July 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Year        NBA champion                    NHL champion

2019       Toronto Raptors                  St. Louis Blues

2006       Miami Heat                         Carolina Hurricanes

1999       San Antonio Spurs               Dallas Stars

1991       Chicago Bulls                      Pittsburgh Penguins

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 01, 2019

The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Heat/Jimmy Butler, U.S. World Cup run, Luongo retirement all battle for week's top spot. See who's No. 1 and what else lands where; plus the Rapinoe and Butler columns, radio today, Raconteurs video & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 1. Radio today in addition to Tuesday. Le Batard Show. ESPN Radio. Tune in now! 2) Welcome July, month of independence! See ya next year, June bug. 3) Always football season around here, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. women roll into World Cup semifinals, Roberto Luongo retires, Udonis Haslem takes flamethrower to critics, Willie Nelson's "Immigrant Eyes" video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Click here for My Heat/Jimmy Butler column.

MeganrapMEGAN RAPINOE OWNS THE WORLD CUP, AND IT'S GLORIOUS! NEW COLUMN: Megan Rapinoe is not afraid of a fight. Not afraid of expectations, any opponent, criticism, controversy or the president of the United States. It is her World Cup now. She is the most important athlete on the planet at the moment, a woman in full power, on a mission, carrying her team, taking on the world. And it is a rather awesome thing to see. Rapinoe has scored all four U.S. goals in the knockout stage of this World Cup to lead America into Tuesday's semifinal vs. England. But she has been just as noteworthy off the field, standing up for equal rights, social justice and equal pay. She is outspokenly anti-Trump, polarizing for that, but unabashedly unapologetic it. She is on a mission, a woman in full power, and she will not shut up. For myy latest column, please visit: It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field.

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated through Monday, 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. SOCCER: U.S. women blast into World Cup semifinals: U.S. faces England  Tuesday in the Women's World Cup semifinals, after eliminating host France 2-1 in the quarters -- the American side once again led by Megan Rapinoe. It's Netherlands vs. Sweden in the other semifinal on Wednesday. America's fourth World Cup title and second straight is close enough to taste now. On my count: "Let's gooooo States!"  

2. HEAT: Miami, Jimmy Butler agree to terms: A lot going on! Heat are getting Jimmy Butler in a three-way sign-and-trade that sends Josh Richardson to Philly and sees Hassan Whiteside go to Portland. Meantime, Heat No. 1 draft pick Tyler Herro out of Kentucky and Georgetown's undrafted Trey Mourning -- Alonzo's son -- headline Miami's 12-man NBA Summer League roster. Games start July 5 in Las Vegas, after a three-game tournament in Sacramento starting Monday. Heat's five-game preseason schedule opens Oct. 8 at home vs. Spurs. In other team news, Udonis Haslem, on Instagram, took a flamethrower to critics who say he should retire. He may yet, but doesn't want you telling him what to do.  

3. PANTHERS: Luongo retires; Cats sign Bobrovsky: Busy time for the Cats, led by Luongo -- third-winningest goaltender in NHL history -- announcing he's calling it quits after 19 seasons including 11 in two stints with Florida. Decision not a shock, but still seismic news. Farewell, Lu. The Panthers wrapped up their four-day developmental camp for young guys including No. 1 draft pick Spencer Knight, and Monday signed their top free-agent target, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

4. NBA: 'Special K's' free agency begins Sunday: Gentlemen, start your spending! NBA's wheelin' and dealin' all started Sunday and call it the "Special K's" free agency, with Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant (reportedly to Brooklyn) and Kyrie Irving (also Nets-bound) the three biggest available prizes, and Kemba Walker (headed to Celtics), Klay Thompson (staying put) and Kristaps Porzingis (to Mavericks) perhaps next. Should be an exciting offseason -- even in Miami, presuming the Jimmy Butler thing goes through.

5. SOCCER: U.S. men in Gold Cup semifinals, Copa America to semis: A couple of nice men's little sideshows to the Women's World Cup. The oft-maligned U.S. men's national team beat Curacao 1-0 Sunday night to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, after sailing through group play at 3-0 by a combined 11-0 score. And the Copa America is down to the semifinals, highlighted by a Brazil-Argentina heavyweight match Tuesday. Viva futbol!

6. MARLINS: Alcantara selected for ASG as Fish head on road: Marlins fell to Phils in Sunday's matinee to wrap a six-game homestand, now it's six straight on the road heading into the All-Star Break. Miami's best bet to be picked as an All-Star reserve? No clear frontrunner. I liked Brian Anderson -- but it was young pitcher Sandy Alcantara getting the nod today.

7. HORSES: Gulfstream's Summer Of Speed tops summer schedule: Gulfstream's 14-race Summit of Speed was led by the $250,000 Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes, won Saturday by favorite Stormy Embrace for the second straight year, earning an automatic entry into November's Breeders’ Cup Grade 1 Filly & Mare Turf Stakes. Saturday's card marked Gulfstream's biggest race day of the summer meet.

8. TENNIS: Upsets begin fortnight at Wimbledon: The sport's third of four Grand Slam majors began Monday in London and runs two weeks. Defending men's champ Novak Djokovic is men's betting favorite ahead of usual suspects Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Women's pick is Ashleigh Barty ahead of Serena Williams, with 2018 winner Angelique Kerber only the fifth pick. Serena needs one more major win to tie Margaret Court's record of 24 favorite, but can she? She's 37 and last won a major in early 2017, now fighting much younger opponents but also time. Two big women's upsets Monday: Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka and Venus Williams both ousted.

9. INTER MIAMI: MLS expansion team after U.S. men's star: While they're trying to build stadium(s), the 2020 Major League Soccer arrival is also trying to build a roster. Latest speculation: David Beckham's team is after U.S. national team rising star Tyler Boyd, a 24-year-old winger currently leading the American's Gold Cup charge. Inter Miami has his "discovery rights," which are, well, like first dibs.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp dates: New head coach Brian Flores will lead Miami through 11 practices starting July 25 through Aug. 6, prior to the first preseason game Aug. 8. All practices will be at the Davie/Nova Southeastern HQ except for an Aug. 3 scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium. Bring your sunscreen. But at least you won't be wearing 40 pounds of equipment.

Missing the HB10 cut: Yankees swept Red Sox in London. Teams totaled 50 runs in two games, giving Brits the mistaken impression baseball is an exciting sport ..... Baseball named its 16 All-Star Game starters, excluding the two pitchers. The Democrats have more presidential candidates than baseball has starters ..... Bob Ley retired from ESPN this week after 40 years. He was kind enough to have us on Outside The Lines several times. Terrific guy ..... Some sentences are so absurd they need no elaboration. So: Breakdancing is headed to the 2024 Olympics ..... A Kansas City radio station fired host Kevin Kietzman for saying Chiefs coach Andy Reid "fix" either his players or his family. Reid has lost one son to a drug overdose and has another son who has had addiction problems. Ouch ..... Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo was named NBA MVP, deserved it and gave an emotional acceptance speech, after which the classless Rockets embarrassed themselves with tweets saying James Harden shoulda won ..... Australia banging in the Cricket World Cup. Updates as warranted ..... The Tour de France starts in six days. It was more fun when everybody was getting suspended for doping ..... Vanderbilt wins College World Series ..... O.J. Simpson: "I did it!" No, not that. He just meant he's on Twitter now ..... Answer: The U.S. championships in taekwondo and fencing are both going on. Question: What are two sports nobody except participants and their families will watch? ..... Somebody check on LaVar Ball to make sure he's OK. Been almost a week since he's said anything stupid ..... Update: Countdown now 2,548 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

THE RACONTEURS HAVE RETURNED TO SAVE ROCK 'N ROLL: Jack White, Brendan Benson and The Raconteurs are back with their first new album in 10 years, Help Us Stranger, and here is the (almost) title track, "Help Me Stranger":  

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 24, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Heat, soccer, drafts brawl for top spot. See who gets it, and what else falls where this week; plus our two Heat draft columns (a Herro sandwich) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 24. Always football season, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life: Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat draft guard Tyler Herro and why Riley needs to have hit big, Panthers draft goalie Spencer Knight, The List (Heat high picks), O.J. on Twitter, Taylor Swift's message & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

TherroOur most recent column quartet: The latest: Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It. From draft night: Heat, Riley Need To Have Hit Big With Herro. As free agency nears: Heat Can Only Watch As Seismic Talent Shift Quakes NBA. And, uh oh: O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him. Also: Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic / Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / And Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami gets flashy Kentucky guard Herro in 1st round: The Heat just got a little more swaggery. That's a good thing. Kentucky guard Tyler Herro arrived in a purple suit and all blinged out with the 13th overall pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night. Miami later got Stanford forward KZ Okpala in the second round. Heat may have reached a tad for Herro, but a South Florida sports scene shy on starpower just got an infusion of interesting. Heat are expected to be quiet in upcoming free agency, but at least their draft was splashy.

2. SOCCER: U.S. women face Spain in World Cup knockout stage: The round of 16 is underway in France after no major surprises in group play. The reigning champion U.S. women breezed through with a 3-0 record and 19-0 (!) goal differential and now face Spain today/Monday at noon in the must-win knockout stage. Once again, I am totally neutral here. ("U-S-A! U-S-A!"). 

3. NBA: King Zion and trades highlight NBA Draft: The top three picks went as expected Thursday night, led by Duke's Zion Williamson to New Orleans as the NBA's most anticipated arrival since LeBron James. After that? Choas. In all 38 of the 60 overall picks involved trades, including 15 in the first round. Next: The NBA's main summer act, free agency, starting June 30.

4. PANTHERS: Cats go goalie in draft's 1st round: To Florida comes Boston College goaltender Spencer Knight, 18, with the NHL Draft's 13th overall pick, filling the Panthers' biggest need with the draft's acknowledged premier goalie. Cats also expected to chase veteran all-star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in upcoming free agency -- all of it likely spelling the end of an era for now-40-year-old Roberto Luongo.

5. MARLINS: Yamamoto wins again as as Fish wrap road trip: Miami wrapped up a 5-2 road trip with  sweep of the Philles Sunday as Hawaiian rookie pitching sensation Jordan Yamamoto won a third straight game. Marlins are now home for six straight. Yamamoto was not as sharp Sunday but in his first three career starts is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA with 19 strikeouts and only six hits allowed in 19 innings.

6. SOCCER: U.S. men looking good (!) in Gold Cup so far: The oft-maligned U.S. men's national team -- motto: Yeah, We Know We're Not As Successful As The Women -- is sailing through the group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, first beating Guyana 4-0 and last night crushing Trinidad & Tobago 6-0 -- the team that kept the U.S. men out of the last World Cup. Americans play Panama Wednesday but will be in the quarterfinals no matter the result. Championship game is set for Soldier Field. ("Let's gooooo States!").

7. HURRICANES: UM football hosts annual "Paradise Camp": Manny Diaz's first Paradise Camp as head coach was this past weekend -- an annual celebration of UM football and the program's family culture as current recruits mingled with famous football alums. It's a rather amazing thing, largely because it really is a made-up, non-newsworthy event, yet is covered rapturously by local media. Fun fact: Paradise Camp also is the name of a 1986 documentary film about the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

8. SOCCER: Messi, Barcelona coming to Miami: Soccer god Lionel Messi and his mighty Barcelona club team will play a friendly Aug. 7 vs Italy's Napoli club at Hard Rock Stadium, it was announced. HRS continues to draw sexy international matches. Aside to David Beckham: While he's here, please quietly kidnap Messi and put him in an Inter Miami kit.

9. NHL: Draft. Done. Awards. Given. Next: Free agency: New Jersey selected American center Jack Hughes, 18, No. 1 overall, and this is where I don't even pretend to have ever heard of him. Meanwhile Tampa's 128-point scorer Nikita Kucherov was named league MVP. (He should-a saved a few of those points for the playoffs. Ouch. Too soon?) Panthers' Aleksander Barkov won the Lady Byng Trophy for "gentlemanly conduct." (Don't they make fun of you for that in hockey?) Next stop: Free agency.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Canes extend women's coach Meier: Katie Meier signed a contract extension through the 2024-25 season, a well-deserved security for both the coach and the program. UM women's hoops has been a consistent winner under the aegis of the classy Meier, and good for athletic director Blake James to extend the run.

Missing the HB10 cut: Major League Soccer is at midseason, meaning we are now about nine months from Inter Miami kicking off. How those stadium(s) coming along, fellas? ..... Dewan Hernandez, 6-10 former Hurricanes center, snuck into the NBA Draft as the 59th overall pick, by Toronto. Good to see, after a brutally harsh NCAA suspension cost him all last season ..... Turns out David (Big Papi) Ortiz was shot and nearly killed in the Dominican Republic in a case of mistaken identity. Dude should keep on his old Red Sox uni at all times ..... Cricket World Cup continues. Updates as warranted ..... It's Michigan-Vanderbilt in best-of-three College World Series final starting Monday in Omaha. Scouting report: the Vanderbilt Whistler is a fan who annoys everybody with his constant loud whistling, so I hope Michigan wins ..... Copa America soccer tourney continues. Fast fact: Event's mascot is Zizito, a capybara, which is the world's largest rodent ..... A 103-year-old woman won gold in the 100-meter dash at the Senior Games. I'd tell you her time, but she hasn't finished yet ..... The U.S. Fencing Championships begin later this week in Ohio. How terrible. A competition for folks who deal in stolen goods! ..... O.J. Simpson on Twitter didn't take long to get boring. His fourth Tweet was about fantasy football. Come on Orenthal. A confession or I'm unfollowing! ..... Yeah, I mean, other than giving a platform for LaVar Ball's sexist comment and ignoring Tyson Fury's homophobia and misogyny as it promotes boxing, it was a good week for ESPN ..... Update: Countdown now 2,555 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

No.   Year   Player, Pos., School                         Draft grade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ojexchange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 17, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See the late flip at No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Happy Father's Day, our latest column links, Taylor Swift's anti-hate anthem & more

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

Fathers1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 17. Hope your Father's Day was as happy as  mine! Thanks, family. 2) Always football season, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, here: Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Can Riley unload Whiteside/Dragic contracts?, Panthers poised to be Next Big Thing,  U.S. women's soccer deserves praise not criticism, Kevin Durant's legacy, O.J. Simpson's happiness, latest Back In My Day, The List (Game 7s) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our week's work: Latest columns on Heat, Panthers, U.S. women's soccer, Durant: Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, DragicWhy Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / and Durant Legacy Wobbles With Finals Reinjury. Other most recent columns: Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / and Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

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:

1. NBA: Lakers get Davis in blockbuster trade: LeBron James has help now. L.A. acquired Anthony Davis from New Orleans on Saturday in exchange for three young players including Lonzo Ball plus three first-round draft pick's including the Lakers' No. 4 overall in this Thursday's draft. World's Most Annoying Dad LaVar Ball swooped in to complain L.A. had just made the worst trade it ever had. So, if it made LaVar upset, then I love the trade!

Hotbutton2. SOCCER: U.S. women win second straight, advance in World Cup: After a 13-0 opening rout of Thailand that saw the United States accused by some of running up the score or celebrating too much -- oh bleepin' boo hoo! -- the reigning-champ Americans were back with Game 2 of group play vs. Chile Sunday and a comfortable 3-0 win that could have been double that. U.S. is now assured of advancing to the knockout stage. On my count: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" (Sorry, all my Chilean readers. Quizas la proxima vez.

3. HEAT: Miami picks No. 13 in this week's NBA Draft: The two-round NBA Draft is this Thursday night, with 13th overall Miami's lone selection, after Zion Williamson surely goes No. 1 overall to New Orleans. No consensus on Heat's thinking; latest ESPN mock had them taking Kentucky 6-8 forward P.J. Washington. The intrigue beyond Heat's pick and Zion: Possible draft-day trades ahead of pending free agency. Anthony Davis already has changed jerseys. Will possible Heat target Mike Conley be next?

4. NBA: Oh Canada! Toronto wins first NBA title: NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors topped reigning champ Golden State in six games for Toronto's first-ever championship. Sorry Canada, but slap an asterisk on the crown, eh? Warriors were missing Kevin Durant first to a calf injury and then to a ruptured Achilles for all but 15 minutes of the Finals, and were missing Klay Thompson to a torn ACL for much of Thursday's deciding game. The Warriors didn't lose. The semi-Warriors did.

5. GOLF: Woodland (not Woods) wins the U.S. Open: American Gary Woodland held a shaky one-shot lead over more pedigreed Englishman Justin Rose entering Sunday's final round but wound up winning by three strokes over star Brooks Koepka in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Woodland's 13-under was good for his first career major, while Tiger Woods tied for 21st at 2-under.

6. PANTHERS: Cats await this week's draft, then free agency: The Panthers, with GM Dale Tallon and new coach Joel Quenneville at the helm, have the 13th overall pick and nine selections in all in the NHL Draft this coming Friday and Saturday. Cats would take gladly take a defenseman like Sweden's Philip Broberg, thank you. Stakes are even higher in free agency commencing July 1, with high-aiming Florida's reported targets including all-star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus.

7. NHL: St. Louis wins Game 7, first-ever Stanley Cup: St. Louis and NHL Final MVP Alex Pietrangelo upset host Boston 4-1 in Game 7 Wednesday to win the Blues' first NHL crown in 51 seasons, overcoming the Bruins' early 2-1 series. Nobody sober saw it coming before the season, or when St. Louis had the league's worst record on January 3 before an epic rally. Miracle On Ice 2.0?

8. HURRICANES: UM football scoring big in recruiting: Canes have risen to a No. 5 national ranking in ESPN's 2020 college football recruiting charts, led by this past week's big get: premier offensive tackle Jalen Rivers from Orange Park, whose other finalists were Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Florida State. Running back Don Chaney Jr. leads a group of nine other ESPN top 300 recruits. Meanwhile, RB Frank Gore Jr. is headed to Boca and joining Lane Kiffin at FAU.

9. MARLINS: Fish wrap up homestand, head on road: After being 10-31 at the season's quarter mark Miami went on a 13-5 run -- two weeks of magic (relatively speaking). But it's been 2-8  since after Sunday loss to Pittsburgh wrapped up a losing homestand, with a seven-game road next. Thud! That's the Marlins coming back to earth. 

10. BOXING: Fury crushes Schwarz in Vegas: Andy Ruiz Jr. beat Anthony Joshua in a stunning upset earlier in June. It wouldn't happen again Saturday night in Vegas as heavily favored 6-9 British giant Tyson Fury (astoundingly his real name) easily handled unheralded German Tom Schwarz. Fury, by the way, seems like pretty decent guy, other than being a raging homophobe and unapologetic mysogynist.

Missing the HB10 cut: Happy Father's Day my fellow padres! ..... Beloved former Red Sox star David Ortiz was shot in the Dominican Republic in an apparent assassination attempt, requiring five hours of emergency surgery, but thankfully Papi is expected to make a full recovery ..... First it was Barcelona's star striker Luis Suarez. Now, reports are that Argentine forward Mauro Icardi, who plays for Italy's Inter Milan, is being shopped and that David Beckham is interested in him for his MLS expansion team Inter Miami. Points for now: Becks is aiming high ..... NHL Awards Show is Wednesday in Vegas, with only one Panther, Aleksander Barkov, a finalist in any of the 11 categories. He's up for the Lady Byng Trophy for most gentlemanly player, which has to be the most un-hockey-like award in hockey ..... The 24 Hours of Le Mans ends today, the college baseball World Series is underway, so is the Cricket World Cup, and I'm planning to watch not a single minute of any of them ..... O.J. Simpson is on Twitter now. Uh oh ..... Update: Countdown now 2,562 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup

TAYLOR SWIFT'S NEW ANTI-HATE ANTHEM: Taking aim at hate, especially that which spews on social media: 

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 03, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): NBA Finals, Canes ousted in NCAA Regional vie for top and see what else falls where; plus your Warriors/Raptors poll result, a column four-pack, our 'Rocketman' review & more

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 3. Happy new month, y'all! 2) Check our review of the new Elton John biopic, "Rocketman," below. 3) It's always football season, so it's always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins on a run, NBA Finals with polls, Bill Buckner dies, ranking Miami's top 25-and-younger players, Back In My Day (Food Trucks!), Sheryl/Bonnie/Mavis video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

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: Warriors even Finals heading back west: Toronto, an underdog entering its first NBA Finals, won Game 1 but saw Golden State even the series Sunday night despite no Kevin Durant (again) and 6-for-17 shooting from Steph Curry. Three-word analysis on the opener: Pascal Bleepin' Siakam!?! Now, after Game 2: What, you didn't think the Warriors were actually going to lose the series did you!?

2. CANES BASEBALL: UM season ends in NCAA Regional: Ranked No. 20 nationally in Gino DiMare's first year as head coach, Miami saw its season end Sunday night in a 5-2 loss to Mississippi State in the NCAA Regional in Starkville, after the Canes had hoped to be named a regional host but were denied. It marked UM's 46th postseason appearance after missing out the two previous years, but an ultimate disappointment for a program once defined by trips to the College World Series in Omaha. 

3. NHL: Bruins lead Blues in Stanley Cup Finals: Boston wins opener, St. Louis ties series, then Bruins take 2-1 command Saturday night with a 7-2 road rout entering Game 4 Monday night. Boston has raised Lord Stanley's Cup as recently as 2011, while the Blues are in the Finals for the first time since 1970 seeking their first championship ever. Sorry, Bruins, but everybody outside of New England is rooting for those 'dogs on skates from the Midwest.

4. MARLINS: Fish on road as team prepares for MLB Draft: The Fish, a sub-dreadful 10-31 at the season's quarter mark, went on a nice little 9-5 run to end May, and have begun June with back to back 9-3 wins in San Diego to make it 11 wins in past 16 games. Road trip continues Tuesday in Milwaukee. Meantime look for the Marlins to target a big bat with their first pick (fourth overall) as the three-day MLB Draft begins today/Monday. Two names to remember: Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday and Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn.

5. SOCCER: U.S. defends title as Women's World Cup nears: The United States is defending champion in the month-long Women's World Cup commencing in France in four days, this coming Friday, with the first U.S. match on June 11 vs. Thailand. The veteran American squad led by Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are betting favorites to repeat at 2-1 odds, but host France (7-2), Germany (11-2) and England (7-1) all are top contenders in the 24-nation field. I'm entirely neutral, of course. "U.S.A! U.S.A!" "Let's gooooo States!"

6. DOLPHINS: Mandatory mini-camp closes offseason: The Fins stage a mandatory three-day mini-camp this Tuesday through Thursday to end their offseason work, then it's around six weeks off (how will we ever survive!?) until the start of full preseason training camp. Big question: Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick? Second-biggest question: Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen?

7. TENNIS: French Open reaches quarterfinals in Paris: No. 1 men's seed Novak Djokovic and betting favorites Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep all were still alive entering the midpoint of tennis' latest major, but top women's seed Naomi Osaka was ousted in the third round -- and so was Serena Williams, who was after but fell short of a 24th career major that would have tied Margaret Court's all-time record.

8. SOCCER: Liverpool takes Champions League title: In Madrid Saturday, Liverpool rode an early penalty kick to a 2-nil triumph over underdog Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final. It was the sixth Euro crown for Liverpool and first since 2005. Tottentham was playing in its first Champs League final.

9. HORSE RACING: Belmont to close wild Triple Crown season: The Belmont Stakes closes thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown calendar this coming Saturday with Tacitus at 11-8 odds and Preakness winner War Of Will at 2-1 the clear betting picks in the tight nine-horse field. The triumvirate of races was doomed from the start when Country House was awarded the Kentucky Derby by controversial disqualification and did not enter either subsequent race, quickly erasing any possibility of a Triple Crown. Country Mouse is more like it.

10. CRICKET: Yes, that's right. Cricket, dammit!: Cricket is very popular in South Florida with those from the West Indies especially, and I don't have to tell them the six-week-long ICC Cricket World Cup is now underway in England, with the host nation the betting favorite at 2-1 odds and India (11-4) and Australia (4-1) chasing. Bumper sticker: I Chirp For Cricket!

Missing the HB10 cut: The teenage sons of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade reportedly will play basketball for the same Los Angeles-area high school next season. "We quit," said every other school in the district ..... Astros star Carlos Correa is out six weeks after injuring a rib during a home massage. Moving on! ..... The SiriusXM PGA Tour radio channel suspended analyst Hank Haney after he poked fun, entering this weekend's Women's U.S. Open, at how South Korean  players tend to dominate the LPGA tour. (Quick aside: Hank ain't wrong, by the way) ..... The 2020 College Football Hall of Fame finalists ballot will be released Monday. Once again look for Howard Schnellenberger to not be on it, because the Hall continues intractable in its dumb qualifying rules ..... Six Hurricanes qualified to compete in the NCAA Divison 1 Outdoor Track & Field Championships later this week in Jacksonville ..... Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee ended in an unprecedented eight-way tie when, oddly, all eight kids misspelled "cat" ..... Panthers prospect Juho Lammikko won a gold medal with Finland in the IIHF men's ice hockey world championships in Slovakia ..... A week passed without Inter Miami announcing a new soccer stadium site, so the count remains for now at three ..... Update: Countdown now 2,576 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

POLL RESULTS: YOU PREDICT WARRIORS BUT WANT RAPTORS: In separate polls we asked who you predict WILL win the NBA Finals, and who you WANT to win the Finals. And results were split. And 77.78 percent of you predicted Golden State would win (most of the votes cast before the series began). But 58.82% of you wanted Toronto to win.

RocketmanTHE ELTON JOHN BIOPIC 'ROCKETMAN': WEIRD BUT WORTHY: I've been an Elton John fan since my teens. No one else in music or pop culture has been as steadily important to me. So I walked into the theater Friday night predisposed to love Rocketman, the new biopic of his life (well, of his early years and early stardom through rehab in the early '90s). I walked out of the theater having liked but not loved the film. That's partly because I wasn't sure exactly what I had just seen -- which itself might be a positive viewing experience to some. (To most, judging by the 90 percent Rotten Tomatoes score the film is garnering). Rocketman is part movie, part biography, and a big part musical. Not just musical as in a lot of his songs are heard. I mean musical as in dancing and choreography. I can so see this biopic ending up as a Broadway production. It is largely based on fact but with much creative license taken as well. A "true fantasy," as the film describes itself. The performances are strong, especially Taron Egerton as Elton, but there are times the production seems a bit disjointed. Times when dialogue turns to song rather jarringly. (Another nitpick: No mention of or reference to his longtime bandmates, Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson). Despite the flaws and the film being all over the map stylistically, though, I highly recommend it for Elton fans and also for appreciators of a cinema experience that is outside the norm. Rocketman takes chances. And that's a good thing.

Other select most recent columns: Take Heart, South Florida. We're Bad, But Hardly Alone / Riley, Heat, Everyone Else Chasing Warriors' Epic Greatness / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It (Really) Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Zion Williamson's Power to Reject the Lottery / All The Ways Dolphins Are Finally Headed Right / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Brady Is As Brady As Ever / Marlins Losing Big Now, But A Future Is Emerging.

Other select columns: Welcome to the New America, Lexi Thompson / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is Bereft; Wade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 27, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where this week. (Toronto!?!); plus 2019 Sports Fan Misery Index (latest column), 50,000 Names (Memorial Day) & more

Memday1) It's MONDAY, MAY 27. It is Memorial Day in America. Please hesitate to wish someone a "happy" Memorial Day, bearing in mind it is a day to remember and honor our servicemen and women who lost their lives serving in the United States Armed Forces. Below is a video honoring those soldiers. 2) It's always football season, so it's always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The new Sports Fan Misery Index, genuflecting to Warriors' greatness, getting to know Tyler Gaffalione, new Raconteurs video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

MiseryLatest column: Miami sports suck right now. But oh do we have company!: Dolphins: No championship in 45 years. Panthers: Last won hockey playoff series 22 seasons ago. Marlins: Haven’t made postseason in 13 years or had winning record in 10. (Even the reliable Heat missed the playoffs). So how bad do we have it in South Florida pro sports? I did the research and was stunned to find, for example, that the Fins' 45-year title drought doesn't even make the Top 20 for such futility. If misery loves company, this your column, Miami, as we present the new Sports Fan Misery Index encompassing the 123 franchises in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. To read, please visit Take Heart, South Florida. We're Bad, But Hardly Alone.

Other most recent columns: Riley, Heat, Everyone Else Chasing Warriors' Epic Greatness / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It (Really) Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Zion Williamson's Power to Reject the Lottery / All The Ways Dolphins Are Finally Headed Right / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Brady Is As Brady As Ever / Marlins Losing Big Now, But A Future Is Emerging.

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: Finally, a Finals! It's Golden State vs. Toronto!?: Golden State's long wait to know its NBA Finals opponent is over after sweeping Portland. And that opponent, unexpectedly, is Toronto, which rallied from 15 down at home Saturday night to oust top-seeded Milwaukee and reach its first Finals. Meaning we now must all accept the dreadful hashtag #WeTheNorth. All hail, Kawhi Leonard! For now. King Warriors and Steph Curry are heavy favorites in Finals that start Thursday. Defending champ Golden State playing with extra rest is like Warren Buffett getting a raise.

2. NHL: Boston-St. Louis Finals begins Monday: The Boston Bruins are favored to continue that city's recent across-sports dominance vs. the underdog St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals beginning Monday. The Blues were last in the Finals in 1970, and, as we know in Miami, anything that happened even before the Dolphins' first Super Bowl win is officially ancient history.

3. MARLINS: Signs of life for the Fish, sort of: Miami won a season-best six games in a row before dropping the first three games of a four-game set at Washington. Marlins are at Nationals again today before returning home vs. San Francisco. For Miami, odds of finishing worse than the '62 Mets are now suddenly and seriously in jeopardy.

4. TENNIS: Nadal, Halep favorites in French Open: The French Open began in Paris Sunday with Rafael Nadal favored to win his 12th men's crown in the event and Simona Halep the betting pick to repeat her women's title. An odd sight: Serena Williams only the fifth favorite among women. Then again it's a major she has won "only" three times, and not since '15.

5. AUTO RACING: Pagenaud wins Indy 500 roars at the Brickyard: The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 happened Sunday with defending champion Will Power (still love that name) the betting favorite, but ti was Frenchman Simon Pagenaud who lifted the milk bottle. It's the only day on the American motorsports calendar when IndyCar reigns and NASCAR must curtsy.

6. INTER MIAMI: OK, so now they're building three stadiums!?: The David Beckham/Jorge Mas team set to debut in Major League Soccer next year is building a new Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale to play the first two seasons while their permanent Miami Freedom Park home is built. Now they've secured land in Overtown for a potential stadium as well -- perhaps a fallback if the Melreese site falls through? This team better be a beautiful baby, because the pregnancy has shall we say not been smooth.

7. UM BASEBALL: Canes disappoint in ACCs, await NCAA fate: Splitting two games in the ACC Tournament, and blowing a five-run lead in the second, wasn't what coach Gino DiMare had in mind for his 16th-ranked Canes. Now Miami awaits its postseason destination in the NCAA Division 1 Selection Show on Monday. Of course UM will get in. The question: Will Miami host a regional?

8. DOLPHINS: Six workdays left before training camp: Miami has remaining OTA practice days May 28-29 and 31 and then a mandatory minicamp June 4-6. Then it's off for a few weeks before the start of full training camp in late July. All of it leading to what is expected to be a dreadful season!

9. SOCCER: Ticket snafu shadows start of Women's World Cup: The quadrennial event kicks off June 7 in France (two of the 24 teams have been training in SoFla), with the defending champion United States playing its first match June 11. But before any of that there's outrage from fans over ticketing. Say you bought four tickets to Game X. Well, they might not be together! I mean, seriously?

10. SOCCER: Liverpool favored in Champions League final: An all-England Champions League final this coming Saturday In Madrid finds Liverpool a solid betting pick over Tottenham. Some of that is Liverpool seeking its sixth European crown and Tottenham its first. More of it is Liverpool with nine wins vs. only one loss (with four draws) in past 14 league matches vs. the Hotspur.

Missing the HB10 cut: Gabreille Union said on late-night TV that Dwyane Wade was surprised to learn a carton of milk didn't cost $20. Welcome to The Real World Of Rich-Guy Retirement, D-Wade! ..... Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard left to be head coach at his alma mater, Michigan ..... Congrats to the Canes' Estela Perez-Somarriba for winning just the second individual national title in women’s tennis in UM history ..... A Bills player is wearing O.J. Simpson's No. 32 for first time since 1976. Begging the question: Why?!? ..... All-NBA teams came out and LeBron James, for the first time, was relegated to third team. Oh the indignity! ..... A 19-year-old top baseball prospect skipped the MLB Draft to sign with Japan. Dear MLB: Pay your draftees more or see a trend ..... It's Finland vs. Canada Sunday in an expected gold medal game in the IIHF men's ice hockey world championships in Slovakia. Four Florida Panthers represented their country and one is skating for gold: Juho Lammikko of Team Finland ..... WNBA's 23rd season is underway. I'll check back in around the Finals ..... Former NFL star Chris Long admitted he regularly smoked marijuana and got away with it. Roger Goodell is looking into retroactive punishment for retirees ..... Several female squash competitors were outraged after they were given sex toys after a tournament in Spain. We're going to leave it at that and move on! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,583 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

IN HONOR OF MEMORIAL DAY AND OUR FALLEN SOLDIERS: I post this same video every year on Memorial Day. "50,000 Names" is a George Jones song released in 2001. It is specifically about the names carved on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial but, more broadly, it is a tribute to all who have given their lives in service in the U.S. Armed Forces. To anyone reading who has lost a loved one, we remember yours and all of our fallen heroes today.

Select other recent columns: Welcome to the New America, Lexi Thompson / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 20, 2019

Why Dolphins should start Rosen -- no matter what. Latest column; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Zion/lottery column, Game Of Thrones finale, Le Batard Show in New York & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MAY 20. Happy birthday, Christopher, our eldest son! Proud of you, kid. 2) Game Of Thrones! I'll put off my full commentary on the series finale until later in week, rather than do the spoiler-alert thing. For now: The negative reaction is more predictable than warranted. You want the perfect ending? Write your own damned show! 3) It's always football season, so it's always the right time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat luckless in NBA Draft lottery, ESPN's mock-guess for Heat at 13th, Back In My Day link, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

LebnyLe Batard Show in New York: We spent the past weekend Big Apple-ing as part of the Le Batard & Friends live, sold-out Saturday night stage event at the Gramercy Theatre, which I was honored to be a part of. What a blast! The Le Batard show has a loyal following nationwide, and those fans are fiercely into it, as we saw again Saturday. So nice to meet so many of you in the post-show meet and greet!

JrosenWhy Dolphins should start Rosen over Fitzpatrick: In Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen and third guy Jake Rudock the Dolphins have the smartest quarterback room in the NFL. But club's decision on who to start is a no-brainer. Forget "open competition" and may-the-best-man-win. There is every reason to start Rosen. To read why in my newest column please visit Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen.

Other most recent columns: Zion Williamson's Power to Reject the Lottery / Dreaming Of a Heat Lottery Night Miracle / All The Ways Dolphins Are Finally Headed Right / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Brady Is As Brady As Ever / Marlins Losing Big Now, But A Future Is Emerging / Welcome to the New America, Lexi Thompson.

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: New Orleans wins lottery, Zion as Knicks crap out: Pelicans surprisingly won the draft lottery, vaulting to No. 1 and the right to grand prize Zion Williamson in the June NBA Draft, although Zion has until June 10 to try to force a trade to a preferred team. Meanwhile New York, hoping for Zion after a league-worst season, settled for the third pick as a legion of disappointed Knicks fans wept to the sheer delight of the rest of America.

2. DOLPHINS: The Beard takes early lead in offseason QB race: As periodic OTA practice days continue building toward the mandatory Dolphins minicamp June 4-6, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick & His Fabulous Beard by acclimation have the early lead over young gun Josh Rosen in the ballyhooed quarterback competition. Of course it would be dumb for anybody but Rosen to end up starting. Someone please advise coach Brian Flores as such.

3. NBA: Golden State seeks sweep, Milwaukee leads in conference finals: Defending champion Golden State leads Portland 3-0 in the West finals entering Monday's sweep-seeking Game 4 in Oregon, while top overall seed Milwaukee leads in the East finals 2-1 over Toronto after Raptors' double-OT win Sunday, with Game 4 Tuesday. Scary: The Warriors are playing, and winning, without Kevin Durant.

4. HEAT: Miami's miserable lack of lottery luck continues: Heat stayed stuck with the 13th overall pick in next month's draft, once again failing to get lucky in the draft lottery. In eleven lotteries Miami has stood pat five times, moved down six times and moved up not at all. Ever. #IHatePingPongBalls

5. GOLF: Koepka wins PGA Championship after Tiger misses cut: Tiger Woods was betting favorite after last month's unexpected Masters win, but started badly Thursday at Bethpage in New York and missed the cut, while Brooks Koepka enjoyed the early lead with a scorching 63 and held on to win. Love the lurching storyline on Tiger. Post-Masters: He's baaaccckkk! Today: Should we worry about Tiger?

6. MARLINS: Fish sweep! Fish sweep Fish sweep!: Miami is still an MLB-worst 13-31 but won a season-high third straight game Sunday at home to sweep the Mets. Miami has lost seven straight prior to the sweep. Now it's seven straight on the road at Detroit and Washington starting Tuesday.

7. SOCCER: Watford gets clobbered in FA Cup final: Upstart Watford faced mighty Manchester City Saturday in the FA Cup final -- Watford after its first crown in its first final since 1984. Alas, it was a 6-nil rout by Man City. Meanwhile Liverpool and Tottenham are girding for June 1 Champions League final, marking first all-England final since Man U-Chelsea in 2008.

8. NHL: Boston sweeps, St. Louis leads: Boston swept Carolina in four straight games to win the East and head to the Stanley Cup Finals. Bruins now wait for St. Louis (up 3-2 after Sunday's 5-0 win) or San Jose to get out of the West, with Game 6 on Tuesday. Thank the ice gods for Boston, the only "name" franchise in a low-watt final four shy on superstars.

9. HORSE RACING: War Of Will wins Preakness Stakes: Saturday's Preakness, for the first time since 1951, found the second leg of the Triple Crown series without any of the top four horses to cross the finish line in the Kentucky Derby. Improbable went off as 5-2 fave to earn Bob Baffert's record eighth Preakness win, but it was second-favorite War Of Will across the wire first. Meanwhile Maximum Security's owners are suing over the DQ that erased their Derby win. Dark days for the Sport of Kings.

10. UM BASEBALL: Solid regular season ending, now its on to ACCs: Canes finished a solid 38-17 regular season, ranked 17th nationally in Gino DiMare's first season, and now begin play in the ACC Tournament Thursday and Friday vs. Virginia and North Carolina in Durham. Then it's the NCAA Regional ... and then Omaha ... maybe?

Missing the HB10 cut: Bulletin: NCAA weighs entering 21st Century! They're talking about maybe compensating athletes for use of their names and likenesses. Sounds like it'll be stuck in committee for the next 16 years ..... The good luck Cats? The four Panthers playing in the IIHF men's ice hockey world championships going on in Slovakia -- their teams won 14 of their first 16 games ..... A judge excluded that incriminating police-sting video from Robert Kraft's solicitation trial. For Bob, the happy endings keep comin' ..... Women's World Cup getting close. It'll be good to see the U.S. women, coached by Miamian Jill Ellis, do what the American men never do. Contend! ..... I trust the rest of Lockhart Stadium demoliton is going better for Inter Miami than the lame photo-op that began it? ..... WNBA opens its 23rd season later this week. Dare you to name the reigning champion or MVP ..... Update: Countdown now 2,590 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 13, 2019

The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Game 7s, minicamp, lottery party, demolition -- see who's No. 1 and what else falls where this week; plus Dolphins pushing all the right buttons (latest column), Happy Mother's Day & more

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

Moms1) It's MONDAY, MAY 13. Hope y'all had a nice and Happy Mother's Day and a Feliz dia de las Madres! Was thinking of and missing my own wonderful mom today, grateful my wife is the best mom there is, and thankful Christopher found a great one in his own wife. Lucky! 2) It's always football season, so it's always the right 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): Inter Miami's "Demolition Ceremony," shame and stain on Kentucky Derby, Back In My Day video, Dolphins' 1-in-10K shot at Super Bowl, D-Wade at Met Gala, The List & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: 'New Dolphins' pushing all the right buttons: I'm feeling really upbeat about where the Dolphins are and where they're headed. I discuss many of the reasons why in my latest offering, an unusually optimistic column about a long-down franchise that is seeing a cloud lift at last. To read that column, please visit All The Ways Dolphins Are Finally Headed Right.

Other most recent columns: Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Brady Is As Brady As Ever / Marlins Losing Big Now, But A Future Is Emerging / Welcome to the New America, Lexi Thompson / Rosen Has Chance To Turn A Good Dolphins Draft Great.

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: Seventh Heaven! Kawhi, CJ lift Raps, Blazers to final four: The two best teams -- defending NBA champion Golden State and overall No. 1 seed Milwaukee -- were waiting, and resting. Warriors, even sans Kevin Durant, eliminated Houston Friday behind Steph Curry's 33-point second half, after the Bucks had previously dusted Boston in five games. A pair of Sunday Game 7s would send the the underdogs to the conference finals -- and it was Toronto ousting Philadelphia on Kawhi Leonard's five-bounces-off-the rim buzzer beater, and Portland eliminating Denver behind CJ McCollum's 37 points. 

2. DOLPHINS: Draftees and dreamers at Fins rookie minicamp: Fifty players, draftees led by No. 1 pick Christian Wilkins and dreamers alike, wrap up Dolphins' three-day rookie minicamp on Sunday. Full-squad OTA workdays follow on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. You cannot stop it, people. Football season!

3. HEAT: Miami plans arena watch party for draft lottery: The Heat will throw a draft lottery watch party at the arena this Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. with free admission. Miami has a 1 percent chance to land the overall No. 1 pick (a.k.a. Zion Williamson) in the June 20 draft, and a 4.7% shot to score a top-four pick. In other words, it's mathematically likely to end up a meh result in the 10-14 range. By the way, am I the only one who thinks it a bit odd the Heat is throwing a party to essentially celebrate it being in the lottery for not being good enough to make the playoffs?

4. INTER MIAMI: MLS club on the clock with start of Lockhart demolition: Inter Miami held a "Demolition Ceremony" that amounted to knocking down a small ticket building. It was a lot more ceremony than demolition. But the clock has started. The club now has about nine months to raze the old Lockhart and build a new stadium there in time for the March 2020 start of its MLS expansion season. Inter will simultaneously be trying to get going on its eventual home at Miami Freedom Park. Tick-tock, Jorge Mas.

5. GOLF: Tiger heads PGA Championship field in year's second major: The PGA Championship runs this Thursday through Sunday in Farmingdale, N.Y., the year's second major. Tiger Woods predictably is an 8-1 betting favorite off the big bounce of his exhilarating Masters win. But Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy lead a crowed field of wanna-be spoilsports.

6. SOCCER: All eyes on Champions League, FA Cup finals: Upstart Watford will face favored Manchester City next Saturday in the FA Cup final -- Watford after its first crown in its first final since 1984. Meanwhile Liverpool and Tottenham improbably overcame first leg losses to Barcelona and Ajax to reach the June 1 Champions League final, marking the first all-England final since Man U-Chelsea in 2008. Liverpool is the Champs League favorite because, well, when you shake off a 3-nil loss to eliminate Messi, you get to be.

7. MARLINS: Stinky, skidding Fish continue to lose: Miami is an MLB-worst 10-29 after five straight losses. Blessedly, Sunday's rainout at the Mets prevented another one. Marlins will return home Tuesday vs. Tampa Bay, and you can bet Marlins Park will be brimming with literally hundreds of fans.

8. NHL: Boston in command, San Jose out front in conference finals: Boston leads Carolina by a commanding 2-0 in the East and San Jose leads St. Louis 1-0 in the West as Stanley Cup conference finals continue Monday at Sharks. Thanks goodness for Boston, the only "name" franchise in an otherwise low-watt final four. 

9. HORSE RACING: Preakness shadowed by Derby fallout, key non-entry: Next Saturday's Peakness Stakes in Baltimore runs in the aftermath of the Kentucky Derby controversy that robbed Maximum Security of its win. And the horse gifted the Derby, Country House, will not run at Pimlico -- instantly robbing Triple Crown season of any chance of a Triple Crown. Improbable at 2-1 odds and War of Will at 7-2 are near co-favorites in the Preakness, but a feeling of Who Cares clouds the whole endeavor.

10. BASEBALL: Red Sox honored at White House, sort of: The Boston Red Sox (heatin' up; won four straight; look out!) were honored at the White House for winning the World Series, except the official WH notice called them the Boston Red "Socks" and said they'd won the "World Cup" Series. Oy. Moreover, most persons of color associated with the team including Puerto Rican manager Alex Cora declined to attend. So, in effect, the president was honoring the "white Socks."

Missing the HB10 cut: Happy Mother's Day, madres! Fun trivia: Every athlete in history has had a mother ..... Breaking news: Frank Vogel agrees to coach the Los Angeles LeBrons ..... UM baseball up to 19th in polls and go for three-game sweep Monday at Wake Forest as regular season wanes. Omaha, please ..... Congrats to Hurricanes women's tennis for reaching the second round of the NCAA team championships for the 18th year in a row ..... Canes women's golf, alas, was knocked out in regional play and did not advance ..... Retired Heat star Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union attended the Met Gala. Dwyane tried to make high fashion of a black hoodie. Points for effort ..... U.S. weightlifting championships conclude today in Memphis, on the grounds of Elvis' Graceland estate. Division winners get a peanut butter 'n 'nana sandwich ..... Panthers Evgenii Dadonov (Team Russia) and Frank Vatrano (USA) are thinking gold in the IIHF men's ice hockey world championships underway in Slovakia. Two other Cats in it, Juho Lammikko (Finland) and Vincent Praplan (Switzerland), face longer odds ..... Update: Countdown now 2,597 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is Bereft, Wade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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