May 27, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where this week. (Toronto!?!); plus 2019 Sports Fan Misery Index (latest column), 50,000 Names (Memorial Day) & more

Memday1) It's MONDAY, MAY 27. It is Memorial Day in America. Please hesitate to wish someone a "happy" Memorial Day, bearing in mind it is a day to remember and honor our servicemen and women who lost their lives serving in the United States Armed Forces. Below is a video honoring those soldiers. 2) It's always football season, so it's always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The new Sports Fan Misery Index, genuflecting to Warriors' greatness, getting to know Tyler Gaffalione, new Raconteurs video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

MiseryLatest column: Miami sports suck right now. But oh do we have company!: Dolphins: No championship in 45 years. Panthers: Last won hockey playoff series 22 seasons ago. Marlins: Haven’t made postseason in 13 years or had winning record in 10. (Even the reliable Heat missed the playoffs). So how bad do we have it in South Florida pro sports? I did the research and was stunned to find, for example, that the Fins' 45-year title drought doesn't even make the Top 20 for such futility. If misery loves company, this your column, Miami, as we present the new Sports Fan Misery Index encompassing the 123 franchises in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. To read, please visit Take Heart, South Florida. We're Bad, But Hardly Alone.

Other most recent columns: Riley, Heat, Everyone Else Chasing Warriors' Epic Greatness / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It (Really) Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Zion Williamson's Power to Reject the Lottery / All The Ways Dolphins Are Finally Headed Right / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To The Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Brady Is As Brady As Ever / Marlins Losing Big Now, But A Future Is Emerging.

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. NBA: Finally, a Finals! It's Golden State vs. Toronto!?: Golden State's long wait to know its NBA Finals opponent is over after sweeping Portland. And that opponent, unexpectedly, is Toronto, which rallied from 15 down at home Saturday night to oust top-seeded Milwaukee and reach its first Finals. Meaning we now must all accept the dreadful hashtag #WeTheNorth. All hail, Kawhi Leonard! For now. King Warriors and Steph Curry are heavy favorites in Finals that start Thursday. Defending champ Golden State playing with extra rest is like Warren Buffett getting a raise.

2. NHL: Boston-St. Louis Finals begins Monday: The Boston Bruins are favored to continue that city's recent across-sports dominance vs. the underdog St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals beginning Monday. The Blues were last in the Finals in 1970, and, as we know in Miami, anything that happened even before the Dolphins' first Super Bowl win is officially ancient history.

3. MARLINS: Signs of life for the Fish, sort of: Miami won a season-best six games in a row before dropping the first three games of a four-game set at Washington. Marlins are at Nationals again today before returning home vs. San Francisco. For Miami, odds of finishing worse than the '62 Mets are now suddenly and seriously in jeopardy.

4. TENNIS: Nadal, Halep favorites in French Open: The French Open began in Paris Sunday with Rafael Nadal favored to win his 12th men's crown in the event and Simona Halep the betting pick to repeat her women's title. An odd sight: Serena Williams only the fifth favorite among women. Then again it's a major she has won "only" three times, and not since '15.

5. AUTO RACING: Pagenaud wins Indy 500 roars at the Brickyard: The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 happened Sunday with defending champion Will Power (still love that name) the betting favorite, but ti was Frenchman Simon Pagenaud who lifted the milk bottle. It's the only day on the American motorsports calendar when IndyCar reigns and NASCAR must curtsy.

6. INTER MIAMI: OK, so now they're building three stadiums!?: The David Beckham/Jorge Mas team set to debut in Major League Soccer next year is building a new Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale to play the first two seasons while their permanent Miami Freedom Park home is built. Now they've secured land in Overtown for a potential stadium as well -- perhaps a fallback if the Melreese site falls through? This team better be a beautiful baby, because the pregnancy has shall we say not been smooth.

7. UM BASEBALL: Canes disappoint in ACCs, await NCAA fate: Splitting two games in the ACC Tournament, and blowing a five-run lead in the second, wasn't what coach Gino DiMare had in mind for his 16th-ranked Canes. Now Miami awaits its postseason destination in the NCAA Division 1 Selection Show on Monday. Of course UM will get in. The question: Will Miami host a regional?

8. DOLPHINS: Six workdays left before training camp: Miami has remaining OTA practice days May 28-29 and 31 and then a mandatory minicamp June 4-6. Then it's off for a few weeks before the start of full training camp in late July. All of it leading to what is expected to be a dreadful season!

9. SOCCER: Ticket snafu shadows start of Women's World Cup: The quadrennial event kicks off June 7 in France (two of the 24 teams have been training in SoFla), with the defending champion United States playing its first match June 11. But before any of that there's outrage from fans over ticketing. Say you bought four tickets to Game X. Well, they might not be together! I mean, seriously?

10. SOCCER: Liverpool favored in Champions League final: An all-England Champions League final this coming Saturday In Madrid finds Liverpool a solid betting pick over Tottenham. Some of that is Liverpool seeking its sixth European crown and Tottenham its first. More of it is Liverpool with nine wins vs. only one loss (with four draws) in past 14 league matches vs. the Hotspur.

Missing the HB10 cut: Gabreille Union said on late-night TV that Dwyane Wade was surprised to learn a carton of milk didn't cost $20. Welcome to The Real World Of Rich-Guy Retirement, D-Wade! ..... Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard left to be head coach at his alma mater, Michigan ..... Congrats to the Canes' Estela Perez-Somarriba for winning just the second individual national title in women’s tennis in UM history ..... A Bills player is wearing O.J. Simpson's No. 32 for first time since 1976. Begging the question: Why?!? ..... All-NBA teams came out and LeBron James, for the first time, was relegated to third team. Oh the indignity! ..... A 19-year-old top baseball prospect skipped the MLB Draft to sign with Japan. Dear MLB: Pay your draftees more or see a trend ..... It's Finland vs. Canada Sunday in an expected gold medal game in the IIHF men's ice hockey world championships in Slovakia. Four Florida Panthers represented their country and one is skating for gold: Juho Lammikko of Team Finland ..... WNBA's 23rd season is underway. I'll check back in around the Finals ..... Former NFL star Chris Long admitted he regularly smoked marijuana and got away with it. Roger Goodell is looking into retroactive punishment for retirees ..... Several female squash competitors were outraged after they were given sex toys after a tournament in Spain. We're going to leave it at that and move on! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,583 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

IN HONOR OF MEMORIAL DAY AND OUR FALLEN SOLDIERS: I post this same video every year on Memorial Day. "50,000 Names" is a George Jones song released in 2001. It is specifically about the names carved on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial but, more broadly, it is a tribute to all who have given their lives in service in the U.S. Armed Forces. To anyone reading who has lost a loved one, we remember yours and all of our fallen heroes today.

Select other recent columns: Welcome to the New America, Lexi Thompson / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / 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.

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

April 29, 2019

What do you think of the Miami Dolphins 2019 draft results? Grade it in poll. Last day to vote!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

It's MONDAY, APRIL 29. Football is never done, so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins trade for QB Rosen, poll on DT WIlkins pick, The List (Fins draft history in 13 range), your verdict on position Miami should target & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our Dolphins draft columns on Rosen trade, Wilkins pick: To read, visit Dolphins Big Winners With Draft-Day Trade For QB Rosen and Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins. Yes, I really liked both moves. When your first two days deliver an elite defensive tackle, a potential franchise quarterback and a likely starting guard, that's good work.

DdraftGRADE THE DOLPHINS DRAFT. NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: Any team's draft of course cannot truly and fairly be graded for a year or two, when we see how players are panning out. But I'm not writing an encyclopedia here. This is a blog. You don't need time for a gut reaction -- a sense of how the Dolphins did based on caliber of players they got and needs met. Are you feeling good about the draft or not? I've not met many sports fans incapable or unwilling to have a strong opinion fast. So let's go! I list the Dolphins' 2019 draft bounty below, then invite your overall opinion in a poll. I include quarterback Josh Rosen, who was acquired in a draft-day trade for, essentially, a second-round pick, because he is very much a part of who Miami got in this draft. Ready, set, vote!

Dolphins 2019 Draft bounty: 1R -- DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson (13th overall)  /  2R -- QB Josh Rosen, Arizona (via trade)  /  3R -- OG Michael Deiter, Wisconsin (78th overall)  /  5R -- OLB Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin (151st overall)  /  6R -- OT Isaiah Prince, Ohio State (202nd)  /  7R -- FB Chandler Cox, Auburn (233rd)  /  7R -- RB Myles Gaskin, Washington (234th)

POLL RESULT: LOTS OF LOVE FOR WILKINS AS NO. 1 PICK: We asked, "What is your reaction to the Miami Dolphins drafting Clemson DT Christian Wilkins 13th overall?" Your verdict: Love it 68.69 percent; Like it 20.20%; So-so 8.08%; and Nope 3.03%. That's strong approval -- 88.89% either loving or liking the pick. (The opinion was more mixed in our Twitter poll, where it was Great 38%, Pretty good 29% and Meh 33%).

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:

Hotbutton Rosen1. DOLPHINS: Wilkins pick, Rosen trade highlight Miami's NFL Draft: An elite defensive tackle in Clemson's Christian Wilkins and a potential franchise quarterback in Josh Rosen (via trade from Arizona) provided a big 1-2 punch to open Miami's draft work. Most thought Wilkins would be gone before the 13th pick, and getting Rosen, a top-10 pick last year, for a low second-rounder felt like a steal. The bad news? Tougher now in 2019 to "Tank for Tua" -- the grand-prize QB the Fins should still take in next year's draft if they're bad enough to have the chance.

2. NBA: Celtics, Warriors take series Game 1s: Celtics routed top-seeded Bucks in Milwaukee on Sunday, while the Warriors and the referees beat the Rockets out west to both take Game 1s of their conference semifinal series. Raptors had previously had won their Game 1 over 76ers. Nuggets-Trail Blazers Game 1 is tonight. Overarching questions: Can Greek Freak lead the Bucks back? And are champion Warriors as vulnerable as they seem?

3. NFL: Kyler Murray, Giants' reach talk of draft: Arizona selected QB Kyler Murray No. 1 overall as expected (leading to Miami getting Josh Rosen in a trade), but the surprise of the first round had to be the Giants taking Duke QB Daniel Jones sixth overall. Huh? Wha! Jones was thought to be a second-round pick, maybe even a third. Somebody give Giants GM Dave Gettleman a Breathalyzer test.

Willis4. HURRICANES: Five Canes drafted -- but no Willis: UM guys drafted, all on Day 3, were S Sheldrick Redwine (4R/Browns), CB Michael Jackson (5/Cowboys), DE Joe Jackson (5/Cowboys), S Jaquan Johnson (6/Bills) and RB Travis Homer (6/Seahawks). Astonishingly missing: DT Gerald Willis III, who some pegged as a 2nd round talent, and who was quickly signed as a free agent by Ravens.

5. MARLINS: So much for that brief hot warm streak: Fish had won four of past six games before losing last three in a row in Philly to fall to an MLB-worst 8-20. Marlins welcome Cleveland on Tuesday as they return home, large, adoring crowds will surely be waiting (!).

6. NHL: It's down to eight for the Stanley Cup: We're early in the conference semifinals for the NHL's last eight teams skating and on Sunday Carolina took a 2-0 seriess lead over the Islanders while the Avalanche tied the Sharks 1-1 in their series. Notably, no Canadian teams are left, so the sad streak continues: No Stanley Cup since 1993 for the nation that invented hockey.

F17. AUTO RACING: Miami loses Formula One race: Miami has held up an Unwelcome sign to Formula One, and so the Miami Grand Prix ain't happening. A planned race in 2020 is being scrapped due to delays in approval by lawmakers, after a planned race in 2019 was erased by complaints from residents about the proposed 2.6-mile track running down Biscayne Boulevard and through Bayfront Park. On top of the recent news Homestead was losing its NASCAR season-finale championship race -- another blow to local motorsports fans.

8.HORSE RACING: It's Derby Week in America!: Triple Crown season in thoroughbred racing kicks off in six days with next Saturday's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Omaha Beach and Roadster are co-betting favorites at 7-2 odds, but Florida Derby winner Maximum Security is climbing and now is fourth fave at 6-1. Go Max! 

9. CANES BASEBALL: UM ranked and movin' up after sweep: UM baseball is 31-14, ranked No. 24 in the polls and sure to move up in next ranking after Sunday completing a three-game home sweep of Virginia Tech. After a rough patch or two, first-year coach Gino DiMare has his machine humming.

10. RUNNING: Miami Corporate Run draws 27K: The annual Miami Corporate Run drew 26,698 pavement pounders from 882 companies, and the men's and women's winners were Dan Nestor and Ana Villegas. It was believed to be the first time in he history of running that a footrace was not won by somebody from Kenya.

Missing the HB10 cut: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been in the big leagues about a minute and a half and I'm already getting tired of the hype ..... UFC Fort Lauderdale (Fight Night 150) went off Saturday night at Sunrise arena, with ex-NFL player Greg Hardy winning a round 1 knockout ..... How can a Chiefs fan -- how could any fan -- ever cheer for Tyreek Hill again? ..... Heat's Goran Dragic hasn't decided whether to opt-in for $19.2 million. Hassan Whiteside also faces that option at $27.2M. If both opt in, Miami will be over salary cap before it makes any moves ..... Clemson's Dabo Swinney is now the highest paid coach in college football. Anybody wanna start a GoFundMe page for poor Nick Saban? ..... National champion Virginia men's basketball has declined to be honored at the White House. Isn't this where Trump claims they weren't invited to begin with? ..... Anybody else believe Tiger Woods has yet to take off that green jacket and even showers in it? ..... Champions League semifinals commence with first leg of Tottenham-Ajax on Tuesday. The sexier other semi: Liverpool-Barcelona ..... That reminds me. Cannot wait for Watford to stun Manchester City at Wembley in the May 18 FA Cup final. Go Hornets! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,611 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup ..... R.I.P., John Havlicek. Hondo.

Other most recent columns: Dolphins at 13: Twice Lucky, One Horrific Tragedy / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Le Batard Takes Miami To Manhattan / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / And our Dwyane Wade Week trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is Bereft / Wade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star / And Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

Select other columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 09, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No.1 this week and what else falls where; plus your World Cup rooting-interest verdict, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 9. Surprise the Dolfans in your life. Give them our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): World Cup final-8 poll, LeBron to Lakers poll, the president and the press & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

I'm back!: Missed new columns from me lately? It's because I was on vacation last week. I'll be back with a new column later today. Meantime, our most recent columns: LeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth Applauding. Our four other columns from the past week: LeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-OnMLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town).

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. WORLD CUP: Unorthodox final four set to go!: It'll be neighbors France vs. Belgium on Tuesday and then England vs. Croatia on Wednesday in World Cup semifinal matches from Russia. No Brazil or anybody else from South America left. No world No. 1 Germany. Italy didn't even qualify. And no surviving team has won it all in at least 20 years. No matter the results from here, the 2018 World Cup will have been nothing if not ... refreshingly different. 

2. TENNIS: Top-seed Halep out as Wimbledon reaches midpoint: Unseeded Su-Wei Hsieh stunned No. 1-seed Simona Halelp as the forthnight at Wimbledon bounced to halftime with upsets galore on the women's side. Meantime her nanny revealed that new mom Serena Williams, still in play, missed her baby's first steps while practicing in London. Ouch. Onus now on Serena to win her first post-pregnancy major to make up for the missed milestone.

3. MARLINS: Realmuto an all-star; Fish ready to ride homestand to break: After closing victoriously at Washington Sunday the Marlins have a six-game homestand starting tonight to carry them into the midseason break for the July 17 All-Star Game. Catcher J.T. Realmuto will be the Marlins' lone representative in the ASG, selected as a reserve Sunday evening.

4. DOLPHINS: Low grade for Fins as camp nears: Oy! With Dolphins training camp poised to start in six days with rookies reporting, Miami's offseason is graded a C-minus in an ESPN ranking of how all 32 NFL teams have done. Only two teams (Carolina and Detroit) are graded lower.

5. MLB: All-Stars announced on Sunday: The selection show for the July 17 All-Star Game was last evening on ESPN. No Marlins were voted in, but catcher J.T. Reamuto made it as a reserve. Now comes a few days of baseball writers chewing over their list of top "snubs." (Bor-ring!)

6. NBA: Is LeBron-as-Laker any closer to crown?: LeBron James going to L.A. seemed a huge deal, but then champ Golden State also got better in summer free agency, and now one wonders if LeBron is any closer to what he wants now than he was in Cleveland. The answer may lie in the biggest offseason prize left: Kawhi Leonard. Will the Spurs trade him? And to whom?

7. HEAT: Miami continues in Summer League play: Quiet on the free agency front, the Heat are now 0-2 in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas after going 2-1 in Sacramento. Miami next faces Utah on Tuesday. Derrick Jones Jr. has been tearin' it up. Um, can we even pretend we really care?

8. NASCAR: Jones survived wreck-o-rama: Erik Jones didn't so much win as survive a wreck-filled race at Daytona for his first NASCAR title. Meantime Brad Keselowski vowed to wreck blockers moving forward. By the time the race finished it felt like there'd been more yellow flags than cars left on the track. 

9. UFC: Cormier wins heavyweight title: Daniel Cormier defeated Stipe Miocic to win the heavyweight championship at UFC 226. The obvious question arising from the bout? Who on Earth names their baby boy "Stipe"?

10. THAI RESCUE: Cave rescues begin: The first four boys have been removed from that flooded cave in Thailand. A soccer team and their coach have been trapped. I just bet big that they'll be honored on the ESPY Awards. There's a wager for everything, isn't there!

Missing the HB10 cut: Scandal rocks the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest! Apparently some of the totals were suspect. No wonder. You couldn't pay me enough to judge that mess. I get nauseous just watching ..... The Big3 basketball league is back. Some things you can't stop no matter how hard you try ..... The Tour de France is underway. Gentlemen, start your PEDs? ..... The British Open is in 11 days. You know it's a slow time on the sports calendar when we're counting down to the British Open ..... Update. Countdown now 2,906 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

EnglandPOLL RESULT: YOUR WORLD CUP ROOTING INTEREST? ENGLAND ALL THE WAY!: With the World Cup down to its final eight teams (before the paring to four), we asked, "Which of the final eight teams do you hope wins it all?" Your results, among the four surviving teams: England with 32.89 percent, Belgium 14.91%, France 9.18% and Croatia 8.60%. Among the now-eliminated teams it was Brazil 11.47%, Uruguay 10.90%, Russia 6.12% and Sweden 5.93%. Considering it was a combined 65.58% for the surviving teams and 34.42% for the ousted ... you got the final four you wanted.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): WILL BRINSON EVER GET TO .200?Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .852   86  337  52  90   51  17-1-21     .267

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .821   74  281  55  80   36  12-2-11     .285

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .714   85 331  36  91   47   9-1-10      .275

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .570   84  290  22  54   30   6-4-10     .186

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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.

Other select more recent columnsCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursEnd the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinTannehill's Defining SeasonHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris. (For our column page, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 28, 2018

Memorial Day: With reverent thanks, our annual tribute video; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else lands where; also, Roger Goodell's Hell Week (newest column), 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MAY 28. It is Memorial Day. To all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and their loves ones: Thank you! 2) Flabbergast and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Case for Canes baseball to make NCAAs, NFL's new anthem policy aims to hide truth, your verdict on Tannehill & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest Sunday column: Roger Goodell's Hell Week: Why NFL's new national-anthem policy is blowing up in commissioner's face is topic of my latest column. To read: Hell Week For Goodell. Other recent columns: NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim MorrisNBA Rolling A Pair of 7s / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

Memorial dayMEMORIAL DAY: OUR ANNUAL TRIBUTE VIDEO: On Memorial Day, today, we honor the fallen heroes who deserve our remembrance and thanks every day. They are the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. military. This video is a song, "50,000 Names," by the country legend George Jones, about Vietnam losses and that war's memorial wall. But the sentiment applies to all military action over the years right through to the post-9/11 conflicts and the war on terrorism. This video is sentimental, unabashedly so. If you lost a loved one in action, this is for you:

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. NBA: LeBron comes through again, reaches Finals again: It was Cleveland and LeBron James winning in Boston  last night and Golden State at Houston tonight in the NBA's first pair of conference-finals Game 7s since 1979. Is anyone out there -- anybody -- still doubting LeBron!? BY the way, when the Celtics led 2-0 and the West was tied 1-1, I wrote in this column that the two Game 7s would happen. Most of you laughed. Well ... you're welcome

2. NFL: New anthem-protest policy is polarizing (of course): Commissioner Roger Goodell revealed a new national anthem protest policy that mandates all players on the field stand during the anthem or be subject to fines, with players who don't wish to stand confined to staying in their lockerooms, hidden from sight. President Trump likes the league's new policy. Fans of freedom of expression ... not so much.

3. DOLPHINS: Tannehill back as Fins begin offseason work: The return to the field of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, after a season lost to injury, took center stage as the Fins completed their first three offseason OTA practices, with the next ones coming up this Tuesday though Thursday. Next big deal: A mandatory June 5-7 minicamp. "Can Tannehill stay healthy?" is a reasonable question. So is this: "Can he raise his game and be better than ever?"

4. UM BASEBALL: Denied! Canes, Morris don't get Monday miracle on NCAAs: Going 1-1 in the ACC Tournament after a 27-25 regular season wasn't enough to earn the Canes an NCAA Tournament bid when the field of 64 was announced earler today. It would have taken an answered prayer for coach Jim Morris to make the national playoffs for one last shot at a College World Series title in his final season. Alas, he's done with no last shot at Omaha.  

5. MARLINS: Return of Hanley Ramirez? Um, don't count on it: Fire-Sale Fish are 19-33 after being swept at home by Washington, and now are out on a 10-game road trip. There's Hanley Ramirez chatter since the Red Sox announced they're parting ways, but don't expect his return. Hanley is 34, batting .254 and in a role (1B/DH) the Marlins can't use. Another big factor why he won't be signed: Would cost money.

6. NHL: Vegas-Washington Finals begins Monday: Normally Washington, yet to win a Stanley Cup in 43 franchise years, would get to be Lovable Underdog in this unorthodox Stanley Cup Finals that begins tonight out west. But not here. Not when the expansion Vegas Golden Knights aim to be the first first-year franchise ever to win a championship in any of America's Big Four team sports. Fans of hockey's Original Six teams are looking at this matchup and weeping softly. 

7. TENNIS: Serena back on major stage as French Open begins: Year's second tennis major began Sunday at Roland-Garros in Paris with defending champ Rafael Nadal, King of Clay, the clear men's favorite again. Simona Halep narrowly tops a far more unpredictable women's field that also will see Serena Williams play in her first major since giving birth. Serena is unseeded because the WTA, in effect, penalizes women for being out on maternity leave. (Aside to WTA: It's the 21st Century now. Join us, won't you!)

8. SOCCER: Real Madrid wins Champions League (again): Real Madrid bounced Liverpool 3-1 on Saturday to win the UEFA Champions League title for the third straight year, led by Gareth Bale's two goals including a gorgeous bicycle kick. We'll all forget it in 18 days when the World Cup starts. But, for now, Real is the real deal. Again.

9. AUTO RACING: Power wins INdy 500 in Danica's last ride: The fabulously named Will Power won the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday in the final career ride for Danica Patrick, which ended in an early crash. The big day for motorsports also included the Coca-Cola 600, but, sorry NASCAR, this was the one day of the year when IndyCar racing glommed the spotlight.

10. MEMORIAL DAY: Thanks to those who made ultimate sacrifice: Not to nitpick, but please don't cheerily say "Happy Memorial Day!" as if you have no idea what this holiday of remembrance is about. It also is not the occasion to thank a veteran for his or her service. This is to honor our fallen war dead. So: Have a somber, reflective Memorial Day!   

Missing the HB10 cut: There is speculation David Beckham's new Miami MLS team will be nicknamed Freedom. Right now, I'd preferred it be called, "Get a damned stadium built first!" ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee finals are this coming Thursday, when I'll be reminded again how many 10-year-olds are smarter than me ..... Countdown 15 days 'til Justify goes for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes. Break a leg! No, wait. That's just for actors. Sorry ..... Are Harry and Meghan still married? ..... ESPN's third annual World Fame 100 came out, listing the globe's most famous athletes. They lost me at the ping-pong player. I wish were kidding.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': YELICH OVERTAKES STANTONThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .838   42  167   30  51   23   8-2-5      .305

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .800   50 195  34  48   28  10-1-11      .246

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .651   46 189  19  50   23   6-0-3      .265

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .474   50  177  11  28   17    2-0-6     .158

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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.

For our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 03, 2018

Ranking Miami/SoFla's Top 25 Sports Figures in 2018. New column!; plus thank you, APSE: 3 ways I'm grateful, and 1 reason it doesn't matter; also, Magic City for one night & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 3. Happy to be done with sad February. Welcome, new month! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): This is week Dolphins must find their future, latest Back In My Day video (Uber!) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeRANKING MIAMI/SOFLA'S 2018 TOP 25 SPORTS FIGURES: I last did one of these in late 2015 and man has a lot changed around here in two-plus years. Does Dwyane Wade hang on to No. 1? Where do newcomers Derek Jeter and David Beckham land? Who's the top Dolphin? You're a click away from all of those answers and many more. For the column and full list, click Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

Our most recent other columns:  For One Night: Magic City  /  Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking? And our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

THANK YOU, APSE: THREE WAYS I'M GRATEFUL, AND ONE REASON IT DOESN'T MATTER: Yesterday the Associated Press Sports Editors completed its annual contest judging, and look who turned up as Top 10 in column writing. Yep, me. The five columns the Miami Herald entered for me are listed below. I'd like to tell you three reasons why I'm honored by this, and one reason why it doesn't matter:

Apse(*) I'm honored because the APSE awards are to written sports journalism what the Oscars are to actors. It's national. It's the big prize. And in my case, the Miami Herald is in the major-outlet category (over-175,000 circulation), and so our competition is the likes of the New York Times, Boston Globe, USA Today, L.A. Times and ESPN.com. It was me against the giants, so it pleases me to be placed in their company. (By the way, I laughed out loud the first time I saw on Twitter that, in my case, some joked that they thought "over 175,000" was an age category. Funny!).

(*) I'm honored because variety is the thing I like most about my job. I have been a beat writer who covers the same team every day, and, for me, it got boring. Column writing presents me a blank palette, more freedom to roam. I go for variety in my subject matter, and so it was very pleasing to me that of the five 2017 columns chosen by my boss to enter in the contest, none were standard Dolphins/Heat/UM football fare. All were off the beaten path to a degree.

(*) And I'm honored because the columns of mine that got me in the top 10 offer a little bit of a lesson, I think, for the evolving newspaper business, which, in its increasing and understandable emphasis on the digital product over the print product, is increasingly obsessed with writing only stuff that generates a lot of online "clicks," and eliminating subject matter that does not. I think most of my five winning columns were probably not click monsters, but resonated very much with those who did read them. Sometimes, that still needs to be enough.

(*) Now, why it doesn't matter is because of the capriciousness of contests and judging, the randomness of it. I have always believed that about writing awards; now I can say it without it sounding like sour grapes. There is no validation here. I have had better years and better columns, but got lucky that these five happened to resonate with enough judges who liked them. Hundreds of sports writers who've never been handed a plaque are doing good work every year, every day. Keep it up, brothers and sisters, because it's always about readers, not judges.

Thanks to all of our readers, listeners, followers, clickers and thinkers -- especially those loyal long-timers. Now here are the five 2017 columns that happened to win for me:

March 1: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing.

April 22: Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose.

May 15: NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering.

July 24: What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer.

October 1: With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameThe Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 29, 2017

Respect and gratitude: Memorial Day 2017 (with video); plus updated Hot Button Top 10: See what falls where among UM baseball denied, NBA, Tiger arrest, Marlins, Fins, NHL; also, my Sunday column, Gregg Allman, most-wins verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Gallman1) It is MONDAY, May 29. R.I.P., Gregg Allman, pictured right, gone at 69. 2) Click BIMD: Senior Discounts to watch my latest Back In My Day video from this past week's LeBatard Show. 3) Know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins vs. Canes most-wins poll, UM baseball reaches ACC semifinals, Fish vs. Trout, World OutGames Miami scandal & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: Golden State, LeBron on history's doorstep: For the Warriors as a team or LeBron James as a player, this NBA Finals is going to leave one of them looking a lot like the best there ever was. Click on History Calling Warriors, LeBron for my new Sunday column.

MemdayMEMORIAL DAY 2017: RESPECT AND GRATITUDE: Ultimate respect and thanks on this Memorial Day 2017 for the thousands of Americans who have lost their lives fighting in our armed forces --fighting for us -- over our centuries of freedom. If someone should wish you a "happy Memorial Day" today, or mistake Memorial Day for Veterans Day, please politely correct them. This holiday is one of reflection, and gratitude, for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Every Memorial Day in my blog I present George Jones' 2002 video of his song, "50,000 Names." The song is about the Vietnam Memorial, but, more broadly, it is about the ultimate cost of freedom that we honor on this day. If you lost a loved one in military combat, this is for you:

Hot Button Top 10 going on holiday: Because of vacation, this will be the last Hot Button Top 10 for a little while. We'll be off the next two Sundays and return June 18.

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, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Finally, it's on! The inevitable Warriors-Cavs Finals begins: It's the Golden State-Cleveland trilogy, LeBron-Steph III, and the rubber-match series begins Thursday night. Now all it has to be is the greatest Finals ever ending in a triple-overtime Game 7 to live up to expectations.

2. MARLINS: Can long homestand help fading Fish save season?: Miami hopes its current 10-game homestand, longest of the year (off to a 2-1 start), will help the Marlins start to turn around a sinking season. Fish thought that last time, too, just before the previous homestand in which they went 1-8. Now, tonight Marlins go for first two-game win streak since April 22-23.

3. UM BASEBALL: Canes denied NCAA bid, record streak ends!: UM went 2-1 in ACC Tournament with Saturdays' 12-4 semifinal loss in Louisville to North Carolina. That should have been enough, I thought, to earn an NCAA bid for record 45th consecutive year in Monday's selection show. Instead, UM was ddenied so the streak ends. Perspective: Canes' last time not in an NCAA Regional predated Dolphins' Perfect Season.

4. DOLPHINS: Another round of OTAs on deck: The next of the Fins' offseason “organized team activity” days are this Tuesday through Thursday. You know you're a football fan if you care about your team's no-pads, limited-hitting practices 3 ½ months before the season starts. otas wrap up june 5-8.

5. NHL: It's Nashville and Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup: Puck drops on Game 1 Monday. Pittsburgh has won four Stanley Cups including last season. Nashville is going for its first ever. Unless you live in western Pennsylvania, if you aren't rooting for the Predators, something's wrong with you.

6. MOTORSPORTS: Japan's Sato stuns in Indianapolis 500 goes: IndyCar racing owned the motorsport stage Sunday and delivered a surprise as journeyman driver Takuma Sato won the 101st "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Tokyo-born Sato, 40, was four years past his only previous IndyCar win. Bac home, he's Ichiro for a day!

7. TIGER WOODS: Woods arrested for DUI: The downward spiral of Tiger Woods sees a new chapter today following his overnight arrest for DUI in his hometown of Jupiter. The once-dominant golfer, recovering from back surgery, was booked at 7:18 a.m. and released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m. Pictured right from his booking photo: The new face of drunk.

8. TENNIS: French Open gets underway in Paris: A tennis tradition since 1891, French Open finds Rafael Nadal the clear men's favorite (he won today), but the women's side wide open, especially with No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber's shocking loss in first round Sunday. With neither Serena Williams nor Maria Sharapova playing, no Roger Federer, either, and now Kerber out, this major has taken a major hit in starpower.

9. SOCCER: Arsenal wins FA Cup final: Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 Saturday to win England's FA Cup. Call it an international soccer appetizer for the June 3 UEFA Champions League final in Wales as Real Madrid defends its European crown vs. Juventus.

10. WORLD OUTGAMES: Miami LGBTQ sporting event mired in scandal: The World OutGames Miami, set to have begun with an Opening Ceremony on Saturday, collapsed under a fraud investigation that canceled almost all athletic events. Was this thing being run by Fyre Festival promoters and Ja Rule or what!?

Missing the HB10 cut: Sailing's 35th America's Cup is underway in Bermuda. Quick tip for helmsmen: Avoid the Triangle ..... FAU reached C-USA baseball semifinals before losing Saturday. That and an 18-12 season could sneak Owls into NCAA Tournament. Give a hoot! ..... NASL's Miami FC faces Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday in next round of U.S. Open Cup. Am starting a GoFundMe campaign to buy Miami FC a nickname ..... Congrats, Canada! This makes it 23 straight seasons without a Stanley Cup ..... Sunrise arena will host WWE Summer Slam on June 9. Wonder who's scheduled to win? ..... Belmont Stakes coming up June 10, but, with no Triple Crown in play, not even Belmont cares ..... MLB Draft is set for June 12. Note to MLB: I know you're jealous that the NFL and NBA drafts get much more attention. Quick thought, baseball: Try having fewer than 4,687 rounds ..... R.I.P., Jim Bunning, workhorse pitcher from a day when starting pitchers actually completed games ..... Michael Vick wants a one-day contract to retire as a Falcon. And he should, doggone it!

POLL RESULT: UM FOOTBALL WILL OUT-WIN DOLPHINS IN 2017: We asked who is more likely to win the most games this coming season, and by not quote a 2-to-1 margin you had it 58.8 percent Hurricanes and 30.5% Dolphins. The other 10.7% answered, "Dead even. Got a coin?"

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-29-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA baseball selection show, noon: Hurricanes learn if streak stays alive with at-large bid.

2. Stanley Cup Finals, 8 pm.: Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of NHL Finals. 

3. Philadelphia at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish 10-game homestand continues vs. NL East rivals.

4. French Open, 11 a.m.: Men's favorite Rafael Nadal among those debuting in 1st-round matches.

[Note: NBA Finals start Thursday June 1].

THE LIST: DOLPHINS NO. 1 PICKS ON DEFENSE: When I wrote recently that the Dolphins hope Charles Harris is their best No. 1 draft choice on defense in more than 20 years, here is what I meant. Miami's 10 most recent first-round picks on D prior to Harris:

Year    Player                        Results

(Results numbers are seasons, starts and Pro Bowls with Dolphins)

2013   Dion Jordan, DE          2-1-0

2010   Jared Odrick, DE         5-41-0

2009   Vontae Davis, DB         3-36-0*

2006   Jason Allen, DB           4-19-0

2001   Jamar Fletcher, DB      3-6-0

1996   Daryl Gardener, DT     6-77-0

1994   Tim Bowens, DT         11-155-2

1992   Troy Vincent, DB         4-55-0* 

1988   Eric Kumerow, DE       3-0-0

1987   John Bosa, DE            3-21-0

*-Davis and Vincent both made Pro Bowls, but not until after leaving Dolphins.

Select other recent columns: Harris Vs. Fins' Draft Drought: High hopes for top pick Charles Harris. What's Next, Marlins?: Easy to say blow up the Fish, but harder (and not smart) to do. Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse: Fish fans deserve a medal. Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 22, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Celtics stunna, horses, Fish, Fins -- see what falls where, with some surprises, exclusively here; plus our Marlins column, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, May 22. Happy birthday weekend to my eldest son, Christopher! You grew up good, kid. We love you! 2) Our latest Back in My Day video: Click on BIMD: Gas Jockeys to watch. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Analyzing Whiteside's All-NBA snub, your preferred NBA Finals verdict, The List (Heat draft), Chuck Berry's first-ever video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column: Another tortured season for cursed Marlins fans: Reeling Fish have lost 20 of past 25 and have second-worst record in baseball. Now the sale of the team to the Bush/Jeter group may be collapsing. Marlins fans -- the diehards, the ones who don't quit -- deserve a medal. Click on Awful Team Continues Marlins Curse for my latest Sunday column.

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, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Celtics win, but nothing will stop a LeBron-Steph rematch Finals: OK, well, yes, technically, I suppose the Boston Celtics or San Antonio Spurs could. Butu who are we kidding? Spurs now down 3-0, and Celtics still down 2-1 with Isiah Thomas out even after last night's last-second win after once trailing by 21. (Don't get your hopes up, Beantown). Can't LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers and Steph Curry's Golden State Warriors just start the Finals right now?

2. HORSE RACING: Longshot Cloud Computing stuns in the Preakness: Cloud Computing, a 13-1 longshot, won the 142nd Preakness Stakes on Saturday, taking a Triple Crown off the table for 2017 as Derby champ Always Dreaming (owned by Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola) faded Panthers-like to eighth place.

3. MARLINS: Little smells worse than stinking, rotting Fish: They finally won on Saturday; even so, after a wretched 1-8 homestand, Miami is 1-3 on latest road swing and has lost 20 of its past 25 games to sink to the second-worst record in MLB. Should be quite the festive mood as the stinkin' Fish host that All-Star Week, huh?

4. DOLPHINS: Fins set offseason practice schedule: Fins Weekend, the golf/fishing fundraiser, ended Saturday. Meanwhile the Dolphins announced 10 OTA practice days would take place this week (May 23-25) and then May 30-June 1 and June 5-8. OTA stands for “organized team activities,” which sounds like summer camp when you'd make log cabins of popsicle sticks.

5. UM BASEBALL: Canes open ACC tourney on Tuesday: Canes ended a disappointing regular season on the upswing Saturday with a sweep of Virginia Tech and the season's first  four-game win streak. Now, though, UM must come up huge in this week's ACC Tournament in Louisville for any chance to continue its record NCAA playoff streak. Hurricanes open Tuesday at 11 a.m. vs. Georgia Tech.

6. NHL: Can Ottawa and Nashville get off the schneid?: Anaheim has won a Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh has won four, including last year's. The other two conference finals teams, Ottawa and Nashville, have won zero in a combined 42 seasons. So there's your rooting interest, puckheads. (Ottawa is down 3-2 but Nashville can advance with win tonight). 

7. AUTO RACING: Pole to Dixon in Indy 500 qualifying: Weekend qualifying that wrapped up Sunday set the field for next week's Indianapolis 500, with Scott Dixon on the pole after the fastest qualifying lap in 21 years. The Indy 500: the one day of the year IndyCar racing owns the motorsports stage and king NASCAR must curtsy.

8. HEAT: Can Spo avoid a complete awards whitewash for Miami?: No Heat player made All-NBA first, second or third teams -- no surprise, although thought Hassan Whiteside might have snuck onto the third. No Heat players is a top-three finalists for any postseason award, either. But! Erik Spoelstra made the final three for Coach of the Year, at least.

9. SAILING: America's Cup sets sail in four days: Biggest event in sailing, the month-long America's Cup, begins this coming Friday in Bermuda. Weird choice for host, no? Ever heard of the Bermuda Triangle? Stay out of it, fellas!

10. SOCCER: Miami FC advances in U.S. Open up: The 104th annual all-comers tournament for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has reached the round of 32 with NASL's Miami FC still alive. Local lads next face USL's Tampa Bay Rowdies May 31.

Missing the HB10 cut: The World OutGames Miami, Olympics-style competition aimed at athletes from the LGBT community, kicks off this coming Friday and runs through June 4 ..... Tennis' French Open begins this coming Sunday, but with Serena Williams out pregnant and Roger Federer skipping it, call it the Semi-French ..... Heat didn't get lucky in NBA draft lottery and will pick 14th next month. Still, only four times in Pat Riley era has Miami picked higher ..... Conor McGregor has signed on. Now if they'll offer Floyd Mayweather a ton more, we might have actually have a fight someday! ..... WNBA season is underway. Note to self: Start paying attention, a little, in the playoffs. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-22-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 9 p.m.: Warriors up 3-0 seek to sweep Spurs in G4 of Western finals in San Antonio.

2. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Nashville, up 3-2 and home, tries to close out Anaheim in G6 of Western finals.

[Note: Marlins off today before continuing West Coast roadie in Oakland].

Select recent other columns: Big Risk For Big Upside: On chance Heat could land Harry Giles in NBA Draft. NFL's Moral Obligation: League must do more for brain-injury sufferers like Buoniconti and Kiick. LeBron And Steph To the Rescue: How a third straight Warriors-Cavs Finals will save a lopsided postseason. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs: Explaining dichotomy of opinion on Fins. On The Team's Terms, Not His: What it would take for a Heat/Dwyane Wade reunion. Not In Our Stadium: N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa: Why Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons: Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami: Bush/Jeter group as frontrunner to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose: Controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy: Suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall: Tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph: strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?: A curiously unemployed QB. Also: Thank You, Mae Riback, A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Show us the way, Edwin Pope, Falcons-Patriots SB, Women's March, Juan Pablo Montoya & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 23. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page, debuting today. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Remembering Edwin Pope, NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside battered in all-star voting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl!: Click on Championship Game Gems for yesterday's Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots NFC and AFC title-game picks, and on A Dramatic Final Four for my preview column.

Montoya wins historic Miami Race Of Champions: Historic? The 28th annual ROC had never before been held in the U.S. before Saturday's race in Miami, on a racetrack built inside Marlins Park. And Miami driver Juan Pablo Montoya won. Crazy, one-of-a kind day. Click on Home Run For Montoya, Miami for my column from the race.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. EDWIN POPE: Herald sports icon dies at 88: If you are from South Florida, are aware life existed before ESPN SportsCenter or have ever held a newspaper in your hands, then you probably said or thought last week, “I grew up reading Edwin Pope.” Thank you, kind sir, friend, colleague and mentor. R.I.P. 

2. NFL: Championship Sunday gives us a Falcons-Pats Super Bowl: Atlanta walloped Green Bay and New England dispatched Pittsburgh on Sunday for the NFC and AFC titles to reach Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston. The blowout games were decided by 23- and 19-point margins. The challenge? For the Super Bowl to be better. You know, an actual good game?

3. WOMEN'S MARCH: Women lead world's biggest protest march. Ever: Estimates are more than 4 million women worldwide including more than 500,000 in Washington, D.C. marched Saturday to protest Donald Trump and stand up for the freedoms and rights. Hmm. Impressive. But can't help but wonder: If that same passion and numbers had participated in the election, would there have been a need to march?

4. MOTORSPORTS: Montoya wins Race of Champions at Marlins Park: Most different, unique sporting event in Miami history? You could do worse than nominating NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One stars racing against each other inside a baseball stadium this weekend in the ROC series' first U.S. appearance. Miami won twice as hometown driver Juan Pablo Montoya won Saturday's main event.

5. HEAT: Three straight wins in a lost season as trade deadline looms: Good news? Miami has its first three-game win streak of season. Bad news? Everything else. Record is still only 14-30 and streak is unlikely to reach four as Heat host Golden State tonight. Be honest. The most compelling things left in this lost season are the two dates for the trade deadline and draft lottery.

6. MARLINS: Fish acquire quality starting pitcher: The latest aftershock of the Jose Fernandez tragedy: Miami dealt three prospects to Cincinnati for righty starter Dan Straily, who was 14-8 in 31 starts for Reds last year.

7. BASEBALL: Two ex-Marlins elected to Hall of Fame: Pudge Rodriguez, of course, had a starring role in helping Marlins win the 2003 World Series. But count yourself a real Fish fan if you also recall that, the year before, Tim Raines ended his 23-year career as a reserve here.

8. TENNIS: Both No. 1 seeds out as Australian Open enters final week: No. 1 seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both were ousted the same day, the first time in the modern era the Australian Open has lost both No. 1s before the quarterfinals. An even bigger shock: Why wasn't Serena Williams No. 1?

9. PANTHERS: Three straight losses, but Florida still in playoff hunt: As NHL all-star break looms, Cats have cooled off with three straight losses but lurk only two points off playoff in Eastern Conference. Still, when you were talking Stanley Cup and are scrambling for an eighth seed -- that's a disappointing season.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Tough stretch for Canes men, women: Miami's No. 14-ranked women have lost three of past six. The men have dropped four of past five  after Saturday's loss at Duke. Better snap out of it fast, Team Larranaga. No. 9 North Carolina visits in five days.

Missing the HB10 cut: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich devoted seven minutes of a news conference Saturday to a pro-women's march, anti-Donald Trump soliloquy, pretty brave for a man who lives and works in Texas. It's enough to make me root for a Spurs championship just to see if he gets a White House invite, or goes ..... Former Marlins ace Josh Johnson retired at 32 from elbow issues, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago ..... Prior to Bellator 170, Chael Sonnen talked trash. Tito Ortiz made his statement in the fight ..... A 25-year-old dunce from Boston was arrested for pulling a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. Put him in a room alone with James Harrison for 20 minutes ..... Saw the headline, 'Beagle scores in OT as Capitals beat Stars,' and thought, "Wow, what a great story!" But it turned out to be a guy named Jay Beagle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Florida Panthers owner and Trump nominee for Secretary of the Army Vinnie Viola once was accused of punching a man in the face at a horse auction."

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 21, 2017

Remembering an epic life and personal hero: Edwin Pope, 1928-2017, R.I.P.; plus NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside collect further disrespect, Women's March, Race Of Champions & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 21. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Edwin Pope dies, Kiper's mock draft for Dolphins, two ex-Marlins make Hall, cowardly Goodell, your Super Bowl preference, BIMD video (The Circus) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Women's March on Washington: Much respect to the hundreds of thousands participating today in the Women's March in D.C., a grass-roots stand-up for freedoms and rights. Proud to say my wife, and many others I know, are among them.

Race Of Champions: The ROC series is in the U.S. for first time today in Miami, with stars from NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One all racing together inside Marlins Park. I like big events and am a curiosity seeker, so I'll be there columnizing.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, my latest column, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald legend. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

TO A MONUMENTAL CAREER, AN EPIC LIFE AND A CHERISHED MENTOR: THANK YOU, EDWIN POPE: [Blog note: I rarely do this. I link to columns of mine, but rarely reprint them in their entirety here in the blog. But the death of my great friend and mentor, last night at age 88, is too important to me to not share as broadly as I can. So here is my tribute column]:

Epope
The Edwin I first knew, circa mid-'70s

"I grew up reading Edwin Pope." How many generations in South Florida will be saying that, thinking it, feeling it today? I was coming of age as a sports fan who hadn’t yet discovered he was interested in writing when Pope was at the peak of his powers, and reading him kindled and sparked something in me.

What it did was give me a future, a passion, a career.

Thank you, Edwin. For your inspiration, your talent, your grace, your mentorship and your friendship.Thank you so much.

South Florida and the Miami Herald have lost a giant with the passing of Edwin Pope at age 88. Newspapering and sports journalism and the craft of putting words in just the right order have all lost a giant.

Edwin came to the Herald in 1956 in his late 20s. He was sports editor and main sports columnist from 1967 until he retired in 2003, though still writing occasionally the next several years until age and Alzheimer’s dictated otherwise. I loathe the frivolous overuse of words like "legend," but the superlative has not yet been invented that can properly describe the epic arc of Pope’s career chronicling Miami sports.

From the black and white days of Cassius Clay in the 5th Street Gym to the Heat drafting some kid named Dwyane Wade — and everything in between — Edwin was the eyes and ears for South Florida sports fans, the rhyme and the reason.

He reigned before ESPN "SportsCenter" and before the Internet changed everything, putting news and opinion everywhere, and right now, diminishing the influence of the local newspaper. He reigned when "the paper" thudded onto front lawns every morning, up and down your block, and you turned to the sports section first to see what Pope had to say.

Dan LeBatard and I tried to replace him when he left. We never had a chance. Voices are everywhere, but there is no replacing Sinatra. Pope ends an era.

I felt smarter, as a teenager, when I read Edwin. There might be a word (or three) in every column that sent me to the dictionary. I liked that. He never talked down to readers. It’s a concept that has informed my own writing.

Edwin wrote with poetic elan. He told stories. He could make the scene on a racetrack’s backstretch as interesting as the horse race itself. You smelled the hay. You closed your eyes and saw the groom mucking-out the stable.

Epope2
Edwin in his career's latter stage

Edwin also could be direct. When he wanted a column to throw a punch, it landed.

When Lou Saban abruptly left the University of Miami football team after only two years following the 1978 season to coach at West Point, the lead to Pope’s column was: "You wanted a deserter, Army? You got one."

Edwin didn’t tap-dance into a column or, in the parlance of a former editor of ours, "clear his throat." He got to it. He was concise. He didn’t overwrite, either in style or length. He valued his readers too much to waste their time.

He was like that off the page, too.

He was a gentle man, but one whose humor could be sharp, and bite.

He’d had a stormy relationship with Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, and once kidded the only thing wrong with the name of the stadium was that it wasn’t Joe Robbie Memorial Stadium. (At least I think he was kidding.)

Edwin commanded utmost respect in press boxes. He was the dean, the monarch, the legend. If the clatter got too noisy too close to deadline, Edwin eventually would raise a hand and loudly snap, "Quiet!" and the room would shut up. He didn’t have to say it twice.

You didn’t want to be a waiter who ignored Edwin once too often when he was fishing for another drink.

"What’s a man got to do to get another Heinekin around here!?!" he once stood and loudly squawked from our table in some far-flung city after some game, Southern drawl lifting into a high pitch.

Epopejoelouis
A favorite photo of his: A young Edwin Pope with boxer Joe Louis

Edwin was a drinker. May I say that? We had a good time on the many road trips we took together.

I was in the company of Edwin and more than one unnamed UM football coach as the two of them killed a 12-pack of beer hours before a game. You’d visit his hotel room and not be surprised to see a jug of red wine on ice in the bathroom sink. Once we closed down a bar in (I think) Indianapolis, stumbled out into the cold and were discussing how to go about getting a cab when it dawned on us our hotel was right in front of us.

I delighted to cover the 1992 Summer Olympics with Edwin in Barcelona, in a cramped, barracks-style dorm room we shared. After two weeks, the day before we flew out, we treated each other by taking a cab to the city’s famous nude beach to take in the sights. Why not!

Edwin was a wonderful colleague and road-trip companion of mine for 30 some years. Mostly he was a writing hero, somebody who was what I wanted to be. I have never stopped striving or falling short, or being grateful for his influence in my life and career.

His was a long, wonderful life well-led.

Thank you, Edwin. Always. Thank you.

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FripixPLAYOFFS: CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: OUR PICKS FOR NFL'S SUNDAY AFC, NFC TITLE GAMES: Lots of football fans call this Sunday the single best day of the season, better even than the Super Bowl, and I expect Packers at Falcons and then Steelers at Patriots to live up to expectations. A great final four! Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season, and we're 6-0 in the postseason after rolling a perfect 4-0 last week. Click on Championship Game Gems for my latest picks on the AFC and NFC title games. I see one game going as expected and the other not. We also offer our accompanying NFL column that today quantifies how good this final four is, historically, and how it gets the attention back where it belongs, on the field, after a weird week of drama for the NFL. Click on A Dramatic Final Four to read.

THE LIST: THIS FINAL FOUR IN THE POSTSEASON: Historically, this NFL final four includes three league giants and one interloper, as this list verifies. The franchise, head coach and quarterback records of these four teams in the postseason, listed in order of most all-time postseason wins, with total NFL championships listed in parentheses:

Team                                Franchise            Head coach                   Quarterback

Pittsburgh Steelers (6)       36-23, .610         Mike Tomlin, 8-5           Ben Roethlisberger, 13-6

Green Bay Packers (13)      34-21, .618        Mike McCarthy, 10-7       Aaron Rodgers, 9-6

New England Patriots (4)   30-19, .612         Bill Belichick, 24-10       Tom Brady, 23-9

Atlanta Falcons (0)             8-12, .400         Dan Quinn, 1-0              Matt Ryan, 2-4

HwhitesideHEAT BATTERED IN ALL-STAR VOTING, WHITESIDE SNUBBED: Hassan Whiteside collects perceived slights the way others of us collects stamps or coins, and he has added a big new one to his collection. He barely made the East frontcourt top 10 in NBA all-star voting, slotting in 10th overall after finishing eighth in the media vote, 11th by fans, and only 14th by players. Your colleagues don't respect you, bro! Get angry! Get even! No Goran Dragic in the East backcourt top 10. Starters were named Thursday. Reserves get added next week. I'd think Whiteside (pictured) will be included, but it sure isn't a given after his comeuppance in the triangular vote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 18, 2016

NFL Week 11 picks for Dolphins-Rams, all games; plus NASCAR Sprint Cup final-four poll. Who do you hope wins? Vote now!; also, Patrick Staropoli, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, LeBron/Phil/posse poll & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18. Marlins' Christian Yelich tied for 19th in NL MVP voting with five points -- two 9th-place votes and one 10th. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump writes Hillary on Schnellenberger's behalf, on Butch Davis joining FIU, SOPY rankings, your verdict on Brad Kaaya stay-or-go, R.I.P. Gardnar Mulloy & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our select recent columns: Doctor Speed, on Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli. Also: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be? (on Fins' resourcefulness in four-game win streak. Return Of Wade (from Heat arena last week). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (Tannehill is good enough, Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 11: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAMS, REST OF NFL: We endured our worst showing of the season last week in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, going an unmentionable 5-9 overall and 3-11 against the spread. I mean, seriously. Awful. But I'm bouncing back, and the bounce began last night. Won twice by predicting Carolina outright but N'Awlins with the points; click Thursday Gem for that pick. With last night we're now 16 games above .500 against the spread for the season; not bad. For all of our latest selections click on Week 11 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Rams, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with an analysis of four former NFL stars with local ties who made the semifinals for 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Click on South Florida to Canton to read.

StaropoliTHE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN NASCAR: Harvard graduate. University of Miami medical student about to become a doctor of ophthalmology. Young man who became fascinated with medicine as a boy watching doctors save his father's life after a racecar crash. This man, Patrick Staropoli, 27, of Plantation, will make his NASCAR main-stage debut Friday night in the Truck Series race that kicks off Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He'll run his first race in that truck, and on that track, the morning of his race. There are far bigger stories down at Homestead, such as who wins the Sprint Cup title (see poll below), but I'm not sure there is a more interesting story than that of Staropoli. Click on Doctor Speed to read my latest column. The image pictured is by the great Herald photographer, Carl Juste.

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (10 GAMES): IT'S A ROUT!Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals, and the updated standings show a runaway for a certain big center, the guy who had 25 rebounds last night. With Miami now 2-8 after last night's loss to Atlanta, here's the Luddite's second installment, with 5-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (10 games):

Hassan Whiteside (1)       350

Tyler Johnson (4)             205

Goran Dragic (2)             182

Justise Winslow (3)          181

Dion Waiters (5)              179

Bubble: James Johnson 144. Others: Josh Richardson 86, Luke Babbitt 75, Rodney McGruder 70, Willie Reed 63, Derrick Williams 31, Josh McRoberts 17, Udonis Haslem 5.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 10 RESULTS: PIX IN THE TANK, BUT LOBOS STAY EN FUEGO!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Ugh. Embarrassing. Got beat up last week with s 5-9 record straight-up and (Dear God) 3-11 against the spread. I take some solace that we're still a pretty solid 14 games above .500 ATS, but we need to bounce back this week in the most desperate way. And will. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos pounded Charlie's team 135-97 in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 7-3 with (like the Dolphins) four straight wins. Got 28 points from Allen Robinson last week, 27 from Delanie Walker and 21 from Drew "Money" Brees, who craps 20-point games. Keep it honkin', big rig. Keep it rollin', 'Bos!

PhillebronTHE WORD "POSSE" AND RACIAL OVERTONES: We spent a good bit of time chewing this over on the LeBatard Show yesterday. Cavaliers and former Heat star LeBron James took umbrage with Knicks president Phil Jackson, saying he's lost respect for him, because Phil referred to LeBron's "posse" to mean his close groups of friends, confidants and business associates led by Maverick Carter. Said LeBron: "If you go and read the definition of what the word 'posse' is, it's not what I've built over my career. It's not what I stand for, it's not what my family stands for. I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African-Americans trying to make a difference." For what it's worth dictionary.com's informal definition of "posse" is simply, "a group of friends or associates," which is pretty neutral. I'm old enough to associate "posses" with old Westerns on TV. I thought in this case it was a fairly benign term to use, and thought LeBron may have been being a bit overly sensitive. Then again, if he was offended, who am I to say he shouldn't have been? I'm curious how you feel about this. So I invite you to tell me, here:

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

Twitter @gregcote