January 21, 2016

Marlins, rising: As spring nears, the team you love to hate is earning back your trust; plus who is NBA's greatest center of all-time? Poll. Vote!; also, Kiper downgrades Dolphins, Heat and Panthers' simultaneous slump, Sarah Palin & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 21. I'm back at Friday Page HQ today working up my NFL Championship-Round picks. Oy vey. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-at-midseason grades, the onus on Ryan Tannehill, NFL Divisional pix results, 'MLK Ride-Out' idiocy, Glenn Frey & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Nice that Dolphins Jarvis Landry and Branden Albert are now in Pro Bowl, but brag quietly. Being added as late alternate is like getting asked to the prom only because other girls said no." --Greg Cote

DeegordonBULLETIN: THE MARLINS ARE EARNING BACK YOUR TRUST: Spring training is now less than a month away (players begin to report Feb. 19) and it's an interesting time for your usually disappointing and oft-vilified Miami Marlins. The team that has let you down with an unpopular owner, low spending, fire sales, instability and a lengthy playoff Donmattingly
Chendrought has had a smart, strategic offseason and seems finally to have settled on a clear direction. The Marlins, in short, may be earning back your trust again. That is the theme of my latest column as baseball begins to loom again into view. Click on Marlins, Rising to read in full. The Marlins spent big this winter to hire a credible, proven manager in Don Mattingly, to sign a legit free-agent starting pitcher in Wei-Yin Chen, and to extend the contract of all-star second baseman Dee Gordon. (Gordon, Chen and Mattingly are pictured). That piggybacks onto the long-term extension for Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to give a sense that the club is committing to a core group and finally building stability. I know, we have been hopeful before only to be let down. Believe me, early Twitter response to my column has been largely negative because of this climate. Trusting the Marlins has become sort of a drinking-the-Kool-Aid kind of thing. Marlins fans are scarred. And having Jeffrey Loria and David Samson out front as the faces of the franchise is the opposite of ideal. But the Marlins are fostering hope again by action, not claim. Marlins fans can feel pretty again again as the '16 seasons draws near.

NbarankCENTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: WHO IS NBA'S GREATEST CENTER OF ALL-TIME?: ESPN's #NBArank series today names its top 10 NBA centers of all time. (Sorry, Miami. No Hassan Whiteside). Their list is in order, 1 through 10. But I don't want to prejudice the jury with ESPN's opinion, so in my poll I am listing their choices alphabetically. Vote for your top three (3) by whatever critera you choose and from that we'll arrive at a consensus. Check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3)

KiperKIPER (SLIGHTLY) DOWNGRADES DOLPHINS' '15 DRAFT: ESPN's Mel Kiper (pictured), with time on his hands between mock drafts, today re-grades the 2015 draft of every NFL team, and he adjusts Miami's grade from a B down to a C-plus. His explanation: "In my post-draft grades I noted that DeVante Parker was one of my favorite picks of Round 1, and they didn't have to move to get their guy. I could have seen him going with any of the four picks ahead of Miami. It was only at the end of the season, however, that we saw Parker start to show off what he's capable of. If he's healthy, he can be special. Jordan Phillips worked his way into the rotation and we also got a glimpse of Jay Ajayi, but it's fair to call the early returns underwhelming, especially when the team took a step back overall. A healthy Parker changes that going forward." Mel's re-grades for the other AFC East teams all were up slightly, Patriots from B-minus to A, Jets A-minus to A and Bills C-minus to B.

ONE'S IN SNEAKERS AND ONE ON SKATES, BUT HEAT, PANTHERS BOTH FIZZLING IN LOCKSTEP: That good feeling our NBA and NHL teams carried into the new year didn't last long. Suddenly
Gallant Dwadeboth teams are slumping just past midseason and looking for fast answers. (Dwyane Wade and Panthers coach Gerard Gallant are pictured). Miami Heat: That hoped-for Eastern finals vs. Cleveland could still happen, but a current 2-7 slump since Jan. 6 after last night's loss has made it seem remote. Wracked by injuries and inconsistency (The I's have it!), Miami has fallen to seventh place and now faces four more road games in a row. A fan's thoughts have veered from comeuppance vs. LeBron to, "Can you just make the playoffs, please?" Florida Panthers: The Cats have chased their club-record 12-game winning streak with a four straight losses during which they are 0-for-12 on power plays. The division lead has frittered to three points, and the next game, Friday here, is vs. a Chicago team that itself has won 12 games in a row. Who'd they better call? Slump Busters! And fast.

Poll results: Heat performance at midseason seen as average to below average: We invited your midseason letter grade (A,B, C or D) for the Heat relative to your preseason expectations, and most, 55.6 percent, gave it a C for average. However the below average D's (26.8%) outpolled the above average B's (16.4%) and the excellent A's (1.2%).

PALIN ENDORSES TRUMP. THIS IS SERIOUS, RIGHT? YOU BETCHA!: [Note: This is a mostly sports blog but one that also delves into pop culture and politics. Even having said that, let me fire a Dailynewspreemptive strike to get ahead of the curve: "STICK TO SPORTS!!!!!"] OK when I heard the news yesterday that Sarah Palin had endorsed Donald Trump for president, the initial thought was, "With friends like these..." I mean, does Trump or any candidate benefit from or even want the public backing of the person who single-handedly cost John McCain a legitimate shot at the presidency because, as his VP-candidate running mate, she was a such a national punchline and laughingstock? Conservatives will argue the New York Daily News front page today is just more of the liberal media doing its thing. Fair enough. But the illustration also represents a lot of people who are incredulous that Trump thinks Palin helps him beyond appealing to the voters he already appeals to. If I were the RNC I would be concerned about the short-sightedness of this. Yes, Palin's endorsements may help Trump in Iowa in a contested primary vs. Ted Cruz. But beyond? At some point the Republican frontrunner Trump needs to think nationally and about how to win a general election vs. Hillary Clinton (still likely) or Bernie Sanders. That is where an endorsement by Palin -- let alone a place in his administration -- may hurt Trump as he attempts to woo wavering Democrats and undecideds. Of course that's just my opinion. I may be wrong. 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 14, 2016

And with eighth overall draft pick, the Dolphins select ... Mel Kiper's pick for Miami here; plus what winning Powerball would buy you in sports, CFP 2017 title odds for Canes, Fins' and Marlins' big moves, Marlins caskets & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 14. Back up at Friday Page HQ today working up my NFL Divisional Round playoff picks. Where my coin at !? 2) Goran Dragic has serious hamstring strain, will miss at least three Heat games. 3) Lawrence Phillips died in prison yesterday of an apparent suicide while serving time for the murder of a cellmate after originally being jailed for domestic abuse. He was the sixth overall pick of the 1996 NFL draft and flamed out of the league by '99. His was wasted talent, a wasted life. What a shame. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Insomniac's Dream with 'Bama-Heat-Panthers, R.I.P. David Bowie, CFP championship polls, our NFL wild-card results, your Adam Gase verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

KIPER'S FIRST '16 MOCK DRAFT: ANOTHER SHAQ IN MIAMI'S FUTURE: ESPN guru Mel Kiper is ahead of the curve today with his first NFL Mock Draft, and he has Miami selecting Clemson DE ShaqlawsonShaq Lawson (pictured) in the first round, eighth overall. The Kipe's nugget on the pick: "Lawson led college football in tackles for loss with 25.5, and Miami should add another edge rusher because Olivier Vernon is about to become extremely expensive if he can even be kept around as an unrestricted free agent. Lawson is just extremely consistent in his ability to beat tackles and makes plays." Also notable: Kiper predictably has Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (from St. Thomas Aquinas) going No. 1 overall. He has  no Canes in the first round but one Seminole (DB Jalen Ramsey, fifth overall) and one Gator (CB Vernon Hargreaves, ninth). He pegs three QBs as 1R: Cal's Jared Goff, second; Memphis' Paxton Lynch, 15th; and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz, 22nd). I can see Miami interest in Lawson. The Dolphins' specific targeted position priority may be linebacker, but that could be problematic in the '16 draft picking eighth. Two of the top three LBs (UCLA's Myles Jack, Notre Dame's Jalen Smith) are coming off major knee injuries; Kiper has Jack going 10th and Smith 20th. Another name to keep an eye on for Miami: Alabama LB Reggie Ragland.

Zamboni PowerballWHAT WINNING THE POWERBALL COULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU IN SPORTS: In today's latest column I calculate what a single winner of last night's Powerball lottery would actually have taken home in cash, and what that might have bought in the world of sports. How many major-league baseballs, how many Zamboni machines, how many Super Bowl trophies. Also, what franchises in the BIg Four sports you could have afforded to buy. Hint: There are 15. Click on Powerball and Sports to read the column.   

Um66-1BECAUSE IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLACE YOUR BETS, THAT'S WHY: Fans in Tuscaloosa haven't even sobered up yet but the betting odds are out for the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship, via Bovada. Alabam is the favroite to repeat at 7-1, a half-tick ahead of the team it just best, Clemson, at 15-2. Then it's a trio at 12-1: Baylor, Michigan and Ohio State. Looking to our peninsula, Florida State Seminoles are 10th at 16-1, Florida Gators are tied for 14th at 33-1, and Miami Hurricanes are tied for 30th at 66-1. A big-time coach hire in Mark Richt and a returning star quarterback in Brad Kaaya obviously have not raised the estimation of UM all that much, although I'd be surprised if that 66-1 didn't fall as the seasons nears.

ON DOLPHINS' AND MARLINS' BIG MOVES: Fins: Gase fills in staff: New coach Adam Gase this week completed most of his staff, notably including the hiring of defensive coordinator Vance Vancejoseph ChenJoseph, who' d been the Bengals defensive backs coach. Joseph (pictured left) has not been a coordinator before, just as Gase has not been a head coach before, so both must earn our faith. It isn't given. As I first wrote after the Gase hiring (before it apparently became trendy and was seen echoed elsewhere): "Prove you can fix all of this, and you’ll be a conquering hero. But prove it first, please, because we have been here before, seen this, done this. Another news conference proclaiming another culture. Another declaration how they got the right coach this time. Don’t tell me [again] how it’s different this time. How this is the right coach and the winning is at hand. Do it first. Win. Then talk to me." Fish: Team extends Gordon, signs Chen and two others: Wei-Yin Chen (pictured right) is a legit starter, the likely No. 2 after Jose Fernandez, leaving only 3-through-5 in the rotation to worry about (!). Edwin Jackson may get a shot to resurrect his career as a starter or appear in middle relief. Chris Johnson will be a utility guy as a corner infielder. None of these additions is a difference maker, although the Chen signing is significant. Also, extending second baseman Dee Gordon's contract by five years and $50 million is big. Gordon, NL batting champion, is one of the few things that went right for the Fish last season, and he's a cornerstone moving forward.

MarlinscasketSLIP INTO A MIAMI MARLINS CASKET: Have a loved one dying to prove for all eternity that he or she is the ultimate Marlins fan? Then here is the perfect parting gift. Yes, there are MLB-licensed caskets, and the Marlins version is pictured. For a mere $2,559 (available at Walmart, of all places), your loved one can rest in peace with a Marlins logo embossed in satin staring him or her in the face as the casket is lowered into the earth. Talk about a fitting tribute. Also buried in a Marlins casket: the team's playoff hopes, most seasons.

Poll results: You predicted Alabama, but wanted Clemson: In separate polls we asked who you predicted to win the CFP national-championship game and it was 56.2 percent Alabama. We asked who you wanted to win and it was 84.2% Clemson. Clearly, the Saban Effect at work.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas! Which of our Big 5 teams is inspiring the most optimism and closest to being really good? Pick the top 2. New poll. Vote now!; plus Reshad Jones' Pro Bowl snub, Dolphins/NFL Week 16 pix & more

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

Xmas1) It is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 25. MERRY CHRISTMAS! 2) Click on Week 16 Gems  Thursday Gem for tonight's Chargers-Raiders pick. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose in San Diego with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, your 2016 Cooperstown ballot & more. 4) ICYMI, click on The Miami 25 for my ranking of the 25 biggest current names in South Florida sports. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Heat win holiday game: Heat today beat New Orleans 94-88 in OT at the bayside arena behind Chris Bosh's 30 points and Hassan Whiteside's 17 rebounds and four blocks.

OptimismWHICH OF OUR BIGGEST SPORTS TEAMS IS CLOSEST TO BEING REALLY GOOD?: Who is inspiring the most optimism right now among Greater Miami's Big 5 teams: Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Florida Panthers or Canes football? The timing is right to ask as 2015 segues to '16. Also, the Dolphins, Heat and Panthers are in-season, UM plays its bowl game on Saturday, and Marlins spring training will be here before you know it. Whose team's fans should be feeling the best, today, and about the near-term future. Take a dip in our poll, vote for your top two, and say why you voted as you did.

Vote for the top two:

ReshadjonesMIKE POUNCEY IN, BUT MOST-DESERVING-DOLPHIN RESHAD JONES SCREWED OUT OF PRO BOWL: Conference-less Pro Bowl "captains" and selectors Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin have some 'splainin' to do. Only center Mike Pouncey made the Pro Bowl foer the Dolphins in the announcement show tonight on NFL Network. He's marginally deserving. But strong safety Reshad Jones (pictured) is -- clearly -- the only Dolphin who should have been automatic. He got screwed. Point-blank. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and receiver/returner Jarvis Landry had a case. But Jones ... man. More than a hundred tackles, five interceptions (two returned for TDs), a couple of sacks. So much has gone wrong this Dolphins season. Jones has gone right. He should be Hawaii-bound. He could still make it as an alternate for somebody who is injured or fakes an injury to miss the game, but it won't be the same. Jones got passed over. And it feels wrong. It also feels like a guilt-by-association thing. Miami is lousy at 5-9; hence, one Pro Bowl pick. Carolina is unbeaten and has an astronomical 10 picks. Pro Bowl selections do not always fairly represent a team's talent level or popularity. Often they are a reflection of the team's season. Jones is a victim of that.

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 16 PICKS: Split start to our week Thursday night as we the Raiders won but failed to cover. Click on Week 16 Gems for all of our remaining latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins defeat visiting Saints; Arizona holds off Green Bay in Game of the Week; and Jets upend Patriots in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on Dolphins in the Misery Index for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with our updated Fan Misery Index, quantifying -- and justifying -- why Dolfans probably feel so disappointed this holiday season.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 15 RESULTS: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's
FripixLobos fantasy teams: Pix: Good. Solid: We niftied a 12-4 mark overall and a solid 9-6-1 against the spread, with Houston-Indy off the board when we played it. Called Redskins' outright (mini) upset over Buffalo, and rightly had Giants-with-points over Carolina in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Greg's Lobos / family league: Loss in consolation bracket. Ugh: The original Lobos lost 127-109 in our playoff's consolation round despite 27 points from Drew Brees. We're now 6-9 on the year including postseason. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Congrats to champion Mike's Lobos!: The LeBatard Show's Greg's Lobos walloped Dan 221-102 in our two-round consolation playoffs, but the big news was Mike's Lobos whipping Charlie's Lobos 279-255 for the inaugural Lobos Fantasy League championship. We are all Lobos! Literally. Bowl grand finale.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 22, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.4%; plus Radio Tuesday, Fins sink to 5-9, Hot Button Top 10, ranking Miami's 25 biggest current sports figures, your Cooperstown verdict & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22. Click on Week 15 Gems for all of our NFL Week 15 picks. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot and vote, Dolphins/NFL Week 15 picks, Pete Rose verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz today, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Ticket Miami (790) and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, simulcasting on ESPNU and Fusion TV. I'll have a new blogpost here post-show, by mid- to late-afternoon.

"Would I trade Ryan Tannehill for Drew Brees, who is about to turn 37 and is five years past his prime? If drunk, perhaps." --Greg Cote

Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures: I rank the biggest-name Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers and Hurricanes, an impossible task, but somebody had to do it. Click on The Miami 25 to read the column and see the list.

Our Dolphins-Chargers postgame thoughts: Find them below, just after the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 5.4 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-14 loss at San Diego putting Miami's season record at 5-9. The DSM, in its eighth year, 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 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Game 12: 17.3% (following 15-13 victory vs. Baltimore)

Game 13: 6.2% (following 31-24 loss  to N.Y. Giants)

Game 14: 5.4% (following 30-14 loss at San Diego)

Next poll: Dec. 27 (following game vs. Indianapolis)

G14: SAN DIEGO 30, DOLPHINS 14: PLAYING OUT THE STRING: Postgame thoughts: Man, the Dolphins just suck. I hate to say it. San Diego had lost five straight home games.  Before today. Hadn't scored a rushing TD since Week 1. Until today. Had gone 11 straight games without rushing for 100 yards. Until today. Miami has turned into the remedy for other teams -- the opponent you want to play. Very little offense today and not nearly enough defense. Same old story. And this was a bad opponent, remember. Wasted season. ..... Halftime: Embarrassment! Low keeps getting lower for Miami's season. ryan Tannehill only 74 yards passing at the half. Run game with 13 yards on 10 carries. Meanwhile the pass-D has been scorched for 203 yards by Philip Rivers. Unless you believe in miracles, and I doubt you do by now, Miami is headed for 5-9. ..... Pregame: I'll be updating the score live and be back with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the DSM. ..... Original post: God, this is what the Dolphins have become. A 5-8 Fins team playing at a 3-10 Chargers team in the only NFL Week 15 game in Finsboltswhich both teams are mathematically, scientifically and theologically eliminated from playoff contention. The only scintilla of drama we’ll find Sunday at 4:25 p.m. in San Diego is that the final road game of the year for Miami could be the last home game ever for Chargers fans, with the franchise plotting a move to new digs in Carson, Calif., south of L.A. That should add an element of emotion that could bolster the Bolts, while, oppositely, flying cross-country on a short week (after playing Monday night) figures as a detriment for the Fins. Yes, certain trends favor the visitors here. Miami has won nine of past 11 in occasional series, including 37-0 last season, and Diego has dropped five home games in a row. Also, Chargers have been held to three points in each of their past three losses. I have a hunch, though, that Philip Rivers’ offense will find its remedy in a Dolphins defense that has allowed 36, 33 and 38 points in three of its past four road games. If this is farewell, San Diego, Chargers will go out a winner, at least. My pick: San Diego, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Welcome to Miami: Basketball Town USA: Remember when this was a football town? Might be again someday. Isn't at the moment. Saturday alone, the No. 15-ranked Hurricanes men improved to 9-1, the No. 23 UM women narrowly were beaten by No. 4 Baylor 88-81 for their first loss, and Florida and FSU were winners here in the four-team Orange Bowl Classic. Hoop City!

2. HEAT: Riley denies team is shopping Whiteside: As the Heat hosts Portland on Sunday, speculation the team might trade young center Hassan Whiteside is "B.S.," said club president Pat Riley. Which may or may not be execu-speak for, "We haven’t heard a good enough offer yet."

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Six days to UM bowl game as postseason parade begins: Saturday saw the first six of 42 bowl games, with the Miami Beach Bowl coming up Tuesday and the Hurricanes set to face Washington State this coming Saturday (though without new coach Mark Richt) in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex. That’s so close to the border you can see Mexico. Well, unless Donald Trump’s wall is already up.

4. PANTHERS: Red-hot Cats open homestand: Florida has skated to three wins in a row and nine in past 12 games and now begins a six-game homestand Sunday vs. Vancouver. Yet despite all the recent winning the Panthers are on the far edge of playoff contention, eighth in the East. Man, you tough with those postseason tickets, Lord Stanley!  

5. DOLPHINS: Fins in San Diego as another disappointing season ebbs: Miami visits the Chargers on Sunday, playing out the string after Monday’s loss to the Giants eliminated Fins from playoffs for a seventh season in a row. "Grandpa, tell me again what it was like when the Dolphins were good!"

6. PETE ROSE: Purgatory continues as bid for reinstatement is denied: Banned from baseball since 1989 for gambling, all-time hits leader Pete Rose remains ostracized with this week’s ruling. Of course, the Hall of Fame independently could still put Rose on its ballot, but that’d make too much sense.

7. NBA: Cavs, Warriors on Christmas Day: It's the gift NBA fans will all unwrap together. There are five NBA games on Christmas but one of interest: Cleveland at Golden State, LeBron James at Steph Curry in a likely Finals preview. Hopefully LeBron isn't too "tired" to play. 

8. MARLINS: Miami conspicuously absent from MLB's Cuba goodwill trip: MLB made its first trip to the island since 1999 with a goodwill tour including clinics, and participants included former Cuban defectors such as Yasiel Puig. Notably, the team closest to Cuba did not participate. See, it isn't true. The Marlins do occasionally do something smart!

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis star named SI's Sportsperson of the Year: Easy to defend Sports Illustrated's choice of Serena, who dominated women's tennis, although golfer Jordan Spieth had an argument. Also, I wonder if SI forgot that American Pharoah ended horse racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought?

10. STAR WARS: The Force Awakens sets box-office records: The new Star Wars film raked in some $250 million in its opening few days. More people have already seen the film than will  attend every NFL game on Sunday. It's good for sports to be humbled every once in a while, right?

Missing the cut: Carolina Panthers go for 14-0 today. Champagne ready, '72 Fins? ... Suspended Florida QB Will Grier is transferring. Later, Gator ... Wonder how the NHL likes that its leading scorer, Patrick Kane, was investigated for sexual assault? ... NBA referee Bill Kennedy comes out as gay after a gay slur from Rajon Rondo ... Four major amateur golf tournaments are underway in South Florida ... Duran Duran will perform at the tennis Miami Open on Key Biscayne. Which would be exciting if this were, like, the 1985 Miami Open ... President Obama congratulated retiring soccer star Abby Wambach on a great career. Republicans demanded equal time, argued it wasn't so great ... Ray Rice still wants to play. Sure, because there's a lot of demand for aging running backs who both punched their girlfriend and averaged 3.1 per carry ... LeBron James collided courtside with the wife of golfer Jason Day and was assessed a two-stroke penalty.

Poll result: Griffey Jr. leads your 2016 Hall of Fame inductees: We asked who you'd vote into Cooperstown from among 12 top contenders on the latest ballot, and your top five were Ken Griffey Jr. with 18.6 percent, Mike Piazza 11.9%, Roger Clemens 10.8%, Barry Bonds 10.2% and Curt Schilling 9.2%. Based on the mentions per ballots cast, only Griffey's support translated to the 75 percent mininum required by the Hall of Fame.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 13, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10 with Fins, Heat, college football, Fish, Cats, Warriors, prep champs, soccer, money, Canes hoops; plus my Dolphins at 50 column, faith in Tannehill eroding & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Faith in Ryan Tannehill poll, Dolphins/NFL Week 14 picks, Trump/Doral and PGA Tour, strength of Serena, Heat at quarter-mark verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins at 50: My latest column: I attended Friday night's lavish Dolphins 50th Anniversary gala in Hollywood and it informs my latest Sunday column on how this franchise is so much better at celebrating its past than it is creating new glory days for its fans. Click on Yesterday Is Great, But What About Tomorrowto read it in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 13): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: 50th anniversary celebrated as Fins host Giants on Monday night: As team skids to a seventh straight year out of the playoffs, Dolphins’ 50 greatest all-time players will be introduced at halftime Monday as franchise celebrates 50 years of football. That breaks down to about 40 seasons worthy of actual celebration, and then the last 10 or so.

2. HEAT: Still wondering at NBA’s quarter turn: How good is Miami?: With the season one-fourth done, Miami fans are still trying to decide how good the Heat is. Eastern finals? Barely make playoffs? Stay tuned, although three straight losses entering Sunday's game vs. Memphis have made the latter seem likelier at the moment.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Canes practice for bowl as city prepares to host CFP semifinal: UM readies for the Dec. 26 Sun Bowl in El Paso as Miami prepares for Clemson-Oklahoma in the Dec. 31 Orange Bowl game. Oh, and if your biggest gripe is why the College Football Playoff semifinals are on New Year’s Eve, you lead a charmed life, friend.

4. MARLINS: Lots of Jose talk, but little action for Fish at winter meetings: The Marlins made headlines entertaining offers but not trading ace Jose Fernandez during the MLB winter meetings in Nashville, but the front office struck out on making any deals to bolster their starting rotation or bullpen.

5. PANTHERS: Government tax help approval assure Cats’ local future: Broward County committed $86 million in tourist tax dollars to keep Panthers in Sunrise at least for 13 more years. Now how about a little payback, Cats? Like an occasional playoff appearance, perhaps?

6. GOLDEN STATE: Warriors finally lose after 24-0 start: It was a 108-95 loss at mediocre Milwaukee that ended the Warriors' record-setting perfect start to the NBA season. Cannot confirm that, out of habit, the '72 Dolphins raised a champagne toast. 

7. HIGH-SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Four local schools win state titles: Congrats to Miami Central, Booker T. Washington, St. Thomas Aquinas and Flanagan for winning state prep football championships. Can we invent some way for that success to trickle up to the Canes and Dolphins, please? 

8. SOCCER: Champions League, Euro '16 draw have fans buzzing: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich lead the field that is down to the round of 16. Meanwhile the 24 teams have been set for next summer's Euro 2016. America contributes Portland beating Columbus for the MLS Cup title. Hey, it's better than nothing!

9. BASEBALL SPENDING: Greinke the latest to get windfall: Arizona acquired ace Zack Greinke by agreeing to pay him $206.5 million over six years. Based on my math he'll average about $1 million per start, or per starts missed injured. Put a baseball in Junior's crib, Dad.

10. CANES BASKETBALL: College hoops in Miami back with a vengeance in six days: Saturday, Dec. 19 Mark it. That's when the 10-0 UM women host No. 4 Baylor, the 17th-ranked Canes men host Charleston, and the OB Classic pits in Sunrise pits FSU vs. FAU and Florida vs Oklahoma State.

Missing the cut: They announced Alabama running back Derrick Henry as the Heisman Trophy winner Saturday. I thought I saw Nick Saban almost smile but it may have just been indigestion ... Carolina Panthers put their 12-0 record on line today. Sorry, Cats, we'll pay attention when you're going for 16-0, or 19-0 ... LeBron James signs lifetime deal with Nike. Am picturing LeBron, at 75, pushing Nike's new line of orthopedic bedroom slippers ... Florida Panthers reportedly will unveil a new logo and jersey design next season. Better they should unveil a team good enough to make the playoffs ... Dolphins safety Reshad Jones has undertakena Twitter campaign  to get Pro Bowl votes. Another idea he might consider: An interception or two on Monday Night Football ... R.I.P., NBA pioneer Dolph Schayes, gone at 87. "Sad. There aren't many of us left," noted Dolph Lundgren ... The week-long Orange Bowl International Junior tennis tournament ends Sunday in Plantation. It'll seem so quiet without all those boorish parents yelling ... New York Supreme Court ruled against DraftKings and FanDuel as those daily fantasy sites continue an apparent slide toward extinction. Sure will miss all those TV commercials (!).

Poll result: Faith in Tannehill is dwindling: We asked your degree of faith that QB Ryan Tannehill is as good as the Dolphins need him to be -- two months after asking the same thing. The downturn in faith is notable:

Faith level        Now        October

Strong              9.1%        12.9%

Medium            18.3%      29.1%

Wavering          36.8%      31.9%

Weak               35.8%      26.1%

Tannehill's strong or medium support has shrunk from 42.0% to 27.4%, while his wavering or weak support has increased from 58.0% to 72.6%. This is far from scientific. But it is a snapshot that indicates Tannehill has work to do in restoring the faith in him. Because, without question, it is eroding.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2015

College football's scintillating Saturday: CFP top four determined, Hurricanes bowl projections; plus LeBron's back (shhh!), Bonds' rehabilitation & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5. ICYMI, cick on Right Man, Right Time, Right Hire for my column on the Hurricanes hiring coach Mark Richt. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Richt wins introductory UM press conference, Dolphins/NFL Week 13 picks & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S CLARITY WEEKEND: Conference championship game results today will pretty much make known the College Football Playoff top four, although that won't be offically announced (ceremeonially, on TV, of course) until Sunday. In turn, today's results will tip the last dominoes that lead to all of the bowl-game pairings that will be revealed this weekend. A quick primer on the CFP's big day and the bowl outlook for the Miami Huirricanes and other state schools:

CfpCFP OUTLOOK:

Miami and Arlington, Tex. will host New Year's Eve semifinals, with the championship gamed Jan. 11 in Glendale, Ariz.

No. 1 Clemson (12-0) vs. No. 10 North Carolina (11-1), ACC title game, 8 p.m., Charlotte. Tigers a somewhat modest 4.5-point favorite. (Clemson wins, 45-37).

No. 2 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 18 Florida (10-2), SEC title game, 4 p.m., Atlanta. Crimson Tide a big 17.5-point favorite. (Alabama wins, 29-15).

No. 3 Oklahoma (11-1) is done; Big 12 has no conference title game, which in this case is advantageous for Sooners.

No. 4 Iowa (12-0) vs. No. 5 Michigan State (11-1), Big Ten title game, 8 p.m., Indianapolis. Spartans, despite lower rank, a 3.5-point favorite in what effectively is a play-in game for CFP. (Michigan State wins, 16-13).

No. 7 Stanford, playing USC in Pac-12 title game, thinks it might have a chance to rise into the top four with a convincing win if Clemson or Alabama lose, but that's dubious. I could see Clemson losing and only dropping to fourth. I cannot see Alabama losing.

BOWL OUTLOOK FOR STATE TEAMS: 

PinstripeMiami Hurricanes (8-4): Hiring marquee coach Mark Richt this week only enhances UM as a desirable invite. Canes are hoping for the Dec. 26 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, where Indiana could be the foe. Other projections have UM in the Dec. 26 Sun Bowl in El Paso, vs. Utah, or the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl in Nashville, vs. Richt's former Georgia team.

Florida State (10-2): Likely destinations include the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta or the Dec. 29 Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

Florida (10-2): Gators could end up in the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

South Florida (8-4): Bulls could land in the Dec. 21 Miami Beach Bowl or Dec. 26 St. Petersburg Bowl.

LebronTHE QUIET RETURN OF LEBRON WHO?: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in town to face the Heat tonight. Is it just me, or is it less and less an event when LeBron comes to town? This is Return of LeBron III; he's 0-2. Part of it is that Steph Curry and unbeaten Golden State along with the retirement-announcement by Kobe Bryant have stolen much of the national spotlight that normally belongs to LeBron. Also, animus has faded. It doesn't seem as personal anymore. It just seems like a big test for Miami as a team. A Heat win tonight, on the heel of that exciting win over Oklahoma City, will verify the Heat's potential to play with anyone not named Warriors.

BarrybondsTHE REHABILITATION OF BARRY BONDS: Bonds, back in a baseball uniform this season as the Marlins' new fulltime hitting instructor, is a major step in the rehabiltation of his steroids-sullied image. He can't rewrite his past. He can't erase the metaphorical asterisk that sits next to his season and career home run records. But this will help, if only because it will humanize Bonds, put him back in the mainstream and convey his love for the game. I'm not sure how much it will thaw the voting freeze that is keeping him out of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown ... but it sure can't hurt.

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

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December 03, 2015

HURRICANES LAND MARK RICHT AS NEW FOOTBALL COACH. It's logical, smart hire. Agree? Poll. Vote now!; plus MLB going to Cuba, wearing Dolphins ugliness, Marlins & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3. I'm back up at Friday Page HQ conjuring this week's NFL predictions. Send winning thoughts my way. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's Packers-Lions pick. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bonds-to-Marlins poll, Kobe-retiring poll, NFL Week 12 'n Greg's Lobos results, final SOPY standings & more. on Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My new column on Hurricanes landing Mark Richt: Online last evening and shipped to today's inky pulp editions, click on Right Man, Right Time, Right Hire to read in full.

RichtHURRICANES LAND MARK RICHT: Mark Richt, the UM alum and Georgia Bulldogs coach the past 15 seasons, is reuniting with Miami to replace the fired Al Golden as head football coach. The news was confirmed last evening. Is Richt, at 55, the perfect candidate? No. Short of Nick Saban or Urban Meyer flying into Coral Gables begging for the job, there wasn’t one. Richt never reached a national-championship game with Georgia, so, yes, Miami is hiring a coach to accomplish here what he failed to elsewhere. Still, a 145-51 record, 15 consecutive bowl appearances and seven Top 10 finishes attest to a big resume at the highest level of college football. UM is getting a coach who averaged 9.6 wins in the SEC. In the less talent-dense Atlantic Coast Conference there will now be every expectation that Richt will soon have Miami on the Clemson and Florida State level, competing annually for an ACC title and on the road back to national relevance. I think it's a great, smart, logical hire. Do you? What is your confidence level in this hire, and in Richt? Take a dip in our poll, vote and say why you feel as you do.

UglyDOLPHINS HAVING UGLY SEASON, SO THIS IS FITTING: The NFL has come out with a holiday line of "ugly sweaters" (click here to shop) and, in Miami's case, what better way to simultaneously celebrate the holiday season and the Dolphins' ugly 2015 season than with the apparel pictured at right? It isn't as ugly as a 4-7 record and a seventh straight year out of the playoffs, but it's the next worst thing!

MLB SETS GOODWILL TOUR IN CUBA: Major League Baseball and its players association today announced a Dec. 15-18 goodwill tour of Cuba, MLB's first visit to the island since the Orioles played an exhibition there in March 1999. Hall of Famers Joe Torre and Dave Winfield will lead the contingent, along with a group of current players yet to be announced. Events will include a press conference, two children's clinics and a charity event.

MARLINS DO RIGHT. NO, SERIOUSLY: Though I've made a cottage industry of blaming the Marlins, with cause, I cannot blame the club for parting ways with starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez on Wednesday rather than tendering him an offer. Ongoing injury issues make him unreliable and not worth the investment. Having said that he's a 25-year-old who's already made an All-Star team, and his departure accentuates Miami's need to sign one or two quality starters to fit behind Jose Fernandez in the rotation.

Poll result: Polarizing I: Mixed view of Kobe as a he retires: We asked how you felt about Kobe Bryant as he announced he'll retire from Lakers after this season, and it was 35.9 percent positive, 33.8% negative and 30.3% mixed or undecided.

Poll result: Polarizing II: General approval for Marlins hiring Bonds: We asked how you felt about Barry Bonds joining the Marlins as hitting instructor, and it was 55.6 for it, 33.3% against and 11.1% not sure.

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

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December 02, 2015

Marlins hiring Barry Bonds: New poll. Vote now!; plus Kobe Bryant poll, NFL Week 12 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos results, Dolphins latest All-50'ers, Miami Jackson's Flowers wins 'State Heisman' with 6 Canes in Top 25 & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2. Happy new month, all! Done your shopping yet? 2) See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, but be warned: Ugly. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fire OC Bill Lazor after loss at Jets, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Hurricanes' next football: Who it is should be. Watch for my latest column online later today. 

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Club marks its 50th anniversary by naming top 50 all-time players in groups of five. The latest: Kim Bokamper, Earl Morrall, Louis Oliver, Keith Sims, Cam Wake. Wake was expected; Morrall too for his unique niche. Other three are more borderline, which is not to say unworthy.

BondsHIRING BARRY BONDS IS SO MARLINS: Reports indicate Barry Bonds has agreed to join the Marlins as a hitting coach, a classic splash move by the attention-needy ballclub and its owner Jeffrey Loria. This is so Marlins. The hiring (if it happens) would be dubious, and not mostly because of the steroids-tainted past that has kept Bonds -- MLB's all-time home run hitter with an asterisk -- out of the Hall of Fame. Bonds didn't kill anybody. Shame and the Hall ban arepunishment enough. No, this move sees its biggest potential pitfall in him "working alongside hitting coach Frank Menechino." Hmm. Two hitting coaches espousing different ideas as egos rub? The possibilities are why teams rarely have multiple hitting coaches. Let's hear more on this. For instance, might Bonds just be a spring instructor and then disappear? Or a roving "special" hitting instructor as he was for the San Francisco Giants two years ago? (That's his only experience in coaching). For now, what do you think of the Marlins trying to hire Bonds?

KobeHOW DO WE FEEL ABOUT KOBE BRYANT AS WE SAY GOODBYE?: This may not be an easy question to answer. The Los Angels Lakers' all-time great Kobe Bryant announced this week he would retire after this season, and I wonder how we feel. Has there been a more polarizing superstar? Many love Kobe; many others are far from that. I suspect that most NBA fans certainly respect his greatness yet do not particularly like him. But I may be wrong. Hence, this poll. The question posed is intentionally broad. It asks not what you think of him as a player, but your overall general impression of him. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 11: SO-SO, BAD, BAD: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams: Pix: Good and not: Our 10-6 mark overall Fripixis OK, but 6-10 against the spread isn't, despite the fact we nailed our Upset of the Week with Broncos beating Patriots ("Aawwk!") and hit another outright upset with Chargers over Jaguars. Greg's Lobos / family league: Eliminated: The original Lobos lost 140-131 to fall to 4-8, now eliminated from championship-round playoff contention with two weeks left. We got 89 combined points from Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham and T.Y. Hilton but it still wasn't enough. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Playin' out the string: The LeBatard Show Lobos are losing big to Stugotz in the two-round consolation playoffs, after being eliminated from title contention by Billy a week earlier. Got 28.9 points from Phil (Mint) Rivers, but too little help.

SOPY: MIAMI JACKSON'S FLOWERS WINS 'STATE HEISMAN,' 6 CANES IN FINAL TOP 25: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds South Florida dual- Flowersthreat quarterback Quinton Flowers out of Miami Jackson (pictured) edging Florida State running back Dalvin Cook out of Miami Central for the title. Flowers is the first player outside of the traditional Big 3 state schools to win our 'State Heisman.' Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. And we close it off after the regular season, excluding bowl games, to give every school's players an equal shot. The final SOPY Top 25 for 2015:

FINAL 2015 SOPY TOP 25

Rk    Player, team-pos.                    Season

1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb         2,077.5

2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                  1,990

3      Alex McGough, FIU-qb               1,594

4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                1,531

5      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb               1,438

6      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                 1,262

7      Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb            1,260

8      Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb            1,206

9      Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb           1,145 

10    Treon Harris, Florida-qb              924.5

11. Everett Golson FSU-qb 921; 12. Justin Holman UCF-qb 869; 13. Jenson Stoshak FAU-wr 828; 14. Kermit Whitfield FSU-wr 807; 15. Will Grier Florida-qb 789; 16. Rodney Adams SoFla-wr 776; 17. Travis Rudolph FSU-wr 751; 18. Tre'Quan Smith UCF-wr 748; 19. Mark Walton Miami-rb 729; 20. Thomas Owens FIU-wr 687; 21. D'Ernest Johnson SoFla-rb 685.5; 22. Stacy Coley Miami-wr 678; 23. Greg Howell FAU-rb 670; 24. Rashawn Scott Miami-wr 650; 25. Herb Waters Miami-wr 637.

Roll Call of SOPY Champions:

2015--Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,077.5

2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968

2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107

2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5

Cote's final pre-bowl State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (10-2); 2. Florida (10-2); 3. Miami (8-4); 4. South Florida (8-4); 5. FIU (5-7); 6. FAU (3-9); 7. UCF (0-12).

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

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December 01, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.7%; plus Fins fire OC Lazor after losing at Jets 38-20, new Hot Button Top 10 with Canes, Noles/Gators, Heat, Hutton, Warriors, Cats & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30. Hope y'all had a terrific long Thanksgiving weekend. ICYMI, click on Being Thankful In These Times for my Thanksgiving Day column. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results, which are trending upward. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM bops Pitt with CSM poll, Noles-Gators and other state Collball, NFL Week 12 picks, bacon underwear & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

DOLPHINS FIRE OC LAZOR: The Dolphins this morning fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in the midst of a 4-7 season that has seen Miami surpass 20 points only two times in 11 games. The team's 20.5-point average ranks 27th of 32 teams. Miami has now fired its head coach and offensive and defensive coordinators the same season -- the obvious sign of a complete reboot and start-over for this reeling franchise. Find our Dolphins-Jets live in-game blog and final postgame thoughts immediately below the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 3.7%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 3.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 38-20 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 4- Dsm7. The DSM, in its eighth year, 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 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Next poll: Dec. 6 (following game vs. Baltimore)

G11: DOLPHINS AT N.Y. JETS: WILL MIAMI EVER WIN ANOTHER BLEEPIN' DIVISION GAME!?: Final postgame thoughts: The game wasn't as close as the score suggests. Dolphins got dominated and now are 0-5 in division this year by combined 175-72 score. Tannehill ended with strong numbers (351 yards, 3 TDs) but got outplayed  by Ryan Fitzpatrick. And Jets had excellent pass-run balance while Miami had nine carries for 12 yards all day. At 4-7 the Fins are not mathematically out of the playoff hunt -- but they realistically are. ..... Fourth Q: MIA makes it 38-20 on DeVante Parker's 33-yard pass from Tanny with five seconds left, a final score that makes game seem closer than it really was. ... Planes 38-14 on 41-yard late FG.... MIA within 35-14 on Tanny's 5-yard TD strike to Greg Jennings but by now it's way too little, way too late. ... This has become an embarrassment for Miami. It's 35-7 now on a Chris Ivory 31-yard TD run that included four missed tackles by Fins' D. ... NYJ back up 28-7 as Marshall owns Grimes again on 3-yard TD. Marshall is six inches taller and playing like it's 16. ..... Third Q: Fins within 21-7 on Landry 5-yard TD from Tanny. Landry's 40-yard catch set up the score. ... Miami now in a huge 21-0 hole after Eric Decker 2-yard TD pass from Fitzpatrick. ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami's defense: Not good enough. Miami's offense: Absymal. The Fins with the ball have stunk. Tannehill has 83 yards passing and a 39.8 rating. The ground game has a negligible 8 yards all day. Trailing 14-0 at the half is something hardly insurmountable? But the way Miami's offense is playing make it seems so. ..... Second Q: Dolphins yield 92-yard drive ending in 16-yard TD pass to Devin Smith and 14-0 hole just before half. Smith beat Jamar Taylor in the end zone. ... Fins now 4 carries for 7 yards rushing all day. Been true all season: When Miami trails early it tends to give up on the run. ... Ugh. Miami outagined 122 yards to 35 in first quarter. ..... First Q: NYJ 7-0 late in quarter on Marshall 17-yard scoring catch from Ryan Fitzpatrick over smaller Brent Grimes. ... Not a good sign. Dolphins first two series start at Jets 45 and at 50 -- and zero points to show for it. Ryan Tannehill interception stops the second drive. ... MIA with big 4th-down defensive stop at NYJ 45, but then offense fizzles and punts. Fins were 0-12 on 3rd-down conversions in first Jets meeting, now a big 0-1 today. ..... Original post: Ryan Tannehill’s career struggles against AFC East rivals is well-known to all Dolfans and amply documented, so I’ll skip the mass regurgitation and cut to the gist: He is 6-15 against the Patriots, Bills and Jets, and his Finsjetsplay has been worst of all — a 67.2 passer rating with eight interceptions in seven games — vs. the Jets he’ll face again today at 1 up there. That includes an 0-4  mark vs. the A-East this season. That is the No. 1 reason Tannehill is hurtling toward another 0-4: His personal record on Dolphins seasons and playoffs made. None of this inspires me to venture an upset pick here. NYJ handled Miami 27-14 in London on Oct. 5 in a game that didn’t seem as close as that score suggested, and has won three of past four over the Fins. Having said that, the Planes really disappointed in losing to Houston last week, and Tannehill is 3-0 vs. the Planes at the Meadowlands. Plus Darrelle Revis out. So I’ll take Miami against the spread with that dangling half-point on the 3.5 betting line in what I figure as a low-scoring affair. Planes are 5-5 to Fins' 4-6, so both teams are hanging on in the wild-card chase and need to play with desperation here. By the way, DT Ndamukong Suh getting more outspoken and challenging his teammates is fine. But his leading by example, with sacks and dominance, would be even better. Click on Week 12 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. As a quick aside, this once-bitter Fins-Jets rivalry really misses the cartoon bluster of Rex Ryan. But at least ridiculous Fireman Ed, World's Angriest Man, made a comeback, so that’s something. My pick: N.Y. Jets, 23-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 29): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SP0ORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami's playoff hopes all but disappear in loss at Jets: The home loss to Dallas last week meant today’s game at the rival Jets was all but must-win in terms of the playoff chase. But in 38-20 loss the Dolphins became first NFL team with 0-5 division record, meaning Miami, now 4-7, has been at its worst against the teams it knows best. Oy.

2. HURRICANES: UM closes with win at Pitt, awaits bowl destination: Canes could earn a bid to the desired Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium after winning Saturday at Pitt 29-24 to finish 8-4, including 4-1 under interim coach Larry Scott. Things are looking up. The downside to that? Complaint-driven UM fans must adjust to the bizarre notion of feeling somewhat positive.

3. NOLES/GATORS: FSU humbles Florida in the Swamp: The suspicion was Florida was a shaky 10-1, underlined by last week's narrow OT escape over lowly FAU, and further verified last night in a 27-2 home loss to rival Florida State. Gators might have made it up into College Football Playoff final four by beating FSU and then Alabama in SEC title game. Now, no shot. llege Football Playoff top four.

4. HEAT: Solid defense is helping keep the Heat hot: While NBA fans have been focused on Golden State’s record unbeaten start, Miami’s defense, No. 1 in the Eastern Conference and No. 2 in the league, has helped Miami win seven of its past nine games entering four-game homestand starting Monday vs. Boston. Remember, you can't spell "Heat" with D. Wait...

5. TOMMY HUTTON: Marlins shoot themselves in foot. Again: The public relations-challenged Marlins inexplicably and without just cause fired Tommy Hutton, their popular, talented, passionate TV analyst of 19 years. You have a choice, and both options are depressing: Either Marlins management is generally incompetent , or just doesn't give a s--- what you think.

6. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: That moment we were the epicenter of the sport: UM rocketed to No. 15 but then lost at home to underdog Northeastern. Meanwhile, the Heat’s bayside arena hosted No. 1 Kentucky in the Miami Hoophall Invitational. If you blinked you missed it but there was a magical moment this week when we were a college basketball town.

7. GOLDEN STATE: OK, this is getting ridiculous, Warriors. Lose, already!: Golden State is now 18-0, a record NBA start, entering their next game Monday at Utah. They are approaching one-quarter of the way to perfection in an 82-game season. Even the '72 Dolphins are getting nervous. 

8. PANTHERS: Cats off NHL playoff pace and on the road. Oy: Florida has won only nine of its first 22 games and is five points off NHL playoff pace as it begins a five-game road trip starting today in Detroit. Is it too early for beleaguered Cats fans to starting saying, "Wait'll next year!"?

9. NASCAR: Homestead still celebrating Busch, Gordon's big show: Ears are still ringing from Kyle Busch winning the race and season championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway last week, and Jeff Gordon sailing into retirement to cheers. Gordon going out a champ would've been only thing to top it.

10. INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL: Marlins host Serie de las Americas: Marlins Park hosted four top teams from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela in the Serie de las Americas last weekend. It was the place to be for fans of international baseball . Also, for fans of hearing no English spoken.

Missing the cut: Dolphins to raise ticket prices on almost half of all seats. Think of it as a "thank you" for supporting all these years of disappointment ... South Florida not among 10 U.S. hoss cities for next year's 100th Copa America soccer ... College Football Playoff Top 4 all won Saturday. Take the week off, Condi ... Browns bench Johnny Manziel for latest eff-up ... High-school football playoffs ... St. Louis Ram Steadman Bailey spends bye week here, gets shot in drive-by in Miami Gardens. Things tourism officials don't tout in those brochures ... Miami native Cristie Kerr wins 18th LPGA tournament. Which, if anybody cared about women's golf, would be a big deal ... New line of NBA apparel for Heat bugle the alternate 786 area code, not the main 305. Please make fun of anyone caught wearing a shirt proclaiming "the 7-8-6" ... Tyson Fury beats Wladimir Klitschko for heavyweight title. A boxer named Tyson Fury. Seriously

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 25, 2015

Which of the 3 remaining unbeaten teams is most impressive? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat's rare faux pas, Marlins' latest bonehead move, Dolphins' All-50'ers, NFL Week 11 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25. See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. Ugh. They're bad. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Dallas and DSM poll, NASCAR in Homestead, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Club is marking its 50th anniversary season by revealing its all-time 50 greatest players in five-man groups. The latest: A.J. Duhe, Bruce Hardy, Jim Kiick, Nat Moore and Ed Newman. No arguments. Moore is the most obvious choice. Hardy probably is the weakest, but tight end historically hasn't been a great positions for Fins. 

A THANKSGIVING RARITY: THIS MUCH PERFECTION, THIS LATE: The Golden State Warriors have set an NBA record with their 16-0 start, completing nearly one-fifth of their season unbeaten. In the NFL the 10-0 New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers have gone 62.5 percent of the way to a perfect regular season. This marks the first time we have had two unbeaten football teams and one in basketball as late as Thanksgiving. Question: Which of the three impresses you most?

Heat786A RARE FAUX PAS BY THE HEAT: The Heat (unlike the Marlins and Dolphins) don't make many public-relations mistakes or missteps. The best pro team among us is also the best-managed and run. But this is a mistake: Selling apparel touting the local 786 area code instead of the 305. Both are accurate for Miami. The Heat's own main numbers start with 786. But, clearly, "the 3-0-5" -- phrase and number -- is the primary area code, is what Miami sports fans say and is what identifies us nationally. The area code apparel for all teams originates with the NBA, but the Heat obviously should have made certain 305 was the code chosen for Miami. You are officially allowed to mock anyone you see wearing one of the shirts pictured at right -- but gently, in an instructive, educational tone.

OH, MARLINS. HUTTON FIRING CLUB'S LATEST MISSTEP: I won't pile on and say the Marlins eff-up at every turn. Credit where it's do. They have a wonderful new(ish) ballpark. They shocked everybody with Huttonthat lucrative long-term deal for Giancarlo Stanton. They seemed to make a strong managerial hire this month in Don Mattingly. But that doesn't erase years of shake-your-head management and decisions -- the latest the out-of-the-blue firing last evening of popular TV analyst Tommy Hutton, the club's on-air voice for 19 years. No good reason was given. Hutton obviously was at times too honest for the Marlins in his criticism and commentary. We'll miss that passion from Hutton that occasionally erupted in volcanic rants. We'll miss his knowledge and credibility. We'll miss his candor. This is a wrong-headed, senseless, counter-productive decision by the Marlins ... just the latest move to shake the faith and trust of fans.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 10: PIX UPTURN, FANTASY MISERY!: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with Fripix
Lobosour two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams: Pix: A modest upturn: We went 8-6 overall and 7-6-1 vs. the spread (Patriots pushed), which, mediocre as that is, merits a party compared to the previous week. Nailed outright upsets picks with wins by Lions and Packers, and also had 'dog Colts and Bucs with the points. Greg's Lobos / family league: Yet another loss: The original Lobos lost 111-74 to fall to 4-7, now two games off even a playoff-pace tiebreaker with three left in our regular season. Had nobody better than Darren McFadden's 18 points. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: No-bos. We're out: The LeBatard Show Lobos were eliminated by Billy, 194.5 to 129.9 in a two-week playoff. No MVL award; that's how badly we finished. When you barely get 10 combined points from Philip Rivers and Devonta Freeman, you're hurtin'. Onto the consolation-round playoffs. Oh, the indignity!

SOPY: IT'S TWO-MAN RACE FOR 'STATE HEISMAN' ENTERING FINAL WEEK: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- pares to a two-man race for the title Sopyentering the final week of the season. It's South Florida QB Quinton Flowers or Florida State RB Dalvin Cook for the crown. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 13:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 12

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W12        Season

1 (1)        Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   155.5       1,872.5

2 (2)        Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             123        1,784

3 (3)        Alex McGough, FIU-qb          50.5       1,594

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          156        1,392.5

5 (5)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          118        1,324

6 (6)        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             95         1,262

7 (7)        Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb        53        1,161

8 (9)        Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       123        1,052

9 (8)         Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      95         1,051 

10 (10)      Everett Golson, FSU-qb         31.5       921

Bubble: Treon Harris, Florida-qb, 862.5 Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 781. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 290 (Wk11). Note: FIU has played 12 games and completed season; all others have played 11.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida (10-1); 2. Florida State (9-2); 3. Miami (7-4); 4. South Florida (7-4); 5. FIU (5-7); 6. FAU (2-9); 7. UCF (0-11).

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