October 17, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 79.7%. Huge spike in DSM approval after upset in Atlanta; plus Fins stun Falcons 20-17 with rally as offense, defense come alive; also, see who's No. 1 and what falls where in latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 16. Know any people who are serious Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes' 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech with CSM poll, other state Collball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column on Canes' huge win over Georgia TechClick Minor Miracle Bails Out Richt's Gamble for my column from Saturday's 25-24 UM triumph keeping The U unbeaten. Also, voting continues in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll, both in the blogpost directly below and here.

Vote in DSM poll online, too: Click here.

DOLPHINS RALLY, STUN FALCONS IN ATLANTA, 20-17: The Dolphins' huge second half Sunday in Atlanta beats the Falcons 20-17 to complete an exhilarating weekend of football for South Florida fans, after the Hurricanes beat Georgia Tech 25-24 the day before. What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit Sunday. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler. I'd predicted that Miami would lose narrowly (I said 27-23) but with an effort that would see a wakeup by the offense and be encouraging to fans. Now let's see how encouraged fans really are with the latest DSM poll. Vote now.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 79.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 79.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-17 upset victory at the Atlanta Falcons putting Miami's season record at 3-2. That's a huge spike from three straight weeks in single digits. 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 was around 6:30 a.m. today/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)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
Next poll: Oct. 22 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets)

G5: DOLPHINS AT ATLANTA: SEE ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR MIAMI, EVEN IN DEFEAT: Final thoughts: What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler ..... 4Q: Jones interception inside final minute denies Atlanta tying FG try, seals 20-17 upset, comeback win for Miami! ... Fins take first lead 20-17 on Parkey 38-yard FG with just over 2 minutes left in regulation ... MIA ties it 17-17 on Parkey 49-yard FG after big 4th-down gamble and conversion ... Momentum is all Miami's right now. Fins with ball near midfield after muffed Falcons punt play ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-14 on Cutler-Landry 7-yard TD pass after roughing penalty negates Cutler scrimmage-line interception ... Pouncey out under concussion protocol. Cannot keep that man on the damned field! ... Gase sticks with Cutler and it pays off. MIA with 17-7 on his 11-yard scoring pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: How much longer will Gase's support for Cutler continue? QB is 8-for-14 for 64 yards and a pick (39.0 rating) in half as offensive woes go on. Ajayi (11 carries, 71 yards) the lone bright spot. Not even the defense (233 yards allowed) is playing great. If Cutler cannot lead this offense to the end zone, why not try Moore? ..... 2Q: ATL misses 59-yard FG to end half ... Miami driving to finally score (seemingly), but Cutler picked off at Atlanta 10. Ugh ... ATL 17-0 on Coleman 6-yard scoring run. My forecast of a close game and an encouraging Dolphins effort not coming true -- so far. Still early ... It failed, but totally agree with MIA going for it on 4th-and-3 from ATL 39 ..... Ajayi  1Q: Ajayi 51 rush yards on five carries the 1Q bright spot for MIA ... Ryan 40-yard scoring strike to hall and 10-0 Falcs lead ... ATL 3-0 on opening-drive 50-yard FG ..... Pregame: Final betting line at Falcons by 14. Wow. The 2-2 Dolphins being treated like 0-4 out of Vegas ... WR Parker notable among inactives today, a hinderance to MIA upset chances ..... Original post: Miami rarely finds itself the week's biggest NFL underdog -- that's why the Browns and Jets were invented! -- but it does this week, by 11 1/2 points, and, alas, with fair reason. The 3-1 Atlanta Falcons are coming off a bye week and Miaatlexpect to have two key players, receiver Julio Jones and sackman Vic Beasley, back from injury. The 2-2 Miami Dolphins are coming off a week in which the two biggest topics of distracting conversation (not necessarily in this
G5order) were Jay Cutler's tepid, barely scoring offense, and the assistant coach forced to resign in shame over a cocaine/stripper scandal. Still, I like Miami with the points in this 1 p.m. CBS tilt and give the Fins a medium shot at an outright upset, believe it or not. Atlanta is not invincible; it lost its last game at home to Buffalo, 23-17. Falcons' defense is good but not great; Miami's may be better. Jay Ajayi should find the running easier than Devonta Freeman will. I cannot bring myself to predict what might be the league's biggest upset of Week 6. But I do foresee a performance that may encourage Dolfans, even in defeat. Have you ever experienced a 2-2 start enveloped in such gloom? Miami will gradually find itself offensively, and there should be signs here. And I believe this team has the coaching, leadership and lockerroom mettle to not only overcome this week's Snortgate scandal, but maybe even to use it as coalescing fuel. Let's see if I'm anywhere close right. My pick: Falcons, 27-23. [Click on Week 6 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

THE LIST: DOLPHINS SLOW STARTS OFFENSIVELY: Fewest points scored in Dolphins' first four games of a season:

Points    Year        Starting QB / Coach

32          2004       Feeley (3), Fiedler (1) / Wannstedt

41          2017       Cutler / Gase

42          1967       Griese (2), Norton (2) / Wilson

50          1988       Marino / Shula

51          2006       Culpepper / Saban

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: UM 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech for ACC lead: Finally beating Florida State last week was bigger for The U symbolically. But beating Georgia Tech 25-24 Saturday was bigger tangibly, as the No. 11 Canes -- now No. 8 -- earned sole possession of the ACC Coastal lead. The road to all the way “Back” starts there. 

2. HEAT: It's Opening Week for Miami, NBA: The meaningless six-game exhibition schedule is done, now Miami opens its regular season Wednesday in Orlando, then has its home opener in six days, Saturday vs. Indiana. Soon we see if last season's 30-11 second half was a harbinger or a mirage. 

3. DOLPHINS: Fins shed off-field, on-field woes with huge win in Atlanta: The second-worst four-game scoring start in Dolphins history. An assistant coach resigned in a cocaine/stripper scandal. It all went away Sunday in Dolphins' big 20-17 comeback win in Atlanta, the NFL upset of the week -- and maybe of the season.

4. SOCCER: Shocker! Embarrassed U.S. men fail to make World Cup: Team USA failed to qualify for men's World Cup for first time since 1986, thanks to humiliating, eliminating 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago that saw coach Bruce Arena resign in shame. Guys, can't you just be half as good as the U.S. women?

5. BASEBALL: AL, NL championship series underway: MLB's final four includes the team that just won (Cubs), the team that wins the most (Yankees) and the team that spends the most (Dodgers). Your process-of-elimination independent rooting interest if you like a true underdog? Houston Astros, who've never won it all dating to 1962 Colt .45s.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Four more Top 10 teams lose: You know what that means, right Miami Hurricanes fans? UM rising from No. 11 to 8th in the new polls.

7. PANTHERS: Cats underway, name new alt-governor: The Panthers, 2-2 through four games with an encouraging 16 goals scored, named retired Army general Raymond Odierno as chairman and alternate governor. Cannot confirm he has ordered strategic bombing of select Eastern Conference opponents.

8. NFL: Anthem/kneeling hot topic at owners meetings: Fall owners meetings in New York this week will center on polarizing issue of players using NFL platform to protest social injustice during national anthem. Solution expected? None whatsoever!

9. MARLINS: Jeter imprint begins to show: This is Derek Jeter's first significant, major hire as the guy running the Marlins. Period. Gary Denbo, 56, his mentor from the Yankees, will oversee the Fish player development and scouting departments, a crucial job for a club with cupboards bare.

10. TENNIS: Sharapova wins first post-ban title: Maria Sharapova won the Tianjin Open, her first women's title since May 2105 following a doping ban. Yes, evidently a minor title in China counts.

Missing the HB10 cut: Miami Hurricanes' men's basketball preparation underway for the Nov. 10 season opener as national FBI probe of recruiting in the sport continues. Here's hoping the season doesn't arrive with a cloud attached  ..... Newly freed O.J. Simpson is out and about in Las Vegas, boozing, schmoozing, playing golf, posing for photos, shamelessly pushing memorabilia and allegedly staging fake altercations with paparazzi to then sell to TMZ. Welcome back. O.J! Missed ya!!

Select recent columns: Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season (Dolphins' Snortgate). It Isn't Just Cutler (Dolphins' offense woes). Back On Track & Ready To Roar (Florida Panthers). Here's What I Find Funny, Cam (Cam Newton). Jeter Betting On Jeter (Marlins)Also: Hope 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. Stanton Chasing 1984Specials: 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

October 03, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.8%. Rock bottom!; plus tragedy in Vegas, Saints crush Miami 20-0 in London, Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Stanton stays at 59 (with column) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 2. Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite the last two weeks' performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whip Duke with CSM poll, other Collball Week 5, NFL Week 4 pix, your Trump vs. NFL verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MADNESS CONTINUES WITH MASS SHOOTING IN VEGAS: Was it terrorism? I'm not even sure how to define the word anymore. It was not the type associated with radical Islamic extremists; so, do we call it domestic terrorism? Or was it just a deranged lunatic who had no business being in possession of a military-grade automatic weapon? More than 50 are dead and more than 200 wounded at a country music concert on the Vegas strip at the hands of one coward on a balcony. The worst shooting in U.S. history. I'm sure the well-meant "Prayers For Vegas" sentiments are already all over social media. Not enough. Who has an answer to the madness attacking civilization by degrees? OK now back to sports! Christ almighty.   

Latest column: For Giancarlo Stanton, hope last night wasn't goodbye: He struck out in the ninth to end at 59 home runs. Standing ovation. Curtain call. Doffed cap in thanks. Or was that a farewell gesture? Click on Hope That Wasn't Goodbye for my column from the game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 3.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 3.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-Dsm0 loss to New Orleans in London putting Miami's season record at 1-2. 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. You may vote here, immediately below, or also online by clicking DSM G3. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8 a.m. today/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)

Next poll: Oct. 8 (following game vs. Tennessee)

G3: SAINTS 20, DOLPHINS 0 IN LONDON: FOR MIAMI, AWFUL GOT WORSE: Postgame thoughts: You thought the performance at the Jets last week was bad? Bad got worse. Miami was awful offensively in Sunday's 20-0 loss to New Orleans in London -- pitifully so after an opening 81-yard drive that ended with a Jay Cutler end-zone interception that seemed to thoroughly deflate the team. The Fins' defense was OK, closer to pretty good than bad considering Drew Brees slices through everybody. But the offense? A punt-fest after that opening drive. Nothing happening. Miami is lucky to not be 0-3. At 1-2 the season is not lost, but will be unless offensive answers are found soon. Right now, Ryan Tannehill has never looked better to Dolphins fans ..... 4Q; Sack by Wake. Sadly, might be highlight of game for Miami ... Saints 45-yard FG for 13-0 lead. Dolphins offense today making that seem insurmountable ..... 3Q: Fins are inept offensively right now, but give Saints credit. Much better than in past years on D ... Saints 10-0 on Brees 3-yard screen to Thomas. Only in this game, against this Miami offense, does 10-nil feel like a big lead ... Saints on 4th and 1 get the 1st by at least a full millimeter ..... Halftime thoughts: Ugh. Ugly. Do not mistake this soccer-like 3-0 score for great defense. Mostly it has been inept offenses, a rhythm-less game full of penalties, punts and miscues -- the worst an end-zone pick by Cutler that really seemed to deflate Miami. To say that Brits are not seeing the best of American football is to massively understate the awfulness of this game so far. Miami has three punts and six penalties. What is wrong with Miami's offense!? ..... 2Q: Saints 3-0 on 43-yard FG on half's final play ... Penalties killing Fins ... Saints miss 42-yard FG try. So still 0-0. Common in EPL soccer. In NFL, not so much ..... 1Q: With CB Maxwell inactive (hamstring), Brees really picking on rookie Tankersley ... Cutler throws end-zone interception to instantly snuff promising opening drive. Awful choice by him. Demoralizing end to opening drive that took half the quarter ... Unsurprisingly, clearly a pro-Dolphins crowd ..... Original postTally ho and cheerio and all that stuff we think Brits say but they really don't. Ready for a lil' Breakfast at Wembley? Miami and N'Awlins go at it at 9:30 this morning in the U.S. East in what is (ludicrously) a home game Mialondonfor Miami. How good the Dolphins are — whether they’re any good — was cast in serious doubt with that display of public flatulence at the Jets last week, so this is a true test. I do not believe (yet) that Miami is that bad. But I also do not believe that Sunday’s matchup with the Saints is a particularly favorable one that will be an instant cure. Main reason: Drew Brees, even pushing 39, is still really, really good, while Miami’s pass defense really, really isn’t. At least thus far. And that includes failings underneath due to thin linebacking, even with the return from AWOL suspension of Lawrence Timmons, who undoubtedly still would be in the penalty box if the Jets loss didn’t turn things so dire. N’Awlins' defense of course is famously bad, so Fins have an upset shot if the Double Jays, Cutler and Ajayi (running on a babied knee), are appreciably better than they were last week. Londoners could be in for a bloody shootout! Bottom line, though? Dolphins pass defense made Josh McCown look like a superstar last week. Now here comes Brees. Uh oh. My pick: Saints, 27-23. [Click on Week 4 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

Dolfact: History, almost: With the Dolphins' scheduled home opener postponed by Hurricane Irma until Week 11 and the second "home" game taking place in London, Miami's actual first home game of the regular season -- next Sunday Oct. 8 vs. Tennessee -- will be the second-latest on the calendar in the club's 52 seasons. The only later home debut was Oct. 11, 1987, a season that saw Week 3 canceled by a players strike and three consecutive Dolphins road games.

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

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Stanton chases history to season's end: Marlins ownership change is official effective today, but the weekend spotlight belonged to Giancarlo Stanton as he chased baseball history. At 59 homers entering Sunday, he had one game left to reach 60 or even the PED-untainted record of 61 and be King Clean. He fell short, staying at 59. Let's hope he'll be back.
 
2. DOLPHINS: London falling. Hard. Fins blow, again: It was a home game 4,500 miles from home as Dolphins took on Saints as slight underdogs Sunday morning at Wembley Stadium -- and got clobbered 20-0. We thought Fins could not possibly be as awful as they were last week. But oh we were wrong!
 
3. HURRICANES: UM gets big win at Duke in ACC opener: Mark Richt's guys sailed 31-6 in Durham Friday night behind big defense and three TDs from Malik Rosier, and now No. 14 UM is 3-0 and it prepares to face rival Florida State in Tallahassee. And what seemed impossible five weeks ago is true: The Canes will be favored.
 
4. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes men's program part of FBI probe: FBI investigation of corruption in men's college basketball recruiting already has toppled Louisville's Rick Pitino in what could be seismic scandal, and UM has acknowledged a member of its staff is implicated. Football team a nice diversion, but high anxiety in the Gables.
 
5. HEAT: Wade makes nice, Heat open preseason: You know NBA season is getting close when the fake games begin! On a week when Dwyane Wade, now of Cleveland, made nice by saying he wants to end his career in a Heat jersey, Miami opened its six-game preseason here by beating Atlanta Sunday. Oh, and Heat are now mobile-only on ticket entry, so you, Luddite, better go buy a smartphone.

6. PANTHERS: Cats wrap exhibitions, await regular season: Panthers ended their preseason with a promising 4-2 mark and now await regular-season NHL opener in Tampa Friday, then home vs. Lightning Saturday. Last year: Big hype, no results. Now: No hype ... so we'll see.

7. BASEBALL: Wild-card games commence postseason: AL wild-card game Tuesday (Twins-Yankees) and NL Wednesday (Rockies-Diamondbacks) begin the MLB playoffs. These are like those play-in games in NCAA Tournament. Sorry, wild-carders, but you didn't really make the playoffs, now did you?

8. NFL POLITICS: Trump vs. Protest war continues: War between President Donald Trump and NFL social-justice protesters continues. Dear Trump: Fewer Tweets on NFL, more action on Puerto Rico. I mean ... just sayin'! 

9. RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Signs mega contract extension: Oklahoma City Thunder lavished Westbrook with a five-year, $205 million contract extension. Wait. Weren't max contracts around $20 mill about a minute ago? 

10. O.J. SIMPSON: Parolee heads to Florida: Our man O.J. Simpson gets out of prison on parole this week and is believed headed to South Florida to take up residence. Remember, if the glove does not fit, you must ... say welcome, Neighbor!

Missing the HB10 cut: FSU finally off the schneid, FIU and FAU both with big wins ..... Game 4 of the WNBA Finals is Sunday. Note to self: Look up who's playing.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 19, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 81.9%. See season-debut results; plus Fins beat Chargers 19-17, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), the Jay Cutler Experience (Sunday column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins season! Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 2 pix, Collball Week 3, method to Kaaya's madness & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Quick-thoughts column off 19-17 win: Click on Lucky, But Maybe That's Justice to read. 

Sunday column: Cutler's Wild Ride: Are you ready, kids? Click on Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be Dull to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 81.9%: Results are certified for the first week of our blog's 10th season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they 81.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 19-17 victory at the Los Angeles Chargers in Miami's Irma-delayed season opener. 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 was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

Next poll: Sept. 24 (following game at N.Y. Jets)

Yearly DSM Results: 2016--76.2% (following 10-6 season/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G1: DOLPHINS 19, @CHARGERS 17Final quick thoughts: The excuses were all lined up. Neat, right in a row. Hurricane Irma. A delayed opener. A quarterback new to the team. Practices moved across the country. Philip Rivers. A late distraction involving one of their own players, Lawrence Timmons, going AWOL on the eve of the game. The Miami Dolphins didn't any of those excuses. They did need some luck -- a narrowly missed 44-yard Los Angeles Chargers field goal in the last seconds -- but that seemed fitting, didn't it? The Dolphins endured a lot in the buildup to this season. Sunday? It felt like a reward. Quick takes? Trust this offense. No, 19 points isn't a lot, but all the J's showed up. New QB Jay Cutler was a sharp 24 for 33 for 23- yards and TD, a 101.8 passer rating. Jay Ajayi rushed 28 times for 122 yards. Jarvis Landry caught 13 balls for 78 yards. (Oh, and DeVante Parker was the deep threat we envisioned, and Kenny Stills caught a TD pass). This offense will percolate once everyone is comfy with it. The issue? Pass defense. Rivers sliced through Miami 31 of 39 for 331 yards and a TD. He led the game-winning late drive, but for the providence of an inexperienced kicker missing wide-right on a very makeable field goal. Bottom line? Yeah, the Dolphins were lucky to win in the end. But, after this week, it felt like this team sort of deserved that luck ..... 4Q: Dolphins win as Bolts missed last-second 44-yard FG! ... MIA 19-17 with 1:05 left on Parkey 54-yard FG ... MIA within 17-16, settling (again) for a short FG, mid-quarter ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-13 on 28-yard FG after after killer sack on 3rd down ... LAC back up 17-10 on Rivers-Gates hookup ... MIA 10-10 on Cutler 29-yard TD pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: If I told you Jay Cutler was 13-for-16, Jay Ajayi was 11-for-56 and Jarvis Landry had 8 catches, would you have imagined Miami trailing 10-3 at the half? Me neither. The big issues: Fins need to open up the offense. Second, Philip Rivers is having his way. Miami pass defense needs to be much better ..... 2Q: LAC 10-3 on Gordon 1-yard run ... LAC 3-3 on 41-yard FG ..... 1Q: Low-watt first quarter. Meaning dull ... MIA 3-0 on Parkey 30-yard FG ..... [Click on Week 2 Gems for all latest NFL picks] Thanks to Hurricane Irma, today's 4 p.m. kickoff is the latest Game 1 on the calendar that Miami will have played since 1977. It also will be the now-it-counts debut for new Dolphins QB Jay SdmiaCutler, in for injured Ryan Tannehill. Oh, and of course this will mark the Chargers’ first real game in L.A. since 1960, after 56 years in San Diego. That’s lots of wild cards tossing unusual unpredictability into the mix here. But the drama doesn't end there. Sunday morning came the news that veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons, upset over something, had G1essentially gone AWOL from the team and will not play today, Chase Allen starting in his place. That's doubly troubling. First, he's supposed to be a team leader as a major offseason addition. Second, the LB line was weak/thin to begin with. Philip Rivers' eyes must be wide as saucers, his smile just as wide. But I'm still hedging my bet with Bolts winning outright but Fins covering the bet-line as 3 1/2-point road underdogs. Miami figures to pound the ball with Jay Ajayi vs. a run-D that gave up 140 yards last week. That gives Miami a big, big upset shot. Bottom line, though, for me? Rivers is really good, and I won’t quite trust MIA's pass-stopping (or defense in general) until shown why I should. Also, think the Irma-caused time off, distraction and practice-schedule havoc will hurt and find the Fins a step slow as they work through the rust and catch up to real-season pace. The Timmons mess doesn't help. Dolphins have a load to overcome today. My pick: Chargers, 27-24.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Finally, the Fins ... and they win!: Thanks to Hurricane Irma and its after-effects the Dolphins' season opener Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers was Miami's latest Game 1 since 1977. Worth the wait? Miami needed luck of a late missed field goal to win, but after what this team had endured, that felt deserved.

 2. HURRICANES: Irma'd Canes set to resume season: We should be talking about that great Miami-Florida State game on Saturday. Except it got Irma'd. With one game at Arkansas State canceled and another at FSU postponed 'til Oct. 7, UM will finally resume its season this coming Saturday at home vs. Toledo after practicing all week in Orlando. Irma, could you be any more annoying!? Seriously.

3. MARLINS: Can Stanton still do it?: Reeling Fish have lost 16 of past 19 entering three-game home series vs. Mets starting tonight, after three hurricane-displaced "home" games in Milwaukee. (Thanks again, Irma!) But big question is if Giancarlo Stanton, stuck at 54 homers, can still rally to get to Roger Maris' steroids-free record of 61.

4. BASEBALL: Indians set mark for consecutive wins: Cleveland Indians fans haven't cheered a World Series champion since Lou Boudreau's 1948, but at least they have this. Their 22nd consecutive victory broke the MLB record of 21 set by the Chicago Cubs in 1935. Hmm. Cavaliers, now this. Is there hope yet for the Browns? Naahh!

5. PANTHERS: Cats open training camp; preseason on deck: The Cats opened their NHL training camp Friday and will play their first preseason games this Tuesday with a doubleheader in Nashville. It snuck up on us but now it's here. Hockey!

6. NASCAR: Road to Homestead has begun with playoffs: Chicagoland on Sunday hosted the first NASCAR playoff race, won by Martin Truex Jr., leading to the season finale at Homestead, with 16 drivers making it. Unfortunately, no Dale Earnhardt Jr., so no shot at a storybook finish to Junior's final season. 

7. HEAT: Miami locks up Richardson, readies for camp: While we were busy tracking hurricanes, the Heat signed guard Josh Richardson to a four-year, $42 million extension and open training camp next week. If they can bottle last season's second half, conference finals aren't out of question.

8. GATORS: Florida beats Tennessee on Hail Mary: The Gators beats Vols 26-20 when a last-second Hail Mary touchdown bomb broke a tie in Gainesville. Not sure if this'll be a great season for UF. But it was a great Saturday.

9. FIGHTING: Canelo, Golovkin in an exciting draw: We all hate ties, but last night's Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin draw in Las Vegas was about as exciting as indecision gets. Rematch. Cha-ching!  

10. FAU: Owls win first game for Lane Kiffin: FAU won at home 45-0 over Bethune-Cookman for Lane Kiffin's first win as Owls coach. Muted celebration, I hope. FBS teams that lose to bethune have to wear dunce caps for a week. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Two brothers featured in the Netflix series "Last Chance U" were charged in connection with a fatal stabbing. Pardon me while I try to feign surprise ..... Floyd Mayweather said of Donald Trump: "He speak like a real man." Mayweather? He speak like a real man intent on dropping the second 's' off the word 'speaks' ..... Adrian Peterson said of his Saints debut, "I didn't sign up for nine snaps." A.P. ties for the NFL lead in earliest complaint ..... Marshawn Lynch was fined for showing middle fingers to TV cameras. Or, did that go without saying?

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 9-18-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: The Marlins play a home game that's actually here!

2. Detroit at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.: Stafford vs. Manning on Monday Night Football.

3. Islanders at Rangers, 7 p.m.: Jonesing for hockey? It's the NHL preseason!

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 28, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Mayweather-McGregory won, but see what else lands where in our newest list; plus new Sunday column on Stanton's rising place in history, reason for optimism on Dolphins, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 28. Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mayweather-McGregor polls and results, Dolphins drop Fake Game 3, Stanton pace at 63, latest 'Back In My Day' video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Sunday column: Stanton's ascending place in history: Giancarlo Stanton's 2017 Marlins season is high and getting higher among our Top 10 greatest individual seasons in Miami sports history. See our list in my latest Sunday column. Click on Stanton Chasing 1984 to read.

Latest Dolphins column: Offense will make up for shortcomings on D: What's winning, Dolfans? Is it the optimist inside you? Or the pessimist within who always seems closer at hand? Side with optimism, I say. Here's why: This Dolphins offense will be better than the defense is bad. Click on Dolphins' Double-Jay Attack Portends Dynamic Offense to read.

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

Hotbutton1. FIGHTING: Mayweather-McGregor lives up to hype in Money win: The anticipation, the hype, the crowd in Vegas, the record setting pay-per-view audience. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor needed a heck of a show to meet expectations Saturday night. Did they deliver? Yes. Mayweather was uncommonly aggressive in scoring a 10th-round TKO, McGregor was a legit, worthy foe and I doubt many PPV buyers felt cheated.

2. MARLINS: Stanton surge lifts Fish into wild-card hunt: As Sunday wrapped three-game mini-homestand vs. Padres, Miami has climbed into playoff hunt, Giancarlo Stanton is chasing 60 homers -- with 50 now, his pace is 63 -- oh, and Jeffrey Loria is on way out. Somebody pinch me!

3. HURRICANES: Countdown 5 days to opener for Rosier, UM: Canes and newly named starting QB Malik Rosier host Bethune-Cookman this Saturday at The Rock in Week 1 of Mark Richt's second season. It's a soft opening that should be an easy win for The U. That's with all due respect to Bethune ... which isn't due much.

4. DOLPHINS: 'Dress rehearsal' loss leaves mixed signals: What to discern from Thursday's 38-31 Dolphins loss in Philly in Fake Game 3? Don't worry about Miami's Jay-Jay offense led by Cutler and Ajayi. But do worry (a lot) about that defense, especially against the pass. 

5. NFL: It's Draft Day in America!: Sunday, yesterday, was when most fantasy drafts were held nationwide, according to ESPN.com, which hosts more leagues than any other outlet. I re-thought my draft strategy after loading up last year on a kicker, defense and tight end with my first three picks.   

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FSU, Florida in marquee games as season kicks off: The two biggest Week 1 games in the country this coming Saturday will have a state flavor as No. 3 Florida State plays No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta and No. 17 Florida hosts No. 11 Michigan. Alas, bettors think the Noles and Gators both will be starting off 0-1.

7. FIU/FAU: New coaches Davis, Kiffin prepare for debuts:  FIU visits UCF on Thursday and FAU hosts Navy on Friday in the coaching debuts for the Panthers' Butch Davis and Owls' Lane Kiffin. Both are "name" coaches. Now we see if they'll also be "winning" coaches, too.

8. FELO RAMIREZ: R.I.P. to Marlins broadcasting legend: A sentimental nod to a radio icon who broadcast Marlins games from the franchise's start in 1993. He passed away at 94, and to call Ramirez the Spanish-language Vin Scully would compliment both men.

9. TENNIS: U.S. Open gets underway in New York: Roger Federer and Garbine Muguruza are betting favorites as the season's fourth and final major gets underway in new York. That's the definition of Serena Williams being out on maternity leave, by the way: "Garbine Muguruza" the favorite. 

10. YOUTH BASEBALL: Little League World Series crowns a champion: The International champion (Japan) beat the U.S. champion (Lufkin, Texas) for the grand title Sunday in Williamsport, Pa. May the best team (or the one with the best fake IDs) win.

Missing the HB10 cut: First the Heat sought Gordon Heyward in free agency only to see him sign with Boston. Then Miami inquired about trading for Kyrie Irving, but Cleveland's asking price was too high, and Celtics landed Irving, too. Or did they? Trade has hit snag over Thomas' health and, like a teenage marriage, may yet be annulled ..... Hey anybody know when that solar eclipse is happening? Say what!? Oh. How was it? ..... The 49ers' Katie Sowers has become the NFL's first openly gay coach. Given the job security of that profession, she'll also be the NFL's first openly gay coach to be fired .....  More than 1,000 turned out for a rally in support of Colin Kaepernick at NFL headquarters. Should have called it an anti alt-right rally. Would-a gotten a lot more people ..... ESPN removes announcer named Robert Lee from calling Virginia football game. Mamas, quit naming your babies after Confederate heroes.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-28-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Washington, 7:05 p.m.: Stanton (50 HRs), hot Fish play 1st of 3 at Nats.

2. U.S. Open tennis, 1 p.m.: Underway with 1st-round matches in New York.

Select other recent columns -- Stanton the Litmus Test For New Owners (Don't you dare trade him!) Double QB Quandary A Rarity (On Dolphins, Canes' shared upheaval). New Owner, New Hope (Let's party at news Loria agrees to sell to Jeter group). A Diamond, Shining (Giancarlo Stanton's great season). Immortality Calling (Jason Taylor in Hall, now who's next?). Also: Right Time, Right QuarterbackThe Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory 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

August 21, 2017

Happy Solar Eclipse Monday!: plus latest Hot Button Top10 (updated): See who's No.1 and what else makes our newest list; also, Litmus test imperative for new Marlins owners (my Sunday column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 21. R.I.P., Jerry Lewis, 91, and Dick Gregory, 84, two men with very different approaches to comedy, each a genius in his own way. 2) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami impact in Top 200 fantasy rankings, Dolphins lose Fake Game 2, my call for open Fins QB competition & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Priority for new Marlins owners should center on keeping Stanton: As Giancarlo Stanton powers through his best season with a majors-leading 45 home runs, the incoming new owners fronted by Derek Jeter should make a priority of committing to making Stanton a career-long Marlin. Click on Stanton the Litmus Test For New Owners to read.

EclipseHAPPY SOLAR ECLIPSE MONDAY!: I'm no astronomy nut (although I do proudly own and wear a T-shirt commemorating the great Pluto after its unfortunate 2006 demotion from full planet), but am looking forward to experiencing the partial solar eclipse Monday afternoon. It is projected to begin in South Florida at approximately 1:25 p.m. and end around 4:20, with the maximum eclipse seen by us at 2:58. Pictured is an illustration projecting the maximum eclipse we'll see in Greater Miami -- assuming fair weather and no cloud cover, of course. Weather will be a crapshoot. The forecast for this afternoon is partly cloudy, with widely scattered thunderstorms and a 20 percent chance of rain, so let's hope we get a good look at the eclipse. It'll be a bummer if the day is dark and overcast because of the weather. You need a sunny day for a partial solar eclipse to really stand out. Based on the illustration it seems as if the sun (weather willing) will be visible to us only as a sort of lopsided crescent grin when the eclipse is fullest. It looks to me as if we'll have around an 80 percent eclipse. Anyway, enjoy the wonder of science or the majesty of God, depending on your point of view. Either way, enjoy the marvel of a rare treat!

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins any good? Week in Philly, 'dress rehearsal' may tell: Opening win, then lopsided loss. Who are these guys? Will they be any good with Jay Cutler? Does adding veteran LB Rey Maualuga help? Best answer yet may come this Thursday night in Philly as Fins culminate a week of shared practices with Eagles because Fake Game No. 3 is traditional “dress rehearsal” where starters play a lot. So. Will the real Dolphins please stand up? 

2. MARLINS: Stanton out of the park, Samson just out: It was reported Marlins president David Samson will be out once Jeffrey Loria's sale of club to Derek Jeter group is final. Meanwhile Giancarlo Stanton -- with MLB-leading 45 homers after one Sunday -- continues to make a so-so season matter. Stanton has a chance to hit 60 unless cowardly teams start walking him.

3. HURRICANES: UM look solid as opener nears, except...: Looking like Malik Rosier or Evan Shirreffs for the starting quarterback job after Saturday's scrimmage. Season opener vs. Bethune-Cookman looms in 12 days and Canes look like ACC contenders. Well, unless you're concerned about the minor matter of an unproven QB operating behind a suspect offensive line.

4. FIGHTING: Mayweather-McGregor: Ready, set, hype!: Only five more days until unbeaten boxer Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor will be in a Vegas ring this coming Saturday. Mayweather is heavily favored, but, with both men so unlikeable and such idiots in the buildup, can we please fix this thing so they simultaneously knock each other out?

5. HEAT: Hey, more Dwyane Wade speculation!: It was reported a Wade-Heat reunion may yet happen, based on a Chicago writer writing that Wade "is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months." Would you please wake me when what might or might not happen in a few months actually happens.

6. WRESTLING: Lesnar big winner at WWE SummerSlam: Brock Lesnar won the sport's "Universal Championship" in a "Fatal 4-Way Match," defeating Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman in Brooklyn. Samoa Joe sounds a Polynesian coffee brand.

7. GOLF: U.S. women trounce Europe to win Solheim Cup: There was a South Florida flavor as Miami native Christie Kerr and especially Lexi Thompson from Coral Springs were instrumental in the U.S. routing Europe 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 to win the Solheim Cup match-play event in Des Moines, Iowa.

8. BASEBALL: Yankees, Red Sox play rubber game: Sports' greatest rivalry renewed Sunday at Fenway Park and Boston took deciding game to grow its AL East lead to five games. MLB lacks tight division races this year, so appreciate this one.

9. GYMNASTICS: National championships wrap up in Anaheim: The 54th edition of the USA Gymnastics national championships ended Sunday in Anaheim, trying to make us forget about recent scandals over the abuse of young female gymnasts.

10. KEVIN DURANT: Star says Warriors would decline White House visit: The NBA champion Warriors will decline if invited to the White House over objections to President Trump, said Durant. In an unrelated story, Trump signed an executive order abolishing the Golden State Warriors.

Missing the HB10 cut: Nick Saban ranted against media predictions, saying, "Why do we play?" Here's another question, Nick. Should a man being paid $11.1 million to coach Alabama be complaining about anything!? ..... How much longer will it continue to be news that an NFL player sits for the national anthem? That reminds me. The Smithsonian will have a new exhibit featuring Colin Kaepernick items. Will one of the items be an unemployment check? ..... They're talking about taking down the Marlins Home Run Sculpture. What, is it linked to the Confederacy? ..... LeBron James called for healing and love in the wake of the violence "in Charlottesville, North Carolina." Hey, he's a baller, not a professor of geography!

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-21-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Solar eclipse, 1:25 p.m.: We'll experience it at its fullest around 3 p.m.

2. N.Y. Giants at Cleveland, 8 p.m.: Day's only NFL exhibition game.

3. Everton at Manchester City, 3 p.m.: Interesting EPL soccer match.

4. Little League World Series, 1 p.m.: Elimination games begin.

Note: Marlins have today off.

Select other recent columns -- Double QB Quandary A Rarity (On Dolphins, Canes' shared upheaval). New Owner, New Hope (Let's party at news Loria agrees to sell to Jeter group). A Diamond, Shining (Giancarlo Stanton's great season). Immortality Calling (Jason Taylor in Hall, now who's next?). Also: Right Time, Right QuarterbackThe Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory 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

August 14, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what falls in newest ranking; plus Jeter/Marlins poll. Vote now!; also, Me Week on Highly Questionable, my Sunday column on Fins/Canes QBs, your verdict on Cutler signing, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 14. Click on Pencils for our new Back In My Day from last week's LeBatard Show. 2) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-Atlanta preseason opener, Jay Cutler poll, Fins in fantasy rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Cote on ESPN's Highly Questionable Uh oh: It's Me-Week on HIghly Questionable, according to me. I'll be in-studio on ESPN's HQ show today, Tuesday and Wednesday, in the middle of Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre. Shows airs 4:30 p.m.

Latest Sunday column: The anomaly of Dolphins, Canes' simultaneous QB upheaval: Quantifying how rare it is that the Fins and UM both are going into a season with new quarterbacks. And both can blame plain rotten luck. Click on Double QB Quandary A Rarity to read.   

JetermiaMARLINS: ON SALE OF CLUB TO JETER GROUP, GREATNESS OF STANTON: Jeffrey Loria agreeing to sell to the group fronted by Derek Jeter of course makes us wonder, "What's next?" But first ... LET'S PARTY! Click on New Owner, New Hope to read my latest column. On Stanton: Underappreciated nationally, overshadowed in his own city, the Marlins' slugger is having one of the great seasons in Miami sports history, having hit his MLB-leading 41st home run last night, one from tying Gary Sheffield's 1996 club record. My column is an unabashed appreciation. Click on A Diamond, Shining to read. Now, weigh in on what Marlins fans are talking about. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results:

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

Hotbutton1. DEREK JETER: Group fronted by 'The Captain' gets winning bid for Marlins: Jeffrey Loria has agreed to sell the Marlins for $1.2 bllion to the group led by New York venture capitalist Bruce Sherman and fronted by ex-Yankees star Derek Jeter. Will they be great owners? That's for later. For now, that they're not Loria is good enough. 

2. DOLPHINS: Ready or not, here comes Cutler!: Fins won preseason opener without him, and now host Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night with new QB Jay Cutler expected to start in first game action as a Dolphin. He's 'Club's best Jay since Fiedler!' Dolfans hope they can set the bar a bit higher.

3. MARLINS: At least Stanton's worth price of admission: Fish are sinking to 14th straight year sans playoffs as six-game homestand continues, but at least Giancarlo Stanton is reason to still pay attention, with an MLB-leading 42nd home run yesterday now projecting to season total of 59. Going, going ... Gone-Carlo!

4. HURRICANES: UM marks CanesFest with QB battle still unsettled: The Hurricanes' annual CanesFest fan event was held Saturday at Hard Rock after a closed morning scrimmage. Fans, three weeks from your season opener, do you know who your starting quarterback is? If so, would you please let Mark Richt know?

5. GOLF: Thomas wins PGA as season's final major wraps up: Little-known Justin Thomas, 24, won year's fourth and last major, the PGA Championship, in Charlotte, N.C. Did you know that when The Masters, U.S. Open and British Open get together for drinks they privately make fun of the PGA?justin thomas, 24

6. HEAT: Historic foreign game scheduled: Leaked highlights of next season's NBA schedule find Heat opening Oct. 18 in Orlando, playing club's first-ever international game Dec. 9 in Mexico and hosting Cleveland just once, March 27. So now LeBron has plenty of time to plan that "rest day."

7. SOCCER: EPL leads way as international soccer league play opens: League seasons began in English Premier League and across globe. Storybook start? Top English star Wayne Rooney, 31, scoring only goal of game in his emotional return to Everton after 12 years at Manchester United.

8. WRESTLING: Downtown Miami hosts WWE event Sunday: WWE was back in South Florida with a non-televised "house show" Sunday evening at the Heat's bayside arena. It featured SmackDown performers as part of SummerSlam Heatwave Tour, whatever the hell any of that means.

9. TRACK: World championships going on. And on. And...: The IAAF track and field world championships have been going on seemingly forever in London. Dear track: We sort of like you for two weeks every four years during the Summer Olympics. Otherwise, don't push it.

10. CIVIL UNREST: White supremacists wreak havoc in Charlottesville: This would be No. 1 in overall importance, of course. My question: What genius granted a demonstration permit to a bunch of hateful, racist, neo-Nazi losers?

Missing the HB10 cut: Countdown 13 days 'til McGregor vs. Mayweather, the only fight I've ever been sick of even before it happened ..... Has Kenny Easley's Hall of Fame induction speech in Canton ended yet?

POLL RESULT: CUTLER POLARIZING, BUT MOST POSITIVE ON SIGNING: We asked, "What best reflects your opinion of the Dolphins signing of quarterback Jay Cutler?" Your answer: Very positive, 14.91 percent; Positive, 42.34%; We'll see, 23.17%; Negative, 6.52%; and Very negative, 13.05%. Broken down, that's 57.25% thumbs-up versus 19.57% thumbs-down, nearly 3-to-1 in favor, with the rest in between.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-14-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. San Francisco at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish, sizzlin' Stanton welcome Giants.

2. Highly Questionable, 4:30 p.m.: I'm cohost on ESPN. Hey my blog, my shameless plug.

3. Dolphins practice, ongoing: Readying Cutler for his Thursday preseason debut.

Select other recent columns -- Immortality Calling (with Jason Taylor in Hall, who's next?). Right Time, Right Quarterback (Dolphins should have gone with Kaepernick). Also: The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory 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

August 07, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what lands where in Miami sports as new week begins; plus Fins sign Cutler, my Sunday column on who's next for Hall of Fame, your verdicts on Dolphins/Hurricanes QB upheaval, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 7. Talked Jay Cutler and Jason Taylor on Paul Castronovo Show this morning. Always happy to be on with Paul. 2) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill injury with what-next poll, who'll-be-Canes-starting-QB poll, anniversary of me singing 'Letting Go' & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: What Miami stars are next for Hall of Fame?:  With Jason Taylor the latest member of the club, who's on deck among former or current South Florida pro-team sports stars? We explore the possibilities and odds. Click on Immortality Calling to read.

Latest Dolphins column: The case for Kaepernick: In wake of Thursday's Ryan Tannehill injury, Dolphins should consider Colin Kaepernick the best of available option. Click on Right Time, Right Quarterback for my column. 

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tannehill knee injury casts pall, Fins sign Cutler: With Saturday's scrimmage in the books and the first exhibition game only three days away, this season will start just like the last one ended: With QB Ryan Tannehill out injured indefinitely, victim of that same left knee. The question was what to do next. The answer came Sunday with the 1-year, $10 million signing of ex-Bears QB Jay Cutler. Isn't it weird: How Tannehill looks better and better to fans vs. alternatives when he isn't there?

2. JASON TAYLOR: Miami's great No. 99 enters Canton: The Dolphins' great defensive end and career sacks leader Taylor stepped into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and into immortality as one of seven Class of '17 inductees Saturday night in Canton, Ohio. Reference to his having played at AKron, I loved his "20 years to go 20 miles" theme. Well done. Just wish his longtime running mate Zach Thomas could have gone in with him.

3. MARLINS: Fish back on road, chasing consolation of .500: Marlins are in midst of a seven-game road trip following a 5-2 homestand that drew the Fish within four games of a .500 record. Hey, with a playoff spot looking pretty hopeless, you reach for the nearest consolation prize available, right?

4. HURRICANES: UM crashes Top 20 in early preseason polls: The Canes entered at No. 18 in the preseason coaches' poll, and were 16th in the initial ESPN Power Rankings. Imagine how high they might rank if they had a proven starting quarterback or knew who that person would be!?

5. DAVID BECKHAM: Miami group wins league approval: Major League Soccer owners this week authorized moving forward on David Beckham's bid, with the league expected by September to officially announce a Miami expansion team for 2020. Golden shovels, please. Better get to breakin' ground on that stadium, Becks.

6. HEAT: Projected standings have Miami seventh in East: Spoiler alert! ESPN has projected the Heat will finish seventh in the Eastern Conference this season with 42.3 wins. That's mediocre. But it will be interesting to see how Miami manages to get that one-third of a win.

7. SOCCER: Neymar switches clubs in record deal: Rising soccer superstar Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain on a record transfer fee worth $263 million U.S. For that kind of money, he better have scored a hat track on the flight to France.

8. BASEBALL: Amazing Dodgers on historic run: Los Angeles is on a .709 clip this season and on a 43-7 run, the best 50-game stretch by any MLB team since 1912. And the Dodgers just acquired an ace-level starter in Yu Darvish. Which is like Bill Gates finding money. 

9. MIAMI FC: NASL club eliminated from U.S. Open Cup: Miami FC was eliminated at home 1-0 by Cincinnati of the USL in a disappointing finish to a sterling run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Might we suggest an NASL championship as a decent consolation prize?

10. GOLF: Season's final men's major on deck: The PGA Championship, season's final major, begins this Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson the betting favorites. FORE! No, it's just those three, really.

Missing the HB10 cut: Justin Gatlin beat Usain Bolt in the 100 meters at the IAAF track & field world championships in London. In between doping bans, Gatlin is really good ..... Steph Curry shot 74 and missed the cut at a Web.com golf event. Maybe it was habit, but the king of the 3's was sinking too many 3-putt greens ..... Watched the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions last night. I think Kenny Easley is still talking. ..... Team World beat Team Africa in the annual NBA Africa Game. Geez, let the host continent win, already! ..... LaVar Ball has gone a few days without doing anything idiotic. Is he OK? ..... Heat dancer auditions on Sunday will send 40 young women on to a four-day boot camp. That seems really uncomfortable, dancing in boots ..... A softball team of 12-14 year-old girls from Mechanicsville, Va. was disqualified from a championship game for a Snapchat photo in which six girls were giving middle fingers to the team they'd just beaten. Ah, sportsmanship!

POLL RESULTS: KAEPERNICK, PERRY WIN YOUR SUPPORT FOR DOLPHINS, HURRICANES: We called it "Quarterback Quandary X2," invited your opinion, and got it in a massive response. Dolphins: We asked, "If Ryan Tannehill is out injured, who would you prefer to be the Dolphins' starting quarterback to begin the 2017 season?" And you voted Colin Kaepernick 46.5 percent, Matt Moore 32.2%, Jay Cutler 17.8% and Robert Griffin III 3.5%. Kaepernick was up to about 58% before the race narrowed, but he still won comfortably. Hurricanes: We asked, "Which quarterback do you predict will emerge as the Miami Hurricanes' starter this season?" And you voted N'Kosi Perry 54.8 percent, Malik Rosier 31.6%, Evan Shirreffs 7.1% and "s

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-7-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Washington, 7:05 p.m.: Fish 7-game road trip visits NL East-leading Nats.

2. Dolphins practice, 8:45 a.m.: Turning page at QB as preseason opener nears.

3. Track world championships, 2 p.m.: IAAF track & field worlds continue in London.

4. Big3 basketball, 8 p.m.: Old-guy hoops tour moves to Lexington, Ky.

Select other recent columns -- The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory 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

July 31, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what falls where on this week's list; plus El Clasico Miami rises to expectations (with our column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 31. Thank you, July. All-Star Game to El Clasico, you've been a month we won't forget. 2) It's Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): El Clasico goes sans Ronaldo, Dolphins 'offensive arsenal' ranked No. 3 in NFL as camp opens, Jarvis Landry named Fins' biggest star & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MY EL CLASICO COLUMN: RONALDO MISSED A HECK OF A GAME: The absence of Real Madrid star Ronaldo was glaring, unfortunate and unnecessary, but Barcelona and Real lived up to billing anyway in a scintillating 3-2 Barca win last night that filled hard Rock Stadium for the rivals' first-ever U.S. meeting. Click on He Missed a Heck Of a Game for my column from the game. Here are my three previous columns on Miami's biggest soccer week ever: Juventus, PSG Entertain As Decisions Loom (from Wednesday's match; It Began With An Accidental Infatuation (how the seed was Joe Robbie's unlikely love of soccer; and World-Sized Spectacle (perspective on magnitude of Miami hosting El Clasico).

Latest Dolphins column: Higher hopes, higher heat: Going from good to great is harder than going from mediocre to good. That is the Dolphins' challenge as 2017 training camp unfurls. I explore in my latest Fins column. Click on The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami Dolphins to read.

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

Hotbutton1. SOCCER: Barcelona 3, Real Madrid 2 caps huge soccer week in Miami: El Clasico filled Hard Rock Stadium Saturday night with scintillating soccer as futbol titans and mega-rivals Barca and Real lit it up in their historic, first-ever U.S. meeting. The big question leading up to the match? Forget “Where's Waldo?” It was "Where's Ronaldo!?" Alas, the answer: Not in Miami. Shoulda been here but guess what. Match was so great, we barely missed him.

2. DOLPHINS: Buoyant Fins aiming high as training camp unfurls: ESPN ranking of NFL “offensive arsenals” this week listed Dolphins a lofty No. 3 overall. Mediocre to-good is easy; now the pressure is building on the Fins to go good-to-great. How will they handle it? We find out together.

3. HURRICANES: QB battle center-stage as UM opens camp: As FIU stags its third fall workday of Butch Davis era today, Canes are poised for first fall practice on Tuesday as Mark Rich Year II unfurls. Hopes are high but much depends on open quarterback spot. Malik Rosier? Evan Shirreffs? Maybe true freshman N'Kosi Perry? Whomever wins, inexperience will lead UM.

4. MARLINS: Sale talks stalling at trade deadline: With closer A.J. Ramos dealt to Mets, Monday is MLB trade deadline as Fish saw four-game win streak end Sunday and continue six-game homestand. Meanwhile Jeffrey Loria's sale of club continues to not get done. Dear Jeff: You wanted what you wanted, now the market has responded. Wanna sell? Lower the price!

5. MIAMI FC: NASL club hosts U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal: NASL's Miami FC hosts USL's FCF Cincinnati Wednesday night at FIU in duel of underdogs for a spot in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Following Barca-Real, call this one El Pequeno Clasico.

6. HEAT: Miami denies offer for Irving, but...: ESPN's NBA expert Adrian Wojnarowski identified the Heat among six teams that have made offers to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. The Heat in turn publicly denied they have made an offer. Hmm. I'll side with Woj, thanks.

7. USMNT: U.S. wins Gold Cup championship: U.S. Men's National Team kept its record perfect under new coach Bruce Arena by beating Jamaica 2-1 to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship, a regional but notable international title.

8. MLB: Hall of Fame celebrates Induction Weekend in Cooperstown: Speeches came Sunday as Jeff Bagwell, Pudge Rodriguez and Tim Raines headed the Cooperstown Class of '17. Pudge and Raines played for Marlins but not long enough to go in as Fish. So they're dead to me!

9. UFC: Jon Jones makes most of comeback vs. Daniel Cormier: UFC 214 looked a good one Saturday night and saw Jones return from a one-year suspension with a third-round TKO over Cormier, with Jones reclaiming the light-heavyweight title he held from 2011-15.

10. NFL: Dire results in new study on brain injuries: A new study found a sample of 111 brains of former NFL players showed 100 with evidence of CTE injury. Asterisk: They were donated brains from families who strongly suspected their loved ones were impaired. Sort of like doing a study of cancer patients and discovering 99.9 percent had cancer.

Missing the HB10 cut: As a new lawsuit impedes his stadium progress, David Beckham heard Stephen Ross throw shade on an MLS team's likelihood of success in Miami. Beckham still hopes to field a team by the end of the decade. We need to start asking, "What decade, exactly?" ..... LaVar Ball had an AAU female referee replaced mid-game after she gave him a technical. The good news? I won my bet that LaVar could not go an entire week without embarrassing himself ..... USC said paroled O.J. Simpson would not be welcome on the sideline or at Trojans events, surprising absolutely nobody ..... Rangers' Adrian Beltre got ejected from the on-deck circle. Congrats, Adrian, for redefining how to be an idiot ..... Answer: There's a Monster Jam next weekend at the Sunrise arena. Question: What is maybe the most ridiculous motorsports event on Earth? ..... Thursday there's a $2 million prize in a 5-on-5 challenge called The Basketball Tournament. Dear organizers: How 'bout you take some of that money and buy your event an actual name ..... Answer: Ravens just signed barely known arena-league QB David Olson. Question: "Why do people keep saying Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed?" ..... There are reports a $10 million cricket franchise is coming to South Florida, surprising analysts who were unaware there were cricket franchises.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-31-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Washington at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish play 1st of 3 vs. NL East power.

2. MLB trade deadline, 4 p.m.: And then the dealin's done. 

3. Dolphins training camp, ongoing: Fins' 5th open-to-public workout in Davie.

4. FIU football practice, ongoing: Third fall workday of Butch Davis era.

Select other recent columns -- Blockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for Riley (on Kyrie Irving-to-Heat possibility). Paroled But Not Free (O.J. SImpson). Don't Hold Your Breath (LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat (Venus Williams' Wimbledon run). Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory 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

July 24, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Dolphins camp? El Clasico? Kyrie Irving? Marlins? Paradise Camp? Spieth? O.J.? See who's No. 1 and what falls where; plus our Sunday column, your Kyrie-to-Heat trade verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 24. Almost Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kyrie Irving-to-Heat trade poll, O.J.'s parole, Brady jersey tops in Florida, your LeBron/Wade-back-to-Heat verdict, The List (Marlins HRs) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Sunday column: The magnitude of El Clasico Miami: How big is it that Miami is hosting the first El Clasico --Barcelona vs. Real Madrid -- ever held in the United States? This big: It could be the biggest soccer game ever played in America, or at least the biggest since the Brazil-Italy final of the 1994 World Cup held in Pasadena, Calif. And it could be the biggest sporting event, from a global view, ever held in South Florida, exceeding even Super Bowls. Click on World-Sized Spectacle to read.

ICYMI: Our column on O.J. Simpson's parole: Simpson, now 70, was paroled and in October will be set free after serving nine years in prison for armed robbery, but he'll forever be guilty of the public's conviction he got away with murder in the '90s. Click on Paroled But Not Free to read.

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

Hotbutton1. SOCCER: El Clasico Miami headlines huge week: The annual International Champions Cup rocks Hard Rock Stadium bigger than ever with Juventus vs. Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday and then headliner Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, El Clasico, on Saturday.  Added drama decorates the week, with Ronaldo very questionable to make the trip for Real Madrid and with Barcelona star Neymar reportedly about to sign with PSG. We just hosted the MLB All-Star Game, but guess what. Worldwide, El Clasico is bigger.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins set to open full training camp: After Dolphins rookies reported last week, the full squad reports for training camp in Davie on Wednesday, with the first practice scheduled for Thursday. Team has very high hopes of making playoffs again, but Vegas' low expectations (7.5 over/under on wins) beg to differ. Somebody's dead wrong, but who?

3. HEAT: Kyrie Irving, Wade speculation keep things interesting: Heat re-signed Udonis Haslem (of course); meanwhile, amid speculation Dwyane Wade could end up back in Miami this season at a bargain rate, Cleveland all-star Irving is asking for a trade with the Heat among places he'd like to land. Cancel that vacation, Pat Riley. No such thing as an offseason. Go to work!

4. MARLINS: Fish on road as trade deadline looms: Marlins following a lousy 1-5 homestand are in midst of a six-game road trip as talks to sell the team continue and the July 31 trade deadline nears. Fish already have dealt Adeiny Hechavarria and David Phelps for prospects. No fire sale ahead (we hope), but more deals coming.

5. O.J. SIMPSON: Notorious ex-NFL star wins parole: His parole means O.J. will be out of prison in October after serving nine years for armed robbery. Of course most people continue to think he got away with double murder in the '90s, a steadfast belief from which he remains permanently ineligible for parole.

6. GOLF: Spieth wraps up British Open triumph in England: Branden Grace set a majors-record-low 62 on Saturday but it was Jordan Spieth in the ultimate with a 3-shot victory. This is the oldest major in golf. The first British Open was in 1860. I was there. I recall it being windy that day.

7. HURRICANES: ACC vote, Paradise Camp make big week for UM: Canes football held its annual Paradise Camp, a brilliant Mark Richt invention in which ex-UM stars return to mingle with recruits and Richt falls backward off a 10-meter diving board. Meanwhile ACC media members anointed UM to win the Coastal Division. Even scarier than Richt's backward dive? Facing FSU. 

8. CYCLING: Froome win as Tour de France (finally) ends: Brit Chris Froome (rhymes with zoom) won his fourth Tour de France on Sunday as cycling 's crown jewel ended along the Champs-Elysees. No PEDs, either. That we know of.

9. SOCCER: U.S. men reach Gold Cup final: U.S. beat Costa Rica 2-0 last night to reach the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Yanks will face Jamaica, surprisingly, not Mexico, for the title Wednesday night in Santa Clara, Calif. "Let's gooooo States!"  

10. POKER: New Jersey man wins WSOP main event: Scott Blumstein, 25, of Brigantine, N.J., on Sunday won the World Series of Poker final table in Las Vegas and its $8.15 million grand prize. "I can do that, too!" dreamed a million millennials, 999,999 of whom are laughably wrong.

Missing the HB10 cut: Lavar Ball pulled his Big Ballers AAU team off the court Saturday and forfeited the game after he was called for technical foul, confirming to the few remaining doubters what an ego-driven moron he truly is ..... Did I dream it or did it actually happen? Was it Michael Vick who counseled unemployed Colin Kaepernick to cut his Afro? ..... Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns in scandal related to his calls to an escort service. He claimed a "misdial." America snorted laughter and said in unison, "Yeah, right!" ..... Did you watch the WNBA All-Star Game yesterday? Yeah, me neither ..... Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor are annoying even when not speaking ..... Roger Federer hadn't won a major since 2012 and was nearing hasbeen-hood before Wimbledon last week gave him two this year. See, Tiger, there may be hope for you yet! ..... Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Pudge Rodriguez are set for baseball's Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown next week. No offense, but that's a bit low-watt on the starpower, no? ..... Feds are reviewing the endangered species status of the Florida panther, with only 230 or so thought left on earth. Even more rare: Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Finals ..... The state granted Miami's Magic City Casino permission to replace its dog races with jai-alai matches. "Damn!" said one of the greyhounds. "And just when I was finally gaining on that !@#$ing rabbit!"

POLL RESULT: VERY STRONG SUPPORT FOR PROPOSED KYRIE IRVING-TO-HEAT TRADE: We asked, "Would you want the Heat to trade Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving and Channing Frye?," a deal that would be workable based on ESPN's Trade Machine. You said: "Yes" 67.9 percent, "No" 21.5% and "Nit sure" 10.6%. (You may still vote in the previous blogpost).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-24-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Texas, 8:05 p.m.: Fish begin second leg of 6-game road trip.

2. FINA World Championships, 11:30 a.m.: Major swimming event goes on in Hungary.

3. Int'l Champions Cup, underway: Lyonaisse vs. Nanjing soccer in China.

Select other recent columns -- Don't Hold Your Breath: On chances LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat: Venus Williams' Wimbledon run. Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsVerdict to Judge, But Marlins Come Up BigHome Run Derby Is KingMiami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing ItThere Should Be A Place For IchiroThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceWhat's Next, Marlins? NFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory 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