February 24, 2018

Ten years past his glory days, why Tiger Woods is still the best thing in golf. New column; plus Panthers embrace of Stoneman Douglas, the incongruous buoyancy of Marlins spring training, latest Back In My Day video (Concerts!) & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24. 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): Hot Button Top 10, columns on Derek Jeter and Stoneman Douglas shooting, your verdict on Jeter, Dear Greg & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

TigerTEN YEARS PAST HIS  GLORY DAYS, TIGER IS STILL THE GREATEST SHOW IN GOLF: Tiger Woods is playing in this week's Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. I was up there for Thursday's first round -- Tiger shot even-par 70 -- and wrote how loyal his massive support remains even as he hasn't won in a long time. Entering today's third round he is one-over, four shots off the lead. For my column, click: Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed.

Stoneman17PANTHERS RETURN HOME WITH EMBRACE OF STONEMAN DOUGLAS: The Florida Panthers, the local pro team closest both logistically and emotionally to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, tonight plays its first home game since last week's mass shooting that killed 17 at the school. The occasion will be in manhy ways a tribute to the victims of the tragedy. In my latest column I explore the bond between the Panthers and the Parkland community, and marvel at the inspiration arising from the tragedy thanks to student activists now taking on the fight against assault weapons. For that latest column, click: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts. For my first Stoneman Douglas column in the wake of the shooting, click: Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing. Quick aside: Fascinating, emotional CNN Town Hall from the Panthers arena last night. Give Marco Rubio and the NRA spokesperson this much, at least: They showed up and faced the anger. #NeverAgain 

JeterAN UNEXPECTED AND INCONGRUOUS BUOYANCY AS MARLINS OPEN FULL SPRING TRAINING: You may hate what Derek Jeter (pictured) has done to the Marlins, trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon in the latest fire sale. I hate it, as I wrote in this recent column: Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season. But I was in Jupiter for Monday's start of full spring training and sensed and saw a fresh-start feel, a clubhouse buying in to Jeter's plan. The Captain has instilled in the team the idea this may be  bitter pill but that it was necessary. After slamming Jeter in the aforementioned column, I went up there looking for positives. And found some. For that column, click: Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking?

THE LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': CONCERTS!: The new 'Back In My day' video form Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio, reminisces about the days when music fans waited in long lines, sometimes overnight, to buy tickets. One note: I made a  mistake. I refer in the video to a Springsteen fan who knows how to sing "Rosalinda's Eyes" backward. That, of course, is a Billy Joel song. I think I was thinking of the Springsteen song, "Rosalita," but misspoke.

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 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

February 13, 2018

The new 'Back In My Day' video (Strange Signs!); plus LeBron wins in Cavs' mega-trade, but Heat won, too. My column; also, latest Hot Button Top 10, our D.Wade welcome-back trilogy, your Winter Olympics verdict & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13. The Dolfans in your life may not know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our ultimate franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane Wade returns to Heat, rating Hurricanes' Top 10 recruits, Winter Olympics poll & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': STRANGE SIGNS!: The latest installment in our BIMD series, from today's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNU:

LEBRON FLEXED HIS POWER AND WON AGAIN ... BUT SO DID THE HEAT: As usual, in-charge LeBron James won big in last week's Cleveland Cavaliers mega-trade. He gets a better team for another run to the NBA Finals. He gets a few months to decide if it's good enough to make him stay. And as a bonus he gets to put a smile on best buddy Dwyane Wade's face. My latest column: Click LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami to read.

Wade3HOMECOMING: THE DWYANE WADE TRILOGY: Dwyane Wade's sudden, unexpected and warmly received return to the Miami Heat by trade this week delighted South Florida. The news was all-ways good. Good for Wade. Good for the Heat. Good for Miami and its fans. Good from an emotional view. And good from a basketball standpoint, too. I responded to the big reunion with three columns: ICYMI, click Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night for my column from the arena Friday night as emotion and applause enveloped No. 3. Click Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 for my middle column on role Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra envision. And click Welcome Home, D.Wade for my initial column reacting to Thursday's trade.

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: Dwyane Wade returns!: It wasn't a basketball game it was a love-in as Dwyane Wade returned to the Heat after 1 1/2 seasons away and estranged from the club. He scored only three points in his homecoming game but it sounded like 30 as Miami fans showed No. 3 the love. Welcome back, D.Wade. After all, the 3-0-5 starts with what number again?

2. HURRICANES: Mark Richt, UM score top-10 recruiting class: Canes football scored a National Signing Day bounty of 23 players that was ranked No. 8 in the nation by both ESPN and recruiting bible 247sports.com. That's the good news. The bad? One of the schools ranked even higher is the powerhouse team UM must catch in the ACC: Clemson.

3. MARLINS: Decimated Fish prepare to open spring training: The Marlins held their annual FanFest at the stadium Saturday, although we'd call it SadFest after a Derek Jeter fire sale that plundered the roster of its four biggest stars. Now spring training in Jupiter begins this Wednesday with pitchers and catchers reporting. The season outlook is bleak. And that's the positive spin.

4. OLYMPICS: Winter Games underway in South Korea: Curling, skeleton, frostbite -- all of the wintry sports we love are back as the world competes in Pyeongchang. U.S. speedskater Shani Davis skipped the Opening Ceremony after losing a coin flip to be flag bearer. Ah, sportsmanship! 

5. PANTHERS: Erratic Cats still a playoff longshot: Florida has won four of its past five games as it begins a five-game road trip tonight in Edmonton, but the recent hot streak -- OK, tepid, at least -- has not repaired the season outlook. The Panthers are nine points off playoff pace and will need one of Al Michaels' miracles on ice to reach the NHL postseason.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes prepare to host No. 2 Virginia: Jim Larranaga's guys can't stand good fortune. They finally climb back into the Top 25 and then lose one they shouldn't  have to Boston College Saturday. Now they host No. 2 Virginia on Tuesday in a gauge-game that will tell us how good the 18-6 Hurricanes really are.

7. SOCCER: Miamian elected president of U.S. Soccer: Carlos Cordeiro, 61, of Miami Beach, was named new president of U.S. Soccer, and is the first Hispanic in the role. Considering the U.S. men's national team men just embarrassingly failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup, he has his work cut out. 

8. NBA: Countdown 6 days 'til All-Star Game: The NBA All-Star Game is next Sunday in Los Angeles, and it'll be Team LeBron James vs. Team Steph Curry in a game sure to include no defense whatsoever. Last year the Western Conference won, 192-182, the highest-scoring ASG ever. The Washington Generals play better D against the Harlem Globetrotters.

9. UM BASEBALL: Jim Morris' final season on deck: Opening Day for Canes baseball is this coming Friday, and it's the final season for longtime coach Jim Morris before retiring. Last year UM's decades-long streak of NCAA Tournament appearances ended. Let's see if Morris can fashion a proper exit for himself. Omaha, anyone?

10. TENNIS: Serena commits to Miami Open: The tournament starts March 19 in its final time on Key Biscayne before moving to Hard Rock Stadium, and the top men and women in the world will be here. That will include new mom Serena Williams in her first major tournament since giving birth five months ago. She could play while holding the baby and still win. 

Missing the HB10 cut: The new NASCAR season begins next Sunday with the Daytona 500. Emotional highlight? How about the final Daytona ride for Danica Patrick? Few athletes have ever been more popular with less winning. That's a compliment. Sort of ..... Everybody seems to think the Patriots dynasty is finished. Well, I should say everybody except the millions whose early bets on next season have made New England the Super Bowl favorite. Again ..... Philadelphia held its championship parade for the Eagles. Really slow parade, though, because all of the players were riding in overturned cars ..... Boston sportswriter Ron Borges catching a lot of heat by being duped into a false story. How about a little heat, please, for the idiot who perpetrated the hoax? ..... There will be a Monster Jam truck event next weekend at Marlins Park. Those are the stupid-big trucks on enormous tires that bounce over dirt hills, the curious popularity of the event verifying what P.T. Barnum said about there being a sucker born every minute.

POLL RESULT: INTEREST IN WINTER OLYMPICS IS LUKEWARM: We asked what best describes your interest level in the Winter Olympics, and results were widely split. It was 35.58 percent "moderate," 30.77% "low," 20.19% "uninterested" and 13.46% "keen." That's low-or-non edging keen-to-moderate by 50.96% to 49.04%.

Select other recent columns: Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last. Dear Canton: Call Zach. 7-7-7. Also: The Historic Super Bowl the NFL NeedsExploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamA Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins PegasusThe Upside Of a Fire SaleAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameCanes' 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

February 07, 2018

Zach Thomas deserves to be in Canton!; plus Hurricanes recruiting bounty (new column), latest Back In My Day video (Flyswatters!), the 3 reasons Pats' McDaniels snubbed Colts, a reason to (sort of, almost) like Marlins & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7. Still celebrating our correct Eagles upset pick in the Super Bowl. Click The Historic Super Bowl the NFL Needs for my column, and Super Bowl Gem for my bull's-eye pick. 2) The Dolfans in your life may not know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our ultimate franchise history book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Eagles stun Patriots in Super Bowl, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

New column: On Hurricanes 2018 recruiting class: Click on Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last to read. 

ZachZACH THOMAS DESERVES TO BE IN THE HALL OF FAME: I thought this last year when his longtime Dolphins runningmate Jason Taylor breezed into Canton and Zach once again didn't even make it to the second round in voting. I especially thought it this past weekend when Brian Urlacher was elected in his first year of eligibility and Zach once again was shunned. In my latest column I make the case why Thomas' career stacks up well vs. both Taylor and Urlacher. Click on Dear Canton: Call Zach to read it.

JoshTHE 3 REASONS WHY JOSH MCDANIELS SNUBBED COLTS TO STAY WITH PATRIOTS: Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels decided to become the Indianapolis Colts next head coach, then changed his mind, embarrassing Indy. Why? 1) Robert Kraft despises the Colts, the team that ratted out New England over Deflategate, and ordered a financial offer to McDaniels that would keep him. 2) Tom Brady at 40 is healthier and still better than Andrew Luck at 28. And 3) McDaniels is now positioned as heir apparent to Bill Belichick in a way  he was not previously.

SamsonA REASON TO LIKE THE MARLINS, SORT OF: Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill, former club president David Samson and Mr. Marlin, Jeff Conine, just ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. You might dislike the Marlins because of the Derek Jeter fire sale. You might dislike Samson because he was the right-hand man of unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria. But you must admire the extraordinary feat these people just accomplished.  Click on 7-7-7 for the story. (Samson is pictured running in the sixth of seven marathons, on Sunday in Cartagena, Colombia). 

THE NEW BACK IN MY DAY: FLYSWATTERS!: From today's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio:

Select other recent columns: Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A Team. Also: A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins PegasusThe Upside Of a Fire SaleAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameCanes' 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 29, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A surprise No. 1, and see what else falls where; plus my Pegasus World Cup column, our Wondrous Weekend, Marlins reboot has a face now & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 29. 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Yelich but get Brinson, Hoffman 5th (sort of) Marlin in Hall, appreciation of Brady/Patriots run, your will/want Super Bowl verdicts & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GerouxLatest column: On the $16 Million Pegasus at Gulfstream: Variety is a favorite part of my job, and leaving the comfort zone for different columns. My latest is one. Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus. Pictured is the winning jockey I write about, and the father he recently lost. Other most recent columns: The Upside Of a Fire Sale (on Lewis Brinson becoming the face of the Marlins' reboot). Appreciating Wayne Huizenga. And When Victims Seize The Power (on the Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics trial).

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. SOCCER: Finally! Miami MLS team becomes official: It took four years, wrangling over a stadium site, changing financial backers and machete’ing through political red tape, but David Beckham at last is set to announce today/Monday that a Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami is officially a reality. All along, of course, that’s been the goooooaaaaalllll!!!

2. MARLINS: Fish continue fire sale, deal Yelich: Now all but a minor-league team, the Marlins continued their fire sale reboot by trading Christian Yelich to Brewers. The good news? They got an elite prospect in return in CF Lewis Brinson, who played at Coral Springs High. He said he was thrilled to be a Marlin, which alone distinguishes him from the vast majority.

3. HORSE RACING: Gun Runner wins Pegasus at Gulfstream: Eleven horses including favorite and winner Gun Runner ran Saturday in Hallandale for a $16 million purse in second annual Pegasus World Cup, the globe’s richest horse race — a purse more than triple the combined payout of Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Mamas, do let your babies grow up to be jockeys. (Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus for my column from the race).

4. NFL: Pro Bowl begins countdown to Super Bowl: Pro Bowl was Sunday in Orlando, the all-star game every player wants to be chosen for but nobody really wants to play in, and few fans care about watching. Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry played as AFC won 24-23. It began the seven-day countdown to next Sunday's Big Event: TV commercials vying to see which is best in a competition unfortunately interrupted by a football game.

5. HEAT: All-Star snub slights Miami: Heat had lost four of past six before Saturday's win over Charlotte but hang onto fourth place in the conference as they embark on a four-game roadie. Miami is the first top-four Eastern Conference team in 25 years to not have a player in NBA All-Star Game. It’s one more reason we know who the team’s real star is. It’s Erik Spoelstra.

6. TENNIS: Federer, Wozniacki win Aussie titles: It was Roger Federer over Marin Cilic for the men's crown and his 20th major Sunday at the Australian Open after Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday made the year's first major her first Grand Slam title by beating Simona Halep. Those were either the tournament's four best players, or the only four to survive the searing heat.

7. NHL: Barkov reps Cats in All-Star game: With Sasha Barkov as Florida's lone player in it, the 63rd NHL All-Star Game skated Sunday evening in Tampa. It was again the 3-on-3 tournament format introduced in 2016, with teams repping the four divisions playing in semifinals to reach the main game. No, it could not be any more confusing.

8. RUNNING: Miami Marathon happened while you slept: More than 20,000 runners competed Sunday in the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon, which began at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m. You've never heard of the winners, so what's the point of saying them? Once again I meant to compete, but an utter lack of interest and ambition got in the way.

9. SENIOR BOWL: Dolphins there scouting for draft: It was North vs. South on Saturday in Mobile, AL, with Canes Braxton Berrios and Michael Badgley among participants. Dolphins were among NFL teams scouting the annual all-star game with April's NFL Draft in mind. Um, Baker Mayfield, anyone? 

10. LARRY NASSAR: USA Gymnastics doctor will die in jail: USA Gymnastics predator/doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually molesting dozens of girls and women under the guise of treatment. People who feel sorry for him will be meeting in that phone booth over there. Plenty of room left.

Missing the HB10 cut: Former Marlins president David Samson is running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days beginning Tuesday in a continuing effort to get as far from Jeffrey Loria as he possibly can ..... Canes men's basketball, 5-5 since a 10-0 start, fell at Florida State Saturday. So that return to the Top 25 continues on indefinite hold ..... The XFL, one and done in 2001, is being brought back for a 2020 startup by WWE boss Vince McMahon. But it won't be gimmicky this time. Said the man who runs pro wrestling (!) ..... If sports gambling is legalized, the NBA wants in on the profits. Or what? Refuse to play? ..... The Marlins' expanded protective netting is expected to prevent injuries. Unfortunately, it will not prevent losses ..... He won't come close to winning, but at Torrey Pines in California Tiger Woods made a PGA Tour cut for the first time since 2015 to begin his 743rd attempted comeback from back issues ..... Answer: The Packers rehired Joe Philbin as offensive coordinator. Question: Why do people get the idea Green Bay is in decline? ..... It was Celtics-Warriors Saturday in a possible NBA Finals preview, Golden State winning 109-105. Needed a Boston win to at least pretend Warriors might be fallible ..... Countdown: 12 days 'til the Winter Olympics. Curling! Skeleton!
 

WE DECLARE IT A WONDROUS WEEKEND TO BE A SPORTS FAN IN SOUTH FLORIDA!: Periodically we declare a special day or weekend to be a sports fan in South Florida, and this is 

Senior bowl Pegasus Marathon Probowl Nhl asgone. The chronology of why: Saturday we had the Senior Bowl from Mobile, AL, featuring Hurricanes WR Braxton Berrios and PK Michael Badgley. UM men's basketball played at Florida State. The $16 million Pegasus World Cup ran at Gulfstream, with Gun Runner winning. The Heat hosted and beat Charlotte. (And it was Boston-Golden State in a possible NBA Finals preview). On Sunday, the Miami Marathon got running before you awakened, at 5:45 a.m. The NFL Pro Bowl is at 3 in Orlando, including Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry. And the NHL All-Star Game is at 6 in Tampa, with Sasha Barkov repping the Florida Panthers. And that's not to mention Australian Open tennis' championship weekend.  Yes, I am fully aware that the five big events whose logos are pictured here (and maybe tennis, too) are likely of very little interest to many of you. Hey, quit being so picky! Enjoy!

Select other columns: For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final FourAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: 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 25, 2018

On Yelich trade, bolstered state of Marlins farm system (with column); plus Hoffman becomes Marlins' 5th (sort of) Hall of Famer, an appreciation of G.O.A.T. Brady and Patriots, your 'will vs. want' Super Bowl verdicts & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 25. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast of this week's LeBatard Show. 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): Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl polls, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

BrinsonNOW YELICH. THE ONE UPSIDE OF JETER'S MARLINS' FIRE SALE: Derek Jeter is gutting the Marlins payroll. No doubt. No equivocating it. The latest sign: Thursday's trade of Christian Yelich to Milwaukee for four prospects. But if there is an upside to the fire sale it's that trading away high-priced talent for prospects is, naturally, bolstering the club's barren minor-league farm system. Evidence appears in Baseball America's new 2018 Top 100 MLB Prospects list. A year ago Miami had zero players on this list. Now there are four. The Yelich trade brought No. 18 overall in outfielder Lewis Brinson (pictured) and No. 75 in outfielder Monte Harrison. Brinson is Fort Lauderdale-born and played at Coral Springs High.  Click On The Upside Of a Fire Sale for my Brinson-themed latest column. Previously, No. 70, righty pitcher Sandy Alcantara was acquired in the trade that sent Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis, and No. 87, RHP Jorge Guzman, was obtained from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. The Marlins still lag a bit in the NL East based on the list, though. The Braves place eight prospects including No. 1 overall, the Phillies have five including No. 16, and the Nationals have a pair including No. 5. At the rear: the Mets, whose only ranked prospect is 94th. 

ThoffmanHOFFMAN ELECTED TO CONTINUE MARLINS TRADITION OF 'SORT OF' HALL OF FAMERS: This evening's announcement of the latest Baseball Hall of Fame Class to be voted in by BBWAA members (including myself) included four new guys: Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome swept in easily, and Trevor Hoffman made it more narrowly. Edgar Martinez, who some vote-tracking websites had as making it, narrowly missed. Also close but no: Mike Mussina, followed by steroids guys Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose support continues to climb every year. The relief ace and closer Hoffman began his career with the expansion then-Florida Marlins in 1993 as a rookie (pictured) before being traded to San Diego at midseason. He becomes the fifth player in Cooperstown to have worn a Marlins uniform, although none have entered the Hall under a Fish cap or played more than a small percentage of their overall careers in Miami. Marlins Hall of Famers (well, sort of) ranked by the percentage of their career games played with Marlins:

Hall of Famer           Miami years      Marlins share

Pudge Rodriguez         2003               6.23% (161 games of 2,583)

Andre   Dawson          1995-96           4.58% (121 games of 2,642)

Tim Raines                 2002               3.86% (98 games of 2,536)

Trevor Hoffman          1993               2.67% (28 games of 1,047)

Mike Piazza                1998               0.26% (5 games of 1,944)

Note: If you are wondering about likely future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, he'd be the "most Marlin" in Cooperstown. His Marlins share at the moment would be 32.31% (737 games of 2,281). Ichiro's Marlins share is 16.27% (432 games of 2,655).

BradygoatIN APPRECIATION OF THE BRADY/PATRIOTS RUN: It's a rite of winter every time this year in American sports: Complaining that Tom Brady and the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl. "Not again! Bor-ring!" It is driven by envy because 31 other NFL teams wish they had what New England does. But instead of scorn, the Pats deserve appreciation. What Brady and this franchise have done this century may not be seen again in this league for generations. Click on Set Aside Envy And Appreciate Greatness for my latest column.

Other most recent columns: His legacy needs a reboot, because South Florida's single most influential sports owner is too often remembered derisively. Click Appreciating Wayne Huizenga to read. (And thanks to Sports Illustrated/MMQB for the shoutout)  ///  The empowerment of the #MeToo movement was crushing Dr. Larry Nassar this week in the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, and it was awesome to see. Click When Victims Seize The Power (Thanks to Sarah Spain and others for the kind words).

POLL RESULTS: YOU THINK PATRIOTS WILL WIN SUPER BOWL, BUT WANT EAGLES: No surprises either way on this one. We asked who you think WILL win the Super Bowl, and it was 64.57 percent New England. We asked who you most WANT to win, and it was 72.90% Philadelphia. 

Select other recent columns: For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final FourAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: 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 SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonJeter 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 22, 2018

SUPER BOWL: EAGLES-PATRIOTS. Who you like? Who you want? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10: This week's new No. 1, and see what else falls where; also, rebooting Huizenga's legacy & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 22. The Dolfans in your life need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Fins franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The case for Canes going 12-0 in 2018, Kiper's mock pick for Dolphins, your will vs. want Super Bowl verdicts & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HuizengaThe most recent column platter: Huizenga, Nassar, Dolphins: Our latest column: His legacy needs a reboot, because South Florida's single most influential sports owner is too often remembered divisively. Click Appreciating Wayne Huizenga to read  ///  The empowerment of the #MeToo movement was crushing Dr. Larry Nassar this week in the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, and it was awesome to see. Click When Victims Seize The Power  ///  Looking at the AFC and NFC Championship Games and seeing why Dolphins fans might feel both renewed hope and increased frustration all at once. Click on For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final Four.

Sb18SUPER BOWL: PATRIOTS VS. EAGLES: WHO YOU LIKE? WHO YOU WANT?: New England Patriots rally Sunday to beat Jacksonville 24-20 in the AFC Championship Game. Then Philadelphia Eagles rout Minnesota 38-7 for the NFC crown. I had a solid day with my picks. Went 2-0 straight-up, calling the upset win by Philly, and 1-1 against the spread. (Click on Championship Sunday Gems for our full predix capsules). Now we prepare for a Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl in a duel of No. 1 conference seeds. And we offer up two polls here. Head vs. Heart. Think vs. Hope. Which team would you bet WILL win this Super Bowl. And which team do you most WANT to win. Vote now!

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

Hot1. NFL: Brady hands Pats comeback win, Eagles roll: It was Jacksonville at New England and then Minnesota at Philadelphia in Sunday play-ins for the Super Bowl. Eagles were a rare home-'dog No. 1 seed, but the big story going in was Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s right hand injury imperiling the defending champs' status as heavy favorites. Well guess what? He engineered a big comeback and the Eagles rocked 'n rolled.

2. HEAT: Miami surges, Dragic makes his late 'Star' push: Surging Miami has won eight of the past 10 after Saturday's 1-point win in Charlotte and is now within a half-game of third place in East entering Monday's game at mighty Houston. But will the wave be enough to lift guard Goran Dragic onto NBA All-Star team as Heat’s lone rep? We’ll know this week as reserves and final rosters are announced. Dragic stays quiet … but deserves the nod.

3. NASSAR TRIAL: USA Gymnastics sexual abuse trial ends: Disgraced national-team doctor Larry Nassar listened last week in Michigan courtroom as dozens of women — including gold medal-winning female Olympic gymnasts — spoke of the abuse at his hands under guise of treatment. He complained to judge that hearing it was bad for his mental health. And the number of people who felt sorry for Nassar was estimated between zero and nobody.

4. PANTHERS: Cats back in action with win as club honors Huizenga: Panthers are 1-1 since coming back onto NHL ice after a week off, but still with a sizable deficit to make up in playoff race. Meantime club honored founding owner Wayne Huizenga. Year of the Rat goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck was among Huizenga-era players back in town for the ceremony. Wish he’d brought some of that ’96 mojo with him.

5. MARLINS: Home Run Sculpture going, going, gone!: In yet another sign of the new-owner makeover, the Marlins quietly decided to remove the infamous, made-fun-of and mostly hated Home Run Sculpture from Marlins Park. So, following a bunch of public-relations faux pas by the new regime including the payroll-gutting trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna, it seems Derek Jeter finally did something sort of almost popular.

6. DOLPHINS: Big-time QB campaigns for Miami to draft him: Heisman Trophy-winning Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield’s #GetMeToMiami hashtag on social media -- during an Instagram live chat with Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, a former Sooner -- seems to be a suggestion that the Dolphins draft him 11th overall this April. And I’d say it could happen, but that would seem to be giving the Dolphins way too much credit for being bold.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Slumping Canes looking for a spark: Remember how the UM football team was 10-0 and then finished 10-3? Jim Larranaga's Canes men's hoops team started 10-0 and was ranked No. 6, but has since gone 4-4 after losing to Duke and then winning at North Carolina State, and will likely drop from the Top 25 in Monday's new rankings, a team in search of a spark just past midseason.

8. TENNIS: Australian Open reaches midpoint amid searing heat: Novak Djokovic was an upset loser and Maria Sharapova's comeback suffered a lopsided loss, but the overriding story in Melbourne midway through the year's first major has been the brutal heat, conditions that Rafael Nadal called "dangerous" for players. It's pretty bad when the tennis balls start melting. If concessionaires at the tournament could find a way to sell shade they'd be rich.

9. HORSE RACING: Five days 'til second Pegasus World Cup: It isn't a Triple Crown race. In some ways it isn't even Gulfstream's biggest event; the Florida Derby still is. But in a sport whose lifeblood is betting, it's hard to top the world's richest race: 12 horses gunning for a $16 million purse in the second annual Pegasus World Cup this coming Saturday.

10. UFC: The big boys take the spotlight: It was defending champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou atop the marquee for UFC 220 in Boston Saturday night, and Miocic dominated to feather his claim as the sport's best heavyweight fighter ever. 

Missing the HB10 cut: New York Mets announced their spring training would include a circus again this year. Welcome back, Tim Tebow! ..... We're seven days from the annual Miami Marathon, in which thousands of motorists are inconvenienced by blockaded streets so a bunch of other people can run from Point A to Point B for no apparent reason ..... His official physical exam indicated that President Donald Trump weighs 239 pounds. Um, uh, sure, yeah. And I'm a jockey right at 119.

Select other recent columns: And Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: 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 SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonJeter 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 08, 2018

Alabama-Georgia in CFP final: Who WILL win and who do you WANT to win? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your verdict on biggest Miami sports story of '17, my NFL playoff pick-results, new Sunday column (Heat) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 8. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest-Miami-sports-story-of-year poll, your biggest-national-story verdict, NFL playoff picks & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday column: Heat still out front. A state-of on Miami's four pro teams: The Heat are out front largely because the Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins all are in a transitional flux, at a crossroads, looking for a way. Click Will Somebody Please Rise Up for my latest column on the state of South Florida Big Four pro teams as 2018 unfurls.

FripixNFL Wild-Card Weekend pick results: We nailed the Falcons' upset win: We hit a bulls-eye on the Falcons' big upset of the Rams. Overall we went 3-1 straight-up and 2-2 against the spread in the first round, including Panthers-with-points vs. Saints. Click Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all our first-round picks as the Super Bowl Tournament began.

AlagacfpCFP CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: WHO WILL WIN, AND WHO YOU WANT TO WIN: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs tonight in Atlanta in the College Football Playoff championship game. Two polls here. First asks which team you think WILL win -- who you'd place a bet on straight-up. The second poll asks you you WANT to win -- where your rotting interest lies. Take a dip in both polls now!

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

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's Alabama-Georgia in Monday title game: Alabama is a small favorite in College Football Playoff's all-SEC championship, despite it being held in Atlanta, a home game for Georgia. Crimson Tide are in CFP final for third straight year but, for a change, Nick Saban might not be the least popular man in the stadium, because President Donald Trump plans to attend.
 
2. NFL: Four pretenders out, eight teams left as Super Bowl Tournament begins: Sayonara, Chiefs, Bills, Panthers and Rams. Nice barely knowin' ya. NFL playoffs are down to eight. Meantime ESPN reported a rift among Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady and suggested the empire may be crumbling. Um, the No. 1-seeded Pats, off a playoff bye, are Super Bowl favorites. Again. Oh to have such problems!

3. HEAT: Miami climbing in East standings: Heat has won four straight with Sunday's home win over Utah and risen to fifth in East, now only 1/2 game from fourth place. A now-reasonable goal: Host a first-round playoff series.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Hurricanes win to open three-game Litmus test: Canes' men's team started 10-0 and highly ranked then slumped. What are they trying to mimic the UM football team? (Ouch. Too soon?) But Jim Larranaga's guys are back on track at 13-2 after Sunday's big win over No. 24 Florida State. Two more ranked foes await in No. 25 Clemson and then home vs. No. 2 Duke.
 
5. DOLPHINS: Problem solved! Fins hire new offensive coordinator: The disappointing 6-10 Dolphins and coach Adam Gase demoted offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen after averaging only 17.6 points per game to rank 28th in the NFL. They replaced him with Dowell Loggains, whom the Bears just dismissed after Chicago averaged 16.5 points, ranking 29th. Well alrighty then!
 
6. MARLINS: Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' now underway: Derek Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' is his plan to reboot the now-decimated Marlins. It sees a spike in player payroll starting in 2021. Meantime, the carnivorous wolverine has disemboweled Marlins fans and turned their optimism to bloody entrails.

7. PANTHERS: Cats can't capitalize on streak: Sunday's loss made it three L's in a row after a five-game winning streak for Florida, which still lags seven points off playoff pace right at midseason. Check Lost & Found. The map to the postseason seems to have been  misplaced.

8. JON GRUDEN: He's back on the sideline with Raiders: Gruden is transmogrifying from the ESPN football booth back to Chucky, the sideline maniac, taking over the Oakland (soon Las Vegas) Raiders on a 10-year deal. So Redskins coach Jay is now not even the NFL's best Gruden.

9. WINTER OLYMPICS: U.S. names women's figure skating team: USA named its three-woman figure skating team for the upcoming South Korea Games. Somewhere, Dick Button is beside himself with excitement. 

10. RICKY WILLIAMS: Ex-Fin plans smoke-filled Super Bowl party: Former Dolphins running back and confirmed pothead Ricky Williams is hosting a "cannabis-friendly" Super Bowl party in Miami. The star of the event? Snacks! Mmm, lots of snacks to feed those munchies!

Missing the HB10 cut: Australian Open starts next week, and both Andry Murray (injury) and Serena Williams (baby) are out. Although Serena could play with the infant on her back in a papoose and still win the women's side ..... Paul Pierce says the Celtics' tribute to Isaiah Thomas should not be same night as his jersey retirement. Petty much? ..... ESPN fired NFL analysts Eric Davis and Donovan McNabb over a sexual abuse claim. Rough year for the Worldwide Leader ..... The Greek Freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo) leads the Akron Anomaly (LeBron James) in early NBA all-star voting ..... The Bills sent 1,440 chicken wings to the Bengals as a thank-your for beating the Ravens to assure Buffalo made the playoffs? Shouldn't Miami at least get some celery and blue cheese? ..... NFL ratings were down 9.7 percent this season. In an unrelated story, it is estimated 9.7% of players took part in protests during the anthem ..... UM baseball began preseason practice an the final season of Jim Morris. Omaha or bust? Heck, NCAA Regional or bust! ..... USA Today speculated the Dolphins as a possible landing spot for Tom Brady should the Patriots dynasty come apart. Hmm. Is wishing and hoping for a QB who'll be 41 next season not its own form of sadness?

ToumPOLL RESULT: TURNOVER CHAIN-FUELED CANES FOOTBALL RESURGENCE THE NO. 1 BIGGEST MIAMI SPORTS STORY OF 2017: We asked what was the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017, gave you 18 choices and allowed you six votes. More than 2,500 votes poured in. A six-vote ballot means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent and you'd multiply the percent total times six for any idea how often that story was included on ballots. That's IF everyone used all six votes. The fact the No. 1-voted story was off-the-grid-high suggests an organized effort by Canes fans who voted only for that story. In effect, UM fans hijacked the poll. But that's OK. All good. I should note that prior to the sharp spike we detected, UM's resurgence still was running No. 1, although by a much narrower margin over the Stanton/Jeter story. Your results on the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017:

  1. Turnover Chain-fueled Hurricanes achieve 1st 10-win season, 1st Orange Bowl in 14 years--31.32%
  2. Giancarlo Stanton traded after 59-HR year as new owner Derek Jeter begins Marlins reboot--12.71%
  3. Jason Taylor, Dolphins icon, inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame--8.60%
  4. Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc with start of football season--7.09%
  5. Dolphins O-line coach Chris Foerster resigns after video shows him snorting white powder--6.67%
  6. Edwin Pope, Miami Herald Sports legend, dies--5.39%
  7. Jay Cutler signed by Dolphins after Ryan Tannehill's season-erasing injury--5.23%
  8. Hurricanes baseball sees end of 44-year streak of consecutive NCAA playoff appearances--4.96%
  9. Miami hosts MLB All-Star Game, Home Run Derby for first time--4.42%
  10. Nick Buoniconti, Jim Kiick reveal football related brain-trauma woes to Sports Illustrated--2.60%
The rest: 11. UM men's basketball implicated in FBI probe of recruiting corruption--2.44%; 12. Heat misses playoffs despite 30-11 second half, fails to land free-agent target Gordon Hayward--2.40%; 13. Soccer's El Clasico, Barcelona-Real Madrid, plays Miami--1.78%; 14. Miami Open tennis sets move from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium--1.67%; 15. Homestead hosts Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s last race in NASCAR finale--1.05%; 16. Ferdie Pacheco, The Fight Doctor, dies--0.70%; 17. Felo Ramirez, baseball broadcasting icon, dies--0.54%; 18. Gulfstream hosts first Pegasus World Cup, richest-ever horse race--0.43%.
 

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