February 25, 2018

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Tight battle this week for No. 1. See who landed on top and what else falls where; plus Frank Caliendo & more

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

1) It's SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25. Saw Frank Caliendo perform last night. His Trump is spot-on, as you'd expect. All his impersonations are great, but my favorite by far continues to be John Madden. 2) The Dolfans in your life don't know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger still best show in golf, Panthers embrace Stoneman Douglas, incongruous buoyancy as Marlins open spring training, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Tiger, Marlins, Stoneman Douglas: Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed, on Woods playing the Honda. Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season and Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking?, as team opens spring training. And MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing, on the Stoneman Douglas tragedy.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 25): 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:

Hot1. GOLF: Tiger seven back entering Honda's final round: Somebody named "Luke List" is the Honda Classic leader at 7-under par entering today's final round at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, but nobody cares except Mrs. List. Fans will be out there wondering if Tiger Woods, at even par, can mount as Sunday rally as his comeback continues in his first South Florida appearance since 2014.

2. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Shock and pain still raw 11 days later:  Major companies are now disassociating from the N.R.A. over its support for assault weapons, and sports continues to lend support. Panthers showed a tribute video before Friday night's home game and Marlins wore 'SD' caps, while golfers at the Honda are wearing 'MSD" ribbons on their caps. Meanwhile, the Douglas kids lead the fight for change as the leaders balk.

3. OLYMPICS: U.S. 4th in medals as Winter Games wrap up: Norway dominated the medal count while the U.S. finished fourth in both total medals (23) and golds (9) at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. The host nation and enemy North Korea made peace for the Winter Games in a gesture of hope. Now North Korea may lapse back into its accustomed role as the crackpot nation led by a megalomaniac.

4. HEAT: Slumping Miami looking for home lift: Heat have lost eight of past 10 even with Saturday night's win over Memphis, but that began a stretch of seven games at home of the next eight as they hope to rise from eighth place in the East. This Thursday marks a visit by the Los Angeles Lakers. Remember, items prohibited from bringing into the arena include coolers, laser lights, noisemakers and Lonzo Ball. 

5. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as playoffs loom within reach: Florida has won two games in a row and nine of the past 12 and is now within five points of NHL playoff pace. And the streak comes as the Panthers have begun a stretch of 11 of the next 12 games being at home. Now or never, Cats.     

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women wrap up regular seasons: The 20-8 UM men finish Tuesday at No. 10 North Carolina and then next Saturday at home vs. Virginia Tech, while the 19-9 women end today at home vs. Va-Tech. Both Miami teams should get an NCAA Tournament invite, also strong showings in the ACC Tournament would erase any doubt. Jim Larranaga's guys especially are trying to catch back up to expectations, after once being 10-0 and ranked No. 6. 

7. MARLINS: Post-fire sale, Fish begin spring training 2-0: Miami is widely expected to be among the worst teams in baseball but has begun spring training with consecutive wins entering today's game vs. the Mets. "We're 2-0! See, I told you we'd be much better than everybody thought!" said absolutely no one.

8. JONATHAN MARTIN: Ex-Dolphin detained for threatening post: The saga of the Dolphins' Bullygate star gets weirder and weirder. The ex-Dolphin Martin was detained by Los Angeles  police and held in a mental health facility after a threatening post on social media depicted a gun, named accused bullies Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, and included the ominous message: "When you're a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge." Get this man some help. Please?

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Yahoo report offers details on FBI probe: The FBI probe of a recruiting sacndal in college basketball has overshadowed the season, now a Yahoo Sports report names more than 20 schools and 25 players involved. Miami Hurricanes are not implicated but current Heat player Bam Adebayo is named. It is a very serious report, or at least as serious as anything can be coming from a media outlet that calls itself Yahoo!

10. DOLPHINS: NFL Scouting Combine next step in draft prep: The Dolphins and every other team will avidly attend the five-day Scouting Combine starting this Wednesday in Indianapolis, a major step in teams' preparations for the April NFL Draft. I'd have the Combine ranked much higher in this week's HB10 but I just cannot muster all that much anticipation or excitement for watching a bunch of fat offensive linemen being timed in the 40-yard dash.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes baseball has lost four straight since a 2-0 start to season and today tries to avoid being swept at home by nemesis Florida. Jim Morris' final season has begin closer to a nightmare than a dream ..... U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu, who became first American woman to nail a triple axel at the Olympics, revealed to Cosmopolitan.com that she competed while on her period. "It’s really not that big of a deal," she said. "You just stick a tampon up there." Oy! G'night, everybody!"

Select other recent columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 19, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): After a week when tragedy overshadowed everything in sports; plus column on Derek Jeter's decimation of Marlins as spring training begins & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19. The Dolfans in your life don't know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Stoneman Douglas tragedy with column and GoFund Me page & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Derek Jeter's Marlins as spring training begins: He can spin it and try to justify it any way he wishes, but Derek Jeter's massive Marlins salary dump is a betrayal of public trust. The Marlins are tanking because the new owners have put the bottom line above the product on the field and above the paying customers. To read my latest column, click: Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season

My column on Stoneman Douglas shooting tragedy, ICYMI: Seventeen were killed last week in a shooting spree at Parkland's Stoneman Douglas High carried out by a coward with an assault weapon, a deranged former student who'd been expelled. Something like this, by the way, is why I, unlike most sports writers, never use words like 'tragedy' or 'disaster' to describe a knee injury or an awful season. This is a tragedy. For my column, click: Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

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:

Hot1. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Mass shooting at local high school kills 17: Seventeen innocents were murdered at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in a mass shooting that stunned the sports world as much as it did the rest of us. The perpetrator: A 19-year-old former student with an assault weapon who is now in custody. Another tragedy wrought by a deranged mind with a military-grade killing machine. The United States shames itself by continuing to allow these weapons to be sold.

2. HEAT: Slumping Miami hanging on at All-Star break: Heat has lost seven of past eight, is 1-2 since Dwyane Wade's return and has fallen to 8th place in the East. All-Star Weekend in L.A. came as a welcome diversion, with Goran Dragic in the main game Sunday, scoring two points in 11 minutes off the bench in a 148-145 Team LeBron win, after Wayne Ellington did Saturday's 3-point contest. Heat are off 'til Friday, at New Orleans.

