December 22, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.4%; plus Radio Tuesday, Fins sink to 5-9, Hot Button Top 10, ranking Miami's 25 biggest current sports figures, your Cooperstown verdict & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22. Click on Week 15 Gems for all of our NFL Week 15 picks. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot and vote, Dolphins/NFL Week 15 picks, Pete Rose verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz today, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Ticket Miami (790) and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, simulcasting on ESPNU and Fusion TV. I'll have a new blogpost here post-show, by mid- to late-afternoon.

"Would I trade Ryan Tannehill for Drew Brees, who is about to turn 37 and is five years past his prime? If drunk, perhaps." --Greg Cote

Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures: I rank the biggest-name Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers and Hurricanes, an impossible task, but somebody had to do it. Click on The Miami 25 to read the column and see the list.

Our Dolphins-Chargers postgame thoughts: Find them below, just after the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 5.4 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-14 loss at San Diego putting Miami's season record at 5-9. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Game 12: 17.3% (following 15-13 victory vs. Baltimore)

Game 13: 6.2% (following 31-24 loss  to N.Y. Giants)

Game 14: 5.4% (following 30-14 loss at San Diego)

Next poll: Dec. 27 (following game vs. Indianapolis)

G14: SAN DIEGO 30, DOLPHINS 14: PLAYING OUT THE STRING: Postgame thoughts: Man, the Dolphins just suck. I hate to say it. San Diego had lost five straight home games.  Before today. Hadn't scored a rushing TD since Week 1. Until today. Had gone 11 straight games without rushing for 100 yards. Until today. Miami has turned into the remedy for other teams -- the opponent you want to play. Very little offense today and not nearly enough defense. Same old story. And this was a bad opponent, remember. Wasted season. ..... Halftime: Embarrassment! Low keeps getting lower for Miami's season. ryan Tannehill only 74 yards passing at the half. Run game with 13 yards on 10 carries. Meanwhile the pass-D has been scorched for 203 yards by Philip Rivers. Unless you believe in miracles, and I doubt you do by now, Miami is headed for 5-9. ..... Pregame: I'll be updating the score live and be back with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the DSM. ..... Original post: God, this is what the Dolphins have become. A 5-8 Fins team playing at a 3-10 Chargers team in the only NFL Week 15 game in Finsboltswhich both teams are mathematically, scientifically and theologically eliminated from playoff contention. The only scintilla of drama we’ll find Sunday at 4:25 p.m. in San Diego is that the final road game of the year for Miami could be the last home game ever for Chargers fans, with the franchise plotting a move to new digs in Carson, Calif., south of L.A. That should add an element of emotion that could bolster the Bolts, while, oppositely, flying cross-country on a short week (after playing Monday night) figures as a detriment for the Fins. Yes, certain trends favor the visitors here. Miami has won nine of past 11 in occasional series, including 37-0 last season, and Diego has dropped five home games in a row. Also, Chargers have been held to three points in each of their past three losses. I have a hunch, though, that Philip Rivers’ offense will find its remedy in a Dolphins defense that has allowed 36, 33 and 38 points in three of its past four road games. If this is farewell, San Diego, Chargers will go out a winner, at least. My pick: San Diego, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Welcome to Miami: Basketball Town USA: Remember when this was a football town? Might be again someday. Isn't at the moment. Saturday alone, the No. 15-ranked Hurricanes men improved to 9-1, the No. 23 UM women narrowly were beaten by No. 4 Baylor 88-81 for their first loss, and Florida and FSU were winners here in the four-team Orange Bowl Classic. Hoop City!

2. HEAT: Riley denies team is shopping Whiteside: As the Heat hosts Portland on Sunday, speculation the team might trade young center Hassan Whiteside is "B.S.," said club president Pat Riley. Which may or may not be execu-speak for, "We haven’t heard a good enough offer yet."

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Six days to UM bowl game as postseason parade begins: Saturday saw the first six of 42 bowl games, with the Miami Beach Bowl coming up Tuesday and the Hurricanes set to face Washington State this coming Saturday (though without new coach Mark Richt) in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex. That’s so close to the border you can see Mexico. Well, unless Donald Trump’s wall is already up.

4. PANTHERS: Red-hot Cats open homestand: Florida has skated to three wins in a row and nine in past 12 games and now begins a six-game homestand Sunday vs. Vancouver. Yet despite all the recent winning the Panthers are on the far edge of playoff contention, eighth in the East. Man, you tough with those postseason tickets, Lord Stanley!  

5. DOLPHINS: Fins in San Diego as another disappointing season ebbs: Miami visits the Chargers on Sunday, playing out the string after Monday’s loss to the Giants eliminated Fins from playoffs for a seventh season in a row. "Grandpa, tell me again what it was like when the Dolphins were good!"

6. PETE ROSE: Purgatory continues as bid for reinstatement is denied: Banned from baseball since 1989 for gambling, all-time hits leader Pete Rose remains ostracized with this week’s ruling. Of course, the Hall of Fame independently could still put Rose on its ballot, but that’d make too much sense.

7. NBA: Cavs, Warriors on Christmas Day: It's the gift NBA fans will all unwrap together. There are five NBA games on Christmas but one of interest: Cleveland at Golden State, LeBron James at Steph Curry in a likely Finals preview. Hopefully LeBron isn't too "tired" to play. 

8. MARLINS: Miami conspicuously absent from MLB's Cuba goodwill trip: MLB made its first trip to the island since 1999 with a goodwill tour including clinics, and participants included former Cuban defectors such as Yasiel Puig. Notably, the team closest to Cuba did not participate. See, it isn't true. The Marlins do occasionally do something smart!

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis star named SI's Sportsperson of the Year: Easy to defend Sports Illustrated's choice of Serena, who dominated women's tennis, although golfer Jordan Spieth had an argument. Also, I wonder if SI forgot that American Pharoah ended horse racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought?

10. STAR WARS: The Force Awakens sets box-office records: The new Star Wars film raked in some $250 million in its opening few days. More people have already seen the film than will  attend every NFL game on Sunday. It's good for sports to be humbled every once in a while, right?

Missing the cut: Carolina Panthers go for 14-0 today. Champagne ready, '72 Fins? ... Suspended Florida QB Will Grier is transferring. Later, Gator ... Wonder how the NHL likes that its leading scorer, Patrick Kane, was investigated for sexual assault? ... NBA referee Bill Kennedy comes out as gay after a gay slur from Rajon Rondo ... Four major amateur golf tournaments are underway in South Florida ... Duran Duran will perform at the tennis Miami Open on Key Biscayne. Which would be exciting if this were, like, the 1985 Miami Open ... President Obama congratulated retiring soccer star Abby Wambach on a great career. Republicans demanded equal time, argued it wasn't so great ... Ray Rice still wants to play. Sure, because there's a lot of demand for aging running backs who both punched their girlfriend and averaged 3.1 per carry ... LeBron James collided courtside with the wife of golfer Jason Day and was assessed a two-stroke penalty.

Poll result: Griffey Jr. leads your 2016 Hall of Fame inductees: We asked who you'd vote into Cooperstown from among 12 top contenders on the latest ballot, and your top five were Ken Griffey Jr. with 18.6 percent, Mike Piazza 11.9%, Roger Clemens 10.8%, Barry Bonds 10.2% and Curt Schilling 9.2%. Based on the mentions per ballots cast, only Griffey's support translated to the 75 percent mininum required by the Hall of Fame.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 01, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.7%; plus Fins fire OC Lazor after losing at Jets 38-20, new Hot Button Top 10 with Canes, Noles/Gators, Heat, Hutton, Warriors, Cats & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30. Hope y'all had a terrific long Thanksgiving weekend. ICYMI, click on Being Thankful In These Times for my Thanksgiving Day column. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results, which are trending upward. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM bops Pitt with CSM poll, Noles-Gators and other state Collball, NFL Week 12 picks, bacon underwear & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

DOLPHINS FIRE OC LAZOR: The Dolphins this morning fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in the midst of a 4-7 season that has seen Miami surpass 20 points only two times in 11 games. The team's 20.5-point average ranks 27th of 32 teams. Miami has now fired its head coach and offensive and defensive coordinators the same season -- the obvious sign of a complete reboot and start-over for this reeling franchise. Find our Dolphins-Jets live in-game blog and final postgame thoughts immediately below the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 3.7%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 3.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 38-20 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 4- Dsm7. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Next poll: Dec. 6 (following game vs. Baltimore)

G11: DOLPHINS AT N.Y. JETS: WILL MIAMI EVER WIN ANOTHER BLEEPIN' DIVISION GAME!?: Final postgame thoughts: The game wasn't as close as the score suggests. Dolphins got dominated and now are 0-5 in division this year by combined 175-72 score. Tannehill ended with strong numbers (351 yards, 3 TDs) but got outplayed  by Ryan Fitzpatrick. And Jets had excellent pass-run balance while Miami had nine carries for 12 yards all day. At 4-7 the Fins are not mathematically out of the playoff hunt -- but they realistically are. ..... Fourth Q: MIA makes it 38-20 on DeVante Parker's 33-yard pass from Tanny with five seconds left, a final score that makes game seem closer than it really was. ... Planes 38-14 on 41-yard late FG.... MIA within 35-14 on Tanny's 5-yard TD strike to Greg Jennings but by now it's way too little, way too late. ... This has become an embarrassment for Miami. It's 35-7 now on a Chris Ivory 31-yard TD run that included four missed tackles by Fins' D. ... NYJ back up 28-7 as Marshall owns Grimes again on 3-yard TD. Marshall is six inches taller and playing like it's 16. ..... Third Q: Fins within 21-7 on Landry 5-yard TD from Tanny. Landry's 40-yard catch set up the score. ... Miami now in a huge 21-0 hole after Eric Decker 2-yard TD pass from Fitzpatrick. ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami's defense: Not good enough. Miami's offense: Absymal. The Fins with the ball have stunk. Tannehill has 83 yards passing and a 39.8 rating. The ground game has a negligible 8 yards all day. Trailing 14-0 at the half is something hardly insurmountable? But the way Miami's offense is playing make it seems so. ..... Second Q: Dolphins yield 92-yard drive ending in 16-yard TD pass to Devin Smith and 14-0 hole just before half. Smith beat Jamar Taylor in the end zone. ... Fins now 4 carries for 7 yards rushing all day. Been true all season: When Miami trails early it tends to give up on the run. ... Ugh. Miami outagined 122 yards to 35 in first quarter. ..... First Q: NYJ 7-0 late in quarter on Marshall 17-yard scoring catch from Ryan Fitzpatrick over smaller Brent Grimes. ... Not a good sign. Dolphins first two series start at Jets 45 and at 50 -- and zero points to show for it. Ryan Tannehill interception stops the second drive. ... MIA with big 4th-down defensive stop at NYJ 45, but then offense fizzles and punts. Fins were 0-12 on 3rd-down conversions in first Jets meeting, now a big 0-1 today. ..... Original post: Ryan Tannehill’s career struggles against AFC East rivals is well-known to all Dolfans and amply documented, so I’ll skip the mass regurgitation and cut to the gist: He is 6-15 against the Patriots, Bills and Jets, and his Finsjetsplay has been worst of all — a 67.2 passer rating with eight interceptions in seven games — vs. the Jets he’ll face again today at 1 up there. That includes an 0-4  mark vs. the A-East this season. That is the No. 1 reason Tannehill is hurtling toward another 0-4: His personal record on Dolphins seasons and playoffs made. None of this inspires me to venture an upset pick here. NYJ handled Miami 27-14 in London on Oct. 5 in a game that didn’t seem as close as that score suggested, and has won three of past four over the Fins. Having said that, the Planes really disappointed in losing to Houston last week, and Tannehill is 3-0 vs. the Planes at the Meadowlands. Plus Darrelle Revis out. So I’ll take Miami against the spread with that dangling half-point on the 3.5 betting line in what I figure as a low-scoring affair. Planes are 5-5 to Fins' 4-6, so both teams are hanging on in the wild-card chase and need to play with desperation here. By the way, DT Ndamukong Suh getting more outspoken and challenging his teammates is fine. But his leading by example, with sacks and dominance, would be even better. Click on Week 12 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. As a quick aside, this once-bitter Fins-Jets rivalry really misses the cartoon bluster of Rex Ryan. But at least ridiculous Fireman Ed, World's Angriest Man, made a comeback, so that’s something. My pick: N.Y. Jets, 23-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 29): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SP0ORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami's playoff hopes all but disappear in loss at Jets: The home loss to Dallas last week meant today’s game at the rival Jets was all but must-win in terms of the playoff chase. But in 38-20 loss the Dolphins became first NFL team with 0-5 division record, meaning Miami, now 4-7, has been at its worst against the teams it knows best. Oy.

2. HURRICANES: UM closes with win at Pitt, awaits bowl destination: Canes could earn a bid to the desired Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium after winning Saturday at Pitt 29-24 to finish 8-4, including 4-1 under interim coach Larry Scott. Things are looking up. The downside to that? Complaint-driven UM fans must adjust to the bizarre notion of feeling somewhat positive.

3. NOLES/GATORS: FSU humbles Florida in the Swamp: The suspicion was Florida was a shaky 10-1, underlined by last week's narrow OT escape over lowly FAU, and further verified last night in a 27-2 home loss to rival Florida State. Gators might have made it up into College Football Playoff final four by beating FSU and then Alabama in SEC title game. Now, no shot. llege Football Playoff top four.

4. HEAT: Solid defense is helping keep the Heat hot: While NBA fans have been focused on Golden State’s record unbeaten start, Miami’s defense, No. 1 in the Eastern Conference and No. 2 in the league, has helped Miami win seven of its past nine games entering four-game homestand starting Monday vs. Boston. Remember, you can't spell "Heat" with D. Wait...

5. TOMMY HUTTON: Marlins shoot themselves in foot. Again: The public relations-challenged Marlins inexplicably and without just cause fired Tommy Hutton, their popular, talented, passionate TV analyst of 19 years. You have a choice, and both options are depressing: Either Marlins management is generally incompetent , or just doesn't give a s--- what you think.

6. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: That moment we were the epicenter of the sport: UM rocketed to No. 15 but then lost at home to underdog Northeastern. Meanwhile, the Heat’s bayside arena hosted No. 1 Kentucky in the Miami Hoophall Invitational. If you blinked you missed it but there was a magical moment this week when we were a college basketball town.

7. GOLDEN STATE: OK, this is getting ridiculous, Warriors. Lose, already!: Golden State is now 18-0, a record NBA start, entering their next game Monday at Utah. They are approaching one-quarter of the way to perfection in an 82-game season. Even the '72 Dolphins are getting nervous. 

8. PANTHERS: Cats off NHL playoff pace and on the road. Oy: Florida has won only nine of its first 22 games and is five points off NHL playoff pace as it begins a five-game road trip starting today in Detroit. Is it too early for beleaguered Cats fans to starting saying, "Wait'll next year!"?

9. NASCAR: Homestead still celebrating Busch, Gordon's big show: Ears are still ringing from Kyle Busch winning the race and season championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway last week, and Jeff Gordon sailing into retirement to cheers. Gordon going out a champ would've been only thing to top it.

10. INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL: Marlins host Serie de las Americas: Marlins Park hosted four top teams from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela in the Serie de las Americas last weekend. It was the place to be for fans of international baseball . Also, for fans of hearing no English spoken.

Missing the cut: Dolphins to raise ticket prices on almost half of all seats. Think of it as a "thank you" for supporting all these years of disappointment ... South Florida not among 10 U.S. hoss cities for next year's 100th Copa America soccer ... College Football Playoff Top 4 all won Saturday. Take the week off, Condi ... Browns bench Johnny Manziel for latest eff-up ... High-school football playoffs ... St. Louis Ram Steadman Bailey spends bye week here, gets shot in drive-by in Miami Gardens. Things tourism officials don't tout in those brochures ... Miami native Cristie Kerr wins 18th LPGA tournament. Which, if anybody cared about women's golf, would be a big deal ... New line of NBA apparel for Heat bugle the alternate 786 area code, not the main 305. Please make fun of anyone caught wearing a shirt proclaiming "the 7-8-6" ... Tyson Fury beats Wladimir Klitschko for heavyweight title. A boxer named Tyson Fury. Seriously

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 13, 2015

PARIS; plus NFL/Dolphins Week 10 picks, college basketball 1 through 351, Canes' fake interest in Butch Davis, kiss Jose Fernandez goodbye, Heat yays/nays, UM hoops, Lobos T-shirt update & more

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

Friday131) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13. Happy Friday the 13th, all! Aside to paraskevidekatriaphobes: Stay inside today. Your seemingly irrational fears are not unfounded. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Missouri Tigers' biggest win, new 'Back In My Day,' Dolphins all-50'ers, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos results, SOPY standings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

GOOD MUST PREVAIL. GOOD HAS NO CHOICE: Thoughts with Paris and its wonderful people today after last night's terrorist attacks by cowards that killed more than 100 innocents. We spent eight days there this summer. What a wonderful, enchanting city and hospitable people. 

Paris

 

 

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 10: We went a cringe-worthy 7-6 straight-up last week, and an 1aacote2OK 7-6 against the spread, too. Our Week 10 started with a stumble as the Jets blew that late go-ahead shot and lost to the Bills. Click on Week 10 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Fins fall in Philly, Pats stay unbeaten, and Titans stun Panthers in Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on King Sports Middies for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with our midseason awards (including Dolphins MVP), plus a shot at Greg Hardy.

RANKING ALL 351 NCAA DIVISION 1 MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAMS: ESPN does it today, from No. 1 Kansas to No. 351 Mississippi Valley State. How the state of Florida's seven big schools are ranked: 34--Florida State Seminoles; 40--Florida Gators; 47--Miami Hurricanes; 171--UCF Knights; 179--South Florida Bulls; 266--FIU Panthers; and 291--FAU Owls.

ON JOSE FERNANDEZ, BUTCH DAVIS, HEAT YAYS/NAYS, CANES HOOPS, NHL'S MATH AND STARBUCK'S CUPS: A six-pack of quick thoughts...

JoseBoras vs. Samson and Jose's future: Scott Boras, outspoken, hardball agent, vs. David Samson, outspoken, thin-skinned Marlins president, is a feud made in media heaven. Boras has been lippy this week about two of his Marlins clients, mentioning the possibility of an innings limit for Jose Fernandez and criticizing the club's treatment and motives with Marcell Ozuna. Samson in turn essentially told Boras to buy his own team or shut up. Bottom line: Kiss Fernandez goodbye after the 2018 season. I see no way he re-ups long-term with Miami because Boras likes his guys to test free agency (where the money likely will be bigger) and Samson and the Marlins don't believe in long-term deals for pitchers.

ButchPlace bets on Butch Davis at your own risk: Anonymous UM sources feeding the media about how Butch Davis has not been ruled as as the next Hurricanes football coach -- be careful what you believe. Those sources obviously want to appease Miami fans by suggesting no rock will be unturned in the search for the best man. And, since Davis is a fan favorite, it is in UM's clear interest to appear to seriously consider him. The reality: I'm told Davis is a longshot.

DragicThe Heat thus far: Miami at 6-3 looks just like what we figured they'd be this season: a playoff team, but one that could be anywhere from midpack in the East top eight to as high as second. Encouraging thus far: Chris Bosh has been great, especially on the boards, and Hassan Whiteside continues to progress in a big way. Discouraging: It isn't the tax-break trade of Mario Chalmers. It isn't even the weird episode with Gerald Green. It's that Goran Dragic (pictured) seems uncomfortable right now. Granted we're just 10 percent into the season, but Erik Spoelstra needs to make Dragic fit.

Canes basketball, rising: UM men's basketball tips off its regular season tonight (Friday) at home vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley and, after making it to NIT Final last season, much is expected. This should be a Top 25 team that can do something in the NCAA Tournament. Also, for the first time in a long time, home games could be a tough ticket. And I don't just mean when Duke comes to town.

Me vs. NHL standings: A Panthers PR person emailed to correct me because I'd listed the team's record as 5-9 instead of the official 5-6-3 -- meaning three of those nine losses were in overtime and thus brought one standings point. Sorry, Cats, but I'm a bottom-line guy on records. If you have played 14 games, won five and the other team won the rest, you're 5-9. (Update: Team is now 6-10, or, if you insist, 6-7-3).

Maddening Starbuck's: Gawd, this story is so Starbuck's. The chain removes the snowflakes and other Christmas-y designs from its red holiday cups so as not to offend non-Christians. The political correctness that steers that company is comical. But now there's an Internet-driven thing happening which I love: When the Starbuck's barista asks your name to write on the cup, say, "Merry Christmas." Touche!

LobosTHE GREG'S LOBOS T-SHIRTS HAVE ARRIVED!: This won't make much sense except to hopefully the majority of our readers who follow me not only in the Herald and online but also on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on national ESPN radio, where I'm in-studio every Tuesday as a co-host. We have fun on the show making a big deal of my fantasy football team, Greg's Lobos, which in turn has spawned something of a national following for the team. Well, the show will soon be giving away Lobos T-shirts to select listeners. I don't have details yet how that giveaway will work, but you'll know when I do. I'm sure it'll be discussed on-air this coming Tuesday. The shirt design is shown. Why I am pictured in my underwear I have no Earthly idea. It's ludicrous. Mainly because I'm a boxers guy, not briefs.

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 12, 2015

All but done. Heat playoff chances now 1.7%; plus the new Hot Button Top 10 with Heat, zombie Marlins, Masters, Fins, Cuba, Cats, Canes, FIU & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 13. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, took the day off but will return next week. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's plunging playoff fortunes, LeBron sabotaging Heat poll, Branden Albert boxing, NBA/Cuba verdict, Marlins off schneid, Kardashian-Free Zone & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Historical SadFact: With the Heat facing elimination today from contention for the NBA playoffs, this would be only the fifth time in 21 shared seasons that both Heat and NHL Panthers sat out the postseason. Previous occurrences were in 2008, 2003, 2002 and 1995.

PLAYOFF CHASE: MIAMI (ALL BUT) ELIMINATED: The latest home 1aa1adwadeloss, 107-104 to Toronto, was Miami's ninth in the past 12 games and pushed Heat to very edge of elimination from NBA playoff race. Dwyane Wade (pictured), who scored 30, displays an expression fitting the frustration of how Miami has blown it the past few weeks. Heat must now win its final two games and hope Brooklyn and Indiana both end 0-2, after Boston beat the LeBron-less Cavs yesterday to (all but) eliminate the Heat. Four teams were jockeying on the home stretch for the Nos. 7 and 8 East seeds. Playoff-likelihood percents are updated to reflect yesterday's developments. How it looks entering Monday's NBA action:

7. Boston: 38-42, W4. Playoff likelihood: 98.3% (up 10.7) per Hollinger/ESPN. Next: Tuesday vs. TOR, Wednesday @ MIL. Note: All but clinched.

8. Brooklyn: 37-43, L1. Playoff likelihood: 76.4% (down 12.5). Next: Tonight vs. CHI, Wednesday vs. ORL. Note: Last two games being at home helps cause.

9. Indiana: 37-43, W5. Playoff likelihood: 23.6 (up 2.8). Next: Tonight vs. WAS, Wednesday @ MEM. Note: Pacers own tiebreaker over Heat.

10. Miami: 35-45, L2. Playoff likelihood: 1.7% (down 1.1). Next: Tonight vs. ORL, Wednesday @ PHI. Note: Heat makes playoffs only if it finishes 2-0 and Brooklyn and Indiana both finish 0-2.

HOT BUTTON APR. 12: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami playoff hopes now all but over: To make the playoffs now, Miami must finish 2-0 (starting tonight vs. Orlando in home finale) and hope Brooklyn and Indiana both end 0-2. That could happen. Yes, and I could hit the Lotto on the way to my blind date with Olivia Munn.

2. MARLINS: Fish staggering at 1-5 start: Team finally won Friday on a "Zombie Night" promotion as many fans arrived dressed as the living dead -- emulating their team's bats during the punchless five losses including yesterday's. More ominous yet: Henderson Alvarez may be out as Fish begin 10-game road trip.

3. GOLF: The Masters under Spieth's spell: Jordan Spieth, 21, became the second-youngest Masters winner (after Tiger Woods in 1997) in dominating Augusta. Tiger was a big story for playing credibly, which tells you how far his career has sunk.

4. DOLPHINS: Pouncey signs long-term deal: No rest. Team signs center Mike Pouncey long-term, auditions but doesn't sign WRs Wes Welker, Greg Jennings and Michael Crabtree, and prepares (17 days and counting) for the NFL Draft.

5. NBA: League to hold camp in Cuba: League blindsided and angered Heat by unilaterally announcing an April 23-26 developmental camp in Cuba. A heads-up might have been logical and nice for the one franchise affected by any relationship with the island.

6. PANTHERS: Hockey season quietly expires: Much improvement and lots to like under first-year coach Gerard Gallant, team MVP Roberto Luongo and late-arrival JaromirJagr in season that ended with Saturday win over Jersey. Bottom line, though: For 17th time in 21 franchise seasons, no playoffs.

7. HURRICANES: 10 more inducted in UM sports hall: I don't wanna say its inducts too many people each year, but if it were a country, the UM Sports Hall of Fame would be the 43rd most populous nation on Earth.

8. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Duke men, UConn women reign: Now if we can just get the two champions to play each other for the ultimate crown. Sure, it'd be ridiculous. But you'd watch, wouldn't you?

9. TENNIS: Novak, Serena win Miami Open: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams won titles on Key Biscayne last weekend. Or, given tennis' predictability ... did that go without saying?

10. FIU BASKETBALL: FIU hires new hoops coach: FIU introduced former Maryland assistant Marlin Chinn as head coach of its women's team. Which makes him the newest Miami Marlin, right?

Poll result: Most don't think LeBron is intentionally hurting Heat: We asked if you thought LeBron James resting or sitting out two straight games vs. Celtics might be to intentionally hurt Miami's playoff chances, and it was 51.4 percent no, 38.1% yes and 10.5% maybe/undecided.

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April 09, 2015

Blew it! Heat waste huge lead, put playoff hopes in grave peril; plus Heat, NBA at odds over Cuba (with poll); also Kiper's latest draft guess for Dolphins, Fins preseason schedule, MLB video starring Stanton, The Masters & more

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


1aa1awesw1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 9. Happy birthday, Mom! 2) Wes Welker (pictured), almost 34 and addled by concussions, visited the Dolphins. Gawd. He doesn't need to be signed. He needs to be told to retire. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Day poll, Heat swoon, Duke-Wisconsin pick, well-dressed animals & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NBA blindsides, angers Heat with new Cuba initiative: My latest column, online and shipped to Thursday's paper. Click on Unilateral Decision to read.

Marlins now 0-3, suffer Sleeping Bat Syndrome: Visiting Braves sweep Marlins with last night's 2-0 game, meaning Miami scored three runs in three games. The bright side? Two solid pitching performances. The dim side? Everything else. Nightmare start to the season for Miami. (Click on Another Oddball Opening Day for my column from Game 1). Perspective helps, of course. Still only three games of 162. Still, a fast buzzkill on all that hope and optimism. Up to Fish to win it back.

PLAYOFF CHASE: HEAT SUFFER CRUSHING LOSS TO BULLS: Miami blew a 19-point lead at home tonight to Chicago and lost 89-78 -- a crushing defeat that seriously imperils playoff hopes. Dwyane Wade (4-20, 9 points) was awful. An embarrassing 33-8 third quarter ruined the Heat's chances. Four teams are jockeying on the home stretch for the Nos. 7 and 8 East seeds. How it looks from here afgter tonight's huge Heat loss (note playoff-likelihood percentages are not yet updated to reflect Miami's latest loss. Expect the Heat's number to plummet):

7. Boston: 36-41, W2. Playoff likelihood: 59.3% (up 21.5) per Hollinger/ESPN. Next: Friday @ CLE, then vs. CLE, vs. TOR and @ MIL. Note: Tough closing schedule with two straight vs. LeBron.

8. Brooklyn: 36-42, L1. Playoff likelihood: 58.7 (down 16.3). Next: Friday vs. WAS, then @ MIL, vs. CHI and vs. ORL. Note: Three remaining home games boost Nets' chances.

9. Indiana: 36-43, W4. Playoff likelihood: 30.4 (down 0.9). Next: Friday @ DET, then vs. OKC, vs. WAS and @ MEM. Note: Pacers own tiebreaker over Heat, which is potentially big.

10. Miami: 35-44, L1. Playoff likelihood: 51.7 (down 3.2). Next: Saturday vs. TOR, then vs. ORL and @ PHI. Note: Heat own tiebreaker over Celtics and Nets, but may need 3-0 finish from here to make it.

NEW POLL: HEAT FACE DILEMMA WITH NBA'S CUBA INITIATIVE. WHAT TO DO?: [Link to my latest column is above]. For 29 of 30 NBA franchises and markets, this is not an issue. For 29 teams and their fans, U.S.-Cuba relations is a 1aa1acuba2subject closer to who-cares than hot-button. For one team only, the Miami Heat, it's important. The dilemma is that being involved in the league's evolving, warming relationship with Cuba might prove smart in the long-term from a business standpoint, but might prove costly in the short-term from a public relations standpoint. After all, many, especially older, Miami Cuban exiles still want nothing to do with a Castro-led Cuba and feel passionately. They objected when President Barack Obama in December announced steps toward normalizing relations with Cuba -- which led to the NBA this week announcing it would hold a four-game camp in Cuba April 23-26. Many Miami fans might feel betrayed if their team involved itself in any way on the island. Curious how you'd steer the Heat's involvement in the NBA's gradual reach into Cuba? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

KIPER'S LATEST DRAFT GUESS PREDICTION FOR DOLPHINS: Mel Kiper's Mock Draft 4.0 newly out on ESPN.com now has Miami selecting Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton (6-2, 339; pictured) 14th overall. Saying Kiper: 

1aa1adannys"The Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh, but the depth chart for the interior of their defensive line is basically "Suh and that's about it." Shelton is a different kind of player than Suh, with a far more limited ability to rush the passer, but if they're on the field at the same time it could free Suh up to be the kind of disruptor the Dolphins are paying for, which is what took place in Detroit, where the Lions had a good rotation along the interior. Shelton isn't just insurance for Suh, he's a nice complement. He's not as disruptive as sack and TFL totals indicate, but he can eat up double-teams at the point of attack and make others around him better. He has great awareness and will occasionally simply discard blocks and make the tackle himself." My thought: A possibility, but doubt Fins go for a DT.

Dolphins preseason schedule: Via the NFL today, it's Dolphins at Chicago Aug. 13-17, at Carolina Aug. 20-24, vs. Atlanta Aug. 27-30 and vs. Tampa Bay Sept. 3-4.

THE GROWING STARDOM OF GIANCARLO STANTON, CONTINUED: Money = fame in America, and so Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' $325 Million Man, is a bigger star than ever before he hits his first home run this season. The latest example: This new MLB video starring Stanton, set to what sounds like a rapid heartbeat. Good stuff:

 

Poll result: Most believe Marlins are a playoff team: We asked in the previous blogpost (you may still vote) and 69.1 percent said, yes, the Marlins will be a playoff team this year, while 30.9% said no. The yes vote was running nearer the 75-80 range early but dipped after the Opening Day loss.

Big Opening Night on TV for baseball: ESPN2's Opening Night game Sunday (Cardinals-Cubs) drew 3.35 million viewers, a 47 percent increase over last year. It was biggest audience for ESPN or ESPN2 Opening Night since 2008, and best for any regular-season game since Yanks-Red Sox Aug. 7, 2011.

'16 NCAA odds: Bovada sets North Carolina as the favorite at 6-1 for next year's men's NCAA Tournament title, followed by Kentucky 8-1, Maryland and Virginia both 12-1, and champ Duke and Kansas both 16-1. Miami Hurricanes are 40-1 (tied for 19th), ahead of Florida and FSU, both 50-1.

Masters odds: Rory McIlroy is favored to win The Masters this week at 11-2 odds, via Bovada, followed by Jordan Spieth at 8-1, Bubba Watson at 10-1 and Jason Day at 14-1. Tiger Woods? He's tied for 11th at 33-1. Check out WalletHub.com for an interesting, fact-stuffed Masters By The Numbers.

Burger-King wedding: Joel Burger is marrying Ashley King. This is a blog. So you know it's the truth. Story here.

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April 06, 2015

Another calamitous Opening Day for Marlins in rained-on loss; plus are Marlins a playoff team? New poll. Vote now; also Heat down in flames, why Duke wins, nattily dressed animals & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 6. Hope y'all had a Happy Easter in celebrartion of the original comeback king, Jesus. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hut Button Top 10, Duke-Wisconsin poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Marlins and Jeffrey Loria: I visited with the controversial team owner for my column in Sunday's season-preview section. Many still dislike Loria, but will a big-spending offseason help his image? Click on Judging Jeffrey to read.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Reeling Heat lose yet again. Outlook entering MondayA daily blog feature as one team fights to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending down in 10th place at 34-43 (L4) after last night's 112-89 loss at Indiana, 1 game from 8th, 0 games (tiebreaker) from 9th with 5 games left (next Tuesday vs. Charlotte). Heat playoff likelihood: 49.2% (down 11.3) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Eliminated. 2 games left (next Thursday vs. Boston).

Check us out on Twitter, Instagram and Vine for new pix and vids from today's Marlins Opening Day. 

OPENING DAY! MARLINS UNFURL 2015 SEASON: Update: Marlins lose opener 2-1 to Braves this evening. More calamity. Field rained on when retractable roof doesn't close in time, and soggy field partly blamed for loss. Watch for my column from Marlins Park posting online very soon. Original post: There are a few things the National Pastime still does better than the almighty NFL. The all-star game is one. Another is Opening Day. The start of football never seems special the way to opening of baseball does. So the red, white and blue bunting 1aa1agstanton 1aa1adayopeningwill be out at Marlins Park late this afternoon as the new-look, high-hope Marlins host the Braves. Miami has made the playoffs only two of 22 previous franchise seasons (albeit winning the World Sereis both times), yet optimism helps welcome this season. Countering that: Baseball remains the toughest playoff ticket in American sports, even with the addition of the wild-card games. Can the Marlins hang close enough to contention until Jose Fernandez's summer return from surgery? While we wait to see, at-bats by Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) will continue to be some of the best minute or two in all of sports. I'll be at the park today, on one of those days I like my job. Meantime, take in a dip in our poll and help set expectations for this Marlins season. Remember, not asking what you hope will happen, but what you honestly expect will. Vote and say why.

ILL-TIMED HEAT SWOON: Four straight losses now and seven of the past nine after last night's embarrassed showing at Indiana have the Heat now struggling to make the postseason (see Playoff Chase above). Miami may need a 4-1 finish to do it and has four home games left to feather the cause. That would be a a win Tuesday vs. playoff-chase rival Charlotte, a split of the following games vs. playoff-qualified Chicago and Toronto, then a regular-season-ending sweep of East bottom feeders Orlando and (at) Philadelphia. Little margin of error now. Want the playoffs, Heat? Act like it.

1aa1adukewisDUKE, WISCONSIN: GREAT CONTRASTS. COIN, PLEASE?: The unexpected elimination of toppled unbeaten Kentucky has left tonight's NCAA Tournament men's championship game without a clear or even agreed-upon favorite. Some etting odds have Wisconsin favored by one point, most have it dead-even. Duke seeks its fifth national title, following 1991, '92, 2001 and '10. Wisconsin's only previous national championship was in early-days 1941. Tonight's event misses the cheering for, or against, Kentucky to go 40-0, but it leaves us an intriguing contrast of a matchup. Duke's searing defense vs. Wisconsin's big-scoring O. Young Blue Devils led by freshman Jahlil Okafor vs. veteran Badgers led by senior Frank Kaminsky. Buttoned-down Duke vs. free-spirited Wisconsin. Badgers may have the greater incentive, aiming for a first modern-era title and losing to Duke at home in December and also in last year's NCAA semifinals. But give me Mike Krzyzewski and his terrific defense tonight.

Playoff result: Duke by narrowest of margins: We asked, and you voted 50.7 percent for a Duke championship and 49.3% for Wisconsin.

1aa1aanimals
"DEAR GREG...":
"Your blog's OK but would be even better if occasionally you would show a picture of what the world might look like if animals were of supreme intelligence, walked upright, and dressed even better than we humans do. Thank you." Dear Reader: What an oddball request!

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April 05, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Flying Fish, Kentucky's loss, reeling Heat, 7 others; plus who'll win NCAA final? New poll. Vote now!; also Loria, Serena & more

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


1aa1aeaster1) It is SUNDAY, APRIL 5. Happy Easter, believers, and congratulations, Jesus! 2) Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Final Four, UM/NIT, Jordan tops poll, Heat/Panthers playoff chase, Josh Freeman, Cuban baseball, John Wolin & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Marlins' Jeffrey Loria: I visit with the team owner for my column in today's season-preview section. Many don't like Loria, but will a big-spending offseason help his image? Click on Judging Jeffrey to read.

Serena's dominance: Serena Williams is The Tennis Terminator. She proved it again yesterday at the Miami Open. Click on Queen Serena for my column on Williams and her place in tennis history.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Double doom! Heat drop off pace, Panthers eliminated. Update entering SundayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending down in 9th place at 34-42 (L3) after last night's 99-98 loss at Detroit, 1/2 game from 8th, 1 game ahead of 10th with 6 games left (next tonight at Indiana). Heat playoff likelihood: 60.5% (down 9.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending down (eliminated) in 10th place at 36-43 (L1) after last night's 4-0 loss vs. Tampa Bay, 8 points from 8th with 4 games left (next today vs. Montreal). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.0% (down 0.2) per sportsclubstats.com.

HOT BUTTON APR. 5: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Opening Day! High hopes as Fish debut Monday: Major League Baseball opens its season with Cardinals at Cubs tonight, but all other teams take the field Monday. Here is your pump-up music, South Florida: Only the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants have won more World Series since 1997 than the Marlins’ two.

2. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: It's Duke-Wisconsin for NCAA championship: Kentucky and Duke were five-point betting picks in Saturday’s Final Four semifinals but only one of them did their job. For the previously unbeaten Wildcats of John Calipari, that meant yesterday was one and done.

3. HEAT: Loss at Detroit knocks Miami off playoff pace: The blown-lead 99-98 loss at Detroit last night toppled Heat into ninth place in East with six games to play resuming tonight at Indiana. Miami has now lost three straight and six of past eight in a season that has proved to be exciting like hanging on to the edge of a cliff is exciting.

4. TENNIS: Serena wins, men on deck at Miami Open: Two weeks of tennis nirvana in Key Biscayne end with today's Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray men's final, after Serena Williams won Saturday's women's crown with such ease that we won't even mention her poor opponent's name.

5. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from NHL playoff contention: Last night's 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay officially eliminated Florida from race. Panthers may have been most improved team in league this season. Unfortunately, Lord Stanley doesn't believe that close counts.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes lose heartbreaker in NIT title game: The bad news? UM, with two starters out injured, lost to Stanford 66-64 in overtime in the final of the NIT. The good news? We avoid having to cringe with a condescending smile while listening to coach Jim Larrañaga claim straight-faced that his team just won a national championship.

7. GOLF: Masters on deck with Tiger in it: Rory McIlroy is the betting favorite at The Masters this week at Augusta, but as much attention was being paid to Tiger Woods on whether he would play. He will. But it speaks to the shaky state of his game -- battling health issues, and after a long layoff -- that even his fans sort of wished he hadn't.

8. NFL DRAFT: UM Pro Day showcases Canes: NFL scouts raved about the Hurricanes’ talent at UM’s annual Pro Day, notably Phillip Dorsett, who ran a 4.25 40. I don’t wanna says he’s fast, but when Dorsett flips off the light switch in his bedroom he’s under the covers before the room goes dark. Seems the Canes will have a sizable impact on the NFL Draft’s early rounds. That sound you hear is one more excuse for a 6-7 season running away from Al Golden. 

9. DOLPHINS: Fins sign quarterback Josh Freeman: That was after the team gained a court order to exhume the remains of Freeman's career and conduct an autopsy for signs of life.

10. HORSES: Show-jumping competition ends on Miami Beach: A major show-jumping competition concluded Saturday on the sands of Miami Beach. I don’t wanna say those horses are pampered, but an "equine psychotherapist" was on hand. Seriously. Am picturing a typical session. Sad horse sighs as it lays on couch. Psychotherapist: “Why the long face?”

Poll result: You want different, better NCAA Tournament format: This surprised me a bit. I'd have guessed you'd go for the status quo. Instead, 70.3 percent said they'd prefer a tournament with the 64 best teams and no automatic bids for small-conference winners. Only 29.7% preferred it as is.

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April 03, 2015

It's Final Four Saturday! But should NCAA Tournament change its format? Poll. Vote now!; plus unlucky Canes, Cuban baseball, Josh Freeman, Heat/Panthers playoff update, John Wolin & more

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

1aa1aserenawms
1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 4. I'm down on Key Biscayne today to columnize off Serena Williams' presumed crushing of her hopeless opponent in the Miami Open women's final. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 20 athletes poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Canes/NIT. dead Cats, Ricky Williams sings, Marlins, Dolphins cheerleaders & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1ajoshfExcavation: Dolphins exhume human remains of quarterback Josh Freeman's career. If he surprises everybody, he might be Miami's third-string QB. If he's the Josh Freeman of the past couple of years, he'll quietly disappear by August. This signing is a low risk hit-or-miss by GM Dennis Hickey, who, while with Tampa Bay, had a big paw in the Bucs dubiously drafting Freeman in first round (17th overall) in 2009.

Cuban baseball and MLB: ESPN's Outside The Lines has a topic premiering on Sunday (9 a.m.) that may be of special interest in Miami. "Cuba On Deck?" explores the increased footprint of Cuban players in MLB and how continued defections along with warming U.S. relations will only increase their number. Click here for a 1-minute video preview.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat hanging on, Cats about done. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 8th place at 34-41 (L2), 1 game from 7th, 1/2 game ahead of 9th with 7 games left (next tonight at Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 70.3% (down 0.3) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 36-42 (W1), 3 points from 9th and 6 from 8th with 4 games left (next tonight vs. Tampa Bay). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.2% (unchanged) per sportsclubstats.com.

FINAL FOUR SATURDAY, UNLUCKY CANES FALL IN N.I.T.; TIME FOR CHANGE IN NCAA POSTSEASON?: Finally, the Final Four! Tonight it's 7-Michigan State vs. 1-Duke and 1-Wisconsin vs. 1-Kentucky, and it sure feels like the Duke-Kentucky finale everybody expects. Meanwhile, three thoughts watching Miami's men's basketball team fall 66-64 to Stanford in overtime Thursday for the NIT championship. 1) 1aa1acanesnitNobody, ever again, question whether Michael Irvin's blood runs the greenest and orange-est of any alum ever. Man he was into it. 2) Canes got unlucky, big time. First having to play without injured center Tonye Jekiri and point guard Angel Rodriguez, two big losses. And also that big, dubious call against UM with 3.4 seconds left. I thought Miami was the better team, best in the NIT. Which brings us to ... 3) The NCAA should consider retooling its hoops postseason format so that the NCAA Tournament invites the 64 best teams in the country, period, without automatic bids for small-conference winners. Let the Grade 2 and 3 conferences have their own tournament or meld into the NIT. Hampton at 16-17 gets in the Big Tournament but Miami does not? Anybody outside of Hampton think that makes much sense? With my suggested format there still would be Cinderellas -- somebody gotta be seeded 16th -- except Cinderella would be bigger, and better, and the No. 1s would have a challenge from the start, and in every round. Curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll and say why?

Poll result: Jordan top athlete of past 20 years, but runnerup a surprise: We invited you to name your top five athletes from ESPN's list of the 20 greatest of the past 20 years (that means the maximum vote for any individual was 20 percent), and predictably Micheal Jordan won. But your runnerup, Michael Phelps, was a surprise at least to me. Your results, with ESPN rank in parentheses:

1aa1amj1. Michael Jordan 15.7% (1); 2. Michael Phelps 10.5% (9); 3. LeBron James 10.2% (2); 4. Tiger Woods 10.0% (3); 5. Usain Bolt 6.4% (16); 6. Tom Brady 6.3% (4); 7. Serena Williams 5.9% (6); 8. Roger Federer 5.7% (5); 9. Lionel Messi 4.6% (12); 10. Derek Jeter 4.1% (10).

11. Floyd Mayweather 3.7% (17); 12. Peyton Manning 3.3% (7); 13. Tim Duncan 3.0% (14); 14. Kobe Bryant 2.3% (8); 15. Lance Armstrong 1.9% (15); T16. Barry Bonds 1.6% (19); T16. Brett Favre 1.6% (15); T18. Sidney Crosby 1.3% (20); T18. Shaquille O'Neal 1.3% (11); 20. Mia Hamm 0.9% (18).

My vote? In order, it was Jordon, James, Woods, Williams and Jeter.

FOR THE LOVE OF JOHN WOLIN: One of my career mentors and best friends was John Wolin (pictured), a Miami Herald editor, reporter and beloved curmudgeon for 21 years. He died in 2004 after a life 1aa1ajwolinremarkable only partly because John was born with achondroplastic dwarfism that led to gradually increasing paralysis. Long before it became politically correct to refer to dwarfs as "little people," Wolin cut to the chase and disarmingly called himself "a bald, crippled midget." He was one of a kind. He would make you laugh and break your heart. He was one of the most passionate journalists I have ever known. When we moved into our new house John gave me an elaborate set of wrenches that I still have. His beautiful now-grown daughter is my godchild. John lives on unforgettably in the memory of those he knew but also in a scholarship fund in his name at Florida International University, benefiting aspiring journalists. The fund is now accepting donations at GoFundMe/JohnWolin. Those interested in additional information may also visit FIU's Wolin scholarship page here, or call the university's School of Journalism & Mass Communication at (305) 919-5625. The man was extraordinary. May readers blessed with generosity consider finding the cause worthy.

WHY? BECAUSE IT WAS FRIDAY THAT'S WHY!:

 

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March 30, 2015

Finally, the Four! Who'll win NCAA semifinals? Two polls. Vote now!; plus Bieber roast, Larranaga from NIT, Dolphins draft, ageless wonders Wade, Jagr carry Heat, Panthers & more

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

No radio today: My usual Tuesday in-studio gig on the Dan LeBatard Show will be Thursday this week.

1aa1abloodymary1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 31. Pictured right, a bloody mary you can buy at Minnesota Twins games that includes a slice of cold pepperoni pizza in it. Just because. 2) Click on Materiality's Burden for my latest column, from Saturday's Florida Derby. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, more Madness, Florida Derby & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Terrific TV Tuesday:

  • Hurricanes men vs. Temple, NIT semifinal, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Panthers at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. (FSFL)
  • San Antonio Spurs at Heat, 8 p.m. (TNT)

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat, Cats face huge games tonight. Update entering TuesdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 34-39 (W1), 1 1/2 games from 6th with 9 games left (next tonight vs. San Antonio). Heat playoff likelihood: 79.6% (up 1.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 35-41 (W1), 1 point from 9th and 4 points from 8th with 6 games left (next tonight at Boston). Cats playoff likelihood: 6.4% (up 0.1) per sportsclubstats.com.

FINALLY, THE FOUR! WHO WINS THE NCAA TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS?: It's No. 1 Kentucky  vs. No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 1 Duke vs. No. 7 Michigan State this coming Saturday in the men's NCAA Tournament 1aa1afinalfourFinal Four. Kentucky and Duke both are 5-point early favorites. Kentucky is now a prohibitive 5-6 favorite to win it all, with Duke and Wisconsin both 7-2 and Michigan State 7-1. This is the 17th Final Four for Kentcucky, 15th for Duke, ninth for Michigan State and third for Wisconsin. It's a heavyweight Final Four. There are no Cinderellas here, not with Michigan State's pedigree, despite its seeding. (By the way, an oddsmaker friend tells me that, if the semis go as expected, Kentucky would likely open as a 4 1/2-point pick over Duke in the title match. But that's getting ahead of ourselves). Who do you predict will win the two semifinal games? Not who you want to win, but who you'd bet to win if you had $100 to place straight-up on either game. Vote and say why.

AGELESS WONDERS WADE, JAGR LIFT HEAT, PANTHERS: Was a big Sunday for our two teams angling for the postseason (see Playoff Chase above for more), thanks to 40 points from Heat's Dwyane Wade in 1aa1adwade 1aa1ajjagrthe 109-102 win over Detroit and two goals from Panthers' Jaromir Jagr in the 4-2 win at Ottawa. Wade, at 33, in his 12th NBA and Miami season, continues to verify he still is in his prime, albeit the far side of it. Jagr, 43, in his 21st NHL season, has proven an excellent playoff-push spark since Florida signed him in late February. The Heat, a current seventh seed, tries to climb to No. 6 in the East for a more favorable first-round matchup  vs. (likely) Chicago. Miami would draw LeBron and Cleveland by staying seventh or top-seeded Atlanta by slipping to eighth. The Panthers still must make up four points to the Bruins to climb up  to eighth. Tonight's game at Boston is must-win in most every sense; Florida needs a two-point victory to give itself a realistic chance. Heat also face a big test tonight, here, vs. San Antonio.

LATEST MOCK-DRAFT GUESS FOR DOLPHINS: Wide receiver certainly is emerging as the position of choice for Miami by most notable mock drafters. The new Mock 4.0 by ESPN's Todd McShay has Fins 1aa1abreshadpselecting Central Florida WR Breshad Perriman (pictured), 6-2 and 212 pounds, the son of longtime NFL wideout and former UM Hurricane Brett Perriman. Here is McShay's analysis: "We haven't had Perriman going this early in our previous mocks, but we've seen two promising signs from him as we've gone through the evaluation process. 1) His ball skills, which were something of a concern on his early-season tape, appeared to get better as the year wore on. His performance in UCF's bowl game against NC State was the best we've seen from him in terms of catching the ball. 2) He verified the speed he flashes on tape with 4.24 and 4.27 40 times at his pro day last week. Miami could use him to replace Mike Wallace as its deep threat opposite fellow newcomers Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron, giving QB Ryan Tannehill some talented weapons to work with." Perriman is the fourth wideout going in McShay's latest mock. He has Louisville's DaVante Parker, a popular choice for Miami at 14th overall, going 10th to St. Louis.

LARRANAGA FROM THE N.I.T. AS CANESPLAY TONIGHT: A complete (minimally edited) transcript of Miami Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga from yesterday's NIT press conference as UM prepared to face Temple in Tuesday's/tonight's semifinal game at Madison Square Garden:

"The first question I was asked by the media after we beat Richmond was, 'You know you're going back to New York. What's your favorite restaurant?' I said there is only two places I absolutely go to eat when I'm in New York. The first is I get a dirty-water dog off the street vendor and I get a slice of pizza. So if you haven't done either of those you need to do that because that's the best eating you're going to find. This is a thrill for me. My first experience in the NIT was actually when I was 9 or 10 years old. My brother Bob played at St. John's University. He was a scholarship athlete, played for Joe Lapchick and he brought me to Madison Square Garden for the Holiday Festival. I had a chance to watch St. John’s play and he took me down to the lockerroom afterward and I met the St. John's players and from that moment, I wanted to be a college basketball player. I wanted to play in Madison Square Garden. It’ s a little different now because that was the old Garden and it was smoke filled. You guys remember what it was like? I didn’t know, I thought that was what Madison Square Garden looked like. So, when they built a new Garden, I said, 'Where’s all the smoke?'."

"In New York is there's no place you want to play other than Madison Square Garden. My first experience as a player was in 1969. Joe Mullaney brought our Providence College team to the Holiday Festival. We played against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his UCLA team. I thought we outplayed them, really, but they snuck away with the victory. Then eventually in my my senior year we did lose to the great Carolina team under Dean Smith and they won the NIT 1971."

"So I have great memories of New York City, the NIT and Madison Square Garden. And in particular my last experience in the NIT and in Madison Square Garden was with Jeff Jones who absolutely destroyed a great UNLV team in the semifinals. I don't remember all the number of assists. I'm guessing he does. It was like 14 or 15 assists. He led our team to the NIT championship, and he carried Ralph Sampson and Jeff Lamp along with him."

"I'm very fortunate to be here. We were down 18 against Richmond and I have no idea how we came back and won that game but we're very excited. My players are very excited to be in New York, my wife is very excited to be here in New York. She made me promise to take her to New York before the Richmond game and I said you have to talk to my players about that. I talked to my players about that and sure enough they delivered."

"This is a great group of guys. I recruited Johnny Dawkins. I tried to coach Jeff Jones. He was really uncoachable at that time. And Fran and I are contemporaries. We were both guards who never passed the ball. But I will say this about our game tomorrow night against Temple. John Chaney wrote the book on how to not turn the ball over, play great defense and have your guards just dominate a game and Fran and his team are doing the same thing. [They are an] absolutely incredible defensive team. They don't turn the ball over. I think it's going to be a great ball game."

"I hope our players realize the opportunity they have because whoever cuts down the nets on Thursday night, it's going to be winning a national championship. A memory they will have for lifetime. So thank you very much."

ON THE JUSTIN BIEBER ROAST: With no sports on TV that interested me and because making fun of the 1aa1abieberexceedingly mockable subject seemed like such a natural idea, I watched Comedy Central's The Roast Of Justin Bieber last night. A few random thoughts. It was funny, worth watching. (Click here if you missed it). Bieber was a good sport. Host Kevin Hart, at his career apex, was great. Still not sure who Jeff Ross is. Or why Martha Stewart was there, aside form the prison jokes. Also, can Hannibal Buress please fade immediately from public attention and never return? Favorite throwaway line: "Snoop Dogg looks like Shaq's skeleton."

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March 29, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Kentucky, Heat, Materiality, Canes, Cats, tennis, Fish, Fins, cricket & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, MARCH 29. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Random Evidence notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Saturday, Heat in good hands, NCAAs, Miami Open, Cats alive, Miami-izing of ESPN Radio & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine (with new stuff from yesterday's Florida Derby).

Florida Derby: A close, controversial finish, a record betting handle -- the 64th Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park had it all. But did it have a special winner in Materiality? A horse that can challenge the Triple Crown drought? Click on Materiality's Burden for my column from the track. 

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat steady, Cats lose. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 33-39 (L1), 2 1/2 games from 6th with 10 games left (next tonight vs. Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 69.2% (down 3.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending down in 10th place at 34-41 (L1) after last night's 4-3 OT loss at Montreal, 3 points from 9th and 4 points from 8th with 7 games left (next tonight at Ottawa). Cats playoff likelihood: 3.6% (down 0.8) per sportsclubstats.com.

HOT BUTTON MAR. 29: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Kentucky escapes as Elite Eight moves toward Final Four: No. 1 overall NCAA Tournament seed Kentucky survived Notre Dame last night (barely) and Wisconsin also advanced to Final Four. Now Louisville-Michigan State and Duke-Gonzaga take stage tonight. Irish didn't prove Kentucky can be beaten because close doesn't count. Quoting John Calipari, "We're unbeaten, not perfect."

2. HEAT: Team returns home as playoffs draw near: Miami, hosting Detroit this evening, seems a likely No. 7 playoff with 10 games left, which would mean facing LeBron James in first round. Meantime an ESPN panel ranked Heat second in NBA ownership, third in front office and sixth in coaching. San Antonio swept all three categories. Evidently that ESPN panel consisted entirely of Spurs fans.

3. HORSE RACING: Materiality wins Florida Derby: Huge crowd and a record betting handle festooned Saturday's 64th Florida Derby at Gulfstream, won by Materiality. This is when we begin to wonder if Materiality, starting May 2 in Kentucky Derby, can end the Triple Crown drought (and think sadly to ourselves, "Nah.") 

4. HURRICANES BASKETBALL: UM in NIT semifinals Tuesday: Miami faces Temple Tuesday night in an NIT semifinal, so at least Canes are making most out of missing the NCAAs. Game is at Madison Square Garden, which of course is nicknamed, "The World's Most Famous Arena Despite the Knicks."

5. PANTHERS: Next two games to define playoff hopes: Panthers, minus injured top scorer Nick Bjugstad, play tonight at Ottawa and Tuesday here vs. Boston -- the two teams Cats are chasing for final NHL playoff spot. Win both, and Cats have a shot. Lose either, and probably not. Playoff pressure doesn't always wait for the playoffs.

6. TENNIS: Miami Open at midpoint: Tennis’ "fifth major' runs through next weekend. The unexpected early ouster of No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova has been tournament’s biggest headline so far. Sharapova normally loses in the semifinals or final to career nemesis Serena Williams but apparently wanted to beat the rush this year and fast-track her inevitable elimination.

7. MARLINS: Cosart investigated for gambling: As Marlins wind down spring training with the season eight days away, pitcher Jarred Cosart is being investigated by MLB for gambling. Here's another gamble: Miami, despite high hopes, making the playoffs. 

8. UM FOOTBALL: Defense dominates Spring Game: Defense had four interceptions to lead UM's annual Spring Game but anybody saying "uh oh" about Brad Kaaya as result is a lunatic. Little in all of sports is a more pointless waste of money than college football teams practicing in March. Seriously.  

9. DOLPHINS: Free-agency season segues to pre-draft talk: Coach Joe Philbin this week said he hopes the team's transition to a new receiving corps "won't be too painful." Man that guy really knows how to rally the troops doesn't he!?:

10. CRICKET: Aussies win Cricket World Cup: One word. Crikey!

MADNESS: KENTUCKY SURVIVES; SIX GOES TO FOUR TONIGHT: No, I don't regret the previous headline, "Can we please stop pretending anybody can beat Kentucky?" Notre Dame almost did, last night, but when last I checked (sorry, Irish) almost didn't count. Both higher seeds (Wisconsin, too) won last night in the Elite Eight, so the March Madness Upset-o-Meter is now at 19.0 percent, with 11 upsets (based on seeds) in 58 games thus far. Tonight as we reach the Final Four, 1-Duke is a narrow favorite over 2-Gonzaga, but 7-Michigan State is a slight betting pick over 4-Louisville for the seed upset.

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