April 24, 2018

G5: @Philadelphia 104, Heat 91: Miami eliminated from playoffs. Was that Wade's final game? Poll. Vote now; plus top 10 state-college NFL Draft prospects and every Cane; also, Radio Tuesday, 4-Man Outfield updated & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, APRIL 24. Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a book!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot  Button Top 10, Heat-on-the-brink column, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Heat eliminated. Was that Dwyane Wade's final game?: New poll on our Twitter feed. Go HERE to vote now.

G5: @PHILADELPHIA 104, HEAT 91: IT'S OVER: Original post: It has been done once before. Only once. It was 21 seasons ago, in 1997. That was the only time the Miami Heat Mustwin Dwadehave been down 3-1 in a playoff series and won three straight games to advance. It was vs. the Knicks in the second round. It was Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning vs. Patrick Ewing and G5Allan Houston. But two of those three straight wins were at Miami. This time the climb is steeper. The Heat trails Philadelphia 3-1 entering Game 5 tonight up there, and this time the three straight Miami must win to stay alive would include two in Philly -- tonight and a Game 7, sandwiched around one more in Miami if the Heat prevail tonight. This is the Heat's 20th postseason appearance in 30 franchise years, and (barring a history-making comeback) would be Miami's 10th first-round exit -- but first since 2010, the season before LeBron James' arrival. This would be the third first-round exit under Erik Spoelstra (2010, '09). There were five on Pat Riley's watch (2007, '01, '99, '98 and '96) and two under Kevin Loughery (1994, 92). Can the Heat avoid joining that dubious list of first-round exits? A better question: Do you believe in miracles? I do not believe the Heat will live to play another home game this spring. I think it ends tonight.  

Our six-pack of Heat playoff-run columns thus far: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (off Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

DerwinjamesNFL DRAFT: TOP 10 STATE-COLLEGE PROSPECTS AND ALL CANES: The NFL Draft this Thursday through Saturday finds most South Florida interest riveted on the whom the Dolphins will select -- especially with their first-round pick slotted 11th overall. (I'll have my annual mock draft out later in the week). But there is also interest in state-college players who'll be drafted, and here is the list of the top 10 prospects based on ESPN's player rankings. Only the first three players listed are judged likely to be first-round picks, with top-ranked Derwin James pictured right. No Miami Hurricanes are close to first-round status. Only one Cane (barely) makes the state top 10, but we've listed all of the other draft-eligible Canes beneath the top 10:

Player, Pos., School                           Overall   Grade

1. Derwin James, S, FSU                       7th       93

2. Mike Hughes, CB, UCF                     17th       90

3. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida                 18th       90

4. Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida        74th       78

5. Josh Sweat, DE, FSU                       81st       76

6. Duke Dawson, CB, Florida               88th       73

7. Derrick Nnadi, DT, FSU                    93rd      72

8. Deadrin Senat, DT, South Florida    104th      70

9. Jordan Akins, TE, UCF                   123rd      66

10. Chris Herndon, TE, Miami            127th      65

Other Hurricanes: DT RJ McIntosh 129th/65; RB Mark Walton 136th/62; DE Chad Thomas 148th/59; WR Braxton Berrios 192nd/51; DT Kendrick Norton 230th/44 and OG KC McDermott 260th/39.

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON AT .145: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Tuesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers      1.000   11  42   10  14    8    2-1-2      .333

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .778   21  85   14  19   14   3-1-5      .224

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .616   19  81    8  20   11   2-0-2      .247

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .470   21  76    6  11    7    0-0-3      .145

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Schedule Not Daunting, So No More ExcusesBuy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Welcome Home, D.Wade / Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 16, 2018

G2: Heat @ 76ers: Tonight or forget it. Will Miami show up?; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated). See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; also, 4-Man Outfield update (Brinson at .131) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 16. Jackie Robinson dissolved baseball's color barrier 71 years ago yesterday. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Sixers Game 1 and playoff preview, your confidence-level verdict, The List, 4-Man Outfield update & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

G2: HEAT @ SIXERS: MUST-WIN FOR MIAMI? NOT LITERALLY, BUT YES REALISTICALLY: Still no Joel Embiid for Philly, yet Heat are a 7-point underdog tonight in Game 2 of their NBA first- Miaphiround playoff series after being shellacked 130-103 in Game 1 Saturday. This is the 34th seven-game series in Miami franchise history, and the weight of Game 1 is clear. The 18 times Miami has G2won the opener, it is 15-3 on advancing. The 15 times it has lost the opener, it is 7-8 on advancing. But four of those advances from 0-1 were in the Big 3 era; today's is obviously not an especially strong Heat team, just a resourceful one with a deep bench. The onus tonight is on Erik Spoelstra to make adjustments that give his Heat a chance. That starts with better perimeter defense against the Sixers' 3's. It also depends on much better efforts and results from everybody but the one guy who played well Saturday, Kelly Olynyk. Time for Miami's "Culture" to show up in the battle with Philly's "Process." The fundamentals that Spoelstra relies on -- defense and effort -- need to arise in full tonight or Miami will limp home in an 0-2 crater.   

My Heat playoff columns: The Dolphins thought they'd retake Miami when LeBron left, but the Heat, back in the playoffs, have other ideas. Click In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust. Also, I foolishly daringly picked Miami to win in six games. For that column: The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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: Heat get clobbered in Game 1 as playoffs underway: Ouch. Oy. Miami got spanked 130-103 by the 76ers in Philly last night, with Game 2 back up there tonight/Monday. Kelly Olynyk showed up big off the bench for Miami; everybody else pretty much disappeared. It's early, but our series pick (Heat in six games) has been rushed to the emergency room. First the Eagles win the Super Bowl, then Villanova wins the NCAA Tournament, now this. Don't get greedy, Philly!

2. DOLPHINS: Amendola sounds off as draft nears: We're 10 days until the draft's first round, so before we get fully immersed in that, new Fins receiver Danny Amendola tells ESPN that his former Pats boss, Bill Belichick, is both a brilliant coach and a person who could be "an a-hole sometimes." Um, Danny, doesn't that sorta go without saying on both counts?

3. MARLINS: B.V.I. Fish ready to visit Yanks, Stanton: After closing out a home set with the Pirates on Sunday (another loss, of course), the British Virgin Islands Marlins travel to New York for Monday and Tuesday games vs. the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton. Marlins dismantler-in-chief Derek Jeter said it would be "awkward" for him to be in Yankee Stadium so he won't make the trip. What, like it isn't awkward for him to be at Marlins Park, too?

