February 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 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 11, 2019

The State of South Florida Sports in 2019: My latest column, now your turn. Which of our 5 major pro teams will be next to win a championship? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11. Football is done, but never too late to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Buoniconti/D.Wade documentaries, Dolphins projected to draft QB, top 8 Hurricanes prep recruits, your verdict on Fins' Flores hire & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Troika of newest columns: The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019, our latest. Also: The Redemption Of Manny Diaz and Here's Why Dolphins Hit Big With Flores Gamble.

Flapan Miamar Intmia Miahea MiadolCHALLENGING TIME FOR MIAMI PRO TEAMS. MY NEW COLUMN, NOW YOUR VOTE: I believe hardly any of us in South Florida is a fan of only one local pro team (although we all have our favorite), and that many of us are fans of or care about all the local teams to some degree. So I don't shy away from occasional columns like my newest, a state-of-the-franchise take on all five teams, including a one Big Hope for each. To read that column, and I wish you would (!), visit The State Of South Florida Sports in 2019. The Dolphins are seen in rebuild-mode with a new coach. The average Heat are struggling to find the map to relevance again. The Marlins are doing a ground-up reboot. The Panthers continue to perform below expectations. Inter Miami will join Major League Soccer as an expansion team in one year. So my column and our annual (if we remember to do it) poll question are well-timed  because right now you could make a good argument for -- or against -- any of the five teams in an interesting, challenging time in South Florida sports. For this poll I invite you to be as neutral as possible. It isn't a favorite-team poll. It is asking you, honestly, which team you think is  best-positioned to win a championship soonest. Vote as if your money were riding on the answer. Ready? Go!

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. HURRICANES: National Signing Day puts bow on 24-man class: New coach Manny Diaz and staff signed 16 prep stars and eight transfers for a 24-man 2019 recruiting class. It ranked only 30th in the country (via ESPN) but that didn't include the transfer Portal bounty. Highlights: A load of talent at defensive tackle, and a tatted-up 6-4 punter from Australia who looks like your top draft pick to win a barroom fight.

2. HEAT: Struggling Miami trades 2, falls at Golden State: Heat are 25-29 and for now off playoff pace in East after last night's 120-118 loss at Golden State despite Josh Richardson's 37 points. Miami beat trade deadline by sending Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington to Phoenix for Ryan Anderson in a move less about basketball than about clearing cap space. As if we needed a final reminder how the Heat overpaid so grossly for Johnson.

3. MARLINS: Fish trade Realmuto with spring on deck: Marlins' long-expected trade of all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto happened in deal with Philadelphia that brought Miami a nice haul including top Phillies prospect Sixto Sanchez, a potential ace No. 1 starter. Team had its FanFest on Saturday, meaning spring training is on deck. Pitchers and catchers report Wednesday, with the full squad convening a week from Monday.

4. PANTHERS: Can Cats still make playoffs?: Florida is making this interesting after all. Cats still are only 22-31 and are nine points off NHL playoff pace, but had won two in a row and six of past eight before Sunday's 5-2 loss to Tampa. That began a seven-game homestand. Miracle on ice, anyone?

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women stun Notre Dame: No. 25-ranked UM women are 20-5 after beating No. 4 Notre Dame 72-65, while Canes men are struggling at 10-13 after Saturday's heartbreak 88-85 OT loss at No. 8 North Carolina. Its's Bracketology season as March Madness near, but only one Miami team is in the convo.

6. NBA: LeBron uses all-star draft to recruit: The NBA All-Star Game is next Sunday in Charlotte, but LeBron James (one of the two captains along with Buck's Giannis Antetokounmpo) used this week's ASG draft to coincidentally (!) sslect players his Lakers may try to woo this summer. With his first three picks he chose Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard, all pending free agents. Hmm.

7. DOLPHINS: New coach Flores completes staff: Newly hired Fins head coach Brian Flores completed his coaching staff. Notable: Bringing in experienced Jim Caldwell as assistant head coach. Oh, and stealing three assistants from Bill Belichick's Patriots staff. Not a bad first week on the job, B-Flo.

8. AAF: Alliance of American Football debuts: The new Alliance of American Football, pretty much a creation of CBS Sports, debuted Saturday with two games as San Antonio Commanders beat San Diego Fleet 15-6 and Steve Spurrier's Orlando Apollos beat Atlanta Legends 40-6. The AAF is worth watching. Mostly because, like all spring alternatives to the NFL, it likely won't last.

9. ADAM GASE: Drama in Jetsville already underway!: Adam Gase's new Jets coaching staff includes his father-in-law, Joe Vitt, and Gregg Williams. Hmm. Vitt and Williams both were embroiled in the Saints' Bountygate scandal, with Vitt accusing Williams of lying during NFL's investigation. Fun!

10. UFC: Time to call it quits, Mr. Silva: At UFC 234 in Australia unbeaten middleweight Israel Adesanya defeated all-time great Anderson Silva in a unanimous decision. Silva is 43. Need more be said? 

Missing the HB10 cut: Fellas, remember Valentine's Day is Thursday. Only four more days to concoct a believable excuse why you forgot ..... Houston's James Harden's streak of 30-point games is now at 29. In case an MVP award might be coming, his beard has already written an acceptance speech ..... Skiing great Lindsey Vonn won a bronze medal in the world championship downhill in her final career race before retiring. The rest of her life? All downhill from here ..... Pole qualifying underway for next Sunday's Daytona 500. Think of it as a pole dance at 180 mph ..... A thrown can of beer hit Rob Gronkowski kin the head during the Patriots' championship parade. Alternate punchlines: A) He didn't feel a thing. B) That's terrible. What a waste of beer! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,688 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

Super Bowl With a Smirk quintet: Smirk V: Mahomes, Reed top Honors night. But what about Miss Colombia? / Smirk IV: Of 100-plus Super Bowl Canes, he was 1st / Smirk III: No comment, say halftime performers / Smirk II: No. 1 Dolfan on edge of history / Smirk I: Welcome to 'Suit' Bowl LVIII.

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 28, 2019

The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else ranks where; plus our Le'Veon Bell/Dolphins column, your Hall verdicts on Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod and Rose & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 28. Football is at its crescendo and 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cooperstown polls on Bonds/Clemens/A-Rod/Rose, your verdict on Super Bowl want-to-win/will-win & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Le'Veon Bell to Dolphins? 2 major obstacles, but not  impossible: To read my newest column, visit Le'Veon wants Dolphins, And Interest Should Be Mutual.

Other most recent columnsBonds and Clemens Inch Toward Cooperstown, But A-Rod Faces Tougher Road and 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.

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: It's Super Bowl Week in America!: It's L.A. Rams and New England Patriots in the buildup to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta next Sunday, and the Saints stuck back in New Orleans, and the NFL building a super-sized asterisk to attach to this game.

2. HEAT: Will Wade be chosen all-star reserve?: Miami is 24-24 after two straight winning entering a three-game homestand. And Dwyane Wade learns this Thursday if he'll be selected as an all-star reserve in his Last Dance season. Call it D.Wade's last shot.

3. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream hosts Pegasus World Cup: A horse named City of Light burst through the rainy gloom at Gulfstream Saturday to win the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the richest horse race in America. The race casual fans will next pay attention to, the Kentucky Derby? One-third the purse.

4. BASEBALL: Rivera makes history to lead Hall inductees: Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina are the newly elected members of Cooperstown -- Rivera by a first-ever unanimous vote. Wait a second. Babe Ruth and Ken Griffey Jr. didn't earn every vote but a closer did? Meanwhile cover the kids' eyes. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are getting closer.

5. TENNIS: Championship weekend at Aussie Open: After No. 4 seed Naomi Osaka beat No. 8 Petra Kvitova on Saturday in an unexpected Australian Open women's final, 1-2 heavyweights Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal went at it this morning to decide the men's half of the year's first major -- Djokovic winning in straight sets. And once again "Nowhere" answers the question, "But what about the American players?"

6. PANTHERS: Yandle reps Cats in All-Star Game: The Metro beat the Central 10-5 Saturday in the 64th NHL All-Star Game Saturday in San Jose. Defenseman Keith Yandle repped the Panthers, who are skidding through a disappointing season but won three straight entering the break, sparked by Vincent Trocheck's return from an ankle injury.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women in opposite directions: Miami men are 9-10 after three straight losses and six in past seven games after Sunday's home loss to Florida State. But Canes women are sailing at 18-4 with four straight wins including a big one over No. 13 Syracuse. Hope Katie Meier doesn't hurt her back carrying the program.

8. RUNNING: Marathoners pound Miami streets: While you were asleep early Sunday morning after drinking too much last night, thousands of serious runners were flooding downtown streets in the annual Miami Marathon & Half-Marathon. I'd complain about the inconvenience to drivers, but if you're in a car at 6 a.m. on a Sunday in Miami, you'd better be delivering the Herald. By the way, a guy from Kenya won the race. Or, did that go without saying?

9. PRO BOWL: NFL all-stars meet in Orlando: The Pro Bowl went off Sunday in Orlando for the third straight season, with the AFC beating the NFC 26-7. Originally selected rosters changed by one-third because of attrition. Cornerback Xaven Howard represented the Dolphins, because he's young and so doesn't know yet that what you want is to be chosen for the Pro Bowl but not actually play in it.

10. GOLF: Tiger opens season at Torrey Pines: Justin Rose carved out a 2-shot win in the Farmers Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego that ended Sunday. Tiger Woods, in his first event of the new season, finished at 10-under par, tied for 20th place. Except on the attention leaderboard, where he remains on top.

Missing the HB10 cut: Was watching some of that 24-hour race at Daytona. If Greg Cote is in a car driving for more than four hours, he's looking for a Motel 6 ..... Isn't there something sadly fitting about the Dolphins being unable to sign their new coach until the Patriots finish playing in the Super Bowl? ..... Oh college football Transfer Portal, bless you for causing QB Tate Martell to transmogrify from a Buckeye to a Cane! ..... The Senior Bowl was Saturday, because apparently an entire season is insufficient for scouts to know about players ..... As college baseball nears the Gators and Seminoles are ranked No. 4 and 6 in Baseball America's preseason poll. The Canes under new coach Gino DiMare are unranked ..... Marlins FanFest has been scheduled for Feb. 9. Derek Jeter hopes your ballpark experience is so much fun you'll barely notice the team is still bad ..... Update: Countdown now 2,703 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

POLL RESULT: YOUR HALL VERDICTS ON BONDS, CLEMENS, A-ROD AND ROSE: We asked you if The Polarizing Four -- Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose -- should be in the Hall of Fame. After more than 1,200 votes, you voted YES for all four. It was 80.80 percent for Rose,  77.74% for Bonds, 75.27% for Clemens and 69.49% for Rodriguez. Based on the Cooperstown requirement of 75% for admission, Rose and Bonds are plenty good to go, Clemens is in by a millimeter and, sorry A-Rod, close, but no Hall for you.

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 23, 2019

Rams-Patriots Super Bowl: 2 polls. Who you WANT to win, who you think WILL win. Voting ends today!; plus we're all cheated by blown non-call, not just Saints (new column); also, new Back In My Day video (Vending Machines!), latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23. Football is at its crescendo and 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Championship Game picks, analyzing Hurricanes' soft 2019 football schedule & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: That late blown call robbed more than must the Saints: It robbed football fans of a Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees "Two Old G.O.A.T.s" classic, it robbed the NFL of its integrity and it robbed this Super Bowl of its legitimacy. To read our latest column, visit We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints.

Other most recent columns: 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.

SbowlRAMS-PATRIOTS IN SUPER BOWL 53: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN, WHO WILL WIN: Las Vegas sportsbooks have set New England as a slight 1 1/2-point favorite over the L.A. Rams in the Feb. 3 Super Bowl in Atlanta. These polls are asking you who you want to win -- who you hope does -- versus who you you think will win, or who'd you'd bet on to win outright. It's heart vs. head. Maybe you'll vote both polls the same way, maybe you won't. Let's see. Vote now in both polls.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': VENDING MACHINES!: This debuted Tuesday on the LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. If you missed it:

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: It's a Rams-Patriots Super Bowl!: Rams upset Saints joust for the NFC crown and then Patriots upset Chiefs for the AFC title in conference championship games Sunday. Would have/should have been a Two Old G.O.A.T.s Super Bowl -- Tom Brady, 41, vs. Drew Brees, 40 -- but an official's missed call screwed New Orleans. Home teams had won 10 straight conference championship games before both home teams lost Sunday.

2. HURRICANES: UM loses out on transfer QB, sets '19 schedule: They hired the Alabama quarterbacks coach as their new offensive coordinator. It wasn't enough. The Canes lost transfer-QB Jalen Hurts to Oklahoma, anyway. The good news for UM football? The 2019 schedule is out and, with only one ranked opponent, it looks like it came together in one of Manny Diaz's sweet dreams.

3. HEAT: Wade hits 14 off bench in his final game in hometown of Chicago: Miami is even again at .500 (22-22) after last night's win in Chicago, after which Dwyane Wade (newly turned 37) swapped jerseys with the Bulls' mascot, Benny. OK so it's only midseason and we're running out of jersey-swap recipients? Wade scored 14 off bench in his final game in his hometown. Meantime Dion Waiters got fined for publicly complaining about playing time. Um, would that be the same guy who was dead weight as he took, like, two seasons to get over an ankle injury?

4. UM BASKETBALL: Larranaga pleads for Hernandez eligibility: Canes men fell to 9-8 and 1-4 in ACC with Saturday's loss to No. 13 North Carolina. (At least UM women are percolating at 15-4/3-1). NCAA continues to rule Dewan Hernandez ineligible even with Jim Larranaga's impassioned argument that Hernandez was "duped" by his AAU coach.

5. TENNIS: Aussie Open getting good at midpoint: Two-time defending Australia Open champ Roger Federer was upset Sunday by young Greek Stafanos Tsitsipas, and on Monday, Serena Williams continued her search for women's majors record by ousting world No. 1 Simona Halep. We're heating up in Melbourne!

6. DOLPHINS: Fins still waiting on Patriots for new coach hire: Could have happen with Patriots losing last night; instead, Miami will now have to wait until after the Super Bowl to hire New England linebackers coach Brian Flores as their new head coach. Unless everybody has this wrong. Which would be sort of hilarious.

7. PANTHERS: Finally! Cats end 7-game skid: The wildly erratic, roller-coaster-y Panthers are 19-28 after two straight wins that followed a seven-game losing skid. Now comes a five-game homestand starting Monday vs. San Jose, and where that leads, nobody knows. 

8. MARLINS: Fish set spring dates, unveil golf: Miami will commence Season 2 of the Derek Jeter era on Feb. 13 (pitchers and catchers) and Feb. 18 (full squad). Meanwhile there's a temporary 9-hole golf course set up at the ballpark. How about instead of nine holes of golf the Marlins give us  nine innings of winning baseball?

9. BOXING: Pacquiao wins, seeks Mayweather rematch: Manny Pacquiao won his first match since turning 40 Saturday night in Las Vegas, beating Adrien Broner unanimously, and now is seeking a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Fight fans around the world responded by saying, "NOOOOO!"

10. CANES BASEBALL: DiMare era on deck for UM: UM baseball season rolls out Feb. 8 with the First Pitch Banquet, Feb. 9 with the Alumni Game, then Feb. 15-17 with opening weekend vs. Rutgers. With coach Jim Morris retired after 25 seasons, it's Gino DiMare time!

Missing the HB10 cut: The annual college Senior Bowl is in six days, answering the question: "Wait. Guys still sometimes play their senior year!?" ..... Update: Countdown now 2,710 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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 16, 2019

An overarching lesson for Dolphins in NFL's final four -- on how they got there, why they win. Newest column; plus R.I.P. Bob Kuechenberg, Hot Button Top 10 (updated), how we did on our NFL Divisional-Round picks & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from yesterday's Le Batard Show. 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 Divisional-Round Playoff Picks & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: The lesson for Dolphins in NFL's final four: The Chiefs, Patriots, Saints and Rams have something in common. It should be obvious to the Miami Dolphins and anybody else trying to get from here to really good. To read my latest column, visit Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them.

Our other most recent columns: Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need. Also: 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.

PicksNFL PLAYOFF PICKS / DIVISIONAL-ROUND (UPDATED): HOW WE DID IN WINNOW TO FINAL FOUR: We went 3-1 overall but only 1-3 against the spread on our weekend Divisional-Round playoff picks, with the Saints and Cowboys narrowly failing to cover for us. Our gambling that the Colts would upset Chiefs -- that was just a plain misfire. A bad one. For the whole playoffs we're now 5-3 overall and 3-5 ATS following a magical, record-setting regular season with our NFL picks (.705 winning percentage straight-up, .582 against the spread). Visit NFL Divisional-Round Gems for all of our past weekend's picks.

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. HURRICANES: Will new OC from 'Bama mean Jalen Hurts, too?: Hmm, well this is interesting! Manny Diaz hires Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos to be the Canes' new offensive coordinator, and now it seems the Tide's transfer-minded QB Jalen Hurts may follow. As two-for-one package deals go, that's a goody!

2. DOLPHINS: Fins coach-search has eye on New England: Miami' search to replace fired Adam Gase (now deliciously with the Jets) has zeroed in on Patriots linebackers coach defensive play-caller Brian Flores, according to most every professional guesser. Motto: "If You Can't Beat Bill Belichick, At Least Steal One of His Top Assistants."

3. HEAT: Big loss cools heating-up Heat: They're still a modest 21-21, but Miami had won two straight and 10 of its past 14 before last night's blowout loss in Milwaukee to open a four-game road trip. Good news: Now sixth in the East. Bad news: Still a long climb to fourth.

4. NFL: And the Final Four is set!: It'll be Patriots at Chiefs and Rams at Saints in the AFC and NFC championship games next week -- the play-in to the Super Bowl. Kansas City an New Orleans both were token 3-point home favorites as betting lines opened.

5. PANTHERS: Coach in peril as skid reaches 7 games?: Florida had won six of previous eight games but now has plunged to seven straight losses and is 17-28 and way off playoff pace. Coach Bob Boughner's job has to be on thin ice. Doesn't it!? 

6. BOB KUECHENBERG: All-time great Dolphins guard dies: The Miami Dolphins family lost "Kooch" Saturday night at 71, cause of death not yet revealed. A two-time Super Bowl champ in a career that spanned 1970-84, his 196 games played for the club were more than all but Dan Marino and Jason Taylor.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men need answers, fast: While the UM women are sailing at 14-4 and just outside the Top 25, the Canes men are 9-7 after a 5-0 start -- and now face ranked opponents in five of their next seven games. Got any answers, Jim Larranaga? 

8. TENNIS: Murray out quick as Aussie Open begins: Andy Murray says he is retiring and that the Australian Open now underway (from which he quickly lost Sunday) could be his last. No offense, but after missing most of the past 18 month battling various injuries, I thought Murray already was retired.

9. TIM TEBOW: He proposes marriage, she says yes!: The former football quarterback turned baseball minor-leaguer asked Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, Miss Universe 2017, to marry him, and she said yes. Not sure why this is news. But it is.

10. ROB GRONKOWSKI: Patriots tight ends mulling retirement: Is that still news? Gronk's prime retired about two years ago.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,717 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

January 08, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 24, 2018

How satisfied are you with the Dolphins? Latest DSM postgame poll. Vote now!; plus embarrassing Fins lose 17-7 to Jax, end playoff hope. Gase, Tannehill on outs? My game column; plus newest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Ceve1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 24. Merry Christmas Eve! 2) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Weeek 16 picks, FIU wins Bahamas Bowl & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our 'Debacle of Disappearing Dolphins' column: The Grinch stole the playoffs in Sunday's dispiriting 17-7 Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. But did he also steal Ryan Tannehill's Fins future and Adam Gase's job. I explore in my column from the stadium off the game. Visit End Of Hope For Dolphins. Of Tannehill, Gase, too? to read. Other most recent columns: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era and How Miami-Based ESPN Star Dan LeBatard Is Growing His Empire Again.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: Time again for the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday's 17-7 home loss to Jacksonville putting Miami's season record at 7-8 and eliminating the Fins from playoff contention. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 8 a.m. Tuesday/Christmas morning. (The DSM also takes place on Twitter @gregcote. You may vote there now, too.

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

G13: 83.9% following 34-33 victory vs. New England.

G14: 6.5% following 41-17 loss at Minnesota.

G:15 Voting now underway following 17-7 loss vs. Jacksonville. 

