December 10, 2017

The new Hot Button Top 10: Stanton going-going-GONE leads list, now see what else ranks where; plus who deserves most blame for what Marlins did? Poll. Vote now & more

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

1) It's SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10. It's the holidays! Which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Stanton to Yankees with poll, my column on trade, your verdicts on Gordon trade/faith in Jeter & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My column on Marlins trading Stanton to Yanks: Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It.

Latest NFL picks: Click Week 14 Gems for our predictions on Dolphins-Patriots and the rest.

StantongTHANKS FOR THE MEMORIES, GIANCARLO: [This item and the poll are carried over from previous blogpost] My column that you'd find here focuses on how the no-trade clause given to Stanton by former owner Jeffrey Loria meant Stanton could get the best deal for himself -- and that the Marlins could not get the best deal for the Marlins. The poll below invites Marlins fans to lay blame for Stanton's departure as they see fit. There has to be room for thanks as well, though. You cannot blame Stanton for the contract he got or the no-trade clause he was given. I honestly believe he wanted to stay; it was the Derek Jeter-led new owners who found his contract beyond their means. I trust Marlins fans will show Stanton the love when he returns in pinstripes. For me, he ranks below only Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade as the great team-drafted star in Miami sports history. Farewell, Giancarlo.

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

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Team trades Stanton, Gordon. Merry Christmas, fans!: Marlins fans were still shaking heads over the team trading Dee Gordon to Seattle when the dreaded bombshell hit on Saturday: Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Miami got Starlin Castro and prospects for Stanton but couldn't get the best deal it was offered because Stanton's no-trade clause gave him ultimate control. Call it Jeffrey Loria's final parting gift. 
 
2. DOLPHINS: Fins try to keep (faint) hope alive vs. Patriots Monday: How did Miami, 5-7 and a playoff longshot, become an NFL also-ran team? Try this: Fins have lost 14 of past 18 night games including all three this season and seven of past eight on Monday stage. Somewhere along the line, folks, your Dolphins turned into the Not Yet Ready For Prime-Time Players.
 
3. HEAT: Miami beat Brooklyn in Mexico City: The Heat faced the Nets in Mexico City on Saturday night -- both teams were able to successfully scale Donald Trump's border wall -- and Miami won, 101-89. Given the disappointing, off-playoff-pace seasons both franchises are having thus far, was this a regularly scheduled game ... or were the two teams deported?
 
4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Six days from start of bowl season: Dec. 15 begins the parade of 41 bowl games culminating with the College Football Playoff national championship Jan. 8. This is first time all three South Florida FBS teams have made the postseason the same year, with Miami in the Orange, FAU in the Boca Raton and FIU in the Gasparilla. Gentlemen, start your bowling!
 
5. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes, OB Classic in spotlight: The unbeaten, 10th-ranked Hurricanes men's team returns to action on the road this coming Saturday, the same day the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic featuring No. 5 Florida vs. Clemson and FSU vs. Oklahoma State happens at the Sunrise arena. It'll be so strange, so different, to see exciting action in the building where the NHL Panthers play.
 
6. BASEBALL: Angels land Japanese sensation Ohtani: Baseball winter meetings in Orlando don't start 'til Monday, but the two biggest prizes already have changed uniforms, with the Yankees landing Miami's Giancarlo Stanton after the Angels won the sweepstakes for Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. He is being called the sport's greatest dual threat since Babe Ruth. No pressure or anything!

7. PANTHERS: No defense for Cats' poor start: Florida is 11-18 after Saturday night's 7-3 home loss to Colorado, is eight points off playoff pace, and has given up the second-most goals in the NHL. Cats are off now on a five-game road trip. Probably just as well. Seeing bad hockey on TV is never quite as bad as enduring it in person.

8. HEISMAN TROPHY: Ho hum. It's Mayfield in a rout: Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won college football's biggest individual prize in a rout Saturday, collecting 82.5 percent of the first-place votes. If he has two more wins in him -- over Georgia, then over Clemson or Alabama -- he'll be lifting another pretty nice little trophy as well.

9. SOCCER: Toronto beats Seattle for MLS Cup: Toronto FC handled Seattle 2-0 in the championship match of Major League Soccer. You know MLS. It's the league David Beckham has been trying to get a Miami team into for about the past 45 years. 

10. TIGER WOODS: Comeback Kid to play Honda Classic?: Tiger Woods is back healthy (for now) and competing again in PGA Tour events. He lives on Jupiter Island in Florida. The Honda Classic is around the corner Feb. 22-25 in Palm Beach Gardens, which is about a 20-mile hop from Jupiter Island. Hmm....

Missing the HB10 cut: Hope Solo is running for president of U.S. Soccer. The preceding sentence would be much bigger news if we dropped the word "soccer" ..... The Cavaliers' winning streak ended at 13 games. See. I told ya that LeBron James guy would never amount to anything! ..... Actual Headlines I Never Thought I'd See, But Did: 'Vending Machine Worker and Season Ticket Holder Dresses For Blues as Emergency Goalie' ..... In football, Army beat Navy for the second straight year. It figures. Army is built to perform best on land ..... Soccer superstar Ronaldo said, "I am the best player in history." OK, Pele and Messi, you have my permission to beat the [bleep] out of him.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 56.4%; plus Miami clobbers Broncos 35-9 for rare easy win; plus new Hot Button Top 10. Canes' ACC loss, UM-Wisconsin in Orange Bowl, CFP semis on top, but see what else falls where & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 4. Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes get spanked in ACC title game with CSM poll, other State Collball and conference champ-games, your Cooperstown verdict & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Column Dolphins' win over Denver: Click Dolphins Find Needed Joy for my column from Sunday's 35-9 Miami home trouncing of Denver.

Column on Canes' ACC title-game loss: Click Seeing Past the Pain to read. See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 56.4%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 56.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 35-9 Dolphins victory over the Denver Broncos putting Miami's season record at 5-7. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
Next poll: Dec. 11 (following game vs. New England)

G12: DOLPHINS 35, DENVER 9: WELL, SOMEBODY'S LONG LOSING STREAK FINALLY ENDED...: Final: Watch for our column from game online soon ..... 4Q: MIA 35-9: Safety as Bronco tackled in end zone on kickoff return ..... Fins' Verner recovers Miami onside kick ..... MIA 33-9: Cutler-Stills 23-yard pass. Set up by Howard's second INT of game ..... 3Q: Grant 27-yard punt return for Miami as quarter ebbs ..... MIA 26-9: Drake 42-yard run ..... DEN 9-19: Simmons 65-yard interception return, 2-point pass failed .....  And Miami gives the gift right back as Stills loses fumble ..... Big 3rd-down sack by Phillips forces Denver punt, and Fede blocks the kick ..... MIA 19-3: Parkey 37-yard FG. Just when you forget Fasano is still on team, he catches a 29-yard pass to lead to the points .....  Halftime: Halftime tribute honoring Jason Taylor's election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ..... Welp, this is like an offensive onslaught for the low-scoring Fins, although nine points were courtesy the defense. A putrid opponent helps. The Broncos are out-badding the Dolphins ..... 2Q: Cutler intercepted ..... MIA 16-3: Howard 30-yard interception return ..... MIA 9-3: Cutler-Thomas 9-yard TD pass ..... DEN 3-2: McManus 31-yard field goal on 67-yard drive ..... 1Q: MIA 2-0: Safety on Denver bad snap out of end zone ..... McDonald intercepts for Miami. Where the Turnover Chain at? ..... DT Suh 95th straight NFL start today, longest streak in league at that position ..... Penalties big issue for Fins this year. Recall how much pride Shula always took in team not being flagged much. Times have changed ..... Original post: The utter lack of public faith in and respect for the Dolphins shows in the fact Miami opened a negligible 1-point favorite but soon became a 1 1/2-point home underdog as bets flooded toward Denver. Um, that would be a DenmiaDenver team with worse record, on a seven-game losing streak and 0-5 on the road. The Fins’ are on a season-ruining five-game skid of their own, the slump leaving Miami 4-7 to Denver's 3-8, both AFC also-rans. If this matchup were any less watchable it would be banned from television by the FCC. They might not even allow a live audience to watch for fear of mass mental anguish. There are interesting sidelights, though. Dolphins coach Adam Gase was a Denver assistant six years (2009-14) and QB Jay Cutler — starting again after missing one game concussed — began his career a Bronco in 2006-08. Oh, and Denver coach Vance Joseph was Miami’s defensive coordinator last year. But none of these connections are enough to sufficiently hoist this moribund matchup of teams going nowhere and doing very little well. As much as I don’t trust the Dolphins’ offensive line, Miami at home vs. an even-more-dreadful opponent is worth the gamble here. But I still can’t help but think, as I anticipate an epic Trevor Siemien vs. Cutler duel, that this would be a so much more interesting game if the quarterbacks Sunday were John Elway and Dan Marino. I mean them right now. At ages 57 and 56. Playing in business suits and wingtips. My pick: Dolphins, 19-17. [Click Week 13 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 3): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM routed by Clemson for ACC title, Orange Bowl next: Canes and Clemson faced a Saturday night play-in game for one of four spots in the College Football Playoff, with semifinal matchups set on Sunday. UM went in a big underdog and played like it, losing 38-3. Pretty decent consolation prize upcoming, though: Canes in their home stadium for the Orange Bowl game vs. Wisconsin.
 
2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Conference championships shape final CFP foursome: The College Football Playoff announced its final four teams and two semifinal matchups today: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama and No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia. Big loser: Snubbed Ohio State, which thought it should be fourth. Second big loser: Tough draw for top-ranked Clemson, which likely will be underdog vs. 'Bama.
 
3. DOLPHINS: Sad Fins host Denver in moribund matchup: How's this for a weekend contrast, Miami? First your Hurricanes play Clemson for ACC title and spot in college playoffs. And then your Dolphins host Broncos in a duel of hopelessness between teams with a combined 12 straight losses. Hasn't been a dropoff that sharp since Thelma and Louise drove over the cliff.
 
4. SOCCER: 2018 World Cup sets group play: The 32 qualifying nations were drawn into eight four-team groups for next summer's men's tournament in Russia. But I'm still trying to figure something out so maybe you can explain: The United States and Italy failed to qualify but Iceland got in!? Aurora, Colorado has more people than Iceland. Do they play soccer on skates over there?
 
5. MARLINS: Giants, Yankees, others in play for Stanton: I heard the Marlins have now decided to not trade Giancarlo Stanton and that Miami also will spend big to go after Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. And then I woke up from that dream and it was back to reality. With baseball's winter meetings approaching, Stanton is now like one of his home runs: Going, going ... gone!
 
6. HEAT: As Warriors visit, erratic Heat a mystery even to Spo: Miami, .500 last season, is an up-and-down 11-11 now entering Sunday's huge home test against Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and reigning champion Golden State. Coach Erik Spoelstra says even he doesn't know what to make of his team and can't quite figure 'em out. Hey, we're all right there with you, bud!
 
7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes, Kansas win as expected: No. 10-ranked Miami men routed Princeton 80-52 and No. 2 Kansas handled Syracuse 76-60 in the Hoophall Miami Invitational at the Heat arena Saturday. UM game tipped off at same time as Canes-Clemson in Charlotte. Turns out the basketball Canes had a much better game.
 
8. FAU: Owls win C-USA championship: Lane Kiffin's Owls routed visiting North Texas 41-17 to go 10-3 and win Conference USA crown. Oh, and Butch Davis' FIU Panthers whipped UMass 63-45 to end regular season 8-4. Canes didn't take care of business Saturday, but SoFla's other two FBS teams sure did.
 
9. GOLF: Tiger Woods erratic in latest comeback: He opened with an eye-opening 69, but shot 75 on Saturday and is 10 shots off the pace entering the final round of the Hero World Challenge in Nassau -- his first competitive round in 10 months. Be good again, Tiger. Golf needs you.
 
10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream opens winter meet: The venerable Hallandale racetrack opened its winter season Saturday, with upcoming jewel events to include the Florida Derby and second annual Pegasus World Cup. Get out of the casino and watch an actual horse race, would ya? 
 
Missing the HB10 cut: Florida Panthers: We don't even make your HB top 10!? Me: You're 10-16, Cats. How 'bout you win a little? ..... Jimbo Fisher dumps Florida State and follows the big bucks to Texas A&M. Money aside, is that even a lateral move? ..... Tennessee Vols fired the athletic director over the botched football coach search. He got Schiano'd! ..... Cleveland Cavaliers have won 11 games in a row. It's all Dwyane Wade! ..... It's Seattle and Toronto in the Major League Soccer finals. Meantime it feels like we're getting close to the 10-year anniversary of David Beckham's efforts to bring MLS soccer to Miami ..... Jason Taylor was honored for his Hall of Fame election in a private event at the stadium last night. Hopefully they had a TV on for the UM-Clemson game. Come to think of it, maybe better that they didn't.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 28, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 7.7%. Still in the gutter...; plus Miami falls 35-17 at Patriots; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Canes football column & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27. Hope you had wonderful long Thanksgiving Weekend! 2) See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They drop to a season low. 3) Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall at Pitt with CSM poll, other state Collball, NFL Week 12 picks & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Canes' loss: Perspective, please!: Miami losing at Pitt 24-14 Friday was a bad loss terribly timed. No whitewashing that. But 10-1 is 10-1, and a win over Clemson in the ACC title game next week will give UM a fighting chance to still get back up into the College Football Playoff. Click on One Bad Loss Doesn't Spoil All The Good for my latest column.

Our Dolphins-Pats postgame thoughts: Click on Fins Playoff Hopes, R.I.P. for my quick thoughts on Sunday's Miami loss, and to vote in the latest DSM postgame poll online.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 7.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 7.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday Dsmafternoon's 35-17 Dolphins loss at the New England Patriots putting Miami's season record at 4-7. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
Next poll: Dec. 3 (following game vs. Denver)

G11: DOLPHINS AT NEW ENGLAND: LAST CHANCE FOR MIAMI TO PROVE PLAYOFF HOPE ISN'T DEAD: Final thoughts: Realistic playoff hopes had been on life-support. Today we pulled the plug. Dolphins, now 4-7, were beaten all over the field by their long-running-and-still nemesis rival the Patriots. Not much was happening on offense as Matt Moore was sacked seven times and produced only one touchdown (one came via defense). And the defense despite that TD was mostly awful, allowing Tom Brady a 114 passer rating and four TDs and giving up some 200 yards rushing. A dispiriting season continues ..... NE 35-17 (4Q): Brady-Cooks 5-yard pass ..... MIA 17-28 (4Q): Moore-Drake 8-yard pass ..... NE 28-10 (3Q): Brady-Gronkowski 15-yard pass ..... Halftime thoughts: Dolphins defense is not playing well at all (282 yards allowed), but two takeaways including a fumble-return TD by Reshad Jones are keeping Miami (sort of) in the game. Offense is doing very little as usual, and a late end-zone interception by Matt Moore was a killer. It says much about the state of the Dolphins that we imagine many Dolfans are convincing themselves it isn't that bad to be trailing by "only" 11 ..... MIA 10-21 (2Q): Parkey 28-yard field goal ..... NE 21-7 (2Q): Brady-Burkhead 1-yard pass ..... MIA 7-14 (2Q): Jones 14-yard fumble recovery ..... NE 14-0 (1Q): Brady-Gronkowski 5-yard pass ..... NE 7-0 (1Q): Burkhead 2-yard run ..... We'll have live, as-they-happen score updates here throughout today's game, as well as halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the DSM poll ..... Original post: This is close to about as big as NFL point spreads get -- Patriots by 16 1/2 -- but it isn’t Alabama hosting Font of Tears Bible College. This is King Sport, where anybody (except the Browns, of course) can beat 

Mianeanybody if everything bounces just right. Not saying will. But can. And more so in division rivalries. So I give 4-6 Miami a small-to-medium upset shot at the 8-2 Pats. Fins certainly need the win more, as playoff hopes are looking for a pulse. Both of New England’s 2017 losses have been in not-impenetrable Foxborough, by the way, and Tom Brady has been intercepted more times by Miami in his career (21) than anybody else. Pats swept Fins last season, but Miami beat NE at least once each of the three previous years. Also, Patriots’ pass defense is average, and their run defense might be the worst in the league. The point? Miami, a team good enough to have won in Atlanta, is capable of shaking off four consecutive losses with its performance of the year Sunday. And that is even with Matt Moore starting at QB as Jay Cutler nurses a concussion. This belief is why I like the Dolphins with the points, if not quite outright. I think Miami will show some spine and compete hard Sunday. But there is too much talent shortfall — especially between Brady and Moore — to think Miami will win outright at this venue for the first since 2008. The temperature Sunday up there is forecast for the low 30s. So is the Patriots’ point total, alas. My pick: Patriots, 31-17. [Click Week 12 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Stunner! No. 2 Canes suffer first loss, await CFP fate: UM loses Friday at Pitt 24-12 in regular-season finale to fall from unbeaten ranks and now, inevitably, to also fall in next College Football Playoff rankings out Tuesday. Miami now must beat Clemson in ACC championship game this coming Saturday and pray that's enough to climb back into CFP top four.
 
2. DOLPHINS: Fins see playoff hopes (all but) expire in loss at Pats: Miami was NFL week's biggest underdog at New England Sunday as a 4-6 Dolphins team tried to shed a four-game losing streak ... and failed, 35-17. Playoff hopes are now on life support and the priest, Father McGillicutty, has been called into the room. 
 
3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: CFP Selection Committee has its work cut out: Chaos! The weekend left a mess for the College Football Playoff rankings with L's by both No. 1 Alabama and 2-Miami. Best guess Clemson, Oklahoma and Wisconsin in the coveted top four for sure, with a two-loss Auburn also likely in.
 
4. HEAT: Hot(ish) Miami prepares to visit LeBron, D-Wade: Team is 10-9 and on a 3-game win streak after winning Sunday in Chicago, and this should be interesting: Tuesday at LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, a.k.a. Cleveland.
 
5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men face first measuring-stick game: Jim Larranaga's guys are 5-0 and ranked No. 11, but season's first litmus test (and first road game) will be Wednesday at No. 14 Minnesota. Is UM top-10-good or just pretty good? Let's begin to find out.
 
6. MARLINS: Jeter continues untethering his regime from past: Derek Jeter got rid of franchise icons like Jeff Conine and Jack McKeon. Now he's gotten rid of popular longtime broadcaster Rich Waltz. The big Fish, Giancarlo Stanton, remains in the boat ... for now.

7. PANTHERS: Cats need to wake up and get on a run: Florida is 8-14 after Saturday's 4-1 home loss to Chicago, and already eight points off playoff pace in the NHL East. First-year coach Bob Boughner better get something going if he wants to become second-year coach Bob Boughner.

8. UCF KNIGHTS: Orlando team stays unbeaten in epic win: Knights are 11-0 after beating rival South Florida Bulls 49-42 to earn spot in American conference title game as QBs Quinton Flowers and McKenzie Milton combined for 876 yards passing. Meanwhile FSU vs. Florida played a stakes-less, anticlimactic bore. What were the odds? 

9. COOPERSTOWN: Baseball hall releases 33-man ballot: Baseball Hall of Fame's 2108 ballot is out, with Chipper Jones and Jim Thome the likeliest of the first-time nominees. The overriding question: Will steroid-era stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, inching up every year in votes, finally get in?

10. SOCCER: Messi signs record extension with Barcelona: Lionel Messi has signed to stay with FC Barcelona at least through the 2020-21 season, when he will be 34. The record-setting deal includes a $59.6 million signing bonus. Put a soccer ball in that crib, Dad.

Missing the HB10 cut: Is Dale Earnhardt Jr. still retired? ..... Derrick Rose saga has new chapter as he leaves Bulls to reevaluate his NBA future? Easy answer: You don't have one ..... Chip Kelly, new UCLA football coach, becomes latest star college coach to fail in the NFL and go running back to the safe haven of Saturdays.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.5%. Season-low approval rating for Fins; plus Miami clobbered in Carolina 45-21 in defensive collapse; also, Canes column, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14. Know any people who are serious Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes crush Notre Dame 41-8 with CSM postgame poll, other state Collball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Hurricanes column: As 9-0 Canes await arrival tonight into the College Football Playoff ranking's top four, we write about the real reason for this season. Click The Mark 'n Manny Show. Also, click Championship In View For Soaring Canes for column from Saturday night huge win over Notre Dame. And, no surprise: Approval rating in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll hit 98.6 percent, another season high. See previous blogpost for details.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 3.5%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 3.5 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Monday night’s 45-21 Dolphins loss at the Carolina Panthers putting Miami's season record at 4-5. That is a new season low. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Wednesday.

 

2017 game-by-game DSM results

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)

G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)

G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)

G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)

G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)

Next poll: Nov. 19 (following game vs. Tampa Bay)

G9: CAROLINA 45, DOLPHINS 21: OK YOU SAW WHAT THE CANES JUST DID, FINS. WHAT YOU GOT? NUTHIN'!:  Our five takeaways from Monday night’s 45-21 Dolphins loss at Carolina: 1) With Miami 4-5 after a third straight loss, please do not mention the phrase “playoff contention” again until you hear otherwise. You cannot rely on either offense or defense As ESPN’s Jon Gruden put it Monday night, Miami “is perhaps the most inconsistent team I‘ve seen in a while.” 2) We knew the offense was among the NFL’s worst. But we thought the defense was OK, maybe even pretty good. Until now. Carolina totaled 548 yards of offense, including 294 rushing (and 8.2 per carry). Embarrassing. 3) Not Yet Ready For Prime-Time Players. Dolphins just became the first team ever to play three consecutive prime-time games and lose them all. 4) Miami remains the only team in the league to not score a rushing touchdown this season. Larry Csonka and Ricky Williams are spinning in their graves, and they aren’t dead yet. 5) Game-turning play: Fins were headed into halftime down only 10-7, then Jay Cutler through a bonehead interception from his own end that set up Carolina for a 17-7 lead. It was over from there ..... In- game: MIA 21-45 (4Q): Landry 9-yard pass from Cutler ..... CAR 45-14 (3Q): Funchess 32-yard pass from Newton ..... CAR 38-14 (3Q): McCaffrey 2-yard pass from Newton ..... MIA 14-31 (3Q): Drake 66-yard run ..... CAR 31-7 (3Q): Artis-Payne 12-yard run ..... CAR 24-7 (3Q): Funchess 28-yard pass from Newton ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami down in total yards 220-118 but a fairly even half except for the late, dumb Jay Cutler interception that gifted Carolina an easy TD ..... CAR 17-7 (2Q): Dickson 7-yard pass from Newton ..... MIA 7-10 (2Q): Thomas 2-yard pass from Cutler ..... CAR 10-0 (2Q): McCaffrey 4-yard run ..... CAR 3-0 (1Q): Gano 40-yard FG ..... Live blog tonight will mean as-they-happen score updates, halftime and postgame thoughts, then the DSM postgame poll ..... Original post: The Dolphins have lost two in a row, and there are no pity-points for improved effort or barely losing to Oakland 27-24 last week as what had been a comatose Miami offense finally showed a pulse. Fins still must prove they 

Miacar1can play a complete, complementary game with all cylinders pumping, and if they don't do it Monday night in Charlotte that would make it 0-for-3 in consecutive prime-time showcases. I give Miami a big chance here -- certainly against the spread, getting 10 points. Dolphins may be a shaky .500 at 4-4, but the Panthers' 6-3 mark Miacar2wobbles a bit, too. Cam Newton's passer rating actually is a fair bit worse than Jay Cutler's (78.4 to 87.4), thanks to Cam's 11 interceptions, tied for most in the league. The Cats are minus-8 overall on turnovers, fourth-worst in the NFL. Miami also has the benefit of safety T.J. McDonald's debut after serving an eight-game league suspension for substance abuse. Carolina's defense, though, is really stout -- much better than what Cutler picked apart last week vs. Oakland. And it doesn't help that Fins right tackle Ja'Wuan James is now on injured reserve. Also the Monday night stage, though diminished, still tends to magnify a home-field advantage. The good news? I'd bet on a close game, Miami-plus-points, and an outright upset would not shock. The bad news? I need to see a solid, four-quarter performance by the offense and defense in synch before the Dolphins earn my trust to conjure another major road upset like what they pulled off in Atlanta. My pick: Carolina, 24-17.

 

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM crushes Notre Dame, stakes championship intentions: Canes crushed Fighting Irish 41-8 Saturday, clinched a spot in ACC title game and made case to leap from No. 7 into College Football Playoff top four. For me, other than the five national-championship wins, the last in 2001 -- maybe the greatest night in UM football history. #TurnoverChain

2. DOLPHINS: Miami crushed at Carolina on Monday Night Football: Fins had lost two games in a row on Thursday night (at Baltimore) and Sunday night (vs. Oakland) and now gave Monday a shot in last chance to avoid being first team ever to lose three consecutive prime-time games. Didn't work.

3. NASCAR: Six days 'til Championship Sunday at Homestead: Sunday's penultimate race in Phoenix finalized the Championship Four for this Sunday's run at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It'll be Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex and Brad Keselowski racing for season crown. As many eyes, though, will be on Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his last race before retiring.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: CFP committee ready to shuffle top four: With No. 1 Georgia, 3-Notre Dame and 6-TCU all losing Saturday, Miami should leap 7-to-4 -- at least -- in Tuesday's new College Football Playoff ranking. New No. 1 figures to be Alabama ... unless Miami Hurricanes fans commandeer the votes. Would not shock to see Canes second behind only 'Bama.

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women both open season 2-0: No. 13 UM men routed Gardner-Webb 77-45 in Friday's season opener behind Bruce Brown's triple-double while Canes women beat FIU 77-69 led by Mykea Gray's 27 points, then both won again Sunday. Men's team plays under cloud of that FBI investigation into college recruiting, but winning is a diversion, at least.

6. MARLINS: Stanton trade speculation gains traction: Fish confirmed Don Mattingly would return as manager but remain noncommittal on slugger Giancarlo Stanton as assumption grows that they'll trade him, with Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants and Phillies out front among reported suitors. Dear Marlins: Small request. Get (a lot) more for Stanton than you got for Miguel Cabrera.

7. HEAT: Must we get used to being average?: Miami is 6-7 after Sunday's loss in Detroit, after finishing right at .500 last season. Long season, folks. And it's looking like another thrilling fight for that seventh or eighth seed. Pardon the attitude. The Big 3 years spoiled me.  

8. PANTHERS: Florida sinks to bottom of East: Cats are 5-11 after loss in New Jersey and in last place in the NHL's Eastern Conference. Either the club will show patience seldom associated with the Panthers, or rookie coach Bob Boughner may be on the edge of trouble.  

9. FIU: Panthers fall at home: FIU was an upset loser to Old Dominion 37-30 Saturday but still is an impressive 6-3 under first-year coach Butch Davis, though overshadowed by UM's unbeatenness. I mean, what were the odds FIU would today have as many wins as the Seminoles and Gators combined?

10. BASEBALL: Japanese phenom headed to America: Touted Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani will be in Major League Baseball starting in 2018. hailed as perhaps the greatest two-way player since Babe Ruth. Hey, no pressure or anything, Shohei!

Missing the HB10 cut: Free man O.J. Simpson has been banned from the Cosmopolitan hotel-casino in Vegas over alleged drunken, belligerent behavior. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Lonzo Ball's younger brother was among UCLA players arrested for shoplifting in China. Does the Bruins defense get statistical credit for those steals? ..... Bulletin: Ezekiel Elliott's suspension is back on, pending another 47 appeals ..... On behalf of Richard Sherman and his Achilles, can we finally abolish Thursday Night Football? Please? ..... R.I.P., Roy Halladay. And a slap in the face to those Boston radio idiots who made light of the private plane crash that took his life ..... What the hell did you start, Harvey Weinstein? Now Louis C.K., too? Keep it in your pants, fellas. Y'all are giving men a bad name, by which I mean even worse than usual.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 20, 2017

NFL picks for Dolphins-Jets, rest of Week 7; plus your verdict on Heat expectations, my Pat Riley column, Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results, new 'Back In My Day,' latest SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20. Know any people who are serious Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins stun Atlanta with DSM poll, The List (Fins), Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Pat Riley column: In exclusive 30-minute sit-down interview, Heat's majordomo reflects on 50 years in NBA, how he's changed and his hopes for this Heat season as it began with loss in Orlando and opens at home Saturday. Click The Godfather Speaks to read in full.

Latest BIMD: Cemetery Joggers!: The latest Back In My Day segment rails against the gall of people who use cemeteries as places to exercise. Click Cemetery Joggers for the video.

UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 7 PICKS: DOLPHINS MAINTAIN MO', BEAT STINKIN' JETS: The Dolphins and Dolfans will beat the Jets and all those Fripixobnoxious NYJ fans Sunday at The Rock in a low-scoring game. If you're at the game, single out that one fat New Yorker shoehorned into that Gastineau jersey and make fun of him. I'm not normally that mean, but I make exceptions for Jets fans. Click Week 7 Gems for our predix-capsules on Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week (Patriots-Falcons) and Upset of the Week (Saints-Packers: "Aawwk!"), plus all our other latest picks. Our week got off to a crazy/unlucky/disappointing start last night. We had Chiefs (-3) covering in a win, and they were up 30-21 in fourth quarter, only to lose on final play, 31-30.

POLL RESULT: IT'S HIGH-40S WINS, PLAYOFFS FOR HEAT: You may still vote in poll directly below, but we'll call it now officially. We asked what is most likely number of Miami Heat regular-season wins in 2017-18? Your verdict: 50 plus--27.4 percent; 45 to 49--49.8%; 40 to 44--15.1%; 35 to 39--5.1%; and 34 below--2.6%. That's more than 77% who clearly expect playoffs, and some 92% in that low-40s wins typically sneaks in. 

DragicwhitesideHEAT EXPECTATIONS POLL: SETTING BAR FOR THE 2017-18 SEASON: The Miami Heat last season finished 41-41 and (narrowly) missed the playoffs, though it seems better in the recollection because of the 30-11 record the second half of the schedule. That leads to an assumption of overall improvement from a team led by Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside (pictured). Yet outside expectations are somewhat modest as the season opened with loss last night in Orlando, and resumes Saturday at home vs. Indiana. For example, ESPN's Power Rankings entering the regular season has Miami slotted only seventh best in the Eastern Conference (eight make the playoffs) and 18th overall in the 30-team NBA. The Heat's projected record is put at 43-39. Now what do you think? What is your honest, realistic expectation for the season based on anticipated number of regular-season wins? Remember: Not asking what you hope happens ... but rather what you'd bet will. Vote now.

 

SMITH STAYS NO. 1 OVER BRADY, CUTLER INCHES UP / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 6: The Cardinals' Carson Palmer wins Week 6 honors with a 39.15- Arodgerspoint game (unusually low for a winning total), while the Chiefs' Alex Smith keeps his overall lead ahead of Patriot Tom Brady in the Miami Herald's latest NFL quarterback rankings. Packer Aaron Rodgers (pictured) is third but will fall week by week with his season-ending injury. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler inches up one spot, to 29th overall. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. Because the rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of a season.

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 6

RK   LW   Player, Team                     WK6       Season

1      1     Alex Smith, KC                   19.30      230.85

2      2     Tom Brady, NE                    22.85     223.95

3      3     Aaron Rodgers, GB               0.90     182.25

4      4     Carson Wentz, PHI             27.10     179.20

5      9     Carson Palmer, ARI             39.15    175.85

6      5     Drew Brees, NO                  25.30    174.05

7     12    Josh McCown, NYJ              32.70    165.70

8      6     Eli Manning, NYG                17.40    165.30

9    14     Philip Rivers, LAC               35.40     158.65

10    8     Matthew Stafford, DET       13.60     157.40

11   18    Kirk Cousins, WAS                37.50    154.70

12    7     Cam Newton, CAR                9.95     153.80

13    16    Deshaun Watson, HOU        27.25     149.85

14   13     Jared Goff, LAR                  15.20    147.45

15   17     Ben Roethlisberger, PIT       26.60    147.05

16   20     Matt Ryan, ATL                   25.40    136.85

17   10     Dak Prescott, DAL                BYE     135.60

18   11     Russell Wilson, SEA              BYE     135.10

19   23     Case Keenum, MIN              26.95    127.70

20   24     Trevor Siemian, DEN           23.80     124.20

29   30     Jay Cutler, MIA                   20.55       98.85

Bubble: Andy Dalton, CIN, 123.00. Week 6 best: Palmer, ARI, 39.15 (18-22, 283, 3-1 in win). Week 6 worst: Brian Hoyer, SF, minus-1.30 (4-11, 34, 0-0 in loss).  

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 6 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald Fripix Lobospredictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. WEEK 6Herald picks: Improvement, at least. After a nightmarish recent slump, we'll take an 8-6 overall and do cartwheels over a 7-5-2 against the spread (two games were off the board when we picked 'em). Highlights: Nailed our Upset of the Week with Steelers over Chiefs ("Aawwk!"), hit another outright upset with Vikings over Packers, hit a third (barely) upset with Cardinals over Bucs, and had underdog Dolphins and Jets with the points. Greg's Lobos: Tough loss, 107.3-101.4, to Chris. Byes hit us hard but Lobos scrambled to put six in double figures, led by Jarvis Landry's 20.2, but lost it with only 11.5 from Drew Brees. What are the odds Saints top 50 points but Brees has an off game!? Oh well. 'Bos still 4-2 and only one game back. #GoLobosGo

SOPY STANDINGS / WEEK 7: CANES' ROSIER IN 3-MAN BATTLE FOR 'STATE HEISMAN'Miami quarterback Malik Rosier remains a solid third in what keeps Sopylooking like a three-man race for the Herald's 2017 State Offensive Player of the Year award -- the "state Heisman." Canes running back Mark Walton, out injured for the season, is seventh and falling. UM back Travis Homer is back in the chart in ninth place after a week-leading 200-point game. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. 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.

SOPY Top 10 entering Week 8:

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                      Average        Total/Games

1    1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb               207.60         1,038 / 5

2    2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb             188.33         1,130 / 6

3    3    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                  183.10          915.5 / 5

4    6    Alex McGough-FIU qb                   134.50          807 / 6

5    4    Devin Singletary-FAU rb               134.33          806 / 6

6    8    Thomas Owens-FIU rec                109.25          655.5 / 6

7    5    Mark Walton-Miami rb                  107.40          537 / 5

8   --    Cam Akers-FSU rb                         103.20          516 / 5

9   --    Travis Homer-Miami rb                  100.20          501 / 5

10   9   Tre'Quan Smith-UCF rec                 97.20          486 / 5

Bubble: D'Ernest Johnson-So Fla rb, 97.17. Other team leader: Malik Davis-Florida rb, 95.00. Week 7 best: Homer-Miami rb, 200 points. Season best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 276 points (W3).

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

Select other recent columns: Minor Miracle Bails Out Richt's Gamble (Saturday's UM win over Georgia Tech). Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season (Dolphins' Snortgate). It Isn't Just Cutler (Dolphins' offense woes). Back On Track & Ready To Roar (Florida Panthers). Here's What I Find Funny, Cam (Cam Newton). Jeter Betting On Jeter (Marlins)Also: Hope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Stanton Chasing 1984Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 17, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 79.7%. Huge spike in DSM approval after upset in Atlanta; plus Fins stun Falcons 20-17 with rally as offense, defense come alive; also, see who's No. 1 and what falls where in latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 16. Know any people who are serious Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes' 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech with CSM poll, other state Collball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column on Canes' huge win over Georgia TechClick Minor Miracle Bails Out Richt's Gamble for my column from Saturday's 25-24 UM triumph keeping The U unbeaten. Also, voting continues in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll, both in the blogpost directly below and here.

Vote in DSM poll online, too: Click here.

DOLPHINS RALLY, STUN FALCONS IN ATLANTA, 20-17: The Dolphins' huge second half Sunday in Atlanta beats the Falcons 20-17 to complete an exhilarating weekend of football for South Florida fans, after the Hurricanes beat Georgia Tech 25-24 the day before. What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit Sunday. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler. I'd predicted that Miami would lose narrowly (I said 27-23) but with an effort that would see a wakeup by the offense and be encouraging to fans. Now let's see how encouraged fans really are with the latest DSM poll. Vote now.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 79.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 79.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-17 upset victory at the Atlanta Falcons putting Miami's season record at 3-2. That's a huge spike from three straight weeks in single digits. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
Next poll: Oct. 22 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets)

G5: DOLPHINS AT ATLANTA: SEE ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR MIAMI, EVEN IN DEFEAT: Final thoughts: What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler ..... 4Q: Jones interception inside final minute denies Atlanta tying FG try, seals 20-17 upset, comeback win for Miami! ... Fins take first lead 20-17 on Parkey 38-yard FG with just over 2 minutes left in regulation ... MIA ties it 17-17 on Parkey 49-yard FG after big 4th-down gamble and conversion ... Momentum is all Miami's right now. Fins with ball near midfield after muffed Falcons punt play ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-14 on Cutler-Landry 7-yard TD pass after roughing penalty negates Cutler scrimmage-line interception ... Pouncey out under concussion protocol. Cannot keep that man on the damned field! ... Gase sticks with Cutler and it pays off. MIA with 17-7 on his 11-yard scoring pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: How much longer will Gase's support for Cutler continue? QB is 8-for-14 for 64 yards and a pick (39.0 rating) in half as offensive woes go on. Ajayi (11 carries, 71 yards) the lone bright spot. Not even the defense (233 yards allowed) is playing great. If Cutler cannot lead this offense to the end zone, why not try Moore? ..... 2Q: ATL misses 59-yard FG to end half ... Miami driving to finally score (seemingly), but Cutler picked off at Atlanta 10. Ugh ... ATL 17-0 on Coleman 6-yard scoring run. My forecast of a close game and an encouraging Dolphins effort not coming true -- so far. Still early ... It failed, but totally agree with MIA going for it on 4th-and-3 from ATL 39 ..... Ajayi  1Q: Ajayi 51 rush yards on five carries the 1Q bright spot for MIA ... Ryan 40-yard scoring strike to hall and 10-0 Falcs lead ... ATL 3-0 on opening-drive 50-yard FG ..... Pregame: Final betting line at Falcons by 14. Wow. The 2-2 Dolphins being treated like 0-4 out of Vegas ... WR Parker notable among inactives today, a hinderance to MIA upset chances ..... Original post: Miami rarely finds itself the week's biggest NFL underdog -- that's why the Browns and Jets were invented! -- but it does this week, by 11 1/2 points, and, alas, with fair reason. The 3-1 Atlanta Falcons are coming off a bye week and Miaatlexpect to have two key players, receiver Julio Jones and sackman Vic Beasley, back from injury. The 2-2 Miami Dolphins are coming off a week in which the two biggest topics of distracting conversation (not necessarily in this
G5order) were Jay Cutler's tepid, barely scoring offense, and the assistant coach forced to resign in shame over a cocaine/stripper scandal. Still, I like Miami with the points in this 1 p.m. CBS tilt and give the Fins a medium shot at an outright upset, believe it or not. Atlanta is not invincible; it lost its last game at home to Buffalo, 23-17. Falcons' defense is good but not great; Miami's may be better. Jay Ajayi should find the running easier than Devonta Freeman will. I cannot bring myself to predict what might be the league's biggest upset of Week 6. But I do foresee a performance that may encourage Dolfans, even in defeat. Have you ever experienced a 2-2 start enveloped in such gloom? Miami will gradually find itself offensively, and there should be signs here. And I believe this team has the coaching, leadership and lockerroom mettle to not only overcome this week's Snortgate scandal, but maybe even to use it as coalescing fuel. Let's see if I'm anywhere close right. My pick: Falcons, 27-23. [Click on Week 6 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

THE LIST: DOLPHINS SLOW STARTS OFFENSIVELY: Fewest points scored in Dolphins' first four games of a season:

Points    Year        Starting QB / Coach

32          2004       Feeley (3), Fiedler (1) / Wannstedt

41          2017       Cutler / Gase

42          1967       Griese (2), Norton (2) / Wilson

50          1988       Marino / Shula

51          2006       Culpepper / Saban

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech for ACC lead: Finally beating Florida State last week was bigger for The U symbolically. But beating Georgia Tech 25-24 Saturday was bigger tangibly, as the No. 11 Canes -- now No. 8 -- earned sole possession of the ACC Coastal lead. The road to all the way “Back” starts there. 

2. HEAT: It's Opening Week for Miami, NBA: The meaningless six-game exhibition schedule is done, now Miami opens its regular season Wednesday in Orlando, then has its home opener in six days, Saturday vs. Indiana. Soon we see if last season's 30-11 second half was a harbinger or a mirage. 

3. DOLPHINS: Fins shed off-field, on-field woes with huge win in Atlanta: The second-worst four-game scoring start in Dolphins history. An assistant coach resigned in a cocaine/stripper scandal. It all went away Sunday in Dolphins' big 20-17 comeback win in Atlanta, the NFL upset of the week -- and maybe of the season.

4. SOCCER: Shocker! Embarrassed U.S. men fail to make World Cup: Team USA failed to qualify for men's World Cup for first time since 1986, thanks to humiliating, eliminating 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago that saw coach Bruce Arena resign in shame. Guys, can't you just be half as good as the U.S. women?

5. BASEBALL: AL, NL championship series underway: MLB's final four includes the team that just won (Cubs), the team that wins the most (Yankees) and the team that spends the most (Dodgers). Your process-of-elimination independent rooting interest if you like a true underdog? Houston Astros, who've never won it all dating to 1962 Colt .45s.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Four more Top 10 teams lose: You know what that means, right Miami Hurricanes fans? UM rising from No. 11 to 8th in the new polls.

7. PANTHERS: Cats underway, name new alt-governor: The Panthers, 2-2 through four games with an encouraging 16 goals scored, named retired Army general Raymond Odierno as chairman and alternate governor. Cannot confirm he has ordered strategic bombing of select Eastern Conference opponents.

8. NFL: Anthem/kneeling hot topic at owners meetings: Fall owners meetings in New York this week will center on polarizing issue of players using NFL platform to protest social injustice during national anthem. Solution expected? None whatsoever!

9. MARLINS: Jeter imprint begins to show: This is Derek Jeter's first significant, major hire as the guy running the Marlins. Period. Gary Denbo, 56, his mentor from the Yankees, will oversee the Fish player development and scouting departments, a crucial job for a club with cupboards bare.

10. TENNIS: Sharapova wins first post-ban title: Maria Sharapova won the Tianjin Open, her first women's title since May 2105 following a doping ban. Yes, evidently a minor title in China counts.

Missing the HB10 cut: Miami Hurricanes' men's basketball preparation underway for the Nov. 10 season opener as national FBI probe of recruiting in the sport continues. Here's hoping the season doesn't arrive with a cloud attached  ..... Newly freed O.J. Simpson is out and about in Las Vegas, boozing, schmoozing, playing golf, posing for photos, shamelessly pushing memorabilia and allegedly staging fake altercations with paparazzi to then sell to TMZ. Welcome back. O.J! Missed ya!!

Select recent columns: Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season (Dolphins' Snortgate). It Isn't Just Cutler (Dolphins' offense woes). Back On Track & Ready To Roar (Florida Panthers). Here's What I Find Funny, Cam (Cam Newton). Jeter Betting On Jeter (Marlins)Also: Hope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Stanton Chasing 1984Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 10, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 9.9%; plus big Miami D beats Titans 16-10 but team embroiled in Snortgate; also, see what else falls where in latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

Columbus1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 9. Happy Columbus Day, if it hasn't become politically incorrect to still think of Christopher positively. 2) See previous blogpost for results in latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter. They're buoyant, a season high. 3) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite recent performances? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at FSU with CSM poll, other state Collball Week 6, Panthers open, Cam Newton's problem, your World Series verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins column off Sunday's game: Ah, yesterday. The halcyon days when the Dolphins' biggest problem was a lousy offense, not a soon-to-be-former offensive line coach snorting lines of a certain white powdery substance. Click on It Isn't Just Cutler for my game column.

Dolphins column on Foerster/Snortgate: NEW! Click Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 9.9%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 9.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 16-10 victory over the visiting Tennessee Titans putting Miami's season record at 2-2. That's a slight bump up, but a minimal one following a victory. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
Next poll: Oct. 15 (following game at Atlanta) 
 

G4: TENNESSEE AT DOLPHINS: EARLY IN SEASON FOR MUST-WIN FEEL, BUT HERE WE ARE: Postgame thoughts: One theory is there are no unsatisfying wins in the NFL. But if there were, this would be close: A 16-10 Miami win, at home, against a Tennessee team without its starting QB, a team that last week gave up 57 points. The Dolphins defense was as good as its offense was bad. That's the glass half-full. The D produced six sacks and two fumble recoveries -- the D won the game. But Jay Cutler and the offense were mostly anemic again, producing only six points on their own. With Miami 2-2, the Cutler offense has yet to generate a 20-point game as the schedule toughens from here ..... 4Q: Huge sack by top-pick rookie Charles Harris ... MIA up 16-10 on Cutler-Landry 6-yard hookup, but then a missed extra point wide right. Uh oh ..... 3Q: And the puntfest/snoozefest continues, with 15 combined punts through three ... Near-safety for MIA defense; ball marked at 1 leading to punt from end zone ... Miami punting on 4th and 1 from TEN 47 tells you how much confidence Adam Gase has in his offense right now ... TEN ties it 10-10 on 69-yard drive ending in 11-yard scoring pass. First opponent series Miami D has looked less than dominant ... DeVante Parker won't return today. Just the news an anemic offense didn't need ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami's defense, even considering Titans were without Marcus Mariota, was fantastic, limiting Tennessee to 80 total yards on 29 plays.  Four sacks and Reshad Jones' two fumble recoveries, one returned for a TD, made it among the most dominating defensive halves in memory. But! The Dolphins offense was just as bad as the defense was good, totaling a measly 63 yards. Miami scored zero points not set up by the D. Jay Cutler was 5-for-11 for 21 yards with an interception, and heard booing and "We want Moore!" chants. About as ugly as it gets for a team with the lead ..... 2Q: Cutler  intercepted on deflected ball. Pass was high, though, so it's mostly on him ... A very brief "We want Moore!" chant just bloomed following another Dolphins punt ... TEN within 10-3 on 45-yard FG set up by Ajayi turnover ... Ugh. Ajayi lost fumble gives Titans ball at MIA 24 ..... 1Q: Wow! MIA 10-0 after Jones' 38-yard TD return on fumble forced by Alonso hard hit on QB Cassel. Seemed like incomplete pass at first. Jones returned it anyway. Good thing ... MIA 3-0 late in quarter on Parkey 41-yard FG set up by takeaway ... Little Jakeem Grant had a TD catch but two defenders broke it up ... First big play is by MIA's defense as Jones recovers fumble at Titans 42 ... Noticeable booing as Fins punt for third straight time ... MIA's first 2 series have started at 7 and 3 yard lines. Not good ... Long-snapper Denney playing in 196th game, tie-3rd in Dolphins history. Promise never to mention the long snapper again ... Swapping punts to start game ..... Pregame: Marcus Mariota inactive a  huge boost for TenmiamiMiami's upset shot. Bet-line immediately fell from Dolphins -3 to -1.5. And then to even/pick-'em ..... Original post: I don't need a reminder that Miami started 1-4 last year, rose like Lazarus and made the playoffs. It is both true and means nothing. This Dolphins team at 1-2 will be in deep trouble if it falls to 1-3 today and all know it. Tennessee at 2-2 is a 3-point road favorite, which tells you a little something about regard for the Fins. But I like Miami in an upset. That's right. Eureka! Dolphins sleeping offense finally awakens! It hardly feels like an upset, especially with the strong possibility that Titans QB Marcus Mariota (hamstring) either won't play or will be G4limited. The dropoff to lousy Matt Cassel is extreme. But I'd like Miami anyway in the Fins' second-latest home opener in franchise history to one in 1987. Dolphins' offense can't possibly be as bad as it's looked the past two weeks (right?), and this is a Tennessee defense that just gave up 57 points (!) to Houston. Miami needs to recommit to the ground and Jay Ajayi, first, and the O-line must give Jay Cutler a cleaner pocket and another second to throw against a beatable Titans pass defense. Meanwhile the Dolphins run-stopping has been pretty solid; now, if only the pass-D was as stout. The key may be Ajayi's health, after he missed practice Thursday, babying a tender knee. Still not sure this will prove to be much beyond an average Dolphins team, or a playoff team, but it is a team that wins this game at home. (Or better be). My pick: Dolphins, 24-17. [Click on Week 5 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Finally! UM gets Litmus-test win over FSU, but loses Walton: Canes fans had waited since 2009, through seven straight losses to Florida State and then a Hurricane Irma delay, to finally beat their ACC rival and nemesis again. Wait: Worth it. Still-unbeaten Canes 24, Noles 20. Costly, though, with season-ending ankle injury to top RB Mark Walton.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins' D beats Titans, but Snortgate scandal erupts: Offense was lousy again as defense carried Miami past Titans 16-10 Sunday. But now team is scandalized by video on social media appearing to show offensive line coach Chris Foerster snorting lines of a white substance that looks an awful lot like cocaine.

3. PANTHERS: Hopeful Cats christen 24th NHL season: Florida opened with state doubleheader, losing Friday in Tampa then winning Saturday vs. Lightning here. New Panthers coach Bob Boughner is franchise's 15th, none lasting longer than three seasons. Club never got that memo about patience being a virtue.
 
4. MARLINS: Fish introduce Jeter as new ownership era begins: The Marlins introduced the public front of the new ownership group, money man Bruce Sherman and baseball man Derek Jeter. They aren't haven't lost a game yet and, mostly, they are not Jeffrey Loria, so for now Miami loves them.
 
5. HEAT: 9 days now 'til season opener: Heat is halfway through its six-game exhibition schedule, with regular season opener Oct. 18. Miami basically stood pat with last year's team that went 30-11 in second half. But is it good or bad when you're convinced your one missing piece is Kelly Olynyk?

6. BASEBALL: Postseason underway with divisional series: The Astros (at Red Sox) and Indians (at Yankees) are up 2-1 and in position to clinch their 5-game AL divisional series tonight. Raise your hand if you still think of the Astros as an NL team.

7. SOCCER: U.S. men breathe easier after rout of Panama: Team USA walloped Panama 4-0 Friday night in a qualifying match in Orlando to all but assure itself of advancing to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. U.S. can clinch Tuesday with a win (or likely even a tie) at Trinidad & Tobago.

8. CAM NEWTON: Carolina QB belittles woman sports writer: Newton called it "funny" to hear a "female" talk about route-running. Dear Cam: You play football for a living. What I find funny is someone who plays a game for living believing that game's intricacies are beyond the grasp of anybody.

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes expect no problem with FBI probe: A Hurricanes assistant coach was implicated but not charged in that national FBI investigation of college men's basketball recruiting, and UM now says it expects a complete exoneration. Exhale, please.

10. WNBA: MInnesota continues its mini-dynasty: A fourth championship in seven seasons. Does that qualify the Minnesota Lynx as dynastic? If only I cared enough to consider further.

Missing the HB10 cut: Headlines I Never Thought I'd See (one in a series): 'Washington Nationals assistant suspended related to revenge porn suit' ..... O.J. Simpson continues to be as free as a man can be when everyone who looks at him believes he got away with double-murder ..... A new poll indicates most Americans disapprove of NFL players kneeling for the national anthem, but also disapprove of President Trump calling for their firing. What the hell do we approve of!? 

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 03, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.8%. Rock bottom!; plus tragedy in Vegas, Saints crush Miami 20-0 in London, Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Stanton stays at 59 (with column) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 2. Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite the last two weeks' performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whip Duke with CSM poll, other Collball Week 5, NFL Week 4 pix, your Trump vs. NFL verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MADNESS CONTINUES WITH MASS SHOOTING IN VEGAS: Was it terrorism? I'm not even sure how to define the word anymore. It was not the type associated with radical Islamic extremists; so, do we call it domestic terrorism? Or was it just a deranged lunatic who had no business being in possession of a military-grade automatic weapon? More than 50 are dead and more than 200 wounded at a country music concert on the Vegas strip at the hands of one coward on a balcony. The worst shooting in U.S. history. I'm sure the well-meant "Prayers For Vegas" sentiments are already all over social media. Not enough. Who has an answer to the madness attacking civilization by degrees? OK now back to sports! Christ almighty.   

Latest column: For Giancarlo Stanton, hope last night wasn't goodbye: He struck out in the ninth to end at 59 home runs. Standing ovation. Curtain call. Doffed cap in thanks. Or was that a farewell gesture? Click on Hope That Wasn't Goodbye for my column from the game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 3.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 3.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-Dsm0 loss to New Orleans in London putting Miami's season record at 1-2. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. You may vote here, immediately below, or also online by clicking DSM G3. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

Next poll: Oct. 8 (following game vs. Tennessee)

G3: SAINTS 20, DOLPHINS 0 IN LONDON: FOR MIAMI, AWFUL GOT WORSE: Postgame thoughts: You thought the performance at the Jets last week was bad? Bad got worse. Miami was awful offensively in Sunday's 20-0 loss to New Orleans in London -- pitifully so after an opening 81-yard drive that ended with a Jay Cutler end-zone interception that seemed to thoroughly deflate the team. The Fins' defense was OK, closer to pretty good than bad considering Drew Brees slices through everybody. But the offense? A punt-fest after that opening drive. Nothing happening. Miami is lucky to not be 0-3. At 1-2 the season is not lost, but will be unless offensive answers are found soon. Right now, Ryan Tannehill has never looked better to Dolphins fans ..... 4Q; Sack by Wake. Sadly, might be highlight of game for Miami ... Saints 45-yard FG for 13-0 lead. Dolphins offense today making that seem insurmountable ..... 3Q: Fins are inept offensively right now, but give Saints credit. Much better than in past years on D ... Saints 10-0 on Brees 3-yard screen to Thomas. Only in this game, against this Miami offense, does 10-nil feel like a big lead ... Saints on 4th and 1 get the 1st by at least a full millimeter ..... Halftime thoughts: Ugh. Ugly. Do not mistake this soccer-like 3-0 score for great defense. Mostly it has been inept offenses, a rhythm-less game full of penalties, punts and miscues -- the worst an end-zone pick by Cutler that really seemed to deflate Miami. To say that Brits are not seeing the best of American football is to massively understate the awfulness of this game so far. Miami has three punts and six penalties. What is wrong with Miami's offense!? ..... 2Q: Saints 3-0 on 43-yard FG on half's final play ... Penalties killing Fins ... Saints miss 42-yard FG try. So still 0-0. Common in EPL soccer. In NFL, not so much ..... 1Q: With CB Maxwell inactive (hamstring), Brees really picking on rookie Tankersley ... Cutler throws end-zone interception to instantly snuff promising opening drive. Awful choice by him. Demoralizing end to opening drive that took half the quarter ... Unsurprisingly, clearly a pro-Dolphins crowd ..... Original postTally ho and cheerio and all that stuff we think Brits say but they really don't. Ready for a lil' Breakfast at Wembley? Miami and N'Awlins go at it at 9:30 this morning in the U.S. East in what is (ludicrously) a home game Mialondonfor Miami. How good the Dolphins are — whether they’re any good — was cast in serious doubt with that display of public flatulence at the Jets last week, so this is a true test. I do not believe (yet) that Miami is that bad. But I also do not believe that Sunday’s matchup with the Saints is a particularly favorable one that will be an instant cure. Main reason: Drew Brees, even pushing 39, is still really, really good, while Miami’s pass defense really, really isn’t. At least thus far. And that includes failings underneath due to thin linebacking, even with the return from AWOL suspension of Lawrence Timmons, who undoubtedly still would be in the penalty box if the Jets loss didn’t turn things so dire. N’Awlins' defense of course is famously bad, so Fins have an upset shot if the Double Jays, Cutler and Ajayi (running on a babied knee), are appreciably better than they were last week. Londoners could be in for a bloody shootout! Bottom line, though? Dolphins pass defense made Josh McCown look like a superstar last week. Now here comes Brees. Uh oh. My pick: Saints, 27-23. [Click on Week 4 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

Dolfact: History, almost: With the Dolphins' scheduled home opener postponed by Hurricane Irma until Week 11 and the second "home" game taking place in London, Miami's actual first home game of the regular season -- next Sunday Oct. 8 vs. Tennessee -- will be the second-latest on the calendar in the club's 52 seasons. The only later home debut was Oct. 11, 1987, a season that saw Week 3 canceled by a players strike and three consecutive Dolphins road games.

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

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Stanton chases history to season's end: Marlins ownership change is official effective today, but the weekend spotlight belonged to Giancarlo Stanton as he chased baseball history. At 59 homers entering Sunday, he had one game left to reach 60 or even the PED-untainted record of 61 and be King Clean. He fell short, staying at 59. Let's hope he'll be back.
 
2. DOLPHINS: London falling. Hard. Fins blow, again: It was a home game 4,500 miles from home as Dolphins took on Saints as slight underdogs Sunday morning at Wembley Stadium -- and got clobbered 20-0. We thought Fins could not possibly be as awful as they were last week. But oh we were wrong!
 
3. HURRICANES: UM gets big win at Duke in ACC opener: Mark Richt's guys sailed 31-6 in Durham Friday night behind big defense and three TDs from Malik Rosier, and now No. 14 UM is 3-0 and it prepares to face rival Florida State in Tallahassee. And what seemed impossible five weeks ago is true: The Canes will be favored.
 
4. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes men's program part of FBI probe: FBI investigation of corruption in men's college basketball recruiting already has toppled Louisville's Rick Pitino in what could be seismic scandal, and UM has acknowledged a member of its staff is implicated. Football team a nice diversion, but high anxiety in the Gables.
 
5. HEAT: Wade makes nice, Heat open preseason: You know NBA season is getting close when the fake games begin! On a week when Dwyane Wade, now of Cleveland, made nice by saying he wants to end his career in a Heat jersey, Miami opened its six-game preseason here by beating Atlanta Sunday. Oh, and Heat are now mobile-only on ticket entry, so you, Luddite, better go buy a smartphone.

6. PANTHERS: Cats wrap exhibitions, await regular season: Panthers ended their preseason with a promising 4-2 mark and now await regular-season NHL opener in Tampa Friday, then home vs. Lightning Saturday. Last year: Big hype, no results. Now: No hype ... so we'll see.

7. BASEBALL: Wild-card games commence postseason: AL wild-card game Tuesday (Twins-Yankees) and NL Wednesday (Rockies-Diamondbacks) begin the MLB playoffs. These are like those play-in games in NCAA Tournament. Sorry, wild-carders, but you didn't really make the playoffs, now did you?

8. NFL POLITICS: Trump vs. Protest war continues: War between President Donald Trump and NFL social-justice protesters continues. Dear Trump: Fewer Tweets on NFL, more action on Puerto Rico. I mean ... just sayin'! 

9. RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Signs mega contract extension: Oklahoma City Thunder lavished Westbrook with a five-year, $205 million contract extension. Wait. Weren't max contracts around $20 mill about a minute ago? 

10. O.J. SIMPSON: Parolee heads to Florida: Our man O.J. Simpson gets out of prison on parole this week and is believed headed to South Florida to take up residence. Remember, if the glove does not fit, you must ... say welcome, Neighbor!

Missing the HB10 cut: FSU finally off the schneid, FIU and FAU both with big wins ..... Game 4 of the WNBA Finals is Sunday. Note to self: Look up who's playing.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 30, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 96.5%. Wow!; plus UM wins at Duke 31-6 in ACC opener; also, Stanton chasing 60, NFL Week 4 pix, your Trump vs. NFL verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30. Click on Toys! for my latest Back In My Day segment from the LeBatard Show. 2) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite last week's performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump vs. NFL with poll, UM hoops scandal, Herald NFL Week 3 QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 3 results, SOPY Week 4 standings, RIP Hugh Hefner & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Stanton column: In Search Of 60: Baseball is the one sport where history matters most, and the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton this weekend can make some. Click on Chasing History for my latest column.

Wade column: No villains in going to Cleveland: Dwyane Wade will end up in a Miami Heat No. 3 jersey again, because both sides sincerely want that. Until then, do not fault Wade his late-career meandering. He has earned the right. Click on Wade Will End Where He Belongs to read.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 96.5%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll -- and they could hardly be any Csmhigher. You put the overall CSM satisfaction at 96.5 percent -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Friday night's 31-6 victory at Duke putting No. 14 UM's season record at 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the ACC. Understand internet polls. Nothing gets 100%. The poll could ask, "Do you wish for the health of your loved ones?" and it wouldn't top 96.5%. The CSM is your invitation after every Canes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8 p.m. tonight/Saturday.
 
2017 CSM results
G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
Next poll: Oct. 7 following game at Florida State
 
G3: NO. 14 HURRICANES 31, @ DUKE 6: UM WINS ACC OPENER HANDILY, IMPRESSIVELY: [I'll half postgame thoughts here just before posting the new CSM postgame poll] Original post: Duke is 4-0 and one win from being ranked. The 14th-ranked Canes are 2-0 but this is the first big-conference foe, let alone Miami's ACC opener -- the biggest game of the young season for The U. The buildup to this 7 p.m. Friday nighter has been a look-back to UM's last trip to Durham in 2015 that ended in that 8-lateral miracle kickoff return on the last play for a 30-27 Canes win. That is because Your Friend The Media loves the easy rehash, the perfunctory storyline. But trust the '17 Canes better be focused and locked in on tonight, because, although Miami is a 6 1/2-point favorite, the upset potential is huge. In fact ESPN's computerized Football Power Index gives Duke a 55 percent likelihood of winning. Any frayed focus, such as minds wandering a week ahead to the FSU game in Tally, will cause a loss here. Canes lead the all-time series 12-2 including a 40-21 win last year but forget that. Duke has a quarterback, Daniel Jones, capable of getting the best of what has thus far been a weak UM secondary. Duke also has a very stout defense that leads the nation in allowing opponents only a 14% third-down conversion rate. The Blue Devils' run defense will pose the biggest test yet for Miami's excellent running back Mark Walton. Malik Rosier may be put in a spot of having to pass more than Mark Richt would like. The good news there: the likely season debut of top receiver Ahmmon Richards, who has been out with a hamstring injury. Overall I like Miami, but with shaky confidence. This would be a very nice and big road win in what looms as an extremely losable game. My pick: Hurricanes, 30-27.

Other state FBS Week 5 games (all Saturday, chronologically):

No. 21 Florida 38, Vanderbilt 24: The Gator rolls out five rushing TDs to move to 3-1.

No. 18 South Florida 61, East Carolina, 31: Bulls sky to 5-0 after halves of 31 and 30 points.

Florida State 26, Wake Forest 19: So weird to see the Seminoles unranked, dadgumit, but FSU got off the schneid and is 1-2, averting overtime with a late TD heading into Miami week.  

FIU 30, Charlotte 29: Butch Davis is making a lil' noise. Hope FIU students are listening. Panthers now 3-1 after rallying from 26-14 down at the half led by three TDs produced by QB Alex McGough.

FAU 38, Middle Tennessee 20: Big win for Lane Kiffin's Owls, now 2-3, fueled by Devin Singletary's 133 yards rushing and four TDs.

UCF 40, Memphis 13: Huge win over an unbeaten foe has Knights 3-0 and, maybe, knocking on the Top 25 door asking in.

National Collball Week 5 overview: Three national Top 25 matchups this week: No. 16 Washington State upset No. 5 Southern Cal 30-27; 13-Auburn crushed 24-Mississippi State 49-10; and 2-Clemson handled 12-Virginia Tech 31-17.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA: NFL WEEK 4 PICKS: DOLPHINS FELLED BY STRONG BREESAfter lucking to win their delayed opener at the L.A. Chargers and then sucking in a sleepwalk loss at the Jets last week, the Dolphins are in London to face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. (Only the diabolical NFL makes you fly 4,500 miles for a "home" game). I don't see it going well for the local lads. Click on Week 4 Gems for our predix capsules on Dolphins-Saints, our Game of the Week (Raiders-Broncos), Upset of the Week (Giants-Bucs: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game. Our week got off to a strong start last night in the Packers' rout of Chicago. Had the Gee Bees covering 7 1/2, and they did.
 
POLL RESULTS: MOST SIDE WITH NFL PLAYERS OVER TRUMP: We asked if you agree with President Trump that NFL players who do not stand for the National Anthem should be "suspended or fired," and you don't, but it wasn't a landslide. The topic is polarizing, and the vote reflected that. It was 52.9 percent no and 44.9% yes, with only 2.2% undecided.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 26, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: (Ouch) 4.8%; plus Miami embarrassed by Jets 20-6, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), reflections on 1-year anniversary of Jose Fernandez tragedy & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes crush Toledo with CSM poll, our SoFla sports cornucopia, other state Collball Week 4 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

JoseJose Fernandez tragedy: 1-year laterMy latest Sunday column reflects on the tragedy that rocked South Florida one year ago, and on the complicated legacy of Jose Fernandez. Click on Regret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 4.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 4.8 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-6 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 1-1. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Next poll: Oct. 1 (following game vs. New Orleans in London)

G2: N.Y. JETS 20, DOLPHINS 6: Postgame thoughts: Losses do not get much worse than an offensively inept 20-6 Dolphins defeat at the New York Jets. One of these teams was supposed to be among the worst in the NFL. Miami played the role. Quarterback Jay Cutler was out of synch and misfiring much of the day, only averting a shutout on a last-second TD pass to DeVante Parker, followed -- fittingly -- by a missed extra point. I might have earlier inserted Matt Moore for a spark -- any spark. Jay Ajayi rushed for a mere 16 yards on 11 carries. The pass defense was horrible, turning journeyman Josh McCown into Tom Brady. The Dolphins are very fortunate to now be 1-1, not 0-2, as they fly home, pack and head Monday to London for next week's "home" game vs. New Orleans. I did not think an offense with Ajayi, Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills could be as bad as the Fins looked today. But the last word to Adam Gase, said perfectly: "They beat the shit out of us." ..... Halftime thoughts: Awfulness abounds for the Dolphins at 10-nil down. Cutler has 38 yards passing and Ajayi is bottled up with 16 amid 49 yards total offense. Meanwhile Miami's pass defense is making Josh McCown look like Tom Brady. Adam Gase was good a week ago with halftime adjustments. He'll need some here. Lose today and Dolphins will have zero claim to being playoff caliber. Lose today and you are the team Vegas disrespected with that7 1/2 over/under on wins ..... Original post: The 1-0 Dolphins are comfy 6-point road favorites for Sunday's 1 p.m. go at the 0-2 Jets. But is Miami good enough that fans might trust a stress-free afternoon? I still wonder. I've loved the easy narrative by Your Friend the Media Mianyjthe past week that the Dolphins' season-opening win on the road verified a resilient, tough team that overcame the distraction and upheaval of Hurricane Irma and therefore can overcome anything. Um, quick reminder: Miami beat the mediocre Los Angeles Chargers 19-17 only because of the plain luck of a rookie kicker being kind enough to choke on a 44-yard field goal try in the last seconds. Kid makes kick and the whole narrative flips? Keep proving how good you are, Fins, because we don't know yet, and that process continues Sunday with what should be a low-anxiety, comfortable win over the abysmal Jets. NYJ toyed with signing Jay Cutler during the offseason but settled to recycle Josh McCown because Cutler saw a TV booth as a better situation than the woebegone Planes. Now we find out why, although Cutler may be a supporting weapon here. Jay Ajayi fantasy owners who have seen the Jets' sorry run defense are looking at this game the way a fat man looks at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The question again, though: Is Miami is good enough to deliver an easy win? Let's find out. My pick: Dolphins, 34-13. [Click Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins clobbered by Stinkin' Jets: Biggest challenge facing Dolphins as Sunday's Jets game neared? Talking up the opponent as a dangerous team with immense talent and doing so with straight faces. Or so we imagined. We thought Jets were one of worst teams in NFL. But it was Miami playing the role in Sunday's dispiriting 20-6 road loss.

2. HURRICANES: UM back in play with rout of Toledo: Soft opener vs. Bethune-Cookman, Hurricane Irma, game at Arkansas State canceled, trip to Florida State postponed, practices moved to Orlando, then play finally resumes vs. Toledo with a slow-starting 52-30 win. No idea how this Canes season will end, but it sure started bat-bleep crazy.

3. MARLINS: Stanton push, Jose anniversary: Fish down to seven games left as Giancarlo Stanton (now with 57) chases Roger Maris' untainted record of 61 home runs. More somberly, today/Monday marks 1-year anniversary of tragic boating accident that killed Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends.

4. HEAT: Miami set to open training camp: Erik Spoelstra's guys open training camp Tuesday at FAU working toward their first preseason game next Sunday vs. Atlanta. Outside expectations? Playoffs, but not much more even after last season's 30-11 second half. Heat are midpack with 14th longest championship odds of 30 NBA teams.

5. BASEBALL: Playoff grid takes shape as season ebbs: AL's Red Sox, Indians, Astros and Yankees and NL's Nationals, Dodgers and Diamondbacks have clinched playoff spots entering today and final week of MLB's regular season. If you aren't rooting for Cleveland's first World Series win since 1948, well ... what's wrong with you!?!

6. DEREK JETER: Purge targets 4 Fish notables: Jeter, frontman for the incoming new Marlins ownership group, ordered outgoing president David Samson to fire four notable (if ceremonial) "special assistants" in Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jeff Conine and Jack McKeon. Geez. Is Derek getting tips on public relations from Jeffrey Loria or what!? 

7. DONALD TRUMP: President declares war on sports, apparently: Trump blasted NFL players' anthem protests and uninvited Stephen Curry to the White House, after which LeSean McCoy called Trump an "asshole" and LeBron James called him a "bum." The good news? Feuding with sports stars is somewhat less dangerous than name-calling with maniacal dictators with hydrogen bombs.

8. PANTHERS: Cats' preseason underway: Florida played its third of six preseason games Sunday in Tampa as Oct. 6 regular-season opener looms. Remember all the hype and Stanley Cup bravado a year ago? Not now. Cats' betting over/under of 86 ½ standings points ranks a lowly 25th in 31-team NHL.

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis G.O.A.T has kid: The Palm Beach-based tennis superstar had her first child, a daughter she named Alexis Olympia. Cannot confirm that, based solely on bloodlines, Alexis is now the betting favorite to win Wimbledon in 2037.

10. WNBA: Sparks up on Lynx in Finals: It's defending champion L.A. Sparks up 1-0 in WNBA Finals over 2015 champ Minnesota Lynx, led by Miami-born league MVP Sylvia Fowles, who played at Gulliver Prep. Probably still won't watch, but at least I might think about it.

Missing the HB10 cut: FIU now 2-1. Butch Davis early frontrunner for Coach of the State ..... Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony, 33, to OKC Thunder. Who's next to swap unis in the Still Got Something Left Division? Dwyane Wade, you say? ..... Heat uniforms now bear advertising patches for Ultimate Software. Ugh. And ugly.

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Twitter @gregcote