February 22, 2020

Dwayne Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson in Love. Our new column; plus Marlins hijack blog as spring training opens & more

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, my Disco Cruise vacation & more. 2) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeAS HEAT RETIRE JERSEY, WADE PROVES ALL-STAR PARENT WITH EMBRACE OF LGBTQ COMMUNITY: The Miami Heat’s "L3GACY Celebration," the three-day tribute to retired franchise icon Dwyane Wade, finds something different now about Wade. His legacy has changed. It has grown, and in a way even he could not have imagined. Fate challenged Wade and his family to show who they are, and what they showed was love, unequivocal love. What they showed was the potential to influence thinking, soften prejudices and foment understanding — to remind us how much bigger than basketball the real world is. Wade had a baby boy he named Zion. Today that baby boy is a 12-year-old who identifies as she/her and is called Zaya. (Wade is pictrued with Zaya -- then still known as Zion -- on the court last April following his final Heat home game). No amount of fame or wealth — and Wade and actress wife Gabrielle Union have lots of both — guarantees how a couple will handle such a thing. But the Wades provide a masterclass in parenting here, not with mere "tolerance," a buzzword for the lowest form of begrudging acceptance, but with a warm and open embrace of their child’s journey, and, by extension, that of everyone in the LGBTQ community. It began when the child got home and told her folks, "Hey so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward, I’m ready to live my truth." As the Heat retire Wade's No. 3 jersey Saturday night, this is the story of how a transgender daughter and her family's response brought out the best in everyone. To read our latest column in full, kindly visit Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love.

YpuigWHY AREN'T MARLINS GOING AFTER YASIEL PUIG? HERE'S WHY: "Why aren’t the Marlins going after Yasiel Puig?" It is not unreasonable to wonder. In fact it might even be asked with a tone of incredulity. The question has probably been on the minds of Miami fans who care enough about baseball to know Puig (pictured) is the most prominent still-available free agent as spring training unfurls. Puig-to-Miami makes sense in a couple of undeniable ways. The Marlins have made an expressed effort to add offensive production to a 105-loss team that scored the second-fewest runs in all of MLB in 2019 and — in a season of record-setting longball — finished dead last in home runs. Puig, for all that is mercurial about him, is a career .277 hitter who has clubbed 28, 23 and 24 homers the past three years and who had a career-high 84 RBI last season. By any standards he is an above average hitter. By Marlins standards he’d a star — especially in this market, where the native of Cienfuegos, Cuba who defected in 2012 might be an especially popular signing. And, having just turned 29, Puig is in his prime, while his protracted availability suggests the price may be right. The Marlins’ roster would only be enhanced by adding Puig. But it won’t happen. And why it won’t happen underlines the fundamental difference between the regime of immensely unpopular former owner Jeffrey Loria and the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter hierarchy beginning its third season. To read my full recent column, please visit Why Marlins Aren't Pursuing Puig All About Change In Ownership.

BshermanMARLINS OWNER, MANAGER TURN UP PRESSURE ON TEAM TO MAKE BIG LEAP: The optimism surrounding the Miami Marlins’ start of spring training is quite sharply spoken. "A lot more talent [than last year] — upper level talent," as president of baseball operations Michael Hill put it Monday. But quantifying that optimism is a tougher ask. Trying to get a handle on Marlins expectations is where the expertly crafted vagueness comes in. "We’re not putting limitations on what we can do," said Hill, as if a jinx might be in play. Marlins CEO and part owner Derek Jeter famously says, "I don’t put a time frame on it," meaning any idea at all when the club’s ground-floor rebuild might bear tangible fruit. But majority owner Bruce Sherman (pictured) on Monday at least had the nerve to say, "The time now is to be much better this year." And manager Don Mattingly refreshingly placed some pressure on his team — and on himself. "I kept coming back to, ‘It’s time,’" said Mattingly. "Time to kind of get this thing up the hill. We’re going to be disappointed if we don’t make significant strides. We’ve got to raise or expectations." I was up in Jupiter for this week's opening of full spring training and launch of Year 3 of the Sherman/Jeter era. To read that column, please visit Pressure On Marlins for Big Improvement Now -- and It's About Time.

Our other most recent columns: It's 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 / Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place / And our two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90.

Other select recent columns: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami and Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His. Also: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever / How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City' / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Author of 'Fins At 50,' available on Amazon. Regular co-host on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

February 17, 2020

We're back with new Hot Button 10 (updated). Marlins, NBA, Dwyane Wade and NASCAR jockey for the top. See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus what we did on vacation & more

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17. We're back from a week's vacation. Details here below the new Hot Button Top 10. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, links to latest columns & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns:

(*) It's 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.

(*) Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place.

(*) Two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins; 2) How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 16-17): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday 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. DWYANE WADE: It's "L3GACY Celebration" Week in Miami: A jersey retirement ceremony isn't enough. Uh uh. Not big enough. Not for this guy. So the Heat will celebrate Dwyane Wade's career with three nights of arena events: "The Flashback" career retrospective (for season-ticket holders only) this coming Friday night; jersey retirement ceremony at halftime of Saturday night's game vs. Cleveland; and the premiere of a new documentary about Wade next Sunday.

2. MARLINS: Spring is sprung as Year 3 of Jeter Era gets underway: The Marlins' first full-squad workout of spring training in Jupiter is this Wednesday (pitchers and catchers already have reported) and Miami's Grapefruit League exhibition schedule commences next Saturday February 22. It's Year 3 of the Derek Jeter Era. Noticeable improvement, por favor?

3. NBA: All-Star Game, tribute to Kobe go off in Chicago: It was Team LeBron edging Team Giannis 157-155 in Chicago last night in the 69th NBA All-Star Game, with the recent death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash hanging over the proceedings, which will included tributes to Bryant. Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will lead hall of fame inductees in the 2020 eligibility list just announced.

4. NASCAR: Daytona 500 postponed until Monday: Jimmie Johnson's farewell season and an appearance by Donald Trump were notable on Sunday as NASCAR opened its season with its most famous race. Alas, inclement weather postponed the D500 until today. Homestead will rev up again soon enough, this year hosting the sixth race on March 22 after years hosting the finale.

5. HEAT: Bam, Jimmy lead Miami all-stars at break: Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler repped the Heat in last night's NBA All-Star Game, after Adebayo won Saturday's Skills Challenge and Derrick Jones Jr. won the dunk contest. Miami is 35-19 and fourth in the East at the break, but only 4-6  since January 24 and looking to start the second half strong when games resume this Thursday in Atlanta. 

6. MLB: Astros cheating mess getting worse and worse: Houston staged a universally scorned apology press conference that really wasn't, only making matters worse in its scandal over sign-stealing that tarnishes its 2017 World Series title. What a mess clouding the start of spring training. Damned baseball can't ever seem to get out of its own way.  

7. PANTHERS: Slumping Cats trying to regain footing in NHL playoff chase: Once-hot Panthers have cooled in February (only 2-7 this month), and are now four points off NHL playoff pace in the East after Saturday's loss to Edmonton. Now it's five straight away on a West Coast road trip.

8. UM BASEBALL: Canes open season with sweep, await visit by Gators: UM, No. 7-ranked by USA Today, awaits a home series vs. No. 10 Florida next weekend after a Wednesday game vs. Kent State. Miami opened its season with a three-game series with Rutgers, completing a sweep on Sunday. 

9. INTER MIAMI: Getting close now. So, so close...: Inter Miami's inaugural Major League Soccer season begins March 1 in Los Angeles, with the historic first home game in Fort Lauderdale on March 14 at the old Lockhart site. Let the countdown begin!

10. CANES HOOPS: Average UM teams need a strong finish, and a prayer: Miami men are 13-12 after Saturday's win at Wake Forest and the Canes women are also 13-12 after beatng Clemson Sunday, both with five games left in the regular season. Each needs a strong finish and some sort of splash in the ACC Tournament for any prayer of an NCAA Tournament bid. Doesn't help that neither has beaten a Top 25 team.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Las Vegas Raiders reportedly are prepared to offer Tom Brady a two-year, $60 million free agent contract. Which sounds like a rumor planted by Tom Brady's agent ..... Has the XFL folded yet? ..... Getting close: UM spring football practice begins February 29. The NFL Scouting Combine commences February 27 ..... Update: Countdown now 2,317 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

MAN WHO DISLIKES BOTH DISCO MUSIC AND DANCING GOES ON 'DISCO CRUISE': That would be me. I love a wide spectrum of music, but disco may be my least favorite of any type. The genre lends itself to dancing -- which I don't particularly enjoy, either. Yet there I was on a five-day 'Disco Cruise' this past week from Miami to Key West and Nassau aboard the Celebrity Infinity. Went with my wife Discoand another couple because the women thought it would be fun ... and it was, primarily (for me, at least) because a premium drink package and a casino meant I was free to partake of as much or as little of the actual disco music as I wished. In fairness I must say most of the performers were quite good, albeit entirely as nostalgia acts churning out 40-year-old songs. And of course in the case of the Jacksons, the Miracles, the Commodores, the Blue Notes and others, the acts typically were missing the one person who made them most famous (that would be Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie and Harold Melvin, chronologically). Many acts were one-hit wonders, such as The Trammps (Disco Inferno) and Sister Sledge (We Are Family). There were tribute bands for Earth Wind & Fire (so so) and Abba (really good). The headline act, KC & the Sunshine band, was a disappointment for me, although, in fairness, based on crowd reaction, I think my opinion was clearly in the minority. Frontman Harry Casey did his best, but at age 69 and by his own  admission really overweight, the spins and dance moves were excruciating to watch and the show was overly choreographed and almost Broadway-like in bombast and overproduction. KC poked fun at his own weight gain, joking the band maybe should be call "KFC" and the Sunshine Band. Still, give the Miami-born entertainer credit for a long and enduring career -- one given a new kind of life by these disco cruises. 

Other select recent columns: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami and Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His. Also: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever / How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City' / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Author of 'Fins At 50,' available on Amazon. Regular co-host on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

February 10, 2020

The Hot Button Top 10: See who's No. 1 and what else lands where this week; plus Heat/Marlins/Canes/Fins among our boatload of recent columns & more

1) It's MONDAY-SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10-15. We're off on vacation all this coming week. See ya'll next weekend! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Time for 'The Lone Voter' to step forward, Heat and Riley win on Iguodala, Ed Reed return part of Canes surge, Dolphins have a new roadblock, latest Back In My Day video & more. 2) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns:

(*) It's 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.

(*) Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place.

(*) Two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins; 2) How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 9-15): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday 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. HEAT: Slumping Miami in win-now mode with big Iguodala trade: Heat and Memphis beat the NBA trade deadline with a six-player deal that, at its core, sends Justise Winslow to the Grizzlies and brings elite wing defender Andre Iguodala to Miami. Smart move by the Heat with playoff run in mind. Heat is 34-18 and fourth in East after losing three straight and five of past eight, with two left before all-star break.

2. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Cats stumble, fall of NHL playoff pace: The once-hot Panthers have lost three in a row and four of past five to tumble to 29-25 and off playoff pace. Florida needs to regain its mojo starting Monday in Philadelphia to stay afloat in a brutally tough, packed Eastern Conference. 

3. RUNNING: More than 20K hit streets in Miami Marathon: Sunday's Miami Marathon and Half-Marathon drew more than 20,000 runners to the streets of Miami and Miami Beach. It's a glorious annual event except for people who drive cars and whose weekend plans are disrupted by hordes of exercise-obsessed fanatics in a sporting event of interest only to participants.

4. HURRICANES: Revamped UM sets spring football start: Coach Manny Diaz introduced new chief of staff Ed Reed, new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and new QB D'Eriq King in a National Signing Day press conference to wrap up recruiting. New-look Canes will hit the field to open spring practice on February 29, happily leaving last year's 6-7 nightmare behind.

5. MARLINS: FanFest ushers in arrival of spring: FanFest was Saturday at Marlins Park, signaling the arrival of spring. Pitchers and catchers have their first workout of spring training on February 14 and the full squad begins February 19. Here comes Year 3 of the Derek Jeter Rebuild, ready or not.

6. BASEBALL: Red Sox Nation up in arms over Mookie trade: Boston completed a blockbuster three-team trade that sent RF Mookie Betts and P David Price to the Dodgers, with the Red Sox getting CF Alex Verdugo and a pitching prospects whose medical condition held up the deal. To Red Sox Nation, feels like a salary dump and a surrender flag waving.

7. KOBE BRYANT: All-star tribute, public memorial upcoming: The helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others continues to reverberate. Next Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Chicago will include tributes to Bryant, and a public memorial has been set for February 24 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

8. SOCCER: U.S. women qualify for Olympics: The U.S. women's national team whupped Mexico 4-0 to qualify for the coming Olympics. Had the reigning World Cup champions not qualified for the Olympics -- now that would-a been news! U.S. has made every Olympics since the first for women's soccer in 1996, and has won four gold medals.

9. UM BASEBALL: Season on deck for No. 3-ranked Canes: Season of high hopes began with Saturday's FanFest and alumni game. Real play for coach Gino DiMare's ACC-favorite team opens at home starting February 14 with a three-game series vs Rutgers.

10. CANES HOOPS: Larranaga's men's team sort of stinks. Sorry: The terribly slumping Canes men are no 11-2, 3-10 in the ACC and 0-6 against Top 25 teams. UM women are a bit better at 12-10 and 4-7, but also 0-6 vs ranked teams. Not much local excitement building for March Madness, alas.

Missing the HB10 cut: The XFL debuted, and this is where I can't even muster enough fake interest to pretend I care ..... Bobby Knight attended his first Indiana basketball game in 20 years. Did he throw a folding metal chair just for old times' sake? ..... Jon Jones won UFC 247. Wake me when he  moves up to the heavyweight class ..... Countdown 21 days until Inter Miami's inaugural game as a Major League Soccer expansion team. Newbies play two on road before opening at home on March 14 ..... NFL Scouting Combine begins February 27 in Indy. NFL Network will extend coverage into prime time for the first time, prompting analysts to ask, "Why!?" ..... Update: Countdown now 2,324 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami and Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His. Also: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever / How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City' / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Author of 'Fins At 50,' available on Amazon. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 23, 2020

On Derek Jeter Cooperstown vote: IT WASN'T ME!; plus Super Bowl primer: Top 10 storylines you'll be sick off as Chiefs, 49ers head here; also, Miami's resurrection as 'Super Bowl City' & more

1) It's FRIDAY, JANUARY 24. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, nailed our AFC and NFC Championship Game picks, Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's biggest victory, new John Anderson video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Ballotagain DjeterOn Derek Jeter election: It wasn't me!: Miami Marlins president (and oh, yeah, former Yankee) Derek Jeter got into Cooperstown last night with 396 votes of 397 cast. A few weeks ago we'd been joking on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio that I (a BBWAA voter) should be the person to deny Jeter unanimous entry. They were goading me to do it. And so since last night fans of the show (even knowing better) have been suggesting I was the lone dissenting vote. Well, I was not that out-on-an-island person -- just to refute any dastardly rumors. In late November I even preemptively wrote this column: If Jeter Doesn't get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me. And pictured right is the official ballot I sent in. (Click to see enlarged version).

Jgaro AreidSUPER BOWL PRIMER: TOP 10 STORYLINES YOU'LL GROW SICK OF AS CHIEFS, 49ERS HEAD TO MIAMI: Parochially you know Miami wanted Ryan Tannehill for the Super Bowl it is hosting. The idea of the longtime Dolphins quarterback playing for an NFL championship in his former stadium, under the nose of the team that discarded him, would have been rather surreal and delicious. But get over it, already. Moving on. The matchup we got for Super Bowl 54, minted Sunday night, will have no problem filling two weeks of mountainous buildup. So: Ready, set ... hype! Here’s your primer. Our Top 10 storylines you’ll be sick of way before the Feb. 2 game at Hard Rock Stadium: The two teams' record title drought. Mahomes vs. Garoppolo. Reid vs. Shanahan. The Bosa Connection. Damien Williams and the Ex's. Finally Zach's time? Miami sets host record. Katie Sowers. The Special K's. And Canes are shut-out. Pictured left to right: Niners' Garoppolo and KC's Reid celebrating their Sunday wins. For our full latest column, please visit Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

Featured other most recent column: HOW MIAMI WENT FROM FORGOTTEN BY NFL TO BACK ON TOP AS 'SUPER BOWL CITY': We speak with Miami Super Bowl Host Committee head Rodney Barreto and Dolphins/stadium owner Stephen Ross.

Also: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Columns Headquarters. And revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 20, 2020

Miami Super Bowl set! It's 49ers-Chiefs!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, decision that changed Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's life (column), new John Anderson song (video) & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 20. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill tops NFL final four from Miami perspective, Clemson favored in 2020, NFL Divisional Round picks, new Ozzy/Elton song & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksNFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PLAYOFFS: PEREFECT. WE RODE CHIEFS, NINERS: Update: We were a perfect 2-0 straight-up and 2-0 against the spread on Sunday, with both winners  covering. Original post: Miami awaits. The two-week runup to the February 2 Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium begins this Sunday when the two teams are determined in the AFC and NFC Championship Games. The Cinderella in this final four is discarded Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill trying to lead Tennessee to its first SB appearance in 20 years — in his old stadium. But everybody packs a tale to tell. It has been 50 years (!) since Kansas City’s last Super Bowl appearance and win, and Andy Reid has coached more playoff games (27) than anyone to never win it all. Aaron Rodgers is after his elusive second career championship after Green Bay last reigned in 2010. And San Francisco last appeared in an SB in 2012 — but hasn’t won one since 1994. Of this final four, only K.C. made the playoffs last year, and the NFL is assured a new Super Bowl champ for the 15th season in a row. Two games. Win and you’re in. And Miami awaits. To see who'll get here, visit Will Tannehill Make It? Our AFC, NFC Championship Picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 19-20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature (back after a one-week hiatus) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's 49ers-Chiefs in Miami Super Bowl: Chiefs rallied to overwhelm Titans and 49ers comfortably handled Packers on Sunday -- winners take all to reach Miami and the Super Bowl. Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers were seen as the odd men out and were, with a Kansas City-San Francisco matchup the betting favorite all along. Miami awaited. Fate did its thing.

2. MLB: Sign-stealing scandal rocks Astros, sees 3 managers fired: The Astros fired the manager and GM who'd been suspended for a year by MLB. The Red Sox dumped Alex Cora and the Mets and Carlos Beltran parted. Baseball, if you're serious about stopping sign-stealing, here's your statement: The Astros' 2017 World Series championship is vacated.

3. HEAT: Miami completes excellent first half of season: Heat were 29-12 at the midpoint of the NBA season, second in the East and with a league-best home record (18-1) and seven players averaging in double-figure scoring led by Jimmy Butler's 20.3, before falling in San Antonio Sunday. With Bucks a near-certain No. 1 seed, Miami looks strong to earn playoff home court as season's second half begins.

4. JIMMY JOHNSON: Canes champ, ex-Fins coach makes Canton: Jimmy Johnson made Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2020 class, selected by a blue-ribbon panel as part of NFL 100 celebration. Toasting you with a raised Heineken, J.J! Now here's hoping a guy you draft in Miami, Zach Thomas, a finalist, finally gets in too when players are announced just before the Super Bowl. 

5. INTER MIAMI: New MLS team has first draft, opens camp Monday: New coach Diego Alonso and Inter Miami drafted Clemson forward Robbie Robinson No. 1 overall in recent MLS Draft. Miami opens training camp Monday at Barry University, working toward its inaugural season opener on March 1. Still hoping David Beckham dons a kit, but not holding our breath.

6. DOLPHINS: Miami loses defensive chief to Giants: Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham jilted the Fins for a lateral move to the New York Giants. Hmm. Didn't Miami finish 30th for most yards allowed this season and 32nd (dead-worst) for most points given up? Hey, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Pat!

7. NBA: Top pick Zion Williamson to make NBA debut -- finally!: The New Orleans Pelicans say overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson, who has spent all season thus far recovering from a knee injury, will finally make his debut this Wednesday at home vs. San Antonio. Equipment guy, please make sure he doesn't wear the exploding sneaker again.

8. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as All-Star break nears: Florida is 26-21 off four straight wins after Saturday's W at Detroit, with two other games left before a schedule pause for the Jan. 25 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. Cats are now right on the edge of playoff pace in an uber-competitive Eastern Conference.

9. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic favorites as Australia Open begins: Against the backdrop of the country's brushfires catastrophe, the 108th Australian Open,the year's first major, opens with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic the betting picks. Serena looks (again) to tie Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major singles titles.

10. HURRICANES: UM basketball isn't bad ... except vs. good teams: Miami's men's and women's basketball teams, both slumping, have proven solid vs. lesser foes and lousy against good teams. The Canes women are 0-5 vs. ranked opponents, and the men are now 0-4 after Saturday's heartbreak of an OT home loss to No. 9 FSU, with a Tuesday game at No. 3 Duke on deck.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes AD Blake James confirmed that Alonzo Highsmith would not be joining football program in "chief of staff" role advising coach Manny Diaz. Not knowing if he'd have been any good at it, Canes fans nonetheless were outraged in their disappointment after premature, misleading media reports suggested he'd be joining UM ..... Wow. Collegiate Baseball ranks the Hurricanes No. 3 in its preseason baseball poll. No pressure or anything, Gino DiMare! ..... Conor McGregor beat up on some guy in a cowoy hat last night in UFC 246 ..... A former player has sued alleging that Penn State -- of all schools -- and coach James Franklin ignored sexual-based hazing that including older players threatening "to Sandusky" younger guys ... Will the last Tigers player leaving national champion LSU for the NFL Draft please turn out the light? ..... The Winter X Games are this week, and nobody cares ..... Can somebody get Antonio Brown some help, please? Seriously ..... Next weekend, Saturday's Senior Bowl battles Sunday's Pro Bowl to see which football game the fewest Americans will watch ..... Ice Cube's BIG3 basketball league has lowered its minimum age requirement, surprising analysts who were unaware the BIG3 basketball league still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,345 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

JjHALL OF FAMER JIMMY JOHNSON'S BIGGEST VICTORY WAS KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT -- AND WHY: Twenty years earlier, to the day, Jimmy Johnson quit the NFL in despair, at a low point in his life. He retired from coaching and never looked back. It ended for him on January 15, 2000, on a football field in Jacksonville, his Miami Dolphins eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in a 62-7 humiliation. That wasn’t the worst of it. The recent death of his mother had hit him hard, hit him soul-deep, made him rethink everything. One of his two sons was struggling with alcohol addiction. It felt like his life was getting away from him. Wayne Huizenga, then the Dolphins owner, desperately tried to convince Johnson to stay — even offering to let him be a part-time head coach who handled the draft and worked only home games — but Johnson had to get out. "I needed to spend time with my family, and it paid dividends," the former coach was saying Wednesday, 20 years later, from his home 90 minutes south of Miami in the Upper Keys. "My two sons, we’re as close now as we’ve ever been. I am happier than I’ve ever been. Retiring from coaching — it saved my family." Sunday night, the NFL told Johnson he had done enough. He got out early because he felt he had to. But he had done enough. To read our full column on Johnson being welcomed into Canton, please visit Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why.

Other most recent columns: America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! Also: Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

NEW JOHN ANDERSON SONG/VIDEO : 'YEARS': Careful readers may know I'm a longtime fan of country singer John Anderson, who has one of the most distinctive voices in all of music. Well, he has a new album coming out that was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, a fan of his. This likely will be the first single, a reflective, wistful song about aging, in which a 65-year-old (let's be honest) fading star reflects on a bountiful career and life:

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

December 17, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at Giants; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 and a pitched battle for No. 1; also, NFL Week 15 picks & more

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 16. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 15 picks, Heat fall to LeBron's Lakers & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

MianygG14: DOLPHINS AT N.Y. GIANTS: THE STAKES? JOCKEYING WITHIN DRAFT'S TOP 5 PICKSTeams that are a combined 5-21 (Fins' 3-10 to Biggies 2-11) make for a dreadful matchup seeking a spark. Here it is: Eli Manning’s first home start since Week 2, and likely the next to last of his long Giants career. Emotions should be high as NYG fans cheer Eli warmly (until his first interception, when they boo him loudly). He starts again for Daniel Jones, who is nursing an ankle injury. I mentioned dreadful matchup? It’s the only one of Week 15 with both teams mathematically out of playoff contention. Fins are on a 1-12 skid on the road. Biggies have lost an NFL-high nine games in a row. A Miami upset would not surprise, but Ryan Fitzpatrick, already with little run support, will be further depleted if DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson (both questionable with concussions) are out. That, the Eli bump and Miami’s road woes are enough to tilt this pick, although — like a shoplifter hightailing it from a convenience store — I’ll put that dangling half point on the 3 1/2-point bet-line in my pocket and take underdog Fins to cover. Cote’s pick: NYG 27-24. See Week 15 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And watch for the latest  Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 53,9%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 53.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 36-30 loss  Dsmat the New York Giants putting Miami's season record at 3-11. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous 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 own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 18.3% following 59-10 loss vs. Baltimore.

G2: 24.6% following 43-0 loss vs. New England.

G3: 27.5% following 31-6 loss at Dallas.

G4: 35.3% following 30-10 loss vs. L.A. Chargers.

G5: 53.5% following 17-16 loss vs. Washington.

G6: 55.2% following 31-21 loss at Buffalo.

G7: 28.8% following 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

G14: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at N.Y. Giants.

Next poll: Dec. 22 following game vs. Cincinnati.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 15-6): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday 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:

1Hotbutton. HEAT: Visit by LeBron, another Waiters suspension lead drama-filled week: Heat won impressively in Dallas last night 122-118 led by Jimmy Butler's 27 and Bam Adebayo's 18-11-10 triple double -- impressive because it was the tail end of a back-to-back after that emotional 113-110 home loss to LeBron James and the Lakers. Miami sits pretty at 19-7. The ugly part? Dion Waiters suspended for the third time this season for being an idiot.

2. HURRICANES: UM juggles early signing, bowl prep: Miami and coach Manny Diaz prepare to play Louisiana Tech in the Dec. 26 Independence Bowl. But don't kid yourself. The program's priority this week is buttoning down as strong a recruiting class as possible on Wednesday's early signing day. There's still another one in February, but the early date has taken over in importance. Besides that, is anybody actually interested in facing Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl? 

3. DOLPHINS: Miami visits Giants with draft position the only stakes: The 3-10 Fins visit the 2-11 Giants Sunday in New Jersey with 2020 draft position the only thing in play. We know that because this is the only Week 15 matchup in which both teams are mathematically, scientifically and theologically eliminated from playoff contention. "But we love them both," said the draft's top five.

4. SOCCER: Miami FC joins USL ahead of Inter Miami startup: This is war! Miami FC has left the minor National Independent Soccer Association to join the bigger United Soccer League and will play matches at FIU Stadium as a direct challenger to Inter Miami, the new Major League Soccer expansion team beginning play in Fort Lauderdale in 2020. Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva is a proponent of an English-style promotion/relegation system that would allow the best USL teams to earn promotion into the top-tier MLS.   

5. MLB: Winter Meetings spawn trio of mega-deals: Ace pitcher Gerrit Cole signed a record $324 million deal to join the Yankees, while infielder Anthony Rendon signed with the Angels and ace Stephen Strasburg stayed with the Nationals, both on $245 million deals. That's three contracts totaling $814 million. Pretty good week, too, for the agent for all three, Scott Boras. 

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Heisman announced, bowl season on deck: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the 85th Heisman Trophy in the landslide fully expected Saturday night. Up next, there are 41 bowl games culminating with three to settle the College Football Playoff. But that's not for a couple of weeks. First: All the bowls you don't care about! Those start Dec. 20. State schools in action this coming week are FAU vs. SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl and FIU vs. Arkansas State in the Camellia, both next Saturday.

7. PANTHERS: Slumping Cats fall off playoff pace: New coach, new goalie, same disappointment? The Panthers are 15-17 after losing three straight and seven of past 10  as a nine-game homestand continues. The Cats would be outside looking in if the NHL playoffs started now.

8. HIGH SCHOOLS: South Florida football in near clean-sweep of state titles: There are eight divisions of state prep football. South Florida just won seven state championships. Congrats to Miami Columbus (Class 8), Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (7), Miami Central (6), Miami Northwestern (5), Miami Booker T. Washington (4) Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna (3) and Hialeah Champagnat (2). Wish some of that local winning would trickle up to the Dolphins and UM.   

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Nobody on men's side wants to be No. 1: Louisville fell to unranked Texas Tech to become the fourth No. 1 team to fall from the top perch already this season, following Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke. Kansas or Ohio State figure to be the new No. 1. Temporarily, at least.

10. GOLF: U.S. rally wins Presidents Cup in Australia: Played on odd years, the Presidents Cup is a U.S. team vs. an International team (the rest of the world except Europe) in men's golf. It's like the Ryder Cup, except not nearly as historic, famous or interesting. But Tiger Woods is the team captain and he led a rally for a U.S. win, so it sneaks into our HB10.

Missing the HB10 cut: NBA trade season begins today/Sunday and runs through the Feb. 6 deadline. Let's hope it's quiet in Miami with no regurgitated chatter (please) about Chris Paul. The Heat's emphasis needs to be about building cap space for a major whale-hunting excursion in 2021 free agency, not adding an old and costly contract to prevent that ..... There's another Patriots cheating controversy. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Enjoyed Saturday night's Le Batard Show Mas Miami IV in Wynwood. Great to meet so many of the show's fans! ..... NBCSN is hosting a weekend English Premier League fan fest from the Clevelander on South Beach. It is expected drinking may be involved ..... Russia's four-year doping ban from international competition was blamed on politics by Vladimir Putin. I'd probably blame it on cheating ..... Former Cane Clinton Portis is the biggest name among a dozen ex-NFL players implicated in a scheme involving NFL health benefits ..... The Giants waived Janoris Jenkins after he called a fan a "retard" in a tweet and then seemingly did not understand why the word is offensive ..... Hurricanes basketball about to heat up. Men play No. 7 Duke and No. 1 Louisville on January 4 and 7. Women face No. 8 FSU and No. 7 Louisville on January 5 and 9 ..... Here was the problem. The doctor recommended "bed rest" for the Jets' Le'Veon Bell for his flu. But Le'Veon thought he said "bowling" ..... J.J. Culver scored 100 points in Wayland Baptist's 124-60 NAIA win. Ah, sportsmanship! ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee announced new rules to prevent a repeat of 2019's unwieldy eight-way tie for first place. That's g-o-o-d, good ..... Update: Countdown now 2,380 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The 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

November 22, 2019

NFL Week 12 picks for Dolphins-Browns and all the rest; plus Le Batard explains the missing-Papi mystery; also, my Hall of Fame vote and Jeter, Dolphins should sign Kaepernick to hedge bets, NFL Week 11 Pix 'n Fantasy results & more

1) It's FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at home to Buffalo with DSM poll, Kyle Busch wins NASCAR crown at Homestead, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Tonight's Colts-Texans pick: Can Houston bounce back at home, on a short week, after its thorough spanking by Baltimore? Find out here: Week 12 Thursday Gem. 

New No. 1 in update Herald NFL QB rankings: A new guy sits atop our Top 20 chart, but it will be temporary, because he has a bye coming up this week and also because the men who sit second and third have both played one fewer game. To see it all, visit Herald Week 11 NFL QB Rankings.

PicksDOLPHINS-BROWNS, TOP GAMES BIG UPSETS -- OUR NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a solid first half-plus of our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald. Last week was peachy at 11-3 overall and OK at 7-7 against the spread. We hit on a mini-upset with Jets winning at Washington and had a pair of 'dogs-with-points in covers by Falcons and Cardinals. Now here are our Week 12 picks, including Dolphins at Browns, our Game of the Week and our Upset of the Week (which could be one and the same), and all the rest. Please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 12 Gems. Tonight's separate Colts-Texans Thursday night pick is linked above; also find it here.

PapidanLE BATARD'S BIG REVEAL ON PAPI'S ABSENCE, FUTURE ON 'HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE': "Where’s Papi?" The mystery is finally solved. Fans of the Miami-based ESPN TV show Highly Questionable have wondered for the past two weeks why regular Gonzalo "Papi" Le Batard, father of main host Dan Le Batard, has not been on. The reason had been unexplained, and in the void of information concerns arose that it might be a health issue. Dan heard the question and fans’ concerns more than anyone, so he finally addressed them. "My father is in good health, he’s just been punching a clock for 50 years and doesn’t want to necessarily be working every day," Le Batard told listeners midway through Thursday’s radio show. "He had a pretty hard time telling me he didn’t want to be working every day. There was a palpable sadness when I sat down in the chair and [for the first time] he wasn’t next to me." Papi has for now at least retired from HQ as a regular fixture but may still appear occasionally "when he wants to," Dan said. For the full story, visit Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery

JeterA BASEBALL HALL OF FAMER VOTER (ME) SOUNDS OFF: So I am proudly a Baseball Hall of Fame voter, and the 2020 ballot came out this week, and this happened Tuesday inside the ESPN studios on South Beach, where I was co-hosting the “Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz.” During a commercial break, I volunteered how funny it would be if I was the only elector nationwide to not vote for Derek Jeter as a first-ballot inductee. It was discussed how the ensuing controversy would be such perfect fodder for the radio show — underlined by the idea it would be a Miami Herald writer (one raised as a Red Sox fan!) besmirching the otherwise pristine ballot of the Yankees icon who now happens to be part-owner and CEO of the Miami Marlins. For the full column, please visit If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me!

GROWING DRAFT UNCERTAINTY MEANS DOLPHINS SHOULD HEDGE BET. WHY NOT KAEPERNICK? NEW COLUMN: The phrase "hedging one’s bets" is gambling parlance that has broadened to more general use. It means doing something to offset a potential future loss. The Miami Dolphins have cause to do that right now. And the opportunity is in front of them, as Colinkobvious as a neon sign blinking in a dimly lit barroom. You may have heard the name: Colin Kaepernick. Bear with me for a second. I know the very utterance of those five syllables is an anathema to many of you. Those many evidently include 32 NFL teams, considering Kaepernick has effectively been blackballed from making a living into a third year now over the anthem-kneeling protest he started in 2016. (You know by now that the protest is over social injustice. Right? That it has zero to do with any disrespect of the flag or the military or any of that other stuff his haters put forth. You know it, and the NFL knows it, and yet illogically -- stunningly -- his ban continues). The whole idea of the weekend's group audition (Kaepernick is pictured arriving) was silly anyway, considering Kaepernick has been a free agent available to anyone for the past 2 1/2 seasons. Any team could have flown him in for a tryout, a physical, an interview — whatever. Nobody did. Will anybody now sign him after Saturday's dog-and-pony show? Who knows. But I know of at least one team that should. Nobody needs a quality quarterback more than the Dolphins. And two factors — Cincinnati being 0-10 to Miami’s 2-8, and Tua Tagovailao’s hip surgery Monday throwing his once-vaunted draft status into some doubt — means the Fins might not be in a position to get their first-choice QB in next April’s draft. They might still, yes, but signing Kaepernick would be hedging that bet in a big way. It would be a safety net for Miami. I have been on the Kaep-to-Miami bandwagon before, but Tagovailoa’s latest serious injury coupled with the Bengals’ ongoing master class in How Properly to Tank torque up the urgency and need. "I’ve been ready. I’m staying ready. And I’ll continue to be ready," Kaepernick said Saturday. "The ball’s in their court." To read my full latest column, visit Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

Our most recent other columns: Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run. Also: The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / and Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 11: SOLID, STILL ALIVE, SITTIN' PRETTY: NFL picks -- Solid. We were 11-3 overall and a scrambling 7-7 against the spread last week. Love the first and will abide the second. Missed our Upset of the Week but hit on a mini-upset (Jets over Skins) and a pair of 'dogs with points ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Still alive. Greg's Lobos improved to 6-5 with a 95.8 to 71.7 win over ESPN news producer Jonathan Whyley. Got 21.5 from Randall Cobb to help survive off games by Patrick Mahomes and Mike Evans. With two weeks left we sit one spot out of the 8-team playoffs (on a tiebreaker). Must sweep the last two, or win one and pray ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Sittin' pretty. Lobos improved to 7-4 with a fortunate 105-104 win -- fortunate became my opponent had Melvin Gordon on Monday night, and Mel (thankfully) fell one point short. Got a nice 24 from Michael Gallup, a last-minute start. Won despite only 3 from Deshaun Watson. Have not hyte clinched but are looking really good for the 6-team playoffs. Go 'Bos!

Select other recent columns: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The 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

November 19, 2019

G10: Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 44.5% after 37-20 home loss to Buffalo; plus Kyle Busch wins Homestead. With new column; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), NFL Week 11 picks & more

1) It's MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 11 picks, what's missing from NASCAR finale at Homestead, are Dolphins failing at failing? & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksOur NFL Week 11 picks: Here are our Week 11 picks, including Bills at Dolphins, our Game of the Week (Texans-Ravens, a.k.a. Deshaun Watson vs. Lamar Jackson), upsets and all of the rest. To see them, visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 11 Gems.

BufmiaG10: BUFFALO 37, DOLPHINS 20: AND THERE GOES THE WINNING STREAK: Original post: These teams met last month with Buffs a 17-point favorite. Now the point spread is one-third of that. Shows you what two wins in a row (and five straight weeks of competitiveness) have done for the public’s estimation of the Dolphins. Granted, wins over the Jets and a Colts team without its starting quarterback ain't so great. Still, Miami is now seen as just regular-bad, not historically inept. Hey, progress! A capable Ryan Fitzpatrick and much-improved defense give Fins a chance now, including here, at 2-7, vs. 6-3 Buffalo with Miami a reasonable 5 1/2-point underdog. The bet line sank a full point as money ran toward Miami to cover. Bills tend to fizzle away from home, dropping 12 of past 16 roadies to teams with a losing record. Inaccurate Josh Allen and that offense don’t scare you much. Then again, the Williams have won four of past five in this rivalry, and bring the NFL’s No. 3-ranked defense for both fewest points and yards allowed. Miami will likely need to be turnover-free for a shot to win, but like Fins to cover in a defensive scrum. No, I do not think winning is the new normal for Miami in 2019. But, yes, tanking season has ended. It never existed for coach Brian Flores and his guys, who want to win and now believe they can — the 2020 draft be damned. Cote’s pick: BUF 21-17. See Week 11 Gems for all of our latest picks.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 44.5%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show a dip to 44.5 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 37-20 home loss to Buffalo Dsmputting  Miami’s season record at 2-8. In its 12th season, 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. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 6 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 18.3% following 59-10 loss vs. Baltimore.

G2: 24.6% following 43-0 loss vs. New England.

G3: 27.5% following 31-6 loss at Dallas.

G4: 35.3% following 30-10 loss vs. L.A. Chargers.

G5: 53.5% following 17-16 loss vs. Washington.

G6: 55.2% following 31-21 loss at Buffalo.

G7: 28.8% following 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

Next poll: Nov. 24 following game at Cleveland.

KbuschNASCAR'S GRAND FINALE AT HOMESTEAD: IT'S KYLE BUSCH!: My column from the track: Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run. Original post: NASCAR's Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway wraps up Sunday with the main race for the 2019 season title among the four contending finalists Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex. (I leave the "Jr." off the latter's name because we all know by now it isn't his Dad out there). Hamlin seeks his first season championship, while the other three all have won once and recently, since 2014. There is history in this year's race. It will be the 18th and final season that Homestead has the last race and crowns the champion each year. Homestead will continue to be a NASCAR track, but starting next season its race will be held in March on the race calendar. Sunday's Championship 4 is a really good one, yet NASCAR is missing something, which I explore in my latest column. To read, please visit The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs. Despite what I say is lacking the four contenders are all but dead-even in terms of betting odds via BetOnline, with Busch and Truex co-faves at +250 but Hamlin and Harvick in a virtual photo finish at +275. I'm more interested in who ya'll want to win. So I asked, on my Twitter feed. More than 800 race fans voted, and collectively said (your choice is pictured) you hope the one man who's never won it all wins it all:

The People's Choice a sentimental vote:

DENNY HAMLIN: 42%

Kevin Harvick: 23%

Martin Truex Jr.: 21%

Kyle Busch: 14%

Our other most recent columns: After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? and The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football. Also: Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Enjoy The Win, Miami. Here's Why Fins Still in Great Shape For Top Pick / After Mocking And Tank-Talk, Dolphins And Flores Deserved This Day / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / Do Not Waver, Dolphins. It Must Be Tua! / and Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday 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. NASCAR: Homestead crowns Kyle Busch NASCAR season champion: Will the People's Choice (see above) Denny Hamlin finally win a first NASCAR season championship today? Or will Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick or Martin Truex Jr. win a second? Someone would make history as Homestead-Miami Speedway hosted its final season-ending title race before moving to March starting next spring. And it was the driver you love to hate: Busch.

2. DOLPHINS: Streaking Fins (!) lose to visiting rival Buffalo: Suddenly an 0-7 team seen as tanking was a 2-7 team in jeopardy for not getting the quarterback it wants in the 2020 NFL Draft on account of unexpected success. And poor Dolfans weren't sure how to feel in truly weird-ass season. Well, normalcy returned Sunday in a 37-20 loss.

3. HEAT: Seriously, is Miami a top four seed or what?: The Heat aren't letting up at 9-3 (5-0 at home) after Saturday's win vs. New Orleans, showing early indications of making a run at a top-four East seed. Meanwhile Dion Waiters is serving a 10-game suspension for OD'ing on cannabis-laced gummy bears. No I did not make up that last sentence.

4. HURRICANES: UM prepares for Marlins Park game vs. FIU: The Canes and FIU both are off this week as they prep to play next Saturday night at neutral site Marlins Park. It will be only the schools' fourth meeting in football. UM is 3-0 and will be favored this time in the 18-21 point range. We all still recall the ugly brawl in 2007. So play nice, fellas!

5. COLIN KAEPERNICK: Relocated workout takes place for banned out of work QB: Colin Kaepernick has been effectively banned from the NFL since leading the anthem-kneel protest in 2016, but the NFL staged a workout for him Saturday. Or tried to. The NFL called him a no-show as Kaepernick staged a relocated tryout for eight teams near Atlanta. Hmm. What, like, until this, teams had no idea he was out there and available!?

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Tua dislocates hip, 'Bama falls from CFP top four: Tua Tagovailoa's dislocated hip not only ends his season for Alabama but jeopardizes his 2020 draft status for QB-shopping teams like Miami. Meantime, one Alabama bounced down to fifth in the latest College Football Playoff ranking -- now on the outside looking in since only the top four make it. The top three? No problem? But Georgia leapfrogging 'Bama? Breathalyzers for the CFP voters, please.

7. MYLES GARRETT: Browns star suspended for helmet swing: Cleveland's defensive star was suspended indefinitely -- at least through the reminder of this season -- for swinging a helmet at the head of helmet-less Steelers QB Mason Rudolph Monday night. Garrett is lucky. Dudes have been arrested on the street for a lot less violence.

8. INTER MIAMI: Inaugural opener set, roster takes shape: Major League Soccer announced expansion Inter Miami would play its inaugural home opener next March 14 vs. L.A. Galaxy in the new stadium at the old Lockhart site in Fort Lauderdale. Team has eight players entering Tuesday's expansion draft and hopes to sign its two high-profile "designated players" along with a head coach before the end of the year.

9. PANTHERS: Luongo back; Cats needs more from replacement: Retired goalie Roberto Luongo is back with club as a special adviser to the GM. Meanwhile, Florida is even at 10-10 despite his replacement, Sergio Bobrovsky, entering the weekend ranked 47th in goals-against average (3.57) and 48th in saves percentage (.880). Um, there are only 31 teams in the NHL. 

10. MLB: Baseball hands out the major hardware: MVPs Mike Trout of the Angels and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers and Cy Young winners Justin Verlander of the Astros and Jacob deGrom of the Mets led MLB's trophy's parade. Shut out of all the major individual honors and settling for the World Series trophy: the Washington Nationals.

Missing the HB10 cut: Colombia, minus James Rodriguez, beat Peru 1-0 Friday before 36K at Hard Rock Stadium. Soccer and Miami = true love ..... No.1 Kentucky men lost at home to Evansville in a a huge upset. If the same results happened in March Madness, Evansville would be on a Wheaties box and have a nun ..... His network fired Canadian hockey announcing legend Don Cherry for anti-immigrant comments, and (surprise!) many in the whitest sport on Earth rose to Cherry's defense ..... The cheatin' Houston Astros should be penalized heavily for their video espionage in sign stealing. That they at least lost the World Series is proof there is a God ..... Big time in men's tennis. ATP Finals end Sunday in the U.K., then starts the Davis Cup in Spain, where Rafael Nadal leads the favored host nation ..... Tiger Woods, in an Australian radio interview, hinted he is looking at playing senior golf. Asked if he'd play into his 50s, Tiger, 44 next month, said, "The golden carrot of getting out there when you’re 50 is you get a cart, right? So that would be nice" ..... No. 17 Canes women's basketball (2-0) hosts Quinnipiac Sunday ..... The Portland Trail Blazers signed the ghost of Carmelo Anthony ..... Update: Countdown now 2,408 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The 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

November 12, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 70.9% following 16-12 upset win at Indianapolis; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, NFL Week 10 picks, Le Batard Countdown Clock & more

Vetday1) It's MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11. It is Veterans Day. Thank you, all who have served! 2) Scroll to our previous blogpost for results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. They're a season high! 2) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes wallop Louisville with CSM postgame poll, our UM football column, Shula Bowl, LSU-'Bama, NFL Week 10 picks, Le Batard Countdown Clock & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Newest column: Canes football program's pedigree, quantified: A new ESPN list has the Hurricanes having played in 11 of the greatest 150 games in college football history -- including four of the top six. That is the bar set by five national championships. That is the mountain Manny Daz and the current Canes are trying to climb. We caught up with the player who kicked open the door to the dynasty. To read that full column, visit The Player Who Started the Glory Days for Canes Football.

G9: DOLPHINS AT INDIANAPOLIS: WILL RED-HOT MIAMI TAKE COLTS LIGHTLY? (JUST KIDDING!): Original post: The Dolphins surf a one-game winning streak into Indianapolis for Sunday's 4:05 kickoff, and I am concerned the cocky 1-7 Fins risk overconfidence against the 5-3 Colts. Actually I hope to live to see the day when Miami might be so good again as to have any such concerns. Back to Miaindreality: Imagine going on a long car trip with a constipated dog that won’t stop barking. OK, the Dolphins travel about as successfully as that. Miami has lost 10 consecutive away games and 15 of the past 16, and it looks like more road-kill on Sunday. The Colts, 10 1/2-point favorites, have treated Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement like a mere bump in the road, with Jacoby Brissett seeming likely to play despite spraining a knee last week. Even if not, Brian Hoyer is an experienced, seen-everything veteran in the Ryan Fitzpatrick mold. No matter who’s pitching for the Nags, Marlon Mack could put up big numbers vs. Fins’ generous run defense. Nevertheless, I like Miami getting double-digit points. After an embarrassing string of blowout losses to start the season, the Dolphins have been increasingly competitive the past month-plus culminating with last week’s handling of the Jets. And Indy doesn’t blow anybody out. The Colts’ eight games have been decided by 35 total points, with no margin greater than seven, or one score. If Fitzpatrick plays as well as he did last week and Miami’s D forces a couple of turnovers, I could even see an outright upset here. But let’s not go crazy. Settle for close. Cote’s pick: IND 27-18. Visit Week 10 Gems for all of our latest picks. And watch for the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll online soon after Sundays game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 70.9%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 70.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 16-12 victory at Indianapolis putting  DsmMiami’s season record at 2-7. In its 12th season, 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. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 11 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 18.3% following 59-10 loss vs. Baltimore.

G2: 24.6% following 43-0 loss vs. New England.

G3: 27.5% following 31-6 loss at Dallas.

G4: 35.3% following 30-10 loss vs. L.A. Chargers.

G5: 53.5% following 17-16 loss vs. Washington.

G6: 55.2% following 31-21 loss at Buffalo.

G7: 28.8% following 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

Next poll: Nov. 17 following game vs. Buffalo.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive weekend-into-Monday 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: UM rides Williams' arm past Louisville: Miami clobbered Louisville 52-27 Saturday at The Rock to get bowl-eligible at 6-4 -- with Jarren Williams scorching the Cardinals for a UM-record six touchdown passes. Canes have FIU next week at Marlins Park then close with Duke, a must-win for any shot at the ACC Coastal crown. The Georgia Tech loss still haunts, but UM will have shed that 0-2 start pretty nicely of it wins out.

2. DOLPHINS: Hot Fins (!) win at Indianapolis for second straight: The Dolphins are surfing a two-game winning streak with Sunday's 16-12 triumph at Indianapolis today, self esteem climbing while draft standing slips. Three teams now have worse records. Don't give up though. Long season. Lots of losing left to do.

3. HEAT: Waiters gummies drama clouds early season: Miami is 6-3 after losing at LeBron's Lakers Friday and is back in action vs. Detroit here Tuesday. But  it isn't the games fans are talking about. It's Dion Waiters needing medical attention on the recent road trip after reportedly ingesting THC-infused edible gummies and having a panic attack. Waiters faces team and/or league discipline. There is Heat Culture ... and then there's Dion.

4. NASCAR: Homestead's Championship Four is set!: Sunday's race in Phoenix determine the Championship Four drivers who will race for the NASCAR season title next Sunday at Homestead. Martin Truex and Kevin Harvick were already in, and Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin join them -- Hamlin pushing out Joey Logano. Vrooom.

5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: LSU, Minnesota top major weekend: No. 2 LSU's 46-41 thriller over No. 3 Alabama in Tuscaloosa and No. 17 Minnesota's 21-26 home upsets of No. 4 Penn State shook up the College Football Playoff picture on Saturday. As America enjoyed its favorite sight: Nick Saban, sad. And if that isn't enough upheaval, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, a likely top-five draft pick, was suspended indefinitely over suspected 2018 NCAA rules violations.  

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men drop opener, women win: UM men fell at home to No. 5-ranked Louisville to open the season before handling FAU Friday night to get to 1-1. Meanwhile the higher-regarded, No. 18-ranked Canes women opened at home Sunday with an 83-68 cruise past Jackson State.

7. PANTHERS: Cats win at Rangers: Florida were at the New York Rangers Sunday trying to shed a two-game losing streak, and did, 6-5. Joel Quenneville's guys are now 8-9 around the season's one-fifth mark, once again lolling around the far edge of playoff contention and looking for a run.

8. SOCCER: Seattle wins MLS Cup!: It was Toronto at Seattle Sunday for the Major League Soccer (MLS Cup) championship, and a record crowd of 69,274 left happy with a 3-1 Sounders win for Seattle's second title in four years. We expect you in that game in one year, Inter Miami. No pressure.

9. MLB: Free agency on, GM meetings next: Nationals just won the Series, but baseball ain't done. Free agency is underway, and the GM meetings are Nov. 11-14. If your team is a spender, be excited. If you're a Marlins fan, chill out.

10. UFC: Loss sending Diaz into retirement?: Days after losing to Miami's Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz hinted in an Instagram post that he may be done fighting. Those who believe he actually is could meet in a Waffle House booth and have plenty of elbow room.  

Missing the HB10 cut: Forget the tree falling in the forest. If the Chargers moved to London, would anybody miss them? ..... Update: Countdown now 2,415 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

PicksDOLPHINS-COLTS, GAME OF THE WEEK, BIG UPSETS: OUR NFL WEEK 10 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a solid first half of our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, including an 11-3 mark straight-up last week and 8-5-1 against the spread (led by Dolphins over Jets in our Upset of the Week; "Aawwk!"). Now here are our Week 10 picks, including Dolphins at Colts, Game of the Week (Seahawks-49ers), two sizable upsets and the rest. Please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 10 Gems. Our week got off to a losing start Thursday. Already past it. Let's rally!

LE BATARD RETURNS TO AIR COUNTDOWN CLOCK: Because I think it has the potential to at least mildly annoy Dan (always a noble goal), we present our "Le Batard Returns To Air!" countdown clock. After an extended absence Dan is to finally rejoin the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio this coming Monday, Nov. 11, at 10 a.m. Here's the time remaining until the national appetite is sated by the long-awaited return of Dan's dulcet tones:

Our other most recent work: Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint and Enjoy The Win, Miami. Here's Why Fins Still in Great Shape For Top Pick. Also: After Mocking And Tank-Talk, Dolphins And Flores Deserved This Day / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / Do Not Waver, Dolphins. It Must Be Tua! / and Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal.

Other select recent columns: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The 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

November 04, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.4% after 26-18 defeat of Stinkin' Jets; plus latest Hot Button Top 10; also, Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 91.8% after UM beats FSU, Dawgs top Gators, details on Le Batard's return, NFL Week 9 picks & more

1) It's MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4. Happy new month, all! 2) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 9 picks, Dolphins/Tua and Tim Donaghy columns & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

My column on Dolphins' win over Jets: Go to After Mocking And Tank-Talk, Dolphins And Flores Deserved This Day for my column from the stadium on Sunday's Miami win.

PicksOur complete NFL Week 9 picks: We went a perfect 15-0 straight-up last week. Can we approach that again? Will the still-winless Dolphins win at home vs. the equally bad Stinkin' Jets and be one of our three upset picks? Answers to that and more, here: NFL Week 9 Gems.

MianyjG8: STINKIN' JETS AT DOLPHINS: UPSET! FINS WIN, FINS WIN! OMG!! (AND I CALLED IT...): Go to After Mocking And Tank-Talk, Dolphins And Flores Deserved This Day for my column from game. Original post: We can all agree, I hope, that the Dolphins have risen from being historically embarrassing in the first few games to being merely regular-bad lately. We can also agree, I hope, that the Stinkin’ Jets are hardly any better, and that Adam Gase looks about as happy as an inmate whose final stay of execution has just been denied by the governor. There is negligible difference between the 0-7 Fins and 1-6 Jets -- not enough for NYJ to be a 3-point road favorite. Overshadowing this matchup, of course: The jockeying for the overall No. 1 draft pick, as the winless, bye-week Bengals watch keenly. Why the upset pick? 1) Sam Darnold (who sees ghosts, by the way) has seven interceptions in the past two games. Darnold bad is worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick bad. 2) Fins players and coaches are beyond-tired of the accusation they are intentionally trying to lose games. The franchise is tanking; the lockerroom is not. That is an important distinction. It gives Miami the greater incentive here, in addition to the home field. Am I nervous about the pick? Oh hell yeah. I just picked Miami to win! Let's see. Cote’s pick: MIA 24-21. Vote in the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll directly below.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: 76.4%: Results are certified in  the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 76.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- a season high -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 26-18 home victory over the New York Jets Dsmputting Miami’s season record at 1-7. In its 12th season, 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. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 1 p.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 18.3% following 59-10 loss vs. Baltimore.

G2: 24.6% following 43-0 loss vs. New England.

G3: 27.5% following 31-6 loss at Dallas.

G4: 35.3% following 30-10 loss vs. L.A. Chargers.

G5: 53.5% following 17-16 loss vs. Washington.

G6: 55.2% following 31-21 loss at Buffalo.

G7: 28.8% following 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

Next poll: Nov. 10 following game at Indianapolis.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive weekend-into-Monday 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: Miami with nifty win over 'Noles in Tally: Florida State was favored at home in the battle of two once-proud rivals both coming in 4-4, but it was Miami going home with the big 27-10 win -- and renewed hope. At 5-4 off two straight wins UM is now looking good for a bowl game and still has an outside shot at the ACC Coastal title. Canes must win out vs. Louisville and FIU and at Duke.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins win! Fins win!, beat Stinkin' Jets: I tell ya, Sunday's matchup in Miami had everything ... but a good team in it. The 1-6 Jets at 0-7 Dolphins with the overall No. 1 draft pick among the possible stakes ... what could be worse? Actually, it was a pretty compelling game. Ryan Fitzpatrick was great and the Dolphins (finally) won, 26-18.

3. HEAT: Miami swamps Houston in big early test: Miami is an impressive 5-1 early this season after Sunday measuring-stick triumph here over Houston, 1290-100 led by a surreal 46-14 first quarter. James Harden and Russell Westbrook were only 9-for-25 between them. Can the Heat really be this good?

4. MLB: Nationals top Astros in World Series: Had to feel good about Washington celebrating its first MLB title since 1924. Well, unless you're a Houston fan. But seven games and the home team didn't win a single one. Had never been done before. In any sport. Weird Series is more like it. 

5. UM BASKETBALL: Opening Week! Canes men host mighty Louisville: So much for soft openings. Jim Larranaga's unranked UM men's team opens by hosting No. 5 Louisville Tuesday night. Can they shock the world? More is expected from Katie Meier's No. 18-ranked Canes women, who open at home next Sunday vs. Jackson State.    

6. PANTHERS: Hot Cats rounding into form: With last night's 4-0 home win over Detroit, Florida has now shed a rough 1-4 start to go level at 7-7 in this still-young NHL season. Cats can score, but now new goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky are tightening up on defense. Good signs.

7. UFC: Masvidal bloodies, beats Diaz: Miami's Jorge Masvidal bloodied and beat Nate Diaz in UFC 244 last night at Madison Square Garden, with a doctor stopping the fight in the third round. Masvidal later partied with The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. Hopefully, Stugotz crashed the party. Oh, and Donald Trump attended and got loudly booed. Or, did that go without saying?

8. NBA: Reeling Warriors lose Curry: Golden State is 1-5 and now Steph Curry will be lost at least three months with a broken hand. if you didn't think the Warriors' dynasty was done, you sure as hell do now. Call 'em the Golden State Worriers.

9. SOCCER: It's Seattle-Toronto for MLS title: Seattle hosts Toronto next Sunday in a sold-out Major League Soccer Cup championship final. No Cinderellas here. Seattle won the league title in 2016 and Toronto in '17. A year from now ... Inter Miami?

10. HORSE RACING: More tragedy at Santa Anita as Breeders' Cup runs: Vino Rosso won the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Saturday at Santa Anita, but tragedy struck as Mongolian Groom injured a hind leg and later was euthanized. It was the 37th horse death at Santa Anita Park since last December. Am I sending my horse to that place? Oh hell naw!

Missing the HB10 cut: World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg opted out of his deal with Nationals and will be a free agent. Teams needing an ace with tons of money, start your bidding! ..... Tiger Woods won a record-tying 82nd PGA Tour event last week, a reminder that all anybody cares about with him is major wins, not "regular" titles ..... South Africa stunned England to win the Rugby World Cup as America mostly yawned ..... Only two more races starting today at Texas before NASCAR's Nov. 17 championship finale at Homestead ..... Thousands more will unnecessarily run 26.2 miles when the New York City Marathon goes off Sunday ..... Update: Countdown now 2,422 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

MiafsuG9: HURRICANES 27, @FLORIDA STATE 10: TWO OLD RIVALS MEET AGAIN -- BOTH TRYING TO GET BACK TO GREAT: Jarren  Williams and defense were great in Saturday's 27-10 Miami win in Tally, and I got the upset pick right! Original post: There were plenty of years when Canes-Noles was a national game of the week with championship implications. But that was plenty of years ago. Now, Saturday's Miami at Florida State meeting at 3:30 p.m. is just a pair of .500 teams trying to rediscover the mojo and get back to where they once were. "I think we’re both kind of waiting for that kick-start to get things going," as Miami coach Manny Diaz put it. Still, "It’s one of those games that you come to Miami to play in, to coach in," Diaz said. "It’s a legacy game." Both old rivals are 4-4, with FSU 3-3 in ACC play and UM 2-3. The Seminoles are stuck in their division behind Clemson. At least if UM wins it still has a shot at the division title in the weaker Coastal, if it wins out and gets some help/luck. FSU was favored by as many as 5 points but that whittled down to 3 as money poured in on Miami. Noles have won their past four home games but Miami has won past two in this rivalry including 28-27 last year at Hard Rock after the Canes trailed 20-7 at the half. These teams' past five meetings all have been decided by 5 points or fewer, so the safest bet is a close game. FSU is better on offense although that draws closer with Jarren Williams back starting at QB for Miami (as he should) and RB DeeJay Dallas expected back from injury. The difference for me is that Miami clearly is better on defense. I do not trust the Seminoles without the ball. Cote's pick: Upset! Hurricanes, 27-23. See latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll results below.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 91.8%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 91.8% approval, the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes  -- a season high -- in the wake of Saturday's 27-10 Hurricanes victory at Florida State putting the Hurricanes' season record at 5-4 overall and 3-3 in ACC conference play. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program’s direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the weekly verdict, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 64.1% following 24-20 loss vs. Florida in Orlando.

G2: 15.7% following 28-25 loss at North Carolina.

G3: 83.0% following 63-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman.

G4: 8.5% following 17-12 victory vs. Central Michigan.

G5: 28.8% following 42-35 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

G6: 82.0% following 17-9 victory vs. Virginia.

G7: 11.3% following 28-21 OT loss vs. Georgia Tech.

G8: 61.0% following 16-12 victory at Pitt.

G9: 91.8% following 27-10 victory at Florida State.

Next poll: Nov. 9 following game vs. Louisville.

Other state FBS games (all Saturday):

FlagaNo. 8 Georgia 24, No. 6 Florida 17: A Cocktail Party worth attending: Original post: Annual neutral-site game in Jacksonville kicks at 3:30 Saturday with, well, everything in play. This is for the SEC East lead, and the winner only also maintains at least a prayer of a shot at the College Football Playoff. It's the Game of the Week in collball. Gators 7-1 to Dawgs' 6-1 but Georgia is a 5 1/2-point favorite. I get that. See UGA with slightly more offensive pop and every bit as good defensively. Cote's pick: Georgia 23-20.  

Also: UCF beat Houston 44-29, FIU beat Old Dominion 24-17, and FAU beat Western Kentucky 35-24. South Florida was off this week.

DanlLE BATARD'S RETURN TO AIR, NEW 'MAS MIAMI.' DETAILS HEREFans who have missed Dan Le Batard during his extended on-air absence from ESPN have gotten some welcome news — on two fronts. The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz announced Friday that Dan would return to the show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews on Nov. 11, a week from Monday. The Miami-based show emanates from ESPN studios on South Beach. Le Batard also is to return to his ESPN television show, Highly Questionable, that day, the network confirmed Friday. Le Batard has been off the air for several weeks, first for a long-planned pre-wedding honeymoon and more recently to attend to what the show called "personal matters." Both shows have continued with various guest hosts in his absence. Also Friday, details on Le Batard’s latest "Mas Miami" event were revealed. It is set for Saturday, Dec. 14 at Wynwood Factory, a nightclub at 55 Northeast 24th Street in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami. Tickets to the event are $25 and available at MasLeBatard.com. For the full story: Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event.

Our two most recent columns: Do Not Waver, Dolphins. It Must Be Tua! and Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal

Other select recent columns: Heat's Opener Stars Butler As Missing Person, Winslow As Rising Star / Heat 'Tighten the Screws,' And Dion Waiters Is the Lesson, As New Season Begins / Diaz Playing 'Rebuild' Card As Weak as Canes' Effort in Loss to Ga-Tech / LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice / Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The 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.

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Twitter @gregcote