March 25, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins the fierce fight for No. 1 and what else lands where; plus Heat playoff poll (vote now!), our Beckham's Miami soccer odyssey column, Haiku Challenge news & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 25. Happy 72nd birthday to Elton John. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual March Madness Haiku Challenge announcement, Diaz's re-branding of Canes football, Tannehill's legacy and your verdict on his Dolphins era & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Haiku Challenge update!: Entries closed at noon Friday in our 14th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge. Thanks to all who played along! We'll announce the winner here in our blog ON TUESDAY MORNING. Also tomorrow, we'll share how we're doing thus far in our NCAA Tournament bracket. Spoiler alert: It ain't pretty.

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

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: It's Opening Week for Fish and MLB!: Marlins finished 15-13 as one of the bigger pleasant surprises in baseball as they concluded their spring schedule Sunday vs. St. Louis, with a big team vs. top prospects fun game today. Opening Day is Thursday at Marlins Park vs. Colorado. Might still be a long season for a young, rebuilding team, but March suggests it might also be a team with some fight, and one easy to like.

2. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women gunning for Sweet 16: Miami, a No. 4  seed in the women's NCAA Tournament, won its opener and but lost 57-55 to No. 5 Arizona State on campus Sunday evening -- denying UM its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1992. But for coach Katie Meier, this team and 25-9 season were a big success, especially compared to the men's team's struggles.

3. HEAT: Hot Heat host huge home game Tuesday: Miami and Dwyane "Last Dance" Wade are 36-37 after winning nine of past 12 games and can get to .500 at home Tuesday vs Orlando. Heat hold the 8th and last East playoff spot with nine games left in the regular season, but the Magic is only one game back in 9th. So expect a playoff feel Tuesday. Or desperation, at least.

4. MARCH MADNESS: NCAA tourney reaches Sweet 16 round: The Sweet 16 pairings were completed on Sunday and all four No. 1 seeds advanced -- with Zion Williamson and Duke needing a lucky late bounce to survive UCF. Notable so far in the men's NCAA Tournament: Biggest by-seed upset: 13-UC Irvine beating 4-Kansas State. Biggest controversy: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo berating a freshman player. Biggest disappointment: My bracket.

5. TENNIS: Miami Open suffers two big losses on women's side: The first Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium, after leaving Key Biscayne, suffered a double-hit Saturday when No. 1-ranked Naomi Osaka (loss) and eight-time Miami champ and fan favorite Serena Williams (withdrawal/knee injury) both left the tourney. That's a major disappointment to an event already without injured men's star Rafael Nadal.

6. INTER MIAMI: First two seasons in Broward gets OK: Fort Lauderdale city commission unanimously approved a Jorge Mas/David Beckham plan to build a new Lockhart Stadium at the current site and for Inter Miami to play its first two MLS seasons there while the team's permanent home at the Melreese Miami site. Hmm. Um, that's less than one year to build a $60 million, 18,000-seat "new Lockhart." Chop chop, fellas. Beckham, let me know if you need to borrow my weed wacker!

7. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN: Sharks in Division II quarterfinals: Nova Southeastern basketball has reached the men's NCAA Division II Elite Eight and faces Saint Anselm College of New Hampshire this Wednesday. The Sharks are now three wins from the school's first national championship and first for coach Jim Crutchfield.

8. PANTHERS: Cats on brink of elimination from playoff contention: Florida is 10 points off playoff pace with seven games left in the regular season starting Monday at Toronto -- not officially eliminated yet, but all but. Cats may need to win the last seven games for any shot, and even that may not be enough. Not gonna happen, puckheads.  

9. HURRICANES: Raves for new QB as spring football digs in: Teammates are raving and the media is swooning over new Canes transfer quarterback Tate Martell. Dear Everybody: We are three games into 15 spring practices. It's March. Can he beat Florida -- or at least win the starting job -- before we anoint him?

10. DOLPHINS: Countdown: One month 'til draft!: The NFL Draft is April 25-27 in Nashville, so today begins the one-month countdown. That's one full month of incessant speculation on whom the Dolphins might select 13th overall, on top of the month-plus of honking and blather Your Friend the Media has already put out there.

Missing the HB10 cut: Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he is "truly sorry" for being caught at a Florida "spa" in a prostitution sting. I wonder if this story will have a happy ending. Wait. Too soon? ..... Ouch. UM baseball has lost five in a row and tries to avoid being swept at home today by No. 5-ranked North Carolina State. Honeymoon over, Gino DiMare ..... NFL owners meeting in Arizona this week will include a vote on 16 possible rule changes for 2019. One wild one: An alternative option to the onside kick giving teams a 4th-and-15 play from their own 35-yard line. That's really interesting. So it has no shot of approval ..... ESPN and UFC signed a massive agreement for the Worldwide Leader to champion UFC fights. Sorry, Disney. No interest ..... Angels' Mike Trout signed a record $430 million deal. Should we start a GoFundMe page for poor Bryce Harper? ..... Seattle opened MLB season with two games vs. Oakland in Japan, and Ichiro played and then retired in front of fans who idolize him. That's about as perfect and ending as sports can deliver ..... Florida Derby is next Saturday at Gulfstream, a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown season. So it's almost time to fake interest in horse racing ..... Funniest thing about that college admissions scandal? That we're all shocked that rich people would try to buy advantages for their spoiled-brat kids ..... Update: Countdown now 2,645 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

DwadeWHAT OPPONENT DO HEAT FANS WANT IN THE PLAYOFFS' FIRST ROUND?: Miami holds the No. 8 East seed with 11 games left in the regular season, entering tonight, but the hot Heat -- winners of three straight and eight of past 10 -- still have a plausible shot at the 7th seed or perhaps even the 6th. That's why Miami is in realistic play to face any of the current 1-2-3 seeds. (Indiana or Boston rising to 3rd is possible, but unlikely enough that we don't include them in our poll. The question is which of the 1-2-3 teams you'd most want Miami to end up facing in the first round? Vote based on which team the Heat might have the best chance to win the series against or which series might be the most fun to watch -- your call.

BecksinterNEW COLUMN: INTER MIAMI? INTERIM FORT LAUDERDALE AS BECKHAM'S WILD RIDE TAKES DETOUR: Nothing has been easy (or fast) in David Beckham's six-year odyssey to realize his dream of Major League Soccer in Miami, and the latest example is Inter Miami having to play its first two seasons at a yet-to-be built new Lockhart Stadium at the old site in Fort Lauderdale. That's assuming they can built the new Lockhart stadium in about 10 months, with 2020 preseason games starting in January. And "only" two years in Broward assumes the massive Miami Freedom Park project including the new stadium on the Melreese golf site will be ready by 2022. For my newest column, please visit Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour.

Other most recent columns: Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / The Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour.

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

March 18, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 this week and what else falls where; plus our Dolphins/Kaepernick column, grading-Tannehill-era poll (last day to vote!), 'Greg Cote Day' & more

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

Stpday1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 18. Hope y'all had a Happy St. Patrick's Day! 2) Saw Elton John on Saturday in Sunrise on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour -- likely the last  time I'll see him perform live. If so,  thanks, Elton, for being the enduring soundtrack of my life. 3) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Losses piling up in Dolphins free agency, Nova Southeastern hoops, national bobblehead shrine, farewell Wake/Gore, new Back In My Day & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami trades QB Tannehill, signs Fitzpatrick: An era ended and the Fins' rebuild kicked into higher gear with the trade of quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Tennesee for (essentially) a fourth-round draft pick. Now, after Miami failed in free agency to lure either of two short-term replacements, Tyrod Taylor or Teddy Bridgewater, the Fins on Sunday signed veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. In a swap of Ryans, Miami just lost a younger, better one than it got.

2. HEAT: It's stretch run for Wade's 'Last Dance': Miami, No. 8 East seed as of now at 33-36, learned Friday what it might face in a first-round playoff matchup vs. No. 1 Milwaukee. Heat led at home by 20 at halftime yet lost 113-98, buried by the Greek Freak. Miami, with only four home regular-season games left in Dwyane Wade's 'Last Dance' farewell season, sets out on a four-game road trip starting tonight at OKC. 

3. MARCH MADNESS: Selection Sunday (and Monday) for NCAA college hoops: It was Selection Sunday for the NCAA men's basketball tournament -- a.k.a March Madness -- with Duke, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Virginia earning No. 1 regional seeds. The women's field is to be announced Monday. Jim Larranaga's Miami men, after a 14-18 season including 1-1 in the ACCs, had no shot at NCAAs and will be hoping for NIT table scraps. But Katie Meier's UM women -- 24-8 and ranked No. 19 -- should feel some NCAA love Monday.

4. HURRICANES: UM football spring practice on deck: The first on-field work of the new Manny Diaz era begins Tuesday with the first of 15 spring practices. Scrimmages are scheduled April 6 and 20, the latter wrapping up spring work. Overshadowing it all: Whether the NCAA decides to grant QB Tate Martell's transfer waiver to make the former Ohio State Buckeye eligible in 2019.

5. INTER MIAMI: Beckham group pitches first two seasons in Broward: Miami's new David Beckham/Jorge Mas Major League Soccer franchise has proposed playing its first two seasons in a new stadium at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium site, beginning next year, before moving into its permanent home at Miami's Melreese site. Fort Lauderdale city council will vote Tuesday.

6. PANTHERS: Cats were hot, but is  it too late?: The wildly up and down Panthers are 32-40 after losing Sunday to end a four-game win streak, and are eight points off playoff pace with 10 games left in the NHL regular season. It will take a small miracle from here for Cats to sneak into postseason.

7. MARLINS: The rebuilding Fish are en fuego!: Miami, expected to be really bad this season, is the hottest team in MLB right now at 13-10 after nine wins in a row entering the final week of spring training. Quick suggestion: Save some of these wins for April.

8. NOVA SOUTHEASTERN: Sharks reach Division II regional final: Coach Jim Crutchfield's Nova Southeastern men's basketball team won again Sunday in the NCAA Division II Southern Regional the Sharks are hosting, and now face Lynn from Boca Raton for the region title on Tuesday. NSU is now four wins from a national title.

9. CANES BASEBALL: Canes drop two of three at UNC: Unranked UM is now 15-5 after dropping two of three at No. 8 North Carolina. Looks like Gino DiMare's guys will have to wait some more (and win some more) to crash polls.

10. NFL: Browns, Jets land big stars: Odell Beckham Jr. is now a Cleveland Brown and Le'Veon Bell is now a New York Jet -- arguably the NFL's premier receiver and running back going to once-downtrodden teams. So the Bible was right. The meek truly shall inherit the Earth.

Missing the HB10 cut: Happy St. Patrick's Day, lads and lasses! Big day for drinking. Sort of like most other days at my house ..... Alaska native Peter Kaiser won the grueling 1,000-mile Iditarod sled dog race, by which I mean his eight dogs won ..... Southern Cal, UCLA and other schools are implicated in a sprawling college admissions scandal. Prosecutors say 33 parents, including two prominent actresses, and several college coaches face charges in a scheme in which rich folks bribed the admissions system on behalf of their kids. Those actresses' latest role: Acting innocent ..... Recent CFL flameout Johnny Manziel has signed with the Memphis Express of  the Alliance of American Football. Over/under on his being suspended or cut: Three weeks? ..... Manchester City, Juventus, Barcelona and Liverpool are betting favorites in the eight-team, two-leg quarterfinal round of the Champions League beginning April 9. Looking for a Cinderella to root for? Saddle up FC Porto, the Portuguese side facing Liverpool ..... Update: Countdown now 2,652 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

ColinkRIGHT TIME. RIGHT TEAM. WHY DOLPHINS SHOULD SIGN COLIN KAEPERNICK: The Dolphins traded QB Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee today, basically for a fourth-round pick. Decent (not great) return. Earlier this week they failed to sign Tyrod Taylor or Teddy Bridgewater in NFL free agency this week. But at least one better option still is out there. We're so used to the image of Kaepernick being anthem-kneeling that we almost forget he's a quarterback -- not retired, but wanting work. He's an activist, but still an athlete, too. (As a reminder, I chose a photograph that pictures him passing, not kneeling). He's eager for a comeback. And the Dolphins are eager to sign a "bridge" QB who'll be a stopgap guy between the long-anticipated moving on from Ryan Tannehill and the drafting (and readiness) of the future of the franchise. Enter Kaepernick, 31. I discuss why that's a good idea, as well as the negatives, in my latest column. To read , please visit The Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin.

Other most recent columns: 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour.

RyantPOLL: GRADING THE TANNEHILL ERA. VOTE NOW!: Ryan Tannehill became an ex-Dolphin late this afternoon, and now we invite you to grade his seven years with Miami. Base your grade on your expectations via his draft status vs. what he accomplished. Notice the poll runs from a high of B-plus to a low of D-minus. Not even Mrs. Tannehill would call Ryan's an "A" time here; oppositely, though, it would be unfairly harsh to drop an "F" bomb on poor Ryan. Fairest to say the Tannehill era here was shades of gray, neither a wild success, nor a bust-failure. Let your grade reflect your thoughts on that. Vote now!

GcdIT'S 'GREG COTE DAY'! NO, SERIOUSLY...: Some sentences are so patently ridiculous they hardly need elaboration. Here's one: "The Fort Myers Miracle minor-league baseball team has scheduled a 'Greg Cote Day' at the ballpark on Saturday, July 27." They're a Minnesota Twins affiliate in the Class A Florida State League. Apparently some of their front-office folks are fans of mine on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz, which I co-host Tuesdays on ESPN Radio and occasionally other days, too. If it is possible to be half-honored, half-embarrassed about something, I'd say this may be it. I know some of the rest of the show will be joining us that evening. You can, too. Could be a hoot. Go to FortMyersMiracle for ticket info.

Select other recent columns: A Case For Tannehill, Gore And Wake All Returning / Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done / Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye / Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild / Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed / He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too / Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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

March 15, 2019

The legend of 'Coach Crutch.' Latest column; plus Bridgewater continues Dolphins free-agency losses, newest 'Back In My Day' video, Miami's unique imprint on national bobblehead shrine, farewell Cam Wake/Frank Gore & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, MARCH 15. As ridiculous as it sounds, and it does (!), the Fort Myers Miracle minor-league baseball team is having a 'Greg Cote Day' at its ballpark on Saturday, July 27. Go here for ticket information. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, on Dolphins' Tannehill/Gore/Wake, Blake Shelton concert review & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

JimcBOUTIQUE COLUMN!: GREATEST COACH YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF HAS NOVA SOUTHEASTERN HOOPS SOARING: NSU's men's  basketball team is 26-3, ranked No. 3 in NCAA Division II and hosting this weekend's eight-team Southern Regional in their Davie campus arena. They play Saturday at 5. In my latest column I write of coach Jim Crutchfield (pictured), who arrived last season and has dramatically turned around a once moribund program with few fans. Crutchfield has the best career winning percentage of any body who has coached at least 10 seasons in the NCAA. Any division. Ever. This is a coach and a team easy to root for. To read my latest column, please visit 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring.

TbridgeDOLPHINS FREE-AGENCY: MIAMI KEEPS LOSING MORE THAN GAINING: The ledger could have balanced somewhat if Miami had landed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (pictured), but, instead, T-Bridge -- a Miami native opts to stay in New Orleans as a backup in yet another free agency defeat for the Fins. The Dolphins have had a rough start to NFL free agency -- especially juxtaposed to the noisy splashes being made by the Browns, Jets and elsewhere around the league. We detail the reasons why in our recent column. Please visit Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended to read.

BobbleheadA TOUR OF THE NATION'S NEW BOBBLEHEAD SHRINE ... AND ITS MIAMI INFLUENCE: The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum just opened last Month in Milwaukee, founded by a couple of lifelong buddies who quit better-paying adult jobs to pursue their wacky dream. Now they run an empire of some 10,000 Mebobbleunique bobbleheads -- about 6,500 of them on display. I have always loved bobbleheads. Never out of style. Always kitschy. Always ridiculous and great. Custom bobbleheads are becoming big, and a couple of Christmases ago my wife sent out a photo of me somewhere and out of China magically arrived a Greg Cote bobblehead (pictured left). Must have been an old photo. I look young and thin. It looks nothing at all like me. I love it! Anyway, the national bobblehead shrine I write of in my recent column has a bunch of Miami stuff in it, and in fact drew some of its inspiration from the bobblehead display at Marlins Park. Their best-selling bobblehead (by far) has been Sister Jean, the 99-year-old Loyola basketball nun. But the co-founder also tells us the Hurricanes/Turnover Chain bobblehead was huge the season before last. Fun story, different column. To read it, please visit Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine.

Other most recent columns: A Case For Tannehill, Gore And Wake All Returning. Also: Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet, The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top?Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate and Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour.

Fgore CamwakeFAREWELL, FRANK GORE AND CAM WAKE: Headed to Buffalo in free agency, running back Frank Gore, the Old Cane, gave the Dolphins one very good year, and dirt cheap, too. On merit, by all of the usual measurements -- contribution, skill, cost -- he deserved to be re-signed by Miami. Same for defensive end Cameron Wake, gone to Tennessee after giving Miami a great career that will see him on team's Honor Roll. Unfortunately, both men were caught in the wide new net being cast as the Fins weed out their older players in a broad, ground-up reboot. It is not quite as stark or all-inclusive as what the Marlins are doing, but pretty close. In the long term it may work (if a top quarterback is a part of it). But in the short term it hurts. The Dolphins are not better today for the absence of Frank Gore and Cam Wake. They are diminished.

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': THEME CRUISES!: Cruisin' ain't what it used to be, unfortunately. Here's the new BIMD that premiered on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:

Select other recent columns: Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done / Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye / Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild / Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed / He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too / Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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

March 11, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else lands where this week; plus our newest column (Dolphins), Blake Shelton Friends and Heroes concert review & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 11. Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins boss Jeter's toughest position yet, Radio Friday, latest Back In My Day video, final-season Games Of Thrones trailer & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami on playoff pace now: Heat still a we-ain't-braggin' 31-35 but had won four in a row before Sunday's home loss to tough Toronto. Miami still is alone in 8th place in the East, holding the last playoff card. You know those coveted tickets you're holding to Dwyane Wade's final regular season home game? Looking now like he may have at least two more home games after that.

2. DOLPHINS: Team's makeover underway as free agency nears: Fins this week released WR Danny Amendola, DE Andre Branch and OG Ted Larsen, the three-veteran purge alone freeing up some $15 million in salary cap space with NFL free agency beginning this coming week. Don't expect the re-booting Dolphins to be big players, as evidenced by the signing of tight end Dwayne Allen. Does that mean the two TEs they drafted last year aren't very good?

3. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women disappoint in ACCs; men on deck: The 16th-ranked UM women are 24-8 after falling to No. 18 Syracuse 92-85 in opener of ACC Tournament, a one-and done that won't help Katie Meier's team in its NCAA seeding. The Canes men, after a letdown of a 13-17 regular season, open their ACC tourney Tuesday vs. Wake Forest in Charlotte. Jim Larranaga's guys would need a miracle run in ACCs for even a prayer to reach March Madness.

4. NFL: Raiders getting Antonio Brown: Brown is done griping about being a Steeler and now can begin finding ways to gripe about being a Raider after teams reached a trade agreement that will become official Wednesday. Oakland gives up only 3rd and 5th-round draft picks for Brown. Big winner? Derek Carr.

5. MARLINS: Even amid losing, Jeter says at least you'll have fun: Marlins CEO Derek Jeter, this week: "One thing you always remember is the experience you had while you were at the park. And that’s what we’re focusing on." While most teams focus on winning and the product on the field, the Fish's focus is the ballpark experience. Hmm. Marlins are 7-10 with three straight wins this spring training entering the next week. We havin' fun yet?

6. CANES BASEBALL: UM tops Georgia Tech in first ACC games: Canes retired Jim Morris' No. 3 before the Georgia Tech series that opened Miami's ACC schedule, and won Sunday to take two out of three games. Coach Gino DiMare's guys are 12-3 and may finally get some love in the new polls.

7. PANTHERS: Cats seeking another miracle on ice: After losing six in a row, erratic Cats followed a much-needed 6-2 win over Minnesota with Sunday's 6-1 rout of Detroit to go to 30-39 and move within seven points of NHL playoff pace with 13 games left. Do you believe in miracles? Big four-game road trip ahead will shape Florida's hopes. 

8. NBA: LeBron, Lakers season implode: LeBron James' first season in Los Angeles has been an unequivocal mess, and now TV analyst Jeff Van Gundy is on the air suggest the Lakers shoudl trade LeBron this summer. The bright side? The Lakers haven't been this interesting in years.

9. A-ROD: Alex Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez trying knot: A[Rod, 43, and J-Lo, 49, announced their engagement. This will be Lopez's fourth marriage and Rodriguez's second, and each has two children from previous marriages. Hope the two can scrape together enough money for a decent wedding.

10. DONALD TRUMP: President partied with spa owner: President Trump reportedly partied on Super Bowl Sunday with a group that included the owner of the "spa" that got Patriots owner Robert Kraft busted in a police solicitation sting at a place suspected of human trafficking. Or, did that go without saying?

Missing the HB10 cut: The grueling Iditarod Sled Dog Race is underway in Alaska. Don't know who'll win, but I know who loses. The dogs ..... Had a bad week? Wasn't as bad as Real Madrid's ..... Twenty-one horses have died mysteriously at Santa Anita. Um, somebody wanna figure this out, please? ..... Fox Sports North announcer Doug McLeod was pulled from the broadcast of a boys’ state hockey tournament in Minnesota after saying one team’s fans should "get out the lynching ropes." McLeod needs a new title: Former Fox Sports north announcer ..... Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly strained his back while spending five hours minding the boiling crawfish at a Cajun party for teammates. I blame the Dodgers. His contract prohibited skydiving and motorcycle racing but said nothing of minding boiling crawfish ..... R.I.P., Dan Jenkins, sports writing titan ..... Update: Countdown now 2,659 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Goretanny WakeTANNEHILL, GORE AND WAKE ALL BACK WITH DOLPHINS? WE EXPLORE: Making two things clear: 1. Not predicting this will happen! Miami is poised to move on from all three of ts biggest-name veterans, especially if it is serious about being fine with being bad this coming season; i.e., tanking. 2. The Fins' clear priority should remain finding its quarterback of the future in the 2019 or 2020 drafts, no matter what. Having said that, if the Fins are serious about being as competitive as possible this year, as they now claim, another year of RB Frank Gore and DE Cameron Wake begins to make sense. And, with QB options diminishing for Miami in both pending free agency and the draft, one more stopgap season of Ryan Tannehill -- at a reduced price! -- begins to seem a viable option as well. Worth exploring, anyway. And I do, here. Visit and read our latest column at A Case For Tannehill, Gore And Wake All Returning.

Other most recent columns: Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet. Also: The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top?, Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate and Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour.

COTE GOES COUNTRY: A REVIEW: We saw the Blake Shelton Friends & Heroes concert last night at the Panthers arena. I looked forward to it -- but not for Shelton, who I think is OK but diminished by having turned into a cheesy music game-show judge. One of his friends on the bill, Lauren Alaina, I'd not heard of. But the three others? Really like a couple of Bellamy Brothers songs. Think Trace Adkins is great. And! John Anderson. OMG. I've been a fan since Seminole Wind and Swingin'. He's a country hero of mine, and the only other time I've seen him live was before a couple of hundred folks in a country western club. Here's the Shelton video announcing the tour below. Our quickie review: It was a 4 hour 15-minute marathon, much too long, largely because opening act Alaina played way too long and the delay after her set was way too long. It meant the concert really dragged before it ever really started. Not good. But the rest of the show was great. Shelton impressed with his stage presence and catalog, my man Anderson sent chills with the opening violin on Seminole Wind, and Adkins proved he's still headliner-quality with that sub-baritone of his. Drastically pare back the Alaina opening and you got you a nice concert format there, Blake.

Other select recent columns: Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done / Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye / Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild / Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed / He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too / Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins / From Dark and Empty to the 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

March 05, 2019

A Necessary Firestorm: Why Martina Navratilova's controversial comments on transgender athletes sparks a valuable conversation. Our new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Radio Tuesday, our holiday in Mexico & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, MARCH 5. Happy to be back. Wife and I took a long weekend off on a four-night cruise to Mexico. Cozumel is better than Cancun and it ain't even close. Our tour guide's passion about his Mayan culture was really great to hear. All in all we had a great time there after successfully scaling Trump's border wall. 2) Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The extraordinary journey of Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, Wade's signature 'Last Dance' moment & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz. It airs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. nationally on ESPN Radio and ESPNews, after an exclusive local hour 8:55 to 10 on Miami's 790 The Ticket. Join us!

MartinaWHY MARTINA NAVRATILOVA'S COMMENTS ON TRANSGENDER ATHLETES HAVE STARTED A VALUABLE CONVERSATION. OUR LATEST COLUMN: This is complicated. It's about equal rights on one side, but also about fairness on the other. Tennis great Martina Navratilova (pictured) is now  being vilified by the same LGBTQ community that once adored here because she dared to suggest, in an  op-ed piece for the Sunday Times Of London, that transgender women have an unfair advantage competing in sports against athletes born female, and thus should not be allowed to. Evidence backs her on the advantage claim, yet the comments have been angrily portrayed as transphobic. To read our latest column, please visit Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate. I believe Navratilova raises valuable points that merit a civil discussion. There is much gray here. I do not think it is at odds to be both pro LGBTQ-rights (as I am) but also to find merit in Navratilova's concerns.    

Other most recent columns: Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / The Evolution Of Sports Into Big Business / Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done / Zion Should Say See-Ya Duke and Shut It Down / Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye / Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild / Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed / He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too / Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami wins, now needs to get on a run: Dwyane Wade's exhilarating game-winning buzzer-beater vs. Golden State was a signature moment for his Last Dance season, but it doesn't erase the fact Heat are wallowing at 29-34 and on the far edge of playoff contention after last night's 1-point home win over Atlanta. Wednesday in Charlotte, Miami aims for its first three-game winning streak since before Christmas.

2. DOLPHINS: Kyler Murray wows at Scouting Combine: Oklahoma's Heisman-winning quarterback was thought to be in play for the Dolphins with the 13th overall pick in the draft. But after his showing at the recent NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis there is talk he may go top-five or even No. 1 overall. The big news? He measured 5-10 1/8th -- not 5-9 as some feared. (Woo hoo!) Do the Dolphins have a major trade-up in them? Yeah, I doubt it, too.

3. GOLF: Keith Mitchell wins Honda Classic: Who!? Yeah, it was Mitchell's first PGA Tour win, by one shot over big names Brooks Kopeka and Rickie Fowler in a mostly low-watt event in terms of star power. Mexico's Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, whom we wrote about (see link above) missed the cut.

4. MLB: Phillies land Bryce Harper: Free-agent prize Harper stays in the NL East after signing a 13-year, $330 million contract with Philadelphia. Always thought he was overrated. Add overpaid now. He'll next be a free agent at age 39 entering the 2032 season. Think the rebuilding Marlins might be good by then?

5. UM BASKETBALL: Ranked Canes women prep for ACC tourney: No. 15-ranked UM women bring a 24-7 season record and No. 4 seed into the ACC Tournament, which opens for the Canes Friday vs. a yet-to-be-determined opponent in Greensboro, N.C. Expectations are high. Not so much for the Miami's men's team, which is only 12-16 entering Tuesday's season finale vs. Pitt prior to next week's ACC tourney.

6. PANTHERS: Are we still pretending Cats have playoff shot?: Four straight losses, all by one goal, have left Florida 28-37 and a big 10 points off NHL playoff pace entering Tuesday's game at Pittsburgh. Cats had been hot(ish) before the current tailspin that is ill-timed to say the least.

7. CANES BASEBALL: Hot UM prepares for ACC schedule: Gino DiMare era is off and running at 9-2 entering a Wednesday home game vs. Appalachian State, with ACC play opening with a home series starting Friday vs. Georgia Tech. DiMare seems up to the Ron Fraser/Jim Morris lineage so far.

8. NFL: Jaguars zeroing in on QB Nick Foles: As NFL free agency commences next week, Jacksonville reportedly has plans to release Blake Bortles in favor of signing Eagles free agent-to-be Foles. Miami could have opted for a similar upgrade, said nah.

9. NBA: LeBron calls out Lakers teammates: LeBron James called out his young Lakers teammates for being distracted from basketball, and later yelled at teammate Mo Wagner. Oh the indignity of me, LeBron James, not making the playoffs! It's an outrage!

10. MARLINS: Yep, it seems Fish may be as bad as we thought: Marlins are 3-7 one-third through spring training after yesterday snapping a five-game losing streak. But the last three of those losses in a row had been by only one run. (Nobody said accentuating the positive was easy, folks).

Missing the HB10 cut: Division II men's basketball team Indiana University of Pennsylvania traveled for a road game without its uniforms, and had to play in the nude. Just kidding! They borrowed the host team's road unis ..... L.A. high school safety Antoinette "Toni" Harris, the first female football player (non-kicker) to sign a college letter of intent. Missouri's Central Methodist University, y'all just made history ..... The Montreal Alouettes released Johnny Manziel and the CFL banned him from the league for violating his contract. "Operator, could I have a number for the Alliance of American Football, please?" ..... Pacman Jones was arrested at an Indiana casino. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Because NFL officials were not present, ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy berated high-school basketball referees after a loss by his stepson's team ..... Update: Countdown now 2,666 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup. ..... Farewell and happy retirement to Clark Spencer, the Herald's longtime baseball writer. Mostly congratulations, for not having to cover the Marlins anymore. 

Select other recent columns: Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity / The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019 / The Redemption Of Manny Diaz / Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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

February 25, 2019

Why Heat's Pat Riley is defiantly scoffing at retirement. On the premiere of new ESPN/Le Batard TV series with Riles in debut episode; plus Radio Monday (!), latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25. Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade's farewell a masterwork in how to retire right, 6 reason for Marlins optimism, Miami's rank among best sports cities, new Back In My Day video, Brandi Carlile's 'The Joke' & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Monday (!): I'm co-hosting on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz today/Monday instead of my regular Tuesday gig because of a Herald work-related conflict. It airs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. nationally on ESPN Radio and ESPNews, after a local-only hour 8:55 to 10 on Miami's 790 The Ticket. Join us!  

PrileyOn Le Batard TV premiere with Riley: ESPN's Dan Le Batard has a new ESPN TV series called Art Of Conversation that premiering last evening with Heat president Pat Riley. I thought it was really good. In case you missed it, or even you didn't, here is our review. Please visit Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami stumbling out of All-Star break: Post All-Star break, first the Heat lose to a 76ers team minus Joel Embiid, then get clobbered 119-96 by a Pistons they're chasing for the final East playoff spot. Slumping Miami now is 26-32 and 10th in the jockeying for eight playoff tickets. Why? Largely because the 11-17 home record is the worst by far of any playoff contender. After hosting Phoenix on Monday, Miami plays Golden State here Wednesday. Oy.

2. MARLINS: Spring games underway for retooling Fish: Miami opened its 30-game spring schedule on Saturday vs. the Cardinals in Jupiter. They got clobbered, giving up 20 hits in an 11-1 loss, and are now 0-2 in fake games. (Keep repeating: "Spring results don't matter..."). Highlight of spring opener: Starter Sandy Alcantara looked pretty good in two innings' work. Lowlight: Everything else. 

3. MLB: Padres hit Machado jackpot: San Diego won the bidding for prized Hialeah-born free-agent slugger Manny Machado with a 10-year, $300 million bid. Padres have never won a championship in their 50 seasons and last made the playoffs 13 years ago. No pressure or anything, Manny! 

4. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women end jinx, beat FSU: The 23-6 UM women rose to No. 14 in polls before an upset loss at Virginia Tech, but bounced back at home to beat nemesis Florida State 64-54 Sunday -- ending  a nine-game regular season losing streak in the series. As regular seasons wanes, Katie Meier's troops are playing for NCAA Tournament seeding. Meanwhile Jim Larranaga's 11-14 Miami men's team likely needs a big finish and a prayer just to sneak into the NIT.

5. ZION WILLIAMSON: Unraveling Nike sneaker fells game's top player: panthers ] College Player of the Year-designate Zion Williamson of No. 1 Duke crumples and injures a knee when his Nike sneaker falls apart during a game like a frayed retread on the Interstate. Barack Obama, at the game, was seen on TV saying, "His shoe broke!" Accurate. Meanwhile Nike stock takes a billion-dollar hit before rallying.

6. GOLF: Tiger says he won't play the Honda: Tiger Woods said he'll skip this week's Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, South Florida's only PGA Tour event since the tour left Doral. Modest field features only three of top 20-ranked players in No. 2 Brooks Koepka, No. 4 Justin Thomas and No. 9 Rickie Fowler. With fan favorites like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth also all skipping Honda, event could have really used Tiger.   

7. ROBERT KRAFT: Patriots owner nabbed in prostitution sting: You just can't make this stuff up, folks. If you did, nobody would believe you. So the 77-year-old owner of the New England Patriots is caught in a police sting for eliciting sex at a Jupiter massage parlor. Pats won the Super Bowl but evidently (you see this coming, right?) Kraft had another happy ending in mind. 

8. PANTHERS: Cats clobber Kings, but time running out: As Monday's NHL trade deadline looms, Florida routed the visiting L.A. King 6-1 Saturday night but still are only 27-33 and a big 10 points back in the playoff chase. Cats finished a seven-game homestand 4-3 and now hit the road starting Monday in Colorado.

9. CANES BASEBALL: UM loses series at rival Florida: The Gino DiMare era busted out to a 5-0 start before the unranked Canes lost the final two games of a three-game weekend set vs. No. 3-ranked Gators in Gainesville. 

10. DOLPHINS: Fins bolster front office with McKenzie: Dolphins hired Reggie McKenzie as "senior personnel 0executive," which basically sounds like he'll be a right-hand man for general manager Chris Grier. McKenzie spent past seven years as GM for the Oakland Raiders, but we won't hold that against him.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dan Le Batard's new ESPN series, Art Of Conversation, premieres Sunday at 5:30 with a profile of Heat prez Pat Riley. Shameless Plug Alert: I have details about the show and its first episode here ..... Ichiro singled in his first spring at-bat for Seattle. Also notable: He's bleepin' 45! ..... Famed Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim said he would coach Saturday night's game just two days after an accident in which his car struck and killed a man. Boeheim has fully cooperated and may not be charged with anything. Still, maybe take the next game off while the other family plans the funeral? Just a thought ..... The new Alliance of American Football, entering its third week, already has needed a bailout to meet payroll. Buzzards are circling ..... Former straight-laced NBA coach Don Nelson, in retirement, has grown a hippie beard and become a devotee of marijuana. Somewhere, Bill Walton is smiling ..... ..... A Kenosha, Wisconsin high school gave cheerleader awards called Big Booty and Big Boobie until the school board stepped in. Give the Big Idiot award to the coach who let it happen ..... Breakdancing has been proposed for the 2024 Olympics. Oh Lord how I wish I were kidding ..... Update: Countdown now 2,674 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

ZionwA BUSTED SHOE, A HURT KNEE AND WHAT'S NEXT FOR ZION WILLIAMSON: The most-talked about and coveted young basketball phenom since LeBron James suddenly falls with an injured knee on Duke’s court because his Nike sneaker fell apart. It’s national TV. The camera shows former President Barack Obama, seated courtside, saying, "His shoe broke!" That’s notable enough. But what happens next might be bigger: Will Zion Williamson play another game for Duke? Should he? Why should he? That's the gist of my column. To read it, please visit: Zion Should Say See-Ya Duke and Shut It Down.

Other most recent columns: Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye  /  Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild  /  Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed /  He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too /  Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins.

Select recent other columns: Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity / The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019 / The Redemption Of Manny Diaz / Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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

February 21, 2019

Dwyane Wade's farewell season a masterwork in how to say goodbye. New column; plus 6 reasons for optimism as Marlins open spring training, latest 'Back In My Day' video (Men's Socks!), Miami's rank among best sports cities, Brandi Carlile & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from yesterday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio/ESPNews. Find below the video for the latest Back In My Day segment. 2) Anybody else think Presidents' Day is a lame holiday to have off? Or maybe I'm just bitter I had to work. 3) Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Kaepernick case settles, your Dolphins QB verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeNO MATTER HOW SEASON ENDS FOR HEAT, WADE GOES OUT A WINNER: Heat are in Philly tonight to begin the season's second half, with Miami precariously right on the outer edge of playoff contention. Close call whether they make the postseason, but either way, Dwayne Wade, in his 'Last Dance' farewell season, is giving a lesson on how to retire, and when. To read my latest column, please visit Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye. Wade, feeling the love from coast to coast, is doing it his way, going out on his terms and his timetable. Says No. 3: "For me, to be able to come back to Miami and make the decision this year that I was going to walk away from the game on my own -- under my own will -- it’s a good thing."

JeterAS SPRING IS SPRUNG, AN OPTIMISTIC TAKE (BELIEVE IT OR NOT) ON THE REBUILDING MARLINS : I ventured north to Jupiter on Monday for the first full-day of Marlins spring training and birthed my latest column. To read it, and I hope you will, please visit Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild. My six reasons are entitled Pitching, pitching, pitching; A burgeoning farm system; Potential future stars to watch; The broadening scope of the talent search; Stuff behind the scenes you don’t see; and A ‘Yankees South’ feel to the makeover. In the column I detail each and explain why these are all positives. I have been tough on the "Fire-Sale Fish" over the years, and was when the new Derek Jeter regime abruptly traded stars Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. But the return is becoming ecvident. There will be lots of losing in the short-term. But I think by around the 2021 season, the club's plea for fans' patience may be showing dividends. Pictured on Monday: Jeter chatting with new special adviser Jorge Posada.

Other most recent columns: Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed /  He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, TooWhy Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins.

MIAMI, START THAT EBULLIENT "WE'RE NO. 7!" CHANT!: The website 24/7 Wall St. (247wallst.com) lists the Top 20 "Best Cities for Sports Fans" in the U.S. (full ranking here) and Miami comes in a respectable No. 7, trailing only, in order, Los Angeles, Boston, New York City, Chicago, San Antonio and Denver. The methodology is vague but is said to include all American cities/metro areas with at Sevenleast one professional team in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB, with additional points given for number of teams, number of championships in past decade and consistency of winning, along with team payrolls, presence of major stars and "other measures related to overall experience of being a sports fan." The synopsis on Miami, condensed by me: "While Dolphins had their share of success in 1970s, Heat has been the winningest team recently, with NBA titles in 2006, 2012, and 2013. They are probably most remembered for adding LeBron James and Chris Bosh prior to the 2010-11 season. After six straight trips to the postseason, the Heat qualified in just one of the last three seasons. The Dolphins are most remembered for their perfect season in 1972. The Miami Marlins, who have made it to the postseason in just two of the 25 years of their existence, won the World Series both times — in 1997 and 2003. The Panthers won a conference championship in 1995-96 but have never hoisted the Stanley Cup. They qualified for postseason just twice (2012, 2016) in last 16 years. In Miami, it’s not the humidity, it’s the Heat." My comment: Should we really be lending credence to any gauge that calls L.A. the best city for sports fans?

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': MEN'S SOCKS!: Whatever happened to white socks for sneakers and black socks for dress shoes as the simple rule of footdom?

BRANDI CARLILE'S 'THE JOKE': Blog readers know what a huge music fan I am, and I'd heard of but not really knew of Brandi Carlile before seeing her performance of her song, "The Joke," at the recent Grammy Awards. I was blown away. By the song. By the performance. By the message.I hope it means something or moves you in some way as it did me:

Other select recent columns: Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity / The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019 / The Redemption Of Manny Diaz / Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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

February 18, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Kaepernick and Kuchar columns, your verdict on Murray vs. Tagovailoa for Dolphins & more

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

Prezday1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18. Happy Presidents' Day. I honor the office and what it stands for. Not always the man in it. But the office. 2) Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Matt Kuchar/underpaid caddie tempest, Dolphins' QB plan with poll, Parkland 1-year anniversary & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Colin Kaepernick, Caddiegate, Kyler Murray: Our most recent columns: Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is SignedHe Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too /  And Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT/NBA: Wade's 'Last Dance' pauses for All-Star Game: It was Team LeBron rallying to beat Team Giannis 178-164 in a typically defense-oriented (!) NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte Sunday night. Heat's Dwyane Wade, a special all-star roster addition, scored seven points with four assists off the bench in 10 minutes of action in the final all-star bow of his Last Dance farewell season. Now back to earth: Miami will return from the break Thursday at 26-30 and narrowly off playoff pace.

2. MARLINS: Fish open full spring training: Marlins are up in Jupiter (the city, not the planet) for Monday's first full-squad work of spring training. With catcher J.T. Realmuto now a Phillie, every Miami veteran with any appreciable trade value has now been swapped out for prospects. Fish could be good someday. We just have no idea when.

3. MOTORSPORTS: Hamlin takes Daytona 500: Denny Hamling won the Daytona 500 for the second time in four years Sunday in NASCAR season-opening race, one marred as usual by multiple wrecks. William Byron (whom Hot Button is not pretending to have heard of) was on the pole. Too bad. Nobody has won this race from the pole position since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women win at No. 2 Louisville: After earlier stunning No. 4 Notre Dame, Katie Meier's Canes women -- 22-5 and ranked 20th -- visited second-ranked Louisville Sunday and won 79-73. The drama for UM's men is of a far different sort. Jim Larranaga's guys (11-14) will need a miracle finish in last five games and in ACC Tournament for any prayer of an invite to NCAAs.

5. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB, NFL settle collusion grievance: I'm no lawyer, but this I know: the settlement of a collusion grievance is a compromise but one that does not mean there was no collusion to keep Colin Kaepernick out of the league. Simple to end all doubts, though. Somebody sign the guy!

6. CANES BASEBALL: Canes open season, DiMare era with sweep: With Jim Morris retired after 25 seasons, Gino DiMare took over as coach as the Hurricanes wrapped their season-opening home series vs. Rutgers Sunday with a three-game sweep: 19-3, 7-1, 9-3. Canes are unranked. For now.

7. MATT KUCHAR: 'Cheapskate Champ' finally does right by caddie: The PGA Tour's Caddiegate starred Matt Kuchar, who, after winning a tournament and its $1.3 million prize, paid his fill-in caddie a paltry $5,000. Social media vilification ensued. Friday, Kuchar relented, apologize and said he'd give the bag man 50K.

8. PANTHERS: Barkov hat trick lifts Cats: Florida, in the midst of a seven-game homestand, beat Montreal Sunday behind Aleksander Barkov's hat trick. But Cats are still a big 11 points off playoff pace two-thirds into the NHL season. Panthers have won than three games in a row only once all season. Streak, please?

9. BOB COSTAS: Broadcaster breaks silence on NBC split: Bob Costas revealed details of his breakup with NBC Sports after a 38-year run, saying it came down to his outspokenness on NFL brain injuries clashing with NBC's pricey partnership with the league. No surprise: Costas leaves with his integrity intact.

10. INSPIRATION: A coach with no arms or legs: ESPN told the story of Rob Mendez, a California high-school football coach born without arms or legs. Store away the previous sentence in the back of your mind for use the next time you start feeling sorry for yourself.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Dolphins introduced new coach Brian Flores' staff of assistants to the media on Friday. Time now for them to introduce Miami to something nearly forgotten: a winning Fins team ..... Week 2 for the new Alliance of American Football, and I can already feel interest fading ..... Bengals RB Mark Walton, the ex-Cane, was arrested in Miami for snatching a cell phone from a woman during an argument. And the propensity of some pro athletes to be their own worst enemy continues to astound ..... Finalists for the 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class are led by Marques Johnson, Jack Sikma, Ben Wallace and Paul Westphal, verifying once and for all they're letting too many people in ..... David Beckham watched his first Salford City match since becoming a 10-percent owner of the English non-Premier League club. Hey Becks, how about you concentrate on Inter Miami, yes? ..... R.I.P. Gordon Banks, famed British goalkeeper who ended his career with Fort Lauderdale Strikers in late '70s, gone at 81 ..... Update: Countdown now 2,681 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

KaepNO KAEPERNICK COLLUSION? ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN SETTLEMENT: Colin Kaepernick settled his collusion grievance against the NFL on Friday, but the quarterback remains unsigned entering his third season of suspicious unemployment. For my newest column, please visit Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed. Friday's settlement should not have surprised anyone. The player knows how difficult it is to prove collusion in court. And the NFL wanted very badly to spare commissioner Roger Goodell and several team owners from being deposed and having their phone records and emails examined. It also is important to note that settling the collusion grievance does not mean there was no collusion to blackball Kaepernick from the league, or that there isn't still. I'd rehash the whole background here, but you're living under a rock if you don't know the polarizing QB is where he is as the father of the NFL players' social justice movement that has included kneeling during the national anthem. All it will take is one brave team to see in the "athlete/activist" first as a really good quarterback who is better than what they've got. Only then will the stain of collusion begun to fade.

POLL RESULTS: IT'S TAGOVAILOA OVER MURRAY FOR FINS: We asked, "Which of these 2 options would you prefer as a Miami Dolphins quarterback plan?" And you preferred drafting Tua Tagovailoa in 2020 over Kyler Murray in 2019 by 57.50 percent to 42.50%. So a somewhat less than overwhelming majority is buying into the prevalent "tank in '19 for Tua in '20" theory -- even though odds are against Miami being bad enough next season to draft high enough to get him. And a sizable minority agree with me about fast-tracking the future by going for the more gettable Murray in this April's draft.

Other most recent columns: Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity / The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019 / The Redemption Of Manny Diaz / Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble.

Additional select recent columns: Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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

February 11, 2019

The State of South Florida Sports in 2019: My latest column, now your turn. Which of our 5 major pro teams will be next to win a championship? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11. Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Buoniconti/D.Wade documentaries, Dolphins projected to draft QB, top 8 Hurricanes prep recruits, your verdict on Fins' Flores hire & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Troika of newest columns: The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019, our latest. Also: The Redemption Of Manny Diaz and Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble.

Flapan Miamar Intmia Miahea MiadolCHALLENGING TIME FOR MIAMI PRO TEAMS. MY NEW COLUMN, NOW YOUR VOTE: I believe hardly any of us in South Florida is a fan of only one local pro team (although we all have our favorite), and that many of us are fans of or care about all the local teams to some degree. So I don't shy away from occasional columns like my newest, a state-of-the-franchise take on all five teams, including a one Big Hope for each. To read that column, and I wish you would (!), visit The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019. The Dolphins are seen in rebuild-mode with a new coach. The average Heat are struggling to find the map to relevance again. The Marlins are doing a ground-up reboot. The Panthers continue to perform below expectations. Inter Miami will join Major League Soccer as an expansion team in one year. So my column and our annual (if we remember to do it) poll question are well-timed  because right now you could make a good argument for -- or against -- any of the five teams in an interesting, challenging time in South Florida sports. For this poll I invite you to be as neutral as possible. It isn't a favorite-team poll. It is asking you, honestly, which team you think is  best-positioned to win a championship soonest. Vote as if your money were riding on the answer. Ready? Go!

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: National Signing Day puts bow on 24-man class: New coach Manny Diaz and staff signed 16 prep stars and eight transfers for a 24-man 2019 recruiting class. It ranked only 30th in the country (via ESPN) but that didn't include the transfer Portal bounty. Highlights: A load of talent at defensive tackle, and a tatted-up 6-4 punter from Australia who looks like your top draft pick to win a barroom fight.

2. HEAT: Struggling Miami trades 2, falls at Golden State: Heat are 25-29 and for now off playoff pace in East after last night's 120-118 loss at Golden State despite Josh Richardson's 37 points. Miami beat trade deadline by sending Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington to Phoenix for Ryan Anderson in a move less about basketball than about clearing cap space. As if we needed a final reminder how the Heat overpaid so grossly for Johnson.

3. MARLINS: Fish trade Realmuto with spring on deck: Marlins' long-expected trade of all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto happened in deal with Philadelphia that brought Miami a nice haul including top Phillies prospect Sixto Sanchez, a potential ace No. 1 starter. Team had its FanFest on Saturday, meaning spring training is on deck. Pitchers and catchers report Wednesday, with the full squad convening a week from Monday.

4. PANTHERS: Can Cats still make playoffs?: Florida is making this interesting after all. Cats still are only 22-31 and are nine points off NHL playoff pace, but had won two in a row and six of past eight before Sunday's 5-2 loss to Tampa. That began a seven-game homestand. Miracle on ice, anyone?

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women stun Notre Dame: No. 25-ranked UM women are 20-5 after beating No. 4 Notre Dame 72-65, while Canes men are struggling at 10-13 after Saturday's heartbreak 88-85 OT loss at No. 8 North Carolina. Its's Bracketology season as March Madness near, but only one Miami team is in the convo.

6. NBA: LeBron uses all-star draft to recruit: The NBA All-Star Game is next Sunday in Charlotte, but LeBron James (one of the two captains along with Buck's Giannis Antetokounmpo) used this week's ASG draft to coincidentally (!) sslect players his Lakers may try to woo this summer. With his first three picks he chose Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard, all pending free agents. Hmm.

7. DOLPHINS: New coach Flores completes staff: Newly hired Fins head coach Brian Flores completed his coaching staff. Notable: Bringing in experienced Jim Caldwell as assistant head coach. Oh, and stealing three assistants from Bill Belichick's Patriots staff. Not a bad first week on the job, B-Flo.

8. AAF: Alliance of American Football debuts: The new Alliance of American Football, pretty much a creation of CBS Sports, debuted Saturday with two games as San Antonio Commanders beat San Diego Fleet 15-6 and Steve Spurrier's Orlando Apollos beat Atlanta Legends 40-6. The AAF is worth watching. Mostly because, like all spring alternatives to the NFL, it likely won't last.

9. ADAM GASE: Drama in Jetsville already underway!: Adam Gase's new Jets coaching staff includes his father-in-law, Joe Vitt, and Gregg Williams. Hmm. Vitt and Williams both were embroiled in the Saints' Bountygate scandal, with Vitt accusing Williams of lying during NFL's investigation. Fun!

10. UFC: Time to call it quits, Mr. Silva: At UFC 234 in Australia unbeaten middleweight Israel Adesanya defeated all-time great Anderson Silva in a unanimous decision. Silva is 43. Need more be said? 

Missing the HB10 cut: Fellas, remember Valentine's Day is Thursday. Only four more days to concoct a believable excuse why you forgot ..... Houston's James Harden's streak of 30-point games is now at 29. In case an MVP award might be coming, his beard has already written an acceptance speech ..... Skiing great Lindsey Vonn won a bronze medal in the world championship downhill in her final career race before retiring. The rest of her life? All downhill from here ..... Pole qualifying underway for next Sunday's Daytona 500. Think of it as a pole dance at 180 mph ..... A thrown can of beer hit Rob Gronkowski kin the head during the Patriots' championship parade. Alternate punchlines: A) He didn't feel a thing. B) That's terrible. What a waste of beer! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,688 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints / This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

Super Bowl With a Smirk quintet: Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed top Honors night. But what about Miss Colombia? / Smirk IV: Of 100-plus Super Bowl Canes, he was 1st / Smirk III: No comment, say halftime performers / Smirk II: No. 1 Dolfan on edge of history / Smirk I: Welcome to 'Suit' Bowl LVIII.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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

February 04, 2019

New: Why Dolphins are poised to hit big with Flores gamble; plus Patriots win and so did I on Super Bowl Sunday; also, our SB pick, Smirk Quintet, your Canton verdict, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Happy new month, all. Do good, Feb! 2) Football is at its crescendo so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk I-II-III-IV-V, Pro Football Hall of Fame poll, Super Bowl pick & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW COLUMN: DOLPHINS POISED TO HIT BIG WITH FLORES HIRE:The Dolphins have made only two head-coaching since the Don Shula era that should have had fans truly excited: Jimmy Johnson in 1995, and Nick Saban in 2005. Brian Flores, in 2019, could be the third. I explain why in my new column: Visit Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble to read.

PATRIOTS WON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY. SO'D DOLPHINS. AND SO DID I: Unorthodox game and odd score, 13-3, but Patriots last night won sixth championship of the Brady/Belichick era. The Dolphins won, too, because now they get Brian Flores, the New England defensive play-caller whose handprints were on Sunday's win and who now becomes the Fins next head coach. I won, too. I had the Patriots winning outright. (Check). I had the Patriots comfortably covering at minus 2 1/2 points. (Check). And I had the 'under' on what what a 56 1/2-point line on total scoring. (Check). A fitting end to our personal-record-setting season of picks!

SbliiiSUPER BOWL LIII: RAMS VS. PATRIOTS: THE PICK: Do you suffer from Super Bowl Week Syndrome? This is a medically recognized malady that causes headaches and victims’ eyes to glaze over from the the incessant parade of media hype for the big game. Do you suffer from Patriot Fatigue? Symptoms of this diagnosis — prevalent to nearly epidemic levels outside of Massachusetts — include acute irritability over the very idea of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick winning yet again. Either way, folks, for better or worse, it’ll all be over soon! Atlanta hosts the 53rd SB and Brady and Belichick haven’t actually been in all of them, it only seems that way. New England’s Double-G.O.A.T. quarterback/coach combo is merely making a ninth Super appearance together, in search of a record sixth NFL championship. These two have more rings than Saturn. But will they add one more or is the dynasty about to end as 120 Americans bear witness? An L.A. Rams team led by a 24-year QB (Jared Goff) and a 33-year-old coach (Sean McVay) is well-poised to represent “Next!” But can they? I’m doubting it. There’s a neat full-circle thing in play here, because it was the Rams (then in St. Louis) who gave Brady/Belichick its first Super Bowl win 17 years ago. Rams haven't been back to the Big Game since, ‘til now. New England was way back then a 14-point underdog; Sunday they're 2 1/2 -point favorites. Faith in the Pats is easy by now. New England is playing its best ball of the season, nobody is more clutch on this stage than Brady, and now it seems Rob Gronkowski has gotten his second wind. That’s huge, because the Rams have defended tight ends poorly all season. The Patriots’ defense also is better all-round than L.A.’s, which has given up 30-plus points seven times. Then there’s Belichick. He has a great track record vs. young QBs, of which Goff still qualifies. He also earned his Genius Card by limiting opponents’ most dangerous threat, which is why I think he’ll find a way to insulate Brady from the Rams’ up-the-gut pass rush led by Aaron Donald. I know that underdogs tend to be a smart Super Bowl play; that ‘dogs have won six of the past seven SBs outright. But that trend ends here. Yes, the Patriots have been much better at home than on the road this year. But consider this: For New England, the Super Bowl is home. (For the full preview/predix, visit Super Bowl Gem). Our pick: Patriots, 31-24.

SmirkTHE 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK' QUINTET: Smirk returned with five daily notes columns poking fun at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game:

Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed top Honors night. But what about Miss Colombia? -- Previewing NFL Honors night hosted by Steve Harvey. Also: Lamb belly, Lil Yachty, Greg Economou. 

Smirk IV: Of 100-plus Super Bowl Canes, he was 1st -- Meet UM Hurricane whose historical distinction will always be his alone. Also: Merriam-Webster's SB analysis, amputation, Etrade Baby.

Smirk III: No comment, say halftime performers -- Maroon 5 canceled halftime-show presser as Roger Goodell tried to explain away Saintsgate. Also: Romo's non-pick, 442 prop bets. 

Smirk II: No. 1 Dolfan on edge of history -- For 34th straight season Miami didn't make Super Bowl. But team's biggest fan did. Also: Clydesdale dates Betty White, Hungary, Ed Mangan. 

Smirk I: Welcome to 'Suit' Bowl LVIII -- Join host city Atlanta in welcoming Patriots, Rams, lawsuits, anger and a squirming NFL commissioner. Also: Dodgeball, Pizza Hut, haggis.

EdreedPOLL RESULT: REED, GONZALEZ TOP YOUR PICKS FOR CANTON: We asked, "Which of 18 finalists should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?" and gave you up to six votes. The maximum vote for any one player would be 16.7 percent if every voter used all six votes, and you'd multiply any player's total by six for an idea the percent of ballots that included that person. Got all that? Your top six: Safety Ed Reed (pictured) with 17.27%, tight end Tony Gonzalez 15.07%, cornerback Champ Bailey 11.77%, running back Edgerrin James 7.69% and tackle Tony Boselli 6.91%. (Next best were coach Don Coryell 5.34% and receiver Isaac Bruce 5.18%). Applying the 80 percent requirement used in actual Hall of Fame voting, only Reed and Gonzalez were voted into Canton by you all, although Bailey came close.

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

Hotbutton1. NFL: Patriots beat Rams in weird Super Bowl: The Patriots were 2 1/2-point favorites over the Rams as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady attempt to win (what seems like) their 943rd Super Bowl together. It was actually their sixth, 13-3, in an oddly low-scoring, somewhat boring letdown of a game. New England is the team we love to hate. Los Angeles shouldn't even have been there except the officials screwed the Saints. Um, was anybody else rooting for both teams to lose?

2. HEAT: Wade's 'Last Dance' includes All-Star nod: His team is the epitome of mediocrity at 24-27 after three straight losses and eighth in the East entering a six-game road trip starting Tuesday. The good news? Dwyane Wade's farewell season will see him  in the Feb. 17 All-Star Game after Wade and Dirk Nowitzki made as it "special additions" of commissioner Adam Silver. Hi-yo, Silver!

3. HURRICANES: Transfer Portal kings await national signing day: After a bad end to the season, an unexpected coaching change and a lousy early recruiting period, UM football has roared back as this Wednesday's National Signing Day looms. Miami nabbed four of 247sports' top 17 available transfer including Ohio State QB Tate Martell to make what happens Wednesday less urgent than it might have been.

4. NFL HONORS: Ex-Cane Reed makes Canton, Mahomes is MVP: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes won league MVP in a runaway and ex-Hurricane Ed Reed led the new Hall of Fame class at the NFL Honors awards show on Super Bowl eve in Atlanta Saturday night. Joining Reed in Canton: Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey, Ty Law, Johnny Robinson, Kevin Mawae, Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt. Shoulda been picked but denied: Isaac Bruce.

5. PANTHERS: Cats trade Bujgstad, McCann: Florida (21-29 and nine points off playoff pace even with Saturday's win over Vegas) traded forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to Pittsburgh for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and three 2019 draft picks. That's either a white towel waving on this season or a last shot at jolting it to life. We'll see.

6. NBA: Unibrow fined for trade talk as deadline nears: Player movement a hot topic approaching Thursday's NBA trade deadline. Anthony Davis was fined 50K for publicly saying he wanted out of New Orleans. The Knicks dealt Kristaps Porzingis. Kyrie Irving may be moving. And who will LeBron lure to L.A?

7. DOLPHINS: As Flores arrives, Tannehill on way out: Pats assistant Brian Flores will soon be introduced as Miami's next head coach now that his team's season is (finally) ending. Meantime, it was reported the Fins will parts ways with QB Ryan Tannehill. Wait. Is that news? Hearing Miami will part with Tannehill is like hearing your 104-year-old grandpa died. It wasn't if, just when.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men continue freefall: Jim Larranaga's guys, once 5-0, fell to 9-12 overall and 1-8 (ugh) in ACC play with Saturday's 56-46 loss at No. 3 Virginia. At least the No. 23 Canes women are 19-5 after a Sunday home win over Virginia.

9. MARLINS: FanFest ushers in spring in five days: FanFest is this coming Saturday and the start of spring training will soon follow as the Marlins gear for Year 2 of the Derek Jeter era. Meanwhile trading away catcher J.T. Realmuto for prospects (to the Braves, perhaps?) continues to percolate on the hot stove.

10. SKIING: Vonn announces she's retiring: American Lindsay Vonn, 34, said she'll retire after the World Championships in Sweden later this month. She has won 82 World Cup races, second all-time. Also could describe Tiger Woods naked, if she wanted to.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sentences I Never Imagined Writing (one in a series): "Golfer Sergio Garcia was disqualified from an event in Saudi Arabia for intentionally destroying greens ..... Update: Countdown now 2,695 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Most recent non-Smirk columns: Le'Veon wants Dolphins, And Interest Should Be Mutual / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints. Also: This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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