January 23, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Show us the way, Edwin Pope, Falcons-Patriots SB, Women's March, Juan Pablo Montoya & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 23. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page, debuting today. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Remembering Edwin Pope, NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside battered in all-star voting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl!: Click on Championship Game Gems for yesterday's Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots NFC and AFC title-game picks, and on A Dramatic Final Four for my preview column.

Montoya wins historic Miami Race Of Champions: Historic? The 28th annual ROC had never before been held in the U.S. before Saturday's race in Miami, on a racetrack built inside Marlins Park. And Miami driver Juan Pablo Montoya won. Crazy, one-of-a kind day. Click on Home Run For Montoya, Miami for my column from the race.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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. EDWIN POPE: Herald sports icon dies at 88: If you are from South Florida, are aware life existed before ESPN SportsCenter or have ever held a newspaper in your hands, then you probably said or thought last week, “I grew up reading Edwin Pope.” Thank you, kind sir, friend, colleague and mentor. R.I.P. 

2. NFL: Championship Sunday gives us a Falcons-Pats Super Bowl: Atlanta walloped Green Bay and New England dispatched Pittsburgh on Sunday for the NFC and AFC titles to reach Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston. The blowout games were decided by 23- and 19-point margins. The challenge? For the Super Bowl to be better. You know, an actual good game?

3. WOMEN'S MARCH: Women lead world's biggest protest march. Ever: Estimates are more than 4 million women worldwide including more than 500,000 in Washington, D.C. marched Saturday to protest Donald Trump and stand up for the freedoms and rights. Hmm. Impressive. But can't help but wonder: If that same passion and numbers had participated in the election, would there have been a need to march?

4. MOTORSPORTS: Montoya wins Race of Champions at Marlins Park: Most different, unique sporting event in Miami history? You could do worse than nominating NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One stars racing against each other inside a baseball stadium this weekend in the ROC series' first U.S. appearance. Miami won twice as hometown driver Juan Pablo Montoya won Saturday's main event.

5. HEAT: Three straight wins in a lost season as trade deadline looms: Good news? Miami has its first three-game win streak of season. Bad news? Everything else. Record is still only 14-30 and streak is unlikely to reach four as Heat host Golden State tonight. Be honest. The most compelling things left in this lost season are the two dates for the trade deadline and draft lottery.

6. MARLINS: Fish acquire quality starting pitcher: The latest aftershock of the Jose Fernandez tragedy: Miami dealt three prospects to Cincinnati for righty starter Dan Straily, who was 14-8 in 31 starts for Reds last year.

7. BASEBALL: Two ex-Marlins elected to Hall of Fame: Pudge Rodriguez, of course, had a starring role in helping Marlins win the 2003 World Series. But count yourself a real Fish fan if you also recall that, the year before, Tim Raines ended his 23-year career as a reserve here.

8. TENNIS: Both No. 1 seeds out as Australian Open enters final week: No. 1 seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both were ousted the same day, the first time in the modern era the Australian Open has lost both No. 1s before the quarterfinals. An even bigger shock: Why wasn't Serena Williams No. 1?

9. PANTHERS: Three straight losses, but Florida still in playoff hunt: As NHL all-star break looms, Cats have cooled off with three straight losses but lurk only two points off playoff in Eastern Conference. Still, when you were talking Stanley Cup and are scrambling for an eighth seed -- that's a disappointing season.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Tough stretch for Canes men, women: Miami's No. 14-ranked women have lost three of past six. The men have dropped four of past five  after Saturday's loss at Duke. Better snap out of it fast, Team Larranaga. No. 9 North Carolina visits in five days.

Missing the HB10 cut: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich devoted seven minutes of a news conference Saturday to a pro-women's march, anti-Donald Trump soliloquy, pretty brave for a man who lives and works in Texas. It's enough to make me root for a Spurs championship just to see if he gets a White House invite, or goes ..... Former Marlins ace Josh Johnson retired at 32 from elbow issues, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago ..... Prior to Bellator 170, Chael Sonnen talked trash. Tito Ortiz made his statement in the fight ..... A 25-year-old dunce from Boston was arrested for pulling a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. Put him in a room alone with James Harrison for 20 minutes ..... Saw the headline, 'Beagle scores in OT as Capitals beat Stars,' and thought, "Wow, what a great story!" But it turned out to be a guy named Jay Beagle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Florida Panthers owner and Trump nominee for Secretary of the Army Vinnie Viola once was accused of punching a man in the face at a horse auction."

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 07, 2017

NFL Wild-Card Weekend playoffs: Predictions for Dolphins-Steelers and other games, ranking the 12 teams and King Sport season awards; plus death of Jose Fernandez voted biggest Miami sports story of 2016 with complete Top 15 results & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 7. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect celebrate-they're-back-in-the-playoffs gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's biggest sports story of 2016 poll, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, local guys who made cut for Canton & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FripixPLAYOFFS: WILD-CARD WEEKEND: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-STEELERS, OTHER 3 GAMES: Twelve teams alive, four luxuriating with byes, and eight in action
WildcardSaturday or Sunday -- including, for the first time since 2008, the Dolphins, of course. Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season. Click on Wild-Card Gems for our latest opening-round playoff picks for Dolphins-at-Steelers and others. I see an outright upset in one of the four games. I wish I could tell you it was the game at the field named after a ketchup bottle. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with our ranking of the 12 playoff teams, based on the likelihood of winning the Super Bowl. We also dole out our King Sport season awards for the league and Dolphins. Click on Playoffs And Hardware to read.

Dolphins playoffs, other select recent columns: It Isn't About Tannehill, how Fins have a chance in Pittsburgh with Moore if everything else goes right. There's A Longer Drought to End Now, off Sunday's loss as Dolphins prepare for first playoff game in eight years. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

POLL RESULT: DEATH OF FERNANDEZ VOTED BIGGEST MIAMI SPORTS STORY OF 2016: This was a major annual poll so we're giving the results the full treatment. I believe our blog has the smartest readers at MiamiHerald.com, and that y'all proved it again with these results. We asked what was the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2016, offered our 15 choices and gave you five votes. That's because I thought the top three choices were obvious (I was right) and wanted to dig deeper. Your results:

Jose161. DEATH OF JOSE FERNANDEZ -- 20.76%

2. Dolphins make playoffs to end 8-year drought -- 17.32%

3. Dwyane Wade leaves Heat -- 16.96%

4. Hurricanes football wins first bowl game in 10 years -- 8.83%

5. Chris Bosh blood clots end season, likely Heat career -- 7.34%

6. Adam Gase hired as Dolphins coach 6.77%; 7. Laremy Tunsil falls to Dolphins after draft-night bong video 4.70%; 8. Hurricanes men's basketball reaches Sweet 16 4.47%; 9. Ichiro gets 3,000th MLB hit 4.13%; 10. Renamed, refurbished Hard Rock Stadium gets 2020 Super Bowl 2.64%; 11. FAU hires Lane Kiffin 1.83%; 12. FIU hires Butch davis 1.49%; 13. Death of Kimbo Slice 1.15%; 14. Panthers fire coach one year after best regular season ever 0.92%; 15. Dee Gordon suspended 80 games for PEDs 0.69%.

Putting in perspective the percentage results from a five-choice poll: Quintuple (x5) each percentage for an indication of the frequency that choice was included in everyone's consensus top five. The maximum percentage would be 20.00 if everyone used all five vote available. The fact Fernandez's winning percentage was greater than 20 indicates many voted only for that story as biggest. In other words, that story maxed out this poll and was a clear winner. Dolphins-in-playoffs and Wade-leaving both exceeded 80 percent in overall top-five mentions, after which there was a sizable dropoff. It was a big year for Miami sports, and to the hundreds of you who voted in this poll, I thank you! In case you missed it, click A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile for my column in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 16, 2016

Dolphins-Jets, other NFL Week 15 prognostications; plus Jeffrey Loria, disrespecting Miami Hurricanes' football talent, farewell Ron Brewer, R.I.P. Craig Sager, your verdict on FIU/Davis vs. FAU/Kiffin & more

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

Finsat501) It is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16. Farewell, Ron Brewer, the droll sidekick on the Paul & Young Ron Show, retiring today after 26 years. Was pleased to briefly swing by the final show broadcast this morning from the Hard Rock Improv. 2) R.I.P., Craig Sager, 65. What a terrible year for loss. Good riddance, 2016! 3) Our new Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 (pictured) for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): FIU/Butch Davis vs. FAU/Lane Kiffin with poll, Dolphins playoff and draft prospects, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 14 results, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (25 games) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jeffrey Loria's Marlins asking price: Forbes reports (here) that Jeffrey Loria is willing to sell the Miami Marlins, but that his asking price is $1.7 billion. That would be almost triple the estimated franchise value of $675 million. Sure. And I'm willing to sell my 1988 Toyota Tercel (needs work), but the asking price is $300,000.

Select recent columns: We haven't had as many lately due to vacation. A few: The Handoff Nobody Wanted, my latest column, on Matt Moore taking over as Dolphins QB for injured Ryan Tannehill. Also: Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 15: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-JETS, REST OF NFLThe full launch of our Week 15 comes after a mixed start last night as we correctly had the Seahawks winning but mistakenly thought the Rams would cover the huge 15-point line. (Observation: Interim Rams coach John Fassel is in way over his head and looks older than his Dad). We enter the week a robust 33 games over .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald -- one of our best years ever. Click on Week 15 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other contest. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the sad Buffalo Bills topping the list of sports' longest playoff droughts. Click on Death, Taxes and No Playoffs For Buffalo.

DISRESPECTING THE MIAMI HURRICANES' FOOTBALL TALENT: The Miami Hurricanes return to the practice field today for the Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Bowl vs. West Virginia in Orlando, and the Canes are 3-point favorites despite being 8-4 to WVU's 10-2. Yet, despite that, disrespect has become a running theme with UM. It is not entirely unfounded. Recognition of Miami's talent has
Respectbeen slow coming. The evidence is building. The All-ACC football teams were a snub. Only second-team cornerback Corn Elder and punter Justin Vogel made it on the first or second teams. No first team at all. That's one defensive player honored despite Miami being among national leaders in several defensive categories. "Maybe everybody tripped on the way to the end zone when they played us," defensive coordinator Manny Diaz famously said. Coach Mark Richt Tweeted: "It is hard for me to believe that we have one of the best defenses in America and only can get one guy as a second team All-ACC performer." Next: This week came Todd McShay's astoundingly premature Mock Draft 1.0 for ESPN today. Zero Canes in it. Four (!) Florida Gators in his first round and one Florida State Seminole, but nobody from UM. Next: ESPN lists its Top 50 players competing in bowl games. Zero Canes. Two Noles, one Gators, no UM. By the way Pitt has three players on that list. Miami beat Pitt this season 51-28. Richt and Diaz have a point in making a little noise publicly about the lack of respect for some of their players. There are worse motivations to carry with you to a bowl game.

Poll result: FIU's Davis beats FAU's Kiffin for new-coach hire: We asked what school made the bigger recent football coaching hire that should be more exciting to their fans, and FIU/Butch Davis defeated FAU/Lane Kiffin, 65.5 percent to 34.5%. No surprise as we imagine Panthers fans outnumber Owls fans among our readers/voters.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 31, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 16.0%; plus new Hot Button Top 10, UM falls at Notre Dame 30-27, other state Collball Week 9; also, the Jose story that couldn't get worse, got worse (my column) & more

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

Finsat501) It is SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30. Enjoy your no-loss Sunday, Dolfans. And don't give up yet, Cubs fans! Miracle coming. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. Pictured right, the book at Costco, which we are told has reordered due to demand. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat open season with polls, NFL Week 8 picks, Jose and alcohol, Dolphins Halloween, your Cubs-Indians verdict, The List & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jose Fernandez, Heat, NFL, Dolphins, World Series: Our most recent columns: Click on Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did, for today's latest column. Also: The Whiteside Project (off Heat home opener). Week 8 Gems (latest NFL picks). What Took You So Long? (Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot (season-preview column). The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi). And The Perfect World Series (Cubs-Indians).

 

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: 16.0%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a 16.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 30-27 loss at Notre Dame putting UM's season Csmrecord at 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the 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 will be around 10 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

Next poll: Nov. 5 following game vs. Pitt

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCT. 30): 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. HEAT: Spurs here Sunday bring season’s first real test: The new-era Heat is two games in and 1-1 with its first real test coming Sunday against San Antonio. But the early season’s big highlight is still ahead: Dwyane Wade’s return to Miami on Nov. 10.

2. HURRICANES: UM falls at Notre Dame for fourth straight loss: It was Super Saturday for the state of Florida’s Big 3 as the Canes revived their rivalry with Notre Dame, Florida faced Georgia in its annual neutral-site game, and Florida State hosted No. 3 Clemson. Alas, only the Gators got the job done. 

3. BASEBALL: Do Cubs fans believe in miracles?: World Series Game 5 Sunday night will be the last at Wrigley Field as Cubs, down 3-1, try to win their first title since 1908. The Indians last won it all in 1948. So that’s recently, relatively speaking.

4. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Report indicates cocaine in system at time of death: You thought the Jose Fernandez tragedy couldn't get any worse. But then it did, with Saturday's toxicology report indicating cocaine in Jose's system at the time of the Marlins star's fatal boat crash.  

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes voted 9th in ACC preseason poll: Duke received 85 of 91 first-place votes in ACC men's basketball preseason media poll. The Miami Hurricanes finished ninth of 15 teams. Could be a long season for Jim Larranaga's departure-decimated Canes.

10. DWYANE WADE: Ex-Heat star fined for throat slash: The NBA fined Wade $25,000 for a throat-slash gesture near the conclusion of his first game with Chicago. Dear Dwyane: Not smart, especially coming from somebody preaching an end to violence.   

Missing the HB10 cut: Like the Dolphins, Missing the Cut is taking the day off.

