August 16, 2019

Why Canes took bold gamble with Jarren Williams at QB. New column; plus Trump fundraiser causing major fallout for Dolphins' owner Ross, latest 'Back In My Day' video (Fake Candles!) & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, AUGUST 16. Back from our glorious vacation! Nine days in New Mexico, Arizona and California. More on that to come, inevitably. 2) Look for the return of the Hot Button Top 10 this coming Sunday after a two-week hiatus. 3) It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): I'm outta here! Off on vacation & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

WHY CANES TOOK THE BOLD (BUT SMART) GAMBLE ON JARREN WILLIAMS AT QB: Manny Diaz said the other day that the biggest signing in his first months as Miami Hurricanes head coach Jwmswas not a player, not anybody who would be in uniform on the football field. "The best recruit we signed was Dan Enos," he said. We saw why this week as UM stunned most folks by awarding its starting quarterback job to Jarren Williams (pictured). It was a reminder of the essential importance of a head coach having a lieutenant who can be relied upon to lend an experienced, trusted voice. The Hurricanes’ offense was mired in the bog of bad quarterbacking last season in the combination of Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry. A strong defense was wasted in the 7-6 season. Yet the highly recruited Williams was invisible at a time when his spark might have turned a season around. He couldn’t get in a game. (Well, OK, he got in one. Played garbage time against cupcake Savannah State, going 1 for 3 for 17 yards). Why? Because then-coach Mark Richt was too busy waffling between Rosier and Perry to notice Williams’ talent or grow it. And Richt had nobody on his staff to either champion Williams or tell the head coach he was wrong to not give him a shot. Richt’s quarterback coach last season? His oldest son, Jon. The missteps at quarterback that collapsed the 2018 season led to Richt’s abrupt resignation, Diaz’s return to The U from a brief few weeks at Temple — and to Enos. Diaz’s first major decision upon his return to UM was to understand he’s a rookie head coach versed in defense, and needed to hit big on the offensive coordinator. Plenty of coaches’ egos wouldn’t allow that concession. Enos was hired off Nick Saban’s Alabama staff, where he ran the offense, coached the QBs and helped developed Tua Tagovailoa (the Dolphins’ dream get in 2020) and Jalen Hurts. That is hitting big. And that is why Williams will be the Canes’ starting quarterback in the Aug. 24 opener vs. rival Florida in Orlando — even though Williams was not the easiest, safest, most experienced or most expected choice. I explain how and why that came to be in my latest column. To read, kindly visit Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QB

RosstrumpDOLPHINS' ROSS GAMBLED HE COULD HAVE IT BOTH WAYS -- AND LOST BIG: Those of us with lighter wallets can only imagine that when one is wealthy enough to have it all, that luxury might come with a sense of entitlement. Of expecting to have it both ways, all ways, any way the billionaire desires. Doesn’t always work that way, of course, as Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross is being reminded. Ross’ net worth is estimated at $7.7 billion, but he doesn’t have enough money to buy his way out of this controversy of his own design, this distraction his football team hardly needs as it prepares for the NFL season. You still say sports and politics don’t mix? Ross just mixed them, and with combustible results. OK, that's the intro to my recent back-from vacation column, on Ross hosting a fundraiser for Donald Trump's re-election campaign, and the resulting fallout. (The two buddies are pictured). The fallout Ross is enduring includes calls for boycotts of his businesses, criticism from Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, and public disappointment within his own Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE). To read the full column, kindly visit Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser.

Previous most recent columns: Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / Analyzing QB Battles for Hurricanes, Dolphins, and Why These Players Will Win / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': FAKE CANDLES!: This premiered on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio, to rather rave reviews, I must say...:

Select other recent columns: Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

August 01, 2019

R.I.P. Nick Buoniconti (1940-2019). New column; plus Dolphins, Canes' QB battles: And the winners are...; also, we talk Greg Cote Day on ESPN Radio (with videos) & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, AUGUST 1. Farewell July and welcome Augie, when the football games begin! 2) ) It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, thank you Fort Myers & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Talking 'Greg Cote Day' on  Le Batard Show: Thank you again Fort Myers! To the minor-league Miracle ballclub and to all of the fans who turned out Saturday night for Greg Cote Day. We were humbled to be honored at such a truly ridiculous event. Loads o' fun!  We discussed on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio. For that conversation, plus videos from the event, go HERE. 

NickbBUONICONTI'S LEGACY: GREAT ON THE FIELD, GREATER OFF IT: Nick Buoniconti, the first big, established star in Miami Dolphins franchise history, has died at age 78 after a life so much bigger than football. Buoniconti passed away Tuesday night in hospice care after a years-long struggle with dementia that his family believes was brought on by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain injury that can result from football-related trauma. His impact on the field was great, as a Hall of Famer who played a key role as the captain and driving force of the famed "No-Name Defense" in the Dolphins’ historic 1972 Perfect Season and in the repeat Super Bowl championship in 1973. But his impact off the field was even greater. He founded the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and the Buoniconti Fund after his son, Marc, had been paralyzed while playing college football, helping raise some $500 million for the Miami Project. And, right to the end, his going public about his own dementia raised awareness of CTE and its link to football-related brain trauma. For my full column on the passing of a Dolphins great, kindly visit Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field

Umqbs MiaqbsDOLPHINS, CANES STARTING QUARTERBACK BATTLES: AND THE WINNERS ARE...: There is no proverbial-on-the-job "honeymoon" for Manny Diaz or Brian Flores to enjoy. They take over the Miami Hurricanes and Miami Dolphins as rookie head coaches under uncommon pressure — for different reasons, and for one that is the same. Diaz must live up to expectations of the Canes that are very high for a team that went 7-6 last year, and he faces a rugged opener as underdogs to the top-10 Florida Gators on Aug. 24 in Orlando. Flores must disprove expectations of the Dolphins that are gutter-low, and somehow survive a brutal opening-month schedule vs. the Ravens, Patriots, Cowboys and Chargers — every one a 2018 playoff team. But first, each must not mess up the first major on-field decision of his head coaching career, the one you simply have to get right. It is rare for an NFL or major college team to have a truly open quarterback competition carry this deep into summer, into training camp, with games looming. Miami has two of them, with Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Josh Rosen on the pro side, and N’Kosi Perry vs. Tate Martell vs. Jarren Williams across town in Coral Gables. OK. Those are the bones of my newest column, the intro. To read the full column -- how I think both battles will play out, who'll win the jobs and why -- kindly visit Analyzing QB Battles for Hurricanes, Dolphins, and Why These Players Will Win. Pictured left: UM's Perry (5) and Martell (18). Pictured right: Fins' Rosen (sans helmet) and Fitzpatrick.

Our previous week's columns: How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Le Batard Headed Back On The Air / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / and In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence.

Other most recent columns: Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / and Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever.

Select other columns: Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

July 27, 2019

How Flores won Dolphins' respect before ever coaching a game. New column; plus it's Greg Cote Day!, latest on Le Batard drama, countdown to Canes-Gators opener, NFL's weak lenience on Tyreek Hill, return of 'Soup of the Day' (with video), The List & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 27. It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Greg Cote Day countdown, meet the Highwomen & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Latest update on Le Batard/ESPN drama: Dan Le Batard met Thursday with ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro and evidently emerged unpunished for last week's on-air rebuke of President Trump in violation of the network's no-political-talk policy. Visit Le Batard Headed Back On The Air for the latest.

Gcday2It's Greg Cote Day!: We began a 10-day countdown to Greg Cote Day on Saturday, July 27 at Hammond Stadium, home of the minor-league Fort Myers Miracle, and it's now that day! (Always said that for me to have a Greg Cote Day would take a Miracle, so I was right). I'll be meeting fans, throwing out the first pitch, singing the national anthem and playing left field. All but one of those four things is actually true. Will I see you there? It's just a couple of hours west of South Florida. Tickets are going fast. Well, I don't really know if they are or not. But they might be! In any case click HERE for the link to buy yours.

BfloresFLORES IN COMMAND OF HIS TEAM AS DOLPHINS OPEN CAMP: Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick today from the first practice of Dolphins preseason training camp, on rookie head coach Brian Flores: "A great demeanor. Very genuine. He’s coming from a good place and the right place. He’s got the attention, command and respect of the team, and that can be hard for a first-year head coach." Flores, a four-time champion from the Bill Belichick tree, seems comfortably in charge as a first-time head coach. It is fair for Dolfans to wonder if Flores will be a good coach. I might prefer to wonder if he might be a great one. I have a feeling the Fins have finally hit on the right guy. To read my newest column in full, kindly visit How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game.

CanesqbsONE MONTH AWAY, CANES-GATORS FULL OF HIGH STAKES, VINTAGE ACRIMONY. COLUMN: Let the one-month countdown begin, because four weeks of hype is not too much for this. Miami Hurricanes. Florida Gators. Neutral site. Two old rivals. Two pedigreed programs trying to be great again. Two high-aiming teams acting pretty cocky and trying to build evidence why they should be. As the Canes begin preseason practice Friday night working toward the Aug. 24 opener in Orlando, we’ve already been reminded why we’ve missed what used to be UM’s greatest rivalry. Miami and the hated Gators played every season for a half century, through 1987, but next month will be meeting for only the seventh time since and the first time in six years. Meantime the battle is on to see who'll start at quarterback in that game, with a still-unsettled competition led by returner N'Kosi Perry and transfer Tate Martell (pictured left to right). I whet the appetite for Canes football season in my recent column. To read it in full, please visit Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin.

ThillON NFL'S ODD LENIENCE TOWARD TYREEK HILL. COLUMN: The NFL routinely suspends for instances of domestic violence even when the accused is not prosecuted. It happened again just Monday when the league banned Seattle's Jarran Reed six games  even though he was never arrested or charged. So why did Kansas City star receiver Tyreek Hill get no suspension from the NFL -- not even a game or two? Even though he has pleaded guilty to hitting and injuring his then-pregnant girlfriend, has been investigated for child abuse, and is heard on a more recent audiotape threatening that same woman? It seems like odd, unjust lenience -- a non-sentence that stunned the league. We explore why in our recent column. To read it in full, kindly visit In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence.

Our previous other most recent columns: Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / and Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever.

THE LIST: FORBES' 2019 MOST VALUABLE SPORTS TEAMS: Forbes' 2019 list of 50 most valuable sports teams in the world includes 26 from the NFL, nine from MLB, eight from soccer and seven from the NBA. Here are the top 10, plus state of Florida teams in the 50, with all dollar figures in billions:

1. Dallas Cowboys $5.0

2. New York Yankees 4.6

3. Real Madrid C.F. 4.24

4. FC Barcelona 4.02

5. New York Knicks 4.0

6. Manchester United F.C. 3.81

7. New England Patriots 3.8

8. Los Angeles Lakers 3.7

9. Golden State Warriors 3.5

10t. Los Angeles Dodgers 3.3

10t. New York Giants 3.3

33. Miami Dolphins 2.58

49. Jacksonville Jaguars 2.08

RETURN OF 'SOUP OF THE DAY': MOON SOUP: Back In My Day and Soup of the Day are my occasional benchmark segments on the Le Batard Show. Hadn't done Soup of the Day in a long while, but brought it back yesterday. Enjoy: 

Select other recent columns: On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

July 20, 2019

On the Le Batard-gets-political/ESPN controversy. New column; plus 4 ways Heat have had winning summer, is everyone wrong about Dolphins?, why 2019 could be best sports year ever, Greg Cote Day countdown, latest Back In My Day (Apps!), Moon Landing & more

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

Moon1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 20. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. The United States' Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the moon  on July 20, 1969. I remember watching as a boy. That was a time of widespread protest against the Vietnam War across the country, and the Moon Landing felt a little bit like healing, a reason for Americans to feel good about their country. 2) It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Gcday 7Greg Cote Day countdown: 7 days: We began a 10-day countdown to Greg Cote Day on Saturday, July 27 at Hammond Stadium, home of the minor-league Fort Myers Miracle, and it's now seven days to go. I'll be meeting fans, throwing out the first pitch, singing the national anthem and playing left field. All but that last thing are actually true. Will I see you there? Tickets are going fast. Well, I don't really know if they are or not. In any case click HERE for the link to buy yours. (Click image for larger version).

DanlLE BATARD REBUKES TRUMP, ESPN'S NO-POLITICS POLICY. NEW COLUMNThis isn’t the first time Miami-based ESPN star Dan Le Batard has defied his network and faced consequences. It happened in 2014, when the radio and television host was suspended two days for buying billboards in Cleveland that needled LeBron James — "You’re Welcome, LeBron. Love, Miami" — after he’d left the Heat. That was playful. This isn’t. Le Batard on Thursday took on the president of the United States and his own network’s no-political-talk policy in a fiery, four-minute rebuke of both Donald Trump and ESPN management’s stick-to-sports edict. His voice emotional, Le Batard called it "deeply offensive" that a Trump crowd chanted "send her back" at a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday night, a chant directed at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee who now is a U.S. citizen representing Minnesota. Le Batard accused trump of instigating racial division and called the chant "un-American." And called his own network's stick-to-sports policy "cowardly." He was back on the air Friday (no mention of the controversy), but faces a possible suspension. I dive into the whole thing in today's latest column. To read, please visit Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy.

Priley4 REASONS HEAT HAS HAD WINNING OFFSEASON -- AND RILEY MAY NOT BE DONEThey could close the summer ledger right now and claim victory. What was supposed to be a dead summer in South Florida for Heat activity ended up delightfully noisy. Pat Riley (pictured) somehow maestro’d a four-team trade to get genuine star talent in Jimmy Butler despite being salary cap-strapped. The Heat essentially got Butler for Josh Richardson, a swap that by itself makes the Heat better and competitive in an Eastern Conference now looking refreshingly wide open. Three other ways the Heat won: Unloading Hassan Whiteside. Declining to give up too much in order to get Russell Westbrook. And saying no to Chris Paul. Now, might Riley still find a way to land Bradley Beal? I explore all of this in my recent column. To read it, please visit The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason.

BfloresPILING ON! ESPN LATEST TO CALL DOLPHINS THE WORST. BUT, IS EVERYBODY WRONG?: The idea of the Miami Dolphins as snakebit in their recent history has only been underlined, not alleviated, this summer. The NFL season is right around the corner, but for this team what’s around the corner always seems to be a blindside punch waiting to land. Training camp is mere days away — rookies report Sunday and veterans next Wednesday — but the Fins are losing before they ever hit the football field. Miami lost a defensive tackle candidate, Kendrick Norton, to a terrible truck accident that caused his left arm to be amputated. Days later assistant head coach Jim Caldwell announced he would take a medical leave of absence and miss the entire 2019 season to address health issues. Now — and this should be a piling-on penalty — ESPN has calculated in its new NFL Future Power Rankings that the Dolphins not only are No. 32 (dead last) right now but will be for the next three years. I explore all this, and say why I think Miami will be much better than expected, in my recent column. One reason for my optimism, new coach Brian Flores, is pictured. To read our latest column, please visit What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins?

2019WHY 2019 IS LOOKING LIKE SPORTS' BEST YEAR EVERYou know it when you are watching it, not just watching but feeling it. Sports has that power. Suddenly, what might have been an ordinary, forgettable competition blooms into something epic, something that will leave its mark on the history of that sport, and on your memory. We have  been full of that stuff in sports this year, and the calendar is barely half done.That's why I think this shapes up to be the greatest. Tom Brady's sixth Super Bowl. Tiger Woods' Masters win. First-time champions in the NBA, NHL and men's college basketball. League-changing NBA free agency. U.S. women winning a record fourth World Cup. The Angels' no-hitter the night they honored a fallen teammate. Right through to Sunday and Novak Djokovic's epic five-hour Wimbledon win over Roger Federer. Oh, and the Cricket World Cup! (Yes, cricket...) And so much more. I explore fall of this -- the wonder and joy and surprise of sports -- in my recent column. To read it, kindly visit: Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever.

Our previous most recent columns: On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Heat's Run At Westbrook Is Riley's All-Out Gamble To Win Now and Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': APPS!: This video includes quite a bit of chatter leading into the new Back in My Day and a little bit afterward. The actuall BIMD kicks in around the 3:10 mark:

THE LIST: FIRST-TIME NBA, NHL CHAMPS IN SAME YEAR: What happened this year in basketball and hockey is a rarity, and one of the many reasons I like 2019 as the best sports year ever (see above). The only times since 1970 that the NBA and NHL have had a first-time franchise champion the same year:

Year        NBA champion                    NHL champion

2019       Toronto Raptors                  St. Louis Blues

2006       Miami Heat                         Carolina Hurricanes

1999       San Antonio Spurs               Dallas Stars

1991       Chicago Bulls                      Pittsburgh Penguins

Select other recent columns: Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

July 15, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 in a wide-open week and what else lands where; plus our Serena column & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 15. Football season almost here, so it's the perfect time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Serena denied again, Heat lose out on Westbrook, USWNT is polarizing but that's good, U.S tennis finds next star in Coco Gauff & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our columns from past week: Tennis (2), Heat (2) and Soccer: On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Heat's Run At Westbrook Is Riley's All-Out Gamble To Win Now and Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami loses out on Westbrook, but is the loss really a win?: Heat once seemed the frontrunner to trade with Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook, the last available big prize of summer, to pair him with Jimmy Butler. Then Houston swooped and got Russ instead. Why? Miami wouldn't part with both Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Smart. Sometimes the best trade is the one not made. Meantime, Heat narrowly missed Summer League playoffs with Saturday's 101-100 OT loss to Pelicans after resting a bunch of guys including Herro. Which tells you how inconsequential Summer league really is.

2. TENNIS: Epic Wimbledon men's final after Serena fails to tie majors record: Wimbledon's championship weekend began Saturday with Serena Williams gunning for her 24th career major to  tie the all-time record -- and failing miserably in a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Simona Halep. Sunday it was Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in a heavyweight men's finale -- Djokovic winning in a tiebreak after a 12-12 fifth set to end the longest men's final in tournament history. Epic!

3. SOCCER: Celebration (mostly!) of U.S. women's team continues: Winning the World Cup, a ticker-tape parade in New York City, honored at the ESPY Awards, and now a five-city Victory Tour starting Aug. 3 in Los Angeles with a friendly vs. Ireland. Heady days for Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and crew. Hasn't been all cheers though as conservatives try to come to grips (or not) with a team of strong women who rep LBGTQ rights, equal pay and other progressive activism. If you aren't proud of this team, hey, that's on you

4. MARLINS: Second half of season underway for Fish: Marlins are 1-2 since the All-Star Break in midst of a six-game homestand. At 34-57 (.374), Fish are on pace to finish 61-101. And you are officially having a bad season when the big drama is whether you'll loss under 100 games. MLB trade deadline is end of this month. Bats, please.

5. GOLF: British Open closes majors season this week: Golf's 148th British Open -- snobbily called "The Open," officially -- begins this coming Thursday in Northern Ireland. Rory McIlroy from the host nation and Brooks Koepka are co-favorites at 8-1, followed by Dustin Johnson at 12-1. Tiger Woods slid to 16-1, perhaps because he hasn't played for five weeks and because, despite winning The Masters, public trust that he's truly back is fragile as balsa-wood stilts.

6. MLB: Baseball back to work after All-Star break: Baseball is back to work following its All-Star break. The AL won the All-Star Game for the seventh straight year and nobody cared, not even the AL. In the Home Run Derby the Mets' Pete Alonso outslugged the Blue Jays' Vlad Guerrero Jr., although I use "outslugged" generously. I mean, are we supposed to be impressed these guys can go yard against 40 mph "fastballs" tossed by their Dad?

7. INTER MIAMI: Fort Lauderdale complex gets green light: The city of Fort Lauderdale voted to officially green-light Inter Miami's development of the former Lockhart Stadium site as their training facility and temporary stadium. Allows construction to start on the 18,000-seat stadium to serve as their home for MLS matches the first two seasons starting next spring, until their permanent ground at Miami Freedom Park is built if it ever is. Now all they have to do is build the New Lockhart in well under a year. Good luck, fellas!

8. ESPN: Big winners and the one big loser at The ESPYs: ESPN's annual awards show to celebrate ESPN the sports year crowned NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo and U.S. soccer's Alex Morgan as best athletes, and Morgan's USWNT as best team. (They needed a best hair category for Megan Rapinoe). The night's big loser? Tracy Morgan as host. He will never emcee another awards show. Ever. I mean, not even at a local Rotary club.

9. DOLPHINS: Assistant coach taking the year off for his health: Fins assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, 64, announced he is taking a leave of absence for the 2019 NFL season to address an undisclosed health issue, but will serve as a consultant. "I will be stepping back due to some medical complications that require my full attention," he said. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Kendrick Norton, who suffered a career-ending amputation of his left arm in a truck accident, was reportedly at fault in the crash and cited by police, which seems a bit cruel to us. Best wishes for both men.

10. CRICKET: England wins its first Cricket World Cup crown: It was England vs. New Zealand Sunday in London for the ICC Cricket World Cup crown, with both countries seeking their first title. England was generally seen as a (very) narrow betting favorite to do what its women's soccer team failed to do last week -- and the Brits did so dramatically, winning in a Super-Over, the sport's equivalent of a penalty-kick shootout. Yes, we're talkin' cricket!

Missing the HB10 cut: The World Series of Poker main event's final table is down to five as play resumes Monday night in Vegas with Hossein Ensan still holding the chip lead. I don't know why, but "Hossein Ensan" sounds like a rank in the Navy ..... Angels toss no-hitter on night they honor pitcher Tyler Skaggs who'd died suddenly. Magical ..... The NBA is now the NBL.A., because it's all about Clippers' Kawhi Leonard and Paul George vs. Lakers' LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That should be the Finals. Start it tomorrow. Two-on-two, of course ..... Manny Pacquiao, 40, and unbeaten Keith Thurman fight this coming Saturday. I'm probably rooting for Pac Man, if only to derail any unfortunate momentum for another Pacquiao-Mayweather fight ..... In UFC, Jorge Masvidal wants to fight Conor McGregor. Based on what I know of each, can they both lose, please? ..... Ice Cube's Big3 basketball league is underway. That's where old former players try to show a disinterested NBA they've still got it. It's called the Big3 because "Has-Beens On Parade" sounded a bit harsh ..... The Tour de France continues. Current leader is a kid on an old Schwinn with baseball cards in the spokes ..... The FINA World Aquatics Championships are underway in South Korea. Sorry, but my contract says I only have to feign interest in swimming for two weeks once every four years ..... The WNBA All-Star Game is in two weeks. I'll watch, but only if one team includes Megan Rapinoe dribbling with her feet and lobbing a pass that Alex Morgan heads into the basket ..... Update: Countdown now 2,534 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

July 06, 2019

Sorry, LeBron. Looks like Kawhi to Clippers; plus U.S. beats England, reaches World Cup final. Column and Alex Morgan tea-sip vid; also, my new Florida Panthers column & more

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

Fourth1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 6. Hope y'all had a Happy Fourth of July, my fellow Americans! Don't always like my president. Always love my country. 2) Always football season around here, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat get Jimmy Butler, Megan Rapinoe owns World Cup, Hot Button Top 10, Raconteurs video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

My Megan Rapinoe, Jimmy Butler and Florida Panthers columns: It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field and Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again and New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY MY FELLOW AMERICANS: The country we love can be great, but only if we make it better:

Newbig3SORRY, LEBRON. NO LAST LAUGH. KAWHI REPORTEDLY HEADED TO CLIPPERS: Update: Sorry, LeBron. ESPN reporting Kawhi Leonard headed to Clippers. Original post: With the ball on his palm, in basketball IQ, in business dealings, in shaping his own brand, we should agree LeBron James is brilliant in in lots of ways. We have learned something new this summer, though. We have learned how astute James is at recognizing how the man in the mirror has changed. He is 34 now, relegated to third-team All-NBA last season. He is no longer the consensus best player in the league — not when age is factored. More significantly, he now seems content with not even being the best player on his team. This summer has been about James admitting he needs help. It has been about him orchestrating the end of his career, and making it easier for him to age gracefully, not desperately. It has been about him trying to make sure that epic career goes out on top — brilliant again, if he can pull it off. LeBron haters were reveling last season as the Lakers went 37-45 and missed the playoffs in his first season in L.A. What had he gotten himself into? Well, with Anthony Davis now beside him and Kawhi Leonard maybe joining him, too, LeBron is poised to have the ultimate last laugh. We explore more deeply in our newest column. To read, please visit Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron.

Alexm"LET'S GOOOOO STATES!" U.S. BEATS ENGLAND, REACHES WORLD CUP FINAL!: It took a winning goal by birthday girl Alex Morgan (pictured) yesterday to beat England 2-1 in France and vault the Americans into Sunday's Women's World Cup final. Also took two huge second half occurrences -- a review call that (properly) negated an England goal, and a U.S. goalkeeper save on a Brits penalty kick. Megan Rapinoe sat out with a hamstring injury. No problem, evidently. For my column off the game, please visit U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence. The United States national team has now rolled through this soccer World Cup with a 6-0 record, 24-3 goals differential, and having never trailed and been tied only twice once. In short the USWNT has shown why it is the reigning world champion and No. 1-ranked team as it guns for its fourth World Cup trophy. England has never won but had a best-ever third place finish four years ago. The Americans advance to play the finale vs. the winner of today's other semifinal: Netherlands-Sweden.

MORGAN SCORES WINNER, SIPS TEA: Alex Morgan's winning goal for U.S. Tuesday, followed by her sipping-tea celebration that conveys American arrogance to others which is why I love it. No, she is not pretending to take a puff from a joint! She is pretending to sip tea with pinky raised. Jolly good! Cheerio! 

Dtallon PrileyBIG SPLASH BY OLDIES RILEY, TALLON: I get to call Heat president Pat Riley and Panthers general manager Dale Tallon old because I'm old. And both veteran team builders were pouring like good wine this week as their teams stepped hard and well into NBA and NHL free agency. Riley, entering the summer seemingly capped-out and hands-tied, managed to get four-time all-star Jimmy Butler, keep Goran Dragic and unload Hassan Whiteside, all positives, and to do it gave up (player-wise) only Josh Richardson, whose rise stalled last season. (Read Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again). And Tallon made a bunch of smaller moves and one big one, landing goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, two-time Vezina Trophy winner, the best available in free agency and Florida's top target. (Read Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing. Good work by both men.

Other most recent columns: An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / Heat, Riley Need To Have Hit Big With Herro / Heat Can Only Watch As Seismic Talent Shift Quakes NBA / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him.

Select earlier recent columns: U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

June 29, 2019

U.S. beats France to reach World Cup semifinals! "Let's gooooo States!"; plus Panthers' Luongo retiring not unexpected but still seismic. My latest column; also, will Heat's Haslem be next to call it quits?, Willie Nelson's "Immigrant Eyes" video & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 29. Always football season around here, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, our (Tyler) Herro sandwich of columns & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

UswntU.S. RIDES RAPINOE INTO WORLD CUP SEMIFINALS!: U.S. beats host France 2-1 behind two more goals by Megan Rapinoe to reah Woemns' World Cup semifinals vs. England. Original post: A few thoughts on the U.S. women reaching the quarterfinals of the World Cup and next facing host France on Friday, after beating Spain 2-1 Monday in the round of 16. 1) Tired of hearing how the second U.S. penalty kick was a "soft call." American Rose Lavelle did not trip over her own feet in the box, nor the wind blow her over. She was tripped. It may have been inadvertent and the opponent's foot barely made contact, but barely counts. It was a PK call that survived VAR review. Move on. 2)  The U.S. survived as much as beat Spain, and that same effort/performance on Friday will not be good enough to beat France. It's also a shame that group pairings were such that the U.S. and France -- the two World Cup favorite -- would meet in the quarters and not later. Friday's game will feel like the championship match. 3) To beat France the Americans will need better individual play, especially from star Alex Morgan (pictured being fouled vs. Spain Thursday) and from goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and her defense. Morgan was unusually quiet and seemed bothered by Spain's close marking, fouling and aggression. And the defensive lapse that caused Spain's goal (Naeher's dumb short rollout to a defender closely marked and pickpocketed) was not the only mistake that led to Spanish chances. The U.S. is the best team in this tournament, but Thursday reminded the Americans are not unbeatable.

PANTHERS ALL-TIME GREAT LUONGO RETIRES. NEW COLUMN: Farewell, Roberto Luongo. A big piece of Florida Panthers history has faded to past tense. The man who guarded the Cats' goal Rluongofor more than twice as many games as anybody else said goodbye to hockey Wednesday afternoon, retiring at age 40 after 19 NHL seasons. With typical good humor Luongo announced his decision on Twitter by saying, "I’ve decided to take my talents to a South Beach retirement home." Cats fans in turn say goodbye to one of the most popular players in franchise history, an 11-season Panther from 2000 to 2006 and again from 2014 through this past season. He was the league’s active leader in games played and games won in goal, and made five all-star teams. All-time, Luongo is second in games played in goal, second in saves and third in wins. He is, in our view, a certain future Hall of Famer, and he’ll certainly get the ceremonial night he deserves from the club this coming season. Luongo, his wife Gina and their two kids live in Parkland, where he did all he could to help that community heal after the Stoneman Douglas tragedy. Look for Luongo to continue to have a role with the club in some capacity -- but off ice. "This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve faced in my life and it took me a long time to make it,” Luongo wrote in an open letter on NHL.com and the Panthers’ website. “After thinking about it a lot over the past two months and listening to my body, I made up my mind. It just feels like the right time for me to step away from the game." He said his kids Gianni and Gabriella cried when he told them. "We cried together," he said. The retirement was not unexpected given his age and declining production. Plus, the Panthers just drafted a goalie in the first round and are targeting another, Sergei Bobrovsky, in coming free agency. Still, though expected. Luongo's retirement hits heavy. An era ends. For my latest column, please visit An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires

UdUDONIS HASLEM TAKES A FLAMETHROWER TO THOSE WHO WANT HIM GONE: Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem can be fierce presence on the court but off it has always kept a low profile. Not this week! U.D. broke character Monday on Instagram with an angry rebuke for those critics and Heat fans who think it's time he retired, at 39, so Miami can use the roster spot on a younger guy who'd contribute more. A few thoughts. 1) He might retire, and doesn't need your help in deciding. If anything, in a life and career fueled by doubters, the more volume that he should retire, perhaps the less likely he is to do so. 2) Nobody who's the 14th or 15th man on any NBA roster is going to play or contribute much. 3) Haslem's contribution to the Heat cannot be measure in minutes or points or games played alone. His value as a lockerroom presence and mentor is palpable, only more so with Dwyane Wade retired. Haslem embodies Heat culture. He should be showed the respect to retire on his terms, at his time. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra are giving him that. So should all Heat fans.  I explore all of this and more in standing with Haslem in my recent column. To read it, kindly visit Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire.

Our previous week's columns: Heat introduces its top pick: Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It. From draft night: Heat, Riley Need To Have Hit Big With Herro. As free agency nears: Heat Can Only Watch As Seismic Talent Shift Quakes NBA. And, uh oh: O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him. Also: Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

WILLIE NELSON'S "IMMIGRANT SONG": The times we are living in have given rise to a new era of protest songs. Recently I mentioned Taylor Swift's bouncy pro-LGBTQ, anti-hate anthem "You Need to Calm Down." Here now is Willie Nelson's impassioned bid that we remember the ideals that helped found our nation. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses," is what we remember from school, of Emma Lazarus' The New Colossus poem. But my favorite part of that Statue Of Liberty inscription, "A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name is Mother of Exiles." Make this about politics if you must. For me, it is about heart,

Select other recent columns: Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

June 22, 2019

Drip or swag, Herro brings what Heat needs. New column; plus Riley needs to have hit big in draft, Panthers go goalie in draft, O.J. Simpson on Twitter and reaction, latest Back In My Day (Band-Aids!), Taylor Swift's message & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 22. Excited about the inaugural Miami Beach Pop Festival Nov. 8-10 on the sands of South Beach -- especially The Raconteurs, who are second-line on the bill but should be co-headliners. 2) Here's the new Back In My Day that premiered this week on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio/ESPNews: BIMD: Band-Aids! 3) Always football season, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, here: Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Father's Day, Taylor Swift anti-hate video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

TherroDRIP AND SWAG, SPARK AND SPLASH AS HEAT INTRODUCE HERRO: Tyler Herro’s personality can be loud. That we know already. Will his NBA game be just as loud? Half of the fun is in the finding out. Meantime let’s appreciate the personality while fans hope the skills back it up. We need it. The down Miami Heat franchise needs it. South Florida sports needs it. He boasted on draft night Thursday that he had “the most drip in the room” -- as a million older white folks like myself probably said, “What’d he just say? The most what!?” The most drip as in street slang for the most swagger. The most drip as in the floral purple jacket he wore to his entree into the NBA. The most drip as in the rope of gold chain around his neck, and the fat, blingy watch on his left wrist. His game backs it up. "He checks every single box," said Pat Riley on Friday as he introduced Herro. To read my newest column, please visit Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It

WHY HEAT, RILEY NEED TO HIT BIG WITH HERRO AS NO. 1 DRAFT PICK: The pressure isn't on Kentucky guard Tyler Herro to be great as much as it's on Heat president Pat Riley to have been spot-on in seeing greatness in the kid. Riley ended a draft slump by getting Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson in the previous two drafts. Now he needs to keep the run going with last night's bounty: Herro (pictured), whom most mock drafts pegged going a bit lower than 13th overall, and Stanford forward KZ Okpala, whom the Heat traded up to select in the second round. If either or both can become starters or at least promising rotation contributors -- if both show promise -- Miami's roster will look a lot better a year from now to available 2020 free agents when the Heat next has big money to spend. I explore all of this in my column on the pick. To read, visit Heat, Riley Need To Have Hit Big With Herro

THE LIST: HIGHEST HEAT DRAFT PICKS IN RILEY ERA: The Miami Heat's five highest NBA Draft selections of the Pat Riley era:

No.   Year   Player, Pos., School                         Draft grade

2      2008   Michael Beasley, F, Kansas State  D: 12.3 points over 4 seasons here. OK, but not for 2nd overall

5      2003   Dwyane Wade, G, Marquette          A+: Is an explanation really necessary?

10    2002   Caron Butler, F/G, UConn               B: Only 2 years here, but key player in trade that brought Shaq

10    2015   Justise Winslow, G/F, Duke             C: Grade still incomplete, but climbing. Coming off best season

13   2019   Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky                 ???: The fun is in the finding out

SpencerknightPANTHERS GO GOALIE IN NHL DRAFT: Florida Panthers Friday night selected America goaltender Spencer Knight, 18, with the 13th overall pick in the NHL Draft. Best goalie in the draft at a position of urgent need = smart pick. ESPN's scouting report: "The things that makes Knight (pictured) exceptional among his goaltending peers is elite hockey sense, tremendous athleticism balanced with controlled play, great footwork and size and elite puck-moving abilities. I don't put huge value on a goalie's puckhandling skills, but Knight's are so good it's hard not to mention. Knight has really grown a lot in his confidence and poise in the net. There's such little flash in Knight's game, and that's a good thing. He's just always in the right spot because he tracks and anticipates as well as any goalie prospect I've seen in the past few years." Cats still will pursue veteran all-star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in coming free agency. It all spells the likely end of the line for longtime Panther Roberto Luongo, a franchise great but now 40.   

PatdanceHEAT'S FALL FROM CENTER OF PARADE TO SPECTATORS: To quote the top of my own new column in what may or may not be a fit of narcissism: "We were the parade, once. Now we’re on the curb, watching. The NBA is somebody else’s party now. Miami has gone from epicenter to spectator. Basketball summers in South Florida were nearly as exciting as the seasons because Pat Riley and the Heat could be expected to be 'in the room' with top free agents. Now here we are, water all around us and not a whale in sight. Being out of the playoffs is bad enough. Being out of the mix might be worse." Tonight is the NBA Draft, then comes free agency -- basketball's big summer -- but the Heat (selecting 13th overall tonight) figures to be pretty quiet. I explore how and why in my recent column. To read, kindly visit Heat Can Only Watch As Seismic Talent Shift Quakes NBA. Pictured: Been a minute since Riley was happy enough to dance over the fortunes of his franchise. 

OjathomeO.J. SIMPSON IS ON TWITTER. UH OH: Disgraced former Bills star escapes on two murder charges, later serves nine years for armed robbery, is paroled, spends a couple of quiet years under the radar in Vegas and -- now -- reemerges on social media with a Twitter account @TheRealOJ32. "I got a little gettin' even to do," he says in his first video. Wants to "set the record straight," he says in another. What he really wants, obviously, to to remake his image into the good guy who did his time and now wants back into the mainstream. (A smiling O.J. is pictured outside his home in Las Vegas in a recent Los Angeles Times photo that accompanied an AP story headlined, '25 years after murders, O.J. says 'Life is fine'). Simpson isn't the first shamed celebrity to see social media as a means of making over his persona and hoping people will allow him a reboot. The thing is, that is entirely up to us, the public, not up to him. Friendly tweets aren't unlikely to change the minds of the millions who will always think he got away with murder. I explore all of this in my recent column. To read, please visit O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him. Below, a Twitter response to an O.J. tweet that is, frankly, what Simpson had to know he was getting into by opening himself up to social media:

Ojexchange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our other most recent columns: Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic / Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

#YNTCDMUSICVIDEO: I posted the lyric video for this in my previous blogpost. Here's the proper full video, with array of cameo appearances. The song is good. The message is better:Other select recent columns: Durant Legacy Wobbles With Finals Reinjury / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness /End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

June 15, 2019

Can Heat's Riley trade Whiteside and Dragic's big contracts? New column; plus NHL Panthers poised to be Next Big Thing, U.S. women's soccer should be celebrated, Durant's legacy, newest Back In My Day, O.J.'s happiness, The List (Game 7's) & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 15. Always football season, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, here: Amazon. Thanks for making it Amazon's 902,432nd best-selling book as of this morning. Seriously. I think I'm right behind the guy who self-published a book about his lifelong battle with ingrown toenails. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, will Dolphins be too good for Tua & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HwBIG SUMMER FOR HEAT WOULD BE RILEY UNLOADING TRADING WHITESIDE, DRAGIC. NEW COLUMN: Goran Dragic opting in will cost the Heat 19.2 million next season. If Hassan Whiteside (pictured) also opts in as expected at $27.1M, that's a combined $46.3 million for two aging, injury-prone players who are made expendable by the rise of Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo, both vitally a part of the Heat's future. Meaning? Meaning this would be a good summer for Miami if Pat Riley becomes a master salesman and is able to unload both in trade. Maybe a package deal could pry point guard Mike Conley from Memphis for a year before he becomes a free agent. I explore this and more in my latest column. To read it, kindly visit Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic.

Catstwo BobPANTHERS POISED TO BE NEXT BIG THING. (AND THIS TIME THEY MEAN  IT): As next week's NHL Draft and then free agency loom, the Florida Panthers have positioned themselves, with a big summer, to be the next big thing in hockey and in South Florida pro sports. They've done it with a strong young core led by budding superstar Aleksander Barkov. They've done it with a great coaching hire in three-time Stanley Cup champion Joel Quenneville. They've done by stockpiling draft picks. They've done by freeing up a ton of money to chase major free agents. One they really want, and need, is goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, 30, a four-time all-star and twice Vezina Trophy winner as goalie of the year. A strong draft and a Bobrovsky-led FA haul would give Quenneville a lot to work with. Pictured right: Bobrovsky, and Florida GM Dale Tallon introducing his new coach. For my column as the Panthers enter their summer of reckoning, please visit Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing.

U.S. WOMEN NEED NOT APOLOGIZE FOR WORLD CUP ROUT: [U.S. rolls over Thailand 13-0 in most lopsided match in Women's World Cup history, and team gets blasted for running up the score and celebrating too much. That's baloney. For my column, please visit U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies] ..... Original post: It's U.S. Women's National Team vs. Thailand in the Americans' first group-stage match of the month-long World Cup in France. Kickoff Amorganis 3 p.m. in the East. U.S. is the defending WC champion and a narrow betting favorite this time to repeat and earn a record fourth world title overall, although host France and Germany will be tough competition for the crown. States are led by a familiar, veteran team spearheaded by Alex Morgan (pictured) up front. There is a popular notion that the world is catching up to the Americans' dominance. We're about to find out. I love everything about this team, from their style and skill on the pitch to their outspoken fight for pay equity and for gender equality. Oh, and their coach, U.K.-born Jill Ellis, lives in Palmetto Bay just south of Miami. I'll be rooting for the U.S. and I don't care who knows it. "Let's gooooo States!"

DURANT RETURNS, GETS REINJURED, BUT GOLDEN STATE SURVIVES ANYWAY: Kevin Durant has spent his entire NBA career as the dispensable superstar. He still is. Durant finally returned from his calf injury last night, left reinjured in the second quarter (with a torn Achilles, they fear), but Golden State won anyway, 106-105, in Toronto to force an NBA Finals KdurantGame 6. Durant was set up to heroically be the oxygen and rescue his team from a 3-1 series hole — something done only once before in Finals history — and carry it to a third consecutive championship. As a parting gift for likely leaving in free agency in a month, Durant could have saved Golden State’s dynasty. Nothing less would do. What is Durant’s value? To the Warriors, and in free agency. That would the question in play the rest of these Finals. Durant is elite. A perennial all-star. A former league MVP. Hall of Fame-bound. But he has never been what he had a chance to prove himself as the rest of this series: Indispensable. He was great for Oklahoma City but never good enough to lift the Thunder to a championship in eight seasons. Did Golden State need Durant to become what they have? No. They won a title before he got there. Then had the single-best regular season in league history before he got there. Now, as Golden State steamed into the Finals with Durant absent, sidelined since May 8, there was audacious talk that the Warriors somehow might be a better team without Durant. It was quantifiable, the team’s record much better with Steph Curry but no Durant than with Durant but no Steph. That could all have changed starting last night. Instead, it only affirmed the Warriors can win without him. Now, sadly, he likely will leave Golden State the way he did Oklahoma City, a dispensable superstar not feeling a lot of love on the way out. To read the column, kindly visit Durant Legacy Wobbles As Warriors Win Without Him

Other most recent columns: Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 and Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez. Also: Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / Drama Kings: How NBA Became America's Most Interesting Sport / Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': COMMERCE!: This premiered on today's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio. Hashtag: #SaveTheRetailStore. Dan liked it. Maybe you will, too. (By the way, thanks to all the show fans we met today the the Father's Day Fiesta event at Fogo de Chao on South Beach).

THE LIST: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 7s: Including this week's Boston-St. Louis NHL Final as the latest, the 10 most recent championship-deciding Game 7s in baseball, basketball and hockey:

Year Sport       Winner                Loser                    Score

2019 NHL        Blues                   @Bruins                4-1

2017 MLB        Astros                  @Dodgers             5-1

2016 NBA        Cavaliers             @Warriors             93-89

2016 MLB        Cubs                   @Indians               8-7 (10i)

2014 MLB        Giants                 @Royals                3-2

2013 NBA        @Heat                 Spurs                   95-88 

2011 NHL        Bruins                 @Canucks             4-0

2011 MLB        @Cardinals          Rangers                6-2

2010 NBA        @Lakers              Celtics                  83-79

2009 NHL        Penguins             @Red Wings          2-1

Notes: Road teams have now won five (!) Game 7s in a row and seven of past 10. The only Game 7 involving South Florida teams in addition to '13 Heat was @Marlins beating Indians 3-2 (11i) in 1997.

OjnowARE WE HAPPY THAT O.J. SIMPSON IS HAPPY?: The Associated Press scored an exclusive interview this week with the media-shy O.J. Simpson, the former Bills running back who of course skated in 1995 on that infamous double-murder charge but later did nine years for a robbery/kidnapping conviction. He was released in 2017 and now lives in Las Vegas. The AP story ran with the headline, '25 years after murders, O.J. says 'Life is fine'. It describes a now 71-year-old who plays lots of golf, poses for lots of selfies and is happy or at least content, not overcome with guilt, anger or anything of the sort. He declines to discuss the double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, for which Simpson was acquitted to the shock (mostly) of white America. He describes the not looking back as his "no negative zone." The story is worth the read anyway. To do so, click here. The photo is an AP shot taken last week.

Other select recent columns: End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Zion Williamson's Power to Reject Lottery / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 08, 2019

Why Dolphins will be better than you think. Latest column; plus Inter Miami aims high with Barca's Suarez, 5 key battles as Fins end offseason, Marlins go bat-heavy in draft, Schnellenberger denied again, new Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Dr. John & more

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

Drjohn1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 8. One day after noting the 75th anniversary  of the Normandy landings on D-Day, we mourn the passing of New Orleans music legend Dr. John (pictured) at 77, from a heart attack. Second line ready, Big Easy. R.I.P. 2) Sorry to hear earlier this week of the sudden passing this week of WPLG news anchor Todd Tongen at 56 -- and no less so after learning the cause was suicide. We were the most casual of acquaintances, rarely crossing paths, but I always admired the job he did and his humor and good nature. Condolences to his family and loved ones. 3) It's always football season, so it's always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy it on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your NFL Finals will/want poll results, our review of  the Elton John biopic 'Rocketman' & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

BfloresTOO-DA-LOO, TUA? DOLPHINS WILL BE BETTER THAN EXPECTED IN 2019. NEW COLUMN: The Fins wrapped up their offseason program of OTA workdays and minicamps Thursday. Now it's six dark weeks for the club before it reassembles for full preseason training camp in late July. Thought the break was a good time to assess where the team is at, expectations-wise. We know the Vegas betting over/under is way low, around 5 wins. We think, or at least I think, Miami will be better, and I explore why in my newest column. A bright new coach in Brian Flores (pictured), an interesting quarterback battle with much upside, a really good receivers room, strong defensive tackle rotation, productive linebackers, better than average secondary -- too many positives for this team to be god-awful. The negatives: the offensive line other than Laremy Tunsil, and the absence of an edge rush leaving you wondering where the sacks will come from. Still, I think Miami will be good enough to make it difficult being bad enough to get the No. 1 overall 2020 draft pick and grand-prize QB Tua Tagovailoa. To read my latest column, kindly visit Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019.

LsuarezINTER MIAMI SIGNING LUIS SUAREZ WOULD BE NEARLY LEBRON-SIZED GET: David Beckham is gunning for Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, which if it  happens would be Miami sports' biggest get since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and the Heat in 2010. Suarez (pictured) is a proven, prolific goal scorer, with 25 or more net-shakers the past seven consecutive seasons for Liverpool or Barca at the highest levels of the sport. The negative: He will turn 33 just before the 2020 Major League Soccer season starts and Inter Mimi debuts as an expansion team. Still, there is little evidence of decline in his dynamic game, and he'd be a major piece to build an attacking team around. He would join the L.A. Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and D.C. United's Wayne Rooney as the biggest international names in MLS. For that column of mine, please visit Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez.

AS DOLPHINS WRAP UP OFFSEASON, REASONS TO LIKE FLORES AND 5 KEYS TO SEASON: Dolphins' mandatory minicamp ended Thursday to close Miami's offseason program. In my column previewing this week's minicamp I offer reasons I've really liked the hiring of Brian Flores as head coach thus far, and also five key position battles that will shape the coming season. To read that column, kindly visit Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season.

Other most recent columns: Marlins, NBA Finals, Bill Buckner, Miami's top young stars: For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / Drama Kings: How NBA Became America's Most Interesting Sport / Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness / And Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

BledayMARLINS DRAFT QUICK THOUGHT: BATS, BATS, BATS: The trades for prospects mostly have brought pitching, pitching, pitching. It is why Miami is pretty deeply stocked in its starting rotation. So the 2019 MLB Draft brings a different emphasis: Offense. And we saw that in the draft's first two rounds Monday night, led by Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday, the fourth overall pick. Then came Missouri OF Kameron Misner (a competitive balance pick) and in the second round, Lawrenceville, Ga. high-school infielder Nasim Nunez. Bleday, personally scouted by Derek Jeter at the recent SEC Tournament, is pictured. He had five hits that game, by the way. In the power-starved Bleday the Fish get a guy who led all NCAA Division 1 baseball with 26 home runs this season.

HowardTHREE EX-CANES ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL BALLOT, BUT...: Stalwart former Hurricanes defensive stars Jerome Brown, Ray Lewis and Dan Morgan are on the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame ballot revealed Monday. But one ex-Cane who deserves the honor continues to be left out: Coach Howard Schnellenberger. In a flashback column from a hyear ago, June 2018, and truer than ever, I make the case why Schnellenberger deserves the College Hall. Read: End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': CAFETERIAS!: The latest BIMD, which premiered Tuesday on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:

Other select recent columns: Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It (Really) Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Zion Williamson's Power to Reject the Lottery / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote