May 16, 2016

Successful Heat season? Yes or no? New poll. Vote now!; plus Miami done 1 win shy of LeBron in 116-89 loss at Toronto; also, Winslow 6th in rookie vote, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your NBA favorite (no duh), history of Heat G7s & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 16. Heat's Justise Winslow today finished 6th in NBA rookie of the year voting, won in a landslide by Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat win Game 6, NBA favorite poll, Heat playoff foes list & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Small Ball, Big Win, the latest, off Friday's Heat Game 6 home win. Heat is America's Underdog, on how injuries and obstacles have cast Miami in an unaccustomed role. Be Careful What You Wish For, from Heat's Game 4 home win.

G7: TORONTO 117, HEAT 89: CLOBBERED! DONE. MIAMI'S SEASON ENDS ONE WIN SHY OF MEETING LEBRON: Clobbered. Out and done. Miami's injury-marred playoff run ended abruptly in Toronto Sunday in a decisive Game 7 loss to the Raptors in the NBA's Eastern semifinals -- the Heat falling one win short of meeting LeBron James and Cleveland in the next round. Heat lived by the small-ball to win Game 6 and died by it Sunday, outrebounded big, 50-30. Raptors also dominated in free throw attempts, 43-23. Toronto's aggressive defense kept any one Heat player from standing out, with Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade leading Miami with a modest 16 points each. Meanwhile Toronto's guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 63. This had been a tight, even series in every game. But not today. Hard to argue the better team did not advance. ..... Original post: This is why we love sports, right? Today. This. A winner-take-all Game 7. Loser gets an offseason. Winner gets LeBron James in an NBA Eastern finals starting Tuesday in Cleveland. Tipping off at 3:30 p.m. today up in Canada, the Raptors try to reach the East finals for the first time, Miator G7while the Heat try to be the first team ever to erase 3-2 deficits in two straight postseason series. "This is why we're in this business, to be challenged," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And there is no greater challenge than a Game 7." The pressure is on the Raptors today, as the favored home team and higher seed -- magnified by Toronto's 2-6 record in elimination games. A big question is if Miami will continue to play the small-ball that won Game 6, featuring mostly guards and small forwards on the court. With Chris Bosh out and Hassan Whiteside still out, Udonis Haslem and Amar'e Stoudemire did not play at all in Game 6 and Josh McRoberts played only 19  minutes. I'd expect more of the same today. Why change? The Heat are 7-1 in their last eight elimination games and going for a fifth straight today. Somebody's season ends today. Somebody else moves on. America will be watching. And so will LeBron.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami falls at Toronto in Game 7, one win shy of LeBron: Heat and Raptors kept rest of NBA waiting but final four finally is now set with Sunday's Miami Game 7 loss in Toronto. Winner gets Cleveland, which has been waiting an extra long time after a four-game sweep. Raptors best hope now? That LeBron’s rest has turned to rust.

2. MARLINS: Fish trying to stay hot on the road: Miami has now won 15 of its past 21 games including two straight at Washington with another strong effort by Jose Fernandez (5-2) on Sunday in midst of a seven-game road trip. It was a seven-game road win streak in late April that began the turnaround. Considering team's recent paltry home crowds, Fish may be better off heading to the airport than to Marlins Park.

3. NBA: It's three-fourths a marquee final four: It'll be MVP Steph Curry's Golden State vs. Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City in the West finals starting tonight. East finals begin Tuesday, with LeBron James' Cleveland awaiting Toronto. How much did Dwyane Wade want to complete a starry final-four quartet? (Meantime San Antonio was eliminated but Gregg Popovich is still looking for a reporter to rudely yell at).

4. PANTHERS: Cats make odd staff changes including Tallon: Florida fired a club a vice president, its director of hockey and an assistant coach among others. But the oddest move was Tom Rowe being named general manager with GM Dale Tallon bumped up to president of hockey operations. Tallon has turned around the Cats since arriving in 2010. If he is losing power any in this move, it's a bad one.

5. NHL: Fight for Stanley Cup down to final four: Tampa Bay leads Pittsburgh 1-0 in the East finals and St. Louis leads San Jose 1-0 in the West finals. Time now for our northern neighbor's national anthem: No, Canada.

6. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream announces major new race: The second leg of Triple Crown, The Preakness, is in five days, but Gulfstream made headlines this week in announcing the inaugural Pegasus World Cup would be run in January with a $12 million payout -- five times that of Kentucky Derby. Who said horse racing’s dead?

7. UM FOOTBALL: Canes moving closer to building indoor practice facility: This apparently is a big deal. Maybe UM will have better luck than the Dolphins, who built their indoor "bubble" facility in 2006 and have had one winning season in the 10 years since.

8. DOLPHINS: Officials insist renovated stadium will be done in time: Dolphins officials announced that massive stadium renovations currently underway are on schedule and would be done before the Aug. 25 home exhibition opener. Said anyone who has driven past the construction site lately: "Yeah, right."

9. WNBA: Women's league opens its 20th season: The WNBA's anniversary season opened Saturday but league still may not be entirely in the mainstream. Put it this way. If you know the defending champions are the Minnesota Lynx, chances are pretty good you live in Minnesota.

10. GOLF: Day dominates, wins The Players Championship: World No. 1 Jason Day was in charge with a wire-to-wire victory in the electrical storm-delayed Players Championship outside Jacksonville. They sometimes call this the "fifth major," although the four majors laugh to themselves at that.

Missing the cut: George Zimmerman continues to be a raging idiot. Updates as warranted ..... UM women's tennis is hosting first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and has reached Sweet 16 as Greg Cote continues a long-standing tradition of never having seen a single minute of college tennis played live ..... That reminds me, UM baseball season has flown, with Sunday the next-to-last regular season home game for the 3rd-ranked Canes ..... Rob Gronkowski will be on the cover of the Madden NFL 17 video game. They want the most realistic depiction possible, so I imagine he'll be shown holding a cocktail in one hand and a blond in the other ..... Peyton Manning secretly visited Dolphins HQ earlier this spring to counsel Ryan Tannehill. What, Dan Marino has been fired as ceremonial mentor? ..... The Dolphins signed ex-Lions DE Jason Jones, and nobody thought much of it ..... UFC 198 was Saturday. That's UFC CXCVIII to our Roman friends ..... Soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his man ponytail are leaving Paris Saint-Germain ..... The Cubs are off to the best start by any MLB team since 1984. Chicagoans are bracing for inevitable disappointment ..... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson continues collecting LPGA wins at age 21. When Greg Cote was 21, he was the first on his block to own a Pet Rock ..... I Googled the phrase "match made in hell" and saw the Las Vegas Raiders ..... The expansion Miami FC was NASL's only winless team entering Saturday play. Welcome to the league! ..... Canyon Barry, son of Hurricanes basketball legend Rick Barry, chose to transfer to Florida over UM, begging the question, "Who names their son Canyon?!" ..... UM's Sheldon McClellan was a late invitee to the NBA Draft combine ending Sunday in Chicago. Sheldon -- now there's a real first name ..... That reminds me. FIFA appointed a woman, Fatma Samoura, as secretary general. How about it, ladies? Why has the name Fatma not caught on in America? ..... And in other news, the entire country of Russia has tested positive for doping.

Poll result: No duh. Warriors the favorite for NBA championship: We asked which of the first three teams through to the conference finals will win the NBA title and it was Golden State 82.4 percent, Cleveland 11.5% and Oklahoma City 6.1%.

THE LIST: HEAT GAME 7'S: Today will be the 10th Game 7 in Heat playoff history. Ranking all 10 in order of importance based on how deep into the postseason they ocurred:

Year    Round                    Result

2013   NBA Finals            W vs Spurs 95-88

2012   Eastern finals         W vs Celtics 101-88

2013   Eastern finals         W vs Pacers 99-76

2005   Eastern finals         L vs Pistons 88-82

1997   Conference semis   W vs Knicks 101-90

2000   Conference semis   L vs Knicks 83-82

2016   Conference semis   L @ Raptors 116-89

2004   First round             W vs NO Hornets 85-77

2009   First round             L @ Hawks 91-78

2016   First round             W vs CHA Hornets 106-73

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 14, 2016

G6: Heat 103, Toronto 91: Dragon power! Dragic's 30 lift Miami to a Sunday Game 7; plus who's favorite for NBA title? New poll. Vote now!; also, updated NBA/NHL betting odds, your verdict on Curry & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 14. Hope y'all had a happy Friday the 13th. Unless you are one of those inexplicably anxious paraskevidekatriaphobes, in which case that grand piano being lifted above your doorway on a fraying rope was about to drop and possibly kill you if you exited the house. 2) We all know it. And yet he continues to remind us, over and over again: George Zimmerman is an idiot. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 5 in Toronto, is Steph Curry an all-time great poll, Canes/Brad Kaaya ranked, Mike Pouncey's next career, Dwyane Wade's playoff scoring & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Small Ball, Big Win, the latest, off last night's Game 6 home win. Heat is America's Underdog, on how injuries and obstacles have cast Heat in an unaccustomed role. Be Careful What You Wish For, from Heat's Game 4 home win.

Updated NBA, NHL title odds: Warriors, Penguins favored: Out today via Bovada, in the NBA, it's Warriors a 5-8 favorite, Cavaliers 12-5, Thunder 6-1, Raptors 50-1 and Heat the longshot at 100-1. In the NHL, it's Penguins at 9-5, Blues 2-1, Sharks 4-1 and Lightning 17-4.

G6: HEAT 103, TORONTO 91: DRAGIC'S 30 CARRIES MIAMI TO A SUNDAY GAME 7: Goran Dragic's 30 points and Dwyane Wade's 22 lifted the Heat at home Friday night in a 103-91 win over Toronto, forcing as Game 7 back up there Sunday. "Tonight was his night," said coach Erik Spoelstra of Dragic. "It came at the right time." Click on Small Ball, Big Win for my column from the game, online now. ...... Original post: Miami trails this Toronto series 3-2 but is 2-0 this postseason in elimination games and 7-1 in its past eight overall. The Heat do "must win" pretty well, and are 4-point favorites tonight to send this thing back up to Toronto for a Sunday Game 7. Whether Miami survives tonight may
 Wethenorth Rapsatheatdepend on which team is the healthiest, or, in this case, the least unhealthy. Luol Deng (wrist) is expected to tough it out tonight, although Hassan Whiteside and G6of course Chris Bosh still are missing, increasing the likelihood Miami will play small-ball for extended spurts. For Toronto, DeMarre Carroll (wrist) is questionable, Jonas Valanciunas remains out Demar DeRozan is playing through a thumb injury. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra downplayed the injury factor, saying playoff basketball in general is meant "to push you and stress you and put you in uncomfortable situations. And that's what this series is doing right now." This is the last of four NBA series still undecided, meaning the Heat and Raptors are two of just five teams still standing. "Right now there's nobody totally healthy in this league," said Toronto coach Dwane Casey. "This is the time you play through it." A rested Cleveland awaits this series winner, and LeBron James' Cavs will be a heavy favorite over either. The Heat of course face a steeper climb to get there. In NBA history teams that lose Game 5 in a 2-2 series go on to win the series only 18 percent of the time -- the odds now against Miami. (Click on Heat Is America's Underdog for today's latest column by me). Dwyane Wade, with 88 points in his past three games, has been carrying the Heat but needs help. The Heat especially need to find their collective range on 3-point shots. Other than Wade, Miami is 10-for-57 on 3's since Game 1, a horrid 17.5 percent. Joe Johnson (1-for-17) in particular has gone cold from deep. Looking for somebody other than Wade to do some heavy lifting for Miami tonight. Any volunteers?

NAME THAT NBA FAVORITE: The Miami-Toronto survivor will be a prohibitive underdog, a distant fourth of the final four in terms of betting odds to win the NBA championship. As we wait for this series to finish, who among the first three teams through would you call the favorite to win it all? Teams are listed alphabetically in the poll. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

Poll result: Curry is an all-time great, though still much debate: We asked if Golden State's Stephen Curry, right now, should be included in conversation as an NBA all-time great, and it was 48.2 percent yes, 42.7% no and 9.1% undecided.

UNEARTHED BONUS PHOTO: TunsilWoman pushing baby stroller arrives for a party at Laremy Tunsil's house. 

THE LIST: HEAT'S EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF OPPONENTS: Cleveland, the team that awaits if Miami survives Toronto, is the only Eastern team the Heat has never faced in the club's postseason history. Most common East playoff foes based on total games played in postseason:

Opponent                Games

Chicago Bulls            31

New York Knicks      29

Indiana Pacers          25

Boston Celtics          17

Detroit Pistons         16

Others: Charlotte 14 games, Atlanta 12, New Jersey 9, New Orleans 7, Toronto 6 (including last night), Brooklyn 5, Orlando 5, Philadelphia 5, Milwaukee 4 and Washington 4.

Most common opponents by number of series: Chicago 7; New York 5; Indiana 4; Boston, Charlotte and Detroit 3 each; Atlanta and New Jersey 2 each; all others 1.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 12, 2016

G5: Toronto 99, Heat 91: Battered, beaten and a season on fumes; plus is Stephen Curry an all-time great (poll; vote now); also, Wade in club playoff scoring annals, Canes football ranked and Kiper on Kaaya, Mike Pouncey's next career & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 12. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat win Game 4 in overtime to even series, Hot Button Top 10, Wade dethrones Marino & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Be Careful What You Wish For, the latest, from last night's Heat Game 4 home win. Wade: A Little Help, Please?, off the Game 3 home loss. Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend.

"More than 3,000 cannabis industry executives, investors and enthusiasts are in Orlando attending this week's Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, which started late because munchies-stricken attendees were flocked around food trucks parked outside the event." --Greg Cote

G5: TORONTO 99, HEAT 91: OY! MIAMI MUST WIN TWO STRAIGHT NOW TO ADVANCE: Miami falls behind 9-0 in Game 5 and never leads. Dwyane Wade held to 20 points and (as usual) gets too little help. Luol Deng suffers wrist injury. TOR's DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry wake up with 59 combined points. This is why Miami is now down 3-2 and having to win Friday at home and Sunday back in Toronto in a Game 7. This Heat team is just seeming too depleted. No Chris Bosh, no Hassan Whiteside and now perhaps no Deng is too much. I may be wrong, but it is feeling as if the Heat is done in this round. ..... Original post: Do you hate those Raptors fans' "We The North" shirts as much as I do? Such a weird combination of nonsensical, ungrammatical and arrogant -- the latter thoroughly unearned considering club has never in its history advanced past this round. Wonder of those same fans will be booing Dwyane Wade tonight for his Game 3 faux pas in continuing to warm up during the singing of O Canada? (Rhetorical question. Yes! is the answer). OK, on to the game, obviously a huge one in a series G5
Heatatrapstied 2-2. Miami must find a way to win at Toronto either tonight or in a Game 7, so you'd think tonight would be the prime shot. That would allow Miami to avoid a road Game 7 by closing it out at home Friday night. Goran Dragic will be playing tonight despite  being given a technical and fined $2,000 for taking a swing (he missed) at Raptors guard Cory Joseph in the last game. With Hassan Whiteside (knee) out again tonight the Heat will need more from Dragic and Joe Johnson because Dwyane Wade (38 and 30 the past two games) is probably due a mortal night, though he said, "I'm as confident as I've been all season now." Also, chances are either DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry (a combined 6-for-28 last game) will have a big back-to-form showing at home tonight. It will be interesting to see how much "small ball" coach Erik Spoelstra opts for again tonight. Miami had success in Game 4 playing with Luol Deng, Wade, Dragic, Johnson and Justise Winslow. Those five played only three minutes together the entire season but were on the court 10 minutes last game.

History: Heat now 0-5 all-time in road Game 5s when series at 2-2: Here's a franchise streak Miami hoped to end last night: 0-4 all-time on the road in Game 5s when a series is tied 2-2. Miami lost Game 5 away and also lost the series to Atlanta in 1994, Indiana in 2004 and Atlanta in 2009. However, Miami lost Game 5 at San Antonio in the 2013 NBA Finals but went on to win two straight and the championship. Last night made it 0-5 in that situation.

CurryIS IT TIME TO ANOINT STEPHEN CURRY ONTO NBA'S ALL-TIME GREATS ECHELON?: This was a big debate on the radio show yesterday, with LeBatard saying it was time now to start considering Curry among the all-time greats, and me arguing he needs to do what he's doing at least a few more years before he enters that Michael Jordan / LeBron James conversation. Curry is 28, in his seventh season but only third as a full-fledged star. Today he was named league MVP for the second straight year in the first-ever unanimous vote. There is little doubt he has usurped LeBron as the NBA's best active player, with a 3-point game that is helping to revolutionize the sport. The question is whether he has done enough to this point to be in the all-time, best-of-the-best discussion. So take a dip in our poll, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

MIKE POUNCEY: BROADCASTER?: Dolphins starting center Mike Pouncey is among 25 current and former NFL players who have signed up to participate in the league's 10th annual "Broadcast Boot Camp," an annual four-day camp for players who are considering a post-career career in broadcasting. This one takes place May 16-19) at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, N.J. Sessions include hands-on work in tape study, editing, studio and show preparation, radio production, production meetings and field reporting. Each player will tape segments as a game analyst and field reporter and also have a chance to serve as a live guest host on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Pouncey is 26. Points for planning ahead.

ESPN RANKS HURRICANES FOOTBALL NO. 24 IN NATION: ESPN's post-spring football Top 25 college rankings are out today with Alabama-Clemson-Michigan 1-2-3 and the Miami Hurricanes 24sneaking in at 24th. (Full list here). ESPN's synopsis of UM coming off an 8-5 season and now led by new coach Mark Richt: "The Hurricanes will have to stay healthy and get a few breaks to make a lot of noise in Richt's first season coaching his alma mater. But with Brad Kaaya leading the offense and a formidable front leading the defense, there's reason for optimism. Miami will have to solidify its offensive line and get some help from incoming freshmen and juco receivers. There are also concerns about depth on defense, especially at linebacker and in the secondary, where all four starters must be replaced. Early enrollees Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney are expected to start at linebacker in coordinator Manny Diaz's aggressive scheme." Miami 2016 ranked opponents are Florida State(4th), Notre Dame (9th) and North Carolina (19th). The Georgia team Richt left is ranked 13th.

Kaaya among five state players on Kiper's first 2017 draft 'Big Board': Hurricanes QB Brad Kaaya is ranked 13th on Mel Kiper's first 2017 NFL Draft 'Big Board' for ESPN today. Other state players on it are Gators CB Jalen Tabor (8th), Seminoles OT Roderick Johnson (10th), FSU DE DeMarcus Walker (19th) and Florida OLB Jarrad Davis (21st). Says Kiper of Kaaya: "A talented quarterback with a big arm, touch and growing poise as he reads the whole field. He continues to get better."

THE LIST: WADE AMONG HEAT'S BEST POSTSEASON PERFORMANCES: That Dwyane Wade has scored 38 and 30 in back to back games and is averaging 22 points this postseason at age 34 is not the best testament to his greatness. This is: He has had seven other postseasons -- seven! -- that have been better based on scoring averages, and some by a lot. Sixteen times a Heat player has averaged 20-plus points in a postseason, and eight times it's been Wade. Miami's 20-plus playoff kings:

Avg.        Player                    Year    G-Pts. (High)

33.20      Dwyane Wade        2010   5-166 (46)

30.30      LeBron James        2012   23-697 (45)

29.14      Wade                     2009   7-204 (41)

28.43      Wade                     2006   23-654 (43)

27.43      Wade                     2005   14-384 (42)

27.40      James                    2014   20-548 (49)

26.00      Tim Hardaway       1998   5-130 (34)

25.91      James                    2013   23-596 (37)

24.52      Wade                     2011   21-515 (38)

23.67      James                    2011   21-497 (35)

23.50      Wade                     2007   4-94 (28)

22.83      Wade                     2012   23-525 (41)

21.83      Wade                     2016   12-262 (38) 

21.60      Alonzo Mourning  2000  10-216 (29)

21.60      Mourning              1999   5-108 (27)

20.67      Rony Seikaly         1992  3-62 (26)

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 07, 2016

G3: Toronto 95, Heat 91: Wade scores 38 for naught, Whiteside hurt; plus who had greater career, Marino or Wade? Poll. Vote now!; also, 'Greg Cote Show' T-shirts, Dolphins' Tunsil channels Kooch, history of Heat overtime playoff games & more

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

Myshirt1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 7. LeBatard Show fans, the 'Greg Cote Show' T-shirts are in, the one shown modeled by the great Roy Bellamy. We'll be giving some away to listeners. Stay tuned. 2) My fellow fellas, don't forget tomorrow is Mother's Day! Do it up right. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat fall in Game 2 OT to even Toronto series, sitting Bosh smart beyond health reasons, Miami in '17 NFL Mock Draft, Jose & Giancarlo Show, re-appreciation of Shula, disrespecting Richt, Dolphins cheerleaders & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, the latest, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend. Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, previewing Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory

G3: TORONTO 95, HEAT 91: WADE HITS 38 BUT WHITESIDE HURT IN HOME LOSS THAT HAS MIAMI DOWN 2-1 IN SERIES: Dwyane Wade was vintage with 38 points including 18 in the third quarter but Miami let a late lead slip for the second straight game in a 95-91 Saturday home loss that gives Toronto a 2-1 series lead entering Game 4 back downtown Monday night. Wade led the team in scoring, rebounds and assists, with nobody else topping 12 points. The lack of help for Wade was accentuated by Hassan Whiteside's knee injury early in the second quarter, from which he did not return. An MRI Sunday will provide details, but early indications were that he could miss the rest of the series. That would mean Erik Spoelstra must cobble together a combination of Udonis Haslem, Josh McRoberts and Amar'e Stoudemire to handle the center position. Click on Wade: A Little Help, Please? for my column from last night's loss. ..... Original post: Key No. 1--Turnovers. Miami has had 20 in Game 1 and 21 in Game 2. That is uncharacteristic carelessness by the disciplined, well-coached Heat. "If we don't turn the ball over 20-some times, we'll be fine," as the Heat's Dwyane Wade put it. "Our offense is fine. But we can't keep giving G3
Raptorsheatup 20 turnovers a game. That limits us." That TO number needs to be cut in half with today's 5 p.m. tipoff. Key No. 2--Hassan Whiteside's defensive work on Toronto's 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas. It hasn't been there. It needs to show up. Valanciunas has averaged 19.5 points on 68 percent shooting in the two games and also averaged 13 rebounds. Whiteside has averaged 11 points in the two games, and the Heat need more from him on both ends of the floor -- a game that reminds all why he thinks he should be a max-contract player this summer. Miami blew a 7-point fourth quarter lead in Game 2 and a chance to take a commanding 2-0 series lead back to Miami. Now, at 1-1, the pressure will fall squarely on tonight's loser. Toronto is counting on guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (shooting a combined 35% in the two games) to regain their touch. Even if that occurs, the home court should lift Miami. Heat are on a 13-2 run at home and has topped 100 points in 18 of last 19 game in the bayside arena. The home court, fewer turnovers and more Whiteside will carry Miami no matter how much the Raptors' guards raise their game.

Dandwyane MarinowadeTHE ULTIMATE MIAMI SPORTS QUESTION: MARINO OR WADE?: Who has had the greatest career in the history of South Florida professional team sports? Is it quarterback Dan Marino with his record-setting 17-year Dolphins run from 1983-99? Or is it guard Dwyane Wade with his championship-winning 13-year (and counting) run for the Heat from 2003 to right now? For me it's clearly one of those two, but our poll also includes a "someone else" category -- although I'd like to hear the argument for anyone but Marino or Wade, who are listed alphabetically in the poll. We ran a similar poll last summer so we'll be interested to see how the results differ. The question is bigger than whether football or basketball is your favorite sport. The question also is broader than just statistical greatness or titles won. Maybe it's which athlete and person is held more dearly in our collective hearts. Maybe it's who is more beloved in South Florida. By however you define "greatest career," cast your vote and say why. Then check back often for continually evolving results.

TUNSIL CHANNELS HIS INNER KOOCH: Dolphins yesterday signed No. 1 draft pick Laremy Tunsil to a four-year contract. That's early for a top pick to sign, and good news. Team also announced that Tunsil would wear uniform No. 67. Sound familiar? Nine other Fins before him have worn that number but only one of any note: Bob Kuechenberg, who from 1970-84 played more games as an offensive lineman than any player in club history in a distinguished career. "Kooch" was a guard who also played tackle. Tunsil is a tackle who'll probable start out at guard. So their numbers will be the same. If their careers turn out to be anything close, the Fins will have just made an excellent draft decision. Now let's see about that.

THE LIST: HEAT PLAYOFF OVERTIME GAMES: This week marked only second time in franchise history the Heat has played two overtime games in same playoff series, and the first time OTs have been in back to back games. Quirky fact: Dwyane Wade has played in 10 of 11 all-time overtime games but been team's leading scorer only once. The history of Heat overtime playoff games, chronologically: 

Date        Result             Opponent      Round            Heat leading scorer

5-12-00   W 77-76         @Knicks       Conf semis     Mourning 23

4-28-05   W 108-105*    @Nets          First round      O'Neal 25

6-18-06   W 101-100     Mavericks     Finals             Wade 43

5-9-11     W 98-90        @Celtics       Conf semis      James 35

5-24-11   W 101-93      Bulls             Conf finals      James 35

5-30-12   W 115-111    Celtics          Conf finals      James 34

6-3-12     L 93-91        @Celtics       Conf finals       James 29

5-22-13   W 103-102    Pacers          Conf finals       James 30

6-18-13   W 103-100    Spurs           Finals               James 32

5-3-16     W 102-96      @Raptors     Conf semis       Dragic 26

5-5-16     L 96-92         @Raptors     Conf semis       Dragic 20 

*-2005 game vs. Nets was double-overtime; all others single OT.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 02, 2016

It's Heat-Raptors in second round as Miami routs Charlotte behind Dragic, great D; plus new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): What Miami sports fans are talking about; also, grading Dolphins draft (poll; vote now!), complete history of SoFla Game 7's & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 2. Happy new  month, all! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Wildest 24 Hours: Heat survive on Wade Heroics, Dolphins draft with Tunsil poll, Marlins' Gordon suspended and UM/Fins draft lists & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, the latest, from Sunday's Game 7 victory. Curious Pick, Major Gamble, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick. Heat Has Bigger Concerns Than #BringBoshBack, off Miami's damaging Game 5 home playoff loss.

Find our grade-Dolphins-draft poll here below our Heat Game 7 preview and the latest Hot Button.

It's Heat vs. Toronto Raptors in second round!: Raptors held on to beat visiting Indiana last night 89-84. Toronto will own home-court advantage over Miami in a second round series that will begin Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Canada, eh? And the Heat's climb to an unlikely spot in the NBA Finals or a more plausible spot in the Eastern finals vs. (presumably) LeBron James and Cleveland just got steeper. Toronto is better than Indiana, point blank, and also owns the home court edge, whereas Miami would have enjoyed that edge over Pacers. Toronto won eight more games during the season than Miami and was 3-1 head to head. To quantify, for what it's worth, ESPN's Basketball Power Index gave Heat a 56 percent chance to advance past Indiana, but only a 32 percent chance vs. Toronto. Raptors oversized shooting guard DeMar DeRozan will be a handful. He scored 30, 33 and 38 vs. Heat in Toronto's three wins this year.

G7: HEAT 106, CHARLOTTE 73: DRAGIC's 25, BIG D CARRY MIAMI CONVINGINGLY TO NEXT ROUND: Convincing. That's the word for a 106-73 Game 6 home win. Miami awaits Toronto in the second round starting Tuesday night in Canada after Sunday's huge Game 7 win fueled by Goran Dragic's 25 points (in three quarters) and defense that limited the Hornets to 32 percent shooting. Click on Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat for my column from today's big win. ..... Original post: Game 7s are always fun. Today's 1 p.m. matinee downtown is far from the biggest G7 Miami has seen; only the first round, remember. Still promises drama, though, as Heat try to keep perfect their franchise record (13-for-13) of advancing in the playoffs when they've had a 2-0 series lead. It was Dwyane Wade
G7 Miachasaving Miami in Game 6 in Charlotte, his 23 points including two late 3's ... by a man who hadn't hit a 3 since December. "Dwyane feels most alive when the competition is at its highest and games feel like this," explains coach Erik Spoelstra. "You need to have veteran players that understand [playoff pressure] and can manage all the emotions and bring out their best." Miami's edge over young Charlotte in that category is why Heat is a 6.5-point favorite today. One key for Miami today could be the health of rookie Josh Richardson, who is questionable with a shoulder strain. He often leads team in minutes off the bench and can be a shut-down defender. His would be a big absence. Miami also figures to need someone besides Wade to step up offensively today. His 34-year-old bones are bound to be tired after playing at night, traveling and then playing at 1. Still hard to imagine the Heat not holding court today and advancing to meet the winner of tonight's Pacers-at-Raptors Game 7.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami advances to second round behind Dragic's big Game 7: The Heat faced first-round playoff elimination on the road Friday in a last-gasp Game 6, but Dwyane Wade saved the day and season with late heroics to lift Miami. Today in Game 7 vs. Charlotte here it was Goran Dragic's turn and he delivered with 25 points. You're never sure who's going to lift the Heat ... one reason they're where they are.

2. DOLPHINS: Gamblin' Fins are talk of first round after taking Laremy Tunsil: Dolphins did not shy away from risk, or offense, in their three-day draft. I think it’s the unpredictability of sports that we love the most, right? For example: The Dolphins’ first-round pick being pictured on draft-night inhaling marijuana smoke from a bong while wearing a gas mask -- who could have predicted that! 

3. MARLINS: Big win streak offset by Gordon's 80-game suspension for PEDs: Fish, who are back home Tuesday, had won seven in a row on the road before losing today but the news of the week was popular batting and steals champ Dee Gordon being suspended for half a season in midst of club feeling better about itself than it has all year. Weird. Gordon out for PEDs while team's winning streak was on steroids.

4. NFL: The 81st NFL Draft wraps up in Chicago: Three days, seven rounds, 253 players, and if you paid much attention beyond your favorite team's selection in the first round, please have yourself evaluated by a mental-health professional. Somewhere, the first 2017 Mock Draft is now out. Oh how I wish I were kidding.

5. NBA: Two Sunday Game 7s set the four second-round pairings: Three matchups had been set: Spurs-Thunder, Warriors-Trail Blazers and Cavaliers-Hawks. The fourth materialized Sunday with Game 7 wins by Heat and Raptors. There is nothing better in sports than a Game 7, by the way. But only if your team wins.  

6. TOM BRADY: Appeals court upholds Brady suspension, a break for Miami: Patriots already were only team without a first-round draft pick, forfeited because of Deflategate. Then a court upheld Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, so Miami won’t face the star QB in Week 2. It's a strange, unfamiliar feeling for Pats fans. It’s called "losing."

7. NHL: Hockey playoffs down to final eight into second round: Florida Panthers were unexpectedly among teams eliminated in the first round, but the NHL's eight surviving teams forge into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, otherwise known as “Mourning in Canada.”

8. HORSES: Countdown five days until thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown season: The 142nd Kentucky Derby starts it off next Saturday at Churchill Downs. Admit it, though. It was a lot more fun wondering if some horse would finally end the long Triple Crown drought than wondering if some horse will win it a second straight year.

9. RUNNING: Latest MIami Corporate Run draws more than 26,000 runners: Thursday's two winners? Two people who should have been at work. Doesn't it seem like there are an awful lot of these corporate runs? If all these employees would spend less time running and more time working, their companies might be more profitable. 

10. SPORTS TV: ESPN losing more of its on-air talent: Exodus may be too strong a word but now Skip Bayless (for FOX) and Mike Tirico (for NBC) are the latest to leave ESPN. Bottom line? How can Bayless being heard by far fewer people possibly be a bad thing for America?

Missing the cut: Floyd Mayweather Jr. hints at coming out of retirement. The national group, People Surprised By That, is meeting tonight, corner phone booth ..... Hurricanes and Gators will open 2019 football season with nuetral-site game in Orlando. So you're down to 40 months to plan that tailgate party ..... Marlins reveal plan to boost attendance, announce postgame concert every game by Beyonce ..... Dolphins' two best defensive players, Ndamukong Suh and Reshad Jones, both skipped the team's three-day voluntary veterans camp. Which passed for controversy until that gas-mask bong ..... Bernice Brunson has begun spring practice at Miami Jackson as the state's first female high-school head football coach. From this point forward, equal rights will mean she gets second-guessed and booed and eventually fired just like the men ..... UM baseball falls from 1 to 3 in polls ..... I just had the sweetest dream. I dreamed that, somehow, Udonis Haslem found himself alone in a dark alley for 10 minutes with the Charlotte Hornets' Purple Shirt Guy fan ..... That reminds me. The #BringBoshBack social-media hashtag needs an update: #BringBoshBackEventually ..... The Cubs have ace pitcher Jake Arrieta and the majors' best record. Still, betting that for every Cubs fans thinking this is finally the year, there are a hundred thinking they've thought that before ..... The Indianapolis 500 (coming up May 29) has named an official poet laureate. OK, what rhymes with carbeurator? ..... Johnny Manziel was indicted. My question: What with all that partying, how does he find the time for domestic assault?

HOW'D THE DOLPHINS DO? GRADING MIAMI's 2016 DRAFT: Is this poll wildly premature? Of course! But think of it this way: Somewhere, somebody is already putting together a 2017 Mock DolgradeDraft. The world moves fast. What can I say? So. You've heard or read all the opinions of the media blowhards, local and national. You've seen all the data spewed Dollogorat-a-tat-tat by the Mel Kipers. You've mulled over all of the instant grades the analysts have given. You've heard the Dolphins -- and 31 other teams -- rave about how wonderfully the past three days worked out and how they loovvve their draft. And you've listened to your neighbors and friends -- every one of them an expert, no doubt. My opinion? Maybe a B. For me, a little too much bust-potential on Tunsil. And three WRs for a team strong at that position? But now it's your turn. How'd the Dolphins do? Again, I know. Can't really know for a year or three. But I'm writing a daily blog here, not a set of encyclopedias, so this can't wait. I'm curious your gut feeling on the entirety of the Miami draft. Were the "need" positions properly addressed? Was there too much emphasis on offense with six of eight picks including three wide receivers? Were there players available at 13 in the first round you'd have rather seen drafted? Consider all eight Dolphins picks (listed here below the poll) and render an overall gut-feeling grade. Vote and then check back often to monitor evolving results.

Dolphins 2016 Draft:

1r (13) -- Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

2r (38) -- Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor

3r (73) -- Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama

3r (86) -- Leonte Caroo, WR, Rutgers

6r (186) -- Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas tech

6r (204) -- Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State

7r (231) -- Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky

7r (250) -- Thomas Duarte, WR, UCLA

Poll result: Dolfans really like the Tunsil pick in first round: The gas-mask bong did not dissuade you. We asked how you felt about Miami drafting Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil 13th overall, and it was 54.7 percent "love it" and 23.8% "like" -- a favorable rating of more than 78%. Naysayers were 8.6% "don't like" and 6.2% "hate," with the remaining 6.7% undecided.

THE LIST: SOUTH FLORIDA GAME 7'S: The Panthers were one win shy of getting to one this season, but the Heat weren't. Sunday will be the 13th Game 7 in Miami's sports history, the 10th at home and the ninth by the Heat. The history of playoff Game 7's by the Heat, Panthers and Marlins: 

HEAT

First round          May 1, 2016 at home          Won 106-73 vs Hornets

NBA Finals          June 20, 2013 at home       Won 95-88 vs Spurs

East finals           June 3, 2013 at home         Won 99-76 vs Pacers

East finals           June 9, 2012 at home         Won 101-88 vs Celtics

First round           May 3, 2009 in Atlanta       Lost 91-78 vs Hawks

East finals           June 6, 2005 at home         Lost 88-82 vs Pistons

First round          May 4, 2004 at home         Won 85-77 vs Hornets

East semis           May 21, 2000 at home       Lost 83-82 vs Knicks

East semis           May 18, 1997 at home       Won 101-90 vs Knicks

PANTHERS

First round          Apr. 26, 2012 at home         Lost 3-2 vs Devils

East finals           June 1, 1996 in Pittsburgh   Won 3-1 vs Penguins

MARLINS

NLCS                  Oct. 15, 2003 in Chicago     Won 9-6 vs Cubs

World Series        Oct. 26, 1997 at home        Won 3-2 vs Indians

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 30, 2016

Wild Ride: Dwyane Wade's season-saving heroics, Laremy Tunsil's selection, Dee Gordon suspension equal wildest 24 hours in Miami sports history; plus Dolphins' Day 2-3 draft, history of Fins OLs and UM DBs in 1st round & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 30. Fare thee well, April! 2) Ray Lewis' son, Ray Anthony Lewis III, briefly a Miami Hurricane, has been charged with criminal sexual misconduct in South Carolina. Story here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft Laremy Tunsil No. 1 with poll, live-mocking my Mock Draft with results, Fins' sad track record in first round, Marlins best team in town, your Bosh vs. Heat verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Curious Pick, Major Gamble, the latest, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick last night. Heat Has Bigger Concerns Than #BringBoshBack, off Miami's damaging Game 5 home playoff loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on what Fins should be thinking for their top draft pick.

SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS' WILDEST 24 HOURS EVER?: I think we've just experienced Miami sports' most dramatic 24 hours ever in the stuff I hit on in this blogpost. I think I'd nominate the 24 hours from late Thursday night through late last night. We had the Marlins finish a road sweep of the Dodgers on a Giancarlo Stanton homer followed immediately by the 80-suspension of Dee Gordon. We had the Dolphins creating the most buzz in the entire NFL Draft first round in selecting tackle Laremy Tunsil despite that infamous gas-mask-bong video. And we had Dwyane Wade sinking two late 3's (a shot he'd last made in December) in a must-win that kept the Heat season alive. Wild ride. Thank you, again, sports.

G6: HEAT 97, CHARLOTTE 90: WADE'S LATE HEROICS LIFT MIAMI, FORCE GAME 7: Not yet. The Heat aren't done yet. There will be a Game 7 Sunday at 1 p.m. back in Miami after last night's 97-90 Miami win in Charlotte evened this first-round playoff series 3-3. Dwyane Wade led Miami with 23 points with 10 in the telling fourth quarter -- including two 3-point baskets. Wade had last hit a 3 in December. What wonderful late heroics by the Heat's all-time great. D-Wade took it upon himself to save this game, and series, and keep the season alive. ..... Original post: The Heat never have blown a 2-0 playoff series lead and lost. Thirteen times they have led 2-0 and 13 times Heathornetsthey have advanced. That historic franchise streak is at risk tonight in Charlotte with Miami trailing 3-2 and the Hornets a 2-point favorite. A Charlotte streak could end, too. The franchise last won a playoff series 14 years ago. That and the underdog role in this series has the Hornets playing with a "a huge chip on our shoulder," as G6Kemba Walker put it. Miami is stunned to find itself in this predicament after winning the first two games at home by a combined 44 points, seemingly in control. Charlotte's defense has limited Miami to 38.6 percent shooting in the three games since. And the Heat's own defense has struggled stopping Hornets guards Walker and Jeremy Lin. Charlotte's 3-point shooting also came alive in the last game. Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "Nobody said this was going to be easy. Nobody's giving out free tickets to the second round. You do have to earn it. It's our first real test when our backs are against the wall. These are the games you remember." Miami tonight will need more of the vintage Wade who scored 25 in Game 5, but Wade needs more help. Calling Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, especially. Because only the season depends on it. It will end tonight for the Heat, or survive for a Game 7 on Sunday back in Miami.

AFTERSHOCK: LAREMY TUNSIL HAS DOLPHINS IN SPOTLIGHT: I don't step back from my column; click on Curious Pick, Major Gamble to read in full. Many in the national media are swooning over Miami's unexpected windfall. So are many Dolfans (see poll below). I'm more skeptical, acknowledging Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil is a great talent but also admitting his off- Tunsil
Gasmaskfield issues and injury history make his Bust Potential bigger than most. Also, Miami has just spent its top pick on a tackle (not a position of urgent need) with plans to try to make him a guard. Hmm. He'll be the world's biggest, least-experienced guard. Weird. I haven't even gotten to the gas mask yet. Let's talk about the off-field baggage. The domestic assault charge (later dropped) against his stepfather, who is suing him. The seven-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits. The admission he took cash from an Ole Miss coach. And of course the hacked Twitter account that last night exposed the image shown of Tunsil smoking pot through a gas-mask bong. A bleepin' GAS-MASK BONG! "Years ago," Tunsil said of the photo. Well, two years ago, it turns out. Somebody did Tunsil dirty with that hack job. I feel bad his big draft night was enveloped in controversy. But it is him in the photo. So, who is Miami getting here? The great talent who will eventually be Ryan Tannehill's blindside protector for many years? Or a guy who needs a gas-mask because he can't get enough smoke -- a guy whose risk may outweigh his potential? Even with those doubts I would give Miami high marks for the totality of their first round, because it must include cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, who arrived from Philly when Miami first traded down from 8th to 13th. In effect, the Dolphins just got three starters in the first round. But! It also is fair to note Maxwell is coming off a terrible season, Alonso must reverse his decline since his excellent rookie season, and Tunsil arrives with character questions. So: If, if, if. If Maxwell bounces back and is starter-caliber. If Alonso shows the rookie we saw was no fluke. If Tunsil proves everybody wrong and is the steal of the draft. If all three happen Miami just had an A-plus first round. If.

And ... weird got weirder: Top Dolphins draft pick Laremy Tunsil could not attend his 3:30 introductory press conference yesterday because (it was said) he suffered an "allergic reaction" of undetermined origin at the team's Davie facility. Allergic to questions about gas masks, maybe, because he did speak about 70 minutes later, seemed fine, but would not address any controversies, saying he was there only "to talk about the Miami Dolphins."

And there's this...: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Ravens, picking 6th, passed on Tunsil because of that gas-mask-bong video. That's Baltimore, a smarter, better-drafting, more successful team than Miami in the past 15 years. I'm just sayin'. Something to mull over for you folks so critical of me for being too critical of Miami's 1R choice.

Dolphins' Day 2 draft:

2nd round (38th overall) -- Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor: Smart position-need pick, 6-foot, 200 pounds, big, physical corner, good against the run, 9 interceptions past two seasons. Miami traded up 4 spots (giving up a 4th round pick) to select Howard, suggesting a lot of love and the hope he'll start as a rookie opposite Byron Maxwell. 

3rd round (73rd overall) -- Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama: Needed a running back. Got one. Would have preferred fellow 'Bama RB Derrick Henry, but he went 45th overall. Like that Miami targeted and hit on its two main position needs on Day 2.

3rd round (86th overall) -- Leonte Caroo, WR, Rutgers: Miami traded up into round for this added third rounder at large cost, giving up two Day 3 picks. Dolphins tried to trade up to select LB Myles Jack. I'm more interested in what they did do on Day 2. Trading up twice comes with a cost in lost Day 3 picks and reduced depth via rounds 3 through 7 today.

Dolphins' Day 3 draft:

4th round -- No pick.

5th round -- No pick.

6th round (186th overall) -- Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech. Traded up 10 spots to get him, givgin up one of three 7th-round picks to do so. That's four out of five picks so far designed to make Ryan Tannehill's life easier.

6th round (204th overall) -Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State.

7th round (223rd overall) -- Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky. Local kid, born and raised in Davie.

7th round (231st overall) -- Thomas Duarte. WR, UCLA. Finis!

SAY IT AIN'T SO, DEE: BOMBSHELL ROCKS MARLINS: It was 1:17 a.m. in the East on Friday morning. The Marlins had just wo a fifth straight game by completing a four-game road sweep of the DeegordonL.A. Dodgers on a win by Jose Fernandez fueled by Giancarlo Stanton's seventh home run. The Fish were riding a season high. That's when the news broke that star second baseman Dee Gordon (pictured) had tested positive for testosterone and another PED and was suspended immediately for 80 games without pay by MLB. (Full story here). The gut reaction? "Him, of all people?" Second reaction: "If he's dirty, is anybody clean!?" This rocks the stereotype of PED use; this rocks the faith. Gordon is a waif of a man, the opposite of the power hitter looking for artificial muscles through illegal juice. Gordon also is the Good Guy personified, of the (formerly) perfect image, a great, smiling face of the franchise and of the too-few African Americans in baseball. A role model. All that. And all that takes a hit now as Gordon sits humiliated until after the all-star break, his earliest return set at July 29. Gordon called it an innocent mistake in a statement Friday, saying, in part: "Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences." Of course the shocker of a suspension has a pragmatic effect, too. Gordon is the reigning NL batting champion and stolen base leader. Though he was hitting only .266 so far this year, he's tough to replace. Derek Dietrich will be the likely new regular at second base. Who'll replace Gordon as leadoff hitter is dicier. With no great candidate it could be Martin Prado, who does not have classic leadoff speed but gets on base, a plus for that role. Meanwhile, what a bone-rattling disappointment! Say it ain't so, Dee. [Update: Dietrich at second, Ichiro leading off tonight at Milwaukee].

THE LIST: HURRICANES FIRST-ROUND DEFENSIVE BACKS: Of 61 Miami Hurricanes selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since the first in 1956, 13 have been defensive backs. The 13th happened last night with Artie Burns, who is pictured on the phone with the Steelers at his draft party held at The Betsy hotel on South Beach. UM's 13 1R DBs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating players still active, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:

Player                            Year (No.) / Team                NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade

ArtieburnsArtie Burns-*                   2016 (25th) / Steelers          TBD

Kenny Phillips-*               2008 (31st) / Giants             59/0/C

Brandon Meriweather-*    2007 (24th) / Patriots          112/2/B

Kelly Jennings                 2006 (31st) / Seahawks        91/0/C-

Antrel Rolle-*                  2005 (8th) / Cardinals         155/3/B+

Sean Taylor                     2004 (5th) / Redskins           55/2/A

Philip Buchanon               2002 (17th) / Raiders          122/0/B-

Ed Reed                          2002 (24th) / Ravens           174/9/A+

Mike Rumph                    2002 (27th) / 49ers              43/0/D

Duane Starks                   1998 (10th) / Ravens           97/0/C

Darryl Williams                1992 (28th) / Bengals          156/1/B

Bennie Blades                  1988 (3rd) / Lions               136/1/B-

Burgess Owens                 1973 (13th) / Jets               137/0/C+

THE LIST: DOLPHINS FIRST-ROUND OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: The Dolphins have drafted an offensive lineman in the first round 11 times, the 11th last night. Miami's 11 1R OLs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating active players, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:

Player                             Year (No.) / College            NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade

Laremy Tunsil-*                2016 (13th) / Ole Miss         TBD

Ja'Wuan James-*              2014 (19th) / Tennessee       23/0/Inc.

Mike Pouncey-*                 2011 (15th) / Florida           72/3/B

Jake Long-*                     2008 (1st) / Michigan           100/4/B-

Vernon Carey                   2004 (19th) / Miami             121/0/C+

Billy Milner                      1995 (25th) / Houston          30/0/F

Richmond Webb               1990 (9th) / Texas A&M        184/7/A

Roy Foster                       1982 (24th) / USC                 127/2/B

Jon Giesler                      1979 (24th) / Michigan         105/0/B-

Darryl Carlton                  1975 (23rd) / Tampa            36/0/F

Doug Crusan                     1968 (27th) / Indiana          82/0/C

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 11, 2016

The new Hot Button Top 10, starring Heat, Cats, Fish, Masters, Warriors, Kobe, Miami FC, Fins, Pacquiao and Nyquist; plus Dolphins woes quantified, your verdicts on LeBron/Kobe & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Should Heat retire LeBron James' number poll, Kiper's latest Dolphins mock draft, Heat and Panthers playoff outlooks, does golf miss Tiger Woods poll, Dolphins preseason schedule, your Rock Hall verdict, mourning Merle Haggard & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent general columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Now the Proving Begins, as Panthers end regular season and face playoffs. Out Of Excuses, off Marlins Opening Night. Power and Porcelain, Marlins season preview.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami wins home finale, zeroes in on home court for playoffs: Heat whipped Orlando 118-96 in its home final Sunday but enters last three days of the regular season still unsure where it will finish or who its first-round opponent will be. Simplest scenario: Miami will have home-court advantaged if it finishes 2-0 by winning at Detroit Tuesday and at Boston Wednesday. That Boston game could be winner-take for the home court. Finish delicioso! Meantime Hassan Whiteside says he won’t campaign for the NBA defensive player of year award while casually mentioning he has more blocks than a Toys ‘R Us.

2. PANTHERS: Cats await Islanders in playoff Game 1 Thursday: Cats won their home finale Saturday (my column here) and now face the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series here Thursday night, with Game 2 here Friday night -- an odd postseason back-to-back. Cats dodged a bullet by not getting the tougher first-round draw vs. the Rangers. Either way, this was known: Florida -– unlike the entire country of Canada -– is competing for the Stanley Cup.

3. MARLINS: Fish trying to bounce back from rough early start: Has Jeffrey Loria fired Don Mattingly yet? Kidding, sort of, but an 0-2 start at home including the end of Jose Fernandez’ record 17-game Marlins Park winning streak wasn’t the season launch Miami hoped for, and now Miami is 1-3 in the midst of six straight road games vs. the division-power Nationals and Mets. One (very) early-season certainty: How much Marlins' TV broadcasts are missing Tommy Hutton.

4. GOLF: Spieth's collapse snatches green jacket from his hands: World’s No. 2 golfer and top American Jordan Spieth carried a 5-shot lead into the back nine of The Masters at Augusta on Sunday, then collapsed with a quadruple-boey 7 on the par 3 12th hole, and Danny Willett waltzed past him for the green jacket. Poor Danny. The 2016 Masters will be remembered not as the one he won, but as the one Spieth gave away.

5. NBA: Golden State's pursuit, Kobe's final game hog stage: Simple now for Golden State (72-9). Warriors must win at home vs. Memphis Wednesday night to break the Chicago Bulls' 1996 NBA record of 72 wins. On the Kobe Watch, Lakers are on road tonight, then Kobe Bryant plays his final NBA game at home on Wednesday -- same night Warriors go for the record. Has an NBA regular season ever finished bigger?

6. SOCCER: Miami FC makes inaugural home debut: Expansion team Miami FC tied Tampa Bay 1-1 in its home debut in the NASL Saturday night. More important, the new team drew more than 10,000 fans to FIU Stadium, decidedly more than most FIU football games draw. 

7. DOLPHINS: Ross names successor as draft nears: With the April 28 NFL Draft bearing in, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross named New York real estate mogul and longtime business partner Bruce Beal as the potential successor who'll have first rights to buy franchise when Ross, 75, sells or dies. Super Bowl or bust, Steve. Tick tock.

8. BOXING: Manny Pacquiao wins his (supposed) final fight: He beat Timothy Bradley in a unanimous decision last night in Las Vegas. Pacquiao therafter immediately announced he was retiring, which is boxspeak for, "Anticipation of my eventual comeback will hopefully stoke interest in the PPV bonanza of a Mayweather rematch."

9. HORSE RACING: Nyquist wins Florida Derby as Triple Crown season looms: Nyquist's impressive triumph in the Florida Derby positions the horse as an early favorite to win the Kentucky Derby on May 7. Surprising bloodline. Nyquist's sire, Nyquil, was best known for falling asleep in the starting gate.

10. HURRICANES: UM spring football wraps up in five days: Miami's annual intrasquad offense vs. defense Spring Game is this coming Saturday afternoon, April 16, at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. I'm betting big on the Hurricanes to win. And lose.

Missing the cut: Thousands will swarm Miami’s ocean sands Sunday for the finish of the Global Champions Tour of Olympic-style equestrian show jumping. I’m betting on Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani, a Qatar royal, because I hear his family just bought Miami Beach, the ocean and the event to assure he’ll win ... R.I.P., former New Orleans Saint Will Smith, shot dead in a road-rage incident ... U.S. women's soccer has filed a lawsuit demanding equal pay to the men. That is so ridiculous. Based on performance, the women should make at least three times more ... Entering Sunday's MLB games only the Baltimore Orioles remain unbeaten. "Good luck with that," sneered the '72 Dolphins ... First time since 1970 no Canadian teams in Stanley Cup playoffs. New national anthem: No Canada! ... This just in. UConn women's basketball has been awarded the next six national championships in a time-saving measure ... Recently (I'm serious) the No. 75-ranked Hurricanes men's tennis team hosted No. 41 North Carolina State. Um, is it possible college tennis might wanna tap the brakes on how many teams it ranks? ... An unnamed MLB scout told us that an anonymously quoted rival scout is full of s--- ... Novak Djokovic won the Miami Open but Serena Williams did not. For once, women's tennis is less predictable ... The 24th-ranked men's tennis player is an American named Jack Sock. He's a shoe-in ... The Lakers' D'Angelo Russell was wired for sound the other game. Not for TV. To secretly record his teammates ... No. 2-ranked UM baseball was snowed out of its series at Notre Dame. Duh. Games shoulda been here like Jim Morris said ... Finally, Ernie Els 7-putted the first green at The Masters. There's a phrase for that in golf: "Greg Cote."

THE LIST: THE DOLPHINS: THE (SAD) COMPANY THEY KEEP: The Dolphins' last winning season (no, .500 doesn't count) was 2008. I wondered how many of the 122 franchises in the Big Four sports have a longer drought, including the current NBA and NHL seasons. Answer: Seven. Longest droughts since last winning season (LWS):

Team                                League    LWS

Oakland Raiders                NFL        2002

St. Louis (now L.A.) Rams  NFL        2003

Edmonton Oilers                NHL       2004

Minnesota Timberwolves    NBA        2005

Sacramento Kings              NBA        2006 

Cleveland Browns              NFL        2007

Jacksonville Jaguars          NFL        2007

Miami Dolphins                 NFL         2008

Note: Marlins' LWS was 2009, longest drought in MLB. Panthers' LWS had been 2000, worst in NHL, but that drought ended this season. 

Poll result: No! Most don't favor Heat retiring LeBron's jersey: We asked, and 58.0 percent of you said no. Much disagreement, though, with 34.6% saying yes and 7.4% undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 18, 2015

Do you like the Miami Herald's new redesigned look? New poll. Vote now!; plus Hurricanes-Nebraska hype video, list of UM's 21 current NFL starters, NFL Week 2 picks, Canton betting odds, FSU tonight & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins DE Cam Wake and S Reshad Jones both questionable for Sunday with hamstring injuries, although, in the NFL, "questionable" usually means they'll play. 2) Sorry we've been a bit stagnant with the blog this week; been under the weather. 3) Click on Random Evidence for the farewell collector's edition of our last Sunday notes column. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Butch Davis invades Al Golden's backyard, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Headline: 'Russian Pranksters Fool Elton John With Fake Phone Call from Vladimir Putin.' My reaction: "Who knew Russia had pranksters?" --Greg Cote

Top party schools: Noles No. 3: Playboy's dubious annual list of Top Party Schools is out, with a Top 5 of Ohio U., Iowa, Florida State, Tulane and Illinois. Click here for the full list. FSU ranked that high is a surprise, considering Jameis Winston left.

I LIKE THE HERALD'S NEW REDESIGNED LOOK. DO YOU?: I've been known to complain, even to occasionally say and write things about the Miami Herald that annoy my bosses. For example, when we 1aa1aheraldchanged the website last fall in a way that fundamentally discouraged comments in blogs, I hated that and said so. This week we changed the look of both the print (newspaper) and digital (online) Herald, and I think it looks terrific. Congrats to all involved. I like the emphasis on visual presentation and the compatibility across all formats. Also like the emphasis and on our personalities and other things unique to the Herald. Honestly, you can get basic news anywhere. But you can't get Leonard Pitts and Carl Hiaasen and our investigative journalism anywhere else, for example. Still getting used to the near-lifesize, full-length photo of me that now runs with my columns, but that's another story. Hey, we need to change, improve. We're fighters. We don' quit. We are an industry adapting to evolving, turbulent times for the business. I think this week is a positive step. Do you? I know change is often hard. Our knee-jerk reaction is often to not like it, to resist. We like things we're used to. With that understanding, I'm curious how you feel about the new look. Vote and say why.

UPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 2: Our 25th Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions got off to a boffo start last week with an 11-5 mark overall and 10-5-1 vs. the spread. [Boffo: Slang adjective, now 1aa1afripixrarely used, meaning extremely successful; great]. Week 2 took off swell as well as I bull's-eyed last night's outright Broncos upset at Kansas City. Did I get lucky? Lucky schmucky. Those breaks go both ways. I'll take it. Click on Week 2 Gems for all our latest NFL picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins handle Jax easily, Pats turn back Rex Ryan in Game of the Week, and Lions win at Minny in Upset of Week. Also click on Canes' NFL Influence Is Graying for my accompanying Friday Page column. I examine the state-college players currently on rosters, and list the dozen players (10 UM, 1 FIU, 1 FAU) from SoFla schools who are both current starters and have made at least one Pro Bowl. Our observation: the top Canes are a graying lot (think Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork) that could use replenishing. Only LSU with 40 has more than UM's 38 active NFL'ers, a list infused with this year's seven drafted rookies. But the Canes are looking for their next big star. The youngest Pro Bowl Cane is Jimmy Graham (who wasn't even a football recruit). Who's next? See The List below for the Canes' 21 current NFL starters.

Canton betting odds: Via sportsbettingdime.com, favorites for the next Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class are Brett Favre at a should-be-off-the-board 1-25, Orlando Pace at 1-3, Kevin Greene at 1-3, Kurt Warner at 5-6, Marvin Harrison at 2-3 and Tony Dungy at 2-3. (I'm not nearly that certain on Greene). Reasonable longshots are Terrell Davis 2-1, Don Coryell 5-2, Roger Craig 3-1, Terrell Owens 10-3 and ex-Cane Edgerrin James 4-1.

CANES-HUSKERS HYPE VIDEO: If you're not already pumped for UM-Nebraska tomorrow a 1-minute video might not help, but here's one anyway, via The U today:

 THE LIST: HURRICANES STARTERS IN THE NFL: There are 38 former Hurricanes on current NFL rosters. Here, by team, are the 21 (on 15 teams) who are listed as starters on their team's current depth chart:

ARI: DE Calais Campbell

ATL: P Matt Bosher, RET Devin Hester

BUF: OT Seantrel Henderson

CAR: TE Greg Olsen

CHI: P Pat O'Donnell, S Antrel Rolle

GB: CB Sam Shields

HOU: DT Vince Wilfork

IND: RB Frank Gore, WR Andre Johnson

JAC: WR Allen Hurns, OG Brandon Linder

KC: DE Allen Bailey

MIA: RB Lamar Miller, DE Olivier Vernon

NYG: LB Jon Beason, OT Ereck Flowers

OAK: LB Ray-Ray Armstrong

SD: OG Orlando Franklin

SEA: TE Jimmy Graham

SEMINOLES FACING UPSET?: No. 9-ranked Florida State is a modest 7 1/2-point favorite at 2-0 Boston College tonight at 8, and an upset would not shock me. (Surprise, yes. Shock, no). Fans of the Miami Hurricanes, who visit FSU Oct. 10, will be scout-watching keenly on ESPN.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

June 04, 2015

Who's No. 2? Name the greatest Dolphins player after Dan Marino. Poll. Vote now!; plus FIFA-prez and NFL-win odds, latest 'Weighing The Fish', answering LeBatard Tweets, Florida title games, Caitlyn Jenner verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JUNE 4. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner with poll, Blatter resigns, Canes to super-regional, Hot Button Top 10, Wade/contract verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Updated NFL win over/unders: Via Bovada, updated AFC East over/unders on wins has Patriots at 10.5, Dolphins and Bills both 8.5 and Jets 7.5. Joining Pats in double-figures are Colts, Packers and Seahawks at 11 each and Broncos at 10.

FIFA next-president odds: With Sepp Blatter resigned in shame and amid scandal, Bovada has co-favorites at 3-2 odds to replace him: Prince Ali Al-Hussein, who ran against Blatter and lost last week; and Michel Platini, the former French star who is president of the European football union.

AND THE DOLPHINS' SECOND-GREATEST PLAYER EVER IS...: You know the Dolphins' 50th anniversary 1aa1adoltwo1 1aa1adoltwoseason is upcoming. The team will be making a big deal of it. So will the Miami Herald. As a part of that I'll be naming the Top 50 figures in franchise history in our special section coming out in August -- figures, meaning not just players. However for the purpose of this poll I'm sticking to players, conceding that (spoiler alert!) Dan Marino is No. 1, and inviting you to suggest who should be the franchise's top-ranked player other than Marino. I have listed six reasonable contenders plus a slot for "other." You can only choose one. (Nobody said life was fair, or easy). Remember, this is the greatest Dolphins player not counting Marino. Vote and say why you chose as you did.

1aa1akitkatSTANTON TUMBLES IN NL MVP RACE: Former NL MVP favorite Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins has tumbled to fifth-favorite (tied) at 12-1 odds. Nationals' Bryce Harper is now favored at 2-1. Marlin Dee Gordon is on the board at 20-1. Stanton's power numbers are MVP-worthy -- 16 homers, 45 RBIs -- but his candidacy is plundered by a .230 batting average, by Miami's 21-32 record and of course by the fact he eats Kit Kat bars all wrong.

WEIGHING THE FISH (50 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-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our fifth 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 50 games (actually 53, at 21-32 before last night's win; oops):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @40 

1  Giancarlo Stanton      243.7    1

2  Dee Gordon                  219.9    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria  174.8   3

4  Martin Prado              173.7   5

5  Marcell Ozuna            165.1   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         118.9    7

7  Justin Bour                 115.2   --

8  Ichiro Suzuki              107.9   6

9  Christian Yelich        102.3   9

10  Michael Morse            91.7   8

Note: Season WTFs count is now Stanton 3, Gordon 2.

ANSWERING LEBATARD SHOW TWEETS: I rarely respond directly to or answer Tweets (sorry), but here are responses to a select few related to my Tuesday appearance on the Dan LeBatard Show: To snarkyRedhd: I'm pro-Caitlyn Jenner and use "she"  .....  ericlnewmark: The Singing Sportswriter semi-retired  .....  RoxFan17: Except I don't fish  .....  TheEpistle: Yes my email is gcote@miamiherald.com  .....  crherbs: No. LeBatard buys the $40 cigars. I buy a 5-pack for $10.99  .....  mfr234: Fusion TV did the Fatty Arbuckles photoshop, so no idea what you mean  .....  Thanks en masse to all those who sent complimentary Tweets. My favorite, from loggylog1: "If you don't like @gregcote you don't like America."

Poll result: Much negativity on Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn: Not for the first time I find many of my readers to be a bit less tolerant than I'd prefer, but, hey, it's a free country. We asked, and 49.7 percent had a negative view of Jenner's transgendering, finding the tale too weird for words. Another 34.8% were positive, saying "good for her," while 15.5% were unsure what to think.

THE LIST: FLORIDA TEAMS PLAYING FOR CHAMPIONSHIP: Tampa Bay, in the current Stanley Cup Finals that began last night, marks the 19th time a team from the state of Florida has played for the championship of the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL. The complete list, chronologically:

Season    Team                    Result

1971       Dolphins                L Cowboys

1972       Dolphins                W Redskins

1973       Dolphins                W Vikings

1982       Dolphins                L Redskins

1984       Dolphins                L 49ers

1995       Magic                    L Rockets

1996       Panthers                L Avalanche

1997       Marlins                  W Indians

2002       Buccaneers            W Raiders

2003       Marlins                  W Yankees

2004       Lightning              W Flames

2006       Heat                     W Mavericks

2008       Rays                      L Phillies

2009       Magic                    L Lakers

2011       Heat                     L Mavericks

2012       Heat                     W Thunder

2013       Heat                     W Spurs

2014       Heat                     L Spurs

2015       Lightning              Vs. Blackhawks

The city totals: Miami 13 (5 Dolphins, 5 Heat, 2 Marlins, 1 Panthers); Tampa 4 (2 Lightning, 1 Bucs, 1 Rays); and Orlando 2 (both Magic).

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

September 05, 2013

It's Upset Bird Day in America! Dolphins, NFL Week 1 predix; plus Stephen Ross poll & more

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6. I read that Le Batard from now on will hardly be writing for the Herald except when he wants to. Sort of like now. 2) Holed up today in the Random Evidence Dungeon concocting the Sunday notes column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron's new TV show, debut of SOPY rankings, your grade on my fantasy team, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

Pick for FIU home opener: It's tonight. Not convinced Orlando's UCF is all that special, but looks like it doesn't take special to beat the '13 FIU Panthers. My pick: UCF, 37-17. 

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 1 PICKS FOR DOLPHINS, NFL: The mayors of several prominent Miami-Dade cities have officially declared today Upset Bird Day. OK, no they haven't. But only because they're all in 1aa1birdujail. Today of course marks the start of my 23rd season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Click on Week 1 Gems for the complete game-by-game capsules, and on Sorry, Houston for my accompanying NFL column outlining my division-by-division forecast and Super Bowl pick. The Friday Page unfurls with good news and bad news for the Dolphins. Strange as it sounds, I have Miami losing its opener Sunday at Cleveland, yet making the playoffs as a wild-card. I split last night's Kickoff Weekend opener in Denver. I had the Broncos beating the Ravens, but not covering the 7.5-point line. Nobody likes a showoff, Peyton. Geez.

ON STEPHEN ROSS, HIS STADIUM AND MICHIGAN: I admire billionaires who are generous and philanthropic. Bill Gates shares his wealth; Donald Trump, not so much. Maybe that is why they are held in such different regard. In that spirit I applaud Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for his $200 million 1aa1rosssdonation this week to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, a record donation for the school. Cynics always go straight to "tax write-off." Fine. It's true that when the legalities are worked out this will end up costing him considerbaly less than 200M. But he's still donating a ton of money that he didn't have to. What interests me the most in this is that his donation comes just weeks after Ross fought so hard in a losing battle to gain public funding for about that same amount of money for renovations to Dolphins stadium. Hmm. Half of me still applauds Ross, but the other half wonders why he doesn't just pay for his own stadium improvements. He'd get the money back, after all, because a franchise with a modernized, Super Bowl-attracting stadium is more valuable than what he has right now. Anyway, the poll is food for thought. Vote and say why.

1aa1nevermoreUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY: [From Thursday] The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction pages 1aa1birduthis week -- Sept. 6, tomorrow -- and we began a 10-day countdown honoring outstanding notable birds. Today, at 1 day, we save the best for last and shine a reverent light on the mystical Nevermore, the mysterious namesake from Edgar Allan Poe's classic 1845 narrative poem, The Raven. This was inevitable, of course. The Upset Bird finds his heroic inspiration, his very muse, in Poe's talking blackbird. One said, "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore'." The other said, "Aawwk!" Different times, same idea.

Ravens-Broncos Thursday night pick: Make it Denver, 31-27 tonight, with Baltimore beating the 7 1/2-point line but not the opponent. Click HERE for our introductory and full predix capsule, a morsel of an appetizer for our Friday Page debut. [Broncos won, 49-27]

Thursday state FBS-school pick: FAU at East Carolina. My pick: East Carolina, 34-17. [EC won 31-13]

I'M NOW 'VERIFIED' ON TWITTER: There is no way to mention this as an oh-by-the-way aside or 1aa1verifiedmention it at all without it seeming like bragging, so I'll admit it was a surprise and mini-cheap thrill yesterday to see that little blue Verified Account checkmark magically appear beside my Twitter name @gregcote. Didn't seek it. Can't explain it. Not sure what it does. The one drawback: Much harder now to say something stupid and claim it wasn't me.

THE LIST: HURRICANES VS. GATORS: The Miami-Florida rivalry by decades:

Decade    UM record / Coaches

1930s    1-1 / Harding

1940s    4-5 / Harding, Dunn, Gustafson 

1950s    6-4 / Gustafson

1960s    5-5 / Gustafson, Tate

1970s    3-7 / Kichefski, Curci, Elliott, Selmer, Saban, Schnellenberger

1980s    5-3 / Schnellenberger, Johnson, Erickson

1990s    0-0 / Erickson, Davis

2000s    4-1 / Davis, Coker, Shannon

Totals    28-26

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...