October 01, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 35.3% following 30-10 home loss to Chargers; latest new Hot Button Top 10. See who's No. 1 and what else lands where; also, Riley introduces Butler 'cause the Heat don't tank, NFL Week 4 pick & more

1) It's MONDAY SEPTEMBER 30. Visit Herald Week 3 NFL QB Rankings if you missed our updated standings entering this week. 2) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 4 picks, HistoryMiami Museum gives Dolfans escape to glory days, why Fins are still better-positioned than Canes for turnaround, NFL Week 3 Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

LacmiaG4: L.A. CHARGERS 30, DOLPHINS 10: WELL, A LITTLE BETTER, AT LEAST: Visit Winless But Progress Is Perfect Combo For Dolphins for my column from Sunday's game. Original post: Fins are 15-point home underdogs for Sunday's 1 p.m. kickoff at The Rock, which, compared to the two previous games, is a nail-biter! I wrote last week that I was done with the Dolphins as the bandwagon — driverless, passenger-free and in flames — careened over a cliff. Well, I’m back on the Fins in NFL Week 4. To win? LOL, don’t be silly! But I do believe they’ll at least manage to cover the point spread at home. Why? Philip Rivers is prone to the occasional INT, and my chips are on Xavien Howard doing a reasonable job on Keenan Allen. Plus still no Melvin Gordon for LAC, although the RB ended his holdout Thursday. More than that, the poor Miami offense catches a lil’ break, at last. After facing the monstrous D’s of the Ravens, Patriots and Cowboys the first three games, the Fins see an average unit in the Bolts, whose vaunted pass rush has even been ordinary thus far. Could be offensive fireworks from Josh Rosen and Miami. By which I mean two touchdowns. Maybe. After being outscored 133-16 — the minus-117 the biggest point differential in the NFL through three games since 1950 — Sunday might feel almost like a victory for Dolfans. Hey, I said almost. Cote's pick: Chargers, 31-17. (Visit Week 4 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 35.3%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and Dsmthey show 35.3 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon’s 30-10 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers putting Miami’s season record at 0-4. This is a new season high as Tank For Tua fans weigh in. 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 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. Visit DSM: Dolphins-Chargers for complete results.

Next poll: Oct. 13 following game vs. Washington (after bye)

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday/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. DOLPHINS: Fins, still seeking escape from embarrassment, fall to Chargers: The tanking Dolphins had lost their first three games by (in order) 49, 43 and 25 points, before Sunday's 20-point home loss (30-10) to the Chargers. I call that progress! Hey, trying to accentuate the positive here. It ain't easy. Work with me.

2. BASEBALL: Let the World Series tournament begin!: MLB regular season wrapped Sunday and the two wild-card games are Tuesday and Wednesday. Then the real postseason begins. The four clear betting favorites for the World Series title, in order, are the Astros, Dodgers, Yankees and Braves. My defending champion Red Sox didn't make it and the Marlins finished 873 games back, but we're going to bravely feign interest in the postseason anyway.

3. PANTHERS: Drop that puck. It's Opening Week for Cats!: Florida began the preseason 0-4 but rallied to win three of eight games. Now Panthers open their 26th NHL season this Thursday at Tampa Bay, with the first home game Saturday, also against the Lightning. There is a fresh-start feel led by new coach Joel Quenneville and new goalie Sergie Bobrovsky -- both big stars. No excuses left, Cats. Playoffs or bust.

4. MARLINS: Fish are done (thank you, Lord); Mattingly isn't: Miami finished 57-105 by winning Sunday's season finale in Philadelphia. So it's over for the Fish, but not for manager Don Mattingly, given a two-extension. Upside? At least the young, rebuilding Marlins avoided the club-record 108-loss season set by the Fire-Sale Fish of 1998. In other depressing Marlins news, this week marked the third-anniversary of the tragic death of Jose Fernandez.

5. HEAT: Training camp on deck for new-look, post-Wade Heat: Heat media day was Monday, now comes a five-day training camp Tuesday through Saturday in West Palm Beach, then the preseason begins Oct. 8 vs. San Antonio. Gone: Retired Dwyane Wade. Arrived: New star Jimmy Butler. Expectations: Playoffs. Not  much more than that. No title talk. No East takeover. Just ... playoffs, please.

6. INTER MIAMI: Ouch. Shade from reported top coach candidate: Reports persist that Manchester City star will join Inter Miami after the English Premier League season to become David Beckham's first marquee player. But former Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari, speculated frontrunner to be Inter's new coach, told BBC News: "I would like to coach in Europe, in a serious project in one of the big leagues." Ouch. Shade.

7. HURRICANES: UM licks wounds, preps for ACC in off week: The Canes barely beat little Central Michigan 17-12 at home and the NCAA punished Miami by not letting it play this week. OK, not really. This was a scheduled bye week for UM. And well-timed, as 2-2 Miami girds for its chunk of ACC games starting next Saturday vs. Virginia Tech. If we keep seeing the same Canes who struggled to  survive the Chippewas, this could be a long season in the Gables.

8. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Will Clemson drop from top after near-loss?: No top-10 team lost this week, but No. 1-ranked Clemson barely survived at North Carolina, 21-20, thanks to a failed Tar Heels two-point conversion in the closing seconds. Will the Tigers now fall behind No. 2 Alabama in the next rankings? In my vote (if I had one): Yes. And AP voters agreed.

9. STATE COLLEGES (NON-UM): Gators play patsy, FIU licks wounds:  No. 9-ranked Florida Gators had a virtual bye week in hosting Towson on Saturday, winning 38-0. In other state FBS action, FSU handled North Carolina State 31-13 in another relieving win for beleaguered Willie Taggert, No. 22 UCF got back on track 56-21 over visiting UConn, FAU won at Charlotte 45-27, South Florida got crushed at home 48-21 by SMU, and 1-3 FIU was idle.

10. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NCAA drops hammer on Kansas, Self: With college hoops season only about five weeks away, an NCAA/FBI investigation has storied program Kansas and Hall of Fame coach Bill Self in the crosshairs. Kansas is accused of substantial cheating and lack of institutional oversight, charges Self is mostly denying. Sorry, Jayhawks but this can't end well. Self said the controversy would be "no distraction." Everybody else said, "Hahahahahahahaha!"

Missing the HB10 cut: The Connecticut Sun and heavily favored Washington Mystics begin a best-of-five WNBA Finals today/Sunday. Why is Washington heavily favored? Because it has Elena Delle Donne, league MVP and perhaps the only WNBA player I can name. Unless Sue Bird is still playing ..... The Rugby World Cup is underway, and host Japan stunned Ireland, which in rugby is a gargantuan upset. If Japan wins it all, I'll swim and hitchhike to Tokyo ..... Update: Countdown now 2,457 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

ButlerRILEY INTRODUCES BUTLER -- 'CAUSE THE HEAT DON'T TANK: Welcome back to winning, South Florida. Or — and this is important — trying to win, at least. Welcome back to the idea of relentless competitiveness, and a sports franchise that bitterly regards the strategy of tanking as an insult, an anathema. Welcome back, Miami Heat. Your return is well-timed. It arrives as an antidote. As salve for what hurts us. Heat season unfurled ceremonially on Friday as club president Pat Riley and new star Jimmy Butler met with the media. Training camp is next week, the preseason begins Oct. 8 and the real NBA games start Oct. 23. This is the one Miami pro team that expects to make the playoffs every season and is plainly embarrassed not to. That’s something very different for us at the moment. Riley did not mention the tanking Dolphins or Marlins, but the message was clear as he said Friday: "The one thing I owe the franchise and the city is to put the most competitive team on the court that I can,” he said. “Having a Jimmy Butler here is a step in that direction for real." For my full latest column, please visit Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank.

PicksOUR NFL WEEK 4 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season and a hot Week 3 in our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, here are our latest selections. Will the Dolphins finally cover a point spread by staying (reasonably) close against the Chargers on Sunday? Find out that, our Game of the Week, our upset picks and all the rest by visiting Week 4 Gems now. Beginning this week subscribers get an early look at our picks, ahead of non-subscribers, so sign in or sign up! Tough start to our week         when Green Bay's defense majorly let us down Thursday night. Sally forth!

Also from this week: Dolfans, Here Is Your Escape To The Glory Days (on HistoryMiami Museum's new massive Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit) and Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than CanesOther most recent columns: 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 / and It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy.

UfiuCANES, FIU TAKE WEEK OFF TO LICK WOUNDS: Miami Hurricanes and FIU Panthers both are off this weekend, and for each the break seems well-timed. UM is 2-2 after a thoroughly unimpressive 17-12 home win over smaller-school Central Michigan, while Butch Davis' FIU has started 1-3. At least better days are ahead in the short term. Canes resume their ACC schedule Oct. 5 at 3:30 at home vs. Virginia Tech. Hokies are 2-1 but down. Miami beat VT 38-14 last year and figure as around a three-touchdown favorite again. FIU hosts a winless Massachusetts next Saturday at 7 p.m. and should be around a four-TD pick. State FBS games this Saturday: FAU at Charlotte, 3:30; Towson at No. 9-Florida, 4; SMU at South Florida, 4; UConn at No. 22-UCF, 7; and North Carolina State at Florida State, 7:30.

Other select recent columns: Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / 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 / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / 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 / and 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

May 20, 2019

Why Dolphins should start Rosen -- no matter what. Latest column; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Zion/lottery column, Game Of Thrones finale, Le Batard Show in New York & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MAY 20. Happy birthday, Christopher, our eldest son! Proud of you, kid. 2) Game Of Thrones! I'll put off my full commentary on the series finale until later in week, rather than do the spoiler-alert thing. For now: The negative reaction is more predictable than warranted. You want the perfect ending? Write your own damned show! 3) It's always football season, so it's always the right time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat luckless in NBA Draft lottery, ESPN's mock-guess for Heat at 13th, Back In My Day link, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

LebnyLe Batard Show in New York: We spent the past weekend Big Apple-ing as part of the Le Batard & Friends live, sold-out Saturday night stage event at the Gramercy Theatre, which I was honored to be a part of. What a blast! The Le Batard show has a loyal following nationwide, and those fans are fiercely into it, as we saw again Saturday. So nice to meet so many of you in the post-show meet and greet!

JrosenWhy Dolphins should start Rosen over Fitzpatrick: In Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen and third guy Jake Rudock the Dolphins have the smartest quarterback room in the NFL. But club's decision on who to start is a no-brainer. Forget "open competition" and may-the-best-man-win. There is every reason to start Rosen. To read why in my newest column please visit Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen.

Other most recent columns: Zion Williamson's Power to Reject the Lottery / Dreaming Of a Heat Lottery Night Miracle / All The Ways Dolphins Are Finally Headed Right / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Brady Is As Brady As Ever / Marlins Losing Big Now, But A Future Is Emerging / Welcome to the New America, Lexi Thompson.

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

Hotbutton1. NBA: New Orleans wins lottery, Zion as Knicks crap out: Pelicans surprisingly won the draft lottery, vaulting to No. 1 and the right to grand prize Zion Williamson in the June NBA Draft, although Zion has until June 10 to try to force a trade to a preferred team. Meanwhile New York, hoping for Zion after a league-worst season, settled for the third pick as a legion of disappointed Knicks fans wept to the sheer delight of the rest of America.

2. DOLPHINS: The Beard takes early lead in offseason QB race: As periodic OTA practice days continue building toward the mandatory Dolphins minicamp June 4-6, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick & His Fabulous Beard by acclimation have the early lead over young gun Josh Rosen in the ballyhooed quarterback competition. Of course it would be dumb for anybody but Rosen to end up starting. Someone please advise coach Brian Flores as such.

3. NBA: Golden State seeks sweep, Milwaukee leads in conference finals: Defending champion Golden State leads Portland 3-0 in the West finals entering Monday's sweep-seeking Game 4 in Oregon, while top overall seed Milwaukee leads in the East finals 2-1 over Toronto after Raptors' double-OT win Sunday, with Game 4 Tuesday. Scary: The Warriors are playing, and winning, without Kevin Durant.

4. HEAT: Miami's miserable lack of lottery luck continues: Heat stayed stuck with the 13th overall pick in next month's draft, once again failing to get lucky in the draft lottery. In eleven lotteries Miami has stood pat five times, moved down six times and moved up not at all. Ever. #IHatePingPongBalls

5. GOLF: Koepka wins PGA Championship after Tiger misses cut: Tiger Woods was betting favorite after last month's unexpected Masters win, but started badly Thursday at Bethpage in New York and missed the cut, while Brooks Koepka enjoyed the early lead with a scorching 63 and held on to win. Love the lurching storyline on Tiger. Post-Masters: He's baaaccckkk! Today: Should we worry about Tiger?

6. MARLINS: Fish sweep! Fish sweep Fish sweep!: Miami is still an MLB-worst 13-31 but won a season-high third straight game Sunday at home to sweep the Mets. Miami has lost seven straight prior to the sweep. Now it's seven straight on the road at Detroit and Washington starting Tuesday.

7. SOCCER: Watford gets clobbered in FA Cup final: Upstart Watford faced mighty Manchester City Saturday in the FA Cup final -- Watford after its first crown in its first final since 1984. Alas, it was a 6-nil rout by Man City. Meanwhile Liverpool and Tottenham are girding for June 1 Champions League final, marking first all-England final since Man U-Chelsea in 2008.

8. NHL: Boston sweeps, St. Louis leads: Boston swept Carolina in four straight games to win the East and head to the Stanley Cup Finals. Bruins now wait for St. Louis (up 3-2 after Sunday's 5-0 win) or San Jose to get out of the West, with Game 6 on Tuesday. Thank the ice gods for Boston, the only "name" franchise in a low-watt final four shy on superstars.

9. HORSE RACING: War Of Will wins Preakness Stakes: Saturday's Preakness, for the first time since 1951, found the second leg of the Triple Crown series without any of the top four horses to cross the finish line in the Kentucky Derby. Improbable went off as 5-2 fave to earn Bob Baffert's record eighth Preakness win, but it was second-favorite War Of Will across the wire first. Meanwhile Maximum Security's owners are suing over the DQ that erased their Derby win. Dark days for the Sport of Kings.

10. UM BASEBALL: Solid regular season ending, now its on to ACCs: Canes finished a solid 38-17 regular season, ranked 17th nationally in Gino DiMare's first season, and now begin play in the ACC Tournament Thursday and Friday vs. Virginia and North Carolina in Durham. Then it's the NCAA Regional ... and then Omaha ... maybe?

Missing the HB10 cut: Bulletin: NCAA weighs entering 21st Century! They're talking about maybe compensating athletes for use of their names and likenesses. Sounds like it'll be stuck in committee for the next 16 years ..... The good luck Cats? The four Panthers playing in the IIHF men's ice hockey world championships going on in Slovakia -- their teams won 14 of their first 16 games ..... A judge excluded that incriminating police-sting video from Robert Kraft's solicitation trial. For Bob, the happy endings keep comin' ..... Women's World Cup getting close. It'll be good to see the U.S. women, coached by Miamian Jill Ellis, do what the American men never do. Contend! ..... I trust the rest of Lockhart Stadium demoliton is going better for Inter Miami than the lame photo-op that began it? ..... WNBA opens its 23rd season later this week. Dare you to name the reigning champion or MVP ..... Update: Countdown now 2,590 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 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

April 15, 2019

Mount GOATmore: Marino vs. Riley vs. Shula vs. Wade. Who has accomplished and meant the most to South Florida sports? Shockingly close. And last day to vote!; plus new Hot Button Top 10, my D.Wade trilogy, Tiger's triumph & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 15. We're back from a long weekend with friends in Chicago. Missed the finale-season premiere of Game Of Thrones. Will watch it tonight. Can't wait! 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane Wade's final Heat home game, your next-Dolphins-QB verdict, our NCAA bracket sticks landing & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

ThanksdwOUR TRILOGY OF DWYANE WADE WEEK COLUMNS: The latest -- The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is Bereft. Exploring what's next, who's next, in the tremendous void left by Dwyane Wade's Miami Heat retirement. From his final home game -- Wade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star. How No. 3, the Heat, fans and this community stuck the landing on an emotional night of gratitude. And the first -- Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. Unabashedly, a tribute column for the retiring generational star who meant so much to a city and to basketball.

Other most recent columns: Panthers' new coach, Dolphins next QB: In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula and Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB.

MIAMI'S MOUNT GOATMORE: WHO'S ON TOP? CLOSE. LAST DAY TO VOTE!: I declare the all-time Mount Rushmore of Miami professional team-sports figures Goatis pretty clear. The four men etched in stone, alphabetically, are Dan Marino, Pat Riley, Don Shula and Dwyane Wade. But who's the greatest of our four G.O.A.T.s? Who has accomplished the most and meant the most to South Florida fans? I know it's a tough ask because you (probably) love/admire all four. But life is full of difficult decisions, right? I know timing is everything n a poll, and the timing of this one unquestionably and probably unfairly favors Wade. Still, the other three are of such an historic stature their names speak for themselves, and stand up to time and timing. So. Four Miami pro team-sport G.O.A.T.s, but only one can be the G.O.A.T.iest of them all. Who is it? Your call. Very close vote when last I checked. We'll close the poll and announce the winner very early tomorrow morning, so today and tonight really are your last chance to vote. So vote now!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUTOur blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, early this week, 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: An era ends. With no playoffs, Wade's epic career is over: The G.O.A.T. has left the building. Heat eliminated from playoff contention last Tuesday night at home means no Wade encore. Wednesday at Brooklyn ended the season, and now No. 3 is officially retired. But not before a fitting sendoff by Miami fans in a love-in of a final home game, with Wade's 30-point night the exclamation point. (See links to our Wade Week trilogy above).

2. GOLF: Tiger masters Masters to end majors drought: The Masters was Thursday though Sunday at Augusta, and most of eyeballs were on Tiger Woods to see if he can win his fifth green jacket but first in 14 years. And he did! The power of this man? At age 43 and 11 years removed from his last major win of any kind, we still care. A lot. Sunday proved it.

3. MARLINS: Flailing Fish looking for home bump: Miami is 4-12, tied for worst record in bigs, in midst of  nine-game homestand that continues tonight at with Cubs visiting. Lots of Cubbie fans in SoFla, so, who  knows? Maybe Marlins Park will actually be almost sort of fillled!?

4. NBA: Playoffs, a.k.a Golden State Coronation, are undereway: First-round NBA playoffs are underway and one game in, with three better-seeded teams -- Raptors, 76ers and Nuggets-- also losing the series opener. The postseason's overarching question: Can anyone in the West -- or in the league -- keep Golden State from a third straight championship and fourth in five years?

5. DOLPHINS: Fins pad roster as draft nears: Ten-day countdown, people. NFL Draft April 25-27 is getting close, with Miami holding 13th overall pick and no real idea what they'll target first to fill one of their many, many needs. Meanwhile Fins just signed seven players from the folded Alliance of American Football. Um, is that a good thing?

6. PANTHERS: New coach Quenneville's first draft is set: Lottery results last week determined Florida would select 13th overall in first round of the June 21-22 NHL Draft in Vancouver, the first under newly introduced Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, a three-time Stanley Cup champ as a head coach. Cats have hit big with recent top-15 picks like Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad.

7. MARCH MADNESS: They're still celebrating in Charlottesville: Virginia is still euphoric over the recent win over Texas Tech for the NCAA men's championship. (Me, too, since I had Cavaliers winning it all in my bracket). One disappointment? Just found out Virginia coach Tony Bennett is some other guy and not the 92-year-old crooner.

8. NHL: Stunner! Tampa Bay on brink on first round: First-round NHL playoffs are well underway, and the big question was: After Tampa Bay's 62-win, 128-point, plus-103 goals differential mega-season led the league, by a lot, could anybody stop the Lightning from raising the Stanley Cup? Answer: Yeah, Columbus in the first round, apparently. Blue Jackets up 3-0 and can sweep at home Tuesday night. 

9. MAGIC JOHNSON: Lakers' president abruptly resigns: Once an all-time great player, Magic has since failed pretty miserably as a broadcaster, a coach and now as a club executive. The good news? There has to be some way to blame LeBron James for this, no?

10. HURRICANES: UM set to wrap up spring football work: Remaining Canes spring football workdays include an open scrimmage April 20 to conclude offseason work at the old Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Mid-April, and Manny Diaz still is unbeaten as UM head coach!

Missing the HB10 cut: The 123rd Boston Marathon hit the streets Monday. No idea who'd be the men's women's champion, but it's always a good bet if your money was on "Somebody From Kenya." (P.s., a Kenyan guy won) ..... A citation was issued against a man accused of flashing a laser at Patriots QB Tom Brady during the past AFC Championship Game. I vehemently deny the charges ..... A woman is suing the Astros for $1 million because her finger was injured by a T-shirt cannon. Must be a Goldfinger ..... Saturday is Record Store Day. Go to your local indie shop and buy some wax, Jack! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,624 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / 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

April 10, 2019

Miami's G.O.A.T. says goodbye: Dwyane Wade and Heat fans forge a memorable farewell. My column from No. 3's final home game; plus Florida Panthers land whale-coach, your next-QB verdict for Dolphins, my NCAA bracket finish & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10. Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Heat Playoff Watch, Dolphins' next-QB poll, NFL Betting over/unders, your NCAA Final Four verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeDWYANE WADE DAY IN MIAMI AS HEAT FANS AND NO. 3 DO IT RIGHT IN HIS FINAL HOME GAME: Heat beat Philadelphia Tuesday night but also were eliminated from playoff contention when Detroit won. No matter. The night was not about the 8th seed. It was about celebrating Dwyane Wade's career in his final home game ever. His NBA career ends tonight at Brooklyn, but it was last night that forged a memory to last a lifetime for Heat fans. Visit Wade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star for my column from his emotional home finale. Visit Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T for my earlier tribute column.

Our other most recent columns: Panthers' new coach, Dolphins next QB: From yesterday's introduction of the new coach in town: In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula. Also, Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB.

POLL RESULT: YOU LIKE DREW LOCK FOR FINS: We asked, "Who would you bet is most likely to be the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback in 2020?" We offered seven realistic possibilities -- six from the 2019 draft, six from from 2020, and one by trade. Your results: Missouri's Drew Lock in 2019 at 26.09 percent, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa in 2020 at 17.39%, Oregon's Justin Herbert in 2020, my pick) at 15.22%, Duke's Daniel Jones (2019) and 8.70%, Georgia's Jake Fromm (2020) at 6.52% and Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins (2019) at 4.35%. The Cardinals' Josh Rosen (by trade) dream not a single vote. The remaining 21.73% voted for "Somebody else." (If they're thinking Kyle Murray, they're dreaming).

COTE NCAA BRACKET BULL'S-EYES VIRGINIA WIN: My bracket in the Le Batard & Friends pool through ESPN.com finished buoyantly with national-champ Virginia correct as my pick to win it all. Nailed it! The Cavaliers' triumph over Texas Tech on Monday night catapulted me to a final 11th place finish of 215 players in the show's pool, the best of anyone on the show. That was not in the money, but still pretty good. Wahoo!

Other select recent columns: Playoff Chase Drama Enriches Wade's Swansong / An Intriguing Final Four Despite What's Missing / Maximum Security, Maximum Results (from Florida Derby) / The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think Also: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / 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

April 08, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Wade's farewell is king. See what follows; plus predict Dolphins' starting QB in 2020. Poll. Vote now! With column; also, Heat Playoff Watch (updated), Panthers change coaches, over/under on NFL wins (ouch) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 8. Visit Breakfast! for the new Back In My Day that debuted last week on Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): ESPN's latest Dolphins-draft guesses, playoff-chase drama adds to Wade's farewell, glory of an unexpected Final Four with polls, response to slam on Marlins fans, latest NBA/NHL odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Dolphins' next quarterback: I consider all of the players and all of the options through the next two drafts and handicap who'll be the Fins' starting QB in 2020 and beyond. To read, please visit Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB to read. There's a poll below awaiting your vote.

Heat Playoff Watch (updated entering Monday): Heat (9th place/38-42) after losing Sunday at Toronto; chasing Pistons (8th/39-41) after losing Sunday at Charlotte. Nets and Magic both won Sunday to clinch playoffs spots. Heat, Pistons and Hornets (also 38-42) are alive for final East playoff ticket. Remaining Heat games: Tuesday vs. Philadelphia and Wednesday at Brooklyn. Today: No games scheduled. Outlook: Heat, after an ill-timed fourth straight loss, are in trouble. Miami must win both of its final two games and get help, because both Detroit and Charlotte own the tiebreaker over Miami.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (APRIL 7): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: The end is near for Dwyane Wade's farewell: What started in June of 2003 is coming to an end a sweet 16 years later. Dwyane Wade's final regular-season home game of his final year in the NBA will be Tuesday in a downtown arena packed with emotion and gratitude. There could be a curtain call of at least two additional home games -- but only if Miami makes the playoffs, which now seems unlikely after Sunday's loss at Toronto. Miami is home vs. Philly Tuesday, then at Brooklyn Wednesday, needing to win both and get help.

2. MARCH MADNESS (MEN): It's Virginia vs. Texas Tech for NCAA title: After Virginia edged Auburn by one point (on a lucky late call) and Texas Tech handled Michigan State more comfortably in Saturday's Final Four, the two winners will meet Monday night in Minneapolis for the national championship. No.1-seed Cavaliers and No. 3 Red Raiders both are playing for the first national title, with Virginia a narrow 1 1/2-point favorite. 

3. PANTHERS: Cats end disappointing season, change coaches: Panthers will watch Stanley Cup playoffs on TV after finishing 36-46 with Saturday's appropriately fitting 4-3 overtime home loss to New jersey. Cats started season 0-4 and 2-8, and 7- and 6-game losing streaks along the way and just never really made a run. Wasted talent. Again. Sunday, team announced coach Bob Boughner was out after two seasons and Monday announced the hiring of 3-time Stanley Cup champion coach Joel Quenneville. Justified move. Solid hire.

4. MARLINS: Alfaro sparks Fish on first road trip: After Saturday's 4-2 win in Atlanta behind Jorge Alfaro's two homers ended a 4-game losing skid, Miami fell to 3-7 with Sunday's loss. Fish remain last in NL East in midst of young season's first road trip.

5. DOLPHINS: Countdown to NFL Draft: 17 days: Draft on April 25-27 finds Dolphins with so many needs it's anybody's guess what position will be targeted 13th overall. Why so many needs? Hint: New betting odds put Miami's over/under at 5 wins, lowest in league. Before the draft, team will hold a  "voluntary" mini-camp April 16-18. That's "voluntary" in quotes because if a player doesn't show up they look at him funny and call him names.

6. GOLF: It's Masters Week. Let us pray: The Masters is this Thursday through Sunday at Augusta, maybe the holiest-feeling annual event in sports. You can't even talk about it without hearing soft violins and tinkling pianos. Rory McIlroy is the betting fave at 7-1, then it's Dustin Johnson 10-1. At 12-1 are Justin Rose, Justin Thomas and some guy named Tiger Woods.

7. MARCH MADNESS (WOMEN): Baylor wins women's crown: After Baylor beat Oregon and Notre Dame bested UConn in Final Four semis Friday night, the two winners met Sunday in Tampa, with Baylor beating the Irish 82-81 for the national title.

8. HURRICANES: UM holds first spring scrimmage (supposedly): Coach Manny Diaz's Canes have six spring football practice days left, through April 20, after holding the first of three scrimmage games on Saturday. Well, we think so. The alleged super-secret stealth scrimmage was closed to fans and media, so do we reeeaaallly know it happened?

9. WWE: Pow! Boom! WrestleMania 35 takes place!: WrestleMania 35, Sunday in New Jersey and on pay-per view, made history with a first-ever women's main match: Becky Lynch taking the belt over Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair. The card also featured Brock Lesnar, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio and a long parade of other people in tights whom Greg Cote has never heard of. 

10. FOOTBALL: R.I.P. to the (incredibly short-lived) A.A.F.: The latest spring football tombstone shall read: Here lies the Alliance of American Football, 2019 to 2019. The league flopped like a dying fish on a pier after only eight weeks. Back to the golf course, Steve Spurrier!

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes baseball failed to complete a home sweep over Florida State today after shutout wins Friday and Saturday. UM is now 20-12; 'Noles are 19-12 after a 12-0 start ..... Duke's Zion Williamson is AP's college basketball player of the year. He also won in the more obscure category, Best Shoe Explosion ..... Bengals RB Mark Walton, the ex-Cane, was arrested for the third time this year. The year just entered its fourth month ..... Answer: Paul Westphal, Al Attles and Jack Sikman are among the latest inductees. Question: "What makes you say they Basketball Hall of Fame lets in too many people?" ..... Texas won men's NIT. Has anybody ever actually worn an "NIT Champions" T-shirt? Do they even make them? ..... Tennis' Miami Open set attendance records its first year at Hard Rock Stadium. Which is good. But, sorry, a stadium parking lot, even all dressed up, still cannot match the ambiance they had to leave behind on Key Biscayne ..... Stoking a future rivalry MLS with Inter Miami, Orlando FC put out a video making fun of the weeds at ramshackle Lockhart Stadium. Love it. Spot on ..... Update: Countdown now 2,631 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

JherbertCRYSTAL (FOOT)BALL: HANDICAPPING DOLPHINS' LIKELIEST STARTING QB IN 2020: Looking at all of the players, all of the possibilities and what's most realistically likely to happen, we handicap who'll be the Dolphins' starting quarterback in 2020 and beyond, after one season of stopgap bridge Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing the departed Ryan Tannehill. And the answer may surprise you. That is our newest column. Please visit Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB to read. I describe and rank the 10 possibilities, with percentage likelihoods of that player being the guy. Only the top three QBs score in double-digits percents. One of those top three, Oregon star Justin Herbert, is pictured. Here, in this poll, I list the seven most likely candidates alphabetically. Please vote for the QB you realistically think will be next -- the one you'd bet on! -- not who you hope. Vote now!

Our other most recent columns: Playoff Chase Drama Enriches Wade's Swansong and An Intriguing Final Four Despite What's Missing. Also: Maximum Security, Maximum Results (from the Florida Derby) and The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think.

BETTING OVER/UNDER WIN TOTALS FOR NFL (OUCH!): Via BetOnline.ag, your Miami Dolphins are dead-last in the NFL with a betting over/under of 5 wins. Also among early leaders in the Tua Tagovailoa Derby are the Cardinals at 5 1/2 wins and Redskins, Giants and Bengals all at 6. On the high end are the Patriots (of course!) at 11 wins and the Chiefs, Rams and Saints all 10 1/2. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Jets are at 7 wins and Bills at 6 1/2.

POLL RESULTS: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN NCAA TITLE, WHO YOU THINK WILL WIN: We asked, "Which Final Four team do you bet WILL win the NCAA Tournament men's championship?" You answered 42.53 percent Michigan State, 36.78% Virginia, 16.09% Texas Tech and 4.60% Auburn. We also asked, "Which Final Four team do you (or your bracket) WANT to win the NCAA Tournament men's championship?" There it was 38.23% Virginia, 26.47% Texas Tech, 20.59% Michigan State and 14.71% Auburn. 

Final Four preferences by state: Based on geotagged Twitter data, Michigan State enjoys the most support in 27 U.S. states, Texas Tech in 10, Auburn in eight (including Florida) and Virginia in five.

My bracket's title-game needs: My bracket in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com and remains buoyant with Virginia my pick to win it all. Including Final Four results I leaped from 82nd place to 34th place among 215 players in the show pool. Ten of the teams ahead of me also have Virginia, so if the Cavaliers cut the net I'll have a chance for a great finish. Go Wahoos!

Other select recent columns: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins / Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / 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

April 05, 2019

The 3 bonus delights of Wade's Heat swansong. Latest column; plus Kiper/McShay's 1st-round guess for Fins, NCAA Final Four polls, latest Back In My Day (Breakfast!), reader rebuts slam on Marlins fans, NBA/NHL title odds & more

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

Bimd1) It's FRIDAY, APRIL 5. Visit Breakfast! for the new Back In My Day that debuted on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Florida Derby, the 3 bonus delights of Wade's farewell season, our updated NCAA bracket, your Marlins-expectations verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

THE THREE BONUS DELIGHTS OF WADE'S 'ONE LAST DANCE': Even in last night's hurtful home loss to Boston that (at least temporarily) dropped the Miami Heat off playoff pace with four games left, it was easy to appreciate the three bonus delights of Dwyane Wade's farewell season. For my latest column from the arena last night, please visit Playoff Chase Drama Enriches Wade's Swansong.

Eoliver RgaryESPN: D-LINE THE DOLPHINS' FIRST-ROUND TARGET: The latest guess by ESPN's rival mock drafters, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, is that the Miami Dolphins will go defensive line with the 13th overall pick later this month. Kiper has Miami selecting Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary, saying, "You have to think the Dolphins, who are undergoing a serious rebuild, would be thrilled to get a high-ceiling pass-rusher like Gary here." McShay has the Fins taking Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, saying, "In this scenario, the top quarterbacks are gone. Don't overthink it; take the best available player. That's Oliver." (Gary and Oliver are pictured). QBs Kyler Murray of Oklahoma and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State definitely will be gone before Miami picks. There is a chance Missouri's Drew Lock could be available to the Dolphins, but Kiper and McShay have him going 11th and 10th, respectively. Kiper has Duke QB Daniel Jones going 15th overall. McShay has Miami selecting  North Carolina State passer Ryan Finely in the second round. 

Dolphins are NFL early birds: The Dolphins were one of only three NFL teams (Browns, Bucs) to start their official offseason program on Monday, April 1. Most teams (23) are starting on April 15. Dolphins follow with a voluntary mini-camp April 16-18. The NFL Draft is April 25-27. The nine OTA practice/work days are May 13-14, 16, 20-21, 23, 28-29 and 31. Mandatory mini-camp is Jun 4-6. Then it's a bit of time off until the start of full training camp. Football, baby!

FourTHE GLORY OF AN UNEXPECTED FINAL FOUR!: No blue blood programs. No Cinderellas. No Zion Williamson. No problem. Why this NCAA Tournament men's Final Four is a really good and refreshingly interesting one is the gist of my newest offering. Visit An Intriguing Final Four Despite What's Missing to read our latest column. Virginia vs. Auburn and Michigan State vs. Texas Tech this Saturday in Minneapolis gives us three programs trying to win a first national championship -- two in their first Final Four and one last this far in 1984. Then there's Michigan State, after its first national title since 2000. I both want and think Virginia will win it all, with no rooting interest other than the health of my barely breathing bracket, as I have the Cavaliers as champs and nobody else still alive. Curious what y'all think so we offer "will" and "want" polls below, with teams listed alphabetically. Who you think WILL win seeks your honest prediction, who you'd bet money one. Who you WANT to win is strictly your (or your bracket's) rooting interest. Take a dip in both polls. Vote now!

A REBUTTAL TO KISZLA ON ROCKIES VS. MARLINS: Denver Post sports columnist Mark Kiszla during the recent Marlins-Rockies series wrote one of those my- Denverpostcity's-better-than-your-city columns by saying that, of the two teams that both entered MLB in 1993, the Rockies have been much more successful even though the Marlins are ahead 2-0 in World Series titles, because they have bigger crowds. I'll give him the fan factor, although championships are sort of you, know, how success is measured! The Rockies have won nothing despite the stats-ballooning advantage of high altitude, by the way. (Kiszla also mocks the Marlins Park neighborhood with a couple of gratuitous Hispanic-stereotype swipes). I got an interesting email from a Marlins fan living in Colorado, who passed along a letter he'd written to the Denver Post. Here it is with his permission, only very slightly condensed:

Kiz,
I’d like to say, 'I hate to tell you' but it actually gives me great satisfaction to say, 'Marlins 2, Rockies 0!' It is telling that you have to take cheap shots at an entire fan base to make you feel good about yourself.  Last I checked, Marlins were 110-97 against the Rockies. That means the Marlins have won more games against the Rox, just to clarify. This town, Denver, places a huge emphasis on winning. (I’ve been to more than one Broncos game vs. Miami where I felt my family’s safety was compromised by drunken Bronco fans because we were winning).  Seems like the Marlins have a winning record against the Rox, a fact you overlooked in your assassination piece on Marlin fans. May I also point out that the Marlins are batting a thousand in the World Series?  I seem to recall the Rox are batting zero in the World Series. As a Marlins fan living in Colorado for the last 20 years, I have to say I am disappointed, albeit not surprised, in your feeble attempts at self-aggrandizement. You should be ashamed for stopping to such low levels as to attack an entire fan base, when what matters in Colorado is wins and losses. On that point, the Marlins clearly are the winners.
 
Warm Regards,
Andy Anderson 
Conifer, Colorado

StephNEWEST NBA, NHL TITLE ODDS: Via BetOnline.ag, Golden State is now a prohibitive 1-2 favorite for NBA title, with Milwaukee a distant second at 8-1. Then  it's Houston 10-1 and Philadelphia/Toronto both 12-1. Miami Heat are tie-13th at 250-1 but not favored (at -250) to make the playoffs, though now holding the 8th seed. MVP race shows The Greek Freak (1-2) and James Harden (3-2) the only two left on the board. Over in hockey, Tampa Bay is NHL favorite for the Stanley Cup at 11-4, followed by Calgary at 8-1 and a bunch at 10-1.

Our other most recent columns: A horse once for sale for $16,000 in a claiming race wins the Florida Derby. Read Maximum Security, Maximum Results, because you needn't be a fan of horse racing to appreciate what happened at Gulfstream Park. Also, from Marlins Opening Day: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins. And previewing the season: The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think.

Other select recent columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / 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

April 01, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins the pitched battle for No. 1 and what else lands where; plus our Florida Derby column, my NCAA bracket (ouch), your verdict on Marlins expectations (ouch again) & more

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

April11) It's MONDAY, APRIL 1. Farewell, March. Welcome, April. Hello, spring! 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Week and season-expectations poll, Super Saturday in South Florida, my NCAAA bracket & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our column from Florida Derby: A horse once for sale for $16,000 in a claiming race wins the Florida Derby and a spot in the Kentucky Derby. You needn't be a fan of horse racing to appreciate what happened Saturday at Gulfstream Park. To read my latest column, visit Maximum Security, Maximum Results.

Marlins Opening Week columns: From Opening Day loss: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins. And previewing the season: The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think. (A column that looks a lot better today, at 2-2, than it did at 0-2, by the way).

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

Hotbutton1. MARCH MADNESS: Men's NCAA tourney down to its Final Four: It'll be Michigan State-Texas Tech and Virginia-Auburn next Saturday in the coveted Final Four in Minneapolis, playing to reach the college basketball championship game. Meanwhile how's your bracket's health? Are you drowning in the pool or still swimming? Is your title-team still alive? Mine (Virginia) is in an otherwise forlorn bracket. It's April Madness!

2. MARLINS: The Marlins win again! The Marlins at .500!: After consecutive losses to open the season, Fish bats woke up with 16 hits in Saturday's 7-3 win and won again Sunday 3-0 to level the four-game series vs. Colorado. A gem start by Sandy Alcantara and a JT Riddle home run were plenty.  Mets are here for three starting Monday, meaning Marlins Park will be unusually populated and you won't be sure by the sound of it who the home team is.

3. HEAT: Playoff shot teetering as 'Last Dance' nears end: Heat are an even 38-38 after Saturday night's win over the awful, Zion Williamson-winning Knicks in Dwyane Wade's last game at Madison Square Garden. Miami is clinging to the 8th and final East playoff spot with six games left in the regular season starting tonight at Boston. Wade is down to two home games left (Wednesday and April 9) unless a playoff series favors us with a D-Wade curtain a call.

4. HORSE RACING: Florida Derby crowns champ at Gulfstream: Maximum Security, off at 6-1 odds, surprised even his own trainer by comfortably winning Saturday's 68th Florida Derby, a major Triple Crown-season prep race. Win earned Max a spot in May's Kentucky Derby, not bad for a horse available 10 weeks ago for a paltry $16,000 in a claiming race. (Read my column from the race here).

5. TENNIS: Two new champions in 1st Miami Open at HRS: Australian Ashley Barty beat Karolina Pliskova on Saturday for the women's title of the Miami Open -- the first held at Hard Rock Stadium after the move from Key Biscayne. It was a low-watt matchup in terms of starpower. Not so in Sunday's men's final, with all-time great Roger Federer easily beating American John Isner, the defending champion, 6-1, 6-4. HRS earned rave reviews as first-time tennis host. Still miss the ambiance of Key Biscayne, though.

6. MOTORSPORTS: Homestead loses NASCAR finale: Major NASCAR schedule changes will see Homestead-Miami Speedway lose the prestigious season-ending championship race to Phoenix beginning in 2020. Homestead will have an early-season March race instead. Too bad. Big loss for South Florida.

7. HURRICANES: Spring football practice nears midpoint: Coach Manny Diaz's Canes are six workdays into their 15-practice offseason schedule. The definition of being a maniacal UM football fan: You passionately care about a Canes practice ... five months before the seasons starts!!  

8. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from playoff race (as usual): For the 20th time in 25 NHL seasons your Florida Panthers will be watching the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV. Cats never recovered from a bad start and stars like Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov didn't have enough help. Three more games, all at home tonight, Thursday and Saturday, end the sad season.

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women ousted one win shy Sweet 16: Great season including a No. 4 NCAA Tournament seed for Katie Meier's UM women, but a deep run in the NCAAs remains elusive for the program. A 57-55 loss to Arizona State meant Canes again fell short of the Sweet 16, an achievement last earned in 1992.

10. NFL: Owners meet, adopt one notable rules change: NFL owners meeting in Arizona mulled 16 possible rule changes for 2019 and approved a handful. The only one of real significance: Making pass interference a reviewable call subject to instant replay -- a major victory for head coaches, who backed it by a 32-0 vote. Coaches say it was needed. Wonder how they'll feel if it's their team hurt by a reversed call? 

Missing the HB10 cut: The Miami Dolphins traded defensive end Robert Quinn to Dallas for a 2020 6th-round pick. Mostly, they traded his way-too-big salary ..... Fins have 25 days until the NFL Draft, meaning 25 days to please not talk themselves out of selecting a quarterback 13th overall ..... Tiger Woods was eliminated from a match-play event after missing a 4-foot putt. Who's he think he is, Greg Cote? ..... Bryce ($430 Million) Harper hitless on Opening Day. BUM!! ..... Lakers are shutting down LeBron James for last six games due to a groin strain, a fitting finish as LeBron's first season in L.A. ends with a groin and groan ..... Greg Schiano resigned as Patriots defensive chief after two months. Is it me, or does everything seem to be shrinking around Belichick and Brady? ..... Um, is Inter Miami's "new Lockhart Stadium" built yet? Started? Tick-tock! ..... Nova Southeastern men's basketball lost 91-81 to Saint Anselm in NCAA Division II quarterfinals. Title dream done, but still big season for coach Jim Crutchfield and the Davie college ..... And in other news, four teams have reached the men's NIT Final Four, and nobody cares ..... Lawyers for Patriots owner Robert Kraft are seeking to prevent a video from being shown in trial related to his being caught at a Florida "spa" in a prostitution sting. Sure, because the video is pretty pointless other than being, you know, EVIDENCE! ..... Rolling Stones postponed their April 20 Miami concert because of Mick Jagger's health issues. So it's true what they say, fans. You can't always get what you want ..... Update: Countdown now 2,638 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

BracketUPDATED: MY NCAA BRACKET ENTERING FINAL FOUR: Men's NCAA Tournament enters is through the Elite Eight and onto the Final Four, and my bracket in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com is down to one team standing. I went 0-for-2 Sunday, needing Kentucky and Duke and getting neither. That dropped me from 59th place to 82nd among 215 players in the show pool. The only bright side: I have Virginia alive and winning it all. Only 10 of the 81 teams ahead of me also have Virginia, so if the Cavaliers cut the net I'll have a chance for a respectable finish. #BigIf.

POLL RESULT: MARLINS EXPECTATIONS ARE REALLY LOW: We asked, "How many games do you predict the 2019 Miami Marlins will win?" Top answer with 59.52 percent was 60-to-69. Then it was 21.43% for 59-or-fewer, 11.90% for 70-to-79, and 7.14% for 80-or-more.

Our other most recent columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / 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

March 30, 2019

It's Super Saturday in South Florida sports! Here's why; plus Marlins growing pains evident as season starts (latest column), poll on your expectations for Fish, my NCAA bracket (updated) & more

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

Bunting Bunting1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 30. It's Opening Week for the Marlins! 2) Happy to say Sarah Spain's That's What She Said podcast with me as guest made the national top 10 in Apple podcasts for the week. Check it out here. Thanks, Sarah! 3) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Chris Bosh's big night, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner, our NCAA bracket so far, your Heat playoff-opponent verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

SUPER SATURDAY FOR SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS: We declare a Super Saturday! It's a great day to be a sports fan in Miami and South Florida. The big events, listed in order of my own interest level:

SupersatFlorida Derby -- The biggest day of thoroughbred racing at Gulfstream Park includes the $1 million, Grade 1 Florida Derby, with post time expected around 6:30. Hidden Scroll is the betting favorite at 5-2, but right on his tail are Code of Honor (3-1), Bourbon War (7-2) and Maximum Security (9-2).

Elite Eight -- Gonzaga-Texas Tech tips at 6:09 and then Virginia-Purdue at 8:49. (What's with those nutty starting times, TV?) Does your bracket have much life in it or is it already busted beyond recognition?  

Heat at Knicks -- Game tips at 7:30 with Miami trying to hang onto 8th and final East playoff spot. New York is god-awful (Welcome to the Garden, Zion Williamson), so this would be a really hurtful loss for Heat.

Colorado at Marlins -- After consecutive losses to open the season, Miami tries again for win No. 1 at 6:10, with Pablo Lopez on the hill. Bold prediction: Fish win!  

Panthers at Boston -- Puck drops at 1 p.m. as Florida, eliminated from the playoff chase, plays out the string in a disappointing NHL season. 

Fishlogo OdayPLAY BALL! IT'S OPENING WEEK, BUT MARLINS START WITH CONSECUTIVE LOSSES: The Miami Marlins 27th season and Year 2 of the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter era began Thursday with a 6-3 home loss to Colorado and followed Friday with a 6-1 loss. Opener drew 25,423 -- a decent crowd, but a disappointment for Opening Day -- but last night's gate plummeted to an embarrassingly low 6,503. For my column from Marlins Park off Opening Day, please visit Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins. I happen to think the young, re-branding Marlins -- expected to be really bad -- will surprise and be better than you think. Not contending, but competitive. Not .500, but not 100 losses, either. The offense does not have enough big, run-producing bats (although JT Riddle, Neil Walker and Jorge Alfaro all hit solo homers in the opener), but I think the starting pitching could be pretty strong. I wrote about the ballpark changes and why this team could be easy to root for in my earlier season preview column. To read that one, please visit The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think. Do you feel the same? Set the bar on season expectations in this poll:

Our other most recent columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

MY NCAA BRACKET: INTO ELITE EIGHT ROUND WITH CONFIDENCE: Men's NCAA Tournament enters the Elite Eight round this weekend and my bracket in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com is looking better. didn't get the four-game sweep it needed to start the Sweet 16 round. Went 3-for-4 last night with wins by Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky to jump up to 89th place in the 215-player pool -- still not great, but respectable, at least. And a chance to move up further, with five teams alive in the Elite Eight. Today I need Virginia and Gonzaga to win. Sunday I need Kentucky and Duke (although I also have Michigan State). I have Virginia winning it all. Only five of the 88 players currntly ahead of me also have the Cavaliers, so if they win it all I have a chance to rocket up the chart for maybe a top 10 finish. Gargantuan "if," of course.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 27, 2019

Bosh rises to rafters as Heat fall flat. My column from a bittersweet night; plus our March Madness Haiku Challenge results, my NCAA bracket (ouch), podcast news, your verdict on Heat playoff opponent & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27. Florida Panthers officially eliminated from NHL playoff race. Or, did that go without saying? 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Heat playoff-opponent poll, Beckham's Miami soccer odyssey & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

TwssBig podcast news: Pleased to say I'm on Sarah Spain's newest That's What She Said podcast on the Le Batard & Friends Podcast Network. Was honored that she'd have me. It premiered yesterday. We laughed, we cried! Find it here, and please listen.

BoshBOSH RISES TO RAFTERS AS HEAT FALL FLAT: Stakes were high last night in the bayside arena as the 8th-seeded Heat hosted the 9th-seed Orlando Magic. Miami with a win would have climbed to .500 and earned a bit of breathing room in the chase for the playoffs. Instead, Miami's 104-99 fall-from-ahead loss dropped the Heat to 9th and at least temporarily off playoff pace with eight games left in the NBA regular season. Also last night, of course, the team retired Chris Bosh's No. 1 jersey in a night of appreciation, nostalgia, but also regret, for what we had, and lost, as the Big 3 era ended too soon. I was at the arena. To read my column, please visit Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If'

Haiku WinnerMARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE ANOINTS A CHAMPION!: Our blog's 14th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge drew a record 248 entries in four days last week, 144 via my Herald email and 104 via my Twitter account at hashtag #Haiku. Thanks to all who played along. (Because nothing celebrates the NCAA Tournament and bracket-mania like a dive into ancient Japanese short-form poetry!) So who made the best use of  17 syllables? Our judging committee, consisting entirely of me, pored over every entry. The results:

CHAMPION: ANDREW S.:

"My bracket's busting

Like Zion's blue Nike shoe

Duke the constant heel" 

I liked the analogy of a disintegrating bracket and and an exploding sneaker, appreciated the topicality of Zion Williamson and his footwear calamity, and enjoyed the allusion to Duke basketball being the program so many love to hate. Congrats, Andrew. I'll email you soon and we'll figure out some sort of grand prize that won't be the least bit grand. 

RUNNERUP: "Rub the Billiken / Dancin' with the Blue Devil / March on to cut nets" [from David R.]. HONORABLE MENTION: "Duke, Carolina / The title game we all need / And what we deserve" [from Paul N.] and "College basketball / Only matters once a year / It is candy corn" [from Estabante T.]

Thanks again to all who played. My appreciation in haiku form: "Yay to Andrew S. / On a ladder with scissors / The gold belt all his"

BracketMY NCAA BRACKET EXISTS TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOUR BRACKET: My men's NCAA Tournament bracket is in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com. And I am sorry to say that, right now, entering the Sweet 16 round, my bracket is tied for 117th place among 215 entries. I do have 12 teams alive of the 16 left, so that isn't too bad. (Right?) The eight teams I need to win later this week: Duke, Michigan State, Virginia, Tennessee, Gonzaga, Michigan, North Carolina and Kentucky. I gambled on Virginia as my overall champion, so if that somehow happens I think my limping bracket might still have a respectable finish.

POLL RESULT: YOU WANT 76ERS FOR HEAT: We asked,"Which of the 3 most likely first-round opponents would you most like to see Miami Heat face to start NBA playoffs?"And you had it 51.16 percent for Philadelphia 76ers, 25.58% for Milwaukee Bucks and 23.26% for Toronto Raptors.
 
Our most recent columns: Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 25, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins the fierce fight for No. 1 and what else lands where; plus Heat playoff poll (vote now!), our Beckham's Miami soccer odyssey column, Haiku Challenge news & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 25. Happy 72nd birthday to Elton John. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual March Madness Haiku Challenge announcement, Diaz's re-branding of Canes football, Tannehill's legacy and your verdict on his Dolphins era & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Haiku Challenge update!: Entries closed at noon Friday in our 14th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. Thanks to all who played along! We'll announce the winner here in our blog ON TUESDAY MORNING. Also tomorrow, we'll share how we're doing thus far in our NCAA Tournament bracket. Spoiler alert: It ain't pretty.

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

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: It's Opening Week for Fish and MLB!: Marlins finished 15-13 as one of the bigger pleasant surprises in baseball as they concluded their spring schedule Sunday vs. St. Louis, with a big team vs. top prospects fun game today. Opening Day is Thursday at Marlins Park vs. Colorado. Might still be a long season for a young, rebuilding team, but March suggests it might also be a team with some fight, and one easy to like.

2. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women gunning for Sweet 16: Miami, a No. 4  seed in the women's NCAA Tournament, won its opener and but lost 57-55 to No. 5 Arizona State on campus Sunday evening -- denying UM its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1992. But for coach Katie Meier, this team and 25-9 season were a big success, especially compared to the men's team's struggles.

3. HEAT: Hot Heat host huge home game Tuesday: Miami and Dwyane "Last Dance" Wade are 36-37 after winning nine of past 12 games and can get to .500 at home Tuesday vs Orlando. Heat hold the 8th and last East playoff spot with nine games left in the regular season, but the Magic is only one game back in 9th. So expect a playoff feel Tuesday. Or desperation, at least.

4. MARCH MADNESS: NCAA tourney reaches Sweet 16 round: The Sweet 16 pairings were completed on Sunday and all four No. 1 seeds advanced -- with Zion Williamson and Duke needing a lucky late bounce to survive UCF. Notable so far in the men's NCAA Tournament: Biggest by-seed upset: 13-UC Irvine beating 4-Kansas State. Biggest controversy: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo berating a freshman player. Biggest disappointment: My bracket.

5. TENNIS: Miami Open suffers two big losses on women's side: The first Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium, after leaving Key Biscayne, suffered a double-hit Saturday when No. 1-ranked Naomi Osaka (loss) and eight-time Miami champ and fan favorite Serena Williams (withdrawal/knee injury) both left the tourney. That's a major disappointment to an event already without injured men's star Rafael Nadal.

6. INTER MIAMI: First two seasons in Broward gets OK: Fort Lauderdale city commission unanimously approved a Jorge Mas/David Beckham plan to build a new Lockhart Stadium at the current site and for Inter Miami to play its first two MLS seasons there while the team's permanent home at the Melreese Miami site. Hmm. Um, that's less than one year to build a $60 million, 18,000-seat "new Lockhart." Chop chop, fellas. Beckham, let me know if you need to borrow my weed wacker!

7. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN: Sharks in Division II quarterfinals: Nova Southeastern basketball has reached the men's NCAA Division II Elite Eight and faces Saint Anselm College of New Hampshire this Wednesday. The Sharks are now three wins from the school's first national championship and first for coach Jim Crutchfield.

8. PANTHERS: Cats on brink of elimination from playoff contention: Florida is 10 points off playoff pace with seven games left in the regular season starting Monday at Toronto -- not officially eliminated yet, but all but. Cats may need to win the last seven games for any shot, and even that may not be enough. Not gonna happen, puckheads.  

9. HURRICANES: Raves for new QB as spring football digs in: Teammates are raving and the media is swooning over new Canes transfer quarterback Tate Martell. Dear Everybody: We are three games into 15 spring practices. It's March. Can he beat Florida -- or at least win the starting job -- before we anoint him?

10. DOLPHINS: Countdown: One month 'til draft!: The NFL Draft is April 25-27 in Nashville, so today begins the one-month countdown. That's one full month of incessant speculation on whom the Dolphins might select 13th overall, on top of the month-plus of honking and blather Your Friend the Media has already put out there.

Missing the HB10 cut: Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he is "truly sorry" for being caught at a Florida "spa" in a prostitution sting. I wonder if this story will have a happy ending. Wait. Too soon? ..... Ouch. UM baseball has lost five in a row and tries to avoid being swept at home today by No. 5-ranked North Carolina State. Honeymoon over, Gino DiMare ..... NFL owners meeting in Arizona this week will include a vote on 16 possible rule changes for 2019. One wild one: An alternative option to the onside kick giving teams a 4th-and-15 play from their own 35-yard line. That's really interesting. So it has no shot of approval ..... ESPN and UFC signed a massive agreement for the Worldwide Leader to champion UFC fights. Sorry, Disney. No interest ..... Angels' Mike Trout signed a record $430 million deal. Should we start a GoFundMe page for poor Bryce Harper? ..... Seattle opened MLB season with two games vs. Oakland in Japan, and Ichiro played and then retired in front of fans who idolize him. That's about as perfect and ending as sports can deliver ..... Florida Derby is next Saturday at Gulfstream, a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown season. So it's almost time to fake interest in horse racing ..... Funniest thing about that college admissions scandal? That we're all shocked that rich people would try to buy advantages for their spoiled-brat kids ..... Update: Countdown now 2,645 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

DwadeWHAT OPPONENT DO HEAT FANS WANT IN THE PLAYOFFS' FIRST ROUND?: Miami holds the No. 8 East seed with 11 games left in the regular season, entering tonight, but the hot Heat -- winners of three straight and eight of past 10 -- still have a plausible shot at the 7th seed or perhaps even the 6th. That's why Miami is in realistic play to face any of the current 1-2-3 seeds. (Indiana or Boston rising to 3rd is possible, but unlikely enough that we don't include them in our poll. The question is which of the 1-2-3 teams you'd most want Miami to end up facing in the first round? Vote based on which team the Heat might have the best chance to win the series against or which series might be the most fun to watch -- your call.

BecksinterNEW COLUMN: INTER MIAMI? INTERIM FORT LAUDERDALE AS BECKHAM'S WILD RIDE TAKES DETOUR: Nothing has been easy (or fast) in David Beckham's six-year odyssey to realize his dream of Major League Soccer in Miami, and the latest example is Inter Miami having to play its first two seasons at a yet-to-be built new Lockhart Stadium at the old site in Fort Lauderdale. That's assuming they can built the new Lockhart stadium in about 10 months, with 2020 preseason games starting in January. And "only" two years in Broward assumes the massive Miami Freedom Park project including the new stadium on the Melreese golf site will be ready by 2022. For my newest column, please visit Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour.

Other most recent columns: Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / The Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour.

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