January 17, 2017

NFL: 4 teams left, 4 Super Bowl matchups possible. Which would you most want to watch? New poll. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Final Four through Dolphins/Tannehill prism, Radio Tuesday, the wedding crasher & more

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

Wedding1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 17. Honoring the memory of civil rights giant Martin Luther King on MLK Day yesterday. He'd be 87 had he not been killed by a sniper on April 4, 1968 at age 39. 2) Still can't believe my older son Christopher is a married man! Congrats again to Chris and his beautiful bride Christie on their wedding Saturday in Fort Lauderdale. So happy for them. Pictured: Myself alongside a wedding crasher later identified as Dan LeBatard. 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL divisional-round picks and poll, Hot Button Top  10, your UM/Braun verdict, The List, Bitter Mickey/MNF video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, airing locally on 790 The Ticket from 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m., and nationally on ESPN Radio from 10-1. National show also simulcasts on TV on ESPNU. Or is it ESPN 2 now, I can never remember.

NFL's Final Four through a Dolphins prism: Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, Canton-bound and having great seasons. Matt Ryan, having an MVP year. Ben Roethlisberger, dynamic gunslinger as always. These are the NFL's Final Four quarterbacks. It invites a Dolfan to (again) wonder if Ryan Tannehill is good enough, or close enough to being great. That's my new column. Click on Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? to read.

Select other recent columns: When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

AfcnfcNFL FINAL FOUR: WHICH SUPER BOWL MATCHUP WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO WATCH?: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game and New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC title will funnel into an intriguing Super Bowl matchup no matter what it is. Of the four possible matchups, any one of them suggests an entertaining, high-scoring game. But you can only prefer one. Only one can be the game you'd most want to watch. So. Which is it? Take a dip in our poll.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); plus NFL Divisional-Round playoff picks and the perfect Super Bowl (with poll; vote now!); also, your UM/Braun verdict, The List, Bitter Mickey (video) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 16. Congratulations to my son Christopher on his wedding to Christie! So happy for them. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Dolphins lose coordinator, UM/Braun poll, Heat-Golden State, Saban loses & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Select recent columns: When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, off Sunday's eliminating loss, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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

Hotbutton1. NFL: Dolphins out, but hunt for Super Bowl continues: The Dolphins were quickly eliminated from the playoffs in the first round in Pittsburgh last week, but the NFL decided to go on with its postseason anyway and this weekend pared from eight surviving teams down to a final four. It'll be Packers at Falcons and Steelers at Patriots on Championship  Sunday, which is better than Super Bowl Sunday -- but without the parties.

2. HEAT: Homestand awaits for reeling, miserable Heat: Miami is 11-30 with 10 losses in its past 11 games, and now begins a four-game homestand on Tuesday. And now here is your official Heat midseason report in one word: Depressing!

3. PANTHERS: Finally, Cats showing signs of life at midseason: Florida has won three of its past four games and drawn to within one point of eighth place in the Eastern Conference -- playoff pace -- entering a four-game roadie. Stanley Cup dream still far off, but progress being seen.

4. TENNIS: Serena seeks history in Australian Open: The year's first tennis major, the Australian Open, begins on Sunday in Melbourne with Palm Beach's Serena Williams chasing her women's-record 23rd major title. It's becoming less a question than a statement: She's the G.O.A.T.

5. MOTORSPORTS: Marlins Park readies for Race Of Champions: Can you picture a major auto race inside a baseball stadium? Me, neither. But top drivers from NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One and other circuits will compete against each other here next weekend. Vroom!

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Clemson, Saban haters still celebrating: Six days after Clemson's 35-31 defeat of Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game, it's still a tie between who's happier: Tigers fans, or Nick Saban haters.

7. DOLPHINS: Fins lose defensive coordinator to Denver: Vance Joseph left for the Broncos' head-coaching job, replaced in Miami with the promotion of linebackers coach Matt Burke. Given Fins' 29th ranking in most yards allowed and 18th in most points given up, tell me again why Joseph leaving is bad?

8. MLB: Cooperstown announces latest HOF class Wednesday: As many as five may get in. Based on vote-tracking, Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell are locks and Pudge Rodriguez is likely. Maybes are Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman. The short-agains notably include Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. (But they're getting closer).

9. UM BASKETBALL: Big challenges for Canes men, women: Things getting interesting for Hurricanes hoops. UM men, 12-4, play at No. 7 Duke in five days. Canes' No. 14-ranked women are now 14-4 after 63-59 loss at No. 9 Louisville on Sunday. 

10. NBA: Pacers-Nuggets play in London: Nuggets beat the Pacers 140-112 Thursday night in London -- the fifth straight year the NAB has played a regular season game in the United Kingdom. So, the NFL's obsession with London apparently is catching, and the spread of the virus may be unstoppable. 

Missing the HB10 cut: The San Diego Chargers are leaving for Los Angeles. Seldom has the nickname "Bolts" been more fitting ..... Rams made Sean McVay, 30, the youngest head coach in NFL history. He's paid his dues. They were just a very small amount ..... Mavs owner Mark Cuban supports putting an NBA team in Mexico. Donald Trump vows to expedite his wall to prevent it ..... Ex-FIU coach Mario Cristobal, the Alabama O-line coach, has become co-offensive coordinator at Oregon. Who think that's a better job? Yeah, me neither.

Fripix DivisionalPLAYOFFS: DIVISIONAL-ROUND WEEKEND: OUR PICKS FOR NFL'S CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS: Update: It'll be Steelers at Patriots and Packers at Falcons in the AFC and NFC title games next Sunday ..... Original post: Four teams including the Dolphins have been bounced as pretenders. King Sport is down to its final eight playoff teams, and only four will survive this weekend. Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season, and 2-2 as the postseason began last week. Click on Divisional-Round Gems for our playoff picks for the weekend's conference semifinals. I see an outright upset in one of the four games. (I wish I could tell you it was the Patriots, Dolfans, but it ain't). We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today delves into possible Super Bowl matchups. Of all the combinations possible, two rise above the rest -- and one above them all. A Super Bowl to Save the Season to read.

Poll results: Divided views, but most (barely) OK with Braun at UM banquet: We asked what best reflects how you feel about PEDs-convicted Ryan Braun speaking at Hurricanes' First Pitch baseball banquet next month, and it was 42.5 percent "very good" and 36.6% "not good." Another 4.6% were undecided. The remaining 16.3% didn't care.

THE LIST: NFL'S FINAL EIGHT: The eight teams in this weekend's divisional-round playoffs, ranked in order of most all-time NFL championships won, along with all-time postseason records:

Team                                Titles (Last)    All-time postseason

Green Bay Packers                13 (2010)        .604 (32-21)     

Pittsburgh Steelers                 6 (2008)        .596 (34-23)

Dallas Cowboys                      5 (1995)        .567 (34-26)

New England Patriots             4 (2014)        .604 (29-19)

Kansas City Chiefs                  1 (1969)        .360 (9-16)

Seattle Seahawks                   1 (2013)        .517 (15-14)  

Atlanta Falcons                      0                  .368 (7-12)

Houston Texans                      0                  .400 (2-3)

MICKEY AUDITIONS FOR MNF BOOTH: This was a bit we did from this week's LeBatard Show. Hope you enjoy!:

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.2% (season final); plus Fins out of playoffs in 30-12 loss at Pittsburgh with my game column, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 9. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect celebrate-they're-back-in-the-playoffs gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend predictions, Jose Fernandez death voted biggest Miami sports story of 2016 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

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 Our Dolphins-Steelers game column from Pittsburgh: Click on When Playoffs Become the Norm Again to read. And find our in-game blog and other postgame thoughts directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: SEASON/FINAL: 76.2%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-last -- Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday''s 30-12 DsmAFC wild-card playoff loss at Pittsburgh eliminating Miami following a 10-6 regular season and first postseason appearance in eight years. Reflecting that accomplishment, this is the highest final DSM reading since 2008. 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. Because this was the season-ending poll, I suggested special emphasis be given to the season as a whole. 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)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

G12: 34.8% (following 38-6 loss at Baltimore)

G13: 93.2% (following 26-23 victory vs. Arizona)

G14: 98.0% (following 34-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G15: 98.3% (following 34-31 OT victory at Buffalo)

G16: 72.6% (following 35-14 loss vs. New England)

Playoffs/Final: 76.2% (following 30-12 loss at Pittsburgh)

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

MY DOLPHINS-STEELERS SUNDAY PREVIEW COLUMN: Click MASSIVE CHALLENGE  /  NFL Wild-Card Weekend predictions: Click Wild-Card Gems  /  Ranking playoff teams, year-end awards: Click Playoffs And Hardware.

Dolphins playoffs, other select recent columns: It Isn't About Tannehill, how Fins have a chance in Pittsburgh with Moore if everything else goes right. There's A Longer Drought to End Now, on Dolphins preparing for first playoff game in eight years. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

MiapitPLAYOFF: PITTSBURGH 30, DOLPHINS 12: POSTSEASON DROUGHT ENDED TODAY FOR MIAMI ... BUT SO DID SEASON: Postgame thoughts: Watch for our game column from Pittsburgh online by early evening. For now, a good season for Miami ended badly today in Pittsburgh withj this 30-12 loss. Miami's defense got crushed early in giving up three long scoring drives for a fast 20-3 hole, and Fins could never recover. Moore's three turnovers really hurt, especially a lost fumble at the Pittsburgh 8 when Miami trailed 20-6 and had a chance to be withing 20-13 at halftime. A season of progress for the franchise, but an ending that verified how much of a gap remains between the Dolphins and better teams ..... 4Q: Howard intercepts Roethlisberger, begging the question, "Why was Ben still in the game?" ... Fins onside kick fails ... MIA now down 30-12 after first TD of day, 4-yard Moore to Williams pass, followed by failed 2-point pass ... Ajayi leaves game shaken up but seems OK. Tough, quiet game for him: 16 carries, 33 yards ..... 3Q: Fins turn it over on downs with :02 left in quarter ... PIT 30-6 now late in quarter after Bell 8-yard scoring run. Call it. Dolphins are done ... Dolphins continue to kill themselves. Moore's interception, his third turnover, has Steelers threatening again ... PIT expands lead to 23-6 on 34-yard FG ... That's twice in a row Moore fumbles on sacks have cost Miami points. Dolphins having chances to get back in this game but keep squandering them ..... Halftime thoughts: Three dominant drives have been enough for Pittsburgh in a 20-6 half. Roethlisberger's 188 yards passing, Bell's 99 rushing and Brown's 125 receiving have owned the Dolphins defense. And yet Miami, with the ball to start the second half, is hardly out of it. Fins had a wonderful chasnce late to make it 20-13 and seize momentum before Moore's sack/fumble loss at Steelers 8 in final moments. A crater of a hole Miami has dug itself, but I sense a chance, a bit of hope ..... 2Q: Parker 37-yard catch makes it 1st and goal at PIT 8 but play gioes for naught as Moore is sacked, loses fumble ... Fins' Thomas intercepts Roethlisberger. PIT was on edge of FG range so play may have saved three points ... Big interference penalty on MIA's Howard, then Mitchell drops an interception ... MIA within 20-6 on Franks 47Y FG. Dirty, penalized hit by PIT's Dupree knocks Moore from game during series, but he's back in after missing only one play. Tough young man ... Grant fumbles Miami kickoff return but Fins keep it ... Bell 1-yard TD run has PIT up 20-3 after missed extra point kick. Bell's 26-yard scoring run had been overturned, with ball marked at 1 ... MIA defense gave up 213 yards, 162 through air, in first quarter ..... 1Q: Seeing some really bad non-tackling by Fins so far ... MIA on board at 14-3 with 38-yard Franks FG. Stills 36-yard catch on 3rd down led the drive ... Absolute nightmare start for Miami. Pit 14-0 now on Brown 62-yard scoring pass. Steelers have 175 yards on 11 plays so far ..... PIT quick 7-0 lead when Brown turns screen pass into 50-yard scoring play down left sideline. Great hesitation and acceleration by Brown and exactly what underdog Fins didn't need: an early deficit ..... Pregame: Dolphins in aqua pants, white jerseys today ...  Coming to you from freezing Pittsburgh, where the temp is hovering around 10 degrees but the wind-chill factor supposedly makes it feel 2-below. I'm pictured arriving this morning at the game. Sunny and dry, though ... Betting line shot all the way to 13 but settled back down to 11 1/2 ..... Original post: Dolfans this morning awakened to a playoff day for their team for the first time since Jan 4, 2009 -- or 2,926 days later. This ends the franchise's eight-year postseason drought. But Miami's season will end today in Pittsburgh (1 p.m. kickoff, CBS) unless the Dolphins can rid themselves of another, longer drought: a first playoff victory since Dec. 30, Meheinz2000. Miami (10-6, No. 6 AFC seed) is not given much of a chance vs. Pittsburgh (11-5, No. 3). Dolphins are 11-point underdogs, biggest of Wild-Card Weekend. Teams that were double-digit underdogs were 0-14 this season. That means, by that measure, it would be the biggest upset of the entire NFL season if Miami won today. Fins are huge 'dogs despite having beaten the Steelers in Miami, 30-15, in October. Some of that is the perceived huge home-field advantage of Pittsburgh in January, with temps expected today as low as 10 degrees. Miami also will be missing four key players who led the October win: QB Ryan Tannehill, C Mike Pouncey, S Reshad Jones and CB Byron Maxwell. And Pitt is healthier now. This time Steelers will have run-stopping linebacker Ryan Shazier to make sure Jay Ajayi doesn't run for 204 yards again. The gaping point spread also reflects a perception that Miami, taking its first playoff bow since '08, is the sort of the happy-to-be-here interloper ready for its reality check, in contrast to the playoff-tested Steelers. Also, it's hard to envision that Big Ben Roethlisberger, the two-time champion making his 18th postseason start, won't best Matt Moore making his first postseason start. Did I mention Steelers are on a seven-game winning streak? One more: Dolfans should be concerned less about no-Tannehill than about their defense giving up 31 or more points in three of past five games. Having said all that, though, the double-digit betting line either flatters Pitt or (more likely) disrespects Miami, or both. Do I see Dolphins winning a playoff game today for the first time since 2000? Nope. But I like them with the points, respectably bowing out, not getting blown out. My pick: Pittsburgh, 27-20.

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: Playoffs!?! Yes, playoffs. But they didn't last long for Miami: Miami visited Pittsburgh Sunday for Dolphins' first playoff game in 8 years and 4 days. Alas, it was hardly worth the weight, with Fins bounced after a resounding 30-12 defeat. Oddsmakers had given Miami little chance. Buncha know-it-alls.

2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Alabama-Clemson Monday for CFP crown: It's a rematch in the third College Football Playoff championship game tonight in Tampa, after Alabama won 45-40 a year ago. Nick Saban haters everywhere are temporarily Clemson's biggest fans.

3. HEAT: Winslow done as Miami flails through season: Heat has lost eight of past nine games and is 11-28, the NBA's third-worst record. And now Justise Winslow is is done for the season after shoulder surgery. Well, um, Tuesday at Golden State should be fun! 

4. HURRICANES: Kaaya departure rocks Canes football: Still glowing from a first bowl win in 10 years, UM football took a sack with the announcement Brad Kaaya would forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Mark Richt's starting QB is now [Your Guess Goes Here].

5. NFL PLAYOFFS: It's Wild-Card Weekend!: Eight teams including Miami were in action this weekend, but only Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Green Bay survived. Their prize? The four winners get to go on the road and be underdogs next week vs. the rested, top-seeded Chiefs, Patriots, Cowboys or Falcons.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Big week for Canes hoops: Coming into the meat of the season with ACC play underway. The No. 14-ranked UM women hosted and lost to No. 7 Notre Dame on Sunday, and now the Canes men, not ranked but close, host the No. 23 Irish on Thursday.

7. PANTHERS: At midseason, Cats disappointing but not done: Florida has lost six of past eight and is 6-13 since the coaching change, and yet Panthers find themselves only four points off playoff pace at midseason. Anybody up for a hopeful “We're No. 8!” chant?

8. ESPN: The downsizing of Chris Berman: Mr. BackBackBackBackBack is slowly fading to BlackBlackBlackBlackBlack with this week's ESPN announcement of a diminished role for their iconic, original voice.

9. DUKE: Tripping guard reinstated: Duke basketball star Grayson Allen was given an "indefinite suspension" by coach Mike Krzyzewski for tripping opponents. Duke lost its first game without him. He was immediately reinstated. Lesson learned!

10: NHL: Columbus finally loses: Blue Jackets lost after 16 wins a row, one short of the 24-year-old record set by Pittsburgh. Yes, because when you think of hockey tradition and excellence, you start with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Missing the HB10 cut: Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight.com is calling a Patriots Super Bowl win. If Nate's as accurate with that as he was on Hillary beating Trump, Pats fans should be worried, indeed ..... Erik Spoelstra called it "shameful, disgraceful" that Goran Dragic was ejected from Friday's game. Also shameful and disgraceful: Heat's 11-27 record following the loss ..... Ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor and Fort Lauderdale-born Isaac Bruce were locals making the Pro Football Hall of Fame cut to 16 finalists ..... U.S. beat Canada to win the world juniors title in hockey. First we steal their Stanley Cup trophy every year, now this ..... Marlins and Canes fans, we're one month from baseball kicking into gear ..... R.I.P., Marti Huizenga.

THE LIST: SUPER BOWL TOURNAMENT: Twelve teams were in it including Miami entering this weekend, but all teams are not created equal. Here are the 12 playoff teams listed in order of betting odds that each will win the Super Bowl, via the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. We also list each team's points differential. Notice how the two correlate to some degree:

Team                                Odds       Point +/-

New England Patriots         13-10     +191

Dallas Cowboys                   4-1       +115

Pittsburgh Steelers              8-1       +72

Kansas City Chiefs             10-1       +78

Green Bay Packers             10-1       +44

Atlanta Falcons                 12-1       +134

Seattle Seahawks              12-1       +62

New York Giants                16-1       +26

Houston Texans                 80-1       -49

Oakland Raiders               100-1      +31

Detroit Lions                    100-1      -12

Miami Dolphins                 100-1      -17

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 31, 2016

What was 2016's biggest national sports story? Annual year-end poll. Last day to vote!; plus FSU 33, Michigan 32 in an Orange Bowl classic; also, Dolphins-Patriots pick (uh oh), how Marino was ahead of his time & more

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

Newyear Nyeve1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve, all! 2) The inventor of the red Solo cup has died. A toast, anyone? 3) Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late Christmas or Happy New Year gift for every Dolfan you know! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes beat West Virginia in bowl with season-ending CSM poll, your verdict on Dolphins playoff foe, Greg Cote bobblehead & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FSU survives Michigan, 33-32: They stopped the calling the annual Orange Bowl game the Orange Bowl 'Classic' a while ago. They should have brought the word back just for last night. What a game! Click on An Orange Bowl Classic for my column from the stadium.

Vote for No. 1 Greater Miami/South Florida sports story of 2016 starting Tuesday: That poll will appear in a new, separate blogpost starting Tuesday morning. Watch for it and vote.

YOU PICK THE 2016 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-ending blog vote. The top 10 stories in this poll are not mine; they are from The Associated Goodbye2016Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically here, not in the order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back frequently to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. I must say I am quite surprised the tragic death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez did not make the national AP list used for this poll, but be assured that won't be omitted when, beginning Tuesday morning, I invite your vote on my choices for the top Greater Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2016. For now, let's go nationwide. Ready? Decide!

Vote for the top three (3) biggest stories:

FSU 33, MICHIGAN 32 (FINAL): AN ORANGE BOWL THAT FEELS (ALMOST) LIKE A PLAYOFF GAME: Click on An Orange Bowl Classic for my column from the stadium off the game. Original post: Tonight's 83rd Orange Bowl game (8 p.m., Hard Rock Stadium, ESPN) is not a tough sell. Some are. Remember Georgia Tech- ObMississippi State not that long ago? And how did Northern bleepin' Illinois get here!? But tonight we get No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 Florida State in a matchup that has (almost) the national heft of a College Football Playoff semifinal, and the local interest to match. It's Jim Harbaugh vs. Jimbo Fisher. It's Dalvin Cook vs. Jabrill Peppers. It's FSU's big offense vs. Michigan's really good defense. I also love this contrast: the host city knows one team very well and the other hardly at all. We see the Seminoles, the Miami Hurricanes' chief ACC rivals, all the time. So many of their players including Cook (Miami Central) are local guys. This will be Florida State's 10th OB appearance, third most of any school. Michigan, though, is a far-flung mystery. The Canes have played the other U-M since the '80s, and the Wolverines' most recent of only two OB appearance was following the 1999 season. Their quarterback then was some guy named Tom Brady, who'll be back in the same building Sunday pitching for the Patriots vs. the Dolphins. Click on A Matchup Worthy of OB Tradition to read my column previewing tonight's big game.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 17: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-PATRIOTS, REST OF NFL: Sixteen games, all Sunday, all division rivalries, with the final two of 12 playoff spots to be determined. FripixSounds like a big Week 17 for King Sport. We enter the regular-season finale a big 34 games over .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald -- one of our best years ever. Click on Week 17 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Patriots, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other contest. (Grinch Cote has picked playoff-bound Miami to lose each of the past two games and been wrong both times, as many kind readers have pointed out. Well, I'm picking Miami to lose yet again. You're welcome!). We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with an ode to Dan Marino's ahead-of-his-time greatness as the Dolphins prepare to honor him on Sunday. Click on Marino Led NFL Arms Race to read.

Other select recent columns: Road Back Starts With Bowl Win, on why the Hurricanes ending their bowl victory drought was so important. The Gift Of Winning, on Dolphins rewarding fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 23, 2016

Dolphins-Bills, other NFL Week 16 picks; plus "The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings" (30 games); also Whiteside poll as Heat honors Shaq (last day to vote!), your players-skipping-bowls verdict & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- perfect for any Dolfan on your list and just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My baseball Hall of fame ballot, Dolphins and Pro Bowl, college-players-skipping-bowl-games poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 15 results & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Select recent columns: Haven't been as many lately, due to vacation time. The Gift Of Winning, the latest, on the Dolphins gifting their fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: The Handoff Nobody Wanted. Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 16: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-BILLS, REST OF NFLThe full launch of our Week 16 comes after a stumbling start last night as we thought the Giants would win Fripix
Grinchand cover at Eagles and we were double-wrong. Disappointing pick, because I'd had a gut feeling for Philly and reasoned myself out of it. Still, we enter the week a very solid 30 games over .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald -- one of our best years ever. Click on Week 16 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Bills, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other contest. (Sorry, Dolfans, but Grinch Cote does not think the Dolphins will come out of Buffalo with their playoff spot secured). We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the playoff picture and a call for the NFL to start rewarding teams with the best records regardless of divisions. Click on Quit Rewarding Teams That Win Bad Divisions to read.

UPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (30 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 10-20 after last night's comeback win over the L.A. Lakers on Shaq Night, here's The Luddite's sixth installment, with 25-game rank in parentheses:

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (30 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       1,010

2. Goran Dragic (2)             747

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            595

4. James Johnson (4)          464

5. Dion Waiters (5)              346

6. Josh Richardson (7)         314

7. Rodney McGruder (6)       297

8. Justise Winslow (8)         281

9. Josh McRoberts (9)          225

10. Wayne Ellington (10)     187

Others: Willie Reed 168, Derrick Williams 157, Luke Babbitt 136, Udonis Haslem 17.

AS HEAT HONORS SHAQ, WHAT'S THE CONFIDENCE IN WHITESIDE AS CLUB'S NEXT GREAT BIG MAN?: The Heat raised Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 jersey to the rafters last night during the home win vs. (not coincidentally) the Lakers -- Shaq joining only Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway in that exclusive pantheon, although it awaits Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, and also ShaqhassanLeBron James, if Pat Riley swallows his pride on that. The honor for Shaq is more debatable than clear-cut. The case for: Shaq arrived to give the franchise national heft and helped Miami win its first NBA title in 2006. The case against: Did Shaq really play long enough here -- 3 1/2 seasons -- to merit a retired number? Consider the slice of his career pie Miami had of Shaq: 16.98% of his games played, 14.02% of his points scored, and 14.17% of his rebounds. So his NBA career was about 1/6th or 1/7th Miami. You weighed in last month in a poll here asking what you thought of Miami retiring his number, and it was 60.6 percent no vs. 39.4% yes. Close, but sorry, Big Fella. The timing of last night's ceremony is what interested me. Shaq used to complain about not getting the ball enough as Wade's star ascended. Shaq left here on bad terms, this ceremony coming as an olive branch. Now, in Hassan Whiteside, the Heat has another center who must be coddled to a degree. Just this week, Whiteside complained, Shaq-like, about needing more touches of the ball. "I understand his frustration," Riley said Wednesday. "There's a lot of pressure on him. He feels the pressure and welcome to the big leagues. Welcome to the big time." Miami is giving Whiteside max money and he is delivering, leading the NBA by averaging 14.8 rebounds, among leaders at 2.41 blocks, and second on the team in scoring at 18.1 points. But Miami is 10-20. This isn't working. Riley said this week he will be "rebuild quick" and many wonder if Whiteside will be a cornerstone of that rebuilding, or traded as a part of it. Is he untouchable? Should he be? Take a dip in our poll and weigh in on what you think the future holds for Hassan Whiteside.

Poll result: Debatable, but more disagree with players skipping bowl games: We asked what best expresses how you feel about star college football players skipping their teams' bowl games, and it was 47.4 percent oppose/selfish, 33.9% support/smart, and 18.7% undecided/mixed feelings.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 10, 2016

State of Florida has hand in 11 of 42 college football bowl games. We rank them here; plus which of ex-Big 3 is having biggest laugh over Heat's struggles? (Poll); also, Dolphins-Cardinals, other NFL Week 14 pix and King Sport 3Q Awards & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10. R.I.P., John Glenn, American astronaut and statesman who died this week at 95. 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.

BowlcartoonSUNSHINE STATE POWER! MORE THAN ONE-FOURTH OF ALL BOWL GAMES ARE TIED TO FLORIDA: The major-college football postseason includes 42 bowl games in a dizzying three-week burst from Dec. 17 to Jan. 9. Eleven of them, or 26.2 percent, either are being played in the state of Florida or involve a state team. We rank them from 1 to 11 on an importance/watchability scale:

1. Tampa's Raymond James Stadium is host to this season's College Football Playoff national championship game Jan. 9, between the semifinal winners of No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. 4-Washington (12-1) and 2-Clemson (12-1) vs. 3-Ohio State (11-1). Games and stages get no bigger.

2. Orange Bowl in Miami gets a great matchup in No. 6 Michigan (10-2) and No. 11 Florida State (9-3). Both teams began season expecting to be preparing for a CFP playoff semifinal game right. Michigan thinks it still should be. 

3. Orlando and the Citrus Bowl host No. 13 Louisville (9-3) and No. 20 LSU (7-4) on Dec. 31 in a matchup that now features the newly minted Heisman Trophy winner in L'ville QB Lamar Jackson. 

4. Miami Hurricanes (8-4) face No. 16 West Virginia (10-2) in Orlando in the Russell Athletic Bowl. In WVU, Miami gets the highest-ranked bowl opponent of any unranked team. 

5. Florida Gators, ranked No. 17, face Iowa in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 2 in a duel of big-conference 8-4 teams. 

6. Boca Raton Bowl has Western Kentucky (10-3) and Memphis (8-4) Dec. 20 at FAU Stadium.

7. Jacksonville and the Taxslayer Bowl get Georgia Tech (8-4) and Kentucky (7-5) on Dec. 31 in a second-tier ACC/SEC duel. 

8. UCF Knights (6-6) stay at home in Orlando in the AutoNation Cure Bowl Dec. 17 vs. Arkansas State (7-5). Make fun of six-win/.500 bowl teams; fine. But Knights were 0-12 a year ago so this game marks a big accomplishment.

9. Miami Beach Bowl hosts Tulsa (9-3) vs. Central Michigan (6-6) on Dec. 19. I mean, a bowl game tucked into Marlins Park as South Beach breezes waft in over the downtown skyline -- that's a pretty neat ambience.

10. South Florida Bulls (10-2) face South Carolina (6-6) Dec. 29 in the Birmingham Bowl in Alabama.

11. St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26 finds an odd matchup, with Mississippi State somehow sneaking into a bowl at 5-7 and Miami of Ohio a .500 team that started 0-6. Hey, somebody gotta be last.

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