March 30, 2020

Greg Cote Show podcast new Episode 5 out now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, Florida Derby's no-fans ghost race, longtime Herald sports writer buys racehorse and hits jackpot, time for NBA & NHL to shut down, latest 2 'Back In My Days' & more

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 30. Our new Greg Cote Show podcast now has its own Twitter and Instagram sites! Follow both at TheGregCoteShow. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Back In My Day (Quarantining), NBA controversy over coronavirus testing & more. 2) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

New 'Back In My Day': Streaming services!: It debuted on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio. Listen here. We're doing the show remotely from our homes these days, me via Zoom. Sound isn't great. Hope you enjoy, anyway! Starts around the 23:15 mark of Hour 1. 

CoteshowHEAR NEW GREG COTE SHOW PODCAST -- EPISODE 5!: Our new Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," premiered this month and Episode 5 is now available! You can find a new Greg Cote Show out every Monday morning on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Megaphone or wherever you do your podding, and of course at MiamiHerald.com. Or find all five episodes we've done including the new one directly right here. Please listen, subscribe, rate and review! Our podcast is a variety show, sports and non-sports, 3-0-5 and national, fun and (when absolutely necessary) serious. In new Episode 5 we interview the man who brought notorious sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein to justice. There's fun stuff, too, as we share things we're doing in the Stay at Home era, I get mocked over halibut fishing and we introduce a new Q&A feature called Greg's Mail Sack. Check it out now HERE!

'BACK IN MY DAY': QUARANTINING!: I talk about being hunkered down at home in this recent BIMD, which probably has generated more favorable reaction than any I've done. Here is the link to it from the Le Batard Show's Instagram: Back In My Day; Quarantining!

My column on (but not at) the Florida Derby: Tiz the Law won the ghost race. No fans. No cheering. Clark Spencer's horse finished fourth. My column: In Midst Of Pandemic, A Horse Race.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MARCH 29-30): 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. CORONAVIRUS: A sports ponders when and how the games will resume: America is two full weeks into staying at home and turning hand-washing into an art to fight the still-growing global coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. And adjusting to a life without sports as leagues try to figure out when they'll be able to resume and play a major role in our return to normalcy.

2. OLYMPICS: Summer Games in Tokyo delayed a full year: The IOC finally relented, found its senses, and announced the 2020 Games set to start in late July will now be the 2021 Olympics. 

3. HORSE RACING: Tiz the Law wins the "ghost race" Florida Derby: xStrong favorite Tiz the Law won the 69th Florida Derby Saturday on a race day with no fans and no media allowed.

4. MLB: The Opening Day that never happened: Opening Day on March 26 found baseball shuttered and wondering when it might start, increasingly likely with a shortened season. Meantime Strat-O-Matic is simulating the entire season, surprising those who were unaware the board game still existed.

5. DOLPHINS: Fins use social distancing to intro new free agents: Miami introduced its newly signed free agents led by cornerback Byron Jones in a video press conference via the Zoom app.

6. HEAT: Haslem scolds spring breakers in his town: The Heat's Miami-born Udonis Haslem damned spring breakers for partying in his city and being slow to leave in The Players Tribune.

7. DREW BREES: Saints QB makes huge donation to fight virus: Brees donated $5 million to Louisiana toward feed the needy and helping health car workers. Hero.

8. DORIS BURKE: ESPN fixture reveals she has virus: Burke, ESPN's much-loved NBA broadcaster, says she is now asymptomatic and feeling better. 

9. NHL: Hockey postpones three June events: The 2020 NHL Scouting Combine (June 1-6), awards show (June 18) and draft (June 26-27) all were indefinitely postponed.

10. AUTO RACING: Indianapolis 500 postponed: The biggest of the IndyCar races will be delayed three months, moving from May 24 to, it hopes, August 23. 

Missing the HB10 cut: The Greg Cote Show podcast, Episode 5, is out Monday morning! Please listen, subscribe, rate, review and stay home ..... WNBA will hold its April 17 draft virtually, and televise it. You hearing that, NFL? ..... UFC starJon (Bones) Jones got arrested for DUI and firearms possession. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Can we please stop acting like guys playing video games (i.e. teams in the Overwatch League) are playing an actual sport? ..... Marlins "classic games" are being replayed on 940 WINZ. Yes, wise guy, there actually are a few ..... Keep booing the sign-stealing Astros, please. Even when they're not playing ..... R.I.P., Curly Neal, all-time Harlem Globetrotters great ..... And in other news, Eric Dickerson says the new Rams logo "looks like a penis" ..... Update: Countdown now 2,282 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup, by which time hopefully we're all out of our houses.

LONGTIME HERALD SPORTS WRITER BUYS RACEHORSE, HITS JACKPOT: [Thanks to Peter King for naming this his Spots Column of the Week] "This all started the day I got hit in the [crotch] my last day on the job." And thus begins the unlikely tale of a South Florida man who retired after a long career, bought a small share of a racehorse on a whim and on Saturday will watch his thoroughbred run in the prestigious Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park Clarkjose Thegovwith a chance to qualify for the postponed Kentucky Derby and a shot at winning the Triple Crown. Clark Spencer is the man who played the lottery for the first time and won. A gamble that almost always proves to be a losing proposition and major money drain — owning a racehorse — has a chance in this case to be profitable. The name should be familiar to Miami Herald readers. Spencer, of Pembroke Pines, was a journalist 40 years and a Herald sportswriter for 30, first covering horse racing, and the last 20 as the Marlins baseball beat writer. That ended last year during spring training in late February in Jupiter. Clark was standing outside foul line 150 feet away during batting practice, looking down at his phone. He heard someone yell, "Heads up!" It was too late. The baseball hit him squarely in that most sensitive of anatomical regions, and he fell to the ground in agony. He was OK, but, "maybe it was a sign," Clark says. At that time the Herald was offering early retirement buyouts. He accepted and suddenly was a 60-year-old retired man looking for something to do. And, man, did he find something. This is a fun, feelgood story at a time when maybe we all could use one of those. For my full latest column (no paywall!), please visit How a Longtime Herald Sport Writer Came to Own a Top Contender in Saturday's No-Fans Florida Derby. Pictured: Left, Clark at his old job, chatting with the late Jose Fernandez; and right, Gouverneur Morris, the racehorse he lucked into buying into. 

OlytokyoOLYMPICS POSTPONED. TIME FOR NBA, NHL TO ALSO SHUT IT DOWN FOR THE YEAR, END SEASONS: Sports, collectively, has difficult choices ahead. They are about more than safety. They are moral decisions, too. Monday came reports the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed until 2021. That’s smart. Canada and Australia already had withdrawn. There would have been mounting and justified pressure on the U.S. to do the same had the Games started this July 24 as scheduled. Sports and leagues around the world debate when to return to play, but sports, collectively, don’t matter right now — not when we are in the middle of a global pandemic, at war with coronavirus/COVID-19. The plague already has killed nearly 20,000. It is not nearly contained. Some projections estimate it could result in two million or more deaths in the United States this year alone. This is a war we quite literally cannot afford to lose. Everything is weird right now. By government edict or common sense, we practice “social distancing,” avoid crowds, “self-quarantine” in our homes. We miss our sports so much. Our home teams, the simply pleasure and comforting routine of seasons, of cheering crowds, of yelling at the ump. We know that the eventual return of sports will be a major symbol of our return to normalcy. We long for that. The simple normalcy more than the games. And yet we know this is not the time. Not when health care is under siege, doctors and nurses fighting this war under-equipped. Not when this thing is not nearly contained. And not until it is. For our full recent column (no paywall), please visit Time for NBA, NHL to Shut it Down, End Seasons

Our other most recent columns:

Backlash Over NBA Coronavirus Testing Mirrors Growing Anxiety, the New National Mood

Le Batard Show Deals with Coronavirus-Related Upheaval

Dolphins' Most Important Rebuilding Is Yet to Come

Brady Leaving Patriots for Tampa. Will Belichick Be Proved Right In Letting Him Go?

Desperate Fans Turn to NFL After Reality Of First Weekend With No Games

Miami Sports Now Utterly Engulfed By Coronavirus Threat -- But Precaution Is Justified

It's Dominate Or Bust For Dolphins GM Grier Over Next 6 Weeks.

Select additional recent columns: Repentant Cheater A-Rod Slams Astros With Lesson On How to Handle Their Own Scandal / Inter Miami Is Market's Sleeping Giant As Home Opener Nears / As NFL Free Agency & Draft Near, All You Need To Know About Dolphins' QB Situation / Beckham, Inter Miami Survive To Finally Reach Opening Week / Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent' / Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love / Why Marlins Aren't Pursuing Puig All About Change In Ownership / and Pressure On Marlins for Big Improvement Now -- and It's About Time / It's Time For Anonymous Lone Voter Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward / Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala / Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football / Poor Dolphins Finally Getting Rid Of Brady Only to Have Mahomes Take His Place / Our two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90 / Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / and Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it updates regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Author of 'Fins At 50,' available on Amazon. Regular co-host on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. Follow on Twitter @gregcoteAnd check and our new The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote podcast HERE and listen, subscribe, rate and review for free!

January 05, 2019

NFL Wild-Card Weekend playoff picks: Winners here!; plus What was the biggest national sports story of 2018? Annual poll. Here's The AP Top 10. You pick your top 3. Vote now!; also, our recent Dolphins/Hurricanes upheaval columns & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 5. I'm still saying "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): The 3 days that shook Miami  football, final Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeSend D.Wade out as an all-star: The fan vote is saying the Heat's Dwyane Wade, in his final season, should go out as an NBA all-star starter. The players and media votes should do the same. To read our latest column, visit Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff.

Other most recent columns: The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time (on firing Gase, demoting Tannenbaum). Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM (on hiring new football coach). Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes (on shocking resignation of Mark Richt). 'Bama Shows Miami The Way Back To That Good (on Tide's Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal win). And Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

NFL PLAYOFF PICKS / WILD-CARD WEEKEND: AND THE 4 SURVIVING WINNERS ARE..: The Magical Season of Cote marauds into the postseason under  shower of confetti after a personal- Picksrecord-setting regular season. We’ve been doing NFL picks in the Miami Herald since Don Shula and Dan Marino were still rocking Miami. The Patriots quarterback was somebody named “Hugh Millen.” Bill Belichick was a rookie head coach with the Browns. It was 1991 — making this our 28th season of picks. And our best. Ever. Our .705 season winning percentage overall tied our personal best. And our .582 mark against the spread stands alone on the mountaintop at No. 1, beating the previous record of .574. Not a great finishing kick last week but we still managed to hit on four dogs with points in the Lions, Cowboys, Bears and Bengals. Now we wipe the slate. Playoffs, baby! Chaff has separated from wheat. Wanna-be's like the Dolphins watch on TV while the dozen qualifiers enter the Super Bowl Tournament. This opening weekend eight teams are in play while the four bye kings rest and wait. Our four Wild-Card Weekend picks include one by-the-numbers upset and at least one other that feels like one based on betting trends. Visit NFL Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all of our latest selections.

YOU PICK THE 2018 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-in-review vote on the biggest national sports story in America. The top 10 stories in this poll are 2018not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically by subject here, not in the 1-through-10 order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE (3). And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. On Sunday, following our national vote, we'll offer a separate poll to choose 2018's biggest Greater Miami/South Florida sports story. For now, let's go nationwide. One year ago, you voted "NFL player protests over social justice draws critics led by President Trump" as the No. 1 national story, followed closely by "Astros win 1st World Series to lift city devastated by Hurricane Harvey." What reigned for 2018? You decide, right now. My personal top 10 probably would have found room for LeBron James joining the Lakers, the corruption scandal in college basketball and Serena Williams' successful return from maternity leave, but, again, this is The AP's list. We'll keep the poll open three-plus days and announce results on Sunday as we present the South Florida poll. Vote now! 

Vote for the top three (3) biggest national sports stories of 2018:

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 26, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Tiger caught in Bear Trap. See if that landed on top and what else falls where; plus Frank Caliendo & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26. Saw Frank Caliendo perform Saturday night. His Trump is spot-on, as you'd expect. Most all of his impersonations are great, but my favorite by far continues to be his John Madden. 2) The Dolfans in your life don't know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger still best show in golf, Panthers embrace Stoneman Douglas, incongruous buoyancy as Marlins open spring training, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Tiger, Marlins, Stoneman Douglas: Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed, on Woods playing the Honda. Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season and Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking?, as team opens spring training. And MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing, on the Stoneman Douglas tragedy.

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

Hot1. GOLF: Thomas wins Honda as Bear Trap gets Tiger: Justin Thomas beat Luke List in the first hole of a low-watt playoff Sunday to win the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, but nobody cares except Mrs. Thomas. Fans were out there wondering if Tiger Woods could mount a final-round rally as his comeback continued in his first South Florida appearance since 2014. Alas, the Bear Trap (15th, 16th and 17th holes) trapped Tiger, who finished 12th at even par.

2. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Shock and pain still raw 12 days later:  Major companies are now disassociating from the N.R.A. over its support for assault weapons, and sports continues to lend support. Panthers showed a tribute video before Friday night's home game and Marlins wore 'SD' caps, while golfers at the Honda are wearing 'MSD" ribbons on their caps. Meanwhile, the Douglas kids lead the fight for change as the leaders balk.

3. OLYMPICS: U.S. 4th in medals as Winter Games wrap up: Norway dominated the medal count while the U.S. finished fourth in both total medals (23) and golds (9) at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. The host nation and enemy North Korea made peace for the Winter Games in a gesture of hope. Now North Korea may lapse back into its accustomed role as the crackpot nation led by a megalomaniac.

4. HEAT: Slumping Miami looking for home lift: Heat have lost eight of past 10 even with Saturday night's win over Memphis, but that began a stretch of seven games at home of the next eight as they hope to rise from eighth place in the East. This Thursday marks a visit by the Los Angeles Lakers. Remember, items you prohibited from being brought into the arena include coolers, laser lights, noisemakers and LaVar Ball. 

5. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as playoffs loom within reach: Florida has won two games in a row and nine of the past 12 and is now within five points of NHL playoff pace. And the streak comes as the Panthers have begun a stretch of 11 of the next 12 games being at home. Now or never, Cats.     

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women wrap up regular seasons: The 20-8 UM men finish Tuesday at No. 10 North Carolina and then next Saturday at home vs. Virginia Tech, while the 20-9 women ended Sunday at home with a 76-46 rout of Va-Tech. Both Miami teams should get an NCAA Tournament invite, also strong showings in the ACC Tournament would erase any doubt. Jim Larranaga's guys especially are trying to catch back up to expectations, after once being 10-0 and ranked No. 6. 

7. MARLINS: Post-fire sale, Fish begin spring training 2-0: Miami is widely expected to be among the worst teams in baseball but has began spring training with consecutive wins before finally losing Sunday to the Mets. "We're 2-1! See, I told you we'd be much better than everybody thought!" said absolutely no one.

8. JONATHAN MARTIN: Ex-Dolphin detained for threatening post: The saga of the Dolphins' Bullygate star gets weirder and weirder. The ex-Dolphin Martin was detained by Los Angeles  police and held in a mental health facility after a threatening post on social media depicted a gun, named accused bullies Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, and included the ominous message: "When you're a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge." Get this man some help. Please?

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Yahoo report offers details on FBI probe: The FBI probe of a recruiting sacndal in college basketball has overshadowed the season, now a Yahoo Sports report names more than 20 schools and 25 players involved. Miami Hurricanes are not implicated but current Heat player Bam Adebayo is named. It is a very serious report, or at least as serious as anything can be coming from a media outlet that calls itself Yahoo!

10. DOLPHINS: NFL Scouting Combine next step in draft prep: The Dolphins and every other team will avidly attend the five-day Scouting Combine starting this Wednesday in Indianapolis, a major step in teams' preparations for the April NFL Draft. I'd have the Combine ranked much higher in this week's HB10 but I just cannot muster all that much anticipation or excitement for watching a bunch of fat offensive linemen being timed in the 40-yard dash.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes baseball had lost four straight since a 2-0 start to season but Sunday beat nemesis Florida to avoid being swept at home. Way early, but Jim Morris' final season has begun closer to a nightmare than a dream ..... U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu, who became first American woman to nail a triple axel at the Olympics, revealed to Cosmopolitan.com that she competed while on her period. "It’s really not that big of a deal," she said. "You just stick a tampon up there." Oy! G'night, everybody!"

Select other recent columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 19, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): After a week when tragedy overshadowed everything in sports; plus column on Derek Jeter's decimation of Marlins as spring training begins & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19. The Dolfans in your life don't know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out our book, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Stoneman Douglas tragedy with column and GoFund Me page & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Derek Jeter's Marlins as spring training begins: He can spin it and try to justify it any way he wishes, but Derek Jeter's massive Marlins salary dump is a betrayal of public trust. The Marlins are tanking because the new owners have put the bottom line above the product on the field and above the paying customers. To read my latest column, click: Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season

My column on Stoneman Douglas shooting tragedy, ICYMI: Seventeen were killed last week in a shooting spree at Parkland's Stoneman Douglas High carried out by a coward with an assault weapon, a deranged former student who'd been expelled. Something like this, by the way, is why I, unlike most sports writers, never use words like 'tragedy' or 'disaster' to describe a knee injury or an awful season. This is a tragedy. For my column, click: Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

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

Hot1. STONEMAN DOUGLAS: Mass shooting at local high school kills 17: Seventeen innocents were murdered at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in a mass shooting that stunned the sports world as much as it did the rest of us. The perpetrator: A 19-year-old former student with an assault weapon who is now in custody. Another tragedy wrought by a deranged mind with a military-grade killing machine. The United States shames itself by continuing to allow these weapons to be sold.

2. HEAT: Slumping Miami hanging on at All-Star break: Heat has lost seven of past eight, is 1-2 since Dwyane Wade's return and has fallen to 8th place in the East. All-Star Weekend in L.A. came as a welcome diversion, with Goran Dragic in the main game Sunday, scoring two points in 11 minutes off the bench in a 148-145 Team LeBron win, after Wayne Ellington did Saturday's 3-point contest. Heat are off 'til Friday, at New Orleans.

3. MARLINS: Fire-sale Fish begin spring training for real Monday: What's left of the Miami Marlins opens spring training for real with Monday's first full-squad work up in Jupiter, with the first spring game only four days later. And -- other than new owner Derek Jeter being a colossal disappointment by trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in a massive salary dump -- it's been a great offseason!

4. OLYMPICS: Winter Games into final week in South Korea: Entering Monday's play Team USA was tied for fourth in gold medals won and tied for sixth in total medals won. Are we OK with that, or are we jingoists crestfallen because America should be No. 1 in everything and at all times?

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men's program cleared in FBI probe: Canes men have lost three straight and are back out of the Top 25 after Saturday's home loss to Syracuse. The good news? The UM program -- linked before season to FBI national probe of recruiting corruption -- went a long way to being cleared when charges were dropped against the AAU director accused of funneling money from Adidas to persuade one player to sign with Miami. Wonder if FBI sent Jim Larranaga an "Oops. Sorry, our bad" Hallmark card?

6. PANTHERS: Hot Cats inching up in playoff chase: The good news? Panthers have won seven of past eight games after Saturday's win at Calgary and have within six points of playoff pace. The bad news? Six down is still a lot, and 12th in the East means a lots of teams to still climb over with only 26 games left.

7. UM BASEBALL: Jim Morris' final season underway: It was Play ball! Friday in a season-opening weekend home series for 24th-ranked Canes baseball vs. Rutgers -- UM taking two of three games. Miami is trying to return to NCAA playoffs after missing last year for the first time in four decades. This is the 25th and last season for Morris, who'll then retire. His Canes teams have reached 13 College World Series and won two. Three would be a charm for the coach in the No. 3 jersey.

8. NASCAR: Vroom! Dillon takes Daytona 500 in season opener: Austin Dillon won Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 -- leading only on the final lap. The emotional tug came from the season starting without retired Dale Earnhardt Jr., and from Danica Patrick running in her final Daytona 500.

9. HURRICANES: UM football sets spring dates: Hot off a national top-10 recruiting class, Canes announced spring practice would commence March 20 -- highlighted by Malik Rosier trying to fend off challengers in an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Meanwhile, coach Mark Richt will host an "All Pro Dad Father & Kids Experience" at Hard Rock Stadium on February 24. Visit AllProDad.com for more.

10. SOCCER: Champions League matches continue: The 32-team UEFA Champions League continues toward its May conclusion with matches Tuesday and Wednesday including club giants Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United. You are following this avidly or not at all. No in-between, sorry.

Missing the HB10 cut: The weekend "Monster Truck Jam" wraps up Sunday at Marlins Park. Turns out it looks even more ridiculous in person than it does on TV ..... Headline: 'Arizona male cheerleader booted from arena for heckling Arizona State during basketball game.' Ah, sportsmanship! ..... Fox News host Laura Ingraham blasted LeBron James for his criticism of Donald Trump, essentially tell LeBron to "shut up and dribble" just like the president's aides told her to.

POLL RESULT: OPINIONS OF JETER 'VERY UNFAVORABLE': We asked, "What is your impression of the job Derek Jeter has done so far as CEO of the Miami Marlins?" And it was 75.58 "very unfavorable." the other three categories -- very favorable, somewhat favorable and somewhat unfavorable -- all tied with 8.14%.

AccordinionDEAR GREG...: "Dear Greg, Your blog's OK but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of a street musician playing the accordion while dressed like a giant creepy rodent-type thing and staring menacingly at the camera. Thank you." Dear Reader, I would but where on Earth am I going to find something like that!? Please be a little more reasonable with your requests in the future.

Select other recent columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 13, 2018

The new 'Back In My Day' video (Strange Signs!); plus LeBron wins in Cavs' mega-trade, but Heat won, too. My column; also, latest Hot Button Top 10, our D.Wade welcome-back trilogy, your Winter Olympics verdict & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13. The Dolfans in your life may not know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our ultimate franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane Wade returns to Heat, rating Hurricanes' Top 10 recruits, Winter Olympics poll & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': STRANGE SIGNS!: The latest installment in our BIMD series, from today's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNU:

LEBRON FLEXED HIS POWER AND WON AGAIN ... BUT SO DID THE HEAT: As usual, in-charge LeBron James won big in last week's Cleveland Cavaliers mega-trade. He gets a better team for another run to the NBA Finals. He gets a few months to decide if it's good enough to make him stay. And as a bonus he gets to put a smile on best buddy Dwyane Wade's face. My latest column: Click LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami to read.

Wade3HOMECOMING: THE DWYANE WADE TRILOGY: Dwyane Wade's sudden, unexpected and warmly received return to the Miami Heat by trade this week delighted South Florida. The news was all-ways good. Good for Wade. Good for the Heat. Good for Miami and its fans. Good from an emotional view. And good from a basketball standpoint, too. I responded to the big reunion with three columns: ICYMI, click Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night for my column from the arena Friday night as emotion and applause enveloped No. 3. Click Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 for my middle column on role Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra envision. And click Welcome Home, D.Wade for my initial column reacting to Thursday's trade.

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

Hot1. HEAT: Dwyane Wade returns!: It wasn't a basketball game it was a love-in as Dwyane Wade returned to the Heat after 1 1/2 seasons away and estranged from the club. He scored only three points in his homecoming game but it sounded like 30 as Miami fans showed No. 3 the love. Welcome back, D.Wade. After all, the 3-0-5 starts with what number again?

2. HURRICANES: Mark Richt, UM score top-10 recruiting class: Canes football scored a National Signing Day bounty of 23 players that was ranked No. 8 in the nation by both ESPN and recruiting bible 247sports.com. That's the good news. The bad? One of the schools ranked even higher is the powerhouse team UM must catch in the ACC: Clemson.

3. MARLINS: Decimated Fish prepare to open spring training: The Marlins held their annual FanFest at the stadium Saturday, although we'd call it SadFest after a Derek Jeter fire sale that plundered the roster of its four biggest stars. Now spring training in Jupiter begins this Wednesday with pitchers and catchers reporting. The season outlook is bleak. And that's the positive spin.

4. OLYMPICS: Winter Games underway in South Korea: Curling, skeleton, frostbite -- all of the wintry sports we love are back as the world competes in Pyeongchang. U.S. speedskater Shani Davis skipped the Opening Ceremony after losing a coin flip to be flag bearer. Ah, sportsmanship! 

5. PANTHERS: Erratic Cats still a playoff longshot: Florida has won four of its past five games as it begins a five-game road trip tonight in Edmonton, but the recent hot streak -- OK, tepid, at least -- has not repaired the season outlook. The Panthers are nine points off playoff pace and will need one of Al Michaels' miracles on ice to reach the NHL postseason.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes prepare to host No. 2 Virginia: Jim Larranaga's guys can't stand good fortune. They finally climb back into the Top 25 and then lose one they shouldn't  have to Boston College Saturday. Now they host No. 2 Virginia on Tuesday in a gauge-game that will tell us how good the 18-6 Hurricanes really are.

7. SOCCER: Miamian elected president of U.S. Soccer: Carlos Cordeiro, 61, of Miami Beach, was named new president of U.S. Soccer, and is the first Hispanic in the role. Considering the U.S. men's national team men just embarrassingly failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup, he has his work cut out. 

8. NBA: Countdown 6 days 'til All-Star Game: The NBA All-Star Game is next Sunday in Los Angeles, and it'll be Team LeBron James vs. Team Steph Curry in a game sure to include no defense whatsoever. Last year the Western Conference won, 192-182, the highest-scoring ASG ever. The Washington Generals play better D against the Harlem Globetrotters.

9. UM BASEBALL: Jim Morris' final season on deck: Opening Day for Canes baseball is this coming Friday, and it's the final season for longtime coach Jim Morris before retiring. Last year UM's decades-long streak of NCAA Tournament appearances ended. Let's see if Morris can fashion a proper exit for himself. Omaha, anyone?

10. TENNIS: Serena commits to Miami Open: The tournament starts March 19 in its final time on Key Biscayne before moving to Hard Rock Stadium, and the top men and women in the world will be here. That will include new mom Serena Williams in her first major tournament since giving birth five months ago. She could play while holding the baby and still win. 

Missing the HB10 cut: The new NASCAR season begins next Sunday with the Daytona 500. Emotional highlight? How about the final Daytona ride for Danica Patrick? Few athletes have ever been more popular with less winning. That's a compliment. Sort of ..... Everybody seems to think the Patriots dynasty is finished. Well, I should say everybody except the millions whose early bets on next season have made New England the Super Bowl favorite. Again ..... Philadelphia held its championship parade for the Eagles. Really slow parade, though, because all of the players were riding in overturned cars ..... Boston sportswriter Ron Borges catching a lot of heat by being duped into a false story. How about a little heat, please, for the idiot who perpetrated the hoax? ..... There will be a Monster Jam truck event next weekend at Marlins Park. Those are the stupid-big trucks on enormous tires that bounce over dirt hills, the curious popularity of the event verifying what P.T. Barnum said about there being a sucker born every minute.

POLL RESULT: INTEREST IN WINTER OLYMPICS IS LUKEWARM: We asked what best describes your interest level in the Winter Olympics, and results were widely split. It was 35.58 percent "moderate," 30.77% "low," 20.19% "uninterested" and 13.46% "keen." That's low-or-non edging keen-to-moderate by 50.96% to 49.04%.

Select other recent columns: Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last. Dear Canton: Call Zach. 7-7-7. Also: The Historic Super Bowl the NFL NeedsExploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamA Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins PegasusThe Upside Of a Fire SaleAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameCanes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 10, 2018

#R3TURN: The Dwyane Wade Welcome-Back Trilogy. My 3 columns including new one; plus we name Hurricanes' Top 10 football recruits, Winter Olympics do-you-care poll (last day to vote) & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10. The Dolfans in your life may not know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our ultimate franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Zach Thomas deserves Canton, UM recruiting column, 3 reasons Josh McDaniels changed his mind, a reason to (almost) like Marlins, latest Back In My Day video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

WadebackHOMECOMING: THE DWYANE WADE TRILOGY: Dwyane Wade's sudden, unexpected and warmly received return to the Miami Heat by trade this week delighted South Florida. The news was all-ways good. Good for Wade. Good for the Heat. Good for Miami and its fans. Good from an emotional view. And good from a basketball standpoint, too. I responded to the big reunion with three columns: Click on Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night for my column from the arena Friday night as emotion and applause enveloped No. 3. Click Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 for my middle column on the role Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra envision for Wade. And click Welcome Home, D.Wade for my initial column reacting to the Thursday trade.  

This week's other columns: On Canes recruiting, Zach Thomas, World Marathon Challenge: Click on Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last, our new one, on Hurricanes' recruiting bounty. Click Dear Canton: Call Zach, on latest reminder Dolphins great Zach Thomas deserves to be in Hall of Fame. And click 7-7-7, on strong Miami Marlins flavor in recent World Marathon Challenge of seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

LingardMIAMI HURRICANES' 2018 TOP 10 FOOTBALL RECRUITS: These are the guys who will be integrating into the team as (UM hopes) stars over the next few years -- the guys who help lift the Canes from good to championship-good. Click on Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last for my new column on UM's bounty.    Miami's incoming class numbers 23. Here are the top 10 of those from the three major recruiting ranking: ESPN, 247sports and Rivals, with each's national ranking in parentheses. The consensus overall No. 1 Canes recruit -- running back Lorenzo Lingard from Orange City, Fla., is pictured:

Rank     ESPN                                    247sports                                 Rivals                                     OVERALL

1          TE Brevin Jordan (20)           RB Lorenzo Lingard (25)         RB Lingard (13)                    RB Lingard

2          DT Nesta Silvera (50)           TE Jordan (33)                         WR Mark Pope (28)               TE Jordan

3          RB Lingard (60)                    DT Silvera (54)                        TE Jordan (49)                       DT Silvera

4          CB Al Blades Jr. (67)            WR Pope (67)                           CB Blades Jr. (59)                 CB Blades Jr.

5          QB Jarren Williams (106)     QB Williams (77)                      OG Delone Scaife (61)         QB Williams

6          WR Brian Hightower (141)    CB Blades Jr. (97)                    RB Camron Davis (81)         RB Davis

7          OG Cleveland Reed (143)     OG Scaife (149)                       QB Williams (114)                WR Hightower

8          RB Davis (167)                     WR Hightower (154)                 DT Silvera (121)                  WR Pope

9          S Gurvan Hall (178)              RB Davis (173)                         TE Will Mallory (155)           OG Scaife

10        CB Gilbert Frierson (188)      S Hall (184)                             WR Hightower (190)             S Hall

Note: Seven players -- Blades, Davis, Hightower, Jordan, Lingard, Silvera and Williams -- made all three top 10s.

Winter Winter2THE WINTER OLYMPICS ARE HERE! YOU INTERESTED? POLL: The Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony is Friday but competition gets under way today in PyeongChang, South Korea. My experience is that interest in the Winter Games varies wildly. Those into it really are, but many others are not interested at all. This poll is to gauge your interest. How much will you watch? How much do you care? Vote now:

Select other recent columns: The Historic Super Bowl the NFL NeedsExploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A Team. Also: A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins PegasusThe Upside Of a Fire SaleAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameCanes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 22, 2018

SUPER BOWL: EAGLES-PATRIOTS. Who you like? Who you want? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10: This week's new No. 1, and see what else falls where; also, rebooting Huizenga's legacy & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 22. The Dolfans in your life need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Fins franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The case for Canes going 12-0 in 2018, Kiper's mock pick for Dolphins, your will vs. want Super Bowl verdicts & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HuizengaThe most recent column platter: Huizenga, Nassar, Dolphins: Our latest column: His legacy needs a reboot, because South Florida's single most influential sports owner is too often remembered divisively. Click Appreciating Wayne Huizenga to read  ///  The empowerment of the #MeToo movement was crushing Dr. Larry Nassar this week in the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, and it was awesome to see. Click When Victims Seize The Power  ///  Looking at the AFC and NFC Championship Games and seeing why Dolphins fans might feel both renewed hope and increased frustration all at once. Click on For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final Four.

Sb18SUPER BOWL: PATRIOTS VS. EAGLES: WHO YOU LIKE? WHO YOU WANT?: New England Patriots rally Sunday to beat Jacksonville 24-20 in the AFC Championship Game. Then Philadelphia Eagles rout Minnesota 38-7 for the NFC crown. I had a solid day with my picks. Went 2-0 straight-up, calling the upset win by Philly, and 1-1 against the spread. (Click on Championship Sunday Gems for our full predix capsules). Now we prepare for a Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl in a duel of No. 1 conference seeds. And we offer up two polls here. Head vs. Heart. Think vs. Hope. Which team would you bet WILL win this Super Bowl. And which team do you most WANT to win. Vote now!

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

Hot1. NFL: Brady hands Pats comeback win, Eagles roll: It was Jacksonville at New England and then Minnesota at Philadelphia in Sunday play-ins for the Super Bowl. Eagles were a rare home-'dog No. 1 seed, but the big story going in was Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s right hand injury imperiling the defending champs' status as heavy favorites. Well guess what? He engineered a big comeback and the Eagles rocked 'n rolled.

2. HEAT: Miami surges, Dragic makes his late 'Star' push: Surging Miami has won eight of the past 10 after Saturday's 1-point win in Charlotte and is now within a half-game of third place in East entering Monday's game at mighty Houston. But will the wave be enough to lift guard Goran Dragic onto NBA All-Star team as Heat’s lone rep? We’ll know this week as reserves and final rosters are announced. Dragic stays quiet … but deserves the nod.

3. NASSAR TRIAL: USA Gymnastics sexual abuse trial ends: Disgraced national-team doctor Larry Nassar listened last week in Michigan courtroom as dozens of women — including gold medal-winning female Olympic gymnasts — spoke of the abuse at his hands under guise of treatment. He complained to judge that hearing it was bad for his mental health. And the number of people who felt sorry for Nassar was estimated between zero and nobody.

4. PANTHERS: Cats back in action with win as club honors Huizenga: Panthers are 1-1 since coming back onto NHL ice after a week off, but still with a sizable deficit to make up in playoff race. Meantime club honored founding owner Wayne Huizenga. Year of the Rat goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck was among Huizenga-era players back in town for the ceremony. Wish he’d brought some of that ’96 mojo with him.

5. MARLINS: Home Run Sculpture going, going, gone!: In yet another sign of the new-owner makeover, the Marlins quietly decided to remove the infamous, made-fun-of and mostly hated Home Run Sculpture from Marlins Park. So, following a bunch of public-relations faux pas by the new regime including the payroll-gutting trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna, it seems Derek Jeter finally did something sort of almost popular.

6. DOLPHINS: Big-time QB campaigns for Miami to draft him: Heisman Trophy-winning Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield’s #GetMeToMiami hashtag on social media -- during an Instagram live chat with Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, a former Sooner -- seems to be a suggestion that the Dolphins draft him 11th overall this April. And I’d say it could happen, but that would seem to be giving the Dolphins way too much credit for being bold.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Slumping Canes looking for a spark: Remember how the UM football team was 10-0 and then finished 10-3? Jim Larranaga's Canes men's hoops team started 10-0 and was ranked No. 6, but has since gone 4-4 after losing to Duke and then winning at North Carolina State, and will likely drop from the Top 25 in Monday's new rankings, a team in search of a spark just past midseason.

8. TENNIS: Australian Open reaches midpoint amid searing heat: Novak Djokovic was an upset loser and Maria Sharapova's comeback suffered a lopsided loss, but the overriding story in Melbourne midway through the year's first major has been the brutal heat, conditions that Rafael Nadal called "dangerous" for players. It's pretty bad when the tennis balls start melting. If concessionaires at the tournament could find a way to sell shade they'd be rich.

9. HORSE RACING: Five days 'til second Pegasus World Cup: It isn't a Triple Crown race. In some ways it isn't even Gulfstream's biggest event; the Florida Derby still is. But in a sport whose lifeblood is betting, it's hard to top the world's richest race: 12 horses gunning for a $16 million purse in the second annual Pegasus World Cup this coming Saturday.

10. UFC: The big boys take the spotlight: It was defending champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou atop the marquee for UFC 220 in Boston Saturday night, and Miocic dominated to feather his claim as the sport's best heavyweight fighter ever. 

Missing the HB10 cut: New York Mets announced their spring training would include a circus again this year. Welcome back, Tim Tebow! ..... We're seven days from the annual Miami Marathon, in which thousands of motorists are inconvenienced by blockaded streets so a bunch of other people can run from Point A to Point B for no apparent reason ..... His official physical exam indicated that President Donald Trump weighs 239 pounds. Um, uh, sure, yeah. And I'm a jockey right at 119.

Select other recent columns: And Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 15, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A No. 1 that hasn't been there for awhile, and what else falls where; plus how we did on our NFL playoff picks, latest troika of columns & more

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

Mlk1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 15. It  is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in America and I wold dare say that, these days, his life's mission and fight for racial equality is a a cause as vital as ever, and worth supporting and carrying forward against insidious resistance. 2) Whoa, Nellie! R.I.P., Keith Jackson, gone at 89. 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Divisional-Round playoff picks, The List: Dolphins 1st-round picks ranked top to bottom, your verdict on Fins moving past Tannehill, Alabama's recent run in perspective & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our week's troika of latest columns: Call him Sasha. Call him Barky. Call him the future, the best hope for leading the Panthers back to relevance; click And Barkov Shall Lead Them to read. On the surreal reappearance of Tonya Harding; click No Way to Escape Her Shame. And on the Dolphins moving beyond Ryan Tannehill; click Are the Fins Feeling Bold?

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

Hot1. HEAT: Sizzlin' Heat win 7th in a row!: Dion Waiters may be done for the year, but without him Miami has won a season-high seven games in a row after Sunday's home win over Milwaukee. As a five-game road trip begins today at Chicago the Heat has climbed to fourth in the East -- and closing in on third-place Cleveland. Heat is now 55-28 the last half of last season and first half of this one. Um, can we start the playoffs now?
 
2. NFL: It's Patriots-Jaguars, Eagles-Vikings for AFC, NFC crowns: Two wild games Sunday -- Jags over Steelers 45-42 and Vikes over Saints 29-24 on a miracle finish -- completed the Divisional Round playoffs and set New-England-Jacksonville and Philadelphia-Minnesota as the two games that will be play-ins for the Super Bowl. So, yes, three of the last four QB standing are Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles. Meantime the Dolphins' contribution to the NFL conversation the past week was disgraced former assistant Chris Foerster admitting he'd done cocaine a week straight at the time of that leaked video. Line coach, indeed!
 
3. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men host Duke in big ACC test: No. 18 Miami hosts Mike Krzyzewski's No. 7 Duke Blue Devils Monday night in a game that will help shape the Atlantic Coast Conference race as March Madness draws ever nearer. Duke is 15-2 and Miami 13-3, but both already have two losses in ACC play. Duke once owned this series but Miami is 5-3 vs. the Diablos Azul ever since Jim Larranaga took over as coach in 2011-12 -- including two straight UM wins in the Gables.
 
4. PANTHERS: Week to celebrate young, old as Cats chase playoffs: Fans are thrilled that rising star and team centerpiece Aleksander "Sasha" Barkov will rep Florida in the NHL All-Star Game later this month. Meantime as play resumes this coming Friday the Panthers will honor Wayne Huizenga, 80, the franchise's founding owner. One man is the main reason the team is here. The man is the main reason there is hope for its future.
 
5. TENNIS: Australian Open opens with Venus 1st major upset: Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Romania's Simona Halep are the No. 1 men's and women's seeds as the year's first tennis Grand Slam event got underway in Melbourne. Halep, 26, is most known for having breast-reduction surgery but is yet to win her first major. So it's "Win Or Bust"? Meanwhile Venus Williams was upset on Day 1 as American women went 0-for-8.
 
6. GOLF: PGA Tour event in midst of missile-attack false alarm: The low-watt Sony Open was going on in Honolulu Saturday when when the (erroneous) news broke a ballistic missile was headed to Hawaii. Tournament leader Tom Hoge never got the text. He was entranced watching college basketball in his hotel room. 
 
7. BASEBALL: Strong get stronger as Astros get Cole: The reigning World Series champ Houston Astros added Pirates ace Gerrit Cole in a five-player trade Saturday. If all the other teams just conceded the 2018 crown to the Astros, imagine how much would be save in travel expenses?
 

8. BROADCASTING: Icon Keith Jackson dies at 89: The man who brought homespun charm to college football for decades has lapsed to memory. Farewell, Mr. Jackson, and R.I.P. I'm sure it won't but wouldn't it be perfect if his tombstone read: Whoa, Nellie!

9. OLYMPICS: New 'I, Tonya' movie resurrects 1994 skating scandal: Tonya Harding's goons clubbed rival Nancy  Kerrigan's knee 24 years ago, and now Harding is doing the promotional tour for the new movie that seeks to reboot her in a sympathetic way. You can't outrun your shame, sad Tonya.

10. MARLINS: Spring training now one month away: With the decimated Fish opening spring training Feb. 14, Starlin Castro has become the latest player to want out as new owner Derek Jeter severely cuts the player payroll. If only Marlins could demand to be traded.

Missing the HB10 cut: LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball were held scoreless in their second pro game in Lithuania. Ain't it great! ..... The Cavaliers slump has LeBron James beside himself. Ain't it even greater! ..... They're still partying in Tuscaloosa. Wait. They're always partying in Tuscaloosa ..... U.S. Army is contesting the NHL Las Vegas team's Golden Knights nickname. If Army paratroopers start dropping on the arena, then be worried ..... Headline: 'UFC is headed to Russia for first time ever'. My reaction: UM, can they stay there, please? ..... Dolphins hosted the 7th annual Dade vs. Broward football high-school All-Star Game, won by Dade. Many of the competing players will emulate their Dolphins heroes by also going on to pro careers that rarely ever end up in the playoffs.

FripixRESULTS ON OUR NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: We missed both of Sunday's games straight-up (thanks Marcus Williams!), but had better fortune against the spread. Had Jags with the points at Pittsburgh, and Vikes by five was a push. For the round we were 1-3 straight-up and 2-1-1 ATS. On Saturday, we owned the Patriots' 35-14 win, calling it 31-13, but saw the favored Falcons taking care of business and blew that one. I thought the two AFC games were pretty simple, clear-cut picks, but the two NFC games I wrestled with. Divisional-Round Gems for all our second-round pick as the Super Bowl Tournament continues now with the Final Four -- King Sport-style.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 13, 2018

One upset ahead, but is it the one you want? Our NFL Divisional-Round picks; plus ranking every Dolphins 1st-round draft pick, our Sasha Barkov and Tonya Harding columns, your verdict on Fins thinking beyond Tannehill & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 13. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Looking beyond Ryan Tannehill poll, give the devil (Nick Saban) his due & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Panthers column: And Barkov shall lead them: Call him Sasha. Call him Barky. Call Aleksander Barkov the future, the best hope for leading the Panthers back to relevance in the NHL and in South Florida. Click on And Barkov Shall Lead Them for my latest column.

Other columns from this week: On bizarre reemergence of Tonya Harding, and on Dolphins and Tannehill: Click No Way to Escape Her Shame for my latest column, on efforts, 24 years later, to rebrand Tonya Harding as a sympathetic victim. And click Are the Fins Feeling Bold? for my earlier column on Dolphins moving beyond Ryan Tannehill.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! OUR NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: We're down to eight teams now, with two weekend doubleheaders bringing us to the AFC and NFC Championship Game matchups -- the Final Four, King Sport style. I though the two AFC games were pretty simple, clear-cut picks. The two NFC games I wrestled with. and from the rasslin' emerged one major upset. Click Divisional-Round Gems for all our second-round pick as the Super Bowl Tournament continues.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS ALL-TIME FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS, RANKED TOP TO BOTTOM BASED ON MOST CAREER GAMES PLAYED FOR MIAMI: Games played for Miami including regular season and playoffs by the 48 first-round draft picks in franchise history. The Top 20, then the rest:

Year    Player, School                                    Pick     Games

Marino1983    QB Dan Marino, Pittsburgh                 27        260

1990    OT Richmond Webb, Texas A&M         9          177

1967    QB Bob Griese, Purdue                      4          173

1994    DT Tim Bowens, Mississippi                20        167

1982    OG Roy Foster, Southern Cal              24        144

1976    DE Kim Bokamper, San Jose State      19        140 

1979    OT Jon Giesler, Michigan                   24        138

1993    WR O.J. McDuffie, Penn State           25         126

2004    OT Vernon Carey, Miami                    19         122

Webb1969    DE Bill Stanfill, Georgia                     11        120

1980    CB Don McNeal, Alabama                   21        120

1977    LB A.J. Duhe, LSU                              13        119

1968    RB Larry Csonka, Syracuse                 8          118

1989    S Louis Oliver, Florida                        25        110

1976    LB Larry Gordon, Arizona State          17        107

2011    C Mike Pouncey, Florida                     15         93 [ACTIVE]

1968    OT Doug Crusan, Indiana                   27          90

1996    DT Daryl Gardener, Baylor                 20          89 

2005    RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn                  5           77

2012    QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M           8           77 [ACTIVE]

The rest:

21st through 30th -- 1984 LB Jackie Shipp, Oklahoma 76; 2008 OT Jake Long, Michigan 75; 1985 RB Lorenzo Hampton, Florida 72; 2006 CB Jason Allen, Tennessee 72; 1992 DE Marco Coleman, Georgia 68; 2010 DT Jared Odrick, Penn State 65; 1992 CB Troy Vincent, Wisconsin 62; 2007 WR Ted Ginn, Ohio State 49; 2014 OT Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee 48 [ACTIVE]; 1988 DE Eric Kumerow, Ohio State 44.

31st through 40th -- 2009 CB Vontae Davis, Illinois 44; 2015 WR DeVante Parker, Louisville 44 [ACTIVE]; 1989 RB Sammie Smith, Florida State 43; 1974 DT Don Reese, Jackson State 42; 2001 CB Jamar Fletcher, Wisconsin 41; 1966 QB Rick Norton, Kentucky 31; 1987 DE John Bosa, Boston College 31; 2016 OT Laremy Tunsil, Mississippi 30 [ACTIVE]; 1975 OT Darryl Carlton, Tampa 28; 1991 WR Randal Hill, Miami 28.

41st through 48th -- 2013 DE Dion Jordan, Oregon 26; 1995 OT Billy Milner, Houston 21; 1998 RB John Avery, Mississippi 19; 2017 DE Charles Harris, Missouri 16 [ACTIVE]; 1981 RB David Overstreet, Oklahoma 15; 1997 WR Yatil Green, Miami 8; 1966 RB Jim Grabowski, Illinois 0; 1972 DT Mike Kadish, Notre Dame 0.

POLL RESULT: CLEAR MAJORITY THINK DOLPHINS SHOULD THINK BEYOND TANNEHILL: We asked, "Is this the right offseason and draft for the Dolphins to think beyond Ryan Tannehill?" Your verdict: Yes. If Miami's future at QB is in this draft, go get him, 77.42 percent; No. Tannehill is good enough. Address other needs, 16.67%; Undecided. Like the Dolphins, I'm really not sure, 5.91%.

ALABAMA'S RECENT RUN IN PERSPECTIVE: Nick Saban just own Alabama's fifth national championship since he took over Crimson Tide football 11 seasons ago, in 2007. In that same time span the most championships by one of the Big Four pro teams is three, by the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins and MLB's San Francisco Giants. Althought two of the 11 teams with two titles since '07 -- the NFL's New England Patriots and NBA's Golden State Warriors -- have a big shot at a third title in seasons ongoing.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 08, 2018

Alabama-Georgia in CFP final: Who WILL win and who do you WANT to win? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your verdict on biggest Miami sports story of '17, my NFL playoff pick-results, new Sunday column (Heat) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 8. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest-Miami-sports-story-of-year poll, your biggest-national-story verdict, NFL playoff picks & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday column: Heat still out front. A state-of on Miami's four pro teams: The Heat are out front largely because the Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins all are in a transitional flux, at a crossroads, looking for a way. Click Will Somebody Please Rise Up for my latest column on the state of South Florida Big Four pro teams as 2018 unfurls.

FripixNFL Wild-Card Weekend pick results: We nailed the Falcons' upset win: We hit a bulls-eye on the Falcons' big upset of the Rams. Overall we went 3-1 straight-up and 2-2 against the spread in the first round, including Panthers-with-points vs. Saints. Click Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all our first-round picks as the Super Bowl Tournament began.

AlagacfpCFP CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: WHO WILL WIN, AND WHO YOU WANT TO WIN: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs tonight in Atlanta in the College Football Playoff championship game. Two polls here. First asks which team you think WILL win -- who you'd place a bet on straight-up. The second poll asks you you WANT to win -- where your rotting interest lies. Take a dip in both polls now!

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

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's Alabama-Georgia in Monday title game: Alabama is a small favorite in College Football Playoff's all-SEC championship, despite it being held in Atlanta, a home game for Georgia. Crimson Tide are in CFP final for third straight year but, for a change, Nick Saban might not be the least popular man in the stadium, because President Donald Trump plans to attend.
 
2. NFL: Four pretenders out, eight teams left as Super Bowl Tournament begins: Sayonara, Chiefs, Bills, Panthers and Rams. Nice barely knowin' ya. NFL playoffs are down to eight. Meantime ESPN reported a rift among Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady and suggested the empire may be crumbling. Um, the No. 1-seeded Pats, off a playoff bye, are Super Bowl favorites. Again. Oh to have such problems!

3. HEAT: Miami climbing in East standings: Heat has won four straight with Sunday's home win over Utah and risen to fifth in East, now only 1/2 game from fourth place. A now-reasonable goal: Host a first-round playoff series.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Hurricanes win to open three-game Litmus test: Canes' men's team started 10-0 and highly ranked then slumped. What are they trying to mimic the UM football team? (Ouch. Too soon?) But Jim Larranaga's guys are back on track at 13-2 after Sunday's big win over No. 24 Florida State. Two more ranked foes await in No. 25 Clemson and then home vs. No. 2 Duke.
 
5. DOLPHINS: Problem solved! Fins hire new offensive coordinator: The disappointing 6-10 Dolphins and coach Adam Gase demoted offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen after averaging only 17.6 points per game to rank 28th in the NFL. They replaced him with Dowell Loggains, whom the Bears just dismissed after Chicago averaged 16.5 points, ranking 29th. Well alrighty then!
 
6. MARLINS: Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' now underway: Derek Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' is his plan to reboot the now-decimated Marlins. It sees a spike in player payroll starting in 2021. Meantime, the carnivorous wolverine has disemboweled Marlins fans and turned their optimism to bloody entrails.

7. PANTHERS: Cats can't capitalize on streak: Sunday's loss made it three L's in a row after a five-game winning streak for Florida, which still lags seven points off playoff pace right at midseason. Check Lost & Found. The map to the postseason seems to have been  misplaced.

8. JON GRUDEN: He's back on the sideline with Raiders: Gruden is transmogrifying from the ESPN football booth back to Chucky, the sideline maniac, taking over the Oakland (soon Las Vegas) Raiders on a 10-year deal. So Redskins coach Jay is now not even the NFL's best Gruden.

9. WINTER OLYMPICS: U.S. names women's figure skating team: USA named its three-woman figure skating team for the upcoming South Korea Games. Somewhere, Dick Button is beside himself with excitement. 

10. RICKY WILLIAMS: Ex-Fin plans smoke-filled Super Bowl party: Former Dolphins running back and confirmed pothead Ricky Williams is hosting a "cannabis-friendly" Super Bowl party in Miami. The star of the event? Snacks! Mmm, lots of snacks to feed those munchies!

Missing the HB10 cut: Australian Open starts next week, and both Andry Murray (injury) and Serena Williams (baby) are out. Although Serena could play with the infant on her back in a papoose and still win the women's side ..... Paul Pierce says the Celtics' tribute to Isaiah Thomas should not be same night as his jersey retirement. Petty much? ..... ESPN fired NFL analysts Eric Davis and Donovan McNabb over a sexual abuse claim. Rough year for the Worldwide Leader ..... The Greek Freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo) leads the Akron Anomaly (LeBron James) in early NBA all-star voting ..... The Bills sent 1,440 chicken wings to the Bengals as a thank-your for beating the Ravens to assure Buffalo made the playoffs? Shouldn't Miami at least get some celery and blue cheese? ..... NFL ratings were down 9.7 percent this season. In an unrelated story, it is estimated 9.7% of players took part in protests during the anthem ..... UM baseball began preseason practice an the final season of Jim Morris. Omaha or bust? Heck, NCAA Regional or bust! ..... USA Today speculated the Dolphins as a possible landing spot for Tom Brady should the Patriots dynasty come apart. Hmm. Is wishing and hoping for a QB who'll be 41 next season not its own form of sadness?

ToumPOLL RESULT: TURNOVER CHAIN-FUELED CANES FOOTBALL RESURGENCE THE NO. 1 BIGGEST MIAMI SPORTS STORY OF 2017: We asked what was the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017, gave you 18 choices and allowed you six votes. More than 2,500 votes poured in. A six-vote ballot means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent and you'd multiply the percent total times six for any idea how often that story was included on ballots. That's IF everyone used all six votes. The fact the No. 1-voted story was off-the-grid-high suggests an organized effort by Canes fans who voted only for that story. In effect, UM fans hijacked the poll. But that's OK. All good. I should note that prior to the sharp spike we detected, UM's resurgence still was running No. 1, although by a much narrower margin over the Stanton/Jeter story. Your results on the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017:

  1. Turnover Chain-fueled Hurricanes achieve 1st 10-win season, 1st Orange Bowl in 14 years--31.32%
  2. Giancarlo Stanton traded after 59-HR year as new owner Derek Jeter begins Marlins reboot--12.71%
  3. Jason Taylor, Dolphins icon, inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame--8.60%
  4. Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc with start of football season--7.09%
  5. Dolphins O-line coach Chris Foerster resigns after video shows him snorting white powder--6.67%
  6. Edwin Pope, Miami Herald Sports legend, dies--5.39%
  7. Jay Cutler signed by Dolphins after Ryan Tannehill's season-erasing injury--5.23%
  8. Hurricanes baseball sees end of 44-year streak of consecutive NCAA playoff appearances--4.96%
  9. Miami hosts MLB All-Star Game, Home Run Derby for first time--4.42%
  10. Nick Buoniconti, Jim Kiick reveal football related brain-trauma woes to Sports Illustrated--2.60%
The rest: 11. UM men's basketball implicated in FBI probe of recruiting corruption--2.44%; 12. Heat misses playoffs despite 30-11 second half, fails to land free-agent target Gordon Hayward--2.40%; 13. Soccer's El Clasico, Barcelona-Real Madrid, plays Miami--1.78%; 14. Miami Open tennis sets move from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium--1.67%; 15. Homestead hosts Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s last race in NASCAR finale--1.05%; 16. Ferdie Pacheco, The Fight Doctor, dies--0.70%; 17. Felo Ramirez, baseball broadcasting icon, dies--0.54%; 18. Gulfstream hosts first Pegasus World Cup, richest-ever horse race--0.43%.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote