December 11, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 83.9%; plus Miami Miracle on last play beats Patriots 34-33! Playoff hopes alive! With our column from game; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (is LeBron/D-Wade finale on top?) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 10. Been burning leftover vacation days lately and so haven't been pumping out as many columns. Visit here for some of our most recent. 2) Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 14 picks, Heisman Trophy poll, Raconteurs news & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Visit Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins for my new column from stadium on Sunday's epic 34-33 win over New England.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: 83.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 83.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of Dsm"very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 34-33 last-second victory over visiting New England putting Miami's season record at 7-6. That's the highest DSM rating since Week 3. 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 7 a.m. today/Tuesday. (The DSM also takes place on our Twitter site @gregcote. The approval vote there was 69%).

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

G13: 83.9% following 34-33 victory vs. New England.

Next poll: Dec. 16 following game at Minnesota.

G13: DOLPHINS 34, NEW ENGLAND 33: PLAYOFF HOPES ALIVE WITH MIRACLE FINISH!: Visit Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins for my new column from stadium on Sunday's epic win ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami trails 27-21 at half despite Tannehill's 143.8 passer rating and 142 yards rushing. This is what lousy defense and two blocked punts will get you. Tom Brady is having his way. Tannehill left with ankle injury in last minute of half; we'll see if he returns. Scoreboard says Miami has a legit upset shot, but it won't happen without a massive defensive turnaround and no more huge mistakes ..... Original postNemesis New England at 9-3 is a big 7 1/2-point road favorite playing at 6-6 Miami on Sunday at 1 at Hard Rock (CBS). It also is my Upset of the Week ("Aaawwwk!"). Patriots can clinch the AFC East title with a win here, but keep that champagne corked a bit longer, Pats. Yes, I know. I know it Pats-dolswell. In the broadest view the Patriots have been the division master with the Dolphins on their leash for a long time, including a 38-7 beatdown up there in Week 4. But this rivalry swings distinctly with the home field lately. The home team is on an 11-1 series run, and the Fins have beaten the Pats four of the past five in Miami, where the genius seems to often elude Bill Belichick and where Tom Brady isn’t always the G.O.A.T. The Superman Pats also have tended to be Clark Kent on the road this year, 3-3 away from Foxborough with all three losses by double digits — while Miami is impressively taking care of home business (5-1) at The Rock. Makes me love the Dolphins getting 7 1/2 points and like them enough outright to pull the trigger. One hesitation: Miami’s rising-star cornerback Xavien Howard, NFL leader with seven interceptions, was very iffy when I made my pick and has since been declared out with a knee injury. That’s a big blow. No-Howard makes it that much more likely that Brady gets the TD pass he needs to break a tie (579) with Peyton Manning for most ever, including playoffs. But offsetting the Howard absence somewhat is that Ryan Tannehill hopes/expects to have his security blanket Danny Amendola back from injury to face his former team. This call is a major upset that doesn’t feel like one to me thanks to the strong series trends. More size-XXL incentive for Miami: Fins would elevate into playoff pace and sit (for now) as the sixth and final AFC seed with a win here if Ravens also lose at Kansas City as the odds suggest they will. For Miami it's the Game of the Year! At least until the next one... My pick: Upset! Dolphins, 27-23.

Visit Week 14 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami Miracle beats rival Patriots: An upset win over your big nemesis Sunday or succumbing in home defeat. For Miami that would be the difference in whether the 6-6 Dolphins have a legitimate playoff shot or were relegated as barely breathing longshots. Well, after a last-second 34-33 thriller over New England ... they're aliiive!

2. HEAT: History: Monday the end for LeBron, D-Wade: Heat at Lakers Monday night in the teams' second and last season meeting figures to be the final time on a court together for L.A.'s LeBron James and retiring Miami star Dwyane Wade, who missed the first matchup on paternity leave. They might only meet again if Wade makes the all-star team or if it's in the NBA Finals. (An LOL for that last one). Meantime Goran Dragic's return from injury could be the spark Miami has needed since last being above .500 at a distant 3-2.

3. HURRICANES: Say Uncle! Richt loses nephew to LSU: A 7-5 season is bad enough for a UM team that was top-10 in the preseason polls. So 's this: Four-star quarterback recruit Max Johnson, heavily recruited by Miami, committed to LSU instead. The double-ouch factor? Johnson is Richt's nephew. Sorry, Uncle Mark!

4. HEISMAN TROPHY: Murray narrowly wins college crown: Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray edged Alabama counterpart Tua Tagovailoa for the 2018 Heisman on Saturday night, 2,167 vote points to 1,871, with Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskinis a distant third among the three finalistst with 783. The 1-2 finishers will square off Dec. 29 in a College Football Playoff semifinal at Hard Rock in Miami.

5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Five days until bowl season!: The parade of 4,384 bowl games (actually, 39) begins in five days on Saturday Dec. 15. FIU, feeling good at 8-4, plays Toledo Dec. 21 in Nassau. Miami, feeling not so great at 7-5, faces Wisconsin Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium. Then the only three games that matter start Dec. 29.

6. BASEBALL: Winter meetings trade-fest begins in Vegas: Where will top-tier free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper land (and for how much)? Will the Marlins be offered enough in return to part with all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto? Answers ahead as the 2019 MLB season shape-shifts with the annual winter meetings.

7. NFL: Pack unceremoniously dumps McCarthy: A Super Bowl-winning coach of this stature and tenure is rarely let go in-season, but it  happened to Green Bay's Mike McCarthy. His interim fill-in is Joe Philbin, who looks like the farmer holding in the pitchfork in the Grant Wood painting, "American Gothic."

8. PANTHERS: Cats in playoff chase despite themselves: Florida has been trying all season to dig itself out from under an 0-4 and 2-10 start, but one-third into the NHL season finds itself only three points off playoff pace in the East entering this week. As long as the conference stays as iffy as the Panthers, there's a shot!

9. UM HOOPS: Canes men lose on, off court: Jim Larranaga's guys are off 'til Dec. 19 and licking wounds. They're 5-4 with four straight losses, the last two to Yale and Penn (!), and this week also watched longtime recruit Vernon Carey Jr. sign with Duke instead. Dad was a former Hurricane and longtime Miami Dolphin lineman. So much for bloodlines and "The U" family!

10. SOCCER: Atlanta wins MLS championship: Host Atlanta United defeated Portland Timbers 2-0 in Saturday night's 2018 MLS Cup. Atlanta reigns as an expansion team in only its second season. No pressure or anything for Miami, David Beckham!

Missing the HB10 cut: Derrick Henry!?! ..... Army beat Navy 17-10 in Saturday's traditional end to the college football regular season. Fortunately, no casualties were reported ..... Countdown 10 days 'til college football's early signing period Dec. 19-21. "Way to steal my thunder," said National Signing Day on Feb. 6 ..... Update: Countdown now 2,752 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Poll results: You Heisman vote couldn't have been closer. Literally: We asked which of the three finalists deserved to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy, and Oklahoma's Kyler Murray and Alabama's Tua Tagovailao tied with 40.54 percent each. Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins was third with 18.92%.

Select recent columns: Oklahoma, College Football Win the Day / Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / Dolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To Love / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 04, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 15.6%; plus Fins beat Buffalo 21-17, improve to 6-6 with must-win; also, our new column on CFP final four, Canes to Pinstripe Bowl, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 3. Happy new month, all! Ready, set ... spend! 2) Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 13 picks, R.I.P. President Bush, ranking college conference title games, your Cooperstown verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

CfpNew column: On the College Football Playoff final four: There was anger and wailing from at least three campuses, but here's why the CFP got it right Sunday with Oklahoma for the final spot. Visit Oklahoma, College Football Win the Day for my latest column. By the way, Miami Hurricanes headed to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York. So much for all the "experts" guessing Gator Bowl!

Select recent columns: Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 15.6%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 15.6 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo putting Miami's season record at 6-6. 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 7 a.m. today/Tuesday. (The DSM also takes place on our Twitter site @gregcote. The approval there was 29%).

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

Next poll: Dec. 9 following game vs. New England.

BufmiaG12: BUFFALO AT DOLPHINS: IT'S MUST-WIN, MUST-PRAY IN PLAYOFF HUNT: Postgame thoughts: Miami hangs on, survives last-minute Hail Mary throw, wins 21-7 to improved to 6-6 and stay alive in playoff chase. Tannehill's three TD passes and 1-3.7 rating win the day. Defense solid other than allowing Bills QB Allen to scramble for 135 yards. All Miami did was beat a bad team at home, and not easily. Still, the win was dearly needed, making it a good day ..... Halftime thoughts: Tannehill an efficient 10-for-15 for 96 yards and two TDs have Fins up 14-6 in must-win game to stay in playoff hunt. Perry with big special-teams takeaway on muffed Bills punt return. Defense has limited Buffs to 122 total net yards, though Fins have only 115 themselves. Bills are bad, Miami is doing what it should ..... Original postThanksgiving over and bye weeks done means the stretch run to the NFL playoffs has begun. With the Dolphins 5-6 and the Bills 4-7 let's not pretend this game is a major player in the hunt, but it is lurking on the periphery. Miami must run the table to be assured a postseason ticket, whereas winning four of the past five might be good enough. It must start today, at home as a 4-point favorite, against an inferior Buffalo. Drop this 1 p.m. game before CBS cameras and all realistic hope is gone for Miami. Forecast website fivethirtyeight.com puts Miami’s postseason likelihood entering NFL Week 13 at 5 percent, so this is must-win ... followed by must-pray. Bet line opened at Fins by 6 but sank fast in another reminder how little faith there is in Miami. Or maybe somebody (anybody?) is impressed that Buffs have won straight over teams that are a combined 6-16? Give Dolphins this much, at least. They guard the 3-0-5 pretty well. Fins are 4-1 at home and on a 6-2 roll in home division games. And Ryan Tannehill, in his second game back from injury, is on a 7-0 gallop in home starts. Miami figures to be without top target and catchman Danny Amendola (knee), but Fins should be able to run big on Williams’ soft ground D. On the other side, rookie QB Josh Allen has a paucity of weapons. I like Miami to cover but will be mindful of this trend: Buffalo has been outscored 141-9 in the first half of its past six losses, so it could be an ominous sign of Fins don’t jump out early. Buffs swept Miami last year. A dollop of payback arrives Sunday. My pick: Dolphins, 27-16.

Visit Week 13 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks.

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

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Oklahoma grabs fourth and final spot: No doubt unbeatens Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame would be 1-2-3 Sunday when the College Football Playoff handed out its four invitations (although there was mucho doubt for the Crimson Tide Saturday before that late rally past Georgia). The question was who would replace Georgia in the big four, which debate among Oklahoma, Ohio State and even Georgia and UCF. Whomever said the CFP would take the argument out of college football was thankfully wrong.

2. DOLPHINS: Tannehill lifts Miami past Buffalo in all but must-win: The Dolphins are now 6-6 after a 21-17 home win over the rival Bills Sunday. That was the easy part. Fins face Patriots and Vikings next.

3. HURRICANES: It's UM-Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl: Sunday came the Miami Hurricanes' consolation prize for a disappointing season. As bowl bids came out nationwide, most experts had pegged UM for the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, but the destination turned out to be the Pinstripe at Yankee Stadium vs. Wisconsin. A year ago these two met in the Orange Bowl. Now they're relegated after 7-5 seasons.

4. HEAT: Miami wins, tries to shake malaise: The Heat are now 9-13 at the NBA season's quarter mark after beating Utah behind Hassan Whiteside's 20/20 game Sunday. It's 5-8 at home. Keep that wakeup alarm sounding.

5. PANTHERS: Cats still looking for a spark: Florida continues in midst of an eight-game homestand in search of a spark as NHL season nears its one-third mark. Cats are 10-15 and off playoff pace. Another local wakeup call, please?

6. MARLINS: Realmuto speculation heating up: As the Dec. 9 start of the baseball winter meetings nears, speculation heats about who might be Miami's trade partner for all-star catcher J.T. Reamuto. The Yankees, Dodgers, Brewers and Astros are among the mentioned. You'd like to think Miami might spend big to keep Realmuto, then you remember, nah, these are the Marlins!

7. UM HOOPS: Canes men are falling apart!: Since starting 5-0 the UM men have lost three straight including Saturday's defeat against Yale. That's right. YALE! At least the Canes women are a bit better, 7-2 and ranked No. 21 one game into an eight-game homestand.

8. NFL: Chiefs abruptly cut star RB Hunt: Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rushing last season and is fifth this year and at 23 was a bright, rising star. Now he's unemployed and facing a league suspension after the video release of him committing battery against a female. File it away under Dumbass Athletes. Thick file, by the way.

9. SOCCER: MLS championship set: Atlanta United will host Portland Timbers this coming Saturday Dec. 8 in the MLS Cup championship match. Atlanta is in only its second season in the league. See, that's how fast you can go from nonexistent to really good, Miami.

10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream winter meet underway: Gulfstream Park in Hallandale opened its winter session Saturday. It's where you can go to gamble, dine, shop and, time permitting, maybe even catch horse race! 

Missing the HB10 cut: Thinking some more about last week's Phil-Tiger match, and it was still boring ..... Update: Countdown now 2,759 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other columns: NASCAR Needs A Next Big ThingDolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To LoveNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersNFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 13, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.8%; plus Fins fall 31-12 at Green Bay, drop to 5-5; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated; are Collapsing Canes on top?), thank you Veterans & more

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

Vetday1) It's MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12. Veterans Day is when we honor all of those who have served in our military. Thank you! 2) Find results of the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in the previous blogpost or directly here. 3) Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose fourth straight with CSM poll, other state Collball, your Dolphins-in-playoffs verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our latest columns: Sabermetrics ace and Red Sox adviser Bill James fell into hot water by saying baseball players are replaceable, likening their importance to that of beer vendors. By extension he meant athletes in general. But here's the thing. He may be right. I discuss in my newest column. To read: Bill James Struck A Nerve, But He's More Right Than Wrong. Also: Marino Set the Blueprint For Mahomes and State of Shock For Canes, Gators and Noles.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 5.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-12 loss at Green Bay putting Miami's season record at 5-5. That ties for the season low. 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. (The DSM also takes place on our Twitter site @gregcote. The approval rating there was 25%).

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

Next poll: Nov. 25 (after bye week) following game at Indianapolis.

G10: GREEN BAY 31, DOLPHINS 12: TEMPS in 20'S, PACKER POINTS IN 30'S. TOLD YA!: Final thoughts: Four field goals does not pass as decent offense in any world I know. Especially at Lambeau Field against Aaron Rodgers ..... 4Q: GB 31-12 as Pack add 38-yard FG. It's over, people ..... 3Q: GB 28-12 on Rodgers-Adam 25-yard scoring pass. This game feels over ... GB 21- Miagb12 on Jones 12-yard TD run. Like I said, FGs will nit beat Rodgers in Green Bay ... MIA 12-14 on 40-yard FG ... Halftime thoughts: Rodgers less than 100 yards passing? Gore kicking ass? Good, encouraging signs for Miami. But field goals will not beat Rodgers at Lambeau. Book that ..... 2Q: MIA 9-14 on 47-yard FG. Fins competitive, but will settling for threes come back to haunt? ... MIA 6-14 on 25-yard FG after red-zone fizzle ... GB 14-3 on Jones 2-yards TD run set up by his 67-yard run ... 1Q: Fins defense gouged for 67-yard run to arrange another Pack score as quarter ends ... MIA 3-7 on 37-yard FG after Pack fumble. A 3rd-and-8 sack forced the three ... Miami recovers fumble on punt return near midfield ... GB 7-0 on Rodgers-Adams 7-yard TD pass, capitalizing on Miami turnover ... Nice opening drive by Fins ruined by lost fumble. Shotgun snap to Osweiler looked fast and high, but catchable ..... Pregame: Patriots loss today means Miami can move within one game and re-energize whole season with win at Lambeau ... Starting OTs Laremy Tunsil and Ja'Wuan James both inactive today. Oh my. Good lukc, Osweiler! ..... Original post: Miami is a surprisingly not-terrible 5-4 and Green Bay is a surprisingly desperate 3-4-1 and yet the Packers are favored by a big 10 points in today's 4:25 p.m. Lambeau Field kickoff before CBS cameras. Why? Quotation of the week to Dolphins coach Adam Gase, who said it deadpan-perfect, when asked if his defense could carry the momentum of last week’s domination of the Jets into this Sunday’s game in Green Bay: "Aaron Rodgers is a little different than Sam Darnold," noted Gase. I might further note that Mr. Rodgers also is a little different than Brock Osweiler. And that temperatures diving into the 20s at Lambeau will be a little different for the Fins than the advantageous comfort of home humidity. I’m scrounging around for reasons to believe in a Miami upset, and finding the cupboard bare short of assuming least a couple of Dolphins takeaways. (Perhaps a pick by Reshad Jones, if he deigns to actually appear in the game rather than pouting on the sideline?) Reasons to not like the Dolphins today are easier to spot. Osweiler is gradually becoming Osweiler again; he has not thrown a touchdown pass for almost nine quarters. Miami is 1-3 away and the Gee Bees 3-0-1 at home. All four of Miami’s losses have been by double digits, and the Dolphins are on a 1-8 skid when kicking off as road underdogs. Miami’s best shot might be that Green Bay — after facing the Patriots last week and with roadies to Seattle/Minnesota on deck — might sort of not pay much attention to this game. Except the Pack’s scant margin of error in the playoff chase assures Rodgers and the Cheesers will be on high alert here, buoyed by the Frozen Tundra and the ghost of Vince Lombardi in a fedora. Bonus fact: GB’s offensive coordinator is Joe Philbin. How much do you figure he’d love to run up the score? The forecast for today in Green Bay: Temps in the 20s, Pack points in the 30s. My pick: Green Bay, 37-20.

Visit Week 10 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. 

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: It's four straight losses with UM's fall at Tech: With Saturday's 27-21 loss at Georgia Tech the Hurricanes are now 5-5, have lost four in a row, are not yet bowl-eligible and are 5-8 in the past 13 games. Let's all agree that the honeymoon is over for Mark Richt. Heck, at this rate, the divorce lawyers may be on call.

2. DOLPHINS: Miami fizzles on the frozen tundra: The Dolphins' defense handled the Jets in winning last week but Aaron Rodgers is different than Sam Darnold about as subtly as Green Bay temps in the 20s are to South Florida humidity. And so 31-12 Green Bay on Sunday has the Fins, once 3-0, now stalled at 5-5.

3. HEAT: Sputtering Heat brace for Sixers and Butler, then LeBron: Heat at 5-7 have lost two straight and five of seven as they prepare to host Philadelphia and newly acquired Jimmy Butler Monday night. Minnesota trading Butler into the East made Miami's playoff chase that much more problematic. Almost forgot: Lakers and LeBron here in seven days.

4. NASCAR: Championship Four is set for Homestead: Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick were joined by Kyle Busch and Martin Truex in the Championship Four for next Sunday's NASCAR title run at Homestead. The final two spots were filled in yesterday's penultimate race in Phoenix. Now the entire sport packs up and heads south of Miami.

5. SOCCER: Miami MLS wins stadium vote: The David Beckham group's embryonic Major League Soccer expansion franchise, Inter Miami, comfortably won voter approval on stadium plans for the Melreese site. Meanwhile the MLS playoffs continue with semifinals pitting Portland vs. Sporting KC and New York vs. Atlanta.

6. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! The Cats are heating up: Slow-starting Florida has now won four in a row to rise to 6-8 with Sunday's victory over Ottawa prior to a six-game road trip. Credit some of the rally to the return of goalie Roberto Luongo. They honored the late Bill Torrey, Panthers founding father, before Saturday's home win. All hail the Bowtie!

7. UM HOOPS: Canes men, women off and runnning: UM men routed Lehigh in their opener and will now beef up their record vs. a soft schedule until the serious games start in January, when we start paying attention for real. Meanwhile he 25th-ranked Canes women are 2-0 and continue relentlessly competitive under Katie Meier.

8. GATORS: UF protects ranking with big rally: No. 15 Florida scored the game's last 21 points Saturday to survive South Carolina in the Swamp, 35-31. UM and FSU have lost a combined seven games in a row, but The Gator (oh, and 9-0 UCF) are holding up the state.  

9. FIU: ButchCats sail to 7-3 record: Well at least one Miami college football team is winning. As the Canes marinate in a four-game losing streak, FIU is 7-3 with Saturday's 45-7 rout of UTSA. Overlooked program continues to climb under Butch Davis.

10. DOG RACING: State bans greyhound racing: Florida citizens this week voted to ban dog racing in the state, meaning some 6,000 suddenly retired racing greyhound may need new homes. Breathing a well-earned sigh of relief: the mechanical rabbit!

Missing the HB10 cut: State of Florida's election recount is underway in several key races. Depending on your point of view, it's a noble effort to get it right or screwing your candidate who thought he'd won ..... Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan: the CFP top four, uninterrupted ..... Would somebody give Bryce Harper and Manny Machado a bunch of money already!? ..... I'd like to report that the Duke men's basketball team is, like, really good ..... Update: Countdown now 2,780 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: Dolphins Win, But Under Cloud, Not RainbowTime For Faith In Richt, And PatienceMoving Beyond Tannehill Smart But Not Easy For DolphinsDolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To LoveSnakebit AdamFamily TraditionVictor-y, Miami! Wade Reminds Us Why We'll Miss HimNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersTannehill: Requiem For A QuarterbackWhatever Happened to Kenyan Drake? NFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownNFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 06, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 29.6%; plus Fins beat Jets 13-6 behind big defense, with my new column from game; also, latest Hot Button Top 10, NFL Week 9 picks, your most-disappointing-team verdict (landslide!) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5. Latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results are in. Find 'em in the previous blogpost. They ain't pretty. 2) Football season means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose to Duke with CSM poll, Biggest Disappointment Poll, NFL Week 9 picks, other state Collball & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

My Dolphins-Jets game column: From the stadium and the lockerroom Sunday, visit Dolphins Win, But Under Cloud, Not Rainbow.

Select other recent columns: Time For Faith In Richt, And Patience. And Moving Beyond Tannehill Smart But Not Easy For Dolphins. Also: Dolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To Love (fans vent). Snakebit Adam (luckless Adam Gase). Family Tradition (N'Kosi Perry's $$$ video). And Victory-y, Miami! (Marlins sign Victor Victor Mesa).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 29.6%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 29.6 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 13-6 home victory over the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 5-4. 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 7 a.m. today/Tuesday. (The DSM also takes place on our Twitter site @gregcote. The approval rate there was 32%).

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

Next poll: Nov. 11 following game at Green Bay.

G9: DOLPHINS 13, N.Y. JETS 6: BIG DEFENSE OVERCOMES LITTLE OFFENSE FOR MIAMI: Postgame thoughts? How about an entire game column! Visit Dolphins Win, But Under Cloud, Not Rainbow ..... Halftime thoughts: The Jets offense has been just the cure for Miami's defensive woes that we imagined. Miami has allowed only 117 total yards in the first half, while its own offense has generated only 134. In sum, 3 field goals, 8 punts, 1 lousy game thus far ..... Original post: The Jets won their season opener — big — and Sam Darnold was the mayor of Gotham. The NyjmiaDolphins started out 3-0 and Ryan Tannehill was back and better than ever. What the hell happened!? Rhetorical question. The NFL happened. Darnold’s rookie learning curve kicked in; he doesn’t get much help and the Planes (led by Dead Man Coaching Todd Bowles) have averaged a meager 13.6 points in their five losses at 3-5. And Miami continues to wait for Tannehill’s return from a shoulder injury like Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot. Godot never showed. Tannehill might, someday, meanwhile we get a fourth straight game of Brock Osweiler. Brockvember? (Who else works a 1950s Samuel Beckett play into an NFL pick, by the way? You’re welcome!). The fact the home team here has a better record at 4-4 yet is only favored by a bare-bones 3 points verifies how little bettors believe in Miami. I get that. At the same time, what better salve for the Fins’ colossal downturn in defensive success than a sincerely bad NYJ offense? Miami beat the Stinkin’ Jets 20-12 in Week 2 and I’d imagine a similar score, and result. Jets dissolve into a puddle on the road and Miami has won five of its past seven division home games. So let’s make it a venue call fortified by the belief Miami’s defense cannot possibly be worse than we’ve seen lately. Dolfans, prepare to step inside off of that high ledge because the Jets are about to “L-O-S-E, lose!” My pick: Dolphins, 23-16.

Visit Week 9 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. 

POLL RESULT: CANES FOOTBALL IS BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: We asked (and this was mostly before Saturday's UM loss to Duke) what major South Florida sports team is the most disappointing to you right now? Your verdict: 47.30 percent--

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM falls at home to Duke for 3rd straight loss: Once 5-1 and ranked, UM is now 5-4 following Saturday's rain-drenched 20-12 loss at home to Duke. Canes were 9 1/2-point favorites but were doomed by two key lost fumbles. Or three, if you count Mark Richt's fumbling of his quarterback situation.

2. DOLPHINS: Big defense helps Stumblin' Fins get past Stinkin' Jets: Miami is 5-4 after Sunday's 13-6 home win over the Stinkin' Jets. Based on low preseason expectations this is not bad. Based on a 3-0 start, sputtering offense and Brock Osweiler ... not so good.

3. UM HOOPS: Hurricanes men open play this Friday: Jim Larranaga's unranked (but receiving votes) UM men open their season this Friday vs. Lehigh. Canes have no freshmen on roster, the fallout of recruiting damage from last year's implication in that FBI probe into corruption in the sport -- one that has found Larranaga and the program not found guilty of anything yet sullied. Katie Meier's UM women, ranked No. 25, open on Tuesday at FIU.

4. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Kentucky-Duke tops marquee as season opens: No. 2-ranked Kentucky faces No. 4 Duke and 1-Kansas plays 10-Michigan State as the men's college basketball season rolls out with a bang this Tuesday. Now if we can keep attention on the court this year and away from the shady dealings of Adidas executives and teams on the take, we'll be OK.

5. HEAT: Slumping Miami drops third straight: The Heat is 3-5 after a third straight loss last night in Atlanta despite Josh Richardson's 32 points. Miami is at Detroit Monday night then home for four. And if you haven't circled it in red on the calendar yet: Heat host LeBron's Lakers Nov. 18.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Shakeup ahead in CFP top four: Alabama and Clemson solidified their 1-2 spots in the College Football Playoff ranking with huge wins Saturday -- 'Bama's at the expense of No. 3 LSU. Watch Notre Dame and Michigan hike up to 3-4 in the new rankings, with the Tigers now on the outside. 

7. MLB: Hey big spenders, free agency now underway: It officially began on Saturday, with the Nationals' Bryce Harper and Dodgers' Manny Machado seen as the big two big prizes. Free agency involves big spending by teams willing to put their wallets where there hopes are. Meaning we'll likely hear crickets from the Marlins.

8. PANTHERS: Luongo back as Cats split games in Finland: Panthers are now 3-8 on the season after splitting two games with Winnipeg in NHL Global Series in Helsinki, Finland. Games resume Thursday vs. Edmonton here with goalie Roberto Luongo finally back healthy again.

9. SHULA BOWL: FAU stuns FIU in rivalry renewal: FIU was home, favored and having a better season. FAU was the visitor, the underdog and having a relatively lousy season. There was every reason to imagine Butch Davis smiling at the end, not Lane Kiffin. Final: FAU, 49-14. 

10. ELECTION DAY: Mid-term election are Tuesday. Vote!: Do your civic duty as an American citizen. Go out and vote for the candidate of my choice!

Missing the HB10 cut: Sure the Canes lost again, but Florida and FSU also lost Saturday. What's that they say about misery? ..... The World Series trophy was damaged by a thrown full can of beer during the Red Sox championship parade. That's terrible. Talk about a waste of beer! ..... Golfers beginning in 2019 may opt to putt with the flagstick in, and at least one, Bryson DeChambeau, says he will. I'd be more impressed if he planned to putt with the flagstick itself ..... American star Simone Biles dominated at the world gymnastics championships in Qatar despite suffering from kidney stones. Which sounds impossible, by the way ..... With only 14 days until NASCAR finale at Homestead, Joey Logano is only driver who's locked into Championship Four ..... ESPN analyst Tim Tebow criticized Maryland for firing scandalized football coach D.J. Durkin. "Not even I can agree with Timmy on that one," said God ..... Breeders' Cup ran Saturday at Churchill Downs. It's the one horse race that folks who only care about the Triple Crown races might actually watch ..... Major League Soccer playoffs are down to the final eight. Is Inter Miami sending a scout, David Beckham? ..... After months of blessed quiet, public buffoon LaVar Ball reemerged to say he could coach the Lakers with his "eyes shut." I'd prefer he try anything with his mouth shut ..... Update: Countdown now 2,787 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: Wade Reminds Us Why We'll Miss HimNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersTannehill: Requiem For A QuarterbackWhatever Happened to Kenyan Drake? NFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownNFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 29, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 this week and what else falls where; plus Red Sox reign, it-ain't-easy-being-a-Dolfan column, NFL Week 8 picks & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, OCTOBER 29. Check out the latest Canesfan and Dolfan postgame satisfaction polls at CSM and DSM. Warning. They're both both depressing. 2) Homer Me the Red Sox fan is presently staging a one-man championship parade in his house. Go Saaawx! 3) Football season means it's the right time to delight Dolfans you know with our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose at Boston College with CSM poll, it-ain't-easy-being-a-Dolfan column, other state Collball & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It ain't easy being a Dolfan: Hundreds of Miami Dolphins fans told me what it's like to be Dolfan. I bet some of y'all can relate. Their/your answers informed my latest column. To read the venting and frustration, visit Dolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To Love.

NFL Week 8 picks: We bull's-eyed Thursday night's Dolphins loss in Houston. For all of Sunday's (and tonight's) picks, visit Week 8 Gems.

Other most recent stuff: On Dolphins head coach: Snakebit Adam. On N'Kosi Perry's lap-cash video: Family Tradition. And on Marlins signing Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Jr.: Victory-y, Miami! 

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins fall in Houston as defense collapses again: The 42-23 Thursday night loss at Houston dropped Miami (once 3-0) to an even 4-4 at midseason. However, other than Ryan Tannehill still being out, the recent embarrassing defensive collapse, the spate of injuries and palpable fan dissatisfaction, indications are all is well!

2. HURRICANES: Slumping UM loses at Boston College: UM's 27-14 Friday night loss at Boston College found neither Malik Rosier nor the defense playing particularly well. Canes now 5-3 after the second straight loss, with hopes fading sharply for a return to ACC title game. Mark Richt's third season in the Gables is looking like regression.

3. MLB: Dominant Red Sox roll to World Series championship!: Boston bounced the Dodgers in five games, clinching last night with a home run barrage in L.A. -- the Red Sox's only loss that record-setting 18-inning, 7-hours-plus marathon on Friday. Red Sox fans weren't sure whether to want the clincher back at Fenway or to get it over with last night -- a happy dilemma indeed.

4. HEAT: Miami above .500 for first time: Heat's 120-111 home win over Portland has Miami 3-2 and on good side of .500 for first time in the young NBA season. Dwyane Wade's 18 in first half and Goran Dragic's 28 total did the heavy lifting. Oh, and Chris Bosh earlier made his first return to arena since his medical departure. It was a love-fest, a hug-in! The soundtrack of the visual would have been the whole crowd singing Kumbaya!

5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Season's first CFP ranking on deck: First College Football Playoff pecking order comes out Tuesday, with the top four all that matters. Alabama-Clemson-Notre Dame should be a clear, perfunctory top three, but then it gets interesting. Call it The Fight For Fourth.

6. GATORS: Florida's big chance goes awry vs. Georgia: It was No. 9 Gators vs. No, 7 Bulldogs in neutral Jacksonville Saturday and it was close ... and then it wasn't. Georgia pulled away and won 36-17, dropping UF's season from potentially special to shades of pretty good.

7. PANTHERS: Struggling Cats headed for pair in Finland: With Saturday's 3-2 loss at New Jersey the Panthers have now won only two of their first nine games, five of them going to overtime or shootouts. Florida now faces Winnipeg two in a row in Helsinki, Finland, as part of NHL's Global Series this Thursday and Friday. Maybe a break from North America will do the Cats good.

8. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes men's hoops still embroiled in FBI mess: FBI wiretaps into college basketball corruption include Adidas reps discussing whether to divert a top recruit from Arizona to UM, an Adidas school. Neither Jim Larranaga or his program have been implicated in wrongdoing, but it's still an unwanted cloud as his Hurricanes' Nov. 9 season opener nears.

9. SOCCER: It was an unusual El Clasico Sunday: Real Madrid at Barcelona in La Liga play on Sunday was the 238th El Clasico but the first in more than a decade featuring neither Cristiano Ronaldo (who left Madrid for Juventus over the summer) nor Lionel Messi (out injured for Barca with a fractured arm). Call it El Clasico Reducido. And a rout: Barca, 5-1.

10. FIU: ButchCats win, get bowl-eligible: FIU is 6-2 and bowl-eligible after a 38-17 rout at Western Kentucky. Last year FAU's Lane Kiffin dwarfed FIU's Butch Davis in attention among the first-year coaches. This year so far: Lane Train off the rails and it's all ButchCats.

Missing the HB10 cut: Halloween is Wednesday. I wanted a costume nobody else would have, so I'm dressing up as someone who isn't the least bit worried that America is going insane ..... That reminds me: Robert D. Bowers and Cesar Sayoc, your reservations in Hell are confirmed ..... Four Jaguars reportedly tried to skip out on a $64,000 bar tab in London. I'm guessing they went top-shelf? ..... LeBron wins! Finally, after the Lakers' 0-3 start ..... Marlins' recently signed young Cuban star, Victor Victor Mesa, is relentlessly active on social media. If his hitting is as productive as his Tweeting, Fish fans will be in for a treat ..... Countdown now 21 days 'til NASCAR season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway ..... Update: Countdown now 2,794 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: When the Dolphins D Was A Letter GradeWade Reminds Us Why We'll Miss HimNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersTannehill: Requiem For A QuarterbackKid QB Passes His Big TestWhatever Happened to Kenyan Drake? NFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownNFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 02, 2018

LeBron James has surpassed Michael Jordan. Agree? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus moral reckoning in sports (my new column), your NBA Finals verdict on who WILL win and who you WANT, The List (NBA title droughts), where 2 Canes are slotted in Draft & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 2. Welcome, June. So good  to see you again. What's it been, a year? 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals polls, latest in The Dolphins Disconnect, newest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

KaepLatest column: Sports were simple, once. No more: Kneeling protests during the national anthem continue a polarizing NFL controversy. A soccer star refuses to join the U.S. Women's National Team rather than wear an LGBT Pride Month patch. An NBA coach in the heart of Texas is outspokenly anti-Trump. Dick's Sporting Goods stops selling assault rifles. Publix donates to a candidate who is pro-NRA. More and more, who we cheer for in sports, where we shop -- everything -- now requires a moral reckoning. This is my latest column. To read, click When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & Games.

ThetwoI SAY LEBRON OVER MICHEAL. AGREE? YOUR TURN. VOTE NOW: [Update: Golden State takes Game 1 in overtime because LeBron was held to only 51 points] In my recent column I propose that, win or lose in the NBA Finals now underway, LeBron James has now surpassed Michael Jordan as the greatest player ever. Click The King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael to read the column and see the reasons why I think what I do. Of course many may disagree. Old habits die hard, and Jordan-as-unassailable is a stubborn one. The ring-count as the argument-ending bottom line also is an idea that dies hard. The response to the column certainly has been both polarizing and voluminous, based on my Twitter feed and emails, so I figured I'd offer one more outlet for your thoughts: this blogpoll. The premise is that one of these guys is the best ever, although those holding out for somebody else (Kobe fans are loyal; I give them that) can have their say, too. Ready? Vote:

Other most recent columns: Hell Week For Goodell / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / NBA Rolling A Pair of 7s / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

POLL RESULT: WARRIORS WIN IN LANDSLIDE, BUT YOU WANT UNDERDOG CAVALIERS: We asked before the series began, "Which team do you believe WILL win the 2018 NBA Finals?" and it was 85.9 percent Golden State to only 14.1% Cleveland. But we also asked, "Which team do you WANT to win the 2018 NBA Finals?" and it flipped to 55.2% for the underdog Cavaliers vs. 44.8% for the heavily favored Warriors. (Golden State took Game 1 in overtime 124-114 despite LeBron James' 51 points).

TWO CANES PEGGED FOR NBA DRAFT: Former Miami Hurricanes Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown both make it in ESPN's latest two-round mock selections for the June 21 NBA Draft. Walker is projected to go in the first round, 13th overall, to Phoenix. Brown is pegged to go in the second round, 36th overall, to New York. Both are shooting guards. One reason beyond potential that Walker is more highly regarded? At 19 he is two years and three months younger than Brown. (The Heat don't have a pick in this year's draft, so at least Miami fans have some reason to watch).

THE LIST: LONGEST NBA CHAMPIONSHIP WAITS: Defending champion Golden State and 2016 champ Cleveland make this the shortest possible title-wait of any possible NBA Finals matchup. Here are the five NBA fandoms that have waited the longest to cheer another champion, from among those cities that have previously won:

Fans                              Drought        Last won

Milwaukee Bucks             47                1971

New York Knicks              45                1973

Portland Trail Blazers      41                1977

Washington Bullets          40                1978

Philadelphia 76ers          35                 1983

Note: The five fan bases waiting the longest for their first championship parade are Atlanta Hawks (50 seasons), Phoenix Suns (50), Indiana Pacers (48), Denver Nuggets (42) and Utah Jazz (39).

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 12, 2018

Heat among biggest underdogs in 2018 NBA playoffs. Quantifying that here; plus the British Virgin Islands Marlins (column), latest Back In My Day video, Canes in NBA Draft, updated 4-Man Outfield (Brinson sinking) & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, APRIL 12. Surprise and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your Heat playoff-opponent verdict, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

UNION JACKLatest column: Meet the British Virgin Islands Marlins!: Not sure which is more embarrassing: A team that traded away its best players in a salary dump and has the record to prove it. Or a team based in Miami claiming in court it's a corporate citizen of the British Virgin Islands. You have them both in the Marlins! We have a little fun in our latest column. To read, click: Buy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack. Other most recent columns: Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / For Heat, 1 Team to Avoid / The Case For Gronk to Dolphins / And Dave Shula Goes Home Again.

HeatsixersOUCH: QUANTIFYING WHY HEAT ARE AMONG BIGGEST UNDERDOGS IN 2018 NBA PLAYOFFS: It could be that the Philadelphia 76ers are sailing into the NBA playoffs on a league-leading 16-game winning streak. Or it could be simply that nobody thinks the Miami Heat Underdogsare all that good. The combo has Miami among the biggest underdogs in the 16-team playoffs that begin this weekend, with Heat-Sixers Game 1 Saturday night in Philly. Here we rank the 16 teams based on percentage likelihood of advancing past the first round, according to ESPN's Basketball Power Index. The second column has the same percentage according to FiveThirtyEight.com, and the third column has Bovada's betting odds against that team winning the NBA title. By those three measures the Heat are ranked tied for 13th, 14th and 16th of 16 teams:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Team                                  ESPN BPI        FiveThirtyEight       Bovada

Toronto Raptors                     88%                 91%                      +850

Philadelphia 76ers                  78%                88%                      +1500

Boston Celtics                        78%                73%                      +7000

Cleveland Cavaliers                62%                72%                       +650

Indiana Pacers                       38%                28%                       +10000

Milwaukee Bucks                    22%                27%                      +10000

Miami Heat                            22%                12%                      +12500

Washington Wizards               12%                  9%                      +10000

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Team                                  ESPN BPI        FiveThirtyEight       Bovada

Houston Rockets                    88%                 92%                      +160

Golden State Warriors            76%                 56%                      +135

Portland Trail Blazers             63%                 58%                     +3300

Oklahoma City Thunder          53%                 52%                     +2500

Utah Jazz                              47%                 48%                     +4500 

New Orleans Pelicans             37%                 42%                     +10000

San Antonio Spurs                  24%                 44%                     +6000

Minnesota Timberwolves        12%                  8%                      +9000

NBA DRAFT WILL BE DULL FOR HEAT ... BUT NOT FOR CANES: The upcoming June 21 NBA Draft will be a dull one for Heat fans, but likely not for Hurricanes fans who'll be lamenting the one (two, actually) that got away. Because of previous trades the Heat will have neither a first- or second-round pick for only the sixth time in franchise history. But, even more rare: the LWALKERHurricanes, who've had only four first-round picks ever (list below), could have two this year for the first time. Lonnie Walker (pictured) and Bruce Brown both declared early for the draft. With an ESPN mock draft as a gauge, Walker is a certain first-rounder (projected 14th overall) and Brown is a maybe first-rounder (projected 27th). Walker is 15th and Brown 28th in Sports Illustrated's Top 80 prospects list. Says SI of Walker: "It was an uneven freshman season from Walker, who dealt with a meniscus tear over the summer, eventually overcame the setback and had a good stretch in conference play, but still cut an underwhelming figure at times. On pure talent and potential, he’s worthy of a lottery pick. His confidence has been all over the place, but he’s a terrific athlete with a good build and nice-looking jumper, and has the potential to become a useful defender. There’s a case for Walker to return to school, play a full, healthy season and fight for a top 10 spot in a weaker 2019 draft. But he‘s looking at guaranteed money if he goes now." SI on Brown: "After entering the season as a fringe lottery pick, Brown ended up in about the worst-case scenario: he was underwhelming through the end of January, then missed the rest of the season with a foot injury. Given he was already old for his class, the lack of progression was frustrating. His athleticism, size and defensive-minded game remain good selling points for a combo guard, but he needs to convince people his three-point shooting can swing closer to last season (34.7%) than this year’s poor 26.7% mark. He’s still an interesting complementary player, and will have a chance to redeem himself in the pre-draft process." Both guards are flawed prospects, but together they amount to a huge loss for Jim Larranaga's Canes.

THE LIST: FIRST-ROUND HURRICANES: UM has had only four first-round picks in the NBA Draft, and number that should grow to five (Lonnie Walker) and could grow to six (Bruce Brown). The exclusive company they'd join, in chronological order:

Year      Player                Overall     NBA career

1965     Rick Barry             2nd        10 years, 23.2 ppg, Hall of Fame

1999     Tim James           25th        3 years, 1.6 ppg

2002     John Salmons       26th        13 years, 9.3 ppg

2013     Shane Larkin        18th        4 years, 4.3 ppg (active)

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON NOT HITING HIS WEIGHT. AND HE'S REALLY SKINNY: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Early days, but Stanton and Brinson are really struggling, while Yelich remains sidelined by an oblique (abdominal) issue. The latest, entering Wednesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers        .984   6   26    6  10    5    2-0-1      .385

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees     .826  12  51    7  12   10   3-1-3      .235

2. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .712   12  52    4  16    7    2-0-1      .308

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .329   12  50    3   7    1    0-0-0      .140

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': SEVEN RULES!: Here's our newest Back In My Day, which debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. Parental warning: Includes reference to the lost art of towel-snapping:

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 to APSE. Here are our 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.

Select additional columns: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / 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: Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen 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 21, 2018

Who's next? Which of South Florida's Big 7 teams is closest to being champion? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Miami Open column on Serena loss, latest Back In My Day video (Handwriting!), Hurricanes QBs & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21. We'll be back with our NCAA Bracket updates when the Madness resumes on Thursday. 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): Hot Button Top 10, my NCAA Bracket update, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner revealed & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

New: Column from Miami Open on today's loss by Serena Williams: To read, click Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company.

Other most recent columns: On Hurricanes' QB battle, state of Dolphins: The most intriguing question in South Florida sports right now is whether Malik Rosier will hold on to the Miami Hurricanes' starting quarterback  job against very tough competition. We have begun to find out as Tuesday opened a month of spring practice under the aegis of third-year coach Mark Richt. I explore the QB situation in my latest column after speaking with Richt just before spring sprang. To read that column click Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation. Our previous column was on the offseason struggles of Miami's pro football team. To read that one click Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

WhoWHO'S UP? WHICH OF OUR BIG SPORTS TEAM WILL BE CHAMPION NEXT?: We like to do this poll every year or two (or when we think of it) as a pulse-read on how South Florida sports fans are feeling about their teams. The presumption behind is that we all might have a favorite team but nobody is a fan of only one sport. Chances are you have at least a casual awareness of even the teams you care about least. Anyway, usually this poll involves only what I call our Big Five teams -- the four main pro teams plus Hurricanes football. This time I've expanded by two,adding Canes men's basketball and David Beckham's Miami Major League Soccer franchise set to kick off in 2020. Vote as honestly as you are able, not for the team you hope wins the next championship, but for the team you genuinely feel is most likely to. Ready? Do it.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': HANDWRITING!: Our latest Back In My Day the gradual extinction of handwriting as now it's all emails and texts. Video includes the rare use of  a prop on the dismount:

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing 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 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