July 27, 2015

Harvard (yes, Harvard) says Dolphins will make Super Bowl; plus Zoran Dragic, latest Hot Button Top 10 with Fins, Marlins, Heat, Canes, Cooperstown, Froome, Cowherd, soccer, Pan Am; also Stanton-Tannehill and Cosby-O.J. verdicts & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 27. Heat today reportedly have traded Zoran Dragic to Boston -- with the blessing of brother Goran. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's Next poll (Stanton vs. Tannehill), Al Golden's Kumbaya Manifesto, Dolphins among Top 100 players, Fall From Grace poll, U.S. men's shame, Weighing The Fish & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Sunday at Cooperstown: It was one of baseball's most illustrious inductions days. ICYMI, click here to see the four plaques, hear the tribute videos and watch the induction speeches.

HARVARD STUDY FORECASTS DOLPHINS IN SUPER BOWL. NO, SERIOUSLY: OK, Dolfans. You wanted a foundation (I mean beyond the law of averages) for your optimism about this coming season? You got it. 1aa1asb50A study by the brainiacs at Harvard University forecasts a Seattle-Miami Super Bowl. This is via the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, a student-run organization "dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management." In this study, researcher Kurt Bullard used Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, the site’s measure of comparing individual talent. Then Bullard, using ESPN’s NFL depth charts, aggregated each team’s per-game Approximate Value of what he judged the "core" makeup of a team: QB, RB, 2 WR, TE, top 2 OL, top 4 "front seven" defenders and top 2 players from secondary. Click here for details of the study and the complete list of how teams ranked. The study lists AFC East playoff likelihood as Dolphins 77 percent, Patriots 62%, Jets 56% and Bills 43%. Here are the study's projected eight AFC and NFC playoff teams based on overall ratings:

AFC: Dolphins 145 points, Chiefs 142, Patriots 141, Broncos 137, Jets 134, Colts 133, Bills 133, Steelers 132. NFC: Seahawks 166, Packers 154, Lions 136, Giants 126, Eagles 125, Cowboys 123, Falcons 120, Saints and Cardinals (tried) 119.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) 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: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open training camp in three days: Team assembles on Wednesday and practices for first time on Thursday as lid lifts on club's 50th anniversary season. Joe Philbin will remind players they're there to win a championship. Um, yeah so will 31 other NFL head coaches. Question is whether Miami will be among the handful that actually might.

2. MARLINS: Fish return home (finally!) as trade deadline looms: Off a 3-7 road grind, Marlins are back Tuesday vs. Nationals with Jose Fernandez pitching, Miami's first home game in 16 days. Meantime team traded defrocked closer Steve Cishek to Cards for a minor-leaguer with more deals likely before July 31 deadline. In other words, there's 60-plus games left, but season is over,

3. HURRICANES: UM sees "accountability" as football nears: Al Golden is talking up intangibles like accountability and leadership as UM nears Aug. 6 start of practice. "One heartbeat," he says. Call it Camp Kumbaya. Now if Canes can just replace Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman and four other NFL draftees, they might be OK.

4. BASEBALL: Pitchers lead incoming Hall of Fame class: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, who combined for 735 wins, joined Craig Biggio in the latest Hall of Fame induction class Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y. Johnson stood out. The 10-time All-Star won 303 games, struck out 4,875 and is sport's all-time career leader in mullets.

5. HEAT: Miami trades Napier to Magic: Heat yesterday dealt second-year guard Shabazz Napier to Orlando Magic for a second-round draft pick. Miami would have much preferred Magic take Mario Chalmers (and his salary). Chalmers and/or Birdman Andersen may yet be traded. 

6. CYCLING: Froome zooms to Tour de France victory: Great Britain's Chris Froome won his second Tour de France in the 102nd running of the event beset by recent doping scandals. How boring. Why couldn't the upset winner have been some 9-year-old kid riding a beat-up Schwinn with baseball cards flapping in the spokes?

7. COLIN COWHERD: ESPN removes radio host over comments: ESPN booted radio host Colin Cowherd from its air after widespread criticism met his suggestion that Dominican baseball players lacked intelligence. Maybe Cowherd saw that making idiotic, insulting statements seemed to be working for Donald Trump and thought he’d give it a try, too!

8. BASEBALL: Hamels tosses no-hitter as pitchers steal season spotlight: Phillies' Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs Saturday, surely boosting his trade value. Meantime Dodgers aces Zack Greinke (43 2/3) and Clayton Kershaw (29) entered the weekend with 72 2/3 combined shutout innings in a row, though Greinke's streak ended Sunday at 45 2/3. Batters, ya'll need some Viagra for those bats! (Well, except Alex Rodriguez, who hit three homers Saturday).

9. GOLF: It's 'The American Year' on PGA Tour: Zach Johnson's British Open win last Monday, following Jordan Spieth's Masters and U.S. Open triumphs, means 2015 could be the first year since 1982 that U.S. golfers win all four majors. Too bad this sport and its “Quiet Please” signs frown upon a good, loud “U.S.A!” chant.

10. SOCCER: No U.S., but there was Gold Cup final, anyway: Philadelphia hosted Mexico's 3-1 win over Jamaica in CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer final last night -- hardly the championship match expected. Jamaica stunned the U.S in one semifinal and Mexico lucked to beat Panama in the other thanks to outrageous penalty-kick calls.

Missing the HB10 cut: U.S. won medals count as Pan American Games ended Sunday in Toronto. Pan Am Games are best known for drinking heavily and undergoing years of therapy from being lost in shadow of the bigger, more prestigious Olympic Games. ..... Pro Football Hall of Fame, in apparent effort to make itself seem heartless and small, refuses to let Junior Seau's family speak at next month’s posthumous induction ..... Wednesday is “Writers Night” at Marlins Park, with contest-winning fans watching game in company of Miami Herald sportswriters. One person will then be chosen for Grand Prize: Getting to ditch the writers and return to his regular seat ..... Annual WNBA All-Star Game was Saturday and MLS all-stars play Wednesday. Still intact: My incredible personal record of having never watched a single second of either. ..... U.S. Department of Justice drops 10-year investigation of Barry Bonds with no ultimate conviction. Hmm. Why do people keep saying the government wastes so much money?

Poll result: Stanton beats Tannehill for top-tier potential: We asked whether Giancarlo Stanton or Ryan Tannehill was more likely, 10 years from now, to be considered in Dan Marino/Dwyane Wade territory as an all-time great, beloved Miami sports star, and the Marlins slugger beat the Dolphins quarterback by 54.7 percent to 45.3%.

Poll result: O.J. edges Cosby for biggest fall from grace: It was one of the closest results we've ever seen. We asked whether Bill Cosby or O.J. Simpson had the bigger, more notorious fall from grace, and the dubious "winner" was O.J. with 51.5 percent to Cosby's 48.5%.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 24, 2015

Who's Next: Stanton or Tannehill? New poll. Vote now!; plus Grantland on Dolphins, Al Golden's Kumbaya Manifesto, Kaaya and ex-Cane honored, Cosby or O.J?, Marino-Wade/Riley-Shula verdicts, U.S. men's shame, 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

1aa1ariquna1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 25. Nice honors for a Hurricane and ex-Cane: Brad Kaaya is one of 30 named to preseason Manning Award watch list for nation's top college QB. And Riquna Williams (of Tulsa Shock, pictured) becomes first Cane ever named to WNBA All-Star Game. 2) Dolphins announced undrafted rookie offensive tackle Mickey Baucus out of Arizona will retire. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's Greatest polls: Marino vs. Wade and Riley vs. Shula, experts analyze/rate Tannehill, Golden speaks, MLS-in-Miami enthusiasm verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

"Martin Van Buren died 153 years ago yesterday. Wasn't a great U.S. president, but is credited with popularizing the word OK, also spelled O.K. or okay."  --Greg Cote

1aa1adandonPoll results: Shula beats Riley, Marino edges Wade: In the ultimate Miami Greatness heavyweight bouts, we asked who has had the greater career in South Florida, and the two Dolphins stalwarts withstood the two Heat challengers. Dan Marino edged Dwyane Wade for greatest Miami athlete by 52.7 percent to 47.3%, while Don Shula beat Pat Riley more easily for best coach/executive, 59.9% to 40.1%. Wade and Riley led early in voting but could not sustain that momentum.

WHO'S NEXT: STANTON OR TANNEHILL: In my latest column I propose that Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill stand out among current Miami pro athletes 1aa1adolmarlwith the best chance to someday reach the Dan Marino/Dwyane Wade echelon of all-time great and beloved South Florida sports stars. No that they will; that they have a shot. Click on Race For The Mountaintop to read the full column. Stanton can do it with sheer home-run power and awesome individual skills. Tannehill's path is to end a four-decades-plus drought and deliver to Dolfans another Super Bowl championship. Am curious which of these two rising stars you think -- 10 years from now -- has a better chance to be judged in that Marino/Wade company. You'll note the poll includes no option for "Neither" or "Somebody else," because we're simply wondering which of these two leading candidates has the better chance. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Advice for Marlins, Dolphins: Click on Right Time To Be Smart Sellers for this week's earlier column on the Marlins at the trade deadline, and on Get The Missing Piece for our call for the Dolphins to sign free agent guard Evan Mathis.

THREE DOLPHINS MAKE GRANTLAND'S TOP 100 PLAYERS: ESPN's respected Grantland offshoot names its Top 100 current NFL players, and Dolphins on it are DT Ndamukong Suh (26th), CB Brent Grimes (67th) and DE Cam Wake (86th). Thought Suh might be a bit higher. In the rest of the AFC East: the three Patriots to make it are QB Tom Brady (4th), TE Rob Gronkowski (14th) and S Devin McCourty (46th). The three Jets are CB Darrelle Revis (12th), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (38th) and DL Sheldon Richardson (71st). Four Bills make it: DT Marcell Dareus (39th), DLs Kyle Williams (74th) and Mario Williams (85th) and RB LeSean McCoy (90th). Top five overall are Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, J.J. Watt, Brady and Peyton Manning.

ON AL GOLDEN's 'KUMBAYA MANIFESTO': Miami Hurricanes football, around the corner now, is coming off a 6-7 season, lost seven top players to the NFL Draft and is forecast for another six-win-type season 1aa1aalgoldenbased on Vegas over/unders. Reasons for encouragement? Quarterback Brad Kaaya, for one. Also, a
wide-open (read: winnable) ACC Coastal Division, and an experienced defense despite the attrition. I think UM could be a pleasant surprise. Coach Al Golden's preseason mantra interests me, though. He's all about the intangibles, embodied by his saying, "We have one heartbeat now." I coin the phrase "Kumbaya Manifesto" because Golden boasts of a "very team-oriented group," mentions "a lot of trust" and "a bond." Stresses stuff like "focus" and "accountability." (Many may know that Kumbaya is an old spiritual song that has come to stand, somewhat cynically, for a 
naively optimistic view of a situation or of human nature). Golden, pictured at 17, showed a predilection for touchy/feely in his high-school yearbook quote: "Each dream in your heart lies within reach if you just believe in yourself." There have been implications that last year's 6-7 Canes disappointment was due at least partly to a team not believing in itself, a team suffering from selfishness and a lack of leadership -- and Golden has sought to make clear that such cancers have been eradicated. We'll see how important that is. A tight lockerroom and a team singing Kumbaya in harmony is good. Adequately replacing Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett and Denzel Perryman is even better.

 

FALL FROM GRACE POLL: COSBY OR O.J?: We were debating this on the radio show Tuesday, with fair argument on either side. Has celebrated football star O.J. Simpson or beloved actor Bill Cosby had the bigger, more notorious fall from grace? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

1aa1ajkU.S. MEN EMBARRASS AMERICA: Just a couple of weeks after Americans celebrated the U.S. triumph in the
Women's World Cup, the U.S. men's team shamed itself and American soccer fans Wednesday night in a 2-1 Gold Cup semifinal loss to underdog Jamaica. The squad of coach Jurgen Klinsmann, pictured, had the home field advantage (game was in Atlanta), a near flawless history vs. the "Reggae Boyz" and allegedly the better team -- all for naught. U.S. men had slipped to No. 34 in the FIFA World Ranking even before last night. The notion they might duplicate the women's international success anytime soon seems ludicrous today, alas. (Mexico beat Panama in the other Gold Cup semi, thanks to an outrageous Call of God penalty-kick gift).

WEIGHING THE FISH (90 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this 1aa1afishweighyear we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race drawn somewhat closer by the Stanton and Gordon injuries. The numbers below might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 90 games (actually 95 at 40-55; oops yet again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @80

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                324.7    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   279.6   3

4  Christian Yelich        228.2   6

5  Jacob Realmuto         222.1    7

6  Martin Prado              216.1   5

7  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   4

8  Justin Bour                 191.1   8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              157.5   9

10  Michael Morse          112.4   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 6, Gordon 2.

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July 22, 2015

Marino vs. Wade. Riley vs. Shula: The Ultimate Miami Greatness Polls. Both close. Vote now!; plus Al Golden speaks, experts analyze Tannehill, MLS-in-Miami verdict & more

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

Bumper sticker: 'Honk If You're Running for the Republican Presidential Nomination' --Greg Cote

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 22. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS-in-Mami enthusiasm poll, Hot Button Top 10, Dwyane Wade wine, Big 5 optimism verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope. (Watch our new Periscope from yesterday's show).

Al Golden speaks: Click here for an ESPN video interview with Hurricanes coach Al Golden from ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C. Golden says "leadership" is biggest positive change in team, and says of the job pressure on him, "I don't worry about it." He praises QB Brad Kaaya's improvement "as a commander," and also his "markedly better condition[ing]." UM, off a 6-7 season, is predicted by media to finish third in ACC's Coastal Division. 

Wanted: Evan Mathis: The Dolphins have a glaring need. There is a man available to help meet it. Click on Get The Missing Piece to read my latest column in full.

MARINO VS. WADE. RILEY VS. SHULA. OH MY!: I've gone and done it. With these two polls I feel like I may have breached a taboo, or walked into sacred ground where no man was meant to set foot. For many years Dolphins icons Don Shula and Dan Marino were Greater Miami's undisputed pro-sports kings in

1aa1adandwyaneany
conversation about the coach/executive and player who accomplished the most or meant the most to South Florida fans. It was understood. There was no room for debate, really. I think there may be now. What Shula and Marino did hasn't diminished. It's that what the Heat's Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade have done, are are 1aa1adonshula
1aa1apatrileydoing still, has risen onto that Shula/Marino echelon -- or close enough for debate, anyway. That's the premise and assumption of the polls. Our dear readers, as always, will tell me how right or wrong I am. I didn't even bother with an "other" poll option -- so confident am I that it's a clear either/or in both categories. And there's no need to lay out what these four men have done or meant, of course; it's well-known, a matter of history. Please try to not make this about which sport or team you prefer. I also thought long about how to precisely word the question, because I wanted the poll to be bigger than just "who's your favorite." I also understand you wish you could vote for both in each category. No losers here, clearly. It's understood by all that whomever finishes second here -- and someone will -- still is a revered, beloved figure of permanent standing. Take a dip in both polls and say why you voted as you did.

EXPERTS SEE TANNEHILL AS MID-PACK QB, BUT ON THE ASCENT: ESPN's second annual NFL "Quarterback Tiers" project, out this week, divides the 32 projected starting QBs into five possible tiers. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is rated third-tier and 17th overall. That's up from No. 23 last year, and with an overall grade showing a 13.9 percent improvement. Click here for the full rankings, by 35 "league insiders." Here is 1aa1adolqbESPN's analysis of Tannehill (slightly condensed by me): "Voters moved Tannehill more solidly into the third tier, with most suggesting a 2 would be his ceiling. Tannehill has made statistical gains every year even though the Dolphins have struggled to build a capable offensive line, running game and receiving corps around him. Even with those mitigating factors, some voters wanted to see more from Tannehill. "He does not have any signature wins yet," an offensive coordinator said. "Who has Tannehill beat toward the end of the year?" A personnel director who studied Tannehill closely coming out of college said he thought accuracy and pocket poise would always be issues. He feels the same now. "Look, he is not Mark Sanchez, but there are some similarities in Mike Tannenbaum giving Tannehill [a six-year, $96-million] deal and Tannenbaum giving Sanchez [a three-year, $40.5-million] deal," the director said. "They want to be ahead of the curve and I get it, but you need to be right. Tannehill is a great kid, he works, he does everything you want, but there was a little bit of panic in college, and there still is. I have not seen a game yet where it slowed down for him. Say what you want, he has a losing record." A different director called Tannehill a 2 with the potential to reach the top tier based on athleticism and potential for positional growth after playing receiver in college. But he had concerns about Tannehill's deep-ball accuracy, adding that Tannehill could use a better running back. He also thought losing Charles Clay would hurt more than some anticipated. "His biggest issue is his lack of natural arm strength, and because of that, you watch him on tape last year, Mike Wallace is wide open constantly and he just can't get the ball down the field," a GM said. "But being a smooth operator, he is a guy who is trending toward a 2. I do see the physical tools to be a 1."

Poll result: Much enthusiasm for new MLS team in Miami: We asked your level of interest or excitement for Miami's new Major League Soccer team that is to begin play in 2018 near Marlins Park and nearly three- quarters answered either "very strong" (49.8 percent) or "fairly strong" (23.2%). Then it was "medium" at 7.6%, "low" at 6.9% and "none" at 12.3%.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 19, 2015

What's our enthusiasm level for MLS soccer in Miami? Poll Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Beckham, Marlins, British Open, Canes unis, Heat, Gold Cup, Dolphins, urine; also Dwyane Wade wine, Big 5-optimism verdict & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 20. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS in Miami moves closer, Big 5 optimism poll, R.I.P. Bill Arnsparger, Dolphin's brush with homelessness, Marlins resume, ESPY review, UM's jersey policy, Heat-expectations verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope. (Our followers on Twitter get automatic Periscope alerts).

Royals new WS faves: Kansas City Royals are new World Series frontunners at 6-1 odds, via Bovada's latest line. Cardinals and Nationals are next at 8-1, then Dodgers at 17-2. Marlins' 150-1 odds are tied for fourth-longest.

1aa1awadewineDwyane Wade, vinter: Heat star Dwyane Wade now has his own wine label, as seen in the photo here of the reds he posted on Instagram. I do not yet have a proper review of the Wade wine. I'm guessing it has subtle notes and aroma of oak, blackberry and a late-career athlete trying to capitalize on his name while he still can. D.Wade also has his own signature fashion line of designer bowties and men's socks, of course. Diversifying one's business interests is key. Hopefully for Heat fans, the Wade portfolio also includes another season (or more) of elite play.

HOW ENTHUSIASTIC ARE WE ABOUT MLS SOCCER IN MIAMI?: Soccer tends to be a polarizing sport in
America, still. Millions embrace and love it; it has grown far beyond a curiosity or niche sport. Yet many 1aa1amiamlsothers steadfastly want little or nothing to do with it and see it as an acquired taste not for them. I think diverse Miami and South Florida are far more likely than most regions to embrace Major League Soccer, but I've been wrong before so I want to take the pulse. David Beckham's investment group and the city of Miami settling on a stadium site (the old Orange Bowl grounds near Marlins Park) makes it more likely than ever that Miami's MLS franchise is real and will begin play in 2018. So, how enthusiastic are we? Does the "Miami Is Ready" declarative in the illustration here need a question mark? Take a dip in our poll, express your feelings and drop us a comment to say why you feel as you do.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): 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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. SOCCER: Miami, Beckham agree on MLS stadium site: David Beckham's investment group once referred to the former Orange Bowl site near Marlins Park as "spiritually tainted." Now, apparently it's "realistically feasible" after attempts at a waterfront stadium proved fruitless. The two applicable to the new stadium that are most important to taxpayers: "Privately funded." 

2. MARLINS: Injury-wracked Fish resume (badly) on long road trip: The semi-Marlins -- still missing injured stars Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Henderson Alvarez -- are back from All-Star Game break and in midst of 10-game road trip, starting 0-3 at hapless Philly. Team is on season-long 16-day gap between home games, but, given the way this season has gone, that's probably not a bad thing. 

3. GOLF: Johnson wins British Open; Spieth just short: The year's third major will ended on a Monday for first time since 1988, with Zach Johnson winning and Jordan Spieth one stroke off making the three-man playoff. The British was missing its defending champion Rory McIlroy to injury, and its shot at history as the Grand Slam-seeking Masters and U.S. Open champ Spieth was denied. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods missed the cut. Or, did that go without saying? 

4. HURRICANES: (So what!) UM unveils new football uniforms: Adidas threw an invitation-only VIP party on South Beach Saturday night to unveil its new University of Miami football uniforms, and nobody cared except Adidas executives, UM accountants and that segment of Canes fans way too worried about sartorial splendor. "Looking good" means playing well, Canes, not what you wear.

5. HEAT: Team wraps up summer league, mulls trades: Heat's youth squad finished a combined 6-4 in Orlando and Las Vegas summer-league play as club mulled trading Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen in salary cap moves. Meantime Chris Bosh called retooled Miami "on the verge of being an elite team. (Um, a lot of that depends on an elite you, Mr. Bosh). 

6. SOCCER: U.S. pounds Cuba, reaches Gold Cup semis: U.S. men ripped Cuba 6-0 Saturday to reach semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament and next face Jamaica on Wednesday. No surprise. I don't wanna say Cuba's expectations in the tournament were modest, but the big aim was having more goals than political defectors.

7. DOLPHINS: Countdown 10 days 'til start of training camp: It is almost time, Dolfans. It is almost time for experience the encroaching gloom of past disappointments and begin anxiously second-guessing your fragile optimism.   

8. CYCLING: Tour de France down to final week: Leader Chris Froome said a spectator yelled "Doper!" before throwing a cup of urine on him. I apologize. I don't know what got into me.   

9. BILL ARNSPARGER: Dolphins coaching icon passes away: Arnsparger, architect of the Super Bowl-winning "No-Name " defense and later the "Killer B's," died at 88. Among all coaches only Don Shula himself had a greater impact on Dolphins history.

10. THE ESPYS: ESPN stages annual salute to itself: Highlight: Caitlyn Jenner's speech. Lowlight: LeBron James winning the "Best Championship Moment" ESPY even though he didn't win a championship. "Yeah that makes sense," said snubbed American Pharoah.

Missing the HB10 cut: ACC Football Kickoff, annual three-day media event, starts Sunday. All-Star Game draws record-low TV rating. Exodus of ESPN stars. Conor McGregor lights up UFC. Cooperstown prepares for Hall of Fame weekend. And UM to limit football jersey sales each year to only Nos. 1 and the year (15 this season), the worst idea since New Coke.

Poll result: Heat, Dolphins make biggest leap in fan optimism: We asked which of our Big 5 sports teams are earning the most fan optimism right now, and the Heat and Dolphins are the big winners. The results now compared to the same poll back in February:

Team               Now        Feb.        +/-

Heat               49.1%      24.5%      +24.6

Dolphins        32.3%      14.1%      +18.2

UM football     9.0%      13.1%      - 4.1

Panthers           7.0%        5.4%      + 1.6

Marlins            2.6%       42.9%      -40.3

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 18, 2015

MLS in Miami! Beckham, city agree on stadium site; plus which South Florida sports team is earning most fan optimism? (poll); also, a Dolphin's brush with homelessness, Bill Arnsparger, Marlins back, ESPYs, UM's dumb jersey policy & more

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


1aa1amacharper1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 18. I'm back up at Random Evidence Laboratories conjuring the Sunday notes column package. 2) At right, mom Jenny Harper (no relation) cleverly spoofs Bryce Harper's recent 'Body' cover by substituting her baby Mac. Cuuute! 3) I
n The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Riley's big summer with poll, Forbes most-valuable-teams list, LeBatard auction, baseball hits home run, Stanton's new PSA, pizza chicken wings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too. (Our followers on Twitter get automatic Periscope alerts).

1aa1abilla
R.I.P., Bill Arnsparger:
The longtime Dolphins defensive coordinator, architect of the champion "No-Name" defense and later the "Killer B's" and a pioneer of the situational substitution, died today at 88. Don Shula said today, "
If there was a Hall of Fame for assistant coaches, he would be one of the very first inductees." One could make a strong argument (and I would) that, after only Shula himself, Arnsparger had the most impact of any coach in the franchise's history. 

Spieth and the solo charge: Been quite a year for stars in the major non-team sports. American Pharoah made history. Serena Williams and Jordan Spieth are chasing it. I write about Spieth and the year of the solo sports star in today's latest column. Click on Standing Alone, And Apart to read in full.

1aa1amiamls

1aa1abeckhamMAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER IN MIAMI JUST GOT CLOSER TO REAL:
The David Beckham/Sprint group and city of Miami this morning agreed to build a 25,000-seat, privately funded stadium at the old Orange Bowl site near Marlins Park. The capacity could be adjusted slightly. The University of Miami, a prospective partner to play football there, is not involved at this time. Beckham sought and fought for a stadium near the water, understandably preferring the Port of Miami site, but couldn't make it happen. The site chosen is fairly centrally located and not a bad one. My latest column is on this topic. Click on A Win For Soccer Fans -- And Taxpayers, Too to read in full.

 

A DOLPHIN'S BRUSH WITH HOMELESSNESS: Dolphins rookie safety Cedric Thompson (pictured), a fifth- 

1aa1acedrictround pick
out of Minnesota who probably is a longshot to make the team, has a new blog and his first post is about meeting a homeless man near a local Publix, and what happened next. An excerpt: "We’re standing at the deli counter and I ask him what he wants. He says he’d like two pieces of chicken. I was like, 'That’s all you want? Look man, if you want something to eat, you need to eat until you’re full. You’re a grown man, I don’t think two pieces of chicken are going to fill you up, so get what you want.'" Click here to visit Cedric's blog and read the whole story. Spoiler alert: He did the right thing.

PULSE-READ: WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA 'BIG 5' TEAM IS INSPIRING THE MOST OPTIMISM AT THE MOMENT?: Periodically I write sort of a State of the Union on Greater Miami's Big 5 sports teams, which I count as the pro-side Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers along with Hurricanes football on the 1aa1aoptimismcollege side. Click on State of the Big 5 to read our recent column in full. Now I invite your thoughts. We last took this same pulse-read in February and I'll be interested to compare results, because in five months much has changed since our February poll. The Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh. The Heat missed the playoffs but retooled. The Marlins have disappointed (thus far) in an injury-marred season. The Panthers showed an NHL-best 25-point improvement. And the Hurricanes completed spring practice. So who's in the best shape moving forward and earning the most fan optimism in the Summer of '15? Please try to not make this a favorite-team poll. It isn't. (In other words, give the Panthers a fighting chance by at least considering them!) The intent here is to honestly gauge which of our most prominent teams has most earned our collective optimism. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

MARLINS RESUME WITH LONG ROAD TRIP: Marlins bounce off the All-Star break with a 10-game roadie starting tonight in Philadelpia, with Jose Fernandez on the mound. Dee Gordon will return from injury soon though perhaps not on this trip. Giancarlo Stanton's return also is getting close. And Henderson Alvarez could rejoin the rotation by late this month. All three teams on this trip (Phils, Arizona, San Diego) have losing records, so this is a chance for Miami -- 10 games back in the wild-card standings -- to rekindle a flicker of hope in what has been a depressing season thus far. 

ESPY REVIEW: LEBRON WINS BEST-CHAMPIONSHIP-MOMENT FOR NOT WINNING CHAMPIONSHIP: Almost felt bad for LeBron James winning that "Best Championship Moment" ESPY Wednesday night for his play in the NBA 1aa1acaitlyn
Finals, which Cleveland lost. He seemed a bit embarrassed, and understandably. Dear ESPN: Y'all might want to limit that category to athletes who actually won a championship. Just a thought. Click here for a complete list of winners. A few other observations: Glad U.S. women's soccer won Best Team ..... Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner, pictured, handled her Courage award speech with humor and grace, and makes a terrific rep for the transgender community ..... ESPN goes a bit overboard with the pathos, the tinkling-piano, emotional pieces, but does them well ..... Serena Williams should have won Best Female Athlete over Ronda Rousey ..... If ever an animal should win an ESPY, it was American Pharoah, which, alas, didn't ..... Most ridiculous of all, for me: Little League sensation Mo'ne Davis beating Jordan Spieth for Best Breakout Athlete. C'mon!

ON UM'S NEW, SELF-DEFEATING JERSEY-SALES POLICY: Starting this year the University Miami is offering only two football jersey numbers for retail sales to fans: No. 1 (to represent "We're No. 1!") and 1aa1abadideaNo. 15 (representing 2015, and changing every season to mark the year). They luck out this year because the team's biggest star, quarterback Brad Kaaya, happens to wear No. 15. Most years, the two numbers offered won't concide with a star player and sales will suffer. "To me," explains athletic director Blake James, "the right thing to do is not pick particular numbers of your stars." Yeah, that would make too much sense. It might promote the program too much. Grow the profile of the team too much. Blake says UM did not adopt its new, generic jersey sales policy in response to the landmark Ed O'Bannon litigation that would allow athletes to be paid for use of their likenesses or images (or names on a jersey). Clearly, though, from UM's vantage, limiting jersey sales is a hedge against that happening should the NCAA lose its appeal in the case.

Poll result: Whopping 80 percent think Heat will at least reach Eastern finals: We invited you to set the bar on Heat expectations in wake of Pat Riley's big summer, and 80 percent thought Miami would either win the East and reach NBA Finals (41.7%) or reach East finals but lose (38.3%). Another 16.8% thought Heat would advance in playoffs but fall short of finals, while 3.2% saw an early playoff exit.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 12, 2015

Good news, bad news on Dolphins QB Tannehill; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): MLB screws Marlins on ASG, Riley's big summer, Serena, parade, fireworks, The Donald, Dolfans slammed; also, verdicts on Trump, Jason Pierre-Paul & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 13. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) #BoycottArianaGrande. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Pierre-Paul/privacy and Donald Trump/golf polls, Heat sign Stoudemire, Dolphins fans low-rated, Jose stays perfect, Luol Deng's special video & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"LeBron James, featured in the new movie, Trainwreck, hosted a private VIP screening. Based on the title, I assume it's about the Cavaliers’ collapse in the recent NBA Finals?" --Greg Cote

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS ON TANNEHILL IN AFC EAST CONTEXT: Peter King's respected Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) website has a new ranking of all 32 projected NFL starting quarterbacks by writer Andy 1aa1adolqbBenoit and it offers good news and bad news for Miami's Ryan Tannehill 1aa1adol15(pictured) both overall and also in the context of the AFC East. His ranking of No. 15 could be seen as good or bad. That's mid-pack overall, but the synopsis of Tannehill reads, "An underappreciated athlete and good pure passer who has progressed every year in his career." He's clearly on the ascent, and outranks the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton and Jay Cutler. More good news: Two division-rival starters are at dregs-level: Jets' Geno Smith at 27th and Bills' Matt Cassel at a dead-last 32nd. The bad news? Guess who's No. 1? Good guess. Patriots' Tom Brady. Click here for the full rankings.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): 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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. BASEBALL: All-Star Game, Home Run Derby on deck: The 86th All-Star Game is Tuesday in Cincinnati, with no Marlins playing thanks to Giancarlo Stanton and now Dee Gordon both being injured. The Home Run Derby is tonight, though diminished without Stanton and Bryce Harper. The danger in Cincy hosting? Pete Rose runs onto field past security and demands an at-bat.

2. HEAT: Miami adds Stoudemire and Green, shines in summer ball: Another strong week for the Heat as Miami signed veteran forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire and three-point specialist Gerald Green (both cheap) and the Heat’s youth squad finished 5-0 in the Orlando Summer League. Pat Riley hasn’t had a better summer since 2010.

3. MARLINS: Gordon injured, Fish fuming over ASG replacement snub: Jose Fernandez improved to 2-0 since his return from Tommy John surgery (and 14-0 all-time at home) but team slogged into All-Star break with third-worst record in MLB despite two nice wins in a row. Now there is speculation Mat Latos, Dan Haren and others may be traded before July 31 deadline. Oh, and Dee Gordon's injury leaves Miami 0-for-2 on All-Stars who'll actually play, after Gordon was replaced by Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, not Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria. That's a bit too literal on "adding insult to injury."

4. TENNIS: Serena wins fourth straight major, Djokovic tops Wimbledon men: Wimbledon wrapped yesterday with Novak Djokovic beating Roger Federer in a heavyweight men's final. Saturday, Serena Williams completed the “Serena Slam” by winning her fourth major in a row. She beat Garbine Muguruza, who evidently is a rising young Venezuelan even though Greg Cote had never heard of her.

5. SOCCER: America still celebrating women’s World Cup win: The symbolic culmination of last week’s third U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer championship and first since 1999 came Friday with a ticker-tape parade along New York’s “Canyon of Heroes.” There are so many great players on that champions’ roster. Hey, maybe they could loan a few to the U.S. men’s team!

6. FIREWORKS: Two NFL players lose fingers in mishaps: Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (one) and Bucs CB C.J. Wilson (two) lost fingers in Fourth of July fireworks mishaps. It's relentless. NFL players -- along with FSU players and athletes in general -- keep providing lessons in how not to behave.

7. DONALD TRUMP: PGA Tour mulling Trump controversy: The PGA Tour and other golf entities weigh whether to divest from Trump-owned courses (such as Doral) over his comments disparaging Mexican immigrants. One possible solution: Trump avoids that by buying the entire sport of golf.
 
8. DOLPHINS: Miami fans slammed in new study: 

A study by Atlanta’s Emory University ranked Dolphins fans 32nd — dead last in the NFL — in a “fan-equity ranking” measuring willingness to financially support their team. Um, you don't need a college degree (or study) to know that 30 years between Super Bowl appearances can do that.

 

 

9. UM FOOTBALL: Adidas plans uniform unveiling: A

didas plans a lavish VIP party this coming Saturday at trendy Club Liv to unveil the Hurricanes’ new football uniforms. I wish I were kidding. Remember when you didn’t know — or care — who made your team’s uniforms? And that when you said your team “looked good” you meant winning, not sartorial splendor?
 
10. GOLF: British Open to miss its defending champion: It starts in three 

days at St. Andrews in Scotland, but without defending champ Rory McIlroy, who hurt his ankle playing pickup soccer. Meanwhile Tiger Woods tries (again) for his first major win since 2008. Headline: 'Old Tiger seeks old form on The Old Course.'

 

Missing the HB10 cut: DeAndre Jordan jilts Mavericks, stays with Clippers. Carnival's Cuba cruises and impact on Micky Arison. Michael Irvin Jr. commits to Canes. NHL Panthers seeks arena lease relief from Broward County. ESPN won't re-sign Keith Olbermann. U.S. men's soccer in Gold Cup. (Who knew we had a men's team, too!?) And the Tour de France enters its final week. First cyclist to pass both the finish line and a doping test wins.

Poll result: Mixed feelings but mostly support for Trump: We asked if the PGA Tour should disassociate itself from Donald Trump-owned courses because of his disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants and it was 56.2 percent no and 41.4% yes, with 2.4% undecided.

Poll result: Blame targets hospital in Jason Pierre-Paul matter: We asked who was to blame for the Giants defensive end's medical records being leaked after his fireworks accident and 54.4 percent blamed both Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital (for leaking) and ESPN's Adam Schefter (for disseminating). But 28.8% mostly blamed Jackson vs. only 8.9% who mostly blamed Schefter. The other 8.0% blamed no one.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 06, 2015

"Let's gooooo States!" The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): U.S. wins World Cup, D.Wade, Jose, Serena, Fins, Chile, Aldridge, cycling, Cats and dogs; plus Marlins All-Stars, 'Body' nude, LeBatard & more

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

1aa1aflagme1) It is MONDAY, JULY 6. Hope y'all had a safe and fun Fourth of July and long holiday weekend. Happy 239th, America! Pictured is a photo I posted on Instagram of the flag in my yard as fireworks boomed over my neighborhood. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane vs. Jose poll, Confederate fag result & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

Random Evidence: The Sunday notes column: Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes column package.

"Let's gooooo States!" U.S. clubbed Japan 5-2 last night in Canada to convincingly win the Women's World Cup -- USA's third championship and first since 1999. Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and the Americans were favored and delivered, and of course as a ("U-S-A!") journalist I was a perfectly ("U-S-A!") neutral observer. "Let's gooooo States!"

1aa1agymnastESPN 'Body' issue: It's out in the magazine and online, ESPN's annual gratuitous platform allowing naturally narcissistic athletes to be even more narcissistic by showing us that their wonderful athleticism is a tribute to their even more wonderful bodies. Pictured right: Gymnast Aly Raisman, until my editors tell me to take the pic down, which I'm sure they wouldn't since it's, like, you know, all over ESPN.

Marlins All-Stars: All-Star Game starters based on fan voting were announced on ESPN last night, and as expected the Marlins' Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton made it, Gordon leading NL second basemen in voting and Stanton (though he's injured and won't play) finishing second among NL outfielders. The Marlins previously had only two players voted to start the ASG: Gary Sheffield (3B, 1993) and Hanley Ramirez (SS, 2008-10). Reserves will be announced tonight.

LeBatard cameo on 'Ballers': Dan LeBatard had a small speaking role on HBO's Miami-based Ballers series last night, seen wearing a 'Miami' cap, smoking a cigar and asking Dwyane Johnson what his end-game was. I loved his appearance, mostly because now so I can make fun of him on the radio Tuesday.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): 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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. SOCCER: U.S. beats Japan, wins Women’s World Cup: Four years ago Japan beat the United States on penalty kicks in the championship match. Last night, the U.S. sought its revenge and resoundingly got it with a 5-2 rout in a WWC final rematch in Canada -- led by Carli Lloyd's three goals. This is where I’d drop in a quick Pearl Harbor reference, but that might be seen as politically incorrect so I'd better not.

1aa1ahotbutton2. HEAT: Wade re-signs with Miami, but for only one year: Huge week for Heat with Luol Deng staying, Goran Dragic signing long-term, Michael Beasley cut, Justise Winslow starring as Heat summer-league team opened play, plus that pointless pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge. But of course the biggest new was Dwyane Wade re-upping. Call  it drama, delayed. Won’t the Heat and Wade be doing this same contract dance a year from now? That’s what a one-year deal gives you. No complaint, though. A starting lineup of Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh, Deng, Dragic and Wade can win. (Had better, anyway!)

3. MARLINS: Fernandez makes winning return after year’s absence: It had been more than a year — 419 days — since Jose Fernandez last pitched before his triumphant comeback Thursday. He improved to 13-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Marlins Park. Isn’t there some way to convince him that every time he pitches it’s a home game? Hypnosis, perhaps?

4. TENNIS: Serena survives scare as Wimbledon, faces sister next: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams seem championship-bound as Wimbledon begins its second week. Serena survived an upset bid by Heather Watson on Friday but must now face sister Venus today/Monday. Meanwhile this was the fourth Wimbledon in a row in which Rafael Nadal has been ousted early and ingloriously. Might be time to bring back the Capri pants.

5. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule: The Dolphins announced their historic 50th anniversary season would begin July 30 with the official start of preseason training camp, two weeks of practices segueing into the first exhibition game. Anniversaries less impressive than the 50th include this being the 42nd season since their last Super Bowl.

6. SOCCER: Chile upset winner in Copa America: Beating Argentina on penalty kicks to win Copa America marked Chile's biggest international title ever. Finally, a message to Brazil and Argentina that South America has other teams, too.

7. NBA: LaMarcus Aldridge to Spurs: San Antonio bags NBA's No. 1 actually-might-leave-his team free agent with power forward Aldridge leaving Portland. Heat's Pat Riley had flown to L.A. to meet with Aldridge, the Godfather's biggest wasted trip since that meeting with LeBron James a year ago.

8. CYCLING: Tour de France gets underway: Still going despite all of its various doping scandals, the latest Tour de Fraud France has begun. It must be so difficult for those cyclists to peddle up mountains while simultaneously providing urine samples.

9. PANTHERS: Cats stage four-day developmental camp: It was for recent draftees and other first-year players and included “team building” activities such as a beach outing and a Marlins game. Hmm. I’d rather my team win but not get along than lose and sing Kumbaya.

10. HOT DOGS: Annual gorging contest held on Coney Island: Answer: I would sooner watch vultures disemboweling maggot-covered carrion in a roadside ditch. Question: Did you watch Saturday’s annual hot dog-eating contest? Dear "competitive eating" fad: You were cute for a while. Go away, please.

Missing the HB10 cut: Golf, Doral standing behind Donald Trump, for now. Dan LeBatard cameo on HBO's Ballers tonight. Strikers lose to Boca Juniors. Brett Favre, 45, says he could still play. ESPN Body issue out today/Monday as our most narcissistic athletes celebrate themselves.

Poll result: Dwyane edges Jose for biggest story: Admittedly it was an apples-and-oranges question that (predictably) caused a smallish response, but we asked it anyway, and Dwyane Wade re-upping with the Heat was judged a bigger story than Jose Fernandez's comeback game by 59.2 percent to 40.8%.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 02, 2015

D.Wade re-ups for 1 year, but ha-ha on Aldridge chances; plus winning Jose Day for Marlins and Miami!; also Wade 'n LeBron in Bahamas, U.S. partying like it's 1945, Confederate flag poll (vote now!) & more

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

1aa1akimk1) It is THURSDAY, JULY 2. Pictured right is the new Rolling Stone cover. Would it be wrong to admit I stared at the photo for about five minutes before noticing she was wearing a hat? 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat/Dwyane Wade impasse, Dolphins training camp schedule, "Let's gooooo States!" & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"Brett Favre says he could still play at age 45? Sounds like the concussions talking." --Greg Cote

This is why we missed Jose: Click on Welcome Back, Kid K for today's latest column by me, from Marlins Park, on the long-awaited comeback of Jose Fernandez. It wasn;t just the high heat and wins that Miami and fans have missed. It was the passion.

HEAT RE-SIGNS WADE FOR 1 YEAR: Heat and Dwyane Wade today agreed to a new 1-year contract for $20 million. Him staying in Miami is not a surprise at all. Click on Heat And Wade Will Work It Out to read my recent column. The market for Wade was soft. He wanted to stay. Heat wanted him back. All those things led to today's news. What is a bit surprising is the 1-year deal, which essentially means all of this starts over one year from now: Will Dwyane leave? How much will Miami pay to keep him? For now, though, the bottom line is all that counts. Wade remains a #HeatLifer. (At least for another season...)

HEAT AND ALDRIDGE? HA HA HA!: Seriously, I mean, we all love Pat Riley and think he's a magician and all that, but does anybody really think that Riles meeting tonight in L.A. with free agent LaMarcus Aldridge means Miami will land the NBA's most coveted actually available free agent? They don't have the money for Aldridge if they plan on re-signing Dwyane Wade and also planning for 2016. Nor do they especially have the need because Chris Bosh plays the same role. I'lladmit how wrong I was if somehow the Heat lands Aldridge. Meantime, anybody who tells you this could happen may well be drunk.

IT'S A WINNING JOSE DAY FOR MARLINS FANS, MIAMI: [See link above for today's newest column by me from Marlins Park]. In a 12:10 matinee today at Marlins Park, Jose 1aa1ajosefFernandez toed the mound in a real game for the first time in 419 days, since injuring his elbow and undergoing Timmy John surgery in May 2014. And it was a winning effort in a 5-4 final that drew more than 32,000. This Marlins season has disappointed, from the won-lost record to the managerial change to Giancarlo Stanton's injury. A strong performance by Fernandez today wouldn't make everything better, but it would be a  much-needed symbol that better days are ahead. "I know I have to stay calm," Jose said yesterday. Bet that Marlins fans were a bit anxious, too. The team and its fans have missed and need more than what his right arm brings. The Marlins have missed his excitement and enthusiasm, too, so welcome back, Kid K.

WADE, LEBRON DO THE BAHAMAS: Former teammates and still-good-friends Dwyane Wade and LeBron 1aa1adwlebJames and their wives were seen at Atlantis in the Bahamas last night, mini-vacationing together. Pictured left: Dwyane and Gabrielle walking through the Atlantis lobby, glancing over their shoulders, and LeBron walking just ahead of them, the inconspicuous 6-8 guy in the hat. Of course this photo and others like it snapped on smart-phones blew up on social media ... just like you know Dwyane and LeBron knew they would. Of course this could be an innocent, long-planned getaway by a couple  of friends with unlimited money. It also could be a well-timed public display designed to foment a rumor that LeBron may be trying to coax Dwyane to sign with Cleveland -- either because he really is, or to create leverage for Wade to squeeze more dollars from Miami to stay. I bet on the latter. Interesting either way, though.

NO SURPRISE: HEAT KEEPS DRAGIC. WADE NEXT?: It is being reported as the 5-year, $90 million
deal that was expected -- and keeping point guard Goran Dragic is Miami's first big move of 2015 free 1aa1agorandwadeagency. Hassan Whiteside Tweeted congratulations that included, "Let me borrow 5 dollars. lol."  The only other free-agent move that really matters to Heat fans in the coming hours or days will be whether the club will spend enough to re-sign Dwyane Wade, or see him poached by another team. There is no reason, at least not yet, to think Wade will not be back. I asked Yahoo's tapped-in NBA expert Adrian Wojnarowski about Wade/Miami on the radio and he said, "I'd be shocked if this didn't work itself out in the near future." Yesterday ESPN's Chris Broussard said of Wade: "He's a lot of [other] teams' Plan B. That's why most people think he'll wind up back in Miami. If he wants $50M long term, then he's probably going to have to get it from the Heat." Stay tuned.

HEAT SUMMER-LEAGUE INFO: Heat announced its 18-player roster for the upcoming NBA summer leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas, and we were the first Herald blog to bring it to you. Team will play five games in Orlando starting July 4 and at least five 1aa1asummerlgin Vegas starting July 11. The roster will include recent draftees Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, and returning Heat players Zoran Dragic, James Ennis, Tyler Johnson, Shabazz Napier and Henry Walker. (Hassan Whiteside will practice with the Heat's summer squad but not play in games). Assistant coach Dan Craig will be in charge. Miami's summer roster also includes rookies Bradford Burgess, Kenny Gabriel, famous son Juwan Howard Jr., Tyler Kalinoski, Rodney McGruder, Gabriel Olaseni, Willie Reed, Joshua Smith, Travis Trice, Seth Tuttle and Greg Whittington.

PARTYING LIKE IT'S 1945! "LET'S GOOOOO STATES!": I enjoy absurd hyperbole (everybody needs a hobby), 1aa1agermanyoutso I'll go ahead and say the Americans' 2-0 victory over Germany in the Women's World Cup on Tuesday was the best U.S. result in the two countries' relationship since the Germans surrendered in World War II on May 8, 1945. U.S. advances to Sunday's WWC championship match in Canada vs. Japan, which edged England 2-1 in extra time last night. This sets up a rematch of the 2011 final won by Japan and sets a narrative for the thirst for U.S. revenge. I'll try my best to avoid politically incorrect Pearl Harbor references. No promises, though.

ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG: You can't keep sports out of political issues, and vice versa. Sports are too interwoven into society. Latest example is the national movement to ban the Confederate flag from 1aa1aconfedflying on government buildings in the wake of the racist mass killing at a South Carolina church. Now NASCAR -- still so linked to the Deep South -- is disassociating itself from the flag and even offering a trade-in: Race fans may exchange their Confederate flag for an American flag. Champion Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari also has come out against the Confederate flag. My take? The Civil War happened in the 1860s. Time to move on. I do not believe all who support the Confederate flag are racists. Yes, I've seen the "Heritage, Not Hate" bumper stickers. But I do understand why that flag, once flown by the side that supported maintaining slavery, might be seen as a symbol of racism by many. I'm curious on your thoughts. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

June 30, 2015

Wounded pride: Why Dwyane Wade opted out and what it really means; plus Dolphins' complete open-to-public training camp schedule here, "Let's gooooo States!" & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back on my regular Tuesday in-studio schedule with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 p.m. on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio and Fusion TV. Ears and eyes welcome. Good day to follow me on Periscope because we'll have something from the studio.

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 30. Farewell, June. You were good. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade opts out, Winslow star-bound, Hot Button Top 10, Heat draft and Wade verdicts & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

The Winslow column: Click on Justise At Last for today's latest column by me, on why Duke's Justise Winslow looks like the Heat's biggest draft-born star since Dwyane Wade in 2003. Winslow is fifth in NBA rookie of the year betting odds at 9-1, per Bovada. Only better odds are for Jahlil Okafor at 7-2, D'Angelo Russell at 4-1, Karl-Anthony Towns at 7-1 and Emmanuel Mudiay also 7-1.

MONEY AND PRIDE: WHY WADE OPTED OUT AND WHAT IT MEANS: NBA players opt out of their contracts early to become free agents for various reasons. LeBron James is doing it in Cleveland and it's all about power. Control. He wants to leverage the threat of leaving to force desired roster moves. With 1aa1adwpat1 1aa1adwpat2other players it's all about ego. Even if they have every intention of remaining with their team, they want to be loved and appreciated. They want to feel that from other bidding teams. They also want the adulation of their team's fans when they eventually re-sign. With Dwyane Wade in Miami it's a bit more complicated. It's about money, yes, but first it's about pride and respect. Wade's pride needs to feel Miami is showing him respect reflected in dollars. The problem is, Pat Riley, eyeing enough financial flexibility to pursue Kevin Durant in 2016, could draw a hard, pragmatic line with Wade. The chance Wade will leave is real. Not likely, I don't think, but real. Wade is gambling that another team (it only takes one) will offer him a max contract, or at least more $$$ than Riley is putting on the table when negotiations begin on Wednesday. There must be compromise, but that is not a given here. Wade wants to stay and end his career as a Heat Lifer. Little doubt. But he must be given enough to save face, to not feel insulted. Wade, at 33 and with intermittent health issues, should not expect a $20 million-a-year deal. But Riley should pay more than he thinks he should. It wouldn't be just gratitude. Wade remains a positive asset who would be a great mentor for young Justise Winslow. The negotiations behind closed between those two men and their teams will be fascinating, and likely tense at times. Somehow Riley must find a way to both keep Wade and also be in play for Durant in '16. It could be impossible. Then again, this is Pat Riley. It's when nobody thinks Riley can do something that El Presidente's own ego might rise up to prove them wrong. Let's see. How Heat fans think of Wade and Riley -- the two most important figures in franchise history -- sways in the balance.

Wade drops from most-popular-jerseys list: The NBA's top-15 ranking of most popular player jerseys does not include the Heat's Dwyane Wade, for the first time in memory. In national sales from April through, Stephen Curry overtakes LeBron James for No. 1, with Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson rounding out the top five. Miami is No. 10 in team merchandise sales.

DOLPHINS' COMPLETE OPEN-TO-PUBLIC TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE: As our blog readers knew first here, Dolphins today announced their full preseason training camp will begin July 30 and that 14 practices will be open to the public -- all at 1aa1adolcampthe team's Davie training facility except for one evening scrimmage on Aug. 7 at FIU Stadium. Admission to the scrimmage is $5 with tickets available via dolphins.com. All other practices are free. Most practices will begin inside the team's indoor practice bubble, with players taking the outdoor fields visible to fans about 30 minutes later. One practice, on Aug. 15, will be open only to Finatics season-ticket members. Practice times are subject to change, so for updates read the Herald or call the team's practice hotline at (954) 452-7004. This will be the team's 23rd training camp in Davie.

Dolphins Open-to-Public Practices:

(All are at Davie training camp except Aug. 7 as noted; all at 8 a.m. unless noted)

Thu July 30

Fri July 31

Sat Aug 1

Sun Aug 2

Tue Aug 4

Wed Aug 5

Thu Aug 6

Fri Aug 7 (6:30 p.m. at FIU Stadium)

Sun Aug 9 (3 p.m.)

Mon Aug 10 (12:30 p.m.)

Tue Aug 11

Sat Aug 15 (open only to Finatics season-ticket members)

Sun Aug 16

Mon Aug 17

1aa1aamerifans"LET'S GOOOOO STATES!" U.S.-GERMANY TONIGHT: Diabolical! That's a word soccer announcers like, especially in England. I'd use it for the Women's World Cup unfortunately putting the United State and Germany (who play tonight at 7 in Montreal) on the same side of the bracket. These are the WWC co-favorites, so this feels like a championship match. The survivor of it will be favored to win it all in the final vs. Japan or England. The Americans must show more offensive punch than we've seen from them thus far. This doesn't feel like a 1-nil game to me. It feels like it may take three goals to advance. And once again -- unabashedly -- I make no pretense of neutrality of journalistic objectivity. "Let's gooooo States!"   

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June 29, 2015

Wade opts out as expected, Winslow will be Heat's biggest draft star since 2003.The new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 29. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton injured, Heat-draft-Justise Winslow poll, Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers draft & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

WADE OPTS OUT: Heat star Dwyane Wade will opt out of the final year of his Miami contract and become a free agent, ESPN reports this afternoon in this story. The move is fully expected and had been anticipated for weeks. It does not mean that Wade and the Heat won't continue as partners. It does mean that the sides must come to terms on a new contract of that is to happen, with negotiations set to begin on Wednesday.  

The new column: Setting the bar sky-high for Justise Winslow: Click on No Ceiling, No Doubts for my latest column, on Heat top draft pick Justise Winslow, online now and shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions. Elsewhere in Heatville, in addition to Wade opting out, Luol Deng announcing today he is opting-in and staying with Heat, perhaps a mild surprise because there were media reports suggesting otherwise. Also, team announcing it won't pick up option on Michael Beasley -- no surprise at all.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) 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:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami drafts Duke's Winslow, confronts Wade uncertainty: Heat hit big and fans were delighted Thursday night as team got Duke swingman Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft. I won big, too, after investing, on a hunch, in lame media references such a "Justise Is Served" and "League of Justise." Now Heat fans turn from delighted to wringing-hands anxious as Dwyane Wade prepares to opt out and become a free agent by tonight's midnight deadline, his future in Miami uncertain as contract negotiations begin Wednesday.

2. MARLINS: Stanton injured, Fernandez's return to mound on deck: MLB home-run leader Giancarlo Stanton is sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist, likely for four to six weeks, adding injury to the insult of a disappointing season for Miami that has included nine losses in past 11 games. Now speculation swirls that Miami may be sellers, not buyers, before the trade deadline. I’d say there isn't much more reason to watch, except at least Jose Fernandez’s long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery is set for this Thursday, here, vs. the Giants.

3. PANTHERS: Cats host NHL Draft, target goal-scoring help: Big week for the Panthers. Florida hosted the NHL Draft in Sunrise and took 6-4 winger Lawson Crouse 11th overall after earlier celebrating Aaron Ekblad’s NHL rookie of the year honor. But stop reading here if you believe in bad omens: After Florida hosted the draft for the first time in 2001, it missed the playoffs the next nine seasons.

4. SOCCER: U.S. faces Germany in Women's World Cup semfinals: The Americans beat China 1-0 on Friday to advance to the semifinals against Germany on Tuesday in a meeting of WWC co-favorites. American soccer fans would be thrilled (and surprised) if the U.S. men got this far, but it’s championship-or-bust for the women’s team.

5. TENNIS: As Wimbledon begins, can anybody stop Serena Williams?: The fortnight at Wimbledon starts today/Monday (cue strawberries-and-cream references) with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams the favorites, as usual. Serena goes for her fourth consecutive major. Injury might stop Serena. Sometimes disinterest has. Other women players? Not so much.  

6. DOLPHINS: Fins win offseason, now off until training camp: In late July, the preseason will start with Dolphins training camp. For now, thanks to signing Ndamukong Suh and extending Ryan Tannehill’s contract, I declare Miami to be NFL Offseason Champion! No rings for that. No parade. The reward is the heavier expectations you lug into August.

7. DEFLATEGATE: NFL hears Tom Brady's appeal of suspension: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Patriots quarterback for four games based on the result of an independent investigation paid for by Goodell's league. So who hears and will rule on Brady's appeal? Goodell! Hmm.

8. PETE ROSE: Latest revelation ends last Cooperstown hopes: Then again, is it really shocking that Pete Rose, who previously admitted to betting on his team as a manager, also is now determined to have bet on his team as a player, too? 

9. CONFEDERATE FLAG: When politics and social issues seep into sports: The growing move to abolish the Confederate flag in the wake of the South Carolina church shootings has seeped into sports, such as NASCAR chairman Brian France saying his sport will be "aggressive" in disassociating the symbol from its events. Aside to Confederate flag supporters: The Civil War was in the 1860s. Might be time to move on.

10. NUDE ATHLETES: Roster announced for ESPN mag's 'Body' issue: ESPN The Magazine announced the 24 sports figures who are to appear nude (though artfully covered) in its latest “Body” issue due out July 6, and they include Bryce Harper, Kevin Love and Dan LeBatard. OK, I made up that last one.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross teams with Qatari investors in bid to buy Formula One racing circuit. And Sean "Diddy" Combs arrested for allegedly swinging kettlebell during confrontation with a UCLA assistant coach who supposedly mistreated Combs’ son.

Poll result: Overwhelming thumbs-up for Heat drafting Justise Winslow: We asked your initial reaction to Miami selecting Duke's Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft and 86.0 percent answered "very favorable" and another 8.7% "somewhat favorable. A negligible few answered either very (2.8%) or somewhat (2.5%) unfavorable. 

Poll result: Solid support for keeping Dwyane Wade: We asked you to describe how much you want the Heat to re-sign Dwyane Wade and more than 80 percent answered either "a lot" (48.3%) or "the max" (32.6%). Fewer than 20 percent answered either "a little" (11.1%) or "none" (8.0%).

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