March 19, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins mighty battle for No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Match Madness update: My bracket still strong after Bloody Sunday and our Haiku Challenge winner; also, my newest column (Dolphins) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 19. Hope ya'll had a fun and safe St. Patrick's Day weekend! 2) Pleased to meet so many of you recently at the LeBatard Show event at J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood. Great place, great time, great people. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My NCAA Bracket updates, March Madness Haiku Challenge, The List (UM hoops), new Back In My Day video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HaikuWE HAVE A MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE WINNER!: Our blog's 13th annual Haiku Challenge drew a robust 128 entries this year, of which 80 qualified for consideration as proper haikus (17 syllables) and on topic. Our winning entry was from Michael DeFerrari. His haiku: "Winning a bracket / justifies my existence / picks don't fail me now." Judges appreciated the classic 5-7-5 structure, liked the simplicity and allusion to the disproportionate importance placed on winning, and were smitten by the apparent nod to the 1979 Herbie Hancock album and subsequent colloquialism, "Feets don't fail me now." (Michael, email me at gregcote@miamiherald.com and we'll work out a prize). Appreciation as well to honorable mention haikus from Jay Krupa, Trevor @trashmanT, Harrison Gillming, Marshall Aldrich, Garrick Piche, Rob Frye and Ryan Rodenhauser. Thanks to all who played! Haiku!

Latest column: On Dolphins scrambling to make up losses: This has been a rough offseason and free agency for the Miami Dolphins, led by the departures of much starpower in Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry and Mike Pouncey. In my newest column, I pose the three questions that measure the state of the Dolphins. You might not like answers. To read, click Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

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. HURRICANES / MARCH MADNESS: Miami one and done as Sweet on deck: Your bracket busted yet? Chances are Bloody Sunday did it, with five upsets in eight games. Hurricanes men got bounced in their opener by Loyola-Chicago and UM women were ousted quick by Quinnipiac. The Madness pauses a few days now before resuming Thursday with the Sweet 16. Kansas and Villanova are the only No. 1s left, with Loyola and Syracuse (a play-in team) the double-digit-seed survivors in the Glass Slipper Division.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins busy as NFL free agency underway: Ndamukong Suh followed Jarvis Landry out the door, but Miami bagged two receivers in veteran Danny Amendola (from the Patriots) and young, fleet Albert Wilson. Fins are now talking about signing running back DeMarco Murray. Hmm, like defensive end Robert Quinn, whom they traded for, I'd be more excited about Miami getting Murray if this was, like, 2014. 

3. PANTHERS: Cats hit road as playoff fight intensifies: After Saturday's loss to Edmonton the Cats stand ninth in the jockeying for eight East playoff spots, now five points off pace but with three games in hand. Florida now plays seven of its next eight games on the road in a closing stretch that will likely determine whether the Stanley Cup playoffs invite South Florida or not.

4. HEAT: Miami sits pretty for playoffs, but can they climb?: Heat is a virtual lock to make NBA playoffs with a dozen games left. Only question is whether Miami can climb from 8th place for a more advantageous first-round draw. Fourth place and home-court advantage is only three games away, but it'd take a strong finishing kick starting Monday vs. Denver. 

5. TENNIS: Serena back as Miami Open begins: Not tired of brackets yet, are ya? The women's draw was Sunday and the men's is Monday as the Miami Open gets underway in its final iteration on Key Biscayne before (unfortunately) moving to Hard Rock Stadium in 2019. Simona Halep was seeded No.  1 but the big intrigue on the women's side will be how wild-card entry Serena Williams performs (starting Wednesday) in her first major tournament since maternity leave.

6. MARLINS: Fish say they want to hear from fans: Two-thirds through spring training the Marlins are a surprisingly decent 12-8-2 after Sunday's loss to the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton. Meanwhile, the club has started a "Dimelo Miami" gimmick, dimelo being Spanish for tell me. They want to hear from fans. Uh oh. Be careful what you wish for, Fire-Sale Fish.

7. UM FOOTBALL: Richt's Canes to open spring practice: Mark Richt's Hurricanes aim to restart the momentum when spring practice begins this Tuesday after last year's break-through 10-3 season that included ACC Championship Game and Orange Bowl appearances. Atop the spring watch list: In a quarterback competition flung wide open, Will Malik Rosier reaffirm himself as the starter?

8. SOCCER: Peru-Croatia in Miami for tuneup: I know a lot of Peruvians live in Miami. Not sure if we have a "Little Zagreb" section of town or not. Anyway, plenty of futbol fans will turn out this coming Friday night at The Rock for a World Cup tuneup friendly match. U.S. men sadly didn't qualify, so we take what we can get.

9. CANES BASEBALL: UM avoids being swept at Duke: Hurricanes beat Duke in Durham Sunday, 8-2, to avoid being swept by their ACC rival. Still been an uphill climb overall, though, for Miami, now 9-10, in Jim Morris' final season. If this is a team capable of reaching the College World Series, tick tock fellas, time to start showing it.

10. HORSE RACING: Florida Derby looms into view: Less than two weeks until the March 31 Florida Derby at Gulfstream, one of the last major prep races before the Kentucky Derby opens Triple Crown season. Still waiting for a superhorse and betting darling to emerge and capture imaginations. Maybe Hallandale Beach will be the stage?

Missing the HB10 cut: Once again the NIT is happening, and nobody is really sure why.

Mm ViitaleUPDATED. MY NCAA BRACKET: STILL REALLY SOLID, EVEN AFTER BLOODY SUNDAY
:
 We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and -- hard to believe -- even afgter Bloody Sunday, I stand tied for second place overall. And the leader's championship pick is, while mine (Villanova) is not, so I'm still well in this thing entering the Sweet 16:

Next / Sweet 16 -- After a three-day pause the Madness turns Sweet beginning Thursday. Kansas and Villanova are the only No. 1s left. With UMBC ousted, the designated Cinderellas left are 11-seeds Loyola-Chicago (which slayed Miami) and Syracuse, the latter off a play-in game. 

Day 4 / Round of 32 -- Correct on only three of eight games (37.5%) on a Bloody Sunday in which Cinderella went nuts. There were five by-seed upsets, including No. 1 Xavier falling to Florida State. Alas, one of the games that went according to form saw the UMBC fairy tale end. For the tournament as a whole I have been correct on 36 of 48 games, or 75%. (Updated: More than half of all in my pool, 68 of 131, already have seen their title-pick eliminated, led by Virginia with 22, North Carolina 16, Arizona 11 and Michigan State 10).

Day 3 / Round of 32 -- Correct on seven of eight games (87.5%), another big day, missing only on Loyola's upset of Tennessee. For the tournament overall I have been correct on 33 of 40 games, or 82.5%.

Day 2 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 12 of 16 games (75%), a dip from Day 1 but still not bad. Went two out of three on by-seed upsets, nailing No. 9 Kansas State over No. 8 Creighton and 9-Florida State over 8-Missouri, but missing on 10-Providence over 7-Texas A&M. Our other misses: Like all of you, I didn't see No. 1 Virginia losing in a stunner. Also missed on losses by Arkansas and Wichita State. Overall, survived the Round of 64 with 26 teams still alive, or 81.3%. 

Day 1 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 14 of 16 games (87.5%). Very pleased. That includes two out of three on by-seed upset picks. I was right on No. 11-Loyola over No. 6-Miami (sorry, Canes fans) and 9-Alabama over 8-Virginia Tech. This just didn't feel like the March for Miami to make a run, as I wrote in this column. The upset misfire was 10-Oklahoma over 7-Rhode Island. Our only other miss: 13-Buffalo's bracket-busting stunner over 4-Arizona.

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Can Hurricanes Answer The Doubters? / Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? / Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season / Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History / As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Fins Must Find Their Future / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 17, 2018

March Madness Update: My bracket's still solid, oh Virginia, no-Cinderella Saturday and Haiku Challenge contest news; plus brutal honesty on Dolphins (new column), UM women ousted, latest Back In My Day video & more

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

Stpatricks1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 17. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Stay safe out there. It's one of those holidays when all of the amateur drunks come out of the woodwork to join we more experienced imbibers. 2) Pleased to meet so man of you Thursday at the LeBatard Show event at J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood. Great place, great time, great people. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Haiku Challenge advisory & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

"It was 8th-seed Miami Hurricanes women (21-10) vs. 9th-seed Quinnipiac (27-5) today in Storrs, Conn., to see if UM's better half was just that and could do what the UM men failed to: Advance. Um, they couldn't. Out, 86-72." -- Confucious, 484 BC

New column: On Dolphins scrambling to make up losses: This has been a rough offseason and free agency for the Miami Dolphins, led by the departures of much starpower in Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry and Mike Pouncey. In my newest column, I pose the three questions that measure the state of the Dolphins. You might not like answers. to read, click Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

BracketUPDATED. MY NCAA BRACKET: SOLID FRIDAY FOR US, NOW CINDERELLA CAN TAKE SATURDAY OFF, PLEASE: We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I stand tied for seventh place through the Round of 64 and entering Saturday play. And in case you wondered, Virginia was the championship pick of 22 in the pool, or 16.8%. Ouch. Not me, luckily. I have Villanova net-cutting.

Day 3 / Round of 32 -- Cinderella can take Saturday off, please. My bracket is alive in all eight games and needs all eight by-seed favorites to win, including Gonzaga over Ohio State and Texas Tech over Florida in what look to me to be today's tightest matchups.

Day 2 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 12 of 16 games (75%), a dip from Day 1 but still not bad. Went two out of three again on by-seed upsets, nailing No. 9 Kansas State over No. 8 Creighton and 9-Florida State over 8-Missouri, but missing on 10-Providence over 7-Texas A&M. Our other misses: Like all of you, I didn't see No. 1 Virginia losing in a mega-stunner. Also missed on losses by Arkansas and Wichita State. Overall, survived the Round of 64 with 26 of 32 teams still alive, or 81.3%. 

Day 1 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 14 of 16 games (87.5%). Very pleased. That includes two out of three on by-seed upset picks. I was right on No. 11-Loyola over No. 6-Miami (sorry, Canes fans) and 9-Alabama over 8-Virginia Tech. This just didn't feel like the March for Miami to make a run, as I wrote in this column. The upset misfire was 10-Oklahoma over 7-Rhode Island. Our only other miss: 13-Buffalo's bracket-busting stunner over 4-Arizona. 
Haiku

ENTRIES NOW CLOSED ON OUR 13TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!: UPDATE: We had 128 haiku entries in four days (not bad), of which 80 qualified for consideration. The rest were either not 17 syllables, not on topic, didn't make the deadline or, in two hilarious instances, were obscene. We'll reveal our finalists and Grand Champion Haiku in a new blogpost here on Sunday. Thanks to all who played along! ..... Original post: We have done the Haiku Challenge for as long as we've had this blog and it is back for tradition's sake and by unpopular demand. Actually we had a record number of entries last year, so let's see if we'll raise the bar even higher. I know many of you Vitaleare intimidated by this contest, or simply do not agree that nothing captures America's mania over the NCAA Tournament and bracketeering like ancient Japanese short-form poetry. I do not do this for the masses, but for the select few creative minds and poets among you. Think of it like a restaurant that offers liver. They know very few like it, but they know the few who do love it. You may know that a haiku is a 17-syllable poem ideally but not necessarily in 5-7-5 structure. Rhyming? Fine, but also not necessary. Here's an example of a standard 5-7-5 haiku: "An ocean voyage / As waves break over the bow / the sea welcomes me." Got it ? Now apply that to March Madness.

Three simple but firm rules: 1. Your poem had to be 17 total syllables exactly and must in some have been about the NCAA Tournament, March Madness or college basketball. 2You could submit entries ONLY one of these two ways: Via email to gcote@miamiherald.com with Haiku in the subject line, or via Twitter @gregcote with the hashtag #Haiku. 3. Entries were accepted starting Tuesday through noon today/Friday, March 16.

Grand prize? I dunno, maybe a Dolphins media guide or something equally crappy? We'll figure something out. But don't do it for the prize, as I said. Do it for the glory and empowering feeling of Zen.

THE LIST: MIAMI HURRICANES BASKETBALL IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: UM men's basketball is in the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time since first making it in 1960, and the Canes women are in it for the 13th time since their first appearance in 1989. Seasons when both Miami teams made the NCAAs the same year:

Year     UM men's results                                       UM women's results

1998     Lost to UCLA                                                Lost to Clemson

2013     Beat Illinois, lost to Marquette                Lost to Iowa

2016     Beat Wichita State, lost to Villanova     Lost to South Dakota State

2017     Lost to Michigan State                              Beat Florida Gulf Coast, lost to Quinnipiac

2018     Lost to Loyola-Chicago                               Lost to Quinnipiac

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': MUSIC CONSUMPTION!: Here's the latest BIMD video, which debuted on yesterday's LeBatard Show. Key reference: Oddjob from Goldfinger. Bonus: Shirley Bassey. Enjoy:

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Can Hurricanes Answer The Doubters? / Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? / Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season / Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History / As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Fins Must Find Their Future / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night, Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 12, 2018

Why do damned Dolphins keep giving away their best players!? New column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), can March Madness save the season, Haiku Challenge update & more

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

Gang1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 12. I was pleased to meet so many fans at Saturday night's LeBatard Brothers 'Mas Miami' event at Blackbird Ordinary. Lots of fun, as suggested by the photo at right, in which I am surrounded by Dan LeBatard, his artist brother Dave (Lebo), Zoo Miami's Ron Magill and a lovely, photobombing fan of the show. Y'all are the best. Click on image to see enlarged version. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your verdict on Landry trade, Thrilling Thursday in SoFla sports, intimate portrait of Ichiro & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Why do the damned Dolphins keep giving away their best players?: First Ajayi, then Landry, now Suh. The Dolphins curiously keep parting with their best players. I explore in my newest column. To read, click Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? Also, the ongoing FBI probe into corruption has scandalized this men's college basketball season and shadowed dozens of schools, Miami included. That is why Selection Sunday arrived as medicine for the sport. For that column, click Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season.

HaikuMarch Madness Haiku Challenge advisory!: Our blog's 13th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge is ready to unveil, because other than peanut butter and jelly what goes together better than American college basketball and Japanese short-form poetry! We'll unveil entry details and rules right here on Tuesday morning, so prepare to get creative in 17 syllables for your chance at a (not so) fabulous prize!

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:

Hot1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Selection Sunday sets NCAA bracket: Gentlemen (and ladies), start your brackets! Selection Sunday set the field for the men's NCAA Tournament, with the women's field coming Monday. Villanova is the early betting favorite to win it all, followed by Duke and Virginia. The onset of March Madness means you'll spend the next three weeks pretending to work while sneaking peeks at your smartphone for scores and at your bracket for holes. Do like me. Assume your bracket will suck. It makes the eventual disappointment easier to take.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins trade Landry for not much in return: Jay Ajayi, now this. Dolphins keep giving away talent as if talent weren't the whole point. Miami is trading productive but soon-to-be-pricey slot receiver Jarvis Landry, arguably its most popular player, to the Browns in exchange for fourth- and seventh-round draft picks. If this trade were a football score, I think Cleveland just beat the Dolphins around 31-13. 

3. HURRICANES: UM men get No. 6 seed, face Loyola: Canes men were a cinch for selection to the NCAA Tournament, but hardly made their case for a high seed in a one-and-done ACC Tournament performance and lopsided loss to North Carolina. The UM women did better in the ACCs (1-1) and also are sure to make the NCAAs. Question is whether either Miami team can win a couple of games from here and make it interesting. UM men open Thursday vs. Loyola-Chicago in Dallas and are scant 1- to 3-point favorites.

4. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! Hot Cats skating toward playoffs: The crazy-hot Panthers' 4-3 OT win over the Rangers Saturday night marked Florida's franchise-record eighth straight home win and 15th in the past 19 games overall. Cats still are two points off playoff pace but with three games in hand. Bottle the team we've seen the past five or six weeks and this would be a Stanley Cup contender. 

5. HEAT: Can Miami climb to fourth in East?: The deep-bench Heat put eight men in double figures in walloping Washington 129-102 at home Saturday night for a second straight win. Miami remains in seventh place in the East but is only 2 1/2 games from fourth with 15 games to go in regular season. Team has been erratic but finds ways to keep you believing. Meanwhile Dwyane Wade visited Stoneman Douglas High and gotten behind the gun-control fight. Could Miami love this guy any more? 

6. GOLF: Tiger finishes second as comeback accelerates: Tiger Woods finished second Sunday, one shot back, in the PGA Tour stop at Valspar. There's been much debate whether we should regard Tiger as all-the-way "back." Coming close here was a big step. A great Masters in April would be bigger.

7. MARLINS: Booo! Stanton no-show for Marlins-Yankees: Fish are a solid 10-5-1 at the midsection of spring training -- surprising, considering low expectations for the team. (In fact MLB players union boss Tony Clark blasted the club this week for breaking apart a competitive team. Hallelujah. Yes they did!) Marlins beat Yankees 7-5 Sunday but Giancarlo Stanton did not make the trip to Jupiter. Not cool, Mike. Not cool.

8. CANES BASEBALL: Signs of life as ACC play begins: UM still is only 7-8 overall in Jim Morris' final season but showed signs of life by taking two out of three over Notre Dame in Canes' start of ACC play, missing out on a sweep in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader.

9. TENNIS: Miami Open begins next week: The final Miami Open on Key Biscayne (before moving to Hard Rock Stadium) begins next week, running March 19-April 1. Rafael Nadal dropping out was a big blow but otherwise the men and women's field is strong, and includes fan favorite Serena Williams' return from maternity. Serena is so good, you get the feeling she could win the tournament even if she played while nursing.

10. UM FOOTBALL: Richt preparing for spring practice: UM spring practice opens next week, March 20, and all eyes will be on the quarterback position as incumbent Malik Rosier attempts to fend off the competition and keep his job. If the battle is that close, though, chances are the fight will seep into fall.

Missing the HB10 cut: Giants star receiver Odell Beckham could be in trouble after a leaked video showing him in bed with a woman and with lines of white powdery substance visible. Who's he think he is, a Dolphins offensive line coach!?

OUR MOST RECENT COLUMNS:  Our columns from the past week: Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History  /  As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests  /  Don't Shut Up, Get Louder  /  Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  /  With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing  /  Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade  /  Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 05, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A new No. 1 not used to being there, and see what else falls where; plus our APSE-winning columns, Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 5. Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures for 2018, thank you APSE & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Ranking Miami's 2018 Top 25 Sports Figures: I last did one of these in late 2015 and man has a lot changed around here in two-plus years. Does Dwyane Wade hang on to No. 1? Where do newcomers Derek Jeter and David Beckham land? Who's the top Dolphin? You're a click away from those answers and more. For the column and full list, click Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

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:

Hot1. PANTHERS: Six straight! Cats surging toward playoff pace: The HB10 doesn't often smile this much on the Panthers, but they've been as good as any team in NHL the past five weeks, winning 13 of the past 16 games including six straight after Sunday's 4-1 win over Philly in a home matinee. Florida is today one only one point off playoff pace but with three games in hand. Cats failed to make a trade-deadline deal, but apparently no help is needed, thanks.

2. HURRICANES: UM men open ACC tourney; women out: Jim Larranaga's Cardiac Canes ended regular season with four straight wins by three points or less to finish 22-8 entering the men's ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. UM opens Thursday night vs. winner of North Carolina  vs. Syracuse or Wake Forest. Meanwhile Katie Meier's Canes women followed a 20-9 season with a 1-1 ACC run, beating Wake Forest then being eliminated by Florida State. Both UM teams should get an NCAA Tournament invite, the men more assuredly.

3. DOLPHINS: Combine, Landry, Quinn fill busy week: With top receiver Jarvis Landry hot on the trading block, Miami dealt a 4th-round draft pick to the Rams for starting-caliber defensive end Robert Quinn. Meantime the NFL Scouting Combine in Indy wrapped up this weekend with coach Adam Gase giving incumbent QB Ryan Tannehill a strong vote of confidence ... and Dolfans left to wonder if that's a good thing.

4. HEAT: Miami gets lift from homestand: Miami hardly seemed a playoff team in that defenseless 131-113 home loss to the Lakers but is 3-1 on this homestand. As Heat hosted its annual Family Fest for fans on Sunday, team had lost nine of its past 12 before beating Detroit here Saturday -- the team chasing Miami for that eighth and last East playoff spot. Heat is erratic but it appears depth will earn a postseason ticket.

5. MARLINS: Hot spring so far for Fish: Little is expected this season of the Fire-Sale Fish, but they're 6-3-1 this spring entering Monday. I know. It's meaningless. A mirage. A dream. Still, um, can we start the playoffs right now!? 

6. HORSE RACING: Big upset in Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream:  Quite a spring for the Hallandale Beach track. The Pegasus World Cup just ran and the Florida Derby is coming; now, Sunday brought the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race highlighted by 7-5 betting pick Good Magic. Alas, 18-1 longshot Promises Fulfilled led wire to wire to cast the Derby picture into unfocused confusion.

7. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Six days 'til Selection Sunday: Brackets ready? March Madness will be upon us in six days, after this week's conference tournament results dole out automatic bids and let the bubble teams make their case.

8. ALY RAISMAN: Olympic gymnast sues over Nassar scandal: Gold-medalist Aly Raisman is suing the U.S. Olympics Committee and USA Gymnastics over the Dr. Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. Right on! This will settle, because there's no way those two shamed groups will want to endure further shame in open court. 

9. SOCCER: MLS in Miami, yes, but where still in doubt: Major League Soccer's 23rd season began this week. Miami will have an expansion team in the 25th. But where will team's permanent home be? Overtown as assumed? A larger site in Doral? Somewhere else? If David Beckham doesn't even know, we sure can't.

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes face rival FIU, begin ACC play this week: Slow-starting UM is 5-6 after two straight wins, but the season gets interesting starting this week. Wednesday the Canes visit rival FIU, then host Notre Dame in a series launching the ACC schedule. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Well, [bleep], I made the national Top 10 in column writing from the Associated Press Sports Editors this week, a pretty big deal in the sports journalism biz, and if Greg Cote can't brag in his own damned blog, where can he  brag!? ..... When do the Winter Olympics start? In South Korea, right? ..... Jerry Jones vs. Roger Goodell. Any way they can both lose? ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "New manager Dave Martinez had a trio of camels brought to Nationals spring training to help players get over franchise playoff hump" ..... And another: "J.R. Smith threw soup at a Cavaliers assistant coach." What a terrible waste of soup! ..... Keep doing what you're doing, Stoneman Douglas survivors and other students. Show us the way. The world is watching.

ICYMI: OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: These were the five submitted 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors:

March 1: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing.

April 22: Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose.

May 15: NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering.

July 24: What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer.

October 1: With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional recent columns: For One Night: Magic City  /  Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking? And our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing. Also: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Others: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameThe Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 26, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Tiger caught in Bear Trap. See if that landed on top and what else falls where; plus Frank Caliendo & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26. Saw Frank Caliendo perform Saturday night. His Trump is spot-on, as you'd expect. Most all of his impersonations are great, but my favorite by far continues to be his John Madden. 2) The Dolfans in your life don't know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger still best show in golf, Panthers embrace Stoneman Douglas, incongruous buoyancy as Marlins open spring training, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Tiger, Marlins, Stoneman Douglas: Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed, on Woods playing the Honda. Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season and Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking?, as team opens spring training. And MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing, on the Stoneman Douglas tragedy.

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:

Hot1. GOLF: Thomas wins Honda as Bear Trap gets Tiger: Justin Thomas beat Luke List in the first hole of a low-watt playoff Sunday to win the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, but nobody cares except Mrs. Thomas. Fans were out there wondering if Tiger Woods could mount a final-round rally as his comeback continued in his first South Florida appearance since 2014. Alas, the Bear Trap (15th, 16th and 17th holes) trapped Tiger, who finished 12th at even par.

2. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Shock and pain still raw 12 days later:  Major companies are now disassociating from the N.R.A. over its support for assault weapons, and sports continues to lend support. Panthers showed a tribute video before Friday night's home game and Marlins wore 'SD' caps, while golfers at the Honda are wearing 'MSD" ribbons on their caps. Meanwhile, the Douglas kids lead the fight for change as the leaders balk.

3. OLYMPICS: U.S. 4th in medals as Winter Games wrap up: Norway dominated the medal count while the U.S. finished fourth in both total medals (23) and golds (9) at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. The host nation and enemy North Korea made peace for the Winter Games in a gesture of hope. Now North Korea may lapse back into its accustomed role as the crackpot nation led by a megalomaniac.

4. HEAT: Slumping Miami looking for home lift: Heat have lost eight of past 10 even with Saturday night's win over Memphis, but that began a stretch of seven games at home of the next eight as they hope to rise from eighth place in the East. This Thursday marks a visit by the Los Angeles Lakers. Remember, items you prohibited from being brought into the arena include coolers, laser lights, noisemakers and LaVar Ball. 

5. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as playoffs loom within reach: Florida has won two games in a row and nine of the past 12 and is now within five points of NHL playoff pace. And the streak comes as the Panthers have begun a stretch of 11 of the next 12 games being at home. Now or never, Cats.     

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women wrap up regular seasons: The 20-8 UM men finish Tuesday at No. 10 North Carolina and then next Saturday at home vs. Virginia Tech, while the 20-9 women ended Sunday at home with a 76-46 rout of Va-Tech. Both Miami teams should get an NCAA Tournament invite, also strong showings in the ACC Tournament would erase any doubt. Jim Larranaga's guys especially are trying to catch back up to expectations, after once being 10-0 and ranked No. 6. 

7. MARLINS: Post-fire sale, Fish begin spring training 2-0: Miami is widely expected to be among the worst teams in baseball but has began spring training with consecutive wins before finally losing Sunday to the Mets. "We're 2-1! See, I told you we'd be much better than everybody thought!" said absolutely no one.

8. JONATHAN MARTIN: Ex-Dolphin detained for threatening post: The saga of the Dolphins' Bullygate star gets weirder and weirder. The ex-Dolphin Martin was detained by Los Angeles  police and held in a mental health facility after a threatening post on social media depicted a gun, named accused bullies Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, and included the ominous message: "When you're a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge." Get this man some help. Please?

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Yahoo report offers details on FBI probe: The FBI probe of a recruiting sacndal in college basketball has overshadowed the season, now a Yahoo Sports report names more than 20 schools and 25 players involved. Miami Hurricanes are not implicated but current Heat player Bam Adebayo is named. It is a very serious report, or at least as serious as anything can be coming from a media outlet that calls itself Yahoo!

10. DOLPHINS: NFL Scouting Combine next step in draft prep: The Dolphins and every other team will avidly attend the five-day Scouting Combine starting this Wednesday in Indianapolis, a major step in teams' preparations for the April NFL Draft. I'd have the Combine ranked much higher in this week's HB10 but I just cannot muster all that much anticipation or excitement for watching a bunch of fat offensive linemen being timed in the 40-yard dash.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes baseball had lost four straight since a 2-0 start to season but Sunday beat nemesis Florida to avoid being swept at home. Way early, but Jim Morris' final season has begun closer to a nightmare than a dream ..... U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu, who became first American woman to nail a triple axel at the Olympics, revealed to Cosmopolitan.com that she competed while on her period. "It’s really not that big of a deal," she said. "You just stick a tampon up there." Oy! G'night, everybody!"

Select other recent columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 19, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.9%; plus Fins' 24-16 loss to Bills kills all playoff hope; also, the latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your grade on Derek Jeter (ouch!) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 18. ICYMI, click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It for my column on the Marlins trading their best player to the Yankees. 2) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games. 3) Holiday shopping? Giving all the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Judging Derek Jeter poll, NFL Week 15 picks & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 6.9%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 6.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 24-16 Dolphins loss at the Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 6-8. That's a drop off more than 70% from the previous week. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 game-by-game DSM results
 
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
 
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
 
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
 
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
 
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
 
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
 
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
 
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
 
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
 
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
 
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
 
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
 
G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)
 
G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)
 
Next poll: Dec. 24 (following game at Kansas City)
 
G14: DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO: TO KEEP (FAINT) PLAYOFF HOPE ALIVE, OR WATCH IT DIEPostgame thoughts: Remember how good the Miami Dolphins were on Monday night? They were mostly that bad six days later. Remember how great quarterback Jay Cutler was against the Patriots. It was Bad Jay who made the trip to Buffalo. The Dolphins lost to the Bills, 24-16, on Sunday. It felt worse. Seemed worse as Miami never led, fell to 6-8 and watched its already faint playoff hopes fade to black. I didn't trust the Dolphins to replicate last week's fire displayed in the upset of New England, and with reason. And inconsistency has been the stamp on Cutler's career. Did you think that was going to change for the better when Miami hauled him out of retirement? The game ended fittingly, with Miami recovering an onside kick in the final minute ... followed immediately by Cutler's third interceptions. A year ago the Dolphins had seemed to lay claim to the consolation prize of at least being second-best in the AFC East to the eternally superior Patriots. For now Miami has slipped to third behind the Bills, too. By the way, good to hear a female voice, that of Beth Mowins, doing play-by-play on the CBS broadcast of the game. Women have made great strides on-air broadcasting sports as studio hosts and sideline reporters, but less so in the booth calling the actual game. Another barrier dissolving by degrees. P.S., Mowins had a better game than the Dolphins did ..... Halftime thoughts: With Bills leading Dolphins 21-6 at the half, Buffalo is turning red-zone opportunities into touchdown while Miami settles for field goals. Sound familiar? Been the story most of this season, although less so lately for Fins. Bills lead in total yards 245-156 and Tyrod Taylor is on pace for 330 yards passing and is outplaying Jay Cutler. Dolphins are playing to stay alive in playoff hunt but not showing the intensity or fire to indicate that. I expected a dropoff from what we saw vs. Pats Monday bight, and am seeing that so far .....  Original post: The Dolphins Bandwagon, formerly bereft of passengers, has begun to populate a bit since Monday night. It is hardly a jam-packed, rollicking party bus, don’t get me me wrong. Playoff hope remains slim, but at least the Maybe Meter wiggles a little. I wish I could tell you I’m Miabufhopping on that Bandwagon (there’s still plenty of good seats available), but I just cannot bring myself to count on the inconsistent and therefore unreliable Fins to replicate the extraordinary performance they mustered in beating the Patriots Monday night in Miami. Not sure that will travel well on a short week, especially to a place where the temperature will be in the low 30s and falling, and under an expected cloudy sky threatening snow. Game stayed off betting boards until Thursday, when it became obvious Buffs QB Tyrod Taylor would be good to go. RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) also should play. But Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) is iffy to play, and his absence would be a big break for Fins. These AFC East rivals will play twice in next three weeks, but it’s this game both sides must consider as must-win for any real playoff hope — and moreso 6-7 Miami than the 7-6 Buffs. I like Dolphins with the (3 1/2) points in a low-scoring game and give MIA a medium outright upset shot. But Fins have not been great on the road this year (2-4), and Buffs have been solid at home (5-2). Jay Cutler on Sunday will confront a much better pass defense than he saw from the Pats, so the key for Miami may be more good stuff from RB Kenyan Drake vs. a very average Bills run defense. Good teams keep stacking good performances on top of one another, but I don’t think Miami is there yet. As impressed (and surprised) as I was in the Dolphins Monday night, I think this will be a long flight home by a team out of playoff hope. My pick: Buffalo, 20-17. [Click Week 15 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/greg-cote/article189792549.html#storylink=cpy

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:

Hotbutton 1. MARLINS: Remember 10 weeks ago when we all loved Jeter?: Ah, the good old days! It was the month before last. Derek Jeter arrived as a knight on a white steed to save the Marlins and be everything for South Florida that Jeffrey Loria was not. Then the traded Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna in a flurry -- a murder-us row. Loria 2.0.

2. DOLPHINS: Loss in Buffalo crushes faint playoff hope: Patriots at Steelers and the return of Aaron Rodgers topped the NFL Week 15 marquee, but Dolphins at Bills Sunday loomed big in that the winner would see playoff hopes buoyed. But these weare the inconsistent, let-you-down Fins. Could they really replicate that Monday magic in chilly Buffalo? Nope.

3. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Unbeaten Canes, OB Classic in spotlight: No. 6-ranked Miami men stayed unbeaten Saturday with a 59-50 win at George Washington in UM's first of four straight road games, while in Sunrise the 19th-ranked Seminoles and No. 22 Gators headlined but both lost in the four-team Orange Bowl Classic. Canes have been ranked higher only once, in 2012-13.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FAU, FIU prepare for rare bowl games: Saturday began the glut of 41 bowl games. Hurricanes in the Orange is two weeks off, but the appetizers are being served. Lane Kiffin's FAU (Tuesday vs. Akron) and Butch Davis' FIU (Thursday vs. Temple) prepare for only the third bowl games in each school's 14-year history as FBS-level programs.

5. SOCCER: Beckham enlists help in Miami MLS bid: David Beckham fortified his ongoing and laborious bid to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to Miami by adding as ownerships partners Miami business titans Jorge and Jose Mas and a Japanese billionaire. So, yes, a Miami team that doesn't exist yet has better owners than the Marlins.

6. HEAT: Spoelstra surpasses Riley's wins mark: Erik Spoelstra tied and then passed Pat Riley for most coaching wins in franchise history with Friday's and Saturday's wins over Charlotte and the Clippers. Game also got Miami back up over .500. But is that what we're cheering now? Being around average? Wednesday's game at Boston will tell us about this Heat team's potential to make playoffs and do something in them.

7. PANTHERS: We keep waiting for a run, Cats. And waiting...: Florida is 12-21 now, having lost three straight and seven of past  nine after Sunday's defeat at expansion Las Vegas. People keep telling me the Panthers are playing better lately. I look at the NHL standings and the standings keep telling me, "Eh, not so much..."

8. POLITICS: NHL wife details Trump encounter: Stacia Robitaille, married to former NHL player Luc Robitaille, claims an uncomfortable situation with Donald Trump when once alone on a elevator with his at Madison Square Garden. "He was aggressive and told me I was coming home with him," she Tweeted. Lucky for Trump, he isn't in a job where that kind of sexual harassment might get him in trouble!

9. NBA: Knicks fans cheer Melo's return: Knicks fans (mostly) cheered Carmelo Anthony's first return in an Oklahoma City uniform after six-plus seasons in New York. There were boos, too, of course, because, well, they're Knicks fans.

10. YANKEES: Judge says 'can't wait' to play alongside Stanton: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are instant BFFs, I guess. Or at least until the games start and one gets jealous of the other and the bickering starts over who's playing DH too much and the media pressure builds.

Missing the HB10 cut: Pro Bowl voting has concluded. The Pro Bowl: The game no player really wants to play in and no fan wants to watch, but we all act like it's a big deal anyway ..... The Phillies signed Carlos Santana for $60 million. Does a baseball team really need a guitar player that badly?

POLL RESULT: WE ASKED YOU TO GRADE JETER AS NEW MARLINS OWNER, AND YOU SAID "F-YOU!": In wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, we asked, "What grade would you give Derek Jeter 10 weeks into his running the Marlins based on his performance so far and your expectations?" Ouch. A consensus of 64.3 percent gave him an "F," and another 17.1% graded him "D." After that It was 7.1% "C," 6.7% "B" and only 4.8% "A."

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 13, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 79.4%; plus Cutler, Miami stun New England 27-17; also, Radio Tuesday, Greg's Lobos news, latest Hot Button Top 10, Stanton trade poll (vote now) & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12. It's the holidays! Which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Stanton to Yankees with poll, my column on trade, your verdicts on Gordon trade/faith in Jeter & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My column on Marlins trading Stanton to Yankees: Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It.

Greg's Lobos Update!: Epic! EPIC! The Lobos got 24.6 points from Jarvis Landry last night to miraculously beat No. 1 seed Chris 120-117.4 in the first round of the LeBatard Show fantasy-league playoffs. Landry had The Heart of a Lobo -- the highest compliment that can be attributed to anyone. 

FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM DOLPHINS' ASTOUNDING, IMPRESSIVE WIN OVER PATRIOTS: Jay Cutler thoroughly outplayed Tom Brady and the Miami Dolphins mostly dominated the New England Patriots.

The preceding may be the most unlikely sentence ever written in the history of the English language.

Five takeaways from Miami's 27-20 Monday Night Football home victory over the Patriots:

1. Where have you guys been? Why is a Dolphins team capable of this kind of effort, this kind of night, still sitting at 6-7 and still an NFL playoff longshot even after this exhilarating triumph? Miami wore its throwback uniforms and gave us a throwback performance. We thought the Dolphins just weren’t very good. Maybe it's that they've just been grossly underperforming.

2. Cutler finished with three TD passes and a 112.1 passer rating to Brady's two interceptions and 60.8 rating. Brady didn't have an off night. Miami's defense gave him an off night, forced it on him, with constant pressure and those two picks by Xavien Howard.

3. I'm finally sold on Kenyan Drake, who had 114 yards rushing and 79 receiving. He is fast, elusive, explosive. I thought Miami was dumb to trade top back Jay Ajayi earlier this season. I feel less like that after Monday night.

4. Finally -- finally -- they were ready for the prime-time stage. Before this, Miami has lost 14 of its past 18 games under the lights, including all three this season. The Fins were on a 1-7 skid on MNF. But that changed Monday as the NFL week's biggest underdog, against their longtime nemesis rival, stood up with everybody watching. Impressive.

5. This was a rotten week in South Florida sports, with the Marlins losing superstar Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Monday night made Miami smile. Ah, the power of sports. The power to lift. And to surprise!

Your challenge now: Weigh the elation of Monday night with the whole of the season and vote in the latest Dolphins postgame poll:

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: 79.4%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 79.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of DsmMonday night's 27-20 Dolphins home victory vs. the New England Patriots putting Miami's season record at 6-7. That is the highest positive rating in seven weeks. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Wednesday.

2017 game-by-game DSM results

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

G13: NEW ENGLAND AT DOLPHINS: WILL THE NOT-READY-FOR-PRIMETIME FINS FINALLY SHOW UP UNDER THE LIGHTS?: NE 17-27 (4Q): Brady-White 3-yard pass ... MIA 27-10 (3Q): Cutler-Landry 4-yard pass ... MIA 20-10 (3Q): Cutler-Grant 25-yard pass ... NE 10-13 (2Q): Gostkowski 46-yard FG ... MIA 13-7 (2Q): Cutler-Landry 5-yard pass ... NE 7-6 (2Q): Burkhead 3-yard run ... MIA 6-0 (1Q): Parkey 44-yard FG ... MIA 3-0 (1Q): Parkey 30-yard FG. ... Original post: I’m no slave to trends, friends, but some you simply cannot ignore. They are like a car in a ditch. You can’t help but slow down and rubberneck. One is that few teams in recent history are Nemiabetter in prime time than New England, and few are worse than Miami. Patriots are on a 16-3 run under the lights while Dolphins are on a 4-14 stumble — including 0-3 this season by a combined score of 112-40. Fine-tune that trend even more and find Fins are 1-7 in past eight Monday appearances. That, along with these teams’ overall disparity and a guy named Tom Brady, is why Miami is NFL Week 14's biggest betting underdog at 11 points. And there’s this: Jay Cutler in three career starts vs. NE is 0-3 with five interceptions in losses by 34, 29 and 28 points. These are reasons why the hope borne of last week’s 35-9 Dolphins rout of Denver will prove fleeting as the 10-2 Pats handle the 5-7 Fins at The Rock tonight. But now here are reasons why some hope still exists. Dolphins have beaten Patriots three of the past four meetings in Miami. Brady is below his overall career averages in most every category vs. Miami -- merely quite good, vs. otherworldly. And no Gronk. Wait. One more! Pats visit Steelers next week in a battle for the AFC’s No. 1 seed and may be peeking ahead past the disrespected, easy-to-overlook Dolphins. Bottom line: Do I give Miami much chance to upset New England? Nope. But do I sort of like the Fins getting 11 points? Yep. My pick: New England, 31-23.

StantongTHANKS FOR THE MEMORIES, GIANCARLO: [This item and the poll are carried over from previous blogpost] My column that you'd find here focuses on how the no-trade clause given to Stanton by former owner Jeffrey Loria meant Stanton could get the best deal for himself -- and that the Marlins could not get the best deal for the Marlins. The poll below invites Marlins fans to lay blame for Stanton's departure as they see fit. There has to be room for thanks as well, though. You cannot blame Stanton for the contract he got or the no-trade clause he was given. I honestly believe he wanted to stay; it was the Derek Jeter-led new owners who found his contract beyond their means. I trust Marlins fans will show Stanton the love when he returns in pinstripes. For me, he ranks below only Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade as the great team-drafted star in Miami sports history. Farewell, Giancarlo.

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. MARLINS: Team trades Stanton, Gordon. Merry Christmas, fans!: Marlins fans were still shaking heads over the team trading Dee Gordon to Seattle when the dreaded bombshell hit on Saturday: Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Miami got Starlin Castro and prospects for Stanton but couldn't get the best deal it was offered because Stanton's no-trade clause gave him ultimate control. Call it Jeffrey Loria's final parting gift. 
 
2. DOLPHINS: Fins try to keep (faint) hope alive vs. Patriots Monday: How did Miami, 5-7 and a playoff longshot, become an NFL also-ran team? Try this: Fins have lost 14 of past 18 night games including all three this season and seven of past eight on Monday stage. Somewhere along the line, folks, your Dolphins turned into the Not Yet Ready For Prime-Time Players.
 
3. HEAT: Miami beat Brooklyn in Mexico City: The Heat faced the Nets in Mexico City on Saturday night -- both teams were able to successfully scale Donald Trump's border wall -- and Miami won, 101-89. Given the disappointing, off-playoff-pace seasons both franchises are having thus far, was this a regularly scheduled game ... or were the two teams deported?
 
4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Five days from start of bowl season: Dec. 16 begins the parade of 41 bowl games culminating with the College Football Playoff national championship Jan. 8. This is first time all three South Florida FBS teams have made the postseason the same year, with Miami in the Orange, FAU in the Boca Raton and FIU in the Gasparilla. Gentlemen, start your bowling!
 
5. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes, OB Classic in spotlight: The unbeaten, 10th-ranked Hurricanes men's team returns to action on the road this coming Saturday, the same day the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic featuring No. 5 Florida vs. Clemson and FSU vs. Oklahoma State happens at the Sunrise arena. It'll be so strange, so different, to see exciting action in the building where the NHL Panthers play.
 
6. BASEBALL: Angels land Japanese sensation Ohtani: Baseball winter meetings in Orlando don't start 'til Monday, but the two biggest prizes already have changed uniforms, with the Yankees landing Miami's Giancarlo Stanton after the Angels won the sweepstakes for Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. He is being called the sport's greatest dual threat since Babe Ruth. No pressure or anything!

7. PANTHERS: No defense for Cats' poor start: Florida is 11-18 after Saturday night's 7-3 home loss to Colorado, is eight points off playoff pace, and has given up the second-most goals in the NHL. Cats are off now on a five-game road trip. Probably just as well. Seeing bad hockey on TV is never quite as bad as enduring it in person.

8. HEISMAN TROPHY: Ho hum. It's Mayfield in a rout: Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won college football's biggest individual prize in a rout Saturday, collecting 82.5 percent of the first-place votes. If he has two more wins in him -- over Georgia, then over Clemson or Alabama -- he'll be lifting another pretty nice little trophy as well.

9. SOCCER: Toronto beats Seattle for MLS Cup: Toronto FC handled Seattle 2-0 in the championship match of Major League Soccer. You know MLS. It's the league David Beckham has been trying to get a Miami team into for about the past 45 years. 

10. TIGER WOODS: Comeback Kid to play Honda Classic?: Tiger Woods is back healthy (for now) and competing again in PGA Tour events. He lives on Jupiter Island in Florida. The Honda Classic is around the corner Feb. 22-25 in Palm Beach Gardens, which is about a 20-mile hop from Jupiter Island. Hmm....

Missing the HB10 cut: Hope Solo is running for president of U.S. Soccer. The preceding sentence would be much bigger news if we dropped the word "soccer" ..... The Cavaliers' winning streak ended at 13 games. See. I told ya that LeBron James guy would never amount to anything! ..... Actual Headlines I Never Thought I'd See, But Did: 'Vending Machine Worker and Season Ticket Holder Dresses For Blues as Emergency Goalie' ..... In football, Army beat Navy for the second straight year. It figures. Army is built to perform best on land ..... Soccer superstar Ronaldo said, "I am the best player in history." OK, Pele and Messi, you have my permission to beat the [bleep] out of him.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 03, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.8%. Rock bottom!; plus tragedy in Vegas, Saints crush Miami 20-0 in London, Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Stanton stays at 59 (with column) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 2. Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite the last two weeks' performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whip Duke with CSM poll, other Collball Week 5, NFL Week 4 pix, your Trump vs. NFL verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MADNESS CONTINUES WITH MASS SHOOTING IN VEGAS: Was it terrorism? I'm not even sure how to define the word anymore. It was not the type associated with radical Islamic extremists; so, do we call it domestic terrorism? Or was it just a deranged lunatic who had no business being in possession of a military-grade automatic weapon? More than 50 are dead and more than 200 wounded at a country music concert on the Vegas strip at the hands of one coward on a balcony. The worst shooting in U.S. history. I'm sure the well-meant "Prayers For Vegas" sentiments are already all over social media. Not enough. Who has an answer to the madness attacking civilization by degrees? OK now back to sports! Christ almighty.   

Latest column: For Giancarlo Stanton, hope last night wasn't goodbye: He struck out in the ninth to end at 59 home runs. Standing ovation. Curtain call. Doffed cap in thanks. Or was that a farewell gesture? Click on Hope That Wasn't Goodbye for my column from the game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 3.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 3.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-Dsm0 loss to New Orleans in London putting Miami's season record at 1-2. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. You may vote here, immediately below, or also online by clicking DSM G3. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

Next poll: Oct. 8 (following game vs. Tennessee)

G3: SAINTS 20, DOLPHINS 0 IN LONDON: FOR MIAMI, AWFUL GOT WORSE: Postgame thoughts: You thought the performance at the Jets last week was bad? Bad got worse. Miami was awful offensively in Sunday's 20-0 loss to New Orleans in London -- pitifully so after an opening 81-yard drive that ended with a Jay Cutler end-zone interception that seemed to thoroughly deflate the team. The Fins' defense was OK, closer to pretty good than bad considering Drew Brees slices through everybody. But the offense? A punt-fest after that opening drive. Nothing happening. Miami is lucky to not be 0-3. At 1-2 the season is not lost, but will be unless offensive answers are found soon. Right now, Ryan Tannehill has never looked better to Dolphins fans ..... 4Q; Sack by Wake. Sadly, might be highlight of game for Miami ... Saints 45-yard FG for 13-0 lead. Dolphins offense today making that seem insurmountable ..... 3Q: Fins are inept offensively right now, but give Saints credit. Much better than in past years on D ... Saints 10-0 on Brees 3-yard screen to Thomas. Only in this game, against this Miami offense, does 10-nil feel like a big lead ... Saints on 4th and 1 get the 1st by at least a full millimeter ..... Halftime thoughts: Ugh. Ugly. Do not mistake this soccer-like 3-0 score for great defense. Mostly it has been inept offenses, a rhythm-less game full of penalties, punts and miscues -- the worst an end-zone pick by Cutler that really seemed to deflate Miami. To say that Brits are not seeing the best of American football is to massively understate the awfulness of this game so far. Miami has three punts and six penalties. What is wrong with Miami's offense!? ..... 2Q: Saints 3-0 on 43-yard FG on half's final play ... Penalties killing Fins ... Saints miss 42-yard FG try. So still 0-0. Common in EPL soccer. In NFL, not so much ..... 1Q: With CB Maxwell inactive (hamstring), Brees really picking on rookie Tankersley ... Cutler throws end-zone interception to instantly snuff promising opening drive. Awful choice by him. Demoralizing end to opening drive that took half the quarter ... Unsurprisingly, clearly a pro-Dolphins crowd ..... Original postTally ho and cheerio and all that stuff we think Brits say but they really don't. Ready for a lil' Breakfast at Wembley? Miami and N'Awlins go at it at 9:30 this morning in the U.S. East in what is (ludicrously) a home game Mialondonfor Miami. How good the Dolphins are — whether they’re any good — was cast in serious doubt with that display of public flatulence at the Jets last week, so this is a true test. I do not believe (yet) that Miami is that bad. But I also do not believe that Sunday’s matchup with the Saints is a particularly favorable one that will be an instant cure. Main reason: Drew Brees, even pushing 39, is still really, really good, while Miami’s pass defense really, really isn’t. At least thus far. And that includes failings underneath due to thin linebacking, even with the return from AWOL suspension of Lawrence Timmons, who undoubtedly still would be in the penalty box if the Jets loss didn’t turn things so dire. N’Awlins' defense of course is famously bad, so Fins have an upset shot if the Double Jays, Cutler and Ajayi (running on a babied knee), are appreciably better than they were last week. Londoners could be in for a bloody shootout! Bottom line, though? Dolphins pass defense made Josh McCown look like a superstar last week. Now here comes Brees. Uh oh. My pick: Saints, 27-23. [Click on Week 4 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

Dolfact: History, almost: With the Dolphins' scheduled home opener postponed by Hurricane Irma until Week 11 and the second "home" game taking place in London, Miami's actual first home game of the regular season -- next Sunday Oct. 8 vs. Tennessee -- will be the second-latest on the calendar in the club's 52 seasons. The only later home debut was Oct. 11, 1987, a season that saw Week 3 canceled by a players strike and three consecutive Dolphins road games.

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. MARLINS: Stanton chases history to season's end: Marlins ownership change is official effective today, but the weekend spotlight belonged to Giancarlo Stanton as he chased baseball history. At 59 homers entering Sunday, he had one game left to reach 60 or even the PED-untainted record of 61 and be King Clean. He fell short, staying at 59. Let's hope he'll be back.
 
2. DOLPHINS: London falling. Hard. Fins blow, again: It was a home game 4,500 miles from home as Dolphins took on Saints as slight underdogs Sunday morning at Wembley Stadium -- and got clobbered 20-0. We thought Fins could not possibly be as awful as they were last week. But oh we were wrong!
 
3. HURRICANES: UM gets big win at Duke in ACC opener: Mark Richt's guys sailed 31-6 in Durham Friday night behind big defense and three TDs from Malik Rosier, and now No. 14 UM is 3-0 and it prepares to face rival Florida State in Tallahassee. And what seemed impossible five weeks ago is true: The Canes will be favored.
 
4. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes men's program part of FBI probe: FBI investigation of corruption in men's college basketball recruiting already has toppled Louisville's Rick Pitino in what could be seismic scandal, and UM has acknowledged a member of its staff is implicated. Football team a nice diversion, but high anxiety in the Gables.
 
5. HEAT: Wade makes nice, Heat open preseason: You know NBA season is getting close when the fake games begin! On a week when Dwyane Wade, now of Cleveland, made nice by saying he wants to end his career in a Heat jersey, Miami opened its six-game preseason here by beating Atlanta Sunday. Oh, and Heat are now mobile-only on ticket entry, so you, Luddite, better go buy a smartphone.

6. PANTHERS: Cats wrap exhibitions, await regular season: Panthers ended their preseason with a promising 4-2 mark and now await regular-season NHL opener in Tampa Friday, then home vs. Lightning Saturday. Last year: Big hype, no results. Now: No hype ... so we'll see.

7. BASEBALL: Wild-card games commence postseason: AL wild-card game Tuesday (Twins-Yankees) and NL Wednesday (Rockies-Diamondbacks) begin the MLB playoffs. These are like those play-in games in NCAA Tournament. Sorry, wild-carders, but you didn't really make the playoffs, now did you?

8. NFL POLITICS: Trump vs. Protest war continues: War between President Donald Trump and NFL social-justice protesters continues. Dear Trump: Fewer Tweets on NFL, more action on Puerto Rico. I mean ... just sayin'! 

9. RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Signs mega contract extension: Oklahoma City Thunder lavished Westbrook with a five-year, $205 million contract extension. Wait. Weren't max contracts around $20 mill about a minute ago? 

10. O.J. SIMPSON: Parolee heads to Florida: Our man O.J. Simpson gets out of prison on parole this week and is believed headed to South Florida to take up residence. Remember, if the glove does not fit, you must ... say welcome, Neighbor!

Missing the HB10 cut: FSU finally off the schneid, FIU and FAU both with big wins ..... Game 4 of the WNBA Finals is Sunday. Note to self: Look up who's playing.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 06, 2017

Heat still playoff-unlikely even with big win; plus Jeter, Jeb join list of interested Marlins buyers; also, Romo/Canton poll (last day to vote!), '18 NCAA title odds, lamb-flavored potato chips, Hot Button Daily, expectations bar you set for Fish & more

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

Lambchips1) It is THURSDAY, April 6. Comic great Don Rickles has died at 90. R.I.P. 2) Back In My Day: Potato Chips. Click here for our latest BIMD from yesterday's LeBatard Show. 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Day poll and list, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

2018 men's NCAA Tournament title odds: Out today via Bovada, Kentucky opens as favorite at 9-1, with North Carolina second at 12-1 to repeat. Florida Gators are 25-1 (tied for 12th), FSU Seminoles are 33-1 (tie 17th) and Hurricanes ar 40-1 (tie 21st).

DEREK JETER, JEB BUSH REPORTEDLY NOW AMONG INTERESTED MARLINS BUYERS: Confirming long-percolating rumors, Fox Business Network and FoxBusiness.com reported this Jeterafternoon (story here) that former Yankees superstar Derek Jeter (pictured) is fronting a group interested in buying the Miami Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. The report sources "people with direct knowledge" and says Jeter is being represented in talks with Marlins president David Samson by Wall Street executive and former Morgan Stanley brokerage chief Gregory Fleming. Jeter has long been open about his interest in owning a sports team, especially in baseball. Fox Business reports another bidding group is led by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Citigroup. A third bidding group is said to have the financial backing of Goldman Sachs. Loria made plain at the start of recent spring training that he plans to sell and as soon as this season. The asking price has been reporte as high at $1.6 billion but many believe the actual sale price could be half of that. Earlier this spring, yet another potential bidder was the Kushner real estate, but that possibility seemed to have cooled for now related to a Kushner son being married to Donald Trump's daughter and Loria's possible nomination as ambassador to France.

UPDATED: ODDS STILL AGAINST HEAT MAKING PLAYOFFS: Really big win in Charlotte last night lifted Miami to the 8th seed (with tiebreakers), but Heat still are deemed unlikely to make the playoffs. Can't really blame the 11-30 record at midseason because Miami clawed successfully back from that to get on playoff Miamiheatpace, climbing as high as the 7th seed. No, it was the two bad home losses in a row and four L's in six games overall (The Missing Dion Waiters Effect) before last night. Chicago, Indiana and Miami now all have identical records, but each of those three teams' remaining schedules hugely favors the Bulls and is toughest by far for the Heat. That is why ESPN's Basketball Power Index now gives Chicago a 93.4 percent playoff likelihood, Indiana 75.8% and Miami only 31.8%. Comparing the remaining schedules:

Chicago Bulls 38-40: @ Philadelphia .359; @ Brooklyn .244; vs. Orlando .346 and vs. Brooklyn .244.

Indiana Pacers 38-40: vs. Milwaukee .513; @ Orlando .346; @ Philadelphia .359 and vs. Atlanta .506.

Miami Heat 38-40: @ Toronto .608; @ Washington .603; vs. Cleveland .654 and vs. Washington .603.

ON TONY ROMO TO CBS: Tony Romo abruptly retires from the Cowboys and NFL and immediately becomes CBS Sports' main NFL game analyst as the network dumps Phil Simms and Romosimmsinstalls Romo alongside play-by-play ace Jim Nantz on featured games. Controversial? Yes, I guess, because former CBS mainstay Bonnie Bernstein Tweeted angrily that the decision was "total crap" and unfair to Simms because Romo has zero broadcast experience. Hey, here's a bulletin. No former NFL star is hired for his on-air background, his dulcet tones or even for the likelihood he might actually excel in his new role. Former stars are hired because they are former stars. Well-known. Apt to attract viewers. It's how Phil Simms got hired. And Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Rich Gannon, Troy Aikman, Steve Young and every other ex-QB handed a mic. Some turn out to be pretty good. Most don't. Simms wasn't. That he got replaced should surprise nobody who follows sports broadcasting. That he got replaced by other ex-QBs even less a shock. Whether Romo "deserves" his new job isn't the most interesting question about him. The one I pose in this poll is, because I think it's debatable, with a pretty strong argument on either side. Vote now.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 4-6-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. The Masters, 3 p.m. (TV): First round of year's first golf major from Augusta.

2. Marlins at Washington, 4 p.m.: Fish try to avoid sweep in season-opening road series.

3. Heat rivals, 7 p.m.: MIA fans will be rooting against Bulls (at PHI) and Pacers (vs. MIL).

4. St. Louis at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats' next-to-last home game of season.

5. Men's Frozen Four, 6 p.m.: From Chicago, for all of you college hockey fans.

Poll result: Confidence in Marlins slips: That's based on identical polls we took at the start of spring training in mid-February and at the start of the season this week. The combination of "playoffs or contending" has fallen from 53.2 percent to 41.5%, while the combination of "mediocre or worse" has risen from 46.9% to 58.5%. The breakdown:

Poll answer                                              Feb.        Now

The playoffs, finally!                              16.8%      10.0%

Contending team that just misses    36.4%      31.5%

Mediocre team never really in hunt  37.1%      46.2%

Post-Jose, a bad season                          9.8%       12.3% 

Select recent columns: Federer and Nadal Deliver, the latest, on Miami Open men's final. Always Dreaming, from Florida Derby. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to catch Patriots. Missing Waiters, on his value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 04, 2017

Playoffs? Bust? Set bar on Marlins expectations. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Fish, UNC, Heat, Always Dreaming, Federer, Dion Jordan; also, Radio Tuesday, Florida Derby/Marlins columns, Hot Button Daily (Tue) & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, April 4. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Saturday with Final Four/Florida Derby/Miami Open, The List I-II, your NBA MVP verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and with the national show airing on ESPNU/ESPN2.

Florida Derby, Marlins preview columns: It was a double Sunday dose o' me as I weighed in with a column from Saturday's Florida Derby as well as a Marlins season preview column. Click on Always Dreaming for my Derbyizing on the winning horse and its owner, Vinnie Viola, the Florida Panthers owner. Click on Mourning And Celebration for my preview column on a Marlins season unlike any other.

My final bracket update: I finished 5th among some 90 entries in the LeBatard & Friends pool -- not bad -- topped by correctly having North Carolina as my national champion. 

Marlins odMARLINS OPENING DAY POLL: Yesterday began the Marlins' 25th season, and we're gauging how optimistic (or not) South Florida is about the team. Remove the rose-colored glasses and vote what you honestly expect will happen, please, not what you hope will. We ran this exact same poll in the blog in mid-February as spring training unfurled, so we'll be interested to compare results to detect any shifts. Ready? Play ball! Vote now...

THE LIST: MARLINS OPENING DAY STARTERS: Edinson Volquez became the 15th different Marlins Opening Day starting pitcher in the club's 25-year history. The eight pitchers with multiple Opening Day starts for the Fish:

Josh Beckett                  3    2003-05

Josh Johnson                  3    2010-12

Charlie Hough                2    1993-94 

Kevin Brown                   2    1996-97

Alex Fernandez              2    1999-00

Ryan Dempster               2    2001-02 

Dontrelle Willis              2    2006-07

Ricky Nolasco                 2    2009, '13

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. MARLINS: Play ball! Fish open 25th season on road today: MLB Opening Day was Sunday with three games, but Miami plays six straight away starting with Monday's loss at Washington before finally opening at home April 11. This could be the year unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria finally sells the team. Which pretty much already makes it a successful season!

2. NCAA TOURNAMENT: Finally! It's North Carolina: There were 351 teams, from which 68 made the men's NCAA Tournament. Then it was down to 32, then 16 to eight to four to two and now ... the final one. It was North Carolina for the national title last night in the long-awaited crescendo to March (into April) Madness.

3. HEAT: Playoff fight intensifies as Miami winds down season: Heat is down to five games left as it angles for a first-round playoff series vs. Boston or Cleveland. Miami's long climb back staggered with a Sunday home loss to Denver that left Heat hanging onto 8th and last playoff seed. Oy!

4. HORSE RACING: Always Dreaming wins 66th Florida Derby: Gunnevera was the betting favorite Saturday but the Florida Derby belonged to Always Dreaming, owned by Florida Panthers  owner Vinnie Viola. It was nice to see horse racing the star at Gulfstream again for at least a day, not the casino, poker, restaurants etc. Also nice to see that Viola's four-legged athlete runs better than his two-legged guys skate.

5. TENNIS: Federer beats Nadal in Miami Open men's final: Jo Konta beating Caroline Wozniacki wasn't exactly a dream women's final for the Miami Open on Saturday, but Sunday delivered just that on the men's side with Roger Federer beating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in a heavyweight men's title match.

6. GOLF: The Masters arrives, but Tiger-less once more: Season's first golf major unfurls Thursday at Augusta as an absent Tiger Woods, still beset by back issues, continues one of the most epic slow fades in the history of sports.

7. DOLPHINS: Fins release all-time bust Dion Jordan: The quintessential NFL all-time draft bust might still be Ryan Leaf. But in the Miami division, Dion Jordan's dubious crown was affirmed this week as the Dolphins finally cut the guy they traded up for and never stopped regretting it. 

8. NCAA WOMEN: South Carolina reigns after UConn upset loss stuns women's Final Four: South Carolina beat Mississippi State in the finale Sunday night. But, no matter, dynastic UConn losing in Final Four, after 111 consecutive wins, already made it a refreshing victory for women's college basketball. 

9. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from playoff chase as disappointing season ebbs: Florida is down to three games left after Monday home loss to Montreal, a going-through-the-motions phase to end a huge letdown of a season. Um how'd that coaching change work out, by the way? Boneheaded. 

10. PRO WRESTLING: Orlando hosts WrestleMania 33: Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton had big wins and The Undertaker lost in his final WWE match to highlight WrestleMania 33. Imagine. Sports' biggest cartoon event in a city that worships Mickey Mouse. Perfect. So right.

Missing the HB10 cut: NFL owners voted 31-1 to OK Oakland Raiders' move to Las Vegas, with Dolphins' Stephen Ross the lone dissenter. Ross has since been so heroically lauded in the media you'd think he'd rescued three nuns from a burning car ..... Hurricanes football held its annual Pro Day for NFL teams to analyze 15 UM players as the draft nears. Only one, TE David Njoku, figures as a first-rounder. And I'll say it again: Ya shoulda stayed, Brad Kaaya ..... When was the last time UM baseball entered April with a losing record? Holy Brad Kelly!

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 4-4-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. FIU at Mississippi State, 6:30 p.m.: FIU baseball tops the marquee? Huh!?

2. Yes. Yes it is. It is the single slowest day of the entire sports year.

Select other recent columns: The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to close gap on Patriots. Missing Waiters, on Dion Waiters' value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Method to the Madness?, on bizarre LaVar Ball. Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, previewing tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, on World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote