July 07, 2018

World Cup rooting interest: Which of final 8 teams (now 6, soon 4) do you hope wins it all? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus your verdict on LeBron-to-Lakers, the president and the press & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 7. Hope y'all had a happy (and safe) Fourth of July! For me it's a day of reflection as well as fun. I have not always loved who is president. I have not always loved my country's policies. But I have always loved my country, and been grateful to be among its citizens. 2) Want to surprise the Dolfans in your life? Check out our 'Fins At 50' book on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron to Lakers, Hot Button Top 10, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Cote on vacation: Missed new columns from me lately? It's because I'm on vacation this week. In town, still tending the blog, OD'ing on World Cup, but on vacation. I'll be back with a new column on Monday.

WcupTHE WORLD CUP FINAL EIGHT SIX (SOON FOUR): WHAT'S YOUR ROOTING INTEREST?: Thirty-two nations have been pared to eight -- now six, and soon four -- as the World Cup's quarterfinals stage ran yesterday and again today in Russia. The one good thing about no U.S. team in it is that many of us have had to adopt a team to root for, for whatever reason. I'm curious what your rooting interest is. In this poll I list the final eight national teams still standing in alphabetical order. Brazil and Uruguay were eliminated yesterday. Remember: this is not a poll to predict who will win. This is a rooting-interest poll -- who you WANT to win. And if you don't have a preference, it probably means you haven't been watching, and won't from here, which would be your loss. Past champions in the final eight, ranked in order of most recent title: Brazil (1958-62-70-94-02), France (1998), England (1966) and Uruguay (1930-50). The other four are seeking their first crown. Ready? Vote!

LebronlaWHY LEBRON WAS RIGHT, BEYOND MONEY, TO PICK LAKERS: Well, that was quick. LeBron James decided to take his talents to Hollywood (or thereabouts) on the first day of free agency this past Sunday, agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now if LeBron can coax a Spurs trade of Kawhi Leonard to L.A., he'll be set. In my latest column I write how LeBron should be applauded for his latest decision, because it is good for him and for the NBA. There's a poll below to gauge whether y'all agree with me or not. To read that latest column, click LeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth Applauding. Our four other columns from the past week: LeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-OnMLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town).

POLL RESULT: SUPPORT FOR LEBRON'S MOVE, BUT...: I asked in a poll on my Twitter feed if LeBron James made the right choice by going to the Lakers, more than 2,200 voted, and it was 53 percent yes, 32% no and 15% undecided. I ask the same question in the blog poll above (you may still vote) and it was also yes, but closer, when last I checked. The trend? Pretty strong "yes" sentiment initially, but then an increasing number of "no" votes. 

THE PRESIDENT AND ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS: To preview his latest column, the Herald's Leonard Pitts wrote on Twitter: "I will not blame the murders on the toxic environment fostered by the president and his followers. I will say that in routinely denigrating reporters, they set the stage for what happened. They are not guilty, but they are not innocent, either." We agree. In writing in my blog about the Annapolis murders of five Capital Gazette employees, here is what I wrote last week: "The fear moving forward: That the next assault on journalists might be politically motivated as blatant attacks on the First Amendment and unjustified disparaging of journalists continues to spew from the White House. The president of the United States cannot continue to relentlessly, egregiously and unfairly portray journalists as "fake news" purveyors, as the enemy of the people, and not expect that might eventually result in violence." 

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Other select more recent columnsCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursEnd the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinTannehill's Defining SeasonHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris. (For our column page, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 28, 2018

Memorial Day: With reverent thanks, our annual tribute video; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else lands where; also, Roger Goodell's Hell Week (newest column), 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MAY 28. It is Memorial Day. To all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and their loves ones: Thank you! 2) Flabbergast and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Case for Canes baseball to make NCAAs, NFL's new anthem policy aims to hide truth, your verdict on Tannehill & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest Sunday column: Roger Goodell's Hell Week: Why NFL's new national-anthem policy is blowing up in commissioner's face is topic of my latest column. To read: Hell Week For Goodell. Other recent columns: NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim MorrisNBA Rolling A Pair of 7s / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

Memorial dayMEMORIAL DAY: OUR ANNUAL TRIBUTE VIDEO: On Memorial Day, today, we honor the fallen heroes who deserve our remembrance and thanks every day. They are the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. military. This video is a song, "50,000 Names," by the country legend George Jones, about Vietnam losses and that war's memorial wall. But the sentiment applies to all military action over the years right through to the post-9/11 conflicts and the war on terrorism. This video is sentimental, unabashedly so. If you lost a loved one in action, this is for you:

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. NBA: LeBron comes through again, reaches Finals again: It was Cleveland and LeBron James winning in Boston  last night and Golden State at Houston tonight in the NBA's first pair of conference-finals Game 7s since 1979. Is anyone out there -- anybody -- still doubting LeBron!? BY the way, when the Celtics led 2-0 and the West was tied 1-1, I wrote in this column that the two Game 7s would happen. Most of you laughed. Well ... you're welcome

2. NFL: New anthem-protest policy is polarizing (of course): Commissioner Roger Goodell revealed a new national anthem protest policy that mandates all players on the field stand during the anthem or be subject to fines, with players who don't wish to stand confined to staying in their lockerooms, hidden from sight. President Trump likes the league's new policy. Fans of freedom of expression ... not so much.

3. DOLPHINS: Tannehill back as Fins begin offseason work: The return to the field of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, after a season lost to injury, took center stage as the Fins completed their first three offseason OTA practices, with the next ones coming up this Tuesday though Thursday. Next big deal: A mandatory June 5-7 minicamp. "Can Tannehill stay healthy?" is a reasonable question. So is this: "Can he raise his game and be better than ever?"

4. UM BASEBALL: Denied! Canes, Morris don't get Monday miracle on NCAAs: Going 1-1 in the ACC Tournament after a 27-25 regular season wasn't enough to earn the Canes an NCAA Tournament bid when the field of 64 was announced earler today. It would have taken an answered prayer for coach Jim Morris to make the national playoffs for one last shot at a College World Series title in his final season. Alas, he's done with no last shot at Omaha.  

5. MARLINS: Return of Hanley Ramirez? Um, don't count on it: Fire-Sale Fish are 19-33 after being swept at home by Washington, and now are out on a 10-game road trip. There's Hanley Ramirez chatter since the Red Sox announced they're parting ways, but don't expect his return. Hanley is 34, batting .254 and in a role (1B/DH) the Marlins can't use. Another big factor why he won't be signed: Would cost money.

6. NHL: Vegas-Washington Finals begins Monday: Normally Washington, yet to win a Stanley Cup in 43 franchise years, would get to be Lovable Underdog in this unorthodox Stanley Cup Finals that begins tonight out west. But not here. Not when the expansion Vegas Golden Knights aim to be the first first-year franchise ever to win a championship in any of America's Big Four team sports. Fans of hockey's Original Six teams are looking at this matchup and weeping softly. 

7. TENNIS: Serena back on major stage as French Open begins: Year's second tennis major began Sunday at Roland-Garros in Paris with defending champ Rafael Nadal, King of Clay, the clear men's favorite again. Simona Halep narrowly tops a far more unpredictable women's field that also will see Serena Williams play in her first major since giving birth. Serena is unseeded because the WTA, in effect, penalizes women for being out on maternity leave. (Aside to WTA: It's the 21st Century now. Join us, won't you!)

8. SOCCER: Real Madrid wins Champions League (again): Real Madrid bounced Liverpool 3-1 on Saturday to win the UEFA Champions League title for the third straight year, led by Gareth Bale's two goals including a gorgeous bicycle kick. We'll all forget it in 18 days when the World Cup starts. But, for now, Real is the real deal. Again.

9. AUTO RACING: Power wins INdy 500 in Danica's last ride: The fabulously named Will Power won the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday in the final career ride for Danica Patrick, which ended in an early crash. The big day for motorsports also included the Coca-Cola 600, but, sorry NASCAR, this was the one day of the year when IndyCar racing glommed the spotlight.

10. MEMORIAL DAY: Thanks to those who made ultimate sacrifice: Not to nitpick, but please don't cheerily say "Happy Memorial Day!" as if you have no idea what this holiday of remembrance is about. It also is not the occasion to thank a veteran for his or her service. This is to honor our fallen war dead. So: Have a somber, reflective Memorial Day!   

Missing the HB10 cut: There is speculation David Beckham's new Miami MLS team will be nicknamed Freedom. Right now, I'd preferred it be called, "Get a damned stadium built first!" ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee finals are this coming Thursday, when I'll be reminded again how many 10-year-olds are smarter than me ..... Countdown 15 days 'til Justify goes for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes. Break a leg! No, wait. That's just for actors. Sorry ..... Are Harry and Meghan still married? ..... ESPN's third annual World Fame 100 came out, listing the globe's most famous athletes. They lost me at the ping-pong player. I wish were kidding.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': YELICH OVERTAKES STANTONThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .838   42  167   30  51   23   8-2-5      .305

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .800   50 195  34  48   28  10-1-11      .246

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .651   46 189  19  50   23   6-0-3      .265

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .474   50  177  11  28   17    2-0-6     .158

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

For our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 14, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No.1 and what else falls where; plus confessions of a lifelong Dolphins fan. My column, with vintage photos from boyhood; also your verdict on U.S. teams playing abroad & more

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

Moms1) It's MONDAY, MAY 14. Hope you moms out there had a lovely Mother's Day! We enjoyed a group brunch at Vienna Cafe and it was terrific. The bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas didn't hurt. 2) By the way, saw James Taylor at the BB&T last week and he was great. A genuine dude and one of the best voices around. 3) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exporting games outside U.S. with poll, Adam Gase's big gamble, latest Back In My Day, state sports' Twitter reach, your inspiring-most-optimism verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

"Happy birthday, Michael! Love you!," said father Greg Cote to his youngest son.

Auer GrieseCONFESSIONS OF A LIFELONG DOLPHINS FAN ... ME: Readers who find me too critical of the Dolphins may find it surprising, but I grew up a diehard fan of the team. I am still a Dolphins fan at the core. I don't think you ever outgrow what you loved as a kid, and what hooked you on Program Pennantsports. I just happen to have grown up to be a Miami Herald sports columnist who writes about the team he adored as a boy. This is the topic of my very unusual, very personal latest column. To read it in full, click Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan. I think anybody whose fandom dates to the expansion years, or at least predates Dan Marino, will especially relate. I detail the fan I was and how it started. The four photos here harken to those early days. Left to right: The program from the team's first-ever home game, an exhibition in August 1966; a Dolphins pennant identical to the white one that hung on my bedroom wall; a (very) young Bob Griese appearing in a magazine ad for Velda Farms milk; and a Joe Auer Royal Castle player card. In the column I also write about how that fandom informs the way I think about the team now, a fan's sensibility factoring into the frustration I feel over the prolonged, continuing downturn of the franchise's fortunes.

Other most recent columns: Adam Gase Places His Bets / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money / Burden Is On Team, Not Player It Chose.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays (and back after a week's hiatus), 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 struggles in Game 1 loss at Celtics: LeBron James may have expected the customary warm greeting from kind Boston fans Sunday (!), but bet he didn't expect a humbling 15-point game on 5-for-16 shooting  as the Cavaliers gor routed 108-83 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference best-of-seven finals. Houston and Golden State open the Western finals tonight. The pretenders (talking to you, Toronto and Philly) are back on the couch and the NBA has the Final Four we all figured would happen while teams like the Heat ponder how to get that good.

2. DOLPHINS: Rookie minicamp begins offseason work: Dolphins on Saturday completed a two-day rookie indoctrination for first-year guys led by top  draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick. Full team practice days happened May 22-24 and 29-31 with a June 5-7 mandatory minicamp ahead of full training camp. Coach Adam Gase likes his team. Others, not so much, with ESPN's No. 30 ranking of Miami indicative of low regard from the outside. Somebody's wrong here.

3. MARLINS: Fish back to earth, still in cellar: After a brief hot streak the Fire-Sale Fish are 14-26 after Sunday's loss as a seven-game homestand continues Tuesday vs. the Dodgers. One Marlin player looking through rose-colored shades said the other day Miami would "continue to shock the world." Continue? When are they going to start!? 

4. NHL: Capitals, Jets out front in final four: While the Panthers watch, the W's have it so far in NHL's Eastern and Western conference finals, with Washington up 2-0 over Tampa Bay and Winnipeg up 1-0 over Vegas. From the West will come the more compelling story, with either Winnipeg having a shot to win Canada's first Stanley Cup since 1993 or Vegas making the Finals as an expansion team.

5. GOLF: Simpson wins Players with ease: At The Players Championship outside Jacksonville, golf's fifth major to some, Tiger Woods shot 65-69 on the weekend. That's the good news, Tigerheads. The bad? He finished seven shots off the lead because Webb Simpson ran away with the damned tournament, winning by four strokes. 

6. MLB: Yankees-Red Sox headed for London: The scourge of a trend -- American teams exporting meaningful games abroad -- crossed a line this week when MLB announced the Yankees and Red Sox would play two regular season games in London in 2019. The crown-jewel rivalry of America's Pastime should be played in Boston or Da Bronx. Period. Am I alone on that?

7. UM BASEBALL: Hot Canes win eighth in a row!: The once-sinking Hurricanes are now 25-25 and on a season-best eight-game winning streak after completing a series sweep Sunday at Virginia Tech. If Canes continue to finish strong and then impress in the upcoming ACC Tournament, they may have a chance to sneak into an NCAA regional after all in Jim Morris' final season.

8. SOCCER: Real Madrid, Liverpool reach big final: Club titans Real Madrid and Liverpool will meet May 26 in Kiev, Ukraine for the UEFA Champions League crown after both won semifinals. The Spain vs. England final reprises the same matchup from 1981, won 1-nil by Liverpool. Real Madrid is the (very slight) favorite this time.

9. HORSE RACING: Justify readies for Preakness: Countdown five days 'til Saturday's 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, and Kentucky Derby winner Justify is an early 1-2 betting favorite to make it two-thirds of the way to thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown. What's more impressive: A horse winning a Triple Crown? Or Mr. Ed being able to talk?

10. MOTHER'S DAY: Happy your-day to all the great Moms!: Love and respect and best wishes to all of the great Moms out there. Not to the lousy ones who never shoulda had kids. But to  the great ones! Hope y'all had a wonderful day.

 Missing the HB10 cut: The Hot Button Top 10 is happy to be back after a holiday last week in Montreal spent soaking up the history and culture and mostly drinking beer ..... The NBA draft lottery is this Tuesday. Agents are already counting their money ..... Albert Pujols collected his 3,000th hit. It's axiomatic. The more who do it, the less special it becomes ..... Amanda Nunes retained her bantamweight title by whuppin' Raquel Pennington in UFC 224 last night in Rio de Janeiro. Or, UFC CCXXIV to our Roman readers.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': STANTON SURGINGThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .855   40 155  28  39   26   9-1-10      .252

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .783   29  115   17  33   14   5-1-3      .287

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .658   36 151  12  40   20   5-0-3      .265

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .522   38  134  10  23   13    2-0-5     .172

POLL RESULT: MOST AGAINST EXPORTING AMERICAN GAMES ABROAD: We asked, "With Yankees-Red Sox in London next year the latest example, what best represents your view of U.S. sports leagues playing meaningful games in foreign countries?" Your verdict: 55.38 percent against it, 32.31% for it, 7.69% were for it but think it's gone overboard, and 4.62% undecided.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

For all of our recent columns: MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 17, 2018

March Madness Update: My bracket's still solid, oh Virginia, no-Cinderella Saturday and Haiku Challenge contest news; plus brutal honesty on Dolphins (new column), UM women ousted, latest Back In My Day video & more

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

Stpatricks1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 17. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Stay safe out there. It's one of those holidays when all of the amateur drunks come out of the woodwork to join we more experienced imbibers. 2) Pleased to meet so man of you Thursday at the LeBatard Show event at J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood. Great place, great time, great people. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Haiku Challenge advisory & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

"It was 8th-seed Miami Hurricanes women (21-10) vs. 9th-seed Quinnipiac (27-5) today in Storrs, Conn., to see if UM's better half was just that and could do what the UM men failed to: Advance. Um, they couldn't. Out, 86-72." -- Confucious, 484 BC

New column: On Dolphins scrambling to make up losses: This has been a rough offseason and free agency for the Miami Dolphins, led by the departures of much starpower in Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry and Mike Pouncey. In my newest column, I pose the three questions that measure the state of the Dolphins. You might not like answers. to read, click Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

BracketUPDATED. MY NCAA BRACKET: SOLID FRIDAY FOR US, NOW CINDERELLA CAN TAKE SATURDAY OFF, PLEASE: We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I stand tied for seventh place through the Round of 64 and entering Saturday play. And in case you wondered, Virginia was the championship pick of 22 in the pool, or 16.8%. Ouch. Not me, luckily. I have Villanova net-cutting.

