January 30, 2016

What sport has best (or least awful) All-Star Game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dan Marino's new Super Bowl ad (with video), runners who make marathons an unhealthy obsession, '72 Dolphins lose again, control-freak LeBron & more

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

Phelps1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 30. How great is this? Champion swimmer Michael Phelps, wearing Speedos and his Olympic medals, joined Arizona's State's "Curtain of Distraction" at a basketball game last night. 2) Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane guitarist and founding member, dead at 74. Man, all the old rockers are peeling away. 3) ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for the Fusion TV/LeBatard Show spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost: Canes '16 football schedule analysis, '72 Dolphins finally lose, UM basketball and baseball, #WomenNotObjects, activities book for Satanic children & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Anybody but me noticed that Heat limited partner Raanan Katz's name is pronounced 'rainin' cats'?" --Greg Cote

Word of the day: anorak: British slang for someone obsessively interested in something that doesn't seem to merit such attention. Example: "He's a bloody anorak for running those marathons, isn't he?"

Lust for power, control is who LeBron is: That's the theme of my recent column; click Chosen And In Charge to read. Email reaction has seen Heat fans generally loving the column and others (read: Clevelanders) not so much. I don't consider the column pro-Heat or anti-LeBron. I'm simply exploring how everything about LeBron's career makes believable the prevailing idea he had a hand in David Blatt's firing, and plausible the report that he also maneuvered to see Erik Spoelstra removed while in Miami.

IT'S ALL-STAR GAME SEASON, UNFORTUNATELY: Today's latest column by me centers on All-Star Game Season, with the NFL Pro Bowl and NHL All-Star Game both Sunday and the NBA's ASG Nflpb
Nhlasg Nbaasg  Mlbasgtwo weeks later. The NBA has the best of those three, though that's faint praise. Baseball's July Midsummer Classic gets it closest to right, because of tradition and the fact the game matters. The Pro Bowl to me is the worst of them all -- mainly because the players themselves don't give a s---. In the other three sports players are honored to participate. Football players actively dream up reason to avoid the game, as I detail in the column. Click on The All-Star Shame to read in full. The poll asks you which of the big-four all-star games you think is the best one, although I could as easily have worded the question, "Which is the least bad." In this poll I challenge you to separate which sport you may prefer from which league presents its all-stars best.

Dolphins in 2016 NFL Pro Bowl: C Mike Pouncey was team's only actual, originally chosen all-star but will not play because of an alleged injury. Replacement players (quasi-Pro Bowlers) are OT Branden Albert and S Reshad Jones (Team Irvin) and WR/KR Jarvis Landry and CB Brent Grimes (Team Rice).

Panthers in 2016 NHL All-Star Game: F Jaromir Jagr won a fan vote to be Atlantic Division captain, and D Aaron Ekblad and G Roberto Luongo join him on team. Gerad Gallant will coach Atlantic team via Cats' first-place division standing.

Heat in 2016 NBA All-Star Game: G Dwyane Wade was voted in as an Eastern Conference starter. F Chris Bosh was selected as a reserve.

Marlins in 2015 MLB All-Star Game: OF Giancarlo Stanton and 2B Dee Gordon made the team.

DAN MARINO'S NEW SUPER BOWL AD: The Dolphins great and actor Alec Baldwin star in an upcoming Super Bowl ad for Amazon Echo. If you don't know it, Amazon Echo goes by the nickname, "Blatant Ripoff of Apple's Siri." Cute ad, though. Here it is:

  

RunningTHE UNHEALTHINESS OF IT WHEN RUNNING BECOMES AN OBSESSION: I've seen a couple of recent instances in my own newspaper. We in the media cover and write laudingly of people who have made a lifestyle of running marathons, of running in general, without noting how strange it is, and how unhealthy it seems Running4from a mental standpoint when that practice evolves into an overriding obsession. One was the story of a 71-year Texas man who made the Miami Marathon the 1,606th he had competed in. Another was the story of a 35-year-old Massachusetts woman in the process of running in seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Both of those instances are wonderful to some, but weird to others of us. I wonder if the running-obsessed are able to step back and see what others see. The story on the woman noted she was a single mother. Hmm. I wonder why. Him: "Honey, can you take a few days off from that? I never see you anymore!" Her: "Love to chat, Bill, but I'm in training and need to get in 100 miles today." There is an inherent selfishness to running or any other obsession that takes command of one's lifestyle and life. Obsessed runners, evidently self-conscious of this and defensive about it, come up with fortune-cookie slogans like the ones pictured at left. Yes, because of course we unhealthy heathens who are not constantly training to run in 26.2-mile footraces -- we just don't understand! The rest of us are just a bunch of lazy fatties eating Cheetos on the Running2couch, right? We're jealous!! Yeah that's it. Look, I'm not anti-running. I'm not even anti-obsession. Whatever floats your boat, as we used to say. I don't think the obsessed runner is any better or worse (or much different, for that matter) than the woman who lives with 45 cats or the guy who has been collecting stamps for 70 years. What I don't like is fawning media coverage that glowingly depicts these sneakered cultists as somehow better, as special. These Quixotic folks who literally cannot stop running -- they aren't bad people, no. But neither are they heroic as so often portrayed. They are just (and hopefully we can agree on this) people who have given their lives to running in a fitness pursuit now running their lives.

BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR THE '72 DOLPHINS: Yesterday we told  you how, in a bracketed competition of all 49 Super Bowl winners by CBS Sports and Strat-O- Dolphins72Matic, the Perfect Season 1972 Dolphins were beaten in the round-of-16 by the 1992 Cowboys. Well, today, predictionmachine.com computers played all 49 champions against each other 50,000 times each, ranked the teams by overall winning percentage, and the '72 Dolphins were ranked only No. 9 overall (the '73 Fins were 22nd). Said Prediction Machine of the No. 9 ranking: "A perfect season is a special thing. Miami was the best team that year but being undefeated isn't enough to claim the top spot on this list. Don Shula's squad was good but not dominant. During its regular season run of excellence the Dolphins beat just two teams with a winning record. When we re-simulate Miami's 1972 schedule, the team would have just a 1.2 percent chance to win every game. The Dolphins would have to get lucky again for Mercury Morris to pop bottles of champagne." Ouch. By the way, the all-time top five SB champs are: 1--1999 Rams, 2--1985 Bears, 3--1989 49ers, 4--1996 Packers and 5--1979 Steelers. Update: Yet another humbling for the Class of '72: Safety Jake Scott is the lone Dolphin to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 26-man Golden Anniversary Super Bowl team out today.  

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 27, 2016

Bulletin: '72 Dolphins just lost!; plus Canes' 2016 football schedule, predicted season record; also, UM baseball, 'WomenNotObjects', fun activities for Satanic kids, your verdicts on Super Bowl 50, Whiteside Dilemma & more

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

Showkiller1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27. ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for Fusion TV's spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Panthers-Broncos Super Bowl 50 polls, Canes' and Heat's big night, Heat's Whiteside Dilemma poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) For those who care (both of you), I went 1-1 straight-up and against the spread on my NFL Championship Sunday picks. Did not see Broncos beating Patriots. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Some headlines could not be more ridiculous if you made them up. Are you ready? 'John Rocker Endorses Trump.' Seriously." --Greg Cote

UM baseball picked to win its ACC division: The upcoming college baseball season is expected to be a big one for the Hurricanes, who are No. 5 in the preseason polls and now selected to win the ACC Coastal Division in a preseason poll of coaches. Louisville is forecast to win the Atlantic Division and overall conference title. Other strong ACC baseball schools include Virginia and Florida State.

Larranaga's vision, crystallized in one night: The ranked Hurricanes beating Duke in front of a packed house -- this is what Jim Larranaga imagined when he took this job in 2011. Click on Coach L's Vision for my column off Monday night's game.

'72 PERFECT SEASON DOLPHINS LOSE!: Oh my but Don Shula, Mercury Morris and those fellas won't like this one bit. CBS Sports and Strat-O-Matic are playing the 49 Super Bowl winners head to head in simulated games to name the ultimate all-time champion, and the '72 Dolphins, a No. 1 seed, just lost in the round of 16 to the 17th-seeded 1992 Cowboys. The recap from CBS: "Garo Yepremian's missed 44-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in regulation ended the '72 Dolphins' dreams and enabled the '92 Cowboys to advance to the Elite 8."

HURRICANES FOOTBALL SCHEDULE LOOKING LIKE 9-3 SEASON, BUT...: The ACC released its 2016 schedules today and Miami's soft non-conference opening portends a 3-0 start and gives the Canes' a leg up on a strong season under new coach Mark Richt. Initially I'm thinking 9-3 (see below) two of those projected losses could be wins: Florida State, here, and North Carolina, also here. Only the game at Notre Dame feels like a good-bet loss. Our quick thoughts:

MarkrichtG1: vs. Florida A&M Sept. 3 -- Division 1AA Rattlers finished 1-10 in the MEAC. Season opener and Mark Richt debut should be a breeze for Canes. W, 1-0 

G2: vs. Florida Atlantic Sept. 10 -- Owls were a disappointing 3-9 in Conference USA including a 44-20 loss to UM, but recall that FAU pushed then-No. 8 Florida to overtime in a 20-14 loss in the Swamp. Should be a sure Canes win, but Owls could put up some fight. W, 2-0

G3: at Appalachian State Sept. 17 -- The Mountaineers were 11-2 in the Sun Belt and gave Clemson a better game (a 41-10 loss) than Miami did last year. Miami should win without much trouble, but it's no pushover, plus it is UM's first road game. W, 3-0

G4: at Georgia Tech Oct. 1 -- UM's ACC opener is vs. a Yellow Jackets squad that will be trying to rebound from a 3-9 season that included a 38-21 loss to Miami. Liking Miami to win this and make it 4-0, especially coming off bye week, but conference games on the road seldom are easy. W, 4-0

G5: vs. Florida State Oct. 8 -- FSU finished 10-3 and only beat Miami 29-24 last year, but figures to be favored, even on the road. The Seminoles have become a nemesis and conference roadblock. Al Golden couldn't beat them. Richt must prove he can. L, 4-1

G6: vs. North Carolina Oct. 15 -- The Tar Heels whipped Miami last year 59-21 en route to an 11-3 season and only lost 45-37 to Clemson. UNC could be favored here. It's one of those swing games that will determine whether Richt's first season is seen as a success. L, 4-2

G7: at Virginia Tech Oct. 20 -- Hokies finished 7-6 including a 30-20 loss to Miami, but this is a tough place to play. Another swing game. W, 5-2 

G8: at Notre Dame Oct. 29 -- Fighting Irish were 10-1 before losing their last two, and South Bend can be a madhouse. A likely loss ... or a signature win. L, 5-3

G9: vs. Pittsburgh Nov. 5 -- Panthers were 8-5 and lost to Miami 29-24. Another competitive game is likely, but UM should prevail at home. W, 6-3

G10: at Virginia Nov.12 -- Cavaliers were 5-8 but gave Miami a fight, losing 27-21. Could be tough as a road game but count it a Canes win. W, 7-3

G11: at North Carolina State Nov. 19 -- Wolfpack were 4-0 before fading to 7-6 and did not face UM last year. The road makes it dicey, but it feels winnable for UM. W, 8-3

G12: vs. Duke Nov. 26 -- Blue Devils finished 8-5 including a 30-27 loss to UM. Home and regular finale should find Canes favored. W, 9-3 

#WOMENNOTOBJECTS: Ad executve Madonna Badger, tired of how her own industry objectifies women as sexual playthings, produced a short video skewering the advertising game. Background story here. The video is below, and it's pretty powerful stuff. Quick aside to fashion designer Tom Ford: I'm sure you are a nice guy, maybe, but your ad agency appears to be run by misogynistic idiots.

 

SatanicFUN ACTIVITIES FOR SATANIC CHILDREN. NO, SERIOUSLY: There are fervent believers in God. There are those who want to believe. There are agnostics. There are atheists. And, yes, there are Satanists. This past summer hundreds gathered at a Satanic temple in Detroit for the unveiling of a large bronze statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed creature who has come to represent a totem of modern Satanism. Whatever, right? Free country and so forth. But what I find both a little frightening and oddly hilarious is the book pictured. I don't wanna know what those fun activities involve. Animal sacrifice? Crafting papier mache goat horns? Nor do I want my kid having a play-date with the tall, sullen Satanic Frankenstein kid on the far right.

Poll results: Thinking Panthers, but wanting Broncos: We asked your early Super Bowl 50 picks, and 81.6 percent predicted the Carolina Panthers would win, but 59.1% want the Denver Broncos to win.

Poll results: You're torn on the Whiteside Dilemma, too: We asked you what the Heat should do this summer, and it was 42.0% for making a free-agent play for Kevin Durant, 31.7% for signing Hassan Whiteside long-term instead, and 26.3% undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 26, 2016

Hoop Town: Canes' and Heat's big night; plus Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl polls. Two polls. Vote now!; also, Heat's Whiteside Dilemma poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Showkiller1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 26. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Making A Murderer' video spoof starring me (click Making a Showkiller to watch), NFL Championship-Round playoff picks and poll, your greatest-NBA-center verdict & more. 2Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and simulcasting on ESPNU and Fusion TV. Have a new 'Back In My Day' in hand.

CANES' AND HEAT'S BIG NIGHT: Best night of the season for Miami hoops. Then  again, Miami's two big basketball teams rarely play on the same night, let alone against big opponents, with big victories. But still! Heat win 89-84 at Chicago with a large fourth-quarter comeback, led by Dwyane Wade's 28 points. D-Wade loves performing in his hometown, doesn't he? Back in Miami, the Hurricanes men bop rival Duke, 80-69, in a phyiacl game that saw UM with the upper hand throughout. This is was the night Jim Larranaga envisioned when he took the job in 2011: the Canes, ranked and beating Duke before a sold-out crowd. What a night. I was there in the campus arena. Click on Larranaga's Dream for my column.

Sb50SUPER BOWL 50 SET: IT'S PANTHERS-BRONCOS! NOW WHO YOU GOT? AND WHO DO YOU WANT?: It'll be No. 1 vs. No. 1 on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif. as the AFC-winning Denver Broncos meet the NFC-champion Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Panthers advanced Sunday night by dominating Arizona 49-15 after Broncos upset New England 20-18. So it'll be Canton-bound veteran Peyton Manning -- he ain't done yet -- vs. rising supertstar Cam Newton. It'll be the Broncos aiming for the franchise's third Super Bowl title but first since 1998 vs. a Panthers club that is a relative postseason neophyte, its only previous SB appearance (a loss) coming 12 years ago. Carolina is installed as an opening favorite of 3.5 points or more. So, who do you predict will win? And who do you want to win? Those two answers may or may not be the same for you. Let's find out...

THE HEAT'S WHITESIDE DILEMMA: WHICH WAY SHOULD PAT RILEY GO?: The question facing the Heat is the topic of my latest Sunday column. Click on The Whiteside Dilemma to read in Hassanfull. Should Miami spend big to extend Hassan Whiteside's contract? Or should the team instead opt for the financial wherewithal to pursue Kevin Durant in free agency? You almost certainly cannot do both, and there are no guarantees with either. No guarantee Whiteside (pictured) will continue his ascent and become a reliable star. And no guarantee of landing Durant. Miami would get nothing for Whiteside if it lets him go in free agency, but the option of trading him before next month's NBA deadline isn't viable. The trade market and Miami's return would be minimal since he'd be able to leave his new team in free agency this coming summer as well. It's a quandary for the Heat. Miami would hate to lose the unearthed, developing power of Whiteside. But would Miami hate that more than abstaining from the Durant Sweepstakes? Mixed into this quandary Dwyane Wade, of course. Like Whiteside he too is a free agent after this season. Will Miami want Wade, 34, back on another one-year deal? Might he accept less money to facilitate the club keeping Whiteside or pursuing Durant? Good luck figuring all this out, Pat Riley. That's why they pay you the big bucks. For now, give Riley some free advice in this poll.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NFL: Championship Sunday sets up a Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl: Sunday results left a clear contrast and theme for upcoming Super Bowl 50, a quarterback duel between near-40-year-old future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and rising superstar Cam Newton. Cam's Cats were supposed to be here. But Manning? After the worst season of his career? Epic. Oh, and that ongoing cable dispute prevented U-Verse subscribers from watching the main broadcast of the NFC game. (Thanks, AT&T!)

2. HEAT: Miami beset by losing, injuries and no scoring: The good news? Dwyane Wade makes his 12th all-star game with 10 start. The bad news? Everything else. Miami has lost four straight games and seven of past eight, is injury wracked, is 28th of 30 teams in scoring average and has fallen to the eighth and final playoff spot entering tonight's game in Chicago. Otherwise, all's well!

3. PANTHERS: Cats crush defending Cup finalists to end slump: Wild ride, these Cats. They win a club-record 12 games in a row. Then they lose four straight. Now they've won two in a row by a combined 9-2 over defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago and Tampa Bay, the team it beat in the final. The Good Cats are back, at least for now.

4. HURRICANES: Monday visit by Duke tops huge two days for UM hoops: For a Sunday appetizer you had the 16th-ranked Canes women hosting No. 14 Florida State, albeit in a 69-58 UM loss. Now, the main course: The No. 15 Miami men host rival Duke tonight. Mike Krzyzewki's guys recently lost three straight to fall to No. 20, but no matter. They're still the Devils. 

5. RUNNING: Miami Marathon draws thousands: More than 24,000 runners were registered for Sunday's Miami Marathon and Half Marathon won by Moroccan Benazzouz Slimani and New York's Allison Kieffer. One entrant Larry Macon, 71, of San Antonio, competed in his 1,606th marathon. That's 42,077 miles in a lifetime of running. Big deal. My car already has more than 7,000 miles and I've only had it six months.

6. TENNIS: Top seeds Djokovic, Serena still alive in Australian Open: Year's first major moves to its quarterfinals stage with top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams still in it as expected. Serena next faces a Tuesday match with Maria Sharapova, whom she has beaten 17 straight times, including 12 of the past 13 in straight sets. Maria's improved serve supposedly gives her a better chance. Yeah good luck with that.

7. DOLPHINS: Grimes, Jones join Landry and Albert in Pro Bowl: First it was receiver/kick returner Jarvis Landry and tackle Branden Albert making the Pro Bowl as alternates because other players dropped out. Now it's Dolphins DBs Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones who are added. Brag quietly, please. That's like finally getting invited to the prom only because other girls said no. Oh, and Mike Tannenbaum says consensus agreement on who to draft in the first round is important. Well no duh, right?

8. NBA: Conference-leading Cavaliers fire their coach: It finally happened in Cleveland. LeBron James fired coach David Blatt. Of course he then denied he had any influence whatsoever on the decision. America replied, "Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!" 

9. NFL: Bills hire full-time female assistant coach: Kathryn Smith becomes the first woman to be a fulltime assistant coach on an NFL staff. She'll be Buffalo's "special-teams quality control coach." Hmm. Is that even a real position?  

10. MARLINS: Spring training only three weeks away: Players begin reporting Feb. 19. I wrote an upbeat, positive column this week saying the Marlins had begun to earn back your trust. The majority email reaction was, shall we say, vehement disagreement. Bulletin to me: Fans still hate Jeffrey Loria.

Missing the cut: The Dolphins are holding cheerleader tryouts in several Latin America countries. Sure, because, clearly, there is a shortage of good-looking young Latin American women in South Florida (!) ... Upcoming tournament at Doral may be last as PGA Tour distances itself from Donald Trump. Nervous Democrats wish more Americans were doing the same ... National Signing Day is soon. That's when we instantly grade how college football programs did based on the utter guesswork of how a bunch of 17-year-olds will turn out ... World Cup champion U.S. women's soccer team announced it would play an exhibition March 9 in FAU's football stadium. It'll be weird to see a winning team on that field ... Congrats, Katie Meier, on your 200th career win at UM ... The U.S. Figure Skating Championship are going on, and nobody cares ... Answer: The U.S. team trained in Miami won the World Cup of FootGolf, a sports played on golf courses in which players kick soccer balls into giant holes. Question: Whaddya mean there are too many ridiculous, made-up sports?

Poll result: You say Panthers most likely Super Bowl champ from final four: We invited you to say which NFL final-four team you think will win the Super Bowl (not who you want to win, but who you predict will), and it was Carolina 48.0 percent, New England 32.0%, Arizona 14.7% and Denver 5.3%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 21, 2016

Marlins, rising: As spring nears, the team you love to hate is earning back your trust; plus who is NBA's greatest center of all-time? Poll. Vote!; also, Kiper downgrades Dolphins, Heat and Panthers' simultaneous slump, Sarah Palin & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 21. I'm back at Friday Page HQ today working up my NFL Championship-Round picks. Oy vey. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-at-midseason grades, the onus on Ryan Tannehill, NFL Divisional pix results, 'MLK Ride-Out' idiocy, Glenn Frey & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Nice that Dolphins Jarvis Landry and Branden Albert are now in Pro Bowl, but brag quietly. Being added as late alternate is like getting asked to the prom only because other girls said no." --Greg Cote

DeegordonBULLETIN: THE MARLINS ARE EARNING BACK YOUR TRUST: Spring training is now less than a month away (players begin to report Feb. 19) and it's an interesting time for your usually disappointing and oft-vilified Miami Marlins. The team that has let you down with an unpopular owner, low spending, fire sales, instability and a lengthy playoff Donmattingly
Chendrought has had a smart, strategic offseason and seems finally to have settled on a clear direction. The Marlins, in short, may be earning back your trust again. That is the theme of my latest column as baseball begins to loom again into view. Click on Marlins, Rising to read in full. The Marlins spent big this winter to hire a credible, proven manager in Don Mattingly, to sign a legit free-agent starting pitcher in Wei-Yin Chen, and to extend the contract of all-star second baseman Dee Gordon. (Gordon, Chen and Mattingly are pictured). That piggybacks onto the long-term extension for Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to give a sense that the club is committing to a core group and finally building stability. I know, we have been hopeful before only to be let down. Believe me, early Twitter response to my column has been largely negative because of this climate. Trusting the Marlins has become sort of a drinking-the-Kool-Aid kind of thing. Marlins fans are scarred. And having Jeffrey Loria and David Samson out front as the faces of the franchise is the opposite of ideal. But the Marlins are fostering hope again by action, not claim. Marlins fans can feel pretty again again as the '16 seasons draws near.

NbarankCENTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: WHO IS NBA'S GREATEST CENTER OF ALL-TIME?: ESPN's #NBArank series today names its top 10 NBA centers of all time. (Sorry, Miami. No Hassan Whiteside). Their list is in order, 1 through 10. But I don't want to prejudice the jury with ESPN's opinion, so in my poll I am listing their choices alphabetically. Vote for your top three (3) by whatever critera you choose and from that we'll arrive at a consensus. Check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3)

KiperKIPER (SLIGHTLY) DOWNGRADES DOLPHINS' '15 DRAFT: ESPN's Mel Kiper (pictured), with time on his hands between mock drafts, today re-grades the 2015 draft of every NFL team, and he adjusts Miami's grade from a B down to a C-plus. His explanation: "In my post-draft grades I noted that DeVante Parker was one of my favorite picks of Round 1, and they didn't have to move to get their guy. I could have seen him going with any of the four picks ahead of Miami. It was only at the end of the season, however, that we saw Parker start to show off what he's capable of. If he's healthy, he can be special. Jordan Phillips worked his way into the rotation and we also got a glimpse of Jay Ajayi, but it's fair to call the early returns underwhelming, especially when the team took a step back overall. A healthy Parker changes that going forward." Mel's re-grades for the other AFC East teams all were up slightly, Patriots from B-minus to A, Jets A-minus to A and Bills C-minus to B.

ONE'S IN SNEAKERS AND ONE ON SKATES, BUT HEAT, PANTHERS BOTH FIZZLING IN LOCKSTEP: That good feeling our NBA and NHL teams carried into the new year didn't last long. Suddenly
Gallant Dwadeboth teams are slumping just past midseason and looking for fast answers. (Dwyane Wade and Panthers coach Gerard Gallant are pictured). Miami Heat: That hoped-for Eastern finals vs. Cleveland could still happen, but a current 2-7 slump since Jan. 6 after last night's loss has made it seem remote. Wracked by injuries and inconsistency (The I's have it!), Miami has fallen to seventh place and now faces four more road games in a row. A fan's thoughts have veered from comeuppance vs. LeBron to, "Can you just make the playoffs, please?" Florida Panthers: The Cats have chased their club-record 12-game winning streak with a four straight losses during which they are 0-for-12 on power plays. The division lead has frittered to three points, and the next game, Friday here, is vs. a Chicago team that itself has won 12 games in a row. Who'd they better call? Slump Busters! And fast.

Poll results: Heat performance at midseason seen as average to below average: We invited your midseason letter grade (A,B, C or D) for the Heat relative to your preseason expectations, and most, 55.6 percent, gave it a C for average. However the below average D's (26.8%) outpolled the above average B's (16.4%) and the excellent A's (1.2%).

PALIN ENDORSES TRUMP. THIS IS SERIOUS, RIGHT? YOU BETCHA!: [Note: This is a mostly sports blog but one that also delves into pop culture and politics. Even having said that, let me fire a Dailynewspreemptive strike to get ahead of the curve: "STICK TO SPORTS!!!!!"] OK when I heard the news yesterday that Sarah Palin had endorsed Donald Trump for president, the initial thought was, "With friends like these..." I mean, does Trump or any candidate benefit from or even want the public backing of the person who single-handedly cost John McCain a legitimate shot at the presidency because, as his VP-candidate running mate, she was a such a national punchline and laughingstock? Conservatives will argue the New York Daily News front page today is just more of the liberal media doing its thing. Fair enough. But the illustration also represents a lot of people who are incredulous that Trump thinks Palin helps him beyond appealing to the voters he already appeals to. If I were the RNC I would be concerned about the short-sightedness of this. Yes, Palin's endorsements may help Trump in Iowa in a contested primary vs. Ted Cruz. But beyond? At some point the Republican frontrunner Trump needs to think nationally and about how to win a general election vs. Hillary Clinton (still likely) or Bernie Sanders. That is where an endorsement by Palin -- let alone a place in his administration -- may hurt Trump as he attempts to woo wavering Democrats and undecideds. Of course that's just my opinion. I may be wrong. 

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.

 

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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 07, 2016

Who should be Dolphins' next coach? Twelve choices, you pick one. Last chance to vote; poll ends noon today!; plus my Piazza/Hall column, Panthers' streak in historical perspective, Heat vs. Cats title odds & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 7. Yes, you can still say Happy New Year! Barely. You get one full week. 2) See previous blogpost for final season results in Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Patriots with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Top Miami sports story of 2015 verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Piazza, other Hall voting show steroids stigma is softening: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza got into the baseball Hall of Fame tonight. Griffey was fully expected. But Piazza's election -- along with increased voting for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens -- strongly suggest the stigma against steroids-era guys is softening. Rumors alone kept Piazza out the previous three years. Now suddenly he's in. Click on Baseball's Cold War Is Slowly Ending to read my new column, online now and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.

Vote now! We declare a winner at noon today!

TannenbaumYOU PICK THE DOLPHINS' NEXT HEAD COACH: Update: Voting booth closes at noon today! Man, this poll has gotten a huuuge response and it's still too close to call. Very interesting results so far. Be a part of it. And quickly, please. Original post: I've had my say, online and in today's Miami Herald. Click on No Training Wheels This Time for my latest column, suggesting the Dolphins try something different and hire a head coach who has done the job before in the NFL. Seven hires in a row (including interims) have not. Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt were the last two hires who had been NFL head coaches before; they also are the last two to be on the sideline when Miami won a playoff game. In this poll I list a dozen coaches alphabetically. Eleven have been reportedly linked to the job as candidates. I added Tom Coughlin, just for fun. Conspicuously absent from the list are Sean Payton and Chip Kelly, with no indications of Dolphins interest. Me? I'd give up a second-round draft pick for Payton in a millisecond. But it's Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) fronting the Dolphins search, not me. Ready to give Tannenbaum your input? Vote for the man you think would be the best next coach for Miami or the hire that would excite you the most. You can only vote for one. (Nobody said life was fair...) Vote now and say why you chose as you did.

FripixNFL PIX WEEK 17 RESULTS: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Well, fantasy is done. But our prognosticating isn't. Pix: Ending the regular season badly: We stumbled in at 8-8 overall. Wed also were disappointed to wrap it up 8-7-1 against the spread. Should have been better, considering we nailed our Upset of the Week with Bills over Jets ("Aawwk!") and had a big five 'dogs-with-points in the Dolphins, Saints, Redskins, Raiders and Seahawks. On to the playoffs!

PANTHERS' WINNING STREAK IN CONTEXT OF BEST WE'VE SEEN: The longest winning streak by South Florida's four major pro sports franchises:

Heat: 27 games. Feb. 3 through March 27, 2013. Third-longest in NBA history.

Dolphins: 18 games. Sept. 17, 1972 through Sept. 16, 1973. Tied third-longest in NFL history.

Panthers: 10 games. Dec. 15, 2015 through now; current. Cats' previous long streak was seven games, done three times, most recently 2008. Florida has won eight of its 10 games outright and two by shootout, and outscored opponents 35-12 during streak. NHL record is 17-game winning streak by 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. Panthers' next game: Thursday at Ottawa.

Marlins: 9 games. Done four times, most recently Sept 9-19, 2008. Marlins' long win streak is shortest of any MLB franchise.

Odds say Cats likelier to win championship than Heat: New championship betting odds out from Bovada show the Florida Panthers (14-1, tie 6th) have better NHL title odds than do the Heat (40-1, tie 8th) in the NBA. Golden State is a clear basketball favorite to repeat, at 5-4. Washington Capitals top a crowded hockey field, at 6-1. 

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January 05, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter (season final): 18.1%; plus Tannehill leads Miami past Patriots 20-10; also, Radio Tuesday!, Fins' 2016 schedule, '15's biggest-Miami-sports-story verdict, latest Hot Button & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 5. Yes, you can still say Happy New Year! You get one full week. 2) Click on Week 17 Gems for all of yesterday's Dolphins/NFL picks. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami/South Florida sports story-of-the-year poll, Dolphins/NFL Week 17 picks, sports predictions for 2016 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and also televising on ESPNU and Fusion TV.

My Dolphins coach-search column, Fins' 2016 schedule: Click on No Training Wheels This Time for my latest column, suggesting the club try something different and hire a head coach who has done the job before in the NFL. Also. Miami's 2016 non-division games were made known yesterday. At home it'll be the Browns, Steelers, Titans, Cardinals and 49ers. Non-division roadies will be Ravens, Bengals, Chargers, Rams and Seahawks.

Live in-game blog and postgame thoughts: Find both beneath the new and final Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll of the season. Click Tannehill the Solution -- With the Right Coach, for my column from the game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 18.1%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-ending -- Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 18.1 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-10 home victory over New DsmEngland putting Miami's final season record at 6-10. The DSM, completing 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. Because this was the final poll, we suggested giving "season as a whole" added weight. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case we left the poll open a bit longer than usual and closed it at around 2:15 p.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)

Game 15: 6.0% (following 18-12 loss vs. Indianapolis)

Game 16/Season Final: 18.1% (following 20-10 victory vs. New England)

Yearly DSM Results

2015--18.1% (following 6-10 season); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G17: NEW ENGLAND @ DOLPHINS: HOUSE-CLEANING FINS BEAT NEMESIS IN FINALE: Final: Tannehill 350 yards and two TDs and big defense carried Miami. The unexpected win cost Dolphins a few spots in the draft order, but cheering fans didn't seem to mind. Click on Tannehill the Solution -- With the Right Coach, for my column from the game. ..... Fourth Q: Miami 19-yard late FG makes the final score, 20-1 win. ..... Tannehill-Jordan Cameron 2-yard TD pass for a 17-10 Miami lead. A 46-yard strike to Parker fueled the series. ..... Third Q: Tannehill surpasses 4,000 passing yards for second straight season, first Dolphin to do that since Dan Marino went 4K X 3 in 1984-86. ... NE ties it 10-10. Brady comes out passing as we'd predicted, completes 68-yarder to James White to set up 3-yard TD run by the exhumed Steven Jackson. ..... Halftime: Are we seeing early signs of dementia in Bill Belichick? Last week he gave the other team the ball to begin overtime. Now he has Tom Brady throws five passes for 20 yards through the air in the first half at Miami. What? Huh? Expect a lot more Brady from here, presuming the Pats have an interest in winning. ..... Second Q: MIA 10-3 on Tannehill 15-yard TD strike to Devante Parker, after an earlier 31-yard completion to Greg Jennings. ... NE fails to take lead, misses 46-yard FG try. ... NE 3-3 on 34-yard FG. ... Andrew Franks' failed 46-yard FG try had the knuckling trajectory of a poorly struck 3-iron. ... First Q: Pats' first two possessions: 9 plays, 27 yards, 2 punts. ... Miami 3-0 on 38-yard FG in series fueled by Lamar Miller's 29-yard run. ... Swap of punts begins game. For Miami, a stalemate almost feels like a positive. ... As a seventh consecutive Dolphins season prepares to end too soon. ..... Pregame: Stadium filling up in a way that suggests a big crowd today, but that's largely because so many Patriots fans are here. Seeing as many 'Brady' jerseys as those of any other player on either team. ..... Original post: When you dump the head coach and both coordinators within one season you are running out of people to fire. But not quite! Yesterday the Dolphins "parted ways" with general manager Dennis Hickey, unsurprisingly, since he'd been rendered a glorified assistant by the arrival and takeover of personnel boss Mike Tannenbaum. Anyway, the 5-10 Fins host the 12-3 Patriots this afternoon, with Miami skidding to a halt at 4-7 under interim coach Dan Campbell. Ryan Tannehill enters Miami’s season finale banged up after being sacked six times last Patsfinsweek and then again during the week on that vicious blindside hit by Miko Grimes. The Patriots figure to offer little respite Sunday, their 48 sacks ranking second in the NFL. Too bad for the Fins this game means something for New England and, therefore, guys like Tom Brady won’t have the day off. Pats have sewn up a first-round bye but need to beat Miami (or hope for an unlikely Denver loss) to clinch the home field throughout. Pats are 2-3 since a 10-0 start, have lost their past two visits to Miami and might be quite vulnerable for an upset here. I won’t go that far. Brady is still Brady, and he still has Rob Gronkowski. Even if it’s just those two and nine bandaged mummies, that’s still a better offense than Miami usually shows. But I do see a much better game than Miami’s 36-7 collapse up there on Oct. 29. See this one close, in fact. That reminds me. Aside to Bill Belichick: If this one happens to go into overtime and you win the coin toss like last week, take the ball this time, dummy. My pick: New England, 27-20.

Poll result: UM firing Golden, hiring Richt named top Miami/South Florida sports story of 2015: We listed our Top 10 local stories of the past year, invited your vote on which was biggest, and the winner was UM firing Al Golden and hiring Mark Richt with 33.0 percent. Rounding out top five: Dolphins firing Joe Philbin amid seventh straight non-playoff season, 21.0%; Ndamukong Suh signing with Fins, 13.7%; Heat acquiring Goran Dragic, losing Chris Bosh to blood clots and missing playoffs, 8.1%; and Marlins' Dee Gordon becoming first since Jackie Robinson to lead NL in hitting and stolen bases, 6.0%.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JAN. 3): 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:

1. PANTHERS: Jagr leads the hottest team on ice: Jaromir Jagr, 43, made the all-star team by leading the Atlantic division in fan voting as the go-Cats-go entered the new year the talk of the NHL. Florida last night won a franchise-record eighth straight game and 14th in the past 17 to roar onto playoff pace. And general manager Dale Tallon and coach Gerard Gallant found the reward of contract extensions in their Christmas stockings.

Hotbutton2. CFP: Clemson wins Orange, to meet Alabama for national championship: Clemson dominated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and Alabama beat Michigan State even worse in the Cotton to reach the Jan. 11 College Football Playoff title game in Glendale, Ariz. title. Crimson Tide are an opening 6 1/2-point favorite despite the collective will of Miami football fans to see Nick Saban sad.

3. HEAT: Whiteside opens the new year right: Hassan Whiteside had season-highs of 25 points and 19 rebounds as the Heat won its first game of 2016 by a season-best 24-point margin over Dallas. Good: Miami stays in thick of a tightly bunched East playoff race. Better: Seeing Mark Cuban sad.

4. DOLPHINS: Fins host Patriots Sunday in season finale: Club "parted ways" with GM Dennis Hickey on Saturday; now Fins host New England in season finale. Pats' big sackers may pose a problem for Ryan Tannheill. The banged-up QB was sacked six times last week -- seven if you include the blindside Twitter hit by Miko Grimes. 

5. NFL: Sunday wraps the regular season, sets playoff field: The regular season wraps up with all 16 games being played Sunday, after which the first round of the playoffs will be set. The "playoffs." I wonder. Do younger Dolphins fans even know what that word means?

6. HURRICANES: UM hires defensive coordinator as Richt staff takes shape: So long, Mark D'onofrio. Miami's new defensive chief is Miami native Manny Diaz Jr., son of the former mayor, who held same job at Mississippi State. I don't wanna say Canes fans are tough but some already are calling for Diaz's firing. 

7. BOWLS: State's Big 3 bowled over, a rarity: This college football season marked only the second time ever (first was 2002) that the Hurricanes, Seminoles and Gators all ended their season with bowl losses.

8. UM HOOPS: Both Canes teams ranked as ACC play begins: UM's men beat Syracuse here in their ACC basketball opener Saturday. The Canes' men and women's teams are a combined 25-2 today, both ranked and thinking NCAA Tournament. And what were the odds that South Florida's sports excitement entering the new year would be centered on college basketball and hockey?

9. TENNIS: Miami Open, Miami-Dade at odds: Officials of the Miami Open major pro tennis tournament, the annual fixture on Key Biscayne, are threatening to move the event because the county, which owns the facility, won't OK expansion. Hey here's a wild thought: Compromise!

10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream host big stakes races: Gulfstream held two stakes races Saturday that were an early prelude to the May 7 Kentucky Derby. But do we still care about horse racing with the end of the Triple Crown drought no longer the carrot before our nose?

Missing the cut: Happy new year! Happy, mostly, because we're done with the media's annoying year-end lists ... Jarvis Landry, Reshad Jones share Dolphins MVP award. That Ryan Tannehill or Ndamukong Suh didn't win says much about why Miami is 5-10 and looking for a new coach ... R.I.P., famous Harlem Gloebtrotter Meadowlark Lemon, 83. "Too bad," said Cleo Lemon. "There aren't many of us around." "Do I count?" said deceased actor Jack Lemmon ... UM cornerback Artie Burns is skipping his senior season for the draft. Call it Mark Richt's first loss as Canes coach ... Peyton Manning continues to deny a now-discredited report by Al Jazeera that he used human growth hormone. I'm not sure who Al is, but I think he owes Peyton an apology ... Junior Orange Bowl golf ended. I think I saw the winner use a toe wedge ... CFP semifinal TV ratings nosedived thanks to airing the games on New Year's Eve. "Bad Ideas In Programming" has a new clubhouse leader ... Want a good idea? NHL's annual outdoor Winter Classic ... Dear Marlins: Spring training is getting close. Either figure out a way to clone Jose Fernandez, or sign more starting pitchers, please.

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

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December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas! Which of our Big 5 teams is inspiring the most optimism and closest to being really good? Pick the top 2. New poll. Vote now!; plus Reshad Jones' Pro Bowl snub, Dolphins/NFL Week 16 pix & more

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

Xmas1) It is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 25. MERRY CHRISTMAS! 2) Click on Week 16 Gems  Thursday Gem for tonight's Chargers-Raiders pick. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose in San Diego with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, your 2016 Cooperstown ballot & more. 4) ICYMI, click on The Miami 25 for my ranking of the 25 biggest current names in South Florida sports. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Heat win holiday game: Heat today beat New Orleans 94-88 in OT at the bayside arena behind Chris Bosh's 30 points and Hassan Whiteside's 17 rebounds and four blocks.

OptimismWHICH OF OUR BIGGEST SPORTS TEAMS IS CLOSEST TO BEING REALLY GOOD?: Who is inspiring the most optimism right now among Greater Miami's Big 5 teams: Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Florida Panthers or Canes football? The timing is right to ask as 2015 segues to '16. Also, the Dolphins, Heat and Panthers are in-season, UM plays its bowl game on Saturday, and Marlins spring training will be here before you know it. Whose team's fans should be feeling the best, today, and about the near-term future. Take a dip in our poll, vote for your top two, and say why you voted as you did.

Vote for the top two:

ReshadjonesMIKE POUNCEY IN, BUT MOST-DESERVING-DOLPHIN RESHAD JONES SCREWED OUT OF PRO BOWL: Conference-less Pro Bowl "captains" and selectors Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin have some 'splainin' to do. Only center Mike Pouncey made the Pro Bowl foer the Dolphins in the announcement show tonight on NFL Network. He's marginally deserving. But strong safety Reshad Jones (pictured) is -- clearly -- the only Dolphin who should have been automatic. He got screwed. Point-blank. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and receiver/returner Jarvis Landry had a case. But Jones ... man. More than a hundred tackles, five interceptions (two returned for TDs), a couple of sacks. So much has gone wrong this Dolphins season. Jones has gone right. He should be Hawaii-bound. He could still make it as an alternate for somebody who is injured or fakes an injury to miss the game, but it won't be the same. Jones got passed over. And it feels wrong. It also feels like a guilt-by-association thing. Miami is lousy at 5-9; hence, one Pro Bowl pick. Carolina is unbeaten and has an astronomical 10 picks. Pro Bowl selections do not always fairly represent a team's talent level or popularity. Often they are a reflection of the team's season. Jones is a victim of that.

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 16 PICKS: Split start to our week Thursday night as we the Raiders won but failed to cover. Click on Week 16 Gems for all of our remaining latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins defeat visiting Saints; Arizona holds off Green Bay in Game of the Week; and Jets upend Patriots in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on Dolphins in the Misery Index for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with our updated Fan Misery Index, quantifying -- and justifying -- why Dolfans probably feel so disappointed this holiday season.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 15 RESULTS: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's
FripixLobos fantasy teams: Pix: Good. Solid: We niftied a 12-4 mark overall and a solid 9-6-1 against the spread, with Houston-Indy off the board when we played it. Called Redskins' outright (mini) upset over Buffalo, and rightly had Giants-with-points over Carolina in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Greg's Lobos / family league: Loss in consolation bracket. Ugh: The original Lobos lost 127-109 in our playoff's consolation round despite 27 points from Drew Brees. We're now 6-9 on the year including postseason. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Congrats to champion Mike's Lobos!: The LeBatard Show's Greg's Lobos walloped Dan 221-102 in our two-round consolation playoffs, but the big news was Mike's Lobos whipping Charlie's Lobos 279-255 for the inaugural Lobos Fantasy League championship. We are all Lobos! Literally. Bowl grand finale.

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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.

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