3. MARLINS: Fire-sale Fish begin spring training for real Monday: What's left of the Miami Marlins opens spring training for real with Monday's first full-squad work up in Jupiter, with the first spring game only four days later. And -- other than new owner Derek Jeter being a colossal disappointment by trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in a massive salary dump -- it's been a great offseason!

4. OLYMPICS: Winter Games into final week in South Korea: Entering Monday's play Team USA was tied for fourth in gold medals won and tied for sixth in total medals won. Are we OK with that, or are we jingoists crestfallen because America should be No. 1 in everything and at all times?

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men's program cleared in FBI probe: Canes men have lost three straight and are back out of the Top 25 after Saturday's home loss to Syracuse. The good news? The UM program -- linked before season to FBI national probe of recruiting corruption -- went a long way to being cleared when charges were dropped against the AAU director accused of funneling money from Adidas to persuade one player to sign with Miami. Wonder if FBI sent Jim Larranaga an "Oops. Sorry, our bad" Hallmark card?

6. PANTHERS: Hot Cats inching up in playoff chase: The good news? Panthers have won seven of past eight games after Saturday's win at Calgary and have within six points of playoff pace. The bad news? Six down is still a lot, and 12th in the East means a lots of teams to still climb over with only 26 games left.

7. UM BASEBALL: Jim Morris' final season underway: It was Play ball! Friday in a season-opening weekend home series for 24th-ranked Canes baseball vs. Rutgers -- UM taking two of three games. Miami is trying to return to NCAA playoffs after missing last year for the first time in four decades. This is the 25th and last season for Morris, who'll then retire. His Canes teams have reached 13 College World Series and won two. Three would be a charm for the coach in the No. 3 jersey.

8. NASCAR: Vroom! Dillon takes Daytona 500 in season opener: Austin Dillon won Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 -- leading only on the final lap. The emotional tug came from the season starting without retired Dale Earnhardt Jr., and from Danica Patrick running in her final Daytona 500.

9. HURRICANES: UM football sets spring dates: Hot off a national top-10 recruiting class, Canes announced spring practice would commence March 20 -- highlighted by Malik Rosier trying to fend off challengers in an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Meanwhile, coach Mark Richt will host an "All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experience" at Hard Rock Stadium on February 24. Visit AllProDad.com for more.

10. SOCCER: Champions League matches continue: The 32-team UEFA Champions League continues toward its May conclusion with matches Tuesday and Wednesday including club giants Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United. You are following this avidly or not at all. No in-between, sorry.

Missing the HB10 cut: The weekend "Monster Truck Jam" wraps up Sunday at Marlins Park. Turns out it looks even more ridiculous in person than it does on TV ..... Headline: 'Arizona male cheerleader booted from arena for heckling Arizona State during basketball game.' Ah, sportsmanship! ..... Fox News host Laura Ingraham blasted LeBron James for his criticism of Donald Trump, essentially tell LeBron to "shut up and dribble" just like the president's aides told her to.

POLL RESULT: OPINIONS OF JETER 'VERY UNFAVORABLE': We asked, "What is your impression of the job Derek Jeter has done so far as CEO of the Miami Marlins?" And it was 75.58 "very unfavorable." the other three categories -- very favorable, somewhat favorable and somewhat unfavorable -- all tied with 8.14%.

AccordinionDEAR GREG...: "Dear Greg, Your blog's OK but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of a street musician playing the accordion while dressed like a giant creepy rodent-type thing and staring menacingly at the camera. Thank you." Dear Reader, I would but where on Earth am I going to find something like that!? Please be a little more reasonable with your requests in the future.

Select other recent columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 13, 2018

The new 'Back In My Day' video (Strange Signs!); plus LeBron wins in Cavs' mega-trade, but Heat won, too. My column; also, latest Hot Button Top 10, our D.Wade welcome-back trilogy, your Winter Olympics verdict & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13. The Dolfans in your life may not know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our ultimate franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane Wade returns to Heat, rating Hurricanes' Top 10 recruits, Winter Olympics poll & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': STRANGE SIGNS!: The latest installment in our BIMD series, from today's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNU:

LEBRON FLEXED HIS POWER AND WON AGAIN ... BUT SO DID THE HEAT: As usual, in-charge LeBron James won big in last week's Cleveland Cavaliers mega-trade. He gets a better team for another run to the NBA Finals. He gets a few months to decide if it's good enough to make him stay. And as a bonus he gets to put a smile on best buddy Dwyane Wade's face. My latest column: Click LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami to read.

Wade3HOMECOMING: THE DWYANE WADE TRILOGY: Dwyane Wade's sudden, unexpected and warmly received return to the Miami Heat by trade this week delighted South Florida. The news was all-ways good. Good for Wade. Good for the Heat. Good for Miami and its fans. Good from an emotional view. And good from a basketball standpoint, too. I responded to the big reunion with three columns: ICYMI, click Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night for my column from the arena Friday night as emotion and applause enveloped No. 3. Click Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 for my middle column on role Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra envision. And click Welcome Home, D.Wade for my initial column reacting to Thursday's trade.

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

Hot1. HEAT: Dwyane Wade returns!: It wasn't a basketball game it was a love-in as Dwyane Wade returned to the Heat after 1 1/2 seasons away and estranged from the club. He scored only three points in his homecoming game but it sounded like 30 as Miami fans showed No. 3 the love. Welcome back, D.Wade. After all, the 3-0-5 starts with what number again?

2. HURRICANES: Mark Richt, UM score top-10 recruiting class: Canes football scored a National Signing Day bounty of 23 players that was ranked No. 8 in the nation by both ESPN and recruiting bible 247sports.com. That's the good news. The bad? One of the schools ranked even higher is the powerhouse team UM must catch in the ACC: Clemson.

3. MARLINS: Decimated Fish prepare to open spring training: The Marlins held their annual FanFest at the stadium Saturday, although we'd call it SadFest after a Derek Jeter fire sale that plundered the roster of its four biggest stars. Now spring training in Jupiter begins this Wednesday with pitchers and catchers reporting. The season outlook is bleak. And that's the positive spin.

4. OLYMPICS: Winter Games underway in South Korea: Curling, skeleton, frostbite -- all of the wintry sports we love are back as the world competes in Pyeongchang. U.S. speedskater Shani Davis skipped the Opening Ceremony after losing a coin flip to be flag bearer. Ah, sportsmanship! 

5. PANTHERS: Erratic Cats still a playoff longshot: Florida has won four of its past five games as it begins a five-game road trip tonight in Edmonton, but the recent hot streak -- OK, tepid, at least -- has not repaired the season outlook. The Panthers are nine points off playoff pace and will need one of Al Michaels' miracles on ice to reach the NHL postseason.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes prepare to host No. 2 Virginia: Jim Larranaga's guys can't stand good fortune. They finally climb back into the Top 25 and then lose one they shouldn't  have to Boston College Saturday. Now they host No. 2 Virginia on Tuesday in a gauge-game that will tell us how good the 18-6 Hurricanes really are.

7. SOCCER: Miamian elected president of U.S. Soccer: Carlos Cordeiro, 61, of Miami Beach, was named new president of U.S. Soccer, and is the first Hispanic in the role. Considering the U.S. men's national team men just embarrassingly failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup, he has his work cut out. 

8. NBA: Countdown 6 days 'til All-Star Game: The NBA All-Star Game is next Sunday in Los Angeles, and it'll be Team LeBron James vs. Team Steph Curry in a game sure to include no defense whatsoever. Last year the Western Conference won, 192-182, the highest-scoring ASG ever. The Washington Generals play better D against the Harlem Globetrotters.

9. UM BASEBALL: Jim Morris' final season on deck: Opening Day for Canes baseball is this coming Friday, and it's the final season for longtime coach Jim Morris before retiring. Last year UM's decades-long streak of NCAA Tournament appearances ended. Let's see if Morris can fashion a proper exit for himself. Omaha, anyone?

10. TENNIS: Serena commits to Miami Open: The tournament starts March 19 in its final time on Key Biscayne before moving to Hard Rock Stadium, and the top men and women in the world will be here. That will include new mom Serena Williams in her first major tournament since giving birth five months ago. She could play while holding the baby and still win. 

Missing the HB10 cut: The new NASCAR season begins next Sunday with the Daytona 500. Emotional highlight? How about the final Daytona ride for Danica Patrick? Few athletes have ever been more popular with less winning. That's a compliment. Sort of ..... Everybody seems to think the Patriots dynasty is finished. Well, I should say everybody except the millions whose early bets on next season have made New England the Super Bowl favorite. Again ..... Philadelphia held its championship parade for the Eagles. Really slow parade, though, because all of the players were riding in overturned cars ..... Boston sportswriter Ron Borges catching a lot of heat by being duped into a false story. How about a little heat, please, for the idiot who perpetrated the hoax? ..... There will be a Monster Jam truck event next weekend at Marlins Park. Those are the stupid-big trucks on enormous tires that bounce over dirt hills, the curious popularity of the event verifying what P.T. Barnum said about there being a sucker born every minute.

POLL RESULT: INTEREST IN WINTER OLYMPICS IS LUKEWARM: We asked what best describes your interest level in the Winter Olympics, and results were widely split. It was 35.58 percent "moderate," 30.77% "low," 20.19% "uninterested" and 13.46% "keen." That's low-or-non edging keen-to-moderate by 50.96% to 49.04%.

Select other recent columns: Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last. Dear Canton: Call Zach. 7-7-7. Also: The Historic Super Bowl the NFL NeedsExploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamA Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins PegasusThe Upside Of a Fire SaleAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameCanes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 08, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's Alabama-Georgia in Monday title game: Alabama is a small favorite in College Football Playoff's all-SEC championship, despite it being held in Atlanta, a home game for Georgia. Crimson Tide are in CFP final for third straight year but, for a change, Nick Saban might not be the least popular man in the stadium, because President Donald Trump plans to attend.
 
2. NFL: Four pretenders out, eight teams left as Super Bowl Tournament begins: Sayonara, Chiefs, Bills, Panthers and Rams. Nice barely knowin' ya. NFL playoffs are down to eight. Meantime ESPN reported a rift among Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady and suggested the empire may be crumbling. Um, the No. 1-seeded Pats, off a playoff bye, are Super Bowl favorites. Again. Oh to have such problems!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 02, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 7.7% final season approval; plus Happy New Year!, Fins fall in finale 22-16 to end season 6-10, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Hny1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 1. HAPPY NEW YEAR! May it be a great one for you and everyone you love. Need one more gift for the Dolfans in your life? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) I was honored during Saturday's Orange Bowl game with the 2017 OB Edwin Pope Media Award. Click HERE for the story. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose Orange Bowl to Wisconsin with CSM poll, thank you OB Committee & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My UM-Wisconsin Orange Bowl column, CSM vote in: Click HERE for my game column from stadium on Saturday night's 34-24 Canes loss to Wisconsin in 84th Orange Bowl. See previous blogpost for results in latest and season-finale Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

Season-ending DSM poll online, too: Click HERE to read our postgame thoughts and to vote online.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 7.7%: Results are certified in the latest and season-ending installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 7.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 22-16 Dolphins home loss vs. the Buffalo Bills putting Miami's final season record at 6-10. 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. Because this was the final poll, I suggested you give added weight to the season as a whole. 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)

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)

G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)

G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)

G9: .5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)

G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)

G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)

G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)

G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)

G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)

G15: 5.7% (following 29-13 loss at Kansas City)

G16/season final: 7.7% (following 22-16 loss vs. Buffalo)

Yearly DSM Results: 2017--7.7% (following 6-10 season); 2016--76.2% (following 10-6/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).

G16: BUFFALO AT DOLPHINS: MIAMI TRYING TO END A ROTTEN YEAR WITH A FORCED SMILE: Click HERE for our postgame thoughts ..... Original postNine of the 12 NFL playoff tickets have been punched entering this final all-Sunday weekend of the regular season, and six teams remain alive for the remaining three spots. Alas, the Dolphins are not among the halves, relegated instead to the dubious incentive of trying to avoid what Bufmiawould be only the franchise’s seventh 10-loss season since 1970. Another sad, better-than-nothing incentive: The 6-9 Fins playing spoiler in the 4:25 CBS game to 8-7 Buffalo’s (faint) hopes. To reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999 the Bills must beat Miami and either have the Ravens lose or have the Chargers and Titans both lose. Got that? How fitting the Dolphins would find themselves positioned as spoilers. The entire season has looked, felt and smelled spoiled. Rotten. It was back to mediocrity, as if the aberration of last year’s playoff season never even really happened. Give coach Adam Gase credit for not sugar-coating, as when he said Thursday, simply (and accurately): “Nobody has done anything great. We’ve got a lot of work to do.” Sunday almost certainly will mark the farewell appearance for quarterback Jay Cutler, the pricey one-year rental who, like the entire team, had too few solid performances interspersed amid the prevailing erratic underperforming. Buffs beat Fins 24-16 only two weeks ago. With little cause but a hunch, I see Miami, a 2 1/2-point underdog, finishing strong with a home upset over a Bills squad that is only 2-5 away. So Miami continues the long Bison playoff drought, at least. Hey, it’s better than nothing … albeit barely. My pick: Dolphins, 23-17. [Click Week 17 Gems for all our season-ending NFL picks].

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. HURRICANES: UM ends year of progress with loss in hometown Orange Bowl game: Tenth-ranked Canes were home underdogs to No. 6 Wisconsin Saturday in the 84th Orange Bowl game and fell 34-24. Three straight losses ended UM's year, but a first 10-win season and first OB invite since 2003 made it a season of progress toward the destination: Back. (Click HERE for our column from the game).
 
2. COLLEGE PLAYOFF: Last four in CFP semifinals on Monday: It's No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl today and then No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar in College Football Playoff play-ins to reach the championship game. Oddly, both lower-seeded teams are slight betting favorites. College fans at least can agree on this: Everybody outside of Tuscaloosa hates Nick Saban.  
 
3. DOLPHINS: For Fins, a season of regression mercifully expires: Miami hosted the Buffalo Bills Sunday to wrap up a disappointing, injury-wracked, no-playoffs season with a 22-16 defeat. The good news, Dolfans? It very likely was the last time in a Fins uniform for the $10 million rental with the bargain-bin results, Jay Cutler. 
 
4. HEAT: Miami warms up, gets on playoff pace: It's still early, yeah, but Heat as of today are on playoff pace as the eighth East seed -- and only 1 1/2 games from being the fourth seed, which would mean home-court advantage in the first round. Hey, in the post-Big 3 era, you seize optimism when you can.
 
5. PANTHERS: Cats finally showing signs of life: The Florida Panthers, who'd struggled most of the season, have won a season-best five straight games entering a five-game road trip starting Tuesday. Previous long win streak had been two. Aberration? Or start of a happy new year?
 
6. MARLINS: Fire-sale Fish shopping Yelich, Realmuto: Miami reportedly is "listening" to offers for left fielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto in new owner Derek Jeter's apparent continuing effort to do the impossible and make us all miss Jeffrey Loria.
 
7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men win ACC opener: No. 15 Miami men improved to 12-1 with a 67-53 win at Pitt in their ACC opener. Meanwhile the 10-3 Canes women had won five straight entering Sunday's home day with Duke. 
 
8. NFL: Black Sunday for coaches: As NFL regular season ends today, segueing to playoffs, a handful of head coaches likely are working their final games. Meanwhile reports are the Oakland Raiders are trying to lure Jon Gruden from the comfort of the broadcast booth with partial ownership. He's gone.

9. BASEBALL: Astros' Altuve named Athlete of Year: Associated Press named champion Astros star Jose Altuve its male athlete of year. The best news in that? Runnerup Tom Brady and third place LeBron James lost at something.   

10. TENNIS: Serena makes her comeback, sort of: Serena Williams played her first match since her pregnancy and having a baby girl, losing in an exhibition. I mean, that had to be tough, holding a racket in one hand and a nursing baby in the other!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cris Cyborg beat Holly Holm to retain her title in UFC 219, challenging us to again take seriously an athlete who answer to "Cyborg" ..... Herald sports columnist Greg Cote (hey, wait, that's me!) won the 2017 Orange Bowl Edwin Pope Media Award. The previous sentence was completely gratuitous. But it is my damned blog, after all.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 26, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.7%; plus our annual Christmas video starring me, Jeter, Smokin' Jay and 2 others; also, Miami out of playoff hunt with 29-13 loss at KC, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Merryc1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26. Hope you all had a wonderful and Merry Christmas! Need a late gift for the Dolfans in your life? Not too late. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and buy my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) Sorry we haven't had as many general sports columns lately. Burning a slew of leftover vacation time this month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 picks, FIU loses bowl game, your Saddest Fans verdict & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Xmas17OUR ANNUAL MERRY CHRISTMAS VIDEO: This year I got together with four of my closest friends -- Derek Jeter, Mark Richt, Hassan Whiteside and Smokin' Jay Cutler -- to make my annual holiday video. Click HOHOHERE to watch. Enjoy!

FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM DOLPHINS' PLAYOFF-ELIMINATING LOSS AT KANSAS CITY: 1) Miami mathematically, scientifically, sociologically and philosophically was eliminated from NFL playoff contention, and it felt like a humane bullet ending the suffering of a writhing racehorse. The funny thing is, the Dolphins still would have been in contention entering the final week of the Gaseaseason had they won, because the Bills and Titans both lost Sunday. But you'd have to be a pie-eyed Dolfan wearing aqua and orange face paint to not see this was not a playoff-caliber Fins team or a season that deserved a postseason reward. 2) The Dolphins were their own worst enemy Sunday -- a persisting symptom of mediocre and bad teams. Miami had two turnovers to KC's none -- balls stripped from Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills after catches -- and had 11 penalties for 75 yards in addition to shoddy tackling. 3) Jay Cutler began very strong but petered out badly, starting out 11-for-15 on accuracy but going 8-for-23 after that. And Miami was a miserable 0-for-8 on third-down conversions, which is on either Cutler or the play-calling. There were sparks on offense, such as Jakeem Grant's four catches for 107 yards and a TD, but 13 points is 13 points. Not good enough. 4) The defense, despite having Ndamukong Suh, Came Wake and Reshad Jones, continues to be not consistent enough or good enough. Sunday Alex Smith threw for 304 yards, and Miami was overmatched by KC's weapons Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. All over the field, the Dolphins do good things sporadically, but not with any reliability or regularity. 5) Always next year, right? OK, the Dolphins have given you a lump of coal for Christmas, now we are giving you a chance to vent, in the latest Dolphins postgame poll. Ready? Go!

1aa1adsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: 5.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 5.7 percent overall  approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 29-13 Dolphins loss at the Kansas City Chiefs putting Miami's season record at 6-9 and eliminating the team from playoff contention. 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 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
Click on DSM to read our postgame thoughts and vote in the DSM poll online. 
 
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)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)
G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)
G15: 5.7% (following 29-13 loss at Kansas City)
Next/season-final poll: Dec. 31 (following game vs. Buffalo)

G15: DOLPHINS AT KANSAS CITY: PLAYOFF HOPES HANGING ON BY A (FRAYING) THREAD ... AND SNAP: Final: Kansas City 29, Miami 13. See our postgame thoughts above ..... 4Q: KC 29-13: Butker 49-yard FG ..... KC 26-13: Butker 29-yard FG ..... 3Q: KC 23-13: Butker 21-yard FG ..... Halftime thoughts: Credible performance thus far for Miami, down 20-13 at half, especially offensively. Jay Cutler has been pretty sharp (169 yards) and getting ball into Jakeem Grant's hands (3 catches, 101 yards) has provided a spark. Defensively, though, Miami having trouble containing KC's big weapons Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. Bills and Titans each are tied at the half. Both must lose today, and Miami must win, or Fins will be eliminated from playoff hunt ..... 2Q: KC 20-17: Butker 32-yard FG ..... MIA 13-17: Grant 65-yard pass from Cutler ..... KC 17-6: Hunt 1-yard run ..... MIA 6-10: Parkey 28-yard FG ..... KC 10-3: Kelce 9-yard pass from Smith ..... 1Q: MIA 3-3: Parkey 44-yard FG ..... KC 3-0: Butker 31-yard FG ..... Landry loses fumble after catch on opening drive. That's why losing teams are losing teams ..... Original post: ’Tis the season for the head to explode with NFL playoff scenarios, but it ain’t that difficult, folks. MiakcThree things must happen Sunday for Miami to remain alive in wild-card contention: The Dolphins (6-8) must win Sunday's 1 p.m. game, and the Titans and Bills both must lose. That’s it. (Yes, it would also benefit Miami if the Raiders and Chargers both lost, but that isn’t absolutely essential in Week 16). A problem for Fins’ chances and hope is that Kansas City (8-6) also needs this game. The Chiefs clinch a playoff spot with a win here (or an unlikely loss by Chargers), but a KC loss could create a very precarious spot, so the home team has much to play for here. A computer model I saw gave Miami a 3.1 percent likelihood of reaching the postseason so keep those hopes reigned in, Dolfans! Unfamiliarity is at play in this game. This is only these teams’ seventh meeting in the past 20 years, lending a shade of unpredictability to what might happen. But Miami has not been great traveling this season (2-5 away) and Chiefs have been stout at Arrowhead (5-2), and there are other reasons why K-City is a big 10 1/2-point favorite. One is that there is very little about the Dolphins to trust and rely on starting with erratic Jay Cutler. Another is that Alex Smith has a ton of dangerous weapons led by RB Kareem Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce, and it would not surprise me to see the Dolphins defense overwhelmed. I hate to play Grinch. I really do. Wish I could leave an upset win under the tree with a bow on it. But I’m afraid a victory by Miami here feels decidedly less likely than a blowout loss. My pick: Chiefs, 34-16. [Click Week 16 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 25): 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: Richt, UM hit jackpot in early signing period: Canes' Orange Bowl date with Wisconsin isn't for another week (Dec. 30), but UM was making news again welcoming a bounty of talent during NCAA's first-ever early recruiting period. Five-star commitments in RB Lorenzo Lingard and WR Mark Pope lead an offense-rich class that won the state and was ranked No. 7 nationally by  ESPN.com. In the continuing search for signs and proof that The U is "back," this was the latest.
 
2. MARLINS: The circus and folly of Jeter's "town hall" meeting: It was perfect and necessary and it meant little. New Fish boss Derek Jeter came out of hiding to hear season-ticket holders vent about his trading away everybody they care about. It gave the appearance of openness and transparency without actually being either. Ridiculous highlight: "Marlins Man" (attention-seeking missile Laurence Leavy) asking Jeter, "Do you know who I am?" Then Jeter saying "nah" to an invite to ride in Leavy's "Marlinsmobile."  
 
3. DOLPHINS: Playoff hopes expire in loss at Kansas City: The Dolphins were a dreary 6-8 but still faintly alive, needing several results to fall just right to sneak into the playoffs -- the first prerequisite a road win over the heavily favored favored Chiefs on Sunday. Did they have a chance? I'll answer that rhetorical with this one: Might you cash the winning Lotto ticket? Safety Reshad Jones was Miami's only Pro Bowl selection, and I suspected his defense would be overmatched against KC's varied offensive arsenal. I was right: 29-13.       
 
4. HEAT: Unlikely victory at Boston triggers renewed hope: Heat has nudged up over .500 (at 17-16) and climbed to the edge of playoff pace, including an unlikely, hope-renewing 90-89 win against the mighty Celtics in Boston. Unlikely? Miami got a career-high 32 points from ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk with the injury-decimated Heat barely having enough players to compete. I mean, how impressive was it to see 72-year-old Pat Riley ditch the Armani suit and slip on those '70s short-shorts for some quality minutes!
 
5. UM BASKETBALL: No. 6 Canes lose first, prepare for ACC schedule: Jim Larranaga's No. 6-ranked basketball Canes are 10-1 after upset loss to New Mexico State 63-54 Saturday night in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The real games -- the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule -- begins Dec. 30 at Pitt. Even with the first loss, considering the season began with the cloud of UM's reported implication in that national FBI recruiting probe, the Canes have found the perfect diversion and distraction: Winning.
 
6. FAU / FIU: Opposite bowl results end winning seasons: Lane Kiffin's FAU Owls clobbered Akron 50-3 in the Boca Raton Bowl to finish 11-3, while Butch Davis' FIU Panthers got clobbered by Temple 28-3 in the Gasparilla Bowl to end 8-5. Congrats to both for only the third bowl season in each's 14 years at the FBS level.
 
7. PANTHERS: Fire on ice! Cats win third in a row!: Florida has won three straight games for the first time all season but still is only 15-21 and seven point s off NHL playoff pace, and ranked 29th (of 31) in ESPN's NHL power rankings. Lots of young, rising talent paints the picture of an underachieving team, and three in a row needs to be a start, not an aberration.

8. SOCCER: And it's another in the 'El Clasico' series: Historic rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid faced off again Saturday in the latest El Clasico matchup, with Barca winners in a 3-0 rout. Yes, the rivalry's intensity preceded them and will go on without them, but, admit it: El Clasico will pale when its centerpiece is no longer Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo.

9. VINCE MCMAHON: WWE leader explores new football league: McMahon reportedly has invested $100 million into the startup of a "new XFL" football league to rival the NFL. (Wonder how long he'd been wrestling with the idea?) No date has yet been scheduled for the announcement the venture has been scrapped and will never happen.

10. BASKETBALL: Two ex-Heat among Hall of Fame candidates: Favorites for 2018 induction are thought to be Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Ray Allen. In addition to Allen, another former Heat player among contenders is Tim Hardaway. What, they're only letting guards in from now on?

Missing the HB10 cut: Darryl Strawberry revealed he used to have sex during games, between innings. Thank goodness for those last two words. I was picturing him doing it in right field ..... An Alabama radio station plays only songs Nick Saban likes. [Your punchline goes here] ..... LaVar Ball is forming a Big Baller league for high school grads. Um, I think there's already one of those. It's called "college basketball" ..... And in today's title match: An NBA player who had a tractor trailer drive into his swimming pool vs. a former NBA player who found burglars had stolen his toilet ..... Former Heat No. 1 pick Michael Beasley has resurrected his career as a valuable role player for the Knicks. Over/under on the love affair lasting? Five more weeks ..... David Beckham is now in line to have his Miami expansion team make its Major League Soccer debut in 2020, or seven years after the bid began. World Wars I and II didn't take as long ..... Jaguars fans are shipping garbage cans to Texans' Jadeveon Clowney after he called QB Blake Bortles "trash." I'm not sure what's more surprising: That Bortles is having a good season. Or that there are Jaguars fans ..... UFC 219 featured Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm. Now what were the odds a fighter would luck to have the surname Cyborg!? ..... NFL fined Seahawks $100,000 for ignoring concussion protocol to keep Russell Wilson in game. That's cheating! Who they think they are, the Patriots? ..... R.I.P., Dick Enberg, 82. If he doesn't make your sports-broadcasting Mount Rushmore, get a bigger mountain.

 
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Twitter @gregcote

December 20, 2017

A few thoughts on Jeter's Marlins 'town hall' meeting; plus should fans of Dolphins, Heat, Marlins or Panthers be saddest? Poll. Vote now; also, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald QB rankings, Shameless Book Plug, FAU goes bowling & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20. See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. Not pretty. 2) Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It for our most recent general column. Sorry we haven't had as many lately. Burning a slew of leftover vacation time this  month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fizzle in Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Nobody cares about the Pro Bowl and I won't pretend to, but I will say Ndamukong Suh should have joined Reshad Jones as a Dolphins selection." -- Greg Cote 

A FEW THOUGHTS ON JETER'S MARLINS 'TOWN HALL': Happily, I did not attend the Derek Jeter "town hall" Q&A session with Marlins season-ticket holders last night, but have spoken with Jetertownhallfolks who were there, have read the accounts and would share a few thoughts. First, it was smart of Jeter to do, and and necessary. He has been the sniper-owner, making unpopular deals from a safe bunker and in hiding. Last night, he showed his face. It was a start. Second, fans need a forum to vent, to voice displeasure. It was a win-win for Jeter because there would be the appearance of openness and transparency without there actually being any. Jeter said a lot without saying much. No details of the master "plan" were shared. I did find interesting that Jeter justified the Giancarlo Stanton deal by emphasizing the Marlins gained $260 million in contract relief to help the club move forward. Hmm. Wouldn't/shouldn't saving $260M on Stanton have allowed the club to then not trade Marcell Ozuna, and not consider trading Christian Yelich? Shouldn't that $260M "saving" be put back into the team by either using it to keep the best remaining players or to be a major player in free agency? Or is that windfall of "saving" just going to pay off corporate debt or enrich the owners? Finally, I laughed out loud (LOL!) at reporters who were there actually interviewing Marlins Man as if he were a news source, not just the grandstanding fan who stood behind the mic last night and asked Jeter, "Do you know who I am?" Marlins Man. Puh-leeze. It would be like, back in the day, interviewing Dolfan Denny about the Dolphins' words. C'mon, media.

SadnessWHAT SOUTH FLORIDA TEAM'S FANS SHOULD BE SADDEST RIGHT NOW?: I refer a lot to Greater Miami's "Big 5" teams -- our four major pro franchises plus Canes football. Obviously in this poll I don't include UM, which is preparing for an Orange Bowl date with Wisconsin to cap the Hurricanes' first 10-win season since 2003. But our four pro teams are fair game for the dubious "most disappointing" crown that would have their fans saddest. The Marlins of course are in mid-fire sale/dismantling as the new Derek Jeter regime proves roughly as popular as the old Jeffrey Loria era. The Panthers are en route to making it a 21st consecutive season of either not making the NHL playoffs or not winning a postseason series. The Heat continue in post-Big 3 malaise, a starless doldrums, hanging around .500, with fans who became accustomed to thinking championship now relegated to hoping for a low playoff seed. And the Dolphins are back to mediocrity after last year's aberrant bump. I will volunteer that I think Heat fans have the least cause for sadness, but that the other three are in the mix. But his is your say. As you consider this poll question consider it literally: Which team's fans have the most cause right now to be the saddest?

Finsat50 Finsat50SHAMELESS BOOK PLUG! AND JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!: Know any Dolfans on your holiday shopping list? Of course you do. And that means you know Dolfans who are so sick of the current team they'd rather marinate in the heydays of Shula and Marino. Well I just so happen to have a book on the franchise's first half-century, called Fins At 50. Talk about a perfect gift! And reasonably priced, too. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to go directly to those site's page om the book to order and to learn more about it. You'll be glad you did, friend.

BRADY'S LEAD SHRINKS, CUTLER RETREATS / HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 15: The 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo wins Week 15 with a 46.05-point game while Patriot Tom Brady's overall lead shrinks further in the Miami Herald’s NFL quarterback rankings. Brady's margin over second place Drew Brees of the Saints has narrowed to only 8.40 points with two games to play. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler slips three spots, down to 24th place. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 20 plus Dolphins entering Week 16:

RK LW Player, Team                 WK15      Season

1    1  Tom Brady, NE               28.90       502.10

2    2  Drew Brees, NO             38.25       493.70

3    3  Alex Smith, KC              38.55       452.90

4    5  Matthew Stafford, DET  39.85       447.00

5    4  Ben Roethlisberger, PIT  31.05      440.25

6    9  Kirk Cousins, WAS          30.80       406.80

7  11  Case Keenum, MIN         39.80       401.95

8    7  Russell Wilson, SEA         8.10       391.45

9    8  Philip Rivers, LAC           9.35       390.90

10  6  Carson Wentz, PHI          DNP       386.80

11 10 Jared Goff, LAR            21.00       386.40

12 12 Matt Ryan, ATL              21.60      376.50

13 16 Blake Bortles, JAC         43.30      337.35

14 13 Josh McCown, NYJ          DNP       336.30

15 14 Derek Carr, OAK            18.55      335.65

16 15 Dak Prescott, DAL         18.60      331.80

17 20 Eli Manning, NYG          44.70      319.65

18 19 Cam Newton, CAR        38.10      314.10

19 18 Joe Flacco, BAL            32.40      311.05

20 17 Andy Dalton, CIN           -0.35      281.00

24 21 Jay Cutler, MIA             11.70      260.70

Bubble: Jameis Winston, TB, 277.70. Week 15 Best: Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, 46.05 (31-43, 381, 1-0 in win). Week 15 Worst: Blaine Gabbert, ARI, minus-2.55 (16-41, 189, 0-1 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 15 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. WEEK 15: Herald picks: Went a nifty 13-3 overall but a just-OK 6-7-3 against the spread, with the wins by Patriots, Niners and Cowboys all pushing for the ties. Called the Chiefs' mini-upset of Rams and also had a pair of dogs-with-points in Jets and Giants. Greg's Lobos: We're done. The 'Bos reached the semifinals of a 14-team league (not bad) before falling to Allyson in a shootout, 157.7-139, despite 45 points from Todd Gurley. #GurleyMen #LobosMVP.
 
OWLS ON THE PROWL: FAU SMACKS AKRON IN BOWL: For only the third time in its 14-year history as an FBS-level football program, Florida Atlantic University played in a bowl game last night, hosting Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl, and winning in a 50-3 rout. The Owls were big three-touchdown home favorites to finish the season 11-3 under first-year coach Lane Kiffin and behind the running of Devin Singletary, and showed why. Kiffin earlier in the day signed a six-year contract extension. Still doubting he's an Owls lifer, but good for now. I'll say this: I'd love to see this traditionally overshadowed program get some love now with a final, post-bowls Top 25 ranking. They deserve the consideration.
 
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 19, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.9%; plus Fins' 24-16 loss to Bills kills all playoff hope; also, the latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your grade on Derek Jeter (ouch!) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 18. ICYMI, click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It for my column on the Marlins trading their best player to the Yankees. 2) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games. 3) Holiday shopping? Giving all the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Judging Derek Jeter poll, NFL Week 15 picks & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 6.9%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 6.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 24-16 Dolphins loss at the Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 6-8. That's a drop off more than 70% from the previous week. 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)
 
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)
 
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
 
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
 
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
 
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
 
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
 
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
 
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
 
G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)
 
G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)
 
Next poll: Dec. 24 (following game at Kansas City)
 
G14: DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO: TO KEEP (FAINT) PLAYOFF HOPE ALIVE, OR WATCH IT DIEPostgame thoughts: Remember how good the Miami Dolphins were on Monday night? They were mostly that bad six days later. Remember how great quarterback Jay Cutler was against the Patriots. It was Bad Jay who made the trip to Buffalo. The Dolphins lost to the Bills, 24-16, on Sunday. It felt worse. Seemed worse as Miami never led, fell to 6-8 and watched its already faint playoff hopes fade to black. I didn't trust the Dolphins to replicate last week's fire displayed in the upset of New England, and with reason. And inconsistency has been the stamp on Cutler's career. Did you think that was going to change for the better when Miami hauled him out of retirement? The game ended fittingly, with Miami recovering an onside kick in the final minute ... followed immediately by Cutler's third interceptions. A year ago the Dolphins had seemed to lay claim to the consolation prize of at least being second-best in the AFC East to the eternally superior Patriots. For now Miami has slipped to third behind the Bills, too. By the way, good to hear a female voice, that of Beth Mowins, doing play-by-play on the CBS broadcast of the game. Women have made great strides on-air broadcasting sports as studio hosts and sideline reporters, but less so in the booth calling the actual game. Another barrier dissolving by degrees. P.S., Mowins had a better game than the Dolphins did ..... Halftime thoughts: With Bills leading Dolphins 21-6 at the half, Buffalo is turning red-zone opportunities into touchdown while Miami settles for field goals. Sound familiar? Been the story most of this season, although less so lately for Fins. Bills lead in total yards 245-156 and Tyrod Taylor is on pace for 330 yards passing and is outplaying Jay Cutler. Dolphins are playing to stay alive in playoff hunt but not showing the intensity or fire to indicate that. I expected a dropoff from what we saw vs. Pats Monday bight, and am seeing that so far .....  Original post: The Dolphins Bandwagon, formerly bereft of passengers, has begun to populate a bit since Monday night. It is hardly a jam-packed, rollicking party bus, don’t get me me wrong. Playoff hope remains slim, but at least the Maybe Meter wiggles a little. I wish I could tell you I’m Miabufhopping on that Bandwagon (there’s still plenty of good seats available), but I just cannot bring myself to count on the inconsistent and therefore unreliable Fins to replicate the extraordinary performance they mustered in beating the Patriots Monday night in Miami. Not sure that will travel well on a short week, especially to a place where the temperature will be in the low 30s and falling, and under an expected cloudy sky threatening snow. Game stayed off betting boards until Thursday, when it became obvious Buffs QB Tyrod Taylor would be good to go. RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) also should play. But Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) is iffy to play, and his absence would be a big break for Fins. These AFC East rivals will play twice in next three weeks, but it’s this game both sides must consider as must-win for any real playoff hope — and moreso 6-7 Miami than the 7-6 Buffs. I like Dolphins with the (3 1/2) points in a low-scoring game and give MIA a medium outright upset shot. But Fins have not been great on the road this year (2-4), and Buffs have been solid at home (5-2). Jay Cutler on Sunday will confront a much better pass defense than he saw from the Pats, so the key for Miami may be more good stuff from RB Kenyan Drake vs. a very average Bills run defense. Good teams keep stacking good performances on top of one another, but I don’t think Miami is there yet. As impressed (and surprised) as I was in the Dolphins Monday night, I think this will be a long flight home by a team out of playoff hope. My pick: Buffalo, 20-17. [Click Week 15 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/greg-cote/article189792549.html#storylink=cpy

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:

Hotbutton 1. MARLINS: Remember 10 weeks ago when we all loved Jeter?: Ah, the good old days! It was the month before last. Derek Jeter arrived as a knight on a white steed to save the Marlins and be everything for South Florida that Jeffrey Loria was not. Then the traded Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna in a flurry -- a murder-us row. Loria 2.0.

2. DOLPHINS: Loss in Buffalo crushes faint playoff hope: Patriots at Steelers and the return of Aaron Rodgers topped the NFL Week 15 marquee, but Dolphins at Bills Sunday loomed big in that the winner would see playoff hopes buoyed. But these weare the inconsistent, let-you-down Fins. Could they really replicate that Monday magic in chilly Buffalo? Nope.

3. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Unbeaten Canes, OB Classic in spotlight: No. 6-ranked Miami men stayed unbeaten Saturday with a 59-50 win at George Washington in UM's first of four straight road games, while in Sunrise the 19th-ranked Seminoles and No. 22 Gators headlined but both lost in the four-team Orange Bowl Classic. Canes have been ranked higher only once, in 2012-13.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FAU, FIU prepare for rare bowl games: Saturday began the glut of 41 bowl games. Hurricanes in the Orange is two weeks off, but the appetizers are being served. Lane Kiffin's FAU (Tuesday vs. Akron) and Butch Davis' FIU (Thursday vs. Temple) prepare for only the third bowl games in each school's 14-year history as FBS-level programs.

5. SOCCER: Beckham enlists help in Miami MLS bid: David Beckham fortified his ongoing and laborious bid to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to Miami by adding as ownerships partners Miami business titans Jorge and Jose Mas and a Japanese billionaire. So, yes, a Miami team that doesn't exist yet has better owners than the Marlins.

6. HEAT: Spoelstra surpasses Riley's wins mark: Erik Spoelstra tied and then passed Pat Riley for most coaching wins in franchise history with Friday's and Saturday's wins over Charlotte and the Clippers. Game also got Miami back up over .500. But is that what we're cheering now? Being around average? Wednesday's game at Boston will tell us about this Heat team's potential to make playoffs and do something in them.

7. PANTHERS: We keep waiting for a run, Cats. And waiting...: Florida is 12-21 now, having lost three straight and seven of past  nine after Sunday's defeat at expansion Las Vegas. People keep telling me the Panthers are playing better lately. I look at the NHL standings and the standings keep telling me, "Eh, not so much..."

8. POLITICS: NHL wife details Trump encounter: Stacia Robitaille, married to former NHL player Luc Robitaille, claims an uncomfortable situation with Donald Trump when once alone on a elevator with his at Madison Square Garden. "He was aggressive and told me I was coming home with him," she Tweeted. Lucky for Trump, he isn't in a job where that kind of sexual harassment might get him in trouble!

9. NBA: Knicks fans cheer Melo's return: Knicks fans (mostly) cheered Carmelo Anthony's first return in an Oklahoma City uniform after six-plus seasons in New York. There were boos, too, of course, because, well, they're Knicks fans.

10. YANKEES: Judge says 'can't wait' to play alongside Stanton: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are instant BFFs, I guess. Or at least until the games start and one gets jealous of the other and the bickering starts over who's playing DH too much and the media pressure builds.

Missing the HB10 cut: Pro Bowl voting has concluded. The Pro Bowl: The game no player really wants to play in and no fan wants to watch, but we all act like it's a big deal anyway ..... The Phillies signed Carlos Santana for $60 million. Does a baseball team really need a guitar player that badly?

POLL RESULT: WE ASKED YOU TO GRADE JETER AS NEW MARLINS OWNER, AND YOU SAID "F-YOU!": In wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, we asked, "What grade would you give Derek Jeter 10 weeks into his running the Marlins based on his performance so far and your expectations?" Ouch. A consensus of 64.3 percent gave him an "F," and another 17.1% graded him "D." After that It was 7.1% "C," 6.7% "B" and only 4.8% "A."

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

Twitter @gregcote