May 26, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Fish, Fins, Finals, Canes baseball, Montoya, Letterman, hockey, soccer, tennis, Heat; plus 50,000 Names: Thank you, American heroes; also, UM/MLS stadium verdict & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami and 4-7 on ESPN Radio and Fusion TV. Ears, and eyes, welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 26. Click on Random for our latest Sunday Random Evidence notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM/MLS stadium discussions with poll, King of Late Night and Kidgate poll results, proctology news & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HOT BUTTON MAY 25: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (a day late this week but updated) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Stinking Fish make bizarre manager change, finally win: The slumping Marlins surprised baseball by prematurely firing manager Mike Redmond and then stunned baseball by replacing him with Dan Jennings, who was the general manager and began 0-5 in his new role before finally winning. Jennings last managed at the high school level in 1980s. No, seriously.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lock up QB Tannehill with long-term deal: The Dolphins will pay quarterback Ryan Tannehill $96 million over the next six seasons in the hopes he makes them a perennial playoff team and even a Super Bowl contender. I think Dolfans are generally happy about the deal, but probably not nearly as happy as Tannehill’s wife, Lauren.

3. NBA: Golden State, Cleveland barreling toward Finals: All of America outside of Atlanta, Houston and Miami is rooting for the Golden State-Cleveland NBA Finals that now seems certain -- Steph Curry vs. LeBron James. Take solace, Heat fans. Even if that happens, it would be first time in five or six years that LeBron would enter a playoff series expected to lose.

4. UM BASEBALL: Canes to host NCAA regional: Miami failed to win the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament but stil was named a No. 5 national seed and will host an NCAA Regional at Ron Fraser Stadium. (Hey. It's my blog. I can call it whatever I want).

5. AUTO RACING: Miamian Montoya wins Indy 500: The 99th running of “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” is the one day IndyCars steal the spotlight from NASCAR, and Miami's Juan Pablo Montoya won Sunday. I was betting on Will Power. Not because I thought he'd win, but because I have a soft spot for guys with ridiculous names that sound like alter-ego pseudonyms of comic-book superheroes.

6. DAVID LETTERMAN: Late-night TV legend says farewell: Letterman didn’t supplant Johnny Carson as the all-time late-night king, never got to host “The Tonight Show” and didn’t often beat Jay Leno in ratings, yet wound up a legend. Proves you can be beloved even if you don’t win the ultimate prize. Just ask Dan Marino. Ouch! Too soon?

7. NHL: High drama in hockey semifinals: Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers are tied 2-2 in the Eastwern Conference and Anaheim and Chicago are knotted 2-2 in the West. Dear NBA: This is how you do drama.

8. SOCCER: Joint stadium for UM football and MLS soccer?: David Beckham wanted a Miami waterfront home for Major League Soccer but couldn’t get one. Miami Hurricanes need a campus football stadium but couldn’t get one. Now the sides are discussing sharing a new venue near Marlins Park. What will it be called? Consolation Stadium?

9. TENNIS: French Open is underway: Betting favorites in Paris are Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. Sort of like in every other tournament anywhere else.

10. HEAT: Tough week for Heat fans: Watching LeBron James roll to another Finals. Pretending to be thrilled over keeping the 10th pick in the NBA Draft. Then seeing no Miami player make the All-NBA first, second or third team for the first time since 2008. Good news? Season's almost over.

Poll result: Cautious excitement over proposed UM/MLS stadium: We asked and 34.5 percent called it a great idea and 28.6% were intrigued enough to hear more. On the negative side, 15.1% were skeptical and 21.8% said "no!"

MEMORIAL DAY, 2015: THANK YOU, FALLEN SOLDIERS: On Memorial Day every year (that's today), America honors its war dead. As a proud, patriotic citizen I am honored to mark the occasion in my blog today. The Revolutionary War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq and right through to today's fight against Islamic State, among many other battles distant and not, America's bravest fight and the casualties continue. Across decades and centuries, across the world, the price of freedom never lets up and never will. I hate that we use the word "heroes" so frivolously, especially to apply to something as inconsequential as sports. This is the day for real heroes. The video below is a song called "50,000 Names," by George Jones. It is about Vietnam and The Wall in Washington, D.C., but it speaks to all of America's war dead, and with appreciation to all of the loved ones they left behind. This is for them. Thank you, today and always!

 

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May 23, 2015

UM football / MLS soccer shared-stadium venture: Good idea? New poll. Vote now!; plus King of Late-Night and Kidgate verdicts, proctology news & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, MAY 24. Click on Random for our latest Random Evidence, the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): David Letterman farewell with King of Late-Night poll, Steph Curry/Kidgate poll, Dolphins top-paid NFL team, punter disses Tannehill, Weighing the Fish at 40, Heat draft, D.Wade's new game, 'real' Miami Vice video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Hot Button Top 10: The HB10, our regular blog-exclusive Sunday feature, will appear here Monday evening this week.  

ON THE HURRICANES FOOTBALL / MLS SOCCER JOINT STADIUM VENTURE: You know the University of Miami and the David Beckham group trying to bring Major League Soccer here have met about a shared 1aa1astadiumsharestadium that would be built near Marlins Park. (One proposed rendering is pictured). It would be about 40,000 seats, which strikes us a bit too small for UM and a bit too big for MLS. (The Canes already have intimated they would still play marquee homes games, such as vs. Florida State, at much-bigger Dolphin stadium). I'm not sure if the proposed merger serves either side particularly well. UM, which of course needs the on-campus stadium it has never realized, would be closer to campus ... but enough to make a difference? The Beckham group, which has tried mightily and failed to have a downtown waterfront stadium, would suddenly be OK with Little Havana? For both sides it feels like settling. I have no better alternative dealing with each side's current realities, and I am not saying this wouldn't work fine. But I wonder how both sides of fans -- Canes football fans and people waiting to support MLS soccer here -- feel about the deal under discussion? About sharing a stadium? About the location? Would UM fans rather stay put at Dolphins stadium? Would soccer fans rather hold out for a different location? Or does what's being discussed sound pretty good? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Carson still King of Late-Night: We asked on the occasion of David Letterman's farewell but you made it clear you haven't forgotten his mentor. Johnny Carson earned 70.4 percent of your vote for King of Late Night, more than triple Letterman's 22.5%. After that it was 4.1% for Jay Leno and 3.0% for "someone else."

Poll result: On Steph Curry's side in Kidgate: We asked if athletes such as NBA star Steph Curry should be allowed to bring their kids to postgame press conferences, and it was 56.0 percent yes, 38.3% no and 5.7% undecided.

URGENT P1aa1aproctologyROCTOLOGY NEWS: As your full-service blog we like to keep you abreast of major medical breakthroughs, and here's one: Something that simulates the look and feel of a human derriere so that butting budding proctologists might become digitally adept before confronting an actual human being, as seen in the photo. They have named the device "Patrick," which must thrill all you Patricks out there. Click on Fake Proctology Ass for the tail tale that explains it all. Updates as warranted.

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May 22, 2015

Heat suffer All-NBA shutout; plus Steph Curry/Kidgate poll and Letterman/King of Late Night poll; also my TV debut, D.Wade's new game, Heat draft, Fins No. 1 in $$, Colts punter disses Tannehill, new Weighing The Fish, 'real' Miami Vice video & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 22. I'm back at Random Evidence Laboratories today divining the Sunday notes-column package. 2) Thanks for all the Twitter kindness -- a phrase rarely said, "Twitter kindness" -- over my LeBatard debut yesterday on Fusion TV. Much appreciated! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill's new deal with poll, Heat keep 10th pick, LeBatard TV promo, firing-Redmond verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dee Train update: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .386 (64-for-166). Yesterday: 0-for-4 vs. ARI. Next: Tonight vs. BAL.

HEAT SHUT OUT OF ALL-NBA TEAMS: As Heat fans suffer not only not making the playoffs but watching LeBron James trot toward the NBA Finals with Cleveland, the indignity piles on with the announcement of the All-NBA first, second and third teams. Miami has nobody on any of the the three teams for the first time since 2008. Dwyane Wade collected a mere two points in voting, tied for 29th overall. It's the second straight season Wade didn't make any of the three All-NBA teams after being represented eight of his first nine seasons between 2005-13.

KIDGATE: ON STEPH CURRY'S DAUGHTER AND OTHER CHILDREN IN POSTGAME NEWS CONFERENCES: You know the controversy by now. NBA MVP and Warriors star Steph Curry brings his 2-year-old daughter 1aa1acurrykidRiley to a playoff postgame press conference. To most it is adorable or harmless -- "What's the big deal!" kind of stuff. To others (ESPN's Brian Windhorst notable among them) it's unprofessional. The reaction to the latter reaction is what's interesting and gives this story some shelf life. Suddenly Windhorst and other critics are castigated as anti-kids, as taking themselves too seriously. Well, Windhorst is right. It is unprofessional of Curry to do what he did. Also, unoriginal. Kids-on-laps at the dais has become a cliche. I always find it helpful in debates like this to consider what I call the "yeah but what if" angle. What if every athlete started doing this, across all sports, after every game? All of a sudden we're rolling our esys and saying "Enough!" Right? Babies, toddlers, young kids, teens -- all are welcome! No kids? Bring your dog! Or how about Mom or your favorite uncle? Why can't Steph Curry have his best friend with him? Athletes have so many social-media platforms to show off their family or trumpet their fatherhood if they wish. The workplace needn't be one of them. But that's just me. Your opinion goes directly below:

AN ODE TO DAVID LETTERMAN: Late-night TV legend David Letterman ended his 33-year run with a farewell show Wednesday, and it was emotional for me, among millions of others I'm sure. I grew up and 1aa1adavenow 1aa1adavethenold with Letterman, pictured then and now. His show, his monologues, his top 10 lists and his stupid pet tricks helped transport me from a guy in his mid-20s to a man now pondering retirement himself. My future wife and I were a young couple long before kids around the time Letterman came on the air, dropping watermelons and TV sets off tall buildings, and our common love of Dave's humor very much was an early bonding thing for us. Letterman was fresh, imprimatur of Early Zany, the hip guy opposite your father's Jay Leno. Ironically, sadly, Jimmy Squared -- Kimmel and Fallon -- came along to wrest the hip crown and make Letterman seem what he was becoming: Old. That's life. The natural order of things. I am not sure if Letterman bumps Johnny Carson from the Biggest Chair in late-night television history but I know it's arguable. For me, he'd be a strong second at the very least, after which it'd be a long drop to whomever might be third. In this King of Late Night poll I offer what for me are the Big 3 choices. This is with due respect to early icons like Jack Paar and Dick Cavett, and to later stars like Conan O'Brien and the Two Jimmys. The poll focuses on late-night entertainment more than political shows of Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and so forth. For me, few if any figures on late-night TV or in pop culture overall have played a more prominent role in my personal timeline than Letterman. I miss him already. Thank you, Dave.

DOLPHINS HIGHEST-PAID NFL TEAM. NO, SERIOUSLY: ESPN'S Global Sports Salaries Survey for 2015 incorporated 333 teams in 17 major league in seven sports in 13 countries,and ranked the teams 1aa1afbmoneyaccording to highest average salary per player. (Click on Global Sports Salaries for the full list). The soccer club Paris Saint Germain tops the list with a $9.1 million average. The top U.S. team, fifth overall, is the Los Anegles Dodgers at $8.0 million. How the Miami teams weigh in: Heat is NO. 28 at $4.8 million, Panthers No. 113 at $2.5 million, Marlins No. 114 at $2.5 mill, and Dolphins No. 124 at $2.3 million. However the Dolphins total -- shockingly, somewhat unbelievably -- leads all NFL teams, according to ESPN. Even factoring the Ndamukong Suh deal, and even if they included Ryan Tannehill's new contract, Miami leading all of football is still a surprise.

COLTS PUNTER DISSES TANNEHILL: Pretty bad when you get dissed by ... by ... by a punter! But the Colts' Pat McAfee went and Tweeted this: "Well today's market showed that a 25-25 record gets you 96 million American dollars ... Andrew's about to own a team I think. #Tannehill #Luck." Tannehill actually is 23-25, and McAfee's implication that for a QB it's all about winning is on the mark. In fact that's the theme of my latest column, on Tannehill's new contract. (Click on Just Win Now, Baby to read it). However, I'd also inform McAfee that Luck's three-year passer rating of 86.6 lives in about the same rent district as Tannehill's 84.0. A punter. Imagine that?

Poll result: Faith in Tannehill, but remaining doubts, too: In the wake of his new contract, we asked if you think Ryan Tannehill is worth the money as the franchise QB the Dolphins have been looking for, and "yes" (50.4 percent) beat "no" (17.6%) by almost a 3-1 margin. However, almost one-third (32.0%) voted "maybe but still not convinced."

HEAT KEEP 10TH PICK IN DRAFT; EYEING JOHNSON?: As expected in Tuesday's deathly dull NBA draft lottery did not budge Miami from its 10th pick in the June 25 draft. Chad Ford's new, post-lottery 1aa1ajohnsonstanleymock draft for ESPN has Heat selecting Arizona small forward Stanley Johnson (pictured). Says Ford: "The Heat need depth everywhere and might need starters at all five positions depending on how things play out this summer in free agency. Dwayne Wade, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng all can opt out. Plus, Chris Bosh's health is still a major question mark. Johnson makes a lot of sense here for the Heat; he's one of the most NBA-ready prospects in the draft, with the size and strength to play right away. And, given how young he is, there's still a lot of upside there. Wisconsin's Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky along with Texas' Myles Turner are other players in the mix for Miami." My take: Ford is being dire. You know Wade will be back. Re-signing Dragic is a priority. Keeping Deng could be an issue but is possible. And Bosh's full recovery is not seen as a "major question mark." The 6-9 Dekker may make sense. With an ascending Hassan Whiteside on board, can't see them taking Kaminsky.

1aa1adwadegame'D.WADE'S GET IT HOOPS': Dwyane Wade has a new game. Literally. His name is on "D.Wade's Get It Hoops," a new kids indoors basketball game that incorporates an app that keeps score and creates videos to post online. Visit getithoops.com or click here for the 2-minute YouTube video explainer starring Wade himself.

WEIGHING THE FISH (40 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we 1aa1afishweigh 1aa1agstantondebuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Nine qualify for our fourth ranking. WTF is cumulative and factors six offensive categories. It serves as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Weighing The Fish after 40 games (at 16-24), with current leader Giancarlo Stanton pictured:

Rank Player                 WTF#  @30

1 Giancarlo Stanton     204.0    2

2 Dee Gordon              187.8    1

3 Adeiny Hechevarria   152.7   3

4 Marcell Ozuna           133.7   5

5 Martin Prado             131.2   4

6 Ichiro Suzuki             100.9   6

7 Jacob Realmuto          94.8    8

8 Michael Morse             88.0   7

9 Christian Yelich          69.6   9

'THE REAL MIAMI VICE': This is so Miami. Apparently in 2013 a film company, Coconut Grove-based Entertainment Dynamix, began filming the Miami Police Department with the consent of then-chief Manuel Orosa. The idea was a "real Miami Vice" reality show that never ended up happening. Or at least hasn't yet.  Now, two years later, an Entertainment Dynamix video surfaces that looks like a cross between a promo for the reality show and a recruiting tool for the Miami PD. It's slick, sexy, well done. Why the controversy? Well, ever seen a cop on the beach with her badge clipped to the string of her bikini? The tale was first reported by Miami's Random Pixels blog and followed up by this Herald story. We give you the controversial video here:

 

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May 14, 2015

An evolving newspaper industry redefines itself; plus Wizards' John Wall and gang signs, LeBatard radio show preps for TV, 'Miamians For LeBron,' Dee Train, Kiper's 2016 Big Board, Brady/Dolphins-impact verdict, assimilating bears & more

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

1aa1arock1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 14. Happy birthday to my youngest son. Love you, Michael! 2) Miami royalty: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson meets up with Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) the other night in L.A. after Stanton put one clean out of Dodger Stadium. 3) Patriots issue lengthy rebuttal to Wells Report. Click here for story and link to Pats' response. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Brady punishment with poll, Marlins bench closer, rooting for LeBron, updated Super Bowl odds & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dee Train: A new blog feature: Starting today, "Dee Train" will be a daily blog update on the Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do it as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. (Yes, people who believe in jinxes and superstitions will hate this). Gordon updated season: .426 (58-for-136) after 4-for-5 last night. Next: Friday vs. ATL. 

'Miamians For LeBron' bandwagon forming; good seats still available: In today's latest column, on how these NBA playoffs are refreshing and good for the league, I explore further the fractured relationship between Miami and LeBron James. I propose -- tongue in cheek, I'd remind those less discerning -- that continuing animus is unfounded. Click on Miamians For LeBron to read column in full.

AS AN EVOLVING NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY REDEFINES ITSELF: I offer below the 9-minute video "We Are McClatchy," released earlier today. McClatchy is the parent company of the Miami Herald among many other media entities, and the video describes ways in which the beleaguered newspaper industry is continuing to refashion itself in the digital age. I recommend the video to anyone who cares about the Miami Herald, past, present and future, and to anyone who cares about the American newspaper industry and where it is headed.

 

IS WIZARDS' JOHN WALL THROWING UP GANG SIGNS?: As a spokesman for the Old White Community I can tell you I don't know gang signs from Adam. Somebody says the word "gang" to me and I start 1aa1ajwallhumming Spanky And Our Gang's "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" from 1967. But I can tell you a lot of people much closer to street level than me are convinced Washington point guard John Wall (pictured) was throwing up a gang signs for the Bloods during last night's playoff game, augmented by shouting the phrase "Big B's." Google Wall's name and "gang sign" to see the stories, video and Twitter references. (Wall had been involved in a similar gang-sign controversy while at Kentucky). Should we care? I'd imagine the Wizards and the NBA office do. Here we are in the midst of a great playoffs, with all four conference semifinal series at 3-2 and multiple Game 7s maybe looming, and we're talking about a star player and possible gang affiliation. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this, whether it be an explanation from Wall, admonishment or discipline. I'd be surprised if something didn't.

1aa1alebatardfusionLEBATARD RADIO SHOW READY FOR TV DEBUT: You've lent him your ears. Now he'd like your eyes, too. ESPN Radio's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz is preparing to make its television debut on the Fusion network this coming Tuesday May 19. The show began preparing/rehearsing for televised radio by broadcasting from its new studio at the Clevelander on South Beach earlier this week on 1aa1afusionTuesday, with Le Batard assuring listeners the content of the show would not change and making the distinction that it would be a radio show on television, not a TV show on radio. The logo for the new show is pictured. From Wade Beckett, Fusion’s chief programming officer: "Dan's smart-yet-irreverent take on sports and the stories making headlines perfectly aligns with Fusion’s desire to present this young, diverse generation with an array of dynamic voices that have an authentic point of view and, at the end of the day, are just are fun to watch." Says LeBatard: "We are pumped about unleashing the primitive Stugotz on a new and unsuspecting audience. And maybe we will talk some sports, too. Our goal is to not totally break Fusion. But the show will be better on the days we do." I'll continue to be a once-a-week guest on the show, unless Fusion convinces Dan to fire me. I'll be in the Tuesday slot although my on-TV debut will  be Thursday May 21.

NOTABLE FROM KIPER'S FIRST 2016 DRAFT 'BIG BOARD': Mel's first Double-B top-25 for ESPN.com 1aa1abosajoeylooking ahead to '16 NFL Draft starts off notably with Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (pictured) No. 1 overall -- notable because Bosa is from St. Thomas Aquinas High and is the son of John, the Dolphins' 1987 first-round pick. Also notable: No. 3--Florida State S Jalen Ramsey; No. 5--Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves; and No. 9--Cal QB Jared Goff, the highest quarterback ranked. Sorry, Canes. No UM'ers listed.

Poll result: Most think Brady punishment impact on Dolphins won't be major: We asked about the impact of Tom Brady's 4-game suspension on the Dolphins and it was a photo finish between "moderate" (46.1 percent) and "minor" (45.7%). Only 8.2% voted "major."

1aa1abearbar"DEAR GREG...": "I heard a TV report that in Alaska, and now spreading elsewhere across America, bears have begun assimilating and are now interacting with humans in ways never before thought possible. Can you explain, please?" Dear Reader: Sorry, but I have no idea what you're talking about.

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April 09, 2015

Blew it! Heat waste huge lead, put playoff hopes in grave peril; plus Heat, NBA at odds over Cuba (with poll); also Kiper's latest draft guess for Dolphins, Fins preseason schedule, MLB video starring Stanton, The Masters & more

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


1aa1awesw1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 9. Happy birthday, Mom! 2) Wes Welker (pictured), almost 34 and addled by concussions, visited the Dolphins. Gawd. He doesn't need to be signed. He needs to be told to retire. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Day poll, Heat swoon, Duke-Wisconsin pick, well-dressed animals & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NBA blindsides, angers Heat with new Cuba initiative: My latest column, online and shipped to Thursday's paper. Click on Unilateral Decision to read.

Marlins now 0-3, suffer Sleeping Bat Syndrome: Visiting Braves sweep Marlins with last night's 2-0 game, meaning Miami scored three runs in three games. The bright side? Two solid pitching performances. The dim side? Everything else. Nightmare start to the season for Miami. (Click on Another Oddball Opening Day for my column from Game 1). Perspective helps, of course. Still only three games of 162. Still, a fast buzzkill on all that hope and optimism. Up to Fish to win it back.

PLAYOFF CHASE: HEAT SUFFER CRUSHING LOSS TO BULLS: Miami blew a 19-point lead at home tonight to Chicago and lost 89-78 -- a crushing defeat that seriously imperils playoff hopes. Dwyane Wade (4-20, 9 points) was awful. An embarrassing 33-8 third quarter ruined the Heat's chances. Four teams are jockeying on the home stretch for the Nos. 7 and 8 East seeds. How it looks from here afgter tonight's huge Heat loss (note playoff-likelihood percentages are not yet updated to reflect Miami's latest loss. Expect the Heat's number to plummet):

7. Boston: 36-41, W2. Playoff likelihood: 59.3% (up 21.5) per Hollinger/ESPN. Next: Friday @ CLE, then vs. CLE, vs. TOR and @ MIL. Note: Tough closing schedule with two straight vs. LeBron.

8. Brooklyn: 36-42, L1. Playoff likelihood: 58.7 (down 16.3). Next: Friday vs. WAS, then @ MIL, vs. CHI and vs. ORL. Note: Three remaining home games boost Nets' chances.

9. Indiana: 36-43, W4. Playoff likelihood: 30.4 (down 0.9). Next: Friday @ DET, then vs. OKC, vs. WAS and @ MEM. Note: Pacers own tiebreaker over Heat, which is potentially big.

10. Miami: 35-44, L1. Playoff likelihood: 51.7 (down 3.2). Next: Saturday vs. TOR, then vs. ORL and @ PHI. Note: Heat own tiebreaker over Celtics and Nets, but may need 3-0 finish from here to make it.

NEW POLL: HEAT FACE DILEMMA WITH NBA'S CUBA INITIATIVE. WHAT TO DO?: [Link to my latest column is above]. For 29 of 30 NBA franchises and markets, this is not an issue. For 29 teams and their fans, U.S.-Cuba relations is a 1aa1acuba2subject closer to who-cares than hot-button. For one team only, the Miami Heat, it's important. The dilemma is that being involved in the league's evolving, warming relationship with Cuba might prove smart in the long-term from a business standpoint, but might prove costly in the short-term from a public relations standpoint. After all, many, especially older, Miami Cuban exiles still want nothing to do with a Castro-led Cuba and feel passionately. They objected when President Barack Obama in December announced steps toward normalizing relations with Cuba -- which led to the NBA this week announcing it would hold a four-game camp in Cuba April 23-26. Many Miami fans might feel betrayed if their team involved itself in any way on the island. Curious how you'd steer the Heat's involvement in the NBA's gradual reach into Cuba? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

KIPER'S LATEST DRAFT GUESS PREDICTION FOR DOLPHINS: Mel Kiper's Mock Draft 4.0 newly out on ESPN.com now has Miami selecting Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton (6-2, 339; pictured) 14th overall. Saying Kiper: 

1aa1adannys"The Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh, but the depth chart for the interior of their defensive line is basically "Suh and that's about it." Shelton is a different kind of player than Suh, with a far more limited ability to rush the passer, but if they're on the field at the same time it could free Suh up to be the kind of disruptor the Dolphins are paying for, which is what took place in Detroit, where the Lions had a good rotation along the interior. Shelton isn't just insurance for Suh, he's a nice complement. He's not as disruptive as sack and TFL totals indicate, but he can eat up double-teams at the point of attack and make others around him better. He has great awareness and will occasionally simply discard blocks and make the tackle himself." My thought: A possibility, but doubt Fins go for a DT.

Dolphins preseason schedule: Via the NFL today, it's Dolphins at Chicago Aug. 13-17, at Carolina Aug. 20-24, vs. Atlanta Aug. 27-30 and vs. Tampa Bay Sept. 3-4.

THE GROWING STARDOM OF GIANCARLO STANTON, CONTINUED: Money = fame in America, and so Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' $325 Million Man, is a bigger star than ever before he hits his first home run this season. The latest example: This new MLB video starring Stanton, set to what sounds like a rapid heartbeat. Good stuff:

 

Poll result: Most believe Marlins are a playoff team: We asked in the previous blogpost (you may still vote) and 69.1 percent said, yes, the Marlins will be a playoff team this year, while 30.9% said no. The yes vote was running nearer the 75-80 range early but dipped after the Opening Day loss.

Big Opening Night on TV for baseball: ESPN2's Opening Night game Sunday (Cardinals-Cubs) drew 3.35 million viewers, a 47 percent increase over last year. It was biggest audience for ESPN or ESPN2 Opening Night since 2008, and best for any regular-season game since Yanks-Red Sox Aug. 7, 2011.

'16 NCAA odds: Bovada sets North Carolina as the favorite at 6-1 for next year's men's NCAA Tournament title, followed by Kentucky 8-1, Maryland and Virginia both 12-1, and champ Duke and Kansas both 16-1. Miami Hurricanes are 40-1 (tied for 19th), ahead of Florida and FSU, both 50-1.

Masters odds: Rory McIlroy is favored to win The Masters this week at 11-2 odds, via Bovada, followed by Jordan Spieth at 8-1, Bubba Watson at 10-1 and Jason Day at 14-1. Tiger Woods? He's tied for 11th at 33-1. Check out WalletHub.com for an interesting, fact-stuffed Masters By The Numbers.

Burger-King wedding: Joel Burger is marrying Ashley King. This is a blog. So you know it's the truth. Story here.

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February 12, 2015

Who should Dolphins target in free agency if they're dreaming big? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat trading Chalmers?, ranking SNL's all-time cast 1 through 141 & more

1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12. Bill Belichick talks Deflategate (sort of) with David Letterman last night. Transcript and video here. 2) Richie Incognito says he's learned lesson and that Bills will be his last chance. Read here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins All-Star Game, LeBron's grand plan, Kiper on Fins, Brian Williams/Jon Stewart, Chicago Little League, 'Dear Greg' & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"One can't have too much useless info so I now know I burned 590 calories sleeping last night. Thanks, FitBit." --Greg Cote

On the Chicago Little League scandal: Jackie Robinson West team is stripped of the U.S. championship it won at the Little League  World Series and, as usual, the problem with youth sports is the adults. Click on Shame Isn't the Kids' to Bear for today's latest column by me.

DOLPHINS WISH LIST (IF YOU'RE DREAMING BIG): Preemptive strike: The odds are Miami won't sign any of the 10 soon-to-be players in our poll once free agency begins officially on March 10. Chances are there will be higher 1aa1afanflbidders or better opportunities for each; plus, not everyone here fits a position priority for the Fins. But these are the 10 best guys who'll be available, according to ESPN, and the Dolphins will be shopping like every other team, so why not dream? Where would you steer Miami on this alphabetical list if money was no object and you had the ear of Mike Tannenbum and Dennis Hickey? Weigh the talent available with the team's needs and decide. Vote and say why.

1aa1asnllistROLLING STONE RANKS ALL-TIME 'SNL' CAST MEMBERS 1 THROUGH 141: This is a blog, so I couldn't say it if it weren't true. Rolling Stone in its latest cover story marks the show's 40th anniversary by ranking everybody who's ever been in the Saturday Night Live cast. I would never, ever spoil it by telling you who is No. 1 so the photo here would be totally random and coincidental. Click here for the full list.

HEAT/CHALMERS TRADE SPECULATION: Sports Illustrated today includes Heat guard Mario Chalmers (pictured) among five players it thinks are most apt to be traded before the Feb. 19 NBA deadline. SI's 1aa1achalmersmlogic: "He has a semi-tradeable contract (signed through next season at $4.3 million) that could interest teams in need of a better backup point guard, such as Washington and New Orleans. Chalmers’ shooting percentage on three-pointers above the break is 21.7%, yet he still launches 21.1% of his attempts from there. Miami, accordingly, has scored nearly four more points per 100 possessions when Chalmers is off the court. The Heat have a better offensive rating with Norris Cole running the show, and Shabazz Napier boosts the team defensively and is a viable threat from beyond the arc (35.4 three-point field goal percentage). By continuously giving time to Chalmers, Miami isn’t necessarily bettering their playoff chances, so Erik Spoelstra might as well let their younger options gain some experience to see if Cole is worth re-signing after this season and if Napier can morph into the long-term answer." All of that makes sense.

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February 11, 2015

Marlins All-Star Game in historical context; plus LeBron's grand plan, Kiper's new Dolphins pick, bad news for Al Golden, Chicago's cheaters?, Brian Williams/Jon Stewart, armed goats & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot-Seat Index coaching poll, SI swimsuits, J-Law's snake, Marlins unis, 2015 college football rankings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

LeBron's grand plan: LeBron James reveals in the Feb. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter his grand plan including a future in movies and his dream of building a Hollywood empire. Click here for the story and related video. Must-read for LBJ fans. 

'Back In My Day': Many of you on Twitter and in emails ask for links to the "Back In My Day" segments I do Tuesdays on the Dan Le Batard Show. I have done 17. Click on BIMD Volume 1 for episodes 1 through 10 (which originally appeared in the blog on Dec. 11). I'll have a link to the most recent episodes soon.

"I liked Beck before it was cool." --Greg Cote

1aa1afishlogoMARLINS ALL-STAR GAME IS FIFTH FOR SOUTH FLORIDA: The Marlins will be hosting their first MLB All-Star Game in 2017, a direct result of the new stadium that so many complained about but that will prove a positive for generations to come. Getting this game is a big deal, and it's about time. Baseball's annual
showcase is far superior to the other sports'. Giancarlo Stanton in the Home-Run Derby seems a given. But Miami sports historians like myself know this Marlins first actually will be the fifth major (Big Four sport) professional all-star game in South Florida. The list, chronologically:

All-Star Game               Date                    Site

NFL Pro Bowl                Jan. 20, 1975       Orange Bowl

NBA All-Star Game        Feb. 11, 1990       Miami Arena

NHL All-Star Game        Feb. 2, 2003        Office Depot Center, Sunrise 

NFL Pro Bowl                Jan. 31, 2010       Sun Life Stadium, Miami

MLB All-Star Game        TBD, 2017            Marlins Park

KIPER APES MCSHAY ON FINS PICK: Dueling ESPN mock drafters Mel Kiper (pictured) and Todd McShay need to get together and fake some variety. Kiper in his new Mock 2.0 out today has Jameis Winston No. 1 1aa1akipermeloverall to Tampa Bay, Marcus Mariota No. 6 to the Stinkin' Jets and Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes No. 14 to Miami -- just like McShay did last week. Kiper on Waynes: "Dolphins need to add some effective youth at cornerback, and Waynes is a well-coached cover man with the versatility to help in both man and zone and brings a physical presence. He's effective taking on big receivers and will also not shy away from tackling and setting the edge as a run-defender. If you're going on pure upside, Marcus Peters (Washington) could gain a slight edge, but Waynes gets the nod for reliability. The Combine can shift perceptions at this position, but I think Waynes is a safe bet to be one of the top two corners taken and it's a need area for the Dolphins, who need more playmakers in their secondary."

Poll result: It's Golden over Philbin for the coaching hot seat: We asked who among So Fla's Big Six coaches should lead the Hot-Seat Index, and UM football coach Al Golden swamped the Dolphins' Joe Philbin by 65.9 percent to 32.4%. We figured a two-man race and man was it! Heat's Erik Spolestra, Marlins' Mike Redmond, UM hoops' Jim Larranaga and Panthers' Gerard Gallant combined for a scant 1.7%.

ON BRIAN WILLIAMS, JON STEWART: NBC suspends Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for six months 1aa1abrianwmswithout pay for the truth-fudging that has spawned a million Internet lampoons like the photo pictured. I get the punishment. U.S. presidents and network news anchors -- aren't those the folks you sort of want to trust most? I wonder if in six months Williams will return as if nothing happened or just sort of fade into shamed retirement. Elsewhere on the dial, Jon Stewart is leaving Comedy Central's The Daily Show, a major loss for hilarious, razor-edgy political commentary. I think Stewart is brilliant, by which I mean he shares my take on just about everything arising from today's headlines.

LITTLE LEAGUE A LITTLE TOO LATE WITH ITS DISCIPLINE: So Little League Baseball strips the U.S. championship from the Chicago team (Jackie Robinson West) that won it in the 2014 LL World Series by, we now are told, supposedly fudging boundary lines to improperly build a superteam. Two adults involved have been supposed for actions that spoils the heart-warming story of the first African-American team to reign. Better late than never on the discipline, I suppose, but Little League's due diligence on boundaries and birth certificates needs to come before a tournament not afterward. This story bears further examination. As it was the Chicago team's triumph was overshadowed, anyway, by the Sports Illustrated cover-spawning mania over the Philadelphia girl pitcher, Mo'Ne Davis.

1aa1agoatswithguns"DEAR GREG...": "I have heard rumors that a sect of anti-government separatists in the Deep South has formed a militia made up entirely of armed goats trained to perform as soldiers. Can this possibly be true?" Dear Reader: I find that almost impossible to believe, but I'll check into it and get back to you.

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February 08, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Canes, Heat, NFL, Tiger, Cats, Dean Smith, Marlins, Fins, Brian Williams; plus verdict on Suh & more

1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ndamukong Suh-to-Dolphins poll, Incognito joins Bills, 7 Canes at Combine, Terrell Williams, death of newspapers video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HOT BUTTON FEB. 8: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Mixed reviews for UM recruiting class: ESPN rated Miami’s National Signing Day class No. 23 in the country, with most other outlets ranking it lower. Perpetually disgruntled Canes fans face the usual dilemma: Wishing the best for UM while also wanting coach Al Golden gone. What to do!? Oh, the conundrum!

2. HEAT: Once-proud team sputtering to All-Star break: The darlings of the LeBron James Era seek answers, with Dwyane Wade still out injured, the guard play abysmal and Miami now struggling to maintain playoff pace -- Hassan Whiteside the bright spot. Chris Bosh said the season is “slipping away.” Volunteers to stop the slide are encouraged to raise their hand.

3. CANES HOOPS: Moment of truth for “bubble” Canes: Coach Jim Larrañaga’s UM men have been mostly mediocre since that 8-0 start. Now they’re 14-8 after three losses in a row entering today's/Sunday’s key home date with Clemson. Canes are down to “bubble” status on NCAA Tournament watch lists. Many more losses and that bubble bursts.

4. NFL: Super Bowl, dramatic ending draw record numbers: The Patriots’ 28-24 win over Seattle was the most-watched TV telecast in U.S. history with a record 115.1 million viewers and was the highest-rated Super Bowl in 30 years. Um, what was that you were saying about how Ray Rice et al would damage the NFL’s popularity?

5. GOLF: Woods is unraveling for all to see: In the past two weeks, Tiger Woods — who last won a major in 2008 — lost a front tooth, missed the cut of his PGA Tour season debut after a career-worst 82, and then withdrew from the latest tournament with a back ailment. He’s unraveling! On the bright side: Tiger made $55 million on 2014.

6. PANTHERS: Florida beefs up front office: The hockey club has added longtime Philadelphia Flyers boss Peter Luukko as a a new team executive. I'd be more impressed if the club had added a team that could actually  make the NHL playoffs for a blessed change.

7. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Coaching great Dean Smith dies at 83: Smith led North Carolina to 11 NCAA Final Fours and two national championships. Tobacco Road weeps today. Well, except for those !@#$%^s at Duke.

8. MARLINS: High hopes as spring training nears: Team prepares to open spring training in Jupiter Feb. 20 with new additions and unusually high hopes. With Heat and Panthers struggling it's time for Jeffrey Loria to save us. (Did I really just say that!?)

9. DOLPHINS: Stadium redesign adds upscale seating: There will be 16 four-seat "living rooms" available starting at $6,000 per game. My thought? Watch the game in your own living room and save 6,000 bucks.

10. TELEVISION: NBC's Brian Williams in hot water: NBC News anchor claimed to have been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire in Iraq in 2003 -- a tale now proved false. We now hear Williams admits it was not him who guaranteed and quarterbacked the Jets' 1968 Super Bowl win.

Poll results: Dolfans want Suh, but with some reservations: We asked in the previous blogpost if the Dolphins should pursue free agent-to-be defensive tackle Ndmaukong Suh (you may still vote), and it was 57.0 percent yes. However 28.8% said "avoid him like the plague" and 14.2% were undecided.

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January 28, 2015

SB Smirk II: Gronk's buttchecks, which may be an upgrade from deflated balls; plus Dan Marino, GoDaddy's Puppygate, greatest-Super Bowl-in-Miami poll, Marlins farm system & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk debut, Marshawn Lynch poll, God press-conference video & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adanmarinoSI piece on Marino: Sports Illustrated has a lengthy new piece on Dan Marino (read it here) as part of a celebration of the sports year 1985 (which began with a Dolphins Super Bowl loss to the 49ers). Marino is pictured circa that era. I'm among the folks who were interviewed and are quoted in the story, but it's worth reading, anyway.

"Calm your asses down!" --Ex-Hurricanes great Michael Irvin, to perpetually dissatisfied, griping UM football fans.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK II: GRONK'S BUTTCHEEKS, AN UPGRADE FROM DEFLATED BALLS, AT LEAST: 1aa1agronkingToday's second of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns
leads with Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski enlivening Media Day with a 1aa1afirereading from a new erotic novel about him (pictured right) called, "A Gronking to Remember" (subtitle: "It was a passion that could not be 1aa1akimkspiked"), by author Lacey Noonan. The passage Gronk read included the word "buttcheeks." (Tight end, indeed!) The X-rated "novel" is 66 pages long and, unfortunately, is the first in a planned series. Click on Smirk II for the full column. Also included: A fire alarm, a prediction, Jay Glazer, a woman in Hungary, Kim Kardashian (pictured left), Roman numerals, ticket prices and a Radio Row brawl. [Previously: Smirk I].

SMIRK II POLL: WHAT HAS BEEN BEST/MOST MEMORABLE SUPER BOWL PLAYED IN MIAMI?: We list all 10 in the poll, chronologically, with the game's MVP in parentheses to give you a one-word memory jog. You tell history which game should rank as the best or most memorable of all the SB 305s:

Smirk I Poll result: Sharp divide on Marshawn Lynch: We asked in the previous blogpost your impression of Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (the person, not the player), and it was 52.2 percent favorable, 47.8% unfavorable.

GODADDY PULLS SUPER BOWL AD AFTER OUTRAGE: GoDaddy, the website-building company pimped by Danica Patrick and no stranger to controversial ads, has pulled its planned Super Bowl commercial after an online preview sparked a backlash. The ad, entitled "Journey Home," features a lost puppy named Buddy who find his way home only to be quickly sold by his owner. Awwww. Folks, the puppy is JUST AN ACTOR! Anyway, enjoy. Or, be outraged:

 

RANKING MARLINS' FARM SYSTEM: ESPN's Keith Law ranks all 30 MLB farm systems and slots Miami's 24th. His description: "Their system rarely ranks high because they promote players to big league roles so quickly, but there's a solid group of very young arms in the system that will be on the list for a while, as well as a teenage position player or two with some real upside. There's very little in near-term talent here, however.". Elsewhere in NL East, Mets' farm is ranked fourth, Braves sixth, Nationals ninth and Phillies 25th.

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January 13, 2015

The curious, shameful skepticism about Rob Konrad's tale of survival; plus elevating Urban Meyer, 'Shameless,' your Super Bowl pick & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

It's Radio Tuesday!: We're in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio -- our 46th national show. Have a new "Back In My Day" ready to roll. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 13. Today is my parents' anniversary date, which led to the creation of me. See, people used to get married first and then have kids. How quaint! 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): AFC/NFC title-game polls, Hassan Whiteside, history of Heat 7-footers, Canton verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Buckeyes favored to repeat: Love the instant odds! Confetti is still falling on Ohio State and already OSU is installed as a 6-1 favorite to win next saeson's national title, via Bovada. TCU is next at 15-2, then Alabama at 10-1. Further down we see Florida State 16-1, Florida 33-1 and Miami 75-1.

Wade ninth in jersey sales: Updated NBA jersey sales rankings are out, with Heat's Dwyane Wade No. 9. The top five: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose.

WHY THE DOUBTERS ON ROB KONRAD?: You probably know the Rob Konrad story by now. Ex-Dolphins fullback falls overboard while fgishing along last week, watches his boat onautopilot motor away from 1aa1akonradhim, and spends 16 hours at sea, somehow surviving. I tell the extraordinary tale today in a column off yesterday's first public comments by Konrad. Click on Survivor to read it. (Konrad and wife Tammy are pictured from the news conference). I find Konrad's story to be absolutely true and close to miraculous. There are doubters, though. I address that briefly in the longer-version column that appears online, writing, "It is our human nature to be skeptical, so there may be some who doubt parts of this tale simply because they cannot fathom 16 hours alone at sea. Me, I hope I am never so cynical that I stop believing in man’s capacity for heroism." Sure enough, a few emailers have cast doubt on Konrad -- as if he created and involved his wife, family and friends in an elaborate hoax. Some early media accounts (here is one from Newsweek.com published Friday) also wonder if the story is too good to be true. I do not consider myself naive. My profession demands that a critical eye is my default view of just about everything. But I believe Rob Konrad. Now, more than before, maybe I believe a little in miracles, too. And I feel a little bit sorry for those who can't.

ELEVATING URBAN: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer (pictured) now is a three-time national champion 1aa1ameyeru(two with the Gators) after last night's resounding 42-20 spanking of Oregon in the first playoff-era college championship game. And with a third-string quarterback! I'm no Urban fan, but I must say it may be time to elevate him to the pantheon of great college coaches. Only Bear Bryant (5), Frank Leahy (4) and Nick Saban (4) have won more recognized major-college titles. Meyer and Saban are now racing to see who catches and passes the great Bear first. Age alone suggests Meyer, 50, has a better chance than Saban, 63, to retire as the college game's most decorated coach.

ON 'SHAMELESS': How much I love my wife came clear Monday night when I agreed to watch the Golden 1aa1aemmyrGlobes with her (women and awards shows!), and delay watching the season debut of Shameless until last night on demand. I love the Showtime series. William H. Macy's Frank Gallagher might be the greatest character on TV, and I have a Creepy Old Guy Crush on Emmy Rossum (pictured, as Fiona). The entire cast is an exercise in relentless dysfunction that is both hilarious and sad. Fellow Shamelessites know what I mean. The rest of you, get on board.

Poll result: You like Seahawks and Patriots even more in NFL title games: We asked your predictions for the upcoming AFC and NFC championship games and it was Patriots over Colts by 74.0 percent and Seahawks over Packers by 63.3%.

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