September 28, 2016

On today's public farewell for Marlins' Jose Fernandez; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Our weekly NFL Pix 'n Fantasy update is coming here later this afternoon, post-radio show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tragedy: Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident, Dolphins luck to beat Browns in OT with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: What Jose Meant Lives On (my first column on death of Jose Fernandez). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I guess the headline says it all). Week 3 Gems (our NFL picks from past weekend). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it all)She Never Quit (our last column in FIU football coach Ron Turner before they fired him).

Today's public events for Jose Fernandez: The public may watch the funeral motorcade depart Marlins Park at 2:16 p.m. Fans are asked to gather at the stadium's West Plaza by 2. Fans may also pay respects as a public viewing that will occur from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. today at St. Brendan Catholic Church, 8725 SW 32nd Street, Miami. There will be a private funeral mass on Thursday open only to family and Marlins players, coaches and staff. In lieu of flowers, the Fernandez family suggest charitable donations to the JDF16 Foundation. To learn more or to donate, click here.

MarlinsjoseHONORING JOSE AT MARLINS PARK: AN EMOTIONAL NIGHT FOR THE AGES: Many of you know I have been a sports journalist since newspapers were dropped on front lawns by pterodactyls. Into my fifth decade doing this, since the '70s, I have seen every event imaginable. But nothing quite like last night, as the Marlins and Miami said goodbye, cruelly too soon, to ace pitcher Jose Fernandez in the first game since his tragic death in the wee hours of Sunday morning in a boating accident. It was the most emotional night I have ever covered, top to bottom. It began with every player wearing his No. 16 uniform with "Fernandez" stitched on the back, and fans standing to applaud every time a different Jose Fernandez crossed the chalk line pregame and ran onto the field. It ended, long after the game, after the stadium had emptied of all but workers and media, as players stood around the pitcher's mound and raised bottles of beer to the heavens in a toast. What a terrible, wonderful night. I hope my column from the ballpark last night has done it justice. To read, click There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night.

NFL PICKS 'N FANTASY WEEK 3: 'ATS' RUN CONTINUES, LOBOS LOSE HEARTBREAKER: NFL picks: Had a rocky week straight-up (9-7) but emerged a sparkly 11-5 against the spread thanks to three outright upset bull's-eyes including our Upset of the Week on Bills over Cardinals ("Aawwk!"), plus five other 'dogs-with-points. Fantasy: Another difficult loss to take. Greg's Lobos fell to 1-2 in the LeBatard Show league, losing to Mike Ryan, 136.5-130.9. We were getting blown away but nearly rallied miraculously with 57.6 combined Monday nihght points from Drew Brees and Devonta Freeman. Also, you know what they say about "close."

SOPY RANKINGS, 'STATE HEISMAN': COOK ON HIGH HEAT: The fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds FSU running back Dalvin Cook (pictured) charging up the chart Dcookinto second place off a season-best effort entering Collball Week 5. Are rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week (like the SopyMiami Hurricanes this past weekend) take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. We close it off after the regular season to not penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 5, followed by our updated Cote's State of the State team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 4:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Week        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                245          804.5

2      7      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          341          699

3      2      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 171.5       620.5

4      9      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       200          502.5

5      3      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     BYE        442 

6      4      Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   DNP        433

7      5      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         40            425

8    10      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                   93           386 

9     --      Kalib Woods, FAU-rec                       114          377

10   6       Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       BYE        376

Bubble: D'Ernest Johnson, SoFla-rb, 357. Other team leader: Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 338. Week 3 best: Cook, 341. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Miami (3-0); 2. Florida State (3-1); 3. Florida (3-1); 4. South Florida (3-1); 5. UCF (2-2); 6. FAU (1-3); 7. FIU (0-4).

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 14, 2016

If you were to bet: Will Chris Bosh be in Heat's opening night lineup? Poll. Vote!; plus was Dolphins loss encouraging? Why 'moral victories' stink; also, Fins' new uniforms, team's protest, new Back In My Day, Hot Button Top 10, Week 2 SOPY rank & more

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

Newunis1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14. Excited to be seeing Brian Wilson tonight at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. Much respect for the Beach Boys' founding member and driving force. 2) Pictured right: the Dolphins' new "Nike Color Rush" uniforms, to be unveiled and worn as an alternate look in the Sept. 29 game at Cincinnati. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose heartbreaker in Seattle with DSM poll, Canes clobber FAU with CSM poll, Collball Week 2, your Super Bowl pick & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new 'Back In My Day': Click here for the ESPN Radio podcast of yesterday's LeBatard Show. To go directly to the latest BIMD, go to "Hour 3: 9/13/16." It starts around 14 minutes in. 

On Fins' anthem protest: My latest column is on the national-anthem kneel by Arian Foster and three other Dolphins Sunday. Many thought it was especially wrong to do it on 9/11. I disagree. Click on Timing Was Perfect, Not Wrong to read the column in full. 

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 1 Gems (our NFL picks) and Fearful Forecast (our divisional and Super Bowl predictions). Awesome Vs. Awful (on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M). Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

BoshBOSH DECLARES HIS READINESS, BUT STILL AWAITS TEAM CLEARANCE: In-limbo Heat forward Chris Bosh said Tuesday, "I'm ready to play,” in a podcast for Bleacher Report's Uninterrupted. Bosh has been working out in Los Angeles and calls himself in "incredible shape," adding, "I look good when I take my shirt off." Bosh, 32, has seen two seasons in a row wrecked by blood-clot issues. The Heat still has not medically cleared him to play, but, increasingly, it appears that will be the eventuality. An announcement figures to come soon, since Miami has training camp Sept. 27-Oct. 1 in Nassau, Bahamas.

DOLPHINS AND DOLFANS: WHY 'MORAL VICTORIES' ARE NOTHING TO EMBRACE: There are moral victories in sports -- some good to be found and encouragement felt even in defeat. For example, if you throw me into an octagon for a UFC fight and I somehow luck to last 30 seconds before being pulverized unconscious, that's a moral victory! But of course coaches and athletes Dolcardin professional sports are not allowed to see silver linings, or at least not allowed to admit publicly that they do. It's understandable. It isn't what the indoctrination ingrained in you. Nobody gives you credit for "almost." Nobody who has just been crushed by disappointment wants to hear, "Nice try, though!" You are paid to win, period. Here lies the dilemma for the Miami Dolphins, as a team and franchise, and also for their fans, in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 12-10 loss in Seattle. Are you allowed to be encouraged? Or have you been let down too many times by too many years of mediocrity to feel anything but "same ol' same ol'" today? What we saw Sunday from the Dolphins is the problem, and the frustration. It seems they are almost always good enough to have these big efforts in them, but seldom good enough to close the deal and turn almost into exclamation. They tease, the Fins do. In fact if the NFL kept such a stat Miami might be among league leaders in moral victories this century, but, alas, have you noticed only losing teams count those? Those kind of almosts never get your team to the playoffs, they only get your team's coaches fired. Let us count the ways Dolfans have been encouraged only to be let down since the club last reached the postseason in 2008: Miami had a stretch of seven wins in 10 games including a defeat of New England in 2009, was headed for the playoffs, then fizzled to end with three straight losses, the last two at home. In 2010 Miami also was on playoff pace before losing the last three games, two of those at home, too. The Dolphins won at the Jets 30-9 in 2012 to be 5-3 at midseason, then the trap door opened, including a 37-3 home loss to Tennessee. In 2013 Miami started 3-0 for the first time in 11 years but then lost in New Orleans on a Monday night, 38-17. Later that season the Dolphins beat New England, a third straight win that put the Fins in control for a playoff spot -- then lost two straight division games to end the year. Remember how the 2014 season opened with a rousing 33-20 home victory over the Patriots? Followed by three losses in the next four games? Sunday was the latest tease. You have to see it as such, until which time this team proves it can win games like this one -- games it dominates, games it leads late, games it has every right to win. If only the defense had one more stop in it. If only Kenny Stills makes that catch. Enough with teases and "if onlys" and almosts. When the Dolphins begin to win games like Sunday's and do it with some consistency, then real change will have begun.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 13): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (posted Tuesday this week) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10: 

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami (well, almost) shocks the world in season opener: It would have shocked the NFL, at least. And almost did. As King Sport unfurled with Kickoff Weekend, the Dolphins entered Sunday's opener in Seattle as Week 1's biggest betting underdogs league-wide, but mostly acquitted themselves well in a 12-10 loss. Glass half-full: Encouragement in a moral victory. Half empty: A loss is a loss.

2. HURRICANES: UM clobber FAU, awaits tougher test: After beating Florida A&M 70-3 in opener, the No. 25-ranked Canes faced what should have been another comfy, low-stress win Saturday vs. the FAU Owls and it was: 38-10. Just wait, though. If September's schedule is a feather for UM, October's hits like a sledgehammer.  

3. MARLINS: Do you believe in miracles?: It will take one of those for Miami to somehow climb back into wild-card playoff race, at five games back with only 19 to play. Starting today/Monday all remaining games are vs. NL East. The realistic consolation prize left? Finishing above .500, at least.

4. TENNIS: Upsets rock Championship Weekend at U.S. Open: It's death, taxes and sunrise leading the way among life's certainties. Right after that it would probably be Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic favored to win tennis' next major tournament titles. Except both lost. I hereby retire all my snide comments about tennis being so predictable. 

5. HEAT: Richardson out, Bosh still in limbo: Josh Richardson is out six to eight weeks with a knee injury. Meantime Heat open their first NBA training camp without Dwyane Wade since 2002 on Sept. 27, and still no official word on the health, status or future of in-limbo Chris Bosh. Enough with the media speculation and "indications are." Tell us, Heat.

6. NASCAR: Let the Chase begin as field cut to 16 finalists: Sweet. We're down to 16 drivers competing to race the Sprint Cup trophy in November at Homestead.

7. BASKETBALL: Shaq, Iverson head Hall induction class: Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson topped the 10-person Basketball Hall of Fame induction class Friday. Shaq spent 3 ½ of his 19 NBA seasons in Miami. So Heat fans pro-rated the ownership and pride they felt to about 18 percent.

8. PANTHERS: Cats add Huberdeau to growing future: Hockey's close (Panthers' first preseason game is Sept. 27), and Florida continues to lock up key pieces and build a solid future. The latest: forward Jonathan Huberdeau signs a six-year, $35.4 million extension. Cats win the mythical offseason Stanley Cup!  

9. TIGER WOODS: Fading superstar sets October return: Golf and the PGA Tour get a jolt -- of drama, if not excitement -- next month with Tiger Woods' announced plan to return to action. The real question: Will he still be playing, and playing well, when the next major rolls 'round: The Masters in April.

10. 9/11: Never forget: But, also, remember more than once a year, please.

Missing the HB10 cut: America's Hobby, fantasy football, is underway. Congratulations on your wonderful start and your terrific team. I'm sorry about your Week 1 and your team ..... Mets signed Tim Tebow to a minor-league contract, insisted it was not a publicity stunt, and everybody laughed ..... A Tennessee-Virginia Tech game at Bristol Motor Speedway drew 156,990, biggest crowd ever to watch college football game. Did they have a final whistle, or a checkered flag? ..... Soccer's Champions League begins play Tuesday. No in-between here. You are either passionate about this, or have no idea what it is. ..... U.S. Swimming suspended Ryan Lochte 10 months for his Olympics police involvement. Wait. I thought those guys only competed once every four years anyway! ..... An Honus Wagner baseball card is expected to sell for more than $3  million at auction. For that money, it had better include Honus himself. With a check for $2.9 million ..... ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker has begun, verifying there are too many hours to fill with actual quality programming ..... The two-week World Cup Of Hockey starts this coming Saturday. Not sure exactly what it is, but it sounds important ..... Colin Kaepernick isn't standing for the anthem. But as a backup QB, he'll be doing a lot of sitting during games as well.

SOPY RANKINGS, THE 'STATE HEISMAN': NOLES QB MAINTAINS LEAD, UM'S WALTON LEAPS TO FOURTH: The fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- is Sopyoff and running with Florida State freshman QB Deondre Francois maintaining the overall lead after two week and Miami running back Mark Walton (pictured) making the biggest, to fourth place. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. We close it off after the regular season to penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 3, followed by our updated Cote's State of the State team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 2:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Week        Year

1       1     Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                  146          426.5

2       5     Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                252          411

3       6     Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   189          340

4       --    Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      179          301 

5       3     Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          104          296

6       9     Joe Yearby, Miami-rb                        148           278

7       2     Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       60.5         263

8       4     Justin Holman, UCF-qb                     55.5         234

9       7     Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    85            225

10    --     Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         115          214

Bubble: Antonio Callaway, Florida-rec, 213. Week 2 best: Flowers, 252. Season best: Francois, 280.5, Week 1.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida State (2-0); 2. Miami (2-0); 3. Florida (2-0); 4. South Florida (2-0); 5. UCF (1-1); 6. FAU (1-1); 7. FIU (0-2).

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2016

Who was Heat's biggest acquisition? Poll. Vote now!; plus gloomiest forecast yet (by far) for Dolphins season; also, new Back In My Day, Fins individual stat projections, SOPY Week 1 rankings, UM cracks Top 25, Arian Nation, miserable Marlins & more

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

2 Fripix1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Click here for latest ESPN Radio "Best Of" podcast of yesterday's LeBatard Show. My new Back In My Day segment kicks in late in the pod, around the 1 hour 11 minute mark. 2) Countdown: 2 days 'til the Upset Bird! Our NFL Friday Page predictions return Sept. 9. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes crush FAMU in opener with season-debut CSM poll, Collball Week 1, Hot Button Top 10, The List & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Canes (barely) crack Top 25: A 70-3 Miami win over Florida A&M combined with three other teams dropping out of the Top 25 was enough for the Hurricanes to inch up one spot to No. 25 in the latest Associated Press poll.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our most recent, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

DOOM! GLOOM! COMPUTER PROJECTS DOLPHINS FOR 5.9 WINS: Predictionmachine.com computers played the upcoming NFL season 50,000 times, forecasting a Seattle over Pittsburgh Super Bowl, and projecting a mere 5.9 victories for Miami -- while computing that Miami has better than a 50 percent win probablty in only three games. Ouch. This is the gloomiest forecast yet for this Dolphins season. Miami's game by game projected results, based on the computer model:

        Opponent                Projected Dolphins result     Win probability

G1    @ Seahawks             L 28.7-17.4                        21.4%

G2    @ Patriots                L 25.8-19.5                        33.9

G3    Vs. Browns               W 25.3-23.4                       54.4

G4    @ Bengals                L 28.8-19.2                        26.1

G5    Vs. Titans                W 25.2-24.9                       50.7

G6    Vs. Steelers             L 29.7-22.6                        33.1

G7    Vs. Bills                   L 26.1-22.3                        40.8

G8    Vs. Jets                   L 23.3-20.1                        41.9

G9    @ Chargers              L 30.0-22.4                        31.8

G10   @ Rams                  L 25.9-19.7                        33.9

G11   Vs. 49ers                W 26.6-23.6                       57.1

G12   @ Ravens                L 27.2-20.2                        32.7

G13   Vs. Cardinals          L 22.5-20.2                        44.2

G14   @ Jets                    L 25.9-18.6                        31.3

G15   @ Bills                   L 28.3-20.6                         30.9

G16   Vs. Patriots            L 29.5-20.1                         27.5

Totals: Dolphins 21.2 points per game; Opponents 26.5

HeatWHAT HAS BEEN HEAT'S MOST IMPORTANT PERSONNEL MOVE?: Hey, Pat Riley himself brought this up, not me! Recently he volunteered the question and discussion, saying, "I say this and I mean this. Shaq's acquisition was bigger than any acquisition we ever made, including the Big Three. Getting Shaquille changed everything for our franchise." Was he throwing a bouquet at Shaquille O'Neal because Miami is about to retire his jersey number? Was he taking a not-so-subtle shot at LeBron James for the way he left? Or, did Riley have a legitimate point? From the petri dish of questions arises this poll. I offer five main options -- listed chronologically -- and I think you could make a valid argument why at least four of them might be the right answer. So take a dip in our poll. Vote for your No. 1 choice and check back often to monitor evolving results.

THEY'RE BAA-AAACK! SOPY RANKINGS, THE 'STATE HEISMAN,' RETURN  WITH KID NOLE ON TOP: Today begins the fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Sopy DfrancoisYear -- our weekly cumulative rankings that measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. We close it off after the regular season so as not to penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Well, Kid Nole, FSU freshman QB Deondre Francois (pictured), is out the gate best with 280.5 points in last night's wild comeback pointfest. The Canes, who put up 70 points but spread the wealthy individually, put only Joe Yearby in the initial Top 10, ninth with 130 points. Here is our first SOPY Top 10 of 2016, followed by a list of annual champions and our first Cote's State of the State team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 1:

Rank   Player, Team-pos.                            Week/Year

1        Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                  280.5

2        Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                        202.5

3        Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          192

4        Justin Holman, UCF-qb                     178.5

5        Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                159

6        Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   151

7        Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    140

8        Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      131.5

9        Joe Yearby, Miami-rb                        130

10      Jesus Wilson, FSU-rec                       125 

Bubble: Mark Walton, Miami-rb, 122. Week 1, season best: Francois, FSU-qb, 280.5.

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2015--Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,077.5 points; 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida State (1-0); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. Florida (1-0); 4. South Florida (1-0); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (1-0); 7. FIU (0-1).

AfosterFOSTER IS DOLPHINS' STARTING RB, BUT WHAT'S IT REALLY MEAN?: Dolphins lifted Arian Foster to No. 1 running back (no real surprise) on their depth chart Monday, but that answer remains surrounded by questions. Can he stay healthy? Will he return to his prime-year productivity? Will he get a heavy load or be the front-man in a split-duty situation with Jay Ajayi and others? Fantasy drafters who gambled on Foster should be happy. Still not sure he's a fantasy starter, though. I'd want proof against a suspicion he'll be an eight-carry, three-catch kind of guy. Foster starting gives Miami a bit of star power on the field. But let's see how it plays out.  

Dolphins' individual statistical projections: Miami betting over/unders straight outta Bovada: Ryan Tannehill--4,100 pass yards, 23.5 TDs, 12 INTs; Most rushing yards--Arian Foster 2-3 odds, Jay Ajayi 6-5; Jarvis Landry--1,000 catch yards, 5 TDs; Cam Wake--10.5 sacks; Ndamukong Suh--6 sacks.

STANTON, BOUR RETURN BUT MARLINS' MISERABLE SKID CONTINUES...: Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour both were reactivated by the Marlins yesterday, to little avail. Gawd. This is so Marlins. They're in the wild-card playoff hunt and they're in it and they're in it and then ...  this. A 10-18 August record left Miami scrambling to hang in the chase, and Tuesday's home loss meant the rotting Fish now have lost 10 of their past 11 games -- a terrible skid at exactly the wrong time. They now are on the far periphery of the playoff hunt at 6 games off pace. For any chance at all, with 23 games left, they'd need a fast and dramatic pivot. They'd need to be as good the rest of September as they've been bad lately, because a once-promising season is circling the drain. It would go down as a fairly epic collapse for Don Mattingly's guys, and only the Marlins themselves can rewrite that gloomy narrative.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 29, 2016

Our fantasy draft: Who picked best team? (Was it Greg's Lobos?) New poll. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes, Fins, Fish, tennis, Kaepernick, Marlins Park, Little League, Heat; plus Gase/Richt column & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 29. Dolphins and Uber announced a new partnership today. Go to my Facebook page to read team's press release in full. 2) R.I.P., Dick Assman, 82, the Canadian gas station owner propelled briefly to fame in 1995 when David Letterman, amused by his name, had Assman on as a recurring guest. 3) Yes, your dog's jaws are strong. An average 44-pound dog exerts a bite-pressure of 363 pounds. An average adult human's is 65 pounds. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins impress vs. Atlanta, Wade cousin killed, Fins talent vs. optimism, Canes heritage dissed, Marlins get Francoeur, Riley's Heat gloom confirmed, Rolling Stone joins our cause, your verdict on Dolfan optimism & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Twitter just told me, "Your Tweets earned 1,000,953 impressions over the last 28 days." Not exactly sure what that means, but I think it's my first time over 1 mill for a month. So, thank you, Twitter family!

Latest column: Hope for Dolphins, Canes starts with Gase, Richt: Miami's two flagship football teams have done a lot wrong most of this decade. What they've done right: Hire Adam Gase and Mark Richt. This is only the second time in 51 shared years the Fins and Canes both have begun a new season with a new head coach. Click on Gase, Richt and Hope for my latest column.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). The Real Olympic Ideal (it isn't gold medals). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars. The Weight Has Just Begun (inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (on Wade's departure from Heat).

OUR 10-TEAM FANTASY DRAFT: VOTE WHO YOU THINK PICKED THE BEST TEAM: Greg's Lobos had our last of three fantasy drafts on Sunday. The Lobos will be competing 1) in a random league Fantasyfbthat won us in an ESPN V Foundation fundraising auction; 2) in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos; and 3) in our own friends-n-family league. We had an earlier poll on our V Foundation team, and our LeBatard Show team is detailed at the end of this blogpost. Our friends-n-family league had its draft Sunday, and that's this poll. All of us gathered in person, not online. We did it old-school, with a giant draft board on the wall gradually populated with names. Afterward, of course, we stood around arguing who'd had the best draft, or worst. Whose teams looked strongest, or shakiest. Now I invite you to tell us. In this poll the teams are listed in draft order in case you wish to take that into consideration. We're a 10-team PPR league, and this was a standard snake draft. Our poll is based on each team's first four picks, because if we listed all 16 names for each team it'd be unwieldy. Peruse each team's top four and, based on that, vote which team you'd most want to have. Then check back often to monitor evolving results. Tomorrow we'll let you know who was behind the winning team and how your rated our Greg's Lobos.

 

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. HURRICANES: College football is back! Canes suspend 2, open in 5 days: Week 1 locally features Hurricanes hosting Florida A&M on Saturday, two days after FIU debuts here vs. Indiana. UM on Saturday severed ties with two of its better defensive players in DE Al-Quadin Muhammad and LB Jermaine Grace after both were found guilty in a school probe of improper luxury-car rentals in violation of NCAA rules. This week signals official start of the Mark Richt era at UM. Hasn't played a gamed yet, but he's already won by keeping his program clean.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Atlanta, prepare for stadium unveiling in preseason finale: After encouraging 17-6 win over Atlanta and roster cuts, Dolphins prepare for preseason finale on Thursday -- and public unveiling of refurbished, newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium. Place looks great. Will the team?

3. MARLINS: Playoff-chasing Fish add help, wrap homestand: Team is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace in a five-team wild-card scramble as it sets out today/Monday on seven-game road trip. Fish will be a part of the Tim Tebow audition after earlier trading for outfield help in Jeff Francoeur. Dear Jeff: Pretend like it's 2011, your last really good season.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Open, year's last major, set to begin: Starts today in New York with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams top seeds as usual. Tennis is predictable. Then again, defending women's champ Flavia Pennetta is a household name only in her own house.

5. MARLINS PARK: Stadium to host major auto race, World Baseball Classic: Good week for the Little Havana home of Marlins. First it's announced park will host Race of Champions on Jan. 21-22, annual event pitting Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar drivers. Then stadium landed first-round WBC games March 9-12 featuring U.S., Canada, Colombia and Dominican Republic. Now if only they'd add a few Marlins playoff games.

6. LITTLE LEAGUE: New York team wins annual youth World Series wraps up: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" The U.S. champion team from Endwell, N.Y. beat international champs from Seoul, South Korea on Sunday to make a U.S. team LLWS champions for first time since 2011. Was it fate? How could an American team from "End well" not have a happy ending?

7. OLYMPICS: Fallout from Rio controversy for Solo, Lochte: U.S. soccer suspended and cut ties with goalkeeper Hope Solo after she called victorious Sweden "cowards," and U.S. Swimming's Ryan Lochte saw several major sponsors including Speedo drop him over his gas-station episode in Rio. Good-looking athletes, but Ugly Americans.

8. HEAT: Riley's pronouncement of "bad summer" is affirmed: Pat Riley himself called it a "bad, bad summer" for the Heat, and evidence is rolling in. SI.com this week gave Miami a D+ in its offseason grades, and ESPN.com projected the Heat for a sub-.500 38.3 wins, 10th in the East. No LeBron, no D-Wade, no assurance yet on Bosh. No hope?

9. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB protest by sitting for national anthem: The 49ers' embattled QB refused to stand for the U.S. national anthem to protest the country "oppression" of people of color. It's the latest chapter in his new autobiography, "How My Once-Promising Career Went Straight to Hell."

10. SOCCER: Group stage set for Champions League: Thirty-two teams in eight groups of four were drawn this week to begin play Sept. 13 in the Champions League to crown the king of European club football. Headlines went to Group C, where Manchester City was drawn with Barcelona -- meaning new Man City manager Pep Guardiola will face his longtime former club. You know you love you some international soccer when you drop a Pep Guardiola reference!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cousin of Dwyane Wade killed in Chicago shooting. "Enough is enough" Wade had said of gun violence. So sad. ..... Cricket! World cricket powers India and West Indies playing two weekend matches at Central Broward Stadium. Do cricket players have single  names like in soccer. Is the star named Jiminy? (Sorry) ..... Tony Romo got injured. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Florida Panthers dealt Dave Bolland's bloated contract and 2015 top draft pick Lawson Crouse to Arizona for second- and third-round picks. Preseason begins Sept. 27 to launch perhaps first season in club history in which winning Stanley Cup seems a legit possibility ...... Booker T. Washington beat St. Thomas Aquinas in duel of local prep football powerhouses. Circle the date. Aquinas losses come about as often as Halley's Comet ..... Only five schools in poll-era have won more national championships than Miami's five, but the Canes were ranked only 14th in an ESPN piece on college football royalty. Question: What do they mean by "fuzzy math"? ..... The Chicago White Sox, feeling the name U.S. Cellular Field wasn't awful enough, announced their stadium's new name will be Guaranteed Rate Field. No, seriously ..... Oakland Raiders have trademarked the name "Las Vegas Raiders." No, but they aren't leaving or anything! ..... Signs you may be a degenerate gambler: You bet big on Friday's Arizona Rattlers-Philadelphia Soul game in Arena Bowl 29 ..... Answer: KFC gives away tubes of "Extra Crispy Sunscreen" that smells like fried chicken. Question: What do you mean real life sometimes reads like something from The Onion? ..... Todd Marinovich was found wandering in somebody's backyard, naked and with drugs. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Congratulations, Chargers top draft pick Joey Bosa. All of San Diego hates you and you haven't even played a down yet ..... Farewell, daily fantasy sites Draft Kings and FanDuel. Sure will miss those nonstop TV ads ..... The Oakland A's traded pitcher Mike Rzepczynski, explaining, "We got tired of trying to spell and pronounce his name" ..... According to Brazilian media, 20-year-old Ingrid Oliveira and 17-year-old Giovanna Pedroso have ended their Olympic diving partnership after Oliveira kicked the teen from the room they shared at the Olympic Village in Rio so she could enjoy a night of sex with Brazilian canoeist Pedro Gonçalves. Um, is that a canoe, or are you just happy to see me?

INTRODUCING GREG'S LOBOS II, THE LEBATARD SHOW TEAM: We introduced you previously to the 2016 Greg's Lobos team that will be competing in the league that donated the most money Lobosto ESPN's V Foundation to have me as a member. Now I'd like you to meet the Greg's Lobos squad that will be competing in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos this season, a PPR league. I'd imagine this is the team we'll be referencing most on the air. Mea culpa: We were last of 14 teams in the snake-draft order. Our players, by round: 1st--RB Devonta Freeman (reigning MVL; welcome back D-Free); 2nd--WR Allen Robinson; 3rd--QB Drew Brees; 4th--WR Randall Cobb; 5th--TE Delanie Walker; 6th--RB Melvin Gordon; 7th--WR Willie Snead; 8th--RB Theo Riddick; 9th--RB Tevin Coleman; 10th--Seahawks D/ST; 11th--WR Terrance Williams; 12th--TE Clive Walford; 13th--PK Chandler Catanzaro; and 14th--QB Teddy Bridgewater. Last season's 10-team league has grown to 14 teams with one dropout (Papi) and five expansion teams. Returning teams are Dan, Stugotz and myself along with Mike, Roy, Chris, Charlie, Guillermo and Allyson. The five newbies are Amin Elhassan, Randy Scott, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and (are you ready) WWE pro wrestler Tyler Breeze.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 18, 2016

Hard Rock Stadium: Do Dolphins, Canes fans like the new name? Poll. Last day to vote and see results here; plus Marlins' slide, Hillary as Usain, Joy Taylor, your verdict on MLB's 'Purgatory Mount Rushmore' & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 18. If coaches took their cue from Donald Trump: "The only way we lose this game is if the other side cheats and the system is rigged." 2) We're No. 8! Florida is the eighth-freest state in the U.S., based on this new study factoring various data. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Purgatory Mount Rushmore' poll, Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins-Giants PS1, Olympic tears, Heat schedule dissected, six days in November & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On newly christened Hard Rock Stadium: The name on the stadium doesn't matter, only the team in it does. Pro Player, Land Shark, Sun Life, now Hard Rock -- it's Dolphins stadium on Sundays, Hurricanes stadium on Saturdays, and up to us whether we choose to use the leased corporate name at all. Heck, it's still Joe Robbie Stadium to me! Call it what you will. What matters is that the Dolphins and Hurricanes win inside that place, whatever it's called. That's the theme of my latest column. Click on Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter to read in full.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: A-Rod to Fish Made Sense, on what might've been. Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars, on the Purgatory Four.  Result Won't Matter, But How Tannehill Looks In New Offense Will, as Dolphins opened preseason. The Weight Has Just Begun, inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt. A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating opening for Fins and Canes. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chased 3,000 hits.

WHAT DO WE THINK OF HARD ROCK STADIUM AS THE LATEST NAME FOR THE HOUSE THAT JOE BUILT?: It's still Joe Robbie Stadium to me, at least in my heart, but, putting a positive spin Hrson it, I'd say Hard Rock Stadium at least is a better name (certainly more football-macho) than the previous three. I hate all corporate names, as careful readers know. In columns I avoid them when possible. I go with the generic, such as the Heat playing in "the downtown bayside arena." Why should I pimp for an airline? I hate the idea that companies spend big to fix their name onto where our teams play. Even worse is that we fans (and most sheep-like media) immediately fall in line and obediently start using the new paid-for-advertising. We don't have to, you know. They can't make us. Call it Joe's Place. Steve's Canopy. Dolphins Stadium. Canes Park. Whatever. You wanna hear Pavlov's bell and go with Hard Rock? Great. That's fine, too. Unless you're against gambling and therefore casinos, chances are there isn't a moral issue. Plus Hard Rock Stadium beats the pants off A) Pro Player, an ill-fated subsidiary of underwear giant Fruit of the Loom; B) Land Shark, a third-tier beer; or C) Sun Life, a Canadian financial company. So the progression has gone from underwear to beer to a foreign company peddling life insurance to casinos. Here's a thought. Make the Dolphins, who haven't won a playoff game since 2000, earn that Hard Rock designation. Given the tough situation the Fins are in and have put their fans in, until the team wins another playoff game, call if Rock & A Hard Place Stadium. I'm just having a little fun. What do you think of the new name? Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HillraceSUMMER OLYMPICS MEET PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Two of my favorite things to follow closely, both current, are presidential politics and the Summer Olympics, and so I loved and couldn't resist passing along this mashup "photo" somebody sent to me, with Hillary Clinton as Usain Bolt. Relax, Republicans and Trump-ets. The photoshop is merely reflecting the trend in public opinion polls, which of course are always subject to change. If the Donald takes over the lead in the national polls lead we'll certainly rejigger this to have The Donald's coif atop Bolt's winning body. Deal? The Olympics end Sunday. The ultimate race, the one for the White House, ends Nov. 8.

MARLINS: SLIP-SLIDIN' AWAY...: Perhaps it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy that when slugger Giancarlo Stanton was lost for the season with his latest injury, most wrote off the Marlins' chances of winning a wild-card playoff ticket. The Fish have now lost two in a row and five of their past seven to fall two games off wild-card pace. One team they are chasing, Pittsburgh, hosts Miami Friday through Sunday. Marlins need to take at least two of three to keep a grip on this thing.

Poll result: Strong Hall of Fame support for MLB's 'Purgatory Mount Rushmore': We asked if Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, and by nearly a 3-to-1 margin it was 51.5 percent saying yes to all four vs. 17.4 voting no to all four. Another 19.2% said yes to Rose but not the steroids guys, while 8.2% said yes to the 'roids guys but not Rose. The remaining 3.7% were undecided.

JoytaylorWELCOME TO THE BIG-TIME, JOY TAYLOR: Former Dolphin Jason Taylor's kid sister (pictured left, and I cannot explain that beam of orange light rising out of her head)) made a nice mark in South Florida as a 790 The Ticket radio morning co-host and since has landed nationally at Fox, where she'll soon be joining Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe on a still-unnamed FS1 morning show. With the big time comes increased attention, scrutiny and criticsim, of course, so it's no surprise awfulannouncing.com dug up some old Joy Tweets to produce this story under the headline, SKIP BAYLESS' NEW MODERATOR JOY TAYLOR ONCE CALLED HIM A 'STRAIGHT UP CARTOON' AND 'TROLL'. On the bright side, without question, Skip Bayless has been called much, much, much worse.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 10, 2016

Other than canoe slalom and badminton, what's your favorite Olympic sport? New poll. Vote now!; plus new betting odds on Canes/Kaaya, Suey Awards/Back In My Day, Tinder's favorite jobs, your verdict on A-Rod and Marlins & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10. The Chicago Cubs lead in MLB in run differential with plus-186. The record, plus-411, was set by Joe Dimaggio and Red Ruffing's 1939 Yankees. 2) The pie chart on Ichiro's 3,000 MLB hits: 84.43 percent Mariners, 10.37% Yankees and 5.20% Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Should Marlins sign Alex Rodriguez with poll, Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on Dolphins/Canes win totals & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Suey Awards/Back In My Day: The LeBatard Show's annual Suey Awards voting is underway, and there is a category to name the best of our Back In My Day segments. There are 12 finalists. Click here for a 9-minute audio highlighting each, or here to go directly to the poll. Surprisingly, to me, there is one clear leader. My personal pick (Research) isn't even in the top five.

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: The Weight Has Just Begun, the latest, inside the office and the expectations of new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt. A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Dwyane Wade's departure from Heat creating chance for Dolphins and Canes. 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 says it all.

RioOTHER THAN CANOE SLALOM AND BADMINTON, WHAT SUMMER OLYMPICS SPORT INTERESTS YOU MOST?: Are you like me with the Summer Olympics? There are 39 sports, officially, and I don't pay attention to about 35 of them. Somewhere in Rio de Janeiro right now the U.S. could be going for the gold in canoe slalom. Whatever. Words never spoken: "You catch that South Korea-Australia badminton match last night?" I have identified and put to a poll vote what I'd call the five bell-cow sports that carry the Summer Games. I may be wrong. That's why God invented the "other" category. Take a dip in our poll, say which Rio Games sport most interests you, and check back often to monitor evolving results:

TinderTINDER SHOWS SOME LOVE FOR JOURNALISTS: Dating site Tinder just released its list of the most "right-swiped" jobs in Florida for men and women, the Tinder equivalent of approval or liking someone, and "Journalist" is No. 4 for men -- meaning that if my wife would allow me to date, I might have a shot. The esteem for my profession comes as a pleasant surprise, and in the wake of Donald Trump calling journalists "the most dishonest people in the world," which, as Ma used to say, is like the pot calling the kettle black. Notice that "CEO/Entrepreneur" also ranks high quite high on both lists. Hmm. If I ask someone what they do and they answer, "I'm an entrepreneur," the bulls--t bell goes off and I assume what they really mean is, "I'm currently unemployed, but I have a plan in place to become a billionaire."

KaayaUPDATED COLLEGE FOOTBALL ODDS FOR CANES, KAAYA: From Bovada today, not much love for the Miami Hurricanes, who now are 100-1 lonmgshots to win the national championship (tied for 28th), after being 66-1 immediately following last season. A huge reason is the high regard for ACC rivals and UM roadblocks Clemson and Florida State. Favorites nationally are Alabama at 6-1, LSU 7-1, Clemson 17-2, Michigan and Ohio State both 9-1, and Florida State 10-1. Heisman Trophy favorites are LSU RB Leonard Fournette at 4-1 and Clemson QB DeShaun Watson at 9-2. Canes QB Brad Kaaya (pictured) is tied for 16th at 33-1.

Poll result: Close call, but most think Marlins should sign A-Rod: We asked what best reflects your thoughts on whether the Marlins should sign a soon-to-be-available Alex Rodriguez, and it was 48.6 percent "Yes, yes. Do it!" and 44.9% "No. Please. No!" The other 6.5% were undecided.

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

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.

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June 01, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Year    Record     Coach            CWS MVP

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

1985   64-16       Ron Fraser     Miami DH Greg Ellena     

1999   50-13       Jim Morris     FSU 2B Marshall McDougall

2001   53-12       Jim Morris     Miami OF Charlton Jimerson

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

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

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May 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