February 17, 2020

We're back with new Hot Button 10 (updated). Marlins, NBA, Dwyane Wade and NASCAR jockey for the top. See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus what we did on vacation & more

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17. We're back from a week's vacation. Details here below the new Hot Button Top 10. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, links to latest columns & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns:

(*) It's Time For Anonymous Lone Voter Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward.

(*) Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala.

(*) Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football.

(*) Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place.

(*) Two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins; 2) How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 16-17): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DWYANE WADE: It's "L3GACY Celebration" Week in Miami: A jersey retirement ceremony isn't enough. Uh uh. Not big enough. Not for this guy. So the Heat will celebrate Dwyane Wade's career with three nights of arena events: "The Flashback" career retrospective (for season-ticket holders only) this coming Friday night; jersey retirement ceremony at halftime of Saturday night's game vs. Cleveland; and the premiere of a new documentary about Wade next Sunday.

2. MARLINS: Spring is sprung as Year 3 of Jeter Era gets underway: The Marlins' first full-squad workout of spring training in Jupiter is this Wednesday (pitchers and catchers already have reported) and Miami's Grapefruit League exhibition schedule commences next Saturday February 22. It's Year 3 of the Derek Jeter Era. Noticeable improvement, por favor?

3. NBA: All-Star Game, tribute to Kobe go off in Chicago: It was Team LeBron edging Team Giannis 157-155 in Chicago last night in the 69th NBA All-Star Game, with the recent death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash hanging over the proceedings, which will included tributes to Bryant. Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will lead hall of fame inductees in the 2020 eligibility list just announced.

4. NASCAR: Daytona 500 postponed until Monday: Jimmie Johnson's farewell season and an appearance by Donald Trump were notable on Sunday as NASCAR opened its season with its most famous race. Alas, inclement weather postponed the D500 until today. Homestead will rev up again soon enough, this year hosting the sixth race on March 22 after years hosting the finale.

5. HEAT: Bam, Jimmy lead Miami all-stars at break: Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler repped the Heat in last night's NBA All-Star Game, after Adebayo won Saturday's Skills Challenge and Derrick Jones Jr. won the dunk contest. Miami is 35-19 and fourth in the East at the break, but only 4-6  since January 24 and looking to start the second half strong when games resume this Thursday in Atlanta. 

6. MLB: Astros cheating mess getting worse and worse: Houston staged a universally scorned apology press conference that really wasn't, only making matters worse in its scandal over sign-stealing that tarnishes its 2017 World Series title. What a mess clouding the start of spring training. Damned baseball can't ever seem to get out of its own way.  

7. PANTHERS: Slumping Cats trying to regain footing in NHL playoff chase: Once-hot Panthers have cooled in February (only 2-7 this month), and are now four points off NHL playoff pace in the East after Saturday's loss to Edmonton. Now it's five straight away on a West Coast road trip.

8. UM BASEBALL: Canes open season with sweep, await visit by Gators: UM, No. 7-ranked by USA Today, awaits a home series vs. No. 10 Florida next weekend after a Wednesday game vs. Kent State. Miami opened its season with a three-game series with Rutgers, completing a sweep on Sunday. 

9. INTER MIAMI: Getting close now. So, so close...: Inter Miami's inaugural Major League Soccer season begins March 1 in Los Angeles, with the historic first home game in Fort Lauderdale on March 14 at the old Lockhart site. Let the countdown begin!

10. CANES HOOPS: Average UM teams need a strong finish, and a prayer: Miami men are 13-12 after Saturday's win at Wake Forest and the Canes women are also 13-12 after beatng Clemson Sunday, both with five games left in the regular season. Each needs a strong finish and some sort of splash in the ACC Tournament for any prayer of an NCAA Tournament bid. Doesn't help that neither has beaten a Top 25 team.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Las Vegas Raiders reportedly are prepared to offer Tom Brady a two-year, $60 million free agent contract. Which sounds like a rumor planted by Tom Brady's agent ..... Has the XFL folded yet? ..... Getting close: UM spring football practice begins February 29. The NFL Scouting Combine commences February 27 ..... Update: Countdown now 2,317 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

MAN WHO DISLIKES BOTH DISCO MUSIC AND DANCING GOES ON 'DISCO CRUISE': That would be me. I love a wide spectrum of music, but disco may be my least favorite of any type. The genre lends itself to dancing -- which I don't particularly enjoy, either. Yet there I was on a five-day 'Disco Cruise' this past week from Miami to Key West and Nassau aboard the Celebrity Infinity. Went with my wife Discoand another couple because the women thought it would be fun ... and it was, primarily (for me, at least) because a premium drink package and a casino meant I was free to partake of as much or as little of the actual disco music as I wished. In fairness I must say most of the performers were quite good, albeit entirely as nostalgia acts churning out 40-year-old songs. And of course in the case of the Jacksons, the Miracles, the Commodores, the Blue Notes and others, the acts typically were missing the one person who made them most famous (that would be Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie and Harold Melvin, chronologically). Many acts were one-hit wonders, such as The Trammps (Disco Inferno) and Sister Sledge (We Are Family). There were tribute bands for Earth Wind & Fire (so so) and Abba (really good). The headline act, KC & the Sunshine band, was a disappointment for me, although, in fairness, based on crowd reaction, I think my opinion was clearly in the minority. Frontman Harry Casey did his best, but at age 69 and by his own  admission really overweight, the spins and dance moves were excruciating to watch and the show was overly choreographed and almost Broadway-like in bombast and overproduction. KC poked fun at his own weight gain, joking the band maybe should be call "KFC" and the Sunshine Band. Still, give the Miami-born entertainer credit for a long and enduring career -- one given a new kind of life by these disco cruises. 

Other select recent columns: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami and Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His. Also: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever / How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City' / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

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

February 10, 2020

The Hot Button Top 10: See who's No. 1 and what else lands where this week; plus Heat/Marlins/Canes/Fins among our boatload of recent columns & more

1) It's MONDAY-SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10-15. We're off on vacation all this coming week. See ya'll next weekend! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Time for 'The Lone Voter' to step forward, Heat and Riley win on Iguodala, Ed Reed return part of Canes surge, Dolphins have a new roadblock, latest Back In My Day video & more. 2) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns:

(*) It's Time For Anonymous Lone Voter Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward.

(*) Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala.

(*) Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football.

(*) Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place.

(*) Two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins; 2) How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 9-15): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Slumping Miami in win-now mode with big Iguodala trade: Heat and Memphis beat the NBA trade deadline with a six-player deal that, at its core, sends Justise Winslow to the Grizzlies and brings elite wing defender Andre Iguodala to Miami. Smart move by the Heat with playoff run in mind. Heat is 34-18 and fourth in East after losing three straight and five of past eight, with two left before all-star break.

2. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Cats stumble, fall of NHL playoff pace: The once-hot Panthers have lost three in a row and four of past five to tumble to 29-25 and off playoff pace. Florida needs to regain its mojo starting Monday in Philadelphia to stay afloat in a brutally tough, packed Eastern Conference. 

3. RUNNING: More than 20K hit streets in Miami Marathon: Sunday's Miami Marathon and Half-Marathon drew more than 20,000 runners to the streets of Miami and Miami Beach. It's a glorious annual event except for people who drive cars and whose weekend plans are disrupted by hordes of exercise-obsessed fanatics in a sporting event of interest only to participants.

4. HURRICANES: Revamped UM sets spring football start: Coach Manny Diaz introduced new chief of staff Ed Reed, new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and new QB D'Eriq King in a National Signing Day press conference to wrap up recruiting. New-look Canes will hit the field to open spring practice on February 29, happily leaving last year's 6-7 nightmare behind.

5. MARLINS: FanFest ushers in arrival of spring: FanFest was Saturday at Marlins Park, signaling the arrival of spring. Pitchers and catchers have their first workout of spring training on February 14 and the full squad begins February 19. Here comes Year 3 of the Derek Jeter Rebuild, ready or not.

6. BASEBALL: Red Sox Nation up in arms over Mookie trade: Boston completed a blockbuster three-team trade that sent RF Mookie Betts and P David Price to the Dodgers, with the Red Sox getting CF Alex Verdugo and a pitching prospects whose medical condition held up the deal. To Red Sox Nation, feels like a salary dump and a surrender flag waving.

7. KOBE BRYANT: All-star tribute, public memorial upcoming: The helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others continues to reverberate. Next Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Chicago will include tributes to Bryant, and a public memorial has been set for February 24 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

8. SOCCER: U.S. women qualify for Olympics: The U.S. women's national team whupped Mexico 4-0 to qualify for the coming Olympics. Had the reigning World Cup champions not qualified for the Olympics -- now that would-a been news! U.S. has made every Olympics since the first for women's soccer in 1996, and has won four gold medals.

9. UM BASEBALL: Season on deck for No. 3-ranked Canes: Season of high hopes began with Saturday's FanFest and alumni game. Real play for coach Gino DiMare's ACC-favorite team opens at home starting February 14 with a three-game series vs Rutgers.

10. CANES HOOPS: Larranaga's men's team sort of stinks. Sorry: The terribly slumping Canes men are no 11-2, 3-10 in the ACC and 0-6 against Top 25 teams. UM women are a bit better at 12-10 and 4-7, but also 0-6 vs ranked teams. Not much local excitement building for March Madness, alas.

Missing the HB10 cut: The XFL debuted, and this is where I can't even muster enough fake interest to pretend I care ..... Bobby Knight attended his first Indiana basketball game in 20 years. Did he throw a folding metal chair just for old times' sake? ..... Jon Jones won UFC 247. Wake me when he  moves up to the heavyweight class ..... Countdown 21 days until Inter Miami's inaugural game as a Major League Soccer expansion team. Newbies play two on road before opening at home on March 14 ..... NFL Scouting Combine begins February 27 in Indy. NFL Network will extend coverage into prime time for the first time, prompting analysts to ask, "Why!?" ..... Update: Countdown now 2,324 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami and Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His. Also: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever / How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City' / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

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

February 03, 2020

Chiefs reign in Miami! With my column from Miami Super Bowl game; plus Latest Hot Button Top 10, nailed our SB pick, how Shula made the Dolphins perfect and the coach today at 90, the NFL's big bounce-back & more

It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3. Welcome, new month. Stay awhile. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kobe Bryant tragedy overshadows start of Super Bowl Week & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

MY COLUMN FROM SUPER BOWL: MAGIC CITY, INDEED: The Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes and Miami as host all rose to meet expectations in a spectacular Super Bowl show Sunday night at Hard Rock Stadium. For my column from the SB, visit Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami.

KOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: Our column from last Sunday's tragedy: Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

YOUR VERDICT ON SUPER BOWL: We asked, in two Twitter polls that drew some 2,500 votes, who you WANTED to win Sunday's game and who you predicted WILL win. Your verdicts: Want Chiefs by 73.0%, and predict Chiefs by 65.8%. So y'all happy today!

DshulaHOW SHULA MADE DOLPHINS PERFECT AND MADE MIAMI MATTER, AND THE COACH TODAY AT 90: He came to Miami 50 years ago, almost to the day, and everything changed. The way the rest of the country thought of us and the way we thought of ourselves — it all changed. He put a star on the map at the bottom of a far-flung peninsula, in sports and beyond. He made us champions. He made us matter. Today his name is almost mythic; there is a historical quality to it. When you get to be 90, people can begin to forget what you used to be. After all, he last roamed a Dolphins sideline, jaw jutting, in 1995. He worked 26 seasons here but has now been out of coaching nearly as long. Increasing numbers of South Floridians know him mostly as a memory shared by elders, who hold him close like a family heirloom, a sign of their own mortality as glory days long past are recalled. Now, the Super Bowl is in Miami on Sunday to crown the NFL’s 100th season, and fans arriving at Hard Rock Stadium will walk past a bronze statue of the man — larger than life, of course. Now, in the middle of the tropics, Donald Francis Shula is the King in his Winter. OK, that is the entree to Part 2 of out two-part series on how the Dolphins so quickly went from dysfunctional expansion losers to the the Perfect Season -- that 1972 voted the greatest of the NFL's first 100 years. It tells the story of how and why Shula's arrival changed everything, from the players themselves, and it takes you into Shula's life today at age 90. For that full column, visit How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90. Part 1 told the how a long-lost Dolphins executive pre-dating Shula assembled a treasure trove of talent amid the dysfunction of the George Wilson-led expansion years. For that tale, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

Liv PicksSUPER BOWL 54: THE PICK IS IN! AND WE NAILED IT!: Update: Nailed it! We called Chiefs win by 31-23. Chiefs won 31-20. Close enough, I say! ..... Original post: The torrent of hype is ebbing, Sunday's game is at hand, and I dare any bettor or neutral fan to claim a strong, overriding feeling about any game with a one-point spread, on a neutral site, with two teams so good a winning argument for either would be simple and sound solid. This Super Bowl is that kind of either/or proposition, a pick so tough you could flip a coin and then exhale and thank the coin for mercifully ending your vacillation. And yet I actually do have a fairly strong overriding feeling about this matchup. To read our full Chiefs-49ers preview and predix capsule -- who will win and why -- please visit Super Bowl 54: Pick for Chiefs-49ers in Miami.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 2-3): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: Chiefs rally topples 49ers in Miami Super Bowl: There had been rampant speculation a "major" sporting event, reportedly a football game, was taking place Sunday evening at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Herald was working to confirm this rumor, so stay tuned for updates.  

2. KOBE BRYANT: A week later, tragedy still reverberates: One week ago former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others perished in a helicopter crash amid thick fog in California, stunning the sports world, and tributes continue across the NBA.

3. ZACH THOMAS: No! Former Dolphins great Thomas is denied by Hall of Fame: Zach was a finalist for the first time but did not make the list of five who got in, revealed at Saturday's NFL Honors show in Miami. But three of five have local ties: RB Edgerrin James (ex-Hurricane), WR Isaac Bruce (Dillard High) and OG Steve Hutchinson (Coral Springs High). The others Canton-bound: Safeties Troy Polamalu and Steve Atwater. 

4. HURRICANES: Star alum Ed Reed joins UM football staff: Former UM great Ed Reed, College and Pro Football Hall of Fame safety, rejoins the Canes as Manny Diaz's "chief of staff" (a job for which Alonzo Highsmith also interviewed). Will the "We want Ed!" chants start after the first loss?

5. HEAT: Miami in lull but Butler, Bam named as ASG reserves: Miami, only 9-7 since Dec. 30, had slipped from second in the East to fourth despite Saturday's win in Orlando, with a big test Monday in Philly on deck. Better news: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo named as reserves for the Feb. 16 All-Star Game in Chicago.

6. PANTHERS: Cats hot lately, but playoff chase still precarious: Florida is 28-22 off and had a season-high six straight wins before Saturday's loss in Montreal, with a Monday date in Toronto next. Cats are a scorching 13-5 since Dec. 16, and yet still on the edge of playoff pace in the jammed NHL East.

7. TENNIS: Year's first major ends in Australia: Novak Djokovic rallied past Dominic Thiem for his eighth Australian Open crown in Sunday's men's final. Sofia Kenin, a 21-year-old American, won her first career major on Saturday, defeating Garbina Muguruza in a duel of two women I wouldn't know if they walked right past me.

8. NFL: Lamar Jackson wins league MVP award: Baltimore Ravens quarterback (and Pompano Beach-born) Lamar Jackson was named 2019 season MVP as expected at the NFL Honors awards show Saturday in Miami, despite a poor game in the team's playoff ouster. Also notable: Titans QB (and ex-Dolphin) Ryan Tannehill as Comeback Player of the Year and St. Thomas Aquinas alum Nick Bosa of 49ers as Defensive Rookie of Year.

9. MARLINS: Baseball is back; Marlins FanFest on deck: Are you ready for some baseball? Me neither. But Marlins FanFest is next Saturday February 8 at Marlins Park. Pitchers and catchers have their first spring workout February 14 and the full squad begins February 19, with the first spring game four days later.

10. CANES HOOPS: Tough going in new year so for UM teams: Hurricanes men are now 11-10 on the season but only 2-7 in the new year after Sunday loss at Pitt. Canes women are 12-10, but 3-7 since January 1 after Sunday loss at Virginia Tech. Also still waiting for a signature win from either; they're a combined 0-11 vs Top 25 teams.

Missing the HB10 cut: No. 3-ranked Canes baseball unfurls next Saturday with a fanfest and alumni game. Season opens February 14 with home series vs. Rutgers ..... Now less than a month away from Inter Miami's March 1 season opener in its  first season in Major League Soccer. Team this week acquired winger Lewis Morgan, 23, from top Scottish club Celtic ..... Antonio Brown said, "I owe the whole NFL an apology." It's a start, at least ..... Pending free agent Tom Brady posted on social media a mysterious, brooding what-does-it-mean photo of himself in a dark tunnel because he needed some attention as Super Bowl Week dared to go on without him ..... Good for Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe to protest the naming of Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open. Court once was a great player. She currently is an outspoken bigot and homophobe ..... Update: Countdown now 2,331 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

IT'S A PARADOX, BUT HERE'S WHY NFL HAS BOUNCED BACK AND IS HEALTHIER THAN EVER: It's a paradox because concussions and safety issues continue to hover over the sport. And yet all the while, in measurable terms of popularity and revenue, the NFL has bounced back from its malaise and is healthier than ever as it crowns its 100th season Sunday with 49ers-Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium in the 54th Super Bowl and 11th in Miami. For why and how this is, check out our latest column: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever.

SmirkTHE SMIRK QUINTET: The lineup: Smirk V: It's Party Time, So Do the Hula With Gronk For Only $1 Million. Smirk IV: J.Lo, Shakira Hit All The Right Notes. From Thursday's Halftime Show press conference, Smirk wanted to make fun of it all, but then something unexpected happened. Also: Smirk III: NFL's Deft, Dull Goodell Slips Up, Makes News / Smirk II: Why Sunday's Most Talked-About Ad Won't Air? (Hint: Nutmobile) and Smirk I: Have Fun This Week, Fans, But Feel A Bit Guilty And Sad Doing it.

Also from Torrent of Super Bowl Headquarters: What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins / Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of / and How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

Select recent other stuff: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

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

January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020, R.I.P. Our column on the tragedy that rocked sports; plus how one long-forgotten man pre-dating Shula changed everything for Miami Dolphins; also, latest Hot Button 10 (updated), Torrent Of Super Bowl Coverage Headquarters & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 27 Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl Top 10 Storylines You'll Be Sick Of Primer, Derek Jeter's (not) unanimous election & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

KobeKOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: For our column on Sunday's tragedy, please visit Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

 

THE FORGOTTEN MAN WHO LED THE DOLPHINS' RISE FROM EARLY DYSFUNCTION TO SUPER BOWLS AND HISTORIC PERFECTION: The players who formed the nucleus of the NFL’s single greatest team of all time were stunned to learn that their Miami Dolphins head coach was prone to laziness and long, boozy lunches. He was a man who once stood before his team and, Joethomasslouching, said, "Well, I’m hoping for a 7-7 season" -- as his guys looked around at each other, dumbfounded. This was before the arrival of Don Shula, we must hasten to mention. The NFL itself anointed the 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins No. 1 among the best teams ever as part of its 100th season celebration that will culminate with the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl, fittingly in Miami. But how did a Miami franchise only born in 1966 get from nothing, from the comical dysfunction under first coach George Wilson, to being the greatest ever in such short order? It happened because of Shula, who arrived in 1970, but it started before him, during the expansion years. It started with one man, a man long lost, a man so essential yet so egregiously forgotten in Dolphins history. His name was Joseph Henry Thomas. (Shula and Thomas are pictured). Thomas left the windfall of talent that Shula spun into historic gold. ..... OK, that is the entree to my latest column, a piece I'm very proud of. It is the first of a two-part series. In this Part 1, through extensive reporting, I reveal the comical dysfunction of the 1966-69 expansion years under Dolphins inaugural head coach George Wilson. Yet during that clown show stacked with losses, we tell you how Joe Thomas came to assemble a treasure trove of talent. In Part 2, coming next week, how Don Shula's arrival changed everything, and Shula today, the king in his winter at age 90. To read Part 1 of our series now online, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

Previously from our Rampaging Torrent of Super Bowl Coverage:

(*) What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins.

(*) Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

(*) How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

And coming Monday: Return of Smirk!: Super Bowl with a Smirk notes columns, poking fun at the NFL and the gravitas of its big game, are an annual Super Bowl Week staple in the Miami Herald. Watch for the Return of Smirk on Monday!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 26-27): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. KOBE BRYANT: Tragic helicopter crash kills ex-Lakers star: A family, the NBA and all of sports were ripped apart Sunday with the news Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others had been killed in a private helicopter crash in California. R.I.P. to an all-time great.

2. DEREK JETER: One vote missing, but Marlins president in Cooperstown: Derek Jeter swept into the Baseball Hall of Fame with all but one vote of 397 cast, denied a unanimous entry by one still-unnamed idiot / piss-ant anarchist. (Larry Walker got in, too, barely). Jeter is best known of course as the Miami Marlins president, although reportedly also played several years with the Yankees.

3. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! Hot Cats awarded '21 NHL All-Star Game: Haven't been many better weeks to be a Panthers fan. Florida and Jonathan Huberdeau skated into Saturday's NHL All-Star Game at 28-21 off six straight wins and 13 in past 17 games -- solidly on playoff pace. And this : the big news that Cats, for the first time since 2003, will host All-Star Weekend in 2021.

4. HEAT: Butler snubbed as all-star starter, Waiters debuts: Miami coach Erik Spoelstra called it a "joke" that Jimmy Butler was not named an NBA all-star starter. Bam Adebayo had a case, too, although both surely will make it as reserves. Meantime relentlessly suspended Dion Waiters made his season debut for 31-14 Heat, with four 3's and 14 points in a solid 18 minutes.

5. NFL: Chiefs, 49ers arrive in Miami for Super Bowl: SB 54 at Hard Rock Stadium is in one week, and the teams arrive today. The Kansas City Chiefs are to land in Miami at 4:40 p.m. and the San Francisco 49ers about 2 1/2 hours later. The slightly favored Chiefs are expected to continue to be ahead of the Niners through next Sunday's final whistle.

6. HURRICANES: UM football lands major transfer QB: Former Houston starting quarterback D'Eriq King announced he  has entered the college football transfer portal and chosen the Miami Hurricanes. Quick word of caution: Remember, one year ago, how excited we were were about Tate Martell? 

7. TENNIS: Serena out early as Australia Open hits midpoint: Serena Williams, only eighth-seeded but the betting favorite in year's first major, was ousted in the third round -- yet another failed effort to tie Margaret Court's career record of 24 major singles titles. Still think Serena will equal and then surpass Court ... but we've been saying that for three years now, since her 23rd title was the Aussie Open in 2017.

8. HORSE RACING: Mucho Gusto wins rich Pegasus at Gulfstream: Mucho Gusto, a star for trainer Bob Baffert, won the second annual $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstreak Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, with Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. Might be horse racing's biggest day outside the Triple Crown races.

9. PRO BOWL: NFL all-star game is Sunday in Orlando: Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson lead the AFC and NFC squads today in a meaningless game further watered down because players from the Super Bowl-bound Chiefs and 49ers aren't in it. No Dolphins, either, but plenty of ex-Fins in Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

10. CANES HOOPS: Can Miami (men or women) finally beat a good team?: Slumping Miami men are 10-9 off four straight losses after Saturday's L at North Carolina -- and 0-5 vs. Top 25 teams. Canes women are 11-9 overall and 0-6 vs. ranked teams after Sunday's loss at No. 14 Florida State. Jeez, beat somebody a good team, already!

Missing the HB10 cut: Overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans finally made his season debut. He scored 22 points, did not reinjure his knee and his sneakers did not explode. Stay tuned for further developments ..... A bunch of NFL eyes including those of the Dolphins' Chris Grier were watching a lot of college all-stars with the coming NFL Draft in mind in Saturday's annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. But rehabbing Tua Tagovailao of course didn't play, so our interest in the game went from gutter-low to nonexistent ..... Latest Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be revealed at NFL Honors awards show the night before Super Bowl, with ex-Dolphin Zach Thomas a finalist for first time. Of course we are journalistically neutral unabashedly hoping Zach gets in! ..... Countdown 35 days 'til Inter Miami opens its inaugural season in MLS ..... Countdown 48 days 'til No. 3-ranked Hurricanes baseball opens season ..... By the way, the Houston Astros stole their World Series trophy ..... Somebody help Antonio Brown. Baker Act, anyone? ..... Update: Countdown now 2,338 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other most recent stuff: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

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

January 20, 2020

Miami Super Bowl set! It's 49ers-Chiefs!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, decision that changed Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's life (column), new John Anderson song (video) & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 20. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill tops NFL final four from Miami perspective, Clemson favored in 2020, NFL Divisional Round picks, new Ozzy/Elton song & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksNFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PLAYOFFS: PEREFECT. WE RODE CHIEFS, NINERS: Update: We were a perfect 2-0 straight-up and 2-0 against the spread on Sunday, with both winners  covering. Original post: Miami awaits. The two-week runup to the February 2 Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium begins this Sunday when the two teams are determined in the AFC and NFC Championship Games. The Cinderella in this final four is discarded Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill trying to lead Tennessee to its first SB appearance in 20 years — in his old stadium. But everybody packs a tale to tell. It has been 50 years (!) since Kansas City’s last Super Bowl appearance and win, and Andy Reid has coached more playoff games (27) than anyone to never win it all. Aaron Rodgers is after his elusive second career championship after Green Bay last reigned in 2010. And San Francisco last appeared in an SB in 2012 — but hasn’t won one since 1994. Of this final four, only K.C. made the playoffs last year, and the NFL is assured a new Super Bowl champ for the 15th season in a row. Two games. Win and you’re in. And Miami awaits. To see who'll get here, visit Will Tannehill Make It? Our AFC, NFC Championship Picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 19-20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature (back after a one-week hiatus) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's 49ers-Chiefs in Miami Super Bowl: Chiefs rallied to overwhelm Titans and 49ers comfortably handled Packers on Sunday -- winners take all to reach Miami and the Super Bowl. Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers were seen as the odd men out and were, with a Kansas City-San Francisco matchup the betting favorite all along. Miami awaited. Fate did its thing.

2. MLB: Sign-stealing scandal rocks Astros, sees 3 managers fired: The Astros fired the manager and GM who'd been suspended for a year by MLB. The Red Sox dumped Alex Cora and the Mets and Carlos Beltran parted. Baseball, if you're serious about stopping sign-stealing, here's your statement: The Astros' 2017 World Series championship is vacated.

3. HEAT: Miami completes excellent first half of season: Heat were 29-12 at the midpoint of the NBA season, second in the East and with a league-best home record (18-1) and seven players averaging in double-figure scoring led by Jimmy Butler's 20.3, before falling in San Antonio Sunday. With Bucks a near-certain No. 1 seed, Miami looks strong to earn playoff home court as season's second half begins.

4. JIMMY JOHNSON: Canes champ, ex-Fins coach makes Canton: Jimmy Johnson made Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2020 class, selected by a blue-ribbon panel as part of NFL 100 celebration. Toasting you with a raised Heineken, J.J! Now here's hoping a guy you draft in Miami, Zach Thomas, a finalist, finally gets in too when players are announced just before the Super Bowl. 

5. INTER MIAMI: New MLS team has first draft, opens camp Monday: New coach Diego Alonso and Inter Miami drafted Clemson forward Robbie Robinson No. 1 overall in recent MLS Draft. Miami opens training camp Monday at Barry University, working toward its inaugural season opener on March 1. Still hoping David Beckham dons a kit, but not holding our breath.

6. DOLPHINS: Miami loses defensive chief to Giants: Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham jilted the Fins for a lateral move to the New York Giants. Hmm. Didn't Miami finish 30th for most yards allowed this season and 32nd (dead-worst) for most points given up? Hey, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Pat!

7. NBA: Top pick Zion Williamson to make NBA debut -- finally!: The New Orleans Pelicans say overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson, who has spent all season thus far recovering from a knee injury, will finally make his debut this Wednesday at home vs. San Antonio. Equipment guy, please make sure he doesn't wear the exploding sneaker again.

8. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as All-Star break nears: Florida is 26-21 off four straight wins after Saturday's W at Detroit, with two other games left before a schedule pause for the Jan. 25 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. Cats are now right on the edge of playoff pace in an uber-competitive Eastern Conference.

9. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic favorites as Australia Open begins: Against the backdrop of the country's brushfires catastrophe, the 108th Australian Open,the year's first major, opens with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic the betting picks. Serena looks (again) to tie Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major singles titles.

10. HURRICANES: UM basketball isn't bad ... except vs. good teams: Miami's men's and women's basketball teams, both slumping, have proven solid vs. lesser foes and lousy against good teams. The Canes women are 0-5 vs. ranked opponents, and the men are now 0-4 after Saturday's heartbreak of an OT home loss to No. 9 FSU, with a Tuesday game at No. 3 Duke on deck.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes AD Blake James confirmed that Alonzo Highsmith would not be joining football program in "chief of staff" role advising coach Manny Diaz. Not knowing if he'd have been any good at it, Canes fans nonetheless were outraged in their disappointment after premature, misleading media reports suggested he'd be joining UM ..... Wow. Collegiate Baseball ranks the Hurricanes No. 3 in its preseason baseball poll. No pressure or anything, Gino DiMare! ..... Conor McGregor beat up on some guy in a cowoy hat last night in UFC 246 ..... A former player has sued alleging that Penn State -- of all schools -- and coach James Franklin ignored sexual-based hazing that including older players threatening "to Sandusky" younger guys ... Will the last Tigers player leaving national champion LSU for the NFL Draft please turn out the light? ..... The Winter X Games are this week, and nobody cares ..... Can somebody get Antonio Brown some help, please? Seriously ..... Next weekend, Saturday's Senior Bowl battles Sunday's Pro Bowl to see which football game the fewest Americans will watch ..... Ice Cube's BIG3 basketball league has lowered its minimum age requirement, surprising analysts who were unaware the BIG3 basketball league still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,345 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

JjHALL OF FAMER JIMMY JOHNSON'S BIGGEST VICTORY WAS KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT -- AND WHY: Twenty years earlier, to the day, Jimmy Johnson quit the NFL in despair, at a low point in his life. He retired from coaching and never looked back. It ended for him on January 15, 2000, on a football field in Jacksonville, his Miami Dolphins eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in a 62-7 humiliation. That wasn’t the worst of it. The recent death of his mother had hit him hard, hit him soul-deep, made him rethink everything. One of his two sons was struggling with alcohol addiction. It felt like his life was getting away from him. Wayne Huizenga, then the Dolphins owner, desperately tried to convince Johnson to stay — even offering to let him be a part-time head coach who handled the draft and worked only home games — but Johnson had to get out. "I needed to spend time with my family, and it paid dividends," the former coach was saying Wednesday, 20 years later, from his home 90 minutes south of Miami in the Upper Keys. "My two sons, we’re as close now as we’ve ever been. I am happier than I’ve ever been. Retiring from coaching — it saved my family." Sunday night, the NFL told Johnson he had done enough. He got out early because he felt he had to. But he had done enough. To read our full column on Johnson being welcomed into Canton, please visit Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why.

Other most recent columns: America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! Also: Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

NEW JOHN ANDERSON SONG/VIDEO : 'YEARS': Careful readers may know I'm a longtime fan of country singer John Anderson, who has one of the most distinctive voices in all of music. Well, he has a new album coming out that was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, a fan of his. This likely will be the first single, a reflective, wistful song about aging, in which a 65-year-old (let's be honest) fading star reflects on a bountiful career and life:

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

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 06, 2020

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team. Newest column; also, our NFL Wild Card Weekend results (unfortunately), happy birthday Don Shula & more

Shula1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 6. A heartfelt happy 90th birthday to the great Dolphins icon Don Shula (pictured in earlier days), who hit the milestone Saturday. Here's to many more! 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect (late) holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild Card Weekend picks, Wade retires (Miami) and Woods' Masters (national) voted biggest sports stories of 2019 in year-end polls, Gators win Orange Bowl & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our return to Le Batard Show: For those who've asked I'll be back on ESPN Radio tomorrow/Tuesday.

Final Herald NFL QB rankings: This was our 22nd year of NFL quarterback rankings. Visit Herald 2019 Final NFL QB Rankings.

PicksWILD CARD WEEKEND! ROAD TEAMS TAKE THREE OF FOUR: Update: Ouch. We were 0-4 straight-up and 0-4 against the spread on our WCW picks. That's a first. May it be a last, please? Original post: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a solid 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald. Finished the regular season with a .663 winning percentage overall and .518 against the spread. Now all that matters are the 11 postseason games ahead culminating with the backyard Miami Super Bowl on February 2. For all four of our Wild Card Weekend picks -- including a pair of upsets! -- visit the motherlode of prognostication I like to call NFL Wild Card Weekend Gems.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 5-6): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NFL: Texans, Titans, Vikings, Seahawks advance in playoffs: The king is dead! The king is dead! The reigning champion Patriots and Tom Brady are dethroned. Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill ousted them Saturday while Houston rallied to edge Buffalo. Sunday, Vikings upset Saints and Seahawks handled Eagles on Wild Card Weekend. Away teams won three of four. The road to Miami, indeed.

2. HURRICANES: Miami hiresg SMU hotshot as new offensive coordinator: UM has hired SMU offensive coordinator/QBs coach Rhett Lashlee, 36, for the same job here. Lashlee ran an exciting spread offense that was top 10 in the nation in points and yards this season. Canes fans are excited. Warning: (They were excited about Dan Enos, too, once).

3. HEAT: Miami tops Portland in Whiteside's return: Miami sits pretty in third place in the East at 26-10, with Justise Winslow, who has missed 26 games, finally close to returning from his back injury. Team beat Portland -- and Hassan Whiteside -- Sunday evening, with Whiteside mostly booed throughout the night.

4. UM HOOPS: No. 2 Duke schools Canes men: UM men fell to 9-4 with Saturday's 95-62 home loss to Duke and next plays at No. 7 Louisville Tuesday. Meanwhile No. 23 Canes women gell to 9-5 after Sunday's home loss to Florida State, and now face another top-10 foe in Louisville.

5. PANTHERS: Cats win at Pittsburgh: Florida is 22-20 after Sunday's 4-1 win at Pittsburgh that lifted the Cats to a tie for the final playoff spot at midseason. Team has won seven of past 10 and now plays four straight at home.

6. DOLPHINS: Tagovailoa decision expected Monday: Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, recovering from a hip injury, has said he will announce Monday whether he'll entre the NFL Draft or return to the Crimson Tide. Many NFL teams -- the Dolphins perhaps highest among them -- will see their draft plans shaped by that decision.

7. DAVID STERN: R.I.P. to commissioner who made NBA what it is: Stern died this week at 77 and is being remembered as the longtime commissioner who made the NBA an international brand it is. He's high on a very short of of greatest commissioner in the history of sports.

8. DALLAS COWBOYS: Jerry Jones finally pulls the trigger: The underperforming Cowboys finally fired coach Jason Garrett. Prominent among the possible replacements being interviewed: Mike McCarthy and Marvin Lewis. Good to see that Jerry Jones believes in recycling.

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Seven days 'til LSU-Clemson title game: Two 14-0 teams ready for the College Football playoff championship in New Orleans, with LSU a 5 1/2-point favorite and the over/under inching up toward 70. Will either remember to pack a defense for the trip?

10. INTER MIAMI: Coach in place, players next, season soon: With a coach hired in Diego Alonso but players still to come, Inter Miami's inaugural Major League Soccer season is getting more and more real. And close. Countdown to season opener: 54 days.

Missing the HB10 cut: We appear to be inching closer to war with Iran. Have a nice Sunday, everybody! ..... Great to see Dolphins great Zach Thomas make the list of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now get him to Canyon, voters! ..... Florida beats Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Miamians still can't believe they had to watch Florida beat Virginia in the Orange Bowl ..... Update: Countdown now 2,359 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

CamwSIFTING THROUGH THE LOSING, WE ANNOUNCE THE MIAMI DOLPHINS' 2010-19 ALL-DECADE TEAM!: In another few days you will have broken a social faux pas but for now you can still wish people a Happy New Year without them looking at you funny. There are rules for these things. For example, when introducing your new head coach in early January, you probably don’t want to begin the news conference by wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving, as Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder did this week. That got me thinking the window is closing to name the Miami Dolphins’ All-Decade Team for 2010 to 2019, so let’s get to it. First I will pause a second for all of your snide comments and thoughts, like, a team that went 69-91 in the decade, made one playoff and won zero playoff games — did they have any good players? Well, a few, yes. So let’s bid auld lang syne to the past decade by remembering the Dolphins who were the least bad, relatively speaking. Pictured is the most obvious choice for the team: Cameron Wake. Here is our Dolphins’ All-Decade Team, after which we will name the players of the decade from the Dolphins, Heat, Panthers and Marlins. To see our team and get our full latest column, please visit Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team.

Other most recent columns: On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

THE LIST: SUPER BOWL RECORDS OF 2019 PLAYOFF TEAMS: Ranked by most victories:

Team                      SB W-L            Last in SB, last won

Patriots                   6-5, .545        2018 / 2018

49ers                      5-1, .833         2012 / 1995

Packers                   4-1, .800        2010 / 2010

Ravens                    2-0, 1.000       2012 / 2012

Saints                     1-0, 1.000       2009 / 2009

Chiefs                     1-1, .500        1969 / 1969

Eagles                     1-2, .333        2017 / 2017

Seahawks                1-2, .333        2014 / 2013

Titans                     0-1, .000        1999 / Never won

Bills                        0-4, .000        1993 / Never won

Vikings                    0-4, .000        1976 / Never won

Texans                    0-0, .000        Never appeared

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 31, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 88.9%. Final approval rating is season high after Fins' 27-24 upset win at New England; plus the latest Hot Button Top. A fierce battle for No.1, what else lands where & more

1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31. Hope y'all enjoyed a wonderful long holiday weekend! Scroll to previous blogpost for season-ending result of Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. (Warning: It's ugly). 2) Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald much lately. Bonus points if you noticed! 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose bowl game to Louisiana Tech with CSM poll, NFL Week 17 picks, Pix 'n Fantasy Week 16 results, updated Herald NFL QB rankings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

NemiaG16: DOLPHINS 27, AT NEW ENGLAND 24: MIAMI PUTS A BOW ON A LOST SEASON: Original post: It’s all division games, all on Sunday, as NFL’s 2019 regular season crescendos with Week 17 determining the final two of 12 playoff spots. Stakes are minimal in Dolphins’ finale, of course, but there are some, at Tomryanleast. The 12-3 Patriots must win (or hope for an unlikely Chiefs loss) to secure the No. 2 AFC seed and a first-round playoff bye. Can 4-11 Miami and expatriate/ex-Patriot Brian Flores play spoiler vs. nemesis Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at a cold and cloudy Foxborough? Um, well, no. Sorry. Fins haven’t won at New England in 11 years, and Patriots have won 22 of past 23 at home overall. Pats won 43-0 in September -- back when we thought Miami might be historically bad, maybe 0-16 bound. Competitiveness and even credibility ensued, but for Fins today, as 16-point underdogs, the Pats’ end zone will still feel miles away against a majorly great defense. Pictured left: Two really old quarterbacks. Cote’s pick: NE 31-13. Visit NFL Week 17 Gems for all of our latest picks. And watch for the latest and season-finale Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 88.9%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-finale -- Miami Herald Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday's 27-24 upset win Dsmat New England putting Miami's final 2019 season record at 5-11. That's a season high and the second-best final rating in the poll's 12-year history. The DSM is a continuous gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the final poll, I suggested added emphasis be given to the season as a whole. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Tuesday. Final poll analysis below.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

G14: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at N.Y. Giants.

G15: 54.4% following 38-35 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

G16/Season final: 88.9%: following 27-24 victory at New England.

Final poll analysis: A nearly 90 percent thumb's-up from Dolfans after a 5-11 season? It doesn't make much sense. But I've called this The Weirdest Season all year, so maybe it does make sense. I think most fans think Miami got the best of both worlds: a high draft pick (fifth overall) and an NFL-leading bevy of 13 picks total, and the optimism borne of a strong second half to the season capped by the stunning upset at nemesis New England. 

Yearly DSM Results: 2019--88.9% (following 5-11 season); 2018--6.9% (7-9); 2017--7.7% (6-10); 2016--76.2% (10-6/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 29-30): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUTOur blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Enos out as embarrassing bowl loss ends miserable year: The Canes limped to the end of a really disappointing 6-7 season with an embarrassing 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl -- a new low in a year full of those. The good news: Offensive coordinator Dan Enos, maestro of the mess, was immediately fired.

2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's LSU vs. Clemson for championship: No. 1 LSU crushed No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 3 Clemson survived No. 2 Ohio State in Saturdays' College Football Playoff semifinals to set up a Jan. 13 championship game. That means two full weeks to savor Nick Saban not being in it.

3. ORANGE BOWL: Florida, Virginia go at it Monday night: The No. 9 Gators (10-2) are a big two-touchdown favorite over the No. 24 Cavaliers (9-4) at Hard Rock Stadium. The hometown Hurricanes might have been in this OB had they not monumentally choked in the last two games of the season.

4. DOLPHINS: Miami ends sacrificial season with win in New England: Dolphins sacrificed the 2019 season for the future by trading talent for draft picks, with lots of losing part of the exchange. Today, the misery ended happily in Foxborough with a 27-24 upset win. And now the countdown begins: 116 days until the April 23-25 NFL Draft.

5. HEAT: Hot Heat keep sizzling along: Miami is now 24-8, and 15-1 at home, after last night's OT escape vs. Philadelphia and entering a Monday date at Washington. No more scrambling for an eighth seed. Thinking top four. Eastern finals, even?

6. INTER MIAMI: Finally! MLS team to welcome new coach Monday: Uruguayan Diego Alonso, 44, recently coach of Mexico's CF Monterrey until his firing September 30, will be introduced Monday as new coach of MLS expansion team Inter Miami. he new coach of Inter Miami. There had been speculation about bigger-name coaches. Is Alonso up to the task? 

7. NFL: Five teams alive for last two playoffs spots: The Super Bowl tournament leading to Miami has 10 of 12 invites sewn up. Today, the Eagles (likely) or Cowboys will claim the final NFC spot, and the Titans (likely), Steelers or Raiders will by the last AFC team in. (Wonder of the Dolphins will ever be in this conversation again?)

8. PANTHERS: Cats (narrowly) back on playoff pace: Florida is 19-18 after last night's 5-4 home ice win over Detroit. Cats are presently on playoff pace by a one-point margin as they host Montreal today then set out on a four-game roadie.

9. UM HOOPS: Now it gets serious for Canes men, women: No. 24-ranked and 8-3 Canes women open ACC play vs. Wake Forest today and have top-10s Florida State and Louisville upcoming. The Miami men, also 8-3 but unranked, visit Clemson Tuesday and host No. 4 Duke and and travel to No. 3 Louisville in the next week.

10. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Gonzaga sixth men's No. 1 to lose: Michigan State. Kentucky. Duke. Louisville. Kansas. Now Gonzaga. That's six No. 1-ranked teams to lose. The record for most different No 1-ranked schools in a season is seven set in 1982-83. Ohio State could be next in the top spot. Uh oh.

Missing the HB10 cut: An early Happy New Year to all! .....We're miserable! The Florida Panthers are No. 5 and the Miami Dolphins No. 7 in ESPN's latest annual Fan Misery Index. The Marlins are 28th among the 123 Big Four league teams. Only the Heat fare well, at 116th. Sacramento Kings are the dubious No. 1 and of the course the damned Patriots are last, meaning first ..... Dallas and Nashville will meet outdoors on New Year's Day in the NHL Winter Classic in the Cotton Bowl ..... Free agency has hit World Team Tennis, for those of you who had forgotten World team Tennis still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,366 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 24, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 54.4% following Fins' 38-35 OT win over Cincinnati in home finale; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, Merry Christmas Eve & more

Eve1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24. Merry Christmas Eve Eve! 2) Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald as much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed! 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 picks, FIU and FAU go bowling & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

CinmiaG15: DOLPHINS 38, CINCINNATI 35 (OT): DOMINATION, COLLAPSE, THEN VICTORY: Dolphins blow 23-point fourth quarter lead then survive in overtime. Original post: Miami was favored for the first time all season, albeit by a scant one point ... but only for a minute. Then the betting line swung to even. Then it moved to Bengals favored by 1 (based on Caesars Sportsbook lines). It's the ultimate ignominy, really. A 3-11 Dolphins team that has been relatively competitive lately is playing at home against a 1-13 team -- yet is the underdog! I don’t get it. What an insult. Miami is not only home but also better than Cincy. Granted, that’s like saying Spam is tastier than tripe. Still. One-win Gals have No. 1 draft pick in-pocket at the moment. Why would they want to jeopardize that? While Miami, clearly playing to win under Brian Flores, has the added incentive in this season's home finale of a halftime ceremony honoring the 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins — recently voted best team of all time as part of the NFL’s 100th anniversary rollout. The current Fins should be inspired to not wet the bed as the iconic Perfectos look on. Almost forgot. Did I mention Cincy is 0-7 on the road? Cote’s pick: Upset! (Sort of). MIA 27-20. See Week 16 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And watch for the latest  Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: 54.4%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 54.4 percent overall approval --the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 38-35 overtime home win over Cincinnati putting Miami's season record at 4-11. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

G14: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at N.Y. Giants.

G15: 54.4% following 38-35 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

Next Poll: Dec. 29 G16/Final following game at New England. 

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 22-23): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins dominate, collapse, survive vs. Bengals in home finale: Miami blew a 23-point fourth quarter leads but hung on for a 38-35 OT win. The 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins were honored at halftime as the 1-13 Bengals played the 3-11 Fins in Miami's home finale. Those vintage Dolphins players are mostly hobbling men in their 70s now ... and they still were the best team on the field Sunday.

2. HURRICANES: Early signing done, UM readies for Independence Bowl: UM's early-signing class was rated No. 19 by ESPN, with the bounty of 19 recruits including 11 four-stars and eight who made the ESPN 300. Not bad off a 6-6 season. Now, the season wraps the day after Christmas vs. Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl -- a fitting anticlimax for a down year.

3. HEAT: No fluke! Miami's big season is not letting up: With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo leading the way the Heat at 21-8 continue to look like not only a playoff team but a top four East seed in the mix for home-court advantage in the first round. More than one-third into this NBA season, Miami has yet to have even a two-game losing streak.

4. NFL: Pro Bowl teams announced as playoffs take shape: Eight of 12 playoff spots had been spoken for entering Week 16. Houston on Saturday became the ninth to clinch, and Dallas and Minnesota both could on Sunday. Meantime Pro Bowl rosters were announced with the Dolphins one of only two teams shut out. But so was Tom Brady -- for the first time since 2008.

5. PANTHERS: Topsy-turvy Cats are hot again: Florida after a nice 4-2 road win at tough Carolina Saturday is 18-17 upon three straight wins -- tied for longest streak of the season. Cats are  back on playoff pace, but narrowly, and need the recent defensive improvement to continue.

6. CHRIS BOSH: Former Heat star among Hall of Fame finalists: Basketball Hall of Fame's eligible list for 2020 induction includes former Heat star Chris Bosh among prominent contenders. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan top the list as certain inductees, but Bosh (along with Kevin Garnett) should also get the call.

7. MARLINS: One intriguing name among spring non-roster invitees: Matt Kemp, the longtime Dodgers corner outfielder, is 35. He also made the all-star team as recently as 2018 and hit 35 homers as recently as 2016. It's a no-risk gamble whether he has anything left. It's also interesting the Fish think they're close enough to good to make such a veteran, niche signing.   

8. FIU/FAU: Panthers fall, Owls fly in bowl games: FIU closed 6-7 with a 34-26 loss to Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl on Saturday, after FAU ended 11-3 with a 52-28 pounding of SMU ub the stay-at-home Boca Raton Bowl. Butch Davis figures what went wrong. Lane Kiffin is off to Ole Miss.

9. JIMMY JOHNSON: Ex-Canes, Fins coach gets another shot at Canton: Pro Football Hall of Fame announced 38 finalists for 2020 induction in the categories of senior players (20), contributors (10) and coaches (8) and Jimmy Johnson is one of them. Of more interest to me: Deserving Zach Thomas among the 25 semifinalists for the main vote.

10. THE HOLIDAYS: In case you hadn't heard Christmas and Hanukkah are this week: Wait a second. It's December 23 already? Holy s!@#! I need to start my Christmas shopping!

Missing the HB10 cut: Kansas became fifth No. 1 team to lose in men's basketball. Can't stand the pressure, fellas? ..... An NBA in-season tournament is being proposed. Sounds like the worst idea since New Coke ..... Will Inter Miami have a head coach by its its inaugural MLS season opener? ..... UEFA Champions League down to its round of 16 for matches resuming in February ..... The Miami Heat's arena will no longer be named American Airlines Arena after Jan. 1. Greg Cote Arena, anyone? ..... Barcelona vs. Real Madrid ended in a 0-0 draw for first time in 17 years. This one was not El Clasico ..... Update: Countdown now 2,373 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 17, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at Giants; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 and a pitched battle for No. 1; also, NFL Week 15 picks & more

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 16. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 15 picks, Heat fall to LeBron's Lakers & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

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

MianygG14: DOLPHINS AT N.Y. GIANTS: THE STAKES? JOCKEYING WITHIN DRAFT'S TOP 5 PICKSTeams that are a combined 5-21 (Fins' 3-10 to Biggies 2-11) make for a dreadful matchup seeking a spark. Here it is: Eli Manning’s first home start since Week 2, and likely the next to last of his long Giants career. Emotions should be high as NYG fans cheer Eli warmly (until his first interception, when they boo him loudly). He starts again for Daniel Jones, who is nursing an ankle injury. I mentioned dreadful matchup? It’s the only one of Week 15 with both teams mathematically out of playoff contention. Fins are on a 1-12 skid on the road. Biggies have lost an NFL-high nine games in a row. A Miami upset would not surprise, but Ryan Fitzpatrick, already with little run support, will be further depleted if DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson (both questionable with concussions) are out. That, the Eli bump and Miami’s road woes are enough to tilt this pick, although — like a shoplifter hightailing it from a convenience store — I’ll put that dangling half point on the 3 1/2-point bet-line in my pocket and take underdog Fins to cover. Cote’s pick: NYG 27-24. See Week 15 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And watch for the latest  Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 53,9%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 53.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 36-30 loss  Dsmat the New York Giants putting Miami's season record at 3-11. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

G14: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at N.Y. Giants.

Next poll: Dec. 22 following game vs. Cincinnati.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 15-6): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

1Hotbutton. HEAT: Visit by LeBron, another Waiters suspension lead drama-filled week: Heat won impressively in Dallas last night 122-118 led by Jimmy Butler's 27 and Bam Adebayo's 18-11-10 triple double -- impressive because it was the tail end of a back-to-back after that emotional 113-110 home loss to LeBron James and the Lakers. Miami sits pretty at 19-7. The ugly part? Dion Waiters suspended for the third time this season for being an idiot.

2. HURRICANES: UM juggles early signing, bowl prep: Miami and coach Manny Diaz prepare to play Louisiana Tech in the Dec. 26 Independence Bowl. But don't kid yourself. The program's priority this week is buttoning down as strong a recruiting class as possible on Wednesday's early signing day. There's still another one in February, but the early date has taken over in importance. Besides that, is anybody actually interested in facing Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl? 

3. DOLPHINS: Miami visits Giants with draft position the only stakes: The 3-10 Fins visit the 2-11 Giants Sunday in New Jersey with 2020 draft position the only thing in play. We know that because this is the only Week 15 matchup in which both teams are mathematically, scientifically and theologically eliminated from playoff contention. "But we love them both," said the draft's top five.

4. SOCCER: Miami FC joins USL ahead of Inter Miami startup: This is war! Miami FC has left the minor National Independent Soccer Association to join the bigger United Soccer League and will play matches at FIU Stadium as a direct challenger to Inter Miami, the new Major League Soccer expansion team beginning play in Fort Lauderdale in 2020. Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva is a proponent of an English-style promotion/relegation system that would allow the best USL teams to earn promotion into the top-tier MLS.   

5. MLB: Winter Meetings spawn trio of mega-deals: Ace pitcher Gerrit Cole signed a record $324 million deal to join the Yankees, while infielder Anthony Rendon signed with the Angels and ace Stephen Strasburg stayed with the Nationals, both on $245 million deals. That's three contracts totaling $814 million. Pretty good week, too, for the agent for all three, Scott Boras. 

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Heisman announced, bowl season on deck: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the 85th Heisman Trophy in the landslide fully expected Saturday night. Up next, there are 41 bowl games culminating with three to settle the College Football Playoff. But that's not for a couple of weeks. First: All the bowls you don't care about! Those start Dec. 20. State schools in action this coming week are FAU vs. SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl and FIU vs. Arkansas State in the Camellia, both next Saturday.

7. PANTHERS: Slumping Cats fall off playoff pace: New coach, new goalie, same disappointment? The Panthers are 15-17 after losing three straight and seven of past 10  as a nine-game homestand continues. The Cats would be outside looking in if the NHL playoffs started now.

8. HIGH SCHOOLS: South Florida football in near clean-sweep of state titles: There are eight divisions of state prep football. South Florida just won seven state championships. Congrats to Miami Columbus (Class 8), Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (7), Miami Central (6), Miami Northwestern (5), Miami Booker T. Washington (4) Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna (3) and Hialeah Champagnat (2). Wish some of that local winning would trickle up to the Dolphins and UM.   

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Nobody on men's side wants to be No. 1: Louisville fell to unranked Texas Tech to become the fourth No. 1 team to fall from the top perch already this season, following Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke. Kansas or Ohio State figure to be the new No. 1. Temporarily, at least.

10. GOLF: U.S. rally wins Presidents Cup in Australia: Played on odd years, the Presidents Cup is a U.S. team vs. an International team (the rest of the world except Europe) in men's golf. It's like the Ryder Cup, except not nearly as historic, famous or interesting. But Tiger Woods is the team captain and he led a rally for a U.S. win, so it sneaks into our HB10.

Missing the HB10 cut: NBA trade season begins today/Sunday and runs through the Feb. 6 deadline. Let's hope it's quiet in Miami with no regurgitated chatter (please) about Chris Paul. The Heat's emphasis needs to be about building cap space for a major whale-hunting excursion in 2021 free agency, not adding an old and costly contract to prevent that ..... There's another Patriots cheating controversy. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Enjoyed Saturday night's Le Batard Show Mas Miami IV in Wynwood. Great to meet so many of the show's fans! ..... NBCSN is hosting a weekend English Premier League fan fest from the Clevelander on South Beach. It is expected drinking may be involved ..... Russia's four-year doping ban from international competition was blamed on politics by Vladimir Putin. I'd probably blame it on cheating ..... Former Cane Clinton Portis is the biggest name among a dozen ex-NFL players implicated in a scheme involving NFL health benefits ..... The Giants waived Janoris Jenkins after he called a fan a "retard" in a tweet and then seemingly did not understand why the word is offensive ..... Hurricanes basketball about to heat up. Men play No. 7 Duke and No. 1 Louisville on January 4 and 7. Women face No. 8 FSU and No. 7 Louisville on January 5 and 9 ..... Here was the problem. The doctor recommended "bed rest" for the Jets' Le'Veon Bell for his flu. But Le'Veon thought he said "bowling" ..... J.J. Culver scored 100 points in Wayland Baptist's 124-60 NAIA win. Ah, sportsmanship! ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee announced new rules to prevent a repeat of 2019's unwieldy eight-way tie for first place. That's g-o-o-d, good ..... Update: Countdown now 2,380 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 10, 2019

G13: Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at New York Stinkin' Jets; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated). See who's No.1 and what else ranks where & more

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 9. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 14 picks & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft and Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite.

MianyjG13: N.Y. STINKIN' JETS 22, DOLPHINS 21: MIAMI LIVES, DIES BY FIELD GOAL: Miami settled for a team-record seven field goals and lost when Jets kicked one of their own on final play -- after a controversial reversal on a pass-interference call against the Fins ..... Original post: This is first time this season that Miami has not been a double-digit underdog on the road. (Hey, sometimes progress comes in small packages!) A couple of things make this a very tough pick Oldprogrambetween the 3-9 Fins and 4-8 Jets. First, the Jets are wildly erratic under Adam Gase. They can be credible; they'd won three in a row. Then last week they get blown out by the winless Bengals. Which NYJ will show up? Second, there are sharply conflicting trends here. For example, the Dolphins have won six of the past seven in this rivalry (including 26-18 in Week 9) and eight of the past 11 trips to NYJ. But Miami also has lost 11 of its past 12 road games overall. The Fins catch break by the likely injury absence of top Planes safety Jamal Adams, with RB Le'Veon Bell also iffy to play. But does that mean inconsistent Ryan Fitzpatrick and the inconsistent Fins can produce the same performance on the road as the one that stunned Philly at home last week? The Jets’ superior defense and Miami’s poor offensive line and lack of running game tilt this pick. The point spread (five points) is fat, though. I mean these are the Stinkin’ Jets. Cote’s pick: NYJ 23-20. See Week 14 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And watch for the latest  Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: VOTE NOW!: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 77.4 percent approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 22-21 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 3-10. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

Next poll: Dec. 15 following game at N.Y. Giants.

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 8-9): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUTOur blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature -- back after taking last week off -- 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. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Championship Weekend sets playoff's final four: On Saturday No. 1 Ohio State won the Big Ten, No. 2 LSU won the SEC and No. 3 Clemson won the ACC, nailing down three-fourths of the College Football Playoff. Only question was who would be fourth? Answer: Oklahoma. The semifinals: LSU-Oklahoma and Ohio State-Clemson. No Alabama or Nick Saban. Ain't it great!?

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lose heartbreaker at Stinkin' Jets: Miami lost when a controversial pass-interference reversal went against the Fins and gave NYJ an easy winning field goal on the final play. Brian Flores was livid. But when you settle for a team-record seven field goals, should you complain too loudly that you lost?

3. HEAT: Miami stays hot, readies for LeBron visit: The Heat are sailing along at 17-6 -- including a perfect 10-0 at home -- after Sunday's home win over Chicago. Erik Spoelstar would tell you his team mustn't look ahead. But that doesn't mean we can't. Here on Friday night: the NBA-leading Los Angeles Lakers led by Anthony Davis and some guy named LeBron James.

4. HURRICANES: Miami to Independence Bowl, other destinations: Sunday was bowl invitations day nationwide in college football, and the Canes are headed to play Louisiana tech Dec. 26 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Also notable: Florida-Virginia in Orange Bowl Dec. 30; FSU-Arizona State in Sun Bowl Dec. 31; UCF-Marshall in Gasparilla Dec. 23; FIU-Arkansas State in Camellia Dec. 21; and FAU-SMU in Boca Raton Bowl Dec. 21.

5. MARLINS: Fish add offensive pop with two (fairly) big gets: Ahead of the Dec. 8-12 baseball winter meetings the Marlins acquired versatile infielder Jonathan Villar from Baltimore for a minor-league pitcher and signed former Tampa Bay first baseman Jesus Aguilar off waivers. Villar, 28, had a career year in 2019, with 24 homers, 40 stolen bases, a .279 bat and 4.0 WAR. Aguilar fell of last year but was an all-star in '18 with 35 homers and 108 RBIs. Good moves, Fish.

6. INTER MIAMI: Team signs top goalkeeper, close on coach hire: MLS expansion team Inter Miami, its inaugural season just a few months away, signed goalkeeper Luis Robles, who is 35 but coming off a stellar season with 14 shutouts for the league's New York Red Bulls. Next major step: a coach. Finally, please? Patrick Vieira of French cub Nice is the latest big rumor.

7. PANTHERS: OK, are we worried about Bobrovsky yet?: The Panthers are 15-14 after winning two straight and are seventh in the conference -- the far edge of playoff pace. That despite being one of NHL's top-10 scoring teams. So what's the problem? Defense, especially new, high-priced goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, of the career-worst saves percentage and goals-against average. Pick it up, Bob!

8. LANE KIFFIN: FAU coach headed back to SEC with Ole Miss: Three seasons in Boca Raton with the Owls were enough, apparently, to convince a Power 5 conference team to let Lane Kiffin back in. Saturday Kiffin coached FAU to a win in the Conference USA championship game, then changed hats and headed to Ole Miss in a return to the SEC. He's colorful, great on Twitter. Pretty good coach, too.

9. LIONEL MESSI: Barcelona star wins sixth Ballon d'Or: Barca god Lionel Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or as international men's futbol player of the year -- and immediately volunteered that he is aware of his age (32) and sees retirement coming. Hopefully by "retirement," he means a few years' swan song in MLS with Inter Miami? 

10. CANES BASKETBALL: UM women face tumble from rankings: Katier Meier's No. 21-ranked squad figures to drop from the Top 25 after falling to 5-3 with a home loss to No. 14 Indiana, making UM 0-3 vs. ranked teams. Canes men also  are 5-3.

Missing the HB10 cut: Former Canes coach Al Golden accuses UM of libel and negligence in a lawsuit against the university set for trial early next year, Palm Beach radio station WMEN reported. Allegations he is owed money from his 2015 buyout is the crux of the matter. Golden hopes his verdict in court exceeds his results on the field while at UM ..... Knicks firing David Fizdale = shameless scapegoating ..... OK, Houston and James Harden got screwed out of a dunk. Get over it, already! ..... Congrats on the second kid, Erik Spoelstra ..... It's 75 days until Homestead hosts another NASCAR race ..... Update: Countdown now 2,387 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote