GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 6. Dolphins signed top draft pick Laremy Tunsil today. That's fast for a top pick and a good sign. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat fall in Game 2 OT to even Toronto series, sitting Bosh smart beyond health reasons, Miami in '17 NFL Mock Draft, Jose & Giancarlo Show, re-appreciation of Shula, disrespecting Richt, Dolphins cheerleaders & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and Snapchat.
THE ULTIMATE MIAMI SPORTS QUESTION: MARINO OR WADE?: Who has had the greatest career in the history of South Florida professional team sports? Is it quarterback Dan Marino with his record-setting 17-year Dolphins run from 1983-99? Or is it guard Dwyane Wade with his championship-winning 13-year (and counting) run for the Heat from 2003 to right now? For me it's clearly one of those two, but our poll also includes a "someone else" category -- although I'd like to hear the argument for anyone but Marino or Wade, who are listed alphabetically in the poll. We ran a similar poll last summer so we'll be interested to see how the results differ. The question is bigger than whether football or basketball is your favorite sport. The question also is broader than just statistical greatness or titles won. Maybe it's which athlete and person is held more dearly in our collective hearts. Maybe it's who is more beloved in South Florida. By however you define "greatest career," cast your vote and say why. Then check back often for continually evolving results.
THE LIST: HEAT PLAYOFF OVERTIME GAMES: This week marked only second time in franchise history the Heat has played two overtime games in same playoff series, and the first time OTs have been in back to back games. Quirky fact: Dwyane Wade has played in 10 of 11 all-time overtime games but been team's leading scorer only once. The history of Heat overtime playoff games, chronologically:
Date Result Opponent Round Heat leading scorer
5-12-00 W 77-76 @Knicks Conf semis Mourning 23
4-28-05 W 108-105* @Nets First round O'Neal 25
6-18-06 W 101-100 Mavericks Finals Wade 43
5-9-11 W 98-90 @Celtics Conf semis James 35
5-24-11 W 101-93 Bulls Conf finals James 35
5-30-12 W 115-111 Celtics Conf finals James 34
6-3-12 L 93-91 @Celtics Conf finals James 29
5-22-13 W 103-102 Pacers Conf finals James 30
6-18-13 W 103-100 Spurs Finals James 32
5-3-16 W 102-96 @Raptors Conf semis Dragic 26
5-5-16 L 96-92 @Raptors Conf semis Dragic 20
*-2005 game vs. Nets was double-overtime; all others single OT.
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is MONDAY, MAY 2. Happy new month, all! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Wildest 24 Hours: Heat survive on Wade Heroics, Dolphins draft with Tunsil poll, Marlins' Gordon suspended and UM/Fins draft lists & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and now Snapchat, too.
Find our grade-Dolphins-draft poll here below our Heat Game 7 preview and the latest Hot Button.
It's Heat vs. Toronto Raptors in second round!: Raptors held on to beat visiting Indiana last night 89-84. Toronto will own home-court advantage over Miami in a second round series that will begin Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Canada, eh? And the Heat's climb to an unlikely spot in the NBA Finals or a more plausible spot in the Eastern finals vs. (presumably) LeBron James and Cleveland just got steeper. Toronto is better than Indiana, point blank, and also owns the home court edge, whereas Miami would have enjoyed that edge over Pacers. Toronto won eight more games during the season than Miami and was 3-1 head to head. To quantify, for what it's worth, ESPN's Basketball Power Index gave Heat a 56 percent chance to advance past Indiana, but only a 32 percent chance vs. Toronto. Raptors oversized shooting guard DeMar DeRozan will be a handful. He scored 30, 33 and 38 vs. Heat in Toronto's three wins this year.
G7: HEAT 106, CHARLOTTE 73: DRAGIC's 25, BIG D CARRY MIAMI CONVINGINGLY TO NEXT ROUND: Convincing. That's the word for a 106-73 Game 6 home win. Miami awaits Toronto in the second round starting Tuesday night in Canada after Sunday's huge Game 7 win fueled by Goran Dragic's 25 points (in three quarters) and defense that limited the Hornets to 32 percent shooting. Click on Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat for my column from today's big win. ..... Original post: Game 7s are always fun. Today's 1 p.m. matinee downtown is far from the biggest G7 Miami has seen; only the first round, remember. Still promises drama, though, as Heat try to keep perfect their franchise record (13-for-13) of advancing in the playoffs when they've had a 2-0 series lead. It was Dwyane Wade saving Miami in Game 6 in Charlotte, his 23 points including two late 3's ... by a man who hadn't hit a 3 since December. "Dwyane feels most alive when the competition is at its highest and games feel like this," explains coach Erik Spoelstra. "You need to have veteran players that understand [playoff pressure] and can manage all the emotions and bring out their best." Miami's edge over young Charlotte in that category is why Heat is a 6.5-point favorite today. One key for Miami today could be the health of rookie Josh Richardson, who is questionable with a shoulder strain. He often leads team in minutes off the bench and can be a shut-down defender. His would be a big absence. Miami also figures to need someone besides Wade to step up offensively today. His 34-year-old bones are bound to be tired after playing at night, traveling and then playing at 1. Still hard to imagine the Heat not holding court today and advancing to meet the winner of tonight's Pacers-at-Raptors Game 7.
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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:
1.HEAT: Miami advances to second round behind Dragic's big Game 7: The Heat faced first-round playoff elimination on the road Friday in a last-gasp Game 6, but Dwyane Wade saved the day and season with late heroics to lift Miami. Today in Game 7 vs. Charlotte here it was Goran Dragic's turn and he delivered with 25 points. You're never sure who's going to lift the Heat ... one reason they're where they are.
2.DOLPHINS: Gamblin' Fins are talk of first round after taking Laremy Tunsil: Dolphins did not shy away from risk, or offense, in their three-day draft. I think it’s the unpredictability of sports that we love the most, right? For example: The Dolphins’ first-round pick being pictured on draft-night inhaling marijuana smoke from a bong while wearing a gas mask -- who could have predicted that!
3. MARLINS: Big win streak offset by Gordon's 80-game suspension for PEDs: Fish, who are back home Tuesday, had won seven in a row on the road before losing today but the news of the week was popular batting and steals champ Dee Gordon being suspended for half a season in midst of club feeling better about itself than it has all year. Weird. Gordon out for PEDs while team's winning streak was on steroids.
4. NFL: The 81st NFL Draft wraps up in Chicago: Three days, seven rounds, 253 players, and if you paid much attention beyond your favorite team's selection in the first round, please have yourself evaluated by a mental-health professional. Somewhere, the first 2017 Mock Draft is now out. Oh how I wish I were kidding.
5. NBA: Two Sunday Game 7s set the four second-round pairings: Three matchups had been set: Spurs-Thunder, Warriors-Trail Blazers and Cavaliers-Hawks. The fourth materialized Sunday with Game 7 wins by Heat and Raptors. There is nothing better in sports than a Game 7, by the way. But only if your team wins.
6. TOM BRADY: Appeals court upholds Brady suspension, a break for Miami: Patriots already were only team without a first-round draft pick, forfeited because of Deflategate. Then a court upheld Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, so Miami won’t face the star QB in Week 2. It's a strange, unfamiliar feeling for Pats fans. It’s called "losing."
7. NHL: Hockey playoffs down to final eight into second round: Florida Panthers were unexpectedly among teams eliminated in the first round, but the NHL's eight surviving teams forge into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, otherwise known as “Mourning in Canada.”
8. HORSES: Countdown five days until thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown season: The 142nd Kentucky Derby starts it off next Saturday at Churchill Downs. Admit it, though. It was a lot more fun wondering if some horse would finally end the long Triple Crown drought than wondering if some horse will win it a second straight year.
9. RUNNING: Latest MIami Corporate Run draws more than 26,000 runners: Thursday's two winners? Two people who should have been at work. Doesn't it seem like there are an awful lot of these corporate runs? If all these employees would spend less time running and more time working, their companies might be more profitable.
10. SPORTS TV: ESPN losing more of its on-air talent: Exodus may be too strong a word but now Skip Bayless (for FOX) and Mike Tirico (for NBC) are the latest to leave ESPN. Bottom line? How can Bayless being heard by far fewer people possibly be a bad thing for America?
Missing the cut: Floyd Mayweather Jr. hints at coming out of retirement. The national group, People Surprised By That, is meeting tonight, corner phone booth ..... Hurricanes and Gators will open 2019 football season with nuetral-site game in Orlando. So you're down to 40 months to plan that tailgate party ..... Marlins reveal plan to boost attendance, announce postgame concert every game by Beyonce ..... Dolphins' two best defensive players, Ndamukong Suh and Reshad Jones, both skipped the team's three-day voluntary veterans camp. Which passed for controversy until that gas-mask bong ..... Bernice Brunson has begun spring practice at Miami Jackson as the state's first female high-school head football coach. From this point forward, equal rights will mean she gets second-guessed and booed and eventually fired just like the men ..... UM baseball falls from 1 to 3 in polls ..... I just had the sweetest dream. I dreamed that, somehow, Udonis Haslem found himself alone in a dark alley for 10 minutes with the Charlotte Hornets' Purple Shirt Guy fan ..... That reminds me. The #BringBoshBack social-media hashtag needs an update: #BringBoshBackEventually ..... The Cubs have ace pitcher Jake Arrieta and the majors' best record. Still, betting that for every Cubs fans thinking this is finally the year, there are a hundred thinking they've thought that before ..... The Indianapolis 500 (coming up May 29) has named an official poet laureate. OK, what rhymes with carbeurator? ..... Johnny Manziel was indicted. My question: What with all that partying, how does he find the time for domestic assault?
HOW'D THE DOLPHINS DO? GRADING MIAMI's 2016 DRAFT: Is this poll wildly premature? Of course! But think of it this way: Somewhere, somebody is already putting together a 2017 Mock Draft. The world moves fast. What can I say? So. You've heard or read all the opinions of the media blowhards, local and national. You've seen all the data spewed rat-a-tat-tat by the Mel Kipers. You've mulled over all of the instant grades the analysts have given. You've heard the Dolphins -- and 31 other teams -- rave about how wonderfully the past three days worked out and how they loovvve their draft. And you've listened to your neighbors and friends -- every one of them an expert, no doubt. My opinion? Maybe a B. For me, a little too much bust-potential on Tunsil. And three WRs for a team strong at that position? But now it's your turn. How'd the Dolphins do? Again, I know. Can't really know for a year or three. But I'm writing a daily blog here, not a set of encyclopedias, so this can't wait. I'm curious your gut feeling on the entirety of the Miami draft. Were the "need" positions properly addressed? Was there too much emphasis on offense with six of eight picks including three wide receivers? Were there players available at 13 in the first round you'd have rather seen drafted? Consider all eight Dolphins picks (listed here below the poll) and render an overall gut-feeling grade. Vote and then check back often to monitor evolving results.
Dolphins 2016 Draft:
1r (13) -- Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
2r (38) -- Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
3r (73) -- Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama
3r (86) -- Leonte Caroo, WR, Rutgers
6r (186) -- Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas tech
6r (204) -- Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State
7r (231) -- Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky
7r (250) -- Thomas Duarte, WR, UCLA
Poll result: Dolfans really like the Tunsil pick in first round: The gas-mask bong did not dissuade you. We asked how you felt about Miami drafting Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil 13th overall, and it was 54.7 percent "love it" and 23.8% "like" -- a favorable rating of more than 78%. Naysayers were 8.6% "don't like" and 6.2% "hate," with the remaining 6.7% undecided.
THE LIST: SOUTH FLORIDA GAME 7'S: The Panthers were one win shy of getting to one this season, but the Heat weren't. Sunday will be the 13th Game 7 in Miami's sports history, the 10th at home and the ninth by the Heat. The history of playoff Game 7's by the Heat, Panthers and Marlins:
First round May 1, 2016 at home Won 106-73 vs Hornets
NBA Finals June 20, 2013 at home Won 95-88 vs Spurs
East finals June 3, 2013 at home Won 99-76 vs Pacers
East finals June 9, 2012 at home Won 101-88 vs Celtics
First round May 3, 2009 in Atlanta Lost 91-78 vs Hawks
East finals June 6, 2005 at home Lost 88-82 vs Pistons
First round May 4, 2004 at home Won 85-77 vs Hornets
East semis May 21, 2000 at home Lost 83-82 vs Knicks
East semis May 18, 1997 at home Won 101-90 vs Knicks
First round Apr. 26, 2012 at home Lost 3-2 vs Devils
East finals June 1, 1996 in Pittsburgh Won 3-1 vs Penguins
NLCS Oct. 15, 2003 in Chicago Won 9-6 vs Cubs
World Series Oct. 26, 1997 at home Won 3-2 vs Indians
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 30. Fare thee well, April! 2) Ray Lewis' son, Ray Anthony Lewis III, briefly a Miami Hurricane, has been charged with criminal sexual misconduct in South Carolina. Story here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft Laremy Tunsil No. 1 with poll, live-mocking my Mock Draft with results, Fins' sad track record in first round, Marlins best team in town, your Bosh vs. Heat verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and now Snapchat, too.
SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS' WILDEST 24 HOURS EVER?: I think we've just experienced Miami sports' most dramatic 24 hours ever in the stuff I hit on in this blogpost. I think I'd nominate the 24 hours from late Thursday night through late last night. We had the Marlins finish a road sweep of the Dodgers on a Giancarlo Stanton homer followed immediately by the 80-suspension of Dee Gordon. We had the Dolphins creating the most buzz in the entire NFL Draft first round in selecting tackle Laremy Tunsil despite that infamous gas-mask-bong video. And we had Dwyane Wade sinking two late 3's (a shot he'd last made in December) in a must-win that kept the Heat season alive. Wild ride. Thank you, again, sports.
G6: HEAT 97, CHARLOTTE 90: WADE'S LATE HEROICS LIFT MIAMI, FORCE GAME 7: Not yet. The Heat aren't done yet. There will be a Game 7 Sunday at 1 p.m. back in Miami after last night's 97-90 Miami win in Charlotte evened this first-round playoff series 3-3. Dwyane Wade led Miami with 23 points with 10 in the telling fourth quarter -- including two 3-point baskets. Wade had last hit a 3 in December. What wonderful late heroics by the Heat's all-time great. D-Wade took it upon himself to save this game, and series, and keep the season alive. ..... Original post: The Heat never have blown a 2-0 playoff series lead and lost. Thirteen times they have led 2-0 and 13 times they have advanced. That historic franchise streak is at risk tonight in Charlotte with Miami trailing 3-2 and the Hornets a 2-point favorite. A Charlotte streak could end, too. The franchise last won a playoff series 14 years ago. That and the underdog role in this series has the Hornets playing with a "a huge chip on our shoulder," as Kemba Walker put it. Miami is stunned to find itself in this predicament after winning the first two games at home by a combined 44 points, seemingly in control. Charlotte's defense has limited Miami to 38.6 percent shooting in the three games since. And the Heat's own defense has struggled stopping Hornets guards Walker and Jeremy Lin. Charlotte's 3-point shooting also came alive in the last game. Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "Nobody said this was going to be easy. Nobody's giving out free tickets to the second round. You do have to earn it. It's our first real test when our backs are against the wall. These are the games you remember." Miami tonight will need more of the vintage Wade who scored 25 in Game 5, but Wade needs more help. Calling Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, especially. Because only the season depends on it. It will end tonight for the Heat, or survive for a Game 7 on Sunday back in Miami.
AFTERSHOCK: LAREMY TUNSIL HAS DOLPHINS IN SPOTLIGHT: I don't step back from my column; click on Curious Pick, Major Gamble to read in full. Many in the national media are swooning over Miami's unexpected windfall. So are many Dolfans (see poll below). I'm more skeptical, acknowledging Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil is a great talent but also admitting his off- field issues and injury history make his Bust Potential bigger than most. Also, Miami has just spent its top pick on a tackle (not a position of urgent need) with plans to try to make him a guard. Hmm. He'll be the world's biggest, least-experienced guard. Weird. I haven't even gotten to the gas mask yet. Let's talk about the off-field baggage. The domestic assault charge (later dropped) against his stepfather, who is suing him. The seven-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits. The admission he took cash from an Ole Miss coach. And of course the hacked Twitter account that last night exposed the image shown of Tunsil smoking pot through a gas-mask bong. A bleepin' GAS-MASK BONG! "Years ago," Tunsil said of the photo. Well, two years ago, it turns out. Somebody did Tunsil dirty with that hack job. I feel bad his big draft night was enveloped in controversy. But it is him in the photo. So, who is Miami getting here? The great talent who will eventually be Ryan Tannehill's blindside protector for many years? Or a guy who needs a gas-mask because he can't get enough smoke -- a guy whose risk may outweigh his potential? Even with those doubts I would give Miami high marks for the totality of their first round, because it must include cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, who arrived from Philly when Miami first traded down from 8th to 13th. In effect, the Dolphins just got three starters in the first round. But! It also is fair to note Maxwell is coming off a terrible season, Alonso must reverse his decline since his excellent rookie season, and Tunsil arrives with character questions. So: If, if, if. If Maxwell bounces back and is starter-caliber. If Alonso shows the rookie we saw was no fluke. If Tunsil proves everybody wrong and is the steal of the draft. If all three happen Miami just had an A-plus first round. If.
And ... weird got weirder: Top Dolphins draft pick Laremy Tunsil could not attend his 3:30 introductory press conference yesterday because (it was said) he suffered an "allergic reaction" of undetermined origin at the team's Davie facility. Allergic to questions about gas masks, maybe, because he did speak about 70 minutes later, seemed fine, but would not address any controversies, saying he was there only "to talk about the Miami Dolphins."
And there's this...: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Ravens, picking 6th, passed on Tunsil because of that gas-mask-bong video. That's Baltimore, a smarter, better-drafting, more successful team than Miami in the past 15 years. I'm just sayin'. Something to mull over for you folks so critical of me for being too critical of Miami's 1R choice.
Dolphins' Day 2 draft:
2nd round (38th overall) -- Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor: Smart position-need pick, 6-foot, 200 pounds, big, physical corner, good against the run, 9 interceptions past two seasons. Miami traded up 4 spots (giving up a 4th round pick) to select Howard, suggesting a lot of love and the hope he'll start as a rookie opposite Byron Maxwell.
3rd round (73rd overall) -- Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama: Needed a running back. Got one. Would have preferred fellow 'Bama RB Derrick Henry, but he went 45th overall. Like that Miami targeted and hit on its two main position needs on Day 2.
3rd round (86th overall)-- Leonte Caroo, WR, Rutgers: Miami traded up into round for this added third rounder at large cost, giving up two Day 3 picks. Dolphins tried to trade up to select LB Myles Jack. I'm more interested in what they did do on Day 2. Trading up twice comes with a cost in lost Day 3 picks and reduced depth via rounds 3 through 7 today.
Dolphins' Day 3 draft:
4th round -- No pick.
5th round -- No pick.
6th round (186th overall) -- Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech. Traded up 10 spots to get him, givgin up one of three 7th-round picks to do so. That's four out of five picks so far designed to make Ryan Tannehill's life easier.
6th round (204th overall) -- Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State.
7th round (223rd overall) -- Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky. Local kid, born and raised in Davie.
7th round (231st overall) -- Thomas Duarte. WR, UCLA. Finis!
SAY IT AIN'T SO, DEE: BOMBSHELL ROCKS MARLINS: It was 1:17 a.m. in the East on Friday morning. The Marlins had just wo a fifth straight game by completing a four-game road sweep of the L.A. Dodgers on a win by Jose Fernandez fueled by Giancarlo Stanton's seventh home run. The Fish were riding a season high. That's when the news broke that star second baseman Dee Gordon (pictured) had tested positive for testosterone and another PED and was suspended immediately for 80 games without pay by MLB. (Full story here). The gut reaction? "Him, of all people?" Second reaction: "If he's dirty, is anybody clean!?" This rocks the stereotype of PED use; this rocks the faith. Gordon is a waif of a man, the opposite of the power hitter looking for artificial muscles through illegal juice. Gordon also is the Good Guy personified, of the (formerly) perfect image, a great, smiling face of the franchise and of the too-few African Americans in baseball. A role model. All that. And all that takes a hit now as Gordon sits humiliated until after the all-star break, his earliest return set at July 29. Gordon called it an innocent mistake in a statement Friday, saying, in part: "Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences." Of course the shocker of a suspension has a pragmatic effect, too. Gordon is the reigning NL batting champion and stolen base leader. Though he was hitting only .266 so far this year, he's tough to replace. Derek Dietrich will be the likely new regular at second base. Who'll replace Gordon as leadoff hitter is dicier. With no great candidate it could be Martin Prado, who does not have classic leadoff speed but gets on base, a plus for that role. Meanwhile, what a bone-rattling disappointment! Say it ain't so, Dee. [Update: Dietrich at second, Ichiro leading off tonight at Milwaukee].
THE LIST: HURRICANES FIRST-ROUND DEFENSIVE BACKS: Of 61 Miami Hurricanes selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since the first in 1956, 13 have been defensive backs. The 13th happened last night with Artie Burns, who is pictured on the phone with the Steelers at his draft party held at The Betsy hotel on South Beach. UM's 13 1R DBs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating players still active, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:
Player Year (No.) / Team NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade
THE LIST: DOLPHINS FIRST-ROUND OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: The Dolphins have drafted an offensive lineman in the first round 11 times, the 11th last night. Miami's 11 1R OLs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating active players, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:
Player Year (No.) / College NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade
Laremy Tunsil-* 2016 (13th) / Ole Miss TBD
Ja'Wuan James-* 2014 (19th) / Tennessee 23/0/Inc.
Mike Pouncey-* 2011 (15th) / Florida 72/3/B
Jake Long-* 2008 (1st) / Michigan 100/4/B-
Vernon Carey 2004 (19th) / Miami 121/0/C+
Billy Milner 1995 (25th) / Houston 30/0/F
Richmond Webb 1990 (9th) / Texas A&M 184/7/A
Roy Foster 1982 (24th) / USC 127/2/B
Jon Giesler 1979 (24th) / Michigan 105/0/B-
Darryl Carlton 1975 (23rd) / Tampa 36/0/F
Doug Crusan 1968 (27th) / Indiana 82/0/C
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Should Heat retire LeBron James' number poll, Kiper's latest Dolphins mock draft, Heat and Panthers playoff outlooks, does golf miss Tiger Woods poll, Dolphins preseason schedule, your Rock Hall verdict, mourning Merle Haggard & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and now Snapchat, too.
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:
1.HEAT: Miami wins home finale, zeroes in on home court for playoffs: Heat whipped Orlando 118-96 in its home final Sunday but enters last three days of the regular season still unsure where it will finish or who its first-round opponent will be. Simplest scenario: Miami will have home-court advantaged if it finishes 2-0 by winning at Detroit Tuesday and at Boston Wednesday. That Boston game could be winner-take for the home court. Finish delicioso! Meantime Hassan Whiteside says he won’t campaign for the NBA defensive player of year award while casually mentioning he has more blocks than a Toys ‘R Us.
2. PANTHERS: Cats await Islanders in playoff Game 1 Thursday: Cats won their home finale Saturday (my column here) and now face the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series here Thursday night, with Game 2 here Friday night -- an odd postseason back-to-back. Cats dodged a bullet by not getting the tougher first-round draw vs. the Rangers. Either way, this was known: Florida -– unlike the entire country of Canada -– is competing for the Stanley Cup.
3.MARLINS: Fish trying to bounce back from rough early start: Has Jeffrey Loria fired Don Mattingly yet? Kidding, sort of, but an 0-2 start at home including the end of Jose Fernandez’ record 17-game Marlins Park winning streak wasn’t the season launch Miami hoped for, and now Miami is 1-3 in the midst of six straight road games vs. the division-power Nationals and Mets. One (very) early-season certainty: How much Marlins' TV broadcasts are missing Tommy Hutton.
4.GOLF: Spieth's collapse snatches green jacket from his hands: World’s No. 2 golfer and top American Jordan Spieth carried a 5-shot lead into the back nine of The Masters at Augusta on Sunday, then collapsed with a quadruple-boey 7 on the par 3 12th hole, and Danny Willett waltzed past him for the green jacket. Poor Danny. The 2016 Masters will be remembered not as the one he won, but as the one Spieth gave away.
5. NBA: Golden State's pursuit, Kobe's final game hog stage: Simple now for Golden State (72-9). Warriors must win at home vs. Memphis Wednesday night to break the Chicago Bulls' 1996 NBA record of 72 wins. On the Kobe Watch, Lakers are on road tonight, then Kobe Bryant plays his final NBA game at home on Wednesday -- same night Warriors go for the record. Has an NBA regular season ever finished bigger?
6.SOCCER: Miami FC makes inaugural home debut: Expansion team Miami FC tied Tampa Bay 1-1 in its home debut in the NASL Saturday night. More important, the new team drew more than 10,000 fans to FIU Stadium, decidedly more than most FIU football games draw.
7. DOLPHINS: Ross names successor as draft nears: With the April 28 NFL Draft bearing in, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross named New York real estate mogul and longtime business partner Bruce Beal as the potential successor who'll have first rights to buy franchise when Ross, 75, sells or dies. Super Bowl or bust, Steve. Tick tock.
8. BOXING: Manny Pacquiao wins his (supposed) final fight: He beat Timothy Bradley in a unanimous decision last night in Las Vegas. Pacquiao therafter immediately announced he was retiring, which is boxspeak for, "Anticipation of my eventual comeback will hopefully stoke interest in the PPV bonanza of a Mayweather rematch."
9. HORSE RACING: Nyquist wins Florida Derby as Triple Crown season looms: Nyquist's impressive triumph in the Florida Derby positions the horse as an early favorite to win the Kentucky Derby on May 7. Surprising bloodline. Nyquist's sire, Nyquil, was best known for falling asleep in the starting gate.
10. HURRICANES: UM spring football wraps up in five days: Miami's annual intrasquad offense vs. defense Spring Game is this coming Saturday afternoon, April 16, at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. I'm betting big on the Hurricanes to win. And lose.
Missing the cut: Thousands will swarm Miami’s ocean sands Sunday for the finish of the Global Champions Tour of Olympic-style equestrian show jumping. I’m betting on Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani, a Qatar royal, because I hear his family just bought Miami Beach, the ocean and the event to assure he’ll win ... R.I.P., former New Orleans Saint Will Smith, shot dead in a road-rage incident ... U.S. women's soccer has filed a lawsuit demanding equal pay to the men. That is so ridiculous. Based on performance, the women should make at least three times more ... Entering Sunday's MLB games only the Baltimore Orioles remain unbeaten. "Good luck with that," sneered the '72 Dolphins ... First time since 1970 no Canadian teams in Stanley Cup playoffs. New national anthem: No Canada! ... This just in. UConn women's basketball has been awarded the next six national championships in a time-saving measure ... Recently (I'm serious) the No. 75-ranked Hurricanes men's tennis team hosted No. 41 North Carolina State. Um, is it possible college tennis might wanna tap the brakes on how many teams it ranks? ... An unnamed MLB scout told us that an anonymously quoted rival scout is full of s--- ... Novak Djokovic won the Miami Open but Serena Williams did not. For once, women's tennis is less predictable ... The 24th-ranked men's tennis player is an American named Jack Sock. He's a shoe-in ... The Lakers' D'Angelo Russell was wired for sound the other game. Not for TV. To secretly record his teammates ... No. 2-ranked UM baseball was snowed out of its series at Notre Dame. Duh. Games shoulda been here like Jim Morris said ... Finally, Ernie Els 7-putted the first green at The Masters. There's a phrase for that in golf: "Greg Cote."
THE LIST: THE DOLPHINS: THE (SAD) COMPANY THEY KEEP: The Dolphins' last winning season (no, .500 doesn't count) was 2008. I wondered how many of the 122 franchises in the Big Four sports have a longer drought, including the current NBA and NHL seasons. Answer: Seven. Longest droughts since last winning season (LWS):
Team League LWS
Oakland Raiders NFL 2002
St. Louis (now L.A.) Rams NFL 2003
Edmonton Oilers NHL 2004
Minnesota Timberwolves NBA 2005
Sacramento Kings NBA 2006
Cleveland Browns NFL 2007
Jacksonville Jaguars NFL 2007
Miami Dolphins NFL 2008
Note: Marlins' LWS was 2009, longest drought in MLB. Panthers' LWS had been 2000, worst in NHL, but that drought ended this season.
Poll result: No! Most don't favor Heat retiring LeBron's jersey: We asked, and 58.0 percent of you said no. Much disagreement, though, with 34.6% saying yes and 7.4% undecided.
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins DE Cam Wake and S Reshad Jones both questionable for Sunday with hamstring injuries, although, in the NFL, "questionable" usually means they'll play. 2) Sorry we've been a bit stagnant with the blog this week; been under the weather. 3) Click on Random Evidence for the farewell collector's edition of our last Sunday notes column. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Butch Davis invades Al Golden's backyard, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Periscope.
Headline: 'Russian Pranksters Fool Elton John With Fake Phone Call from Vladimir Putin.' My reaction: "Who knew Russia had pranksters?" --Greg Cote
Top party schools: Noles No. 3: Playboy's dubious annual list of Top Party Schools is out, with a Top 5 of Ohio U., Iowa, Florida State, Tulane and Illinois. Click here for the full list. FSU ranked that high is a surprise, considering Jameis Winston left.
I LIKE THE HERALD'S NEW REDESIGNED LOOK. DO YOU?: I've been known to complain, even to occasionally say and write things about the Miami Herald that annoy my bosses. For example, when we changed the website last fall in a way that fundamentally discouraged comments in blogs, I hated that and said so. This week we changed the look of both the print (newspaper) and digital (online) Herald, and I think it looks terrific. Congrats to all involved. I like the emphasis on visual presentation and the compatibility across all formats. Also like the emphasis and on our personalities and other things unique to the Herald. Honestly, you can get basic news anywhere. But you can't get Leonard Pitts and Carl Hiaasen and our investigative journalism anywhere else, for example. Still getting used to the near-lifesize, full-length photo of me that now runs with my columns, but that's another story. Hey, we need to change, improve. We're fighters. We don' quit. We are an industry adapting to evolving, turbulent times for the business. I think this week is a positive step. Do you? I know change is often hard. Our knee-jerk reaction is often to not like it, to resist. We like things we're used to. With that understanding, I'm curious how you feel about the new look. Vote and say why.
UPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 2: Our 25th Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions got off to a boffo start last week with an 11-5 mark overall and 10-5-1 vs. the spread. [Boffo: Slang adjective, now rarely used, meaning extremely successful; great]. Week 2 took off swell as well as I bull's-eyed last night's outright Broncos upset at Kansas City. Did I get lucky? Lucky schmucky. Those breaks go both ways. I'll take it. Click on Week 2 Gems for all our latest NFL picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins handle Jax easily, Pats turn back Rex Ryan in Game of the Week, and Lions win at Minny in Upset of Week. Also click on Canes' NFL Influence Is Graying for my accompanying Friday Page column. I examine the state-college players currently on rosters, and list the dozen players (10 UM, 1 FIU, 1 FAU) from SoFla schools who are both current starters and have made at least one Pro Bowl. Our observation: the top Canes are a graying lot (think Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork) that could use replenishing. Only LSU with 40 has more than UM's 38 active NFL'ers, a list infused with this year's seven drafted rookies. But the Canes are looking for their next big star. The youngest Pro Bowl Cane is Jimmy Graham (who wasn't even a football recruit). Who's next? See The List below for the Canes' 21 current NFL starters.
Canton betting odds: Via sportsbettingdime.com, favorites for the next Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class are Brett Favre at a should-be-off-the-board 1-25, Orlando Pace at 1-3, Kevin Greene at 1-3, Kurt Warner at 5-6, Marvin Harrison at 2-3 and Tony Dungy at 2-3. (I'm not nearly that certain on Greene). Reasonable longshots are Terrell Davis 2-1, Don Coryell 5-2, Roger Craig 3-1, Terrell Owens 10-3 and ex-Cane Edgerrin James 4-1.
CANES-HUSKERS HYPE VIDEO: If you're not already pumped for UM-Nebraska tomorrow a 1-minute video might not help, but here's one anyway, via The U today:
THE LIST: HURRICANES STARTERS IN THE NFL: There are 38 former Hurricanes on current NFL rosters. Here, by team, are the 21 (on 15 teams) who are listed as starters on their team's current depth chart:
ARI: DE Calais Campbell
ATL: P Matt Bosher, RET Devin Hester
BUF: OT Seantrel Henderson
CAR: TE Greg Olsen
CHI: P Pat O'Donnell, S Antrel Rolle
GB: CB Sam Shields
HOU: DT Vince Wilfork
IND: RB Frank Gore, WR Andre Johnson
JAC: WR Allen Hurns, OG Brandon Linder
KC: DE Allen Bailey
MIA: RB Lamar Miller, DE Olivier Vernon
NYG: LB Jon Beason, OT Ereck Flowers
OAK: LB Ray-Ray Armstrong
SD: OG Orlando Franklin
SEA: TE Jimmy Graham
SEMINOLES FACING UPSET?: No. 9-ranked Florida State is a modest 7 1/2-point favorite at 2-0 Boston College tonight at 8, and an upset would not shock me. (Surprise, yes. Shock, no). Fans of the Miami Hurricanes, who visit FSU Oct. 10, will be scout-watching keenly on ESPN.
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GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is THURSDAY, JUNE 4. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner with poll, Blatter resigns, Canes to super-regional, Hot Button Top 10, Wade/contract verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Updated NFL win over/unders: Via Bovada, updated AFC East over/unders on wins has Patriots at 10.5, Dolphins and Bills both 8.5 and Jets 7.5. Joining Pats in double-figures are Colts, Packers and Seahawks at 11 each and Broncos at 10.
FIFA next-president odds: With Sepp Blatter resigned in shame and amid scandal, Bovada has co-favorites at 3-2 odds to replace him: Prince Ali Al-Hussein, who ran against Blatter and lost last week; and Michel Platini, the former French star who is president of the European football union.
AND THE DOLPHINS' SECOND-GREATEST PLAYER EVER IS...: You know the Dolphins' 50th anniversary season is upcoming. The team will be making a big deal of it. So will the Miami Herald. As a part of that I'll be naming the Top 50 figures in franchise history in our special section coming out in August -- figures, meaning not just players. However for the purpose of this poll I'm sticking to players, conceding that (spoiler alert!) Dan Marino is No. 1, and inviting you to suggest who should be the franchise's top-ranked player other than Marino. I have listed six reasonable contenders plus a slot for "other." You can only choose one. (Nobody said life was fair, or easy). Remember, this is the greatest Dolphins player not counting Marino. Vote and say why you chose as you did.
STANTON TUMBLES IN NL MVP RACE: Former NL MVP favorite Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins has tumbled to fifth-favorite (tied) at 12-1 odds. Nationals' Bryce Harper is now favored at 2-1. Marlin Dee Gordon is on the board at 20-1. Stanton's power numbers are MVP-worthy -- 16 homers, 45 RBIs -- but his candidacy is plundered by a .230 batting average, by Miami's 21-32 record and of course by the fact he eats Kit Kat bars all wrong.
WEIGHING THE FISH (50 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our fifth ranking. WTF is cumulative and factors six offensive categories. It serves as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Weighing The Fish after 50 games (actually 53, at 21-32 before last night's win; oops):
Rank Player WTF# @40
1 Giancarlo Stanton 243.7 1
2 Dee Gordon 219.9 2
3 Adeiny Hechevarria 174.8 3
4 Martin Prado 173.7 5
5 Marcell Ozuna 165.1 4
6 Jacob Realmuto 118.9 7
7 Justin Bour 115.2 --
8 Ichiro Suzuki 107.9 6
9 Christian Yelich 102.3 9
10 Michael Morse 91.7 8
Note: Season WTFs count is now Stanton 3, Gordon 2.
ANSWERING LEBATARD SHOW TWEETS: I rarely respond directly to or answer Tweets (sorry), but here are responses to a select few related to my Tuesday appearance on the Dan LeBatard Show: To snarkyRedhd: I'm pro-Caitlyn Jenner and use "she" ..... ericlnewmark: The Singing Sportswriter semi-retired ..... RoxFan17: Except I don't fish ..... TheEpistle: Yes my email is firstname.lastname@example.org ..... crherbs: No. LeBatard buys the $40 cigars. I buy a 5-pack for $10.99 ..... mfr234: Fusion TV did the Fatty Arbuckles photoshop, so no idea what you mean ..... Thanks en masse to all those who sent complimentary Tweets. My favorite, from loggylog1: "If you don't like @gregcote you don't like America."
Poll result: Much negativity on Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn: Not for the first time I find many of my readers to be a bit less tolerant than I'd prefer, but, hey, it's a free country. We asked, and 49.7 percent had a negative view of Jenner's transgendering, finding the tale too weird for words. Another 34.8% were positive, saying "good for her," while 15.5% were unsure what to think.
THE LIST: FLORIDA TEAMS PLAYING FOR CHAMPIONSHIP: Tampa Bay, in the current Stanley Cup Finals that began last night, marks the 19th time a team from the state of Florida has played for the championship of the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL. The complete list, chronologically:
Season Team Result
1971 Dolphins L Cowboys
1972 Dolphins W Redskins
1973 Dolphins W Vikings
1982 Dolphins L Redskins
1984 Dolphins L 49ers
1995 Magic L Rockets
1996 Panthers L Avalanche
1997 Marlins W Indians
2002 Buccaneers W Raiders
2003 Marlins W Yankees
2004 Lightning W Flames
2006 Heat W Mavericks
2008 Rays L Phillies
2009 Magic L Lakers
2011 Heat L Mavericks
2012 Heat W Thunder
2013 Heat W Spurs
2014 Heat L Spurs
2015 Lightning Vs. Blackhawks
The city totals: Miami 13 (5 Dolphins, 5 Heat, 2 Marlins, 1 Panthers); Tampa 4 (2 Lightning, 1 Bucs, 1 Rays); and Orlando 2 (both Magic).
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1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6. I read that Le Batard from now on will hardly be writing for the Herald except when he wants to. Sort of like now. 2) Holed up today in the Random Evidence Dungeon concocting the Sunday notes column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron's new TV show, debut of SOPY rankings, your grade on my fantasy team, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).
Pick for FIU home opener: It's tonight. Not convinced Orlando's UCF is all that special, but looks like it doesn't take special to beat the '13 FIU Panthers. My pick: UCF, 37-17.
UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 1 PICKS FOR DOLPHINS, NFL: The mayors of several prominent Miami-Dade cities have officially declared today Upset Bird Day. OK, no they haven't. But only because they're all in
jail. Today of course marks the start of my 23rd season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Click on Week 1 Gems for the complete game-by-game capsules, and on Sorry, Houston for my accompanying NFL column outlining my division-by-division forecast and Super Bowl pick. The Friday Page unfurls with good news and bad news for the Dolphins. Strange as it sounds, I have Miami losing its opener Sunday at Cleveland, yet making the playoffs as a wild-card. I split last night's Kickoff Weekend opener in Denver. I had the Broncos beating the Ravens, but not covering the 7.5-point line. Nobody likes a showoff, Peyton. Geez.
ON STEPHEN ROSS, HIS STADIUM AND MICHIGAN: I admire billionaires who are generous and philanthropic. Bill Gates shares his wealth; Donald Trump, not so much. Maybe that is why they are held in such different regard. In that spirit I applaud Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for his $200 million
donation this week to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, a record donation for the school. Cynics always go straight to "tax write-off." Fine. It's true that when the legalities are worked out this will end up costing him considerbaly less than 200M. But he's still donating a ton of money that he didn't have to. What interests me the most in this is that his donation comes just weeks after Ross fought so hard in a losing battle to gain public funding for about that same amount of money for renovations to Dolphins stadium. Hmm. Half of me still applauds Ross, but the other half wonders why he doesn't just pay for his own stadium improvements. He'd get the money back, after all, because a franchise with a modernized, Super Bowl-attracting stadium is more valuable than what he has right now. Anyway, the poll is food for thought. Vote and say why.
UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY: [From Thursday] The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction pages
this week -- Sept. 6, tomorrow -- and we began a 10-day countdown honoring outstanding notable birds. Today, at 1 day, we save the best for last and shine a reverent light on the mystical Nevermore, the mysterious namesake from Edgar Allan Poe's classic 1845 narrative poem, The Raven. This was inevitable, of course. The Upset Bird finds his heroic inspiration, his very muse, in Poe's talking blackbird. One said, "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore'." The other said, "Aawwk!" Different times, same idea.
Ravens-Broncos Thursday night pick: Make it Denver, 31-27 tonight, with Baltimore beating the 7 1/2-point line but not the opponent. Click HERE for our introductory and full predix capsule, a morsel of an appetizer for our Friday Page debut. [Broncos won, 49-27]
Thursday state FBS-school pick: FAU at East Carolina. My pick: East Carolina, 34-17. [EC won 31-13]
I'M NOW 'VERIFIED' ON TWITTER: There is no way to mention this as an oh-by-the-way aside or
mention it at all without it seeming like bragging, so I'll admit it was a surprise and mini-cheap thrill yesterday to see that little blue Verified Account checkmark magically appear beside my Twitter name @gregcote. Didn't seek it. Can't explain it. Not sure what it does. The one drawback: Much harder now to say something stupid and claim it wasn't me.
THE LIST: HURRICANES VS. GATORS: The Miami-Florida rivalry by decades:
1) It is SUNDAY, AUGUST 25. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes column, leading with the onset of college football and the Canes' opener. 2) Rachel Ray turns 45 today. Is there is max age for acceptable perky? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins attendance surge, my White House visit, T.O. sues Drew, NFL award odds, Richie Incognito, coffee rage & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), on Instagram (Upsetbird) and on Vine (Greg Cote).
"Geno Smith three interceptions. Mark Sanchez hurt. I don't wanna say the Jets QB situation is pretty dire, but I just saw Joe Namath warming up." --Greg Cote
Dolfan Satisfaction Meter note: We return for sixth season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter polls appearing in the blog right after every Dolphins game. They begin with regular season, so watch for first DSM Sept. 8.
PS4: TAMPA BAY 17, DOLPHINS 16: FOUR TURNOVERS HAND GAME TO BUCS:FINAL: The good news? The Miami starters won the first half, the defense generally dominated and Tannehill looked pretty sharp. (Tanny has a 98.6 passer rating with zero picks in the preseason). The bad news? Much sloppiness from a team that has played one more exhibition game than other teams. Four turnovers were the difference, and five penalties and a handful of dropped passes didn't help. The offense stalling in the red zone also was an issue. I think this can be a playoff team, but Saturday's mistakes sinking the preseason mark to 1-3 does not feather those thoughts. That record isn't the concern; the turnovers are. Coach Joe Philbin was a bit harsh afterward, saying, "We didn’t play well enough at any phase of the game to win the game." Well, the starters did, so overall I'd give the performance a modest thumbs-up based on the first half when the real team was deployed. Share your own positives, negatives and overall thoughts coming out of the game. ..... 4Q: Devlin interception in closing seconds is fourth Miami interception and ends the loss. ... Dolphs give up lead with 1:03 remaining on 12-yard Mike Glennon to David Douglas scoring pass. The Gray fumble led to the score. DEMON TURNOVERS! ... Miami's third turnover of game is a Jonas Gray fumble returned 47 yards to Dolphins 25. ... Rookie Sturgis swings in a 28-yard FG for 16-10 lead after offense hits another stone wall in red zone. ..... 3Q: Uneventful third Q other than a couple of more defensive sacks and a long look at Devlin, who was 4-for-6 for 32 yards as team weighs whether to keep a third QB. ... Starters out, reserves in for Miami to start quarter, with Pat Devlin at QB aheda of backup Matt Moore. ..... Halftime: Miami's narrow lead does not reflect its dominance, with a 3-1 margin in total yards and all Tampa's points coming off two special-teams flubs. Tannehill a pretty sharp 17-for-27, with 12 of the strikes to primary wideouts Gibson/Hartline/Wallace. Clay only one short catch off six targets in his effort to mend the tight end position. Big story might be how Lamar Miller (8-35) seems to have seized the starting RB job over Daniel Thomas (7-3). Hope starters play at least a little into the third Q. ..... 2Q: Miami regains lead 13-10 just before half on Tanny 4-yard TD pass to Gibson. Play began near midfield with a fumble recovery by Derrick Shelby. ... Nice punt return isn't fully cashed in as Miami settles for 23-yard Sturguis FG and 10-6 score. Brandon Gibson dropped a shoulda-been TD pass in end zone. ... Olivier Vernon sack forces punt, Thigpen makes amends (somewhat) with 38-yard return. ... Charles Clay with a drop, Tanny takes a coverage sack, punt. ... Bucs 10-3 on Rian Lindell 38-yard FG, set up by Thigpen's goatdom. ... Again! Thigpen with a second turnover on a punt return. Dolphins defense is dominating but mistakes are steering the game. ... Jared Odrick sack and exultant Pee-Wee Dance forces punt. Score does not reflect Miami domination thus far. ..... 1Q: Tanny ends 7-for-10 in first Q. ... Just noticed Dolphins TV announcer Jesse Agler sometimes refers to regular seaseon as "the regular year." Stop that! It's Al Michael's phrase. ... Bucs 7-3 on a 1-yard Brian Leonard run, a score made easy by that muffed punt-return turnover. Turnovers are evil! ... Dolphs force punt but muff return and give it right back after botchery by Marcus Thigpen and blocker Nolan Carroll. ... Steady, impressive opening drive but it stalls in red zone and settles for 22-yard Sturgis FG and 3-0 lead. Ryan Tannehill 6-for-8, Mike Wallace 2 catches, Lamar Miller with a 20-yard run. ..... Original post: NFL teams call their next-to-last preseason game the dress rehearsal, in which starters play longer than usual, and so tonight's visit
by the Buccaneers should give Miami fans their best look yet at the Dolphins, their best gauge yet. (It'll also
be the first actual look, since this is the first home exhibition). Being the home debut and with the starters playing at least a full half, you can expect an emphasis on result (on winning) that you haven't necessarily seen in the first three fake games. Miami plays Tampa in the regular season, too (Nov. 11, there), so I wouldn't expect to see the full playbook, but winning will matter, especially against an opponent Miami should be better than. Individually I'll be looking at several key areas tonight and into next week as the preseason winds down: A continued growth of chemistry between Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace. Charles Clay stepping up as the tight end heir to injured Dustin Keller. Performance at left tackle and stability at right guard. Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas showing something that demands they start at running back. And somebody besides Brent Grimes standing out at cornerback. Also waiting (patiently) for top draft pick Dion Jordan to get fully beyond his shoulder issues and be in a position to unleash that potential Miami thinks it saw.
THE LIST: DOLPHINS VS. STATE TEAMS: The Dolphins' won-lost records in their history vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars, including last night's game:
Opponent Season Playoffs Exhibitions
Buccaneers 5-4 0-0 16-12
Jaguars 3-2 0-1 6-4
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[It is Wednesday, May 16. R.I.P., University of Miami legend Don Mariutto, 81. 2) Just bought Jack White's Blunderbuss CD. Click Sixteen Saltines for a taste. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
G2: PACERS 78, HEAT 75: ANXIOUSLY, CAREFULLY, MIAMI ENTERS THE NO-BOSH ZONE WITH A CRUSHING HOME DEFEAT: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with a combined 52 points and it isn't enough in the absence of injured Chris Bosh, because they other eight guys who played all pretty much stunk. Series now 1-1. Click on Here Comes Trouble for my column off the game. ..... Ronny Turiaf starting at center for Bosh. No surprise. Joel Anthony more comfy coming off bench. ..... Original post: Miami leads this second-round playoff series 1-0 but has such a lead ever felt more fragile? Heat must win at home again tonight or (heading to Indiana for a pair) it will feel something like the championship dream is collapsing. Click on Heat Vs. Adversity for today's latest column by me. Teams and injured players always try to put the best face on their situation, so when Chris Bosh (pictured) all but acknowledges he wouldn't be ready to play until the next round, you wonder if even that if likely. Heat was only 4-5 without Bosh this season, but might Miami have to get past Indiana and the conference finals without him? Seems possible. And even if that happens and Miami reached the Finals sans-Bosh ... did you see how awesome Oklahoma City looked in crushing the L.A. Kobes last night! OK, deep breath. Getting ahead of ourselves. One game at a time, remember? Tonight we see how both teams compensate/adjust to the erasure of Bosh. Miami will need LeBron James/Dwyane Wade in attack mode, some 3's from Mario Chalmers/Mike Miller/Shane Battier, impact like in Game 1 from Ronny Turiaf/Joel Anthony and an appearance by a thus-far irrelevant Udonis Haslem. Heat also will need the defense we saw in the fourth quarter Sunday, especially against 7-2 Roy Hibbert. Erik Spoelstra isn't saying ahead of time but I'd bet Turiaf starts for Bosh tonight because Anthony is more comfy coming off the bench. Every game in a best-of-7 is huge but this one seems more so, like it will tell us where the series is headed.
URGENT GISELLE BUNDCHEN UPDATE: Dolphins fans surely will be interested to know that the wife of Patriots QB Tom Brady, model Giselle Bundchen, appears topless and sand-cheeked (right) on the cover of the latest French Vogue. However, in a related story, the wife of new Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, Lauren (left) continues to be exceedingly cute in the perky style. "We will no longer take a back seat to any AFC East quarterback's wife in terms of hotness!" said Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland. (He didn't really say that. But wouldn't it be great if he did?)
REGGIE BUSH'S RUSHING TITLE: Dolphin Reggie Bsh says he wants to lead the NFL in rushing in 2012. I like the attitude. I don't like the chances. He'd be around 50-1 at best.
J.J. MAKES THE COLLEGE HALL: Jimmy Johnson, the 1987 UM national-championship football coach (pictured from back in the day), is one of 17 newest inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame. Well deserved, Jimmy! I covered J.J.'s 1984-88 years as a beat writer. Those were some wild days. That '86 team that lost to Penn State in the title game was (nevertheless) the single greatest college team ever in terms of NFL talent.
JACOB AND SOPHIA REIGN: Jacob continued the most popular American male baby name in 2011 for the 13th straight year, while Sophia ended Isabella's two-year reign among girls. Whatever happened to Bob and Mary? My own name, Gregory, checked in a rather embarrassed 279th. When I have time I'll look up the popularity rank of my own sons' names, Aardvark and Pinwhistle.
THE LIST: HEAT STARTING CENTERS: With Chris Bosh's injury putting the focus on the position, a sequence of Heat starting centers in season-openers through the years:
Player Opening-night starts
Rony Seikaly 6 (1988-93)
John Salley 1 (1994)
Alonzo Mourning 5 (1995-96, '98-99, 2001)
Isaac Austin 1 (1997)
Duane Causwell 1 (2000)
Brian Grant 2 (2002-03)
Shaquille O'Neal 4 (2004-07)
Udonis Haslem 1 (2008)
Jermaine O'Neal 1 (2009)
Joel Anthony 2 (2010-11)
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