November 03, 2016

Cubs win World Series! My new column, plus historical perspective on the unusual delight of sports' best championship night; also, NFL TV rating woes, D.Wade beats LeBron on World Series bet, your Dolphins/London verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3. I'm up in Friday Page World Headquarters begging this week's NFL Week 9 picks. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Falcons-Buccaneers game. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins give another home game to London with poll, Andre Johnson and Canton, SOPY rankings, The List (Cubs' challenge) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

World Series, NFL, Jose Fernandez, Heat, Dolphins: Our most recent columns: Click on There's Hope For Us All (on Cubs' World Series win) and on A Needed Slap In Face (on NFL's declining TV ratings) for our two newest columns. Also: Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did. The Whiteside Project. What Took You So Long? (on Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot. And The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi).

Game7sHISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE UNUSUAL DELIGHT OF A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 7: On sports' grand scale of so-common to way-rare, what we got last night -- a Game 7, winner-take-all for the season's championship -- was closer to rare. And one could argue that this Game 7, Cubs at Indians, was the greatest ever, considering no previous G7s in
Chicleany sport have seen anything close to one team with a 108-year championship drought and the other's at 68 years. Somebody's long suffering was going to end last night, the agony over one city's loss offset by the sheer exhale of joy in the other. I was rooting for the Cubbies to win for the first time since 1908, but imagined I'd also have felt goosebumps watching Indians fans celebrate their first World Series crown since '48. The Cubs won, of course, 8-7 in 10 innings. But for fans of neither team, it was a no-lose night. A win for baseball. A brief synopsis of the rare joy of Game 7s in the three major sports that have them:

MLB: Game 7 overall incidence: 38.3% -- Last night's was the 36th Game 7 in the 94 series since baseball began a continuous best-of-7 World Series format in 1922. The previous was in 2014 (Giants over Royals). But the incidence has declined in the modern era. Since 1990 it has been 29.4%, with last night's only the fifth Game 7 in 17 seasons.

NBA: Game 7 overall incidence: 27.1% -- Basketball has had 19 NBA Finals Game 7s in 70 years since the continuous best-of-7 format began in 1947. The most recent one was last season in 2016 (Cavaliers over Warriors). The incidence since 2000 has dropped slightly to 23.5%, four Game 7s in 17 years.

NHL: Game 7 overall incidence: 20.8% -- Hockey has had 16 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7s in 77 seasons since the best-of-7 format continuously began in 1939. The most recent one was 2011 (Bruins over Canucks). The incidence since 2000 has risen to 37.5%, with six Game 7s in 16 seasons.

Combined: Game 7 overall incidence: 29.5% -- Cubs-Indians tonight will be the 71st combined championship Game 7 in 241 seasons for the three sports. The incidence has held steady since 2000, at 30.0%, with 15 combined Game 7s in 50 seasons. So figure slightly less than one every three years on average but none, ever, quite like Cubs-Indians, with those fans' combined 176-year title drought.

South Florida's two championship Game 7s -- Florida Marlins defeat Cleveland Indians 3-2 in 11 innings, October 26, 1997, at Pro Player Stadium. Miami Heat defeat San Antonio Spurs 95-88, June 20, 2013, AmericanAirlines Arena.

D.WADE AND LEBRON'S WORLD SERIES BET: This is a good one. Can you picture Dwyane Wade in a full Cleveland Indians uniform prior to a Bulls game in Chicago? You don't have to. Instead, imagine LeBron James in a full Chicago Cubs uniform before a Cavaliers game in Cleveland. That's what you'll see. That was their bet, determined by last night's World Series Game 7 result. "I want to win," said Wade, smiling. Done.

Poll result: You hate Dolphins giving up home games to London: We asked what you think of the Dolphins in 2017 playing a "home" game in London for second time in three years, and it was a landslide 82.3 percent against it. Only 15.9% were OK with it, and the other 1.8% were undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 18, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 67.4%; plus Fins stun Steelers 30-15. Why? 6 things that went really right for Miami today; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 17. The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes host North Carolina with CSM poll, state Collball Week 7 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

CSM results: Results are in on the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll; see them in the blogpost immediately below this one.

Latest NFL predictions: Click on Week 6 Gems for all of Sunday's (and tonight's) NFL picks. And click As Tannehill Fights For His Future for our new NFL notes column leading with some of Miami's possible options should they move past Ryan Tannehill after this season.

Our postgame thoughts: 6 things that went really right for Dolphins Sunday: See our live in-game blog including postgame analysis of yesterday's huge Dolphins win right below latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: 67.4%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 67.4 percent overall approval rating -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-15 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers Dsmputting Miami's season record at 2-4. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

Next poll: Oct. 23 (following game vs. Buffalo)

PitmiaG6: DOLPHINS 30, PITTSBURGH 15: AJAYI CAREER DAY SPARKS STUNNING UPSET!: Postgame thoughts: How did the underdog Dolphins improve to 21-4 by stunning Pittsburgh 30-15 today? Let us count the ways... 1) Ryan Tannehill was really good. Accurate. Played clean. Took no sacks. This was the Tannehill you want to keep. 2) The offensive line was terrific. Great in pass protection, even better in aggressively run blocking. The unit's best performance of season by far as starting five finally played together. 3) Jay Ajayi had a career game, with 204 yards rushing -- third most in franchise history -- and two TDs. Man, did he run hard! 4) The pass defense gave Ben Roethlisberger problems all day long. 5) Byron Maxwell defended Antontio Brown very well, really rose up with a big game. 6) Time of possession domination by Miami was 36 1/2 minutes to 23 1/2. I'd go on, but that about covers it. Today we saw how good Miami can be. A nourishing day by a team -- and a fandom -- in desperate need ..... 4Q: Ajayi 62-yard scoring run seals it at 30-15. Stunner. ... Landry recovers onside kick! ... Steelers within 23-15 with 1:02 to play on a Big Ben scoring throw. Onside kick presumably coming ... Man, Miami gonna win this damned game. Who ARE these people in the Dolphins uniforms today!? ... Franks wide left on 50-yard FG try so still a two-possession lead for Miami ..... 3Q: Ajayti 1-yard TD plunge puts MIA up 23-8 ... Abdul-Quddus intercepts Big Ben ..... Halftime thoughts: Tannehill had 96.9 rating in first half and outplayed Roethlisberger. Defense has shown fire. Where has this team been? Where has this effort been? But can they close? Can they finish the upset with a big second half? We'll see ..... 2Q: Fins up 16-8 on Williams 1-yard run set up by Tannehill's 39-yard strike to Landry inside PIT 5. ... MIA settles\ again for short FG (23) after Sims drops TD pass after earlier scoring pass was negated by illegal formation. That's what losing teams do. A 53-yard catch by MarQueis Gray, his first of season, is wasted ..... 1Q: Wake make it two Fins sacks of Big Ben already ..... Heyward-Bey burns Dolphins D for 60-yard end-around TD through shoddy tackling. Then it's 8-3 as PIT converts 2-point conversion pass to Bell ... Fins fail on surprise onside kick but play is whistled off; break for Miami ... MIA settles for a 30-yard FG on impressive opening drive ... Fins showing spark and fight today. None evident a week ago ... Always a ton of Steelers fans in Miami, today no exception ... How we feeling, Dolfans? ..... Original post: The NFL is an anything-goes, nothing-off-the-table league, as you know. Which is Miami's great hope today starting at 1. Last week the Dolphins took a public home crap vs. the lowly Tennessee Titans. But this is the NFL. Would it surprise anybody if these same Dolphins rose up big and played well vs. mighty Pittsburgh? OK maybe surprise, yes. But shock, no. Having said that, the odds of a rout by the Steelers are greater than the odds of an upset. Points to Adam Gase for not mincing words or trying to put a cherry on a pile of [bleep]. "We’re inept right now," the coach described his Dolphins this week. Inept. "Having or showing no skill; clumsy." Yep, can’t argue that! Miami is doing very little well right now at 1-4 other than punting, and something close to panic was evident this week as the team fired three offensive linemen on a single day. Oppositely, the 4-1 Pittsburgh Steelers come in on a big roll for their first visit in six years, with a fairly awesome offense fronted by Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Fins’ defense couldn’t slow the tepid Titans and now they’re supposed to stop this!? Miami’s secondary literally has nobody capable of covering Brown, and Bell could toll for 150-plus against what statistically is now the NFL’s worst run defense. Gloomy enough forecast for ya? But, again, even having said all that, I still give Dolphins a small shot at an upset in the Pouncey Bowl (Mike vs. Maurkice), and certainly a chance to be competitive. Didn’t embattled Ryan Tannehill, now a boo-magnet, toss three TDs and beat Pitt in his only meeting in 2013? (He did). Desperation can do strange things. So can the fear of embarrassment. So can pride. Let’s see if Miami has any. My pick: Pittsburgh, 30-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCTOBER 16): 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. DOLPHINS: Fins dominate, stun Steelers: Miami was 1-4 and trying to save a sinking season on Sunday and asking the same defense that couldn't stop the tepid Tennessee Titans last week to now stop Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell? Well, 30-15, Dolphins. Who in hell has this Miami team, or this league, figured out.

2. HURRICANES: Huge loss North Carolina makes this night imperative: FSU Week had the Game of the Year cred, but Miami was in position to overcome that 1-point loss vs. North Carolina Saturday and now at Va-Tech Thursday night. The 20-13 loss to the Tar Heels makes this week all but must-win in terms of any hopes to still reach the ACC Championship Game.

3. PANTHERS: Cats open season of high hopes at 2-0: On a Thursday Opening Night when the Panthers honored the late Marlins star Jose Fernandez by all wearing No. 16 in pregame warmups, the game winning goal came from the Cats' own No. 16, Aleksander Barkov. Sweet 16, indeed.

4. BASEBALL: Who isn' rooting for a Cubs-Indians World Series?: Cubs last won a World Series in 1908 and Indians in 1948 as league championship series are now underway. Message from America to Dodgers and Blue Jays: Don't even think about it!

5. HEAT: Countdown 9 days 'til ... who the hell knows!?: Only three more preseason games remain until the post-Wade, post-Bosh, new-era Heat open the NBA regular season Oct. 26 in Orlando. It's the great unknown. If only "great" also described the team's outlook.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Saturday threatens top-of-polls shakeup: No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Ohio State both faced challenging road games vs. top-10 opponents Saturday, but both prevailed. Think either would lose? Yeah, me neither.

7. AUSTON MATTHEWS: Teen sets NHL rookie mark in debut: Toronto's top draft pick Matthews, who just turned 19, became first player in history to score four goals in his NHL debut. Even better, he was born in Scottsdale, Ariz. Take that, Canada and Eastern Europe.

8. NASCAR: As Homestead waits, cut to eight finalists nears: Only one more race left until NASCAR cuts to eight finalists who'll run for season crown in Homestead. The problem is, they'll be joined by dozens of non-contenders whose only job is to wreck a finalist's chances.

9. TIGER WOODS: Eldrick delays long-awaited comeback yet again: Tiger Woods, trying to exhume resume his career after myriad back issues, said he'd play this past week, then said he wouldn't, and now says he'll play in December, maybe. Keep us posted, big guy! 

10. WNBA: Finals Game 5 is Thursday: Somebody will win the WNBA championship Thursday night. When I find out who's playing, I'll let you know.

Missing the HB10 cut: "And how was your week?," said Donald Trump ..... Colin Kaepernick takes over as 49ers starting QB today. Let's see if he can stand in the pocket as well as he can sit during the anthem ..... Dwyane Wade has denied reports that LeBron James tried to talk him and Chris Bosh into joining the Cavaliers in the summer of 2010, when they formed the Big 3 in Miami. Which invites the question, "Why in hell are we still talking about this!?" ..... Steelers' Antonio Brown today is wearing special cleats in honor of fallen Miami stars Jose Fernandez and Kimbo Slice. One lesson reason to boo him, Dolfans. Two, actually ..... Mets prospect Tim Tebow began his Arizona Fall League stint 0-for-9. Time for prayers? ..... Hurricanes baseball has begun fall practice. Updates as warranted.

Select recent columns of ours, ICYMI or wanted another look: Swagger On Skates (previewing Florida Panthers' season of high hopes) / Because He's Tiger Woods / Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance / Close to Back, But Not Back (from last Saturday's Canes loss / With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose / Time is Right For Bosh to Retire / Demanding Racial Justice / Tebow's Dream / The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 14, 2016

Opening Night!: Bar set high as Panthers open 23rd season with win; plus judging Ryan Tannehill. A referendum on Dolphins quarterback. Poll. Last chance to vote!; also, latest SOPY standings & more

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

Trump1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14. So pleased for Bob Dylan, a music and cultural hero, to hear he won a Nobel prize for literature! 2) Holed up today at Friday Page World Headquarters figuring out this week's NFL predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Chargers-Broncos game (Upset!) 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose to Titans with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Fins ground-game woes (List) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Why we keep waiting for Tiger: Tiger Woods' comeback is delayed. Again. But we keep waiting. We keep caring. Why? Click on Because He's Tiger Woods to read my column.

OPENING NIGHT! PANTHERS LAUNCH SEASON OF LARGE HOPES WITH WIN: Panthers beat New Jersey devils 2-1 in OT on Opening Night Thursday on goal by Aleksander Barkov, the Cats' No. 16 -- after the team had honored the late Marlins' No. 16, Jose Fernandez, in a pregame ceremony. Click on Now the Winning Big Must Follow for my column from the arena ..... Original post: Click Swagger On Skates for my full column previewing this Panthers season of high expectations as the Cats host New Jersey tonight in Sunrise to begin their 23rd NHL year. The Cats come in with swagger, with cockiness. It is strange, coming from a franchise always cast as the underdog climbing uphill. PanthersStrange, from a club that has made the NHL playoffs but five times and not won a single postseason series since reaching the Stanley Cup Finals — Cinderella on skates — in 1996. It is jarring. It is audacious. It is something else, too. Refreshing. Wonderful. And perfectly timed. All of our other major pro sports teams are down. The Dolphins seem to be as depressingly bad as ever. The Marlins have been decimated by tragedy. The Heat are trying to reboot after the once- Openingnightunfathomable departure of Dwyane Wade. To the rescue come the Cats! The only one of our four major pro teams yet to throw a championship parade is now without question the closest of them all to doing that. "Underdogs no more," as president of hockey operations Dale Tallon told us Wednesday. Remember how Miami Hurricanes football players at the program's height of power in the 1980s buffed braggadocio to an art form? And how LeBron James upon arriving in 2010 talked dynasty for the Big 3-era Heat ("Not three, not four...") by counting championships? We're not elevating these Panthers to that standard of epic boastfulness, but, clearly, this is a team that thinks it can win the Stanley Cup and isn't shy to say it. This is a team publicly challenging itself to do it. "Everybody knows we're a good team now," says coach Gerard Gallant. "We're not going to sneak up on anybody." Two costly injuries during the preseason have stunned the team. Center Nick Bjugstad broke a hand and will be out four to six weeks. Far worse, forward Jonathan Huberdeau suffered a severe ankle injury that will sideline him about four months — at least two-thirds of the season. But Tallon is convinced that improved depth will allow the Cats to absorb those blows. No fissures in confidence are evident. Last season the Panthers set franchise records for most victories (47) and standings points (103), and, "This year we have a lot higher expectations for ourselves," said goaltender Roberto Luongo. This could be the best team the franchise has ever put on ice. Players expect that. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad was told the Panthers are being rated a top-10 team and among Eastern Conference powers in media polls, and said, "As players on this team, our expectations exceed those times 10." Now, beginning tonight, all that's left is the living up.

TannehillJUDGING ON RYAN TANNEHILL, NOT QUITE 4 1/2 SEASONS IN: Have opinions on the Dolphins quarterback hardened, or are they still evolving? Do we see a fully formed player, or one still improving? Bottom line, do Dolfans believe in Tannehill and have his back, or not? He was booed during Sunday's loss, and heard a "We want Moore!" chant for backup Matt Moore. The booing was more scattered than sustained. The chant quickly petered out. But they happened. Frustration is growing, and it has targeted Tannehill partly because the starting QB always is an easy target, and partly because he has invited some of the dissatisfaction with his play. Coach Adam Gase made it clear there is no QB controversy -- that Tannehill is his guy the rest of this season, at least. I address the issue in my column off Sunday's home loss to Tennessee; to read, click on Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance. We've had several judging-Tannehill blog polls over the years, but another is justified. There remains debate. He continues to be polariziing. Four-plus seasons in, there still is no consensus on whether he is Miami's long-term solution or not. So I ask it again. Take a dip in our poll. Vote, and check back often to monitor evolving results:

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': MIAMI REPRESENTS WITH FLOWERS BLOOMING, COOK ON HIGH: Miami is all over the leaderboard in the fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings -- SopyState Offensive Player of the Year. Hurricanes Brad Kaaya and Mark Walton rank No. 6 and 7 this week, and FIU Panthers check in fourth and eighth. But local guys also top the chart. Top-ranked South Florida QB Quinton Flowers is from Miami Jackson High and second place Dalvin Cook, the Florida State RB, is from Miami Central. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week (or a hurricane-related postponement!) take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. UM, Florida and UCF have played one fewer game than the other four. 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. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 7, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 6:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk6        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                258        1,246.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          215        1,178

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 150        994.5

4      5      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         161        709

5      4      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       96          699.5

6     7       Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       105        607.5

7      6      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      81          602 

8      9      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      131.5     595

9      8      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    118        585

10   10      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                   119        573

Bubble: Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb, 546. Other team leaders: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 433; and Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 351. Week 6 best: Flowers, 258. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

Select recent columns of ours, ICYMI or wanted another look: Because He's Tiger Woods / Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance (off Sunday loss to Titans) / Close to Back, But Not Back (from Saturday's Canes loss to FSU) / King Sport First Quarter Awards / With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose / Time is Right For Bosh to Retire / Demanding Racial Justice / Tebow's Dream / The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 27, 2016

STILL IN SHOCK: MIAMI REELS OVER JOSE FERNANDEZ TRAGEDY. MY COLUMN; plus Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 9.9%; also, Fins escape vs. Browns in OT, Riley on Bosh, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26. UM Sports Hall of Fame announces nine-person 2017 induction class, notably includuing football's James Jackson and Jeremy Shockey, baseball's Ryan Braun and women's basketball coach Katie Meier. Congrats to all. 2) Pat Riley told reporters this morning that Chris Bosh's Heat career "is probably over." No shock. But when the godfather says it, you listen. 3) Golf legend Arnold Palmer has died at 87. R.I.P., Arnie. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Examining Hurricanes' brutal October, state Collball Week 4, Bosh and Wade poll verdicts & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (our latest, and I guess the headline says it all). Week 3 Gems (our latest NFL picks). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it).

FIU fires Ron Turner: Lost in the shock and mourning over Jose Fernandez, FIU fired football coach Ron Turner on Sunday. No shock. He was 0-4 this season and 10-30 overall. Cannot argue the decision. Good guy, though. Click She Never Quit for my recent column on Turner and the woman who inspires him.

JoseripTRAGEDY: MIAMI AWAKENS TO THE JARRING REALITY: THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE JOSE FERNANDEZ: Unimaginable tragedy shakes the Miami Marlins and South Florida with the terrible news that Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, 24, was killed in an overnight boating accident early Sunday morning off Government Cut in Miami, along with two friends who also died. The 9-1-1 call reportedly was received about 3 a.m. A tragedy beyond words. Yesterday's scheduled home game vs. the Atlanta Braves was understandably canceled in the wake of the horrible news; the Marlins will be back in action, with heavy hearts, tonight here vs. the Mets. Click on What Jose Meant Lives On for my column, online and in Monday's print editions. R.I.P., Jose.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 9.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 9.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-24 overtime victory vs. the Cleveland Browns putting Miami's season record at 1-2. It is a rare instance of an approval rating declining after a win. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

Next Poll: Sept. 29 (following game at Cincinnati)

G3: DOLPHINS 30, CLEVELAND 24 (OT): LUCKY, BUT MIAMI WINS HOME OPENER: Postgame thoughts: The Dolphins did the bare minimum Sunday. They won, at home, over a bad Browns team down to its third-string QB. That it required overtime is a semi-embarrassment. So is the fact Cleveland was down to its third-string QB. Ryan Tannehill pretty solid at 25-for-39 for 319 yards and three TDs, bu also had two picks and the lost fumble that nearly cost Miami the game. All in all an escape more than a resounding win. Let's see in four short days what the Dolphins are made of at Cincinnati. Today didn't prove much or show much. Show us Thursday night, Dolphins. ..... Original post: Well, the Cleveland Browns are down to their third-string quarterback and so bad in Clemiageneral that even a winless Miami is a near double-digit favorite. Shouldn't the Browns have been relegated to the Canadian league by now? This also happens surprisingly to be the only NFL Week 3 matchup between 0-2 teams. The difference is, one of them is credibly competitive -- Miami on the heels respectable performances at league powers Seattle and New England. The other is incredibly incompetent. Cleveland has lost 10 of its past 11 road games and is now piloted by rookie Cody Kessler – the Browns' fifth different starting QB in the past five games dating to last season. The Earthtones may be the NFL's most dysfunctional franchises. Having said all of that, Miami has not proven itself good enough to take any opponent lightly, even this one. “Dolfans” and “overconfident” are not words that go together. Jay Ajayi (in for injured Arian Foster) tends to cough up the football and Brownies have a pair of very productive cornerbacks in Joe Haden and Tramon Williams, so Fins must take care that Miami turnovers don't keep the Brownies in this game. Almost forgot: Welcome home, Duke Johnson! This is the Dolphins home opener for the newly refurbished and renamed stadium. The opponent will help Miami christen it right. My pick: Dolphins, 27-10

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 25): 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: 

1. MARLINS: Tragedy strikes as Jose Fernandez killed in boasting accident: Marlins fans and South Florida in general awoke Sunday to the horrible news that ace pitcher Jose Fernandez had been killed in an overnight boating accident. There are no words. R.I.P.

Hotbutton2. DOLPHINS: Miami lucky to beat sad Browns in home opener: After losses to two of NFL's top teams, and before traveling to playoff-quality Cincinnati for a Thursday nighter, Miami caught what should have been a break vs. woeful Cleveland Browns in Sunday's home opener, but needed luck and overtime to escape, 30-24.

3. HEAT: Bosh comeback derailed again as Heat near training camp: Further complications related to clotting have derailed Chris Bosh's latest comeback attempt as Heat prepare to open five-day training camp Tuesday in Nassau. And so the outlook dims for both team and player.

4. PANTHERS: Big-dreaming Cats prepare for NHL preseason: With visions of Lord Stanley's Cup, Florida hosts Nashville Tuesday in first of six preseason games. Cats have never begun a season with higher expectations. Can a franchise usually cast as underdogs live up?

5. HURRICANES: Idle Canes brace for a tough, telling October: No. 15 Miami, off this week after a resounding win at Appalachian State, braces for five-game October test featuring in ACC -- including Florida State here Oct. 8 -- then a trip to Notre Dame. September hinted how good UM is. October will tell.

6. VIN SCULLY: Dodgers honor retiring legendary broadcaster: Los Angeles Dodgers honored broadcaster Vin Scully in an hour-long pregame ceremony celebrating his 67 seasons at the mic. Not even Scully, 88, is old enough to remember the Cubs' last World Series win. 

7. PHILANTHROPY: UM receives largest donation ever toward indoor facility: University of Miami announced the largest athletics-related donation in its history, a $14 million gift toward what will be the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility. That's trumps my $25 donation toward the Greg Cote Parking Space.

8. GATORS: UF blows lead, falls to Vols: You lead 21-0 and lose 38-28. Ouch. Gators tails low. 

9. HOCKEY: U.S. bombs in World Cup: Team USA fell to 0-2 and failed to advance in the World Cup of Hockey, a disappointment and embarrassment.

10. NASCAR: Chase field at 16, soon 12: Sunday and next week will pare the 16 finalists to 12 drivers. The season finale at Homestead is getting close.

Missing the HB10 cut: Kevin Garnett announced his retirement, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago. Garnett's prime retired in 2007 ... UEFA Champions League is back on starting Tuesday. What the World Cup is for national teams, this is for club teams.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 20, 2016

He's King James again! LeBron, Cavs win NBA title: Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring NBA Game 7, Ichiro, U.S. vs.Messi, UM stumble, golf, O.J., Fins, Strikers; plus your verdict on LeBron rooting interest & more

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

Fatherday1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 20. Hope it was a Happy Father's Day to all of my fellow padres and papis! I'm blessed that my wife gave us two wonderful boys who are now terrific young men. Also thinking of my own Dad, who is dearly remembered and loved. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): I root for LeBron in Game 7 with poll, Canes baseball debuts in Omaha, U.S. soccer braces for Messi, Florida teams on Twitter, R.I.P. Prince Be your Home Run Derby verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat. 

Six-pack: Selected recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Rooting For LeBron to Make History, the latest, on our treasonous hopes for Sunday's Game 7. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Marlins' Ichiro's hits milestone. The Weight of Tradition, off Canes' Omaha-clinching baseball win. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Ali set template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: LeBron, Cavs make history in Game 7 triumph: Cleveland became the first team ever to be champions after trailing 3-1 in an NBA Finals as they won 93-89 at Golden State Sunday night, denying a Warriors team seeking to cap its record-setting regular season with a second straight title. LeBron James, who thoroughly outplayed Stephen Curry, was named Finals MVP. No matter the result, basketball fans were getting a Game 7 for the ages and, as it turned out, an historic finish. (Click on Rooting For LeBron to Make History, for my latest column, distinctly a minority opinion in Miami).
 
