February 08, 2020

Time for lone non-Jeter voter to step forward. Latest column; plus Heat, gloriously impatient Riley win with Iguodala trade; also why Reed's return is big for Canes football, Mahomes rises as Dolphins' new roadblock, latest Back In My Day video & more

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Chiefs beat 49ers in Miami Super Bowl, Hot Button Top 10, nailed our SB pick, Part 2 of our '72 Dolphins series & more. 2) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

DjTO 'THE LONE VOTER' WHO DENIED JETER: STEP FORWARD OR  BE OUTED!A brief chronology of the world’s 10 greatest mysteries: Is there intelligent alien life? (Infinity). What happened to the Ark of the Covenant? (587 B.C.). Where is Cleopatra’s tomb? (30 B.C.). Who was Jack the Ripper? (1888). Why is "abbreviation" such a long word? (Unknown). Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone? (1963). Whatever happened to D.B. Cooper? (1971). Where is Jimmy Hoffa? (1975). Why ‘New Coke’? WHY?!?! (1985). And who didn’t vote for Derek Jeter? (2020). There you have it. Nine eternal mysteries that may never be fully solved — and one that still might be. "The Lone Voter" is still out there. But where? Someone knows who he (or she?) is. The unnamed anarchist is someone’s neighbor or friend, hiding in plain sight, ripe for outing. To read our full latest column, please visit It's Time For Anonymous Lone Voter  Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward.

IGUODALA TRADE A WIN FOR HEAT AND SIGN OF PAT RILEY"S GLORIOUS IMPATIENCEWhen they called Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s name in honoring the NFL‘s all-time greatest 100 players and coaches before the Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, he held up two hands full of championship rings in a brazen showiness utterly earned. Miami Heat president Pat Riley has Patr Andreidone the equivalent this week, though somewhat more subtly, with his maestro’s work ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. The greats have a way of reminding us how they got that way, lest we forget. It can be the bling on the fingers. Or it can be a midseason trade you didn’t have to make — but one that looks like a master class in how to get more than you give. In a deal completed Thursday Miami got elite wing defender Andre Iguodala from Memphis along with starter-caliber small forward Jae Crowder and reserve Solomon Hill, with the Heat sending to the Grizzlies injury-prone Justise Winslow and two seldom-used spare parts in James Johnson and pouty, oft-suspended Dion Waiters. (Riley and Iguodala are pictured). Miami has a team option on the second year of Iguodala’s two-year, $30 million deal, meaning the Heat can part with him after this season and still have the salary-cap wherewithal to take aim at a major max-salary star in the bounteous free agency sweepstakes coming in the summer of 2021. That’s when the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokonmpo, will grand-marshal the parade of available talent. Riley turns 75 next month. He ain’t playin’. He doesn’t have all day to whip Miami back into championship contention and add another NBA ring to the eight he has won as a player, head coach or executive, including the Heat’s crowns in 2006, 2012 and 2013. To read our full column, please visit Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala.

WHY RETURN OF ED REED, EVEN IF MOSTLY SYMBOLIC, IS HUGE BOOST FOR CANES FOOTBALL: You see a little gray in Ed Reed’s full-but-neatly-trimmed beard now. His age has doubled since he was last an active part of Miami Hurricanes football as a player from 1998 to 2001. His new title now? "Chief of Staff"? It sounds grandly inflated, like he will be in a suit overseeing Edreedboard meetings. "I’m not hiring, I’m not firing. I’m coming here to help. I’m a piece of the puzzle," Reed, now 41, described his own role Wednesday in being officially introduced on campus. He will not be a coach on the field. He will not recruit except when prospects visit on campus. He will be more of an advisor/sounding board and right-hand man to coach Manny Diaz. "I’m [his] Doc Holliday," he said, of the Old West sidekick to Wyatt Earp. "I’ll be his huckleberry," Reed added, citing southern slang for "I’m your man." More than as a counsel to Diaz, though, Reed is on board to be this: An Example. Reed was hired to be a mentor to players, to show them the right way. "Stand up. Be accountable," he said. He was a consensus All-American safety at UM. He was a vital part of the school’s last of five national championships, in 2001. He is the imprimatur of all The U has developed in terms of family and culture. To read this full column, please visit Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football.

BAD LUCK DOLPHINS: FINALLY GETTING RID OF NEMESIS BRADY, NOW MAHOMES TAKES HIS PLACE. NEW COLUMN: Miami hosts another Super Bowl, and Dolphins fans automatically tease themselves (or is it torture?) wondering when their team might be back in one. Dreaming is free, and folks keep insisting anything is possible, so have it. But understand this: the Dolphins seem Pmahno closer today to their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1984 season and first victory since the 1972-73 quiniela. They seem further away, in fact. The Dolphins have simply swapped one gigantic AFC roadblock for another. Tom Brady and the Patriots dynasty fades. Patrick Mahomes and a Chiefs dynasty arises. The wattage of brightness for Kansas City’s long-term future under Mahomes, the generational quarterback, can hardly be overstated. Anything said about this young guy that seems like hyperbole probably isn’t. And this is who will now be blocking Miami’s path to playing in a Super Bowl for all of this decade and beyond. The pressure on the Dolphins regime to land a quarterback as good or to assemble a team to beat Mahomes has never been greater than it seems now as we witness the full coronation of Mahomes. This isn’t discounting the long, bright future of another Dolphins AFC roadblock, dual-threat Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. But Mahomes is the league’s new No. 1 QB and face of the NFL until somebody takes those things from him. To read our full column please visit Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place.

