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 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 12, 2016

Opposite season outlooks (and results) for Hurricanes men, women as college basketball tips off; plus Dolphins-Chargers and other NFL Week 10 predictions, R.I.P. Bill Stanfill & more

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

Vetsday1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12. Happy Veterans Day, America! Yesterday we celebrated, honored and thanked all of those who have served in the U.S. military, past to present -- which we should do every day. Who sits in the White House changes, but our reliance on the world's greatest Armed Forces never does. 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): Miami return of Dwyane Wade, postscript on election, your Clinton-Trump verdict, The List (Wade) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Bill Stanfill, R.I.P.: Former Miami Dolphins defensive great Bill Stanfill has died in hospice care, at age 69, in Georgia. Click here for more. The Perfect Season defensive end still is No. 3 on the franchise's all-time career sacks list with 67 1/2, after only Jason Taylor and Cam Wake.

Wade3Welcome home, old friend: Click on Return Of Wade for my column from the arena on Thursday night's surreal but emotional Miami return of Dwyane Wade in a Bulls uniform. A few of our other recent columns: Miami QBs: No Worries (on 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).

OPENING NIGHT! OPPOSITE CHALLENGES FOR HURRICANES' MEN, WOMEN AS 2016-17 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SEASON BEGINS: Miami's tandem of men's coach Jim Larranaga and women's coach Katie Meier is as solid as any in the country (see The List Below), but they face far different challenges and outlooks as college basketball got bouncing Friday. Our overview outlook for each team as the season begins:

LarranagaUM men open with 92-43 home win over over Western Carolina: Canes had five players score between 11 and 14 points and seven play 23 to 25 minutes in expected easy win over lesser foe. Outlook: Miami's men were really good last season, finishing 27-8, 13-5 in the tough ACC and reaching the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, led by a terrific year from Sheldon McClellan. Well, McClellan, Angel Rodriguez and Tonye Jekiri are among that team's leaders who have departed, leaving behind a program Larranaga (pictured) is rebuilding. Expectations are modest; UM was pegged ninth of 15 conference teams in the preseason media poll. Canes will be infusing arriving talent and hoping for big seasons from returning guys such as as Davon Reed and Ja'Quan Newton. The outlook? Somewhere around .500 or just above and contention for an NIT bid seems reasonable. But never underestimate the first-rate motivator Larranaga as he sets out on his sixth UM season.

MotleyNo. 14 UM women open with 82-66 road loss at No. 19 Kentucky: No soft opener for the Canes women, who lost despite Adrienne Motley's 16 points as Wildcats ended on a 15-2 run. Outlook: Meier's 12th UM season opened big as her 14th-ranked Canes unveiled themselves at No. 19 Kentucky with a huge test out the gate -- the only Top 25 matchup in women's basketball as the season launched. Canes were 24-9 last season and 10-6 in the ACC before disappointingly losing their opener in the NCAA Tournament. They should be very good again, led by a genuine star in the senior guard Motley (pictured). No. 14 in the national polls as a starting point suggests big things are expected, as does being pegged fifth in the preseason ACC guesstimation. Unlike Larranaga, then, and despite the program's first season-opening loss since 1996, Meier faces the burden of tall expectations.

THE LIST: HURRICANES' WINNINGEST BASKETBALL COACHES: Where current coaches Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier ranked among all-time Hurricanes winningest basketball coaches entering their 2016-17 seasons:

UM men's basketball coaching victories

Coach                       Record      Pct.    Years

Bruce Hale                220-112    .663    1954-67

Leonard Hamilton     144-147    .495     1990-2000

Frank Haith              129-101    .561     2004-11

Hart Morris               119-82      .592    1938-42, '46-52

Jim Larranaga            91-49      .650    2011-present

UM women's basketball coaching victories

Ferne Labati             303-195    .608    1988-2005

Katie Meier               207-143    .591    2005-present

Lin Dunn                   149-119    .556    1978-87 

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 10: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-CHARGERS, REST OF NFL: We modestly regained a bit of misplaced mojo last week in Week 10 of our 26th season of Friday Page FripixNFL predictions in the Miami Herald, after a pratfall the week before. I'm not doing handsprings over an 8-5 record overall and 7-5-1 against the spread, but it was progress. We were a big 23 games over .500 ATS entering this week, but had a mixed start last night. Had Ravens winning, but misfired on thinking Browns would lose by less than 10. (Note to self: Henceforth, don't even bet on the Browns to run onto the field for pregame intros without stumbling). We move on. For all of our latest selections click on Week 10 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Chargers (sorry, Dolfans), our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with an appreciation of former Miami Hurricanes who represent on the NFL's all-time career leaders lists in so many categories. Click on Canes In the History Book to read.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 20, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 13.3%; plus Fins dig early grave, fall at New England 31-24; also, latest Hot Button Top 10, Zach for Canton, PASS rankings & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. Huge leap: Canes football catapults 10 spots from 25 to 15 in new Associated Press poll. 2) Click on Week 2 Gems for all of this past weekend's NFL predictions. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes clobber Appalachian State with CSM poll, other state Collball Week 3 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Zach Thomas for the Hall of Fame: First-time nominee Jason Taylor is seen as a likely-to-certain Hall of Famer, but longtime Dolphins running mate Zach Thomas is not. I compare their careers and set straight that misperception. Click on The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton to read my latest Sunday column.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 2 Gems (NFL predix). Where Tannehill Falls (NFL column). Timing Was Perfect, Not Wrong (on four Dolphins' 9/11 kneel-down). Awesome Vs. Awful (on UM's resounding season-opening victory). Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CSM vote shows record number: Canesfan Satisfaction Meter voting seta season high for approval. See the results in our immediate previous blogpost.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 13.3%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 13.3 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 Dolphins loss at New DsmEngland putting Miami's season record at 0-2. 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)

Next poll: Sept. 25 (following game vs. Cleveland)

G2: NEW ENGLAND 31, DOLPHINS 24: GASE, NEW FINS FAIL EARLY LITMUS TEST: Final postgame thoughts: Miami dug its own grave early with horrific pass defense and trailed 24-0 before Jimmy Garoppolo went out injured. Then it was even, with a rookie third-stringer pitching for Pats. Too late. Not enough. Tannehill had a scorching second half and ended up with 389 yards passing but that abysmal start was too much to overcome. Positives: Miami didn't quit. Tanny and defense picked it up. Negatives: 0-2 now with an eighth straight loss in New England, thanks to an inexplicably zombie-like start to the game for Fins. Nice fight, nice comeback, but can't feel too good about "almost." ..... 4Q: Desperate last-second end-zone pass by Tannehill intercepted. Game. ... Wow, Pats miss 39Y FG with 1:04 left, so Miami (sans timeouts) will have one last shot. ... Oh my. Miami within 31-24 mid-quarter after Drake's 7-yard scoring run. No-huddle and a hot Tannehill and shredding Pats defense. ... Well now. Miami within 31-17 early in fourth on Tanny 12-yard strike to Cameron in e-zone. Do you believe in miracles? Tannehill now 3-4 yards passing. ..... 3Q: Quarter ends with MIA driving and Tannehill at 292 passing yards. Too little too late, though. ... Life! Dolphins within 31-10 on 24-yard Stills collection of really nice Tannehill pass. ... Ajayi fumble leads directly to Blunt TD run and 31-3 NE lead. This game meets all the parameters of embarrassing for Miami. ... Good gawd! Promising drive snuffed by Ajayi fumble loss. Christ. ...Garappolo (shoulder) won't return in second half. That's an opening for Miami. Dolphins get kick. If they score and make it 24-10, they give themselves a shot. ..... Halftime thoughts: Do I have to? Miami came out flat, showed little life, had miserable pass defense, and got behind so big so fast the running game became a non-factor. Tannehill may need to throw 30 times in second half. Barring small miracle MIA headed to 0-2 with eighth straight L in Foxborough. ..... 2Q: Fins hit 27-yard FG on last play of forgettable half. ... Dolphins driving but Tannehill intercepted. Can this (bleep) get any worse? ... Pats add FG for 24-0 lead but Dolphins-killer Garoppolo leaves game with apparent shoulder injury. ... Bulletin: Something goes right for Miami!!! Fumble recovery. But wait! They give it right back. Of course they do. ... Pats now 21-0 on Amendola 10-yarder from Garoppolo. How many ways can you say "embarrassing"? ..... 1Q: Absymal 1Q for Fins pass D allowing 177 yards to Garoppolo on 12-for-15 accuracy. ... Pats now 14-0 on Garoppolo-Bennett 20-yard pass. Sad pass-D so far, Miami. Brady's fill-in is 9-for-10 for 136 yards. ... Garoppolo-Amendola 12-yard scoring pass and quick 7-0 Pats lead. No Brady, no Gronk, no problem. Really bad defensive series to start game for Miami. ..... Pregame: We'll have running in-game commentary here and then, right afterward, the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. ..... Original post: Miami has lost seven straight trips to Foxborough and 13 of the past 15. The Fins have allowed an average of 32 points in those seven straight road defeats in the zseries. But today at 1 the Patriots will be without QB Tom Brady and likely without tight end Rob Gronkowski, too. DolpatThe Dolphins are only 6-point underdogs. The game is winnable, ripe for a road-team upset, perhaps. But ... can they win it? The Dolphins' recent track record at The Razor leaves us doubting it until we actually see. This is a first real litmus test to gauge the change the Gase Era has brought. A season-opening 12-10 loss in Seattle was mildly encourage, at least for a loss. Now let's see if the Dolphins build, or regress. New England owns the AFC East -- 72-21 in their division the past 15 years. So it was amusing this week seeing Bill Belichick heap praise on the Dolphins and wring hands over how dangerous Miami is. That would be the same Dolphins his Patriots have mostly owned for most of this century. Did I mention that Ryan Tannehill is 0-4 at New England and been sacked 22 times in the process? OK, that’s the glass half empty, Dolfans. But Belichick has a point, too, in being wary of today's foe. Here’s the glass half full: Belichick’s career record vs. Miami is a modest 20-14. Tannehill has pitched for 996 yards in the past three meetings. Jimmy Garoppolo is not Brady. No Gronkowski (hamstring) would be a big break for MIA. [Bonus fact: Jarvis Landry reached 200 catches in his 33rd NFL game, fastest ever]. Do I sense a major upset here? Nope. But neither would it shock me. I think Gase is the smartest Dolphins coach that Belichick has faced in a long time. Fins beat the point spread in Seattle and should do it again Sunday versus the rival and nemesis that plays Lord Voldemort in the AFC East. My pick: Patriots, 23-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 18): 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. DOLPHINS: Miami tries, fails again to solve nemesis Patriots: Fins entered Sunday afternoon's game at the Patriots having lost seven straight and 13 of past 15 trips to New England. (Dear Dolphins: Less focus on kneeling during the anthem, and more on winning in Foxborough). Could have been a major statement game for Miami that things are different under Adam Gase. Fins caught a big break with no Tom Brady, and another with Rob Gronkowski out. Alas, a 24-0 early hole resulted in a 31-24 loss. Same ol' same ol'. 

2. HURRICANES: UM crushes App State as Richt Era aces first real challenge: After two easy wins the No. 25 Canes Saturday played at "giant killer" Appalachian State. Of course that suggests UM has returned to “giant” status, the ongoing climb that is Mark Richt's challenge. Well, Canes looked the part in this one, clobbering the hometown Mountaineers, 45-10, as Brad Kaaya threw for 368 yards and three TDs. Don't  call it a statement win, though. No, no. A tough October schedule will be this team's barometer. Update: UM catapults 25 to 15 in today's new Associated Press poll.  

3. MARLINS: Write 'em off. Fish done as they prepare for year's final homestand: They're one game under .500 and 5 back in the wild-card race, with only 13 games left, as Fish prepare for Monday start of the waning season's last homestand. Finis. Done. The once-real playoff hopes are miracle-microscopic now.

4. HEAT: Bosh says he's ready for camp, team still mum, Wade says thanks: As Heat prepare to open training camp Sept. 27 in Nassau, Bahamas, Chris Bosh said this week he's ready to play but team remained noncommittal. Dear Heat: Please, a bleepin' decision, already! Meanwhile -- #Respect -- departed Dwyane Wade has billboard near the arena that reads, Thank You Miami.

5. PANTHERS: Hockey's back as Cats stage rookie camp: Florida's rookie camp is underway, through Tuesday, and includes three rookie games vs. other NHL teams, the second of them on Sunday. Cats have highest expectations of any local pro team this season. Then again, vs. Dolphins, Marlins and post-Wade Heat, that's a low bar.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Florida State loss shakes up CFP outlook: The top three teams faced road games against ranked opponents Saturday. No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State survived. Not so much No. 2 FSU in a crushing 63-20 humiliation at Louisville. This is the Noles waving goodbye to the College Football Playoff. This is the Canes possibly being favored when the Seminoles visit here Oct. 8.

7. TIM TEBOW: Former quarterback launches baseball career: It begins for Tebow on Monday morning, a few hours north of Miami up in Port St. Lucie, at the Mets' minor-league facility. There, amid what will be a media circus, the ex-Florida gators and NFL quarterback has his first workout as a newly signed minor-league ballplayer. Tebow has balls, Mets have a low-risk prospect. What's not to like?

8. HOCKEY: Team USA stunned in World opener: Heavily favored Team USA lost to Team Europe on Saturday in opening game of the eight-team World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, skating through Oct. 1. "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-Ohhhh..."

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes' ACC schedule announced: Season opens Nov. 11 but we now know ACC opener will be at home Dec. 31 vs. North Carolina State. UM will be showcased nationally on twice this season on CBS, Jan. 28 vs. North Carolina and Feb. 25 vs. Duke. Five other games will be broadcast on ESPN platforms and five more on the ACC Network.

10. FIU: School, AD Garcia set parting date: FIU's 10-year athletic director Pete Garcia will remain through July 31, 2018 and then depart, the two sides agreed this week. The spin is positive, but the fresh blood is needed. Garcia saves face with this; it isn't a firing. But it is FIU moving on (eventually). Oh, and FIU football fell to 0-3 Saturday.

Missing the HB10 cut: Bills coach Rex Ryan scapegoated and fired his offensive coordinator to protect his defensive coordinator brother -- the one who should have been fired. You're a sad clown, Rex ..... Penn State honored disgraced former football coach Joe Paterno on Saturday. Whose idea was that? Jerry Sandusky's? ..... Kyle Busch tops the 16-driver finalists field that will spend the two months trying to win a championship in Homestead in November. Another season with no dream finish for Dale Jr. ..... Soccer's 32-team Champions League is 32 matches in and off 'til Sept. 27. If you don't know what it is, it's too hard to explain here. If you do know what it is, you probably know more than I do ..... U.S. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem. At what point will this no longer even be newsworthy? ..... And in other news: A sentence I never imagined writing: "Ryan Lochte was attacked on Dancing With the Stars."

MstaffordPASS NFL QUARTERBACK RANKINGS ENTERING WEEK 2: Click here for Week 1 results launching the 19th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) NFL quarterback rankings. Lion Matthew Stafford (pictured) fronts our first Top 20 chart. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill failed to chart and sits in 30th place out the gate. A backgrounder:

Previous PASS champions: 1998—Steve Young SF 462.50 points; 1999—Kurt Warner STL 517.95; 2000—Peyton Manning IND 467.65; 2001—Warner STL 557.50; 2002—Rich Gannon OAK 555.45; 2003—P.Manning IND 522.35; 2004—P.Manning IND 579.85; 2005—Carson Palmer CIN 487.80; 2006—P.Manning IND 512.85; 2007—Tom Brady NE 664.30; 2008—Drew Brees NO 535.45; 2009—Brees NO 565.35; 2010—Brees NO 557.00; 2011—Brees NO 713.80; 2012—P.Manning DEN 593.35; 2013—P.Manning DEN 714.85; 2014—Brees NO 583.60; 2015—Brees NO 575.80.

Final 2015 Top 10: 1. Drew Brees NO 575.80; 2. Tom Brady NE 565.50; 3. Kirk Cousins WAS 521.30; 4. Philip Rivers SD 520.60; 5. Carson Palmer ARI 516.55; 6. Matthew Stafford DET 509.10; 7. Russell Wilson SEA 504.50; 8. Matt Ryan ATL 484.55; 9. Eli Manning NYG 470.80; 10. Cam Newton CAR 437.85.

Season record: Manning DEN 714.85 (2013). Dolphins record: Ryan Tannehill 481.25 (2014).

Best week: Ben Roethlisberger PIT 80.10 (2014). Worst week: Tim Hasselbeck WAS minus-23.30 (2003).

Career titles: 6 each—Brees and Manning; 2—Warner; 1 each—Brady, Gannon, Palmer and Young.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 07, 2016

End of Jose Fernandez's record home win streak heaps (very) early pressure on Marlins; plus Justise Winslow, UM '17 title odds, R.I.P. Merle Haggard, rat-tastic Panthers, Rock Hall poll (vote now!), your verdicts on 2 polls & more

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

Rats1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 7. Congrats to the Florida Panthers for achieving their second NHL division title in franchise history. Rats! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Night with expectations poll, Villanova wins thriller, '96 Bulls vs. '16 Warriors poll, Monica Lewinsky, Dolphins in Bogota, spring football & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Disrespect for Heat's Justise Winslow?: A bunch of ESPN talking heads are jabbering here about what NBA rookie has the greatest upside/future/potential and Miami's Justise Winslow is ranked only No. 7 on one list and No. 8 on the other.

UM 2017 title odds in men's hoops: Confetti hasn't even stopped falling at Villanova and already the 2017 men's NCAA Tournament odds are out (via Bovada), with Duke on top at 9-2, then Kentucky 6-1 and 'Nova 8-1. The Miami Hurricanes, depleted by departing seniors, are tied for 18th at 40-1.

My Marlins column off opener: Click on Out Of Excuses to read in full. I write why it is imperative for the Marlins to finally win and matter again.

JoseHOMELAND SECURITY: MARLINS COUNTED ON JOSE'S MIAMI MAGIC AGAIN, LOST, AND NOW FACE EARLY-SEASON PRESSURE [Update: Fernandez was pulled in the 6th inning trailing 3-0 in an eventual 7-3 Marlins loss to Detroit yesterday, meaning his home win streak finally ended. Fernandez struck out 13 in defeat]. Original post: The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson (yes, Jeh) happened to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Marlins Opening Night. Fitting, because the Marlins' own director of Homeland Security, Jose Fernandez, takes the mound for Game 2. The home/away disparity sports is interesting. It tends to be quite pronounced with teams enjoying a home-field (or court, or ice) advantage, but much less so with individuals. A few anecdotal examples below only underline the remarkable home/road career arc of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins' Game 2 starter today. Consider:

Dan Marino passer rating: 87.4 home vs. 85.3 road.

Dwyane Wade scoring average: 24.3 home vs. 23.1 road.

Jaromir Jagr goals per game: 0.49 home vs. 0.43 road.

Giancarlo Stanton home runs per game: 0.2577 home vs. 0.2557 road.

The differences are shades of negligible. Now consider:

Jose Fernandez record and ERA, before Wednesday: 17-0 and 1.40 home vs. 5-9 and 3.78 road.

It isn't that he's terrible on the road by any means; that sub-4 ERA is decent, and his K's-per-inning away are comparable. It is that he is record-setting, all-time-great at home to begin a career. And now the Marlins are counting on him yet again today to deliver that Homeland Security at Marlins Park. You keep counting on the law of averages to kick in, but he keeps winning here. Now Fernandez maintaining his home streak is especially important because Miami lost its season opener last night and because, after today, the Fish face six consecutive road games -- all of them vs. the NL East favorite Nationals or Mets. Marlins need a fast start this season, and that's why they need Jose to stay perfect at home today. If Jose's streak ends, this team will be feeling pressure earlier than any club should.

Poll result: Most expect Marlins to be OK but not a playoff team: We asked your expectations for this Marlins season, and votes came in before and after the Opening Night loss. Most overall, 55.1 percent, voted "average" (around .500, no playoffs). However, more voted "good" (playoff drought finally ends) than "poor" (more disappointment from Fish) by 28.6% to 16.3%.

Poll result: It's M.J. over Steph, easily: Old School won. We asked who win an NBA Finals between Michael Jordan's 72-win 1996 Chicago Bulls and Stephen Curry's current, now-69-win Golden State Warriors, and it was M.J. routing Steph by 61.4 percent to 24.6%. The other 14.0% voted "too close to call."

RockhallROCK HALL: WHICH 2016 INDUCTEE IS MOST (AND LEAST) DESERVING: Music has been and is a huge (Bernie Sanders: Yuuuge) part of my life, and I've followed the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ever since visiting it in Cleveland a couple of years ago. The Hall's 31st annual induction ceremony is this Friday in Brooklyn, and the five latest inductees are listed in this poll alphabetically. I'm curious what you think, so I invite you to vote for the one artist you think is most deserving, whether by your own personal preference or by how you judge that artist's importance or place in music history. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

MERLE HAGGARD, 1937-2016: Merle Haggard died today on his 79th birthday, a huge loss in the country music world. I was (am) a big fan and admirer. I looked forward to seeing him in concert for the first time a few months ago, in Fort Lauderdale, but he canceled days before the show. He had reportedly been in declining health for awhile. We happened to be in Nashville over the past weekend on a small holiday, and visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, which has a video that includes Merle, years ago, doing spot-on impersonations of Johnny Cash and other contemporaries. A friend with us asked, "Is he still alive?" I said, "Oh yes. He still tours!" He would pass away four days later. Haggard had many bigger hits, such as Okie From Muskogee and Mama Tried, but below is a song and video that always gets to me, and does especially today. It is called My Favorite Memory. Thank you, Merle Haggard.There will never be another. R.I.P.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 26, 2016

Hurricanes out in Sweet 16: How successful was season? Poll. Vote now!; plus my updated bracket, Serena Williams, Miami Open tennis vs. Doral golf poll, LeBron's weird dream, McShay's latest Fins mock, your Brightest Future winner (tight!) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 26. Did you make it a good Good Friday, Christians? 2) Happy 69th birthday today to Elton John, one of my musical and cultural heroes. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bright Futures 25&U poll, Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena backs Miami Open, Dolphins on the cheap, your Obama-Cuba verdict, Melania Trump ad & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Serena and the Miami Open: The Miami Open on Key Biscayne helped raise Serena Williams, and vice versa. That symbiosis is the theme of my latest column. Click on Serena and the Miami Open to read it. 

End of the bracket for me: SliceMiami.com was down to its Final Four in the Media bracket and I made it, but lost in my semifinal to the 'Gotz Army of my 790 The Ticket/ESPN Radio colleague, Stugotz. He's now in the Media final and crushing rival station WQAM's Marc Hochman. Oh my. Juggernaut.

McShay's mock picks for Dolphins, UM: ESPN's Todd McShay's mock draft 4.0 has Fins picking Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott 13th overall and Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah in second round, 42nd overall. Only Miami Hurricane in the first two rounds: CB Artie Burns, 45th overall to Rams.

MARCH MADNESS: RUN IS DONE FOR HURRICANES; UM ELIMINATED IN SWEET 16: Miami was swamped 92-69 by Villanova in the NCAA Sweet 16 in Louisville. That's makes it three Canessweet16Sweet 16s for UM but still no Elite Eight. Sheldon McClellan did his part with 26 points tonight but got too little help. The story, though, was Miami not containing a really effective 'Nova attack. Villanova shot 62.7 percent from the field including 10-for-15 on 3's, plus 18 of 19 on free throws. Seems like they never missed. I'd foreseen it in my preview here, writing, "Mostly the matchup figures as how the Canes' defense fares in limiting 'Nova's big-time offense, which has averaged 82 points over the past month and has shot 58.6 percent so far in the NCAAs." Villanova, the nation's No. 1-ranked team for three weeks in February, was a four-point favorite and showed why. I liked Miami in an upset, but I guess that was homer parochial thinking. They needed another lights-out performance from guard Angel Rodriguez and didn't get it. Bottom line? Miami is not Elite yet, literally or figuratively. But Jim Larranaga is getting them closer. Progress. Overall a good season that did Miami proud. Agree? Take a dip in our poll.

NCAA Bracketeering, updated: Friday--My teams were 1-3, meaning 1-1 with teams still alive (North Carolina advanced) and two others previously eliminated. Overall--I'm 37-19 thus far in men's NCAA Tournament games. The bad news? I have only two teams still alive in the Elite Eight. The good news? They include Kansas, my pick to win it all. Cinderella Meter--28.6% (16 of 56 games have been upsets so far based on seeding). Today--I very much need Kansas to  beat Villanova. I have no dog left in the Oklahoma-Oregon hunt.

ON LEBRON'S 'DREAM TEAM,' STATE OF HEAT: 1) LeBron James said this week he would "take a pay cut" to play on the same team with close friends Dwyane Wade (once Lebrondreamingmore), Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Said James: "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP. I would actually take a pay cut to do that." Quick thought: Given the age and career arc of each, is 'Bron talking about an Old-Timers League? 2) The Heat's 112-88 loss to San Antonio Wednesday night was a reality check and a reminder of the distance between Miami and the best teams in the NBA. Here is another: Miami is now 4-9 this season against the five teams with clearly better records: Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Toronto. It's 2-1 vs. the Cavaliers, 2-8 vs. the other four.

Doral golf MiamiopenMIAMI OPEN TENNIS VS. WGC DORAL GOLF: The World Golf Championship event at Doral just ended, continuing the PGA Tour's 53-year run in South Florida. Now the Miami Open tennis tournament is underway on Key Biscayne -- Serena Williams won last evening in the first marquee match -- continuing that event's more than 30-year history in South Florida. But are prestigious tournaments right below being one of the sport's four majors. But both annual local sports institutions are in jeopardy. Doral could lose the greatest men's golfers in the world over politics, because the PGA Tour may distance itself from Donald Trump-owned properties. Key Biscayne could lose the best men's and women's tennis players in the world over legalities, related to a court case that will determine whether needed facility improvements are permitted. My question here: Which of these two major annual events is most important to you? I hope the answer for many of you is "both!" But which would you most hope stays where it is if you could choose only one? Take a dip in our poll and be heard!

JosePOLL RESULT: BRIGHTEST FUTURE? J'S HAVE IT AS JOSE, JUSTISE, JARVIS DOMINATE VOTE: We asked which of South Florida's 25-and-under sports stars has the brightest future, and gave you 14 choices and three votes. The clear overall top three in a tight race: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez (21.9 percent), Heat forward Justise Winslow (20.3%) and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (19.2%). Jose is pictured tipping his cap to thank you for the vote. Rounding out the top five were Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker with 9.3% and Heat guard Josh Richardson at 8.7%, followed by the top-ranking Florida Panther, Sasha Barkov, with 7.7%. Popular poll. Thanks to all who weighed in.

BOSH'S NEW PUBLIC-SERVICE AD: Sidelined Heat star Chris Bosh is featured (along with Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Becky Hammon) in a new LeanIn.org video for its public-awareness campaign in support of gender equality. Here it is:

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 24, 2016

Which Miami 25-&-under sports star will have greatest career? Poll too close to call. Last chance to vote!; plus Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena's pitch for Miami Open, Melania Trump, Fins on the cheap, your Cuba-trip verdict & more

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

Garagiola1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 24. Purim began at sundown last evening. Happy day to all our Jewish friends. 2) R.I.P. famed baseball broadcaster Joe Garagiola, pictured, at age 90. His was the first TV voice I heard when I was falling love with baseball as a kid. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Other side of the cheering on Cuba visit with poll, disrespecting Canes, Marlins on Jose, Serena's selfie, NCAA bracket update & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

"Rays beat Cuban National Team. Thank you, Tampa Bay, for denying the Castros the added propoganda." --Greg Cote

My latest 'Back In My Day': ICYMI on Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, here it is via ESPN Radio: Click Menus to listen and watch.

BrightfutureBRIGHT FUTURES: WHICH OF SOUTH FLORIDA'S 25-AND-UNDER PRO SPORTS STARS WILL HAVE THE GREATEST CAREER?: We made 25 the arbitrary line of demarcation here, and considered every current Heat, Dolphins, Marlins or Panthers player who was born in March 1991 or later. There were a lot, but we whittled it to a list of the 14 most prominent -- five Panthers and three from each of the other teams. Our poll list is alphabetical, and you may vote for your top three (3). It shouldn't be easy. For me, Jose Fernandez and Sasha Barkov were pretty easy, but the third was not. Jarvis Landry? Justise Winslow? Somebody else? Enough about me. Your turn. By the way, if you think anybody obvious is missing from the poll, I should mention as a preemptive strike that Giancarlo Stanton and Hassan Whiteside were born in 1989 and Ryan Tannehill in '88. They're still young, but too old for our 25U club. OK, ready? Remember, this is a brightest-future poll; try not to make it about which team or sport is your favorite. Vote now and check back frequently to monitor constantly evolving numbers. To decipher a three-vote ballot, triple the percentage of each player's total shown for an estimation of the percentage of ballots that include him in the top three. In other words, Winslow at 23.3 percent (when last I checked) was being included in about 70 percent of all top-threes.

Vote for your top 3:

UnisSWEET 16: NOT ALL AGREE THE HURRICANES ARE LOOKING GOOD: ESPN has one of those silly "Uni Watch" uniform rankings for the Sweet 16 teams, and the Miami Hurricanes's new Adidas duds are ranked only 14th. Ouch. The synopsis reads: "Green, orange and white are such a great color combination. Too bad they're used to such poor effect on the new March Madness uni set that Adidas prepared for the Hurricanes. It's hard to say which is worse -- the orange [or green] shoulder harness or the 'grass skirt' striping on the shorts. A real stinker." OK, then. A Thursday victory from Villanova away from their first Elite Eight appearance, we're thinking UM fans prefer their team continue to be athletically splendid even if its sartorial splendor may be somewhat dubious.

UH OH. IT'S COTE VS. STUGOTZ IN LOCAL MEDIA BRACKET'S FINAL FOUR: Website SliceMiami has been holding NCAA-style brackets in four 16-person "regions" including Media, and I -- the last Herald writer standing -- have vanquished two foes to reach the Final Four, where I will face my 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio mate, the great Stugotz. The other semifinal will pit WQAM's Marc Hochman vs. his 560 stablemate Joe Rose. I think voting in the Final Four round is Thursday and Friday but we'll update you further.xx

SerenaSERENA STANDS UP ELOQUENTLY FOR THE MIAMI OPEN: We know Serena Williams is the best women's tennis player in the world, and has been for much of the past 15 years or so. She's a pretty good writer, too, it turns out. Williams this week penned a piece for the New York Times on why the Miami Open (running now through April 3 on Key Biscayne) is so dear to her and how she'd hate to see it leave, which it could related to a legal battle over improvements to the site. Good for you, Serena! Find her entire essay here.

DOLPHINS ON THE CHEAP: ESPN ranks all 32 teams in terms of current free-agent spending and your Dolphins slot in 22nd with only $11.9 million in guaranteed money given. Dough spent does Abdul-quddusnot always equate with winning, no, but it is a bit disconcerting that division-power New England has spent more than triple ($38.1 mill) what the Dolphins have to get better. ESPN's cynopsis of the Fins' FA expenditure so far: "For the first time in several years, the Dolphins elected to be judicious with their free-agent spending. They spent just $11.9 million in guaranteed money so far, with the biggest guarantee going to safety Isa Abdul-Quddus ($6 million). Big-ticket items haven't produced more victories, so Miami is trying the opposite approach." But just as spending big isn't always smart, being economical doesn't always mean smart spending. For example, Abdul-Quddus (pictured), the big get in terms of guaranteed money, has only 16 starts and two interceptions in 74 career NFL games. Hmm.

Poll result: Most oppose Obama and baseball's visit to Cuba: We asked your reaction and it was 25.3 percent "positive," 54.9% "negative" and 19.8% "mixed emotions or undecided." Interestingly, the negative vote was running only slightly higher (58.5%) in Florida, where a higher percentage of Cuban-Americans reside. Also interesting (at least to me): The "positive" vote enjoyed a plurality when the poll appeared only in my blog, before it hit a broader/different audience when picked up by MiamiHerald.com.

MelaniatrumpTHE MELANIA TRUMP AD: Nasty politics continue on the Republican side of the presidential race. A super-PAC supporting Ted Cruz ran the ad pictured, showing Donald Trump's wife Melania in a GQ photo shoot from 2000, back in her modeling days. The text reads, "Meet Melania Trump: Your Next First Lady. Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz On Tuesday."  The Donald responded on Twitter with a warning for Cruz to be careful or he'll "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife. Me? I have little doubt that Trump is privately not displeased at all with this ad -- with people being reminded how great he must be to have a wife this hot. But here's the bottom line: Will seeing Melania like this make anyone less likely to vote for Donald Trump? For many people, absolutely nothing could possibly make them less likely to vote for Trump.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 22, 2016

America cheers Obama 'n baseball in Cuba, but in Miami, not everyone is celebrating. With poll. Vote!; plus Radio Tuesday, Wade not 1 of LeBron's issues, disrespect for Canes continues, Marlins on Jose, Serena's selfie, NCAA bracket & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 22. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NCAA bracket update & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and also on ESPN U and Fusion TV.

LeBron has problems. D.Wade isn't one of them: Click on The Downward Trajectory of LeBron for today's latest column by me.

Media Bracket Round 2: I advanced in the Media Region of SliceMiami.com's first Miami Sports Bracket. To vote for, click here

National disrespect for Hurricanes continues: They were underdogs to Wichita State but reached the Sweet 16, anyway. Now the men of Jim Larranaga are 4- to 4 1/2-point underdogs to Villanova in Thursday night's game. And, among the last 16 standing, UM's 28-1 championship odds (via Bovada) are tied for 10th best. Odds to advance from South Region are: Kanasas 10-11, Villanova 12-5, UM 6-1 and Maryland 13-2.

CUBA CELEBRATES WITH OBAMA, BASEBALL AND MICK ... BUT NOT EVERYONE CELEBRATES: The president of the United States is on the island, bringing the ultimate seal of approval for warming relations with Cuba. America's Pastime visits, too: The Tampa Bay Rays play ball against the Cuban National Team in Havana on Tuesday. Later this week Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones put on a free concert there. It's a feel-good story. But it doesn't feel good to everybody. Miami is the epicenter in America of where it doesn't feel good at all to lots of folks who think the Cubaobama Ladiesinwhitewarming U.S-Cuba relations in general -- and this week's festivities in particular -- lend credence to what continues as totalitarian regime rife with oppression and human rights violations. There will be much cheering and celebration in Cuba this week, and elsewhere as Cuba basks in a portrayal of progress. But the other side must have its voice. In Miami, those voices make a mighty choir -- especially among older Cuban exiles who have seen with their own eyes, who escaped, and whose memories won't let go of the pain. Meet Cuban-born Luisa Vega, 69, now of Hallandale, a retired court interpreter. Thousands all over South Florida share her views. "The first day [Barack Obama's visit] was announced I was doing a deposition with some lawyers and one asked if I should be happy. But it is so painful to me this is happening," she told me on Monday. "We came here because we were forced to flee. People of Cuba are oppressed. I wish before any steps [toward normalized relations] had been taken, something had been done about the dissidents, about freedom of movement. There's so many things wrong with the system. Havana has deteriorated to the point it is a slum. Cuba became a third-world country." I, like most non-Cubans, cannot feel these views viscerally. I see this week's events in Cuba positively; I see Obama's visit an an agent for continued needed change. My own father grew up hating the Japanese because of Pearl Harbor but we move on. Germany once meant Hitler; now U.S.-German relations are good. For me, improved relations with Cuba are a good thing. But, again, the pain others still feel is not my own. Luisa Vegas fled Cuba three days before she turned 14. "It was so hellish I don't think I was ever young," she said. Her grandmother was incarcerated "just because we left." He future husband was taken at 17, and held for two weeks. Luisa remembers sleeping outside the original U.S. Embassy in Havana with a group of freedom-seekers and being screamed at by government-organized mobs. She saw militia storm her home and take away an uncle. Her story is shared by many in Miami. Today, there has been some progress in Cuba in the transition from Fidel Castro to younger brother Raul. By most indications, gays on the island have it somewhat better, as an example. Still, ask the Ladies in White, the group that protests for civil and human rights, if enough progress has been made. Dozens more of them were arrested (pictured right) in advance of Obama's visit. The watchdog group Human Rights Watch begins in 2015 report on Cuba thusly: "The government continues to rely on arbitrary detention to harass and intimidate individuals who exercise their fundamental rights." That, and the words and pain of Luisa Vega, bear never forgetting amid all the cheering in Cuba this week.

JOSE NOT OPENING DAY STARTER = MARLINS BEING MARLINS: Your ace starts on Opening Day, period. Particularly when your starting rotation includes one ace, a jack and three 4's. But the Joserules are never quite standard when it comes to the Miami Marlins, and so it should not have surprised Sunday when the Fish announced that recently acquired Wei-Yin Chen (the jack) would be the O.D. starter on April 5 instead, with Jose on the mound for next day. Hmm. The explantation: That the switch would set up to give Fernandez more rest thorughout the season. The likely real reason: Openers sell out, followed by a severe drop in attendance for Game 2 (at least here). So save Jose to stem the decline and increase the next-date gate. This is sooo Marlins. They can't even get Opening Day right. Jose says (publicly) he is on board with this, but you know he's disappointed. Marlins fans should be, too.

BikiniserenaSERENA PREPARES FOR MIAMI OPEN TENNIS: Defending Miami Open champion Serena Williams has been preparing for the rigors of the two-week tournament that begins this week on Key Biscayne. Pictured, is hard at work taking a bikini selfie on Snapchat. On beach or on court, Serena seldom is not looking good, or shy to show it. Still in her tennis prime at 34. A true wonder.

NCAA BRACKETEERING UPDATE: Sunday--I went 5-3 on my teams advancing in men's NCAA Tournament games. Overall--I'm 35-13 thus far, with 12 teams still alive in the Sweet 16. Cinderella Meter--33.3% (16 of 48 games have been by-seed upsets so far). Today--Madness is off until Thursday.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 21, 2016

Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Angelic Canes, Heat, Cats, tennis, Fins and Fish lead the way; plus our NCAA bracket (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MARCH 21. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Super Sports Saturday, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner, my NCAA bracket, Cote advances in media bracket, your who'll-win verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

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 BASKETBALL: Sweet! UM men beat Wichita State, reach the 16: Miami Hurricanes men beat Wichita State 65-57 Saturday to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, led by Angel Rodriguez's 28 points. "Heaven-sent Angel lifts Miami" -- too perfect. Canes will next face Sunday-winner Villanova on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. So your bracket is in ruins, but at least the Canes are winning.

2. HEAT: Miami routs Cavaliers, humbles LeBron to stay in hunt for third place: LeBron James now is 0-3 in Miami since leaving after the Heat's 122-101 rout of Cleveland on Saturday. LeBron returning to Miami is still a big deal, sort of. But here’s a bigger deal: The Heat is in a four-team scramble to finish third in the East and avoid seeing LeBron again until the conference finals.

3. PANTHERS: Cats stay in NHL division despite Spacey loss to Red Wings: Florida has clawed back up into the division lead despite Saturday's 5-3 home loss to Detroit. The game featured a visit by actor Kevin Spacey, who inspires the “Spacey in Space” sweatshirts that inexplicably are part of the mojo of this Cats season. The sweatshirts bring luck, although apparently Spacey himself doesn't.

4. TENNIS: Federer, Serena in spotlight as Miami Open tennis sets to launch: Perennial favorite Serena Williams, defending champ Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer’s return from knee surgery top the marquee for Miami Open tennis, which begins its annual two-week run on Key Biscayne this Tuesday. Event’s future is in some doubt, so treat the present like a gift.

5. DOLPHINS: Mixed results, disappointments continue team’s free agency run: Bumper sticker: Honk If You’ve Left the Dolphins Facility Without Signing a Contract. Running backs C.J. Anderson and Chris Johnson were the latest to do so as Miami’s first week-plus of free agency resulted in much activity but little discernible improvement.

6. BASEBALL: MLB visit to Cuba, LaRoche saga steal the headlines: Adam LaRoche of the Chicago White Sox abruptly retires after team tells him his 14-year-old son shouldn't be in the clubhouse so much. This Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays play the Cuban National Team in Havana. Man, baseball will do anything for attention, won't it!?

7. MARLINS: Shenanigans with the Opening Day starter: Barry Bonds, 51, out-homered Giancarlo Stanton in a friendly hitting drill. But the big news out of Marlins spring training was the team not naming ace Jose Fernandez its Opening Day starter on April 5. Ostensibly it's to give him more rest but more like it's that, with a big crowd guaranteed for the opener, the club wants to deploy Jose to help boost the gate for Game 2. Gawd, that is soooo Marlins.

8. UM/WOMEN'S NCAA: Canes make a quick exit: The Madness started and ended quickly for coach Katie Meier's women Canes, with Saturday's 74-71 upset loss to South Dakota State in their NCAA Tournament opener. Humbling: Losing your opener. Insult to injury: Losing to team nicknamed Jackrabbits.

9. NFL: Boca Raton hosts league meetings: A league executive, Jeff Miller, became first NFL official to acknowledge a direct link between football-related head trauma and brain disease. Meanwhile the NFL owners meetings are Sunday through Wednesday in Boca. Haven't seen the complete agenda but I understand the main order of business is a resolution to make Jeff Miller quit speaking.

10. UM FOOTBALL: Canes open first spring practices under Richt: The Hurricanes began spring practice with enthusiasm and praise for Mark Richt. Shocking! It was the 89,403rd consecutive time in the history of football that players praised their new head coach after his first practice. 

Missing the cut: R.I.P., Tray Walker ... Barry men reach Elite Eight in Division II. Good job, Barry ... Its Miami FC in its inaugural NASL game next Saturday at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. A natural rivalry is born! ... So a jury awards Hulk Hogan $115 million because Gawker published his sex tape -- more than double what Erin Andrews received. Pays to be a cartoon character, I guess ... This just in. Looking to place people where no one will find them, the federal witness protection program has now begun hiding people in the NIT tournament ... Gall, redefined: FIFA wants back its bribe money confiscated by the U.S. government. No, seriously ... Answer: Ultra Music Festival. Question: "Where do 99.9 percent of South Floridians want to be nowhere near this weekend?" ... Barack Obama's presidential bracket had Kansas winning the men's NCAA Tournament. Republicans demanding equal time berated Kansas as overrated ... Without being able to  vent on Twitter anymore, what's Miko Grimes doing, kicking the family dog? ... IndyCar season is underway. Wake me for the Indianapolis 500 ... The Colts are building a statue of Peyton Manning. You know who else should? The city of "Omaha!" ... What's poor FIU gotta do to get another mention here? Any more scandals on deck?

NCAA BRACKETEERING UPDATE: Sunday--I went 5-3 on my teams advancing in men's NCAA Tournament games. Overall--I'm 35-13 thus far. Cinderella Meter--33.3% (16 of 48 games have been by-seed upsets so far). Today--Madness is off until Thursday.

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

Twitter @gregcote