Day 3 / Round of 32 -- Cinderella can take Saturday off, please. My bracket is alive in all eight games and needs all eight by-seed favorites to win, including Gonzaga over Ohio State and Texas Tech over Florida in what look to me to be today's tightest matchups.

Day 2 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 12 of 16 games (75%), a dip from Day 1 but still not bad. Went two out of three again on by-seed upsets, nailing No. 9 Kansas State over No. 8 Creighton and 9-Florida State over 8-Missouri, but missing on 10-Providence over 7-Texas A&M. Our other misses: Like all of you, I didn't see No. 1 Virginia losing in a mega-stunner. Also missed on losses by Arkansas and Wichita State. Overall, survived the Round of 64 with 26 of 32 teams still alive, or 81.3%. 

Day 1 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 14 of 16 games (87.5%). Very pleased. That includes two out of three on by-seed upset picks. I was right on No. 11-Loyola over No. 6-Miami (sorry, Canes fans) and 9-Alabama over 8-Virginia Tech. This just didn't feel like the March for Miami to make a run, as I wrote in this column. The upset misfire was 10-Oklahoma over 7-Rhode Island. Our only other miss: 13-Buffalo's bracket-busting stunner over 4-Arizona. 
Haiku

ENTRIES NOW CLOSED ON OUR 13TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!: UPDATE: We had 128 haiku entries in four days (not bad), of which 80 qualified for consideration. The rest were either not 17 syllables, not on topic, didn't make the deadline or, in two hilarious instances, were obscene. We'll reveal our finalists and Grand Champion Haiku in a new blogpost here on Sunday. Thanks to all who played along! ..... Original post: We have done the Haiku Challenge for as long as we've had this blog and it is back for tradition's sake and by unpopular demand. Actually we had a record number of entries last year, so let's see if we'll raise the bar even higher. I know many of you Vitaleare intimidated by this contest, or simply do not agree that nothing captures America's mania over the NCAA Tournament and bracketeering like ancient Japanese short-form poetry. I do not do this for the masses, but for the select few creative minds and poets among you. Think of it like a restaurant that offers liver. They know very few like it, but they know the few who do love it. You may know that a haiku is a 17-syllable poem ideally but not necessarily in 5-7-5 structure. Rhyming? Fine, but also not necessary. Here's an example of a standard 5-7-5 haiku: "An ocean voyage / As waves break over the bow / the sea welcomes me." Got it ? Now apply that to March Madness.

Three simple but firm rules: 1. Your poem had to be 17 total syllables exactly and must in some have been about the NCAA Tournament, March Madness or college basketball. 2You could submit entries ONLY one of these two ways: Via email to gcote@miamiherald.com with Haiku in the subject line, or via Twitter @gregcote with the hashtag #Haiku. 3. Entries were accepted starting Tuesday through noon today/Friday, March 16.

Grand prize? I dunno, maybe a Dolphins media guide or something equally crappy? We'll figure something out. But don't do it for the prize, as I said. Do it for the glory and empowering feeling of Zen.

THE LIST: MIAMI HURRICANES BASKETBALL IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: UM men's basketball is in the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time since first making it in 1960, and the Canes women are in it for the 13th time since their first appearance in 1989. Seasons when both Miami teams made the NCAAs the same year:

Year     UM men's results                                       UM women's results

1998     Lost to UCLA                                                Lost to Clemson

2013     Beat Illinois, lost to Marquette                Lost to Iowa

2016     Beat Wichita State, lost to Villanova     Lost to South Dakota State

2017     Lost to Michigan State                              Beat Florida Gulf Coast, lost to Quinnipiac

2018     Lost to Loyola-Chicago                               Lost to Quinnipiac

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': MUSIC CONSUMPTION!: Here's the latest BIMD video, which debuted on yesterday's LeBatard Show. Key reference: Oddjob from Goldfinger. Bonus: Shirley Bassey. Enjoy:

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Can Hurricanes Answer The Doubters? / Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? / Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season / Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History / As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Fins Must Find Their Future / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night, Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 14, 2018

New: Canes on right side in Arkansas State mess ... but will the Force (Majeure) be with them?; plus video in honor of Black History Month, Happy Valentine's Day, newest Dolphins draft guess, America's Dog & more

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

Valentine1) It's WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to all the sweethearts out there, especially my wonderful wife! (I'd get credit for that, if she read my blog). 2) Click on Strange Signs! for the new Back In My Day video that debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 3) The Dolfans in your life may not know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our ultimate franchise history book. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot BUtton Top 10, latest Back In My Day video (Strange Signs!), D.Wade homecoming trilogy, LeBron flexes power, your Winter Olympics verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW COLUMN: ON CANES VS. ARKANSAS STATE -- THE COURT CASE: Miami would have won the football game pretty easily. Because there was no game, there might now be a court case, and winning that won't e so easy for Miami. It's the football game that turned into a mess, with Miami on the morally right side, but not necessarily the legally right side. We explore in our latest column. To read, click on UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them?

Our most recent other columns: LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. And the Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade.

IN HONOR OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH: A poignant new video from the great Mavis Staples for her song, "If All I Was Was Black":
RsmithLATEST DOLPHINS DRAFT GUESS
:
In a new mock draft from the Washington Post -- whose new doomsday-feel slogan is "Democracy Dies In Darkness," as an aside) has the Dolphins selecting Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (pictured) 11th overall. Reasonable guess. Position of need. But I'm still banging the drum for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, if he lasts that long. There seems to be building momentum for the Broncos taking Mayfield at No. 5 overall, although that seems high. Still think Miami could have a shot.

BichonFLYNN THE BICHON FRISE' NAMED AMERICA'S TOP DOG: Flynn is pictured at left. A Bichon Frise' looks like a poodle on steroids. Do they drug-test these canines? "Bichon frise'" is a French phrase meaning "curly lap dog." The small, button-eyed breed is in the non-sporting group, meaning it just sits around annoying the neighbors by emitting a high-pitched, strident bark. Nevertheless, Flynn won Best in Show on Tuesday at the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at New York's Madison Square Garden in New York. Following the show the small, foofy champion was mauled by a German shepherd. OK I made up that last part. Flynn is alive and well: America's Top Dog!

Select other recent columns: Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last. Dear Canton: Call Zach. Also: Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamA Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins PegasusAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameCanes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae Riback

Thank You, Edwin Pope.Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, all! Our thanks to you and annual video (with me, Jeter, Richt, Shula and Snortin' Chris Foerster); plus Turkey Day NFL picks & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23. Happy Thanksgiving, all! 2) Holiday season! Give the Dolfan on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL rankings, SOPY standings, Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Our 3 latest columns: On Dolphins, NASCAR, Canes: Click Adam Gase Must Find A Way, on Dolphins' woes. Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The Day, from NASCAR finale at Homestead. And Heart and Fight Keep Canes' Perfect Dream Alive, from UM comeback win over Virginia.

Tg17HAPPY THANKSGIVING, ALL! MY GRATITUDE IN 30 SECONDS: My first byline in the Miami Herald appeared in late 1972. It is now 2017, and I am still going in a career I love. That is thanks to my three professional families: Miami Herald Sports, the Dan Lebatard Show on ESPN Radio, and mostly ... you. You all. I mean the people who are reading us (on the old-school page or by clicking online), following on social media, listening on the radio and caring about what I do. To all of you: Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you!

Tg17vidClick on Thanksgiving 2017 for our holiday video, starring myself, Marlins boss Derek Jeter, Dolphins legend Don Shula, Canes coach Mark Richt and the deposed Dolphins assistant coach, Snortin' Chris Foerster.

 

FripixNFL THANKSGIVING DAY GAMES: HOME COOKING, BABY!: This is the 12th straight season of NFL holiday triple-headers, and I like one upset (Lions win) and one maybe-upset (Cowboys win) among the troika. In other words, all three home teams win. Click On Thursday Gems for all of our Bird Day predix capsules.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 02, 2017

On Dolphins' Jay Ajayi trade: Poll. Vote now!; plus Herald NFL QB rankings, Bills-Jets pick, Stephen Ross' big win, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, new Back In My Day video, updated SOPY standings (Canes' Rosier makes his move), a message for UM fans & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2. Click Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Bills-Jets Thursday Night Football game. 2) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite last Thursday? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at North Carolina with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 , state Collball Week 9, The List (college coach-salaries) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Miami, Stephen Ross win big: Miami and Hard Rock Stadium are awarded the 2020-season college football national championship game and it's a huge win for the city, Stephen Ross and (maybe) the Hurricanes. Click Miami Wins Again for my latest column.

Dolphins' Jay Ajayi trade: Dumb!: Miami traded its young, really good No. 1 running back and got in exchange the NFL equivalent of a tackling sled and a box of kicking tees. Dumb. Dumb! Dumbdumbdumb. Click How to Make a Bad Offense Worse for my column.

A message for Hurricanes fans: Quit finding fault at 7-0: Desperate Gators turn to Randy Shannon. Embarrassed Seminoles are 2-5. Is this really the season you want to look at Hurricanes' 7-0 record and complain it hasn't been dominant enough? Click Appreciate Perfection -- Period.

JayaON DOLPHINS' JAY AJAYI TRADE: YAY OR NAY? VOTE NOW: I have had my say. The link to my column is just above here. I think the Dolphins trading their top young running back and getting next to nothing in return made a bad offense worse, erased somebody the team should have made a part of its future, and was just plain dumb. No spinning it. No yeah-buts. No equivocation. DUMB! But that's just me. Now have your say:

BRADY OVERTAKES SMITH FOR SEASON LEAD / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 8Miami’s favorite quarterback -- not -- has
Tbradyovertaken first place after Week 8 in the Miami Herald's latest NFL quarterback season rankings. That would be the Patriots’ Tom Brady (pictured) surpassing the Chiefs’ Alex Smith, who has led all but one week this season. Seattle’s Russell Wilson climbs to fifth place overall on the strength of a 47.60-point week that gave Wilson his second straight weekly title. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. Because the rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of a season.

RK LW Player, Team                  Wk8       Season

1     2 Tom Brady, NE                  41.65     302.05

2     1 Alex Smith, KC                 15.10     286.05

3     4 Drew Brees, NO               37.95      246.55

4     3 Carson Wentz, PHI           22.55      238.15

5   10 Russell Wilson, SEA           47.60     228.40

6     6 Josh McCown, NYJ           37.85      227.00

7     5 Kirk Cousins, WAS             26.15     222.00

8     7 Philip Rivers, LAC             14.60     197.40

9   12 Ben Roethlisberger, PIT     23.85     197.10

10 16 Matt Ryan, ATL                 30.70     195.20

11 19 Matthew Stafford, DET     30.15      187.55

12 14 Dak Prescott, DAL             18.15     186.45

13 18 Derek Carr, OAK               25.65      185.70

14 15 Cam Newton, CAR            16.70      183.05

15  8 Aaron Rodgers, GB             BYE       182.25

16 21 Case Keenum, MIN            33.40     181.50

17t 20 Deshaun Watson, HOU     31.10     180.95

17t  9 Carson Palmer, ARI           BYE       180.95

19 11 Eli Manning, NYG              BYE       174.00

20 17 Jameis Winston, TB          8.50       172.65

29 29 Jay Cutler, MIA                 DNP       118.75

37 38 Matt Moore, MIA              8.80         29.20

Bubble: Jared Goff, LAR, 171.20. Week 8 best: Wilson, SEA, 47.60 (26-41, 452, 4-1 in win). Week 8 worst: Mitch Trubisky, CHI, 1.20 (14-32, 164, 0-1 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 8 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my FripixMiami Herald predictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. WEEK 8Herald picks: Disappointing. Went an OK 9-4 straight-up and a poor 5-8 against the spread. That included a huge misfire in believing Dolphins would win at Baltimore. Greg's Lobos: Lobos sank to 5-3 (still tied for second in the league) with a 83.3 to 66.6 loss to Roy. Is it even possible to score fewer points? We got bitten by the bye bug bad. Still, no excuses. Never a good sign when your leading score is tight end Kyle Rudolph with 14.7 points. #GoLobosGo

SOPY STANDINGS / WEEK 9: MIAMI'S ROSIER JUMPS TO 2ND IN 'STATE HEISMAN' RACE: Malik Rosiers' 216-point game at North Carolina (second-best among state FBS schools this past weekend) lifted him one spot to second place, now narrowly trailing only UCF's McKenzie SopyMilton, in the race for the Herald's 2017 State Offensive Player of the Year award -- the "state Heisman." Devin Singletary's 279-point game for FAU, a statewide season high, solidified his hold on fourth place. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison even because not all teams have played the same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown.

SOPY Top 10 entering Week 10:

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                      Average        Total (Games)

1     1   McKenzie Milton-UCF qb               196.93         1,378.5 (7)

2     3   Malik Rosier-Miami qb                  194.36          1,360.5 (7)

3     2   Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb             191.38         1,531 (8)

4     4   Devin Singletary, FAU-rb               158.88         1,271 (8)

5     5   Alex McGough-FIU qb                   132.93            930.5 (7)

6     6   Thomas Owens-FIU rec                 111.64           781.5 (7)

7     7   Travis Homer-Miami rb                 103.71           726 (7)

8     9    Darius Tice-SoFla rb                      98.13           785 (8)

9     8   Cam Akers-FSU rb                          97.50           682.5 (7)

10  --   D'Ernest Johnson-SoFla rb               90.13           721 (8)

Bubble: Marquez Valdes-Scantling-SoFla rec, 88.38. Other team leader: Malik Davis-Florida rb, 85.14. Week 9 best: Singletary-FAU rb, 279 points. Season best: Singletary-FAU rb, 279 points (W9).

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

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': HALLOWEEN!: In our latest LeBatard Show BIMD rant I lay out my rules for Halloween. How many did you observe followed or broken on your street last night?

Select other recent columns: Along For the Ride On the Road to 'Back' (UM at7-0). Dolphins Debacle (quick hits 40-0 loss in Baltimore). Time Is Right For Dolphins To Prove Doubters Wrong (on three straight prime-time games). The Godfather Speaks (Pat Riley exclusive). Also: Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonIt Isn't Just CutlerBack On Track & Ready To Roar. Jeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 9.9%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 9.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 16-10 victory over the visiting Tennessee Titans putting Miami's season record at 2-2. That's a slight bump up, but a minimal one following a victory. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 22, 2017

Upset Bird Day in America: Picks for Dolphins-Jets, rest of NFL; plus hating Heat uniform patch and media coverage of it & more

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

Shanahtova1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) In these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a hearty 'shanah tova' to all of our Jewish readers and listeners! 3) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL Week 2 QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY Week 3 Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA: NFL WEEK 3 PICKS: NEXT-EASIEST WEEK AFTER A BYE? DOLPHINS AT JETS!After lucking to win their delayed opener at the L.A. Chargers last week the Dolphins should roll to 2-0 Sunday at the stinky, Stinkin' Jets. They'd better. A season sweep of lowly NYJ is a prerequisite if Miami is to surprise doubters with a second straight playoff season. Click on Week 3 Gems for our predix capsules on Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week (Falcons-Lions), Upset of the Week (Seahawks-Titans: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game including Breakfast at Wembley -- the season's first of four London games. Our week got off to a mixed start last night in the Rams' unexpectedly exciting 41-39 pointfest over the 49ers. Had Rams winning, but missed out on the ATS win with the push against a 2-point spread. Rams were cover-bound the whole game, until late.

HeatpatchHATING HEAT'S UNIFORM PATCH, AND MEDIA'S COVERAGE OF IT: The NBA sold-out and is allowing teams to wear small advertising patches on the front of game uniforms starting this season, another reminder our teams are businesses, and your Miami Heat will wear the logo of a Broward-based company called Ultimate Software. Except it isn't even really a logo, just the words Ultimate Software in which the 'i' in Ultimate appears to be a person. The company sells a product that is a "cloud-based human capital management solution." Gawd. The patch is ugly and the idea of it uglier. The first domino has tipped toward a time when team names themselves will be will be for sale. "And today in the NBA, your Amazon Heat take on the Samsung Knicks." Pragmatically I get why the Heat and other teams like the uniform patches. The wrd is revenue. The mystery is why Your Friend the Media plays along like a bunch of lemmings, dutifully printing and broadcasting the names of corporate sponsors. Yesterday's business deal between the Heat and Ultimate Software was reported by the Herald and other outlets as if it was actual news. Why? Because the Heat announced it as such and Pat Riley was there and so reporters flocked. Sad.

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

Twitter @gregcote

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