October 04, 2015

G4: Jets 20, Dolphins 7 in London (Half): Miami being dominated. Not the game (so far) to save Joe Philbin; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 ([updated), new Hot List & more


1) It is SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4: IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes lose in Cincy and CSM poll, NFL Week 4 picks, locals teams in 'Ultimate Standings,' D.Wade on fashion, 'Marlins Man' motives & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Live Dolphins-Jets in-game blog, then latest DSM poll: We'll be blogging live here during the game this morning. Then, the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll will magically appear right here soon after the game in London ends. Watch for it and vote. Estimated posttime: 1 p.m.

G4: DOLPHINS VS. JETS IN LONDON: Halftime: Ouch. Miami is being dominated, bearing in mind Fins' only TD was abetted by 58 yards in Jets penalties. Dolphins will rally in second half or put Joe Philbin;s job in grave jeopardy. ..... Second Q: Momentum lost. NYJ now up 20-7 just before half on Ryan Fitzpatrick to Eric Decker TD. ... Miami TD then a Jets punt. For first time today Miami has an ounce of momentum. ... MIA within 13-7 on 8-yard scoring pass from Tannehill to the gloriously named Jake Stoneburner. Dolphins benefited from 58 yards in pass-interference penalties against Jets. ... Fins hole now 13-0 after Planes FG. ... Dolphins need one big play in the worst way. A takeaway. Anything. ..... First Q: Big to force that Jets punt. Miami is one big play from getting back in this game. ... At 10-0, Planes, this if fourth straight game Miami has had a double-digits deficit. Slow starts a killer. ... NYJ 7-0 on short Chris Ivory TD run set up by 58-yard pass to Brandon Marshall over Brent Grimes. And yet another early hole for Dolphins. ... Game-opening punt for Miami. Bad sign. Dolphins offense struggling + Jets defense good = not a fortuitous combo for Fins tosay. ..... Original post: You may recall that I wrote from the home loss to Buffalo last week that coaches already on the hot seat sometimes do not survive embarrassing defeats as bad as that one. 1aa1adollondonWell, NFL.com first reported Friday night that -- with a bye week looming -- owner Stephen Ross might fire coach Joe Philbin if today's 9:30 a.m. game vs. the Jets in London produced another dispiriting result. We don't know this to be true, of course. Nobody but Ross knows at the moment. Reports citing anonymous sources must be treated as speculation. And in-season coaching changes rarely spark a dramatic turnaround. But it would make some sense. A loss would make the Dolphins, who expected a playoff season, 1-3 with a third straight defeat. A competitive loss might not cost Philbin his job, but a blowout very well could. Are those enough stakes for you, Dolfan? "Breakfast at Wembley" could completely reshape Philbin's life and this 50th Dolphins season. I don't see a blowout. But I do see a tough matchup for the Dolphins: a struggling offense facing a very stout Jets defense. My pick: Jets, 19-17. (Click on Week 4 Gems for all my latest NFL picks).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCT. 4): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins, Philbin brace for Jets in crucial game in London: It’s Breakfast at Wembley as Dolphins “host” Jets in a game kicking off Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in the East. Cannot confirm speculation that, if Miami falls to 1-3 with a third straight dispiriting loss, coach Joe Philbin may face deportation and be denied a return to the U.S. Or at least to Miami.

2. HURRICANES: UM tries to shake loss as FSU Week awaits: Thursday night’s 34-23 loss at Cincinnati turns up heat on UM coach Al Golden as Canes prepare now to visit No. 11 Florida State next Saturday. Few coaches need a positive result more than Golden needs to beat the Noles in Tallahassee – unless it’s Philbin in London, of course. 

3. HEAT: Miami plays first preseason game Sunday: The Heat host Charlotte on Sunday and then Orlando Wednesday to open their NBA preseason schedule. Unfortunately center Hassan Whiteside hasn’t practiced yet because of a strained calf. Hmm. Wait. Didn’t Hassan have about six months to rest and be healthy and ready?

4. MARLINS: The good, the bad and the injured as Fish wrap season: Dee Gordon chasing an NL batting title and Justin Bour's emergence were highlights but can't sugarcoat a disappointing 90-loss season that ends for Miami Sunday in Philadelphia. A new manager might help. Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez healthy for a whole season will help more.

5. BASEBALL: MLB postseason begins on Tuesday: Baseball playoffs open with wild-card games Tuesday and Wednesday, followed immediately by the start of the two ALDS and NLDS series. This year the New York Yankees and Mets both made it. So all of America has a rooting-against interest, at least.

6. GATORS: Huge Swamp upset of No. 3 Ole Miss!: Third-ranked Ole Miss and No. 25 Florida gave the Swamp its first Top 25 matchup since 2012 last night, and the ease of Florida's 38-10 win was a stunner. Didn't think that Ole Miss offense could be stopped like that, but The Gator was chompin'.

7. PANTHERS: Cats six days from NHL season opener: Florida has ended its preseason and now commences real hockey at home vs. Philadelphia next Saturday. Many experts see a playoff team. Considering the Panthers have been one of those only once in past 15 years, count the law of averages in Cats’ favor, at least.

8. LIONEL MESSI: Barcelona star out seven-plus weeks: A knee injury will shelve the sublime Barca scoring star almost two months. Although Messi's so good he could go out there in a full body cast and still average two goals a game.

9. NASCAR: Tony Stewart reveals retirement plans: Volatile NASCAR star announced that 2016 would be his final season of racing. Remember when star athletes quietly retired after the fact rather than trumpeting their own year-long, " worship me" farewell tour.

10. JURISPRIDENCE: Court strikes down college-athlete payment plan: A federal appeals court struck down a plan that would have paid NCAA football and basketball players up to $5,000 a year. Thank God. That might have cut into those $12 million coaching salaries!

Missing the cut: WNBA Finals underway ... Jordan Spieth tops golf's richest year ... FIU at Massachusetts ... Pro beach volleyball in Fort Lauderdale ... UM starts basketball practice ... Derrick Rose's latest surgery ... Miami's Ernst "Nono" Jean-Baptiste running for FIFA president ... Miami High vs. Coral Gables, 50 years later.

THE HOT LIST: COLD DOLPHINS STARTS: Say what you will about Ndamukong Suh's low impact or the run defense, but Miami's biggest fundamental, bottom-line issue after three games is a lack of scoring. Its 51 total points rank 27th in the NFL, and only 11 times in the franchise's 50 seasons has Miami scored fewer through three games. Dolphins' worst point totals after three games:

Points    Year    Record    Coach/QB

23         2004    4-12       Wannstedt/Feeley

34         1968    5-8-1      Wilson/Griese

36         2006    6-10       Saban/Culpepper

37         1988    6-10       Shula/Marino

42         1967    4-10       Wilson/Griese

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

September 29, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 18.0%; plus Fins ripped by Bills 41-14; also Hot Button Top 10, the sharp divide on anti-Golden flyovers & more


1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Anti-Golden flyovers poll, rarity of Big 3 all 3-0, Collball Week 4 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Philbin puts himself in peril: Coaches already on the hot seat cannot afford embarrassing performances like the Dolphins had Sunday in their home opener. Click on Philbin In Peril for my column off the game. Our live gamepost is directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 18.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 18.0 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) 1aa1adsmin the wake of Sunday's 41-14 loss to the visiting Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 1-2. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Next poll: Oct. 4 (following game vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Interpreting the latest vote: Of course a spike from a previous 1.7 percent to this week's 18.0% makes little sense after a loss as bad as Sunday's. Pleased Bills fans weighing in? More likely pissant anarchists simply trying to throw a wrench in our gears. Whatever. No matter. Free country! The majority spoke (loudly) with 81.4% "very dissatisfied."  

G3: BUFFALO 41, DOLPHINS 14: FINAL: Home opener. Division opponent. Coming off a bad loss. So many reasons Miami needed to show up big today. What a monumental failure all the way around. ..... Fourth quarter: MIA 2nd and goal. NO score. Of course. BUF now up 41-14 on 41-yard TD run by Karlos Williams. Do the details even matter at this point? ... Fins within 34-14 on 46-yard Tanny pass to Matthews and then a missed kick. ... Miami 1st and goal at Bills 2, four straight complete passes. Way to trust that running game! Unbelievable. Seriously. ... Bills defensive hold wipes out a Tannehill sack and fumble loss. ... BUF 34-8 now on 38-yard TD pass Taylor to Chris Hogan. Just plain embarrassing. ... Wanted/needed: Miracle of Biblical proportions. ..... Third quarter: Dolphins finally do something, score, pull within 27-8 on Tanny's 21-yard TD throw to Rishard Matthews plus a 2-point conversion pass. ... Bills miss a 54-yard FG try. Hey something went right for Miami! ..... Halftime report: Awfulness times infinity equals Miami's first half performance. ..... Second quarter: Tannehill's third interception sets up 51-yard FG and 27-0 game. ... Bills 24-0 on Preston Brown 44-yard INT return. ... BUF 26-yard FG for 17-0 lead. Miami doing nothing right so far. ..... First quarter: Miami drive starts promisingly at BUF 38, then Tannehill intercepted off Landry's hands. ... Buffs 14-0 on 10-yard Shady McCoy scoring play on slant. MIA defense gouged for 158 yards on 2 TD drives totaling 13 plays. ... Nightmare start! After a 3-and-out by Dolphins, defense gives up 5-play, 77-yard Bills TD drive capped by ex-Fin Charles Clay's 25-yard romp through myriad missed tackles. Oy. ... Is there a nobler aim known to mankind than making Rex Ryan sad? ..... Pregame: Anthem by Darius "Hootie" Rucker. The Dolphins make him cry. Uh oh. ... Warren Buffett, worth 10 times more than Stephen Ross, was on home sideline in a Ndamukong Suh jersey. Buffett has only three fewer tackles than Suh this year. ... LT Branden Albert inactive today as expected. Uh oh. ... Flyover banner referencing "Sardine Can Stadium." Surprised Stephen Ross hasn't ordered his air force to shoot it down. ..... Original post: Dolphins stage their 50th franchise regular-season home opener late this afternoon vs. Buffalo and once again Dolfans have no real idea how good their team is because its maddening inconsistency defies knowing. Click on Land of No Idea for today's latest column for our full preview. The 4:25 p.m. kickoff has all the elements of a delicious matchup. It is Miami’s home opener, it’s vs. an AFC East rival, and it is coming off a bad Dolphins loss at Jacksonville to ratchet up the pressure on Joe 1aa1abillsdolPhilbin’s guys. Want more? How about blustery Rex Ryan in Bills clothes now, and former Fins bully Richie Incognito back in town tasked with blocking Ndamukong Suh. This could be damned entertaining, folks! It also could be a tough one for Miami to win. Don’t read too much into Tom Brady putting up 466 yards last week; the Buffs’ pass-D and defense in general is pretty good against everybody not named Brady. And that defensive line has the potential to dominate MIA’s blocking front and spend way too much time today in Ryan Tannehill’s pocket — especially if LT Branden Albert (hamstring) doesn’t play, as expected. The homies haven’t shown enough consistent running game (or commitment to it), or enough balance to take much heat off Tannehill. On the other side, a Dolphins run defense gouged for 284 yards the first two games will face its toughest challenge yet in LeSean McCoy. Miami is bound to get some help from Buffs’ proneness to penalties; still, I doubt the home stadium will be a happy place as dusk settles. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, people! My pick: Bills, 23-20. (Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. (Click Hot Button Top 5 for our abbreviated, print-only cousin):

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami fails huge test to Buffalo in 50th home opener Sunday: We are now in our seventh consecutive year of not knowing whether Miami will be good this time or S.O.D. (Same Ol’ Dolphins), doubts festering anew with last week's disheartening loss in Jacksonville and now Sunday's 41-14 spanking by Buffalo. We know Buffalo presented a big challenge ... and sadly found out if the Fins were up to that challenge.

2. MARLINS: Teams wraps up home schedule on disappointing season: Only six road games now remain after Sunday's home finale. Not much has gone right this year beyond Dee Gordon chasing NL batting title and Jose Fernandez improving to 17-0 in his career at home. Meanwhile club has interviewed Manny Acta as their potential next manager -- Acta, who last managed in 2012 and has career record of 372-519 (.418). Reach for the stars, Marlins!

3. HEAT: Bosh healthy as Miami opens training camp: Chris Bosh is back after missing much of last season with blood clots as training camp opens Tuesday at FAU after Media Day today/Monday at the bayside arena. The Heat expects to be much better after missing last season’s playoffs. My interpretation of much better: Anything short of a conference finals against LeBron’s Cavs will be a disappointment.

4. HURRICANES: UM braces for pass-happy Cincy: The Canes, 3-0 but unranked and with restless fans, follow a bye week with a Thursday night game on ESPN at Cincinnati. The Bearcats aren’t very good (2-2) but they average 413 passing yards per game. Hope the off week provided plenty of rest for UM’s defensive backs.

5. PANTHERS: Jagr delivers lesson in how to thwart blackmail: As NHL preseason continues, the Cats’ ageless Jaromir Jagr, 43, recently thwarted blackmail try by a Czech model, 18, who wanted $2,000 to not publish a photo of them in bed. Jagr said he didn’t care, rightly figuring that, instead of shame, the photo would likelier bring high-fives from admiring teammates.

6. GATORS: Swamp magic: Florida miracle-rallies past Tennessee: UF is now 4-0 after beating visiting Vols 28-27 Saturday after trailing 27-14 late. That's the good news. The bad news: Gators now face four ranked opponents in a row. 

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men ready for season of high hopes: Coach Jim Larranaga's guys are about to lift lid on season of big expectations. Practice opens this coming Friday and the season starts Nov. 13.

8. FIU: Panthers fall at Louisiana Tech: FIU beat the point spread with a decent road effort but still fell to 2-2 in search of first winning season since 2011.  

9. WNBA: Playoffs down to the final four: Note to self: Look up who the four surviving WNBA teams are in order to more convincingly feign interest.

10. RANDOM EVIDENCE: Greg Cote's blog turns 10!: Yeah, I know. Nobody is talking about this week being the 10th anniversary of my MiamiHerald.com blog. But what's the good of having a blog if not for occasional shameless self-aggrandizing?

Poll result: Sharply divided views of anti-Golden flyovers at games: We asked in the previous blogpost what you thought of those anti-Al Golden flyovers at UM games (you may still vote), and 50.3 percent supported them because they think Golden must go. However, another 23.1% think the banners are tacky and rude, 21.7% are against them because they are pro-Golden, and 4.9% think it's silly to fly those banners while team is winning. (Note: What clearly seemed an organized effort between anti- and pro-Golden factions, ultimately won by the anti- crowd, caused a sharp spike in total votes. Democracy!)

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 25, 2015

Dolphins/NFL Week 3 picks (uh oh); plus Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson retires right, Panthers' Jaromir Jagr teaches us how to handle a blackmail attempt; also happy birthday to us, revisiting Bullygate, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more


1aa1abobblepope1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat future power rank, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins 50th team, Florida Sports Hall of Fame, latest SOPY rankings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

1aa1a10Happy birthday to us!: Light the candles because our Random Evidence blog turns 10 this week. We were christened as the Miami Herald first's online blog at this time in 2005 and, thanks to you, we're still going strong as the only MiamiHerald.com sports blog that covers local teams, national issues and also delves outside sports -- always with an eye on humor. Thanks for joining us on the ride!

"Welcome, Pope Francis, to America. We're still on for lunch today, right?" --Greg Cote

UPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 3: Licking wounds from a tough Week 2 (we had a 7-9 record overall, 8-8 1aa1afripixvs. the spread), we barrel on undeterred in our 25th Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions. Week 3 got off to a strong start last night as we correctly had Giants winning and covering. Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins are upset losers at home to Buffalo (sorry), and Cowboys stay unbeaten despite no Tony Romo. Also click on Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood for my accompanying Friday Page column. I write how about Aaron Rodgers' greatness overall reaches another level altogether at home.

CHAD "OCHOCINCO" JOHNSON IS DOING RETIREMENT RIGHT: I enjoyed writing today's column catching up with retired receiver Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, the Miami-raised eccentric who last played in the 1aa1apchoNFL in 2011 and got his last shot in '12 training camp with Miami. He's one of a kind. Plays in a local men's soccer league. Shows up at strangers' houses challenging to play them in video soccer. He has 3.6 million Twitter followers and is blurring the line between celebrity and regular folks, making them one. He collects adventures and is having way too much fun to miss football. Click on Ocho to read the column in full. There are some great photos of Chad playing soccer in West Kendall by Gaston De Cardenas accompanying the column, including the one shown. Because Johnson is such a character, you forget what a great player he was. Great enough that, when he becomes Hall of Fame eligible next year, he should get a serious consideration. I certainly don't see him as a first-ballot guy and probably would bet he won't ever get into Canton, but check out the career comparison between Johnson and Michael Irvin, who is in Canton. Except that Irvin played for a more glamorous teams and has Super Bowl rings, they're close to the same. Food for thought:

                    Years    Catches    Yards        TDs   Pro Bowls

Irvin               12        750        11,904       65         5

Johnson          11        766        11,059       67         6

1aa1ajagrPANTHERS' JAGR HANDLES BLACKMAIL THREAT WITH SPLENDID NONCHALANCE: The Florida Panthers and ageless 43-year-old star Jaromir Jagr are in their preseason, and this happened to Jagr very recently. It's a bad-turned-great story on many levels. Essentially, in a blackmail attempt, somebody said to Jaromir, "We have compromising photos!!" And his response was to pretty much yawn and say, "Yeah? So?" An 18-year-old Czech model allegedly/reportedly tried to extort $2,000 from Jagr to stop her from releasing a photo of the two of them in bed following a recent go-round, according to the Czech tabloid Blesk. Jagr declined to pay, obviously not bothered by the photo (which I show here). Blesk identified the model as "Catherine from Moravia." She has since been identified elsewhere as Katka Provaznikova. In any case why would Jagr be bothered by this photo? He's single and he's famously active socially (shall we say), sort of a Derek Jeter on skates. What this model thought would bring him shame and embarrassment is far more likely to bring him high-fives from envious Panthers teammates and admiring NHL rivals.

REVISITING BULLYGATE: As 2013 Dolphins Bullygate central figure Richie Incognito returns to Miami this week as a Buffalo Bill, former Fins offensive line coach Jim Turner -- fired as a result of the scandal -- is in court with a lawsuit against Ted Wells, the NFL lawyer whose report Turner says made him a scapegoat and defamed him. Read this week's Daily Business Review update on the case here.

1aa1afishweighWEIGHING THE FISH (150 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton once led comfortably before his extended injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the most impactful overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 150 games (actually 152, at 65-87):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @140 

1  Dee Gordon                505.9    1

2  Martin Prado              374.3    4

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   366.5   2

4  Christian Yelich         363.2   5

5  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    3

6  Justin Bour                 345.2    7

7  Jacob Realmuto          339.8   6

8  Marcell Ozuna            316.7   8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              253.1   9

10  Derek Dietrich          228.9   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 9, Gordon 5.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 22, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 1.7%; plus Miami falls 23-20 at Jacksonville; also the new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more


1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21. Random Evidence the Sunday notes column has retired (click on Random Evidence for last week's farewell) but its Top 5 list goes on! Click on Hot Button Top 5 for the latest edition. Our Hot Button Top 10 (here below) is an updated, expanded version found exclusively in this blog every Sunday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes beat Nebraska, CSM poll, other Collball Week 3 &  more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results: See blogpost directly below for latest CSM results, showing a modest upturn. Click on This Won't Help Golden Much for my column off the UM-Nebraska game.

Sorry about that...: A computer glitch tonight caused our Dolphins-Jaguars in-game blog to disappear. It also caused our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll to do the same. We have reinstalled the poll, now open for voting. Thanks for the patience. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 1.7 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied) in the wake of Sunday's 23-20 loss at Jacksonville putting Miami's season record at 1-1. The DSM, in 1aadsmits eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Next poll: Sept. 27 (following game vs. Buffalo)

Interpreting the vote: It doesn't get much lower than 1.7 percent. Literally. An Internet poll could ask "Would your rather be happy and wealthy or miserable and destitute?" and you might not have a majority like this one.  

G2: JACKSONVILLE 23, DOLPHINS 20: Note: With apologies, a computer glitch has erased our live in-game blog. Original post: There are no gimmies in the NFL, granted. No Bethune-Cookmans. But Washington and now Jacksonville 1aa1adoljaxis about as soft a season-opening road quiniela as any NFL team or its fans should have the right to hope for. Dolphins were so-so last week and still beat the Redskins 17-10. The Jaguars are worse than the Skins. I expect a better performance today, and a more impressive win at Jacksonville, where I also expect the Traveling Wilburys traveling Dolfans will make it feel almost like a home game for Miami. What I expect most is that Ndamukong Suh and his defensive-line mates, who didn't defend the run very well last week, will be much better today. I wouldn't want to be Blake Bortles. In general, but especially today. I don't buy, though, that today is any sort of Litmus test for the Dolphins. The opponent isn't up to that challenge. The first of those tests looks like next week's home opener vs. Rex Ryan's revitalized, defense-strong Bills. But let's take 'em one game at a time, shall we? My pick: Dolphins, 30-10.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPT. 20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM dominates, almost blows, then survives Nebraska visit: Canes are 3-0, barely, after blowing a 23-point lead and escaping Nebraska in overtime last night, 36-33, thanks to goalline interception by Corn Elder. Odds, please, that team named Cornhuskers would be beaten by man named Corn? Two programs with five national titles each were trying to recapture old mojo. Arguable which team needed the win more, although I’m confident UM coach Al Golden and his many critics would have dominated that debate.

2. DOLPHINS: Miami 1-1 after crushing upset loss at lowly Jacksonville: Bad defense, not enough offense and costly penalties cost Miami dearly in a 23-20 loss to the underdog Jaguars. Just when a Dolfan thinks it's different this time we get The Return of the S.O.D. -- Same Ol' Dolphins.

3. MARLINS: Just shut Stanton down, already!: As Fish prepare to open the season's final homestand on Tuesday they have locked up third place in NL East but are well out of wild-card hunt. So why not shut down Giancarlo Stanton and the “abnormal” scar tissue in his healing hand for the rest of the year? No gain in rushing him back now. See you on Opening Day 2016.

4. NCAA: Loss by No. 2 Alabama tops college football's wild weekend: Gators and Seminoles survived defensive struggles (and FIU won!), but it was second-ranked Alabama losing to Ole Miss that topped the national news in college football Week 3. Having a bad day? Lift your spirits by picturing Nick Saban sad.

5. NFL: Patriots at Rex Ryan. Delicioso!: Patriots edging Buffalo was our NFL Week 2 Game of the Week pick. And that was even before Rex Ryan and the Bills tweaked New England for its Deflategate scandal by selling ball-inflating needle pumps this week in its team store.  

6. PANTHERS: Cat Skate Fever! Hockey’s back, eh?: So Fla puckheads are happy. The Panthers made their preseason debut Sunday by splitting a pair of exhibitions in Nashville and now play their first home exhibition Tuesday. ESPN says the Panthers “could be the surprise team in the Eastern Conference.” So it has come to that. When your team hasn’t won a playoff series since 1996, the expectation of its success is surprising.

7. HEAT: Team eyes major improvement as training camp nears: With preseason practices starting next week, expect a big change at Media Day a week from today. Last year, every other question concerned LeBron leaving. This year, only about a third of them will.

8. NASCAR: Homestead awaits as 'The Chase' begins: With the Nov. 22 finale in Homestead-Miami Speedway the prize, race teams started winnowing the field in the first "Chase" race Sunday in Chicago won by Denny Hamlin. Gentlemen, start your drama.

9. TIGER WOODS: More back surgery for the former great one: The ebbing PGA Tour season was cut short for Tiger Woods when he elected to have more back surgery and set his sights on a 2016 return. The ultimate favorite has turned himself into the ultimate underdog. 

10. WNBA: Playoffs underway in women's basketball: I'll give you a dollar if you can name who's in the this year's playoffs. Another buck if you can tell me who won last year's WNBA championship. (Hint: Phoenix Mercury).

THE HOT LIST: DOLPHINS VS. THE STATE: How Miami has fared in NFL regular-season and playoff games vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and today's opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars. All are regular season except 2000 playoff loss to Jags:

                      MIA W-L      Wins                           Losses

Vs. JAC             4-4           2003-09-12-14           1998-00-06-15

Vs. TB               5-5           1976-85-88-91-09     1982-97-00-05-13

                     Seasons        Playoffs        Championships

MIA                49                22                2: 1972, 73

TB                  39                10                1: 2002

JAC                20                 6                 0

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 14, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 31.0%; plus Radio Tuesday, Dolphins beat Redskins 17-10, Fins on Forbes $$ list, Dee Gordon honored, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), farewell Sunday notes column & more


It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 on ESPN Radio. Good morning!

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Click on Random Evidence for the farewell edition of our Sunday notes column. See the bottom of this blogpost for an explainer. 2) Click on Howard's Night, Al's Burden for my column from Boca Raton on Friday's 44-20 Canes win. And see previous blogpost for first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM wins at FAU, CSM poll, Upset Bird Day in America, LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Marlins' Gordon honored, twice: Marlins 2B Dee Gordon received two nice award nominations today: For the Robert Clemente Award for sportsmanship, and for the MLBPA Marvin Miller Award. He's also still fighting (currently down seven points) for the NL batting title.

Dolphins mid-pack on franchise value list: Forbes' latest list has Dolphins as NFL's 16th-most valuable franchise at $1.85 billion. Click Money List for full rankings. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 31.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 17-10 Dolphins 1aa1adsmvictory at Washington. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Yearly DSM results:

2014: 2.7% (following 8-8 season)

2013: 4.2% (following 8-8 season)

2012: 29.8% (following 7-9 season)

2011: 34.9% (following 6-10 season)

2010: 3.8% (following 7-9 season)

2009: 31.2% (following 7-9 season)

2008: 96.9% (following 11-5 season/playoff loss)

G1: DOLPHINS 17, WASHINGTON 10 (Final): SEASON OF (FAIRLY) GREAT EXPECTATIONS BEGINS WITH ROAD WIN: Final: Miami christens its 50th season right with 17-10 win at Washington. Reminded me a little of UM beating FAU the other night. Shaky early, but the better team emerging. Dolphins offense wasn't great today and defense was less than perfect against the run. But! Two interceptions by Miami's defense and a huge 69-yard punt-return score by Jarvis Landry made the difference. ..... Fourth Q: Miami stops a Skins 4th-and-7 from MIA 20. Fins in charge. ... Huge! McCain INT at Fins 2 denies a Skins threat. ... MIA with its first lead at 17-10 on Landry's 69-yard TD return of a punt. Money! ... Dolphins tie it 10-10 on Franks' short FG, but you gotta go into end zone on 4th and goal! MIA squanders red-zone chance to take lead. ... Third Q: Scoreless third, but Fins on the move. ... Oy! LT Albert injured, but walks off field on own, a good sign. ... Ugh. Tanny stripped of ball and loses fumble on half's opening series. ..... Dolfans Halftime: Dolfans should feel lucky to only be down 10-7. No cause for panic, but Fins must shore up their run defense in second half. ..... Second Q: Finally! Life for Fins! MIA within 10-7 on Tanny's 3y TD toss to Matthews just before half. ... Tanny misses a wide-open Stills. Hasn't been as accurate yet today as in preseason. ... Dolphins down 10-0 as defense beat up for 17-yard drive. Reed 3y TD catch over a fallen Jones ends series. ... Miami wastes the Grimes INT, denied on 4th-and-1 from Skins 12. Ballsy call; gave up an near-certain tying FG. ... TE Sims out injured trying to catch an end-zone overthrow by Tannehill. ... Grimes interception! MIA at WAS 21. ..... First Q: Olivier Vernon ankle injury; iffy return. ... Fins offense on field for only 5 plays in first quarter. Ugh. ... MIA catches small break in final seconds when Skins go wide right on 46y FG try. ... Fins fail to convert a 3rd-and-1. Not the opening quarter of Dolfans' dreams. ... Miami down 3-0 early is no worry. But the early run-defense is. ..... Pregame: I love that Your Friend The Media is making such a deal of Jarvis Landry and LaMike James having a minor shove-exchange four days ago. Zero bearing on what happens today. ..... Original post: As the Dolphins launch their 50th franchise season we bring you true math, NFL style: One season of unusually high hopes + one a bad opponent = one opener Miami really needs to win. The air would seep 1aa1adolredout of Dolfans' optimism like it does footballs on the Patriots sideline, only moreso, if Miami somehow falls flat today in Landover, Md. I doubt that happens. I'm sold on these Dolphins as a playoff team. Ryan Tannehill's multi-weaponed offense should not have a problem motoring and flying all over the field today, and the Ndamukong Suh-infused 1aa1adolredqbsdefense should make it a daytime nightmare for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. (Tannehill and Cousins are pictured left). See it as a comfy win, maybe even a rout. This isn't Bethune-Cookman to the Hurricanes as season openers go, but if there were gimmies in the NFL, Washington would be close to one. Now let's quantify why winning one's season opener is so important. Quick history lesson: Super Bowl winners were 39-9-1 on opening day. Since the advent of the 16-game season in 1978, teams that started 1-0 made the playoffs 52.2 percent of the time, versus 23.9% for teams that began 0-1. Similar trends for Miami. Dolphins at 1-0 have made the playoffs 16 of 26 times (61.5%), versus 5 of 22 times (22.7%) at 0-1. That excludes one season-opening tie, in 1971. Join us back here during the game for a live running commentary.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open 50th season right at Washington: Miami’s season of unusually high hopes and uncommonly buoyant fan optimism opened Sunday with a 17-10 win over a Redskins team seen as not very good. We’ve seen the Dolphins live down to expectations a lot since their last playoff win in 2000. Now we see if they can live up to expectations for a change.

2. HURRICANES: UM surges late past FAU, awaits visit by Nebraska: Canes rallied from a second-half tie to win at FAU 44-20 in Howard Bowl II, leaving many fans displeased. Miami is 2-0, albeit vs. Bethune-Cookman and the Owls. UM's real season starts this coming Saturday at home vs. Nebraska. This is when Al Golden turns down the heat a little, or starts to feel it singe.

3. NFL: Win by Patriots (fittingly) opens King Sport's season: Patriots and Tom Brady won the last game in 2014 and the first in '15, with Deflategate talk book-ending both games but evidently not bothering either. Now we booked the first Sunday of the regular season -- a de facto national holiday in America. By the way, Roger Goodell came out of hiding in Chicago.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Opens ends without a Grand Slam by Serena: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer for men's title Sunday, but the women's side was the talk of the U.S. Open. Serena Williams fell short of sport's first calendar Grand Slam since 1988, but another great story took its place as little-known Italian Flavia Pennetta, 33, won the Open and then retired, redefining "going out on top."

5. MARLINS: Jose's back, but it isn't looking good for Giancarlo: Jose Fernandez won Saturday in his return and is now 16-0 in his career at Marlins Park. With this team though, the news is never all good. As Fish wrapped up homestand Sunday and now hit the road relegated to playing spoilers in a spoiled season, it's looking more and more like we won’t see Giancarlo Stanton again until Opening Day 2016.

6. HEAT: Riley really liking Heat roster as training camp nears: As Miami prepares to open its preseason training camp on Sept. 29, club prez Pat Riley said this week he thinks the Heat has "all the elements of a championship team." Hmm. That would be somewhat of a surprise to Las Vegas oddsmakers, who list Miami as the NBA’s ninth favorite at 40-1.

7. FIU: Hopes for second straight road upset wither in Indiana: After winning at Central Florida to open the season, FIU fell Saturday at Indiana 36-22. Glass half-full: Well, unbeaten for a week is better than not unbeaten for a week.

8. PANTHERS: NHL club to open training camp, exhibition play: Hockey's about back. The Panthers open training camp this Thursday and then play their first exhibition game next Sunday. This season, players swear, they'll make the playoffs. One of these years, by dumb luck, they may be right.

9. LEBRON JAMES: He's back in Miami. Temporarily: LeBron is Miami with several Cavaliers teammates this week for pre-training camp workouts. Heat fans aren’t sure whether to chase LeBron outta town with torches and pitchforks, or kidnap him and beg him to stay.

10. BOXING: Mayweather wins final (?) fight: Miamian Andre Berto lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Mayweather says it was his last fight. The national group, People Who Believe Him, meets tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth.

Missing the HB10 cut: Alex Rodriguez ties Hank Aaron with 15th 30-homer season. A-Rod’s steroids-free comeback year has been a marvel. The downside: Much tougher for me to make fun of him. ... R.I.P., Moses Malone. ... Speculation on the Marlins’ next manager heats up. The front-runner: Anybody but Dan Jennings. ... NBA will henceforth seed playoff teams by their records, not by division finish. The NFL would do that, too, but it makes too much sense. ... NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup begins next Sunday in Chicago, a nine-race tournament leading to the Nov. 22 championship race here. This is 14th year we’ve hosted the grand finale, and I still can’t believe they have it in Homestead. It’s like the NFL putting a Super Bowl in Fargo, North Dakota. ... Just read about something called a trumpetfish. My first reaction? Donald Trump bought a species and named it after himself. ... Reds had a Pete Rose Bobblehead Night on Saturday. The Rose figurine bobbles its head and then places 100 large in the fifth race.

FAREWELL, RANDOM EVIDENCE: Random Evidence, my long-running, fun-seeking Sunday notes column after which this blog was named, ends with today's column (link above). That's because the Herald prefers I instead write a general sports column on Sundays moving forward to coincide with a dramatic redesign that will debut with this Wednesday's newspaper. Part of the notes column still will run on Sundays in print: Our weekly Top 5 list. Many of the other notes I once saved for Sundays I'll now write throughout the week on Twitter or in this blog, so rest assured our followers @gregcote and our blog family won't miss a thing. My innate need to poke gentle fun at Jeffrey Loria and others will not be denied! Meanwhile we'll continue to have the Hot Button Top 10 every Sunday in the blog (sort of our Top 5 list on steroids), and Sunday's Hot List from the paper will become a blog feature starting next week. You got all that!?

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

August 21, 2015

Have NFL controversies made you less a fan? Poll. Vote now!; plus our exclusive on LeBatard's move, Ryan the Giant Slayer, Kiper's rookie rank, 2 Canes get honor, 'Weighing The Fish,' judging Miami team unis, best-fans verdict & more


1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 21. I'n back up at Random Evidence Laboratories today raising from the slab the Sunday notes-column package. 2) Miami Hurricanes are offering their fans "personalized web pages," with your surname seen on the back of a jersey. Um, OK then. 3) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Grading South Florida teams' fans (with poll), 'Fins at 50' project, Louis Delmas, Heat projection, dog-saving Jarvis Landry, The List & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' project: The Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click on FINS AT 50 to access the entire project and all of its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on the great Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for, well, for the Dolphins' all-time team. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with not only Shula but also with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Enjoy!

1aa1ajamisonrRyan the Giant Slayer: David used a slingshot to drop Goliath. This guy wielded a 9-iron on the field. Click on Meet Ryan Jamison for today's latest column by me, on how a little-known Division II college golf coach from Nova Southeastern University beat Erik Spoelstra and every other bigger-name in the Miami Herald's best-current-coach-in-South Florida poll.

Kiper's rookie rank: As fantasy drafts near ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. vomits this list of his top 12 fantasy rookies for 2015, fronted by Chargers RB Melvin Gordon. Of special note in South Florida, Colts WR Phillip Dorsett, the ex-Hurricane, ranks sixth, and Dolphins WR DeVante Parker ranks seventh.

OUR OBSESSIVE LOVE OF NFL FOOTBALL OUTWEIGHS ALL OF ITS CONTROVERSIES: The preceding headline puts in a nutshell the premise of Thursday's column by me; click on Arrows Bouncing Off The 1aa1agoodell 1aa1adolfansShield to read in full. The vast majority of my media brethren think differently, even though by most every measure of popularity the NFL withstands every scandal that has hit it -- the ongoing Tom Brady federal-court case just the latest. I believe America's love of the NFL is so deep, augmented by fantasy leagues and gambling, that interest has not been diminished even a little by Ray Rice or Deflategate or anything else that has made for ugly headlines. Of course, I may be wrong! I invite you to tell me if I am in this poll. Be honest: Are you less interested in the NFL -- watching or following less -- because of all that has made life rough for Roger Goodell? Vote and say why.

EXCLUSIVE: LEBATARD ESPN RADIO SHOW EXPECTED TO MOVE TO EARLIER IN DAY: It is not official yet. ESPN has yet to announce it. But readers of this blog knew it first, whether our exclusive 1aa1adanwas properly credited by others repeating the news or not: The popular, ratings-winning Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz is planning a move from its current afternoon radio time slot to earlier in the day. Barring an unexpected last-minute snag, the show will air 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN Radio in the space vacated by departing Colin Cowherd, still with a possibility of adding a local hour from 9 to 10. Currently the show airs 4-7 p.m, with a local-only hour from 3-4. The change is expected to take effect around mid-September. LeBatard will continue to air locally as well on The Ticket Miami. His local afternoon slot may be filled by Izzy Gutierrez and Ethan Skolnick, although that is not yet official.

2 CANES GET FWAA 'ALL-75TH' HONORS: The Football Writers Association of America this week unveiled
1aa1ahendrickstedits 75th Anniversary college All-America team, honoring 75 players on three teams of 25 each. (Complete teams here). Two Miami Hurricanes are honored -- DE Ted Hendricks (pictured) on the first team and S Ed Reed on the second. Three Florida State Seminoles are mentioned -- CB Deion Sanders first team, WR Fred Belitnikoff second and punter Rohn Stark third. Two Florida Gators honored are QB Tim Tebow second team and DE Jack Youngblood third.

WEIGHING THE FISH (120 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and 1aa1afishweighthis year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the now-departed Michael Morse). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race drawn close by Stanton's continuing injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 120 games (at 49-71):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @110

1  Dee Gordon                402.4    2

2  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   344.3   3

4  Christian Yelich         280.5   4

5  Jacob Realmuto          280.1   5

6  Martin Prado              265.9   6

7  Justin Bour                 235.2    8

8  Marcell Ozuna            228.3   7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              215.3   9

10  Derek Dietrich          178.6   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 3.

MIAMI UNIFORMS LAGGING IN SARTORIAL SPLENDOR: ESPN.com's "Uni Watch" ranks the 20 cities with at least three teams in the Big Four sports and the top-5 best-dressed are Boston (9.13 average score), 1aa1abig4unisPittsburgh (8.83), Chicago (8.50), Philadelphia (8.38) and San Francisco Bay (8.17). The hobos in the rear are Tampa Bay 19th (3.00) and Atlanta dead last (2.67). Miami (5.50) falls just below average in 12th place. ESPN's synopisis: "The Heat are an interesting case. They keep rolling out one alternate uniform after another (black, white, red, sleeved, nicknames on the back, etc.), but they all look good because their core design is so strong. As for the rest of Miami's teams, they're a mixed bag. But hey, at least the Marlins have gone back to wearing their gray jerseys on the road this season. The previous two seasons, they only wore black on the road." MIA's 5.5 is an average of: Heat 8, Panthers 6, Dolphins 5, Marlins 3.

Poll result: Heat, Dolphins (in that order) dominate for best fans: We asked which major South Florida sports team has the best fans, and it was the Heat with 41.3 percent and the Dolphins with 34.6% combining for about three-quarters of all votes among eight choices. Hurricanes football was a distant third with 10.6%.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 18, 2015

MLS in Miami! Beckham, city agree on stadium site; plus which South Florida sports team is earning most fan optimism? (poll); also, a Dolphin's brush with homelessness, Bill Arnsparger, Marlins back, ESPYs, UM's dumb jersey policy & more


1aa1amacharper1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 18. I'm back up at Random Evidence Laboratories conjuring the Sunday notes column package. 2) At right, mom Jenny Harper (no relation) cleverly spoofs Bryce Harper's recent 'Body' cover by substituting her baby Mac. Cuuute! 3) I
n The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Riley's big summer with poll, Forbes most-valuable-teams list, LeBatard auction, baseball hits home run, Stanton's new PSA, pizza chicken wings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too. (Our followers on Twitter get automatic Periscope alerts).

R.I.P., Bill Arnsparger:
The longtime Dolphins defensive coordinator, architect of the champion "No-Name" defense and later the "Killer B's" and a pioneer of the situational substitution, died today at 88. Don Shula said today, "
If there was a Hall of Fame for assistant coaches, he would be one of the very first inductees." One could make a strong argument (and I would) that, after only Shula himself, Arnsparger had the most impact of any coach in the franchise's history. 

Spieth and the solo charge: Been quite a year for stars in the major non-team sports. American Pharoah made history. Serena Williams and Jordan Spieth are chasing it. I write about Spieth and the year of the solo sports star in today's latest column. Click on Standing Alone, And Apart to read in full.


The David Beckham/Sprint group and city of Miami this morning agreed to build a 25,000-seat, privately funded stadium at the old Orange Bowl site near Marlins Park. The capacity could be adjusted slightly. The University of Miami, a prospective partner to play football there, is not involved at this time. Beckham sought and fought for a stadium near the water, understandably preferring the Port of Miami site, but couldn't make it happen. The site chosen is fairly centrally located and not a bad one. My latest column is on this topic. Click on A Win For Soccer Fans -- And Taxpayers, Too to read in full.


A DOLPHIN'S BRUSH WITH HOMELESSNESS: Dolphins rookie safety Cedric Thompson (pictured), a fifth- 

1aa1acedrictround pick
out of Minnesota who probably is a longshot to make the team, has a new blog and his first post is about meeting a homeless man near a local Publix, and what happened next. An excerpt: "We’re standing at the deli counter and I ask him what he wants. He says he’d like two pieces of chicken. I was like, 'That’s all you want? Look man, if you want something to eat, you need to eat until you’re full. You’re a grown man, I don’t think two pieces of chicken are going to fill you up, so get what you want.'" Click here to visit Cedric's blog and read the whole story. Spoiler alert: He did the right thing.

PULSE-READ: WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA 'BIG 5' TEAM IS INSPIRING THE MOST OPTIMISM AT THE MOMENT?: Periodically I write sort of a State of the Union on Greater Miami's Big 5 sports teams, which I count as the pro-side Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers along with Hurricanes football on the 1aa1aoptimismcollege side. Click on State of the Big 5 to read our recent column in full. Now I invite your thoughts. We last took this same pulse-read in February and I'll be interested to compare results, because in five months much has changed since our February poll. The Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh. The Heat missed the playoffs but retooled. The Marlins have disappointed (thus far) in an injury-marred season. The Panthers showed an NHL-best 25-point improvement. And the Hurricanes completed spring practice. So who's in the best shape moving forward and earning the most fan optimism in the Summer of '15? Please try to not make this a favorite-team poll. It isn't. (In other words, give the Panthers a fighting chance by at least considering them!) The intent here is to honestly gauge which of our most prominent teams has most earned our collective optimism. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

MARLINS RESUME WITH LONG ROAD TRIP: Marlins bounce off the All-Star break with a 10-game roadie starting tonight in Philadelpia, with Jose Fernandez on the mound. Dee Gordon will return from injury soon though perhaps not on this trip. Giancarlo Stanton's return also is getting close. And Henderson Alvarez could rejoin the rotation by late this month. All three teams on this trip (Phils, Arizona, San Diego) have losing records, so this is a chance for Miami -- 10 games back in the wild-card standings -- to rekindle a flicker of hope in what has been a depressing season thus far. 

ESPY REVIEW: LEBRON WINS BEST-CHAMPIONSHIP-MOMENT FOR NOT WINNING CHAMPIONSHIP: Almost felt bad for LeBron James winning that "Best Championship Moment" ESPY Wednesday night for his play in the NBA 1aa1acaitlyn
Finals, which Cleveland lost. He seemed a bit embarrassed, and understandably. Dear ESPN: Y'all might want to limit that category to athletes who actually won a championship. Just a thought. Click here for a complete list of winners. A few other observations: Glad U.S. women's soccer won Best Team ..... Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner, pictured, handled her Courage award speech with humor and grace, and makes a terrific rep for the transgender community ..... ESPN goes a bit overboard with the pathos, the tinkling-piano, emotional pieces, but does them well ..... Serena Williams should have won Best Female Athlete over Ronda Rousey ..... If ever an animal should win an ESPY, it was American Pharoah, which, alas, didn't ..... Most ridiculous of all, for me: Little League sensation Mo'ne Davis beating Jordan Spieth for Best Breakout Athlete. C'mon!

ON UM'S NEW, SELF-DEFEATING JERSEY-SALES POLICY: Starting this year the University Miami is offering only two football jersey numbers for retail sales to fans: No. 1 (to represent "We're No. 1!") and 1aa1abadideaNo. 15 (representing 2015, and changing every season to mark the year). They luck out this year because the team's biggest star, quarterback Brad Kaaya, happens to wear No. 15. Most years, the two numbers offered won't concide with a star player and sales will suffer. "To me," explains athletic director Blake James, "the right thing to do is not pick particular numbers of your stars." Yeah, that would make too much sense. It might promote the program too much. Grow the profile of the team too much. Blake says UM did not adopt its new, generic jersey sales policy in response to the landmark Ed O'Bannon litigation that would allow athletes to be paid for use of their likenesses or images (or names on a jersey). Clearly, though, from UM's vantage, limiting jersey sales is a hedge against that happening should the NCAA lose its appeal in the case.

Poll result: Whopping 80 percent think Heat will at least reach Eastern finals: We invited you to set the bar on Heat expectations in wake of Pat Riley's big summer, and 80 percent thought Miami would either win the East and reach NBA Finals (41.7%) or reach East finals but lose (38.3%). Another 16.8% thought Heat would advance in playoffs but fall short of finals, while 3.2% saw an early playoff exit.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 06, 2015

"Let's gooooo States!" The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): U.S. wins World Cup, D.Wade, Jose, Serena, Fins, Chile, Aldridge, cycling, Cats and dogs; plus Marlins All-Stars, 'Body' nude, LeBatard & more


1aa1aflagme1) It is MONDAY, JULY 6. Hope y'all had a safe and fun Fourth of July and long holiday weekend. Happy 239th, America! Pictured is a photo I posted on Instagram of the flag in my yard as fireworks boomed over my neighborhood. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane vs. Jose poll, Confederate fag result & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

Random Evidence: The Sunday notes column: Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes column package.

"Let's gooooo States!" U.S. clubbed Japan 5-2 last night in Canada to convincingly win the Women's World Cup -- USA's third championship and first since 1999. Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and the Americans were favored and delivered, and of course as a ("U-S-A!") journalist I was a perfectly ("U-S-A!") neutral observer. "Let's gooooo States!"

1aa1agymnastESPN 'Body' issue: It's out in the magazine and online, ESPN's annual gratuitous platform allowing naturally narcissistic athletes to be even more narcissistic by showing us that their wonderful athleticism is a tribute to their even more wonderful bodies. Pictured right: Gymnast Aly Raisman, until my editors tell me to take the pic down, which I'm sure they wouldn't since it's, like, you know, all over ESPN.

Marlins All-Stars: All-Star Game starters based on fan voting were announced on ESPN last night, and as expected the Marlins' Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton made it, Gordon leading NL second basemen in voting and Stanton (though he's injured and won't play) finishing second among NL outfielders. The Marlins previously had only two players voted to start the ASG: Gary Sheffield (3B, 1993) and Hanley Ramirez (SS, 2008-10). Reserves will be announced tonight.

LeBatard cameo on 'Ballers': Dan LeBatard had a small speaking role on HBO's Miami-based Ballers series last night, seen wearing a 'Miami' cap, smoking a cigar and asking Dwyane Johnson what his end-game was. I loved his appearance, mostly because now so I can make fun of him on the radio Tuesday.

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

1. SOCCER: U.S. beats Japan, wins Women’s World Cup: Four years ago Japan beat the United States on penalty kicks in the championship match. Last night, the U.S. sought its revenge and resoundingly got it with a 5-2 rout in a WWC final rematch in Canada -- led by Carli Lloyd's three goals. This is where I’d drop in a quick Pearl Harbor reference, but that might be seen as politically incorrect so I'd better not.

1aa1ahotbutton2. HEAT: Wade re-signs with Miami, but for only one year: Huge week for Heat with Luol Deng staying, Goran Dragic signing long-term, Michael Beasley cut, Justise Winslow starring as Heat summer-league team opened play, plus that pointless pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge. But of course the biggest new was Dwyane Wade re-upping. Call  it drama, delayed. Won’t the Heat and Wade be doing this same contract dance a year from now? That’s what a one-year deal gives you. No complaint, though. A starting lineup of Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh, Deng, Dragic and Wade can win. (Had better, anyway!)

3. MARLINS: Fernandez makes winning return after year’s absence: It had been more than a year — 419 days — since Jose Fernandez last pitched before his triumphant comeback Thursday. He improved to 13-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Marlins Park. Isn’t there some way to convince him that every time he pitches it’s a home game? Hypnosis, perhaps?

4. TENNIS: Serena survives scare as Wimbledon, faces sister next: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams seem championship-bound as Wimbledon begins its second week. Serena survived an upset bid by Heather Watson on Friday but must now face sister Venus today/Monday. Meanwhile this was the fourth Wimbledon in a row in which Rafael Nadal has been ousted early and ingloriously. Might be time to bring back the Capri pants.

5. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule: The Dolphins announced their historic 50th anniversary season would begin July 30 with the official start of preseason training camp, two weeks of practices segueing into the first exhibition game. Anniversaries less impressive than the 50th include this being the 42nd season since their last Super Bowl.

6. SOCCER: Chile upset winner in Copa America: Beating Argentina on penalty kicks to win Copa America marked Chile's biggest international title ever. Finally, a message to Brazil and Argentina that South America has other teams, too.

7. NBA: LaMarcus Aldridge to Spurs: San Antonio bags NBA's No. 1 actually-might-leave-his team free agent with power forward Aldridge leaving Portland. Heat's Pat Riley had flown to L.A. to meet with Aldridge, the Godfather's biggest wasted trip since that meeting with LeBron James a year ago.

8. CYCLING: Tour de France gets underway: Still going despite all of its various doping scandals, the latest Tour de Fraud France has begun. It must be so difficult for those cyclists to peddle up mountains while simultaneously providing urine samples.

9. PANTHERS: Cats stage four-day developmental camp: It was for recent draftees and other first-year players and included “team building” activities such as a beach outing and a Marlins game. Hmm. I’d rather my team win but not get along than lose and sing Kumbaya.

10. HOT DOGS: Annual gorging contest held on Coney Island: Answer: I would sooner watch vultures disemboweling maggot-covered carrion in a roadside ditch. Question: Did you watch Saturday’s annual hot dog-eating contest? Dear "competitive eating" fad: You were cute for a while. Go away, please.

Missing the HB10 cut: Golf, Doral standing behind Donald Trump, for now. Dan LeBatard cameo on HBO's Ballers tonight. Strikers lose to Boca Juniors. Brett Favre, 45, says he could still play. ESPN Body issue out today/Monday as our most narcissistic athletes celebrate themselves.

Poll result: Dwyane edges Jose for biggest story: Admittedly it was an apples-and-oranges question that (predictably) caused a smallish response, but we asked it anyway, and Dwyane Wade re-upping with the Heat was judged a bigger story than Jose Fernandez's comeback game by 59.2 percent to 40.8%.

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June 29, 2015

Wade opts out as expected, Winslow will be Heat's biggest draft star since 2003.The new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more


1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 29. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton injured, Heat-draft-Justise Winslow poll, Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers draft & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

WADE OPTS OUT: Heat star Dwyane Wade will opt out of the final year of his Miami contract and become a free agent, ESPN reports this afternoon in this story. The move is fully expected and had been anticipated for weeks. It does not mean that Wade and the Heat won't continue as partners. It does mean that the sides must come to terms on a new contract of that is to happen, with negotiations set to begin on Wednesday.  

The new column: Setting the bar sky-high for Justise Winslow: Click on No Ceiling, No Doubts for my latest column, on Heat top draft pick Justise Winslow, online now and shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions. Elsewhere in Heatville, in addition to Wade opting out, Luol Deng announcing today he is opting-in and staying with Heat, perhaps a mild surprise because there were media reports suggesting otherwise. Also, team announcing it won't pick up option on Michael Beasley -- no surprise at all.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami drafts Duke's Winslow, confronts Wade uncertainty: Heat hit big and fans were delighted Thursday night as team got Duke swingman Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft. I won big, too, after investing, on a hunch, in lame media references such a "Justise Is Served" and "League of Justise." Now Heat fans turn from delighted to wringing-hands anxious as Dwyane Wade prepares to opt out and become a free agent by tonight's midnight deadline, his future in Miami uncertain as contract negotiations begin Wednesday.

2. MARLINS: Stanton injured, Fernandez's return to mound on deck: MLB home-run leader Giancarlo Stanton is sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist, likely for four to six weeks, adding injury to the insult of a disappointing season for Miami that has included nine losses in past 11 games. Now speculation swirls that Miami may be sellers, not buyers, before the trade deadline. I’d say there isn't much more reason to watch, except at least Jose Fernandez’s long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery is set for this Thursday, here, vs. the Giants.

3. PANTHERS: Cats host NHL Draft, target goal-scoring help: Big week for the Panthers. Florida hosted the NHL Draft in Sunrise and took 6-4 winger Lawson Crouse 11th overall after earlier celebrating Aaron Ekblad’s NHL rookie of the year honor. But stop reading here if you believe in bad omens: After Florida hosted the draft for the first time in 2001, it missed the playoffs the next nine seasons.

4. SOCCER: U.S. faces Germany in Women's World Cup semfinals: The Americans beat China 1-0 on Friday to advance to the semifinals against Germany on Tuesday in a meeting of WWC co-favorites. American soccer fans would be thrilled (and surprised) if the U.S. men got this far, but it’s championship-or-bust for the women’s team.

5. TENNIS: As Wimbledon begins, can anybody stop Serena Williams?: The fortnight at Wimbledon starts today/Monday (cue strawberries-and-cream references) with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams the favorites, as usual. Serena goes for her fourth consecutive major. Injury might stop Serena. Sometimes disinterest has. Other women players? Not so much.  

6. DOLPHINS: Fins win offseason, now off until training camp: In late July, the preseason will start with Dolphins training camp. For now, thanks to signing Ndamukong Suh and extending Ryan Tannehill’s contract, I declare Miami to be NFL Offseason Champion! No rings for that. No parade. The reward is the heavier expectations you lug into August.

7. DEFLATEGATE: NFL hears Tom Brady's appeal of suspension: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Patriots quarterback for four games based on the result of an independent investigation paid for by Goodell's league. So who hears and will rule on Brady's appeal? Goodell! Hmm.

8. PETE ROSE: Latest revelation ends last Cooperstown hopes: Then again, is it really shocking that Pete Rose, who previously admitted to betting on his team as a manager, also is now determined to have bet on his team as a player, too? 

9. CONFEDERATE FLAG: When politics and social issues seep into sports: The growing move to abolish the Confederate flag in the wake of the South Carolina church shootings has seeped into sports, such as NASCAR chairman Brian France saying his sport will be "aggressive" in disassociating the symbol from its events. Aside to Confederate flag supporters: The Civil War was in the 1860s. Might be time to move on.

10. NUDE ATHLETES: Roster announced for ESPN mag's 'Body' issue: ESPN The Magazine announced the 24 sports figures who are to appear nude (though artfully covered) in its latest “Body” issue due out July 6, and they include Bryce Harper, Kevin Love and Dan LeBatard. OK, I made up that last one.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross teams with Qatari investors in bid to buy Formula One racing circuit. And Sean "Diddy" Combs arrested for allegedly swinging kettlebell during confrontation with a UCLA assistant coach who supposedly mistreated Combs’ son.

Poll result: Overwhelming thumbs-up for Heat drafting Justise Winslow: We asked your initial reaction to Miami selecting Duke's Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft and 86.0 percent answered "very favorable" and another 8.7% "somewhat favorable. A negligible few answered either very (2.8%) or somewhat (2.5%) unfavorable. 

Poll result: Solid support for keeping Dwyane Wade: We asked you to describe how much you want the Heat to re-sign Dwyane Wade and more than 80 percent answered either "a lot" (48.3%) or "the max" (32.6%). Fewer than 20 percent answered either "a little" (11.1%) or "none" (8.0%).

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June 27, 2015

Ouch! Giancarlo Stanton has broken bone in wrist, placed on DL; plus poll on Heat drafting Duke's Justise Winslow (vote now); also Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers' big week & more


1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 27. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column off on vacation the past two weeks, returns this Sunday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cote Does Paris (a travelogue), Hot Button Top 10, Heat draft projection, latest Weighing The Fish, Dolphins still King & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine -- and now Periscope, too.

STANTON OUT WITH INJURED WRIST, ON D.L.: Fox MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal first reported this morning 1aa1agstantonthat Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton -- the sport's home run and RBI leader -- has a broken bone in his hand. ESPN's Tim Kurkjian further reported it is the hamate bone in Stanton's left hand and that he will have surgery and be sidelined four to six weeks. The Marlins later today called it a wrist injury in placing Stanton on the 15-day disabled list. (The hamate is located at the joint of the wrist and hand). Stanton had complained of soreness after last night's home loss to the Dodgers. Reeling Miami has now lost five games in a row, the Stanton injury compounding the disappointing season. He'd been about the main reason to still watch. Stanton will obviously miss the upcoming All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. I'd first speculated he'd likely be out a couple of months; fortunately he could be back a bit sooner, and going on the 15-day DL (not longer) may be a positive sign. I remember Joe Robbie once lamenting how the Dolphins were "wasting the Marino years." Well, the Marlins were wasting Stanton's this year. He'd been great. His 27 homers lead the majors. His season pace was around 59, pre-injury. But it hasn't been enough. Stanton was headed toward being the first big-leaguer since 2002 to top 50 homers for a losing team. Now, the injury makes his reaching 40 seem the likelier target. Tough injury track record for Stanton, and more bad luck for the snakebit Fish.

Stanton tops local ESPY nominees: ESPN's ESPY Awards, the Worldwide Leader's annual 
font of shameless self-promotion, air July 18 and five nominees in six of the 31 categories have strong, ongoing South Florida ties: Marlins' Stanton (best MLB player); Palm Beach's Serena Williams (best female athlete, best female tennis player); Miamian Juan Pablo Montoya (best driver); Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez (best comeback); and ex-Hurricane Devin Hester (best record-breaking performance, for 20th punt-return TD).

HEAT DRAFT WINSLOW 10TH OVERALL!: Click on Contingency Plan for my column on this week's Heat draft. With both players taken, Miami is preparing itself for the possibility the Dwyane Wade era may be ending, or at least planning for that eventuality. Original post: The Miami Heat on Thursday night drafted Duke small-forward Justise Winslow (pictured right) with its first-round NBA Draft pick, 10th overall. Winslow is a 6-6, 222-pounder who could fit 1aa1ajwinslowthe role currently occupied by Luol Deng but more likely could be an NBA shooting guard -- Dwyane Wade's position. In fact Duke coach Mike Krzyzewki compared Winslow to Wade in an interview earlier this season. Later Thursday night Miami specifically targeted a proper shooting guard, Tennessee's Josh Richardson (pictured left), with its second-round pick. Smart planning? Message to Dwyane? I found it interesting that Wade, a pending free 1aa1ajoshrAgent who wants to see the  money, did not Tweet congratulations to Winslow when he was drafted by Miami. Chris Bosh did. But Wade didn't. Doesn't prove anything. Interesting, though. Pat Riley said there is "no doubt" he wants to re-sign Wade, but doing so may be tough. Asked if he is concerned Wade may leave, Riley began, "I'm not a pessimist" -- which does not exactly shout confidence. It all begins to play out July 1, when Wade (presumably) will opt out and negotiations may begin. Anyway, back to the draft. I liked Miami's stake. Heat got two very talented players, and love Winslow's versatility. Your thoughts on Miami selecting Winslow No. 1 go here. Vote now and say why.

HOW MUCH DO HEAT FANS WANT WADE BACK?: The title here of the link to my earlier Miami Herald column, on the Heat/Dwyane Wade contract disagreement, cuts to the chase of my opinion: Pay Him. I think Wade, at 33, still is worth 1aa1adwadecloser to what he's reportedly asking than to what the club reportedly wants to offer. His Heat future is Greater Miami's hottest sports topic with his looming decision whether to opt-out and seek free agency. As teammate-for-now Hassan Whiteside Tweeted this morning: "Man if another person ask me if d wade staying in Miami I'm going to lose it! I DONT KNOW!!! I just catch LOBS from the man." I hope there is compromise when the sides meet in the coming days and that Wade stays. I hope it because of all Wade and has done for the Heat and meant to South Florida. I also hope it because I think Wade, though past his prime, yes, remains a valuable asset moving forward. However, I have been surprised by the mixed reaction to my column. Many staunchly agree with my pro-Wade assessment but many other emailers are conveying they see him as fading and injury prone and think this is the right time for the club to move on without him. That mixed reaction spawns this poll. Weigh in and say why you feel as you do.

NHL DRAFT CAPS PANTHERS' BIG WEEK: Panthers drafted Ontario winger Lawson Crouse, 18, with the 11th overall pick in yesterday's NHL Draft -- hosted by the Cats in Sunrise. (The draft ends today). Unlike 1aa1acrousethe NBA Draft, the NHL Draft is cloaked in mystery because very few of us had heard of any of the guys drafted let alone seen them play. So I won't be presumptuous enough to guess whether the picks is good or not. But I like the idea of it, its aim. Florida needs a big-time goal scorer, and Crouse is a 6-4, 215- pounder that GM Dale Tallon described as a "power forward." Now we wait to see if he's that 30-goal scorer the Cats crave. Meantime, it was a big week for the franchise, which lasted hosted the draft in 2001. Give some weight, too, to Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad winning NHL rookie of the year honors this week. It is only the ninth time in 120 combined seasons that a player has been ROY for one of our Big Four pro teams. The Marlins have had four: Dontrelle Willis in 2003, Hanley Ramirez in 2006, Chris Coghlan in 2009 and Jose Fernandez in 2013. The Dolphins have had three (per The Associated Press): A.J. Duhe in 1977, Troy Stradford in 1987 and Tim Bowens in 1994. Ekblad is the Panthers' second, after Jonathan Huberdeau in 2012-13. The Heat, surprisingly, have never had a rookie of the year.

Panthers announce schedule: Florida announced its 2015-16 NHL schedule, set to open at home Oct. 10 vs. Philadelphia. Click here for the full schedule.

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