2. MARLINS: Fish on playoff pace, Ichiro surpasses Rose in hits, sort of: Fish have won five of past six and surged into playoff pace while Ichiro is within 20 hits of 3,000 in MLB entering Monday play with Miami in midst of 10-game homestand that will include four-game visit by mighty Cubs. Ichiro last week surpassed Pete Rose's career total if you include his Japan hits, which nobody does. Especially grumpy Pete.
 
3. SOCCER: U.S. reaches semifinals in Copa America: While Euro '16 moves to its knockout stage in France, Copa America Centenario being played in the U.S. is down to its semifinals. The host Americans made it and face a Tuesday semifinal vs. Argentina after La Albiceleste won Saturday night as expected. That will mean a suspensions-depleted U.S. team will have to defend Argentina's brilliant goal machine Lionel Messi. Oy! 
 
4. HURRICANES: UM faces early must-win in College World Series: Coach Jim Morris' Canes are already feeling their backs to a wall after losing 5-1 to Arizona Saturday night in their opener of the double-elimination College World Series. Miami plays UC-Santa Barbara Monday afternoon in a fight for survival. Only the top-ranked Florida Gators arrived in Omaha with better odds to win the title than UM's 5-1.
 
5. GOLF: Johnson wins rain-ravaged U.S. Open: American Dustin Johnson won the weather-ravaged U.S. Open at Oakmont by three strokes -- luckily for the USGA, which penalized him one stroke for a dubious rules infraction and would have come under fire had that cost him the win. Rain wrecked the first round and the schedule so that Phil Mickelson and others had to play 36 holes on Friday. U.S Open is only major Phil hasn't won, unfortunately still the case as he missed the cut.

6. O.J. SIMPSON: 'Made in America' doc revisits infamous trial: ESPN has been airing its five-part, 7 1/2-hour 30 for 30 documentary and it has met with mostly rave reviews, though some see it as a laborious rehash of what anybody under 35 knows well and probably followed intently as it was happening in 1995. The trial itself, from jury selection to verdict, lasted almost 11 months. This documentary seemed longer.

7. DOLPHINS: Offseason done, now Fins on hiatus 'til camp: Miami completed its offseason work with this week's three-day mandatory minicamp, which Reshad Jones finally showed up at after skipping the first day in a contract dispute, and now Fins are off until start of full training camp in late July. Meantime NFL.com is counting down the NFL's Top 100 players and it includes Fins Jarvis Landry 98th, Jones 64th and Ndamukong Suh 40th, with the top 30 yet to be revealed.

8. NHL: Three Panthers among awards-show finalists: Annual NHL Awards Show is this Wednesday, and Panthers finalists are Gerard Gallant (Adams award/coach of year), Jaromir Jagr (Masterton/perseverance) and Aleksander Barkov (Lady Byng/sportsmanship). NHL needs to name an award for the late Gordie Howe, and I'll bet will by next year. 

9. STRIKERS: Fort Lauderdale still alive in U.S. Open Cup: Soccer's all-comers tournament is down to its final 16 teams, 14 of them from MLS. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and New York Cosmos of the second-tier NASL are the others. FTL's round-of-16 match is June 29 at MLS' Orlando City.

10. FATHER'S DAY: Happy our day, fellow Dads: Sunday was Father's Day, and of course there are fathers on every team all across sports, although some of that is pending the outcome of paternity suits.

Missing the cut: FIU fires longtime baseball coach Turtle Thomas. Could be a good decision. Although it's just so tough imagining AD Pete Garcia making one of those ..... The NBA Draft is this Thursday, but the since the Miami Heat have no picks, it's dead to us ..... Daniel Suarez became first Mexican to win a NASCAR national-level race. Donald Trump announced plans to build a wall around his career ..... Dish drops NFL Network and NFL RedZone over a fee dispute. Not a problem. It isn't as if any of their subscribers watch football or anything (!) ..... "We won the offseason," said Rex Ryan, coach of a team that last made the playoffs in 1999 ..... It's 12 days 'til start of NBA free agency. In a weird coincidence, it's also 12 days 'til Hassan Whiteside buys something silly-expensive ..... That reminds me. Udonis Haslem said he'll be working out with Chris Bosh this summer. More pertinent: Will Bosh be back in uniform next season? ..... Fired Canes football coach Al Golden, now on the Lions staff, addressed his departure from UM but said so little it isn't worth repeating ..... Ravens waived tackle Eugene Monroe. They said it had nothing to do with his public advocacy of medical marijuana. "Yeah, right," said the entire country in unison ..... 'Too Much Information' redefined: When Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro were teammates in Seattle, as a pregame routine, Griffey would tickle Ichiro until he began sweating ..... Dear pitchers who want in on the Home Run Derby: the Derby is bad enough with real hitters in it. Stay in your lane ..... Answer: There reportedly will be a family fight over Muhammad Ali's $50 million estate. Question: Wait, isn't death supposed to bring people together? ..... Russia's entire track and field team has been banned from the Rio Olympics for doping. Too bad. If only they awarded a gold medal for cheating ..... Good for ESPN inviting leukemia-fighting Craig Sager to work the NBA Finals' Game 6 sideline ..... Jeremy Foley retiring after 25 years as Florida Gators athletic director -- and a good one ..... Countdown 8 days 'til Wimbledon ..... NHL is awarding an expansion team to Las Vegas. Like most who are new to Vegas, it figures to lose big right away ..... Two groups have bid around $4.1 billion to buy UFC. Still trying to find out who bid against me ..... The 24 Hours of Le Mans was Saturday. Let me find out who won so I can pretend to have heard of him ..... Dear Baylor athletic donors who want Art Briles rehired. Use some of that money to go buy a conscience ..... Answer: Cowboys RB Darren McFadden fractured an elbow trying to keep his iPhone from hitting the ground. Question: "What do you mean athletes sometimes injure themselves in stupid ways?" ..... Starting a new expression: "Man, you uglier than Steph Curry's Under Armor sneakers!"

Poll result: Most rooting against LeBron Sunday, but plenty of support, too: We asked if you'll be rooting for or against LeBron James in Sunday night's NBA Finals Game 7, and it was 60.2 percent "against" and 39.8% "for."

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 11, 2016

A brutal appraisal of Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill: Fair or out-of-bounds? Poll. Vote now!; plus quick hits (updated) on Sharapova, LeBron, Fish, Steeltown, MLB Draft; also, when Ali met Marino, Forbes' rich-athletes list, verdict on Ali v. Jordan & more

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

Alimarino1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 11. Headed down to Canes baseball today to see if UM can beat Boston College again and advance to the College World Series. 2) Miami sports icons: The Louisville memorial service for Muhammad Ali was yesterday. Pictured right: the time Ali and Dan Marino posed playfully as if about to fight. Based on appearance of both, I'd estimate the photo as late-'80s. Click on image to see it larger. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking Ali among century's greatest athletes poll, Cassius Clay music video, R.I.P. Kimbo Slice, D.Wade in bed, the wonder of Jose, Game of Thrones, Crisis of Character & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 5: My five most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: LeBron Wants More Than Title From Finals, the latest, on LeBron James angling to take back best-player crown from Steph Curry. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on how Ali set template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional.

"Oh. Well then. If former NBA career scrub Brian Scalabrine says he wouldn't be shocked if Kevin Durant signed with Miami, I guess we can start the party now!" --Greg Cote

RtannyCBS SPORTS' BRUTAL APPRAISAL OF TANNEHILL: FAIR OR OUT-OF-BOUNDS?: CBS Sports NFL writer Jason LaCanfora this week ranks all 32 starting quarterbacks and divides them into seven "tiers," with Miami's Ryan Tannehill's ranked in the sixth tier entitled, 'Good Luck With These Guys.' The seventh tier is an "incomplete" on the two rookie starters, so, in effect, Tannehill is lumped on the bottom rung of starters, along with the likes of Tyrod Taylor and Blaine Gabbert. Seems harsh to me. Clearly, you wouldn't place Tannehill in tiers 1 (Bona Fide Franchise QBs) or 2 (Top Pros, Proven Winners). But, arguably, he might have belonged somewhere in tiers 3 (Rising Stars) or 4 (Guys That Can be Winning QBs). Instead LaCanfora ranks Tannehill as no better than 25th of 32 starting QBs, and writes, "Not sure he is going to be Adam Gase's cup of tea. He doesn't make big-boy reads or throws and is very limited downfield. Still looks pretty rudimentary to me." (Click here to see LaCanfora's full story and list). Curious how you feel about the largely negative appraisal of Tannehill as he enters his fifth season, approaching age 28 and still looking for his first playoff berth. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do?

QUICK HITS: ON SHARAPOVA'S PUNISHMENT, NBA FINALS, MARLINS, STANLEY CUP, MLB DRAFT: Let's be fast with this, rat-a-tat-tat...

Sharapova: She's right. Her 2-year ban is harsh: No doubt it is the responsibility of athletes -- and their doctors -- to be aware of what substances are on a banned list that marks them as PEDs. But the punishers must put violations in context. In this case Maria Sharapova for many years was prescribed meldonium, a drug said to boost oxygen and blood flow, because of a family history of heart issues. It did not go on the banned-substance list (and become tennis-"illegal") until Jan. 1, after which she tested positive and immediately stopped using it. Sharapova, 29, is appealing the two-year suspension as "unfairly harsh." She's right. Six months or the next two majors seems closer to fair.

NBA Finals: Warriors still winning, but LeBron-Curry percolates: Golden State is up 3-1 after last night's win in Cleveland, with a chance to put it away at home Monday night. But the series within the series -- LeBron James vs. Steph Curry -- is closer, and has been fascinating, with King James seemingly determined to take back the crown (NBA's Best Player) snatched from him by Steph. James is averaging 24.8 points in the four games. Curry is at 21.5 after popping 38 last night. Click on LeBron Wants More Than Title From Finals to read my latest column.

Marlins: Call to the bullpen means uh-oh: Fish won a second straight last night but bullpen has been off lately. It's weird, because closer A.J. Ramos has converted 28 consecutive save opportunities. It's everybody else who stinks. Giancarlo Stanton's funk is hurting Miami, but relief pitching is hurting more. Another thing: Miami's record this season against the two worst teams is the majors (Braves, Twins) is 2-7. (But Ichiro keeps hitting!)

Stanley Cup Finals: Rooting for a city, not a team: Pittsburgh leads San Jose 3-2, with Game 6 on Sunday. Penguins can close out their fourth Cup title (1991, 1992, 2009), while San Jose is playing in its first Stanley Cup Finals in its 24th season. The latter fact would normally have me rooting for the Sharks, but I tend to root for cities when I don't care about either team, and in this case, my sensibilities are much closer to blue-collar Pittsburgh than to Silicon Valley San Jose. So, go Pens.

MLB Draft: Marlins take lefty, Canes' Zack Collins goes top-10: Baseball has never been able to package its draft to compete with the NFL's or even the NBA's for allure. Nevertheless! Marlins picked seventh overall and took Alabama high-school lefty pitcher Braxton Garrett. Hurricanes catcher Zack Collins went 10th overall to the White Sox.

FORBES' LATEST LIST OF PEOPLE MUCH RICHER THAN YOU AND I: Forbes' 2016 list of world's 100 highest-paid athletes in combined salary/winnings and endorsements finds soccer star Cristiano CristianoronaldoRonaldo (pictured) No. 1 at $88 million. Rounding out the top five: Lionel Messi 81.4M, LeBron James 77.2, Roger Federer 67.8 and Kevin Durant 56.2. Click here for full list. Heat's Dwyane Wade tops Miami athletes at No. 33 with $32 million. (Oddly, Wade, who wears No. 3, also was 33rd on ESPN's recent World Fame 100 list). Palm Beach's Serena Williams is 40th at 28.9M, Heat's Chris Bosh is 55th at 25.2 and (surprisingly) Heat's Joe Johnson is 77th at 22.9. Notable among the ex's on the list: Former Cane and Dolphin Olivier Vernon is 39th at $29 million, verifying the free-agent deal he got from the Giants makes him -- based on career accomplishment -- maybe pro sports' most overpaid athlete at the moment. Conspicuously absent from Forbes' list is Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton -- conspicuous considering he signed a 13-year, $325 million contract. Explanation: He is making "only" $9 million this season because his contract is heavily back-loaded, a reason cynics might imagine he'll be a Marlin for the next few bargain years of the deal and then perhaps be traded when the mega-bucks begin to kick in.

AliPoll result: Ali edges Jordan for greatest American athlete of 20th Century: We gave you 15 candidates (based on ESPN's SportsCentury list) and invited you to pick your top three. Based on that consensus Muhammad Ali (pictured) edged Michael Jordan for No. 1 overall by 23.06 percent to 22.12%. Those two dominated. A distant third was Babe Ruth with 8.85%, and rounding out your Mount Rushmore is Jackie Robinson with 6.84%. Also challenging for the top four with substantial support were Jim Brown (with 6.43%), Jim Thorpe (6.17%), Jesse Owens (6.03%) and Wayne Gretzky (5.63%). The next tier were Jack Nicklaus (3.08%), Willie Mays (2.68%) and Hank Aaron (2.55%). Pulling up the rear were Wilt Chamberlain (1.61%), Babe Zaharias (1.07%) and Carl Lewis and Joe Louis (both 0.94%). The remaining 2% voted "someone else."

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 06, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Muhammad Ali, NBA Finals, Doral, Jose, Copa America, UM baseball, French, Cats logo, Fins; plus new columns on Ali and Richard Bleier, the Everybody Sucks vote & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 6. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Muhammad Ali 1942-2016, your Panthers logo verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

New columns on Muhammad Ali, Richard Bleier: The death of Ali, with so much of his history interwoven with Miami, is seismic. Overshadowed but still a sweet story worth your time: the struggles and rise of Richard Bleier. Links to both of my latest columns are immediately below.

"How did the world first learn that Muhammad Ali had died? America's most trusted news source: Marlins Park Jumbotron." --Greg Cote

The Last 5: My five most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, the latest, on how Ali set the template for individuality in sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, also new, on Richard Bleier's long climb to the Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MUHAMMAD ALI: Legendary boxing great passes away at 74: G.O.A.T. Greatest Of All Time. Ali might have been that in the ring. He definitely was that beyond boxing, a groundbreaking societal and cultural icon who probably was the most influential athlete of the 20th Century. R.I.P. to a true American original. Thank you, Champ. You said, "I am the greatest!" And you weren't lying.

2. NBA: Golden State in early command over LeBron, Cleveland: Warriors won NBA Finals Game 1 by 15 points despite Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shooting a combined 8-for-27, then won Game 2 last night 110-77 despite their two stars combining for a modest 35 points. Cleveland says it is still "Believeland," but, down 2-0 entering Wednesday's Game 3, it feels closer to "Grieveland." 

3. GOLF: PGA Tour leaves Doral, Miami after 55 years: A local tradition since 1962 died when Tour said it was leaving Donald Trump’s Doral course for Mexico City. Oh, the rich irony! But, hey, maybe Trump can get his wall built fast enough to keep the event from crossing the border!

4. MARLINS: Red-hot Jose stays en fuego on mound: Fish hit the road for nine games now after wrapping up their homestand Sunday against the Mets. Jose Fernandez, after going 6-0 in May with a 1.38 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 39 innings, matched a career-high 14 strikeouts Sunday in a 1-0 win. At this rate, if Miami stays in playoff chase, Fernandez will have Cy Young's attention.

5. HURRICANES: UM wins, advances to NCAA super-regional here: UM led Long Beach State 8-1 and hung on to win 9-8 last night here to win its NCAA Regional. The Hurricanes will now host Boston College in a super-regional this coming weekend in a best-oo-three series, with the winner advancing to the College World Series. More heavy stakes at The Light.

6. SOCCER: Host U.S. bows badly as Copa America gets underway: The 100th Copa America tournament finds favored Argentina debuting Monday night, led by Lionel Messi if his back issues and tax owes allow him. Meanwhile a very disappointing 2-0 opening loss to Colombia puts the American side in early trouble in the event it is hosting. A poor showing by the U.S. cojuld jeopardize the coaching future of Jurgen Klinsmann, according to a rumor I just started.

7. TENNIS: Serena falls in French Open final, Novak gets career Slam: Little-known Spaniard Garbine Muguruza denied Serena Williams her record-tying 22nd major in the French women's final. But in Sunday's men's final Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray to complete his personal career Grand Slam. Serena couldn't make history. Novak did.

8. PANTHERS: Cats unveil new logo to lukewarm response: Lukewarm is putting it generously. Nearly 70 percent preferred the old leaping-cat logo in our blog poll. The new shield design seems generic, right off the Logos 101 cookie-cutter. Then again, as long as you win, Panthers, nobody will much care.
 
9. NHL: Pittsburgh's Finals lead over San Jose cut to 2-1: Three one-goal games, two decided in overtime. Looks like Lord Stanley has himself a pretty good Finals after all. San Jose tries to tie it at home Monday night. Stanley Cup, do you know the way to San Jose? (Sorry).
 
10. DOLPHINS: Fins resume practices, move exhibition game: Miami stages four more OTA practices Monday through Thursday. Meanwhile team announced its exhibition home opener vs. Atlanta would be played in Orlando. And the preseason home finale could be played at FAU. They insist this has nothing to do with stadium renovation delays, but nobody believes them.

Missing the cut: Davie's Nova Southeastern won the NCAA Division II national championship in baseball. Top that, Hurricanes! ..... Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds admitted in an interview he'd been surly and acted stupid much of his career. Intended result: "Aw, he ain't so bad, after all!" thought Hall of Fame voters ..... Who in God's name is Michael Bisping? ..... We are two months from scheduled start of Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. And other than the Zika virus threat, the bacteria-infested waters and the massive construction delays, everything looks good! ..... Heat announced its three preseasom home games, for those of you who like to plan four months in advance to attend games that don't matter ..... There are 75 names on the latest College Football Hall of Fame ballot and, egregiously, Howard Schnelleneberger still is not one of them ..... UM's Sinead Lohan reached final four of NCAA women's tennis singles before losing ..... ESPN  has a new 30 for 30 documentary on O.J. Simpson. Spoiler alert: He did it, but was acquitted ..... Disgraced and dethroned FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his regime took $80 million in bonuses on their way out. Blatter: The Gift That Keeps On Taking ..... Dwyane Wade was 33rd in ESPN's "World Fame 100" rankings, further proof ESPN will make a list about anything ..... This just in. Knicks boss Phil Jackson has announced he'll be taking credit for all of new coach Jeff Hornacek's wins.

EverybodysucksBIPARTISAN POLITICAL INSULT: I am aware that much of America considers the looming presidential election to be the lesser of two evils. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are untrusted and disliked by many. Tens of millions of votes will be cast mainly to keep the other person out. I personally find one candidate much more evil than the other, but, in the bipartisan spirit of hating both, I present a photo that I found funny and that, to many, is sadly accurate. The best part of the photo, to me? The gentleman's genial smile as he holds the placard declaring America is doomed. Also -- wait a second. Hey! Is that guy shooting a bird at us!?

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 03, 2016

U.S. Soccer: Confessions of a not-always-unbiased sports columnist; plus like Panthers' new logo? Poll. Vote!; also, Muhammad Ali, Jose Fernandez's monster May, locals in 'World Fame 100,' Doral-PGA divorce, your NBA Finals verdict & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 3. I Tweeted out last night I think the Cavaliers will upset the Warriors and win the NBA Finals, but Game 1 did not feather that nest. When Steph Curry and Klay Thompson shoot a combined 8-for-27 and Golden State still sails, that's a bad sign for Cleveland. 2) Still cannot fathom that the Doral-PGA Tour divorce was not preventable. See link below for my column on the subject. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): PGA Tour dumps Doral, Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals polls, Tannehill 'wins' under-pressure vote, UM baseball & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 4: My four most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, the latest, on the PGA Tour leaving Doral. Morris Vs. 'Almost Impossible' Expectations, as Jim Morris and UM baseball host NCAA Regional. The Under Pressure 12, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive.

Is end near for Muhammad Ali?: The legendary boxer, 74, whose career bloomed in Miami's 5th Street Gym, is hospitalized and today reportedly on life support with respiratory issues. He has suffered from Parkinson's disease and been in unsteady health for years. We wish for the full recovery.of one of America's bigger-than-sports sports icons.

CONFESSIONS OF A NOT-QUITE-ALWAYS-UNBIASED SPORTS COLUMNIST: The U.S. men's soccer team begins play vs. Colombia tonight at 9:30 in the Copa America tournament being held in Ussoccer
Copaamericathis country throughout June. I have a rooting interest, because I am an American before I am a journalist. Call it jingoism; I call it patriotism. I love my country. In a mood, I can get emotional during the national anthem. I get emotional watching the American squad parade en masse during an Olympic opening ceremony. And when U.S. soccer (men or women) is in a World Cup game or a major tournament like the Copa America, yes, I root for "us." (It is nothing personal, Colombia. I love that your supporters are passionate, too). If it is my country playing, I don't even bother to feign the neutrality that is otherwise a part of my profession. I do maintain that neutral curtain when covering our local pro teams. Even though I grew up a Dolphins fan, for example, I cannot be the child-fan I was when covering that team. I am a journalist covering the Dolphins. I am an American first watching U.S. soccer. Can you understand that? I hope so. But if not, I'll still be at home tonight (hopefully) cheering that first U.S. goal, and unabashedly so.

FLORIDA PANTHERS LOGO CHANGE: SHIELD REPLACES LEAPING CAT. GOOD IDEA?: The Marlins and Dolphins have both made significant logo changes in recent years, and now the Florida Panthers have done the same, jettisoning the original 1993-minted leaping panther, the claws-out version seeming to come at you in 3D, in favor of the head of a panthers pictured in a shield

Panthersoldlogo
ORIGINAL LOGO
Panthersnewlogo
NEW LOGO

under the word Florida. The old and new logos are pictured here. A logo change can be good, invigorating, as well as a boon to merchandise sales. Cha-ching. A logo change can be, bad, too. It can mess with tradition; it might prove unpopular. I liked the old/original Panthers logo, but I also get the desire for change after 23 years. The new logo is sleek, hard to dislike. It is inspired by the U.S. Army 101st Airborne shield, although I must say it reads more like a soccer logo, with that sports prone to shields and crests. I also would note the new logo is closer to the Carolina Panthers' logo than the original one was. Bottom line, for me? I'd-a probably kept the old one. It was more original. Different. The new one reads as more generic. Logo 101. But I'm more interested in what you think. You needn't be a passionate or even casual Panthers or hockey fan to vote. You can come at it from an artistic vantage or simply vote which design you'd rather have on your chest on a jersey. Vote and say why, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

JosefJOSE SHOULD ENTER CY YOUNG CHATTER THANKS TO MONSTROUS MAY: The NL Cy Young race has two clear frontrunners in Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta. No denying that. Kershaw, who won in 2013-14, has 105 strikeouts and five walks. Arrieta, who won last year, is 9-0 for the best team in baseball. That's a tall climb for Jose Fernandez. But the Marlins ace had better have at least joined the conversation after an historically good month of May. He is only the third starting pitcher since 1893 to be 6-0 with at least 50 strikeouts in May. The others: Roger Clemens in 1997 and Pedro Martinez in 1999 -- both of whom won the Cy Young that year. That's Cooperstown-quality company. (See how those three months compare below). Fernandez is now 22-1 in his career at Marlins Park. His starts have become must-see; his next one scheduled is here Sunday vs. the Mets. Jose staying in the Cy Young race will depend on him hanging statistically with Kershaw and Arrieta, but it also will depend on the Marlins hanging in the playoff chase, as they are now, just 1 1/2 games back in the wild-card standings. If Jose keeps pitching like it's May and is seen as the main reason Miami could end a 13-year postseason drought, he'll have a fighter's shot at the Cy. Here are the three greatest months of May by starting pitchers in MLB history:

Player, Team (Year)                        Record      ERA    K-BB / IP      Opp BA

Roger Clemens, Blue Jays (1997)      6-0        1.96   51-13 / 46.0   .215

Pedro Martinez, Red Sox (1999)        6-0        1.84   69-9 / 44.0     .228

Jose Fernandez, Marlins (2016)         6-0        1.38    56-11 / 39.0   .200

THE LIST: MARLINS IN CY YOUNG VOTING: Eight Marlins pitchers have received votes for the NL Cy Young Award. They are listed in order of most voting points (VP):

Pitcher                     Year    VP (1st)    Finished

Dontrelle Willis        2005   112 (11)    2nd 

Kevin Brown            1996    88 (2)       2nd

Jose Fernandez        2013    62 (0)       3rd

Josh Johnson           2010    34 (0)       5th

Carl Pavano             2004    6 (0)        6th

Bryan Harvey           1993   1 (0)         T8th

Al Leiter                  1996    1 (0)        T9th

Henderson Alvarez   2014   1 (0)        12th

Worldfame100 SerenaSERENA, D-WADE, OTHER SOFLA ATHLETES IN ESPN'S 'WORLD FAME 100': ESPN loves lists and analytics and celebrates fame like a schoolgirl, so naturally it has an annual "world fame" ranking that factors salary, endorsements, social media following and Google search popularity. The top five on the new one: 1st Cristiano Ronaldo, 2nd LeBron James, 3rd Lionel Messi, 4th Neymar and 5th Roger Federer. (Click here for full list). South Florida athletes who make it are 25th Serena Williams (from Palm Beach, pictured), 33rd Dwyane Wade, 68th Chris Bosh, 74th Venus Williams and (surprisingly, to me) 79th Amar'e Stoudemire. One SoFla ex- on the list besides LeBron: 88th Miguel Cabrera.

Poll: Landslide, twice! You predict Golden State will win NBA Finals, and want Warriors to win, too: Sorry, LeBron. Not a lot of love emanating from Miami or, as your geography puts it, South Beach. We asked which team you wanted to win and it was Warriors 75.8 percent to Cavaliers 24.2%. We asked which team you predict will win and it was Warriors 79.8% to Cavaliers 20.2%. For our viewing pleasure starting with Game 1 tonight, may the series be closer than these polls!

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 30, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); plus who's feeling most heat in South Florida sports? 12 choices, you pick 3. Poll. Vote!; also, Memorial Day, long climb of Richard Bleier, extraordinary life of Charley Winner, your verdict on SB turf wars & more

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

Memorialday1) It is MONDAY, MAY 30. Remembering and honoring America's war dead on this Memorial Day. We are the land of the free because of the  brave, and these were the bravest. See our Memorial Day tribute video below. 2) Thoughts and best wishes to former Hurricanes receiver Brett Perriman on his recovery in Atlanta from a stroke. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Turf Wars on Super Bowl name with poll, rooting for LeBron, your preferred NBA Finals matchup & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The Under Pressure 12, the new one, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive. Whale Watching Expedition, on how Heat's best shot for a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James this summer is for Miami fans to hope LeBron wins the NBA title.

PressureUNDER PRESSURE: WHO'S FEELING THE HEAT IN SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS: My latest Sunday column (click The Under Pressure 12 to read in full) explores the topic of pressure and lists the dozen South Florida sports figures who are or should be feeling the most of it. The reason vary, starting with No. 1 on our list, Chris Bosh, whose medical situation puts him under a much different pressure than Ryan Tannehill, who must win, or Giancarlo Stanton, who must perform to the tune of $325 million. Everyone has his own definition of pressure in sports and their own thoughts on who's under it. I am curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll, the dozen choices listed alphabetically, and vote for the three (3) you think are or should be under the most pressure. Then check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: NFL rewards Stephen Ross, names Dolphins stadium as 2020 SB host: Miami and a refurbished, canopied Dolphins stadium in 2020 will host its first Super Bowl since 2010, thanks to a vote of NFL owners this week. Your city hosting a Super Bowl? Good. Your city playing in one? Infinitely better.

2. NBA: LeBron awaits Oklahoma City-Golden State Game 7 winner tonight: Well, Heat fans are guaranteed at least four more games to cheer or boo. LeBron's in the Finals! The question is who Cleveland will face, with Oklahoma City going to a Game 7 at Golden State tonight. LeBron vs. Kevin Durant or LeBron vs. Steph Curry. Fans can't lose.

3. MARLINS: Jose en fuego; Fish finally figure out Braves: Miami is hanging within striking distance of playoff contention and one reason is ace Jose Fernandez, who in last four starts has allowed three runs with 43 strikeouts in 27 innings. Fish are back home this week and Jose pitches Tuesday. Meanwhile Miami finally figured out Atlanta. Before yesterday the Braves had been are 5-0 vs. Miami, 9-34 against everybody else.

4. SOCCER: Real Madrid reigns, now Copa America on deck: It was Real Madrid beating Atletico Madrid on penalties Saturday after a 1-1 game in the UEFA Champions League final. Now comes Copa America June 3-26 in 10 U.S. cities, with the U.S. team debuting this coming Friday vs. Colombia. A championship by the hosts? That’s the goooooaaaaalll!

5. NHL: It’s a Pittsburgh-San Jose Stanley Cup Finals: NHL begins to reveal its next champion with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. San Jose is making its first SCF appearance. Pittsburgh is in its fifth, including titles in 1991, 1992, 2009.

6. AUTO RACING: Rookie wins centennial Indianapolis 500: NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 ran, too, but the Indy 500 is the one day Indy-car racing owns the sport of auto racing. Especially when it happens to be the 100th running of "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing," won Sunday by rookie Alexander Rossi.

7. CANES BASEBALL: UM falls short in ACC, but named regional host: The No. 3-ranked and top-seeded Miami Hurricanes failed to reach Sunday's ACC Tournament championship game, but still were named an NCAA Regional host as expected. Today the Canes learn which other teams will be here. For UM, as always, the Regionals mean one thing. Omaha or bust.

8. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic in line for milestones at midpoint of French Open: A title by Serena Williams would tie Steffi Graf's open-era record of 22 majors, while a French title is the only major that has eluded Novak Djokovic, whose path cleared when Rafael Nadal withdrew with a wrist injury.

9. DOLPHINS: Fins continue offseason OTA practices: The next ones are Tuesday through Thursday. OTA stands for "organized team activities," which always sounds to me like something that should involve arts and crafts, like making a log cabin out of popsicle sticks.

10. PANTHERS: Cats trade Gudbranson, plan unveiling: Florida continued to fix what wasn't broke, trading young defenseman Erik Gudbranson. This Thursday the club unveils its new logo and uniforms. Team will look different next season. Question is whether they'll look like a team ready to win a playoff series for first time since 1996.

Missing the cut: Canes football coach Mark Richt is donating $1 million toward the school's new indoor practice facility. Richt hasn't coached a game yet, but he keeps winning. ..... It took eight games but NASL  expansion team Miami FC earned its first victory, 1-0 over Edmonton. Congrats, I think ..... Chris Berman will step down from his current role at ESPN after this coming football season, meaning he won't be backbackbackbackback ..... Quick aside to Koa Misi: Nothing good ever happens outside a nightclub at 3:40 a.m. ..... Heat lost without playing as Erik Spoelstra's top assistant, David Fizdale, headed to Memphis ..... Scandal-plagued Baylor fired football coach Art Briles over his handling of sexual assault charge against players, and Ole Miss self-imposed sanctions for rules violations. The 'C' in NCAA stands for cheating, right? ..... Tom Brady is appealing his four-game Deflategate suspension. You get the feeling Brady will be retired and perhaps dead and this thing will still be going on in the courts ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie, with one finalist stymied by the word "feldenkrais" and the other by "gesellschaft." I'm still trying to figure out how to spell "Krzyzewski" ..... Jose Mourinho is the new savior at Manchester United. Until he loses his first math ..... Colombia beat Haiti 3-1 yesterday at Marlins Park. I wonder if soccer fans booed Jeffrey Loria just on principle? ..... There is increasing media speculation that Tiger Woods may never play again, one more reason to hope he does ..... Sport Name of the Week: Last week's LPGA tournament runnerup, So Oh ..... Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity apologized for paying the rapper Ludacris $65,000 for a 13-minute performance at Bulldogs' spring game. Ludicrous! ..... Canada beat Finland 2-0 to win the world hockey championships in Moscow. "We'd rather have the Stanley Cup back," said Canada in unison ..... Miami Gun Show ended Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Yes, because, if there is one thing we need more of in Miami, it's guns!

RICHARD BLEIER: A LONG CLIMB, BUT HE MADE IT: Richard Bleier, a local kid who played ball at South Plantation High, this week became a major-league rookie at age 29, after a career's climb through the minor leagues. He is wearing New York Yankees pinstripes this weekend as the team that called him up on Thursday plays in Tampa Bay. He did not pitch in that series; his MLB debut could come tonight in Toronto. BleierHis Dad, Lawrence, is from the Bronx and grew up a Mickey Mantle-era Yankees fans, so this is all as exciting for him as it for his son. "It's a dream come true," Lawrence told the Fort Myers News-Press. (Richard pitched in college for Florida Gulf Coast there). "He’s been very level-headed about everything. He’s excited, but he has anticipated this day for a long time. So here he is. How long he will be there, we don’t know. Whatever it is, he’ll be a major leaguer. It’ll be in the baseball encyclopedia." Richard said in a text, "It's an awesome feeling. I've worked my entire life to get here." Richard was a teammate of my son Christopher's at South Plantation High, where I announced the games from a purple-painted wood pressbox overlooking home plate. Richard was a lanky lefthanded pitcher, rather stoic, prone to being a bit too hard on himself. His father would sometimes come up into the press box and kibitz for an inning or two. Since those days Richard has spent the last 10 or 12 years climbing, pitching, dreaming. He will wear uniform No. 50, and pitch out of the bullpen for the Yankees. I hope his stay in the big leagues lasts as long as it took him to finally get there, but perseverance is its own reward. As his Dad noted, no matter how long his stay, his name will be in the baseball encyclopedia now. No matter how long his stay, he made it. Congratulations, Richard.

Poll result: 'Miami' swamps 'South Florida' when it comes to Super Bowl: We asked what is the best title for the 2020 NFL championship game awarded this week, and it was 75.7 percent for 'Miami Super Bowl' and 24.3% for 'South Florida Super Bowl.'

REMEMBERING AND HONORING AMERICA'S WAR DEAD: This video is called "50,000 Names Carved In the Wall," by country legend George Jones. It about about the Vietnam Memorial, but its message reaches across all generations, wars and all who made the ultimate sacrifice. If you can watch this video without tearing up, you are a stronger person than I. (For those in a sentimental or patriotic mood today, I also recommend "Ragged Old Flag," by Johnny Cash). 

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 23, 2016

Dolfans optimistic? After all the changes, how many games will Dolphins win in 2016? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated), woman chooses death over Trump or Clinton, your verdict on ESPN & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 23. I'm back! Spent a long weekend in the Bahamas. More on that later. 2) Good story here by ESPN's Pablo S. Torre on the friendship between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Not sure I entirely buy the premise that the friendship is all that controversial. But an interesting read nonetheless. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Is-ESPN-in-trouble poll, navigating dog days of SoFla sports, proof Joe Public still hates Dolphins, your pessimism on Bosh's return, FA Cup champs list & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins, the new one, on how Fins must earn back the faith and trust they've lost. Conviction on Whiteside, Uncertainty on Bosh, on Pat Riley's state-of-the-Heat address. It's Pat Riley Season!, on Heat's looming offseason.

DolfanHOW OPTIMISTIC (OR NOT) ARE DOLPHINS FANS RIGHT NOW?: I won't know unless I ask, right? On one hand, there seem to be legitimate reasons for optimism, after an encouraging coaching hire in Adam Gase, a promising draft led by Laremy Tunsil and a free-agency period in which gains led by Mario Williams at least offset losses. Yet the disappointment and mistrust are ingrained now, yes? They have become part of the fabric of being a Dolfan. It is hard to expect this franchise to do right, or to be good, after 10 to 15 years of mostly letdowns. (Click on No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins for my latest column more fully exploring all of this). Mirroring the more doubtful/skeptical side, the new Las Vegas betting over/under on Dolphins wins (via Bovada) is a mere seven. That's one better than last year's dismal 6-10 season, but 7-9 isn't a playoff team and doesn't budge the club from its rut of mediocrity. Now, ESPN's offseason report card for each team weighs in with a D+ grade for Miami. Ouch. Betting lines mirror public perception, so that means Mr. Vegas with its over/under of 7 wins is surmising that gamblers football fans in general aren't sold on Miami being appreciably better. My question: Are Dolfans sold on the improvement? Is South Florida more optimistic? Are you? Only one way to find out: A poll! Take a dip in it. As always, I encourage you to vote as dispassionately as you can, not as a fan, but honestly, as if you were betting with mind (or money), not heart. Ready? Go! Vote, say why you feel as you do, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Riley unequivocal on Whiteside as team's offseason priority: The Silver Fox favored the media with his annual postseason State of the Heat address (the onset of Pat Riley Season) and left zero doubt that re-signing center Hassan Whiteside long-term is the club's No. 1 priority. Alas, he could not be as unequivocal on Chris Bosh's future, only saying the club is "trying to find a way" to get Bosh back on the court. That's hopeful. But a little ominous, too?

2. MARLINS: Miami need to pick up the pace: Fish, in a current five-game homestand, remain in playoff contention as year's second quarter began but are only 6-9 since that 11-1 streak. Slumping Giancarlo Stanton is hitting .211 and on pace for a club-record 237 strikeouts. The good news? The $325 Million Man gotta get hot soon ... right?

3. NBA: Cavaliers, Thunder up 2-1 entering Game 4s: Cleveland leads 2-1 in East finals over Toronto entering Game 4 tonight in Canada, while Oklahoma City is up 2-1 out West over Golden State entering Game 4 Tuesday in OKC. That "inevitable" LeBron James vs. Steph Curry finals is on hold for a bit.

4. DOLPHINS: Miami prepares for OTA practices: Fins will stage full practices this Tuesday though Thursday and again May 31 as new Vegas betting odds set the team's wins over/under at a modest seven. Meantime club this week bids to host three more Super Bowls, the next in 2019. How 'bout Miami spends less time on hosting a Super Bowl and more time on playing in one.

5. UM BASEBALL: Third-ranked UM begins postseason play: The regular season now done, Jim Morris' No. 3 Hurricanes prepare now for the ACC Tournament running this Tuesday though next Sunday, followed by an expected host's role in an NCAA Regionals. That in turn will lead to the College World Series ... or a very good Canes season will have been for naught.

6. HORSE RACING: Exaggerator denies Nyquist in Preakness: It was possible, after almost 30 years without a Triple Crown winner, the sport might now have had two in a row. That was the true entering Saturday's Preakness. It isn't now.

7. PANTHERS: Cats announce new logo and uniform unveiling: Florida announced it will reveal its new logo and look at its arena on June 2. That's good. Even better: Announce you're going to reveal a hockey team that can win a playoff series for the first time since 1996.

8. NHL: Tampa Bay can clinch spot in Finals on home ice: Tampa Bay leads Pittsburgh 3-2 in East semis and can clinch spot in Stanley Cup Finals on home ice Tuesday night, with St. Louis and San Jose tied 2-2 out West. Alas, not sure if any Finals matchup that arises of this will makes hearts race outside of the competing cities.

9. TENNIS: French Open, one of sports' majors, gets underway Sunday: Well, OK. Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are the two big majors. They get together and make fun of the French and Australian Opens. But still.

10. SOCCER: Americans train in Miami for Copa America: Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. men are training in Miami for the Copa America being held in the U.S. in June. Meantime, Manchester United won Saturday's FA Cup final that riveted attention across Great Britain.

Missing the cut: I Googled the phrase ENOUGH ALREADY! and saw that Tom Brady is now appealing the reinstatement of his four-game suspension ..... The Pro Bowl reportedly is moving to Orlando in 2017. What a perfect destination for a Mickey Mouse event! ..... Dolphins will be back on WQAM-560 this season for first time since 2009. That's big news for the station. Also for the estimated nearly 1 percent of all people who don't own televisions ..... Miami Dolphins Foundation held its 20th annual golf-and-fishing Fins Weekend fundraiser ending Saturday. Hopefully funds will go toward fielding a winning football team for a change ..... Valued Heat assistant David Fizdale interviewed with Memphis. Miami would love him to get the opportunity (but not really!) ..... The NFL is returning to the government more than $723,000 its teams (including the Dolphins) received in "sponsored" military tributes. Hey, somebody gotta pay for those gigantic, football field-sized flags! ..... Second-worst golf week: Tiger Woods tried to demonstrate how close his game was to healthy by hitting three straight wedge shots in the water. Worst golf week: Phil Mickelson must pay back nearly $1 million in money he received via insider trading ..... Rangers 2B Rougned Odor was suspended eight games for landing a punch vs. Toronto. Wild guess: You grow up with the name "Odor," you get in your share of fights ..... UM women's tennis lost in the NCAA Sweet 16. Feeling nostalgic, Canes fans blamed Al Golden ..... Scotland's Muirfield Golf Club voted to continue its ban on women members, erasing itself from consideration to host the British Open. Club officials could not be reached, because they are all living in the previous century ..... Canes men's basketball coach Jim Larranaga, 66, said, "I'm going to coach until I'm dead." A foolproof way to avoid being fired, come to think of it ..... The 76ers won the NBA draft lottery and will have the first pick in June. They'll still be awful, but now will have one less good excuse ..... The Indianapolis 500 is next Sunday. Gentlemen, get ready to get ready to start your engines ..... And in other news, WNBA season is underway, and you continue to ignore it.

Poll result: ESPN diminished, but still the boss: We asked what best reflects your opinion of ESPN in light of recent departures from the network, and a plurality of 46.0 percent chose "diminished but still the leader." However, more than twice as many voted for "in decline" (36.9%) over "as big as ever" (17.1%).

ObitWHO SAYS THERE IS NO HUMOR IN DEATH?: Either the dearly departed or the bereaved she left behind had a sense of humor in writing the opening of this newspaper obituary. I must say Mary Anne Noland probably speaks for millions of Americans faced with what they perceive as a lesser-of-two-evils presidential decision in November. Although I'm guessing the vast majority of us will either choose the lesser evil or choose to abstain from voting rather than choose the great beyond as a preferred alternative.

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

Twitter @gregcote