October 26, 2016

Heat season-opening special: Post-Wade, who's your favorite player? Also, how good do you expect Miami to be? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus Dolphins Halloween, your Cubs-Indians verdict, The List & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26. 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cubs-Indians rooting interest poll, Joe Public hates Miami Heat (quantified), NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 7 results, SOPY standings, World Series lists & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Heat, Dolphins, World Series: Our 3 latest columns: Heat opens its new season tonight, leaving Big 3 era behind and starting anew; click on Heat's System Reboot. Click The 200-Yard Man for Jay Ajayi column off Sunday's big Fins win. And click The Perfect World Series for me on Cubs-Indians.

MYSTERY TRAIN LEAVES STATION TONIGHT AS NEW-ERA MIAMI HEAT OPEN SEASON: Heat's 29th NBA season opens tonight in Orlando, Miami's first without Dwyane Wade since 2002. The Big 3 is a memory, with Wade and Chris Bosh following LeBron James into Miami's past. A youthful nucleus led by Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Heat1617Johnson carries the franchise forward. (Dragic, Winslow and Whiteside are pictured). Architect Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra reassuringly still steer this season, but where it ends up, nobody knows. Wouldn't surprise me if Miami surprised the media experts and made the playoffs. Wouldn't surprise me Mysterytrainif they were lottery-bad. But the bettor in me thinks a competitive fight for that eighth playoff seed is more likely. (Click on Heat's System Reboot for my full season-preview column). Riley always uses 20 games, a quarter of the regular-season schedule, as the barometer it takes to judge a team or its direction. That brings us into early December. But the first two games will be a reasonable early gauge this time, because, in the Magic tonight and then the Charlotte Hornets in Friday's home opener, Miami immediately faces two like teams in the Eastern Conference -- teams the Heat must be better than to reach the postseason. As an example, ESPN's Power Rankings for the East's eight playoff spots have Charlotte ranked seventh, Miami 10th and Orlando 12. The Heat's third game, vs. league and West power San Antonio, will be sexier but say less about Miami's playoff chances than the first two games. By the way, Chicago at Heat -- Wade's Miami homecoming -- is game No. 7, on Nov. 10. That's in 15 days, not that I'm counting. We offer two season-opening Heat polls here. The first one invites you to set the bar on Heat expectations for this season in terms of number of regular-season wins. As a guide, a common range of Las Vegas over/unders for Miami is 34.5 to 36.5 wins. Remember to vote how good you honestly think the team will be, not how good you hope it is. The second poll wonders who your favorite current, active Heat player is in the large void left by Wade's departure and with Bosh seemingly having played his last game for the team, with names listed alphabetically. Vote in both polls, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

DolhallDOLPHINS COMMUNITY SERVICE: Every Tuesday the Dolphins organization does something nice in the community. Yesterday, the club bought Halloween costumes for a bunch of local kids. Pictured here, a Dolphins cheerleader with two lucky kids as the three of them set a world record for making the friendliest scary faces. (Photo is courtesy of the Dolphins; click on it see a larger version of the image). Most of what the team does on their Tuesday off-days involves doing good and philanthropy. The past two weeks the team's good works also have involved the uncommon bonus of an actual two-game winning streak.

Poll result: Unsurprisingly, you're rooting Cubs over Indians: We asked about your World Series rooting interest (before Cleveland won Game 1 last night), and it was Cubs 63.0 percent, Indians 27.6% and undecided 9.4%.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS TWO-GAME HOME WINNING STREAKS: A modest little streak, winning two games in a  row at home. But, for Miami, not as common as you might think. The five most recent times before now that the Fins have won consecutive games in Miami within a single season:

Year        Opponents beaten          Dates

2016        Steelers, Bills                Current

2012        Jaguars, Bills                Dec. 16 & 23

2011        Redskins, Bills              Nov. 13 & 20

2009        Bills, Jets                      Oct. 4 & 12

2008        Seahawks, Raiders        Nov. 9 & 16

2006        Chiefs, Vikings             Nov. 12 & 19

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 20, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 30, 2016

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


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

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

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

Vote for your top three (3):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 10, 2016

G4: Heat 94, Toronto 87: Wade rescues Miami, ties series as Heat climb uphill to become 'America's Underdog'; plus Radio Tuesday, latest Hot Button Top 10, Wade dethrones Marino & more


1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 10. Hope you made it a happy Mother's Day! I was missing my own mother this year but so thankful for the wonderful mom of my two sons! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 3 despite Wade's 38, Marino vs. Wade poll, Tunsil channels Kooch, history of Heat OT playoff games & more. 3) Heat's Pat Riley ties for 8th in NBA executive of year voting won by Spurs' R.C. Buford. 4) ESPN announces Sean McDonough will replace Mike Tirico in its  Monday Night Football booth. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and simulcasting on Fusion TV and ESPNU.

We'll have a brand new blogpost coming later today, post radio show. A college professor once insisted to me "brand new" was redundant. I never learn. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Be Careful What You Wish For, the latest, from last night's Heat Game 4 home win. Wade: A Little Help, Please?, off the Game 3 home loss. Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend.

G4: HEAT 94, TORONTO 87 (OT): WADE'S 30 CARRIES MIAMI TO 2-2 SERIES TIE AS HEAT BECOME AMERICA'S UNDERDOG: One-man-show Dwyane Wade hit 30 points as Miami escaped at home last night to tie this series 2-2 as it heads back to Toronto for Game 5 Wednesday night. Raptors still own the home-court edge and Heat must find a way to win at least one of two games in Toronto to advance and earn the dubious right to face a rested, hot LeBron and Cleveland in the next round. Be careful what you wish for, Miami. Click on Be Careful What You Wish For for my column from the Game 4 victory. What do I mean by "America's Underdogs"? Miami, already without Chris Bosh, loses Hassan Whiteside to a knee injury. They remain underdogs to survive Toronto. They would then be monumental underdogs vs. Cleveland. They would then be even greater longshots vs. (presumably) Golden State. The Miami Heat: America's Underdogs! ..... Original post: Canadian fans  are upset that Dwyane Wade kept into his warmup routine before Game 3 and was still taking shots during the start of O Canada. Heat fans are thinking, "If it helps him score 38 again, he can shoot through both national anthems." Of course
Heatrapsg4the fact Miami lost despite his 38 is why the home team is under the pressure it is tonight, trailing 2-1 in the series. Another loss would put Miami in the awful position of needing to win three G4straight games, two of them in Toronto. Even a win to level the series leaves the Heat still needing to figure a way to win one up in We The North territory. Both teams are now scrambling to replace their big men, with Miami's Hassan Whiteside (knee) officially "day to day" but ruled out for tonight and Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) out the rest of the series. Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri called the latter a "big, big, big, big, big blow for us." That's five bigs. Heat playing sans Whiteside is comparably big. Which coach and roster adjust best moving forward should be the team that takes the series and advances to meet a very rested LeBron James in the Eastern finals. Said Wade on Sunday: "It isn't always about who's the best team. It's about who's the healthiest team. It'll be a different game for us with Hassan out, but we have to figure out a game that's successful for us." I'd expect veteran Udonis Haslem to get most of Whiteside's minutes, with help from Josh McRoberts and Amar'e Stoudemire. The erasure of the two starting centers could be a bigger blow to the Raptors, as Valanciunas had generally outplayed Whiteside in this series, with a double-double in all three games. Toronto has been plus-41 (in scoring) with Valanciunas on the floor in the series; Miami has been plus-39 when he is on the bench. The Whiteside factor has been closer to negligible in terms of +/-, with Miami minus-7 with him in the game and plus-5 without him.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Wade the hero again as Miami wins Game 4, ties series: Dwyane Wade scores 30 points last night one game after scoring 38, and all at once Miami is tied 2-2 as the series heads back to Toronto for Game 5 Wednesday night. With Bosh already out, Hassan Whiteside now out, too, and Miami still the underdog againt Toronto, facing longer odds vs. Cleveland, then an impossible longshot vs. (likely) Golden State, the Heat has become America's Underdog. (Click on Be Careful What You Wish For for my column off the Game 4 overtime home win).

2. MARLINS: Hot Fish back on winning track as homestand continues: Marlins have now won 12 of their past 15 games after beating Milwaukee last night behind Jose Fernandez as nine-game homestand continues with two more vs. Brewers. Much more of this winning and contending and Jeffrey Loria may have little choice but to open the wallet and bolster the roster, especially the starting rotation. Two words: Tim Lincecum.

3. DOLPHINS: Fins re-sign Wake, conclude unusual rookie mini-camp on Sunday: Team signed Cam Wake to a two-year, $15 million extension. Meanwhile, Miami wrapped up a three-day rookie mini-camp. It was classroom stuff only, no uniforms or practices. So we’ll have to wait awhile longer to see No. 1 draft pick Laremy Tunsil behind a gas mask. Oops. Sorry! Freudian slip. I meant a facemask.

4. HORSE RACING: Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby as gates open on Triple Crown season: Nyquist showed why he was the betting favorite in Saturday’s 142nd Kentucky Derby. Still, most thoroughbred experts predict we likely won’t be seeing an end this year to the Triple Crown drought stretching all the way back to 2015.

5. NBA: LeBron's Cavs are first team through to conference finals: Cleveland completed a 4-0 sweep of the Hawks in Atlanta Sunday to become the first team through to the conference finals, with every other series competitive. Doubt him or not, LeBron is still LeBron. And now rested, too.

6. PANTHERS: Cats out of playoffs but still in news with Jagr, coach: As playoffs continued sans Florida -- Tampa Bay on Sunday became first team through to conference finals -- Panthers’ Gerard Gallant was named a coach of year finalist and Cats re-signed Jaromir Jagr for another year. I don’t wanna say Jagr is old, but he skied as an NHL rookie because ice hadn’t been invented yet.

7. DON SHULA: Coaching legend hospitalized but released: When you're 86, any health issue can be worrisome. It is reasonable more than macabre to wonder if Shula will live to see his Dolphins in another Super Bowl. That's reality, the tenuous state of the franchise.

8. SOCCER: Beckham stadium talks with Miami-Dade hit a snag: Took forever to find a site and settle on what was not his preference. Now there are more delays. I am beginning to wonder if David Beckham, 41, will ever live to see his dream of Major League Soccer in Miami come to fruition.

9. HURRICANES: Richt rallies the troops at fan meetings: New Canes football coach Mark Richt has been speaking to Hurricane Club rallies. At one he mentioned he wasn't big on players' demonstrative "swagger," saying, "If you want to dance, go to the club." Cannot confirm he quickly added: "But while you're at the club, don't drink, get in trouble or stay out too late!"

10. DION JORDAN: Dolphins draft bust seeks comeback: You could argue Miami trading up to third overall for Jordan in 2013 was among worst draft decisions in club history. With that in mind, I Googled the phrase "vested interest" and saw that Jordan's agent and trainer were predicting he'd be NFL comeback player of the year this season.

Missing the cut: Leicester City won the first EPL championship in its history against 5,000-to-1 odds. Coincidentally, those were the same odds against the Dolphins' No. 1 selection being pictured draft-night wearing a bong gas mask ..... Marlins' May 30-31 games vs. Pirates will not be played Puerto Rico as scheduled because of threat of Zika virus there. Instead the games will be played at Marlins Park, because of course we have no mosquitos in South Florida (!) ..... Phoenix Coyotes made John Chayka, 26, the youngest GM in NHL history. Chayka immediately traded a future first-round draft pick for four killer tickets to Pearl Jam ..... Canelo Alvarez beat Amir Khan in Vegas and I can't even fake interest ..... Yes, Pablo Sandoval played only three games for the Red Sox and was 0-for-6 before season-ending surgery. However, in that short time he did lead all AL batters in second helpings ..... Joe Paterno reportedly knew as early as the 1970s of Jerry Sandusky's pedophilia. R.I.P., Joe Pa. (Rest In Pieces).

Poll result: Wade dethrones Marino: It had to happen eventually. We asked who had the greater career for Miami, and it was the Heat's Dwyane Wade soundly defeating the Dolphin's Dan Marino by 49.8 percent to 37.6%. Another 10.6% voted "can't decide or too close to call," while 2.0% voted "someone else."

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May 06, 2016

G2: Toronto 96, Heat 92 (OT): At 1-1, still liking Miami in 6; plus no-Bosh decision smart beyond health, good/bad news for Miami in '17 NFL Draft, Jose & Giancarlo (Part IX), appreciating Shula, disrespecting Richt, urgent Fins cheerleader news & more


Cincodemayo1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 6. Hope y'all had a happy Cinco de Mayo! As you know this date marked the Mexican Army's upset victory over French forces at the Battle of Pubela in 1862, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza. That's in Mexico. In the U.S. this date marked the latest excuse to get drunk. Like we need one! 2) Thanks to Tony Kornheiser for having us on his national radio show. And thank you, Mavis Staples, for a wonderful show on Wednesday! 3) Welcome back, Jaromir Jagr. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat beat Raptors in Game 1, LeBron wants Heat next, an appreciation of Mavis Staples, Fins/Marlins updated betting odds, ex-Heat/Dolphin on wasted-talent list, your verdict on Heat-Raptors & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, the new one, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend. Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, previewing Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory.

U.S. presidential odds: Today, six months before the election, via Bovada: Next president--Hillary Clinton 1-3, Donald Trump 2-1, Bernie Sanders 20-1. Republican VP--Chris Christie and John Kasich both 4-1. Democratic VP--Julian Castro 2-1, Elizabeth Warren 4-1.

G2: TORONTO 96, HEAT 92 (OT): TURNOVERS, COLD-SHOOTING LATE HAS SERIES TIED 1-1 HEADING BACK TO MIAMI: Miami outshot the Raptors 49-42% and led in rebounds but is hard to claim the Heat deserved to win last night on the road. Miami led 77-70 in the fourth quarter but soon after went on a field goal drought of 4:37 as Toronto forced a second straight overtime game. Then Miami started 0-for-5 in OT. Heat also self-destructed with 21 turnovers to offset the gift of 12 missed free throws by the Raptors. This Heat team had a chance to be the first in franchise history to lead a playoff series 2-0 with consecutive road wins. Instead it's 0-for-15 in such opportunities. The good news? A split in Toronto and heading home at 1-1 probably would have been OK with most Heat fans coming in. See you Saturday at 5 p.m. by the bay. Still like Heat in six. ..... Original post: All eyes will be on Heat-Raptors tonight -- the only game on the NBA  playoff schedule -- and it finds Miami with a chance to make some history. This is the 41st playoff series in Heat franchise annals. Fourteen of the previous 40 have begun with two games on the road, but none of those 14 -- G2
-- have ever resulted in a 2-0 Miami series lead. That can happen tonight for the first time if the Heat can manage to pile another win in Toronto onto that overtime survival in Game 1. (The Eastern semifinal series swings to Miami with Game 3 on Saturday). As a starting point Miami will win again if guards Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic continue to be clearly better than Toronto's tandem of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Lowry has been especially awful. "I know we won't advance if I don't play better," he admitted on Wednesday. Look for Toronto to try to get Lowry going tonight with early shots and foul-seeking drives into the paint. Miami can't count on being as good from 3-point range as it was (8-for-11) in Game 1, but Hassan Whiteside (17 rebounds) should continue to be a force om the boards. Miami needs more offense from Whiteside, though, which may come tonight. Toronto is a 4.5-point favorite tonight. Then again, the Raps were a 6.5-point fave in the series opener.

THE REASONS FOR SITTING BOSH REST OF PLAYOFFS GO BEYOND HEALTH: It was smart of the Heat and Chris Bosh to jointly announce yesterday (at the team's strong urging) that he would not return the rest of the playoffs. Not a surprise, but it needed to be said to defuse the growing distraction caused by his wife's #BringBoshBack social media flurry and also by the unecessary,
Chrisboshbutting-in involvement of the NBA Players Association. The group issued a pointless statement saying Bosh's health if the utmost concern. What, like it isn't for the Heat, too? Abundant caution on the part of the team is why Bosh is still sitting in the first place. But it may not be the only reason. This doesn't get talked about, but Bosh rejoining the active roster right now might not be best for the team from purely a basketball standpoint. Miami will be better with him back starting next season. But right now? Here's why not, beyond the blood clot-related health concerns: 1) He would not be in basketball condition, let alone playoff-intensity condition, after not playing since February. 2) His return in the midst of a playoff run would be a circus-y distraction. 3) The team is performing well without him, with most metrics indicating Miami has been better post-Bosh, especially offensively, with Luol Deng's increased role and the addition of Joe Johnson. The Heat eventually will be a better team with Bosh when Erik Spoelstra figures out how to reintegrate him to the team's advantage next season. But that's not an experimenting that should be starting now.

LeBron, Wade on looming faceoff: LeBron on whether he has thought of facing Miami in Eastern finals: "Of course. It'd be great to play against those guys in the postseason. I've always wanted to go against [Dwyane] Wade in a playoff series." Wade on same question: "That's something we always talked about. Obviously, you want to play against the best and we respect each other as being two of the best competitors. But right now, that's not something I'm focusing on." Funny. Despite that disclaimer at the end, Wade obviously is looking forward to facing LeBron as much as vice versa. Make it happen, fate! Even fans in Toronto and Atlanta would probably rather watch Heat-Cavs.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR MIAMI IN FIRST '17 MOCK DRAFT: The outrageously early guesswork is out today via ESPN's Todd McShay. The good news for Miami is for The U. McShay has QB BradkaayaBrad Kaaya (pictured) as the No. 2 overall pick, after only Clemson QB DeShaun Watson. The bad for Miami is for the Dolphins. He has the Fins selecting fourth overall, which would indicate a really bad season. His choice for Miami isn't so bad, though: LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Others of Todd's first-round picks include Gators Jalen Rabor (CB) and Jarrad Davis (OLB) and Seminoles Roderick Johnson (OT) and Dalvin Cook (RB). Find McShay's full mock here. A Sports Illustrated '17 mock has Kaaya going first overall and the Dolphins selecting 10th and taking Alabama DE Jonathan Allen.

MARLINS: THE JOSE & GIANCARLO SHOW, PART IX: Jose Fernandez was the winning pitcher yesterday in the Marlins' ninth win in past 10 games, and Giancarlo Stanton homered. I wondered how often that has happened -- a Stanton HR the same game as a Fernandez W in the ultimate nexus of the team's two biggest stars. Answer: Nine times. But the pattern is interesting. It happened a lot in Jose's rookie season of 2013 (5 times, July 23-28, August 19, September 6-11). It happened only once in 2014 (April 29). It did not happen at all in 2015 largely because of staggered injuries to both. But it has already has happened three times in 2016, in all three of Jose's wins (April 18-28, May 4).

ShulaA RE-APPRECIATION OF SHULA: Whether it is a parent or grandparent or an iconic football coach who meant so much to your city, when an 86-year-old man is hospitalized, it is a good time to pray or give thanks or simply to appreciate that person. That is the spirit of today's latest column by me, an unabashed paean to Don Shula. We celebrate, again, all he meant and accomplished, and also marvel at yet another reminder of how distant the Dolphins' best days have grown from the present. Click on Shula: A Renewed Appreciation to read the column in full.

MarkrichtDISRESPECTING MARK RICHT: A panel of CBS Sports college football experts ranks all 65 Power 5 conference head coaches entering the 2016 season (click here) and the Hrricanes' Mark Richt (pictured) is ranked only 18th -- a tumble down from last year's 7th. Explains the synopsis: "Richt takes a big step back in the rankings, falling 11 spots. This is no doubt a result of a third straight season of failing to live up to high expectations at Georgia, especially in a season in which the SEC East was so very winnable. Now Richt has moved on to Miami where we'll see if a fresh start is enough to get him back into the top 10." The usual suspects -- Alabama's Nick Saban and Ohio State's Urban Mayer -- are 1-2 atop the list. Florida State's Jimbo Fisher is 6th. Florida's Jim McElwain is 27th.

FinscheerURGENT DOLPHINS CHEERLEADERS NEWS!: The Dolphins are giving fans a chance to attend this year's Dolphins Cheerleaders calendar shoot. Click here for details including how to enter. The club has chosen 40 young women for a seven-week boot camp from which the final 2016 squad will be selected. The camp will consist of workouts, etiquette training, team building, uniform fittings, look development and performance training. (Yes, I said "look development!") The 40 finalists were selected from among more than 800 hopefuls who auditioned at tryouts in Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil in addition to South Florida. I really don't care about any of this. I just needed a vessel in order to gratuitously float the photo at right.

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April 22, 2016

Panthers lose OT heartbreaker, trail Isles 3-2; plus what should be Dolphins' priority for No. 1 draft pick? New poll. Vote now!; also 'Patrick & Zo,' homicide rates and lesson in them, athletes on 'most influential' list, reliving Prince in Miami & more


Passover Tubman1) It is FRIDAY, APRIL 22. A most happy Passover to our Jewish readers and friends. Also, happy Earth Day and thank you, mother! 2) Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Imagine you'd proposed that idea to her before she died in 1913, seven years before women had even won the right to vote! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): History! Heat and Panthers both win in playoffs on same day for first time, R.I.P. Prince, ESPN fires Schilling, Marlins' awful start, NBA jersey ads & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

"The national group, People Who Thought the Dolphins Might Actually Get Josh Norman, is meeting tonight. Waffle House. Corner booth." --Greg Cote

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East, the latest, off Heat's Game 2 win. Rook 1, Rook 2, on Heat's refreshing, uncommon reliance on rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. This Is the Upside, off Heat's impressive Game 1 victory.

G5: N.Y. ISLANDERS 2, PANTHERS 1 (2OT): CATS NOW TRAIL 3-2 HEADING TO BROOKLYN: Florida loses 2-1 in double-overtime past midnight and now faces elimination in Game 6 Sunday. Click on Cats Need Jagr's Goals Punch for my column from the game. ..... Original post: All four games so far have been one-goal margins if you exclude one last- Catsislessecond empty netter. In Florida's two wins Roberto Luongo has given up two total goals and in the two losses nine goals have whizzed past him, so figure defense and Luongo's performance naturally will be a key tonight starting at 8. But defense-first hasn't really been the Cats' mindset thus far in the postseason as it usually was in G5the regular season. You know how the Miami Heat are going nuts offensively so far in the playoffs? The Panthers are showing a similar aggressiveness. In the NHL there is an analytic rating that measures a team's total of blocked and unblocked shots in one-goal or overtime situations when both teams are full strength. Florida's rating was a minus-99 in the regular season, ranking 18th in the league, the number suggesting a team that tried to protect leads with puck possession rather than push for additional goals. But in the first four playoff games the Cats are an NHL-leading plus-46, signaling push-forward aggressiveness. How important is tonight? Historically in the NHL Game 5 winners of a 2-2 series go on to win the series 78.4 percent of the time. Late tonight, one team will be one win away from its first Stanley Cup series advance in two decades (Panthers' last was 1996, Islanders' '93).

Tannenbaum"DEAR MIKE TANNENBAUM...:" SETTING DOLPHINS' DRAFT PRIORITY: In six days, next Thursday night, your Miami Dolphins make their first-round selection in the NFL Draft, 13th overall barring a trade up or down. That puts Dolphins roster builder Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) in the throes of a huge decision. What to prioritize with so Draftroommany needs? Will you help him, please? I'll have a Dolphins draft column in this Sunday paper's (online Saturday) and of course will have my annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft in Thursday's paper (online Wednesday). So you'll be getting plenty of my specific thoughts on who the Dolphins should and will select No. 1. Now it's your turn. I invite you to say what you think is Miami's greatest position need and what you think its draft priority should be, assuming a player of comparable talent were available at each position. Say you happen to be in an elevator with Tannebuam. You have 10 seconds to share your thoughts as he pretends to listen. What are you telling him? The poll is alphabetical. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

PatrickzoTRAILER: 'PATRICK & ZO': Sports Illustrated has a new SI Films documentary, Patrick & Zo, newly available on SI.com. The doc explores the kinship and rivalry between menacing defensive giants Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning, who both starred at Georgetown University and then faced each other as star centers throughout their NBA careers. (Zo, of course, is the former Miami Heat star and now a club vice president). Click here to see the film's trailer: Patrick & Zo

GLOBAL HOMICIDE RATES, AND THE LESSON IN THEM: I read with interest the latest annual survey of the Mexican Citizens Council for Public Security, which ranks the world's most dangerous large cities (300,000-plus population) based on the number of homicides per 100,000 people. The dubious top three: Caracas, Venezuela with 119.87; San Pedro Sula, Honduras with 111.03; and DangerSan Salvador, El Salvador with 108.54. Four U.S. cities unfortunately make the top 50: St. Louis is 15th with 59.23, Baltimore 19th with 54.98, Detroit 28th with 43.89 and New Orleans 32nd with 41.44. Ten countries account for all of the top 50 most murderous cities: Brazil with an astounding 21, Venezuela 8, Mexico 5, U.S. and South Africa 4 each, Colombia 3, Honduras 2, and 1 each for El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica. (Click here for an article that includes the entire top 50). Forty-one of the most homicidal cities are Latin American, thanks largely to Brazil. Zero European cities are on the list. Two quick thoughts: 1) I wonder if President Donald Trump will now move to ban all Brazilians from entering the U.S? 2) Notice that zero Muslim countries are in the top 50. Hmm. That is despite radical terrorists (the most indiscriminate murderers of all) inflicting the most havoc on Muslims in countries where they live and unfairly fomenting broad-brush anti-Muslim hysteria in America and elsewhere thanks to folks like Trump. What the latest statistics suggest is that -- if you erased the scourge of terrorism from the globe -- you'd probably be safer from murder living in Baghdad or Raqqa than you would be in St. Louis or Baltimore. We can take whatever lesson or reminder from this that we wish. Here's one, and I think it's a reminder that we Americans in 2016 could use: Terrorists are murderous people. Muslims are not.

SIX SPORTIES ON TIME'S 'MOST INFLUENTIAL' LIST: Time's 2016 100 Most Influential people list (given as a group, not in order) includes, alphabetically: track star Usain Bolt; the Warriors' Stephen Curry; Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton; former UM football player-turned-actor Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson; UFC star Ronda Rousey; and golfer Jordan Spieth. OK, I guess. Each is very successful is his or her field. The influential part is open to interpretation, I reckon.

GONE TOO SOON, PRINCE: The great musician and performer died suddenly yesterday at 57. Recalling his Super Bowl halftime performance in Miami on Feb. 4, 2007, amid a rainstorm and lightning. The show must go on...:


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February 14, 2016

The new Hot Button Top 10; plus ominous Marlins news, ominous Dolphins odds, Hold Me Closer, Bernie Sanders (the video) & more


Valentines1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful wife and to all our abundantly appreciated female readers. I wish you love. 2) ICYMI, click on The Forte Factor for my most recent column on how the Dolphins should explore signing Matt Forte if Lamar Miller leaves and the price is right. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Dolphins/Matt Forte with poll, quantifying Heat's bad 3-point shooting, Panthers' record pace, Dwight Howard, ex-Canes at Combine, Ted Cruz's porn star, Kanye West's weird video game & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEB. 14): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Wade, not Bosh rep Heat in All-Star Game in Toronto: Miami entered the break fifth in the East after a week that included the club saying it would retire Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32. Only Dwyane Wade will represent the Heat in Sunday's ASG with a calf strain rendering Chris Bosh a spectator. Do you think between the two of them they could kidnap a 3-point shooter and bring him back to Miami?

2. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Cats hit a lull as Cats chase record: Division-leading Florida continues a six-game homestand vs. Pittsburgh on Monday on pace for the most regular-season points in franchise history. But Florida now has lost four of past five, the last two by a combined 10-3. Uh-oh time?

3. HIGH SCHOOLS: Miami Jackson makes history with female football coach: Jackson High made Bernice Brunson the first female head coach in Florida prep football history, the same day it also named former 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell as defensive boss. Give 'em this: Jackson sure knows how to get your attention.

4. HURRICANES: UM men, women both face big road tests on Sunday: The 12th-ranked Canes men visit rival Florida State on Sunday while the 19th-ranked women play at No. 3 Notre Dame. Can’t recall another year (can you?) when both UM teams were thinking Sweet 16 and it wasn't just wishful thinking.

5. MARLINS: Spring is springing as Marlins prepare to report: Baseball unfurls this coming Friday as Marlins pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Jupiter. Fans hope for a playoff contender under new manager Don Mattingly. Alas, the Marlins betting over/under on wins, 81, is not a playoff number.

6. UM BASEBALL: High hopes as Hurricanes open season: Jim Morris' Hurricanes open their season at home vs. Rutgers with a weekend series starting this coming Friday. UM is No. 6 in the preseason polls. No pressure or anything. Omaha Or Bust, that's all.

7. SOCCER: Beckham seeks outside investors for Miami MLS team: Miami's Major League Soccer pointman David Beckham is seeking investors, and the places he's looking include Russia, China and Qatar. Becuase I guess nobody has money in any countries that would not be a controversial partner.

8. NFL: Denver still celebrating, Manning still deciding: One week later, Denver is still celebrating its Super Bowl win, Peyton Manning is still deciding whether or not to retire, and Cam Newton is still trying to convince people (and maybe himself) that it's OK to be immature and rude in a postgame news conference.

9. DOLPHINS: Slow time but a busy week for Fins: Miami cut two marginal players (Brice McCain, Quinton Coples) in salary-cap moves, tweaked its coaching staff and parted ways with an assistant GM. Perhaps most interesting: Fins could need a RB if Lamar Miller leaves, and Matt Forte just came available. Hmm...

10. VALENTINE'S DAY: Hope you didn't forget it's Sunday, guys: Valentine's Day either originated as a Western Christian liturgical day of feasting in honor of Saint Valentinus, or was invented by Hallmark, I can't remember which.

Missing the cut: His agent confirmed Marshawn Lynch will retire. "No comment," said the media ... USA Curling National Championships ended Saturday in Jacksonville, surprising analysts who didn't know we curled in America ... Hassan Whiteside lost his cool, threw an elbow and got ejected from a Heat game. Or, did that go without saying? ... Two more Cuban baseball stars defected for a shot at MLB riches. Or, did that too go without saying? ... It was announced the intrasquad UM spring game in football would be April 16 at Lockhart Stadium. It'll be Mark Richt's first Canes win. And loss ... Mexico beat Senegal 2-0 in a soccer friendly that drew 15,588 to Marlins Park. Which sounds about right for a Marlins Park crowd ... Congrats to Canes guard Sheldon McClellan, one of 35 candidates for Naismith player of the year award ... Brett Favre headed an eight-man Pro Football Hall of Fame class, which, looking at it, was about three or four men too many ... PGA Tour caddies lost a lawsuit in which they sought compensation for having to wear bibs with advertising. Dear fellas: Your job consists of carrying a golf bag, telling your guy, "178 yards" and collecting up to 10 percent of his earnings for doing very little. Quiet, please! ... Daytona 500 opens the NASCAR schedule next Sunday. "Gentlemen, start your season!" ... Delray Beach Open runs all this week, a second-tier men's pro tennis tournament featuring guys you've barely heard of and hardly care about ... Barcelona entered weekend with a club-record 29-march unbeaten streak. All Barca, plus bite-a. (Sorry) ... MLS announced its best would play English power Arsenal in the league's summer all-star game. Good luck, MLS ... Rockets trying to trade Dwight Howard but he'll be a free agent. Rental, anyone? ... The fast-approaching PGA Tour stop at Doral March 3-6 is just a week or so ahead of the Florida presidential primary. Gee, I wonder if Donald Trump will be here? ... Miami Gun Show ends Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Talk about the perfect Valentine's Day gift!

Poll result: Dolphins should look into Forte, although many disagree: We asked if the Dolphins should explore signing free agent-to-be running back Matt Forte, and it was 55.6 percent yes, 33.4% no and 11.0% undecided.

ZeroOMINOUS INDICATOR FOR MARLINS: Baseball America just came out with its 2016 Top 100 prospects list (click here for complete list), and here are the number of Marlins on it: Zero. Nada. Nil. Zilch. No promising crops growing on the farm. Ouch. That's baseball-unhealthy. Miami needs to remedy that dearth for its long-term success.

Bet66-1NO LOVE FOR DOLPHINS IN BETTING ODDS: Bovada rolls out new post-Super Bowl betting odds on who'll win next year's SB 51, and Patriots are on top at 15-2, followed by Steelers and champion Broncos both 9-1 and Panthers, Packers and Seahawks all 10-1. After the Pats in the AFC East are the Bills and Jets both at 50-1. The Dolphins? Tied for third from the bottom overall at 66-1, ahead of only the Titans and Browns.

"HOLD ME CLOSER, BERNIE SANDERS": That's the title of a new Bernie Sanders tribute parody song, to the tune of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." Includes lyrics. Clever. Pretty funny. Will be interesting to see if Feel The Bern OKs this to play during his campaign:


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

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November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, all! A holiday column especially for this world and these times; plus NFL Bird Day predictions & more


1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Happy Thanksgiving, all! 2) I
The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins' bonehead move on Hutton, best-of-unbeatens poll, Dolphins' All-50ers, Heat jersey faux pas, NFL Week 11 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, SOPY standings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.


Happytg          Is it harder to be thankful these days? Because of the way the world has turned? Because so many terrible headlines and sound bites and images from all over make us equal parts angry, depressed or anxious about the future? For those very reasons maybe our gratefulness is more important than ever on Thanksgiving Day 2015.

          We express appreciation on this day for the health and happiness of loved ones or for the bounty of food laid out before us. Give thanks this year for hope, too, and for faith in better days. Give thanks that our fundamental belief in the prevailing good of mankind may be shaken and tested but will not be taken from us. Not ever.

          Give thanks for all of the little stuff that make up the rhythm and pulse of our lives, the things too easily taken for granted. Because the bigger the problems in the world, the more we need that reassurance of the small delights in our own backyard.

          The unexpected courtesy of a door held open and a stranger bidding you good morning.

          The jumble of loving noise in your crowded house as the turkey roasts and a dozen people all talk at once in a quilt of conversations.

          The uncontrollable wag of your dog’s tail when you return home.

          Give thanks for the friend who beat cancer this year. And for the one who didn’t.

          Hug somebody. And if you aren’t a hugger, well … become one.

          Teach your kids that “please,” “thank you” and “I love you” are words that, said enough, have the power to illuminate darkness.

          Marvel that a lump of raw dough blooms into a crescent roll in 12 minutes.

          Notice the way a toddler doesn’t sit on a chair as much as climb up onto it.

          Don’t be too jaded to enjoy all of those cute-baby and funny-animal videos people post on Facebook that your wife constantly shows you as you pretend to roll your eyes.

          Don’t sweat the small stuff — appreciate it.

          Sports in particular challenge our thankfulness because complaint is the currency of most fans. The very nature of sports trades in disappointment more than joy. Doesn’t every NFL season end with one team happy and 31 others something less?

          We’re no different in South Florida, where complaint always seems to gain a higher volume than gratitude. Look around, though. After all, Thanksgiving’s greatest gift to us is not a full belly, but rather an excuse to reboot our optimism.

          The other day Don Shula, flanked by Bob Griese and Dan Marino, was honored during a Dolphins game, the trio representing a 33-year continuum of making Miami nothing but proud. Dolfans frustrated by the present at least can dip into that constant well of what was, the perfect well of cool spring water.

          Give thanks for one of the most exciting minutes in sports: when the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton steps into a batter’s box.

          Give thanks for those five Hurricanes national football championships in a 19-year span more than you bemoan the lack of a sixth. (And how about Jim Larrañaga shepherding a renaissance for Canes basketball!)

          Give thanks for the Heat’s young slam-dunking, shot-blocking savant, Hassan Whiteside, and for all of his promise. And to Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade, for all of their promises kept.

          Marvel that we luck to have two of their sport’s future Hall of Famers — the Panthers’ Jaromir Jagr and Marlins’ Ichiro — end their splendid careers here.

          Appreciate that every year the world’s greatest golfers come to Doral, the greatest tennis players nest on Key Biscayne, the best thoroughbreds race in Hallandale and the greatest NASCAR drivers run at Homestead.

          Be thankful that, though there no longer is an Orange Bowl stadium, the annual Orange Bowl game remains a vibrant tradition that this New Year’s Eve will host a College Football Playoff semifinal game.

          Thanks that old sporting legends like Shula, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Gardnar Mulloy and Howard Schnellenberger are still gracefully among us.

          And gratitude, finally — of course — to you readers of all kinds, but especially to those steadfast old-schoolers out there who still enjoy the soft rattle of a newspaper in their hands.

          The crazier the world may get, the more we are challenged to see the good in it — but that is a challenge we must forever accept.

          I hope the best in your world, like the best in mine, starts with the loved ones around your table on this special day.

          Happy Thanksgiving, all!

BIRD DAY NFL PICKS: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY: The end of bye weeks coinciding with the arrival of Thanksgiving always signals the unofficial start of the stretch run to an NFL season, the time when Fripixplayoff permutations loom into view. That all begins today with Week 12 and the 10th season of Bird Day tripleheaders. At my house, the timeline of football coincides perfectly with our holiday. The early game finds the bird roasting in the oven. The middle game finds us seated and saying grace. And the late game finds me dozing from an overdose of turkey-induced Tryptophan and Miller Lite. Today's theme must be Home For the Holiday, because I like all three home teams, meaning a first loss for Carolina. Click on Thanksgiving Day Gems for the full prediction capsules on all three of today's games.

Poll result: Warriors' perfect start trumps NFL's 2 unbeatens: We asked which of the three major unbeaten teams impresses you most, and it was Golden State Warriors 53.2 percent, Carolina Panthers 26.9% and New England Patriots 19.9%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 11, 2015

The new 'Back In My Day' (coffee) video; plus latest Dolphins All-50'ers, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, Missouri Tigers' biggest win, SOPY standings, thank-you veterans & more


1aaamerflag1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11. Happy Veterans Day and thanks to all who have served, past and present. In case you missed it, click on The Real America's Team for my recent column on the Wounded Warriors Amputee Football Team, which played a team of former Dolphins and local NFL Alumni in flag-football last night at Flanagan High. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed at Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Fins are marking their 50th anniversary by revealing their Top 50 all-time players five at a time in random order. The latest five: Glenn Blackwood, Vern Den Herder, Keith Jackson, Jim Jensen and John Offerdahl. Den Herder and Offerdahl are no-brainers. Glad to see Jensen make it. Blackwood is borderline but I'm OK with it. Surprised by inclusion of Jackson.

The new 'Back In My Day': "Get back to a regular cup of coffee, America!": Click here for the video. Enjoy!

Mizzou: The power of sports when sports has a conscience: Click on Missouri's Biggest Win for today's latest column by me, on how Missouri Tigers football players threatening to boycott games helped topple a university president seen as soft on a racist campus culture.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 9: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams: Pix: One big hit amid overall struggle: We went 7-6 overall and 7-6 against the spread. Had a big hit, 1aacote2 Lobosnailing Colts over Broncos with our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!") and also had Niners-with-points over Falcons, but not enough else went our way. Greg's Lobos / family league: Heartache: Mauled by Bears! Thought I had a win comfortably in hand but lost 133-132 when my opponent got 45 combined points Monday night from Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. Despite 32 from Drew Brees the original Lobos fell to 4-5 and are now one game off playoff pace. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Heartache II: The LeBatard Show Lobos fell to Charlie 114.5 to 114.1 when Philip Rivers failed us Monday night by one agonizing point. We finished our regular season 5-4 and enter next week's playoffs as the No. 3 seed facing No. 6 seed Billy in the first round. MVL was Devonta Freeman with a hollow 21.9 points. Next week will be a real challenge because we've been BBBB -- "Bitten By the Bye Bug."

SOPY: A 3-WAY FIGHT DOWN THE STRETCH FOR 'STATE HEISMAN': The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- is heading down the stretch run in a three-way Sopyfight at this point. However, current (narrow) leader Alex McGough has one fewer game remaining than either challenger now tied for second place. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 11:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W10        Season

1 (1)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         179        1,506.5

2 (3)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             204        1,494

2 (2)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   191         1,494

4 (4)         Alex Gardner, FIU-rb              95         1,152

5 (5)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          152        1,083.5

6 (6)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       78           955

7 (9)          Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          131         916

8 (7)         Everett Golson, FSU-qb          DNP       863.5

9 (--)         Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      116.5      817 

10 (10)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       53         803

Bubble: Will Grier, Florida-qb, 789. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 713. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 287 (Wk6). Note: FIU and UCF have played 10 games each; all others nine.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida (8-1); 2. Florida State (7-2); 3. Miami (6-3); 4. South Florida (5-4); 5. FIU (5-5); 6. FAU (2-7); 7. UCF (0-10).

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 02, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 82.7%; plus UM's (controversial) last-play miracle beats Duke; also, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), message from Society Against Fraudulent Pumpkins & more


1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2. Happy new month! Hope y'all had a safe and fun Halloween. 2) I
The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed by Pats with DSM poll, NFL Week 8 predix, Marlins and Mattingly, Heat begin, FAU's letter for Howard & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

On Loria hiring Mattingly: Click on Trusting The Hire for my latest Sunday column, on Marlins hiring Don Mattingly as their new manager -- which is being formally announced this morning. It seems like a good move. But, with Marlins, everything must be seen through the Loria Lens, which is sort of the opposite of rose-colored.

Hot Button Top 10: Scroll down to find our latest HB10 toward the bottom of this blogpost.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: 82.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 82.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and Csm"somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday night's 30-27 victory at Duke putting UM's season record at 5-3 overall and 2-2  in the ACC. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.

Interpreting the latest results: An 82.7 percent approval, second-highest of the year, seems steep but reflects the euphoria of a wild, last-second, miracle kick-return TD to beat Clemson -- a play appreciated no less by Canes fans because it is controversial, with the ACC suspending the officiating crew. I think the high number also reflects most UM fans feeling good about the coaching change.

2015 CSM Results

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

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

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

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Next poll: Nov. 7 (following game vs. Virginia)

G8: HURRICANES 30, @ NO. 22 DUKE 27: MIRACLE WIN ENDS EMOTIONAL WEEK, BEGINS POST-GOLDEN ERA: Final thoughts: At least nine Canes touched the ball on a desperate, lateral-filled, miracle kickoff-return touchdown for a last-second 30-27 Miami victory -- a final-play that withstood an Miracleexcruciatingly long review by the officials. When anybody, anytime, compiles a list of most memorable plays in this program's history, this one will qualify. Wow. Shout-out to Artie Burns for the emotional fuel, playing so soon after the death of his mom. And to QB Malik Rosier, for a stout performance subbing for injured Brad Kaaya. And to interim-coach Larry Scott, miracle-winning his first game since the firing of Al Golden. This will get lost in the crazy win -- a win that keeps UM alive, however remotely, for the ACC Coastal Division crown -- but Miami somehow prevailed despite 23 penalties for 194 yards. Those are ridonkulous totals. That's lawlessness, an egregious lack of discipline. Nevertheless: Miracle win! Maybe it was for Al Golden. Maybe it was for Artie Burns. Maybe it was plain luck and maybe it wasn't. Whatever. Enjoy. ..... Halftime thoughts: QB Malik Rosier has been very good. The defense has been very good. And never underestimate the power of emotion, apparently. ..... Note: I'll be providing live score updates but not a live running commentary. However I'll be back with halftime and postgame observations. ..... Original post: After the week the Canes have had, this game had to be on Halloween night, right? Saturday's 7 p.m. roadie brings us full circle on one of the most tumultuous weeks in UM football history. Started with the stunning 58-0 home loss to Clemson that got Al Golden fired (and replaced Canesdukeby interim guy Larry Scott). QB Brad Kaaya's  concussion in that game will sideline him vs. CanespumpkinDuke. Canes also mourned for cornerback Artie Burns, whose mom died. A different UM player was arrested for domestic violence and suspended. Just a miserable week. A benevolent football god might give 4-3 UM the salve of an upset win here, but it doesn't seem likely against a 6-1, No. 22-ranked Duke squad that has won four in a row and is fighting for the ACC Coastal division crown that once was Miami's goal. Burns has said he plans to play despite his mother's passing, but I'm not sure that emotional lift will be enough. Kaaya's absence is huge. His backup, redshirt-freshman Malik Rosier, has struggled in limited action this season and looked lost vs. Clemson last week after replacing Kaaya. The betting line catapulted from 7 points favoring the Blue Devils to 13 as it became evident Kaaya would not play. Duke might also find itself emotionally drained, coming off last week's 45-43, four-overtime win at Virginia Tech. Miami has dominated this series, leading 10-2 including a 22-10 win last year, but this is a different, better Duke. With Kaaya augmenting the week's emotion, I'd have toyed with an outright upset. With Rosier, I just can't see it. My pick: Duke, 27-16.

Other college Week 9 state FBS games (in chronology; all Saturday):

No. 17 Florida State 45, Syracuse 21: No Dalvin Cook? No Everett Golson? No worries. 'Noles now 7-1 and still fighting to reach ACC title game. Cook should be healthy and back for the big Clemson game next week. Golson should be ready, too -- although the starting QB job may be Sean Maguire's now.

Cincinnati 52, UCF 7: No wonder coach George O'Leary resigned. The now 0-9 Knights might be the worst team in the country.

Navy 29, South Florida 17: Bulls drop to 4-4, see bowl hopes take broadside hit from a Navy ship.

No. 11 Florida 27, Georgia 3: World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party found Gators a scant 2-point fave but running away with it. Impressive. UF maintains hopes of reaching SEC title game. With rumors Georgia and coach Mark Richt might party ways after season, any Canes fans interested in Richt as Golden's possible eventual UM replacement was rooting for exactly what happened.

FAU 31, FIU 17: Told you a home FAU upset would not surprise in the Shula Bowl, and I was right. Owls now 2-6 in a lost season but this is a big blow to FIU's bowl hopes, at 4-5 now.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 1): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive 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. HURRICANES: Al Golden firing to The Miracle at Duke in a wild, emotional week for UM: Embattled, unpopular coach Al Golden is fired after an unfathomable 58-0 home loss to Clemson. A concussion sidelines quarterback Brad Kaaya. A player’s mother dies. Another player is arrested and suspended. The poor Hurricanes, making so much news for so many sad reasons. Then, that last-play, eight-lateral miracle Saturday night and a 30-27 win at Duke. There is a football god. And, oh, by the way: Canes fans don't care if you or the ACC think it shouldn't have counted.

2. DOLPHINS: Loss at Patriots, Wake injury bring Fins back to Earth: Thud! That was the Dolphins falling back down to reality Thursday night, in New England, after back-to-back rousing wins had made an instant hero of their interim coach. And now sack-man Cameron Wake is lost for the season. On the bright side? Good seats at reduced rates are newly available on the Dan Campbell Bandwagon.

3. HEAT: Miami wins opener, but LeBron delivers reality check: Thud II! An impressive season-opening Heat home win and a big rally to beat Houston sandwiched a Friday night reminder from LeBron James and Cleveland of who’s still boss, at least for now, in the Eastern Conference. Miami’s one-man Swat Team, Hassan Whiteside, had six blocked shots in that game. (“One-man Swat Team.” That’s mine. Patent pending.) 

4. MARLINS: Fish introduce Don Don Mattingly as new manager: Former Yankees great Don Mattingly, who managed the Dodgers the past five years, is being introduced this morning as Miami’s new skipper. Which, given owner Jeffrey Loria’s track record, makes “Donnie Baseball” the Marlins’ latest future ex-manager. Not sure of the odds on how long he’ll last, but Loria’s impatience usually makes the “under” a safe bet.

5. BASEBALL: Royals win World Series 4-1 over Mets: Kansas City beat New York again last night to silence the ballpark in Flushing, N.Y. and clinch the Royals' championship since 1985. KC catcher Salvador Perez was named World Series MVP. That means he has earned baseball's most coveted title: Mr. Early-November!

6. PANTHERS: New and improved or same ol'? Still deciding...: After a strong start Florida has lost five of its past seven games entering a three-game road trip starting Wednesday. Cats are supposed to be better. Playoff-good. Let them prove it, OK?
7. UM HOOPS: "Soft opening" this week for Canes men: Jim Larranaga's guys host an exhibition game vs. Dowling this Wednesday night as they prepare to open the season Nov. 13. Free tickets to anybody who knows who or what "Dowling" is.

8. NASCAR: Gordon headed to storybook finish at Homestead?: As the Nov. 22 NASCAR season finale at Homestead looms, Jeff Gordon -- who is retiring after this season -- on Sunday earned one of four spots to win the season title. Can you say storybook ending? 

9. SHULA BOWL: FAU upsets visiting FIU in annual rivalry: FIU's hopes for a bowl invitation took a big hit in an upset loss at visiting FAU. I know you don't care, but I give a hoot.

10. HORSE RACING: Triple Crown champ Pharoah wins, retires: American Pharoah capped a magical season Saturday by winning the Breeders' Cup by 6 1/2 lengths, and then retiring. Pharoah reportedly will retire to Century Village and beat all the other retired horses in bingo.

Missing the cut: First College Football Playoff ranking due out Tuesday ... Gregg Popovich to replace Mike Krzyzewski as U.S. basketball coach. ... Major League Soccer playoffs ... Abby Wambach retires from U.S. women's soccer team ... Miami FC to play at FIU ... R.I.P., Flip Saunders. Second-greatest Flip after Wilson?

AN URGENT PLEA: STOP THE SCOURGE OF FAKE HALLOWEEN PUMPKINS!: We've all seen them. Your neighbor may have one. It's a beautifully carved pumpkin ... except it isn't. He didn't carve it. It isn't even a pumpkin! It's a machine "carved" fake, a fraudulent non-pumpkin probably made of plastic or, Fakesmore likely, some sort of a Styrofoam-ish conglomeration. The fake pumpkin is un-American, a national scourge, 
and must be stopped. The fakes, as seen at left, may be good enough for the shelves of Walmart or Target, but they are not good enough for the U.S.A., dammit. Reject the very idea. Respect Mother Earth. Buy a real pumpkin, grab a knife or two, get creative, carve it yourself and feel great. And when you run across a fraudulent non-pumpkin, do not be afraid to tell the lazy, corner-cutting homeowner -- but politely! -- that you wouldn't put a fake pumpkin out front any more than you'd serve a beautifully painted papier-mache turkey on Thanksgiving. Thanks for listening. I'm Greg Cote, founder, Society Against Fraudulent Pumpkins (SAFP).

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

Twitter @gregcote