It's longshot, but here's the case for Canes baseball and Jim Morris to still make NCAA Tournament; plus Roger Goodell's Hell Week (new column), major spike in support for Ryan Tannehill & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
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Latest column: Roger Goodell's Hell Week: Why the NFL's new national-anthem protest policy is blowing up in the commissioner's face is the topic of my latest column. To read it in full, click, Hell Week For Goodell.
THE CASE FOR CANES BASEBALL TO STILL MAKE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Jim Morris' happy ending up to NCAA's baseball selection committee now. His Miami Hurricanes lost to Clemson 7-1 Thursday night in the second round of the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C. in what may or may not have been the final game ever for the retiring UM coach. There was no guarantee but some belief that a Canes win last night would have earned an invite to the NCAA Tournament and a shot at reaching the College World Series in Omaha, while a loss would render that happy ending a longshot for Morris and UM. We'll know Monday when the NCAA sets its 64-team postseason field. Do I think Miami will get in? No. I'd put it at around a 10 percent shot. The U would make it if emotion had a role. Miami is a four-time national champion sending off the fourth-winningest major-school coach in history. That at least should earn benefit of doubt in a close, either/or call. But there still are rational arguments why UM, even with a just-OK 28-26 overall record, should have a shot at one of the 33 at-large invitations to be given. Miami plays in the toughest baseball conference in the America -- four teams in the national Top 10 -- and had a 16-13 ACC record. Almost one-third of its games (17 of 54) were against ranked opponents, and Miami was 9-8 against that top competition. The Canes rose from the dead to win 11 games in a row prior to last night's loss. And Miami's strength of schedule ranked No. 16 in the nation. On merit or as a going-away gift to Morris, UM sneaking into the NCAA Tournament would be a nice surprise, but not one unwarranted.
NFL'S NATIONAL-ANTHEM SOLUTION? HIDE THE PROBLEM. LITERALLY: King Sport's new national-anthem policy revealed Wednesday -- the solution to its two-year public relations mess -- is to hide the problem, quite literally. Henceforth, players on the field must stand or be subject to league and team fines. Those who wish not to stand must stay in the lockerroom, hidden out of view. I tackle this new policy in my latest column; to read, click NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away. What they are doing is a Band-Aid on the wound, makeup that won't hide the scar. There still will be kneelers on the sideline, I predict, if not as many, because the cause is bigger than football. It's about social justice and racial equality, even as those including President Trump wish to make it about disrespecting the flag. Just yesterday, Trump said those who don't stand for the anthem maybe "shouldn't be in the country," a chilling echo of the love-it-or-leave-it mindset we saw arise in the 1960s to counter Vietnam protests. The new NFL policy will make (most) of the kneelers disappear from view, but it won't make the problem or the will to fight it go away. Pictured: Colin Kaepernick and what kicked off the protests in 2016. Quick aside: Kaepernick remains unemployed.
Our most recent other columns: Tannehill's Defining Season as the Dolphins QB's comeback season begins with offseason practices. Also: A Solution To Jeter's Impatience. Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris. NBA Rolling A Pair of 7s. Supremes Got It Right On Sports Betting. Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan. Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.
POLL RESULT: SUPPORT FOR TANNEHILL STILL NOT GREAT -- BUT IT'S GROWING: Call it the "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" effect. We asked this week, "What best describes your confidence level, right now, in Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill?" We had previously taken the same blogpoll with an identically worded question and answer-options in October 2016, midseason two years ago, prior to Tannehill's first injury. The uptick in faith in Tannehill is pretty dramatic:
Solid 8.70% 31.17%
Moderate 13.97 25.97
Wavering 30.15 20.78
Low 47.18 22.08
Broken down to generally favorable (solid/moderate) vs. generally unfavorable (wavering/low), Tannehill's plus-rating has gone from 22.67 percent to 57.14%, while his negative score has shrunk from 77.33% to 42.86%. There still is not a strong consensus of support for Tannehill, but there seems to be a reboot on benefit of doubt as he begins his comeback season from the knee injuries that ended his '16 early and erased all of last season. (By the way, the new tattoo visible here on Tanny's right biceps is a laurel wreath, in honor of his wife Lauren. How cute is that!)
OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose / NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.
For all of our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.
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