January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020, R.I.P. Our column on the tragedy that rocked sports; plus how one long-forgotten man pre-dating Shula changed everything for Miami Dolphins; also, latest Hot Button 10 (updated), Torrent Of Super Bowl Coverage Headquarters & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 27 Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl Top 10 Storylines You'll Be Sick Of Primer, Derek Jeter's (not) unanimous election & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

KobeKOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: For our column on Sunday's tragedy, please visit Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

 

THE FORGOTTEN MAN WHO LED THE DOLPHINS' RISE FROM EARLY DYSFUNCTION TO SUPER BOWLS AND HISTORIC PERFECTION: The players who formed the nucleus of the NFL’s single greatest team of all time were stunned to learn that their Miami Dolphins head coach was prone to laziness and long, boozy lunches. He was a man who once stood before his team and, Joethomasslouching, said, "Well, I’m hoping for a 7-7 season" -- as his guys looked around at each other, dumbfounded. This was before the arrival of Don Shula, we must hasten to mention. The NFL itself anointed the 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins No. 1 among the best teams ever as part of its 100th season celebration that will culminate with the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl, fittingly in Miami. But how did a Miami franchise only born in 1966 get from nothing, from the comical dysfunction under first coach George Wilson, to being the greatest ever in such short order? It happened because of Shula, who arrived in 1970, but it started before him, during the expansion years. It started with one man, a man long lost, a man so essential yet so egregiously forgotten in Dolphins history. His name was Joseph Henry Thomas. (Shula and Thomas are pictured). Thomas left the windfall of talent that Shula spun into historic gold. ..... OK, that is the entree to my latest column, a piece I'm very proud of. It is the first of a two-part series. In this Part 1, through extensive reporting, I reveal the comical dysfunction of the 1966-69 expansion years under Dolphins inaugural head coach George Wilson. Yet during that clown show stacked with losses, we tell you how Joe Thomas came to assemble a treasure trove of talent. In Part 2, coming next week, how Don Shula's arrival changed everything, and Shula today, the king in his winter at age 90. To read Part 1 of our series now online, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

Previously from our Rampaging Torrent of Super Bowl Coverage:

(*) What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins.

(*) Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

(*) How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

And coming Monday: Return of Smirk!: Super Bowl with a Smirk notes columns, poking fun at the NFL and the gravitas of its big game, are an annual Super Bowl Week staple in the Miami Herald. Watch for the Return of Smirk on Monday!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 26-27): 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. KOBE BRYANT: Tragic helicopter crash kills ex-Lakers star: A family, the NBA and all of sports were ripped apart Sunday with the news Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others had been killed in a private helicopter crash in California. R.I.P. to an all-time great.

2. DEREK JETER: One vote missing, but Marlins president in Cooperstown: Derek Jeter swept into the Baseball Hall of Fame with all but one vote of 397 cast, denied a unanimous entry by one still-unnamed idiot / piss-ant anarchist. (Larry Walker got in, too, barely). Jeter is best known of course as the Miami Marlins president, although reportedly also played several years with the Yankees.

3. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! Hot Cats awarded '21 NHL All-Star Game: Haven't been many better weeks to be a Panthers fan. Florida and Jonathan Huberdeau skated into Saturday's NHL All-Star Game at 28-21 off six straight wins and 13 in past 17 games -- solidly on playoff pace. And this : the big news that Cats, for the first time since 2003, will host All-Star Weekend in 2021.

4. HEAT: Butler snubbed as all-star starter, Waiters debuts: Miami coach Erik Spoelstra called it a "joke" that Jimmy Butler was not named an NBA all-star starter. Bam Adebayo had a case, too, although both surely will make it as reserves. Meantime relentlessly suspended Dion Waiters made his season debut for 31-14 Heat, with four 3's and 14 points in a solid 18 minutes.

5. NFL: Chiefs, 49ers arrive in Miami for Super Bowl: SB 54 at Hard Rock Stadium is in one week, and the teams arrive today. The Kansas City Chiefs are to land in Miami at 4:40 p.m. and the San Francisco 49ers about 2 1/2 hours later. The slightly favored Chiefs are expected to continue to be ahead of the Niners through next Sunday's final whistle.

6. HURRICANES: UM football lands major transfer QB: Former Houston starting quarterback D'Eriq King announced he  has entered the college football transfer portal and chosen the Miami Hurricanes. Quick word of caution: Remember, one year ago, how excited we were were about Tate Martell? 

7. TENNIS: Serena out early as Australia Open hits midpoint: Serena Williams, only eighth-seeded but the betting favorite in year's first major, was ousted in the third round -- yet another failed effort to tie Margaret Court's career record of 24 major singles titles. Still think Serena will equal and then surpass Court ... but we've been saying that for three years now, since her 23rd title was the Aussie Open in 2017.

8. HORSE RACING: Mucho Gusto wins rich Pegasus at Gulfstream: Mucho Gusto, a star for trainer Bob Baffert, won the second annual $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstreak Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, with Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. Might be horse racing's biggest day outside the Triple Crown races.

9. PRO BOWL: NFL all-star game is Sunday in Orlando: Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson lead the AFC and NFC squads today in a meaningless game further watered down because players from the Super Bowl-bound Chiefs and 49ers aren't in it. No Dolphins, either, but plenty of ex-Fins in Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

10. CANES HOOPS: Can Miami (men or women) finally beat a good team?: Slumping Miami men are 10-9 off four straight losses after Saturday's L at North Carolina -- and 0-5 vs. Top 25 teams. Canes women are 11-9 overall and 0-6 vs. ranked teams after Sunday's loss at No. 14 Florida State. Jeez, beat somebody a good team, already!

Missing the HB10 cut: Overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans finally made his season debut. He scored 22 points, did not reinjure his knee and his sneakers did not explode. Stay tuned for further developments ..... A bunch of NFL eyes including those of the Dolphins' Chris Grier were watching a lot of college all-stars with the coming NFL Draft in mind in Saturday's annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. But rehabbing Tua Tagovailao of course didn't play, so our interest in the game went from gutter-low to nonexistent ..... Latest Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be revealed at NFL Honors awards show the night before Super Bowl, with ex-Dolphin Zach Thomas a finalist for first time. Of course we are journalistically neutral unabashedly hoping Zach gets in! ..... Countdown 35 days 'til Inter Miami opens its inaugural season in MLS ..... Countdown 48 days 'til No. 3-ranked Hurricanes baseball opens season ..... By the way, the Houston Astros stole their World Series trophy ..... Somebody help Antonio Brown. Baker Act, anyone? ..... Update: Countdown now 2,338 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other most recent stuff: 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 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. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 15, 2020

Lots of Miami-centric Super Bowl possibilities in NFL's final four. But only one gives America (and South Florida) a rooting interest. Our new column; plus Clemson anointed for 2020 despite loss, hear the new Ozzy/Elton song here & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15. 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): Dan Enos Cup for  Miami's biggest disappointment, Dream Ticket Tua and Tom for Dolphins?, our Wild Card Weekend ignominy, new Back In My Day video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

NFL FINAL FOUR: LOTS OF MIAMI-CENTRIC SUPER OWL STORIES -- BUT ONLY ONE REALLY MATTERS: It’s nothing personal, Kansas City, so please don’t take it that way, Chiefs fans. But would you please lose? I know y’all haven’t been in a Super Bowl since the 1969 season, so being one win away is a little bit of a feel-good story and all that. No matter. K.C. winning the AFC championship would deny host city Miami the most intriguing Super Bowl possibility left in the NFL’s final four playoff teams. The Dolphins haven’t been in a Super Bowl since 1984, so Miami Tannyhosting the game without tasting it can be bittersweet, a cruel tease. So here we are, again, sifting through the Chiefs-Titans and 49ers-Packers semifinal matchups to find what is — or should be — of most interest in this final four to South Florida fans: No. 1--Ryan Tannhill, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Tannehill: The story is so far-fetched you dare not make it up, but then it actually happens -- this is why we love sports in all its unscripted glory. And the fall and rise of Tannehill is the best thing going right now. Yes, I know. Tennessee rides on the back of running beast Derrick Henry and stout defense more than on Tannehill’s arm. Nevertheless, the Titans season pivoted sharply when Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota as starting quarterback in Week 7. It is why the team is this far. Tannehill led the NFL in passer rating, and if he doesn’t get some MVP votes, call the cops. Now Tannehill is one win from playing in a Miami Super Bowl in the same stadium where for seven seasons he tried and failed to make the Dolphins winners. It was unfathomable as he began the season traded and demoted, sitting as Mariota’s backup. Tannehill of course didn’t fail here nearly as much as the Dolphins failed him by never doing what the Titans did in surrounding him with enough talent. Tannehill returning to Miami and maybe raising the Lombardi Trophy in the Dolphins’ backyard would simply be one of the great redemption tales in sports history — and one every Dolfan with a heart should be rooting for. So get out the way, Chiefs! No. 2--The Hall haul: The 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class to be revealed just before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 has a distinct local flavor. Sunday night we saw the emotional reaction live on Fox TV as it was announced Jimmy Johnson, former Hurricanes and Dolphins coach, had so deservedly made it to Canton, Ohio. I have not covered a man who took a loss harder, or who ultimately figured out how, when and why to quit coaching, before it ate him all up. Well done, J.J. Finalists who still could make it include longtime Dolphins stalwart linebacker Zach Thomas, former Hurricanes star running back Edgerrin James and receiver Reggie Wayne, and Fort Lauderdale-born/Dillard High receiver Isaac Bruce. Best of luck to all, but let it be Zach’s time. He has shouldered the weight of the wait. No. 3--The Bosa/Kumerow connection: Defensive end John Bosa was the Dolphins’ No. 1 draft choice in 1987 and DE Eric Kumerow was the top pick the next year. They were brothers-in-law. They were not great NFL players. Oh but the bloodlines were good! Now both of their sons are playing in the final four. For more local ties and the full column, please visit America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please!

TrevorDESPITE LOSS TO LSU, CLEMSON ANOINTED FAVORITE FOR 2020: Ed Orgeron is still rasping his way through victory speeches for his LSU TIgers after last night's convincing win for the CFP national title, but it is vanquished Clemson seen as the favorite for the 2020 season. Caesars Sportsbook has Clemson 2-1 to win it all, Alabama 4-1, Ohio State 7-1, LSU 9-2 , Georgia 10-1 and Florida 15-1. Sportsbetting.ag's Heisman odds have Clesmon QB Trevor Lawernce (pictured) the trophy fave at 7-2, just ahead of Ohio State's Justin Fields at 4-1.

PicksNFL DIVISIONAL ROUND PLAYOFFS: OUR PICKS, RESULTS: Update: We were 3-1 overall on our Divisional Round picks (missed Titans beating Ravens, like the rest of America), but only 1-3 against the spread (Chiefs' rout of Texans our only get). Here's how cruel the ATS gods can be: Packers were favored by four. I said they'd win by three. They won by five. A miss. The good news from the weekend: Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill are one win from reaching the Miami Super Bowl in his old stadium. Delicioso. Yes, please! ..... Original post: Road teams won three of four games last week on Wild Card Weekend as the road to the Miami Super Bowl began. Do not expect a repeat of that in the Divisional Round on Saturday and Sunday as eight teams winnow down to the final four. The home teams -- the four top seeds, all off byes -- are favored by a combined 31 points. Will the odds hold up? No upsets in store? Hint: I think the two NFC games will be a lot more competitive and upset-likely than the two AFC games. For all four of our Divisional Round picks, please visit the motherlode of prognostication I like to call NFL Divisional Round Gems.

Other most recent columns: Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports and Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? Also: 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.

OZZY AND ELTON: WHAT MORE NEED BE SAID?: Old friends and rock warriors Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John collaborate on the title track from Ozzy's forthcoming new album, Ordinary Man, out February 21. I'm prejudiced as a fan of both, but the song, a mid-tempo, is lush and quite epic. From the backing harmonies to the closing chords, there is a Beatle-esque feeling. Listen. You're welcome.

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.

January 06, 2020

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team. Newest column; also, our NFL Wild Card Weekend results (unfortunately), happy birthday Don Shula & more

Shula1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 6. A heartfelt happy 90th birthday to the great Dolphins icon Don Shula (pictured in earlier days), who hit the milestone Saturday. Here's to many more! 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect (late) holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild Card Weekend picks, Wade retires (Miami) and Woods' Masters (national) voted biggest sports stories of 2019 in year-end polls, Gators win Orange Bowl & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our return to Le Batard Show: For those who've asked I'll be back on ESPN Radio tomorrow/Tuesday.

Final Herald NFL QB rankings: This was our 22nd year of NFL quarterback rankings. Visit Herald 2019 Final NFL QB Rankings.

PicksWILD CARD WEEKEND! ROAD TEAMS TAKE THREE OF FOUR: Update: Ouch. We were 0-4 straight-up and 0-4 against the spread on our WCW picks. That's a first. May it be a last, please? Original post: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a solid 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald. Finished the regular season with a .663 winning percentage overall and .518 against the spread. Now all that matters are the 11 postseason games ahead culminating with the backyard Miami Super Bowl on February 2. For all four of our Wild Card Weekend picks -- including a pair of upsets! -- visit the motherlode of prognostication I like to call NFL Wild Card Weekend Gems.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 5-6): 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:

Hotbutton1. NFL: Texans, Titans, Vikings, Seahawks advance in playoffs: The king is dead! The king is dead! The reigning champion Patriots and Tom Brady are dethroned. Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill ousted them Saturday while Houston rallied to edge Buffalo. Sunday, Vikings upset Saints and Seahawks handled Eagles on Wild Card Weekend. Away teams won three of four. The road to Miami, indeed.

2. HURRICANES: Miami hiresg SMU hotshot as new offensive coordinator: UM has hired SMU offensive coordinator/QBs coach Rhett Lashlee, 36, for the same job here. Lashlee ran an exciting spread offense that was top 10 in the nation in points and yards this season. Canes fans are excited. Warning: (They were excited about Dan Enos, too, once).

3. HEAT: Miami tops Portland in Whiteside's return: Miami sits pretty in third place in the East at 26-10, with Justise Winslow, who has missed 26 games, finally close to returning from his back injury. Team beat Portland -- and Hassan Whiteside -- Sunday evening, with Whiteside mostly booed throughout the night.

4. UM HOOPS: No. 2 Duke schools Canes men: UM men fell to 9-4 with Saturday's 95-62 home loss to Duke and next plays at No. 7 Louisville Tuesday. Meanwhile No. 23 Canes women gell to 9-5 after Sunday's home loss to Florida State, and now face another top-10 foe in Louisville.

5. PANTHERS: Cats win at Pittsburgh: Florida is 22-20 after Sunday's 4-1 win at Pittsburgh that lifted the Cats to a tie for the final playoff spot at midseason. Team has won seven of past 10 and now plays four straight at home.

6. DOLPHINS: Tagovailoa decision expected Monday: Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, recovering from a hip injury, has said he will announce Monday whether he'll entre the NFL Draft or return to the Crimson Tide. Many NFL teams -- the Dolphins perhaps highest among them -- will see their draft plans shaped by that decision.

7. DAVID STERN: R.I.P. to commissioner who made NBA what it is: Stern died this week at 77 and is being remembered as the longtime commissioner who made the NBA an international brand it is. He's high on a very short of of greatest commissioner in the history of sports.

8. DALLAS COWBOYS: Jerry Jones finally pulls the trigger: The underperforming Cowboys finally fired coach Jason Garrett. Prominent among the possible replacements being interviewed: Mike McCarthy and Marvin Lewis. Good to see that Jerry Jones believes in recycling.

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Seven days 'til LSU-Clemson title game: Two 14-0 teams ready for the College Football playoff championship in New Orleans, with LSU a 5 1/2-point favorite and the over/under inching up toward 70. Will either remember to pack a defense for the trip?

10. INTER MIAMI: Coach in place, players next, season soon: With a coach hired in Diego Alonso but players still to come, Inter Miami's inaugural Major League Soccer season is getting more and more real. And close. Countdown to season opener: 54 days.

Missing the HB10 cut: We appear to be inching closer to war with Iran. Have a nice Sunday, everybody! ..... Great to see Dolphins great Zach Thomas make the list of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now get him to Canyon, voters! ..... Florida beats Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Miamians still can't believe they had to watch Florida beat Virginia in the Orange Bowl ..... Update: Countdown now 2,359 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

CamwSIFTING THROUGH THE LOSING, WE ANNOUNCE THE MIAMI DOLPHINS' 2010-19 ALL-DECADE TEAM!: In another few days you will have broken a social faux pas but for now you can still wish people a Happy New Year without them looking at you funny. There are rules for these things. For example, when introducing your new head coach in early January, you probably don’t want to begin the news conference by wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving, as Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder did this week. That got me thinking the window is closing to name the Miami Dolphins’ All-Decade Team for 2010 to 2019, so let’s get to it. First I will pause a second for all of your snide comments and thoughts, like, a team that went 69-91 in the decade, made one playoff and won zero playoff games — did they have any good players? Well, a few, yes. So let’s bid auld lang syne to the past decade by remembering the Dolphins who were the least bad, relatively speaking. Pictured is the most obvious choice for the team: Cameron Wake. Here is our Dolphins’ All-Decade Team, after which we will name the players of the decade from the Dolphins, Heat, Panthers and Marlins. To see our team and get our full latest column, please visit Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team.

Other most recent columns: 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.

THE LIST: SUPER BOWL RECORDS OF 2019 PLAYOFF TEAMS: Ranked by most victories:

Team                      SB W-L            Last in SB, last won

Patriots                   6-5, .545        2018 / 2018

49ers                      5-1, .833         2012 / 1995

Packers                   4-1, .800        2010 / 2010

Ravens                    2-0, 1.000       2012 / 2012

Saints                     1-0, 1.000       2009 / 2009

Chiefs                     1-1, .500        1969 / 1969

Eagles                     1-2, .333        2017 / 2017

Seahawks                1-2, .333        2014 / 2013

Titans                     0-1, .000        1999 / Never won

Bills                        0-4, .000        1993 / Never won

Vikings                    0-4, .000        1976 / Never won

Texans                    0-0, .000        Never appeared

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.

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. [Note: This link to our APSE-honored work will appear here through the weekend and be gone starting Monday].

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 31, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 88.9%. Final approval rating is season high after Fins' 27-24 upset win at New England; plus the latest Hot Button Top. A fierce battle for No.1, what else lands where & more

1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31. Hope y'all enjoyed a wonderful long holiday weekend! Scroll to previous blogpost for season-ending result of Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. (Warning: It's ugly). 2) Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald much lately. Bonus points if you noticed! 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose bowl game to Louisiana Tech with CSM poll, NFL Week 17 picks, Pix 'n Fantasy Week 16 results, updated Herald NFL QB rankings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

NemiaG16: DOLPHINS 27, AT NEW ENGLAND 24: MIAMI PUTS A BOW ON A LOST SEASON: Original post: It’s all division games, all on Sunday, as NFL’s 2019 regular season crescendos with Week 17 determining the final two of 12 playoff spots. Stakes are minimal in Dolphins’ finale, of course, but there are some, at Tomryanleast. The 12-3 Patriots must win (or hope for an unlikely Chiefs loss) to secure the No. 2 AFC seed and a first-round playoff bye. Can 4-11 Miami and expatriate/ex-Patriot Brian Flores play spoiler vs. nemesis Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at a cold and cloudy Foxborough? Um, well, no. Sorry. Fins haven’t won at New England in 11 years, and Patriots have won 22 of past 23 at home overall. Pats won 43-0 in September -- back when we thought Miami might be historically bad, maybe 0-16 bound. Competitiveness and even credibility ensued, but for Fins today, as 16-point underdogs, the Pats’ end zone will still feel miles away against a majorly great defense. Pictured left: Two really old quarterbacks. Cote’s pick: NE 31-13. Visit NFL Week 17 Gems for all of our latest picks. And watch for the latest and season-finale Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 88.9%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-finale -- Miami Herald Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday's 27-24 upset win Dsmat New England putting Miami's final 2019 season record at 5-11. That's a season high and the second-best final rating in the poll's 12-year history. 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. Because this was the final poll, I suggested added emphasis be given to the season as a whole. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Tuesday. Final poll analysis below.

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.

G15: 54.4% following 38-35 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

G16/Season final: 88.9%: following 27-24 victory at New England.

Final poll analysis: A nearly 90 percent thumb's-up from Dolfans after a 5-11 season? It doesn't make much sense. But I've called this The Weirdest Season all year, so maybe it does make sense. I think most fans think Miami got the best of both worlds: a high draft pick (fifth overall) and an NFL-leading bevy of 13 picks total, and the optimism borne of a strong second half to the season capped by the stunning upset at nemesis New England. 

Yearly DSM Results: 2019--88.9% (following 5-11 season); 2018--6.9% (7-9); 2017--7.7% (6-10); 2016--76.2% (10-6/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

Our most recent columns: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football / Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft. Also: 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!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 29-30): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUTOur 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. HURRICANES: Enos out as embarrassing bowl loss ends miserable year: The Canes limped to the end of a really disappointing 6-7 season with an embarrassing 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl -- a new low in a year full of those. The good news: Offensive coordinator Dan Enos, maestro of the mess, was immediately fired.

2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's LSU vs. Clemson for championship: No. 1 LSU crushed No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 3 Clemson survived No. 2 Ohio State in Saturdays' College Football Playoff semifinals to set up a Jan. 13 championship game. That means two full weeks to savor Nick Saban not being in it.

3. ORANGE BOWL: Florida, Virginia go at it Monday night: The No. 9 Gators (10-2) are a big two-touchdown favorite over the No. 24 Cavaliers (9-4) at Hard Rock Stadium. The hometown Hurricanes might have been in this OB had they not monumentally choked in the last two games of the season.

4. DOLPHINS: Miami ends sacrificial season with win in New England: Dolphins sacrificed the 2019 season for the future by trading talent for draft picks, with lots of losing part of the exchange. Today, the misery ended happily in Foxborough with a 27-24 upset win. And now the countdown begins: 116 days until the April 23-25 NFL Draft.

5. HEAT: Hot Heat keep sizzling along: Miami is now 24-8, and 15-1 at home, after last night's OT escape vs. Philadelphia and entering a Monday date at Washington. No more scrambling for an eighth seed. Thinking top four. Eastern finals, even?

6. INTER MIAMI: Finally! MLS team to welcome new coach Monday: Uruguayan Diego Alonso, 44, recently coach of Mexico's CF Monterrey until his firing September 30, will be introduced Monday as new coach of MLS expansion team Inter Miami. he new coach of Inter Miami. There had been speculation about bigger-name coaches. Is Alonso up to the task? 

7. NFL: Five teams alive for last two playoffs spots: The Super Bowl tournament leading to Miami has 10 of 12 invites sewn up. Today, the Eagles (likely) or Cowboys will claim the final NFC spot, and the Titans (likely), Steelers or Raiders will by the last AFC team in. (Wonder of the Dolphins will ever be in this conversation again?)

8. PANTHERS: Cats (narrowly) back on playoff pace: Florida is 19-18 after last night's 5-4 home ice win over Detroit. Cats are presently on playoff pace by a one-point margin as they host Montreal today then set out on a four-game roadie.

9. UM HOOPS: Now it gets serious for Canes men, women: No. 24-ranked and 8-3 Canes women open ACC play vs. Wake Forest today and have top-10s Florida State and Louisville upcoming. The Miami men, also 8-3 but unranked, visit Clemson Tuesday and host No. 4 Duke and and travel to No. 3 Louisville in the next week.

10. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Gonzaga sixth men's No. 1 to lose: Michigan State. Kentucky. Duke. Louisville. Kansas. Now Gonzaga. That's six No. 1-ranked teams to lose. The record for most different No 1-ranked schools in a season is seven set in 1982-83. Ohio State could be next in the top spot. Uh oh.

Missing the HB10 cut: An early Happy New Year to all! .....We're miserable! The Florida Panthers are No. 5 and the Miami Dolphins No. 7 in ESPN's latest annual Fan Misery Index. The Marlins are 28th among the 123 Big Four league teams. Only the Heat fare well, at 116th. Sacramento Kings are the dubious No. 1 and of the course the damned Patriots are last, meaning first ..... Dallas and Nashville will meet outdoors on New Year's Day in the NHL Winter Classic in the Cotton Bowl ..... Free agency has hit World Team Tennis, for those of you who had forgotten World team Tennis still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,366 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Additional select recent columns: Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick / 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 / 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

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

December 12, 2019

Minor bowl, small foe, but here's why Hurricanes need to prove something in a game that should be beneath them -- but isn't. New column; plus tonight's Jets-Ravens pick, NFL Week 14 Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated Herald NFL QB rankings & more

1) It's THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12. Scroll to the previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. They may surprise you. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at Jets with DSM postgame poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Tonight's Jets-Ravens pick: Do you believe in miracles?: It wold be perhaps the upset of the season if the Jets won in Baltimore tonight. See if it'll happen here: NFL Week 15 Thursday Gem.

Updated Herald NFL QB rankings: There's a new No. 1 in the season lead with three weeks left in the Miami Herald NFL quarterback rankings, while a non-contender for the season crowns wins the Week 14 title. Visit Herald Week 14 NFL QB Rankings for details and the Top 20 chart plus Dolphins.

MINOR BOWL GAME. SMALL OPPONENT. BUT HERE'S WHY CANES NEED TO WIN: Manny Diaz has set out on one of the greatest challenges of his college football coaching career: Trying to pretend how happy he is that his Miami Hurricanes are headed to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. Excuse me. Make that the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl. The title sponsor is Indbowla badly named southern chain of Cajun-themed bistro/bars. Except they spell bistro “bistreaux.” Of course they do. Previous Independence Bowl name sponsors have included the Poulan Weed-Eater, Rubbermaid and Duck Commander, so consider this an upgrade of sorts. The aspiring-to-second-tier bowl has been around 44 years and last hosted a ranked team in 1997. If you are a five-time national championship program that finds itself playing in the Independence Bowl, you would just as soon it not be televised or publicized in any way. Interesting to note that Diaz has not tweeted a word about how thrilled he is to be bringing his 6-6 team to face smaller-conference Louisiana Tech on Dec. 26. Be honest. As high honors go, the Canes facing the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the Independence Bowl is closer to an indignity. I asked Diaz on a Monday teleconference call how he motivates his guys for this game when Miami obviously had much bigger bowls in mind before laying down to end the season with losses to FIU and Duke. Quick aside: FIU beat UM 31-24 (and it wasn’t that close). FIU lost this season to Louisiana Tech 43-31. "It should have to do with our standard," Diaz answered. "Your habits, the way that you work, getting to define what our consistency of performance is — being the same team week in, week out. When we begin to realize the opponent is always ourselves, that’s a big step forward in this program." Diaz and his staff are deep into recruiting these days — clearly and smartly a bigger priority than this bowl game. Early signing day is December 18. UM’s 2020 class, Diaz’s first as head coach, is ranked No. 15 by ESPN as of Monday. But there are reasons why this bowl game is big, too. To read my latest full column, please visit Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes.

Our other most recent work:Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft andOff Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite. Also: 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.

PicksLoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 14: TOUGH WEEK ALL-AROUND, FOLKS: NFL picks -- Not braggin'. We were an OK 10-6 overall but sputtered home at 5-9-2 against the spread last week, our worst week of the season ATS. Had a pair of 'dogs-with-points in covers by Dolphins and Giants but not a lot else went right. Missed two ATS hits by one points. The two ties were pushes by the Vikings and Bucs. ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- I'm out. Greg's Lobos entered the playoffs 8-5 as the No. 5 seed but lost in the first round to Stugotz by 113.6 to 77.8. I picked a bad week for a bad week as eight of my nine players performed below their projections -- including season MVL Patrick Mahomes. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- I'm out there, too. Lobos made the playoffs at 7-6 as the No. 5 seed but lost in the opening round, 128-100. Got 27 from MVL Deshaun Watson (who edged Dalvin Cook for the honor), but it wasn't enough. Oh well. On to next year. Go 'Bos!

Select other recent columns: 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! / Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick / 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

December 10, 2019

G13: Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at New York Stinkin' Jets; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated). See who's No.1 and what else ranks where & more

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 9. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 14 picks & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft and Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite.

MianyjG13: N.Y. STINKIN' JETS 22, DOLPHINS 21: MIAMI LIVES, DIES BY FIELD GOAL: Miami settled for a team-record seven field goals and lost when Jets kicked one of their own on final play -- after a controversial reversal on a pass-interference call against the Fins ..... Original post: This is first time this season that Miami has not been a double-digit underdog on the road. (Hey, sometimes progress comes in small packages!) A couple of things make this a very tough pick Oldprogrambetween the 3-9 Fins and 4-8 Jets. First, the Jets are wildly erratic under Adam Gase. They can be credible; they'd won three in a row. Then last week they get blown out by the winless Bengals. Which NYJ will show up? Second, there are sharply conflicting trends here. For example, the Dolphins have won six of the past seven in this rivalry (including 26-18 in Week 9) and eight of the past 11 trips to NYJ. But Miami also has lost 11 of its past 12 road games overall. The Fins catch break by the likely injury absence of top Planes safety Jamal Adams, with RB Le'Veon Bell also iffy to play. But does that mean inconsistent Ryan Fitzpatrick and the inconsistent Fins can produce the same performance on the road as the one that stunned Philly at home last week? The Jets’ superior defense and Miami’s poor offensive line and lack of running game tilt this pick. The point spread (five points) is fat, though. I mean these are the Stinkin’ Jets. Cote’s pick: NYJ 23-20. See Week 14 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.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: VOTE NOW!: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 77.4 percent approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 22-21 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 3-10. 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.

Next poll: Dec. 15 following game at N.Y. Giants.

Most recent other work: 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.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 8-9): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUTOur blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature -- back after taking last week off -- 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. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Championship Weekend sets playoff's final four: On Saturday No. 1 Ohio State won the Big Ten, No. 2 LSU won the SEC and No. 3 Clemson won the ACC, nailing down three-fourths of the College Football Playoff. Only question was who would be fourth? Answer: Oklahoma. The semifinals: LSU-Oklahoma and Ohio State-Clemson. No Alabama or Nick Saban. Ain't it great!?

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lose heartbreaker at Stinkin' Jets: Miami lost when a controversial pass-interference reversal went against the Fins and gave NYJ an easy winning field goal on the final play. Brian Flores was livid. But when you settle for a team-record seven field goals, should you complain too loudly that you lost?

3. HEAT: Miami stays hot, readies for LeBron visit: The Heat are sailing along at 17-6 -- including a perfect 10-0 at home -- after Sunday's home win over Chicago. Erik Spoelstar would tell you his team mustn't look ahead. But that doesn't mean we can't. Here on Friday night: the NBA-leading Los Angeles Lakers led by Anthony Davis and some guy named LeBron James.

4. HURRICANES: Miami to Independence Bowl, other destinations: Sunday was bowl invitations day nationwide in college football, and the Canes are headed to play Louisiana tech Dec. 26 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Also notable: Florida-Virginia in Orange Bowl Dec. 30; FSU-Arizona State in Sun Bowl Dec. 31; UCF-Marshall in Gasparilla Dec. 23; FIU-Arkansas State in Camellia Dec. 21; and FAU-SMU in Boca Raton Bowl Dec. 21.

5. MARLINS: Fish add offensive pop with two (fairly) big gets: Ahead of the Dec. 8-12 baseball winter meetings the Marlins acquired versatile infielder Jonathan Villar from Baltimore for a minor-league pitcher and signed former Tampa Bay first baseman Jesus Aguilar off waivers. Villar, 28, had a career year in 2019, with 24 homers, 40 stolen bases, a .279 bat and 4.0 WAR. Aguilar fell of last year but was an all-star in '18 with 35 homers and 108 RBIs. Good moves, Fish.

6. INTER MIAMI: Team signs top goalkeeper, close on coach hire: MLS expansion team Inter Miami, its inaugural season just a few months away, signed goalkeeper Luis Robles, who is 35 but coming off a stellar season with 14 shutouts for the league's New York Red Bulls. Next major step: a coach. Finally, please? Patrick Vieira of French cub Nice is the latest big rumor.

7. PANTHERS: OK, are we worried about Bobrovsky yet?: The Panthers are 15-14 after winning two straight and are seventh in the conference -- the far edge of playoff pace. That despite being one of NHL's top-10 scoring teams. So what's the problem? Defense, especially new, high-priced goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, of the career-worst saves percentage and goals-against average. Pick it up, Bob!

8. LANE KIFFIN: FAU coach headed back to SEC with Ole Miss: Three seasons in Boca Raton with the Owls were enough, apparently, to convince a Power 5 conference team to let Lane Kiffin back in. Saturday Kiffin coached FAU to a win in the Conference USA championship game, then changed hats and headed to Ole Miss in a return to the SEC. He's colorful, great on Twitter. Pretty good coach, too.

9. LIONEL MESSI: Barcelona star wins sixth Ballon d'Or: Barca god Lionel Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or as international men's futbol player of the year -- and immediately volunteered that he is aware of his age (32) and sees retirement coming. Hopefully by "retirement," he means a few years' swan song in MLS with Inter Miami? 

10. CANES BASKETBALL: UM women face tumble from rankings: Katier Meier's No. 21-ranked squad figures to drop from the Top 25 after falling to 5-3 with a home loss to No. 14 Indiana, making UM 0-3 vs. ranked teams. Canes men also  are 5-3.

Missing the HB10 cut: Former Canes coach Al Golden accuses UM of libel and negligence in a lawsuit against the university set for trial early next year, Palm Beach radio station WMEN reported. Allegations he is owed money from his 2015 buyout is the crux of the matter. Golden hopes his verdict in court exceeds his results on the field while at UM ..... Knicks firing David Fizdale = shameless scapegoating ..... OK, Houston and James Harden got screwed out of a dunk. Get over it, already! ..... Congrats on the second kid, Erik Spoelstra ..... It's 75 days until Homestead hosts another NASCAR race ..... Update: Countdown now 2,387 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: 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 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 16, 2019

The best will race for title at Homestead Sunday, but here is what NASCAR is lacking and needs. New column; plus NFL Week 11 picks for Dolphins-Bills and the rest, are suddenly winning Fins failing at failing? & more

1) It's SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16. A bout of laryngitis had me off the air Friday on the Le Batard Show. Sorry. Hope to be back Tuesday for my regular co-host slot. 2) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins earn upset win at Indy with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, NFL Week 10 picks, Le Batard Countdown Clock & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksDOLPHINS-BILLS, UPSETS, WATSON VS. JACKSON AND THE REST: OUR NFL WEEK 11 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 not great at 7-6 overall but not bad also at 7-6 against the spread. We bull’s-eyed yet another Upset of the Week pick (“Aawwk!”) with Seahawks winning Monday night at previously unbeaten San Fran, nailed another outright upset with Steelers over Rams, and also had a pair of ‘dogs-with-points in road covers by the Dolphins and Cardinals. Now here are our Week 11 picks, including Bills at Dolphins at, Game of the Week (Texans-Ravens a.k.a. Deshaun Watson vs. Lamar Jackson), upsets and all the rest. Please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 11 Gems. We misfired badly last night in seeing an upset win by Steelers in Cleveland to get our week off to a bumpy start. Que sera, sera. Let's rally!

NascarVROOOM! NASCAR AT HOMESTEAD: GREAT FINAL RACE. BUT HERE IS WHAT'S  MISSING: NASCAR's Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway has the year's top four drivers competing for the 2019 season championship in 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 final 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 schedule. Sunday's Championship 4 is a really good one, yet NASCAR is missing something. 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.

FinswinAFTER 20 YEARS OF NOT WINNING, THE MIAMI DOLPHINS ARE SUDDENLY FAILING AT FAILING, TOO?: Nineteen consecutive seasons without an NFL playoff victory establishes beyond reasonable debate that the Miami Dolphins have been averse to winning for, well, for pretty much the entire 21st Century. Now here comes the scary part. After two decades of not winning anything, the Fins are now even failing at failing. Here is the franchise that boldly and strategically decimated its roster — swapping talent for future draft picks — to be bad enough to select high enough to get its magic quarterback. To abide pain and embarrassment now in exchange for big winning down the road. And what do they do at the midsection of the season? They suddenly forget to fail. They win their way out of the top of the draft. And the Weirdest Season gets weirder as Dolphins fans who rationalized seeing the good in being 0-7 now wring hands nervously at 2-7 after Miami stacked Sunday’s 16-12 victory at Indianapolis on top of the previous week’s win over the rival Jets. This is the genesis of my latest column, in which I explore how the Dolphins now stand in the race for the overall 2020 No. 1 draft pick and their choice of quarterbacks. To read that column in full, please visit After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing?

WITH MIAMI, FIU OFF, A LIGHT SATURDAY SLATE FOR STATE FBS TEAMS: The Hurricanes and FIU are off this week, awaiting next Saturday's neutral site meeting at Marlins Park. FAU and UCF also are off, meaning only three of seven state FBS teams are in action: No. 10 Florida at Missouri, noon; Alabama State at Florida State, noon; and No. 20 Cincinnati at South Florida, 7. (Gators are modest 6 1/2-point favorites). 

Our other most recent work: The Player Who Started the Glory Days for Canes Football / 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.

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