March 10, 2017

Thank you, Mae Riback. Story of how I (finally) met my oldest fan; plus Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP race, Canes await Selection Sunday, Dolphins bashed for Stills/Branch deals, background on why 'Ballad Of 1440' happened, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, March 10. Who is panicking more right now: the fading Panthers, losers of six of past seven and now six points back in NHL playoff chase? Or Jim Morris, whose baseball Canes are 2-8 since starting 2-0? 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): "The Ballad of 1440" video debut, the dead we forgot (Ghost Tour addendum), Jimmy Buffett's retirement communities, Marlins odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Canes blown out in ACC quarters, await Selection Sunday: UM lost Thursday 78-53 to top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. Nobody except super freshman Bruce Brown (21 points) scored in double figures for UM. Canes had beaten Syracuse 62-57 on Saturday led by two  men who know Brooklyn well in coach Jim Larranaga and senior forward Kamari Murphy. Click on At Home in Brooklyn for my column off Saturday's win. Next: Selection Sunday should find Miami a mid-seed for NCAA Tournament, with an 8 vs. 9 opener most likely.

THANK YOU, MAE RIBACK: There are no "average readers." The story of most every life is a tale worth telling, which brings us to Mae Riback of Hollywood. Next week she will turn 104 -- still alert, still reading the Miami Herald daily, still turning to the sports section first. She had written me a lovely letter in late 2015, kind words in appreciation of my writing. She said how she Tinyhad read me for decades, told me I should write a book. She apologized for tremors in her penmanship, noting she was then 102. Her letter sat in a cardboard box, unseen, for 18 months. I rarely visit my office, and almost never answer envelope mail, because readers reach me by email 95 percent of the time. But on a recent visit to our Doral building I went through old mail that had accumulated, tossing most of it but somehow drawn to open this one envelope. Guilt overrode me. Here this centenarian had taken time to write such a kind letter, and I had ignored it! Eighteen months later, as I finally wrote back, I dreaded I might be too late. I cannot tell you who was happier when she called me on the number I'd given. We met this week, at the Hollywood apartment she shares with a fulltime aide in the Hillcrest area. Her handshake was unexpectedly firm. She uses a walker and struggles to hear but is sharp, and looked 20 years younger than I'd imagined. I gave her a copy of my Herald book, "Fins At 50," which I'd signed. She has been a Dolphins fan for years. ("But they annoy me lately!" she said). Ms. Riback was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. but moved here in 1971 after a 25-year career teaching phys-ed. She loved tennis and golf, so retiring with her husband to South Florida was a dream. Her aide produces a Sept. 30, 1950 page from The Grossinger Times with Mae "Tiny" Riback in a headline for having won a tennis tournament. Only 0.02 percent of Americans live to be 100. I asked how she explains her longevity. "I played. I moved all the time," she said. "Tennis I was best at, but sports, to me, were No. 1." Her racket is retired now but she remains active. Plays bridge every week. Reads the Herald voraciously, devours CNN or CNBC to stay up on current events. We parted with another strong handshake, and this time she asked me to lean down so she might kiss my cheek. She was was delighted by our meeting, and said she'd tell everyone she knew all about it. Tiny, the pleasure and honor were mine. [Click on Thank You, Mae Riback to see the column as it appears online

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (65 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 31-34 after Wednesday night's home win over Charlotte, here's The Luddite's 13th installment, with 60-game rank in parentheses.

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (65 games):

Luddite1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,869

2. Goran Dragic (2)             1,721

3. James Johnson (3)          1,207

4. Tyler Johnson (4)            1,189

5. Dion Waiters (5)               994

6. Rodney McGruder (6)      674

7. Wayne Ellington (7)         651

8. Josh Richardson (9)         561

9. Willie Reed (8)                558

10. Luke Babbitt (10)          421

Others: Justise Winslow 355, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 154, Udonis Haslem 72.

ESPN ANALYST SLAMS DOLPHINS' RE-SIGNING OF STILLS, BRANCH: While some in the local media genuflect over the Dolphins re-signing their own free agents in receiver Kenny Stills (pictured) and defensive end Andre Branch, at least one prominent ESPN analyst slams the deals. Bill Barnwell grades each a "D+" (ouch) in this analysis of early free-agent activity. (Teams may begin signing others' unrestricted free agents beginning at 4 p.m. today). An excerpt/synopsis of Barnwell's criticism of the Stills deal: "Miami shelled out $20 million in guarantees as part of a four-year, $3e2 million deal to bring its third wideout back to South Florida. The Dolphins are bringing back a player coming off a nine-touchdown season, one that isn't Stillssupported by usage rate and is almost guaranteed to regress toward the mean. In terms of total production during his two seasons with the Dolphins, Stills is 77th in the league in receptions and 57th in receiving yards. Nobody's expecting him to catch a high percentage of his passes because he is thrown so many deep balls, but Stills has the fifth-worst catch rate in the league among guys with 100 or more targets the past two seasons, at 47.9 percent. Because it takes so many passes for him to hook up with his quarterback, the Dolphins generate only 8.1 yards per Stills target, which is 35th in the league. Unless the Dolphins target Stills more, he isn't going to offer much of a return on this deal. Where are those targets coming from? Jarvis Landry probably isn't going anywhere. DeVante Parker has at least two years left on his rookie deal and has looked brilliant when healthy. The Dolphins committed to a run-heavy approach once Jay Ajayi got the starting job last season. This is the same organization that traded three picks, including their third- and fourth-round selections in the 2017 draft, to move up and grab Rutgers wideout Leonte Carroo in April. Carroo now has no path to a meaningful role in the offense one year after he was worth what amounted to a mid-second-round pick off draft capital. Carroo might very well be a bust, but it's both too early to judge and a horrible sign for Miami's ability to gauge talent if he's a sure-fire failure after one season. Mike Tannenbaum is paying for the player the Dolphins want Stills to be, which is something approximating DeSean Jackson. At 24, Stills could develop into that sort of player, but he hasn't been that guy yet in his career. This is a receiver who has one 100-yard game (and that was exactly 100 yards) in his time with the Dolphins, a wideout who did most of his damage against average-or-worse pass defenses, such as those of the Bills, Browns, Bengals, 49ers and Jets last season. That's a guy worth taking a shot on, but even in this inflated market, $20 million in guarantees is an exorbitant sum." Now, Barnwell's criticism of the Branch deal: "The Dolphins have one of the league's most expensive defensive lines, anchored by two elite players in Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. They wanted a third pass-rusher last offseason and paid a premium for Mario Williams while quietly adding Branch, a former Jaguars bust, on a one-year, $2.5 million deal to serve as a backup. Williams busted in spectacular (if predictable) fashion, while Branch was a useful reserve, racking up 5.5 sacks and 12 hits on 430 pass rush attempts. You would think that the Dolphins would figure that most players are going to look effective playing next to two Hall of Fame-caliber defenders and allow Branch to leave while signing the next buy-low opportunity to play alongside Suh and Wake. Instead, the Dolphins paid a hefty premium to keep Branch around, giving him $27 million over three years. Much depends on the structure of this deal, but in a draft exceedingly deep in pass-rushers, Miami likely overpaid to hold onto a player whom it could have replaced at a fraction of the cost." My take: Somewhere between the local fawning and Barnwell's harsh view is the truth. The Dolphins kept two very useful players in Stills and Branch ... but paid dearly, likely paid too much.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 3-10-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Minnesota at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Fading Cats have lost 6 of 7, now 6 points off NHL playoff pace.

2. United States vs. Colombia, 6 p.m.: U.S. opener in World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park.

3. ACC Tournament semifinals, 7 p.m.: It's Duke-North Carolina and then Florida State-Notre Dame.

4. Florida vs. Vanderbilt, 7 p.m.: No. 2-seed Gators men debut in SEC Tournament in Nashville.

5. Georgia Tech at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: UM baseball, off to 4-8 start, hosts ACC opener.

'THE BALLAD OF 1440': HOW, WHY IT HAPPENED: "Greg, why are you standing in your very messy garage, appearing in a very homemade video and singing while wearing a suit and cowboy hat?" It is a reasonable question. Why the suit and hat is hard to answer. I guess I just felt like it, and wanted something that might stand out visually. The rest of it is easier to answer. I have 1440always enjoyed singing, which is not the same as claiming I have a good voice, which I do not. (I have an earnest voice that means well). "The Singing Sportswriter" used to be an alter-ego of mine on Dan LeBatard's radio show as I'd write what were meant to be humorous parodies related to sports. A few years ago I recorded a serious song, called "Letting Go," that my late friend Alan Cherry had written. This new song, "The Ballad Of 1440," was borne of nostalgia, wistfulness and gratitude. The newspaper business, socked hard, is working hard to reinvent itself. I have grown old enough to have retirement now on the back burner. My mentor, Edwin Pope, just died. These things together led me to reflect on growing up and falling into the career I did -- how unexpected that was, and how lucky I am. I happened to hear an old and obscure song called "Muswell Hillbilly" and though the structure would adapt well to autobiographical lyrics I could write. "1440" is the street address where I grew up in Hollywood, Florida, and the song is about how I'll always be that little barefoot, lower-middle-class kid who was the first in his family to go to college. The video, shot by my oldest son Christopher, includes opening and closing credits (with a dedication), and is interspersed with several old family photos of me when I was a boy. The song may be hard for some to take seriously -- it is, after all, me singing in a messy garage wearing a cowboy hat! -- but know that the sentiment behind it is genuine. This is meant as a thank-you to a lot of people who have helped me along the way, including our most loyal and longtime Miami Herald readers and radio listeners. I hope you enjoy it and in case you missed it,the video is below:

Select recent columns: Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. At Home in Brooklyn, on UM's win over Syracuse in ACC tourney. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: Amar'e Joins the Shame Club.  NFL's Arrested Development.  The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 01, 2017

PopeFest: Thanks for making celebration of Edwin Pope a huge success! Sharing thoughts and videos; plus over/under on Marlins wins, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (60 games), my NFL player-arrests column, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, March 1. Happy new month, all! 2) You a Dolfan? Know any? Buy our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, World OutGames Miami, your Tannehill vs. 3 options verdict, Seinfeld on his game & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Over/under on Marlins wins: MLB victory over/unders via Bovada find Cubs on top at 95.5. In NL East it's Nationals 90.5, Mets 88.5, Marlins 76.5, and Braves and Phillies both 73.5.

My latest column: NFL still all over map on arrested players: The NFL has banned certain player with arrest histories from this week's Scouting Combine, but will welcome those same into its draft. College and pro football could get serious on this if they chose, but it's easier (and self-serving) to just pretend to care. Click on NFL's Arrested Development for my latest column.

Popefest2'EDWIN POPE DAY' IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY CRESCENDOS WITH CELEBRATION: Thanks to the hundreds who showed up last night for PopeFest at The Clevelander/Marlins Park -- a celebration of the life and career of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope. Dan LeBatard and I were pleased to co-host the event in honor of our great friend and mentor. Guests included championship football coach Howard Schnellenberger, Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese, Miami-Dade School Board icon G. Holmes Braddock, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Dave Barry, sports broadcasting's Hank Goldberg, ESPN's Amin Elhassan and king of Liberty City Luther (Uncle Luke) Campbell, in addition to Heat, Dolphins and Orange Bowl Committee officials. The crowd also includes readers, of course, folks who never met Edwin but felt like they knew him through his writing. Evening highlights included the proclamation of "Edwin Pope Day" by Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez. Here are couple of videos from last night.

Video 1: LeBatard, Cote and Hank Goldberg share thoughts and feelings about Edwin Pope:

Video 2: Cote welcomes the crowd, mayor proclaims "Edwin Pope Day":

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (60 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 27-33 after Monday night's 96-89 loss at Dallas, here's The Luddite's 12th installment, with 55-game rank in parentheses.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (60 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,734

2. Goran Dragic (2)             1,580

3. James Johnson (3)          1,120

4. Tyler Johnson (4)            1,107

5. Dion Waiters (5)               885

6. Rodney McGruder (6)      626

7. Wayne Ellington (7)         562

8. Willie Reed (9)                523

9. Josh Richardson (8)         495

10. Luke Babbitt (11)          370

Others: Justise Winslow 355, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 120, Udonis Haslem 72.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 3-1-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Philadelphia at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami enters game 2 back of 8th place in playoff chase.

2. Marlins at Houston, 1:05 p.m.: Spring game vs. Astros in West Palm Beach.

3. Arkansas at Gators, 7 p.m.: No. 12 UF men in next-to-last regular season game.

4. ACC women's tournament, 1 p.m.: In Conway, S.C., with UM Hurricanes' first game Thursday.

5. NHL trade deadline, 3 p.m.: But no big Panthers deals expected.

Select other recent columns: The Wonder of Coach L, off Canes' win over Duke, on job Jim Larranaga has done this season. It's What's Great About Sports, on Heat and Panthers' concurrent surge. The Miracle of Liberty City, on how youth football there is about more than scoring TDs. Also: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! Loria: The End Of An Error. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 21, 2017

Details on open-to-the-public Miami celebration of the late, great Edwin Pope; plus the magic of Liberty City youth football (with video), Greg Cote at age 7, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, February 21. Hope you all enjoyed your Presidents Day, to the degree that's still possible in 2017. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Whiteside column, your Marlins-expectations verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

EpopeDETAILS: CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF EDWIN POPE IN A PUBLIC EVENT IN MIAMI: A public celebration in honor of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope has been set for next Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Clevelander bar inside Marlins Park. A private ceremony was held this past weekend in Okeechobee for Pope, who passed away Jan. 19 at age 88, but this will be the first event in his honor held in Miami and open to the public. The celebration is free and will include an open bar and light food. However, only a limited number of invitees may be chosen from those who RSVP and describe what Pope meant to them in a Herald career that began in 1967 through his retirement as full-time sports columnist in 2003. RSVPs should be emailed as soon as possible to: edwinpopememorial@gmail.com. The event is being hosted by two of Edwin's biggest fans, ESPN Radio's Dan Le Batard and the Herald's Greg Cote. Hey. That's me!

NEW DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHTS THE MAGIC OF LIBERTY CITY YOUTH FOOTBALL: I was pleased to interview Miami icon Luther Campbell (Uncle Luke, pictured) yesterday for my new column to help promote a forthcoming Libcity Lukedocumentary film about the Liberty City Optimist youth football program he helped found more than 20 years ago. It has produced current NFL stars such as Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper, Devonta Freeman, Teddy Bridgewater and Duke Johnson and continues to be a thriving community focal point on Saturdays during football season. I wrote about this now because the film, Rivals: The Boom Squad, is premiering Wednesday night at 10:30 on the Viceland cable channel. Click Viceland.com and click channel finder to track down where you can see it. There also will be a live local showing of the 45-minute film on Sunday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 N.W. 22nd Ave., Miami. A 30-second trailer is presented directly below. The Liberty City Warriors, Gwen Cherry Bulls and other teams thrive because they are needed in a city that can be a tough place for kids to grow up, too often under the threat of gun violence. It is about more than football. As Campbell told us, "Our purpose is to save lives." Click on The Miracle of Liberty City to ready my full column.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 2-21-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins spring training, 9:30 a.m.: Another workday in Jupiter, with spring games starting next weekend.

2. South Carolina at Gators, 7 p.m.: No. 13 UF hosts 'Cocks in SEC men's game.

3. Delray Beach Open, 11 a.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event continues.

Other select recent columns: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, my new one, surveying Heat at the all-star break. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from the start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

GREG COTE, AGE 7: In the autobiographical song I'll soon post on social media, called "The Ballad of 1440," there is a lyric that refers to "Tonka tanks on a pebble drive." Well, lo and behold, looking through scrapbooks, I unearthed an old photo (very) of me around age 7 playing with said tank. Wish I still had it. I leave you with that ghostly photo today...

Mekid2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 18, 2017

How will Marlins do this season? Set the early bar on expectations. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Cam Wake, my Fish column, Edwin Pope news, what Kate Upton is (not) wearing, ode to the Monopoly thimble, new Hot Button Daily & more

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

Mepic1) It is SATURDAY, February 18. We're about to put out a new song, "The Ballad of 1440," an autobiographical tale of a little boy in Hollywood, Florida who grew up to have an unexpected life. Click on image at left to see larger version. Will post a video of song on social media later this month. Stay tuned. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump sticks nose in Marlins' sale, Branden Albert, Shane Battier, 3 Fins in PFF 101, Fish farm barren, your Villain Purge verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins extend Cam Wake contract: Announced today, it's through the 2018 season.

My new Marlins column: From Jupiter and the team's first full-squad workday of spring training, I wrote of how nothing is ever simple for this team. Still getting over the Jose Fernandez grief, now the players deal with questions about the prospective sale of the team and other off-field stuff. Click on French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball! to read.

Edwin Pope news: The Miami Herald longtime former sports columnist, who passed away earlier this year,  is being honored today in Okeechobee in a private celebration for family, friends and colleagues. There had been no public event planned. However, myself and Dan LeBatard are putting together a Miami event to honor Edwin that will be free and open to the public. Stay tuned for details. 

MattinglyWHAT IS YOUR OPTIMISM ON MARLINS SEASON AS TEAM STAGES FIRST FULL-SQUAD SPRING WORKOUT?: I'll be up in Jupiter for a column today as the Marlins stage their first full-squad workout of the spring. Much swirls around this team (as usual). The tragic offseason death of Jose Fernandez is a huge loss both from emotional and baseball standpoints. Now the team also deals with the distracting speculation about Jeffrey Loria selling the team and the White House-related Kushner family maybe buying and the possible offer to Loria of an ambassadorship to France (!) tossing a monkey wrench. But somewhere amid all of that there will be a baseball season, Miami's second under manager Don Mattingly (pictured). Most NL East estimations are that the Nationals are clear favorites and the Mets are next, with the Marlins in the middle -- better, at least, than the Braves and Phillies. The playoffs seem a longshot. Again. Although the Marlins toying around with .500 and contention seems plausible. We invite your thoughts on the matter. Take a dip in our poll and set the expectations bar on this Marlins season.

KateUptonNO, IT IS NOT SEXIST TO SHOW THIS COVER PHOTO IN MY BLOG BECAUSE IT'S FROM A SPORTS MAGAZINE AND SHE IS WEARING (HALF OF) WHAT COULD ALMOST BE A SWIMSUIT, SORT OF: Cover your eyes, Junior! And click on the image to see a larger version, Dad. The Sports Illustrated "swimsuit issue" continues as a sublime and ridiculous slice of Americana and an annual $$$-maker for SI. This year three models get the cover prize of this week's current issue, with Kate Upton pictured here, setting a record in the category, "Minimalist Swimwear." (Note to self: Consider an abrupt career change; apply to be a Sports Illustrated photographer. Unless, that is, SI's budget and staffing have gone the way of the newspaper, in which case the person taking this photo may have been the lone remaining SI editor, or perhaps one of the other models using a smartphone). Where was I ? Is this a swimsuit bottom or jewelry? How come on my occasional forays to the beach I see not a person who looks like this (un)dressed like this, but rather a matronly, waddling Canadian packed into a black one-piece like 20 pounds of potatoes crammed in a 10-pound sack? That's a rhetorical question. Keep doing the great work you do, Kate Upton!

ThimbleFAREWELL, THIMBLE. R.I.P.: The Monopoly board game is retiring its Thimble after 82 years. The Thimble, though never respected like the Dog or the Tophat, has stood sturdily across the generations, moving inexorably around the board, easing past the Iron, passing go, landing on Free Parking, staying out of jail, quietly making money for its owners. Farewell, great, humble Thimble, and a thumb's up to you. Gone ... but never forgotten.   

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 2-18-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Clemson at Hurricanes, noon: UM men playing for NCAA Tournament seeding in final regular games.

2. Panthers at Los Angeles, 10 p.m.: Playoff-chasing Cats have won three in row and five of past six.

3. NBA All-Star events, 8 p.m.: Including 3-Point and Slam-Dunk contests.

4. Kansas at Baylor, 1 p.m.: A men's Final Four feel with No. 3 at No. 4.

5. Rutgers at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: Second of three in opening baseball series at The Light.

Select recent columns: French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, the new one, from the start of Marlins spring training. Surge Has Heat Buyers, LeBron In View, on how Heat's recent run has Miami poised to be buyers at trade deadline as possibility of first-round playoff meeting with LeBron James looms. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Show us the way, Edwin Pope, Falcons-Patriots SB, Women's March, Juan Pablo Montoya & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 23. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page, debuting today. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Remembering Edwin Pope, NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside battered in all-star voting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl!: Click on Championship Game Gems for yesterday's Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots NFC and AFC title-game picks, and on A Dramatic Final Four for my preview column.

Montoya wins historic Miami Race Of Champions: Historic? The 28th annual ROC had never before been held in the U.S. before Saturday's race in Miami, on a racetrack built inside Marlins Park. And Miami driver Juan Pablo Montoya won. Crazy, one-of-a kind day. Click on Home Run For Montoya, Miami for my column from the race.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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. EDWIN POPE: Herald sports icon dies at 88: If you are from South Florida, are aware life existed before ESPN SportsCenter or have ever held a newspaper in your hands, then you probably said or thought last week, “I grew up reading Edwin Pope.” Thank you, kind sir, friend, colleague and mentor. R.I.P. 

2. NFL: Championship Sunday gives us a Falcons-Pats Super Bowl: Atlanta walloped Green Bay and New England dispatched Pittsburgh on Sunday for the NFC and AFC titles to reach Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston. The blowout games were decided by 23- and 19-point margins. The challenge? For the Super Bowl to be better. You know, an actual good game?

3. WOMEN'S MARCH: Women lead world's biggest protest march. Ever: Estimates are more than 4 million women worldwide including more than 500,000 in Washington, D.C. marched Saturday to protest Donald Trump and stand up for the freedoms and rights. Hmm. Impressive. But can't help but wonder: If that same passion and numbers had participated in the election, would there have been a need to march?

4. MOTORSPORTS: Montoya wins Race of Champions at Marlins Park: Most different, unique sporting event in Miami history? You could do worse than nominating NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One stars racing against each other inside a baseball stadium this weekend in the ROC series' first U.S. appearance. Miami won twice as hometown driver Juan Pablo Montoya won Saturday's main event.

5. HEAT: Three straight wins in a lost season as trade deadline looms: Good news? Miami has its first three-game win streak of season. Bad news? Everything else. Record is still only 14-30 and streak is unlikely to reach four as Heat host Golden State tonight. Be honest. The most compelling things left in this lost season are the two dates for the trade deadline and draft lottery.

6. MARLINS: Fish acquire quality starting pitcher: The latest aftershock of the Jose Fernandez tragedy: Miami dealt three prospects to Cincinnati for righty starter Dan Straily, who was 14-8 in 31 starts for Reds last year.

7. BASEBALL: Two ex-Marlins elected to Hall of Fame: Pudge Rodriguez, of course, had a starring role in helping Marlins win the 2003 World Series. But count yourself a real Fish fan if you also recall that, the year before, Tim Raines ended his 23-year career as a reserve here.

8. TENNIS: Both No. 1 seeds out as Australian Open enters final week: No. 1 seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both were ousted the same day, the first time in the modern era the Australian Open has lost both No. 1s before the quarterfinals. An even bigger shock: Why wasn't Serena Williams No. 1?

9. PANTHERS: Three straight losses, but Florida still in playoff hunt: As NHL all-star break looms, Cats have cooled off with three straight losses but lurk only two points off playoff in Eastern Conference. Still, when you were talking Stanley Cup and are scrambling for an eighth seed -- that's a disappointing season.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Tough stretch for Canes men, women: Miami's No. 14-ranked women have lost three of past six. The men have dropped four of past five  after Saturday's loss at Duke. Better snap out of it fast, Team Larranaga. No. 9 North Carolina visits in five days.

Missing the HB10 cut: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich devoted seven minutes of a news conference Saturday to a pro-women's march, anti-Donald Trump soliloquy, pretty brave for a man who lives and works in Texas. It's enough to make me root for a Spurs championship just to see if he gets a White House invite, or goes ..... Former Marlins ace Josh Johnson retired at 32 from elbow issues, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago ..... Prior to Bellator 170, Chael Sonnen talked trash. Tito Ortiz made his statement in the fight ..... A 25-year-old dunce from Boston was arrested for pulling a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. Put him in a room alone with James Harrison for 20 minutes ..... Saw the headline, 'Beagle scores in OT as Capitals beat Stars,' and thought, "Wow, what a great story!" But it turned out to be a guy named Jay Beagle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Florida Panthers owner and Trump nominee for Secretary of the Army Vinnie Viola once was accused of punching a man in the face at a horse auction."

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 21, 2017

Remembering an epic life and personal hero: Edwin Pope, 1928-2017, R.I.P.; plus NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside collect further disrespect, Women's March, Race Of Champions & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 21. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Edwin Pope dies, Kiper's mock draft for Dolphins, two ex-Marlins make Hall, cowardly Goodell, your Super Bowl preference, BIMD video (The Circus) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Women's March on Washington: Much respect to the hundreds of thousands participating today in the Women's March in D.C., a grass-roots stand-up for freedoms and rights. Proud to say my wife, and many others I know, are among them.

Race Of Champions: The ROC series is in the U.S. for first time today in Miami, with stars from NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One all racing together inside Marlins Park. I like big events and am a curiosity seeker, so I'll be there columnizing.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, my latest column, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald legend. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

TO A MONUMENTAL CAREER, AN EPIC LIFE AND A CHERISHED MENTOR: THANK YOU, EDWIN POPE: [Blog note: I rarely do this. I link to columns of mine, but rarely reprint them in their entirety here in the blog. But the death of my great friend and mentor, last night at age 88, is too important to me to not share as broadly as I can. So here is my tribute column]:

Epope
The Edwin I first knew, circa mid-'70s

"I grew up reading Edwin Pope." How many generations in South Florida will be saying that, thinking it, feeling it today? I was coming of age as a sports fan who hadn’t yet discovered he was interested in writing when Pope was at the peak of his powers, and reading him kindled and sparked something in me.

What it did was give me a future, a passion, a career.

Thank you, Edwin. For your inspiration, your talent, your grace, your mentorship and your friendship.Thank you so much.

South Florida and the Miami Herald have lost a giant with the passing of Edwin Pope at age 88. Newspapering and sports journalism and the craft of putting words in just the right order have all lost a giant.

Edwin came to the Herald in 1956 in his late 20s. He was sports editor and main sports columnist from 1967 until he retired in 2003, though still writing occasionally the next several years until age and Alzheimer’s dictated otherwise. I loathe the frivolous overuse of words like "legend," but the superlative has not yet been invented that can properly describe the epic arc of Pope’s career chronicling Miami sports.

From the black and white days of Cassius Clay in the 5th Street Gym to the Heat drafting some kid named Dwyane Wade — and everything in between — Edwin was the eyes and ears for South Florida sports fans, the rhyme and the reason.

He reigned before ESPN "SportsCenter" and before the Internet changed everything, putting news and opinion everywhere, and right now, diminishing the influence of the local newspaper. He reigned when "the paper" thudded onto front lawns every morning, up and down your block, and you turned to the sports section first to see what Pope had to say.

Dan LeBatard and I tried to replace him when he left. We never had a chance. Voices are everywhere, but there is no replacing Sinatra. Pope ends an era.

I felt smarter, as a teenager, when I read Edwin. There might be a word (or three) in every column that sent me to the dictionary. I liked that. He never talked down to readers. It’s a concept that has informed my own writing.

Edwin wrote with poetic elan. He told stories. He could make the scene on a racetrack’s backstretch as interesting as the horse race itself. You smelled the hay. You closed your eyes and saw the groom mucking-out the stable.

Epope2
Edwin in his career's latter stage

Edwin also could be direct. When he wanted a column to throw a punch, it landed.

When Lou Saban abruptly left the University of Miami football team after only two years following the 1978 season to coach at West Point, the lead to Pope’s column was: "You wanted a deserter, Army? You got one."

Edwin didn’t tap-dance into a column or, in the parlance of a former editor of ours, "clear his throat." He got to it. He was concise. He didn’t overwrite, either in style or length. He valued his readers too much to waste their time.

He was like that off the page, too.

He was a gentle man, but one whose humor could be sharp, and bite.

He’d had a stormy relationship with Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, and once kidded the only thing wrong with the name of the stadium was that it wasn’t Joe Robbie Memorial Stadium. (At least I think he was kidding.)

Edwin commanded utmost respect in press boxes. He was the dean, the monarch, the legend. If the clatter got too noisy too close to deadline, Edwin eventually would raise a hand and loudly snap, "Quiet!" and the room would shut up. He didn’t have to say it twice.

You didn’t want to be a waiter who ignored Edwin once too often when he was fishing for another drink.

"What’s a man got to do to get another Heinekin around here!?!" he once stood and loudly squawked from our table in some far-flung city after some game, Southern drawl lifting into a high pitch.

Epopejoelouis
A favorite photo of his: A young Edwin Pope with boxer Joe Louis

Edwin was a drinker. May I say that? We had a good time on the many road trips we took together.

I was in the company of Edwin and more than one unnamed UM football coach as the two of them killed a 12-pack of beer hours before a game. You’d visit his hotel room and not be surprised to see a jug of red wine on ice in the bathroom sink. Once we closed down a bar in (I think) Indianapolis, stumbled out into the cold and were discussing how to go about getting a cab when it dawned on us our hotel was right in front of us.

I delighted to cover the 1992 Summer Olympics with Edwin in Barcelona, in a cramped, barracks-style dorm room we shared. After two weeks, the day before we flew out, we treated each other by taking a cab to the city’s famous nude beach to take in the sights. Why not!

Edwin was a wonderful colleague and road-trip companion of mine for 30 some years. Mostly he was a writing hero, somebody who was what I wanted to be. I have never stopped striving or falling short, or being grateful for his influence in my life and career.

His was a long, wonderful life well-led.

Thank you, Edwin. Always. Thank you.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FripixPLAYOFFS: CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: OUR PICKS FOR NFL'S SUNDAY AFC, NFC TITLE GAMES: Lots of football fans call this Sunday the single best day of the season, better even than the Super Bowl, and I expect Packers at Falcons and then Steelers at Patriots to live up to expectations. A great final four! Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season, and we're 6-0 in the postseason after rolling a perfect 4-0 last week. Click on Championship Game Gems for my latest picks on the AFC and NFC title games. I see one game going as expected and the other not. We also offer our accompanying NFL column that today quantifies how good this final four is, historically, and how it gets the attention back where it belongs, on the field, after a weird week of drama for the NFL. Click on A Dramatic Final Four to read.

THE LIST: THIS FINAL FOUR IN THE POSTSEASON: Historically, this NFL final four includes three league giants and one interloper, as this list verifies. The franchise, head coach and quarterback records of these four teams in the postseason, listed in order of most all-time postseason wins, with total NFL championships listed in parentheses:

Team                                Franchise            Head coach                   Quarterback

Pittsburgh Steelers (6)       36-23, .610         Mike Tomlin, 8-5           Ben Roethlisberger, 13-6

Green Bay Packers (13)      34-21, .618        Mike McCarthy, 10-7       Aaron Rodgers, 9-6

New England Patriots (4)   30-19, .612         Bill Belichick, 24-10       Tom Brady, 23-9

Atlanta Falcons (0)             8-12, .400         Dan Quinn, 1-0              Matt Ryan, 2-4

HwhitesideHEAT BATTERED IN ALL-STAR VOTING, WHITESIDE SNUBBED: Hassan Whiteside collects perceived slights the way others of us collects stamps or coins, and he has added a big new one to his collection. He barely made the East frontcourt top 10 in NBA all-star voting, slotting in 10th overall after finishing eighth in the media vote, 11th by fans, and only 14th by players. Your colleagues don't respect you, bro! Get angry! Get even! No Goran Dragic in the East backcourt top 10. Starters were named Thursday. Reserves get added next week. I'd think Whiteside (pictured) will be included, but it sure isn't a given after his comeuppance in the triangular vote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 05, 2016

Revisiting my infamous "trade Marino" column, 22 years later; plus Mario Williams to Fins?, Phil Mickelson reborn, the silly outrage over my Eric Reid impression & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 5. R.I.P. Bud Collins, 86, respected tennis writer/broadcaster/historian. 2) You want a cheap laugh at Donald Trump's expense? Who doesn't! Visit TrumpDonald.org, click on the horn and enjoy. 3) A terrific read (click here) by our former Herald colleague Joe Goodman on the terrible hazing injuries Bart Starr suffered while at Alabama. Strong work, Goody! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Three reason why this week's Doral golf is special, Marriott's shameful attack on Erin Andrews, FIU's women's basketball scandal, Dolphins draft, cheerleader saves NFL Combine, Heat/Panthers betting odds, your Best-Oscar verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Mario Williams to Dolphins?: The recently released Bills defensive end, 31, is visiting with the Dolphins today, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The four-time Pro Bowl'er has 96 career sacks, though only five last season. Exploring Williams is smart, especially considering Miami may yet lose Olivier Vernon in free agency, which begins next week. Signing Williams would be costly, though, and not easy. Other potential suitors could include the Cowboys, Cardinals, Raiders, Giants and Eagles.

PhilMickelson: Golf's reinvigorated star: Click on The Rebirth of Phil Mickelson for our latest column from the World Golf Championships event at Doral. Mickelson is on leaderboard at 5-under, tied for seventh place entering Saturday play to continue a strong early 2016. At age 45 and with a new swing coach, he is determined to win again on the PGA Tour, which he last did in 2013. The sport is about Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and the young guns now, but old favorite Mickelson ain't done yet.

REVISITING MY INFAMOUS "TRADE MARINO" COLUMN: That's the easiest way to recall what I wrote on Nov. 4, 1993 and how many folks remember it, although I put "trade Marino" in quotes here because the column did not make an unequivocal case that Miami should trade its veteran quarterback. My opinion was not quite as strong as the headline pictured conveyed -- I only wrote that it may be time to consider that then-blasphemous notion. The column, Trademarinoabout which I still get occasional and mostly snarky emails and references, arose anew recently because a Twitter site called Freezing Cold Takes (@OldTakesExposed) cited the column. The Twitter site has made a cottage industry of holding media folks accountable for things written or said that have proved wrong, things that the writer (or sayer) surely now regrets. Two quick points: A) What I wrote seems even more legit now, in 20/20 retrospect, than it did at the time. B) I don't regret writing it; quite the opposite. More on both points in a second. First, a word about that Twitter site. It is a good idea. We media blowhards should be held accountable for what we put out there. It's also a weird idea, though. It's akin to political fact-checkers divining the truth of what candidates say in debates, only in the Silly Division. It's funny to me: A self-appointed Twitter Watchdog protecting society from the idea Stephen A. Smith (or I) might say something that proves ludicrous and get away with it. We're in the toy department, people. We're giving opinions (now doing business as hot takes) on sports, for God's sake. OK, back to what I wrote late in a Dolphins season over 22 years ago. That was a great column. Seriously. I don't say that often of my own work. It was great because it was intensely debated and remains memorable, and because it broached a taboo topic and made a case. It made news. Local TV stations interviewed me about it. The only thing I didn't like about it being a part of @OldTakesExposed is the implication the column is a dark secret I'd rather have kept hidden, or that it was a column I regret writing. Neither is true, or close to it. Marino, then 32 and out with an Achilles injury, was in his 11th Dolphin season still looking for that elusive Super Bowl ring. He would play six more seasons, and retire still ring-less. Great as Marino was, big as his stats were, Miami was not getting where it wanted to go with him and, at 32, he still had trade value. Maybe it was time to get a bounty for him and move on, that's all. What I wrote might have been stupendously mockable had Miami gone on to win a couple of Super Bowls late in his career. But the way it turned out, what Dolfan can honestly say the Fins might not have benefited from the change I wrote about? It was worth considering, which essentially is all I said. I'll never forget Marino's reaction the next day in the lockerroom. He was asked about the column because it had become news in a way, something requiring a response. So what did he think of what Cote wrote? "He may be right," Marino said. Twenty-two years later, you can still make fun of the column if you wish. You can still bring it up like something I'd rather you didn't and try to pin it on me like a regret. I'll wear it like a medal, thanks.    

ON MY IMITATING HEAT BROADCASTER ERIC REID: This, like what's above, is sort of about me, but I wish to respond to the 790 The Ticket morning radio show slamming me the other day over my Ericreid"disrespectful" impersonation of Heat play-by-play broadcaster Eric Reid (pictured), which I do very, very occasionally (when asked) when guest-hosting on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. I LOL'd when I heard Zaslow's outrage replayed by LeBatard on Thursday, finding it doubly funny because I knew he wasn't kidding. Zas, who refers to himself as "a two-time Champion Broadcaster for the Miami Heat Radio Network," was defending his friend and colleague Reid, which is fine, but does a harmless impersonation really rise to a level meriting anger? Whatever happened to "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"? Reid's face and voice are well-known in this market. He's a local legend of sorts, which is why he rises to the level of somebody someone might imitate in the first place. Eric has a distinct delivery and well-known catchphrases that make an audio caricature of him so inviting. He also is obsessed with providing statistics and arcane facts, which I find funny. ("That's Whiteside's third block tonight and 51st this month!") I consider my impression a compliment more than disrespect. In fact I respect Reid very much. Doesn't mean I can't have a little good-natured fun with him. Is it disrespectful when impressionist Frank Caliendo does his Jim Rome? Or when a caricature sketch artist exaggerates someone's features? I'm a Miami guy, on a fun-first radio show, mimicking the Heat's popular play-by-play man. That's all. It's benign frivolity. Save the outrage for something that matters.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 21, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 35.9%; plus UM beats Nebraska 36-33 in OT; also FIU wins, other state Collball Week 3, early verdict on new Herald look & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. Click on Random Evidence for the farewell collector's edition of our last Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami Herald redesign with poll, NFL Week 2 picks, Seminoles & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Canes-Nebraska game column: Find our in-game blog directly below the new CSM poll. Click on This Won't Help Golden Much for my game column from the stadium, newly online.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 35.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame 1aa1acsmpoll, and they show 35.9 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very"and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Saturday's 36-33 overtime victory over visiting Nebraska putting UM's season record at 3-0. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Monday.

2015 CSM Results

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

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

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

Next poll: Oct. 1 (following game at Cincinnati)

Interpreting the latest vote: Majority dissatisfaction over UM's blown 23-point lead was balanced by the ultimate win and by the 3-0 record for a slight favorable bump in the overall approval rating. Still significantly below what you'd think the record would indicate, with Al Golden's unpopularity a major factor.

G3: HURRICANES 36, NEBRASKA 33 (FINAL/OT): UNRANKED? NO MATTER. IT WAS A HUGE GAME: Final: Miami led 14-0 fast and then 30-10 and then blew it and saw Nebraska force overtime before surviving 36-33. Wow. So much to like, so much not to. I'll have my game column online soon. ..... Overtime: What an escape! UM wins 36-33 on Michael Badgley 28-y FG after a Corn Elder INT thwarts Nebraska's drive to start OT. That is correct: A team named Cornhuskers were just beaten by a man named Corn. ..... Fourth Q: The unthinkable just happened. Nebraska tied it 33-33 with an 8-yard TD pass and 2-point conversion with 33 seconds to play. Overtime. Nightmare. ... Uh oh. Cornies within 33-25 on 21-y TD pass with 3:46 left. Miami can't possibly blow this game. can it? ... NEB within 33-18 on 10-yard TD pass and 2-point conversion with 8:36 left. ... UM settles for a fourth FG to make it 33-10. Kaaya up to 366 yards, a career high, still with 11 minutes left. ... Kaaya throws end-zone interception, his first turnover of season. ..... Third Q: Deon Bush pickoff for Miami defense brings third quarter to a close. ... UM settles for 41y FG and 30-10 lead after holding penalty negates 19y Mark Walton scoring run. ... Nebraska bags first TD, moves within 27-10 on 22-y pass mid-quarter. ... UM up 27-3 quickly on Joe Yearby's tackle-busting 41-y scoring run. ..... Halftime: Kaaya with 226 yards passing and two TDs and dominant defense spell the first half. Now we see if UM can pull away and make it an impressive rout, or allow a Cornhuskers comeback. ..... Second Q: Huge INT by Artie Burns, his third already this season, for Miami. NEB was driving, threatening to pull within 20-10 and make a game of it late in half. ... Cornies get on board with 49y FG, Canes counter with 27-yard for 20-3 lead. Settled, though, wasting a 53-yard Kaaya completion to Rashawn Scott. ..... First Q: UM adds FG for 17-0 lead. Near-perfect quarter for The U. Three for three on scoring drives; three Nebraska punts. ... Told ya so! Said Brad Kaaya would have a huge day against Nebraska's lousy pass-D and already in the first quarter it's 14-0 on his 10-y TD pass to Chris Herndon and then his 11-y strike to Tyre Tyre Brady. ..... Original post: You know that Nebraska is 1-1 under a new coach, that Miami is 2-0 over little guys Bethune-Cookman and FAU, that neither team is ranked and that both programs are trying to recapture their old mojo and get back to who they 1aa1acanesnebwere. You also know none of that will seem to matter today when the ball kicks off at 3:30 in Miami Gardens. It will feel big. Special. It will be Nebraska's first trip here since the '95 Orange Bowl. It will be a rematch of a titan series that provided UM three of its five national championships and Nebraska one of its five. OK. That's enough with nostalgia, backstory and hype. On to this game! It's seen as a tossup, with Miami favored by three points based on the home field. But that's guesswork because this will be UM's first 2015 test against someone its own size, someone capable of beating the Canes. But will the Cornhuskers win? No. Nebraska has a porous secondary that has given up almost 700 yards passing (692) in its first two games. Brad Kaaya should have a huge day. Miami will show more on offense and defense than we have yet seen in what will be the coming-out party for the '15 Canes. Because of that, the pressure is all on UM, the home favorite. Of course that means the pressure is all on coach Al Golden, as usual. The legitimate rap on Golden is he hasn't won the biggest games in his four-plus seasons here -- that he lacks "signature win"-type victories. This would fit the category, silence the critics if even for a little while. Nebraska may be 1-1, but the stage is big. ABC is televising. The crowd could approach a sellout. Anticipation has been high. Bigger tests lay ahead, yes, but for UM and Golden, shouldn't the credit for winning today mirror what the damnation would be for losing? My pick: Hurricanes 34-23.

Other college Week 3 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all today unless noted):

No. 9 Florida State 14, Boston College 0: A rarity last night. Noles win with defense!

Maryland 35, South Florida 17: Flat roadie for now 1-2 Bulls.

Buffalo 33, FAU 15: Owls stay winless with very disappointing home result.

Furman 16, UCF 15: Stunning, embarrassing home loss has Knights 0-3.

FIU 39, North Carolina Central 14: Panthers now 2-1. QB Alex McGough? Not bad!

Florida 14, Kentucky 9: Florida won a 29th straight game over KY. Some doubted they would. Not me.

Poll result: Reaction mixed to Herald's new look: We invited you to weigh in on the Miami Herald's re-design that debuted this week, and it was 37.6 percent positive, 40.0% negative and 22.4% "still not sure."

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

September 14, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 31.0%; plus Radio Tuesday, Dolphins beat Redskins 17-10, Fins on Forbes $$ list, Dee Gordon honored, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), farewell Sunday notes column & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 on ESPN Radio. Good morning!

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Click on Random Evidence for the farewell edition of our Sunday notes column. See the bottom of this blogpost for an explainer. 2) Click on Howard's Night, Al's Burden for my column from Boca Raton on Friday's 44-20 Canes win. And see previous blogpost for first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM wins at FAU, CSM poll, Upset Bird Day in America, LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Marlins' Gordon honored, twice: Marlins 2B Dee Gordon received two nice award nominations today: For the Robert Clemente Award for sportsmanship, and for the MLBPA Marvin Miller Award. He's also still fighting (currently down seven points) for the NL batting title.

Dolphins mid-pack on franchise value list: Forbes' latest list has Dolphins as NFL's 16th-most valuable franchise at $1.85 billion. Click Money List for full rankings. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 31.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 17-10 Dolphins 1aa1adsmvictory at Washington. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Yearly DSM results:

2014: 2.7% (following 8-8 season)

2013: 4.2% (following 8-8 season)

2012: 29.8% (following 7-9 season)

2011: 34.9% (following 6-10 season)

2010: 3.8% (following 7-9 season)

2009: 31.2% (following 7-9 season)

2008: 96.9% (following 11-5 season/playoff loss)

G1: DOLPHINS 17, WASHINGTON 10 (Final): SEASON OF (FAIRLY) GREAT EXPECTATIONS BEGINS WITH ROAD WIN: Final: Miami christens its 50th season right with 17-10 win at Washington. Reminded me a little of UM beating FAU the other night. Shaky early, but the better team emerging. Dolphins offense wasn't great today and defense was less than perfect against the run. But! Two interceptions by Miami's defense and a huge 69-yard punt-return score by Jarvis Landry made the difference. ..... Fourth Q: Miami stops a Skins 4th-and-7 from MIA 20. Fins in charge. ... Huge! McCain INT at Fins 2 denies a Skins threat. ... MIA with its first lead at 17-10 on Landry's 69-yard TD return of a punt. Money! ... Dolphins tie it 10-10 on Franks' short FG, but you gotta go into end zone on 4th and goal! MIA squanders red-zone chance to take lead. ... Third Q: Scoreless third, but Fins on the move. ... Oy! LT Albert injured, but walks off field on own, a good sign. ... Ugh. Tanny stripped of ball and loses fumble on half's opening series. ..... Dolfans Halftime: Dolfans should feel lucky to only be down 10-7. No cause for panic, but Fins must shore up their run defense in second half. ..... Second Q: Finally! Life for Fins! MIA within 10-7 on Tanny's 3y TD toss to Matthews just before half. ... Tanny misses a wide-open Stills. Hasn't been as accurate yet today as in preseason. ... Dolphins down 10-0 as defense beat up for 17-yard drive. Reed 3y TD catch over a fallen Jones ends series. ... Miami wastes the Grimes INT, denied on 4th-and-1 from Skins 12. Ballsy call; gave up an near-certain tying FG. ... TE Sims out injured trying to catch an end-zone overthrow by Tannehill. ... Grimes interception! MIA at WAS 21. ..... First Q: Olivier Vernon ankle injury; iffy return. ... Fins offense on field for only 5 plays in first quarter. Ugh. ... MIA catches small break in final seconds when Skins go wide right on 46y FG try. ... Fins fail to convert a 3rd-and-1. Not the opening quarter of Dolfans' dreams. ... Miami down 3-0 early is no worry. But the early run-defense is. ..... Pregame: I love that Your Friend The Media is making such a deal of Jarvis Landry and LaMike James having a minor shove-exchange four days ago. Zero bearing on what happens today. ..... Original post: As the Dolphins launch their 50th franchise season we bring you true math, NFL style: One season of unusually high hopes + one a bad opponent = one opener Miami really needs to win. The air would seep 1aa1adolredout of Dolfans' optimism like it does footballs on the Patriots sideline, only moreso, if Miami somehow falls flat today in Landover, Md. I doubt that happens. I'm sold on these Dolphins as a playoff team. Ryan Tannehill's multi-weaponed offense should not have a problem motoring and flying all over the field today, and the Ndamukong Suh-infused 1aa1adolredqbsdefense should make it a daytime nightmare for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. (Tannehill and Cousins are pictured left). See it as a comfy win, maybe even a rout. This isn't Bethune-Cookman to the Hurricanes as season openers go, but if there were gimmies in the NFL, Washington would be close to one. Now let's quantify why winning one's season opener is so important. Quick history lesson: Super Bowl winners were 39-9-1 on opening day. Since the advent of the 16-game season in 1978, teams that started 1-0 made the playoffs 52.2 percent of the time, versus 23.9% for teams that began 0-1. Similar trends for Miami. Dolphins at 1-0 have made the playoffs 16 of 26 times (61.5%), versus 5 of 22 times (22.7%) at 0-1. That excludes one season-opening tie, in 1971. Join us back here during the game for a live running commentary.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open 50th season right at Washington: Miami’s season of unusually high hopes and uncommonly buoyant fan optimism opened Sunday with a 17-10 win over a Redskins team seen as not very good. We’ve seen the Dolphins live down to expectations a lot since their last playoff win in 2000. Now we see if they can live up to expectations for a change.

2. HURRICANES: UM surges late past FAU, awaits visit by Nebraska: Canes rallied from a second-half tie to win at FAU 44-20 in Howard Bowl II, leaving many fans displeased. Miami is 2-0, albeit vs. Bethune-Cookman and the Owls. UM's real season starts this coming Saturday at home vs. Nebraska. This is when Al Golden turns down the heat a little, or starts to feel it singe.

3. NFL: Win by Patriots (fittingly) opens King Sport's season: Patriots and Tom Brady won the last game in 2014 and the first in '15, with Deflategate talk book-ending both games but evidently not bothering either. Now we booked the first Sunday of the regular season -- a de facto national holiday in America. By the way, Roger Goodell came out of hiding in Chicago.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Opens ends without a Grand Slam by Serena: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer for men's title Sunday, but the women's side was the talk of the U.S. Open. Serena Williams fell short of sport's first calendar Grand Slam since 1988, but another great story took its place as little-known Italian Flavia Pennetta, 33, won the Open and then retired, redefining "going out on top."

5. MARLINS: Jose's back, but it isn't looking good for Giancarlo: Jose Fernandez won Saturday in his return and is now 16-0 in his career at Marlins Park. With this team though, the news is never all good. As Fish wrapped up homestand Sunday and now hit the road relegated to playing spoilers in a spoiled season, it's looking more and more like we won’t see Giancarlo Stanton again until Opening Day 2016.

6. HEAT: Riley really liking Heat roster as training camp nears: As Miami prepares to open its preseason training camp on Sept. 29, club prez Pat Riley said this week he thinks the Heat has "all the elements of a championship team." Hmm. That would be somewhat of a surprise to Las Vegas oddsmakers, who list Miami as the NBA’s ninth favorite at 40-1.

7. FIU: Hopes for second straight road upset wither in Indiana: After winning at Central Florida to open the season, FIU fell Saturday at Indiana 36-22. Glass half-full: Well, unbeaten for a week is better than not unbeaten for a week.

8. PANTHERS: NHL club to open training camp, exhibition play: Hockey's about back. The Panthers open training camp this Thursday and then play their first exhibition game next Sunday. This season, players swear, they'll make the playoffs. One of these years, by dumb luck, they may be right.

9. LEBRON JAMES: He's back in Miami. Temporarily: LeBron is Miami with several Cavaliers teammates this week for pre-training camp workouts. Heat fans aren’t sure whether to chase LeBron outta town with torches and pitchforks, or kidnap him and beg him to stay.

10. BOXING: Mayweather wins final (?) fight: Miamian Andre Berto lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Mayweather says it was his last fight. The national group, People Who Believe Him, meets tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth.

Missing the HB10 cut: Alex Rodriguez ties Hank Aaron with 15th 30-homer season. A-Rod’s steroids-free comeback year has been a marvel. The downside: Much tougher for me to make fun of him. ... R.I.P., Moses Malone. ... Speculation on the Marlins’ next manager heats up. The front-runner: Anybody but Dan Jennings. ... NBA will henceforth seed playoff teams by their records, not by division finish. The NFL would do that, too, but it makes too much sense. ... NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup begins next Sunday in Chicago, a nine-race tournament leading to the Nov. 22 championship race here. This is 14th year we’ve hosted the grand finale, and I still can’t believe they have it in Homestead. It’s like the NFL putting a Super Bowl in Fargo, North Dakota. ... Just read about something called a trumpetfish. My first reaction? Donald Trump bought a species and named it after himself. ... Reds had a Pete Rose Bobblehead Night on Saturday. The Rose figurine bobbles its head and then places 100 large in the fifth race.

FAREWELL, RANDOM EVIDENCE: Random Evidence, my long-running, fun-seeking Sunday notes column after which this blog was named, ends with today's column (link above). That's because the Herald prefers I instead write a general sports column on Sundays moving forward to coincide with a dramatic redesign that will debut with this Wednesday's newspaper. Part of the notes column still will run on Sundays in print: Our weekly Top 5 list. Many of the other notes I once saved for Sundays I'll now write throughout the week on Twitter or in this blog, so rest assured our followers @gregcote and our blog family won't miss a thing. My innate need to poke gentle fun at Jeffrey Loria and others will not be denied! Meanwhile we'll continue to have the Hot Button Top 10 every Sunday in the blog (sort of our Top 5 list on steroids), and Sunday's Hot List from the paper will become a blog feature starting next week. You got all that!?

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

August 12, 2015

Heat schedule out, all 82 games here; plus new 'Back In My Day' video, Mayweather vs. Rousey poll, Canes hoops, Drone Racing League, Tannehill on SI cover, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins manager search & more

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


1aa1abradyct1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12. Here's why people make fun of courtroom sketch artists. Pictured right is supposed to be Tom Brady in federal court today. 2) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your picks for 10 greatest Hurricanes, Hot Button Top 10, Weighing The Fish & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too. We have a new Periscope up from yesterday's radio show.

Honor for Canes men's basketball: In an indication of high expectation for UM's men's team, ESPN announced today Miami would host two of the network's "Big Monday" telecasts this season: Jan. 25 vs. Duke and Feb. 22 vs. Virginia, both at 7 p.m.on ESPN.

1aa1adroneDrone Racing League! A, because there aren't enough ridiculous sports and B, because Stephen Ross apparently has more money than he knows what to do with: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and his money are behind the new Drone Racing League. Yes I said Drone Racing League. Click here for the details. (Pictured, a young man racing his drone). A co-mingling of Ross' two sporting passions seems inevitable, so watch for it: Dolphin play-calls getting from sideline to huddle via drone. I apologize if I'm droning on. OY!

1aa1aheatHEAT SCHEDULE OUT, INCLUDES CHRISTMAS GAME HERE: Heat released its 2015-16 regular season NBA schedule today, and it opens Oct . 28 at home vs. Charlotte. Other highlights include a Christmas Day home game vs. New Orleans, and visits by LeBron James and Cleveland on Dec. 5 and Mar. 19. Here is the entire schedule:

DATE DAY OPPONENT TIME TV

OCTOBER

28 Wed. CHARLOTTE 7:30 PM SUN

30 Fri. @ Cleveland 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

NOVEMBER

1 Sun. HOUSTON 6:00 PM SUN

3 Tues. ATLANTA 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

5 Thurs. @ Minnesota 8:00 PM SUN

6 Fri. @ Indiana 8:00 PM SUN/ESPN

8 Sun. TORONTO 6:00 PM SUN

10 Tues. L.A. LAKERS 7:30 PM SUN

12 Thurs. UTAH 7:30 PM SUN

17 Tues. MINNESOTA 7:30 PM SUN

19 Thurs. SACRAMENTO 7:30 PM SUN

21 Sat. PHILADELPHIA 7:30 PM SUN

23 Mon. NEW YORK 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

25 Wed. @ Detroit 7:30 PM SUN

27 Fri. @ New York 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

30 Mon. BOSTON 7:30 PM SUN

DECEMBER

3 Thurs. OKLAHOMA CITY 7:00 PM TNT

5 Sat. CLEVELAND 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

7 Mon. WASHINGTON 7:30 PM SUN

9 Wed. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM SUN

11 Fri. @ Indiana 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

13 Sun. MEMPHIS 6:00 PM SUN

14 Mon. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM SUN

16 Wed. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM SUN

18 Fri. TORONTO 7:30 PM SUN

20 Sun. PORTLAND 1:00 PM SUN

22 Tues. DETROIT 7:30 PM SUN

25 Fri. NEW ORLEANS 12:00 PM SUN/ESPN

26 Sat. @ Orlando 7:00 PM SUN

28 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM SUN

29 Tues. @ Memphis 8:00 PM SUN

JANUARY

1 Fri. DALLAS 7:30 PM SUN

3 Sun. @ Washington 6:00 PM SUN

4 Mon. INDIANA 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

6 Wed. NEW YORK 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

8 Fri. @ Phoenix 9:30 PM SUN

9 Sat. @ Utah 9:00 PM SUN

11 Mon. @ Golden State 10:30 PM SUN

13 Wed. @ L.A. Clippers 10:30 PM SUN/ESPN

15 Fri. @ Denver 9:00 PM SUN

17 Sun. @ Oklahoma City 7:00 PM SUN

19 Tues. MILWAUKEE 7:30 PM SUN

20 Wed. @ Washington 7:00 PM SUN

22 Fri. @ Toronto 8:00 PM SUN/ESPN

25 Mon. @ Chicago 8:00 PM SUN

26 Tues. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM SUN

29 Fri. @ Milwaukee 8:30 PM SUN

31 Sun. ATLANTA 6:00 PM SUN

FEBRUARY

2 Tues. @ Houston 8:00 PM SUN/NBA TV

3 Wed. @ Dallas 8:30 PM SUN

5 Fri. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM SUN

7 Sun. L.A. CLIPPERS 2:00 PM ABC

9 Tues. SAN ANTONIO 7:30 PM SUN

19 Fri. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM SUN

20 Sat. WASHINGTON 7:30 PM SUN

22 Mon. INDIANA 7:30 PM SUN

24 Wed. GOLDEN STATE 7:30 PM SUN

27 Sat. @ Boston 3:00 PM SUN

28 Sun. @ New York 7:30 PM SUN

MARCH

1 Tues. CHICAGO 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

3 Thurs. PHOENIX 7:30 PM SUN

4 Fri. @ Philadelphia 7:00 PM SUN

6 Sun. PHILADELPHIA 6:00 PM SUN

9 Wed. @ Milwaukee 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

11 Fri. @ Chicago 8:00 PM SUN/NBA TV

12 Sat. @ Toronto 7:00 PM SUN

14 Mon DENVER 7:30 PM SUN

17 Thurs. CHARLOTTE 7:30 PM SUN

19 Sat. CLEVELAND 7:30 PM SUN

22 Tues. @ New Orleans 8:00 PM SUN

23 Wed. @ San Antonio 8:30 PM SUN

25 Fri. ORLANDO 7:30 PM SUN

28 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM SUN

30 Wed. @ L.A. Lakers 10:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

APRIL

1 Fri. @ Sacramento 10:00 PM SUN

2 Sat @ Portland 10:00 PM SUN

5 Tues. DETROIT 7:30 PM SUN

7 Thurs. CHICAGO 8:00 PM TNT

8 Fri. @ Orlando 7:00 PM SUN

10 Sun. ORLANDO 6:00 PM SUN

12 Tues. @ Detroit 7:30 PM SUN

13 Wed. @ Boston 8:00 PM SUN

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. VS. RONDA ROUSEY, NO HOLDS BARRED. HEY, IT'S FUN TO DREAM: I doubt we'll ever see this fight. I'd bet big on that. Yes, the boxing champion vs. the UFC champion would be a 1aa1afighthuge draw. And, yes, it could work weight-wise if Mayweather (151) dropped and Rousey (135) added. But too many male athletes including Mayweather himself have made too many ugly headlines for domestic violence to imagine that the possibility of a man pummeling a woman in a ring (or octagon) would ever be sanctioned for sport. Rousey keeps keeping the topic alive, though. Just Monday night, in an ask-me-anything chat on Reddit, Rousey was asked if she would beat Mayweather in a no-holds-barred, mixed martial arts-style bout, and she said: "Floyd is one of the best boxers of all time. He would definitely beat me in a boxing match. I unfortunately don't get into 'matches.' I fight for a living. In a no-rules fight, I believe I can beat anyone on this planet. Boxing is a sweet science with strict rules that I respect. But you said rule-less fight, and that's my honest answer." Is she right? Could she beat anyone no-holds-barred even including Mayweather? She is 10 years younger; I'd give her a real chance. What do you think? Remember, this is not asking who you'd want to win, but who you honestly think would win. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': Many know that my Tuesday appearances with the Dan LeBatard Show on radio/TV include a "Back In My Day" segment that has grown quite popular with listeners and viewers. They're on Fusion TV's YouTube channel now, and here is the latest one, from yesterday:

 

WHERE DOLPHINS FALL IN 2015 FANTASY DRAFTING: If you're like Greg's Lobos you are preparing for your fantasy draft. And you may be wondering 1aa1almiller 1aa1asitannhow Dolphins players will be slotted. A good indication comes this week in ESPN.com's annual fantasy draft, based on a 12-team standard league and 16-round draft. Dolphins taken, in order, with round and overall selection: RB Lamar Miller, pictured (3rd round-30th overall); WR Jarvis Landry (7-75th); WR DeVante Parker (7-84th); QB Ryan Tannehill (10-113th); TE Jordan Cameron (10-117th); WR Kenny Stills (12-139th); RB Jay Ajayi (13-154th); Dolphins defense/special teams (15-171st); and PK Caleb Sturgis (16-192nd). Tannehill is pictured (left) on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2016 fantasy issue.

NFL MVP odds: Newly out via Bovada, it's Packer Aaron Rodgers the favorite out the gate at 5-1, followed by Colt Andrew Luck at 7-1. Only others under 20-1 are Viking Adrian Peterson and Texan J.J. Watt both 12-1, and Bronco Peyton Manning at 16-1. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 40-1, tied for 20th.

My Uber driver is a Dolphin: Dolphins defensive tackle A.J. Francis earned extra money as an Uber driver during the recent offseason. No, seriously. Not everybody makes Ndamukong Suh money. Click here for a feature video as ESPN.com's James Walker goes along for the ride. Not sure how much extra money A.J. made. I only hope he gets as much attention for football as he got doing this.xx

JUMP-STARTING MARLINS' MANAGER SEARCH: Worst record in MLB hosts worst record in AL in a two-game 1aa1afish4series ending today at Marlins Park, after Fish won 5-4 in 10 last night. So it's Stinkin' Fish vs. Bostgon Red Sux. Sorry. Truth hurts. I suggest in my latest column that the Marlins' managerial search should be on now, not wait until after the season. If their guy is out there and available -- and many are, including Bud Black and Ron Gardenhire -- why not make the move soon and give the new guy a chunk of this season to learn his team? An experienced manager with a track record is a must after the failed experiment that is Dan Jennings. This season has turned hopeless. Everything now should be about 2016. Click on Look Ahead to read the column in full. Meantime, fans last night received the poster pictured of the Marlins' "Franchise Four," part of an MLB promotion in which fans selected each team's Mount Rushmore. The Fish are Jeff Conine, Gary Sheffield, Mike Lowell and Giancarlo Stanton.

1aa1agoodyGOODBYE, GOODY: Joe Goodman, a Herald sportswriter since 2005 and most recently our main Heat beat guy, is leaving us to write for AL.com in his homestate Alabama. His hunger for college football will be well sated; his love of soccer, not so much. Joe's talented and we wish him well. He and I shared some good times on the road, including a memorable drinking night at New York's wonderful little Tribeca bar, Ward III. Joe and I are pictured at right doing a Heat postgame video. He's the one who's young, handsome and well-dressed.

THE LIST: MNF LONGEVITY: Broadcasters who have had the most tenure in the Monday Night Football booth (on ABC in 1970-05, on ESPN 2006-current):

Broadcaster        Years     Duration

Frank Gifford       27        1971-97

Al Michaels          20        1986-05

Howard Cosell     14        1970-83

Don Meredith       12        1970-73, '77-84

Dan Dierdorf        12        1987-98

Mike Tirico          10        2006-current

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...