January 20, 2020

Miami Super Bowl set! It's 49ers-Chiefs!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, decision that changed Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's life (column), new John Anderson song (video) & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 20. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill tops NFL final four from Miami perspective, Clemson favored in 2020, NFL Divisional Round picks, new Ozzy/Elton song & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksNFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PLAYOFFS: PEREFECT. WE RODE CHIEFS, NINERS: Update: We were a perfect 2-0 straight-up and 2-0 against the spread on Sunday, with both winners  covering. Original post: Miami awaits. The two-week runup to the February 2 Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium begins this Sunday when the two teams are determined in the AFC and NFC Championship Games. The Cinderella in this final four is discarded Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill trying to lead Tennessee to its first SB appearance in 20 years — in his old stadium. But everybody packs a tale to tell. It has been 50 years (!) since Kansas City’s last Super Bowl appearance and win, and Andy Reid has coached more playoff games (27) than anyone to never win it all. Aaron Rodgers is after his elusive second career championship after Green Bay last reigned in 2010. And San Francisco last appeared in an SB in 2012 — but hasn’t won one since 1994. Of this final four, only K.C. made the playoffs last year, and the NFL is assured a new Super Bowl champ for the 15th season in a row. Two games. Win and you’re in. And Miami awaits. To see who'll get here, visit Will Tannehill Make It? Our AFC, NFC Championship Picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 19-20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature (back after a one-week hiatus) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's 49ers-Chiefs in Miami Super Bowl: Chiefs rallied to overwhelm Titans and 49ers comfortably handled Packers on Sunday -- winners take all to reach Miami and the Super Bowl. Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers were seen as the odd men out and were, with a Kansas City-San Francisco matchup the betting favorite all along. Miami awaited. Fate did its thing.

2. MLB: Sign-stealing scandal rocks Astros, sees 3 managers fired: The Astros fired the manager and GM who'd been suspended for a year by MLB. The Red Sox dumped Alex Cora and the Mets and Carlos Beltran parted. Baseball, if you're serious about stopping sign-stealing, here's your statement: The Astros' 2017 World Series championship is vacated.

3. HEAT: Miami completes excellent first half of season: Heat were 29-12 at the midpoint of the NBA season, second in the East and with a league-best home record (18-1) and seven players averaging in double-figure scoring led by Jimmy Butler's 20.3, before falling in San Antonio Sunday. With Bucks a near-certain No. 1 seed, Miami looks strong to earn playoff home court as season's second half begins.

4. JIMMY JOHNSON: Canes champ, ex-Fins coach makes Canton: Jimmy Johnson made Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2020 class, selected by a blue-ribbon panel as part of NFL 100 celebration. Toasting you with a raised Heineken, J.J! Now here's hoping a guy you draft in Miami, Zach Thomas, a finalist, finally gets in too when players are announced just before the Super Bowl. 

5. INTER MIAMI: New MLS team has first draft, opens camp Monday: New coach Diego Alonso and Inter Miami drafted Clemson forward Robbie Robinson No. 1 overall in recent MLS Draft. Miami opens training camp Monday at Barry University, working toward its inaugural season opener on March 1. Still hoping David Beckham dons a kit, but not holding our breath.

6. DOLPHINS: Miami loses defensive chief to Giants: Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham jilted the Fins for a lateral move to the New York Giants. Hmm. Didn't Miami finish 30th for most yards allowed this season and 32nd (dead-worst) for most points given up? Hey, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Pat!

7. NBA: Top pick Zion Williamson to make NBA debut -- finally!: The New Orleans Pelicans say overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson, who has spent all season thus far recovering from a knee injury, will finally make his debut this Wednesday at home vs. San Antonio. Equipment guy, please make sure he doesn't wear the exploding sneaker again.

8. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as All-Star break nears: Florida is 26-21 off four straight wins after Saturday's W at Detroit, with two other games left before a schedule pause for the Jan. 25 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. Cats are now right on the edge of playoff pace in an uber-competitive Eastern Conference.

9. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic favorites as Australia Open begins: Against the backdrop of the country's brushfires catastrophe, the 108th Australian Open,the year's first major, opens with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic the betting picks. Serena looks (again) to tie Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major singles titles.

10. HURRICANES: UM basketball isn't bad ... except vs. good teams: Miami's men's and women's basketball teams, both slumping, have proven solid vs. lesser foes and lousy against good teams. The Canes women are 0-5 vs. ranked opponents, and the men are now 0-4 after Saturday's heartbreak of an OT home loss to No. 9 FSU, with a Tuesday game at No. 3 Duke on deck.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes AD Blake James confirmed that Alonzo Highsmith would not be joining football program in "chief of staff" role advising coach Manny Diaz. Not knowing if he'd have been any good at it, Canes fans nonetheless were outraged in their disappointment after premature, misleading media reports suggested he'd be joining UM ..... Wow. Collegiate Baseball ranks the Hurricanes No. 3 in its preseason baseball poll. No pressure or anything, Gino DiMare! ..... Conor McGregor beat up on some guy in a cowoy hat last night in UFC 246 ..... A former player has sued alleging that Penn State -- of all schools -- and coach James Franklin ignored sexual-based hazing that including older players threatening "to Sandusky" younger guys ... Will the last Tigers player leaving national champion LSU for the NFL Draft please turn out the light? ..... The Winter X Games are this week, and nobody cares ..... Can somebody get Antonio Brown some help, please? Seriously ..... Next weekend, Saturday's Senior Bowl battles Sunday's Pro Bowl to see which football game the fewest Americans will watch ..... Ice Cube's BIG3 basketball league has lowered its minimum age requirement, surprising analysts who were unaware the BIG3 basketball league still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,345 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

JjHALL OF FAMER JIMMY JOHNSON'S BIGGEST VICTORY WAS KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT -- AND WHY: Twenty years earlier, to the day, Jimmy Johnson quit the NFL in despair, at a low point in his life. He retired from coaching and never looked back. It ended for him on January 15, 2000, on a football field in Jacksonville, his Miami Dolphins eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in a 62-7 humiliation. That wasn’t the worst of it. The recent death of his mother had hit him hard, hit him soul-deep, made him rethink everything. One of his two sons was struggling with alcohol addiction. It felt like his life was getting away from him. Wayne Huizenga, then the Dolphins owner, desperately tried to convince Johnson to stay — even offering to let him be a part-time head coach who handled the draft and worked only home games — but Johnson had to get out. "I needed to spend time with my family, and it paid dividends," the former coach was saying Wednesday, 20 years later, from his home 90 minutes south of Miami in the Upper Keys. "My two sons, we’re as close now as we’ve ever been. I am happier than I’ve ever been. Retiring from coaching — it saved my family." Sunday night, the NFL told Johnson he had done enough. He got out early because he felt he had to. But he had done enough. To read our full column on Johnson being welcomed into Canton, please visit Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why.

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

NEW JOHN ANDERSON SONG/VIDEO : 'YEARS': Careful readers may know I'm a longtime fan of country singer John Anderson, who has one of the most distinctive voices in all of music. Well, he has a new album coming out that was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, a fan of his. This likely will be the first single, a reflective, wistful song about aging, in which a 65-year-old (let's be honest) fading star reflects on a bountiful career and life:

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

December 17, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at Giants; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 and a pitched battle for No. 1; also, NFL Week 15 picks & more

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 16. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 15 picks, Heat fall to LeBron's Lakers & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

MianygG14: DOLPHINS AT N.Y. GIANTS: THE STAKES? JOCKEYING WITHIN DRAFT'S TOP 5 PICKSTeams that are a combined 5-21 (Fins' 3-10 to Biggies 2-11) make for a dreadful matchup seeking a spark. Here it is: Eli Manning’s first home start since Week 2, and likely the next to last of his long Giants career. Emotions should be high as NYG fans cheer Eli warmly (until his first interception, when they boo him loudly). He starts again for Daniel Jones, who is nursing an ankle injury. I mentioned dreadful matchup? It’s the only one of Week 15 with both teams mathematically out of playoff contention. Fins are on a 1-12 skid on the road. Biggies have lost an NFL-high nine games in a row. A Miami upset would not surprise, but Ryan Fitzpatrick, already with little run support, will be further depleted if DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson (both questionable with concussions) are out. That, the Eli bump and Miami’s road woes are enough to tilt this pick, although — like a shoplifter hightailing it from a convenience store — I’ll put that dangling half point on the 3 1/2-point bet-line in my pocket and take underdog Fins to cover. Cote’s pick: NYG 27-24. See Week 15 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And watch for the latest  Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 53,9%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 53.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 36-30 loss  Dsmat the New York Giants putting Miami's season record at 3-11. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Dec. 22 following game vs. Cincinnati.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 15-6): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

1Hotbutton. HEAT: Visit by LeBron, another Waiters suspension lead drama-filled week: Heat won impressively in Dallas last night 122-118 led by Jimmy Butler's 27 and Bam Adebayo's 18-11-10 triple double -- impressive because it was the tail end of a back-to-back after that emotional 113-110 home loss to LeBron James and the Lakers. Miami sits pretty at 19-7. The ugly part? Dion Waiters suspended for the third time this season for being an idiot.

2. HURRICANES: UM juggles early signing, bowl prep: Miami and coach Manny Diaz prepare to play Louisiana Tech in the Dec. 26 Independence Bowl. But don't kid yourself. The program's priority this week is buttoning down as strong a recruiting class as possible on Wednesday's early signing day. There's still another one in February, but the early date has taken over in importance. Besides that, is anybody actually interested in facing Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl? 

3. DOLPHINS: Miami visits Giants with draft position the only stakes: The 3-10 Fins visit the 2-11 Giants Sunday in New Jersey with 2020 draft position the only thing in play. We know that because this is the only Week 15 matchup in which both teams are mathematically, scientifically and theologically eliminated from playoff contention. "But we love them both," said the draft's top five.

4. SOCCER: Miami FC joins USL ahead of Inter Miami startup: This is war! Miami FC has left the minor National Independent Soccer Association to join the bigger United Soccer League and will play matches at FIU Stadium as a direct challenger to Inter Miami, the new Major League Soccer expansion team beginning play in Fort Lauderdale in 2020. Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva is a proponent of an English-style promotion/relegation system that would allow the best USL teams to earn promotion into the top-tier MLS.   

5. MLB: Winter Meetings spawn trio of mega-deals: Ace pitcher Gerrit Cole signed a record $324 million deal to join the Yankees, while infielder Anthony Rendon signed with the Angels and ace Stephen Strasburg stayed with the Nationals, both on $245 million deals. That's three contracts totaling $814 million. Pretty good week, too, for the agent for all three, Scott Boras. 

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Heisman announced, bowl season on deck: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the 85th Heisman Trophy in the landslide fully expected Saturday night. Up next, there are 41 bowl games culminating with three to settle the College Football Playoff. But that's not for a couple of weeks. First: All the bowls you don't care about! Those start Dec. 20. State schools in action this coming week are FAU vs. SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl and FIU vs. Arkansas State in the Camellia, both next Saturday.

7. PANTHERS: Slumping Cats fall off playoff pace: New coach, new goalie, same disappointment? The Panthers are 15-17 after losing three straight and seven of past 10  as a nine-game homestand continues. The Cats would be outside looking in if the NHL playoffs started now.

8. HIGH SCHOOLS: South Florida football in near clean-sweep of state titles: There are eight divisions of state prep football. South Florida just won seven state championships. Congrats to Miami Columbus (Class 8), Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (7), Miami Central (6), Miami Northwestern (5), Miami Booker T. Washington (4) Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna (3) and Hialeah Champagnat (2). Wish some of that local winning would trickle up to the Dolphins and UM.   

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Nobody on men's side wants to be No. 1: Louisville fell to unranked Texas Tech to become the fourth No. 1 team to fall from the top perch already this season, following Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke. Kansas or Ohio State figure to be the new No. 1. Temporarily, at least.

10. GOLF: U.S. rally wins Presidents Cup in Australia: Played on odd years, the Presidents Cup is a U.S. team vs. an International team (the rest of the world except Europe) in men's golf. It's like the Ryder Cup, except not nearly as historic, famous or interesting. But Tiger Woods is the team captain and he led a rally for a U.S. win, so it sneaks into our HB10.

Missing the HB10 cut: NBA trade season begins today/Sunday and runs through the Feb. 6 deadline. Let's hope it's quiet in Miami with no regurgitated chatter (please) about Chris Paul. The Heat's emphasis needs to be about building cap space for a major whale-hunting excursion in 2021 free agency, not adding an old and costly contract to prevent that ..... There's another Patriots cheating controversy. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Enjoyed Saturday night's Le Batard Show Mas Miami IV in Wynwood. Great to meet so many of the show's fans! ..... NBCSN is hosting a weekend English Premier League fan fest from the Clevelander on South Beach. It is expected drinking may be involved ..... Russia's four-year doping ban from international competition was blamed on politics by Vladimir Putin. I'd probably blame it on cheating ..... Former Cane Clinton Portis is the biggest name among a dozen ex-NFL players implicated in a scheme involving NFL health benefits ..... The Giants waived Janoris Jenkins after he called a fan a "retard" in a tweet and then seemingly did not understand why the word is offensive ..... Hurricanes basketball about to heat up. Men play No. 7 Duke and No. 1 Louisville on January 4 and 7. Women face No. 8 FSU and No. 7 Louisville on January 5 and 9 ..... Here was the problem. The doctor recommended "bed rest" for the Jets' Le'Veon Bell for his flu. But Le'Veon thought he said "bowling" ..... J.J. Culver scored 100 points in Wayland Baptist's 124-60 NAIA win. Ah, sportsmanship! ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee announced new rules to prevent a repeat of 2019's unwieldy eight-way tie for first place. That's g-o-o-d, good ..... Update: Countdown now 2,380 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 26, 2019

G11: Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 44.9% following 41-24 loss in Cleveland; plus our column on Canes' stunning loss to FIU at Marlins Park; also, Hot Button Top 10 (updated), NFL Week 12 picks & more

1) It's MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Scroll to previous blogpost for results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. They're ugly. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes lose in stunning upset to FIU, with CSM postgame poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our UM-FIU column from Marlins Park: Visit FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes.

Our NFL Week 12 picks for Dolphins-Browns and all the rest: Dolphins at Browns, our Game of the Week and our Upset of the Week (which could be one and the same), and all the rest. Please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 12 Gems.

Also from me this week: Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

MiacleG11: @CLEVELAND 41, DOLPHINS 24: OPTIMISM WAS A RISK FOR MIAMI FANS SUNDAYOriginal post: Odell Beckham Jr. and former Dolphin Jarvis Landry both are battling injuries for Cleveland but you know they’ll play. A dead receiver would rise in his coffin for the chance to face a Miami pass defense allowing the third-highest opponent passer rating in the NFL. Then again, how much will Baker Mayfield have to throw with Nick Chubb kicking up dirt against the league’s 31st-ranked run defense? Have you gotten the idea yet that I don’t love this matchup for Miami? The 4-6 Earthtones are a big 11-point home favorite over the 2-8 Fins and I get why. Beyond the big challenge for Miami defense, Ryan Fitzpatrick is iffy with right shoulder and forearm injuries, so Josh Rosen is on call. Uh oh. Either guy will have no run support. The good news? Browns DE Myles Garrett is suspended so he won’t be swinging his helmet at anybody’s head. Tempted to fancy the Fins with an 11-point head start. The thing is, Miami is 1-10 in its past 11 roadies, and I envision a rout more than I do anything winnable late. Cote's pick: Cleveland, 30-13. See Week 12 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 44.9%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 44.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 41-24 loss at DsmCleveland putting  Miami’s season record at 2-9. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Dec. 1 following game vs. Philadelphia.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOVEMBER 24-25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: FIU deals UM stunning loss at Marlins Park: It was as triumphant and historic a victory for Butch Davis and FIU as it was a stunning, epic-low defeat for Manny Diaz and the Hurricanes. For a day, the King of Miami college football was not is the five-time national champions. It was FIU.

2. HEAT: Hot Miami gets cooled in Philly: Heat is still 11-4 (and 6-0 at home) even after Saturday night's loss at Philadelphia, entering Monday's home game with Charlotte. Strong start for Miami, but 76ers reminded us it's early to start thinking "Kings of the East."

3. DOLPHINS: Early hole buries Miami at Cleveland Sunday: One team has a worse record than Miami, two have the same record, Tua is injured -- what the hell is going on! The season of calculated tanking risks running off the rails as Miami falls in Cleveland 41-24, crushed by an early 28-0 hole.

4. PANTHERS: Florida still looking solid in playoff race: Panthers are 12-12 after two straight losses but still solid in early playoff chase. Cats are second-highest scoring team in NHL. Time for the defense to catch up. 

5. INTER MIAMI: Miami thinks defense in MLS expansion draft: Inter Miami top-drafted left back Ben Sweat, 28, in the MLS expansion draft, while the other four picks were a right back, two midfielders and a goalkeeper -- the draft emphasis clearly leaning defense. Next mission for Inter Miami: Um, a coach, please? 

6. UM BASKETBALL: Unbeaten Canes women await first real test: Katie Meier's squad is 4-0 and ranked No. 16 but await their first Litmus test this week (Friday the 29th) in hosting No. 7 Oregon State. Meanwhile the unranked UM men are 4-2 after splitting two games in the Charleston (S.C.) Classic. 

7. MARLINS: Fish bolster scouting staff: With spring training only three months away (!), the Miami Marlins announced seven new hires to their professional, amateur and international scouting staffs, the seven bringing a combined 58 years of experience in professional baseball. That's good. Even better? How about you sign a couple of guys who can hit 30 homers!?

8. NASCAR: Homestead already planning for spring race: Kyle Busch fans are still celebrating last week's season-ending championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and already the track is transitioning from the final race to its new spot on the NASCAR calendar starting in 2020. Countdown to March 22: 88 days.

9. SOCCER: Annual conference draws throngs to Miami: The annual SoccerEx business and networking conference drew 1,800 to Aventura, where speakers included MLS commissioner Don Garber and Inter Miami principle owner Jorge Mas. Just one more indication that Miami is or is becoming a futbol hotbed. 

10. LEBRON JAMES: Another NBA milestone: LeBron became the first player in NBA history to have a triple-double against all 30 teams. That requires two thins: 1) Being really good, and 2) Switching teams a fair amount.

Missing the HB10 cut: And still nobody has signed Colin Kaepernick. Or did that go without saying by now? ..... Host Spain beat Canada to win tennis' Davis Cup, and not even Davis cared ..... Dolphins cut Mark Walton after he allegedly punched a pregnant girlfriend. Not a good sign when your run-ins with the law begin to outnumber your career touchdowns ..... Former Orlando Magic executive Pat Williams trying to trying to interest MLB in an "Orlando Dreamers" expansion team. Somebody tell Pat the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins ranked 29th and 30th in attendance last year. And that there are only 30 teams ..... Former Vikings kicker Fred Cox, who later invented the Nerf football, died at 80. Cannot confirm Fred will be buried in a foam casket ..... Charles Barkley threatened a female reporter. Social media then uncovered past racist tweets by the reporter. Rinse, repeat ..... Jimmie Johnson says 2020 will be his final season in NASCAR. At 44 and coming off his worst year, the news feels a year late ..... The 107th CFL Grey Cup is Sunday, with the WInnipeg Blue Bombers facing the Hamiton Tiger-Cats in Calgary. The MVP is expected to be someone you've never heard of ..... Floyd Mayweather Jr. says he is retiring. Again. Floyd now has more retirements than boxing victories ..... Update: Countdown now 2,401 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 04, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.4% after 26-18 defeat of Stinkin' Jets; plus latest Hot Button Top 10; also, Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 91.8% after UM beats FSU, Dawgs top Gators, details on Le Batard's return, NFL Week 9 picks & more

1) It's MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4. Happy new month, all! 2) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 9 picks, Dolphins/Tua and Tim Donaghy columns & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

My column on Dolphins' win over Jets: Go to After Mocking And Tank-Talk, Dolphins And Flores Deserved This Day for my column from the stadium on Sunday's Miami win.

PicksOur complete NFL Week 9 picks: We went a perfect 15-0 straight-up last week. Can we approach that again? Will the still-winless Dolphins win at home vs. the equally bad Stinkin' Jets and be one of our three upset picks? Answers to that and more, here: NFL Week 9 Gems.

MianyjG8: STINKIN' JETS AT DOLPHINS: UPSET! FINS WIN, FINS WIN! OMG!! (AND I CALLED IT...): Go to After Mocking And Tank-Talk, Dolphins And Flores Deserved This Day for my column from game. Original post: We can all agree, I hope, that the Dolphins have risen from being historically embarrassing in the first few games to being merely regular-bad lately. We can also agree, I hope, that the Stinkin’ Jets are hardly any better, and that Adam Gase looks about as happy as an inmate whose final stay of execution has just been denied by the governor. There is negligible difference between the 0-7 Fins and 1-6 Jets -- not enough for NYJ to be a 3-point road favorite. Overshadowing this matchup, of course: The jockeying for the overall No. 1 draft pick, as the winless, bye-week Bengals watch keenly. Why the upset pick? 1) Sam Darnold (who sees ghosts, by the way) has seven interceptions in the past two games. Darnold bad is worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick bad. 2) Fins players and coaches are beyond-tired of the accusation they are intentionally trying to lose games. The franchise is tanking; the lockerroom is not. That is an important distinction. It gives Miami the greater incentive here, in addition to the home field. Am I nervous about the pick? Oh hell yeah. I just picked Miami to win! Let's see. Cote’s pick: MIA 24-21. Vote in the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll directly below.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: 76.4%: Results are certified in  the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 76.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- a season high -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 26-18 home victory over the New York Jets Dsmputting Miami’s season record at 1-7. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 1 p.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Nov. 10 following game at Indianapolis.

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Miami with nifty win over 'Noles in Tally: Florida State was favored at home in the battle of two once-proud rivals both coming in 4-4, but it was Miami going home with the big 27-10 win -- and renewed hope. At 5-4 off two straight wins UM is now looking good for a bowl game and still has an outside shot at the ACC Coastal title. Canes must win out vs. Louisville and FIU and at Duke.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins win! Fins win!, beat Stinkin' Jets: I tell ya, Sunday's matchup in Miami had everything ... but a good team in it. The 1-6 Jets at 0-7 Dolphins with the overall No. 1 draft pick among the possible stakes ... what could be worse? Actually, it was a pretty compelling game. Ryan Fitzpatrick was great and the Dolphins (finally) won, 26-18.

3. HEAT: Miami swamps Houston in big early test: Miami is an impressive 5-1 early this season after Sunday measuring-stick triumph here over Houston, 1290-100 led by a surreal 46-14 first quarter. James Harden and Russell Westbrook were only 9-for-25 between them. Can the Heat really be this good?

4. MLB: Nationals top Astros in World Series: Had to feel good about Washington celebrating its first MLB title since 1924. Well, unless you're a Houston fan. But seven games and the home team didn't win a single one. Had never been done before. In any sport. Weird Series is more like it. 

5. UM BASKETBALL: Opening Week! Canes men host mighty Louisville: So much for soft openings. Jim Larranaga's unranked UM men's team opens by hosting No. 5 Louisville Tuesday night. Can they shock the world? More is expected from Katie Meier's No. 18-ranked Canes women, who open at home next Sunday vs. Jackson State.    

6. PANTHERS: Hot Cats rounding into form: With last night's 4-0 home win over Detroit, Florida has now shed a rough 1-4 start to go level at 7-7 in this still-young NHL season. Cats can score, but now new goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky are tightening up on defense. Good signs.

7. UFC: Masvidal bloodies, beats Diaz: Miami's Jorge Masvidal bloodied and beat Nate Diaz in UFC 244 last night at Madison Square Garden, with a doctor stopping the fight in the third round. Masvidal later partied with The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. Hopefully, Stugotz crashed the party. Oh, and Donald Trump attended and got loudly booed. Or, did that go without saying?

8. NBA: Reeling Warriors lose Curry: Golden State is 1-5 and now Steph Curry will be lost at least three months with a broken hand. if you didn't think the Warriors' dynasty was done, you sure as hell do now. Call 'em the Golden State Worriers.

9. SOCCER: It's Seattle-Toronto for MLS title: Seattle hosts Toronto next Sunday in a sold-out Major League Soccer Cup championship final. No Cinderellas here. Seattle won the league title in 2016 and Toronto in '17. A year from now ... Inter Miami?

10. HORSE RACING: More tragedy at Santa Anita as Breeders' Cup runs: Vino Rosso won the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Saturday at Santa Anita, but tragedy struck as Mongolian Groom injured a hind leg and later was euthanized. It was the 37th horse death at Santa Anita Park since last December. Am I sending my horse to that place? Oh hell naw!

Missing the HB10 cut: World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg opted out of his deal with Nationals and will be a free agent. Teams needing an ace with tons of money, start your bidding! ..... Tiger Woods won a record-tying 82nd PGA Tour event last week, a reminder that all anybody cares about with him is major wins, not "regular" titles ..... South Africa stunned England to win the Rugby World Cup as America mostly yawned ..... Only two more races starting today at Texas before NASCAR's Nov. 17 championship finale at Homestead ..... Thousands more will unnecessarily run 26.2 miles when the New York City Marathon goes off Sunday ..... Update: Countdown now 2,422 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

MiafsuG9: HURRICANES 27, @FLORIDA STATE 10: TWO OLD RIVALS MEET AGAIN -- BOTH TRYING TO GET BACK TO GREAT: Jarren  Williams and defense were great in Saturday's 27-10 Miami win in Tally, and I got the upset pick right! Original post: There were plenty of years when Canes-Noles was a national game of the week with championship implications. But that was plenty of years ago. Now, Saturday's Miami at Florida State meeting at 3:30 p.m. is just a pair of .500 teams trying to rediscover the mojo and get back to where they once were. "I think we’re both kind of waiting for that kick-start to get things going," as Miami coach Manny Diaz put it. Still, "It’s one of those games that you come to Miami to play in, to coach in," Diaz said. "It’s a legacy game." Both old rivals are 4-4, with FSU 3-3 in ACC play and UM 2-3. The Seminoles are stuck in their division behind Clemson. At least if UM wins it still has a shot at the division title in the weaker Coastal, if it wins out and gets some help/luck. FSU was favored by as many as 5 points but that whittled down to 3 as money poured in on Miami. Noles have won their past four home games but Miami has won past two in this rivalry including 28-27 last year at Hard Rock after the Canes trailed 20-7 at the half. These teams' past five meetings all have been decided by 5 points or fewer, so the safest bet is a close game. FSU is better on offense although that draws closer with Jarren Williams back starting at QB for Miami (as he should) and RB DeeJay Dallas expected back from injury. The difference for me is that Miami clearly is better on defense. I do not trust the Seminoles without the ball. Cote's pick: Upset! Hurricanes, 27-23. See latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll results below.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 91.8%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 91.8% approval, the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes  -- a season high -- in the wake of Saturday's 27-10 Hurricanes victory at Florida State putting the Hurricanes' season record at 5-4 overall and 3-3 in ACC conference play. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program’s direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the weekly verdict, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

G3: 83.0% following 63-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman.

G4: 8.5% following 17-12 victory vs. Central Michigan.

G5: 28.8% following 42-35 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

G6: 82.0% following 17-9 victory vs. Virginia.

G7: 11.3% following 28-21 OT loss vs. Georgia Tech.

G8: 61.0% following 16-12 victory at Pitt.

G9: 91.8% following 27-10 victory at Florida State.

Next poll: Nov. 9 following game vs. Louisville.

Other state FBS games (all Saturday):

FlagaNo. 8 Georgia 24, No. 6 Florida 17: A Cocktail Party worth attending: Original post: Annual neutral-site game in Jacksonville kicks at 3:30 Saturday with, well, everything in play. This is for the SEC East lead, and the winner only also maintains at least a prayer of a shot at the College Football Playoff. It's the Game of the Week in collball. Gators 7-1 to Dawgs' 6-1 but Georgia is a 5 1/2-point favorite. I get that. See UGA with slightly more offensive pop and every bit as good defensively. Cote's pick: Georgia 23-20.  

Also: UCF beat Houston 44-29, FIU beat Old Dominion 24-17, and FAU beat Western Kentucky 35-24. South Florida was off this week.

DanlLE BATARD'S RETURN TO AIR, NEW 'MAS MIAMI.' DETAILS HEREFans who have missed Dan Le Batard during his extended on-air absence from ESPN have gotten some welcome news — on two fronts. The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz announced Friday that Dan would return to the show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews on Nov. 11, a week from Monday. The Miami-based show emanates from ESPN studios on South Beach. Le Batard also is to return to his ESPN television show, Highly Questionable, that day, the network confirmed Friday. Le Batard has been off the air for several weeks, first for a long-planned pre-wedding honeymoon and more recently to attend to what the show called "personal matters." Both shows have continued with various guest hosts in his absence. Also Friday, details on Le Batard’s latest "Mas Miami" event were revealed. It is set for Saturday, Dec. 14 at Wynwood Factory, a nightclub at 55 Northeast 24th Street in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami. Tickets to the event are $25 and available at MasLeBatard.com. For the full story: Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event.

Our two most recent columns: Do Not Waver, Dolphins. It Must Be Tua! and Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal

Other select recent columns: Heat's Opener Stars Butler As Missing Person, Winslow As Rising Star / Heat 'Tighten the Screws,' And Dion Waiters Is the Lesson, As New Season Begins / Diaz Playing 'Rebuild' Card As Weak as Canes' Effort in Loss to Ga-Tech / LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice / Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / 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

November 01, 2019

New! Our NFL Week 9 picks for Dolphins-Jets, upsets and all the rest; plus Radio Friday!, our Fins/Tua and Tim Donaghy columns & more

Halloween1) It's FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1. Hope ya'll had a Happy Halloween! Oh and welcome November! 2) Condolences on the passing this week of the great former University of Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich, who died at 84. I knew Sam very well in the 1980s. He was a good man and a good AD. 3) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins must stayed focused on Tua, Fins lose in Pittsburgh with DSM poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 8 results & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Friday!: Double duty this week. I'm back in-studio today on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz. It airs 10 to 1 nationally on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. And watch for a local-only hour linked from the show's social media platforms.

PicksDOLPHINS-JETS, GAME OF THE WEEK, UPSETS: OUR NFL WEEK 9 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season and a solid first half of our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, here are our latest selections. We went a perfect 15-0 straight-up last week and a tough 7-8 against spread despite hitting on two outright upset picks. This week, will the still-winless Dolphins win at home vs. the equally bad Stinkin' Jets? What about our Patriots-Ravens Game of the Week? And our three new upset picks? Answers to all of that and more may be found in the motherlode of prognostication that is our NFL Week 9 Gems. We can't top 15-0, but we can try. Got off to a mixed start last night. Had Niners beating Cardinals and also covering. They won, but didn't cover. You let me down, San Fran D.

TuaEyes on the prize! Why Dolphins must remain steadfast for Tua: We’ve been reading and hearing it from South Florida media to the talking heads on Monday's Dolphins-Steelers telecast. The what-if game on the 2020 NFL Draft. The notion that whomever ends up with the No. 1 pick next spring — including the favorite, Miami — dare not pass on the draft’s hot new shiny object, Ohio State’ havoc-wreaking pass rusher Chase Young. No! Let's hope this is a false narrative floated purely for the sake of argument. Because, at least in the Dolphins’ case, it is an absurd supposition that Miami should or might bypass the franchise arm for anybody else The whole point of this season, this exquisitely orchestrated tanking, is to wind up with Tua Tagovailoa. The full column: Do Not Waver, Dolphins. It Must Be Tua!

IgameDisgraced ref Tim Donaghy talks game-fixing: He was at the center of one of NBA's major scandals of the 2000s. A movie about it is out this week. We spoke with the villain himself. The fiull column: Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal. The movie preview: Inside Game Trailer.

Our most recent other columns: Heat's Opener Stars Butler As Missing Person, Winslow As Rising Star / Heat 'Tighten the Screws,' And Dion Waiters Is the Lesson, As New Season Begins / Diaz Playing 'Rebuild' Card As Weak as Canes' Effort in Loss to Ga-Tech / LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice / Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years.

Previous other select columns: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / 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

October 31, 2019

Eyes on the prize! Dolphins mustn't waver on Tua. Latest column; plus DSM result after Fins' Monday loss, disgraced ref Tim Donaghy talks NBA scandal, tonight's 49ers-Cards pick, NFL Pix n Fantasy Week 8 results including my perfect 15-0 & more

Halloween1) It's THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31. Happy Halloween! Have fun, stay safe. Oh and see you next year, October. 2) Condolences on the passing of the great former University of Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich, who died yesterday at 84. I knew Sam very well in the 1980s. He was a good man and a good AD. 3) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at Pitt with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, NFL Week 8 picks & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Tonight's 49ers-Cardinals pick: Astonishingly the Cards have won eight in a row in this season. Will an upset make it nine. Answer here: Week 9 Thursday Gem.

Herald Week 8 NFL QB rankings: We welcome back our Week 8 winner and crown a new season leader. Visit Herald Week 8 NFL QB Rankings.

TuaEYES ON THE PRIZE! WHY DOLPHINS MUST REMAIN STEADFAST FOR TUA TAGOVAILOA. LATEST COLUMN: Eyes on the prize, Miami Dolphins. Stay strong. Focus. As the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose famously sang in 1972, "It’s too late to turn back now." We’ve been reading it and hearing it from South Florida media to the talking heads on this week’s Dolphins-Steelers Monday Night Football telecast. The what-if game on the 2020 NFL Draft has begun. The notion that whomever ends up with the overall No. 1 pick next spring — including the favorite, Miami — dare not pass on the draft’s hot new shiny object, Ohio State’ havoc-wreaking pass rusher Chase Young. As if on cue, ESPN draftnik Todd McShay this week elevated Young to No. 1, ahead of Tua Tagovailoa, in his latest updated draft rankings. Let us hope the suggestion the Fins should consider drafting Young ahead of a generational QB qualifies as a classic sports straw man — a false narrative floated purely for the sake of argument. Because, at least in the Dolphins’ case, it is an absurd supposition that Miami should or might bypass the franchise arm because, what, the trendy defensive end is a point higher on your draft board? The whole point of this season, of this exquisitely orchestrated tanking, is to wind up with Tua Tagovailoa (pictured), the generational QB from Alabama. For the full column, please visit Do Not Waver, Dolphins. It Must Be Tua!

InsidegameDisgraced ref Tim Donaghy talks game-fixing: He was at the center of one of NBA's major scandals of the 2000s. A movie about it is out this week. We spoke with the villain himself. For our recent column, please visit Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal. For the movie's preview: Inside Game Trailer.

Our most recent other columns: Heat's Opener Stars Butler As Missing Person, Winslow As Rising Star / Also: Heat 'Tighten the Screws,' And Dion Waiters Is the Lesson, As New Season Begins / Diaz Playing 'Rebuild' Card As Weak as Canes' Effort in Loss to Ga-Tech / LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice / No Sacrifice Too Great For Tanking-For-Tua Dolphins / and Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years.

Pit miaG7: @PITTSBURGH 27, DOLPHINS 14: ANOTHER TEASE, ANOTHER FADE, STILL WINLESS: [See latest DSM results below] Is Original post: Is the No. 1 victory of the season most important, Miami fans? Or is it the No. 1 overall draft pick? You can have both. It's just that getting the former hurts your chances of having the latter. The winless and allegedly tanking 0-6 Miami Dolphins take the Monday night stage seen quite literally as the Not Ready For Prime Time Players. I cannot recall any 2-4 team being this big a favorite (14 1/2 points), but that is a commentary not on the Steelers’ latent greatness, but on the subterranean regard for Miami. The Fins actually have been appreciably better lately. Competitive! But like all bad teams they have found ways to lose. In Buffalo last week Christian Wilkins gets himself ejected 33 seconds into the game, two huge turnovers steal a likely win, then afterward, in a punctuation of "undisciplined," Bobby McCain angrily confronts a 13-year-old Bills fan. Miami traveled north with a depleted secondary; meanwhile Minkah Fitzpatrick is a Steeler. Pittsburgh, off a bye week, gets QB Mason Rudolph back healthy and expects RB James Conner back, too. I still like Ryan Fitzpatrick and an improving Fins offense getting this many points. If Miami has zero turnovers (admittedly a large ask), this thing might even be interesting late. Cote’s pick: Pittsburgh, 27-16. Click NFL Week 8 Gems for all our latest picks -- we're a perfect 14-0 straight-up entering tonight. And watch for the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll right after tonight's game ends.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 28.8%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 28.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Monday night’s 27-14 Dolphins loss at Pittsburgh putting Miami’s season record at 0-7. That's a huge drop, and the first time this season the total has been less than the game before. Is the cost of "Tanking For Tua" finally kicking in with fans?  In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Wednesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Nov. 3 following game vs. N.Y. Jets. 

Picks LoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 8: PERFECT! GREAT! MARVELOUS!: NFL picks -- Perfect! Literally. We were 15-0 straight-up, running the table on the week -- nearly unheard of. We were an OK 7-8 against the spread, including a bull's-eye on our Eagles over Bills Upset of the Week and another outright upset with Chargers over Bears. Also had Miami with points at Pittsburgh. Oh but that overall perfecto! Wheee! ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Great! Greg's Lobos improved to 4-4 with a 141.9 to 119 win over Allyson. We got a huge 42.8 points from Mike Evans and a surprising 36.2 from fill-in QB Daniel Jones. We're now tied for eighth place and thinking playoffs. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Marvelous! Lobos are now 5-3 with a fourth straight win, a nail-chewing 153-152 over my youngest son. (Sorry/not sorry, Michael!) We got 81 points -- 27 each -- from Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook and Deshaun Watson. We're now tied for third place and definitely thinking playoffs! Go 'Bos!

Previous other select recent columns: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Deba0te / 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

October 28, 2019

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 61.0% following 16-12 win at Pitt as Jarren Williams saves the day; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), NFL Week 8 picks & more

1) It's FRIDAY-SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25-27. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 8 picks, Heat Opening Night, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 7 results & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Heat Opening Night, other most recent columns: Heat's Opener Stars Butler As Missing Person, Winslow As Rising Star / Also: Heat 'Tighten the Screws,' And Dion Waiters Is the Lesson, As New Season Begins / Diaz Playing 'Rebuild' Card As Weak as Canes' Effort in Loss to Ga-Tech / LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice / No Sacrifice Too Great For Tanking-For-Tua Dolphins / and Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years.

G8: HURRICANES 16, @PITT 12: I SAID ERRATIC MIAMI WOULD SURPRISE US SATURDAY. AND THEY DID!: [Click on CSM to vote in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll]. Original post: Do know what you'll see from Miami Saturday at noon? Which Hurricanes to expect? Liar! No you don't. I don't even think coach Manny Diaz does. This has been an unpredictable season that sees UM a disappointing 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the ACC entering this road matinee against a Pitt squad that is 5- Miapit2/2-1 off four straight wins. I do know this. The Canes for some reason have been a big letdown against softer teams they should handle, as with last week's OT home loss to a Georgia Tech team they were favored by 18 to beat -- but they tend to rise up vs. better teams, as in the win over ranked Virginia. So it is reasonable to expect a big showing Saturday by the Canes as 5-point underdogs in a backs-against-the-wall sort of scenario. The downer of a season thus far has Diaz embattled, at least with many fans, although he got the obligatory strong vote of confidence this week from AD Blake James. The home team has won the past three meetings in this conference rivalry, and UM is only 5-14 against the spread in its past 19 ACC games, but I am going to defy those odds. I love The U getting five points and like them to win outright. This assumes that UM finds one healthy QB in N'Kosi Perry or Jarren Williams, both nursing shoulder issues. Perry will start, Diaz said Friday. Canes hope both will be available. Not as sure about RB DeeJay Dallas (knee), but I still like a road rise-up by a desperate Miami. Cote's pick: Upset! Hurricanes, 27-20.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8 61.0%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 61.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satifiedd votes -- in the wake of Saturday afternoon's 16-12 victory at Pitt putting the Hurricanes' season record at 4-4 overall and 2-3 in ACC conference play. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program’s direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the weekly verdict, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was about 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

G3: 83.0% following 63-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman.

G4: 8.5% following 17-12 victory vs. Central Michigan.

G5: 28.8% following 42-35 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

G6: 82.0% following 17-9 victory vs. Virginia.

G7: 11.3% following 28-21 OT loss vs. Georgia Tech.

G8: 61.0% following 16-12 victory at Pitt.

Next poll: Nov. 2 following game at Florida State.

Other state FBS games (all Saturday): FIU lost at Middle Tennessee 50-17; FAU crushed Old Dominion 41-3; Florida State beat Syracuse 35-17; South Florida won at East Carolina 45-20; and UCF whipped Temple 63-21. No. 7 Florida was off.

PicksDOLPHINS-STEELERS, GAME OF THE WEEK, UPSETS: OUR NFL WEEK 8 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season and a solid start to our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, here are our latest selections. Will the winless Dolphins cover the huge point spread in Pittsburgh Monday night? Who won honors for Game of the Week? Can we start another Upset of the Week streak? Answers to all of that and more may be found in the motherlode of prognostication that is our NFL Week 8 Gems. We were a bit off last week (8-6 overall, 5-9 vs. the spread), but aim to rebound. Our week got off to a split start last night as Vikings beat Redskins, 19-9. Had the win, but misfired on them not covering a 16-point line. Rally time. Let's go!

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Winless Fins on Monday night stage in Pittsburgh: The "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" is A) the nickname given the original cast of Saturday Night Live, circa 1975-78, or B) the football team facing the Steelers Monday night in Pittsburgh? The Dolphins on MNF? That's a little like Adam Sandler performing Hamlet.  

2. HEAT: Winslow shines, Butler absent as Miami open season: New star Jimmy Butler missed the Heat's Wednesday season opener for "personal reasons" but Justise Winslow stepped up with 27 points to lead a 120-101 home win over Memphis. Miami is now 2-1 entering its next home game on  Tuesday. Will you join us, Jimmy? 

3. HURRICANES: Desperate Miami wins at Pitt: The staggering Canes were 3-4 (1-3 in the ACC) and a betting underdog entering Saturday's noon conference test at 5-2 Pitt -- but earned a 16-12 win. UM coach Manny Diaz had been under fire from some fans, but got a recent vote of confidence from AD Blake James. Uh oh.

4. MLB: Astros take charge of World Series: Underdog Washington was up 2 games to 0 before Houston stormed back to win three straight. Astros can win the championship with a win Tuesday  or Wednesday, both at home. This was the first time Washington has hosted a WS game in 86 years. If I recall, it was chilly that night.

5. MOTORSPORTS: City nixes Formula One racing at Hard Rock: Formula One racing must be getting the idea Miami doesn't like it. In 2017 a proposed F1 race in downtown Miami failed to get green-lit. This week the city of Miami Gardens voted against allowing an annual race at Hard Rock Stadium and nearby streets. Too bad. Race isn't dead yet, though. Just stalled?

6. NBA: League tilts West (again) as season begins: As the NBA tries to leave its China mess behind with an actual season, prepare to stay up very late, East Coasters, to watch the best play, because the two top teams in the league might be Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers and LeBron James' L.A. Lakers. As if that city didn't have a big enough ego already? 

7. PANTHERS: Overtime woes continues to plague Florida: Eleven games into the new NHL season the Cats are 5-6, four of the L's in overtime. Panthers can't win in extra time and new star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been so-so, yet Cats are close to .500. Good sign?

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women ready for tip off: Miami's men's team, 14-18 last season to end a five-year streak of reaching the postseason, plays an exhibition Wednesday before  opening Nov. 5 at home vs. No. 5 Louisville. The Canes women, 25-9 and ranked No. 20 last year and with preseason ACC Player of the Year Beatrice Mompremier back, open Nov. 10.

9. SOCCER: MLS playoffs down to final four: The Major League Soccer playoffs -- will Inter Miami be in them in a year? -- are down to the semifinals: Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles FC and Toronto FC vs. Atlanta United. Only LAFC, which ousted Zlatan Imbrahimovic's L.A. Galaxy, have ever won a title.

10. NASCAR: Playoff field eight to four to Homestead: The advancing eight drivers will have three races to determine the final four heading to Homestead for the Nov. 17 season finale. The current frontrunneres: Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Vrooom!

Missing the HB10 cut: The Coach Watch continues with MLS expansion team Inter Miami, which hopes to hire its first coach very soon. Club has been linked to former Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari ..... Tom Brady appeared in a Netflix film walking out of a massage parlor, but said it was not a spoofy jab at the travails of Pats owner Robert Kraft. Nobody believed him ..... MLB umpire Rob Drake threatened in a tweet to buy an assault rifle and join a civil war if Donald Trump is impeached. Drake immediately deleted the tweet and apologized for being an a--hole ..... MIchigan State is No. 1 and Florida No. 6 in the AP's men's college hoops preseason poll ..... Conor McGregor returns to UFC in January. Do we still give a s---? ..... Wishing Mark Richt a full recovery from his recent heart attack ..... Breeders' Cup is next weekend, a biggie in horse racing ..... The NFL fall meeting took place at Fort Lauderdale's Ritz Carlton hotel, because that league has more money than God ..... Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman yelled profane stuff at a female reporter in support of a player tied to domestic violence. Houston fired him for being an idiot ..... O.J. McDuffie, Roberto Luongo and Tamara James are newest inductees into the Broward Sports Hall of Fame. If I have to explain who they are, they probably shouldn't be in ..... Update: Countdown now 2,429 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Previous other select recent columns: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Deba0te / 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

October 22, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 55.2% after 31-21 loss at Buffalo -- another season high as pro-tanking crowd grows; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Heat Opening Week, my Canes/Diaz column & more

1) It's TUESDAY OCTOBER 22. See previous blogpost for results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes fall to Georgia Tech with my column and CSM poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our Canes column on bad loss, Diaz's excuse: An awful home loss to 18-point underdog Georgia Tech, 28-21 in OT, dropped the Hurricanes to 3-4 Saturday, and coach Manny Diaz was suddenly talking about a "rebuild." No sale. Lousy excuse, Manny. For my column from the stadium, visit Diaz Playing 'Rebuild' Card As Weak as Canes' Effort in Loss to Ga-Tech. Also, voting continues online all day in the Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

My NFL Week 7 picks: Will the winless Dolphins cover the enormous point spread in Buffalo? Who'll prevail in our Game of the Week? Can we keep our Upset of the Week streak alive? Answers to all of that and more in the gridiron motherlode that is our NFL Week 7 Gems.

Other most recent columns: LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice / No Sacrifice Too Great For Tanking-For-Tua Dolphins / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years / and 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat.

MiabufG6: BUFFALO 31, DOLPHINS 21: STILL WINLESS, BUT ... GOOD TRY?: Vote in our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. Original post: Cannot confirm but I hear the Dolphins didn't take a plane to Buffalo — they drove a tank. But, seriously: Winless tanking-suspect Miami switching from Josh Rosen back to Ryan Fitzpatrick is an indication that rookie coach Brian Flores is A) wishy-washy, or B) actually trying to win. (Maybe both?) Thing is, for Miami this year, trying to win and winning seem Doltanka world apart, and that's the case again today as 0-5 Fins visit 4-1 Buffs. Fitzbeardrick gives Miami a better shot today at 1, but it’s slight. Buffalo, off a bye, presents really strong defense to a Fins offense averaging fewer points per game (8.4) than any NFL team has averaged over a full season since 1977. The Beard will be under sack-attack all day. The upset hope — more likely the beating-point-spread hope — is that Miami’s D won’t be overwhelmed by a mediocre Buffs offense. Or that Bills QB Josh Allen (seven INTs, two lost fumbles) will charitably continue his proneness to turnovers. Dolphins have lost 17 of last 19 road games to teams with winning record, and that won’t change in Billsville. But I do lean to Miami covering a very big point spread for what should be a score-shy game. Cote’s pick: Buffalo, 23-10. Click NFL Week 7 Gems for all our latest picks. And watch for the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll right after today's game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6 55.2%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 55.2 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 31-21 loss at Buffalo putting Miami’s season record at 0-6. That's another season high in an odd year in which DSM voting reflects the sizable influence of "Tanking for Tua" voters among Dolfans who would otherwise likely be very disappointed overall. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 8:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Oct. 28 following game at Pittsburgh.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT: It's Opening Week for Miami's regular season: The Heat's 32nd NBA season, d.b.a. Year 1 of the Jimmy Butler era, opens Wednesday night at home vs. Memphis. That's after an encouraging preseason in which Miami was 4-0 with a plus-75 points differential before closing with a loss vs. Houston Friday night. Can the Butler do it? Front a playoff team? The cloud: Dion Waiters suspended for the opener for, essentially, pouting and childish behavior.

2. HURRICANES: Ugh. UM embarrassed in home to Ga-Tech: Manny Diaz had an excuse. He said after Miami's 28-21 OT loss to 18-point underdog Georgia Tech that this was a"rebuild" season. Uh oh. No sale. Lousy excuse. This team can't put away bad opponents and should be better than 3-4. Period.

3. DOLPHINS: Fins tease but stay winless in Buffalo: Miami was the NFL's biggest underdog this week (although by now that may go without saying), but gave it a decent shot in a 31-21 loss Sunday. Fins are 0-6 now but led much of Sunday's game. Alas, in the NFL, you get no points for "good try."

4. MLB: It's Nationals vs. Astros, and I'm World Serious: World Series Game 1 is tonight/Tuesday after Nationals swept Cardinals 4-0 and Astros eliminated Yankees 4-2 on last night's walkoff homer by tiny Jose Altuve. The Astros won the World Series in 2017. Washington last cheered a World Series champion (then the Senators) in 1924. If you aren't living in downtown Houston or related to an Astro, you'd better be rooting for the Nats.

5. INJURIES: Loss of Mahomes, Zion rocks two leagues: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, reigning NFL MVP, and Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson, NBA overall No. 1 draft pick, will miss several weeks with knee injuries. People immediately calling Zion the next Greg Oden: Chill, please. 

6. NBA: LeBron drags himself into China mess: Lakers star LeBron James embroiled himself in NBA's China controversy by criticizing Rockets GM Daryl Morey, whose tweet in support of Hong Kong protests started this. James called Morey "misinformed." No. It's called "freedom of expression," LeBron.

7. PANTHERS: Cats back home after needed win: Panthers with a much-needed 3-2 shootout win in Nashville Saturday night are now 3-5 on the season with three OT losses. Cats are back home tonight/Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh looking to get on a run. Or a skate?

8. SOCCER: New-look MLS playoffs underway: The 14-team, three-week Major League Soccer playoffs got underway Saturday with a new single-elimination, win-or-done format. So the one-year countdown has begun to Inter Miami's first playoff game. Right, David Beckham?

9. INTER MIAMI: Getting close on coach, players: Miami's MLS expansion team set to begin play in 2020 plans to hire its first head coach by the end of October and begin adding players in November. This Thursday, Miami city commission takes (another!) vote related to team's Miami Freedom Park stadium plan. Games, please. Can't wait for spring!

10. NASCAR: Playoff field pares to eight: Sunday at Kansas, NASCAR's current 12-man playoff field pared to eight surviving drivers. The prize: A chance to win the season championship Nov,. 17 at Homestead in South Florida's final year hosting the grand finale.

Missing the HB10 cut: MLB is considering a plan that would eliminate 40 of its 160 minor-league teams. Fortunately, the Miami Marlins are thought to be safe ..... Update: Countdown now 2,436 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Previous select recent columns: Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / 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

October 18, 2019

Our NFL Week 7 picks!; plus LeBron James forgot who he is in following company line on China, and nothing will stop hell-bent Dolphins from finding their Holy Grail. Latest columns & more

1) It's FRIDAY OCTOBER 18. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose to winless Washington with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksDOLPHINS-BILLS, GAME OF THE WEEK, UPSETS: OUR NFL WEEK 7 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season and a solid start to our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, here are our latest selections. Will the winless Dolphins cover the enormous point spread in Buffalo? Who won the tough battle for Game of the Week? Can we keep our Upset of the Week streak alive? Answers to all of that and more may be found in the motherlode that is our NFL Week 7 Gems. Alas, got off to a bad start to our week last night, as we incorrectly had the Broncos upsetting the Chiefs in Denver. Um, the Chiefs won 30-6. This was our worst pick of the year. I make my picks by a mixture of research, methodology and gut feeling. In this case I felt KC was the better team poised to rebound from two straight losses -- but allowed me to talk me into the Broncos. Dumb. Against form. Tally ho!

LebchinaLEBRON JAMES FORGETS WHO HE IS, FOLLOWS COMPANY LINE ON CHINALeBron James is the villain now, to many, for one comment this week that served to inflame rather than quell the fallout from the NBA’s China crisis. It isn’t especially fair, but this is the take-sides society we have become, where the moderate middle has disappeared and nuance gets bludgeoned by the immediacy of outrage that social media provides (and encourages). So LeBron is the sellout now, right? The faker who turned his back on social justice where money was involved? First, the easy answer: No. He isn’t. The I Promise School that James founded for at-risk kids in Akron, Ohio, is thriving. In Miami we remember when he wore that hoodie in support of Trayvon Martin. James spoke out against that white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has defended Colin Kaepernick against the misrepresentations. Worn “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during warmups. Spoke out on stage at the 2016 ESPYs. At every turn, James — still the biggest star in the NBA at 34 even as "best player" is now arguable — has shown his heart is right. There is a world off the court that he cares to impact, and does. He is a model for athlete activism, for the use of platform and voice. It is only in this context of credibility earned that raised eyebrows this week when he said Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey "wasn’t informed" in writing the tweet that caused the firestorm. For our entire latest column, please visit LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice

Select most recent other columns: Another Dolphins Loss, But There was Fight And Heart This Time (loss to Washington) and Hurricanes Finally Get Quality Win -- And The Spark They Needed (win over Virginia). Also: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years / and 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat.

Tank4tuaNO SACRIFICE TOO GREAT FOR TANKING-FOR-TUA DOLPHINS TO FIND THEIR HOLY GRAIL: Tua Tagovailoa by gradual degrees appears more and more in focus to Miami Dolphins fans. Nearer and nearer. More and more real. But he appears less like a quarterback in Alabama red than as a savior in a flowing robe, back-lit by a halo of sunlight. That sound ... are those angels singing? A dispatch from Tanking Central: This is like few seasons ever seen in sports and none ever experienced in South Florida: One team so strategically awful, with one player in mind — and no sacrifice too great to reach that Holy Grail. Perversely, the historically winless Dolphins in the midst of overtly Tanking For Tua might be the biggest story of this NFL season. It has become a national controversy. It has split a fan base with winning versus tanking the wedge. This franchise hasn’t made this much news for being this embarrassing since, well, OK, I would say since knucklehead Richie Incognito was bullying a teammate, except that the offensive line coach caught snorting white powder off his desk happened more recently. But this embarrassment is happening on the field. In the open. It’s being televised! To read my entire recent column, please visit No Sacrifice Too Great For Tanking-For-Tua Dolphins.

Loboslogo NFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 6: WIN, WIN, WIN!: NFL picks -- Pretty great, actually. We deftly navigated an upset-laden week to go 10-4 overall and a terrific 11-3 (!) against the point spread. We nailed another Upset of the Week with 49ers over Rams ("Aawwk!"), bull's-eyed Cardinals' upset of Falcons and hit a third outright upset, though a mini-one (1-point line), with Saints winning at Jaguars. Also had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Dolphins, Bengals and Steelers. We're having another big season. All abooaarrd! ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (16-team PPR) -- Yes! Greg's Lobos rose to even at 3-3 with an 85.4 to 63.4 spanking of Randy Scott. Got 24.8 from Patrick Mahomes (who's good even when he isn't great) and a nice 20.6 bounceback from Mike Evans. We're tied for sixth of 16 teams and thinking playoffs. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Yes again! Lobos are now 3-3 with a 139-133 win. Kept the faith in Stefon Diggs and got a 43-point reward. Also cashed 29 from Deshaun Watson. We're tied for fourth place and playoff-hunting. And we get Saquon Barkley back soon. Go 'Bos!

Previous select recent columns: Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (preseason NFL Team Rankings) / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / 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

October 15, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 53.5%. That's season high after 17-16 loss to Washington as Tanking for Tua crowd steps up; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), or Fins and Canes columns, NFL Week 6 picks & more

1) It's MONDAY OCTOBER 14. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA should end China ties with column, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 5 results, why Dolphins-Redskins isn't must-lose for Miami & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Monday!: I'm co-hosting the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz today/Monday this week, not Tuesday. It airs 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. And catch the local hour (#LOUR) via links on show's social media platforms.

DOLPHINS COLUMN FROM SUNDAY'S GAME: Another Dolphins Loss, But There was Fight And Heart This Time.

Column from Canes' big win over Virginia: For my column from the stadium on UM's 17-9 win over No. 20 Virginia Friday night, please visit Hurricanes Finally Get Quality Win -- And The Spark They Needed. And scroll to previous blogpost for buoyant result of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

Our most recent other columnsWhy Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? and Why Woeful Dolphins-Redskins Matchup Is Not Must-Lose For Miami. Also: Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years (as NHL season unfurled) / Why Woeful Dolphins-Redskins Matchup Is Not Must-Lose For Miami / and 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat (as team entered preseason).

Skinsfan DolfanG5: WASHINGTON 17, DOLPHINS 16: WINLESS BOWL ANOTHER LOSER FOR MIAMI, BUT AT LEAST FINS SHOW FIGHT: [Please visit Another Dolphins Loss, But There was Fight And Heart This Time for my game column from stadium]. Original post: The 0-5 Skins visit the 0-4 Fins Sunday at 1, and something's gotta give. Mathematically there is a 0.3 Miawaspercent chance of a tie game here. Save for that negligible possibility, somebody is going to win this Winless Bowl. Somebody is going to be the least-terrible. In this epic battle of Movable Object versus Stoppable Force, one team will outscore the other. Are you sitting? IT WILL BE MIAMI! THE DOLPHINS WILL WIN! THE DOLPHINS WILL WIN!! (And, no, the world will not end. It will not mean the death of Tanking For Tua. Just a lil’ respite. Long season, folks). Miami’s minus-137 is the worst NFL point differential through four games since 1940. Washington is so bad it fired its coach already. That the Redskins are favored by 3 1/2 points underlines the perception that Miami is far and away the NFL's worst team. Still, I don't think they will be today. Case Keenum will return from injury to QB the Skins on Sunday, but that team is a turnover machine no matter who pitches. Fins are coming off a bye and riding a five-game home win streak over this foe. That’s enough for me, Dolfans. Champagne or regrets ready, depending on your point of view. Cote's pick: Dolphins, 20-17. (Visit Week 6 Gems for all of our latest NFL selections).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 53.5%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 53.5 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 17-16 home loss vs. Washington putting DsmMiami’s season record at 0-5. That's a season high as the Tanking for Tua crowd makes its voice heard. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Oct. 20 following game at Buffalo.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Skins edge Fins in epic Winless Bowl: Matchups in the NFL or, heck, in all of sports don't get much sadder than 0-5 Washington at 0-4 Miami, but, oddly, an exciting game ensued. Miami showed heart and fight, but no win i a 17-16 loss when a 2-point try failed with six seconds left. No small consolation: The Road to Tua just got clearer.

2. HURRICANES: Big win over Virginia lifts season hopes: UM still is only 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the ACC, but Friday night's 17-9 home win over No. 20 Virginia felt like it chased away a cloud and gave this season hope again. Now all the Canes have to do is run the table from here.

3. MLB: Final four as League Championship Seriess underway!: Nationals lead Cardinals 2 games to 0 and Yankees-Astros are tied 1-1 in the NL and AL 7-game championship series continuing today/Monday in Washington. Go Nats! End the drought!

4. PANTHERS: Cats having the slow start they didn't want: New-look Florida has now played five games and lost four in the young NHL season underway, failing so far to avoid the slow start that has plagued this franchise. Next: Monday at New Jersey. Snap lout of it, Cats!

5. HEAT: Encouraging start to preseason for Miami: Heat are 2-0 in preseason, led by 18 from Tyler Herro and 19 from Dion Waiters, both off the bench. It's three more exhibitions this week starting Monday vs. Atlanta before regular season opens Oct. 23. Meanwhile there was a roast for Dwyane Wade Saturday night . The man does not retire quietly.

6. GATORS: Florida misses big chance, falls to LSU: A week after beating top-10 Auburn, NO. 7 Florida fell Saturday at No. 5 LSU, 42-28. Big opportunity missed, because, with No. 3 Georgia losing earlier in the day, the Florida-LSU winner would position itself for a legit shot at making the College Football Playoff. 

7. NBA: China mess shadows league as season nears: A tweet by the Rockets GM in support of Hong Kong protests enraged China and created a mess for the NBA as league was there for preseason events. Perhaps a good time for NBA to reconsider doing business with a country that blatantly violates human rights?

8. GYMNASTICS: Queen Simone does it again: American gymnast Simone Biles, 22, made history at the 2019 World Gymnastic Championships in Germany, winning a (male or female) record 24th medal at the competition and a fifth all-round world title. G.O.A.T in leotards.

9. SOCCER: Inter Miami wins coin flip for No. 1 MLS draft pick: Inter Miami out-flipped fellow expansion team Nashville to win the No. 1 pick in the Nov. 19 MLS Expansion Draft. First, though, INter Miami must win a key Oct. 24 city commission vote related to its Freedom Park stadium project. Games, please.

10. WNBA: Delle Donne leads Washington Mystics to title: Season MVP Elena Delle Donne overcame a herniated disk to score 21 as Washington beat Connecticut in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals for their first championship. It capped the league's 23rd season. I'm going to have to catch a game one of these days.

Missing the HB10 cut: No. 3 Georgia chokes in OT loss to South Carolina. Wonder if Dawgs fans will find away to blame Mark Richt? ..... Kenyan superstar runner Eliud Kipchoge broke the 2-hour marathon barrier in 1:59.40.2 Saturday, a once unfathomable feat. I once covered 26.2 miles even quicker, but didn't get credit because I was in a car ..... NASCAR playoffs continue today at Talladega for 12 remaining drivers. Gentlemen, start your sweating ..... The Philadelphia Flyers have a "rage room" in the arena where (for a price) fans can take out their frustrations and break things. Dolphins could use a few of those, no? ..... The XFL announced its first draft would be held Oct. 28, 2000, assuming the startup football league hasn't folded by then ..... Kansas basketball hired rapper Snoop Dogg for a preseason event on campus and seemed shocked that his performance was profane. Um, had they heard of Snoop Dogg before? ..... As they are now allowing women into soccer matches for the first time in 40 years, please join me in welcoming the government of Iran to the 21st Century! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,443 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Previous select recent columns: Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (preseason NFL Team Rankings) / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / 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