September 18, 2019

Worst team ever? Here comes the national mocking of Dolphins. Latest column (including Minkah Fitzpatrick trade); plus our weekend in New York City, Herald Week 2 NFL QB Rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 2 results & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 18. Scroll to previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter polls. 2) Coming later today: Our NFL Week 3 Thursday night pick for Titans-Jaguars. 3) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes clobber Bethune with CSM poll, Dolphins crushed by Pats with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, handicapping ex-Canes, Fins on 2020 Hall ballot, R.I.P. Ric Ocasek & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Herald Week 2 NFL QB Rankings: There's a new overall No. 1 for the season. Who it is should surprise nobody. Visit Herald Week 2 NFL QB Rankings.

DOLPHINS: WORST MIAMI TEAM EVER? NATIONAL PUNCHLINE COMING. MY NEWEST COLUMNWhen the losing is this bad, the mocking follows. And that can be worse. It kicks you when you’re way down. It laughs at your pain. Belittles your pride. The Miami Dolphins are getting it already, two games in. The booing, the paper bags over heads, the Tanking Army among your owns fans Saddolsdelighting in the defeat — that isn’t even the worst of it. Becoming a national joke is. Sunday on Fox Sports’ NFL show, Cooper Manning (inexplicably) has a segment. This week the older brother of Peyton and Eli was doing a bit with two Ravens players. Cooper mentioned that Seahawks and Dolphins weren’t real animals, the setup line. One of the Ravens then said, "Dolphins are real." [Short pause] "Their team isn’t!" Cooper delivered the punchline as funny music ended the segment. Soon the Dolphins’ epic terribleness will reach the late-night monologues and be fodder. I happen to be buddies with someone connected to the "Saturday Night Live" writing staff gearing for the Sept. 28 startup of its new season. I asked whether the Dolphins’ woes might make the Weekend Update segment. "On the radar," he texted back. "Just need them to keep being awful." Never on a football field, a basketball court, a baseball diamond or a sheet of ice has South Florida seen a professional sports team this bad. The use of the phrase "professional" team feels dubious, although, technically, this is one. The Dolphins have lost 59-10 and 43-0 — the worst start by any team in the NFL’s 100 seasons — and yet, with no remorse evident, players get paid, anyway. Beleaguered rookie coach Brian Flores, handed a depleted team with an eye on the future, not now, can only put his head down and shoulder on. "We come in, we make corrections and we move on," he said Monday afternoon at camp. Then, as if firing a preemptive strike against reports of unrest and some players wanting out: "We don’t point fingers," he volunteered. "We don’t make excuses. There’s a room full of guys who aren’t doing that." When I say Flores’ Fins are our worst Miami team ever, that covers 137 combined seasons of Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers, and a fair share of losing. For the full column -- updated to include last night's trade of Minkah Fitzpatrick to Pittsburgh for a first round draft pick -- visit Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke.

Other most recent work: Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Also: It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy / Herald Week 1 QB Rankings / The Dolphins aren't awful. They're worse than that (game column from opening loss).

Picks LoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 2: NFL picks--Improved. Bounced back a rough start with a solid 11-5 mark overall and 8-8 against the point spread. LeBatard Show fantasy--Yes! Greg's Lobos crushed Mina Kimes 140-96.9 to go to 1-1, led by Patrick Mahomes' 39.6 points and and unexpected 22-and-change from Vance McDonald and Tyler Boyd. Friends n' family fantasy--Ouch. Lobos fell to 1-1 with a 128-114 loss. Led into Monday behind a combined 50 from RBs Dalvin Cook and Saquon Barkley, but got buried on MNF by 49 combined from my opponent's Odell Beckham Jr. and Le'Veon Bell.

Brandimsg MockingbirdMY WEEKEND IN NEW YORK CITY: Wife and I spent a long weekend in New York City that was splendid for three main reasons: 1) Saw "To Kill A Mockingbird" Friday night on Broadway at the Shubert Theater; 2) saw Brandi Carlile and Mavis Staples on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden; and 3) lucked to be able to miss Sunday's 43-0 Dolphins home loss to New England. Not sure which would qualify as the highlight, although the first two were hard to beat. "Mockingbird" was everything I thought it would be and more, which A-list performances especially from Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch and Celia Keenan-Bolger in a Tony Award-winning turn as his daughter Scout. It didn't hurt that we had front-row seats and were six feet from where Daniels/Finch sat onstage during courtroom scenes. Catch this play when in NYC if you can. Highly recommended. As for the concert? Well I have been a Mavis fan since the Staple Singers in the '70s and an admirer of her activism and her heart my whole life. Brandi Carlile came into my life like an epiphany just this year, and with such impact I goaded my wife into this trip mainly to see that twin-bill with Mavis opening at a sold-out MSG. It did not disappoint. An emotionally moving concert. Mavis is a national treasure still going strong at 80. Discover Brandi if you have not already, and thank me later.

Other select recent columns: Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / 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 / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

September 11, 2019

Yes Dolphins are tanking, and yes they should. New column; plus can Fins save Shula's legacy?, Bucs-Panthers Thursday pick, 9/11 #NeverForget, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 1 results, Herald Week 1 QB Rankings & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11. The season-opening Dolfan Satisfaction Meter result is in, with a low (but interesting) total. Scroll down to the blogpost immediately below for details. 2) It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed by Baltimore in opener with DSM poll, final CSM results, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

911
IT WAS 18 YEARS AGO TODAY. #NEVERFORGET

 

Our Bucs-Panthers Week 2 Thursday pick: Jameis Winston at Cam Newton. And the winner is... visit Week 2 Thursday Gem to find out who, and why.

My column from Dolphins' 59-10 opening loss: It was not as brutal as the score suggests. It was more so. Welcome to the weirdest season, where being really, really bad can be really, really good. For my column from the stadium, visit The Dolphins aren't awful. They're worse than that.

MIAMI HERALD WEEK 1 NFL QB RANKINGS: Out now! Who's No. 1? Is Ryan Fitzpatrick so far down we need a pickaxe and a flashlight to find him? Visit Herald Week 1 QB Rankings.

DoltankQUIT WHINING! DOLPHINS TANKING IS BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO THIS FRANCHISE IN 20 YEARS. NEW COLUMN: The hysteria surrounding the Miami Dolphins as they climb out from under the avalanche of the season opener and await the tsunami of Game 2 is quite unlike anything we have seen down here. I’m not sure whether to laugh out loud or simply shake my head in incredulity. The Dolphins are really bad, OK? A natural disaster. Deal with it. Except nobody seems to be dealing with it very well. Too many fans are acting like they didn;t see this coming. Too many Dolphins players (based on reports) are crying to their agents about wanting out. Fans and players alike need to understand that Miami's overt tanking -- whether they want to admit it publicly or not -- is the best, boldest, most foresightful thing this franchise has done in 20 years. It is pain now for better days ahead. I explore all of this in my latest column. Please visit Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should.

DonbillDEFENDING SHULA'S LEGACY AGAINST THE BELICHICK ONSLAUGHT: This is the historical subtext as the Dolphins and Patriots prepare this week to meet again Sunday in Miami. From a micro view the matchup is about Fins coach Brian Flores facing his former team, about how bad the rebuilding Dolphins are after losing their opener to Baltimore 59-10 and about this season’s impact on the 2020 draft. But the emotional heft of Dolphins-Patriots is in the broader view. The only way for Miami to protect Don Shula’s all-time NFL career wins record and legacy will be to see this arduous rebuild flourish and finally end the Patriots’ reign. Not Sunday. But someday. And soon. The Dolphins must find their long-elusive quarterback and start to win again, at the Patriots' expense. That is all that can stop Belichick, who at this pace could surpass Shula's hallowed mark as soon as 2023. I explore all of this in my recent column. To read it, please visit It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy. (Shula and Belichick are pictured circa 1992-93, as Shula zeroed in on the all-time wins record and a few years before Belichick would take over the Patriots and begin his methodical march toward The Don's record).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 1: NFL picks--Rough start. After a record-setting season last year, we opened Week 1 at 8-7-1 overall and 6-10 against the spread. Early days. LeBatard Show fantasy--Ouch. Greg's Lobos led entering Monday night behind Patrick Mahomes' 33 points but fell to Stugotz, 114-88. Friends n' family fantasy--Better. Lobos coasted to 128-83 rout led by Deshaun Watson's 30.

LousabanOH MY! THE RARITY OF CANES, FINS' EARLY STRUGGLES: The Hurricanes have begun the football season 0-2 and the Dolphins 0-1. So what, you say? It's actually a pretty big deal historically. Or a pretty rare deal, at least. The last time it happened was 1978, which was the last time the Canes started 0-2 and the Dolphins also lost their opener that season. And it happened only one other time, in 1975. So that's two instances of 0-2 UM/0-1 Dolphins in the 54 seasons since the Dolphins were born. An anomaly, but one I found notable. (Pictured: Canes coach Lou Saban, in 1978. Click on image to see larger version).

Our most recent other columns: Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / 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.

Select other recent columns: Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins / Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QB / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

September 07, 2019

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 15.7%. Approval plummets with 28-25 loss at North Carolina in ACC opener. Vote now!; plus our NFL Week 1 picks, your verdict on my fantasy team, Le Batard Show fantasy draft & more

1) It's SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins trade Tunsil in blockbuster deal, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 15.7%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 15.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday night's 28-25 loss at North Carolina in Miami's ACC opener, putting UM's season record at 0-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. You may vote here in the blog, elsewhere online, and also at Twitter.com/gregcote (where the approval was 18%). Online/blog voting determine the weekly verdict, which is announced here the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2019 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 64.1% following 24-20 loss vs. Florida in Orlando.

G2: 15.7% following 28-25 loss at North Carolina.

Next poll: Sept. 14 following game vs. Bethune-Cookman.

UmuncG2: HURRICANES @ NORTH CAROLINA: PRESSURE ON CANES TO SEAL ROAD WIN IN ACC OPENER: It's one thing to fall narrowly to a top-10 Florida in a a neutral-site opener. It would be quite another to be a road favorite at North Carolina in your ACC opener and lose again. Losing to the Gators stung, but Mdiazlosing this one would make it feel like a season of high hopes had gone completely off the rails two games in. That is why more pressure is on Miami now than there was in the ballyhooed opener. That makes tonight/Saturday at 8 in Chapel Hill as close to a must-win as you could want in early September, especially for coach Manny Diaz and quarterback Jarren Williams. The Canes in general must look sharper, readier, after slopping through 14 penalties for 118 yards against UF and allowing 10 sacks. The betting line opened with Miami favored by 6 points but dove to 3 1/2 before settling back up at 5, the movement indicative of a betting public still unsure what to make of the Canes. UM crushed UNC 47-10 last year in the midst of a 2-9 Tar Heels season. This won't be as easy, with ESPN's Football Power Index putting Miami's win-likelihood at a modest 63.1 percent. I like UM tonight without much reservation. Coming off a bye after the early Aug. 24 opener, The U should ride defensive domination to a comfy if not quite rout-y win. Interesting side note: Mack Brown begins his second coaching stint with the Heels. He's best known as the Texas head coach in 1998-2013, where one of his proteges was defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Diaz worked under Brown three seasons before being abruptly fired in '13. That checks one more box for why Diaz wants this win like a big dog wants that meaty bone. Diaz is pictured left using index fingers to signal the won-lost record Miami absolutely must have coming out of this game. Cote's pick: Hurricanes 27, North Carolina 16.

Picks RavenIT'S UPSET BIRD WEEK IN AMERICA! OUR NFL WEEK 1 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season, we begin our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald by today revealing our 2019 Week 1 selections for Dolphins-Ravens, Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and all the rest. Could Miami actually be among my three big upset picks? To find out please visit Week 1 Gems. Our picks appear Thursday afternoons every week, and Fridays in print. (Our Thursday Night Football pick appears Wednesdays online and Thursdays in print. Visit Week 1 Thursday Gem for last night's Packers-Bears pick, a misfire by us, alas). We are inexplicably coming off our best season ever, with a .705 winning percentage overall last year and .582 against the point spread. Pictured: Our "How the Darts Landed" picks logo, and a charcoal rendering of the Upset Bird, the mysterious, never-photographed Corvus corax who serves as our prognosticatory sidekick and seer on all upset picks. 

Our most recent columns: Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / 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.

FANTASY VOTES ARE IN AND YOU LOVED MY TEAM MOST! (NO, SERIOUSLY): Had our PFPI Fantasy friends 'n family league draft earlier this week, a 10-team PPR league that had a snake draft. The exact order was shown in a blind poll, and we invited you to vote which team you would most like to have based on each team's first five picks. Almost 800 votes had been cast when we closed it off this morning. Your results, with each team's first pick shown:

FfTeam 1: Saquon Barkley -- 25.91%. That's my team! Thanks for the support. Hope y'all are right!

Team 7: DeAndre Hopkins -- 16.84%. That's Michael, my youngest son.

Team 3: Alvin Kamara -- 13.73%. That's Brandon, a friend.

Team 4: Ezekiel Elliott -- 9.46%. That's Alex, a friend. (This vote total spiked after Zeke finally signed).

Team 2: Christian McCaffrey -- 8.94%. That's Joe, a nephew.

Team 9: David Johnson -- 6.61%. That's Earleen, my wife. Tied with below.

Team 10: Patrick Mahomes -- 6.61%. That's Dick, my brother. Tied with above.

Team 5: Tyreek Hill -- 5.05%. That's Christopher, my oldest son, from the Le Batard Show. Ouch.

Team 8: Travis Kelce -- 4.66%. That's Christie, my daughter-in-law, Chris' wife.

Team 6: Le'Veon Bell -- 2.20%. That's Cori, Christie's sister. Sorry, Cori. Exceed expectations!

GlobosLe Batard Show draft: We had our Le Batard Show "League of Lobos" draft last evening and it was a clusterf---, to be honest. There are too many teams (18), too many fraud-teams were auto-drafting, and inexplicably the draft order changed minutes before the draft, with me dropping from the 11th pick to the 16th. I got Patrick Mahomes 16th and Mike Evans after that, but this season could be a struggle. We'll have weekly updates on-air and in this space, so stay tuned. #WeAreTheLobos

Select other recent columns: Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins / Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QB / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

August 31, 2019

Giving up Tunsil in trade would be huge risk for Dolphins, Flores. Latest column; plus why Clowney could be missing piece for Fins (but not for Tunsil!), Andrew Luck deserves praise for retirement call & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, AUGUST 31. Farewell, August, month that brings us football. Thank you for blowing Hurricane Dorian away from South Florida. 2) It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes fall to Gators with CSM poll result, Hot Button Top 10, why Rosen must start at QB for Dolphins, your Fitzpatrick-Rosen poll verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

NEW! DOLPHINS AND HURRICANES PREVIEW SECTION COLUMNS:

Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land: Our 2019 NFL Team Rankings.

Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years: Mining UM history for perspective on a bold decision. 

TunsilFLORES USED TO TUMULT, BUT DOLPHINS TRADING TUNSIL WOULD BE TOO MUCH: Brian Flores’ introduction to NFL head coaching has included losing a defensive tackle to an amputated arm after a truck accident; abruptly firing his offensive line coach in the middle of training camp; enduring the fallout of the club owner’s fundraiser for Donald Trump; and guiding what is expected to be the worst team in the NFL. Now, as exhibition games cede to the regular season, Flores has made the wrong choice for a starting quarterback and put the mind-set of his locker room at risk amid corrosive speculation about the future of stalwart left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Coaches have had smoother preseasons. The upside: If you believe that stuff about baptism by fire, consider Mr. Flores fully baptized. And now the hard work begins. And the hard decision, too. Choosing Ryan Fitzpatrick over Josh Rosen was easy. Low risk. But choosing whether to include Tunsil in a trade for Texans pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney? High risk. Huge stakes. And Flores’ grip on his team in the balance. The Tunsil/Clowney cloud hovers as everything begins for real, with Tunsil pictured. To read my full most recent column, please visit Tunsil/Clowney Trade Would Be Powderkeg for Dolphins, Flores.

DOLPHINS' GRAND PLAN BECOMING CLEAR. AND CLOWNEY WOULD FITA football fan need not dive deep down the rabbit hole of analytics to know the simple truth about any NFL roster. JclowneyFour positions are paramount. Essential. They are: Quarterback, a fearsome pass rusher, a lockdown cornerback and a premier left tackle. Start with QB and place the others in any order you wish. The Miami Dolphins’ understanding of this at last has come clear. Say this much: After most of 20 years of floundering irrelevance and lurching shifts in personnel and philosophy, the franchise’s current regime at least has a plan. A clue. It is why Miami gave shutdown corner Xavien Howard, who just turned 26, a record five-year, $75.3 million contract extension through 2024. It is why left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who just turned 25, is off the board, untouchable, in terms of trade inquiries, and why his contract (still dirt-cheap on his rookie deal) surely will be extended before he becomes a free agent following the 2020 season. It is why the Dolphins presently are looking hard into a trade for disgruntled Texans pass-rush star Jadeveon Clowney, 26, and more proven-elite than even Howard or Tunsil. And it is why Miami has stocked draft capital in a hell-bent plan to claim its long elusive star quarterback in 2020, buying up into the draft order if needed, ideally to get grand prize Tua Tagovailao of Alabama. To read my entire recent column, with an emphasis on the interest in Clowney (pictured), please visit Clowney Would Be Missing Piece in Dolphins' Emerging Plan.

SAVE THE SCORN. ANDREW LUCK DESERVES PRAISE FOR HIS RETIREMENT CALLIndianapolis Colts football fans will wish they could take this back, but they cannot. It was too late the Luckmoment it happened. It stained a city in a way that can’t ever quite be scrubbed clean. Only in an age driven by the immediacy of social media could this have happened. It was during Saturday night’s Colts home preseason game. Star quarterback Andrew Luck had planned to announce the next day that he was retiring. That night, not playing, he was on the sideline enjoying himself with teammates for what would be the last time. Then the news broke during the game, and it spread faster than any wildfire. It was trending on Twitter in seconds. It was caroming throughout the stadium. When the game ended and Luck walked off the field in street clothes the fans who loved him an hour before booed him. Loudly. "I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hear it," he said, forced to make his announcement that night. "It hurt." And there you have the perfect epitaph to an NFL career cut short by choice: It hurt. That is what this sport does to a body and a mind. It hurts. It leaves scars. It makes men in their 30s limp. It leaves hands gnarled and misshapen. It cuts short lives, and sometimes makes the end of those lives torturous. Congratulations to Luck for getting out when he could, on his terms. For understanding there is more to life than football. To read my entire recent column, please visit Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football.

Previous most recent other columns: Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins / Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QBDolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / and Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field.

Select other recent columns: Don't Overthink It, Dolphins. Start Rosen / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

August 16, 2019

Why Canes took bold gamble with Jarren Williams at QB. New column; plus Trump fundraiser causing major fallout for Dolphins' owner Ross, latest 'Back In My Day' video (Fake Candles!) & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, AUGUST 16. Back from our glorious vacation! Nine days in New Mexico, Arizona and California. More on that to come, inevitably. 2) Look for the return of the Hot Button Top 10 this coming Sunday after a two-week hiatus. 3) It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): I'm outta here! Off on vacation & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

WHY CANES TOOK THE BOLD (BUT SMART) GAMBLE ON JARREN WILLIAMS AT QB: Manny Diaz said the other day that the biggest signing in his first months as Miami Hurricanes head coach Jwmswas not a player, not anybody who would be in uniform on the football field. "The best recruit we signed was Dan Enos," he said. We saw why this week as UM stunned most folks by awarding its starting quarterback job to Jarren Williams (pictured). It was a reminder of the essential importance of a head coach having a lieutenant who can be relied upon to lend an experienced, trusted voice. The Hurricanes’ offense was mired in the bog of bad quarterbacking last season in the combination of Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry. A strong defense was wasted in the 7-6 season. Yet the highly recruited Williams was invisible at a time when his spark might have turned a season around. He couldn’t get in a game. (Well, OK, he got in one. Played garbage time against cupcake Savannah State, going 1 for 3 for 17 yards). Why? Because then-coach Mark Richt was too busy waffling between Rosier and Perry to notice Williams’ talent or grow it. And Richt had nobody on his staff to either champion Williams or tell the head coach he was wrong to not give him a shot. Richt’s quarterback coach last season? His oldest son, Jon. The missteps at quarterback that collapsed the 2018 season led to Richt’s abrupt resignation, Diaz’s return to The U from a brief few weeks at Temple — and to Enos. Diaz’s first major decision upon his return to UM was to understand he’s a rookie head coach versed in defense, and needed to hit big on the offensive coordinator. Plenty of coaches’ egos wouldn’t allow that concession. Enos was hired off Nick Saban’s Alabama staff, where he ran the offense, coached the QBs and helped developed Tua Tagovailoa (the Dolphins’ dream get in 2020) and Jalen Hurts. That is hitting big. And that is why Williams will be the Canes’ starting quarterback in the Aug. 24 opener vs. rival Florida in Orlando — even though Williams was not the easiest, safest, most experienced or most expected choice. I explain how and why that came to be in my latest column. To read, kindly visit Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QB

RosstrumpDOLPHINS' ROSS GAMBLED HE COULD HAVE IT BOTH WAYS -- AND LOST BIG: Those of us with lighter wallets can only imagine that when one is wealthy enough to have it all, that luxury might come with a sense of entitlement. Of expecting to have it both ways, all ways, any way the billionaire desires. Doesn’t always work that way, of course, as Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross is being reminded. Ross’ net worth is estimated at $7.7 billion, but he doesn’t have enough money to buy his way out of this controversy of his own design, this distraction his football team hardly needs as it prepares for the NFL season. You still say sports and politics don’t mix? Ross just mixed them, and with combustible results. OK, that's the intro to my recent back-from vacation column, on Ross hosting a fundraiser for Donald Trump's re-election campaign, and the resulting fallout. (The two buddies are pictured). The fallout Ross is enduring includes calls for boycotts of his businesses, criticism from Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, and public disappointment within his own Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE). To read the full column, kindly visit Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser.

Previous most recent columns: Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / Analyzing QB Battles for Hurricanes, Dolphins, and Why These Players Will Win / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': FAKE CANDLES!: This premiered on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio, to rather rave reviews, I must say...:

Select other recent columns: Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

August 01, 2019

R.I.P. Nick Buoniconti (1940-2019). New column; plus Dolphins, Canes' QB battles: And the winners are...; also, we talk Greg Cote Day on ESPN Radio (with videos) & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, AUGUST 1. Farewell July and welcome Augie, when the football games begin! 2) ) It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, thank you Fort Myers & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Talking 'Greg Cote Day' on  Le Batard Show: Thank you again Fort Myers! To the minor-league Miracle ballclub and to all of the fans who turned out Saturday night for Greg Cote Day. We were humbled to be honored at such a truly ridiculous event. Loads o' fun!  We discussed on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio. For that conversation, plus videos from the event, go HERE. 

NickbBUONICONTI'S LEGACY: GREAT ON THE FIELD, GREATER OFF IT: Nick Buoniconti, the first big, established star in Miami Dolphins franchise history, has died at age 78 after a life so much bigger than football. Buoniconti passed away Tuesday night in hospice care after a years-long struggle with dementia that his family believes was brought on by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain injury that can result from football-related trauma. His impact on the field was great, as a Hall of Famer who played a key role as the captain and driving force of the famed "No-Name Defense" in the Dolphins’ historic 1972 Perfect Season and in the repeat Super Bowl championship in 1973. But his impact off the field was even greater. He founded the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and the Buoniconti Fund after his son, Marc, had been paralyzed while playing college football, helping raise some $500 million for the Miami Project. And, right to the end, his going public about his own dementia raised awareness of CTE and its link to football-related brain trauma. For my full column on the passing of a Dolphins great, kindly visit Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field

Umqbs MiaqbsDOLPHINS, CANES STARTING QUARTERBACK BATTLES: AND THE WINNERS ARE...: There is no proverbial-on-the-job "honeymoon" for Manny Diaz or Brian Flores to enjoy. They take over the Miami Hurricanes and Miami Dolphins as rookie head coaches under uncommon pressure — for different reasons, and for one that is the same. Diaz must live up to expectations of the Canes that are very high for a team that went 7-6 last year, and he faces a rugged opener as underdogs to the top-10 Florida Gators on Aug. 24 in Orlando. Flores must disprove expectations of the Dolphins that are gutter-low, and somehow survive a brutal opening-month schedule vs. the Ravens, Patriots, Cowboys and Chargers — every one a 2018 playoff team. But first, each must not mess up the first major on-field decision of his head coaching career, the one you simply have to get right. It is rare for an NFL or major college team to have a truly open quarterback competition carry this deep into summer, into training camp, with games looming. Miami has two of them, with Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Josh Rosen on the pro side, and N’Kosi Perry vs. Tate Martell vs. Jarren Williams across town in Coral Gables. OK. Those are the bones of my newest column, the intro. To read the full column -- how I think both battles will play out, who'll win the jobs and why -- kindly visit Analyzing QB Battles for Hurricanes, Dolphins, and Why These Players Will Win. Pictured left: UM's Perry (5) and Martell (18). Pictured right: Fins' Rosen (sans helmet) and Fitzpatrick.

Our previous week's columns: How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Le Batard Headed Back On The Air / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / and In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence.

Other most recent columns: Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / and Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever.

Select other columns: Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

July 29, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Dolphins and Canes' camp openings battle for No. 1 and see what else falls where; plus thank you Fort Myers, our latest columns & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 29. Thank you, Fort Myers! To the minor-league Miracle ballclub and to all of the fans who turned out Saturday night for Greg Cote Day. We were truly humbled to be honored at such a truly ridiculous event. Loads o' fun! Le Batard would have shown up, but his private jet was in the shop. 2) It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Flores' Dolphins open camp, countdown to Canes-Gators, Greg Cote Day in Fort Myers, Le Batard back on ESPN air, NFL lenience for Tyreek Hill, The List, Soup of the Day & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our previous week's work: Latest columns: How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Le Batard Headed Back On The Air / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / and In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence.

Other most recent columns: Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / and Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated through Monday, 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 training camp underway, QB battle on, preseason looms: It's back, folks. Football. King Sport! The Dolphins and new coach Brian Flores on Thursday staged the first of 10 preseason practices and one scrimmage (this Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium) prior to their Aug. 8 exhibition opener vs. the Atlanta Falcons. Meanwhile the Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Josh Rosen quarterback battle heats up as Miami tries to show indications it won't be as lousy as most people seem to think. 

2. HURRICANES: UM preseason practice begins with opener in less than a month: Canes and new boss-coach Manny Diaz held their first preseason practice Friday night indoors as the bell rang for real on the N'Kosi Perry-Tate Martell battle to start at quarterback. And flying fast into view: The Aug. 24 season opener vs. the Florida Gators in Orlando. UF was a fat 7 1/2-point favorite last I looked. Bet you that line about cuts in half as kickoff draws nearer.

3. INTER MIAMI: Teams Beckham reveals first player signing: Inter Miami made official Friday what had been revealed in the Argentine press four days earlier: Miami's first player signing is 19-year-old winger Matias Pellegrini, who will continue to play for the Argentine club Estudiantes until joining Inter Miami for the club's inaugural 2020 MLS season. Pellegrini has been a callup for Argentina's U20 national team. David Beckham's team will have splashier signings (we hope), but this is a promising start.

4. SOCCER: Barcelona confirms Messi for Miami game: Barcelona confirmed that Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and other stars would make the trip to Miami for the Aug. 7 La Liga Serie A Cup match vs. Napoli at Hard Rock Stadium. Show Messi the love, South Florida, and maybe he'll give Inter Miami a thought in a few years.

5. MARLINS: Gallen wins, hot-ish Fish return home: Promising rookie Zac Gallen earned his first career win as Miami won its last two road games at the White Sox before heading home, with Fish now having won four of past five games in the midst of a seven-game homestand vs. Arizona and Minnesota continuing tonight. Season has been full of bright spots like Gallen, making the hurtling toward 100 losses a tad easier to take.

6. CYCLING: French not smiling as Tour de France concludes: Cycling's premier annual race wrapped up Sunday, but someone other than Julian Alaphilippe would win. Alaphilippe, who led for much of the grueling three-week test, was trying to be the first Frenchman to win the Tour de France since 1985. Instead, Egan Bernal became the first Colombian to win and, at 22, the youngest since World War II.

7. MLB: Baseball's trade deadline looms: Deals must be struck by Wednesday, July 31 as teams in the playoff chase look to buy and bolster and teams going nowhere look to divest. Others (likely including Miami) will do neither and stand pat. Fish dealt closer Sergio Romo to Twins for 1B prospect Lewin Diaz, but no major deals are expected. The baseball trade I'd like to see? Game trades all the homers and strikeouts for good old-fashioned contact hitting.

8. PRO WRESTLING: WWE SmackDown visits Miami: The clowns of the ring performed a B-list show at the Heat arena this past week, with Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler the championship match. I'd look up who won, but I don't care and what does it really matter?

9. SWIMMING: World Aquatic Championships wrapping up: The WACs being held in South Korea end Sunday. The Americans are doing slightly better this year than in 2015, but still not that great, and and that pretty much exhausts by knowledge of U.S. swimming post-Michael Phelps and in a non-Olympic year. Katie Ledecky!    

10. BASKETBALL, SORT OF: BIG3 league coming to Miami: The Big3 basketball league founded by rapper Ice Cube, and featuring retired NBA players, plays its next-to-last regular season week of 3-on-3 action in Miami with an Aug. 10 tripleheader at the Heat arena. If you've long to see guys who once were, like Joe Johnson and the ghost of Amar'e Stoudemire, have at it!

Missing the HB10 cut: It was Greg Cote Day on Saturday night in Fort Myers at a minor-league baseball game. And, yes, it was every bit as ridiculous as that sounds ..... Boxers are dying from ring injuries. Can somebody please do something about that? Thank you ..... Dan Le Batard survived his ESPN brouhaha. Which would-a made the HB10, except you knew he would ..... The Monster Jam trucks event, astonishingly still a thing in 2019, is coming to the Panthers' Sunrise arena Aug. 10-11 ..... The World Korfball Championships begin this week in South Africa. Korfball is two teams of eight (four men, four women) trying to throw a ball  into a netless basket. In other words, its coed basketball, but with a ridiculous name ..... U.S. Open tennis begins Aug. 26. Another chance for Serena Williams to try -- again -- to tie the all-time majors records ..... Golf's Senior Open ends Sunday. Sorry, but can't watch that sport without remembering how good those guys used to be, and feeling sad ..... Little League World Series is close. My favorite part is always the one 12-year-old who looks like he shaves and drove to the park ..... Update: Countdown now 2,520 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

July 27, 2019

How Flores won Dolphins' respect before ever coaching a game. New column; plus it's Greg Cote Day!, latest on Le Batard drama, countdown to Canes-Gators opener, NFL's weak lenience on Tyreek Hill, return of 'Soup of the Day' (with video), The List & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 27. It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Greg Cote Day countdown, meet the Highwomen & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Latest update on Le Batard/ESPN drama: Dan Le Batard met Thursday with ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro and evidently emerged unpunished for last week's on-air rebuke of President Trump in violation of the network's no-political-talk policy. Visit Le Batard Headed Back On The Air for the latest.

Gcday2It's Greg Cote Day!: We began a 10-day countdown to Greg Cote Day on Saturday, July 27 at Hammond Stadium, home of the minor-league Fort Myers Miracle, and it's now that day! (Always said that for me to have a Greg Cote Day would take a Miracle, so I was right). I'll be meeting fans, throwing out the first pitch, singing the national anthem and playing left field. All but one of those four things is actually true. Will I see you there? It's just a couple of hours west of South Florida. Tickets are going fast. Well, I don't really know if they are or not. But they might be! In any case click HERE for the link to buy yours.

BfloresFLORES IN COMMAND OF HIS TEAM AS DOLPHINS OPEN CAMP: Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick today from the first practice of Dolphins preseason training camp, on rookie head coach Brian Flores: "A great demeanor. Very genuine. He’s coming from a good place and the right place. He’s got the attention, command and respect of the team, and that can be hard for a first-year head coach." Flores, a four-time champion from the Bill Belichick tree, seems comfortably in charge as a first-time head coach. It is fair for Dolfans to wonder if Flores will be a good coach. I might prefer to wonder if he might be a great one. I have a feeling the Fins have finally hit on the right guy. To read my newest column in full, kindly visit How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game.

CanesqbsONE MONTH AWAY, CANES-GATORS FULL OF HIGH STAKES, VINTAGE ACRIMONY. COLUMN: Let the one-month countdown begin, because four weeks of hype is not too much for this. Miami Hurricanes. Florida Gators. Neutral site. Two old rivals. Two pedigreed programs trying to be great again. Two high-aiming teams acting pretty cocky and trying to build evidence why they should be. As the Canes begin preseason practice Friday night working toward the Aug. 24 opener in Orlando, we’ve already been reminded why we’ve missed what used to be UM’s greatest rivalry. Miami and the hated Gators played every season for a half century, through 1987, but next month will be meeting for only the seventh time since and the first time in six years. Meantime the battle is on to see who'll start at quarterback in that game, with a still-unsettled competition led by returner N'Kosi Perry and transfer Tate Martell (pictured left to right). I whet the appetite for Canes football season in my recent column. To read it in full, please visit Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin.

ThillON NFL'S ODD LENIENCE TOWARD TYREEK HILL. COLUMN: The NFL routinely suspends for instances of domestic violence even when the accused is not prosecuted. It happened again just Monday when the league banned Seattle's Jarran Reed six games  even though he was never arrested or charged. So why did Kansas City star receiver Tyreek Hill get no suspension from the NFL -- not even a game or two? Even though he has pleaded guilty to hitting and injuring his then-pregnant girlfriend, has been investigated for child abuse, and is heard on a more recent audiotape threatening that same woman? It seems like odd, unjust lenience -- a non-sentence that stunned the league. We explore why in our recent column. To read it in full, kindly visit In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence.

Our previous other most recent columns: Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / and Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever.

THE LIST: FORBES' 2019 MOST VALUABLE SPORTS TEAMS: Forbes' 2019 list of 50 most valuable sports teams in the world includes 26 from the NFL, nine from MLB, eight from soccer and seven from the NBA. Here are the top 10, plus state of Florida teams in the 50, with all dollar figures in billions:

1. Dallas Cowboys $5.0

2. New York Yankees 4.6

3. Real Madrid C.F. 4.24

4. FC Barcelona 4.02

5. New York Knicks 4.0

6. Manchester United F.C. 3.81

7. New England Patriots 3.8

8. Los Angeles Lakers 3.7

9. Golden State Warriors 3.5

10t. Los Angeles Dodgers 3.3

10t. New York Giants 3.3

33. Miami Dolphins 2.58

49. Jacksonville Jaguars 2.08

RETURN OF 'SOUP OF THE DAY': MOON SOUP: Back In My Day and Soup of the Day are my occasional benchmark segments on the Le Batard Show. Hadn't done Soup of the Day in a long while, but brought it back yesterday. Enjoy: 

Select other recent columns: On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

July 20, 2019

On the Le Batard-gets-political/ESPN controversy. New column; plus 4 ways Heat have had winning summer, is everyone wrong about Dolphins?, why 2019 could be best sports year ever, Greg Cote Day countdown, latest Back In My Day (Apps!), Moon Landing & more

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

Moon1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 20. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. The United States' Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the moon  on July 20, 1969. I remember watching as a boy. That was a time of widespread protest against the Vietnam War across the country, and the Moon Landing felt a little bit like healing, a reason for Americans to feel good about their country. 2) It's always the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Gcday 7Greg Cote Day countdown: 7 days: We began a 10-day countdown to Greg Cote Day on Saturday, July 27 at Hammond Stadium, home of the minor-league Fort Myers Miracle, and it's now seven days to go. I'll be meeting fans, throwing out the first pitch, singing the national anthem and playing left field. All but that last thing are actually true. Will I see you there? Tickets are going fast. Well, I don't really know if they are or not. In any case click HERE for the link to buy yours. (Click image for larger version).

DanlLE BATARD REBUKES TRUMP, ESPN'S NO-POLITICS POLICY. NEW COLUMNThis isn’t the first time Miami-based ESPN star Dan Le Batard has defied his network and faced consequences. It happened in 2014, when the radio and television host was suspended two days for buying billboards in Cleveland that needled LeBron James — "You’re Welcome, LeBron. Love, Miami" — after he’d left the Heat. That was playful. This isn’t. Le Batard on Thursday took on the president of the United States and his own network’s no-political-talk policy in a fiery, four-minute rebuke of both Donald Trump and ESPN management’s stick-to-sports edict. His voice emotional, Le Batard called it "deeply offensive" that a Trump crowd chanted "send her back" at a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday night, a chant directed at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee who now is a U.S. citizen representing Minnesota. Le Batard accused trump of instigating racial division and called the chant "un-American." And called his own network's stick-to-sports policy "cowardly." He was back on the air Friday (no mention of the controversy), but faces a possible suspension. I dive into the whole thing in today's latest column. To read, please visit Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy.

Priley4 REASONS HEAT HAS HAD WINNING OFFSEASON -- AND RILEY MAY NOT BE DONEThey could close the summer ledger right now and claim victory. What was supposed to be a dead summer in South Florida for Heat activity ended up delightfully noisy. Pat Riley (pictured) somehow maestro’d a four-team trade to get genuine star talent in Jimmy Butler despite being salary cap-strapped. The Heat essentially got Butler for Josh Richardson, a swap that by itself makes the Heat better and competitive in an Eastern Conference now looking refreshingly wide open. Three other ways the Heat won: Unloading Hassan Whiteside. Declining to give up too much in order to get Russell Westbrook. And saying no to Chris Paul. Now, might Riley still find a way to land Bradley Beal? I explore all of this in my recent column. To read it, please visit The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason.

BfloresPILING ON! ESPN LATEST TO CALL DOLPHINS THE WORST. BUT, IS EVERYBODY WRONG?: The idea of the Miami Dolphins as snakebit in their recent history has only been underlined, not alleviated, this summer. The NFL season is right around the corner, but for this team what’s around the corner always seems to be a blindside punch waiting to land. Training camp is mere days away — rookies report Sunday and veterans next Wednesday — but the Fins are losing before they ever hit the football field. Miami lost a defensive tackle candidate, Kendrick Norton, to a terrible truck accident that caused his left arm to be amputated. Days later assistant head coach Jim Caldwell announced he would take a medical leave of absence and miss the entire 2019 season to address health issues. Now — and this should be a piling-on penalty — ESPN has calculated in its new NFL Future Power Rankings that the Dolphins not only are No. 32 (dead last) right now but will be for the next three years. I explore all this, and say why I think Miami will be much better than expected, in my recent column. One reason for my optimism, new coach Brian Flores, is pictured. To read our latest column, please visit What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins?

2019WHY 2019 IS LOOKING LIKE SPORTS' BEST YEAR EVERYou know it when you are watching it, not just watching but feeling it. Sports has that power. Suddenly, what might have been an ordinary, forgettable competition blooms into something epic, something that will leave its mark on the history of that sport, and on your memory. We have  been full of that stuff in sports this year, and the calendar is barely half done.That's why I think this shapes up to be the greatest. Tom Brady's sixth Super Bowl. Tiger Woods' Masters win. First-time champions in the NBA, NHL and men's college basketball. League-changing NBA free agency. U.S. women winning a record fourth World Cup. The Angels' no-hitter the night they honored a fallen teammate. Right through to Sunday and Novak Djokovic's epic five-hour Wimbledon win over Roger Federer. Oh, and the Cricket World Cup! (Yes, cricket...) And so much more. I explore fall of this -- the wonder and joy and surprise of sports -- in my recent column. To read it, kindly visit: Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever.

Our previous most recent columns: On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win / If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them / Heat's Run At Westbrook Is Riley's All-Out Gamble To Win Now and Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': APPS!: This video includes quite a bit of chatter leading into the new Back in My Day and a little bit afterward. The actuall BIMD kicks in around the 3:10 mark:

THE LIST: FIRST-TIME NBA, NHL CHAMPS IN SAME YEAR: What happened this year in basketball and hockey is a rarity, and one of the many reasons I like 2019 as the best sports year ever (see above). The only times since 1970 that the NBA and NHL have had a first-time franchise champion the same year:

Year        NBA champion                    NHL champion

2019       Toronto Raptors                  St. Louis Blues

2006       Miami Heat                         Carolina Hurricanes

1999       San Antonio Spurs               Dallas Stars

1991       Chicago Bulls                      Pittsburgh Penguins

Select other recent columns: Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

July 13, 2019

Serena denied again in hunt for record. New column; plus Heat loses on Westbrook, but why that could still be win for Miami; also, if you find USWNT polarizing that's on you, not them; U.S. tennis finds new star in Coco Gauff & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 13. Happy 80th birthday to Mavis Staples this week, one of the great voices and messengers of my life, an American icon. 2) Always football season around here, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. wins Women's World Cup with column, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

SerenaSERENA DENIED AGAIN IN PURSUIT OF MAJORS RECORD: Serena Williams (and older sister Venus) introduced themselves at what is now the Miami Open on Key Biscayne, circa late '90s. Now, 21 years later, at age 37, Serena is fighting younger opponents -- and time -- in pursuit of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major titles. She has 23. She could have equaled the record Saturday in the final at Wimbledon but was dominated by Simona Halep in a 6-2, 6-2 loss -- her sixth straight time trying and failing to get from 23 to 24. "I'll keep fighting," she said afterward. Her next chance: the U.S. Open commencing in last August. For my column on Serena, from the teenager we first met to the warrior still slugging it out, kindly visit On Brink Of History At Wimbledon, Serena Is Denied Again.

TeammatesHEAT LOSE OUT ON WESTBROOK. BUT WAS IT REALLY A LOSS? NEW COLUMNThe Miami Heat and Pat Riley lost out on Russell Westbrook on Thursday night -- but it might have been closer to a win than a loss. Sometimes, the best trade is the one not made. Yes, the Heat would have been better or at least more dynamic and interesting in the short term by pairing Westbrook with recently acquired Jimmy Butler. But at what cost? That was the line Riley smartly drew. Giving up the young core of Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and June top draft pick Tyler Herro, and more, was too much for Westbrook, whose mega-contract would have grown more and more onerous. Miami in four years would have been paying $47 million to an aging 34-year-old player. So Westbrook reunites in Houston with James Harden instead. Star-chasing is fine, but not to add a veteran while pilfering your own future. Likewise, Miami must be wary of trading for  Bradley Beal if that comes with the John Wall baggage and also costs that young core. And wary of trading for Chris Paul if it drains you of money to be a player in 2021 free agency. I discuss all this and more in my latest column off last night's Westbrook trade to Houston, not Miami. To read it in full, kindly visit Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be  A Win

UnitedCHAMPION U.S. WOMEN'S TEAM MAY BE POLARIZING, BUT THAT'S GOOD: Sometime during the victory celebration along the “Canyon of Heroes” in New York City on Wednesday, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe was handed a Daily News cover that depicts the Statue of Liberty cleverly holding the Women’s World Cup championship trophy instead of a torch. That wasn’t what made Rapinoe hold the newspaper with a smirking frown on her face, a sort of #SMH (shake my head) expression. It was the bold headline in big block letters: UNITED WE STAND. "Really?" Rapinoe’s look seemed to be saying. "Really!?" Later that night — as if on cue — one or more persons walking around full of hate vandalized six Rapinoe posters at the subway station near Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan. Police are investigating it as a possible hate crime. The posters read, “Dream With Us.” Either that message, or perhaps the fact Rapinoe is gay, led the vandals to scrawl “shemale” and “screw that [bleep]” over her face. United we stand? The preceding is in the intro to my column off the parade. Rapinoe and her USWNT teammates are excellent on the field -- World Cup champs -- and loud off it, loud for LGBTQ equality, racial justice, pay equity. That makes them polarizing to some. If so that's on the offended, the "Shut up and play" crowd -- not o them. For that column in full, please visit If You Don't Like Rapinoe, USWNT -- That's On You, Not Them

RwestHEAT'S PURSUIT OF WESTBROOK IS RILEY'S ALL-OUT, URGENT GAMBLE: [Note: This was my column from earlier in the week, when Miami appeared to be the favorite to land Westbrook]. Did you not think he was going to go out swinging? That he was going to sit quietly in the corner? That a long basketball career full of noise was going to ebb with a whisper? Then you don’t know Pat Riley. Haven’t followed his career real closely. Riley making something of nothing this summer for the Miami Heat — trading for star Jimmy Butler and now angling for an even bigger star in Russell Westbrook — is less surprising than if the Heat’s president had stood pat, OK with mediocrity and the hope something might happen a couple of summers from now, maybe. Instead, the Heat’s godfather is flexing all of the creativity and ingenuity in his toolbox in an impatient desperation to be relevant again, now, not later. Riley is 74 now. When my grandmother was that age she used to like to say “you don’t buy green bananas.” You don’t trust tomorrow. Carpe diem. That's the gist of my recent column. Full for the full read, please visit Heat's Run At Westbrook Is Riley's All-Out Gamble To Win Now. Pictured, Westbrook in a Heat uniform, via clutchpoints.com.

Coco"LOCO FOR COCO!" HAS AMERICAN TENNIS JUST DISCOVERED THE 'NEXT BIG THING' IT SO BADLY NEEDS?: The U.S. winning the Women’s World Cup was the biggest accomplishment in sports the past week, but it wasn’t the most amazing. The continuing reign of Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and the rest of those American stars was expected. What has happened the past week in London, at Wimbledon, was the surreal opposite of expected. Surprise is one of the great joys of sports, the rise of the underdog one of the great delights. The rare moment when someone you had never heard of becomes a star, and you can only imagine the trajectory that lay ahead. Her name is Cori (Coco) Gauff. That's the start of my recent column. To read it, kindly visit Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing. At 15 Gauff was the youngest Wimbledon qualifier of the Open era, and youngest to win a match since 1991, before losing in the fourth round Monday to former world No. 1 Simona Halep. It gives hope that American tennis has found its next big star, and I write why that is so needed: On the men’s side, John Isner, aged 34, is, at No. 12 in the ATP rankings, the only American in the top 30. No U.S. male has won a major since Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick in 2003. For the women, Serena Williams is 37 now and sister Venus is 39. Someone must take the baton. Sloane Stephens currently is the highest American woman in the WTA rankings at No. 9, and by winning the 2017 U.S. Open became the first U.S. major winner not named Williams since 2002. But Stephens already is 26, an age by which Serena already had won eight majors. That is to say, Stephens’ career arc suggests a very good player, but one who must accelerate and find another gear to reach and sustain the next-big-star level. Coco Gauff has famously said, "I want to be the best ever. I want to be better than Serena." Tennis is infamously noted for its early flameouts and burnouts, the phenom at 17 and done by 23 type. It will be interesting to see if Coco Gauff can rise above that and fulfill the potential she offered a tantalizing hint of at Wimbledon.

A handful of other most recent columns: Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again. Also: U.S. Women Reach World Cup Final -- Not With Arrogance, But Excellence / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / and It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field.

Cuckoo"CUCKOO FOR COCOA PUFFS!": : Watching Delray Beach 15-year-old Cori (Coco) Gauff play Wimbledon the past week and writing about her in my latest column (linked above), I was drawn by her nickname Coco to recall the "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" cereal commercials of yesteryear. They began after the introduction of the "Sonny the Cuckoo Bird" mascot in 1962. In the TV ads, Sonny attempts to concentrate on normal tasks but ends up coming across some reference to Cocoa Puffs and is enthusiastically distracted. Fast fact: The actual cuckoo (pictured right) is a mostly grayish-brown European bird (Cuculus canorus) that is a parasite given to laying its eggs in the nests of other birds which then raise the offspring.

Select other recent columns: Kawhi to Lakers Would Mean More Rings, Last Laugh For LeBron / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies / Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 /  Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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