« May 2017 | Main | July 2017 »

8 posts from June 2017

June 29, 2017

Serena vs. McEnroe. What's fair? Poll. Last chance to vote!; plus Dolphins roster ranked only 22nd in NFL. Here's why, with grades for all starters; also, Dolfan gets married wearing helmet, Clinton Portis' near-murder, latest BIMD, HB Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) THURSDAY, JUNE 29. Congrats to Miami FC for beating MLS Atlanta last night to reach the round of eight in the U.S. Open Cup. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on Heat's Adebayo pick, The List (Heat) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Clinton Portis's near-murder: The former NFL and Miami Hurricanes star running back nearly committed murder four years ago over a financial swindle, says Sports Illustrated in new story. Click here to read.

The latest Back In My Day: I was back in-studio yesterday with Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Click here for the best-of podcast, then scroll to about 48:30 mark for latest Back In My Day (Tuxedos).

My column on Heat, Adebayo: Click on Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt for my column on the Miami Heat drafting Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo in first round. Most mock drafts and media experts see it as a "reach." John Calipari and Pat Riley disagree. I know where my benefit if doubt goes.

SERENA WILLIAMS VS. JOHN MCENROE: WHAT'S FAIR?: LeBatard and I had a genuine disagreement and high-pitched radio debate about this yesterday. John McEnroe noted in an interview Serenamcenroethat, while Serena is the greatest women's tennis player, she'd lose to the 700th-ranked man. LeBatard and many others agree and think Serena cannot be called the "best" without that qualifier. I think that's absurd and an insult to women's athletes and accomplishments to be constantly compared to men when the debate is pointless -- apples and oranges. Serena has won 23 singles majors (and counting, post-pregnancy). No man has won more than 17. Maybe this is a semantics argument (best vs. greatest), but I think it's unfair to Serena to always get the "yeah, but" qualifier on how she might lose to a good men's college player. Should the greatest women's weightlifter of all-time be diminished because men can outlift her? Crazy. Serena is the most accomplished player to ever lift a tennis racket. Period. OK, that's me. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll:

THE LATEST DISRESPECT OF MIAMI DOLPHINS: The Dolphins -- the 10-6 playoff team from 2016 but with a 7 1/2-win betting over/under for '17 -- continue saddled by low regard nationally. BushrodThe latest example: ESPN today ranks all 32 NFL rosters in order, based on Pro Football Focus grades for every projected starter, and the Dolphins' roster ranks 22nd. New England's is rated second, trailing only Atlanta. ESPN calls Ndamukong Suh the Fins' biggest strength, and the offensive line the biggest weakness. Why that's significant: Ryan Tannehill had a 116.6 rating throwing from a clean pocket, but only 49.1 when hurried -- a drop almost double the league average. Here are PFF's rankings for every Miami starter, with 90-plus considered elite, 80-89 good/high quality, 70-79 average, 60-69 below average, and 60 or lower poor. Totals add up to more than 22 starters because of starting battles at a few positions:

Elite (0) -- None. Good/high quality (9) --  S Reshad Jones 88.5; DT Suh 88.4; DE Cam Wake 87.4; RB Jay Ajayi 86.8; WR Jarvis Landry 85.1; CB Byron Maxwell 85.0; DE William Hayes 83.4; QB Tannehill 80.8 and WR DeVante Parker 80.2. Average (8) -- RT Ja'Wuan James 78.0; TE Anthony Fasano 76.5; WR Kenny Stills 73.8; LG Ted Larsen 72.3; LB Kiko Alonso 71.9; CB Bobby McCain 71.2; C Mike Pouncey 71.7 and LT Laremy Tunsil 70.4. Below average (2) -- S Nate Allen 68.0 and TE Julius Thomas 66.6. Poor (5) -- DT Jordan Phillips 56.8; RG LB Koa Misi 50.0; CB Xavien Howard 49.1; LB Lawrence Timmons 46.8 and (pictured) RG Jermon Bushrod 41.7.

My take: Grade for Maxwell seems high. But grades for Pouncey (when healthy), Tunsil and Timmons seem low.

DolweddingNEW DEFINITION FOR GREATEST DOLPHINS FANS EVER. OR WEIRDEST, PERHAPS?: You think you're a huge Dolphins fans? OK, would you wear a Dolphins helmet during your wedding ceremony? Put another way: Would your bride let you? Lee's wife-to-be did. Lee (@LeeToplanding on Twitter) is a huge Miami fan from England, got married on Sunday, and posted the attached photo from his wedding ceremony. Dolphins, get this guy free tickets or something. Seriously. I admire his level of fandom. More than that. I admire his bride's sense of humor.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 6-29-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish in 2nd of 3 vs. NL East rivals.

2. Confederations Cup, 2 p.m.: Germany vs. Mexico in soccer semifinal.

3. U.S. Swimming, 7 p.m.: National championships continue in Indianapolis.

4. Arm wrestling, 10 p.m.: It's the World League championships!

Select other recent columns: A 1-Man Mock Draft: My prediction for Heat's top pick. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: On Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

June 25, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: See what falls where among Heat, Marlins, Panthers and others; also, your (surprising?) verdict on Bam Adebayo, The List (Heat 13s), HB Daily (Sun/Mon) & more

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

1) SUNDAY/MONDAY, JUNE 25-26. 2) Miss our latest Back In My Day? Click on Privileged Pets for the LeBatard Show podcast and scroll to around 51:30 mark. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat draft Bam Adebayor with poll, your preferred pick going in & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My column on Heat drafting Adebayo: Click on Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt for my column on the Miami Heat drafting Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo Thursday night. Most mock drafts and media experts see it as a "reach." John Calipari and Pat Riley disagree. I know where my benefit if doubt goes.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JUNE 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (early this week) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. After a two-week vacation hiatus, we return with this week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami nabs Kentucky's Adebayo in NBA Draft: Most of the mock drafts and media experts are saying it was a “reach” for the Heat to take power-forward Bam Adebayo with the 14th pick. The combined resume' heft and expertise of John Calipari and Pat Riley politely disagree. Um, it seems pretty clear where the benefit of doubt should be going.

2. MARLINS: Fish continue big 10-game homestand: Miami in its 10-game homestand tries to avoid being 4-game-swept by the Cubs on Sunday and then moves on to three vs. Mets starting Tuesday, before 10 straight on the road brings us to All-Star Game Week at Marlins Park. Fish have been credible the past five weeks. Unfortunately those first six weeks of the season happened, too.

3. PANTHERS: Ouch. Cats let top scorer get away: Florida inexplicably let top scorer Jonathan Marchessault (30 goals last season) go to Las Vegas in NHL expansion draft, then traded Reilly Smith (40 goals past two years) in salary dump. This by a team that finished 23rd in scoring. Team wisely went offense in NHL Draft, at least. Dale Tallon better go get some more goals when free agency starts July 1.

4. NBA: Lonzo to Lakers in Draft, just like Dad wanted: UCLA's Lonzo Ball going second overall to the Lakers was the biggest national news in Thursday night's NBA Draft, much to the delight of his famous and obnoxious shoe salesman father, LaVar. Now -- and I mean this sincerely -- may LaVar please disappear and never be heard from again!

5. SAILING: America's Cup nears its crescendo: Reigning champion Oracle Team USA is on the ropes against Emirates Team New Zealand in the 35th America's Cup that ends Tuesday in Bermuda. Hot Button believes this event would be much quicker and more efficient if the boats would have outboard motors. But that's just us.

6. TIGER WOODS: “Professional help” latest chapter in saga: Following his recent DUI arrest the once-dominant Tiger, winner of 14 majors but none since 2008, announced he would seek “professional help,” which is broadly presumed to mean rehab for a pill addiction. I believe Woods officially now has more career controversies than major wins.

7. BIG3 BASKETBALL: Invented by the rapper Ice Cube, BIG 3 is 3-on-3, half-court pro summer basketball league that debuts Sunday in Brooklyn, featuring ex-NBA stars such as Allen Iverson, Mike Bibby, Chauncey Billups and Jermaine O'Neal, with coaches including Julius Erving and Ricky Barry. I'd call the venture “Has-Beens On Parade,” but that might be seen as mean.

8. SOCCER: Miami FC readies for U.S. Open round of 16: NASL club Miami FC has reached the final 16 in the U.S. Open Cup and will host MLS expansion team Atlanta United on Wednesday night at FIU Stadium. This event has been going on annually since 1914. Nice run by Miami.

9. COLLEGE BASEBALL: Gators make College World Series final two: Seminoles were eliminated but Florida Gators advanced to face LSU in best-of-three championship series. Final round starts Monday night in Omaha, where the UM Hurricanes are hell-bent to be next year in Jim Morris' final season.

10. TENNIS: Wimbledon next major on deck: Wimbledon begins next week (July 3), and the favorites tell you much about the state of tennis. Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are near-even on the men's side, while the women's field is wide open with Serena Williams on maternity leave. The she-fave? Karolina Pliskova, who has never won a major.

Missing the HB10 cut: ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual 'Body' issue is out next week, July 5. Official name of the Body issue: Narcissists On Parade ..... The NBA Awards Show on Monday finds Erik Spoelstra the only Heat finalist, but not a coach of the year favorite. I believe it may be a law that Gregg Popovich has to always win that award ..... The PGA Tour will start blood-testing players next season. "The Tiger Rule"? xx ..... West Palm's Brooks Koepka winning golf's U.S. Open last week was not nearly as interesting as the fact his actress-girlfriend Jena Sims appeared in Attack of the 50-Foot Cheerleader ..... Phil Mickelson split from his longtime caddie and the only people on Earth who cared were Phil, his caddie and golf writers ..... I'll hitchhike from Miami to Vegas if the pay-per-view nut for Mayweather-McGregor is less than $100. (Or, $99.99 to make you think you're getting a deal!)

POLL RESULT: CLOSE, BUT MOST HEAT FANS DON'T LIKE ADEBAYO PICK: We asked for your gut reaction to the Heat selecting Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo 14th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, and it was 56.4 percent overall disapproval vs. 43.6% approval. The favorable votes broke down as 28.3% "like it" and 15.2% "love it."

THE LIST: HEAT 13'S: New top draft pick Bam Adebayo will wear jersey No. 13 for the Heat. He'll be only the seventh player to do so, and only of those (Mike Miller) has played more than one season in Miami. Heats 13s, listed in order of regular-season points scored for Miami:

Player                        Years        Points    G/Avg.

Mike Miller                  2010-13    746      139/5.4

Kendall Gill                 2001-02    372       65/5.7

Shabazz Napier            2014-15    261       51/5.1

Alexander Johnson      2007-08     179       43/4.2

Luther Head                2008-09      43       10/4.3 

Jamal Robinson           2000-01       6        6/1.0

Bam Adebayo              2017-

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SUN-MON 6-25/26-17: Upcoming sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins homestand: Four-game Cubs series ends Sunday, then Mets visit.

2. BIG3 basketball: Allen Iverson, other NBA ex's in 3-on-3 league starting Sunday.

4. College World Series: Gators-LSU best-of-3 championship series starts Monday.

Select other recent columns: A 1-Man Mock Draft: My prediction for Heat's top pick. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: On Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

June 23, 2017

Heat make Kentucky forward Bam Adebayo the 14th pick in 1st round of NBA Draft! What do you think? New poll. Vote now!; plus my column on pick, your choice going into draft, Hot Button Daily (Fri/Sat) & more

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

1) FRIDAY/SATURDAY, JUNE 23-24. Miss our latest Back In My Day? Click on Privileged Pets for the LeBatard Show podcast and scroll to around 51:30 mark. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat draft preview with my pick and poll, Panthers lose big gamble, Grenfell Tower charity video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My column on Heat drafting Adebayo: Click on Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt for my column on the Miami Heat drafting Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo Thursday night. Most mock drafts and media experts see it as a "reach." John Calipari and Pat Riley disagree. I know where my benefit if doubt goes.

IT'S BAM ADEBAYO! HEAT SELECT KENTUCKY FORWARD WITH 14TH PICK IN NBA DRAFT. YOUR THOUGHTS?: Call Adebayo a "reach" if you wish, based on most mock-draft projections that had him going lower in the first round. But you know what I call him? A 6-10, 245-pound kid promising enough to be recruited by John Calipari, and then promising enough again to be drafted by Pat Riley. Bam1That earns a little benefit of doubt. Make that a lot. I like that Miami targeted a replacement for Chris Bosh in the first round, a front-court guy to pair with Hassan Whiteside. That was the big need. Once Gonzaga's Zach Collins went 10th overall, I thought the Heat might look to Wake Forest's John Collins or UCLA's T.J. Leaf or even Harry Giles. But it was Adebayo. (And it will be interesting to track his career vs. Giles in particular). But no matter who it was, at whatever position, this was an especially important Heat draft. Why? Two reasons: 1) This was Miami's third-highest pick since it struck gold with Dwyane Wade in 2003. Since then the only selections higher than 14th have been Michael Beasley (2nd in 2008, and largely a flop) and Justise Winslow (10th in 2015, with the jury on him still out). Miami seldom picking this high owes to the team's success and also to Riley traditionally not caring that much about the draft as a roster-building tool. But players drafted 14th in the NBA Draft have included Clyde Drexler and Tim Hardaway, and this was a fairly deep draft. 2) Golden State. Every other team including Miami that hopes to make up ground on the dominant, champion Warriors will need kisses of good fortune from all directions. One is the draft. Riley needs to hit big with this pick. Adebayo must be an immediate rotation player who develops into a starter and (dare Heat fans dream) a star. That isn't a level you'd expect from a No. 14, but it happens. So let's see if Riley has saved all of his magic for free agency, or if he spared a sprinkle for this draft. Much luck is involved, of course, beyond the top-tier picks. The crazy youth of modern NBA Drafts has become an added uncertainty. Freshman (like Adebayo) reign. Teenagers. As a parent, I didn't entirely trust my 18- or 19-year-old to remember to feed the cat; now they're being trusted with the futures of franchises. If you're a sophomore or a junior, you're a graybeard. Seniors who get drafted -- they're more rare than aberrant spasms of humility from LaVar Ball. As for Adebayo, he averaged 13 points and eight rebounds for a pedigreed program. He shot 60 percent.  He is extremely athletic. He is not a big who will be a 3-point threat, but he'll join Whiteside in giving Miami what could be an awesome defensive presence. Riley's summer has just begun, the draft just the appetizer. In trades or via free agency, he must find a way to make Miami a force in the Eastern Conference again. Was Bam Adebayo a good start? Calipari and Riley say so. That's enough for me ... for now. Your initial thoughts on this pick follow in this poll:

POLL RESULT: ZACH COLLINS WAS YOUR PREFERRED PICK GOING IN: We asked who you would be most pleased to see the Heat draft Thursday night from among top candidates in the range of the 14th overall pick, and, closing off the voting as the draft began at 7 p.m., your choice from among nine options was Gonzaga center Zach Collins with 28.9 percent. Others with sizable support were Kentucky guard Malik Monk with 14.4%, Duke guard Luke Kennard with 13.5%, and Wake Forest forward John Collins and Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell both with 12.5%. Then came Duke forward Harry Giles with 7.7%.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: FRI/SAT 6-23/24-17: Today's sports events of most interest to SoFla fans:

1. Chicago Cubs at Marlins: Second & 3rd of 4 vs. reigning champions.

2. NHL Draft: Panthers with 10th overall pick Friday night in Chicago.

3. College World Series: Gators still alive to reach best-of-3 finals.

Select other recent columns: Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court , return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch, on Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

June 22, 2017

NBA Draft night: Here's my Heat pick at 14th ... now your turn. Poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins camp/Panthers schedule notes, Cats lose big on gamble, Grenfell Tower charity video, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JUNE 22. Miss our latest Back In My Day? Click on Privileged Pets for the LeBatard Show podcast and scroll to around 51:30 mark. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Return of 'Random Evidence Of a Cluttered Mind' notes column, your Mayweather-McGregor verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Heat draft how'd-you-like-the-pick poll coming later tonight: In a separate, new blogpost,we'll give you the chance to weigh in on the Heat's No. 1 draft pick tonight just moments after the selection is made. Watch for it and vote!

Dolphins camp, Panthers schedules notes: Newly announced today: Miami Dolphins will open training camp on July 20 for rookies and July 26 for veterans and the full squad. Florida Panthers will open their regular season Oct. 6 at Tampa Bay and Oct. 7 at home, also vs. Tampa. Click on 2017-18 Cats for the full season schedule.

MY PICK FOR HEAT AT 14TH OVERALL TONIGHT: WAKE FOREST'S JOHN COLLINS. NOW IT'S YOUR TURN...: Click on A 1-Man Mock Draft for my latest column, on my prediction for the Heat's first-round pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft. Here is a condensed version of the column: I'm thinking big for the Heat. Literally. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra know the biggest hole on their roster and Jcollinsin their lineup remains the one left by power forward Chris Bosh’s erasure due to blood clots. The Heat’s greatest position need is a frontcourt complement to center Hassan Whiteside, and Miami should have a chance to get a good one the way this draft looks to shake out. As a hedge I must note that a marksman such as Duke guard Luke Kennard will tempt and is a possibility for the Heat, but our premonition stays strong with a big. Miami I believe would grab Gonzaga center Zach Collins quicker than you can say "the Heat is on the clock" if he falls to 14, but I don’t see Zach from ‘Zaga escaping the top 10. UCLA power forward T.J. Leaf would get a long look from Miami but he might be a bit of a reach at 14th. Miami also could have an intriguing decision with Duke power forward Harry Giles likely to be available to them, but his history of knee injuries makes him an awfully big risk to absorb. (I’d take him if the medical charts are unequivocally positive, a huge if, but -- after dealing for two-plus seasons with the Bosh medical drama -- I doubt the Heat will chance a first-round pick who requires a note from his doctor). So. Drumroll, por favor? With the 14th pick in the NBA Draft the Miami Heat select ... Wake Forest power forward John Collins. Call him the BAC, the Best Available Collins after ‘Zaga’s Zach. Unlike most top prospects, the 6-10 John Collins (pictured) played beyond his freshman season and it helped him hugely. Few players in college basketball improved more as a sophomore. Collins averaged 19.2 points on 62 percent shooting and also averaged 9.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks this past season. From Cardinal Newman High in West Palm Beach, Collins also led the entire NCAA in player efficiency rating at 35.93, and excelled in his pro workouts. Nation-leading efficiency at a need position? That sounds logical to me. But now it's your turn. This poll lists (alphabetically) the nine players in the Heat's range -- players who were seen as being drafted between 11th and 17th in either ESPN or Sports Illustrated's most recent mock drafts. From among them, you consider their talents and the Heat's needs and vote for the one you'd most like to see drafted tomorrow night. Ready, set ... vote!

PANTHERS LOSE BIG GAMBLE: In Wednesday night's NHL expansion-draft reveal the Florida Panthers lost big, as I feared they might. The new Las Vegas Golden Knights raided other teams' Marchessaultunprotected lists for one player each, and Florida has itself to blame for exposing and losing Jonathan Marchessault (pictured). He should have been protected after leading the Cats in scoring last season with 30 goals at age 26 -- Florida's first 30G man since 2008-09. So dumb for a team that ranked 23rd in scoring to risk losing a top gun like that. Also Wednesday, the Cats traded Reilly Smith (15 goals) for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick. Both issues had tinges of contractual factors; still, from an on-ice standpoint, that's 45 goals gone in an instant from a team without a surplus of offense. Two results of that moving forward: 1) Florida surely will go with a goal-getter with the 10th overall pick in Friday night's NHL Draft in Chicago. And 2) More reasons to try to pry disgruntled star Alex Ovechkin from Washington in a trade. Ovechkin loves Miami, and ESPN.com this month named Florida one of five viable possible suitors. Make it happen and the Panthers would have 1,323 combined career goals in Jaromir Jagr and Ovechkin, who'd be the Panthers' most bona fide goal threat since Pavel Bure circa 1999-01.

THE GRENFELL TOWER CHARITY SINGLE: The recent Grenfell Tower fire tragedy ravaged a 24-story apartment building of public housing in North Kensington in west London. The number of presumed fatalities has been placed at around 80, the deadliest fire in mainland Great Britain in more than a century. This is a charity single by dozens of music artists. Warning: It is emotional. If it does not draw a tear, check your pulse.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 6-22-17: Today's sports events of most interest to SoFla fans:

1. NBA Draft, 7 p.m.: Heat on clock with 14th overall pick in 1st round.

2. Chicago Cubs at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: First of four vs. reigning champions.

3. College World Series, 8 p.m.: TCU-Louisville in another elimination game.

4. Confederations Cup soccer, 2 p.m.: It's Germany vs. Chile.

Select other recent columns: Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court , return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch, on Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

June 21, 2017

The 'Random Evidence' notes column returns with the shame of Margaret Court leading off; plus the new Back In My Day (Privileged Pets), your Mayweather-McGregor verdict, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21. Happy Summer Solstice, all! 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mayweather vs. McGregor with poll, Hot Button Top 10, your next-Miami-champion verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new Back in My Day: Privileged Pets: Click on Privileged Pets for yesterday's LeBatard Show podcast and scroll to the 51:30 mark for the start of the new BIMD. 

THE RETURN OF 'RANDOM EVIDENCE OF A CLUTTERED MIND' NOTES COLUMN: For many years ending in 2015 I penned a popular Sunday notes column called “Random Evidence of a Cluttered Mind” (from which the name of this blog derived). Tuesday, in a new form and on an occasional basis, Random returned after a two-year hiatus with a mixture of serious and fun across all sports. The inaugural topics:

Mcourt* A lambaste of tennis' major embarrassment, bigot Margaret Court. Pictured: Court, now 74, waves goodbye to her formerly good reputation.

* This week's Heat draft and why I disagree with most mocks.

* The Panthers' big gamble in exposing Jonathan Marchessault to expansion draft.

* The U.S. Open champion's notable girlfriend (Attack Of the 50-Foot Cheerleader).

* Marlins' home hotness reaches 11-2 run last night.

* Quantifying high hopes for UM football, men's basketball.

* And Quick Hits featuring Mayweather-McGregor fight, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jim Harbaugh, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Colin Kaepernick and Pete Rose.

Click on Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court to read the comeback column in its entirety.

POLL RESULT: MOST SAY THEY WON'T WATCH MAYWEATHER-MCGREGOR: We asked if you plan to watch the newly confirmed Aug. 26 Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight, and it was 59.8 percent "no" to 40.2% "yes." The fight is expected to break records for pay-per-view revenue.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 6-21-17: Today's sports events of most interest to SoFla fans:

1. Washington at Marlins, 12:10 p.m.: Rubber game of 3-game NL East series.

2. NHL announcement show, 8 p.m.: Award winners, Vegas expansion picks revealed.

3. College World Series, 7 p.m.: FSU in elimination game vs. LSU.

Select other recent columns: Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch, from Sunday, on Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

June 19, 2017

Mayweather-McGregor: Will you watch? Poll. Last day to vote!: plus latest Hot Button Top 10. See what falls where; also, your next-Miami-champion verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Hfd1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 19. Hope it was a Happy Father's Day to all my fellow padres out there except LaVar Ball. Hope y'all had a wonderful Sunday with loved ones! 2) We talked Heat, Dolphins and other stuff in our Miami Herald Facebook Live debut last week. If you missed it, click here to watch. Also ICYMI, check us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a pictorial of our recent 12-day day European vacation in Spain, Italy and France. 3) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's next-champion poll, your verdict on Mount Rushmore-Plus of South Florida's biggest current sports stars & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MaymcgMAYWEATHER-MCGREGOR: WILL YOU WATCH?: It's official for Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. Boxing icon Floyd Mayweather vs. UFC star Conor McGregor (under boxing rules) in their much-awaited, long-delayed fight. It's a hybrid/oddity that has been criticized as a farce by some, especially with Mayweather a prohibitive betting favorite. It is the fight you hate to love and love to hate. I write about the polarizing nature of this event in my latest Sunday column; click on Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch to read. There is speculation the event could break records for pay-per-view revenue, because it will draw boxing fans, UFC fans, spectacle junkies and curiosity seekers. Yet for some reason, interest in this fight is a guilty pleasure. I think far more are actually interested in watching this fight than might admit it. So let's find out with this poll. Vote honestly.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Draft, then free agency on deck for Miami: Heat select 14th overall in this coming Thursday's NBA Draft, team's third-highest pick since Dwyane Wade in 2003, and the free agency period soon follows. Miami and 28 other teams enter the summer all trying to figure out the same thing: How to close the wide gap with the champion Golden State Warriors?
 
2. MARLINS: Best homestand of season begins tonight: With Miami hosting All-Star Game in only three weeks, Marlins open their sexiest homestand of the season starting Monday vs. the NL East power Nationals, then reigning champion Cubs, then division-rival Mets. Fish have been 10-2 at Marlins Park since that nightmarish 1-8 homestand in May.
 
3. PANTHERS: Cats hire coach; Ovechkin on radar?: Florida hired Bob Boughner as a first-time NHL head coach amid rumors team may be among suitors for Washington scoring star Alex Ovechkin, who seems at crossroads with Capitals. Ovechkin, a seven-time 50-goal guy, would give Cats their most dynamic scorer since Pavel Bure in 1999-01.
 
4. GOLF: Former no-name Koepka U.S. Open: The 117th edition of season's second major got off to weird start in Erin, Wisc., with defending champ Dustin Johnson opening with 75, and an advertising blimp crashing near course. It ended with West Palm Beach native Brooks Koepka making the U.S. Open only his second win on the PGA Tour.
 
5. NBA: Major trade at top of draft: The Celtics and 76ers agreed to swap the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks in Thursday's draft, with Philly now planning to select Washington guard Markelle Fultz. It doesn't change likelihood Lonzo Ball and his Dad will go No. 2 to Lakers, unfortunately.
 
6. BOXING: Mayweather-McGregor is official at last: Boxer Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor will fight under boxing rules Aug. 26 in Las Vegas, it was confirmed last week.BIg outcry it's a farce and will be lopsided, yet the oddity-bout is expected to set pay-per-view records. 
 
7. DOLPHINS: Fins end offseason work: A three-day minicamp wrapped up offseason work, and Dolphins won't assemble again until the late-July start of training camp. Miami players, coaches and fans all seem optimistic for another playoff year, but the Las Vegas over/under on Fins wins is only 7 ½. Hmm. Somebody's wrong here. But who?

8. SOCCER: Big week on two fronts for Miami: Miami FC won again to continue its advance in the U.S. Open Cup. Meanwhile David Beckham cleared another hurdle in his bid to secure stadium land and finally realize his oft-delayed, oft-impeded dream of Major League Soccer here.

9. COLLEGE BASEBALL: CWS underway in Omaha: Eight teams including Florida and Florida State have begun play in Omaha to see which two will reach the three-game championship round. With end of Canes' long NCAA streak, won't be en easy watch for Jim Morris.

10. HURRICANES: UM football No. 15 by one estimation: Mark Schlabach's post-spring Top 25 for ESPN.com has the Canes 15th, for what it's worth. I might share that optimism, if I knew who UM's quarterback will be or if he'll be any good.

Missing the HB10 cut: India and Pakistan are playing a big cricket match somwhere, and I don't understand a word of it ..... Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo may leave Real Madrid after being accused of tax evasion by Spanish authorities. Surprised Real Madrid fans haven't started a GoFundMe to pay what he owes ..... Jim Harbaugh has invited the Obamas to serve as honorary captains at a Michigan game this fall. Cannot confirm Trump has signed an executive order to make honorary captains illegal ..... Want the exact definition of 'your football career  is over'? Comeback-attempting Vince Young got cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders ..... Sergey Kovalev will protest his eighth-round knockout loss to Andre Ward last night in Las Vegas, but nobody cares because it isn't Mayweather-McGregor ..... Roger Goodell said he does not believe unsigned Colin Kaepernick is being ostracized or blackballed, and everybody else brayed laughter ..... The Reds unveiled a Pete Rose statue depicting his iconic head-first slide. You can tell it's life-like, because there are betting tickets flying out of his rear uniform pocket.

POLL RESULT: MOST NEXT-CHAMPION FAITH GOES TO UM FOOTBALL: We asked which of South Florida's Big 5 sports teams is most likely to win a championship next, and Hurricanes football was your landslide winner with 60.6 percent. After that it was Dolphins with 17.2%, Panthers with 13.3% and, lagging way behind, Heat and Marlins with 4.4% each.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 6-19-17: Today's sports events of most interest to SoFla fans:

1. Washington at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Fish open 10-game homestand vs. division rival.

2. College World Series, 2 p.m.: Two games including FSU in must-win to stay alive.

Select other recent columns: No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

June 17, 2017

Poll: Who's next? Which South Florida Big 5 team is closest to championship? Last day to vote!; plus your call on top five biggest current Miami sports stars! (Is who's No. 1 a surprise?); also, Facebook Live, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 17. Good to be back in-studio with LeBatard Show this week. Fun show Tuesday. Really enjoyed meeting and sharing air with Domonique Foxworth. 2) ICYMI, check out our recent posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a pictorial of our recent 12-day day European vacation in Spain, Italy and France. 3) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest current South Florida pro athlete poll, the line on political discourse, your verdict on Tiger Woods & more. 45 Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Me on Herald Facebook Live: Myself and colleague Manny Navarro discussed Heat, Dolphins and other stuff on Miami Herald Facebook Live this week. If you missed it, click here to watch.

MIAMI'S NEXT MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM: OUR ANNUAL POLL: Which of South Florida's Big 5 teams -- Dolphins, Heat, Hurricanes football, Marlins or Panthers -- is best-positioned to next Nextchamp Nextchamp2reign as champion of their sport? It is a subject I tackle in my latest column. I don't see any next-champ as imminent. Think all have a steep climb. The Fins, Heat and Canes face major competition roadblocks and the Marlins woefully lack starting pitching. The Panthers actually may be closest. Click on Steep Climbs For Miami's Big 5 to read the full column. But I'm more interested in your opinion, so here comes our annual blog poll on the topic. A year ago you had UM football edging Panthers 30.3% to 28.2%, followed by Heat 19.2%, Dolphins 13.0% and Marlins 9.4%. Has the order changed for 2017? You decide, right now. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results. And remember: This is not a favorite sport or favorite team poll. Regardless of who you most cheer or hope wins, which team do you honestly feel is closest to winning it all? The poll below is alphabetical by team nickname. Vote now!

ANNOUNCING OUR 'MOUNT RUSHMORE-PLUS': THE FIVE BIGGEST CURRENT STARS IN OUR BIG FOUR PRO SPORTS: We gave you a ballot listing 20 candidates, the top current stars from the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers. We allowed you to name your top five. More than 1,500 votes were cast until we closed it off at 4 p.m. today. And here are your results, including the percentage of times that player was included on a top-five ballot, with my commentary:

Gstanton1. GIANCARLO STANTON, MARLINS RIGHT FIELDER, 80.20%: A fairly dominating win by the Fish slugger. A mild surprise to me, if only because the Marlins are not having a great year and are only our third-biggest team, after Dolphins and Heat. But there's something about a home-run hitter, and a Stanton at-bat is must-watch TV. Or is this result more indicative of A) three Dolphins splitting the vote, or B) Miami's overall starpower being diminished in the post-LeBron/Dwyane era.

Jlandry2. JARVIS LANDRY, DOLPHINS RECEIVER, 58.95%: Interesting to me that Landry was anointed the Fins' biggest star, although not a big surprise. He's a very productive, Pro Bowl player at a glamour position. And he's young and still ascending.

 

Hwhiteside3. HASSAN WHITESIDE, HEAT CENTER, 54.10%: Thought the big man had a shot at the overall title, but not quite sure his popularity with fans has yet caught up to his dominance in rebounding and blocked shots. Heat not making the players didn't help.

Nsuh4. NDAMUKONG SUH, DOLPHINS DEFENSIVE TACKLE, 50.90%: Pretty strong finish for a player in the trenches whose main task is the unglamorous job of stopping the run. A show of respect for his still-high status among NFL DTs.

 

Rtannehill5. RYAN TANNEHILL, DOLPHINS QUARTERBACK, 50.60%: Barely sneaking onto our mountaintop at No. 5 is a somewhat modest finish for an entrenched starting quarterback. It may be a reflection of many Dolfans still not be all-the-way sold on Tannehill.

 

Next five: Cam Wake, Dolphins defensive end, with 46.05%; Jaromir Jagr, Panthers right wing, with 29.30%; Jay Ajayi, Dolphins running back, with 26.40%; Goran Dragic, Heat guard, with 17.40%; and Udonis Haslem, Heat forward, with 15.80%. Others over 10%: Ichiro, Marlins outfielder; Dion Waiters, Heat guard; and Reshad Jones, Dolphins safety.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 6-17-17: Today's sports events of most interest to SoFla fans:

1. Marlins at Atlanta, 4 p.m.: Hot Fish on 16-8 run entering 2nd of 3 at Braves.

2. U.S. Open golf, 11 a.m.: 4-way tie for lead into 3rd round from Erin, Wisc.

3. College World Series, 3 p.m.: CWS gets underway with 2 games including FSU.

4. Ward-Kovalev boxing, 9 p.m.: Interesting light-heavyweight bout from Vegas.

Select other recent columns: History Calling Warriors, LeBron: Previewing NBA Finals won by Warriors. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

June 13, 2017

Who is biggest current star in South Florida pro sports? It's biggest poll in history of blog. Today is last chance to vote!; plus Radio Tuesday, Warriors stake claim, Tiger Woods and your verdict, line on political discourse, Hot Button Special & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 13. We're back from our 12-day European holiday and happy to be back on the Dan leBatard Show With Stugotz today as usual. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger Woods arrest with poll, Jeb Bush out of Marlins bidding, Canes baseball streak ends, firing of Terry Frei, World Fame 100 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, and 10 to 1 nationally on ESPN Radio, with the national show also airing on ESPN television platforms.

Our most recent columns: Golden State stakes claim to history, Tiger Woods' fall: For the Warriors as a team or LeBron James as a player, this NBA Finals was going to leave one of them looking a lot like the best there ever was. And it's Golden State. Click on History Calling Warriors, LeBron for my column previewing an especially special Finals. On Tiger, sports has never seen an athlete so great and dominant fall so far and hard. Click on A Fall From Greatness And From Grace to read.

NOTE TO READERS: Our major best-of poll closes around 2 pm. today and soon our Mount Rushmore-Plus. We'll also share thoughts from our Euro vacation, and hope you followed our tour of Spain, France and Italy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

WHO IS THE BIGGEST CURRENT STAR IN OUR BIG FOUR PRO SPORTS? LAST CHANCE TO VOTE!: Dolphins. Heat. Marlins. Panthers. (That's alphabetical). Of all the current players on those BigfourBig Four pro teams, who is the biggest star or the face of South Florida sports -- by however you would choose to define that. It was an easy answer for years when Dan MiamisportsMarino reigned. It was easy again when the Heat had LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Now, though, with the Heat's Big 3 a thing of the past and Jose Fernandez tragically gone, the answer has stopped being simple. The answer also might depend whether you put more weight on a player's greatness right now or spanning a full career. Below is my alphabetical list of our Top 20 current players in overall stature. It turned out to be eight Dolphins and four each of the other three teams. YOU MAY VOTE FOR YOUR TOP FIVE (5), and please do use all five of your votes. Then check back often to monitor evolving results because we'll be leaving this poll up the whole time we're away, until announcing our winners on June 12. This is the biggest poll in the history of our blog, both in length of ballot and duration of voting. If you find it tough to narrow your ballot to only five names, we'll have succeeded. By the way, I know that's an old Panthers logo in the illustration at right. Sorry. And remember: Please don't be unduly influenced by which team or sport happens to be your favorite. Respect all four teams as impartially as possible, perhaps as you might if you were an outsider examining another city's stars. We'll announce the results Tuesday afternoon, post-radio show. OK. Ready? Vote!

Remember to vote for your top FIVE (5)!

Deciphering a five-vote ballot: The maximum vote share for any one individual in this poll would be 20 percent, if all voters cast the maximum five votes each. The percentages you see multiplied by five equates to the percentage of times that player is included in voters' top fives. In other words, a player at 12% is being included on 60% of overall ballots.

TRUMP AND THE LINE TO RESPECT IN POLITICAL DISCOURSE: In the spirit of transparency, I did not vote for Donald Trump, and his performance in office has consistently reminded me why. I believe his occupying the White House, made dubious by Russian influence now under investigation, is the worst electorate mistake America has made in my lifetime. But there are lines to respect even in objecting to the office-holder. For me, poking fun at Trump is fine. For example, I delighted to see an immediate Urban Dictionary entry on his apparent Twitter misspelling of the word coverage as "covfefe": (Noun) When you want to say "coverage" but your hands are too small to hit all the letters on your keyboard. Now that's funny. (At least to Democrats!) But the controversy embroiling comedian Kathy Griffin? Not funny. At all. She posted and immediately apologized for a photo of herself holding what appeared to be Trump's bloody, disembodied head. CNN quickly and justifiably fired her as even the most Trump-loathing liberals joined the outcry against the offensive, over-the-line image. Object politically as you wish. It's still a free country. But what do we have left if we abandon our most basic tenets of civility?

POLL RESULTS: SHARPLY DIVIDED FEELINGS ON WHETHER TO FEEL BAD FOR TIGER: We asked, in the wake of his DUI arrest this week, "Do you feel bad for Tiger Woods?" Results skewed slightly anti-Tiger but mostly were mixed. It was 48.6 percent no, 41.2% yes and 10.2% undecided.

HOT BUTTON SPECIAL: Top 10 events in SoFla sports happening before our return from vacation June 12:

1. NBA Finals: Golden State and Cleveland through June 18 if needed. 

2. Marlins: Home through June 4, then on road June 5-11.

3. Stanley Cup Finals: Pittsburgh and Nashville through June 14 if needed.

4. French Open: Through June 11 in Paris.

5. UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid vs. Juventus in June 3 title match.

6. Dolphins OTA days: Next offseason practices are June 5-8.

7. MLB Draft: Happens June 12,with Marlins holding 13th pick.

8. WWE Summer Slam: Scheduled June 9 in Sunrise.

9. Belmont Stakes: Ends Triple Crown season June 10 in New York.

10. America's Cup sailing: Through June 27 in Bermuda.

Select other recent columns: Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote