December 13, 2017

Fighting Irish to Fighting Fin? McShay's first mock-draft pick for Dolphins; plus Cutler climbs in Herald NFL QB rankings, Pastor David Grisham is an idiot, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results (Go Lobos!), your verdict on blame for Stanton trade & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13. See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter result. It enjoys a sizable spike to its highest level in seven weeks.  2) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games. 3) Holiday shopping? Giving all the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins stun Patriots with my 5 takeaways and DSM poll, thanks for the memories Giancarlo with blame poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

ICYMI, my column on Marlins trading Stanton: Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It.

QnelsonFIGHTING IRISH TO FIGHTING FIN? MCSHAY'S EARLY MOCK-DRAFT PICK FOR MIAMI: Todd McShay today offers his 2018 Mock Draft 1.0 for ESPN. He has Southern Cal QB Sam Darnold going No. 1 overall to Cleveland. No Miami Hurricanes make his first round; in fact the only state player who makes it is Florida State safety Derwin James, going 13th to Washington. McShay projects the Dolphins selecting 14th overall and taking Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson (pictured). Says McShay: "Guard is a glaring need for the Dolphins, who need to protect whomever is at QB and get more push in the running game. Nelson is the most NFL-ready offensive lineman in this class and a road-grader (listed at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds). He's ready to start right away." Makes some sense. But I also think Miami may be tired of using first-round picks on offensive linemen, which they have done four times since 2008. 

JaycutlerBRADY'S LEAD NARROWS, CUTLER CLIMBS / HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 14: The Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger rode a 506-yard performance to a season-best 58.30-point game to win Week 14 and climb to fourth place overall in the Miami Herald’s NFL quarterback rankings. Patriot Tom Brady maintains the overall season lead but his margin has slipped to less than 18 points over second place Drew Brees of the Saints — who is officially now in the passing lane with three weeks to play. Meanwhile, the Dolphins’ Jay Cutler (pictured) climbs three big spots to 21st overall off a solid 39.15-point game Monday night. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL’s and ESPN’s are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. [Click here to see the latest QB rankings online].

The Top 20 plus Dolphins entering Week 15:

RK LW Player, Team                    WK14      Season

1    1  Tom Brady, NE                   13.65      473.20

2    2  Drew Brees, NO                 33.55      455.45

3    3  Alex Smith, KC                   21.40      414.35

4    8  Ben Roethlisberger, PIT      58.30      409.20

5    6  Matthew Stafford, DET       49.05      407.15

6    7  Carson Wentz, PHI              32.55      386.80

7    4  Russell Wilson, SEA             16.55      383.35

8    9  Philip Rivers, LAC               31.95      381.55

9    5  Kirk Cousins, WAS               10.55      376.00

10 10 Jared Goff, LAR                  21.95      365.40

11 12 Case Keenum, MIN              24.00      362.15

12 11 Matt Ryan, ATL                   13.05      354.90

13 13 Josh McCown, NYJ              -0.70      336.30

14 14 Derek Carr, OAK                 14.55      317.10

15 16 Dak Prescott, DAL              40.60      313.20

16 18 Blake Bortles, JAC              33.40      294.05

17 15 Andy Dalton, CIN                  6.05      281.35

18 19 Joe Flacco, BAL                  21.45      278.65

19 19 Cam Newton, CAR              12.85      276.00

20 20 Eli Manning, NYG                24.40      274.95

21 24 Jay Cutler, MIA                   39.15      249.00

39 38 Matt Moore, MIA                  DNP         72.05

Bubble: Cutler, MIA, 249.00. Week 14 Best: Roethlisberger, PIT, 58.30, season high (44-66, 506, 2-0 in win). Week 14 Worst: Bryce Petty, NYJ, minus-4.30 (2-9, 14, 0-0 in loss).

'PASTOR' AND REAL-LIFE GRINCH DAVID GRISHAM IS A REPREHENSIBLE MORON: I have nothing against religion but believe it to be a very personal matter
Davidgrishamand do not appreciate aggressive evangelism, whether it be Jehovahs knocking on my door or this example from a mall in Amarillo, Texas, where a self-described pastor from Alaska's Last Frontier Evangelism started telling little kids there is no Santa Claus. Have you heard this? What a moron David Grisham is. What a reprehensible idiot. Little kids waiting in a line to sit on Santa's lap and this stranger starts crapping all over their childhood because he feels Santa is getting too much credit at the expense of Jesus. Or something. Angry parents started confronting this selfish Grinch. I almost wish somebody had decked him. I'd been in the long line of those volunteering to pay the bail. You can find the story and the wildly incriminating video this nut took of himself here. The off-his-rocker lunatic also is pictured.

JeterPOLL RESULT: MOST BLAME JETER FOR STANTON TRADE: We asked who you blame most for Giancarlo Stanton no longer being a Marlin, and offered four choices. Your verdict: 51.9 percent blame new owner Derek Jeter (pictured) for not committing to keeping Stanton and building around him; 31.5% blame former owner Jeffrey Loria for Stanton's huge, back-loaded contract that made keeping him difficult; 15.4% blame nobody because trading big contracts for prospects may prove smart; and only 1.2% blame Stanton himself for agreeing to be traded.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 14 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with Fripix Lobosmy Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. WEEK 14: Herald picks: Mixed bag. Went upset crazy and got hammered straight-up with only an 8-8 mark, but was a nifty 9-5-2 against the spread, with two games off the board. Hit outright upsets wins by the Falcons, Panthers, Broncos and Eagles, and also had three other 'dogs-with-points in Jaguars, Ravens and Dolphins. Greg's Lobos: Thriller! The playoffs began with a Lobos miracle: 24.6 points from Jarvis Landry Monday night and a 120-117.4 victory over No. 1 seed Chris. Man! We made the final four and face Allyson in a semifinal this week. #GoLobosGo

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

Twitter @gregcote

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 79.4%; plus Cutler, Miami stun New England 27-17; also, Radio Tuesday, Greg's Lobos news, latest Hot Button Top 10, Stanton trade poll (vote now) & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12. It's the holidays! Which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Stanton to Yankees with poll, my column on trade, your verdicts on Gordon trade/faith in Jeter & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My column on Marlins trading Stanton to Yankees: Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It.

Greg's Lobos Update!: Epic! EPIC! The Lobos got 24.6 points from Jarvis Landry last night to miraculously beat No. 1 seed Chris 120-117.4 in the first round of the LeBatard Show fantasy-league playoffs. Landry had The Heart of a Lobo -- the highest compliment that can be attributed to anyone. 

FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM DOLPHINS' ASTOUNDING, IMPRESSIVE WIN OVER PATRIOTS: Jay Cutler thoroughly outplayed Tom Brady and the Miami Dolphins mostly dominated the New England Patriots.

The preceding may be the most unlikely sentence ever written in the history of the English language.

Five takeaways from Miami's 27-20 Monday Night Football home victory over the Patriots:

1. Where have you guys been? Why is a Dolphins team capable of this kind of effort, this kind of night, still sitting at 6-7 and still an NFL playoff longshot even after this exhilarating triumph? Miami wore its throwback uniforms and gave us a throwback performance. We thought the Dolphins just weren’t very good. Maybe it's that they've just been grossly underperforming.

2. Cutler finished with three TD passes and a 112.1 passer rating to Brady's two interceptions and 60.8 rating. Brady didn't have an off night. Miami's defense gave him an off night, forced it on him, with constant pressure and those two picks by Xavien Howard.

3. I'm finally sold on Kenyan Drake, who had 114 yards rushing and 79 receiving. He is fast, elusive, explosive. I thought Miami was dumb to trade top back Jay Ajayi earlier this season. I feel less like that after Monday night.

4. Finally -- finally -- they were ready for the prime-time stage. Before this, Miami has lost 14 of its past 18 games under the lights, including all three this season. The Fins were on a 1-7 skid on MNF. But that changed Monday as the NFL week's biggest underdog, against their longtime nemesis rival, stood up with everybody watching. Impressive.

5. This was a rotten week in South Florida sports, with the Marlins losing superstar Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Monday night made Miami smile. Ah, the power of sports. The power to lift. And to surprise!

Your challenge now: Weigh the elation of Monday night with the whole of the season and vote in the latest Dolphins postgame poll:

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: 79.4%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 79.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of DsmMonday night's 27-20 Dolphins home victory vs. the New England Patriots putting Miami's season record at 6-7. That is the highest positive rating in seven weeks. 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 8:45 a.m. today/Wednesday.

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)

G13: NEW ENGLAND AT DOLPHINS: WILL THE NOT-READY-FOR-PRIMETIME FINS FINALLY SHOW UP UNDER THE LIGHTS?: NE 17-27 (4Q): Brady-White 3-yard pass ... MIA 27-10 (3Q): Cutler-Landry 4-yard pass ... MIA 20-10 (3Q): Cutler-Grant 25-yard pass ... NE 10-13 (2Q): Gostkowski 46-yard FG ... MIA 13-7 (2Q): Cutler-Landry 5-yard pass ... NE 7-6 (2Q): Burkhead 3-yard run ... MIA 6-0 (1Q): Parkey 44-yard FG ... MIA 3-0 (1Q): Parkey 30-yard FG. ... Original post: I’m no slave to trends, friends, but some you simply cannot ignore. They are like a car in a ditch. You can’t help but slow down and rubberneck. One is that few teams in recent history are Nemiabetter in prime time than New England, and few are worse than Miami. Patriots are on a 16-3 run under the lights while Dolphins are on a 4-14 stumble — including 0-3 this season by a combined score of 112-40. Fine-tune that trend even more and find Fins are 1-7 in past eight Monday appearances. That, along with these teams’ overall disparity and a guy named Tom Brady, is why Miami is NFL Week 14's biggest betting underdog at 11 points. And there’s this: Jay Cutler in three career starts vs. NE is 0-3 with five interceptions in losses by 34, 29 and 28 points. These are reasons why the hope borne of last week’s 35-9 Dolphins rout of Denver will prove fleeting as the 10-2 Pats handle the 5-7 Fins at The Rock tonight. But now here are reasons why some hope still exists. Dolphins have beaten Patriots three of the past four meetings in Miami. Brady is below his overall career averages in most every category vs. Miami -- merely quite good, vs. otherworldly. And no Gronk. Wait. One more! Pats visit Steelers next week in a battle for the AFC’s No. 1 seed and may be peeking ahead past the disrespected, easy-to-overlook Dolphins. Bottom line: Do I give Miami much chance to upset New England? Nope. But do I sort of like the Fins getting 11 points? Yep. My pick: New England, 31-23.

StantongTHANKS FOR THE MEMORIES, GIANCARLO: [This item and the poll are carried over from previous blogpost] My column that you'd find here focuses on how the no-trade clause given to Stanton by former owner Jeffrey Loria meant Stanton could get the best deal for himself -- and that the Marlins could not get the best deal for the Marlins. The poll below invites Marlins fans to lay blame for Stanton's departure as they see fit. There has to be room for thanks as well, though. You cannot blame Stanton for the contract he got or the no-trade clause he was given. I honestly believe he wanted to stay; it was the Derek Jeter-led new owners who found his contract beyond their means. I trust Marlins fans will show Stanton the love when he returns in pinstripes. For me, he ranks below only Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade as the great team-drafted star in Miami sports history. Farewell, Giancarlo.

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. MARLINS: Team trades Stanton, Gordon. Merry Christmas, fans!: Marlins fans were still shaking heads over the team trading Dee Gordon to Seattle when the dreaded bombshell hit on Saturday: Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Miami got Starlin Castro and prospects for Stanton but couldn't get the best deal it was offered because Stanton's no-trade clause gave him ultimate control. Call it Jeffrey Loria's final parting gift. 
 
2. DOLPHINS: Fins try to keep (faint) hope alive vs. Patriots Monday: How did Miami, 5-7 and a playoff longshot, become an NFL also-ran team? Try this: Fins have lost 14 of past 18 night games including all three this season and seven of past eight on Monday stage. Somewhere along the line, folks, your Dolphins turned into the Not Yet Ready For Prime-Time Players.
 
3. HEAT: Miami beat Brooklyn in Mexico City: The Heat faced the Nets in Mexico City on Saturday night -- both teams were able to successfully scale Donald Trump's border wall -- and Miami won, 101-89. Given the disappointing, off-playoff-pace seasons both franchises are having thus far, was this a regularly scheduled game ... or were the two teams deported?
 
4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Five days from start of bowl season: Dec. 16 begins the parade of 41 bowl games culminating with the College Football Playoff national championship Jan. 8. This is first time all three South Florida FBS teams have made the postseason the same year, with Miami in the Orange, FAU in the Boca Raton and FIU in the Gasparilla. Gentlemen, start your bowling!
 
5. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes, OB Classic in spotlight: The unbeaten, 10th-ranked Hurricanes men's team returns to action on the road this coming Saturday, the same day the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic featuring No. 5 Florida vs. Clemson and FSU vs. Oklahoma State happens at the Sunrise arena. It'll be so strange, so different, to see exciting action in the building where the NHL Panthers play.
 
6. BASEBALL: Angels land Japanese sensation Ohtani: Baseball winter meetings in Orlando don't start 'til Monday, but the two biggest prizes already have changed uniforms, with the Yankees landing Miami's Giancarlo Stanton after the Angels won the sweepstakes for Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. He is being called the sport's greatest dual threat since Babe Ruth. No pressure or anything!

7. PANTHERS: No defense for Cats' poor start: Florida is 11-18 after Saturday night's 7-3 home loss to Colorado, is eight points off playoff pace, and has given up the second-most goals in the NHL. Cats are off now on a five-game road trip. Probably just as well. Seeing bad hockey on TV is never quite as bad as enduring it in person.

8. HEISMAN TROPHY: Ho hum. It's Mayfield in a rout: Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won college football's biggest individual prize in a rout Saturday, collecting 82.5 percent of the first-place votes. If he has two more wins in him -- over Georgia, then over Clemson or Alabama -- he'll be lifting another pretty nice little trophy as well.

9. SOCCER: Toronto beats Seattle for MLS Cup: Toronto FC handled Seattle 2-0 in the championship match of Major League Soccer. You know MLS. It's the league David Beckham has been trying to get a Miami team into for about the past 45 years. 

10. TIGER WOODS: Comeback Kid to play Honda Classic?: Tiger Woods is back healthy (for now) and competing again in PGA Tour events. He lives on Jupiter Island in Florida. The Honda Classic is around the corner Feb. 22-25 in Palm Beach Gardens, which is about a 20-mile hop from Jupiter Island. Hmm....

Missing the HB10 cut: Hope Solo is running for president of U.S. Soccer. The preceding sentence would be much bigger news if we dropped the word "soccer" ..... The Cavaliers' winning streak ended at 13 games. See. I told ya that LeBron James guy would never amount to anything! ..... Actual Headlines I Never Thought I'd See, But Did: 'Vending Machine Worker and Season Ticket Holder Dresses For Blues as Emergency Goalie' ..... In football, Army beat Navy for the second straight year. It figures. Army is built to perform best on land ..... Soccer superstar Ronaldo said, "I am the best player in history." OK, Pele and Messi, you have my permission to beat the [bleep] out of him.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 09, 2017

Going, going ... GONE! Marlins trade Stanton to Yankees: A farewell, my column and your opinion. New poll. Vote now!

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

1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9. It's the holidays! Which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Gordon with two new polls, NFL Week 14 picks & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New: My column on Marlins trading Stanton to Yankees: Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It to read. Column also is published here, below the poll. Also, click Do We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins? for my previous column, off the Dee Gordon trade.

StantongTHANKS FOR THE MEMORIES, GIANCARLO: My column, now online here, focuses on how the no-trade clause given to Stanton by former owner Jeffrey Loria meant Stanton could get the best deal for himself -- and that the Marlins could not get the best deal for the Marlins. The poll below invites Marlins fans to lay blame for Stanton's departure as they see fit. There has to be room for thanks as well, though. You cannot blame Stanton for the contract he got or the no-trade clause he was given. I honestly believe he wanted to stay; it was the Derek Jeter-led new owners who found his contract beyond their means. I trust Marlins fans will show Stanton the love when he returns in pinstripes. For me, he ranks below only Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade as the great team-drafted star in Miami sports history. Farewell, Giancarlo.

[Stanton-trade poll has been relocated to newer blogpost]

Poll results: You disliked Gordon trade, don't have faith in Jeter: We asked if you liked or disliked the Dee Gordon trade, and it was 80.4 percent "Don't like it." We asked if you trust that Derek Jeter will fix the Marlins and it was 83.3% "No."

STANTON HAD ALL THE POWER -- AND USED IT: MY NEW COLUMN: In the Bronx, Yankees fans are partying like it’s 1927. In South Florida, Marlins fans are stuck feeling the hangover as the reality of this new Derek Jeter-led ownership group kicks in like a boot-toe to the temple. Giancarlo Stanton is headed for pinstripes, joining Aaron Judge to give New York a modern-day Murderer’s Row, shades of that epic ’27 team of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Stanton takes his 59 home runs with him, and the NL MVP award, and what was left of the soul of the Marlins.The new face of the franchise is, by default, that of Jeter, the retired Yankees legend now running the Marlins for new majority owner Bruce Sherman. The face looks different now, though. Jeter is not who we thought he’d be. Can we trust that inscrutable smile? The change has happened fast. This should still be the honeymoon. Spring training hasn’t even started. But, already, Miami fans are wiser now than a couple of months ago, when they cheered Jeter’s arrival and anointment — cheered because Jeter was swathed in success, cheered mainly because of the conviction anybody would be a better owner than the long-loathed and un-dearly departed Jeffrey Loria. We now know that Jeter will be just as unpopular as Loria, though fiscally smarter, and that he doesn’t care what you think.He surely didn’t care that a former Yankees great trading Stanton to his former team would ignite a wildfire of conspiracy theories on social media. Yes, it’s all a grand scheme! “You’re welcome!” says Jeter to the Bronx with a leering smile and a wink. Of course, Miami and Jeter preferred the deals offered by St. Louis and San Francisco, but Stanton invoked his no-trade clause to nix those deals — exercising every bit as much power in this trade process as he did in hitting those 59 homers. But let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory!! Stanton had all the power in this, not the Marlins. That the new owners were hell-bent to dump his contract is what’s sobering. Did you picture Jeter riding in heroically on a white steed, ready to win now, caring about nothing more filling the diamond with talent? Ha. Your naivete is showing. Get real. Trading Stanton to the Yankees, and trading Dee Gordon to Seattle two days before, was zero about the team or winning and everything about dumping payroll, reducing debt and achieving financial stability. Business first, baseball second. Finances first, fans second. This may be bottom-line prudent. This may even work in the long run, the idea of rebooting the franchise from the ground up by regrowing what became a decimated farm system. But that’s also an excuse for frugality, and losing, in the meantime. It is a process that hurts while it happens — hurts like it did Saturday morning when South Florida awoke to the Stanton news. You know how children have their whole lives to prepare for the loss of a parent, to think they are ready for it, but when it comes, it’s still so hard? This isn’t family; it’s only fandom. But the idea is the same. Marlins fans have had a long time to live with the growing assumption-turned-inevitability that Stanton would be traded. But when it happens it still hits like a gut-punch. Losing Stanton the way they did is Loria’s ultimate parting gift to Marlins fans. (Along with grossly overpaying for the likes of Wei-Yin Chen and Martin Prado, bad contracts Miami can’t move, which made divesting of Stanton less an option). Loria gave Stanton the crazy-big contract that was severely back-loaded, and gave him an iron-clad no-trade clause — the only one of those he ever gave. Loria likely knew he’d be gone and that the escalating contract and no-trade clause would be some other owner’s headache. Oh, and it was. The no-trade clause meant the Marlins could not make the best deal for the Marlins. It meant Stanton could make the best deal for Stanton. He had all the power and, just like in hitting all those homers, he used it. Flexed it. The Cardinals offered the Marlins the deal they really wanted. Stanton said nah. The Giants offered a deal Miami liked. Stanton said nope. The Marlins were losing leverage, bleeding leverage, as Stanton narrowed to only four teams he’d be OK with. In effect, he told Jeter, “Make the deal I’m happy with, or be stuck owing me $295 million over the next 10 years.” So the Marlins did the best they could. New York absorbs the bear’s share of that contract and sends Miami all-star second baseman Starlin Castro along with prospects reported to be in the good-not-great category. Miami gets a capable guy to plug in for Gordon. Castro hit .300 last season, with a comparable on-base percentage. He has more power than Gordon, but doesn’t steal bases or bat leadoff or have a great glove. And those added prospects, of course, are a crapshoot. The deal mainly did the one thing the Jeter group most needed it to: Made a huge, onerous contract go away. Now what? Is the payroll slashing done with the Stanton-Gordon quiniela or should Marlins fans still brace for losing Christian Yelich or Marcell Ozuna or others? We can’t know that yet, but we can know this as Derek Jeter moves forward: Business first, baseball second.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 08, 2017

On Marlins' Gordon trade and on Jeter: Two new polls. Vote now!; plus Dolphins-Patriots, other NFL Week 14 picks & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8. It's the holidays! Which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL QB rankings, state-school FBS bowl games by importance, updated SOPY standings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My new column on Gordon trade, Jeter: Click on Do We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins? to read.

ON MARLINS' GORDON TRADE, YOUR FAITH IN JETER: Dee Gordon (.308, 114 runs, MLB-leading 60 stolen bases) is about the perfect leadoff hitter. He is Seattle's now, after the Marlins traded him Thursday for three Mariners prospects including their No. 1 minor-league pitcher, righty starter Nick Neidert. It was a
Djeter Dgordonway to restock the Fish farm system, which is needed. Mostly it was a salary dump, which the new owners fronted by Derek Jeter say is needed as they begin paring the payroll. Is this the beginning of a dismantling, a.k.a. fire sale? We anticipate and brace for a Giancarlo Stanton trade, but Gordon sort of came out of nowhere. Are Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna also on the block? We can't know for sure and Jeter isn't saying. These are apprehensive times, though, for Marlins fans, who longed for Jeffrey Loria to sell the team but may now be mindful of the phrase, "Be careful what you wish for." I explore in my latest column, which lists some of Jeter's public missteps preceding the Gordon trade. Click Do We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins? to read my opinions. Now it's time for yours. Two quick polls here. One one the Gordon trade, the other on Jeter. Weigh in. Vote now.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 14 PICKS: ON DOLPHINS-PATRIOTS AND EXPLOSION OF UPSETS: I call for a crazy seven betting-line upsets in this week's latest NFL predictions. Unfortunately for Miami, Dolphins beating Patriots Monday night ain't one of 'em. Click Week 14 Gems for my full Fins-Pats predix capsule, my Game of the Week (Rams-Eagles), Upset of the Week (Browns-Packers: "Aawwk!") and all the rest. Our week got off to a strong start Thursday night as we accurately called the Falcons' slight home upset win (+1 1/2) over the Saints to begin our serpentine parade of upset picks.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 56.4%; plus Miami clobbers Broncos 35-9 for rare easy win; plus new Hot Button Top 10. Canes' ACC loss, UM-Wisconsin in Orange Bowl, CFP semis on top, but see what else falls where & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 4. Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes get spanked in ACC title game with CSM poll, other State Collball and conference champ-games, your Cooperstown verdict & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Column Dolphins' win over Denver: Click Dolphins Find Needed Joy for my column from Sunday's 35-9 Miami home trouncing of Denver.

Column on Canes' ACC title-game loss: Click Seeing Past the Pain to read. See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 56.4%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 56.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 35-9 Dolphins victory over the Denver Broncos putting Miami's season record at 5-7. 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)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
Next poll: Dec. 11 (following game vs. New England)

G12: DOLPHINS 35, DENVER 9: WELL, SOMEBODY'S LONG LOSING STREAK FINALLY ENDED...: Final: Watch for our column from game online soon ..... 4Q: MIA 35-9: Safety as Bronco tackled in end zone on kickoff return ..... Fins' Verner recovers Miami onside kick ..... MIA 33-9: Cutler-Stills 23-yard pass. Set up by Howard's second INT of game ..... 3Q: Grant 27-yard punt return for Miami as quarter ebbs ..... MIA 26-9: Drake 42-yard run ..... DEN 9-19: Simmons 65-yard interception return, 2-point pass failed .....  And Miami gives the gift right back as Stills loses fumble ..... Big 3rd-down sack by Phillips forces Denver punt, and Fede blocks the kick ..... MIA 19-3: Parkey 37-yard FG. Just when you forget Fasano is still on team, he catches a 29-yard pass to lead to the points .....  Halftime: Halftime tribute honoring Jason Taylor's election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ..... Welp, this is like an offensive onslaught for the low-scoring Fins, although nine points were courtesy the defense. A putrid opponent helps. The Broncos are out-badding the Dolphins ..... 2Q: Cutler intercepted ..... MIA 16-3: Howard 30-yard interception return ..... MIA 9-3: Cutler-Thomas 9-yard TD pass ..... DEN 3-2: McManus 31-yard field goal on 67-yard drive ..... 1Q: MIA 2-0: Safety on Denver bad snap out of end zone ..... McDonald intercepts for Miami. Where the Turnover Chain at? ..... DT Suh 95th straight NFL start today, longest streak in league at that position ..... Penalties big issue for Fins this year. Recall how much pride Shula always took in team not being flagged much. Times have changed ..... Original post: The utter lack of public faith in and respect for the Dolphins shows in the fact Miami opened a negligible 1-point favorite but soon became a 1 1/2-point home underdog as bets flooded toward Denver. Um, that would be a DenmiaDenver team with worse record, on a seven-game losing streak and 0-5 on the road. The Fins’ are on a season-ruining five-game skid of their own, the slump leaving Miami 4-7 to Denver's 3-8, both AFC also-rans. If this matchup were any less watchable it would be banned from television by the FCC. They might not even allow a live audience to watch for fear of mass mental anguish. There are interesting sidelights, though. Dolphins coach Adam Gase was a Denver assistant six years (2009-14) and QB Jay Cutler — starting again after missing one game concussed — began his career a Bronco in 2006-08. Oh, and Denver coach Vance Joseph was Miami’s defensive coordinator last year. But none of these connections are enough to sufficiently hoist this moribund matchup of teams going nowhere and doing very little well. As much as I don’t trust the Dolphins’ offensive line, Miami at home vs. an even-more-dreadful opponent is worth the gamble here. But I still can’t help but think, as I anticipate an epic Trevor Siemien vs. Cutler duel, that this would be a so much more interesting game if the quarterbacks Sunday were John Elway and Dan Marino. I mean them right now. At ages 57 and 56. Playing in business suits and wingtips. My pick: Dolphins, 19-17. [Click Week 13 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 3): 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. HURRICANES: UM routed by Clemson for ACC title, Orange Bowl next: Canes and Clemson faced a Saturday night play-in game for one of four spots in the College Football Playoff, with semifinal matchups set on Sunday. UM went in a big underdog and played like it, losing 38-3. Pretty decent consolation prize upcoming, though: Canes in their home stadium for the Orange Bowl game vs. Wisconsin.
 
2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Conference championships shape final CFP foursome: The College Football Playoff announced its final four teams and two semifinal matchups today: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama and No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia. Big loser: Snubbed Ohio State, which thought it should be fourth. Second big loser: Tough draw for top-ranked Clemson, which likely will be underdog vs. 'Bama.
 
3. DOLPHINS: Sad Fins host Denver in moribund matchup: How's this for a weekend contrast, Miami? First your Hurricanes play Clemson for ACC title and spot in college playoffs. And then your Dolphins host Broncos in a duel of hopelessness between teams with a combined 12 straight losses. Hasn't been a dropoff that sharp since Thelma and Louise drove over the cliff.
 
4. SOCCER: 2018 World Cup sets group play: The 32 qualifying nations were drawn into eight four-team groups for next summer's men's tournament in Russia. But I'm still trying to figure something out so maybe you can explain: The United States and Italy failed to qualify but Iceland got in!? Aurora, Colorado has more people than Iceland. Do they play soccer on skates over there?
 
5. MARLINS: Giants, Yankees, others in play for Stanton: I heard the Marlins have now decided to not trade Giancarlo Stanton and that Miami also will spend big to go after Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. And then I woke up from that dream and it was back to reality. With baseball's winter meetings approaching, Stanton is now like one of his home runs: Going, going ... gone!
 
6. HEAT: As Warriors visit, erratic Heat a mystery even to Spo: Miami, .500 last season, is an up-and-down 11-11 now entering Sunday's huge home test against Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and reigning champion Golden State. Coach Erik Spoelstra says even he doesn't know what to make of his team and can't quite figure 'em out. Hey, we're all right there with you, bud!
 
7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes, Kansas win as expected: No. 10-ranked Miami men routed Princeton 80-52 and No. 2 Kansas handled Syracuse 76-60 in the Hoophall Miami Invitational at the Heat arena Saturday. UM game tipped off at same time as Canes-Clemson in Charlotte. Turns out the basketball Canes had a much better game.
 
8. FAU: Owls win C-USA championship: Lane Kiffin's Owls routed visiting North Texas 41-17 to go 10-3 and win Conference USA crown. Oh, and Butch Davis' FIU Panthers whipped UMass 63-45 to end regular season 8-4. Canes didn't take care of business Saturday, but SoFla's other two FBS teams sure did.
 
9. GOLF: Tiger Woods erratic in latest comeback: He opened with an eye-opening 69, but shot 75 on Saturday and is 10 shots off the pace entering the final round of the Hero World Challenge in Nassau -- his first competitive round in 10 months. Be good again, Tiger. Golf needs you.
 
10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream opens winter meet: The venerable Hallandale racetrack opened its winter season Saturday, with upcoming jewel events to include the Florida Derby and second annual Pegasus World Cup. Get out of the casino and watch an actual horse race, would ya? 
 
Missing the HB10 cut: Florida Panthers: We don't even make your HB top 10!? Me: You're 10-16, Cats. How 'bout you win a little? ..... Jimbo Fisher dumps Florida State and follows the big bucks to Texas A&M. Money aside, is that even a lateral move? ..... Tennessee Vols fired the athletic director over the botched football coach search. He got Schiano'd! ..... Cleveland Cavaliers have won 11 games in a row. It's all Dwyane Wade! ..... It's Seattle and Toronto in the Major League Soccer finals. Meantime it feels like we're getting close to the 10-year anniversary of David Beckham's efforts to bring MLS soccer to Miami ..... Jason Taylor was honored for his Hall of Fame election in a private event at the stadium last night. Hopefully they had a TV on for the UM-Clemson game. Come to think of it, maybe better that they didn't.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 28, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 7.7%. Still in the gutter...; plus Miami falls 35-17 at Patriots; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Canes football column & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27. Hope you had wonderful long Thanksgiving Weekend! 2) See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They drop to a season low. 3) Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall at Pitt with CSM poll, other state Collball, NFL Week 12 picks & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Canes' loss: Perspective, please!: Miami losing at Pitt 24-14 Friday was a bad loss terribly timed. No whitewashing that. But 10-1 is 10-1, and a win over Clemson in the ACC title game next week will give UM a fighting chance to still get back up into the College Football Playoff. Click on One Bad Loss Doesn't Spoil All The Good for my latest column.

Our Dolphins-Pats postgame thoughts: Click on Fins Playoff Hopes, R.I.P. for my quick thoughts on Sunday's Miami loss, and to vote in the latest DSM postgame poll online.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 7.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 7.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday Dsmafternoon's 35-17 Dolphins loss at the New England Patriots putting Miami's season record at 4-7. 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)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
Next poll: Dec. 3 (following game vs. Denver)

G11: DOLPHINS AT NEW ENGLAND: LAST CHANCE FOR MIAMI TO PROVE PLAYOFF HOPE ISN'T DEAD: Final thoughts: Realistic playoff hopes had been on life-support. Today we pulled the plug. Dolphins, now 4-7, were beaten all over the field by their long-running-and-still nemesis rival the Patriots. Not much was happening on offense as Matt Moore was sacked seven times and produced only one touchdown (one came via defense). And the defense despite that TD was mostly awful, allowing Tom Brady a 114 passer rating and four TDs and giving up some 200 yards rushing. A dispiriting season continues ..... NE 35-17 (4Q): Brady-Cooks 5-yard pass ..... MIA 17-28 (4Q): Moore-Drake 8-yard pass ..... NE 28-10 (3Q): Brady-Gronkowski 15-yard pass ..... Halftime thoughts: Dolphins defense is not playing well at all (282 yards allowed), but two takeaways including a fumble-return TD by Reshad Jones are keeping Miami (sort of) in the game. Offense is doing very little as usual, and a late end-zone interception by Matt Moore was a killer. It says much about the state of the Dolphins that we imagine many Dolfans are convincing themselves it isn't that bad to be trailing by "only" 11 ..... MIA 10-21 (2Q): Parkey 28-yard field goal ..... NE 21-7 (2Q): Brady-Burkhead 1-yard pass ..... MIA 7-14 (2Q): Jones 14-yard fumble recovery ..... NE 14-0 (1Q): Brady-Gronkowski 5-yard pass ..... NE 7-0 (1Q): Burkhead 2-yard run ..... We'll have live, as-they-happen score updates here throughout today's game, as well as halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the DSM poll ..... Original post: This is close to about as big as NFL point spreads get -- Patriots by 16 1/2 -- but it isn’t Alabama hosting Font of Tears Bible College. This is King Sport, where anybody (except the Browns, of course) can beat 

Mianeanybody if everything bounces just right. Not saying will. But can. And more so in division rivalries. So I give 4-6 Miami a small-to-medium upset shot at the 8-2 Pats. Fins certainly need the win more, as playoff hopes are looking for a pulse. Both of New England’s 2017 losses have been in not-impenetrable Foxborough, by the way, and Tom Brady has been intercepted more times by Miami in his career (21) than anybody else. Pats swept Fins last season, but Miami beat NE at least once each of the three previous years. Also, Patriots’ pass defense is average, and their run defense might be the worst in the league. The point? Miami, a team good enough to have won in Atlanta, is capable of shaking off four consecutive losses with its performance of the year Sunday. And that is even with Matt Moore starting at QB as Jay Cutler nurses a concussion. This belief is why I like the Dolphins with the points, if not quite outright. I think Miami will show some spine and compete hard Sunday. But there is too much talent shortfall — especially between Brady and Moore — to think Miami will win outright at this venue for the first since 2008. The temperature Sunday up there is forecast for the low 30s. So is the Patriots’ point total, alas. My pick: Patriots, 31-17. [Click Week 12 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: Stunner! No. 2 Canes suffer first loss, await CFP fate: UM loses Friday at Pitt 24-12 in regular-season finale to fall from unbeaten ranks and now, inevitably, to also fall in next College Football Playoff rankings out Tuesday. Miami now must beat Clemson in ACC championship game this coming Saturday and pray that's enough to climb back into CFP top four.
 
2. DOLPHINS: Fins see playoff hopes (all but) expire in loss at Pats: Miami was NFL week's biggest underdog at New England Sunday as a 4-6 Dolphins team tried to shed a four-game losing streak ... and failed, 35-17. Playoff hopes are now on life support and the priest, Father McGillicutty, has been called into the room. 
 
3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: CFP Selection Committee has its work cut out: Chaos! The weekend left a mess for the College Football Playoff rankings with L's by both No. 1 Alabama and 2-Miami. Best guess Clemson, Oklahoma and Wisconsin in the coveted top four for sure, with a two-loss Auburn also likely in.
 
4. HEAT: Hot(ish) Miami prepares to visit LeBron, D-Wade: Team is 10-9 and on a 3-game win streak after winning Sunday in Chicago, and this should be interesting: Tuesday at LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, a.k.a. Cleveland.
 
5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men face first measuring-stick game: Jim Larranaga's guys are 5-0 and ranked No. 11, but season's first litmus test (and first road game) will be Wednesday at No. 14 Minnesota. Is UM top-10-good or just pretty good? Let's begin to find out.
 
6. MARLINS: Jeter continues untethering his regime from past: Derek Jeter got rid of franchise icons like Jeff Conine and Jack McKeon. Now he's gotten rid of popular longtime broadcaster Rich Waltz. The big Fish, Giancarlo Stanton, remains in the boat ... for now.

7. PANTHERS: Cats need to wake up and get on a run: Florida is 8-14 after Saturday's 4-1 home loss to Chicago, and already eight points off playoff pace in the NHL East. First-year coach Bob Boughner better get something going if he wants to become second-year coach Bob Boughner.

8. UCF KNIGHTS: Orlando team stays unbeaten in epic win: Knights are 11-0 after beating rival South Florida Bulls 49-42 to earn spot in American conference title game as QBs Quinton Flowers and McKenzie Milton combined for 876 yards passing. Meanwhile FSU vs. Florida played a stakes-less, anticlimactic bore. What were the odds? 

9. COOPERSTOWN: Baseball hall releases 33-man ballot: Baseball Hall of Fame's 2108 ballot is out, with Chipper Jones and Jim Thome the likeliest of the first-time nominees. The overriding question: Will steroid-era stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, inching up every year in votes, finally get in?

10. SOCCER: Messi signs record extension with Barcelona: Lionel Messi has signed to stay with FC Barcelona at least through the 2020-21 season, when he will be 34. The record-setting deal includes a $59.6 million signing bonus. Put a soccer ball in that crib, Dad.

Missing the HB10 cut: Is Dale Earnhardt Jr. still retired? ..... Derrick Rose saga has new chapter as he leaves Bulls to reevaluate his NBA future? Easy answer: You don't have one ..... Chip Kelly, new UCLA football coach, becomes latest star college coach to fail in the NFL and go running back to the safe haven of Saturdays.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.5%. Season-low approval rating for Fins; plus Miami clobbered in Carolina 45-21 in defensive collapse; also, Canes column, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14. Know any people who are serious Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes crush Notre Dame 41-8 with CSM postgame poll, other state Collball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Hurricanes column: As 9-0 Canes await arrival tonight into the College Football Playoff ranking's top four, we write about the real reason for this season. Click The Mark 'n Manny Show. Also, click Championship In View For Soaring Canes for column from Saturday night huge win over Notre Dame. And, no surprise: Approval rating in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll hit 98.6 percent, another season high. See previous blogpost for details.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 3.5%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 3.5 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Monday night’s 45-21 Dolphins loss at the Carolina Panthers putting Miami's season record at 4-5. That is a new season low. 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 8:45 a.m. today/Wednesday.

 

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)

G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)

G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)

G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)

Next poll: Nov. 19 (following game vs. Tampa Bay)

G9: CAROLINA 45, DOLPHINS 21: OK YOU SAW WHAT THE CANES JUST DID, FINS. WHAT YOU GOT? NUTHIN'!:  Our five takeaways from Monday night’s 45-21 Dolphins loss at Carolina: 1) With Miami 4-5 after a third straight loss, please do not mention the phrase “playoff contention” again until you hear otherwise. You cannot rely on either offense or defense As ESPN’s Jon Gruden put it Monday night, Miami “is perhaps the most inconsistent team I‘ve seen in a while.” 2) We knew the offense was among the NFL’s worst. But we thought the defense was OK, maybe even pretty good. Until now. Carolina totaled 548 yards of offense, including 294 rushing (and 8.2 per carry). Embarrassing. 3) Not Yet Ready For Prime-Time Players. Dolphins just became the first team ever to play three consecutive prime-time games and lose them all. 4) Miami remains the only team in the league to not score a rushing touchdown this season. Larry Csonka and Ricky Williams are spinning in their graves, and they aren’t dead yet. 5) Game-turning play: Fins were headed into halftime down only 10-7, then Jay Cutler through a bonehead interception from his own end that set up Carolina for a 17-7 lead. It was over from there ..... In- game: MIA 21-45 (4Q): Landry 9-yard pass from Cutler ..... CAR 45-14 (3Q): Funchess 32-yard pass from Newton ..... CAR 38-14 (3Q): McCaffrey 2-yard pass from Newton ..... MIA 14-31 (3Q): Drake 66-yard run ..... CAR 31-7 (3Q): Artis-Payne 12-yard run ..... CAR 24-7 (3Q): Funchess 28-yard pass from Newton ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami down in total yards 220-118 but a fairly even half except for the late, dumb Jay Cutler interception that gifted Carolina an easy TD ..... CAR 17-7 (2Q): Dickson 7-yard pass from Newton ..... MIA 7-10 (2Q): Thomas 2-yard pass from Cutler ..... CAR 10-0 (2Q): McCaffrey 4-yard run ..... CAR 3-0 (1Q): Gano 40-yard FG ..... Live blog tonight will mean as-they-happen score updates, halftime and postgame thoughts, then the DSM postgame poll ..... Original post: The Dolphins have lost two in a row, and there are no pity-points for improved effort or barely losing to Oakland 27-24 last week as what had been a comatose Miami offense finally showed a pulse. Fins still must prove they 

Miacar1can play a complete, complementary game with all cylinders pumping, and if they don't do it Monday night in Charlotte that would make it 0-for-3 in consecutive prime-time showcases. I give Miami a big chance here -- certainly against the spread, getting 10 points. Dolphins may be a shaky .500 at 4-4, but the Panthers' 6-3 mark Miacar2wobbles a bit, too. Cam Newton's passer rating actually is a fair bit worse than Jay Cutler's (78.4 to 87.4), thanks to Cam's 11 interceptions, tied for most in the league. The Cats are minus-8 overall on turnovers, fourth-worst in the NFL. Miami also has the benefit of safety T.J. McDonald's debut after serving an eight-game league suspension for substance abuse. Carolina's defense, though, is really stout -- much better than what Cutler picked apart last week vs. Oakland. And it doesn't help that Fins right tackle Ja'Wuan James is now on injured reserve. Also the Monday night stage, though diminished, still tends to magnify a home-field advantage. The good news? I'd bet on a close game, Miami-plus-points, and an outright upset would not shock. The bad news? I need to see a solid, four-quarter performance by the offense and defense in synch before the Dolphins earn my trust to conjure another major road upset like what they pulled off in Atlanta. My pick: Carolina, 24-17.

 

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 crushes Notre Dame, stakes championship intentions: Canes crushed Fighting Irish 41-8 Saturday, clinched a spot in ACC title game and made case to leap from No. 7 into College Football Playoff top four. For me, other than the five national-championship wins, the last in 2001 -- maybe the greatest night in UM football history. #TurnoverChain

2. DOLPHINS: Miami crushed at Carolina on Monday Night Football: Fins had lost two games in a row on Thursday night (at Baltimore) and Sunday night (vs. Oakland) and now gave Monday a shot in last chance to avoid being first team ever to lose three consecutive prime-time games. Didn't work.

3. NASCAR: Six days 'til Championship Sunday at Homestead: Sunday's penultimate race in Phoenix finalized the Championship Four for this Sunday's run at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It'll be Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex and Brad Keselowski racing for season crown. As many eyes, though, will be on Dale Earnhardt Jr. in his last race before retiring.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: CFP committee ready to shuffle top four: With No. 1 Georgia, 3-Notre Dame and 6-TCU all losing Saturday, Miami should leap 7-to-4 -- at least -- in Tuesday's new College Football Playoff ranking. New No. 1 figures to be Alabama ... unless Miami Hurricanes fans commandeer the votes. Would not shock to see Canes second behind only 'Bama.

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women both open season 2-0: No. 13 UM men routed Gardner-Webb 77-45 in Friday's season opener behind Bruce Brown's triple-double while Canes women beat FIU 77-69 led by Mykea Gray's 27 points, then both won again Sunday. Men's team plays under cloud of that FBI investigation into college recruiting, but winning is a diversion, at least.

6. MARLINS: Stanton trade speculation gains traction: Fish confirmed Don Mattingly would return as manager but remain noncommittal on slugger Giancarlo Stanton as assumption grows that they'll trade him, with Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants and Phillies out front among reported suitors. Dear Marlins: Small request. Get (a lot) more for Stanton than you got for Miguel Cabrera.

7. HEAT: Must we get used to being average?: Miami is 6-7 after Sunday's loss in Detroit, after finishing right at .500 last season. Long season, folks. And it's looking like another thrilling fight for that seventh or eighth seed. Pardon the attitude. The Big 3 years spoiled me.  

8. PANTHERS: Florida sinks to bottom of East: Cats are 5-11 after loss in New Jersey and in last place in the NHL's Eastern Conference. Either the club will show patience seldom associated with the Panthers, or rookie coach Bob Boughner may be on the edge of trouble.  

9. FIU: Panthers fall at home: FIU was an upset loser to Old Dominion 37-30 Saturday but still is an impressive 6-3 under first-year coach Butch Davis, though overshadowed by UM's unbeatenness. I mean, what were the odds FIU would today have as many wins as the Seminoles and Gators combined?

10. BASEBALL: Japanese phenom headed to America: Touted Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani will be in Major League Baseball starting in 2018. hailed as perhaps the greatest two-way player since Babe Ruth. Hey, no pressure or anything, Shohei!

Missing the HB10 cut: Free man O.J. Simpson has been banned from the Cosmopolitan hotel-casino in Vegas over alleged drunken, belligerent behavior. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Lonzo Ball's younger brother was among UCLA players arrested for shoplifting in China. Does the Bruins defense get statistical credit for those steals? ..... Bulletin: Ezekiel Elliott's suspension is back on, pending another 47 appeals ..... On behalf of Richard Sherman and his Achilles, can we finally abolish Thursday Night Football? Please? ..... R.I.P., Roy Halladay. And a slap in the face to those Boston radio idiots who made light of the private plane crash that took his life ..... What the hell did you start, Harvey Weinstein? Now Louis C.K., too? Keep it in your pants, fellas. Y'all are giving men a bad name, by which I mean even worse than usual.

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

Twitter @gregcote

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 06, 2017

On Cam Newton and women sports writers; plus Panthers launch 24th NHL season looking for reboot; also, NFL Week 5 predix for Dolphins-Titans and the rest, World Series poll (vote now) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6. 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): Dolphins pegged for 3-13, Derek Jeter takes over, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald's NFL QB rankings, SOPY Week 5 standings, top SoFla baseball draft prospects & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Cam Newton and women sports writers: Cam found it "funny" to hear a "female" asking a question about pass routes. Here's a few words about women sports writers from someone who actually respects them and what they put up with. Click on Here's What I Find Funny, Cam.

On Derek Jeter taking over as Marlins frontman: The new boss makes no promises on payroll or Giancarlo Stanton's future or anything else, but believes he has the reputation and cache' to convince Marlins fans whatever he does will be right. Read Jeter Betting On Jeter for this week's column.

HOCKEY, EH! PANTHERS OPEN 24TH NHL SEASON TONIGHT LOOKING FOR REBOOT: Strange franchise, this one. Panthers have not won a playoff series since 1996, by far the longest drought in the NHL. They are coming off a disappointing season that got two coaches (head and interim) fired. They are judged Boughnerthe only 25th best of 31 teams in ESPN's current hockey Power Rankings. And yet! There is a great feel of optimism around Nhlthe Panthers. Much enthusiasm that GM Dale Tallon is back in charge, that Bob Boughner (pronounced boog-ner) seems a great coaching hire, and that the young core of rising stars led by Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad -- the Kiddie Cats -- is ready for a breakout season. Tallon (pictured with his new coach) thinks this team is faster, more skilled and grittier than last year's. They lost a 30-goal scorer (Jonathan Marchessault) in the expansion draft and parted ways with popular legend Jaromir Jagr, but the dressing room brims with confidence as the team opens the season tonight in Tampa, and then at home Saturday also vs. the Lightning. Just two years ago the Panthers won the division and set a club record with 103 standings points, before last year's tumultuous nightmare. Can Boughner help them recapture that? Click on Back On Track & Ready To Roar for my Panthers season preview column.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 5 PICKS: DOLPHINS (HOME AT LAST) HANDLE TITANS: Miami plays its second-latest-ever home opener Sunday vs.  Tennessee as a three-point home underdog but should pull off the needed win, even if questionable Marcus Mariota ends up playing. Click on Week 5 Gems for our predix-capsules on Dolphins-Titans, our Game of the Week (Packers-Cowboys), Upset of the Week (Vikings-Bears: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game. Our week got off to a mixed start last night. Had Patriots winning in Tampa; they did. But had them covering 5 1/2 points; they narrowly did not in a 19-14 game, that late Bucs TD a killer for me.

Mlb17BASEBALL POSTSEASON: AND YOU HOPE [FILL IN BLANK] WINS THE WORLD SERIES?: While Derek Jeter sets out to fix the Marlins and fans of the wild-card losing Twins and Rockies wonder if they actually were in the playoffs at all, the surviving eight teams begin their October hunt for World Series rings. The two AL division series start today, with the NL launching Friday. Even if your favorite team didn't make it this far, chances are you have a rooting interest. Maybe a rooting against interest? Or perhaps your wishes are steered by a wager? If you're neutral, here's our Misery Index to help steer you, with the teams ranked based on how long each fandom has waited since last cheering a World Series championship. I'm a Red Sox fan (dating to Yaz and Impossible Dream '67), but if I had no dog in the hunt, how could I not root for Cleveland to end its drought?

MISERY INDEX: Team, years waiting since most recent World Series championship: Indians 69 years (1948); Astros 55 years (none since 1962); Dodgers 29 years (1988); Diamondbacks 16 years (2001); Nationals 12 years (none since 2005 as Washington Nats); Yankees 8 years (2009); Red Sox 4 years (2013); and Cubs 1 year (2016).

Betting odds before the start of play showed the Indians (9-4) and Dodgers (5-2) as virtual co-favorites. Then it's Astros 6-1, Red Sox 9-1, Cubs and Nationals both 10-1, and Diamondbacks and Yankees the longshots at 14-1 each. Back to our Misery Index, the serious droughts are by the Indians (four times in the World Series since last winning, including 2016); the Astros (in the WS only once, losing in 2005); and the Dodgers (not back in it since last winning). Who would you most like to see win the World Series? Our poll is alphabetical based on city name. Vote now:

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

Twitter @gregcote