October 28, 2015

Bosh back with double-double as Miami wins opener. How good do you expect Heat to be? New poll. Vote now!; plus Fox Sports' embarrassment, racist Halloween costumes & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28: Condolences to Hurricanes cornerback Artie Burns and family over the passing of his mom, Dana Smith. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Our wild, wild week in sports, World Series predix, latest Dolphins all-50'ers, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, latest SOPY standings, Golden-firing verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

OPENING NIGHT! HEAT USHER IN MIAMI'S 28TH NBA SEASON: Chris Bosh's 21 points and 10 rebounds sparked Miami's 104-94 win over Charlotte tonight. Dwyane Wade had 20 and Gerald Green 19 off the bench -- including 5-for-8 on 3's as Miami made 12 of 20 threeballs. ..... Original post: Into the great unknown we step gingerly tonight at 7:30 as the Heat host Charlotte in its 2015-16 NBA regular season opener in the
Openingnight Dwadedowntown bayside arena. What do we have here is the question. The starting lineup of Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside looks great. But can that unit play as fast-paced as coach Erik Spoelstra likes? Is there sufficient 3-point punch there? Can it stay healthy? All agree Miami should be considerably better than the team that finished 37-45 and missed the playoffs last season. But will better mean a low playoff seed and maybe a first-round advance if that? Or will better mean a top-four seed and maybe a challenge to Cleveland's Eastern Conference reign? The portrait of this Heat team will paint itself. The blank canvas gets its first brushstrokes tonight. Meantime, what do you think is a realistic expectation of how many (of 82) games the Heat will win this season? Not what you hope, but what you honestly think. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

FOX SPORTS' WORLD SERIES EMBARRASSMENT: Long World Series Game 1 last night, Royals winning in 14 innings, but an even longer night for Fox Sports, which lost its power. Fox blames "a rare electronics failure [that] caused both the primary and backup generators inside the Fox Sports production compound to lose power," adding, "The issue was immediately addressed, although it resulted in the audience missing one at-bat during the time needed to switch to MLB's international feed. The on-field delay was due to replay capability being lost in both teams’ clubhouses. We apologize for the interruption and are working to ensure that the remainder of the World Series is broadcast without incident." Sounds like a Fox intern spilled a Red Bull on the console.

Arab Boysoldier

 Mega-retailer Walmart has been goaded to stop selling racist Halloween costumes such as the one pictured right, at the urging of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Walmart also used to sell the Israeli soldier getup at left. Yes, because hatred and tension in the Middle East is not volatile enough. Let's make a joke of it and bring it door to door! 

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

October 22, 2015

Who is Heat's best player? Easy answer or tough? Poll. Vote now!; plus MLB in Cuba?, UM hoops pump-up video, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos Fantasy Week 6 results, Dolphins' latest All-50ers, updated SOPY standings & more


1) It is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22: I'm back up at Friday Page HQ today bringing forth this week's NFL Week 7 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's Seahawks-49ers pick. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins rout Tennessee with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"More 'Back to the Future' references! Please!!" --Greg Cote

MLB in Cuba?: Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred tells the The Hollywood Reporter: "We're working hard to try to get to a position where we might be able to do an exhibition game in Cuba as early as 2016 -- so next spring." Logistically it would be natural for the Miami Marlins to be one of the participating teams, although the backlash from many Cubans in Miami might give the Marlins pause.

Dolphins I: Wake wins AFC honor: Cam Wake is AFC Defensive Player of Week for his sackfest vs. Tennessee. It's third straight year he's been that, team's longest defensive streak since Jason Taylor's five in a row in 2002-06. Dolphins II: All-50 team: Club is revealing its 50 greatest players five at a time in random order and latest are DT Tim Bowens, DT Manny Fernandez, OG Larry Little, RB Mercury Morris and DE Bill Stanfill -- all expected, all deserving. Dolphins III: Our latest column: Hope grows, but belief must be earned. As schedule toughens we need to see a lot more of the Dolphins we saw last week. Click The Parade Isn't Here Yet for our latest column.

CLEAR CUT? TOUGH CALL? WHO IS THE HEAT'S BEST PLAYER?: With the Heat's season opener in six days, some see Miami as a greatly improved team capable of maybe reaching the NBA's Eastern BoshwadeConference finals to challenge presumptive power Cleveland. Others see Dragicdoubts; they see a lower-tier playoff team. The varying opinions are underlined in recent surveys. In NBA.com's annual general managers survey no Heat player received a best-in-the-league vote at any of the five positions. Complete shutout. Yet in ESPN.com's annual #NBARank, Miami is one of only five teams to place all five starters in the overall list of Top 100 players. Chris Bosh will be in the top 25 (exact slot still unknown), Goran Dragic is 38th, Dwyade Wade is 46th, Hassan Whiteside is 68th and Luol Deng is 92nd. Is Bosh now clearly the Heat's best player? Has Wade fallen to No. 3? I'm more curious what you think than what an ESPN experts panel thinks. Hence, this poll! It is alphabetical. And it is not a favorite player poll. It is asking who the team's best player is, right now, heading into this season. Vote and say why.

UM MEN'S HOOPS SETS SEASON-TICKET RECORD: Jim Larranaga's program announced it has set a UM season-ticket sales record and that fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for most games. Hurricanes begin the season in three weeks. Anticipation is high. Here's a pump-up video:


NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 6: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our 1lobos Fripixtwo Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Pix: Cooling off a bit: We were due for an off-week and had one at 9-5 overall and 6-7-1 against the spread (Lions pushed). Bull's-eyed two outright upsets with wins by Dolphins and 49ers and had 'dog Browns and Panthers with points, too, but misfired badly on our Aawwk pick Monday night. Greg's Lobos / family league: Tough year continues: The original Lobos fell to 2-4 with a 112-94 loss. You're doomed when  nobody has even 20 points for you, and Odell Beckham led us with 19. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Hot hot hot!: The new Lobos are now 4-2 with a fourth straight win -- 151.8 to 122.7 over assistant producer Allyson. Devonta Freeman was our MVL once again with a big 35.6 points.

SOPY: FSU'S COOK CONTINUES SURGE, UM'S KAAYA NOW THIRD: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- find Florida State running back Dalvin Cook now Sopyfirmly in first place through Week 7. The Canes' Brad Kaaya has risen to No. 3. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. Because they are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of season. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 8:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 7

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W7        Season

1 (2)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             235      1,152

2 (1)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         132       1,052.5

3 (4)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          151       917

4 (5)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   194.5    916.5

5 (6)         Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             125       823

6 (3)         Will Grier, Florida-qb            DNP       789

7 (9)         Everett Golson, FSU-qb         176       770.5

8 (7)          Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          117       750

9 (8)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb      117        736

10 (10)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       47        617

Bubble: Thomas Owens, FIU-wr, 553. Other team leaders: Greg Howell, FAU-rb, 492; Justin Holman, UCF-qb, 356.5. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 287 (Wk6). Note: Florida, FIU and UCF have played seven games each; all others six.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (6-0); 2. Florida (6-1); 3. Miami (4-2); 4. South Florida (3-3); 5. FIU (3-4); 6. FAU (1-5); 7. UCF (0-7).

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

October 11, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 59.6%; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with UM loss, Cats big win, FIU, Gators, baseball, Heat & more


1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 12: IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The odds against Dan Campbell reviving Dolphins but why he might, NFL Week 5 picks, World Series poll, my MLB postseason picks and Rootability Scale, Philbin-firing verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 59.6%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 59.6 percent overrall satisfaction (the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Saturday's 29-24 loss at Florida State putting UM's season record at 3-2 1aa1acsmoverall and 0-1 in the ACC. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Monday.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Next poll: Oct. 17 (following game vs. Virginia Tech)

Interpreting the latest vote: Honestly, I have no idea what's going on here -- a sharp spike in "satisfied" votes despite a big loss at Florida State. Could be a bunch of FSU fans voting . Could be UM fans not displeased to narrowly lose a road game to a ranked opponent. More likely, it's the anti-Al Golden crowd imagining this result moves them one step closer to a coaching change. One would assume a low satisfaction number would serve that purpose much better, but that's just me being logical.

G5: FLORIDA STATE29, HURRICANES 24: NOT TIME FOR AL GOLDEN'S SIGNATURE WIN: Final: UM loses 29-24, despite 405 yards passing and three TDs by Brad Kaaya. Miami could not stop FSU's Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 222 yards and scored three times. UM coach Al Golden now is 0-5 vs. Florida State and still seeking his first victory (0-13) against teams that finish ranked. An upset win tonight, which I had predicted, would have taken a ton of heat off Golden. This will just turn the temperature higher. ..... Fourth Q: UM 4th-down pass batted down inside of a minute left. Canes will lose. ... Cook 23-yard run and FSU has lead back 29-24 after missed 2-point attempt. Cook now with 206 yards rushing. ... UM with its first lead, 24-23, with 10 minutes left on Kaaya's scoring pass to Coley. ... FSU 25-yard FG and 23-17 lead with just under 12 minute left. Tracy Howard costly pass-interference penalty had given FSU 1st-and-goal. ..... Third Q: Another big stop by the UM defense. ... We got a game! UM within 20-17 on Kaaya quick 1-yard flip to Joe Yearby. ... Dumb dumb dumb personal foul against Stacy Coley. UM not good enough to have that. ... Promising defensive stop by UM to open half. ..... Halftime: Miami may be fortunate to only be down 20-10. Key stat: Seminoles lead in rushing yards, 167-2. UM's defense hasn't been able to contain Dalvin Cook. I still don't rule out Miami's chances, but a defensive turnaround is required. ..... Second Q: Noles miss 49-yard FG in final seconds, a big break. ... FSU up 20-10 on short FG nearing 2-minute warning. ... Huge defensive stop for Miami in red zone, get ball back on downs. ... UM within 17-10 on Rashawn Scott 58-yard pass play from Kaaya. ... FSU adds short FG fro 17-3 lead. ..... First Q: FSU 14-3 on Cook's second big TD play, this a 36-yard pass play. UM defense abysmal so far. ... Canes within 7-3 on 30-yard FG but it's a downer. Had 1st-and-goal; red zone offense keeps letting Miami down. ... UM catches a break with FSU player ejected for helmet hit on Brad Kaaya. ... Stacy Coley, partying like it's 2013. ... FSU 7-0 on Dalvin Cook 72-yard run with option pitch. Guess his hamstring's fine. ... OK I'm on record: Canes, 27-24. Let's go see! ..... Original post: It's 3-1 Miami at No. 12-ranked and 4-0 Florida State tonight at 8 in Tally, and the Canes are this victory away from being back up in the polls -- and from coach Al Golden taking a huge step to start winning back support from 1aa1acanesfsuan agitated fan base. FSU is favored by 8 1/2 points but I don't know about that. I'm sensing a not so major upset in Miami's ACC opener. Noles star running back Dalvin Cook (from Miami) is hobbled by a tender left hamstring that likely won't keep him out but likely will limit him. And FSU's offense beyond Cook has not been special; transfer QB Everett Golson has been closer to OK than great. Brad Kaaya and Joe Yearby give UM just as much offensive pop if not more. They key will be the Canes' defense ruining FSU's clean slate of zero turnovers. Miami has much to overcome to make my upset call come true. FSU has won five straight in this traditional series and conference rivalry entering its 60th meeting. Golden is 0-4 vs. the Seminoles and 0-12 with UM vs. teams that finished a season ranked. That makes valid the criticism that Golden hasn't won big games and doesn't yet have a signature win. Tonight will change all that -- or only underline the truth of it. My pick: Hurricanes 27-24.

College Week 6 state FBS games (in chronology; all games Saturday):

FIU 52, Texas-El Paso 12: FIU level at 3-3 with a home bopping leading one to wonder why the UTEP Miners bother fielding a team.

Rice 27, FAU 26: Bad blown-lead home loss for Owls, now 1-4.

South Florida 45, Syracuse 24: Nice win for Bulls, now 2-3, over Power Five conference visitor.

Connecticut 40, UCF 13: Now 0-6. Knights, who were a slim favorite, may be one of worst teams in nation.

No. 11 Florida 21, Missouri 3: Defense-strong Gators rocketed 14 spots up the polls after Swamping No. 3 Ole Miss 38-10 last week, and now are 6-0 with today's big road win. UF coach Jim Elwain referenced a somewhat obscure American pop band called The Cyrkle and its 1966 hit "Red Rubber Ball" in challenging his Gators to not be a one-hit wonder. That song was huge, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard charts; however The Cyrkle actually was a two-hit wonder, as its followup single, "Turn-Down Day," peaked at No. 16. Maybe sneaky McElwain knew that and was counting Missouri as that second big hit?


PANTHERS OPEN 22ND SEASON WITH 7-1 WIN!: Overshadowed though it is on the larger SoFla sports plate by Miami-FSU football tonight, the Florida Panthers opened 1aa1aflacatstheir 22nd NHL season at home vs. the Philly Flyers and won big, 7-1. That's typical Cats luck: Not even the star in town on their Opening Night. Florida has made the Stanley Cup playoffs only four times -- in 1996 '97, 2000 and '12. Doing it this season will be tough in a dense Eastern Conference, but optimism is founded coming off last season's league-leading 25-point standings improvement under first-year coach Gerard Gallant. The future seems bright. The Panthers are ascending, led by young blades like Aaron Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad, as well as veterans like Jaromir Jagr (who scored twice tonight) and goalie Roberto Luongo. A healthy Luongo could see the Cats in the playoffs. The stakes for this franchise are not just on the ice, of course. Florida was dead-last in NHL attendance last season, averaging only 11,265 fans per game and 66.1 percent capacity in the Sunrise arena. Rumors about the team relocating to Quebec City (or elsewhere) will only amplify if we don't see a playoff-caliber team that begins to spark a rebirth in interest reflected in noticeably bigger crowds.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCT. 11): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. Click on Hot Button for today's abbreviated print-only version:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HURRICANES: Golden denied signature win in Tally: Saturday night’s 29-24 Miami loss at Florida State means the Canes under Al Golden are now 0-5 against the Seminoles and 0-13 against teams that finished a season ranked. For UM’s embattled fifth-year coach, the search for the elusive Big Win goes on. But is the time to find it growing short?

2. DOLPHINS: Fins undergo major coaching upheaval during bye: The bye week was goodbye week for coach Joe Philbin and defensive chief Kevin Coyle, both fired and replaced internally. Philbin had 52 games to prove he wasn’t anything special. New interim coach Dan Campbell gets 12 games, starting next Sunday at Tennessee, to prove that he is.

3. PANTHERS: Cats open 22nd season with huge win: The NHL season opened at home for Florida on Saturday with a 7-1 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers. Ageless star Jaromir Jagr (who scored two goals) says he won’t cut his hair until the Cats make the playoffs. Given this club’s track record, I’m picturing Jagr as Troy Polamalu.

4. BASEBALL: Division playoffs on; Miami searches for manager: The NL and AL division series are under way. Aside to Marlins fans: To refresh your memory, the “postseason,” which Miami has experienced twice in 23 seasons and not for 12 years, involves only teams good enough to not be looking for yet another new manager.

5. GATORS: Florida keeps the big hits coming: UF was No. 11 and 5-0 before winning 21-3 at Missouri on Saturday. Coach Jim McElwain said he didn’t want UF to be a one-hit wonder like The Cyrkle with “Red Rubber Ball” in 1966. (Should we tell McElwain they had a second hit? Or that none of his players got the reference?)

6. HEAT: San Antonio here for exhibition Monday: With Oct. 28 NBA season opener drawing near, Miami hosts the Spurs in their third preseason game tonight. Pretend it's a big game, if you must.

7. NASCAR: Johnson eliminated in Chase: Jimmie Johnson is out in his big for a seventh NASCAR season championship. Raise your hand if you're clear on the new Chase format. Yeah, me neither.
8. FANTASY SPORTS: DraftKings, FanDuel under scrutiny: It's obviously gambling. Worse, there are now suggestions of insider trading. Remember when you followed sports for fun and watched games for enjoyment?
9. FIU: Panthers roll up 52 points: FIU evened its record at 3-3 with a 52-12 rout of Texas-El Paso. Isn't that reason enough for UTEP to re-think fielding a football team?
10. GOLF: U.S. wins Presidents Cup: Phil Mickelson played the wrong ball and cost the U.S. team a two-hole penalty in the Presidents Cup, but the U.S. overcame the blunder and won it anyway Sunday. Which would be a big deal if I knew or cared about the Presidents Cup.
Missing the cut: WNBA Finals ... Brazil wins pro beach volleyball in Fort Lauderdale ... Sepp Blatter's 90-day suspension ... Willis McGahee leads UM's latest Hall of Fame class.

THE HOT LIST: DOLPHIN CENTERS OF ATTENTION: Current Dolphin Mike Pouncey joined an exclusive list last week. Players in franchise history who have started at least 50 regular-season games at the center position:

Center                    Starts    Years

Tim Ruddy                140      1994-03

Jim Langer               109      1970-79

Dwight Stephenson     87       1980-87

Jeff Uhlenhake          59       1989-93

Tom Goode               55       1966-69

Mike Pouncey            50       2011-current

Poll result: "Let's Go Cubs!": We are all Cubs, apparently. In the previous blogpost I asked who you're rooting for to win the World Series among the final eight teams, and the Chicago Cubs had 46.9 percent, with no other team closer than 10.5%.

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

October 09, 2015

History says Dan Campbell won't lead Dolphins to playoffs, but here's why he might; also World Series poll, my divisional picks and Rootability Scale; also, Heat/Panthers betting odds, landslide verdict on Philbin firing, a personal note & more


1aa1ajlennon1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9: John Lennon would have turned 75 today. Imagine. 2) Click on Joe Had His Chance, Time to Move On for my earlier column on the Dolphins' firing of Philbin. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fire Philbin with poll, SOPY standings, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, Dee Gordon wins Marlins' 'Weighing The Fish' title & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

IMG_0001A PERSONAL NOTE: Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may be aware my mother passed away this week, at age 97. She is pictured just a couple of weeks earlier. I want to thank all of you for the outpouring of condolences. As I wrote on Twitter, "You have a lifetime to get ready to say goodbye, and then find it still isn't easy." But the support from our community of readers has helped. Thanks again!

THE HISTORICAL ODDS AGAINST DAN CAMPBELL MAKING DOLPHINS A PLAYOFF TEAM ... BUT WHY HE COULD: I explore the history and limited success of in-season coaching changes to lead today's Friday NFL notes column appearing with my game-by-game predictions. Click Dan Campbell's Challenge for the full column, but here are the highlights:

Why Campbell probably won't lead Miami  to playoffs: Nobody in his spot ever has. Well, not since the 1970 merger. There have been 72 previous in-season coaching changes since then, a sizable sample, and the new or interim guys are 0-for-72 in seeing their team to the playoffs. In-season changes do tend to cause a favorable bump. The 72 coaches let go had a combined record of 145-454-3 (.242), while the coaches who replaced them finished the season 145-297-1 (.328). That is not an insignificant bump, but neither is it a collective dramatic turnaround. And the absence of playoff precedent is pretty startling.

Ah, but why he might!: The average of those 72 in-season changes has been 8.4 games in, or just past midseason. Campbell has far more games than most to enact a turnaround. In fact only four of those 72 changes have been made sooner than four games in, and not since the 2000 Bengals did it after three games. Also notable, 24 teams that started 1-3 have made the playoffs since 1990 realignment, about one a year on average. Twelve games, and talent enough to get Joe Philbin fired, give Campbell a real shot to make the Dolphins that one team and be the NFL's first interim coach in the playoffs.

1aa1afripixUPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 5: Stayed strong last week in going 12-3 overall and 8-7 against the spread, and started Week 5 right by hitting Indy's win at Houston last night. Click on Week 5 Gems for all our latest picks and full prediction capsules, because the NFL has the temerity to go on even though the Dolphins have a bye. Highlights: Bengals over Seahawks in our Game of the Week, and Saints winning at Philly in our Upset Special ("Aawwk!").

AND YOUR ROOTING INTEREST TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES IS...: Immediately below our new poll you'll find my division-series predictions and also our Rootability Scale. But now it's your turn. The wild-card games are out of the way and we're down to the final eight teams with the two AL division series starting today/Thursday and the two NL series beginning Friday. Which team do you most hope wins the World Series? Pick your favorite from this alphabetical list and say why they have your support.

COTE'S DIVISION-SERIES PICKS: I've got a pair of upsets, one in each league... AL: Blue Jays over Rangers: No upset. Toronto has better hitting and David Price will steer them right in Game 1. Astros over Royals: Upset. Houston drops bombs, and Johnny Cueto has been a disappointment. NL: Cubs over Cardinals: Upset. Jake Arrieta is best pitcher in MLB right now, and Yadier Molina (thumb) is iffy for Cardbirds. Dodgers over Mets: No upset. Metros have great starters, too, but tough to align against Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

A NEUTRAL FAN'S GUIDE TO THE BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: We rank the 10 playoff teams including wild-cards on a Rootability Scale based on how long it has been since each team's fans last cheered a World Series championship.

1. Chicago Cubs: 1908 -- Theodore Roosevelt was president. Infants being cradled at Wrigley that fall are now aged 107, cranky and impatient. If you have no dog in this postseason hunt but are not rooting for the Cubs, you may be un-American.

2. Houston Astros: 1962 -- The Colt .45s have never won a World Series but fans have been waiting since '62, or two years before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan.

3. Texas Rangers: 1972 -- They have never won a WS since relocating to Texas in '72. You know how long ago the Dolphins' Perfect Season seems? Exactly!

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 1979 -- Willie Stargell and "We Are Family." Peanut farmer in the White House. Current Buccos the second wild-card out.

5. Kansas City Royals: 1985 -- George Brett and Bret Saberhagen were taking fans' brett away. (Sorry).

6. New York Mets: 1986 -- Strawberry. Carter. Gooden. But the major downside to rooting for the Mets is that it unavoidably means hoping for the happiness of Mets fans.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers: 1988 -- Doesn't it seem like they've won more recently? Plus they spent $300 million on players. Rooting for this team is like hoping Donald Trump wins the Lotto.

8. Toronto Blue Jays: 1993 -- Sorry, Canada. I know we've taken permanent custody of your Stanley Cup. But that doesn't mean we want you to purloin our National Pastime.

9. New York Yankees, 2009 -- Thank goodness the wild-card Yankees were the first team eliminated last night because, well ... they're the Yankees.

10. St. Louis Cardinals, 2011 -- Great fans. Great baseball city. But enough with the success, already!

HEAT, PANTHERS BETTING FORECASTS UNDERWHELMING: Bovada's new NBA victory over/unders out today find Miami Heat at a modest 45.5, with 41 of course a .500 record. That places Miami tied for 12th in league (Golden State leads at 59.5) and tied for fifth in the East (Cleveland is tops at 57.5). Over in the NHL, Panthers' 45-1 odds against winning the Stanley Cup rank 22nd of 30 teams. Chicago leads at 7-1.

Poll result: Enormous support for firing of Philbin: This is about as close to unanimity as you get in an online poll. We asked if you support the Dolphins' firing of Joe Philbin and 95.6 percent said yes. Only 2.8% answered no, with the other 1.6% undecided. I could ask, "Are you generally in favor of health and happiness?" and I doubt it'd be 95.6% yes.

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

September 04, 2015

5 takeaways from Dolphins loss in preseason finale; plus FIU's big win, Brady beats NFL (poll, vote now!), Upset Bird Countdown (7 days), Jimmy Johnson reigns, LeBatard, UM hoops, Lawrence Phillips & more


1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. I'm back up at Random Evidence Laboratories today bringing forth the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes greatest-coach poll, Upset Bird Countdown, weird Canes photos, Suh Top 5, Kim Davis, Gus Edwards, Fins' luck, 'Concussion' trailer & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

LeBatard move official: ESPN will officially announce today at 10 a.m. that the Dan LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio is moving to the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8. Readers of this blog knew about it first last month.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix


1aa1aatlfalcopnsthe Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We have begun a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related winged-creature nicknames from America's Big Four sports, from newest to oldest. Today, at No. 7: Atlanta Falcons, born 1966. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67].

FINS 'N FIU: A FOOTBALL DOUBLEHEADER: Granted, a Dolphins' preseason finale and FIU's season opener did not constitute a great football doubleheader ... nevertheless!

DOLPHINS LOSE PRESEASON FINALE: OUR FIVE TAKEAWAYS: The 22-17 home loss to Tampa Bay last night, leaving Miami's final preseason record at a meaningless 1-3, wasn't quite as uneventful as we'd 1aa1adparkerimagined. Miami dominated statistically but sabotaged itself with five turnovers, four of them picks, all by guys unlikely to make the final roster. Almost all of the starters sat out, but there were these five points of significance: 1) No. 1 draft pick DeVante Parker (pictured) saw his first action, albeit limited, catching one pass for 11 yards of three balls thrown his way. Good they got his feet wet before the opener. 2) RBs Jay Ajayi (103 combined yards on 11 touches) and Mike Gillislee (17-for-69 rushing) both stated their cases. Ajayi certainly makes the final roster. 3) CB Will Davis, on the trading block and thus an apparent longshot to make the team, had a pair of interceptions. 4) The kicker competition still seems a deadlock between Andrew Franks (30-yard field goal tonight) and incumbent Caleb Sturgis, though I'd give the slightest edge to Franks. And 5) Josh Freeman's late end-zone interception all but settled it. I'd be shocked at this point if Miami spent a roster spot to keep a third QB. ... Original post: Miami hosts Tampa Bay at 7 in fake-game No. 4, the final exhibition. It is significant because its conclusion will commence the countdown to the Sept. 13 NFL season opener at Washington. It also is significant for the roster's bottom third, the "bubble" players fighting to make the cut from 75 men to 53, a final paring by coach Joe Philbin that is due by Saturday. The game is otherwise insignificant. Starters will play very little if at all. The result won't matter; however, staying healthy will. [Note: A reminder our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls are back this year, starting with the regular season].

FIU PANTHERS UPSET WINNERS: FIU last night won at UCF, 15-14, a huge upset over a 13-point home favorite in season opener. Panthers hero Darrian Dyson blocked a 47-yard field goal try in the final half minute to seal the win. 1aa1afiu"Team Alex" led the way offensively. QB Alex McGough passed for 260 yards and a TD, and RB Alex Gardner combined for 149 run/catch yards and a score. Very encouraging opening win for third-year coach Ron Turner, who told me last week he thought he'd win with defense, and did tonight. ... Original post: FIU opens its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner -- and kicks off Week 1 of the entire college season -- at UCF in Orlando. Big test for Panthers, who improved to 4-8 last year and have dreams of a bowl season, versus a Central Florida Knights squad that went 9-4 last year and is a 13-point favorite here. [Note: Our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year rankings -- the SOPYs! -- will be back this season. Look for them Mondays in the blog].

BRADY WINS, NFL LOSES AS COURT OVERTURNS 4-GAME SUSPENSION: My latest column is on this "Deflategate" development. Click on Brady Wins Big, Goodell Loses Bigger to read. Meantime, have your say:

DOLPHINS SHUT OUT IN UNDER-25 RANKINGS: List-crazy ESPN.com comes out with a Top 25 NFL Players Under 25 list excluding rookies (click here), and what's most disappointing is when you consider some of Miami's legitimate candidates who failed to make it. They include 1,000-yard back Lamar Miller, young sack-man Olivier Vernon, productive 2014 rookie starters Jarvis Landry and Ja-Wuan James, as well as Kenny Stills, Dion Sims, Jelani Jenkins and Chris McCain. Fins need to have a couple of those names on that U-25 ranking next year.

Betting odds on Dolphins individual stats: Over/unders courtesy our friends at Bovada today. Ryan Tannehill is pegged at 4,000 passing yards, 25.5 TD throws and 14.5 picks. Lamar Miller is 1,000 rushing yards and seven TDs. Jarvis Landry is 900 receiving yards and five TDs. And sack o/u's are 10 for Cam Wake and eight for Ndamukong Suh.

And updated World Series odds, too: Also from Bovada, it's Blue Jays favorites at 7-2, then Royals and Cardinals both 11-2, Dodgers 15-2 and Mets 9-1. Marlins now one of seven teams off-the-board.

1aa1ajjPoll result: Jimmy, Howard dominate UM greatest-coach vote: We listed the 10 Hurricanes football coaches who have worked at least 50 career games here, and nearly 80 percent of the vote went to either Jimmy Johnson (our clear champ with 47.0 percent) or Howard Schnellenberger (31.3%). Butch Davis was a distant third at 11.0%, then came Dennis Erickson at 4.8% and Larry Coker at 3.0%. At a negligible 1.0% or less: Andy Gustafson, Jack Harding, Charlie Tate, Al Golden and Randy Shannon.

HIGHLIGHTS, THOUGHTS ON HURRICANES MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE: Jim Larranaga's guys should be pretty good this season, maybe really good, in a schedule that opens at home Nov. 13 vs. Texas-Rio 1aa1ajimlGrand Valley. UM will play at least seven games vs. teams that finished in last year's final Top 25. Our circled dates, in order, with the seven must-see home games in bold: Nov. 19-22--Canes could face Utah (#19 last season) or Butler (#24) in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament in San Juan. Dec. 8--Host Florida Gators. Jan. 2 & 9--Host Syracuse and then Florida State in first ACC games. Jan. 12--at Virginia (#6). Jan. 25--Duke (#4) here. Feb. 3--Notre Dame (#8) here. Feb. 20--at North Carolina (#15) on CBS, only network TV game. Feb. 22--Virginia (#6) here. Feb. 27--Louisville (#17) here. March 8-12--ACC Tournament.

THE TRAGIC TALE OF LAWRENCE PHILLIPS: When I think of athletes of wasted promise -- make that 1aa1adolphillipshorribly wasted -- I might now think first of Phillips, the troubled former running back who played for three NFL teams in 1996-99, including two games for the Dolphins (pictured; 18 carries for 44 yards) in '97. He failed as a pro despite being a first-round draft pick, due largely to off-field issues. Now 40, he is serving a 31-year sentence in a California prison for choking his girlfriend and ramming his car into three teens. This week, he was charged with first-degree murder in the choking of his cellmate. What a waste.


Dolphins, Hurricanes special sections: Our NFL/Dolphins and College/Canes football special sections are out (high schools, too), and here are my two contributions: NFL rank: I rate the teams, 1 through 32, and slot the Dolphins at a really high No. 6. Click on The Order to read in full. Al Golden: I write why this must be the no-excuses season when UM's coach restores fans' faith and his future with the program. Click on Golden Opportunity to read.

Herald's 'Fins at 50': Our "Fins at 50" package commemorating Dolphins' 50th season remains available online; click FINS AT 50. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND (Shula column); 50 GREATEST (list of franchise's 50 top figures, not just players); ALL-TIME TEAM (my picks) and VIDEO INTERVIEWS (Shula, Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas). Also have Shula-by-the-numbers column; click TOP 10 NUMBERS.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

August 30, 2015

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Canes, Marlins, FIU, LLWS, tennis, horses, Scully; plus latest 'Weighing The Fish,' Fins fantasy ranks, escaping Cone of Doom & more


1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 31. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with onset of college football. 2) Backup Kirk Cousins reportedly will start for Redskins in Sept. 13 season opener vs. Dolphins. That doesn't help Miami. Such is the state of Robert Griffin III. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Twitter study finds Heat dominating local teams on social media, Gronkowskis = Kardashians, Serena wins pole position & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afiuronturnerFIU football: Turner's tall task: I probably don't write about FIU enough but for me it's a chicken-or-egg thing; unless you're a Kardashian, you have to earn the attention you get. Anyway, in my latest column I write why FIU's Ron Turner (pictured) has the toughest coaching job in South Florida. Click on Attitude Adjustment, Culture Makeover to read.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' special section: ICYMI, the Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50"

coverage, commemorating
the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season, arrived in the Old Classic print version
yesterday and remains available online. Click FINS AT 50 to access entire project. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND, my main column on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST, my list of the 50 top figures (not just players!) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM, my picks for that honor. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS, my conversations with Shula, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. I also have an added Shula-by-the-numbers column not in the original package; click TOP 10 NUMBERS to read.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Reminding you our Dolphins postgame DSM polls will be back in the blog again this year, but starting with the regular season on Sept. 13.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tannehill, starting D sharp again as Fins win preseason home debut: Miami is only 1-2 in exhibitions after Saturday's 13-9 win over Atlanta (game blog and postgame thoughts below), but the starting units look season-ready entering this coming Thursday's preseason finale vs. Tampa Bay. Based on August, Tannehill may be fast-climbing fantasy draft boards. (But the whisper remains: Can we trust August?)

2. HURRICANES: College football arrives! UM loses top RB with opener less than a week away: Coach Al Golden's Hurricanes, who open the season this coming Saturday vs. Bethune-Cookman, suffered a big blow with the news that expected starting running back Gus Edwards would miss the season with a foot injury. It's one more reason to doubt the Canes. If doubt is fuel, UM has a full tank in '15.

3. MARLINS: Stanton return from injury now on horizon: Fish have lost nine of past 12 to continue The Lost Season, but at least slugger Giancarlo Stanton is close. Marlins begin an extended homestand on Friday and Stanton figures to return sometime during it. Meantime, the club gives indications it might move the fences in next year. Giving Stanton shorter fences is like giving Bill Gates a raise.

4. FIU: Panthers open football season on road in three days: FIU begins its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner on Thursday at UCF. Turner seems to be making progress in turning around the Panthers program. The question now is whether hair-trigger FIU athletic director Pete Garcia will give him time to finish the job.

5. LITTLE LEAGUE: Japan beats U.S. for world title: The U.S. champion (Pennsylvania) squandered a 10-2 lead and lost to Japan on Sunday in the International final of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. By the way, a boy named Alex Edmondson pitched two no-hitters during the LLWS but you probably didn’t hear about it because, unfortunately for him, his name wasn’t Mo’Ne Davis.

6. TENNIS: U.S. Open starts today with all eyes on Serena: For the first time ever the women’s final has sold out before the men’s as fans anticipate Serena Williams completing the sport’s first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Now Serena's path is even easier with the withdrawal of Maria Sharapova. It almost isn't unfair. They should make Serena use a badminton racket.

7. HORSES: American Pharoah shocking loser at Travers: Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, a 1-5 favorite, lost to longshot Keen Ice at the historic Travers at Saratoga on Saturday. (Note to most of America: Yes, there are horse races other than the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont). 

8. VIN SCULLY: Dodgers broadcaster says he isn't done yet: Scully, who'll be 88 in November, said he would return next season for a 67th and final year broadcasting the Dodgers games. Put it this way: When last somebody else called Dodgers games, the president was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  

9. LEBRON JAMES: Ex-Heater sells Coconut Grove home: LeBron sold his 12,178-square-foot Coconut Grove waterfront mansion (including a theater and wine cellar) for $13.4 million. The question now: Do I redecorate?

10. DARRYL DAWKINS: Beloved ex-NBA stars dies: R.I.P. to the dunk specialist they called "Chocolate Thunder," who died at 58. The good news? I won big. As soon as I heard the news, I immediately invested in lame media references to "dunking in heaven."

Missing the HB10 cut: Tropical storm Erika turned out to be no threat to South Florida, despite local meteorologists' best efforts to scare us into panic mode. ..... Refurbished Dolphins stadium debuts. It looks good. If only it weren't 11,000 seats smaller. ..... Lawyers for NFL and Tom Brady are due back Monday for latest round of arguments. If this “Deflategate” morass were any more ridiculous, they’d move it from federal court to Vaudeville. ..... Marlins honor Dontrelle Willis but he's a no-show. Club president David Samson calls himself "flummoxed," becoming first sports figure since 1959 to use word "flummoxed." ..... Southern Cal football coach Steve Sarkisian profanely addresses boosters and fans while drunk. ..... Cris Carter apologizes for telling players at NFL Rookie Symposium they should have a “fall guy” to help them avoid trouble. An alternate piece of advice he might have been: Stay out of trouble so you don’t need a “fall guy.” ..... Now-retired former Dolphins bullying victim Jonathan Martin revealed he has contemplated suicide, seriously impinging my ability to make fun of him.

DOLPHINS 13, ATLANTA 9 (FAUX-GAME 3): THIS ONE COUNTED! (OK, NOT REALLY. BUT SORT OF): FINAL: Encouragingly, this was the third game in a row Miami's offensive and defensive starters outplayed the other team and performed very well. These units look season-ready. This time a win resulted for a 1-2 exhibition record, but it's the play of the main units that should have Dolfans nearly giddy. Tannehill tonight was 15-for-19 for 145 yards and a TD, Jarvis Landry looked good, and the defense was terrific, including six sacks. All of ATL's points came off Miami miscues. More importantly, coach Joe Philbin indicated after the game he did not think center Mike Pouncey's knee injury was a concern. In terms of roster spots last tonight, rookie kicker Andrew Franks may have drawn even with Caleb Sturgis. And I'd no longer be surprised if Josh Freeman edged Matt Moore for the backup QB role. ..... Fourth Quarter: MIA fumble recovery with 1:21 left at own 18 preserves win. ... Four-point late lead on rookie Franks' 51-yard FG. ... MIA recovers fumble with 4:13 left. ... More rain; not many fans still at Joe's Place. ... Third-string QB Josh Freeman looking pretty good, at wheel for 10-9 lead finished by 32Y FG by rookie Andrew Franks with 7 minutes to play. Longshot Franks stays in the competition with incumbent Caleb Sturgis for the PK job. ... ATL up 9-7. All Falcons points have followed Dolphins miscues. ... Matt Moore intercepted and 43Y return have Falcons poised to take lead. ..... Third Quarter: Goalline stand by backup defense preserves lead in scoreless third. ... Looks like second half will be reserves. Once again, for third game preseason game in a row, starters performed wel. ..... Half: Modest 7-6 lead but Dolphins very impressive overall. Tannehill 15-19 for 145 yards and a TD before giving way to Moore, Jarvis Landry 6 catches for 84 yards, and defense keeping Falcons punter busy. ATL's only points set up by a muffed Miami punt snap and a turnover. ..... Second quarter: ATL within 7-6 on 50Y field goal after late turnover. ... Matt Moore replaces Tannehill late in half. ... Center Mike Pouncey out with knee injury but does not seem serious. Questionable return but doubt he does as a precaution. ... MIA 7-0 on Rishard Matthews short TD pass from Tannehill. ..... First Quarter: Jarvis Landry 45-yard catch and run wakes up crowd. ... Late 1Q but Miami already subbing on defense, several starters already out.  ... Falcs parlay field position into 43-yard FG and 3-0 lead, but Fins defense looking good. ... Rain starts. Bad snap leads to muffed Dolphins pun after a couple of dropped passes. ... Quick ATL punt. DT Earl Mitchell playing like, "Suh, who?" ... Miami punt to open game. ... Pregame: Sparse crowd. Stadium improvements look good but fans aren't dumb. It's still a glorified practice game ... Hullo? Is this mic on? We'll be live-blogging the game here tonight and then have a postgame mini-column. ..... Original post: Atlanta Falcons here tonight in Miami's third exhibition game and, yes, it matters a little bit. A few reasons why and 1aa1abigdealother thoughts entering tonight: 1) Home debut, like-new stadium: It's the 2015 home debut of a Dolphins team that has a buzz about it, and in a refurbished stadium that also will look and feel new. A fall-flat performance would be a letdown. Especially because... 2) Playing to win: After two earlier losses in which the starters played well, but briefly, Miami will actually play to win for the first time, in a "dress rehearsal" game that figures to see the starters play much more. Atlanta has been 4-12 and 6-10 the past two seasons, so, yes, a loss tonight to go 0-3 would hurt in a way the past two did not. 3) Can't play scared: They'll balance the want to win with staying healthy. Since Ryan Tannehill and most other starters likely won't even play in next week's preseason finale, a key injury tonight is the worst fear. However! Reject the scared notion that Tannehill shouldn't play at all because of that 1aa1ahelmet testfear. He needs the added work behind his line, with his mostly new receivers, and against a live defense. You don't approach a game with your tail between your legs. 4) The offensive line: Seeking progress from an offensive line in flux due to both injuries and the questions at guard. Tonight guard Dallas Thomas likely will start at left tackle ... so be alert and nimble, Tannehill! 5) Position battles: In addition to the guard play, Walt Aikens is the heir to injured Louis Delmas' safety job. Is he up to the task? We may see tonight, as the Falcons' Matt Ryan will offer the best passing attack Miami has yet faced. Kicker Caleb Sturgis also must button-down his role tonight or risk still losing it. Bonuses: Interesting piece on coach Joe Philbin this week on Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback site; click here to read). Finally, pictured left, apropos of nothing, a prototype football helmet being tested as the wearer heaves himself into a wall, circa 1912. Evidently no concussion concerns back then.

WEIGHING THE FISH (130 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the departed Michael Morse but included Cole Gillespie even though he is one at-bat shy at 129). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton led comfortably before his injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 130 games (at 52-78):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @120

1  Dee Gordon                  430.9    1

2  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   358.0   3

4  Martin Prado              308.1    6

5  Christian Yelich         286.3   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         286.1   5

7  Marcell Ozuna            264.2   8

8  Justin Bour                 260.6    7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              228.6   9

10  Derek Dietrich          195.1   10

11  Cole Gillespie            140.1   --

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 4.

1aa1alamarmillerDOLPHINS' IN FANTASY RANKINGS: ESPN.com's official and final Top 300 fantasy rankings (click here for full list) includes 11 Dolphins, though none are pegged higher than what would be the third round in most drafts. The Fins listed, in order: 29th--RB Lamar Miller (pictured); 65th--WR Jarvis Landry; 87th--TE Jordan Cameron; 113th--WR DeVante Parker; 136th--RB Jay Ajayi; 142nd--Dolphins defense; 148th--QB Ryan Tannehill; 181st--RB Damien Williams; 191st--PK Caleb Sturgis; 197th--WR Kenny Stills; and 232nd--WR Greg Jennings. Quick thought: I think Tannehill, the 11th-ranked QB, could be somebody's draft steal. 

METEROLOGISTS SECRETLY DOWNTRODDEN AS SOUTH FLORIDA EVADES ERIKA'S CONE OF DOOM: Erika, the tropical storm, evidently not only won't become a hurricane but will be downgraded to a depression, or perhaps even a stiff breeze. This is good 1aa1acanestvfor South Florida, but bad of course for the people who sell plywood, ice, batteries and such. It's also bad for local TV meteorologists, who sell panic and at every opportunity foment an anxiety that leads to comically premature preparation. We'll probably get some rain and maybe some barely strong winds late Sunday into Monday. That's it. Am I making fun of hurricanes or the preparation for them. No! Certainly not on the 10-year anniversary of Katrina. Real hurricanes must be taken seriously. I am making fun of local TV weather people over-dramatizing every threat. I am picturing disappointed meteorologists downtrodden today, likely drinking heavily as they wistfully picture themselves beachside filming heroically in front of wind-whipped Stop signs.

Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 23, 2015

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins and Rappin' Joe, Canes, Marlins, NFL, LeBatard, Heat, Tiger, FIU; plus Fins-Cats, Entercom's shameful undercut in local radio & more


1aa1ajjfish1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 24. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) Pictured left: Reasons why Jimmy Johnson will never get back into coaching. This is JJ's prize from a recent fishing trip to Bimini. Click on image for a larger version. Life is good. 3) Happy birthday to my terrific wife, the greatest person I know! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exclusive on LeBatard Show move, love of NFL poll, Weighing The Fish, 2 Canes honored, ranking Miami uniforms, best-fans verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' project: The Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click FINS AT 50 to access entire project and all its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for that honor. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with Shula and also Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Enjoy!

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: A reminder, our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls will be back this year, but they start with the regular season, not the preseason.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins 0-2 in preseason but starters encouraging again: Miami is now 0-2 in fake games after last night's 31-30 loss at Carolina, but for a second straight week Ryan Tannehill and the starting units looked strong. Meanwhile coach Joe Philbin, in a white top hat and tails, rapped on stage for players in a talent show Friday night (see video below). Oh how I wish I were kidding! While practicing in Carolina for a few days Philbin also took his players on a team outing to see the movie Straight Outta Compton. That surprised me. I always thought of Philbin as more of an East Coast rappers kind of guy.

2. HURRICANES: Countdown 12 days 'til football opener: With the second and last fall scrimmage done as UM prepares for its 14th season since last winning a national title, 1960s Canes star Ted Hendricks was honored this week on a 75th anniversary All-America team. Old memories are nice, but fans attending next Saturday's CanesFest are looking for some new ones, please.

3. MARLINS: Reasons to keep watching (this won't take long): With Fish in midst of a homestand, four reasons to keep watching as The Lost Season drones on. 1, Giancarlo Stanton's long-awaited return from injury is due "early September." 2, Dee Gordon might win the NL batting crown. 3, Jose Fernandez will return from injury, again, eventually. 4, Marlins now on pace to NOT lose 100 games!

4. NFL: Brady vs. NFL nears ruling in federal court: Tom Brady and Roger Goodell are due back in federal court Aug. 31 in the Deflategate case and many think Brady's four-game suspension may be overturned. His supporters include Donald Trump. I don't wanna say Trump is overconfident, but if the court upholds Brady's punishment, Trump is already planning a presidential pardon.

5. DAN LEBATARD: Popular Miami-based radio show moving to morning: LeBatard's ESPN Radio show will move from 4-7 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting next month, as I first reported in my blog. I know this isn't a huge deal, but I forced it into this week's Hot Button Top 10 in a shameless, transparent attempt to make my "scoop" seem more important than it really was.

6. HEAT: Annual forecast details Heat's upcoming season: ESPN.com’s annual NBA expert panel’s “Summer Forecast” has determined the Heat will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference this coming season with a 47-35 record. Geez, way to ruin it! Couldn’t they at least have given us a spoiler alert?

7. GOLF: Davis Love III wins. No, seriously: Davis Love III, 51, won the Wyndham yesterday, capping a week in which Jordan Spieth overtook the world No. 1 ranking. Tiger Woods chased the Wyndham title before petering out. It's no major, but, hey, when your world ranking is a current 286th, you’ll take the Wyndham.

8. JURISPRUDENCE: National Labor Relations Board rules against Northwestern: The NLRB ruled against Northwestern University football players’ efforts to unionize. “Dear College Players,” the NLRB might as well have said, “You’re getting a free scholarship. Shut up and play.”

9. FIU: Panthers under pressure to boost attendance: FIU football must average 15,000 fans per game this season or risk losing its top-tier FBS standing. I say this in case you start to notice crowds seem bigger than usual because of what appears to be thousands of rented homeless people.

10. BASEBALL: Dodgers' payroll nears milestone: The Los Angeles Dodgers’ player payroll is approaching a record $300 million. Hey, what’s the big deal!? Jeffrey Loria spends that much on the Marlins. It just takes him seven or eight years.

Missing the HB10 cut: Little League World Series is underway through next Sunday as eight U.S. teams and eight foreign teams battle to see which ultimately is the best at sneaking in overage players undetected. ... Nova Southeastern University men’s golf coach Ryan Jamison is voted best current coach in all of South Florida in a Miami Herald online readers poll. No, seriously. ... The tennis U.S. Open begins in eight days in New York, and American player Mardy Fish said it will be his last tournament before he retires, leading analysts to Google who the heck Mardy Fish is. ... There is now a we-want-our-money-back class action suit in federal court over the Maywesther-Pacquiao fight, meaning Deflategate may no longer be the most frivolous case in federal court. ... R.I.P., Jimmy Evert, 91. ... Florida State is now requiring all of it athletes to take a personal-responsibility course. Probably would-a been cheaper just post a memo to football players: QUIT HITTING WOMEN! ... Brewers minor-leaguer David Denson has become the first openly gay player affiliated with an MLB team. Progress: When stuff like that isn’t even news anymore. ... Finally, there is renewed debate over whether all kids in youth sports, not just top finishers, should get “participation” trophies. “Oh hell YES!” said the American Association of Trophy Manufacturers.

RAPPIN' JOE PHILBIN LEADS DOLPHINS, BUT THEY LOSE ANYWAY: After losing big in Chicago last week -- but, more importantly, with the starting units looking very good -- the Dolphins provided the

1aa1ajoerapnext glimpse 'n hint of who they are last night at Carolina in fake-game dos, and lost 1aa1ajoerap2again, 31-30. I'd not be too worried, though. It wasn't much different than last week, meaning fairly brief appearances by the starters followed by a long look at the bottom-thirders trying to make the roster. This was the game that should settle the depth chart -- the starting guard spots, and whether Walt Aikens is the man to replace injured safety Louis Delmas, et cetera. (Next week's home debut, the third exhibition, will be the truer dress rehearsal with starters playing a lot). Last night, again, the starters played well. QB Ryan Tannehill was 12-for-15 for 102 yards and a TD. The few days of practice in Carolina this week were big on team bonding. Coach Joe Philbin took the guys to the movies to see Straight Outta Compton. The next night, evidently inspired, Philbin, his assistants and staffers put on a lack of talent show for the players, with Philbin on stage rapping. OK it wasn't actual rapping. It was the version of it you get from an extremely white guy in his 50s dressed like Fred Astaire. Philbin wore a white top hat and tails, as pictured from the video. Click on Rappin' Joe Philbin to see and (unfortunately) hear the short video, brought to you via linebacker Koa Misi's Instagram account. Fun stuff, actually. It humanizes a coach often seen as stiff, and the players seemed to love it. That was the point, after all.

ENTERCOM COMMUNICATIONS' STUNNING LACK OF CLASS: Entercom Communications, a Pennsylvania- 1aa1aentercombased broadcasting company, recently bought local radio stations 104.3 (FM) and The Ticket Miami (790-AM) from Lincoln Financial. The Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz aired on both. Suddenly, yesterday, without advance notice, 104.3 moved from a sports format to alternative music, meaning LeBatard and other shows were back to AM only -- without even the chance to alert listeners it would be happening. What a lousy way to run a business, Entercom.

Poll result: Vast majority following NFL just as much despite scandals: We asked if you are following the NFL any less because of its various controversies, and it was 74.8 percent "no" versus only 25.2% "yes."

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August 14, 2015

PS1: @Chicago 27, Dolphins 10 (Final): Forget the score. Dolfans should be more encouraged than discouraged. My postgame thoughts; plus why is NBA ruining Christmas? New poll. Vote!; also Fins playoff likelihood, tennis sex scandal & more


1aa1acolinbeer1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 14. Defrocked ESPN voice Colin Cowherd now has his own beer. Oh Lord how I wish I were kidding. Click on image at left to see enlarged version. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jam-packed! Mayweather-Rousey poll, complete Heat schedule, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins' next manager, latest 'Back In My Day,' Drone Racing League, Joe Goodman, MNF broadcasters list & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1abuffettHey, waaaiiit a minute, Jimmy!: I thought Jimmy Buffett was our guy!? Mr. Key West, Mr. Landshark, a Heat fan, Fins Up, all that. Wasn't Buffett assumed to be a Dolphins fan too? Well, hmm. Here's Jimmy pictured today attending a Saints practice, standing beside former Dolphins and now Saints PR guy Fitz Ollison. Say it ain't so, Jim!

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Our DSM postgame blog polls will be back for another season this year -- but not tonight or during the preseason. They begin with the regular season. 

Fins playoff shot guesstimated at 44%: Numberfire.com, an analytics site, has its AFC East preview out today (read here) and predicts Miami for second in the division behind the Patriots. It puts Dolphins' playoff shot at 44.2 percent, with a 24.4% shot to be division champ and a wins over/under of 8.4. 

THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS: FOOTBALL'S BACK!: Final thoughts--This may strike some as strange after a 27-10 loss pockmarked by four turnovers, but I'd think Dolphins fans ought not be real disappointed right now. When it was Ryan Tannehill out there, and Ndamukong Suh on the other side -- when it was the Miami starters vs. Chicago's starters -- Miami looked very good. It was the backups and scrubs who squandered the early lead and the win. That suggests Miami's depth may be suspect. But if you judge this game, as you should, by how Miami looked at its best, the night was more encouraging than discouraging. ..... 4Q--Freeman INT is Miami's fourth turnover. Ugh. ... Dolphins scrubs give up 54Y scoring run for 27-10 score. MIA has done nothing since the starters went out. ... Josh Freeman in at QB for Miami. ... Oy! Bethel-Thompson (soon to be a former Dolphin) is intercepted again, leads to  Bears FG and 20-10 score. ..... 3Q--Bethel-Thompson intercepted to put Dolphins lead in peril. Sure enough, CHI coverts for TD run and two-point conversion for 17-10 lead in quarter's last seconds. MIA safety Cedric Thompson had chance to be a hero on 4th-down scoring run but was not. ... Pandas within 10-9 as Fins D stiffens in the red zone. ... A man named "Aultman" just caught a pass for Miami. Preseason opener! ... Penalties, now a lost fumble. Certainly not a flawless game by Fins. ..... 2Q--MIA 10-3 on Sturgis 31Y FG after squandered drive into red zone. ... You know it's a preseason opener when you look up and notice your QB is a person named "McLeod Bethel-Thompson." He replaced Matt Moore, who replaced Tanny. ... True to expectations, most defensive starters now out, too. ..... 1Q--Defense looking stout, too, but what a dropoff in run-D when Ndamukong Suh isn't in. ... Tannehill, many other offense starters out after only one series. He was 6-for-7. Like a razor, he was. ... MIA 7-0: Bottle that drive. Save it for September. Tannehill sharp enough to overcome two holding penalties. ..... Original post: The Day of the Dolphin was a not-very-good 1973 sci-fi thriller starring George C. Scott. This is the Day of the Dolphins -- the preseason opener tonight at 1aa1adayof 1aa1adayof2Chicago that tangibly kicks off the franchise's 50th anniversary season. Will the Dolphins be very good as the buzz suggests? Let the hints begin, although whether Miami wins or loses tonight won't be much of a barometer. Exhibition openers rarely are, as I detail in today's latest column. Click on Results Don't Matter (Yet) For Dolphins, But Football's Back to read in full. Look for Dolphins starters to play only the first quarter, if that. I'd expect Ryan Tannehill goes one series, maybe two. Trained eyes will be on the guard play as a handful of contenders try to determine if Miami has two suitable starters to flank center Mike Pouncey. It also will be interesting to see Ndamukong Suh, in a new uniform, facing his longtime former division rivals, albeit briefly. Coach Joe Philbin will devote the first two exhibitions to settling his depth chart and roster, with an eye on making the third exhibition the first real we-wanna-win dress rehearsal.

JESUS! NBA'S CHRISTMAS DAY OBSESSION AGAIN RUINS MIAMI'S HOLIDAY: In the previous blogpost we 1aa1achristmasnbalisted the entire 2015-16 Heat regular-season schedule released yesterday. It includes a Heat home game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas Day -- a noon tipoff that will be the first of a record five NBA games played on the holiday. I can tell you from past conversations that neither NBA players nor TV announcers like working on Christmas. I know I don't. For many of us, whether it's for religious or family reasons, Christmas is a day to be home, and certainly not a day to work. Yet the NBA embraces Christmas as its own stage to a degree beyond other leagues. I wonder whether the NBA's leadership being Jewish -- David Stern to Adam Silver -- weighs anything in this league treating Christmas not as an occasion to be off but as just another play day? Hey, I'm just asking!

TENNIS SEX SCANDAL!: So Stan Wawrinka, the reigning French Open champion and world's No. 5- 1aa1adonnavranked man, is playing Nick Kyrgios in the Montreal Masters last night in a heated match and, during a walk past each between sets, an open on-court mic picks up Kyrgios saying to Wawrinka, "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate." The reference was to a fellow ATP player, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and to Wawrinka's girlfriend, WTA player Donna Vekic, 19. Kyrgios did not deny what was heard, explaining Wawrinka had been getting "lippy." Wawrinka has responded angrily on Twitter, calling for the tour to discipline Kyrgios. Vekic is pictured. She may or may not be gesturing that she has two lovers, one for each hand. Ouch. Too soon?

Updated World Series odds: Out today via Bovada, Toronto Blue Jays are the new World Series favorites at 4-1. Others sub 10-1 are Royals at 5-1, Dodgers and Cardinals both 8-1 and Mets -- the Mets! -- at 9-1. Your Marlins are a tidy bargain at 2,000-to-1.

Poll result: Rousey beats Mayweather in no-holds-barred fight: Very few of our poll results surprise me, but this one sort of did. We asked who'd win in a no-holds-barred, MMA-style fight, and it was Ronda Rousey over Floyd Mayweather Jr., 56.1 percent to 43.9. 

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August 02, 2015

The new Hot Button Top10: Dolphins, Jose, Canes, Brady, Heat, Howard, Seau, Cecil the Lion, women coaches; plus the 5 most impressive streaks in Miami sports history & more


1) It is SUNDAY, AUGUST 2. Happy new month, all! 2) Baseball history: Dodger Clayton Kershaw vs. Angel Mike Trout tonight will mark the first pitch in MLB history thrown by one reigning league MVP to another. Seems hard to believe, but pitchers rarely win MVP. Kershaw was first in NL since Bob Gibson in 1968. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' refreshing bravado and Training Camp Primer, Fartgate, Tom Brady legacy poll, Jose Fernandez, Marlins trades and Weighing The Fish & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Random Evidence: Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package.

Marlins deal Haren: Marlins met MLB trade deadline by dealing pitcher Dan Haren to Cubs for two Double-A prospects, pitcher Ivan Pineyro and infielder Elliot Soto. Haren had pitched well but was a pending free agent; the trade was no surprise.

Dolphins' uncommon optimism: The franchise hasn't made the playoffs since 2008 or won in the postseason since 2000 but its latest editon is all fired up and all but guaranteeing the playoffs in '15. Click on Refreshing Bravado for my column off the start of training camp.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 2): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (posted early this week) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Playoffs or bust! Big talk as training camp opens: Stephen Ropss, Joe Philbon and Ryan Tannehill, et al, exuded confidence and all but guaranteed the playoffs as Dolphins camp began on Thursday. The bravado was refreshing to hear, but, coming from a team that hasn't won a playoff game in 14 years, it also sounded a little like your girlfriend smack-talking Ronda Rousey.

2. MARLINS: Fernandez goes for home win-streak record Sunday: Jose Fernandez, 15-0 at Marlins Park, takes the mound Sunday vs. Padres trying to equal the MLB record for most consecutive home victories to start one's career. It's also "Bark in the Park" day. Opponents haven't bothered or derailed Jose at home. Let's see if a bunch of yapping dogs can.

3. HURRICANES: UM opens football practice on Thursday: Coach Al Golden begins his fifth year leading The U, but, coming off a 6-7 season, fan patience toward Golden is minimal. To give you an example, I hear disgruntled boosters have arranged for a plane to pull a 'Fire Golden' banner Thursday in gloomy anticipation of a disappointing first practice. 

4. NFL: Brady still fighting as Goodell denies Deflategate appeal: Patriots QB Tom Brady remains under a four-game suspension but is taking his case to federal court, which will hear arguments Aug. 12 and 19. So it's official: They truly have made a federal case of whether Brady was aware of infinitesimally under-inflated footballs that had zero bearing on any outcome. 

5. MARLINS: Fish are sellers (of course) at trade deadline: A flurry of baseball trades to beat the MLB deadline included Miami trading away five players -- starting pitchers Dan Haren and Mat Latos among them -- and getting all young prospects in return. Deals were expected, and less a fire sale than smart business. Rotation is thin now, though. Have they told you yet? You're starting Tuesday.

6. HEAT: Team makes trades, sets preseason schedule: Heat announced its preseason schedule (and thus Chris Bosh's comeback) would begin Oct. 4. Team also made minor roster moves, trading Zoran Dragic and releasing Henry Walker after earlier trading Shabazz Napier. Thanks for the memories, guys. I'd be specific, but I can't think of any offhand.

7. HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER: Tribute dinner planned for coaching icon: Miami Touchdown Club is hosting a tribute dinner for Schnellenberger, 81, this Thursday at Signature Grand in Davie. I don't wanna say Howard has had a full career, but if they detailed all of his various accomplishments, I'd estimate that Thursday's dinner would end around early October.

8. JUNIOR SEAU: Controversy overshadows Hall induction in Canton: Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct its latest class this coming Saturday, overshadowed by the Hall's decision to not let the family of the late Junior Seau speak on his behalf. Not sure which is worse. That heartless decision. Or the subsequent refusal to budge from it.

9. WOMEN COACHES: Females making sudden inroads with male teams: Three major pro men's teams (San Antonio Spurs, Arizona Cardinals and Sacramento Kings) now have female assistant coaches. Next step on the progress chart: When those kind of hirings are so common they're barely newsworthy. 

10. CECIL THE LION: Has hunting ever seemed less sporting?: A Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, is in trouble for illegally hunting and killing the beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe and now faces extradition to face charges. (See more on this below). Authorities aren't buying the dentist's excuse that he was merely trying to sedate the animal to perform a root canal.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphin Cam Wake poses with uncaged tiger in Thailand. "That was intimidating," said the tiger. ..... Marlins play farting sounds on PA system during Nationals batting practice because, well, they're the Marlins! ..... Marlins will have influence of over design of David Beckham's new MLS stadium planned near Marlins Park. Uh oh. ..... Two Heat fans spend $75,000 to watch a game with Dan LeBatard. You can have met for 20 bucks. ..... Kyle Busch is first NASCAR driver in eight years to win three races in a row, and we still don't like him. ..... Florida's two-day lobster mini-season ends. Do y'all not realize lobsters are readily available for purchase year round? ..... Beijing is awarded 2022 Winter Olympics despite having no snow. IOC strikes again! ..... Boston withdraws as host candidate for '24 Summer Games, and entire city yawns. ..... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson, 20 wins her fifth LPGA tournament. When I was 20, I figured out that if you shook a vending machine an extra bag of chips might drop. ..... R.I.P., Rowdy Roddy Piper, wrestling's greatest bad guy.

THE MOST IMPRESSIVE STREAKS IN MIAMI SPORTS HISTORY: I fancy myself a South Florida sports historian so this kind of stuff interests me. Here are my top five Miami streaks, plus a few no-I-didn't-forget-you honorable mentions:

1aa1alarryc1. Dolphins' 18-game winning streak, 1972-73 -- Four decades later it still is tied for the third-longest streak of all-time in the NFL. But it is our choice for No. 1 because of the historical significance that it included the epic and still-unparalleled 17-0 Perfect Season of '72. Fullback Larry Csonka, along with Don Shula the broken-nosed face of perfection, is pictured.

1aa1aginot2. Hurricanes' 58-game home winning streak, 1985-94 -- It remains an NCAA football record, and an emblem of both the UM Glory Years and why the Orange Bowl still is so fondly remembered by so many. That streak also is one of the reasons so much pressure finds Al Golden today. Quarterback Gino Torretta is pictured.

1aa1ajosef3. Jose Fernandez's 15-0 home record, 2013-current
-- Fernandez, pictured, is scheduled to pitch on Sunday here, and one more win would tie the all-time MLB record for most consecutive home victories to start one's career. (A major reason for that streak and just as impressive as the wins: His 1.19 career ERA at Marlins Park).

1aa1alebronj4. Heat's 27-game winning streak, 2013 -- The Heat's franchise-record winning streak stands as probably the greatest hallmark of the four-year LeBron James Era; well, after the two championships, of course. The streak was the second-longest in NBA history and ended six victories shy of tying the all-time record of 33 set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. James (back when Miami still loved him) is pictured.

5. Luis Castillo's 35-game hitting streak, 2002
-- Castillo, pictured, had the longest hitting streak in baseball in 15 years and tied for 11th longest of all-time, seventh best all-time among NL batters.

Honorable mention: Dolphins' 27 consecutive home wins, 1971-74. UM men's tennis streak of 137 straight matches won, 1957-64. And FAU baseball's 34 straight wins, 1999.

ON WALTER THE LION KILLER: The story has riveted international attention: How a Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, paid $50,000 to hunt and kill and beloved lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe. Now it seems 1aa1adentistthat government is attempting to extradite the doctor to face charges, and I must admit I hope the U.S. cooperates. Two Zimbabwe men already have been arrested. (Click here for the latest). The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says Cecil suffered a slow death, first with a crossbow, later by a gun. Palmer has said he regrets what he did, but he still should face consequences beyond, we may presume,the ruination of his dental practice from the tsunami of outraged reaction. The good to come of this: The light shone on the damnable practice of hunting for pleasure -- not for need, not for food, but for the pure sport of it. Hunters are free to do what's legal, but many of the rest of us are free to condemn the practice. What Palmer did, it must be emphasized, was not legal. (The illustration pictured is by Dave Granlund).

Poll result: Most think Brady legacy is damaged: We asked how much weight Tom Brady's role in Deflategate should be given in shaping his ultimate NFL legacy and it was 53.9 percent "a lot," 30.9% "a little" and 15.2% "none."

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July 28, 2015

How much do you trust the buzz about the Dolphins? New poll. Vote now!; plus Miami flavor to MLB 25-and-under list, Golden's schedule on ESPN 'Car Wash' today, Seau induction controversy & more


It's Radio/TV Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 p.m. on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio and Fusion TV. New Back In My Day, new Periscope both possible. Ears and eyes welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 28. Dolphins re-sign QB Josh Freeman after just releasing him, a contractual maneuver to lessen team's financial risk. 2) Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez, with a home run on his 40th birthday, became only fourth player in MLB history to homer in his teens and his 40s, joining Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub and Gary Sheffield. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Harvard loves Dolphins, Hot Button Top 10, Stanton-Tannehill and Cosby-O.J. verdicts & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Canton should waive its dumb policy for Seau: Click on Let His Family Speak for today's latest column by me. It's on the Pro Football Hall of Fame not allowing a member of his family to speak for the late Junior Seau at next week's induction ceremony.

HOW MUCH DO YOU TRUST THE BUZZ ABOUT THE DOLPHINS?: Maybe some of it was Miami being at the 1aa1ansuhcenter of the offseason's biggest free-agent signing in defensive star Ndamukong Suh (pictured). Maybe it was the long-term commitment to Ryan Tannehill, or the receiving corps overhaul. Heck, maybe it's just the law of averages -- the sense the Fins are simply due for a big season after this long run of mediocrity. In any case there is a buzz about the team this season, a cautious expectation about the playoffs. (You saw in our previous blogpost that even a Harvard University analytic study has forecast Miami to be in the Super Bowl). But I'm more curious what you think than what Harvard does. With the Dolphins hitting the practice field this Thursday for the start of training camp, who does how you feel about the Dolphins' upcoming season differ from how you typically feel? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

DISTINCT SOUTH FLORIDA STAMP ON BASEBALL 25-AND-UNDER LIST: With Jose Fernandez on the mound as Marlins return home tonight, it's a good time to bring you MLB.com's new list of the top 25 1aa1ammachadoplayers 25-and-younger. (Complete list here). After Mike Trout and Bryce Harper at 1-2, there is a distinct South Florida flavor, with five of the next 23 players having local ties: No. 3--Orioles 3B Manny Machado, pictured left (Hialeah and Brito High); No. 4--Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton; No. 6--Marlins pitcher Fernandez; No. 9--Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo (Fort Lauderdale and Stoneman-Douglas High); and No. 23--Royals 1B Eric Hosmer (South Miami and American Heritage High).

GOLDEN RUNS THE 'CAR WASH' GAUNTLET: Hurricanes coach Al Golden is run through ESPN's 'Car Wash'
today in Bristol, Conn., answering the same questions dozens of times and gamely pretending to enjoy
1aa1agoldencarwashthe experience. Theme most likely to be pounded into the ground: "The media and fans have put you on the hot seat, Al. How do you respond to that criticism and pressure?" Here's where to catch Golden on radio or TV today: 10:25 a.m. on SportscenterU on ESPNU; 10:50 on ESPN Front Row; 11:20 on SportsCenter (pictured at right); 11:40 on ESPN Digital Video with Chris Low; 12:15 p.m. on Championship Drive Podcast; 12:30 with Freddie Coleman; 1 with Jorge Sedano; 1:20 on College Football Live; 1:40 with Joe Schad; 2:20 with Paul Finebaum; and 2:35 on College Football Daily. Golden, embattled off a 6-7 season, opens his fifth UM year with the start of fall practice Aug. 6. Season starts Sept. 5 at home vs. Bethune-Cookman.

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