February 16, 2017

Trump keeps messing with Miami, but when he threatens to screw up Loria selling Marlins, he's gone TOO FAR!; plus Branden Albert, Shane Battier, 3 Dolphins honored, Fish farm barren, 'The Ballad of 1440,' your Villain Purge verdict & more

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

Mepic1) It is FRIDAY, February 17. We're about to put out a new song, "The Ballad of 1440" (pictured right), an autobiographical tale of a little boy in Hollywood, Florida who grew up to have an unexpected life. Click on image to see larger version. Will post a video of song on social media later this month. Stay tuned. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Villain purge: Loria-LeBron poll, Marlins World Series odds as spring training begins & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Branden Albert, Shane Battier: Weird: Media inaccurately reported Dolphins had waived veteran tackle Branden Albert. Or was it inaccurate? Evidently team decided to release Albert then changed its mind and will try to trade him. In any case, Laremy Tunsil will take over at left tackle. Congrats: Heat hire poplar ex-player Shane Battier as director of basketball development and analytics, and there is speculation he may be groomed as Pat Riley's eventual replacement.

HEY TRUMP, KEEP YOUR FINGERS OFF MIAMI SPORTS!: First Donald Trump's ownership of the golf course caused the controversy that was among the factors that imperiled the future of annual PGA Tour event at Doral. Then as president, Trump messed with the Florida Panthers' hierarchy by nominating Cats owner Vincent Viola to be Secretary of the Army. (Who knew there was a Secretary of the Army!?) Viola accepted, then later withdrew from consideration, citing business ties. Now, the Trump Administration reportedly is considering nominating Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to be U.S. Ambassador to France. Huh? Whu!? Is the qualification because Jeff once owned the Montreal Expos, and they speak a lot of French up there? Or maybe because The Donald can picture him wearing a beret? Or is it that Ambassador to France is the standard perk that comes with a $125,000 campaign contribution? In Franceany case, this is just Trump Loriabizarre. Think about it. The Kushner family -- which is directly tied to the White House because son Jared Kushner is Ivanka Trump's husband and thus the president's son-in-law -- is negotiating with Loria to buy the Marlins for a reported $1.6 billion. But now the family says it will cease efforts to buy the club if Loria is nominated for the ambassadorship. "Our family has been friends with Jeff Loria for over 30 years, been in business together, and even owned a AAA baseball team together," Joseph Meyer, Kushner's son-in-law, said in a statement. "Although the Kushners have made substantial progress in discussions for us to purchase the Marlins, recent reports suggest that Mr. Loria will soon be nominated by the President to be Ambassador to France. If that is true, we do not want this unrelated transaction to complicate that process and will not pursue it. The Kushners remain interested in purchasing a team and would love to buy the Marlins at another time." Whoa now. Let us get this straight. A family with direct ties to Trump wants to buy the Marlins. But Trump possibly throwing this goofy little gift at Loria could screw up the whole deal. So strange. Does all of South Florida want Loria to sell the Marlins ASAP? Oui, oui! Hopefully this Ambassador to France story is short-lived, because it is ridiculous. I mean, are we to believe Loria is going to walk away from a potential $1.6 billion windfall because he'd rather be dealing with terrorism concerns in Paris? C'mon! Jeffrey, please put out the inevitable statement that says how flattered you are to be considered for the position yada yada yada but no thanks. Then get back to selling the Marlins so Trump can set up that direct hotline to Don Mattingly in the dugout to make executive orders on pitching changes.

Pff101THREE DOLPHINS, OTHER NOTABLE NAMES ON PFF'S LIST OF TOP 101 PLAYERS OF 2016: Pro Football Focus' Top 101 players of 2016 (because a Top 100 would be too ordinary) includes a trio of Dolphins in RB Jay Ajayi 31st, pass-rusher Cam Wake 45th and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh 52nd. In the AFC East only the Patriots (of course) have more -- five guys led by overall No. 1 Tom Brady. Bills and Jets have one each. Buffalo's guy is bully-guard Richie Incognito (98th), one of three ex-Dolphins to make it along with Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes (43rd) and Giants rusher Olivier Vernon (71st). Vernon is one of four ex-Hurricanes on the list along with Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (24th), Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (58th) and Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (92nd). Other notables: Chargers rusher and St. Thomas Aquinas alum Joey Bosa (32nd) and Colts receiver and ex-FIU Panther T.Y. Hilton (54th).

BraxtongarrettTHE FISH FARM IS BARREN: Trading away top prospects has withered the Miami Marlins' minor-league talent level -- the farm gone barren -- and the latest proof comes today with Baseball America's list of 2017 Top 100 Prospects. Check out the NL East. The Braves have eight on the list, ranked 3rd, 11th, 37th, 48th, 66th, 67th, 77th and 78th. The Phillies have four, ranked 12th, 17th, 41st and 80th. The Mets have three, ranked 8th, 71st and 100th. The Nationals have two, ranked 13th and 52nd. The Marlins? Only one. Lefty pitcher Braxton Garrett (pictured) is ranked 76th and not projected for MLB arrival until 2020. The home farm has empty rows and dry crops. Not good, Fish fans. Not good. 

Poll result: Villain purge: Loria selling tops beating LeBron: We asked which of these 2017 possibilities should please Miami sports fans more, and it was Jeffrey Loria finally selling the Marlins with 61.9 percent and LeBron James ousted from playoffs by Heat at 38.1%.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 2-17-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins spring training, 1:15 p.m.: Full squad is on field for first time this spring up in Jupiter.

2. Panthers at Anaheim, 10 p.m.: Cats have won two straight as they chase that No. 8 East seed.

3. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show continues at Miami Marine Stadium.

4. That about does it. Another light day.

Select recent columns: Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View, the latest, on how Heat's recent run has Miami poised to be buyers at trade deadline as possibility of first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James looms. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

 

February 08, 2017

Have we just seen greatest 12-month period in American team-sports history? Name most impressive title. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus UM's Njoku to Dolphins?, Patriots' hero through local family's eyes, Heat go for 12th straight, new BIMD & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, February 8. Pats won Super Bowl 34-28; I predicted they'd win 31-23. Not bad. 2) A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Shula vs. Belichick, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

You can hate Patriots, but you cannot deny them: Hate Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Even call them cheaters. But do not deny their place in history. Even Miami and Dolfans must appreciate the historic greatness in their own division. That's my new column. Click Give the Devils Their Due to read.

"I can't decide which is more astounding. The Patriots overcoming a 25-point deficit to win the Super Bowl. Or a once 11-30 Heat team going for its 12th straight win tonight. The wonder of sports!" --Greg Cote

Back In My Day: Click on The Death Of Suspense for my latest BIMD video from Tuesday's LeBatard Show

Best2016HAS THIS BEEN THE GREATEST 12-MONTH PERIOD EVER IN AMERICAN SPORTS?: Just posing the question has its pitfalls. I try to avoid hyperbole, and also the prevalent sense that whatever is happening now is (of course) greater than whatever used to be. But, in this case, let this poll remind you how many historic or dramatic championships we've seen the past 12 months. The NHL's Stanley Cup Finals wasn't particularly special, but I'd testify all of our poll finalists were in one way or another. I invite you to vote for your top TWO of the six, and from there we'll anoint the No. 1 major sports championship of the past 12 months. The finalists are listed chronologically. Your challenge? Step back and see this from a neutral, national perspective, ignoring as best you can whether the result was what you preferred. Ready? Take a dip in our poll and vote now!

Remember: Vote for your top two (2)!

CANES' NJOKU STAYING IN MIAMI WITH DOLPHINS?: That's what ESPN's Todd McShay predicts in his new NFL Mock Draft 2.0 out today. He has UM tight end David Njoku (pictured) being Dnjokudrafted by the Dolphins 22nd overall, and writes, "Njoku comes with loads of upside, thanks to rare athleticism for the position and big-play ability, including 16.2 yards per reception. There's not much of a gap between Njoku and Alabama's O.J. Howard for the No. 1 TE ranking. Both Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims are set to be free agents for the Dolphins, so the fit would make sense for Njoku to stay in Miami." My take? Not a crazy idea. Although I think defense would be a better spend for a No. 1 Fins pick, team does need a dynamic, offensive tight end. Other McShay first-round projections from in-state: Gators CB Teez Tabor 14th, Seminoles RB Dalvin Cook 15th, Gators LB Jarrad Davis 24th and Gators CB Quincy Wilson 31st. Still no Brad Kaaya in the first round. (You shoulda stayed, kid).

PATRIOTS' HERO THROUGH A FORT LAUDERDALE FAMILY'S EYES: The New England Patriots' record-setting comeback to win Super Bowl 51 in overtime, when deconstructed, could be seen as Jameswhitea family in Fort Lauderdale living a dream. Tyrone and Lisa Smith were in Houston watching as their son James, the Pats running back, caught 14 passes for 110 yards, scored a crucial two-point conversion and scored three touchdowns -- including the dramatic game-winner in OT. Smith could very easily have been named Super Bowl MVP instead of Tom Brady. Disney thought he was the MVP, so James and his parents did the "I'm going to Disney World" thing on Monday in Orlando (as pictured), the family starring in a parade and treated like kings. James was born in Plantation, South-Florida raised and played at St. Thomas Aquinas High -- local all the way. After the Disney fete James headed north for Tuesday's victory parade in Boston, and Tyrone and Lisa headed south, back to their lives in Fort Lauderdale. "It's been a surreal feeling," father Tyrone told me. "You just don't go into a game expecting that. You hope the team does well and he does a part to contribute. But you don't expect what happened. I had to come back and turn the TV on about 4 o'clock [a.m.] to kind of see again for myself. It was one for the ages. It's a blessing you can't describe." James is remembered as a great kid at St. Thomas. "Never missed a practice," recalled former Aquinas offensive coordinator Bryan Baucom. "A class act." His dad Tyrone is a Miami-Dade police captain. His mom also in in law enforcement, with the state parole department. "This comes around once every blue moon," said the father of what has happened to the family. I asked him how he felt. I could almost see his smile over the phone. "Exhausted!" he said.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-8-17: What events on the Wednesday sports calendar should interest South Florida fans most:

1. Heat at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.: Surging Miami goes for 12th straight victory.

2. Virginia Tech at Hurricanes, 9 p.m.: UM men host big ACC game.

3. Pro beach volleyball, 10:30 a.m.: FIVB Fort Lauderdale Major men's/women's pool matches all day.

4. North Carolina State at Florida State, 7 p.m.: Seminoles men are ranked No. 14.

5. Chicago at Golden State, 10: 30 p.m.: Dwyane Wade at NBA's best team, that's why.

Select recent columns: Give the Devils Their Due, the latest, on Belichick and Brady. Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue, previewing the Super Bowl. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 06, 2017

Pats' monstrous Super Bowl rally tops updated Hot Button Top 10, also starring surging Heat, Jason Taylor, Canes; plus, debate "greatest," but not "winningest." Belichick will never surpass Shula for most career victories & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, February 6. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Taylor gets into Canton, predicting football Hall of Fame class, week's final Super Bowl With a Smirk & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

A Super Bowl to save a season: This has been a bad season for the NFL in general, but Falcons vs. Patriots in Super Bowl 51 is matchup capable of being spectacular and saving the season. Click on Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue to read my Sunday column previewing the game.

Patriots 31, Falcons 23: Click on Super Bowl Gem for my full prediction capsule on today's Super Bowl. (I got the score pretty close, If I do say so).

'GREATEST COACH' DEBATE MAY BE LOSING CAUSE, BUT SHULA HAS TWO DISTINCTIONS THAT REMAIN HIS ALONE: "Bill Belichick closing in on Don Shula!" somehow became a Donbillmanufactured subplot to this Super Bowl from a Miami perspective. I get it. It's easy. But it's also a false narrative, for two reasons. 1) "Greatest coach ever," alas, is a train that may have already left the station for Shula. The Dolphins' icon was 2-4 in Super Bowls. Belichick just won his fifth. I don't know that there are a lot of NFL scholars and historians who would not already give the greatest-ever nod to New England's guy. But! 2) The two great distinctions that will always keep Shula's name in the greatest-ever argument -- most career victories and only Perfect Season -- seem safely his. I laugh at the suggestion Belichick is a real threat to Shula's career mark of 347 overall victories. He would have to win at his current pace and still be coaching at age 72 to have a shot, and maintaining that current pace will be tougher indeed when Tom Brady (finally) retires presumably after one or two more years. The likelihood of Belichick winning and coaching long enough to surpass 347 wins seems roughly as likely as the odds another team will equal Miami's 1972 Perfect Season. Could happen, but wouldn't bet on it. History might already see Belichick as "greater," but the distinctions of "winningest" and perfection are safely with Shula.

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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: Monstrous rally grows Patriots dynasty: Awful game much of the way, but Patriots made a thriller of Super Bowl 51, rallying from 21-0 and 28-3 holes to win in overtime, 34-28. Massive choke by the Falcons? Maybe. But Tom Brady had a little to do with that, no?

2. HEAT: Surging Miami seeks 11th straight tonight: Heat crushed visiting Philadelphia 125-102 Saturday night behind Hassan Whiteside's 30 points and 20 rebounds to win a 10th straight and now begins a four-game road trip tonight at Minnesota. Might disappoint lottery-minded fans, but eighth seed and playoffs are no longer out of reach for the way-hot Heat.

3. HURRICANES: UM football claims signing-day bounty: Miami loaded up on National Signing Day with a 24-man bounty that ESPN ranked as the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation. "We nailed it!" said Mark Richt … then again, so did every other college coach in America on signing day.

4. HALL OF FAME: Dolphins' Taylor among new inductees: LaDainian Tomlinson was a lock. Nobody else was. But ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor was among the seven who got in, along with Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Jerry Jones, Kenny Easley and Morten Andersen. Congrats, J.T. Now what about Zach Thomas.

5. PANTHERS: Barkov, Huberdeau back on the ice: Florida has reinforcements as it chases a playoff spot as young stars Sasha Barkov (out previous 15 games) and Jonathan Huberdeau (out all out season) returned from injuries Friday to spark Cat's third straight win. That's two fewer excuses for Cats to miss the playoffs.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women outshining men: UM men were only 3-5 since Jan. 1 before winning Friday, but Canes women are 17-5 and ranked 16th entering Monday game at No. 6 Florida State. Coach Katie Meier got her 300th career win. Adding a few more in March would be nice.

7. SOCCER: U.S. men beat Jamaica in friendly: After a scoreless draw vs. Serbia in Bruce Arena's debut as coach, the U.S. men beat Jamaica 1-0 Saturday night in Chattanooga. Now, it's what's next on the team's calendar that matters and will judge Arena: World Cup qualifying.

8. GOLF: Comeback short-lived, Tiger out again: He's out a year and a half with various back ailments, he comes back, and he can't finish the tournament, withdrawing with back spasms. Hate to say, but it may be time for Tiger Woods to call it quits.

9. BARKLEY-LEBRON: Basketball beef gets personal: Broadcaster Charles Barkley called LeBron James "whiny." LeBron shot back with a litany of bad stuff Chuck has done in the past. C'mon, kids. Play nice!

10. BASEBALL: It's just about here, folks: Miami Marlins hold their annual stadium FanFest next Saturday and Sunday, the precursor to when players negin to report for spring training. Ready or not, almost time to play ball!

Missing the HB10 cut: The 2017 FIVB world beach volleyball tours opens with the Fort Lauderdale Major beginning Tuesday, a five-star men's and women's event featuring Kerry Walsh Jennings and a bunch of people I've never heard of ..... Falcons QB Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP Saturday night. Correctly had a feeling Tom Brady would be lifting the more coveted hardware Sunday ..... Five days until Kevin Durant makes his first return to Oklahoma City. Thunder fans already are practicing their booing in preparation ..... The Winter X Games have been going on. The question is, WHY!?

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-6-17: What events on the Monday, Feb. 6 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Heat at Minnesota, 8 p.m.: Good shot at 11th straight win tonight at Timberwolves.

2. Hurricanes at Florida State, 7 p.m.: No. 16 UM women visit No. 6 Seminoles.

3. Um, pretty much nothing. Light post-Super Bowl Monday.

Select recent columns: Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue, the latest, previewing today's Super Bowl. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Show us the way, Edwin Pope, Falcons-Patriots SB, Women's March, Juan Pablo Montoya & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 23. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page, debuting today. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Remembering Edwin Pope, NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside battered in all-star voting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl!: Click on Championship Game Gems for yesterday's Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots NFC and AFC title-game picks, and on A Dramatic Final Four for my preview column.

Montoya wins historic Miami Race Of Champions: Historic? The 28th annual ROC had never before been held in the U.S. before Saturday's race in Miami, on a racetrack built inside Marlins Park. And Miami driver Juan Pablo Montoya won. Crazy, one-of-a kind day. Click on Home Run For Montoya, Miami for my column from the race.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. EDWIN POPE: Herald sports icon dies at 88: If you are from South Florida, are aware life existed before ESPN SportsCenter or have ever held a newspaper in your hands, then you probably said or thought last week, “I grew up reading Edwin Pope.” Thank you, kind sir, friend, colleague and mentor. R.I.P. 

2. NFL: Championship Sunday gives us a Falcons-Pats Super Bowl: Atlanta walloped Green Bay and New England dispatched Pittsburgh on Sunday for the NFC and AFC titles to reach Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston. The blowout games were decided by 23- and 19-point margins. The challenge? For the Super Bowl to be better. You know, an actual good game?

3. WOMEN'S MARCH: Women lead world's biggest protest march. Ever: Estimates are more than 4 million women worldwide including more than 500,000 in Washington, D.C. marched Saturday to protest Donald Trump and stand up for the freedoms and rights. Hmm. Impressive. But can't help but wonder: If that same passion and numbers had participated in the election, would there have been a need to march?

4. MOTORSPORTS: Montoya wins Race of Champions at Marlins Park: Most different, unique sporting event in Miami history? You could do worse than nominating NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One stars racing against each other inside a baseball stadium this weekend in the ROC series' first U.S. appearance. Miami won twice as hometown driver Juan Pablo Montoya won Saturday's main event.

5. HEAT: Three straight wins in a lost season as trade deadline looms: Good news? Miami has its first three-game win streak of season. Bad news? Everything else. Record is still only 14-30 and streak is unlikely to reach four as Heat host Golden State tonight. Be honest. The most compelling things left in this lost season are the two dates for the trade deadline and draft lottery.

6. MARLINS: Fish acquire quality starting pitcher: The latest aftershock of the Jose Fernandez tragedy: Miami dealt three prospects to Cincinnati for righty starter Dan Straily, who was 14-8 in 31 starts for Reds last year.

7. BASEBALL: Two ex-Marlins elected to Hall of Fame: Pudge Rodriguez, of course, had a starring role in helping Marlins win the 2003 World Series. But count yourself a real Fish fan if you also recall that, the year before, Tim Raines ended his 23-year career as a reserve here.

8. TENNIS: Both No. 1 seeds out as Australian Open enters final week: No. 1 seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both were ousted the same day, the first time in the modern era the Australian Open has lost both No. 1s before the quarterfinals. An even bigger shock: Why wasn't Serena Williams No. 1?

9. PANTHERS: Three straight losses, but Florida still in playoff hunt: As NHL all-star break looms, Cats have cooled off with three straight losses but lurk only two points off playoff in Eastern Conference. Still, when you were talking Stanley Cup and are scrambling for an eighth seed -- that's a disappointing season.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Tough stretch for Canes men, women: Miami's No. 14-ranked women have lost three of past six. The men have dropped four of past five  after Saturday's loss at Duke. Better snap out of it fast, Team Larranaga. No. 9 North Carolina visits in five days.

Missing the HB10 cut: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich devoted seven minutes of a news conference Saturday to a pro-women's march, anti-Donald Trump soliloquy, pretty brave for a man who lives and works in Texas. It's enough to make me root for a Spurs championship just to see if he gets a White House invite, or goes ..... Former Marlins ace Josh Johnson retired at 32 from elbow issues, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago ..... Prior to Bellator 170, Chael Sonnen talked trash. Tito Ortiz made his statement in the fight ..... A 25-year-old dunce from Boston was arrested for pulling a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. Put him in a room alone with James Harrison for 20 minutes ..... Saw the headline, 'Beagle scores in OT as Capitals beat Stars,' and thought, "Wow, what a great story!" But it turned out to be a guy named Jay Beagle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Florida Panthers owner and Trump nominee for Secretary of the Army Vinnie Viola once was accused of punching a man in the face at a horse auction."

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 19, 2017

HERALD LEGEND EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: MY TRIBUTE COLUMN; plus Kiper's first '17 mock draft: Gator to Dolphins, no Kaaya; also, 2 Marlins (sort of) elected to Hall, Goodell is a coward, newest Back In My Day video, your verdict on Super Bowl matchup & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 19. I'm back up at Friday Page World Headquarters today figuring out my NFL Championship Game picks. Gonna nail 'em. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- best-selling of all the Herald books -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Final Four poll, related Tannehill column, Radio Tuesday & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: Longtime former Miami Herald sports editor and columnist Edwin Pope died early this evening at age 88. My column on my mentor and friend: Thank You, Edwin.

NFL's Final Four through a Dolphins prism, other select recent columns: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, our latest column, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

JdavisGATORS LB JARRAD DAVIS TO DOLPHINS, SAYS KIPER: Mel Kiper's first 2017 Mock Draft for ESPN is out and he has Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis (pictured) going to Miami 22nd overall in first round. Sayeth Mel: "As a steady and reliable linebacker with a nose for the football, Davis' versatility stands out. He could play inside or outside linebacker at the next level, though he's not a guy who will get 10 sacks on the outside in a 3-4. He can be an every-down guy." I think Kiper is right on the position; LB a big need. He has two other Gators, cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, going 13th and 14 overall. He has one Seminole, running back Dalvin Cook, going 12th. Conspicuously, Kiper has zero Hurricanes going in first round. I tried to tell you to stay, Brad Kaaya, but did you listen? No! Another early Canes departure, tight end David Njoku, is much more likely than Kaaya to sneak into the first round. Click here for Mel's Mock 1.0.

TWO FORMER MARLINS PLAYERS MAKE HALL OF FAME: Nailed it! Raines, Bagwell and Pudge make the Hall of Fame. Raines and Pudge had (very brief, one-year) Marlins careers. Original post: There is little suspense to tonight's (or future) Baseball Hall of Fame announcements, thanks to Bagwellrainesbbhoftracker.com, which collects and publishes ballots that have been publicly revealed. As of today they had collected 233, or 55.2 percent -- including mine, Pudgewhich I revealed in this blog on Dec. 16. From the composite numbers we can state with certainty that, barring a shocking, aberrant swing in remaining votes, Tim Raines (running at 89.2 percent) and Jeff Bagwell (88.3%) will sail in easily above the needed 75% minimum. Some may recall Raines ended his career a Marlin in 2002. A third inductee very likely will be Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez -- a 2003 Marlin instrumental in the World Series championship -- now at 78.7%. Raines and Bagwell are pictured right and Rodriguez left. Those three likely will be the only inductees, although two others, Trevor Hoffman (72.5%) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.7%), are close enough that a late surge in voting, though unlikely, could yet sweep them into Cooperstown. My ballot included all five of the players mentioned so far. The vote totals so far of the other five on my ballot: Edgar Martinez 65.4, Barry Bonds 63.8, Roger Clemens 62.9%, Manny Ramirez 24.2 and Gary Sheffield 11.7. The faces of the Steroid Era, Bonds and Clemens, are seeing their totals rise gradually and I predict they'll get in someday. Not as sure about Martinez. Very surprised by Ramirez's low total. And I'm almost alone on Sheffield, I guess. Sorry, Sheff. Not gonna happen for you.

THE LIST: EX-MARLINS PLAYERS IN THE HALL OF FAME: Four future Hall of Famers have worn a Marlins uniform. The short list doubled yesterday, although all four men played only a brief portion of their careers in Miami. The sort-of Marlins in Cooperstown, ranked in order of the percentage of career games played with Marlins:

Player                        Games with Marlins        With Miami    Inducted

C Pudge Rodriguez      6.23% (161 of 2,583)      2003             2017

OF Andre Dawson       4.58% (121 of 2,642)      1995-96        2010

OF Tim Raines            3.86% (98 of 2,536)        2002              2017

C Mike Piazza             0.26% (5 of 1,944)          1998              2016 

GoodellROGER GOODELL, WHAT A COWARD!: The NFL commissioner needs to rethink his weekend plans, change his flight, and get his ass over to Foxborough on Sunday. He is hiding from New England Patriots fans, who loathe him over the whole Deflategate thing. He doesn't need to sit among them. He be encased high in a suite as always. But he needs to be there and take the reaction like a man. Instead he'll be in Atlanta for the second week in a row. I have defended Goodell at times, more than most in the media. But he's wrong on this. Weak, weak!

Poll result: Bring on a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, please: With NFL down to its final four, we asked which of four possible Super Bowl matchups you'd most want to watch, and it was Packers vs. Patriots on top with 41.8 percent. After that it was Packers-Steelers 25.7%, Falcons-Steelers 19.9%, and Falcons-Patriots 12.6%. combined team totals were: Packers 67.5%, Patriots 54.4%, Steelers 45.6% and Falcons 32.4%.

THE LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': THE DEATH OF THE CIRCUS: There's a few seconds of unrelated jibberish here before the BIMD kicks in. Warning: Animal-rights folks might want to muster whatever sense of humor they have before watching this:

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 21, 2016

The 4 Dolphins who may yet join Wake, Suh in Pro Bowl; plus my 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot revaled, college football players skipping bowl games (with poll), NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 15 results & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- perfect for any Dolfan on your list and just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins rout Jets with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Panthers president joins Army & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Select recent columns: Haven't been as many lately, due to vacation time. The Gift Of Winning, the latest, on the Dolphins gifting their fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: The Handoff Nobody Wanted. Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

WakesuhON PRO BOWL DOLPHINS, SO-CALLED SNUBS AND WHO MIGHT STILL MAKE IT: Defensive end Cam Wake and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were elected to the Pro Bowl from Miami -- the only Fins so honored, both deserving, and neither a surprise. This is the real 44-man AFC and NFC PB roster. It will change. Several selected players will drop out and be replaced, but replacement guys always have that asterisk attached. They are the sort-of Pro Bowl'ers. The annual media chewing-over of so-called Pro Bowl "snubs" keeps mentioning Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (who made it last year) and running back Jay Ajayi, but the case for both is modest. Landry's 82 catches for 1,031 yards are top-five in the AFC but he has only three TD catches. Tough to claim Pro Bowl impact with three TDs. Ajayi's 1,007 yards rank sixth in the AFC, and he was the catalyst for the win streak that saved the season. Landry and Ajayi both should be among eventual replacement Pro Bowl guys. Two other possibilities as add-ons for Miami: Linebacker Kiko Alonso, of the 103 tackles and four fumble  recoveries, and cornerback Byron Maxwell, of the four forced fumbles, two picks and team-leading 15 passes defensed. Both have had productive seasons.

HERE'S MY 2016 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT: Transparency is all the rage. Eventually the Hall of Fame, the Baseball Writers Association of America and other outlets will publish Mebbwaaeveryone's ballots, but here, for the first time, you can see mine. It's due by Dec. 31; mine will be in the mail (the BBWAA still does it old-school) today. This is my third year as a proud and diligent voter who takes the honor seriously. I could vote for up to 10 former players and I took full advantage. My 10, alphabetically: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. Guerrero, Ramirez and Rodriguez were ballot "rookies," first-year eligibles, who got my vote. Raines was a bit of a sentimental nod; he's on his final try and I hope he makes it. Martinez was a close call. Sheffield probably has no shot but what the hell. Close misses for me included Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. As for my including some "steroid guys," I no longer think that taint should be a lifetime sentence when it comes to exceptional cases (such as Bonds and Clemens) whose enormous careers were hardly reliant on PEDs. But I will continue to push for Cooperstown to include on its bronze plaques the warts and all -- including the cloud of PEDs and other extenuating circumstances that affected a former player's eventual election. Which reminds me: If Pete Rose were on the ballot, I'd have voted for him. And if there was a write-in space, I'd have written his name.

COLLEGE PLAYERS (AND COACHES) SHOULD FEEL OBLIGATION TO PARTICIPATE IN BOWL GAMES: Star running backs Christian McCaffrey of Stanford and Leonard Fournette of LSU (pictured) have decided Skippersto not play in their teams' bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft -- and are being widely applauded in the media. Ths is almost certain to become an annual trend that seriously weakens the bowls and college football's postseason. There is no preparation for the draft, of course. Don't have your picture taken wearing a gas-mask bong. There. That's your preparation. By prepare, these players mean avoid the risk of injury that might cost them draft stock and money. Even though the risk of injury is very small. Even though players live with that risk all the time and don't cower from it -- except when convenient to them. Do I blame these players for skipping their bowl games? Yes. It is selfish. They are putting themselves above their team. Their college season includes their bowl game. If you are healthy, you should play. [Update: Canes coach Mark Richt agrees with me. Yesterday he said, of players skipping bowls: "I think it's sad, personally. Until the season is over, you should be with your team." Fournette and McCaffrey are skipping the Citrus and Sun bowls, respectively. But what if it was Alabama's star players following suit and jeopardizing their team's national-championship chances. Would that be different? I don't just blame players. Coaches (and assistants) who take different jobs should fulfill their bowl obligations before leaving, such as Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who already has bolted for FAU. Am I wrong? Tell me in this poll.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 15 RESULTS: ROCKY WEEK FOR PREDIX, LOBOS IN THIRD-PLACE GAME: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Tough go. Went 10-6 straight-up (not terrible) but a rough 6-9-1 against the spread, with the tie a 3-pooinjt push by Oakland. We're still a very strong 30 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos went to 11-4 by beating Roy and will now face Sarah Spain for third-pace, while the radio show's championship game will be a heavyweight bout: Dan vs. Stugotz. Meanwhile the Lobos will name our MVL -- Most Valuable Lobo -- next week. Might have a poll and let you all decide who should wear the crown. #WeAreTheLobos
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 03, 2016

Miami Hurricanes football: Who is team's 2016 MVP? 5 players, 2 coaches make poll. You pick top 3. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Champ Saturday in college football, Dolphins-Ravens and other NFL Week 13 picks, your Cooperstown verdict & more

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

Dancingsign1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3. Caution, motorists: You have entered an area in which you are likely to encounter Fred Astaire-style dancers in the street. 2) Reminder: The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your Cooperstown ballot with poll, six Canes in final SOPY Top 30, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 12 results, LeBatard video from 1989 game show & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

D-Wade beats LeBron. Twice: In a game that had to hurt the heart of Heat fans, Dwyane Wade's Bulls beat LeBron James' Cavaliers, 111-105, last night, though LeBron outscored Wade 27-24. Wade also won his World Series bet with James, who had to dress in a Cubs uniform before the game.

Tannehill's defining December, select other recent columns: Tannehill's Defining December, the new one, on the imperative that the Dolphins' QB be a late-season closer and deliver Miami to the playoffs. And Week 13 Gems, our latest NFL picks. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. There's Hope For Us All.

UmmvpWHO WAS MIAMI HURRICANES' 2016 TEAM MVP IN FOOTBALL? (THAT'S MOST VALUABLE PERSON, NOT JUST PLAYER): Our seven-man ballot includes five players but also two coaches, and we invite you to vote for your top three (3). Nobody said life was easy. From the consensus of votes we'll name a team MVP -- Most Valuable Person -- with the regular-season done at 8-4 as the Canes and their fans await a bowl invitation. The poll is alphabetical. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

CHAMP SATURDAY IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS CFP WAITS: Championship Saturday in college football: the crescendo that decides conference championships, sets the bowl schedule and determines which select four teams will make the College Football Playoff, which meets Sunday to set its two semifinal matchups. The Miami Hurricanes are likely to end up bowling in Jacksonville or Orlando vs. an SEC opponent, possibly Florida or Georgia. More important today, nationally: the top of the CFP ranking and how the final four will shake out. What's happening with the teams that have a chance for the final four:

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) beat No. 15 Florida, 54-16, SEC Championship: Nick Saban's Tide was a silly 24-point favorite and showed why.

No. 2 Ohio State (11-1) did not play: Buckeyes fine staying right where they're at to avoid Alabama in the semis.

No. 3 Clemson (12-1) beat No. 23 Virginia Tech, 42-35, ACC Championship: Might Clemson fall to No. 4?

No. 4 Washington (12-1) beat No. 8 Colorado, 41-10, Pac-12 Championship: Huskies stated emphatically that they belong.

No. 5 Michigan (10-2) did not play: After Washington's big win, Wolverines' only realistic prayer was a loss by Clemson.

No. 7 Penn State (11-2) beat No. 6 Wisconsin, 38-31, Big Ten Championship: Winner needed Clemson loss and luck to somehow climb into top four.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 13: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAVENS, REST OF NFL: We launch our Week 13 on the heel of an OK/solid 10-6 mark straight-up last week and 9- Fripix6-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began the new week with mixed results last night on our Vikings-over-Cowboys upset call. Dallas won, but we did have Minny with the points to put us a big 24 games above .500 ATS for the year. Click on Week 13 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Ravens, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other game. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the imperative that Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill be a December closer this time and deliver Miami to the playoff promised land. Click on Tannehill's Defining December to read.

Poll result: And your 2017 baseball Hall of Famers are...: We invited you to vote for the top five of the 13 finalists I presented, and your five "inductees" were: Barry Bonds 14.5 percent, Roger Clemens 13.0%, Pudge Rodriguez 10.9%, Manny Ramirez 9.1% and Jeff Bagwell 8.5%. Close were Curt Schilling 8.4%, Tim Raines 7.9%, Vladimir Guerrero 7.5% and Trevor Hoffman 7.2%. Far back were Mike Mussina 4.6%, Edgar Martinez 3.9%, Jorge Posada 3.8% and Magglio Ordonez 0.9%. Vote totals should be quintupled for an idea of the total percentage of ballots that included that player. By that standard, Bonds is the only player who would have come close by your votes to meeting the 75% standard for actual induction into Cooperstown by the BBWAA. I'm a voter, and will publish my picks in the blog closer to when they are due later this month.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 30, 2016

Here's your 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot: 13 finalists, you pick the 5 who get in. Last day for poll. Vote now!; plus LeBatard on 1989 game show, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 12 results, final SOPY 'State Heisman' shows 6 Hurricanes in Top 30 & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30. See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results. They're buoyant! 2) The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat 49ers for sixth straight win with DSM poll, Florida Panthers stupidly fire coach, Canes bowl outlook, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Tannehill, other select recent columns: Click on They Dared Him to Throw, And Oh Did He for my Ryan Tannehill column off Sunday's Dolphins win. Also: Week 12 GemsFootball Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All.

COOPSYOUR 2017 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT: There are 34 names on this year's official 2017 Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) Hall of Fame ballot -- 19 first-timers and 15 back for another try. This is my third year as a voter and I take the task seriously as I weight voting for as many as 10 candidates prior to the Dec. 31 deadline. At least half of the guys on any given ballot have zero shot at Cooperstown and quickly fade away by not even getting the 5 percent of the vote required to be on the following year's ballot. I have winnowed the Hall of Fame ballot I offer you today by eliminating the no-shot guys and presenting only the ones who have a chance, ranging from likely to at least possible. This includes five newcomers (indicated by an asterisk (*) on the ballot), and the eight returners who garnered at least 40 percent of the vote a year ago. The magic 75% must be attained for induction. The finalists on our ballot are alphabetical. You may vote for the FIVE (5) you feel are most worthy of Cooperstown. I should emphasize my official ballot will not be based on or influenced by your vote, although certainly I'll be interested to compare our views. In a later blogpost I'll present to your my complete ballot and reasoning. For now, it's your turn. Vote for your top five and check back often to monitor evolving results.

VOTE FOR THE FIVE (5) MOST DESERVING OF COOPERSTOWN:

Sopy QfSOPY RANKINGS / SEASON FINAL: FLOWERS WINS 'STATE HEISMAN,' KAAYA 4TH, SIX CANES IN TOP 30: It was a rout. A runaway. The fifth season of our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings saw dual-threat South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers (from Miami Jackson High) win the season crown going away. We end after the regular season and do not include conference championship games or bowl games so that all seven state FBS teams are on equal footing. Miami QB Brad Kaaya finishes in fourth place, among six Hurricanes (underlined below) placing in the final Top 30. The weekly rankings are cumulative and measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. All teams played 12 games except the Florida Gators, with 11. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the Final 2016 SOPY Top 30, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY FINAL 2016 TOP 30:

RK    Player, Team-pos.                    Total

1      QUINTON FLOWERS, SOFLA-QB  2,917

2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                 2,160

3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb         1,885

4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb              1,636

5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb               1,530

6      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb              1,442

7      Mark Walton, Miami-rb             1,397 

8      Devin Singletary, FAU-rb           1,251

9      Alex McGough, FIU-qb              1,159.5

10     Alex Gardner, FIU-rb               1,157

11. McKenzie Milton UCF-qb 1,125; 12. Rodney Adams SoFla-rec 1,025; 13. Gregory Howell FAU-rb 953; 14. Kalib Woods FAU-rec 940; 15. Ahmmon Richards Miami-rec 886; 16. Travis Rudolph FSU-rec 849; 17. Tre'Quan Smith UCF-rec 838; 18. Jordan Scarlett Florida-rb 837; 19. D'Ernest Johnson SoFla-rb 786; 20. Stacy Coley Miami-rec 75721. Joe Yearby Miami-rb 700; 22. David Njoku Miami-rec 697; 23. Thomas Owens FIU-rec 695; 24. Luke Del Rio Florida-qb 684; 25. Anthony Jones FIU-rb 675; 26. Antonio Callaway Florida-rec 649; 27. Dontravious Wilson UCF-rb 595; 28. Adrian Killins UCF-rb 563; 29. Jawon Hamilton UCF-rb 561; 30. tie, Lamical Perine Florida-rb 535 and Jonnu Smith FIU-rec 535.

Week 13 best: Singletary FAU-rb 313. Season best week: Flowers SoFla-qb 371.5.

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2016--Quinton Flowers SoFla-qb 2,917; 2015--Flowers 2,077.5 points; 2014--Duke Johnson Miami-rb 1,968; 2013--Jameis Winston FSU-qb 2,107; 2012--Stephen Morris Miami-qb 1,900.5.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida State (9-3); 2. Florida (8-3); 3. Miami (8-4); 4. South Florida (10-2); 5. UCF (6-6); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-9).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 12 RESULTS: SOLID ON PREDIX, LOBOS STAY EN FUEGO: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Not worth bugling from a rooftop, but we were solid. Went 10-6 overall and 9-6-1 against the spread, including five underdogs-with-points. The tie was the Raiders pushing at minus-3. We're now a very solid 23 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos routed Chris' squad 104-59 in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 9-3 after a Dolphin-esque sixth consecutive win. Drew Brees had a big 32 points and is making a serious push for MVL (Most Valuable Lobo) honors. We have only one week left before the start of the playoffs. Let's keep it honkin', 'Bos!

LEBATARD ON 1989 GAME SHOW: Below is a video of Dan LeBatard's appearance on the 1989 ESPN game show, Boardwalk and Baseball, hosted by Chris Berman, which he spoke about on the air today. LeBatard is pictured far right on the Miami team, college-aged, chubby faced, helmet haired, and saying absolutely nothing discernable. But I do like the repeated look of frustration as he narrowly misses pressing his buzzer in time.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 03, 2016

Cubs win World Series! My new column, plus historical perspective on the unusual delight of sports' best championship night; also, NFL TV rating woes, D.Wade beats LeBron on World Series bet, your Dolphins/London verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3. I'm up in Friday Page World Headquarters begging this week's NFL Week 9 picks. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Falcons-Buccaneers game. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins give another home game to London with poll, Andre Johnson and Canton, SOPY rankings, The List (Cubs' challenge) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

World Series, NFL, Jose Fernandez, Heat, Dolphins: Our most recent columns: Click on There's Hope For Us All (on Cubs' World Series win) and on A Needed Slap In Face (on NFL's declining TV ratings) for our two newest columns. Also: Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did. The Whiteside Project. What Took You So Long? (on Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot. And The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi).

Game7sHISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE UNUSUAL DELIGHT OF A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 7: On sports' grand scale of so-common to way-rare, what we got last night -- a Game 7, winner-take-all for the season's championship -- was closer to rare. And one could argue that this Game 7, Cubs at Indians, was the greatest ever, considering no previous G7s in
Chicleany sport have seen anything close to one team with a 108-year championship drought and the other's at 68 years. Somebody's long suffering was going to end last night, the agony over one city's loss offset by the sheer exhale of joy in the other. I was rooting for the Cubbies to win for the first time since 1908, but imagined I'd also have felt goosebumps watching Indians fans celebrate their first World Series crown since '48. The Cubs won, of course, 8-7 in 10 innings. But for fans of neither team, it was a no-lose night. A win for baseball. A brief synopsis of the rare joy of Game 7s in the three major sports that have them:

MLB: Game 7 overall incidence: 38.3% -- Last night's was the 36th Game 7 in the 94 series since baseball began a continuous best-of-7 World Series format in 1922. The previous was in 2014 (Giants over Royals). But the incidence has declined in the modern era. Since 1990 it has been 29.4%, with last night's only the fifth Game 7 in 17 seasons.

NBA: Game 7 overall incidence: 27.1% -- Basketball has had 19 NBA Finals Game 7s in 70 years since the continuous best-of-7 format began in 1947. The most recent one was last season in 2016 (Cavaliers over Warriors). The incidence since 2000 has dropped slightly to 23.5%, four Game 7s in 17 years.

NHL: Game 7 overall incidence: 20.8% -- Hockey has had 16 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7s in 77 seasons since the best-of-7 format continuously began in 1939. The most recent one was 2011 (Bruins over Canucks). The incidence since 2000 has risen to 37.5%, with six Game 7s in 16 seasons.

Combined: Game 7 overall incidence: 29.5% -- Cubs-Indians tonight will be the 71st combined championship Game 7 in 241 seasons for the three sports. The incidence has held steady since 2000, at 30.0%, with 15 combined Game 7s in 50 seasons. So figure slightly less than one every three years on average but none, ever, quite like Cubs-Indians, with those fans' combined 176-year title drought.

South Florida's two championship Game 7s -- Florida Marlins defeat Cleveland Indians 3-2 in 11 innings, October 26, 1997, at Pro Player Stadium. Miami Heat defeat San Antonio Spurs 95-88, June 20, 2013, AmericanAirlines Arena.

D.WADE AND LEBRON'S WORLD SERIES BET: This is a good one. Can you picture Dwyane Wade in a full Cleveland Indians uniform prior to a Bulls game in Chicago? You don't have to. Instead, imagine LeBron James in a full Chicago Cubs uniform before a Cavaliers game in Cleveland. That's what you'll see. That was their bet, determined by last night's World Series Game 7 result. "I want to win," said Wade, smiling. Done.

Poll result: You hate Dolphins giving up home games to London: We asked what you think of the Dolphins in 2017 playing a "home" game in London for second time in three years, and it was a landslide 82.3 percent against it. Only 15.9% were OK with it, and the other 1.8% were undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 01, 2016

Dolphins need to quit giving up home games to London! Agreed or no? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Andre Johnson and Canton, latest SOPY standings, Cubs' historic challenge & more

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

Pumpkins1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1. Happy new month, y'all! Hope you had a great and Happy Halloween. I have a personal animus against fake pumpkins. Pictured right are the three real ones I carved that were on display last night as trick-or-treaters come to our door. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They ain't pretty. 3) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes fall at Notre Dame with CSM poll, state Collball Week 9, Hot Button Top 10, Jose and cocaine, Heat poll results, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jose Fernandez, Heat, Dolphins, World Series: Our most recent columns: Click on Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did, for our latest column. Also: The Whiteside Project (off Heat home opener). What Took You So Long? (Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot (season-preview column). The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi). And The Perfect World Series (Cubs-Indians).

FinsukDOLFANS GET SCREWED OUT OF ANOTHER HOME GAME: In 2017, for the second time in three seasons, the Miami Dolphins will give up an actual regular-season home game to "host" a game in London. Last year Dolphins fans were robbed of seeing the hated rival Jets visit Miami. Next year you'll be missing out on a rare visit by Hall of Fame bound quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints. Miami and owner Stephen Ross are obliging an NFL codicil that states a team awarded host status for a Super Bowl (which Miami was, in 2020) must "host" an international game within five years. Dumb rule. At least Miami won't be charging fans for a home game beine played an eight-hour flight from home. In any case, I hate that the Dolphins giving up a home game -- let alone twice in three years. More than fans take a hit; the Dolphins yield home-field advantage for that game. This sport is different. There are only eight home games. They are precious. Giving up one of eight would be the equivalent of the Heat playing five of their 41 home games elsewhere, or the Marlins giving up 10 of their 81 home games. Here's a poll that invites your opinion on this matter:

AjohnsonANDRE JOHNSON AND CANTON: Titans wide receiver Andre Johnson, 35, the born-and-raised Miamian and ex-Hurricane, announced today he planned to retire on Monday. Is Johnson a Hall of Famer? I think so. Perhaps not a first-ballot, no-argument guy. But one who should get to Canton eventually. Here are Johnson's pertinent NFL career numbers compared to the three most recent wide receivers to be inducted, with 'PB' indicating Pro Bowls:

Player                           PB    Catches    Yards    Avg.    TDs

Andre Johnson               7    1,062        14,185  13.4    70

Tim Brown (2015)           9     1,094       14,934  13.7    100

Andre Reed (2014)          7        951       13,198  13.9     87

Cris Carter (2013)           8      1,101       13,899  12.6    130

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 8 RESULTS: PIX IN A SLUMP, BUT LOBOS KEEP ROCKIN'!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL pix: Lousy week, period. Went 6-6-1 overall (with the tie game) and embarrassing 3-9-1 against the spread (with the Jets pushing). We're still a very solid 21 games above .500 ATS for  the season, but need to shake this two-week lull pronto. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos rose to 5-3 in the LeBatard Show league with a 138-114 spanking of Dan. That ties us for first place. Enjoyed balanced scoring, with four guys over 19 points led by Mohammad Sanu's 23. With a roster ravaged by byes, we'd just signed Sanu as a free agent late in the week, so that made us look smart. Let's keep it rollin', 'Bos!

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': CAN ANYONE SPOIL FLOWERS' GARDEN PARTY?: South Florida Bulls duel-threat QB Quinton Flowers (out of Miami Jackson High) has expanded his season Sopylead in the fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year. Second place Dalvin Cook, the Florida state running back, has played one fewer game, but even with that factored in, Flowers' lead is huge. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The number of games played for each school is listed parenthetically below. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 10, followed by a new No. 1 in our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 9:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)                 Wk9        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb (9)            309.5      2,051

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb (8)                      208        1,512

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb (8)             102        1,262

4      4      Alex McGough, FIU-qb (9)                  223.5     1,159.5

5      5      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb (9)                  156          996

6      8      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb (9)                     123         937

7      7      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb (8)                   115         936

8      6      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb (8)                    46          884

9      9      Mark Walton, Miami-rb (8)                  89          845 

10   10     Gregory Howell, FAU-rb (8)                 29          729

Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 713. Other team leaders: McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 703.5 (8); and Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 594.5 (7). Week 9 best: Flowers, 309.5. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida (6-1); 2. Florida State (5-3); 3. South Florida (7-2); 4. Miami (4-4); 5. UCF (4-4); 6. FIU (3-6); 7. FAU (1-7).

THE LIST: TEAMS THAT HAVE DONE WHAT CUBS ARE TRYING TO DO: The Cubs trailed the Indians 3-1 before winning World Series game 5 last night. Should it win the next two in Cleveland, the Cubs would become only the fifth team ever to successfully overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven WS. Teams that have done it:

Year    Team                                    Series MVP

1985    Royals vs. Cardinals               Royals P Bret Saberhagen

1968    Tigers vs. Cardinals               Tigers P Mickey Lolich

1958    Yankees vs. Milw. Braves        Yankees P Bob Turley

1925    Pirates vs. Senators               None chosen

Note: Tigers and Yankees won last two on road, the challenge now facing Chicago.

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

Twitter @gregcote