July 19, 2018

Why the hardest work is yet to come for MLS Miami and new soccer stadium. Our latest column; plus Time's Trump/Putin cover, your ASG vs. HRD verdict & more

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

Cotefrench1) It's THURSDAY, JULY 19. Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from this week's LeBatard Show. Got a kick out of the artwork pictured at right, courtesy loyal show fan @oigomusic. It was inspired by a World Cup conversation that included me mentioning that the Cote family has partly French ancestry. Chris wears that jaunty beret quite well! 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins at the break and Jeter's plan, All-Star Game vs. Home Run Derby poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 16, 2018

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

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 16. Thanks again to Ari Odzer and NBC6 for featuring us in this David Beckham/soccer report. Enjoyed it. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS Miami soccer vs. Melreese golf drama and poll, Heat's interest in Carmelo Anthony, World Cup semifinals, Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. SOCCER: Major Wednesday vote to steer MLS Miami future: David Beckham and Jorge Mas will have one last shot Wednesday to convince the Miami City Commission to place the Miami Freedom Park/soccer stadium item on the November ballot. Even if voters then approved it for the Melreese golf sight, the city would have to green-light the project. Beckham's stardom and Mas' billions vs. a bunch of golf moms hardly seems fair, but Beckham/Mas aren't out of it yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .864   94  371  58 103   55  18-1-23     .278

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

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .693   90 351  38  94   49   9-1-10      .268

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 14, 2018

Delay means fight continues for Beckham's Miami MLS dream. My latest column; plus soccer vs. Melreese poll (last day to vote!), Heat's curious courtship of Carmelo, refreshing World Cup final, newest Back In My Day video (Lawnmowers!) & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 14. Thanks to Ari Odzer and NBC6 for featuring us in their David Beckham/soccer report. Enjoyed it. 2) Hope all of you friggatriskaidekaphobes had a wonderful Friday the 13th! 3) Surprise the Dolfans in your life. Give them our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10. your World Cup rooting-interest verdict, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Miami Freedom ParkBIG BLOW (OR MAYBE NOT) TO BECKHAM GROUP'S MIAMI MLS DREAM: The Miami City Commission last night tabled until a special meeting Wednesday the vote whether to allow Miami MLS soccer on the November ballot. It may prove to  have been a crushing defeat. May also prove to have been a mere six-day delay; we'll see. For my latest column, click Beckham Group's New Theme Song: It Don't Come Easy. In my prior column on this issue I urged the Miami City Commission to vote to allow the Miami Freedom Park/soccer stadium initiative on the November ballot. That is where the Beckham group's Major League Soccer expansion team hopes to build its new stadium. The rendering of what is conceived as a "world-class soccer village" is pictured at right. Controversially, it would be built where the Melreese golf course now stands, displacing the First Tee youth campus and angering many golfers. I delve into the issue and explain my support for the stadium issue getting onto the ballot. For that column, click Let The Voters Decide. Have your say in the poll below:

Other most recent columnsLeBron-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.

MeloON HEAT'S CURIOUS COURTSHIP OF CARMELO ANTHONY: ESPN's fabulously all-knowing Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that Oklahoma City had granted permission for Carmelo Anthony (pictured) to shop himself around, and that the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets were among the first suitors. 'Melo is 34, a defensive liability and coming off the worst shooting season of his career, yet Erik Spoelstra reportedly is enamored of him. In my recent column I explore the Heat's interest, the motivation behind it and what it says about the state of the franchise in the summer of '18. To read the column in full, click Why 'Melo To Miami Would Be Strange Marriage

WcupWORLD CUP: TWO TEAMS LEFT. IMMORTALITY AWAITS ONE: France beat neighbor Belgium 1-0 Tuesday in the first World Cup semifinal from Russia, and yesterday Croatia ousted England 2-1 in extra time. To many experts both results were upsets, especially the latter. Three thoughts: 1) This has been an interesting, refreshing World Cup despite (from an American vantage) the absence of a U.S. team. 2) Refreshing? This was the first World Cup final-four ever that did not include traditional giants Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Italy or Spain. Bad for them. Good for the sport. It conveys a narrowing of the talent gap, giving hope to the nations (like the U.S.) still trying to make their international mark. 3) No matter what happens from here the champion will feel new. France last won in 1998 and Croatia has never won. (England last won in distant 1966, and Belgium had never won). I hoped for a France-England final. Why bother with the pretense of impartiality? I'm sure Fox TV did, too, for its ratings. Then again, undeterred that the U.S. didn't qualify, I still say, "Let's gooooo States!"

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY' VIDEO: LAWNMOWERS!: I stumbled a bit on the dismount, but otherwise a well-received BIMD that debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:

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

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 30, 2018

When an American newspaper covers its own tragedy. On the Annapolis murders; plus MLS Miami's pitch-perfect approach to marketing (latest column), World Cup odds for 16 teams still standing & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 30. Farewell, June. You did your best. 2) Want to surprise the Dolfans in your life? Check out our 'Fins At 50' book on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Variables that could favor Dolphins, defending the 305 as a sports town, Greg Norman wearing only a hat, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

CapitalON THE NEWSPAPER MURDERS IN ANNAPOLIS: Sorrow this week for the five victims killed and others wounded by the gunman who Thursday shot up the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md. Strength to their loved ones. The five killed: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. (Hiaasen was the brother of Miami Herald columnist and author Carl Hiaasen). I won't name the human excrement who has been charged in the murders, a man who reportedly had a vendetta against the newspaper. 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. At right: An American newspaper covers its own tragedy.

BecksMLS MIAMI'S MARKETING IS PITCH-PERFECT -- AND RIGHT FOR THE TIMES: The David Beckham group's emerging strategy to sell Major League Soccer in Miami is perfect. But it is more than just right for this particular market. It is right for the times. It is a reminder for America. Inclusiveness. Diversity. Open arms. The principles that once made us who we were, principles that seem to be slipping away, are being encouraged by MLS Miami. No, embraced. That is the theme of my latest column. To read it in full, click MLS Miami Says All Are Welcome. Beckham is pictured at right. Our two other most recent columns from this week: 7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town.

Other recent columns: Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours. Also: End 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.

BrazilKNOCKOUT STAGE: WORLD CUP ODDS FOR THE FINAL 16 TEAMS: [Update: France today eliminated Argentina, 4-3]. As knockout games begin today, prediction website FiveThirtyEight.com offers percentage likelihoods of the final 16 teams winning the World Cup, with Brazil (at 25 percent, its shield pictured) and Spain (20%) the clear favorites. Next come Belgium at 9%, France and England both 8%, Croatia 6% and Argentina and Portugal both 5%. The real longshots are Colombia, Uruguay and Switzerland all 3%, Sweden 2% and Denmark and host Russia both 1%. Mexico and Japan are given a negligible trace below 1%. Quick aside: FiveThirtyEight.com seems to have landed on its feet despite telling us for months, right up to election day, that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump. 

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 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 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 23, 2018

Heat in purgatory. Can Riley get them out? Latest column; plus when 3 World Cup legends were ours, Panthers stuff, 6 Dolphins in Fantasy Top 200, forgiving Phil, latest Back In My Day & more

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

Floatinghat1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 23. Hurricanes' Lonnie Walker celebrates his first-round NBA Draft selection by the Spurs by standing beside commissioner Adam Silver while wearing a Floating Hat. Anybody who has seen Lonnie's tall, vertical-dreads hairstyle knows why the hat is floating. 2) Click on El Quatro Lobos to see video of myself and three members of the LeBatard Show's Shipping Container rehearsing as a barbershop quartet. 3) 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. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

RilesNewest column: Heat is in NBA purgatory. Can Riley find a way out?: NBA purgatory is having a pretty good team with no clear path to being great. The Heat is there right now. I explore how they got there and whether Pat Riley can get them out in my latest column. It may be Riley's last great challenge. To read, click Heat's Purgatory Is Riley's Challenge. 

Previous column: Wishing Panthers had gone after Barry Trotz: It wasn't that Bob Boughner deserved to be fired. It was that these were not ordinary circumstances, with a pedigreed, championship coach suddenly available in Barry Trotz. I wish the Panthers had been bold, thought big and made an aggressive play. For that column, click The Championship Coach Who Got Away.

Cubillasnow Mullernow BanksnowWHEN 3 WORLD CUP LEGENDS WERE OURS...: English 'keeper Gordon Banks. German striker Gerd Muller. Peruvian maestro Teofilo (Nene) Cubillas. All made their mark in World Cups, then spent their career winters Ftlstrplaying for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the then-vibrant NASL in a span from 1977 to '83. We share what made them World Cup heroes, how they fared as Strikers and what they're doing now in a fond reminiscence. The old Strikers captain who played with them all, Ray Hudson, joins us for the ride. Banks, Muller and Cubillas are pictured, left to right, in recent photos. to read the full column, click When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

FLORIDA PANTHERS TRADE FOR TALENT ... AND A POTENTIAL MESS: The trade with San Jose on Tuesday brings left wing Mike Hoffman and a seventh-round pick in this week's NHL Draft top Florida in exchange for the Panthers' picks in the second, fourth and fifth rounds. It seems a decent trade on the face of it. Hoffman is in his prime at 28 and is a steady scorer who has totaled Hoffman104 goals for Ottawa the past four seasons. But. But! Hoffman comes with baggage that forced him out of Ottawa and then saw San Jose flip him just hours after acquiring him. Find more details here. The essential background, via ESPN.com: On May 4 Melinda Karlsson, wife of the Ottawa captain, filed an order of protection against Monika Caryk, fiance' of Hoffman, alleging she harassed the Karlssons online following the March death of their child, who was stillborn. (Hoffman and his fiancee are pictured). The Karlssons believe Hoffman's girlfriend made the comments on Mrs. Karlsson's Instagram account under a pseudonym. Hoffman and his fiance' deny it all. "It's 150 percent that it's not us," Hoffman told the Ottawa Citizen. "We have nothing to hide. We're willing to cooperate in any way to solve this and prove that it wasn't us." The potential mess did not catch Panthers GM Dale Tallon offguard. "We did our homework and we discussed it with a lot of different people," he said. "We feel that that's in the past. We're very confident he'll be embraced by our team and by their wives and girlfriends. We have a strong culture down there now and I think talking with Mike and all the parties that it will work out to our benefit." It's a huge risk, though. "Burner" accounts on Twitter just led to the Philadelphia 76ers sacking their GM Bryan Colangelo in disgrace. Social media can be a dangerous thing. If it can be proven that Hoffman's fiance cyberbullied another player's wife, taunting her about the death of a child, well, that's the stuff that can ruin not only a relationship, but a career. I hope Hoffman is right that he and his future wife are "150 percent" innocent." I hope Tallon is right that it's in the past and won't still be a lingering cloud as the new season nears.

SIX DOLPHINS MAKE ESPN'S 2018 FANTASY TOP 200: Now out, never too early, ESPN's 2018 Fantasy Top 200 for point-per-reception (PPR) leagues, led by No. 1 overall Le'Veon Bell, the Pittsburgh running back. List includes six Dolphins, with the top-ranked Fin pictured:

KdrakeNo. 44 Kenyan Drake (RB18)

No. 69 DeVante Parker (WR 35)

No. 103 Kenny Stills (WR 48)

No. 134 Albert Wilson (WR 65)

No. 194 Frank Gore (RB59)

No. 198 Mike Gesicki (TE20)

Also notable: Former FIU Panther -- WR T.Y. Hilton (27th overall). Former Miami Hurricanes -- RB Duke Johnson (59th), TE Greg Olsen (73rd), TE Jimmy Graham (90th), WR Allen Hurns (115th) and TE David Njoku (147th). Ex-Dolphins -- WR Jarvis Landry (42nd), RB Jay Ajayi (46th), RB Lamar Miller (76th, also an ex-Cane), TE Charles Clay (141st), Ted Ginn Jr. (157th) and WR Mike Wallace (165th).

PhilOUR OTHER LATEST COLUMNS: PHIL MICKELSON, LEBRON, WORLD CUP: Scorn for Phil Mickelson after his bizzare U.S. Open rules-breaking is easy. Forgiveness takes more effort. Can we? For my latest column, click on Mickelson's Major Breach Deserves Forgiveness. Also, the NBA is winning the offseason, again, and the superstar shuffle is one reason why. For that column click The New Frontrunner to Land LeBron (Maybe). And our two World Cup columns: A Deflated World Cup Thanks to no-USA, and, on why Miami likely will host WC matches in 2026: 1 Dreamed It, 1 Made It Happen. Also: 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 SubterfugeTannehill's Defining Season,  Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris and Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': BATHROOM TIME!: Those offended by a little  bathroom humor might want to skip my latest BIMD, which debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. Enjoy.

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