June 08, 2018

In search of Dolphins' elusive Grand Plan. My new column; plus how Trump hijacked NFL anthem protest cause, The List (NBA Finals sweeps), LeBron Summer Sweepstakes & more


1) It's FRIDAY, JUNE 8. Happy to be on this morning talking Miami sports with my old buddy Dan Sileo on 97.3 The Fan in San Diego. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your LeBron vs. Michael poll verdict, Dolphins Beef-O-Meter, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GaseIN SEARCH OF THE DOLPHINS' GRAND PLAN (OR TO SEE IF THERE IS ONE): I have coined it, "The Dolphins Disconnect" -- the gulf between the optimism you hear from Adam Gase (pictured) and his team and the consistently low expectations on the outside. The latest indication: ESPN's annual NFL offseason grades for each team, out this week. Miami is given a C-minus, ranking 30th of the 32 teams. (Detroit and Carolina are the only lower-graded teams, each with a D, while elsewhere in the AFC East, the Patriots get an A-minus, the the Jets a B and the Bills a C). I tackle the state of the Dolphins in my latest column. To read, click In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand Plan.

SignHOW TRUMP'S AWFUL (YET BRILLIANT) SUBTERFUGE HIJACKED NFL PROTEST CAUSE: Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins held signs such as the one pictured -- YOU AREN'T LISTENING -- in response to media questions yesterday about Don Trump uninviting his team from a White House visit. It is the perfect sign of frustration to illustrate my most recent column, on how President Trump's awful yet calculated and politically self-serving subterfuge -- lying -- has brilliantly (for him) hijacked the NFL's anthem protest cause to wrongly make it about the flag and patriotism. As myself,  Jenkins and others will remind, the cause is about police shootings of unarmed black men. It is about racism, profiling and social injustice. It is about trying to open eyes and make America better. It is not about what Trump says it is as he unfairly paints protesting players as un-American ingrates who should be fired from the league -- almost as if First Amendment rights such as freedom of expression did not exist. To read my column, click on Uninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's Subterfuge.

LebLEBRON WON'T WIN JUNE. BUT HE'LL WIN JULY: A 3-0 NBA Finals series hole entering tonight's Game 4 all but verifies LeBron James won't be winning the championship. The question is, who'll be winning LeBron James a few weeks later, in free agency? In this week's column, I list what I consider to be the four favorites in order. Is the Miami Heat one of them? To read the column, click Handicapping the LeBron Summer SweepstakesOther most recent columns: When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & GamesThe King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

THE LIST: NBA FINALS SWEEPS: This is the 72nd NBA Finals. With Golden State now leading Cleveland 3-0, it could be only the ninth Finals to end in a sweep. The eight 4-0 shutouts in league history:

Year    Result                                                                           Winning coach, Finals MVP

1959   Boston Celtics def. Minneapolis Lakers               Red Auerbach, Elgin Baylor

1971   Milwaukee Bucks def. Baltimore Bullets              Larry Costello, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1975   Golden State Warriors def. Washington Bullets  Al Attles, Rick Barry

1983   Philadelphia 76ers def. Los Angeles Lakers        Billy Cunningham, Moses Malone

1989   Detroit Pistons def. Los Angeles Lakers              Chuck Daly, Joe Dumars

1995   Houston Rockets def. Orlando Magic                   Rudy Tomjanovich, Hakeem Olajuwon

2002   Los Angeles Lakers def. New Jersey Nets          Phil Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal

2007   San Antonio Spurs def. Cleveland Cavaliers      Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker

Notes: No Finals MVP was named in 1959; Baylor was series' leading scorer. Losing Lakers coach in 1983 and '89 was current Heat president Pat Riley.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye. (For all of our most recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 14, 2018

New: Canes on right side in Arkansas State mess ... but will the Force (Majeure) be with them?; plus video in honor of Black History Month, Happy Valentine's Day, newest Dolphins draft guess, America's Dog & more


Valentine1) It's WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to all the sweethearts out there, especially my wonderful wife! (I'd get credit for that, if she read my blog). 2) Click on Strange Signs! for the new Back In My Day video that debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 3) 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. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot BUtton Top 10, latest Back In My Day video (Strange Signs!), D.Wade homecoming trilogy, LeBron flexes power, your Winter Olympics verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW COLUMN: ON CANES VS. ARKANSAS STATE -- THE COURT CASE: Miami would have won the football game pretty easily. Because there was no game, there might now be a court case, and winning that won't e so easy for Miami. It's the football game that turned into a mess, with Miami on the morally right side, but not necessarily the legally right side. We explore in our latest column. To read, click on UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them?

Our most recent other columns: LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. And the Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade.

IN HONOR OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH: A poignant new video from the great Mavis Staples for her song, "If All I Was Was Black":
In a new mock draft from the Washington Post -- whose new doomsday-feel slogan is "Democracy Dies In Darkness," as an aside) has the Dolphins selecting Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (pictured) 11th overall. Reasonable guess. Position of need. But I'm still banging the drum for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, if he lasts that long. There seems to be building momentum for the Broncos taking Mayfield at No. 5 overall, although that seems high. Still think Miami could have a shot.

BichonFLYNN THE BICHON FRISE' NAMED AMERICA'S TOP DOG: Flynn is pictured at left. A Bichon Frise' looks like a poodle on steroids. Do they drug-test these canines? "Bichon frise'" is a French phrase meaning "curly lap dog." The small, button-eyed breed is in the non-sporting group, meaning it just sits around annoying the neighbors by emitting a high-pitched, strident bark. Nevertheless, Flynn won Best in Show on Tuesday at the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at New York's Madison Square Garden in New York. Following the show the small, foofy champion was mauled by a German shepherd. OK I made up that last part. Flynn is alive and well: America's Top Dog!

Select other recent columns: Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last. Dear Canton: Call Zach. Also: Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamA Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins PegasusAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo 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 Riback

Thank You, Edwin Pope.Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 28, 2017

Trump vs. NFL: Poll. Vote now!; plus UM hoops scandal, R.I.P. Hefner, Herald NFL Week 3 QB rankings, new 'Back In My Day,' NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 3 results, 2 Canes Top 5 in latest SOPY standings & more


Lebpod1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27. #HelpPuertoRicoNow. 2) Click on Toys! for my latest Back In My Day segment from the LeBatard Show. 3) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite last week's performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed by Jets with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"R.I.P., Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder, gone at 91. Red velvet smoking jackets are hanging at half-mast." --Greg Cote

Hurricanes men's basketball scandal: A member of Jim Larranaga's staff is implicated in the nationwide FBI investigation of corruption in college basketball recruiting. Click on Larranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now This to read my latest column. 

Bears-Packers pick: NFL Week 4 kicks off tonight at Lambeau Field with King Sport's oldest rivalry. Click on Thursday Gem for our prediction capsule.

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

TrumpathletesTRUMP VS. ATHLETE ACTIVISM. WHO'S RIGHT?: Some NFL players kneel during the National Anthem or in other ways protest police treatment of unarmed black men and other prejudice. President Donald Trump called such players a "son of a bitch" at an Alabama rally and suggested they should be required to stand or be "suspended or fired." I tackle this dense topic in today's latest column; click on Trump Is Wrong, Needs Lesson On What Freedom Means to read. My take: Not only do athletes have the right to not stand, they are doing so for a righteous cause. They are not being anti-American as Trump suggests. Their actions are not anti-country, flag, anthem or military. But that's just me. Your opinion is invited here:

SMITH-BRADY DEAD HEAT, CUTLER SLIPS / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 3: The Patriots' Tom Brady (pictured) wins Week 3 with a 53.90-point game, his Tbradysecond straight weekly title, to pull nearly even with the Chefs' Alex Smith for the overall season lead in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler, off a below-par game, slips one spot to 25th but has played one fewer game than others in the chart, and these are cumulative ratings. 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.

RK   LW   Player, Team                     WK3            Season
1        1     Alex Smith, KC                  29.75           120.70
2        8     Tom Brady, NE                   53.90           120.60
3        4     Aaron Rodgers, GB            40.65            111.35
4        6     Drew Brees, NO                40.00            107.35
5       14    Jared Goff, LAR                44.60              97.10
6        9     Matt Ryan, ATL                 29.70              96.35
7       16    Eli Manning, NYG              44.30              96.25
8       18    Kirk Cousins, WAS              52.25             96.20
9        3     Matthew Stafford, DET      21.20             92.90
10      2     Derek Carr, OAK                  9.90             89.50
11     11    Carson Wentz, PHI             27.80             87.80
12      7     Ben Roethlisberger, PIT     19.75              87.05
13     15    Dak Prescott, DAL             28.15              80.45
14     10    Trevor Siemian, DEN          14.95             77.45
15     22    Tyrod Taylor, BUF               35.65             74.10  
25     24    Jay Cutler, MIA                  19.00             53.50
    Bubble: Russell Wilson, SEA, 73.45. Week 3 best: Brady, NE, 53.90 (25-35, 378, 5-0 in win). Week 3 worst: Joe Flacco, BAL, minus-6.60 (8-18, 28, 0-2 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 3 RESULTS: Every Tuesday in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and Fripix Loboswith my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. In Week 3: Herald picks: Embarrassing! -- And you thought the Dolphins were bad!? I went a terrible 7-9 straight-up and a woeful 4-10-2 against the spread. If this isn't my worst week all year, I'm in trouble. Did nail an outright upset with Colts over Browns and had two 'dogs with points in Giants and Saints, but, otherwise my week was exemplified by having the Lions beating the Falcons and having that bull's-eye snatched from me. Greg's Lobos: Back on the W Train! -- The Lobos improved to 2-1 by whipping Pablo Torre 119.4-99.5, led by Todd Gurley's big 37.9 points. He's early frontrunner for Lobo of the Year. We are the Gurley men!

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 4: TWO CANES IN FOUR-MAN RACE FOR 'STATE HEISMAN' LEAD: With Irma's upheaval past and full schedules back, the State
MwaltonOffensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings are heating up. What we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race show the top four players separated from Sopythe pack including a pair of Hurricanes as we enter Collball Week 5. UM running back Mark Walton (pictured) bumps up to No. 2 in the standings off a state-FBS-best 214-point game vs. Toledo. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 5:

2017 SOPY WEEK 4 TOP 10

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.        Total-Games

1    2    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb             198.50      397-2

2    3    Mark Walton-Miami rb                191.00      382-2

3    1    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb           190.25     761-4

4    4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                184.50      369-2

5    6    Alex McGough-FIU qb                 121.83      365.5-3

6    5    Travis Homer-Miami rb               111.50      223-2

7    --    Devin Singletary, FAU-rb            111.00      444-4

8   10    Darius Tice, SoFla-rb                 103.50      414-4

9    --    D'Ernest Johnson, SoFla-rb         101.25      405-4 

10  --    Auden Tate, FSU-rec                    95.50      191-2

Bubble: Tyrie Cleveland, Florida-rec, 92.33. Week 4 best: Walton, Miami, 214 points. Season best: Flowers, SoFla, 276 (Wk3).

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Miami (2-0), 2. South Florida (4-0), 3. Florida (2-1), 4. Florida State (0-2), 5. UCF (2-0), 6. FIU (2-1), 7. FAU (1-3).

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 08, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what falls where; plus Chris Bosh sued by porn website; also, LaVar Ball/$495 sneakers poll, R.I.P. Art Hertz, Colonel Sander's romantic side, your eSports verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more


Arthertz1) It is MONDAY, May 8. Belated condolences and an R.I.P. to Art Hertz, 83 (pictured), the Miami civic giant and former Orange Bowl Committee president. Got to know Art pretty well from my years covering Hurricanes football in the '80s. Good man. 2) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): First 2018 mock draft has bad news for Dolphins and Canes, Heat's foray into eSports/gaming with poll, updated Fins/Marlins title odds, your who-runs-this-town verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Porn, rat poop a part of lawsuit against Chris Bosh: I ain't lyin'. Click here for the story.

Latest column: Wade must check ego for any shot at Heat reunion: In my latest Sunday column I explore what could happen this summer if Wade opts out of his Bulls contract -- but might only happen if he came at a bargain price with no demands on his role. Click On The Team's Term's, Not His to read.

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. HORSE RACING: Always Dreaming takes a muddy Kentucky Derby: Always Dreaming -- Todd Pletcher-trained, with John Velazquez aboard and co-owned by Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola -- beat the mud and a big field Saturday to usher in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown at Churchill Downs. They call it the "Run For the Roses." Which also is what I do when I suddenly realize I’ve forgotten my wife’s birthday.

2. NBA: Prelims to get to Cavaliers-Warriors continue: Cleveland swept Toronto on Sunday and tonight Golden State looks to do the same in Utah. It is looking more and more like an inevitable third consecutive Cavs-Warriors Finals, which is exactly what American wants. Or doesn't. I can't decide.

3. MARLINS: Fish back to open long homestand Monday: Flailing Fish had lost nine of 11 before winning at Mets Sunday, and now face St. Louis tonight to open a nine-game homestand. Meanwhile three groups are now bidding to buy the club from Jeffrey Loria. How perfectly fitting would it be for Loria to end his unpopular reign by not selling to the fan-preferred Derek Jeter group?

4. DOLPHINS: Harris, other draftees in Fins’ rookie minicamp: Top pick Charles Harris and other draftees wrap up Miami’s weekend rookie minicamp Sunday — as much a meet-’n-greet as actual football work. Circle June 13-15, the first mandatory full minicamp, when things start to get serious.

5. LAVAR BALL: Would you buy a $495 pair of sneakers?: Super-dad LaVar Ball and his Big Baller Brand introduced a $495 signature sneaker for his NBA rookie-to-be son Lonzo Ball, thereby exponentially increasing the pressure on Lonzo to be an instant superstar. If I'm spending $495 on sneakers they'd better be stuffed with about $400 in cash.

6. NHL: Nashville first through to conference finals: Nashville became the first team to win its conference semifinal series, and now Pittsburgh can advance with a win tonight. We could see Game 7s in three of the four second-round series. That's the way you do a postseason, NBA!

7. N-WORD: Racist fan in Boston ignites outcry: A dumbass Red Sox fan shouted the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones and was banned for life from Fenway Park. Official apologies and national conversation ensued. I wonder if the fan who yelled received an I-know-what-you're-going-through note from Steve Bartman? 

8. BOXING: Alvarez pounds Chavez in Vegas fight: Canelo Alvarez won an easy decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a battle of Mexican favorites last night in Las Vegas. The weight class was super middleweight. Alas, nothing super about the fight.  

9. HURRICANES: UM breaks ground on new football facility: It was news when UM announced plans for a new $34 million indoor football practice facility. It will be news when it opens its doors in 2018. Not sure it was news this week when people in dress shoes and hardhats stood around with gold shovels for a groudbreaking, but we sure covered it like it was. Slow news week?

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes playoff hopes on deathbed: Jim Morris' guys are an uncommonly common 24-23 and in grave jeopardy of seeing their record NCAA playoff streak come to an end. Doctors are standing by ready to call a time of death. Might take the miracle of an ACC title to save the season.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes men's basketball is ranked No. 7 in the nation in an NBC Sports (very early) preseason Top 25 ranking newly out. And the bar is set. High ..... NASCAR did Talladega Sunday, with Ricky Stenhouse under the checkered flag ..... Ping pong balls ready? The NBA Draft Lottery is May 16 ..... Answer: UM tennis player Piotr Lomacki rose two spots, to No. 62, in the latest ITA singles rankings. Question: Whaddya mean they might wanna think about ranking fewer players? ..... Champion Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb found dead at 37. I'd never heard of him. R.I.P., anyway ..... At auction yet again: That rare 1909 T-206, the original Honus Wagner baseball card. I don't wanna say it might be a fake, but if you look closely you can see an ESPN banner on the outfield wall.

BallLAVAR BALL AND HIS $495 SNEAKERS: I have a new mini-column out on LaVar Ball's new line of $495 sneakers started for his son, Lonzo, 19, the UCLA guard about to enter the NBA. Click on The Gall Of Ball to read. It used to be you became an NBA star and from that grew the merchandise. But Dad (pictured) and his Big Baller Brand have flipped the switch. It is audacious. It might even be smart. But it also is off-putting to a lot of people as its heaps a ton of pressure on Lonzo Ball to be an instant star in order to sell sneakers and save the family brand. What are you rooting for to happen? Take a dip in our poll:

ColonelCOLONEL HARLAND SANDERS: SUPER-STUD: How KFC has brought its iconic Colonel Sanders back to life in advertising is smart, and fun. Companies that have brand ambassadors that famous are dumb to move away from them. (Who remembers his first name is Harland, by the way?) The latest dab of genius is a "romance novella" (pictured) that casts the Colonel as a stud. (Background story here). They're giving it away with the purchase of a $20 bucket of chicken, and it sounds wonderfully awful. The book. Not the chicken. Spoiler alert: In the book, Tender Wings Of Desire, the Colonel carries the gorgeous redhead to his castle (shown in the background), where together they enjoy a lavish banquet of fried chicken, after which the unhinged Colonel carries the woman into a fully appointed sex dungeon below and dons a rubber mask for hours of bondage games. OK, I made up that last part. The Colonel would never do that!

POLL RESULT: SORRY, GAMERS, BUT THAT AIN'T A SPORT: We asked if you consider eSports/competitive video gaming to be an actual sport, and it was 77.9 percent "no" to only 22.1% "yes."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-8-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. St. Louis at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish 13-17, needing spark, as they open 9-game homestand.

2. NBA playoffs, 9 p.m.: Warriors up 3-0, can close out 2nd-round playoff series with sweep at Jazz.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Penguins 3-2 and home, looking to close out series with Capitals.

Select other recent columns: Not In Our Stadium, on the N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why the Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 05, 2017

First 2018 ESPN mock draft brings bad news for Dolphins, UM; plus Heat expand ties with esports/gaming, but is that even a sport? New poll. Vote now!; also, updated Fins/Marlins title odds, your who-runs-this-town verdict, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more


Cinco1) It is FRIDAY, May 5. Happy Cinco de Mayo, all! 2) Marc Anthony is the right flavor to play halftime of July's Real Madrid-Barcelona match in Miami, but I'm not sure his selection qualifies as the "historic musical performance" they teased us with. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest-team-in-town poll, Manny Machado's epic rant, Mike Dee's return to influence in Miami, your Dolphins draft verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My latest column: On Boston racial incident, sports fans' responsibility: You know by now the story of a Red Sox fan directing the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. I explore in my latest column, and challenge fans themselves to be the problem's solution at the grass-roots level. Click on Not In Our Stadium to read. (Thanks to RealClearSports for including it in the day's national list of top columns).

CRAZY-EARLY 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT BRINGS BAD NEWS FOR DOLPHINS, HURRICANES: ESPN's Todd McShay has an absurdly early 2018 NFL mock draft out, and here are three observations from a Miami perspective:

Draftdream1. McShay's projected draft order, via Football Outsiders, has the Dolphins selecting 10th overall. Ouch. Teams with the 10th pick are not playoff teams, so the initial overarching gloom of this mock is that it sees a sizable downturn by Miami. As an example, in the recent draft, a 7-9 record "earned" the 10th pick. If it matters, the Fins are projected to select Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. (Is Minkah even a name?).

2. Florida State, of course, is the Hurricanes' nemesis and roadblock in the ACC. Well, the Seminoles are projected to have four players go in this mock's first 17 picks, suggesting an especially talented FSU team will be presenting itself to UM. The four, all on defense, are safety Derwin James (8th), cornerback Tarvarus McFadden (12th), defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (15th) and DE-OLB Josh Sweat (17th). (Only one other state player, Florida Gator receiver Antonio Callaway, is projected as an '18 first rounder, going 21st).  

3. Maybe there was a method to UM QB Brad Kaaya's madness, after all, in entering this past draft even though nobody thought he'd go early (and he didn't, finally taken in the 6th round). Why? McShay has QBs going 1-2-3 next year with USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen and UCLA's Josh Rosen. That rarity has happened only twice in NFL Draft history: In 1999 with Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith going 1-2-3; and in 1971 with Jim Plunkett, Archie Manning and Dan Pastorini. 

MIAMI HEAT EXPAND INTEREST IN ESPORTS/GAMING: The Heat will be one of 17 NBA teams involved in an NBA 2K esports/video Misfitsgaming league set to debut in 2018, it was announced. The NBA thus becomes the first major traditional sports league to partner directly with the growing phenomenon of esports. The Heat already had been involved. Miami earlier this year became a partner with the esports team Misfits, a group of five teams of players based in Europe. The Misfits team will serve as the Heat in the NBA 2K league. Misfits CEO Ben Spoont told ESPN: "2K is uniquely positioned as a professional sport video game title to be able to reach fans that are esport fans as well as NBA fans and 2K fans alike. The opportunity here is to be able to reach fans that are in vastly different markets but all with a common thread, which is their love of the NBA and/or video games." Said Heat president of business operations Eric Woolworth: "We are thrilled to be working alongside 16 other NBA teams on this innovative esports league. Given our unique integration into the esports community through our relationship with Misfits, we feel confident in our ability to reach Miami Heat and Misfits fans alike as we help create a new and exciting league from scratch."

50-1UPDATED BETTINGS ODDS FOR DOLPHINS, MARLINS: All of these latest betting lines are via Bovada, and unless you are comforted by 50-1 odds, this is not good news for either the Dolphins' next season or the Marlins' current one. Post-NFL Draft odds see the Dolphins unchanged at 50-1 to win the Super Bowl, tied for 20th of 32 teams, while Patriots are a stronger-than-ever runaway favorite at 7-2, with nobody else closer than 12-1. Offensive rookie of the year pick out the gate: Leonard Fournette at 7-2. In baseball, the Cubs remain the pick to repeat World Series title at 4-1. The Marlins are now 50-1, surprising (they're 12-14) up from a pre-Opening Day 75-1, but still only tied for 17th overall of 30 clubs.

DolphinsPOLL RESULT: WHO RUNS THIS TOWN? THE MIAMI DOLPHINS: The results are hardly scientific, of course. They might just reflect how this blog's readership tends to skew. But we asked what local team is the biggest thing in South Florida sports, and it was Dolphins with 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 5-5-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at N.Y. Mets, 7:10 p.m.: Slumping Fish need spark as NL East rivals open 3-game series.

2. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Cavs at Raptors, Spurs at Rockets in pair of 2nd-round Game 3s.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Two 2nd-round Game 5s, with Nashville (at St. Louis) able to clinch.

4. Bethune-Cookman at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: Sweep-seeking UM baseball opens 3-game set.

5. Boxing weigh-in, 6 p.m.: Stare-down preceding Alvarez-Chavez super-middleweight bout.

Select other recent columns: The Kid From Pampa, on why the Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 21, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 92.9%; plus UM 27-13 at NC State for 3rd straight win behind Walton, defense; also, Gators top other state Collball (updated), your verdicts on NASCAR favorite and LeBron-posse & more


1) It is SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20. Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 12 predictions and Week 11 Pix 'n Fantasy results, NASCAR Sprint Cup poll, Patrick Staropoli, The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings, LeBron/Phil/posse poll & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday blogpost ahead: Watch for our jam-packed new blogpost -- Dolphins-Rams / NASCAR Homestead finale / Hot Button -- by early afternoon today.

A few of our select recent columns: Doctor Speed, on Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli. Week 11 Gems, our latest NFL picks. South Florida to Canton, on four locals up for induction. Also: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be? (on Fins' resourcefulness in four-game win streak. Return Of Wade (from Heat arena last week). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (Tannehill is good enough, Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

Canes in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find them both right below the new CSM poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 92.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 92.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 27-13 victory at North Carolina State Csmputting UM's season record at 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. That's the highest rating since after Game 4.This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction 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 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

G11: 92.9% following 27-13 victory at North Carolina State

Next poll: Nov. 26 following regular-season finale vs. Duke

UmncstG11: HURRICANES @ NORTH CAROLINA STATE: UM PULLING AWAY AFTER A 3-3 FIRST HALF: Postgame thoughts: Always makes your coaching staff look good when a 3-3 halftime score busts open in your favor in the second half, which was the case in UM's 27-13 win at North Carolina State -- a third straight win making Miami 7-4. Nice all-round win. Brad Kaaya with 286 yards passing, Ahmmon Rcihards with nine catches for 117 yards and Mark Walton with 19 carries for 120 yards and three TDs -- Walton the second-half catalyst. Defense had a huge end-zone interception and held NC State to 5-for-17 on third down. Special teams had a big takeaway. Contributors everywhere. Neatly done for a nice road win ..... 4Q: MIA with now-safe 27-13 lead with 2 minutes to go o Walton's 3rd TD run, a 24-yarder giving him 102 yards for the day ... NC State within 20-13 on 22-yard FG. Canes got lucky. A Wolfpack TD run was negated by a clipping penalty that really didn't seem like a penalty at all ... Canes up 20-10 after 22-yard FG, the result of UM's Jaquan Johnson recovering muffed NC State punt return inside Wolfpack 20 ... Yards and points hard-won in this one. Somebody going to earn this win ..... 3Q: NC State within 17-10 in last minute of quarter, after apparent end-zone INT by UM's defense was ruled out of bounds upon review ... UM with its first breathing-room lead at 17-3 on Walton 1-yard scoring run, set up by Coley 51-yard catch-and-run to NC State 2 ... Size XXL defensive play for UM as Malek Young makes an end-zone interception to halt NC State threat to tie the game ... UM 10-3 lead on Walton 30-yard scoring run to begin second half. Miami will own second half if the running game keeps going like that ..... Halftime thoughts: UM has had the better of the game even if the scoreboard at 3-3 won't say it. Negligible running room for Miami; 15 carries for 22 yards. But Kaaya has 164 passing yards including 98 on seven catches by Richards. Meanwhile Canes defense has held NC State yto 122 totals yards. Nine punts have told the tale in a boring defensive game thus far. But I'm liking UM's chances in second half ..... 2Q: Wow. It'll be 3-3 at half because UM's Badgley misses 23-yard chip-shot FG with five seconds left in half ... NC State ties it 3-3 on 35-yard FG. UM gave up 39-yard pass play on series, about the only defensive lapse for Canes so far ... Ballsy fake-punt call by NC State. That's a team that knows it's offense isn't working and thus resorts to trickery ... First touchdown wins? ..... 1Q: Whole lot of defense and run-yards hard to come by for both teams in first quarter, but Kaaya is better than counterpart Finely, a big Canes edge ... UM 3-0 on 31-yard FG. Running tough so far as expected for Canes (Walton 5 carries for 6 yards), but Kaaya is getting time and finding open looks ..... Pregame: Miami has gotten back to running the ball very well in the two-game win streak that has followed that Oh No 0-4 October. In fact Mark Walton has consecutive 100-hard games. It has alleviated pass-block pressure on the offensive line and helped QB Brad Kaaya. It's a smart recipe for UM, now 6-4 and trying to grow its bowl outlook. Today starting at 12:30 p.m. in Raleigh, though, maintaining that run emphasis will be a mighty challenge. The N.C. State Wolfpack are only 5-5 but rank fourth in the nation in run defense, budgeting opponents to 99.4 yards er game. Wolfpack need a win for bowl-eligibility and have the added incentive of Senior Day in their home finale, so Canes will need to match the emotion and intensity on the the side. UM is a wavering 2 1/2-point road favorite, but late money on the home team dropped the line from 3. This most definitely is not a game to take casually for UM. All but one Wolfpack loss has been close, including 24-17 at then-No. 3 Clemson, and 24-20 to Florida State. In fact N.C. State very much seems better than its record, led by that sterling run defense and a spread offense that has generated 500-plus yards four times. The catalyst is RB Matt Dayes, a local kid out of Cypress Bay High who has 939 yards rushing. Hope The U packed its run D for the trip and that those young linebackers are raedy to go sideline to sideline. I like Miami today, though that could be a little bit of a homer pick, I'd admit, because I see this one as even and this afternoon as a serious test for Mark Richt's Canes. My pick: Hurricanes, 24-20.

Other state FBS Week 12 games, chronologically, all Saturday:

No. 23 Florida 16, No. 16 LSU 10: Huge, huuuge road win for Gators over a higher-ranked team that was a big 14-point favorite. This was the game being replayed seven weeks after it was originally scheduled as a Florida home game but was postponed by Hurricane Matthew. Florida brought that great defense in force to improve to 8-2 and, more important, clinch a spot in the SEC championship game.

No. 17 Florida State 45, Syracuse 14: Dalvin Cook's 225 rushing yards and four TDs led Noles, now 8-3,  to the easy road win expected.

Old Dominion 42, FAU 24: Old Dominion, which always sounds to me like a brand of scotch,  was only an 8-point favorite in Owls' disappointing home finale putting them 3-8.

FIU 31, Marshall 14: FIU was off a bye and playing its home finale, and fashioned a nice little upset over a T-Herd squad favored by 2 1/2-point. FIU is now 4-7. Butch Davis surely was somewhat impressed in his first chance to see his future team in action as head coach-elect taking over in '17.

South Florida 35, SMU 27: Bulls improved to 9-2 and hoping to crack the Top 25s. SoFla still is alive to reach American conference title game but with one game left is down the tiebreaker to Temple.

Tulsa 35, UCF 20: Disappointing home showing drops Knights to 6-5.

National Collball Week 12 overview: College Football Playoff current top four teams all have (what should be) comfy wins Saturday, with No. 1 Alabama vs. Chattanooga, 2-Ohio State at Michigan State, 3-Michigan vs. Indiana and 4-Clemson at Wake Forest. All prevailed, albeit Ohio State barely, by one point. But after Earthquake Saturday last week, and with 5-Louisville losing big to Houston Thursday night, it seemed nothing in college football was certain. Well, except for Nick Saban winning big, of course.

Poll result: You want Jimmie Johnson to make history Sunday at Homestead: We asked which final-four driver do most hope wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup season championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Jimmie Johnson dominated with 51.0 percent. Then it was Joey Logano 19.6%, Carl Edwards 15.7% and Kyle Busch 13.7%.

Poll result: You think LeBron James way-overreacted to the "posse" comment: We asked where you fell on the LeBron James/Phil Jackson controversy over the word "posse" and 76.5 percent sided with Phil and 15.3% with LeBron. The other 8.2% could see both sides.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 18, 2016

NFL Week 11 picks for Dolphins-Rams, all games; plus NASCAR Sprint Cup final-four poll. Who do you hope wins? Vote now!; also, Patrick Staropoli, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, LeBron/Phil/posse poll & more


1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18. Marlins' Christian Yelich tied for 19th in NL MVP voting with five points -- two 9th-place votes and one 10th. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump writes Hillary on Schnellenberger's behalf, on Butch Davis joining FIU, SOPY rankings, your verdict on Brad Kaaya stay-or-go, R.I.P. Gardnar Mulloy & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our select recent columns: Doctor Speed, on Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli. Also: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be? (on Fins' resourcefulness in four-game win streak. Return Of Wade (from Heat arena last week). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (Tannehill is good enough, Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 11: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAMS, REST OF NFL: We endured our worst showing of the season last week in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, going an unmentionable 5-9 overall and 3-11 against the spread. I mean, seriously. Awful. But I'm bouncing back, and the bounce began last night. Won twice by predicting Carolina outright but N'Awlins with the points; click Thursday Gem for that pick. With last night we're now 16 games above .500 against the spread for the season; not bad. For all of our latest selections click on Week 11 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Rams, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with an analysis of four former NFL stars with local ties who made the semifinals for 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Click on South Florida to Canton to read.

StaropoliTHE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN NASCAR: Harvard graduate. University of Miami medical student about to become a doctor of ophthalmology. Young man who became fascinated with medicine as a boy watching doctors save his father's life after a racecar crash. This man, Patrick Staropoli, 27, of Plantation, will make his NASCAR main-stage debut Friday night in the Truck Series race that kicks off Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He'll run his first race in that truck, and on that track, the morning of his race. There are far bigger stories down at Homestead, such as who wins the Sprint Cup title (see poll below), but I'm not sure there is a more interesting story than that of Staropoli. Click on Doctor Speed to read my latest column. The image pictured is by the great Herald photographer, Carl Juste.

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (10 GAMES): IT'S A ROUT!Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals, and the updated standings show a runaway for a certain big center, the guy who had 25 rebounds last night. With Miami now 2-8 after last night's loss to Atlanta, here's the Luddite's second installment, with 5-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (10 games):

Hassan Whiteside (1)       350

Tyler Johnson (4)             205

Goran Dragic (2)             182

Justise Winslow (3)          181

Dion Waiters (5)              179

Bubble: James Johnson 144. Others: Josh Richardson 86, Luke Babbitt 75, Rodney McGruder 70, Willie Reed 63, Derrick Williams 31, Josh McRoberts 17, Udonis Haslem 5.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 10 RESULTS: PIX IN THE TANK, BUT LOBOS STAY EN FUEGO!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Ugh. Embarrassing. Got beat up last week with s 5-9 record straight-up and (Dear God) 3-11 against the spread. I take some solace that we're still a pretty solid 14 games above .500 ATS, but we need to bounce back this week in the most desperate way. And will. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos pounded Charlie's team 135-97 in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 7-3 with (like the Dolphins) four straight wins. Got 28 points from Allen Robinson last week, 27 from Delanie Walker and 21 from Drew "Money" Brees, who craps 20-point games. Keep it honkin', big rig. Keep it rollin', 'Bos!

PhillebronTHE WORD "POSSE" AND RACIAL OVERTONES: We spent a good bit of time chewing this over on the LeBatard Show yesterday. Cavaliers and former Heat star LeBron James took umbrage with Knicks president Phil Jackson, saying he's lost respect for him, because Phil referred to LeBron's "posse" to mean his close groups of friends, confidants and business associates led by Maverick Carter. Said LeBron: "If you go and read the definition of what the word 'posse' is, it's not what I've built over my career. It's not what I stand for, it's not what my family stands for. I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African-Americans trying to make a difference." For what it's worth dictionary.com's informal definition of "posse" is simply, "a group of friends or associates," which is pretty neutral. I'm old enough to associate "posses" with old Westerns on TV. I thought in this case it was a fairly benign term to use, and thought LeBron may have been being a bit overly sensitive. Then again, if he was offended, who am I to say he shouldn't have been? I'm curious how you feel about this. So I invite you to tell me, here:

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 02, 2016

Magnifico! Dolphins unveil fab 'new' stadium in fake-game loss. Our review; plus FIU falls in opener, NFL team rankings, Brad Kaaya on expectations, Ron Turner's inspiration, quantifying Marlins' slide, your Kaepernick verdict & more


7 Fripix1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Happy new month, y'all! 2) Countdown: 7 days 'til the Upset Bird! NFL Friday Page predictions debut Sept. 9. 3) Dwyane Wade spoke on ABC's "Good Morning America" (it aired this morning) about gun violence and his role in trying to make things better in Chicago. Story here. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Colin Kaepernick protest with poll, Heat owe Chris Bosh a decision, your latest Greg's Lobos verdict, Gene Wilder & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Public relations faux pas? How about when you misspell "LeBron"?: The following just landed in my email inbox: "Rise Nation is where the fit get fitter! Case in point -- freshly off-season basketball stars LeBrone James and Dwyane Wade who visited the boutique fitness studio in West Hollywood yesterday..." Subsequent references by the future former PR person also had it as LeBrone. How great.

PS4: TENNESSEE 21, DOLPHINS 10: UNVEILING OF 'NEW' STADIUM WAS TONIGHT'S STAR, NOT GAME: Postgame thoughts: Miami ends a 2-2 preseason with a loss you can't really call disappointing because starters didn't play and it didn't matter except to bottom-third roster guys looking to keep their jobs. I was there and wrote a column on the public unveiling of the newly refurbished and impressive stadium. For our review of the overhauled stadium click on Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? to read. ..... Original post: The Dolphins' fourth and final preseason game is tonight at 7 vs. the Titans, but the star of the Hrstadnight is the official, formal unveiling of the newly refurbished and newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium, with its massive canopy against rain or sun and its four giant video screens. I've been inside the new-look stadium and I must say it's quite magnificent. (If only the Dolphins were guaranteed to be as good as their "new" home looks). As for the game itself, who wins won't weigh much at all because few starters will play much, if at all. Fake-games No. 4 are all about not getting anybody hurt and arriving at final roster decisions as the 75-man roster pares to a final 53 by Saturday. The "lower third" players fighting for jobs are guys you won't see on the field much beyond special teams, or miss if they're cut. Who'll be kept as a ninth offensive lineman? Who might be the eighth defensive back? These decisions are vitally important to coach Adam Gase and to media wonks trying to out-minutiae each other; not so much to most fans. The winner tonight will be Stephen Ross and his new-look stadium, not either team.

OPENING NIGHT: FIU FALLS 34-13 TO VISITING INDIANA IN OPENER:  Postgame thoughts: FIU led a tight game in the third quarter but collapsed a bit, falling 34-13 to the BIg Ten's Indiana in the Panthers' season opener here. Wasn't the scoring binge many expected (over/under was 62 points), but FIU wasn't good enough on either side of ball, especially struggling both to run and stop the run. ..... Original post: Panthers open their football season hosting the Indiana Hoosiers tonight at 7:30 at FIU Stadium, and fans who Fiuappreciate solid defense probably should get nowhere near the place. The betting over/under is 62 total points. That's all!? Indiana led the Big Ten in scoring and offensive yards last season and yet finished 6-7 (including a bowl loss to Duke). That happens when your defense is awful, and IU's D gave up 30-plus points nine times in 2015. FIU? Coach Ron Turner begins his fourth season in Miami and Conference USA feeling pretty good about his chances of bettering last season's 5-7 mark -- those hopes pinned mostly on offense. QB Alex McGough, RB Alex Gardner and a solid blocking front could form a nice attack. But FIU's defense is young, must coalesce and wasn't very good a year ago, beaten for 30-plus points six times. Hoosiers are a 10 1/2-point favorite. I wish I sensed an upset; instead I sense a pointfest with FIU on the wrong end. I spoke at length yesterday with Turner for my latest column. It was about the team and season but mostly about him, his challenging childhood, and the strong woman who inspires him to this day. Click on She Never Quit to read.

FOOTBALLFEST! COLUMNPALOOZA!: NFL RANKINGS AND KAAYA AND TURNER, OH MY: Celebrate the return of football season as the Miami Herald rolls out its NFL/Dolphins, UM/Colleges and Dade-Broward High Schools special sections today. I contribute my annual ranking of every NFL team and also a column on Canes quarterback Brad Kaaya, along with a separate daily column on FIU coach Ron Turner as the Panthers open their season tonight:

NFL Ranking: I slot the teams 1 through 32, best to worst, in our NFL/Dolphins section, an annual exercise in futility. A year ago I way-overestimated the Dolphins, ranking them sixth. No Kool-Aid this time; I have Miami ranked 19th. For complete rank and capsule outlook on each team, click NFL Ranking

Brad Kaaya: Hurricanes' star quarterback says, "Pressure is a good thing," as he begins what could be his final season at UM. Kaaya embraces expectations and wants to exceed them. For my UM/Colleges section column on UM's most important player, including our list of 10 greatest Canes QBs, click Brad Kaaya.

Ron Turner: Who FIU's football coach (and older coaching brother Norv) turned out to be is owed to the extraordinary strength of a mother who never quit after their father abandoned the family when Ron was a baby. For a different daily column by me as FIU opens its season tonight, click She Never Quit.

 Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (a QB's one-man sit). Gase, Richt and Hope (Dolphins and Canes' positive coach hires). All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (new-name Hard Rock). The Weight Has Just Begun (inside office and expectations of Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (Wade's departure from Heat).

QUANTIFYING MARLINS' FAST FADE: It isn't just the 10-18 record in August, it's how the maudlin month ended (on a 2-7 run including five straight losses) and why (sleepy bats). Hitting coach OzunaBarry Bonds wins no-duh quote of the year in remarking Miami hitters have picked a bad time to collectively slump. So now the Fish enter Septemeber 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card race, and fifth in the jockeying for two spots. Clearly the bats are to blame. Marcell Ozuna (pictured) hit .162 in August, Ichiro .209, Adeiny Hechavarria .231 and Dee Gordon has been nothing special since his return. And of course , injured power-bats Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour have been dearly missed, leaving a crater in the lineup. As a result July-to-August team totals show a .277 to .250 drop in batting average, .754 to .680 in OPS and 4.62 to 3.46 in runs per game. Can't write off Marlins' playoff chances yet, not with 29 games to go. Pressure is on now, though. Margin for error has disappeared. Miami needs to be as good this month as it was bad in August.

Poll result: Strong majority oppose Kaepernick's stand on sitting during anthem: We asked what best reflects how you feel about 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, and a plurality of 43.4 percent voted that he's un-American and should be booed, while another 34.5% said they understood his cause but don't support his anthem sit. However, the other 22.1% said they fully support his cause and respect what he is doing.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 31, 2016

Are you with or against Kaepernick in his anthem protest? Poll. Last day to vote!: plus Free Chris Bosh! Heat owes its star and fans a decision on his future; also, your verdict on Greg's Lobos & more


Wilder1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31. R.I.P., Gene Wilder (pictured), 83, the great comic actor who passed away from complications of Alzheimer's, and also Hubbard Alexander, 77, a receivers coach who helped Miami Hurricanes win national titles in 1983 and '87. 2) Fading Marlins now 3 1/2 back in wild-card race. Wake bats, please. 3) Got a robo-call from actor Martin Sheen on behalf of a Congressman I'd never heard of. Thanks for the valuable input, Marty. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your latest Greg's Lobos fantasy team verdict, Hot Button Top 10, introducing LeBatard Show Lobos & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.martin sheen, ronbo call. on behlaf of a confressman id never head of.

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI: Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (the latest, on a QB's one-man sit). Gase, Richt and Hope (Dolphins and Canes' positive coach hires). All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). The Weight Has Just Begun (inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (on Wade's departure from Heat).

CSM, DSM are returning: Our blog's Canesfan and Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls are back for another football season. Look for them right here immediately following every Hurricanes and Dolphins game, beginning this Saturday Sept. 3 for UM, and on Sept. 11 for the Fins.

ColinkDON'T HATE KAEPERNICK, HATE WHAT HAS MOTIVATED HIS PROTEST: The 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is being called un-American by many for sitting during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, often at the hands of police against unarmed black men. I hate that he is doing that; it saddens and angers me to see anyone disrespect our flag by sitting during the anthem. But I hate even more what makes him feel he must. And what he is doing is closer to very American than un-American, by the way. Protest is a huge and vital part of our history, from the Boston Tea Party to the Vietnam War to the next city where the next unarmed citizen is shot. Free speech is the foundation of our freedom. This is the topic of my latest column. Click on Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American to read in full. But that's my opinion. I want your's. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

FREE CHRIS BOSH! HEAT OWE HIM AND FANS A DECISION: Heat preseason training camp begins in less than a month, on Sept. 27, and yet the team still has not Boshcinformed Chris Bosh whether he will be cleared to play, or under what conditions, as he comes back from a second straight season interrupted by a blood-clots scare. Bosh says he is ready and able. Monday he posted videos of himself on Snapchat shooting and participating in basketball drills. rills on his Snapchat account. And on Twitter he wrote, "Everybody keeps asking if I'm hooping. Yes, I'm hooping. I'm a hooper." Well, actually, it's more accurate to say he's hoping to be hoping. He still needs the club to give him the OK. If they do not, ugliness and a legal battle may be in store. I get the team's abundant caution on Bosh. Whether he can return to a contact sport on blood-thinning medication is a real concern. But it has been a long time to figure that out and make that decision, and the new season draws near. Heat fans and especially Bosh deserve clarity from the Heat on Bosh's future with the team.

Poll result: Your rankings of my friends-n-family fantasy league teams, and where Greg's Lobos landed: We asked you which fantasy football team you'd most want to have based on each team's top four picks. Here was your order, and whose team it is in relation to me:


8.74% --

3.15% -- 

3.15% -- 

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 26, 2016

History must wait: Ichiro 1-for-5 tonight in win, now at 2,997 hits; plus the new Back In My Day, Christopher Scissorhands and throwback unis (with poll; vote now!), Kaaya stat projections, Heat get "Kobe Wade," Jordan speaks, American cars & more


1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 26. Ichiro now at 2,997 hits, after a single to left in eighth inning for Marlins tonight was his only hit in a 1-for-5 night as Marlins beat Phillies 5-0. This was first game when him reaching 3,000 was plausible, if mathematically unlikely. Now, his milestone must wait. Five games are left in this homestand. 2) Big weekend for two of Miami's biggest sports figures, with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra getting married on Saturday and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill becoming a first-time father on Sunday. Congrats to both! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, can Miami be a football town again, SABR nerds, Dolphins in fantasy rankings, your verdict on NBA/Charlotte move & more. 43) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new Back In My Day: Click here for today's latest LeBatard Show podcast, with me in-studio as cohost. Our new BIMD kicks in around the 50:45 mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating a chance for Dolphins and Canes. Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp nears. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

Kaaya projections on stats: Individual college football statistical betting over/unxders out today via Bovada show Canes QB Brad Kaaya at 3,050.5 yards and 20.5 TDs.

Uniform destruction was silly but served a larger point: White Sox ace Chris Sale destroys team's 1976 "throwback" uniforms, is suspended and gets savaged in the media. But as a statement against the silly trend of throwback and alternate uniforms, Sale became the face of what should be a movement. That's my latest column. Click on His Scissors Had a Point to read. I'm curious of you like the idea ogf throwback and alternate uniforms or if, like me, you find them a tiresome money-grab by teams. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results:

DwaitersON NEWEST HEAT PLAYER, "KOBE WADE": It takes balls to answer to the nickname "Kobe Wade," as newly signed Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters has. Now Waiters (pictured) arrives in Miami trying to literally replace departed Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup (while also wearing uniform No. 3) after signing a one-year, $2.9 million deal Monday. Should we nickname him "D-Wait"? The NBA free agent market wasn't much for Waiters, verifying he has work left to do to earn his audacious nickname and justify having been the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He hasn't lived up. Yet. But I like Miami giving him another shot. He is only 24. If you're going to err, err young. That finally seems to be Pat Riley's mindset. Waiters shot a tick under 40 percent overall last season (not good), but was a credible 35.8% from 3-land. I like Miami's guard rotation of Goran Dragic and Waiters, and Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and probably Wayne Ellington. Waiters isn't Wade (or Kobe), but he isn't worth giving up on, either.

MjMICHAEL JORDAN SPEAKS. AND NAILS IT: Jordan has spent his professional life saying very little of consequence outside the basketball rectangle, declining to get involves in social issues or politics. As the face of Nike once infamously said, "Republicans buy sneakers, too." That changed this week when Jordan spoke, to The Undefeated website (click here) against recent police-related violence both by and agsinst cops. With that he alsi is donating $1 million to each cause. Good for you, Michael. We've been waiting to hear your voice for a long time. Somewhere, Muhammad Ali would be smiling.

THE LIST: THE MOST-AMERICAN AMERICAN VEHICLES: The "Kogod Made In America Auto Index" for 2016 lists the Top 10 most-American cars, trucks and SUVs based on percentage of domestic parts used. The list:

1. Buick Enclave            90.0%

1. Chevy Traverse          90.0

1. GMC Acadia               90.0

4. Ford F-150                85.0

5. Chevy Corvette          83.0

6. Cadillac Escalade       82.5

6. Chevy Equinox           82.5

6. Chevy Impala             82.5

6. Chevy Malibu             82.5

6. GMC Yukon                82.5

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

Twitter @gregcote