January 03, 2020

NFL Wild Card Weekend previews/picks: 4 playoff games, 2 upsets!; plus annual year-end polls: Wade retires (Miami), Woods' Masters (national) were biggest sports stories of 2019. Your final results; also, our Gators/Orange Bowl column & more

1) It's FRIDAY, JANUARY 3. Happy New Year, all! Good to meet you, 2020. 2) Scroll to previous blogpost for season-ending result of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. (It is astonishingly great). 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect (late) holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins stun Pats in New England with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our return to Le Batard Show: For those who've asked or otherwise wondered, I'll be back on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio next week, on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

First-time winner claims season title in Herald NFL QB rankings: This was our 22nd year of NFL quarterback rankings, which began in 1998 with Steve Young the inaugural season champ. The 2019 winner had never finished higher than ninth before. For the final, expanded Top 30, visit Herald 2019 Final NFL QB Rankings.

PicksWILD CARD WEEKEND! 4 GAMES, 2 UPSETS. OUR NFL FIRST-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a mostly solid 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald. We finished the regular season with a .663 winning percentage overall and .518 against the spread. Now that's erased and all that matters are the 11 postseason games ahead culminating with the backyard Miami Super Bowl on February 2. For all four of our Wild Card Weekend picks -- including a pair of upsets! -- please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Wild Card Weekend Gems.

MiaANNUAL YEAR-END POLL: BIGGEST MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS STORY OF 2019: DWYANE WADE RETIRES: Final top five: 1. Dwayne Wade retires 17.37%; 2. Hurricanes lose in football to FIU 14.82%; 3. Dolphins win in New England 12.95%; 4. Heat trade for Jimmy Butler 11.48%; 5. Brian Flores hired as Dolphins coach 10.70%. Note: In a 3-vote poll, totals should be tripled to indicate how often an answer was included. In other words, if everyone in this poll used all three votes, Wade would have been included on 52.11% of all ballots -- the only finalist over half. Original post: Dwyane Wade retires, then the Heat sign Jimmy Butler. The Dolphins trade talent for draft picks as "tanking" enters the local lexicon. The Hurricanes lose to FIU, get shut out in a bowl and end 6-7. The Panthers replace retired Roberto Luongo with a star goalie and star coach. The Fins stunningly win in New England, denying the Patriots a first-round bye. These and more make our list of the top 15 choices for biggest Miami/South Florida Sports Story of 2019. (Pictured are Dwyane Wade, Brian Flores and FIU beating UM). Now here is where you come in. What was No. 1? You may select your top three (3) choices from our alphabetical poll, and from your consensus, the winner will arise. We think we know what clearly will win, but, as the saying goes ... you never know. Remember, vote for your top three. We'll announce the final results tomorrow/Friday in the blog. Go!

NattyANNUAL YEAR-END POLL: BIGGEST NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF 2019: TIGER WOODS WINS MASTERS: Final top five: 1. Tiger Woods wins Masters 25.00%; 2. Megan Rapinoe-led U.S. wins Women's World Cup 16.22%; 3. Washington wins first World Series since 1924 13.51%; 4. Simone Biles dominates world gymnastics 12.16%; 5. Kawhi Leonard leads Toronto to first NBA title 10.14%. Note: In a 3-vote poll, totals should be tripled to indicate how often an answer was included. In other words, if everyone in this poll used all three votes, Woods would have been included on 75% of all ballots. Original post: This happened in American sports in 2019: In no particular order, the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty collapsed spectacularly, a blown call kept the Saints from a Super Bowl, Zion Williamson’s sneaker exploded, the Tampa Bay Lightning got bounced in the first round after a record regular season, the NBA had a tiff with China, MLB set an all-time home run record, Team USA gagged at the FIBA World Cup, horses kept dying at Santa Anita, the NFL staged a sham workout for Colin Kaepernick, and the Angels threw a no-hitter the night they honored the late Tyler Skaggs. And none of that made our final list of nominees for Biggest National Sports Story of 2019. So, yeah, it was a pretty eventful year. It was so eventful that our poll presents our alphabetical choice of the top 15 stories (four are pictured right), and invites you to vote for up to your top three (3). From that consensus, a No. 1 will arise. Remember, vote for your top three. We'll announce the final results tomorrow/Friday in the blog. Go!

ObGATORS WIN ORANGE BOWL IN CANES' BACKYARD. COLUMN: Oh, the comeuppance. The indignity! The hated Florida Gators invaded the Miami Hurricanes’ backyard Monday night — took over UM’s own home stadium — and reminded Canes fans of all they’ve been missing lately. That would be a team that knows how to finish a season strong, and in the top 10. That would be a program rising to national relevance again, not one wondering what just went so wrong. For my full column, from the game, visit On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 28, 2019

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.8%. It's 3rd worst season-ending grade in CSM history after embarrassing 14-0 bowl to Louisiana Tech; plus NFL Week 17 picks (new), Week 16 Pix 'n Fantasy results, latest Herald NFL QB rankings & more

1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28. Hope y'all had a wonderful and  Merry Christmas and are having a great holiday season! Scroll to previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed! 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Cincinnati with DSM postgame poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Updated Herald NFL QB rankings: It's a dead-heat at the top and wild finish entering the final week of the Miami Herald's 22nd annual NFL quarterback rankings. Visit Herald Week 16 NFL QB Rankings for details and the Top 20. 

PicksDOLPHINS-PATRIOTS, PLAYOFF-DECIDING TOP GAMES, UPSETS: OUR NFL WEEK 17 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a mostly solid 29th year of NFL picks thus far in the Miami Herald. We’re running solid at .665 overall and at .521 against the spread after rocking an 11-6 straight-up and 9-6-1 ATS last week. For all of our Week 17 picks to close the regular season, including Dolphins at Patriots, playoff-clinching top games and big upsets, please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 17 Gems.

G13: LOUISIANA TECH 14, HURRICANES 0 IN INDEPENDENCE BOWL: MIAMI FAILS MISERABLY TO END A DOWN SEASON ON UPSWING: Original post: They're playing a Conference USA opponent in a third-tier bowl game. There are UM fans who consider this an indignity -- beneath the program. But this is what you get when you finish 6-6. You get what you are given. You take what you can. But there are stakes Bowlfor the Canes in today's 4 p.m. Independence Bowl vs. Louisiana Tech (on ESPN) from Shreveport, La. It's the difference between finishing with a winning record or a losing record. It's also about Manny Diaz and his team doing what it has repeatedly failed to do this disappointing season: Perform well again an underdog opponent when given extra time to prepare. Think Central Michigan. Think FIU. Miami has underperformed against (supposedly) lesser foes. Will it yet again? UM is not good enough to take anybody lightly, and La-Tech is 9-3 and has won five bowl games in a row. By contrast, UM's bowl record is a sad 1-8 since 2008. Yet Miami is a 6-point favorite despite losing four players who'll skip the game for the NFL Draft, including senior linebacker Michael Pinckney. I expected Jarren Williams and N'Kosi Perry both to see action at QB for Miami. I also expect UM's defense to rise up. But this is a big game for Louisiana Tech. Can Diaz convince his team it is for the Canes, too? We'll see. Cote's pick: Hurricanes. 30-21. Watch for season-finale Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll online and directly below right after today's game ends.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: 2019 FINAL: 5.8%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season's last -- of the Miami Herald’s Canesfan Satisfaction Meter Csmpostgame polls, and they show 5.8 percent final approval in the wake of Thursday's 14-0 loss to underdog Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., leaving the Hurricanes' final 2019 season record at 6-7. That is the third-lowest total in the 11-year history of the CSM, and the worst since 2014. 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. Because this was the final poll, I suggested added emphasis on the season as a whole. Online voting determines the weekly verdict, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Saturday.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G10: 95.2% following 52-27 victory vs. Louisville.

G11: 9.6% following 30-24 loss to FIU at Marlins Park.

G12: 4.9% following 27-17 loss at Duke.

G13/Bowl/Final: 5.8% following 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2019--5.8% (6-7); 2018--11.2% (7-6); 2017--68.4% (10-3). 2016--97.2% (9-4); 2015--20.1% (8-5); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

 

LoboslogoNFL WEEK 16 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: NFL picks -- Yes! Went a nifty 11-5 overall and a solid 9-6-1 against the spread in our Week 16 Herald picks. Houston winning by 3 pushed for the tie. Nailed our Upset of the Week with Packers winning at Vikings ("Aawwk!"), and also called Miami's mini-upset of Cincy and had underdog Rams and Cardinals with points. Strong week! ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Izzy Gutierrez beat Mike Ryan for the championship. Greg's Lobos after an 8-5 regular season finished 9-7 after qualifying for the championship-round playoffs. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Greg's Lobos, after a 7-6 season that qualified for the championship-round playoffs, fizzled and finished 7-9. Chris Cote lost to his wife Christie for the league title.

Our most recent other work: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football / Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me!

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 19, 2019

We are the (state) champions! Celebrating the historic sweep of South Florida high school football. Latest column; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 15 results, newest Herald NFL QB rankings, a personal note & more

1) It's THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19. Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of left over vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald as much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at Giants with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Updated Herald NFL QB rankings: There's a new No. 1 atop the season rankings, while Drew Brees' Monday show wins the week. For the full Top 20 and more, visit Herald Week 15 NFL QB Rankings.

AFTER 7-FOR-7 SWEEP OF STATE TITLES, SOUTH FLORIDA IS KING OF HIGH-SCHOOL FOOTBALL: The football teams were at the same hotel in Daytona Beach this past weekend for the state championships when a bunch of parents and fans of Miami Northwestern High mingled in the lobby as the Miami Columbus team returned from seeing a movie. "Better win or you can’t come Centralback to the 3-0-5!" Columbus coach Dave Dunn heard a Northwestern fan call out. The message, though said in jest, was probably only half-kidding. Prep football is a serious proposition held to the highest standard in Miami-Dade. In Broward, too — as the neighboring counties just proved in historic fashion. It was an unprecedented show of force from South Florida. There are eight FHSAA divisions based on school size, and Dade/Broward brought home a record seven state championships. Call it a clean sweep, because South Florida has no football team in the smallest division geared to rural schools. (If only some of our local high school mojo might rub off on the Miami Hurricanes, who at 6-6 are preparing to face Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl, or the Dolphins, slogging along at 3-11). Stating South Florida’s case as America’s capital of high school football: Columbus wins Class 8A (the largest division) for the school’s first state title in the sport. Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas wins Class 7A for the school’s state-record 11th championship, breaking a tie for most with Jacksonville Bolles. Miami Central -- pictured celebrating with coach Roland Smith holding trophy -- wins Class 6A for the school’s sixth state crown. Northwestern wins Class 5A for the school’s third state title in a row and seventh overall, the most by a Miami-Dade team. Miami’s Booker T. Washington wins Class 4A for the school’s sixth crown. Hollywood’s Chaminade-Madonna wins Class 3A for its third title and third in a row. And Hialeah Champagnat wins Class 2A for that school’s third state championship. From the continuation of the Aquinas juggernaut to the maiden title for Columbus, it has been a December like no other for local high school football. I explore why in my newest column, after speaking with four of the championships coaches Monday to get their thoughts on So-Fla prep teams are so damned good. To read the full column, visit We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

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

PicksLoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 15: ANOTHER TOUGH WEEKNFL picks -- Ouch. Managed 9-7 overall but only 6-9-1 against the spread this past week (with Seattle winning by 6 the push for the tie). Had Atlanta with the points at San Fran but not a lot else went right. Need to rally and finish strong. ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Bad finish. Greg's Lobos after an 8-5 regular season dropped a second straight in the playoffs, 92.2 to 69.4 to Lorenzo despite 26.7 from Patrick Mahomes. It's Mike vs. Stugotz for the league title. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Another bad finish. Lobos after a 7-6 season lost a second straight in the playoffs, 185-114 despite 31 from Saquon Barkley. Can't feel too bad losing to a crazy 185. It'll be my son Chris vs. his wife Christie for the league crown.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 12, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Our other most recent work:Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft andOff Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite. Also: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2019

The case for Dolphins' Flores as Coach of Year, Fitzpatrick as starting QB in '20. New column; plus Hurricanes won't but should decline bowl invite, tonight's Cowboys-Bears pick, latest Back In My Day, NFL Week 13 Pix 'n Fantasy results & more

1) It's THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins upset Philadelphia with DSM poll, NFL Week 13 picks & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Tonight's Cowboys-Bears pick: Two desperate teams clawing to make the playoffs meet tonight at Soldier Field. My preview and pick: Thursday Week 14 Gem.

DOLPHINS' FLORES COACH OF YEAR? FITZPATRICK STARTING QB IN '20? LET ME EXPLAIN!: In this strangest of Miami Dolphins seasons, two things to consider have arisen that both would have seemed sheer lunacy only five weeks ago. Before stating these two things and then explaining I should first emphasize that I do not have a concussion and have not been drinking. 1. Brian FitzfloFlores should be considered for NFL Coach of the Year. 2. There is a circumstance and a case to be made why Ryan Fitzpatrick might still be the Fins’ starting quarterback beyond this season. (The QB and coach are pictured). Let me explain quickly, before anyone has time to draw up papers to have me committed under the Baker Act. First, Flores. He won’t win Coach of the Year, of course. Might not even get a vote, because voters are lemmings beholden to formulaic thinking. And for this award you start with what coach improved by the most wins. That’s why the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan (4-12 to a current 10-2) or somebody like that will win. But Flores should be considered, by outside-the-box thinkers, because nobody else inherited his situation, or has made more of less. It isn’t even close. At 0-7 he was the captain of the S.S. Tanktanic. His team was a laughingstock. Epic bad. His own front office undercut him by trading away top players for future draft picks. Those not mocking the Dolphins were excoriating them. ESPN’s Domonique Foxworth (needing a ladder to scale that high horse) called the overt tanking "morally reprehensible." All Flores did was take a winless, laughed-at team bound for 0-16 and keep it believing in itself. Now Miami is 3-9, with a few more winnable games ahead starting Sunday at the Jets and old coach Adam Gase. OK. On to Fitzpatrick and the quarterback spot. This 37-year-old man with the lumberjack beard has proved, again, why he has survived 15 NFL seasons across eight teams. He is an affable, always smiling leader whose love of playing is infectious. He has earned the right to be kept by Miami in 2020 as a backup. But the idea he might start next season is worth consideration. On merit, first, he is capable to lead a team. He has led this one. Today Fitzpatrick’s QBR rating of 64.1, measuring overall efficiency at the position, ranks No. 8 in the league. And that is despite the worst offensive line and the worst running game in the NFL! A strategy worth considering for Miami is to go with Fitzpatrick one more season and instead devote draft capital in 2020 to the team’s many other urgent needs such as O-line, an edge rusher and a running back. What we are seeing from Fitzpatrick gives the Fins the luxury to seriously weigh such an option. Miami could then turn its eye to the quarterback-of-the-future in the 2021 draft, when the available first-round bounty will include Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields — and maybe Alabama’s Tua Tagovailao, who has been pondering bypassing the ‘20 draft ever since his season-ending hip injury on Nov. 16. To read my full latest column, please visit Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft.

HURRICANES AT 6-6 HAVE ZERO TO CELEBRATE, SHOULD DECLINE BOWL INVITE: Here is what should happen this week in a news conference on the University of Miami campus. It won’t. I Mannyam dreaming. But it should. Director of athletics Blake James and head football coach Manny Diaz (pictured) are standing side by a side, a united front. Neither man is smiling. James clears his throat to speak first. "After much consideration the past few days," James would begin, "Manny and I are in agreement the football season just past did not meet the high expectations of the University of Miami, and therefore — although eligible to play in a postseason bowl — the Hurricanes will decline any and all invitations to do so." Diaz adds: "A bowl game should be a reward, and this season has not been one to earn such a thing. Neither myself, my staff nor our players have proved worthy of the prize that is a bowl trip." Canes fans are digesting and trying to fathom a season that had ended 6-6 with consecutive losses — first the comeuppance of ignominy against cross-county rival FIU, then Saturday’s closing defeat at Duke. UM of course will soon perfunctorily accept an invitation to some Grade D bowl game, almost as if it doesn’t have a choice and must. It might be the Independence, the Music City, the Sun or some other lame pity prize the Canes should be embarrassed to attend. Plainly, there is too much incentive (read: money) involved to turn down a bowl invite. The Atlantic Coast Conference, for example, gets $4 million for every one of its teams that goes bowling. But, again, I am not talking about what will happen, but what should in an ideal world. This UM football program should be licking its wounds and closing the sad ledger on this season now, not putting on display one last time one of the most disappointing teams in all of college football. To read our full recent column, please visit Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite.

Our most recent other work: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis. Also FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

Picks LoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 13: OK, PLAYOFFS!, PLAYOFFS!: NFL picks -- OK. We were a so-so 9-7 overall and a pretty good 9-7 against the spread last week. Nailed our Upset of the Week with winless Bengals beating Jets. Also had a mini-upset with Steelers over Browns, a 'dog-with-points in Bills covering vs. Cowboys, and a rare Exacto (perfect score) in Packers' 31-13 win over Giants. ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Playoffs! Greg's Lobos improved to 8-5 with a 103.1 to 95.7 win over Sarah Spain led by Patrick Mahomes' 21.5 points. We're in the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and face Stugotz in the first round. Mahomes is frontrunner for MVL honors (Most Valuable Lobo), but Mike Evans has not been ruled out. Go 'Bos! ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Playoffs! Lobos lost their regular-season finale 134-129 to finish 7-6 but still made the six-team playoffs as the No. 5 seed. Dalvin Cook and Deshaun Watson are neck  and neck for MVL (Most Valuable Lobo) honors, and we'll need them both, and Cook healthy, as the playoffs begin. Go 'Bos!

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': FITNESS NUTS!: After several weeks' hiatus, a new Back In My Day returned to ESPN and the Le Batard Show today. Hope you enjoy... 

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 27, 2019

FIU beating Canes was huge for Panthers. Why it was even bigger -- personal -- for coach Butch Davis. Latest column; plus NFL Week 12 Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated Herald NFL QB rankings & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27. Scroll to previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Watch for our updated NFL Week 12 Pix 'n Fantasy results and Herald NFL QB rankings here later today. 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall in Cleveland with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Updated Herald NFL QB rankings: There's a new No. 1 and a wide-open race for the season crown as we hit the home stretch. For the latest, visit Herald NFL Week 12 QB Rankings.

FIU BEATING CANES WAS HUGE FOR PANTHERS, EVEN BIGGER FOR BUTCH DAVIS. NEW COLUMN: This was in the merry, sonic bedlam of the FIU lockerroom after the biggest win in school history had been minted Saturday night at Marlins Park. Butch Davis choked up Monday in the remembering, the retelling. "The kids were dancing, cheering, high-fiving, chest-bumping," he said Butchof his Panthers players who had just stunned cross-county rival Miami, 30-24. "When we finally settled down..." Davis’ voice hitched, cracked. It came out closer to a whisper as he resumed. When the boisterous room quieted he looked at his players’ eyes and saw joy, saw pride, saw tears. "When we finally settled down," Davis said, "you looked into those kids’ eyes, their faces, and you saw what they had just accomplished. You saw it, knowing this night was going to stick with them for the rest of their lives." FIU had been 0-31 against Power 5 conference schools in its brief history including 0-3 against Miami before shocking college football as a three-touchdown underdog Saturday. "We had no chance. No chance," he said, of outside perceptions. "[The Hurricanes] would be playing their backups in the second half." Davis (pictured celebrating Saturday) of course coached Miami under Jimmy Johnson in in 1984-84, and was UM head coach in 1995-2000. In the latter stint he won despite inheriting Dennis Erickson’s NCAA sanctions and scholarship reductions. He left for the NFL after an 11-1 season, all but gifting Larry Coker the 2001 national championship with players Davis had drafted. Now, FIU will go to a bowl game each of Davis’ first three seasons, the streak a first for the 18-year-old program. He inherited a lot of losing but turned it around, with Saturday’s triumph a watershed. For Panthers players, this was personal. "Our kids had a chip on their shoulder," as Davis put it. "I don’t think Miami recruited any of our kids, to be honest." It was personal for Davis, too. Very. To read our full latest column, please visit Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis.

Also from me within past week: FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

Picks LoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 12: DECENT, LUCKY, CLINCHED: NFL picks -- Decent. We were 10-4 overall and an even 7-7 against the spread last week. OK with the first will abide the second. Missed our Upset of the Week but hit on another outright upset with Jets beating Oakland. Also had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Giants, Bengals and Redskins. Had the Dolphins' losing margin exact at 17 points. Missed one cover (Texans) by one point on the wrong side of a half-point line. ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Lucky! Greg's Lobos improved to 7-5 with a low-scoring, fortunate 67.4 to 46.2 win over Dominique Foxworthy, led by Tyler Boyd's 19.1 points. We did something unheard of: Started a player on a bye wek (Patrick Mahomes), yet survived the blunder. Was rushing to the hospital to see a family friend Sunday morning; still, no excuse. Got lucky. I sit as the 6th of 8 playoff seeds entering the final week, likely needing to close with a win to clinch. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Clinched! Lobos fell to 7-5 with a 133-92 loss to league's top seed, despite 26 from Allen Robinson and 21 from Jared Cook. Neverthless, have clinched a playoff spot. Stand 3rd of 6 playoff teams entering final week, with final seeding to be determined. Go 'Bos!

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 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

October 31, 2019

Eyes on the prize! Dolphins mustn't waver on Tua. Latest column; plus DSM result after Fins' Monday loss, disgraced ref Tim Donaghy talks NBA scandal, tonight's 49ers-Cards pick, NFL Pix n Fantasy Week 8 results including my perfect 15-0 & more

Halloween1) It's THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31. Happy Halloween! Have fun, stay safe. Oh and see you next year, October. 2) Condolences on the passing of the great former University of Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich, who died yesterday at 84. I knew Sam very well in the 1980s. He was a good man and a good AD. 3) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at Pitt with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, NFL Week 8 picks & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Tonight's 49ers-Cardinals pick: Astonishingly the Cards have won eight in a row in this season. Will an upset make it nine. Answer here: Week 9 Thursday Gem.

Herald Week 8 NFL QB rankings: We welcome back our Week 8 winner and crown a new season leader. Visit Herald Week 8 NFL QB Rankings.

TuaEYES ON THE PRIZE! WHY DOLPHINS MUST REMAIN STEADFAST FOR TUA TAGOVAILOA. LATEST COLUMN: Eyes on the prize, Miami Dolphins. Stay strong. Focus. As the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose famously sang in 1972, "It’s too late to turn back now." We’ve been reading it and hearing it from South Florida media to the talking heads on this week’s Dolphins-Steelers Monday Night Football telecast. The what-if game on the 2020 NFL Draft has begun. The notion that whomever ends up with the overall No. 1 pick next spring — including the favorite, Miami — dare not pass on the draft’s hot new shiny object, Ohio State’ havoc-wreaking pass rusher Chase Young. As if on cue, ESPN draftnik Todd McShay this week elevated Young to No. 1, ahead of Tua Tagovailoa, in his latest updated draft rankings. Let us hope the suggestion the Fins should consider drafting Young ahead of a generational QB qualifies as a classic sports straw man — a false narrative floated purely for the sake of argument. Because, at least in the Dolphins’ case, it is an absurd supposition that Miami should or might bypass the franchise arm because, what, the trendy defensive end is a point higher on your draft board? The whole point of this season, of this exquisitely orchestrated tanking, is to wind up with Tua Tagovailoa (pictured), the generational QB from Alabama. For the full column, please visit Do Not Waver, Dolphins. It Must Be Tua!

InsidegameDisgraced ref Tim Donaghy talks game-fixing: He was at the center of one of NBA's major scandals of the 2000s. A movie about it is out this week. We spoke with the villain himself. For our recent column, please visit Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal. For the movie's preview: Inside Game Trailer.

Our most recent other columns: Heat's Opener Stars Butler As Missing Person, Winslow As Rising Star / Also: Heat 'Tighten the Screws,' And Dion Waiters Is the Lesson, As New Season Begins / Diaz Playing 'Rebuild' Card As Weak as Canes' Effort in Loss to Ga-Tech / LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice / No Sacrifice Too Great For Tanking-For-Tua Dolphins / and Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years.

Pit miaG7: @PITTSBURGH 27, DOLPHINS 14: ANOTHER TEASE, ANOTHER FADE, STILL WINLESS: [See latest DSM results below] Is Original post: Is the No. 1 victory of the season most important, Miami fans? Or is it the No. 1 overall draft pick? You can have both. It's just that getting the former hurts your chances of having the latter. The winless and allegedly tanking 0-6 Miami Dolphins take the Monday night stage seen quite literally as the Not Ready For Prime Time Players. I cannot recall any 2-4 team being this big a favorite (14 1/2 points), but that is a commentary not on the Steelers’ latent greatness, but on the subterranean regard for Miami. The Fins actually have been appreciably better lately. Competitive! But like all bad teams they have found ways to lose. In Buffalo last week Christian Wilkins gets himself ejected 33 seconds into the game, two huge turnovers steal a likely win, then afterward, in a punctuation of "undisciplined," Bobby McCain angrily confronts a 13-year-old Bills fan. Miami traveled north with a depleted secondary; meanwhile Minkah Fitzpatrick is a Steeler. Pittsburgh, off a bye week, gets QB Mason Rudolph back healthy and expects RB James Conner back, too. I still like Ryan Fitzpatrick and an improving Fins offense getting this many points. If Miami has zero turnovers (admittedly a large ask), this thing might even be interesting late. Cote’s pick: Pittsburgh, 27-16. Click NFL Week 8 Gems for all our latest picks -- we're a perfect 14-0 straight-up entering tonight. And watch for the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll right after tonight's game ends.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 28.8%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 28.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Monday night’s 27-14 Dolphins loss at Pittsburgh putting Miami’s season record at 0-7. That's a huge drop, and the first time this season the total has been less than the game before. Is the cost of "Tanking For Tua" finally kicking in with fans?  In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Wednesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Nov. 3 following game vs. N.Y. Jets. 

Picks LoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 8: PERFECT! GREAT! MARVELOUS!: NFL picks -- Perfect! Literally. We were 15-0 straight-up, running the table on the week -- nearly unheard of. We were an OK 7-8 against the spread, including a bull's-eye on our Eagles over Bills Upset of the Week and another outright upset with Chargers over Bears. Also had Miami with points at Pittsburgh. Oh but that overall perfecto! Wheee! ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Great! Greg's Lobos improved to 4-4 with a 141.9 to 119 win over Allyson. We got a huge 42.8 points from Mike Evans and a surprising 36.2 from fill-in QB Daniel Jones. We're now tied for eighth place and thinking playoffs. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Marvelous! Lobos are now 5-3 with a fourth straight win, a nail-chewing 153-152 over my youngest son. (Sorry/not sorry, Michael!) We got 81 points -- 27 each -- from Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook and Deshaun Watson. We're now tied for third place and definitely thinking playoffs! Go 'Bos!

Previous other select recent columns: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Deba0te / 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

October 18, 2019

Our NFL Week 7 picks!; plus LeBron James forgot who he is in following company line on China, and nothing will stop hell-bent Dolphins from finding their Holy Grail. Latest columns & more

1) It's FRIDAY OCTOBER 18. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose to winless Washington with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksDOLPHINS-BILLS, GAME OF THE WEEK, UPSETS: OUR NFL WEEK 7 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season and a solid start to our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, here are our latest selections. Will the winless Dolphins cover the enormous point spread in Buffalo? Who won the tough battle for Game of the Week? Can we keep our Upset of the Week streak alive? Answers to all of that and more may be found in the motherlode that is our NFL Week 7 Gems. Alas, got off to a bad start to our week last night, as we incorrectly had the Broncos upsetting the Chiefs in Denver. Um, the Chiefs won 30-6. This was our worst pick of the year. I make my picks by a mixture of research, methodology and gut feeling. In this case I felt KC was the better team poised to rebound from two straight losses -- but allowed me to talk me into the Broncos. Dumb. Against form. Tally ho!

LebchinaLEBRON JAMES FORGETS WHO HE IS, FOLLOWS COMPANY LINE ON CHINALeBron James is the villain now, to many, for one comment this week that served to inflame rather than quell the fallout from the NBA’s China crisis. It isn’t especially fair, but this is the take-sides society we have become, where the moderate middle has disappeared and nuance gets bludgeoned by the immediacy of outrage that social media provides (and encourages). So LeBron is the sellout now, right? The faker who turned his back on social justice where money was involved? First, the easy answer: No. He isn’t. The I Promise School that James founded for at-risk kids in Akron, Ohio, is thriving. In Miami we remember when he wore that hoodie in support of Trayvon Martin. James spoke out against that white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has defended Colin Kaepernick against the misrepresentations. Worn “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during warmups. Spoke out on stage at the 2016 ESPYs. At every turn, James — still the biggest star in the NBA at 34 even as "best player" is now arguable — has shown his heart is right. There is a world off the court that he cares to impact, and does. He is a model for athlete activism, for the use of platform and voice. It is only in this context of credibility earned that raised eyebrows this week when he said Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey "wasn’t informed" in writing the tweet that caused the firestorm. For our entire latest column, please visit LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice

Select most recent other columns: Another Dolphins Loss, But There was Fight And Heart This Time (loss to Washington) and Hurricanes Finally Get Quality Win -- And The Spark They Needed (win over Virginia). Also: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years / and 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat.

Tank4tuaNO SACRIFICE TOO GREAT FOR TANKING-FOR-TUA DOLPHINS TO FIND THEIR HOLY GRAIL: Tua Tagovailoa by gradual degrees appears more and more in focus to Miami Dolphins fans. Nearer and nearer. More and more real. But he appears less like a quarterback in Alabama red than as a savior in a flowing robe, back-lit by a halo of sunlight. That sound ... are those angels singing? A dispatch from Tanking Central: This is like few seasons ever seen in sports and none ever experienced in South Florida: One team so strategically awful, with one player in mind — and no sacrifice too great to reach that Holy Grail. Perversely, the historically winless Dolphins in the midst of overtly Tanking For Tua might be the biggest story of this NFL season. It has become a national controversy. It has split a fan base with winning versus tanking the wedge. This franchise hasn’t made this much news for being this embarrassing since, well, OK, I would say since knucklehead Richie Incognito was bullying a teammate, except that the offensive line coach caught snorting white powder off his desk happened more recently. But this embarrassment is happening on the field. In the open. It’s being televised! To read my entire recent column, please visit No Sacrifice Too Great For Tanking-For-Tua Dolphins.

Loboslogo NFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 6: WIN, WIN, WIN!: NFL picks -- Pretty great, actually. We deftly navigated an upset-laden week to go 10-4 overall and a terrific 11-3 (!) against the point spread. We nailed another Upset of the Week with 49ers over Rams ("Aawwk!"), bull's-eyed Cardinals' upset of Falcons and hit a third outright upset, though a mini-one (1-point line), with Saints winning at Jaguars. Also had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Dolphins, Bengals and Steelers. We're having another big season. All abooaarrd! ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (16-team PPR) -- Yes! Greg's Lobos rose to even at 3-3 with an 85.4 to 63.4 spanking of Randy Scott. Got 24.8 from Patrick Mahomes (who's good even when he isn't great) and a nice 20.6 bounceback from Mike Evans. We're tied for sixth of 16 teams and thinking playoffs. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Yes again! Lobos are now 3-3 with a 139-133 win. Kept the faith in Stefon Diggs and got a 43-point reward. Also cashed 29 from Deshaun Watson. We're tied for fourth place and playoff-hunting. And we get Saquon Barkley back soon. Go 'Bos!

Previous select recent columns: Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (preseason NFL Team Rankings) / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / 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 / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 10, 2019

NBA should quit doing business with China. Latest column; plus Winless Bowl!: Why Dolphins-Redskins on Sunday is not must-lose for Miami; also, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 5 results, tonight's Giants-Patriots pick, newest Herald NFL QB Rankings & more

1) It's THURSDAY OCTOBER 10. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall to Virginia Tech with CSM poll and column, Gators top Auburn, NFL Week 5 picks, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our Thursday Giants-Patriots pick: You know who'll win. But will they cover? Answer: NFL Week 6 Thursday Gem.

Updated Miami Herald NFL Week 5 QB Rankings: Houston's Deshaun Watson wins the Week 5 title with an all-time top-10 point total to vault high in this week's Top 20. But does Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes hang onto the overall No. 1 spot? Find it all here: Miami Herald NFL Week 5 QB Rankings.

NbachinaNBA, OTHERS WHO DEAL WITH CHINA MUST FACE THE HUMAN-RIGHTS VIOLATIONS: Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted something the Chinese government didn’t like, and the NBA has spent much of the past week bending over backwards to express profound regret to all of its great friends in China who might have been offended. Why? Simple. NBA China alone is worth more than $4 billion. It is estimated more than 500 million Chinese regularly consume NBA content. This is American basketball’s richest global partnership, one developed over three decades. But it is an uneasy alliance, one with a dark side — one this controversy has laid bare. And that’s good. The NBA would tell you that, beyond being enriched by the business arrangement, its relationship with China helps build global bridges and bring the world closer. But the relationship also is this: It is a major, immensely popular U.S. sport lending credibility to China — to everything China stands for. Think of it this way: You know how the NFL loves playing games in London every year? Would they still be doing that if Great Britain was notoriously known for systemic human rights violations? But it’s OK for the NBA to do that? And then lamely allude to "political differences?" For my latest column, visit Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? [Image is via usatoday.com]

PicksLoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 5: NFL picks -- Solid. We struggled at 8-7 overall but will happily take the 9-6 against the spread last week. We nailed our Upset of the Week halfway (ATS, not outright) when Pittsburgh covered. Also had underdog Bills and Raiders with the points. We're due a big week straight-up but sailing nicely vs. the Evil Betting Line. LeBatard Show fantasy (16-team PPR) -- Ouch. Greg's Lobos dropped to 2-3, falling to auto-drafting, fantasy-hating Dan LeBatard, 114.9 to 99.6. Oh the indignity! We got a big 28.3 points from Tyler Boyd and 21.3 from Sony Michel, but a subpar 20.5 from Patrick Mahomes, with too many others in single digits. The killer: Zero -- 0 -- from usually reliable Mike Evans. Time to rally, 'Bos! Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- A record-setter! Lobos are now 2-3 after a 191-122 win, a season-high point total for the league. We got a huge 43 from Deshaun Watson, 28 from Allen Robinson and 26 from Dalvin Cook. And this: 36 from the Eagles D/ST! Cannot ever remember that from a defense! Tailwind. Plus I get Saquon Barkley back soon. Go 'Bos!

IT'S WINLESS WEEK IN MIAMI! BUT WHY DOLPHINS-REDSKINS ISN'T MUST-LOSE FOR FINS: It is an even 200 days until the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, or, as Miami Dolphins fans call it, "A reason to live." Excitement is building. In South Florida, what we are feeling is akin to playoff fever — except the exact opposite. Losses stack up before us like chips at a poker table. Now the Hunt For DolfanApril ratchets up. It is Winless Week in Miami, the official kickoff of the Tua Tournament. Redskins at Dolphins on Sunday — the Battle of the Beatens — is the first of six direct matchups this season between what are currently the NFL’s four remaining winless teams. Washington just fired coach Jay Gruden, isn’t sure who its quarterback is, and is a fully engulfed dumpster fire at 0-5 — yet is an early 3 1/2-point road favorite over an 0-4 Miami team coming off a bye week. Which speaks not to any glimmer of light in the Skins tunnel, but to the abject black hole that is this Fins season. Picking a team to win a Redskins-Dolphins game is likely choosing whether to wear underwear made of sandpaper or burlap. Dolphins coach Brian Flores, asked on Monday how an opponent’s coaching change affects his preparation, replied: "We’re just going to go about our business as we normally do.." A cheer might have erupted had Dolfans been in the room. "Keep Doing What You’re Doing — Losing!" might as well be the official team slogan moving forward. And, yet, Dolfans may cheer guilt-free for a win Sunday, because the game is not must-lose for Miami. The why is in my recent column. To read it in full please visit Why Woeful Dolphins-Redskins Matchup Is Not Must-Lose For Miami.

Our other most recent stuff: No Quit In Canes, But Still Bad Loss In Down Year (on home loss to Virginia Tech) / Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years (as NHL season unfurls) / and 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat (as team nears preseason) / Also: Winless But Progress Is Perfect Combo For Dolphins (off recent loss to Chargers).

Previous select recent columns: Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Dolfans, Here Is Your Escape To The Glory Days / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (preseason NFL Team Rankings) / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / 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 / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / 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