May 24, 2018

NFL to kneelers: Protest, but not where we can see you. My latest column; plus sizable uptick in support for Tannehill, Jim Morris' last game (maybe) & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, MAY 24. Flabbergast and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill at crossroads with poll, Canes baseball in ACC tourney, newest Back In My Day video, The List (richest U.S. zip codes) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Jim Morris' happy ending may rest on tonight: Miami Hurricanes baseball faces Clemson tonight in the second round of the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C. It may or may not be the final game ever for retiring UM coach Jim Morris. There is no guarantee but some belief that a Canes win tonight will earn an invite to the NCAA Tournament and a shot at reaching the College World Series in Omaha, while a loss tonight could render that happy ending a longshot for Morris and UM.

ProtestNFL'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 ImpatienceHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim MorrisNBA Rolling A Pair of 7sSupremes Got It Right On Sports BettingConfessions of a Lifelong DolfanCrossing 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:

TannyAnswer                2016        Now

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 COLUMNSThe 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 23, 2018

Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill at crossroads: What's your confidence level in him? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus new Back In My Day video (Superheroes!), Canes win in ACCs, The List (richest U.S. zip codes; we're No. 1) & more

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

Doluni1) It's TUESDAY, MAY 22. A site called thesportsdrop.com has redesigned every NFL team's uniform. Its new Dolphins uni is pictured at right; click on image to see a larger version. Do you hate it almost as much as I do? 2) Flabbergast and thrill the Dolfans in your life with 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): Hot Button Top 10, The List (NBA Game 7s), 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

RtAND THE CROSSROADS SEASON OF RYAN TANNEHILL BEGINS: For the first time since a knee injury last August erased his entire season, Ryan Tannehill is expected back on a Dolphins practice field as the team begins its offseason work with practices today through Thursday. Thus begins a crossroads season in which no NFL starting quarterback has more pressure on him than Tannehill -- or more reason for being motivated. I discuss why in my latest column; click on Tannehill's Defining Season to read in full. I also write about the distinct disconnect between the faith Adam Gase has in Tannehill and the low regard for the QB elsewhere. I'm not even sure how much Dolfans back Tannehill; hence, this poll. We've taken several Tannehill-related blogpolls over the years, but none asking this exact question since October 2016, so we'll be interested to compare results. Vote in the new poll now.

Other most recent columns: On Derek Jeter, Jim Morris, NBA playoffs and more: A Solution To Jeter's ImpatienceHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim MorrisNBA Rolling A Pair of 7sAlso: Supremes Got It Right On Sports BettingConfessions of a Lifelong DolfanAdam Gase Places His Bets and Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

JimmCAN CANES BASEBALL FORGE A HAPPY ENDING FOR JIM MORRIS?: Morris' 25th and last season as UM coach before retiring has not been a great one, now at 28-25. But that includes 11 wins in a row including a pair against Boston College in Morris' final home games to end the regular season, and then beating Notre Dame Tuesday night in UM's opener in the ACC Tournament in Durham N.C. The Canes next face No. 5-ranked Clemson Thursday night. It might take Miami beating Clemson to reach the ACC championship game in order to earn an invite to the NCAA Tournament. Might take an ACC championship to assure that. Last year UM narrowly missed an NCAA invite to end a record 44-year streak of making the national playoffs. Can they sneak in and write a proper ending for Morris (pictured)? The answer is emerging. Thursday night may tell.

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY' VIDEO: SUPERHEROES!: Longing for the days when Superman and Batman were enough, in our new BIMD video that debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews: 

FisherTHE LIST: AMERICA'S RICHEST ZIP CODES, AND LOOK WHO'S NO. 1!: Bloomberg just listed the richest U.S. zip codes by region, and we extrapolated from those lists to assemble the overall top-10 richest American zip codes. And look what's No. 1, and by a landslide. FYI, the 33109 zip in Miami Beach is Fisher Island (pictured). Just for laughs I looked up that zip on Zillow. The first property I saw listed was a condo selling for $14.9 million. List here is based on AGI, or average household adjusted gross income:

City, state, zip                                    Average AGI

1. Miami Beach, FL 33109                    $2,543,100

2. Atherton, CA 94027                           1,496,500

3. Harrison, NY 10577                              976,200

4. Gladwyne, PA 19035                             957.200

5. Kenilworth, IL 60043                            861,000

6. Weston, MA 02493                               860,400

7. Far Hills, NJ 07931                               747.200

8. Moose Wilson Road, WY 83014              699,200

9. Medina, WA 98039                               691,800

10. Greenwich, CT 06878                         661,500

Note: Other zip codes over $500,000, in order, are in Houston TX, Charlotte NC, Sea Island GA and Ladue MO.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 21, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See the surprise at No. 1 and what else falls where; plus links to latest columns, 4-Man Outfield (updated), The List (NBA Game 7s) & more

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

Chris1) It's MONDAY, MAY 21. Happy birthday on Monday to Christopher (pictured), a.k.a. Fat Chris, Fast Chris, Stats & Info and more. Love you, kid! #FirstBorninIt 2) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with 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): Farewell Jim Morris, solving Jeter's problem, NBA playoffs chasing history, The List (longest-serving coaches), your verdict on legalized sports betting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Jeter's Marlins, Jim Morris' farewell, NBA playoffs, more: A Solution To Jeter's ImpatienceHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim MorrisNBA Rolling A Pair of 7sAlso: Supremes Got It Right On Sports BettingConfessions of a Lifelong DolfanAdam Gase Places His Bets and Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MAY 20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. UM BASEBALL: ACCs next as Morris waves goodbye to home fans: Hurricanes beat Boston College twice before a Saturday rainout in coach Jim Morris' final homestand before retiring after 25 seasons. UM isn't done yet, though. The Canes (27-25) are headed to the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C., facing Notre Dame Tuesday and then Clemson Thursday. Canes were 2-1 vs. both schools this season. Miami needs a big performance in ACCs for a shot at an NCAA Tournament invite. Morris would end it all back in Omaha if sentiment meant anything. If only...

2. NBA: They're alive! LeBron, Steph lift Cavs, Warriors: Cleveland within 2-1 of Boston in East finals after Saturday's 116-86 LeBron James-fueled win at The Land. Then Golden State made it 2-1 in the West over Houston on Sunday led by Steph Curry. Still thinking my prediction of the NBA's first two 7-game conference finals since 1979 is looking solid. (Um, unless the Warriors keep looking like they did Sunday).

3. GAMBLING: Supreme Court OKs spread of legal sports betting: For Las Vegas and Nevada, the game of monopoly is ending. Soon any state that wishes to may have legalized sports betting, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court ruling this week. Most everybody seems happy with the notable exception of your bookie Vinny Down at the Bar and others to whom taking illicit bets under the table had become a lucrative cottage industry. Sorry, Vin.

4. DOLPHINS: Week offers first full glance at 2018 team: Miami's OTA practices this Tuesday through Thursday will offer a first look at the Dolphins' full 2018 squad as veterans take the field with first-year guys including recent draftees. All eyes will be on quarterback Ryan Tannehill as he returns gingerly from last summer's knee injury that shelved him all season. Translated: Any defender who forgets and accidentally tackles Tannehill will be pilloried.

5. MARLINS: Jeter: "I'm not a patient man": Fire-Sale Fish are 17-29 after giving up six runs in bottom of ninth to wrap up Braves series yesterday and now visit Mets for three in a six-game road trip. Meantime boss Derek Jeter says he is impatient to win. OK, do something about it, chief. Spend money to augment your ground-up business model.

6. NHL: Vegas in Finals, Tampa Bay close: Vegas won again Sunday to eliminated Winnipeg 4-1 in the West and reach the Stanley Cup Finals as an expansion team. Tampa Bay Lightning is up 3-2 over Washington in the East finals after a third straight series win Saturday night, and tries to clinch today. Looming: One of the most nontraditional Stanley Cup Finals on record.

7. HORSE RACING: Justify wins Preakness: Kentucky Derby winner Justify predictably was a clear betting favorite for this coming Saturday's 143rd Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, the second leg of the thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, and won as expected, though barely. Triple Crown, anyone? Other top contenders Saturday included Good Magic and Greg's Lobos. OK I made up that last one.

8. SOCCER: Prep on for Real Madrid, Liverpool: A Spanish giant and an iconic English club prepare to go at it this coming Saturday for the UEFA Champions League title in Kiev, Ukraine. No word yet whether Vladimir Putin and Russia will attempt to exert influence and fix the result of the election soccer match.

9. TENNIS: Nadal, Serena center-stage as French Open nears: Year's second tennis major opens next Sunday at Roland-Garros in Paris, with Rafael Nadal the clear men's betting favorite and Simona Halep out front of a bunched women's field. Serena Williams, on the comeback from maternity leave and childbirth, is among top five women's faves. You get the feeling Serena might still be playing when her newborn daughter starts dominating in juniors.

10. ROYALTY: Harry and Meghan tie the royal knot: Princess Harry and Meghan Markle wed Saturday in a Royal Wedding that enthralled Great Britain and much of the world, according to my wife, who was glued to the ceremony and pomp. First offspring due date: Nine months from last night.

Missing the HB10 cut: The men's soccer World Cup in Russia is now less than one month away. Vladimir Putin has already decided who'll join Russia in the final, but he isn't saying ..... CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed Johnny Manziel. The latest indication Colin Kaepernick may never play again ..... Shaquille O'Neal is selling his Orlando-area mansion for $28 million. One drawback: When you live there, you start mumbling so softly nobody can hear or understand you ..... The Cleveland Browns are on Hard Knocks. Wait, haven't they been for like 30 years? ..... Chuck Liddell is making an MMA comeback. And we care why? ..... UCF coach Scott Frost and Nick Saban keep jabbing each other over UCF's national-champion claims. Man, I hate to agree with Saban! ..... Phoenix Suns win NBA draft lottery and No. 1 pick. Wait. They had worst record. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? ..... Answer: Dallas man, 25, arrested for impersonating 17-year-old to join high-school basketball team and relive his glory days. Question: What's a new defintion for 'pathetic'?

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON HITS SLAM BUT STILL LAGSThroughout 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 base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

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

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .872   44 171  32  45   27  10-1-11      .263

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .809   35  138   22  40   19   6-1-5      .290

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .591   41 171  15  40   21   5-0-3      .234

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .510   44  155  11  26   17    2-0-6     .168

THE LIST: NBA CONFERENCE-FINAL GAME 7S: Here are the five most recent full 4-3 series in each conference final, with result and series leading scorer:

Eastern Conference

Year    Result                                           Leading scorer

2013   Miami def. Indiana                         LeBron James (MIA), 29.0      

2012   Miami def. Boston                          LeBron James (MIA), 33.6

2005   Detroit def. Miami                         Dwyane Wade (MIA), 25.8

2001   Philadelphia def. Milwaukee          Allen Iverson (PHI), 30.5 

1998   Chicago def. Indiana                      Michael Jordan (CHI), 31.7

Western Conference

Year    Result                                          Leading scorer

2016   Golden State def. Oklahoma City   Kevin Durant (OKC), 30.0

2002   L.A. Lakers def. Sacramento          Shaquille O'Neal (LAL), 30.3

2000   L.A. Lakers def. Portland               Shaquille O'Neal (LAL), 25.9

1996   Seattle def. Utah                           Karl Malone (UTA), 27.0

1993   Phoenix def. Seattle                      Charles Barkley (PHO), 25.6

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 19, 2018

Our solution to Derek Jeter's impatience (new column); plus Jim Morris' last stand: An ode to retiring Canes baseball coach; also, NBA playoffs chasing history, Miami's all-time most tenured coaches, your verdict on legalized betting & more

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

Wedding1) It's SATURDAY, MAY 19. Happy Wedding Day to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle! Not quite sure why I care about the Royal Family, but strangely I do. 2) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with 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): Should Florida legalize sports betting poll, bold(ish) predictions on LeBron/Tiger/Marlins, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

MorrisTHE LAST (HOME)STAND OF CANES BASEBALL COACH JIM MORRIS: Only Hurricanes baseball legend Ron Fraser and Dolphins icon Don Shula have exceeded Jim Morris' 25 seasons at UM among South Florida's all-time biggest-team coaches (see The List below). Now, weather willing of course, the retiring Morris' final home game is Saturday afternoon vs. Boston College at the campus ballpark. The final home series began Thursday night with a 3-0 UM win and continued Friday with a 4-3 win, making it 10 straight Canes wins to keep alive Miami's hope of making the NCAA Tournament with a record now 27-25. Last season and this one have been a downturn for Canes baseball and Morris. Nevertheless the two-time-champion Morris earned his way out of Fraser's long shadow and stands on his own in UM history, retiring as the fourth-winningest major-school coach in college baseball history. My latest column is an unabashed ode to Morris as he bids farewell. He is the man who would never fill Fraser's -- and yet did. To read the column, click Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris.

MachadoLatest column: A solution to Derek Jeter's impatience: The Marlins' boss said this week he is impatient for the team to be a winner. Guess what, Derek? So are Marlins fans! But Jeter's ground-up, farm system reboot is a slow-fix that will test that patience. To accelerate the process and help assure its success Jeter must do something more. It involves spending. And it should center around two names: Re-signing J.T. Realmuto long term, and going after Manny Machado in free agency after this season. To read my latest column, click A Solution To Jeter's Impatience.

LebronWill this NBA playoffs make history?: Golden State and Houston are giants out West. In the East, LeBron is LeBron. For those reasons I believe both conference finals will go the limit to Game 7, which would be the first time that has happened in the NBA since 1979. To read our latest column,  click NBA Rolling A Pair of 7sAdditional most recent columns: Supremes Got It Right On Sports Betting, Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan, Adam Gase Places His Bets and Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

THE LIST: ALL-TIME MOST TENURED SOUTH FLORIDA MAJOR-TEAM COACHES: In the long history of South Florida's biggest teams -- Miami  Dolphins, Miami Heat, Miami Marlins, Florida Panthers and Miami Hurricanes football, basketball and baseball -- here are the only persons to have served at least 10 seasons as head coach. The man third on the list, Jim Morris, coaches his final home game on Saturday:

Coach, Team                                   Years    Span        W-L Pct.

Ron Fraser, UM baseball                     30      1963-92      .742

Don Shula, Dolphins                           26      1970-95      .659

Jim Morris, UM baseball                     25      1994-18      .698

Ferne Labati, UM w-basketball           17      1988-05      .608

Andy Gustafson, UM football              16      1948-63      .587

Katie Meier, UM w-basketball             13+    2005-          .607

Bruce Hale, UM m-basketball             13      1954-67      .663

Pat Riley, Heat                                     11      1995-08      .535

Erik Spoelstra, Heat                             10+    2008-          .602

Hart Morris, UM m-basketball            10      1938-52      .592

Leonard Hamilton, UM m-basketball  10      1990-00      .495

POLL RESULT: STRONG MAJORITY WANT FLORIDA IN ON LEGALIZED SPORTS BETTING: We asked, "In the wake of this week's Supreme Court ruling, do you hope Florida will be among the states to legalize betting on sports?" And it was 76.81 percent yes, 18.84% no and 4.35% undecided.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 16, 2018

Legalized sports betting in Florida: Yay or nay? Poll. Vote now!; plus latest Back in My Day video (Disappearing Jobs!), confessions of a lifelong Dolfan, bold(ish) predictions on LeBron/Tiger/Marlins & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, MAY 16. Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan, Hot Button Top 10, 4-Man Outfield, your verdict on exporting U.S. games abroad & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

PennantConfessions of a Lifelong Dolfan: I think anyone whose fandom dates to the expansion years, or at least predates Dan Marino, will especially relate to my latest column. In case you missed it, click Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan. I detail the fan I was and how it started. I also write about how that fandom informs the way I think about the team now, a fan's sensibility factoring into the frustration I feel over the prolonged, continuing downturn of the franchise's fortunes. Other most recent columns: Adam Gase Places His Bets / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money / Burden Is On Team, Not Player It Chose.

BettingSHOULD STATE OF FLORIDA EMBRACE LEGALIZED SPORTS BETTING? POLL. VOTE NOW: The Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling yesterday effectively allowed all states to join Nevada in having legalized sports gambling. I think this is a good thing. To read my full latest column, click Supremes Got It Right On Sports Betting. Billions of dollars in underground, illicit money will now be bet above board, out in the open, and closely regulated. New Jersey and a handful of other states are poised to quickly allowing legal bets on all sports. One estimate is that at least half of all states could have legalized gambling within five years. Florida thus far is not among the 20 states that have already initiated some form of gambling-related legislation in anticipation of Monday's ruling. A spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott said Florida would "review the court's ruling." I write in my column that Florida should join the gravy train, but not all agree. I wonder your thoughts. Hence, this poll. Votes welcome.

THREE BOLD(ISH) PREDICTIONS: ON LEBRON, TIGER, MARLINS: 1) LeBron James, after a 15-point whisper of a Game 1 on 5-of-16 shooting in a loss to Boston, will score at least 30 in a resilient Game 2 Cleveland win tonight. 2) Tiger Woods will win the U.S. Open next month, his first major victory in 10 years. And 3) the Miami Marlins will trade catcher J.T. Realmuto for prospects before the July 31 MLB trade deadline. Bold-O-Meter on each prediction: LeBron's big Game 2--Barely Bold; Tiger winning U.S. Open--Pretty Bold; and Fish dealing Realmuto--Barely Bold. Update: Half right on LeBron. Cavs lost last night, but 'Bron popped for 42.

'BACK IN MY DAY': DISAPPEARING JOBS!: Here is the latest BIMD that debuted yesterday on ESPN Radio and ESPNews on the LeBatard Show:

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe 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 recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 14, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No.1 and what else falls where; plus confessions of a lifelong Dolphins fan. My column, with vintage photos from boyhood; also your verdict on U.S. teams playing abroad & more

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

Moms1) It's MONDAY, MAY 14. Hope you moms out there had a lovely Mother's Day! We enjoyed a group brunch at Vienna Cafe and it was terrific. The bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas didn't hurt. 2) By the way, saw James Taylor at the BB&T last week and he was great. A genuine dude and one of the best voices around. 3) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exporting games outside U.S. with poll, Adam Gase's big gamble, latest Back In My Day, state sports' Twitter reach, your inspiring-most-optimism verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

"Happy birthday, Michael! Love you!," said father Greg Cote to his youngest son.

Auer GrieseCONFESSIONS OF A LIFELONG DOLPHINS FAN ... ME: Readers who find me too critical of the Dolphins may find it surprising, but I grew up a diehard fan of the team. I am still a Dolphins fan at the core. I don't think you ever outgrow what you loved as a kid, and what hooked you on Program Pennantsports. I just happen to have grown up to be a Miami Herald sports columnist who writes about the team he adored as a boy. This is the topic of my very unusual, very personal latest column. To read it in full, click Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan. I think anybody whose fandom dates to the expansion years, or at least predates Dan Marino, will especially relate. I detail the fan I was and how it started. The four photos here harken to those early days. Left to right: The program from the team's first-ever home game, an exhibition in August 1966; a Dolphins pennant identical to the white one that hung on my bedroom wall; a (very) young Bob Griese appearing in a magazine ad for Velda Farms milk; and a Joe Auer Royal Castle player card. In the column I also write about how that fandom informs the way I think about the team now, a fan's sensibility factoring into the frustration I feel over the prolonged, continuing downturn of the franchise's fortunes.

Other most recent columns: Adam Gase Places His Bets / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money / Burden Is On Team, Not Player It Chose.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays (and back after a week's hiatus), 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. NBA: LeBron struggles in Game 1 loss at Celtics: LeBron James may have expected the customary warm greeting from kind Boston fans Sunday (!), but bet he didn't expect a humbling 15-point game on 5-for-16 shooting  as the Cavaliers gor routed 108-83 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference best-of-seven finals. Houston and Golden State open the Western finals tonight. The pretenders (talking to you, Toronto and Philly) are back on the couch and the NBA has the Final Four we all figured would happen while teams like the Heat ponder how to get that good.

2. DOLPHINS: Rookie minicamp begins offseason work: Dolphins on Saturday completed a two-day rookie indoctrination for first-year guys led by top  draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick. Full team practice days happened May 22-24 and 29-31 with a June 5-7 mandatory minicamp ahead of full training camp. Coach Adam Gase likes his team. Others, not so much, with ESPN's No. 30 ranking of Miami indicative of low regard from the outside. Somebody's wrong here.

3. MARLINS: Fish back to earth, still in cellar: After a brief hot streak the Fire-Sale Fish are 14-26 after Sunday's loss as a seven-game homestand continues Tuesday vs. the Dodgers. One Marlin player looking through rose-colored shades said the other day Miami would "continue to shock the world." Continue? When are they going to start!? 

4. NHL: Capitals, Jets out front in final four: While the Panthers watch, the W's have it so far in NHL's Eastern and Western conference finals, with Washington up 2-0 over Tampa Bay and Winnipeg up 1-0 over Vegas. From the West will come the more compelling story, with either Winnipeg having a shot to win Canada's first Stanley Cup since 1993 or Vegas making the Finals as an expansion team.

5. GOLF: Simpson wins Players with ease: At The Players Championship outside Jacksonville, golf's fifth major to some, Tiger Woods shot 65-69 on the weekend. That's the good news, Tigerheads. The bad? He finished seven shots off the lead because Webb Simpson ran away with the damned tournament, winning by four strokes. 

6. MLB: Yankees-Red Sox headed for London: The scourge of a trend -- American teams exporting meaningful games abroad -- crossed a line this week when MLB announced the Yankees and Red Sox would play two regular season games in London in 2019. The crown-jewel rivalry of America's Pastime should be played in Boston or Da Bronx. Period. Am I alone on that?

7. UM BASEBALL: Hot Canes win eighth in a row!: The once-sinking Hurricanes are now 25-25 and on a season-best eight-game winning streak after completing a series sweep Sunday at Virginia Tech. If Canes continue to finish strong and then impress in the upcoming ACC Tournament, they may have a chance to sneak into an NCAA regional after all in Jim Morris' final season.

8. SOCCER: Real Madrid, Liverpool reach big final: Club titans Real Madrid and Liverpool will meet May 26 in Kiev, Ukraine for the UEFA Champions League crown after both won semifinals. The Spain vs. England final reprises the same matchup from 1981, won 1-nil by Liverpool. Real Madrid is the (very slight) favorite this time.

9. HORSE RACING: Justify readies for Preakness: Countdown five days 'til Saturday's 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, and Kentucky Derby winner Justify is an early 1-2 betting favorite to make it two-thirds of the way to thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown. What's more impressive: A horse winning a Triple Crown? Or Mr. Ed being able to talk?

10. MOTHER'S DAY: Happy your-day to all the great Moms!: Love and respect and best wishes to all of the great Moms out there. Not to the lousy ones who never shoulda had kids. But to  the great ones! Hope y'all had a wonderful day.

 Missing the HB10 cut: The Hot Button Top 10 is happy to be back after a holiday last week in Montreal spent soaking up the history and culture and mostly drinking beer ..... The NBA draft lottery is this Tuesday. Agents are already counting their money ..... Albert Pujols collected his 3,000th hit. It's axiomatic. The more who do it, the less special it becomes ..... Amanda Nunes retained her bantamweight title by whuppin' Raquel Pennington in UFC 224 last night in Rio de Janeiro. Or, UFC CCXXIV to our Roman readers.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': STANTON SURGINGThroughout 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 base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

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

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .855   40 155  28  39   26   9-1-10      .252

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .783   29  115   17  33   14   5-1-3      .287

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .658   36 151  12  40   20   5-0-3      .265

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .522   38  134  10  23   13    2-0-5     .172

POLL RESULT: MOST AGAINST EXPORTING AMERICAN GAMES ABROAD: We asked, "With Yankees-Red Sox in London next year the latest example, what best represents your view of U.S. sports leagues playing meaningful games in foreign countries?" Your verdict: 55.38 percent against it, 32.31% for it, 7.69% were for it but think it's gone overboard, and 4.62% undecided.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe 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 recent columns: MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 11, 2018

The Gambler: Adam Gase all in and betting big. My new column; plus Yankees-Red Sox in London poll, latest BIMD (Receipts!), Twitter reach of state's pro teams, Dolphins rookie minicamp, your verdict on our Big Four team inspiring most optimism & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, MAY 11. Mother's Day reminder, fellas. It's Sunday. Remember the one person who gave you that certain lil' gift called life. 2) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with 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): Our return from Montreal, Big Four optimism poll, your Dolphins QB-position verdict, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GaseTHE GAMBLER: DOLPHINS' ADAM GASE IS ALL IN AND BETTING BIG: Miami's third-year coach is betting big that lockerroom culture is worth more than Pro Bowl talent. He is all in on Ryan Tannehill (again). He is betting on himself, on his gut feeling and instinct. It could get the Dolphins back in the playoffs. It could cost him his job. I explore all of this in my new column. to read it, click Adam Gase Places His Bets. (My previous column was pegged to Dolphins rookie minicamp happening today and Saturday. All eyes will be on top pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, but all the pressure is on the Dolphins to have made the right choice with him. We explore the franchise's spotty record with picks this high, and why Miami must hit big this time. To read that one, click Burden Is On Team, Not Player It Chose.

LondonAMERICAN LEAGUES EXPORTING GAMES OUTSIDE U.S.: ENOUGH, ALREADY!: The idiom, "the straw that broke the camel's back," arises from a proverb about how a seemingly minor action can cause a large, sudden reaction because of the cumulative effect of the small actions. So: the poor camel can bear the weight of a million straws, but its knees buckle as the million and first straw is added. In the case of my latest column, in an increasing trend in U.S. sports, over the years we have seen 34 regular-season NFL games, 27 in the NBA and 23 in MLB played outside the U.S. -- removed from their home cities and home fans. The straw, for me? This week's announcement that the Yankees and Red Sox -- the single best rivalry in American sports -- will play a two-game series next year in London among eight MLB games in all newly scheduled beyond our borders. Enough! That's my attitude, and to read the column please click Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money. But I have little idea if I'm in the majority or minority on this topic. Hence, this poll! I'm curious, so you tell me. Vote now!

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': RECEIPTS!: Here's the new one that debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio:

Heat TwitterTHE LIST: STATE SPORTS' TWITTER REACH: HEAT IS KING: Twitter followers of the state's 10 biggest pro teams -- NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL plus Major League Soccer. Quick general conclusion? Basketball owns social media. South Florida conclusion: Gulf of Heat/Dolphins popularity over Marlins/Panthers comes clear, in case there were any doubt. And the Heat's lead nearly tripling the second place team is beyond impressive.

Team                            League        Reach

Miami Heat                   NBA             4.73M

Orlando Magic               NBA             1.60M

Miami Dolphins              NFL              983K

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  NFL              758K

Tampa Bay Lightning     NHL              674K

Jacksonville Jaguars     NFL               635K

Tampa Bay Rays            MLB              542K

Orlando City SC            MLS              484K

Florida Panthers           NHL              359K

Miami Marlins               MLB              328K

CatsPOLL RESULT: PANTHERS INSPIRING MOST OPTIMISM AMONG BIG FOUR: We asked, "Which of South Florida's Big Four pro teams is inspiring the most optimism and closest to being really good?" Three had sizable support. The results: Florida Panthers 36.64 percent, Miami Heat 32.82%, Miami Dolphins 24.43% and Miami Marlins 6.11%.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe 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.

Other recent columns: Taking The Optimism ChallengeThe Dolphins' Misplaced Inattention. Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It SafeA Hope-Crushing Defeat. And In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 07, 2018

Bonjour. Je suis revenu! What South Florida Big 4 pro team is inspiring the most optimism? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus return of 'The 4-Man Outfield,' your verdict on where Dolphins QB situation ranks in AFC East & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MAY 7. Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking Dolphins QB situation in AFC East with poll, your verdict on Dolphins draft, The Godfather (Riley) Speaketh, latest Back In My Day video, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Memont CohenBonjour. Je suis revenu!: Hello. I'm back. My wife and I spent this past Thursday though Sunday in the Mont Royal area of Montreal, Quebec with friends. Toured Notre-Dame Basilica, immersed in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, devoured a famous Moishes steak, had a couple or three Rickard's Reds (pictured) and enjoyed meeting up again with our good friends from Maryland near D.C. Also pictured: A 12-story mural of the late, beloved Canadian writer/singer Leonard Cohen. We and our friends rendezvous a couple of times a year in a random city for a long weekend, a tradition we began a handful of years ago and a great way to stay close with close friends far-flung. Next and 10th stop on our odyssey will be Chicago (I think). Blog note: Hot Button Top 10 had Sunday off but will return May 13.

Big4WHICH OF SO-FLA'S BIG 4 PRO TEAMS IS INSPIRING THE MOST OPTIMISM? NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: I love to run this kind of poll every year or so to get a pulse read on how my community and readers are feeling about their teams. The springboard for the poll is my latest column, which explores how there isn't a ton of outward optimism about any of our teams but that if look a little harder there are reasons for hope with each. Click Taking The Optimism Challenge to read that column. The premise off the poll also is underpinned by my belief that if you call yourself a local sports fan, you likely are at least casually aware of all four teams even if one is your favorite. I also trust you to understand this is NOT a favorite-team poll that wants wishful votes. Please pull the invisible lever for the team whose fans you think honestly should feel the most optimistic right now for being really good and soon. Poll is alphabetical and purposely omits David Beckham's approved Major League Soccer expansion team. This is for teams in play mode, not still in the womb. OK, ready? Vote!

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED)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 base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). Beginning today The 4-Man Outfield will appear every Monday in the blog. The latest:

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

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .806   23  89   16  25   11   4-1-3      .281

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .768   34 132  24  30   19   7-1-7      .227

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .627   30 128   9  33   19   5-0-2      .258

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .518   32  110  8  18   11    2-0-4     .164

POLL RESULT: DOLPHINS 3RD OF 4 IN AFC EAST FOR QB SITUATION: In a blog poll and also in a poll on our Twitter feed we asked which AFC East team has the best or most enviable quarterback situation moving forward?" And the order was the same in each: 1. Patriots with Tom Brady, 2. Jets with Sam Darnold, 3. Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill and 4. Bills with Josh Allen. The percentages, with blog poll first, then Twitter: Brady (51.63 and 53 percent; Darnold (20.26 and 25%); Tannehill (17.65 and 13%) and Allen 10.46 and 9%).

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe 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.

Recent Dolphins draft-related columns: The Dolphins' Misplaced Inattention. Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It SafeSolid Contact, No Home Run. And Next Gronk (They Hope) And A Mini-Linebacker.

Recent Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing DefeatEmbiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So MuchNot Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry ThemWhiteside Must Rise Up NowIn Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust. And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 02, 2018

Where does Dolphins' QB situation now rank in the AFC East? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus latest 'Back In My Day' video (Mattresses!), your verdict on Fins draft grade, Godfather Riley's Heat message, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, MAY 2. Good to see you again, May. What's it been, a year? 2) Thrill and surprise the Dolfans in your life with 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): Grade Dolphins draft poll, Hot Button Top 10, The List (Fins' top drafted TD producers), 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

"The red-hot Marlins... That's it. I just never thought I'd have the chance to say 'the red-hot Marlins' this season, so I'm doing it while can." --Greg Cote

TannyWHERE DOES DOLPHINS' QB SITUATION RANK IN AFC EAST? NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: The Dolphins' stubborn, dubious devotion to quarterback Ryan Tannehill (pictured) and the hesitance to try to draft his successor is the topic of my latest column. You'd click on The Dolphins' Misplaced Inattention to read it. The premise: In the micro view, Miami had a solid draft; Minkah Fitzpatrick will be really good. But in the macro view, still no future plan at QB, which is sort of important. Another theme of the column: Miami has slid to fourth (last) in the AFC East in terms of its quarterback situation moving forward. The Pats' Tom Brady isn't going anywhere, and now the Jets (Sam Darnold) and Bills (Josh Allen) have new first-round QBs on which to pin their hopes. No guarantee either or both will turn out great, but you have to take shots to score. Meanwhile Miami has a turning 30 QB who in six seasons has not proved to be a difference maker and who now is coming off major knee surgery. I'm not sure if most agree with me, though. Hence, this poll! If you neutral, say, a fan of a team outside the AFC East, which f these four QB situations would you prefer for your team moving forward? The poll is alphabetical by team name. Vote!

BPOLL RESULT: MOST LIKED DOLPHINS DRAFT, BUT MUCH DISSENT, TOO: We asked, "What overall grade would you give the Miami Dolphins' 2018 NFL Draft?" Your verdict: 40.26 percent said "B/Above average"; 30.25% said "C/Average"; 15.31% said "A/Excellent"; and 14.18% said "D/Below average." Broken down, that's 55.57% giving it an A or B versus 44.43% giving it a C or D. Bottom line? Call it overall approval, but somewhat muted and not without dissent.

RileyTHE GODFATHER SPEAKETH!: Pat Riley's annual postseason State of the Heat address is seldom boring, and Monday's did not disappoint. The biggest takeaway for me? "We're stuck with Hassan Whiteside, so we're going to make the best of it." OK, those are not Riley's words, they're mine. But that's what I heard. Whiteside's remaining contract and the role he plays in the changing NBA will make it very difficult for Miami to move him in a trade.So this becomes Riley's new 7-foot project. He admitted Whiteside was not mentally or physically prepared for the playoffs. He also spoke of a rift between Whiteside and coach Erik Spoelstra that Riley himself will get involved in mending. Bottom line? Riley hates the side of Whiteside who is moody and selfish -- everything Heat "culture" is not about. But Riley also thinks Whiteside needs to be a 30-minute man, not the disappearing giant he's become. Stay tuned.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': MATTRESSES!: This debuted during yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. It is one of my personal favorites. I think I've done around 115 or so BIMDs since the bit debuted in 2014. For me, this might be all-time top 10:

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED)Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and constantly 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 base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Wednesday play:

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

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .768   19  73   14  20    9    2-1-2      .274

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .713   29 117  20  26   15   5-1-5      .222

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .607   26 112   9  28   17   4-0-2      .250

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .502   28  98    7  16    9    2-0-3      .163

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe 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.

Our other recent Dolphins-draft columns: Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It SafeSolid Contact, No Home Run. And Next Gronk (They Hope) And A Mini-Linebacker.

Our recent Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing DefeatEmbiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much. Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry ThemWhiteside Must Rise Up NowIn Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust. And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 30, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what's No. 1 (well, no duh) and what else slots where; plus Grade-the-Dolphins-draft poll (last day to vote!), The List (Fins all-time drafted TD producers), 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 30. Fairwell, April. 2) The accuser isn't always right. I believe Tom Brokaw. 3) Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins pick-by-pick draft analysis and poll, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our Dolphins draft columns: Main column on first round: Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It Safe. Quick-take short columns: Solid Contact, No Home Run and Next Gronk (They Hope) And A Mini-Linebacker.

DolsGRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT! ANNUAL POLL. VOTE NOW: I know, we all hate instant analysis, right? And yet we all have instant opinions. An instant gut feeling on how much we like (or don't like, or somewhere in between) our team's draft. So this isn't science. We all might feel differently in a year or so. This is just a pulse read now on how Dolfans are feeling about Miami's '18 draft. I'd base my vote on the quality of players drafted and on how they addressed needs. But your criteria is your own. Does the Dolphins' haul leave you happy? Disappointed? What? Poll purposely does not include an 'F' grade because, well, come on. Vote now!

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: Alabama safety Fitzpatrick lead Fins draft haul: Miami imported eight new players over three days, led by versatile 'Bama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, whom Fins will use as free safety. Oddity: Two tight ends among first four picks. Surprise: Didn't draft either of two need positions: Quarterback or defensive tackle. Could have moved up in first round for their future QB, but stood pat. Fitzpatrick's really good, but this draft was a step, not a leap.

2. NFL: Quarterback drama, Griffin win the weekend: Baker Mayfield going No. 1 overall and Josh Allen slipping after some Dumb Teen Tweets led the Day 1 drama in the NFL Draft. But by Day 3 the draft's heart was stolen by one-handed UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin being signed by the Seahawks. UCF claiming to be national champion? Not real. Griffin as an inspiration to anybody who's been told no-you-can't? Real.

3. HEAT: Early-ousted Miami plots path forward: The Godfather Pat Riley takes the throne today for his annual postseason State of the Heat address to gathered local media. Riles will be as eloquent as always, spewing perfect soundbites and filling up notebooks. But will he have an answer for the one overarching question: How does a team that just got bounced 4-1 in the first round bridge the enormous gulf between low playoff seed and championship contender?

4. NBA: LeBron's monster show carries Cavs in Game 7: It was LeBron James with 45 on the home wood for Cleveland in a 105-101 Game 7 ousting of Indiana on Sunday to close the first round, after Philadelphia, Toronto and Boston previously advanced in the East. Out West, second round already underway with Golden State-New Orleans and Houston-Utah. Conference finals? Nothing stops Golden State vs. Houston, but the final two in East is anybody's guess.

5. MARLINS: Signs of life for the flopping Fish: The Fire-Sale Fish still are only 9-18 but have won four of their past five games as the Phillies come to town for three starting tonight. Marlins can't hit, but the pitching actually has been mostly solid lately. Miami prevailed the other day when Wei-Yin "Disabled List" Chen won in his first start in nearly a full year. OK, so his work is done! 

6. NHL: Conference semifinals underway: Boston leads Tampa Bay 1-0 and PIttsburgh and Washington are 1-1 in the East. In the West Winnipeg-Nashville and Vegas-San Jose both are knotted 1-1. For me the best storylines are out West, where Vegas is trying to win a Stanley Cup as a first-year expansion team and Winnipeg is aiming to bring the Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993, eh!

7. PANTHERS: Cats don't get lucky in draft lottery: The order for the June 22-23 NHL Draft was determined Saturday and the Florida Panthers, who narrowly missed the playoffs despite a pretty solid 96-point season, shook out at No. 15 overall, a mid-pack, meh result. This draft is seen as eight dynamic talents and then a dropoff, so barring a major tradeup by Cats, don't expect another Sasha Barkov in this summer's haul.

8. HORSE RACING: Countdown 5 days 'til Kentucky Derby: Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown season leaves the gate this coming Saturday at Churchill Downs, where Justify was a 2-1 betting favorite when last we checked. Unfortunately, the horse Gronkowski -- yes, named after the Patriots star, who has a small ownership stake -- will miss the Derby after spiking a fever. Two legs or four, health always an issue with those darn Gronkowskis!

9. SOCCER: Liverpool, Real Madrid in charge in Champs League: The UEFA Champions League is nearing its championship matchup. In the second leg of semifinals, Real Madrid is up one goal on Bayern Munich heading into their Tuesday match, while Liverpool is a big plus-three on Roma in the other semi on Wednesday. It was a miracle Roma got this far. Do they have another astonishment in them?

10. UM BASEBALL: Sad-season Canes avoid sweep at FSU: The stunningly woeful UM baseball team improved to 18-25 with a Sunday win at No. 14 Florida State to avoid being swept. It will take a miracle for Jim Morris to put a smile at the end of his final season as coach. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Missing the HB10 cut is taking this Sunday off to go sailing on Biscayne Bay.

THE LIST: BIGGEST TD-PRODUCERS EVER DRAFTED BY DOLPHINS: By passing, rushing and receiving, here are the players drafted by the Miami Dolphins who have produced at least 50 career touchdowns in the NFL:

RK  Player, Pos.                             Rd-Yr Drafted   TDs  As Dolphin

1    Dan Marino, QB                        1st - 1983        429      429

2    Bob Griese, QB                         1st - 1967        199      199

3    Joe Theismann, QB                   4th - 1971       177          0

4    Ryan Tannehill, QB                    1st - 2012       112+     112+

5    Bill Kenney, QB                         12th - 1978      110         0

6    Scott Mitchell, QB                      4th - 1990       106       12

7    Mark Clayton, WR                      8th - 1983        85        82

8    Nat Moore, WR                          3rd - 1974        75        75

9    Larry Csonka, RB                       1st - 1968         68       57

10  Chad Henne, QB                        2nd - 2008        61+     33

The five other 50-plus guys: David Woodley (60), Mark Duper (59), Chris Chambers (58), Anthony Carter (57) and Freddie Solomon (52). Former Dolphin Jarvis Landry, with 23 TDs at age 25, has chance to join list.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': STANTON OVERTAKES LEADThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and constantly 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 base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Monday play:

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

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .763   27 109  20  26   15   5-1-5      .239

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .762   17  65   11  17    9    2-1-2      .262

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .601   25 108   8  27   17   3-0-2      .250

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .513   26  92    7  15    8    2-0-3      .163

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe 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.

Our six-pack of recent Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry ThemWhiteside Must Rise Up NowIn Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust and The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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

Twitter @gregcote