April 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: An era ends. With no playoffs, Wade's epic career is over: The G.O.A.T. has left the building. Heat eliminated from playoff contention last Tuesday night at home means no Wade encore. Wednesday at Brooklyn ended the season, and now No. 3 is officially retired. But not before a fitting sendoff by Miami fans in a love-in of a final home game, with Wade's 30-point night the exclamation point. (See links to our Wade Week trilogy above).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 05, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 05, 2019

NFL Wild-Card Weekend playoff picks: Winners here!; plus What was the biggest national sports story of 2018? Annual poll. Here's The AP Top 10. You pick your top 3. Vote now!; also, our recent Dolphins/Hurricanes upheaval columns & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 5. I'm still saying "Happy New Year" and I don't care who objects with their silly rules. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means 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): The 3 days that shook Miami  football, final Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeSend D.Wade out as an all-star: The fan vote is saying the Heat's Dwyane Wade, in his final season, should go out as an NBA all-star starter. The players and media votes should do the same. To read our latest column, visit Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff.

Other most recent columns: The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time (on firing Gase, demoting Tannenbaum). Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM (on hiring new football coach). Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes (on shocking resignation of Mark Richt). 'Bama Shows Miami The Way Back To That Good (on Tide's Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal win). And Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

NFL PLAYOFF PICKS / WILD-CARD WEEKEND: AND THE 4 SURVIVING WINNERS ARE..: The Magical Season of Cote marauds into the postseason under  shower of confetti after a personal- Picksrecord-setting regular season. We’ve been doing NFL picks in the Miami Herald since Don Shula and Dan Marino were still rocking Miami. The Patriots quarterback was somebody named “Hugh Millen.” Bill Belichick was a rookie head coach with the Browns. It was 1991 — making this our 28th season of picks. And our best. Ever. Our .705 season winning percentage overall tied our personal best. And our .582 mark against the spread stands alone on the mountaintop at No. 1, beating the previous record of .574. Not a great finishing kick last week but we still managed to hit on four dogs with points in the Lions, Cowboys, Bears and Bengals. Now we wipe the slate. Playoffs, baby! Chaff has separated from wheat. Wanna-be's like the Dolphins watch on TV while the dozen qualifiers enter the Super Bowl Tournament. This opening weekend eight teams are in play while the four bye kings rest and wait. Our four Wild-Card Weekend picks include one by-the-numbers upset and at least one other that feels like one based on betting trends. Visit NFL Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all of our latest selections.

YOU PICK THE 2018 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-in-review vote on the biggest national sports story in America. The top 10 stories in this poll are 2018not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically by subject here, not in the 1-through-10 order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE (3). And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. On Sunday, following our national vote, we'll offer a separate poll to choose 2018's biggest Greater Miami/South Florida sports story. For now, let's go nationwide. One year ago, you voted "NFL player protests over social justice draws critics led by President Trump" as the No. 1 national story, followed closely by "Astros win 1st World Series to lift city devastated by Hurricane Harvey." What reigned for 2018? You decide, right now. My personal top 10 probably would have found room for LeBron James joining the Lakers, the corruption scandal in college basketball and Serena Williams' successful return from maternity leave, but, again, this is The AP's list. We'll keep the poll open three-plus days and announce results on Sunday as we present the South Florida poll. Vote now! 

Vote for the top three (3) biggest national sports stories of 2018:

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 23, 2018

Heat in purgatory. Can Riley get them out? Latest column; plus when 3 World Cup legends were ours, Panthers stuff, 6 Dolphins in Fantasy Top 200, forgiving Phil, latest Back In My Day & more

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

Floatinghat1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 23. Hurricanes' Lonnie Walker celebrates his first-round NBA Draft selection by the Spurs by standing beside commissioner Adam Silver while wearing a Floating Hat. Anybody who has seen Lonnie's tall, vertical-dreads hairstyle knows why the hat is floating. 2) Click on El Quatro Lobos to see video of myself and three members of the LeBatard Show's Shipping Container rehearsing as a barbershop quartet. 3) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

RilesNewest column: Heat is in NBA purgatory. Can Riley find a way out?: NBA purgatory is having a pretty good team with no clear path to being great. The Heat is there right now. I explore how they got there and whether Pat Riley can get them out in my latest column. It may be Riley's last great challenge. To read, click Heat's Purgatory Is Riley's Challenge. 

Previous column: Wishing Panthers had gone after Barry Trotz: It wasn't that Bob Boughner deserved to be fired. It was that these were not ordinary circumstances, with a pedigreed, championship coach suddenly available in Barry Trotz. I wish the Panthers had been bold, thought big and made an aggressive play. For that column, click The Championship Coach Who Got Away.

Cubillasnow Mullernow BanksnowWHEN 3 WORLD CUP LEGENDS WERE OURS...: English 'keeper Gordon Banks. German striker Gerd Muller. Peruvian maestro Teofilo (Nene) Cubillas. All made their mark in World Cups, then spent their career winters Ftlstrplaying for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the then-vibrant NASL in a span from 1977 to '83. We share what made them World Cup heroes, how they fared as Strikers and what they're doing now in a fond reminiscence. The old Strikers captain who played with them all, Ray Hudson, joins us for the ride. Banks, Muller and Cubillas are pictured, left to right, in recent photos. to read the full column, click When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