4. HURRICANES: Spring Game fails to settle QB battle: The quarterback race remains open although with Malik Rosier out front and the defensive line dominated the offensive line, if you want a capsule synopsis of Saturday's football Spring Game at Hard Rock Stadium. Other big college programs sell out their Spring Games, while UM 's drew only around 12,000 fans. If that. You know why? Because Miamians are smarter than everybody else. Bulletin: A Spring Game doesn't count. It's a glorified practice. See ya in September.

5. NHL: Panthers extinct (again) as playoffs underway: Florida finished ninth in the scrum for eight Eastern playoffs spots, but the fight for Lord Stanley's cup is on, anyway. Nashville, Tampa Bay and old-guard Boston are the betting favorites going in, but wouldn't it be fun if the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights won it all!? Already picturing a float full of waving Elvis impersonators in the victory parade.

6. SOCCER: Neat contrast in Champions League semifinals: The UEFA Champions League is down to four teams as the first leg of the semifinals looms April 24-25. In the upstart division: Liverpool vs. Roma. And in the heavyweight division: Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid. The only real Cinderella? Associazione Sportiva RomaI Giallorossi = La Lupa = La Magica. Roma!

7. GOLF: Tiger commits to U.S. Open: He was encouraged by a credible showing in this month's Masters with a 1-over tie for 32nd, including a finishing 69. Now Tiger Woods says he'll play in the 118th U.S. Open June 14-17 in New York. Tiger has won three U.S. Opens and the one way back in 2008 was his last major title. Time for another, Eldrick?

8. UM BASEBALL: Will Clemson series be needed spark?: The Canes are limping with a 15-20 record but were encouraged to take two of three on the road at No. 8-ranked Clemson over the weekend. UM will take a spark anywhere it can find one as it tries to salvage Jim Morris' swansong season.

9. NFL: Cowboys release star receiver Dez Bryant: Dallas rather abruptly cut Dez this week. Yes, and other than his age, injuries, diminishing production, huge salary and itinerant attitude issues, it was a real shock!

10. MLB: Two-way sensation Ohtani continues to wow: The Angels' Japanese star Shohei Ohtani enters Sunday play hitting .367 with three homers and a 1.191 OPS, and is 2-0 pitching with a 2.08 ERA and 18-2 on strikeouts/walks ratio. Mike Trout? Who?

Missing the HB10 cut: Quick. Somebody check on Conor McGregor. Getting worried. Been several days since he's done anything stupid ..... Dancing With The Stars announced an all-athletes lineup for its 26th season, including Adam Rippon, Josh Norman, Johnny Damon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The must-watch factor? A chance to hopefully see Tonya Harding fall on her a-- in humiliated defeat ..... PGA Tour golfer Kelly Kraft missed the cut because his tee shot hit a bird. He'd have still made the cut had more of his other shots hit birdies ..... WNBA draft was held. Details when available ..... Free-agent QB Mark Sanchez was suspended four games for performance-enhancing drugs. Dear Mark: They ain't workin'!

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON DOWN TO .131: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Early days, but Brinson is really struggling, while Yelich remains sidelined by an oblique (abdominal) issue. The latest, entering Monday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers        .984   6   26    6  10    5    2-0-1      .385

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees     .761  14  59    8  13   10   3-1-3      .220

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .703   15  66    6  19   10   2-0-2      .288

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .316   15  61    3   8    1    0-0-0      .131

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Recent: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Others: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 29, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A surprise No. 1, and see what else falls where; plus my Pegasus World Cup column, our Wondrous Weekend, Marlins reboot has a face now & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 29. The Dolfans in your life don't know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Yelich but get Brinson, Hoffman 5th (sort of) Marlin in Hall, appreciation of Brady/Patriots run, your will/want Super Bowl verdicts & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GerouxLatest column: On the $16 Million Pegasus at Gulfstream: Variety is a favorite part of my job, and leaving the comfort zone for different columns. My latest is one. Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus. Pictured is the winning jockey I write about, and the father he recently lost. Other most recent columns: The Upside Of a Fire Sale (on Lewis Brinson becoming the face of the Marlins' reboot). Appreciating Wayne Huizenga. And When Victims Seize The Power (on the Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics trial).

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:

Hot1. SOCCER: Finally! Miami MLS team becomes official: It took four years, wrangling over a stadium site, changing financial backers and machete’ing through political red tape, but David Beckham at last is set to announce today/Monday that a Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami is officially a reality. All along, of course, that’s been the goooooaaaaalllll!!!

2. MARLINS: Fish continue fire sale, deal Yelich: Now all but a minor-league team, the Marlins continued their fire sale reboot by trading Christian Yelich to Brewers. The good news? They got an elite prospect in return in CF Lewis Brinson, who played at Coral Springs High. He said he was thrilled to be a Marlin, which alone distinguishes him from the vast majority.

3. HORSE RACING: Gun Runner wins Pegasus at Gulfstream: Eleven horses including favorite and winner Gun Runner ran Saturday in Hallandale for a $16 million purse in second annual Pegasus World Cup, the globe’s richest horse race — a purse more than triple the combined payout of Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Mamas, do let your babies grow up to be jockeys. (Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus for my column from the race).

4. NFL: Pro Bowl begins countdown to Super Bowl: Pro Bowl was Sunday in Orlando, the all-star game every player wants to be chosen for but nobody really wants to play in, and few fans care about watching. Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry played as AFC won 24-23. It began the seven-day countdown to next Sunday's Big Event: TV commercials vying to see which is best in a competition unfortunately interrupted by a football game.

5. HEAT: All-Star snub slights Miami: Heat had lost four of past six before Saturday's win over Charlotte but hang onto fourth place in the conference as they embark on a four-game roadie. Miami is the first top-four Eastern Conference team in 25 years to not have a player in NBA All-Star Game. It’s one more reason we know who the team’s real star is. It’s Erik Spoelstra.

6. TENNIS: Federer, Wozniacki win Aussie titles: It was Roger Federer over Marin Cilic for the men's crown and his 20th major Sunday at the Australian Open after Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday made the year's first major her first Grand Slam title by beating Simona Halep. Those were either the tournament's four best players, or the only four to survive the searing heat.

7. NHL: Barkov reps Cats in All-Star game: With Sasha Barkov as Florida's lone player in it, the 63rd NHL All-Star Game skated Sunday evening in Tampa. It was again the 3-on-3 tournament format introduced in 2016, with teams repping the four divisions playing in semifinals to reach the main game. No, it could not be any more confusing.

8. RUNNING: Miami Marathon happened while you slept: More than 20,000 runners competed Sunday in the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon, which began at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m. You've never heard of the winners, so what's the point of saying them? Once again I meant to compete, but an utter lack of interest and ambition got in the way.

9. SENIOR BOWL: Dolphins there scouting for draft: It was North vs. South on Saturday in Mobile, AL, with Canes Braxton Berrios and Michael Badgley among participants. Dolphins were among NFL teams scouting the annual all-star game with April's NFL Draft in mind. Um, Baker Mayfield, anyone? 

10. LARRY NASSAR: USA Gymnastics doctor will die in jail: USA Gymnastics predator/doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually molesting dozens of girls and women under the guise of treatment. People who feel sorry for him will be meeting in that phone booth over there. Plenty of room left.

Missing the HB10 cut: Former Marlins president David Samson is running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days beginning Tuesday in a continuing effort to get as far from Jeffrey Loria as he possibly can ..... Canes men's basketball, 5-5 since a 10-0 start, fell at Florida State Saturday. So that return to the Top 25 continues on indefinite hold ..... The XFL, one and done in 2001, is being brought back for a 2020 startup by WWE boss Vince McMahon. But it won't be gimmicky this time. Said the man who runs pro wrestling (!) ..... If sports gambling is legalized, the NBA wants in on the profits. Or what? Refuse to play? ..... The Marlins' expanded protective netting is expected to prevent injuries. Unfortunately, it will not prevent losses ..... He won't come close to winning, but at Torrey Pines in California Tiger Woods made a PGA Tour cut for the first time since 2015 to begin his 743rd attempted comeback from back issues ..... Answer: The Packers rehired Joe Philbin as offensive coordinator. Question: Why do people get the idea Green Bay is in decline? ..... It was Celtics-Warriors Saturday in a possible NBA Finals preview, Golden State winning 109-105. Needed a Boston win to at least pretend Warriors might be fallible ..... Countdown: 12 days 'til the Winter Olympics. Curling! Skeleton!
 

WE DECLARE IT A WONDROUS WEEKEND TO BE A SPORTS FAN IN SOUTH FLORIDA!: Periodically we declare a special day or weekend to be a sports fan in South Florida, and this is 

Senior bowl Pegasus Marathon Probowl Nhl asgone. The chronology of why: Saturday we had the Senior Bowl from Mobile, AL, featuring Hurricanes WR Braxton Berrios and PK Michael Badgley. UM men's basketball played at Florida State. The $16 million Pegasus World Cup ran at Gulfstream, with Gun Runner winning. The Heat hosted and beat Charlotte. (And it was Boston-Golden State in a possible NBA Finals preview). On Sunday, the Miami Marathon got running before you awakened, at 5:45 a.m. The NFL Pro Bowl is at 3 in Orlando, including Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry. And the NHL All-Star Game is at 6 in Tampa, with Sasha Barkov repping the Florida Panthers. And that's not to mention Australian Open tennis' championship weekend.  Yes, I am fully aware that the five big events whose logos are pictured here (and maybe tennis, too) are likely of very little interest to many of you. Hey, quit being so picky! Enjoy!

Select other columns: For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final FourAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 25, 2018

On Yelich trade, bolstered state of Marlins farm system (with column); plus Hoffman becomes Marlins' 5th (sort of) Hall of Famer, an appreciation of G.O.A.T. Brady and Patriots, your 'will vs. want' Super Bowl verdicts & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 25. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast of this week's LeBatard Show. 2) The Dolfans in your life don't know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our franchise history book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl polls, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

BrinsonNOW YELICH. THE ONE UPSIDE OF JETER'S MARLINS' FIRE SALE: Derek Jeter is gutting the Marlins payroll. No doubt. No equivocating it. The latest sign: Thursday's trade of Christian Yelich to Milwaukee for four prospects. But if there is an upside to the fire sale it's that trading away high-priced talent for prospects is, naturally, bolstering the club's barren minor-league farm system. Evidence appears in Baseball America's new 2018 Top 100 MLB Prospects list. A year ago Miami had zero players on this list. Now there are four. The Yelich trade brought No. 18 overall in outfielder Lewis Brinson (pictured) and No. 75 in outfielder Monte Harrison. Brinson is Fort Lauderdale-born and played at Coral Springs High.  Click On The Upside Of a Fire Sale for my Brinson-themed latest column. Previously, No. 70, righty pitcher Sandy Alcantara was acquired in the trade that sent Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis, and No. 87, RHP Jorge Guzman, was obtained from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. The Marlins still lag a bit in the NL East based on the list, though. The Braves place eight prospects including No. 1 overall, the Phillies have five including No. 16, and the Nationals have a pair including No. 5. At the rear: the Mets, whose only ranked prospect is 94th. 

ThoffmanHOFFMAN ELECTED TO CONTINUE MARLINS TRADITION OF 'SORT OF' HALL OF FAMERS: This evening's announcement of the latest Baseball Hall of Fame Class to be voted in by BBWAA members (including myself) included four new guys: Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome swept in easily, and Trevor Hoffman made it more narrowly. Edgar Martinez, who some vote-tracking websites had as making it, narrowly missed. Also close but no: Mike Mussina, followed by steroids guys Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose support continues to climb every year. The relief ace and closer Hoffman began his career with the expansion then-Florida Marlins in 1993 as a rookie (pictured) before being traded to San Diego at midseason. He becomes the fifth player in Cooperstown to have worn a Marlins uniform, although none have entered the Hall under a Fish cap or played more than a small percentage of their overall careers in Miami. Marlins Hall of Famers (well, sort of) ranked by the percentage of their career games played with Marlins:

Hall of Famer           Miami years      Marlins share

Pudge Rodriguez         2003               6.23% (161 games of 2,583)

Andre   Dawson          1995-96           4.58% (121 games of 2,642)

Tim Raines                 2002               3.86% (98 games of 2,536)

Trevor Hoffman          1993               2.67% (28 games of 1,047)

Mike Piazza                1998               0.26% (5 games of 1,944)

Note: If you are wondering about likely future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, he'd be the "most Marlin" in Cooperstown. His Marlins share at the moment would be 32.31% (737 games of 2,281). Ichiro's Marlins share is 16.27% (432 games of 2,655).

BradygoatIN APPRECIATION OF THE BRADY/PATRIOTS RUN: It's a rite of winter every time this year in American sports: Complaining that Tom Brady and the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl. "Not again! Bor-ring!" It is driven by envy because 31 other NFL teams wish they had what New England does. But instead of scorn, the Pats deserve appreciation. What Brady and this franchise have done this century may not be seen again in this league for generations. Click on Set Aside Envy And Appreciate Greatness for my latest column.

Other most recent columns: His legacy needs a reboot, because South Florida's single most influential sports owner is too often remembered derisively. Click Appreciating Wayne Huizenga to read. (And thanks to Sports Illustrated/MMQB for the shoutout)  ///  The empowerment of the #MeToo movement was crushing Dr. Larry Nassar this week in the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, and it was awesome to see. Click When Victims Seize The Power (Thanks to Sarah Spain and others for the kind words).

POLL RESULTS: YOU THINK PATRIOTS WILL WIN SUPER BOWL, BUT WANT EAGLES: No surprises either way on this one. We asked who you think WILL win the Super Bowl, and it was 64.57 percent New England. We asked who you most WANT to win, and it was 72.90% Philadelphia. 

Select other recent columns: For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final FourAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 22, 2018

SUPER BOWL: EAGLES-PATRIOTS. Who you like? Who you want? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10: This week's new No. 1, and see what else falls where; also, rebooting Huizenga's legacy & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 22. The Dolfans in your life need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Fins franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The case for Canes going 12-0 in 2018, Kiper's mock pick for Dolphins, your will vs. want Super Bowl verdicts & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HuizengaThe most recent column platter: Huizenga, Nassar, Dolphins: Our latest column: His legacy needs a reboot, because South Florida's single most influential sports owner is too often remembered divisively. Click Appreciating Wayne Huizenga to read  ///  The empowerment of the #MeToo movement was crushing Dr. Larry Nassar this week in the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, and it was awesome to see. Click When Victims Seize The Power  ///  Looking at the AFC and NFC Championship Games and seeing why Dolphins fans might feel both renewed hope and increased frustration all at once. Click on For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final Four.

Sb18SUPER BOWL: PATRIOTS VS. EAGLES: WHO YOU LIKE? WHO YOU WANT?: New England Patriots rally Sunday to beat Jacksonville 24-20 in the AFC Championship Game. Then Philadelphia Eagles rout Minnesota 38-7 for the NFC crown. I had a solid day with my picks. Went 2-0 straight-up, calling the upset win by Philly, and 1-1 against the spread. (Click on Championship Sunday Gems for our full predix capsules). Now we prepare for a Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl in a duel of No. 1 conference seeds. And we offer up two polls here. Head vs. Heart. Think vs. Hope. Which team would you bet WILL win this Super Bowl. And which team do you most WANT to win. Vote now!

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:

Hot1. NFL: Brady hands Pats comeback win, Eagles roll: It was Jacksonville at New England and then Minnesota at Philadelphia in Sunday play-ins for the Super Bowl. Eagles were a rare home-'dog No. 1 seed, but the big story going in was Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s right hand injury imperiling the defending champs' status as heavy favorites. Well guess what? He engineered a big comeback and the Eagles rocked 'n rolled.

2. HEAT: Miami surges, Dragic makes his late 'Star' push: Surging Miami has won eight of the past 10 after Saturday's 1-point win in Charlotte and is now within a half-game of third place in East entering Monday's game at mighty Houston. But will the wave be enough to lift guard Goran Dragic onto NBA All-Star team as Heat’s lone rep? We’ll know this week as reserves and final rosters are announced. Dragic stays quiet … but deserves the nod.

3. NASSAR TRIAL: USA Gymnastics sexual abuse trial ends: Disgraced national-team doctor Larry Nassar listened last week in Michigan courtroom as dozens of women — including gold medal-winning female Olympic gymnasts — spoke of the abuse at his hands under guise of treatment. He complained to judge that hearing it was bad for his mental health. And the number of people who felt sorry for Nassar was estimated between zero and nobody.

4. PANTHERS: Cats back in action with win as club honors Huizenga: Panthers are 1-1 since coming back onto NHL ice after a week off, but still with a sizable deficit to make up in playoff race. Meantime club honored founding owner Wayne Huizenga. Year of the Rat goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck was among Huizenga-era players back in town for the ceremony. Wish he’d brought some of that ’96 mojo with him.

5. MARLINS: Home Run Sculpture going, going, gone!: In yet another sign of the new-owner makeover, the Marlins quietly decided to remove the infamous, made-fun-of and mostly hated Home Run Sculpture from Marlins Park. So, following a bunch of public-relations faux pas by the new regime including the payroll-gutting trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna, it seems Derek Jeter finally did something sort of almost popular.

6. DOLPHINS: Big-time QB campaigns for Miami to draft him: Heisman Trophy-winning Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield’s #GetMeToMiami hashtag on social media -- during an Instagram live chat with Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, a former Sooner -- seems to be a suggestion that the Dolphins draft him 11th overall this April. And I’d say it could happen, but that would seem to be giving the Dolphins way too much credit for being bold.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Slumping Canes looking for a spark: Remember how the UM football team was 10-0 and then finished 10-3? Jim Larranaga's Canes men's hoops team started 10-0 and was ranked No. 6, but has since gone 4-4 after losing to Duke and then winning at North Carolina State, and will likely drop from the Top 25 in Monday's new rankings, a team in search of a spark just past midseason.

8. TENNIS: Australian Open reaches midpoint amid searing heat: Novak Djokovic was an upset loser and Maria Sharapova's comeback suffered a lopsided loss, but the overriding story in Melbourne midway through the year's first major has been the brutal heat, conditions that Rafael Nadal called "dangerous" for players. It's pretty bad when the tennis balls start melting. If concessionaires at the tournament could find a way to sell shade they'd be rich.

9. HORSE RACING: Five days 'til second Pegasus World Cup: It isn't a Triple Crown race. In some ways it isn't even Gulfstream's biggest event; the Florida Derby still is. But in a sport whose lifeblood is betting, it's hard to top the world's richest race: 12 horses gunning for a $16 million purse in the second annual Pegasus World Cup this coming Saturday.

10. UFC: The big boys take the spotlight: It was defending champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou atop the marquee for UFC 220 in Boston Saturday night, and Miocic dominated to feather his claim as the sport's best heavyweight fighter ever. 

Missing the HB10 cut: New York Mets announced their spring training would include a circus again this year. Welcome back, Tim Tebow! ..... We're seven days from the annual Miami Marathon, in which thousands of motorists are inconvenienced by blockaded streets so a bunch of other people can run from Point A to Point B for no apparent reason ..... His official physical exam indicated that President Donald Trump weighs 239 pounds. Um, uh, sure, yeah. And I'm a jockey right at 119.

Select other recent columns: And Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 20, 2018

Rebooting Wayne Huizenga's legacy; plus Hurricanes football 2018 and a game-by-game case for a 12-0 regular season; also, our NFL Championship Sunday picks, Kiper's new mock-pick for Dolphins, your NFL Final Four verdicts & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 20. Need a late holiday gift? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Final Four polls, rarity of UM football/basketball dual poll power, new Back In My Day video & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

The week's column platter: Wayne Huizenga, Larry Nassar, Miami Dolphins: Our newest column: His legacy needs a reboot, because South Florida's single most influential sports owner is too often remembered divisively. Click Appreciating Wayne Huizenga to read  ///  The empowerment of the #MeToo movement was crushing Dr. Larry Nassar this week in the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, and it was an awesome thing to see. Click When Victims Seize The Power  ///  Looking at the AFC and NFC Championship Games and seeing why Dolphins fans might feel both renewed hope and increased frustration and impatience -- all at once. Click on For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final Four.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! OUR NFL CONFERENCE-CHAMPIONSHIPS PLAYOFF PICKS: We're down to the final four teams, and Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship Games will be play-ins for the Super Bowl. It's Jaguars at Patriots and Vikings at Eagles. We explore the matchups, lay out the storylines and predict the winners. And, yes, there will be one upset. Click on Championship Sunday Gems for our full Final Four predix capsules as the Super Bowl Tournament reaches its penultimate round.

MrichtTHE CASE FOR A 12-0 HURRICANES FOOTBALL REGULAR-SEASON IN 2018: Next season's schedule just came out, and oh does it look (mostly) soft 'n friendly for the Hurricanes! It starts brutally tough with LSU in a neutral site kickoff classic, but then doesn't really scare you again until November brings back to back roadies at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Eight of 12 opponents played in recent bowl games, yes, but most of those were sneak-ins to lousy bowls. UM finished 10-3 and ranked No. 13 in 2017. Here's a game by game synopsis on why a 12-0 regular season in '18 looks plausible:

LsuSept. 2 vs. LSU (in Arlington, Tex.) -- Tigers were 9-4 and ended ranked No. 18 after losing to Notre Dame 21-17 in Citrus Bowl. This is UM's single toughest-looking game. LSU leads all-time series 9-3 and won most recent meeting 40-3 in the 2005 Peach Bowl. But with four weaker opponents to follow, Mark Richt can put all his offseason into this game, whereas LSU faces Auburn soon after. Canes Win Likelihood (CWL): 55%

Sept. 8 vs. Savannah State -- Home opener is a waltz. Savannah State, a lower FCS-division school, was 3-8 in Mid-Eastern and only previous meeting with a Miami was a 77-7 Canes rout in 2013. Games this lopsided shouldn't even be allowed. CWL: 99.99999%.

Sept. 15 at Toledo -- Toledo was 11-3 as a Mid-American power, but shouldn't be a problem. Rockets lost 34-0 to Appalachian State in Dollar General Bowl. Miami whipped Toledo last season 52-30. CWL: 90%.   

Sept. 22 vs. FIU -- OK, keep it clean. No brawling, kids! The brief history of this backyard rivalry (Miami is 2-0; last met in 2007) and Butch Davis facing The U will make the buildup delicious. But the game figures ugly. FIU was a credible 8-5 but lost 28-3 to Temple in the Gasparilla Bowl. CWL: 85%.

Sept. 27 vs. North Carolina -- Thursday game makes it a short week of prep, it's ACC opener, and Miami only beat Tar Heels by 24-19 last season. So, despite UNC being 3-9 in '17, got to pay attention to this one. CWL: 80%

FsuOct. 6 vs. Florida State -- New Noles coach is a wild card. FSU was 7-6 after 42-13 Independence Bowl win over Southern Miss and won't stay down long. UM's 24-20 win last season to end seven-game series losing streak was huge. Now it's home. Also huge. CWL: 60%.

Oct. 13 at Virginia -- Cavaliers ended 6-7 after losing to Navy 49-7 in Military Bowl. UM handled Virginia 44-28. Even on road, ought not be a real problem. CWL: 75%

Oct. 26 at Boston College -- Tough road challenge follows a bye. Eagles were 7-6 after losing to Iowa 27-20 in Pinstripe Bowl. UM sort of owns BC, leading all-time series 24-5, but Canes only got by 41-32 in last meeting in 2012, but gap since last meeting adds element of unpredictability. CWL: 70%.

Nov. 3 vs. Duke -- Duke isn't bad. Finished 7-6 after beating Northern Illinois 36-14 in Quick Lane Bowl. But Canes lead all-time series 13-2 and have won four straight including 31-6 last season. CWL: 80%.

Nov. 10 at Georgia Tech -- Yellow Jackets were down last year, a bowl-less 5-6. Nevertheless, it's on road, Miami only leads series by 12-11, and last season's meeting was a 25-24 escape by Canes. CWL: 65%

VtNov. 17 at Virginia Tech -- The most likely loss other than LSU opener. Hokies were 9-4 and ended No. 24 after 30-21 loss to Oklahoma State in Camping World Bowl. Miami handled Va-Tech 28-10 last season, but Blacksburg has traditionally been tough venue for Canes. CWL: 55%.    

Nov. 24 vs. Pittsburgh: Panthers were a bowl-less 5-7 last season but made their year with the 24-14 home upset of then-unbeaten Miami that dealt a severe blow to UM's national-title hopes at the time. Now the game is here, and revenge should be sweet. CWL: 80%.

McglincheyKIPER'S FIRST MOCK DRAFT PICK FOR DOLPHINS IS A TACKLE. NOOOOO!!!!!: ESPN mock-draft impresario Mel Kiper emits his Mock Draft 1.0 today and, with the No. 11 overall pick, Junior has your Miami Dolphins selecting Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (pictured). Says Mel: "The Dolphins are a tough team to pick for because the roster has so many questions. What's going to happen with free agent Jarvis Landry? Are they set long-term at quarterback? Is there a No. 1 back on the team? And that's just offense. For now I'll go with McGlinchey, who is my top-ranked tackle in a solid class. There are five tackles who could go in the first round. He has played on the left and right sides and could be the immediate starter at right tackle for the Dolphins, who have Laremy Tunsil slotted in on the blindside." Says me: You remember McGlinchey, right? Yeah he was on that dominant Fighting Irish blocking front that the Canes thoroughly dominated. I say "Nooooo!!!!!" to Kiper's pick because, with Tunsil on the left and top-graded Fins tackle Ja'Wauan James on the right, tackle should be one position that is buttoned-down solid. Click Are the Fins Feeling Bold? for my recent Dolphins draft-related column.  

POLL RESULTS: YOU PREDICT PATS WILL WIN SUPER BOWL, BUT WANT JAGS OR VIKES: We offered two different NFL Final Four polls. In the first we asked who you think WILL win the Super Bowl among the last teams standing, and it was Patriots 66.91 percent, Vikings 19.12%, Eagles 8.09% and Jaguars 5.88%. In the second we asked who you most WANT to win it all, and the results were far different. It was Jaguars 36.84%, Vikings 36.09% and Eagles and Patriots both 13.53%.

Select other recent columns: And Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: Will Somebody Please Rise Up. Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaCanes-Irish: Game For The Ages. Appreciate Perfection -- PeriodThe Godfather SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 17, 2018

Final Four: Who you think WILL win Super Bowl, and who you WANT to win. 2 polls. Last day to vote!; plus new 'Back In My Day' video (Vaping!), my NFL Final Four column from Dolphins view & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17. Hope y'all had a reflective Martin Luther King Jr. Day. His life's mission and fight for racial equality is a cause as vital as ever. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, our NFL Divisional-Round playoff results, MLK Day & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: NFL Final Four through a Dolphins lens: Why Dolfans might look at the AFC and NFC Championship Game participants and feel both renewed hope and increased frustration and impatience -- all at once. Click on For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final Four to read.

Jaxne Phimin AfcnfcNFL FINAL FOUR: WHO WILL WIN SUPER BOWL, AND WHO YOU HOPE DOES: Very interesting Final Four, or at least three-quarters interesting, as I note in my new column linked directly above. Now I invite yout o predict which team still standing will raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and which team you hope does. One poll is head; who you'd bet on. The other poll is heart; who you're rooting for. Teams are listed alphabetically. Vote now!

Aptop25THE RARITY OF CANES FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL DUAL POLL POWER: It has happened only three times -- UM football finishing a season ranked in the Associated Press final Top 25 as Canes men's hoops was ongoing with a season that also ended in the Top 25. And all three instances were within a four-year period. It happened in 1998-99 (football No. 20, basketball No. 10); in 1999-00 (FB15, B23); and in 2001-02 (FB1, B21). It could happen a fourth time this season, but Jim Larranaga's guys will have to work to hold up their end. After football finished with a No. 13 ranking, the basketball team this week was ranked No. 25. But that was before Monday night's home loss to Duke.

NEWEST 'BACK IN MY DAY' VIDEO: VAPING!: This is from Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. It seemed to go over very well. Except, perhaps, with manufacturers of electronic cigarettes and owners of vape shops:

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 15, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A No. 1 that hasn't been there for awhile, and what else falls where; plus how we did on our NFL playoff picks, latest troika of columns & more

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

Mlk1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 15. It  is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in America and I wold dare say that, these days, his life's mission and fight for racial equality is a a cause as vital as ever, and worth supporting and carrying forward against insidious resistance. 2) Whoa, Nellie! R.I.P., Keith Jackson, gone at 89. 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Divisional-Round playoff picks, The List: Dolphins 1st-round picks ranked top to bottom, your verdict on Fins moving past Tannehill, Alabama's recent run in perspective & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our week's troika of latest columns: Call him Sasha. Call him Barky. Call him the future, the best hope for leading the Panthers back to relevance; click And Barkov Shall Lead Them to read. On the surreal reappearance of Tonya Harding; click No Way to Escape Her Shame. And on the Dolphins moving beyond Ryan Tannehill; click Are the Fins Feeling Bold?

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:

Hot1. HEAT: Sizzlin' Heat win 7th in a row!: Dion Waiters may be done for the year, but without him Miami has won a season-high seven games in a row after Sunday's home win over Milwaukee. As a five-game road trip begins today at Chicago the Heat has climbed to fourth in the East -- and closing in on third-place Cleveland. Heat is now 55-28 the last half of last season and first half of this one. Um, can we start the playoffs now?
 
2. NFL: It's Patriots-Jaguars, Eagles-Vikings for AFC, NFC crowns: Two wild games Sunday -- Jags over Steelers 45-42 and Vikes over Saints 29-24 on a miracle finish -- completed the Divisional Round playoffs and set New-England-Jacksonville and Philadelphia-Minnesota as the two games that will be play-ins for the Super Bowl. So, yes, three of the last four QB standing are Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles. Meantime the Dolphins' contribution to the NFL conversation the past week was disgraced former assistant Chris Foerster admitting he'd done cocaine a week straight at the time of that leaked video. Line coach, indeed!
 
3. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men host Duke in big ACC test: No. 18 Miami hosts Mike Krzyzewski's No. 7 Duke Blue Devils Monday night in a game that will help shape the Atlantic Coast Conference race as March Madness draws ever nearer. Duke is 15-2 and Miami 13-3, but both already have two losses in ACC play. Duke once owned this series but Miami is 5-3 vs. the Diablos Azul ever since Jim Larranaga took over as coach in 2011-12 -- including two straight UM wins in the Gables.
 
4. PANTHERS: Week to celebrate young, old as Cats chase playoffs: Fans are thrilled that rising star and team centerpiece Aleksander "Sasha" Barkov will rep Florida in the NHL All-Star Game later this month. Meantime as play resumes this coming Friday the Panthers will honor Wayne Huizenga, 80, the franchise's founding owner. One man is the main reason the team is here. The man is the main reason there is hope for its future.
 
5. TENNIS: Australian Open opens with Venus 1st major upset: Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Romania's Simona Halep are the No. 1 men's and women's seeds as the year's first tennis Grand Slam event got underway in Melbourne. Halep, 26, is most known for having breast-reduction surgery but is yet to win her first major. So it's "Win Or Bust"? Meanwhile Venus Williams was upset on Day 1 as American women went 0-for-8.
 
6. GOLF: PGA Tour event in midst of missile-attack false alarm: The low-watt Sony Open was going on in Honolulu Saturday when when the (erroneous) news broke a ballistic missile was headed to Hawaii. Tournament leader Tom Hoge never got the text. He was entranced watching college basketball in his hotel room. 
 
7. BASEBALL: Strong get stronger as Astros get Cole: The reigning World Series champ Houston Astros added Pirates ace Gerrit Cole in a five-player trade Saturday. If all the other teams just conceded the 2018 crown to the Astros, imagine how much would be save in travel expenses?
 

8. BROADCASTING: Icon Keith Jackson dies at 89: The man who brought homespun charm to college football for decades has lapsed to memory. Farewell, Mr. Jackson, and R.I.P. I'm sure it won't but wouldn't it be perfect if his tombstone read: Whoa, Nellie!

9. OLYMPICS: New 'I, Tonya' movie resurrects 1994 skating scandal: Tonya Harding's goons clubbed rival Nancy  Kerrigan's knee 24 years ago, and now Harding is doing the promotional tour for the new movie that seeks to reboot her in a sympathetic way. You can't outrun your shame, sad Tonya.

10. MARLINS: Spring training now one month away: With the decimated Fish opening spring training Feb. 14, Starlin Castro has become the latest player to want out as new owner Derek Jeter severely cuts the player payroll. If only Marlins could demand to be traded.

Missing the HB10 cut: LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball were held scoreless in their second pro game in Lithuania. Ain't it great! ..... The Cavaliers slump has LeBron James beside himself. Ain't it even greater! ..... They're still partying in Tuscaloosa. Wait. They're always partying in Tuscaloosa ..... U.S. Army is contesting the NHL Las Vegas team's Golden Knights nickname. If Army paratroopers start dropping on the arena, then be worried ..... Headline: 'UFC is headed to Russia for first time ever'. My reaction: UM, can they stay there, please? ..... Dolphins hosted the 7th annual Dade vs. Broward football high-school All-Star Game, won by Dade. Many of the competing players will emulate their Dolphins heroes by also going on to pro careers that rarely ever end up in the playoffs.

FripixRESULTS ON OUR NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: We missed both of Sunday's games straight-up (thanks Marcus Williams!), but had better fortune against the spread. Had Jags with the points at Pittsburgh, and Vikes by five was a push. For the round we were 1-3 straight-up and 2-1-1 ATS. On Saturday, we owned the Patriots' 35-14 win, calling it 31-13, but saw the favored Falcons taking care of business and blew that one. I thought the two AFC games were pretty simple, clear-cut picks, but the two NFC games I wrestled with. Divisional-Round Gems for all our second-round pick as the Super Bowl Tournament continues now with the Final Four -- King Sport-style.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 08, 2018

Alabama-Georgia in CFP final: Who WILL win and who do you WANT to win? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your verdict on biggest Miami sports story of '17, my NFL playoff pick-results, new Sunday column (Heat) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 8. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest-Miami-sports-story-of-year poll, your biggest-national-story verdict, NFL playoff picks & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday column: Heat still out front. A state-of on Miami's four pro teams: The Heat are out front largely because the Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins all are in a transitional flux, at a crossroads, looking for a way. Click Will Somebody Please Rise Up for my latest column on the state of South Florida Big Four pro teams as 2018 unfurls.

FripixNFL Wild-Card Weekend pick results: We nailed the Falcons' upset win: We hit a bulls-eye on the Falcons' big upset of the Rams. Overall we went 3-1 straight-up and 2-2 against the spread in the first round, including Panthers-with-points vs. Saints. Click Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all our first-round picks as the Super Bowl Tournament began.

AlagacfpCFP CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: WHO WILL WIN, AND WHO YOU WANT TO WIN: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs tonight in Atlanta in the College Football Playoff championship game. Two polls here. First asks which team you think WILL win -- who you'd place a bet on straight-up. The second poll asks you you WANT to win -- where your rotting interest lies. Take a dip in both polls now!

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. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's Alabama-Georgia in Monday title game: Alabama is a small favorite in College Football Playoff's all-SEC championship, despite it being held in Atlanta, a home game for Georgia. Crimson Tide are in CFP final for third straight year but, for a change, Nick Saban might not be the least popular man in the stadium, because President Donald Trump plans to attend.
 
2. NFL: Four pretenders out, eight teams left as Super Bowl Tournament begins: Sayonara, Chiefs, Bills, Panthers and Rams. Nice barely knowin' ya. NFL playoffs are down to eight. Meantime ESPN reported a rift among Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady and suggested the empire may be crumbling. Um, the No. 1-seeded Pats, off a playoff bye, are Super Bowl favorites. Again. Oh to have such problems!

3. HEAT: Miami climbing in East standings: Heat has won four straight with Sunday's home win over Utah and risen to fifth in East, now only 1/2 game from fourth place. A now-reasonable goal: Host a first-round playoff series.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Hurricanes win to open three-game Litmus test: Canes' men's team started 10-0 and highly ranked then slumped. What are they trying to mimic the UM football team? (Ouch. Too soon?) But Jim Larranaga's guys are back on track at 13-2 after Sunday's big win over No. 24 Florida State. Two more ranked foes await in No. 25 Clemson and then home vs. No. 2 Duke.
 
5. DOLPHINS: Problem solved! Fins hire new offensive coordinator: The disappointing 6-10 Dolphins and coach Adam Gase demoted offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen after averaging only 17.6 points per game to rank 28th in the NFL. They replaced him with Dowell Loggains, whom the Bears just dismissed after Chicago averaged 16.5 points, ranking 29th. Well alrighty then!
 
6. MARLINS: Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' now underway: Derek Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' is his plan to reboot the now-decimated Marlins. It sees a spike in player payroll starting in 2021. Meantime, the carnivorous wolverine has disemboweled Marlins fans and turned their optimism to bloody entrails.

7. PANTHERS: Cats can't capitalize on streak: Sunday's loss made it three L's in a row after a five-game winning streak for Florida, which still lags seven points off playoff pace right at midseason. Check Lost & Found. The map to the postseason seems to have been  misplaced.

8. JON GRUDEN: He's back on the sideline with Raiders: Gruden is transmogrifying from the ESPN football booth back to Chucky, the sideline maniac, taking over the Oakland (soon Las Vegas) Raiders on a 10-year deal. So Redskins coach Jay is now not even the NFL's best Gruden.

9. WINTER OLYMPICS: U.S. names women's figure skating team: USA named its three-woman figure skating team for the upcoming South Korea Games. Somewhere, Dick Button is beside himself with excitement. 

10. RICKY WILLIAMS: Ex-Fin plans smoke-filled Super Bowl party: Former Dolphins running back and confirmed pothead Ricky Williams is hosting a "cannabis-friendly" Super Bowl party in Miami. The star of the event? Snacks! Mmm, lots of snacks to feed those munchies!

Missing the HB10 cut: Australian Open starts next week, and both Andry Murray (injury) and Serena Williams (baby) are out. Although Serena could play with the infant on her back in a papoose and still win the women's side ..... Paul Pierce says the Celtics' tribute to Isaiah Thomas should not be same night as his jersey retirement. Petty much? ..... ESPN fired NFL analysts Eric Davis and Donovan McNabb over a sexual abuse claim. Rough year for the Worldwide Leader ..... The Greek Freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo) leads the Akron Anomaly (LeBron James) in early NBA all-star voting ..... The Bills sent 1,440 chicken wings to the Bengals as a thank-your for beating the Ravens to assure Buffalo made the playoffs? Shouldn't Miami at least get some celery and blue cheese? ..... NFL ratings were down 9.7 percent this season. In an unrelated story, it is estimated 9.7% of players took part in protests during the anthem ..... UM baseball began preseason practice an the final season of Jim Morris. Omaha or bust? Heck, NCAA Regional or bust! ..... USA Today speculated the Dolphins as a possible landing spot for Tom Brady should the Patriots dynasty come apart. Hmm. Is wishing and hoping for a QB who'll be 41 next season not its own form of sadness?

ToumPOLL RESULT: TURNOVER CHAIN-FUELED CANES FOOTBALL RESURGENCE THE NO. 1 BIGGEST MIAMI SPORTS STORY OF 2017: We asked what was the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017, gave you 18 choices and allowed you six votes. More than 2,500 votes poured in. A six-vote ballot means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent and you'd multiply the percent total times six for any idea how often that story was included on ballots. That's IF everyone used all six votes. The fact the No. 1-voted story was off-the-grid-high suggests an organized effort by Canes fans who voted only for that story. In effect, UM fans hijacked the poll. But that's OK. All good. I should note that prior to the sharp spike we detected, UM's resurgence still was running No. 1, although by a much narrower margin over the Stanton/Jeter story. Your results on the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017:

  1. Turnover Chain-fueled Hurricanes achieve 1st 10-win season, 1st Orange Bowl in 14 years--31.32%
  2. Giancarlo Stanton traded after 59-HR year as new owner Derek Jeter begins Marlins reboot--12.71%
  3. Jason Taylor, Dolphins icon, inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame--8.60%
  4. Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc with start of football season--7.09%
  5. Dolphins O-line coach Chris Foerster resigns after video shows him snorting white powder--6.67%
  6. Edwin Pope, Miami Herald Sports legend, dies--5.39%
  7. Jay Cutler signed by Dolphins after Ryan Tannehill's season-erasing injury--5.23%
  8. Hurricanes baseball sees end of 44-year streak of consecutive NCAA playoff appearances--4.96%
  9. Miami hosts MLB All-Star Game, Home Run Derby for first time--4.42%
  10. Nick Buoniconti, Jim Kiick reveal football related brain-trauma woes to Sports Illustrated--2.60%
The rest: 11. UM men's basketball implicated in FBI probe of recruiting corruption--2.44%; 12. Heat misses playoffs despite 30-11 second half, fails to land free-agent target Gordon Hayward--2.40%; 13. Soccer's El Clasico, Barcelona-Real Madrid, plays Miami--1.78%; 14. Miami Open tennis sets move from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium--1.67%; 15. Homestead hosts Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s last race in NASCAR finale--1.05%; 16. Ferdie Pacheco, The Fight Doctor, dies--0.70%; 17. Felo Ramirez, baseball broadcasting icon, dies--0.54%; 18. Gulfstream hosts first Pegasus World Cup, richest-ever horse race--0.43%.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 06, 2018

Last day to vote! What was Miami/South Florida's biggest sports story of 2017? Annual poll. Our 18 finalists, you pick top 6. Vote now; plus your biggest-national-story verdict, our NFL playoff picks & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 6. A happy birthday to Dolphins icon Don Shula, who turned 88 Thursday. Here's to many more! 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual national-sports-story-of-the year poll, final SOPY standings, latest Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Mae Riback & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2017?We had it easy in 2016 with three stories that clearly stood out above the rest, although two made us sad. You voted the Miami17tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest story of the year, followed by the Dolphins ending their eight-year playoff drought and then Dwyane Wade leaving the Heat. Nothing else was close. But is anything as clear-cut for for 2017? We'll see. And you'll decide. Previously we asked you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (with results below). Now we invite you to select the 2017 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from a randomly presented top 18 of my choosing. You may vote for your top six (6). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. OK. Ready? Vote!

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

Deciphering a 6-vote poll: A six-vote poll means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent if every participant voted the max six times. Any vote above 16.67 means some voted only for that story. Multiply the percents above times six for an idea how often that story is being included on the consensus top-six ballot.

NFL player protests voted biggest 2017 national story: We asked what was the biggest national sports story of 2017, gave you The Associated Press Top 10 in jumbled order, and allowed you to vote for your top three. That means the highest vote total possible would be 33.3 percent if every participant used all three votes. Triple the percentages below for an idea how often that story was included in the consensus of top threes. Your results:

1. NFL player protests over social justice draws critics led by President Trump--20.14

2. Astros win 1st World Series to lift city devastated by Hurricane Harvey--19.72

3. Patriots, in year of Tom Brady suspension, stage record rally to win Super Bowl--14.31

The rest: U.S., Italy fail to qualify for men's World Cup--12.21%; Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather--9.03%; Clemson rally beats Alabama for college football title--8.06%; College basketball investigated by FBI over recruiting corruption--5.69%; Golden State led by Kevin Durant wins NBA Finals--4.17%; USA Gymnastics rocked by sex-abuse scandal involving team doctor--3.75%; Russia banned from upcoming Winter Olympics over doping--2.92%.

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

Twitter @gregcote