March 01, 2015

The Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Fins cuts, Beasley back, Jaromir Jagr, Stanton, Canes, golf, 14 seconds; plus ode to Doral, optimism verdict & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on the Ticket Miami, 4-7 (with webcam simulcast) on ESPN Radio. Ears (and daring eyes) welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 3. Technical issues prevent us from publishing a new blogpost as we'd planned today. Hope to get it fixed and do so on Wednesday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): In/Out door revolving, Big 5 optimism poll, Stanton in body paint, LeBron, Tiger & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

An ode to Doral: Today's latest column by me is an unabashed appreciation of Doral's place in PGA Tour history -- and ours. Click on The Blue Monster Endures to read in full. 

HOT BUTTON MAR. 1: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins cut Brian Hartline in salary-cap move: Hartline and fellow receiver Brandon Gibson (and now CB Cortland Finnegan) were suddenly lopped off the roster in a salary-cap move. That might increase the likelihood of the team keeping Mike Wallace, which Dolfans can decide is good news or bad.

2. HEAT: Beasley back as Miami remains on anxious edge of contention: Trading for Goran Dragic but losing Chris Bosh to blood clots is not looking like a positive give and take for Heat, whose two straight losses before last night's win over Phoenix have team fighting to stay on playoff pace. Signs of desperation: Bringing back Michael Beasley on a 10-day contract.

3. PANTHERS: Cats sign Jaromir Jagr for stretch run: This would be very exciting if it was, say, 2005. In 2015 Jagr is 43 and skating near retirement. Still, maybe it'll be the shot Cats need to make up what now is a mere two-point deficit to Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot.

4. MARLINS: Two days from real start of spring schedule in Jupiter: After a couple of tuneups vs. FIU and UM the Marlins begin spring ball vs. MLB competition on Thursday up in Jupiter. Giancarlo Stanton, who appears on latest SI in body paint, got hit by a pitch on the hip by Henderson Alvarez. Cannot confirm the dugout emptied and teammates charged the mound to say, "Don't do that again!"

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men scrambling for NCAA Tournament invite: Jim Larranaga's guys are 18-11 and may need to sweep their final two regular-season games and then show well in the ACC tourney to make the Big Dance.

6. GOLF: Harrington wins Honda; Doral on deck: With Doral waiting on deck, Padraig Harrington won the Honda Classic in a Monday playoff up in Palm Beach. As golf haters like to say, the only thing worse than watching four days of golf is watching five days of golf.

7. UM FOOTBALL: Canes continue spring practice: As Canes work toward their March 28 Spring Game, disgruntled Al Golden detractors pessimistic about the coming season inquire about banner-pulling small-plane rental costs just to be on the safe side.

8. NASCAR: Ho-hum Daytona 500 begins season: Sorry, but Joey Logano winning under a caution flag last week was nobody's dream start for the NASCAR season. Well, except maybe Joey Logano's.

9. UFC: Ronda Rousey wins fight in 14 seconds: This is the dilemma for fans of mixed marial arts and boxing. Part of you wants your fighter to win easily. But the cheap part of you wants to get your money's worth, too.

10. CRICKET: New Zealand first to 4-0 in World Cup: That's right. The Cricket World Cup!

Poll result: Marlins, Heat inspiring most optimism: We asked which of our Big 5 teams is inspiring the most optimism in fans for its direction and immediate future, and the Marlins were out front with 42.9 percent followed by the Heat at 25.6%. Trailing were the Dolphins at 13.3%, UM football at 12.5% and Panthers at 5.7%.

Check back often because we frequently update and add to our latest blogposts...

February 23, 2015

ESPN's Great Analytics Rankings: How Dolphins, Heat, Panthers and Marlins rate on use of new-age info; plus get-well campaign for Bosh, Dan Marino, Daytona 500, fight verdict, Oscars review & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 p.m. on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 ESPN Radio. Ears welcome. (And eyes, on the national-show webcast...)

1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pacquiao-Mayweather poll, Hot Button Top 10, Dragic debut for Heat, Oscar snorts coke & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stuck in the middle with you: Those six words are more than a 1972 song by Stealers Wheel. They describe the position of So-Fla sports fans, as I explore in today's latest column. Click on Border Town to read. Heat and Panthers clawing just to make playoffs, UM men's basketball on NCAA Tournament bubble, Dolphins and UM football stuck in mediocrity, Marlins improved yet not a betting pick for playoffs ... everywhere you look, our teams are better than bad but maybe not quite good enough.

Corner to Fins in first round?: For what it's worth, USA Today's new, post-Scouting Combine mock draft has Miami selecting Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes. My comment: That's be a great, but it's doubtful the draft's top CB will still be around at No. 14.

MIAMI TEAMS FALL SHORT IN ESPN ANALYTICS RANKING: ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com are calling 1aa1aanalyticsit "The Great Analytics Ranking" and it is now on The World Leader's website; click here. (Illustration shown is from the magazine). ESPN rated all 122 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams on how it judged "the strength of each franchise's analytics staff, its buy-in from execs and coaches, its investment in biometric data and how much its approach is predicated on analytics." Teams were slotted in one of five tiers: All-In, Believers, One Foot In, Skeptics and Non-Believers. The Dolphins, Heat and Panthers all rated in the middle ground of One Foot In, while the Marlins are in the bottom rung of Non-Believers. Here is ESPN's synopsis (minimally condensed by me) of each Miami team:

DOLPHINS: Owner Steve Ross and GM Dennis Hickey have become proponents of analytics, and new VP Mike Tannenbaum is a recent convert. Ross is heavy user of analytics in his real estate business and has been frustrated by its relative infancy in NFL. In summer of 2014 team hired Dennis Lock, who holds graduate degree in statistics, to head a football analytics group. At same time Dolphins announced hiring of sports science analyst Dave Regan, and in September, Tom Pasquali, with a graduate degree in applied statistics and experience in Yankees front office, joined Lock's staff. Tannenbaum said in January he planned to hire a "sports performance director" and acknowledged, "We have a long way to go, but we started something in terms of trying to give ourselves a competitive advantage." Miami has monitored player health for several years, and coach Joe Philbin has altered practice schedule to improve sleep habits by becoming only coach to give players Thursday off. But Philbin focuses on game film far more than stats, and it remains to be seen how well he'll use Miami's burgeoning analytics department.

HEAT: When analytics skeptics point out that coaches have been using numbers for decades, Heat president Pat Riley is commonly cited. As coach of Lakers, Riley famously devised his own efficiency rating for players. He passed that interest to protégé and coach Erik Spoelstra, who speaks the language of analytics. Riley devised a system the Heat still use to grade each defensive possession based on 54 criteria, focusing on the process of executing the team's system rather than results. Evaluations are done by Brian Hecker, Miami's director of basketball information technology, who gets the pertinent numbers to Spoelstra. In addition to lineup data, Spoelstra also has relied heavily on a simulation model developed by analyst Bob Chaikin. He has worked for Heat since 2008, following stint as consultant for team during 1990s, when Riley first arrived as coach. "I look at [stats] to evaluate our team, to compare us to other teams, particularly defensively," Spoelstra told NBA.com in 2011. "I also use it to make points to the team about things we need to improve. I use it also for scouting." Riley's fondness for statistical analysis doesn't seem to have carried over to his personnel work as team president. Miami has regularly punted valuable draft picks in favor of stacking bench with fading veterans. Heat's success, including three titles in past decade, has made it easy to justify sticking with an old-school approach. To get back to that level, Miami's front office may have to embrace details like analytics and international scouting that have gone neglected.

PANTHERS: The Panthers were wise to pick Brian Macdonald as team's director of analytics last summer, although they still have a skeleton crew compared to some other teams around league. Integrating him into team's decision-making has been a season-long process because of when he was hired, and his impact may not be felt until next season. "Anywhere there is data in this organization, I've tried to get my hands in it a little bit," Macdonald said. "That includes the business side of things now, also. The past couple months, I've been doing more business than hockey."

MARLINS: Marlins have a small, tight-knit baseball operations department that has shown very little interest in analytics. Team president Michael Hill was a two-sport athlete at Harvard, but like GM Dan Jennings, is a former player with a background in player development and scouting. The job of keeping the Marlins aware of analytics trends falls to director of baseball ops Dan Noffsinger, a longtime staffer who majored in applied math and economics at Harvard. Noffsinger has good reputation but a broader, less technical skill set than the leading sabermetricians being hired by other organizations. In a sign that Marlins might be ready to change their ways, they are looking to hire their first analytics interns this year to get their program off the ground.

HEAT INVITES YOU TO WISH BOSH WELL: Everything is so organized now. For example the Heat on
1aa1acbgetwellMonday (prior to beating lowly Philly at home) unveiled a getwellcb.com website to encourage fans to send best wishes to Chris Bosh, who will miss the rest of this NBA season as he undergoes treatment for blood clots in his lungs. Not sure the prompting was needed. Great player, great guy. Everybody rooting for Bosh. (He'll be on blood thinners probably at least through May, but is expected back fully for next season's training camp).

1aa1adanteesoffIT'S (STILL) GOOD TO BE DAN MARINO: Dolphins icon (and ambassador and now front-office consultant) Dan Marino tees off during his second annual Marino & Friends Bahamas Weekend event, as a deployed small battalion of the team's cheerleaders stand in the background looking all cheerleader-y. (The excellent photo is courtesy the Miami Dolphins). The Marino event isn't a fundraiser but rather a cross-promotion in which the Dolphins grow their brand in the Caribbean while the Bahamas promotes itself as a tourist destination.


IT WASN'T THE DAYTONA 500 NASCAR NEEDED:
 A race should not end under a caution flag. Start 1aa1ajloganothere. So it was the antithesis of a thrilling ending in NASCAR's season opener Sunday as Joey Logano (pictured) coasted to the finish. In NASCAR's dream it would have been fan favorite and defending champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. and retiring Jeff Gordon duel-barreling to the checkered flag. Or maybe Tony Stewart finally ending his Dayton jinx. Nope, just Logano under a yellow flag. NASCAR, reeling from the domestic-abuse suspension of Kurt Busch, could have used a result that wowed fans in one of its signature events. Didn't get it. That's racin', I suppose.

Poll result: Hoping Pacquiao wins but predicting Mayweather: We asked your feelings on the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight and it was split. Most hope Pacquaio wins, 56.5 percent to 23.4%. But most predict Mayweather will win, 57.9% to 22.0%. (The other 20.1% said they have no interest in the fight).

THE ACADEMY AWARDS REVIEW: Sunday's Oscars telecast may or may not still be going on. The Big 3 winners were Birdman (best picture with Michael Keaton), Eddie Redmayne (actor for The Theory of Everything) and Julianne 1aa1abirdmanMoore (actress for Still Alice). Admit it: No other Oscar category really matters that much except to the winner. Admit it II: You'd never 1aa1abirdheatheard of Eddie Redmayne, either, before last night. Evening lowlight: Host Neil Patrick Harris in his underwear. Admit it III: Against high expectations, NPH wasn't all that good. Summary: Boyhood

took 12 years to make and one night to pretty much ignore. Quick aside: While watching a film called Birdman, 1aa1abirdraphow must Chris Andersen and Bryan Williams feel? Andersen of course is the popular Heat reserve nicknamed Birdman. Williams is better known as the rapper whose stage name is Birdman, co-founder of Cash Money
records. I'm no lawyer but think the two Birdmen pictured at right should sue the movie for royalties. Speaking of the Heat and movies, I cannot confirm that How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the story of how an NBA team works to integrate newly arrived Goran (Dragon) Dragic into its lineup.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

February 15, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10, with Marlins, Heat, NBA, Canes, Cats, NFL, cricket, Tiger, LLWS, racing; also, verdict on Loria, thanks Dr. J & more

1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15. Hope the ladies had a wonderful Valentine's Day! 2) Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Reconsidering Jeffery Loria poll, D-Wade on '50 Shades,' Ndamukong Suh verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HOT BUTTON FEB. 15: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Miami awarded All-Star Game as spring training nears: As an improved Marlins team opens spring training in five days in Jupiter, MLB held a news conference here Friday to make official that Miami would host the 2017 All-Star Game. "We couldn’t be happier,” Marlins fans said. “Well ... unless of course Jeffrey Loria changed his mind about not selling the team."

2. HEAT: Wade sits as Bosh represents Heat in Sunday’s All-Star Game: Dwayne Wade rests his injured hamstring but Chris Bosh will play in tonight's NBA showcase of stars. Miserable New York and Brooklyn, a combined 31-74, are cohosts. Am surprised teams aren’t boycotting the game at Madison Square Garden for fear their players might catch whatever the Knicks have.

3. NBA: LaVine, Curry, Bosh top Saturday's All-Star Game undercard: Miami's Bosh (along with WNBA'er Swin Cash and legend Dominique Wilkins won the Shooting Stars event, Golden State's Stephen Curry won the 3-point contest and Minnesota's 19-year-old Zach LaVine won the Dunk contest. The latter answered the question, "Who the hell is Zach LaVine?"

4. HURRICANES: It’s the nexus of basketball, baseball and football: UM men’s basketball team tries to shake off an ill-timed slump and still make the NCAA Tournament. UM opened baseball season this weekend seeking to end a six-year College World Series drought. Football prepares for spring practice with heat on Al Golden. For all three, cue Queen and David Bowie’s "Under Pressure."

5. PANTHERS: Crunch time as Cats chase rare NHL playoff spot: Florida enters today's game only four points off playoff pace, chasing what would be only the fifth postseason berth in 21 franchise seasons, after 1996, ’97, 2000 and ’12. Not much margin of error from here, though, as each loss puts the Panthers closer to a phrase particularly apt in hockey: Thin ice.

6. NFL: Scouting Combine, major pre-draft event, begins: The weeklong talent show begins Tuesday in Indianapolis. And if you can't get enough of watching fat college linemen timed in the 40-yard dash, the NFL Network will have your all-excess pass.

7. CRICKET: World Cup under way in Australia, New Zealand: Yes, we DO have cricket in this week’s Top 10 as 14 nations are in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. The sport is very popular in parts of South Florida among residents from the West Indies. For others inclined to scoff, here’s your challenge: You can make fun of cricket, but wisecracks may not include the word “Jiminy.”

8. GOLF: Tiger Woods taking indefinite "break" from PGA Tour: This is bad news for the tour and for the upcoming Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens. There go the TV ratings. Golf fans would rather watch Tiger take a break (or a nap) than watch other guys play golf.

9. YOUTH SPORTS: Chicago team stripped of Little League title: Chicago's Jackie Robinson West team was stripped of the U.S. championship it won at the Little League World Series for its coach using players not from its district. It's another reminder the only problem with youth sports is adults.

10. AUTO RACING: Daytona 500 begins the NASCAR schedule next Sunday: The swansong season for Jeff Gordon, with all its testiminials and ceremonial rocking chair gifts, is about to begin. The Gordon tributes haven’t even started yet and I’m already tired of them.

Poll result: Estimation of Loria improving, but still skews negative: We gave your four choices on how you feel about Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and results were: Very positive 25.6 percent, mildly positive 18.4%, mildly negative 25.9% and very negative 30.1. That made it negative over positive overall by 56-44%. [Note: There was a sudden surge in "very positive" votes yesterday, suggesting an organized effort by the Marlins, perhaps. Not enough, alas]. 

THANK YOU, DR. J: Julius Erving said something (click here) that I have thought but never said aloud. In 1aa1adunkmascotfact I've not heard it said or seen it written. "Dr. J" says the NBA All-Star Weekend's Slam-Dunk Contest, once an exciting, huge draw, has lost much of its appeal due to mascots. Yes, mascots. He means mascots (and non-mascot gymnasts) bouncing off mini-trampolines and acrobatically slam-dunking from above the rim as in-game entertainment (as pictured). Mere earth-bound mortals cannot duplicate that. No, not even Michael Jordan. Blake Griffin can sort of jump over the hood of a small car, but he still is not rising as high or majestically as a trampoline allows. The absence of top stars in the Slam-Dunk Contest also hurts (talking to you, LeBron), but Dr. J. is right. No more trampolines in NBA arenas!

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

January 01, 2015

What was Miami/South Florida's biggest sports story of 2014? Poll. Last chance to vote!; plus Oregon hammers FSU, Ohio State stuns 'Bama & more

1aa1anew15
1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 1. Happy New Year, all! Let's make it a great one! 2) In The 
Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron and D-Wade plotting reunion?, Orange Bowl game interest poll, Cats sign Bjugstad, NFL Pix results & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

A message from me to you: To all our readers, print and online, to our Blog Family and radio listeners and to our followers and friends on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Vine ... thank you! You made it another great past year and make me look forward to 2015.

More Cowbell!: Click on More Cowbell for my column from last night's Orange Bowl game. I write how Georgia Tech was up to the big stage in its 49-34 win; Mississippi State was not.

1aa1amiami2014WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2014?: We do this every year. We asked you last week to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (results below). Now we invite you to select the 2014 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from an alphabetically presented top 10 of my choosing. You may vote for your top three (3). I offer no synopsis beyond what's in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Remember, you can choose your top three. Ready? Vote!

Your national sports story of year was...: We asked you to vote for the 2014 national sports story of the year from among The Associated Press' top 10, and LeBron James going home was your top choice with 22.2 percent, followed by Donald Sterling's NBA ouster (20.7%) and NFL domestic violence (18.9%).

O MY! OREGON, OHIO STATE REACH TITLE GAME: Ohio State upsets Alabama 42-35 in last night's late semifinal ending at 12:42 a.m. (which is ridiculous). Not sure if Urban Meyer winning feels any better than Nick Saban losing. In the first game Oregon hammers Florida State 59-20. Turnovers killed FSU as much as the Ducks did. Don't eviscerate the Noles too much, though. Champions; 29 straight. Great run. Respect. ..... Original post: What the Free World has clamored for so long -- a College Football Playoff -- bursts from concept to reality today with the two CFP semifinals: Oregon vs. Florida State in the Rose Bowl at 5 p.m., then Alabama vs. Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl at 8:30. The doubleheader will do monstrous TV ratings nationally , and should even fly high in nonchalant South Florida. Here, the large FSU alumni fan base and our natural disdain for Nick Saban assures interest. (Then again, rooting against Nick means rooting for Urban Meyer. LIFE ISN'T FAIR! ESPN polled its 43 college football experts (which is about 38 too many, by the way), and the picks were Oregon over FSU by 31-12 and 'Bama over OSU by (ouch) 42-1. Eventual-champion votes were Alabama 21, Oregon 18, FSI 1 and Urban 0. The asterisk in the headline? Me. I agree with the consensus on the Tide rolling, but think the Seminoles -- undefeated yet maligned -- will upset the mighty Ducks. Can't wait! 

Poll result: Interest in Orange Bowl game was low: We asked your interest level in last night's Georgia Tech-Mississippi State Orange Bowl game, and most voted "non-existent" (49.2 percent) or "low" (23.4%). The rest voted "medium" (18.4%) or "high" (9.0%).

Check back often because we resolve to constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

November 17, 2014

NASCAR dodged a bullet at Homestead; plus Stanton agrees, Dolphins in (for now) amid NFL tumult, Gary Shelton, Kim Kardashian as a horse & more

1aa1akimk1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17. Have you seen Kim Kardashian's nudies in Paper magazine? Click on image to see her equine version enlarged.  2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall to FSU,CSM poll, Stanton as Marlins' 'A Christmas Carol', Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Stanton deal finalized: CBS Sports reporting today (and the Herald verifying) that Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins have agreed upon the 13-year, $325 million extension that first splashed as national news on Friday. It is expected to become official at a news conference Wednesday.  

BIG DAY FOR HARVICK AND HOMESTEAD, BUT NASCAR DODGES A BULLET: It was a big day for Kevin Harvick in his No. 4 Chevrolet on Sunday but a bigger day for 1aa1aharvickNASCAR down at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
(Click on Perfect Finish for my full column from the track). NASCAR dodged a bullet, though, and even as it celebrated the end of its season with a worthy winner in Harvick, flaws in its new Chase for the Cup format were revealed. There was a real possibility that runnerup Ryan Newman might have emerged as NASCAR's season Sprint Cup champion without winning Sunday -- or winning a single race all year. That would have been a first in NACAR's 67-year history. Chairman Brian France said the new system is supposed to put an emphasis on winning races, not points-building consistency, yet two of the Final Four drivers eligible to win it all entered Sunday's race with either zero (Newman) or only one (Denny Hamlin) season win. So tweak the Chase format once again. The Cote Plan: Only drivers who haved won a race entering Homestead are eligible for the season crown. This year that would have meant 15 drivers: Brad KeselowskI (6 wins), Joey Logano (5), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4), Jeff Gordon (4), Harvick (4), Jimmie Johnson (4), Carl Edwards (2), plus eight men with one win. Keep the new elimination format that whittles the field to an eventual Final Four, but start with only race winners.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: DOLPHINS IN (FOR NOW), NFL IN TUMULT: Miami as of this morning would be the 1aa1adol6sixth and final AFC playoff seed ITSET (if the season ended today). The Fins would edge San Diego and Baltimore (both also 6-4) on the tiebreaker for best conference winning percentage. Of more intrigue to me right now is the Super Bowl outlook after a crazy weekend in which SB favorite Denver and reigning champ Seattle both lost. Prediction: When the updated title odds come out Tuesday, the Patriots will be the new No. 1 and the Packers will be second, The formerly favored Broncos will now be third, with the Seahawks fourth and the (league-leading 9-1) Cardinals rounding out the top five.

GARY SHELTON'S NEW VENTURE: My sports-journalism colleague and friend Gary Shelton has left the
1aa1agsheltonTampa Bay Times after a stellar 25-year career; click here for his farewell column. He is now flying solo with a new venture: garysheltonsports.com. I invite you to check it out -- especially if you are from Tampa/St. Pete or interested in those teams, because Gary's is the voice of authority on sports in that area. Also, he's on Twitter @Gary_Shelton. Veteran Miami Herald readers may remember Gary from his time here in 1984-90, when his beats included the Dolphins. He was really good. Still is.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

November 12, 2014

Hurricanes vs. Seminoles: Who'll win? New poll. Vote now!; plus on NASCAR's Homestead Final Four; also NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY rankings & more

1aa1avetsday1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12. Thanks to all who have served in our military, present and past. Every day, not just on Veterans Day. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose heartbreaker in Detroit, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"Others are finally coming around now to 'Duke Johnson' and 'Heisman Trophy' in the same sentence. Our blog readers first read that from me Oct. 29. You're welcome." --Greg Cote

CANES-NOLES. AND THE WINNER IS...: Our blog's various polls rarely ask who'll win a football game, but Florida State at Miami on Saturday night has me curious how you feel. The Seminoles are a mere 2- 1aa1afsucanespoint favorite, which is rather astonishing considering they are the reigning national champion with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, No. 2-ranked and 9-0 with a 25-game winning streak ... while the Hurricanes are an unranked 6-3, albeit on a three-game win streak. The betting line is an amalgam of this: First, a broad belief that FSU is not (nearly) as good as last season and somehow vulnerable, even though they keep winning. And, second, that UM is playing its best ball of the year, has a hot Duke Johnson, a defense that has improved with an attacking style, and is primed for a home upset. I hesitated about doing this poll at all because, being in a MiamiHerald.com blog, it is predisposed to have a disproportionate number of Canes-fan voters. Still, there are a ton of Tally folks here, too. Besides, I think my readers are able to vote what they honestly predict will happen, not what they hope. Am I right? Forget the negligible point spread. You have a hundred bucks to bet the game straight-up. Who are you picking? Vote and say why.

HOMESTEAD GETS A NASCAR FINAL FOUR THAT IS LACKING: Kevin Harvick. Ryan Newman. Joey Logano. Denny Hamlin. That's it. Only one of those four drivers is eligible to win the NASCAR season 1aa1ahomefinal4championship this Sunday down at Homestead-Miami Speedway. From the perspective of a casual racing fan, I find the Final Four lacking for two reasons. First, while it isn't a no-name group by any means, it lacks anybody who is a national star beyond the realm of racing, such as Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jimmie Johnson. The final four is pictured. If you have no idea who's who ... that's my point. Second, it once again calls into question NASCAR's ever-evolving Chase for the Cup points format. Newman won zero races this year and had a mere four top-five finishes. Hamlin won only one race with seven top-fives. Yet one of them could well reign as the season's "best driver"? Can't see that. Anyway, griping aside, still looking forward to Sunday!

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: PICKS LAG, LOBOS SURGE IN WEEK 10: We update you briefly every Tuesday on 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixhow we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: Lagging. Having a strong season, but not helped much by going 7-6 overall and also 7-6 against the spread last week. Dolphins, Bills, Saints and Bucs -- y'all really let me down. Did have 'dog Browns and Jets with points to help continue my streak of no losing week yet against the spread. Fantasy: Surging. Greg's Lobos improved to 4-6 with a second straight win and begins to sniff playoffs. We won 162-139, led by 42 points from bulwark Marshawn Lynch. Lobos!

SOPY: IT'S CANES' DUKE VS. NOLES' JAMEIS: Miami's Duke Johnson vs. Florida State's Jameis Winston. I'm talkjing about Saturday night at Dolphins stadium, and also about the very top of our latest blog- 1aa1asopyexclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 12:

SOPY WEEK 11 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk11    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         BYE     1,552

2 (3)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        158.5    1,450

3 (2)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      63.5   1,399.5 

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            BYE    1,072.5

5 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           BYE      1,061

6 (7)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        142      1,017

7 (6)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            BYE       957

8 (8)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb             133       914

9 (10)      Matt Jones, Florida-rb             86       799

10 (9)      Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb        39       780

Bubble: Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 743. Week's best: Treon Harris, Florida-qb, 168.5. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Florida and UCF have played 8 games; Miami, FSU and USF have played 9; and FIU and FAU have played 10.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (9-0); 2. Miami (6-3); 3. Florida (5-3); 4. UCF (5-3); 5. SoFla (3-6); 6. FIU (3-7); 7. FAU (3-7).

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

November 10, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 40.3%; plus Miami falls to Lions in last minute 20-16; also new Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Rooting-for-or-against-LeBron poll, state Collball Week 11 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Our Dolphins-Lions gameblog and postgame thoughts are immediately below the new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 40.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 20-16 loss at Detroit putting Miami's season record at 5-4. 1aa1adsm(That's the season best mark following a defeat). The DSM, in its seventh season, 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

G7: 63.2% (following 27-13 victory at Jacksonville)

G8: 97.4% (following 37-0 victory vs. San Diego)

G9: 40.3% (following 20-16 loss at Detroit)

Next poll: Thursday, Nov. 13 (following game vs.Buffalo)

G9: DOLPHINS @ DETROIT: FAILING TO BRING THE MIAMI SOUND TO MOTOWN: Final: Three-game winning streak ends as Dolphins fall to 5-4 and see playoff shot take a hit, a defeat compounded by left tackle Branden Albert's season-ending knee injury. Heartbreak loss as Miami fought from an early 10-0 deficit to take a late lead before giving it up with 29 seconds left. Bottom line? Miami got beat on pass defense as Matthew Stafford threw for 288 yards and Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate both topped 100 yards receiving. Miami also got beat for its red-zone shortco ing, as with settling for three in the fourth quarter from a 1st-and-goal situation. That gave Miami a 16-13 lead but it turned out to be the losing field goal. A hard-fought game by Dolphins, not a shameful loss by any means. But a hurtful loss nonetheless. ..... Fourth quarter: Sure would be nice to have that one timeout Miami used on defense. ... Theo Riddick 11-yard TD pass from Stafford with 29 seconds left. Good coverage by Reshad Jones, but not good enough. ... Miami gets final timeout back after Philbin argues he never called it. ... Fins back up 16-13 on 20-yard kick after Charles Clay drops TD pass in the e-zone. ... DET knots it 13-13 early in fourth on 5-yard kick. ..... Third quarter: Dolphins' first lead at 13-10 as Tannehill-Wallace 3-yard TD pass immediately followed a long Dion Jordan block-field goal return to the 3. Earl Mitchell had the block. ... MIA within 10-6 on 50-yard FG. Lions momentum has been negated. It's a game again. ... Ugh. Dabiel Thomas loses fumble on first possession. ..... Halftime: It's the defensive struggle we thought it would be. Miami has only 103 total yards and must find a qay to spark the offense. Imbalance in the Fins attack so far, with Tannehill at 20 pass attempts and the team only 10-for-18 rushing. Have the conceded the run? We'll see. Miami gets kick to start second half. Feels like Dolphins lucky to be only down by a touch. ..... Second quarter: Miami within 10-3 on 23-yard FG just before half. ... Oy! LT Branden Albert leaves game injured. ... Grimes interception gets it right back for Miami! ... Tannehill intercepted; his own tackle prevents pick-6. ... Tannehill overthrows Wallace on a deep ball ... Lions try another fake punt -- ballsy! -- but Miami stops it. ... Miami's luck so far: Fake punt is sucessful but penalty negates the first down. Penalties hurting. ..... First quarter: Fins O-line is being overwhelmed. ... DET 10-0 on 49-yard Calvin "Megatron" Johnson catch over much-smaller Brent Grimes. Gorgeous deep pass by Matthew Stafford. ... Quick punt for Miami. Ndamukong Suh having his way with Fins OL. ... Koa Misi defensive stop has Detroit settling for short FG and 3-0 lead on drive extended by successful fake punt. Thought Miami defense played well even though Lions controlled ball for 15 plays. ..... Original post: Eliminate Dolfans and Lions fans, extract the partisanship and remove the betting/fantasy factor. This would still be a game that football fans
1aa1adoldetshould want to watch as the second half of the NFL season kicks off. It weighs in both conference's playoff chase. It involves two of the best defenses in the league. And it matches an improving Dolphins offense -- Miami has averaged 30.6 points since Week 4 -- and a Detroit squad getting top weapon Calvin Johnson back. This will be a huge test for Miami's pass defense especially because, apart from the Megatron factor, Golden Tate has been a handful. Should be fun to watch. I'm not convinced the Lions are better than just pretty good. Last time I watched them they were really lucky to beat awful Atlanta by a point in London. Also, erratic Matthew Stafford usually is a decent bet for a pick or two, and I think the Fins' pass rush will bother him. Detroit is favored here by 3, meaning oddsmakers see it dead-even apart from the home-field factor. My pick: Dolphins, 23-20.

Georgia RB Gurley to Dolphins?: NFLDraftScout.com has its 2015 mock draft out, estimates Miami picking 21st, and has the Dolphins selecting Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Click here for the full first-round guesstimates.

THE LIST: BEST DOLPHINS GAMES VS. DETROIT: This is only 11th all-time meeting between the clubs; Miami leads 7-3. Dolphins have faced only the Giants fewer times (7) among franchises that have been around as long. Most indivdiual passing, rushing and receiving yards by a Dolphin vs. the Lions:

Category         Player                    Yards / Date     

Passing            Dan Marino            310 / Dec. 7, 1997

Rushing           Lamar Smith          125 / Nov. 5, 2000

Receiving        Marty Booker          115 / Nov. 23, 2006

Poll result: Heat fans are rooting against LeBron: We asked in the previous blogpost, and "rooting against" beat "rooting for" by a nearly 4-1 margin, 58.6 percent to 15.2.0%. The other 26.2% answered that they are "pretty much ignoring" LeBron this season.

HOT BUTTON NOV. 9: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, an expanded, updated Hot Button Top 10. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Detroit Sunday, then quick Thursday turnaround: Here's your early holiday gift, Dolfans. Two games -- two important games -- in five days, starting in Motown today, then following with Buffalo here Thursday night.

2. Hurricanes: Idle Canes preparing to host FSU in six days: It's No. 2 FSU here Saturday at 8 p.m. Jameis Winston's lawyers want his student conduct code hearing delayed. UM lawyers counter-propose that the hearing be scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. 

3. Heat: Miami, LeBron both win: Heat won last night to improve to 4-2, and LeBron's Cavs also won their last game to go to 2-3. Take a picture of the standings. Might not be much longer that Miami has the better record.

4. College basketball: Canes open season on Friday at home: NCAA hoops tips off in five days, with Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes men hosting Howard after Katie Meier's women face Oakland. Both UM teams are judged mid-pack in the ACC, suggesting March Madness may be closer to March Mildness in the 305.

5. NASCAR: One week until season crescendo at Homestead: Today in Phoenix determines the final four drivers eligible for NASCAR's season title next Sundday at Homestead. Winner will be whichever driver has fastest car, or the most luck avoiding the vindictive non-qualifiers hell-bent on running the finalists into a wall.

6. Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod's latest shame: It was reported The Yankees' fading star, under oath, admitted all about his PED use to DEA agents, while still continuing to publicly deny all wrongdoing. We thought he was cheat. Turned out he was a cheat, and a lliar.

7. Stephen Ross: Dolphins owner puts business over football: Ross agreed to have Miami play a "home game" against the division rival Jets in London next year, denying the team one of eight home games, and cheating Dolfans of the joy of booing their most hated rival.

8. Marlins: Club begins contract talks with Stanton: Giancarlo Stanton, who finds out Thursday if he is the NL MVP, has begun talks with club about possibly re-signing long-term. Hope Jeffrey Loria isn't involved. Writing a check with that many commas must make him nauseous. 

9. Panthers: Hockey team loses, but at least finds the net: Florida lost 6-4 last night to the Calgary Flames. The good news? Cats topped two goals for only the second time all season.

10. Soccer: Strikers reach NASL title game: Fort Lauderdale Strikers will visit San Antonio next Saturday in the NASL championship game, the club's first shot at a title since the 1980 Soccer bowl in the original NASL. Holy Cor van der Hart!

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

November 04, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.4%; plus Fins rout Chargers 37-0 behind Tannehill and D, my Philbin column; also Canes record, Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Dolphins. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whomp North Carolina, CSM poll, FIU falls, Gators stun Georgia & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

CSM sets season high: Voting in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll wrapped this morning at 92.2 percent, a season high. Find complete results in the blogpost directly below this.

My Philbin column: Getting a huge email response to my column off the game on coach Joe Philbin celebrating his biggest Dolphins win while mouring the death of his father. It seems to have touched many readers who aren't even sports fans. Click on Heartache and Joy to read it. (Find our Dolphins-Chargers gamepost and postgame thoughts immediately below the latest DSM poll).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 97.4 percent overall satisfaction -- a season high -- in the wake of Sunday's 37-0 victory over visiting San Diego putting Miami's season record at 5-3. The DSM, in its seventh season, 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

;

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

G7: 63.2% (following 27-13 victory at Jacksonville)

G8: 97.4% (following 37-0 victory vs. San Diego)

Next poll: Nov. 9 (following game at Detroit)

G8: SAN DIEGO @ DOLPHINS: A PLAYOFF TEAM DECLARES ITSELF HERE: Final: Miami's first defensive shutout since 2006. Ryan Tannehill's career-best 125.6 passer rating. A dominating home triumph over a quality opponent has Miami 5-3 at midseason and very much thinking playoffs. Impressive. The best all-round, end-to-end victory in the three-year Joe Philbin/Tannehill era. Happy for Philbin, personally, with the win coming just two days after he tended to the death of his father, Paul, who passed away at 93. ..... Fourth quarter: Starting QBs Tannehill and Rivers both out of game, it's so lopsided. ..... Third quarter: It's 37-0. Jarvis Landry 14-yard TD is Tannehill's third scoring throw of game. TD set up by fumble-causing sack by Olivier Vernon that Jared Odrick recovered, Miami's fourth defensive takeaway. ... Grimes with his second pick. Dolphins D is making this a nightmare for Rivers. ... MIA 30-0 after 23-yard FG set up by Grimes pick. Should have been more. Clay and Wallace both dropped TD passes inside the 10. ... Brent Grimes intercepts Rivers, returns to SD 19. ... Miami sails to 27-0 lead on Tannehill's 21-yard TD pass to Rishard Matthews. What an a-- kicking! ..... Halftime: Tannehill is 18-for-25, 208 yards and a TD at the break, and Miami's defense has limited the Chargers to 118 total yards. A dominating half by Miami. Did not expect to be saying that. Good Fins, Good Tanny are in the house so far. ..... Second quarter: MIA 20-0 inside of 2 minutes. Fins ride 38-yard Wallace catch to 1st and goal but settle for 25-yard FG. ... Reshad Jones intercepts Philip Rivers, returns 16 yards to Bolts 31. A 26-yard FG and 17-0 lead is result. ... Lamar Miller 2-yard TD run has MIA up 14-0 early in second Q. ..... First quarter: Strong start for Dolphins. ... MIA up 7-0 on 77-yard opening drive capped by Charles Clay 6-yard TD pass from Ryan Tannehill. Tanny 6-for-6 on drive. ... Bolts unwisely eschew 39-yard FG attempt, go for it on 4th and 1 from MIA 22 and are stopped on Reshad Jones tackle. ..... Pregame: Kickoff temp 69 degrees with crazy-low 29% humidity. Hope game is as good as this perfect weather. ... I'm second-guessing today's pick (Chargers 24-20) a little bit. Usually don't do that. ..... Original post: San Diego is 5-3. Miami is 4-3 at it reaches midseason today. Today's 1 p.m. kickoff feels like a pivotal game that will see the winner looking like a playoff-team and the loser seeming like something else. The Dolphins have won two games 1aa1adolsdin a row and are one last-second play (vs. Packers) from carrying four consecutive W’s into Sunday’s matinee. Oppositely, two consecutive losses have sort of knocked the bloom off Philip Rivers (erstwhile MVP candidate) and San Diego (erstwhile NFL “it” team). I’m still a bit surprised the Dolphins are favored here, albeit slightly, by 1 1/2 points. The Chargers defense is as good as Miami’s — actually 18.6 points allowed to Fins’ 21.6 — and Rivers is more reliable than Ryan Tannehill, who for some reason has tended to struggle more at home than away this season. Dolphins’ O was really bad in Jacksonville last week, leaving Mike Wallace to complain, “We’re not going to get nowhere like that.” (Tweet! Throw a grammar flag. That’s a double negative!) I just see Bolts as a little less erratic and a little better all-round. Aside to Dolphins defense: Diego TE Antonio Gates is reborn and having a monster year. Cover him, won’t you? Historical note: Fins have won seven consecutive games in this occasional series, with SD’s last win in Miami the famous 41-38 overtime playoff game on Jan.2, 1982. So add the law of averages embodied in the weight of 32 years to the reasons my gut is telling me the visitors' return flight will be happier than the home team’s postgame locker room. My pick: Chargers, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON NOV. 2: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, an expanded, updated Hot Button Top 10. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Miami hosts Chargers seeking third straight wins: Dan Marino was still a Pitt Panther and Chargers' QB was Dan Fouts when San Diego last won in Miami — that famous 41-38 overtime game Jan.2, 1982. Bolts have since lost seven in a row here. Dolfans who believe in trends are happy. Those who believe in law of averages are nervous.

2. Hurricanes: UM, Duke of Gables stay hot in rout of UNC: Canes beat ACC rival North Carolina 47-20 here in a Saturday homecoming game that saw Duke Johnson pile up 226 offensive yards and score three TDs. Team had ceremony honoring former UM quarterback great Jim Kelly. It was "Kelly Tough," then it was "Duke Great."

3. Heat: Strong start to post-LeBron era for Miami: Heat are 2-0 entering this evening's home game vs. Toronto, and Chris Bosh has 56 points. Oh, and Cleveland fans were disappointed after an opening loss in which LeBron James shot only 5 for 15 and had eight turnovers. "Pinch me," said Miami fans. "I must be dreaming!"

4. College football: First playoff rankings already due a shakeup: The first College Football Playoff rankings had Mississippi State, FSU, Auburn and Ole Miss as the top four, but Ole Miss' Saturday loss will change that. I trust the CFP committee featuring Condoleezza Rice. I just hope her intel on football is better than her intel was in ’03 on those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

5. Baseball: Giants deny Cinderella Royals: No offense, Madison Bumgarner, but I think San Francisco’s third title in five years was something only a Giants fan could love. It answered the question, "Is it possible for a World Series to go to a Game 7 that ends 3-2 with the tying run on third and still think that World Series was boring?"

6. Gators: Florida stuns No. 11 Georgia: UF fans were left toasting the World's Largest Cocktail Party with a 38-20 win that may have saved Will Muschamp's job. New QB Treon Harris did great, expertly handing off as Gators topped 400 yards rushing.

7. Panthers: Cats finding their claws after slow start: Florida has shaken off an 0-3 start to win four of past six hockey games including last night over Flyers. Grading on a curve, that's a hot streak.

8. Horse racing: Bayern wins controversial Breeders' Cup: It was a rough start and a photo finish in the only horse race outside of the Triple Crown that most of us pay any attention to.

9. NASCAR: Only two races left before Homestead: Can't wait for the big Nov. 16 finale at Homestead. Looking forward to an exciting day of bitter feuds, intentional wrecks, pit-row shoving, and, time permitting, an auto race.

10. Politics: Florida elects governor Tuesday: Hey, we sports fans are interested in more than sports, right? We're also intrested in electing a great next governor. Unfortunately, our choice is Rick Scott or Charlie Crist.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

October 21, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 80.7%; plus Fins, hot Tannehill win in Chicago 27-14; also new Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 20. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Noles edge Irish and other collball, Royals-Giants WS poll, NFL Week 7 picks, Jameis Winston verdict, Chelsea showers & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins-Bears gameblog and postgame report directly below latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: Results are in on the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 80.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the highest level since the season opener -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 27-14 victory at Chicago putting Miami's season record at 3-3. 1aa1adsmThe DSM, in its seventh season, 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

Next poll: Oct. 26 (following game at Jacksonville)

G6: DOLPHINS 27, CHICAGO 14: TANNEHILL, DEFENSE IN CHARGE: Final: Huge road win bringing MIA to 3-3, led by Ryan Tannehill, who completed his first 14 passes and finished 25-32 for 277 yards, two TDs and 123.6 rating. Excellent. Eight receivers with two-plus catches. And Tanny adds 48 yards rusing from read-option runs to lead a 137-yard ground attack. Defensively Miami wins turnover war 3-0 and dominates in time of possession 37  minutes to 23. All around Miami's best end-to-end performance of the season. ..... Fourth quarter: Defensive stop clinches it for Miami! ... MIA 27-14 on 19-yard FG just outside 2-minute warning, after Charles Clay holding penalty wipes away Miller TD run. ... Jamar Taylor bad pass interference penalty cost MIA 39 yards, leads directly to 1-yard Forte TD run as Bears within 24-14 with 7:38 to play. ... Fins muff FG try set up by Starks, waste chance. Kick was partially blocked. ... Cortland Finnegan knocks ball from Brandon Marshall, Randy Starks recovers. Third takeaway for MIA defense. ... Fins 24-7 on 32-yard FG after Cam Wake sack/fumble recovery sets up team at CHI 16. ..... Third quarter: MIA 21-7 on 2-yard Lamar Miller TD run after Tannehill 30-yard run on 4th down made it 1st and goal. Huge for Fins to answer CHI's TD and keep momentum. ... Matt Forte 10-yard scoring pass from Cutler puts Da Bears right back in game. ..... Halftime: Miami thoroughly dominated half and probably should be ahead more than 14-0. Tannehill superb at 14-for-15, 176 yards, 2 TDs. Been sacked four times, though, about the only negative for Fins in half. ..... Second quarter: Wallace 10-yard TD catch makes good use of Jones' INT. Tannehil now 10-for-10 for 136 yards, two TDs. Man! ... He's baa-aaack. Reshad Jones intercepts Cutler, returns ball 49 yards. ... Sturgis pushes a 50Y FG try wide right. This is an average NFL kicker, not a good one. That 3rd-down sack cost Miami three points. ..... First quarter: Fins 7-0 with first 1Q TD since Game 1, a 13-yard Tannehill strike to TE Charles Clay. Of course it was Clay. I benched him on my fantasy team today! ..... Original post: One of the mysteries and intrigues of today's 1 p.m. game is that "Dolphins at Chicago" is one of the most rare phrases in the Dolfan lexicon. This marks only the club’s fifth visit to Soldier Field, following earlier trips in 1975, 1988, 1991 and 1aa1achimia2006. (With apologies to the superstitious, Fins did not make the playoffs any of the four previous seasons they played in Chicago). Joey Harrington pitched for Miami when last the Dolphins ventured into Soldier Field. I’d fancy Jay Cutler over Ryan Tannehill in the duel of present-day arms. That’s mostly because Cutler’s targets, ex-Fin Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, have a combined 11-inch height advantage over Dolphin mini-corners Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan. Also, Tannehill is 0-4 with six picks in career road games vs. NFC teams, and he could face a bunch of third-and-longs if Chitown’s run-D is as stout today as it has been the past few weeks. I also wonder how Miami will respond after last week’s last-second, sort-of-blew-it heartbreak loss. (Here comes the “but.”) But the Soldier has hardly been magic lately for the Bears. Chicago, a mere 3 1/2-point favorite, is 0-2 at home this season, and is 1-10-1 against the spread in the past 12 home games. This is a huge swing game for Miami, with lousy Jacksonville on deck. Win today to go 3-3 and playoff hopes will be rekindled. Lose to go 2-4 and a here-we-go-again pall will revisit. Alas, I see the latter as likelier. My pick: Chicago, 23-20.

Poll result: Royals dominate World Series rooting interest: We asked un the previous blogpost who you hope wins the World Series, and it was 78.6 percent for the Royals and 21.4% for the Giants. 

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package has returned in print from summer hiatus (click HERE for today's latest edition), but due to semi-popular demand an updated, expanded Hot Button continues as an exclusive Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Miami makes rare visit to Soldier Field: Today marks only team's fifth visit to Chicago and only second since 1991. Will we see Good Fins or Bad Fins? Any Dolfan confident in the answer is probably lying to himself.

2. College football: FSU, Winston survive Notre Dame: As we await the firing of Gators coach Will Muschamp, Florida State and embattled QB Jameis Winston survived last night in Tallahassee, 31-27, when a last-second Notre Dame TD was nullified by a penalty. Luck o' the Irish ... not. 

3. Hurricanes: UM readies for Va-Tech after short bye: Miami prepares to face Virginia Tech this Thursday night in Blacksburg. UM was off this week but the bye rushed for 318 yards against the beleaguered Canes' run defense.

4. World Series: It's Royals vs. Giants starting Tuesday: Best thing about matchup? Contrast in SF having won two recent WS titles and KC in its first postseason since 1985. Worst thing? Maudlin media rehashing on 25th anniversary of '89 World Series earthquake in San Fran.

5. Heat: Countdown 10 days 'til season opener: Miami is 2-4 in preseason with two exhibitions left after winning in San Antonio yesterday despite Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng all sitting. Which pretty much tells you how significant preseason results are.

6. Panthers: Cats on road seeking second win: Florida has won only once and scored a league-low five goals in the first five games of the NHL schedule. Bad sign when you're two weeks in and it already seems like a long season. 

7. NASCAR: Elimination day in Chase: Today at Talladega the Chase for the Cup field will be reduced from 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the drivers in jeopardy of being eliminated, despite the wishes of televising network ESPN.

8. Tennis: Official suspended over Williams slur: The WTA has suspended a Russian Tennis Federation official who referred to Serena and Venus Williams as "brothers" and called them "scary to look at." If only he'd have said "scary to play," nobody would have argued.

9. Biogenesis: Bosch pleads guilty: Anthony Bosch, founder of the Coral Gables "anti-aging clinic" that funneled PEDs to Alex Rodriguez and others, pleaded guilty and faces sentencing. Bosch was only doing his part to keep Cooperstown quaint by keeping the population down.

10. Politics: Gubernatorial Fangate: The Florida gubernatororial debate between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist was delayed when Scott briefly boycotted over Crist's use of a small cooling fan. The irony? Based on the low approval and trust ratings for both men, I'm not either have many fans.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 31, 2014

Rate my fantasy draft. Annual poll. Vote now!; plus UM, Fins, Wade wedding star in new Hot Button Top 10; also U-Bird, FIU-Herald verdict & more

1) It is SUNDAY, AUGUST 31. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): FIU opens vs. Miami Herald with poll, Dolphins cuts, Dwyane Wade's wedding, Upset Bird Countdown, SOPY, Ikea & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1aaflacduckUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 5 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of 1aa1abird5NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 5 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following NBA New Orleans' Pierre the Pelican), we welcome the Aflac Duck, who since 2000 has successfully peddled insurance. Main attribute: Far less annoying than Flo from Progressive.

RATE MY FANTASY DRAFT:  My eight-team friends 'n family fantasy football league held its draft earlier 1aa1afantasytoday and I invite you (as I do every year) to rate what you think is the best team, or the one you'd most like to have, based on each team's first three picks. I know that's tough but who said life was fair? Which trio would you most like to start a team with? It's a PPR (point-per-reception) league hosted  by ESPN. Teams in the poll are listed in the draft order. This is a blind list so you don' know which team is mine, but of course I'll tell you later. My draft. Now your verdict. Vote and say why.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package has returned in print from summer hiatus (click here for today's latest edition), but due to broad disinterest popular demand an expanded Hot Button continues as a Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. UM football: Kaaya leads Canes at Louisville Monday: True freshman Brad Kaaya, son of a 1980s B-film actress, starts for UM in national-stage game that concludes college Week 1. Canes fans hoping the genes extend and that Brad, cast as a great quarterback, is convinging in the role.

2. Dolphins: Ready or not, here comes Patriots, NFL season: After 3-1 preseason, Miami opens schedule next Sunday vs. rival New England. Recent ESPN poll of league insiders ranked Bill Belichick the NO. 1 coach and Joe Philbin 29th. On the plus side, Joe is a snappier dresser.

3. NFL: Fins, others reduce rosters to 53: Rams released openly gay Michael Sam, while in Miami the only real notable cuts were RB Donald Thomas and kick returner Marcus Thigpen. Exit of Thomas, former 2nd-round pick, another reminder how good former GM Jeff Ireland wasn't.

4. Dwyane Wade: Heat star's not-so-secret wedding: Wade and actress Gabrielle Union wed Saturday night at Chateau Artison, an island castle in Redland in southwest Miami-Dade. Was supposed to be top secret, but never a good sign when the confidentiality agreement guests had to sign is leaked to TMZ.

5. College football: Noles escape, Gators don't play: No. 1 Florida State and Jameis "Crab Legs" Winston escaped Oklahoma State, 37-31, while in Gainesville, lightning forced a postponement of Florida's opener vs. Idaho. "I never liked the Gators," explained God.

6. Marlins: Playoff hopes slim, getting slimmer: Fish slipped to 5 1/2 games out of wild-card chase entering today's game. Are we still pretending they're sort of alive? I mean, I guess you can still Miami's playoff hopes, but it now requires a Hubble telescope.

7. Team USA: American hoops on stage in FIBA World Cup: Top NBA star like LeBron James and Kevin Durant are sitting out the FIBA World Cup, but U.S. swamped Finland anyway Saturday, 114-55, and plays Turkey today. Soon the U.S. may face a country where they actually play basketball.

8. NFL: League gets tough on domestic violence: It's now a minimum six-game suspension for first offense and lifetime ban for a second. Ironically, the tougher penalties for physical violence happened because commissioner Roger Goodell got beat up in the media.

9. FIU: School picks a fight with Miami Herald: Athletic director Pete Garcia refused a credential for the Herald's FIU beat writer, so the Herald declined to cover the team. That means FIU lost twice Saturday, once to Bethune-Cookman, and once to common sense. 

10 (tie). NASCAR: Stewart back on track after tragedy: Tony Stewart races today for first time since Aug. 9 tragedy in which he struck and killed a sprint-car driver. Wonder if Stewart's legion of haters will break down and actually sort of almost be rooting for him?

10 (tie). Tennis: U.S. Open at midway point: Been a few upsets as usual, but major tennis remains our most predctable sport. As long as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Serena Williams are still alive in the U.S. Open, we have our eventual winners.

Poll result: Herald has broad support in feud with FIU: The Miami Herald is declining to cover FIU football because the school denied a credential to its beat reporter. We asked who you side with and the Herald won with 81.6 percent.

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