My column from the game: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami.

DshulaMY 2-PART SERIES ON HOW DOLPHINS CAME SO QUICKLY TO HAVE GREATEST TEAM OF ALL TIME: This was a Super Bowl Week thing but I'm proud of the series and it's timeless so I wanted to give you another chance to read it. The 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins were named the greatest team of all time as part of the NFL's 100th season celebration. How did it happen? In Part 1 told how a long-lost Dolphins executive pre-dating Don Shula, a man named Joe Thomas, was assembling a treasure trove of talent amid the wild dysfunction of the George Wilson-led expansion years. For that tale, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins. Part 2 tells the story of how and why Shula's arrival changed everything, from the players themselves, and it takes a poignant look at Shula's life today at age 90. For that full column, visit How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90. This is a deep dive into how the Perfect Dolphins happened, with never-before-told stuff. I hope you enjoy.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': READY, SET, HYPE!: We poke good-natured fun at the excess of sports in general, led by the Super Bowl. Debuted on yesterday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:

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

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

November 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 17, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 24.6% after shutout loss to New England and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 83.0% after rout of Bethune-Cookman; plus NFL Week 2 picks, odds for ex-Canes, Fins on 2020 Hall of Fame ballot, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

1) It's MONDAY SEPTEMBER 16. R.I.P. Ric Ocasek, 75. His group The Cars were very big in  my life when I was in my 20s and always held a place in my memory and heart. 2) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 2 picks, yes Dolphins are tanking and yes they should & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksOur NFL Week 2 picks: Will the Miami Dolphins lose by less than the epic 18 1/2-point betting line on Sunday? What is our Game of the Week. Who are our upset winners? Find out that and more by visiting Week 2 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks.

Other most recent work: Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Also: It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy / Herald Week 1 QB Rankings / The Dolphins aren't awful. They're worse than that (game column from opening loss).

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 83.0%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 83.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 63-0 UM home Csmvictory over Bethune-Cookman putting the Hurricanes' season record at 1-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the weekly verdict, which is announced here the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Monday.

2019 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

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

Next poll: Sept. 21 following game vs. Central Michigan.

BcmiaG3: BETHUNE-COOKMAN AT HURRICANES: NAME YOUR SCORE: I know in the NFL very occasionally you see a crazy score like, say, 59-10. (Sorry, Dolphins). But generally speaking you don't get many silly-sized routs in the pros like you see too much in the college game, when major schools play small schools that have no shot. It is why I prefer the NFL. Which brings us to the Miami Hurricanes hosting Bethune-Cookman Saturday at 4 in UM's home opener at Hard Rock. Miami has played B-C four times this decade (most recently in 2017), and the Canes have won all four by a combined 169-37. Could have been worse. That involved a bunch of clear the bench and foot off the gas pedal. This could be more of a classic, thorough butt-whippin' because, at 0-2 for the first time since 1978, Manny Diaz and Miami are frustrated and eager to take it out on ... anybody. I'd be shocked if the final score was remotely close. If B-C had even half of Miami's score. So you're up, B-C Wildcats. The designated punching bag and stress relief for the Canes' early-season frustration. So I'll say it now, Wildcats. I'm sorry for your loss. Cote's pick: Hurricanes, 61-0.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 24.6%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 24.6 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 43-0 DsmDolphins home loss to New England putting Miami's season record at 0-2. (That's an uptick. Tanking crowd weighing in). In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the official results. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. 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.

Next poll: Sept. 22 following game at Dallas.

NemiaG2: NEW ENGLAND AT DOLPHINS: LET US PRAYMiami is one of eight home underdogs in NFL Week 2, and oh what a dog! Combo of last week’s humiliating 59-10 opening loss to Baltimore and New England being New England has left Dolphins getting 18 1/2 points Sunday at 1. Perspective: That’s biggest NFL spread since 2007, and one of only three times in past 30 years a road team has been favored by this much. Interesting subplots: Brian Flores coaching against his former team, and Antonio Brown’s debut (maybe) for Pats. Oh, and will ornery Bill Belichick want to run it up for the way Miami stunningly beat his team here last season on that late 69-yard miracle lateral-fest? Would it shock for Fins to lose by 30-plus? Nope. But Miami is on a 5-1 run at home vs. Tom Brady, and I’m hunching that whatever pride wasn’t beaten out of the Dolphins last week will be marshaled for a credible performance that beats not the Patriots (don't be silly), but at least the point spread. Cote's pick: Patriots, 34-17. (Click Week 2 Gems for all our latest NFL picks).

ELEVEN EX-CANES, FINS ON 2020 HALL BALLOT: WE HANDICAP THEIR CHANCES: Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed its 122 contenders for 2020 induction into Canton, a list that includes six Ejamesformer Dolphins and five ex-Canes. The mass will be pared to 25 semifinalists in November and then 15 finalists in January, who'll be voted on for induction during Super Bowl Week in Miami. None of the 11 locals is a good bet to get to Canton, but here's how we see them stacking up in terms of at least making the cut to 25: Best chance: Edgerrin James (pictured), because the former UM running back was a finalist in 2019. Decent chance: Ex-Fins LB Zach Thomas deserves Canton (as I've soapboxed many times), longtime stalwart Dolphins LT Richmond Webb has a case, and ex-Canes WR Reggie Wayne has pretty stout career numbers. A tiny shot, maybe?: Dolphins CB Troy Vincent, TE Keith Jackson and punter Reggie Roby, and Canes RB Clinton Portis and TE Jeremy Shockey. Nah, sorry: Punters Jeff Feagles and Matt Turk. 

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tankier and tankier as Fins crushed again: Miami was an 18 1/2 point underdog. On the bright side, the Dolphins could lose by double that point spread and still come closer than they did in last week's 59-10 loss. That's what I wrote. And it happened. Patriots, 43-0. Can Miami just concede the final 14 games? Please? 

2. HURRICANES: Thank you, Bethune-Cookman. The Canes needed that: Honestly, I wrote that headline Thursday afternoon. But if the Canes do anything but win comfortably Saturday, just go ahead and cancel the rest of UM's season. They won 63-0. That'll suffice. 

3. BASKETBALL: Team USA gags in awful FIBA World Cup performance: Stunner! Team USA was beaten by France and will play for seventh place Saturday in the FIBA Wold Cup in China -- worst finish ever by an American team that included NBA players. Why? Of 35 players originally selected for the U.S. player pool, only four were in China.

4. INTER MIAMI: Messi-to-Miami rumors heating up?: Soccer rumors that bloom and disseminate from Europe and and South America can be notoriously unreliable. Still, there seems to be traction to the notion Barcelona star Lionel Messi could be considering a late-career move to MLS with the new Miami team. Yes, please. Yes. Please!

5. HORSE RACING: Scandal engulfs Triple Crown winner Justify: New York Times reported that 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify failed a drug test one month before the '18 Kentucky Derby, and that the California Horse Racing Board decided to dismiss the case after the colt went on to win the Triple Crown. Shame, shame. Giant asterisk for the record book please.

6. BASEBALL: Going, going ... MLB sets all-time home run record: Baseball broke its all-time home run record with two weeks to spare when the 6,106th was hit this week. Oh, but the ball isn't joined. No way! 

7. PANTHERS: Cats, full of hope, open NHL training camp: The non-superstitious Florida Panthers and new coach Joel Quenneville open training camp on Friday the 13th, working toward the first of eight preseason games this Monday at Nashville. Playoffs or bust, Cats. Excuses all gone.

8. MARLINS: Fish hurtling toward most-losses mark as season wanes: Miami's club-record 108 losses set in 1998 is in play as Marlins play out the string. Currently in midst of a West Coast swing, Miami's final homestand in Sept. 20-22 before ending (mercifully) with seven straight on road.

9. HEAT: Miami announces training camp dates: The new Jimmy Butler-led Heat announced they'd hold preseason training camp Oct. 1-5 at Keiser University in West Palm Beach, after media day Sept. 30. The first of five Heat preseason games is scheduled Oct. 8 vs. San Antonio.

10. SERENA WILLIAMS: She parties after U.S. Open finals loss: Serena rented out a New York Mexican restaurant and partied with friends 'til the wee hours after losing the U.S. Open final to again be denied a record-tying 24th major. Why do I have the feeling I want her to get that record more than she does? 

Missing the HB10 cut: Antonio Brown, just on general principle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "LeBron James denied trademark application for phrase 'Taco Tuesday' ..... Hated to see Christian Yelich lost injured for rest of season, and in Miami no less ..... Chess World Cup underway in Russia, in case watching paint dry has proved too exciting for you ..... World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships have begun in Azerbaijan. That's like regular gymnastics, only more ridiculous ..... Update: Countdown now 2,471 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / 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 / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / 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

February 04, 2019

New: Why Dolphins are poised to hit big with Flores gamble; plus Patriots win and so did I on Super Bowl Sunday; also, our SB pick, Smirk Quintet, your Canton verdict, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Happy new month, all. Do good, Feb! 2) Football is at its crescendo so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk I-II-III-IV-V, Pro Football Hall of Fame poll, Super Bowl pick & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW COLUMN: DOLPHINS POISED TO HIT BIG WITH FLORES HIRE:The Dolphins have made only two head-coaching since the Don Shula era that should have had fans truly excited: Jimmy Johnson in 1995, and Nick Saban in 2005. Brian Flores, in 2019, could be the third. I explain why in my new column: Visit Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble to read.

PATRIOTS WON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY. SO'D DOLPHINS. AND SO DID I: Unorthodox game and odd score, 13-3, but Patriots last night won sixth championship of the Brady/Belichick era. The Dolphins won, too, because now they get Brian Flores, the New England defensive play-caller whose handprints were on Sunday's win and who now becomes the Fins next head coach. I won, too. I had the Patriots winning outright. (Check). I had the Patriots comfortably covering at minus 2 1/2 points. (Check). And I had the 'under' on what what a 56 1/2-point line on total scoring. (Check). A fitting end to our personal-record-setting season of picks!

SbliiiSUPER BOWL LIII: RAMS VS. PATRIOTS: THE PICK: Do you suffer from Super Bowl Week Syndrome? This is a medically recognized malady that causes headaches and victims’ eyes to glaze over from the the incessant parade of media hype for the big game. Do you suffer from Patriot Fatigue? Symptoms of this diagnosis — prevalent to nearly epidemic levels outside of Massachusetts — include acute irritability over the very idea of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick winning yet again. Either way, folks, for better or worse, it’ll all be over soon! Atlanta hosts the 53rd SB and Brady and Belichick haven’t actually been in all of them, it only seems that way. New England’s Double-G.O.A.T. quarterback/coach combo is merely making a ninth Super appearance together, in search of a record sixth NFL championship. These two have more rings than Saturn. But will they add one more or is the dynasty about to end as 120 Americans bear witness? An L.A. Rams team led by a 24-year QB (Jared Goff) and a 33-year-old coach (Sean McVay) is well-poised to represent “Next!” But can they? I’m doubting it. There’s a neat full-circle thing in play here, because it was the Rams (then in St. Louis) who gave Brady/Belichick its first Super Bowl win 17 years ago. Rams haven't been back to the Big Game since, ‘til now. New England was way back then a 14-point underdog; Sunday they're 2 1/2 -point favorites. Faith in the Pats is easy by now. New England is playing its best ball of the season, nobody is more clutch on this stage than Brady, and now it seems Rob Gronkowski has gotten his second wind. That’s huge, because the Rams have defended tight ends poorly all season. The Patriots’ defense also is better all-round than L.A.’s, which has given up 30-plus points seven times. Then there’s Belichick. He has a great track record vs. young QBs, of which Goff still qualifies. He also earned his Genius Card by limiting opponents’ most dangerous threat, which is why I think he’ll find a way to insulate Brady from the Rams’ up-the-gut pass rush led by Aaron Donald. I know that underdogs tend to be a smart Super Bowl play; that ‘dogs have won six of the past seven SBs outright. But that trend ends here. Yes, the Patriots have been much better at home than on the road this year. But consider this: For New England, the Super Bowl is home. (For the full preview/predix, visit Super Bowl Gem). Our pick: Patriots, 31-24.

SmirkTHE 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK' QUINTET: Smirk returned with five daily notes columns poking fun at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game:

Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed top Honors night. But what about Miss Colombia? -- Previewing NFL Honors night hosted by Steve Harvey. Also: Lamb belly, Lil Yachty, Greg Economou. 

Smirk IV: Of 100-plus Super Bowl Canes, he was 1st -- Meet UM Hurricane whose historical distinction will always be his alone. Also: Merriam-Webster's SB analysis, amputation, Etrade Baby.

Smirk III: No comment, say halftime performers -- Maroon 5 canceled halftime-show presser as Roger Goodell tried to explain away Saintsgate. Also: Romo's non-pick, 442 prop bets. 

Smirk II: No. 1 Dolfan on edge of history -- For 34th straight season Miami didn't make Super Bowl. But team's biggest fan did. Also: Clydesdale dates Betty White, Hungary, Ed Mangan. 

Smirk I: Welcome to 'Suit' Bowl LVIII -- Join host city Atlanta in welcoming Patriots, Rams, lawsuits, anger and a squirming NFL commissioner. Also: Dodgeball, Pizza Hut, haggis.

EdreedPOLL RESULT: REED, GONZALEZ TOP YOUR PICKS FOR CANTON: We asked, "Which of 18 finalists should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?" and gave you up to six votes. The maximum vote for any one player would be 16.7 percent if every voter used all six votes, and you'd multiply any player's total by six for an idea the percent of ballots that included that person. Got all that? Your top six: Safety Ed Reed (pictured) with 17.27%, tight end Tony Gonzalez 15.07%, cornerback Champ Bailey 11.77%, running back Edgerrin James 7.69% and tackle Tony Boselli 6.91%. (Next best were coach Don Coryell 5.34% and receiver Isaac Bruce 5.18%). Applying the 80 percent requirement used in actual Hall of Fame voting, only Reed and Gonzalez were voted into Canton by you all, although Bailey came close.

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

Hotbutton1. NFL: Patriots beat Rams in weird Super Bowl: The Patriots were 2 1/2-point favorites over the Rams as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady attempt to win (what seems like) their 943rd Super Bowl together. It was actually their sixth, 13-3, in an oddly low-scoring, somewhat boring letdown of a game. New England is the team we love to hate. Los Angeles shouldn't even have been there except the officials screwed the Saints. Um, was anybody else rooting for both teams to lose?

2. HEAT: Wade's 'Last Dance' includes All-Star nod: His team is the epitome of mediocrity at 24-27 after three straight losses and eighth in the East entering a six-game road trip starting Tuesday. The good news? Dwyane Wade's farewell season will see him  in the Feb. 17 All-Star Game after Wade and Dirk Nowitzki made as it "special additions" of commissioner Adam Silver. Hi-yo, Silver!

3. HURRICANES: Transfer Portal kings await national signing day: After a bad end to the season, an unexpected coaching change and a lousy early recruiting period, UM football has roared back as this Wednesday's National Signing Day looms. Miami nabbed four of 247sports' top 17 available transfer including Ohio State QB Tate Martell to make what happens Wednesday less urgent than it might have been.

4. NFL HONORS: Ex-Cane Reed makes Canton, Mahomes is MVP: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes won league MVP in a runaway and ex-Hurricane Ed Reed led the new Hall of Fame class at the NFL Honors awards show on Super Bowl eve in Atlanta Saturday night. Joining Reed in Canton: Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey, Ty Law, Johnny Robinson, Kevin Mawae, Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt. Shoulda been picked but denied: Isaac Bruce.

5. PANTHERS: Cats trade Bujgstad, McCann: Florida (21-29 and nine points off playoff pace even with Saturday's win over Vegas) traded forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to Pittsburgh for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and three 2019 draft picks. That's either a white towel waving on this season or a last shot at jolting it to life. We'll see.

6. NBA: Unibrow fined for trade talk as deadline nears: Player movement a hot topic approaching Thursday's NBA trade deadline. Anthony Davis was fined 50K for publicly saying he wanted out of New Orleans. The Knicks dealt Kristaps Porzingis. Kyrie Irving may be moving. And who will LeBron lure to L.A?

7. DOLPHINS: As Flores arrives, Tannehill on way out: Pats assistant Brian Flores will soon be introduced as Miami's next head coach now that his team's season is (finally) ending. Meantime, it was reported the Fins will parts ways with QB Ryan Tannehill. Wait. Is that news? Hearing Miami will part with Tannehill is like hearing your 104-year-old grandpa died. It wasn't if, just when.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men continue freefall: Jim Larranaga's guys, once 5-0, fell to 9-12 overall and 1-8 (ugh) in ACC play with Saturday's 56-46 loss at No. 3 Virginia. At least the No. 23 Canes women are 19-5 after a Sunday home win over Virginia.

9. MARLINS: FanFest ushers in spring in five days: FanFest is this coming Saturday and the start of spring training will soon follow as the Marlins gear for Year 2 of the Derek Jeter era. Meanwhile trading away catcher J.T. Realmuto for prospects (to the Braves, perhaps?) continues to percolate on the hot stove.

10. SKIING: Vonn announces she's retiring: American Lindsay Vonn, 34, said she'll retire after the World Championships in Sweden later this month. She has won 82 World Cup races, second all-time. Also could describe Tiger Woods naked, if she wanted to.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sentences I Never Imagined Writing (one in a series): "Golfer Sergio Garcia was disqualified from an event in Saudi Arabia for intentionally destroying greens ..... Update: Countdown now 2,695 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 02, 2019

Canton calling! Poll: 18 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists, you pick top 6. Last day to vote. Go!; plus our Super Bowl pick; also, Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed and Miss Universe & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2. Happy new month, all. Do good, Feb! 2) Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for best-of podcast from this week's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio. The new Back In My Day chugs in around the 17-minute mark. 3) Football is at its crescendo and so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on Bonds/Clemens/A-Rod/Rose & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

FbhallWHO SHOULD BE VOTED INTO CANTON? YOU DECIDE, RIGHT NOW!: By the numbers, there are 18 finalists for 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. There are 48 voters who will decide on Saturday, with winners revealed that night. Between four and eight men will be anointed. In this poll I list all 18 finalists alphabetically and invite you to VOTE FOR AS MANY AS SIX (6), or as many as you feel are Hall-worthy up to six. From a consensus of your votes we'll separate wheat from chaff. Based on most estimations including my own only two men -- former Miami Hurricanes safety Ed Reed and tight end Tony Gonzalez -- are considered no-doubt locks for induction. Others with a good chance include Champ Bailey, Fort Lauderdale-born Isaac Bruce, Alan Faneca and Kevin Mawae. Another ex-Cane, Edgerrin James, is a close call; his induction would not surprise, but neither would his being denied. I would invite even Hurricanes fans to vote as dispassionately and honestly as possibly. But enough from me. It's your ballot and your vote. Note, in a six-vote ballot, the highest vote total possible for any one person would be 16.7 percent IF every voter cast all six votes. Any totals above that means some voters voted only for those people. Multiple a person's vote total times six for a rough idea the overall percentage of ballots that included that player. Ready? Go!

VOTE FOR AS MANY AS SIX (6)

Picks Sb53NFL PLAYOFF PICK / SUPER BOWL: AND THE WINNER IS...: It's Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots on Sunday in Atlanta in the 53rd Super Bowl, and a  million Saints fans saying they'll boycott watching the game (but we all know they won't). Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are 2 1/2-point favorites to win their sixth SB crown together. But will young Rams Sean McVay and Jared Goff represent an NFL changing of the guard and the end of the New England dynasty? This is not a rhetorical question, folks. I have the answer! For our Super Bowl LIII preview/analysis and prediction, visit Super Bowl Gem.

SmirkCELEBRATE 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK' WEEK IN MIAMI!: It's Super Bowl Week and that means 'Super Bowl With A Smirk' returns in the Miami Herald for five daily notes columns. Join us as we merrily poke fun at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Our Smirk Quintet:

Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed top Honors night. But what about Miss Colombia?: Previewing NFL Honors night, hosted by Steve Harvey. Also included: Lamb belly, Lil Yachty and Greg Economou. 

Smirk IV: Of 100-plus Super Bowl Canes, he was 1st: Meet the Miami Hurricane whose historical distinction will always be his alone. Also included: Merriam-Webster's SB analysis, amputation and the Etrade Baby.

Smirk III: No comment, say halftime performers -- Maroon 5 canceled its halftime-show press conference and Roger Goodell tried to explain away Saintsgate. Also included: Romo's non-pick, 442 prop bets. 

Smirk II: No. 1 Dolfan on edge of history -- For the 34th straight season Miami didn't make the Super Bowl. But the team's biggest fan did. Also included: Clydesdale dates Betty White, Hungary, Ed Mangan. 

Smirk I: Welcome to 'Suit' Bowl LVIII -- Please join host city Atlanta in welcoming the Patriots, Rams, lawsuits, anger and a sweating, squirming NFL commissioner. Also included: Dodgeball, Pizza Hut Hut Hut, football-shaped haggis.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1       1       Patrick Mahomes, KC           32.15         560.15

2       2       Drew Brees, NO                   23.15         545.30

3       3       Matt Ryan, ATL                    30.55         526.30

4       4       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        26.75         506.10

5       5       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 25.75         504.15

6       7       Philip Rivers, LAC                34.65         494.55

7       6       Andrew Luck, IND                19.60        493.55

8       8       Jared Goff, LAR                   26.95        458.65

9       9       Tom Brady, NE                     27.95        451.95

10     14     Deshaun Watson, HOU          41.70        426.60

11     10     Aaron Rodgers, GB               18.70         416.20

12     12     Derek Carr, OAK                   20.15        414.85

13     11     Cam Newton, CAR                 6.55         401.75

14     13     Eli Manning, NYG                  6.45          395.95

15     15     Dak Prescott, DAL                16.30         394.80

16     18     Russell Wilson, SEA              32.85         389.25

17     17     Matthew Stafford, DET        28.40         385.75

18     16     Carson Wentz, PHI               DNP           377.70

19     21     Mitch Trubisky, CHI             34.75          331.70

20     19     Case Keenum, DEN             20.85          329.80

21     20     Baker Mayfield, CLE           22.40          326.25

22     23     Marcus Mariota, TEN          13.40          282.90

23     22     Andy Dalton, CIN                DNP           270.30

24     24     Joe Flacco, BAL                  DNP           246.25

25     25     Alex Smith, WAS                 DNP           236.00

29     29     Ryan Tannehill, MIA            3.40           203.30

33     33     Brock Osweiler, MIA            DNP           126.35

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 01, 2018

NFL Week 13 picks: Dolphins-Bills and the rest; plus ranking College Championship Weekend matchups, your Cooperstown verdict (only 2 get in!), R.I.P. President Bush & more

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

Gbush1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1. Happy new month, all! Ready, set ... spend! 2) Former President George H.W. Bush passed away at 94 very early this morning. His politics and mine were not the same but I always respected his integrity. 3) Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes' Gerald Willis/All-America campaign, Baseball Hall of Fame ballot and your vote, Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results, college State of the State rank & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

PicksNFL WEEK 13 PICKS: DOLPHINS-BILLS, GAME OF WEEK, UPSETS AND THE REST: Our pinch-me season continues (despite Thursday night!). We rose to a robust .690 winning percentage overall for the season and a rollicking .582 against the spread with last week’s 11-4 mark outright and 10-5 vs. the Evil Betting Line. We bull’s-eyed yet another Upset of The Week with Bills beating Jaguars (“Aawwk!”), and had three more ‘dogs-with-points in Dolphins, Giants and Seahawks. But enough bragging. It's all about this week now. Thanksgiving is past. Bye weeks are done. That means the stretch run to the playoffs is upon is. All 16 games in Week 13 have some bearing on playoff aspiration, although some matchups -- like Dolphins-Bills -- are must-win-and-pray for teams hanging on the periphery. Will Miami get the must-win it needs? Visit Week 13 Gems for our latest picks, and Thursday Gem for the separate pick on last night's Saints-Cowboys game. It was a total misfire thinking the Dallas D would dominate Drew Brees in a low-scoring game. Nevertheless, sally forth! 

On UM's Gerald Willis All-America campaign: Hurricanes defensive tackle Gerald Willis III got snubbed by the All-ACC first team, but Miami nonetheless has chosen Willis to push for All-America  honors. He'd be the first Canes DT so honored since Warren Sapp in 1994, and I'm on board. To read my latest column, visit Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors. And here is the UM's hype video for Willis' candidacy.

Other select most recent columns: Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail. Also: Oh What We Had, And What We Lost (LeBron's return to Miami with Lakers) / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt.

BIG SIX CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES RANKED BY NATIONAL INTEREST: The Canes, Gators and Noles are sitting this one out, but Conference Championship Weekend goes on. Our ranking of the Power 5 conference title games plus UCF in the AAC:

Champwknd1. No. 1 Alabama (13-0) beats No. 4 Georgia (11-2), 35-281 for SEC Championship: 'Bama was a 13 1/2-point pick but needed an epic rally led by backup QB Jalen Hurts and aided by a very dubious and failed late fake-punt call by Georgia.

2. No. 2 Clemson (13-0) beats No. 24 Pitt (7-6), 42-10 for ACC Championship: Clemson favored by 27 1/2 and it was the mismatch we all expected. If Pitt was league's second-best team, how sad for the ACC.

3. No. 5 Oklahoma (12-1) beats No. 14 Texas (9-4), 39-27 for Big 12 Championship, TX: Oklahoma the pick by 8 and covered, but will it be enough for the coveted CFP top four.

4. No. 6 Ohio State (12-1) beats No. 21 Northwestern (8-5), 45-24 for Big Ten Championship: OSU favored by 14 and won easily, but will Urban Meyer now leapfrog Sooners to make CFP?

5. No. 9 UCF (12-0) beats Memphis (8-5), 56-41 for AAC Championship: UCF a mere 3-point fave but needed huge home rally behind backup QB thanks to injury to star McKenzie Milton.

6. No. 11 Washington (10-3) beats No. 17 Utah (9-4), 10-3 for Pac-12 Championship: Washington was a 5-point favorite Friday night, and nobody outside of these two fan bases cared.

MarianoPOLL RESULT: RIVERA, BONDS GET IN ON YOUR BASEBALL HALL VOTE: We asked, "Who most deserves 2019 induction into Baseball Hall of Fame?," with the 13 of our curated finalists on the ballot and you getting five votes. The five-vote poll means the maximum total for any one player would be 20 percent if every voter cast all five votes. Therefore in our poll it would take a 15 percent vote to equate to the Hall's 75 percent minimum. (Are you getting all of this?) By that standard only Mariano Rivera and Barry Bonds got Cooperstown-level grades from you. Here are your top five overall from more than 3,500 votes cast, with the percentages indicating the share of ballots that included that player's name:

 

 
 
Competitive: Edgar Martinez 36.00% and Curt Schilling 30.45%. Far back: Fred McGriff 20.05%, Mike Mussina 19.65%, Todd Helton 16.65%, Larry Walker 16.65%, Andy Pettitte 15.50% and Omar Vizquel 15.40%.

Select other columns: NASCAR Needs A Next Big ThingDolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To LoveNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersNFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 29, 2018

UM's Gerald Willis III / All-America push: All abooaarrd! With hype video, my column; plus your 2019 Cooperstown ballot. Last day to vote!; also, Cowboys-Saints pick, Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results, college State of the State rank & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29. Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at Indy with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GwillisUM's Gerald Willis / All-America campaign: All aboooaaarrrd!: Hurricanes defensive tackle Gerald Willis III (pictured) got snubbed by the All-ACC first team, but Miami nonetheless has chosen Willis to push for All-America  honors, and I'm on board. UM's promo video for Willis' candidacy is below. He'd be the first Canes DT so honored since Warren Sapp in 1994. To read my latest column, visit Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors.

Cowboys-Saints NFL pick: The Cowboys have a clear path to a huge upset tonight. But the Saints have answer waiting. Visit Thursday Gem for tonight's pick.

Other select most recent columns: Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail. Also: Oh What We Had, And What We Lost (LeBron's return to Miami with Lakers) / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt.

BbhfBASEBALL HALL OF FAME. YOUR BALLOT. VOTE NOW!: There are 35 names on the new Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for 2019 induction -- 15 back for another shot and a big 20 first-timers. But of the 35, at least half have zero shot, no chance. (Besides, 35 names is a long-ass ballot!) So I have winnowed this ballot to include the nine returning players who got at least 20 percent of the vote last year, and added the four newcomers who, by general consensus, have the best chance. The names are combined and presented alphabetically, 13 in all. If I've left anybody off, it's because I meant to. (Sorry, Juan Pierre!) On the actual ballot, BBWAA voters (such as myself) get to vote for as many as 10 of the 35. Here, I'm letting you pick up to five (5) of the 13. Disclaimer: This poll is for fun only. The results will have no influence over my own official ballot. Ready? What five players from this list most deserve 2019 induction? Vote!  

Vote for up to your top five (5)

Deciphering a five-vote ballot: In this poll, with five votes per person allowed, 20 percent would be a perfect total for a player to get if everyone cast all five votes. Take a player's total and multiply by five to get the percentage of times that player was included on a five-vote ballot. In other words, leader Mariano Rivera is being included on better than 90% of all ballots.

RIVERS IS FLOWING / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 12: Thanksgiving Week kicks off the start of the NFL playoff push and also the stretch run in our Herald NFL quarterback rankings. The Chargers' Philip Rivers (pictured) takes Week 12 honors with a 53.95-point game to edge Vikings Kirk Cousins by a couple of points. Saint Drew Brees maintains his overall season lead. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of a season. With byes done, our playing field is now level to the finish line! This is our 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL QB rankings. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 25 table (plus Dolphins) entering Week 13:

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 12
RK    LW    Player, Team                       WK12         Season

1       1       Drew Brees, NO                   30.55         475.75

2       4       Matt Ryan, ATL                    44.85         447.10

3       2       Patrick Mahomes, KC            BYE           444.40

4       5       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 51.10         430.95

5       3       Jared Goff, LAR                   BYE           422.35

6       7       Andrew Luck, IND                48.15         409.60

7       6       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        46.10         408.20

8       8       Philip Rivers, LAC                53.95         389.95

9       11     Cam Newton, CAR               35.80          350.95

10     10     Tom Brady, NE                     34.15          349.55

11     12     Eli Manning, NYG                 29.85          343.65

12     9       Aaron Rodgers, GB               18.90         340.05

13     14     Matthew Stafford, DET         23.80         321.05

14     16     Deshaun Watson, HOU          35.50         320.35

15     17     Russell Wilson, SEA              40.95          319.55

16     13     Derek Carr, OAK                   10.70         308.35

17     18     Carson Wentz, PHI               31.80          307.00

18     15     Mitch Trubisky, CHI               DNP           290.45

19     22     Dak Prescott, DAL               38.45          277.35

20     20     Case Keenum, DEN              22.85          272.10

21     19     Andy Dalton, CIN                  8.00          270.30

22     21     Joe Flacco, BAL                    DNP           246.25

23     26     Baker Mayfield, CLE            41.90          241.10

24     23     Alex Smith, WAS                   DNP           236.00

25     24t    Blake Bortles, JAC               4.35           229.65

29     31     Ryan Tannehill, MIA             25.20         137.80

31     29     Brock Osweiler, MIA              DNP           126.35

Bubble: Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB, 225.30. Week 12 best: Rivers, LAC, 53.95 (28-29, 259, 3-0 in win). Week 12 worst: Bortles, JAC, 4.35 (12-23, 127, 1-2 in loss).

Picks LobosNFL WEEK 12 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: GOOD, BAD: Every Tuesday in the blog I update you on how I did the past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. The latest: Herald picksGood. Our strong season continues. We were a solid 11-4 straight-up last week and a nifty 10-5 against the spread. Nailed another Upset of the Week with Bills over Jags ("Aawwk!") and had three 'dogs-with-points in Dolphins, Giants and Seahawks. Greg's LobosBad. Lobos fall to 4-8 with a 117.1-94.8 loss to Stugotz, despite a heroic 29.4 from Deshaun Watson Monday night. With only one week left in the regular season the 'Bos are out of playoff contention and rightly so. We sucked this season, from the Le'Veon Bell nightmare on down. Only drama left: Who'll win season MVL honors. #WeAreTheLobos!

StateCOTE'S STATE OF THE STATE RANKINGS: Each Tuesday I rank the state's seven FBS-level college football teams. Here's the latest, with one final, post-bowls ranking yet to come: 1. UCF (11-0); 2. Florida (9-3); 3. Miami (7-5); 4. Florida State (5-7); 5. South Florida (7-5); 6. FIU (8-4); 7. FAU (5-7).

Select other columns: Dolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To LoveNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersNFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote