March 18, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 this week and what else falls where; plus our Dolphins/Kaepernick column, grading-Tannehill-era poll (last day to vote!), 'Greg Cote Day' & more

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

Stpday1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 18. Hope y'all had a Happy St. Patrick's Day! 2) Saw Elton John on Saturday in Sunrise on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour -- likely the last  time I'll see him perform live. If so,  thanks, Elton, for being the enduring soundtrack of my life. 3) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Losses piling up in Dolphins free agency, Nova Southeastern hoops, national bobblehead shrine, farewell Wake/Gore, new Back In My Day & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami trades QB Tannehill, signs Fitzpatrick: An era ended and the Fins' rebuild kicked into higher gear with the trade of quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Tennesee for (essentially) a fourth-round draft pick. Now, after Miami failed in free agency to lure either of two short-term replacements, Tyrod Taylor or Teddy Bridgewater, the Fins on Sunday signed veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. In a swap of Ryans, Miami just lost a younger, better one than it got.

2. HEAT: It's stretch run for Wade's 'Last Dance': Miami, No. 8 East seed as of now at 33-36, learned Friday what it might face in a first-round playoff matchup vs. No. 1 Milwaukee. Heat led at home by 20 at halftime yet lost 113-98, buried by the Greek Freak. Miami, with only four home regular-season games left in Dwyane Wade's 'Last Dance' farewell season, sets out on a four-game road trip starting tonight at OKC. 

3. MARCH MADNESS: Selection Sunday (and Monday) for NCAA college hoops: It was Selection Sunday for the NCAA men's basketball tournament -- a.k.a March Madness -- with Duke, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Virginia earning No. 1 regional seeds. The women's field is to be announced Monday. Jim Larranaga's Miami men, after a 14-18 season including 1-1 in the ACCs, had no shot at NCAAs and will be hoping for NIT table scraps. But Katie Meier's UM women -- 24-8 and ranked No. 19 -- should feel some NCAA love Monday.

4. HURRICANES: UM football spring practice on deck: The first on-field work of the new Manny Diaz era begins Tuesday with the first of 15 spring practices. Scrimmages are scheduled April 6 and 20, the latter wrapping up spring work. Overshadowing it all: Whether the NCAA decides to grant QB Tate Martell's transfer waiver to make the former Ohio State Buckeye eligible in 2019.

5. INTER MIAMI: Beckham group pitches first two seasons in Broward: Miami's new David Beckham/Jorge Mas Major League Soccer franchise has proposed playing its first two seasons in a new stadium at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium site, beginning next year, before moving into its permanent home at Miami's Melreese site. Fort Lauderdale city council will vote Tuesday.

6. PANTHERS: Cats were hot, but is  it too late?: The wildly up and down Panthers are 32-40 after losing Sunday to end a four-game win streak, and are eight points off playoff pace with 10 games left in the NHL regular season. It will take a small miracle from here for Cats to sneak into postseason.

7. MARLINS: The rebuilding Fish are en fuego!: Miami, expected to be really bad this season, is the hottest team in MLB right now at 13-10 after nine wins in a row entering the final week of spring training. Quick suggestion: Save some of these wins for April.

8. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN: Sharks reach Division II regional final: Coach Jim Crutchfield's Nova Southeastern men's basketball team won again Sunday in the NCAA Division II Southern Regional the Sharks are hosting, and now face Lynn from Boca Raton for the region title on Tuesday. NSU is now four wins from a national title.

9. CANES BASEBALL: Canes drop two of three at UNC: Unranked UM is now 15-5 after dropping two of three at No. 8 North Carolina. Looks like Gino DiMare's guys will have to wait some more (and win some more) to crash polls.

10. NFL: Browns, Jets land big stars: Odell Beckham Jr. is now a Cleveland Brown and Le'Veon Bell is now a New York Jet -- arguably the NFL's premier receiver and running back going to once-downtrodden teams. So the Bible was right. The meek truly shall inherit the Earth.

Missing the HB10 cut: Happy St. Patrick's Day, lads and lasses! Big day for drinking. Sort of like most other days at my house ..... Alaska native Peter Kaiser won the grueling 1,000-mile Iditarod sled dog race, by which I mean his eight dogs won ..... Southern Cal, UCLA and other schools are implicated in a sprawling college admissions scandal. Prosecutors say 33 parents, including two prominent actresses, and several college coaches face charges in a scheme in which rich folks bribed the admissions system on behalf of their kids. Those actresses' latest role: Acting innocent ..... Recent CFL flameout Johnny Manziel has signed with the Memphis Express of  the Alliance of American Football. Over/under on his being suspended or cut: Three weeks? ..... Manchester City, Juventus, Barcelona and Liverpool are betting favorites in the eight-team, two-leg quarterfinal round of the Champions League beginning April 9. Looking for a Cinderella to root for? Saddle up FC Porto, the Portuguese side facing Liverpool ..... Update: Countdown now 2,652 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

ColinkRIGHT TIME. RIGHT TEAM. WHY DOLPHINS SHOULD SIGN COLIN KAEPERNICK: The Dolphins traded QB Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee today, basically for a fourth-round pick. Decent (not great) return. Earlier this week they failed to sign Tyrod Taylor or Teddy Bridgewater in NFL free agency this week. But at least one better option still is out there. We're so used to the image of Kaepernick being anthem-kneeling that we almost forget he's a quarterback -- not retired, but wanting work. He's an activist, but still an athlete, too. (As a reminder, I chose a photograph that pictures him passing, not kneeling). He's eager for a comeback. And the Dolphins are eager to sign a "bridge" QB who'll be a stopgap guy between the long-anticipated moving on from Ryan Tannehill and the drafting (and readiness) of the future of the franchise. Enter Kaepernick, 31. I discuss why that's a good idea, as well as the negatives, in my latest column. To read , please visit The Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin.

Other most recent columns: 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour.

RyantPOLL: GRADING THE TANNEHILL ERA. VOTE NOW!: Ryan Tannehill became an ex-Dolphin late this afternoon, and now we invite you to grade his seven years with Miami. Base your grade on your expectations via his draft status vs. what he accomplished. Notice the poll runs from a high of B-plus to a low of D-minus. Not even Mrs. Tannehill would call Ryan's an "A" time here; oppositely, though, it would be unfairly harsh to drop an "F" bomb on poor Ryan. Fairest to say the Tannehill era here was shades of gray, neither a wild success, nor a bust-failure. Let your grade reflect your thoughts on that. Vote now!

GcdIT'S 'GREG COTE DAY'! NO, SERIOUSLY...: Some sentences are so patently ridiculous they hardly need elaboration. Here's one: "The Fort Myers Miracle minor-league baseball team has scheduled a 'Greg Cote Day' at the ballpark on Saturday, July 27." They're a Minnesota Twins affiliate in the Class A Florida State League. Apparently some of their front-office folks are fans of mine on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz, which I co-host Tuesdays on ESPN Radio and occasionally other days, too. If it is possible to be half-honored, half-embarrassed about something, I'd say this may be it. I know some of the rest of the show will be joining us that evening. You can, too. Could be a hoot. Go to FortMyersMiracle for ticket info.

Select other recent columns: A Case For Tannehill, Gore And Wake All Returning / Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done / Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye / Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild / Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed / He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too / Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five 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

March 05, 2019

A Necessary Firestorm: Why Martina Navratilova's controversial comments on transgender athletes sparks a valuable conversation. Our new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Radio Tuesday, our holiday in Mexico & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, MARCH 5. Happy to be back. Wife and I took a long weekend off on a four-night cruise to Mexico. Cozumel is better than Cancun and it ain't even close. Our tour guide's passion about his Mayan culture was really great to hear. All in all we had a great time there after successfully scaling Trump's border wall. 2) Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The extraordinary journey of Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, Wade's signature 'Last Dance' moment & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz. It airs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. nationally on ESPN Radio and ESPNews, after an exclusive local hour 8:55 to 10 on Miami's 790 The Ticket. Join us!

MartinaWHY MARTINA NAVRATILOVA'S COMMENTS ON TRANSGENDER ATHLETES HAVE STARTED A VALUABLE CONVERSATION. OUR LATEST COLUMN: This is complicated. It's about equal rights on one side, but also about fairness on the other. Tennis great Martina Navratilova (pictured) is now  being vilified by the same LGBTQ community that once adored here because she dared to suggest, in an  op-ed piece for the Sunday Times Of London, that transgender women have an unfair advantage competing in sports against athletes born female, and thus should not be allowed to. Evidence backs her on the advantage claim, yet the comments have been angrily portrayed as transphobic. To read our latest column, please visit Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate. I believe Navratilova raises valuable points that merit a civil discussion. There is much gray here. I do not think it is at odds to be both pro LGBTQ-rights (as I am) but also to find merit in Navratilova's concerns.    

Other most recent columns: Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / The Evolution Of Sports Into Big Business / Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done / Zion Should Say See-Ya Duke and Shut It Down / Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye / Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild / Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed / He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too / Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (one day late here because of our weekend away, and updated today), 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. HEAT: Miami wins, now needs to get on a run: Dwyane Wade's exhilarating game-winning buzzer-beater vs. Golden State was a signature moment for his Last Dance season, but it doesn't erase the fact Heat are wallowing at 29-34 and on the far edge of playoff contention after last night's 1-point home win over Atlanta. Wednesday in Charlotte, Miami aims for its first three-game winning streak since before Christmas.

2. DOLPHINS: Kyler Murray wows at Scouting Combine: Oklahoma's Heisman-winning quarterback was thought to be in play for the Dolphins with the 13th overall pick in the draft. But after his showing at the recent NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis there is talk he may go top-five or even No. 1 overall. The big news? He measured 5-10 1/8th -- not 5-9 as some feared. (Woo hoo!) Do the Dolphins have a major trade-up in them? Yeah, I doubt it, too.

3. GOLF: Keith Mitchell wins Honda Classic: Who!? Yeah, it was Mitchell's first PGA Tour win, by one shot over big names Brooks Kopeka and Rickie Fowler in a mostly low-watt event in terms of star power. Mexico's Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, whom we wrote about (see link above) missed the cut.

4. MLB: Phillies land Bryce Harper: Free-agent prize Harper stays in the NL East after signing a 13-year, $330 million contract with Philadelphia. Always thought he was overrated. Add overpaid now. He'll next be a free agent at age 39 entering the 2032 season. Think the rebuilding Marlins might be good by then?

5. UM BASKETBALL: Ranked Canes women prep for ACC tourney: No. 15-ranked UM women bring a 24-7 season record and No. 4 seed into the ACC Tournament, which opens for the Canes Friday vs. a yet-to-be-determined opponent in Greensboro, N.C. Expectations are high. Not so much for the Miami's men's team, which is only 12-16 entering Tuesday's season finale vs. Pitt prior to next week's ACC tourney.

6. PANTHERS: Are we still pretending Cats have playoff shot?: Four straight losses, all by one goal, have left Florida 28-37 and a big 10 points off NHL playoff pace entering Tuesday's game at Pittsburgh. Cats had been hot(ish) before the current tailspin that is ill-timed to say the least.

7. CANES BASEBALL: Hot UM prepares for ACC schedule: Gino DiMare era is off and running at 9-2 entering a Wednesday home game vs. Appalachian State, with ACC play opening with a home series starting Friday vs. Georgia Tech. DiMare seems up to the Ron Fraser/Jim Morris lineage so far.

8. NFL: Jaguars zeroing in on QB Nick Foles: As NFL free agency commences next week, Jacksonville reportedly has plans to release Blake Bortles in favor of signing Eagles free agent-to-be Foles. Miami could have opted for a similar upgrade, said nah.

9. NBA: LeBron calls out Lakers teammates: LeBron James called out his young Lakers teammates for being distracted from basketball, and later yelled at teammate Mo Wagner. Oh the indignity of me, LeBron James, not making the playoffs! It's an outrage!

10. MARLINS: Yep, it seems Fish may be as bad as we thought: Marlins are 3-7 one-third through spring training after yesterday snapping a five-game losing streak. But the last three of those losses in a row had been by only one run. (Nobody said accentuating the positive was easy, folks).

Missing the HB10 cut: Division II men's basketball team Indiana University of Pennsylvania traveled for a road game without its uniforms, and had to play in the nude. Just kidding! They borrowed the host team's road unis ..... L.A. high school safety Antoinette "Toni" Harris, the first female football player (non-kicker) to sign a college letter of intent. Missouri's Central Methodist University, y'all just made history ..... The Montreal Alouettes released Johnny Manziel and the CFL banned him from the league for violating his contract. "Operator, could I have a number for the Alliance of American Football, please?" ..... Pacman Jones was arrested at an Indiana casino. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Because NFL officials were not present, ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy berated high-school basketball referees after a loss by his stepson's team ..... Update: Countdown now 2,666 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup. ..... Farewell and happy retirement to Clark Spencer, the Herald's longtime baseball writer. Mostly congratulations, for not having to cover the Marlins anymore. 

Select other recent columns: Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity / The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019 / The Redemption Of Manny Diaz / Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five 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

February 25, 2019

Why Heat's Pat Riley is defiantly scoffing at retirement. On the premiere of new ESPN/Le Batard TV series with Riles in debut episode; plus Radio Monday (!), latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25. Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade's farewell a masterwork in how to retire right, 6 reason for Marlins optimism, Miami's rank among best sports cities, new Back In My Day video, Brandi Carlile's 'The Joke' & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Monday (!): I'm co-hosting on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz today/Monday instead of my regular Tuesday gig because of a Herald work-related conflict. It airs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. nationally on ESPN Radio and ESPNews, after a local-only hour 8:55 to 10 on Miami's 790 The Ticket. Join us!  

PrileyOn Le Batard TV premiere with Riley: ESPN's Dan Le Batard has a new ESPN TV series called Art Of Conversation that premiering last evening with Heat president Pat Riley. I thought it was really good. In case you missed it, or even you didn't, here is our review. Please visit Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done.

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. HEAT: Miami stumbling out of All-Star break: Post All-Star break, first the Heat lose to a 76ers team minus Joel Embiid, then get clobbered 119-96 by a Pistons they're chasing for the final East playoff spot. Slumping Miami now is 26-32 and 10th in the jockeying for eight playoff tickets. Why? Largely because the 11-17 home record is the worst by far of any playoff contender. After hosting Phoenix on Monday, Miami plays Golden State here Wednesday. Oy.

2. MARLINS: Spring games underway for retooling Fish: Miami opened its 30-game spring schedule on Saturday vs. the Cardinals in Jupiter. They got clobbered, giving up 20 hits in an 11-1 loss, and are now 0-2 in fake games. (Keep repeating: "Spring results don't matter..."). Highlight of spring opener: Starter Sandy Alcantara looked pretty good in two innings' work. Lowlight: Everything else. 

3. MLB: Padres hit Machado jackpot: San Diego won the bidding for prized Hialeah-born free-agent slugger Manny Machado with a 10-year, $300 million bid. Padres have never won a championship in their 50 seasons and last made the playoffs 13 years ago. No pressure or anything, Manny! 

4. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women end jinx, beat FSU: The 23-6 UM women rose to No. 14 in polls before an upset loss at Virginia Tech, but bounced back at home to beat nemesis Florida State 64-54 Sunday -- ending  a nine-game regular season losing streak in the series. As regular seasons wanes, Katie Meier's troops are playing for NCAA Tournament seeding. Meanwhile Jim Larranaga's 11-14 Miami men's team likely needs a big finish and a prayer just to sneak into the NIT.

5. ZION WILLIAMSON: Unraveling Nike sneaker fells game's top player: panthers ] College Player of the Year-designate Zion Williamson of No. 1 Duke crumples and injures a knee when his Nike sneaker falls apart during a game like a frayed retread on the Interstate. Barack Obama, at the game, was seen on TV saying, "His shoe broke!" Accurate. Meanwhile Nike stock takes a billion-dollar hit before rallying.

6. GOLF: Tiger says he won't play the Honda: Tiger Woods said he'll skip this week's Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, South Florida's only PGA Tour event since the tour left Doral. Modest field features only three of top 20-ranked players in No. 2 Brooks Koepka, No. 4 Justin Thomas and No. 9 Rickie Fowler. With fan favorites like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth also all skipping Honda, event could have really used Tiger.   

7. ROBERT KRAFT: Patriots owner nabbed in prostitution sting: You just can't make this stuff up, folks. If you did, nobody would believe you. So the 77-year-old owner of the New England Patriots is caught in a police sting for eliciting sex at a Jupiter massage parlor. Pats won the Super Bowl but evidently (you see this coming, right?) Kraft had another happy ending in mind. 

8. PANTHERS: Cats clobber Kings, but time running out: As Monday's NHL trade deadline looms, Florida routed the visiting L.A. King 6-1 Saturday night but still are only 27-33 and a big 10 points back in the playoff chase. Cats finished a seven-game homestand 4-3 and now hit the road starting Monday in Colorado.

9. CANES BASEBALL: UM loses series at rival Florida: The Gino DiMare era busted out to a 5-0 start before the unranked Canes lost the final two games of a three-game weekend set vs. No. 3-ranked Gators in Gainesville. 

10. DOLPHINS: Fins bolster front office with McKenzie: Dolphins hired Reggie McKenzie as "senior personnel 0executive," which basically sounds like he'll be a right-hand man for general manager Chris Grier. McKenzie spent past seven years as GM for the Oakland Raiders, but we won't hold that against him.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dan Le Batard's new ESPN series, Art Of Conversation, premieres Sunday at 5:30 with a profile of Heat prez Pat Riley. Shameless Plug Alert: I have details about the show and its first episode here ..... Ichiro singled in his first spring at-bat for Seattle. Also notable: He's bleepin' 45! ..... Famed Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim said he would coach Saturday night's game just two days after an accident in which his car struck and killed a man. Boeheim has fully cooperated and may not be charged with anything. Still, maybe take the next game off while the other family plans the funeral? Just a thought ..... The new Alliance of American Football, entering its third week, already has needed a bailout to meet payroll. Buzzards are circling ..... Former straight-laced NBA coach Don Nelson, in retirement, has grown a hippie beard and become a devotee of marijuana. Somewhere, Bill Walton is smiling ..... ..... A Kenosha, Wisconsin high school gave cheerleader awards called Big Booty and Big Boobie until the school board stepped in. Give the Big Idiot award to the coach who let it happen ..... Breakdancing has been proposed for the 2024 Olympics. Oh Lord how I wish I were kidding ..... Update: Countdown now 2,674 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

ZionwA BUSTED SHOE, A HURT KNEE AND WHAT'S NEXT FOR ZION WILLIAMSON: The most-talked about and coveted young basketball phenom since LeBron James suddenly falls with an injured knee on Duke’s court because his Nike sneaker fell apart. It’s national TV. The camera shows former President Barack Obama, seated courtside, saying, "His shoe broke!" That’s notable enough. But what happens next might be bigger: Will Zion Williamson play another game for Duke? Should he? Why should he? That's the gist of my column. To read it, please visit: Zion Should Say See-Ya Duke and Shut It Down.

Other most recent columns: Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye  /  Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild  /  Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed /  He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too /  Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins.

Select recent other columns: Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity / The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019 / The Redemption Of Manny Diaz / Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five 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

January 28, 2019

The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else ranks where; plus our Le'Veon Bell/Dolphins column, your Hall verdicts on Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod and Rose & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 28. Football is at its crescendo and so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cooperstown polls on Bonds/Clemens/A-Rod/Rose, your verdict on Super Bowl want-to-win/will-win & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Le'Veon Bell to Dolphins? 2 major obstacles, but not  impossible: To read my newest column, visit Le'Veon wants Dolphins, And Interest Should Be Mutual.

Other most recent columnsBonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road and We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints. Also: This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

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

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's Super Bowl Week in America!: It's L.A. Rams and New England Patriots in the buildup to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta next Sunday, and the Saints stuck back in New Orleans, and the NFL building a super-sized asterisk to attach to this game.

2. HEAT: Will Wade be chosen all-star reserve?: Miami is 24-24 after two straight winning entering a three-game homestand. And Dwyane Wade learns this Thursday if he'll be selected as an all-star reserve in his Last Dance season. Call it D.Wade's last shot.

3. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream hosts Pegasus World Cup: A horse named City of Light burst through the rainy gloom at Gulfstream Saturday to win the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the richest horse race in America. The race casual fans will next pay attention to, the Kentucky Derby? One-third the purse.

4. BASEBALL: Rivera makes history to lead Hall inductees: Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina are the newly elected members of Cooperstown -- Rivera by a first-ever unanimous vote. Wait a second. Babe Ruth and Ken Griffey Jr. didn't earn every vote but a closer did? Meanwhile cover the kids' eyes. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are getting closer.

5. TENNIS: Championship weekend at Aussie Open: After No. 4 seed Naomi Osaka beat No. 8 Petra Kvitova on Saturday in an unexpected Australian Open women's final, 1-2 heavyweights Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal went at it this morning to decide the men's half of the year's first major -- Djokovic winning in straight sets. And once again "Nowhere" answers the question, "But what about the American players?"

6. PANTHERS: Yandle reps Cats in All-Star Game: The Metro beat the Central 10-5 Saturday in the 64th NHL All-Star Game Saturday in San Jose. Defenseman Keith Yandle repped the Panthers, who are skidding through a disappointing season but won three straight entering the break, sparked by Vincent Trocheck's return from an ankle injury.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women in opposite directions: Miami men are 9-10 after three straight losses and six in past seven games after Sunday's home loss to Florida State. But Canes women are sailing at 18-4 with four straight wins including a big one over No. 13 Syracuse. Hope Katie Meier doesn't hurt her back carrying the program.

8. RUNNING: Marathoners pound Miami streets: While you were asleep early Sunday morning after drinking too much last night, thousands of serious runners were flooding downtown streets in the annual Miami Marathon & Half-Marathon. I'd complain about the inconvenience to drivers, but if you're in a car at 6 a.m. on a Sunday in Miami, you'd better be delivering the Herald. By the way, a guy from Kenya won the race. Or, did that go without saying?

9. PRO BOWL: NFL all-stars meet in Orlando: The Pro Bowl went off Sunday in Orlando for the third straight season, with the AFC beating the NFC 26-7. Originally selected rosters changed by one-third because of attrition. Cornerback Xaven Howard represented the Dolphins, because he's young and so doesn't know yet that what you want is to be chosen for the Pro Bowl but not actually play in it.

10. GOLF: Tiger opens season at Torrey Pines: Justin Rose carved out a 2-shot win in the Farmers Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego that ended Sunday. Tiger Woods, in his first event of the new season, finished at 10-under par, tied for 20th place. Except on the attention leaderboard, where he remains on top.

Missing the HB10 cut: Was watching some of that 24-hour race at Daytona. If Greg Cote is in a car driving for more than four hours, he's looking for a Motel 6 ..... Isn't there something sadly fitting about the Dolphins being unable to sign their new coach until the Patriots finish playing in the Super Bowl? ..... Oh college football Transfer Portal, bless you for causing QB Tate Martell to transmogrify from a Buckeye to a Cane! ..... The Senior Bowl was Saturday, because apparently an entire season is insufficient for scouts to know about players ..... As college baseball nears the Gators and Seminoles are ranked No. 4 and 6 in Baseball America's preseason poll. The Canes under new coach Gino DiMare are unranked ..... Marlins FanFest has been scheduled for Feb. 9. Derek Jeter hopes your ballpark experience is so much fun you'll barely notice the team is still bad ..... Update: Countdown now 2,703 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

POLL RESULT: YOUR HALL VERDICTS ON BONDS, CLEMENS, A-ROD AND ROSE: We asked you if The Polarizing Four -- Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose -- should be in the Hall of Fame. After more than 1,200 votes, you voted YES for all four. It was 80.80 percent for Rose,  77.74% for Bonds, 75.27% for Clemens and 69.49% for Rodriguez. Based on the Cooperstown requirement of 75% for admission, Rose and Bonds are plenty good to go, Clemens is in by a millimeter and, sorry A-Rod, close, but no Hall for you.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five 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

January 26, 2019

Le'Veon Bell to Dolphins? Let's discuss. New column; plus Cooperstown Ultimatum: Yes-or-no on Hall for Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, Rose. 4 polls. Last day to vote!; also, your Super Bowl want vs. will verdicts & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 26. Football is at its crescendo and so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Rams-Patriots want/will Super Bowl polls, Saints-got-screwed column, Hot Button Top 10, new Back In My Day video (Vending Machines!) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

LbellNEW COLUMN: LE'VEON BELL TO DOLPHINS? 2 MAJOR OBSTACLES, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE: To read my newest column, visit Le'Veon wants Dolphins, And Interest Should Be Mutual.

Other most recent columns: Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road and We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints. Also: This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

Bonds Clemens Rodriguez RoseCOOPERSTOWN POLLS: YOUR IN-OR-OUT VOTES ON THE 4 MOST POLARIZING EX-PLAYERS: In my latest column I (a Hall of Fame voter) discuss why support for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens is growing to a degree I think they have a good shot to eventually get in, while the road for Alex Rodriguez (first eligible for 2022 induction) may be tougher. And then there's ol' Pete Rose. Pictured left to right: Rose, Rodriguez, Clemens, Bonds. No undecide votes in these polls. As with a Cooperstown ballot, it's yes or no. In or out. So read the column here: Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road. And then vote in-or-out on all four men in our new polls:

POLL RESULTS: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN SUPER BOWL, WHO YOU THINK WILL: We asked, "Do you hope the Rams or Patriots win the Super Bowl?" and your vote was Los Angeles by an even 60.24 percent to 39.76%. We asked, "Do you predict the Rams or Patriots will win the Super Bowl?" and it was New England by 77.42% to 22.58%. Some poll results are predictable. These two were.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five 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

January 08, 2019

What was Miami's biggest sport story of 2018? Our 20 finalists. You pick top 6. Annual poll. Last day to vote!; plus my LeBatard and Canes columns, Radio Tuesday, Hot Button Top 10, how we did on NFL playoff picks, your top-national-story winner & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, JANUARY 8. Yes I might still say "Happy New Year" and I don't care who objects with their silly rules. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend picks, biggest-national-sports-story-of-2018 poll, make-Wade-an-all-star column & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, my first time back with Dan and Stu since before the holidays. Show airs 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Miami's 790 The Ticket and nationally on ESPN Radio affiliates and on ESPNews from 10 to 1. Join us! 

The Le Batard, Canes' Chaos to Calm columns: Visit From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 for a special, unusually personal column by me. And, in my latest column, UM director of athletics Blake James takes us behind the scenes on the day when Canes football when from a bombshell of upheaval to the calm of continuity within hours. Visit Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm.

Other most recent columns: Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff. Also: The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

PicksNFL playoff picks: Wild-Card Weekend results: I finished 2-2 straight-up and 2-2 against the spread in the Saturday/Sunday TV doubleheaders that got the postseason underway. Straivght-up, I called the Chargers upset win and also had Cowboys winning. ATS, got the Chargers and Eagles covering at Chicago. Got a bit unlucky. Was sailing with Dallas to cover until that late Seattle score and 2-point conversion. And had Bears straight-up if not for that double-boink final makeable field goal miss. Thanks, Cody Parkey. Visit NFL Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all of our opening round selections.

Miami18WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2018? VOTING CONTINUES!: [Note: Voting continues through today and results will be announced here Wednesday morning]. This is our third year doing this. In 2016 you voted the tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest local story of the year, and for 2017 it was the Hurricanes' Turnover Chain-fueled surge to UM's first 10-win season in 14 years. The vote to name the biggest local story of 2018 could be tougher, and closer. We'll see. And you'll decide. Previously we invited you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (results below). Now we invite you to select the 2018 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from a roughly alphabetical top 20 of my choosing. You may vote for your top six (6). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Voting will continue until results are announced here mid-afternoon Tuesday. OK. Ready? Vote!

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

EaglesYOUR BIGGEST NATIONAL SPORTS STORY VERDICT: We gave you The Associated Press year-end list of Top 10 national sports stories for 2018 and invited you to select your top three. That means the highest possible percentage for any one answer would be 33.3 percent if all voters cast all three votes. Triple each vote total below for the approximate percent of times that answer was included in a top three. Your results: 1. Eagles win first Super Bowl 22.43%; 2. Larry Nasser/gymnastics sexual abuse scandal 20.15%; 3. Supreme Court allows sports betting beyond Las Vegas 15.59%; 4. Tiger Woods comeback from back surgery 9.89%; and 5. Maryland-Baltimore County first 16-seed to beat a No.1 in NCAAs 9.13%. (Nasser/gymnastics scandal won The AP vote). Others: Red Sox win World Series 6.84%; Sister Jean, 98, inspires Loyola-Chicago to NCAA Final Four 4.94%; expansion Golden Knights reach Stanley Cup Finals 4.18%; Alabama wins fifth national title under Nick Saban 4.18%; and Russia doping scandal continues into Pyeongchang Olympics 2.66%.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins in search for Gase's replacement as coach: Adam Gase is out. Chris Grier gets the personnel power Mike Tannenbaum had. The search is on for a new head coach. And none if it matters as much as this: Finding a quarterback better than Ryan Tannehill.

2. HURRICANES: Diaz continues assembling new staff: New head coach Manny Diaz digs in to try and find a new offensive coordinator to breathe life into the underperforming half of the team. Major Applewhite, perhaps? No matter who the new OC is, will N'Kosi Perry be his guy?

3. NFL: Colts, Cowboys, Chargers, Eagles advance as playoffs begin: Indianapolis won impressively in Houston, handled Seattle, the Chargers upset Baltimore and Philly upset Chicago to open the playoffs -- the latter only because Cody Parkey blew a 43-yard FG try in last seconds.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Clemson routs Alabama for CFP title: Crimson Tide and Tigers met Monday night in Santa Clara, Calif., with both teams 14-0 and 'Bama a 5 1/2-point favorite, but it was Clemson winning in a rout, 44-16. We've seldom seen Nick Saban look so sad. Ain't it great!?

5. HEAT: All-star push for Wade is on: As Heat have won eight of past 11 and are at .500 in East race, the push is on to send Dwyane Wade off as an all-star in his final season. He's running second in fan voting. Now we'll see if the player and media vote gets it right, too.

6. UM BASKETBALL: ACC schedule begins for Canes men, women: Now it gets real. Struggling UM men dropped their ACC opener, fell at Louisville last night and now play at No. 9 Florida State Wednesday. Canes women are 14-3 after two wins to open ACC play but somehow slipped from Top 25.

7. JAMES HARDEN: Rockets star's pointfest continues: Harden has now scored 30 or more points in 13 straight games, and NBA record. There are points hidden in Harden's beard.

8. PANTHERS: Hints of hope for Cats, but is it too late?: Cats at midseason are 17-23 and a big nine points off playoff pace as they head out on five-game road trip. Even a big second half might not be enough -- not a good position to have placed yourself.

9. NBA: Warriors, King set 3's mark: Golden State and Sacramento combined for 41 3's, an NBA record. The game's evolution is such, when you pull up for a 2-point jump shot now, they look at you funny.

10. BASEBALL: Biggest deals still on hold: A destination of top free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. A trade of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Women carry babies in their wombs less time than it's taken these deals to happen.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,724 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 05, 2019

NFL Wild-Card Weekend playoff picks: Winners here!; plus What was the biggest national sports story of 2018? Annual poll. Here's The AP Top 10. You pick your top 3. Vote now!; also, our recent Dolphins/Hurricanes upheaval columns & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 5. I'm still saying "Happy New Year" and I don't care who objects with their silly rules. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The 3 days that shook Miami  football, final Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeSend D.Wade out as an all-star: The fan vote is saying the Heat's Dwyane Wade, in his final season, should go out as an NBA all-star starter. The players and media votes should do the same. To read our latest column, visit Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff.

Other most recent columns: The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time (on firing Gase, demoting Tannenbaum). Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM (on hiring new football coach). Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes (on shocking resignation of Mark Richt). 'Bama Shows Miami The Way Back To That Good (on Tide's Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal win). And Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

NFL PLAYOFF PICKS / WILD-CARD WEEKEND: AND THE 4 SURVIVING WINNERS ARE..: The Magical Season of Cote marauds into the postseason under  shower of confetti after a personal- Picksrecord-setting regular season. We’ve been doing NFL picks in the Miami Herald since Don Shula and Dan Marino were still rocking Miami. The Patriots quarterback was somebody named “Hugh Millen.” Bill Belichick was a rookie head coach with the Browns. It was 1991 — making this our 28th season of picks. And our best. Ever. Our .705 season winning percentage overall tied our personal best. And our .582 mark against the spread stands alone on the mountaintop at No. 1, beating the previous record of .574. Not a great finishing kick last week but we still managed to hit on four dogs with points in the Lions, Cowboys, Bears and Bengals. Now we wipe the slate. Playoffs, baby! Chaff has separated from wheat. Wanna-be's like the Dolphins watch on TV while the dozen qualifiers enter the Super Bowl Tournament. This opening weekend eight teams are in play while the four bye kings rest and wait. Our four Wild-Card Weekend picks include one by-the-numbers upset and at least one other that feels like one based on betting trends. Visit NFL Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all of our latest selections.

YOU PICK THE 2018 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-in-review vote on the biggest national sports story in America. The top 10 stories in this poll are 2018not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically by subject here, not in the 1-through-10 order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE (3). And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. On Sunday, following our national vote, we'll offer a separate poll to choose 2018's biggest Greater Miami/South Florida sports story. For now, let's go nationwide. One year ago, you voted "NFL player protests over social justice draws critics led by President Trump" as the No. 1 national story, followed closely by "Astros win 1st World Series to lift city devastated by Hurricane Harvey." What reigned for 2018? You decide, right now. My personal top 10 probably would have found room for LeBron James joining the Lakers, the corruption scandal in college basketball and Serena Williams' successful return from maternity leave, but, again, this is The AP's list. We'll keep the poll open three-plus days and announce results on Sunday as we present the South Florida poll. Vote now! 

Vote for the top three (3) biggest national sports stories of 2018:

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 24, 2018

How satisfied are you with the Dolphins? Latest DSM postgame poll. Vote now!; plus embarrassing Fins lose 17-7 to Jax, end playoff hope. Gase, Tannehill on outs? My game column; plus newest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Ceve1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 24. Merry Christmas Eve! 2) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Weeek 16 picks, FIU wins Bahamas Bowl & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our 'Debacle of Disappearing Dolphins' column: The Grinch stole the playoffs in Sunday's dispiriting 17-7 Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. But did he also steal Ryan Tannehill's Fins future and Adam Gase's job. I explore in my column from the stadium off the game. Visit End Of Hope For Dolphins. Of Tannehill, Gase, too? to read. Other most recent columns: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era and How Miami-Based ESPN Star Dan LeBatard Is Growing His Empire Again.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: Time again for the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday's 17-7 home loss to Jacksonville putting Miami's season record at 7-8 and eliminating the Fins from playoff contention. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 8 a.m. Tuesday/Christmas morning. (The DSM also takes place on Twitter @gregcote. You may vote there now, too.

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

G13: 83.9% following 34-33 victory vs. New England.

G14: 6.5% following 41-17 loss at Minnesota.

G:15 Voting now underway following 17-7 loss vs. Jacksonville. 

G15: JACKSONVILLE 17, @DOLPHINS 7 (FINAL): PLAYOFF HOPE EXPIRES AS MIAMI CLOSES HOME SEASON: Final thoughts: An embarrassing loss by Miami, which had been 6-1 at home this season, to a Jags team that was one of the NFL's biggest disappointments. No excuses for playoff hope to officially expire in this manner. Read my column from the game HERE ..... 4Q: JAC 17-7 on Telvin Smith 32-yard return of Tannehill interception ... JAC 10-7 on 26-yard FG, first score of game since first quarter. It's pretty bad when three points feels like a big hole for Miami ... OK. Next score wins? ..... 3Q: Jags have 1st at Miami 17 after turnover, end up with 4th and 46 and punt. A lot of awfulness on display here ... Oh my. Miami's Bolden loses fumble at own 17. Ex-Cane Calais Campbell recovers ... Jalen Davis blitz-sack for Miami forces Jags punt ... Kessler back at QB for Jags to open second half ..... Halftime thoughts: One good drive by the Miami offense, one bad series by the defense and bunch of nothing about summarizes this 7-7 first half. Telling: Fins get ball at Jags 33 after fumble recovery and fail to score. This game is to close. You must beat a bad Jax team at home! ..... 2Q: Jags have 44-yard punt return but miss 55-yard FG on last play of half ... Wake 3rd-down sack forces punt after Bortles replaces shaken-up Kessler ... Fins' Branch recovers Kessler fumble at Jags 33 but Miami fails to take advantage, misses 47-yard FG ..... 1Q: JAC 7-7 on Fournette 1-yard TD run. Fins defense looked as bad that series as the offense looked good in taking the lead ... MIA 7-0 on Tannehill-Bolden 4-yard TD pass. Ends impressive 78-yard opening drive that includes completions of 20 to Amendola, 31 to Ballage ..... Pregame notes: Xavien Howard is among Miami's inactives. They'd hoped he'd play; instead he's out a third straight game ... Betting line has dipped from Miami favored by 4 to 3 1/2 ..... Original post: Jacksonville, one of the NFL's biggest disappointments, is 4-10. Miami is a standard still-mediocre disappointment at 7-7. Together they make a 1 p.m. Hard Rock kickoff that won't set ratings records for CBS as the Dolphins close their home season before next week's finale at Buffalo. Example No. 438 of how little faith there is Mia Jaxin Miami: The Dolphins are favored by a mere 4 points, or only one point above standard home-field advantage over a colossally disappointing Jacksonville team that has lost nine of its past 10 games. Oh, and that’s with the Jaguars 1-5 on the road while Fins are a stout 6-1 at home. And with Miami still fighting on the periphery of playoff contention while Jags are mentally headed to the first tee. An insult, this 4-point line! QB Blake Bortles was bad enough for Jax to bench him but Cody Kessler has been worse. By a lot. Kessler has led one touchdown drive in 31 possessions over three games since taking over, yet will start again. Ryan Tannehill is sure to look great Sunday if only in contrast to his counterpart’s epic putridity. That figures as Miami’s secret weapon today: The other team’s QB. Dolphins also expect to have top cornerback (and lone Pro Bowl pick) Xavien Howard back from injury. Jaguars’ only real hope is to feed Leonard Fournette enough carries to reduce chances of Kessler doing something dumb. As for my earlier putting "Miami" and "playoff contention" in the same sentence, the two technically fit although it’s win-out-and-pray for the Fins. Closing at Buffalo next week won’t be easy. Neither will getting sufficient help from a confluence of other results all falling just right. But beating Jax and Cody Kessler at home? This should be the easy part of what’s left. Call it a little consolation parting holiday gift from from the Dolphins to Dolfans in the season's home finale -- a little thank-you for enduring what is looking like yet another ultimately unfulfilling Miami season. My pick: Dolphins,24-13.

Visit Week 16 Gems for all of our latest NFL selections. Had a good Saturday. Called Ravens' upset at Chargers in a bull's-eye of an Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Was perfect on Titans beating 'Skins until that last-second pick-six ruined us against the spread. Oh well. Them breaks work both ways.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 23-24): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami ends home season sourly to end playoff hope: Miami playoff hopes were on life support entering the game. The plug was pulled with Ryan Tannehill's late pikc-six interception sealing Sunday's 17-7 home loss to lowly Jacksonville. Now, let the speculation about Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase's futures begin!

2. HEAT: Hot Heat finally hitting their stride: Miami has won five in a row and nine of post 12 to surge onto playoff pace (current seventh seed) with Sunday's win in Orlando, as Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside do some heavy lifting. Heat has reached .500 at 16-16 and on Wednesday can top it for the first time since 3-2.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Five days' til CFP Orange Bowl semifinal: It'll be No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl this coming Saturday -- the sexier of the two College Football Playoff semifinals. (Sorry, Clemson-Notre Dame). With the Dolphins and Canes a combined 14-13, it'll be a nice change to see excellence on the Hard Rock field for a change.

4. HURRICANES: Bowl Thursday, but latest Perry scandal dogs team: Miami faces Wisconsin in a Pinstripe Bowl duel of 7-5 teams Thursday at Yankees Stadium with Canes a shaky 3-point favorite. Shaky because QB N'Kosi Perry may not play after reports he's posted a sexually explicit video on social media. That would make it three such errors in judgement for Perry. Isn't there a phrase ... something about three strikes?

5. FIU: ButchCats triumph in Nassau, set record for wins: FIU's 35-32 winover Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl capped a 9-4 season to set a school record for wins. Dolphins and Canes disappointed, but at least one Miami team stood up.

6. RECRUITING: Early signing period not a winner for Canes: College football's early signing period Dec. 19-21 found Miami's incoming class ranked only 34th in nation by ESPN.com. A 7-5 season and sudden departure defensive boss Manny Diaz hurt. Ranked No.1 overall is Alabama. Or, did that go without saying?

7. PANTHERS: Signs of life at last for Cats!: It is now four wins in past five games for Florida and signs of life in a down-so-far season after last night's 6-3 win in Chicago. Cats still six points off playoff NHL pace,but finally climbing.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women continue early excellence: Katie Meier's UM women are ranked No. 24 and 11-2 with five straight wins after impressing in the Florida Sunshine Classic with defeats of Vanderbilt and Alabama. Jim Larranaga's guys are more quietly at 7-4 as they ready for ACC schedule.

9. BASEBALL: Biggest winter deals still on hold: Free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and Marlins on-the-trading-block all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto are still out there and available with no deals struck. Hey, pitchers and catchers report in seven weeks. Tick tock.

10. DAVID SAMSON: Marlins ex-president, fans exchange unpleasantries: At a LeBatard Show "Mas Miami" event in Wynwood last weekend David Samson took the microphone to wish Dan a happy birthday, was roundly booed and responded by saying "F--- you" to  the crowd. Alrighty then!

Missing the HB10 cut: A New Jersey high-school wrestling official with a history of racist behavior forced a black competitor to cut his dreadlocks. What needs to be cut next: That official, from his job ..... Answer: Imprisoned-for-life Larry Nasser says his years of sexual abuse of female gymnasts should have been tried as a medical malpractice case. Question: What's the new and ultimate definition of "delusional"? ..... NFL suspends Josh Gordon. Again. The only good to come of it? Belichick and Brady are sad ..... Update: Countdown now 2,738 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

FiuMOMENTUM FOR FIU NICKNAME CHANGE?: In wake of Saturday's Bahamas Bowl victory giving FIU a 9-4 season and school-record for wins -- and two straight encouraging seasons under Butch Davis -- there is a move to change FIU's nickname from Panthers to ButchCats. Actually there is no such move. There is just me playfully suggesting it. I ran a Twitter poll, there were 734 votes, and ButchCats beat Panthers 2-to-1 -- 67 percent to 33%.

Select other recent columns: Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 20, 2018

Revealed and explained: My 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot; plus latest Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results (still en fuego with our picks!), Radio Tuesday, two Beatles and a Stone (video) & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20. Go here for the sharp fall in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame results. 2) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins get crushed in Minnesota with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Recent stuff from me: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era, on abrupt departure of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to be Temple's head coach. And How Miami-Based ESPN Star Dan LeBatard Is Growing His Empire Again.

BallotREVEALED! MY 2019 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT: I am a proud BBWAA member and Baseball Hall of Fame voter, despite the Le Batard Show's efforts to make fun. This is (I think) my fourth year as a voter, and I take it seriously. Men's legacies are at stake. Players Bbhoftake Cooperstown seriously, and so do it. My latest ballot is pictured. Hopefully it is readable. If not, licking on it will enlarge the image. I voted for nine players (the maximum allowed is 10). Last year four of the players I voted for got inducted. This year my nine votes go to five returning-eligible players I also voted for last year (Barry, Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield); two first-time-eligible guys (Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera); and two players on the ballot before who got my vote this time (Fred McGriff and Mike Mussina). There were near-misses; Todd Helton was one. For the record, Rivera, the great Yankees reliever, is the only player I'd consider a mortal lock for Cooperstown when results are announced on Jan. 22. A few others could be close in either direction. We'd discussed on the LeBatard Show my support for Juan Pierre, who I think had a very good and underrated career. Upon further research, though, I could not in good conscience vote for a player who didn't make a single all-star team. Sorry, Juan!

WATSON TAKES WEEK, MAHOMES PROTECTS LEAD / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 15: The Texans' Deshaun Watson (pictured) Watsontakes Week 15 honors with a 41.70-point game (season's lowest winning week) while Chief Patrick Mahomes maintains his overall No. 1 spot in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill suffered an awful enjoyed 3.40-point game but hangs in 29th place. Our rankings are cumulative, but with bye weeks finished the playing field has leveled for the stretch run. This is our 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL QB rankings. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 25 table (plus Dolphins) entering Week 16:

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 15
RK    LW    Player, Team                       WK15        Season

1       1       Patrick Mahomes, KC           32.15         560.15

2       2       Drew Brees, NO                   23.15         545.30

3       3       Matt Ryan, ATL                    30.55         526.30

4       4       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        26.75         506.10

5       5       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 25.75         504.15

6       7       Philip Rivers, LAC                34.65         494.55

7       6       Andrew Luck, IND                19.60        493.55

8       8       Jared Goff, LAR                   26.95        458.65

9       9       Tom Brady, NE                     27.95        451.95

10     14     Deshaun Watson, HOU          41.70        426.60

11     10     Aaron Rodgers, GB               18.70         416.20

12     12     Derek Carr, OAK                   20.15        414.85

13     11     Cam Newton, CAR                 6.55         401.75

14     13     Eli Manning, NYG                  6.45          395.95

15     15     Dak Prescott, DAL                16.30         394.80

16     18     Russell Wilson, SEA              32.85         389.25

17     17     Matthew Stafford, DET        28.40         385.75

18     16     Carson Wentz, PHI               DNP           377.70

19     21     Mitch Trubisky, CHI             34.75          331.70

20     19     Case Keenum, DEN             20.85          329.80

21     20     Baker Mayfield, CLE           22.40          326.25

22     23     Marcus Mariota, TEN          13.40          282.90

23     22     Andy Dalton, CIN                DNP           270.30

24     24     Joe Flacco, BAL                  DNP           246.25

25     25     Alex Smith, WAS                 DNP           236.00

29     29     Ryan Tannehill, MIA            3.40           203.30

33     33     Brock Osweiler, MIA            DNP           126.35

Bubble: Blake Bortles, JAC, 229.65. Week 15 best: Watson, HOU, 41.70 (22-28, 294, 2-0 in win). Week 15 worst: Cody Kessler, JAC, 0.85 (9-17, 57, 0-1 in loss).

Picks LobosNFL WEEK 15 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: GREAT ... AND BAD: Every Tuesday in the blog I update you on how I did the past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. The latest: Herald picks: Great. Again. My magical year continues. We went 11-5 overall this past week and also 11-5 against the spread. We nailed yet another Upset of the Week with Steelers beating Patriots ("Aawwk!"), had a second outright upset with Titans winning at Giants, and bull's-eyed a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Redskins, Eagles and Panthers last night. All in all, maybe our best season ever hits its homestretch! Greg's Lobos: Bad. The Lobos fell to 1-1 in the consolation-bracket playoffs after a 5-8 regular season. Lorenzo Rodriguez had our number, 78 to 66.1, with Deshaun Watson (22.4) the only Lobo who showed up. Nevertheless: #WeAreTheLobos!

HALF THE BEATLES AND A STONE: In his concert last week  in London, Paul McCartney was joined onstage by Ringo Starr and Ron Wood for "Get Back." Old folks like me who actually remember who the hell Ed Sullivan was might enjoy it.

Select other recent columns: Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins / The Magic Saved Gase, And Made Fins the Toast of Town / Oklahoma, College Football Win the Day / Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 18, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.5%; plus Sacked! Miami crushed 41-17 by Vikes, falls to 7-7, sees playoff hope go cold. With our postgame thoughts; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Mas Miami & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 17. Had a fun time at Saturday night's Le Batard Mas Miami event at The Wynwood Yard. Great to meet so many of you! 2) Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 15 picks, you verdict on Diaz leaving Canes, our LeBatard scoop 2.0 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Most recent stuff from me: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era, on abrupt departure of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to be Temple's head coach. And How Miami-Based ESPN Star Dan LeBatard Is Growing His Empire Again.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 6.5%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a sharp fall to 6.5 percent -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 41-17 loss at Minnesota putting Miami's season record at 7-7. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday. (The DSM also takes place on Twitter @gregcote. The vote there was 26%).

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

G13: 83.9% following 34-33 victory vs. New England.

G14: 6.5% following 41-17 loss at Minnesota.

Next poll: Dec. 23 following game vs. Jacksonville. 

G14: DOLPHINS AT MINNESOTA: CAN THE ROAD-WORRIER FINS BECOME ROAD WARRIORS?: Final thoughts: Three games in one. Miami falls behind 21-0 fast with worst first quarter of season. Miami scores 17 unanswered points to get back in it. Then the first-quarter bums return in an ultimate 41-17 loss that levels the Dolphins record at 7-7 and renders playoff hopes remote. Fins must win out for 9-7 and then get lucky with other teams losing and tiebreakers. Miami was equally bad on offense and defense Sunday. The offensive line gave up nine sacks (!) and Ryan Tannehill was lousy beyond that. The defense could not do anything right, especially against the run. Only two big plays -- Minkah Fitzpatrick's 50-yard pick-6 and a 75-yard Kalen Ballage scoring run -- kept it from being an even greater embarrassment. Miami has now lost 111 of its past 12 road games to put playoff hopes on life support ..... Original post: Miami's realistic playoff hopes hang in the balance of the question posed in the headline as the 7-6 MiaminDolphins visit the 6-6-1 Vikings Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS, with the Fins sizable 7 1/2-point road underdogs. There is huge NFL Week 15 playoff impact here for your holiday season, with Minnesota presently hanging on to the sixth and last NFC seed and Miami in a mad scrum for the same final spot in the AFC. That makes it even on desperation, although Vikes’ sense of must-have may be magnified by losses in two straight games and three of past four. The pick here tilts simply and heavily on venue. It did last week in our calling the Dolphins’ home upset of New England, and it does to the other extreme here. Fins are 1-10 in past 11 road games, traveling about as well as a dead body in a trunk, while the Vikings are 10-2 in past dozen at home. I’m not a slave to trends, but not blind to ‘em either. See a big and needed home lift for a team that played Monday night and then kneejerk-fired its offensive coordinator. The change should mean better balance (more running, more Dalvin Cook), which in turn should open things up for Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Cousins infamously is 4-24 in his career vs. teams with a winning record, but this figures to be a lot to handle for a Fins defense likely without injured top CB Xavien Howard again. (He's officially "doubtful," which in NFL injury-speak almost always translates to  "out"). I also see Vikes’ D as better all-round than the Pats’. Having said all that, the betting line feels too big. Oddsmakers consistently have disrespected Miami and its competitiveness all season, and here’s the latest example. My pick: Vikings, 23-17.

Visit Week 15 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 16): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Ouch. UM loses excellent DC Diaz to Temple: Not the holiday gift Mark Richt was looking for, losing defensive coordinator and father of the Turnover Chain Manny Diaz, who bolted to become Temple's head coach but will coach Canes' D a final time Dec. 27 in the Pinstripe Bowl vs. Wisconsin. Richt promoted two from his staff to be co-defensive coordinators. Might take three to replace Diaz.

2. DOLPHINS: Roadkill! Fins get crushed in Minnesota: Last week the "Miami Miracle" beat the Patriots and kept playoff hope alive. Sunday a more standard football miracle was required. That would be a team on a 1-10 skid in road games beating a team on a 10-2 roll at home with Miami as a big 7 1/2-point underdog. Didn't happen in a 41-17 defeat putting playoff hopes on life support.

3. HEAT: Miami wraps up 4-2 road trip: Heat banked a 4-2 road trip with Sunday might's win in New Orleans. One reason Miami is spinning wheels at 13-16 this season? Up and down Heat are yet to put together more than a two-game win streak. They'll got for three in a row in returning to action Thursday vs. Houston.

4. PANTHERS: As Cats continue to disappoint, is coach on thin ice?: Should coach Bob Boughner be worried? Cats beat Toronto in OT last night but still are only 12-19 in a season that has never quite taken off. Now Florida has four straight on road starting Tuesday.

5. FIU: Four days 'til ButchCats go bowling: It's FIU vs. Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau this coming Friday afternoon. Not a big deal? It's on ESPN, FIU has chance for a school-record ninth win, and the conch fritters over there are to die for.

6. BASEBALL: Biggest deals still pending at winter meetings: No definitive news on Bryce Harper yet. Or Manny Machado. Or the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto. How about this: Wake me when one of those three guys is officially changing uniforms.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Women carrying banner thus far for Canes hoops: The 24th-ranked UM women are 9-2 after winning Sunday and now face Vanderbilt and Alabama in a December 20-21 holiday event in Winter Park, Fla. Meanwhile the 5-4 Canes men are back in action Wednesday trying to end a four-game losing streak and find answers before ACC games commence Jan. 3.

8. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Bowl season is underway!: Six games on Saturday kicked off bowl season -- the three-week parade of 39 bowl games. Bulletin: If your team is not Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame or Oklahoma, your bowl game is superfluous.

9. RECRUITING: Early signing period is this week: December 19-21 is the early signing period for top high-school football players choosing colleges. Imagine being National Signing Day in February and having your thunder stolen like that?

10. MAS MIAMI: LeBatard Show fans flock to Wynwood: Thousands of LeBatard Show fans partied at The Wynwood Yard last night in a Mas Miami event to celebrate Dan's 50th birthday, and Greg Cote isn't sure which was the higher number: Selfies taken, or drinks consumed.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,745 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins / The Magic Saved Gase, And Made Fins the Toast of Town / Oklahoma, College Football Win the Day / Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote