February 18, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Kaepernick and Kuchar columns, your verdict on Murray vs. Tagovailoa for Dolphins & more

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

Prezday1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18. Happy Presidents' Day. I honor the office and what it stands for. Not always the man in it. But the office. 2) Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Matt Kuchar/underpaid caddie tempest, Dolphins' QB plan with poll, Parkland 1-year anniversary & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Colin Kaepernick, Caddiegate, Kyler Murray: Our most recent columns: Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is SignedHe Was Wrong To Stiff Caddie, But Vilifying Kuchar is Wrong, Too /  And Why Murray Is Perfect Fit For Dolphins.

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT/NBA: Wade's 'Last Dance' pauses for All-Star Game: It was Team LeBron rallying to beat Team Giannis 178-164 in a typically defense-oriented (!) NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte Sunday night. Heat's Dwyane Wade, a special all-star roster addition, scored seven points with four assists off the bench in 10 minutes of action in the final all-star bow of his Last Dance farewell season. Now back to earth: Miami will return from the break Thursday at 26-30 and narrowly off playoff pace.

2. MARLINS: Fish open full spring training: Marlins are up in Jupiter (the city, not the planet) for Monday's first full-squad work of spring training. With catcher J.T. Realmuto now a Phillie, every Miami veteran with any appreciable trade value has now been swapped out for prospects. Fish could be good someday. We just have no idea when.

3. MOTORSPORTS: Hamlin takes Daytona 500: Denny Hamling won the Daytona 500 for the second time in four years Sunday in NASCAR season-opening race, one marred as usual by multiple wrecks. William Byron (whom Hot Button is not pretending to have heard of) was on the pole. Too bad. Nobody has won this race from the pole position since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women win at No. 2 Louisville: After earlier stunning No. 4 Notre Dame, Katie Meier's Canes women -- 22-5 and ranked 20th -- visited second-ranked Louisville Sunday and won 79-73. The drama for UM's men is of a far different sort. Jim Larranaga's guys (11-14) will need a miracle finish in last five games and in ACC Tournament for any prayer of an invite to NCAAs.

5. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB, NFL settle collusion grievance: I'm no lawyer, but this I know: the settlement of a collusion grievance is a compromise but one that does not mean there was no collusion to keep Colin Kaepernick out of the league. Simple to end all doubts, though. Somebody sign the guy!

6. CANES BASEBALL: Canes open season, DiMare era with sweep: With Jim Morris retired after 25 seasons, Gino DiMare took over as coach as the Hurricanes wrapped their season-opening home series vs. Rutgers Sunday with a three-game sweep: 19-3, 7-1, 9-3. Canes are unranked. For now.

7. MATT KUCHAR: 'Cheapskate Champ' finally does right by caddie: The PGA Tour's Caddiegate starred Matt Kuchar, who, after winning a tournament and its $1.3 million prize, paid his fill-in caddie a paltry $5,000. Social media vilification ensued. Friday, Kuchar relented, apologize and said he'd give the bag man 50K.

8. PANTHERS: Barkov hat trick lifts Cats: Florida, in the midst of a seven-game homestand, beat Montreal Sunday behind Aleksander Barkov's hat trick. But Cats are still a big 11 points off playoff pace two-thirds into the NHL season. Panthers have won than three games in a row only once all season. Streak, please?

9. BOB COSTAS: Broadcaster breaks silence on NBC split: Bob Costas revealed details of his breakup with NBC Sports after a 38-year run, saying it came down to his outspokenness on NFL brain injuries clashing with NBC's pricey partnership with the league. No surprise: Costas leaves with his integrity intact.

10. INSPIRATION: A coach with no arms or legs: ESPN told the story of Rob Mendez, a California high-school football coach born without arms or legs. Store away the previous sentence in the back of your mind for use the next time you start feeling sorry for yourself.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Dolphins introduced new coach Brian Flores' staff of assistants to the media on Friday. Time now for them to introduce Miami to something nearly forgotten: a winning Fins team ..... Week 2 for the new Alliance of American Football, and I can already feel interest fading ..... Bengals RB Mark Walton, the ex-Cane, was arrested in Miami for snatching a cell phone from a woman during an argument. And the propensity of some pro athletes to be their own worst enemy continues to astound ..... Finalists for the 2019 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class are led by Marques Johnson, Jack Sikma, Ben Wallace and Paul Westphal, verifying once and for all they're letting too many people in ..... David Beckham watched his first Salford City match since becoming a 10-percent owner of the English non-Premier League club. Hey Becks, how about you concentrate on Inter Miami, yes? ..... R.I.P. Gordon Banks, famed British goalkeeper who ended his career with Fort Lauderdale Strikers in late '70s, gone at 81 ..... Update: Countdown now 2,681 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

KaepNO KAEPERNICK COLLUSION? ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN SETTLEMENT: Colin Kaepernick settled his collusion grievance against the NFL on Friday, but the quarterback remains unsigned entering his third season of suspicious unemployment. For my newest column, please visit Stain On NFL Stays Until Kaepernick Is Signed. Friday's settlement should not have surprised anyone. The player knows how difficult it is to prove collusion in court. And the NFL wanted very badly to spare commissioner Roger Goodell and several team owners from being deposed and having their phone records and emails examined. It also is important to note that settling the collusion grievance does not mean there was no collusion to blackball Kaepernick from the league, or that there isn't still. I'd rehash the whole background here, but you're living under a rock if you don't know the polarizing QB is where he is as the father of the NFL players' social justice movement that has included kneeling during the national anthem. All it will take is one brave team to see in the "athlete/activist" first as a really good quarterback who is better than what they've got. Only then will the stain of collusion begun to fade.

POLL RESULTS: IT'S TAGOVAILOA OVER MURRAY FOR FINS: We asked, "Which of these 2 options would you prefer as a Miami Dolphins quarterback plan?" And you preferred drafting Tua Tagovailoa in 2020 over Kyler Murray in 2019 by 57.50 percent to 42.50%. So a somewhat less than overwhelming majority is buying into the prevalent "tank in '19 for Tua in '20" theory -- even though odds are against Miami being bad enough next season to draft high enough to get him. And a sizable minority agree with me about fast-tracking the future by going for the more gettable Murray in this April's draft.

Other most recent columns: Taking On NFL Cost Costas His Job, But Not His Integrity / The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019 / The Redemption Of Manny Diaz / Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble.

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2019

New: Why Dolphins are poised to hit big with Flores gamble; plus Patriots win and so did I on Super Bowl Sunday; also, our SB pick, Smirk Quintet, your Canton verdict, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Happy new month, all. Do good, Feb! 2) Football is at its crescendo so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk I-II-III-IV-V, Pro Football Hall of Fame poll, Super Bowl pick & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW COLUMN: DOLPHINS POISED TO HIT BIG WITH FLORES HIRE:The Dolphins have made only two head-coaching since the Don Shula era that should have had fans truly excited: Jimmy Johnson in 1995, and Nick Saban in 2005. Brian Flores, in 2019, could be the third. I explain why in my new column: Visit Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble to read.

PATRIOTS WON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY. SO'D DOLPHINS. AND SO DID I: Unorthodox game and odd score, 13-3, but Patriots last night won sixth championship of the Brady/Belichick era. The Dolphins won, too, because now they get Brian Flores, the New England defensive play-caller whose handprints were on Sunday's win and who now becomes the Fins next head coach. I won, too. I had the Patriots winning outright. (Check). I had the Patriots comfortably covering at minus 2 1/2 points. (Check). And I had the 'under' on what what a 56 1/2-point line on total scoring. (Check). A fitting end to our personal-record-setting season of picks!

SbliiiSUPER BOWL LIII: RAMS VS. PATRIOTS: THE PICK: Do you suffer from Super Bowl Week Syndrome? This is a medically recognized malady that causes headaches and victims’ eyes to glaze over from the the incessant parade of media hype for the big game. Do you suffer from Patriot Fatigue? Symptoms of this diagnosis — prevalent to nearly epidemic levels outside of Massachusetts — include acute irritability over the very idea of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick winning yet again. Either way, folks, for better or worse, it’ll all be over soon! Atlanta hosts the 53rd SB and Brady and Belichick haven’t actually been in all of them, it only seems that way. New England’s Double-G.O.A.T. quarterback/coach combo is merely making a ninth Super appearance together, in search of a record sixth NFL championship. These two have more rings than Saturn. But will they add one more or is the dynasty about to end as 120 Americans bear witness? An L.A. Rams team led by a 24-year QB (Jared Goff) and a 33-year-old coach (Sean McVay) is well-poised to represent “Next!” But can they? I’m doubting it. There’s a neat full-circle thing in play here, because it was the Rams (then in St. Louis) who gave Brady/Belichick its first Super Bowl win 17 years ago. Rams haven't been back to the Big Game since, ‘til now. New England was way back then a 14-point underdog; Sunday they're 2 1/2 -point favorites. Faith in the Pats is easy by now. New England is playing its best ball of the season, nobody is more clutch on this stage than Brady, and now it seems Rob Gronkowski has gotten his second wind. That’s huge, because the Rams have defended tight ends poorly all season. The Patriots’ defense also is better all-round than L.A.’s, which has given up 30-plus points seven times. Then there’s Belichick. He has a great track record vs. young QBs, of which Goff still qualifies. He also earned his Genius Card by limiting opponents’ most dangerous threat, which is why I think he’ll find a way to insulate Brady from the Rams’ up-the-gut pass rush led by Aaron Donald. I know that underdogs tend to be a smart Super Bowl play; that ‘dogs have won six of the past seven SBs outright. But that trend ends here. Yes, the Patriots have been much better at home than on the road this year. But consider this: For New England, the Super Bowl is home. (For the full preview/predix, visit Super Bowl Gem). Our pick: Patriots, 31-24.

SmirkTHE 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK' QUINTET: Smirk returned with five daily notes columns poking fun at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game:

Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed top Honors night. But what about Miss Colombia? -- Previewing NFL Honors night hosted by Steve Harvey. Also: Lamb belly, Lil Yachty, Greg Economou. 

Smirk IV: Of 100-plus Super Bowl Canes, he was 1st -- Meet UM Hurricane whose historical distinction will always be his alone. Also: Merriam-Webster's SB analysis, amputation, Etrade Baby.

Smirk III: No comment, say halftime performers -- Maroon 5 canceled halftime-show presser as Roger Goodell tried to explain away Saintsgate. Also: Romo's non-pick, 442 prop bets. 

Smirk II: No. 1 Dolfan on edge of history -- For 34th straight season Miami didn't make Super Bowl. But team's biggest fan did. Also: Clydesdale dates Betty White, Hungary, Ed Mangan. 

Smirk I: Welcome to 'Suit' Bowl LVIII -- Join host city Atlanta in welcoming Patriots, Rams, lawsuits, anger and a squirming NFL commissioner. Also: Dodgeball, Pizza Hut, haggis.

EdreedPOLL RESULT: REED, GONZALEZ TOP YOUR PICKS FOR CANTON: We asked, "Which of 18 finalists should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?" and gave you up to six votes. The maximum vote for any one player would be 16.7 percent if every voter used all six votes, and you'd multiply any player's total by six for an idea the percent of ballots that included that person. Got all that? Your top six: Safety Ed Reed (pictured) with 17.27%, tight end Tony Gonzalez 15.07%, cornerback Champ Bailey 11.77%, running back Edgerrin James 7.69% and tackle Tony Boselli 6.91%. (Next best were coach Don Coryell 5.34% and receiver Isaac Bruce 5.18%). Applying the 80 percent requirement used in actual Hall of Fame voting, only Reed and Gonzalez were voted into Canton by you all, although Bailey came close.

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

Hotbutton1. NFL: Patriots beat Rams in weird Super Bowl: The Patriots were 2 1/2-point favorites over the Rams as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady attempt to win (what seems like) their 943rd Super Bowl together. It was actually their sixth, 13-3, in an oddly low-scoring, somewhat boring letdown of a game. New England is the team we love to hate. Los Angeles shouldn't even have been there except the officials screwed the Saints. Um, was anybody else rooting for both teams to lose?

2. HEAT: Wade's 'Last Dance' includes All-Star nod: His team is the epitome of mediocrity at 24-27 after three straight losses and eighth in the East entering a six-game road trip starting Tuesday. The good news? Dwyane Wade's farewell season will see him  in the Feb. 17 All-Star Game after Wade and Dirk Nowitzki made as it "special additions" of commissioner Adam Silver. Hi-yo, Silver!

3. HURRICANES: Transfer Portal kings await national signing day: After a bad end to the season, an unexpected coaching change and a lousy early recruiting period, UM football has roared back as this Wednesday's National Signing Day looms. Miami nabbed four of 247sports' top 17 available transfer including Ohio State QB Tate Martell to make what happens Wednesday less urgent than it might have been.

4. NFL HONORS: Ex-Cane Reed makes Canton, Mahomes is MVP: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes won league MVP in a runaway and ex-Hurricane Ed Reed led the new Hall of Fame class at the NFL Honors awards show on Super Bowl eve in Atlanta Saturday night. Joining Reed in Canton: Tony Gonzalez, Champ Bailey, Ty Law, Johnny Robinson, Kevin Mawae, Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt. Shoulda been picked but denied: Isaac Bruce.

5. PANTHERS: Cats trade Bujgstad, McCann: Florida (21-29 and nine points off playoff pace even with Saturday's win over Vegas) traded forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to Pittsburgh for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and three 2019 draft picks. That's either a white towel waving on this season or a last shot at jolting it to life. We'll see.

6. NBA: Unibrow fined for trade talk as deadline nears: Player movement a hot topic approaching Thursday's NBA trade deadline. Anthony Davis was fined 50K for publicly saying he wanted out of New Orleans. The Knicks dealt Kristaps Porzingis. Kyrie Irving may be moving. And who will LeBron lure to L.A?

7. DOLPHINS: As Flores arrives, Tannehill on way out: Pats assistant Brian Flores will soon be introduced as Miami's next head coach now that his team's season is (finally) ending. Meantime, it was reported the Fins will parts ways with QB Ryan Tannehill. Wait. Is that news? Hearing Miami will part with Tannehill is like hearing your 104-year-old grandpa died. It wasn't if, just when.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men continue freefall: Jim Larranaga's guys, once 5-0, fell to 9-12 overall and 1-8 (ugh) in ACC play with Saturday's 56-46 loss at No. 3 Virginia. At least the No. 23 Canes women are 19-5 after a Sunday home win over Virginia.

9. MARLINS: FanFest ushers in spring in five days: FanFest is this coming Saturday and the start of spring training will soon follow as the Marlins gear for Year 2 of the Derek Jeter era. Meanwhile trading away catcher J.T. Realmuto for prospects (to the Braves, perhaps?) continues to percolate on the hot stove.

10. SKIING: Vonn announces she's retiring: American Lindsay Vonn, 34, said she'll retire after the World Championships in Sweden later this month. She has won 82 World Cup races, second all-time. Also could describe Tiger Woods naked, if she wanted to.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sentences I Never Imagined Writing (one in a series): "Golfer Sergio Garcia was disqualified from an event in Saudi Arabia for intentionally destroying greens ..... Update: Countdown now 2,695 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Most recent non-Smirk columns: Le'Veon wants Dolphins, And Interest Should Be Mutual / Bonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road / We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints. Also: This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 08, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 23, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Dolphins training camp? Wade to China? Soccer? See what's No. 1 and who else falls where; plus our latest column (Fins), your Dolphins anthem-policy verdict, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 23. R.I.P., Tony Sparano, former Dolphins head coach, dead suddenly and unexpectedly at age 56. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins anthem policy poll, Miami MLS stadium wins to get on ballot, Time's Trump/Putin cover, your ASG vs. HRD verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Dolphins poised to exceed expectations as camp opens: The offseason segues into the preseason for the Dolphins and 31 other NFL teams with the full start of training camps this week. For Miami it's been a brutal offseason in terms of media criticism and low public perception. But fans should expect better as camp opens. I explore why in my latest column. Click Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal Offseason to read.

Other recent columnsSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootWhy 'Melo To Miami Would Be Strange MarriageLeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth ApplaudingTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursTannehill's Defining Season.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Training camp opens under (more) anthem cloud: Offseason turns to preseason with Thursday's first full Dolphins practice of training camp. Meantime the NFL firestorm over national-anthem protests enters its third year with Miami in the middle. Dolphins instituted a policy threatening four-game suspensions for on-field protests, then walked that back as NFL put on hold its new go-hide policy mandating that any protests be off the field and out of view.

2. SOCCER: Miami MLS stadium gets onto ballot: By the perfect soccer score of 3-2 the Miami City Commission voted to allow the Miami Freedom Park soccer stadium initiative onto the November ballot. Public approval of a stadium at the Melreese site would then lead to lease negotiations between the Beckham group and city. Meantime the team set to begin play in 2020 has targeted Atlanta United VP Paul McDonough as its new general manager.

3. HEAT: No 'Melo. Now can Miami keep Wade from China?: Heat and Houston were after Carmelo Anthony, but he was traded to Atlanta in a three-team deal instead, continuing a quiet free agency period for Miami. When your biggest move is re-signing Wayne Ellington for one year, your offseason has been a Lollopa-snoozer. But that could change for the worse if Dwyane Wade, a free agent, actually leaves Miami for the Chinese league's Xinjiang Flying Tigers, who reportedly are offering a monster contract. "Qing buyao zou, Dwyane!" (That means please don't go).

4. MARLINS: Fish back at it after break, stay hot: Miami is now 23-19 since June 5 including 2-1 after the All-Star break after winning the series in Tampa Bay today before now playing six straight at home vs. NL East rivals Atlanta and Washington. With the July 29 trade deadline looming, let's see if Derek Jeter does right and holds onto all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto and ace closer Kyle Barraclough.

5. SOCCER: Hard Rock poised to host ICC soccer: The annual International Champions Cup, a brainchild of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, is coming to Hard Rock Stadium, with Manchester City facing Bayern Munich this coming Saturday and then Manchester United vs. Real Madrid July 31. No more Ronaldo for Real, alas. Still, these club giants figure to deliver a level of futbol comparable to or even exceeding what we just saw in the World Cup.

6. GOLF: Tiger falters, Molinari wins British Open: Tiger Woods shot 66 at Carnoustie in Scotland Saturday, his best major round in seven years, and briefly held the lead Sunday before faltering in the British Open. Tiger in the hunt in a major was all we can ask for. Wait. Check that. I guess all we can ask for would have been his first major win since 2008. Instead Francesco Molinari became the first Italian to win a major. Quick aside: British Open courses are the ugliest on Earth, and those painted-green greens surrounded by brown look ridiculous.

7. HURRICANES: ACC Media Days means football is near: As Mark Richt plans for his Paradise Camp this coming Saturday, ACC Media Day were held in Charlotte. The consensus? Miami should be really good in 2018, and with eight returning starters on defense that Turnover Chain should be flyin'. Canes should win the Coastal Division and have a rematch with Clemson for the conference crown. Wait, we had to fly to Charlotte for that

8. NBA: Kawhi Leonard trade tops the week: San Antonio Spurs traded disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard to Toronto even-up for DeMar DeRozan n a deal that didn't seem to please either player but likely helped both teams. It was NBA's biggest offseason move; well, other than that guy whatshisname going from Cleveland to the Lakers.

9. MLB: It was an especially wild All-Star break: The AL beat the NL 8-6 in a homerfest, one night after hometown hero Bryce Harper won the Home Run Derby. Oh, and Hialeah-born Manny Machado was being traded from the Orioles to the Dodgers during the game. And, oh yeah, it blew up on social media in the middle of the ASG -- while he was on the mound -- that Brewers pitcher Josh Hader had a teenage history of racist, homophobic tweets. Oy!

10. ESPN: ESPY Awards go heavy on emotion: Nobody will remember who won the top individual awards, but few will forget the emotional chords struck as ESPN (appropriately) honored the sexual abuse survivors of disgraced Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser and the three coaches who were among the mass shooting victims at Parkland's Stoneman Douglas High.

Missing the HB10 cut: Big3 basketball, a league of unretired former NBA players, came to the Heat's arena with a tripleheader Friday night. Somewhere, the guy running the Harlem Globetrotters, once the sport's reigning novelty act, is softly weeping ..... Baseball Hall of Fame inductions are next Sunday in Cooperstown. Terrell Owens is boycotting that one, too ..... The Tour de France ends next Sunday. It will be won by somebody I've never heard of and whose name I'll immediately forget ..... Update. Countdown now 2,892 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

POLL RESULTS: POLARIZING, BUT MAJORITY AGAINST NEW DOLPHINS ANTHEM POLICY: We asked, "What do you think of the Miami Dolphins' new national anthem policy threatening players who protest on the field with four-game suspensions or fines?" The response was voluminous (you may still vote), and last we checked it was 60.61 percent against, 36.60% for and 2.79% undecided. Of note, it opened around 70% percent against, but the "for" votes gained traction.

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

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

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .859   96  378  59 105   57  18-1-23    .278

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .856   85 330  62 100   47  18-3-12     .303

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .685   95 370  39  98   51   9-1-10      .265

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 09, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Hotbutton1. WORLD CUP: Unorthodox final four set to go!: It'll be neighbors France vs. Belgium on Tuesday and then England vs. Croatia on Wednesday in World Cup semifinal matches from Russia. No Brazil or anybody else from South America left. No world No. 1 Germany. Italy didn't even qualify. And no surviving team has won it all in at least 20 years. No matter the results from here, the 2018 World Cup will have been nothing if not ... refreshingly different. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 07, 2018

World Cup rooting interest: Which of final 8 teams (now 6, soon 4) do you hope wins it all? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus your verdict on LeBron-to-Lakers, the president and the press & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JULY 7. Hope y'all had a happy (and safe) Fourth of July! For me it's a day of reflection as well as fun. I have not always loved who is president. I have not always loved my country's policies. But I have always loved my country, and been grateful to be among its citizens. 2) Want to surprise the Dolfans in your life? Check out our 'Fins At 50' book on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron to Lakers, Hot Button Top 10, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Cote on vacation: Missed new columns from me lately? It's because I'm on vacation this week. In town, still tending the blog, OD'ing on World Cup, but on vacation. I'll be back with a new column on Monday.

WcupTHE WORLD CUP FINAL EIGHT SIX (SOON FOUR): WHAT'S YOUR ROOTING INTEREST?: Thirty-two nations have been pared to eight -- now six, and soon four -- as the World Cup's quarterfinals stage ran yesterday and again today in Russia. The one good thing about no U.S. team in it is that many of us have had to adopt a team to root for, for whatever reason. I'm curious what your rooting interest is. In this poll I list the final eight national teams still standing in alphabetical order. Brazil and Uruguay were eliminated yesterday. Remember: this is not a poll to predict who will win. This is a rooting-interest poll -- who you WANT to win. And if you don't have a preference, it probably means you haven't been watching, and won't from here, which would be your loss. Past champions in the final eight, ranked in order of most recent title: Brazil (1958-62-70-94-02), France (1998), England (1966) and Uruguay (1930-50). The other four are seeking their first crown. Ready? Vote!

LebronlaWHY LEBRON WAS RIGHT, BEYOND MONEY, TO PICK LAKERS: Well, that was quick. LeBron James decided to take his talents to Hollywood (or thereabouts) on the first day of free agency this past Sunday, agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now if LeBron can coax a Spurs trade of Kawhi Leonard to L.A., he'll be set. In my latest column I write how LeBron should be applauded for his latest decision, because it is good for him and for the NBA. There's a poll below to gauge whether y'all agree with me or not. To read that latest column, click LeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth Applauding. Our four other columns from the past week: LeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-OnMLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town).

POLL RESULT: SUPPORT FOR LEBRON'S MOVE, BUT...: I asked in a poll on my Twitter feed if LeBron James made the right choice by going to the Lakers, more than 2,200 voted, and it was 53 percent yes, 32% no and 15% undecided. I ask the same question in the blog poll above (you may still vote) and it was also yes, but closer, when last I checked. The trend? Pretty strong "yes" sentiment initially, but then an increasing number of "no" votes. 

THE PRESIDENT AND ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS: To preview his latest column, the Herald's Leonard Pitts wrote on Twitter: "I will not blame the murders on the toxic environment fostered by the president and his followers. I will say that in routinely denigrating reporters, they set the stage for what happened. They are not guilty, but they are not innocent, either." We agree. In writing in my blog about the Annapolis murders of five Capital Gazette employees, here is what I wrote last week: "The fear moving forward: That the next assault on journalists might be politically motivated as blatant attacks on the First Amendment and unjustified disparaging of journalists continues to spew from the White House. The president of the United States cannot continue to relentlessly, egregiously and unfairly portray journalists as "fake news" purveyors, as the enemy of the people, and not expect that might eventually result in violence." 

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 02, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10: LeBron-to-Lakers blasts to No. 1 but see what else falls where; also, 4-Man Outfield & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 2. Happy new month, everybody! 2) Want to surprise the Dolfans in your life? Check out our 'Fins At 50' book on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On newspaper murders in Annapolis, Beckham group's smart strategy for MLS Miami, World Cup odds entering knockout stage & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

LeblakersLATEST COLUMN: LEBRON WAS RIGHT, BEYOND MONEY, TO PICK LAKERS: Well, that didn't take long. LeBron James decided to take his talents to Hollywood (or thereabouts) on the first day of free agency Sunday, agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now if LeBron can coax a Spurs trade of Kawhi Leonard to L.A., he'll be set. In my recent column I write how LeBron-to-Lakers was the right  move for him, for several reasons. To read that column, click LeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-On. (Our three other columns from the past week: MLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town).

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

Hotbutton

1. NBA: LeBron acts fast in free agency, now a Laker: LeBron James opted out of his $35.6 million deal in Cleveland to hit the open market as free agency began and quickly signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Evidently Paul George recommitting to Oklahoma City instead of going to L.A. did not hurt the Lakers' chances to bag LeBron. Is a Kawhi Leonard trade to the LAL up next?

2. WORLD CUP: Messi, Ronaldo, Spain all out early in knockout stage: Argentina and Portugal were the first teams ousted as the World Cup's round of 16 knockout stage began over the weekend, meaning the two superstars who stand apart, Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, both were eliminated. Brazil is the betting favorite -- especially now that the co-favorite, Spain, was eliminated Sunday on penalty kicks in a shocking upset by host Russia. Did Valdimir Putin work his magic to influence another outcome? 

3. ANNAPOLIS: Sports reacts as 5 killed at newspaper: The Orioles had a video tribute and moment of silence for the five Capital Gazette employees killed by a reader with vendetta this week, the victims including longtime sports writer John McNamara. Patriots coach  Bill Belichick, who grew up in Annapolis, offered condolences for what he called "my hometown newspaper." Such a tragedy. Journalists deserve respect, not derision from the White House.

4. HEAT: Miami busy in Summer Leagues, at least: Miami is not expected be major player in free agency, but will be busy, anyway, sort of, participating in both NBA summer leagues this month. Heat debut today/Monday vs. Golden State in the summer league being held in Sacramento. It's kiddieball, the Heat roster made up of Bam Adebayo and a bunch of young guys you've likely barely heard of.

5. MARLINS: Top prospect Alcantara makes debut: Top pitching prospect Sandy Alcantara made a winning MLB debut in midst of this long, continuing homestand. More good news: the Fire-Sale Fish are a respectable 14-12 since June 5, are over .400 (well, right at .400) and had climbed over the Mets and out of the NL East cellar before Sunday's loss. Still a lousy season happening, but little rays of light shining through the gloom.

6. SOCCER: MLS Miami progresses on name, stadium: The David Beckham group narrowed its choices to Inter Miami or Atletico Miami as the name for the Miami expansion team that will begin play in Major League Soccer in 2020. The group also has zeroed in on the Melreese Golf Course area as the site for its new stadium. Golden shovels in ground, please. Tick tock!

7. TENNIS: Wimbledon underway in London: Roger Federer and Simona Halep are the top seeds as WImbledon is underway at the All-England Tennis Club. Don't sleep on Serena Williams, who is seeded a post-maternity 25th and pulled out of the French Open injured but may be poised for a deep run in London. Ba-by!

8. DOLPHINS: Fins announce what practices fans may attend: Getting close, Dolfans. Rookies report for training camp July 18 and veterans July 25, with 14 open practices scheduled between July 26 and Aug. 14. Highlight before preseasons games start: A scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium Aug. 4.

9. HORSE RACING: Summit Of Speed runs at Gulfstream: Saturday's Summit Of Speed at Gulfstream saw X Y Jet and Stormy Embrace win the co-feature races at the Hallandale Beach track, the latter's win at 15-1 odds earning an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup.

10. PANTHERS: Cats wrap up developmental camp: Florida completed its week-long developmental camp for recent draftees and other young prospects. Next stop: Preseason games are less than three months away building to the Oct. 6 opener for Panthers' 25th season. 

Missing the HB10 cut: ESPN The Magazine came out with its 10th annual 'Body' issue, in 16 various athletes posed artfully nude. Modesty is a virtue? Um, no, apparently not. Hey, if I'm seeing Greg Norman wearing nuthin' but a cowboy hat it should be in a nightmare, not on a newsstand ..... Update. Countdown now 2,913 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): CAN BRINSON CLIMB TO .190?Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

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

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .846   80  312  48  83   46  16-1-19     .266

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .835   68  263  52  76   34  11-2-11     .289

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .746   78 302  32  86   44   8-1-10      .285

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .574   82  280  21  52   30   6-4-10     .186

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 25, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): World Cup and NBA reign, but see what else falls where; plus Heat In Purgatory (newest column), 4-Man Outfield (Stanton's surge) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 25. Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): When 3 World Cup legends were ours, imagining Trotz to Panthers, on Cats' trade for Hoffman trade, 6 Dolphins in Fantasy Top 200, El Quatro Lobos, latest Back In My Day Video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday column: Heat is in NBA purgatory. Can Riley find a way out?: NBA purgatory is when you're a pretty good team with no clear path to being great. The Miami Heat is that right now, and hamstrung this summer first by no draft picks, and next by no salary-cap money to be a big player in coming free agency. I explore how the Heat got to this point, and how solving the problem may be Pat Riley's last great challenge. To read the column, click Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? 

Other most recent columns: The Championship Coach Who Got Away (on Panthers' non-interest in Barry Trotz). When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours (on Banks, Cubillas and Muller today). And Mickelson's Major Breach Deserves Forgiveness. Also: A Deflated World Cup Thanks to no-USA / End the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can Win / In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand Plan / Tannehill's Defining Season / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris.

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

Hotbutton1. WORLD CUP: Final group-stage games this week: The crazy World Cup is 10 days into its month-long run in Russia, with final group-stage games today through Thursday. Those will set the Round of 16 field -- the knockout round. Six teams have a perfect six points after two group-stage games. But what we mostly know so far is that Messi and the Argentina team better return to their country wearing disguises.

2. NBA: Six days 'til free-agency frenzy starring LeBron: It begins on July 1: NBA free agency. By which we mean, where will LeBron James go? I mean, there are other big FA's such as Paul George. And Kawhi Leonard is up there on the trading block. But the NBA's summer blockbuster is LeBron's decision. Again.

3. HEAT: Expect quiet Miami summer as meat market opens: Heat will field two NBA summer-league teams (in Sacramento and Las Vegas) starting this week. They'll include last year's No. 1 draft pick Bam Adebayo and a bunch of developmental guys. Might be Miami's most action this summer, with not much expected on the free agency front.

4. PANTHERS: NHL Draft tops jam-packed June for Cats: Florida drafted Russian left wing Grigori Denisneko in the first round of the NHL Draft, 15th overall. Came after earlier trade in which the Panthers acquired forward Mike Hoffman, despite his fiance' being accused in a cyberbullying case. Next week comes the Cats' developmental camp for newly drafted guys and other younger players. Oh, and the Islanders signed championship coach Barry Trotz. The Cats weren't interested (!).

5. NBA DRAFT: No Heat picks, but two Canes selected: Heat had no picks, but Miami Hurricanes Lonnie Walker (first round, Spurs) and Bruce Brown (second round, Pistons) were selected. Because of his tall, vertical-dreads hairstyle, the cap Walker wore appeared to be floating -- the visual an absurd delight.

6. MARLINS: Fish back home after 5-4 roadie: Miami completed a 5-4 road trip on Sunday and returns for 10 straight at home starting tonight vs. Arizona. Fish have been a decent 11-8 since June 5 and now are on pace to lose only 98 games! Par-tay!

7. DOLPHINS: Training camp dates revealed: The NFL and Dolphins announced that Miami's rookies will report for training camp on July 18, with the full team convening on July 25. Meaning we're one month from football season pretty much being here. Your fantasy draft scheduled yet? 

8. UM BASEBALL: DiMare era offically begins: Hurricanes held a luncheon to officially install longtime assistant Gino DiMare as the new baseball head coach replacing retired Jim Morris. Meantime the College World Series enters its championship round, where DiMare hopes to be in one year. 

9. NFL: Bucs QB Winston suspended 3 games: The NFL suspended Tampa Bay starting quarterback Jameis Winston out of FSU three games to start the coming season related to his groping a female Uber driver. Dear Bucs: Get Jameis a personal driver. And make sure it's a dude he isn't attracted to.

10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream preps for Summit Of Speed: This coming Saturday's Summit Of Speed tops the Hallandale racetrack's summer schedule. It isn't among the track's three biggest races on the yearly calendar, which tells you how much Gulfstream is flourishing.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "A female fan was left with a black eye when struck by a frankfurter fired by the Phillie Phanatic's hot dog cannon." ..... New redshirt rule in college football allows freshmen to play up to four games without burning their redshirt. It's like a pity rule for coaches lose so many good guys early to NFL Draft ..... The Alliance of American Football has set its eight teams for its inaugural season kicking off just after the Super Bowl. So Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake, San Antonio and San Diego will be the cities losing teams when the league inevitably folds after two seasons ..... Three more weeks 'til MLB All-Star Game. Not too late to vote Lewis Brinson! ..... Update. Countdown now 2,920 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

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

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .853   74  290  46  76   44  15-1-19     .262

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .825   65  254  51  73   32  10-2-10     .287

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .757   72 278  31  79   42   7-1-10      .284

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .557   75  257  18  46   29    5-4-9     .179

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 18, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See if World Cup or Phil's meltdown made No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Father's Day, our Sunday column, your no-USA verdict, 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

Fathers day1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 18. Hope it was a Happy Father's Day for all of my fellow padres out there. Especially to my eldest son and new dad Christopher on his very first! 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): World Cup no-USA poll and talent ranking, USA-Canada-Mexico get 2026 Cup, 'Harry Caray' on '97 World Series & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday column: LeBron starring in NBA summer blockbuster: The NBA is winning the offseason. Again. And the superstar shuffle is one reason basketball is soaring while baseball and football struggle. I explore in my latest column, and also read tea leaves and tarot cards to say which team has emerged as the frontrunner to land James. To read, click this link: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/greg-cote/article213247139.html

Our World Cup columns: Rest of the world might not care, but in America, it isn't the World Cup it should be: Click A Deflated World Cup Thanks to no-USA. And why, with U.S. among hosts for 2026, Miami is certain to be among selected cities: Click 1 Dreamed It, 1 Made It Happen. Other most recent columns: End the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinIn Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand PlanUninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's Subterfuge. Tannehill's Defining Season,  Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris and Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

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

Hotbutton1. WORLD CUP: No USA, no Italy, but they started anyway: The month-long extravaganza has no U.S. team for the first time since 1986 and also is missing four-time champion Italy, but hasn't lacked for early action. Ronaldo scored a hat trick, Messi missed a penalty kick, Spain fired its coach on the eve of the tournament, Mexico stunned Germany -- and we've only just begun!

2. GOLF: Kopeka wins crazy U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka won his second straight U.S. Open on Sunday in one of the wildest ones ever. Phil Mickelson was penalized two strokes for intentionally putting a moving ball, enraging purists who wanted him disqualified. Tiger Woods missed the cut. Dustin Johnson blew a four-stroke lead. Golfers were whining about the fast greens at Shinnecock Hills. Who says golf is boring!?

3. SOCCER: U.S.-led joint bid wins 2026 World Cup: The United States, Canada and Mexico were awarded the 2026 World Cup, with Miami's Hard Rock Stadium a near lock to be included among host venues. Well, that's one way for the U.S. team to qualify to compete, considering host nations get an automatic bid.

4. LEBRON JAMES: Are Lakers frontrunners as free agency nears?: Speculation intensifies as the July 1 start of NBA free agency nears. The idea that the Los Angeles Lakers could end up with free agents LeBron James and Paul George and with Kawhi Leonard via trade is not beyond the realm of possibility. Is LaVar Ball already taking credit?

5. NBA: Draft this week; no Heat but Canes in play: NBA Draft is this Thursday night. Miami Heat have no picks (barring a trade) but two Hurricanes should get picked -- Lonnie Walker in the first round and Bruce Brown likely in the second.

6. MARLINS: Hot-ish Fish continue long road trip: Miami is 8-5 since June 5 even with Sunday's loss at Baltimore. Nine-game road trip now moves on to San Francisco and then to Colorado. Doggone Marlins might avoid 100 losses yet.

7. DOLPHINS: Next stop: Training camp: All of the offseason practices, OTAs and minicamps are done. Theme: Ryan Tannehill looks great! Better than ever! See you in training camp starting in late July, when everything starts to matter. 

8. BOXING: Unbeatens Wilder, Joshua to meet: Undefeated heavyweights Deontay Wilder (4-0, 39 knockouts) and Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) have agreed to fight. I'd watch. 

9. KELLEN WINSLOW JR.: Ex-tight end charged in crime spree: Son of his Hall of Fame father arrested and charged with multiple sexual assaults. Awful story. And what a father's day for Kellen Sr. 

10. FATHER'S DAY: To all the padres out there...: Happy Father's Day to all the good, caring Dads. To the rest of you, be better!

Missing the HB10 cut: College World Series is underway with Florida among favorites, but since Miami isn't in it, we're barely caring ..... MLB All-Star Game is one month from today. Still time to vote Lewis Brinson in ..... Has Alex Ovechkin let go of the Stanley cup yet?

POLL RESULT: NO-USA A SIZABLE BLOW TO WORLD CUP INTEREST: We asked, "How much is your interest in the 2018 World Cup affected by the U.S. not being in it?" Results were varied among four options, but a plurality of 33.92 percent said "A great deal. Much less interested." However 30.04% answered "Not all. As interested as ever." Another 20.49% said "Somewhat. Less interested." And 15.55% said "Not interested, with or without U.S."

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): BRINSON CHASING .180!Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

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

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .847   59  232  47  69   31  10-2-9      .297

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .798   67 259  42  63   37  11-1-16      .243

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .784   65 252  29  74   40   6-1-10      .294

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .545   69  238  15  42   27    3-3-9     .176

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 16, 2018

LeBron picks his landing spot. (Maybe). Our latest column; plus how does no U.S. team affect your interest in 2018 World Cup? Last day to vote in poll; also, ranking WC teams by talent, Will Ferrell's Harry Caray on '97 Marlins World Series & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 16. Had a great time at this week's 790 The Ticket event, Dan LeBatard's Father's Day Fiesta at Fogo de Chao on South Beach. Enjoyed meeting so many of  the show's fans. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami in play as U.S. to co-host 2026 World Cup, me on LeBatard Show psychiatrist couch, our quixotic campaign to get Schnellenberger in Hall of Fame, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

LeBron starring in NBA summer blockbuster: The NBA is winning the offseason. Again. The superstar shuffle is one reason basketball is soaring while baseball and football struggle. I explore in my latest column, and also read tea leaves to say which team has emerged as the frontrunner to land James. To read, click this link: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/greg-cote/article213247139.html

WORLD CUP 2018 POLL: THE NO-USA EFFECT: VOTE NOW!: What best describes the impact on your interest level of the United States not being among the 32 competing nations?:

WcWORLD CUP 2018: SPAIN TOPS IN TALENT: The 2018 World Cup begins today in Russia with the host nation facing Saudi Arabia in the lone match. Betting favorites in the 32-team field are, in order, Brazil, Germany, Spain, France, Argentina and Belgium, with a pretty sharp dropoff after that. Here are the top 10 nations based on ESPN's ranking of the World Cup Top 50 players. We assigned 50 points for the No. 1-ranked player, 49 for No. 2 and so forth:

Team (T50 players)                 Points

Spain (8)                                 206

France (6)                               140

Argentina (5)                          138

Brazil (5)                                135

Belgium (5)                             122

Germany (5)                            113

Uruguay (3)                             79

England (3)                              65

Croatia (2)                              57

Portugal (1)                             49

Others: Egypt 1-44, Poland 1-41, Denmark 1-32, Senegal 1-20, Colombia 2-20 and South Korea 1-14.                 

MIAMI WILL HOST 2026 WORLD CUP MATCHES, AND HERE'S WHY: FIFA yesterday awarded the 2026 soccer World Cup to a joint bid by the United States, Mexico and Canada, and Miami and Hard Rock Stadium are strongly favored to be among host venues selected. That is because of the vision and determination of two men who happen to be the first and current owners of the Miami Dolphins, as I write in my recent column. To read, click 1 Dreamed It, 1 Made It Happen

Other most recent columns: End the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinIn Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand PlanUninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's Subterfuge. Also: When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & GamesThe King, Indeed: LeBron Tops MichaelNFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes AwayTannehill's Defining Season,  Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris and Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

VINTAGE VIDEO: 'HARRY CARAY' ON '97 WORLD SERIES: Happened upon this and thought I'd share: Will Ferrell as Harry Caray on Saturday Night Live, analyzing the 1997 Marlins-Indians World Series. Caray, the legendary Cubs broadcaster, was still alive then but would pass away, at age 83, only four months later, in February of '98:

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

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

Twitter @gregcote