July 30, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Dolphins camp takes on soccer at The Rock for No. 1. See who wins and what else falls where; plus your verdict on Fins win total and Tannehill, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 30. Football's back so it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins open training camp with two polls and my Tannehill column, R.I.P. Tony Sparano, Heat seen as seventh seed, The List & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

On Tannehill as Dolphins open training camp: I write in my latest column that Miami needs a new and improved Ryan Tannehill as he begins his comeback season with the start of training camp. The Dolphins need him to be what he hasn't been thus far: A difference-maker able to lift a team and put it on his shoulders. To read that latest column, click Dolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy One.

Other recent columnsTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades, on the death of Tony Sparano. Also: Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal OffseasonSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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. SOCCER: Top-tier soccer back Hard Rock with ICC matches: The Stephen Ross-invented annual International Champions Cup global soccer tournament is back at Hard Rock Stadium, bringing top-tier futbol to town -- although years like this when it immediately follows the World Cup don't bring quite the same sizzle. Manchester City beat Bayern Munich 3-2 Saturday before 29,195 in the first of two games in Miami, with Real Madrid vs. Manchester United coming Tuesday night. Consider it free ad for the November referendum vote for David Beckham's new MLS stadium. man 3-2 29,195 

2. DOLPHINS: Rose-colored glasses on as training camp begins: Miami Dolphins training camp began Thursday at Davie headquarters and so today/Monday is Day 5 of the Optimist Festival. Early indications are that Adam Gase is thrilled, everybody looks great, Ryan Tannehill is dominating early practices and the 6-10 team with about the same wins over/under for 2018 could be the surprise of the NFL. Training camps should come with a warning label: Caution! Whatever you see and especially whatever you are told means nada until real games begin Sept. 9.

3. HURRICANES: UM football's 'Paradise Camp' returns to campus: Mark Richt's third annual Paradise Camp returned to campus on Saturday, the yearly one-day Family Love-In in which past, current and future Canes gather to celebrate what's special about being in the football fraternity known as The U. A brilliant tool for brand-growing as fall practice nears.

4. MARLINS: Fish break out the 'MVP Chain': Miami is now 5-4 after the break with Saturday's win on J.T. Realmuto's walk-off hit then Sunday's gem by Jose Urena to wraps the homestand. Now it's on to seven straight on the road. Meanwhile the team has created an "MVP Chain" that the player of the game is given to wear following wins. Um, does UM's Turnover Chain get royalties?

5. HEAT: Team, Riley expect Wade decision soon: Heat godfather Pat Riley told reporters this week he expects free agents Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem to decide in the next few weeks whether to re-up with the Heat. Wade has a lucrative offer waiting in the Chinese Basketball League. Meanwhile Riley said he is "not frustrated at all" by the club's offseason inactivity, as if any team executive in any sport is prone to publicly admitting frustration.

6. TONY SPARANO: Ex-Dolphins coach dies suddenly: The Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach, who led the Dolphins in 2008-11, died unexpectedly of a heart ailment at 56. Sparano inherited a team that had gone 1-15 the year before and led it to an 11-5 record in his first season. A genuine good guy. R.I.P. 

7. MLB: Flurry of deals as trade deadline nears: Manny Machado and Cole Hamels were among big names changing uniforms ahead of this Tuesday's MLB trade deadline. Hoping Marlins, potential sellers, will be quiet and not move, say, J.T. Realmuto. 

8. COOPERSTOWN: Baseball Hall inducts 6 more Sunday: Chipper Jones and Vladimir Guerrero headed a 2018 Hall of Fame class that also included Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. Which of course begs the question, "Alan Trammell and Jack Morris!?" 

9. CYCLING: Welshman wins Tour de France: Geraint Thomas of Wales, former support rider for the great Chris Froomes, clinched the Tour de France championship on Sunday along the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

10. LEGAL SYSTEM: Nasser assaulted in jail: Disgraced Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser, doing life for sexually abusing dozens of gymnasts, was assaulted in prison and is now asking for a new trial. The national group, People Who Feel Sorry For Larry, will be meeting Monday in that phone booth over at Fifth & Vine.   

Missing the HB10 cut: Former Hurricanes running back Tyrone Moss, gone too soon at 33. R.I.P. ..... An intentionally set fire destroyed dozens of gold carts at Melreese. Was a hooded figure resembling David Beckham seen running from the blaze? ..... Fox New reporter Britt McHenry bashed Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill in a series of Tweets, begging the question, "Britt McHenry!?" ..... Dez Bryant, continuing to be Dez Bryant, went on a Twitter rant blasting former Cowboys teammates and the team's play calling ..... Florida's two-day lobster mini-season was this past week. That's a lot of effort to catch something I can buy at Publix ..... The WNBA All-Star Game was held Saturday in Minnesota, and I have no idea who won, or who played ..... Update. Countdown now 2,885 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

POLL RESULTS: CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM FOR BOTH DOLPHINS SEASON, TANNEHILL: We asked, "As training camp begins what are your honest expectations for this Dolphins season?" and it  was 34.01 percent for 9 wins and 17.01% for 10-plus. That's 51.02% thinking playoffs or at least in the hunt. After that it was 19.73% 8 wins, 9.52% for both 6 and 7 wins, and 10.20% for 5 or fewer. The betting over/under for Miami wins is commonly 6 1/2, so voters in our poll definitely were thinking "over." We also asked, "As he begins his 7th NFL season, how confident are you in quarterback Ryan Tannehill?" and Very beat Somewhat by 41.13% to 35.46%, with the other 23.40% voting Not Very. That's a split vote, but generally conveys at least modest support.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): YELICH OVERTAKES STANTONThroughout 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 (though injured) 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. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .911   92 359  70 115   57  21-4-15     .320

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .854  103  404  64 113   64  19-1-24    .280

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .701  101 395  41 106   57  10-1-12     .268

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .570   84  290  22  54   30   6-4-10     .186

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 28, 2018

Dolphins time! Training Camp Special: 2 new polls on season expectations and Ryan Tannehill (with my latest column). Last day to vote!; plus R.I.P. Tony Sparano, modest outlook for Heat, The List (Fins coaches by tenure) & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 28. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for this week's best-of LeBatard Show podcast. Contained therein: the new Back In My Day (Eyesight!). Go to my Twitter feed for direct link. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on Dolphins' new anthem policy, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DoltannyTWO NEW DOLPHINS POLLS -- ON EXPECTATIONS, TANNEHILL -- AS TRAINING CAMP BEGINS: The NFL offseason segues into the preseason as teams start training camp, and Miami's first full practice was Thursday. So football's back! Sort of. And so it quarterback Ryan Tannehill, healthy again after missing the past Dolhelmet20 games in a row dating to late 2016 due to knee injuries. The Fins are pegging their improvement over last year's 6-10 record largely on Tannehill's return. But as I write in my latest column previewing training camp, Miami needs a new and improved Tannehill. Miami needs him to be what he has not been thus far in his pro career: A difference-maker able to lift a team and put it on his shoulders. To read that latest column, click Dolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy One. Our two polls below invite you to set the early expectations for this Dolphins season -- what you honestly expect or would bet on, not what you hope for -- and also to weigh in on your confidence level in Tannehill as he enters his seventh NFL season. Granted both answers could change over the next month-plus, but let's get a quick Dolfan pulse-read as training camp begins. Both polls await you. Vote now!

TonysREMEMBERING TONY SPARANO, 1961-2018: The Dolphins' head coach in 2008-11, Tony Sparano passed away unexpectedly on Sunday at age 56 at his Eden Prairie, Minn. home, days from beginning his third season as Vikings offensive line coach. To read my column on Tony, click To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades. The Dolphins have had 12 head coaches (including interim guys), and Sparano is only the second to pass away, following inaugural expansion-era coach George Wilson, who died at age 64 in 1978. Sparano coached 61 games with Miami. Only Don Shula (obviously), Dave Wannstedt (73) and Jimmy Johnson (64) had longer tenures. Sparano will be remembered for leading the turnaround from a 1-15 season to 11-5, for bringing the Wildcat formation back into NFL vogue and, ultimately, for being disrespected by owner Stephen Ross, who flew west to woo Jim Harbaugh with Sparano still on the job. He also will be remembered for constantly being mistakenly called Tony Soprano and for wearing sunglasses indoors at at night -- not to look cool, but due to an eye condition. I find it interesting to note Sparano's career winning percentage with the Dolphins was .4754 and that the coaches since him are a combined .4747. If Sparano didn't prove to be the answer, well, they're still looking. Sparano may have been a better assistant than a head coach when all was said and done, but he was a quality football man and a good guy. R.I.P.

Other recent columnsDolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal OffseasonSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursTannehill's Defining Season.

7ESPN SAYS HEAT IS BARELY A PLAYOFF TEAM NOW: The Worldwide Leader's new NBA Power Rankings are out, notably including the impact of LeBron-to-Lakers and Kawhi-to Raptors. The top five: Warriors, Celtics, Rockets, 76ers, Raptors. Miami is slotted 20th overall and seventh in the East, after the aforementioned three plus Pacers, Wizards and Bucks. Heat was a sixth seed last season but has idled through a whisper-quiet offseason borne of little cap space for free agents and even less interest by potential trade partners for, say, Hassan Whiteside.   

THE LIST: DOLPHINS HEAD COACHES BY TENURE: Miami has had nine full-time head coaches. Their rank by tenure based on total regular-season games:

Coach                    Games    Years        Win Pct.

Don Shula                392       1970-95     .659

Dave Wannstedt        73       2000-04     .575

Jimmy Johnson         64       1996-99     .563

Tony Sparano            61       2008-11     .475

George Wilson          56       1966-69     .278

Joe Philbin               52       2012-15     .462

Adam Gase               32       2016-        .500

Nick Saban               32       2005-06     .469

Cam Cameron           16       2007         .063

Note: The three interim head coaches have been Dan Campbell (12 games in 2015), Jim Bates (7 in '04) and Todd Bowles (3 in '11).

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 09, 2018

Forbes' 100 richest athletes: Five with Miami ties make it and here's who they are; plus Marlins 25th Anniversary weekend, R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain, me rapping 'California Love,' in search of Dolphins' Grand Plan & more

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

Bourdain1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 9. Stunned to hear that chef and travel host Anthony Bourdain, 61 (pictured), had taken  his own life. The demons can be so invisible. I hope he has found the peace that eluded him. 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): In search of Dolphins' Grand Plan, how Trump hijacked NFL protest cause, LeBron Summer Sweepstakes, The List (NBA Finals sweeps) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

25logoMarlins' 25th Anniversary weekend: They're the Florida Marlins again, at least temporarily. Fish are back home and in the old teal this weekend vs. San Diego with events marking the franchise's 25th Anniversary season, including an alumni softball game before Sunday's game. The club's anniversary logo is pictured. Fish opened homestand (and celebration weekend) with a 4-0 win on Caleb Smith's gem last night. The rebuild-of-a-season hasn't been one to celebrate, but let nostalaia win the weekend.

CaliloveMe rapping 'California Love." No, seriously: On the LeBatard Show this week it came up that my favorite hip-hop song is "California Love" by Tupuc Shakur with Dr. Dre. I started doing it. The result is one of those simultaneous moments of both intense shame and unfettered delight. Listeners started giving me rap names, including Lil Weezy (I've had a cough) and Notorious O.L.D. Thanks to @Ryan_Cortes for the audio here. To listen: Cote Does California Love. 

FIVE WITH MIAMI TIES AMONG FORBES' 100 RICHEST ATHLETES: Forbes today drops its annual list of the Top 100 richest athletes in the world over the past year, including salary and endorsements, and five men with Miami ties (three current, two former) make the list. Boxer Floyd Mayweather tops the list at $285 million, with the rest of the top 10 populated by Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Conor McGregor, Neymar, LeBron James, Roger Federer, Steph Curry, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford. Notably, zero female athletes make the list. Click Top 100 for the full list. The five Miami athletes or ex's to make it:

RtNo. 32: Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins quarterback, $35.2 million -- Forbes includes Tannehill's near-$18 million salary from last season plus "an upfront $16.7 million payday early in 2018 when the Dolphins converted almost all of his 2018 base salary into a bonus to provide cap room for the team." Notably, his income includes only $500,000 in endorsements (Adidas), quite low for an NFL starting QB. Nevertheless, life is good for Mr. and Mrs. Tannehill (pictured). Tannehill is signed through 2020, but neither of the last two seasons of his deal include any guaranteed money.

No. 42: Dwyane Wade, Heat guard, $31.8 million -- Notably almost half of Wade's income ($14M) is from endorsements. Forbes: "The 12-time All-Star remains a prolific endorser with a dozen partners. His biggest pact is his shoe deal with Chinese brand Li-Ning. He joined the brand in 2012 and was given an equity stake in addition to his multi-million annual guarantee." 

No. 65: Chris Bosh, former Heat forward, $26.3 million -- Includes $1 million in endorsements income. Heat waived Bosh in July 2017 due to medical issues (blood clots) but he has not officially retired. Forbes: "The Heat are on the hook for the remainder of his contract, which ends after the 2018-19 season when he will earn $26.8 million."

No. 77: Hassan Whiteside, Heat center, $24.5 million -- Includes $750K in endorsements. Forbes: "Whiteside re-signed with Heat for $98 million over four years during the summer of 2016. Injuries limited him to 54 games this past season, and the center frequently complained about his minutes when healthy. Heat and Whiteside could be headed for a divorce."

No. 92: Jarvis Landry, former Dolphins receiver, $23.2 million -- Includes $750 in endorsements. Forbes: "Cleveland locked up Landry with a blockbuster five-year, $75.5 million contract. The $47 million in guaranteed money is tied for the third-most ever for a wide receiver. Landry is an aspiring musician and is interning this summer at record label Quality Control Music, which is home to acts like Migos and Lil Yachty."

Gase NEWEST COLUMNS: ON DOLPHINS, TRUMP/NFL: Do Adam Gase's Dolphins have a map on how to get from here to really good? A plan? This offseason has underlined Trumpdoubts. I tackle the state of the Dolphins in my latest column. To read it, click In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand Plan. In my previous column I explore how President Trump's awful yet calculated and politically self-serving subterfuge -- lying -- has brilliantly (for him) hijacked the NFL's anthem protest cause to wrongly make it about the flag and patriotism instead of about police shootings of unarmed black men, about racism, profiling and social injustice. To read that column, click on Uninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's Subterfuge.

Other recent columns: Handicapping the LeBron Summer Sweepstakes -- now underway with last night's Cavs elimination by an NBA Finals sweep / When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & Games / The King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / 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 / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

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 most recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 26, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A surprise at No. 1 (maybe) and see what else falls where; plus our NCAA bracket update (ugh), columns on Dolphins/Frank Gore and Wayne Huizenga & more

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

Neveragain1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 26. So, so proud of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High whose anger and tears in the wake of last month's mass shooting led to Saturday's March For Our Lives that drew hundreds of thousands to Washington, D.C. and millions to rallies nationwide. The movement to ban assault weapons has only just begun. 2) Happy 71st birthday on Sunday to a philanthropic giant and a man who has been such a vital part of my life's soundtrack: Elton John. 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): R.I.P. Wayne Huizenga, our NCAA bracket update, your Who's-Next verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our latest column: The feel-good and the bad of Dolphins signing Frank Gore: It strikes all the right emotional chords, but it also is in keeping with a curious, troubling offseason for the Dolphins. To read our newest column, click Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason. (By the way, we had a snarky little Twitter poll inviting your reaction to last week's Fins signing of Gore and QB Brock Osweiler. More than 3,000 voted. The result was 26 percent voting "Super Bowl!" and 74% voting "Well, um, uh...") 

Other most recent columns: On Wayne Huizenga, Serena Williams, Canes QBs: A South Florida sports and civic giant dies. Click Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible / Serena returns from maternity leave in her home tournament and is quickly ousted by 20-year-old phenom who grew up idolizing her. Click Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / And, can Malik Rosier hold onto Hurricanes' quarterback job? Click Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation

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

Hot1. MARLINS: It's Opening Week for Fire-Sale Fish and MLB: Winding down a mildly encouraging spring training, by which I mean they weren't awful, the decimated Marlins are three days from Opening Day this Thursday afternoon here vs. the Cubs. The big question: Will new boss Derek Jeter be a part of pregame ceremonies and risk being booed after trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in a profit-first, baseball-second salary dump?

2. MARCH MADNESS: NCAA Tournament has its Final Four: It'll be No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 1 Kansas and No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 11 seed Loyola-Cinderella in the men's Final Four this Saturday after a five-day break. That's three superpowers and one reminder why we love March Madness so much.

3. WAYNE HUIZENGA: Influential sports owner dies at 80: The man who founded the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers and rescued the Miami Dolphins from financial calamity -- once owning all three teams concurrently -- died on Thursday. Huizenga was a giant in business and philanthropy and a major figure on the South Florida sports landscape in 1993-2008. R.I.P., good sir.

4. DOLPHINS: Curious offseason continues with Gore, Osweiler: The Dolphins' offseason is getting "curiouser and curiouser," as Lewis Carroll's Alice might say. Last week the team signed former Hurricanes star Frank Gore and then quarterback Brock Osweiler, which might not be too bad except that one is a soon-to-be 35-year-old running back and the other is Brock Osweiler. 

5. MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: Parkland tragedy spawns massive rally: No, this has nothing to do with sports. It is much more important than that. Close to a million demonstrators against gun violence and for gun control were drawn to D.C. Saturday by last month's Parkland tragedy and the student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. I've seldom been prouder to be American. The best part? Didn't feel like a culmination. Felt like a beginning.

6. PANTHERS: Cats' win as playoff chase enters crunch time: Florida beat Arizona 4-2 led by Vincent Trocheck's two goals Saturday but remains three points off playoff pace with two games in hand. It's crunch time with nine games left, starting now with four straight on the road. Cats have been 19-7 since Jan. 30 but must close strong or the second-half rally will be for naught.

7. HEAT: Miami tumbles to 8th, awaits LeBron: Playoff-bound Heat now sit in 8th place in East after last night's OT loss at Indiana as the NBA regular season wanes. Now it's four straight home games starting Tuesday with a visit by LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers. Is LeBron back in Miami still a big thing? We'll likely see him in the playoffs, too -- if Miami can somehow inch up to the 6th seed. 

8. TENNIS: Crazy first week as Miami Open hits midpoint: No. 1 seeds Roger Federer and Simona Halep both were eliminated, and Serena Williams suffered a rare first-round ouster as the Miami Open turned quickly into a wide-open affair. Oh, and Caroline Wozniacki claimed she was verbally abused by the crowd. The tournament headed to Hard Rock Stadium next year isn't leaving Key Biscayne quietly ... or predictably.

9. HORSE RACING: Five days 'til Florida Derby at Gulfstream: Promises Fulfilled and Audible are among favorites in this coming Saturday's 67th running of the Florida Derby at Gulfstream. The next-to-last day of the track's Championship Meet will star a major Kentucky Derby prep race that will send one horse off to the Kentucky Derby with a tailwind.

10. SOCCER: Peru beats Croatia in Miami friendly: Holy Nene Cubillas! Peru is back in the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, and looked ready Friday in beating Croatia 2-0 in a Miami friendly that drew 46,893 to The Rock. Both teams are in the 32-nation field for the summer World Cup in Russia. Alas, the U.S. is not, unless Trump can work something out with his pal Putin.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes spring football practice continues. Would you wake me in September when they start keeping score again? ..... Canes baseball is back up to .500 and goes for the sweep over No. 24 Virginia today. Just when I'm about to write off the season, UM says, "Wait a sec!" ..... Love that another spring football league is starting up one year ahead of Vince McMahon's planned XFL reboot. I'd put the over/under on either league succeeding at 1.5 seasons ..... The NFL winter meetings start Sunday in Orlando. This is where a bunch of rich guys get together, wring hands and do very little. It's a little like politics, in that way ..... UConn's dominance in women's basketball? Bor-ring! ..... By the way anybody know if the NIT tournament has ended? Or started?

Bracket VitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: A BIG SUNDAY LIFTS US: 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 24th entering the Final Four (up from 51st) after a perfect Sunday:

Day 9 / Final Four -- After a five-day break the Madness will crescendo with the Final Four on Saturday in San Antonio: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 3 Michigan, and No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 1 Villanova. I have 'Nova winning it all.

Day 8 / Elite Eight -- Sunday as the Final Four was set I had the two No. 1 seeds still in play and both winning, and Villanova and Kansas both came through for me. 

Day 7 / Elite Eight -- I didn't have a bracket dog in the hunt in either of Saturday's games as Michigan ousted Florida State and No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean kept the dream alive by beating Kansas State. 

[See previous blogposts for daily results preceding the Elite Eight round]

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor 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: Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / 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 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 24, 2018

Wayne Huizenga, 1937-2018: My column on the passing of an epic life; plus Dolphins/Gore-Osweiler poll (vote now), our NCAA bracket update (more ouch), MSD March in D.C., Canes football anointed our next champ, my Serena column & more

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

Time1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 24. Pictured: The new Time magazine cover as today's March For Our Lives takes place in D.C. -- spawned by the student activism in the wake of last month's mass shooting at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Power to the (young) people! 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): Who's-Next poll, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Dolphins/Gore/Osweiler poll. Vote now!: Dolphins sign Frank Gore, now Brock Osweiler. Quite the week. Your thoughts. I have a new poll on my Twitter site. Go to @gregcote to vote now.

HwayneR.I.P.: WAYNE HUIZENGA, 1937-2018: A South Florida sports and civic giant passed away today at age 80. A titan as a businessman and philanthropist, Huizenga was best known as founding owner of the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers and also owner of the Miami Dolphins -- owning all three concurrently for much of the 1990s, a first in American sports. Click on Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible for my new column on his passing. (Click Do Not Vilify, Give Thanks for an earlier column on Huizenga I'd written in January).

Other most recent columns: On Serena Williams, Canes QBs, state of Dolphins: It was poignant to see the great Serena return, at 36, from maternity leave in her home tournament and quickly be ousted in straight sets by a 20-year-old phenom who grew up idolizing her. To read that column: Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company. Also, can Malik Rosier hold on to the Miami Hurricanes' starting quarterback job against tough competition?: Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation. And, the offseason struggles of that other team: Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

Mmadness VitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: HELP! I'M FAAAAADING!: 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 tumbled further with Friday's results into a tie for 40th place. Amazing. From tied for second at one point to this. Sad:

Day 7 / Elite Eight -- I don' have a dog in the hunt in either of today's games, Loyola-Kansas State or Florida State-Michigan. My only two remaining teams, Villanova and Kansas, both play Sunday. 

Day 6 / Sweet 16 -- Correct on three of four games. As the march to the Elite Eight was completed last night, I desperately needed Villanova, Kansas and Purdue to all win, in that order of importance -- especially 'Nova, my national-champion pick. Well, I got 'Nova and Kansas, but it won't be enough. I got spanked by the Sweet 16. Overall for the tournament I have been correct on 40 of 56 games, or 71.4%.

Day 5 / Sweet 16 -- Correct on only one of four games as Sweet 16 play began Thursday after a three-day pause in March Madness. I had Michigan winning Thursday night's game but not getting to the Elite Eight on my bracket, so the pick did me no good. No. 11-seed Loyola-Chicago (which slayed Miami) stayed alive as the tourney's official Cinderella, with underdogs Florida State and Kansas State also advancing. (ESPN says only 0.001% of all brackets have Loyola vs. K-State in their Elite Eight). Overall for the tournament thus far I have been correct on 37 of 52 games, or 71.2%.  

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 tournament overall I've been correct on 36 of 48 games, or 75%. 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 now been correct on 33 of 40 games, or 82.5%.

Day 2 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 12 of 16 games (75%), a dip but still OK. 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. Other misses: Like all of you, didn't see No. 1 Virginia losing in a stunner. Also missed on L's by Arkansas and Wichita State. Overall, survived 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. 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.

TheuPOLL RESULT: IT'S ON YOU, CANES FOOTBALL. YOU'RE OUR NEXT NATIONAL CHAMPION: We asked, "Which of South Florida's biggest pro sports teams is most likely to win a championship next?" We gave you seven choices, and Hurricanes football dominated with a majority of 61.14 percent. Next were the Florida Panthers at 15.63%, then David Beckham's as-yet-unborn MLS soccer team at 10.90% and the Miami Heat at 8.06%. The Miami Dolphins drew only 2.37%. The Miami Marlins and Canes men's basketball drew a negligible 0.95% each.

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor 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: Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? / Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season / 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 / 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

February 19, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): After a week when tragedy overshadowed everything in sports; plus column on Derek Jeter's decimation of Marlins as spring training begins & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19. The Dolfans in your life don't know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Stoneman Douglas tragedy with column and GoFund Me page & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Derek Jeter's Marlins as spring training begins: He can spin it and try to justify it any way he wishes, but Derek Jeter's massive Marlins salary dump is a betrayal of public trust. The Marlins are tanking because the new owners have put the bottom line above the product on the field and above the paying customers. To read my latest column, click: Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season

My column on Stoneman Douglas shooting tragedy, ICYMI: Seventeen were killed last week in a shooting spree at Parkland's Stoneman Douglas High carried out by a coward with an assault weapon, a deranged former student who'd been expelled. Something like this, by the way, is why I, unlike most sports writers, never use words like 'tragedy' or 'disaster' to describe a knee injury or an awful season. This is a tragedy. For my column, click: Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

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

Hot1. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Mass shooting at local high school kills 17: Seventeen innocents were murdered at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in a mass shooting that stunned the sports world as much as it did the rest of us. The perpetrator: A 19-year-old former student with an assault weapon who is now in custody. Another tragedy wrought by a deranged mind with a military-grade killing machine. The United States shames itself by continuing to allow these weapons to be sold.

2. HEAT: Slumping Miami hanging on at All-Star break: Heat has lost seven of past eight, is 1-2 since Dwyane Wade's return and has fallen to 8th place in the East. All-Star Weekend in L.A. came as a welcome diversion, with Goran Dragic in the main game Sunday, scoring two points in 11 minutes off the bench in a 148-145 Team LeBron win, after Wayne Ellington did Saturday's 3-point contest. Heat are off 'til Friday, at New Orleans.

3. MARLINS: Fire-sale Fish begin spring training for real Monday: What's left of the Miami Marlins opens spring training for real with Monday's first full-squad work up in Jupiter, with the first spring game only four days later. And -- other than new owner Derek Jeter being a colossal disappointment by trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in a massive salary dump -- it's been a great offseason!

4. OLYMPICS: Winter Games into final week in South Korea: Entering Monday's play Team USA was tied for fourth in gold medals won and tied for sixth in total medals won. Are we OK with that, or are we jingoists crestfallen because America should be No. 1 in everything and at all times?

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men's program cleared in FBI probe: Canes men have lost three straight and are back out of the Top 25 after Saturday's home loss to Syracuse. The good news? The UM program -- linked before season to FBI national probe of recruiting corruption -- went a long way to being cleared when charges were dropped against the AAU director accused of funneling money from Adidas to persuade one player to sign with Miami. Wonder if FBI sent Jim Larranaga an "Oops. Sorry, our bad" Hallmark card?

6. PANTHERS: Hot Cats inching up in playoff chase: The good news? Panthers have won seven of past eight games after Saturday's win at Calgary and have within six points of playoff pace. The bad news? Six down is still a lot, and 12th in the East means a lots of teams to still climb over with only 26 games left.

7. UM BASEBALL: Jim Morris' final season underway: It was Play ball! Friday in a season-opening weekend home series for 24th-ranked Canes baseball vs. Rutgers -- UM taking two of three games. Miami is trying to return to NCAA playoffs after missing last year for the first time in four decades. This is the 25th and last season for Morris, who'll then retire. His Canes teams have reached 13 College World Series and won two. Three would be a charm for the coach in the No. 3 jersey.

8. NASCAR: Vroom! Dillon takes Daytona 500 in season opener: Austin Dillon won Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 -- leading only on the final lap. The emotional tug came from the season starting without retired Dale Earnhardt Jr., and from Danica Patrick running in her final Daytona 500.

9. HURRICANES: UM football sets spring dates: Hot off a national top-10 recruiting class, Canes announced spring practice would commence March 20 -- highlighted by Malik Rosier trying to fend off challengers in an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Meanwhile, coach Mark Richt will host an "All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experience" at Hard Rock Stadium on February 24. Visit AllProDad.com for more.

10. SOCCER: Champions League matches continue: The 32-team UEFA Champions League continues toward its May conclusion with matches Tuesday and Wednesday including club giants Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United. You are following this avidly or not at all. No in-between, sorry.

Missing the HB10 cut: The weekend "Monster Truck Jam" wraps up Sunday at Marlins Park. Turns out it looks even more ridiculous in person than it does on TV ..... Headline: 'Arizona male cheerleader booted from arena for heckling Arizona State during basketball game.' Ah, sportsmanship! ..... Fox News host Laura Ingraham blasted LeBron James for his criticism of Donald Trump, essentially tell LeBron to "shut up and dribble" just like the president's aides told her to.

POLL RESULT: OPINIONS OF JETER 'VERY UNFAVORABLE': We asked, "What is your impression of the job Derek Jeter has done so far as CEO of the Miami Marlins?" And it was 75.58 "very unfavorable." the other three categories -- very favorable, somewhat favorable and somewhat unfavorable -- all tied with 8.14%.

AccordinionDEAR GREG...: "Dear Greg, Your blog's OK but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of a street musician playing the accordion while dressed like a giant creepy rodent-type thing and staring menacingly at the camera. Thank you." Dear Reader, I would but where on Earth am I going to find something like that!? Please be a little more reasonable with your requests in the future.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 17, 2018

Derek Jeter can spin it as he wishes, but he has betrayed public trust in decimating Marlins. My new column, and a Jeter poll; plus the Stoneman Douglas tragedy. My column, how you can donate to victims' fund & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17. Click on Strange Signs! for the latest Back In My Day video from this week's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 2) The Dolfans in your life may not know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes vs. Arkansas State--The Court Case, latest Dolphins draft guess, Black History Month video, Flynn the bichon frise' & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

JeterMY BLISTERING NEW COLUMN ON DEREK JETER'S BETRAYAL OF THE PUBLIC TRUST: As Marlins spring training begins with Monday's first full-squad work in Jupiter, I write that the new ownership's payroll-slashing decimation of the team overshadows the season after a dispiriting winter in which Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon all were traded. Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter have been a colossal disappointment in putting financial considerations above the product on the field and above their paying customers. To read my entire column, click: A Betrayal of Trust By Jeter Against Marlins Fans.

NOW YOUR TURN: POLL ASKS HOW JETER IS DOING: OK I have had my opinion. Now you have yours. Vote now...

DouglasOFFICIAL GOFUNDME PAGE FOR DOUGLAS VICTIMS & FAMILIES: The fund, set up earlier today by the Broward Education Foundation, had raised about $200,000 toward a $300,000 goal in only its first two hours. Wednesdays' mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland killed 17 and wounded more than a dozen others. To donate, here is the official page: GoFundMe/StonemanDouglasVictimsFund.

MY COLUMN ON THE PARKLAND SCHOOL TRAGEDY: To read, click: Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

This week's previous columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. And our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade.

Select other recent columns: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Also: Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 31, 2018

R.I.P., Bob Rubin, 1941-2018; plus Beckham/MLS Miami soccer poll. Vote now!; also, Super Bowl With A Smirk II, LeBa-palooza, "Get Out Of Your Own Way" (U2) & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the podcast from yesterday's LeBatardShow. 2) The Dolfans in your life don't know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our franchise history book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Pegasus World Cup, our Wondrous Weekend & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

RubinR.I.P., BOB RUBIN, 1942-2018: Our friend, mentor and longtime former colleague, Bob Rubin, passed away peacefully Tuesday at age 76 following complications from a stroke he'd suffered on Jan. 2. Bob was a Miami herald fixture from 1976 to 2002, mostly as a columnist in tandem with Edwin Pope (who died last January at 88). Rubin is survived by his wife Lena, three grown daughters and four grandsons. I spoke to Bob for the last time one week before he died, and was honored the Herald asked me to write his obituary. Here it is.

MlsmiamiWHERE WILL MLS MIAMI SOCCER RANK AMONG OUR BIG 5 PRO TEAMS IN YOUR INTEREST LEVEL?: We got the Miami Dolphins first (1966), the Miami Heat next (1988), then the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers together (1993). For a quarter century it's been our Big Four professional team sports in South Florida. Now, make room for one more. It was confirmed Monday that as-yet-unnamed team fronted by David Beckham will join Major League Soccer for the 2020 season. Click on Beckham's Dream Becomes A Team for my column. This will make ours one of only 10 U.S. cities or metropolitan regions with all of the Big Five teams -- football, baseball, basketball hockey and soccer. And there is no doubt that booming MLS qualifies as the fifth league in stature. My question: Where will MLS soccer arrive on our interest scale? Top? Middle? Bottom? Imagine it is two years from now, and Beckham's team is readying for its inaugural season. One through five relative to the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers, where will your interest in Miami MLS soccer land? Vote now!

LebatardIT'S LEBAPALOOZA! LEBA-FEST?: This is exciting. I mean it. This sounds like a great Miami event, combining Dan Le Batard's imprint on Miami and national sports and the mark of his brother Dave (a.k.a Lebo) in local-and-beyond art circles. Throw in music and it's a can't-miss. And since the whole thing is driven by the popularity of Dan's national ESPN Radio show (which I co-host every Tuesday), I'm honored to be a very small part of this extravaganza. (Picture booth? With me?) It is called "Made In Miami: A Celebration Of Music, Art And Sports in Miami," and it is March 10 from 6 p.m. 'til midnight at Blackbird Ordinary. Get many more details by visiting LeBatardBrothers.com. (Click on image at right to see much larger version).

Smirk

 

 

CELEBRATE SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK WEEK IN MIAMI!: It's Super Bowl Week and that means Super Bowl With A Smirk is back in the Miami Herald for five daily notes columns. Join us as we merrily poke fun at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Smirk III lands later today. So far:

Smirk I: Unlike-A-Bowl -- Starring two teams you'd rather see both lose, played in a city you'd only visit in winter if you lost a bet.

Smirk II: TV Ads -- Angry Clydesdale Chases Screaming Betty White. The time it took to read that previous sentence cost $588,000.

Latest other columns: Beckham realizes MLS Miami dream: Click Beckham's Dream Becomes A Team for column from Monday's news that Miami will join Major League Soccer in 2020. Other most recent columns: A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus (Gulfstream's world's richest horse race). The Upside Of a Fire Sale (Lewis Brinson becoming face of Marlins' reboot). Appreciating Wayne Huizenga. And When Victims Seize The Power (Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics trial).

BECAUSE IT'S A GREAT SONG, AND IT SAYS SOMETHING: Without getting too political here, I thought U2's Grammy performance the other night of their song, "Get Out Of Your Own Way" was triumphant. The backdrop of the Statue of Liberty was perfectly suited to  the lyrics, and the chorus won't leave my head. A great song that says something. See if you agree.

Select other columns: For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final FourAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 15, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A No. 1 that hasn't been there for awhile, and what else falls where; plus how we did on our NFL playoff picks, latest troika of columns & more

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

Mlk1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 15. It  is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in America and I wold dare say that, these days, his life's mission and fight for racial equality is a a cause as vital as ever, and worth supporting and carrying forward against insidious resistance. 2) Whoa, Nellie! R.I.P., Keith Jackson, gone at 89. 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Divisional-Round playoff picks, The List: Dolphins 1st-round picks ranked top to bottom, your verdict on Fins moving past Tannehill, Alabama's recent run in perspective & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our week's troika of latest columns: Call him Sasha. Call him Barky. Call him the future, the best hope for leading the Panthers back to relevance; click And Barkov Shall Lead Them to read. On the surreal reappearance of Tonya Harding; click No Way to Escape Her Shame. And on the Dolphins moving beyond Ryan Tannehill; click Are the Fins Feeling Bold?

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

Hot1. HEAT: Sizzlin' Heat win 7th in a row!: Dion Waiters may be done for the year, but without him Miami has won a season-high seven games in a row after Sunday's home win over Milwaukee. As a five-game road trip begins today at Chicago the Heat has climbed to fourth in the East -- and closing in on third-place Cleveland. Heat is now 55-28 the last half of last season and first half of this one. Um, can we start the playoffs now?
 
2. NFL: It's Patriots-Jaguars, Eagles-Vikings for AFC, NFC crowns: Two wild games Sunday -- Jags over Steelers 45-42 and Vikes over Saints 29-24 on a miracle finish -- completed the Divisional Round playoffs and set New-England-Jacksonville and Philadelphia-Minnesota as the two games that will be play-ins for the Super Bowl. So, yes, three of the last four QB standing are Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles. Meantime the Dolphins' contribution to the NFL conversation the past week was disgraced former assistant Chris Foerster admitting he'd done cocaine a week straight at the time of that leaked video. Line coach, indeed!
 
3. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men host Duke in big ACC test: No. 18 Miami hosts Mike Krzyzewski's No. 7 Duke Blue Devils Monday night in a game that will help shape the Atlantic Coast Conference race as March Madness draws ever nearer. Duke is 15-2 and Miami 13-3, but both already have two losses in ACC play. Duke once owned this series but Miami is 5-3 vs. the Diablos Azul ever since Jim Larranaga took over as coach in 2011-12 -- including two straight UM wins in the Gables.
 
4. PANTHERS: Week to celebrate young, old as Cats chase playoffs: Fans are thrilled that rising star and team centerpiece Aleksander "Sasha" Barkov will rep Florida in the NHL All-Star Game later this month. Meantime as play resumes this coming Friday the Panthers will honor Wayne Huizenga, 80, the franchise's founding owner. One man is the main reason the team is here. The man is the main reason there is hope for its future.
 
5. TENNIS: Australian Open opens with Venus 1st major upset: Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Romania's Simona Halep are the No. 1 men's and women's seeds as the year's first tennis Grand Slam event got underway in Melbourne. Halep, 26, is most known for having breast-reduction surgery but is yet to win her first major. So it's "Win Or Bust"? Meanwhile Venus Williams was upset on Day 1 as American women went 0-for-8.
 
6. GOLF: PGA Tour event in midst of missile-attack false alarm: The low-watt Sony Open was going on in Honolulu Saturday when when the (erroneous) news broke a ballistic missile was headed to Hawaii. Tournament leader Tom Hoge never got the text. He was entranced watching college basketball in his hotel room. 
 
7. BASEBALL: Strong get stronger as Astros get Cole: The reigning World Series champ Houston Astros added Pirates ace Gerrit Cole in a five-player trade Saturday. If all the other teams just conceded the 2018 crown to the Astros, imagine how much would be save in travel expenses?
 

8. BROADCASTING: Icon Keith Jackson dies at 89: The man who brought homespun charm to college football for decades has lapsed to memory. Farewell, Mr. Jackson, and R.I.P. I'm sure it won't but wouldn't it be perfect if his tombstone read: Whoa, Nellie!

9. OLYMPICS: New 'I, Tonya' movie resurrects 1994 skating scandal: Tonya Harding's goons clubbed rival Nancy  Kerrigan's knee 24 years ago, and now Harding is doing the promotional tour for the new movie that seeks to reboot her in a sympathetic way. You can't outrun your shame, sad Tonya.

10. MARLINS: Spring training now one month away: With the decimated Fish opening spring training Feb. 14, Starlin Castro has become the latest player to want out as new owner Derek Jeter severely cuts the player payroll. If only Marlins could demand to be traded.

Missing the HB10 cut: LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball were held scoreless in their second pro game in Lithuania. Ain't it great! ..... The Cavaliers slump has LeBron James beside himself. Ain't it even greater! ..... They're still partying in Tuscaloosa. Wait. They're always partying in Tuscaloosa ..... U.S. Army is contesting the NHL Las Vegas team's Golden Knights nickname. If Army paratroopers start dropping on the arena, then be worried ..... Headline: 'UFC is headed to Russia for first time ever'. My reaction: UM, can they stay there, please? ..... Dolphins hosted the 7th annual Dade vs. Broward football high-school All-Star Game, won by Dade. Many of the competing players will emulate their Dolphins heroes by also going on to pro careers that rarely ever end up in the playoffs.

FripixRESULTS ON OUR NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: We missed both of Sunday's games straight-up (thanks Marcus Williams!), but had better fortune against the spread. Had Jags with the points at Pittsburgh, and Vikes by five was a push. For the round we were 1-3 straight-up and 2-1-1 ATS. On Saturday, we owned the Patriots' 35-14 win, calling it 31-13, but saw the favored Falcons taking care of business and blew that one. I thought the two AFC games were pretty simple, clear-cut picks, but the two NFC games I wrestled with. Divisional-Round Gems for all our second-round pick as the Super Bowl Tournament continues now with the Final Four -- King Sport-style.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 06, 2018

Last day to vote! What was Miami/South Florida's biggest sports story of 2017? Annual poll. Our 18 finalists, you pick top 6. Vote now; plus your biggest-national-story verdict, our NFL playoff picks & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 6. A happy birthday to Dolphins icon Don Shula, who turned 88 Thursday. Here's to many more! 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual national-sports-story-of-the year poll, final SOPY standings, latest Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Mae Riback & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2017?We had it easy in 2016 with three stories that clearly stood out above the rest, although two made us sad. You voted the Miami17tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest story of the year, followed by the Dolphins ending their eight-year playoff drought and then Dwyane Wade leaving the Heat. Nothing else was close. But is anything as clear-cut for for 2017? We'll see. And you'll decide. Previously we asked you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (with results below). Now we invite you to select the 2017 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from a randomly presented top 18 of my choosing. You may vote for your top six (6). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. OK. Ready? Vote!

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

Deciphering a 6-vote poll: A six-vote poll means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent if every participant voted the max six times. Any vote above 16.67 means some voted only for that story. Multiply the percents above times six for an idea how often that story is being included on the consensus top-six ballot.

NFL player protests voted biggest 2017 national story: We asked what was the biggest national sports story of 2017, gave you The Associated Press Top 10 in jumbled order, and allowed you to vote for your top three. That means the highest vote total possible would be 33.3 percent if every participant used all three votes. Triple the percentages below for an idea how often that story was included in the consensus of top threes. Your results:

1. NFL player protests over social justice draws critics led by President Trump--20.14

2. Astros win 1st World Series to lift city devastated by Hurricane Harvey--19.72

3. Patriots, in year of Tom Brady suspension, stage record rally to win Super Bowl--14.31

The rest: U.S., Italy fail to qualify for men's World Cup--12.21%; Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather--9.03%; Clemson rally beats Alabama for college football title--8.06%; College basketball investigated by FBI over recruiting corruption--5.69%; Golden State led by Kevin Durant wins NBA Finals--4.17%; USA Gymnastics rocked by sex-abuse scandal involving team doctor--3.75%; Russia banned from upcoming Winter Olympics over doping--2.92%.

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

Twitter @gregcote