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Marlins win opener! Fish and Dolphins, in race for relevance, offer hope at right time. New column; plus When will Fins unleash Tua? We explore as rookies report; also: Is football in fall a sure thing?, Greg Cote Show podcast new Episode 21 & more


1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 25. Our Greg Cote Show podcast is now separately on Twitter and Instagram. Follow us on both! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Greg Cote Show podcast new Episode 21 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter and Instagram.

CoteshowGREG COTE SHOW PODCAST: NEW EPISODE 21 OUT NOW!: Our Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," debuted in March and Episode 21 is out now! A new episode drops every Monday morning on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Megaphone, iHeart or wherever you do your podding, and of course at MiamiHerald.com. Find all 21 we've done so far RIGHT HERE. Free! No paywall! Please listen, subscribe, rate and review. In Episode 21 we chat with Miami Marlins captain Miguel Rojas about Opening Week in a pandemic, and also about fun stuff. New episode also stars Greg's wife complaining about an odd habit of mine; the Mount Gregmore Name Game (D's); and some gossip about David Beckham that's blowing up the British tabloids. Hear all of that and more in new Ep21! 

OPENING NIGHT WIN FOR MARLINS!: FISH AND DOLPHINS, IN RACE FOR RELEVANCE, OFFER HOPE AT A TIME WE NEED IT: [Marlins won at Philly 5-2 last night behind a sharp start from Sandy Alcantara and a Jesus Aguilar home run] Original post: The Miami Marlins were flying to Philadelphia to begin their 28th season, one like none other, while back home, the Miami Dolphins’ coming season began to unfurl as rookies reported for training camp. Both restarts occur, of course, amid the peril and gloom of the Sandyongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic that is overshadowing all of life in America in 2020, with South Florida having it worse than most. Will the Marlins and MLB get through unscathed to finish their delayed, truncated 60-game season? Will an NFL season happen at all when expectations of the coronavirus worsening already have led some teams to announce they will play with no fans attending? The bizarre, frightening time we’re all in makes sports’ restart seem risky and small. Even as we hunger for the distraction of live games, leagues crowning champions in 2020 will seem almost a Pyrrhic victory for sports as we see the U.S. death at 145,000 and climbing. As one who writes and talks about sports for a living, I can tell you I cannot bring myself to see teams and athletes and games as mattering much these days, beyond the brief escape from reality that isn’t really possible. I recall I felt something similar on and after September 11, 2001, when my country suffered another deadly hit. That was the day I stopped using words like "tragedy" or "disastrous" to describe anything happening in sports. So, yes, for me, it is difficult today to focus much on the Marlins opening in Philly Friday night with Sandy Alacantara (pictured) on the mound. (The home opener in an empty Marlins Park with piped-in crowd noise will be Monday night). Just as it is hard to muster much gravitas on Tua Tagovailoa and other Dolphin draft picks and rookies showing up for work Thursday. I’m going to do my best, though. To talk sports. Fins coach Brian Flores calls a football field "a place to get away for a little bit" — away from the reality of a coronavirus plague and the racial injustice spawning protests nationwide. So here’s that rabbit hole for me as the Marlins and Dolphins both get back to work: The similarities between the state of the two franchises are stunning. The blueprints are identical as is the timing. The Dolphins and Marlins are in the midst of complete, ground-up rebuilds that saw both teams trading away all of their star players, one for high NFL drafts picks, the other for top MLB prospects. "Trust us," is the basic message as both teams continue in a race for relevance. For our full latest column, please visit Marlins and Dolphins, In a Race For Relevance, Offer Hope At a Time We Need That

WHEN WILL/SHOULD DOLPHINS UNLEASH TUA? EXPLORING THE TIMETABLE AS ROOKIES REPORT: He didn’t start until the sixth game of his rookie season. When Dan Marino Tuafinally did start, he threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns. It was electric. Palpably, the NFL’s next big star had introduced himself. I once asked Don Shula what he was thinking as he watched his new quarterback’s first start. "What took me so long!?" the coach answered, not kidding in the least. "Why didn’t I give him the ball sooner! He was that special right away." Thirty-seven years later, Miami Dolphins rookies report for training camp Thursday, five days ahead of the full team. The new quarterback is Tua Tagovailoa. He is the gift Dolfans cannot wait to unwrap and enjoy. Brian Flores is the man now who’ll decide when that happens. When, in effect, the Dolphins’ future — the next great chapter in franchise history — begins for real. Don’t hold your breath, folks. Every indication is that history will repeat and that Tagovailoa will begin his pro career as an understudy to Ryan Fitzpatrick just as Marino was to David Woodley, before the new No. 1 draft pick out of Alabama finally is handed the football and the keys to the team. I would love to be wrong. I would love to imagine that, in the September 13 regular season opener at New England, it’s Tua time, and the rookie is let loose like a rodeo bull leaving his holding pen. For our full recent column, please visit When Will Dolphins Unleash Tua? Exploring the Timetable as Rookies Report.

AS SPORTS RESUME, MAJOR CONCERNS COMPLICATE STAR OF NFLAND COLLEGE FOOTBALL CAMPS: It’s about to get real. Real exciting. Real scary. Real weird. Real Finsfast. This week into next, sports resumes in full — playtime in a pandemic. It might be a wonderful, needed boost to the American spirit. It might be closer to insanity. Sports is high on a 10-meter board, blindfolded, about to dive in. It might be water below. It might be concrete. The massive endeavor could prove a huge success, or collapse under the weight of enough athletes testing positive for COVID-19 to call the whole thing off. The only certainty is that nothing is certain. Major League Soccer has been at it for a while in the Orlando bubble; expansion Inter Miami played Monday, losing its third consecutive match since returning. Now all of the other major U.S. team sports step into the great unknown as well — including the NFL and college football, whose training camps are set to begin amid trepidation and uncertainty. Dolphins rookies are to report to training camp Thursday (two days later than first scheduled), with full camp starting July 28. The Hurricanes (at least three of whom have tested positive for the virus) are scheduled to open camp August 7. Major concerns hover, though, as football is the sport with by far the largest roster of players and coaches. And the one sport that, in an age of social distancing, mandates unavoidable physical contact on every play. For our full recent column, please visit Sports Resume, But Major Concerns Complicate Opening of Football Training Camps.

Other columns from the past week:

He Made a Mistake, But Miami Knows Who Dwyane Wade Is -- And Knows It By Heart

Marlins Captain Miguel Rojas On Pandemic And Playoffs As Baseball Returns

Rest In Pieces, Redskins. Now Here Are Sports' Other Suspect Nicknames

Other recent columns: 'Redskins Is Racist Nickname Based On a Lie. Time For It to Disappear  /  Money Or Health? NFL and Major College Football Face A Decision  /  Tough Times All Around, But Rise Of Miami Sports Offers Hope  /  The Face Of Miami Sports in 2020: Our Top 20 And Who's No.1  /  Time to Abort Season Restarts and Call Off Sports For Rest Of 2020  /  Uh-oh. Cam Newton means Belichick and Patriots Are Back  /  Saving the National Anthem From Sporting-Event Extinction  /  Baseball Joins In With Restart Plan. But Is Sports Walking Into a Giant Mess?  / Noose Left For NASCAR's Bubba Wallace's Only Grows Resolve to End Racial Hatred  /  and Team That Signs Kaepernick Will Be Champions Of the Street

Special Don Shula tribute columns: Don Shula, 1930-2020, R.I.P. and What Shula Meant to a Father & Son. They Boy Was Me

George Floyd-related columns: Sports' Gradual Return Offers America Relief We Desperately Need / It Took George Floyd To Finally Wake Up White America / Goodell's NFL Response to Floyd Killing Is Hypocrisy At Its Most Ironic / and George Floyd Is Why Kaepernick & Sports Must Continue Fight For Social Justice

Select earlier columns from 2020: Amid Pandemic And Protests, 'America's Pastime' Is Letting American Down / Return Of Sports Promises Historic TV Smorgasbord / Homestead Is Test Lab As NASCAR Gradually Welcomes Back Fans / R.I.P. Kurt Thomas, an American Gymnastics Pioneer  / MLB Players Demanding More Millions, Right Now, Is A Bad Look / Amid a Pandemic, An Outrage in Alamance County / Welcome to Sports Without Fans, the New Normal / As NBA, MLB Plot Return, We Miss Them -- Yet Sports Have Never Seemed More Trivial / Anticipation of Relevance, Excitement Is Tua's Gift to Miami / Hall of Famer Andre Dawson On Baseball and Owning a Funeral Home Amid COVID-19 / Dolphins Aim High, Win Big With Tua Tagovailoa Pick / Greg Cote's 2020 NFL Mock Draft / Coronavirus, Tua Make This Dolphins' Weirdest, Most Interesting Draft Ever / NFL Draft Will Offer Blunt Verdict on Canes' Talent / Ultimate All-Time South Florida Major Sports Trivia Challenge / Sports Should Stop Pretending It Will Resume Anytime Soon As Coronovirus Rages / How a Longtime Herald Sport Writer Came to Own a Top Contender in Florida Derby / Time for NBA, NHL to Shut it Down, End Seasons / Le Batard Show Deals with Coronavirus-Related Upheaval / Brady Leaving Patriots for Tampa. Will Belichick Be Proved Right In Letting Him Go? / Miami Sports Now Utterly Engulfed By Coronavirus Threat -- But Precaution Is Justified / Inter Miami Is Market's Sleeping Giant As Home Opener Nears / Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent' / Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love / Time For Anonymous Lone Voter Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward / Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala / Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football / Our two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90 / Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / and Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team

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Revisit this blog often because it updates regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Greg is also a regular on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Finding Greg Cote:  Twitter.  Instagram.  Facebook.  Columns.  Podcast.  Podcast on Twitter.  Podcast on Instagram.  LeBatard Show.  Book: Fins At 50.  Songs: Letting Go (audio) and The Ballad Of 1440 (video).