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Marlins' home opener: Empty stadium, but full of promise. New column; plus Fractured college football mirrors U.S. divide on handling pandemic, Big Ten and Pac-12 set moral compass, on Panthers/Tallon, Greg Cote Show podcast Episode 24 out now & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, AUGUST 15. 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 24 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter and Instagram.

CoteshowGREG COTE SHOW PODCAST: NEW EPISODE 24 OUT NOW!: Our Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," debuted in March and new Episode 24 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 24 we've done so far RIGHT HERE. Free! No paywall! Please listen, subscribe, rate and review. In Episode 24 Greg discusses his likes and dislikes about being on the Le Batard Show. Also, hear from a screenwriter with a movie on Netflix who also happens to be running for Broward County supervisor of elections. And: A guy who wrote a book about baseball cards ... and a double dose of Mount Gregmore (G's)! Hear all that and more now in new Ep24! 

FOR MARLINS, A HOME OPENER -- AND FIRST PLACE -- IN MID-AUGUST. CAN THIS YEAR GET ANY WEIRDER?: [From Marlin s Park and last night's 8-2 win over Atlanta in Miami's much-delayed home opener]: Oh my how the Miami Marlins tried. Did everything they could to make their much-delayed first home game of the season Friday night feel special. Only in Marlinsbaseball does Opening Day get capital letters, and so for their return to Marlins Park — finally! — they hung red, white and blue bunting and even called the full team to the baseline for pregame introductions. Like it was April. Like everything was the same. When absolutely nothing is. The jumbo video screens were lit and the PA announcer enthusiastically called out the Marlins to a sea of 37,000 empty blue seats. Manager Don Mattingly has been in 31 big-league home openers as player, coach or manager, and he wasn’t even going to try to pretend. "I know it’s a home opener, but it doesn’t feel like much of one," said Donnie Baseball via a remote Zoom hookup, de rigeur now for coach and athlete interaction with media. "It’s another game, honestly. It ends up being a regular game." Well, not that, either, though. Not in a time when hardly anything in 2020 is regular, in sports or in life. That includes the Marlins themselves, more happily for Mattingly. His team unexpectedly held onto first place in the NL East with an 8-2 home-opening win led by Pablo Lopez’s eight-strikeout, no-walks gem. One month ago Lopez, 24, was grieving the sudden death of his father to a heart attack. Now he’s a big reason why Miami is an unlikely feelgood story in MLB. (Pictured: Lopez and first baseman Jesus Aguilar during the game]. "We were eager and excited to come home," Lopez said. "A really fun game all around." Clutch hitting, speed, great base running including another steal of home, a pair of highlight-reel defensive plays in left field by Matt Joyce -- all of that happened on a night that would have set the ballpark rocking, had there been fans in it. "A well-rounded game for us," Mattingly understated it afterward. "Kind of got contributions from all over the place. Speed is a difficult thing to deal with. The bats are coming alive." (Can it be real? The Marlins look good). The Fish became the first South Florida pro team in more than five months — in 156 days, since March 11 — to play a home game that actually was at home, following a 24-day, 12-game road trip to begin the delayed MLB season. It was the latest home opener by any team in the sport’s 144-year history. For my full latest column on a night both eerie and exhilarating, please visit For Marlins, A Home Opener -- And First Place -- In Mid-August.

FRACTURED COLLEGE FOOTBALL MIRRORS AMERICA'S DEEP DIVIDE ON HOW TO HANDLE A PANDEMIC: Who is in charge here? Anyone? We haven’t seen this before. Not at any time, in any major sport. It has elements of anarchy. Mutiny. Insanity, even. Hello, NCAA? Anybody home? Like pandemic-plagued 2020 itself, what we see happening in college football Collballahead of this fractured 2020 season is unprecedented. Wait. No. There was the Spanish Flu of 1918 as a pandemic precedent. But in terms of sports? Nope. This is a first. College football always has been an entity of many conferences at different levels, but with a cohesion to it. One sport under one umbrella, under one governing body. Now we see a sport splintered, going in starkly different directions. The Power 5 Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announcing Tuesday they would not play football in 2020 was the biggest sports headline of this coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Other smaller conferences and individual colleges already had done so. Now the onus is on the sport’s three other major leagues — Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 — to follow the path of safety first, of prudent caution, or be seen as recklessly putting revenue over the health of their student-athletes. And all indications are they will follow the money, of course. But even that is a crapshoot in a fluid time of uncertainty. "We’re going forward. The Big 12, SEC and ACC have made their decision," as director of athletics Blake James of the ACC’s Miami Hurricanes told us Wednesday. "But we can’t say anything with certainty. Can anything change? Without a doubt." College football's divide on whether to play in 2020 mirrors America's division on how best to handle a pandemic. To read our full recent column, please visit Fractured College Football Mirrors America's Divide On How to Handle a Pandemic.

FALL WITHOUT FOOTBALL: BIG TEN, PAC-12 SET MORAL COMPASS FOR NFL, OTHER SCHOOLS TO FOLLOWSomething amazing and nearly unimaginable is happening. Major college sports is doing the right thing. Not the popular thing. Not the best thing for its financial bottom line. But the right thing. If reports are true the Big Ten and Pac-12, major Power 5 Bigpacconferences, will not play college football in the fall of 2020. Reports are official announcements from both leagues are expected Tuesday. The much smaller Ivy League and Centennial Conference previously had opted out of football season. The Mid-American Conference joined them to become the first FBS-level league to do so. But the Big Ten and Pac-12 opting out takes this to a whole new level. This is the biggest news in sports since the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic turned everything upside down exactly five months ago. It is a monumental development because it a powerful message that our government — federal, state and local — should hear and heed: That in the ongoing national struggle to balance health and economic concerns, there should be no real debate. Lives are more important than dollars. The adults in the room, in this case Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents, commissioners and athletic directors, are saying as much, loudly, on behalf of their student-athletes. They are saying so even knowing acutely that football is the big dog on campus producing the revenue that sustains entire athletic programs. This also is a seismic development for what it may portend, for the huge domino that may have just tipped. Because, now, how can the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12 and the University of Miami’s Atlantic Coast Conference go on with their seasons as planned? How reckless will they seem, putting money ahead of safety, now that the Big Ten and Pac-12 have taken hold of sports’ moral compass? Same with the mighty NFL. To read this full recent column, please visit Fall Without Football: Big Ten, Pac-12 Set Moral Compass for NFL, Others to Follow.

AS FLORIDA PANTHERS MOVE ON FROM GM TALLON, WHO'S NEXT MIAMI TEAM EXECUTIVE FACING HOT SEAT?: When you don’t know what else to do, you fire somebody. When you’re out of answers and excuses, fire somebody. This is the way it works in big-time sports. Coaches and team executives are not often let go based on incompetence, but rather because the team owner Tallonran out of patience, felt pressure and needed a fall guy. Needed a bold stroke to convey action, perhaps to divert attention from his own inability to find a winning combination. Change merely for the sake of change is sometimes enough, and it erased Dale Tallon from the South Florida sports landscape on Monday. The Florida Panthers’ longtime general manager — 10 years is a lifetime in sports — leaves the hockey club by what is being called a "mutual agreement," because a respected 69-year-old NHL lifer deserves that, at least. Plainly, his contract expired when this season did and would not be renewed. It is understandable, this move. I am sorry to see it, and to say, but it is justifiable. Said team owner Vincent Viola: "When we purchased the Panthers in 2013 we did so with a singular goal, to win a Stanley Cup. We have not seen our efforts come to fruition." Tallon thanked fans and Viola in a parting statement issued through the club, but he is hurting. I texted Dale on Monday to ask if we might speak. He replied and, politely, wrote, "I will hold off at this time." Ironically, Tallon’s own successes as a GM raised the bar that ultimately caused his sacking. His Cats made a cannonball splash during the past offseason in hiring star coach Joel Quenneville (pictured with Tallon) and top free agent goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. The moves screamed win-now-or-else. Let Tallon’s departure be a warning that applies elsewhere in this market to others who are feeling job pressure, should be, or might be soon. Because not many get the 10 years Tallon got, and everywhere you look in South Florida — outside of the steadily competitive and stable Miami Heat — you see potential change. For my full recent column, including who I see as the next Miami team executive to feel pressure, please visit As Panthers Move on From Tallon, Who's Next Miami Team Executive on Hot Seat?

Our two most recent previous columns: 'Perfect Storm For Virus Transmission': Why Football Is Struggling to Lift Off and Here's Why Nobody Should Rule Out Heat Reaching NBA Finals.

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THE COTE ARCHIVES:

Marlins Hell Week Column Trilogy: Are Marlins To Blame For Own Outbreak? If So It Would Mirror America's Struggle / Marlins Outbreak Worsens, Sports Should Rethink Playing Again in 2020 / and Marlins Delaying Home Opener For COVID Outbreak a Scary Lesson For All Sports.

Other most recent columns: Marlins and Dolphins, In a Race For Relevance, Offer Hope At a Time We Need That / When Will Dolphins Unleash Tua? Exploring the Timetable as Rookies Report / Sports Resume, But Major Concerns Complicate Opening of Football Training Camps / 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 / '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 / Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / and two-part series on how Dolphins' Glory Day happened: 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 

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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).

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