August 19, 2018

On holiday until August 20; plus Dolphins drop preseason opener, sharing news about my health scare & more

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

1) The blog's on holiday. We'll see you back here on Monday, August 20. 2) 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): One Hurricane in college football Top 50, Cassius Clay at 19, Tannehill in PFF QB ranking & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Personal note 1: Health scare: I shared the news on my Twitter feed (see below) last evening. If this encourages even one person to get a checkup or not ignore something that doesn't feel quite right in their body, it will have been worth it. Take care of yourselves.

Personal note 2: Vacation: I'm on vacation last week and this one so you'll see less of me in the newspaper (online and print), and in this blog. I've also not be on the LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio as usual. I'll have  new column this Monday and be back on-air Tuesday. Meantime here are a few select recent columns: NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireGore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End RunDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy OneTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades (on death of Tony Sparano). 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.

PS1: TAMPA BAY 26, DOLPHINS 24: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME (SORT OF/ALMOST) FOOTBALL!?: My entire deposition on the significance of who wins a preseason opener is as follows: "Miami's 1972 DoltbPerfect Season began with a loss in the first exhibition game. The 2007 team that went 1-15 began the preseason with a win." In other words, whether the Dolphins win by 20 or lose by 20 tonight vs. Tampa Bay in Fake Game 1 at Hard Rock Stadium won't matter much in the big picture. It's a dress rehearsal. Starters likely will play only the first half. The final score will matter less than Adam Gase shaking out his entire roster with future cuts in mind, and seeing how young guys perform under (compared to practices) a facsimile of game pressure. For rookies like tight end Mike Gesicki, tonight is big. "It’s exciting. It’s something that I have been working for and waiting for for a long, long time," he said Wednesday. "Getting off this practice field, going and playing a different team, lining up against a different color, just all of that stuff. It’s going to be exciting." A few things I was watching for: Ryan Tannehill looking sharp (and healthy) after missing the past 24 consecutive games injured including preseason. Who's going to step up and seize the open starting cornerback role opposite Xavien Howard? Minkah Fitzpatrick making the plays that made you nod and know why he was a first-round pick. P.S., Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt during the anthem.

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

August 08, 2018

One Hurricane makes list of Top 50 college football players entering 2018 season; plus Cassius Clay at 19, Ryan Tannehill's rank in new PFF rating, personal note & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8. 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): Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on Dwyane Wade's next move, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Personal note: On radio, vacation: I am on vacation this week and next so you'll see less of me in the newspaper (online and print), although I'll still be tending to this blog regularly. I'll not be on the LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio these two Tuesdays (yesterday or next week) before returning. Meantime here are my two most recent columns. Click on NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest Quagmire and Gore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End Run. One is on Roger Goodell's cluelessness, and the other is a feelgoodie on ex-Cane Frank Gore back in the 3-0-5 for first time in 14 years.

ShaqONE HURRICANE MAKES COLLEGE  FOOTBALL TOP  50: Better than nothing, I suppose. One Miami Hurricanes makes ESPN's new Top 50 ranking of the best players in college football entering the 2018 season. Unsurprisingly, it's inside linebacker Shaq Quarterman, the tackle machine, who makes it at No. 48. Quarterman (pictured) figures as the figurative and literal center of what should be a formidable UM defense. Four other state-college players make it: No. 20 UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton, No. 21 FSU running back Cam Akers, No. 34 FSU cornerback Levonta Taylor and No. 50 FAU running back Devin Singletary. Click here for the full story and top-50 list.

Clay19ALI (THEN STILL CASSIUS CLAY) in MIAMI BEACH AT AGE 19: Saw this photo on Pinterest. Unfortunately there was no credit given to a photographer, but clearly it was taken at the original 5th Street Gym on Miami Beach, reportedly in 1961 when the then-still Cassius Clay would have been 19. Clay would change his name to Muhammad Ali three years later. Notice the spanking clean signage and what appears to be a freshly painted wall. That's a far cry from the dingy, dilapidated charm the place would take on before the building at last was demolished in 1993. 

RyantDOLPHINS' TANNEHILL 24TH IN NEW QB RANKING: From Pro Football Focus, for what it's worth, comes a new ranking of all 32 expected starting quarterbacks entering the '18 season, and Miami's Ryan Tannehill (pictured) checks in a rather disrespected No. 24. Old man Tom Brady of the Patriots is No. 1, but the other two QBs in the AFC East form the list's caboose: the Jets' Josh McCown 31st and the Bills' A.J. McCarron 32nd.

Other recent columnsDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy One, on start of training camp, and To 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.

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNS: The 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

August 04, 2018

The new Hot Button Top 10: Football in top spot, but see which team and what else falls where; plus our latest columns, your Dwyane Wade verdict, 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY-MONDAY, AUGUST 4-6. Posting Sunday's Hot Button Top 10 early this week because I'm-a takin' the long weekend off! 2) 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane Wade's next move with poll, Frank Gore's perfect end run, NFL cluelessness on anthem protests, Zach Thomas and Canton & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: On NFL's quagmire, Gore's homecoming: Click on NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest Quagmire and Gore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End Run to read my most recent columns. The headlines are pretty self-explanatory. One's on Roger Goodell's cluelessness, the other's a feelgoodie on ex-Cane Frank Gore back in the 3-0-5 for first time in 14 years.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (AUGUST 5): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (posted a bit early this week) 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: Let the (preseason) games begin!: Are you ready for some football? Better question: Are the Miami Dolphins ready for some football? After a little over a week of practice and then Saturday's midday scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami plays its first of four exhibition games Thursday August 9 vs. Tampa Bay at The Rock. It'll be a play-everybody dress rehearsal with early roster trims in mind, yes. Who wins won't count for much, no. But, still: Football's back, baby!

2. HURRICANES: UM football No. 8 in first big preseason poll: With the Sept. 2 season opener looming, the high hopes for Canes football got validation with The U's debut at No. 8 in the nation in the USA Today Coaches poll, the first major ranking out -- marking UM's first time in a preseason top 10 since 2005. The  bad news? Miami's ACC roadblock, Clemson, checks in No. 2, trailing only (of course) Alabama.

3. MLS MIAMI: Team takes shape as new GM is hired: Paul McDonough was Atlanta United's VP of soccer operations. Now he is Miami's new general manager who'll start putting together the Major League Soccer expansion team's roster. (Although McDonough's official title here will be "Sporting Director." Which is sooo soccer). The Jorge Mas/David Beckham's group's team is to begin play in 2020 and be in its new stadium by 2021, presuming a November referendum green-lights the Melreese site.

4. MARLINS: Two small trades, one special callup top week: Fish beat the MLB trade deadline by dealing middle reliever Brad Ziegler and outfielder Cameron Maybin for prospects. It's who they didn't trade (J.T. Realmuto) that mattered. And this: Outfielder Isaac Galloway finally earning his promotion from Triple A and getting his first big league at-bat after 947 games in the minors. That's the kind of feelgood story baseball does best.

5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Trouble for Urban Meyer at Ohio State: Preseason No. 3 Ohio State got gut-punched when the university placed coach Urban Meyer on paid "administrative leave" pending an investigation whether Meyer knew of a 2015 domestic violence allegation against an assistant but did nothing. That's d-i-s-t-r-a-c-t-i-o-n. With a capital D.

6. GOLF: Tiger, Phil agree to mega-match: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson agreed to play a head-to-head match for a reported $10 million payout over the Thanksgiving weekend in (where else?) Las Vegas. Tiger is 42, Phil is 48, both are past their prime and this will be the biggest thing in golf. Not sure if that says more about the state of the sport or the enduring appeal and popularity of Tiger and Phil. But I'll watch.

7. LEGAL SYSTEM: Jose Fernandez estate settles suit: The estate of former Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez settled a wrongful-death suit brought by the families of the two men killed in the September 2016 boat crash that killed all three men. The agreement was reached on what would have been Fernandez's 26th birthday, bringing closer to closure one of the worst tragedies in South Florida sports history.

8. SOCCER: Brits rule ICC's swing through Miami: English Premier League giants Manchester United and Manchester City prevailed in the two International Champions Cup men's matches at Hard Rock Stadium. Man U defeated Spain's Real Madrid 2-1, after Man City beat Germany's Bayern Munich 3-2. The Real Madrid match drew a sellout of 64,000. Maybe they hadn't hard Cristiano Ronaldo was no longer with the team?

9. NFL: Ex-Cane Ray Lewis leads Hall inductees in Canton: After Thursday's Bears-Ravens game kicked off the preseason in Canton, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and no-show Terrell Owens led the Saturday parade of latest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Dear T.O.: Nobody missed you and you'll regret not going the rest of your life. Dear Hall voters: Compare Urlacher's career to Zach Thomas' and tell me why one was a first-ballot inductee and the other gets no love?

10. GOLF: Year's final major on deck: The 100th PGA Championship, the season's final major, is this coming Thursday through Sunday in Missouri. Will this be Tiger's breakthrough for his first career major win since 2008? And what's the over/under on how many times I've asked that since 2008?

Missing the HB10 cut: WWDD. What would Dwyane do? Free agent Dwyane Wade soon will decide either to play another season in Miami, retire, play in China or play elsewhere in the NBA. That's in order of likelihood, with one more Heat season the betting -- and sentimental -- favorite ..... NFL announced the 2019 Pro Bowl would be returning to Orlando, and nobody cared ..... Patriots sign Eric Decker. Evidently he was the last small white receiver available ...... Yankees at Red Sox on Sunday night. Still the best rivalry in sports. And getting better? ..... An Italian football team hired Art Briles. Um, did they not Google his name first!? ..... Juventus beats MLS All-Stars on penalties after a 1-1 draw.  Anything in sports worse than deciding soccer games on penalty-kick tiebreaker? ..... Dear young athletes who used to be dumb bigots: Erase those old Tweets! ..... Update. Countdown now 2,878 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

POLL RESULT: STRONG MAJORITY SEE D-WADE RETURNING TO HEAT: With Dwyane Wade a free agent at age 36 and expected to announce his intentions sometime this month, we asked, "What do you predict Dwyane Wade will do?" and offered four choices. "Play another season with the Heat" won easily with 69.95 percent, while "Follow money, play in China" drew 16.75%. Another 10.34% voted "Retire from basketball," and only 2.96% said "Sign with different NBA team."

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): HOT YELICH GROWS LEADThroughout 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 most highly regarded 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           .921   97 380 77 122   59  23-4-17     .321

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .849  107  419 67 116   66  20-1-25    .277

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .704  106 415  44 111   59  11-1-13     .267

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

Other recent columnsDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy One, on start of training camp, and To 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.

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

August 03, 2018

What will Dwyane Wade do? Poll. 4 choices. Last chance to vote!; plus NFL's continuing clueless quagmire on anthem protests, Zach Thomas and Canton, ode to Frank Gore's return to Miami & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, AUGUST 3. Goodbye July. Didn't like you much. Be better, August! 2) Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 3) 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. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdicts on Dolphins outlook and Tannehill, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GoodellLatest column: NFL, Goodell still clueless on protests: We have now entered Year 3 of the NFL's public relations nightmare over (some) players taking a knee during the pregame national anthem to protest social injustice. In May the league enacted what I call a Go-Hide policy that ruled all players on the field must stand and those who wish not to stand must be off the field and out of view. But blowback from the NFLPA put that policy on hold. So there is no policy at the moment, just presidential tweets and NFL cluelessness. (Combatants Roger Goodell and Donald Trump are pictured). I explore in my latest column. To read, click NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest Quagmire.

GoreTHE PERFECT END RUN: AN ODE TO FRANK GORE COMING HOME: Frank Gore is the 39th former Miami Hurricane to play for the Dolphins, but his homecoming feels more full-circle, more right than any of the others. He'll be the first Cane-turned-Dolphin to reach Canton and the Hall of Fame. Born and raised in Miami, now back here at age 35, the NFL's oldest running back, and still trying to  prove himself. I spoke privately to Gore (pictured) after a Dolphins practice this week and write about his homecoming, how it happened and how it makes him feel, in this column. To read it, click on Gore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End Run. Gore is not here in a ceremonial/mentor role only. Coach Adam Gase envisions more emphasis on the ground game this season, with Kenyan Drake and Gore expected to carry the major load. Who'll start is to be determined, but I'd imagine their touches will be similar, though perhaps with an edge for Drake because of his youth.

Other recent columnsDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy One, on start of training camp. To 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.

WadePOLL: ON DWYANE WADE'S PENDING DECISION: Within a few weeks the Heat expects free agent Dwyane Wade (pictured) to inform them of his intentions for the 2018-19 season. There is no indication he will join LeBron in L.A. or sign with any other NBA team. By all accounts he will A) play another season with Miami, B) retire, or C) follow the money to the Chinese Basketball League. This poll is not asking what you hope happens, but what you predict will happen -- what you'd bet on. Vote!

ZachSUPPORT FOR MY ZACH THOMAS-FOR-CANTON CAMPAIGN: Recently Kyle Brandt, a host of Good Morning Football on the NFL Network, spoke out about and also Tweeted why former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, emphasizing the similarity of his career accomplishments with those of newly minted first-ballot Canton inductee Brian Urlacher. Maybe Kyle read my column? I made the same case for Zach six months ago, this past Feb. 5. To read that column, click The Case for Zach Thomas And Canton.

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 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

July 23, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Dolphins training camp? Wade to China? Soccer? See what's No. 1 and who else falls where; plus our latest column (Fins), your Dolphins anthem-policy verdict, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 23. R.I.P., Tony Sparano, former Dolphins head coach, dead suddenly and unexpectedly at age 56. 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): Dolphins anthem policy poll, Miami MLS stadium wins to get on ballot, Time's Trump/Putin cover, your ASG vs. HRD verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Dolphins poised to exceed expectations as camp opens: The offseason segues into the preseason for the Dolphins and 31 other NFL teams with the full start of training camps this week. For Miami it's been a brutal offseason in terms of media criticism and low public perception. But fans should expect better as camp opens. I explore why in my latest column. Click Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal Offseason to read.

Other recent columnsSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootWhy 'Melo To Miami Would Be Strange MarriageLeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth ApplaudingTime 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.

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: Training camp opens under (more) anthem cloud: Offseason turns to preseason with Thursday's first full Dolphins practice of training camp. Meantime the NFL firestorm over national-anthem protests enters its third year with Miami in the middle. Dolphins instituted a policy threatening four-game suspensions for on-field protests, then walked that back as NFL put on hold its new go-hide policy mandating that any protests be off the field and out of view.

2. SOCCER: Miami MLS stadium gets onto ballot: By the perfect soccer score of 3-2 the Miami City Commission voted to allow the Miami Freedom Park soccer stadium initiative onto the November ballot. Public approval of a stadium at the Melreese site would then lead to lease negotiations between the Beckham group and city. Meantime the team set to begin play in 2020 has targeted Atlanta United VP Paul McDonough as its new general manager.

3. HEAT: No 'Melo. Now can Miami keep Wade from China?: Heat and Houston were after Carmelo Anthony, but he was traded to Atlanta in a three-team deal instead, continuing a quiet free agency period for Miami. When your biggest move is re-signing Wayne Ellington for one year, your offseason has been a Lollopa-snoozer. But that could change for the worse if Dwyane Wade, a free agent, actually leaves Miami for the Chinese league's Xinjiang Flying Tigers, who reportedly are offering a monster contract. "Qing buyao zou, Dwyane!" (That means please don't go).

4. MARLINS: Fish back at it after break, stay hot: Miami is now 23-19 since June 5 including 2-1 after the All-Star break after winning the series in Tampa Bay today before now playing six straight at home vs. NL East rivals Atlanta and Washington. With the July 29 trade deadline looming, let's see if Derek Jeter does right and holds onto all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto and ace closer Kyle Barraclough.

5. SOCCER: Hard Rock poised to host ICC soccer: The annual International Champions Cup, a brainchild of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, is coming to Hard Rock Stadium, with Manchester City facing Bayern Munich this coming Saturday and then Manchester United vs. Real Madrid July 31. No more Ronaldo for Real, alas. Still, these club giants figure to deliver a level of futbol comparable to or even exceeding what we just saw in the World Cup.

6. GOLF: Tiger falters, Molinari wins British Open: Tiger Woods shot 66 at Carnoustie in Scotland Saturday, his best major round in seven years, and briefly held the lead Sunday before faltering in the British Open. Tiger in the hunt in a major was all we can ask for. Wait. Check that. I guess all we can ask for would have been his first major win since 2008. Instead Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to win a major. Quick aside: British Open courses are the ugliest on Earth, and those painted-green greens surrounded by brown look ridiculous.

7. HURRICANES: ACC Media Days means football is near: As Mark Richt plans for his Paradise Camp this coming Saturday, ACC Media Day were held in Charlotte. The consensus? Miami should be really good in 2018, and with eight returning starters on defense that Turnover Chain should be flyin'. Canes should win the Coastal Division and have a rematch with Clemson for the conference crown. Wait, we had to fly to Charlotte for that

8. NBA: Kawhi Leonard trade tops the week: San Antonio Spurs traded disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard to Toronto even-up for DeMar DeRozan n a deal that didn't seem to please either player but likely helped both teams. It was NBA's biggest offseason move; well, other than that guy whatshisname going from Cleveland to the Lakers.

9. MLB: It was an especially wild All-Star break: The AL beat the NL 8-6 in a homerfest, one night after hometown hero Bryce Harper won the Home Run Derby. Oh, and Hialeah-born Manny Machado was being traded from the Orioles to the Dodgers during the game. And, oh yeah, it blew up on social media in the middle of the ASG -- while he was on the mound -- that Brewers pitcher Josh Hader had a teenage history of racist, homophobic tweets. Oy!

10. ESPN: ESPY Awards go heavy on emotion: Nobody will remember who won the top individual awards, but few will forget the emotional chords struck as ESPN (appropriately) honored the sexual abuse survivors of disgraced Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser and the three coaches who were among the mass shooting victims at Parkland's Stoneman Douglas High.

Missing the HB10 cut: Big3 basketball, a league of unretired former NBA players, came to the Heat's arena with a tripleheader Friday night. Somewhere, the guy running the Harlem Globetrotters, once the sport's reigning novelty act, is softly weeping ..... Baseball Hall of Fame inductions are next Sunday in Cooperstown. Terrell Owens is boycotting that one, too ..... The Tour de France ends next Sunday. It will be won by somebody I've never heard of and whose name I'll immediately forget ..... Update. Countdown now 2,892 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

POLL RESULTS: POLARIZING, BUT MAJORITY AGAINST NEW DOLPHINS ANTHEM POLICY: We asked, "What do you think of the Miami Dolphins' new national anthem policy threatening players who protest on the field with four-game suspensions or fines?" The response was voluminous (you may still vote), and last we checked it was 60.61 percent against, 36.60% for and 2.79% undecided. Of note, it opened around 70% percent against, but the "for" votes gained traction.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): YELICH PUSHING 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 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       .859   96  378  59 105   57  18-1-23    .278

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .856   85 330  62 100   47  18-3-12     .303

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .685   95 370  39  98   51   9-1-10      .265

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 21, 2018

What do you think of Dolphins' controversial new anthem policy? Poll. Last day to vote!: plus our latest columns on Dolphins, MLS Miami soccer; also, Time's Trump/Putin cover, your ASG vs. HRD verdict & more

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

Cotefrench1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 21. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from this week's LeBatard Show. Got a kick out of the artwork pictured at right, courtesy loyal show fan @oigomusic. It was inspired by a World Cup conversation that included me mentioning that the Cote family has partly French ancestry. Chris wears that jaunty beret quite well! 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): Marlins at the break and Jeter's plan, All-Star Game vs. Home Run Derby poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Why Dolphins are poised to exceed expectations: Estimations by the national NFL media and resulting public opinion have been brutal to the Dolphins this offseason. But fans should expect better as training camp begins this coming week. I explore in my latest column. Click Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal Offseason to read.

DolkneelPOLL: FOR OR AGAINST DOLPHINS' NEW ANTHEM POLICY?: The NFL and its players association agreed Thursday to suspend implementation of its new national anthem policy -- requiring players who wish not to stand to stay off the field -- pending further negotiations. while the two sides work on a resolution. That was in reaction to broad criticism after an Associated Press report that the Dolphins' new team policy threatens players who protest on the field with  up to a four-game suspension and fine. The Dolphins later clarified that "all options are open," and that kneeling players wouldn't necessarily be suspended or fined. In other words, for the NFL and the Dolphins, this whole issue remains a holy, unwinnable  and unsettled mess entering its third season clouding the NFL. I'm a freedom-of-expression guy who also believes the cause of the kneeling -- social justice and prejudice against blacks -- is a righteous one. Now have your say on the Dolphins' new policy:

MIAMI MLS SOCCER STADIUM: IT STILL WON'T COME EASY: Wednesday was a big day along the road to fruition for Miami's Major League Soccer expansion team being shepherded by the Masgroup headed by David Beckham and Jorge Mas. Mas is pictured. He's the one with the relieved smile. The 3-2 Miami City Commission vote to put the proposed Miami Freedom Park at Melreese measure on the November ballot was significant. I'd be shocked if it didn't pass, with strong support from Miami mayor Francis Suarez and with all the advertising money one envisions coming from the Beckham group as the vote nears. But hurdles remain even presuming the voters say yay, as I write in my latest column. Click on Soccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work Left to read in full. As commissioner Ken Russell said, "There's so many places this could [still] die along the way." Negotiations on the lease will be complicated, and tough. The city will be very demanding. That's the Loria Lesson. The city and county were played for fools in the Marlins Park deal, and so the due diligence on getting the best deal from Beckham/Mas will be painstaking. That will make difficult the October 2019 deadline for breaking ground on the new stadium. Missing that deadline could jeopardize the entire project and future of MLS in Miami or, at best, mean the stadium wouldn't be ready by the 2021 season (after the inaugural 2020-season home games are played at Hard Rock Stadium or Marlins Park or a combination). Wednesday was a significant step, but there remains a long way to go.

Other recent columnsReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes Root (on Marlins at the break). And Beckham Group's New Theme Song: It Don't Come Easy and Let The Voters Decide (our two previous columns on Miami MLS soccer stadium debate vs. Melreese golf). Also: Why 'Melo To Miami Would Be Strange MarriageLeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth Applauding7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursEnd the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallTannehill's Defining Season. And Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris. (For our column page, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

ComboTIME MAGAZINE'S FRIGHTENING NEW COVER: It depicts a combination of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin as one person. Click here for the story behind the cover, including a video that shows one man morphing into the other, and back. Eerie, especially in light of the Helsinki summit.

POLL RESULT: HOME RUN DERBY RULES: In a poll on our Twitter site we asked, "Which of MLB's two main midseason events do you prefer?" and, with nearly 1,000 votes cast, the Home Run Derby clobbered the All-Star Game by 71 percent to 29%. We asked the same question in a blog poll with very different results -- ASG beating HRD by 57.14% to 42.86% -- but that attracted fewer votes than any blog poll we've ever done.

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 16, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who won week's pitched battle for No. 1 (surprise!) and what else lands where; plus Viva La France!, MLS Miami vs. Melreese (my column, your poll verdict), 4-Man Outfield (final first half) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 16. Thanks again to Ari Odzer and NBC6 for featuring us in this David Beckham/soccer report. Enjoyed it. 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): MLS Miami soccer vs. Melreese golf drama and poll, Heat's interest in Carmelo Anthony, World Cup semifinals, Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

BeckhamDOS COLUMNAS EN BECKHAM/MLS MIAMI: We had two columns last week on the Beckham/Mas group's continuing bid to build a stadium in Miami for their Major League Soccer expansion team. The most recent: Beckham Group's New Theme Song: It Don't Come Easy, following Thursday night's postponement of a vote whether to allow the stadium referendum on the November ballot. (David Beckham and Jorge Mas are pictured at that meeting of the Miami City Commission). And prior: Let The Voters Decide, exhorting commissioners to approve the referendum. (We also had a blogpoll on this matter. Results are below).

Other recent columnsWhy 'Melo To Miami Would Be Strange MarriageLeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth ApplaudingLeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-OnMLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDDATED): 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: Major Wednesday vote to steer MLS Miami future: David Beckham and Jorge Mas will have one last shot Wednesday to convince the Miami City Commission to place the Miami Freedom Park/soccer stadium item on the November ballot. Even if voters then approved it for the Melreese golf sight, the city would have to green-light the project. Beckham's stardom and Mas' billions vs. a bunch of golf moms hardly seems fair, but Beckham/Mas aren't out of it yet.

2. WORLD CUP: Viva La France! Viva La France!: France defeated Croatia 4-2 today in Russia for the 2018 World Cup championship, after Belgium beat England 2-nil Saturday in the Game Nobody Wants, a.k.a the third-place match. As a totally impartial journalist, I was wearing a jaunty beret and shouting "Viva la France!" today vs. the dirty, shoving Croatians who thugged their way past the Brits in the semifinals thanks to a cowardly referee afraid of yellow cards. 

3. MLB: Home Run Derby, All-Star Game on deck: All-Star Week festivities rolled out Sunday at Nationals Park in D.C. with the Futures Game and all-star softball. Tonight comes the Home Run Derby, albeit a low-watt version compared to last year's sizzler at Marlins Park. (When the star sluggers pass -- talking to you, Aaron Judge -- baseball is stuck with what the NBA's Slam-Dunk Contest has become). Then Tuesday is the 89th All-Star Game, featuring Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and a bunch of other guys.

4. HEAT: Miami woos Carmelo Anthony: Miami reportedly is pursuing likely soon-to-be-free agent Carmelo Anthony, which sounds exciting until you remind yourself he's a 34-year-old defensive liability with fitness issues coming off the worst shooting season of his career. The good news? Most seem to think he'll sign with Houston. In other news, the Heat's youthful Summer League team finished 4-4 with Saturday's loss to Boston.

5. TENNIS: Joko's wild on Championship Weekend at Wimbledon:  In Sunday's men's final Novak Djokovic dispatched little-known Kevin Anderson, who may have been too tired to lift a racket after he beat American John Isner in a grueling 26-24 fifth set semifinal. It was Djokovic's fourth Wimbledon crown and first major title in just over two years. Angelique Kerber beat Serena Williams in straight sets in Saturday's women's finale. So, to summarize, within a few days, Serena was denied a record-tying 24th career major and missed her baby's first steps.

6. DOLPHINS: Finally! Training camp is upon us!: Fins rookies report this Wednesday and veterans report a week later, with the first full-squad practice scheduled for July 26. Then we begin to see on the field who's right: A confident team convinced it is playoff-bound. Or a skeptical national media that thinks a 6-10 team has had a tough offseason and is headed for more woe. Meantime the team may move its training camp to the main stadium site beginning in 2020.

7. MARLINS: Fish slide into break with strong first-half finish: Offering up a positive spin as the Fire-Sale Fish closed the first half of the schedule Sunday here vs. the Phillies with a rally-win on an 8-run fifth inning: After starting 20-39 Miami went 21-18, five teams have worse records at the break, and the Marlins are now on pace to lose only (!) 94 games. The slow ascent from abysmal to mediocre has seldom felt better!

8. SOCCER: Ronaldo changing uniforms: Portugese star Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the greatest active player on Earth (sorry, Messi), is taking his club-team talents from Real Madrid to Juventus on a crazy $117 million transfer fee. Juventus will pay Ronaldo $140 million over four seasons. (Um, they do realize h's 33 ... right?)

9. GOLF: Brkitish Open begins this week: Golf's next major begins this Thursday at Carnoustie. This is once again where we chew over whether Tiger Woods is finally "back" and ready to at last win his first major in 10 years, raising the volume when he shoots a solid early round, only to concede by the weekend it ain't-a gonna happen.

10. BIG3 BASKETBALL: BIG3 coming to Miami this week: Eager to see a  bunch of guys who retired from the NBA because they got too old or too slow but then decided to squeeze out that last ounce of octane in the tank? We got you covered! BIG3 basketball comes to the downtown Heat arena with four games this coming Friday night. This is where the joke goes about the Gatorade pail being filled with Geritol.

Missing the HB10 cut: John Cynn, 33, of Indianapolis, beat a field of 7,874 dreamers to win the $8.8 million grand prize in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys, but do put a deck of cards in the crib ..... Manny Pacquiao continued to not go away by knocking out WBA welterweight champ Lucas Matthysse last night ..... It's Miami Swim Week, where a bunch of models wearing almost nothing parade around. Wait, it isn't that every week in Miami? ..... The 26th ESPY Awards are this Wednesday night in L.A. Because there just are not nearly enough awards shows! ..... The Tour de France was a lot more interesting when every stage featured PED suspensions and spent needles all over the course ..... Update. Countdown now 2,899 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup ..... Thank goodness all 13 were safely rescued from that flooded Thai cave. Currently trapped even deeper in a flooded cave but with no hope of rescue: Papa John's stock.

POLL RESULT: MOST FAVOR MELREESE SITE FOR MLS SOCCER: We asked, "What best reflects your thought on the use of city-owned land near Miami International Airport?" Three choices were offered. Your verdict: 50.17 percent voted "Build Miami Freedom Park and the new MLS soccer stadium there"; 27.27% voted "Keep Melreese golf course there as it has been since 1961': and 22.56% voted "Let Miami voters decide with a ballot referendum in November."

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): STANTON ON TOP AT THE TURNThroughout 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       .864   94  371  58 103   55  18-1-23     .278

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .823   82  318  60  93   43  16-2-11     .292

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .693   90 351  38  94   49   9-1-10      .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.

Other select more recent columnsCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursEnd the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinTannehill's Defining SeasonHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris. (For our column page, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 09, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No.1 this week and what else falls where; plus your World Cup rooting-interest verdict, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 9. Surprise the Dolfans in your life. Give them our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): World Cup final-8 poll, LeBron to Lakers poll, the president and the press & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

I'm back!: Missed new columns from me lately? It's because I was on vacation last week. I'll be back with a new column later today. Meantime, our most recent columns: LeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth Applauding. Our four other columns from the past week: LeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-OnMLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town).

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. WORLD CUP: Unorthodox final four set to go!: It'll be neighbors France vs. Belgium on Tuesday and then England vs. Croatia on Wednesday in World Cup semifinal matches from Russia. No Brazil or anybody else from South America left. No world No. 1 Germany. Italy didn't even qualify. And no surviving team has won it all in at least 20 years. No matter the results from here, the 2018 World Cup will have been nothing if not ... refreshingly different. 

2. TENNIS: Top-seed Halep out as Wimbledon reaches midpoint: Unseeded Su-Wei Hsieh stunned No. 1-seed Simona Halelp as the forthnight at Wimbledon bounced to halftime with upsets galore on the women's side. Meantime her nanny revealed that new mom Serena Williams, still in play, missed her baby's first steps while practicing in London. Ouch. Onus now on Serena to win her first post-pregnancy major to make up for the missed milestone.

3. MARLINS: Realmuto an all-star; Fish ready to ride homestand to break: After closing victoriously at Washington Sunday the Marlins have a six-game homestand starting tonight to carry them into the midseason break for the July 17 All-Star Game. Catcher J.T. Realmuto will be the Marlins' lone representative in the ASG, selected as a reserve Sunday evening.

4. DOLPHINS: Low grade for Fins as camp nears: Oy! With Dolphins training camp poised to start in six days with rookies reporting, Miami's offseason is graded a C-minus in an ESPN ranking of how all 32 NFL teams have done. Only two teams (Carolina and Detroit) are graded lower.

5. MLB: All-Stars announced on Sunday: The selection show for the July 17 All-Star Game was last evening on ESPN. No Marlins were voted in, but catcher J.T. Reamuto made it as a reserve. Now comes a few days of baseball writers chewing over their list of top "snubs." (Bor-ring!)

6. NBA: Is LeBron-as-Laker any closer to crown?: LeBron James going to L.A. seemed a huge deal, but then champ Golden State also got better in summer free agency, and now one wonders if LeBron is any closer to what he wants now than he was in Cleveland. The answer may lie in the biggest offseason prize left: Kawhi Leonard. Will the Spurs trade him? And to whom?

7. HEAT: Miami continues in Summer League play: Quiet on the free agency front, the Heat are now 0-2 in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas after going 2-1 in Sacramento. Miami next faces Utah on Tuesday. Derrick Jones Jr. has been tearin' it up. Um, can we even pretend we really care?

8. NASCAR: Jones survived wreck-o-rama: Erik Jones didn't so much win as survive a wreck-filled race at Daytona for his first NASCAR title. Meantime Brad Keselowski vowed to wreck blockers moving forward. By the time the race finished it felt like there'd been more yellow flags than cars left on the track. 

9. UFC: Cormier wins heavyweight title: Daniel Cormier defeated Stipe Miocic to win the heavyweight championship at UFC 226. The obvious question arising from the bout? Who on Earth names their baby boy "Stipe"?

10. THAI RESCUE: Cave rescues begin: The first four boys have been removed from that flooded cave in Thailand. A soccer team and their coach have been trapped. I just bet big that they'll be honored on the ESPY Awards. There's a wager for everything, isn't there!

Missing the HB10 cut: Scandal rocks the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest! Apparently some of the totals were suspect. No wonder. You couldn't pay me enough to judge that mess. I get nauseous just watching ..... The Big3 basketball league is back. Some things you can't stop no matter how hard you try ..... The Tour de France is underway. Gentlemen, start your PEDs? ..... The British Open is in 11 days. You know it's a slow time on the sports calendar when we're counting down to the British Open ..... Update. Countdown now 2,906 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

EnglandPOLL RESULT: YOUR WORLD CUP ROOTING INTEREST? ENGLAND ALL THE WAY!: With the World Cup down to its final eight teams (before the paring to four), we asked, "Which of the final eight teams do you hope wins it all?" Your results, among the four surviving teams: England with 32.89 percent, Belgium 14.91%, France 9.18% and Croatia 8.60%. Among the now-eliminated teams it was Brazil 11.47%, Uruguay 10.90%, Russia 6.12% and Sweden 5.93%. Considering it was a combined 65.58% for the surviving teams and 34.42% for the ousted ... you got the final four you wanted.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): WILL BRINSON EVER GET TO .200?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). 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       .852   86  337  52  90   51  17-1-21     .267

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .821   74  281  55  80   36  12-2-11     .285

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .714   85 331  36  91   47   9-1-10      .275

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.

Other select more recent columnsCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursEnd the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinTannehill's Defining SeasonHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris. (For our column page, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote