August 06, 2015

Here it is: Your choice for the Top 10 Greatest Dolphins of All-Time! (No. 1 won't surprise you, but the order on 2-10 and who didn't make it might); plus my reunion/Keys trip & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 6. Thanks to those who missed me on radio/TV with the Dan LeBatard Show this week. Spent a few days off (details below). 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Greatest Dolphins 50th Anniversary poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1ahowardsPut Howard in the Hall!: I make the case, in today's latest column, why Howard Schnellenberger, Miami's first national-championship coach, should be voted into the College Football Hall of Fame despite not meeting the criteria of a minimum .600 career winning percentage. Click on Let Howard In! to read the column in full.

We're No. 6!: Travel+Leisure's annual survey of America's 15 Unfriendliest Cities ranks Miami sixth. Oy! Complete list here.

No, wait, we're No. 29!: Wonder why Dolphins stadium is undergoing a major renovation/facelift? The old place is ranked No. 29 of 31 NFL stadiums in a new piece via AOL.com. List here

YOUR TOP 10 GREATEST DOLPHINS OF ALL-TIME: We invited you to select, from our hand-picked list of 30 finalists, the Top 10 Greatest Dolphins of All-Time and more than 7,000 votes were cast -- with 1aa1adanmarinoimpressive results. I'd say y'all collectively came up with a bonafide list. Well done! Rankings are based on overall percentage of total top-10 ballots that included the player (Note: Marino's actual percentage of 99.97 rounded up to 100. Our presumption is Marino was included on virtually all ballots and also benefited from voters who may have voted only for him. Your Top 10:

1. Dan Marino, QB, 1983-99: 100 percent.

2. Larry Csonka, FB, 1968-74, '79: 93.8%.

3. Jason Taylor, DE, 1997-07, '09, '11: 83.2%.

4. Bob Griese, QB, 1967-80: 70.7%.

5. Dwight Stephenson, C, 1980-87: 66.6%.

6. Zach Thomas, LB, 1996-07: 66.0%.

7. Larry Little, G, 1969-80: 58.6%.

8. Mark Clayton, WR, 1983-92: 57.5%.

9. Nick  Buoniconti, LB, 1969-76: 47.7%.

10. Mark Duper, WR, 1982-92: 43.1%.

The second 10: WR Paul Warfield 38.3, OT Richmond Webb 31.4, G Bob Kuechenberg 27.7, S Jake Scott 25.3, C Jim Langer 25.0, RB Ricky Williams 20.9, S Dick Anderson 19.4, DE Cam Wake 19.1, DT Manny Fernandez 18.5, RB Mercury Morris 16.9.

The others: LB John Offerdahl 15.9, WR Nat Moore 12.7, CB Sam Madison 12.0, CB Patrick Surtain 6.6, DT Tim Bowens 6.2, DT Bob Baumhower 4.4, K Garo Yepremian 4.4, DE Bill Stanfill 3.7, DE Doug Betters 2.4, DE Vern Den Herder 1.9.

CLASS REUNIONS AND KEY WEST: We were off this past weekend through Wednesday as my wife and I spent time with two friends down from the Baltimore/D.C. area. My wife and her friend's high-school 1aa1ablueheavenreunion (South Broward Bulldogs) was the reason, and of course the two husbands had no choice were happy to attend the reunion with them at a Marriott on Hollywood Beach. Actually it wasn't that bad, although the whole idea of class reunions seems quaint and archaic to me. Like beauty pageants, I'm surprised they still exist. I'd have thought Facebook along would have killed the impetus for reunions. Anyway, the four of us then drove down to Key West for a few days. Wife and I are Conch Life types who head south regularly but our friends had never been, so we were obliged (and pleased) to show them touristy stuff like the Hemingway House, Hog's Breath, southernmost point, Sloppy Joe's, a drag show, Mallory Square at sunset and, of course, Blue Heaven, our favorite place off the beaten Duval Street path. Quaff a couple of Bloody Marys at Blue Heaven and enjoy the lobster benedict. Oh my. I trust many of you reading who are from South Florida have partaken of tropical, funky Key West, just a few hours south of Miami but yet in another world. If not, do treat yourself.

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June 22, 2015

Cote does Paris. A travelogue; plus Heat draft projection, new 'Weighing The Fish', latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), me Periscope, Dolphins still King & more

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

1aa1adad1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 23. No radio today. I'll be in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show on Friday this week instead. 2) Hope all my fellow padres had a great Father's Day. My wife and sons sure made it one for me! 3) Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, was off a second straight week but will return June 28. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Ultimate Favorite South Florida Sports Team poll. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

Heat draft projection: NBA Draft is Thursday night, Miami selects 10th overall, and Sports Illustrated's 1aa1adekkerlatest mock draft today predicts Heat will choose 6-9 Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker (pictured). SI's synopsis: "Dekker has shot well in recent workouts, including in Detroit and Sacramento, alleviating some of the concern about his perimeter game. Still, Dekker is one of the draft's biggest wild cards. He could go anywhere from 10-20. Miami will eventually need a small forward to supplant Luol Deng. Dekker — who has NBA size and athleticism — is the kind of player the Heat could groom." Meanwhile, newly out via Bovada, Miami is 33-1 to win the NBA title in 2016, tied for 10th best odds. Early favorites are Cleveland at 3-1, Golden State 5-1 and Oklahoma City 7-1.

Me on Periscope: I'm newly on Periscope @gregcote and posted my first video last evening. Join us if you'd like and we'll try to have some fun. 

COTE DOES PARIS, PARIS SURVIVES: We spent eight recent days in Paris. My wife had always wanted to go, so I finally took her. By that I mean it was her idea, and she did all the planning and organizing. I 1aa1acotemagfind the key to a successful marriage is me staying out of trouble and just being along for the ride. We had a suite at the boutique-y Hotel McMahon, a short walk from the Champs-Elysees (one of the world's great boulevards) and the Charles de Gaulle Metro stop. We rode the Metro a lot, and it was terrific. From our room we could see the Arc de Triomphe. Cote is a common surname in France and means "coast," so we saw it a lot in names of restaurants, shops and the magazine pictured. Cote Magazine. Weird. Now, a daily travelogue...

Day 1: After an overnight flight we arrived in Paris very early last Thursday morning and toured the city on Big Bus while waiting for our room to be ready. Got together with fellow Herald sports writer Michelle Kaufman, her husband Dave Barry and their daughter Sophie, who were a few days from leaving as we got there. Dined at Aux Anysetiers du Roy, and had the best beef bourguignon of my life. What a city for gastronomes!

Day 2: Spent hours at the Musee Rodin with Michelle et al and was surprised to find out so many of the 1aa1athinkermost noted sculptures -- including The Thinker -- are situated outdoors. That outdoor promenade of fine art was stunning. Stopped in local shops to buy wine, bread, cheeses and fruit for a picnic lunch against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. Idyllic. Nourished, we climbed to La Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmarie, a famed church that is the highest point of Paris. It is not a religious experience, but a carnival, with throngs of tourists and sometimes-aggressive vendors peddling cheap souvenirs. We dined at an magnificent Indian restaurant near the church.

Day 3: On our own after bidding adieu to our friends, we did The Louvre, probably the 1aa1amemonaworld's most famous museum, home to the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo among other priceless works. Da Vinci's Mona Lisa has a huge room all to itself, such are the crowds queuing for a look. Pictured left: Me taking a shameless selfie with Mona in the background. We also visited the less famous but exquisite Musee d'Orsay, which I preferred to The Louvre. D'Orsay is an Impressionist lover's paradise, with works by Renoir, Cezanne, Monet and more. Dined with balcony seating and thoroughly undeserved VIP treatment at the famed Moulin Rouge, where the 2001 Medoc Bourdeaux may have been the finest wine I have ever enjoyed.

Day 4: Took a river cruise along the Seine, which separates the heart of Paris from its 1aa1aarcLeft Bank. Lunched at Cafe Gustave. Went up in the Eiffel Tower (because tourists have to; it's practically the law) and had champagne overlooking the city. Visited the Arc de Triomphe, then ate Thai food. The Arc lit at night (pictured) is breathtaking, and worth the wait, considering it doesn't get dark in Paris until around 9:30 or 10 p.m.

Day 5: Monday now. Did the Musee L'Armee, the military museum that includes Napoleon's Tomb. Lunched at Ristorante Scala. Fun sidetrip to an out of the way local museum dedicated to chocolate. Visited the famed Notre Dame church (where again we observed a serious presence of police with military-grade weapons around major tourist areas, de rigeur security ever since the terrorist attacks on the city's Charlie Hedbo newspaper). Had dinner and champagne at Cafe de Deaville, then a stroll along the Champs-Elysees.

1aa1agardensmonetDay 6: Bused an hour outside Paris to Giverny, France and the home and gardens of Claude Monet until his death. The gardens pictured that inspired his art make it one of the loveliest acres on Earth. Had lunch with wine in Normandy at Le Moulin de Fourges, then bused to the famed Versailles, which (like The Louvre) lost points with me because of its popularity and crowds. Giverny was an absolute delight, though. Dinner at Caffe de Caesar.

Day 7: Took a three-hour guided, walking tour of Paris that was a delight because it delved off the beaten paths and into neighborhoods. Fell in love with the French cheese, Cantal, over lunch. Did a bunch of browsing and shopping. Dined at the funky La Petit Acacia.

1aa1aartfoodDay 8: In wind-down mode on our last full day in Paris, we visited Plaza de Bastille, enjoyed the best mussels I have ever eaten at the Belgian restaurant Leon, and later fine-dined at the upscale La Fermette Marbeuf just off the Champs-Elysees. This was the view from our table; you feel as if you are dining inside an art museum.

On the ninth day we flew home full of memories and thoroughly impressed by Paris, its people and sights. Highly recommend the visit. Postscript for the stereotype-inlcined: The entire time we were there, I think we saw two people wearing berets, and not a single street mime.

WEIGHING THE FISH (70 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 1aa1afishweighcumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. 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 skipped the 60-game edition because we were away on vacation. Here's WTF after 70 games (actually 71 at 30-41; oops again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @50

1  Giancarlo Stanton      344.4    1

2  Dee Gordon                  272.3    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria  218.3   3

4  Marcell Ozuna            209.6   5

5  Martin Prado              201.5   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         162.9    6

7  Christian Yelich        156.8   9

8  Ichiro Suzuki              130.4   8

9  Justin Bour                 129.0   7

10  Michael Morse            91.7   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 4, Gordon 2.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. NBA: Golden State wins. More accurately, LeBron loses!: There were two winners in the NBA Finals: Golden State and Miami -- the Warriors for beating Cleveland, and jilted Heat fans because LeBron James lost. LeBron still hasn't won a title without Dwyane Wade. By the way.

2. SOCCER: U.S. advances in Women’s World Cup: The win-or-out matches started last night for the United States team, vs. Colombia, with a 2-0 USA win in the Women's World Cup in Canada. Unlike the American men, the U.S. women could actually win this thing, and have reached the quarterfinals. "Let's gooooo States!"

3. HEAT: NBA Draft, Wade decision on deck: The NBA Draft is Thursday night in Brooklyn, with Miami selecting 10th overall. More importantly, also coming up soon is Dwyane Wade's decision whether to opt-out and explore leaving the Heat. Say it ain't so, Dwyane. Heat fans mean that literally. Say it ain't so.

4. MARLINS: Fish prepare for long homestand: Fish open a nine-game homestand tonight with Jose Fernandez's return drawing nearer. Team has been about the same under Dan Jennings (14-19, .424) since he replaced Mike Redmond (16-22, .421), verifying that managers have very little do with a team's record. Season still a slogging disappointment, but at least we get to watch Giancarlo Stanton hit.

5. GOLF: Jordan Spieth wins U.S. Open: Jordan Spieth, 21, won the U.S. Open in Washington State after earlier winning the Masters. Meantime a former Spieth-like phenom named Tiger Woods (remember him?) fizzled and didn't even make the cut. It may be time to stop waiting for Tiger to find his old form and just assume he never will.

6. ALEX RODRIGUEZ: A-Rod records 3,000th hit: In storybook fashion, Yankee (and Miami-raised) Alex Rodriguez made a home run his 3,000th career hit in becoming the 29th player to reach that plateau. Unfortunately for A-Rod, steroids rewrote that storybook for all time.

7. PANTHERS: Cats prepare to host NHL Draft: As Chicago still celebrates its Stanley Cup win over Tampa Bay, the hockey draft is coming to Sunrise this Friday and Saturday. I suppose if Cats fans can't enjoy the playoffs, this at least is a consolation prize of sorts.

8. DOLPHINS: Now comes to wait until training camp: The OTA (Organized Team Activity) practice days are done. The three-day June mini-camp is finished. Now comes the wait as Dolfans look forward to the late-July start of Miami's full training camp, ready or not.  

9. HURRICANES: UM baseball disappoints at College World Series: Maybe getting to Omaha for first time since 2008 made it a good season for The U, but two lopsided losses to the Florida Gators, of all teams, wrote a sour ending for Jim Morris' Canes.

10. 'BALLERS': New HBO series premieres: Ballers is the Dwyane (The Rock) Johnson series that HBO describes as "centered around a group of football players and their families, friends, and handlers," and it premiered Sunday night. It involved scandals and misbehaving players getting trouble. True to life, in other words. Enjoyed the premiere. Show has promise. Had heard Master Thespian Dan Le Batard had a cameo, but it wasn't in the premiere.

Poll result: Dolphins still King of South Florida sports: We listed Greater Miami's biggest pro and college teams, asked which is your favorite, and the Dolphins reigned with 48.2 percent. Only the football Hurricanes were in the neighborhood at 34.7%, with the Heat a distant third with 8.0%. The Marlins (2.7%) and hockey Panthers (2.6%) rounded out the top five.

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March 04, 2015

Do Dolphins fans like Mike Wallace? New poll. Vote now!; plus Spoelstra sings 'Billie Jean,' Heat-Lakers, Doral, Heat/Panthers playoff odds, a horse's head, man named Suh & more


1aa1adonald1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 5. I'm down at Doral today to slap Donald Trump. Nah, I'm really down there to write a column off the first round of the golf tournament. 2) Shania Twain fan? The country star will be playing the Heat arena in downtown Miami July 16 as part of a (supposed) farewell tour. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, optimism-poll results & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

THE VIEW ON DOLPHINS RECEIVER MIKE WALLACE: As NFL free agency begins in earnest the Dolphins seem more and more inclined to keep receiver Mike Wallace and his big salary, although he has 1aa1amikewsomewhat under-performed on expectations. Part of keeping him may be that the trade market was tepid. Some fans undoubtedly think Miami might be better off cutting ties with Wallace and pursuing Packers free-agent Randall Cobb, who is younger and coming off a Pro Bowl year but wouldn't be much cheaper. I wonder how Dolfans feel about Wallace, factoring in his performance and also elements of his personality that included removing himself from a game late last season in a pique over the amount of passes being thrown his way. Is Wallace overrated and nothing special? Or is he a big talent being underutilized? Is the problem his or Ryan Tannehill's that the deep passes taking advantage of Wallace's premier speed have not been happening enough? For me, Wallace is a talent worth keeping and finding a way to fully deploy. Some may disagree. This poll isn't really asking if you think Miami should keep Wallace or not, though it sort of is I I guess. Interpret the question any way you wish, but whatever way you do, it'll be a referendum on how Dolfans feel about one of the team's biggest (and most controversial) stars. Vote and say why in the Comments section.

1aa1ahorseheadAUSTIN AND A HORSE'S HEAD: My wife and I meet a couple of good friends from the D.C. area in a random city a couple of times a year for a mini-vacation, just because. Been doing it a few years now, and we spent the long weekend just past in Austin, Texas, visiting funky-bizarre antique shops on SoCo and party-drinking on 6th Street. Loved hearing the blues-rock of the Red Lady Band at Darwin's, loved Iron Works BBQ, loved the (unexpected) Scholz Garten, loved touring the LBJ Presidential Library, and counted a quite-elaborate horse's head mask among the souvenir purchases I brought back. Of course I had to take it into the Clevelander studio on Tuesday and turn it into radio schtick just for laughs. That's me pictured here wearing the head. Check me out on Twitter or Vine for a video of me trying to coax Dan LeBatard into putting it on.

HEAT-LAKERS: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING RIVALRY: Heat beat ,lowly Lakers last night100-94, paced by Hassan Whiteside's 25 rebounds. Heat-Lakers used to be LeBron and Kobe on Christmas Day, 1aa1aheat-lalwith two big teams and stakes high. Now? LeBron gone, Kobe out, Bosh out and much less interest (at least nationally) as Miami hosted LAL last night. What used to be a hell of a rivalry is now a shell of a rivalry, with Miami trying to hang onto playoff pace at 27-33 and L.A. way out of it at 16-44. The last time both teams had losing records the same season: 1992-93.

Heat, Panthers playoff odds: Heat sit on playoff pace as current No. 7 East seed but find five pursuers on their tail. ESPN's computerized Hollinger postseason odds are pessimistic, giving Miami (before last night) only a 40.9 percent chance to make playoffs. In hockey, the Panthers currently are only two points off pace as the No. 9 seed, but Cats' outlook is even gloomier. Hockey-reference.com puts Florida's playoff shot at 12.0%.    

SPOELSTRA CHANNELS HIS INNER MICHEAL JACKSON, RILEY TAKES ON BEATLES AT 'BATTIOKE': Shane Battier's annual karaoke night just happened at the Fillmore South Beach, and highlights included Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (and girlfriend Nikki Sapp) performing Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"and the Silver Fox himself, Pat Riley, displaying Sexy Old Man moves on a Beatles remake. Click on Twist and Shout for Riley. Spo is below. Videos courtesy WQAM. Fun!

 

A QUICK BRAG ON NDAMUKONG SUH: Good to see everybody else catching up to us this week on the 1aa1ansuhDolphins and free-agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. It was almost a month ago, Feb. 7 in this blog, before anybody was mentioning this guy and Miami in same breath, when under the headline 'Ndamuking Suh a Dolphin?' we listed three reasons why it was possible. In an accompanying poll on whether Miami should pur-Suh him, y'all voted 56.8 percent yes, 29.0% no and 14.2% undecided.

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June 10, 2014

Finals G3: San Antonio 111, Heat 92: Home collapse puts Spurs up 2-1 (with postgame video); plus updated MVP table, 790 vs. 'QAM ratings & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11. The National Congress of American Indians has an eloquently powerful new ad campaign against the Washington Redskins nickname. Click here for the 2-minute video. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Spurs Game 2, postseason MVP standings, NBA commish on AC snafu, raw honesty (California Chrome owner) and dumb honesty (Jurgen Klinsmann). 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Click on HOME INVASION for my column from the arena off last night's Heat Finals Game 3 home loss.

G3: SAN ANTONIO 111, HEAT 92: SPURS' SCORCHING FIRST HALF BURIES MIAMI: Spurs up 2-1 after routing Miami 111-92 on its own floor, Heat's first home playoff loss of this postseason. Miami trailed by as many as 25, cut it to seven at one point, but could not overcome S.A.'s hot hand. Spurs set an NBA record by shooting 75.8 percent in the first half after starting off a surreal 19-for-21. Click on Home Invasion for my column off the game. ..... Original post: Two four-letter words both starting with h: Heat and home. That is now Miami's three-peat formula in its most distilled form. Three of the
1aa1aheatspurs 1aa1aheatspuersg3five remaining NBA Finals games are in Miami -- starting tonight at 9 -- and the Heat (with the series tied 1-1) will be champs again if they do not lose on their home floor. Simple ... except that the Spurs match Miami's championship DNA. "You never put them away," as Dwyane Wade said. "They always believe, and it's the same with us." Miami is 8-0 at home this postseason, by an average winning margin of 12.4 points, while San Antonio is only 3-5 on the playoff road. Keeping that disparity intact may require better bench play by the Heat. Spurs reserves have outscored Miami by 71-32 through two games, with nobody but Ray Allen (25 points) doing much offensively forthe Heat off the bench. Miami is minus-24 points when LeBron James is not in the game, a troubling number. Continued aggressiveness by Chris Bosh, stronger bench play beyond Allen and defensive intensity are the keys tonight for Miami. I don't even mention major impact from LeBron, because that by now may be assumed.

Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Last night: 1. Rashard Lewis; 2. LeBron James; 3. Dwyane Wade. The updated standings through 18 playoff games, including last night's Finals Game 3 loss: LeBron James 42 points, Dwyane Wade 25, Chris Bosh 19, Ray Allen 8, Rashard Lewis 7, Chris Andersen 3, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.

OUR HEAT-SPURS GAME 3 POSTGAME VIDEO: Heat beat writer Joseph (Goody) Goodman, in the sharp suit, and myself, in the wrinkled shirt, summarizing Tuesday night's Heat home loss in Game 3 of the Finals:

 

OUR HEAT-SPURS GAME 2 POSTGAME VIDEO:

 

LE BATARD POUNDS 'QAM IN LATEST RATINGS: Just out, the full ratings book for month of May shows the Dan Le Batard Show on 790/104.3 The Ticket with a 5.2 rating versus a 1.4 for the Marc Hochman show running concurrently from 3-7 p.m. on rival WQAM. That's in the key men's 25-54 demographic. It's closer in mornings, with 790's Zaslow & Joy show beating 'QAM's Joe Rose, 4.1 to 3.0. [Interestingly, on the Le Batard rating, the number soared into the 7s on Tuesdays during appearances by Greg Cote, according to an industry source that Cote totally made up. Cote, asked if he felt weird running a blog item about 790 winning in the ratings when he's a part of the show, said, "What? I'm sorry. I didn't hear your question."]

THE GLAMOROUS LIFE OF A SPORTS WRITER: Friends but moreso acquaintances but mostly people who don't know me tell me what a great job I have. It's understandable. I write and talk about sports for a 1aa1adelayedliving. I get that sports fans think they'd love to do that, too. May I share a couple of small doses of reality? Be in my mind late in the fourth quarter of a Heat Finals game that began at 9 p.m. No idea yet whether Miami will be lifted by a huge win or crushed by a huge loss, and the first, inflexible deadline for my column is in 20 minutes and racing toward me with the speed of Tony Parker diving to the rim. Then be with me on Monday's Travel Day From Hell, arising at 7 a.m. in San Antonio and (finally) landing in Fort Lauderdale at around 10:15 p.m. after roughly six hours of weather-related delays and waiting around. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Check that. Yes, I sure am.

FUTBLOG!: FUTBLOG! is the official World Cup soccer blog of this blog, because you can't say the word blog enough in one sentence. Just like four years ago, we'll be World Cup intensive on a daily basis starting later this week, undeterred by the Heat playoff run. Watch for it. FUTBLOG!

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April 15, 2013

On the Boston Marathon tragedy; plus man vs. world on Heat title chances, Shula tops Dolphins Mount Rushmore, New Orleans & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17. Dolphins' Joe Philbin is named one of four new members of a coaches' subcommittee to the NFL Competition Committee. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' Mount Rushmore vote, Heat's club-record for wins. 3) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

1aa1boston2 1aa1bostonON THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING TRAGEDY: I have written about this even though it is only in the most peripheral and insignificant sense a sports story. That's OK, because I am not a sports writer first. I am an American. Click on We Get Up; We Deal With It for my new column on yesterday's tragedy, now online and in the A-section of Tuesday's inky pulp editions.

ONE MAN VS. WORLD ON HEAT TITLE LIKELIHOOD: John Hollinger, ESPN's NBA numbers-nerd turned Memphis Grizzlies executive, is pretty much flying solo on thinking Miami is not the favorite to repeat 1aa1heatrepas NBA champion. His rankings formula that ESPN continues to use has Oklahoma City rated No. 1 by better than a 2-point margin over the Heat, and his playoff permutations give the Thunder a 34.1 percent likelihood to win the title, vs. Miami's 25.9%. (It's a two-team race. Next are Denver at 8.8% and the Knicks at 7.5%). Hollinger does not reflect public opinion, which sets and moves betting lines. Bovada today has Miami a prohibitive 5-7 favorite to repeat as champ, with OKC next at 9-2. (That's a big shift to the Heat just since Jan. 5, when Bovada had Miami a 2-1 favorite and OKC 15-4). I side with the odds over Hollinger. Miami's path to the Finals is a bit less trecherous than OKC's in the West. Don't think the Knicks can beat Miami in a long series, not even if Carmelo Anthony stays fire-y. It's also huge that the Heat (36-4 at home) will have the home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. One could argue intangibles such as "hunger" leaning in OKC's favor in the presumptive repeat Finals, but I wouldn't -- not with LeBron James and Miami chasing a dynasty, a legacy. Pictured: LeBron celebrating last summer's trophy. Lesson contained in photo? Erik Spoelstra should never again wear a cap backward.

1aa1dolmtrDOLPHINS' MOUNT RUSHMORE: SHULA EDGES MARINO FOR PEAK: We asked for your input on a Dolphins Mount Rushmore in the previous blogpost (you may still vote) and almost 8,000 votes were cast -- one of our most successful polls ever. Thanks to all. Don Shula, Dan Marino, Larry Csonka and Joe Robbie made the mountain, in that order. Shula with 24.38 percent edged Marino's 24.17% for the top spot. (Given the poll format, that means each was included on more than 96% of ballots cast). Csonka made it comfortably with 16.55%. The fourth spot was tight, with founding owner Robbie edging Bob Griese, 10.79 to 10.14. I think your choices were solid, as was the order. (I wonder if Marino might have narrowly topped Shula if the vote were taken prior to his recent little infidelity skirmish). Anyway, thanks to all.

A quick note on the 'Mount Rushmore' concept: Of course I am aware my friend Marc Hochman does a Mount Rushmore thing on his 790 radio show. Folks, Mount Rushmore has been around since 1925 and media references to "the Mount Rushmore of..." have been around nearly as long. In the mid-'80s I nicknamed the Hurricanes' defensive line "Mount Rush-More." On July 16, 2010, pre-dating Hoch's bit, I wrote, "Any local athletic Mount Rushmore started with Don Shula and Dan Marino before opening itself to debate." (You could look it up; I did). Upon Neil Rogers' death I referred to Uncle Neil as being on the -- you guessed it -- of local radio. And so forth. The idea is hardly Hoch's, or mine. Laying claim to Mount Rushmore is about like taking credit for a play on March Madness bracketology. C'mon, man!

ON UM SPRING FOOTBALL: Never been a big fan of college spring football. I think universities could save a ton of money and also swing the student-athlete definition a bit closer to what it should be by not having the guys be football players in February, March and April. Beyond that, results of UM's Spring Game on Saturday were less than illuminating. QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson looked great. We figured going into the spring that the Canes looked explosive on offense but had doubts to settle on defense. Exiting the spring we think the same.

SINGING NEW ORLEANS' PRAISES: Love the Big Easy. Been there for three or four Sugar Bowls, a couple 1aa1noarcof Dolphins-Saints games, two Mardi Gras and, just now, a long weekend with friends. The people are great, and the music and food get me every time. Love the architecture and the funky vibe (photos by me). The city is constantly in party-mode and therefore is 1aa1nojestervery touristy, but there nevertheless are places worth visiting despite the tourist factor. They include Cafe du Monde for beignets, Preservation Hall for old-school jazz, and Nola for dinner (the stuffed chicken wings are one of a kind). Also did a bayou airboat excursion that was well worth it. I avoid Pat O'Brien's; you can drink a better Hurricane elsewhere. In the future I'll also steer clear of the all-you-can-drink Bloody Marys at Daisy Dukes. They lead to trouble ... :)

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October 26, 2012

Popularity poll: LeBron vs. D-Wade. Vote!; plus Collball (Gators fall), NFL-Dolphins predix, Giant lead, Golden, Memphis, virginity auction & more

[1) It is SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28. Major endorsements in the presidential race. Barack Obama endorsed by Colin Powell. Mitt Romney endorsed by Meat Loaf. 2) Check out our video channel at YouTube/TheGregCote (been on hiatus; new vids coming soon) and join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Collball Week 9 post: Because the Miami Hurricanes were off this weekend, our weekly Collball feature has been demoted from a separate post and incorporated below. Scroll to bottom of this post to find.

LEBRON VS. D-WADE! (RELAX, IT'S JUST FOR FUN...): The NBA champion Heat open defense of their crown in two days, Tuesday night here vs. Boston, and I wanted a preseason poll. Can't exactly ask how 1aa1dwlbjyou think the Heat will do, because if most experts predict a repeat title, you know that fan confidence is undebatably through the rafters. So I chose a poll on whether LeBron James has surpassed Dwyane Wade as the team's most popular player. I don't mean to cause trouble, I'm just genuinely curious. I think the question has become fair. LeBron, reigning league and Finals MVP, obviously is the team's best player, which usually equates to popularity. But Heat fans surely have embraced Wade longer. I fully understand that you can vote for one and also adore the other; you might even claim you like them equally. But, c'mon. Fans have favorite players. It's what we do. So vote and say why. Or, if you prefer, don't vote -- it'll be a protest vote! -- in righteous indignation over such an outrageously divisive poll!

Will Heat usurp Dolphins for South Florida's heart?: Our Heat/NBA special preview section is out today and my contributon is this column on whether the Heat has already or may yet surpass the Dolphins as South Floridas No. 1 pro team.

Heat to unveil new uniforms: Heat announced it will continue its "ongoing uniform progression plan" by unveiling new uniform designs during the 2012-13 season, beginning Tuesday with a championship-theme uniform featuring gold trim and trophy patch. Other designs will include a White Hot theme, 25th anniversary "Hardwood Classics" uniform, Christmas Day uniform, "Miami Black" theme and the recurring "Noche Latina" look.

NFL PREDIX: TOUGH BAPTISMAL FOR TANNEHILL: Sunday will be Ryan Tannehill's first division road 1aa1fripixgame, and there are easier situations imaginable than at Jets, in funky weather (50s, chance of rain), in a howling bowl of haters. Should be a great game. I have it Stinkin' Jets, 19-16, but am always happy to root against my pick when it involves Rex Ryan being disappointed. Click on Week 8 Gems for all my latest NFL picks, and on Pro Bowl Outlook for my early glimpse at Dolphins contenders as voting begins.

WORLD SERIES: TIGERS BATS STAY MARLINS-SLEEPY, GIANTS IN COMPLETE COMMAND: Giants up 3-0 on Tigers heading into a possible clinching Game 4 tonight/Sunday in the Motor City. It's done. Collapse by Miguel Cabrera and favored Tigers looks epic.

Poll result: It's Obama in a landslide: We asked in previous blogpost who has your support for president and Barack Obama won with 61.5 percent to Mitt Romney's 38.5. Romney had narrowly won the same poll in July with 50.8%. This time the poll was running close again before a sudden, major Obama surge, suggesting to me organized involvement by a Democrat group. That's OK. Free country.

Poll result: Close vote, but disapproval of Guillen firing: We also asked if you approved of the Marlins firing manager Ozzie Guillen, and 49.4 percent said no vs. 45.4% yes and 5.2% undecided.

AL GOLDEN'S ROUGH WEEK: It's good the Hurricanes have a bye this weekend. Coach Al Golden could 1aa1alguse some rest. Rough few days. First that big home loss to rival Florida State, a third straight defeat dropping Miami to 4-4. Then the father of defensive tackle Luther Robinson goes on local radio to blast Golden (pictured) because his kid isn't playing enough. Now a dispute over whether defensive end Kelvin Cain quit the team or was dismissed. The good news: UM still controls its own future and can play into the ACC championship game by winning all three of its remaining conference games starting next Thursday here vs. Virginia Tech.

Ron Fraser statue fund: Happy to say UM has instituted a Ron Fraser Wizard Fund to help erect a bronze statue in honor of the longtime former Canes baseball coach. Click on the link to donate. I must say the school should be doing this on its own rather than begging public money, but, in this case, by whatever means, the end is justified.

TRAVELOGUE: MEMPHIS: Wife and I met another couple (friends who live outside D.C.) last weekend in Memphis. We meet a couple of times a year in a different city. Of course we had to do Graceland; I think it's a law when visiting Memphis. Tourist-y to the max but worth the $34 if you are/were an Elvis 1aa1civPresley fan. (I was too young for Elvis' heyday but am big on pop music history, so I couldn't miss experiencing Graceland). I'd more highly recommend two other attractions to fully dive into Memphis music culture: the Rock and Soul Museum, and the Stax Museum. But the most enriching time devoted in that city for us, by far, was the hours spent in the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. Forget Graceland; the NCRM should be a required stop for any Memphis visitor. Can't end the travelogue without a quick mention of ribs, the city's iconic food. Everybody points you to the famous Rendezvous, a tourist magnet. And it was OK. But better by a lot were the ribs we tasted at Central BBQ. (Hmm. Wonder if they deliver...)

STEPHEN A. SMITH: "N----, PLEASE": Stephen A. Smith appears to have dropped the N-word on ESPN's First Take Thursday. Click here to listen for yourself.

RIDICULOUSLY PHOTOGENIC HOMELESS GUY GETS HELP BECAUSE HE'S HANDSOME: Guess that headline about says it all. Click here for more.

1aa1catarinaWOMAN AUCTIONS VIRGINITY: This 20-year-old woman, from Brazil, has auctioned off her virginity to raise money for charity. The winning bid was $780,000. I think I may need to take out a loan.

COLLBALL WEEK 9: Canes off but the rest of the state is hopping. Let's get to it. Saturday's state FBS slate:

1aa1flagaNo. 10 Georgia 17, No. 2 Florida 9: The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, they call it. It also turned out to be the world's largest opportunity for Florida to blow its BCS standing and national-title shot. Oh my. I did not see this happening. My pick was: Florida, 27-20.

No. 12 FSU 48, Duke 7: Duke isn't as doormat-bad as it typically is, but Noles still rolled like a big wheel. FSU win did Miami a big favor, increasing UM's chances of reaching ACC title game. My pick was: FSU, 38-16.

FAU 34, Troy 27: Owls on the prowl! Raw hunch, but I saw Atlantic with elusive second win in home-'dog upset. Great call by me (he bragged). My pick was: FAU, 24-21.

Western Kentucky 14, FIU 6: Like the Black Eyed Peas, I gotta feeling. Alas, the wrong one. Saw the Mario Brothers in a home upset; instead, FIU's nightmare season continues. My pick was: FIU, 31-27.  

My record: This week, 2-2. Season, 31-10.

Other state FBS games: Syracuse def. South Florida, 38-37; and UCF def. Marshall, 54-17.

National Game of Week: Sorry Gator, but it was No. 5 Notre Dame @ No. 8 Oklahoma. Irish won, 30-13 

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