March 13, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Starring Canes and Selection Sunday, Team USA collapse, white-hot Heat, ice-cold Cats, El Clasico; plus didn't we invent baseball?, concert review (Smokey Robinson), Lorde, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, March 13. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Thank you Mae Riback, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Canes out in ACCs, ESPN analyst slams Dolphins for Stills/Branch deals, how/why 'The Ballad Of 1440' happened & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

NCAA title odds by conference: Via Bovada today, odds on which conference will produce the men's NCAA Tournament national champion: ACC 11-4, Pac-12 7-2, Big 12 19-4, Big East 6-1, SEC 19-2, Big Ten 22-1, field (any other conference) 19-2.

LordeMy sweet Lorde: Really like Lorde and like her new song, "Green Light," that she performed on SNL last night. Click here to see the song's official video. Side note: Lorde is 20. In the video, for reasons unknown and as pictured, she looks 40.

ICYMI: Thank you, Mae Riback: This was a recent short human-interest column about my finally meeting my oldest fan, and it has gotten an extraordinary outpouring of positive response. If you missed it, click on Thank you, Mae Riback to read. 

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

Hotbutton1. NCAA TOURNAMENT: Hurricanes to face Michigan State in opener: Selection Sunday set the 68-team men's NCAA Tournament field last evening, including a Miami Hurricanes vs. Michigan State first-round matchup Friday night at 9:20 p.m. in the Midwest regional in Tulsa. Canes, 8-seeds, have opened as 2-point favorites over the 9-seed Spartans. So. Ready? "Gentlemen (and ladies) ... start ... your ... brackets!"

2. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Team USA, Dominicans advance: Four-team round robin play at Marlins Park ended Sunday night with the U.S. and Dominican Republic advancing to the next round of the WBC. The D.R. is defending champion while underachieving Team USA has never won a WBC title or even medaled. Um, didn't we invent baseball!? Tick-tock, fellas. Represent, dammit!

3. HEAT: Miami still 1 back in playoff chase: Heat is on a 21-5 run even after losing at Indiana Sunday as it awaits a five-game homestand starting Wednesday, but still is 1 game back of the 8th seed and playoff pace. Meanwhile coach-of-the-year talk has begun for Erik Spoelstra. That's the plus side of starting 11-30. Nowhere to go but up.

4. SOCCER: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona confirmed for Miami: Months of rumors are now reality. “El Clasico,” the best rivalry in international club soccer, is coming to Hard Rock Stadium July 29. Major event? I'd liken it to a Super Bowl, but that might flatter the NFL. (Barcelona, by the way, just engineered the greatest comeback in Champions League history in overcoming a 4-0 hole to oust Paris St. Germain).

5. NFL: Dolphins busy as free agency underway: Miami spent big to keep S Reshad Jones and WR Kenny Stills as free agency began, and also signed former Pro Bowl LB Lawrence Timmons and reacquired TE Anthony Fasano. A team that made the playoffs for first time since 2008 is acting like it's serious about building something. Dolfans call that "a pleasant change."

6. PANTHERS: Reeling Cats sink from playoff race: Florida made it eight losses in past nine games in falling at Tampa Bay Saturday and now is seven points off NHL playoff pace. There is a phrase for chances Cats still make the postseason. It is, "Miracle on Ice." 
 
7. UM WOMEN: It's Selection Monday for Katie Meier's Canes: Women's NCAA field materializes this evening, and 16th-ranked Canes expect to be around a No. 5 regional seed. UM women have shaky history in NCAAs, so pressure will be on.
 
8. TONY ROMO: What's happening with poor Tony?: They're trading him. They're not trading him. What the Dallas Cowboys do with unseated veteran quarterback Tony Romo has become the biggest drama of NFL free agency.
 
9. NASCAR: Truex wins Las Vegas: Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday's NASCAR race. Gee, you think a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway had any bets placed on it? Now Vegas is getting the Oakland Raiders too as the line between gambling and sports fades to non-existence.
 
10. CANES BASEBALL: Sunday win eases rough start for UM: Once-ranked Miami is now 5-9 after beating Georgia Tech to take two of three in its ACC home series. That's still only 3-9 since a 2-0 start for Jim Morris' guys. Oy.

Missing the HB10 cut: Nothing personal, UFC, but are people really supposed to be excited by a "Belfort vs. Gastelum" fight? ..... Although at least they actually fought. It's still all talk on Mayweather vs. McGregor, and probably will be for months ..... Did you all spring forward one hour? Line of the day seen on Twitter but funny only to the anti-Trump crowd: "Can we please spring forward four years?"

"LET'S GOOOOOOOO STATES!" TIME FOR TEAM USA TO REMIND WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC WHO INVENTED THIS SPORT: [Update: After a blown-lead loss to the Dominican Republic the U.S. beat Canada on Sunday to advance in the WBC] Original post: This is the fourth World Baseball Classic going on, with first-round WbcmiamiMiami games at Marlins Park, as well as in Seoul, Tokyo and Jalisco, Mexico. The United States team has yet to win a WBC championship or even earn any sort of medal by finishing in the top three. It is a disappointment bordering on embarrassment. Team USA manager Jim Leyland (the former Marlins championship skipper) bristles at the topic, but it is real. How can the country that invented baseball watch Japan (in 2006 and '09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) win WBC titles when the American team always has so many more major-leaguers as a national-team talent pool? This is the subject of today's latest column by me. Click on Time For Team USA To Win This Thing to read. The U.S. (featuring Marlins Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich) rallied to beat Colombia last night 3-2 in 10 innings. Tonight at 6:30 comes the WBC's signature game for Miami: U.S. vs. defending champ Dominican Republic in a sold-out game. The Americans can secure an advance to the second round by winning. Crowd will be raucous and the stakes high. Supposedly the crowd will be pro-Dominican. We'll see. Can't wait.

CONCERT REVIEW: SMOKEY ROBINSON: A LOT TO LIKE, BUT...: Wife and I went to see Motown icon Smokey Robinson earlier this week at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. I was Smokeynever a super-fan. My appreciation of what we used to call soul music from that era tended more towards the grittier sound of Stax/Memphis than the more polished stuff coming out of Motown/Detroit. I'll take the funk of Al Green and The Staple Singers, thanks. Still, I try to see legendary performers I have never seen, and wanted to check Smokey off that list. As a solo performer or with the Miracles, he's a Hall of Famer whose career I respect. The first half of the show did not disappoint. He performed all of the familiar hits, and very well, his distinctive voice still clear and strong. He engaged with the audience. I learned that a few famous songs by others, like "My Girl" by the Temptations, were written by Smokey. Also learned that his signature hit, "Tears Of a Clown," happened because Stevie Wonder had written the music and gave it to Smokey. Great stuff. Alas, the second half of the show dragged when Robinson got into a bunch of slow jams and morphed into romantic/sexy mode, complete with hip grinds. Umm, how to say this delicately? Smokey, sir, you're 77 now. Your voice and songs are enough.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-13-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Selection Monday, 7 p.m.: Women's turn as NCAA Tournament field set for Canes, others.

2. Marlins vs. New York Mets, 1:10 p.m.: Spring game in Port St. Lucie.

3. Manchester United vs. Chelsea, 3:30 p.m.: FA cup soccer match.

4. Netherlands vs. Israel, 6 a.m.: World Baseball Classic second-round game.

Select recent columns: D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic last night. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

ICYMI: 'THE BALLAD OF 1440': A final spin of our new autobiographical song...

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring ridiculous ASG, Heat plans, Marlins weirdness, sizzling' Cats, Hurricanes, Dolphins; plus is he whale enough? (my Whiteside column), your verdict on Marlins expectations & more

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

Prezday1) It is MONDAY, February 20. It is the federal holiday Presidents Day, which of course can mean only one thing. That's right. "Not My Presidents Day" anti-Trump protests across America. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins open spring training with expectations poll, Kate Upton revealed, ode to the Monopoly thimble & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Heat, Whiteside: My new Sunday column: We're coming into Pat Riley Season: Trading deadline, then draft, then free agency. So, the question hovering over the Miami Heat at the all-star break: Is Hassan Whiteside "whale" enough for Riley? Good enough to be the centerpiece around which Riley can build another champion? Click on Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? to read in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 19): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Ridiculous All-Star Games breaks scoring records: The West beat the East 192-182 in NBA's 66th All-Star Game on Sunday night (sans any Heat participants, alas) in New Orleans. That was a record for total points, as was MVP Anthony Davis' ASG-record 52 points. But league's biggest news Sunday was Pelicans acquiring DeMarcus Cousins to pair with Davis in frontcourt. Look out, Warriors?

2. HEAT: And what does Miami have in store post-break?: Heat resume play this coming Friday only two games off playoff pace after winning 14 of last 16 games before the All-Star break. But first, up next: What you got planned for that Feb. 23 (Thursday) trade deadline, Mr. Riley? Anything? Or will you stand Pat?

3. MARLINS: Full spring work underway as sale talk turns weird: Full-squad spring training got underway Friday up in Jupiter as talks to sell the club took a weird turn. I mean, what were the odds that Jeffrey Loria maybe becoming U.S. Ambassador to France might somehow cause the frontrunning buyer to back out?

4. PANTHERS: Sizzling Cats hovering around playoff pace: Florida on Saturday won its fourth straight and seventh of past eight to get on playoff pace but is one point off entering tonight's game in St. Louis. Meanwhile Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,900th career NHL point the day he turned 45. Who else gives middle age a good name like this dude?

5. HURRICANES: Big games in play for UM men, women as regular seasons ebb: Miami's 16th-ranked women's fell at No. 13 Duke on Sunday, now the Canes men play at No. 14 Virginia tonight as last few games of regular season help shape NCAA seeding for both. CBS featured Jim Larranaga Sunday in its "Men Of March" series.

6. UM BASEBALL: Diamond Canes fail to nail down sweep in season-opening series: Jim Morris' guys got clobbered on Sunday but still took two of three from Rutgers in their season-opening home series at the Light. Reaching Omaha the imperative as usual in Morris' next-to-last season.

7. DOLPHINS: Team extends Wake's contract: Cam Wake is 35, but last season proved he ain't done yet, and the Dolphins rewarded him on Saturday with a two-year, $19 million contract extension. Everybody's happy except opposing quarterbacks.

8. NASCAR: Elliott, Dale Jr. on Daytona front row: NASCAR season -- funneling to the title run in Homestead in November -- begins this coming Sunday with the Daytona 500, and qualifying runs yesterday found Chase Elliott winning the pole position and Dale Earnhardt Jr. joining him on the front row.

9. TENNIS: Delray Beach Open tennis gets going: Running through next Sunday, it's a second-tier pro event on the men's ATP tour. Low on starpower, but if watching Jack Sock play is your thing, then go for it.

10. BOATING: Miami International Boat Show ends today: Four-day event's 76th edition has drawn thousands to Miami Marine Stadium. But you know that it's like they say: You are never happier than the day you buy a boat … other than the day you finally unload that money-eating monster you hardly used.

Missing the HB10 cut: Unlike his predecessors, President Donald Trump declined to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. Like championship teams eager to visit the White House, it seems like another presidential tradition is dying ..... Nine ex-Hurricanes led by Brad Kaaya have been invited to the March 2-5 pre-draft NFL Scouting Combine. Let the meat market begin! ..... UConn women's team won its 100th straight game (streak is now 101), and it's sort of embarrassing. C'mon, women's basketball. A little parity, please? ..... Urgent reminder: the Sailing World Cup is now less than 100 days away ..... Major League Soccer season is almost upon us as David Beckham marks what feels like the 20th anniversary of his protracted, stalling efforts to see a team in Miami.

Poll result: Mild optimism for Marlins to contend, but not to make playoffs: We asked what you realistically expect of the Miami Marlins this season, and a plurality of 37.6 percent voted "mediocre team never really in the hunt. But another 36.1% voted "contending team that just misses playoffs," while 17.3% voted "the playoffs, finally!" The other 9.0% voted for "post-Jose, a bad season." Overall, that's 53.4% who see a contending team vs. 46.6% who do not.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-20-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Panthers at St. Louis, 8 p.m.: Hot Cats, now one point off playoff pace, seek fifth straight win.

2. Hurricanes at Virginia, 7 p.m.: UM men face ranked foes in three of last four games including No. 14 Cavaliers.

3. Delray Beach Open, 11 a.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event continues.

4. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show wraps up at Miami Marine Stadium.

Select recent columns: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, my new one, surveying Heat at the all-star break. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from the start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 22, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.7%; plus Fins' miracle rally beats L.A. 14-10 for 5th straight win!; also, Johnson wins Homestead to make NASCAR history, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Fins501) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21. Heat announce they'll retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 on Dec. 22. 2) See the buoyant new rating in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll in the blogpost directly below this one. 3) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. Pictured right: the books for sale at Costco. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at North Carolina State with CSM poll, other state Collball, your verdicts on NASCAR winner and LeBron-posse & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jimmie Johnson makes, well, equals, NASCAR history: Click on Surreal At 200 MPH for my column from Homestead-Miami Speedway on Johnson's record-tying seventh career Sprint Cup championship by Johnson last night.

A few of our other select recent columns: A Race For History, previewing the NASCAR season finale here. Also: Doctor Speed (Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli). Week 11 Gems (latest NFL picks). South Florida to Canton (locals up for induction). Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

Dolphins in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find both here directly below the new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 95.7%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and the show 95.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 14-10 victory at Los Angeles putting Miami's season record Dsmat 6-4 after a fifth consecutive win. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

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

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

Next poll: Nov. 27 (following game vs. San Francisco)

G10: DOLPHINS @ LOS ANGELES: GOFF DEBUT AN UNPREDICTABLE WILD-CARD AS MIAMI SEEKS FIFTH STRAIGHT WIN: Final thoughts: Wow. Just, wow. I mean, Miami's offense was doing nothing through three quarters. Tannehill was having a nightmare. He'd had 57 yards on 21 throws. He'd been sacked four times. Miami didn't even convert a 3rd down until 5:44 remained. Then Tanny throws two TDs in the fourth quarter, a flatlining offense miraculously coming alive to extend the winning streak to five games and make Miami 6-4 and bona fide playoff contenders. Tannehill's late heroics won the game, but so did Miami's defense, limiting the Rams to 226 total yards. If you make the playoffs, you look back on wisns like this, comeback wins on the road. Amazing ... 4Q: Miracle! Miami 14-10 with 36 seconds left on Tanny-Parker 9-yard scoring pass ... Fins get ball back at own 25 with 2 minutes left ... MIA within 10-7 on Tannehil-Landry 10-yard scoring pass ... Rams miss 48-yard FG try ... This is futility defined: Miami has 10 punts, and 57 yards on 21 pass attempts ..... 3Q: LA 10-0 on 46-yard FG, a hole made to seem huge by Miami's inept offense so far today ... Penalties hurting Miami, not for first time this season ... Tannehill deep ball for Parker is intercepted by Rams. First turnover of game ... Miami just punted for seventh time. Ugly ..... Halftime thoughts: Boring game at 7-0, Rams. Eleven punts, six by Miami. Fins defense has been fine, giving up a total of only 108 yards. It's Miami's passing game that needs to unclog and get down the field. Tanmnehill's 10 completions have covered only 51 yards. Ain't gonna cut it ..... 2Q: Miami now has five more punts than points ... A fourth Dolphins punt. Seven completions for 31 yards ain't gonna cut it, Tannehill. Dink City. Need to mix in a little vertical, Fins ..... 1Q: Miami only 71 yards' offense in opening quarter --half on that one 36-yard run ... How does this happen? Ajayi 36-yard run to the LA 22, and you wind up 4th-and-29 at the 41 and punt ... Two punts, 26 total yards in two series for Miami offense so far ... LA 7-0 on Guirley 24-yard TD run ... Figured this as low-scoring game, and first two series (punt-punt) have shown why ..... Original post: It was 1986 when last the Dolphins played the Rams in Los Angeles. Dan Marino was blooming into his awesome prime. Ryan Tannehill wasn't born yet. Adam Gase was an 8-year-old kid kickin' around Ypsilanti, Michigan. Thirty years later, Miami is 5-4 after a Mialaseason-saving, face-saving four-game win streak and is a scant 1-point road favorite to make it five W's in a row. Los Angeles is 4-5, but with a stout defense and the interesting, unpredictable wild-card of the long-anticipated first NFL career start for QB Jared Goff, the overall No. 1 draft pick out of Cal. That alone gives this otherwise so-so 4 p.m. matchup a wiggle of national heft, although the Dolphins trying to stretch their winning streak of course tops the marquee through the Miami lens. Goff incubated half a season on the bench until finally it dawned on Jeff Fisher and L.A. that their offense was really bad (last in NFL scoring average at 15.4) under Case Keenum and needed a jolt. Doubt they'll ask Goff to do too much, though. He wasn't very good in preseason and will have butterflies today the size of pterodactyls. Expect a heap of Fins pass pressure early. The odds of Goff struggling and throwing a couple of picks seem greater to me than the odds he'll be the hero and the headline. That's why I'd expect we'll see a heavy dose of RB Todd Gurley as the Rams try ease the immense pressure on Goff and exploit an uneven Fins run defense. Miami's bigger concern should be L.A.'s defense, which is stout. Star DT Aaron Donald has potential to make it tough on Ryan Tannehill and also threaten Jay Ajayi's hot streak of 608 yards rushing in past four games. Doesn't help that Miami's O-line is depleted again with center Mike Pouncey injured (again). But if the ifs come through -- if Miami's offensive line is simply good enough and if the run defense limits Gurley -- the Dolphins should get that golden fifth straight win in what figures as a low-scoring game. My pick: Dolphins, 19-16.

JIMMIE JOHNSON WINS NASCAR FINALE AT HOMESTEAD -- RACE AND RECORD-TYING 7TH SEASON TITLE: Click Surreal at 200 MPH for my column from the track on Johnson's big (and rather incredible) triumph last night. Original post: Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano (that's Nascar Homesteadalphabetical) will race for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship today at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- one of Greater Miami's premier annual sporting events. Whomever of those four finalists crosses under the checkered flag first wins the title, and anyone not specifically a fan of Busch/Edwards/Logano must be rooting for Johnson, right? Well, on second thought, still-loyal fans of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt might not be! A seventh career championship by Johnson would tie those two legends for the most ever. Click on A Race For History for my column on Johnson previewing today's championship run. Not atop the Homestead marquee today, but worthy: the final career race for retiring Tony Stewart, "Smoke," the adored, hated, cantankerous, combative, passionate star who'll be missed.

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

Hotbutton1. NASCAR: Johnson wins race, season and a piece of history at Homestead: Jimmie Johnson came from behind to win the race and his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup season championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway to tie legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most ever. Not sure I'll hear or see the phrase "wild ride" again without thinking of this race.

2. DOLPHINS: Miracle! Fins rally late in L.A. for fifth straight win: The Dolphins on Sunday solved Los Angeles' strong defense and the first career start of QB Jared Goff, the overall No. 1 draft pick, to continue their win streak with a 14-10 victory. Imagine. Relevance in late November after 1-4 start. The Amazin' Fins!

3. HEAT: A modest two games, but still first win streak of season for Miami: Heat still is only 4-8 but has its first modest two-game win streak of season after beating Bucks and Wizards. Meanwhile Hassan Whiteside is averaging 17.7 points, 16.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks entering the weekend. Earn that money, kid. #EarningIt

4. HURRICANES: UM prevails at N.C. State for third straight win: Solid defense and Mark Walton's running did the heavy lifting in UM's 27-13 win in Raleigh Saturday. It's three straight wins now and one left, next week's home finale vs. Duke, for Canes to continue proving they aren't the same team that lost four in a row in October.

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men prepare for first real test in Orlando: After a soft three-game opening stretch against lesser foes, Miami faces someone its own size, Stanford, on Thanksgiving Day in Orlando, in an eight-team invitational that also includes Florida, No. 14 Gonzaga and No. 20 Iowa State. Now we begin to find out about Jim Larranaga's new team.

6. PANTHERS: Cats finally showing signs of heating up: Florida has pulled above .500 at 10-9 for the season with two straight wins and four in the past five games. Still a ways to go to catch up to all that offseason Stanley Cup talk, but signs of progress evident. 

7. GATORS: Huge win at LSU lifts Florida to title game: Gators are in the SEC championship game after their defense dominated, 16-10 in Baton Rouge Saturday, against an LSU team favored by two touchdowns. Call it justice. This was the game postponed by Hurricane Matthew and was scheduled to be played in The Swamp.

8. SOCCER: U.S. men struggling in WC qualifying: A 2-1 home loss to Mexico followed by a 4-0 humiliation at Costa Rica has the U.S. men and coach Juergen Klinsmann under intense pressure in World Cup qualifying. (Relax, they'll still make it...)

9. NFL: League makes history with Monday game in Mexico: Unless Donald Trump's wall is up in time to prevent it, the first Monday Night Football game ever (Texans-Raiders) is about to happen in Mexico City. Viva la NFL!

10. NBA: It's official Karl-Anthony Towns is anointed: ESPN on its magazine cover and website has annointed Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns as "the face of the NBA's big man revolution." Sure. Because the Heat's Hassan Whiteside needed more perceived disrespect to fuel him, right?

Missing the HB10 cut: Tiger Woods has indicated that Dec. 1 will mark his return to competitive golf for first time in more than a year. Which gives him less than two weeks to subsequently announce he isn't quite ready.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 21, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 92.9%; plus UM 27-13 at NC State for 3rd straight win behind Walton, defense; also, Gators top other state Collball (updated), your verdicts on NASCAR favorite and LeBron-posse & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20. Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 12 predictions and Week 11 Pix 'n Fantasy results, NASCAR Sprint Cup poll, Patrick Staropoli, The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings, LeBron/Phil/posse poll & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday blogpost ahead: Watch for our jam-packed new blogpost -- Dolphins-Rams / NASCAR Homestead finale / Hot Button -- by early afternoon today.

A few of our select recent columns: Doctor Speed, on Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli. Week 11 Gems, our latest NFL picks. South Florida to Canton, on four locals up for induction. Also: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be? (on Fins' resourcefulness in four-game win streak. Return Of Wade (from Heat arena last week). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (Tannehill is good enough, Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

Canes in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find them both right below the new CSM poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 92.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 92.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 27-13 victory at North Carolina State Csmputting UM's season record at 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. That's the highest rating since after Game 4.This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

G11: 92.9% following 27-13 victory at North Carolina State

Next poll: Nov. 26 following regular-season finale vs. Duke

UmncstG11: HURRICANES @ NORTH CAROLINA STATE: UM PULLING AWAY AFTER A 3-3 FIRST HALF: Postgame thoughts: Always makes your coaching staff look good when a 3-3 halftime score busts open in your favor in the second half, which was the case in UM's 27-13 win at North Carolina State -- a third straight win making Miami 7-4. Nice all-round win. Brad Kaaya with 286 yards passing, Ahmmon Rcihards with nine catches for 117 yards and Mark Walton with 19 carries for 120 yards and three TDs -- Walton the second-half catalyst. Defense had a huge end-zone interception and held NC State to 5-for-17 on third down. Special teams had a big takeaway. Contributors everywhere. Neatly done for a nice road win ..... 4Q: MIA with now-safe 27-13 lead with 2 minutes to go o Walton's 3rd TD run, a 24-yarder giving him 102 yards for the day ... NC State within 20-13 on 22-yard FG. Canes got lucky. A Wolfpack TD run was negated by a clipping penalty that really didn't seem like a penalty at all ... Canes up 20-10 after 22-yard FG, the result of UM's Jaquan Johnson recovering muffed NC State punt return inside Wolfpack 20 ... Yards and points hard-won in this one. Somebody going to earn this win ..... 3Q: NC State within 17-10 in last minute of quarter, after apparent end-zone INT by UM's defense was ruled out of bounds upon review ... UM with its first breathing-room lead at 17-3 on Walton 1-yard scoring run, set up by Coley 51-yard catch-and-run to NC State 2 ... Size XXL defensive play for UM as Malek Young makes an end-zone interception to halt NC State threat to tie the game ... UM 10-3 lead on Walton 30-yard scoring run to begin second half. Miami will own second half if the running game keeps going like that ..... Halftime thoughts: UM has had the better of the game even if the scoreboard at 3-3 won't say it. Negligible running room for Miami; 15 carries for 22 yards. But Kaaya has 164 passing yards including 98 on seven catches by Richards. Meanwhile Canes defense has held NC State yto 122 totals yards. Nine punts have told the tale in a boring defensive game thus far. But I'm liking UM's chances in second half ..... 2Q: Wow. It'll be 3-3 at half because UM's Badgley misses 23-yard chip-shot FG with five seconds left in half ... NC State ties it 3-3 on 35-yard FG. UM gave up 39-yard pass play on series, about the only defensive lapse for Canes so far ... Ballsy fake-punt call by NC State. That's a team that knows it's offense isn't working and thus resorts to trickery ... First touchdown wins? ..... 1Q: Whole lot of defense and run-yards hard to come by for both teams in first quarter, but Kaaya is better than counterpart Finely, a big Canes edge ... UM 3-0 on 31-yard FG. Running tough so far as expected for Canes (Walton 5 carries for 6 yards), but Kaaya is getting time and finding open looks ..... Pregame: Miami has gotten back to running the ball very well in the two-game win streak that has followed that Oh No 0-4 October. In fact Mark Walton has consecutive 100-hard games. It has alleviated pass-block pressure on the offensive line and helped QB Brad Kaaya. It's a smart recipe for UM, now 6-4 and trying to grow its bowl outlook. Today starting at 12:30 p.m. in Raleigh, though, maintaining that run emphasis will be a mighty challenge. The N.C. State Wolfpack are only 5-5 but rank fourth in the nation in run defense, budgeting opponents to 99.4 yards er game. Wolfpack need a win for bowl-eligibility and have the added incentive of Senior Day in their home finale, so Canes will need to match the emotion and intensity on the the side. UM is a wavering 2 1/2-point road favorite, but late money on the home team dropped the line from 3. This most definitely is not a game to take casually for UM. All but one Wolfpack loss has been close, including 24-17 at then-No. 3 Clemson, and 24-20 to Florida State. In fact N.C. State very much seems better than its record, led by that sterling run defense and a spread offense that has generated 500-plus yards four times. The catalyst is RB Matt Dayes, a local kid out of Cypress Bay High who has 939 yards rushing. Hope The U packed its run D for the trip and that those young linebackers are raedy to go sideline to sideline. I like Miami today, though that could be a little bit of a homer pick, I'd admit, because I see this one as even and this afternoon as a serious test for Mark Richt's Canes. My pick: Hurricanes, 24-20.

Other state FBS Week 12 games, chronologically, all Saturday:

No. 23 Florida 16, No. 16 LSU 10: Huge, huuuge road win for Gators over a higher-ranked team that was a big 14-point favorite. This was the game being replayed seven weeks after it was originally scheduled as a Florida home game but was postponed by Hurricane Matthew. Florida brought that great defense in force to improve to 8-2 and, more important, clinch a spot in the SEC championship game.

No. 17 Florida State 45, Syracuse 14: Dalvin Cook's 225 rushing yards and four TDs led Noles, now 8-3,  to the easy road win expected.

Old Dominion 42, FAU 24: Old Dominion, which always sounds to me like a brand of scotch,  was only an 8-point favorite in Owls' disappointing home finale putting them 3-8.

FIU 31, Marshall 14: FIU was off a bye and playing its home finale, and fashioned a nice little upset over a T-Herd squad favored by 2 1/2-point. FIU is now 4-7. Butch Davis surely was somewhat impressed in his first chance to see his future team in action as head coach-elect taking over in '17.

South Florida 35, SMU 27: Bulls improved to 9-2 and hoping to crack the Top 25s. SoFla still is alive to reach American conference title game but with one game left is down the tiebreaker to Temple.

Tulsa 35, UCF 20: Disappointing home showing drops Knights to 6-5.

National Collball Week 12 overview: College Football Playoff current top four teams all have (what should be) comfy wins Saturday, with No. 1 Alabama vs. Chattanooga, 2-Ohio State at Michigan State, 3-Michigan vs. Indiana and 4-Clemson at Wake Forest. All prevailed, albeit Ohio State barely, by one point. But after Earthquake Saturday last week, and with 5-Louisville losing big to Houston Thursday night, it seemed nothing in college football was certain. Well, except for Nick Saban winning big, of course.

Poll result: You want Jimmie Johnson to make history Sunday at Homestead: We asked which final-four driver do most hope wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup season championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Jimmie Johnson dominated with 51.0 percent. Then it was Joey Logano 19.6%, Carl Edwards 15.7% and Kyle Busch 13.7%.

Poll result: You think LeBron James way-overreacted to the "posse" comment: We asked where you fell on the LeBron James/Phil Jackson controversy over the word "posse" and 76.5 percent sided with Phil and 15.3% with LeBron. The other 8.2% could see both sides.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 18, 2016

NFL Week 11 picks for Dolphins-Rams, all games; plus NASCAR Sprint Cup final-four poll. Who do you hope wins? Vote now!; also, Patrick Staropoli, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, LeBron/Phil/posse poll & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18. Marlins' Christian Yelich tied for 19th in NL MVP voting with five points -- two 9th-place votes and one 10th. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump writes Hillary on Schnellenberger's behalf, on Butch Davis joining FIU, SOPY rankings, your verdict on Brad Kaaya stay-or-go, R.I.P. Gardnar Mulloy & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our select recent columns: Doctor Speed, on Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli. Also: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be? (on Fins' resourcefulness in four-game win streak. Return Of Wade (from Heat arena last week). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (Tannehill is good enough, Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 11: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAMS, REST OF NFL: We endured our worst showing of the season last week in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, going an unmentionable 5-9 overall and 3-11 against the spread. I mean, seriously. Awful. But I'm bouncing back, and the bounce began last night. Won twice by predicting Carolina outright but N'Awlins with the points; click Thursday Gem for that pick. With last night we're now 16 games above .500 against the spread for the season; not bad. For all of our latest selections click on Week 11 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Rams, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with an analysis of four former NFL stars with local ties who made the semifinals for 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Click on South Florida to Canton to read.

StaropoliTHE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN NASCAR: Harvard graduate. University of Miami medical student about to become a doctor of ophthalmology. Young man who became fascinated with medicine as a boy watching doctors save his father's life after a racecar crash. This man, Patrick Staropoli, 27, of Plantation, will make his NASCAR main-stage debut Friday night in the Truck Series race that kicks off Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He'll run his first race in that truck, and on that track, the morning of his race. There are far bigger stories down at Homestead, such as who wins the Sprint Cup title (see poll below), but I'm not sure there is a more interesting story than that of Staropoli. Click on Doctor Speed to read my latest column. The image pictured is by the great Herald photographer, Carl Juste.

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (10 GAMES): IT'S A ROUT!Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals, and the updated standings show a runaway for a certain big center, the guy who had 25 rebounds last night. With Miami now 2-8 after last night's loss to Atlanta, here's the Luddite's second installment, with 5-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (10 games):

Hassan Whiteside (1)       350

Tyler Johnson (4)             205

Goran Dragic (2)             182

Justise Winslow (3)          181

Dion Waiters (5)              179

Bubble: James Johnson 144. Others: Josh Richardson 86, Luke Babbitt 75, Rodney McGruder 70, Willie Reed 63, Derrick Williams 31, Josh McRoberts 17, Udonis Haslem 5.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 10 RESULTS: PIX IN THE TANK, BUT LOBOS STAY EN FUEGO!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Ugh. Embarrassing. Got beat up last week with s 5-9 record straight-up and (Dear God) 3-11 against the spread. I take some solace that we're still a pretty solid 14 games above .500 ATS, but we need to bounce back this week in the most desperate way. And will. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos pounded Charlie's team 135-97 in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 7-3 with (like the Dolphins) four straight wins. Got 28 points from Allen Robinson last week, 27 from Delanie Walker and 21 from Drew "Money" Brees, who craps 20-point games. Keep it honkin', big rig. Keep it rollin', 'Bos!

PhillebronTHE WORD "POSSE" AND RACIAL OVERTONES: We spent a good bit of time chewing this over on the LeBatard Show yesterday. Cavaliers and former Heat star LeBron James took umbrage with Knicks president Phil Jackson, saying he's lost respect for him, because Phil referred to LeBron's "posse" to mean his close groups of friends, confidants and business associates led by Maverick Carter. Said LeBron: "If you go and read the definition of what the word 'posse' is, it's not what I've built over my career. It's not what I stand for, it's not what my family stands for. I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African-Americans trying to make a difference." For what it's worth dictionary.com's informal definition of "posse" is simply, "a group of friends or associates," which is pretty neutral. I'm old enough to associate "posses" with old Westerns on TV. I thought in this case it was a fairly benign term to use, and thought LeBron may have been being a bit overly sensitive. Then again, if he was offended, who am I to say he shouldn't have been? I'm curious how you feel about this. So I invite you to tell me, here:

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 96.8%; plus Butch Davis to FIU, Fins win 4th straight 31-24, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Leonrussell1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14. Sad to note the passing of the great Leon Russell (pictured) at age 74. He'd been scheduled to play a show in Boca Raton next week and I'd hoped to see him. R.I.P. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win big at Virginia with CSM poll, other Collball Week 11, Brad Kaaya stay-or-go poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our most recent columns: The latest: Return Of Wade (from Heat arena Thursday night). Week 10 Gems (latest NFL predictions). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders) Select others: Miami QBs: No Worries (why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

ButchdBUTCH DAVIS TO COACH FIU!: Former Miami Hurricanes coach Butch Davis is returning to work in the city he wanted to return to, if not exactly the team he wanted to coach. He has signed a five-year contract to coach FIU in Conference USA. FIU will formally introduce him Tuesday afternoon as its fourth head coach. Davis intensely desired to come back to UM and the ACC (where he had coached more recently with North Carolina), but he was among the many coaches the Canes passed over in favor of hiring Mark Richt. For FIU it feels like a great hire, a big hire, getting a proven coach with major-college experience, and one with a track record grounded in strong recruiting. (I'd be worried if I were direct-rival FAU). For Davis, who turns 65 on Thursday, it seems a step down, like a man hitting the career refresh button at a decidedly lower level. But, hey, Butch wanted to still coach, and this was his shot. Good for him. Also, the rivalry that really isn't but should be and hopefully will be someday -- UM vs. FIU -- just got turned up a notch.

CSM vote in: Results are in for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll; find them in the blogpost directly below this new one.

Dolphins in-game blog, postgame thoughts below: Look for our in-game blog and postgame thoughts right below the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 96.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 96.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 victory at San Diego putting Miami's season Dsmrecord at 5-4. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

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

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

Next poll: Nov. 20 (following game at Los Angeles)

G9: DOLPHINS @ SAN DIEGO: CAN MIAMI FINALLY BREAK THE "3W JINX"?: Postgame thoughts: Miami with fourth straight win, 31-24 at San Diego with four defensive interceptions imn second half a sharp Tannehill throughout. Very impressive. Dolphins nauil donw their first 4-game winning streak since 2008. And playoff hope, at 5-4, is genuinely alive! ..... 4Q: Lippett INT -- 4th of half for Miami -- seals it ... OMG! Kiko Alonso 60-yard INT return puts MIA up 31-24 with 1 minute left! ... ... What a game! Franks 27-yard FG ties it 24-24. OT ahead? ... SD up 24-1 with 4 minutes left on Rivers' 51-yard scoring toss to Williams ... Another huge defensive takeaway as Maxwell intercepts Rivers! ... Lippett INT in enxd zone saves Miami! Grant had muffed punt return, gave SD ball at Miami 5. Huuuge turnover! Then defensive hold against Maxwell gave SD new set of downs. Lippett a game-changer ..... 3Q: MIA back up 21-17 on Williams' 2nd TD, asn 18-yard strike from Tannehill. Tanny really good today so far. Had a big 18-yard scramble on the drive ... Rivers-Henry 7-yard TYD pass is Rivers' 300th in his career and puts Bolts back up 17-14. Pass interference by Miami in end zone made it easier ... MIA up 14-10, first lead, on Damien Williams' 2Y run. Ajayi, afterr only 16 yards in first half, busted a 40-yarder to lead the 75-yard drive ..... Halftime thoughts: Did not expect a defensive battle. Or a lack of offense battle, as the case may be. Chargers with a modedst 157 yards in offense; Fins D has done pretty well. But Miami doing little with the ball beyond that one perfect 39-yard TD pass by Tanny. Ajayi with only 16 rushbing yards on 11 carries. But Miami has ballto start second half ..... 2Q: Wake sack bumps Bolts from FG range ... Fins LT Branden Albert wrist injury, iffy to return. Not good ... Tight ends always seem to bedevil Miami's D, and Gates is doing it today ... MIA within 10-7 on 39Y scoring pass to Stills. A perfect strike. Put that in your memory bank, Tannehill haters 'n doubters! ... SD suddenly up 10-0 on Rivers' 11-yard scoring pass to ancient TE Gates. Somebody wake the Dolphins offense? ... Bolts 3-0 on 45-yard FG to begin second quarter ..... 1Q: Unexpected scoreless first. SD's 38 total yards a good sign for Miami ... Promising first drive by Miami ends with sack that negates FG range ... Feeling lucky, Dolfans? ..... Original post: Since last achieving a four-game winning streak in 2008 (the most recent Dolphins playoff year), Miami reached three wins in a row five previous times only to then lose. Maybe the sixth time will be the charm? We find out today starting at 4:05 p.m. in San Diego. The Chargers franchise was denied by Miasdvoters this past week on a new-stadium referendum, putting the team's future there in doubt. The team is faring somewhat better. Philip Rivers' Bolts have won three of their past four games, and SD's five losses this season have been by a combined 22 points. This is not a bad Chargers team, in other words, and one that seems to be finding its rhythm. Miami's first road game in an NFL post-merger record of 44 days will be a tall task for the Dolphins in a coaching matchup between former Broncos staff-mates in Adam Gase and Mike McCoy. Did I mention Miami is 0-3 on the road? It isn’t that San Diego is a particularly a daunting venue; it’s that the Chargers present big challenges and matchup problems. Miami catches a break because top Bolts wideout Travis Benjamin likely won't play. Jarvis Landry is questionable for Miami but likelier to be ready. Miami will be tested by the prolific Rivers (two TD throws from being the ninth to reach 300), who is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, and by hot Melvin Gordon fronts a high-powered running attack that will be a ton to handle for the Fins defense. And San Diego, though not a great defense overall, produced two defensive TDs last week and have an impact rookie sacker in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Joey Bosa. Bolts also play the run very solidly and will make it tough for Jay Ajayi to continue his surreal run of 529 yards in past three games. I could end up as wrong here as the polls were about Donald Trump. But, sorry, I doubt it. My pick: San Diego, 31-23.

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

Hotbutton1. POLITICS: First Cubs, now Trump on the seismic jolt-to-history list: I guess it's true. Anything can happen. The difference is, most of America (well, outside of Cleveland) was rooting for the Chicago Cubs. It seems most of America (based on the final popular vote total and subsequent protests) did not want Donald Trump.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Chargers for fourth win in row: The Dolphins were in San Diego trying to expand their winning streak to four games, and did, 31-24. Five previous times Miami had won three straight then lost, before finally getting to four in a row for the first time since 2008.

3. HEAT: D-Wade twice a winner in highly anticipated return to Miami: Dwyane Wade's Chicago Bulls beat the Heat Thursday night in his ballyhooed first return here since leaving, and Wade also won big with appreciative, loving reaction from Miami fans.

4. HURRICANES: UM punches bowl ticket at Virginia: The favored Canes whipped Virginia 34-14 in Charlottesville Saturday for a sixth win of the season and bowl eligibility. Alas, four earlier losses assured we're talking about "medium bowl" eligibility.

5. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Road to March Madness now open: College hoops season began Friday for Miami Hurricanes and most teams, with UM's rebuilding men easily winning a soft opener, and No. 14 Canes women losing at No. 19 Kentucky. OK, now let's please fast-forward 119 days to Selection Sunday and get to the good stuff!

6. NASCAR: Homestead final four set for championship weekend: Sunday in Phoenix decide who'd join Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in the final four for next weekend's Sprint Cup season-championship race down south of Miami, and it was Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. November madness!

7. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Earthquake Saturday as No.s 2-3-4 all lose: No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Washington all stunningly lost Saturday, opening door for Ohio State, Louisville and Wisconsin to join the coveted top four in the College Football Playoff ranking. But can anybody beat No. 1 Alabama? "No" is the answer right now.

8. PANTHERS: Cats face four-game roadtrip needing momentum: The on-and-off Florida Panthers make the 15-game NHL turn at 7-8 and just off playoff pace entering a four-game road trip starting Tuesday at red-hot Montreal. Cats have not yet shown they'll be Stanley Cup contenders, but don't write 'em off yet.

9. SOCCER: U.S. drops WC qualifier to Mexico: The American men lost 2-1 to rival Mexico this week in Columbus, O., in the first game of World Cup qualifying, a huge disappointment that puts early pressure on the U.S. Mostly, though, the pressure is one U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann. 

10. UFC: McGregor makes history, awaits baby: Mixed-martial arts star Conor McGregor won big in UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, becoming first to hold two championship belts simultaneously. Afterward McGregor announced he'll be a first time Daddy in early 2017 and take some time off. Yeah, right.

Missing the HB10 cut: David Beckham now says his Miami MLS group is targeting a team to start the 2019 season. This will be have been about a five-year gestation when this baby is finally delivered, if ever it is ..... Greg Oden called himself the biggest draft bust in NBA history. "Sounds about right," America agreed ..... University of Louisville suspended cheerleader Brynn Baker over election-night posts on social media that mocked those outraged by the presidential outcome. Wait. Brynn. Aren't you supposed to be cheerful!?

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 18, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 67.4%; plus Fins stun Steelers 30-15. Why? 6 things that went really right for Miami today; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 17. The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes host North Carolina with CSM poll, state Collball Week 7 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

CSM results: Results are in on the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll; see them in the blogpost immediately below this one.

Latest NFL predictions: Click on Week 6 Gems for all of Sunday's (and tonight's) NFL picks. And click As Tannehill Fights For His Future for our new NFL notes column leading with some of Miami's possible options should they move past Ryan Tannehill after this season.

Our postgame thoughts: 6 things that went really right for Dolphins Sunday: See our live in-game blog including postgame analysis of yesterday's huge Dolphins win right below latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: 67.4%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 67.4 percent overall approval rating -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-15 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers Dsmputting Miami's season record at 2-4. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

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

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

Next poll: Oct. 23 (following game vs. Buffalo)

PitmiaG6: DOLPHINS 30, PITTSBURGH 15: AJAYI CAREER DAY SPARKS STUNNING UPSET!: Postgame thoughts: How did the underdog Dolphins improve to 21-4 by stunning Pittsburgh 30-15 today? Let us count the ways... 1) Ryan Tannehill was really good. Accurate. Played clean. Took no sacks. This was the Tannehill you want to keep. 2) The offensive line was terrific. Great in pass protection, even better in aggressively run blocking. The unit's best performance of season by far as starting five finally played together. 3) Jay Ajayi had a career game, with 204 yards rushing -- third most in franchise history -- and two TDs. Man, did he run hard! 4) The pass defense gave Ben Roethlisberger problems all day long. 5) Byron Maxwell defended Antontio Brown very well, really rose up with a big game. 6) Time of possession domination by Miami was 36 1/2 minutes to 23 1/2. I'd go on, but that about covers it. Today we saw how good Miami can be. A nourishing day by a team -- and a fandom -- in desperate need ..... 4Q: Ajayi 62-yard scoring run seals it at 30-15. Stunner. ... Landry recovers onside kick! ... Steelers within 23-15 with 1:02 to play on a Big Ben scoring throw. Onside kick presumably coming ... Man, Miami gonna win this damned game. Who ARE these people in the Dolphins uniforms today!? ... Franks wide left on 50-yard FG try so still a two-possession lead for Miami ..... 3Q: Ajayti 1-yard TD plunge puts MIA up 23-8 ... Abdul-Quddus intercepts Big Ben ..... Halftime thoughts: Tannehill had 96.9 rating in first half and outplayed Roethlisberger. Defense has shown fire. Where has this team been? Where has this effort been? But can they close? Can they finish the upset with a big second half? We'll see ..... 2Q: Fins up 16-8 on Williams 1-yard run set up by Tannehill's 39-yard strike to Landry inside PIT 5. ... MIA settles\ again for short FG (23) after Sims drops TD pass after earlier scoring pass was negated by illegal formation. That's what losing teams do. A 53-yard catch by MarQueis Gray, his first of season, is wasted ..... 1Q: Wake make it two Fins sacks of Big Ben already ..... Heyward-Bey burns Dolphins D for 60-yard end-around TD through shoddy tackling. Then it's 8-3 as PIT converts 2-point conversion pass to Bell ... Fins fail on surprise onside kick but play is whistled off; break for Miami ... MIA settles for a 30-yard FG on impressive opening drive ... Fins showing spark and fight today. None evident a week ago ... Always a ton of Steelers fans in Miami, today no exception ... How we feeling, Dolfans? ..... Original post: The NFL is an anything-goes, nothing-off-the-table league, as you know. Which is Miami's great hope today starting at 1. Last week the Dolphins took a public home crap vs. the lowly Tennessee Titans. But this is the NFL. Would it surprise anybody if these same Dolphins rose up big and played well vs. mighty Pittsburgh? OK maybe surprise, yes. But shock, no. Having said that, the odds of a rout by the Steelers are greater than the odds of an upset. Points to Adam Gase for not mincing words or trying to put a cherry on a pile of [bleep]. "We’re inept right now," the coach described his Dolphins this week. Inept. "Having or showing no skill; clumsy." Yep, can’t argue that! Miami is doing very little well right now at 1-4 other than punting, and something close to panic was evident this week as the team fired three offensive linemen on a single day. Oppositely, the 4-1 Pittsburgh Steelers come in on a big roll for their first visit in six years, with a fairly awesome offense fronted by Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Fins’ defense couldn’t slow the tepid Titans and now they’re supposed to stop this!? Miami’s secondary literally has nobody capable of covering Brown, and Bell could toll for 150-plus against what statistically is now the NFL’s worst run defense. Gloomy enough forecast for ya? But, again, even having said all that, I still give Dolphins a small shot at an upset in the Pouncey Bowl (Mike vs. Maurkice), and certainly a chance to be competitive. Didn’t embattled Ryan Tannehill, now a boo-magnet, toss three TDs and beat Pitt in his only meeting in 2013? (He did). Desperation can do strange things. So can the fear of embarrassment. So can pride. Let’s see if Miami has any. My pick: Pittsburgh, 30-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCTOBER 16): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins dominate, stun Steelers: Miami was 1-4 and trying to save a sinking season on Sunday and asking the same defense that couldn't stop the tepid Tennessee Titans last week to now stop Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell? Well, 30-15, Dolphins. Who in hell has this Miami team, or this league, figured out.

2. HURRICANES: Huge loss North Carolina makes this night imperative: FSU Week had the Game of the Year cred, but Miami was in position to overcome that 1-point loss vs. North Carolina Saturday and now at Va-Tech Thursday night. The 20-13 loss to the Tar Heels makes this week all but must-win in terms of any hopes to still reach the ACC Championship Game.

3. PANTHERS: Cats open season of high hopes at 2-0: On a Thursday Opening Night when the Panthers honored the late Marlins star Jose Fernandez by all wearing No. 16 in pregame warmups, the game winning goal came from the Cats' own No. 16, Aleksander Barkov. Sweet 16, indeed.

4. BASEBALL: Who isn' rooting for a Cubs-Indians World Series?: Cubs last won a World Series in 1908 and Indians in 1948 as league championship series are now underway. Message from America to Dodgers and Blue Jays: Don't even think about it!

5. HEAT: Countdown 9 days 'til ... who the hell knows!?: Only three more preseason games remain until the post-Wade, post-Bosh, new-era Heat open the NBA regular season Oct. 26 in Orlando. It's the great unknown. If only "great" also described the team's outlook.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Saturday threatens top-of-polls shakeup: No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Ohio State both faced challenging road games vs. top-10 opponents Saturday, but both prevailed. Think either would lose? Yeah, me neither.

7. AUSTON MATTHEWS: Teen sets NHL rookie mark in debut: Toronto's top draft pick Matthews, who just turned 19, became first player in history to score four goals in his NHL debut. Even better, he was born in Scottsdale, Ariz. Take that, Canada and Eastern Europe.

8. NASCAR: As Homestead waits, cut to eight finalists nears: Only one more race left until NASCAR cuts to eight finalists who'll run for season crown in Homestead. The problem is, they'll be joined by dozens of non-contenders whose only job is to wreck a finalist's chances.

9. TIGER WOODS: Eldrick delays long-awaited comeback yet again: Tiger Woods, trying to exhume resume his career after myriad back issues, said he'd play this past week, then said he wouldn't, and now says he'll play in December, maybe. Keep us posted, big guy! 

10. WNBA: Finals Game 5 is Thursday: Somebody will win the WNBA championship Thursday night. When I find out who's playing, I'll let you know.

Missing the HB10 cut: "And how was your week?," said Donald Trump ..... Colin Kaepernick takes over as 49ers starting QB today. Let's see if he can stand in the pocket as well as he can sit during the anthem ..... Dwyane Wade has denied reports that LeBron James tried to talk him and Chris Bosh into joining the Cavaliers in the summer of 2010, when they formed the Big 3 in Miami. Which invites the question, "Why in hell are we still talking about this!?" ..... Steelers' Antonio Brown today is wearing special cleats in honor of fallen Miami stars Jose Fernandez and Kimbo Slice. One lesson reason to boo him, Dolfans. Two, actually ..... Mets prospect Tim Tebow began his Arizona Fall League stint 0-for-9. Time for prayers? ..... Hurricanes baseball has begun fall practice. Updates as warranted.

Select recent columns of ours, ICYMI or wanted another look: Swagger On Skates (previewing Florida Panthers' season of high hopes) / Because He's Tiger Woods / Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance / Close to Back, But Not Back (from last Saturday's Canes loss / With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose / Time is Right For Bosh to Retire / Demanding Racial Justice / Tebow's Dream / The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 27, 2016

STILL IN SHOCK: MIAMI REELS OVER JOSE FERNANDEZ TRAGEDY. MY COLUMN; plus Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 9.9%; also, Fins escape vs. Browns in OT, Riley on Bosh, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26. UM Sports Hall of Fame announces nine-person 2017 induction class, notably includuing football's James Jackson and Jeremy Shockey, baseball's Ryan Braun and women's basketball coach Katie Meier. Congrats to all. 2) Pat Riley told reporters this morning that Chris Bosh's Heat career "is probably over." No shock. But when the godfather says it, you listen. 3) Golf legend Arnold Palmer has died at 87. R.I.P., Arnie. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Examining Hurricanes' brutal October, state Collball Week 4, Bosh and Wade poll verdicts & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (our latest, and I guess the headline says it all). Week 3 Gems (our latest NFL picks). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it).

FIU fires Ron Turner: Lost in the shock and mourning over Jose Fernandez, FIU fired football coach Ron Turner on Sunday. No shock. He was 0-4 this season and 10-30 overall. Cannot argue the decision. Good guy, though. Click She Never Quit for my recent column on Turner and the woman who inspires him.

JoseripTRAGEDY: MIAMI AWAKENS TO THE JARRING REALITY: THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE JOSE FERNANDEZ: Unimaginable tragedy shakes the Miami Marlins and South Florida with the terrible news that Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, 24, was killed in an overnight boating accident early Sunday morning off Government Cut in Miami, along with two friends who also died. The 9-1-1 call reportedly was received about 3 a.m. A tragedy beyond words. Yesterday's scheduled home game vs. the Atlanta Braves was understandably canceled in the wake of the horrible news; the Marlins will be back in action, with heavy hearts, tonight here vs. the Mets. Click on What Jose Meant Lives On for my column, online and in Monday's print editions. R.I.P., Jose.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 9.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 9.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-24 overtime victory vs. the Cleveland Browns putting Miami's season record at 1-2. It is a rare instance of an approval rating declining after a win. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

Next Poll: Sept. 29 (following game at Cincinnati)

G3: DOLPHINS 30, CLEVELAND 24 (OT): LUCKY, BUT MIAMI WINS HOME OPENER: Postgame thoughts: The Dolphins did the bare minimum Sunday. They won, at home, over a bad Browns team down to its third-string QB. That it required overtime is a semi-embarrassment. So is the fact Cleveland was down to its third-string QB. Ryan Tannehill pretty solid at 25-for-39 for 319 yards and three TDs, bu also had two picks and the lost fumble that nearly cost Miami the game. All in all an escape more than a resounding win. Let's see in four short days what the Dolphins are made of at Cincinnati. Today didn't prove much or show much. Show us Thursday night, Dolphins. ..... Original post: Well, the Cleveland Browns are down to their third-string quarterback and so bad in Clemiageneral that even a winless Miami is a near double-digit favorite. Shouldn't the Browns have been relegated to the Canadian league by now? This also happens surprisingly to be the only NFL Week 3 matchup between 0-2 teams. The difference is, one of them is credibly competitive -- Miami on the heels respectable performances at league powers Seattle and New England. The other is incredibly incompetent. Cleveland has lost 10 of its past 11 road games and is now piloted by rookie Cody Kessler – the Browns' fifth different starting QB in the past five games dating to last season. The Earthtones may be the NFL's most dysfunctional franchises. Having said all of that, Miami has not proven itself good enough to take any opponent lightly, even this one. “Dolfans” and “overconfident” are not words that go together. Jay Ajayi (in for injured Arian Foster) tends to cough up the football and Brownies have a pair of very productive cornerbacks in Joe Haden and Tramon Williams, so Fins must take care that Miami turnovers don't keep the Brownies in this game. Almost forgot: Welcome home, Duke Johnson! This is the Dolphins home opener for the newly refurbished and renamed stadium. The opponent will help Miami christen it right. My pick: Dolphins, 27-10

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10: 

1. MARLINS: Tragedy strikes as Jose Fernandez killed in boasting accident: Marlins fans and South Florida in general awoke Sunday to the horrible news that ace pitcher Jose Fernandez had been killed in an overnight boating accident. There are no words. R.I.P.

Hotbutton2. DOLPHINS: Miami lucky to beat sad Browns in home opener: After losses to two of NFL's top teams, and before traveling to playoff-quality Cincinnati for a Thursday nighter, Miami caught what should have been a break vs. woeful Cleveland Browns in Sunday's home opener, but needed luck and overtime to escape, 30-24.

3. HEAT: Bosh comeback derailed again as Heat near training camp: Further complications related to clotting have derailed Chris Bosh's latest comeback attempt as Heat prepare to open five-day training camp Tuesday in Nassau. And so the outlook dims for both team and player.

4. PANTHERS: Big-dreaming Cats prepare for NHL preseason: With visions of Lord Stanley's Cup, Florida hosts Nashville Tuesday in first of six preseason games. Cats have never begun a season with higher expectations. Can a franchise usually cast as underdogs live up?

5. HURRICANES: Idle Canes brace for a tough, telling October: No. 15 Miami, off this week after a resounding win at Appalachian State, braces for five-game October test featuring in ACC -- including Florida State here Oct. 8 -- then a trip to Notre Dame. September hinted how good UM is. October will tell.

6. VIN SCULLY: Dodgers honor retiring legendary broadcaster: Los Angeles Dodgers honored broadcaster Vin Scully in an hour-long pregame ceremony celebrating his 67 seasons at the mic. Not even Scully, 88, is old enough to remember the Cubs' last World Series win. 

7. PHILANTHROPY: UM receives largest donation ever toward indoor facility: University of Miami announced the largest athletics-related donation in its history, a $14 million gift toward what will be the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility. That's trumps my $25 donation toward the Greg Cote Parking Space.

8. GATORS: UF blows lead, falls to Vols: You lead 21-0 and lose 38-28. Ouch. Gators tails low. 

9. HOCKEY: U.S. bombs in World Cup: Team USA fell to 0-2 and failed to advance in the World Cup of Hockey, a disappointment and embarrassment.

10. NASCAR: Chase field at 16, soon 12: Sunday and next week will pare the 16 finalists to 12 drivers. The season finale at Homestead is getting close.

Missing the HB10 cut: Kevin Garnett announced his retirement, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago. Garnett's prime retired in 2007 ... UEFA Champions League is back on starting Tuesday. What the World Cup is for national teams, this is for club teams.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 05, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.2%; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes' 70-3 rout, ready-or-else Dolphins, Collball Week 1, reeling Marlins & more

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

Fripix 41) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. Happy Labor Day, my fellow American wokers! 2) Countdown: 4 days 'til the Upset Bird! NFL Friday Page predictions return Sept. 9. 2) UM Sports Hall of Fame reminds us that this past weekend in 1994 the Canes beat Georgia Southern 56-0 to win a record-setting 58th consecutive home game. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins unveil Hard Rock Stadium, FIU opens with loss, Footballapalooza, Marlins fade, your Kaepernick verdict, 'LeBrone' & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Updated Dolphins best/worst odds: Bovada has new odds out on best and worst NFL records. "Best" picks are Packers at 5-1, Seahawks 13-2 and Patriots 15-2, with Dolphins tied for 21st at 75-1. "Worst" faves are are Browns at 4-1, 49ers 5-1 and TItans 9-1, with Miami tied for 12th at 20-1.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our latest, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

1aa1csmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 97.2%: Results are certified in the season-opening Canesfan Satisfaction Meter, and they show 97.2 percent overall satisfaction (combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Saturday night's 70-3 victory over Florida A&M. This begins the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Analyzing the G1 vote: Well, 97.2 percent is astounding -- about the optimum you'll see in any blog vote, any topic, anytime, anywhere. Because there are always straggling naysayers. I could ask in a poll, "Would like more money?" and the vote wouldn't be higher than this. Canes fans are ebullient right now, and should be.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

Next poll: Sept. 10 following game vs. Florida Atlantic

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2015--20.1% overall satisfaction (following 8-5 season); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Canes ace start of Richt Era with rout of Florida A&M: Call it a soft opening of the Mark Richt Era at UM. Florida A&M? The marching band is great. The football team, not so much. FAMU is Division 1-AA and went 1-10 last year, so if the Canes didn't win this game handily, then Richt just enjoyed the shortest honeymoon in the history of sports. No worries. I don't care how bad the opponent is. You win 70-3, that's crazy-impressive.

2. DOLPHINS: 6 Days 'til season opener at Seattle. Uh oh: Miami's refurbished, renamed stadium looks great. The team in a 2-2 preseason looked OK. The roster pared to a final 53 on Saturday with no surprises. But none of that matters now. All that does is "at Seattle" this coming Sunday to open the NFL regular season. The preseason didn't tell us much about the Fins, but we're about to find out fast.

3. MARLINS: Playoff hopes trying to survive awfully timed swoon: A 10-18 August record left Miami scrambling to hang in the NL wild-card chase, with team now 4 games off pace after eight losses in past nine games including yesterday's demoralizing walkoff defeat. Maybe a six-game homestand starting today/Monday will help, but there's little margin of error left. Fish need to start being as good in September as they were bad last month.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: 'Noles, other top-ranked team gets immediate test: The four top-ranked teams that began season on inside rail for College Football Playoff -- Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Florida State -- could hardly coast out the gate against tough opponents. Nick Saban's Tide rolled big over USC, but the Sooners lost to Houston and Tigers barely got by Auburn. Noles close Week 1 tonight vs. No. 11 Ole Miss. Ready? Better be.

5. HEAT: Bosh mystery continues as camp draws near: Chris Bosh said on social media, "Yes, I'm hooping." More accurately, after two seasons disrupted by blood-clot issues, he's still hoping to be hooping. Club remains noncommittal on his future even as Sept. 27 start of training bears down fast. C'mon, Heat. Tick tock. You owe fans, and especially Bosh, a clear answer and soon.

6. TENNIS: U.S. Open begins final week: Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams (who surpassed Martina Navratilova's women's modern-era record for most Grand Slam matches won) lead the march into the quarterfinals round that started Sunday. This is first U.S. Open since they put a roof on the place, so fans of rain delays are totally screwed now.

7. FIU: Panthers lose to Indiana to open season: FIU led its Big Ten foe 13-12 entering the fourth quarters before collapsing like a Ponzi scheme late at home. NCAA has denied school's subsequent petition to shorten games to three quarters.

8. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB's controversial protest still making news: Now local police are threatening to refuse to work 49ers home games unless the team disciplines its quarterback for his refusal to stand for the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. I guess that "To Protect and Serve" motto has become, "To Protect and Serve Those We Like."

9. NASCAR: Dale Jr. to miss rest of season: Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss remainder of Sprint Cup season due to concussion issues, with just one race left now until the cut to the round of 16 drivers in the Chase for the Cup ending in Homestead. So at least Junior has a better excuse than usual this year for not winning the championship.

10. PAT RILEY: Heat boss says Shaq topped LeBron and Big 3: "Shaq's acquisition was bigger than any acquisition that we ever made, including the Big Three." Hmm. Careful, Pat. Once you're in your 70s and you start talking like that, people may begin to wonder if the mind is going.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins and Uber have entered a business partnership. Fins offense will now be using Uber to drive it into the end zone ..... Heat players Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson, both with recently signed mega-contracts, each have purchased huge mansions. Athletes used to be judged by their feet. Now it's their square feet .....  Canes lose two top defenders in a scandal related to luxury cars, and now a walk-on scout team QB gets arrested for cocaine. Jesus! Can't these college kids at least wait 'til they grow up to start making dumbass decisions!? .....  Sorry, Chris McCain, but when the Dolphins trade you for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, it means you weren't that good ..... Dwyane Wade, taking on the cause of Chicago gun violence, said he has "a bigger purpose than basketball." Bulls fans responded, "Yeah, but can you make basketball sort of the priority, please?" ..... Bleacher Report predicts UM men's basketball will finish 12th in the 15-team ACC. So the Canes quietly have canceled the upcoming season ..... Fantasy football: Where league members enjoy the camaraderie by all auto-selecting in an online draft ..... NFL stars James Harrison, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers were exonerated by the league of a PEDs accusation in an Al Jazeera article. I don't know who this Al guy is, but he'd better get his facts straight ..... Tone-deaf Penn State plans to honor Joe Paterno Sept. 17 on 50th anniversary of his first game -- almost as if he wasn't fired in disgrace in 2011 amid the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal ..... Philadelphia will host the 2017 NFL Draft. Excited fans there already are preparing by practicing vociferous booing of anticipated picks ..... Tim Tebow had his baseball tryout and wasn't that impressive, but looked lovable and God-fearing anyway ..... Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was released from jail after serving only three months for rape. The judge who gave that sentence should be jailed and serve longer ..... Joey Bosa finally ends holdout, signs with Chargers. How to Begin an NFL Career Badly 101 ..... Little League World Series continues rocked by over-age player scandals as two stars from winning team miss victory parade because their wives went into labor ..... World Series of Poker final table getting close, the annual popular gathering spot for egomaniacs wearing sunglasses indoors ..... Upcoming 23rd season of "Dancing With the Stars" will include Olympic clown Ryan Lochte, retired Lion Calvin Johnson, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe and --why the hell not! -- Vanilla Ice ..... R.I.P., Gene Wilder.

G1: HURRICANES 70, FLORIDA A&M 3 (FINAL): LAUNCH OF RICHT ERA ENJOYS A SOFT BUT IMPRESSIVE OPENING:  Final: What to say about a 70-3 game? Hugely impressive for Miami, with 4 TD passes by Kaaya and 3 UM 100-yard rushers for the first time since 1987. And equally embarrassing for poor FAMU. Click on Awesome Vs. Awful for my column from the game. ..... 4Q: Mercifully, humanely, the scoring seems to have abated. ..... 3Q: UM 70-3 in last seconds of third on Gus Edwards' 74Y run. ... UM 63-3 on Rosier's 19Y run. ... Backup QB Malik Rosier in for Kaaya with 4 minutes left in third. Smart move. Also, sportsmanlike. ... And now an INT by UM's Adrian Colbert. I'm now officially embarrassed for FAMU. ... Braxton Berrios 41Y punt-return TD makes it 56-3. My fingers are tired form typing all these Canes TDs. ... Well it's now 4 TGD passes for Kaaya and a 49-3 score. Time to sit Kaaya and some other starters now. ... Kaaya's 3rd TD pass is 15Y to a very fast Ahmmon Richards. ... Mark Walton 37Y scoring run has Miami up 35-3. Gorgeous dash with a high-step finish. ..... Half: It's a weird 28-3 because FAMU leads in time of possession by a 2-to-1 margin and only trails in total yards 214-54. And yet the game is non-competitive. Not for a minute has mistake-prone A&M given the impression it might bet back in it. ..... 2Q: It's 28-3 now with A&M on board with 31Y FG. ... Now 28-0 Canes on a Yearby 64Y scoring run. ... Canes 21-0 on Kaaya 16Y scoring pass to Chris Herndon. ..... 1Q: Canes miss 33Y FG attempt. ... UM up 14-0 on Joe Yearby 1Y TD set up by Canes block of Rattlers punt. ... UM 7-0 on Brad Kaaya to Marquez Williams 4Y pass after Corn Elder interception for UM. ... FAMU players wearing white uniforms with white numbers that cannot be seen. Perfect. ... Let's go! ..... Original post: Curtain up! Miami Hurricanes open their 91st season of college football this evening -- no wise guys, I was not there for the 1926 opener -- at 6 p.m. in a massively renovated, newly renamed home stadium that should impress those seeing it for first time. The four gigantic video screens alone are a mind- Miafamublower. The game also marks the heralded debut of new head coach Mark Richt, whose arrival helped generate a spike of 12,500 additional season tickets. Richt was hired to lead UM back to the promised land -- a promise broken or delayed ever since Miami won its last of five national championships in 2001. You notice I'm not talking about the Game 1 opponent? It doesn't figure as a compelling or even competitive game. For UM's sake, it better not be! Miami is one spot outside the Top 25 and should whisper into the polls with a win, coupled with upsets elsewhere, while Florida A&M is, well, pretty awful. Great marching band, lousy football players. The Division 1-AA Rattlers were 1-10 last year and have lost nine straight to Miami (see The List below) by an average score of 49-6. You read that right. "Expert" expectations for Miami are modest elsewhere; ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit guesses a 7-6 season, for example. I think the Canes will be better, possibly even a 10-win team. Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz preaches that his guys play "in a very violent manner." If they do and if quarterback Brad Kaaya is as great as I think he'll be, it could be strong season out of Coral Gables. By the way, Kaaya is legal now. Turns 21 today. Gift to self: Five touchdown passes? Should launch smoothly tonight with a predictable yet impressive rout that won't be much of a gauge, but should be a party. My pick: Hurricanes 52-6.

Other FBS Week 1 football:

Indiana 34, FIU 13: Panthers led 13-12 entering fourth quarter before collapsing late at home Thursday night. Three interceptions and bad run defense ushered in coach Ron Turner's fourth season at The Int'l.

FAU 38, Southern Illinois 30: Owls of Boca were 3-9 last year but have recruited well and are seen as on rise. I gave 'em a big shot at home-opening win and was right. QB Jason Driskel was great.

No. 25 Florida 24, Massachusetts 7: Gators were favored by 36 1/2 points in The Swamp but narrowly led entering fourth. Unimpressive debut for UF.

No. 4 Florida State 45, No. 11 Ole Miss 34: Plenty of experts see Jimbo Fisher leading his Noles into the four-team College Football Playoff, but FSU was only a modest 5-point favorite in this prime-timer in Orlando that closed Week 1. Noles didn't look the part in trailing by 22, but did with the monster comeback behind a freshman quarterback. 

Other state FBS games: South Florida crushed Towson State 56-20 and UCF pounded and shut out South Carolina State 38-0.

National collball Week 1 overview: No soft opening for the Big 4 teams out the gate. Prior to FSU's challenging opener Monday night, on Saturday, No. 3 Oklahoma was an upset loser to No. 15 Houston by 33-23. No. 1 Alabama crushed No. 20 Southern Cal 52-6, but No. 2 Clemson had all it could handle, winning 19-13 at unranked but upset-capable Auburn.

SopySOPY'S BACK!: Our weekly State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings return for another season, comparing the offensive output of quarterbacks, receivers and running backs from our seven state FBS schools: Miami, FSU, Florida, FIU, FAU, South Florida and UCF. Because 'Noles play Monday this week, look for the first SOPY Top 10 in the blog Tuesday morning.

THE LIST: CANES' MOST LOPSIDED FOOTBALL SERIES: The opponents Miami has most dominated in its history, minimum 10 all-time meetings:

Opponent                    UM record         Last met

Rutgers                       1.000 (11-0)     2003

Temple                        .929 (13-1)      2005

Florida A&M              .909 (10-1)         2016

Cincinnati                   .846 (11-2)       2015

Duke                           .846 (11-2)      Play Nov. 26; prior 2015

West Virginia               .842 (16-3)      2003

Boston College            .828 (24-5)       2012

East Carolina              .818 (9-2)         2003

Louisville                   .750 (9-3-1)      2014

Wake Forest               .727 (8-3)         2013

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

Twitter @gregcote

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