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 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

June 04, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Dolphins Beef-O-Meter (Parker vs. Chambers), latest Sunday column (moral reckoning in sports), your verdict on LeBron vs. Michael, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 4. Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan poll, your verdict on NBA Finals predictions, Canes in NBA Draft, The List (NBA title droughts) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

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

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. NBA: LeBron, Cavs in 2-0 Finals hole: Game 2 last night in Golden State offered no remedy for Cleveland in a 122-103 Cavs loss that made it a 2-0 NBA Finals, after Warriors took opener 124-114 in overtime despite LeBron James' 51 points. Next two games are in Cleveland Wednesday and Friday, with LeBron realistically needing to win both to keep hope alive. Quick thought: Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are pretty good! 

2. DOLPHINS: Mandatory minicamp on deck for Fins: Dolphins continue offseason work with a mandatory minicamp this Tuesday through Thursday. Meantime the team signed four draft picks including No. 1 guy Minkah Fitzpatrick and bestowed upon cornerback Bobby McCain a four-year, $27 million extension including $13 million guaranteed. Not bad for a nickelback who comes off the bench. Call the position millionback now.

3. MARLINS: Reeling Fish planning 25th Anniversary Weekend: The reeling Fire-Sale Fish are 20-39 after six straight losses and nine L's in past 10 games as they continue on a 10-game road trip. Team returns next Saturday and Sunday for a 25th Anniversary Weekend. That presumes there are any Marlins fan out there, even one, in a celebratory mood.

4. NHL: Washington takes 2-1 Finals lead: Saturday night's 3-1 Capitals win put Washington up 2-1 over Vegas as the Stanley Cup Finals stays in D.C. for Game 4 on Monday. The expansion Golden Knights are now scrambling. One more loss and Cinderella is on life support.

5. TENNIS: French Open loses Serena to injury: While Rafael Nadal rolls on to what seems a sure spot in the men's final, the women's side on Monday saw Serena Williams withdraw with an arm injury ahead of her quarterfinal match with rival Maria Sharapova. Lucky break for Maria. Williams has dominated the rivalry, winning of 19 of 21 matches. But this was the first time Serena would have faced Sharapova as a New Mommy.

6. HORSES: Justify goes for Triple Crown in 5 days: The Belmont Stakes is next Saturday, with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify a prohibitive 4-5 favorite to win the Triple Crown. After not having had a Triple Crown champ since 1978, Justify would be the sport's second in four years, after American Pharoah in 2015. Justify has dominated in rain on mud. Clear skies may be the field's  best hope.

7. SOCCER: Countdown 10 days 'til World Cup: The month-long men's World Cup begins June 14 in Russia, with Germany (7-2 odds) and Brazil (4-1) the favorites, followed by France and Spain (both 6-1) and Argentina (13-2). Italy shockingly did not qualify. Neither did the U.S., although I'll be chanting "Let's Gooooo States!" anyway, in protest.

8. MLB: Annual draft on deck: The Miami Marlins select 13th overall in the annual MLB Draft this Monday through Wednesday. The NBA draft has two rounds. The NFL draft has seven. Baseball has 40! Um, if you're drafted in, like, the 38th round ... is that something you brag about or reluctantly admit?

9. BRYAN COLANGELO: 76ers exec mired in Twitter scandal: Answer: The 76ers' president of basketball operations reportedly kept several secret Twitter accounts he used to anonymously defend himself, criticize his own players and take shots at other NBA executives. Question: What's the best simplest way to ruin your reputation and possibly get fired in 140 characters or less?

10. SPELLING: A feeling of koinonia for Karthik: Karthik Nemmani, 14, of McKinney, Tex., won the 91st annual Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling koinonia, which means "an intimate spiritual communion." The son of an immigrant from India, Karthik's win continues a spelling bee dominance by children of Indian descent over the past two decades. "I wonder why that is," said the kid who is not a son of immigrants as he played Grand Theft Auto for the 6,000th time.

Missing the HB10 cut: MLB All-Star voting has begun. Why!? ..... The annual Fins Weekend of golf and fishing was Saturday, another chance to hear klng-retired former Dolphins gripe about lack of benefits ..... Johnny Manziel made his CFL preseason debut. Not sure if that says more about the state of Canadian football, or of Manziel ..... It's the Memorial this week as Tiger Woods continues to not win golf tournaments.

DpDOLPHINS BEEF-O-METER: DEVANTE PARKER VS. CHRIS CHAMBERS: So foremr Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers goes on Ethan Skolnick and Chris Wittyngham's Five Reasons podcast and ranks DeVante Parker (pictured) the third best current Fins receiver, after Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson. The oft-injured Parker was lucky. Chambers could have had him fourth, after Danny Amendola, too. Anyway, Parker gets angry, Tweets that nobody cares what Chambers thinks.  OK. For what it's worth, a per-game comparison of Chambers' 100-game Dolphins career and Parker's 43-game Miami career thus far:

Player                        Receptions   Yards      TDS per game

Chris Chambers             4.05           56.88     0.43

DeVante Parker             3.23           44.37     0.19

Note: Chambers averaged 14.0 yards per catch to Parker's 13.7. Chambers made one Pro Bowl to Parker's zero.

POLL RESULTS: SURPRISE! IT'S LEBRON OVER MICHAEL: Rarely am I surprised by the result of one of our blogpolls, but this surprised me. I asked, "What best reflects your opinion on who should be considered the greatest NBA player of all time?" And it was 47.74 percent for LeBron James vs. 30.04% for Michael Jordan. Another 16.46% voted "Still Michael, but LeBron narrowing gap," while 5.76% voted "Neither; someone else."

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): BRINSON TOPS .160!: 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. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .846   48  188   36  56   26   8-2-7      .298

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .800   54 210  35  52   31  10-1-12      .248

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .697   53 206  22  56   28   6-0-5      .272

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .492   57  198  12  32   19    3-0-7     .162

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

For all of our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 19, 2018

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

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

Wedding1) It's SATURDAY, MAY 19. Happy Wedding Day to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle! Not quite sure why I care about the Royal Family, but strangely I do. 2) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Should Florida legalize sports betting poll, bold(ish) predictions on LeBron/Tiger/Marlins, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

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

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

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

Coach, Team                                   Years    Span        W-L Pct.

Ron Fraser, UM baseball                     30      1963-92      .742

Don Shula, Dolphins                           26      1970-95      .659

Jim Morris, UM baseball                     25      1994-18      .698

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

Andy Gustafson, UM football              16      1948-63      .587

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

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

Pat Riley, Heat                                     11      1995-08      .535

Erik Spoelstra, Heat                             10+    2008-          .602

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

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

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

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

For all of our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. NBA: LeBron struggles in Game 1 loss at Celtics: LeBron James may have expected the customary warm greeting from kind Boston fans Sunday (!), but bet he didn't expect a humbling 15-point game on 5-for-16 shooting  as the Cavaliers gor routed 108-83 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference best-of-seven finals. Houston and Golden State open the Western finals tonight. The pretenders (talking to you, Toronto and Philly) are back on the couch and the NBA has the Final Four we all figured would happen while teams like the Heat ponder how to get that good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': STANTON SURGINGThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

For all of our recent columns: MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 26, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Tiger caught in Bear Trap. See if that landed on top and what else falls where; plus Frank Caliendo & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26. Saw Frank Caliendo perform Saturday night. His Trump is spot-on, as you'd expect. Most all of his impersonations are great, but my favorite by far continues to be his John Madden. 2) 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger still best show in golf, Panthers embrace Stoneman Douglas, incongruous buoyancy as Marlins open spring training, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Tiger, Marlins, Stoneman Douglas: Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed, on Woods playing the Honda. Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season and Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking?, as team opens spring training. And MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing, on the Stoneman Douglas tragedy.

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. GOLF: Thomas wins Honda as Bear Trap gets Tiger: Justin Thomas beat Luke List in the first hole of a low-watt playoff Sunday to win the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, but nobody cares except Mrs. Thomas. Fans were out there wondering if Tiger Woods could mount a final-round rally as his comeback continued in his first South Florida appearance since 2014. Alas, the Bear Trap (15th, 16th and 17th holes) trapped Tiger, who finished 12th at even par.

2. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Shock and pain still raw 12 days later:  Major companies are now disassociating from the N.R.A. over its support for assault weapons, and sports continues to lend support. Panthers showed a tribute video before Friday night's home game and Marlins wore 'SD' caps, while golfers at the Honda are wearing 'MSD" ribbons on their caps. Meanwhile, the Douglas kids lead the fight for change as the leaders balk.

3. OLYMPICS: U.S. 4th in medals as Winter Games wrap up: Norway dominated the medal count while the U.S. finished fourth in both total medals (23) and golds (9) at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. The host nation and enemy North Korea made peace for the Winter Games in a gesture of hope. Now North Korea may lapse back into its accustomed role as the crackpot nation led by a megalomaniac.

4. HEAT: Slumping Miami looking for home lift: Heat have lost eight of past 10 even with Saturday night's win over Memphis, but that began a stretch of seven games at home of the next eight as they hope to rise from eighth place in the East. This Thursday marks a visit by the Los Angeles Lakers. Remember, items you prohibited from being brought into the arena include coolers, laser lights, noisemakers and LaVar Ball. 

5. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as playoffs loom within reach: Florida has won two games in a row and nine of the past 12 and is now within five points of NHL playoff pace. And the streak comes as the Panthers have begun a stretch of 11 of the next 12 games being at home. Now or never, Cats.     

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women wrap up regular seasons: The 20-8 UM men finish Tuesday at No. 10 North Carolina and then next Saturday at home vs. Virginia Tech, while the 20-9 women ended Sunday at home with a 76-46 rout of Va-Tech. Both Miami teams should get an NCAA Tournament invite, also strong showings in the ACC Tournament would erase any doubt. Jim Larranaga's guys especially are trying to catch back up to expectations, after once being 10-0 and ranked No. 6. 

7. MARLINS: Post-fire sale, Fish begin spring training 2-0: Miami is widely expected to be among the worst teams in baseball but has began spring training with consecutive wins before finally losing Sunday to the Mets. "We're 2-1! See, I told you we'd be much better than everybody thought!" said absolutely no one.

8. JONATHAN MARTIN: Ex-Dolphin detained for threatening post: The saga of the Dolphins' Bullygate star gets weirder and weirder. The ex-Dolphin Martin was detained by Los Angeles  police and held in a mental health facility after a threatening post on social media depicted a gun, named accused bullies Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, and included the ominous message: "When you're a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge." Get this man some help. Please?

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Yahoo report offers details on FBI probe: The FBI probe of a recruiting sacndal in college basketball has overshadowed the season, now a Yahoo Sports report names more than 20 schools and 25 players involved. Miami Hurricanes are not implicated but current Heat player Bam Adebayo is named. It is a very serious report, or at least as serious as anything can be coming from a media outlet that calls itself Yahoo!

10. DOLPHINS: NFL Scouting Combine next step in draft prep: The Dolphins and every other team will avidly attend the five-day Scouting Combine starting this Wednesday in Indianapolis, a major step in teams' preparations for the April NFL Draft. I'd have the Combine ranked much higher in this week's HB10 but I just cannot muster all that much anticipation or excitement for watching a bunch of fat offensive linemen being timed in the 40-yard dash.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes baseball had lost four straight since a 2-0 start to season but Sunday beat nemesis Florida to avoid being swept at home. Way early, but Jim Morris' final season has begun closer to a nightmare than a dream ..... U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu, who became first American woman to nail a triple axel at the Olympics, revealed to Cosmopolitan.com that she competed while on her period. "It’s really not that big of a deal," she said. "You just stick a tampon up there." Oy! G'night, everybody!"

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

January 04, 2018

What was biggest national sports story of 2017? Annual poll. Ten finalists, you pick top 3. Last day to vote!; plus final Herald NFL QB rankings, final college SOPY standings, latest Back In My Day video (Apple Watches) & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 4. How long should one keep saying "Happy new year." I say one week. Speaking of the new year, what a perfect time to treat the Dolfans in your life to my book on the club's first half century! Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out Fins At 50. 2) So honored to have received the 2017 Orange Bowl Edwin Pope Media Award over the weekend. Thanks again, OB. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) final rankings later today. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose finale to Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

MaeribackRest in peace, Mae Riback: I'm sorry to say that the dear reader and "my oldest fan" whom I wrote about in March passed away peacefully a few days ago at age 104. Click here for the tale of how me came to meet. R.I.P., Tiny.

 

YOU PICK THE 2017 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-in-review vote on the biggest sports story in America. The top 10 stories in this Nattystorypoll are not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically here, not in Nationalstorythe 1 through 10 order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back often to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. Soon, following our national vote, we'll offer a separate poll to choose 2017's biggest Greater Miami/South Florida sports story. For now, let's go nationwide. A year ago, you voted the Cubs' World Series win the No. 1 national sports story, followed by LeBron James leading Cleveland to the NBA title and the death of Muhammad Ali. What will reign for '17? You decide. Vote now. We'll keep the poll open three days and announce results on Friday as we present the local poll. 

Vote for the top three (3) biggest national sports stories of 2017 in the poll below. You may also vote online by clicking HERE:

Deciphering a 3-vote ballot: A three-vote ballot means that, theoretically, if everyone cast the maximum three votes, no one story could receive more than 33.3 percent of the vote. It also means the vote totals can be tripled to give an indication of how many ballots that story is included on. In other words, a story drawing 20 percent would have been included on about 60% of ballots.

BradyBRADY EDGES BREES IN CLOSEST FINISH EVER FOR HERALD NFL QB CROWN: The Patriots' Tom Brady edges the Saints' Drew Brees by less than one full point, 554.80 to 553.90 — the closest finish in our rankings' 20-year history — to win the Miami Herald's 2017 NFL quarterback championship. The season title is Brady's second and first since 2007. Brees is the all-time leader with seven crowns. Dolphin Jay Cutler finishes in 24th place, just making our final Top 25 chart. The Chargers' Philip Rivers wins Week 17 to end in sixth place overall. Our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings began in 1998 and the formula has been unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL’s and ESPN’s are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching.

The final Top 25 for 2017:

Rk Lw Player, Team                  Wk17      Season

1   1   Tom Brady, NE                19.50      554.80

2   2   Drew Brees, NO              29.25      553.90

3   5   Matthew Stafford, DET    41.15     501.30

4   3   Alex Smith, KC                 DNP      487.10

5   4   Ben Roethlisberger, PIT     DNP      473.55

6   9   Philip Rivers, LAC            52.35     469.75

7   8   Case Keenum, MIN           30.45     450.35

8 10   Russell Wilson, SEA          24.05     438.15

9   6   Kirk Cousins, WAS             1.90      435.65

10 11 Matt Ryan, ATL                34.85     433.75

11 7  Jared Goff, LAR                DNP       424.45

12 12 Carson Wentz, PHI            DNP      386.80

13 14 Joe Flacco, BAL              16.15      370.05

14 13 Blake Bortles, JAC           -2.10      365.35

15 15 Dak Prescott, DAL           20.95      363.85

16 16 Derek Carr, OAK              22.15     362.80

17 18 Eli Manning, NYG             3.60      339.40

18 21 Andy Dalton, CIN            27.10     338.00

19 17 Josh McCown, NYJ           DNP      336.30

20 20 Jameis Winston, TB        22.15     336.20

21 19 Cam Newton, CAR          -3.00      328.10

22 23 Tyrod Taylor, BUF           29.20     315.95

23 22 Marcus Mariota, TEN      17.70     309.60

24 24 Jay Cutler, MIA                0.30     278.30

25 25 Jacoby Brissett, IND       18.70    275.90

Week 17 Best: Rivers, LAC, 52.35 (28-37, 387, 3-0 in win). Season Best: Roethlisberger, PIT, 58.30 (Wk14). Record BestRoethlisberger, PIT, 80.10 (2014).

Week 17 WorstNick Foles, PHI, minus-4.05 (4-11, 39, 0-1 in loss). Season Worst: Nathan Peterman, BUF, minus-13.70 (Wk 11). Record WorstTim Hasselbeck, WAS, minus-23.20 (2003).

Most championshipsBrees, NO, 7; Peyton Manning IND/DEN, 6.

Season recordManning, DEN, 714.85 (2013). Dolphins season record: Ryan Tannehill, 481.25 (2014).

FLOWERS TOPS MILTON FOR HERALD STATE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR!: [Click HERE to see this online] South Florida Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers (pictured, from Miami Jackson High) edges UCF counterpart QfMcKenzie Milton as the Miami Herald’s 2017 State Offensive Player of the Year — the “state Heisman” for our seven top-level Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college teams. Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier finishes third in the final rankings, followed closely by FAU running back Devin Singletary. The top-finishing receiver, eighth overall, is UCF’s Tre’Quan Smith. The do-it-all, dual-threat Flowers passed for 2,911 yards and 25 touchdowns, while running for 1,078 yards and 11 TDs. The final Top 25 shows balance among the seven schools, with five players from UCF and South Florida making it, and three each from Miami, Florida State, Florida, FAU and FIU. Our weekly SOPY rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state’s seven FBS teams. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game, or total points divided by the number of games a player’s team has played. This keeps the comparison even because not all teams play the same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown.

The 2017 FINAL TOP 25 (including bowls):

RK Player, School-Pos.                            Avg.       Total (Games)

1. Quinton Flowers, SoFla qb                  229.13    2,749.5 (12)

2. McKenzie Milton, UCF qb                    223.19    2,901.5 (13)

3. Malik Rosier, Miami qb                       171.27     2,226.5 (13)

4. Devin Singletary, FAU rb                     165.79     2,321 (14)

5. Alex McGough, FIU qb                        135.08     1,756 (13)

6. Jason Driskel, FAU qb                         118.25    1,655.5 (14)

7. Cam Akers, FSU rb                             100.27    1,303.5 (13)

8. Tre’Quan Smith, UCF rec                     98.31    1,278 (13)

9. Travis Homer, Miami rb                        95.69    1,244 (13)

10. James Blackman, FSU qb                   91.54    1,190 (13)

11. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, SoFla rec  85.75    1,029 (12)

12. Darius Tice, SoFla rb                         85.17    1,022 (12)

13. D’Ernest Johnson, SoFla rb                83.58    1,003 (12)

14. Adrian Killins, UCF rb                        79.62    1,035 (13)

15. Jacques Patrick, FSU rb                    73.92       961 (13)

16. Thomas Owens, FIU rec                    72.73       945.5 (13)

17. Feleipe Franks, Florida qb                71.27       784 (11)

18. Alex Gardner, FIU rb                         69.00      897 (13)

19. Otis Anderson, UCF rec                    68.23       887 (13)

20. Lamical Perrine, Florida rb               63.36      697 (11)

21. Tyre McCants, SoFla rec                   63.17      758 (12)

22. Willie Wright, FAU rec                      59.86      838 (14)

23. Dredrick Snelson, UCF rec                58.46      760 (13)

24. Braxton Berrios, Miami rec               57.00      741 (13)

25. Malik Davis, Florida rb                     54.18      596 (11)

Cote’s State of the State final rankings: 1. UCF (13-0); 2. Miami (10-3); 3. South Florida (10-2); 4. FAU (11-3); 5. Florida State (7-6); 6. FIU (8-5); 7. Florida (4-7).

LATEST BACK IN MY DAY: APPLE WATCHES!: Here  it is, from yesterday's LeBatard Show:


Select recent columns: Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Also: Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Adam Gase Must Find A WayTruex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaCanes-Irish: Game For The Ages. Appreciate Perfection -- PeriodThe Godfather SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonBack On Track & Ready To Roar. Jeter 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

December 26, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.7%; plus our annual Christmas video starring me, Jeter, Smokin' Jay and 2 others; also, Miami out of playoff hunt with 29-13 loss at KC, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Merryc1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26. Hope you all had a wonderful and Merry Christmas! Need a late gift for the Dolfans in your life? Not too late. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and buy my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) Sorry we haven't had as many general sports columns lately. Burning a slew of leftover vacation time this month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 picks, FIU loses bowl game, your Saddest Fans verdict & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Xmas17OUR ANNUAL MERRY CHRISTMAS VIDEO: This year I got together with four of my closest friends -- Derek Jeter, Mark Richt, Hassan Whiteside and Smokin' Jay Cutler -- to make my annual holiday video. Click HOHOHERE to watch. Enjoy!

FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM DOLPHINS' PLAYOFF-ELIMINATING LOSS AT KANSAS CITY: 1) Miami mathematically, scientifically, sociologically and philosophically was eliminated from NFL playoff contention, and it felt like a humane bullet ending the suffering of a writhing racehorse. The funny thing is, the Dolphins still would have been in contention entering the final week of the Gaseaseason had they won, because the Bills and Titans both lost Sunday. But you'd have to be a pie-eyed Dolfan wearing aqua and orange face paint to not see this was not a playoff-caliber Fins team or a season that deserved a postseason reward. 2) The Dolphins were their own worst enemy Sunday -- a persisting symptom of mediocre and bad teams. Miami had two turnovers to KC's none -- balls stripped from Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills after catches -- and had 11 penalties for 75 yards in addition to shoddy tackling. 3) Jay Cutler began very strong but petered out badly, starting out 11-for-15 on accuracy but going 8-for-23 after that. And Miami was a miserable 0-for-8 on third-down conversions, which is on either Cutler or the play-calling. There were sparks on offense, such as Jakeem Grant's four catches for 107 yards and a TD, but 13 points is 13 points. Not good enough. 4) The defense, despite having Ndamukong Suh, Came Wake and Reshad Jones, continues to be not consistent enough or good enough. Sunday Alex Smith threw for 304 yards, and Miami was overmatched by KC's weapons Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. All over the field, the Dolphins do good things sporadically, but not with any reliability or regularity. 5) Always next year, right? OK, the Dolphins have given you a lump of coal for Christmas, now we are giving you a chance to vent, in the latest Dolphins postgame poll. Ready? Go!

1aa1adsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: 5.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 5.7 percent overall  approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 29-13 Dolphins loss at the Kansas City Chiefs putting Miami's season record at 6-9 and eliminating the team from playoff contention. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
Click on DSM to read our postgame thoughts and vote in the DSM poll online. 
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)
G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)
G15: 5.7% (following 29-13 loss at Kansas City)
Next/season-final poll: Dec. 31 (following game vs. Buffalo)

G15: DOLPHINS AT KANSAS CITY: PLAYOFF HOPES HANGING ON BY A (FRAYING) THREAD ... AND SNAP: Final: Kansas City 29, Miami 13. See our postgame thoughts above ..... 4Q: KC 29-13: Butker 49-yard FG ..... KC 26-13: Butker 29-yard FG ..... 3Q: KC 23-13: Butker 21-yard FG ..... Halftime thoughts: Credible performance thus far for Miami, down 20-13 at half, especially offensively. Jay Cutler has been pretty sharp (169 yards) and getting ball into Jakeem Grant's hands (3 catches, 101 yards) has provided a spark. Defensively, though, Miami having trouble containing KC's big weapons Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. Bills and Titans each are tied at the half. Both must lose today, and Miami must win, or Fins will be eliminated from playoff hunt ..... 2Q: KC 20-17: Butker 32-yard FG ..... MIA 13-17: Grant 65-yard pass from Cutler ..... KC 17-6: Hunt 1-yard run ..... MIA 6-10: Parkey 28-yard FG ..... KC 10-3: Kelce 9-yard pass from Smith ..... 1Q: MIA 3-3: Parkey 44-yard FG ..... KC 3-0: Butker 31-yard FG ..... Landry loses fumble after catch on opening drive. That's why losing teams are losing teams ..... Original post: ’Tis the season for the head to explode with NFL playoff scenarios, but it ain’t that difficult, folks. MiakcThree things must happen Sunday for Miami to remain alive in wild-card contention: The Dolphins (6-8) must win Sunday's 1 p.m. game, and the Titans and Bills both must lose. That’s it. (Yes, it would also benefit Miami if the Raiders and Chargers both lost, but that isn’t absolutely essential in Week 16). A problem for Fins’ chances and hope is that Kansas City (8-6) also needs this game. The Chiefs clinch a playoff spot with a win here (or an unlikely loss by Chargers), but a KC loss could create a very precarious spot, so the home team has much to play for here. A computer model I saw gave Miami a 3.1 percent likelihood of reaching the postseason so keep those hopes reigned in, Dolfans! Unfamiliarity is at play in this game. This is only these teams’ seventh meeting in the past 20 years, lending a shade of unpredictability to what might happen. But Miami has not been great traveling this season (2-5 away) and Chiefs have been stout at Arrowhead (5-2), and there are other reasons why K-City is a big 10 1/2-point favorite. One is that there is very little about the Dolphins to trust and rely on starting with erratic Jay Cutler. Another is that Alex Smith has a ton of dangerous weapons led by RB Kareem Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce, and it would not surprise me to see the Dolphins defense overwhelmed. I hate to play Grinch. I really do. Wish I could leave an upset win under the tree with a bow on it. But I’m afraid a victory by Miami here feels decidedly less likely than a blowout loss. My pick: Chiefs, 34-16. [Click Week 16 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Richt, UM hit jackpot in early signing period: Canes' Orange Bowl date with Wisconsin isn't for another week (Dec. 30), but UM was making news again welcoming a bounty of talent during NCAA's first-ever early recruiting period. Five-star commitments in RB Lorenzo Lingard and WR Mark Pope lead an offense-rich class that won the state and was ranked No. 7 nationally by  ESPN.com. In the continuing search for signs and proof that The U is "back," this was the latest.
 
2. MARLINS: The circus and folly of Jeter's "town hall" meeting: It was perfect and necessary and it meant little. New Fish boss Derek Jeter came out of hiding to hear season-ticket holders vent about his trading away everybody they care about. It gave the appearance of openness and transparency without actually being either. Ridiculous highlight: "Marlins Man" (attention-seeking missile Laurence Leavy) asking Jeter, "Do you know who I am?" Then Jeter saying "nah" to an invite to ride in Leavy's "Marlinsmobile."  
 
3. DOLPHINS: Playoff hopes expire in loss at Kansas City: The Dolphins were a dreary 6-8 but still faintly alive, needing several results to fall just right to sneak into the playoffs -- the first prerequisite a road win over the heavily favored favored Chiefs on Sunday. Did they have a chance? I'll answer that rhetorical with this one: Might you cash the winning Lotto ticket? Safety Reshad Jones was Miami's only Pro Bowl selection, and I suspected his defense would be overmatched against KC's varied offensive arsenal. I was right: 29-13.       
 
4. HEAT: Unlikely victory at Boston triggers renewed hope: Heat has nudged up over .500 (at 17-16) and climbed to the edge of playoff pace, including an unlikely, hope-renewing 90-89 win against the mighty Celtics in Boston. Unlikely? Miami got a career-high 32 points from ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk with the injury-decimated Heat barely having enough players to compete. I mean, how impressive was it to see 72-year-old Pat Riley ditch the Armani suit and slip on those '70s short-shorts for some quality minutes!
 
5. UM BASKETBALL: No. 6 Canes lose first, prepare for ACC schedule: Jim Larranaga's No. 6-ranked basketball Canes are 10-1 after upset loss to New Mexico State 63-54 Saturday night in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The real games -- the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule -- begins Dec. 30 at Pitt. Even with the first loss, considering the season began with the cloud of UM's reported implication in that national FBI recruiting probe, the Canes have found the perfect diversion and distraction: Winning.
 
6. FAU / FIU: Opposite bowl results end winning seasons: Lane Kiffin's FAU Owls clobbered Akron 50-3 in the Boca Raton Bowl to finish 11-3, while Butch Davis' FIU Panthers got clobbered by Temple 28-3 in the Gasparilla Bowl to end 8-5. Congrats to both for only the third bowl season in each's 14 years at the FBS level.
 
7. PANTHERS: Fire on ice! Cats win third in a row!: Florida has won three straight games for the first time all season but still is only 15-21 and seven point s off NHL playoff pace, and ranked 29th (of 31) in ESPN's NHL power rankings. Lots of young, rising talent paints the picture of an underachieving team, and three in a row needs to be a start, not an aberration.

8. SOCCER: And it's another in the 'El Clasico' series: Historic rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid faced off again Saturday in the latest El Clasico matchup, with Barca winners in a 3-0 rout. Yes, the rivalry's intensity preceded them and will go on without them, but, admit it: El Clasico will pale when its centerpiece is no longer Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo.

9. VINCE MCMAHON: WWE leader explores new football league: McMahon reportedly has invested $100 million into the startup of a "new XFL" football league to rival the NFL. (Wonder how long he'd been wrestling with the idea?) No date has yet been scheduled for the announcement the venture has been scrapped and will never happen.

10. BASKETBALL: Two ex-Heat among Hall of Fame candidates: Favorites for 2018 induction are thought to be Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Ray Allen. In addition to Allen, another former Heat player among contenders is Tim Hardaway. What, they're only letting guards in from now on?

Missing the HB10 cut: Darryl Strawberry revealed he used to have sex during games, between innings. Thank goodness for those last two words. I was picturing him doing it in right field ..... An Alabama radio station plays only songs Nick Saban likes. [Your punchline goes here] ..... LaVar Ball is forming a Big Baller league for high school grads. Um, I think there's already one of those. It's called "college basketball" ..... And in today's title match: An NBA player who had a tractor trailer drive into his swimming pool vs. a former NBA player who found burglars had stolen his toilet ..... Former Heat No. 1 pick Michael Beasley has resurrected his career as a valuable role player for the Knicks. Over/under on the love affair lasting? Five more weeks ..... David Beckham is now in line to have his Miami expansion team make its Major League Soccer debut in 2020, or seven years after the bid began. World Wars I and II didn't take as long ..... Jaguars fans are shipping garbage cans to Texans' Jadeveon Clowney after he called QB Blake Bortles "trash." I'm not sure what's more surprising: That Bortles is having a good season. Or that there are Jaguars fans ..... UFC 219 featured Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm. Now what were the odds a fighter would luck to have the surname Cyborg!? ..... NFL fined Seahawks $100,000 for ignoring concussion protocol to keep Russell Wilson in game. That's cheating! Who they think they are, the Patriots? ..... R.I.P., Dick Enberg, 82. If he doesn't make your sports-broadcasting Mount Rushmore, get a bigger mountain.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 21, 2017

Happy Solar Eclipse Monday!: plus latest Hot Button Top10 (updated): See who's No.1 and what else makes our newest list; also, Litmus test imperative for new Marlins owners (my Sunday column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 21. R.I.P., Jerry Lewis, 91, and Dick Gregory, 84, two men with very different approaches to comedy, each a genius in his own way. 2) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami impact in Top 200 fantasy rankings, Dolphins lose Fake Game 2, my call for open Fins QB competition & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Priority for new Marlins owners should center on keeping Stanton: As Giancarlo Stanton powers through his best season with a majors-leading 45 home runs, the incoming new owners fronted by Derek Jeter should make a priority of committing to making Stanton a career-long Marlin. Click on Stanton the Litmus Test For New Owners to read.

EclipseHAPPY SOLAR ECLIPSE MONDAY!: I'm no astronomy nut (although I do proudly own and wear a T-shirt commemorating the great Pluto after its unfortunate 2006 demotion from full planet), but am looking forward to experiencing the partial solar eclipse Monday afternoon. It is projected to begin in South Florida at approximately 1:25 p.m. and end around 4:20, with the maximum eclipse seen by us at 2:58. Pictured is an illustration projecting the maximum eclipse we'll see in Greater Miami -- assuming fair weather and no cloud cover, of course. Weather will be a crapshoot. The forecast for this afternoon is partly cloudy, with widely scattered thunderstorms and a 20 percent chance of rain, so let's hope we get a good look at the eclipse. It'll be a bummer if the day is dark and overcast because of the weather. You need a sunny day for a partial solar eclipse to really stand out. Based on the illustration it seems as if the sun (weather willing) will be visible to us only as a sort of lopsided crescent grin when the eclipse is fullest. It looks to me as if we'll have around an 80 percent eclipse. Anyway, enjoy the wonder of science or the majesty of God, depending on your point of view. Either way, enjoy the marvel of a rare treat!

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:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins any good? Week in Philly, 'dress rehearsal' may tell: Opening win, then lopsided loss. Who are these guys? Will they be any good with Jay Cutler? Does adding veteran LB Rey Maualuga help? Best answer yet may come this Thursday night in Philly as Fins culminate a week of shared practices with Eagles because Fake Game No. 3 is traditional “dress rehearsal” where starters play a lot. So. Will the real Dolphins please stand up? 

2. MARLINS: Stanton out of the park, Samson just out: It was reported Marlins president David Samson will be out once Jeffrey Loria's sale of club to Derek Jeter group is final. Meanwhile Giancarlo Stanton -- with MLB-leading 45 homers after one Sunday -- continues to make a so-so season matter. Stanton has a chance to hit 60 unless cowardly teams start walking him.

3. HURRICANES: UM look solid as opener nears, except...: Looking like Malik Rosier or Evan Shirreffs for the starting quarterback job after Saturday's scrimmage. Season opener vs. Bethune-Cookman looms in 12 days and Canes look like ACC contenders. Well, unless you're concerned about the minor matter of an unproven QB operating behind a suspect offensive line.

4. FIGHTING: Mayweather-McGregor: Ready, set, hype!: Only five more days until unbeaten boxer Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor will be in a Vegas ring this coming Saturday. Mayweather is heavily favored, but, with both men so unlikeable and such idiots in the buildup, can we please fix this thing so they simultaneously knock each other out?

5. HEAT: Hey, more Dwyane Wade speculation!: It was reported a Wade-Heat reunion may yet happen, based on a Chicago writer writing that Wade "is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months." Would you please wake me when what might or might not happen in a few months actually happens.

6. WRESTLING: Lesnar big winner at WWE SummerSlam: Brock Lesnar won the sport's "Universal Championship" in a "Fatal 4-Way Match," defeating Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman in Brooklyn. Samoa Joe sounds a Polynesian coffee brand.

7. GOLF: U.S. women trounce Europe to win Solheim Cup: There was a South Florida flavor as Miami native Christie Kerr and especially Lexi Thompson from Coral Springs were instrumental in the U.S. routing Europe 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 to win the Solheim Cup match-play event in Des Moines, Iowa.

8. BASEBALL: Yankees, Red Sox play rubber game: Sports' greatest rivalry renewed Sunday at Fenway Park and Boston took deciding game to grow its AL East lead to five games. MLB lacks tight division races this year, so appreciate this one.

9. GYMNASTICS: National championships wrap up in Anaheim: The 54th edition of the USA Gymnastics national championships ended Sunday in Anaheim, trying to make us forget about recent scandals over the abuse of young female gymnasts.

10. KEVIN DURANT: Star says Warriors would decline White House visit: The NBA champion Warriors will decline if invited to the White House over objections to President Trump, said Durant. In an unrelated story, Trump signed an executive order abolishing the Golden State Warriors.

Missing the HB10 cut: Nick Saban ranted against media predictions, saying, "Why do we play?" Here's another question, Nick. Should a man being paid $11.1 million to coach Alabama be complaining about anything!? ..... How much longer will it continue to be news that an NFL player sits for the national anthem? That reminds me. The Smithsonian will have a new exhibit featuring Colin Kaepernick items. Will one of the items be an unemployment check? ..... They're talking about taking down the Marlins Home Run Sculpture. What, is it linked to the Confederacy? ..... LeBron James called for healing and love in the wake of the violence "in Charlottesville, North Carolina." Hey, he's a baller, not a professor of geography!

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-21-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Solar eclipse, 1:25 p.m.: We'll experience it at its fullest around 3 p.m.

2. N.Y. Giants at Cleveland, 8 p.m.: Day's only NFL exhibition game.

3. Everton at Manchester City, 3 p.m.: Interesting EPL soccer match.

4. Little League World Series, 1 p.m.: Elimination games begin.

Note: Marlins have today off.

Select other recent columns -- Double QB Quandary A Rarity (On Dolphins, Canes' shared upheaval). New Owner, New Hope (Let's party at news Loria agrees to sell to Jeter group). A Diamond, Shining (Giancarlo Stanton's great season). Immortality Calling (Jason Taylor in Hall, now who's next?). Also: Right Time, Right QuarterbackThe Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote