November 29, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.9%; plus Fins beat Niners for 6th straight win; also, Panthers stupidly fire coach, Canes bowl outlook, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28. FAU fired football coach Charlie Partridge on Sunday. Owls fans are split. One likes the move, the other doesn't. 2) Hope y'all had a wonderful long Thanksgiving Weekend! 3) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes rout Duke with CSM poll, other Collball, Luddite's Heat MVP Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The 49ers defense disrespected Tannehill, and he made them pay: Dolphins coach Adam Gase said San Francisco showed "disrespect" to the Dolphins passing game in loading up to stop the run Sunday. Ryan Tannehill made them pay with one of the best games of his career. Click on They Dared Him to Throw, And Oh Did He for my column from the game. 

A few select recent columns: Click Week 12 Gems for latest NFL picks and on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins for analysis of Miami's playoff chances. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face.

Dumb dumb dumb! Panthers fire coach Gallant: It seemed premature at the least for the Florida Panthers late last night to fire coach Gerard Gallant one quarter into this NHL season -- after two successful seasons prior to that. This franchise can't seem to outgrow its habit of treating stability as if it were the enemy.

Hurricanes' bowl destination: Am hearing UM is likeliest headed to the Dec. 31 Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville vs. Florida Gators or Mark Richt's ex's, Georgia. But Dec. 28 Russell Athletic/Orlando remains in play, with an outside shot at Dec. 31 Citrus/Orlando. Safest bet: Canes staying in-state a near certainty. See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They're buoyant!

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 95.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 95.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco putting Miami's season Dsmrecord at 7-4 after a sixth consecutive win. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 3 p.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

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

Next poll: Dec. 4 (following game at Baltimore) 

G11: DOLPHINS 31, SAN FRANCISCO 24: ANTHEM-KNEELIN', CASTRO-ADMIRIN' COLIN KAEPERNICK COMES TO TOWN. AND IN OTHER NEWS, MIAMI WINS SIXTH STRAIGHT GAME!: Postgame thoughts: Hanging on at home to barely beat a 1-9 opponent is not that impressive. But this is: When that victory is your sixth in a row. Miami's 31-24 win over San Fran was too close for comfort, but 7-4 and all in on the playoff chase makes everything better. Defense was not real great today, giving up well over 400 49ers yards. But Tannehill was pretty great: 20-30, 285 yards, three TDs and a 130.6 rating. On as day when Miami was missing three line starters and the defense stacked up to limit Ajayi, Tanny took over and won it ..... 4Q: SF now within 31-24 with 2:15 left on 36-yard FG ... Hmm. Well, ain't over yet. SF within 31-21 with 7:42 left on The Kneeler's 1-yard TD flip to ancient Torrey Smith ... I predicted Miami to win 31-16 (see below). Close enough for ya? ... Fins now 31-14 and headed for 6th straight win on Tannehill's 3rd TD pass of day, 15 yards to Carroo, the latter's career first ..... 3Q: Tanny continues excellent day with 43-yard scoring pass to Stills and 24-14 MIA lead late in third ... Apparent 32-yard catch by Parker overturned on review ... This could come back to haunt. Miami answers 49ers score with 78-yard Drake kickoff return to SF 24, but fails to score, ends up punting. Wow ... SF within 17-14 on The Kneeler's 4-yard scoring pass to Celek to finish 91-yard drive ... MIA up 17-7 on 24-yard FG set up by Alonso INT (his second takeaway) that gave Fins ball on SF 26 ..... Halftime thoughts: MIA up 14-7 at the break, led by a sharp Tannehill, who is 12-for-17 for 154 yards (a 118.3 rating), including his 100th NFL career scoring throw. Ajayi being held in check; 11 for 25, hampered by three starting linemen out injured. Biugb defensive takeaway by Alonso. Only real negative for Fins so far: Kaepernick has 62 yards rushing on four runs. Miami seems to be on its way to sixth straight win ..... 2Q: MIA 14-7 on Sims 16-yard scoring pass from Tanny. Was his 100th career TD throw. He's been excellent today ... Bad teams commit turnovers, and so Niners lose fumble after completition, recovered by Alonso at Fins 16. SF had been driving, led by 30-yard run by The Kneeler ... MIA 7-7 on Ajayi 2-yard scoring run, after earlier apparent Parker 10-yard scoring catch in corner of end zone was overturtned on review ..... 1Q: Boom! Miami finally has a notable play late in first period, a 46-yard Tanny strike deep to Parker on 3rd and 7, to the SF 42 ... ESPN's continually updated "win probability" percentile now has SF slightly more likely to win today. Don't buy it. Too bad an opponent for Dolfans to worry yet ... SF up 7-0 on Kaepernick-Hyde 11-yard scoringh pass. Fins' Michael Thomas had earlier broken up a sure TD pass ... Loud booing as The Kneeler takes the field ... Can't remember the last Dolphins game I felt so sure Miami would win. Which alone gives me pause ..... Pregame: Oy. Miami's starting offensive line will be 3/5ths absent today, with Albert, Pouncey and Tunsil all inactive with injuries ..... Original post: OK, Miami, let's all boo 49ers quarterback Kneelin' Colin Kaepernick today because he chooses to not stand during the national anthem to protest social injustice. Or, let's all boo him because he once dared to wear a T-shirt Sfmiawith Fidel Castro's image and speak positively of the despicable deceased despot we hated so. Or -- third option -- we could ignore the ultimately inconsequential opposing QB and simply cheer the Dolphins as they attempt to win a sixth consecutive game. Doomsaying Dolfans are forever waiting for the fist around the blind corner — the next loss to prove the whole damned thing was a house of cards in a rising wind. Well, take this week off from the angst as 1-9 San Fran makes its first SoFla visit since 2008. Miami has seldom, in a lot of years, been a bigger favorite than today's 7 1/2 points. And with such Sfmiasbabundant reason. The Dolphins percolate into this 1 p.m. kickoff with five straight wins creating a 6-4 record that makes playoff hopes real. While 49ers already are eliminated from NFC playoff contention, Miami enters this week seventh in the jockeying for six AFC spots -- and climbing. The Fins are 4-1 at home. The terrible Niners are 0-4 on the road. Miami is led by a quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, who has been really solid lately. San Fran is led by a quarterback, Kaepernick, who says he is leading a protest for change but then doesn’t even bother to vote. Did I mention that Jay Ajayi might roll another 200 against the NFL’s worst (by far) run defense? That’s not to say South Florida should be overconfident; that right hasn’t been earned. SF is way overdue to surprise somebody, anybody, and, remember, it took a late miracle for MIA to edge the punchless Rams last week. By the way, the 49ers tried to hire Adam Gase in 2015 but he slipped from their grasp, and now he’s climbing up onto the coach-of-the-year radar for Miami. This result should give the Frans more cause to lament the one that got away. My pick: Dolphins, 31-16.

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

Hotbutton1. FIDEL CASTRO: Miami celebrates death of despised Cuban dictator: Like Cubs fans in baseball, Cuban Miamians who fled Fidel Castro's tyranny prayed they would live to see this day but feared they never would. Finally, late Friday, it happened. Castro died at age 90, the despicable despot gone at last. 

2DOLPHINS: Miami beats 49ers for 6th straight win: Dolphins are hot and in the heart of playoff contention -- now holding the No. 6 playoff seed -- after 31-24 home win over San Francisco runs winning streak to six games. Dolfans, that feeling you had entering this game that is so strange and foreign to you ... it is called "overconfidence."

3HURRICANES: Kaaya sets mark as UM routs Duke in regular-season finale: A year ago the Canes needed a last-second, eight-lateral kickoff return miracle to beat Duke. This year, no drama, just a 40-21 rout that saw Brad Kaaya throw for 396 yards and break Ken Dorsey's career record. Bring on the bowl bids!

4. HEAT: A retooling team in an early-season scramble: Heat is 5-11 entering Monday's visit by Boston. It's weird, right? The playoffs always were assumed down here. Now they seem a slippery uphill climb.

5PANTHERS: Cats shockingly, stupidly fire their coach: The high-hope Cats, idling at .500 at 11-11, prematurely and stupidly fired coach Gerard Gallant late last night. This franchise can;t seem to outgrow its habit of treating stability as if it were the enemy.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women in holiday tourneys: Miami men fell to No. 21 Iowa State 73-56 Friday in semifinals of AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando for UM's first loss of the season, while women beat Texas Tech on Sunday in title game of event UM hosted. Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier keep Canes hoops relevant.

7. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Michigan loss gives CFP committee some decidin' to do: No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Clemson won handily Saturday, but what will the College Football Playoff do with No. 3 Michigan's double-OT loss at No. 2 Ohio State? The guess? Wolverines stay at 3 or drop no lower than 4, much to the chagrin of No. 5 Washington. And in other news, FSU beat Florida.

8. SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Heat retiring Shaq's number meets some objection: Heat announced it would retire O'Neal's No. 32 in a ceremony next month. Hmm. For 3 1/2 seasons' work? I mean, I know Pat Riley's loves him a star-studded rafters, but, c'mon!

9. TIGER WOODS: Long-awaited return set for this week: Tiger's first competitive round on the PGA Tour in more than a year will happen this coming Thursday, meaning he has only a few days left to further delay his comeback.

10. SOCCER: U.S. national team changes coaches: Jurgen Klinsmann, out. Bruce Arena, back in. The change is no shock. But the timing sort of is, coming two games into World Cup qualifying.

Missing the HB10 cut: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has many qualities. Losing gracefully ..... Finished your Christmas shopping yet? Don't we hate people who already have? ..... The more I think about the way Jimmie Johnson made history at Homestead last week, shouldn't Donald Trump have Tweeted that the race was rigged?

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 23, 2016

Heat retiring Shaq's No. 32: Borderline. Arguable. Should they? Last day for poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/Hurricanes resurgence, Jurgen Klinsmann firing, NFL Week Pix ' Fantasy results, latest SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23. Happy Thanksgiving Eve? I'm holed up at Friday Page World Headquarters today making all of my Bird Day plus Sunday/Monday NFL picks so I can, you know, actually, have Thanksgiving Day off. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins extend win streak in L.A. with DSM poll, Jimmie Johnson reigns over NASCAR at Homestead, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Dolphins, Hurricanes' resurgence: Miami's two big football teams haven't been this hot together entering Thanksgiving since 1989. Click on Football Town Strikes Back to read my latest column. A few other select recent columns: Surreal At 200 MPH, from Homestead racetrack on Jimmie Johnson's historic Sunday NASCAR win. Also: Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

ShaqheatHMM. SHOULD THE HEAT REALLY BE RETIRING SHAQ'S NUMBER?: Heat announced Monday they'll retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 in a ceremony Dec. 22 during a home game vs. the Lakers. This isn't worthy of vehement objection, I suppose. Shaq did arrive, late in his fleeting prime, to help Miami win its first NBA title in 2005. He helped the franchise achieve a higher stature. Besides, all of this retired jersey/rafters stuff is just ceremonial, anyway. Then again, shouldn't the honor be reserved for the best of the best in franchise history such as the Dwyane Wades? Did Shaq really play enough here -- 3 1/2 seasons -- to merit a retired number? Clearly, the Lakers are the only club that should be retiring Shaq's number. I mean, he played for Orlando longer than he played in Miami. Consider the slice of his career pie Miami had of Shaq: 16.98% of his games played, 14.02% of his points scored, and 14.17% of his rebounds. So his NBA career was about 1/6th or 1/7th Miami. But I could be wrong. Have your say in this poll:

MIXED EMOTIONS ON U.S. SOCCER FIRING KLINSMANN: International soccer has a long, dubious history of abrupt coach firings. I'm not sure if you can call this one of those. Jurgen Klinsmann
Klinsmannhas since 2011 been steering the U.S. men's national soccer team, though ups and downs. His guys survived a very difficult Group of Death to reach the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. Not bad. But what has happened so far in qualifying for the 2018 WC in Russia cost the German national his job on Monday. The U.S. is 0-2 in qualifiers, losing 2-1 at home (Columbus, Ohio) to Mexico, and then, unforgivably, humiliatingly, 4-0 at Costa Rica. Early reports are that MLS/L.A. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena will replace Klinsmann. Arena, of course, coached the U.S. from 1998 to '06. The new man will have some time, as the next qualifying matches are not until late March. Not so sure about recycling Arena. I thought Klinsmann should have been given this World Cup cycle. If he failed to qualify, then make a move. But two losses early in qualifying is not failing to qualify. Anyway, the search for the right man to make U.S. men's soccer a world power continues. Now we see if Arena II is the answer. The American women have done it, which does nothing but heap that much more pressure on the U.S. men and, now, Arena again.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 11 RESULTS: BIG PREDIX RALLY, LOBOS STAY SCORCHIN'!: 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: Oh yeah! NIce bounceback week. Went a sterling 12-2 overall and a nifty 9-4-1 against the spread, including a bull's-eye on our Upset of the Week ("Aaawwwk!") with Bills winning at Bengals. We're now a very solid 20 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos slipped past Roy's team 95-85 in a duel of league powers in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 8-3 after (like the Dolphins) a fifth straight win. Theo Riddick led us with only 16 points but we had five in double figures and got a dozen from smart late-week pickup Thomas Rawls. Keep it honkin', big rig. Keep it rollin', 'Bos!

SOPY RANKINGS / SEASON-FINALE SATURDAY! CANES' KAAYA TRIES TO NAIL DOWN 4TH PLACE IN 'STATE HEISMAN': Not much drama, frankly, as we wind down the fifth season of our blog's SopyState Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, as all seven state FBS teams conclude their regular seasons this coming Saturday. Quinton Flowers has passed and run away with the season crown. Let's see if Miami's Brad Kaaya can secure fourth place. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week took a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. All teams have played 11 games except the Florida Gators, with 10. 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 SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 13, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings. The SOPY rankings do not include bowl games, so we'll have our Final Top 25 next week:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 12:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)               Wk12       Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                257.5      2,680

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                         249         1,975

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 191.5      1,741

4      4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                      129         1,412

5      5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       110.5      1,364.5

6      8      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     157         1,285 

7      7      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                      135         1,267

8      6      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      DNP      1,159.5

9      9      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         137         1,098

10    --     McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb                153.5      1,020.5

Bubble: Devin Singletary, FAU-rb, 938. Other team leader: Jordan Scarlett, Florida-rb, 784. Week 12 best:Flowers, 257.5; Season best: Flowers, 371.5, Week 11.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida State (8-3); 2. Florida (8-2); 3. Miami (7-4); 4. South Florida (9-2); 5. UCF (6-5); 6. FIU (4-7); 7. FAU (3-8).

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 22, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.7%; plus Fins' miracle rally beats L.A. 14-10 for 5th straight win!; also, Johnson wins Homestead to make NASCAR history, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Fins501) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21. Heat announce they'll retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 on Dec. 22. 2) See the buoyant new rating in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll in the blogpost directly below this one. 3) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. Pictured right: the books for sale at Costco. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at North Carolina State with CSM poll, other state Collball, your verdicts on NASCAR winner and LeBron-posse & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jimmie Johnson makes, well, equals, NASCAR history: Click on Surreal At 200 MPH for my column from Homestead-Miami Speedway on Johnson's record-tying seventh career Sprint Cup championship by Johnson last night.

A few of our other select recent columns: A Race For History, previewing the NASCAR season finale here. Also: Doctor Speed (Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli). Week 11 Gems (latest NFL picks). South Florida to Canton (locals up for induction). Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

Dolphins in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find both here directly below the new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 95.7%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and the show 95.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 14-10 victory at Los Angeles putting Miami's season record Dsmat 6-4 after a fifth consecutive win. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

Next poll: Nov. 27 (following game vs. San Francisco)

G10: DOLPHINS @ LOS ANGELES: GOFF DEBUT AN UNPREDICTABLE WILD-CARD AS MIAMI SEEKS FIFTH STRAIGHT WIN: Final thoughts: Wow. Just, wow. I mean, Miami's offense was doing nothing through three quarters. Tannehill was having a nightmare. He'd had 57 yards on 21 throws. He'd been sacked four times. Miami didn't even convert a 3rd down until 5:44 remained. Then Tanny throws two TDs in the fourth quarter, a flatlining offense miraculously coming alive to extend the winning streak to five games and make Miami 6-4 and bona fide playoff contenders. Tannehill's late heroics won the game, but so did Miami's defense, limiting the Rams to 226 total yards. If you make the playoffs, you look back on wisns like this, comeback wins on the road. Amazing ... 4Q: Miracle! Miami 14-10 with 36 seconds left on Tanny-Parker 9-yard scoring pass ... Fins get ball back at own 25 with 2 minutes left ... MIA within 10-7 on Tannehil-Landry 10-yard scoring pass ... Rams miss 48-yard FG try ... This is futility defined: Miami has 10 punts, and 57 yards on 21 pass attempts ..... 3Q: LA 10-0 on 46-yard FG, a hole made to seem huge by Miami's inept offense so far today ... Penalties hurting Miami, not for first time this season ... Tannehill deep ball for Parker is intercepted by Rams. First turnover of game ... Miami just punted for seventh time. Ugly ..... Halftime thoughts: Boring game at 7-0, Rams. Eleven punts, six by Miami. Fins defense has been fine, giving up a total of only 108 yards. It's Miami's passing game that needs to unclog and get down the field. Tanmnehill's 10 completions have covered only 51 yards. Ain't gonna cut it ..... 2Q: Miami now has five more punts than points ... A fourth Dolphins punt. Seven completions for 31 yards ain't gonna cut it, Tannehill. Dink City. Need to mix in a little vertical, Fins ..... 1Q: Miami only 71 yards' offense in opening quarter --half on that one 36-yard run ... How does this happen? Ajayi 36-yard run to the LA 22, and you wind up 4th-and-29 at the 41 and punt ... Two punts, 26 total yards in two series for Miami offense so far ... LA 7-0 on Guirley 24-yard TD run ... Figured this as low-scoring game, and first two series (punt-punt) have shown why ..... Original post: It was 1986 when last the Dolphins played the Rams in Los Angeles. Dan Marino was blooming into his awesome prime. Ryan Tannehill wasn't born yet. Adam Gase was an 8-year-old kid kickin' around Ypsilanti, Michigan. Thirty years later, Miami is 5-4 after a Mialaseason-saving, face-saving four-game win streak and is a scant 1-point road favorite to make it five W's in a row. Los Angeles is 4-5, but with a stout defense and the interesting, unpredictable wild-card of the long-anticipated first NFL career start for QB Jared Goff, the overall No. 1 draft pick out of Cal. That alone gives this otherwise so-so 4 p.m. matchup a wiggle of national heft, although the Dolphins trying to stretch their winning streak of course tops the marquee through the Miami lens. Goff incubated half a season on the bench until finally it dawned on Jeff Fisher and L.A. that their offense was really bad (last in NFL scoring average at 15.4) under Case Keenum and needed a jolt. Doubt they'll ask Goff to do too much, though. He wasn't very good in preseason and will have butterflies today the size of pterodactyls. Expect a heap of Fins pass pressure early. The odds of Goff struggling and throwing a couple of picks seem greater to me than the odds he'll be the hero and the headline. That's why I'd expect we'll see a heavy dose of RB Todd Gurley as the Rams try ease the immense pressure on Goff and exploit an uneven Fins run defense. Miami's bigger concern should be L.A.'s defense, which is stout. Star DT Aaron Donald has potential to make it tough on Ryan Tannehill and also threaten Jay Ajayi's hot streak of 608 yards rushing in past four games. Doesn't help that Miami's O-line is depleted again with center Mike Pouncey injured (again). But if the ifs come through -- if Miami's offensive line is simply good enough and if the run defense limits Gurley -- the Dolphins should get that golden fifth straight win in what figures as a low-scoring game. My pick: Dolphins, 19-16.

JIMMIE JOHNSON WINS NASCAR FINALE AT HOMESTEAD -- RACE AND RECORD-TYING 7TH SEASON TITLE: Click Surreal at 200 MPH for my column from the track on Johnson's big (and rather incredible) triumph last night. Original post: Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano (that's Nascar Homesteadalphabetical) will race for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship today at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- one of Greater Miami's premier annual sporting events. Whomever of those four finalists crosses under the checkered flag first wins the title, and anyone not specifically a fan of Busch/Edwards/Logano must be rooting for Johnson, right? Well, on second thought, still-loyal fans of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt might not be! A seventh career championship by Johnson would tie those two legends for the most ever. Click on A Race For History for my column on Johnson previewing today's championship run. Not atop the Homestead marquee today, but worthy: the final career race for retiring Tony Stewart, "Smoke," the adored, hated, cantankerous, combative, passionate star who'll be missed.

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

Hotbutton1. NASCAR: Johnson wins race, season and a piece of history at Homestead: Jimmie Johnson came from behind to win the race and his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup season championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway to tie legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most ever. Not sure I'll hear or see the phrase "wild ride" again without thinking of this race.

2. DOLPHINS: Miracle! Fins rally late in L.A. for fifth straight win: The Dolphins on Sunday solved Los Angeles' strong defense and the first career start of QB Jared Goff, the overall No. 1 draft pick, to continue their win streak with a 14-10 victory. Imagine. Relevance in late November after 1-4 start. The Amazin' Fins!

3. HEAT: A modest two games, but still first win streak of season for Miami: Heat still is only 4-8 but has its first modest two-game win streak of season after beating Bucks and Wizards. Meanwhile Hassan Whiteside is averaging 17.7 points, 16.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks entering the weekend. Earn that money, kid. #EarningIt

4. HURRICANES: UM prevails at N.C. State for third straight win: Solid defense and Mark Walton's running did the heavy lifting in UM's 27-13 win in Raleigh Saturday. It's three straight wins now and one left, next week's home finale vs. Duke, for Canes to continue proving they aren't the same team that lost four in a row in October.

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men prepare for first real test in Orlando: After a soft three-game opening stretch against lesser foes, Miami faces someone its own size, Stanford, on Thanksgiving Day in Orlando, in an eight-team invitational that also includes Florida, No. 14 Gonzaga and No. 20 Iowa State. Now we begin to find out about Jim Larranaga's new team.

6. PANTHERS: Cats finally showing signs of heating up: Florida has pulled above .500 at 10-9 for the season with two straight wins and four in the past five games. Still a ways to go to catch up to all that offseason Stanley Cup talk, but signs of progress evident. 

7. GATORS: Huge win at LSU lifts Florida to title game: Gators are in the SEC championship game after their defense dominated, 16-10 in Baton Rouge Saturday, against an LSU team favored by two touchdowns. Call it justice. This was the game postponed by Hurricane Matthew and was scheduled to be played in The Swamp.

8. SOCCER: U.S. men struggling in WC qualifying: A 2-1 home loss to Mexico followed by a 4-0 humiliation at Costa Rica has the U.S. men and coach Juergen Klinsmann under intense pressure in World Cup qualifying. (Relax, they'll still make it...)

9. NFL: League makes history with Monday game in Mexico: Unless Donald Trump's wall is up in time to prevent it, the first Monday Night Football game ever (Texans-Raiders) is about to happen in Mexico City. Viva la NFL!

10. NBA: It's official Karl-Anthony Towns is anointed: ESPN on its magazine cover and website has annointed Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns as "the face of the NBA's big man revolution." Sure. Because the Heat's Hassan Whiteside needed more perceived disrespect to fuel him, right?

Missing the HB10 cut: Tiger Woods has indicated that Dec. 1 will mark his return to competitive golf for first time in more than a year. Which gives him less than two weeks to subsequently announce he isn't quite ready.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 96.8%; plus Butch Davis to FIU, Fins win 4th straight 31-24, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Leonrussell1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14. Sad to note the passing of the great Leon Russell (pictured) at age 74. He'd been scheduled to play a show in Boca Raton next week and I'd hoped to see him. R.I.P. 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): Canes win big at Virginia with CSM poll, other Collball Week 11, Brad Kaaya stay-or-go poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our most recent columns: The latest: Return Of Wade (from Heat arena Thursday night). Week 10 Gems (latest NFL predictions). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders) Select others: Miami QBs: No Worries (why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). 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).

ButchdBUTCH DAVIS TO COACH FIU!: Former Miami Hurricanes coach Butch Davis is returning to work in the city he wanted to return to, if not exactly the team he wanted to coach. He has signed a five-year contract to coach FIU in Conference USA. FIU will formally introduce him Tuesday afternoon as its fourth head coach. Davis intensely desired to come back to UM and the ACC (where he had coached more recently with North Carolina), but he was among the many coaches the Canes passed over in favor of hiring Mark Richt. For FIU it feels like a great hire, a big hire, getting a proven coach with major-college experience, and one with a track record grounded in strong recruiting. (I'd be worried if I were direct-rival FAU). For Davis, who turns 65 on Thursday, it seems a step down, like a man hitting the career refresh button at a decidedly lower level. But, hey, Butch wanted to still coach, and this was his shot. Good for him. Also, the rivalry that really isn't but should be and hopefully will be someday -- UM vs. FIU -- just got turned up a notch.

CSM vote in: Results are in for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll; find them in the blogpost directly below this new one.

Dolphins in-game blog, postgame thoughts below: Look for our in-game blog and postgame thoughts right below the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 96.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 96.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 victory at San Diego putting Miami's season Dsmrecord at 5-4. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

Next poll: Nov. 20 (following game at Los Angeles)

G9: DOLPHINS @ SAN DIEGO: CAN MIAMI FINALLY BREAK THE "3W JINX"?: Postgame thoughts: Miami with fourth straight win, 31-24 at San Diego with four defensive interceptions imn second half a sharp Tannehill throughout. Very impressive. Dolphins nauil donw their first 4-game winning streak since 2008. And playoff hope, at 5-4, is genuinely alive! ..... 4Q: Lippett INT -- 4th of half for Miami -- seals it ... OMG! Kiko Alonso 60-yard INT return puts MIA up 31-24 with 1 minute left! ... ... What a game! Franks 27-yard FG ties it 24-24. OT ahead? ... SD up 24-1 with 4 minutes left on Rivers' 51-yard scoring toss to Williams ... Another huge defensive takeaway as Maxwell intercepts Rivers! ... Lippett INT in enxd zone saves Miami! Grant had muffed punt return, gave SD ball at Miami 5. Huuuge turnover! Then defensive hold against Maxwell gave SD new set of downs. Lippett a game-changer ..... 3Q: MIA back up 21-17 on Williams' 2nd TD, asn 18-yard strike from Tannehill. Tanny really good today so far. Had a big 18-yard scramble on the drive ... Rivers-Henry 7-yard TYD pass is Rivers' 300th in his career and puts Bolts back up 17-14. Pass interference by Miami in end zone made it easier ... MIA up 14-10, first lead, on Damien Williams' 2Y run. Ajayi, afterr only 16 yards in first half, busted a 40-yarder to lead the 75-yard drive ..... Halftime thoughts: Did not expect a defensive battle. Or a lack of offense battle, as the case may be. Chargers with a modedst 157 yards in offense; Fins D has done pretty well. But Miami doing little with the ball beyond that one perfect 39-yard TD pass by Tanny. Ajayi with only 16 rushbing yards on 11 carries. But Miami has ballto start second half ..... 2Q: Wake sack bumps Bolts from FG range ... Fins LT Branden Albert wrist injury, iffy to return. Not good ... Tight ends always seem to bedevil Miami's D, and Gates is doing it today ... MIA within 10-7 on 39Y scoring pass to Stills. A perfect strike. Put that in your memory bank, Tannehill haters 'n doubters! ... SD suddenly up 10-0 on Rivers' 11-yard scoring pass to ancient TE Gates. Somebody wake the Dolphins offense? ... Bolts 3-0 on 45-yard FG to begin second quarter ..... 1Q: Unexpected scoreless first. SD's 38 total yards a good sign for Miami ... Promising first drive by Miami ends with sack that negates FG range ... Feeling lucky, Dolfans? ..... Original post: Since last achieving a four-game winning streak in 2008 (the most recent Dolphins playoff year), Miami reached three wins in a row five previous times only to then lose. Maybe the sixth time will be the charm? We find out today starting at 4:05 p.m. in San Diego. The Chargers franchise was denied by Miasdvoters this past week on a new-stadium referendum, putting the team's future there in doubt. The team is faring somewhat better. Philip Rivers' Bolts have won three of their past four games, and SD's five losses this season have been by a combined 22 points. This is not a bad Chargers team, in other words, and one that seems to be finding its rhythm. Miami's first road game in an NFL post-merger record of 44 days will be a tall task for the Dolphins in a coaching matchup between former Broncos staff-mates in Adam Gase and Mike McCoy. Did I mention Miami is 0-3 on the road? It isn’t that San Diego is a particularly a daunting venue; it’s that the Chargers present big challenges and matchup problems. Miami catches a break because top Bolts wideout Travis Benjamin likely won't play. Jarvis Landry is questionable for Miami but likelier to be ready. Miami will be tested by the prolific Rivers (two TD throws from being the ninth to reach 300), who is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, and by hot Melvin Gordon fronts a high-powered running attack that will be a ton to handle for the Fins defense. And San Diego, though not a great defense overall, produced two defensive TDs last week and have an impact rookie sacker in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Joey Bosa. Bolts also play the run very solidly and will make it tough for Jay Ajayi to continue his surreal run of 529 yards in past three games. I could end up as wrong here as the polls were about Donald Trump. But, sorry, I doubt it. My pick: San Diego, 31-23.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 13): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. POLITICS: First Cubs, now Trump on the seismic jolt-to-history list: I guess it's true. Anything can happen. The difference is, most of America (well, outside of Cleveland) was rooting for the Chicago Cubs. It seems most of America (based on the final popular vote total and subsequent protests) did not want Donald Trump.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Chargers for fourth win in row: The Dolphins were in San Diego trying to expand their winning streak to four games, and did, 31-24. Five previous times Miami had won three straight then lost, before finally getting to four in a row for the first time since 2008.

3. HEAT: D-Wade twice a winner in highly anticipated return to Miami: Dwyane Wade's Chicago Bulls beat the Heat Thursday night in his ballyhooed first return here since leaving, and Wade also won big with appreciative, loving reaction from Miami fans.

4. HURRICANES: UM punches bowl ticket at Virginia: The favored Canes whipped Virginia 34-14 in Charlottesville Saturday for a sixth win of the season and bowl eligibility. Alas, four earlier losses assured we're talking about "medium bowl" eligibility.

5. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Road to March Madness now open: College hoops season began Friday for Miami Hurricanes and most teams, with UM's rebuilding men easily winning a soft opener, and No. 14 Canes women losing at No. 19 Kentucky. OK, now let's please fast-forward 119 days to Selection Sunday and get to the good stuff!

6. NASCAR: Homestead final four set for championship weekend: Sunday in Phoenix decide who'd join Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in the final four for next weekend's Sprint Cup season-championship race down south of Miami, and it was Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. November madness!

7. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Earthquake Saturday as No.s 2-3-4 all lose: No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Washington all stunningly lost Saturday, opening door for Ohio State, Louisville and Wisconsin to join the coveted top four in the College Football Playoff ranking. But can anybody beat No. 1 Alabama? "No" is the answer right now.

8. PANTHERS: Cats face four-game roadtrip needing momentum: The on-and-off Florida Panthers make the 15-game NHL turn at 7-8 and just off playoff pace entering a four-game road trip starting Tuesday at red-hot Montreal. Cats have not yet shown they'll be Stanley Cup contenders, but don't write 'em off yet.

9. SOCCER: U.S. drops WC qualifier to Mexico: The American men lost 2-1 to rival Mexico this week in Columbus, O., in the first game of World Cup qualifying, a huge disappointment that puts early pressure on the U.S. Mostly, though, the pressure is one U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann. 

10. UFC: McGregor makes history, awaits baby: Mixed-martial arts star Conor McGregor won big in UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, becoming first to hold two championship belts simultaneously. Afterward McGregor announced he'll be a first time Daddy in early 2017 and take some time off. Yeah, right.

Missing the HB10 cut: David Beckham now says his Miami MLS group is targeting a team to start the 2019 season. This will be have been about a five-year gestation when this baby is finally delivered, if ever it is ..... Greg Oden called himself the biggest draft bust in NBA history. "Sounds about right," America agreed ..... University of Louisville suspended cheerleader Brynn Baker over election-night posts on social media that mocked those outraged by the presidential outcome. Wait. Brynn. Aren't you supposed to be cheerful!?

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 04, 2016

Our NFL Week 9 picks for Dolphins-Jets, top game, upset special; plus King Sport Halftime Awards, why Harvard University has never stood taller, The Luddite's Heat MVP & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4. Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cubs win World Series with history of Game 7s, Wade and LeBron's bet, your Dolphins/London verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few recent columns: World Series, NFL, Jose Fernandez, Heat, Dolphins: There's Hope For Us All (on Cubs' World Series win) and A Needed Slap In Face (on NFL's declining TV ratings), our two newest columns. Also: Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did. The Whiteside Project. What Took You So Long? (on Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot. And The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 9: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-JETS, REST OF NFL: Time to reclaim our mojo in Week 9 of our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, one of our best, after last week's stumble. We were 6-6-1 overall and a miserable 3-9-1 against the spread last week, our worst showing of the season by far. And yet we are now a big 22 games over .500 ATS for the year (70-48-3) after a good start to our week last night. We correctly had Falcons covering a 4-point line at Tampa Bay; click Thursday Gem for that pick. For all our latest selections click on Week 9 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with our midseason trophy choices in seven categories including league and Dolphins MVP. Click on King Sport Halftime Awards to read.

WHY HARVARD UNIVERSITY HAS NEVER STOOD TALLER: The word "Harvard" always has connoted top-tier academia, but today we applaud not its brainpower but its Harvardmoral stand. The Harvard men's soccer team, leading the Ivy League, was just suspended immediately for the rest of its season by the university, all remaining game forfeited, all postseason hopes erased. Why? Because that men's team was found to have continued a disgusting practice in which the male players offer explicit, lewd, sexually charged "scouting reports" on Harvard's women's team. Is this 2016? Or 1956? Is this the highest level of academia? Or middle school? For better or ill, this proves the men of Harvard, ostensibly smart, can be as misogynistic, boorish, juvenile and crude as anybody else. Note that the Harvard crest includes the word "veritas." In Roman myth, Veritas was the goddess of truth. So here's some truth: the offending Harvard men's soccer players are a bunch of idiots! Click here for the background story, and here for the women's team's response. Good for Harvard for its actions, although, considering there were indications of this happening as far back as 2012, you wonder if this little cancer should have been addressed sooner. There should be mutual respect between men and women athletes. Wait. Better yet: How's this for a concept? There should be mutual respect between men and women.

LudditeINTRODUCING: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS": Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updates every five games. Miami's fifth game is tonight. So look for The Luddite's debut Heat MVP standings here in the blog Saturday morning.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 27, 2016

STILL IN SHOCK: MIAMI REELS OVER JOSE FERNANDEZ TRAGEDY. MY COLUMN; plus Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 9.9%; also, Fins escape vs. Browns in OT, Riley on Bosh, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26. UM Sports Hall of Fame announces nine-person 2017 induction class, notably includuing football's James Jackson and Jeremy Shockey, baseball's Ryan Braun and women's basketball coach Katie Meier. Congrats to all. 2) Pat Riley told reporters this morning that Chris Bosh's Heat career "is probably over." No shock. But when the godfather says it, you listen. 3) Golf legend Arnold Palmer has died at 87. R.I.P., Arnie. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Examining Hurricanes' brutal October, state Collball Week 4, Bosh and Wade poll verdicts & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (our latest, and I guess the headline says it all). Week 3 Gems (our latest NFL picks). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it).

FIU fires Ron Turner: Lost in the shock and mourning over Jose Fernandez, FIU fired football coach Ron Turner on Sunday. No shock. He was 0-4 this season and 10-30 overall. Cannot argue the decision. Good guy, though. Click She Never Quit for my recent column on Turner and the woman who inspires him.

JoseripTRAGEDY: MIAMI AWAKENS TO THE JARRING REALITY: THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE JOSE FERNANDEZ: Unimaginable tragedy shakes the Miami Marlins and South Florida with the terrible news that Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, 24, was killed in an overnight boating accident early Sunday morning off Government Cut in Miami, along with two friends who also died. The 9-1-1 call reportedly was received about 3 a.m. A tragedy beyond words. Yesterday's scheduled home game vs. the Atlanta Braves was understandably canceled in the wake of the horrible news; the Marlins will be back in action, with heavy hearts, tonight here vs. the Mets. Click on What Jose Meant Lives On for my column, online and in Monday's print editions. R.I.P., Jose.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 9.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 9.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-24 overtime victory vs. the Cleveland Browns putting Miami's season record at 1-2. It is a rare instance of an approval rating declining after a win. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

Next Poll: Sept. 29 (following game at Cincinnati)

G3: DOLPHINS 30, CLEVELAND 24 (OT): LUCKY, BUT MIAMI WINS HOME OPENER: Postgame thoughts: The Dolphins did the bare minimum Sunday. They won, at home, over a bad Browns team down to its third-string QB. That it required overtime is a semi-embarrassment. So is the fact Cleveland was down to its third-string QB. Ryan Tannehill pretty solid at 25-for-39 for 319 yards and three TDs, bu also had two picks and the lost fumble that nearly cost Miami the game. All in all an escape more than a resounding win. Let's see in four short days what the Dolphins are made of at Cincinnati. Today didn't prove much or show much. Show us Thursday night, Dolphins. ..... Original post: Well, the Cleveland Browns are down to their third-string quarterback and so bad in Clemiageneral that even a winless Miami is a near double-digit favorite. Shouldn't the Browns have been relegated to the Canadian league by now? This also happens surprisingly to be the only NFL Week 3 matchup between 0-2 teams. The difference is, one of them is credibly competitive -- Miami on the heels respectable performances at league powers Seattle and New England. The other is incredibly incompetent. Cleveland has lost 10 of its past 11 road games and is now piloted by rookie Cody Kessler – the Browns' fifth different starting QB in the past five games dating to last season. The Earthtones may be the NFL's most dysfunctional franchises. Having said all of that, Miami has not proven itself good enough to take any opponent lightly, even this one. “Dolfans” and “overconfident” are not words that go together. Jay Ajayi (in for injured Arian Foster) tends to cough up the football and Brownies have a pair of very productive cornerbacks in Joe Haden and Tramon Williams, so Fins must take care that Miami turnovers don't keep the Brownies in this game. Almost forgot: Welcome home, Duke Johnson! This is the Dolphins home opener for the newly refurbished and renamed stadium. The opponent will help Miami christen it right. My pick: Dolphins, 27-10

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10: 

1. MARLINS: Tragedy strikes as Jose Fernandez killed in boasting accident: Marlins fans and South Florida in general awoke Sunday to the horrible news that ace pitcher Jose Fernandez had been killed in an overnight boating accident. There are no words. R.I.P.

Hotbutton2. DOLPHINS: Miami lucky to beat sad Browns in home opener: After losses to two of NFL's top teams, and before traveling to playoff-quality Cincinnati for a Thursday nighter, Miami caught what should have been a break vs. woeful Cleveland Browns in Sunday's home opener, but needed luck and overtime to escape, 30-24.

3. HEAT: Bosh comeback derailed again as Heat near training camp: Further complications related to clotting have derailed Chris Bosh's latest comeback attempt as Heat prepare to open five-day training camp Tuesday in Nassau. And so the outlook dims for both team and player.

4. PANTHERS: Big-dreaming Cats prepare for NHL preseason: With visions of Lord Stanley's Cup, Florida hosts Nashville Tuesday in first of six preseason games. Cats have never begun a season with higher expectations. Can a franchise usually cast as underdogs live up?

5. HURRICANES: Idle Canes brace for a tough, telling October: No. 15 Miami, off this week after a resounding win at Appalachian State, braces for five-game October test featuring in ACC -- including Florida State here Oct. 8 -- then a trip to Notre Dame. September hinted how good UM is. October will tell.

6. VIN SCULLY: Dodgers honor retiring legendary broadcaster: Los Angeles Dodgers honored broadcaster Vin Scully in an hour-long pregame ceremony celebrating his 67 seasons at the mic. Not even Scully, 88, is old enough to remember the Cubs' last World Series win. 

7. PHILANTHROPY: UM receives largest donation ever toward indoor facility: University of Miami announced the largest athletics-related donation in its history, a $14 million gift toward what will be the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility. That's trumps my $25 donation toward the Greg Cote Parking Space.

8. GATORS: UF blows lead, falls to Vols: You lead 21-0 and lose 38-28. Ouch. Gators tails low. 

9. HOCKEY: U.S. bombs in World Cup: Team USA fell to 0-2 and failed to advance in the World Cup of Hockey, a disappointment and embarrassment.

10. NASCAR: Chase field at 16, soon 12: Sunday and next week will pare the 16 finalists to 12 drivers. The season finale at Homestead is getting close.

Missing the HB10 cut: Kevin Garnett announced his retirement, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago. Garnett's prime retired in 2007 ... UEFA Champions League is back on starting Tuesday. What the World Cup is for national teams, this is for club teams.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 29, 2016

Our fantasy draft: Who picked best team? (Was it Greg's Lobos?) New poll. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes, Fins, Fish, tennis, Kaepernick, Marlins Park, Little League, Heat; plus Gase/Richt column & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 29. Dolphins and Uber announced a new partnership today. Go to my Facebook page to read team's press release in full. 2) R.I.P., Dick Assman, 82, the Canadian gas station owner propelled briefly to fame in 1995 when David Letterman, amused by his name, had Assman on as a recurring guest. 3) Yes, your dog's jaws are strong. An average 44-pound dog exerts a bite-pressure of 363 pounds. An average adult human's is 65 pounds. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins impress vs. Atlanta, Wade cousin killed, Fins talent vs. optimism, Canes heritage dissed, Marlins get Francoeur, Riley's Heat gloom confirmed, Rolling Stone joins our cause, your verdict on Dolfan optimism & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Twitter just told me, "Your Tweets earned 1,000,953 impressions over the last 28 days." Not exactly sure what that means, but I think it's my first time over 1 mill for a month. So, thank you, Twitter family!

Latest column: Hope for Dolphins, Canes starts with Gase, Richt: Miami's two flagship football teams have done a lot wrong most of this decade. What they've done right: Hire Adam Gase and Mark Richt. This is only the second time in 51 shared years the Fins and Canes both have begun a new season with a new head coach. Click on Gase, Richt and Hope for my latest column.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). The Real Olympic Ideal (it isn't gold medals). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars. 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).

OUR 10-TEAM FANTASY DRAFT: VOTE WHO YOU THINK PICKED THE BEST TEAM: Greg's Lobos had our last of three fantasy drafts on Sunday. The Lobos will be competing 1) in a random league Fantasyfbthat won us in an ESPN V Foundation fundraising auction; 2) in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos; and 3) in our own friends-n-family league. We had an earlier poll on our V Foundation team, and our LeBatard Show team is detailed at the end of this blogpost. Our friends-n-family league had its draft Sunday, and that's this poll. All of us gathered in person, not online. We did it old-school, with a giant draft board on the wall gradually populated with names. Afterward, of course, we stood around arguing who'd had the best draft, or worst. Whose teams looked strongest, or shakiest. Now I invite you to tell us. In this poll the teams are listed in draft order in case you wish to take that into consideration. We're a 10-team PPR league, and this was a standard snake draft. Our poll is based on each team's first four picks, because if we listed all 16 names for each team it'd be unwieldy. Peruse each team's top four and, based on that, vote which team you'd most want to have. Then check back often to monitor evolving results. Tomorrow we'll let you know who was behind the winning team and how your rated our Greg's Lobos.

 

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: College football is back! Canes suspend 2, open in 5 days: Week 1 locally features Hurricanes hosting Florida A&M on Saturday, two days after FIU debuts here vs. Indiana. UM on Saturday severed ties with two of its better defensive players in DE Al-Quadin Muhammad and LB Jermaine Grace after both were found guilty in a school probe of improper luxury-car rentals in violation of NCAA rules. This week signals official start of the Mark Richt era at UM. Hasn't played a gamed yet, but he's already won by keeping his program clean.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Atlanta, prepare for stadium unveiling in preseason finale: After encouraging 17-6 win over Atlanta and roster cuts, Dolphins prepare for preseason finale on Thursday -- and public unveiling of refurbished, newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium. Place looks great. Will the team?

3. MARLINS: Playoff-chasing Fish add help, wrap homestand: Team is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace in a five-team wild-card scramble as it sets out today/Monday on seven-game road trip. Fish will be a part of the Tim Tebow audition after earlier trading for outfield help in Jeff Francoeur. Dear Jeff: Pretend like it's 2011, your last really good season.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Open, year's last major, set to begin: Starts today in New York with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams top seeds as usual. Tennis is predictable. Then again, defending women's champ Flavia Pennetta is a household name only in her own house.

5. MARLINS PARK: Stadium to host major auto race, World Baseball Classic: Good week for the Little Havana home of Marlins. First it's announced park will host Race of Champions on Jan. 21-22, annual event pitting Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar drivers. Then stadium landed first-round WBC games March 9-12 featuring U.S., Canada, Colombia and Dominican Republic. Now if only they'd add a few Marlins playoff games.

6. LITTLE LEAGUE: New York team wins annual youth World Series wraps up: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" The U.S. champion team from Endwell, N.Y. beat international champs from Seoul, South Korea on Sunday to make a U.S. team LLWS champions for first time since 2011. Was it fate? How could an American team from "End well" not have a happy ending?

7. OLYMPICS: Fallout from Rio controversy for Solo, Lochte: U.S. soccer suspended and cut ties with goalkeeper Hope Solo after she called victorious Sweden "cowards," and U.S. Swimming's Ryan Lochte saw several major sponsors including Speedo drop him over his gas-station episode in Rio. Good-looking athletes, but Ugly Americans.

8. HEAT: Riley's pronouncement of "bad summer" is affirmed: Pat Riley himself called it a "bad, bad summer" for the Heat, and evidence is rolling in. SI.com this week gave Miami a D+ in its offseason grades, and ESPN.com projected the Heat for a sub-.500 38.3 wins, 10th in the East. No LeBron, no D-Wade, no assurance yet on Bosh. No hope?

9. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB protest by sitting for national anthem: The 49ers' embattled QB refused to stand for the U.S. national anthem to protest the country "oppression" of people of color. It's the latest chapter in his new autobiography, "How My Once-Promising Career Went Straight to Hell."

10. SOCCER: Group stage set for Champions League: Thirty-two teams in eight groups of four were drawn this week to begin play Sept. 13 in the Champions League to crown the king of European club football. Headlines went to Group C, where Manchester City was drawn with Barcelona -- meaning new Man City manager Pep Guardiola will face his longtime former club. You know you love you some international soccer when you drop a Pep Guardiola reference!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cousin of Dwyane Wade killed in Chicago shooting. "Enough is enough" Wade had said of gun violence. So sad. ..... Cricket! World cricket powers India and West Indies playing two weekend matches at Central Broward Stadium. Do cricket players have single  names like in soccer. Is the star named Jiminy? (Sorry) ..... Tony Romo got injured. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Florida Panthers dealt Dave Bolland's bloated contract and 2015 top draft pick Lawson Crouse to Arizona for second- and third-round picks. Preseason begins Sept. 27 to launch perhaps first season in club history in which winning Stanley Cup seems a legit possibility ...... Booker T. Washington beat St. Thomas Aquinas in duel of local prep football powerhouses. Circle the date. Aquinas losses come about as often as Halley's Comet ..... Only five schools in poll-era have won more national championships than Miami's five, but the Canes were ranked only 14th in an ESPN piece on college football royalty. Question: What do they mean by "fuzzy math"? ..... The Chicago White Sox, feeling the name U.S. Cellular Field wasn't awful enough, announced their stadium's new name will be Guaranteed Rate Field. No, seriously ..... Oakland Raiders have trademarked the name "Las Vegas Raiders." No, but they aren't leaving or anything! ..... Signs you may be a degenerate gambler: You bet big on Friday's Arizona Rattlers-Philadelphia Soul game in Arena Bowl 29 ..... Answer: KFC gives away tubes of "Extra Crispy Sunscreen" that smells like fried chicken. Question: What do you mean real life sometimes reads like something from The Onion? ..... Todd Marinovich was found wandering in somebody's backyard, naked and with drugs. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Congratulations, Chargers top draft pick Joey Bosa. All of San Diego hates you and you haven't even played a down yet ..... Farewell, daily fantasy sites Draft Kings and FanDuel. Sure will miss those nonstop TV ads ..... The Oakland A's traded pitcher Mike Rzepczynski, explaining, "We got tired of trying to spell and pronounce his name" ..... According to Brazilian media, 20-year-old Ingrid Oliveira and 17-year-old Giovanna Pedroso have ended their Olympic diving partnership after Oliveira kicked the teen from the room they shared at the Olympic Village in Rio so she could enjoy a night of sex with Brazilian canoeist Pedro Gonçalves. Um, is that a canoe, or are you just happy to see me?

INTRODUCING GREG'S LOBOS II, THE LEBATARD SHOW TEAM: We introduced you previously to the 2016 Greg's Lobos team that will be competing in the league that donated the most money Lobosto ESPN's V Foundation to have me as a member. Now I'd like you to meet the Greg's Lobos squad that will be competing in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos this season, a PPR league. I'd imagine this is the team we'll be referencing most on the air. Mea culpa: We were last of 14 teams in the snake-draft order. Our players, by round: 1st--RB Devonta Freeman (reigning MVL; welcome back D-Free); 2nd--WR Allen Robinson; 3rd--QB Drew Brees; 4th--WR Randall Cobb; 5th--TE Delanie Walker; 6th--RB Melvin Gordon; 7th--WR Willie Snead; 8th--RB Theo Riddick; 9th--RB Tevin Coleman; 10th--Seahawks D/ST; 11th--WR Terrance Williams; 12th--TE Clive Walford; 13th--PK Chandler Catanzaro; and 14th--QB Teddy Bridgewater. Last season's 10-team league has grown to 14 teams with one dropout (Papi) and five expansion teams. Returning teams are Dan, Stugotz and myself along with Mike, Roy, Chris, Charlie, Guillermo and Allyson. The five newbies are Amin Elhassan, Randy Scott, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and (are you ready) WWE pro wrestler Tyler Breeze.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 22, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Olympics, Hard Rock, Fins, Fish, Canes, Heat, Lakatriona, UFC; plus hear grandma rapping, your verdict on Greg's Lobos roster & more

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

Yaz1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 22. A happy birthday today to my wife, the greatest person I know or have ever known! 2) Also, happy 77th birthday today to one of my boyhood heroes, Carl Yastrzemski (pictured). Congratulations, Yaz,and here's to many more! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins clobbered in Dallas, Greg's Lobos 2016 roster with poll, your verdict on Hard Rock Stadium name & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI: Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter, the latest, on the Hard Rock rechristening of It's Still Joe Robbie Stadium to Me. A-Rod to Fish Made Sense, on what might've been. Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars, on the Purgatory Four. The Weight Has Just Begun, inside the office and expectations of new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt.A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating opening for Dolphins and Canes. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chased 3,000 hits.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. OLYMPICS: Sublime to ridiculous, Rio Games are over: The sublime? The Summer Olympics wrapped up last night in Rio de Janeiro with the U.S. easily winning the most overall and gold medals, led by swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, by Simone Biles-led women's gymnastics and with men's basketball taking the crown on Sunday. The ridiculous? Plenty of competition, but vandalizing, lying Ryan Lochte takes the Fool's Gold.

2. FACILITIES: Hard Rock Stadium new name for home of Dolphins, Canes: The music-themed conglomerate of casinos, hotels and restaurants is paying Dolphins owner Stephen Ross $14 million a year to have its Hard Rock name on his stadium. Given how the Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes have fallen off the national stage the past 10-plus years, I wonder if "Rock And & Hard Place Stadium" or "Hard Luck Stadium" would be names more apt.

3. DOLPHINS: Fins' defense blows in Dallas, third exhibition is Thursday: Miami is 1-1 in the preseason after Friday' 41-14 loss in Dallas. Ryan Tannehill looked good, but the defense looked like it was nowhere close to ready for September. Dolphins face Atlanta in fake-game three this Thursday in Orlando. That Sept. 11 opener in Seattle is coming fast. Uh oh.

4. MARLINS: Fish stop the bleeding as return home nears: Marlins stopped their slump with a three-game sweep in Pittsburgh completed Sunday, but still are 1 1/2 games back in wild-card standings beginning a six-game homestand on Tuesday. The one upside to the recent slump? Opportunity to start blaming Jeffrey Loria for something again.

5. HURRICANES: UM turns sights on FAMU and season: Fall training camp wrapped up Saturday for the Canes, who will have a scrimmage game Wednesday geared specifically for Sept. 3 season-opening opponent Florida A&M. Miami led the "others receiving votes" category in AP's preseason Top 25, meaning Canes are as close to ranked as you can get without being ranked.

6. LAKATRIONA BRUNSON: Miami Jackson coach makes history: Congratulations to Brunson, 39, who became the first woman to coach a football game in Florida high-school history. Added bonus: Jackson won its opener, 36-0, over Coral Reef. 

7. HEAT: Coach's message to fans leaves somebody out: Erik Spoelstra's video message to fans on team's website mentioned excitement over the young "core four" of Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson. We pictured a forgotten Chris Bosh thinking, "Hey. Remember me!?"

8. UFC: McGregor edges Diaz in thriller: UFC 202 saw Conor McGregor decision Nate Diaz in a fight that had pay-per-view buyers getting their money's worth. After taking some hits recently, including the anticlimactic letdown of ballyhooed UFC 200, UFC needed this.

9. SOCCER: Strikers debut with win in new home: The NASL's Fort Laudderdale Strikers debuted in their new home of Central Broward Stadium last night with a 3-1 win over Ottawa led by a spectacular bicycle-kick goal from Italian forward Amauri. Sorry, though, but I miss Lockhart already.

10. LITTLE LEAGUE: Youth baseball World Series underway: The Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., pits 16 U.S. and international teams of kids ages 11 and 12 vying to reach next Sunday's championship. Past controversies have included overage players. The latest: Nine players suspended for performance-enhancing Happy Meals.

Missing the HB10 cut: Marlins Park will announce this week it is hosting a 2017 auto race involving NASCAR and IndyCar drivers. Racing at Marlins Park? Warning track becomes race track? Sounds interesting ..... Marlins' Jose Fernandez became second-fastest ever to 200 strikeouts in a season, doing it in 139 2/3 innings. If only the science of cloning had been perfected ..... A game-worn Stephen Curry mouthguard sold for $3,190 at an auction. Proving true the old P.T. Barnum adage, "There's a sucker with $3,190 born every minute ..... James Harrison called Roger Goodell crooked. Is Donald trump suing for copyright infringement? ..... Bad news: Florida Gators suspend two from season opener. Good news, they hope: Luke Del Rio, son of Raiders coach Jack, named starting QB ..... Countdown five days 'til Arena Bowl 29. I won't watch, but thank you at least for not using Roman numerals ..... Darren Sharper: Sports' Bill Cosby. Sad. No, pathetic!

Poll result: Most give a thumbs-up, "solid" rating to Greg's Lobos fantasy team: We invited you to rate Greg's Lobos fantasy draft and 2016 roster led by Todd Gurley and Ben Roethlisberger and a plurality of 34.7 percent voted "solid/pretty good." After that it was 27.7% "decent/not bad," 14.7% "strong/really good," 13.7% "mediocre/meh" and 9.1% "weak/really bad." Had the options been letter grades, the As/Bs would have beaten Ds/Fs by better than a 2-to-1 margin, 49.5% to 22.8%.

GRANDMA RAPS, AND IT ISN'T AWFUL: When we call ourselves a sports blog that likes to surprise you with other stuff, we ain't lyin'. Here, a 74-year-old woman raps about Jesus, and it isn't nearly as terrible as it could be. Kicks in strong around the 30-second mark. Listen: 

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 25, 2016

Canes football picked 2nd in ACC division; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Ichiro, Fins, Canes; also, NFL clears Peyton, football town again?, Tannehill a new daddy, SABR nerds coming, Dolphins fantasy leaders & more

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

Laurentannehill1) It is MONDAY, JULY 25. Ichiro is still at 2,996 hits after striking out yesterday as a pinchhitter.  He is not in tonight's starting lineup. 2) Former Dolphins receiver Greg Jennings retired this morning. 3) Pictured right is first-time mother Lauren Tannehill, whose baby delivered on Sunday made Ryan Tannehill a first-time daddy. Lauren is shown in a photo she posted on Twitter July 16. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA moves All-Star game with poll, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, Canes at ACC Football Kickoff, NFL MVP odds & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

NFL exonerates Peyton Manning: From the league today: "Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances." Cloud dissipates. R.I.P.: Retire In Peace.

Can Dolphins, Canes make this a football town again?: I explore the question in my latest Sunday column. Click on A Chance for Football to Retake Miami to read. The Marlins are hot at the moment, but, with Dwyane Wade gone from the Heat, a window opens for the Dolphins and UM football as both set forth with promising new coaches.  

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

SabrBaseball nerds on parade!: I'm kidding, sort of. Not everybody who belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) is a nerd. Although you will find a disproportionately high percentage of statistics-obsessed sabermetric-heads, defined here as people who are aware of and casually refer to "babip" (batting average on balls in play). Anyway, SABR holds its 46th annual convention in downtown Miami at the Hyatt Regency this week, July 27-31, including a Friday ballpark session at Marlins Park. Think of it as like a comic-con for intellectually serious baseball fans including those who are convinced A's general manager Billy Beane may be the human incarnation of God. Fans may attend the convention, by the way, though it isn't free. Click on sabr.org/convention for details and and schedule.

AccCANES PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN ACC COASTAL: Miami Hurricanes are predicted to finish second in the ACC Coastal Division this season in a vote of ACC football media. UM received 50 first-place votes and 1,108 points to North Carolina's 121 and 1,238. Clemson is the pick in the Atlantic Division, its 148 first-place votes and 1,293 points beating Florida State's 42 and 1,176. For the overall conference championship it was Clemson 144 votes, FSU 39, North Carolina 7 and Louisville. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson is a huge favriet for ACC Player of the Year with 164 votes, followed by FSU RB Dalvin Cook with 18. Canes QB Brad Kaaya ties for fourth with 2 votes.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Ichiro on brink of 3,000 owns center-stage in Marlins homestand: Ichiro enters tonight's game with 2,996 hits. Dee Gordon is close to returning from suspension. And the Marlins are on playoff pace and looking to spend to acquire a starting pitcher before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Miami, you have run out of good excuses to not support this team.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins sign Foster, prepare to open first camp under Gase: Miami bolstered its running back situation by signing veteran Arian Foster as it prepared to open training camp under new coach Adam Gase with its first practice this coming Friday. Dolfans seem to love the Gase hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet.

3. HURRICANES: UM ceremonially kicks off start of football as first practice nears: Coach Mark Richt and QB Brad Kaaya spoke optimistically to media at ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte as program prepares for Aug. 4 start of preseason practice. Canes fans love the Richt hiring. Then again, he hasn't lost a game yet, either.

4. OLYMPICS: Russian doping scandal adds to beleaguered Rio Games: With the chaos-marred Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro only 12 days away, the IOC on Sunday ruled against a total ban of the Russian team over a doping scandal. Still, cheating Russians deserve a gall medal for gumption.

5. NBA: All-Star Game moved over controversial law: Its star players are outspoken against police-involved violence, now league itself steps into political arena by moving its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over that state's controversial anti-LGBT law. Leagues and athletes showing a social conscience? Good for them.

6. CYCLING: Froome wins Tour de France, again: Defending champion Chris Froome of Great Britain made it three wins in the last four years. I don't wanna say Froome had a safe lead, but he could race have raced Sunday's final stage on an 1890s-style bicycle with the giant front wheel and still finished first.

7. GOLF: Tiger still out as PGA Championship dawns: As year's final major, the 98th PGA Championship, begins this coming Thursday in New Jersey, Tiger Woods announced his back and other ailments will keep him out rest of the year. Tiger, don't keep telling us you're out. We assume that by now. Tell us when you're in.

8. BASEBALL: Griffey, Piazza inducted into Cooperstown: Baseball Hall of Fame added Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza in Sunday induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y. Griffey was untainted by even the slightest rumor of steroid use. Piazza? Wellllll...

9. SOCCER: Strikers out in U.S. Open, leaving Lockhart: The NASL Fort Lauderdale Strikers were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the all-comers U.S. Open Cup, losing 3-0 at the MLS Chicago Fire. Strikers also announced they are leaving iconic Lockhart Stadium for Central Broward Stadium. And the ghosts of 1977 wept.

10. POLITICS: Presidential race pivots from Republican convention to Democrats: Republicans just nominated Donald Trump, now Democrats are about to anoint Hillary Clinton as America tries to decide which candidate it dislikes and mistrusts less. To sports fans, it's like being forced to watch a game where you don't like either team.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Heat are quiet right now. Resting. It's very tiring not getting Kevin Durant and then losing Dwyane Wade! ..... Marlins' Christian Yelich went on Twitter to vehemently deny it was him seen in a video being, um, ah, extremely intimate with a female. After being informed his denial is what brought attention to it, he deleted his denial. "How NOT to Handle a Social Media Crisis 101" ..... White Sox ace Chris Sale shredded his uniform to protest the throwback style, missing Saturday's start. Talk about a fashion critic! ..... Derrick Rose says the Knicks are now being put in the same "super team" class as the Warriors. Yes, Derrick. But only by people who are mentally deranged ..... Jeff Gordon is coming out of retirement for a couple of races to replace concussed Dale Earnhardt Jr. Athletes are just not very good at retiring. Don't know when to. Don't know how to ..... An ESPN-affiliated ACC Network will debut in 2019. Yeah, because ESPN just doesn't have nearly enough platforms (!) ..... R.I.P., local basketball pillar Cesar Odio, 58, and ex-NFL coach Dennis Green, 67 ..... Somebody check on Miko Grimes. Make sure she's OK. Been almost a week since she last embarrassed herself and her husband on Twitter. ..... It's said the NFL doesn't like HBO's "Ballers." Should be the NFLPA that doesn't. Seems like every other scene in that series perpetuates stereotypes about black players partying on yachts ..... Saw the headline, 'Manny Pacquiao's return could revive interest in boxing'. And thought, "Man, how awful that boxing is that desperate!" ..... Answer: A new sport called "footvolley" -- soccer meets beach volleyball; no hands allowed -- will debut as a demonstration sport at Summer Olympics. Question: What do you mean there are too many ridiculous, made-up sports? ..... Hurricanes are about to reveal naming rights for their new football indoor practice facility. I cannot confirm the rumors: Greg Cote Dome.

JlandryEARLY FANTASY LOOK AT WHERE DOLPHINS PLAYERS RANK: The lists and cheat-sheets have begun trickling forth, which means fantasy football season is underway. ESPN's early standard-league Top 300 (full list here) includes nine Miami Dolphins, in this order: 42. Jarvis Landry (wr#21), pictured left; 52. DeVante Parker (wr#28); 95. Jay Ajayi (rb#36); 103. Arian Foster (rb#39); 164. Kenyan Drake (rb#55); 182. Leonte Carroo (wr#67); 194. Ryan Tannehill (qb#20); 197. Jordan Cameron (te#19); and 229. Kenny Stills (wr#85). Interestingly, at least to me, Ajayi and Foster are just about neck and neck. And surprisingly, to me, the Dolphins are not among the 22 defense/special teams to make the Top 300.

Poll result: Close, but most disagree with NBA moving its All-Star Game: We asked if you agree with the NBA pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of North Carolina's anti-LGBT law, and it was 54.3 percent "no," 42.8% "yes" and 2.9% "undecided or mixed feelings." That means most of our readers are more conservative than I am, but that's OK. Free country! I did find it interesting that "yes" votes led comfortably early on before the no's took over.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 23, 2016

Is NBA right to pull '17 All-Star Game from Charlotte over anti-LGBT law? New poll. Vote now!; plus new NFL MVP odds, Canes' Richt at ACC Kickoff, ode to Original Strikers and Lockhart, your verdict on Ajayi vs. Foster & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 23. Ichiro is at 2,996 hits after going 0-for-1 in last night's homestand-opening Marlins loss, and is not in starting lineup tonight. Now likely his milestone hit wouldn't come before Monday at earliest. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins sign Arian Foster with poll, Canes football on "surprise" list, LeBron James parties & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, the latest, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Riley Endures Tough Summer, Fights On, as Heat prez admits regrets over losing Wade. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, on impact of Brady suspension being upheld. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

New NFL MVP odds: Via Bovada, Packers' Aaron Rodgers opens as betting favorite to win NFL MVP award at 4-1 odds, followed by Ben Roethlisberger 7-1, Cam Newton 15-2, Russell Wilson 8-1 and Tom Brady 9-1, the latter devalued because of four-game suspension. Top Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 150-1, tied for 34th.

NBA LEADS WAY IN LEAGUES/ATHLETES DELVING INTO POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES: The NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver made good on a threat Thursday and removed the league's 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, N.C., because that state's refusal to repeal a law that critics say is anti-LGBTQ and encourages discrimination based on sex and gender. But, that same day, Nbaasg17in that same Charlotte, the ACC Football Kickoff (including the Miami Hurricanes) was held. Clearly, sports is still feeling its way in terms of whether to act or not in decisions that are political or involve social issues. Also, clearly, the NBA is leading the way on action. Just last week, it was four NBA star who opened the ESPY Awards with powerful statements agsint gun violence and shooting by and of police. There still is uncertainty, though, as seen in the WNBA, which fined players from three teams for wearing T-shirts during warmups Thursday in protest of recent police-related violence, yet in a statement said, "We are proud of WNBA players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues." Hmm. What to do? Should leagues and athletes "stick to sports" and not blur the line on social activism? Or is it right that leagues and players, as role models, lead the way in weighing in on such stuff? I align with the latter view. We offer this poll as a microcosm or indication of how our readers feel on this broad question. I'll vote "yes," but it is your consensus that will paint the picture. Vote now, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

FAREWELL, LOCKHART STADIUM: AN ODE TO THE ORIGINAL STRIKERS: [Click on Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham for our latest column. An alternate blog-exclusive version follows here] This was circa 1977-83, pre-Major League Soccer, when the original North American Soccer League had earned a foothold in this country, and when the original Fort FtlstrikersLauderdale Strikers had done the same locally, winning a loyal and considerable following. Lockhart Stadium, off I-95 and Commercial, filled to near its 20,000- Rayhudsonseat capacity for most home games. It was intimate, conveying a Fenway or Wrigley vibe for the lads in the bumblebee uniforms. Tailgating was huge. Fans showed up hours early. Strikers flags waved in the parking lots amid the rising smoke from cookout grills. This was pre-Heat, Marlins or Panthers. Other than Dolphins and Canes the Strikers  were the biggest thing in town. Lockhart Stadium is where showman-coach Ron Newman once rose from a coffin at midfield to demonstrate his team's resilience. Where a young blond Brit named Ray Hudson (pictured) made the women swoon. Where European legends like Gerd Muller and Georgie Best played their career's winters. Where a Rotten to the Cor banner flew against Dutch coach Cor Van der Hart. I covered those early Strikers teams as a fulltime beat, my first big break and major assignment for the Miami Herald. Interest (and travel budgets) were high, so all of a sudden I'm a kid being sent to Vancouver to cover a team. It seemed like a big deal. And it was, for a time. Now fast forward almost 40 years, if you can believe that. MLS is futbol king in America now. The NASL is still Ronnewmanaround, but as a diminished, second-tier league. The Strikers are still around in their latest iteration, but a shell of their former selves. This week those Strikers, currently averaging a meager 1,310 fans per game, worst in the NASL, announced they are leaving Lockhart for Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill (starting Aug. 20), which is one-fourth the capacity. It may be because Lockhart is now old and decrepit. Or because developers want to turn that area into a water theme park. Or because the Strikers are waving a white towel and admitting a team playing to 85 percent empty seats presents a depressing tableau. It may be some of all of that. What it also is: A chapter ending for a small but not insignificant piece of South Florida sports history. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Lockhart Stadium -- the original version. There was a time when that marriage was strong and supported buoyantly, back in the day, before Greater Miami boomed into a major sports town, and it should remain the template as David Beckham continues trying to realize his dream for an MLS team in Miami. Strikers home games were an event, Lockhart was home, and in the teeming crowd it felt like you were surrounded by friends and neighbors. Farewell, Original Strikers at Lockhart. It didn't end right, but those halcyon days as the late '70s turned to early '80s contributed some special snapshots to the album of our sports history.

Poll result: Foster edges Ajayi for Dolphins RB in closest vote ever: We asked which running back you expect will have the bigger role in Dolphins' offense this season, and it was newly acquired Arian Foster edging young Jay Ajayi by 50.9 percent to 49.1% as we called it final. I cannot think of a closer either/or vote in all the years of our blog polls. The lead went back and forth. You truly were torn.

WHAT MARK RICHT SAID TO ACC MEDIA THAT REALLY MATTERED: University of Miami's time slot was this week at the ACC Football Kickoff and media days in Charlotte. We cull though the boring stuff and bring you what we found most notable from coach Mark Richt: On the season and immediate outlook: "If we do things right and don't do things to hurt ourselves, there's a great chance to have Theusuccess. And then, once we get the ball rolling, I think people will say, 'Miami is back.' I don’t think people will say, 'Miami’s having a good year.' They'll say, 'Miami’s back.' You can say you’re back when you have the tradition of five national championships in the last 30 years." On his attitude with assistant coaches: "I got to cherry-pick guys that would really buy into how I like to do things. I told the coaches that I am coaching QBs again, I'm calling plays, I'm getting in the middle of this offense. I don't have time to baby-sit anybody. I tell them if I have to motivate you, we've got a problem. If I’ve got to motivate a staff member to do his job, I’m probably going to get another staff member." On his deep religious beliefs: "I happen to be a Christian. That's just what I am. I'm not using it. I think we need to be true to who we are, what we believe. I'm not trying to make anybody believe anything I believe. I just want to do things in a way that I think God would be pleased with me. That's my goal on a daily basis. I'm not trying to use anything. I'm just trying to be who I am." On recruiting and relationships: "The big thing is to make sure that the high school coaches know that they're welcome in our place, that we want to recruit their guys, we want the local guys to stay home, and we want to be honest with everybody and do our recruiting in a way that everybody appreciates." On his goal for UM in 2016: "Win the Coastal division. Get back to the ACC championship game." Pictured, apropos of nothing: Snoop (The U) Dogg.

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