FLORIDA PANTHERS TRADE FOR TALENT ... AND A POTENTIAL MESS: The trade with San Jose on Tuesday brings left wing Mike Hoffman and a seventh-round pick in this week's NHL Draft top Florida in exchange for the Panthers' picks in the second, fourth and fifth rounds. It seems a decent trade on the face of it. Hoffman is in his prime at 28 and is a steady scorer who has totaled Hoffman104 goals for Ottawa the past four seasons. But. But! Hoffman comes with baggage that forced him out of Ottawa and then saw San Jose flip him just hours after acquiring him. Find more details here. The essential background, via ESPN.com: On May 4 Melinda Karlsson, wife of the Ottawa captain, filed an order of protection against Monika Caryk, fiance' of Hoffman, alleging she harassed the Karlssons online following the March death of their child, who was stillborn. (Hoffman and his fiancee are pictured). The Karlssons believe Hoffman's girlfriend made the comments on Mrs. Karlsson's Instagram account under a pseudonym. Hoffman and his fiance' deny it all. "It's 150 percent that it's not us," Hoffman told the Ottawa Citizen. "We have nothing to hide. We're willing to cooperate in any way to solve this and prove that it wasn't us." The potential mess did not catch Panthers GM Dale Tallon offguard. "We did our homework and we discussed it with a lot of different people," he said. "We feel that that's in the past. We're very confident he'll be embraced by our team and by their wives and girlfriends. We have a strong culture down there now and I think talking with Mike and all the parties that it will work out to our benefit." It's a huge risk, though. "Burner" accounts on Twitter just led to the Philadelphia 76ers sacking their GM Bryan Colangelo in disgrace. Social media can be a dangerous thing. If it can be proven that Hoffman's fiance cyberbullied another player's wife, taunting her about the death of a child, well, that's the stuff that can ruin not only a relationship, but a career. I hope Hoffman is right that he and his future wife are "150 percent" innocent." I hope Tallon is right that it's in the past and won't still be a lingering cloud as the new season nears.

SIX DOLPHINS MAKE ESPN'S 2018 FANTASY TOP 200: Now out, never too early, ESPN's 2018 Fantasy Top 200 for point-per-reception (PPR) leagues, led by No. 1 overall Le'Veon Bell, the Pittsburgh running back. List includes six Dolphins, with the top-ranked Fin pictured:

KdrakeNo. 44 Kenyan Drake (RB18)

No. 69 DeVante Parker (WR 35)

No. 103 Kenny Stills (WR 48)

No. 134 Albert Wilson (WR 65)

No. 194 Frank Gore (RB59)

No. 198 Mike Gesicki (TE20)

Also notable: Former FIU Panther -- WR T.Y. Hilton (27th overall). Former Miami Hurricanes -- RB Duke Johnson (59th), TE Greg Olsen (73rd), TE Jimmy Graham (90th), WR Allen Hurns (115th) and TE David Njoku (147th). Ex-Dolphins -- WR Jarvis Landry (42nd), RB Jay Ajayi (46th), RB Lamar Miller (76th, also an ex-Cane), TE Charles Clay (141st), Ted Ginn Jr. (157th) and WR Mike Wallace (165th).

PhilOUR OTHER LATEST COLUMNS: PHIL MICKELSON, LEBRON, WORLD CUP: Scorn for Phil Mickelson after his bizzare U.S. Open rules-breaking is easy. Forgiveness takes more effort. Can we? For my latest column, click on Mickelson's Major Breach Deserves Forgiveness. Also, the NBA is winning the offseason, again, and the superstar shuffle is one reason why. For that column click The New Frontrunner to Land LeBron (Maybe). And our two World Cup columns: A Deflated World Cup Thanks to no-USA, and, on why Miami likely will host WC matches in 2026: 1 Dreamed It, 1 Made It Happen. Also: End the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinIn Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand PlanUninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's SubterfugeTannehill's Defining Season,  Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris and Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': BATHROOM TIME!: Those offended by a little  bathroom humor might want to skip my latest BIMD, which debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. Enjoy.

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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. (For our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 11, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins tightly contested fight for No. 1 (surprise!) and what else falls where; plus my Sunday column on Marlins' 25th Anniversary and Jeter's obligation to heal, The List (worst Marlins seasons) & more

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

Calilove1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 11. Not yet heard it? Click Cote Does California Love to hear me rapping my favorite hip-hop song, from last week's LeBatard Show. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami athletes on Forbes' 100 Wealthiest list, new columns on Dolphins and Trump/NFL, R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

25logoLatest Sunday column: Marlins' Anniversary Weekend underlines Jeter's obligation: A weekend to celebrate the Marlins' past also was a time for fans to wonder when the future -- another team worth celebrating -- will finally arrive. That is Derek Jeter's job. And that is my latest Sunday column. To read, click Jeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can Win.

Other most recent columns: In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand PlanUninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's SubterfugeHandicapping the LeBron Summer Sweepstakes. And: When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & Games / The King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

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

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Draft, anniversary make it big week for Fish: The annual three-day MLB draft welcomed 41 new Marlins (25 of them pitchers), led by top pick Connor Scott, 18, an outfielder from Tampa. Fish followed with club's 25th Anniversary Weekend events in series vs. Padres -- the celebration of the past leading one to wonder when a future worth cheering might finally arrive.

2. NBA: Warriors repeat champs, LeBron will talk to Heat: Golden State steamrolled Cleveland 4-0 in first NBA Finals sweep since 2007, likely marking LeBron James' final game with Cavaliers. LeBron will be ring-chase in his free-agent decision this summer, and Stephen A. Smith says the seven teams on his maybe-list  are Cavs, Warriors, 76ers, Celtics, Rockets, Lakers ... and Heat. Yes, Miami, but don't make too much of that. (Or get your hopes up).

3. SOCCER: Countdown 3 days 'til World Cup: Host Russia faces Saudi Arabia in the only match on Thursday as the 2018 men's World Cup gets underway. No U.S. and no Italy among the 32 qualifiers; still, most of the world will be riveted. It'll be refreshing to see people paying attention to Russia for something other than election-meddling.

4. DOLPHINS: This week wraps pre-training camp work: A final wave of offseason OTA practices this Monday through Thursday will be the Dolphins' last on-field work prior to the start of full preseason training camp in late July. That's when it starts to get real for Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill. When games are coming at you like a freight train.

5. TENNIS: Nadal, Halep win French Open: Championship Weekend in Paris saw No. 1-ranked Simona Halep of Romania drop the first set Saturday but still beat Broward County native and resident Sloane Stephens for Halep's first career major win. Today, Rafael Nadal won his 11th French crown in straight sets, denying Dominic Thiem what would have been a seismic upset. 

6. HORSES: Justify win Belmont, Triple Crown: Justify made an impressive, easy glide to the Belmont Stakes on Saturday after earlier winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness -- the 13th Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred racing history. There'd been a 37-year drought until American Paraoah in 2015. Now it's practically a trend.

7. NHL: Washington wins first Stanley Cup: Defeating the Cinderella expansion Vegas Golden Knights 4-1, the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in the club's 43-year history. It also marked the first career crown for superstar Alex Ovechkin. Wild guess: Trump comes through with the invite, and Caps say "Oh yeah, eh!"

8. GOLF: Tiger in this week's U.S. Open: This week's 118th U.S. Open starts Thursday at Shinnecock. Tiger Woods is in it, his yacht docked the near course just to remind you he's still Tiger. This marks the 10th anniversary since Woods' last major win, the 2008 Open. Happy anniversary, anyone?

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Hall of Fame nominees tab 3 Canes: College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2019 nominees include three old Hurricanes in Ray Lewis, Dan Morgan and coach Dennis Erickson. There should be a fourth, Howard Schnellenberger, but as always Snells is a victim of Hall's dumb, intractable rule requiring a minimum .600 career win percentage.

10. TERRELL OWENS: T.O. nixes Canton ceremony: Figured, right? That the first time an NFL player ever said he'd not participate in his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction, it might a controversial career-long maverick like diva-receiver Terrell Owens. Best guess: He'll change his mind. Unless Canton goes all Trump and uninvites him first.

Missing the HB10 cut: Welcome back, Tommy Hutton! ..... Disgraced 76ers executive Bryan Colangelo resigns in shame. And Twitter claims another victim! ..... NFL suspends Julian Edelman four games for PEDs, further enhancing Patriots' reputation as Cheatriots. (Julian shoulda stuck to Tom Brady's diet) ..... Donald Trump uninvites the Eagles to White House and now says he won't invite the Warriors. Somebody please remind Donald it isn't his house. It's ours ..... Former Canes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. arrested for a home burglary in California. Understandable, after a meager $40 million in NFL earnings ..... R.I.P., Anthony Bourdain. There is nothing more insidious than when demons are invisible.

THE LIST: WORST MARLINS SEASONS: The five worst seasons in club history based on winning percentage:

Year    Record                Manager

1998    .333 (54-108)      Jim Leyland

2018    .354 (23-42)        Don Matttingly

2013    .383 (62-100)      Mike Redmond

1993    .395 (64-98)        Rene Lachemann

1999    .395 (64-98)        John Boles

Note: Marlins' current record projects to final mark of 57-105.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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. (For all of our most recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 04, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Dolphins Beef-O-Meter (Parker vs. Chambers), latest Sunday column (moral reckoning in sports), your verdict on LeBron vs. Michael, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 4. Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan poll, your verdict on NBA Finals predictions, Canes in NBA Draft, The List (NBA title droughts) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

KaepLatest Sunday column: Sports were simple, once. No more: Kneeling protests during the national anthem continue a polarizing NFL controversy. A soccer star refuses to join the U.S. Women's National Team rather than wear an LGBT Pride Month patch. An NBA coach in the heart of Texas is outspokenly anti-Trump. Dick's Sporting Goods stops selling assault rifles. Publix donates to a candidate who is pro-NRA. More and more, who we cheer for in sports, where we shop -- everything -- now requires a moral reckoning. This is my latest column. To read, click When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & Games.

Other most recent columns: The King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / Hell Week For Goodell / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

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

Hotbutton1. NBA: LeBron, Cavs in 2-0 Finals hole: Game 2 last night in Golden State offered no remedy for Cleveland in a 122-103 Cavs loss that made it a 2-0 NBA Finals, after Warriors took opener 124-114 in overtime despite LeBron James' 51 points. Next two games are in Cleveland Wednesday and Friday, with LeBron realistically needing to win both to keep hope alive. Quick thought: Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are pretty good! 

2. DOLPHINS: Mandatory minicamp on deck for Fins: Dolphins continue offseason work with a mandatory minicamp this Tuesday through Thursday. Meantime the team signed four draft picks including No. 1 guy Minkah Fitzpatrick and bestowed upon cornerback Bobby McCain a four-year, $27 million extension including $13 million guaranteed. Not bad for a nickelback who comes off the bench. Call the position millionback now.

3. MARLINS: Reeling Fish planning 25th Anniversary Weekend: The reeling Fire-Sale Fish are 20-39 after six straight losses and nine L's in past 10 games as they continue on a 10-game road trip. Team returns next Saturday and Sunday for a 25th Anniversary Weekend. That presumes there are any Marlins fan out there, even one, in a celebratory mood.

4. NHL: Washington takes 2-1 Finals lead: Saturday night's 3-1 Capitals win put Washington up 2-1 over Vegas as the Stanley Cup Finals stays in D.C. for Game 4 on Monday. The expansion Golden Knights are now scrambling. One more loss and Cinderella is on life support.

5. TENNIS: French Open loses Serena to injury: While Rafael Nadal rolls on to what seems a sure spot in the men's final, the women's side on Monday saw Serena Williams withdraw with an arm injury ahead of her quarterfinal match with rival Maria Sharapova. Lucky break for Maria. Williams has dominated the rivalry, winning of 19 of 21 matches. But this was the first time Serena would have faced Sharapova as a New Mommy.

6. HORSES: Justify goes for Triple Crown in 5 days: The Belmont Stakes is next Saturday, with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify a prohibitive 4-5 favorite to win the Triple Crown. After not having had a Triple Crown champ since 1978, Justify would be the sport's second in four years, after American Pharoah in 2015. Justify has dominated in rain on mud. Clear skies may be the field's  best hope.

7. SOCCER: Countdown 10 days 'til World Cup: The month-long men's World Cup begins June 14 in Russia, with Germany (7-2 odds) and Brazil (4-1) the favorites, followed by France and Spain (both 6-1) and Argentina (13-2). Italy shockingly did not qualify. Neither did the U.S., although I'll be chanting "Let's Gooooo States!" anyway, in protest.

8. MLB: Annual draft on deck: The Miami Marlins select 13th overall in the annual MLB Draft this Monday through Wednesday. The NBA draft has two rounds. The NFL draft has seven. Baseball has 40! Um, if you're drafted in, like, the 38th round ... is that something you brag about or reluctantly admit?

9. BRYAN COLANGELO: 76ers exec mired in Twitter scandal: Answer: The 76ers' president of basketball operations reportedly kept several secret Twitter accounts he used to anonymously defend himself, criticize his own players and take shots at other NBA executives. Question: What's the best simplest way to ruin your reputation and possibly get fired in 140 characters or less?

10. SPELLING: A feeling of koinonia for Karthik: Karthik Nemmani, 14, of McKinney, Tex., won the 91st annual Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling koinonia, which means "an intimate spiritual communion." The son of an immigrant from India, Karthik's win continues a spelling bee dominance by children of Indian descent over the past two decades. "I wonder why that is," said the kid who is not a son of immigrants as he played Grand Theft Auto for the 6,000th time.

Missing the HB10 cut: MLB All-Star voting has begun. Why!? ..... The annual Fins Weekend of golf and fishing was Saturday, another chance to hear klng-retired former Dolphins gripe about lack of benefits ..... Johnny Manziel made his CFL preseason debut. Not sure if that says more about the state of Canadian football, or of Manziel ..... It's the Memorial this week as Tiger Woods continues to not win golf tournaments.

DpDOLPHINS BEEF-O-METER: DEVANTE PARKER VS. CHRIS CHAMBERS: So foremr Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers goes on Ethan Skolnick and Chris Wittyngham's Five Reasons podcast and ranks DeVante Parker (pictured) the third best current Fins receiver, after Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson. The oft-injured Parker was lucky. Chambers could have had him fourth, after Danny Amendola, too. Anyway, Parker gets angry, Tweets that nobody cares what Chambers thinks.  OK. For what it's worth, a per-game comparison of Chambers' 100-game Dolphins career and Parker's 43-game Miami career thus far:

Player                        Receptions   Yards      TDS per game

Chris Chambers             4.05           56.88     0.43

DeVante Parker             3.23           44.37     0.19

Note: Chambers averaged 14.0 yards per catch to Parker's 13.7. Chambers made one Pro Bowl to Parker's zero.

POLL RESULTS: SURPRISE! IT'S LEBRON OVER MICHAEL: Rarely am I surprised by the result of one of our blogpolls, but this surprised me. I asked, "What best reflects your opinion on who should be considered the greatest NBA player of all time?" And it was 47.74 percent for LeBron James vs. 30.04% for Michael Jordan. Another 16.46% voted "Still Michael, but LeBron narrowing gap," while 5.76% voted "Neither; someone else."

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): BRINSON TOPS .160!: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .846   48  188   36  56   26   8-2-7      .298

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .800   54 210  35  52   31  10-1-12      .248

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .697   53 206  22  56   28   6-0-5      .272

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .492   57  198  12  32   19    3-0-7     .162

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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.

For all of our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 28, 2018

Memorial Day: With reverent thanks, our annual tribute video; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else lands where; also, Roger Goodell's Hell Week (newest column), 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MAY 28. It is Memorial Day. To all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and their loves ones: Thank you! 2) Flabbergast and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Case for Canes baseball to make NCAAs, NFL's new anthem policy aims to hide truth, your verdict on Tannehill & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest Sunday column: Roger Goodell's Hell Week: Why NFL's new national-anthem policy is blowing up in commissioner's face is topic of my latest column. To read: Hell Week For Goodell. Other recent columns: NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim MorrisNBA Rolling A Pair of 7s / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

Memorial dayMEMORIAL DAY: OUR ANNUAL TRIBUTE VIDEO: On Memorial Day, today, we honor the fallen heroes who deserve our remembrance and thanks every day. They are the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. military. This video is a song, "50,000 Names," by the country legend George Jones, about Vietnam losses and that war's memorial wall. But the sentiment applies to all military action over the years right through to the post-9/11 conflicts and the war on terrorism. This video is sentimental, unabashedly so. If you lost a loved one in action, this is for you:

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

Hotbutton1. NBA: LeBron comes through again, reaches Finals again: It was Cleveland and LeBron James winning in Boston  last night and Golden State at Houston tonight in the NBA's first pair of conference-finals Game 7s since 1979. Is anyone out there -- anybody -- still doubting LeBron!? BY the way, when the Celtics led 2-0 and the West was tied 1-1, I wrote in this column that the two Game 7s would happen. Most of you laughed. Well ... you're welcome

2. NFL: New anthem-protest policy is polarizing (of course): Commissioner Roger Goodell revealed a new national anthem protest policy that mandates all players on the field stand during the anthem or be subject to fines, with players who don't wish to stand confined to staying in their lockerooms, hidden from sight. President Trump likes the league's new policy. Fans of freedom of expression ... not so much.

3. DOLPHINS: Tannehill back as Fins begin offseason work: The return to the field of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, after a season lost to injury, took center stage as the Fins completed their first three offseason OTA practices, with the next ones coming up this Tuesday though Thursday. Next big deal: A mandatory June 5-7 minicamp. "Can Tannehill stay healthy?" is a reasonable question. So is this: "Can he raise his game and be better than ever?"

4. UM BASEBALL: Denied! Canes, Morris don't get Monday miracle on NCAAs: Going 1-1 in the ACC Tournament after a 27-25 regular season wasn't enough to earn the Canes an NCAA Tournament bid when the field of 64 was announced earler today. It would have taken an answered prayer for coach Jim Morris to make the national playoffs for one last shot at a College World Series title in his final season. Alas, he's done with no last shot at Omaha.  

5. MARLINS: Return of Hanley Ramirez? Um, don't count on it: Fire-Sale Fish are 19-33 after being swept at home by Washington, and now are out on a 10-game road trip. There's Hanley Ramirez chatter since the Red Sox announced they're parting ways, but don't expect his return. Hanley is 34, batting .254 and in a role (1B/DH) the Marlins can't use. Another big factor why he won't be signed: Would cost money.

6. NHL: Vegas-Washington Finals begins Monday: Normally Washington, yet to win a Stanley Cup in 43 franchise years, would get to be Lovable Underdog in this unorthodox Stanley Cup Finals that begins tonight out west. But not here. Not when the expansion Vegas Golden Knights aim to be the first first-year franchise ever to win a championship in any of America's Big Four team sports. Fans of hockey's Original Six teams are looking at this matchup and weeping softly. 

7. TENNIS: Serena back on major stage as French Open begins: Year's second tennis major began Sunday at Roland-Garros in Paris with defending champ Rafael Nadal, King of Clay, the clear men's favorite again. Simona Halep narrowly tops a far more unpredictable women's field that also will see Serena Williams play in her first major since giving birth. Serena is unseeded because the WTA, in effect, penalizes women for being out on maternity leave. (Aside to WTA: It's the 21st Century now. Join us, won't you!)

8. SOCCER: Real Madrid wins Champions League (again): Real Madrid bounced Liverpool 3-1 on Saturday to win the UEFA Champions League title for the third straight year, led by Gareth Bale's two goals including a gorgeous bicycle kick. We'll all forget it in 18 days when the World Cup starts. But, for now, Real is the real deal. Again.

9. AUTO RACING: Power wins INdy 500 in Danica's last ride: The fabulously named Will Power won the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday in the final career ride for Danica Patrick, which ended in an early crash. The big day for motorsports also included the Coca-Cola 600, but, sorry NASCAR, this was the one day of the year when IndyCar racing glommed the spotlight.

10. MEMORIAL DAY: Thanks to those who made ultimate sacrifice: Not to nitpick, but please don't cheerily say "Happy Memorial Day!" as if you have no idea what this holiday of remembrance is about. It also is not the occasion to thank a veteran for his or her service. This is to honor our fallen war dead. So: Have a somber, reflective Memorial Day!   

Missing the HB10 cut: There is speculation David Beckham's new Miami MLS team will be nicknamed Freedom. Right now, I'd preferred it be called, "Get a damned stadium built first!" ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee finals are this coming Thursday, when I'll be reminded again how many 10-year-olds are smarter than me ..... Countdown 15 days 'til Justify goes for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes. Break a leg! No, wait. That's just for actors. Sorry ..... Are Harry and Meghan still married? ..... ESPN's third annual World Fame 100 came out, listing the globe's most famous athletes. They lost me at the ping-pong player. I wish were kidding.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': YELICH OVERTAKES STANTONThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .838   42  167   30  51   23   8-2-5      .305

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .800   50 195  34  48   28  10-1-11      .246

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .651   46 189  19  50   23   6-0-3      .265

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .474   50  177  11  28   17    2-0-6     .158

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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.

For our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 21, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See the surprise at No. 1 and what else falls where; plus links to latest columns, 4-Man Outfield (updated), The List (NBA Game 7s) & more

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

Chris1) It's MONDAY, MAY 21. Happy birthday on Monday to Christopher (pictured), a.k.a. Fat Chris, Fast Chris, Stats & Info and more. Love you, kid! #FirstBorninIt 2) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Farewell Jim Morris, solving Jeter's problem, NBA playoffs chasing history, The List (longest-serving coaches), your verdict on legalized sports betting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Jeter's Marlins, Jim Morris' farewell, NBA playoffs, more: A Solution To Jeter's ImpatienceHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim MorrisNBA Rolling A Pair of 7sAlso: Supremes Got It Right On Sports BettingConfessions of a Lifelong DolfanAdam Gase Places His Bets and Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MAY 20): 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. UM BASEBALL: ACCs next as Morris waves goodbye to home fans: Hurricanes beat Boston College twice before a Saturday rainout in coach Jim Morris' final homestand before retiring after 25 seasons. UM isn't done yet, though. The Canes (27-25) are headed to the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C., facing Notre Dame Tuesday and then Clemson Thursday. Canes were 2-1 vs. both schools this season. Miami needs a big performance in ACCs for a shot at an NCAA Tournament invite. Morris would end it all back in Omaha if sentiment meant anything. If only...

2. NBA: They're alive! LeBron, Steph lift Cavs, Warriors: Cleveland within 2-1 of Boston in East finals after Saturday's 116-86 LeBron James-fueled win at The Land. Then Golden State made it 2-1 in the West over Houston on Sunday led by Steph Curry. Still thinking my prediction of the NBA's first two 7-game conference finals since 1979 is looking solid. (Um, unless the Warriors keep looking like they did Sunday).

3. GAMBLING: Supreme Court OKs spread of legal sports betting: For Las Vegas and Nevada, the game of monopoly is ending. Soon any state that wishes to may have legalized sports betting, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court ruling this week. Most everybody seems happy with the notable exception of your bookie Vinny Down at the Bar and others to whom taking illicit bets under the table had become a lucrative cottage industry. Sorry, Vin.

4. DOLPHINS: Week offers first full glance at 2018 team: Miami's OTA practices this Tuesday through Thursday will offer a first look at the Dolphins' full 2018 squad as veterans take the field with first-year guys including recent draftees. All eyes will be on quarterback Ryan Tannehill as he returns gingerly from last summer's knee injury that shelved him all season. Translated: Any defender who forgets and accidentally tackles Tannehill will be pilloried.

5. MARLINS: Jeter: "I'm not a patient man": Fire-Sale Fish are 17-29 after giving up six runs in bottom of ninth to wrap up Braves series yesterday and now visit Mets for three in a six-game road trip. Meantime boss Derek Jeter says he is impatient to win. OK, do something about it, chief. Spend money to augment your ground-up business model.

6. NHL: Vegas in Finals, Tampa Bay close: Vegas won again Sunday to eliminated Winnipeg 4-1 in the West and reach the Stanley Cup Finals as an expansion team. Tampa Bay Lightning is up 3-2 over Washington in the East finals after a third straight series win Saturday night, and tries to clinch today. Looming: One of the most nontraditional Stanley Cup Finals on record.

7. HORSE RACING: Justify wins Preakness: Kentucky Derby winner Justify predictably was a clear betting favorite for this coming Saturday's 143rd Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, the second leg of the thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, and won as expected, though barely. Triple Crown, anyone? Other top contenders Saturday included Good Magic and Greg's Lobos. OK I made up that last one.

8. SOCCER: Prep on for Real Madrid, Liverpool: A Spanish giant and an iconic English club prepare to go at it this coming Saturday for the UEFA Champions League title in Kiev, Ukraine. No word yet whether Vladimir Putin and Russia will attempt to exert influence and fix the result of the election soccer match.

9. TENNIS: Nadal, Serena center-stage as French Open nears: Year's second tennis major opens next Sunday at Roland-Garros in Paris, with Rafael Nadal the clear men's betting favorite and Simona Halep out front of a bunched women's field. Serena Williams, on the comeback from maternity leave and childbirth, is among top five women's faves. You get the feeling Serena might still be playing when her newborn daughter starts dominating in juniors.

10. ROYALTY: Harry and Meghan tie the royal knot: Princess Harry and Meghan Markle wed Saturday in a Royal Wedding that enthralled Great Britain and much of the world, according to my wife, who was glued to the ceremony and pomp. First offspring due date: Nine months from last night.

Missing the HB10 cut: The men's soccer World Cup in Russia is now less than one month away. Vladimir Putin has already decided who'll join Russia in the final, but he isn't saying ..... CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed Johnny Manziel. The latest indication Colin Kaepernick may never play again ..... Shaquille O'Neal is selling his Orlando-area mansion for $28 million. One drawback: When you live there, you start mumbling so softly nobody can hear or understand you ..... The Cleveland Browns are on Hard Knocks. Wait, haven't they been for like 30 years? ..... Chuck Liddell is making an MMA comeback. And we care why? ..... UCF coach Scott Frost and Nick Saban keep jabbing each other over UCF's national-champion claims. Man, I hate to agree with Saban! ..... Phoenix Suns win NBA draft lottery and No. 1 pick. Wait. They had worst record. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? ..... Answer: Dallas man, 25, arrested for impersonating 17-year-old to join high-school basketball team and relive his glory days. Question: What's a new defintion for 'pathetic'?

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON HITS SLAM BUT STILL LAGSThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .872   44 171  32  45   27  10-1-11      .263

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .809   35  138   22  40   19   6-1-5      .290

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .591   41 171  15  40   21   5-0-3      .234

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .510   44  155  11  26   17    2-0-6     .168

THE LIST: NBA CONFERENCE-FINAL GAME 7S: Here are the five most recent full 4-3 series in each conference final, with result and series leading scorer:

Eastern Conference

Year    Result                                           Leading scorer

2013   Miami def. Indiana                         LeBron James (MIA), 29.0      

2012   Miami def. Boston                          LeBron James (MIA), 33.6

2005   Detroit def. Miami                         Dwyane Wade (MIA), 25.8

2001   Philadelphia def. Milwaukee          Allen Iverson (PHI), 30.5 

1998   Chicago def. Indiana                      Michael Jordan (CHI), 31.7

Western Conference

Year    Result                                          Leading scorer

2016   Golden State def. Oklahoma City   Kevin Durant (OKC), 30.0

2002   L.A. Lakers def. Sacramento          Shaquille O'Neal (LAL), 30.3

2000   L.A. Lakers def. Portland               Shaquille O'Neal (LAL), 25.9

1996   Seattle def. Utah                           Karl Malone (UTA), 27.0

1993   Phoenix def. Seattle                      Charles Barkley (PHO), 25.6

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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.

For all of our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 14, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No.1 and what else falls where; plus confessions of a lifelong Dolphins fan. My column, with vintage photos from boyhood; also your verdict on U.S. teams playing abroad & more

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

Moms1) It's MONDAY, MAY 14. Hope you moms out there had a lovely Mother's Day! We enjoyed a group brunch at Vienna Cafe and it was terrific. The bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas didn't hurt. 2) By the way, saw James Taylor at the BB&T last week and he was great. A genuine dude and one of the best voices around. 3) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exporting games outside U.S. with poll, Adam Gase's big gamble, latest Back In My Day, state sports' Twitter reach, your inspiring-most-optimism verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

"Happy birthday, Michael! Love you!," said father Greg Cote to his youngest son.

Auer GrieseCONFESSIONS OF A LIFELONG DOLPHINS FAN ... ME: Readers who find me too critical of the Dolphins may find it surprising, but I grew up a diehard fan of the team. I am still a Dolphins fan at the core. I don't think you ever outgrow what you loved as a kid, and what hooked you on Program Pennantsports. I just happen to have grown up to be a Miami Herald sports columnist who writes about the team he adored as a boy. This is the topic of my very unusual, very personal latest column. To read it in full, click Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan. I think anybody whose fandom dates to the expansion years, or at least predates Dan Marino, will especially relate. I detail the fan I was and how it started. The four photos here harken to those early days. Left to right: The program from the team's first-ever home game, an exhibition in August 1966; a Dolphins pennant identical to the white one that hung on my bedroom wall; a (very) young Bob Griese appearing in a magazine ad for Velda Farms milk; and a Joe Auer Royal Castle player card. In the column I also write about how that fandom informs the way I think about the team now, a fan's sensibility factoring into the frustration I feel over the prolonged, continuing downturn of the franchise's fortunes.

Other most recent columns: Adam Gase Places His Bets / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money / Burden Is On Team, Not Player It Chose.

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

Hotbutton1. NBA: LeBron struggles in Game 1 loss at Celtics: LeBron James may have expected the customary warm greeting from kind Boston fans Sunday (!), but bet he didn't expect a humbling 15-point game on 5-for-16 shooting  as the Cavaliers gor routed 108-83 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference best-of-seven finals. Houston and Golden State open the Western finals tonight. The pretenders (talking to you, Toronto and Philly) are back on the couch and the NBA has the Final Four we all figured would happen while teams like the Heat ponder how to get that good.

2. DOLPHINS: Rookie minicamp begins offseason work: Dolphins on Saturday completed a two-day rookie indoctrination for first-year guys led by top  draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick. Full team practice days happened May 22-24 and 29-31 with a June 5-7 mandatory minicamp ahead of full training camp. Coach Adam Gase likes his team. Others, not so much, with ESPN's No. 30 ranking of Miami indicative of low regard from the outside. Somebody's wrong here.

3. MARLINS: Fish back to earth, still in cellar: After a brief hot streak the Fire-Sale Fish are 14-26 after Sunday's loss as a seven-game homestand continues Tuesday vs. the Dodgers. One Marlin player looking through rose-colored shades said the other day Miami would "continue to shock the world." Continue? When are they going to start!? 

4. NHL: Capitals, Jets out front in final four: While the Panthers watch, the W's have it so far in NHL's Eastern and Western conference finals, with Washington up 2-0 over Tampa Bay and Winnipeg up 1-0 over Vegas. From the West will come the more compelling story, with either Winnipeg having a shot to win Canada's first Stanley Cup since 1993 or Vegas making the Finals as an expansion team.

5. GOLF: Simpson wins Players with ease: At The Players Championship outside Jacksonville, golf's fifth major to some, Tiger Woods shot 65-69 on the weekend. That's the good news, Tigerheads. The bad? He finished seven shots off the lead because Webb Simpson ran away with the damned tournament, winning by four strokes. 

6. MLB: Yankees-Red Sox headed for London: The scourge of a trend -- American teams exporting meaningful games abroad -- crossed a line this week when MLB announced the Yankees and Red Sox would play two regular season games in London in 2019. The crown-jewel rivalry of America's Pastime should be played in Boston or Da Bronx. Period. Am I alone on that?

7. UM BASEBALL: Hot Canes win eighth in a row!: The once-sinking Hurricanes are now 25-25 and on a season-best eight-game winning streak after completing a series sweep Sunday at Virginia Tech. If Canes continue to finish strong and then impress in the upcoming ACC Tournament, they may have a chance to sneak into an NCAA regional after all in Jim Morris' final season.

8. SOCCER: Real Madrid, Liverpool reach big final: Club titans Real Madrid and Liverpool will meet May 26 in Kiev, Ukraine for the UEFA Champions League crown after both won semifinals. The Spain vs. England final reprises the same matchup from 1981, won 1-nil by Liverpool. Real Madrid is the (very slight) favorite this time.

9. HORSE RACING: Justify readies for Preakness: Countdown five days 'til Saturday's 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, and Kentucky Derby winner Justify is an early 1-2 betting favorite to make it two-thirds of the way to thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown. What's more impressive: A horse winning a Triple Crown? Or Mr. Ed being able to talk?

10. MOTHER'S DAY: Happy your-day to all the great Moms!: Love and respect and best wishes to all of the great Moms out there. Not to the lousy ones who never shoulda had kids. But to  the great ones! Hope y'all had a wonderful day.

 Missing the HB10 cut: The Hot Button Top 10 is happy to be back after a holiday last week in Montreal spent soaking up the history and culture and mostly drinking beer ..... The NBA draft lottery is this Tuesday. Agents are already counting their money ..... Albert Pujols collected his 3,000th hit. It's axiomatic. The more who do it, the less special it becomes ..... Amanda Nunes retained her bantamweight title by whuppin' Raquel Pennington in UFC 224 last night in Rio de Janeiro. Or, UFC CCXXIV to our Roman readers.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': STANTON SURGINGThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .855   40 155  28  39   26   9-1-10      .252

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .783   29  115   17  33   14   5-1-3      .287

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .658   36 151  12  40   20   5-0-3      .265

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .522   38  134  10  23   13    2-0-5     .172

POLL RESULT: MOST AGAINST EXPORTING AMERICAN GAMES ABROAD: We asked, "With Yankees-Red Sox in London next year the latest example, what best represents your view of U.S. sports leagues playing meaningful games in foreign countries?" Your verdict: 55.38 percent against it, 32.31% for it, 7.69% were for it but think it's gone overboard, and 4.62% undecided.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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.

For all of our recent columns: MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 30, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what's No. 1 (well, no duh) and what else slots where; plus Grade-the-Dolphins-draft poll (last day to vote!), The List (Fins all-time drafted TD producers), 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 30. Fairwell, April. 2) The accuser isn't always right. I believe Tom Brokaw. 3) Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins pick-by-pick draft analysis and poll, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our Dolphins draft columns: Main column on first round: Dolphins Needed Boldness But Played It Safe. Quick-take short columns: Solid Contact, No Home Run and Next Gronk (They Hope) And A Mini-Linebacker.

DolsGRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT! ANNUAL POLL. VOTE NOW: I know, we all hate instant analysis, right? And yet we all have instant opinions. An instant gut feeling on how much we like (or don't like, or somewhere in between) our team's draft. So this isn't science. We all might feel differently in a year or so. This is just a pulse read now on how Dolfans are feeling about Miami's '18 draft. I'd base my vote on the quality of players drafted and on how they addressed needs. But your criteria is your own. Does the Dolphins' haul leave you happy? Disappointed? What? Poll purposely does not include an 'F' grade because, well, come on. Vote now!

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Alabama safety Fitzpatrick lead Fins draft haul: Miami imported eight new players over three days, led by versatile 'Bama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, whom Fins will use as free safety. Oddity: Two tight ends among first four picks. Surprise: Didn't draft either of two need positions: Quarterback or defensive tackle. Could have moved up in first round for their future QB, but stood pat. Fitzpatrick's really good, but this draft was a step, not a leap.

2. NFL: Quarterback drama, Griffin win the weekend: Baker Mayfield going No. 1 overall and Josh Allen slipping after some Dumb Teen Tweets led the Day 1 drama in the NFL Draft. But by Day 3 the draft's heart was stolen by one-handed UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin being signed by the Seahawks. UCF claiming to be national champion? Not real. Griffin as an inspiration to anybody who's been told no-you-can't? Real.

3. HEAT: Early-ousted Miami plots path forward: The Godfather Pat Riley takes the throne today for his annual postseason State of the Heat address to gathered local media. Riles will be as eloquent as always, spewing perfect soundbites and filling up notebooks. But will he have an answer for the one overarching question: How does a team that just got bounced 4-1 in the first round bridge the enormous gulf between low playoff seed and championship contender?

4. NBA: LeBron's monster show carries Cavs in Game 7: It was LeBron James with 45 on the home wood for Cleveland in a 105-101 Game 7 ousting of Indiana on Sunday to close the first round, after Philadelphia, Toronto and Boston previously advanced in the East. Out West, second round already underway with Golden State-New Orleans and Houston-Utah. Conference finals? Nothing stops Golden State vs. Houston, but the final two in East is anybody's guess.

5. MARLINS: Signs of life for the flopping Fish: The Fire-Sale Fish still are only 9-18 but have won four of their past five games as the Phillies come to town for three starting tonight. Marlins can't hit, but the pitching actually has been mostly solid lately. Miami prevailed the other day when Wei-Yin "Disabled List" Chen won in his first start in nearly a full year. OK, so his work is done! 

6. NHL: Conference semifinals underway: Boston leads Tampa Bay 1-0 and PIttsburgh and Washington are 1-1 in the East. In the West Winnipeg-Nashville and Vegas-San Jose both are knotted 1-1. For me the best storylines are out West, where Vegas is trying to win a Stanley Cup as a first-year expansion team and Winnipeg is aiming to bring the Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993, eh!

7. PANTHERS: Cats don't get lucky in draft lottery: The order for the June 22-23 NHL Draft was determined Saturday and the Florida Panthers, who narrowly missed the playoffs despite a pretty solid 96-point season, shook out at No. 15 overall, a mid-pack, meh result. This draft is seen as eight dynamic talents and then a dropoff, so barring a major tradeup by Cats, don't expect another Sasha Barkov in this summer's haul.

8. HORSE RACING: Countdown 5 days 'til Kentucky Derby: Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown season leaves the gate this coming Saturday at Churchill Downs, where Justify was a 2-1 betting favorite when last we checked. Unfortunately, the horse Gronkowski -- yes, named after the Patriots star, who has a small ownership stake -- will miss the Derby after spiking a fever. Two legs or four, health always an issue with those darn Gronkowskis!

9. SOCCER: Liverpool, Real Madrid in charge in Champs League: The UEFA Champions League is nearing its championship matchup. In the second leg of semifinals, Real Madrid is up one goal on Bayern Munich heading into their Tuesday match, while Liverpool is a big plus-three on Roma in the other semi on Wednesday. It was a miracle Roma got this far. Do they have another astonishment in them?

10. UM BASEBALL: Sad-season Canes avoid sweep at FSU: The stunningly woeful UM baseball team improved to 18-25 with a Sunday win at No. 14 Florida State to avoid being swept. It will take a miracle for Jim Morris to put a smile at the end of his final season as coach. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Missing the HB10 cut is taking this Sunday off to go sailing on Biscayne Bay.

THE LIST: BIGGEST TD-PRODUCERS EVER DRAFTED BY DOLPHINS: By passing, rushing and receiving, here are the players drafted by the Miami Dolphins who have produced at least 50 career touchdowns in the NFL:

RK  Player, Pos.                             Rd-Yr Drafted   TDs  As Dolphin

1    Dan Marino, QB                        1st - 1983        429      429

2    Bob Griese, QB                         1st - 1967        199      199

3    Joe Theismann, QB                   4th - 1971       177          0

4    Ryan Tannehill, QB                    1st - 2012       112+     112+

5    Bill Kenney, QB                         12th - 1978      110         0

6    Scott Mitchell, QB                      4th - 1990       106       12

7    Mark Clayton, WR                      8th - 1983        85        82

8    Nat Moore, WR                          3rd - 1974        75        75

9    Larry Csonka, RB                       1st - 1968         68       57

10  Chad Henne, QB                        2nd - 2008        61+     33

The five other 50-plus guys: David Woodley (60), Mark Duper (59), Chris Chambers (58), Anthony Carter (57) and Freddie Solomon (52). Former Dolphin Jarvis Landry, with 23 TDs at age 25, has chance to join list.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': STANTON OVERTAKES LEADThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and constantly updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Monday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .763   27 109  20  26   15   5-1-5      .239

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .762   17  65   11  17    9    2-1-2      .262

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .601   25 108   8  27   17   3-0-2      .250

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .513   26  92    7  15    8    2-0-3      .163

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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.

Our six-pack of recent Heat playoff-run columns: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry ThemWhiteside Must Rise Up NowIn Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust and The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

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

Twitter @gregcote