GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It's WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7. Still celebrating our correct Eagles upset pick in the Super Bowl. Click The Historic Super Bowl the NFL Needs for my column, and Super Bowl Gem for my bull's-eye pick. 2) The Dolfans in your life may not know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our ultimate franchise history book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Eagles stun Patriots in Super Bowl, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.
ZACH THOMAS DESERVES TO BE IN THE HALL OF FAME: I thought this last year when his longtime Dolphins runningmate Jason Taylor breezed into Canton and Zach once again didn't even make it to the second round in voting. I especially thought it this past weekend when Brian Urlacher was elected in his first year of eligibility and Zach once again was shunned. In my latest column I make the case why Thomas' career stacks up well vs. both Taylor and Urlacher. Click on Dear Canton: Call Zach to read it.
THE 3 REASONS WHY JOSH MCDANIELS SNUBBED COLTS TO STAY WITH PATRIOTS: Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels decided to become the Indianapolis Colts next head coach, then changed his mind, embarrassing Indy. Why? 1) Robert Kraft despises the Colts, the team that ratted out New England over Deflategate, and ordered a financial offer to McDaniels that would keep him. 2) Tom Brady at 40 is healthier and still better than Andrew Luck at 28. And 3) McDaniels is now positioned as heir apparent to Bill Belichick in a way he was not previously.
A REASON TO LIKE THE MARLINS, SORT OF: Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill, former club president David Samson and Mr. Marlin, Jeff Conine, just ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. You might dislike the Marlins because of the Derek Jeter fire sale. You might dislike Samson because he was the right-hand man of unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria. But you must admire the extraordinary feat these people just accomplished. Click on 7-7-7 for the story. (Samson is pictured running in the sixth of seven marathons, on Sunday in Cartagena, Colombia).
THE NEW BACK IN MY DAY: FLYSWATTERS!: From today's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio:
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 30. A new Miami Herald Facebook page debuted last week. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century (and it includes a lot of vintage stuff from the late great Edwin Pope) makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Breaking down Hurricanes 2017 football schedule, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, latest 'Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.
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, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:
1. HEAT: Miami wins 7th straight while D-Wade, LeBron complain about their teams: Miami will bring a season-best seven-game win streak into tonight's home game vs. Brooklyn while prominent ex-Heaters Dwyane Wade and LeBron James complain publicly about their teams. The bad news? Even with seven wins in a row the Heat is now 18-30.
2. HORSE RACING: Arrogate dominant in first Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream: Horse racing is dying? Not Saturday it wasn't! The inaugural Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park was richest thoroughbred event ever in a 12-horse field running for a $12 million purse -- a race that Arrogate dominated in a ballyhooed showdown vs. rival California Chrome.
3. TENNIS: Serena, Federer win Australian Open finales: Sisters Serena and Venus Williams met for the 28th time and ninth in a major final on Saturday, with Serena earning a modern-record 23rd major title. Top that, guys? OK, how about Roger Federer, 35, beating Rafael Nadal as the oldest man in a Grand Slam final since 1974.
4. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men stun No.9 North Carolina: UM may be headed into the Top 25 at 14-6 after Saturday beating ninth-ranked North Carolina here, 77-62. Was it a fluke or are Canes really good? May have that answer Wednesday as UM hosts No. 6 Florida State.
5. NFL: It's Super Bowl Week as countdown to Falcons-Patriots begins: We are now six days until New England vs. Atlanta on Super Bowl Sunday. But first let's start with the real big game and undertake a detailed analytical breakdown of yesterday's Pro Bowl in Orlando. Just kiddin'!
6. RUNNING: Miami Marathon celebrates 15th year: Some 24,000 ran in weekend events culminating with Sunday's annual Miami Marathon. I'd give you the winners' names but neither one of us has heard of them so what' the point? I intended to run the marathon, but decided to sleep in and then eat a pound of bacon instead.
7. PANTHERS: Cats end four-game losing streak: Florida's 2-1 OT win over Tampa Bay ended a four-game slide and moved Florida within three points of NHL playoff pace through 50 games. Disappointing season so far, but maybe it won't stay that way?
8. BRENT MUSBURGER: Sports broadcasting icon retiring: Musburger will call his final game for ESPN -- LSU-Oklahoma basketball -- on Tuesday before retiring at age 77 after nearly 50 years in broadcasting. As another sports-TV great fades to black.
9. SOCCER: U.S. men start new era with friendly tie: U.S. hosted Serbia in a Sunday friendly in San Diego that ended a 0-0 draw in marking the debut of new coach Bruce Arena. The word for tying Serbia? Meh.
10. NHL: It's All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles: Do you care? Yeah, me neither. Although it probably was still better than the Pro Bowl.
Missing the HB10 cut: Four Hurricanes played in Saturday's Senior Bowl and two Dolphins are in today's Pro Bowl, and I just cannot decide which game interests me least ..... There is talk of a Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight. Christ! Do it or shut up about it! ..... In WWE, Sunday's Royal Rumble begins the annual road to WrestleMania. I can't wait to find out who they've decided is going to win! ..... The Winter X Games are underway in Aspen, or, as I like to call it, Slackers on Snowboards ..... ESPN's latest 30 For 30 documentary is titled, "This Was the XFL," certifying once and for all that ESPN has apparently run out of good idea.
FALCONS-PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN, AND WHO WILL WIN: We see things through different prisms, right? I am surrounded by Dolfans who tend to hate Tom Brady and call the nemesis New England Patriots cheaters, so I am inclined to think that, outside of Greater Boston and suburbs, all of America is rooting for the Atlanta Falcons to win next week's Super Bowl. Or, as much, rooting against Darth Belichick and the Pats. But is that right? I have two polls here. One asks who you want to win the Super Bowl. Vote with your heart. The other asks who you predict will win SB 51. Vote with your head, as if you to bet on one team, straight-up.
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 30. How great is this? Champion swimmer Michael Phelps, wearing Speedos and his Olympic medals, joined Arizona's State's "Curtain of Distraction" at a basketball game last night. 2) Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane guitarist and founding member, dead at 74. Man, all the old rockers are peeling away. 3) ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for the Fusion TV/LeBatard Show spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost: Canes '16 football schedule analysis, '72 Dolphins finally lose, UM basketball and baseball, #WomenNotObjects, activities book for Satanic children & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vineand Periscope.
"Anybody but me noticed that Heat limited partner Raanan Katz's name is pronounced 'rainin' cats'?" --Greg Cote
Word of the day: anorak: British slang for someone obsessively interested in something that doesn't seem to merit such attention. Example: "He's a bloody anorak for running those marathons, isn't he?"
Lust for power, control is who LeBron is: That's the theme of my recent column; click Chosen And In Charge to read. Email reaction has seen Heat fans generally loving the column and others (read: Clevelanders) not so much. I don't consider the column pro-Heat or anti-LeBron. I'm simply exploring how everything about LeBron's career makes believable the prevailing idea he had a hand in David Blatt's firing, and plausible the report that he also maneuvered to see Erik Spoelstra removed while in Miami.
IT'S ALL-STAR GAME SEASON, UNFORTUNATELY: Today's latest column by me centers on All-Star Game Season, with the NFL Pro Bowl and NHL All-Star Game both Sunday and the NBA's ASG two weeks later. The NBA has the best of those three, though that's faint praise. Baseball's July Midsummer Classic gets it closest to right, because of tradition and the fact the game matters. The Pro Bowl to me is the worst of them all -- mainly because the players themselves don't give a s---. In the other three sports players are honored to participate. Football players actively dream up reason to avoid the game, as I detail in the column. Click on The All-Star Shame to read in full. The poll asks you which of the big-four all-star games you think is the best one, although I could as easily have worded the question, "Which is the least bad." In this poll I challenge you to separate which sport you may prefer from which league presents its all-stars best.
Dolphins in 2016 NFL Pro Bowl: C Mike Pouncey was team's only actual, originally chosen all-star but will not play because of an alleged injury. Replacement players (quasi-Pro Bowlers) are OT Branden Albert and S Reshad Jones (Team Irvin) and WR/KR Jarvis Landry and CB Brent Grimes (Team Rice).
Panthers in 2016 NHL All-Star Game: F Jaromir Jagr won a fan vote to be Atlantic Division captain, and D Aaron Ekblad and G Roberto Luongo join him on team. Gerad Gallant will coach Atlantic team via Cats' first-place division standing.
Heat in 2016 NBA All-Star Game: G Dwyane Wade was voted in as an Eastern Conference starter. F Chris Bosh was selected as a reserve.
Marlins in 2015 MLB All-Star Game: OF Giancarlo Stanton and 2B Dee Gordon made the team.
DAN MARINO'S NEW SUPER BOWL AD: The Dolphins great and actor Alec Baldwin star in an upcoming Super Bowl ad for Amazon Echo. If you don't know it, Amazon Echo goes by the nickname, "Blatant Ripoff of Apple's Siri." Cute ad, though. Here it is:
THE UNHEALTHINESS OF IT WHEN RUNNING BECOMES AN OBSESSION: I've seen a couple of recent instances in my own newspaper. We in the media cover and write laudingly of people who have made a lifestyle of running marathons, of running in general, without noting how strange it is, and how unhealthy it seems from a mental standpoint when that practice evolves into an overriding obsession. One was the story of a 71-year Texas man who made the Miami Marathon the 1,606th he had competed in. Another was the story of a 35-year-old Massachusetts woman in the process of running in seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Both of those instances are wonderful to some, but weird to others of us. I wonder if the running-obsessed are able to step back and see what others see. The story on the woman noted she was a single mother. Hmm. I wonder why. Him: "Honey, can you take a few days off from that? I never see you anymore!" Her: "Love to chat, Bill, but I'm in training and need to get in 100 miles today." There is an inherent selfishness to running or any other obsession that takes command of one's lifestyle and life. Obsessed runners, evidently self-conscious of this and defensive about it, come up with fortune-cookie slogans like the ones pictured at left. Yes, because of course we unhealthy heathens who are not constantly training to run in 26.2-mile footraces -- we just don't understand! The rest of us are just a bunch of lazy fatties eating Cheetos on the couch, right? We're jealous!! Yeah that's it. Look, I'm not anti-running. I'm not even anti-obsession. Whatever floats your boat, as we used to say. I don't think the obsessed runner is any better or worse (or much different, for that matter) than the woman who lives with 45 cats or the guy who has been collecting stamps for 70 years. What I don't like is fawning media coverage that glowingly depicts these sneakered cultists as somehow better, as special. These Quixotic folks who literally cannot stop running -- they aren't bad people, no. But neither are they heroic as so often portrayed. They are just (and hopefully we can agree on this) people who have given their lives to running in a fitness pursuit now running their lives.
BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR THE '72 DOLPHINS: Yesterday we told you how, in a bracketed competition of all 49 Super Bowl winners by CBS Sports and Strat-O- Matic, the Perfect Season 1972 Dolphins were beaten in the round-of-16 by the 1992 Cowboys. Well, today, predictionmachine.com computers played all 49 champions against each other 50,000 times each, ranked the teams by overall winning percentage, and the '72 Dolphins were ranked only No. 9 overall (the '73 Fins were 22nd). Said Prediction Machine of the No. 9 ranking: "A perfect season is a special thing. Miami was the best team that year but being undefeated isn't enough to claim the top spot on this list. Don Shula's squad was good but not dominant. During its regular season run of excellence the Dolphins beat just two teams with a winning record. When we re-simulate Miami's 1972 schedule, the team would have just a 1.2 percent chance to win every game. The Dolphins would have to get lucky again for Mercury Morris to pop bottles of champagne." Ouch. By the way, the all-time top five SB champs are: 1--1999 Rams, 2--1985 Bears, 3--1989 49ers, 4--1996 Packers and 5--1979 Steelers. Update: Yet another humbling for the Class of '72: Safety Jake Scott is the lone Dolphin to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 26-man Golden Anniversary Super Bowl team out today.
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 27. Sofia Vergara topless in the current Vanity Fair. Just because. Click on image for enlarged version. 2) Thanks to MLB Radio Network's Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth for having me on this morning to talk Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' top low draft-picks poll, Ron Fraser statue, Fins draft, Jose Fernandez citizenship, hybrid animals & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Stanton avoiding rundown: Giancarlo Stanton avoiding that tag and sliding back safely to third may have been the key play of the game Sunday in the Marlins' fifth straight win. Click here to see it again.
On the Dolphins draft: Click on Intrigue At 14 for my latest column, previewing the Dolphins first-round draft options. This is not considered a great NFL Draft overall but could be for Miami.
WHAT HAS BEEN DOLPHINS' BEST UM HURRICANE DRAFT PICK?: First let's admit the pickings are slim. Dolphins have drafted 17 Miami Hurricanes over the years but few have amounted to much. We considered Jay Brophy, Bobby Harden and Randal Hill for this poll but they didn't rise to the level of the three finalists who made it: Tackle Vernon Carey and current Fins Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon. In voting, you must decide if Miller or Vernon already have surpassed Carey's career here or likely will. Whose career (completed or projected) would you take? Vote now and say why.
Latest on Canes in draft: NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah puts out his latest Top 50 prospects list today and Hurricanes are ranked 27th (OT Ereck Flowers), 34th (LB Denzel Perryman) and 47th (WR Phillip Dorsett). Based on likely draft slot he has Perryman ranked too high and Dorsett quite a bit too low. In fact Dorsett to the Dolphins at No. 14 falls into the cone of possibility.
HOT BUTTON APR. 26: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:
1. DOLPHINS: Fins up 14th Thursday in NFL Draft's first round: Will Miami draft Breshad Perriman or another receiver even though it just signed veteran Greg Jennings? Regardless of position the Dolphins say they want draftees who love football and have heart and great passion for the game. In other words, everything that 2013 No. 1 pick Dion Jordan seems to be lacking.
2. MARLINS: Five straight wins buoy Redmond, Fish: Five straight wins, the last three over Washington to begin nine-game homestand, have saved manager Mike Redmond from the firing line for now. Still, Fish need newly minted U.S. citizen Jose Fernandez back on the mound almost as much as Jeffrey Loria needs patience.
3. NBA: Cavs, Warriors, Wizards advance in lopsided first round: Cleveland and Washington joined Golden State in advancing past first-round with sweeps, and three of five series still in play are lopsided at 3-0 or 3-1 entering Monday's action. "Check back with me next round, maybe," said Game 7.
4. RON FRASER: Statue of UM baseball icon unveiled: UM dropped two of three at home to FSU, but bigger news was the Ron Fraser bronze-statue unveiling. Miami Herald considered commissioning a statue in honor of Greg Cote, reconsidered, and settled on a bobblehead.
5. MAY 2: Countdown 6 days 'til sports' mega-doubleheader: Next Saturday we have the Kentucky Derby kicking off horse racing's Triple Crown season and the Mayweather-Pacquaio fight to rival biggest events ever in boxing. I'm calling it "The Greatest Day In Sports History Not Involving A Ball."
6. NHL: Six of eight first-round playoff series decided: Six of eight opening-round series included all four in the West are over. Canada will have two teams (Calgary, Montreal) in the next round in bid to celebrate its first Canadian Stanley Cup win since 1993. "We know it won't happen," said Canada, "but we can dream, eh?"
7. NBA/CUBA: Silver admits "oops" on not informing Heat: NBA commish Adam Silver admitted he erred not advising Miami beforehand of league's plans for four-day goodwill trip to Cuba this week. His punishment should be listening to a roomful of Cuban-exile Heat fans share their thoughts on Fidel Castro.
8. BOSTON MARATHON: City and spirit win again: An Ethiopian man and a Kenyan woman won the 119th Boston Marathon, but everybody knows it now. Ever since the 2013 terrorist bombing, it is Boston's resolve and spirit that will always finish first, just ahead of whomever wins the race.
9. RUNNING: Record throng for annual Miami race: Almost 28,000 runners representing almost 900 companies flooded downtown Miami streets for the 30th Mercedes-Benz Corporate 5K Run. For the 30th straight year the race's best time was recorded by some idiot barreling past the runners in a Mercedes.
10. BRUCE JENNER: Former Olympic hero reveals he is becoming she: Former Olympic gold-medal decathlete Bruce Jenner officially revealed he is transitioning to a woman, effectively becoming America's new most prominent transgender. Hey nothing lasts forever, Chaz Bono.
Missing the cut: Dolphins regular-season schedule set; Tim Tebow signs with Eagles; Panthers' Aaron Ekblad an NHL rookie-of-year finalist; Cowboys' Greg Hardy suspended 10 games.
Poll result: Thomas, Clayton top Dolphins' all-time late-round draft finds: We gave you our choice of Miami's 12 best draft picks from the fifth round or lower and invited you to pick the top four. Your had it LB Zach Thomas with 25.4 percent, WR Mark Clayton 25.3%, S Jake Scott 16.0% and RB Jim Kiick 7.1%.
Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 20. It's 4-20, the unofficial national holiday when marijuana devotees celebrate their love of cannabis by smoking weed ... just like they do every other day of the year, but with a tad more ceremony today. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA playoffs preview and poll, Weighing The Fish (10 games), Dolphins preseason & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
TRUST PAT RILEY ... EXCEPT WHEN HE SAYS HE'S MADE PEACE WITH THE WAY LEBRON LEFT: My column off today's Riley postseason State of the Heat news conference is now posted online and you'd click In Riley We Trust to read it there. We posted it in advance here in its entirety, including an interesting, barely disguised shot at LeBron James, a passage underlined for emphasis below. The photo is by me from the news conference:
Pat Riley just turned 70. His hair has gone a natural silvery gray. He is at a point, in life and career, when a man begins to hear his mortality clock ever louder, to a point that reminders from elsewhere are neither required nor appreciated.
"People always are trying to make me older than I am," he mused with a small smile Monday in his annual season-ending State of the Heat news conference. "They’re trying to ask me, ‘Why are trying to stay around this game?’ I love the game. I love competition. I love the challenge of building this team again."
Riley is an NBA lifer in his 46th year in the league, and planning for his 21st season in Miami. He may be a newly minted septuagenarian, but he is convinced he has another championship ring -– at least one more -– in his future.
Do you doubt him?
We don’t trust much in South Florida sports or have a lot of faith right now, do we?
We don’t trust Jeffrey Loria owning the Marlins.
We have doubts about Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.
We see Panthers hockey forever trying our patience.
We feel eroding confidence in Canes football coach Al Golden.
There isn’t a lot at the top of our sports marquee that has earned our unequivocal trust.
But Riley has.
By his tenure and titles, by his track record, the wily Silver Fox has earned every confidence that the injury-marred, playoff-less season just past was a blip, an outlier. In the triumvirate of Riley, owner Micky Arison and coach Erik Spoelstraa, the Heat continue to be the unrivaled model for Miami sports.
"I challenge myself more than anybody else," he said, "to make sure what happened this year doesn’t happen again."
Do you doubt he is up to the challenge?
One year earlier, though in June, after Miami’s loss in the NBA Finals, Riley’s theme had been to pointedly challenge LeBron James to stay, saying, "You have to stay together if you got the guts. You don’t find the first door and run out of it."
Twenty-two days later James found the door marked ‘Cleveland’ and ran out of it.
Monday, Riley obviously was alluding to James and the timing and manner of his departure when he referred to having "no more smiling faces with hidden agendas" to deal with this time. Pressed on that he attempted a fast back-track by saying he could have meant "anyone across the board," though it was obvious who he meant.
I later asked Riley directly if he is at peace with the way James left.
"Yes, absolutely," he said. "I’m at peace with it."
I think he was being smarter than he was truthful. In any case Riley is wise to set aside if not bury the LeBron animus, at least publicly, and portray a man not lamenting, but looking forward.
There is much to look forward to.
Center Hassan Whiteside, forwards Chris Bosh and Luol Deng and guards Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic -– that is a starting five you can win with. With good health, and added depth including another 3-point shooter or two, that is a starting five you can contend with.
"You would like to have seen that team intact for just one game," Riley said. "We didn’t get to see that. It was a real disappointing year in terms of setbacks."
Riley portrayed being able to re-sign Dragic as a near-certainty.
"If he doesn’t sign, my ass is going to be in that seat next year and I’ll be writing," he joked, pointing at reporters. "We’re in a very good position to offer him more than anybody else."
Dragic and Bosh are all-star caliber. So, still, is Wade, who has shown an ability to offset advancing age with efficiency. Whiteside could become a powerhouse, what Riley called "a formidable presence in the offense." Deng is the selfless do-it-all guy every team needs. The return of Josh McRoberts to the rotation will be big. Guys like Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem still fill a valuable role.
There is little doubt that Miami –- even with all of the injuries and Bosh’s blood clots and the 30 different starting lineups -– still should have made the playoffs but for a late swoon.
"I told Eric [Spoelstra] to go beat himself up for a week," Riley said, maybe half-kidding. "And if he didn’t want to, I’d help him."
Riley remains a huge Spoelstra supporter and believer, but also an enormous asset.
"I’ve been in that trench before," as Riley put it. "I see everything. He knows I see everything."
The club’s president and architect has seen enough, and accomplished enough, that Heat fans should have little doubt he’ll see this franchise back into the playoffs next season, and soon back into championship contention.
It is hard to not have doubts about many of our biggest South Florida sports teams right now.
It is hard to trust and have faith in who is in charge and leading those teams.
Pat Riley makes it easy.
WHAT POSITION SHOULD DOLPHINS TARGET IN FIRST ROUND?: It's the night of April 30. Dolphins are on the clock at No. 14 in the first round. There are comparably talented and rated players available at the positions Miami has targeted. So, what to do? Wide receiver seems to be the position earmarked for Fins in a lot of early mock drafts and analysis. It's a glamour position -- though also won pretty well-stocked, by my eye. Would cornerback or linebacker be a smarter option? (Yes, guard also is a need, but no OG is seen as 1R-worthy this year). So you tell me. Vote and say why.
Poll result: Warriors, then Spurs your pick for NBA title: Golden State (37.3 percent) and San Antonio (31.6%) dominated third-place Cleveland (15.3%) when we asked who'd win the NBA championship. Hmm. Anti-LeBron bias, perhaps? Atlanta was a distant fourth with 6.2%.
HOT BUTTON APR. 19: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, newly updated. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:
1. NBA: No Heat, but NBA playoffs begin anyway: With Dwyane Wade and Miami on outside for first time since 2008, NBA playoffs began this weekend with LeBron James’ Cleveland and Steph Curry’s Golden State the betting co-favorites and both off to 1-0 series leads. Meantime, Miami somehow lost its playoff spot to Boston and Brooklyn even though it was 7-1 against them. "SMH," said Heat fans, shaking their heads.
2, MARLINS: Fish swept by Mets, rough start to season tests optimism: Dee Gordon is way-hot and Giancarlo Stanton set the club record for career homers, but little else has gone right in team's 3-10 after Sunday' loss and sweep by Mets. Miami doesn't play today. The ways things are going, Marlins will lose the off-day.
3. DOLPHINS: Fins ponder options as NFL Draft nears: Countdown is 10 days now until first round, with speculation growing that Miami likely will take a receiver or cornerback 14th overall. Then again, there also looms the anticlimactic possibility of a trade down.
4. LEGAL SYSTEM: Ex-Patriot Hernandez guilty of murder: Aaron Hernandez will serve life in prison, after jurors said they were “shocked” defense lawyer James Sultan admitted Hernandez witnessed the murder even though no testimony or evidence had placed him at the scene. Opposing defenses were seldom a problem for Hernandez, but apparently his own defense was.
5. NHL: Stanley Cup playoffs start without Cats (again): The hockey postseason is underway, and many experts see the New York Rangers as favorites to win their first Stanley Cup since 1994. That was one year after a team from Canada last won it all, a now-22-year drought for the birthplace of hockey. Modified national anthem to play at arenas during playoffs: Oh No, Canada.
6. BOSTON MARATHON: Iconic race is Monday, two years later: The 119th running will be today for the race struck by the 2013 terrorist bombing that killed three and wounded 264. The sentencing for convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins Tuesday. Is it too late to invent a sentence worse than death?
7. POLITICS: NBA visits Cuba this week: NBA will conduct a developmental camp in Cuba this Thursday through Sunday. That's against the Heat's wishes, on the face of it, although Micky Arison's Carnival cruise line would benefit greatly from an open port and tourism in Cuba.
8. GOLF: Next Tiger? Spieth wins Masters, electrifies sport: Jordan Spieth, 21, impressively won the Masters and immediately I saw a poll asking whether Spieth would shatter the record by surpassing 20 career major wins. Tap brakes, please. Talking 20 majors after No. 1 is like mentioning the Cy Young Award on Opening Day after the pitcher retires the side in the top of the first.
9. PANTHERS: Florida slotted for 11th pick: NHL draft lottery determined the Panthers will select 11th in the draft they will host in Sunrise on June 26, after the league rejected Florida's proposal that, this year only, the draft host gets the overall No.1 pick.
10. FIU: Golden Panthers wrap spring practice: FIU, seeking its first winning season since 2011, drew a couple of hundred fans for its Spring Game, which was only about 99,000 fewer than Ohio State.
Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...
1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 25. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Is-Dwyane Wade-still-elite poll, Marlins sign Ichiro, Riley descends from mount, Marino dipped in wax, Bob Dylan & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
OUR LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH ALL-STAR GAMES: The NFL and NHL play their annual all-star games today and the NBA's is soon so this is the right time to ask which of our Big Four sports' all-star games you think is the best -- or, perhaps, the least awful. They all are flawed, which is why the formats are always tinkered with. We spend a lot of time complaining about the selection process. The games don't draw great TV ratings. Each is decorated with surrounding events (home run derbies, slam-dunk contests) because the All-Star Game itself is not a great sell on its own. Nevertheless, chances are you think one if better than the rest. So which is it and why? Remember, this is not a favorite-sport poll. It is asking specifically which one has the best All-Star Game. Vote now.
Poll result: Mixed views (but doubts) on whether Wade still "elite": We asked in the previous blogpost if Heat star Dwyane Wade, at 33, remains an "elite" player by however you define that (you may still vote), and it was 51.6 percent "no," 40.1% "yes" and 8.3% "undecided."
HOT BUTTON JAN. 25: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:
1. NFL: "Deflategate” dominates buildup to Super Bowl: It’ll be New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks next Sunday in the 49th Super Bowl, but the buildup has become an NFL nightmare with the Pats’ underinflated-footballs controversy. At least attention is diverted away from whether Marshawn Lynch will be fined again for grabbing his crotch. So from either angle, it's all about balls!
2. HEAT: Wade’s streak of All-Star Game starts ends: Forbes surprised many when its rank of best NBA fans had Miami No. 1. That was just before Heat fans allowed Dwyane Wade’s streak of nine All-Star Game starts in a row to end as a late flurry of votes by Toronto fans pushed Kyle Lowry ahead. No word on whether Forbes will now reconfigure its fan rankings.
3. MARLINS: Active offseason continues as Fish add Ichiro: With the Feb. 20 start of spring training looming, the Marlins continued an active and successful offseason by signing 10-time All-Star Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year contract as a fourth outfielder. Granted, Ichiro is 41 now and this signing would be more exciting if it were 2005, not ’15. But still!
4. ALL-STAR GAMES: NFL, NHL stars showcased Sunday: Hockey’s All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, and football's Pro Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, have more in common than the fact both are being played Sunday and each has undergone format changes. For example, they are also alike in that the leagues act like they are big deals but fans don’t care all that much.
5. RUNNING: Annual Miami Marathon stampedes from downtown: OK, you got me. Nobody is talking about this except the runners themselves. But there were some 25,000 of those setting off early Sunday in the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon starting at 6:15 a.m. Too bad it’s not in South Beach so the runners could stampede over all the drunks leaving SoBe clubs at about that time.
6. DOLPHINS: Ross touts stadium renovations: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pimped a $350 million stadium renovation designed to attract Super Bowls and other biig events. Dear Steve: The only change in the stadium Dolfans care about is a winning team in it.
7. HURRICANES: Former player donates $1.6 million: UM men's basketball won a big game at Syracuse but a bigger story off-the-field was ex-Canes football star Calais Campbell donating $1.6 million to school's athletic department, biggest gift ever by a former UM athlete. Perpetually complaining, dissatified Hurricanes fans said it wasn't enough.
8. BASEBALL: Manfred takes over as MLB commissioner: Rob Manfred is on the job as of Sunday as Bud Selig retires. Selig had a great run other than the Steroids Era happening under his nose. Much as Nixon was a pretty great president other than Watergate.
9. GOLF: Allenby, Woods in strange controversies: Robert Allenby claimed he was beaten, robbed and dumped in a park six miles from a bar, but his story unraveled. Tiger Woods claimed he lost a front tooth to a swinging TV camera but nobody seemed to believe that, either.
10. FIU: Veteran coach Russo retires: Cindy Russo retired after 36 years as FIU's women's basketball coach. Perspective? That's 10 years longer than that slacker Don Shula coached the Dolphins.
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1) It is FRIDAY, APRIL 25. I'm holed up at Random Evidence Laboratories today craft-brewing Sunday's notes-column package. It's hoppy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Charlotte G2, Arison's guarantee, Heat in Game of Thrones, Bobcat Jesus, Jose Fernandez, Meb Keflezighi, Rubin (Hurricane) Carter & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.
Heat not satisfied with McRoberts fine for LeBron mugging: Charlotte's Josh McRoberts was fined $20,000 yesterday by the NBA for a flagrant 2 foul in Game 2 when his forearm struck LeBron James' throat. McMuggerts is lucky; he should have been suspended for Saturday's Game 3 in Charlotte. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra agreed, saying today, "We disagree with this," meaning just a fine. James said today he is "frustrated" by the pounding he takes but won't retaliate. "This isn't the 1980s," he noted.
DOLPHINS ICON EARL MORRALL DEAD AT 79: Quarterback Earl Morrall, who had such a big hand in the Dolphins' 1972 Perfect Season, died this morning in Naples, Fla. after years of declining health. Morrall replaced injured starter Bob Griese in '72 and led the team to nine straight victories and two more in the playoffs before being replaced by Griese in the Super Bowl. Morrall was 38 when Don Shula brought him to Miami in '72. He would start only 12 games over five seasons, but his role in Miami's historic 17-0 season was enough to make him a franchise icon and forge a unique legacy. I have a column on Morrall that is newly online -- click on The Perfect Quarterback to read -- and shipping to Saturday's inky pulp editions.
RANKING DOLPHINS SCHEDULE 1-THROUGH-16 ON GAME WATCHABILITY: I scan the Dolphins' newly released 2014 schedule, weighing the caliber of each opponent and factoring in home/away, and at first glance I come up with a most-likely record of 8-8. Which means another of those 9-7 to 7-9 range, Stealers Wheel/"Stuck In The Middle With You" seasons may be ahead. NOOOOOOO! The Dolphins have turned into Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Just below there's a poll inviting you to name the Dolphins home game you are most looking forward to. First here's my ranking of all 16 games, not chronologically but 1-through-16 based on watchability and anticipation:
1. Sept. 7 vs. Patriots: Start with division power. No soft-opening here!
2. Nov. 23 @ Broncos: Sorry, I meant to say @ Peyton Manning.
3. Dec. 28 vs. Jets: Season-ender could have playoff stakes for Fins.
4. Dec. 1 @ Jets: Bitter rival. Monday night lights. Any questions?
5. Oct. 12 vs. Packers: Joe Philbin's old team. Oh, and Aaron Rodgers.
6. Dec. 14 @ Patriots: Pack the longjohns. Battle for AFC East crown?
7. Sept. 28 @ Raiders: Wembley in London is why it's interesting.
8. Nov. 13 vs. Bills: Will game live up? It's prime-time Thursday.
9. Dec. 21 vs. Vikings: Adrian Peterson's first career game in Miami.
10. Dec. 7 vs. Ravens: Post-Ray Lewis and off 8-8, BAL not what it was.
11. Oct. 19 @ Bears: Storied opponent, and Soldier Field is still special.
12. Sept. 21 vs. Chiefs: Amply fed Andy Reid had KC 11-5 last year.
13. Nov. 2 vs. Chargers: One of those season-altering tossup games.
14. Sept. 14 @ Bills: Pretty rough when highlight is Ralph Wilson tribute.
15. Nov. 9 @ Lions: Winnable roadie. But pack pass defense for trip.
POLL: WHAT DOLPHINS HOME GAME INTERESTS YOU THE MOST?: Life is full of tough choices, Dolfan. It's a fairly attractive home schedule, and you can only pick the one game you are most looking forward to. Games are listed chronologically. Vote and say why:
NBA SHOULD HAVE PENALIZED LEBRON-MUGGER JOSH "JESUS" McROBERTS: That hard forearm to the throat of LeBron James late in last night's 101-97 Heat playoff win merited a suspension or at least a fine of Charlotte's Josh McRoberts, who we noted in a previous blogpost looks like Jesus. Instead he was fined $20K, which to most NBA players is loose change under the sofa cushion. No flagrant foul was called but the NBA reviewed the play today and called it a flagrant 2. The good news for Miami? The only player better than LeBron is LeBron, angry, and that play could be the spark Miami needs as it heads to Charlotte for two games starting Saturday. The Heat, though up 2-0, has yet to play exceptionally well in the postseason. Click on Do Not Rile the King for my column off last night's win.
Heat Postseason MVP Standings (through 2 games): Entering Game 3 Saturday: LeBron James 5 points, Dwyane Wade 4, Chris Bosh 2, James Jones 1. (We name 'Heat 3 Stars' every game and award points on a 3-2-1 basis).
ON MIAMI CORPORATE RUN: The annual Miami Corporate Run displaced and greatly inconvenienced thousands of motorists was contested yesterday on downtown streets. I have noticed that runners are prone to making a public display of their obsession, as with competing en masse and also with those bragadocious, I'm-fitter-than-you '26.2' and '13.1' car decals. Anyway, the winner of last evening's race, pictured front right, was a Mr. James Harden, 24, from Houston, Tex.
IN RAPT APPRECIATION OF FIU SAND VOLLEYBALL: The FIU sand volleyball team has earned its first trip to the nationals. We mention that here as a gratuitous excuse to show you the team's more-interesting-than-usual team schedule poster. Sand volleyball is like regular volleyball, but on a beach, or sand made to seem like a beach. What's not to like?
LORDE'S "ROYALS" GETS SPRINGSTEENIZED:
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1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23. King Sport unleashes its 2014 schedule in an NFL Network show tonight. It's much ado about not much considering teams' opponents already are known, and tonight just attaches dates. 2) Record Store Day just passed. Support your local indie music shop. Long live vinyl! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Charlotte preview and Game 1, Typepad issues hold blog hostage & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.
Blog note about recent issues: You know how you never really stop to appreciate how good you feel until you're sick? I go forth with renewed appreciation for the simple act of being able to post in this blog whenever I wish. That was taken away for several recent days as Typepad fought denial-of-service cyber attacks. Thanks for the patience and understanding, all.
G2: HEAT 101, CHARLOTTE 97: NARROW ESCAPE AS LEBRON NETS 32: LeBron James' game-high 32 points lifted Miami tonight in a narrow escaoe for a 2-0 series lead. Chris Bosh had 20 including some clutch shots late. Dwyane Wade was off offensively (4-for-10 shooting, 15 points) but had a victory-sealing steal with 1.2 seconds left. A very hard foul against James by Josh McRoberts with just under a minute left was not called a flagrant but will be subject to league review and possible discipline. Maybe that play is what is needed to fire up the Heat, which has not shown its best or most intense effort these first two games of the postseason. ..... Game 2 Heat Players of the Game: 1. James, 2. Bosh, 3. Wade (edging the early spark of Mario Chalmers). ..... Original post: Tonight's Game 2 of the Heat-Charlotte first-round series is the 100th home playoff game in Heat history. (Hallmark make a card for that?) More important, it's likely to be the stage for Miami taking 2-0 series command following that 99-88 opening win on Sunday and before the series swings up to North Carolina for Game 3 Saturday night. Mario Chalmers (shin) is game-time decision for Miami tonight. More significantly, Bobcats star Al Jefferson (foot) says he'll play but surely will be limited. Charlotte is 13-4 following losses since mid-January, but a far weightier 17-game sample is that Miami has won 17 in a row over Charlotte including five this season. Dwyane Wade's continued progress will be a watch-point again tonight after an encouraging and efficient 23-point game in the opener. He referred to himself Tuesday as still "working my way back." It'll also be interesting to see if James Jones' heroics off the bench in Game 1 (12 points in 14 minutes) was a one-off thing or portends a steady rotation role.
Heat Postseason MVP Standings (through 1 game): Entering Game 2 tonight: Dwyane Wade 3 points; LeBron James 2; James Jones 1. (We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis).
HEAT OWNER SORT OF GUARANTEES RETURN OF BIG 3, ALMOST!: Well, he did. Sort of. Not that he can be sure, really. So this might be big news, or it might not be news at all. Welcome to Journalism 2014, where sometimes news can be a casual aside in a Tweet, and sometimes it can be Micky Arison, on ESPN Radio Monday, answering, "100 percent," when host Dan Le Batard asked the Heat's owner for a percentage likelihood "this thing stays together next season." (Dan didn't say what he was referring to, but all know This Thing meant the Big 3 era). Micky (pictured far right with Pat Riley) could have said "we're hopeful" or some other vaguary but he took Le Batard's bait with the one percentage that sounds like all but a guarantee. The one problem: Whatever Micky thinks in April is trumped by whatever LeBron James thinks and decides this summer. Clearly nothing about this is 100 percent, but I don't think Arison is far off in his optimism. If Miami wins a third straight NBA title it almost guarantees the Big 3 stays intact. If Miami falls short I think the likeliest scenario is that the Big 3 all extend for one more season with the option to test free agency in 2015. I'd put that likelihood at a solid, um, 78.4 percent.
Heat = Lannisters in NBA Game of Thrones: I don't watch HBO's Game of Thrones. But I know many do, and may enjoy this piece drawing parallels between the popular show and the 2014 NBA playoffs. Pat Riley is cast as Tywin Lannister and his team as the Lannisters, which must mean something to somebody.
Bobcats enlist Jesus, fail anyway: The Charlotte Bobcats, who ran like hell from the depravity of South Beach after their Game 1 loss, fell in the opener despite Jesus playing for the team. And on Easter no less! (I'm surprised this was not a bigger national story, and thanks to Twitter follower @mancard1 for pointing it out to me). Jesus, pictured right, scored 15 points in the 99-88 Miami win while playing under the earthly name "Josh McRoberts."
MARLINS POSITIVITY: Miami is 10-11 right now after Jose Fernandez's 14-strikeout gem last night, but only six teams in MLB have a better run-differential than the Marlins' plus-12. As for Fernandez's dominance, see The List directly below.
THE LIST: KID K, JOSE FERNANDEZ: Fernandez so far in his young career averages 10.307 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. The only two pitchers in history to average more are Randy Johnson (10.610) and Kerry Wood (10.317). How Fernandez ranks in strikeouts-per-inning vs. the eight pitchers with 500-plus career strikeouts for the Marlins:
Pitcher K's-per-Inning Strikeouts / Innings
Jose Fernandez 1.145 234 / 204.1
Josh Beckett 0.997 607 / 609.0
Josh Johnson 0.908 832 / 916.2
A.J. Burnett 0.882 753 / 853.2
Anibal Sanchez 0.851 676 / 794.1
Ryan Dempster 0.827 628 / 759.2
Ricky Nolasco 0.817 1001 / 1225.2
Dontrelle Willis 0.740 757 / 1022.2
Brad Penny 0.729 570 / 781.2
YES, MEBRAHTOM KEFLEZIGHI IS AN AMERICAN: The Boston Marathon ran in peace Monday one year after the terrorist bombings -- a triumph of American resolve and spirit -- and, fittingly, in the storybook style sports so often delivers, an American man won for the first time since 1983. The American is named Mebrahtom "Meb" Keflezighi, and you could almost hear a million Americans snorting, "What!? That's no American!" Well, Meb emigrated from his native Eritrea in 1987 at age 12. (I know. Eritrea sounds like the dog in Scooby Doo mispronouncing a word, but it's a small country in the horn of Africa). Anyway, Keflezighi is now 38, living and raising a family in San Diego, and a U.S. citizen. His is a very American story, and a particularly sweet one for this year's Boston race. Congrats, Mebster!
R.I.P., RUBIN (HURRICANE) CARTER, 1937-2014: He was the former middleweight boxer who was framed, wrongly convicted of murder and spent 19 years in prison before his conviction was overturned. He died this week in Toronto. His story was the subject of the Bob Dylan song, "Hurricane," which we offer below. This is not Dylan singing (sorry), but is briefer than the original, includes lyrics (some adult language) and well-represents the tale.
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