March 07, 2020

Repentant cheater A-Rod schools Astros on how to handle a scandal. Latest column; plus how Beckham's Inter Miami is poised to quake South Florida sports; also, Premiere Week for new Greg Cote podcast & more

1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 7. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, New Podcast Monday, Dolphins QB future, Opening Week for Inter Miami & more. 2) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Showlogo ShowlogoPREMIERE WEEK FOR NEW GREG COTE PODCAST: Our new Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," premiered Monday with Episode 1. Find it at MiamiHerald.com, on Apple Podcasts or wherever else you do your podding. Remember to listen and subscribe today. It's free, and worth every penny!

ArodNEW COLUMN: REPENTANT CHEATER A-ROD SLAMS ASTROS' HANDLING OF THEIR OWN SCANDAL: The public rehabilitation of Alex Rodriguez is complete. A-Rod did the crime, did the time, and now he’s back in the game. In its embrace. He has an ESPN microphone in his hand as a baseball analyst. He put an engagement ring on J-Lo’s hand. Life is good. The rehab came full circle this week. It happened Tuesday, during a spring training broadcast of a Yankees-Red Sox game, with his most direct contrition to date on his own steroids scandal. That public remorse in turn emboldened him to blister the Houston Astros over their scandal. This was Alex Rodriguez, convicted cheater, sort of reclaiming the moral high ground. It was quite a thing to see. Surely there is an ulterior motive. A-Rod’s sudden outright contrition might be aimed at the 2022 Hall of Fame vote that will find his name on the ballot for the first time. He has seen how not coming clean on past sins has failed others such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, so he has nothing to lose with the hands-up mea culpa. As a strategy, I-did-it-and-I’m-sorry as an ulterior motive here is not wrong. It’s smart, actually. Honesty is good, and better late than never. It was fascinating, and rather impressively seamless, the way A-Rod intertwined, compared and contrasted the sign-stealing scandal embroiling the Houston Astros organization with his own controversies. To read my full latest column, please visit Repentant Cheater A-Rod Slams Astros With Lesson On How to Handle Their Own Scandal.

HOW BECKHAM'S INTER MIAMI IS POISED TO QUAKE SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS LANDSCAPE: Major League Soccer is thinking big and talking big as its 25th season unfurls. It should. And expansion team Inter Miami — Club Internacional de Futbol Miami on the birth certificate — is a big reason. So is the face of the team, club David Beckhampresident David Beckham. One game into its history, there is little question Inter Miami is positioned to be a signature franchise in MLS, a cornerstone, with its location, ideal fan-base diversity and the charisma and international appeal of Beckham all essential selling points. (Beckham’s brand and starpower are such that London’s Daily Mail reports Becks and celebrity wife Victoria, the former Spice Girl, are planning a $125,000 birthday party next week for eldest son Brooklyn, who is turning 21. Guests will include Elton John. The children all call him Uncle Elton). This is something big that is starting with Inter Miami. It will be exciting to watch unfold. It has a chance to quake South Florida sports. In fact I would not be surprised if Inter Miami, starting from zero, was playing for an MLS championship sooner than the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers or Canes football were playing for a championship in their sports. To read our full recent column, please visit Inter Miami Is Market's Sleeping Giant As Home Opener Nears.   

Other most recent columns: As NFL Free Agency & Draft Near, All You Need To Know About Dolphins' QB Situation and Beckham, Inter Miami Survive To Finally Reach Opening Week. Also: Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent' / Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love / Why Marlins Aren't Pursuing Puig All About Change In Ownership and Pressure On Marlins for Big Improvement Now -- and It's About Time.

Other select 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 / And our two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90. Also: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami / Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His / 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 26, 2020

Good things come in 3's: Jeter arrives, the 3rd of our Marlins spring columns; plus L3GACY Celebration: Dwayne Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson in Love; also, me planking on TV & more

1) It's TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25. Hot Button Top 10 was off this past week. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, my Disco Cruise vacation & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

DjeterDEREK JETER AT CAMP: MARLINS 'LAYERED WITH TALENT,' READY TO  MAKE A MOVE: Derek Jeter is this kind of guy. On a casual walk Monday at the Miami Marlins’ spring training facility, he asks how I’m doing, and without giving it a thought I say, "Couldn’t be better." He smiles, clasps me on the shoulder and and says, "Oh, you can always be better." Think of athletes whose careers are synonymous with success, with winning, and you would be hard-pressed to nominate a better one than Jeter. His 20 New York Yankees seasons included 17 postseason appearances (13 in a row), seven World Series and five championships. His two seasons presiding over and part-owning the Marlins have produced records of 63-98 and 57-105 with two last-place finishes. His Yankees career could hardly have been better. His Marlins era might finally be heading in that direction. It is time to turn a corner. Nobody knows it better than Jeter as the franchise begins Year 3 of the regime of majority owner Bruce Sherman and Jeter. "I think we’re in a lot better shape as an organization now than when we took over," Jeter said Monday, in his first spring training appearance of the budding season. "We should be a lot better this year than last year. We have a lot more talent. We have an organization that’s layered with talent." To read our full latest column, please visit Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent.'

DwadeAS HEAT RETIRE JERSEY, WADE PROVES ALL-STAR PARENT WITH EMBRACE OF LGBTQ COMMUNITY: The Miami Heat’s "L3GACY Celebration," the three-day tribute to retired franchise icon Dwyane Wade, finds something different now about Wade. His legacy has changed. It has grown, and in a way even he could not have Dwadeimagined. Fate challenged Wade and his family to show who they are, and what they showed was love, unequivocal love. What they showed was the potential to influence thinking, soften prejudices and foment understanding — to remind us how much bigger than basketball the real world is. Wade had a baby boy he named Zion. Today that baby boy is a 12-year-old who identifies as she/her and is called Zaya. (Wade is pictrued with Zaya -- then still known as Zion -- on the court last April following his final Heat home game). No amount of fame or wealth — and Wade and actress wife Gabrielle Union have lots of both — guarantees how a couple will handle such a thing. But the Wades provide a masterclass in parenting here, not with mere "tolerance," a buzzword for the lowest form of begrudging acceptance, but with a warm and open embrace of their child’s journey, and, by extension, that of everyone in the LGBTQ community. It began when the child got home and told her folks, "Hey so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward, I’m ready to live my truth." As the Heat retire Wade's No. 3 jersey Saturday night, this is the story of how a transgender daughter and her family's response brought out the best in everyone. To read our full recent column in full, kindly visit Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love.

YpuigWHY AREN'T MARLINS GOING AFTER YASIEL PUIG? HERE'S WHY: "Why aren’t the Marlins going after Yasiel Puig?" It is not unreasonable to wonder. In fact it might even be asked with a tone of incredulity. The question has probably been on the minds of Miami fans who care enough about baseball to know Puig (pictured) is the most prominent still-available free agent as spring training unfurls. Puig-to-Miami makes sense in a couple of undeniable ways. The Marlins have made an expressed effort to add offensive production to a 105-loss team that scored the second-fewest runs in all of MLB in 2019 and — in a season of record-setting longball — finished dead last in home runs. Puig, for all that is mercurial about him, is a career .277 hitter who has clubbed 28, 23 and 24 homers the past three years and who had a career-high 84 RBI last season. By any standards he is an above average hitter. By Marlins standards he’d a star — especially in this market, where the native of Cienfuegos, Cuba who defected in 2012 might be an especially popular signing. And, having just turned 29, Puig is in his prime, while his protracted availability suggests the price may be right. The Marlins’ roster would only be enhanced by adding Puig. But it won’t happen. And why it won’t happen underlines the fundamental difference between the regime of immensely unpopular former owner Jeffrey Loria and the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter hierarchy beginning its third season. To read my full recent column, please visit Why Marlins Aren't Pursuing Puig All About Change In Ownership.

BshermanMARLINS OWNER, MANAGER TURN UP PRESSURE ON TEAM TO MAKE BIG LEAP: The optimism surrounding the Miami Marlins’ start of spring training is quite sharply spoken. "A lot more talent [than last year] — upper level talent," as president of baseball operations Michael Hill put it Monday. But quantifying that optimism is a tougher ask. Trying to get a handle on Marlins expectations is where the expertly crafted vagueness comes in. "We’re not putting limitations on what we can do," said Hill, as if a jinx might be in play. Marlins CEO and part owner Derek Jeter famously says, "I don’t put a time frame on it," meaning any idea at all when the club’s ground-floor rebuild might bear tangible fruit. But majority owner Bruce Sherman (pictured) on Monday at least had the nerve to say, "The time now is to be much better this year." And manager Don Mattingly refreshingly placed some pressure on his team — and on himself. "I kept coming back to, ‘It’s time,’" said Mattingly. "Time to kind of get this thing up the hill. We’re going to be disappointed if we don’t make significant strides. We’ve got to raise or expectations." I was up in Jupiter for this week's opening of full spring training and launch of Year 3 of the Sherman/Jeter era. To read that column, please visit Pressure On Marlins for Big Improvement Now -- and It's About Time.

GREG COTE, PLANKING: This was o Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. I planked for 2 minutes 30 seconds. I did at it again for even longer. Everybody seems impressed. I don't know why.

Our other 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 / And our two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90.

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 08, 2020

Time for lone non-Jeter voter to step forward. Latest column; plus Heat, gloriously impatient Riley win with Iguodala trade; also why Reed's return is big for Canes football, Mahomes rises as Dolphins' new roadblock, latest Back In My Day video & more

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Chiefs beat 49ers in Miami Super Bowl, Hot Button Top 10, nailed our SB pick, Part 2 of our '72 Dolphins series & more. 2) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

DjTO 'THE LONE VOTER' WHO DENIED JETER: STEP FORWARD OR  BE OUTED!A brief chronology of the world’s 10 greatest mysteries: Is there intelligent alien life? (Infinity). What happened to the Ark of the Covenant? (587 B.C.). Where is Cleopatra’s tomb? (30 B.C.). Who was Jack the Ripper? (1888). Why is "abbreviation" such a long word? (Unknown). Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone? (1963). Whatever happened to D.B. Cooper? (1971). Where is Jimmy Hoffa? (1975). Why ‘New Coke’? WHY?!?! (1985). And who didn’t vote for Derek Jeter? (2020). There you have it. Nine eternal mysteries that may never be fully solved — and one that still might be. "The Lone Voter" is still out there. But where? Someone knows who he (or she?) is. The unnamed anarchist is someone’s neighbor or friend, hiding in plain sight, ripe for outing. To read our full latest column, please visit It's Time For Anonymous Lone Voter  Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward.

IGUODALA TRADE A WIN FOR HEAT AND SIGN OF PAT RILEY"S GLORIOUS IMPATIENCEWhen they called Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s name in honoring the NFL‘s all-time greatest 100 players and coaches before the Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, he held up two hands full of championship rings in a brazen showiness utterly earned. Miami Heat president Pat Riley has Patr Andreidone the equivalent this week, though somewhat more subtly, with his maestro’s work ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. The greats have a way of reminding us how they got that way, lest we forget. It can be the bling on the fingers. Or it can be a midseason trade you didn’t have to make — but one that looks like a master class in how to get more than you give. In a deal completed Thursday Miami got elite wing defender Andre Iguodala from Memphis along with starter-caliber small forward Jae Crowder and reserve Solomon Hill, with the Heat sending to the Grizzlies injury-prone Justise Winslow and two seldom-used spare parts in James Johnson and pouty, oft-suspended Dion Waiters. (Riley and Iguodala are pictured). Miami has a team option on the second year of Iguodala’s two-year, $30 million deal, meaning the Heat can part with him after this season and still have the salary-cap wherewithal to take aim at a major max-salary star in the bounteous free agency sweepstakes coming in the summer of 2021. That’s when the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokonmpo, will grand-marshal the parade of available talent. Riley turns 75 next month. He ain’t playin’. He doesn’t have all day to whip Miami back into championship contention and add another NBA ring to the eight he has won as a player, head coach or executive, including the Heat’s crowns in 2006, 2012 and 2013. To read our full column, please visit Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala.

WHY RETURN OF ED REED, EVEN IF MOSTLY SYMBOLIC, IS HUGE BOOST FOR CANES FOOTBALL: You see a little gray in Ed Reed’s full-but-neatly-trimmed beard now. His age has doubled since he was last an active part of Miami Hurricanes football as a player from 1998 to 2001. His new title now? "Chief of Staff"? It sounds grandly inflated, like he will be in a suit overseeing Edreedboard meetings. "I’m not hiring, I’m not firing. I’m coming here to help. I’m a piece of the puzzle," Reed, now 41, described his own role Wednesday in being officially introduced on campus. He will not be a coach on the field. He will not recruit except when prospects visit on campus. He will be more of an advisor/sounding board and right-hand man to coach Manny Diaz. "I’m [his] Doc Holliday," he said, of the Old West sidekick to Wyatt Earp. "I’ll be his huckleberry," Reed added, citing southern slang for "I’m your man." More than as a counsel to Diaz, though, Reed is on board to be this: An Example. Reed was hired to be a mentor to players, to show them the right way. "Stand up. Be accountable," he said. He was a consensus All-American safety at UM. He was a vital part of the school’s last of five national championships, in 2001. He is the imprimatur of all The U has developed in terms of family and culture. To read this full column, please visit Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football.

BAD LUCK DOLPHINS: FINALLY GETTING RID OF NEMESIS BRADY, NOW MAHOMES TAKES HIS PLACE. NEW COLUMN: Miami hosts another Super Bowl, and Dolphins fans automatically tease themselves (or is it torture?) wondering when their team might be back in one. Dreaming is free, and folks keep insisting anything is possible, so have it. But understand this: the Dolphins seem Pmahno closer today to their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1984 season and first victory since the 1972-73 quiniela. They seem further away, in fact. The Dolphins have simply swapped one gigantic AFC roadblock for another. Tom Brady and the Patriots dynasty fades. Patrick Mahomes and a Chiefs dynasty arises. The wattage of brightness for Kansas City’s long-term future under Mahomes, the generational quarterback, can hardly be overstated. Anything said about this young guy that seems like hyperbole probably isn’t. And this is who will now be blocking Miami’s path to playing in a Super Bowl for all of this decade and beyond. The pressure on the Dolphins regime to land a quarterback as good or to assemble a team to beat Mahomes has never been greater than it seems now as we witness the full coronation of Mahomes. This isn’t discounting the long, bright future of another Dolphins AFC roadblock, dual-threat Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. But Mahomes is the league’s new No. 1 QB and face of the NFL until somebody takes those things from him. To read our full column please visit Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place.

My column from the game: Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami.

DshulaMY 2-PART SERIES ON HOW DOLPHINS CAME SO QUICKLY TO HAVE GREATEST TEAM OF ALL TIME: This was a Super Bowl Week thing but I'm proud of the series and it's timeless so I wanted to give you another chance to read it. The 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins were named the greatest team of all time as part of the NFL's 100th season celebration. How did it happen? In Part 1 told how a long-lost Dolphins executive pre-dating Don Shula, a man named Joe Thomas, was assembling a treasure trove of talent amid the wild dysfunction of the George Wilson-led expansion years. For that tale, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins. Part 2 tells the story of how and why Shula's arrival changed everything, from the players themselves, and it takes a poignant look at 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. This is a deep dive into how the Perfect Dolphins happened, with never-before-told stuff. I hope you enjoy.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': READY, SET, HYPE!: We poke good-natured fun at the excess of sports in general, led by the Super Bowl. Debuted on yesterday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:

Other select recent columns: 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.

January 30, 2020

Super Bowl With a Smirk III: NFL? Exciting! Chiefs-49ers? Exciting! Roger Goodell? Not so much. Commish's SB press conference tops your Rampaging Torrent of Super Coverage Headquarters; plus our Kobe tragedy column & more

 It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 30. 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): Kobe Bryant's shocking death with column, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

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

LivSmirk RgoodellSUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK III: Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this week with daily needling jabs at the self-important NFL and the oversized gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, "Make Fun, Not War," Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald on years we remember to do it. In the latest, Smirk III, we lead with Roger Goodell's "state of the NFL" SB Press Conference, an annual dissemination of as little information as possible. That's Smirk III: NFL's Deft, Dull Goodell Slips Up, Makes News. Also: 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.

Previously from our Rampaging Torrent of Super Bowl Coverage:

(*) In Part 2 of our series on the Dolphins' early rise from dysfunction to domination, coming soon, how Don Shula's arrival changed everything, and Shula today, the king in his winter at age 90. In Part 1, here, read how a long-lost Dolphins executive pre-dating Shula assembled a treasure trove of talent: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

(*) 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 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 23, 2020

On Derek Jeter Cooperstown vote: IT WASN'T ME!; plus Super Bowl primer: Top 10 storylines you'll be sick off as Chiefs, 49ers head here; also, Miami's resurrection as 'Super Bowl City' & more

1) It's FRIDAY, JANUARY 24. 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): Hot Button Top 10, nailed our AFC and NFC Championship Game picks, Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's biggest victory, new John Anderson video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Ballotagain DjeterOn Derek Jeter election: It wasn't me!: Miami Marlins president (and oh, yeah, former Yankee) Derek Jeter got into Cooperstown last night with 396 votes of 397 cast. A few weeks ago we'd been joking on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio that I (a BBWAA voter) should be the person to deny Jeter unanimous entry. They were goading me to do it. And so since last night fans of the show (even knowing better) have been suggesting I was the lone dissenting vote. Well, I was not that out-on-an-island person -- just to refute any dastardly rumors. In late November I even preemptively wrote this column: If Jeter Doesn't get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me. And pictured right is the official ballot I sent in. (Click to see enlarged version).

Jgaro AreidSUPER BOWL PRIMER: TOP 10 STORYLINES YOU'LL GROW SICK OF AS CHIEFS, 49ERS HEAD TO MIAMI: Parochially you know Miami wanted Ryan Tannehill for the Super Bowl it is hosting. The idea of the longtime Dolphins quarterback playing for an NFL championship in his former stadium, under the nose of the team that discarded him, would have been rather surreal and delicious. But get over it, already. Moving on. The matchup we got for Super Bowl 54, minted Sunday night, will have no problem filling two weeks of mountainous buildup. So: Ready, set ... hype! Here’s your primer. Our Top 10 storylines you’ll be sick of way before the Feb. 2 game at Hard Rock Stadium: The two teams' record title drought. Mahomes vs. Garoppolo. Reid vs. Shanahan. The Bosa Connection. Damien Williams and the Ex's. Finally Zach's time? Miami sets host record. Katie Sowers. The Special K's. And Canes are shut-out. Pictured left to right: Niners' Garoppolo and KC's Reid celebrating their Sunday wins. For our full latest column, please visit Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

Featured other most recent column: HOW MIAMI WENT FROM FORGOTTEN BY NFL TO BACK ON TOP AS 'SUPER BOWL CITY': We speak with Miami Super Bowl Host Committee head Rodney Barreto and Dolphins/stadium owner Stephen Ross.

Also: 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 Columns Headquarters. And 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 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 09, 2020

Dan Enos Cup: Our nominees for biggest current disappointment in Miami sports. Latest column; plus Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa both Dolphins in 2020? Column; also, a new 'Back In My Day' video & more

1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 9. One last chance to visit Herald 2019 Final NFL QB Rankings for the wrapup of our 22nd year of NFL passer ratings. 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): Hot Button Top 10, NFL Wild Card Weekend, Dolphins All-Decade Team, The List, happy birthday Don Shula & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Dis4IT'S THE DAN ENOS CUP. GOES TO MIAMI SPORTS' BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT. AND THE NOMINEES ARE...: So one year ago this week the Miami Hurricanes hire Dan Enos as their new offensive coordinator, and he arrives with the perfume of Alabama excellence and the papal-like blessing of having worked under Nick Saban. Canes fans are understandably thrilled. Manny Diaz would soon say flatly, "The best recruit we signed was Dan Enos." Not quite one year later, after a 6-7 season that ended with a stupefying shutout loss to Louisiana Tech (!) in a third-tier bowl game, Enos’ firing was announced in a terse one-sentence release. The sentence might as well have been, "Don’t let the door hit you on the way out." We need an annual Disappointment of the Year award in South Florida sports. The trophy would be called the Dan Enos Cup. The cup, in this case, would be half empty, of course. Here, we present our inaugural nominees. A few pictured clockwise from upper left are the Dolphins' Kalen Ballage, Heat's Dion Waiters, UM's Cup namesake Enos, and the Panthers' Sergei Bobrovsky. For my full latest column, please visit Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports.

TuatomDREAM TICKET: TOM BRADY, TUA TAGOVAILOA BOTH DOLPHINS IN 2020?: What becomes of an aging G.O.A.T? The question insisted itself suddenly upon America as Tom Brady hurried off New England’s home field in playoff defeat and disappeared into free agency. Had he just played his final game as a Patriot? His final game, period? The possibilities for Brady’s future are many, and deliciously unknowable today. He could retire and somehow scrape by on supermodel/wife Gisele Bundchen’s millions as he awaited his call from Canton, Ohio. He could enter the open market (officially becoming a free agent on March 18) as teams in need of a pricey 42-year-old QB -- assuming there were any -- lined up in a bidding war. Hey, what about the Dolphins!? They need an upgrade, and Brady is better than Ryan Fitzpatrick in every measurable category except beard-growing. The idea of Brady as a one- or two-season luxury bridge to a QB Miami might draft and groom in 2020 does have some merit. Tua Tagovailoa on Monday officially declared for the upcoming NFL Draft as expected but is rehabbing from a serious hip injury. Scenario: Miami selects Tagovailao No. 5 overall and he learns under Brady in ‘20. (They are pictured). Betting odds say it isn't even that far-fetched. Likely? Of course. But worth a flight of fancy. For the full recent column, please visit Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020?

Other most recent columns: Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team. Also: 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.

PicksOY! WE GOT SHUT OUT ON WILD CARD WEEKEND: Big losers in the first round of the NFL playoffs: Bills, Patriots, Saints and Eagles, who all lost and were eliminated ... and me. I went 0-4 straight-up on Wild Card Weekend and also 0-4 against the spread. I got Brickered, a phrase in dishonor of a former Sun-Sentinel football writer named Charles Bricker, who once infamously went 0-14 one week against the spread, a near impossibility. For me, even 0-4 was a first. Better be a last. We'll be looking for twins 4-0s this week!

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': GIFT WRAPPING!: Weighed in with a new Back In My Day yesterday on ESPN Radio on my first 2020 appearance on the Le Batard Show. Enjoy:

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.

December 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 12, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Twitter @gregcote