March 16, 2020

Latest Hot Button Top 10: Gee, any wild guess what's No.1?; plus new Greg Cote Show podcast out now!, latest columns on coronavirus and sports and Dolphins' next 6 weeks & more

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 16. My latest Back In My Day video (Flavored Coffee!) premiered this past week on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio. Watch the video here: pic.twitter.com/jEeboy2jSR. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Coronavirus threat engulfs Miami sports, onus on Dolphins GM Grier to own next 6 weeks, Ozzy's Ordinary Man video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Coteshow CoteshowGREG COTE SHOW PODCAST EPISODE 3 OUT NOW!: Our new Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," premiered this month and is out with Episode 3 on Monday morning! You can find 'The Greg Cote Show' on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you do your podding. Or find it directly right here. Please listen and subscribe! Subscribing is totally free and so important to what we're doing in this new project. Our podcast is a variety show, sports and non-sports, 3-0-5 and national, fun and (when absolutely necessary) serious. Watch for Episode 3 on Monday!

Coronavirus threat engulfs Miami sports; onus on Dolphins GM Gier: Our two latest columns: Miami Sports Now Utterly Engulfed By Coronavirus Threat -- But Precaution Is Justified (no paywall!) and It's Dominate Or Bust For Dolphins GM Grier Over Next 6 Weeks. Other most recent columns: Repentant Cheater A-Rod Slams Astros With Lesson On How to Handle Their Own Scandal / Inter Miami Is Market's Sleeping Giant As Home Opener Nears and As NFL Free Agency & Draft Near, All You Need To Know About Dolphins' QB Situation. Also: Beckham, Inter Miami Survive To Finally Reach Opening Week / 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.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MARCH 15-16): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. CORONAVIRUS: The week that took our games away: The coronavirus/COVID-19 was declared an international pandemic and its impact on sports, globally and in the U.S., has been dramatic. No more NBA, NHL or Major League Soccer games for the foreseeable future, and MLB spring training is aborted, with the start of season delayed at least two weeks. In Miami, beyond the Heat, Panthers, Inter Miami and Marlins affected, Miami Open tennis and the NASCAR race in Homestead were canceled, and the Florida Derby will be run with no spectators. Sports can afford to shut down temporarily. Sports couldn't afford not to. 

2. HEAT: Miami clings to fourth in East as hiatus begins: The Heat's record is frozen at 41-24 until the NBA resumes play following this extended coronavirus-caused timeout.

3. INTER MIAMI: MLS hiatus postpones first home opener: It was to have been Saturday. It will still happen ... someday.  

4. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: No March Madness, no brackets for you: The NCAA Tournaments, men and women, were canceled after initially intending to play, but with no fans present.

5. NFL: Free agency begins Monday for Dolphins, new CBS approved: Football free agency is about all that's left of sports as leagues and major events cancel due to the coronavirus. And Miami, with more than $90 million to spend and a slew of needs, figures as a major player in the coming weeks. Also, players have approved the new collective bargaining agreement, meaning a 17-game regular season is coming as soon as 2021.

6. PANTHERS: Cats' playoff hunting as season pauses: Florida's record of 35-34 after two straight wins is frozen by the coronavirus-caused suspension of play, with Cats three points off playoff pace.

7. MARLINS: Pool gone, but Fish continue spring splash: Miami's encouraging spring ends with a 12-6-1 record as MLB aborts the rest of exhibition play, and delays the start of the regular season at least two weeks. But will the eventual Opening Day include fans?

8. SOCCER: U.S. women win SheBelieves Cup: The World Cup champion USWNT defeated Japan 3-1 to emphatically win the SheBleieves Cup, which snuck in before the coronavirus bans. The team continues to show it merits equal pay with the U.S. men ... if not better pay.

9. CANES HOOPS: UM men, women end mediocre seasons badly: Even if there was a Selection Sunday today and an NCAA Tournament following, neither UM team would have made it. The Miami women's team, once 9-3 and ranked, ended a .500 season with a disappointing one-and-done performance in the ACC Tournament, losing its opener to lower-seeded Clemson. Canes men ended one game under .500, also with an opening ouster in the conference tourney.

10. TENNIS/AUTO RACING: Miami Open, Homestead race wiped out: The Miami Open's second year at Hard Rock Stadium was to begin its two-week run on March 23. Won't happen. See ya next year. The scheduled March 22 NASCAR race at Homestead-Miami Speedway won't happen, either. They're saying "postponed," not canceled, but no makeup date has been revealed.  

Missing the HB10 cut: Shameless Plug Alert: Episode 3 of the Greg Cote Show podcast is out Monday morning! ..... UM ceased spring sports due to the coronavirus threat, notably including spring football and baseball ..... The XFL also suspended play. But will anyone notice? ..... Keep booing the Astros, please. Even when they're not playing ..... Update: Countdown now 2,296 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

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 / 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 @gregcoteAnd check and our new Greg Cote Show podcast HERE and subscribe!

March 10, 2020

Pressure on Dolphins GM Grier to own next 6 weeks. New column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 as Inter Miami, Heat, Luongo jockey for top spot; also Greg Cote Show Episode 2 podcast is out now, Radio Tuesday & more

1) It's TUESDAY, MARCH 10. Happy International Women's day! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Premiere Week for new Greg Cote podcast. repentant cheater A-Rod blasts Astros, Inter Miami poised to quake sports landscape & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Tuesday: Back in-studio today on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz. Airs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. nationally on ESPN Radio and local affiliates including 560 in Miami, and on ESPNews. Also look for a local-only hour linked from show's social media platforms.

CoteshowCoteshowGREG COTE SHOW PODCAST EPISODE 2 NOW OUT!: Our new Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," premiered last Monday and is out with Episode 2 today. You can find it by searching 'Greg Cote Show' on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you do your podding. Or find it directly right here. Please listen and subscribe! Subscribing is totally free and so important to what we're doing in this new project. Our podcast is a variety show, sports and non-sports, 3-0-5 and national, fun and (when absolutely necessary) serious. Check out Episode 2 now!

GrierWITH MONEY AND PICKS GALORE, PRESSURE ON DOLPHINS GM GRIER TO WIN NEXT 6 WEEKS. NEW COLUMN: For the Miami Dolphins the next six weeks will shape a forlorn franchise’s immediate and long-term future. But the coming free agency period and NFL Draft will not be about any one player as much as it will be an overall referendum on general manager Chris Grier, the man out front in roster decisions. (He is pictured with coach Brian Flores). This begins Grier's fifth season as GM and third with say over personnel, and he begins the biggest month-plus of his professional life. It will dramatically and quickly turn the Dolphins competitive, or be a seismic disappointment. The question: Are Grier and his braintrust including owner Stephen Ross and coach Brian Flores -- up to the challenge. Miami has hit the lottery in terms of available spending money and draft picks. That means Grier and Co. have every opportunity and no excuse to fail. For our full latest column, please visit It's Dominate Or Bust For Dolphins GM Grier Over Next 6 Weeks.

Our most recent columns: Repentant Cheater A-Rod Slams Astros With Lesson On How to Handle Their Own Scandal / Inter Miami Is Market's Sleeping Giant As Home Opener Nears and As NFL Free Agency & Draft Near, All You Need To Know About Dolphins' QB Situation. Also: Beckham, Inter Miami Survive To Finally Reach Opening Week / 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.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MARCH 8-9): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. INTER MIAMI: New team falls again; home opener in 6 days: lAfterlosing 1-0 at Los Angeles FC, Inter Miami dropped a tough-luck 2-1 verdict Saturday at D.C. United. Now comes the long-awaited maiden home opener, Saturday March 14 vs. David Beckham's old L.A. Galaxy squad, in the new stadium on the hallowed ground of the old Lockhart in Fort Lauderdale.

2. HEAT: Win over Bucks defines Miami's upside: Miami is 41-23 and fourth in the East and had won four straight -- including an exhilarating 105-89 win over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the mighty Milwaukee Bucks -- before falling Friday at New Orleans. Heat rebounded to win at Washington Sunday, but it was that Bucks win that raised the bar on their playoff potential. 

3. PANTHERS: Cats finally end home skid as Luongo honored: The Cats retired Roberto Luongo's No. 1 jersey in a ceremony Saturday for the retired goaltender, then whipped Montreal 4-1 to end a record eight-game home losing streak. Before Saturday Florida had been in a 4-12 slump since February 4. Panthers are back on the edge of playoff pace entering Monday's test at St. Louis.

4. CANES HOOPS: UM women gag in ACCs; can the men do better?: The Miami women's team, once 9-3 and ranked, ended a .500 season with a disappointing one-and-done performance in the ACC Tournament, losing its opener to lower-seeded Clemson. An NCAA Tournament bid should not be expected. The Canes men, also .500 after Saturday's win over Syracuse, will need a big showing in the ACCs this week for any prayer of an NCAA invite.

5. DOLPHINS: QB Fitzpatrick endorses new CBA: NFL players have until this Thursday to vote on the league's new collective bargaining agreement that would increase regular season games by one, to 17, and Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick became one of the most prominent players to say he was on board. The vote requires a simple majority to pass. The onset of free agency soon follows. Will Miami be a spender?

6. MARLINS: Pool gone, but Fish continue spring splash: Miami is 10-5-1 this spring after Sunday's loss to St. Louis in Jupiter. Meantime the team announced the Clevelander nightclub and swimming pool beyond the left field wall won't be back at Marlins Park for the 2020 season. "Oh darn!" I said facetiously.

7. NBA: Curry makes long-awaited return for Warriors: Steph Curry returned from a four-month injury absence to score 23 for the Warriors Thursday night, albeit way, way too late to rescue or save Golden State's lost season.

8. SOCCER: U.S. women beat England, then Spain: The World Cup champion USWNT is back in action in the SheBleieves Cup, opening with a 2-0 dispatch of England in Orlando, and then on Sunday beating Spain 1-nil in a tougher test in Harrison, N.J.        

9. TENNIS: Miami Open and stellar field getting close: The Miami Open's second year at Hard Rock Stadium begins its two-week run on March 23, with a terrific field including 18 players who have won a combined 80 Grand Slam titles. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams lead the way.  

10. HURRICANES: Spring football practice takes a break: UM is four practices into spring work and now the team is off all this coming week, returning to the field next Sunday. The idea of practicing in March has always struck us as a waste of time and money and something college football should consider eliminating, although coach Manny Diaz might vigorously disagree.

Missing the HB10 cut: Shameless plug: Episode 2 of the new Greg Cote podcast drops this Monday ..... ESPN wants to sign Peyton Manning and trade with NBC Sports for Al Michaels to form a Monday Night Football super-booth. You go, Mickey Mouse! ..... Spike Lee, how about you enter Madison Square Garden like a normal human being and quit whining when you don't get pampered with preferential treatment ..... Countdown 14 days until the race that debuts Homestead's new earlier spot on the NASCAR calendar ..... Keep booing the Astros, please ..... Is the XFL still playing games? ..... Honda Classic is moving a few weeks later on the golf calendar to try to get a stronger field. It couldn't hurt ..... Update: Countdown now 2,303 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

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. And check and our new Greg Cote Show podcast and subscribe!

March 02, 2020

New podcast, The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote, debuts today. Episode 1 out now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10: See who's No. 1 and what else lands where; also, Dolphins' QB future, Beckham & Inter Miami & more

Coteshow1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 2. Happy new month, aal! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Troika of Marlins-arrive spring columns, Dwyane Wade Weekend, my planking video & more. 2) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MARCH 1-2): 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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. INTER MIAMI: Six years later, finally Opening Day for new MLS team!: David Beckham's dream since February 2014 turns to reality at last today/Sunday as Inter Miami visit Los Angeles FC in its Major League Soccer debut. Miami plays following weekend at D.C. United before making home debut March 14 vs. L.A. Galaxy in its temporary new stadium at the old Lockhart site. Welcome, Inter Miami Lauderdale!

2. HEAT: Miami still seeking answers as Bucks visit: Miami was riding high at 24-8 on Dec. 28 as one of the NBA's big surprises. The Heat since is 14-14 and now hanging onto fourth place in the East, although after two straight wins put 'em 38-22. Heat host NBA-leading Milwaukee and the Greek Freak on Monday.

3. HURRICANES: Spring football practice underway: Coach Manny Diaz and crew gather and gear up this weekend for their first spring practice on Monday. (Spring football is a royal waste of money and student-athletes' time, but that's another story). After a 6-7 season that ended awfully, Diaz has a new offensive coordinator (Rhett Lashlee), a new starting QB (D'Eriq King) and new "chief of staff" (Ed Reed). Not new, but grown: The pressure on Diaz to win. Big.

4. DOLPHINS: NFL Scouting Combine wraps up Monday: The NFL's nine-day pre-draft cattle call of a talent show ends Monday in Indianapolis, where 32 teams including the Dolphins have analyzed and interviewed top prospects in the April draft. Notably absent: Alabama QB Tua Tagovailao, who expects to gain medical clearance from his hip injury on March 9 and showcase himself in individual workouts.

5. PANTHERS: Slumping Cats seek to claw back into playoff race: Florida is 5-11 since Feb. 1 after Saturday's home loss to Chicago, and has fallen five points off NHL playoff pace as it hosts Calgary today. Cats' growing desperation showed in trade-deadline deals, but losing Vincent Trocheck without adding much defensive help didn't make a lot of sense.

6. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Marlins Park lands starring role in 2021 WBC: It was announced Marlins Park would host group play, the quarterfinals and the 2021 championship round next March 21-23 in the fifth iteration of the 20-team international World Baseball Classic. That's nice. Even better? The Marlins hosting games in another World Series.

7. MARLINS: Wow! Fish begin spring training a perfect 6-0: Miami, beginning Year 3 of the Derek Jeter era, was MLB's last unbeaten team this spring at 6-0 before finally losing two in a row. Quick thought: Save some of that winning for April and beyond, Fish! 

8. GOLF: Honda Classic crowns champ in Palm Beach: The Honda Classic, South Florida's only PGA Tour event ever since the tour fled Doral, ends Sunday at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens with Tommy Fleetwood narrowly out front. However, since Tiger Woods isn't in it, we don't much care.

9. CANES HOOPS: UM teams wrap up disappointing regular seasons: Canes women once were 9-3 and ranked but are 14-14 (6-11 ACC) entering Sunday's regular season finale vs. Pitt. Miami men also started 9-3 but also 14-14 (6-12 conference) after Saturday's loss at Georgia Tech, with two games left in regular season. Both will need big showing in ACC Tournament to bolster extremely shaky postseason hopes. 

10. GREG COTE: Hey, that's me! I have a new podcast!: It's my Hot Button Top 10 so I get to include myself. Please check out my new Miami Herald podcast, which debuts this Monday. Podcasting will never be the same. It'll probably be just a little bit worse.

Missing the HB10 cut: Roger Federer ruled himself out of the upcoming French Open following knee surgery, while Maria Sharapova announced her retirement at 32. Maria's career epitaph: Yeah, But She Couldn't Beat Serena ..... Give Deontay Wilder the championship belt in excuse-making after blaming loss to Tyson Fury on weary legs from wearing that 45-pound costume into the ring ..... Sign of the times: Kobe Bryant's widow files wrongful death suit on the day of his L.A. memorial ..... Early season. Close games. Whatever. No excuses. You don't get swept at home by Florida, Canes baseball ..... Has the Dwyane Wade "L3Gacy Celebration" ended yet or are there yet more events? ..... Keep booing the Astros, please ..... Only three weeks until NASCAR's Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead. Hmm. Should a bunch of guys driving 180 mph in heavy traffic be sponsored by vodka? ..... Are XFL player paychecks bouncing yet? ..... NBCSN had a 40th anniversary special on the Miracle On Ice. The best tires ever made have not gotten as much mileage as Al Michaels has over that call ..... There was a Monster Jam thing for trucks with absurdly big tires at Marlins Park. Get your redneck on! ..... Great work by the Dolphins organization as always on its Dolphins Cancer Challenge fundraiser ..... Update: Countdown now 2,310 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

2qbsNO BRADY, NO DARKHORSE, NO SURPRISE. THE DOLPHINS' NEXT QB WILL BE 1 OF 2 GUYSThe overanalysis of the quarterback position found its new benchmark this week with the news likely overall No. 1 draft pick Joe Burrow has a 9-inch hand, which evidently was cause for great alarm if not not outright ridicule. Burrow gave the span from the outstretched tips of his pinkie and thumb the gravity it deserved on Twitter, writing, "Considering retirement after I was informed the football will be slipping out of my tiny hands. Please keep me in your thoughts." (In the spirit of transparency my own hand span turns out to be 8 7/8 inches, which I find sufficient for primary tasks such as traversing a laptop keyboard and gripping a Whopper). At the predraft NFL Scouting Combine going on in Indianapolis all sorts of measurements are being taken including those gauging intelligence. That’s the Wonderlic test, which grades you from a low of 10 to a high of 50. This score is seen as especially important at quarterback, where a Wonderlic number that looks like a shoe size sends up even more alarms than a 9-inch hand. This most fascinating offseason for the quarterback spot must be divided into two divisions: Junior Division, for college players and the April 23-25 draft. And Senior Division, for current NFL stars entering free agency, which officially begins March 18. The myopic view from Miami is that all that matters is whether the Dolphins, QB-desperate and drafting fifth overall, will land Tua Tagovailoa or have to settle for Justin Herbert. (They are pictured). The bigger story nationally is that Tom Brady, a pending free agent for the first time in his historic career, reportedly might actually leave New England and play elsewhere — which also is of particularly keen interest in Miami, of course. We dive into both divisions of the QB offseason, sift through all the speculation and determine who'll end up with Miami. For that full latest column, please visit As NFL Free Agency & Draft Near, All You Need To Know About Dolphins' QB Situation.

BeckhamAFTER DELAYS, DISPLACEMENT AND DISAPPOINTMENT, STILL A TRIUMPH OF PERSEVERANCE FOR BECKHAM, INTER MIAMI: Came the word Inter Miami’s main sponsor might be Qatar Airways and the gut reaction was, "Of course, it would be." Nothing has been smooth or simple in this six-year odyssey — emphasis on odd — to finally realize Major League Soccer in South Florida, so why on earth would we expect this finishing touch, the name on the front of the jersey, to be benign and controversy-free? That would make too much sense. So instead, though no final deal is announced, there have been reports (and leaked photos) indicating David Beckham’s Inter Miami has negotiated a $234 million arrangement to proudly wear the name Qatar. Although "proudly" might not quite be the proper word considering the airline is state owned, and Qatar is a place where the government has severed ties with Israel and is considered hostile to Jews, and where one can be jailed for the crime of being in a same-sex relationship. Strange how money can sometimes make the human rights violations a bit easier to ignore. Works for the NBA doing business in China. Worked for the Miami Heat owner sending his Carnival cruise ships to Cuba. Now it appears OK with Inter Miami and Qatar. It figured though. For six years this has been a persevering, uphill climb for Beckham and associates, one wrought with missteps and misfortune. The games arrive as a a respite, a break. Inter Miami’s historic inaugural game is Sunday at Los Angeles FC. Miami plays the following Saturday at D.C. United, then has its first home game on March 14 at the new stadium at the old Lockhart Stadium site, vs. the L.A. Galaxy — Beckham’s old team and a league power. (Pictured right to left: Beckham, majority owner Jorge Mas and goalkeeper Luis Robles). For our full recent column, on Inter Miami's long journey to Opening Week, please visit Beckham, Inter Miami Survive To Finally Reach Opening Week.

Other most recent columns: Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent'Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In LoveWhy 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 17, 2020

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

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

Our most recent columns:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 10, 2020

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

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

Our most recent columns:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 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 27, 2020

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

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

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

 

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

Previously from our Rampaging Torrent of Super Bowl Coverage:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 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.

December 24, 2019

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

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

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

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

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote