GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It's WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for best-of podcast from yesterday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. It's really bad, thanks to my record-low performance. You're welcome! 2) R.I.P., Gordon Banks (pictured), former English World Cup soccer star and Fort Lauderdale Strikers goalkeeper in the late '70s, gone at 81. My column from last June. 3) Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): State of Miami pro sports with next-champion poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.
"It's February 13th, fellas. Only one day left to dream up a creatively plausible excuse why you forgot Valentine's Day." --Greg Cote
BOB COSTAS WALKS AWAY FROM NBC WITH INTEGRITY INTACT: Bob Costas revealed details this past weekend of what led to his departure from NBC Sports after 40 years. Basically, it was that NBC thought he'd crossed a line with on-air commentary about the NFL's concussion and brain-injury problem. Costas would not agree to be quiet, so the two sides mutually ended their long marriage. Go here for the in-depth ESPN piece that broke the story. For my own newest column, visit Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity. I wrote admiringly about Costas, his career and moral compass. I also see his story as a microcosm reflecting much of America's evolving opinion about football. We acknowledge the downside, the threat to players' health ... but we can't stop watching. Costas could only keep broadcasting NFL games if he kept his mouth shut. He wouldn't. Good for him.
POLL RESULT: SURPRISE! INTER MIAMI SOCCER SEEN AS MIAMI'S NEXT CHAMP: A team that won't even play its first game until next year will be Miami's next major pro champion, said you in our most recent blogpoll. We may say less about confidence in David Beckham's Inter Miami as it does as lack of confidence in the immediate futures of the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers. We asked, "Which of South Florida's 5 major pro teams do you think will win a championship next?" You results: Inter Miami/MLS Cup 50.42 percent; Panthers/Stanley Cup 16.81%; Heat/NBA Finals 13.45%; Marlins/World Series 10.08%; and Dolphins/Super Bowl 9.24%. So the team that doesn't yet exist won easily, followed by the team that has never won a championship. Lean times for the Heat, Fish and Fins.
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is THURSDAY, May 18. R.I.P., Chris Cornell. See video at bottom of this post. 2) Latest Back in My Day video: Click on BIMD: Gas Jockeys to watch. 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday column, HB Daily & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.
Newest column: The Heat, the draft and Harry Giles: Click on Big Risk For Big Upside to see how a top-five talent could fall to Miami at 14th, and why the Heat, with proper assurances, should pounce if the get the chance.
MOCK-DRAFT FORECASTS FOR HEAT WITH 14TH OVERALL PICK: The June 22 NBA Draft looms after last night's lottery saw no miracle for the Heat, who'll select 14th overall. Miami had a 0.5 chance at the No.1 pick and 1.8% to get in the top three. Instead the Heat will pick mid-round as the odds forecast, and ESPN.com's post-lottery mock draft predicts Miami will end up with Duke freshman forward Harry Giles (pictured right). Sayeth the mock: "It might be a few weeks before we know what NBA doctors think of Giles' knee. If he's red-flagged medically, he could drop up to 10 spots on our board, depending on the diagnosis. However, if doctors are satisfied that his knees are in good shape, the Heat will get a steal at No. 14. Many scouts feel Giles has the most raw talent of any player in the draft. And the Heat can afford to bring him along slowly, getting him fully healthy and explosive again before unleashing a Hassan Whiteside-Giles frontcourt from hell." My take: See my column, linked above. Always like the Duke pedigree, agree on the big upside, and power forward should be a pretty obvious target priority for Miami. Giles is a red-flag risk because of two ACL knee surgeries. But if Miami had medical assurances this would be a tantalizing, dynamic risk-pick if the opportunity arose. (ESPN has only one state player-college player going in its mock first round: Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac to Minnesota seventh overall). Another mock draft, by CBS Sports today, has Giles and his knees falling to 20th and Miami at 14 taking Wake Forest forward John Collins (pictured left). A third mock, by Sports Illustrated, has Heat selecting Indiana forward OG Anunoby. Well, at least everybody agrees it'll be a forward.
LARRY CSONKA SPEAKS OF HIS TEAMMATES' HEALTH STRUGGLES: In his blog at LarryCsonka.com, under the headline, My Teammates Battles (and we forgive him the missing apostrophe), the great former Dolphins running back speaks of the brain-injury issues affecting Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick, a plight that inspired this column by me. The photo shown, of Zonk with Kiick, is from Csonka's article, which we reprint here fully:
"Last Tuesday, my teammate, Nick Buoniconti, went public regarding his current health challenges in an article with Sports Illustrated online. Subsequently, stories have been published on my running mate, Jim Kiick, as well. I usually see my teammates at the Dolphins alumni event each year so I was aware of some issues with both men. However, I wasn’t aware of the extensive problems both have been dealing with, especially with Nick. Learning this, of course, saddens me a great deal. I’ve seen Jim the past few years at games. In fact, I was at a game last fall with both Jim and Mercury [Morris] and had a great visit. I always ask how his health is and how he’s doing with the rest of his life. We might discuss typical health issues a lot of us experience at our age but he always assures me that he’s, basically, doing fine in all aspects. When Jim and Mercury Morris joined me in Alaska a few years ago to tape an episode for NFL Films, "A Football Life," I noticed Jim was grumpier than usual and worrying more about small details. That wasn’t like the Jim Kiick I knew and played along side of. When I asked him about it, he joked and said he liked being a grumpy old man! As the media has written, Jim is in an assisted living facility in South Florida. I’m glad he’s there. He needs part-time care. However, he’s not as bad off, at this point, as the media has depicted. At times he requires more attention than others but I know he and Mercury visit, go out for subs and hang out fairly often without any issues. Jim can still function in that capacity and enjoy life with his friends. What the future holds? We don’t know. Jim has been diagnosed with dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s and suspected CTE. After a multitude of testing, Nick’s exact diagnosis is still ongoing. Each are dealing with different challenges. Football was a much more dangerous sport when we played than it is today. Unfortunately, many of us from that era are now paying the price. I’ve been lucky so far and count my blessings daily. However, I realize I have some of the same risk factors as others who played on the gridiron. I continue to exercise, eat right and take supplements for good brain health. I have several aches and pains but I, basically, feel good and try to maintain a positive outlook on my future. I believe football is a safer game now. On one hand, I don’t like how new rules have changed the game I knew and played but if the changes truly make the game safer, then it’s worth it! I’ve always maintained (and sometimes with great controversy) kids shouldn’t play tackle football until junior high for a few reasons. In many cases, they are not well coached and, more importantly, not properly equipped. A child running around on a Pop Warner field with a sloppy helmet isn’t cute to me … it’s an outrage! Also, recent research points to young brains being at the highest risk of lasting effects from trauma. Young, developing brains cannot withstand that kind of hit without some repercussions sometime in their life (according to research I’ve read). Jim and Nick are great friends of mine. Even though we only occasionally see each other, I think of them and my other teammates often. We shared a unique bond for an extraordinary period of time in our lives and still share in the historic success of our team. I hope better times come for both of them and I look forward to another visit this fall."
WHAT IS THE NBA FINALS MATCHUP YOU'RE MOST HOPING TO SEE?: San Antonio and Golden State are one game into their NBA Western finals, with the Warriors up 1-0 after what was (depending on your view) either than epic comeback by the Warriors or an epic choke by the Spurs. Now, we get a Boston-Cleveland Eastern finals after the Celtics Game 7 home win over Washington last night. That presents four possible combinations of NBA Finals we might see. I prefer a Warriors-Cavaliers rematch (click LeBron And Steph To the Rescue for my column why). You may or may not agree. Take a dip in our poll and say which NBA Finals you prefer to see:
FOX-TV NFL CREW DRESSES UP AS HIP-HOP POSSE FOR NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER: Yes, that's right, LeBron. I said posse. Sue me. The network's Charissa Thompson tweeted this out for some damned reason. Is it Halloween already? It continues a trend of younger-demographic-seeking sports entities pandering to hip-hip fans. We have seen it with Stephen A. SMith in promos on ESPN and with others. Ordinarily the prize for most-ridiculous in a pandering Fox photo shoot such as this would by default go to Terry Bradshaw -- every time. But I must give the dubious 'honor' here to Jimmy Johnson, our own esteemed former Canes and Dolphins coach. At far right you see the group photo. To the left I have isolated the shot of Jimmy looking like a Harry Caray impersonator auditioning for an old white Run DMC cover act.
HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 5-18-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:
1. Marlins at L.A. Dodgers, 10 p.m.: The 1-8 homestand sucked. Maybe 6-game roadie will bring luck.
2. Virginia Tech at Hurricanes, noon: UM baseball 3-game set ends regular season, precedes ACC tourney.
3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Nashville up 2-1 and home vs. Anaheim in Game 4 of Western finals.
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is SATURDAY, May 13. Condolences to Fort Lauderdale's Ray Hudson, the Strikers icon turned great soccer announcer, on the passing of his father, Wilfred, at age 98. 2) Our latest Back In My Day video from the LeBatard Show is entitled 'Bumper Stickers.' Watch it HERE. 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-expectations poll, Kathy Berman, your LaVar Ball/$495 sneaker verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.
David Beckham: Aspiring soccer-team owner, professional actor: Becks has his first speaking role in the new King Arthur movie. Story here.
THE INCREDIBLE (OR PERHAPS RIDICULOUS) TRUE TALE OF THE MARLINS' BOOBS FLASHER: It was meant to distract the opposing pitcher. That didn’t work. Had it been meant to distract South Florida from the fact the Miami Marlins had lost 11 of the past 14 games entering tonight’s, well, then that worked a little bit better. Fans have been talking less about the team and its woes than about a certain young blond woman behind home plate since an episode during Wednesday night’s home game vs. St. Louis splashed all over the Internet. Hey, when it gets on Inside Edition, it is certifiably news. Or ... something. It was the bottom of the sixth inning when Korina Evaniuk, 22, pulled down and open the V-neck of her Marlins shirt to reveal much of her cleavage. Korina is shown, at left, in action, from a screen grab, and at right in her Twitter avatar. Alas, the attempted distraction did not prevent Cardinals pitcher Brett Cecil from striking out Christian Yelich in a 7-5 Marlins loss. "I was just having fun," Evaniuk told NBC6. "That’s just me. It’s my personality. We were drinking, watching the game and, I don’t know, we wanted to have a distraction. We wanted to try and win! I’m bringing attention to baseball I guess!" Evaniuk reportedly is (or was) a Marlins "Mermaid," one of the team’s in-game cheerleaders. She’d been a second-row guest of "Marlins Man," the local attorney-turned-cult oddity in his ubiquitous orange jersey. The boobs-flash was not shown live in South Florida because the cameras of the local Marlins broadcast were elsewhere at that moment. But the episode was shown on the St. Louis feed, and commented on at length by Cardinals announcers. Marlins officials officially condemned the action, but, if any publicity is good publicity, and if it takes the mind off a losing team, how bad can it be, really?
THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS I: SHARP DICHOTOMY ON HOW GOOD '17 TEAM WILL BE:The Day Of the Dolphin was a 1973 thriller movie starring George C. Scott. The Day of the Dolphins, in our blog, is the two-parter presented here. Part I: Coach Adam Gase and the people running the Fins think their 10-6 playoff team has improved. They are convinced of it. Las Vegas strongly disagrees, setting a wins over/under of only 7 1/2. Who's right? I explore in today's latest column, and identify eight issues/questions -- eight big "ifs" -- that will provide the answer and steer the season to continued credibility or to the regression Vegas foresees. Click on The Dolphins' Eight Ifs to read in full. Meanwhile, I invited you in a recent blog poll to say how good you thought the team would be based on regular-season wins. Your verdict: 10 wins--33.7 percent; 9 wins--31.5%; 8 wins--18.3%; 11 or more wins--10.4%; 6 or fewer wins--3.6%; and 7 wins--2.5%. Your combined average of all votes: 9.20 wins, a maybe-playoff number closer to last year's total than to Vegas' disrespecting projection.
THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS II: THE SAD TALE OF NICK BUONICONTI, JIM KIICK: Part II: Absolutely stellar work by Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price, our old friend and former colleague Scott, on this week's two stories on the brain-injury related plight of two 1970s-era Dolphins icons. These are long reads worth every moment of your time. Click on Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick to read, but be warned. The tales will make you sad, especially if you are of an age where these two meant something to you pre-Marino, when Shula was King. (Buoniconti is pictured right, today, at 76. Kiick is 70). Within the story you'll find a video that depicts Buoniconti taking more than a minute to try to remember and figure out how to pul a T-shirt over his head. Heart-wrenching. I remember, attending the club's 50th anniversary banquet two seasons ago, seeing all of those gnarled, disfigured claw-hands and those terribly limping knees. Football players tend not to age well. The deteriorating mind, though, the effects of CTE -- those things are not as obvious. Until they are. Situations like Buoniconti's and Kiick's could have been spotlighted in any NFL city. It's unfortunate for the Dolphins the stories chose Miami, but the stories are important to tell. It's also notable and no coincidence that Buoniconti, a middle linebacker, and Kiick, a running back, played the two positions that tackle most and get tackled most. Like the government was with the dangers of cigarettes, the NFL is a few generations late in finally acknowledging the debilitating, long-lasting dangers of brain-injuries in the sport. That Buoniconti and Kiick are the latest faces of the problem is sad, but serves a so-important cause.
ASPIRING MIAMI SOCCER OWNER DAVID BECKHAM MAKES ACTING DEBUT: Beckham, 42, still trying to realize a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami, has a small part in King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword, which hits movie theaters on Friday. His appearance lasts only two minutes but is a speaking role, as Trigger, a smart-mouthed soldier to the king. Fans may not recognize the British heartthrob, as he is hardened for the role with yellowed fake teeth and prosthetic facial scars. Pictured: Beckham as heartthrob, and made-up as Trigger. "My role is pretty small in that I have one or two lines," he says in a video on his Instagram account. This is Beckham's first speaking role in a full-length feature film, although he did have a brief, wordless cameo in the 2015 film, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Both movies were directed by Guy Ritchie, one of Beckham's best friends). The subject of the new film, King Arthur, was a British leader in the late 5th and early 6th Centuries. Hey, wasn't that about when Beckham first announced his bid to own an MLS expansion team in Miami? Beginning to seem like that. It actually was February 2014 when Beckham announced his plans. Three years and three months later, he and investors appear ready to complete the purchase of the three acres needed to complete his stadium site in Miami's Overtown area. The deal would require county-commission approval.
HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 5-13-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:
1. Atlanta at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Fish, losers of 12 of past 15, continue 9-game homestand.
2. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: Ottawa at Pittsburgh in Game 1 of Eastern finals.
3. Hurricanes at Virginia, 1 p.m.: UM baseball doubleheader after Friday rainout.
4. WNBA opener, 5 p.m.: Seattle at defending champ Los Angeles tips off season.
5. UFC 211, 10 p.m.: Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos headlines in Dallas.