April 22, 2016

Panthers lose OT heartbreaker, trail Isles 3-2; plus what should be Dolphins' priority for No. 1 draft pick? New poll. Vote now!; also 'Patrick & Zo,' homicide rates and lesson in them, athletes on 'most influential' list, reliving Prince in Miami & more

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

Passover Tubman1) It is FRIDAY, APRIL 22. A most happy Passover to our Jewish readers and friends. Also, happy Earth Day and thank you, mother! 2) Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Imagine you'd proposed that idea to her before she died in 1913, seven years before women had even won the right to vote! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): History! Heat and Panthers both win in playoffs on same day for first time, R.I.P. Prince, ESPN fires Schilling, Marlins' awful start, NBA jersey ads & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

"The national group, People Who Thought the Dolphins Might Actually Get Josh Norman, is meeting tonight. Waffle House. Corner booth." --Greg Cote

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East, the latest, off Heat's Game 2 win. Rook 1, Rook 2, on Heat's refreshing, uncommon reliance on rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. This Is the Upside, off Heat's impressive Game 1 victory.

G5: N.Y. ISLANDERS 2, PANTHERS 1 (2OT): CATS NOW TRAIL 3-2 HEADING TO BROOKLYN: Florida loses 2-1 in double-overtime past midnight and now faces elimination in Game 6 Sunday. Click on Cats Need Jagr's Goals Punch for my column from the game. ..... Original post: All four games so far have been one-goal margins if you exclude one last- Catsislessecond empty netter. In Florida's two wins Roberto Luongo has given up two total goals and in the two losses nine goals have whizzed past him, so figure defense and Luongo's performance naturally will be a key tonight starting at 8. But defense-first hasn't really been the Cats' mindset thus far in the postseason as it usually was in G5the regular season. You know how the Miami Heat are going nuts offensively so far in the playoffs? The Panthers are showing a similar aggressiveness. In the NHL there is an analytic rating that measures a team's total of blocked and unblocked shots in one-goal or overtime situations when both teams are full strength. Florida's rating was a minus-99 in the regular season, ranking 18th in the league, the number suggesting a team that tried to protect leads with puck possession rather than push for additional goals. But in the first four playoff games the Cats are an NHL-leading plus-46, signaling push-forward aggressiveness. How important is tonight? Historically in the NHL Game 5 winners of a 2-2 series go on to win the series 78.4 percent of the time. Late tonight, one team will be one win away from its first Stanley Cup series advance in two decades (Panthers' last was 1996, Islanders' '93).

Tannenbaum"DEAR MIKE TANNENBAUM...:" SETTING DOLPHINS' DRAFT PRIORITY: In six days, next Thursday night, your Miami Dolphins make their first-round selection in the NFL Draft, 13th overall barring a trade up or down. That puts Dolphins roster builder Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) in the throes of a huge decision. What to prioritize with so Draftroommany needs? Will you help him, please? I'll have a Dolphins draft column in this Sunday paper's (online Saturday) and of course will have my annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft in Thursday's paper (online Wednesday). So you'll be getting plenty of my specific thoughts on who the Dolphins should and will select No. 1. Now it's your turn. I invite you to say what you think is Miami's greatest position need and what you think its draft priority should be, assuming a player of comparable talent were available at each position. Say you happen to be in an elevator with Tannebuam. You have 10 seconds to share your thoughts as he pretends to listen. What are you telling him? The poll is alphabetical. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

PatrickzoTRAILER: 'PATRICK & ZO': Sports Illustrated has a new SI Films documentary, Patrick & Zo, newly available on SI.com. The doc explores the kinship and rivalry between menacing defensive giants Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning, who both starred at Georgetown University and then faced each other as star centers throughout their NBA careers. (Zo, of course, is the former Miami Heat star and now a club vice president). Click here to see the film's trailer: Patrick & Zo

GLOBAL HOMICIDE RATES, AND THE LESSON IN THEM: I read with interest the latest annual survey of the Mexican Citizens Council for Public Security, which ranks the world's most dangerous large cities (300,000-plus population) based on the number of homicides per 100,000 people. The dubious top three: Caracas, Venezuela with 119.87; San Pedro Sula, Honduras with 111.03; and DangerSan Salvador, El Salvador with 108.54. Four U.S. cities unfortunately make the top 50: St. Louis is 15th with 59.23, Baltimore 19th with 54.98, Detroit 28th with 43.89 and New Orleans 32nd with 41.44. Ten countries account for all of the top 50 most murderous cities: Brazil with an astounding 21, Venezuela 8, Mexico 5, U.S. and South Africa 4 each, Colombia 3, Honduras 2, and 1 each for El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica. (Click here for an article that includes the entire top 50). Forty-one of the most homicidal cities are Latin American, thanks largely to Brazil. Zero European cities are on the list. Two quick thoughts: 1) I wonder if President Donald Trump will now move to ban all Brazilians from entering the U.S? 2) Notice that zero Muslim countries are in the top 50. Hmm. That is despite radical terrorists (the most indiscriminate murderers of all) inflicting the most havoc on Muslims in countries where they live and unfairly fomenting broad-brush anti-Muslim hysteria in America and elsewhere thanks to folks like Trump. What the latest statistics suggest is that -- if you erased the scourge of terrorism from the globe -- you'd probably be safer from murder living in Baghdad or Raqqa than you would be in St. Louis or Baltimore. We can take whatever lesson or reminder from this that we wish. Here's one, and I think it's a reminder that we Americans in 2016 could use: Terrorists are murderous people. Muslims are not.

SIX SPORTIES ON TIME'S 'MOST INFLUENTIAL' LIST: Time's 2016 100 Most Influential people list (given as a group, not in order) includes, alphabetically: track star Usain Bolt; the Warriors' Stephen Curry; Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton; former UM football player-turned-actor Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson; UFC star Ronda Rousey; and golfer Jordan Spieth. OK, I guess. Each is very successful is his or her field. The influential part is open to interpretation, I reckon.

GONE TOO SOON, PRINCE: The great musician and performer died suddenly yesterday at 57. Recalling his Super Bowl halftime performance in Miami on Feb. 4, 2007, amid a rainstorm and lightning. The show must go on...:

 

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

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April 21, 2016

History! Heat, Panthers win playoff games on same day for first time ever; plus R.I.P. Prince, 'White Ho,' Josh Norman, bigot Schilling fired, Marlins' awful start, NBA jersey ads (what Heat's might look like) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 21. Seen leaving the Heat arena late last night ... what happens (pictured) when a letter in 'White Hot' mysteriously disappears. 2) Attention Miami Dolphins: Star Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman is unexpectedly a free-agent now. Reportedly the 49ers are a frontrunner, though. 3) Hope you had a happy 4-20, National Weed Day. Yeah, like pot smokers need an annual holiday to enjoy their herb? 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Youth will served and serve back (Heat's rookie reliance), Luol Deng's good work off-court, bad golf joke & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

PrincePrince dead at 57: Oh my. David Bowie, now Prince. All artists are unique, if the word is taken literally, but few stood out as more so than Prince. What a talent. What a shame to lose him so soon. I had a chance to be in his company (briefly) a few days before he performed at halftime of the February 2007 Super Bowl here. How small of stature, but with an aura and mystique -- and sound -- that filled the biggest rooms. Prince was genre-bending and to a degree gender-bending, an exceptional guitarist with a magnetic stage presence. I am already missing every song he might have written but now won't. R.I.P. 

"Nobody in the sports world had a better Wednesday than Harriet Tubman." --Greg Cote

HISTORY!: Last night was the first time ever the Heat and Panthers both won a playoff game the same day.

The makeup of MLB Opening Day rosters: In case you wondered, it was 59.1 percent White (plus 0.3 from a year earlier); 28.5% Latino (minus 0.8); 8.3% African-American or Black (no change); and 1.7% Asian (plus 0.5). The totals add to 97.6%. Our source, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, does not explain who the 2.4% are.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East, the new one, off last night's Heat win. Rook 1, Rook 2, on Heat's refreshing, uncommon reliance on rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. This Is the Upside, off Heat's impressive Game 1 win.

G2: HEATS HANDLES CHARLOTTE 115-103 FOR 2-0 SERIES LEAD AS WADE, OFFENSE STAR: Dwyane Wade 28 points and eight assists last night led the 115-103 downtown win over the Hornets. Plenty of help, though. Four others in double figures including Hassan Whiteside with 17 points and 13 rebounds on 8-for-8 shooting. Miami did not hit 115-plus points in consecutive games all season but has done it to open the playoffs. Click on For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East for my column off the Game 2 win. ..... Original post: Heat has won five straight over Charlotte in postseason dating to 2014, and the Hornets' 123-91 loss Dwadein Game 1 here offered little indication that streak will end tonight in Game 2. Of course, a leveling and a tighter came is certain. Miami was  near perfect to start the playoffs' first round, personified by Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside shooting a combined 20-for-24. That won't happen again, and neither will Charlotte's shell-shocked, deer-in-headlights effort. Charlotte coach Steve Clifford is right in saying, "Whether you lose by 30 or one, it's 1-0." So is Heat coach Erik Spoelstra in saying, "We will see a response from [the Hornets]." Key for Miami will be to continue to defend Charlotte's 3-point shot and control the boards. It also figures to be a night when Miami needs more offense from Dwyane Wade (pictured) than the quiet 16 he gave in the opener. Miami has won 10 consecutive first-round games overall and 15 of past 16 at home vs. Charlotte, so I'd bet on Heat winning again tonight, though narrowly. Miami can put the hammer down with a 2-0 series lead tonight, or find itself 1-1 heading for two straight in Charlotte. This is the beauty of a best-of-seven. Every result changes the entire narrative. Historically, though, here is the significance of tonight's result for Miami. In its playoff history, the Heat is 13-0 in a series its leads 2-0, but 10-8 in a series that is 1-1. And that sounds about right as a frame for tonight: Miami either puts this thing away, or invites anxiety moving forward.  

JagrG4: PANTHERS 2, N.Y. ISLANDERS 1: HUGE CATS WIN EVENS SERIES: Goals by Teddy Purcell and Alex Petrovic and big goaltending by Roberto Luongo forged last night's 2-1 road win that has the playoff series 2-2 heading back to Sunrise for Game 5 Friday night. ..... Original post: I still think Florida's roster is superior to the Isles', but NYI's 2-1 series lead says otherwise. Florida blew a 3-1 lead in Game 3 thanks in part to some sketchy officiating; now we see the response in the crucial Game 4 tonight in Brooklyn. Cats either will bounce home feeling good at 2-2, or wallow desperately in a 3-1 hole. Islanders haven't won a playoff series since 1993 and Panthers since '96, so something's gotta give. Troubling for the Panthers is that goalie Roberto Luongo has given up nine goals in the two losses. He admitted he was "exhausted" after three playoff games in four nights. Cats will need better net-minding tonight from their main guy or from Al Montoya to get back in this series. They'll also need their frontline scorers to get going, starting with Jaromir Jagr (pictured), who has not tallied a point in the three games. He also has not scored a goal in 34 straight playoff games, an almost unfathomable streak whose end tonight would be hugely well-timed.

SAD I: WHY DOES CURT SCHILLING STILL HAVE JOB AT ESPN? HE DOESN'T ANYMORE: Update: ESPN canned Schilling late yesterday. Good for ESPN. Original post: Full transparency: I work for The Worldwide Leader parttime as a once-a-week studio co-host for ESPN Radio on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, as many of you know. Those checks from Disney are a welcome stipend to my day job with the Miami Herald. So because of my role with ESPN, minor though Curtschilling Curtschillingit is, I hesitated to write this and will tread carefully. I love free speech. I also know that employers have a right to expect those they pay to represent the company in a way that does not unduly offend customers. I'm not sure, if I owned the Buffalo Bills, how I'd feel about Rex Ryan introducing Donald Trump at a New York rally last week. I'd feel the same if he had introduced Hillary Clinton, although it is fair to say some of Trump's views are more controversial and polarizing, and yet now the face of an NFL team is on board with all of those views (on Muslims, on Mexicans) by association. The matter of Curt Schilling, the ESPN baseball analyst, is far more disturbing. He previously was suspended by ESPN and later demoted from Sunday Night Baseball after posting a meme that compared extremist Muslims to Nazis. Schilling, 49, also has said Clinton should be "buried under a jail." Now the latest: Schilling has shared on his Facebook page the cartoon pictured, with the comment, "A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don't care what they are, who they sleep with, men's room was designed for the penis, women's not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic." The cartoon feeds the bigoted hysteria that surrounds the transgender bathroom issue that is news in several states, notably North Carolina, by suggesting it will mean predators attacking your daughters. Actually I think the cartoon might mean to lampoon the hysteria and mock the intolerant and small-minded like Schilling. In any case, Yahoo Sports reports an ESPN spokesman as saying, "We are taking this matter very seriously and are in the process of reviewing it." Schilling has responded to the outcry by blaming the media and those offended, writing on his website, "You know how I know you ‘offended’ people are full of crap? Because I’m not even close to any of the things you so desperately want me to be, so you can whine. You frauds out there ranting and screaming about my ‘opinions’ (even if it isn’t) and comments are screaming for tolerance and acceptance while you refuse to do and be either. YOU’RE the ones making it the issue." Schilling notes the things he shares on Facebook or Twitter are his own opinions and have nothing to do with his employer, but this of course is where he is plainly wrong. His description now does not begin with "former pitcher," it begins with "ESPN Baseball analyst." That's the issue here. Schilling has every right to have whatever opinions he wishes and to share them. The thing is, ESPN also has every right to not want its on-air stars volunteering themselves into needless public controversies with stances not in line with what represents Disney or ESPN. Curt Schilling's name should conjure one word first: Baseball. Instead it has come to conjure another: Bigotry.

DonmattinglySAD II: ON MARLINS' NIGHTMARE START: We're an unlucky 13 games into The Longest Season and already the requisite wisecrack has started circulating. Surely anyone who follows the Marlins has said or heard some variation of this: "Has Loria fired Mattingly yet?" It speaks to both owner Jeffrey Loria's notorious impatience and to the the club's disappointing start under new manager Don Mattingly (pictured). "Nightmare" start might not be hyperbole. The 4-9 record is third-worst in MLB. The 1-7 home record is the worst. Five of eight position starters are batting .244 or under. The bullpen has been an Amtrak derailment. (Speaking of which: Why, Lord, is Chris Narveson still in the big leagues?) [UPDATE: Marlins today/Thursday demoted Narveson to the minors] Now the Marlins face one more at home today against the rotation-strong Washington Nationals and then set out on a daunting, season-long 10-game road trip. There is the potential for things to get really ugly. Loria wanted a fast start under Mattingly. The opposite has left the Fish buried on the local landscape under the Heat and Panthers' playoff runs and Dolphins draft talk. And any attention the Marlins are getting is mostly negative. As for that crack about "has Loria fired Mattingly yet," the way things have started -- and knowing this owner -- it might seem less and less like a preposterous joke as summer rolls in.

HeatadsjerseySAD III: IMAGINING HEAT'S AD JERSEY: I have fought my quiet fight against the encroachment of advertising in sports for years. Long-time and particularly observant readers know that I, for example, never refer in my columns to stadium and arena names that include a corporate sponsor. I'll make it a generic ""Heat's downtown bayside arena" rather than mention the airline in the official name. It's just my little line in the sand. Well, now advertising is coming to the front of NBA jerseys starting in the 2017-18 season, a business-smart but otherwise sad development. Stadium names being whorred out for revenue is bad enough, but now jersey fronts? What's next, franchise names? The Burger King Miami Dolphins? How about player names? "And now batting, brought to you by Pepsi-Cola ... Giancarlo Stanton!" ESPN.com today (click here) imagines what various NBA jerseys would look like in the ad age and logically has the Heat sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines, Heat owner Micky Arison's other company, headquartered in Doral. Bright side: As shown, the corporate logo is affixed to the jersey in a way somewhat less garish and intrusive than it could be, I suppose. It's still sad. I mean, it's one thing to pay good money to buy a Heat T-shirt because you support the team or the player whose number and name are on it. But now you're also a walking billboard for Carnival or some other company, like it or not. As for the notion the sponsor's name on the merchandise might result in a reduced cost? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA! You are kidding, right?

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 07, 2016

End of Jose Fernandez's record home win streak heaps (very) early pressure on Marlins; plus Justise Winslow, UM '17 title odds, R.I.P. Merle Haggard, rat-tastic Panthers, Rock Hall poll (vote now!), your verdicts on 2 polls & more

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

Rats1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 7. Congrats to the Florida Panthers for achieving their second NHL division title in franchise history. Rats! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Night with expectations poll, Villanova wins thriller, '96 Bulls vs. '16 Warriors poll, Monica Lewinsky, Dolphins in Bogota, spring football & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Disrespect for Heat's Justise Winslow?: A bunch of ESPN talking heads are jabbering here about what NBA rookie has the greatest upside/future/potential and Miami's Justise Winslow is ranked only No. 7 on one list and No. 8 on the other.

UM 2017 title odds in men's hoops: Confetti hasn't even stopped falling at Villanova and already the 2017 men's NCAA Tournament odds are out (via Bovada), with Duke on top at 9-2, then Kentucky 6-1 and 'Nova 8-1. The Miami Hurricanes, depleted by departing seniors, are tied for 18th at 40-1.

My Marlins column off opener: Click on Out Of Excuses to read in full. I write why it is imperative for the Marlins to finally win and matter again.

JoseHOMELAND SECURITY: MARLINS COUNTED ON JOSE'S MIAMI MAGIC AGAIN, LOST, AND NOW FACE EARLY-SEASON PRESSURE [Update: Fernandez was pulled in the 6th inning trailing 3-0 in an eventual 7-3 Marlins loss to Detroit yesterday, meaning his home win streak finally ended. Fernandez struck out 13 in defeat]. Original post: The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson (yes, Jeh) happened to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Marlins Opening Night. Fitting, because the Marlins' own director of Homeland Security, Jose Fernandez, takes the mound for Game 2. The home/away disparity sports is interesting. It tends to be quite pronounced with teams enjoying a home-field (or court, or ice) advantage, but much less so with individuals. A few anecdotal examples below only underline the remarkable home/road career arc of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins' Game 2 starter today. Consider:

Dan Marino passer rating: 87.4 home vs. 85.3 road.

Dwyane Wade scoring average: 24.3 home vs. 23.1 road.

Jaromir Jagr goals per game: 0.49 home vs. 0.43 road.

Giancarlo Stanton home runs per game: 0.2577 home vs. 0.2557 road.

The differences are shades of negligible. Now consider:

Jose Fernandez record and ERA, before Wednesday: 17-0 and 1.40 home vs. 5-9 and 3.78 road.

It isn't that he's terrible on the road by any means; that sub-4 ERA is decent, and his K's-per-inning away are comparable. It is that he is record-setting, all-time-great at home to begin a career. And now the Marlins are counting on him yet again today to deliver that Homeland Security at Marlins Park. You keep counting on the law of averages to kick in, but he keeps winning here. Now Fernandez maintaining his home streak is especially important because Miami lost its season opener last night and because, after today, the Fish face six consecutive road games -- all of them vs. the NL East favorite Nationals or Mets. Marlins need a fast start this season, and that's why they need Jose to stay perfect at home today. If Jose's streak ends, this team will be feeling pressure earlier than any club should.

Poll result: Most expect Marlins to be OK but not a playoff team: We asked your expectations for this Marlins season, and votes came in before and after the Opening Night loss. Most overall, 55.1 percent, voted "average" (around .500, no playoffs). However, more voted "good" (playoff drought finally ends) than "poor" (more disappointment from Fish) by 28.6% to 16.3%.

Poll result: It's M.J. over Steph, easily: Old School won. We asked who win an NBA Finals between Michael Jordan's 72-win 1996 Chicago Bulls and Stephen Curry's current, now-69-win Golden State Warriors, and it was M.J. routing Steph by 61.4 percent to 24.6%. The other 14.0% voted "too close to call."

RockhallROCK HALL: WHICH 2016 INDUCTEE IS MOST (AND LEAST) DESERVING: Music has been and is a huge (Bernie Sanders: Yuuuge) part of my life, and I've followed the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ever since visiting it in Cleveland a couple of years ago. The Hall's 31st annual induction ceremony is this Friday in Brooklyn, and the five latest inductees are listed in this poll alphabetically. I'm curious what you think, so I invite you to vote for the one artist you think is most deserving, whether by your own personal preference or by how you judge that artist's importance or place in music history. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

MERLE HAGGARD, 1937-2016: Merle Haggard died today on his 79th birthday, a huge loss in the country music world. I was (am) a big fan and admirer. I looked forward to seeing him in concert for the first time a few months ago, in Fort Lauderdale, but he canceled days before the show. He had reportedly been in declining health for awhile. We happened to be in Nashville over the past weekend on a small holiday, and visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, which has a video that includes Merle, years ago, doing spot-on impersonations of Johnny Cash and other contemporaries. A friend with us asked, "Is he still alive?" I said, "Oh yes. He still tours!" He would pass away four days later. Haggard had many bigger hits, such as Okie From Muskogee and Mama Tried, but below is a song and video that always gets to me, and does especially today. It is called My Favorite Memory. Thank you, Merle Haggard.There will never be another. R.I.P.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 19, 2016

Your midseason grade for the Miami Heat: New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Final Four makes clear the onus on Tannehill, Dolphins; also, our latest playoff-pix results, MLK Ride-Out, Glenn Frey & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: Hope y'all enjoyed today's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz with me as guest-host. I just Tweeted out a link to today's latest "Back In My Day" so be sure to give us a follow.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 19. R.I.P. to Sun-Sentinel Marlins reporter Juan C. Rodriguez and founding Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey, both of whom passed away yesterday. I knew Juan as a respected colleague and Frey only as someone whose music was is a part of my life's soundtrack. Sad to lose both. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exploring South Florida's sports attic, Hot Button Top 10, MLK Day, your verdict on playoff QBs & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Abcd MiamiheatYOUR MIDSEASON GRADE FOR THE HEAT: The Miami Heat at midseason are what we thought they'd be. Or at least what I thought. They are pretty good, but no more. They are 23-18 and currently the fifth seed. They are only three games from second place in the East but also only two games from being off playoff pace. It would not shock me if they wound up in the conference finals against (presumably) Cleveland. But neither would it shock me if they missed the playoffs for a second straight season. So I'd give the Heat a "C" grade based in my expectations; for me, they have neither impressed nor disappointed beyond what I anticipated. But this is your poll, not mine. What is your midseason grade for the Heat based on your preseason thoughts? I purposely have not include an "F" in the poll, because, well, c'mon.

NFL FINAL FOUR IS A REMINDER WHERE DOLPHINS MOST FALL SHORT, AND HELPS EXPLAIN MIAMI'S HIRING STRATEGY: Four quarterbacks are left standing to fight for a Super Bowl win. Two Tannehillgaseare Canton-bound all-time greats in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. One is a better-than-ever veteran coming off his best season in Carson Palmer. And one is an exciting, rising young superstar in Cam Newton. The essential importance of the QB position in the modern NFL is underlined, and so is the gulf between the top tier at this position and the Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill. I explore this in my latest column; click on The Onus on Tannehill and Miami to read in full. I write why the hiring of head coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Clyde Chistensen, both seen as a QBs guru, were made specifically to elevate Tannehill's game to a point he can lead this franchise back to the playoffs, which he has yet to do in four years. (Tannehill and Gase are pictured). It is unspoken but abundantly clear: It's 2016-or-bust for this Tannehill/Dolphins marriage.

FripixNFL PIX DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF RESULTS: We were 3-1 straight-up again this week, although Seattle didn't give our upset pick much of a chance with that 31-0 hole before rallying. We went only 1-2-1 against the spread, with the Broncos pushing at seven points. Also, alas, my preseason Super Bowl pick -- Packers over Patriots -- perished with Green Bay's overtime loss.

RideoutTHE IDIOCY OF THE 'MLK RIDE-OUT': For the second straight year yesterday, hundreds of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes clogged South Florida roadways en masse for what has sadly become an annual event: the Martin Luther King Day Ride-Out. What a lunatic idea. Seriously. It's an exercise in lawlessness and pissant anarchy that sees dangerous driving and can only foment road rage as angry motorists respond. I'm surprised law enforcement has not made a concerted effort to stop this insane practice. Deaths will happen. Just a matter of time. I try to avoid the broad, sweeping statement, but let's just say anyone participating in this thing is very likely not an active member of MENSA.

R.I.P., GLENN FREY: GONE ALREADY: David Bowie, now this. So sad.

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2016

What Dolphins' new OC hire signifies; plus invisible haters inspire Whiteside and Heat, who's best QB left in NFL playoffs? (Poll; vote now!); also, our Divisional-Round picks, the booming business of death & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 16. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kiper's first-round Dolphins pick, what Powerball win would buy in sports, Dolphins and Marlins' big moves, Canes CFP title odds, Marlins caskets & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

ClydeTWO THOUGHTS ON WHAT DOLPHINS' NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR HIRE SIGNIFIES: The Dolphins today hired Clyde Christensen (pictured) as offensive coordinator. He'd been the Indianapolis Colts' quarterbacks coach. Two thoughts: 1) This is not a power position in Miami, at least not initially. New head coach Adam Gase already has said he will call offensive plays, which usually is an OC's primary task, so Christensen arrives with influence limited from the outset. 2) The fact Christensen is a QB specialist who helped develop Andrew Luck is significant. Coupled with Gase's background as sort of a quarterbacks guru, it underlines the clear objective of the Miami's coaching staff makeover: To raise Ryan Tannehill's game to the optimum level. That's it. It's obvious. It is 2016-or-bust for the Tannehill/Dolphins marriage. 

"THEY," THE UNIDENTIFIED AND PERHAPS INVISIBLE HATERS, INSPIRE WHITESIDE, HEAT: So Miami rallies furiously from 18 down and wins in Denver last night, 98-95, behind Hassan HassanwhitesideWhiteside's 19-point, 17-rebound, 11-block triple double and Chris Bosh's 24 points. It was a big win, needed and timely. The team had lost three straight and four of five, and leaders Bosh and Dwyane Wade spoke out. Wade mentioned the team's "inner dilemmas." Bosh called the team's mentality "really, really bad." What I loved, though, was Whiteside (pictured) on Twitter after the game: "THEY don't want to see a triple double in blocks and win for the HEAT," he wrote, the underline mine but the all-caps his. Omnipresent DJ Khaled, the Miami record producer and social-media hound, re-Tweeted and added, "Of course they don't, so what we going to do is win more!!" My question: Who are they, exactly? Is Charles Barkley going all anti-Heat mouthy again? There was indeed a they during the four LeBron years. Much of America heaped jealousy or hate upon the Heat. Many in the national media also were throwing shade. Those teams adopted an us-against-them mentality that was real, and justified. But now? Are they still around? Is anybody really hating on a mid-pack Heat team that's pretty good but not even assured of making the playoffs? I think young Hassan is simply reaching for the easy self-motivation. And that's fine. Funny, though. Whatever works, I guess.

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Thirty-two teams funneled to 12 in the playoffs. Now that number is whittled to eight -- soon to be four, after today's and Sunday's doubleheaders. Welcome to Divisional-Round FripixWeekend, where last week's four survivors visit the four highest-seeded teams that had byes last week. Click on Divisional-Round Gems for our four second-round playoff picks; we have three home favorites advancing with one upset -- Seahawks winning in Carolina ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on All the Reminder You Need for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with my noting seven of the eight remaining teams are quarterbacked by Canton-bound legends or current elite stars -- a reminder how the QB position is linked more directly than ever to winning. That QB-driven final eight also helps explain why the Dolphins chose quarterback guru Adam Gase as their new head coach. In the alphabetical poll below, we invite you to vote for which of the final eight QBs you'd most want starting for your team this weekend.

DeathTHE LATEST REMINDER HOW DEATH IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS: The next Billboard charts will reflect that several old David Bowie albums have re-entered because sales spike upon a singer's death. It's quantifiable. Happens every time. For now, this indication: On Monday, the day we found out Bowie had died, at 69, of cancer, his videos were watched more than 51 million times, more than any other artist has ever received on Vevo in one day. The previous, short-lived record was 36 million views for Adele the day her hit song Hello was released in October.

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

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January 14, 2016

And with eighth overall draft pick, the Dolphins select ... Mel Kiper's pick for Miami here; plus what winning Powerball would buy you in sports, CFP 2017 title odds for Canes, Fins' and Marlins' big moves, Marlins caskets & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 14. Back up at Friday Page HQ today working up my NFL Divisional Round playoff picks. Where my coin at !? 2) Goran Dragic has serious hamstring strain, will miss at least three Heat games. 3) Lawrence Phillips died in prison yesterday of an apparent suicide while serving time for the murder of a cellmate after originally being jailed for domestic abuse. He was the sixth overall pick of the 1996 NFL draft and flamed out of the league by '99. His was wasted talent, a wasted life. What a shame. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Insomniac's Dream with 'Bama-Heat-Panthers, R.I.P. David Bowie, CFP championship polls, our NFL wild-card results, your Adam Gase verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

KIPER'S FIRST '16 MOCK DRAFT: ANOTHER SHAQ IN MIAMI'S FUTURE: ESPN guru Mel Kiper is ahead of the curve today with his first NFL Mock Draft, and he has Miami selecting Clemson DE ShaqlawsonShaq Lawson (pictured) in the first round, eighth overall. The Kipe's nugget on the pick: "Lawson led college football in tackles for loss with 25.5, and Miami should add another edge rusher because Olivier Vernon is about to become extremely expensive if he can even be kept around as an unrestricted free agent. Lawson is just extremely consistent in his ability to beat tackles and makes plays." Also notable: Kiper predictably has Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (from St. Thomas Aquinas) going No. 1 overall. He has  no Canes in the first round but one Seminole (DB Jalen Ramsey, fifth overall) and one Gator (CB Vernon Hargreaves, ninth). He pegs three QBs as 1R: Cal's Jared Goff, second; Memphis' Paxton Lynch, 15th; and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz, 22nd). I can see Miami interest in Lawson. The Dolphins' specific targeted position priority may be linebacker, but that could be problematic in the '16 draft picking eighth. Two of the top three LBs (UCLA's Myles Jack, Notre Dame's Jalen Smith) are coming off major knee injuries; Kiper has Jack going 10th and Smith 20th. Another name to keep an eye on for Miami: Alabama LB Reggie Ragland.

Zamboni PowerballWHAT WINNING THE POWERBALL COULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU IN SPORTS: In today's latest column I calculate what a single winner of last night's Powerball lottery would actually have taken home in cash, and what that might have bought in the world of sports. How many major-league baseballs, how many Zamboni machines, how many Super Bowl trophies. Also, what franchises in the BIg Four sports you could have afforded to buy. Hint: There are 15. Click on Powerball and Sports to read the column.   

Um66-1BECAUSE IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLACE YOUR BETS, THAT'S WHY: Fans in Tuscaloosa haven't even sobered up yet but the betting odds are out for the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship, via Bovada. Alabam is the favroite to repeat at 7-1, a half-tick ahead of the team it just best, Clemson, at 15-2. Then it's a trio at 12-1: Baylor, Michigan and Ohio State. Looking to our peninsula, Florida State Seminoles are 10th at 16-1, Florida Gators are tied for 14th at 33-1, and Miami Hurricanes are tied for 30th at 66-1. A big-time coach hire in Mark Richt and a returning star quarterback in Brad Kaaya obviously have not raised the estimation of UM all that much, although I'd be surprised if that 66-1 didn't fall as the seasons nears.

ON DOLPHINS' AND MARLINS' BIG MOVES: Fins: Gase fills in staff: New coach Adam Gase this week completed most of his staff, notably including the hiring of defensive coordinator Vance Vancejoseph ChenJoseph, who' d been the Bengals defensive backs coach. Joseph (pictured left) has not been a coordinator before, just as Gase has not been a head coach before, so both must earn our faith. It isn't given. As I first wrote after the Gase hiring (before it apparently became trendy and was seen echoed elsewhere): "Prove you can fix all of this, and you’ll be a conquering hero. But prove it first, please, because we have been here before, seen this, done this. Another news conference proclaiming another culture. Another declaration how they got the right coach this time. Don’t tell me [again] how it’s different this time. How this is the right coach and the winning is at hand. Do it first. Win. Then talk to me." Fish: Team extends Gordon, signs Chen and two others: Wei-Yin Chen (pictured right) is a legit starter, the likely No. 2 after Jose Fernandez, leaving only 3-through-5 in the rotation to worry about (!). Edwin Jackson may get a shot to resurrect his career as a starter or appear in middle relief. Chris Johnson will be a utility guy as a corner infielder. None of these additions is a difference maker, although the Chen signing is significant. Also, extending second baseman Dee Gordon's contract by five years and $50 million is big. Gordon, NL batting champion, is one of the few things that went right for the Fish last season, and he's a cornerstone moving forward.

MarlinscasketSLIP INTO A MIAMI MARLINS CASKET: Have a loved one dying to prove for all eternity that he or she is the ultimate Marlins fan? Then here is the perfect parting gift. Yes, there are MLB-licensed caskets, and the Marlins version is pictured. For a mere $2,559 (available at Walmart, of all places), your loved one can rest in peace with a Marlins logo embossed in satin staring him or her in the face as the casket is lowered into the earth. Talk about a fitting tribute. Also buried in a Marlins casket: the team's playoff hopes, most seasons.

Poll results: You predicted Alabama, but wanted Clemson: In separate polls we asked who you predicted to win the CFP national-championship game and it was 56.2 percent Alabama. We asked who you wanted to win and it was 84.2% Clemson. Clearly, the Saban Effect at work.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 12, 2016

Insomniac's Dream: Epic Alabama-Clemson, Heat-Golden State, Panthers streak in the Tuesday wee hours; plus R.I.P. David Bowie, my NFL playoff pix results, your verdict on Dolphins' Gase hiring & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 12. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins hire Gase with reaction poll, Hot Button Top 10, NFL wild-card picks, Cooperstown verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my regular Tuesday gig with the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and also airing on TV on ESPNU and Fusion.

INSOMNIAC'S DREAM: 'BAMA, HEAT AND CATS IN THE TUESDAY WEE HOURS: I spent the first hour of this morning watching Nick Saban almost smile, watching the end of the Panthers' 12-game hockey winning streak, and watching Heat lose gamely in Golden State -- all the while facing a 6:30 alarm to get to South Beach for today's radio show. So if I sound even more delirious than usual on-air today you'll know why... 12:22 a.m.: Alabama finishes 45-40 national-championship win over Clemson. Glad I bet the way-over. I'm not sure if Clemson collapsed or if Alabama's 24-9 fourth quarter was the stuff of greatness. I do know it was a wholly enteraining, nearly epic game. Afterward a typically stoic, naturally angry loooking Saban was coaxed into a smile by a sideline reporter. There was a rusty creaking sound, an emission of hell's gasses and then the release of screeching bats as Saban's lips parted... 12: 41 a.m.: Panthers end 12-game win streak with 3-2 overtime loss in Vancouver. Seconds after game ended the winning goal-scorer skated past the Panthers bench, said something, and a melee ensued. A chaotic scene that even involved coaches. Then it was repoted Cats coach Gerard Gallant waas flying immediately to attend his mother's funeral. It may have ended in ugliness and death, but what a marvelous run the Panthers have been on... 12:53 a.m.: Heat fall 111-103 in Golden State: Miami played very well, had 31 assists as a team, showed an ability to lift its collective game. Dwyane Wade played young. And yet Steph Curry is unstoppable and the champion Warriors are a cut above. No shame in a loss like this. 6:53 a.m.: I better put a bow on this blog item and hit the road or I'll never get to SoBe in time.

AlabamaclemsonALABAMA VS. CLEMSON: YOUR MONEY VS. YOUR HEART: (Note, These polls were posted early yesterday, before the game) No. 2-ranked but favored Alabama faces unbeaten No.1 Clemson tonight for the second College Football Playoff national championship in Glendale, Ariz. I offer to quick polls because I suspect the results may be different. The first poll asks who you think will win. This is your money talking. If you're betting the game, straight-up, and need to choose either the Crimson Tide or Tigers, who would you predict to win? The second poll asks who you want to win. This is your heart talking. Which team would you more like to see celebrating around midnight tonight? We invite your thoughts on both questions.

R.I.P., DAVID BOWIE, 1947-2016: One of the most fascinating cultural figures of our time passed away on Sunday after an unpublicized 18-month fight Bowie1 Bowie2with cancer. David Bowie had turned 69 three days earlier. He leaves us with a soon-to-be-released new album, Blackstar, that was recorded as he knew he was dying and is darkly reflective of that. Bowie's career, music but also acting, defied convention and definition. Others of his time in pop music, such as Elton John, enjoyed more mainstream, commercial success. But Bowie won critics' hearts with his lack of convention, his experimentation, his theatrics. He was The Thin White Duke, and Ziggy Stardust. He was glam, he was androgynous, he was relentlessly fascinating. How many times, and how loudly, did I blast "Rebel, Rebel." Bowie was a big part of my personal soundtrack through the years. I have much of his music, spanning decades, in my collection. I regret I never saw him perform live. I'll miss him. I think I already do.

 

FripixNFL PIX WILD-CARD PLAYOFF RESULTS: We caught a break or two to finish 3-1 overall on our first-round NFL playoff picks. (Thank you, Blair Walsh). But we went only 1-3 against the spread. We gambled big and lost big thinking Texans, at home, would surprise Chiefs. Instead it was the weekend's biggest rout going in the opposite (for me the wrong) direction. My preseason Super Bowl pick -- Packers over Patriots -- remains alive with both of my dogs still in the hunt as playoffs move forward down from 12 teams to eight.

Poll result: Dolphins' Gase hiring met with mostly dislike, but with warming trend: We asked what you thought of the Dolphins hiring Adam Gase as head coach (you may still vote), and it was "love" 9.7 percent, "like" 32.6%, "don't like" 40.5% and "hate" 17.2%. That's negative beating positive 57.7%  to 42.3%. However, it is notable that the negative percentage was running around 64-36 initially, when the hiring first was reported as imminent and then just happened. Voting was closer to 50-50 in the second wave, after Gase was introduced and fans had a chance to hear from him and from others about him.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 24, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.8%; plus Miami falls to Cowboys, new Hot Button Top 10 (uypdated), Kyle Busch wins NASCAR crown at Homestead, UM hoops' big win & more

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

JFK1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22. See previous blogpost for results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 2) Fifty-two years ago yesterday, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Pray for Paris and for peace on Earth, but remember JFK, too. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes host Georgia Tech with CSM poll, other state Collball, UM next-coach verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Hurricanes men's basketball rockets from unranked to No. 15 today in new Associated Press poll.

Gordon's career trumps Busch's crown at Homestead: Click on End of the Rainbow for my column from the racetrack on Jeff Gordon, who ran his final NASCAR race at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 3.8 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 24-14 home loss to Dallas putting Miami's season record at 4-6. 1aadsm
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 6:15 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)

Next poll: Nov. 29 (following game at N.Y. Jets)

G10: DALLAS 24, DOLPHINS 14: NOT ENOUGH OFFENSE AS MIAMI PLAYOFF HOPES TAKE A HIT: Final thoughts: Miami falls to 4-6 and sees its wild-card hopes take a hit today because of a reason that has been common this season: Too little offense. Two touchdowns won't win many games, especially when your QB, Ryan Tannehill, gives the other team six free points on a pick-six interception. The result was fair. Miami was dominated in many ways, in total yards 386-210 and in first downs 22-9. The Fins converted only one of 10 third downs. A disappointing home loss in what had (in terms of betting odds) been a dead-even game going in. ..... Halftime: A mostly absymal first half by Miami in rainy Miami, but sunshine beamed in on the Fins late. Team doing nothing offensively until the final drive, when Ryan Tannehill's 47-yard strike to Jarvis Landry set up a 12-yard TD throw to Jordan Cameron. Defense doing OK. Only has given up one TD, considering Tanny's pick-six accounts for half of Dallas' points. ..... Note: I'm writing from NASCAR in Homestead today but will be updating Dolphins score live throughout today's game and be back with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the posting of the new DSM poll. ..... Original post: Isn't often two teams with a combined record of 6-12 present a game as tasty as this one. Miami at 4-5 doesn't enjoy much margin of error, so call today a must-win for the Dolphins, realistically if not literally. The Dolcowopponent, despite its sorry record, arrives dangerously revitalized by the return from injury of its star, and brings with it the swagger of "America's Team" and its many fans. It will be very difficult today for the Dolphins to sack Tony Romo on account of that hero’s white steed he’s riding in on. They’ll have to tackle the horse, too, I guess. Dallas went a season-ruining 0-7 with their QB out with a broken collarbone but gets him back just in Romotantime for Miami. Romo has not shied from portraying himself in the savior’s robe, even knowing Dallas likely must finish on a 7-0 run for a playoff shot. This week he tweeted the scene from the movie Major League with the line, "Well, then I guess there’s only one thing left to do … win the whole [bleep]ing thing." A 2-7 team on the road with an even betting line further indicates Joe Public is buying into the Romo-savior myth. It won’t happen, though. Dallas won’t make the playoffs. I doubt they’ll win today, either. I see a pumped-up, sold-out crowd fomenting a palpable home-field advantage and inspiring a big, emotional effort from the Dolphins. Miami is the first NFL team since the 1970 merger to play in its home stadium only twice in the first 10 weeks. That and the marquee opponent should have Joe Robbie’s place rocking for Dallas’ first regular-season visit since 2007. These may be two teams with losing records, but it still feels like an "event" game. Adding to that: Don Shula, flanked by Bob Griese and Dan Marino, will be presented a special Hall of Fame ring in a halftime ceremony today. Key to the Fins winning will be much better pass defense than we’ve seen the past three games. A particular concern today is a depleted linebacking corps vs. Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. But between Brent Grimes’ return and Romo’s rust, I see the big home crowd leaving happy. My pick: Dolphins, 27-23.

KYLE BUSCH WINS RACE, SEASON TITLE BUT IT'S JEFF GORDON'S DAY AT HOMESTEAD: Update: Kyle Busch wins NASCAR season Sprint Cup championship by finishing ahead of the three other qualifiers for the title. Busch won the race, with Kevin Harvick second, sentimental favorite Jeff Gordon sixth, and Martin Truex Jr. 12th. The night was about the season crown, and whether Gordon, in his last race, could write the perfect ending to his storied career. Original post: I'm down at Homestead-Miami Speedway today columnizing on NASCAR's Championship Sunday, because it is an event of greater national scope than the Dolphins-Cowboys game (and will draw a bigger crowd, too). It is bigger than even a typical Sprint Cup finale, because this one is Jeff Gordon's farewell ride before retiring to the TV booth. Gordon (pictured), defending series champ Kevin Harvick, bad-boy Kyle Busch and designated-underdog Martin Truex Jr. are the four drivers in the full field who'll be competing for the season title, a great mix. My preview column, online and in today's Miami Herald print editions, focuses on the 20th anniversary of the Homestead racetrack and how its origin helped lift a city from the ravages of Hurricane Andrew. Today's race is big. What this track meant and means to Homestead is bigger. Click on Saving A City to read the column in full. Race starts at 3, presuming good weather. Rain, rain, stay away. Vroooom!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 22): WHAT 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NASCAR: Kyle Busch wins season crown, Gordon bids farewell at Homestead: Imagine. Jeff Gordon, set to retire, runs his final race and in it dramatically wins his fifth NASCAR title and first since 2001. If only. Kyle Busch won it all Sunday night to deny Gordon the perfect ending to his career.

2. DOLPHINS: Miami falls to Romo, Cowboys: Tony Romo played Sunday for first time since Sept. 20 as "America's Team" came to town in a rare visit — Dallas was last here in 2007. Lots of hoopla. Almost forgot. Fins needed to win to bolster fading playoff hopes. They did not, falling 24-14.

3. HEAT: Whiteside's Block Party highlights early season: Miami avoiding a loss to winless Philly Saturday allows us to spotlight sensation Hassan (Sultan of Swat) Whiteside, whose 58 blocked shots in 12 games are on pace to be NBA's highest per-game average since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1989-90. 

4. HURRICANES: UM whips Georgia Tech in home finale: As UM searches for its next coach, there is plenty left to play for. Saturday's 38-21 win over Georgia Tech and this Friday at Pitt will determine whether Canes are invited to a bowl game you don't care about or one you barely care about.

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes win Puerto Rico tournament: Big week for UM hoops. The 2016 recruiting class added two big prizes, and Canes beat No. 22 Butler last night 85-75 in final of Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament after earlier beating No. 16 Utah 90-66. Canes now 5-0 and up to No. 15 in AP poll. Hey, can Jim Larrañaga coach the football team, too!?

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Ohio State loss shakes up the CFP: College Football Playoff will have a new-look top four after Ohio State's loss Saturday. The national group, People Who Feel Sorry For Urban Meyer, is meeting tonight. Waffle House. Corner booth.

7. FAU: Almost as lowly Owls take Gators to OT: Top-ten Florida would prevail 20-14 in overtime Saturday but it was a Swamp scare from now 2-8 Florida Atlantic. I'm not big on moral victories/good losses, but this performance by Owls was bigger than any win in program history.

8. PANTHERS: Trying to keep the faith at the quarter mark: Roughly one-fourth into the NHL season, Florida has played 20 games and won eight entering Monday's date with the L.A. Kings here. Cats not currently on playoff pace. Or, by now, did that go without saying?

9. MARLINS: Jose Fernandez trade rumors swirling: Much media speculation lately about Marlins shopping ace Jose Fernandez, as well as reports he has an attitude problem. Of course it would make no sense to trade Fernandez for at least two more seasons. Then again, these are the Marlins.

10. SOCCER: Latest 'El Clasico' chapter a rout: Barcelona thumps Real Madrid 4-0 Saturday in an El Clasico rout being seen as exemplifying "team" triumphing over "individuals." The three times many Americans pay attention to soccer: World Cup, Olympics, Barca-Real.

Missing the cut: Miguel Cotto vs. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for middleweight title. Smart on that nickname. Fighters named Saul don't scare anybody ... Steph Curry and Golden State improve to 15-0 ... FIU loses finale, misses bowl eligibility ... Fort Lauderdale Strikers fire coach Gunter Kronsteiner. Again. Who owns that team? Jeffrey Loria? ... MLB post-season awards ... David Ortiz to retire after '16 season ... Florida Sports Hall of Fame inductees ... Track & Field governing body suspends Russia for doping. Shocker!

Revisit our 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

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

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.

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September 23, 2015

Heat's immediate future rated as bright; plus NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos updates, R.I.P. Yogi Berra, Dolphins' 1st 5 on 50th all-time team, newest in Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Fins' biggest problem, SOPY Week 3 standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. R.I.P., Yogi Berra, 90. [Insert malaprop]. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, which are even sadder than you might have imagined. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose at Jacksonville with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, The Hot List & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Ndamukong Suh column: In my latest column I explore the early heat finding Dolphins megamillionaire Ndamukonh Suh. Click on There Are Greater Concerns. The heat is misplaced. Suh's had two quiet games, but Miami has greater problems at 1-1, such as a disappearing ground game, shaky-at-times defense overall and bonehead penalties. Oh, and a brutal divison. New England we know, Buffalo proved Sunday it can play with the Patriots, then, Monday night, the New York Jets' defense dominated Andrew Luck. Better play from Suh had better be just the start of all the getting-better the Dolphins do.

HEAT RANKED 6TH IN NBA 'FUTURE POWER RANKINGS': ESPN's latest annual Future Power Rankings, a guesstimate projection of how each NBA team will fare on the court over the next three seasons, has 1aa1aheat1516Miami at No. 6 (up from ninth a year ago), trailing only Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland, Chicago and Houston. The Worldwide Leader's synopsis of Miami: "The Heat face a fascinating next 12 months. Miami has just four players under guaranteed contract beyond this season: guard Goran Dragic and forwards Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and (rookie) Justise Winslow. The Heat could clear significant cap space next summer -- or be completely capped out by re-signing unrestricted free agents Dwayne Wade and Hassan Whiteside. (Dragic and Wade are pictured). Whiteside presents a particularly thorny issue. The Heat will only have Whiteside's Early Bird rights, meaning Miami will have to dip into its cap space to re-sign him for more than the mid-level exception. Then again, Whiteside could regress and not be worth even that. We wouldn't trust everyone to manage an aging roster with so many question marks, but Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have earned the benefit of the doubt. And South Beach will always be a draw for players like Dragic, who left money on the table to re-sign this summer." Miami opens its 2015-16 pre-season with media day this coming Monday, following by training camp at FAU in Boca Raton.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2: We update you briefly every week on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Pix: Rough 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosweek: Stumbled at 7-9 overall with a slight bump to 8-8 against the spread. Called outright upsets by Broncos and Browns and had two other 'dogs-with-points in Redskins and Cowboys but not enough else went right. Lobos / family league: Tough loss: The original Lobos scored OK but lost 142-123 to fall to 1-1, despite 28 points from Odell Beckham, 27 from Torrey Smith and 19 from Adrian Peterson. Drew Brees (12) is letting me down and now banged up. Lobos / radio-show league: Ugh. Ouch: The new Lobos lost 111.8-93.1, dropping to 0-2. Got 28.7 from Emmanuel Sanders and then a whole lotta nuthin. Still  might have pulled it out Monday with a big game by Andrew Luck, but you saw how that went.

DOLPHINS ANNOUNCE FIRST 5 ON 50TH ALL-TIME TEAM: The Dolphins are gradually announcing their Top 50 all-time players in conjunction with this season's Golden Anniversary, and the first five announced today are safety Dick Anderson, receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, receiver O.J. McDuffie and safety Jake Scott. The "Marks Brothers" and safety tandem are no-brainers. McDuffie I think is deserving but wasn't, for me, the sure thing the other four were. The 50 were selected by fans, team alumni, local media and a "select blue ribbon panel." Five on the team will be announced each week starting with this. The entire team will be honored on the Dec. 14 home game vs. the Giants.

FLORIDA SPORTS HALL OF FAME ADDS NINE: The 54-year-old Florida Sports Hall of Fame will add nine new members, announced this week, in a Nov. 17 ceremony at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, (incredibly) the first time the group has held an induction in South Florida. Newest hall members alphabetically are: Longtime UM diving coach Randy Abelman, Ex-Hurricanes football star Bennie Blades, bowling hall of famer Paula Carter, "Mr. Marlin" Jeff Conine, former champion Bucs coach Tony Dungy, the late broadcaster Sonny Hirsch, the jai-alai champion Joey (Cornblit), Dolphins legend Zach Thomas and one-time Panthers goaltender John Vanbeisbrouck.

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH VAULTS TO NO. 1: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State 1aa1asopy 1aa1aalexmcgOffensive Player of the Year -- are underway and FIU quarterback Alex McGough (pictured) is our new Week 3 leader. SOPY does not discriminate. The smaller-school guys have a chance! 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. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 for Week 3:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 3

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W3        Season

1 (2)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         216       536.5

2 (1)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             57         522

3 (3)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       136        445

4 (9)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           192.5    434.5

5 (4)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb    127       391

6 (10)        Will Grier, Florida-qb           129.5     370 

7 (5)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb             75        338

8t (--)        Alex Gardner, rb-FIU             93        318

8t (3)        Everett Golson, FSU-qb         70.5       318

10 (--)       Marlon Mack, rb-SoFla           78         313

Bubble: Thomas Owens, wr-FIU, 304. Other team leader: Jordan Akins, UCF-wr, 164. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: All teams 2 games each. Past SOPY champions: 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb.

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

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