July 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Rank Player                   WTF#  @80

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                324.7    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   279.6   3

4  Christian Yelich        228.2   6

5  Jacob Realmuto         222.1    7

6  Martin Prado              216.1   5

7  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   4

8  Justin Bour                 191.1   8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              157.5   9

10  Michael Morse          112.4   10

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

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July 15, 2015

Where Miami teams rank among world's 50 most valuable franchises; plus Heat-expectations poll, LeBatard auction, Giancarlo Stanton's new PSA, baseball hits home run with Derby, chicken wings 'n pizza have a baby & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 15. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Good and bad on Tannehill ranking, Hot Button Top 10, Trump and Pierre-Paul verdicts & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too. Join us on Twitter for Periscope alerts. (We have a new 'Scope from yesterday's radio show. Watch soon. It disappears around 5:30 p.m. today).

'Peytom Branning': If Tom Brady and Peyton Manning morphed into each other: Click here for the gif.

Florida: "We're No. 10!": Recent national poll by market research group YouGov found Florida the 10th-most liked state in the U.S. (Are we bragging or complaining?) First: Hawaii. Dead last: New Jersey.

DOLPHINS BEAT HEAT ON MOST-VALUABLE-FRANCHISE LIST: List-mad Forbes has come out with its annual list of the world's Top 50 most valuable sports franchises for 2015, and two Miami clubs (the ones 1aa1amoneysportsyou'd expect) make it, albeit modestly. The Dolphins tie for 37th valued at $1.3 billion, and the Heat are 47th at $1.18 billion. The worldwide Top 10, with all figures in billions: 1. Real Madrid 3.26; 2. tie, Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees both 3.2; 4. Barcelona 3.16; 5. Manchester United 3.1; 6. tie, Los Angeles Lakers and New England Patriots both 2.6; 8. New York Knicks 2.5; 9. tie, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Redskins both 2.4. Rounding out the U.S. Top 10 after the Cowboys, Yankees, Lakers, Patriots, Knicks, Dodgers and Redskins are the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants (tied 12th at 2.1) and the Chicago Bulls and San Francisco Giants (tied 14th at 2.0).

MOTIVATED MAN: RILEY'S BIG SUMMER TURNS AROUND HEAT: A non-playoff team last season might now be the biggest NBA East challenger to LeBron James and Cleveland. That's what Pat Riley's big summer has 1aa1aheattwodone for the Miami Heat. Click on Motivated Man for our latest column. In a flurry the Heat drafted Duke's Justise Winslow, locked up point guard Goran Dragic for five years, kept Dwyane Wade, kept Luol Deng, and brought in big man Amar'e Stoudemire and 3-point guy Gerald Green at bargain rates. Mix in Chris Bosh' return to health, an ascending Hassan Whiteside and a healthy Josh McRoberts. That's an impressive nine-man depth. Riley has had is best offseason since 2010 and clearly is driven to topple LeBron James and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. Will he? Now that the draft is past and free agency is (mostly) over, it's time to set the bar on Heat expectations for the coming season. Don't vote what you hope happens; vote what you honestly think most realistically will happen. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

LEBATARD/ESPN AUCTION: LAST DAY!: Today is last day to submit bids in ESPN's ESPY Auction 1aa1adanbenefiting The V Foundation for Cancer Research. An item that may be of special interest to South Floridians is a "Miami Heat Experience With Dan LeBatard and Stugotz." Winning bidder gets to watch an upcoming Heat game with Dan and Stu and also observe a taping of Highly Questionable and the radio show, along with other goodies. High bid was $4,110 when last I looked. Click here to access the auction (being done on eBay) and search Le Batard's name.

BASEBALL HITS A HOME RUN: Baseball got it right. Did it right. Monday's 30th annual Home Run Derby,
1aa1aderbyprecursor to last night's 86th All-Star Game, was pretty close to fantastic. I thought it upstaged the ASG, won 6-3 by the AL. After constant tinkering with the Derby format and an awful, boring show a year ago, MLB is preening and should be. Love the new format: eight players head-to-head, bracket style, with a time limit. The pace stayed fast, and guys were free-swinging, not worried about making outs. That the Reds' Todd Frazier won it, in Cincinnati, capped a storybook night. For an event that's all show and means nothing, really, it  was close to thrilling. The final eight suffered from the absence of the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (injured) and Nationals' Bryce Harper (choice) -- I think Stanton would have been the favorite -- but it was great stuff just the same.

Derby a hit with viewers: Via Nielsen, the Home Run Derby on ESPN drew a final 4.2 rating, up 24 percent from 2014, despite Chris Berman's hair. It was best HRD rating since 2009.

GIANCARLO STANTON'S NEW PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: MLB teamed up with the group Volunteers of America beginning in 2003 on an "Action Team" project, called a "national youth volunteer program." It is meant to encourage high-school age kids to get involved in helping those less fortunate in their communities. The latest public-service ad debuted during last night's All-Star Game, featuring the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (another sign of his rising public profile) and Yankees pitcher Chris Capuano. Click on Volunteers of America for more info. Here is the full 60-second PSA:

   

Stanton in Cooperstown: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's early-career trajectory suggests he might make the Hall of Fame someday -- if he stays healthy -- but did you know Stanton already is represented in Cooperstown with two artifacts in the Hall's permanent collection? They are: Batting helmet he wore Sept. 28, 2011 in Marlins’ final home game at Sun Life Stadium, and spikes worn Sept. 29, 2013 when Stanton scored the game's only run, on a wild pitch in bottom of ninth, to seal no-hitter of Henderson Alvarez.


1aa1achickenpizzaIF CHICKEN WINGS AND PIZZA HAD A BABY...:
They are calling it "Napoli Crispy Pizza Chicken" and it is currently being test-marketed at KFC locations in Hong Kong, which suggests the menu item may soon reach America if it goes over in the Kong. How could it not!? It's the marriage of chicken wings and pizza for God's sake! I just cold-called a random stranger in Kowloon to see how the dish is but he spoke Cantonese so I couldn't understand what he said. The Colonel would be proud. Or mortified, perhaps? 

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July 10, 2015

Heat signs Stoudemire, new study says Dolphins fans worst in NFL; plus Jason Pierre-Paul privacy breach poll and Donald Trump poll; also, Luol Deng's special video, the wonder of Jose & more

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

1aa1acubanmark1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 11. Belated happy birthday to one of my heroes, Mavis Staples, who turned 76 yesterday. 2) DeAndre Jordan, after verbally agreeing to free-agent deal with the Dallas Mavericks, reverses field and re-signs with L.A. Clippers. Fun! Always a delight when Mark Cuban (pictured) is angry and helpless. 3) #BoycottArianaGrande. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cuba cruises and Micky Arison poll, ESPN 'Body' poll, Pat Riley's revenge, Fins seat sale, ode to Serena, Weighing The Fish, Fins/Canes betting odds & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

DOLFANS CALLED WORST IN NFL: Hey don't blame the messenger. I'm just passing this along. A new study by Atlanta's Emory University rates NFL teams 1 through 32 in "fan equity rankings," and Miami is ranked 32nd. Emory calls it "a measure of brand equity that is based on fans' willingness to financially support their team ... based on the average Fan Equity score for the last three years." Dallas is ranked No. 1. Click here for the story including full rankings and methodology.

HEAT SIGNS AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: Heat yesterday struck a bargain deal with former Knick Amar'e 1aa1aamaresStoudemire, just one day after signing guard Gerald Green, 29, a 6-8 "young veteran," to a one-year deal at the minimum $1.3 million -- another bargain for Miami. Green averaged 11.9 points for Phoenix last season including 35 percent from 3-point land. He'll likely back up Dwyane Wade (who officially re-signed, as expected) at shooting guard and offer the needed threat from 3ville. Adding Green also suggests the club may be looking at rookie swingman and No. 1 draft pick Justise Winslow more as a small forward than a guard, at least initially. In Stoudemire, 32, the Heat get a man five years or so past his best days, but a man who, if his knees stay sound, still has offensive punch and can be a valuable backup big man in the rotation, a 6-10 power forward/center.

Poll result: Cuba cruises don't hurt Arison's image: We asked if Carnival offering cruises to Cuba negatively impacts your opinion of Heat (and Carnival) owner Mark Cuban, and it was 79.6 percent no, 17.4% yes 3.0% undecided.

JASON PIERRE-PAUL WAS WRONGED. WHO'S TO BLAME: A Giants defensive end from Deerfield Beach is celebrating the Fourth of July in Miami, does something dangerous and careless with fireworks and ends 1aa1aadams
1aa1ajpp
1aa1ajacksonmemup hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Thursday it is reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter that Pierre-Paul has had his right index finger amputated. Schefter knows this because someone at Jackson (apparently) leaked the player's private medical records, which would violate laws, and Schefter posted those private records on Twitter, which, to me, skirts the line of journalistic ethics. Jackson is investigating on its end. Nothing yet from ESPN yet on Schefter's actions. I'm curious what you think. Is it no big deal because the info on the amputation would have come out eventually? Was Schefter just doing his job? For me the bottom line is, the law is the law and even a prominent NFL player has a right to medical privacy. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

GOLF AND POLITICS: THE DONALD TRUMP MESS: I did it. I touched the lightning rod that is Donald Trump. As well as the lightning rod you often get when sports and politics mix. I did it with my latest column -- click on Golf Should Say No to Trump to read in full -- and the email reaction has been 1aa1agolftrumpvoluminous and largely vitriolic. A representative email from Vince F of Miami (last name withheld): "Hey ass-wipe, Trump is a Billionaire, you are still paying off mortgages." Then it got nasty. Vince, I was not aware great wealth made someone right and that relying on a paycheck made someone wrong. At least you're not materialistic or anything! (Quick aside: My mortgage happens to be paid off and I just paid cash for a brand new car. Does that make me a better person to you? More right?) I believe and wrote that the PGA Tour and other golf entities should disassociate themselves from Trump-owned golf courses because of his recent prejudicial, broad-swipe comments ("They're rapists...") about Mexican immigrants. NBC, Macy's, Univision and others already have done so. Unfortunately that would include the annual WGC/Doral tournament. Many emailers are on a tangent about immigration, as if what I wrote was about that topic. It wasn't, but as it happens I'm for strong borders. On very few topics am I more conservative. Anyway, the strong reaction to my column leads me to take a pulse here, too, with a blog poll. This poll is not about Trump's presidential bid. This is not about immigration. This is, specifically, about whether golf should continue to partner with a man who said what he did about Mexicans, and without regret. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.


1aa1ajosefJOSE STAYS MASTERFUL AT HOME: Jose Fernandez this week vs. the Reds made his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery, and his second strong, winning one. The Marlins had been losers of four straight and desperately needed him to continue his at-home perfection, and he delivered. Jose is now 14-0 with a 1.17 ERA pitching in Miami in his young MLB career. Astounding. Meanwhile:

Marlins record this year under fired manager Mike Redmond: 16-22, .421

Marlins record this year under his replacement Dan Jennings: 20-28, .417

Poll result: ESPN 'Body' issue is about narcissism: We asked your view of ESPN's annual 'Body' display of athletes nude but somewhat covered, and it was 49.0 percent negative (narcissism) vs. 35.5% positive (artfully done). The other 15.5% were undecided.

LUOL DENG'S SPECIAL VIDEO: The Heat forward thinks bigger than basketball. He was born in Sudan (now South Sudan) and cares deeply for his heritage. Four years after its independence, South Sudan suffers through violence, hunger and a collapsing economy. Luol's video is worth a minute of your time:

 

1aa1acroweagle"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's good but would be even better if occasionally you would show a picture of a crow hitching a ride on the back of an eagle. Would that be possible? Thank you." Dear Reader: No promises, but let me get right on that.

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May 27, 2015

FIFA scandal, my Blatter-must-go column and poll. Vote now!; plus NBA Finals odds, also Gordon, Stanton on ASG pace, 'Fish In the Dark', Abbot & Costello Marlins, Dolphins win May & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, a salute to Memorial Day (50,000 Names), UM/MLS stadium verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Gordon, Stanton on pace to start in All-Star Game: First NL All-Star voting trends are out, with a double dose of desperately needed good news Marlins and Marlfans. Dee Gordon leads all second basemen in voting, and Giancarlo Stanton is third among outfielders -- both on pace to start.

Tap breaks on Dolphins: Fins had their first OTA (organized team activity) practice day this week and it was decorated as a symbolic start to the 2015 season, with much made in particular about how good Ndamukong Suh looked. All of which earns the following two-word commentary: "It's freakin' May!"  

THE FIFA CORRUPTION SCANDAL: Yesterday's indictment in Switzerland of 14 persons including nine 1aa1afifacurrent or former FIFA officials is the biggest story in global sports. It also is big in America, considering the U.S. is behind the lengthy investigation and is extraditing the accused for prosecution. Click on Blatter Must Go for my latest column, online and in today's inky pulp editions. I write that now is the time for a clean break. FIFA president Sepp Blatter (pictured artfully blurry at right) has presided over 17 years of sporadic but seemingly unending scandal -- including controversy over the awarding of the 2018 and '22 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Blatter should resign or be voted out of office in Friday's election. Doubt either will happen, but we can dream. Meanwhile, weigh in on how serious you think this latest FIFA story is.

LEBRON BREEZES TO FINALS. NEXT STOP: HEARTACHE: Cleveland Cavaliers fans are delusional, in 1aa1alebonrgeneral, I think, but especially as they view this Cavs team and the upcoming NBA Finals vs. Golden State. (Warriors clinched last night). We can forgive Cavs fans naturally thinking that having LeBron James is the panacea that overcomes all. Miami and Heat fans can relate. But Clevelanders resist the reality check that LeBron and mates will be a clear underdog (see below) vs. Steph Curry and the Warriors. It will be interesting to see LeBron in that unfamiliar role. For many in Miami, it will be delicious. By the way, J.R. Smith posted on Instagram his team's hot-tub party after the Cavs swept Atlanta in the East finals ... just in case you didn't dislike LeBron quite enough. Click here to watch.

Warriors clear faves over Cavs: SportsBettingDime.com today has Golden State a 4-9 favorite to win the NBA Finals, with Cleveland at 16-7. Warriors in six games is likeliest pick at 18-7. Finals MVP odds are Steph Curry 2-3, LeBron James 2-1 and the field at 12-1.

MARLINS A MODERN-DAY ABBOT & COSTELLO ROUTINE: After turning its general manager into the manager and then raising eyebrows with a pool celebration after finally winning to end an earlier eight-game losing streak, the Marlins' sudden demotion of Brett Butler from third-base coach to outfield and base-running duties continues the notion that the ballclub is flying by the seat of its pants. ("Who's on third!") Mike Redmond got fired in part for being seen as too passive and conservative. Now replacement Dan Jennings is seen by some as over-managing -- and demoting Butler fits that perception pretty well. By the way, Marlins fired Redmond at 16-22 and are now 2-8 under Jennings. Winning cures all, of course. Fish need to make a push toward .500 as Jose Fernandez returns in a month or so.

 

'FISH IN THE DARK': A confession, first: Larry David is one of my favorite entertainers. Curb Your

1aa1adavidlEnthusiasm
was must-watch, appointment-TV every week for me, and I long for its return. So I was 1aa1afishpredisposed to love "Fish In the Dark," the (fairly) new Broadway comedy starring David. We spent the recent long holiday weekend in New York and saw it with front-row seats, because my wife (in charge of arrangements) is not nearly as cheap as me. How great were the seats? At right is a photo from the performance, taken discreetly (and against all rules) by my son. Anyway, the show was great. No unexpected ground broken; Larry David was pretty much the character we all know -- but that is exactly who the adoring audience came to see. Terrific show! Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

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May 22, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rank Player                 WTF#  @30

1 Giancarlo Stanton     204.0    2

2 Dee Gordon              187.8    1

3 Adeiny Hechevarria   152.7   3

4 Marcell Ozuna           133.7   5

5 Martin Prado             131.2   4

6 Ichiro Suzuki             100.9   6

7 Jacob Realmuto          94.8    8

8 Michael Morse             88.0   7

9 Christian Yelich          69.6   9

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

 

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May 20, 2015

Is Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill a franchise QB worth that money? Poll. Vote now!; plus Patriots concede, new LeBatard TV show, your verdict on Marlins firing Redmond & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MAY 20. Happy birthday to my eldest son Christopher! 2) Patriots concede: Odd for Robert Kraft to announce that Pats would not appeal Deflategate penalties -- meaning Tom Brady's four-game suspension stands. Can you defiantly claim your innocence and acquiesce at same time? Hmm. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins fire Redmond/name Jennings with poll, Tannehill signs Dolphins extension, Hot Button Top 10, SoFla Super Bowl verdict & more. 4) ICYMI, click on Garo Yepremian, R.I.P. for my column on the Dolphin icon's death. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Loria World: Wild ride continues: The Marlins' turbulent managerial merry-go-round continues under owner Jeffrey Loria. Click on Impatience Rules for my column.

Dee Train update: A new blog feature on Marlins' Dee Gordon as he bids to become baseball's first .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. We'll do this as long as his average remains at .385 or higher. Updated season: .403 (64-for-159). Last night: 1-for-4 vs. ARI. Next: Tonight vs. ARI.

IS RYAN TANNEHILL UP TO HIS NEW CONTRACT?: Update: Click on Winning Must Define Tannehill for my new column, now online. Will have an updated version following today's news conference.  Original post: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's new Dolphins contract of $96 million over six years including $45 million in guaranteed money will become official today. That 1aa1atannyundoubtedly makes Lauren Tannehill the happiest young woman on Earth, but I'm more concerned here with how it makes Dolfans feel. This long-term commitment is a statement by the club that it believes Tannehill is the future, the franchise QB Miami has searched for since Dan Marino's last season in 1999. Have the Fins found him in Tannehill? Or are they settling for "good enough"? For "close enough"? Tannehill made strides last year in his third season with career-best numbers: 4,045 yards passing, 27 TDs, a 92.8 rating. Yet he continued to struggle completing the long ball, the "home run" pass. And he is 23-25 as a starter and 0-for-3 on playoff seasons -- at a position where bottom-line winning is paramount. That, and only that, is why, for example, Tannehill trails Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck in overall estimation. I wonder if you think Tannehill will blossom into Pro Bowl-level stardom or if you see his NFL ceiling as a second-tier guy. I wonder if you think he'll prove to be worth the money he is now being paid. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Most object to Marlins' firing of Redmond: We asked if you approve of Marlins firing manager Mike Redmond after 38 games at 16-22, and 56.1 percent said no versus 30.3% who said yes. The other 13.6% were undecided.

LEBATARD RADIO DEBUTS ON TV TODAY: The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, the ESPN Radio (and The Ticket Miami) program, debuts on TV today at 4 p.m. on the Fusion network. Here's the promo:

 

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May 03, 2015

Ndamukong Suh arm-wrestles Warren Buffett (with video); plus Kiper's grade/analysis of Dolphins draft and note on Mel Kiper Sr.; also latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Fins, big fight, Marlins, hot horse, Cavs-Bulls, drafted Canes & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 4. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Grade-Dolphins-draft poll, Super Saturday with Mayweather-Pacquiao and poll, NFL Draft, Kentucky Derby, NBA Game 7 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NDAMUKONG SUH ARM-WRESTLES WARREN BUFFETT: No, seriously. The Dolphins' behemoth defensive tackle was in Omaho on Sunday and arm-wrestled 84-year-old billionaire Warren Buffett, live, on CNBC, the business channel. The odd couple are friends who met through former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne. I can hear Dolfans railing now, "Oh so this is why he can't be at the Dolphins conditioning program!" Two things. 1) It's a voluntary conditioning program in early May. 2) Ndamukong Suh is the very last member of this team whose conditioning or performance should be the subject of any concern.

 

KIPER GRADES DOLPHINS DRAFT 2ND-BEST IN AFC EAST: Dolfans graded the Dolphins draft a "B" (see poll results just below), and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. (pictured) agrees. His team-by-team draft grades today include these for the AFC East quartet: Jets A-minus, Dolphins B, Patriots B-minus and Bills C-minus. 1aa1amelkiperjrKiper on Miami's seven-man haul: "The Dolphins had one of my favorite picks of Round 1, and they didn't have to move to get their guy. DeVante Parker has the chance to be special and fills a clear need for them. I could have seen him going with any of the four picks ahead of Miami -- St. Louis, Minnesota, Cleveland and New Orleans -- so getting him at No. 14 was a good value. Jordan Phillips has first-round physical ability and third-round tape, so landing in Round 2 just about averages things out. The addition of Ndamukong Suh was impactful, but Miami can use the depth behind him or put Phillips and Suh on the field at the same time. If Phillips plays at Suh's effort level on every snap, there's a potential stud here. Jamil Douglas could play right away, given the need at guard, and though I thought Bobby McCain was a bit of a reach given some other cornerbacks available when he was taken, that's splitting hairs again. Jay Ajayi is a tough runner who fell on injury and ball security concerns, but if he's healthy, he can be really good. Tony Lippett is a player I expected to go earlier. If there's a question, it's the lack of a linebacker earlier on. The Parker pick really elevates this draft for me, and they can hope the coin flip on Phillips' becoming really good works out. But ultimately, I see one certainty here, and injury risk in a number of places."


1aa1amelsrHow come you never hear about Mel Kiper Sr?:
 Mel's father was in the vending machine business and also sold real estate and coached high-school baseball. He helped his son's early career by finding subscribers and advertisers for Mel's first draft newsletters. Senior died in 1988.

Poll result: Dolphins draft judged closer to good than great: We invited you in the previous blogpost to grade the Dolphins draft (you may still vote) based on initial reactions, and "B" won overwhelmingly with 60.8 percent, followed by "C" with 19.0%, "A" with 16.4% and "D" with 3.8%. Despite more C's than A's, it was still 77.2% overall who gave it an A or B.

HOT BUTTON MAY 3: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins get Parker in draft’s first round: Miami took Louisville receiver DeVante Parker 14th overall in the draft, and I’m not sure who was happier and smiling wider late Thursday night: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, for getting a premier 6-2 pass catcher, or yours truly for actually being right for once in his Miami Herald mock draft.

2. BOXING: Mayweather decisions Pacquiao: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquaio finally had their long-anticipated title fight in Las Vegas late Saturday night. It was the "Fight of the Century" and did not disappoint. Unless you had money on Pac Man. Or like a boxing match in which somebody actually gets hurt.

3. MARLINS: Hot Fish climb up to .500, then lose: The streaking Marlins had now won nine of past 10 games since the 3-11 start that almost got manager Mike Redmond prematurely fired, before losing yesterday. Now the Fish set out on a 10-game road trip. Uh oh. Could soon be time once again talk owner Jeffrey Loria out of doing something rash.

4. NFL DRAFT: Winston goes No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay: Controversial, scrutinized QB Jameis Winston of Florida State went No. 1 to the Bucs and immediately posted an Instagram photo of himself enjoying crab legs. In other words the guy known for making bad choices as a collegian took about nine seconds to make his first bad decision as a pro.

5. HORSE RACING: American Pharaoh wins Kentucky Derby: Betting favorite American Pharaoh finished strong Saturday to win the 141st Kentucky Derby, and now we're just 12 days from the Preakness. I really think this could finally be the year we have our first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Just like I thought last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and...

6. NBA: Clippers win Game 7 to complete final eight: Clippers' thrilling 111-109 Game 7 elimination of San Antonio Saturday moves NBA playoffs to conference semifinal round. Cavs-Bulls may be most interesting matchup ahead. Chicago might have real shot at an upset. Heat fans have a dilemma, though. Rooting against LeBron now means cheering for Joakim Noah.

7. HURRICANES: UM football sees seven players drafted: Tackle Ereck Flowers, ninth overall, led a parade of seven drafted Miami Hurricanes -- fourth-most behind FSU's 11, Louisville's 10 and Florida's eight. Glass half-empty: "No way UM should have finished 6-7 with all that talent." Glass half-full: "That Al Golden sure can recruit!"

8. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Marlins ace becomes U.S. citizen: Rehabbing young pitcher finally faced live batters in practice, but week's big news was the Cuba native taking his oath of citizenship. It proved once again that in America anything is possible. Especially if you happen to throw a 97 mph fastball.

9. DION JORDAN: Dumbass Dolphin draft-bust suspended again: Fins' disappointing 2013 draft bust screwed up again, failed a drug test again and was suspended again. Or, did that go without saying?

10. JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA: Marlins release free-agent bust catcher: The highlight of Jarrod's short-lived Marlins career? Led team last season in longest last name. 

Missing the cut: Billy Donovan leaves Gators for OKC, NHL playoffs, Baltimore riots affect on sports, English Premier League decides title, Tiger Woods in TPC Sawgrass, Giancarlo Stanton in GQ.

Poll result: Most wanted Pacquiao to win: We asked who you hoped won, and it was 76.3 percent for Manny Pacquiao over Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Was running closer to 78-79% prior to the fight).

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April 11, 2015

Heat lose again, playoff hopes on life support; plus is LeBron intentionally hurting Heat? (poll), Fins' Brandon Albert in boxing gym (video), Marlins off the schneid, NBA/Cuba verdict & more

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

1aa1acup
1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 11. Pictured right, coffee cup sentiment applying to current Heat playoff situation. 2) Mike Pouncey signs multi-year extension with Dolphins making him NFL's highest-paid center. Hope deal includes a babysitter to keep him out of trouble in the clubs. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA/Heat/Cuba poll, Heat playoff update, Marlins 0-3, Kiper on Dolphins draft, MLB Stanton video & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Aside to my media brethren: Please tap the brakes on applying words like "disaster" to a lost game. One of the lessons of 9/11, at least for me, was to remind there are actual disasters, and that a huge loss in sports, no matter how big the blown lead or important the game, is not one. 

PLAYOFF CHASE: HEAT LOSE AGAIN, HOPES NEXT TO GONE: First Miami blows a 19-point lead in a crushing home loss to Bulls Thursday, then watches Friday as all three teams it is chasing win, and then loses at home tonight to Toronto 107-104. Heat have now lost nine of past 12 games at a time when wins were most essential. Miami must now win its final two games and pray. Four teams are jockeying on the home stretch for the Nos. 7 and 8 East seeds. (Playoff-likelihood percents below are not yet updated with tonight's Heat loss). How it looks from here entering Sunday's NBA action:

7. Boston: 37-42, W3. Playoff likelihood: 82.3% (up 16.5) per Hollinger/ESPN. Next: Sunday vs. CLE, then vs. TOR, @ MIL. Note: In driver's seat, with tiebreaker over Nets.

8. Brooklyn: 37-42, W1. Playoff likelihood: 81.2% (up 14.9). Next: Sunday @ MIL, then vs. CHI, vs. ORL. Note: Last two games being at home helps the cause.

9. Indiana: 36-43, W4. Playoff likelihood: 22.5% (down 10.2). Next: Sunday vs. OKC, then vs. WAS, @ MEM. Note: Pacers own tiebreaker over Heat, which is huge.

10. Miami: 35-45, L2. Playoff likelihood: 14.2% (down 21.3). Next: Monday vs. ORL, then @ PHI. Note: Heat own tiebreaker over Celtics and Nets, but would need 2-0 finish -- and much help -- for any chance. Clearest path to playoffs: Miami ends 2-0, and either Boston or Brooklyn lose all three remaining games.

IS LEBRON JAMES INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO SABOTAGE HEAT? Reports were Cleveland's LeBron James would sit out the two games this week against a Boston team that Miami is desperately chasing

1aa1alebronjamesfor a final East playoff spot. Well, James played last night but sat out fourth quarter in a home loss to Celtics -- and new reports are that he will sit out Sunday's game vs. Boston. He has every right; the Cavaliers have clinched the No. 2 seed. But suspicion is raised, especially if he sits out Sunday's rematch. It is not far-fetched, given the way LeBron departed Miami and left things with Pat Riley, that LBJ might time his rest to hurt the Heat by benefiting Boston. James would scoff at the idea and the truth may never be known, but I wonder how Heat fans feel? Clearly Miami is responsible for its own playoff standing, and losses like last night's make the Heat its own worst enemy. But facts are facts. Miami could really use Boston to lose both or at least one of the next two games, the Cavs are 2-9 without LeBron, and the timing of the King's "rest" could be a coffin nail for the franchise he left. Intentional? You tell me:

Poll result: Most favor Heat involvement in Cuba, but strong dissent, too: We asked how Heat should react to NBA's initiatives in Cuba, and 57.1 percent said "embrace it," while 36.5% said "avoid it" and 6.4% were undecided. The favorable number was running in the 70s but fell noticeably when it was first reported (in this column by me) that the Heat objected angrily and would not participate.

MARLINS OFF THE SCHNEID: [Update: Marlins blow 8-1 lead but hang on to beat Tampa Bay 10-9 in 10 innings for first win, getting the offensive bust-out they needed]. Original post: OK, 0-3 is 0.0185 percent of the season. I get that. Of course 0-3, at home, vs. a supposedly inferior division rival, when you score a grand total of three runs, makes 1aa1abbopeningweekit a bit worse. So does this: Ten straight road games -- tied for the longest trip of the season -- follow the three-game home series vs. Tampa Bay that begins tonight. Pressure shouldn't find any team this soon. Heck, you have to go back a whole year (2014 Angels) to find a team that began 0-3 and still made the playoffs. Pressure is lurking, though. It's waiting around the corner. That's why a strong showing vs. the Rays and an offensive breakout is important.

FINS' BRANDON ALBERT TRAINING IN BOXING GYM: Interesting video here by Herald's Charles Trainor Jr. of Dolphins left tackle Brandon Albert doing offseason work at Matt Baiamonte's boxing gym in Wynwood:

 

IF GREG COTE WERE IN CHARGE OF ROAD SIGNS: The spot-on, realistic-looking road signs pictured at 1aa1akardashianright, in red, have mysteriously begun popping up all over the Los Angeles area. Not sure who is behind the comic genius, but I love it. Imagine a culture where the faux-famous like the Kardashian family -- famous only for being famous -- were not welcomed everywhere as royalty but rather shunned as sad examples of the embarrassment of celebrity worship.

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April 09, 2015

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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April 02, 2015

Who are best athletes of past 20 years? 20 names; you pick top 5. Poll. Vote now!; plus Canes/NIT, Heat/Panthers playoff chase (updated), dead Cats, Ricky Williams' singing debut (w/ video), Marlins, Fins cheerleaders & more

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

It's Radio Thursday!: My usual Tuesday gig was delayed to Thursday this week so I'll be in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 2. Departed Brian Hartline bought a billboard to thank Dolphins fans. Classy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Final Four polls, Heat/Panthers playoff update, ageless wonders Wade and Jagr, Dolphins draft, Larranaga at NIT, Bieber roast & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Bumper sticker: 'Honk If You're Bored By Pointless, Premature Guesswork On What Teams Might Or Might Not Do In the NFL Draft'.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat holding on, Cats needing miracle. Update entering ThursdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 34-40 (L1), 2 1/2 games from 6th and 0 games (tiebreaker) from 8th with 8 games left (next tonight at Cleveland). Heat playoff likelihood: 74.5% (down 2.0) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 35-42 (L1), 3 points from 9th and 6 points from 8th with 5 games left (next tonight vs. Carolina). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.7% (unchanged) per sportsclubstats.com.

TOP 20 ATHLETES OF PAST 20 YEARS: PUTTING ESPN'S LIST IN RIGHT ORDER: ESPN.com marks its 1aa1atop20 1aa1atop20grath20th anniversary this week not only with a needless website redesign but also by ranking the Top 20 athletes of 1995-2015. All sports, and not just American athletes. You can read the story and see the list here. But I am interested in how your order might differ from ESPN's. In this poll -- the longest one we've ever had in this blog -- I list all 20 athletes, but alphabetically, not in ESPN's order, so as not to prejudice the jury. Please step back to take an historic view. Consider how the athlete dominated his or her sport and stands in its all-time estimation. Vote for your top five (5) and check back often for evolving results as we put a Miami spin on ESPN's order.

Deciphering the vote: In this poll, 20 percent would be a perfect-score vote if everyone voted for the maximum five athletes. Any total over 20% would indicate some are voting for only that person. Multiply an athlete's vote total by five for fair estimation of percentage of ballots that are including that athlete.

CANES-STANFORD FOR N.I.T. TITLE! BUT...: Jim Larranaga's Miami men face Stanford tonight 1aa1acaneshoopsat Madison Square Garden for the NIT championship after beating Temple in the semis. It's nice the Canes reached the final, win or lose. They have made the most of being passed over for the NCAA Tournament. But let's tap the brakes on what this means. Larranaga said a couple of days ago: "I hope our players realize the opportunity they have because whoever cuts down the nets on Thursday night, it's going to be winning a national championship." Hmm. Well... Really? The problem with the NIT is it's so clearly the "other" postseason tournament, the one you are relegated to if you don't get invited to the one you want. It would be great if UM won. An accomplishment, yes. But one worthy of "national champion" talk and a parade? Sorry. No.

1aa1adeadcatCATS DEAD ON ICE: Call it. It's over. This week's blown-lead 3-2 loss at Boston was a season killer for the Florida Panthers (see Playoff Chase above). The Cats are now six points off pace for the final playoff spot with five games left, their chances now negligible. Florida probably must finish on a 5-0 run (all at home, starting tonight) and then hope Boston and Ottawa both crash to even have a small chance. Otherwise this would make it the 17th non-playoff year in 21 franchise seasons. Hasn't been a terrible season by any means. Just not good enough.

Poll result: Kentucky, Duke the Final Four picks: We asked for your Final Four predictions, and you went Kentucky by 67.3 percent over Wisconsin and Duke by 67.5% over Michigan State. Thought both favorites, especially UK, might draw a larger margin.

EX-DOLPHIN RICKY WILLIAMS EMBARKS ON SINGING CAREER: Ever on a mystical journey of self-enlightment, Ricky Williams' latest life detour has led him to a recording studio. Williams, 37, is now barely recognizable after gaining about 85 pounds (see below) since his playing career after being diagnosed with acute munchieitis. And he again is wearing his hair in dreadlocks as he embarks on a musical career. Williams formed a duo he calls P.M. Dawn, explaining that the name stands for Post Miami, "and represents the dawn of a new morning on the beachhead of my life." The duo was signed to Gee Street, a boutique subsidiary of Def Jam Records, and has been recording at Noegnud Studios in northern California. "I don't sing the songs. The songs sing me," said Williams in a recent interview in Vibe. The sound is trippy, R&Bish with a hip-hop flavor. "Williams' sultry, breathy vocals score a touchdown!" raves Billboard in a new review. Williams' first single is called "Looking Through Patient Eyes." The video for it below begins with an introspective Williams seen walking on a beach, his eyes enigmatically covered by a dark lace veil:

 

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR MARLINS: The good news? In an ESPN The Magazine survey of MLB 1aa1abb25players, the Marlins finished first with 25 percent to the question, "Which team will be the 2014 Royals?" -- meaning the team that unexpectedly makes the playoffs. The bad news? The Washington Nationals, Miami's NL East roadblock, finished first with 30 percent to the question, "Who will win the World Series?" Update: Marlins are unchanged at 33-1 to win World Series (tied for 16th) in latest Bovada odds. However, the over/under on Miami wins has inched up from 81.5 to 82.5.

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URGENT DOLPHINS CHEERLEADERS NEWS:
 We here at Greg Cote's Random Evidence blog feel duty-bound to keep you abreast of Miami Dolphins cheerleaders news, and so we would note that the troupe recently embarked on a Norwegian cruise to Nassau, St. Maarten and St. Thomas for a photo shoot for their 2016 calendar. Pictured, courtesy the Dolphins: Two artsy photos taken on the cruise. The site of the photo shoot is the latest evidence of the club's concerted effort to grow the Dolphins brand in the Caribbean. Supposedly several cheerleaders got hammered one night on the cruise and crammed nude into a hot tub, to the howling delight of other passengers. NO IT ISN'T TRUE! I totally made that up. That did not actually happen. To our knowledge.

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