on principle? ..... There is increasing media speculation that Tiger Woods may never play again, one more reason to hope he does ..... Sport Name of the Week: Last week's LPGA tournament runnerup, So Oh ..... Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity apologized for paying the rapper Ludacris $65,000 for a 13-minute performance at Bulldogs' spring game. Ludicrous! ..... Canada beat Finland 2-0 to win the world hockey championships in Moscow. "We'd rather have the Stanley Cup back," said Canada in unison ..... Miami Gun Show ended Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Yes, because, if there is one thing we need more of in Miami, it's guns!

RICHARD BLEIER: A LONG CLIMB, BUT HE MADE IT: Richard Bleier, a local kid who played ball at South Plantation High, this week became a major-league rookie at age 29, after a career's climb through the minor leagues. He is wearing New York Yankees pinstripes this weekend as the team that called him up on Thursday plays in Tampa Bay. He did not pitch in that series; his MLB debut could come tonight in Toronto. BleierHis Dad, Lawrence, is from the Bronx and grew up a Mickey Mantle-era Yankees fans, so this is all as exciting for him as it for his son. "It's a dream come true," Lawrence told the Fort Myers News-Press. (Richard pitched in college for Florida Gulf Coast there). "He’s been very level-headed about everything. He’s excited, but he has anticipated this day for a long time. So here he is. How long he will be there, we don’t know. Whatever it is, he’ll be a major leaguer. It’ll be in the baseball encyclopedia." Richard said in a text, "It's an awesome feeling. I've worked my entire life to get here." Richard was a teammate of my son Christopher's at South Plantation High, where I announced the games from a purple-painted wood pressbox overlooking home plate. Richard was a lanky lefthanded pitcher, rather stoic, prone to being a bit too hard on himself. His father would sometimes come up into the press box and kibitz for an inning or two. Since those days Richard has spent the last 10 or 12 years climbing, pitching, dreaming. He will wear uniform No. 50, and pitch out of the bullpen for the Yankees. I hope his stay in the big leagues lasts as long as it took him to finally get there, but perseverance is its own reward. As his Dad noted, no matter how long his stay, his name will be in the baseball encyclopedia now. No matter how long his stay, he made it. Congratulations, Richard.

Poll result: 'Miami' swamps 'South Florida' when it comes to Super Bowl: We asked what is the best title for the 2020 NFL championship game awarded this week, and it was 75.7 percent for 'Miami Super Bowl' and 24.3% for 'South Florida Super Bowl.'

REMEMBERING AND HONORING AMERICA'S WAR DEAD: This video is called "50,000 Names Carved In the Wall," by country legend George Jones. It about about the Vietnam Memorial, but its message reaches across all generations, wars and all who made the ultimate sacrifice. If you can watch this video without tearing up, you are a stronger person than I. (For those in a sentimental or patriotic mood today, I also recommend "Ragged Old Flag," by Johnny Cash). 

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 27, 2016

Turf Wars: Should it be 'Miami Super Bowl' or 'South Florida Super Bowl'? Poll. Vote now!: plus rooting for LeBron, verdict on the NBA Finals you want & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 27. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA Finals matchup you most want poll, separating Marlins from Loria, your verdict on a South Florida Super Bowl & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Whale Watching Expedition, the latest one, on how Heat's best shot for a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James this summer is for Miami fans to hope LeBron wins the NBA title. The LeBron & Draymond Follies, on the playoffs as NBA Follies. No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins, on how Fins must earn back the faith and trust they've lost.

Rooting for LeBron: Many if not most Heat fans don't want to, but should know it is in their best interest, because LeBron James delivering an NBA championship to Cleveland is the best shot Miami has at landing Kevin Durant or LeBron this summer. I explore in this week's latest column. Click on Whale Watching Expedition to read in full. [Quick aside: Metrics saying this column has been burning up MiamiHerald.com; one of the most-read pieces I've written in a while. Don't miss it].

TURF WARS: 'SOUTH FLORIDA' SUPER BOWL VS. 'MIAMI' SUPER BOWL: This debate interests me, and it is explained well by colleague Douglas Hanks in this story. I can speak pretty objectively here, I think, because I walk the line on Miami-Dade vs. Broward, on 305 vs. 954. A lot of both are in me. I work for the Miami Herald and do a radio show on South Beach. Yet I live
Sblogosin Broward, was raised there, and my social orbit revolves closer to Fort Lauderdale than farther south. I have a foot in each county, if you want to picture me as a Brobdingnagian colossus. And I get the parochial bickering at play on how to promote the 2019-season (February 2020) Super Bowl awarded this week to Dolphins stadium. Argument: It should be the "Miami Super Bowl" because it is being played in Miami-Dade, that county is pouring more money into hosting it, and "Miami" is a more instantly recognizable and promotable brand than the amorphous "South Florida." Counter-argument: "South Florida Super Bowl" is more accurate and fair, mainly because so many SB-related events and hotel space will be rooted in Broward. Pictured at right: the official South Florida bid committee logo used in securing the NFL owners' vote to bring the game here, and the Miami host committee logo that Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Giminez displayed -- angering Broward officials. I am rarely on the fence about anything, an awful place to be for a sports columnist paid to have sharp opinions. But in this case I see both sides. "South Florida Super Bowl" is more inclusive, accurate and fair. But "Miami Super Bowl" is more concise and a better sell nationally and internationally. I'd probably narrowly vote for the latter, but feel a tinge of guilt in doing so. Wondering what you all think; hence, this new (and alphabetical!) poll. Try to separate where you happen to work, live or play from your vote. It isn't a which-county-rules poll. I am wondering instead which way to describe the game is the better way for "us" to promote a Super Bowl being held at Dolphins stadium. Vote, say why you think that way, and check back a lot to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: Cavaliers vs. Thunder is the NBA Finals you most want to see: We asked which of four possible Finals matchups you prefer (you may still vote), and it was Cavaliers-Thunder with 42.4 percent, Raptors-Thunder 28.8%, Cavs-Warriors 21.7% and Raptors-Warriors 7.1%.

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

Twitter @gregcote