December 09, 2016

LeBron, D-Wade or Bosh: Which of Heat's ex-Big 3 is having biggest laugh over Miami's current struggles? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Dolphins-Cardinals, other NFL Week 14 pix and King Sport 3Q Awards; also, your Canes-WVU bowl verdict & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9. R.I.P., John Glenn, 95, American astronaut and statesman. 2) Click on Blockbuster Video for the latest Back In My Day segment from the LeBatard Show. 3) The Miami Herald's new Dolphins book on the club's 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. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes-WVU bowl matchup with poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 13 results, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Impact of Wade's departure, other select recent columns: Missing Dwyane Wade, the latest, on how Heat and its fans miss D-Wade even more than imagined. Plus Tannehill's Defining December, on imperative that Dolphins' QB be late-season closer and deliver Miami to playoffs. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Canes In the History Book.

Big3laughWHY DENY IT? THE BIG 3 MUST BE HAVING A BIG LAUGH OVER HEAT'S STRUGGLES: The slumping, injury-wracked semi-Heat next play LeBron James in Cleveland on Friday and Dwyane Wade in Chicago Saturday, with Miami 7-15 and one of the worst teams in the NBA at the moment. You know LeBron wants to stick it to his former team because of the frostiness with Pat Riley. You know D-Wade must be feeling some satisfaction to know how much Miami misses him after essentially letting him go -- that's only human nature. Let's take it one step further: How can Chris Bosh not be smiling a little (or a lot) that the Heat is struggling after Miami would not clear him to play due to health concerns, effectively ending his career? They'd all deny it publicly, but how can all of the Big 3, for various reasons, not be taking pleasure in the down season that has enveloped Miami? (I wonder if LeBron's Cavs will be playing the "water-bottle challenge" courtside late in Friday's game? Late in Wednesday's 126-94 rout of the Knicks, LeBron, Kyrie Irving and other Cavs were seen killing time by flipping a water bottle and trying to have it land upright). Do you agree with my premise that LeBron, Wade and Bosh, for different reasons, all are feeling satisfaction over the Heat's struggles? Take a dip in our poll and let us know:

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 14: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-CARDINALS, REST OF NFL: The full launch of our Week 14 comes after a big start last night as we correctly called Chiefs covering vs. Raiders (click Thursday Gem) to move to 25 games above .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Click on Week 14 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Cardinals, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other game. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the King Sport Third-Quarter Awards, our selection to this point for seven honors including NFL MVP and Dolphins MVP. Click on King Sport 3Qs to read.

Poll result: Liking (not loving) the Hurricanes-West Virginia bowl matchup: We asked what best expressed your interest in the Miami Hurricanes facing the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, and a plurality of 47.0 percent said "very pleased." But another 38.8% said they would have preferred to play the Florida Gators, and 14.2% said they would have preferred to play Mark Richt's former Georgia Bulldogs.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 03, 2016

Miami Hurricanes football: Who is team's 2016 MVP? 5 players, 2 coaches make poll. You pick top 3. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Champ Saturday in college football, Dolphins-Ravens and other NFL Week 13 picks, your Cooperstown verdict & more

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

Dancingsign1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3. Caution, motorists: You have entered an area in which you are likely to encounter Fred Astaire-style dancers in the street. 2) Reminder: The Miami Herald's new book on the 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): Your Cooperstown ballot with poll, six Canes in final SOPY Top 30, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 12 results, LeBatard video from 1989 game show & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

D-Wade beats LeBron. Twice: In a game that had to hurt the heart of Heat fans, Dwyane Wade's Bulls beat LeBron James' Cavaliers, 111-105, last night, though LeBron outscored Wade 27-24. Wade also won his World Series bet with James, who had to dress in a Cubs uniform before the game.

Tannehill's defining December, select other recent columns: Tannehill's Defining December, the new one, on the imperative that the Dolphins' QB be a late-season closer and deliver Miami to the playoffs. And Week 13 Gems, our latest NFL picks. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. There's Hope For Us All.

UmmvpWHO WAS MIAMI HURRICANES' 2016 TEAM MVP IN FOOTBALL? (THAT'S MOST VALUABLE PERSON, NOT JUST PLAYER): Our seven-man ballot includes five players but also two coaches, and we invite you to vote for your top three (3). Nobody said life was easy. From the consensus of votes we'll name a team MVP -- Most Valuable Person -- with the regular-season done at 8-4 as the Canes and their fans await a bowl invitation. The poll is alphabetical. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

CHAMP SATURDAY IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS CFP WAITS: Championship Saturday in college football: the crescendo that decides conference championships, sets the bowl schedule and determines which select four teams will make the College Football Playoff, which meets Sunday to set its two semifinal matchups. The Miami Hurricanes are likely to end up bowling in Jacksonville or Orlando vs. an SEC opponent, possibly Florida or Georgia. More important today, nationally: the top of the CFP ranking and how the final four will shake out. What's happening with the teams that have a chance for the final four:

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) beat No. 15 Florida, 54-16, SEC Championship: Nick Saban's Tide was a silly 24-point favorite and showed why.

No. 2 Ohio State (11-1) did not play: Buckeyes fine staying right where they're at to avoid Alabama in the semis.

No. 3 Clemson (12-1) beat No. 23 Virginia Tech, 42-35, ACC Championship: Might Clemson fall to No. 4?

No. 4 Washington (12-1) beat No. 8 Colorado, 41-10, Pac-12 Championship: Huskies stated emphatically that they belong.

No. 5 Michigan (10-2) did not play: After Washington's big win, Wolverines' only realistic prayer was a loss by Clemson.

No. 7 Penn State (11-2) beat No. 6 Wisconsin, 38-31, Big Ten Championship: Winner needed Clemson loss and luck to somehow climb into top four.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 13: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAVENS, REST OF NFL: We launch our Week 13 on the heel of an OK/solid 10-6 mark straight-up last week and 9- Fripix6-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began the new week with mixed results last night on our Vikings-over-Cowboys upset call. Dallas won, but we did have Minny with the points to put us a big 24 games above .500 ATS for the year. Click on Week 13 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Ravens, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other game. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the imperative that Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill be a December closer this time and deliver Miami to the playoff promised land. Click on Tannehill's Defining December to read.

Poll result: And your 2017 baseball Hall of Famers are...: We invited you to vote for the top five of the 13 finalists I presented, and your five "inductees" were: Barry Bonds 14.5 percent, Roger Clemens 13.0%, Pudge Rodriguez 10.9%, Manny Ramirez 9.1% and Jeff Bagwell 8.5%. Close were Curt Schilling 8.4%, Tim Raines 7.9%, Vladimir Guerrero 7.5% and Trevor Hoffman 7.2%. Far back were Mike Mussina 4.6%, Edgar Martinez 3.9%, Jorge Posada 3.8% and Magglio Ordonez 0.9%. Vote totals should be quintupled for an idea of the total percentage of ballots that included that player. By that standard, Bonds is the only player who would have come close by your votes to meeting the 75% standard for actual induction into Cooperstown by the BBWAA. I'm a voter, and will publish my picks in the blog closer to when they are due later this month.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 26, 2016

NFL Week 12 picks for Dolphins-49ers, others; plus annual Thanksgiving holiday video from me to you, your Shaq/retired number verdict; also, Fidel Castro finally dies & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Hope y'all had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving! 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): Retiring Shaq's number with poll, Jurgen Klinsmann fired, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 11 results, SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Fidel Castro dead at 90, Cuban Miami celebrates: Former Cuban president Fidel Castro died late last night at age 90, the news so many thousands in South Florida had long awaited, and are celebrating today. How the rest of America felt when the U.S. killed terrorist Osama bin Laden, this is how Cuban Miami feels about the demise of the Castro dictator, with many fervently believing he should burn in hell. My animus is not so personal, but, suffice to say, we'll attach no "R.I.P." here to this man's name. 

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 12: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-49ERS, REST OF NFL: We rebounded like Hassan Whiteside last week, shedding our slump with a 12-2 week straight-up and 9-4-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began our Week 12 solidly, 2-1 both ways on Thanksgiving Day games; click Thursday Gems for those picks. For all of our latest selections click on Week 12 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-49ers, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with an analysis of the Dolphins' playoff chances. We have the math on why Miami must won four of its last six games and finish 10-6 to expect to get in for the first time since 2008. Click on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins to read. 

Other select recent columns: Football Town Strikes Back, on Dolphins' and Canes' concurrent resurgence. Also: Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. 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.

Pilgrim16A SPECIAL THANKSGIVING VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: Everybody's busy this time of year, but I managed to get Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Heat center Hassan Whiteside, defrocked baseball Hall of Fame voter Dan LeBatard and president-elect Donald Trump to join me for this special holiday video. Hope you enjoy it. And thank you, on a serious note, to all of our longtime readers and listeners, near and far, for allowing me to  be a small part of your lives. I appreciate the support and will keep working to earn it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Click HERE to watch the special video starring the five of us...

Poll result: Mixed feelings, but ultimate thumbs-down on Heat retiring Shaq's number: Heat announced they're retiring Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32. We asked what you thought, and it was 33.5 percent "no way!", 27.1% "close call but nope," 24.7% "close call but yeah," and 14.8% "yes definitely!" Combined, the nays beat the yays, 60.6% to 39.4%. Sorry, Big Fella.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 04, 2016

Our NFL Week 9 picks for Dolphins-Jets, top game, upset special; plus King Sport Halftime Awards, why Harvard University has never stood taller, The Luddite's Heat MVP & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4. 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): Cubs win World Series with history of Game 7s, Wade and LeBron's bet, your Dolphins/London verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few recent columns: World Series, NFL, Jose Fernandez, Heat, Dolphins: There's Hope For Us All (on Cubs' World Series win) and A Needed Slap In Face (on NFL's declining TV ratings), 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).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 9: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-JETS, REST OF NFL: Time to reclaim our mojo in Week 9 of our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, one of our best, after last week's stumble. We were 6-6-1 overall and a miserable 3-9-1 against the spread last week, our worst showing of the season by far. And yet we are now a big 22 games over .500 ATS for the year (70-48-3) after a good start to our week last night. We correctly had Falcons covering a 4-point line at Tampa Bay; click Thursday Gem for that pick. For all our latest selections click on Week 9 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with our midseason trophy choices in seven categories including league and Dolphins MVP. Click on King Sport Halftime Awards to read.

WHY HARVARD UNIVERSITY HAS NEVER STOOD TALLER: The word "Harvard" always has connoted top-tier academia, but today we applaud not its brainpower but its Harvardmoral stand. The Harvard men's soccer team, leading the Ivy League, was just suspended immediately for the rest of its season by the university, all remaining game forfeited, all postseason hopes erased. Why? Because that men's team was found to have continued a disgusting practice in which the male players offer explicit, lewd, sexually charged "scouting reports" on Harvard's women's team. Is this 2016? Or 1956? Is this the highest level of academia? Or middle school? For better or ill, this proves the men of Harvard, ostensibly smart, can be as misogynistic, boorish, juvenile and crude as anybody else. Note that the Harvard crest includes the word "veritas." In Roman myth, Veritas was the goddess of truth. So here's some truth: the offending Harvard men's soccer players are a bunch of idiots! Click here for the background story, and here for the women's team's response. Good for Harvard for its actions, although, considering there were indications of this happening as far back as 2012, you wonder if this little cancer should have been addressed sooner. There should be mutual respect between men and women athletes. Wait. Better yet: How's this for a concept? There should be mutual respect between men and women.

LudditeINTRODUCING: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS": Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue 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 updates every five games. Miami's fifth game is tonight. So look for The Luddite's debut Heat MVP standings here in the blog Saturday morning.

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

October 25, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 90.9%; plus Fins beat Buffalo 28-25 behind Ajayi's 214 rushing yards. Our column from game; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Cubs vs. Indians & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 24. Fivethirtyeight.com says Hillary Clinton has an 86.2 percent chance to beat Donald Trump. ESPN's Football Power Index said Sunday's biggest favorite was Bengals over Browns at 81.7%. 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 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes fall at Virginia Tech with CSM poll, Panthers reign in ESPN Ultimate Standings, NFL Week 7 picks, other state Collball & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Cubs-Indians World Series: Cubs seek their first World Series title since 1908 and Indians their first since 1948 -- the two longest championship droughts among the 122 teams in the major Big Four sports. Click on The Perfect World Series for my column.

Dolphins get physical as Ajayi leads wayClick on The 200-Yard Man for my column from Sunday's bg Dolphins home win over Buffalo. Find our Fins-Bills in-game blog immediately below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 90.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 90.9 percent overall approval --the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 28-25 victory over the visiting Buffalo Bills Dsmputting Miami's season record at 3-4. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10:30 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)

Next poll: Nov. 6 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets, after bye week)

DSM poll analysis: A rating just above 90 percent is of course really high for a team at 3-4, but it reflects two huge wins in a row and the manner in which they happened. It also reflects, I think, the desperation of Dolfans to feel good about their team. 

G7: DOLPHINS 28, BUFFALO 25: MIAMI ENTERS BYE WEEK ON A ROLL: Postgame thoughts: Jay Ajayi had 212 yards rushing after 204 last week -- only the fourth RB in NFL history with consecutive 200s. That was the story of the day for Miami in this hard-fought 28-25 win. But so was this: Resilience. The Dolphins rallied from a 17-6 deficit by doing what they have not done very well or often since last making the playoffs in 2008. They won a division game. They won a home game. And they followed a victory with a victory. That is what good teams do. And the Miami Dolphins have looked like just that the past two weeks. A good team. At 3-4 now, the Fins have given themselves a chance to save this season, and the right to think the playoffs are still possible ..... 4Q: BUF within 28-23 on Bush 1Y scoring run with 14 seconds to play ... MIA up 28-17 with 2:24 left after Stills 66Y scoring pass from Tannehill. Dolphins once trailed 17-6. What a comeback! ... MIA up 21-17 with 3:56 left on Williams 12Y scoring run. Ajayi now has 212 yards rushing after 204 last week. Is fourth in NFL history with consecutive 200s, after O.J. Simpson in 1973 and '76, Earl Campbell in 1980, and Dolphin Ricky Williams in 2002 ... Ajayi busts 53Y run giving him 195 for day, after 204 last week. But series ends in punt. Story of day ... Suh sack forces punt, but that punt pins Miami at its own 1-yard line. Um, 99-yard drive, anyone? ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-14 on impressive 75-yard drive finished by Ajayi's 4Y scoring run in last minute of quarter, and Tannehill's 2-point conversion pass to Landry ..... McCoy aggravates hamstring injury, won't return, a break for MIA ... BUF 17-6 on 67-yard scoring bomb from Taylor to Goodwin. Maxwell (who played so well vs. Antonio Brown a week earlier) was beaten in coverage. Game slipping from Miami unless the Fins offense wakes up big, and fast ... DE Jason Jones sack forces Buffalo punt ... Tannehill slightly underthrew a deep ball to Stills but still looked catchable. Woulda/shoulda been at least a 40-yard gain ... Miami forces Bills punt to open second half ..... Halftime thoughts: Feels like Miami should be ahead, not trailing 10-6. Fins lead almost 2-1 in time of possession, and in yards 194-110, but have settled on a pair of field goals after 7- and 8-minute drives. Miami's defense has been solid and Jay Ajayi (12-99) has been great. But Ryan Tannehill (10-17, 86 yards) has been subpar, and mistakes -- special-teams inefficiency, holding penalties and an out of control Jarvis Landry -- have hurt. Winnable game, for sure ..... 2Q: MIA within 10-6 on 33Y Franks FG but settle again. Had 1st-and-10 from 11 but a holding penalty really hurt ... BUF 10-3 on Taylor 10Y scoring run. First time today Miami has trailed ..... 1Q: A 26-yard completion to Landry wiped out by his taunting penalty. Dumb, dumb ... BUF 3-3 on 29Y FG by ex-Fin Carpenter. Miami special teams gives up 30-yard Bills punt return to set up the score ... Wake sack forces Bills punt ... MIA 3-0 on Franks 36Y FG. Settled, though, after impressive 14-play drive petered out ... Dolphins looking good in their throwback, dark-aqua uniforms; end zones also with a throwback diamond-shape look Miami oughta go back to these unis! ..... Original post: The three reasons why today is yuuuuuge for Miami: 1)  Since the Dolphins last made the playoffs in 2008, the team is 17-26 (.395) in division games, which ranks 26th of 32 teams and last in the AFC East. 2) Miami's overall home record since then is 27-31 (.466), which ranks 25th overall and last in the division. 3) The Dolphins in that time are 16- Bufmia32 (.333) in games immediately following a win, which is 30th in the NFL, last in the A-East. Conclusion? This explains a playoff drought now in its eighth year. The Dolphins do not TCB (Take Care of Business) in fundamental ways. Don't do well in division games. Don't win at home. And don't build and sustain momentum. Now, today -- in a home game vs. a division foe following a big win -- Miami gets another chance. The challenge is high. Buffalo may be the hottest team in the NFL, a sentence rarely written or said. The 4-2 Bills have won four games in a row by a combined score of 124-53. Bullies Rex Ryan and Richie Incognito arrive preening. And the Buffs are a 3-point betting favorite to continue their streak and bring the Fins back to earth after last week's exhilarating home win vs. Pittsburgh. Blowhard Rex has won his past four trips to the 305 (Jets included), but I'm hunching that run hits a wall on Sunday. No, I’m not entirely buying what we saw of Miami in that 30-15 beatdown of the Steelers. The 2-4 Fins still must prove that was no mirage. But a healthy offensive line, the Jay Ajayi we saw last week and a sack-free Ryan Tannehill makes a huge difference. (Tanny, by the way, has thrown for 300-plus yards in five consecutive division games.) Mostly, I pin this upset on the Buffs swaggering in overconfident, hot as they are and having swept Miami last season by a combined 74-31. Buffalo is pretty good; it isn’t that good. The Bills’ big edge would be its top-ranked ground game vs. what has been a shaky Miami run-D, but LeSean McCoy (hamstring) will be less than himself if he plays at all, which also factors in this pick. Buffs are plus-8 on turnovers to Fins’ minus-5, so a clean game by Miami will be the key. By the way, Buffalo has lost the past four times it came here with a winning record. Make it five. My pick: Upset! Dolphins, 24-20.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami gets physical, rides Ajayi past Buffalo in huge division test: Since last making the playoffs in 2008 the Dolphins ranked 25th in the NFL in home record (.466), 26th in division record (.395) and 30th in record following a win (.333). That's why Sunday's win was triply big -- at home, vs. Buffalo, following a big win. Jay Ajayi's second straight 200-yard rushing game helped.

2. HEAT: Opening Week as team enters new era: NBA tips off Tuesday night and Heat open their 29th season Wednesday in Orlando, then Friday at home vs. Charlotte. No Big 3. No Big 2. No Wade. No Bosh. No earthly idea how good this rebooted Miami team might be as a transitional season begins new era.

3. HURRICANES: Season slipping after big loss in Blacksburg: Wasn't it about a minute ago UM was 4-0 and ranked No. 10? Three straight conference losses later including Thursday's 37-16 spanking at Virginia Tech have the Canes reeling, with a trip to South Bend looming Saturday. Oh, and how was that honeymoon, Mark Richt? Because it's over.

4. BASEBALL: At last, Cubs-Indians World Series on deck: The Cleveland Indians were waiting as the Cubs and Dodgers decided the NL pennant Saturday night. And so there is a god: It'll be Cubbies in World Series Game 1 Tuesday night in search of team's first championship since 1908.

5. PANTHERS: Jagr scores 750th career goal: Cats are five games into this young NHL season as they face a four-game road trip, but headline so far is Jaromir Jagr's 750th goal. You know how they say you're judged by the company you keep? Jagr trails only two people in career goals. Their names: Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Alabama protects its No. 1 ranking: Just over a week from the first College Football Playoff ranking on Nov. 1, No. 2 Ohio State fell to Penn State but Alabama protected its top spot Saturday by beating Texas A&M. You might not like Nick Saban. But you can't beat him, either.

7. NASCAR: Contenders field cuts to eight: NASCAR cut down to its final eight contenders for the Sprint Cup with Sunday's race at Talladega. All that matters now: the cut to one driver on Nov. 20 at Homestead.

8. NFL: League' last remaining unbeaten falls: Minnesota Vikings were NFL's lone unbeaten team entering Week 7. No more. Early celebrating this year for the '72 Dolphins.

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Sneakin' up. Almost here...: In less than three weeks, on Nov. 11, most college basketball teams including the Hurricanes open their regular season. Coincidentally, on that same date, we'll still be wondering if Trump will ever concede.

10. WNBA: Sparks edge Lynx for crown, sort of: Los Angeles Sparks beat Minnesota Lynx 77-76 for the WNBA title, at least in part because of a late officiating error the league acknowledged. So Trump was right. The whole thing was rigged!

Missing the HB10 cut: A young woman wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt kneeled while singing the national anthem prior to a Heat preseason game in Miami. I wonder what Francis Scott Key would make of all this. Tried to reach him, but he's been dead for 173 years ..... Mets prospect Tim Tebow finally got a hit in the Arizona Fall League, after starting 0-for-12. "Back in my day, kneeling meant you were praying," noted Tebow ..... America is slightly less violent today. UFC announced it has cut several fighters from its roster with an eye on reducing its schedule in 2017 ..... Jose Fernandez's mother, in a letter to the Miami Herald, thanked fans for their outpouring of grief and love upon his tragic death. R.I.P., Jose.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 11, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.2%; plus Dolphins lose 30-17, now 1-4. My game column; also, Canes dismiss WR, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), quantifying Fins ground-game woes & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 10. Hurricanes today dismissed freshman WR Sam Bruce from the team for multiple rules violations. 2) Click on Week 5 Gems for all of yesterday's (and tonight's) NFL predix. 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami loses heartbreaker to FSU with CSM poll, Collball Week 6, your World Series verdict with related List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Clearly, Donald Trump won last night's town-hall debate if the criteria were impoliteness, rudeness, insults, disrespect and interrupting." --Greg Cote

Our Dolphins-Titans game column: Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance.

Our Canes-Noles game column: Close to Back, But Not Back. Also, see results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this one. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 3.2%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a 3.2 percent overall approval rating -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-17 loss vs. the visiting Tennessee Titans putting DsmMiami's season record at 1-4. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 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)

Next poll: Oct. 16 (following game vs. Pittsburgh)

G5: TENNESSEE 30, DOLPHINS 17: TERRIBLE SHOWING BY AWFUL FINS: Postgame thoughts:  Awfulness all over the field for Miami, the final score flattering the home team's effort, or lack of. The offense was mostly terrible. The defense was worse. Jakeem Grant, for his punt-return TD, and the punter, were the team's MVPs. The Fins gave up three TD passes by Marcus TenmiaMariota. The run defense was some of the worst I have ever seen. The offensive line could not protect Tannehill, who also held onto the ball too long. Terrible day by Dolphins, who now are 1-4 and should be 0-5. Click HERE for my column from the stadium on today's loss. ..... 4Q: TEN up 30-17 (blocked extra point) after Mariota 4-yard TD toss to ex-Dolphin Rishard Matthews. Fins headed to embarrassing home loss, barring a comeback that doesn't seem likely ..... 3Q: Tannehill 50-yard pass to Parker gives Miami first down at TEN 11, but Fins settle for 24-yard FG to move within 24-17 ... Miami turnover turned into three points and a 24-14 TEN lead on 40-yard FG ... Tannehill intercepted. Not a great throw, but Devante Parker needs to show a better fight for that ball ..... Halftime thoughts: Sad, sad. Dolphins playing even worse than score suggests. With one TD on a punt return and the other set up by a screen pass that turned into a 58-yard gain, Miami has had very little offense. And the defense has been horrid. Miami has allowed 166 yards rushing and a 7.2 average, and allowed a 121.7 passer rating and two TDs by Mariota. Fins in some ways lucky to be within one score. Scattered booing escorts Fins from field ..... 2Q: Titans up 21-14 on 20-yard TD pass to Delanie Walker, 47 seconds before halftime. ... MIA evens it 14-14 on Jay Ajayi 4-yard scoring run. Credit though to Damien Williams, who turned a screen pass into a 58-yard gain ... TEN back up 14-7 on 5-yard scoring catch by Old Cane Andre Johnson, who beat Byron Maxwell in end zone ... Rookie Jakeem Grant returns punt an electrifying 74 yards along right sideline to tie game, 7-7. Weaved thiourgh four missed tackles. What a play! Highlight reel/SportsCenter stuff. Dolphins needed the wakeup call ..... 1Q: Marcus Mariota 5-yard TD run has Titans up 7-0 with 23 seconds left in quarter, the big play a 29-yard strike to Delanie Walker. I told y'all (see below) that they'd better watch out for Walker! ... Fins open with punt, too. Tannehill already sacked, under duress ... Titans begin game with ball but punt ..... Pregame: Very sparse crowd 30 minutes from kickoff. What a contrast from last night's electric, sold-out UM-FSU crowd ... Fins announce O-linemen Branden Albert and Laremy Tunsil both will be out injured, two of seven starters missing today's game. Tunsil hurt his ankle in pregame warmups. No, he did not trip over a bong ..... Original post: In an ideal universe, a home game against the Tennessee Titans would be a check-marked Dolphins victory, one you don't doubt, just like a home game against the Cleveland Browns would be. But in the Dolphins universe we have come to live in, every game is losable, no opponent may be taken lightly, and that's why Sunday afternoon at The Rock figures as pretty even between this pair of slogging 1-3 teams. That Miami is favored by a nominal 3 1/2 points verifies as much. As South Florida prepared for Hurricane Matthew this week the Dolphins prepared to open a four-game homestand it must use to save a flagging season. Fins need to come out of this at least 4-4 at midseason to give themselves a fighting playoff chance -- and today had better be a victory you can count on. Dolphins have not put a very good "product on the field," in coach Adam Gase's words this week, and, frankly, should be 0-4 but for the stunning charity of the Browns' inept field goal kicker. And Tennessee isn't terrible, by the way. Their three losses are to teams that currently are a combined 10-2. Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota both have five interceptions, so it's pretty likely whichever mistake-prone QB plays the cleanest game may walk off a winner. Mariota has been solid away in his young career, with 12 TDs and a 98.5 rating in eight career road starts. Miami must also beware Delanie Walker. Tight ends give this D problems, and Walker is a good one. Further, Titans run the ball solidly, and stopping the run has not been a Dolphins strength despite a defensive line that, on paper, seems suited to the task. Miami has had extra time to prepare after playing last Thursday night, only increasing the onus today on Gase to show fans a sharper "product on the field." Word to Gase: Check out The List at end of this blogpost. Then commit to the damned run! My pick: Dolphins, 24-20.

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM falls to nemesis Florida State on block extra point: No. 10 Miami hosted No. 23 FSU Saturday night hoping to end a six-game series losing streak, but fell 20-19 when a tying extra-point kick was blocked in the closing minutes. The now 4-1 Canes wanted to move a step closer to being "back," but took a step back instead.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lose badly to open critical four-game homestand: Miami is now 1-4 after Sunday's 30-17 loss to Tennessee, the first of four straight at home that will give life to this flagging season or effectively see it die. Bad start. Score flattered the Fins, who were equally bad on offense and defense. Last word to Adam Gase: "We can't get out of our own way right now."

3. PANTHERS: Huberdeau injury rocks Cats 3 days from opener: Fake games are done, now NHL regular season opens Thursday night as Florida hosts New Jersey. The Panthers, fortified by an offseason of signing young, core players to extended contracts, are hopeful but now have lost LW Jonathan Huberdeau to a severe ankle/Achilles injury after earlier losing C Nick Bjugstad (broken hand) for first month of season. Rocky start for those high hopes.

4. BASEBALL: Miami still mourns, but sport moves on with postseason: Marlins fans still reel from the recent tragic death of Jose Fernandez, but for baseball the playoffs are in full swing with the Toronto Blue Jays the first to advance from the four divisional round series. The big story nationally: Cubs up 2 games to none, their fans aching to party like it's 1908 but fearing disappointment yet again.

5. HEAT: Post-Wade/post-Bosh era gradually underway: New-era Heat host Brooklyn Tuesday in third of eight preseason games as the Oct. 26 start of NBA regular season drew nearer. The Big 3 era came together so quickly; alas, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh now both gone, too, it has seemed to disintegrate nearly as fast.

6. HURRICANE MATTHEW: Weather wreaks havoc in sports: Matthew pretty much left Miami-Dade and Broward alone (thanks, Matt), but caused havoc elsewhere in Florida sports, including cancellation of Saturday's highly anticipated LSU-Florida game in Gainesville, and the postponement, to Sunday, of FAU's home game vs. Charlotte.

7. TOM BRADY: Star's return from suspension tops NFL headlines: Angry and motivated by what he considered to be an unjustified four-game Deflategate suspension, Patriots QB Tom Brady returned to action Sunday in Cleveland with 406 yards and three TDs in a win. As if the winless Browns didn't have enough problems?

8.TIGER WOODS: Finally, after more than a year, he's baa-aack!: Tiger Woods committed to play in the PGA Tour's 2016-17 season opener, the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif., beginning this Thursday. After battling back issues and other ailments, it will be Woods' first official Tour round in more than a year -- 417 days to be exact, but who's counting.

9. MARIA SHARAPOVA: Suspension reduced, star will return in spring: An appeals court reduced Sharapova's two-year doping suspension to 15 months, making her eligible to return to WTA Tour in April. That's good news for women's tennis. But is the Russian blond, at 29, still good enough to win her first major since 2014?

10. WNBA: Minnesota, Los Angeles seek 20th league crown: WNBA's 20th best-of-five championship Finals begins Sunday with Minnesota Lynx hosting -- and losing to -- the Los Angeles Sparks. Defending champ Lynx have won three of past titles, while Sparks seek first since 2002. Thank you, Wikipedia!

Missing the HB10 cut: Famed broadcaster Joe Buck has revealed he once was addicted to hair plugs. "What's wrong with that!?" said a spokesman for the American Association of Hair-Plug Manufacturers ..... Barry Bonds, fired as Marlins hitting coach after one season, thanked the club for what he called "one of the most rewarding experiences of my baseball career." Which I think officially lowers the bar on rewarding experiences ..... Dwyane Wade said it is "not possible" for his pal LeBron James to surpass Michael Jordan's legacy, only to tie it. Which I guess almost passes as controversy, if you're that desperate ..... Blue Jays fan Ken Pagan, 41, was cited for throwing a beer at Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim during a playoff game. The official charge? Felonious waste of a perfectly good beer ..... Answer: NASCAR is down to its 12 finalists for the Sprint Cup championship. Question: Who are the only 12 people in America eager to visit Homestead, Fla? ..... Headline: 'Bisping denies Henderson to retain UFC title.' Note to self: Google who the hell "Bisping" is ..... A poll by Public Policy Polling found 62 percent of those surveyed thought the No. 2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes could beat the winless Cleveland Browns. An unrelated poll found that 62 percent of people are idiots ..... Miami Hurricanes men's basketball season opens in a month, on Nov. 11. Canes lost a ton and aren' supposed to be very good. Season starts in a month, anyway.

THE LIST: LOWEST DOLPHINS RUSHING OUTPUTS: Could this be the lowest-output Dolphins ground game in franchise history? It is on pace to be. Miami is averaging 72.4 yards rushing per game (362 yards in five games, through Sunday) fives games into this season. How that compares with the five lowest per-game rushing yardage averages in the Dolphins' first 50 seasons:

Avg.        Season        Leading rusher

72.40      2016           Jay Ajayi, 117 (through five games)

75.31      1988           Lorenzo Hampton, 414

83.13      1989           Sammie Smith, 659

83.69      2004           Sammy Morris, 523

83.94      1997           Karim Abdul-Jabbar, 892

84.50      1991           Mark Higgs, 905

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 24, 2016

Chris Bosh, with latest setback, should retire from Heat and NBA: my new column. Agree or not? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Week 3 picks, has-interest-in-Heat-decreased poll, why Stanley Cup odds still are against Panthers, your Tebow verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24. It's autumn! Are we feeling autumnal? 2) Click here for ESPN Radio podcast including my latest Back In My Day segment. It kicks in around the 41-minute mark. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tim Tebow launches baseball career with poll, Bosh says Heat docs wrote him off, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Demanding Racial Justice (the latest, on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it)Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CHRIS BOSH SHOULD RETIRE FROM HEAT, NBA: MY NEW COLUMN: Click on Time is Right For Bosh to Retire to read my latest column in full. What led me to write it: Four days before the start of Heat training camp in the Bahamas, the Miami Herald reports today that complications involving continued clotting have derailed or at least indefinitely delayed Bosh's comeback hopes. The issue is not considered life-threatening but requires medication at odds with the rigors of the NBA. Bosh's past two Miami seasons have been substantially ruined by blood clot issues, and it now seems a near-certainly a third season in a row will be majorly affected. The Heat, just after noon today, released a statement saying, "Chris has now taken his pre-season physical. The Miami Heat regret that it remains unable to clear Chris to return to basketball activities, and there is no timetable for his return." Ominous. Update: Bosh, saying "little setbacks happen," says he will continue working toward an NBA comeback in Miami.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY WEEK 3: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We continued the strong start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 12-4 overall and 10-6 against the spread last week. Click on Week 3 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Browns, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other matchup. Got off to another good start last night (see Thursday Gem) by accurately calling the Patriots' win over Houston -- one that found New England a rare home underdog, albeit by only 1 point. We also have an accompanying NFL column that leads with an analysis of the impact of state-school college players in the NFL, including a position breakdown of every current Miami Hurricane suiting up on Sundays. Click on We Got Some Canes Over Here to read the column plus NFL notes.

HeatPOST-WADE, WHAT IS YOUR INTEREST IN THE HEAT COMPARED TO BEFORE?: Incredibly, for the first time since 2002, the Miami Heat are about to open a preseason training camp without Dwyane Wade on the roster, after seeing him sign with the Chicago Bulls in free agency. The five-day camp runs this coming Tuesday through Saturday in Nassau, Bahamas. First LeBron James departs, now Wade. And with Chris Bosh still in limbo because of his medical situation, the Heat has gone from the BIg 3 to the BIg 2 to the BIg 1 ... maybe. And the team that reached four straight recent NBA Finals and won two of them is now judged as an also-ran that could struggle just to make the playoffs. I'm curious how that has impacted fans' interest in the coming season, post-Wade. Take a dip in our poll and let us know, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

STANLEY CUP? WHY ODDS STILL ARE AGAINST BIG-DREAMING PANTHERS: The Florida Panthers hit the ice to begin training camp today/Friday in Sunrise (Cats' first exhibition game is Tuesday and the season opens Oct. 13), and this may be the first season in franchise history in which winning the Stanley Cup is on minds and tips of tongues in a very Panthersnewlogoreal way. After winning its division last season, despite an unexpected first-round playoff ouster, this team believes it is really good. Florida finished with 103 standings points last year (tied for fifth in the NHL) and had a productive offseason of extending contracts on its youthful core of players. The future looks bright. But how bright will the present be? Odds remain against the Cats getting to the Stanley Cup Finals this season, and here's the reason: the best teams in the league will be roadblocks to get out of the Eastern Conference. Via Bovada, Florida's betting over/under on regular season points is 98.5, tied for eighth best. That's pretty good. Playoff good. But: the top three teams overall all are East rivals in Washington (107.5), Tampa Bay (106.5) and Pittsburgh (103.5). Before the puck ever drops on a meaningful game, the Panthers are trailing in the public perception that sets and moves betting lines. This is what happens when a non-traditional power thinks it's really good and ready to make a big move. The proving must come before the believing does. (That new logo is growing on me, by the way).

Poll result: He's polarizing, but a majority like Tebow: We asked, as he embarks on an attempted baseball career, what is your overall impression or feeling about Tim Tebow. And it was 

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 16, 2016

FIU moving on past AD Garcia in '18; plus NFL Week 2 predix, where Tannehill stands; also, are Canes fans worried about Appalachian State? (with poll), upcoming Dolphins book, your Bosh verdict, Brian Wilson review & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Dolphins opener and danger in 'moral victories,' Hot Button Top 10, updated SOPY rankings & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Timing Was Perfect, Not Wrong (on four Dolphins' 9/11 kneel-down). Week 1 Gems (our NFL picks) and Fearful Forecast (divisional and Super Bowl predictions). Awesome Vs. Awful (on UM's resounding season-opening victory). Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

If the presidential race were a football game: The fivethirtyeight.com presidential forecast as of yesterday had Hillary Clinton with a 63.6 percent chance of beating Donald Trump. The ESPN NFL Week 2 Football Power Index had Bills beating the Jets last night at 63.2%. Does that mean the Jets just elected Trump?

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY WEEK 2: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: Bounced to a nice start on our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 10-6 overall and a nifty 11-5
Fripixagainst the spread last week. Click on Week 2 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Patriots, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week, Dog of the Week and every other matchup. Got off to a good start last night by accurately calling the Jets' win at Buffalo in a pick 'em game; click Thursday Gem to read. We also have an accompanying NFL column that leads with an analysis of all the quarterbacks who've been rookie starters -- Miami's Ryan Tannehill included -- since 2008, when began an ongoing nine-year streak of at least one per season, 19 in all. We rank Tannehill only 11th of the 17 entering this season, when two more joined the club. Click on Where Tannehill Falls to read the column plus NFL notes.

FIU SCHEDULES GARCIA'S EXIT AS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: FIU president Mark Rosenberg today announced that executive director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia -- that's fancyspeak for Pgarciaathletic director -- would stay on through to July 31, 2018, and then depart. Said Garcia (pictured): "Leading FIU athletics has been one of my most rewarding and exciting experiences. However, after months of personal reflection, I believe it is important to explore new professional challenges." Garcia has led FIU sports since 2006, but not without controversy that left him unpopular with many. Today's announcement strikes us as a compromise: Officially a contract extension, but also a way to move past Garcia in the near future. Perhaps the decision was mutual, although it seems clear FIU was ready to move on, and rightly so.

UmappstIS A TRAP DOOR WAITING FOR CANES IN BOONE, N.C?: If walloping Florida A&M and then auto-piloting past Florida Atlantic didn't tell us much about the Miami Hurricanes, this Saturday should, in UM's first road test at Appalachian State. This isn't a major opponent; the Mountaineers are a Sun Belt team. But they're good. They nearly upset No. 9 Tennessee in the opener and are mere 3 1/2-point underdogs to No. 25-ranked Miami. Canes opened as a 5-point pick before betting dough started pouring in for App State. This is expected to be a sonic, school-record crowd and would be a seismic, season-making upset for the home team. I'm curious how concerned, fi at all, Hurricanes fan are approaching this game. Hence, the poll. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Finsat50DOLPHINS BOOK COMING: The Miami Herald is publishing Fins at 50, a book on the Dolphins' first half century, due out next week and available Sept. 20. Click on Fins at 50 for the book's Amazon page to see more or to pre-order now, at $24.95 or $14.99 on Kindle. It is  -- Shameless Plug Alert! -- the perfect holiday gift and must-have for all the Dolfans on your list! Runs the gamut of Dolphins history, from the expansion years to the Perfect Season to the Marino Era and right up to the hiring of Adam Gase and the current team. I had a lot to do with the book including an introductory essay and get author credit, but it's a collaborative effort, featuring hundreds of historic photographs as well as contributions from other Herald writers through the years including the legendary Edwin Pope. Soon, I'll be at Books & Books in Coral Gables discussing the book. Stay tuned for updates on that here or by following me on my Twitter.

NFL PICKS 'N FANTASY: DOUBLE THUMBS UP FOR WEEK 1: NFL picks: Had a solid Week 1 overall, going a decent 10-6 straight-up and a robust 11-5 against the spread. Bull's-eyed outright upsets by Broncos and Saints, nailed underdog Jets, Patriots, Lions and Jaguars with the points, and even had a rare exact-score for Green Bay's 27-23 win. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos rocked to 1-0 in the LeBatard Show league by beating Guillermo, 146.6-139.5. Got 31.4 points from Drew Brees -- expected. But while some of our big guns underperformed, we got the gift of 32.2 points from Willie Snead and 27.8 from Theo Riddick. Go 'Bos!

Poll result: Most think Bosh will be in Heat's opening night starting lineup: We asked for your best guess on that and it was 62.0 percent yes to 38.0 percent no.

ON THE BRIAN WILSON SHOW: Saw legendary Brian Wilson and his band Wednesday night at the Hard Rock, where the audience was surprisingly full and buoyant. He played about Bwilson1 hour 45 minutes and it was terrific. It was not a Beach Boys show per se, although it was hard to tell it wasn't, save for the rather pleasant absence of Mike Love in a Hawaiian shirt. Wilson was joiined by fellow original Beach Boy Al Jardine as well as longtime member Blondie Chaplin in a 10-piece band that was tighter than my belt when  I leave an all-you-can eat buffet. Wilson is 74 now, a bit unsteady on his feet and not daring a lot of high notes. He also is somewhat stiff and oddly peculiar as a frontman, more than once advising the standing, swaying crowd, "Please be seated." But you take him for what he is: a musical genius, and a survivor. Decades of drug abuse and mental health issues, the deaths of two brothers and bandmates, the acrimony with Love -- yet here he is, still performing. The show marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Pet Sounds album, which he played in its entirety in the middle. The show lagged there if all you were looking for was radio hits, but this was an audience that ate it all up. I have seen legendary artists so far past their prime in concert it was tough to watch (Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis), but Wilson remains inspiring to see still doing it. Great show.

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

Twitter @gregcote