February 04, 2016

Rating the Hurricanes' Signing-Day bounty: New poll. Vote now!; plus skill positions, linebacker head Richt's incoming UM class; also, new Super Bowl With a Smirk III on the power of the chicken wing, updated NBA/NHL odds & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Gulp! Today I'm at Friday Page HQ deciding who'll win the Super Bowl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl With a Smirk I, Ted Cruz looks like a vampire & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Florida Panthers remain better title bet than Heat: Latest betting odds from from Bovada have Golden State now even at 1-1 for NBA championship, with Cleveland and San Antonio next at 11-4 each. Miami is tied for eighth at 66-1. NHL title odds are led by Washington at 4-1, Chicago 5-1 and Los Anegles 15-2, with Florida tied for sixth at 16-1. (Cats could become a trendy bet; they just won at Washington, 5-2). Prohibitive MVP faves are Warriors' Steph Curry at 1-4 and Blackhawks' Patrick Kane at 1-3.

AMID THE OVERBLOWN HYPE OF NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, CANES AND RICHT SCRAMBLE TO NAIL DOWN SOLID CLASS: [Click HERE to meet the Hurricanes' newly minted 18-man 2016 recruiting class]. I get why so many fans are drunk with interest (or perhaps just drunk in general) over National Signing Day. It is to college football what the NFL Draft is at the higher level. The pipeline. The replenisher. It's a first indication how successful your team might be in the Nsdnext few years. What amuses me, though, is the media and fans' instant and self-assured analysis of something inherently unpredictable. We are talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. The coveted five-star recruit might flame out. The lightly recruited two-star guy could become your program's savior. The preps-to-colleges outlook simply is not as readable or reliable as the colleges-to-pros jump because there is a greater lump-of-clay factor. High-school players are not fully formed; they need Allisondevelopment. They  need coaching. Al Golden and his staff did not do that sufficiently. That's why Mark Richt is now running Miami Hurricanes football. Richt was hamstrung by coming into Canes recruiting late but seems to have made up ground. UM's class was ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN, with 10 Top 300 prospects among its 18 recruits. I know there are thin areas and have been some notable defections, but I like what I see of the Canes' 2016 class. The linebacker gets are extremely impressive. And the offensive skill-position bounty seems very good, led by QB Jack Allison (Palmetto), RB Travis Homer (West Palm) and WR Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas). Allison (pictured), a 6-5 pro-style passer, will be groomed as the heir to Brad Kaaya; Bruce has five-star speed and skills but is downgraded for being only 5-8. Here is ESPN's synopsis of the UM bounty, condensed: "The Hurricanes surged after the hire of Richt. They landed ESPN 300 DE Patrick Bethel on Dec. 14. He is joined in the class by QB Allison, playmaker Bruce and fellow speedster Dionte Mullins. WR Ahmmon Richards (No. 212 in ESPN 300) was a great addition on signing day. Adding another ESPN 300 prospect, Homer and his 4.48 speed, was a big win at running back. The Hurricanes' class at receiver and linebacker is especially impressive, including LBs Shaquille Quarterman and Zachary McCloud. Three-star defensive tackle prospect Tre Johnson has considerable upside." Richt called Sam Bruce "very explosive," a slot receiver whose speed "gives him the ability to get on the edge as well." The coach called Travis Homer "A very skilled back," adding, "He was the second guy I watched after Jack [Allison] and I had a big grin when I watched the tape." Richt was hamstrung by his latte arrival in a recruiting game built on relationships. "When you have everything in place and all your support staff is clicking, there's some energy and synergy going on," he said. "But when you start that train from ground zero and try to move that thing, getting to know (everybody), there's so many things to do in such a short time." Richt and this class should be graded on that curve. The new coach sounded subdued Wednesday. Tired. "But it's a good tired," he said. We invite your initial thoughts on UM's 2016 recruiting bounty in the poll below. None of us can know for sure, of course. But that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion, right?

SMIRK III: CHICKEN-WING METRIC FAVORS CAROLINA, SB BLING UPDATE, HERDING THE HOMELESS, '17 SB ODDS: Here comes Smirk III, the third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns. The National Chicken Council — whose name alone conjures a clandestine assembly of poultry elders convening in George Orwell’s Animal Farm — has released its Chickens2016 Wing Report, the bible of Super Bowl snacking. The NCC estimates a record 1.3 billion wings will be eaten by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday, 39 million more than last year. The wing is king; pizza bows and curtsies. For example, Domino’s estimates it will sell 12 million slices on Sunday. Those 162.5 million pounds of wings, if laid end to end, would stretch from Charlotte to Denver almost 53 times. That amounts to 600 wings for every seat in every NFL stadium in the United States. Smirk has a word for that many wings: Dinner! Wings will not only probably dominate your Super Bowl party. The jointed marvels also have proven an accurate predictor of the game, based on the competing cities’ average expenditure on wings. This season that barometer went 7-3 in the playoffs and has accurately forecast four of the past five Super Bowls. Now the National Chicken Council reports (befitting a drum roll) that Charlotte residents spend $1,400 on wings per $1 million spent in local grocery stores — nearly three times the $480 devoted to wings in Denver. "It would be nice to see Peyton Manning go out with a victory, but numbers don’t lie," says the NCC’s fabulously named communications director, Tom Super. "Follow the chicken."

▪ The betting over/under is 2 minutes 20 seconds for Lady Gaga’s pregame national anthem on Sunday. What prevents Gaga from telling all her family and friends to bet big on the “under” and then coming in at 1:57? Hey, I’m just asking!

▪ Repucom, a sports and entertainment research company, measures the metrics on more than 3,800 athletes and celebrities and says Panthers QB Cam Newton now has a better "influential score" — the ability to change people’s perceptions — than President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. President Newton?

Jesuspendant▪ Super Bowl Week Bling Update: Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wears a Rolex watch valued at $80,000. Denver safety T.J. Ward counters with a similarly priced gold-encrusted pendant depicting the face of Jesus, replete with thorny crown.

▪ The game is in surburban Santa Clara, but San Francisco clearly is "Super Bowl City" in terms of festivities, and Fusion.net reports the city quietly has herded its homeless population to a four-block tent city three miles away. Apparently the host committee thinks NFL fans OK with concussions and player arrests would be aghast at the sight of a panhandler.

▪ Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called "your couch."

Budhelen▪ Helen Mirren will star in an anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad for Budweiser. Hmm. C’mon, Bud! Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get to preach against drunk driving any more than Smith & Wesson gets to bemoan gun violence.

▪ Super Bowl security on Sunday will include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force heading a task force of more than 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t deflated.

▪ OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: "Super Bowl history of missed extra points."

Fifty▪ Finally, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook already has laid betting odds to win next year’s Super Bowl, and it’s Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on top at 8-1. (Panthers are 10-1 and Broncos 14-1.) Smirk needed a miner’s helmet and pickaxe to find the Dolphins. At 50-1, only the 49ers and Browns have longer odds than Miami.

SMIRK II: THE UNEXPECTED INSPIRATION FOR SUCCESSFUL SUPER BOWL ADS, MISS UNIVERSE, A REF NAMED CLETE, GREYHOUND FORETELLS RESULT: Welcome to Smirk II, the second of
five daily Super Bowl notes columns. As we all know SB television commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gustavfreytag
Donkey National Association of Self-Serving Advertising Executives. Well, those TV ads also are as closely watched and analyzed as the game, apparently. A new study of each year’s highest-rated SB ads was conducted by researchers Keith Quesenberry of Messiah College and Michael Coolsen of Shippensburg University. Quesenberry told Time.com they concluded that the most successful, well-liked ads are presented as mini-movies in a five-act story structure such as that favored by legendary playwright William Shakespeare. The study also found most of the best Super Bowl ads follow “Gustav’s Pyramid,” the five-part story structure — exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement — espoused by 19th Century German novelist Gustav Freytag. A separate study by Smirk found that most successful Super Bowl ads feature yodeling animals in straw hats. (Pictured left: Gustav Freytag and a typical star of a Super Bowl ad). In an unrelated story, Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a Super Bowl television commercial for Amazon Echo, which has the electronic voice of “Alexa” answering your questions. Amazon denied it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s Siri. “Yeah, right!” snorted the entire country.

▪ Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrived at the Super Bowl in a pair of Versace zebra-print pants that retail for almost $900. Oh, and gold-tip loafers. By contrast, I think Broncos QB Peyton Manning arrived in a Jim Tressel sweater vest and Hush Puppies. GQ “Style Guy” Anthony Green revealed to ESPN that Newton’s daring sartorial splendor could be a good omen for Carolina.

▪ Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly Media Day) featured Newton freestyle rapping, an Austrian sportscaster in ski clothes, a man dressed in a gold leotard, a leprechaun in Broncos colors and Josh Norman in a Luchador wrestling mask. In other words, pretty much the usual stuff.

▪ I don’t wanna say I’m beginning to doubt Manning’s denial that he ever used human growth hormone, but at Tuesday’s weigh-in he was 6-11 and 314 pounds.

▪ This could be a dull Super Bowl Week if we don’t get some decent controversy beyond that silly HGH story. Smirk will do his part at Wednesday’s media session by attempting to plant deer-antler spray on Ted Ginn Jr.

Missuniverse▪ Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach (Phillipines), is covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition. Apparently an embittered Miss Colombia was denied a credential. At least that’s what Steve Harvey told me.

▪ CBS held a news conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to reveal it has more than 550 personnel and 100 cameras swarming the Bay Area. The event went well before degenerating into a fistfight between Jim Nantz and Phi Simms. OK Smirk made up that last thing.

▪ Federal officials said Tuesday there is no specific, credible threat to this week’s Super Bowl, other than it tanking in the ratings because Carolina is so far ahead.

▪ The NFL announced its Sunday officiating crew headed by referee Clete Blakeman, and nobody cared except the men’s immediate families.

Grammar▪ Panthers fans are more grammatically correct than Broncos fans, according to a Twitter study by grammarly.com. Carolina fans (6.6) made fewer grammar mistakes per 100 words than Denver fans (7.6). Both deploy the language far better than Dolphins fans, who ranked 30th of 32 teams at 11.9.

▪ A skirmish arose Tuesday along “Radio Row” when competing producers for rival stations 790 The Ticket Miami and WQAM came to blows over first dibs to a profusely sweating Chris Berman.

Carolinadog▪ Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.

Previously: Click on Smirk I for Tuesday's debut. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 30, 2016

What sport has best (or least awful) All-Star Game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dan Marino's new Super Bowl ad (with video), runners who make marathons an unhealthy obsession, '72 Dolphins lose again, control-freak LeBron & more

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

Phelps1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 30. How great is this? Champion swimmer Michael Phelps, wearing Speedos and his Olympic medals, joined Arizona's State's "Curtain of Distraction" at a basketball game last night. 2) Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane guitarist and founding member, dead at 74. Man, all the old rockers are peeling away. 3) ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for the Fusion TV/LeBatard Show spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost: Canes '16 football schedule analysis, '72 Dolphins finally lose, UM basketball and baseball, #WomenNotObjects, activities book for Satanic children & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Anybody but me noticed that Heat limited partner Raanan Katz's name is pronounced 'rainin' cats'?" --Greg Cote

Word of the day: anorak: British slang for someone obsessively interested in something that doesn't seem to merit such attention. Example: "He's a bloody anorak for running those marathons, isn't he?"

Lust for power, control is who LeBron is: That's the theme of my recent column; click Chosen And In Charge to read. Email reaction has seen Heat fans generally loving the column and others (read: Clevelanders) not so much. I don't consider the column pro-Heat or anti-LeBron. I'm simply exploring how everything about LeBron's career makes believable the prevailing idea he had a hand in David Blatt's firing, and plausible the report that he also maneuvered to see Erik Spoelstra removed while in Miami.

IT'S ALL-STAR GAME SEASON, UNFORTUNATELY: Today's latest column by me centers on All-Star Game Season, with the NFL Pro Bowl and NHL All-Star Game both Sunday and the NBA's ASG Nflpb
Nhlasg Nbaasg  Mlbasgtwo weeks later. The NBA has the best of those three, though that's faint praise. Baseball's July Midsummer Classic gets it closest to right, because of tradition and the fact the game matters. The Pro Bowl to me is the worst of them all -- mainly because the players themselves don't give a s---. In the other three sports players are honored to participate. Football players actively dream up reason to avoid the game, as I detail in the column. Click on The All-Star Shame to read in full. The poll asks you which of the big-four all-star games you think is the best one, although I could as easily have worded the question, "Which is the least bad." In this poll I challenge you to separate which sport you may prefer from which league presents its all-stars best.

Dolphins in 2016 NFL Pro Bowl: C Mike Pouncey was team's only actual, originally chosen all-star but will not play because of an alleged injury. Replacement players (quasi-Pro Bowlers) are OT Branden Albert and S Reshad Jones (Team Irvin) and WR/KR Jarvis Landry and CB Brent Grimes (Team Rice).

Panthers in 2016 NHL All-Star Game: F Jaromir Jagr won a fan vote to be Atlantic Division captain, and D Aaron Ekblad and G Roberto Luongo join him on team. Gerad Gallant will coach Atlantic team via Cats' first-place division standing.

Heat in 2016 NBA All-Star Game: G Dwyane Wade was voted in as an Eastern Conference starter. F Chris Bosh was selected as a reserve.

Marlins in 2015 MLB All-Star Game: OF Giancarlo Stanton and 2B Dee Gordon made the team.

DAN MARINO'S NEW SUPER BOWL AD: The Dolphins great and actor Alec Baldwin star in an upcoming Super Bowl ad for Amazon Echo. If you don't know it, Amazon Echo goes by the nickname, "Blatant Ripoff of Apple's Siri." Cute ad, though. Here it is:

  

RunningTHE UNHEALTHINESS OF IT WHEN RUNNING BECOMES AN OBSESSION: I've seen a couple of recent instances in my own newspaper. We in the media cover and write laudingly of people who have made a lifestyle of running marathons, of running in general, without noting how strange it is, and how unhealthy it seems Running4from a mental standpoint when that practice evolves into an overriding obsession. One was the story of a 71-year Texas man who made the Miami Marathon the 1,606th he had competed in. Another was the story of a 35-year-old Massachusetts woman in the process of running in seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Both of those instances are wonderful to some, but weird to others of us. I wonder if the running-obsessed are able to step back and see what others see. The story on the woman noted she was a single mother. Hmm. I wonder why. Him: "Honey, can you take a few days off from that? I never see you anymore!" Her: "Love to chat, Bill, but I'm in training and need to get in 100 miles today." There is an inherent selfishness to running or any other obsession that takes command of one's lifestyle and life. Obsessed runners, evidently self-conscious of this and defensive about it, come up with fortune-cookie slogans like the ones pictured at left. Yes, because of course we unhealthy heathens who are not constantly training to run in 26.2-mile footraces -- we just don't understand! The rest of us are just a bunch of lazy fatties eating Cheetos on the Running2couch, right? We're jealous!! Yeah that's it. Look, I'm not anti-running. I'm not even anti-obsession. Whatever floats your boat, as we used to say. I don't think the obsessed runner is any better or worse (or much different, for that matter) than the woman who lives with 45 cats or the guy who has been collecting stamps for 70 years. What I don't like is fawning media coverage that glowingly depicts these sneakered cultists as somehow better, as special. These Quixotic folks who literally cannot stop running -- they aren't bad people, no. But neither are they heroic as so often portrayed. They are just (and hopefully we can agree on this) people who have given their lives to running in a fitness pursuit now running their lives.

BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR THE '72 DOLPHINS: Yesterday we told  you how, in a bracketed competition of all 49 Super Bowl winners by CBS Sports and Strat-O- Dolphins72Matic, the Perfect Season 1972 Dolphins were beaten in the round-of-16 by the 1992 Cowboys. Well, today, predictionmachine.com computers played all 49 champions against each other 50,000 times each, ranked the teams by overall winning percentage, and the '72 Dolphins were ranked only No. 9 overall (the '73 Fins were 22nd). Said Prediction Machine of the No. 9 ranking: "A perfect season is a special thing. Miami was the best team that year but being undefeated isn't enough to claim the top spot on this list. Don Shula's squad was good but not dominant. During its regular season run of excellence the Dolphins beat just two teams with a winning record. When we re-simulate Miami's 1972 schedule, the team would have just a 1.2 percent chance to win every game. The Dolphins would have to get lucky again for Mercury Morris to pop bottles of champagne." Ouch. By the way, the all-time top five SB champs are: 1--1999 Rams, 2--1985 Bears, 3--1989 49ers, 4--1996 Packers and 5--1979 Steelers. Update: Yet another humbling for the Class of '72: Safety Jake Scott is the lone Dolphin to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 26-man Golden Anniversary Super Bowl team out today.  

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2016

'Making A Murderer' video spoof starring me from LeBatard Show/Fusion TV; plus NFL Championship-Round playoff picks with who'll win Super Bowl poll. Vote now!; also, your greatest-NBA-center verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 23. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins earning back trust, greatest-NBA-centers poll, Kiper downgrades Fins draft, Heat/Panthers simultaneous slumps, return of Sarah Palin & more. 2Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Congrats to Heat star Dwyane Wade for earning yet another NBA All-Star Game start. At 34, D.Wade is aging as gracefully and effectively as most any athlete I have covered or seen." --Greg Cote

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL CHAMPIONSHIP-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Nope, the Upset Bird is quiet today as the NFL playoffs pare to a final four with Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship Games. I Fripix Champgameslike both favorites, the visiting Patriots (at Broncos) and the homie Panthers (over Cardinals). By the way, Cinderella couldn't get past the velvet rope this year. No classic 'dog left in the hunt. In fact this is the first time in 11 years both conference title games have been No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in terms of seeding. Click on Championship-Round Gems for our two full prediction capsules. Also, click on Brady-Manning: The Latest And Last for our weekly Friday Page NFL column. It centers on the 17th and likely final duel in the epic Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry. Great rivalries always end with a winner, and the winner always is Time. In the poll below, it's who you think will win the Super Bowl, NOT who you want to win. Vote here with mind, not heart. You have $100 to bet on one team, straight up, to win it all. Who you got?

Showkiller'MAKING A SHOWKILLER': Fusion TV today rolled out a pretty clever spoof of Making A Murderer, the popular Netflix docu-series. It is Making A Showkiller, a promo for my Tuesday co-host role on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Showkiller (sometimes Showkilla) is a nickname of mine on the show for reasons I'll leave to the listener and viewer. Anyway, fun spoof and thanks to Charlie Hulme and the folks at Fusion. Click on Making a Showkiller to watch.

Poll result: Kareem, Wilt and Bill the Big 3 centers: We asked your vote for greatest NBA center of all-time in an alphabetical poll using ESPN's Top 10, and three guys accounted for almost 80 percent of the votes. It was Kareem-Abdul Jabbar winning with 29.6 percent followed by Wilt Chamberlain 26.9% and Bill Russell 21.6%. Then it was a huge dropoff but notable support for Shaquille O'Neal (8.4%) and Hakeem Olajuwon (8.0%). None of the other five had even 2%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vote for your top three (3)

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 31, 2015

It's Clemson-'Bama! Tigers win big, Tide rolls. My postgame thoughts, Orange Bowl game column; plus here are 2015's Top 10 national sports stories. What was biggest? Poll. Vote now!; also, Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve, all. Make it a safe one. Lots of amateur drinkers out tonight. 2) Panthers have won seven straight hockey games. ICYMI, click on Surging Cats for my recent column. 3) Brent Grimes' "apology" for his wife slamming Ryan Tannehill was pretty tepid. And still no apology from Miko. 4) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Open letter to Miko Grimes, hot Panthers relevant again, NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos Week 16 results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP award: Receiver/returner Jarvis Landry and strong safety Reshad Jones split Dolphins' MVP award announced today. Hate ties, but both are legit choices. That neither Ryan Tannehill nor Ndamukong Suh won says much about why Miami is 5-10 and looking for a new coach.

Orangebowl ClemsonoklahomaORANGE BOWL/CFP SEMIFINAL: CLEMSON 37, OKLAHOMA 17 (Final): Clemson proved it had no business being the betting underdog in this College Football Playoff semifinal, winning all over the field in a 37-17 domination of favored Oklahoma. The Tigers won where it gets physical, rushing for 312 yards and limiting OU to 67. The Sooners averaged 52 points its previous seven games but was shut out in the second half Thursday. Clemson impressed more than Oklahoma disappointed on this New year's Eve. Click on Clemson Turns Disrespect Into Orange Storm for my column from the stadium on tonight's game. ..... Original post: To the sport, it's a College Football Playoff semifinal in the new era's second year. To Miami, it's the 82nd Orange Bowl, the continuation of a tradition conceived in the 1930s to draw attention and boost tourism. To the No. 1 Clemson Tigers and No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners, it's the win they need to reach the Jan. 11 championship game in Glandale, Ariz., vs. tonight's Alabama-Michigan State Cotton Bowl winner. Click on Miami Sets the Stage for my column previewing the game. Expect fireworks from two quarterbacks who combined for 65 touchdown passes this season. Clemson, though unbeaten and top-ranked, is a betting underdog; the buzz is that Oklahoma is right-now better. I don't buy it. My pick: Clemson 34-31.

2015YOU PICK THE 2015 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-ending blog vote. The top 10 stories in our poll are not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically, not in order, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, figuring that if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, chances are the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. We'll ask your vote on the top 10 Greater Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2015 in the coming days. For now, let's go nationwide. Ready? Go!

Vote for the top three (3) biggest stories:

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 22, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 5.4 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-14 loss at San Diego putting Miami's season record at 5-9. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 20, 2015

G15: Indianapolis 15, Dolphins 6 (Half): Gore leads a parade of ex's hurting the Dolphins thus far. Our halftime thoughts; plus the new Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Christmas weekend filled with even more love than presents! 2) Click on Week 16 Gems for today's Dolphins and other NFL picks. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall in Sun Bowl with CSM poll, team-inspiring-most-optimism verdict & more. 4) ICYMI, click on The Miami 25 for my ranking of the 25 biggest current names in South Florida sports. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Voting continues in season-ending Canesfan poll: Find the latest and season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in the blogpost directly below this new one. Vote and be heard!

Watch for latest Dolfan poll later today: The new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll will appear right here soon after today's game ends. Estimated posttime: 5 p.m.

G15: INDIANAPOLIS @ DOLPHINS: AS ANOTHER NFL CALENDAR YEAR FIZZLES TO AN END IN MIAMI: Halftime: Miami has only 151 net yards of offense in trailing 15-6 at the half. And the ex's are killing Miami. Ex-Canes Frank Gore, Philip Dorsett and Andre Johnson and ex-FIU'er T.Y. Hilton have 157 combined yards, and ex-Fins Vontae Davis (interception) and Kendall Langford (sack) also are hurting the Dolphins thus far. ..... Second Q: Matt Hasselback knocked from game with shoulder boo-boo; 3rd-stringer Charlie Whitehurst in for Indy. No matter. Gore 11-yard scoring run, his second TD. Ex-Cane is really hurting Miami and Colts now up 15-6 ... MIA within 8-6 on Lamar Miller 1-yard TD run followed by missed 2-point conversion pass. Standard call would have been extra-point kick there. Surprised they went for two so early in game. ... On the bright side. Fins far from out of it. Eight points (should be) a small hole against a bad Colts squad. ..... First Q: Good God, man! Tannehill picked off in end zone. Miami wastes 49-yard completion to DeVante Parker. I said before the 3rd-and-goal pass, "Watch them settle for a field goal." Gave 'em too much credit. ... Colts 8-0 now on Frank Gore 37-yard TD run through at least three missed tackles. Missed extra point. Bad, bad defense. ... Brent Grimes INT negated by his own penalty. ... World-safeties leader Miami is hit with another one. Colts, 2-0. You must be bleepin' kidding me. ... What the Dolphins have to play for? Avoiding a 10-loss season. Yes, It has come down to this. ..... Pregame: Center Mike Pouncey the notable Dolphin inactive today. ..... Note: be live-blogging here during today's Dolphins-Colts game, with a running commentary including halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the appearance of the new DSM poll. ..... Original post: For the seventh season in a row a calendar year ebbs with another Dolphins season petering out playoff-less. Sad. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Dolphins gave their fans the Christmas gift of a playoff team once in a damned while? Instead it’s coal in the Dolfan stocking as a 5-9 Miami team Indmiahosts the Andrew Luck-less 6-8 Colts in the season's next-to-last game. Unlike Miami, Indy still is alive for a playoff spot, though ever so faintly. Despite that Miami is a narrow 2 1/2-point favorite today. I continue to believe that the Dolphins are closer to mediocre than to awful. Sad to say, I guess that makes me an optimist. (Maybe even a homer?) It is the Colts who have been closer to awful lately, with Matt Hasselbeck looking his age (40) in three straight losses. Now creaky Hasselbeck is forced to pitch again Sunday here because Luck, though close, isn’t fully healthy yet. Sidelight: FIU’s T.Y. Hilton returns to Miami for the first time as a pro. He’s been griping about Indy’s play-calling, but it is the Nags’ defense that’s been putrid lately. Ryan Tannehill could roll a 300 against this pass defense and Lamar Miller should find friendly running lanes, too. Indy's playoff prayer is that it must win out and hope Houston loses twice to sneak in. Won’t happen. Fins will see to that today. My pick: Dolphins, 27-17.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 27): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Four days until CFP semifinal in Miami: No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma arrived in town for their New Year’s Eve faceoff in a College Football Playoff semifinal in the Orange Bowl game at Dolphins stadium. Only thing keeping it from being the perfect matchup is that Miami fans don’t get a chance to boo Nick Saban.

2. HURRICANES: UM fails to end postseason drought in Sun Bowl: The Canes lost 20-14 against Washington State on Saturday in El Paso, losing a sixth consecutive bowl. UM’s last postseason win had been after the 2006 season. Counting interim guys, that was six coaches ago.

3. PANTHERS: Red-hot Cats try to extend win streak on Sunday: The Panthers have won five games in a row and 11 of their past 14 to surge within two points of second place in the NHL’s East playoff race entering Sunday’s game against Columbus. If the Cats were any hotter, the ice would be melting under their skates.

4. HEAT: Team stands precariously at season’s one-third mark: Entering Sunday's games, Miami is only a half-game from second place in the NBA East but also only two games from being off playoff pace. Remember phone booths? Picture 10 people crammed into one. That’s the Eastern Conference standings.

5. DOLPHINS: Miami hosts Colts on Sunday in next-to-last game: You are a true Dolfan if you show up Sunday to watch a 5-9 team host the Andrew Luck-less Colts. For a seventh consecutive season, the Dolphins, in lieu of the gift of a playoff season, have rewarded their fans with a metaphorical lump of coal.

6. NBA: Steph tops LeBron in marquee Christmas matchup: Golden State topped Cleveland 89-83 in a Christmas rematch of the NBA Finals. What we learned: It's still Steph Curry's league, LeBron James.

7. NFL: Pro Bowl awards bring usual outcry: Center Mike Pouncey was the lone Dolphin chosen. Bengals QB Andy Dalton and Fins safety Reshad Jones were among notable surprise snubs as the NFL named its annual all-stars. The Pro Bowl. The honor every player wants, even though it's the game nobody wants to play in, or watch.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men and women, both ranked, back in action: No. 13 men (10-1) host Princeton Tuesday, the No. 23 women (12-1) host North Carolina State Wednesday. Great season so far for Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier.
 
9. SOCCER: Blatter, Platini suspended eight years: Disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter and European chief Michel Platini received eight-year bans each for their roles in the sport's bribery scandal. Presumably the attempted bribes of the people suspending them did not work.
 
10. YEAR-END AWARDS: The AP anoints Curry, Williams: The Associated Press named NBA star Steph Curry and tennis star Serena Williams its make and female athletes of the year. "What's a horse gotta do to get a trophy," said Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
 
Missing the cut: A drone carrying a TV camera nearly crashed into a World Cup skiier. Some sentences are so ridiculous they require no punchline ... Peyton Manning denies report he used human growth hormone. It'd be a bigger story, but the report is by Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based network ... Farewell, Frank Beamer ... Carolina Panthers go for 15-0 today in Atlanta ... Junior Orange Bowl tennis ended. By habit, disgruntled parents continued screaming over line calls ... Western Kentucky beat  South Florida in Miami Beach Bowl. Marlins Park was half empty. As usual.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faith level        Now        October

Strong              9.1%        12.9%

Medium            18.3%      29.1%

Wavering          36.8%      31.9%

Weak               35.8%      26.1%

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 02, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL 2015 SOPY TOP 25

Rk    Player, team-pos.                    Season

1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb         2,077.5

2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                  1,990

3      Alex McGough, FIU-qb               1,594

4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                1,531

5      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb               1,438

6      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                 1,262

7      Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb            1,260

8      Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb            1,206

9      Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb           1,145 

10    Treon Harris, Florida-qb              924.5

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

Roll Call of SOPY Champions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 01, 2015

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

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

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

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

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 3.7%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 3.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 38-20 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 4- Dsm7. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote