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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 29, 2019

What do you think of the Miami Dolphins 2019 draft results? Grade it in poll. Last day to vote!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

It's MONDAY, APRIL 29. Football is never done, so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins trade for QB Rosen, poll on DT WIlkins pick, The List (Fins draft history in 13 range), your verdict on position Miami should target & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our Dolphins draft columns on Rosen trade, Wilkins pick: To read, visit Dolphins Big Winners With Draft-Day Trade For QB Rosen and Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins. Yes, I really liked both moves. When your first two days deliver an elite defensive tackle, a potential franchise quarterback and a likely starting guard, that's good work.

DdraftGRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT. NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: Any team's draft of course cannot truly and fairly be graded for a year or two, when we see how players are panning out. But I'm not writing an encyclopedia here. This is a blog. You don't need time for a gut reaction -- a sense of how the Dolphins did based on caliber of players they got and needs met. Are you feeling good about the draft or not? I've not met many sports fans incapable or unwilling to have a strong opinion fast. So let's go! I list the Dolphins' 2019 draft bounty below, then invite your overall opinion in a poll. I include quarterback Josh Rosen, who was acquired in a draft-day trade for, essentially, a second-round pick, because he is very much a part of who Miami got in this draft. Ready, set, vote!

Dolphins 2019 Draft bounty: 1R -- DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson (13th overall)  /  2R -- QB Josh Rosen, Arizona (via trade)  /  3R -- OG Michael Deiter, Wisconsin (78th overall)  /  5R -- OLB Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin (151st overall)  /  6R -- OT Isaiah Prince, Ohio State (202nd)  /  7R -- FB Chandler Cox, Auburn (233rd)  /  7R -- RB Myles Gaskin, Washington (234th)

POLL RESULT: LOTS OF LOVE FOR WILKINS AS NO. 1 PICK: We asked, "What is your reaction to the Miami Dolphins drafting Clemson DT Christian Wilkins 13th overall?" Your verdict: Love it 68.69 percent; Like it 20.20%; So-so 8.08%; and Nope 3.03%. That's strong approval -- 88.89% either loving or liking the pick. (The opinion was more mixed in our Twitter poll, where it was Great 38%, Pretty good 29% and Meh 33%).

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:

Hotbutton Rosen1. DOLPHINS: Wilkins pick, Rosen trade highlight Miami's NFL Draft: An elite defensive tackle in Clemson's Christian Wilkins and a potential franchise quarterback in Josh Rosen (via trade from Arizona) provided a big 1-2 punch to open Miami's draft work. Most thought Wilkins would be gone before the 13th pick, and getting Rosen, a top-10 pick last year, for a low second-rounder felt like a steal. The bad news? Tougher now in 2019 to "Tank for Tua" -- the grand-prize QB the Fins should still take in next year's draft if they're bad enough to have the chance.

2. NBA: Celtics, Warriors take series Game 1s: Celtics routed top-seeded Bucks in Milwaukee on Sunday, while the Warriors and the referees beat the Rockets out west to both take Game 1s of their conference semifinal series. Raptors had previously had won their Game 1 over 76ers. Nuggets-Trail Blazers Game 1 is tonight. Overarching questions: Can Greek Freak lead the Bucks back? And are champion Warriors as vulnerable as they seem?

3. NFL: Kyler Murray, Giants' reach talk of draft: Arizona selected QB Kyler Murray No. 1 overall as expected (leading to Miami getting Josh Rosen in a trade), but the surprise of the first round had to be the Giants taking Duke QB Daniel Jones sixth overall. Huh? Wha! Jones was thought to be a second-round pick, maybe even a third. Somebody give Giants GM Dave Gettleman a Breathalyzer test.

Willis4. HURRICANES: Five Canes drafted -- but no Willis: UM guys drafted, all on Day 3, were S Sheldrick Redwine (4R/Browns), CB Michael Jackson (5/Cowboys), DE Joe Jackson (5/Cowboys), S Jaquan Johnson (6/Bills) and RB Travis Homer (6/Seahawks). Astonishingly missing: DT Gerald Willis III, who some pegged as a 2nd round talent, and who was quickly signed as a free agent by Ravens.

5. MARLINS: So much for that brief hot warm streak: Fish had won four of past six games before losing last three in a row in Philly to fall to an MLB-worst 8-20. Marlins welcome Cleveland on Tuesday as they return home, large, adoring crowds will surely be waiting (!).

6. NHL: It's down to eight for the Stanley Cup: We're early in the conference semifinals for the NHL's last eight teams skating and on Sunday Carolina took a 2-0 seriess lead over the Islanders while the Avalanche tied the Sharks 1-1 in their series. Notably, no Canadian teams are left, so the sad streak continues: No Stanley Cup since 1993 for the nation that invented hockey.

F17. AUTO RACING: Miami loses Formula One race: Miami has held up an Unwelcome sign to Formula One, and so the Miami Grand Prix ain't happening. A planned race in 2020 is being scrapped due to delays in approval by lawmakers, after a planned race in 2019 was erased by complaints from residents about the proposed 2.6-mile track running down Biscayne Boulevard and through Bayfront Park. On top of the recent news Homestead was losing its NASCAR season-finale championship race -- another blow to local motorsports fans.

8.HORSE RACING: It's Derby Week in America!: Triple Crown season in thoroughbred racing kicks off in six days with next Saturday's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Omaha Beach and Roadster are co-betting favorites at 7-2 odds, but Florida Derby winner Maximum Security is climbing and now is fourth fave at 6-1. Go Max! 

9. CANES BASEBALL: UM ranked and movin' up after sweep: UM baseball is 31-14, ranked No. 24 in the polls and sure to move up in next ranking after Sunday completing a three-game home sweep of Virginia Tech. After a rough patch or two, first-year coach Gino DiMare has his machine humming.

10. RUNNING: Miami Corporate Run draws 27K: The annual Miami Corporate Run drew 26,698 pavement pounders from 882 companies, and the men's and women's winners were Dan Nestor and Ana Villegas. It was believed to be the first time in he history of running that a footrace was not won by somebody from Kenya.

Missing the HB10 cut: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been in the big leagues about a minute and a half and I'm already getting tired of the hype ..... UFC Fort Lauderdale (Fight Night 150) went off Saturday night at Sunrise arena, with ex-NFL player Greg Hardy winning a round 1 knockout ..... How can a Chiefs fan -- how could any fan -- ever cheer for Tyreek Hill again? ..... Heat's Goran Dragic hasn't decided whether to opt-in for $19.2 million. Hassan Whiteside also faces that option at $27.2M. If both opt in, Miami will be over salary cap before it makes any moves ..... Clemson's Dabo Swinney is now the highest paid coach in college football. Anybody wanna start a GoFundMe page for poor Nick Saban? ..... National champion Virginia men's basketball has declined to be honored at the White House. Isn't this where Trump claims they weren't invited to begin with? ..... Anybody else believe Tiger Woods has yet to take off that green jacket and even showers in it? ..... Champions League semifinals commence with first leg of Tottenham-Ajax on Tuesday. The sexier other semi: Liverpool-Barcelona ..... That reminds me. Cannot wait for Watford to stun Manchester City at Wembley in the May 18 FA Cup final. Go Hornets! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,611 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup ..... R.I.P., John Havlicek. Hondo.

Other most recent columns: Dolphins at 13: Twice Lucky, One Horrific Tragedy / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Le Batard Takes Miami To Manhattan / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / And our Dwyane Wade Week 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.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 22, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what takes over No. 1 this week and what else falls where; plus Luck and tragedy when Dolphins draft 13th (newest column), Happy Earth Day & more

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

Earthday1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 22. Happy Earth Day, fellow planet inhabitants! Global warming is real. Treat your other mother right!  2) Hope y'all had a nice Easter or Passover. I also trust my weedeaters out there had a lovely 420 Day? 3) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): When the Dolphins draft 13th, Tagovailoa to Fins seeming likelier, The Forlorn Four in Miami sports, Dolphins' 2019 schedule, Le Batard Show hits the road, new Mavis song & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our latest column: Luck & tragedy when the Dolphins draft 13th: Miami was lucky to draft tackle Laremey Tunsil and lucky to draft linebacker/end A.J. Duhe. But running back David Overstreet in between ended in tragedy. Across a 40-year span, all those three had in common was being selected 13th overall in the NFL Draft. With Dolphins set to pick 13th again this week, we look back at the three very disparate circumstances of the franchise's experience selecting there. To read, visit Dolphins at 13: Twice Lucky, One Horrific Tragedy.

Other most recent columns: Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Le Batard Takes Miami To Manhattan / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / And our Dwyane Wade Week 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.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: It's NFL Draft Week in Miami and America!: The NFL Draft's first round is Thursday night in Nashville, with the Miami Dolphins under new coach Brian Flores scheduled to select 13th overall. The Fins' biggest need? Someone who can excellently play about eight positions simultaneously to fill all of the roster's shortcomings. Draft rounds two through seven will be Friday and Saturday, but disproportionate interest in the top pick means we'll hardly care who comes later.

2. NBA: Celtics are first to advance in playoffs: Deep into the NBA playoffs' first round, Boston on Sunday won at Indiana to complete a 4-game sweep and be the first to advance. No. 2 West seed Denver seems the lone higher seed in greatest jeopardy of an early exit, tied 2-2 with San Antonio. These are the first playoffs since 2005 without LeBron James. There's a phrase for that: "Nice little break."

3. HURRICANES: QB still in doubt as UM wraps up spring football: Miami concluded 15 days of spring football practice with an open scrimmage Saturday in Orlando -- new coach Many Diaz foisting The U up in Gator country. The big story line coming out of spring work: Who's the starting quarterback? Decision will go into the fall. Positive spin: Such competition! Alternative spin: Nobody has stood and out and grabbed the job. 

4. HEAT: Riley replacing Magic in L.A? Um ... NO!: Dwyane Wade diggin' into retirement, drinking his own signature wine on a golf course (growing the brand gets tougher when one retires) and getting a giant tattoo on his leg. But let's downplay that speculation that the Lakers may want Heat god-daddy Pat Riley to replace Magic Johnson in running LeBron's team. Pat says he'll retire "a Heat." That's good enough for us. (Unless he changes his mind...?)

5. MARLINS: Fish catch fire after dumping hitting coach: Miami is 6-16 but had won two straight over Nationals to win first series of season before losing Sunday. The day before they chased Nats ace Max Scherzer in 9-3 win. Marlins now set out on 6-game roadie starting Tuesday. Fish fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo, but, I dunno, other than the Marlins being last in the majors in runs scored and having a .215 team average, I thought he was doing a great job!

6. NHL: Four teams advance closer to Stanley Cup: Colorado, New York Islanders, Columbus and St. Louis have advanced in first round of Stanley Cup playoffs, but Toronto and Vegas were thwarted on Sunday and now face Game 7s. Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay, Lightning fans are still shell-shocked and walking around like zombies.

7. SOCCER: Big week for MLS and in Europe: Tottenham ousted Man City to reach the Champions League semifinals vs Ajax. Barcelona and Liverpool go in the other semi. Meanwhile MLS announced plans to expand to 30 teams, with 24 now running and Miami, Austin and Nashville in the incubator. Tap the brakes, MLS!

8. HORSES: Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown season near: The Run For the Roses at Churchill Downs kicks off Triple Crown season on May 4. Omaha Beach and Roadster figure to be early betting favorites, but keep an eye on Maximum Security, who burst out of a $16,000 claiming race to win the recent Florida Derby at Gulfstream.

9. GOLF: Tiger's Masters afterglow: Golf fans continue their swoon over Tiger Woods winning his first major in 11 years and first Masters in 14. So does Tiger himself. The other day Woods walked into his own restaurant, The Woods Jupiter, wearing his iconic green jacket. This is the Internet. I couldn't say it if it weren't true.

10. RUNNING: Miami Corporate Run on deck: The annual Miami Corporate Run clogs hits downtown streets this Thursday evening. Last year's run drew 28,265 entrants from 850 companies. Hey you all: Less running, more working!

Missing the HB10 cut: Gino DiMare and Canes baseball are Top 25-bound at 28-13 after taking two of three at No. 8 Louisville ..... Notable as 2019 NFL schedule rolled out: Only one team has no prime-time games. The Buffalo Bills ..... Defending champ Red Sox have won two straight to escape the AL East cellar. Lookout! ..... The Le Batard Show's May 18 live show in New York sold out in two minutes this week. You're welcome! ..... Conor McGregor fought an exhibition boxing match in Dublin. Anybody else getting a little tired of this guy? ..... Bumper sticker: Honk If You've Seen the Leaked Robert Kraft Sex Tape ..... Update: Countdown now 2,618 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 05, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 05, 2019

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

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 5. I'm still saying "Happy New Year" and I don't care who objects with their silly rules. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The 3 days that shook Miami  football, final Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 23, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KdrakeNo. 44 Kenyan Drake (RB18)

No. 69 DeVante Parker (WR 35)

No. 103 Kenny Stills (WR 48)

No. 134 Albert Wilson (WR 65)

No. 194 Frank Gore (RB59)

No. 198 Mike Gesicki (TE20)

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote