July 23, 2018

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

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 23. R.I.P., Tony Sparano, former Dolphins head coach, dead suddenly and unexpectedly at age 56. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins anthem policy poll, Miami MLS stadium wins to get on ballot, Time's Trump/Putin cover, your ASG vs. HRD verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

Other recent columnsSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootWhy 'Melo To Miami Would Be Strange MarriageLeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth ApplaudingTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursTannehill's Defining Season.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Training camp opens under (more) anthem cloud: Offseason turns to preseason with Thursday's first full Dolphins practice of training camp. Meantime the NFL firestorm over national-anthem protests enters its third year with Miami in the middle. Dolphins instituted a policy threatening four-game suspensions for on-field protests, then walked that back as NFL put on hold its new go-hide policy mandating that any protests be off the field and out of view.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .859   96  378  59 105   57  18-1-23    .278

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

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

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

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 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

July 07, 2018

World Cup rooting interest: Which of final 8 teams (now 6, soon 4) do you hope wins it all? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus your verdict on LeBron-to-Lakers, the president and the press & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 7. Hope y'all had a happy (and safe) Fourth of July! For me it's a day of reflection as well as fun. I have not always loved who is president. I have not always loved my country's policies. But I have always loved my country, and been grateful to be among its citizens. 2) Want to surprise the Dolfans in your life? Check out our 'Fins At 50' book on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron to Lakers, Hot Button Top 10, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Cote on vacation: Missed new columns from me lately? It's because I'm on vacation this week. In town, still tending the blog, OD'ing on World Cup, but on vacation. I'll be back with a new column on Monday.

WcupTHE WORLD CUP FINAL EIGHT SIX (SOON FOUR): WHAT'S YOUR ROOTING INTEREST?: Thirty-two nations have been pared to eight -- now six, and soon four -- as the World Cup's quarterfinals stage ran yesterday and again today in Russia. The one good thing about no U.S. team in it is that many of us have had to adopt a team to root for, for whatever reason. I'm curious what your rooting interest is. In this poll I list the final eight national teams still standing in alphabetical order. Brazil and Uruguay were eliminated yesterday. Remember: this is not a poll to predict who will win. This is a rooting-interest poll -- who you WANT to win. And if you don't have a preference, it probably means you haven't been watching, and won't from here, which would be your loss. Past champions in the final eight, ranked in order of most recent title: Brazil (1958-62-70-94-02), France (1998), England (1966) and Uruguay (1930-50). The other four are seeking their first crown. Ready? Vote!

LebronlaWHY LEBRON WAS RIGHT, BEYOND MONEY, TO PICK LAKERS: Well, that was quick. LeBron James decided to take his talents to Hollywood (or thereabouts) on the first day of free agency this past Sunday, agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now if LeBron can coax a Spurs trade of Kawhi Leonard to L.A., he'll be set. In my latest column I write how LeBron should be applauded for his latest decision, because it is good for him and for the NBA. There's a poll below to gauge whether y'all agree with me or not. To read that latest column, click 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).

POLL RESULT: SUPPORT FOR LEBRON'S MOVE, BUT...: I asked in a poll on my Twitter feed if LeBron James made the right choice by going to the Lakers, more than 2,200 voted, and it was 53 percent yes, 32% no and 15% undecided. I ask the same question in the blog poll above (you may still vote) and it was also yes, but closer, when last I checked. The trend? Pretty strong "yes" sentiment initially, but then an increasing number of "no" votes. 

THE PRESIDENT AND ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS: To preview his latest column, the Herald's Leonard Pitts wrote on Twitter: "I will not blame the murders on the toxic environment fostered by the president and his followers. I will say that in routinely denigrating reporters, they set the stage for what happened. They are not guilty, but they are not innocent, either." We agree. In writing in my blog about the Annapolis murders of five Capital Gazette employees, here is what I wrote last week: "The fear moving forward: That the next assault on journalists might be politically motivated as blatant attacks on the First Amendment and unjustified disparaging of journalists continues to spew from the White House. The president of the United States cannot continue to relentlessly, egregiously and unfairly portray journalists as "fake news" purveyors, as the enemy of the people, and not expect that might eventually result in violence." 

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 02, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10: LeBron-to-Lakers blasts to No. 1 but see what else falls where; also, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 2. Happy new month, everybody! 2) Want to surprise the Dolfans in your life? Check out our 'Fins At 50' book on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On newspaper murders in Annapolis, Beckham group's smart strategy for MLS Miami, World Cup odds entering knockout stage & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

LeblakersLATEST COLUMN: LEBRON WAS RIGHT, BEYOND MONEY, TO PICK LAKERS: Well, that didn't take long. LeBron James decided to take his talents to Hollywood (or thereabouts) on the first day of free agency Sunday, agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now if LeBron can coax a Spurs trade of Kawhi Leonard to L.A., he'll be set. In my recent column I write how LeBron-to-Lakers was the right  move for him, for several reasons. To read that column, click LeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-On. (Our three other columns from the past week: MLS 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:

Hotbutton

1. NBA: LeBron acts fast in free agency, now a Laker: LeBron James opted out of his $35.6 million deal in Cleveland to hit the open market as free agency began and quickly signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Evidently Paul George recommitting to Oklahoma City instead of going to L.A. did not hurt the Lakers' chances to bag LeBron. Is a Kawhi Leonard trade to the LAL up next?

2. WORLD CUP: Messi, Ronaldo, Spain all out early in knockout stage: Argentina and Portugal were the first teams ousted as the World Cup's round of 16 knockout stage began over the weekend, meaning the two superstars who stand apart, Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, both were eliminated. Brazil is the betting favorite -- especially now that the co-favorite, Spain, was eliminated Sunday on penalty kicks in a shocking upset by host Russia. Did Valdimir Putin work his magic to influence another outcome? 

3. ANNAPOLIS: Sports reacts as 5 killed at newspaper: The Orioles had a video tribute and moment of silence for the five Capital Gazette employees killed by a reader with vendetta this week, the victims including longtime sports writer John McNamara. Patriots coach  Bill Belichick, who grew up in Annapolis, offered condolences for what he called "my hometown newspaper." Such a tragedy. Journalists deserve respect, not derision from the White House.

4. HEAT: Miami busy in Summer Leagues, at least: Miami is not expected be major player in free agency, but will be busy, anyway, sort of, participating in both NBA summer leagues this month. Heat debut today/Monday vs. Golden State in the summer league being held in Sacramento. It's kiddieball, the Heat roster made up of Bam Adebayo and a bunch of young guys you've likely barely heard of.

5. MARLINS: Top prospect Alcantara makes debut: Top pitching prospect Sandy Alcantara made a winning MLB debut in midst of this long, continuing homestand. More good news: the Fire-Sale Fish are a respectable 14-12 since June 5, are over .400 (well, right at .400) and had climbed over the Mets and out of the NL East cellar before Sunday's loss. Still a lousy season happening, but little rays of light shining through the gloom.

6. SOCCER: MLS Miami progresses on name, stadium: The David Beckham group narrowed its choices to Inter Miami or Atletico Miami as the name for the Miami expansion team that will begin play in Major League Soccer in 2020. The group also has zeroed in on the Melreese Golf Course area as the site for its new stadium. Golden shovels in ground, please. Tick tock!

7. TENNIS: Wimbledon underway in London: Roger Federer and Simona Halep are the top seeds as WImbledon is underway at the All-England Tennis Club. Don't sleep on Serena Williams, who is seeded a post-maternity 25th and pulled out of the French Open injured but may be poised for a deep run in London. Ba-by!

8. DOLPHINS: Fins announce what practices fans may attend: Getting close, Dolfans. Rookies report for training camp July 18 and veterans July 25, with 14 open practices scheduled between July 26 and Aug. 14. Highlight before preseasons games start: A scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium Aug. 4.

9. HORSE RACING: Summit Of Speed runs at Gulfstream: Saturday's Summit Of Speed at Gulfstream saw X Y Jet and Stormy Embrace win the co-feature races at the Hallandale Beach track, the latter's win at 15-1 odds earning an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup.

10. PANTHERS: Cats wrap up developmental camp: Florida completed its week-long developmental camp for recent draftees and other young prospects. Next stop: Preseason games are less than three months away building to the Oct. 6 opener for Panthers' 25th season. 

Missing the HB10 cut: ESPN The Magazine came out with its 10th annual 'Body' issue, in 16 various athletes posed artfully nude. Modesty is a virtue? Um, no, apparently not. Hey, if I'm seeing Greg Norman wearing nuthin' but a cowboy hat it should be in a nightmare, not on a newsstand ..... Update. Countdown now 2,913 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): CAN BRINSON CLIMB TO .190?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       .846   80  312  48  83   46  16-1-19     .266

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .835   68  263  52  76   34  11-2-11     .289

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .746   78 302  32  86   44   8-1-10      .285

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .574   82  280  21  52   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 25, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): World Cup and NBA reign, but see what else falls where; plus Heat In Purgatory (newest column), 4-Man Outfield (Stanton's surge) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 25. 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): When 3 World Cup legends were ours, imagining Trotz to Panthers, on Cats' trade for Hoffman trade, 6 Dolphins in Fantasy Top 200, El Quatro Lobos, latest Back In My Day Video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday column: Heat is in NBA purgatory. Can Riley find a way out?: NBA purgatory is when you're a pretty good team with no clear path to being great. The Miami Heat is that right now, and hamstrung this summer first by no draft picks, and next by no salary-cap money to be a big player in coming free agency. I explore how the Heat got to this point, and how solving the problem may be Pat Riley's last great challenge. To read the column, click Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? 

Other most recent columns: The Championship Coach Who Got Away (on Panthers' non-interest in Barry Trotz). When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours (on Banks, Cubillas and Muller today). And Mickelson's Major Breach Deserves Forgiveness. Also: A Deflated World Cup Thanks to no-USA / End the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can Win / In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand Plan / Tannehill's Defining Season / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris.

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: Final group-stage games this week: The crazy World Cup is 10 days into its month-long run in Russia, with final group-stage games today through Thursday. Those will set the Round of 16 field -- the knockout round. Six teams have a perfect six points after two group-stage games. But what we mostly know so far is that Messi and the Argentina team better return to their country wearing disguises.

2. NBA: Six days 'til free-agency frenzy starring LeBron: It begins on July 1: NBA free agency. By which we mean, where will LeBron James go? I mean, there are other big FA's such as Paul George. And Kawhi Leonard is up there on the trading block. But the NBA's summer blockbuster is LeBron's decision. Again.

3. HEAT: Expect quiet Miami summer as meat market opens: Heat will field two NBA summer-league teams (in Sacramento and Las Vegas) starting this week. They'll include last year's No. 1 draft pick Bam Adebayo and a bunch of developmental guys. Might be Miami's most action this summer, with not much expected on the free agency front.

4. PANTHERS: NHL Draft tops jam-packed June for Cats: Florida drafted Russian left wing Grigori Denisneko in the first round of the NHL Draft, 15th overall. Came after earlier trade in which the Panthers acquired forward Mike Hoffman, despite his fiance' being accused in a cyberbullying case. Next week comes the Cats' developmental camp for newly drafted guys and other younger players. Oh, and the Islanders signed championship coach Barry Trotz. The Cats weren't interested (!).

5. NBA DRAFT: No Heat picks, but two Canes selected: Heat had no picks, but Miami Hurricanes Lonnie Walker (first round, Spurs) and Bruce Brown (second round, Pistons) were selected. Because of his tall, vertical-dreads hairstyle, the cap Walker wore appeared to be floating -- the visual an absurd delight.

6. MARLINS: Fish back home after 5-4 roadie: Miami completed a 5-4 road trip on Sunday and returns for 10 straight at home starting tonight vs. Arizona. Fish have been a decent 11-8 since June 5 and now are on pace to lose only 98 games! Par-tay!

7. DOLPHINS: Training camp dates revealed: The NFL and Dolphins announced that Miami's rookies will report for training camp on July 18, with the full team convening on July 25. Meaning we're one month from football season pretty much being here. Your fantasy draft scheduled yet? 

8. UM BASEBALL: DiMare era offically begins: Hurricanes held a luncheon to officially install longtime assistant Gino DiMare as the new baseball head coach replacing retired Jim Morris. Meantime the College World Series enters its championship round, where DiMare hopes to be in one year. 

9. NFL: Bucs QB Winston suspended 3 games: The NFL suspended Tampa Bay starting quarterback Jameis Winston out of FSU three games to start the coming season related to his groping a female Uber driver. Dear Bucs: Get Jameis a personal driver. And make sure it's a dude he isn't attracted to.

10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream preps for Summit Of Speed: This coming Saturday's Summit Of Speed tops the Hallandale racetrack's summer schedule. It isn't among the track's three biggest races on the yearly calendar, which tells you how much Gulfstream is flourishing.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "A female fan was left with a black eye when struck by a frankfurter fired by the Phillie Phanatic's hot dog cannon." ..... New redshirt rule in college football allows freshmen to play up to four games without burning their redshirt. It's like a pity rule for coaches lose so many good guys early to NFL Draft ..... The Alliance of American Football has set its eight teams for its inaugural season kicking off just after the Super Bowl. So Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake, San Antonio and San Diego will be the cities losing teams when the league inevitably folds after two seasons ..... Three more weeks 'til MLB All-Star Game. Not too late to vote Lewis Brinson! ..... Update. Countdown now 2,920 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): STANTON OVERTAKES LEADThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current 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       .853   74  290  46  76   44  15-1-19     .262

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .825   65  254  51  73   32  10-2-10     .287

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .757   72 278  31  79   42   7-1-10      .284

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .557   75  257  18  46   29    5-4-9     .179

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. (For 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

June 18, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See if World Cup or Phil's meltdown made No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Father's Day, our Sunday column, your no-USA verdict, 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

Fathers day1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 18. Hope it was a Happy Father's Day for all of my fellow padres out there. Especially to my eldest son and new dad Christopher on his very first! 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): World Cup no-USA poll and talent ranking, USA-Canada-Mexico get 2026 Cup, 'Harry Caray' on '97 World Series & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday column: LeBron starring in NBA summer blockbuster: The NBA is winning the offseason. Again. And the superstar shuffle is one reason basketball is soaring while baseball and football struggle. I explore in my latest column, and also read tea leaves and tarot cards to say which team has emerged as the frontrunner to land James. To read, click this link: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/greg-cote/article213247139.html

Our World Cup columns: Rest of the world might not care, but in America, it isn't the World Cup it should be: Click A Deflated World Cup Thanks to no-USA. And why, with U.S. among hosts for 2026, Miami is certain to be among selected cities: Click 1 Dreamed It, 1 Made It Happen. Other most recent columns: End the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinIn Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand PlanUninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's Subterfuge. Tannehill's Defining Season,  Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris and Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

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: No USA, no Italy, but they started anyway: The month-long extravaganza has no U.S. team for the first time since 1986 and also is missing four-time champion Italy, but hasn't lacked for early action. Ronaldo scored a hat trick, Messi missed a penalty kick, Spain fired its coach on the eve of the tournament, Mexico stunned Germany -- and we've only just begun!

2. GOLF: Kopeka wins crazy U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka won his second straight U.S. Open on Sunday in one of the wildest ones ever. Phil Mickelson was penalized two strokes for intentionally putting a moving ball, enraging purists who wanted him disqualified. Tiger Woods missed the cut. Dustin Johnson blew a four-stroke lead. Golfers were whining about the fast greens at Shinnecock Hills. Who says golf is boring!?

3. SOCCER: U.S.-led joint bid wins 2026 World Cup: The United States, Canada and Mexico were awarded the 2026 World Cup, with Miami's Hard Rock Stadium a near lock to be included among host venues. Well, that's one way for the U.S. team to qualify to compete, considering host nations get an automatic bid.

4. LEBRON JAMES: Are Lakers frontrunners as free agency nears?: Speculation intensifies as the July 1 start of NBA free agency nears. The idea that the Los Angeles Lakers could end up with free agents LeBron James and Paul George and with Kawhi Leonard via trade is not beyond the realm of possibility. Is LaVar Ball already taking credit?

5. NBA: Draft this week; no Heat but Canes in play: NBA Draft is this Thursday night. Miami Heat have no picks (barring a trade) but two Hurricanes should get picked -- Lonnie Walker in the first round and Bruce Brown likely in the second.

6. MARLINS: Hot-ish Fish continue long road trip: Miami is 8-5 since June 5 even with Sunday's loss at Baltimore. Nine-game road trip now moves on to San Francisco and then to Colorado. Doggone Marlins might avoid 100 losses yet.

7. DOLPHINS: Next stop: Training camp: All of the offseason practices, OTAs and minicamps are done. Theme: Ryan Tannehill looks great! Better than ever! See you in training camp starting in late July, when everything starts to matter. 

8. BOXING: Unbeatens Wilder, Joshua to meet: Undefeated heavyweights Deontay Wilder (4-0, 39 knockouts) and Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) have agreed to fight. I'd watch. 

9. KELLEN WINSLOW JR.: Ex-tight end charged in crime spree: Son of his Hall of Fame father arrested and charged with multiple sexual assaults. Awful story. And what a father's day for Kellen Sr. 

10. FATHER'S DAY: To all the padres out there...: Happy Father's Day to all the good, caring Dads. To the rest of you, be better!

Missing the HB10 cut: College World Series is underway with Florida among favorites, but since Miami isn't in it, we're barely caring ..... MLB All-Star Game is one month from today. Still time to vote Lewis Brinson in ..... Has Alex Ovechkin let go of the Stanley cup yet?

POLL RESULT: NO-USA A SIZABLE BLOW TO WORLD CUP INTEREST: We asked, "How much is your interest in the 2018 World Cup affected by the U.S. not being in it?" Results were varied among four options, but a plurality of 33.92 percent said "A great deal. Much less interested." However 30.04% answered "Not all. As interested as ever." Another 20.49% said "Somewhat. Less interested." And 15.55% said "Not interested, with or without U.S."

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): BRINSON CHASING .180!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           .847   59  232  47  69   31  10-2-9      .297

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .798   67 259  42  63   37  11-1-16      .243

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .784   65 252  29  74   40   6-1-10      .294

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .545   69  238  15  42   27    3-3-9     .176

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. (For all of our most recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 16, 2018

LeBron picks his landing spot. (Maybe). Our latest column; plus how does no U.S. team affect your interest in 2018 World Cup? Last day to vote in poll; also, ranking WC teams by talent, Will Ferrell's Harry Caray on '97 Marlins World Series & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 16. Had a great time at this week's 790 The Ticket event, Dan LeBatard's Father's Day Fiesta at Fogo de Chao on South Beach. Enjoyed meeting so many of  the show's fans. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami in play as U.S. to co-host 2026 World Cup, me on LeBatard Show psychiatrist couch, our quixotic campaign to get Schnellenberger in Hall of Fame, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

LeBron starring in NBA summer blockbuster: The NBA is winning the offseason. Again. The superstar shuffle is one reason basketball is soaring while baseball and football struggle. I explore in my latest column, and also read tea leaves to say which team has emerged as the frontrunner to land James. To read, click this link: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/greg-cote/article213247139.html

WORLD CUP 2018 POLL: THE NO-USA EFFECT: VOTE NOW!: What best describes the impact on your interest level of the United States not being among the 32 competing nations?:

WcWORLD CUP 2018: SPAIN TOPS IN TALENT: The 2018 World Cup begins today in Russia with the host nation facing Saudi Arabia in the lone match. Betting favorites in the 32-team field are, in order, Brazil, Germany, Spain, France, Argentina and Belgium, with a pretty sharp dropoff after that. Here are the top 10 nations based on ESPN's ranking of the World Cup Top 50 players. We assigned 50 points for the No. 1-ranked player, 49 for No. 2 and so forth:

Team (T50 players)                 Points

Spain (8)                                 206

France (6)                               140

Argentina (5)                          138

Brazil (5)                                135

Belgium (5)                             122

Germany (5)                            113

Uruguay (3)                             79

England (3)                              65

Croatia (2)                              57

Portugal (1)                             49

Others: Egypt 1-44, Poland 1-41, Denmark 1-32, Senegal 1-20, Colombia 2-20 and South Korea 1-14.                 

MIAMI WILL HOST 2026 WORLD CUP MATCHES, AND HERE'S WHY: FIFA yesterday awarded the 2026 soccer World Cup to a joint bid by the United States, Mexico and Canada, and Miami and Hard Rock Stadium are strongly favored to be among host venues selected. That is because of the vision and determination of two men who happen to be the first and current owners of the Miami Dolphins, as I write in my recent column. To read, click 1 Dreamed It, 1 Made It Happen

Other most recent columns: End the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinIn Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand PlanUninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's Subterfuge. Also: When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & GamesThe King, Indeed: LeBron Tops MichaelNFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes AwayTannehill's Defining Season,  Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris and Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

VINTAGE VIDEO: 'HARRY CARAY' ON '97 WORLD SERIES: Happened upon this and thought I'd share: Will Ferrell as Harry Caray on Saturday Night Live, analyzing the 1997 Marlins-Indians World Series. Caray, the legendary Cubs broadcaster, was still alive then but would pass away, at age 83, only four months later, in February of '98:

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. (For all of our most recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 11, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins tightly contested fight for No. 1 (surprise!) and what else falls where; plus my Sunday column on Marlins' 25th Anniversary and Jeter's obligation to heal, The List (worst Marlins seasons) & more

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

Calilove1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 11. Not yet heard it? Click Cote Does California Love to hear me rapping my favorite hip-hop song, from last week's LeBatard Show. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami athletes on Forbes' 100 Wealthiest list, new columns on Dolphins and Trump/NFL, R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

25logoLatest Sunday column: Marlins' Anniversary Weekend underlines Jeter's obligation: A weekend to celebrate the Marlins' past also was a time for fans to wonder when the future -- another team worth celebrating -- will finally arrive. That is Derek Jeter's job. And that is my latest Sunday column. To read, click Jeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can Win.

Other most recent columns: In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand PlanUninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's SubterfugeHandicapping the LeBron Summer Sweepstakes. And: When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & Games / The King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

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. MARLINS: Draft, anniversary make it big week for Fish: The annual three-day MLB draft welcomed 41 new Marlins (25 of them pitchers), led by top pick Connor Scott, 18, an outfielder from Tampa. Fish followed with club's 25th Anniversary Weekend events in series vs. Padres -- the celebration of the past leading one to wonder when a future worth cheering might finally arrive.

2. NBA: Warriors repeat champs, LeBron will talk to Heat: Golden State steamrolled Cleveland 4-0 in first NBA Finals sweep since 2007, likely marking LeBron James' final game with Cavaliers. LeBron will be ring-chase in his free-agent decision this summer, and Stephen A. Smith says the seven teams on his maybe-list  are Cavs, Warriors, 76ers, Celtics, Rockets, Lakers ... and Heat. Yes, Miami, but don't make too much of that. (Or get your hopes up).

3. SOCCER: Countdown 3 days 'til World Cup: Host Russia faces Saudi Arabia in the only match on Thursday as the 2018 men's World Cup gets underway. No U.S. and no Italy among the 32 qualifiers; still, most of the world will be riveted. It'll be refreshing to see people paying attention to Russia for something other than election-meddling.

4. DOLPHINS: This week wraps pre-training camp work: A final wave of offseason OTA practices this Monday through Thursday will be the Dolphins' last on-field work prior to the start of full preseason training camp in late July. That's when it starts to get real for Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill. When games are coming at you like a freight train.

5. TENNIS: Nadal, Halep win French Open: Championship Weekend in Paris saw No. 1-ranked Simona Halep of Romania drop the first set Saturday but still beat Broward County native and resident Sloane Stephens for Halep's first career major win. Today, Rafael Nadal won his 11th French crown in straight sets, denying Dominic Thiem what would have been a seismic upset. 

6. HORSES: Justify win Belmont, Triple Crown: Justify made an impressive, easy glide to the Belmont Stakes on Saturday after earlier winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness -- the 13th Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred racing history. There'd been a 37-year drought until American Paraoah in 2015. Now it's practically a trend.

7. NHL: Washington wins first Stanley Cup: Defeating the Cinderella expansion Vegas Golden Knights 4-1, the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in the club's 43-year history. It also marked the first career crown for superstar Alex Ovechkin. Wild guess: Trump comes through with the invite, and Caps say "Oh yeah, eh!"

8. GOLF: Tiger in this week's U.S. Open: This week's 118th U.S. Open starts Thursday at Shinnecock. Tiger Woods is in it, his yacht docked the near course just to remind you he's still Tiger. This marks the 10th anniversary since Woods' last major win, the 2008 Open. Happy anniversary, anyone?

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Hall of Fame nominees tab 3 Canes: College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2019 nominees include three old Hurricanes in Ray Lewis, Dan Morgan and coach Dennis Erickson. There should be a fourth, Howard Schnellenberger, but as always Snells is a victim of Hall's dumb, intractable rule requiring a minimum .600 career win percentage.

10. TERRELL OWENS: T.O. nixes Canton ceremony: Figured, right? That the first time an NFL player ever said he'd not participate in his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction, it might a controversial career-long maverick like diva-receiver Terrell Owens. Best guess: He'll change his mind. Unless Canton goes all Trump and uninvites him first.

Missing the HB10 cut: Welcome back, Tommy Hutton! ..... Disgraced 76ers executive Bryan Colangelo resigns in shame. And Twitter claims another victim! ..... NFL suspends Julian Edelman four games for PEDs, further enhancing Patriots' reputation as Cheatriots. (Julian shoulda stuck to Tom Brady's diet) ..... Donald Trump uninvites the Eagles to White House and now says he won't invite the Warriors. Somebody please remind Donald it isn't his house. It's ours ..... Former Canes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. arrested for a home burglary in California. Understandable, after a meager $40 million in NFL earnings ..... R.I.P., Anthony Bourdain. There is nothing more insidious than when demons are invisible.

THE LIST: WORST MARLINS SEASONS: The five worst seasons in club history based on winning percentage:

Year    Record                Manager

1998    .333 (54-108)      Jim Leyland

2018    .354 (23-42)        Don Matttingly

2013    .383 (62-100)      Mike Redmond

1993    .395 (64-98)        Rene Lachemann

1999    .395 (64-98)        John Boles

Note: Marlins' current record projects to final mark of 57-105.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 08, 2018

In search of Dolphins' elusive Grand Plan. My new column; plus how Trump hijacked NFL anthem protest cause, The List (NBA Finals sweeps), LeBron Summer Sweepstakes & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, JUNE 8. Happy to be on this morning talking Miami sports with my old buddy Dan Sileo on 97.3 The Fan in San Diego. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your LeBron vs. Michael poll verdict, Dolphins Beef-O-Meter, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GaseIN SEARCH OF THE DOLPHINS' GRAND PLAN (OR TO SEE IF THERE IS ONE): I have coined it, "The Dolphins Disconnect" -- the gulf between the optimism you hear from Adam Gase (pictured) and his team and the consistently low expectations on the outside. The latest indication: ESPN's annual NFL offseason grades for each team, out this week. Miami is given a C-minus, ranking 30th of the 32 teams. (Detroit and Carolina are the only lower-graded teams, each with a D, while elsewhere in the AFC East, the Patriots get an A-minus, the the Jets a B and the Bills a C). I tackle the state of the Dolphins in my latest column. To read, click In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand Plan.

SignHOW TRUMP'S AWFUL (YET BRILLIANT) SUBTERFUGE HIJACKED NFL PROTEST CAUSE: Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins held signs such as the one pictured -- YOU AREN'T LISTENING -- in response to media questions yesterday about Don Trump uninviting his team from a White House visit. It is the perfect sign of frustration to illustrate my most recent column, on how President Trump's awful yet calculated and politically self-serving subterfuge -- lying -- has brilliantly (for him) hijacked the NFL's anthem protest cause to wrongly make it about the flag and patriotism. As myself,  Jenkins and others will remind, the cause is about police shootings of unarmed black men. It is about racism, profiling and social injustice. It is about trying to open eyes and make America better. It is not about what Trump says it is as he unfairly paints protesting players as un-American ingrates who should be fired from the league -- almost as if First Amendment rights such as freedom of expression did not exist. To read my column, click on Uninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's Subterfuge.

LebLEBRON WON'T WIN JUNE. BUT HE'LL WIN JULY: A 3-0 NBA Finals series hole entering tonight's Game 4 all but verifies LeBron James won't be winning the championship. The question is, who'll be winning LeBron James a few weeks later, in free agency? In this week's column, I list what I consider to be the four favorites in order. Is the Miami Heat one of them? To read the column, click Handicapping the LeBron Summer SweepstakesOther most recent columns: When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & GamesThe King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

THE LIST: NBA FINALS SWEEPS: This is the 72nd NBA Finals. With Golden State now leading Cleveland 3-0, it could be only the ninth Finals to end in a sweep. The eight 4-0 shutouts in league history:

Year    Result                                                                           Winning coach, Finals MVP

1959   Boston Celtics def. Minneapolis Lakers               Red Auerbach, Elgin Baylor

1971   Milwaukee Bucks def. Baltimore Bullets              Larry Costello, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1975   Golden State Warriors def. Washington Bullets  Al Attles, Rick Barry

1983   Philadelphia 76ers def. Los Angeles Lakers        Billy Cunningham, Moses Malone

1989   Detroit Pistons def. Los Angeles Lakers              Chuck Daly, Joe Dumars

1995   Houston Rockets def. Orlando Magic                   Rudy Tomjanovich, Hakeem Olajuwon

2002   Los Angeles Lakers def. New Jersey Nets          Phil Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal

2007   San Antonio Spurs def. Cleveland Cavaliers      Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker

Notes: No Finals MVP was named in 1959; Baylor was series' leading scorer. Losing Lakers coach in 1983 and '89 was current Heat president Pat Riley.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

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