March 19, 2019

14th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge! Contest underway. Find rules and how to enter here!; plus our Tannehill-legacy column, your verdict on his Dolphins era, Radio Tuesday & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, MARCH 19. Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins/Kaepernick column, Tannehill-era poll, 'Greg Cote Day' & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

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

Haiku14TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE! ENTER NOW!: We have done the Haiku Challenge for as long as we've had this blog and it is back for tradition's sake and by unpopular demand. Actually we had a record number of entries last year (128), so let's see if we'll raise the bar even higher. I know Dvitalemany of you are intimidated by this contest, or simply do not agree that nothing captures America's mania over the NCAA Tournament and bracketeering like ancient Japanese short-form poetry. I do not do this for the masses, but for the select few creative minds and poets among you. Think of it like a restaurant that offers liver. They know very few like it, but they know the few who do love it. You may know that a haiku is a 17-syllable poem ideally but not necessarily in 5-7-5 structure. Rhyming? Fine, but not necessary. Here's an example of a standard 5-7-5 haiku: "An ocean voyage / As waves break over the bow / the sea welcomes me." Got it ? OK, now apply that to March Madness.

Three simple but firm rules: 

1. Your poem must be 17 total syllables exactly and must in some way be about the NCAA Tournament, March Madness or college basketball.

2. You may submit entries ONLY one of two ways: Via email to gcote@miamiherald.com with Haiku in the subject line, or via Twitter @gregcote with the hashtag #Haiku.

3. Entries will be accepted starting today/Tuesday and end at noon sharp on Friday, March 22. No hard limit on entries per person, but keep it to a handful, please.

Grand Champion will be announced by me here in the blog and on Twitter Sunday, March 24. The winner's prize? I dunno. Maybe a Dolphins media guide, a meet-and-greet with Le Batard Show or something equally crappy. But don't do it for the prize. Do it for the sheer glory and empowering feeling of inner enrichment and Zen. Ready? Haiku!

RtannyTANNEHILL'S LEGACY: MALIGNED, NOT AS BAD AS WE THOUGHT: I examine what I think is the Dolphins legacy of departed quarterback Ryan Tannehill in my latest column. Please visit Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think to read in full. The column also tips a farewell cap to sack-man Cameron Wake and running back Frank Gore, also both departed. Collectively, Tannehill, Wake and Gore were major players meriting our retrospective.    

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

POLL RESULT: TANNEHILL ERA GETS AVERAGE GRADE: We asked, "How would you grade Ryan Tannehill's career with the Miami Dolphins?" We eliminated A's and F's to prevent the craziest and unfairest votes. Instead we offered the nine choices of B-plus/B/B-minus, C-plus/C/C-minus, and D-plus/D/D-minus. Combining the results into one letter grade, "C" dominated with 58.29 percent of the total. Then it was close between "B" (21.39%) and "D" (20.32). Bottom line answer: A majority of you graded Tannehill's Fins career average, with a near-even split on those who found it above or below average.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 08, 2019

Derek Jeter softly bracing Marlins fans for harsh reality. My new column; plus big day for Canes women's hoops, baseball; also, Radio Friday, latest 'Back In My Day' video & more

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

Theu1) It's FRIDAY, MARCH 8. Big day for Katie Meier, Jim Morris and Canes sports today. Meier's UM women's basketball team opens play in the ACC Tournament, looking for a good run to enhance its positioning for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. And Morris, longtime former baseball coach, gets his No. 3 retired as Miami opens ACC play. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Martina Navratilova starts a Necessary Firestorm, Hot Button Top 10, Radio Tuesday & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Friday!: Double-duty this week as I'm back co-hosting today on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz. It airs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. nationally on ESPN Radio and ESPNews, after a local-only 8:55-10 hour on Miami's 790 The Ticket. Join us! 

DjeterSHORTSTOP FOR YANKEES? NAH. JETER IN HIS TOUGHEST POSITION YET, RIGHT NOW,  WITH MARLINS: Impossible task, really. Derek Jeter, Marlins CEO, goes from being the king of New York, The Captain, to the baseball basement, trying to completely reboot the Marlins. This begins Year 2. Jeter has at times portrayed his inbred competitiveness, professing a lack of patience for losing. But, just this week, Jeter was extolling the ballpark enhancements and said (unfortunately for him): "Look, people come and they don’t even know who won or lost sometimes. They don’t even know who was playing. But they do know if they had a good experience, and that’s what we’re focusing on." OK, show of hands. Who's ever been at a Marlins game and been unsure of who was playing or who won? Jeter was all but admitting the Marlins' "focus" is on ballpark enhancements helping you endure the expected continued losing as the cub regrows from the ground up. For more, visit my new column here: Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet.

Other most recent columns: The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top?, as King James' first season in L.A. turns nightmare. Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate, on why what Martina Navratilova said merits civil discussion. And Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour, on the extraordinary, heart-lifting journey of Jose de Jesus Rodriguez.

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': GOLF DRIVING RANGES!: This is my newest Back In My Day video that premiered Tuesday on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio/ESPNews:

OMG! THE FINAL-SEASON 'GAMES OF THRONES' TRAILER: Cannot wait for April 14. Forget more cowbell. More dragons!:

Other select recent columns: The Evolution Of Sports Into Big Business / Riley Scoffs At Retirement Because His Work Isn't Done / Zion Should Say See-Ya Duke and Shut It Down / Wade's 'Last Dance' A Masterwork In How To Say Goodbye / Six Reasons To Be Hopeful About Marlins' Rebuild / Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed / He Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too / Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 13, 2019

Bob Costas walks away with his integrity intact. Latest column; plus radio record-low, R.I.P. Gordon Banks, your Miami's-next-championship-team verdict & more

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

Gbanks1) It's WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for best-of podcast from yesterday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. It's really bad, thanks to my record-low performance. You're welcome! 2) R.I.P., Gordon Banks (pictured), former English World Cup soccer star and Fort Lauderdale Strikers goalkeeper in the late '70s, gone at 81. My column from last June. 3) Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): State of Miami pro sports with next-champion poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

"It's February 13th, fellas. Only one day left to dream up a creatively plausible excuse why you forgot Valentine's Day." --Greg Cote

BcostasBOB COSTAS WALKS AWAY FROM NBC WITH INTEGRITY INTACT: Bob Costas revealed details this past weekend of what led to his departure from NBC Sports after 40 years. Basically, it was that NBC thought he'd crossed a line with on-air commentary about the NFL's concussion and brain-injury problem. Costas would not agree to be quiet, so the two sides mutually ended their long marriage. Go here for the in-depth ESPN piece that broke the story. For my own newest column, visit Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity. I wrote admiringly about Costas, his career and moral compass. I also see his story as a microcosm reflecting much of America's evolving opinion about football. We acknowledge the downside, the threat to players' health ... but we can't stop watching. Costas could only keep broadcasting NFL games if he kept his mouth shut. He wouldn't. Good for him.

Other most recent columns: The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019 / The Redemption Of Manny Diaz / Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble.

IntmiaPOLL RESULT: SURPRISE! INTER MIAMI SOCCER SEEN AS MIAMI'S NEXT CHAMP: A team that won't even play its first game until next year will be Miami's next major pro champion, said you in our most recent blogpoll. We may say less about confidence in David Beckham's Inter Miami as it does as lack of confidence in the immediate futures of the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers. We asked, "Which of South Florida's 5 major pro teams do you think will win a championship next?" You results: Inter Miami/MLS Cup 50.42 percent; Panthers/Stanley Cup 16.81%; Heat/NBA Finals 13.45%; Marlins/World Series 10.08%; and Dolphins/Super Bowl 9.24%. So the team that doesn't yet exist won easily, followed by the team that has never won a championship. Lean times for the Heat, Fish and Fins.

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

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

January 10, 2019

Why a better coach isn't Dolphins' biggest need. My new column; plus here's your verdict on biggest Miami sports story of 2018, our LeBatard and Canes Chaos-to-Calm columns, new Back In My Day (Dating Sites!) & more

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

Uswed1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 10. Happy Anniversary to my wife! She is the greatest person I know, and I'm not even kidding. It's our wedding day at right. Awful photo, great day. 2) Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. The new Back In May Day (Dating Sites!) coughs in around the 52-minute mark. 3) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest Miami sports story of 2018 poll, your biggest-national-story verdict, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

New column: On Dolphins coach-search, then what's really important: Miami is trying to find a new coach who may or may not be bettre than Ada, Gase. That's fine. But a bigger, more important decision looms after that. For my newest column, visit A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need.

The Le Batard profile, Canes' Chaos-to-Calm columns: Visit From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 for an unusually personal column by me. And UM athletic director Blake James talks about the day when Canes football went from upheaval to the calm of continuity within hours. Visit Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm. Other recent columns: Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

YOUR VERDICT ON MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2018!: This was our third year doing this. In 2016 you voted the tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest local story of the year, and for 2017 it was the Hurricanes' Turnover Chain-fueled surge to UM's first 10-win season in 14 years. Would the vote to name the biggest local story of 2018 be tougher, and closer? You decided. We gave you a roughly alphabetical list of our top 20 finalists, invited you to select your top six, and from that consensus came your verdict. More than 1,400 votes were cast, and here are your top five Miami sports stories of 2018, with my comment:

Diazreturns1. Richt resigns after 7-6 season; UM lures back Diaz from Temple -- 22.74%: Year-end bombshell that rocked Canes was an unsurprising winner. 

2. Inter Miami expansion MLS team wins stadium vote -- 15.21%: Hmm. This was running in 5% range but spiked due to organized rally by Inter Miami fans.
 
3. 'Miami Miracle' stuns Patriots on 69-yard trick play to end game -- 12.08%: Rare a single play would be so big, but this was an exception.
 
4. Wade re-signs with Heat for 'Last Dance' farewell season -- 9.81%: Thought this had a shot to compete for title.
 
 
Rounding out the top 10: Marlins trade Yelich, who wins MVP for Milwaukee 3.91%; Jeter's 1st year as Marlins CEO ends with NL-worst record 3.77%; Miami among sites as U.S. wins joint bid to host 2026 World Cup; Wayne Huizenga, Marlins/Panthers founder, ex-Dolphins owner, dies 3.26%; and Local teams rally, lend support after Majory Stoneman Douglas tragedy 3.06%.
 
Ranking 11th through 15th: Miami Open tennis leaves Key Biscayne for Hard Rock Stadium 2.77%; Dolphins part with Landry, Suh, Pouncey 2.70%; FIU wins bowl for school-record 9-win season 2.49%; Jim Morris retires after 25 years as Canes baseball coach 2.35%; and Serena Williams returns from pregnancy, reaches 2 Grand Slam finals 1.92%.
 
The bottom feeders: Tannehill returns from injuries, ends year with Dolphins future in doubt 0.85: Miamian Carlos Cordeiro elected president of U.S. Soccer 0.71%; UM men's basketball implicated, cleared in national FBI recruiting probe 0.50%; Joey Logano wins NASCAR season title at Homestead 0.43%; and Alabama wins Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal 0.28%.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 08, 2019

What was Miami's biggest sport story of 2018? Our 20 finalists. You pick top 6. Annual poll. Last day to vote!; plus my LeBatard and Canes columns, Radio Tuesday, Hot Button Top 10, how we did on NFL playoff picks, your top-national-story winner & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, JANUARY 8. Yes I might still say "Happy New Year" and I don't care who objects with their silly rules. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend picks, biggest-national-sports-story-of-2018 poll, make-Wade-an-all-star column & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, my first time back with Dan and Stu since before the holidays. Show airs 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Miami's 790 The Ticket and nationally on ESPN Radio affiliates and on ESPNews from 10 to 1. Join us! 

The Le Batard, Canes' Chaos to Calm columns: Visit From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 for a special, unusually personal column by me. And, in my latest column, UM director of athletics Blake James takes us behind the scenes on the day when Canes football when from a bombshell of upheaval to the calm of continuity within hours. Visit Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm.

Other most recent columns: Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff. Also: The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

PicksNFL playoff picks: Wild-Card Weekend results: I finished 2-2 straight-up and 2-2 against the spread in the Saturday/Sunday TV doubleheaders that got the postseason underway. Straivght-up, I called the Chargers upset win and also had Cowboys winning. ATS, got the Chargers and Eagles covering at Chicago. Got a bit unlucky. Was sailing with Dallas to cover until that late Seattle score and 2-point conversion. And had Bears straight-up if not for that double-boink final makeable field goal miss. Thanks, Cody Parkey. Visit NFL Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all of our opening round selections.

Miami18WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2018? VOTING CONTINUES!: [Note: Voting continues through today and results will be announced here Wednesday morning]. This is our third year doing this. In 2016 you voted the tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest local story of the year, and for 2017 it was the Hurricanes' Turnover Chain-fueled surge to UM's first 10-win season in 14 years. The vote to name the biggest local story of 2018 could be tougher, and closer. We'll see. And you'll decide. Previously we invited you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (results below). Now we invite you to select the 2018 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from a roughly alphabetical top 20 of my choosing. You may vote for your top six (6). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Voting will continue until results are announced here mid-afternoon Tuesday. OK. Ready? Vote!

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

EaglesYOUR BIGGEST NATIONAL SPORTS STORY VERDICT: We gave you The Associated Press year-end list of Top 10 national sports stories for 2018 and invited you to select your top three. That means the highest possible percentage for any one answer would be 33.3 percent if all voters cast all three votes. Triple each vote total below for the approximate percent of times that answer was included in a top three. Your results: 1. Eagles win first Super Bowl 22.43%; 2. Larry Nasser/gymnastics sexual abuse scandal 20.15%; 3. Supreme Court allows sports betting beyond Las Vegas 15.59%; 4. Tiger Woods comeback from back surgery 9.89%; and 5. Maryland-Baltimore County first 16-seed to beat a No.1 in NCAAs 9.13%. (Nasser/gymnastics scandal won The AP vote). Others: Red Sox win World Series 6.84%; Sister Jean, 98, inspires Loyola-Chicago to NCAA Final Four 4.94%; expansion Golden Knights reach Stanley Cup Finals 4.18%; Alabama wins fifth national title under Nick Saban 4.18%; and Russia doping scandal continues into Pyeongchang Olympics 2.66%.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins in search for Gase's replacement as coach: Adam Gase is out. Chris Grier gets the personnel power Mike Tannenbaum had. The search is on for a new head coach. And none if it matters as much as this: Finding a quarterback better than Ryan Tannehill.

2. HURRICANES: Diaz continues assembling new staff: New head coach Manny Diaz digs in to try and find a new offensive coordinator to breathe life into the underperforming half of the team. Major Applewhite, perhaps? No matter who the new OC is, will N'Kosi Perry be his guy?

3. NFL: Colts, Cowboys, Chargers, Eagles advance as playoffs begin: Indianapolis won impressively in Houston, handled Seattle, the Chargers upset Baltimore and Philly upset Chicago to open the playoffs -- the latter only because Cody Parkey blew a 43-yard FG try in last seconds.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Clemson routs Alabama for CFP title: Crimson Tide and Tigers met Monday night in Santa Clara, Calif., with both teams 14-0 and 'Bama a 5 1/2-point favorite, but it was Clemson winning in a rout, 44-16. We've seldom seen Nick Saban look so sad. Ain't it great!?

5. HEAT: All-star push for Wade is on: As Heat have won eight of past 11 and are at .500 in East race, the push is on to send Dwyane Wade off as an all-star in his final season. He's running second in fan voting. Now we'll see if the player and media vote gets it right, too.

6. UM BASKETBALL: ACC schedule begins for Canes men, women: Now it gets real. Struggling UM men dropped their ACC opener, fell at Louisville last night and now play at No. 9 Florida State Wednesday. Canes women are 14-3 after two wins to open ACC play but somehow slipped from Top 25.

7. JAMES HARDEN: Rockets star's pointfest continues: Harden has now scored 30 or more points in 13 straight games, and NBA record. There are points hidden in Harden's beard.

8. PANTHERS: Hints of hope for Cats, but is it too late?: Cats at midseason are 17-23 and a big nine points off playoff pace as they head out on five-game road trip. Even a big second half might not be enough -- not a good position to have placed yourself.

9. NBA: Warriors, King set 3's mark: Golden State and Sacramento combined for 41 3's, an NBA record. The game's evolution is such, when you pull up for a 2-point jump shot now, they look at you funny.

10. BASEBALL: Biggest deals still on hold: A destination of top free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. A trade of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Women carry babies in their wombs less time than it's taken these deals to happen.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,724 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 26, 2018

On tonight's big Heat test, Dolphins award winners; plus my annual Christmas/holiday video, this year with Jeter, Beckham, Gase and Wade; also, Herald NFL QB rankings (fight to the finish), Pix 'n Fantasy results (Yes, I went 15-1) & more

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

Mc1) It's WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26. Hope y'all had a Merry Christmas, fellow Christians, and a joyous holiday season to all! 2) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Jacksonville with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, ButchCats & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our 'Debacle of Disappearing Dolphins' column: The Grinch stole the playoffs in Sunday's 17-7 Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. Did he also steal Ryan Tannehill's Fins future and Adam Gase's job? I explore in my column from the stadium off the game. Visit End Of Hope For Dolphins. For Tannehill, Gase, too? to read.

MerryxmasMERRY CHRISTMAS! IT'S OUR ANNUAL HOLIDAY VIDEO AND IT'S HO-HO-HORRRIBLEE!: That's me unsmiling in red with a bad beard. My holiday friends are Marlins boss Derek Jeter in blue, Dolphins coach Adam Gase in yellow, MLS Miami potentate David Beckham in green and of course Heat star Dwyane Wade in whatever the heck color that is. The five of us recently got together for a sled race that was recorded for my annual holiday greeting. (Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedules, fellas). Hope you enjoy! Click MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018 to watch.

JoshrON HEAT'S TELLING TEST TONIGHT: Toronto at Miami tonight is a bigger than typical midseason test for the suddenly surging Heat. (Leading scorer Josh Richardson is pictured). Miami rides the NBA's best current winning streak (five games) to 16-16 and tonight can go over .500 for the first time since 3-2. But to do that they must beat the best team in the league in the Raptors, who are 25-10 and atop the standings. Toronto beat Miami 125-115 one month ago in Canada. Is Miami a team that can contend for a top-four playoff seed or will be scrambling for an eighth? Look for clues tonight. Encouraging sign: The Heat surge has been without Goran Dragic, who is out for several more weeks following knee surgery.

XhowardON DOLPHINS' 2018 TEAM AWARD WINNERS: Announced today, it's cornerback Xavien Howard (pictured) as Most Valuable Player, running back Frank Gore the Leadership Award, quarterback Ryan Tannehill the Courage Award, and wide receiver Kenny Stills the Community Service Award. Quick thoughts: No complaint with any of the choices, but  I don't think it's a good sign when a CB on a middle-of-the-pack pass defense is your season MVP. Or, put another way, when your QB or some other offensive skill-position player failed to rise up and seize the award.

NfolesFOLES WINS WEEK, MAHOMES TAKES NARROW LEAD TO FINISH LINE / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 16: The Eagles' Nick Foles (pictured) takes Week 16 honors with a big 58.55-point game, but, more importantly, the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes maintains his overall No. 1 spot in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. Mahomes has a scant 4.20-point lead over the Saints' Drew Brees, and it figures as a two-man race for the season championship entering the final week. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill falls one spot to 30th overall. Our rankings are cumulative, but with bye weeks finished the playing field has leveled for the stretch run. This is our 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL QB rankings. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 25 table (plus Dolphins) entering the Week 17 finale:

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 16
RK    LW    Player, Team                       WK16        Season

1       1       Patrick Mahomes, KC           28.65         588.80

2       2       Drew Brees, NO                   39.30        584.60

3       3       Matt Ryan, ATL                    29.95        556.25

4       4       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        44.00        550.10

5       5       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 40.65        544.80

6       7       Andrew Luck, IND                40.85        534.40

7       6       Philip Rivers, LAC                12.05        506.60

8       8       Jared Goff, LAR                  32.80        491.45

9       11     Aaron Rodgers, GB              52.10        468.30

10     10     Deshaun Watson, HOU         40.95        467.55

11     9       Tom Brady, NE                    10.30         462.25

12     12     Derek Carr, OAK                  25.35        440.20

13     14     Eli Manning, NYG                32.45        428.40

14     15     Dak Prescott, DAL               31.05        425.85

15     16     Russell Wilson, SEA             34.55        423.80

16     13     Cam Newton, CAR               DNP          401.75

17     17     Matthew Stafford, DET        9.80          395.55

18     18     Carson Wentz, PHI              DNP           377.70

19     19     Mitch Trubisky, CHI            41.30          373.00

20     21     Baker Mayfield, CLE          45.20          371.45

21     20     Case Keenum, DEN            19.10         348.90

22     22     Marcus Mariota, TEN         14.50          297.40

23     23     Andy Dalton, CIN               DNP           270.30

24     28     Jameis Winston, TB          39.80          254.35

25     24     Joe Flacco, BAL                 DNP           246.25

30     29     Ryan Tannehill, MIA          15.30          218.60

34     33     Brock Osweiler, MIA           DNP           126.35

Bubble: Blake Bortles, JAC, 238.60. Week 16 best: Nick Foles, PHI, 58.55 (35-49, 471, 4-1 in win). Week 16 worst: Josh Rosen, ARI, 5.35 (12-23, 87, 0-0 in loss).

Picks LobosNFL WEEK 16 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: STRONG ... AND STRONG!: Every Tuesday in the blog I update you on how I did the past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. The latest: Herald picks: Strong. Again. My surreal season continues. We went 15-1 -- yes 15-1 -- overall, missing only on the Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. (Thanks, Fins). And we were 9-7 against the spread. We nailed yet another Upset of the Week with Ravens winning at Chargers ("Aawwk!"), and two other outright upsets Seahawks beating Chiefs and Raiders beating Broncos last night. Also had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Redskins, Bengals and Giants. All in all, maybe our best season ever girds for its final week! Greg's Lobos: Strong. The Lobos ended 2-1 in the consolation-bracket playoffs after a 5-8 regular season. We closed with a 167.8 to 125.3 rout of Sarah Spain, led by Deshaun Watson's 36.5 points. We'll get 'em next year, because ... #WeAreTheLobos!

Select other recent columns: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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