July 05, 2017

Recovery mode: Heat scramble to move past Hayward loss; plus what's bigger for Miami: MLB All-Star Game or Barcelona vs. Real Madrid? Poll. Vote now!; also, ESPN 'Body' nudies, my July fireworks column, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

Happy4th1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 5. Happy 241st birthday, America! Hope y'all had a safe, wonderful Fourth of July. Our Boston butt was scrumptious! "Let's gooooo States!" 2) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, my Sunday Heat column & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Heat-lose-Hayward column: "He wasn't worth the money." "Better to sign James Johnson and Dion Waiters." Heat fans may parse it any way they wish to see the glass half full on this, but it won't work. This was a huge loss for the Heat and Pat Riley. It's a double-defeat: Miami not only losing Hayward, but losing him to Boston, not Utah. Click on Heat Lose Twice On Hayward for my new column.   

RECOVERY MODE: HEAT STAGGERED BY HAYWARD LOSS, NOW LOOK AHEAD: There were media reports out of Salt Lake City, Boston and Miami all saying how optimistic the Jazz, Celtics and Heat were of signing Gordon Hayward after encouraging meetings. Two-thirds of them proved wrong. The only nedws that mattered came with Hayward saying Tuesday he'd chosen Boston. This is a big defeat for Miami and a very personal one for Pat Riley. You can try to the any way you wish, but it is an

Haywardbos
And so it is for Heat.

unequivocal loss for Miami. Period. It means an ultimately disappointing summer of free agency in South Florida. Hayward chose the Fourth of July to declare his independence from Utah, his longtime NBA employer, but in doing so essentially told the world he thought Boston was closer to competing for a championship than Miami, his very decision making that a reality. The Celtics had a built-in edge: Brad Stevens, their coach, coached Hayward in college. Riley tried to overcome that but could not, losing what amounted to a 1-on-1 duel with Celtics counterpart Danny Ainge to convince Hayward where his future would be best spent. Ainge and Riley have had a professional animus since the 1980s, one that in 2013 led Riley to publicly tell Ainge to "shut the f--- up." It was a needed victory for Boston, which hoped to both trade for Paul George and then sign Hayward but missed out on the first half of that dream. It was a sizable loss, too, of course, for the for the Jazz, who lose their rising star and franchise face — despite the fact they could offer him the most money. The Heat and Celtics both offered Hayward what Utah could not: An easier Eastern Conference. A more reasonable path to the NBA Finals that did not include the gargantuan roadblock of reigning champion/dynasty Golden State. Now the defeated Heat are left to prioritize retaining and re-signing their own two top free agents, James Johnson and Dion Waiters, keeping the core of the team that went 30-11 in the past season's second half, and tinkering from there. By signing Hayward, Miami might have been unable financially to keep both Johnson and Waiters and might even have lost both. Heat fans of the glass-half-full variety will go there now, seeing the bright side, convincing themselves that keeping Johnson/Waiters (if they can) will outweigh losing Hayward. Hmm. That's dubious. Hayward was not a tinker. Miami was aiming big with him. He was the top available free agent out there. He was not a "whale," no, but he's an in-his-prime 26-year-old versatile forward coming off a 22-point-average season. He made the 2017 All-Star team. He can shoot the 3. He'd have been a great add for Miami, a budding star, not to mention a big personal triumph for Riley. Now, the Heat is left to parse the disappointment and hope to salvage the summer. The news of Hayward's decision broke mid-afternoon on the Fourth. The fireworks would start booming overhead later Tuesday night. They would not find most Heat fans in the mood to celebrate.

MLB ALL-STAR GAME VS. BARCELONA-REAL MADRID EL CLASICO: WHICH IS THE BIGGER JULY EVENT FOR MIAMI? POLL. VOTE NOW!: Talk about a heavyweight battle! Next week, July 11, Elclasicomiami
MiamiasgMarlins Park will host Miami's first-ever MLB All-Star Game (and the Home Run Derby the night before). Soon after, on July 29, Hard Rock Stadium will be filled for Barcelona-Real Madrid -- Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo -- in El Clasico Miami (three nights after a Juventus vs. Paris-St. Germain match). In my latest column -- click on Fireworks Fill July in Miami Sports to read -- I suggest the two Super Bowl-scale mega-events make this the biggest July ever in South Florida sports. I'm curious which event you think merits the top of the marquee. This is not a baseball vs. soccer/favorite sport poll. I'm simply curious which you think is the bigger, more prestigious event for Miami to host. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

NARCISSISTS ON PARADE!: ESPN The Magazine's 'Body' issue is out today. It's the ninth annual, because, evidently, there is a continuing and endless parade of athletes who are proud of their physiques to a point of narcissism. There are 16 athletes featured, many of whom I have never heard of. The biggest name probably is former No. 1-ranked tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. Also prominent: Boston stars Julian Edelman of the Patriots and Isiah Thomas of the Celtics. Was the photo shoot of Thomas used to lure Gordon Hayward in free agency? Hey I'm just asking! Wozniacki and Thomas, in all their vain glory, are pictured below. I'll leave to figure out which is which:

Body2017

Ithomas

 

 

 

 

 

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 7-5-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at St.Louis, 8:15 p.m.: Continuing road trip leading to All-Star Break.

2. NBA free agency, ongoing: Heat must rebound from Hayward loss.

3. Wimbledon, 7 a.m.: Second-round matches begin in London.

4. Tour de France, 7:30 a.m.: Stage 5 of famed cycling event.

5. ESPN's 'Body' issue, out today: Annual font of athlete narcissism.

Select other recent columns: Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron : On Heat's fight for Gordon Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 19, 2017

Mayweather-McGregor: Will you watch? Poll. Last day to vote!: plus latest Hot Button Top 10. See what falls where; also, your next-Miami-champion verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Hfd1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 19. Hope it was a Happy Father's Day to all my fellow padres out there except LaVar Ball. Hope y'all had a wonderful Sunday with loved ones! 2) We talked Heat, Dolphins and other stuff in our Miami Herald Facebook Live debut last week. If you missed it, click here to watch. Also ICYMI, check us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a pictorial of our recent 12-day day European vacation in Spain, Italy and France. 3) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's next-champion poll, your verdict on Mount Rushmore-Plus of South Florida's biggest current sports stars & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MaymcgMAYWEATHER-MCGREGOR: WILL YOU WATCH?: It's official for Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. Boxing icon Floyd Mayweather vs. UFC star Conor McGregor (under boxing rules) in their much-awaited, long-delayed fight. It's a hybrid/oddity that has been criticized as a farce by some, especially with Mayweather a prohibitive betting favorite. It is the fight you hate to love and love to hate. I write about the polarizing nature of this event in my latest Sunday column; click on Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch to read. There is speculation the event could break records for pay-per-view revenue, because it will draw boxing fans, UFC fans, spectacle junkies and curiosity seekers. Yet for some reason, interest in this fight is a guilty pleasure. I think far more are actually interested in watching this fight than might admit it. So let's find out with this poll. Vote honestly.

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. After a two-week vacation hiatus, we return with this week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Draft, then free agency on deck for Miami: Heat select 14th overall in this coming Thursday's NBA Draft, team's third-highest pick since Dwyane Wade in 2003, and the free agency period soon follows. Miami and 28 other teams enter the summer all trying to figure out the same thing: How to close the wide gap with the champion Golden State Warriors?
 
2. MARLINS: Best homestand of season begins tonight: With Miami hosting All-Star Game in only three weeks, Marlins open their sexiest homestand of the season starting Monday vs. the NL East power Nationals, then reigning champion Cubs, then division-rival Mets. Fish have been 10-2 at Marlins Park since that nightmarish 1-8 homestand in May.
 
3. PANTHERS: Cats hire coach; Ovechkin on radar?: Florida hired Bob Boughner as a first-time NHL head coach amid rumors team may be among suitors for Washington scoring star Alex Ovechkin, who seems at crossroads with Capitals. Ovechkin, a seven-time 50-goal guy, would give Cats their most dynamic scorer since Pavel Bure in 1999-01.
 
4. GOLF: Former no-name Koepka U.S. Open: The 117th edition of season's second major got off to weird start in Erin, Wisc., with defending champ Dustin Johnson opening with 75, and an advertising blimp crashing near course. It ended with West Palm Beach native Brooks Koepka making the U.S. Open only his second win on the PGA Tour.
 
5. NBA: Major trade at top of draft: The Celtics and 76ers agreed to swap the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks in Thursday's draft, with Philly now planning to select Washington guard Markelle Fultz. It doesn't change likelihood Lonzo Ball and his Dad will go No. 2 to Lakers, unfortunately.
 
6. BOXING: Mayweather-McGregor is official at last: Boxer Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor will fight under boxing rules Aug. 26 in Las Vegas, it was confirmed last week.BIg outcry it's a farce and will be lopsided, yet the oddity-bout is expected to set pay-per-view records. 
 
7. DOLPHINS: Fins end offseason work: A three-day minicamp wrapped up offseason work, and Dolphins won't assemble again until the late-July start of training camp. Miami players, coaches and fans all seem optimistic for another playoff year, but the Las Vegas over/under on Fins wins is only 7 ½. Hmm. Somebody's wrong here. But who?

8. SOCCER: Big week on two fronts for Miami: Miami FC won again to continue its advance in the U.S. Open Cup. Meanwhile David Beckham cleared another hurdle in his bid to secure stadium land and finally realize his oft-delayed, oft-impeded dream of Major League Soccer here.

9. COLLEGE BASEBALL: CWS underway in Omaha: Eight teams including Florida and Florida State have begun play in Omaha to see which two will reach the three-game championship round. With end of Canes' long NCAA streak, won't be en easy watch for Jim Morris.

10. HURRICANES: UM football No. 15 by one estimation: Mark Schlabach's post-spring Top 25 for ESPN.com has the Canes 15th, for what it's worth. I might share that optimism, if I knew who UM's quarterback will be or if he'll be any good.

Missing the HB10 cut: India and Pakistan are playing a big cricket match somwhere, and I don't understand a word of it ..... Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo may leave Real Madrid after being accused of tax evasion by Spanish authorities. Surprised Real Madrid fans haven't started a GoFundMe to pay what he owes ..... Jim Harbaugh has invited the Obamas to serve as honorary captains at a Michigan game this fall. Cannot confirm Trump has signed an executive order to make honorary captains illegal ..... Want the exact definition of 'your football career  is over'? Comeback-attempting Vince Young got cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders ..... Sergey Kovalev will protest his eighth-round knockout loss to Andre Ward last night in Las Vegas, but nobody cares because it isn't Mayweather-McGregor ..... Roger Goodell said he does not believe unsigned Colin Kaepernick is being ostracized or blackballed, and everybody else brayed laughter ..... The Reds unveiled a Pete Rose statue depicting his iconic head-first slide. You can tell it's life-like, because there are betting tickets flying out of his rear uniform pocket.

POLL RESULT: MOST NEXT-CHAMPION FAITH GOES TO UM FOOTBALL: We asked which of South Florida's Big 5 sports teams is most likely to win a championship next, and Hurricanes football was your landslide winner with 60.6 percent. After that it was Dolphins with 17.2%, Panthers with 13.3% and, lagging way behind, Heat and Marlins with 4.4% each.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 6-19-17: Today's sports events of most interest to SoFla fans:

1. Washington at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Fish open 10-game homestand vs. division rival.

2. College World Series, 2 p.m.: Two games including FSU in must-win to stay alive.

Select other recent columns: No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 29, 2017

Respect and gratitude: Memorial Day 2017 (with video); plus updated Hot Button Top 10: See what falls where among UM baseball denied, NBA, Tiger arrest, Marlins, Fins, NHL; also, my Sunday column, Gregg Allman, most-wins verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Gallman1) It is MONDAY, May 29. R.I.P., Gregg Allman, pictured right, gone at 69. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from this past week's LeBatard Show. 3) Know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins vs. Canes most-wins poll, UM baseball reaches ACC semifinals, Fish vs. Trout, World OutGames Miami scandal & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Golden State, LeBron on history's doorstep: For the Warriors as a team or LeBron James as a player, this NBA Finals is going to leave one of them looking a lot like the best there ever was. Click on History Calling Warriors, LeBron for my new Sunday column.

MemdayMEMORIAL DAY 2017: RESPECT AND GRATITUDE: Ultimate respect and thanks on this Memorial Day 2017 for the thousands of Americans who have lost their lives fighting in our armed forces --fighting for us -- over our centuries of freedom. If someone should wish you a "happy Memorial Day" today, or mistake Memorial Day for Veterans Day, please politely correct them. This holiday is one of reflection, and gratitude, for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Every Memorial Day in my blog I present George Jones' 2002 video of his song, "50,000 Names." The song is about the Vietnam Memorial, but, more broadly, it is about the ultimate cost of freedom that we honor on this day. If you lost a loved one in military combat, this is for you:

Hot Button Top 10 going on holiday: Because of vacation, this will be the last Hot Button Top 10 for a little while. We'll be off the next two Sundays and return June 18.

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. NBA: Finally, it's on! The inevitable Warriors-Cavs Finals begins: It's the Golden State-Cleveland trilogy, LeBron-Steph III, and the rubber-match series begins Thursday night. Now all it has to be is the greatest Finals ever ending in a triple-overtime Game 7 to live up to expectations.

2. MARLINS: Can long homestand help fading Fish save season?: Miami hopes its current 10-game homestand, longest of the year (off to a 2-1 start), will help the Marlins start to turn around a sinking season. Fish thought that last time, too, just before the previous homestand in which they went 1-8. Now, tonight Marlins go for first two-game win streak since April 22-23.

3. UM BASEBALL: Canes denied NCAA bid, record streak ends!: UM went 2-1 in ACC Tournament with Saturdays' 12-4 semifinal loss in Louisville to North Carolina. That should have been enough, I thought, to earn an NCAA bid for record 45th consecutive year in Monday's selection show. Instead, UM was ddenied so the streak ends. Perspective: Canes' last time not in an NCAA Regional predated Dolphins' Perfect Season.

4. DOLPHINS: Another round of OTAs on deck: The next of the Fins' offseason “organized team activity” days are this Tuesday through Thursday. You know you're a football fan if you care about your team's no-pads, limited-hitting practices 3 ½ months before the season starts. otas wrap up june 5-8.

5. NHL: It's Nashville and Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup: Puck drops on Game 1 Monday. Pittsburgh has won four Stanley Cups including last season. Nashville is going for its first ever. Unless you live in western Pennsylvania, if you aren't rooting for the Predators, something's wrong with you.

6. MOTORSPORTS: Japan's Sato stuns in Indianapolis 500 goes: IndyCar racing owned the motorsport stage Sunday and delivered a surprise as journeyman driver Takuma Sato won the 101st "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Tokyo-born Sato, 40, was four years past his only previous IndyCar win. Bac home, he's Ichiro for a day!

7. TIGER WOODS: Woods arrested for DUI: The downward spiral of Tiger Woods sees a new chapter today following his overnight arrest for DUI in his hometown of Jupiter. The once-dominant golfer, recovering from back surgery, was booked at 7:18 a.m. and released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m. Pictured right from his booking photo: The new face of drunk.

8. TENNIS: French Open gets underway in Paris: A tennis tradition since 1891, French Open finds Rafael Nadal the clear men's favorite (he won today), but the women's side wide open, especially with No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber's shocking loss in first round Sunday. With neither Serena Williams nor Maria Sharapova playing, no Roger Federer, either, and now Kerber out, this major has taken a major hit in starpower.

9. SOCCER: Arsenal wins FA Cup final: Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 Saturday to win England's FA Cup. Call it an international soccer appetizer for the June 3 UEFA Champions League final in Wales as Real Madrid defends its European crown vs. Juventus.

10. WORLD OUTGAMES: Miami LGBTQ sporting event mired in scandal: The World OutGames Miami, set to have begun with an Opening Ceremony on Saturday, collapsed under a fraud investigation that canceled almost all athletic events. Was this thing being run by Fyre Festival promoters and Ja Rule or what!?

Missing the HB10 cut: Sailing's 35th America's Cup is underway in Bermuda. Quick tip for helmsmen: Avoid the Triangle ..... FAU reached C-USA baseball semifinals before losing Saturday. That and an 18-12 season could sneak Owls into NCAA Tournament. Give a hoot! ..... NASL's Miami FC faces Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday in next round of U.S. Open Cup. Am starting a GoFundMe campaign to buy Miami FC a nickname ..... Congrats, Canada! This makes it 23 straight seasons without a Stanley Cup ..... Sunrise arena will host WWE Summer Slam on June 9. Wonder who's scheduled to win? ..... Belmont Stakes coming up June 10, but, with no Triple Crown in play, not even Belmont cares ..... MLB Draft is set for June 12. Note to MLB: I know you're jealous that the NFL and NBA drafts get much more attention. Quick thought, baseball: Try having fewer than 4,687 rounds ..... R.I.P., Jim Bunning, workhorse pitcher from a day when starting pitchers actually completed games ..... Michael Vick wants a one-day contract to retire as a Falcon. And he should, doggone it!

POLL RESULT: UM FOOTBALL WILL OUT-WIN DOLPHINS IN 2017: We asked who is more likely to win the most games this coming season, and by not quote a 2-to-1 margin you had it 58.8 percent Hurricanes and 30.5% Dolphins. The other 10.7% answered, "Dead even. Got a coin?"

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-29-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA baseball selection show, noon: Hurricanes learn if streak stays alive with at-large bid.

2. Stanley Cup Finals, 8 pm.: Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of NHL Finals. 

3. Philadelphia at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish 10-game homestand continues vs. NL East rivals.

4. French Open, 11 a.m.: Men's favorite Rafael Nadal among those debuting in 1st-round matches.

[Note: NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

THE LIST: DOLPHINS NO. 1 PICKS ON DEFENSE: When I wrote recently that the Dolphins hope Charles Harris is their best No. 1 draft choice on defense in more than 20 years, here is what I meant. Miami's 10 most recent first-round picks on D prior to Harris:

Year    Player                        Results

(Results numbers are seasons, starts and Pro Bowls with Dolphins)

2013   Dion Jordan, DE          2-1-0

2010   Jared Odrick, DE         5-41-0

2009   Vontae Davis, DB         3-36-0*

2006   Jason Allen, DB           4-19-0

2001   Jamar Fletcher, DB      3-6-0

1996   Daryl Gardener, DT     6-77-0

1994   Tim Bowens, DT         11-155-2

1992   Troy Vincent, DB         4-55-0* 

1988   Eric Kumerow, DE       3-0-0

1987   John Bosa, DE            3-21-0

*-Davis and Vincent both made Pro Bowls, but not until after leaving Dolphins.

Select other recent columns: Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 15, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top10 (updated): See where flashing boobs and rat poop fall among the actual sports stuff; plus Happy Mother's Day, my Sunday column, HB Daily (Sun) & more

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

Mom1) It is MONDAY, May 15. Hope y'all made it a wonderful and Happy Mother's Day to all the terrific moms out there! Was missing my own mom Sunday, but so grateful for the one my wife turned out to be. 2) The Marlins won a game! The Marlins won a game!! 3) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Boobs Flasher with video, dichotomy of opinion on Dolphins with your verdict, sad tale of Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick, David Beckham's acting debut & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Cavaliers and Warriors will rescue the playoffs they've helped ruin: This has been a bad NBA postseason, but the inevitable third straight Golden State-Cleveland Finals will save it. Click on LeBron And Steph To the Rescue to read.

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. NBA: Wait ends for well-rested Warriors, almost for Cavaliers: While the lousy teams stake hopes on Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery, the best are still playing. Well-rested Cleveland and Golden State players could all have grown James Harden-esque beards in the time they've waited for conference finals to start. Epic Warriors rally won Game 1 over San Antonio Sunday in West finals; Cavs await tonight's Wizards-Celtics Game 7 survivor. 

2. MARLINS: Boobs and losing mark week for struggling Fish: Miami has lost 12 of past 15 games before beating Braves Sunday, and more fans were talking about that woman behind home plate who flashed her boobs than about the team. At least that took our minds off all of the losing for a weird minute.

3. DOLPHINS: Making offseason news for unfortunate reasons: Vegas over/under on wins put Fins at only 7 ½, predicting big dropoff. Then, Sports Illustrated tells the woes of '70s Dolphin stars Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick in series on effect of brain injuries. Now, rival Buffalo Bills hire away Fins player-personnel chief Joe Schoen to be assistant GM. No games, but a bad week for Miami.

4. NHL: Final four underway in conference finals: It's Pittsburgh-Ottawa and Anaheim-Nashville still standing. Predators and Senators are seeking their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and Ottawa's would be the first by a Canadian team since 1993. (But I wouldn't bet on it, neighbor).
 
5. DEREK JETER: Yankees honor ex-captain: Yankees icon Derek Jeter, one of the prospective future owners of the Miami Marlins, was honored between games of a doubleheader Sunday at Yankee Stadium. A-Rod wasn't there. Or, did that go without saying? 

6. SOCCER: Miami MLS team inches forward: David Beckham's hope of Major League Soccer in Miami, now in its fourth year, progresses with plan to buy land for Overtown stadium. Becks has small role in new King Arthur film -- fitting, since realizing this team has been like pulling a sword from stone.

7. UFC: Miocic retains heavyweight belt: Stipe Miocic enacted a first-round knockout of Junior dos Santos Saturday night in UFC 211 in Dallas to retain his  heavyweight crown. The fight lasted 142 seconds. You picked a bad time to go to the bathroom.

8. CHRIS BOSH: Ex-Heat star embroiled in bizarre suit: The owners of video porn site X-Art.com are suing former Heat star Chris Bosh over the rental of his California waterfront mansion. The plaintiffs claim the luxury abode contained, among other problems, rat poop. No, seriously.

9. MIAMI FC: Team tops NASL standings: In only its second season, Miami FC has risen to the top of the spring standings in the eight-team NASL. I would congratulate all involved, if I knew any of their names.

10. MASTERS BASKETBALL: Coral Springs hosts annual event: The 33rd national tourney of the Masters Basketball Association drew hundreds of 40-and-older teams from across the U.S. to Coral Spring, with one team featuring 64-year-old Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Cannot confirm the event's theme song was Aerosmith's Dream On. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Tom Brady will be on the cover of the Madeen '18 video game. Is that the over-40 edition? ..... Dana White says he's close to an agreement on that Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight. It'll be pay-per-view gold. Because P.T. Barnum was right! ..... KFC is marketing a new romance novella with Colonel Sanders as the desirable stud. "Harland, is that a drumstick in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" ..... UM baseball will have only four games left after today before ACC Tournament. Will NCAA playoff streak continue? Let's bring in Al Michaels for the answer: "Do you believe in miracles?" ..... Been a couple days since LaVar Ball said anything stupid. Can somebody check to make sure he's OK?

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-15-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 8 p.m.: Wizards at Celtics in Game 7 to see who meets Cavaliers in Eastern finals.

2. Houston at Marlins, 7 p.m.: Off Sunday win, Fish seek to finish homestand strong.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Ottawa up 1-0 at Pittsburgh for Game 2 of Eastern finals.

Select recent other columns: The Dolphins' Eight Ifs, on issues explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His, on what it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium, on N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy, on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 22, 2017

Dolphins will consider offense for 1st-round pick. Here's why; plus Fins' 2017 season schedule with notes; also, Canes-Noles, defeats for Fernandez statue and Sherman trade, on Aaron Hernandez, Record Store Day, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

Recordstore1) It is SATURDAY, April 22. The major holidays just keep comin'. A few days ago it was National High-Five Day. Then it was 420, or "Weed Day" (as if stoners only fire it up annually). Now, today, is National Record Store Day, the 10th annual celebration of the indie record store and the return of vinyl in the music industry. Swing by your local indie shop and check out the wax LPs both vintage and new! 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jose Fernandez statue and Richard Sherman trade polls, death of Aaron Hernandez & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Does Aaron Hernandez deserve an attempt at empathy?: He was his own final victim, for a promising life thrown away. Is there any room for empathy in regarding the former NFL player who died in his prison cell? I explore in this column: Click on An American Tragedy to read.

DdrAFTLATEST COLUMN: WHY YOU SHOULDN'T DISCOUNT OFFENSE FOR DOLPHINS' FIRST-ROUND PICK: They did it one year ago for Laremy Tunsil and they could do it again in next Thursday's NFL Draft first round. Don't be surprised if Miami goes for offense with 22nd overall pick -- Hurricanes tight end David Njoku, perhaps? -- if their top-graded available player is on that side of the scrimmage line. Click on Everyone's Shouting Defense, But... for my latest column, newly online and shipping to Friday's inky pulp editions.
 
COMPLETE DOLPHINS' 2017 REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE, WITH FOUR PRIME-TIME DATES: All the opponents have been known for months. Never quite got why the exact order was such a big deal, but, anyway, here 'tis. Notable: Four prime-time dates! When you're back in the playoffs, the NFL loves you again. At a quick glance, I see the usual postseason scramble for Miami, with an initial gut feeling in the 9-7 range and a shot at 10-6:
Date            Opponent                Time        Of note
Sept. 10       vs TAMPA BAY           1 pm        Season and home opener; my birthday
Sept. 17       @ L.A. Chargers       4 pm       Old opponent, new city
Sept. 24       @ N.Y. Jets              1  pm       First AFC East game
Oct. 1          vs NEW ORLEANS      9:30 am   "Home" game at Wembley, London
Oct. 8          vs. TENNESSEE         1 pm        Wow. Pretty soft sked to this point
Oct. 15        @ Atlanta                1 pm        Maybe toughest foe, on paper, yet
Oct. 22        vs N.Y. JETS             1 pm        2nd-most anticipated division home game
Oct. 26        @ Baltimore             8:25 pm   Finally some prime-time (Thursday) love
Nov. 5          vs OAKLAND             8:30 pm   Sunday night. At Home. Raiders. Delish!
Nov. 13        @ Carolina               8:30 pm   Monday nighter is 3rd straight in prime time
Nov. 19        Bye
Nov. 26        @ New England        1 pm        For the division lead?
Dec. 3         vs DENVER               1 pm        Recent power now beatable foe
Dec. 11       vs NEW ENGLAND      8:30 pm   4th prime-timer (MNF) is the biggest
Dec. 17       @ Buffalo                 1 pm        Bills twice in last three weeks
Dec. 24       @ Kansas City           1 pm        Christmas Eve in Missouri!
Dec. 31       vs. BUFFALO             1 pm        Playoff spot on the line?
 
UmfsuIT'S BEST LAST CHANCE FOR CANES BASEBALL TO SALVAGE SEASON: UM hosts ACC rival Florida State for three ballgames starting last night at The Light, a 6-3 UM loss. Both teams are in midst of strange seasons. FSU was ranked No. 1 in nation as recently as mid-March but for now is unranked with a 25-15 record. Miami opened the season top-10 but has struggled throughout and is now at 18-20, its record streak of NCAA postseason appearances in dire jeopardy. This weekend series is a yuuuge chance -- maybe the last, best one -- for UM to climb back in the playoff hunt. Miami wins today and Sunday could save the season. If Miami gets swept, fuhgeddaboutit.

POLL RESULTS: LITTLE SUPPORT FOR MARLINS' JOSE STATUE, EVEN LESS FOR DOLPHINS' SHERMAN TRADE: We asked how you feel about the Marlins' erecting a 10-foot statue honoring Jose Fernandez, and it was 66.1 percent against it as "inappropriate," versus only 21.7% who supported it as "appropriate." The other 12.2% were undecided. We also asked if you supported the Dolphins trading their No. 1 draft pick for Richard Sherman (suggested on ESPN.com), and it was 78.4 percent "no" versus 19.2% "yes," with 2.4% undecided.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 4-22-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at San Diego, 4:40 p.m.: Finally, a Fish game that won't keep you up 'til 2 a.m.

2. NBA playoffs, 3 p.m.: Two 1st-round Game 3s and two 4s, but nobody can clinch.

3. NHL playoffs, 3 p.m.: Three 1st-round Game 3s, and Blues, Rangers, Oilers all can clinch.

4. Florida State at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: ACC baseball rivals in second of three-game series.

5. National Record Store Day, all day: Visit an indie shop near you, reacquaint with vinyl!

Select other recent columns: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring ridiculous ASG, Heat plans, Marlins weirdness, sizzling' Cats, Hurricanes, Dolphins; plus is he whale enough? (my Whiteside column), your verdict on Marlins expectations & more

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

Prezday1) It is MONDAY, February 20. It is the federal holiday Presidents Day, which of course can mean only one thing. That's right. "Not My Presidents Day" anti-Trump protests across America. 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): Marlins open spring training with expectations poll, Kate Upton revealed, ode to the Monopoly thimble & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Heat, Whiteside: My new Sunday column: We're coming into Pat Riley Season: Trading deadline, then draft, then free agency. So, the question hovering over the Miami Heat at the all-star break: Is Hassan Whiteside "whale" enough for Riley? Good enough to be the centerpiece around which Riley can build another champion? Click on Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? to read in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 19): 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. NBA: Ridiculous All-Star Games breaks scoring records: The West beat the East 192-182 in NBA's 66th All-Star Game on Sunday night (sans any Heat participants, alas) in New Orleans. That was a record for total points, as was MVP Anthony Davis' ASG-record 52 points. But league's biggest news Sunday was Pelicans acquiring DeMarcus Cousins to pair with Davis in frontcourt. Look out, Warriors?

2. HEAT: And what does Miami have in store post-break?: Heat resume play this coming Friday only two games off playoff pace after winning 14 of last 16 games before the All-Star break. But first, up next: What you got planned for that Feb. 23 (Thursday) trade deadline, Mr. Riley? Anything? Or will you stand Pat?

3. MARLINS: Full spring work underway as sale talk turns weird: Full-squad spring training got underway Friday up in Jupiter as talks to sell the club took a weird turn. I mean, what were the odds that Jeffrey Loria maybe becoming U.S. Ambassador to France might somehow cause the frontrunning buyer to back out?

4. PANTHERS: Sizzling Cats hovering around playoff pace: Florida on Saturday won its fourth straight and seventh of past eight to get on playoff pace but is one point off entering tonight's game in St. Louis. Meanwhile Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,900th career NHL point the day he turned 45. Who else gives middle age a good name like this dude?

5. HURRICANES: Big games in play for UM men, women as regular seasons ebb: Miami's 16th-ranked women's fell at No. 13 Duke on Sunday, now the Canes men play at No. 14 Virginia tonight as last few games of regular season help shape NCAA seeding for both. CBS featured Jim Larranaga Sunday in its "Men Of March" series.

6. UM BASEBALL: Diamond Canes fail to nail down sweep in season-opening series: Jim Morris' guys got clobbered on Sunday but still took two of three from Rutgers in their season-opening home series at the Light. Reaching Omaha the imperative as usual in Morris' next-to-last season.

7. DOLPHINS: Team extends Wake's contract: Cam Wake is 35, but last season proved he ain't done yet, and the Dolphins rewarded him on Saturday with a two-year, $19 million contract extension. Everybody's happy except opposing quarterbacks.

8. NASCAR: Elliott, Dale Jr. on Daytona front row: NASCAR season -- funneling to the title run in Homestead in November -- begins this coming Sunday with the Daytona 500, and qualifying runs yesterday found Chase Elliott winning the pole position and Dale Earnhardt Jr. joining him on the front row.

9. TENNIS: Delray Beach Open tennis gets going: Running through next Sunday, it's a second-tier pro event on the men's ATP tour. Low on starpower, but if watching Jack Sock play is your thing, then go for it.

10. BOATING: Miami International Boat Show ends today: Four-day event's 76th edition has drawn thousands to Miami Marine Stadium. But you know that it's like they say: You are never happier than the day you buy a boat … other than the day you finally unload that money-eating monster you hardly used.

Missing the HB10 cut: Unlike his predecessors, President Donald Trump declined to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. Like championship teams eager to visit the White House, it seems like another presidential tradition is dying ..... Nine ex-Hurricanes led by Brad Kaaya have been invited to the March 2-5 pre-draft NFL Scouting Combine. Let the meat market begin! ..... UConn women's team won its 100th straight game (streak is now 101), and it's sort of embarrassing. C'mon, women's basketball. A little parity, please? ..... Urgent reminder: the Sailing World Cup is now less than 100 days away ..... Major League Soccer season is almost upon us as David Beckham marks what feels like the 20th anniversary of his protracted, stalling efforts to see a team in Miami.

Poll result: Mild optimism for Marlins to contend, but not to make playoffs: We asked what you realistically expect of the Miami Marlins this season, and a plurality of 37.6 percent voted "mediocre team never really in the hunt. But another 36.1% voted "contending team that just misses playoffs," while 17.3% voted "the playoffs, finally!" The other 9.0% voted for "post-Jose, a bad season." Overall, that's 53.4% who see a contending team vs. 46.6% who do not.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-20-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Panthers at St. Louis, 8 p.m.: Hot Cats, now one point off playoff pace, seek fifth straight win.

2. Hurricanes at Virginia, 7 p.m.: UM men face ranked foes in three of last four games including No. 14 Cavaliers.

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

4. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show wraps up at Miami Marine Stadium.

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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 03, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 72.6%; plus Miami 10-6 with 35-14 loss to Pats, opens playoffs at Pittsburgh Sunday; also, Kaaya goes pro, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your pick for top national 2016 sports story & more

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

Happy171) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2017. I Tweeted out the likelihood yesterday, now it's official: Dolphins at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. Sunday. 2) Happy official New Years Day Observance day! May it be a wonderful day and year for you and your loved ones! 3) Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late Christmas or Happy New Year gift for every Dolfan you know! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest national sporty story of 2016 poll, NFL Week 17 picks, FSU-Michigan Orange Bowl & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins column from Sunday finale looking ahead to Pittsburgh: It's good Miami has ended its eight-year NFL playoff drought. Now it's time to erase that playoff victory drought stretching 16 years. Click on There's A Longer Drought to End Now for my column from Sunday's season-ending loss to New England. 

A year of loss, but one that left us smiling: We lost big when Dwyane Wade left. We lost bigger when Jose Fernandez died. But in the end 2016 left South Florida smiling because -- Hallelujah -- the Dolphins made the playoffs! Click on A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile for my year-in-review column.

Other select recent columns: An Orange Bowl Classic, from Friday's 33-32 Florida State victory over Michigan. Marino Led NFL Arms Race, on how No. 13 was so ahead of his time. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win, on why Hurricanes ending their bowl victory drought was so important. The Gift Of Winning, on Dolphins rewarding fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

Find our Dolphins-Pats in-game blog and postgame thoughts directly below the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER:72.6%: Results are certified in the latest (but not last) Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 72.6 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 35-14 loss vs. New DsmEngland putting Miami's final regular season record at 10-6. (We'll have our next poll following this week's playoff opener at Pittsburgh). 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)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

G12: 34.8% (following 38-6 loss at Baltimore)

G13: 93.2% (following 26-23 victory vs. Arizona)

G14: 98.0% (following 34-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G15: 98.3% (following 34-31 OT victory at Buffalo)

G16: 72.6% (following 35-14 loss vs. New England)

Next poll: Jan. 8 (following playoff game at Pittsburgh)

G16: NEW ENGLAND 35, DOLPHINS 14: PLAYOFFS AHEAD, TRIP TO PITTSBURGH ON DECK: Postgame thoughts: Well, Miami got handled today. Brady picked apart the defense, which couldn't get off the field. And the Fins offense, except in spurts, was ineffective. Miami gave itself a shot in drawing within 20-14, but the 35-14 final better conveyed the ass-kicking it actually was. Miami headed to Pittsburgh, as expected , but not with the desired momentum a win here would have generated ..... 4Q: Garoppolo in for Brady late in game ... Blount 1-yard TD after Williams fumble gives Pats commanding 35-14 lead after 2-point pass. Barring a miracle rally, Fins are headed to Pittsburgh for playoff opener ... Awful turnover by Williams on a 2nd-and-goal play from Pats 9. Ball returned 69 yards and has Pats in Miami red zone ... Pats have been controlling clock, Fins need 7 points pretty fast to give themselves a real chance ..... 3Q: NE up 27-24, regains control on Brady's 77-yard pass play to Edelman to snatch back the momentum Fins held for about a minute and a half ... Moore-Stills 25-yard scoring strike has MIA within 20-14 ..... Halftime thoughts: Somewhat incredible Miami is only down by two scores after being pretty thoroughly dominated all over the field. Fins defense has been passed- and run-over for 260 yards while the Miami offense has managed a tepid 105. Dolphins not out of it if they can score early in second half but looking very much at this point that Fins will keep No. 6 AFC seed and be headed to a playoff opener at Pittsburgh ..... 2Q: Pats miss a 52-yard FG try on half's final play ... MIA within 20-7 on Moore-Landxry 8-yard scoring pass 28 seconds before halftime. They're aliiive! ... Pats 20-0 now on 26-yard FG after 15-play, 8-minute drive. Fins defense just can't get off the field ... NE 17-0 on 40-yard FG ..... 1Q: NE 14-0 on Brady-Floyd 14-yard TD pass. Fins defense being dominated early ... Miami punt has its defense back on field much too soon ... NE 7-0 on Brady-Bennett 2-yard scoring pass. Impressive opening drive of 41 yards passing, 34 rushing and 3-for-3 on 3rd downs over 7:32. Pats ain't Super Bowl favorites for nuthin', folks ..... Pregame: Fins honoray pregame captains, all in Hall of Fame jackets: Marino, Griese, Csonka, Little, Stephenson, Warfield. Not bad ... Betting line, which opened with Pats favored by 7 1/2 and got as high as 10, has settled at 8 today ... Dolphins in all-aqua uniforms today, which beats the hell out of those hideous Creamsicle-orange unis they wore earlier this season ..... Original post: It's a great day to be a Dolphins fan. That is not a sentence written or said nearly enough the past several years. But today at 1 p.m. the 10-5 Dolphins host the rival 13-2 Patriots to close the regular season, and the club will see six of its Hall of Fame legends led by NeatmiaDan Marino honored at halftime. Then, of course, win or lose today, Miami's first playoff game since 2008 will be directly ahead. Fins will be the No. 6 AFC and open the postseason at Pittsburgh unless they can climb to No. 5 for a far more favorable opener at Houston. That will happen only if Miami beats New England today and if Kansas City loses at San Diego. Computer odds put the likelihood of that at 10.9 percent, meaning an 89.1% probability of "at Steelers" next week. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First, the Patriots. Many readers have been kind enough to point out that I picked the Dolphins to lose both of past two games, and was wrong both times. Well, as a public service, I’m picking them to lose again! You’re welcome. But this time I mean it. Pats beat Miami early in season with Jimmy Garoppolo. Now I’m supposed to think they won’t with Tom Brady? The game is meaningful to NE, which would clinch home-field advantage throughout with a win here and a loss by Raiders, so we'll see the A-game Pats, not the resting-starters Pats. Yeah, I know: Brady has lost his past three starts in Miami. This I also know: New England’s defense has not allowed a touchdown in more than nine quarters. It is that balance and completeness at Bill Belichick’s command that makes Pats the Super Bowl favorite, not just Brady. Plus, Jay Ajayi has been limited this week by a sore shoulder. The betting line that opened at  7 1/2 ballooned to double digits — that’s too big. But if you’re looking at this game as the Litmus test for whether Miami finally has caught up to its AFC East nemesis, the answer is, "Not yet." My pick: New England, 24-20.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Playoff at Pittsburgh looms as Dolphins drop finale to Patriots: The regular season wrapped at 10-6 with Sunday's 35-14 home loss to New England, but forget that. What matters now is that the phrase said this time of year takes on a new and literal meaning for long-suffering Dolfans as their team prepares for its first playoff game since 2008 on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Pittsburgh. Happy New Year!

2. HURRICANES: UM ends 10-year bowl drought, Kaaya goes pro: It was a long time coming, but after an 0-6 run in bowl games, the 31-14 win over West Virginia in Orlando marked UM's first postseason victory since 2006. An even bigger win for the program? Would have been QB Brad Kaaya deciding to stay. Alas, Monday night he revealed he'll be entering the NFL Draft.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's an Alabama-Clemson rematch for championship:  Crimson Tide and Tigers won their semifinals Saturday and will meet next week in College Football Playoff finale, with 'Bama an opening 6-point favorite. We keep rooting against Nick Saban, and it keeps not doing any good.

4. ORANGE BOWL: FSU-Michigan thriller an OB Classic: Orange Bowl had a heavyweight matchup in Florida State vs. Michigan. It also had one of the best games and thrilling finishes in its 83 years in FSU's 33-32 upset win. Started when Renegade bucked Chief Osceola, but got better for Noles.

5. HEAT: Miami hurtling toward worst season in nine years: Team is 10-25 with five straight losses and and eight of past nine as it heads out on six-game roadie cascading to franchise's worst season since 2007-08. “The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight”: A 1969 Jimmy Breslin novel turned into a movie, now finding its sequel in current Heat.

6. PANTHERS: Ice slowly melting on season of high hopes: A year ago Florida had best regular season in club history and Cats entered this season boldly thinking Stanley Cup. Then came the slow start, the coach firing, and the 5-11 record since that panicked move. Oops.

7. NFL: Final two playoff spots determined: Playoff schedule now set: In AFC it'll be Raiders-Texans Saturday at 4:30 and Dolphins-Steelers Sunday at 1, with Patriots and Chiefs enjoying first-round byes. In NFC it's Lions-Seahawks Saturday at 8:15 and Giants-Packers Sunday at 4:40, with byes to Falcons and Cowboys.

8. UM BASKETBALL: ACC play underway for Canes: No. 11 UM women lost their ACC opener to No. 7 Florida State, while the unranked-but-close UM men began conference play Saturday with a victory over North Carolina State. Conference play torques up interest, but, in this sport, it's still fast-forward-to-March, please.  

9. UFC: Rousey beaten badly in comeback: Ronda Rousey returned to the octagon this week, got battered badly and didn't make it past the first round. Thought her star wouldn't extinguish so soon, but, seems "UFC career" and "longevity" is an oxymoron.

10. HAPPY  NEW YEAR!: Welcome, 2017!: Please be better than 2016. Thank you.

Missing the HB10 cut: Missing the HB10 Cut is sleeping in this week. 

Poll result: Surprise! (Not). Cubs were 2016's top national sports story: We invited you to select 2016's biggest national sports story from among The Associated Press' top 10, giving you three votes, and your runaway winner with 35.5 percent was the Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908. Then it was LeBron James leading Cleveland to NBA title with 16.3% and the death of Muhammad Ali with 13.3%. Rounding out your top five: Broncos winning Super Bowl in Peyton Manning's last game (8.3%) and Phelps/Ledecky leading U.S. Olympic swimming (6.3%).

Coming tomorrow/Tuesday in the blog: Your vote for the No. 1 Greater Miami/South Florida sports story of 2016. 

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 31, 2016

What was 2016's biggest national sports story? Annual year-end poll. Last day to vote!; plus FSU 33, Michigan 32 in an Orange Bowl classic; also, Dolphins-Patriots pick (uh oh), how Marino was ahead of his time & more

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

Newyear Nyeve1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve, all! 2) The inventor of the red Solo cup has died. A toast, anyone? 3) Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late Christmas or Happy New Year gift for every Dolfan you know! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes beat West Virginia in bowl with season-ending CSM poll, your verdict on Dolphins playoff foe, Greg Cote bobblehead & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FSU survives Michigan, 33-32: They stopped the calling the annual Orange Bowl game the Orange Bowl 'Classic' a while ago. They should have brought the word back just for last night. What a game! Click on An Orange Bowl Classic for my column from the stadium.

Vote for No. 1 Greater Miami/South Florida sports story of 2016 starting Tuesday: That poll will appear in a new, separate blogpost starting Tuesday morning. Watch for it and vote.

YOU PICK THE 2016 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-ending blog vote. The top 10 stories in this poll are not mine; they are from The Associated Goodbye2016Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically here, not in the order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back frequently to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. I must say I am quite surprised the tragic death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez did not make the national AP list used for this poll, but be assured that won't be omitted when, beginning Tuesday morning, I invite your vote on my choices for the top Greater Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2016. For now, let's go nationwide. Ready? Decide!

Vote for the top three (3) biggest stories:

FSU 33, MICHIGAN 32 (FINAL): AN ORANGE BOWL THAT FEELS (ALMOST) LIKE A PLAYOFF GAME: Click on An Orange Bowl Classic for my column from the stadium off the game. Original post: Tonight's 83rd Orange Bowl game (8 p.m., Hard Rock Stadium, ESPN) is not a tough sell. Some are. Remember Georgia Tech- ObMississippi State not that long ago? And how did Northern bleepin' Illinois get here!? But tonight we get No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 Florida State in a matchup that has (almost) the national heft of a College Football Playoff semifinal, and the local interest to match. It's Jim Harbaugh vs. Jimbo Fisher. It's Dalvin Cook vs. Jabrill Peppers. It's FSU's big offense vs. Michigan's really good defense. I also love this contrast: the host city knows one team very well and the other hardly at all. We see the Seminoles, the Miami Hurricanes' chief ACC rivals, all the time. So many of their players including Cook (Miami Central) are local guys. This will be Florida State's 10th OB appearance, third most of any school. Michigan, though, is a far-flung mystery. The Canes have played the other U-M since the '80s, and the Wolverines' most recent of only two OB appearance was following the 1999 season. Their quarterback then was some guy named Tom Brady, who'll be back in the same building Sunday pitching for the Patriots vs. the Dolphins. Click on A Matchup Worthy of OB Tradition to read my column previewing tonight's big game.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 17: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-PATRIOTS, REST OF NFL: Sixteen games, all Sunday, all division rivalries, with the final two of 12 playoff spots to be determined. FripixSounds like a big Week 17 for King Sport. We enter the regular-season finale a big 34 games over .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald -- one of our best years ever. Click on Week 17 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Patriots, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other contest. (Grinch Cote has picked playoff-bound Miami to lose each of the past two games and been wrong both times, as many kind readers have pointed out. Well, I'm picking Miami to lose yet again. You're welcome!). We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with an ode to Dan Marino's ahead-of-his-time greatness as the Dolphins prepare to honor him on Sunday. Click on Marino Led NFL Arms Race to read.

Other select recent columns: Road Back Starts With Bowl Win, on why the Hurricanes ending their bowl victory drought was so important. The Gift Of Winning, on Dolphins rewarding fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 26, 2016

NFL Week 12 picks for Dolphins-49ers, others; plus annual Thanksgiving holiday video from me to you, your Shaq/retired number verdict; also, Fidel Castro finally dies & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Hope y'all had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving! 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): Retiring Shaq's number with poll, Jurgen Klinsmann fired, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 11 results, SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Fidel Castro dead at 90, Cuban Miami celebrates: Former Cuban president Fidel Castro died late last night at age 90, the news so many thousands in South Florida had long awaited, and are celebrating today. How the rest of America felt when the U.S. killed terrorist Osama bin Laden, this is how Cuban Miami feels about the demise of the Castro dictator, with many fervently believing he should burn in hell. My animus is not so personal, but, suffice to say, we'll attach no "R.I.P." here to this man's name. 

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 12: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-49ERS, REST OF NFL: We rebounded like Hassan Whiteside last week, shedding our slump with a 12-2 week straight-up and 9-4-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began our Week 12 solidly, 2-1 both ways on Thanksgiving Day games; click Thursday Gems for those picks. For all of our latest selections click on Week 12 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-49ers, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with an analysis of the Dolphins' playoff chances. We have the math on why Miami must won four of its last six games and finish 10-6 to expect to get in for the first time since 2008. Click on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins to read. 

Other select recent columns: Football Town Strikes Back, on Dolphins' and Canes' concurrent resurgence. Also: Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

Pilgrim16A SPECIAL THANKSGIVING VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: Everybody's busy this time of year, but I managed to get Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Heat center Hassan Whiteside, defrocked baseball Hall of Fame voter Dan LeBatard and president-elect Donald Trump to join me for this special holiday video. Hope you enjoy it. And thank you, on a serious note, to all of our longtime readers and listeners, near and far, for allowing me to  be a small part of your lives. I appreciate the support and will keep working to earn it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Click HERE to watch the special video starring the five of us...

Poll result: Mixed feelings, but ultimate thumbs-down on Heat retiring Shaq's number: Heat announced they're retiring Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32. We asked what you thought, and it was 33.5 percent "no way!", 27.1% "close call but nope," 24.7% "close call but yeah," and 14.8% "yes definitely!" Combined, the nays beat the yays, 60.6% to 39.4%. Sorry, Big Fella.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 12, 2016

Opposite season outlooks (and results) for Hurricanes men, women as college basketball tips off; plus Dolphins-Chargers and other NFL Week 10 predictions, R.I.P. Bill Stanfill & more

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

Vetsday1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12. Happy Veterans Day, America! Yesterday we celebrated, honored and thanked all of those who have served in the U.S. military, past to present -- which we should do every day. Who sits in the White House changes, but our reliance on the world's greatest Armed Forces never does. 2) 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 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami return of Dwyane Wade, postscript on election, your Clinton-Trump verdict, The List (Wade) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Bill Stanfill, R.I.P.: Former Miami Dolphins defensive great Bill Stanfill has died in hospice care, at age 69, in Georgia. Click here for more. The Perfect Season defensive end still is No. 3 on the franchise's all-time career sacks list with 67 1/2, after only Jason Taylor and Cam Wake.

Wade3Welcome home, old friend: Click on Return Of Wade for my column from the arena on Thursday night's surreal but emotional Miami return of Dwyane Wade in a Bulls uniform. A few of our other recent columns: Miami QBs: No Worries (on why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

OPENING NIGHT! OPPOSITE CHALLENGES FOR HURRICANES' MEN, WOMEN AS 2016-17 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SEASON BEGINS: Miami's tandem of men's coach Jim Larranaga and women's coach Katie Meier is as solid as any in the country (see The List Below), but they face far different challenges and outlooks as college basketball got bouncing Friday. Our overview outlook for each team as the season begins:

LarranagaUM men open with 92-43 home win over over Western Carolina: Canes had five players score between 11 and 14 points and seven play 23 to 25 minutes in expected easy win over lesser foe. Outlook: Miami's men were really good last season, finishing 27-8, 13-5 in the tough ACC and reaching the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, led by a terrific year from Sheldon McClellan. Well, McClellan, Angel Rodriguez and Tonye Jekiri are among that team's leaders who have departed, leaving behind a program Larranaga (pictured) is rebuilding. Expectations are modest; UM was pegged ninth of 15 conference teams in the preseason media poll. Canes will be infusing arriving talent and hoping for big seasons from returning guys such as as Davon Reed and Ja'Quan Newton. The outlook? Somewhere around .500 or just above and contention for an NIT bid seems reasonable. But never underestimate the first-rate motivator Larranaga as he sets out on his sixth UM season.

MotleyNo. 14 UM women open with 82-66 road loss at No. 19 Kentucky: No soft opener for the Canes women, who lost despite Adrienne Motley's 16 points as Wildcats ended on a 15-2 run. Outlook: Meier's 12th UM season opened big as her 14th-ranked Canes unveiled themselves at No. 19 Kentucky with a huge test out the gate -- the only Top 25 matchup in women's basketball as the season launched. Canes were 24-9 last season and 10-6 in the ACC before disappointingly losing their opener in the NCAA Tournament. They should be very good again, led by a genuine star in the senior guard Motley (pictured). No. 14 in the national polls as a starting point suggests big things are expected, as does being pegged fifth in the preseason ACC guesstimation. Unlike Larranaga, then, and despite the program's first season-opening loss since 1996, Meier faces the burden of tall expectations.

THE LIST: HURRICANES' WINNINGEST BASKETBALL COACHES: Where current coaches Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier ranked among all-time Hurricanes winningest basketball coaches entering their 2016-17 seasons:

UM men's basketball coaching victories

Coach                       Record      Pct.    Years

Bruce Hale                220-112    .663    1954-67

Leonard Hamilton     144-147    .495     1990-2000

Frank Haith              129-101    .561     2004-11

Hart Morris               119-82      .592    1938-42, '46-52

Jim Larranaga            91-49      .650    2011-present

UM women's basketball coaching victories

Ferne Labati             303-195    .608    1988-2005

Katie Meier               207-143    .591    2005-present

Lin Dunn                   149-119    .556    1978-87 

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 10: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-CHARGERS, REST OF NFL: We modestly regained a bit of misplaced mojo last week in Week 10 of our 26th season of Friday Page FripixNFL predictions in the Miami Herald, after a pratfall the week before. I'm not doing handsprings over an 8-5 record overall and 7-5-1 against the spread, but it was progress. We were a big 23 games over .500 ATS entering this week, but had a mixed start last night. Had Ravens winning, but misfired on thinking Browns would lose by less than 10. (Note to self: Henceforth, don't even bet on the Browns to run onto the field for pregame intros without stumbling). We move on. For all of our latest selections click on Week 10 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Chargers (sorry, Dolfans), our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with an appreciation of former Miami Hurricanes who represent on the NFL's all-time career leaders lists in so many categories. Click on Canes In the History Book to read.

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

Twitter @gregcote