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 03, 2016

Cubs win World Series! My new column, plus historical perspective on the unusual delight of sports' best championship night; also, NFL TV rating woes, D.Wade beats LeBron on World Series bet, your Dolphins/London verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3. I'm up in Friday Page World Headquarters begging this week's NFL Week 9 picks. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Falcons-Buccaneers game. 2) 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): Dolphins give another home game to London with poll, Andre Johnson and Canton, SOPY rankings, The List (Cubs' challenge) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

World Series, NFL, Jose Fernandez, Heat, Dolphins: Our most recent columns: Click on There's Hope For Us All (on Cubs' World Series win) and on A Needed Slap In Face (on NFL's declining TV ratings) for our two newest columns. Also: Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did. The Whiteside Project. What Took You So Long? (on Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot. And The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi).

Game7sHISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE UNUSUAL DELIGHT OF A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 7: On sports' grand scale of so-common to way-rare, what we got last night -- a Game 7, winner-take-all for the season's championship -- was closer to rare. And one could argue that this Game 7, Cubs at Indians, was the greatest ever, considering no previous G7s in
Chicleany sport have seen anything close to one team with a 108-year championship drought and the other's at 68 years. Somebody's long suffering was going to end last night, the agony over one city's loss offset by the sheer exhale of joy in the other. I was rooting for the Cubbies to win for the first time since 1908, but imagined I'd also have felt goosebumps watching Indians fans celebrate their first World Series crown since '48. The Cubs won, of course, 8-7 in 10 innings. But for fans of neither team, it was a no-lose night. A win for baseball. A brief synopsis of the rare joy of Game 7s in the three major sports that have them:

MLB: Game 7 overall incidence: 38.3% -- Last night's was the 36th Game 7 in the 94 series since baseball began a continuous best-of-7 World Series format in 1922. The previous was in 2014 (Giants over Royals). But the incidence has declined in the modern era. Since 1990 it has been 29.4%, with last night's only the fifth Game 7 in 17 seasons.

NBA: Game 7 overall incidence: 27.1% -- Basketball has had 19 NBA Finals Game 7s in 70 years since the continuous best-of-7 format began in 1947. The most recent one was last season in 2016 (Cavaliers over Warriors). The incidence since 2000 has dropped slightly to 23.5%, four Game 7s in 17 years.

NHL: Game 7 overall incidence: 20.8% -- Hockey has had 16 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7s in 77 seasons since the best-of-7 format continuously began in 1939. The most recent one was 2011 (Bruins over Canucks). The incidence since 2000 has risen to 37.5%, with six Game 7s in 16 seasons.

Combined: Game 7 overall incidence: 29.5% -- Cubs-Indians tonight will be the 71st combined championship Game 7 in 241 seasons for the three sports. The incidence has held steady since 2000, at 30.0%, with 15 combined Game 7s in 50 seasons. So figure slightly less than one every three years on average but none, ever, quite like Cubs-Indians, with those fans' combined 176-year title drought.

South Florida's two championship Game 7s -- Florida Marlins defeat Cleveland Indians 3-2 in 11 innings, October 26, 1997, at Pro Player Stadium. Miami Heat defeat San Antonio Spurs 95-88, June 20, 2013, AmericanAirlines Arena.

D.WADE AND LEBRON'S WORLD SERIES BET: This is a good one. Can you picture Dwyane Wade in a full Cleveland Indians uniform prior to a Bulls game in Chicago? You don't have to. Instead, imagine LeBron James in a full Chicago Cubs uniform before a Cavaliers game in Cleveland. That's what you'll see. That was their bet, determined by last night's World Series Game 7 result. "I want to win," said Wade, smiling. Done.

Poll result: You hate Dolphins giving up home games to London: We asked what you think of the Dolphins in 2017 playing a "home" game in London for second time in three years, and it was a landslide 82.3 percent against it. Only 15.9% were OK with it, and the other 1.8% were undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 25, 2016

Canes football picked 2nd in ACC division; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Ichiro, Fins, Canes; also, NFL clears Peyton, football town again?, Tannehill a new daddy, SABR nerds coming, Dolphins fantasy leaders & more

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

Laurentannehill1) It is MONDAY, JULY 25. Ichiro is still at 2,996 hits after striking out yesterday as a pinchhitter.  He is not in tonight's starting lineup. 2) Former Dolphins receiver Greg Jennings retired this morning. 3) Pictured right is first-time mother Lauren Tannehill, whose baby delivered on Sunday made Ryan Tannehill a first-time daddy. Lauren is shown in a photo she posted on Twitter July 16. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA moves All-Star game with poll, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, Canes at ACC Football Kickoff, NFL MVP odds & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

NFL exonerates Peyton Manning: From the league today: "Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances." Cloud dissipates. R.I.P.: Retire In Peace.

Can Dolphins, Canes make this a football town again?: I explore the question in my latest Sunday column. Click on A Chance for Football to Retake Miami to read. The Marlins are hot at the moment, but, with Dwyane Wade gone from the Heat, a window opens for the Dolphins and UM football as both set forth with promising new coaches.  

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

SabrBaseball nerds on parade!: I'm kidding, sort of. Not everybody who belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is a nerd. Although you will find a disproportionately high percentage of statistics-obsessed sabermetric-heads, defined here as people who are aware of and casually refer to "babip" (batting average on balls in play). Anyway, SABR holds its 46th annual convention in downtown Miami at the Hyatt Regency this week, July 27-31, including a Friday ballpark session at Marlins Park. Think of it as like a comic-con for intellectually serious baseball fans including those who are convinced A's general manager Billy Beane may be the human incarnation of God. Fans may attend the convention, by the way, though it isn't free. Click on sabr.org/convention for details and and schedule.

AccCANES PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN ACC COASTAL: Miami Hurricanes are predicted to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division this season in a vote of ACC football media. UM received 50 first-place votes and 1,108 points to North Carolina's 121 and 1,238. Clemson is the pick in the Atlantic Division, its 148 first-place votes and 1,293 points beating Florida State's 42 and 1,176. For the overall conference championship it was Clemson 144 votes, FSU 39, North Carolina 7 and Louisville. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson is a huge favriet for ACC Player of the Year with 164 votes, followed by FSU RB Dalvin Cook with 18. Canes QB Brad Kaaya ties for fourth with 2 votes.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Ichiro on brink of 3,000 owns center-stage in Marlins homestand: Ichiro enters tonight's game with 2,996 hits. Dee Gordon is close to returning from suspension. And the Marlins are on playoff pace and looking to spend to acquire a starting pitcher before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Miami, you have run out of good excuses to not support this team.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins sign Foster, prepare to open first camp under Gase: Miami bolstered its running back situation by signing veteran Arian Foster as it prepared to open training camp under new coach Adam Gase with its first practice this coming Friday. Dolfans seem to love the Gase hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet.

3. HURRICANES: UM ceremonially kicks off start of football as first practice nears: Coach Mark Richt and QB Brad Kaaya spoke optimistically to media at ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte as program prepares for Aug. 4 start of preseason practice. Canes fans love the Richt hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet, either.

4. OLYMPICS: Russian doping scandal adds to beleaguered Rio Games: With the chaos-marred Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro only 12 days away, the IOC on Sunday ruled against a total ban of the Russian team over a doping scandal. Still, cheating Russians deserve a gall medal for gumption.

5. NBA: All-Star Game moved over controversial law: Its star players are outspoken against police-involved violence, now league itself steps into political arena by moving its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over that state's controversial anti-LGBT law. Leagues and athletes showing a social conscience? Good for them.

6. CYCLING: Froome wins Tour de France, again: Defending champion Chris Froome of Great Britain made it three wins in the last four years. I don't wanna say Froome had a safe lead, but he could race have raced Sunday's final stage on an 1890s-style bicycle with the giant front wheel and still finished first.

7. GOLF: Tiger still out as PGA Championship dawns: As year's final major, the 98th PGA Championship, begins this coming Thursday in New Jersey, Tiger Woods announced his back and other ailments will keep him out rest of the year. Tiger, don't keep telling us you're out. We assume that by now. Tell us when you're in.

8. BASEBALL: Griffey, Piazza inducted into Cooperstown: Baseball Hall of Fame added Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza in Sunday induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y. Griffey was untainted by even the slightest rumor of steroid use. Piazza? Wellllll...

9. SOCCER: Strikers out in U.S. Open, leaving Lockhart: The NASL Fort Lauderdale Strikers were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the all-comers U.S. Open Cup, losing 3-0 at the MLS Chicago Fire. Strikers also announced they are leaving iconic Lockhart Stadium for Central Broward Stadium. And the ghosts of 1977 wept.

10. POLITICS: Presidential race pivots from Republican convention to Democrats: Republicans just nominated Donald Trump, now Democrats are about to anoint Hillary Clinton as America tries to decide which candidate it dislikes and mistrusts less. To sports fans, it's like being forced to watch a game where you don't like either team.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Heat are quiet right now. Resting. It's very tiring not getting Kevin Durant and then losing Dwyane Wade! ..... Marlins' Christian Yelich went on Twitter to vehemently deny it was him seen in a video being, um, ah, extremely intimate with a female. After being informed his denial is what brought attention to it, he deleted his denial. "How NOT to Handle a Social Media Crisis 101" ..... White Sox ace Chris Sale shredded his uniform to protest the throwback style, missing Saturday's start. Talk about a fashion critic! ..... Derrick Rose says the Knicks are now being put in the same "super team" class as the Warriors. Yes, Derrick. But only by people who are mentally deranged ..... Jeff Gordon is coming out of retirement for a couple of races to replace concussed Dale Earnhardt Jr. Athletes are just not very good at retiring. Don't know when to. Don't know how to ..... An ESPN-affiliated ACC Network will debut in 2019. Yeah, because ESPN just doesn't have nearly enough platforms (!) ..... R.I.P., local basketball pillar Cesar Odio, 58, and ex-NFL coach Dennis Green, 67 ..... Somebody check on Miko Grimes. Make sure she's OK. Been almost a week since she last embarrassed herself and her husband on Twitter. ..... It's said the NFL doesn't like HBO's "Ballers." Should be the NFLPA that doesn't. Seems like every other scene in that series perpetuates stereotypes about black players partying on yachts ..... Saw the headline, 'Manny Pacquiao's return could revive interest in boxing'. And thought, "Man, how awful that boxing is that desperate!" ..... Answer: A new sport called "footvolley" -- soccer meets beach volleyball; no hands allowed -- will debut as a demonstration sport at Summer Olympics. Question: What do you mean there are too many ridiculous, made-up sports? ..... Hurricanes are about to reveal naming rights for their new football indoor practice facility. I cannot confirm the rumors: Greg Cote Dome.

JlandryEARLY FANTASY LOOK AT WHERE DOLPHINS PLAYERS RANK: The lists and cheat-sheets have begun trickling forth, which means fantasy football season is underway. ESPN's early standard-league Top 300 (full list here) includes nine Miami Dolphins, in this order: 42. Jarvis Landry (wr#21), pictured left; 52. DeVante Parker (wr#28); 95. Jay Ajayi (rb#36); 103. Arian Foster (rb#39); 164. Kenyan Drake (rb#55); 182. Leonte Carroo (wr#67); 194. Ryan Tannehill (qb#20); 197. Jordan Cameron (te#19); and 229. Kenny Stills (wr#85). Interestingly, at least to me, Ajayi and Foster are just about neck and neck. And surprisingly, to me, the Dolphins are not among the 22 defense/special teams to make the Top 300.

Poll result: Close, but most disagree with NBA moving its All-Star Game: We asked if you agree with the NBA pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of North Carolina's anti-LGBT law, and it was 54.3 percent "no," 42.8% "yes" and 2.9% "undecided or mixed feelings." That means most of our readers are more conservative than I am, but that's OK. Free country! I did find it interesting that "yes" votes led comfortably early on before the no's took over.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 23, 2016

Is NBA right to pull '17 All-Star Game from Charlotte over anti-LGBT law? New poll. Vote now!; plus new NFL MVP odds, Canes' Richt at ACC Kickoff, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, your verdict on Ajayi vs. Foster & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 23. Ichiro is at 2,996 hits after going 0-for-1 in last night's homestand-opening Marlins loss, and is not in starting lineup tonight. Now likely his milestone hit wouldn't come before Monday at earliest. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins sign Arian Foster with poll, Canes football on "surprise" list, LeBron James parties & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

New NFL MVP odds: Via Bovada, Packers' Aaron Rodgers opens as betting favorite to win NFL MVP award at 4-1 odds, followed by Ben Roethlisberger 7-1, Cam Newton 15-2, Russell Wilson 8-1 and Tom Brady 9-1, the latter devalued because of four-game suspension. Top Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 150-1, tied for 34th.

NBA LEADS WAY IN LEAGUES/ATHLETES DELVING INTO POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES: The NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver made good on a threat Thursday and removed the league's 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, N.C., because that state's refusal to repeal a law that critics say is anti-LGBTQ and encourages discrimination based on sex and gender. But, that same day, Nbaasg17in that same Charlotte, the ACC Football Kickoff (including the Miami Hurricanes) was held. Clearly, sports is still feeling its way in terms of whether to act or not in decisions that are political or involve social issues. Also, clearly, the NBA is leading the way on action. Just last week, it was four NBA star who opened the ESPY Awards with powerful statements agsint gun violence and shooting by and of police. There still is uncertainty, though, as seen in the WNBA, which fined players from three teams for wearing T-shirts during warmups Thursday in protest of recent police-related violence, yet in a statement said, "We are proud of WNBA players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues." Hmm. What to do? Should leagues and athletes "stick to sports" and not blur the line on social activism? Or is it right that leagues and players, as role models, lead the way in weighing in on such stuff? I align with the latter view. We offer this poll as a microcosm or indication of how our readers feel on this broad question. I'll vote "yes," but it is your consensus that will paint the picture. Vote now, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

FAREWELL, LOCKHART STADIUM: AN ODE TO THE ORIGINAL STRIKERS: [Click on Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham for our latest column. An alternate blog-exclusive version follows here] This was circa 1977-83, pre-Major League Soccer, when the original North American Soccer League had earned a foothold in this country, and when the original Fort FtlstrikersLauderdale Strikers had done the same locally, winning a loyal and considerable following. Lockhart Stadium, off I-95 and Commercial, filled to near its 20,000- Rayhudsonseat capacity for most home games. It was intimate, conveying a Fenway or Wrigley vibe for the lads in the bumblebee uniforms. Tailgating was huge. Fans showed up hours early. Strikers flags waved in the parking lots amid the rising smoke from cookout grills. This was pre-Heat, Marlins or Panthers. Other than Dolphins and Canes the Strikers  were the biggest thing in town. Lockhart Stadium is where showman-coach Ron Newman once rose from a coffin at midfield to demonstrate his team's resilience. Where a young blond Brit named Ray Hudson (pictured) made the women swoon. Where European legends like Gerd Muller and Georgie Best played their career's winters. Where a Rotten to the Cor banner flew against Dutch coach Cor Van der Hart. I covered those early Strikers teams as a fulltime beat, my first big break and major assignment for the Miami Herald. Interest (and travel budgets) were high, so all of a sudden I'm a kid being sent to Vancouver to cover a team. It seemed like a big deal. And it was, for a time. Now fast forward almost 40 years, if you can believe that. MLS is futbol king in America now. The NASL is still Ronnewmanaround, but as a diminished, second-tier league. The Strikers are still around in their latest iteration, but a shell of their former selves. This week those Strikers, currently averaging a meager 1,310 fans per game, worst in the NASL, announced they are leaving Lockhart for Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill (starting Aug. 20), which is one-fourth the capacity. It may be because Lockhart is now old and decrepit. Or because developers want to turn that area into a water theme park. Or because the Strikers are waving a white towel and admitting a team playing to 85 percent empty seats presents a depressing tableau. It may be some of all of that. What it also is: A chapter ending for a small but not insignificant piece of South Florida sports history. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Lockhart Stadium -- the original version. There was a time when that marriage was strong and supported buoyantly, back in the day, before Greater Miami boomed into a major sports town, and it should remain the template as David Beckham continues trying to realize his dream for an MLS team in Miami. Strikers home games were an event, Lockhart was home, and in the teeming crowd it felt like you were surrounded by friends and neighbors. Farewell, Original Strikers at Lockhart. It didn't end right, but those halcyon days as the late '70s turned to early '80s contributed some special snapshots to the album of our sports history.

Poll result: Foster edges Ajayi for Dolphins RB in closest vote ever: We asked which running back you expect will have the bigger role in Dolphins' offense this season, and it was newly acquired Arian Foster edging young Jay Ajayi by 50.9 percent to 49.1% as we called it final. I cannot think of a closer either/or vote in all the years of our blog polls. The lead went back and forth. You truly were torn.

WHAT MARK RICHT SAID TO ACC MEDIA THAT REALLY MATTERED: University of Miami's time slot was this week at the ACC Football Kickoff and media days in Charlotte. We cull though the boring stuff and bring you what we found most notable from coach Mark Richt: On the season and immediate outlook: "If we do things right and don't do things to hurt ourselves, there's a great chance to have Theusuccess. And then, once we get the ball rolling, I think people will say, 'Miami is back.' I don’t think people will say, 'Miami’s having a good year.' They'll say, 'Miami’s back.' You can say you’re back when you have the tradition of five national championships in the last 30 years." On his attitude with assistant coaches: "I got to cherry-pick guys that would really buy into how I like to do things. I told the coaches that I am coaching QBs again, I'm calling plays, I'm getting in the middle of this offense. I don't have time to baby-sit anybody. I tell them if I have to motivate you, we've got a problem. If I’ve got to motivate a staff member to do his job, I’m probably going to get another staff member." On his deep religious beliefs: "I happen to be a Christian. That's just what I am. I'm not using it. I think we need to be true to who we are, what we believe. I'm not trying to make anybody believe anything I believe. I just want to do things in a way that I think God would be pleased with me. That's my goal on a daily basis. I'm not trying to use anything. I'm just trying to be who I am." On recruiting and relationships: "The big thing is to make sure that the high school coaches know that they're welcome in our place, that we want to recruit their guys, we want the local guys to stay home, and we want to be honest with everybody and do our recruiting in a way that everybody appreciates." On his goal for UM in 2016: "Win the Coastal division. Get back to the ACC championship game." Pictured, apropos of nothing: Snoop (The U) Dogg.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 20, 2016

Jay Ajayi vs. Arian Foster: Who'll have bigger role in Dolphins offense? Our closest poll ever! Last day to vote; plus LeBron arrives discreetly at a club, Canes football predicted among 2016 "surprise" teams, wonder of Ichiro, new 'Back In My Day' & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 20. Florida Panthers and 560-WQAM have extended their partnership. Good for 'QAM. Cats poised to be good for years and a growing presence in our market. 2) R.I.P., Garry Marshall, 81, who produced a lot of the '70s TV that amused America, including, of course, 'Happy Days.' 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins sign Arian Foster, your verdict on Ross as Fins owner & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new 'Back In My Day': Click here for yesterday's LeBatard Show podcast from ESPN Radio. The latest 'Back In My Day' segment, on Hour 2, kicks in around the 16-minute mark.

IchiroIchiro! Ichiro!: He's a national icon and treasure in Japan. He'll probably enter Cooperstown as a Seattle Mariner. But it is Miami and the Marlins who luck to write the final career chapter for the great Ichiro and see his run to 3,000 MLB hits. Click on Ichiro! for today's latest column, an unabashed appreciation.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or think they deserve another look: Ichiro! , the latest, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

ArianfosterWHAT TO MAKE OF DOLPHINS' ARIAN FOSTER SIGNING?:  Miami's interest in possibly recycling used running back Arian Foster first surfaced in March, when I wrote this column. Fourteen weeks later, the signing looks better to me because Foster, coming off major knee surgery, is completely healthy now (he says; he wasn't then) and passed a physical. It also looks better because the Fins got him on a very low-risk deal: an incentive-laden one-year contract of which a mere $400,000 is guaranteed. By NFL standards, he's a fry cook at McDonald's in terms of compensation. If he proves unhealthy or washed up, the team hasn't lost much on the gamble. But if he can resurrect himself, turning 30 in August, for a last hurrah? He could be the veteran presence who balances young second-year guy Jay Ajayi if he doesn't win the starting job altogether. For what it's worth, "I still feel like I'm a Pro Bowl caliber player, and I intend to show that," Foster said upon signing.

CANES FOOTBALL PREDICTED TO BE AMONG 2016 "SURPRISE TEAMS": Phil Steele writing for ESPN. com names "the 13 biggest CFB surprise teams for 2016" and the Miami Hurricanes check in RichtNo. 6 on his list. (Full story here). I think most experts think the Canes will be pretty good, so I'm a bit surprised they're on a "surprising teams" list. Nevertheless! Excerpts from Phil's reasoning: "Mark Richt will get the most out of the talent on hand. [Brad] Kaaya will be one of the top QBs taken in next year's draft. Miami has my No. 13 running back group, No. 21 receivers, No. 16 offensive line, No. 20 defensive line, No. 36 linebackers, No. 30 defensive backs and No. 15 special-teams unit. The Hurricanes are one of only 11 teams to rank in my top units in all eight position categories. They face only three teams that will be in the preseason top 25, and if they win the Coastal, beat the powerful Atlantic champ and have either zero or one losses, they will be headed to the playoffs." Whoa, big fella, whooaa! You had me at the nice stuff about Richt (pictured) and Kaaya. But those are skyscraper-sized ifs leading to the top four and College Football Playoff.

LebronLEBRON CELEBRATES TITLE: LeBron James is pictured celebrating his Cleveland Cavaliers' NBA championship on Monday night at Marquee nightclub inside the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas. (Photo is courtesy Tony Tran Photography). LeBron began his night in the private dining room of the restaurant Beauty & Essex. After dinner the former Heat star and his entourage hit the nightclub as countless smart-phones recorded his arrival. The UNLV Marching Band played "We Are the Champions" as the entourage strode a red carpet along the pool deck as fireworks boomed overhead. Upon arrival the Marquee staff inundated the James group with a parade of bottles of Ace of Spades champagne - gratis, of course. Seven Cavaliers teammates including Kyrie Irving were in James' party, which also included Chris Paul. Well, it's good to see LeBron didn't get special treatment or anything. Nope, just a regular guy arriving at a club.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 18, 2016

Dolphins exhume career of Arian Foster; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Riley, Fish, Canes, Phil, Fins, France, ESPYs, UFC; also my Pat Riley column, your verdict on Stephen Ross & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Why Stephen Ross is smart and rich with rate-him-as-Dolphins-owner poll, D-Wade's ex-wife causing more trouble, HistoryMiami Museum's 'Beyond the Game,' updated World Series odds, the shame of Dani Mathers, your verdict on Brady/Fins & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On the Dolphins and Arian Foster: NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported via Tweet this afternoon, "RB Arian Foster is signing with the Dolphins, source said." Other reports are that it is a 1-year deal. Foster is coming off major knee surgery. Miami's interest in possibly recycling the used running back first surfaced in late March, when I wrote this column. Not much has changed in 14 weeks in term of my opinion.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or think they deserve another look: Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, the latest, as Riley admits regrets over Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3, on rocky departures of LeBron and D-Wade followed by medical uncertainty with Bosh. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

1. HEAT: Riley "floored" by Wade exit, admits regrets: Summer for the Heat ended with the team missing out on Kevin Durant and then losing Dwyane Wade, followed by an NBA Summer League that saw Miami's developmental players finish 6-5 and fail to reach today/Monday's title game in Las Vegas. Pat Riley on Saturday called it a "tough, summer, period," and admitted he regrets not doing more and being more personally involved in trying to keep Wade. No do-overs, Pat.

Hotbutton2. MARLINS: Stanton, Ichiro in spotlight as second half begins: Playoff-chasing Fish are hoping Giancarlo Stanton's record-setting Home Run Derby triumph during the All-Star break continues to carry over as season's second half is underway in midst of a seven-game road trip. Team's next big hope: That Ichiro's upcoming 3,000th hit milestone (he's within six) happens at home.

3. HURRICANES: ACC Football Kickoff ceremonially launches season: Canes reinstated RB Mark Walton after a DUI charge was dropped, lost WR Lawrence Cager for the year to an injury, and now prepare to open fall practice Aug. 4. But first the program heads to Charlotte for ACC Kickoff media events this coming Thursday. UM's three representatives will be new coach Mark Richt, star quarterback Brad Kaaya and, somehow, for reasons unclear, punter Justin Vogel.

4. GOLF: Phil falls in finale of British Open: Phil Mickelson, nearly as old as golf itself, opened with a majors-record-tying 63 but lost by three shots to Henrik Stenson on Sunday as the British Open wrapped up in in Scotland. Most outside of Sweden surely were rooting for Phil, but you felt good for Stenson raising the Claret Jug for his first major victory.

5. DOLPHINS: Brady ruling, Forbes list both pluses for Fins: As team auditions free agent running back Arian Foster and prepares to open training camp July 29, Dolphins caught break as appeals court upheld four-game Deflategate suspension of Patriots QB Tom Brady. Meanwhile Fins were ranked 33rd among Top 50 most valuable sports franchises in world by Forbes, at $1.85 billion, an increase of 42 percent in one year. Which means Stephen Ross already got his money back on those $400 million in stadium renovations.

6. CYCLING: Tour de France continues with heavy hearts: Cycling's premier annual race continues through this coming Sunday despite last week's terrorist attack that killed 84 in Nice, France on the country's southern coast. Don't care who wins the race, as long as civilization is winning over terror.

7. ESPY AWARDS: NBA stars' opening message steals show: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul began the broadcast with a poignant message against gun violence in wake of recent police-involved shootings. The handing out of awards that followed hardly mattered.

8. TIM DUNCAN: Spurs' all-time great retires: Duncan retired at age 40 as a five-time NBA champion and 15-time all-star. He is 17th in career points and No. 1 all-time in bland.

9. UFC: Mixed-martial arts franchise sells for $4 billion: Remember when you thought UFC was too brutally violent to catch on with the mainstream? When we thought it was a fad that wouldn't last? WME-IMG just bet $4 billion that we were wrong.

10. SOCCER: Strikers in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal this week: The NASL Fort Lauderdale Strikers will play at the MLS Chicago Fire this Wednesday in a the quarterfinal match of the all-comers U.S. Open Cup. If you reach the final, can we get Ray Hudson to call the game?

Missing the HB10 cut: Republican National Convention begins today in Cleveland. OK, y'all had the Cavs this year. That's enough winning ..... In tennis, Croatia stunned the U.S, in quarterfinals of the Davis Cup. "Even I'm surprised," said Davis ..... Max Kellerman will replace Skip Bayless on ESPN's 'First Take.' Stephen A. Smith took 15  minutes and used 4,688 syllables to say, "Welcome." ..... Bulletin: Miko Grimes is still an idiot ..... Miami gymnast Danell Leyva made the U.S. Olympic team replacing an injured teammate ..... Back for its season premiere on Sunday is HBO's "Ballers," starring Dwayne Johnson as a guy who isn't really that good an actor but became rich and famous anyway ..... The WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks are 20-1. Dare you to name a single player ..... HistoryMiami Museum premiered 'Beyond The Game," on the history of sports in the evolution of South Florida ..... Broncos signed Von Miller to a 6-year, $114.5 million deal, more than half of it guaranteed. "See, we're not the only ones with silly-big contracts," said the NBA ..... MLB All-Star Game drew a record-low 5.4 TV rating. I think that means Stanton hit more home runs Monday night than there were viewers on Tuesday ..... Red Sox-Yankees. It's still the best rivalry in sports and I'll hear no arguments ..... We're 19 days from start of Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio. "Holy s---! Really?" said Brazil. "We better get started on those facilities!" ..... Cooperstown prepares for next week's Hall of Fame Weekend events. As always, prohibited items include fireworks, glass containers and Pete Rose ..... Ricky Williams is entering the cannabis business. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Marlins signed top draft pick Braxton Garrett, surprising the zero people who worried they wouldn't ..... Manny Pacquiao is coming out of retirement. Or, did that also go without saying? ..... Dwyane Wade's ex-wife is trying to hit him up for more money. Or, did that also go without saying? ..... Cows fly. Hell is frozen. An American golfer, Brittany Lang, not a South Korean, won the U.S. Women's Open ..... That reminds me. Why is golf a new Olympic sport if none of the men golfers seem to want to compete? ..... Sepp Blatter is appealing his six-year ban from soccer, even though no one on the face of the Earth likes him including Mrs. Blatter ..... Bartolo Colon looks like the first runnerup in a Fred Flintstone lookalike contest ..... The Panthers wrapped up their five-day developmental camp and held a news conference to introduce new players, with GM Tom Rowe again all but promising a Stanley Cup. Give him credit. Lots of balls for a guy in a sport with no ball ..... A Playboy bunny named Dani Mathers body-shamed another woman on social media. So let me get this straight. A woman who wears a cottontail and rabbit ears made fun of somebody else? ..... The Miami Gun Show is back at Dade County Fairgrounds ending today. Because, once again, there just aren't nearly enough guns in America!!

Poll result: Mixed views on Stephen Ross as Dolphins owner. But a warming trend?: This is a change. Ross is not quite as unpopular as he once was. We asked what best describes your opinion of the job he is doing as Dolphins owner and a plurality of 37.5 percent voted "so-so but getting better." However, the negative votes (24.1% "not very successful," 16.7% "unmitigated failure") outnumbered the positive votes (14.5% "somewhat successful," 7.2% "very successful"). Positive spin? If you include "so-so but getting better" on the plus side, then the pro-Ross votes outweigh the anti-Ross votes by 59.2% to 40.8%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 11, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring Wade's goodbye, Fish at All-Star break, Wimbledon, Vive la Portugal?, Fins stadium, UFC 200, British Open, ESPYs; plus your verdicts on Wade statue, new face of Miami sports & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade-leaving aftershocks including build-a-statue and who's-now-face-of-Miami-sports polls, your verdict of booing Wade, LeBatard Show podcast dominance & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

MY DWYANE WADE COMMEMORATIVE SPECIAL-SECTION COLUMN: Click on Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure for Sunday''s farewell-Dwyane column.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime, on the stunning departure of Dwyane Wade. Heat Must Kiss-and-Make Up With Wade Now, warning of the imperative to sign Wade once the Durant dream was over. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Stunner! Wade leaves Heat for Chicago Bulls: After 13 seasons and three championships, Dwyane Wade is gone. Just like that. Gone in free agency to his hometown Chicago Bulls while his adopted city reels over the loss. He was D-Wade. This was Wade County. It still doesn't seem real. This would be numbers one through eight in our Hot Button, or maybe the whole Top 10, based on the proportional impact in our market. Across the NBA, only Kevin Durant choosing Golden State was a bigger free-agency story than Wade leaving Miami. Farewell, Dwyane. The ending may have been ugly, but the run was sublime. Thank you.

2. MARLINS: Four Fish to All-Star Game, Stanton to Derby at midsummer break: Marlins wrapped up first half of season Sunday strong in playoff contention after a third straight win, and send four players (Jose Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, A.J. Ramos, Fernando Rodney) to Tuesday's All-Star Game in San Diego. And Giancarlo Stanton will be in tonight's/Monday's Home Run Derby. Nice.

3. TENNIS: Wimbledon fortnight ends with perfect championship weekend: Wimbledon wrapped up Sunday with Brit Andy Murray winning the men's title after Serena Williams reigned with a record-tying 22nd major win. The perfect weekend for Wimbledon. 

4SOCCER: Host France falls to Portugal in Euro '16 finale: It was Portugal upsetting host 'France 1-0 in overtime Sunday afternoon in the Euro '16 championship match. After all the host nation had been through, including the Paris terrorist attacks, unless you were living in downtown Lisbon, you were probably hoping, "Vive la France!"

5. DOLPHINS: Club refutes speculation on construction delays: Crazy reports and rumors pinballing around suggested that Dolphin stadium renovation delays might force the Fins to play early-season home games Orlando. Wrong! Or so said the team, claiming all construction including the new canopy would be done by Sept. 1. Hmm. We'll see.

6. MMA: Depleted UFC 200 marks milestone for sport: UFC 200 went on as scheduled in Las Vegas Saturday despite the doping-related absence of Jon "Bones" Jones after the earlier withdrawal of Conor McGregor. Disappointed pay-per-viewers buyers, there's probably a class-action suit near you.

7. GOLF: Season's third major, British Open, begins this week: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are bunched as favorites to win the 145th British Open commencing Thursday at Scotland's Royal Troon. Bonus fact: A "troon," according urbandictionary.com, is "a girl that looks like she used to be a man." Hey, don't blame me. I'm just the messenger.

8. ESPN: Network's ESPY Awards air this week: The ESPYs air on Wednesday night. Because ESPN doesn't get enough attention. And because there are not nearly enough awards shows.

9. OLYMPICS: Embattled Rio Games now less than month away: With the Aug. 5 Opening ceremony fast approaching, the Rio Olympics look to be in great shape other than the minor matters of the Zika virus, unfinished facilities, bacteria-riddled water, athlete withdrawals, doping suspensions, body parts washing ashore and local police saying they cannot protect visitors from rampant crime.

10. NBA: Summer league pivots from Orlando to Vegas: The Heat bounced to a 3-0 start in NBA summer league play, which features mostly rookies and undrafted free agents. So Miami missed out on Kevin Durant and lost Dwyane Wade, but otherwise -- a good week!

Missing the HB10 cut: Chris Bosh "broke his silence" on Bill Simmons' new show but was not asked -- not once -- about his health. It'd be like having Trump as a guest and the presidential race is never discussed. You can't make this s--- up, folks ..... Panthers GM Tom Rowe and star defenseman Aaron Ekblad were touting Cats' Stanley Cup chances at a press conference. Love the confidence but, for now, less talking, more doing, please ..... Miami super-agent Drew Rosenhaus helped saved the life of an accident victim by offering roadside assistance. No word yet whether Rosenhaus waived his 5 percent fee ..... Seven MLS teams and only the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of second-tier NASL are alive in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. Strikers play at Chicago Fire July 20 ..... We ride FIU and AD Pete Garcia pretty hard, so, in fairness, today we note that FIU's athletic department is having its best academic year on record including a highest-ever overall grade point average of 3.1. So there! ..... You know the Dolphins are in deep offseason hibernation when I get a press-release from the club touting an upcoming third annual "Mom's Clinic," evidently geared to females who are football fans but requiring a tutorial ..... Break the ice at a party with this one: "Did you know it is 133 days until the NASCAR season finale at Homestead?!" You're welcome ..... The Tour de France continues, despite a spate of bicycle tires being punctured by strewn steroid needles ..... Somebody check to make sure Johnny Manziel is OK. It's been almost a week since he last was embroiled in an embarrassing calamity.

Poll result: It's "yes" on a Dwyane Wade statue: We asked if the Miami Heat should erect a statue of departed star Wade in front of the arena, and it was 64.1 percent yes, 29.8% no and 6.1% undecided.

GsPoll result: Post-Wade, Marlins' Stanton is face of South Florida pro sports: We asked what current athlete is now the face of South Florida pro sports, and Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) led with 28.2 percent, followed by his Marlins teammate Jose Fernandez with 23.3% and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill with 16.3%. Chris Bosh (6.7%) will have to earn back his status, while Hassan Whiteside (5.9%) must prove himself worthy. Interestingly, 14.1% voted "someone else" not listed in the poll. If you were thinking Justise Winslow or Jarvis Landry, sorry, they're not there yet.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 04, 2016

Durant to Golden State! The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Heat/Durant decision, Fish, soccer, tennis, Summitt, Cats, Olympics, Fins; plus Supercon, your verdict on Wade & more

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

Aliprince Fourthjuly1) It is MONDAY, JULY 4. Happy Fourth of July! To all my fellow USA'ers, a safe and happy holiday and a happy 240th birthday, America! 2) At the midpoint of 2016, a reminder (pictured right) what a tough year's it's been for prominent deaths. The latest: R.I.P. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, whom President Obama once called "the conscience of the world," gone at 87. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hassan Whiteside sticking with Heat, might-D.Wade-actually-leave poll, Dan Jennings revisited, Dolphins playoff odds, Mark Richt ranked, Greg Cote the thespian & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Riley Gives Heat a Fighting Chance, the latest, on Miami's longshot odds entering Sunday's meeting with Kevin Durant. Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat, on Wade's tenuous status as Miami nears NBA free agency. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."  --Elie Wiesel

"The Rio Olympics begin in one month. And, really, other than the threat of Zika virus and crime, the unfinished facilities, bacteria-riddled water, athlete withdrawals, doping suspensions and body parts washing ashore, everything is looking good!"  --Greg Cote

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT/NBA: Durant chooses Golden State; Heat keeps Whiteside, awaits Wade: What a flurry! In the first few days of free agency the Heat spent more than it wanted ($98 million over four years) to keep Hassan Whiteside, and saw Luol Deng and Joe Johnson (and now looks like Tyler Johnson, too) sign elsewhere. The biggest questions remaining: Dwyane Wade, who wants his money, and of course the whale Kevin Durant, whom the Heat met Sunday in  New York. Durant's decision came late this morning and he chose the Golden State Warriors. Click on Riley Gives Heat a Fighting Chance for my column that previewed yesterday's meeting and Miami's longshot odds. Pat Riley tried to shock the world. He didn't. Now Golden State is positioned as a super-team. But Durant's two-year deal gives him an out option after next season. Meaning, next summer, we'll all be doing this all over again.

2. MARLINS: Fish acquire reliever, face Braves at Fort Bragg: As all-star break nears, Ichiro bears down on 3,000 hits and the Marlins still struggle to beat the damned Braves, the playoff-chasing Fish are buyers, thankfully, trading for quality bullpen help in veteran Fernando Rodney. That should feel good to fans. So should this: As a pre-July Fourth nod to patriotism, Braves-Marlins played Sunday night (Miami winning, 5-2) at Fort Bragg, N.C., the world's largest military base.

3. SOCCER: Host France wraps up Euro quarterfinal round: Host France throttled upstart Iceland on Sunday 5-2 to conclude the Euro '16 quarterfinal round, with semifinals coming on Wednesday (Portugal vs. Wales) and Thursday (France vs. Germany) in the sport's biggest tournament outside of the World Cup. Think of it as a welcome respite from NBA free agency.

4. TENNIS: Djokovic out, Serena still alive at Wimbledon midpoint: No. 1 Novak Djokovic was denied a shot at third straight Wimbledon title in Saturday loss, but top-ranked Serena Williams won again Sunday and still angles for her seventh Wimbledon crown. The king is dead. Who can dethrone the queen of her sport's grandest court?

5. PAT SUMMITT: Women's basketball legend passes away: The retired Tennessee legend and winningest basketball coach in NCAA history passed away at 64 after battling Alzheimer's. A summit is the highest point of a mountain. Pat Summitt reached it.

6. PANTHERS: Cats lock up Ekblad, Trochek long-term: As NHL free agency began the aggressive Panthers locked up rising-star defenseman Aaron Ekblad, 20, with a reported eight-year, $60 million deal, and also signed forward Vincent Trochek to a six-year deal. Wheeling, dealing, spending -- these Cats are serious, folks.

7. OLYMPICS: Phelps in, Bolt injured, Richards-Ross retires: Apparently 18 gold medals are not enough as American swimming legend Michael Phelps, who turned 31 Thursday, qualified for his fifth Olympics, a record for a male swimmer. In track, Jamaica's sprint champion Usain Bolt suffered a hamstring injury that puts his participation in the Rio Olympics in doubt. Closer to home, ex-Miami Hurricane Sanya Richards-Ross retired at 31 as a three-time Olympian who won four golds. Well done.  

8. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule, raised money: Club announced players would report for training camp July 28 and stage their first public practice the next day. Meantime the Dolphin Cycling Challenge raised $5.06 million for cancer research. If only the Dolphins, with 9-4 odds against making the playoffs, played as well as they fund-raised.

9. STRIKERS: Fort Lauderdale NASL club advances in U.S. Open Cup: Fort Lauderdale Strikers hosted Miami FC to open the NASL fall season Saturday night, and tied 1-1. More important, Strikers beat MLS team Orlando City, up there, to advance to the quarterfinals of the annual all-comers U.S. Open Cup soccer tournament. Go, lads, go!

10. CYCLING: Tour de France is underway: The sport that crowned and then shamed Lance Armstrong began its 103rd edition on Saturday and continues through July 24. Anybody got an over/under on number of cyclists who'll test positive for doping during the competition?

Missing the HB10 cut: NBA summer league play runs this week in Orlando and next week in Las Vegas. Heat won its debut Saturday and will see cameos by Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson but mostly 17 guys you've never heard of. NBA summer league is like the WNBA, only less exciting ..... Johnny Manziel was suspended four games for substance abuse. Or, did that go without saying? ..... NASCAR's Tony Stewart won last week to end an 84-race winless drought. Finally, his final season before retirement takes on a little feel-good ..... Colts sign Andrew Luck to richest deal in NFL history, worth up to $140 million through 2021. Imagine if he weren't coming off his worst season!? ..... Superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic signs with superteam Manchester United. In international soccer, that's about as big as it gets ..... That reminds me. Argentina's Lionel Messi announced he was done with international competition and zero people worldwide believed him ..... Funny to see Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) on the cover of Sports Illustrated's annual "Where Are They Now?" issue. Funny because I sort of think most of us have a pretty good idea what she's been up to the last few years ..... Shaquille O'Neal spent four days in Cuba this week as a U.S. State Department "sports envoy." There is a phrase for that: "Waste of tax dollars." ..... Coastal Carolina won the College World Series. No, seriously ..... Gulfstream's annual Summit of Speed ran Saturday, surprising analysts who thought that place was just a casino nowadays ..... Hockey Hall of Fame finally inducted Eric Lindros, out of the NHL since 2007, after passing him over six times. Must have had a hell of a retirement year! ..... The Cubs had lost nine of 13 entering Sunday and now barely have the best record in MLB. "It begins," agreed distraught Cubs fans ..... Tiger Woods to miss British Open. At this point, let's just assume he isn't playing until we hear otherwise, OK? ..... R.I.P., Buddy Ryan, 85, a great defensive football coach, although let's not retrofit it and saint-him-up. Like son Rex, he could be a boor and wasn't roundly liked ..... Six days 'til UFC 200. Hopefully you're more excited than I am ..... The Reds retired Pete Rose's jersey number. Well, at least Cincinnati still loves him.

SuperconFLORIDA 'SUPERCON' ROLLICKING IN MIAMI: The four-day holiday weekend event wraps up Monday in Miami Beach. I'm not personally into but am interested in this somewhat bizarre side street of pop subculture that seems to enthrall so many (mostly) young adults. It's an amalgamation of fans of anime, comic books, animation, video games, fantasy and sci-fi. It's an escapism that encourages dress-up. It's a NerdFest! But I mean that in a good way. Seriously. The scarier the real world turns, the more needed outlets like this somehow become.

Poll result: Few believe Wade will actually leave Heat: We asked where you think Dwyane Wade will be to start next season (you may still vote) and it was 42.2 percent saying back with the Heat "no doubt", 39.6% back with the Heat "some doubts," 14.1% with another team and 4.1% undecided. Comment: Surprised "some doubts" didn't win and that "with another team" wasn't a higher number.

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

Twitter @gregcote