July 26, 2016

On Christopher Scissorhands and throwback uniforms. With poll. Vote now!; plus Radio Tuesday, Heat sign "Kobe Wade," Michael Jordan speaks, American cars & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 26. Ichiro remains stuck on 2,996 hits after going 0-for-1 last night. 2) Big weekend for two of Miami's biggest sports figures, with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra getting married on Saturday and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill becoming a first-time father on Sunday. Congrats to both! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, can Miami be a football town again, SABR nerds, Dolphins in fantasy rankings, your verdict on NBA/Charlotte move & more. 43) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio co-hosting the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz today, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket and 9-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, with the  national show simulcasting on ESPNU. It's Stu and I today, with Dan on vacation. Which means -- what? -- we might actually talks sports!

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating a chance for Dolphins and Canes. Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp nears. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

Uniform destruction was silly but served a larger point: White Sox ace Chris Sale destroys team's 1976 "throwback" uniforms, is suspended and gets savaged in the media. But as a statement against the silly trend of throwback and alternate uniforms, Sale became the face of what should be a movement. That's my latest column. Click on His Scissors Had a Point to read. I'm curious of you like the idea ogf throwback and alternate uniforms or if, like me, you find them a tiresome money-grab by teams. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results:

DwaitersON NEWEST HEAT PLAYER, "KOBE WADE": It takes balls to answer to the nickname "Kobe Wade," as newly signed Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters has. Now Waiters (pictured) arrives in Miami trying to literally replace departed Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup (while also wearing uniform No. 3) after signing a one-year, $2.9 million deal Monday. Should we nickname him "D-Wait"? The NBA free agent market wasn't much for Waiters, verifying he has work left to do to earn his audacious nickname and justify having been the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He hasn't lived up. Yet. But I like Miami giving him another shot. He is only 24. If you're going to err, err young. That finally seems to be Pat Riley's mindset. Waiters shot a tick under 40 percent overall last season (not good), but was a credible 35.8% from 3-land. I like Miami's guard rotation of Goran Dragic and Waiters, and Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and probably Wayne Ellington. Waiters isn't Wade (or Kobe), but he isn't worth giving up on, either.

MjMICHAEL JORDAN SPEAKS. AND NAILS IT: Jordan has spent his professional life saying very little of consequence outside the basketball rectangle, declining to get involves in social issues or politics. As the face of Nike once infamously said, "Republicans buy sneakers, too." That changed this week when Jordan spoke, to The Undefeated website (click here) against recent police-related violence both by and agsinst cops. With that he alsi is donating $1 million to each cause. Good for you, Michael. We've been waiting to hear your voice for a long time. Somewhere, Muhammad Ali would be smiling.

THE LIST: THE MOST-AMERICAN AMERICAN VEHICLES: The "Kogod Made In America Auto Index" for 2016 lists the Top 10 most-American cars, trucks and SUVs based on percentage of domestic parts used. The list:

1. Buick Enclave            90.0%

1. Chevy Traverse          90.0

1. GMC Acadia               90.0

4. Ford F-150                85.0

5. Chevy Corvette          83.0

6. Cadillac Escalade       82.5

6. Chevy Equinox           82.5

6. Chevy Impala             82.5

6. Chevy Malibu             82.5

6. GMC Yukon                82.5

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 23, 2016

Is NBA right to pull '17 All-Star Game from Charlotte over anti-LGBT law? New poll. Vote now!; plus new NFL MVP odds, Canes' Richt at ACC Kickoff, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, your verdict on Ajayi vs. Foster & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 23. Ichiro is at 2,996 hits after going 0-for-1 in last night's homestand-opening Marlins loss, and is not in starting lineup tonight. Now likely his milestone hit wouldn't come before Monday at earliest. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins sign Arian Foster with poll, Canes football on "surprise" list, LeBron James parties & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

New NFL MVP odds: Via Bovada, Packers' Aaron Rodgers opens as betting favorite to win NFL MVP award at 4-1 odds, followed by Ben Roethlisberger 7-1, Cam Newton 15-2, Russell Wilson 8-1 and Tom Brady 9-1, the latter devalued because of four-game suspension. Top Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 150-1, tied for 34th.

NBA LEADS WAY IN LEAGUES/ATHLETES DELVING INTO POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES: The NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver made good on a threat Thursday and removed the league's 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, N.C., because that state's refusal to repeal a law that critics say is anti-LGBTQ and encourages discrimination based on sex and gender. But, that same day, Nbaasg17in that same Charlotte, the ACC Football Kickoff (including the Miami Hurricanes) was held. Clearly, sports is still feeling its way in terms of whether to act or not in decisions that are political or involve social issues. Also, clearly, the NBA is leading the way on action. Just last week, it was four NBA star who opened the ESPY Awards with powerful statements agsint gun violence and shooting by and of police. There still is uncertainty, though, as seen in the WNBA, which fined players from three teams for wearing T-shirts during warmups Thursday in protest of recent police-related violence, yet in a statement said, "We are proud of WNBA players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues." Hmm. What to do? Should leagues and athletes "stick to sports" and not blur the line on social activism? Or is it right that leagues and players, as role models, lead the way in weighing in on such stuff? I align with the latter view. We offer this poll as a microcosm or indication of how our readers feel on this broad question. I'll vote "yes," but it is your consensus that will paint the picture. Vote now, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

FAREWELL, LOCKHART STADIUM: AN ODE TO THE ORIGINAL STRIKERS: [Click on Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham for our latest column. An alternate blog-exclusive version follows here] This was circa 1977-83, pre-Major League Soccer, when the original North American Soccer League had earned a foothold in this country, and when the original Fort FtlstrikersLauderdale Strikers had done the same locally, winning a loyal and considerable following. Lockhart Stadium, off I-95 and Commercial, filled to near its 20,000- Rayhudsonseat capacity for most home games. It was intimate, conveying a Fenway or Wrigley vibe for the lads in the bumblebee uniforms. Tailgating was huge. Fans showed up hours early. Strikers flags waved in the parking lots amid the rising smoke from cookout grills. This was pre-Heat, Marlins or Panthers. Other than Dolphins and Canes the Strikers  were the biggest thing in town. Lockhart Stadium is where showman-coach Ron Newman once rose from a coffin at midfield to demonstrate his team's resilience. Where a young blond Brit named Ray Hudson (pictured) made the women swoon. Where European legends like Gerd Muller and Georgie Best played their career's winters. Where a Rotten to the Cor banner flew against Dutch coach Cor Van der Hart. I covered those early Strikers teams as a fulltime beat, my first big break and major assignment for the Miami Herald. Interest (and travel budgets) were high, so all of a sudden I'm a kid being sent to Vancouver to cover a team. It seemed like a big deal. And it was, for a time. Now fast forward almost 40 years, if you can believe that. MLS is futbol king in America now. The NASL is still Ronnewmanaround, but as a diminished, second-tier league. The Strikers are still around in their latest iteration, but a shell of their former selves. This week those Strikers, currently averaging a meager 1,310 fans per game, worst in the NASL, announced they are leaving Lockhart for Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill (starting Aug. 20), which is one-fourth the capacity. It may be because Lockhart is now old and decrepit. Or because developers want to turn that area into a water theme park. Or because the Strikers are waving a white towel and admitting a team playing to 85 percent empty seats presents a depressing tableau. It may be some of all of that. What it also is: A chapter ending for a small but not insignificant piece of South Florida sports history. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Lockhart Stadium -- the original version. There was a time when that marriage was strong and supported buoyantly, back in the day, before Greater Miami boomed into a major sports town, and it should remain the template as David Beckham continues trying to realize his dream for an MLS team in Miami. Strikers home games were an event, Lockhart was home, and in the teeming crowd it felt like you were surrounded by friends and neighbors. Farewell, Original Strikers at Lockhart. It didn't end right, but those halcyon days as the late '70s turned to early '80s contributed some special snapshots to the album of our sports history.

Poll result: Foster edges Ajayi for Dolphins RB in closest vote ever: We asked which running back you expect will have the bigger role in Dolphins' offense this season, and it was newly acquired Arian Foster edging young Jay Ajayi by 50.9 percent to 49.1% as we called it final. I cannot think of a closer either/or vote in all the years of our blog polls. The lead went back and forth. You truly were torn.

WHAT MARK RICHT SAID TO ACC MEDIA THAT REALLY MATTERED: University of Miami's time slot was this week at the ACC Football Kickoff and media days in Charlotte. We cull though the boring stuff and bring you what we found most notable from coach Mark Richt: On the season and immediate outlook: "If we do things right and don't do things to hurt ourselves, there's a great chance to have Theusuccess. And then, once we get the ball rolling, I think people will say, 'Miami is back.' I don’t think people will say, 'Miami’s having a good year.' They'll say, 'Miami’s back.' You can say you’re back when you have the tradition of five national championships in the last 30 years." On his attitude with assistant coaches: "I got to cherry-pick guys that would really buy into how I like to do things. I told the coaches that I am coaching QBs again, I'm calling plays, I'm getting in the middle of this offense. I don't have time to baby-sit anybody. I tell them if I have to motivate you, we've got a problem. If I’ve got to motivate a staff member to do his job, I’m probably going to get another staff member." On his deep religious beliefs: "I happen to be a Christian. That's just what I am. I'm not using it. I think we need to be true to who we are, what we believe. I'm not trying to make anybody believe anything I believe. I just want to do things in a way that I think God would be pleased with me. That's my goal on a daily basis. I'm not trying to use anything. I'm just trying to be who I am." On recruiting and relationships: "The big thing is to make sure that the high school coaches know that they're welcome in our place, that we want to recruit their guys, we want the local guys to stay home, and we want to be honest with everybody and do our recruiting in a way that everybody appreciates." On his goal for UM in 2016: "Win the Coastal division. Get back to the ACC championship game." Pictured, apropos of nothing: Snoop (The U) Dogg.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 20, 2016

Jay Ajayi vs. Arian Foster: Who'll have bigger role in Dolphins offense? Our closest poll ever! Last day to vote; plus LeBron arrives discreetly at a club, Canes football predicted among 2016 "surprise" teams, wonder of Ichiro, new 'Back In My Day' & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 20. Florida Panthers and 560-WQAM have extended their partnership. Good for 'QAM. Cats poised to be good for years and a growing presence in our market. 2) R.I.P., Garry Marshall, 81, who produced a lot of the '70s TV that amused America, including, of course, 'Happy Days.' 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins sign Arian Foster, your verdict on Ross as Fins owner & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new 'Back In My Day': Click here for yesterday's LeBatard Show podcast from ESPN Radio. The latest 'Back In My Day' segment, on Hour 2, kicks in around the 16-minute mark.

IchiroIchiro! Ichiro!: He's a national icon and treasure in Japan. He'll probably enter Cooperstown as a Seattle Mariner. But it is Miami and the Marlins who luck to write the final career chapter for the great Ichiro and see his run to 3,000 MLB hits. Click on Ichiro! for today's latest column, an unabashed appreciation.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or think they deserve another look: Ichiro! , the latest, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

ArianfosterWHAT TO MAKE OF DOLPHINS' ARIAN FOSTER SIGNING?:  Miami's interest in possibly recycling used running back Arian Foster first surfaced in March, when I wrote this column. Fourteen weeks later, the signing looks better to me because Foster, coming off major knee surgery, is completely healthy now (he says; he wasn't then) and passed a physical. It also looks better because the Fins got him on a very low-risk deal: an incentive-laden one-year contract of which a mere $400,000 is guaranteed. By NFL standards, he's a fry cook at McDonald's in terms of compensation. If he proves unhealthy or washed up, the team hasn't lost much on the gamble. But if he can resurrect himself, turning 30 in August, for a last hurrah? He could be the veteran presence who balances young second-year guy Jay Ajayi if he doesn't win the starting job altogether. For what it's worth, "I still feel like I'm a Pro Bowl caliber player, and I intend to show that," Foster said upon signing.

CANES FOOTBALL PREDICTED TO BE AMONG 2016 "SURPRISE TEAMS": Phil Steele writing for ESPN. com names "the 13 biggest CFB surprise teams for 2016" and the Miami Hurricanes check in RichtNo. 6 on his list. (Full story here). I think most experts think the Canes will be pretty good, so I'm a bit surprised they're on a "surprising teams" list. Nevertheless! Excerpts from Phil's reasoning: "Mark Richt will get the most out of the talent on hand. [Brad] Kaaya will be one of the top QBs taken in next year's draft. Miami has my No. 13 running back group, No. 21 receivers, No. 16 offensive line, No. 20 defensive line, No. 36 linebackers, No. 30 defensive backs and No. 15 special-teams unit. The Hurricanes are one of only 11 teams to rank in my top units in all eight position categories. They face only three teams that will be in the preseason top 25, and if they win the Coastal, beat the powerful Atlantic champ and have either zero or one losses, they will be headed to the playoffs." Whoa, big fella, whooaa! You had me at the nice stuff about Richt (pictured) and Kaaya. But those are skyscraper-sized ifs leading to the top four and College Football Playoff.

LebronLEBRON CELEBRATES TITLE: LeBron James is pictured celebrating his Cleveland Cavaliers' NBA championship on Monday night at Marquee nightclub inside the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas. (Photo is courtesy Tony Tran Photography). LeBron began his night in the private dining room of the restaurant Beauty & Essex. After dinner the former Heat star and his entourage hit the nightclub as countless smart-phones recorded his arrival. The UNLV Marching Band played "We Are the Champions" as the entourage strode a red carpet along the pool deck as fireworks boomed overhead. Upon arrival the Marquee staff inundated the James group with a parade of bottles of Ace of Spades champagne - gratis, of course. Seven Cavaliers teammates including Kyrie Irving were in James' party, which also included Chris Paul. Well, it's good to see LeBron didn't get special treatment or anything. Nope, just a regular guy arriving at a club.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 16, 2016

Hurt, regretful but resolute, Pat Riley fights on. My new column; plus is Stephen Ross a good owner? Poll. Vote now!; also, D-Wade's ex after him again, HistoryMiami Museum's sports project, shame of Dani Mathers, your verdict of Brady/Fins impact & more

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

Nice1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 16. Our thoughts are with the people of Nice, France, a lovely town I have had the pleasure to visit, in the wake of the latest terrorist attack. The people committing these acts are the the biggest cowards in the history of mankind. If only our prayers were helping. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady suspension upheld with Dolphins poll, grading Marlins' All-Star performances, the ESPYS and NBA stars' anti-violence video, new MLB odds, Greg's Lobos news & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they merited another look: Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, the latest, on impact of Tom Brady's upheld suspension. The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical issues with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell to Wade. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on setting a template. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees.

MY NEW PAT RILEY COLUMN: A wistful but ultimately resolute Riley spoke at length today about his regrets concerning Dwyane Wade's departure, Chris Bosh's health and the Heat moving forward. Click on Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On for my new column, shipping to Sunday's inky pulp editions but online now. 

D-Wade's ugly divorce hasn't stopped being ugly: Dwyane Wade's divorce from childhood crush Siohvaughn Funchess ended in 2013 with a $5 million-pus settlement. Or, not. She is now asking the Cook County courts to dismiss her settlement agreement and is going after a cut of his new $47 million deal with the Chicago Bulls. Click here for the latest via the Chicago Tribune.

Updated World Series odds: As second half of MLB season starts, the Cubs (6-1) and Giants (13-2) now are virtual co-favorites to win the World Series, via sportsbettingdime.com, with the Rangers (9-1) and Nationals (10-1) next. The Marlins are a mid-pack 50-1, tied for 15th. Giancarlo Stanton is 8-1 to hit 50 homers, second only to Mark Trumbo at 4-1.

WHY DOLPHINS OWNER STEPHEN ROSS IS SMARTER (NOT TO MENTION RICHER) THAN US: You don't get to be worth $7 billion like Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is by making dumb business decisions. So when Ross, 76, decided to reach into his own deep pockets for some $400 million in massive, ongoing improvements to his and his team's stadium (including that Srossenormous canopy), he was justifiably given much credt for doing it himself rather than begging tax dollars from the public trough. It wasn't pure altruism, though. It was 42 Dolphinsbusiness. An investment in his own net wealth. And the latest Forbes ranking of the world's 50 most valuable sports franchises for 2016 verifies how smart Ross was in knowing he'd get his 400K back, and fast. The Miami Dolphins make the list as 33rd overall with a value of $1.85 billion. That is mid-pack (16th) among all NFL franchises, but represents a huge 42 percent increase over the previous year -- attributable largely to the stadium makeover. Only six of the 32 franchises more valauble than the Dolphins had a larger one-year spike in overall value. Twenty-seven of the 50 teams on the list are NFL clubs, by the way, led by the Dallas Cowboys, No. 1 overall valued at $4 billion. The remaining teams are from the NBA (8), international soccer (8) and MLB (7). The Miami Heat are just outside the Top 50. Bottom line? Give Ross enormous credit for paying for these stadium upgrades himself. Yes. But understand he knew very well it would be an investment that would pay for itself. And it already has, even as the construction workers and cranes continue to swarm over the stadium. Here's a poll on how you think Ross has been as Dolphins owner:

HISTORYMIAMI MUSEUM'S 'BEYOND THE GAME': "Beyond the Game: Sports and the Evolution of South Florida" premieres today/Saturday and runs through Jan. 15 at HistoryMiami Museum, 101 West Flagler Street. The Museum's own description: "Since the 1920s, sporting events and institutions have both mirrored and shaped the growth of South Florida. Miami Jai-Alai and Hialeah
Historymiamimuseum HistorymiamiPark two of the area’s earliest sporting attractions, lured northern tourists with, respectively, the spectacles of jai alai, an ancient Basque game imported from Cuba, and horse racing. Along with the annual collegiate Orange Bowl Game, these quickly became world-famous draws and by the mid-century were helping fuel the public fascination with South Florida as a locus of sun, fun, and leisure. It was an image that eventually would draw not only visitors, but transplants to the region. By the early 1960s, Miami-Dade’s population topped one million, including thousands of new arrivals from Cuba. One of these, a young architect, designed a venue for the distinctly South Florida sport of powerboat racing that captured the optimism and exuberance of the era: Miami Marine Stadium. At the same time, across the bay on Miami Beach, the Fifth Street Gym emerged, in the words of one observer, as “an island of democracy” amid the realities of Jim Crow segregation. It also made South Florida an epicenter of boxing. Professional sports franchises — and the rise of one very prominent college football team — followed in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, cementing South Florida’s sporting legacy and acknowledging its status as a modern metropolis." Call the museum for more info or click here to register for Saturday's premiere. The project is ambitious, broad and sounds great. And made all the more timely by the recent death of Muhammad Ali, who made Fifth Street Gym what it was.

Poll result: Sorry, Dolphins fans, but most don't see Brady suspension toppling Patriots: We asked what you think will be the ultimate impact this season of Tom Brady's 4-game Deflategate suspension being upheld, and 58.8 percent said "negligible" vs. 41.2% who said "significant." (And that's a Miami-based poll, where an element of Dolfans' wishful thinking might reasonably be factored in).

Danishaming DanimathersTHE PATENT ABSURDITY OF A PLAYBOY MODEL BODY-SHAMING ANYBODY: So a Playboy "model" named Dani Mathers body-shamed somebody this week by posting on Snapchat a photo (pictured left) of an unclothed older, heavier women taken at a gym. Click here for the background story. The social-media backlash against Mathers was swift and righteously strong, to a point the tone-deaf model had to scurry and emit a round of lame clarifications and too-late/damage-done apologies. I hope Playboy fires her ass after somebody awakens Hef from his nap to tell him. More than that, I hope the poor woman whose privacy she invaded sues her in civil court. But here is the thing that is especially galling to me about this. Dani Mathers is pictured at right, on the job. This is who she has chosen to be: Somebody answering to the description "Playboy Bunny" and presenting herself as a vapid sex-object. And this is the person who dares make fun of any another woman!? The victim here, the woman whose privacy was breached, she may be a secretary, a homemaker, a retired teacher, a heart surgeon or homeless. Doesn't matter. No matter who or what she is, I believe I'd prefer her company to that of an egotistical, mean-spirited airhead in silk rabbit ears whose entire self-worth apparently is confined to what she's admiring in a mirror or the next compliment from a leering man.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 14, 2016

Wade and others' ESPY anti-violence video; plus Brady ban impact on Dolphins: My column with poll. Vote now!; also, grading 7 Marlins reps' All-Star performances, new MVP/Cy Young odds, Greg's Lobos news, latest 'Back In My Day' & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 14. See NBA stars' anti-violence video below, near end of this blogpost. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Strange fate of Heat's Big 3, mouth of Miko strikes again,UFC sells for $4B, history of Marlins in Home Run Derby, Ricky Williams/pot video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The latest 'Back In My Day': Click on Retail Desperation for our latest Back In My Day segment from Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Link gets you to ESPN Radio podcast, and from there the new BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they deserved another look: The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, the latest, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our Sunday farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. 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.

New MVP, Cy Young odds for MLB, Fish: New today via Bovada, NL and AL MVP favorites are Kris Bryant at 11-4 and Mike Trout at 7-2, respectively. Cy Young leaders are Clayton Kershaw at 11-10 and Chris Sale at 4-5. For Marlins, Jose Fernandez is 12-1 (6th place) for Cy and Giancarlo Stanton 33-1 (9th) for MVP. 

New Dolphins column in wake of Brady news: Click on Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image for my new column, in wake of today's court ruling upholding Tom Brady's four-game suspension.

HOPE FOR DOLPHINS? BRADY 4-GAME SUSPENSION UPHELD: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lost big in court this Wednesday morning when his four-game Deflategate suspension was upheld Bradyupheldin New York by the 2nd. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling essentially is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers to suspend Brady for his role in the doctoring of footballs used in 2014-season playoff game vs. the Colts. It's a big victory for Goodell. It's also a win for AFC East rivals Miami, Buffalo and the New York Jets. Brady's final hope would be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Otherwise, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, not Brady, would start New England's first four games vs. the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans and Bills. Brady's season debut would then be in Week 5 vs.Cleveland. The Miami game Brady would miss is at New England. An oddsmaker buddy of mine told me this morning the Patriots still will be a decided favorite in the game, though likely now by around 6 points instead of around 9 points. Take a dip in our poll and tell us what best represents what you think will be the impact of Brady's suspension on the coming season. Not what you hope, but what you honestly believe. Then check back often to monitor evolving results.

GRADING MARLINS REPS' ALL-STAR BREAK PERFORMANCES: The Marlins had seven representatives at MLB's All-Star festivities in San Diego concluding last night. Grading them top to bottom:

StantonhrdGiancarlo Stanton: A+: I mean, he hit record 61 home runs to dominate Home Run Derby, including 20 of 21 longest dongs. He crushed it. Literally.

Marcell Ozuna: B: Started in CF at All-Star Game (because Yoenis Cespedes could not) and was 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Josh Naylor: B: Franchise's No. 2 prospect had two hits and an RBI as team's only representative in Futures Game.

Fernando Rodney: B: Pitched a neat, scoreless 2/3 inning with a strikeout.

A.J. Ramos: Inc.: Selected but did not appear in ASG.

Marlins Man: C-: Was relegated to the third row behind plate. And in first row was a man in a competing orange shirt. Oh the indignity!

Jose Fernandez: D: Sorry, Jose, but we always expect dominance. Gave up two hits and a run in 1 1/3 innings.

MIAMI HAD REASON TO WATCH ESPYS, AFTER ALL: The ESPYs were broadcast last night from Los Angeles, because ESPN doesn't get enough attention, and because there aren't enough awards shows. South Florida was close to bereft of nominees, save for Palm Beach's Serena Williams nominated (of course) for Best Female Tennis Player, one of 31 categories. Heat fans also saw the evening turn into the LeBron James Show, with him a winner for Best Male Athlete and Best Championship Performance. But! The show's highlight came at the beginning, when NBA friends LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul spoke out against gun violence and racial divide and exhorted fellow athletes to become involved as positive influences. Powerful stuff. Well said, and done. Video here:

 

Greg's Lobos earn $1,550 for charity: The ESPYs are a fundraiser for the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research, and one of the items up for bid this year, through ESPN Radio's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, was for my Greg's Lobos to be in your fantasy football league. Astonishingly, there were 113 bids in only a 24-hour window, and the winning bid was $1,550 by a charitable buyer in San Luis Obispo, Cal. Thank you. Look forward to hooking up for the draft. Go Lobos!

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 08, 2016

Wade-leaving aftershocks: The statue, the rafters and who is now the new face of South Florida sports? 2 new polls. Vote now!; plus LeBatard Show kicking podcast ass & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, JULY 8. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade leaving Heat for Bulls, would-you-boo-Wade poll, NBA/ACC title odds, Marlins on all-stars, UM football Mount Rushmore, Canes on Maxwell list, ouch Hialeah & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

MY WADE-LEAVES COLUMN: The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime. Thank you, Dwyane Wade.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Panthers Embrace Future as Heat Say Goodbye to Past, the latest, on the stark directions of two teams. The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime, on the stunning departure of Dwyane Wade. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. 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.

WadechiWADE AFTERSHOCKS: THE STATUE, THE RAFTERS, AND WHO IS NOW THE FACE OF SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS?: See my farewell-Wade column (link highlighted above) for my say on Dwyane Wade leaving the Heat. It was ugly at the end, and this hurts, but the overwhelming emotion, after initial shock, is Wadetrophythanks, and gratitude. Looking ahead, I'm curious how the Heat as an organization will deal with his departure. Will the team itself turn to Josh Richardson or now match a competing offer-sheet and keep Tyler Johnson? The imperative for Chris Bosh to return from blood clots and play is now greater than ever, from a leadership standpoint as much as a basketball one. But, beyond the team impact, I'm curious how Miami as a franchise will deal with Wade leaving. There is no need for the acrimony toward the end -- especially the frayed relationship between Wade and Pat Riley -- to unduly color the 13 seasons of a wonderful career here. The club should retire Wade's No. 3 jersey immediately and raise it to the rafters in a ceremony the first time the Chicago Bulls visit Miami next season. They should do more than that. They should build a statue of Wade out front of the arena ... slightly larger than life, of course. He meant that much to this city and club, as the single biggest hand behind three championship parades. I'm curious if you're with me on the statue thing. Hence, the first poll below. The second poll (it's alphabetical) wonders what athlete is the face of South Florida pro sports now that Wade has abdicated the throne that clearly was his. Take a dip in both polls and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: Only Wade rejoining LeBron would have bothered Heat fans to point of booing: We asked, "Is there any circumstance under which Dwyane Wade might leave the Heat and be booed upon his return?" The results: 37.1 percent "no, D-Wade is welcomed back for life"; 36.3% "yes, if he rejoined LeBron in Cleveland': 18.3% "yes, if he signed elsewhere for money comparable to Heat offer"; and 8.3% undecided or mixed feelings.

LEBATARD SHOW KICKING PODCAST ASS: ESPN Audio reports the network set a June record for most number of podcast impressions, and leading the way nationally was the South Beach-based Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Dan and Stu have been on vacation this week and away from their eponymous radio show, so that's not good. I mean, all they've missed is the Heat not getting Kevin Durant and then losing Dwyane Wade. But oh those podcast numbers! The ESPN top five for June: LeBatard Show 5.9 million impressions; Mike & Mike 4.1 million; PTI 3.6 million; First Take 3.3 million; and FiveThirtyEight's Elections 3 million. Many of you may know I'm a  big part of the LeBatard Show once a week as an in-studio Tuesdays co-host. I'd estimate that, of those record 5.9 million podcast listens, I am directly responsible for bringing in at least 45 of them. Maybe even 50. You're welcome.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 07, 2016

DWYANE WADE LEAVING HEAT FOR BULLS!: Is there circumstance in which he might leave and be booed upon return? Poll. Vote!; plus updated NBA/ACC football odds, UM's Mount Rushmore, 2 Canes on Maxwell list, Marlins' problem, woe is Hialeah & more

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

Lobostshirt1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 6. We like that readers/listeners love the Greg's Lobos T-shirts we give away on LeBatard Show, and that you send us pics. (Click on image for enlarged view). But we give mixed reviews to those who de-sleeve the shirts for the look shown. Individuality spars with sacrilege! 2) To the person who shot a gun into the air at Bayside last night, causing a panic: How big an idiot are you? Seriously. Beyond the regular danger, knowing how people are on edge these days because of terror threats and you still do that? Moron. 3) Hope y'all had a wonderful and safe long Fourth of July weekend. Back to the grind. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Durant chooses Golden State, Hot Button Top 10, Supercon, your verdict on Wade leaving & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

MY WADE-LEAVING COLUMN: The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime. Thank you, Dwyane Wade.

BREAKING: WADE LEAVING HEAT FOR CHICAGO BULLS!: Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA expert for The Vertical/Yahoo Sports, was first to report tonight, quoting sources, "Dwyane Wade has informed the Bulls he plans to sign a deal with them. Bulls sending out contracts now." Click on The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime for my new column reacting to the stunning news. (And click HERE for my column from earlier in the day as Miami awaited Wade's decision). Wade, tonight, via The AP: "From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the Miami community and especially #HEATNATION for all of their love and support." A sad, stunning day for Miami sports. We had a day or two to  brace ourselves for the possibility of Wade leaving, and it still is stunning.  

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat Must Kiss-and-Make Up With Wade Now, the latest, on Miami's imperative now that the Durant dream is over. Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat, on Wade's tenuous status as Miami nears NBA free agency. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. 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.

"Thank God the Fourth is over. What's with you people and fireworks!?"  --My dog, Riley

New ACC football odds: Out today via Bovada, Miami Hurricanes are favored at 3-2 odds to win the ACC Coastal Division. UM is third favorite to win the overall conference championship at 9-1, after Clemson 3-2 and Florida State 9-4.

Updated NBA championship odds: Via Bovada today and reflecting Kevin Durant to Golden State, NBA title odds for 2016-17 season: Warriors 5-7, Cavaliers 7-2 and Spurs 8-1. Nobody else is better than 22-1. Miami is eighth at 40-1, down from 33-1 pre-free agency.

WADE MIGHT REALLY LEAVE THIS TIME. IS THERE ANY CIRCUMSTANCE IN WHICH HE MIGHT LEAVE MIAMI AND BE BOOED UPON HIS RETURN?: For the record, I still think Dwyane Wade will end up re-signing with Miami for that two-year offer at $20  million per, although I'm less sure than I was 24 or 48 hours ago. I discuss the Wade saga in my latest column; click on Heat Must Kiss-and-Make Up With Wade Now to read. I cannot envision Wade going to a Dwadelosing team like Denver or Milwaukee even if the dollars were a bit better. [Update: TNT's David Aldridge reports Wade has canceled a scheduled Wednesday meeting with Milwaukee]. I can imagine Wade going to his hometown Chicago but still wouldn't see it as likely. I can better picture Wade rejoining LeBron James in Cleveland but that's mere speculation at this point, a social-media contrivance that mainstream media could choose to ignore except that social and mainstream media have become a line so blurred the line may not even exist anymore. Besides, Cavs don't have the cap space for Wade. This drama may take a few days to shake out. Wade returns this week from a vacation in Europe partly spent with close friends LeBron and Chris Paul. Surely Wade's future and pending decision came up in conversation among the super-buddies in between tourist selfies. Wade is scheduled to be a guest-host on Live With Kelly on Thursday morning in New York, the same day the NBA offseason moratorium on player movement ends and new contracts may be signed. By then, by late week, we should know if Wade will return for a 14th Heat season or if the unthinkable -- him in a different uniform -- actually will happen. The gist of this blogpost: Is Wade's South Florida status as a beloved figure permanent and bullet-proof? Or is there a circumstance in which he might leave that would rub us so wrong that he'd be booed or get no better than a mixed response upon his first return to Miami? Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

RushmoreCANES FOOTBALL 'MOUNT RUSHMORE' NAMED: CBSSports.com recently proposed an all-time Mount Rushmore for major-college programs, and it has Miami's fantastic four as (alphabetically) receiver Michael Irvin, quarterback Jim Kelly, safety Ed Reed and coach Howard Schnellenberger. Click here for the accompanying story. I wouldn't strongly dispute the four they arrived at, although, as the story notes, "Trying to whittle down the Hurricanes' football history to four people was a nearly impossible task."

Two Canes on Maxwell list: Hurricanes QB Brad Kaaya and RB Joe Yearby are on preseason watch list announced today for 80th annual Maxwell Award, given to college football player of year. UM is one of 21 schools with two listed. Give Kaaya a chance in darkhorse category. You'll also see him showing up on some Heisman watch lists for same reason: He'll have big stats in this offense. But it'll take a big season by team -- a presence in top 25 and shot at 10-plus wins -- to elevate Kaaya from candidate to contender.

OUCH, MARLINS: A 6-0 blown-lead loss at the Mets yesterday checks in as perhaps the worst defeat of the year for the Marlins. A bullpen fortified by recent addition of Fernando Rodney Collapsesimply collapsed. Miami has lost five of past seven and now has slipped to 2 1/2 games back in the wild-card standings, which is why losses like Monday's can't be tolerated. Add the fact Miami is 5-10 vs. the two worst teams in the league (4-8 vs. Braves, 1-2 vs. Twins), and it won't be tough to finger blame should the Fish end up narrowly missing a playoff spot. Miami's last games before the All-Star break are home Friday through Sunday against the third-worst team, Cincinnati. Marlins need to star taking care of business against teams like this or watch a promising season slip away. [Update: Last night's win was big fueled by two homers and five RBIs from Stanton]

Four Marlins* make all-star team: Jose Fernandez, A.J. Ramos and Marcell Ozuna were selected, Fernandez a no-brainer and the other two also deserved. *-Fernando Rodney, a Marlin-for-a-minute acquired last week, also made it. That ties club record with four selections.  

HialeahSORRY, HIALEAH: The personal-finance website, WalletHub, marks July as National Park and Recreation Month (who knew?) with a newly published analysis and ranking of the 100 largest U.S. cities based on 35 metrics related to recreation such park acreage and cost of movie tickets. Click here for the full list. Orlando and Tampa rank 1-2 as America's best large cities overall for recreation. Elsewhere in the state: St. Petersburg is 16th, Miami 25th, Jacksonville 76th and Hialeah 96th -- fifth from the bottom. Ouch, Hialeah. Miami scores high in recreation and entertainment facilities per capita, ranking fourth overall, but is only 47th in quality of parks and 94th in parkland per capita. Hialeah bottom-dwells at 97th in music venues per capita and 98th in parkland.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 02, 2016

No way D-Wade really leaves the Heat ... right? Poll. Vote now!; plus Whiteside re-ups, Deng/Johnson depart; also, Dolphins playoff odds, Dan Jennings revisited, Mark Richt ranked, Greg Cote acting, your verdict on Heat getting Durant & more

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

Wilfork1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 2. Happy new month all! And here's Vince Wilfork naked on the cover of a national magazine, for no good reason whatsoever that is readily discernible. 2) Campusrush.com has a long read here on the Ole Miss NCAA problem with a large dose of Laremy Tunsil, the Dolphins No. 1 draft pick implicated in some of the allegations. Recommended reading. 3) Congratulations to the Dolphins and the Dolphins Cancer Challenge for raising $5.06 million for cancer research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, bringing the event’s six-year total beyond $16 million. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat getting Kevin Durant poll, Euro '16 quarterfinals, Summitt/Ryan deaths, new Back In My Day, your next-champion verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat, the new one, on Wade's role as Miami nears NBA free agency. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. 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.

Still no love for poor Dolphins: New betting odds out today from Bovada on each NFL team's chances of making the playoffs, and Dolphins are 9-4 against, ranking 23rd. Miami also is last in AFC East by that gauge, with Patriots tied for first overall at 1-5 for, and Bills and Jets tied for 19th at 2-1 against.

HassanWHITESIDE STAYS WITH HEAT; DENG, JOHNSON DEPART: [Update: Luol Deng signs with Lakers, Joe Johnson with Jazz. Neither departure a surprise]. Original post: It's 2016 and so, naturally, the news that Hassan Whiteside will stay and re-sign with the Miami Heat came not via traditional media but on his Snapchat account, where he wrote simply, "#HeatNation it is." And in a brief, first-person bugling on the Rileygodfather
playerstribune.com that read:" I've p
layed on eight teams since college — from Reno to Sioux Falls to Sichuan, China. I am not ready for there to be a ninth. I have decided to re-sign with Miami. I just wanted to take this time to tell all the fans how much you mean to this team, and to me. Can’t wait to get back to work and try to bring another championship to Miami. #HeatNation." His Miami deal reportedly will be for four years and $98 million, max money. So much for all the speculation about the Heat not considering him max-dollars-worthy. Let's file that in the same garbage bin as last night's faulty reporting/speculation (reportulation?) across the Internet that Dallas and Mark Cuban had claimed the inside lane on Whiteside and that the Heat were "losing ground." Pat Riley wins again! Or, does he? The Heat just spent more than it wanted to, more than it thought the player was worth, to meet the market and keep Whiteside. Riley must now make spending all of that salary-cap dough on Whiteside jibe with how to also lure the whale Kevin Durant (they meet Sunday) and, hopefully, re-sign Dwyane Wade, too. Can it all work? Surely Whiteside's commitment makes Miami more attractive to Durant, but now all of the dollars must fit. Buckle up, kids. The ride has just begun.  

DwadeNO WAY DWYANE WADE MIGHT ACTUALLY LEAVE THE HEAT ... RIGHT?: Can the Heat beat tall odds and boat the whale Kevin Durant? Would they pay big to hang onto Hassan Whiteside? Those were two main questions as Miami entered NBA free agency at midnight Thursday, Whiteside answered with a resounding yes and Durant still TBD. But Dwyane Wade's future is right there next on the offseason marquee. I cannot envision Wade leaving the Heat after 13 seasons here. I doubt it'll happen. But the possibility cannot be discounted. He is reportedly talking with four teams and being offered a max contract by the Knicks and Bucks. If the Heat is hardballing/lowballing Wade to accept, say, $8-10 million for one year and some other team is offering double that, well, pride more than money could drive Wade's decision. That's the topic of my latest column; click on Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat to read. I'm curious what you see as the likelihood Wade might actually leave. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: Low bar on Heat's chances with Durant: We asked you the realistic likelihood of Heat landing free-agent "whale" Kevin Durant, and a plurality of 42.5 percent put the chance at less than 10 percent. Then it was 16.7% at 20-29, 15.0% at 10-19, 9.8% at 30-39, 9.4% at 50-plus, and 6.7% at 40-49. That isn't much optimism, but there was some hope, with more than 25 percent giving Miami at least a one in three shot.

DAN JENNINGS ON MARLINS' CONTENTION: "I FULLY EXPECTED IT": Former manager Dan Jennings reached out to me after this week's column on how the 2016 Marlins have earned support no matter the animus against owner Jeffrey Loria. (Miami has lost two straight but remains on playoff pace). I wrote that the club's promotion of the general manager Jennings to Djenningsmanager after Mike Redmond was fired last year was an embarrassment and made the Marlins a laughingstock -- all true. But Jennings (pictured) wanted to make clear it wasn't his idea; that Loria's decision shocked him as much as anybody. Noted. What I wrote put that burden on the decision to promote a man who hadn't managed since high school; it was never on Jennings. Anyway, Jennings also wanted to note the '15 team ended on an the upbeat, finishing on a 19-12 run. I'd also mention (he didn't) that the winning percentage ended up better under Jennings (.444) than it had been under Redmond (.421). That doesn't justify Loria's nutty decision, but it verifies Jennings at least made the most of the tough spot he was put in. Last Oct. 3, after a doubleheader sweep of the Phillies on the next-to-last day of the season, players and staff gathered in a Philadelphia hotel ballroom for a year-end party and two prominent Marlins players stood up to speak in praise of Jennings and hope for his return. (I first heard this from a player, not from Jennings). By the end, Jennings had gradually won the respect of players who'd been very dubious and initially angry over the move. Much of the respect he earned was in playing Marcell Ozuna over the wishes of Loria, which played a part (I presume) in Jennings' eventual dismissal. Jennings is now assistant to the GM with the rival Washington Nationals but a piece of his heart remains in Miami. "Other than 19 times a year [when the two teams meet] I'm pulling for those guys," Jennings said of the Marlins. By late summer last year he'd sensed a young team jelling, and says of this year's turnaround, "I fully expected it." Bottom line: The Marlins promoting a GM to a manager's job he hadn't done since high school will forever be fair play when folks are lining up odd moves by Loria. But Jennings did the best he could, and, as it turned out, that wasn't bad.

RichtCANES' RICHT RANKED NO. 16 OF ALL FBS COACHES: There are 128 FBS (nee Division 1A) college football coaches. Miami's Mark Richt (pictured) is 16th in a new ranking by AthlonSports.com, which, to its credit, predates the internet in its coverage of college football. The predictable, usual suspects (Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh) are 1-2-3. Also of note, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher is ranked 7th and Florida's Jim McElwain 30th. FIU's Ron Turner (112th) and FAU's Charlie Partridge (113th) are lowly-rated, but there are positive signs for each. Turner's Panthers improved to 5-7 last year from 1-11 two seasons earlier, and Partridge's Owls, though 3-9 in both his seasons, seem on the ascent due to a foundation of solid recruiting. Oh, and Kirby Smart, who replaced Richt at Georgia, is ranked 54th.

GregcoteactorGREG COTE, THESPIAN: From today's Houston Chronicle review of the play "Ten Ways On a Gun" at the Landing Theatre: "Greg Cote is irresistible as Benji Kugel, a midlevel-manager type on the rise in the world of corporate rip-offs. In one sequence, the possession of the gun sends Cote into a dreamlike delirium. He sent the audience into stitches as he sang, danced and gesticulated to Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" while his castmates danced in Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts and coconut bras." Always weird when another Greg Cote, this one evidently a Houston-area actor, shows up in the news. We Greg Cotes are not as common as John Smiths, so it's fun to hear of another of any prominence. My alter-ego the actor is pictured.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 29, 2016

What's likelihood Heat will land Durant? Poll. Vote now!; plus Spoelstra getting contract extension, latest Back In My Day, Caitlyn Jenner, Euro '16 quarterfinals, Summitt/Ryan deaths, your verdict on Miami's next sports champ & more

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

Caitlynjenner1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29. Pictured is Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) on the cover of the new Sports Illustrated magazine's annual "Where Are They Now?' issue. The funny thing there? Like there's anybody in America who doesn't know what this particular person has been up to lately!? 2) Does anybody really believe Lionel Messi has played his last game for Argentina? Yeah, me neither. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's next champion among Miami's Big 5 teams with poll, Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on naked athletes & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, the latest, and that tagline says it all. Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's hits 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.

Spoelstra getting extension from Heat: Miami and Erik Spoelstra are "progressing on completion of a multiyear contract extension," The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported. Spo's current deal is to expire after the 2016-17 season. His 399-241 record since taking over in 2008 ranks seventh in wins among active NBA coaches, but second only to San Antonio's Gregg Popovich for most victories with one team.

The new Back In My Day: Our latest "Back In My Day" segment from the LeBatard Show is on yesterday's ESPN Radio podcast right here. The BIMD starts right around the 1-hour mark. I wasn't too sure about this one, but the show crew and listeners seemed to love it. 

"Things I think about: Mustn't there be dozens of people in the world -- and likely a lot more -- named Zika?"  --Greg Cote

Durant1 DurantHOW LIKELY THAT THE HEAT LAND THE WHALE KEVIN DURANT?: NBA free agency starts Friday (midnight Thursday) and Miami is one of six teams announced so far as securing an audience with No. 1 prize Kevin Durant. This is what Pat Riley does. Short of celebrating a Heat championship, getting in the room with a free-agent whale is the professional turn-on for the Heat's president and deal-closer. Nobody does this better than Riley. However! The betting odds are that Durant will ultimately choose to stay with Oklahoma City. And if he doesn't, the consensus of experts is that Golden State would be the likely destination. Plainly, Miami seems a real underdog in the Durant Sweepstakes, and yet that little voice keeps whispering the name of Riley and picturing him flashing all of those rings at Durant. I'm curious about the realistic feelings and expectations of Heat fans as free agency nears. The poll isn't asking what you hope happens, obviously, but what you honestly see as the Miami's chances of landing Durant. Vote and check back frequently for evolving results.

Euro16ON THE EURO '16 QUARTERFINALS: First, the BREXIT vote. Now England shockingly falls to Iceland -- Iceland! -- in the Euro '16 round of 16, one of the greatest upsets in international soccer history. Now, onto the quarterfinals in the biggest soccer tournament outside of the World Cup: Poland vs. Portugal, Thursday--Portugal, at 7-1 odds to win it all (via oddschecker.com) and No. 8 in the FIFA World Ranking, a clear favorite over 20-1/No. 27 Poland. Wales vs. Belgium, Friday--Belgium, at 4-1 odds and No. 2 in the world, an even larger fave over 20-1/No. 26 Wales. Germany vs. Italy, Saturday--Germany, co-favorite at 3-1 and ranked No. 4, a narrow favorite over 13-2/No. 12 Italy in a duel of international powers -- probably the one quarterfinal I'd choose to watch if I could watch but one. France-Iceland, Sunday--France, co-fave at 3-1, ranked No. 17 and the host national team, an enormous pick over 40-1/No. 34 Cinderella Iceland.

ON THE DEATHS PAT SUMMITT, BUDDY RYAN: The legendary Tennessee women's basketball coach and former NFL coach have passed away within hours of each other, Summitt at 64 from Patsummittcomplications of Alzeimer's disease, and Ryan at 85 after battling a stroke and cancer. A few thoughts... On Summitt: Won more college basketball games, 1,098, than anybody, man or women, and led the Lady Vols to eight national championships in 38 seasons. Summitt (pictured) was a pioneer in women's sports, and an any-gender, all-sports legend in coaching. I wonder if she was ever aware that her son, Tyler, was forced to resign as Louisiana Tech women's basketball coach earlier this year over an inappropriate relationship with a player. I hope not. Her good name stands unblemished, for all time. On Ryan: The father of Bills head coach Rex Ryan, Buddy reached his coaching pinnacle as defensive coordinator for the 1985 champion Bears, but the head-coaching career that followed was less successful. He was 55-55-1, and 0-3 in the postseason. Like his son, Buddy was controversial and not entirely popular. I can tell you, for example, that Don Shula did not like him. Anyway, R.I.P., twice. A rough year for deaths, 2016, and we're only halfway through.

Poll result: Canes football, Panthers hockey lead in South Florida optimism: We asked which of South Florida's Big 5 sports teams is most like to win a championship next, and it was Hurricanes football 29.92 percent, Panthers 28.28%, Heat 19.67%, Dolphins 12.70% and Marlins 9.43%. Observations: Panthers led most of the way and had what for me is the most impressive result overall. Marlins have to be the most disappointing considering they are, as we speak, on playoff pace. We had the same poll in July 2014. Here is the change in two years, in order of plus/minus:

Team                              +/-       2016     2014

Panthers                    +25.28    28.28     3.00

Dolphins                     +4.52     12.70      8.18

Marlins                        -2.16       9.43    11.59

Canes football            -9.83     29.92    39.75

Heat                            -17.80     19.67     37.47

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

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June 27, 2016

Who's closest? Will Dolphins, Heat, Hurricanes football, Marlins or Panthers be champions next? Poll too close to call. Last day to vote!: plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your verdict on naked athletes & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 27. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Athletes getting naked poll, Cavs/Cubs/Dolfans, Dolphins helping Orlando, aggressive Panthers, Heat's Top 5 undrafted finds, Canes diving, your verdict on LeBron's future, R.I.P. Vinyl & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Monday: I co-hosted on the LeBatard Show today this week instead of Tuesday. Thanks for listening/watching!

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so great they deserved another look: Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, the new one, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. Cavs, Cubs Offer Hope For Dolfans, musing on how Cleveland's championship and season Cubs are having proves even long-starving fans get fed eventually. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's hits 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.

THE MIAMI BIG 5 TEAM MOST LIKELY TO NEXT BE CHAMPION IS...: This poll topic last appeared in our blog in July 2014. Two years later, it's time to take another pulse-read. During the Heat's Nextchamp Big5Big 3 era the answer was pretty obvious. Now? It's open to honest debate. The Heat remain competitive, but now the Marlins are legitimately in the playoff hunt, the Dolphins and Canes football are hopeful with well-received coaching changes, and you could argue the Panthers' core of rising young talent makes the Cats closest to a title of all our teams. The playing field for this question has leveled. (For the purposes of the vote, let's not assume the Heat will somehow land Kevin Durant in free agency, a longshot). The timing for this poll also is right, with baseball going on, basketball and hockey just ended, and football about to gear up. I'm not sure if there is an easy or obvious answer here, or a bad one. That is what makes picking one team tough, but that is your challenge. Your other challenge: To not make it a favorite-team or favorite-sport vote. It isn't. Not asking who you most hope has a parade next, but who you honestly think is most likely to. In other words, who your money would be on in a straight-up wager. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JUNE 26): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-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. HEAT: Durant, Whiteside in spotlight with free agency on deck for Miami: Well, Dwyane Wade posed nude in ESPN mag's Body issue. Anything else going on with the Heat? Oh, yeah. Almost forgot. Free agency starts in five days, and Heat's priorities are getting a meeting with Kevin Durant and and re-signing Hassan Whiteside. Click on Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has for my column, on how club should make Whiteside the imperative as it chases the longshot dream of Durant.

2. MARLINS: Exciting times for Fish as Cubs visit wraps up: Marlins won three of four from the Cubs, are in playoff hunt, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich should join Jose Fernandez as all-stars, Giancarlo Stanton is heating up and Ichiro nears 3,000 hits. Pretty damned good time to be a Fish fan, folks.

3. SOCCER: Copa America wraps up, Euro '16 heads to quarters: Chile upset Argentina on Sunday for Copa crown (U.S. lost third-place game Saturday), and now Euro '16 begins its quarterfinals on Thursday. England plays the last round-of-16 game Monday and should win, unless Brits vote to exit tournament. 

4. PANTHERS: Cats sign Yandle, add draft picks: Wheelin'-dealin' Florida signed all-star defenseman Keith Yandle to a seven-year, $44 million deal, traded Dmitri Kuliokov, and had the 23rd and 33rd picks early in NHL Draft, according to analyst Pierre Kiper Jr. I bet big they'd draft two white teenagers you'd never heard of. How'd I do?

5. NBA: Free agency extends busy time for league: Cleveland has a championship parade, Derrick Rose and Serge Ibaka get traded, the draft is held, and now free agency is on deck with Kevin Durant the big prize. Otherwise, a slow week for the NBA.

6. HURRICANES: UM football investigating four for NCAA infractions: Miami suspended linebacker Juwon Young and is investigating three others for possible NCAA rules violations in a deal struck with a local auto dealer to use luxury cars. On the bright side, Nevin Shapiro has the ultimate alibi (jail) and was in no way involved.

7. COLLEGE BASEBALL: Out in Omaha: UM fizzles at CWS: No. 3 seed Miami and No. 1 Florida both ingloriously were ousted fast from the College World Series. Good seasons, bad endings. The best of three final is pedigreed Arizona vs. upstart Coastal Carolina. Oh, Canes. What a missed chance!

8. TENNIS: Wimbledon begins on Monday: Wimbledon runs Monday though July 10. The favorites are Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. Or, did that go without saying?

9. JOHNNY MANZIEL: Lawyer's goof latest problem for troubled QB: Manziel's lawyer accidentally texted private information about his drug use and case strategy to the Associated Press. Who's worse, Johnny or his lawyer? At least the attorney didn't text the world's largest news-gathering agency or anything (!).

10. STRIKERS: Fort Lauderdale alive in U.S. Cup Open: Soccer's all-comers U.S. Open Cup finds the Strikers facing MLS team Orlando City up there this Wednesday. Go Bumblebees!

Missing the cut: USA basketball completed its LeBron-less Olympics roster for Rio, pending the future withdrawal of several players with Zika concerns or fake injuries ..... Congrats again to Mr. Paula Gretzky for winning last week's U.S. Open in golf ..... Anybody know when ESPN's O.J.Simpson documentary starts? Haven't heard anything about it ..... The Dolphins will be out of the news for a month or so, pending the arrest of a player at 3 a.m. outside a nightclub ..... Dear United Kingdom: You all seemed like pretty smart people, until that BREXIT vote. What were you thinking!? ..... Coral Springs' LPGA star, Lexi Thompson, 21, is No. 4 in the world and just made the Olympic team. When I was 21 my biggest accomplishment was buying the new Led Zeppelin album ..... Cycling's Tour de France begins next Saturday. Gentlemen, start your doping! ..... Ex-Miami Hurricane Sam Dorman made the Olympic team in synchronized diving, surprising analysts who had no idea there was such a sport.

Poll result: Enough, you narcissistic naked athletes!: We asked what best reflects your opinion of athletes (now including Dwyane Wade) posing nude for ESPN The Magazine's annual 'Body' issue, and a plurality of 44.7 percent voted "negative. However 30.8% voted "positive," 13.3% were undecided and 11.2% voted "depends who the athlete is."

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Twitter @gregcote