August 23, 2014

UM names Kaaya QB; plus Dolphins 25, Dallas 20 as Moreno leads big ground attack; also Marino's token title, Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 25. NBC reported late last night that the Dolphin shave hired Dan Marino as a "special adviser." Hmm. Token title. Let's see if he has any real, meaningful involvement. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pete Rose reinstatement poll, Giancarlo Stanton verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

DSM reminder: The Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls will be back for another season starting when the games start to count. Look for the first DSM poll on Sept. 7.

My game column, return of Random Evidence: Click on Running Start for my column off last night's Dolphins exhibition win. A lot didn't go right, but what did was the ground game and Knowshon Moreno in his preseason debut. Click on Random Evidence for the return from summer hiatus of our Sunday notes-column package.

1aa1abradkCANES NAME KAAYA STARTING QB: True freshman Brad Kaaya (pictured) has won the Hurricanes' starting quarterback job over fifth-year transfer Jake Heaps, UM announced today. The season opens Sept. 1 at Louisville. Kaaya obviously must perform well to keep it, with Heaps an experienced backup,senior Ryan Williams due back from an injury sometime around early-to-midseason, and redshirt-freshman Kevin Olsen also in the muddled mix.     

PS3: DOLPHINS 25, DALLAS 20: FINAL: Matt Moore led all three touchdown drives subbing for a less-than-impressive Ryan Tannehill, but the story for Miami last night was the arrival of the ground game led by the debut of Knowshon Moreno. The Fins rushed for an even 200 yards on the ground and Moreno's 64 on 10 carries led the way. I don't care how bad the Dallas defense is or that it's only August. That's impressive. ..... THIRD: Ex-Cane LaRon Byrd's 27-yard TD catch gave Dallas the lead back after Miami had taken it on a drive led by a 54-yard completion by backup Matt Moore. ..... HALF: Well, 173 yards of offense is a decently productive first half. Three points is not. Miami defense looking good and so is running game (17-93), led by Moreno (10-64), but too many drives stalling. ..... FIRST: A ground game! MIA 67 yards rushgin on 10 carries in 1Q. Knowshon Moreno (5-40) looking strong in his preseason debut. ..... Original post: Tonight's is the most interesting game of the Dolphins' preseason for a few reasons. 1aa1adalmiaIt's the first home game. The Cowboys are still a sexy opponent even if they are many years past their America's Team buzz. And, mostly, the third exhibition game traditionally is when we see the most of the first-team units, the actual team in an actual dress rehearsal, before the regular-season opener. Starters figure to play at least a half, and the staff spent time game-planning for Dallas specifically, so tonight should be the best gauge yet of what we'll be getting in the 2014 Dolphins. In turn we should see our clearest indication yet of what the new offense holds in store. Dallas' defense is expected to be quite bad this season, so if the offensive line, the running game or any other facet of Miami's O struggles tonight, that may be a particularly ominous sign. Knowshon Moreno will have a chance to establish himself and begin to prove whether he merits more carries than Lamar Miller.

TANNEHILL, MILLER ON 'BREAKOUT LIST: listed its Top 50 NFL breakout players, guys expected to make a big leap in 2014, and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill is ranked No. 2, trailing only Colts TE Dwayne Allen. One other Dolph on the list: RB Lamar Miller at No. 36.

NFL rookie odds and more: Johnny Manziel remains betting favorite to win offensive rookie of the year award at 11-2 odds despite starting season on bench. Next come Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks at 6-1, with Dolphins' Jarvis Landry tied for 15th at 28-1. Defensive rookie pick is Jadeveon Clowney at 3-1, then Khalil Mack at 13-2. Worst-record picks are Jaguars 3-1 and Raiders 7-2. Frontrunners for Super Bowl-winning division are NFC West at 11-4 and AFC West at 7-2.

Poll result: Strong support for Rose reinstatement: We asked and by nearly a 5-to-1 margin you voted for an end to Pete Rose's banishment from baseball and letting him on the Hall of Fame ballot, with 80.9 percent for reinstatement and 16.8% to keep the ban. Only 2.3% were undecided.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package returns today in print from summer hiatus (click here), but due to broad disinterest popular demand Hot Button continues as a Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Tannehill shaky, but Moreno shines: Miami beat Dallas 25-20 in last night's exhibition because Matt Moore was better than Ryan Tannehill, but the story was Knowshon Moreno's preseason debut sparking a 200-yard ground attack. The Fins running game. It's aliiiiive!   

2. UM football: Still no QB call as opener looms: At Saturday's annual Canesfest event, UM fans were treated to everything but a starting quarterback. With opener at Louisville a week from Monday, it still could be Jake Heaps or Brad Kaaya. Not a good sign if Al Golden asks you to borrow a coin.

3. Marlins: Stanton MVP shot is alive: Extra-innings loss in Colorado last night got nine-game road trip off to a Rockie start. Playoff hopes are on the far periphery, but the longer they stay alive, the likelier Giancarlo Stanton is to maybe win NL MVP.

4. Tennis: U.S. Open begins: Year's final tennis major starts with Serena Williams seeking her third straight title but an injury keeping Rafael Nadal from defending. "Thank you, Rafa. Get well slowly," said Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

5. Youth Baseball: LLWS championship day: Illinois vs. South Korea in today's Little League World Series title game, and I'll be rooting unabashedly for the all-black team from Chicago. OK nobody else will say it so I will: It's Soul vs. Seoul!

6. Dan Marino: Hired by Dolphins, sort of: Club's all-time great is now a "special advisor" to owner Stephen Ross. Apparently they wanted to give Marino a title that had a token feel and conveyed the idea that he'd be doing a lot of nothing but would be available for a phone consult once in a while.

7. Pete Rose: 25 years since banishment: It's been a quarter-century since Pete Rose 's lifetime ban from baseball for gambling. Not sure he's learned his lesson, though. I hear he's betting on his eventual reinstatement at 4-1 odds.

8. NBA: LeBron, Cavs add Love: The Kevin Love-to-Cleveland trade became official to make it a Cavs Big 3 of LeBron James, Love and Kyrie Irving. Isn't it funny how in 2010 one team getting all the talent seemed OK to Miami but now it seems so unfair!? 

9. Tennis: It's the Miami Open: Annual men's and women's pro tournament n Key Biscayne is now called, simply, the Miami Open. Can we keep it that way, please? That event has gone by more names than a career criminal.

10. NFL: Manziel's big week: Within one week Johnny Manziel showed his middle finger to an opponent, was passed over for Browns' starting job, then got sacked by Michael Sam, who mimicked his money sign. Don't know if Johnny Football will be great, but I know he won't be boring.

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September 22, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 99.0% (record); plus Dolphins 27, Atlanta 23; Tannehill leads winning late drive as Miami remains unbeaten at 3-0!

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 243. Heat signed Larry Drew II, former UCLA point guard and son of the current Milwaukee Bucks coach. 2) Click on Random Evidence for latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whip Savannah State, CSM poll, Collball Week 4 roundup, my Philly mea culpa & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: See results of latest CSM poll in blogpost directly below this.

Click on Ryan Comes Of Age for my column off Sunday's Dolphins win. This team matters again, and Ryan Tannehill is why.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 99.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a record 99.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 27-23 victory over the visiting Atlanta Falcons putting Miami's season record at 3-0. That includes 78.2% who call themselves "very" satisfied. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% satisfaction (20.3 very, 66.2 somewhat) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% satisfaction (71.9 very, 26.9 somewhat) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% satisfaction (78.2 very, 20.8 somewhat) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

Next poll: Sept. 30 following game at New Orleans.

G3: ATLANTA @ DOLPHINS: TIME FOR MIAMI, DOLFANS TO MAKE A STAND -- Final: The Dolphins are relevant again because Ryan Tannehill has made them so. Click on Ryan Comes Of Age for my column off the game. Beating a good team when you don't play a great game is a nice sign for Miami. ..... 4Q: Jimmy Wilson interception with 26 seconds left clinches it. ... Dion Sims 1-yard TD pass from Tannehille with 38 seconds left and 27-23 Dolphins lead. ... Bryant wide right on 35-yard try with 4:46 left in regulation. Big miss. ... Bryant 33-yard FG has ATL back up 23-20 with 11:39 to play. ..... 3Q: Miami ties it 20-20 in final minute of 3rd on Tanny 18-yard strike into end zone to Brian Hartline. Was set by up special-team fumble recovery at ATL 19. Don Jones jarred ball loose with huge hit and John Denney recovered. ... Tannehill is intercepted from Atlanta 35 on ball that glances off Charles Clay's fingertips. Missed chance; drove started at 50. ... A smart red flag. Ball was trapped. And sho nuff catch is overruled. ... ... MIA within 20-13 on Sturgis 50-yard FG. Even with the make, though, wonder if Dolphs should have gone for it on 3rd-and-1 from the Falcs 32. ... ATL now up 20-10 after 2-yard TD throw from Matt Ryan to Levine Toilolo. (Levine Toilolo!) Tannehill fumbled on a sack at Miami 12 to hand-deliver the score, helped by Nolan Carroll pass interference in end zone. ..... Half: I'd say Dolphins are thrilled to be only down 13-10 at half and that ATL is oppositely concerned, considering Falcons' domination. Time of possession favors Falcs by a ridiculous 22:48 to 7:12, and Miami has allowed 15 first down. Need to get off field defensively and sustain a drive our two. ..... 2Q: Caleb Sturgis 46-yard FG on half's final play has MIA within 13-10. ... Dion Jordan big 3rd-down stop forces Falcs to settle for 20-yard FG and 13-7 lead. ... Dolphins defense is being gouged. Tanny might need to put up 30 the way this game is going. ... Not good: Cam Wake on a staionary bike instead of on the field. ... MIA within 10-7 on Daniel Thomas 5-yard scoring run. Lamar Miller 49-yard burst and gorgeous 3rd-down Tanny to Brandon Gibson completion led the way. ... Matt Bryant 52-yard FG for 10-0 lead. ..... 1Q: Miserable first quarter for Miami. Fans just about zero to cheer so far. ... Sack and punt end Miami's opening drive. Not the start you envision for your home opener. ... Wow, MIA defense just got hammered and handled on an 80-yard, 14-play, near-9-minute opening drive. Matt Ryan 7-yard shovel pass to Jason Snelling finished it for a 7-0 Falcs lead. ..... Pregame: Pressbox calamity! I must say: the elimination of the pressbox popcorn machine has my mood grayer than the sky. The sky has since cleared, but I continue to mourn the void of my comforting snack. ... Light rain falling. (I guess I didn't really need the word "falling" there, did I?). ... No surprises on inactives list, which confirms DT Paul Soliai won't play today. ..... Original post: The Dolphins have piqued curiosity with a 2-0 start forged on the road. They have become a little bit of a talking point in the national media, all of the chatter in the "are they for real?" context. Today's 48th franchise home opener 1aa1aaa3 1aa1atlmiaanswers that, either with a resounding yes or with the question (and doubts) still lingering. Beating a very good Falcons team would announce these Dolphins as real -- as playoff-caliber. Dolfans also are on stage as the club tries to reestablish a home-field advantage. Miami has been only 36-44 at home over the previous 10 seasons, hardly an advantage at all. The quarterback duel will be an interesting subtext today. Matt Ryan, of course, is the QB Miami could have drafted No. 1 overall in 2008, but took tackle Jake Long instead, with Ryan going third overall to Atlanta. Ryan Tannehill outpitching Ryan today would in some way (at least symbolically) justify that earlier decision. Both team have fought injury issues this week, including Tannehill's shoulder, but Falcons RB Steven Jackson is the only prominent starter definitely out. My pick: Dolphins, 24-20.

1aa1shula50HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, DON SHULA!: It was 50 years ago today, Sept. 22, 1963 (exactly two months before JFK was assassinated), that Don Shula achieved his first career coaching victory in what would end up as a record-setting number. His Baltimore Colts beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-14 in low-60s temps at Kezar Stadium in the season's second game, led by Johnny Unitas' 288 passing yards. Thanks to reader Fred Linger for the tip, and for the image of the game program from that day.

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July 07, 2012

Marlins' Stanton sidelined til mid-August; plus how Miami won Ray Allen from Celtics, 'The Heat Effect,' Ochocinco live-Tweets wedding & more

[1) It is Monday, July 9. Hear Bruce Springsteen perform his heart-aching Independence Day on July 4 in Paris. 2) PR Disasters I Have Known: City of Hallandale Beach fires lifeguard who left his area to save drowning swimmer. 3) Photos of Tallulah Willis topless and smoking dope are evidently being shopped around. She's the 18-year-old offspring of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. Oh you rebel daughter you! 4) Twenty-Six Words You Didn't Know Existed. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1gstantonGIANCARLO STANTON OUT OF HOME RUN DERBY, ALL-STAR GAME: Stanton (pictured) left yesterday's Marlins game with continued soreness in his knee, underwent minor surgery today and will miss Monday's Home Run Derby and Tuesday's All-Star Game. More important, he will be lost to the Marlins for an estimated month to six weeks. The surgery was called successful. (Ever notice that teams never announce unsuccessful surgeries?) Stanton's absence will be a major blow to the team's effort to make up ground in the NL playoff chase.

HEAT LANDS FREE-AGENT RAY ALLEN: Ray Allen chose Miami yesterday over re-signing with Boston for nearly double the money, and the Heat is convinced the deciding factor was Miami's successful hard sell 1aa1allenheaton the concept of "family" with this club. That's why he accepted $6.3 million over two years here, when the Celtics were dangling $12 million. The family factor latter is not to be underestimated, as Allen's fractured relationship with Rajon Rondo is one reason he left Beantown. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra headed the local wooing party, and the three were later met by other Heat officials over dinner at downtown's pricey Il Gabbiano, where you cannot go wrong with the Costoletta alla Valdostana (chop stuffed with pate' foie gras, prosciutto and sauteed wild mushrooms) for $45.75. Stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade already had reached out to Allen, more of the welcoming family strategy that Miami thought gave it an edge. Wade on Wednesday Tweeted, 2Morrow is a big day for #HeatNation. James reTweeted that, adding, Absolutely!! #HeatNation Stand Up. James had earlier Tweeted, I hope so, in response to his son asking him if Allen would join the Heat, and also previously Tweeted a photo of Allen in a Heat uniform. Allen was Miami's main free-agent target. He'll be the top guard off the bench and a perimeter shooter from 3'sville. Riley is one of the NBA's great closers and proved it again. Appropriately, club owner Micky Arison announced Allen's decision by Tweeting, 'Welcome to the family, No. 20.' (He Tweeted from London, where he is attending Wimbledon's finals. It's good to be a billionaire!) Meanwhile Rashard Lewis and Marcus Camby are visiting the Heat this weekend and one (more likely Lewis) could still be signed.

'The Heat Effect': The success and popularity of the Heat has spurred the Dolphins and Marlins to a greater sense of urgency and to be bolder to grow their place in a sports market now dominated by the NBA team. I cite examples and explore in my latest column. Click on The Heat Effect.

MY WORLD: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NEWSPAPER AND BLOG: I write a Sunday notes column called Random Evidence of a Cluttered Mind, from which the name of this blog derives. Both that column and this blog aim to occasionally push envelopes with stuff a bit risque by mainstream-media standards. But I am reminded every week that certain stuff that's OK for this blog can't get in the newspaper. Here are two examples of punchlines I have tried and failed to get into my Sunday notes column: 1) Dennis Rodman says he wants to coach a topless women's basketball team at a New York City gentleman's club. Players need not be adept at dribbling, but bouncing is a plus. And 2) The University of North Dakota finally has agreed to drop its politically incorrect Fighting Sioux nickname deemed an offensive stereotype by Native Americans. The new nickname: Hard-Drinking Navajos.

1aa1chadwedOCHOCINCO LIVE-TWEETS WEDDING: (Or did that go without saying?) Dolphins receiver Chad Ochocinco -- four words that still seem strange together -- live-Tweeted from his July 4 wedding to reality-TV quasi-celeb Evelyn Lozada. They were wed in St. Martin in the Caribbean. Click here for the People account. Cameras were rolling (naturally) to document the nuptials for their upcoming VH1 reality serioes, Ev & Ocho. "I don't recall sending the butterflies in my stomach an invite," he Tweeted moments before the exchange of vows. (Wouldn't it have been great if Evelyn had then Tweeted, "Get off the damned cellphone!") Postscript: Also Wednesday, Ochocinco, displaying uncommon sanity, officially reverted to Chad Johnson again. Pictured: The happy and excessively publicized couple.

MARLINS MAKE STATEMENT WITH CARLOS LEE: [Update: Nice debut yesterday. Lee plays first, bats third, has double, single and run scored in 4-0 win] I like this. Feel badly for Gaby Sanchez, but feel good 1aa1cleethat the Marlins are buyers, not sellers as the trade deadline approaches. Means they haven't given up on this season, on now. Carlos Lee is past his prime, on the heavy side and relatively mediocre defensively at first base but remains a solid run producer and a clear upgrade over Sanchez and his season-long struggles. Lee's 975 RBIs since 2003 are the sixth-most among active players in that span, including 94 for Houston last season. That saddle-him-up-and-ride production is partly why he is nicknamed El Caballo, or "The Horse." Trading two prospects for Lee is another now-not-someday statement, and that's good, too.

Poll result: Romney edges Obama: Our blog poll was as close as I'd imagined. You can still vote (in the post just below this new one), but I finished counting chads and must declare Mitt Romney a narrow victor over Barack Obama, 51.2 percent to 48.8. Votes came in from 38 countries and 25 states. Just under half of all votes came from Florida, where Romney won with 52.8%. We'll have another, final presidential poll here just before Election Day. Poll analysis: Obama consistently led by a few percent until fairly late in the voting. Hmm. Makes me suspect organized Republican involvement to spread the word and swing the result. It's all good, though. Let freedom reign!

WHAT DOES THE FOURTH OF JULY MEAN?: I think to too many of us it's just a bonus day off, an 1aa1fireworks 1aa1amerexcuse to overeat, consume mass quantities of alcohol -- like Americans need an excuse for that -- and blow up fireworks. A party, in other words. But patriotism lives somewhere in there. Wife and I spent a few midday hours on Fort Lauderdale Beach yesterday and I was inspired by all the red, white and blue attire. (My favorite T-shirt bore the rather aggressive sentiment: America: Back to Back World War Champions!) Also sat and listened to a quaint band of mostly older folks in the shade of a tent playing patriotic tunes, and was impressed by the number of revelers who stopped to listen, even sing along, then warmly applaud. The moral of the story: One can be drunk and a patriot at the same time. After all, what's more American than multi-tasking!?

WORLD'S WORST MOTHER: Here is my candidate until a worse one comes along.

1aa1appleDEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of an apple that had been transmogrified into a world map. Thank you." Dear Reader: Don't be ridiculous!

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