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 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...

Twitter @gregcote

May 18, 2016

Big change coming to LeBatard Show; plus will Chris Bosh ever play again for Miami Heat? New poll. Vote now!; also, it's Pat Riley season, your verdict on Heat's year & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 17. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 7 with was-season-a-success poll, Hot Button Top 10, history of Heat G7s list, your NBA favorite verdict & 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: It's Pat Riley Season!, the latest, on Heat's looming offseason move. Small Ball, Big Win, off Heat Game 6 home win. Heat is America's Underdog, on how injuries and obstacles cast Miami in an unaccustomed role.

DanshowCHANGE COMING TO LEBATARD SHOW: What we first reported exclusively in our blog here yesterday has been confirmed this morning on the air: A change coming to the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz will affect how the top-rated radio show looks on television and where you can see it. The show airs weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, with the three-hour national show also simulcast on TV. But today's/Wednesday's show be the last to air on Fusion TV (that contract is expiring) and also the last to utilize the current larger television studio and look. Beginning in June (target date is June 6 but that isn't firm), the show will be televised solely on ESPNU from the smaller radio studio previously used only for the local hour. Both studios are adjacent on the second floor of the Clevelander hotel on South Beach. The LeBatard Show show will be radio-only from Thursday until it returns to TV in the redesigned smaller studio in June.

ON CHRIS BOSH'S MURKY FUTURE WITH THE HEAT: The uncertainty and mystery took another turn late yesterday with the latest questionable and questioned report by ESPN's Brian Windhorst, Boshwho said on the Mike & Mike radio show that Miami Heat doctors may never clear Bosh to play again and that he could end up as a forced "medical retirement" on account of the issue with blood clots that has now shortened his past two seasons. Windhorst wrote a column saying, "There is a fear within the Heat organization that Bosh's condition will prevent him from ever being cleared to play by team doctors, several sources said." (Full column here). However, most local media closer to the team than Windhorst believe the Heat remains hopeful Bosh will be cleared to resume his career next season. It was just a week or so ago when Windhorst reported of friction between Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic -- something vehemently denied by all concerned in Miami. None of us can know for sure about Bosh; how can we when neither the club nor player ever seem to be certain or in agreement. Click on It's Pat Riley Season! for my latest column, in which I explore how Bosh 's uncertain future weighs on everything -- including the team's planned pursuit fo Kevin Durant in free agency this summer. We all wish the best for Bosh, of course. But what is your expectation on how the Bosh saga will turn out? Please vote in this poll how you believe it will play out, what you'd bet on, not what you hope happens.

Poll result: Unequivocally, Heat season was a success: We asked you if the Heat season just-ended was successful, and by a better than 5-1 margin you answered yes (80.9 perecent) over no (14.6%), with the other 4.5% undecided. The overwhelming positivity is all the more impressive because of the timing, with the poll first out just minutes after Sunday's Game 7 loss in Toronto.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 10, 2016

G4: Heat 94, Toronto 87: Wade rescues Miami, ties series as Heat climb uphill to become 'America's Underdog'; plus Radio Tuesday, latest Hot Button Top 10, Wade dethrones Marino & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 10. Hope you made it a happy Mother's Day! I was missing my own mother this year but so thankful for the wonderful mom of my two sons! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 3 despite Wade's 38, Marino vs. Wade poll, Tunsil channels Kooch, history of Heat OT playoff games & more. 3) Heat's Pat Riley ties for 8th in NBA executive of year voting won by Spurs' R.C. Buford. 4) ESPN announces Sean McDonough will replace Mike Tirico in its  Monday Night Football booth. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

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

We'll have a brand new blogpost coming later today, post radio show. A college professor once insisted to me "brand new" was redundant. I never learn. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Be Careful What You Wish For, the latest, from last night's Heat Game 4 home win. Wade: A Little Help, Please?, off the Game 3 home loss. Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend.

G4: HEAT 94, TORONTO 87 (OT): WADE'S 30 CARRIES MIAMI TO 2-2 SERIES TIE AS HEAT BECOME AMERICA'S UNDERDOG: One-man-show Dwyane Wade hit 30 points as Miami escaped at home last night to tie this series 2-2 as it heads back to Toronto for Game 5 Wednesday night. Raptors still own the home-court edge and Heat must find a way to win at least one of two games in Toronto to advance and earn the dubious right to face a rested, hot LeBron and Cleveland in the next round. Be careful what you wish for, Miami. Click on Be Careful What You Wish For for my column from the Game 4 victory. What do I mean by "America's Underdogs"? Miami, already without Chris Bosh, loses Hassan Whiteside to a knee injury. They remain underdogs to survive Toronto. They would then be monumental underdogs vs. Cleveland. They would then be even greater longshots vs. (presumably) Golden State. The Miami Heat: America's Underdogs! ..... Original post: Canadian fans  are upset that Dwyane Wade kept into his warmup routine before Game 3 and was still taking shots during the start of O Canada. Heat fans are thinking, "If it helps him score 38 again, he can shoot through both national anthems." Of course
Heatrapsg4the fact Miami lost despite his 38 is why the home team is under the pressure it is tonight, trailing 2-1 in the series. Another loss would put Miami in the awful position of needing to win three G4straight games, two of them in Toronto. Even a win to level the series leaves the Heat still needing to figure a way to win one up in We The North territory. Both teams are now scrambling to replace their big men, with Miami's Hassan Whiteside (knee) officially "day to day" but ruled out for tonight and Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) out the rest of the series. Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri called the latter a "big, big, big, big, big blow for us." That's five bigs. Heat playing sans Whiteside is comparably big. Which coach and roster adjust best moving forward should be the team that takes the series and advances to meet a very rested LeBron James in the Eastern finals. Said Wade on Sunday: "It isn't always about who's the best team. It's about who's the healthiest team. It'll be a different game for us with Hassan out, but we have to figure out a game that's successful for us." I'd expect veteran Udonis Haslem to get most of Whiteside's minutes, with help from Josh McRoberts and Amar'e Stoudemire. The erasure of the two starting centers could be a bigger blow to the Raptors, as Valanciunas had generally outplayed Whiteside in this series, with a double-double in all three games. Toronto has been plus-41 (in scoring) with Valanciunas on the floor in the series; Miami has been plus-39 when he is on the bench. The Whiteside factor has been closer to negligible in terms of +/-, with Miami minus-7 with him in the game and plus-5 without him.

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. HEAT: Wade the hero again as Miami wins Game 4, ties series: Dwyane Wade scores 30 points last night one game after scoring 38, and all at once Miami is tied 2-2 as the series heads back to Toronto for Game 5 Wednesday night. With Bosh already out, Hassan Whiteside now out, too, and Miami still the underdog againt Toronto, facing longer odds vs. Cleveland, then an impossible longshot vs. (likely) Golden State, the Heat has become America's Underdog. (Click on Be Careful What You Wish For for my column off the Game 4 overtime home win).

2. MARLINS: Hot Fish back on winning track as homestand continues: Marlins have now won 12 of their past 15 games after beating Milwaukee last night behind Jose Fernandez as nine-game homestand continues with two more vs. Brewers. Much more of this winning and contending and Jeffrey Loria may have little choice but to open the wallet and bolster the roster, especially the starting rotation. Two words: Tim Lincecum.

3. DOLPHINS: Fins re-sign Wake, conclude unusual rookie mini-camp on Sunday: Team signed Cam Wake to a two-year, $15 million extension. Meanwhile, Miami wrapped up a three-day rookie mini-camp. It was classroom stuff only, no uniforms or practices. So we’ll have to wait awhile longer to see No. 1 draft pick Laremy Tunsil behind a gas mask. Oops. Sorry! Freudian slip. I meant a facemask.

4. HORSE RACING: Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby as gates open on Triple Crown season: Nyquist showed why he was the betting favorite in Saturday’s 142nd Kentucky Derby. Still, most thoroughbred experts predict we likely won’t be seeing an end this year to the Triple Crown drought stretching all the way back to 2015.

5. NBA: LeBron's Cavs are first team through to conference finals: Cleveland completed a 4-0 sweep of the Hawks in Atlanta Sunday to become the first team through to the conference finals, with every other series competitive. Doubt him or not, LeBron is still LeBron. And now rested, too.

6. PANTHERS: Cats out of playoffs but still in news with Jagr, coach: As playoffs continued sans Florida -- Tampa Bay on Sunday became first team through to conference finals -- Panthers’ Gerard Gallant was named a coach of year finalist and Cats re-signed Jaromir Jagr for another year. I don’t wanna say Jagr is old, but he skied as an NHL rookie because ice hadn’t been invented yet.

7. DON SHULA: Coaching legend hospitalized but released: When you're 86, any health issue can be worrisome. It is reasonable more than macabre to wonder if Shula will live to see his Dolphins in another Super Bowl. That's reality, the tenuous state of the franchise.

8. SOCCER: Beckham stadium talks with Miami-Dade hit a snag: Took forever to find a site and settle on what was not his preference. Now there are more delays. I am beginning to wonder if David Beckham, 41, will ever live to see his dream of Major League Soccer in Miami come to fruition.

9. HURRICANES: Richt rallies the troops at fan meetings: New Canes football coach Mark Richt has been speaking to Hurricane Club rallies. At one he mentioned he wasn't big on players' demonstrative "swagger," saying, "If you want to dance, go to the club." Cannot confirm he quickly added: "But while you're at the club, don't drink, get in trouble or stay out too late!"

10. DION JORDAN: Dolphins draft bust seeks comeback: You could argue Miami trading up to third overall for Jordan in 2013 was among worst draft decisions in club history. With that in mind, I Googled the phrase "vested interest" and saw that Jordan's agent and trainer were predicting he'd be NFL comeback player of the year this season.

Missing the cut: Leicester City won the first EPL championship in its history against 5,000-to-1 odds. Coincidentally, those were the same odds against the Dolphins' No. 1 selection being pictured draft-night wearing a bong gas mask ..... Marlins' May 30-31 games vs. Pirates will not be played Puerto Rico as scheduled because of threat of Zika virus there. Instead the games will be played at Marlins Park, because of course we have no mosquitos in South Florida (!) ..... Phoenix Coyotes made John Chayka, 26, the youngest GM in NHL history. Chayka immediately traded a future first-round draft pick for four killer tickets to Pearl Jam ..... Canelo Alvarez beat Amir Khan in Vegas and I can't even fake interest ..... Yes, Pablo Sandoval played only three games for the Red Sox and was 0-for-6 before season-ending surgery. However, in that short time he did lead all AL batters in second helpings ..... Joe Paterno reportedly knew as early as the 1970s of Jerry Sandusky's pedophilia. R.I.P., Joe Pa. (Rest In Pieces).

Poll result: Wade dethrones Marino: It had to happen eventually. We asked who had the greater career for Miami, and it was the Heat's Dwyane Wade soundly defeating the Dolphin's Dan Marino by 49.8 percent to 37.6%. Another 10.6% voted "can't decide or too close to call," while 2.0% voted "someone else."

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 04, 2016

G1: Heat 102, @ Toronto 96: Reasons Miami is better, will advance; plus LeBron wants Heat next, Bosh ruled out, new Dolphins SB odds, Mavis Staples, 'Back In My Day,' could've-beens, Marlins odds, your verdict on Heat-Raptors & more

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

Dolgasmask1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 5. Watch for a brand new blog posting here later this morning. 2) Sorry Dolfans but a Laremy Tunsil-styled Dolphins logo incorporating a bong gas mask is too funny to not pass along. Tunsil's career may outgrow that infamous draft-night photo, but not soon. Example: This FunnyorDie.com spoof skewers Tunsil. (Warning: Rough language). 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Metrics give Heat 1 in 3 series shot vs. Toronto but I like Miami with poll, Kiper/McShay final thoughts on Dolphins draft, your verdict on Fins draft & more. 4) Click here for my latest Back In My Day. Comes late in podcast, around 1:07 mark. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

SHULA: A RENEWED APPRECIATION: A health scare that hospitalized Don Shula this week at age 86 invites us to reflect and renew our appreciation for the great longtime former Dolphins coach. Click on Shula: A Renewed Appreciation to read my latest column in full.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, my latest, previewing the Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory. Curious Pick, Major Gamble, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick.

Bosh out rest of playoffs: Heat and Chris Bosh releaseed this joint statement late this afternoon: "The Miami Heat  and Chris Bosh announce that Chris will not be playing in the remainder of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. The Heat, Chris, the doctors and medical team have been working together throughout this process and will continue to do so to return Chris to playing basketball as soon as possible." No surprise but need to be said given the recent distraction of #BringBoshBack and the NBA Players Association involvement.

LeBron admits he wants Wade, Heat next: Said LeBron James following a Cavs shootaround today, on whether he has thought about facing the Heat in the Eastern finals: "Naturally, of course. That's since I've came back [to Cleveland from Miami]. It'd be great to play against those guys in the postseason. Throughout my whole career, I've always wanted to go against [Dwyane] Wade in a playoff series. We've always talked about it even before we became teammates in '10. It's not been heavy on my mind, but it's crossed my mind throughout my whole career."

Dolphins latest odds: Still no love: No love for Fins in post-draft Super Bowl odds via Bovada today. Miami is 66-1, same as pre-free agency and last in AFC East. Patriots are 7-1 (first overall), Jets 40-1, Bills 50-1. And no Laremy Tunsil among top 10 picks for offensive rookie.

Marlins latest odds: New World Series odds out via Bovada show Marlins the same 50-1 as coming into season despite recent hot streak. One problem? Three favorites to win it all are NL clubs, with Cubs on top at 5-1 and Mets/Nationals (both in Marlins' division) both 10-1. Jose Fernandez is 16-1 for Cy Young (tie, eighth), but Giancarlo Stanton (8 homers) isn't among 14 players listed 20-1 or better for MVP.

G1: HEAT 102, @ TORONTO 96: WE SAW WHY MIAMI IS BETTER TEAM, WILL WIN SERIES: If it's seven games of this, can the heart take it? Miami squandered a late 79-67 lead, went into overtime on Kyle Lowry's desperation half-court 3 at the buzzer, but then prevailed in OT 102-96 last night, fueled by two field goals and a steal by (who else) Dwyane Wade. Reasons Miami is better and will win series: 1) Wade had 24 points and Goran Dragic 26 last night on combined 20-for-41 shooting, seriously outplaying TOR counterparts DeMar DeRozan and Lowry. Lowry, despite the prayer that forced OT, has been awful in the playoffs, shooting 30.6 percent including 3-for-13 last night. That's the worst postseason percentage by any NBA player in a half century, according to Elias Sports Bureau. 2) Miami also hit big with a 52-41 rebounding advantage in Game 1 led by Hassan Whiteside's 17 boards, and that edge should continue. 3) Heat have the perimeter defenders, with Tyler Johnson back and with Rook 1 and Rook 2, to bother the Raptors' game. 4) Erik Spoelstra is a better coach than Dwane Casey. (And by the way, Dwane, our Dwyane is the only one who gets to misspell Dwayne). In sum, a gigantic road win to open the series entering Game 2 Thursday night back in Toronto. ..... Original post: Both teams are coming off watershed series. Toronto is past the first round of the playoffs for only the second time in 21 franchise seasons and the first since 2001. Miami (after missing the playoffs altogether last year) just won its first postseason series since 2006 not involving a man named LeBron James. So the
Heatraptorsquestion now: Who isn't satisfied? Who is hungrier for more? This is the closest of the four conference semifinal series in terms of betting odds and G1the toughest call entering Game 1 tonight at 8 in Toronto. The Raptors understandably are favored, with the better season record, a 3-1 series edge and home-court advantage. But you get the feeling -- by which I mean I get the feeling -- the Raptors are closer to happy-just-to-be-here mode, whereas the Heat are hell-bent-driven for an Eastern finals showdown with LeBron and the Cavs. More pragmatically, I think Miami is a bit deeper, has a tad more offensive pop and enjoys the clear edge in playoff experience. Certainly the Heat come in off a more comfortable Game 7 showing in the last series. Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan may get his points -- he scored 30, 33 and 38 in the Raptors' three season wins over Miami -- but fellow guard Kyle Lowery is lessened by a tender elbow, which could hurt Toronto. The Heat have more go-to options offensively, and one of them, Hassan Whiteside, may be poised for a big series in a favorable matchup if he can stay out of foul trouble. Other key questions: Will we see the vintage Dwyane Wade of old, or the old Wade. Can Goran Dragic consistently be the difference-maker who poured in 25 points in Game 7? Might Joe Johnson be the force he was in helping Brooklyn eliminate Toronto two years ago? Lots of compelling storylines here -- even with Chris Bosh still out and not facing his longtime former team. Miami will need to at least split these two games in Toronto to win the right to come home feeling good about its chances. And tonight might be the night to cherry-pick that road win, with Toronto on a 1-8 in playoff series openers. My series pick: Heat in 6. (Click on Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals for latest column).

1 EX-DOLPHIN. 1 FORMER HEAT PLAYER (THOUGH BOTH BARELY) MAKE LIST YOU DON'T WANT TO BE ON: ESPN unveils a dubious Top 25 all-time athletes in unfulfilled potential -- the "Could-Have-Beens." Click here for the full list. Two with South Florida ties (albeit brief ones) make it. At No. 14 is running back Lawrence Phillips, who appeared in two Dolphins games in 1997, rushing 18 times for 44 yards. And at No. 1 is center Greg Oden, who played in 23 Heat games in 2013-14, averaging 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.

MAVIS STAPLES, AMERICAN TREASURE, PERFORMS TONIGHT IN BROWARD: Mavis Staples performs tonight/Wednesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, opening for venerable gospel legends The Blind Boys of Alabama. They could as well have been the opening act for her, such is her stature in music and the phenomenal career renaissance she is enjoying at age 76. I am an unabashed admirer and fan who has followed her career since first becoming familiar with her family group the Staple Singers in the '70s. In fact I write a Twitter fan site for her; click on MavisstaplesMavis_Staples for my tribute site, and on MavisStaples for her official site. I first knew of Mavis as the lead singer for the family group that enjoyed several years of chart popularity with songs such as "I'll Take You There," "Respect Yourself" and "If You're Ready." The music intrigued me partly because I couldn't easily categorize it. It was gospel-flavored pop but with also parts R&B (what they used to call soul music) and funk. There was a grit to it. To my ears, the Detroit sound of Motown always seemed like music recorded in an air-conditioned studio, while the less-polished sound of Memphis and Stax Records (the Staples' label) seemed as if it were recorded in a club, with sweat involved. I only learned later that the Staple Singers were first a gospel group singing in Chicago churches and producing standards such as "Uncloudy Day," long before the mainstream success. The group also was intimately involved in the civil rights movement; group leader Roebuck "Pops" Staples and Martin Luther King were close friends. Pops famously told his family, "If he [King] can preach it, we can sing it," and the result were civil-rights anthems such as "Freedom Highway." The video below is a funk-filled, bass-line-driven song about segregationist days called "Down In Mississippi." Mavis Staples is living history. The decades of diverse music -- from gospel roots to socially conscious music to mainstream success -- led the Staple Singers to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. The Staple Singers were finished by the mid-'80s, Pops passed away in 2000. But Mavis was far from done. She was rediscovered by Prince, a fan, and appeared prominently on his 1990 album, Graffiti Bridge. More recently she won a 2011 Grammy for Best Americana Recording with a solo album, You Are Not Alone, produced by Jeff Tweedy of the group Wilco. He also produced her well-received 2013 followup album, One True Vine. A new album, Livin' On a High Note, features performances by Nick Cave, Neko Case and others. A new documentary film, "Mavis!" premiered Feb. 29 on HBO. She will open on tour for Bob Dylan starting in June. Crossing genres and appealing to all audiences, young and old, has marked her career resurgence. She has played jazz fests and folk festivals, appealing to all. Just last week, she played at the youth-skewed Coachella festival, and spoke a moving tribute to Prince, whom she called "my son." Mavis Staples' concerts are intimate, moving and uplifting. She aims to spread joy, and succeeds. If you have not discovered her music, it isn't too late. If you have never seen her live in concert, do treat yourself Wednesday night.

Click on Broward Center for ticket information about Mavis' Wednesday, May 4 show with The Blind Boys of Alabama.

 

Poll result: Heat will win Raptors series, say 73 percent: We asked the likelihold Miami would advance past Toronto in the series starting tonight and it was 28.8 percent voting 60%-plus, 44.6% voting 50-59%, 15.1% voting 40-49% and 11.5% voting 40% or less. That's 73.4% voting over 50% likelihood vs. 26.6% under. 

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April 28, 2016

The Chris Bosh Conundrum: Who's right? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat on brink of playoff elimination, Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft (with Dolphins' surprise at 13) & more

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

Meshow1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 28. Thanks again to ESPN Radio for re-branding their national show to better reflect my impact every Tuesday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hornets tie Heat series 2-2 with will-Miami-advance poll, court favors Dolphins in Brady ruling, how Panthers fans should feel after elimination, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack, the latest, off last night's Game 5 loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on Miami's best-case scenario for its No. 1 draft pick. Calling Jaromir Jagr, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals as it entered Game 6.

BoshTHE CHRIS BOSH CONUNDRUM: WHO'S RIGHT?: A good deal of my column off last night's Heat Game 5 home loss (click here) is on sidelined Chris Bosh foisting himself suddenly into playoffs with his (and his wife's) #BringBoshBack social-media effort that has caught Heat management off guard. Bottom line: Bosh, out since Feb. 9 with a recurrence of his blood clot issues, has been cleared to play by a personal doctor and says he is ready now, while the club doctors have not yet cleared him. Curious what Heat fans think. Hence, this poll! Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results. Vote soon, though. We'll call a winner in a couple of hours as we pivot to a new blogpost on tonight's NFL Draft.

G5: CHARLOTTE 90, HEAT 88: CRUCIAL HOME LOSS HAS MIAMI DOWN 3-2, FACING ELIMINATION: Dwyane Wade's 25 points weren't enough Wednesday night in a 90-88 Heat home loss -- the third straight Miami loss in this first-round series. Charlotte regained its 3-point touch with a dozen 3's including the go-ahead points by Courtney Lee with 25 second left. Click on Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack for my column from last night's game. ..... Original post: With both teams 2-0 at home in this series, the onus is on Miami tonight at 8 to again protect its home court by the bay. Clearly, the loser of this game will be in trouble in the series with Game 6 back up in Charlotte. Miami has shot 58 percent in two home wins vs. only 36 percent in two road Heathornetslosses. The Hornets are expected to have Nic Batum back available tonight from an ankle sprain but otherwise may be at a disadvantage, at least historically. The G5Heat are 13-2 in their past 15 playoff home games, the only losses both to San Antonio in the 2014 Finals. And Miami is on a 19-2 run vs. Charlotte in the 305. The Hornets have not won a road playoff game, anywhere, since 2002, losing nine in a row in the meantime. For those streaks to continue Miami will need much better defense in the paint tonight against the slashing runs of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, who combined for 55 points in Game 4. Hassan Whiteside needs to raise his game. Also expect a bounce-back night from Dwyane Wade. Watch out, though, if Charlotte finds its touch on 3-point shots. Hornets were fourth in league in 3's during the season but have clanked in only 23.9 percent in the first round. Fouls also may be a factor tonight. CHA has taken 122 free throws to MIA's 94 through four games. "We've probably fouled more in these four games than we have in the last four weeks," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Give them credit. They're aggressive." Meantime the post-LeBron, no-Bosh Heat still have some drawing power as a TV attraction, apparently. NBA TV's coverage of Heat-Hornets Game 4 drew 662,000 viewers, the network's most-seen playoff telecast since 2014. Its four-game playoffs average this month is 471,000 viewers.

25TH ANNUAL OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD MOCK DRAFT: SURPRISE! DOLPHINS SELECT HOUSTON CB WILLIAM JACKSON IN FIRST ROUND: Our 2016 NFL Mock Draft is now online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions, including Super Bonus Draft Facts as always. Click on Mockin' It '16 to read the entire first-round mock draft it in full. We cut to the chase here with our synopsis on Miami's pick:

William jackson13. MIAMI DOLPHINS: WILLIAM JACKSON, CB, HOUSTON — I sort of doubt Miami will stay at 13. I can see them trying to trade up into the 7-8 range to select the RB Ezekiel Elliott — a bold move of the headline-grabbing type that is part of the Mike Tannenbaum canon. But I also can see them anticlimactically trading down because, after Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves no DB is worth this high a pick and likely could be gotten lower. That includes Jackson (pictured) or Ohio State’s Eli Apple, both of whom might be labeled a “reach” taken this high. If the Fins do stay at 13, though — and assuming Elliott, Myles Jack and Hargreaves are all off the board – then grabbing the best available corner here would make sense as an urgent need. Apple may well be rated slightly higher by Miami and might be a safer mock pick for me here. But Jackson is older, more mature and more ready now than the riskier Apple. Jackson looks a safer bet for the Dolphins, and Miami cannot afford a first-round misfire.

GREG COTE'S 2016 NFL DRAFT VIDEO: Today I am holed up hammering out my 25th annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft. The first-round prognostications should be online this afternoon before shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Meantime click below (or on Mock 'n Roll) for my NFL Draft preview video:

 
TWO THOUGHTS ON DOLPHINS' VETERAN MINICAMP: Today is Day 2 of Miami's three-day voluntary veterans minicamp, and the news thus far is that four defensive players -- Reshad Jones, ReshadjonesNdamukong Suh, Mario Williams and Koa Misi --were absent from Day 1 practice. It was known Williams (personal issues) and Misi (illness) would be missing, but the absences of Jones (pictured) and Suh -- arguably the defense's two best players -- were unexcused and notable. Two thoughts: 1) It's a VOLUNTARY minicamp. And it's APRIL. You can't call something voluntary and then be mad not everyone volunteers. Jones is pouting and holding his breath for a new contract. Suh has done pretty well for himself preparing for seasons how he sees fit. If they're still AWOL when mandatory minicamps begin in June, then we have an issue. 2) There is, however, something noble in the concept of "leading by example." Jones is the highest-paid strong safety in the NFL at $28 million over four years, yet wants more. Suh is making a whopping $114 million over six years. For that kind of money, though it isn't mandatory, it sure would be nice if they "volunteered" to be with their teammates.   
 
Poll result: Optimism for Heat advance, but also doubts: We asked what you think is the likelihood the Miami Heat (series tied 2-2 entering tonight) will advance past the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, and results were wildly mixed. A plurality of 25.6 percent said 80% or better, 17.4% said 70-79% and 20.3% said 60-69%. But more than one-third of all voters said only 50-59% (19.8%) or less than 50% (16.9%).
 
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April 12, 2016

Micky Arison in the crosshairs on Carnival cruises to Cuba: New poll. Vote now!; plus Ronda Rousey loves Dolphins, Heat and Panthers parlay similar blueprint to playoffs, Cats' Stanley Cup odds, Donald Trump porn parody & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 12. Ronda Rousey praises Dolphins. Click here for the video. 2) Thanks to all the listeners, viewers and Tweeters who liked our "Back In My Day" on today's LeBatard Show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, The List (Dolphins), your verdicts on LeBron/Tiger & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

Panthers' Stanley Cups odds: Out today via Bovada, Florida is tied for eighth at 16-1 odds, better than opponent Islanders' 25-1. Capitals are favorites at 4-1, followed by a knot of five teams at 8-1. Cats Roberto Luongo (30-1) and Jaromir Jagr (35-1) are team's most plausible betting longshots for playoffs MVP. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint, the latest, on two teams' similar philosophy. Now the Proving Begins, as Panthers end regular season and face playoffs. Out Of Excusesoff Marlins Opening Night.

HEAT OWNER ARISON IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF CARNIVAL, CUBA AND POLITICS: Micky Arison's net worth is $7.7 billion, although it may have risen to $8 billion while you were reading this sentence. He is chairman of Doral-based Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest. He also is principle owner of the Miami Heat. As such, his two primary interests and business ventures put Arisonhim in the crosshairs of the latest news regarding his cruiseships, Cuba and politics. We first tackled this subject in the blog last July when Carnival first won Carnivalapproval to begin cruises to Cuba. For Arison (pictured) and Carnival it could be great for business. But many South Florida Cubans who fled that island's Castro tyranny (and many of those are Heat fans) are angry over normalized U.S.-Cuba relations and also about Carnival ships docking there. We ran a poll here last July asking if Carnival planning trips to Cuba negatively impacts how you view Arison, and it was 79.9 percent "no" vs. only 16.8% "yes" and 3.3% "undecided. But I wonder if the view has changed now that the Carnival-Cuba startup is soon -- first ships are set to head south in May -- and now that we know this disturbing detail: the still-oppressive Cuban government controls what passengers may be aboard the cruiseships, and they do not include Cuban-born people, which of course includes Cuban exiles living in and around Miami. Carnival has asked the Cuban government to relent on that policy, but, if Carnival wishes to do business in Cuba, it has no choice but to agree to that one huge restriction, even though it is plain discrimination, of course. Imagine Carnival traveling to a country that insisted only white people be aboard the ship? Or banned Muslims? As I wrote last July, I am in favor of normalized U.S.-Cuba relations, which I think ultimately will benefit the Cuban economy and people. But clearly it is wrong for the Cuban government to not allow folks born in Cuba and exiles in Miami to be aboard those Carnival ships, as we discussed on yesterday's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Dan was particularly passionate on the topic. And there protesters outside Carnival headquarters Tuesday. So, nine months after our first poll, let's repeat the question and compare the vote. Check back often to monitor evolving results.

TWO TEAMS, SIMILAR BLUEPRINT AS HEAT, PANTHERS FORGE PLAYOFF PATH: [Panthers Sasha Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, pictured left, and the Heat's Justise Winslow and Dwyane Wade, right, personify each team's winning blend of experience and youth -- the blueprint that carries each to the playoffs. Click on Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint for the online version of the my latest column] Appreciate the rarity of this first. The Miami Heat and Florida Panthers are about to both enter the playoffs in the same season for only the fifth time since 1993, when hockey joined basketball down here. And South Florida is one of only five markets to have both its teams reach the 2016 postseason, along with Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and Oakland/San Jose. Even more notable is the similar blueprint the Heat and Panthers have shared to find success, with rosters that blend wise and wizened veterans and raw youth. For the Heat it’s a blueprint that is very different from the company norm, showcasing an unusual reliance on young players by a franchise that, from Pat Barkov Wade WinslowRiley on down, Jagrhas never quite trusted youth. For the Cats it’s a blueprint taken to extremes, bookended by 44-year-old leading scorer Jaromir Jagr and by 10 players not even born when Jagr first entered the NHL, such as rising stars Sasha Barkov, 20, and Aaron Ekblad, 19. Both teams’ uncommonly wide gulf between its oldest and youngest players was reflected perfectly Monday in the Panthers’ dressing room following a midday practice. Nick Bjugstad, the Cats center, is 23 but looks even younger. His hand kept drifting absent-mindedly to his chin and rubbing what was there, which isn’t much. He is trying, the poor kid. The NHL postseason is upon us, the fight for the Stanley Cup beginning, and in hockey, the playoff beard is a near-sacred tradition. A wisp of blond whiskers trying bravely to be a goatee and an even wispier sprout on his alabaster cheeks is all Bjugstad can claim for now. "I keep playing with it – it’s more than I’ve ever had!' he is saying after Monday’s midday practice. "It is what it is. But it’s kind of embarrassing." Elsewhere around the dressing room manly playoff beards are in full bloom. It looks like a casting call for a movie about lumberjacks. A media guy trying to be kind tells Bjugstad most of the full-bearded guys probably started growing their facial hair at least a month ago. "So did I," Nick had to admit. The beard thing is the perfect reflection of what the Panthers see when they look in the mirror: A blend of age and youth, of over-35 veterans like Jagr, Roberto Luongo, Brian Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Willie Mitchell, offset by what is perhaps hockey’s premier core of players under 25. It was a risk that relies on aging players still having enough prime left and youthful guys proving ready. It was a chemistry experiment that has worked but might have blown up in the lab. "Our older guys have been so willing," as general manager Dale Tallon told me Monday. "It could have been a disaster." From the 45-minute jaunt from Sunrise down to Miami, from ice to hardwood, Heat veterans like Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and (even sidelined) Chris Bosh similarly mentor a youthful core led by rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, by second-year man Tyler Johnson and by Hassan Whiteside, who is 26 but still learning. "I’m just passing down knowledge," Wade describes the role that doesn’t show up on stat sheets. "All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped." It is a good time to be a fan of both teams, with each franchise locked in win-now mode but also boasting a blossoming young core that suggests a bridge to a promising future beyond the Hall of Fame-bound old guard led by Jagr and Wade. Both teams share justifiably high playoff hopes as the Panthers face the New York Islanders in the first round with Game 1 here Thursday night, while the Heat enter their final two regular-season games still unsure of their seeding, who’ll they’ll face or whether they’ll have home-court advantage. You’d think the Heat might be in happy-to-be-here mode, after missing the playoffs last year and with Bosh out. Yet there is the sense of a wide-open Eastern Conference, and of a real chance to reach the East finals, maybe head-to-head vs. old friend LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. You’d think the Panthers might really be in happy-to-be here mode. They last made the playoffs in 2012 and last won a playoff series in Year of the Rat 1996. Tallon and coach Gerard Gallant both admitted Monday they did not expect to win a division title this year. But hockey’s Eastern Conference also is wide open. An ESPN experts panel by a 9-0 vote picked the Panthers to advance past the Islanders. Washington was the only East team with an appreciably better record than Florida this season, but the Cats were 2-1 against the Capitals, outscoring them 10-5. The idea of a championship run by either the Panthers or especially the Heat is fanciful and not being discussed much in any sober conversation, but, in only their fifth playoffs at the same time, the idea of either team or both reaching their conference finals is tantalizingly plausible. And who knows? If that happens, by then, Nick Bjugstad’s patchwork of whiskers might even pass for a decent beard.

ThedonaldPERFECT! A DONALD TRUMP PORN PARODY!: How great and absolutely fantastic and terrific is this!? I'm so happy I feel like building a giant wall! Just when you think Larry Flynt might be dead, the Hustler impresario rises to produce something fun, like "The Donald," his new Donald Trump "porn parody" video. The photo at right surely whets your appetite and suggests the cinematic gravitas at play here. Click on Trump Porn Parody to read more. The video goes on sale to the public today/Tuesday, available to everyone including Muslims and Mexicans. Trump is the perfect target. I mean, who is more cocksure? Don't worry. Cocksure is a real word, not a dirty word, and describes Trump quite spot-on.

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

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April 01, 2016

NCAA Final Four polls: Who will win? And who do you hope does? Vote now!; plus what Dwyane-Kobe rivalry always lacked, Marlins individual betting odds, Trump hires lawyer he "fired" on TV, your verdict on Arian Foster & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, APRL 1. Happy new month, all! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins and Arian Foster poll, Miami Open casualties & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

COTE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: I'll be retiring from the Miami Herald and from ESPN Radio, effectively immediately. April Fools!! "Damn," said South Florida in unison. "Thought we finally got rid of him!"  

FinalfourWHICH NCAA FINAL FOUR MEN'S TEAM WILL WIN? AND WHICH DO YOU WANT TO WIN?: Here are two polls, both with the Final Four teams listed alphabetically, but each asking a very different question. One is "Who do do you think will win?" This is your head answering. It's who you'd bet on if given 100 bucks to place on just one straight-up team to win it all. The other poll is asking "Who do you hope wins?" Your heart answers this one. Whether based on what's left of your bracket or other factors, what team has earned your rooting interest? Vote in both polls and we'll be interested to see how the results might differ.

IT WAS DWYANE VS. KOBE FOR FINAL TIME, BUT HERE'S WHAT FRIENDSHIP AND RIVALRY ALWAYS LACKED: [Update: Wade popped 26 points Wednesday night and Kobe scored only two in nine minutes in a 102-100 overtime loss by Heat in L.A. Bad loss as Miami squanders chance to take over third place in East] Original post: Kobe Bryant was questionable to play with a tender right shoulder Dwyanekobetonight as the absymal Lakers host the Heat. And Dwyane Wade had said that if Kobe didn't play, "Then I'm not playing either." So a highly anticipated matchup could have ended up a letdown. Instead the two future Hall of Famers played their 20th and last head-to-head meeting as Bryant is retiring after this season. That's a fair sample size, the equal of a quarter of a season, and we see in the comparative stats that the rivalry has tended to bring out the best in each other. Bryant averages 27.3 points and Wade 24.2 when they face each other, above the career averages for each. Kobe's high game in the series is 42 points (Christmas Day 2004) and Wade's is 40 (Christmas '06). The two also have faced off in All-Star games and played as USA Olympic teammates in a long friendship. But one thing is glaringly missing. Here is why Dwyane-Kobe is a far cry from Magic-Bird in terms of all-time NBA personal rivalries: Despite Heat-Lakers meriting the Christmas Day spotlight four times, Wade and Bryant have never met in the playoffs. Not once. Eight different seasons have found Heat and Lakers in the playoffs at the same time, but never have the teams intersected in the Wade-Bryant era. And no personal rivalry is full-fledged in this sport without championship implications or at least postseason stakes.

MARLINS INDIVIDUAL BETTING ODDS: Via Bovada today, Giancarlo Stanton's projected regular-season final numbers are a .280 average, 39.5 home runs and 105.5 RBIs. The HR figure is tied for the MLB high with Bryce Harper. Other select Marlins betting over/unders: Jose Fernandez 13.5 wins, 199.5 strikeouts, 2.75 ERA; Wei-Yin Chen 11.5 wins, 3.49 ERA; A.J. Ramos 30.5 saves; Dee Gordon .295 average, 50.5 steals; Justin Bour 23.5 homers; and Christian Yelich .290 average.

FUN FACT ABOUT TRUMP LAWYER IN CAMPAIGN-MANAGER SCANDAL: You know that Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been arrested for misdemeanor battery for his Bradcohenhandling of a treatment of a reporter, Michelle Fields, at a March 8 news conference at Trump National Golf Club in Palm Beach. And you may have heard Lewandowski's attorney, Brad Cohen, speaking on the NBC's Today show on Wednesday; click here for the story and video. Now, what you may not know: Bradford (Brad) Cohen, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, is the same Bradford Cohen who Trump "fired" early in the 2004 season of his TV show The Apprentice, forerunner of the later Celebrity Apprentice. Local attorneys who know Cohen tell me he delighted in the fleeting fame of his brief TV role and loved that Trump would refer to him on-air as "The Bradford." Trump called Cohen "stupid" in dismissing him. Twelve years later, Cohen (pictured), now 44, is smart enough to be one of the point-men Trump has brought in to help defuse the mini-scandal dogging his Republican presidential run.

LEBATARD SHOW INTENTIONALLY ABORTS 'BACK IN MY DAY' EPISODE: Tuesday the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz intentionally cut off the end of my very popular "Back In My Day" segment, a staple of my Tuesday in-studio co-host gig. I believe Dan purposely delayed the start of it and then attempted to distract and delay me throughout, evidently thinking it was better to have me miss the hard network out than to finish my piece. He quickly apologized on-air, and later off-air, but it's in my craw a day later to the degree I don't mind milking it for a blog item. Click here for yesterday's show podcast; BIMD starts around the 52:45 mark. #LeBaFraud #Disrespect. Of course I'm kidding. Probably.

Poll result: Dolfans unimpressed by interest in Arian Foster: I was not impressed; as told in this column. For me Arian Foster is an aging, damaged-goods running back, the one position that best exemplifies the Dolphins' offseason struggles in free agency. Well, y'all agreed. We asked how you felt about the Dolphins' interest in the free agent Foster, and by a better than 5-to-1 margin you said "skeptical/past prime" (72.9 percent) over "good/plenty left" (13.9%). The other 13.2% were undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 26, 2016

Hurricanes out in Sweet 16: How successful was season? Poll. Vote now!; plus my updated bracket, Serena Williams, Miami Open tennis vs. Doral golf poll, LeBron's weird dream, McShay's latest Fins mock, your Brightest Future winner (tight!) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 26. Did you make it a good Good Friday, Christians? 2) Happy 69th birthday today to Elton John, one of my musical and cultural heroes. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bright Futures 25&U poll, Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena backs Miami Open, Dolphins on the cheap, your Obama-Cuba verdict, Melania Trump ad & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Serena and the Miami Open: The Miami Open on Key Biscayne helped raise Serena Williams, and vice versa. That symbiosis is the theme of my latest column. Click on Serena and the Miami Open to read it. 

End of the bracket for me: SliceMiami.com was down to its Final Four in the Media bracket and I made it, but lost in my semifinal to the 'Gotz Army of my 790 The Ticket/ESPN Radio colleague, Stugotz. He's now in the Media final and crushing rival station WQAM's Marc Hochman. Oh my. Juggernaut.

McShay's mock picks for Dolphins, UM: ESPN's Todd McShay's mock draft 4.0 has Fins picking Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott 13th overall and Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah in second round, 42nd overall. Only Miami Hurricane in the first two rounds: CB Artie Burns, 45th overall to Rams.

MARCH MADNESS: RUN IS DONE FOR HURRICANES; UM ELIMINATED IN SWEET 16: Miami was swamped 92-69 by Villanova in the NCAA Sweet 16 in Louisville. That's makes it three Canessweet16Sweet 16s for UM but still no Elite Eight. Sheldon McClellan did his part with 26 points tonight but got too little help. The story, though, was Miami not containing a really effective 'Nova attack. Villanova shot 62.7 percent from the field including 10-for-15 on 3's, plus 18 of 19 on free throws. Seems like they never missed. I'd foreseen it in my preview here, writing, "Mostly the matchup figures as how the Canes' defense fares in limiting 'Nova's big-time offense, which has averaged 82 points over the past month and has shot 58.6 percent so far in the NCAAs." Villanova, the nation's No. 1-ranked team for three weeks in February, was a four-point favorite and showed why. I liked Miami in an upset, but I guess that was homer parochial thinking. They needed another lights-out performance from guard Angel Rodriguez and didn't get it. Bottom line? Miami is not Elite yet, literally or figuratively. But Jim Larranaga is getting them closer. Progress. Overall a good season that did Miami proud. Agree? Take a dip in our poll.

NCAA Bracketeering, updated: Friday--My teams were 1-3, meaning 1-1 with teams still alive (North Carolina advanced) and two others previously eliminated. Overall--I'm 37-19 thus far in men's NCAA Tournament games. The bad news? I have only two teams still alive in the Elite Eight. The good news? They include Kansas, my pick to win it all. Cinderella Meter--28.6% (16 of 56 games have been upsets so far based on seeding). Today--I very much need Kansas to  beat Villanova. I have no dog left in the Oklahoma-Oregon hunt.

ON LEBRON'S 'DREAM TEAM,' STATE OF HEAT: 1) LeBron James said this week he would "take a pay cut" to play on the same team with close friends Dwyane Wade (once Lebrondreamingmore), Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Said James: "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP. I would actually take a pay cut to do that." Quick thought: Given the age and career arc of each, is 'Bron talking about an Old-Timers League? 2) The Heat's 112-88 loss to San Antonio Wednesday night was a reality check and a reminder of the distance between Miami and the best teams in the NBA. Here is another: Miami is now 4-9 this season against the five teams with clearly better records: Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Toronto. It's 2-1 vs. the Cavaliers, 2-8 vs. the other four.

Doral golf MiamiopenMIAMI OPEN TENNIS VS. WGC DORAL GOLF: The World Golf Championship event at Doral just ended, continuing the PGA Tour's 53-year run in South Florida. Now the Miami Open tennis tournament is underway on Key Biscayne -- Serena Williams won last evening in the first marquee match -- continuing that event's more than 30-year history in South Florida. But are prestigious tournaments right below being one of the sport's four majors. But both annual local sports institutions are in jeopardy. Doral could lose the greatest men's golfers in the world over politics, because the PGA Tour may distance itself from Donald Trump-owned properties. Key Biscayne could lose the best men's and women's tennis players in the world over legalities, related to a court case that will determine whether needed facility improvements are permitted. My question here: Which of these two major annual events is most important to you? I hope the answer for many of you is "both!" But which would you most hope stays where it is if you could choose only one? Take a dip in our poll and be heard!

JosePOLL RESULT: BRIGHTEST FUTURE? J'S HAVE IT AS JOSE, JUSTISE, JARVIS DOMINATE VOTE: We asked which of South Florida's 25-and-under sports stars has the brightest future, and gave you 14 choices and three votes. The clear overall top three in a tight race: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez (21.9 percent), Heat forward Justise Winslow (20.3%) and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (19.2%). Jose is pictured tipping his cap to thank you for the vote. Rounding out the top five were Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker with 9.3% and Heat guard Josh Richardson at 8.7%, followed by the top-ranking Florida Panther, Sasha Barkov, with 7.7%. Popular poll. Thanks to all who weighed in.

BOSH'S NEW PUBLIC-SERVICE AD: Sidelined Heat star Chris Bosh is featured (along with Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Becky Hammon) in a new LeanIn.org video for its public-awareness campaign in support of gender equality. Here it is:

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 24, 2016

Which Miami 25-&-under sports star will have greatest career? Poll too close to call. Last chance to vote!; plus Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena's pitch for Miami Open, Melania Trump, Fins on the cheap, your Cuba-trip verdict & more

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

Garagiola1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 24. Purim began at sundown last evening. Happy day to all our Jewish friends. 2) R.I.P. famed baseball broadcaster Joe Garagiola, pictured, at age 90. His was the first TV voice I heard when I was falling love with baseball as a kid. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Other side of the cheering on Cuba visit with poll, disrespecting Canes, Marlins on Jose, Serena's selfie, NCAA bracket update & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

"Rays beat Cuban National Team. Thank you, Tampa Bay, for denying the Castros the added propoganda." --Greg Cote

My latest 'Back In My Day': ICYMI on Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, here it is via ESPN Radio: Click Menus to listen and watch.

BrightfutureBRIGHT FUTURES: WHICH OF SOUTH FLORIDA'S 25-AND-UNDER PRO SPORTS STARS WILL HAVE THE GREATEST CAREER?: We made 25 the arbitrary line of demarcation here, and considered every current Heat, Dolphins, Marlins or Panthers player who was born in March 1991 or later. There were a lot, but we whittled it to a list of the 14 most prominent -- five Panthers and three from each of the other teams. Our poll list is alphabetical, and you may vote for your top three (3). It shouldn't be easy. For me, Jose Fernandez and Sasha Barkov were pretty easy, but the third was not. Jarvis Landry? Justise Winslow? Somebody else? Enough about me. Your turn. By the way, if you think anybody obvious is missing from the poll, I should mention as a preemptive strike that Giancarlo Stanton and Hassan Whiteside were born in 1989 and Ryan Tannehill in '88. They're still young, but too old for our 25U club. OK, ready? Remember, this is a brightest-future poll; try not to make it about which team or sport is your favorite. Vote now and check back frequently to monitor constantly evolving numbers. To decipher a three-vote ballot, triple the percentage of each player's total shown for an estimation of the percentage of ballots that include him in the top three. In other words, Winslow at 23.3 percent (when last I checked) was being included in about 70 percent of all top-threes.

Vote for your top 3:

UnisSWEET 16: NOT ALL AGREE THE HURRICANES ARE LOOKING GOOD: ESPN has one of those silly "Uni Watch" uniform rankings for the Sweet 16 teams, and the Miami Hurricanes's new Adidas duds are ranked only 14th. Ouch. The synopsis reads: "Green, orange and white are such a great color combination. Too bad they're used to such poor effect on the new March Madness uni set that Adidas prepared for the Hurricanes. It's hard to say which is worse -- the orange [or green] shoulder harness or the 'grass skirt' striping on the shorts. A real stinker." OK, then. A Thursday victory from Villanova away from their first Elite Eight appearance, we're thinking UM fans prefer their team continue to be athletically splendid even if its sartorial splendor may be somewhat dubious.

UH OH. IT'S COTE VS. STUGOTZ IN LOCAL MEDIA BRACKET'S FINAL FOUR: Website SliceMiami has been holding NCAA-style brackets in four 16-person "regions" including Media, and I -- the last Herald writer standing -- have vanquished two foes to reach the Final Four, where I will face my 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio mate, the great Stugotz. The other semifinal will pit WQAM's Marc Hochman vs. his 560 stablemate Joe Rose. I think voting in the Final Four round is Thursday and Friday but we'll update you further.xx

SerenaSERENA STANDS UP ELOQUENTLY FOR THE MIAMI OPEN: We know Serena Williams is the best women's tennis player in the world, and has been for much of the past 15 years or so. She's a pretty good writer, too, it turns out. Williams this week penned a piece for the New York Times on why the Miami Open (running now through April 3 on Key Biscayne) is so dear to her and how she'd hate to see it leave, which it could related to a legal battle over improvements to the site. Good for you, Serena! Find her entire essay here.

DOLPHINS ON THE CHEAP: ESPN ranks all 32 teams in terms of current free-agent spending and your Dolphins slot in 22nd with only $11.9 million in guaranteed money given. Dough spent does Abdul-quddusnot always equate with winning, no, but it is a bit disconcerting that division-power New England has spent more than triple ($38.1 mill) what the Dolphins have to get better. ESPN's cynopsis of the Fins' FA expenditure so far: "For the first time in several years, the Dolphins elected to be judicious with their free-agent spending. They spent just $11.9 million in guaranteed money so far, with the biggest guarantee going to safety Isa Abdul-Quddus ($6 million). Big-ticket items haven't produced more victories, so Miami is trying the opposite approach." But just as spending big isn't always smart, being economical doesn't always mean smart spending. For example, Abdul-Quddus (pictured), the big get in terms of guaranteed money, has only 16 starts and two interceptions in 74 career NFL games. Hmm.

Poll result: Most oppose Obama and baseball's visit to Cuba: We asked your reaction and it was 25.3 percent "positive," 54.9% "negative" and 19.8% "mixed emotions or undecided." Interestingly, the negative vote was running only slightly higher (58.5%) in Florida, where a higher percentage of Cuban-Americans reside. Also interesting (at least to me): The "positive" vote enjoyed a plurality when the poll appeared only in my blog, before it hit a broader/different audience when picked up by MiamiHerald.com.

MelaniatrumpTHE MELANIA TRUMP AD: Nasty politics continue on the Republican side of the presidential race. A super-PAC supporting Ted Cruz ran the ad pictured, showing Donald Trump's wife Melania in a GQ photo shoot from 2000, back in her modeling days. The text reads, "Meet Melania Trump: Your Next First Lady. Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz On Tuesday."  The Donald responded on Twitter with a warning for Cruz to be careful or he'll "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife. Me? I have little doubt that Trump is privately not displeased at all with this ad -- with people being reminded how great he must be to have a wife this hot. But here's the bottom line: Will seeing Melania like this make anyone less likely to vote for Donald Trump? For many people, absolutely nothing could possibly make them less likely to vote for Trump.

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

Twitter @gregcote