UmndG8: NOTRE DAME 30, HURRICANES 27: TWO DESPERATE TEAMS RENEW A FIERCE OLD RIVALRY: Postgame thoughts: Note: I needed to suspend my live blog on this game because I'd been called upon to write an unscheduled column on the Jose Fernandez/cocaine development. UM fell behind 20-0 early, fought back, but then could not hold on. Fourth loss in row for Miami. That 4-0 start and No. 10 ranking was a long, long time ago. Canes had very little running game today and defense overall wasn't very good ..... Original post: Saturday's 3:30 kickoff in South Bend finds Miami 4-3 and Notre Dame 2-5, the game airing nationally on NBC as an homage to two storied programs and a once-great rivalry. The betting-line Cathconvtrend has been interesting. Irish opened a negligible 1-point home favorite but enough money flooded to the Canes to swing that line to UM being favored by 2 1/2, and currently 2. I'll say this. A team that has lost three conference games in a row like Miami may take no opponent lightly, and Notre Dame does not seem as bad to me as its record suggests. The Irish have been competitive all year, their five losses by 3, 8, 3, 7 and 7 points. No blowouts there. Besides that, no matter Notre Dame's record any given year, "at South Bend" can still be a challenging trip as the ghosts of a program's tradition and pedigree rattle forth. Could be an intimidating venue for a mostly young canes squad. This was a great rivalry, once, back during the UM dynasty days tinged in controversy -- the T-shirt pictured harking to that -- but the schools are meeting here for only the third time since 1990. (I covered UM fulltime in 1984-88, made two trips to South Bend, and saw the original "Catholics vs. Convicts" painted on bedsheets hanging from dorm windows. The manufactured T-shirts came later. Good stuff!) UM has lost the past three games in the series including 41-3 on the road at Soldier Field in Chicago in the most recent, in 2012. I think that three-game Miami losing streak, as well as this season's current three-game losing streak, both will end in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. My pick: Hurricanes, 24-16.

Other state FBS Week 9 games, chronologically:

South Florida 52, No. 22 Navy  45: I thought Navy was overanked and overestimated and was right. Bulls, now 7-2, jumped to 28-0 early lead in Friday nighter and held on.

Houston 31, UCF 24: Knights fall to 4-4. Houston bounced back after last week's embarrassing loss to Southern Methodist that sent it cascading from No. 11 clean out of the polls.

Western Kentucky 52, FAU 3: Wheels are coming off on a miserable Owls season now at 1-7.

No. 14 Florida 24, Georgia 10: They call this the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," which pretty much describes every college football game I've ever attended or covered where red plastic cups outnumber human beings. But this is one of few enduring neutral-site rivalries. No surprise in the result. Gators have owned the series, 21-6, since 1990 including past three in a row, and at 7-1 should be knocking on door of top 10. 

Middle Tennessee 42, FIU 35: Panthers saw their three-game win streak end last week and were 17-point home 'dogs here. A good-effort loss, but Cats now 3-6.

No. 3 Clemson 37, Florida State 34: If FSU had any prayer of somehow still working their way back up into the four-team College Football Playoff (where they began the season), a home win here was an absolute necessity. But wasn't sure an FSU defense that had previously given up 34-plus points in four games this year could do enough to stop Deshaun Watson et al, and was right. FSU now with a third loss, yet probably not deserving to fall much in rankings.

National Collball Week 9 overview: The initial ranking of contenders for the four-team College Football Playoff will be issued Nov. 1, so this is the weekend would shape it. The AP's current top four is Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington. The latter two were at most risk on Saturday, with Clemson playing at 12-Florida State (see above), and Washington playing at 17-Utah. But nobody ranked in the top six lost.

JOSE FERNANDEZ AND COCAINE: Marlins ace Jose Fernandez had cocaine as well as alcohol in his system when he and two friends died in a boating accident last month, according to an autopsy report obtained by USA Today Saturday. Fernandez’s blood alcohol content was .147, nearly twice the legal limit of .08, according to the toxicology results in Miami-Dade County report. The others in the boat were not as intoxicated, with Eduardo Rivera's BAC at .065 and Jesus Macias' at .044. Rivero also was found with cocaine in his system. There has been no ruling on who was driving, although it has been assumed Fernandez was since he owned the boat. My thought on the latest development: There had been an assumption of alcohol,  but the cocaine news is jarring. It accentuates the tragedy, by underlining the fact is was so preventable. That is so should not have ever happened.

Poll result: You set a modest bar for Heat wins, but higher than Vegas: We invited you to predict the most likely number of Heat regular-season wins, and it was 36.9 percent for 41-45, 31.9% for 36-40, 14.3% for 31-35, 12.2% for 46-or-more and 4.7% for 30-or-fewer. So a plurality thinks slightly better than .500, which is playoff contention for a low seed. The most common Vegas over/under for Miami wins is in the 34-36 range, likely out of the playoffs.

Poll result: Post-Wade, Whiteside anointed favorite Heat player: We asked what current, active Heat player you'd call your favorite entering this season, and Hassan Whiteside led with 34.8 percent, followed by Udonis Haslem at 22.2% and Justise Winslow ar 17.9%. Then it was Goran Dragic with 11.5%, Josh Richardson 6.8% and Tyler Johnson 5.4%, with the remaining 1.4% voting "someone else."

THE LIST: CANES' MOST COMMON FOOTBALL OPPONENTS: Top 10 schools UM has played the most number of times:

No.    Opponent                UM record        Last met

59     Florida State           29-30               2016

55     Florida                    29-26               2013

35     Pittsburgh                24-10-1           Playing Nov. 5; prior 2015

34     Virginia Tech           20-14              2016

29     Boston College         24-5                2012

26     Notre Dame             7-18-1             2016

22     Georgia Tech           11-11               2016

22     Syracuse                  15-7                2003

20     North Carolina         9-11                2016

19     West Virginia           16-3                2003

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 28, 2016

Opening Night! Heat lose home debut, 97-91. Post-Wade, who's now your favorite Heat player? And how good do you expect team to be? 2 polls. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Week 8 picks, Jose and alcohol, your Cubs-Indians verdict, The List (Dolphins) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28. 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: 3 recent columns of ours: Heat opened its new season victoriously; click on Heat's System Reboot for my season-preview column. 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.

OPENING NIGHT! MYSTERY TRAIN LEAVES MIAMI STATION AS NEW-ERA HEAT STAGE HOME OPENER: Update: Heat blow a 19-point lead, fall Friday night to Charlotte in home opener, 97-91. Whiteside leads way with 20 points and 14 rebounds, but his second-half foul trouble really hurt. ...... It was a  pretty impressive little 108-96 Miami win in Orlando Wednesday to open the 2016-17 NBA season. I say "little" because Orlando isn't very good. Still, Hassan Whiteside's 18 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks, and five others in double figures including three off bench, was encouraging. Not so much: Miami was only 4-for-16 on 3's. At any rate the competition is a little tougher tonight in the home opener, with the Charlotte Hornets generally seen as a playoff team above the Heat in the Eastern Conference pecking order. ..... Original post: Heat opens its 29th NBA season and 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 Wednesday and then the Charlotte Hornets in Friday's home opener, Miami immediately faces two like teams in the East -- 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 13 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 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 void left by Wade's departure and with Bosh seemingly having played his last game for the team. Names are listed alphabetically. Vote in both polls, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 8: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: Let's get it on as Marvin Gaye would say. Let's get the roll back in Week 8 of our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the FripixMiami Herald -- and one of our best so far. We dipped to 9-5-1 overall and 7-8 against the spread last week, our first losing week ATS, but still we are a shiny 67-39-2 vs. the betting line after a proper start to our week last night. We called Titans covering 3 1/2 over Jaguars; click Thursday Gem for that pick. For all our latest selections click on Week 8 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. The Dolphins may be off, but the games chug on! We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with the Dolphins, their suddenly blooming ground game and how a run-first tradition has deep roots in franchise lore. Click on What Took You So Long? to read.

ON JOSE FERNANDEZ'S BLOOD-ALCOHOL LEVEL THAT NIGHT: Inevitably results are trickling out on the physical condition of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez and two others that might have led to last month's triple-fatal late night boating accident. Miami-Dade County authorities say a "strong odor of alcohol" was found on Fernandez and two friends, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Miami Herald and released by the Miami-Dade state attorney. It states investigators found evidence that the boat's driver (presumed to be but not known to be Fernandez, the boat's owner) was speeding and driving with "recklessness" that was "exacerbated by the consumption of alcohol." Toxicology reports are complete but have not yet been released by the state as the investigation continues. Bottom line: No surprises in this development: It had been pretty clear from anecdotal evidence and witnesses that all three men had been drinking, and that alcohol and reckless speed contributed to the crash. It only makes the tragedy all the sadder -- the knowing it never should have happened. R.I.P., all three young men.

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

October 07, 2016

NFL Week 5 predix for Dolphins, league; plus who do you hope wins World Series? Eight teams. One choice. Poll. Vote now!; also, your Marlins MVP in Non-Jose Division, Back In My Day, Canes coaches vs. FSU & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7. Hope y'all affected by Hurricane Matthew's path made out OK. We got lucky in my Broward neighborhood: Lots of rain , minimal wind, no damage. 2) Good for Marlins in re-signing 3B Martin Prado to a three-year contract and also exercising option to retain OF Ichiro. 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins MVP poll, SOPY rankings, Jose column quartet & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Why Hurricanes will beat FSU on Saturday: ICYMI, click on Canes Will Beat FSU and Here's Why for my column. 

The latest Back In My Day: Our latest BIMD video, from Tuesday's LeBatard Show (Toilets!) was posted by me on Twitter @gregcote. Enjoy.

BbposWHO DO YOU HOPE WINS THE WORLD SERIES?: Baseball calls them the wild-card games. I call them the play-in games. Whatever. They're over. The Orioles and Mets are one and done. So now we're down to the final eight teams as the real playoffs, the division series, began with a pair of games yesterday. From a national perspective, the Chicago Cubs, seeking their first World Series win since 1908 and generally considered the favorite, are the big story. Next might come the Boston Red Sox because of David Ortiz's swansong -- both stories driven by emotion. But I'm interested here in your perspective, not the national one. Who do you hope wins it all? Not who your betting dollars would be one, but rather who you want to win. Take a dip in our poll, with teams listed alphabetically. Vote who you'd most like to see win the World Series and check back often to monitor evolving results.

World Series betting odds: Opening odds via Bovada: Cubs 5-2, Red Sox 5-1, Rangers 6-1, Blue Jays 25-4, Dodgers and Giants both 15-2, Nationals 8-1 and Indians 9-1.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 5: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We aim to continue the strong start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald with our latest picks. Click Fripixon Week 5 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Titans, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. Got off to a strong start with Arizona-San Francisco last night, accurately saying Cardinals would win and cover the four-point line; they won 33-21. We're now a very nifty 42-22 against the spread heading into Sunday's schedule. We also have an accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with the first of our quarterly awards for the league and Dolphins. Click on King Sport First Quarter Awards to read.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 4: OUR 'ATS' HOT STREAK ROARS ON; LOBOS (LUCKY TO) WIN: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL picks: We were only 8-7 straight-up last week but an I'll-take-it 9-6 against the spread -- a fourth straight winning week ATS. Missed on our Upset of the Week thanks to 49ers blowing a 14-0 lead, but hit on Bears' upset of Lions and also had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Raiders, Rams and Saints. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos pulled level at 2-2 with a 103.2-90 win over Amin Elhassan in the LeBatard Show league, fueled by Melvin Gordon's 23.9 points. 'Bos enjoyed a dose of luck when Amin started a running back (Jeremy Langford) who was inactive. The Lobos appreciate the gift, Amin!

Poll result: Jose, Yelich dominate Marlins MVP vote: We gave you a five-player ballot for Marlins season MVP and invited you to select your top two choices, and the clear winners were the late Jose Fernandez with 42.3 percent and Christian Yelich 40.6%. Martin Prado was a distant third with 12.2%. Then minor support trickled in for Marcell Ozuna at 2.6% and Giancarlo Stanton at 2.2%.

OUR QUARTET OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ:

What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart the Sunday before last.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in team's first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The third, in midst of Wednesday's public events and outpouring.

With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose: The fourth and last, from this past Sunday, reflecting on a brutal week, but one that saw something so awful bring out something so wonderful in our community.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Canes Will Beat FSU and Here's Why. Time is Right For Bosh to RetireWe Got Some Canes Over Here (on UM's impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton.

THE LIST: HURRICANES COACHING RECORDS VS. FLORIDA STATE: Won-lost records of UM coaches vs. the Seminoles, best to worst, since Howard Schnellenberger arrived in 1979:

Record        Coach                                Years

4-1, .800    Jimmy Johnson                   1984-88

5-2, .714    Larry Coker                        2001-06*

4-2, .667    Dennis Erickson                  1989-94

3-2, .600    Howard Schnellenberger     1979-83

2-2, .500    Randy Shannon                   2007-10

1-5, 167     Butch Davis                        1995-00

0-5, .000    Al Golden                           2011-15

*-Coker's totals include 16-14 win over FSU in 2003-season Orange Bowl.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 04, 2016

Yes, Jose was Marlins' 2016 MVP. But who was second? New poll. Vote now!; Radio Tuesday, plus World Series odds, latest SOPY rankings, 'Fins At 50' book now available & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 3. See our previous blogpost for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They don't make numbers much higher as FSU Week begins for Miami. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at Georgia tech with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, state Collball Week 5, quartet of Jose columns & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Radio Tuesday!: We're on the LeBatard Show now on 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio.

World Series odds: Via Bovada today, Cubs a clear favorite at 12-5 odds, followed by Red Sox at 5-1, Rangers 6-1, Nationals 13-2 and Dodgers 15-2. Longer shots are the Indians at 9-1, Blue Jays 10-1, Mets 18-1 and Orioles and Giants both 22-1.

FINS AT 50: New book on sale now!: The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half century, Fins At 50, is now available, just in time for the holiday season. Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon.

MarlinsMARLINS' 2016 MVP: JOSE AND THEN...WHO?: The Marlins' 79-82 season was disappointing even before the tragic death of Jose Fernandez overshadowed everything. It was because, after being in the wild-card playoff hunt for so much of the season, Miami faded late. It was because it marked yet another injury-marred season for slugger Giancarlo Stanton. MVPIt was because, bottom line, the Fish still haven't had a winning season since 2009 in a playoff drought extending to '03. But there were positives, too, under first-year manager Don Mattingly, until Jose's death made them all seem meaningless. There were solid performances. In that spirit in this Marlins season MVP poll I present five finalists, alphabetically, with pertinent statistics listed. I ask that you vote for your top two (2) choices due to the extraordinary circumstances of Fernandez's death. In anticipation of an emotion-driven vote for Fernandez, who might very well have won anyway, I'm curious who comes out on top among the other finalists. So vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results:

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': NOLES' COOK EN FEUGO AS FSU WEEK ARRIVES: The fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds FSU running back SopyDalvin Cook continuing red-hot as the Seminoles prepare to visit Miami in Collball Week 6. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. UM's Mark Walton and Brad Kaaya rank 6-7 this week despite the Canes playing one fewer game than all the others. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. We close it off after the regular season to not penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 6, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 5:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk5        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                184          988.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          264          963

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 224          844.5

4      4      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       101          603.5

5      7      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         123          548

6      5      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      79           521 

7     10     Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       126.5       502.5

8     --      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    112         467

9     --      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      178.5      463.5

10    8      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                    68          454

Bubble: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 433. Other team leader: Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 351. Week 5 best: Cook, 264. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

OUR QUARTET OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ:

What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart last Sunday.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in team's first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The third, in midst of Wednesday's public events and outpouring.

With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose: The fourth and last, from Sunday, reflecting on a brutal week, but one that saw something so awful bring out something so wonderful in our community.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 4 Gems (our latest NFL picks). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (guess the headline says it all). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (and again the headline says it all).

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 03, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.9%; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); also, UM No. 10 after winning at Ga Tech 35-21, Richt's Bible giveaway, Noles' stunning defeat, FIU wins, our final Jose column & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 3. UM-FSU next Saturday here has been set for an 8 p.m. kickoff. 2) Thank you for veering away from us, Hurricane Matthew. That's a good Matt. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins clobbered in Cincy with DSM poll, our trilogy of Jose Fernandez columns, Loria eulogizes Jose, NFL Week 4 picks, The List (Fins on TNF) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphin-less Sunday: Admit it, Dolfans, you enjoyed a stress-free Sunday without the prospect of another discouraging Dolphins performance. Or more ghastly Creamsicle uniforms. Click on Week 4 Gems for our latest NFL picks.

Jose Fernandez: Reflecting on the good we saw in a brutal week: Sunday we offered our latest and last of four columns this week on the tragic death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, reflecting on a brutal week, but one in which something so awful brought out something so wonderful in our community. The column: With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 97.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 97.9 percent approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech putting CsmUM's season record at 4-0 and 1-0 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the 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 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

Next poll: Oct. 8 following game vs. Florida State

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCTOBER 2): 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. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Mourning the tragic death of Marlins' ace: A broken team ends its baseball season 79-82 with a loss Sunday in Washington, but for the Marlins, their fans, Cuban Miami and all of South Florida, it all ended one week earlier with death of their most beloved player in a boating accident. R.I.P., Jose.

2. HURRICANES: UM spanks Georgia Tech, awaits Florida State: Now 10th-ranked Miami hosts the Seminoles (down to No. 23 coming off a stunning Saturday loss) in five days in the year's most anticipated game. It was OK for you and I to look ahead to FSU. Mark Richt's Hurricanes sure didn't Saturday in winning 35-21 at Georgia Tech.

3. DOLPHINS: Reeling Fins fall to 1-3 in Cincinnati: The Dolphins looked as bad as they looked Thursday night in a 22-7 loss. Those hideous orange uniforms clowned Fins players and made them look like animated Creamsicles, and the sartorial abomination was matched by the team's performance.

4. HEAT: Ready or not, the (fake) games are about to begin: Training camp in the Bahamas ended Saturday, now the new-look Heat open their NBA preseason schedule on Tuesday at Washington. No more D-Wade, no more Bosh, no more Big 3. Only big questions are left.

5. BASEBALL: It's O's-Jays, Giants-Mets in wild cards: It'll be Baltimore at Toronto in the AL wild-card game Tuesday and San Francisco at the NY. Mets in the NL WC on Wednesday, as the six division winners wait. Cubs fans, start your anxiety!

6. GOLF: Americans surge to huge Ryder Cup triumph: Americans surged past Team Europe 17-11 in Minnesota to earn the first U.S. Ryder Cup win since 2008 and only the third in past two decades. Meantime, U.S. fans were tough on the Europeans, especially on Rory McIlroy. Make America Boorish Again!

7. ARNOLD PALMER: Golf icon dies at 87: Younger generations know the name for his eponymous iced tea-lemonade drink, but for millions of older folks, Arnie was golf's first big star and the magnet that grew the sport. R.I.P.

8. PANTHERS: NHL season nears as exhibitions continue: Florida plays its fifth of seven exhibition games Tuesday in Dallas as the Oct. 13 opener looms. Panthers think they could be Stanley Cup-good this season. Go, Cats, go. A hurting South Florida could use the lift.

9. CHRIS BOSH: Heat says he's damaged good, but players vows to continue: Bosh defiantly says he will pursue a resumption of his career with another team. Meanwhile he says he learned of his failed Miami physical through the media. You're welcome!

10. SHULA BOWL: FIU wins! FIU wins!: It was Shula Bowl XV Saturday in a series FAU has dominated, but this one went to previously winless underdog host FIU, 33-31. Interim coach Ron Cooper is now 1-0. Quit while you're ahead, dude.

Missing the HB10 cut: A LeBron James signed rookie card sold at auction for $312,000. It's like that famous P.T. Barnum line: "There's a sucker with $312,000 to waste born every minute." ..... NASCAR in Dover today cuts its finalists field from 16 drivers to 12. Homestead getting close. Vroom. ..... Team Canada beat Team Europe to win the World Cup of Hockey. Now if Canada could only end that pesky 23-year Stanley Cup drought ..... UM Sports Hall of Fame announced nine more inductees. Not saying they let too many in, but was the sports-information intern who worked the summer of '98 really that special? ..... Joakim Noah declined to attend a team dinner at West Point because of his anti-war beliefs. That, or he wasn't hungry ..... Vin Scully has retired at age 88 after 67 years as Dodgers broadcaster. Slacker! No, seriously, farewell, sir. Miss your voice already.

G4: NO. 14 HURRICANES 35, @ GEORGIA TECH 21: TWO HUGE DEFENSIVE PLAYS POWER MIAMI IN ACC OPENER: Final thoughts: This was a pretty tight game busted wide open by those two UM defensive TDs by true freshmen Shaquille Quarterman and Joe Jackson. Ga Tech ran a lot more offensive plays (74--46) and offensive yards were about dead even. It was those two back-to-back plays on defense. Hey, whatever works. Whatever you need, right? An impressive win and a conference win by the Canes as Mark Richt's personal mastery over Georgia Tech continues. This could have been a losable game but there was no looking past Tech or ahead to next week's huge visit by Florida State. Miami took care of business in a game in which one team killed itself with turnovers and the other one did not. This was UM's first real test of the Richt era. They passed ..... 4Q: Canes interception on defense with 2:21 to play seals it ... This game is over. Tech does not have the passing game or quick-strike ability to make up two TDs in a short time ... Chris Herndon's 48-yard catch and run has Canes on the move ... Huge fourth-down stop by Canes D with broken-up pass in end zone. ... Tech driving. As expected, this is UM's biggest challenge of the season by a lot. ..... 3Q: Canes now up 35-21. That's more like it. Canes needed to get Kaaya going and did, as his 31-yard scoring pass to Stacy Coley ends a fast 75-yard drive. Tech had stoilen momentum; UM has it back ... Tech within 28-21 on short TD run ending 65-yard drive. ... Mid-third Q and Miami only 177 yards of total offense today. Defense is winning, but UM will need another offensive TD to close this out. ..... Halftime thoughts: Pretty even game but for those two huuuge defensive scores by a pair of Canes true freshman. Turnovers the whole difference as UM has played clean: no giveaways, no penalties. Tech has run 38 offensive plays to Miami's 21. Canes could use a long drive or two and a few quick defensive stops to bring that to better balance. Quick aside: Always interesting hearing TV analyst Butch Davis discuss the Canes, knowing he'd have killed to get the UM job Richt got ..... 2Q: Tech stops the bleeding, counters with scoring pass to pull within 28-14 with less than a minute left in half ... Wow. Seriously. Miami suddenly up 28-7 after second straight Tech fumble and defensive  TD by a true freshman, this time Joe Jackson ... Canes now 21-7 on sack and fumble scooped up by freshman Shaquille Quarterman and returned for TD ... Miami back up 14-7 with impressive 90-yard drive finished by Mark Walton's 14-yard scoring run ... Sack = big defensive stop for Canes. ... UM defense needs some 3-and-outx to counter GT's ball control thus far.  ... Tech ties it 7-7 on 7-yard TD run ..... 1Q: Tech threatening as quarter ends. Big ball possession so far for home team ... UM up 7-0 on Joe Yearby's 27-yard scoring run. A 25-yard pass to Stacy Coley was driver's other big play. ... OT Trevor Darling out injured for UM. ... Love the green UM jerseys we're seeing for only time this season. As opposed to Thursday's look by the Miami Creamsicles. ..... Game preview: Miami is 3-0 by a combined score of 153-23 against smaller, lesser competition -- including that comically overhyped, alleged threat-that-wasn't at Appalachian State. I'm not saying UM isn't really good. I'm saying they've been largely untested so far and haven't yet had to really prove how Umgatechgood they are. But now, at high noon Saturday, it begins. The proving. The season, really. This is Miami's ACC opener, and, although the Hurricanes are 7 1/2-point favorites over 3-1 Georgia Tech, it's still a conference game on the road. It's losable -- especially if the Canes are either overconfident or glancing ahead to next week's huge visit by chief rival and nemesis Florida State. I like Miami coming off a bye. Tech's run-heavy, triple-option offense can be a challenge, but Mark Richt makes this the best-coached UM team in a long time. UM fans should also feel good about this: While at Georgia, Richt's record vs. the Yellow Jackets was a nifty 13-2. Including his days as an FSU assistant, he's 21-2 vs. the Jackets, and is 12-0 in games played at Georgia Tech. Richt knows this opponent well, and how to defeat it. Brad Kaaya (368 yards, three TDs at App State) and Mark Walton (401 yards rushing, 8.1 per carry, in three games) will help put up too many points for the Jackets to outscore. Kaaya also must be careful, though; he has three interceptions in past two games. My pick: Hurricanes, 30-20.

BibleON RICHT'S BIBLE GIVEAWAY: UM coach Mark Richt, who is very religious, gave Bibles to all of his players this week. Not sure how I feel about that. He did say they weren't required reading. Still, I'm a bit uneasy with any coach -- Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist or anything else -- being a lockerroom evangelist for his beliefs. Don't misconstrue. I am not anti-religion. Not anti-Bible. I just think there should be a separation there. I ran a Twitter poll asking if you were OK with Richt giving players Bibles. It was 57 percent yes, 35% no, 8% undecided.

CanesjoseCANES HONORS JOSE: Friday on their @CanesFootball Twitter account UM wrote, "This past Sunday, we lost a big piece of our community. Tomorrow, we honor his memory. #JDF16." They did so on Saturday by wearing small circular helmet decals that read 'JF 16' in the memory of fallen Marlins star Jose Fernandez. That was a nice gesture. The helmet decal is pictured.

Other state FBS Week 5 games (all Saturday, in chronology):

No. 23 Florida 13, Vanderbilt 6: Gators are now 4-1 but were 10-point faves and sort of escaped Vanderbilt more than won. They were trying to shake off the sting of blowing an 18-point halftime lead in last week's loss at Tennessee, and not sure they did. Austin Appleby again started at quarterback for UF but Luke Del Rio may be back for next game.

North Carolina 37, No. 12 Florida State 35Oh. My. God. FSU falls to 3-2, beaten by a 54-yard field goal on game's last play. Miami hosts FSU next week and then North Carolina the week after, so Canes surely were watching this one. Noles were 10 1/2-point favorites. This is stunning. FSU will plummet in the polls now. There is little question the Canes will be favored next Saturday. The Florida State defense I saw today will not contain Brad Kaaya's Hurricanes.

RoncooperFIU 33, FAU 31: It was Shula Bowl XV in this natural rivalry that hasn't really ever taken off because A) both teams are usually bad and B) neither team has a great fan Fiufaubase. FAU led the series 10-4 including a 31-17 win last year, and Owls were 6-point road faves here. It was the Conference USA opener for both, and marked the debut of FIU interim head coach Ron Cooper, who replaces the fired Ron Turner. (The highest rise on the coaching food chain for Cooper, 54 (pictured), was three seasons spent as Louisville head coach in 1995-97; he was 13-20). Well, good for FIU, getting off the schneid in a result that left both local teams 1-4.

Also: UCF (now 3-2) won at East Carolina, 47-29; and South Florida (now 4-1) delivered a road-spanking to Cincinnati, 45-20.

National Collball Week 5 overview: There was a reasonable risk of change in current College Football Playoff top four because two teams currently in it both face ranked teams. No. 4 Michigan did its job against visiting 8-Wisconsin, 14-7. But No. 3 Louisville lost at 5-Clemson, 42-36.

JoseripOUR QUARTET OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ: We had four columns this past week related to Jose's tragic death. I cannot apologize if that seems excessive. The quartet:

What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart last Sunday.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in team's first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The third, in midst of Wednesday's public events and outpouring.

With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose: The fourth, latest and last, from Sunday, reflecting on a brutal week, but one in which something so awful brought out something so wonderful in our community.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 4 Gems (our latest NFL picks). Instant Lifelong Rivals (our NFL column on QBs drafted 1-2). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I guess the headline says it all). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it all).

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 01, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.0%. Ugh; plus Fins clobbered in Cincy 22-7, NFL Week 4 predix, our trilogy on tragic death of Jose Fernandez, Loria's eulogy for Jose & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30. Speaking at a rally in Coral Springs today, Hillary Clinton spent more than a minute on a tribute to Jose Fernandez. 2) Scroll to bottom of this blogpost for yesterday's eulogy by Jeffrey Loria for Jose. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins honor Jose in emotional tribute, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

JoseOUR TRILOGY OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ:

What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart last Sunday.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The latest, from Wednesday's public events and outpouring. 

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

Find our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 3.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 3.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday night's 22-7 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals putting Miami's season record at 1-3. That's a season low and among the lowest ratings in our poll's history. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Saturday.

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Oct. 9 (following game vs. Tennessee)

G4: @ CINCINNATI 22, DOLPHINS 7: FINS SQUANDER A BIG OPPORTUNITY TO LIFT A CITY THAT NEEDS LIFTING: Final postgame thoughts: In the fairy tale, Miami would have won tonight becausehad made several  Miami needed the lift -- not the team, the Dolphins, as much as the city back home. Five days grieving over the loss of Jose Fernandez and our community dearly needed a little joy, a diversion. A big upset win by the Dolphins might have done it, however briefly. But that hope was giving the Fins too much credit, alas. This was not only a loss dropping the Dolphins record to 1-3, it was dispiriting. Miami did little other than one long scoring pass. Its defense played badly against the pass but allowed only one Bengals TD. But Ryan Tannehill's unit did not offer nearly enough help. Coach Adam Gase  had made several lineup changes and tweaks. When those things work, you're a genius. When they don't, you seem desperate. So the Dolphins head home seeming as if they're not sure where they're at, or what to do. Not a good place to be one quarter into the season. ..... 4Q: Fins in Cincy territory and Tannehill intercepted, his fifth pick in past three games. Oy vey. ... Nugent's fifth FG has 'Gals in command 22-7. Another dispiriting  effort by the Dolphins-turned-Creamsicles. ..... 3Q: Tannehill continues to take way too many sacks for a mobile QB. ... 'Gals settle for another FG and 19-7 lead. A.J. Green (9-166) is making his fantasy owners pop champagne at Miami's expense. ..... Halftime thoughts: Time of possession a big negative for Miami. Dolphins defense can't get Cincy off the field -- Andy Dalton with 197 yards passing. And MIA offense, other than that 74-yard scoring pass, hasn't done much at all. This is a winnable game, but, right now, not looking like one Miami is prepared to win. ..... 2Q: CIN up 16-7 just before half after Tannehill stripped off ball, loses fumble in own territory. ... Bengals add short FG for 13-7 lead. Pretty even game. Nobody to cover Green, though. Bad sign when, three games in, you bench the guy (Byron Maxwell) who was supposed to be your top corner. ..... 1Q: Cincy 10-7 on Dalton-A.J. Green 7Y scoring hookup. Dolphins in these unis look like animated Creamsicles. ... Crazy Adam Gase with all his lineup changes and tweaks. You know how that goes. Wins, the media calls you a genius. Lose, we call you desperte. ... Dolphins 7-3 on Tannehill 74-yard strike to glaringly open Kenny Stills. ... Bengals 3-0, settle for FG on game's first series. Dolphin stiffened after, for much of series, looking as bad as their orange uniforms. ..... Original post: Miami is hurting. The city, the community, all of South Florida. Marlins fans, Cuban Miami -- everybody who enjoyed and admired the passion and spirit, not to mention the excellence, of Jose Fernandez. Tonight, the Miami Dolphins have a chance to help us heal just a little bit. To make us forget our sorrow for a little while. To allow us to cheer after a week of civic and personal heartache. But will they? Can they? Miacin2 MiacinThe Dolphins are weird and unpredictable and I have little real idea which Fins will take the field in Cincinnati on tonight's prime-time stage to kick off NFL Week 4. Nobody can really know. Even Adam Gase doesn’t. Miami nearly stunned the league in its opener in Seattle. Miami looked awful and great in losing at New England. Then Miami needed a ton of luck and overtime at home just to barely survive lowly Cleveland — leaving Dolfans more upset by the somewhat embarrassing win than by the two losses. Now? You could tell me Miami will get blown out by the Bengals Thursday night or impress in a big upset win (Miami is a 7 1/2-point underdog) and I’d not be surprised either way. The problem here is Miami can’t run behind a disheveled and untrustworthy offensive line, and I can’t like this pass defense against AFC yards leader Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, who caught 11 for 128 yards when last facing Miami. Also, Cincy should have back defensive leader Vontaze Burfict, who is newly off suspension. There also is speculation Bengals might get tight end Tyler Eifert back from injury, but that's doubtful. In Miami’s favor, Fins are 15-5 in this series including three in a row, Cincy is given to big defensive penalties, and Dalton can be pick-prone on occasion. Miami will have a sizable upset shot if the defense can manage a takeaway or two, if Ryan Tannehill (four INTs in past two games) plays clean, or if Cam Wake can reprise the mayhem of his last game against the Bengals: Three sacks, fumble recovery, forced fumble and game-winning safety. Maybe the Dolphins have a storybook night in them; maybe they know how much their hurting city could use the lift. Alas, the safest bet here? It’s ’Gals outright, Fins covering. (Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's full prediction capsule). My pick: Bengals, 27-23.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 4: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We continued the strong start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 11-5 against the spread Fripixlast week (though only 9-7 straight-up). Click on Week 4 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for the entire week. Got off to a split start on Dolphins-at-Bengals last night. Thought Cincy would win, but gave Miami too much credit and mistakenly thought they'd get inside the 7 1/2-point bet-line (see Thursday Gem for that pick). We also have an accompanying NFL notes column that leads with an analysis of the eight instances in history when quarterbacks have gone 1-2 in the NFL Draft -- the instant rivalries and how they fared vs. each other. (There's a rather stunning reason why the first of them, in 1954, was short-lived). Click on Instant Lifelong Rivals to read the column.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS ON THURSDAY NIGHT: Miami is now 6-5 all-time on Thursday night after tonight's loss in Cincinnati. The chronology:

Date            Result    Opponent 

11-29-79      Won       vs. Patriots 39-24

11-20-80      Lost       vs. Chargers 27-24 (OT)

9-10-81        Won       vs. Steelers 30-10

10-18-90      Won       vs. Patriots 17-10

9-7-06          Lost       at Steelers 28-17

11-19-09      Won        at Panthers 24-17

11-18-10      Lost        vs. Bears 16-10

11-11-12      Lost        at Bills 19-14

10-31-13      Won        vs. Bengals 22-20 (OT)

11-13-14      Won        vs. Bills 22-9

9-29-16        Lost         at Bengals 22-7

TRANSCRIPT OF JEFFREY LORIA'S EULOGY FOR JOSE FERNANDEZ TODAY: The Marlins owner has been controversial and oft-disliked, or worse. But give him credit where it is due. The Marlins have hit all the right notes this week in their tributes to their star pitcher who was tragically killed this past Sunday. In that spirit, here, verbatim, is Loria's eulogy for Jose from earlier this afternoon.

"First of all, there are a few people we need to thank. Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, and ESPECIALLY the Miami-Dade Police Department and City of Miami Police Department. We’d like to thank St. Brendan’s Catholic Church, Father Fernando, Father Alvarez, Christopher Columbus High School, Brother Kevin, Father Rumen and La Ermita.

We weren’t supposed to be here today.

As you all know, we tragically lost a giant who was one of the bright lights of our Marlins organization, the City of Miami, and for Cuban people everywhere. His story was representative of, and inspiring to, millions across the world. He worked so hard to experience the American Dream…and ended up being its very embodiment.

I was fortunate enough to play a significant role in Jose’s life, as he did in mine. I was there when he got called up. I was there when he pitched his first big league strike. I was proud to be there when he was reunited with his grandmother, and there when he won the Rookie of the Year award; no doubt it would have been the first of many such accolades.

I was blessed to have gotten to know not only the player with a golden arm, but also the man.

While some saw him as provocative, I saw him as humble, mature and never wanting to abuse his personal or professional relationships. He respected generosity, and in turn, gave it back in spades with his magnetic smile that could light up a ballpark.

I think we also know about his famously-competitive spirit. For evidence of this, one need look no further than his last at bat of the season two years ago. For weeks, he had been playfully telling anyone who would listen that he dreamt of hitting a home run.

Not having done it as the season drew to a close, this Ace who is normally better known for his fastball, crushed it into the seats, smiling broadly as he rounded the bases. This was the magic of Jose. He set the standard for making baseball FUN.

You know, Jose’s impact on people was global. This summer, my wife Julie and I were in Chicago for the Cubs series. As we strolled down Michigan Ave. in advance of a night game, we saw someone walking towards us wearing a Marlins jersey. As he got closer, we noticed it said Fernandez on the back, so we stopped him to inquire if he’d be attending the ballgame. He explained in a thick Dutch accent that he’d saved up his money and flown in from Holland specifically to see his favorite player, Jose. How far and wide the admiration went for this young man. Jackie Robinson once said a life is not important, except through the impact it has on OTHER lives. By any measure…Jose achieved that goal.

Athletically, he was clearly a superstar who would have continued to reach incredible heights in this game. He passed far too young, like other greats such as Thurmon Munson and Roberto Clemente. But more importantly, he was a superstar human being.

About a year ago, Jose tweeted “if you were given a book with the story of your life, would you want to read the end?” Well I prefer not to think of this tragedy as the end of his life…but rather the beginning of his LEGEND, his memory and his love that will endure forever.

To Jose’s family, friends, teammates and our community, I share in the deep pain we’re all feeling right now. Some words that often comfort me in times like this are that…grief is merely a healing process from the pain of loss. In other words, this pain is overwhelming, but a sign that we are coping and together we will move on.

He will never be replaced…nor forgotten…but will endure shining brightly over us all.

Thank you."

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 28, 2016

On today's public farewell for Marlins' Jose Fernandez; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Our weekly NFL Pix 'n Fantasy update is coming here later this afternoon, post-radio show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tragedy: Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident, Dolphins luck to beat Browns in OT with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: What Jose Meant Lives On (my first column on death of Jose Fernandez). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I guess the headline says it all). Week 3 Gems (our NFL picks from past weekend). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it all)She Never Quit (our last column in FIU football coach Ron Turner before they fired him).

Today's public events for Jose Fernandez: The public may watch the funeral motorcade depart Marlins Park at 2:16 p.m. Fans are asked to gather at the stadium's West Plaza by 2. Fans may also pay respects as a public viewing that will occur from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. today at St. Brendan Catholic Church, 8725 SW 32nd Street, Miami. There will be a private funeral mass on Thursday open only to family and Marlins players, coaches and staff. In lieu of flowers, the Fernandez family suggest charitable donations to the JDF16 Foundation. To learn more or to donate, click here.

MarlinsjoseHONORING JOSE AT MARLINS PARK: AN EMOTIONAL NIGHT FOR THE AGES: Many of you know I have been a sports journalist since newspapers were dropped on front lawns by pterodactyls. Into my fifth decade doing this, since the '70s, I have seen every event imaginable. But nothing quite like last night, as the Marlins and Miami said goodbye, cruelly too soon, to ace pitcher Jose Fernandez in the first game since his tragic death in the wee hours of Sunday morning in a boating accident. It was the most emotional night I have ever covered, top to bottom. It began with every player wearing his No. 16 uniform with "Fernandez" stitched on the back, and fans standing to applaud every time a different Jose Fernandez crossed the chalk line pregame and ran onto the field. It ended, long after the game, after the stadium had emptied of all but workers and media, as players stood around the pitcher's mound and raised bottles of beer to the heavens in a toast. What a terrible, wonderful night. I hope my column from the ballpark last night has done it justice. To read, click There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night.

NFL PICKS 'N FANTASY WEEK 3: 'ATS' RUN CONTINUES, LOBOS LOSE HEARTBREAKER: NFL picks: Had a rocky week straight-up (9-7) but emerged a sparkly 11-5 against the spread thanks to three outright upset bull's-eyes including our Upset of the Week on Bills over Cardinals ("Aawwk!"), plus five other 'dogs-with-points. Fantasy: Another difficult loss to take. Greg's Lobos fell to 1-2 in the LeBatard Show league, losing to Mike Ryan, 136.5-130.9. We were getting blown away but nearly rallied miraculously with 57.6 combined Monday nihght points from Drew Brees and Devonta Freeman. Also, you know what they say about "close."

SOPY RANKINGS, 'STATE HEISMAN': COOK ON HIGH HEAT: The fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds FSU running back Dalvin Cook (pictured) charging up the chart Dcookinto second place off a season-best effort entering Collball Week 5. Are rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week (like the SopyMiami Hurricanes this past weekend) take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. We close it off after the regular season to not penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 5, followed by our updated Cote's State of the State team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 4:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Week        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                245          804.5

2      7      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          341          699

3      2      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 171.5       620.5

4      9      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       200          502.5

5      3      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     BYE        442 

6      4      Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   DNP        433

7      5      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         40            425

8    10      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                   93           386 

9     --      Kalib Woods, FAU-rec                       114          377

10   6       Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       BYE        376

Bubble: D'Ernest Johnson, SoFla-rb, 357. Other team leader: Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 338. Week 3 best: Cook, 341. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote