November 21, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.6%. Approval rating stays in gutter; plus Miami falls late to Bucs, 30-20, for 4th straight loss; also, Truex wins NASCAR at Homestead and my Dale Jr. column, my Canes football column, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20. Holiday season! Give the Dolfan on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes beat Virginia for 10-0 with CSM poll, FIU handles FIU, other state Collball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Dolphins column: Click Gase Must Find A Way for the latest from me on the Dolphins' woes. 

On Hurricanes' 44-28 Saturday win: Click on Heart and Fight Keep Canes' Perfect Dream Alive for my column from stadium on Saturday's comeback win by No. 3 and now 10-0 UM.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 3.6%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 3.6 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 30-20 Dolphins home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers putting Miami's season record at 4-6. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
Next poll: Nov. 26 (following game at New England)

G10: TAMPA BAY AT DOLPHINS: MIAMI LOSES 4TH STRAIGHT, FALLS TO 4-6: Miami trailed 20-7 early, fought back to tie it 20-20 but lost on a 35-yard Bucs FG in the closing seconds followed by a fumble-TD on the final play. Fins had rallied behind Matt Moore after Jay Cutler (with three first-half INTs) left with a concussion. Original post: This is the season opener Hurricane Irma blew away and postponed 'til now -- what should have been a bye week for both teams. Instead the delayed meeting finds Fins and Bucs each slogging through disappointing seasons. Tampa just Tbmiaextricated from a five-game losing streak and now is without injured QB Jameis Winston. Miami was sailing along at 4-2 despite bad offense, but then came that 0-3 skid by a combined 112-45 score in consecutive prime-time pratfalls. Dolphins are only one game off playoff pace in the weak AFC but it feels worse, leading coach Adam Gase this week to say of his team: "It's not a total disaster everywhere." How's that for a positive spin! Such a rallying cry! It's hard to decide which team is worse right now, so this is a rare pick-'em game -- at least it was when I picked it -- though Miami opened a 2 1/2-point favorite and on Sunday morning I found both TB and MIA favored by 1 point in various lines. Not sure I get why Fins are not a three-point pick because team seem even. Jay Cutler vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick may be a push, but I anticipate a big bounceback performance at home by Miami's defense, which was embarrassed in that 40-0 loss at Baltimore and maybe even moreso in the 45-21 shellacking in Carolina Monday night. Against a Bucs squad that is 0-4 on the road, look for the Dolphins to shake their lapse into awfulness and get back to being average. Both teams share desperation,with LB Rey Maualuga's recent arrest and fast firing only adding to Gase's trying season. As the city swoons over the unbeaten Hurricanes, the Dolphins sincerely need a W to get folks caring again. My pick: Dolphins, 21-20. (Click Week 11 Gems for all our latest picks).

Nascar HomesteadNASCAR CROWNS TRUEX CHAMP, JUNIOR BIDS FAREWELL AT HOMESTEAD: My Dale Jr. column from the track. Click Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The Day. The four drivers running for the NASCAR season championship today -- Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex -- do not, for me, include any transcendent star of particular interest. But the fact this is Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s final race before retiring adds a compelling layer to the day. I'll be down there columnizing. Gentleman, start your laptop!

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: No. 3 Canes rally to beat Virginia in home finale: ACC title game, first 10-win season since 2003 and angling for College Football Playoff all say Miami is back. Saturday's third straight huge home crowd for the 44-28 win says Canes fans are back, too.

2. NASCAR: Truex wins title, Junior wins hearts at Homestead: Martin Truex beat fellow finalists Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski for the season championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. won hearts and the day in his final race before retiring.

3. MARLINS: Trade-rumored Stanton wins NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton joins Dan Marino (1984) and LeBron James (2012, '13) as only Miami athletes to win their sport's top individual award. Just one more reason we'll miss him when (if) he's gone.

4. DOLPHINS: Fins fall to Tampa, lose fourth straight: Miami has now been outscored 142-65 in a four-game skid including Sunday's 30-20 loss to visiting Tampa Bay. At 4-6 and with the schedule now really toughening, wave bye-bye to realistic playoff hopes.

5. HEAT: Wanted: Signs Miami is above average: Heat is 7-9 with Sunday's loss to Indiana, after last season's .500 finish. When will Miami leave Mediocreville and be relevant again? Wednesday visit by really-good Boston will tell us how good Heat is ... or isn't.

6. SOCCER: Two huge omissions as World Cup field set: The 32-nation field for the 2018 men's soccer World Cup in Russia is now set, with the draw scheduled for Dec. 1. Italy and the United States were the two most notable teams to fail to qualify. You'd think Putin could have snuck the U.S. in as a favor to Trump, no? 

7. SHULA BOWL: FAU handles FIU in rivalry renewal: The 16th annual Shula Bowl found host FAU clobbering FIU 52-24, Lane Kiffin besting Butch Davis in a duel of two veteran coaches who have turned around those programs in their first seasons at the schools.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men rise in polls: Jim Larranaga's guys have started 3-0 and risen two spots to No. 11 in the polls entering Wednesday's game vs. LaSalle. Season's first big test: Nov. 29 at No. 14 Minnesota.

9. PANTHERS: Hey don't forget about us, say Cats: Florida fell to 7-13 with Sunday's loss in Anaheim. Inconsistent Cats need to make a run (a skate?) to earn attention of more than diehards in South Florida.

10. TENNIS: Serena gets married: Tennis star Serena Williams married Alexis Ohanian in a fairy-tale, Beauty and the Beast-themed wedding in New Orleans. They'd recently had a baby girl together. The baby is the early betting favorite to win Wimbledon in 2038.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Jerry Jones-Roger Goodell feud is getting nasty. On the bright side, it's a diversion from counting players who took a knee during the anthem ..... Bucs QB Jameis Winston is accused of grabbing the crotch of a female Uber driver. And, yes, that is worse than stealing crab claws ..... Dear Media Colleagues: A special request? Quit interviewing, quoting and broadcasting LaVar Ball. Thank you. Carry on.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 3.5%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 3.5 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Monday night’s 45-21 Dolphins loss at the Carolina Panthers putting Miami's season record at 4-5. That is a new season low. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Wednesday.

 

2017 game-by-game DSM results

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)

G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM crushes Notre Dame, stakes championship intentions: Canes crushed Fighting Irish 41-8 Saturday, clinched a spot in ACC title game and made case to leap from No. 7 into College Football Playoff top four. For me, other than the five national-championship wins, the last in 2001 -- maybe the greatest night in UM football history. #TurnoverChain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 19, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 81.9%. See season-debut results; plus Fins beat Chargers 19-17, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), the Jay Cutler Experience (Sunday column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins season! Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 2 pix, Collball Week 3, method to Kaaya's madness & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Quick-thoughts column off 19-17 win: Click on Lucky, But Maybe That's Justice to read. 

Sunday column: Cutler's Wild Ride: Are you ready, kids? Click on Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be Dull to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 81.9%: Results are certified for the first week of our blog's 10th season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they 81.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 19-17 victory at the Los Angeles Chargers in Miami's Irma-delayed season opener. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

Next poll: Sept. 24 (following game at N.Y. Jets)

Yearly DSM Results: 2016--76.2% (following 10-6 season/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G1: DOLPHINS 19, @CHARGERS 17Final quick thoughts: The excuses were all lined up. Neat, right in a row. Hurricane Irma. A delayed opener. A quarterback new to the team. Practices moved across the country. Philip Rivers. A late distraction involving one of their own players, Lawrence Timmons, going AWOL on the eve of the game. The Miami Dolphins didn't any of those excuses. They did need some luck -- a narrowly missed 44-yard Los Angeles Chargers field goal in the last seconds -- but that seemed fitting, didn't it? The Dolphins endured a lot in the buildup to this season. Sunday? It felt like a reward. Quick takes? Trust this offense. No, 19 points isn't a lot, but all the J's showed up. New QB Jay Cutler was a sharp 24 for 33 for 23- yards and TD, a 101.8 passer rating. Jay Ajayi rushed 28 times for 122 yards. Jarvis Landry caught 13 balls for 78 yards. (Oh, and DeVante Parker was the deep threat we envisioned, and Kenny Stills caught a TD pass). This offense will percolate once everyone is comfy with it. The issue? Pass defense. Rivers sliced through Miami 31 of 39 for 331 yards and a TD. He led the game-winning late drive, but for the providence of an inexperienced kicker missing wide-right on a very makeable field goal. Bottom line? Yeah, the Dolphins were lucky to win in the end. But, after this week, it felt like this team sort of deserved that luck ..... 4Q: Dolphins win as Bolts missed last-second 44-yard FG! ... MIA 19-17 with 1:05 left on Parkey 54-yard FG ... MIA within 17-16, settling (again) for a short FG, mid-quarter ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-13 on 28-yard FG after after killer sack on 3rd down ... LAC back up 17-10 on Rivers-Gates hookup ... MIA 10-10 on Cutler 29-yard TD pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: If I told you Jay Cutler was 13-for-16, Jay Ajayi was 11-for-56 and Jarvis Landry had 8 catches, would you have imagined Miami trailing 10-3 at the half? Me neither. The big issues: Fins need to open up the offense. Second, Philip Rivers is having his way. Miami pass defense needs to be much better ..... 2Q: LAC 10-3 on Gordon 1-yard run ... LAC 3-3 on 41-yard FG ..... 1Q: Low-watt first quarter. Meaning dull ... MIA 3-0 on Parkey 30-yard FG ..... [Click on Week 2 Gems for all latest NFL picks] Thanks to Hurricane Irma, today's 4 p.m. kickoff is the latest Game 1 on the calendar that Miami will have played since 1977. It also will be the now-it-counts debut for new Dolphins QB Jay SdmiaCutler, in for injured Ryan Tannehill. Oh, and of course this will mark the Chargers’ first real game in L.A. since 1960, after 56 years in San Diego. That’s lots of wild cards tossing unusual unpredictability into the mix here. But the drama doesn't end there. Sunday morning came the news that veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons, upset over something, had G1essentially gone AWOL from the team and will not play today, Chase Allen starting in his place. That's doubly troubling. First, he's supposed to be a team leader as a major offseason addition. Second, the LB line was weak/thin to begin with. Philip Rivers' eyes must be wide as saucers, his smile just as wide. But I'm still hedging my bet with Bolts winning outright but Fins covering the bet-line as 3 1/2-point road underdogs. Miami figures to pound the ball with Jay Ajayi vs. a run-D that gave up 140 yards last week. That gives Miami a big, big upset shot. Bottom line, though, for me? Rivers is really good, and I won’t quite trust MIA's pass-stopping (or defense in general) until shown why I should. Also, think the Irma-caused time off, distraction and practice-schedule havoc will hurt and find the Fins a step slow as they work through the rust and catch up to real-season pace. The Timmons mess doesn't help. Dolphins have a load to overcome today. My pick: Chargers, 27-24.

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. DOLPHINS: Finally, the Fins ... and they win!: Thanks to Hurricane Irma and its after-effects the Dolphins' season opener Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers was Miami's latest Game 1 since 1977. Worth the wait? Miami needed luck of a late missed field goal to win, but after what this team had endured, that felt deserved.

 2. HURRICANES: Irma'd Canes set to resume season: We should be talking about that great Miami-Florida State game on Saturday. Except it got Irma'd. With one game at Arkansas State canceled and another at FSU postponed 'til Oct. 7, UM will finally resume its season this coming Saturday at home vs. Toledo after practicing all week in Orlando. Irma, could you be any more annoying!? Seriously.

3. MARLINS: Can Stanton still do it?: Reeling Fish have lost 16 of past 19 entering three-game home series vs. Mets starting tonight, after three hurricane-displaced "home" games in Milwaukee. (Thanks again, Irma!) But big question is if Giancarlo Stanton, stuck at 54 homers, can still rally to get to Roger Maris' steroids-free record of 61.

4. BASEBALL: Indians set mark for consecutive wins: Cleveland Indians fans haven't cheered a World Series champion since Lou Boudreau's 1948, but at least they have this. Their 22nd consecutive victory broke the MLB record of 21 set by the Chicago Cubs in 1935. Hmm. Cavaliers, now this. Is there hope yet for the Browns? Naahh!

5. PANTHERS: Cats open training camp; preseason on deck: The Cats opened their NHL training camp Friday and will play their first preseason games this Tuesday with a doubleheader in Nashville. It snuck up on us but now it's here. Hockey!

6. NASCAR: Road to Homestead has begun with playoffs: Chicagoland on Sunday hosted the first NASCAR playoff race, won by Martin Truex Jr., leading to the season finale at Homestead, with 16 drivers making it. Unfortunately, no Dale Earnhardt Jr., so no shot at a storybook finish to Junior's final season. 

7. HEAT: Miami locks up Richardson, readies for camp: While we were busy tracking hurricanes, the Heat signed guard Josh Richardson to a four-year, $42 million extension and open training camp next week. If they can bottle last season's second half, conference finals aren't out of question.

8. GATORS: Florida beats Tennessee on Hail Mary: The Gators beats Vols 26-20 when a last-second Hail Mary touchdown bomb broke a tie in Gainesville. Not sure if this'll be a great season for UF. But it was a great Saturday.

9. FIGHTING: Canelo, Golovkin in an exciting draw: We all hate ties, but last night's Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin draw in Las Vegas was about as exciting as indecision gets. Rematch. Cha-ching!  

10. FAU: Owls win first game for Lane Kiffin: FAU won at home 45-0 over Bethune-Cookman for Lane Kiffin's first win as Owls coach. Muted celebration, I hope. FBS teams that lose to bethune have to wear dunce caps for a week. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Two brothers featured in the Netflix series "Last Chance U" were charged in connection with a fatal stabbing. Pardon me while I try to feign surprise ..... Floyd Mayweather said of Donald Trump: "He speak like a real man." Mayweather? He speak like a real man intent on dropping the second 's' off the word 'speaks' ..... Adrian Peterson said of his Saints debut, "I didn't sign up for nine snaps." A.P. ties for the NFL lead in earliest complaint ..... Marshawn Lynch was fined for showing middle fingers to TV cameras. Or, did that go without saying?

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 9-18-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: The Marlins play a home game that's actually here!

2. Detroit at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.: Stafford vs. Manning on Monday Night Football.

3. Islanders at Rangers, 7 p.m.: Jonesing for hockey? It's the NHL preseason!

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 24, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Dolphins' draft, LeBron, Fish, Canes, Hernandez, Heat, Messi, Serena; plus our Jose statue column, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, April 24. Welcome to NFL Draft Week! 2) Did you mark national Record Store Day by visiting your local indie shop on Saturday and buying a couple of LPs? Guess what: Those stores are open year-round! 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins not ruling out offense for first draft pick, Fins' 2017 schedule with notes, Canes-Noles, on Aaron Hernandez, your verdicts on Jose statue and Sherman trade & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column: On Jose Fernandez statue controversy: Many are against the Marlins building a statue to honor Fernandez since toxicology reports indicated he was negligent and impaired in the boat crash that killed himself and two others. I too am uneasy over the idea. And, yet, I see the potential for a greater good because the statue will be a constant reminder not only of his life, but how it ended. Click on The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose 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. DOLPHINS/NFL DRAFT: Finally, it's Draft Week in Miami!: Newly released league schedule finds Miami back on the NFL map with four prime-time games (amazing what ending your playoff drought can do), but bigger news is this week's NFL Draft Thursday through Saturday. The most likely result for the Fins' No. 1 pick? That, no matter who it is, most Dolfans were sort of hoping for the other guy instead.

2. NBA: LeBron leads first-round sweep: The NBA playoffs' first round dragged on moved along with four more games Sunday and one team, Cleveland, became the first to advance with a sweep of Indiana. The Cavaliers had overcome a 26-point deficit in Game 3, and LeBron James averaged nearly a triple-double in the series. Selfishly, his excellence is making it very difficult on his haters. Damn you, LeBron!

3. MARLINS: Fish win second straight in nine-game road swing: Marlins are six games (3-3) into season's second longest road trip and fighting to hang with the Nationals in the NL East race as they head to Philadelphia. The goal: To still be a playoff contender when hosting All-Star Game later this summer. And dare say beyond?

4. HURRICANES: Football, baseball share campus spotlight: UM's football spring practice wrapped up for Mark Richt with Saturday's scrimmage (still with no clear starter at quarterback), while Jim Morris' baseball Canes -– trying to save their season -– split two games in home series with rival Florida State before Sunday's finale was rained out.

5. AARON HERNANDEZ: Ex-football star kills self: More cheers than tears met the news the ex-Patriot and convicted murderer hanged himself in prison. But does that say more about him or us? A tragedy, a shame, a waste. Everybody lost. Man, I'm starting to depress myself.

6. HEAT: Exit meetings wrap up the strangest of seasons: Pat Riley said he'd like to work this offseason to keep this Heat team together. Hopefully he meant team that went 30-11 in the season's second half, and not the one that was 11-30 at the turn.

7. NHL: Playoffs' first round is complete: Ottawa and Washington winning Sunday completed the first round in the long hunt for the Stanley Cup, with eight teams advancing to the second round starting Wednesday. Ottawa made it two Canadian teams still alive as that country girds for not winning the Cup yet again.

8. SOCCER: El Clasico renews sport's best rivalry: Arsenal beat Manchester City and will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final, but the bigger match in some ways Sunday was Barcelona riding the brilliance of Lionel Messi for a 3-2 win over Real Madrid in a renewal of soccer's greatest club rivalry. Teams play in Miami this July 29 and already you can't buy a ticket without taking out a second mortgage.

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis star pregnant with first child: Serena, engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, revealed she is 20 weeks pregnant and will take several months off from tennis. "Thank God!" said the other women who can never beat her.

10. NASCAR: Bristol hosts washed out Sunday race: Bleak weather conditioned postpone it til Monday. Sorry, gearheads. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Headline on ESPN.com today: 'FAU wraps up successful spring, Kiffin says.' And you wondered why Lane Kiffin was a great hire? Because ESPN is paying attention to FAU Owls spring practice ..... Saturday was Record Store Day. Colleague David J. Neal: "What's next, Rotary Phone Day?" ..... Sailing's 35th America's Cup begins in one month. It's a wind-wind situation. Sorry. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 4-24-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: One 1st-round Game 5 and two 4s, with Golden State in position to advance.

2. NASCAR race, 1 p.m.: Sunday's rained-out race in Bristol, Tenn., postponed 'til today.

Select other recent columns: Everyone's Shouting Defense, But..., on Dolphins and first round. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

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!?

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