August 27, 2015

Who's the 2015 Athlete of the Year? 4 finalists. New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins optimism, dissing Larry Csonka, latest NFL playoff odds, Ashley Madison and ESPN, Greg's Lobos news & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 27. R.I.P. to the TV reporter and cameraman murdered yesterday in Virginia. So awful and senseless. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Prediction Machine's rosy Dolphins outlook, my fantasy draft annual poll, Schnellenberger sabotage continues, note to anti-government crowd & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Optimism surrounding Dolphins is well-founded: That is the theme of today's latest column by me. A new computer projection by PredictionMachine.com has Miami with a better than 50 percent likelihood to win 13 of its 16 games, further augmenting a sense of confidence among fans. Click on Dolphins, Rising to read the column in full. PredictionMachine's Paul Bessire elaborated to us today in an email: "The Dolphins currently rank fifth in our Power Rankings and are favored in 13 of 16 games. That’s the good -– if not great -– news for Dolphins fans. The most reasonable expectation, though, is a nine-win season and a wild card [playoff] berth with a better than 50 percent chance to make the playoffs. Given that the Dolphins play at a fast pace, tend to make critical mistakes and have so many young or new pieces, they are one of the most volatile teams in the league."

1aa1ashoeFunny joke: A friend thought I'd enjoy this recent Shoe comic strip. He was right. First woman: "So, tell me about this Shoe fellow you're dating." Second woman: "Well, he's a journalist. He's been married five times. He smokes, he's cheap, he's selfish, he uses foul language, he drinks way too much, and I'm not sure he's faithful." First woman: "Oh, you poor dear. He's a journalist?!"

FRAMING THE RACE FOR 2015 AMERICAN ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Our friend Christine Brennan, the very good USA Today columnist, inspires this poll with her latest column framing the 2015 Athlete of the Year race. (Click here to read). Her four finalists are hard to argue, probably all deserving, and an 1aa1aathleteyearinteresting mix of two individual-sport stars, a team and a horse. American Pharoah ended thoroughbred racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought. Golfer Jordan Spieth, at 21 turning 22, won two major championships and nearly won the other two. The U.S. women's soccer team won its first World Cup title since 1999. And tennis star Serena Williams is going for her fifth consecutive major and the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam in 27 years as the U.S. Open begins on Monday. Brennan writes, "If Serena wins the Open, becoming the first woman or man to win the Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, she would be my choice as sportsperson of the year. She would not only have won all four majors in the same year, she also would have tied Graf for the most Grand Slam titles won by a tennis player, male or female, in the Open era, with 22." I tend to agree. But I'm curious what the rest of you think right now. This has been a year when no major team-sport star (such as NBA MVP Steph Curry) has risen to the level of extraordinary accomplishment that these four have: Serena, dominating. Spieth, the phenom with the breakout year. Pharoah and U.S. women's soccer, both making history. Now pick just one. Hey, nobody said this was easy.

DEAR HBO AND BALLERS: SPELL-CHECK, PLEASE?: I watch HBO's Ballers, the Dwayne Johnson/football
vehicle that just ended its first season and got renewed, mainly because it is set in Miami and based 1aa1acsonka(without approval) on the Dolphins. There are cameos by guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Birdman Andersen, which is kind of neat. The acting is sort of lame and the writing cliched; I only watch because of the local angle. Anyway, Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka -- that's C-S-O-N-K-A -- has a recurring minor role as a gruff Dolphins assistant coach. Pictured right is a screen grab of the closing credits from the season finale. Dear HBO: How do you misspell the last name of a famous football player who stars in your own bleepin' show!? Jesus.

LATEST DOLPHINS/NFL PLAYOFF ODDS: Updated today, courtesy Bovada, with New England currently off-the-board due to Tom Brady suspension flux. Top five most likely playoff teams overall are Seahawks (1-8), Colts (1-6), Packers (2-11), Broncos (1-3) and Cowboys (4-7), though Pats would be in that group. AFC odds (including the Pats) find Miami tied for seventh at 6-5 in jockeying for six spots, meaning odds see Fins just past the far edge of being playoff-caliber. AFC East odds are Pats (off), Dolphins (6-5), Bills (7-4) and Jets (7-2).

ON ESPN AND THE HACK OF ASHLEY MADISON: The lovable muckrakers over at Deadspin report today that, of the millions of Ashley Madison users exposed when the infidelity website was hacked, at least 39
1aa1aashleymaccounts were registered with ESPN email addresses. (Click here for the story). No names are named. Yet. Deadspin reports around 100 ESPN employees may be involved (about 20 percent of them women) based on former or current ESPN-related IP addresses. Look for ESPN folks on the air today who seem to be unusually nervous, distracted or sweating profusely. Although in fairness Chris Berman tends to sweat profusely at all times, so that may not mean anything or be incriminating. I rule out LeBatard; he isn't married. In all seriousness, which is dumber: Needing the help of a website to cheat on your spouse? Doing it with a work email? Or doing it with a work email if you happen to be on TV and sort of famous? This story needs one of those triangular yellow road signs: EMBARRASSING FALLOUT AHEAD.

1aa1alobosGREG'S LOBOS -- THAT'S ME! -- WINS FANTASY POLL: I swear it wasn't rigged. It was a blind poll. You voted not knowing who ran what team; you voted simply based on each team's top four draft picks in our 10-team friends 'n family league. The results, with each team's top pick, and the owner:

 

12.2%:
 
5.1%: Team 1 ( 
 
 
2.4%: Team 5 (Antonio Brown). My older son, Christopher, who some may know as "Fat Chris" from the LeBatard Show even though he isn't fat.
 
1.7%: 
 
1.7%: 
 
1.0%: 

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August 19, 2015

Grading South Florida sports fans: We examine attendance for our 15 most prominent pro and college teams. Who has best fans? Poll. Vote!; plus Herald's 'Fins at 50' project, Heat projection, Jarvis Landry saving dogs' lives & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with UM's Al Golden being ranked No. 1 in a preseason list of college football's "hottest coaching seats." 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My Don Shula video, Hot Button Top 10, fashionista Serena, Heat/Christmas verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Delmas out for season: Dolphins safety Louis Delmas will miss the entire 2015 season with a knee injury (torn ACL) sustained in practice, it was announced today. That's a fairly big blow to the defense, but hardly an insurmountable one. 

NFL yardage-leader odds: Via Bovada, Andrew Luck is betting favorite to lead NFL in passing yards at 7-2, with Dolphin Ryan Tannehill 33-1 (13th). Adrian Peterson is 7-2 fave to lead in rushing yards, with Miami's Lamar Miller 50-1 (tie 17th). And Antonio Brown is receiving yards pick at 11-2 odds, with Dolphin Jarvis Landry 66-1 (tie 21st). 

Con-men and South Florida sports: There's an in-depth piece this week at Grantland.com (click here to read) on how South Florida's hustler culture and engulfed Heat players in financial scams. All of this has been well-covered, but this is a comprehensive overview worth your time.

1aa1afinsat50 1aa1afinsat50HERALD'S 'FINS AT 50' SPECIAL PROJECT: The Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click on FINS AT 50 to access the entire project and all of its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on the great Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for, well, for the Dolphins' all-time team! And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with not only Shula but also with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Enjoy! 

1aa1acardreportGRADING THE FANS: EXAMINING ATTENDANCE FOR SOUTH FLORIDA'S 14 MOST PROMINENT PRO AND COLLEGE TEAMS: We examined the attendance of South Florida's 15 most visible sports teams (five pro, 10 college), compared how it ranks among others in its leagues, and doled out grades out how each team is doing drawing fans. Only two of the 14 earned a better than average grade. Our results:

GRADE A

1aa1aheatMiami Heat: Heat averaged 19,712 last season, officially 100.6 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked sixth of 30 NBA teams, even with no LeBron James and a non-playoff team. What Pat Riley has built continues to be a South Florida juggernaut of interest.

GRADE B

1aa1adolfansMiami Dolphins: The Fins averaged 70,035 per game last season, 92.7 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked 14th of 32 NFL teams. For a franchise that last made the playoffs in 2008 and hasn't won in the postseason since 2000, that isn't bad. An improved team and stadium-makeover both will help.

Miami Hurricanes baseball: Canes averaged 2,738 per game last season, which ranked 27th among NCAA Division I schools. UM was one of only 18 schools to surpass 100,000 (101,296) in total home attendance.

GRADE C

1aa1acanesfbMiami Hurricanes football: The Canes averaged 52,518 per game last season. That ranked 40th of 125 NCAA teams at the premier FBS level. "C" means average, and that is what UM attendance, like the team itself, has become.

Miami Hurricanes men's basketball: UM averaged 5,777 per game last season, 93rd of 344 NCAA Division I teams. Canes under Jim Larranaga have ranged from competitive to quite good and must find way to more consistently fill their modestly-sized (just under 8,000) campus arena.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers: The Strikers averaged 3,626 per game in 2014 (combined spring and fall seasons), which ranked ninth of 10 NASL soccer. But attendnace through seven home games in 2015 has risen to 5,551, ranking seventh of 11 teams.

GRADE D

1aa1aballparkMiami Marlins: The Marlins are averaging 22,263 this season through 58 of 81 home games, or 59.5 percent of capacity. That attendance ranks 27th of 30 MLB teams. Clearly, the new ballpark has not been a panacea. But this season has been a major disappointment and will mark a sixth straight losing season, which would be debilitating for most any city's attendance.

Miami Hurricanes women's basketball: UM's women averaged 1,254 per game last season, which ranked 113th of 344 NCAA Division I teams. The good news? That's better than 231 others schools did. The  bad news? Coach Katie Meier consistently fields a quality product that deserves better.

FAU football: The Owls averaged 14,122 last season, roughly half of the stadium's capacity. That attendance ranked 117th of 125 FBS teams. The nifty little campus stadium that Howard Schnellenberger saw built has not been the fan kick-starter hoped.   

GRADE F

1aa1afiufbFIU football: The Panthers averaged 11,966 last season, about half of capacity. That attendnace ranked 123rd of 125 FBS schools, ahead of only Akron and Ball State. FIU must grow to meet the NCAA's 15,000 standard or risk demotion from the top-tier FBS level.

Florida Panthers: The Cats averaged 11,265 per game last season, 66.1 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked dead last in the NHL, 30th of 30 teams. You can't get lower than that, so shouldn't the grade be rock-bottom, too? I can't see how this franchise can survive long-term in South Florida unless it starts consistently winning and the fan interest jumps commensurately.

FIU men's basketball: Panthers averaged 1,474 per game last season, 268th of 344 Division I men's teams.  

FAU men's basketball: Owls averaged 1,346 per game last season, 281st of 344 teams.

FAU women's basketball: Owls women averaged 601 per game last season, 294th of 344 teams.

FIU women's basketball: And playing the caboose, Panthers women averaged 355 per game last season, 310th of 344 teams. That's officially "friends 'n family" territory.

NFL: IF THE BACKUP QB'S WERE STARTERS...: PredictionMachinbe.com, evidently with time on its hands, used its computers to figure how each team's playoff likelihood would change if the No. 2 quarterback were to start all 16 games. The biggest dropoff was New England's minus 54.4 percent from Tom Brady to Jimmy Garoppolo. The least was Jacksonville's plus 2.3% from Blake Bortles to Chad Henne. Miami had a modest 11.4% dropoff from Ryan Tannehill to Matt Moore, which ranked midpack (17th) in the league. It was 52.7% with Tannehill and 41.3% with Moore, who had the third-highest percentage of any backup.

WHY PLAY THE SEASON? HERE'S HOW HEAT WILL FINISH: ESPN.com's eighth annual NBA "Summer Forecast" is out, and its experts panel says Miami will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference at 47-35, after Cleveland (59-23), Chicago (50-32) and Atlanta (50-32). I think that's overestimating the Hawks and think the Heat have a great shot at third. Miami would host fifth place Washington in the first round of the playoffs if the forecast holds true. So there. Why even play the season?

JARVIS LANDRY WANTS TO SAVE YOUR DOG'S LIFE: The Dolphins' second-year receiver has recorded a public-service video for PETA urging you to avoid baking your dog in a closed car. Sounds like good advice! Here it is:

 

SEMI-HOT MARLINS: In a respite from The Lost Season, a small island in the roiling sea, your Marlins have won five of their past seven games, despite Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich all being on the DL. This rivals the second-best stretch Miami has had all season, deferring only to a 9-1 run April 22 to May 2. I continue to think this team can be very good next season, with a real manager and much better health the starting requisites.

THE LIST: NFL COACHING VICTORIES: The 10 winningest coaches for combined regular season and playoff career victories, and their percentage of losing seasons:

Coach                     Wins       Losing seasons

Don Shula               347          6.1% (2 of 33)

George Halas          324        15.0% (6 of 40)

Tom Landry            270        31.0% (9 of 29)

Bill Belichick          233        25.0% (5 of 20)

Curley Lambeau     229        18.2% (6 of 33)

Paul Brown            222         16.0% (4 of 25)

Chuck Noll             209         30.4% (7 of 23)

M. Schottenheimer 205           9.5% (2 of 21)

Dan Reeves            201         39.1% (9 of 23)

Chuck Knox           193         36.4% (8 of 22)

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August 09, 2015

Here are your choices as Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes of All-Time!; plus new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Marlins, NFL, Hurricanes, golf, soccer, Heat, Trump; also latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 10. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, was off but will return in six days. 2) Click on Let Howard In! for our latest column, which makes the case why Howard Schnellenberger should be in the College Football Hall of Fame. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes poll, ESPN college 100, Jon Stewart's finale, Republican debate & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

"The most unusual, shocking thing I saw in the Dolphins scrimmage Friday night? That's easy. FIU's football stadium filled with people." --Greg Cote

1aa1airvibnmYOUR TOP 10 GREATEST HURRICANES OF ALL-TIME: We invited you to select, from our hand-picked list of 30 finalists, the Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes football players of all-time and more than 5,600 votes were cast -- with mostly impressive results. I think the Top 10 is legit, although I do think two men relegated to the second tier, Bennie Blades and Jim Otto, deserved a little more love. Rankings are based on overall percentage of total top-10 ballots that included the player. Your Top 10:

1. Michael Irvin, WR, 1985-87 (pictured): 89.9 percent.

2. Ray Lewis, LB, 1993-95: 83.1%.

3. Ed Reed, S, 1998-01: 82.8%.

4. Warren Sapp, DT, 1992-94: 66.0%.

5. Jerome Brown, DT, 1983-86: 61.6%.

6. Sean Taylor, S, 2001-03: 57.6%.

7. Edgerrin James, RB, 1996-98: 56.9%.

8. Jim Kelly, QB, 1979-82: 56.0%.

9. Ted Hendricks, LB, 1966-68: 54.5%.

10. Bernie Kosar, QB, 1983-84: 42.8%.

The second 10: DT Cortez Kennedy 41.4, QB Ken Dorsey 41.0, DT Russell Maryland 36.8, QB Vinny Testaverde 33.9, S Bennie Blades 28.7, RB Ottis Anderson 25.5, C Jim Otto 17.3, RB Clinton Portis 16.2, RB Duke Johnson 15.2, KR Devin Hester 13.9.

The others: RB Chuck Foreman 13.6, WR Santana Moss 13.2, QB Gino Torretta 13.0, LB Jonathan Vilma 11.6, QB George Mira Sr. 10.2, QB Steve Walsh 10.2, FB Don Bosseler 4.1, WR Jim Dooley 2.1, RB Eddie Dunn 0.5, CB Burgess Owens 0.4.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 9): 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. DOLPHINS: Suh impresses (shocker!) in Fins scrimmage; preseason on deck: With preseason opener in three days, this Thursday at Chicago, Dolphins held a full scrimmage at FIU Friday night and the takeaway was Ndamukong Suh dominating Miami's interior offensive line. Our three-way summary, with apologies to N.W.A.: Straight Outta Guards.

2. MARLINS: Fish are worst in MLB, and now Jose is hurting, too: Marlins ended a six-game losing skid Sunday but still are only 6-17 since All-Star break, have sunk to worst record in baseball, and now ace Jose Fernandez -- the bright spot -- is headed to the 15-day DL with shoulder soreness. So how's that managerial switch to non-manager Dan Jennings working out, Jeffrey Loria?

3. NFL: Preseason begins in Canton: It was Vikings over Steelers 14-3 last night in annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, O., and nobody is happier for games than besieged commissioner Roger Goodell after an unending torrent of Ray Rice, arrests and Deflategate. Whoever thought the games themselves would be the welcome distraction?

4. HALL OF FAME: Seau leads latest football inductions: Junior Seau posthumously led Saturday's eight-man induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, O. Another inductee, Jerome Bettis, told a reporter he was inspired late in his career by a Miami Herald column by Greg Cote that called him "Hall of Almost." (You're welcome, Jerome). 

5. HURRICANES: Who besides Kaaya will stand up and stand out?: With practice underway and Sept. 5 season opener now less than a month away, ESPN.com's preseason Top 100 players in college football listed only one Hurricane -- quarterback Brad Kaaya at No. 97. Other Canes rising may determine whether the heat on AL Golden eases or intensifies.

6. GOLF: PGA Championship set to tee off: The PGA Championship, the season's fourth and last major, begins this Thursday in Wisconsin with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy set to return from his basketball injury. Tiger Woods also is playing. Remember when the odds of his winning a major were better than the odds he wouldn't make the cut?

7. NFL: First court appearance this week in Brady vs. league: This Wednesday is first scheduled court appearance for Tom Brady and Roger Goodell in Brady's lawsuit vs. NFL to rescind his four-game Deflategate suspension. The way the American legal system works, figure there may be a verdict soon after Brady retires.

8. SOCCER: EPL kicks off across the pond: Increasingly popular in America, the English Premier League kicked off this weekend. Don't expect many surprises, though. The league is top-heavy with only four or five teams considered to be realistic championship contenders. We have a phrase in the U.S. for that kind of predictability and lack of parity: "the NBA."

9. HEAT: No Miami players on Team USA roster: USA Basketball and coach Mike Krzyzewski released a list of 34 players, led by LeBron James, invited to this week's minicamp in Las Vegas. Notably absent: Any Heat players. Dwyane Wade was not selected. Chris Bosh might have been but still is recuperating from his blood clot scare.

10. DONALD TRUMP: The Donald doesn't disappoint in first debate: Ten leading Republicans gathered in Cleveland for their first presidential debate but, really, it was Donald Trump and nine other guys. Bumper sticker: 'Honk If You've Been Insulted by Donald Trump.'

Missing the HB10 cut: R.I.P., Frank Gifford, 84. ..... Floyd Mayweather says his final fight will be Sept. 12. Date of his final fight after that not yet announced. ..... Little League World Series regionals underway but, with no Mo'Ne Davis, do we care? ..... LPGA pioneer Louise Suggs dies. ..... American teen Katie Ledecky shines at world swimming championships in Russia. ..... 49ers cut troubled Aldon Smith. ..... Hurricanes women's basketball on exhitbition tour in Europe. ..... Finally, more than 10,000 people filled an arena in Seattle to watch two teams of video gamers compete. No, Seriously.

WEIGHING THE FISH (110 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10- 1aa1afishweighgames (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking, including the traded Morse. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race drawn close now by Stanton's continuing injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, 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 110 games (actually 111, at 43-68):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @100

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                350.9    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   316.6   3

4  Christian Yelich        272.6   5

5  Jacob Realmuto         246.4    4

6  Martin Prado              244.9   6

7  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   7

8  Justin Bour                 207.9    8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              183.5   9

10  Derek Dietrich          143.1   --

11  Michael Morse          115.4   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 2.

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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%.

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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%.

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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

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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...