G15: JACKSONVILLE 17, @DOLPHINS 7 (FINAL): PLAYOFF HOPE EXPIRES AS MIAMI CLOSES HOME SEASON: Final thoughts: An embarrassing loss by Miami, which had been 6-1 at home this season, to a Jags team that was one of the NFL's biggest disappointments. No excuses for playoff hope to officially expire in this manner. Read my column from the game HERE ..... 4Q: JAC 17-7 on Telvin Smith 32-yard return of Tannehill interception ... JAC 10-7 on 26-yard FG, first score of game since first quarter. It's pretty bad when three points feels like a big hole for Miami ... OK. Next score wins? ..... 3Q: Jags have 1st at Miami 17 after turnover, end up with 4th and 46 and punt. A lot of awfulness on display here ... Oh my. Miami's Bolden loses fumble at own 17. Ex-Cane Calais Campbell recovers ... Jalen Davis blitz-sack for Miami forces Jags punt ... Kessler back at QB for Jags to open second half ..... Halftime thoughts: One good drive by the Miami offense, one bad series by the defense and bunch of nothing about summarizes this 7-7 first half. Telling: Fins get ball at Jags 33 after fumble recovery and fail to score. This game is to close. You must beat a bad Jax team at home! ..... 2Q: Jags have 44-yard punt return but miss 55-yard FG on last play of half ... Wake 3rd-down sack forces punt after Bortles replaces shaken-up Kessler ... Fins' Branch recovers Kessler fumble at Jags 33 but Miami fails to take advantage, misses 47-yard FG ..... 1Q: JAC 7-7 on Fournette 1-yard TD run. Fins defense looked as bad that series as the offense looked good in taking the lead ... MIA 7-0 on Tannehill-Bolden 4-yard TD pass. Ends impressive 78-yard opening drive that includes completions of 20 to Amendola, 31 to Ballage ..... Pregame notes: Xavien Howard is among Miami's inactives. They'd hoped he'd play; instead he's out a third straight game ... Betting line has dipped from Miami favored by 4 to 3 1/2 ..... Original post: Jacksonville, one of the NFL's biggest disappointments, is 4-10. Miami is a standard still-mediocre disappointment at 7-7. Together they make a 1 p.m. Hard Rock kickoff that won't set ratings records for CBS as the Dolphins close their home season before next week's finale at Buffalo. Example No. 438 of how little faith there is Mia Jaxin Miami: The Dolphins are favored by a mere 4 points, or only one point above standard home-field advantage over a colossally disappointing Jacksonville team that has lost nine of its past 10 games. Oh, and that’s with the Jaguars 1-5 on the road while Fins are a stout 6-1 at home. And with Miami still fighting on the periphery of playoff contention while Jags are mentally headed to the first tee. An insult, this 4-point line! QB Blake Bortles was bad enough for Jax to bench him but Cody Kessler has been worse. By a lot. Kessler has led one touchdown drive in 31 possessions over three games since taking over, yet will start again. Ryan Tannehill is sure to look great Sunday if only in contrast to his counterpart’s epic putridity. That figures as Miami’s secret weapon today: The other team’s QB. Dolphins also expect to have top cornerback (and lone Pro Bowl pick) Xavien Howard back from injury. Jaguars’ only real hope is to feed Leonard Fournette enough carries to reduce chances of Kessler doing something dumb. As for my earlier putting "Miami" and "playoff contention" in the same sentence, the two technically fit although it’s win-out-and-pray for the Fins. Closing at Buffalo next week won’t be easy. Neither will getting sufficient help from a confluence of other results all falling just right. But beating Jax and Cody Kessler at home? This should be the easy part of what’s left. Call it a little consolation parting holiday gift from from the Dolphins to Dolfans in the season's home finale -- a little thank-you for enduring what is looking like yet another ultimately unfulfilling Miami season. My pick: Dolphins,24-13.

Visit Week 16 Gems for all of our latest NFL selections. Had a good Saturday. Called Ravens' upset at Chargers in a bull's-eye of an Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Was perfect on Titans beating 'Skins until that last-second pick-six ruined us against the spread. Oh well. Them breaks work both ways.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 23-24): 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: Miami ends home season sourly to end playoff hope: Miami playoff hopes were on life support entering the game. The plug was pulled with Ryan Tannehill's late pikc-six interception sealing Sunday's 17-7 home loss to lowly Jacksonville. Now, let the speculation about Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase's futures begin!

2. HEAT: Hot Heat finally hitting their stride: Miami has won five in a row and nine of post 12 to surge onto playoff pace (current seventh seed) with Sunday's win in Orlando, as Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside do some heavy lifting. Heat has reached .500 at 16-16 and on Wednesday can top it for the first time since 3-2.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Five days' til CFP Orange Bowl semifinal: It'll be No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl this coming Saturday -- the sexier of the two College Football Playoff semifinals. (Sorry, Clemson-Notre Dame). With the Dolphins and Canes a combined 14-13, it'll be a nice change to see excellence on the Hard Rock field for a change.

4. HURRICANES: Bowl Thursday, but latest Perry scandal dogs team: Miami faces Wisconsin in a Pinstripe Bowl duel of 7-5 teams Thursday at Yankees Stadium with Canes a shaky 3-point favorite. Shaky because QB N'Kosi Perry may not play after reports he's posted a sexually explicit video on social media. That would make it three such errors in judgement for Perry. Isn't there a phrase ... something about three strikes?

5. FIU: ButchCats triumph in Nassau, set record for wins: FIU's 35-32 winover Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl capped a 9-4 season to set a school record for wins. Dolphins and Canes disappointed, but at least one Miami team stood up.

6. RECRUITING: Early signing period not a winner for Canes: College football's early signing period Dec. 19-21 found Miami's incoming class ranked only 34th in nation by ESPN.com. A 7-5 season and sudden departure defensive boss Manny Diaz hurt. Ranked No.1 overall is Alabama. Or, did that go without saying?

7. PANTHERS: Signs of life at last for Cats!: It is now four wins in past five games for Florida and signs of life in a down-so-far season after last night's 6-3 win in Chicago. Cats still six points off playoff NHL pace,but finally climbing.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women continue early excellence: Katie Meier's UM women are ranked No. 24 and 11-2 with five straight wins after impressing in the Florida Sunshine Classic with defeats of Vanderbilt and Alabama. Jim Larranaga's guys are more quietly at 7-4 as they ready for ACC schedule.

9. BASEBALL: Biggest winter deals still on hold: Free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and Marlins on-the-trading-block all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto are still out there and available with no deals struck. Hey, pitchers and catchers report in seven weeks. Tick tock.

10. DAVID SAMSON: Marlins ex-president, fans exchange unpleasantries: At a LeBatard Show "Mas Miami" event in Wynwood last weekend David Samson took the microphone to wish Dan a happy birthday, was roundly booed and responded by saying "F--- you" to  the crowd. Alrighty then!

Missing the HB10 cut: A New Jersey high-school wrestling official with a history of racist behavior forced a black competitor to cut his dreadlocks. What needs to be cut next: That official, from his job ..... Answer: Imprisoned-for-life Larry Nasser says his years of sexual abuse of female gymnasts should have been tried as a medical malpractice case. Question: What's the new and ultimate definition of "delusional"? ..... NFL suspends Josh Gordon. Again. The only good to come of it? Belichick and Brady are sad ..... Update: Countdown now 2,738 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

FiuMOMENTUM FOR FIU NICKNAME CHANGE?: In wake of Saturday's Bahamas Bowl victory giving FIU a 9-4 season and school-record for wins -- and two straight encouraging seasons under Butch Davis -- there is a move to change FIU's nickname from Panthers to ButchCats. Actually there is no such move. There is just me playfully suggesting it. I ran a Twitter poll, there were 734 votes, and ButchCats beat Panthers 2-to-1 -- 67 percent to 33%.

Select other recent columns: Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 18, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.5%; plus Sacked! Miami crushed 41-17 by Vikes, falls to 7-7, sees playoff hope go cold. With our postgame thoughts; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Mas Miami & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 17. Had a fun time at Saturday night's Le Batard Mas Miami event at The Wynwood Yard. Great to meet so many of you! 2) Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 15 picks, you verdict on Diaz leaving Canes, our LeBatard scoop 2.0 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Most recent stuff from me: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era, on abrupt departure of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to be Temple's head coach. And How Miami-Based ESPN Star Dan LeBatard Is Growing His Empire Again.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 6.5%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a sharp fall to 6.5 percent -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 41-17 loss at Minnesota putting Miami's season record at 7-7. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday. (The DSM also takes place on Twitter @gregcote. The vote there was 26%).

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

G13: 83.9% following 34-33 victory vs. New England.

G14: 6.5% following 41-17 loss at Minnesota.

Next poll: Dec. 23 following game vs. Jacksonville. 

G14: DOLPHINS AT MINNESOTA: CAN THE ROAD-WORRIER FINS BECOME ROAD WARRIORS?: Final thoughts: Three games in one. Miami falls behind 21-0 fast with worst first quarter of season. Miami scores 17 unanswered points to get back in it. Then the first-quarter bums return in an ultimate 41-17 loss that levels the Dolphins record at 7-7 and renders playoff hopes remote. Fins must win out for 9-7 and then get lucky with other teams losing and tiebreakers. Miami was equally bad on offense and defense Sunday. The offensive line gave up nine sacks (!) and Ryan Tannehill was lousy beyond that. The defense could not do anything right, especially against the run. Only two big plays -- Minkah Fitzpatrick's 50-yard pick-6 and a 75-yard Kalen Ballage scoring run -- kept it from being an even greater embarrassment. Miami has now lost 111 of its past 12 road games to put playoff hopes on life support ..... Original post: Miami's realistic playoff hopes hang in the balance of the question posed in the headline as the 7-6 MiaminDolphins visit the 6-6-1 Vikings Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS, with the Fins sizable 7 1/2-point road underdogs. There is huge NFL Week 15 playoff impact here for your holiday season, with Minnesota presently hanging on to the sixth and last NFC seed and Miami in a mad scrum for the same final spot in the AFC. That makes it even on desperation, although Vikes’ sense of must-have may be magnified by losses in two straight games and three of past four. The pick here tilts simply and heavily on venue. It did last week in our calling the Dolphins’ home upset of New England, and it does to the other extreme here. Fins are 1-10 in past 11 road games, traveling about as well as a dead body in a trunk, while the Vikings are 10-2 in past dozen at home. I’m not a slave to trends, but not blind to ‘em either. See a big and needed home lift for a team that played Monday night and then kneejerk-fired its offensive coordinator. The change should mean better balance (more running, more Dalvin Cook), which in turn should open things up for Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Cousins infamously is 4-24 in his career vs. teams with a winning record, but this figures to be a lot to handle for a Fins defense likely without injured top CB Xavien Howard again. (He's officially "doubtful," which in NFL injury-speak almost always translates to  "out"). I also see Vikes’ D as better all-round than the Pats’. Having said all that, the betting line feels too big. Oddsmakers consistently have disrespected Miami and its competitiveness all season, and here’s the latest example. My pick: Vikings, 23-17.

Visit Week 15 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 16): 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. HURRICANES: Ouch. UM loses excellent DC Diaz to Temple: Not the holiday gift Mark Richt was looking for, losing defensive coordinator and father of the Turnover Chain Manny Diaz, who bolted to become Temple's head coach but will coach Canes' D a final time Dec. 27 in the Pinstripe Bowl vs. Wisconsin. Richt promoted two from his staff to be co-defensive coordinators. Might take three to replace Diaz.

2. DOLPHINS: Roadkill! Fins get crushed in Minnesota: Last week the "Miami Miracle" beat the Patriots and kept playoff hope alive. Sunday a more standard football miracle was required. That would be a team on a 1-10 skid in road games beating a team on a 10-2 roll at home with Miami as a big 7 1/2-point underdog. Didn't happen in a 41-17 defeat putting playoff hopes on life support.

3. HEAT: Miami wraps up 4-2 road trip: Heat banked a 4-2 road trip with Sunday might's win in New Orleans. One reason Miami is spinning wheels at 13-16 this season? Up and down Heat are yet to put together more than a two-game win streak. They'll got for three in a row in returning to action Thursday vs. Houston.

4. PANTHERS: As Cats continue to disappoint, is coach on thin ice?: Should coach Bob Boughner be worried? Cats beat Toronto in OT last night but still are only 12-19 in a season that has never quite taken off. Now Florida has four straight on road starting Tuesday.

5. FIU: Four days 'til ButchCats go bowling: It's FIU vs. Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau this coming Friday afternoon. Not a big deal? It's on ESPN, FIU has chance for a school-record ninth win, and the conch fritters over there are to die for.

6. BASEBALL: Biggest deals still pending at winter meetings: No definitive news on Bryce Harper yet. Or Manny Machado. Or the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto. How about this: Wake me when one of those three guys is officially changing uniforms.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Women carrying banner thus far for Canes hoops: The 24th-ranked UM women are 9-2 after winning Sunday and now face Vanderbilt and Alabama in a December 20-21 holiday event in Winter Park, Fla. Meanwhile the 5-4 Canes men are back in action Wednesday trying to end a four-game losing streak and find answers before ACC games commence Jan. 3.

8. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Bowl season is underway!: Six games on Saturday kicked off bowl season -- the three-week parade of 39 bowl games. Bulletin: If your team is not Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame or Oklahoma, your bowl game is superfluous.

9. RECRUITING: Early signing period is this week: December 19-21 is the early signing period for top high-school football players choosing colleges. Imagine being National Signing Day in February and having your thunder stolen like that?

10. MAS MIAMI: LeBatard Show fans flock to Wynwood: Thousands of LeBatard Show fans partied at The Wynwood Yard last night in a Mas Miami event to celebrate Dan's 50th birthday, and Greg Cote isn't sure which was the higher number: Selfies taken, or drinks consumed.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,745 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins / The Magic Saved Gase, And Made Fins the Toast of Town / Oklahoma, College Football Win the Day / Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote