October 17, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 79.7%. Huge spike in DSM approval after upset in Atlanta; plus Fins stun Falcons 20-17 with rally as offense, defense come alive; also, see who's No. 1 and what falls where in latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 16. Know any people who are serious Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes' 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech with CSM poll, other state Collball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column on Canes' huge win over Georgia TechClick Minor Miracle Bails Out Richt's Gamble for my column from Saturday's 25-24 UM triumph keeping The U unbeaten. Also, voting continues in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll, both in the blogpost directly below and here.

Vote in DSM poll online, too: Click here.

DOLPHINS RALLY, STUN FALCONS IN ATLANTA, 20-17: The Dolphins' huge second half Sunday in Atlanta beats the Falcons 20-17 to complete an exhilarating weekend of football for South Florida fans, after the Hurricanes beat Georgia Tech 25-24 the day before. What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit Sunday. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler. I'd predicted that Miami would lose narrowly (I said 27-23) but with an effort that would see a wakeup by the offense and be encouraging to fans. Now let's see how encouraged fans really are with the latest DSM poll. Vote now.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 79.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 79.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-17 upset victory at the Atlanta Falcons putting Miami's season record at 3-2. That's a huge spike from three straight weeks in single digits. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
Next poll: Oct. 22 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets)

G5: DOLPHINS AT ATLANTA: SEE ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR MIAMI, EVEN IN DEFEAT: Final thoughts: What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler ..... 4Q: Jones interception inside final minute denies Atlanta tying FG try, seals 20-17 upset, comeback win for Miami! ... Fins take first lead 20-17 on Parkey 38-yard FG with just over 2 minutes left in regulation ... MIA ties it 17-17 on Parkey 49-yard FG after big 4th-down gamble and conversion ... Momentum is all Miami's right now. Fins with ball near midfield after muffed Falcons punt play ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-14 on Cutler-Landry 7-yard TD pass after roughing penalty negates Cutler scrimmage-line interception ... Pouncey out under concussion protocol. Cannot keep that man on the damned field! ... Gase sticks with Cutler and it pays off. MIA with 17-7 on his 11-yard scoring pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: How much longer will Gase's support for Cutler continue? QB is 8-for-14 for 64 yards and a pick (39.0 rating) in half as offensive woes go on. Ajayi (11 carries, 71 yards) the lone bright spot. Not even the defense (233 yards allowed) is playing great. If Cutler cannot lead this offense to the end zone, why not try Moore? ..... 2Q: ATL misses 59-yard FG to end half ... Miami driving to finally score (seemingly), but Cutler picked off at Atlanta 10. Ugh ... ATL 17-0 on Coleman 6-yard scoring run. My forecast of a close game and an encouraging Dolphins effort not coming true -- so far. Still early ... It failed, but totally agree with MIA going for it on 4th-and-3 from ATL 39 ..... Ajayi  1Q: Ajayi 51 rush yards on five carries the 1Q bright spot for MIA ... Ryan 40-yard scoring strike to hall and 10-0 Falcs lead ... ATL 3-0 on opening-drive 50-yard FG ..... Pregame: Final betting line at Falcons by 14. Wow. The 2-2 Dolphins being treated like 0-4 out of Vegas ... WR Parker notable among inactives today, a hinderance to MIA upset chances ..... Original post: Miami rarely finds itself the week's biggest NFL underdog -- that's why the Browns and Jets were invented! -- but it does this week, by 11 1/2 points, and, alas, with fair reason. The 3-1 Atlanta Falcons are coming off a bye week and Miaatlexpect to have two key players, receiver Julio Jones and sackman Vic Beasley, back from injury. The 2-2 Miami Dolphins are coming off a week in which the two biggest topics of distracting conversation (not necessarily in this
G5order) were Jay Cutler's tepid, barely scoring offense, and the assistant coach forced to resign in shame over a cocaine/stripper scandal. Still, I like Miami with the points in this 1 p.m. CBS tilt and give the Fins a medium shot at an outright upset, believe it or not. Atlanta is not invincible; it lost its last game at home to Buffalo, 23-17. Falcons' defense is good but not great; Miami's may be better. Jay Ajayi should find the running easier than Devonta Freeman will. I cannot bring myself to predict what might be the league's biggest upset of Week 6. But I do foresee a performance that may encourage Dolfans, even in defeat. Have you ever experienced a 2-2 start enveloped in such gloom? Miami will gradually find itself offensively, and there should be signs here. And I believe this team has the coaching, leadership and lockerroom mettle to not only overcome this week's Snortgate scandal, but maybe even to use it as coalescing fuel. Let's see if I'm anywhere close right. My pick: Falcons, 27-23. [Click on Week 6 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

THE LIST: DOLPHINS SLOW STARTS OFFENSIVELY: Fewest points scored in Dolphins' first four games of a season:

Points    Year        Starting QB / Coach

32          2004       Feeley (3), Fiedler (1) / Wannstedt

41          2017       Cutler / Gase

42          1967       Griese (2), Norton (2) / Wilson

50          1988       Marino / Shula

51          2006       Culpepper / Saban

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 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech for ACC lead: Finally beating Florida State last week was bigger for The U symbolically. But beating Georgia Tech 25-24 Saturday was bigger tangibly, as the No. 11 Canes -- now No. 8 -- earned sole possession of the ACC Coastal lead. The road to all the way “Back” starts there. 

2. HEAT: It's Opening Week for Miami, NBA: The meaningless six-game exhibition schedule is done, now Miami opens its regular season Wednesday in Orlando, then has its home opener in six days, Saturday vs. Indiana. Soon we see if last season's 30-11 second half was a harbinger or a mirage. 

3. DOLPHINS: Fins shed off-field, on-field woes with huge win in Atlanta: The second-worst four-game scoring start in Dolphins history. An assistant coach resigned in a cocaine/stripper scandal. It all went away Sunday in Dolphins' big 20-17 comeback win in Atlanta, the NFL upset of the week -- and maybe of the season.

4. SOCCER: Shocker! Embarrassed U.S. men fail to make World Cup: Team USA failed to qualify for men's World Cup for first time since 1986, thanks to humiliating, eliminating 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago that saw coach Bruce Arena resign in shame. Guys, can't you just be half as good as the U.S. women?

5. BASEBALL: AL, NL championship series underway: MLB's final four includes the team that just won (Cubs), the team that wins the most (Yankees) and the team that spends the most (Dodgers). Your process-of-elimination independent rooting interest if you like a true underdog? Houston Astros, who've never won it all dating to 1962 Colt .45s.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Four more Top 10 teams lose: You know what that means, right Miami Hurricanes fans? UM rising from No. 11 to 8th in the new polls.

7. PANTHERS: Cats underway, name new alt-governor: The Panthers, 2-2 through four games with an encouraging 16 goals scored, named retired Army general Raymond Odierno as chairman and alternate governor. Cannot confirm he has ordered strategic bombing of select Eastern Conference opponents.

8. NFL: Anthem/kneeling hot topic at owners meetings: Fall owners meetings in New York this week will center on polarizing issue of players using NFL platform to protest social injustice during national anthem. Solution expected? None whatsoever!

9. MARLINS: Jeter imprint begins to show: This is Derek Jeter's first significant, major hire as the guy running the Marlins. Period. Gary Denbo, 56, his mentor from the Yankees, will oversee the Fish player development and scouting departments, a crucial job for a club with cupboards bare.

10. TENNIS: Sharapova wins first post-ban title: Maria Sharapova won the Tianjin Open, her first women's title since May 2105 following a doping ban. Yes, evidently a minor title in China counts.

Missing the HB10 cut: Miami Hurricanes' men's basketball preparation underway for the Nov. 10 season opener as national FBI probe of recruiting in the sport continues. Here's hoping the season doesn't arrive with a cloud attached  ..... Newly freed O.J. Simpson is out and about in Las Vegas, boozing, schmoozing, playing golf, posing for photos, shamelessly pushing memorabilia and allegedly staging fake altercations with paparazzi to then sell to TMZ. Welcome back. O.J! Missed ya!!

Select recent columns: Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season (Dolphins' Snortgate). It Isn't Just Cutler (Dolphins' offense woes). Back On Track & Ready To Roar (Florida Panthers). Here's What I Find Funny, Cam (Cam Newton). Jeter Betting On Jeter (Marlins)Also: Hope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Stanton Chasing 1984Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 10, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 9.9%; plus big Miami D beats Titans 16-10 but team embroiled in Snortgate; also, see what else falls where in latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

Columbus1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 9. Happy Columbus Day, if it hasn't become politically incorrect to still think of Christopher positively. 2) See previous blogpost for results in latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter. They're buoyant, a season high. 3) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite recent performances? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at FSU with CSM poll, other state Collball Week 6, Panthers open, Cam Newton's problem, your World Series verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins column off Sunday's game: Ah, yesterday. The halcyon days when the Dolphins' biggest problem was a lousy offense, not a soon-to-be-former offensive line coach snorting lines of a certain white powdery substance. Click on It Isn't Just Cutler for my game column.

Dolphins column on Foerster/Snortgate: NEW! Click Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 9.9%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 9.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 16-10 victory over the visiting Tennessee Titans putting Miami's season record at 2-2. That's a slight bump up, but a minimal one following a victory. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
Next poll: Oct. 15 (following game at Atlanta) 
 

G4: TENNESSEE AT DOLPHINS: EARLY IN SEASON FOR MUST-WIN FEEL, BUT HERE WE ARE: Postgame thoughts: One theory is there are no unsatisfying wins in the NFL. But if there were, this would be close: A 16-10 Miami win, at home, against a Tennessee team without its starting QB, a team that last week gave up 57 points. The Dolphins defense was as good as its offense was bad. That's the glass half-full. The D produced six sacks and two fumble recoveries -- the D won the game. But Jay Cutler and the offense were mostly anemic again, producing only six points on their own. With Miami 2-2, the Cutler offense has yet to generate a 20-point game as the schedule toughens from here ..... 4Q: Huge sack by top-pick rookie Charles Harris ... MIA up 16-10 on Cutler-Landry 6-yard hookup, but then a missed extra point wide right. Uh oh ..... 3Q: And the puntfest/snoozefest continues, with 15 combined punts through three ... Near-safety for MIA defense; ball marked at 1 leading to punt from end zone ... Miami punting on 4th and 1 from TEN 47 tells you how much confidence Adam Gase has in his offense right now ... TEN ties it 10-10 on 69-yard drive ending in 11-yard scoring pass. First opponent series Miami D has looked less than dominant ... DeVante Parker won't return today. Just the news an anemic offense didn't need ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami's defense, even considering Titans were without Marcus Mariota, was fantastic, limiting Tennessee to 80 total yards on 29 plays.  Four sacks and Reshad Jones' two fumble recoveries, one returned for a TD, made it among the most dominating defensive halves in memory. But! The Dolphins offense was just as bad as the defense was good, totaling a measly 63 yards. Miami scored zero points not set up by the D. Jay Cutler was 5-for-11 for 21 yards with an interception, and heard booing and "We want Moore!" chants. About as ugly as it gets for a team with the lead ..... 2Q: Cutler  intercepted on deflected ball. Pass was high, though, so it's mostly on him ... A very brief "We want Moore!" chant just bloomed following another Dolphins punt ... TEN within 10-3 on 45-yard FG set up by Ajayi turnover ... Ugh. Ajayi lost fumble gives Titans ball at MIA 24 ..... 1Q: Wow! MIA 10-0 after Jones' 38-yard TD return on fumble forced by Alonso hard hit on QB Cassel. Seemed like incomplete pass at first. Jones returned it anyway. Good thing ... MIA 3-0 late in quarter on Parkey 41-yard FG set up by takeaway ... Little Jakeem Grant had a TD catch but two defenders broke it up ... First big play is by MIA's defense as Jones recovers fumble at Titans 42 ... Noticeable booing as Fins punt for third straight time ... MIA's first 2 series have started at 7 and 3 yard lines. Not good ... Long-snapper Denney playing in 196th game, tie-3rd in Dolphins history. Promise never to mention the long snapper again ... Swapping punts to start game ..... Pregame: Marcus Mariota inactive a  huge boost for TenmiamiMiami's upset shot. Bet-line immediately fell from Dolphins -3 to -1.5. And then to even/pick-'em ..... Original post: I don't need a reminder that Miami started 1-4 last year, rose like Lazarus and made the playoffs. It is both true and means nothing. This Dolphins team at 1-2 will be in deep trouble if it falls to 1-3 today and all know it. Tennessee at 2-2 is a 3-point road favorite, which tells you a little something about regard for the Fins. But I like Miami in an upset. That's right. Eureka! Dolphins sleeping offense finally awakens! It hardly feels like an upset, especially with the strong possibility that Titans QB Marcus Mariota (hamstring) either won't play or will be G4limited. The dropoff to lousy Matt Cassel is extreme. But I'd like Miami anyway in the Fins' second-latest home opener in franchise history to one in 1987. Dolphins' offense can't possibly be as bad as it's looked the past two weeks (right?), and this is a Tennessee defense that just gave up 57 points (!) to Houston. Miami needs to recommit to the ground and Jay Ajayi, first, and the O-line must give Jay Cutler a cleaner pocket and another second to throw against a beatable Titans pass defense. Meanwhile the Dolphins run-stopping has been pretty solid; now, if only the pass-D was as stout. The key may be Ajayi's health, after he missed practice Thursday, babying a tender knee. Still not sure this will prove to be much beyond an average Dolphins team, or a playoff team, but it is a team that wins this game at home. (Or better be). My pick: Dolphins, 24-17. [Click on Week 5 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

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: Finally! UM gets Litmus-test win over FSU, but loses Walton: Canes fans had waited since 2009, through seven straight losses to Florida State and then a Hurricane Irma delay, to finally beat their ACC rival and nemesis again. Wait: Worth it. Still-unbeaten Canes 24, Noles 20. Costly, though, with season-ending ankle injury to top RB Mark Walton.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins' D beats Titans, but Snortgate scandal erupts: Offense was lousy again as defense carried Miami past Titans 16-10 Sunday. But now team is scandalized by video on social media appearing to show offensive line coach Chris Foerster snorting lines of a white substance that looks an awful lot like cocaine.

3. PANTHERS: Hopeful Cats christen 24th NHL season: Florida opened with state doubleheader, losing Friday in Tampa then winning Saturday vs. Lightning here. New Panthers coach Bob Boughner is franchise's 15th, none lasting longer than three seasons. Club never got that memo about patience being a virtue.
 
4. MARLINS: Fish introduce Jeter as new ownership era begins: The Marlins introduced the public front of the new ownership group, money man Bruce Sherman and baseball man Derek Jeter. They aren't haven't lost a game yet and, mostly, they are not Jeffrey Loria, so for now Miami loves them.
 
5. HEAT: 9 days now 'til season opener: Heat is halfway through its six-game exhibition schedule, with regular season opener Oct. 18. Miami basically stood pat with last year's team that went 30-11 in second half. But is it good or bad when you're convinced your one missing piece is Kelly Olynyk?

6. BASEBALL: Postseason underway with divisional series: The Astros (at Red Sox) and Indians (at Yankees) are up 2-1 and in position to clinch their 5-game AL divisional series tonight. Raise your hand if you still think of the Astros as an NL team.

7. SOCCER: U.S. men breathe easier after rout of Panama: Team USA walloped Panama 4-0 Friday night in a qualifying match in Orlando to all but assure itself of advancing to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. U.S. can clinch Tuesday with a win (or likely even a tie) at Trinidad & Tobago.

8. CAM NEWTON: Carolina QB belittles woman sports writer: Newton called it "funny" to hear a "female" talk about route-running. Dear Cam: You play football for a living. What I find funny is someone who plays a game for living believing that game's intricacies are beyond the grasp of anybody.

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes expect no problem with FBI probe: A Hurricanes assistant coach was implicated but not charged in that national FBI investigation of college men's basketball recruiting, and UM now says it expects a complete exoneration. Exhale, please.

10. WNBA: MInnesota continues its mini-dynasty: A fourth championship in seven seasons. Does that qualify the Minnesota Lynx as dynastic? If only I cared enough to consider further.

Missing the HB10 cut: Headlines I Never Thought I'd See (one in a series): 'Washington Nationals assistant suspended related to revenge porn suit' ..... O.J. Simpson continues to be as free as a man can be when everyone who looks at him believes he got away with double-murder ..... A new poll indicates most Americans disapprove of NFL players kneeling for the national anthem, but also disapprove of President Trump calling for their firing. What the hell do we approve of!? 

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 06, 2017

On Cam Newton and women sports writers; plus Panthers launch 24th NHL season looking for reboot; also, NFL Week 5 predix for Dolphins-Titans and the rest, World Series poll (vote now) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6. Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite the last two weeks' performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins pegged for 3-13, Derek Jeter takes over, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald's NFL QB rankings, SOPY Week 5 standings, top SoFla baseball draft prospects & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Cam Newton and women sports writers: Cam found it "funny" to hear a "female" asking a question about pass routes. Here's a few words about women sports writers from someone who actually respects them and what they put up with. Click on Here's What I Find Funny, Cam.

On Derek Jeter taking over as Marlins frontman: The new boss makes no promises on payroll or Giancarlo Stanton's future or anything else, but believes he has the reputation and cache' to convince Marlins fans whatever he does will be right. Read Jeter Betting On Jeter for this week's column.

HOCKEY, EH! PANTHERS OPEN 24TH NHL SEASON TONIGHT LOOKING FOR REBOOT: Strange franchise, this one. Panthers have not won a playoff series since 1996, by far the longest drought in the NHL. They are coming off a disappointing season that got two coaches (head and interim) fired. They are judged Boughnerthe only 25th best of 31 teams in ESPN's current hockey Power Rankings. And yet! There is a great feel of optimism around Nhlthe Panthers. Much enthusiasm that GM Dale Tallon is back in charge, that Bob Boughner (pronounced boog-ner) seems a great coaching hire, and that the young core of rising stars led by Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad -- the Kiddie Cats -- is ready for a breakout season. Tallon (pictured with his new coach) thinks this team is faster, more skilled and grittier than last year's. They lost a 30-goal scorer (Jonathan Marchessault) in the expansion draft and parted ways with popular legend Jaromir Jagr, but the dressing room brims with confidence as the team opens the season tonight in Tampa, and then at home Saturday also vs. the Lightning. Just two years ago the Panthers won the division and set a club record with 103 standings points, before last year's tumultuous nightmare. Can Boughner help them recapture that? Click on Back On Track & Ready To Roar for my Panthers season preview column.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 5 PICKS: DOLPHINS (HOME AT LAST) HANDLE TITANS: Miami plays its second-latest-ever home opener Sunday vs.  Tennessee as a three-point home underdog but should pull off the needed win, even if questionable Marcus Mariota ends up playing. Click on Week 5 Gems for our predix-capsules on Dolphins-Titans, our Game of the Week (Packers-Cowboys), Upset of the Week (Vikings-Bears: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game. Our week got off to a mixed start last night. Had Patriots winning in Tampa; they did. But had them covering 5 1/2 points; they narrowly did not in a 19-14 game, that late Bucs TD a killer for me.

Mlb17BASEBALL POSTSEASON: AND YOU HOPE [FILL IN BLANK] WINS THE WORLD SERIES?: While Derek Jeter sets out to fix the Marlins and fans of the wild-card losing Twins and Rockies wonder if they actually were in the playoffs at all, the surviving eight teams begin their October hunt for World Series rings. The two AL division series start today, with the NL launching Friday. Even if your favorite team didn't make it this far, chances are you have a rooting interest. Maybe a rooting against interest? Or perhaps your wishes are steered by a wager? If you're neutral, here's our Misery Index to help steer you, with the teams ranked based on how long each fandom has waited since last cheering a World Series championship. I'm a Red Sox fan (dating to Yaz and Impossible Dream '67), but if I had no dog in the hunt, how could I not root for Cleveland to end its drought?

MISERY INDEX: Team, years waiting since most recent World Series championship: Indians 69 years (1948); Astros 55 years (none since 1962); Dodgers 29 years (1988); Diamondbacks 16 years (2001); Nationals 12 years (none since 2005 as Washington Nats); Yankees 8 years (2009); Red Sox 4 years (2013); and Cubs 1 year (2016).

Betting odds before the start of play showed the Indians (9-4) and Dodgers (5-2) as virtual co-favorites. Then it's Astros 6-1, Red Sox 9-1, Cubs and Nationals both 10-1, and Diamondbacks and Yankees the longshots at 14-1 each. Back to our Misery Index, the serious droughts are by the Indians (four times in the World Series since last winning, including 2016); the Astros (in the WS only once, losing in 2005); and the Dodgers (not back in it since last winning). Who would you most like to see win the World Series? Our poll is alphabetical based on city name. Vote now:

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 03, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.8%. Rock bottom!; plus tragedy in Vegas, Saints crush Miami 20-0 in London, Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Stanton stays at 59 (with column) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 2. Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite the last two weeks' performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whip Duke with CSM poll, other Collball Week 5, NFL Week 4 pix, your Trump vs. NFL verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MADNESS CONTINUES WITH MASS SHOOTING IN VEGAS: Was it terrorism? I'm not even sure how to define the word anymore. It was not the type associated with radical Islamic extremists; so, do we call it domestic terrorism? Or was it just a deranged lunatic who had no business being in possession of a military-grade automatic weapon? More than 50 are dead and more than 200 wounded at a country music concert on the Vegas strip at the hands of one coward on a balcony. The worst shooting in U.S. history. I'm sure the well-meant "Prayers For Vegas" sentiments are already all over social media. Not enough. Who has an answer to the madness attacking civilization by degrees? OK now back to sports! Christ almighty.   

Latest column: For Giancarlo Stanton, hope last night wasn't goodbye: He struck out in the ninth to end at 59 home runs. Standing ovation. Curtain call. Doffed cap in thanks. Or was that a farewell gesture? Click on Hope That Wasn't Goodbye for my column from the game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 3.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 3.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-Dsm0 loss to New Orleans in London putting Miami's season record at 1-2. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. You may vote here, immediately below, or also online by clicking DSM G3. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

Next poll: Oct. 8 (following game vs. Tennessee)

G3: SAINTS 20, DOLPHINS 0 IN LONDON: FOR MIAMI, AWFUL GOT WORSE: Postgame thoughts: You thought the performance at the Jets last week was bad? Bad got worse. Miami was awful offensively in Sunday's 20-0 loss to New Orleans in London -- pitifully so after an opening 81-yard drive that ended with a Jay Cutler end-zone interception that seemed to thoroughly deflate the team. The Fins' defense was OK, closer to pretty good than bad considering Drew Brees slices through everybody. But the offense? A punt-fest after that opening drive. Nothing happening. Miami is lucky to not be 0-3. At 1-2 the season is not lost, but will be unless offensive answers are found soon. Right now, Ryan Tannehill has never looked better to Dolphins fans ..... 4Q; Sack by Wake. Sadly, might be highlight of game for Miami ... Saints 45-yard FG for 13-0 lead. Dolphins offense today making that seem insurmountable ..... 3Q: Fins are inept offensively right now, but give Saints credit. Much better than in past years on D ... Saints 10-0 on Brees 3-yard screen to Thomas. Only in this game, against this Miami offense, does 10-nil feel like a big lead ... Saints on 4th and 1 get the 1st by at least a full millimeter ..... Halftime thoughts: Ugh. Ugly. Do not mistake this soccer-like 3-0 score for great defense. Mostly it has been inept offenses, a rhythm-less game full of penalties, punts and miscues -- the worst an end-zone pick by Cutler that really seemed to deflate Miami. To say that Brits are not seeing the best of American football is to massively understate the awfulness of this game so far. Miami has three punts and six penalties. What is wrong with Miami's offense!? ..... 2Q: Saints 3-0 on 43-yard FG on half's final play ... Penalties killing Fins ... Saints miss 42-yard FG try. So still 0-0. Common in EPL soccer. In NFL, not so much ..... 1Q: With CB Maxwell inactive (hamstring), Brees really picking on rookie Tankersley ... Cutler throws end-zone interception to instantly snuff promising opening drive. Awful choice by him. Demoralizing end to opening drive that took half the quarter ... Unsurprisingly, clearly a pro-Dolphins crowd ..... Original postTally ho and cheerio and all that stuff we think Brits say but they really don't. Ready for a lil' Breakfast at Wembley? Miami and N'Awlins go at it at 9:30 this morning in the U.S. East in what is (ludicrously) a home game Mialondonfor Miami. How good the Dolphins are — whether they’re any good — was cast in serious doubt with that display of public flatulence at the Jets last week, so this is a true test. I do not believe (yet) that Miami is that bad. But I also do not believe that Sunday’s matchup with the Saints is a particularly favorable one that will be an instant cure. Main reason: Drew Brees, even pushing 39, is still really, really good, while Miami’s pass defense really, really isn’t. At least thus far. And that includes failings underneath due to thin linebacking, even with the return from AWOL suspension of Lawrence Timmons, who undoubtedly still would be in the penalty box if the Jets loss didn’t turn things so dire. N’Awlins' defense of course is famously bad, so Fins have an upset shot if the Double Jays, Cutler and Ajayi (running on a babied knee), are appreciably better than they were last week. Londoners could be in for a bloody shootout! Bottom line, though? Dolphins pass defense made Josh McCown look like a superstar last week. Now here comes Brees. Uh oh. My pick: Saints, 27-23. [Click on Week 4 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

Dolfact: History, almost: With the Dolphins' scheduled home opener postponed by Hurricane Irma until Week 11 and the second "home" game taking place in London, Miami's actual first home game of the regular season -- next Sunday Oct. 8 vs. Tennessee -- will be the second-latest on the calendar in the club's 52 seasons. The only later home debut was Oct. 11, 1987, a season that saw Week 3 canceled by a players strike and three consecutive Dolphins road games.

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. MARLINS: Stanton chases history to season's end: Marlins ownership change is official effective today, but the weekend spotlight belonged to Giancarlo Stanton as he chased baseball history. At 59 homers entering Sunday, he had one game left to reach 60 or even the PED-untainted record of 61 and be King Clean. He fell short, staying at 59. Let's hope he'll be back.
 
2. DOLPHINS: London falling. Hard. Fins blow, again: It was a home game 4,500 miles from home as Dolphins took on Saints as slight underdogs Sunday morning at Wembley Stadium -- and got clobbered 20-0. We thought Fins could not possibly be as awful as they were last week. But oh we were wrong!
 
3. HURRICANES: UM gets big win at Duke in ACC opener: Mark Richt's guys sailed 31-6 in Durham Friday night behind big defense and three TDs from Malik Rosier, and now No. 14 UM is 3-0 and it prepares to face rival Florida State in Tallahassee. And what seemed impossible five weeks ago is true: The Canes will be favored.
 
4. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes men's program part of FBI probe: FBI investigation of corruption in men's college basketball recruiting already has toppled Louisville's Rick Pitino in what could be seismic scandal, and UM has acknowledged a member of its staff is implicated. Football team a nice diversion, but high anxiety in the Gables.
 
5. HEAT: Wade makes nice, Heat open preseason: You know NBA season is getting close when the fake games begin! On a week when Dwyane Wade, now of Cleveland, made nice by saying he wants to end his career in a Heat jersey, Miami opened its six-game preseason here by beating Atlanta Sunday. Oh, and Heat are now mobile-only on ticket entry, so you, Luddite, better go buy a smartphone.

6. PANTHERS: Cats wrap exhibitions, await regular season: Panthers ended their preseason with a promising 4-2 mark and now await regular-season NHL opener in Tampa Friday, then home vs. Lightning Saturday. Last year: Big hype, no results. Now: No hype ... so we'll see.

7. BASEBALL: Wild-card games commence postseason: AL wild-card game Tuesday (Twins-Yankees) and NL Wednesday (Rockies-Diamondbacks) begin the MLB playoffs. These are like those play-in games in NCAA Tournament. Sorry, wild-carders, but you didn't really make the playoffs, now did you?

8. NFL POLITICS: Trump vs. Protest war continues: War between President Donald Trump and NFL social-justice protesters continues. Dear Trump: Fewer Tweets on NFL, more action on Puerto Rico. I mean ... just sayin'! 

9. RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Signs mega contract extension: Oklahoma City Thunder lavished Westbrook with a five-year, $205 million contract extension. Wait. Weren't max contracts around $20 mill about a minute ago? 

10. O.J. SIMPSON: Parolee heads to Florida: Our man O.J. Simpson gets out of prison on parole this week and is believed headed to South Florida to take up residence. Remember, if the glove does not fit, you must ... say welcome, Neighbor!

Missing the HB10 cut: FSU finally off the schneid, FIU and FAU both with big wins ..... Game 4 of the WNBA Finals is Sunday. Note to self: Look up who's playing.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 26, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: (Ouch) 4.8%; plus Miami embarrassed by Jets 20-6, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), reflections on 1-year anniversary of Jose Fernandez tragedy & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes crush Toledo with CSM poll, our SoFla sports cornucopia, other state Collball Week 4 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

JoseJose Fernandez tragedy: 1-year laterMy latest Sunday column reflects on the tragedy that rocked South Florida one year ago, and on the complicated legacy of Jose Fernandez. Click on Regret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 4.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 4.8 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-6 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 1-1. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Next poll: Oct. 1 (following game vs. New Orleans in London)

G2: N.Y. JETS 20, DOLPHINS 6: Postgame thoughts: Losses do not get much worse than an offensively inept 20-6 Dolphins defeat at the New York Jets. One of these teams was supposed to be among the worst in the NFL. Miami played the role. Quarterback Jay Cutler was out of synch and misfiring much of the day, only averting a shutout on a last-second TD pass to DeVante Parker, followed -- fittingly -- by a missed extra point. I might have earlier inserted Matt Moore for a spark -- any spark. Jay Ajayi rushed for a mere 16 yards on 11 carries. The pass defense was horrible, turning journeyman Josh McCown into Tom Brady. The Dolphins are very fortunate to now be 1-1, not 0-2, as they fly home, pack and head Monday to London for next week's "home" game vs. New Orleans. I did not think an offense with Ajayi, Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills could be as bad as the Fins looked today. But the last word to Adam Gase, said perfectly: "They beat the shit out of us." ..... Halftime thoughts: Awfulness abounds for the Dolphins at 10-nil down. Cutler has 38 yards passing and Ajayi is bottled up with 16 amid 49 yards total offense. Meanwhile Miami's pass defense is making Josh McCown look like Tom Brady. Adam Gase was good a week ago with halftime adjustments. He'll need some here. Lose today and Dolphins will have zero claim to being playoff caliber. Lose today and you are the team Vegas disrespected with that7 1/2 over/under on wins ..... Original post: The 1-0 Dolphins are comfy 6-point road favorites for Sunday's 1 p.m. go at the 0-2 Jets. But is Miami good enough that fans might trust a stress-free afternoon? I still wonder. I've loved the easy narrative by Your Friend the Media Mianyjthe past week that the Dolphins' season-opening win on the road verified a resilient, tough team that overcame the distraction and upheaval of Hurricane Irma and therefore can overcome anything. Um, quick reminder: Miami beat the mediocre Los Angeles Chargers 19-17 only because of the plain luck of a rookie kicker being kind enough to choke on a 44-yard field goal try in the last seconds. Kid makes kick and the whole narrative flips? Keep proving how good you are, Fins, because we don't know yet, and that process continues Sunday with what should be a low-anxiety, comfortable win over the abysmal Jets. NYJ toyed with signing Jay Cutler during the offseason but settled to recycle Josh McCown because Cutler saw a TV booth as a better situation than the woebegone Planes. Now we find out why, although Cutler may be a supporting weapon here. Jay Ajayi fantasy owners who have seen the Jets' sorry run defense are looking at this game the way a fat man looks at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The question again, though: Is Miami is good enough to deliver an easy win? Let's find out. My pick: Dolphins, 34-13. [Click Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

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: Fins clobbered by Stinkin' Jets: Biggest challenge facing Dolphins as Sunday's Jets game neared? Talking up the opponent as a dangerous team with immense talent and doing so with straight faces. Or so we imagined. We thought Jets were one of worst teams in NFL. But it was Miami playing the role in Sunday's dispiriting 20-6 road loss.

2. HURRICANES: UM back in play with rout of Toledo: Soft opener vs. Bethune-Cookman, Hurricane Irma, game at Arkansas State canceled, trip to Florida State postponed, practices moved to Orlando, then play finally resumes vs. Toledo with a slow-starting 52-30 win. No idea how this Canes season will end, but it sure started bat-bleep crazy.

3. MARLINS: Stanton push, Jose anniversary: Fish down to seven games left as Giancarlo Stanton (now with 57) chases Roger Maris' untainted record of 61 home runs. More somberly, today/Monday marks 1-year anniversary of tragic boating accident that killed Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends.

4. HEAT: Miami set to open training camp: Erik Spoelstra's guys open training camp Tuesday at FAU working toward their first preseason game next Sunday vs. Atlanta. Outside expectations? Playoffs, but not much more even after last season's 30-11 second half. Heat are midpack with 14th longest championship odds of 30 NBA teams.

5. BASEBALL: Playoff grid takes shape as season ebbs: AL's Red Sox, Indians, Astros and Yankees and NL's Nationals, Dodgers and Diamondbacks have clinched playoff spots entering today and final week of MLB's regular season. If you aren't rooting for Cleveland's first World Series win since 1948, well ... what's wrong with you!?!

6. DEREK JETER: Purge targets 4 Fish notables: Jeter, frontman for the incoming new Marlins ownership group, ordered outgoing president David Samson to fire four notable (if ceremonial) "special assistants" in Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jeff Conine and Jack McKeon. Geez. Is Derek getting tips on public relations from Jeffrey Loria or what!? 

7. DONALD TRUMP: President declares war on sports, apparently: Trump blasted NFL players' anthem protests and uninvited Stephen Curry to the White House, after which LeSean McCoy called Trump an "asshole" and LeBron James called him a "bum." The good news? Feuding with sports stars is somewhat less dangerous than name-calling with maniacal dictators with hydrogen bombs.

8. PANTHERS: Cats' preseason underway: Florida played its third of six preseason games Sunday in Tampa as Oct. 6 regular-season opener looms. Remember all the hype and Stanley Cup bravado a year ago? Not now. Cats' betting over/under of 86 ½ standings points ranks a lowly 25th in 31-team NHL.

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis G.O.A.T has kid: The Palm Beach-based tennis superstar had her first child, a daughter she named Alexis Olympia. Cannot confirm that, based solely on bloodlines, Alexis is now the betting favorite to win Wimbledon in 2037.

10. WNBA: Sparks up on Lynx in Finals: It's defending champion L.A. Sparks up 1-0 in WNBA Finals over 2015 champ Minnesota Lynx, led by Miami-born league MVP Sylvia Fowles, who played at Gulliver Prep. Probably still won't watch, but at least I might think about it.

Missing the HB10 cut: FIU now 2-1. Butch Davis early frontrunner for Coach of the State ..... Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony, 33, to OKC Thunder. Who's next to swap unis in the Still Got Something Left Division? Dwyane Wade, you say? ..... Heat uniforms now bear advertising patches for Ultimate Software. Ugh. And ugly.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 19, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 81.9%. See season-debut results; plus Fins beat Chargers 19-17, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), the Jay Cutler Experience (Sunday column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins season! Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 2 pix, Collball Week 3, method to Kaaya's madness & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Quick-thoughts column off 19-17 win: Click on Lucky, But Maybe That's Justice to read. 

Sunday column: Cutler's Wild Ride: Are you ready, kids? Click on Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be Dull to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 81.9%: Results are certified for the first week of our blog's 10th season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they 81.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 19-17 victory at the Los Angeles Chargers in Miami's Irma-delayed season opener. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

Next poll: Sept. 24 (following game at N.Y. Jets)

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).

G1: DOLPHINS 19, @CHARGERS 17Final quick thoughts: The excuses were all lined up. Neat, right in a row. Hurricane Irma. A delayed opener. A quarterback new to the team. Practices moved across the country. Philip Rivers. A late distraction involving one of their own players, Lawrence Timmons, going AWOL on the eve of the game. The Miami Dolphins didn't any of those excuses. They did need some luck -- a narrowly missed 44-yard Los Angeles Chargers field goal in the last seconds -- but that seemed fitting, didn't it? The Dolphins endured a lot in the buildup to this season. Sunday? It felt like a reward. Quick takes? Trust this offense. No, 19 points isn't a lot, but all the J's showed up. New QB Jay Cutler was a sharp 24 for 33 for 23- yards and TD, a 101.8 passer rating. Jay Ajayi rushed 28 times for 122 yards. Jarvis Landry caught 13 balls for 78 yards. (Oh, and DeVante Parker was the deep threat we envisioned, and Kenny Stills caught a TD pass). This offense will percolate once everyone is comfy with it. The issue? Pass defense. Rivers sliced through Miami 31 of 39 for 331 yards and a TD. He led the game-winning late drive, but for the providence of an inexperienced kicker missing wide-right on a very makeable field goal. Bottom line? Yeah, the Dolphins were lucky to win in the end. But, after this week, it felt like this team sort of deserved that luck ..... 4Q: Dolphins win as Bolts missed last-second 44-yard FG! ... MIA 19-17 with 1:05 left on Parkey 54-yard FG ... MIA within 17-16, settling (again) for a short FG, mid-quarter ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-13 on 28-yard FG after after killer sack on 3rd down ... LAC back up 17-10 on Rivers-Gates hookup ... MIA 10-10 on Cutler 29-yard TD pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: If I told you Jay Cutler was 13-for-16, Jay Ajayi was 11-for-56 and Jarvis Landry had 8 catches, would you have imagined Miami trailing 10-3 at the half? Me neither. The big issues: Fins need to open up the offense. Second, Philip Rivers is having his way. Miami pass defense needs to be much better ..... 2Q: LAC 10-3 on Gordon 1-yard run ... LAC 3-3 on 41-yard FG ..... 1Q: Low-watt first quarter. Meaning dull ... MIA 3-0 on Parkey 30-yard FG ..... [Click on Week 2 Gems for all latest NFL picks] Thanks to Hurricane Irma, today's 4 p.m. kickoff is the latest Game 1 on the calendar that Miami will have played since 1977. It also will be the now-it-counts debut for new Dolphins QB Jay SdmiaCutler, in for injured Ryan Tannehill. Oh, and of course this will mark the Chargers’ first real game in L.A. since 1960, after 56 years in San Diego. That’s lots of wild cards tossing unusual unpredictability into the mix here. But the drama doesn't end there. Sunday morning came the news that veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons, upset over something, had G1essentially gone AWOL from the team and will not play today, Chase Allen starting in his place. That's doubly troubling. First, he's supposed to be a team leader as a major offseason addition. Second, the LB line was weak/thin to begin with. Philip Rivers' eyes must be wide as saucers, his smile just as wide. But I'm still hedging my bet with Bolts winning outright but Fins covering the bet-line as 3 1/2-point road underdogs. Miami figures to pound the ball with Jay Ajayi vs. a run-D that gave up 140 yards last week. That gives Miami a big, big upset shot. Bottom line, though, for me? Rivers is really good, and I won’t quite trust MIA's pass-stopping (or defense in general) until shown why I should. Also, think the Irma-caused time off, distraction and practice-schedule havoc will hurt and find the Fins a step slow as they work through the rust and catch up to real-season pace. The Timmons mess doesn't help. Dolphins have a load to overcome today. My pick: Chargers, 27-24.

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: Finally, the Fins ... and they win!: Thanks to Hurricane Irma and its after-effects the Dolphins' season opener Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers was Miami's latest Game 1 since 1977. Worth the wait? Miami needed luck of a late missed field goal to win, but after what this team had endured, that felt deserved.

 2. HURRICANES: Irma'd Canes set to resume season: We should be talking about that great Miami-Florida State game on Saturday. Except it got Irma'd. With one game at Arkansas State canceled and another at FSU postponed 'til Oct. 7, UM will finally resume its season this coming Saturday at home vs. Toledo after practicing all week in Orlando. Irma, could you be any more annoying!? Seriously.

3. MARLINS: Can Stanton still do it?: Reeling Fish have lost 16 of past 19 entering three-game home series vs. Mets starting tonight, after three hurricane-displaced "home" games in Milwaukee. (Thanks again, Irma!) But big question is if Giancarlo Stanton, stuck at 54 homers, can still rally to get to Roger Maris' steroids-free record of 61.

4. BASEBALL: Indians set mark for consecutive wins: Cleveland Indians fans haven't cheered a World Series champion since Lou Boudreau's 1948, but at least they have this. Their 22nd consecutive victory broke the MLB record of 21 set by the Chicago Cubs in 1935. Hmm. Cavaliers, now this. Is there hope yet for the Browns? Naahh!

5. PANTHERS: Cats open training camp; preseason on deck: The Cats opened their NHL training camp Friday and will play their first preseason games this Tuesday with a doubleheader in Nashville. It snuck up on us but now it's here. Hockey!

6. NASCAR: Road to Homestead has begun with playoffs: Chicagoland on Sunday hosted the first NASCAR playoff race, won by Martin Truex Jr., leading to the season finale at Homestead, with 16 drivers making it. Unfortunately, no Dale Earnhardt Jr., so no shot at a storybook finish to Junior's final season. 

7. HEAT: Miami locks up Richardson, readies for camp: While we were busy tracking hurricanes, the Heat signed guard Josh Richardson to a four-year, $42 million extension and open training camp next week. If they can bottle last season's second half, conference finals aren't out of question.

8. GATORS: Florida beats Tennessee on Hail Mary: The Gators beats Vols 26-20 when a last-second Hail Mary touchdown bomb broke a tie in Gainesville. Not sure if this'll be a great season for UF. But it was a great Saturday.

9. FIGHTING: Canelo, Golovkin in an exciting draw: We all hate ties, but last night's Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin draw in Las Vegas was about as exciting as indecision gets. Rematch. Cha-ching!  

10. FAU: Owls win first game for Lane Kiffin: FAU won at home 45-0 over Bethune-Cookman for Lane Kiffin's first win as Owls coach. Muted celebration, I hope. FBS teams that lose to bethune have to wear dunce caps for a week. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Two brothers featured in the Netflix series "Last Chance U" were charged in connection with a fatal stabbing. Pardon me while I try to feign surprise ..... Floyd Mayweather said of Donald Trump: "He speak like a real man." Mayweather? He speak like a real man intent on dropping the second 's' off the word 'speaks' ..... Adrian Peterson said of his Saints debut, "I didn't sign up for nine snaps." A.P. ties for the NFL lead in earliest complaint ..... Marshawn Lynch was fined for showing middle fingers to TV cameras. Or, did that go without saying?

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 9-18-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: The Marlins play a home game that's actually here!

2. Detroit at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.: Stafford vs. Manning on Monday Night Football.

3. Islanders at Rangers, 7 p.m.: Jonesing for hockey? It's the NHL preseason!

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 10, 2017

Judge wins Home Run Derby verdict but Marlins come up big; plus is HR Derby now bigger than All-Star Game? Poll. Vote now!; also, we grade the Big 4 All-Star events, latest Hot Button Top 10, your 'Body' verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 10. Classy. Chris Bosh with a full-page ad in Sunday's Miami Herald, a thank-you letter to Miami and Heat fans. 2) Know any Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): An homage to Bosh and Ichiro, ESPN Mag's 'Body' issue poll, Heat rebound with Olynyk, your Barcelona-Real Madrid vs. All-Star Game verdict, McCartney and Rod/Cyndi concert reviews & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Our All-Star Week columns:

Verdict to Judge, But Marlins Big in Home Run Derby: Column from Monday night's Derby. 

Home Run Derby Is King: Why the Monday power show has become bigger than even the All-Star Game.

Miami Loves Hosting, Just Has A Funny Way Of Showing It: We are definitely not a typical All-Star host.

There Should Be A Place For Ichiro: Honoring greats like Ichiro should be what All-Star games are about.

YOUR MIAMI ALL-STAR PRIMER: GRADING THE BIG FOUR EVENTS: It's been all build-up, fan fests and ancillary events. Until now. Sunday began the real stuff as the Miami All-Star Week festivities swung to Marlins Park and action on the field:

HomerunderbyTODAY: HOME RUN DERBY -- Yankee Aaron Judge beats Twins' Miguel Sano in final of 33rd annual HR Derby. Defending champ Giancarlo Stanton of Marlins bowed out in first round and so did teammate Justin Bour, but both with dramatic one-home losses. Judge beast Bour in a 23-22 epic. The HR Derby is more popular than ever and this year featured among its 10 participants the hometown hero Stanton, who wrecked the record book in winning last year, and the phenom Judge, the talk of 2017. It was a terrific show, and a living up to billing by Judge. Event grade: A. To many fans, this event is more anticipated than the ASG itself.

AllstargameTUESDAY: 88TH ALL-STAR GAME -- It's NL vs. AL (7:30 p.m., Fox) in the Midsummer Classic, just as it has been since the 1930s. Marlins have Marcell Ozuna as an NL starter and Stanton as a reserve. After 14 years with the winner determining home-field advantage in the World Series, the ASG is back to purely ceremonial this year. That's good and makes sense, although it does make the game less important -- all showcase. Mike Trout will miss the game injured and other guys of special interest to Miami (Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado ) didn't make the team, but the game won't lack for starpower. Event grade: B. Nobody really cares who wins. And the game MVP will be second-star of the week after the Derby champion.

AllstarsundaySUNDAY: FUTURES GAME / ALL-STAR LEGENDS & CELEBRITY SOFTBALL GAME --  Futures Game: The U.S. beat the World team 7-6 in the sparsely attended Futures Game featuring top minor-leaguers, some of whom might be playing in the Tuesday ASG in a few years. It was 19th annual event, with U.S. now leading the World 12-7. Marlins participants were 3B Brian Anderson and pitchers Tayron Guerrero and Jonathan Hernandez, all from Double-A. Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Christian Yelich and many future stars have passed through the Futures Game. The fun is trying to pick out the future stars from this one-game sample. Event grade: C-plus. You likely hadn't heard of any of the players, but still a fun  game with big meaning for the participants. All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game: This hit 'n giggle affair followed the Futures Game, and drew a much bigger, full crowd. Former players in it included Pudge Rodriguez, Andre Dawson and Rickey Henderson. "Celebrities" included Jamie Foxx and a bevy of not-really-stars such as Dascha Polanco, William Levy, Jencarlos Canela and others you've likely not heard of, either. Event grade: D. Old former players and mostly C-list celebs pretending to play softball. An adjunct of All-Star Week begging to be retired.

MIAMI ALL-STAR WEEK POLL: Just for fun, let's pretend the Television God (who can be mean) has decreed you can only watch Monday's Home Run Derby or Tuesday's All-Star Game -- but not both. You must choose. So go ahead. I dare you. Which interests you more? Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

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. MLB: Finally! Miami hosts All-Star Game: Seventeen years later -- Miami was awarded the 2000 game only to have it taken away -- Monday's Home Run Derby and Tuesday's 88th All-Star Game come to Marlins Park. It should be two nights of non-stop feelgood and cheering ... well, assuming they don't inadvertently introduce Jeffrey Loria.

2. HEAT: Team recovers admirably from Hayward loss: Miami suffered big free-agency loss with Gordon Hayward choosing Boston, but recovered nicely by getting the Celtics' Kelly Olynyk and also re-signing Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Wayne Ellington. Pat Riley was on the canvas, but not long, then the Godfather got up.

3. MARLINS: Hot Fish ride 10-game road trip into break: Marlins completed long road trip Sunday in San Francisco winning six of past eight games to close season's first half and head home to host All-Star festivities. After the break, with playoff contention still a longshot, we'll settle for a completion of the sale of the team, thank you.

4. CHRIS BOSH: Quietly, last of Big 3 officially departs Heat: It happened on Fourth of July in midst of Gordon Hayward's decision so got overshadowed, but the last of the Heat's Big 3 era officially ended this past Tuesday for the gentleman-athlete whose career was felled by blood clots. He said thanks to fans in a full-page Sunday letter in the Herald. Classy. Farewell, Chris.

5. MIAMI FC: Local club hosts big U.S. Open Cup match: OK, it isn't Barcelona-Real Madrid. But NASL club Miami FC hosts USL team Cincinnati this Wednesday night at FIU in the quarterfinal round of the U.S. Open Cup tournament. Event is in its 104th year. Um, it's kind of a big deal.

6. WIMBLEDON: Fortnight in London begins second week: Play resumes today. An American man last won Wimbledon in 2000 (Pete Sampras), and a U.S. woman not a Williams sister hasn't won since 1999 (Lindsay Davenport). With Serena out on maternity leave, anybody betting that's about to change?

7. NBA: Harden gets richest contract extension: Houston gave MVP runnerup James Harden a four-year extension (through 2022-23) worth $170, richest extension in league history. So his Mom was wrong, after all, when she said, "No company will ever hire you with that beard!"

8. PANTHERS: Forget 'Where's Waldo?' Where's Jaromir!: It has been a rocky Cats offseason marked by letting leading scorer Jonathan Marchessault go in the expansion draft and then parting ways with Jaromir Jagr. The ageless wonder remains unsigned, meaning he's a bargain. Bring back Jaromir! 

9. TOUR DE FRANCE: Signature cycling event nears midpoint: Monday is 10th of 23 daily Stage races. Not positive who's leading at the moment, but whomever it is, take a urine sample, please.

10. ESPY AWARDS: Manning to host event's 25th edition: ESPN's silver-anniversary ESPY Awards play out Wednesday night with Peyton Manning hosting. Betting over/under on variations on that seven-syllable "Nationwide is on your side" jingle: 1,065.

Missing the HB10 cut: Lonzo Ball had an awful summer-league debut for the Lakers. Cannot confirm rumors his signature sneakers have been marked down to $469.95 ..... Heat summer-league team won its first in Las Vegas Saturday after going 0-5 in Orlando. So apparently what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas ..... Amanda Nunes pulled out of UFC 213 because she was sick. Sick of getting kicked and punched, probably ..... Police first said Venus Williams was at fault in a deadly auto accident and then said she wasn't. Um, pretty bad mistake to make, cops! ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Todd Marinovich is making a comeback at age 48. Marinovich was most recently in the news when arrested on drugs while naked." ..... An old friend once observed that "99 percent of people look better with clothes on." That reminds me, ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual 'Body' issue just came out as the usual parade of ego-drenched athlete narcissism ..... Actual headline this week: "FBI investigated complaints that Bobby Knight groped women during visit to U.S. spy agency" ..... Countdown: 20 days 'til Barcelona-Real Madrid, a bigger event for Miami than even the All-Star Game, according to blog and Twitter polls by me ..... Answer: "He spent the Fourth of July in Ghana searching for his 'personal independence' and decrying the American holiday." Question: Why do NFL teams continue to not sign Colin Kaepernick? ..... Tom Brady is writing  a self-help book about conditioning and fitness. His main suggestion to others: Have incredible talent, become really rich, be exceptionally handsome and marry a supermodel ..... Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is accused of using a machine to stamp his autographs. That's terrible! Back in my day, star QBs had the decency to have the team trainer hand-forge their signature ..... On Thursday ESPN will debut a 30 for 30 documentary on the Mike and The Mad Dog radio show, perhaps the strongest indication yet they truly have run out of good ideas ..... The four-day X Games begin this Thursday in Minneapolis, answering the question, "The X Games are still around!?!"

POLL RESULT: THUMBS DOWN FOR RIDICULOUS 'BODY' ISSUE: We asked, "What do you think of ESPN The Magazine's annual 'Body' issue?" And "ridiculous" routed "great" by 53.4 percent to 28.8%. The other 17.8% were undecided.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-10-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Home Run Derby, 8 p.m.: Stanton defends title at Marlins Park in ASG co-headliner.

2. Heat vs. Washington, 4:30: Miami kiddies in another Vegas summer-league game.

3. Wimbledon, underway: Round of 16 matches as play resumed in London.

Select other recent columns: The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks: A farewell to Bosh. Heat Lose Twice On Hayward: Top free agent picks Boston. Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron: On Heat's fight for Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. Home Run For Miami: Loria selling Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 03, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring Heat and Hayward, Fish All-Star selections, farewell to Jagr. See who else makes it and what falls where; plus my Sunday column, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 3. Ready for the Fourth. I'll have a butt in the Egg! 2) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat chase Hayward in free agency with poll, your Serena-McEnroe verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column: Riley-Ainge animus the back-story to Heat free agency: LeBron James and Danny Ainge are the two men Pat Riley most wants to beat. Now, Riles must top one (for Gordon Hayward) for a chance to topple the other. Click on Riley Must Beat Ainge to Get to LeBron for my latest Sunday column.

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. HEAT: Free agency underway as Miami, Riley woo Hayward, now wait: Heat summer league play for rookies is underway in Orlando (Miami is 0-2) but nobody cares. It's free agency! Pat Riley season! No LeBron- or Durant-sized whales are changing teams this summer, so Heat has top-target Gordon Hayward as its priority. But Celtics want him, too, so Riley will have to out-duel his most disliked fellow executive, Danny Ainge, to get him. All await Gordo's big decision. Delicioso!

2. MLB: Ozuna, Stanton make it on Selection Sunday for Miami All-Star Game: Baseball on Sunday evening reveal its NL and AL starters and full rosters for next week's All-Star Game at Marlins Park, and two Fish made make it. Marcell Ozuna is in as a fan-vote starter, and Stanton made it as a reserve, or we'd have called the Snub Police to report a crime. Justin Bour is on the last-man-in ballot, so Miami could sneak in a third player.

3. PANTHERS: Cats busy to open NHL free agency, but lose Jagr: Doesn't get NBA attention, but hockey free agency also began Saturday. Florida Panthers targeted goal-scoring help in signing Russian winger Evgeni Dadonov among early moves, but also parted ways with Jaromir Jagr. At 45, Jagr is seeking a better deal elsewhere. Meaning, he could still be back.

4. MARLINS: Fish on 10-game road trip prior to break: Miami was on a four-game losing streak and 0-2 on this road swing before Sunday's win. This 10-game trip that will bring the season to the All-Star Break here. Meanwhile, looming ever closer: Jeffrey Loria's long-awaited and now imminent sale of the team to … somebody.

5. NBA: Winning the summer yet again: Steph Curry signs record deal with Golden State, which also gets Andre Iguodala back. Paul George to Oklahoma City. Chris Paul joins Houston. Blake Griffin stays with Clippers. Blockbuster summer already for the NBA. Might be for Miami, too, depending on what Gordon Hayward decides. 

6. WIMBLEDON: Williams sisters in news as fortnight begins: Bad week for Serena and Venus on doorstep of Wimbledon, which starts Monday. Serena, out on maternity leave, found herself enmeshed in that silly John McEnroe controversy over whether she could beat the 700th-ranked man. Worse: Venus, who's playing today, is being sued for allegedly causing an auto-accident death.

7. MIAMI FC: Local NASL team advances in U.S. Open Cup: Miami FC won again to reach quarterfinals of soccer's 104th annual U.S. Open Cup. Local lads will now take on Cincinnati of USL on July 12 at It's Still FIU Stadium To Me.

8. BOXING: Pacquiao loses in Australia: Manny lost his first fight in eight months in a controversial upset decision to Jeff Horn in Brisbane. Many thought Pacquiao actually won. Nonetheless, it may be time for PacMan to think about calling it quits.

9. SOCCER: Germany wins Confederations Cup final: Germany beat Chile 1-0 for the Confeds Cup title,a World Cup prep event. Speaking of international soccer, did you hear the great Lionel Messi just got married? I understand they were registered at Target.

10. COLLEGE BASEBALL: Gators win national title: Florida won College World Series to become only the fourth school to have won national titles in football, baseball and men's basketball. Wait. I work in Miami. Am I allowed to say that? 

Missing the HB10 cut: The Tour de France is underway. It was more interesting when it was wracked by scandal. Can we start a Lance Armstrong comeback rumor? ..... A die-hard Dolfan living in England got married in a Dolphins helmet, saying his vows through a facemask. So it is true. Being a Dolfan will drive you crazy ..... Team USA got clobbered 7-1 by New Zealand in America's Cup sailing. How great would it be if there arose a scandal in which the Kiwis were found to have illegally used outboard motors! ..... Upon re-signing Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers employees wore T-shirts that likened Griffin's influence to that of Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein. Which is ridiculous. What did those other guys ever to to earn Blake Griffin's company!? ..... ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual Body issue comes out this Wednesday. Dear Athletes: Modesty is a virtue, or hadn't you heard? ..... For the first time since 1988, ABC-TV this week revived the series, Battle Of the Network Stars, begging the question, "WHY!?!"

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 7-3-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at St. Louis, 7:15 p.m.: Fish move on in continuation of 10-game roadie.

2. Wimbledon, ongoing: First round matches on Day 1 from London.

3. Heat vs. Pacers, 5 p.m.: Miami rookies (0-2) play 3rd summer game in Orlando.

4. Tour de France, ongoing: Stage 3 of famed cycling event.

Select other recent columns: Riley Must Land Hayward Or Griffin to Keep Pace: Previewing Heat free agency. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt: Heat surprisingly drafting Bam Adebayo No. 1. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 25, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: See what falls where among Heat, Marlins, Panthers and others; also, your (surprising?) verdict on Bam Adebayo, The List (Heat 13s), HB Daily (Sun/Mon) & more

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

1) SUNDAY/MONDAY, JUNE 25-26. 2) Miss our latest Back In My Day? Click on Privileged Pets for the LeBatard Show podcast and scroll to around 51:30 mark. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat draft Bam Adebayor with poll, your preferred pick going in & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My column on Heat drafting Adebayo: Click on Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt for my column on the Miami Heat drafting Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo Thursday night. Most mock drafts and media experts see it as a "reach." John Calipari and Pat Riley disagree. I know where my benefit if doubt goes.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JUNE 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (early this week) 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. After a two-week vacation hiatus, we return with this week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami nabs Kentucky's Adebayo in NBA Draft: Most of the mock drafts and media experts are saying it was a “reach” for the Heat to take power-forward Bam Adebayo with the 14th pick. The combined resume' heft and expertise of John Calipari and Pat Riley politely disagree. Um, it seems pretty clear where the benefit of doubt should be going.

2. MARLINS: Fish continue big 10-game homestand: Miami in its 10-game homestand tries to avoid being 4-game-swept by the Cubs on Sunday and then moves on to three vs. Mets starting Tuesday, before 10 straight on the road brings us to All-Star Game Week at Marlins Park. Fish have been credible the past five weeks. Unfortunately those first six weeks of the season happened, too.

3. PANTHERS: Ouch. Cats let top scorer get away: Florida inexplicably let top scorer Jonathan Marchessault (30 goals last season) go to Las Vegas in NHL expansion draft, then traded Reilly Smith (40 goals past two years) in salary dump. This by a team that finished 23rd in scoring. Team wisely went offense in NHL Draft, at least. Dale Tallon better go get some more goals when free agency starts July 1.

4. NBA: Lonzo to Lakers in Draft, just like Dad wanted: UCLA's Lonzo Ball going second overall to the Lakers was the biggest national news in Thursday night's NBA Draft, much to the delight of his famous and obnoxious shoe salesman father, LaVar. Now -- and I mean this sincerely -- may LaVar please disappear and never be heard from again!

5. SAILING: America's Cup nears its crescendo: Reigning champion Oracle Team USA is on the ropes against Emirates Team New Zealand in the 35th America's Cup that ends Tuesday in Bermuda. Hot Button believes this event would be much quicker and more efficient if the boats would have outboard motors. But that's just us.

6. TIGER WOODS: “Professional help” latest chapter in saga: Following his recent DUI arrest the once-dominant Tiger, winner of 14 majors but none since 2008, announced he would seek “professional help,” which is broadly presumed to mean rehab for a pill addiction. I believe Woods officially now has more career controversies than major wins.

7. BIG3 BASKETBALL: Invented by the rapper Ice Cube, BIG 3 is 3-on-3, half-court pro summer basketball league that debuts Sunday in Brooklyn, featuring ex-NBA stars such as Allen Iverson, Mike Bibby, Chauncey Billups and Jermaine O'Neal, with coaches including Julius Erving and Ricky Barry. I'd call the venture “Has-Beens On Parade,” but that might be seen as mean.

8. SOCCER: Miami FC readies for U.S. Open round of 16: NASL club Miami FC has reached the final 16 in the U.S. Open Cup and will host MLS expansion team Atlanta United on Wednesday night at FIU Stadium. This event has been going on annually since 1914. Nice run by Miami.

9. COLLEGE BASEBALL: Gators make College World Series final two: Seminoles were eliminated but Florida Gators advanced to face LSU in best-of-three championship series. Final round starts Monday night in Omaha, where the UM Hurricanes are hell-bent to be next year in Jim Morris' final season.

10. TENNIS: Wimbledon next major on deck: Wimbledon begins next week (July 3), and the favorites tell you much about the state of tennis. Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are near-even on the men's side, while the women's field is wide open with Serena Williams on maternity leave. The she-fave? Karolina Pliskova, who has never won a major.

Missing the HB10 cut: ESPN The Magazine's ninth annual 'Body' issue is out next week, July 5. Official name of the Body issue: Narcissists On Parade ..... The NBA Awards Show on Monday finds Erik Spoelstra the only Heat finalist, but not a coach of the year favorite. I believe it may be a law that Gregg Popovich has to always win that award ..... The PGA Tour will start blood-testing players next season. "The Tiger Rule"? xx ..... West Palm's Brooks Koepka winning golf's U.S. Open last week was not nearly as interesting as the fact his actress-girlfriend Jena Sims appeared in Attack of the 50-Foot Cheerleader ..... Phil Mickelson split from his longtime caddie and the only people on Earth who cared were Phil, his caddie and golf writers ..... I'll hitchhike from Miami to Vegas if the pay-per-view nut for Mayweather-McGregor is less than $100. (Or, $99.99 to make you think you're getting a deal!)

POLL RESULT: CLOSE, BUT MOST HEAT FANS DON'T LIKE ADEBAYO PICK: We asked for your gut reaction to the Heat selecting Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo 14th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, and it was 56.4 percent overall disapproval vs. 43.6% approval. The favorable votes broke down as 28.3% "like it" and 15.2% "love it."

THE LIST: HEAT 13'S: New top draft pick Bam Adebayo will wear jersey No. 13 for the Heat. He'll be only the seventh player to do so, and only of those (Mike Miller) has played more than one season in Miami. Heats 13s, listed in order of regular-season points scored for Miami:

Player                        Years        Points    G/Avg.

Mike Miller                  2010-13    746      139/5.4

Kendall Gill                 2001-02    372       65/5.7

Shabazz Napier            2014-15    261       51/5.1

Alexander Johnson      2007-08     179       43/4.2

Luther Head                2008-09      43       10/4.3 

Jamal Robinson           2000-01       6        6/1.0

Bam Adebayo              2017-

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SUN-MON 6-25/26-17: Upcoming sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins homestand: Four-game Cubs series ends Sunday, then Mets visit.

2. BIG3 basketball: Allen Iverson, other NBA ex's in 3-on-3 league starting Sunday.

4. College World Series: Gators-LSU best-of-3 championship series starts Monday.

Select other recent columns: A 1-Man Mock Draft: My prediction for Heat's top pick. Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court: Return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch: On Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 22, 2017

NBA Draft night: Here's my Heat pick at 14th ... now your turn. Poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins camp/Panthers schedule notes, Cats lose big on gamble, Grenfell Tower charity video, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JUNE 22. Miss our latest Back In My Day? Click on Privileged Pets for the LeBatard Show podcast and scroll to around 51:30 mark. 2) Know any Dolfans? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Return of 'Random Evidence Of a Cluttered Mind' notes column, your Mayweather-McGregor verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Heat draft how'd-you-like-the-pick poll coming later tonight: In a separate, new blogpost,we'll give you the chance to weigh in on the Heat's No. 1 draft pick tonight just moments after the selection is made. Watch for it and vote!

Dolphins camp, Panthers schedules notes: Newly announced today: Miami Dolphins will open training camp on July 20 for rookies and July 26 for veterans and the full squad. Florida Panthers will open their regular season Oct. 6 at Tampa Bay and Oct. 7 at home, also vs. Tampa. Click on 2017-18 Cats for the full season schedule.

MY PICK FOR HEAT AT 14TH OVERALL TONIGHT: WAKE FOREST'S JOHN COLLINS. NOW IT'S YOUR TURN...: Click on A 1-Man Mock Draft for my latest column, on my prediction for the Heat's first-round pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft. Here is a condensed version of the column: I'm thinking big for the Heat. Literally. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra know the biggest hole on their roster and Jcollinsin their lineup remains the one left by power forward Chris Bosh’s erasure due to blood clots. The Heat’s greatest position need is a frontcourt complement to center Hassan Whiteside, and Miami should have a chance to get a good one the way this draft looks to shake out. As a hedge I must note that a marksman such as Duke guard Luke Kennard will tempt and is a possibility for the Heat, but our premonition stays strong with a big. Miami I believe would grab Gonzaga center Zach Collins quicker than you can say "the Heat is on the clock" if he falls to 14, but I don’t see Zach from ‘Zaga escaping the top 10. UCLA power forward T.J. Leaf would get a long look from Miami but he might be a bit of a reach at 14th. Miami also could have an intriguing decision with Duke power forward Harry Giles likely to be available to them, but his history of knee injuries makes him an awfully big risk to absorb. (I’d take him if the medical charts are unequivocally positive, a huge if, but -- after dealing for two-plus seasons with the Bosh medical drama -- I doubt the Heat will chance a first-round pick who requires a note from his doctor). So. Drumroll, por favor? With the 14th pick in the NBA Draft the Miami Heat select ... Wake Forest power forward John Collins. Call him the BAC, the Best Available Collins after ‘Zaga’s Zach. Unlike most top prospects, the 6-10 John Collins (pictured) played beyond his freshman season and it helped him hugely. Few players in college basketball improved more as a sophomore. Collins averaged 19.2 points on 62 percent shooting and also averaged 9.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks this past season. From Cardinal Newman High in West Palm Beach, Collins also led the entire NCAA in player efficiency rating at 35.93, and excelled in his pro workouts. Nation-leading efficiency at a need position? That sounds logical to me. But now it's your turn. This poll lists (alphabetically) the nine players in the Heat's range -- players who were seen as being drafted between 11th and 17th in either ESPN or Sports Illustrated's most recent mock drafts. From among them, you consider their talents and the Heat's needs and vote for the one you'd most like to see drafted tomorrow night. Ready, set ... vote!

PANTHERS LOSE BIG GAMBLE: In Wednesday night's NHL expansion-draft reveal the Florida Panthers lost big, as I feared they might. The new Las Vegas Golden Knights raided other teams' Marchessaultunprotected lists for one player each, and Florida has itself to blame for exposing and losing Jonathan Marchessault (pictured). He should have been protected after leading the Cats in scoring last season with 30 goals at age 26 -- Florida's first 30G man since 2008-09. So dumb for a team that ranked 23rd in scoring to risk losing a top gun like that. Also Wednesday, the Cats traded Reilly Smith (15 goals) for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick. Both issues had tinges of contractual factors; still, from an on-ice standpoint, that's 45 goals gone in an instant from a team without a surplus of offense. Two results of that moving forward: 1) Florida surely will go with a goal-getter with the 10th overall pick in Friday night's NHL Draft in Chicago. And 2) More reasons to try to pry disgruntled star Alex Ovechkin from Washington in a trade. Ovechkin loves Miami, and ESPN.com this month named Florida one of five viable possible suitors. Make it happen and the Panthers would have 1,323 combined career goals in Jaromir Jagr and Ovechkin, who'd be the Panthers' most bona fide goal threat since Pavel Bure circa 1999-01.

THE GRENFELL TOWER CHARITY SINGLE: The recent Grenfell Tower fire tragedy ravaged a 24-story apartment building of public housing in North Kensington in west London. The number of presumed fatalities has been placed at around 80, the deadliest fire in mainland Great Britain in more than a century. This is a charity single by dozens of music artists. Warning: It is emotional. If it does not draw a tear, check your pulse.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 6-22-17: Today's sports events of most interest to SoFla fans:

1. NBA Draft, 7 p.m.: Heat on clock with 14th overall pick in 1st round.

2. Chicago Cubs at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: First of four vs. reigning champions.

3. College World Series, 8 p.m.: TCU-Louisville in another elimination game.

4. Confederations Cup soccer, 2 p.m.: It's Germany vs. Chile.

Select other recent columns: Random Evidence: The Shame of Margaret Court , return of The Notes Column! Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch, on Mayweather vs. McGregor. No Parade In Sight: None of our Big 5 teams seems close to a championship. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace: Latest in Tiger Woods saga. Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. Also: History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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Twitter @gregcote