October 19, 2019

G7: Georgia Tech 28, Hurricanes 21 (OT): Diaz cries "rebuild" after Miami's awful home loss. With column and CSM postgame poll; plus NFL Week 7 picks & more

1) It's SATURDAY OCTOBER 19. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 7 picks, LeBron forgets who he is in China mess, Dolphins tank-on, NFL Week 6 Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

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

Our most recent columns: LeBron Follows Company Line On China After Career Devoted to Social Justice and No Sacrifice Too Great For Tanking-For-Tua Dolphins. Also: Another Dolphins Loss, But There was Fight And Heart This Time / Hurricanes Finally Get Quality Win -- And The Spark They Needed / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years / and 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat.

Miagt MiagtnkosiG7: GEORGIA TECH 28, HURRICANES 21 (OT): AWFUL HOME LOSS FOR CANES: My game column from stadium: Diaz Playing 'Rebuild' Card As Weak as Canes' Effort in Loss to Ga-Tech. Original post: We'll all be broiling for Saturday's noon start at Hard Rock as Miami (3-3 overall, 1-2 ACC) tries to build momentum off last week's nice home win over ranked Virginia. It better not should not be problem against a down Georgia Tech program that is 1-5 overall, 0-3 in the conference and an 18-point underdog here. This has the makings of a lopsided rout. I'd be surprised if it's still competitive in the second half. Tech is struggling under a new coach and its move to a pro-style offense. Gone are the days of that vaunted Yellow Jackets triple-option attack. Tech still runs the ball well, but run defense is UM's strength, and the Jackets have no passing game to speak of. Offensively the Hurricanes go with QB N'Kosi Perry (pictured) again as Jarren Williams continues to recover from a shoulder ailment -- but Miami figures to do most of its damage on the ground. Tech's run defense is abysmal, allowing 238 yards per game. DeeJay Dallas should be looking at this matchup like a big dog looks at a meaty bone. This game ends a rare five-game homestand for Miami. The schedule toughens from here, with four of the last five regular season games on the road starting next week at Pitt. So Canes seek a big win Saturday as a big sendoff. They should get it. Cote's pick: Hurricanes, 38-10.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: Time again for the latest of the Miami Herald’s Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, this one in the wake of Saturday afternoon's 28-21 overtime home loss to Georgia Tech putting the Hurricanes' season record at 3-4 overall and 1-3 in ACC conference play. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program’s direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the weekly verdict, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be about 7 a.m. Monday.

2019 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

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

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

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

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

G7: Voting now underway following 28-21 OT loss vs. Georgia Tech.

Other state FBS games: FAU lost at home Friday to Marshall, 36-31. Today/Saturday: No. 9 Florida beat South Carolina 38-27; South Florida lost at Navy 35-3; East Carolina at UCF 7, UTEP at FIU 7 and Florida State at Wake Forest 7:30.

Previous select recent columns: Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2019

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 15.7%. Approval plummets with 28-25 loss at North Carolina in ACC opener. Vote now!; plus our NFL Week 1 picks, your verdict on my fantasy team, Le Batard Show fantasy draft & more

1) It's SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins trade Tunsil in blockbuster deal, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 15.7%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 15.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday night's 28-25 loss at North Carolina in Miami's ACC opener, putting UM's season record at 0-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. You may vote here in the blog, elsewhere online, and also at Twitter.com/gregcote (where the approval was 18%). Online/blog voting determine the weekly verdict, which is announced here the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2019 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

Next poll: Sept. 14 following game vs. Bethune-Cookman.

UmuncG2: HURRICANES @ NORTH CAROLINA: PRESSURE ON CANES TO SEAL ROAD WIN IN ACC OPENER: It's one thing to fall narrowly to a top-10 Florida in a a neutral-site opener. It would be quite another to be a road favorite at North Carolina in your ACC opener and lose again. Losing to the Gators stung, but Mdiazlosing this one would make it feel like a season of high hopes had gone completely off the rails two games in. That is why more pressure is on Miami now than there was in the ballyhooed opener. That makes tonight/Saturday at 8 in Chapel Hill as close to a must-win as you could want in early September, especially for coach Manny Diaz and quarterback Jarren Williams. The Canes in general must look sharper, readier, after slopping through 14 penalties for 118 yards against UF and allowing 10 sacks. The betting line opened with Miami favored by 6 points but dove to 3 1/2 before settling back up at 5, the movement indicative of a betting public still unsure what to make of the Canes. UM crushed UNC 47-10 last year in the midst of a 2-9 Tar Heels season. This won't be as easy, with ESPN's Football Power Index putting Miami's win-likelihood at a modest 63.1 percent. I like UM tonight without much reservation. Coming off a bye after the early Aug. 24 opener, The U should ride defensive domination to a comfy if not quite rout-y win. Interesting side note: Mack Brown begins his second coaching stint with the Heels. He's best known as the Texas head coach in 1998-2013, where one of his proteges was defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Diaz worked under Brown three seasons before being abruptly fired in '13. That checks one more box for why Diaz wants this win like a big dog wants that meaty bone. Diaz is pictured left using index fingers to signal the won-lost record Miami absolutely must have coming out of this game. Cote's pick: Hurricanes 27, North Carolina 16.

Picks RavenIT'S UPSET BIRD WEEK IN AMERICA! OUR NFL WEEK 1 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season, we begin our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald by today revealing our 2019 Week 1 selections for Dolphins-Ravens, Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and all the rest. Could Miami actually be among my three big upset picks? To find out please visit Week 1 Gems. Our picks appear Thursday afternoons every week, and Fridays in print. (Our Thursday Night Football pick appears Wednesdays online and Thursdays in print. Visit Week 1 Thursday Gem for last night's Packers-Bears pick, a misfire by us, alas). We are inexplicably coming off our best season ever, with a .705 winning percentage overall last year and .582 against the point spread. Pictured: Our "How the Darts Landed" picks logo, and a charcoal rendering of the Upset Bird, the mysterious, never-photographed Corvus corax who serves as our prognosticatory sidekick and seer on all upset picks. 

Our most recent columns: Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field.

FANTASY VOTES ARE IN AND YOU LOVED MY TEAM MOST! (NO, SERIOUSLY): Had our PFPI Fantasy friends 'n family league draft earlier this week, a 10-team PPR league that had a snake draft. The exact order was shown in a blind poll, and we invited you to vote which team you would most like to have based on each team's first five picks. Almost 800 votes had been cast when we closed it off this morning. Your results, with each team's first pick shown:

FfTeam 1: Saquon Barkley -- 25.91%. That's my team! Thanks for the support. Hope y'all are right!

Team 7: DeAndre Hopkins -- 16.84%. That's Michael, my youngest son.

Team 3: Alvin Kamara -- 13.73%. That's Brandon, a friend.

Team 4: Ezekiel Elliott -- 9.46%. That's Alex, a friend. (This vote total spiked after Zeke finally signed).

Team 2: Christian McCaffrey -- 8.94%. That's Joe, a nephew.

Team 9: David Johnson -- 6.61%. That's Earleen, my wife. Tied with below.

Team 10: Patrick Mahomes -- 6.61%. That's Dick, my brother. Tied with above.

Team 5: Tyreek Hill -- 5.05%. That's Christopher, my oldest son, from the Le Batard Show. Ouch.

Team 8: Travis Kelce -- 4.66%. That's Christie, my daughter-in-law, Chris' wife.

Team 6: Le'Veon Bell -- 2.20%. That's Cori, Christie's sister. Sorry, Cori. Exceed expectations!

GlobosLe Batard Show draft: We had our Le Batard Show "League of Lobos" draft last evening and it was a clusterf---, to be honest. There are too many teams (18), too many fraud-teams were auto-drafting, and inexplicably the draft order changed minutes before the draft, with me dropping from the 11th pick to the 16th. I got Patrick Mahomes 16th and Mike Evans after that, but this season could be a struggle. We'll have weekly updates on-air and in this space, so stay tuned. #WeAreTheLobos

Select other recent columns: Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins / Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QB / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 04, 2019

Fantasy family! Poll! Which of these teams would you most like to have in PPR league based on 1st 5 picks. Last day to vote!; plus NFL picks return this week & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins trade Tunsil in blockbuster deal, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Picks"Aaawwwk!" NFL picks return this week!: Our 29th season of NFL predictions returns this week. A Miami Herald fixture since 1991, our picks appear in print every Friday and online Thursday afternoons. Our Thursday night pick appears that day in print and online today/Wednesday. We are inexplicably coming off our best season ever, with a .705 winning percentage overall last year and .582 against the betting line. Can we slay the evil point spread again this season? Come along for the ride and find out starting this week!

The Tunsil trade column: Losing Laremy Tunsil really hurts, but getting two first-round pick and second was too much to turn down. Please visit Trading Tunsil Hurts,But Dolphins Won This Deal.

Our Dolphins and Hurricanes preview-section columns: For our 2019 NFL Team Rankings: Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land. And mining UM history for perspective on a bold decision: Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years.

FantasyBLIND POLL: RATE MY FANTASY TEAM BASED ON FIRST 5 PICKS: On Sunday we held our PFPI Fantasy (friends and family league) draft, a 10-team PPR league that had a snake draft. The exact order is shown below; i.e., Saquon Barkley was the No. 1 overall pick. Vote which team you would most like to have based on each team's first five picks. After a couple of days of voting I'll tell you you how you ranked my team among the 10 and give you the results in order. Ready? Vote now!

Previous most recent other columns: Clowney Would Be Missing Piece in Dolphins' Emerging Plan / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins / Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QBDolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / and Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field.

Select other recent columns: How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 26, 2019

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: G1: 64.1% following 24-20 loss to Florida (with column); latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), plus why Rosen should start at QB for Dolphins, Fitzpatrick vs. Rosen poll result & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, AUGUST 25. It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, case for Rosen as Dolphins' starting QB & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our column on last night's Canes loss to Gators: Please visit Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 64.1%: Results are certified for the opening game of the 11th 1aa1csmseason of the Miami Herald's Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 64.1 percent overall approval (the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Saturday night's season-opening 24-20 loss to No. 8 Florida in Orlando. That's a fairly high number following a loss. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. You may vote here in the blog, elsewhere online here, and also at Twitter.com/gregcote (where the approval was 44%). Online voting will determine the weekly verdict, which will be announced here the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. Monday.

2019 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

Next poll: Sept. 7 following game at North Carolina.

MiaflaG1: HURRICANES VS. NO. 8 FLORIDA (IN ORLANDO): DIAZ / WILLIAMS ERA OPENS AS BIG 'DOGS: What a stage for Canes rookie head coach Manny Diaz and first-time starting quarterback Jarren Williams to introduce themselves nationally to college football! Miami and old rival Florida own the nation's attention as the sport's 150th season opens with this game, alone, tonight at 7 on ESPN at the old Citrus Bowl. The erstwhile yearly state rivals haven't met since 2013, and the reunion finds the No. 8-ranked Gators big 7-point favorites coming off a 10-3 season capped by a 41-15 bowl thrashing of Michigan. Miami by contrast limped to the finish at 7-6 after a 35-3 bowl loss to Wisconsin, yet expectations are high enough that UM debuts just outside the Top 25 (29th) in the preseason Associated Press poll. This game for me distills to which offense will be better able to find an answer because this matchup figures to be dominated by two strong defenses. Miami's led by linebacker Shaq Quarterman and UF's led by cornerback C.J. Henderson will be very tough to move and score on. The quarterback position alone gives Florida an edge, with Feleipe Franks' experience in contrast to Williams, whose only prior college action was three pass attempts in garbage time vs. Savannah State last year. Diaz surprised most by anointing Williams for the job over returning incumbent N'Kosi Perry and highly touted Ohio State transfer Tate Martell. Tonight we begin to see if Diaz made the right call. Cote's pick: Florida 20, Hurricanes 16.

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Miami falls to Gators in season opener: Miami led three times Saturday night in Orlando but fell 24-20 to No. 8-ranked Florida to kick off college football's 150th season and the Manny Diaz era at The U. What if I'd have told you before the game that the Canes would get a really good performance from new QB Jarren Williams and four takeaways from the defense? That's a win, right? Both happened. No win. But a "right direction" feeling moving forward, am I right?

2. NFL: Stunner! Colts QB Luck retires from NFL: Indianapolis and the NFL reel with the news Saturday night that star quarterback Andrew Luck had abruptly and immediately retired from football three weeks shy of his 30th birthday, citing constant shoulder and other injuries. Jacoby Brissett is now the Indy starter. That sound you hear is the Colts falling from top-tier AFC contender to conference also-ran. 

3. DOLPHINS: Three fake games in, Fins' QB battle still undecided: Fins now 2-1 this preseason after beating Jacksonville here Thursday, but nobody cares. Fake games. What does matter is the decision at quarterback, but coach Brian Flores keeps not making it. He's still weighing Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Josh Rosen entering this Thursday's fake finale in New Orleans. Dear Brian: You're trying to find this team's future, remember? Rosen, please!

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Can anyone bust up the Clemson-'Bama stranglehold?: Canes and one other game snuck in early, but for everyone else the start of college football's 150th season is on deck this week. Highlights: Thursday, No. 1 Clemson whips whomever it's playing and Butch Davis' FIU visits Tulane. Saturday, No. 2 Alabama crushes somebody, Florida State hosts Boise State, and Lane Kiffin leads FAU to slaughter at No. 5 Ohio State.

5. BASKETBALL: U.S. shaky with men's FIBA World Cup on deck: The major 32-nation international hoops event begins this coming Saturday and runs though Sept. 15 in China, with Team USA on shaky ground after a tuneup loss to Australia -- the first time in 13 years an American team with NBA players has lost. Team USA is the favorite but no cinch for gold. Most top NBA stars said nah -- Kemba Walker is the biggest-name U.S. player -- so let's see what Gregg Popovich can do with this B-team roster.

6. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic favored as U.S. Open begins: Year's fourth and final Grand Slam event begins today/Monday and runs through Sept. 9 in New York, with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic the betting favorites -- although Serena is only the No. 8 seed. Williams tries again for what would be a record-tying 24th career major, but to do it she must first survive a tough first-round draw in unseeded Maria Sharapova in what, oddly, will be these old rivals' first-ever U.S. Open  meeting.

7. MARLINS: Fish playing out the string as homestand continues: Fish are an NL-worst 47-82 after 0-6 road swing and now 2-1 into a seven-game homestand vs. Phillies and now Reds. The 100-Loss Watch now projects to 59-103. The question: When will the Marlins' bright future get here ... and will Don Mattingly still be around to manage it?

8. GOLF: Mclroy wins season ending Tour Championship: Lightning injured six fans (none seriously) and delayed the Tour Championship in Atlanta, the PGA Tour's season-ending event open only to the year's top 30 money winners. But eventually Rory McIlroy avoided rivals and lightning sufficient to win.

9. YOUTH BASEBALL: U.S. reigns in Little League World Series: Curacao upset powerhouse Japan on Saturday for the international crown and River Ridge, La. beat Wailuku, Hawaii for the U.S. title in the Little League Word Series. Sunday, the U.S. team bopped Curacao 8-0 for the grand title. Now all of those 12-year-old boys can go from being on national TV to being nervous about meeting girls again.

10. SPRING FOOTBALL: XFL reveals team names, logos: Vince McMahon's new eight-team XFL, set to begin play in February 2020, revealed its team names and logos (including the Tampa Bay Vipers). If the history of previous pro spring league attempts is any indication, we can expect the "XFL is folding" announcement any time around midseason 2021.

Missing the HB10 cut: Show of hands. Who drafted Andrew Luck on their fantasy team Saturday? ..... U.S. Patent Office denied Tom Brady's trademark request for "Tom Terrific". About damned time Brady lost at something ..... Orioles set all-time record with a 259th home run allowed. Does the pitching coach walk to the mound in a false nose and glasses? ..... Dolphins coach Brian Flores played eight straight Jay-Z songs at practice a day after receiver Kenny Stills criticized Jay-Z's alliance with the NFL. To "challenge" Stills, said Flores. Weird ..... Dwight Howard to the Lakers. Hahahahaha! ..... Larry Bird complained after an artist painted a mural that depicted him with tattoos. A little too much free time there, Lar? ..... Been a minute Conor McGregor did anything embarrassing. Somebody check, make sure he's OK ..... Update: Countdown now 2,492 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

RosenZERO DOUBT NOW. ROSEN MUST START FOR DOLPHINS! LATEST COLUMN: Me, from the stadium, off last night's Dolphins win over Jacksonville in Fake Game 3: The Miami Dolphins seem prepared to take a big loss even before the NFL regular season begins. Is this a thing that might actually happen? This is the feeling, and we hope we are wrong. Because it would be much easier to say "oops" on what we think and fear might happen than to try to explain why on earth a team in the midst of a rebuild might start bearded fossil Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback at the direct expense of fully finding out what it has in young Josh Rosen. Fins coach Brian Flores acknowledged his Fitzpatrick-leaning after Thursday night’s 22-7 home exhibition win over Jacksonville, saying of Rosen’s performance: "He played well. That makes the decision harder." OK, stop right there. The decision should not be hard. The answer is Rosen (pictured), and it didn't take his leading that 99-yard scoring drive to know that. To read my full column, kindly visit Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins.

Previous most recent other columns: Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QBDolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / and Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field.

POLL RESULT: ROSEN CLOBBERS FITZPATRICK IN HERALD TWITTER POLL: We posted a Fitzpatrick-or-Rosen poll on our Twitter feed, it drew 2,380 votes in one day and Rosen beat Fitzpatrick in a landslide with 76 percent of the vote at Twitter.com/gregcote.

Select other recent columns: Don't Overthink It, Dolphins. Start Rosen / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 01, 2019

For Marlins, an encouraging 2 weeks. New column; plus Drama Kings: How NBA won America. With 2 Finals polls; also, the complicated legacy of Bill Buckner, Miami sports' Top 15 athletes 25-and-younger, latest Back In My Day (Food Trucks!) & more

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 1. Happy new month, all! Farewell, May. See you next year. 2) Find the new Back In My Day video (Food Trucks!) just below here. 3) It's always football season, so it's always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Miami sports sucks yeah but has company, Memorial Day tribute video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

MarlinsTHESE ARE THE MARLINS. AN ENCOURAGING HALF-MONTH IS A START: Though Miami lost 3-1 to the Giants Thursday at Marlins Park (I was there) and 5-2 in San Diego Friday to open a road trip, the Fish were a neat 9-5 the past two weeks to end May, a notable upturn after ending the first quarter of the season a dreadful, record-threatening 10-31. Around here, right now, in the midst of a franchise reboot, you take an encouraging half month. You take any reason to try on optimism and hope it fits. For my column, from the ballyard, kindly visit For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress. P.s., as a kid who grew up a Carl Yastrzemski fan, it was nice to personally witness grandson Mike Yastrzemski, the Giants rookie, collect his first major-league RBI yesterday. Yaz 2.0 is 28 and played parts of seven minor-0league seasons. Kid didn't coast on his name; he paid those proverbial dues.

Gstor2HOW BASKETBALL BECAME AMERICA'S MOST INTERESTING SPORT: The mess enveloping LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers. The Warriors vs. Raptors/Steph Curry vs. Kawhi Leonard NBA Finals and when Kevin Durant will return. The Zion Williamson draft. Free agency and where Durant, Leonard, Anthony Davis (by trade) and other stars will end up. For all its drama, the NBA has become the most interesting league and sport in America. Or so I make the case in my latest column. To read it, please visit Drama Kings: How NBA Became America's Most Interesting Sport. An added element of interest in these Finals that start tonight is a Canadian team playing for the title for the first time. Ordinarily, much of America outside of Oakland might be predisposed to root for the underdog and against the dynasty. But in this case that means rooting for Canada over the American team. Does it matter? Maybe it's only during the Olympics and World Cup that we think about such things. In any case we present our NBA Finals "Head vs. Heart" polls -- the will and want polls. The first is which team you predict will win -- who you'd bet your money on. The second is who you want to win -- who you''ll be rooting for. Vote now in both!

BbucknerTHE COMPLICATED LEGACY OF BILL BUCKNER: It is wrong, in remembering Bill Buckner, to not appreciate a well above average 22-year MLB career. He was an all-star. Won a batting title. Had a .289 career average. But it also is wrong that a story about that man and career upon his death might not emphasize the one thing for which he is most (unfortunately) remembered -- that infamous 1986 World Series error. I dive into Buckner's complicated legacy in my recent column, from the perspective of a lifelong Red Sox fan who once despised him but outgrew that misplaced passion. To read, please Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness.

FutureTHE FUTURE: MIAMI SPORTS' TOP 15 ATHLETES 25 AND YOUNGER: What’s next? Who’s next? What is the path forward from losing for the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers — and who will find it? We last did one of these best-25-and-younger lists in 2013 and I’m surprised to say only one player from that top 10 remains in town. Hopefully our Big Four teams will do a better job hanging onto our expanded list of young talent. In forming the ranking we combined current quality with potential, how essential the player is in his team’s plans, and how good we imagine they’ll be in, say, three years. To read our recent column and see the Top 15 U-25 list, please visit Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.

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

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': FOOD TRUCKS!: Food truck owners, don't take this personally...

THREE POWERHOUSE WOMEN VOCALISTS = ONE GREAT SONG: Sheryl Crow. Bonnie Raitt. Mavis Staples. Three of my favorites, together on one song. What could go wrong? Nothing. For me, this song chugs like a locomotive in no hurry. Love the lyrics, the mix of vocals, everything. Hope you might, too. This is a vocals-only vid, but no worry. Close your eyes and let these voices and Bonnie's sublime slide guitar carry you away.

Select other recent columns: Welcome to the New America, Lexi Thompson / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Everything Aligning for Dolphins to Land Tagovailoa in '20 / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About So Much More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And A 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 27, 2019

Dolphins trade for QB Rosen in 2nd round! Huge. My new column; plus Fins land Clemson DT Wilkins in 1st. Like pick? Poll. Last day to vote!; also, my thoughts on Wilkins, our Mock Draft & more

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

It's SATURDAY, APRIL 27. 2) R.I.P., John Havlicek, "Hondo," gone at 79. Celtics star of my youth, pre-Heat, when Boston was my team. 2) Football is never done, so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins pre-draft poll, draft trivia, The List (players drafted 13th) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Dolphins trade for QB Rosen! Huge!: The Dolphins should have had one clear, unequivocal priority to make Day 2 of the NFL Draft as successful as Day 1 was. It was drafting Drew Lock or trading for Josh Rosen. And they did it. They got Rosen. To read my newest column, please visit Dolphins Big Winners With Draft-Day Trade For QB Rosen.

CwilkinsNFL DRAFT DAY 1: DOLPHINS GET CLEMSON DT CHRISTIAN WILKINS NO. 1. LIKE THE PICK? NEW POLL. VOTE NOW!: I love the pick, for reasons I explain in my column on it. Visit Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins to read. Wilkins is pictured. Now it's your turn. Do you like the pick? Here's a poll. Vote.

From me to you on NFL Draft Day 1:

(*) 28th annual Mock Draft: The guy the Dolphins got, I had going earlier, ninth overall. The guy I had Miami picking was selected one spot sooner, at 12th. Overall I had 24 of 32 first-round picks correct; that's below my average by a few. Having only three Exactos -- right payer to right team -- was a bigger disappointment. I'd had 12 over the two previous two drafts. The full Mock: GREG COTE'S 2019 OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD NFL MOCK DRAFT.

(*) Live commentary throughout first round, with Mock Draft results: This appeared online starting around 7:30 p.m. last night -- a continually updated commentary on every pick and how it might affect Dolphins, with running tab on how I was faring in my Mock compared to how ESPN draftniks Mel Kiper and Todd McShay were doing. Visit NFL Draft First-Round Live Blog.

(*) Poll on Dolphins pick: This appeared right here in the blog soon after Miami's selection last night. You may still vote directly above, and also on Twitter @gregcote.

(*) Column on Fins' pick: I had an opinion column on Miami's top selection out fast online last night. Visit Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins.

THE LIST: DOLPHIN PICKS IN 13 RANGE: Miami drafted 13th overall Thursday night. The Dolphins in their history have drafted 10 players in the 13 range, meaning plus or minus two, or spots 11 through 15. We rank those 10 picks top to bottom:

1. DE Bill Stanfill 11th in 1969 (Georgia)

2. LB A.J. Duhe 13th in 1977 (LSU)

3. OT Laremy Tunsil 13th in 2016 (Mississippi)

4. C Mike Pouncey 15th in 2011 (Florida)

5. DE Marco Coleman 12th in 1992 (Georgia Tech)

6. S Minkah Fitzpatrick 11th in 2018 (Alabama)

7. RB David Overstreet 13th in 1981 (Oklahoma)

8. WR DeVante Parker 14th in 2015 (Louisville)

9. LB Jackie Shipp 14th in 1984 (Oklahoma)

10. WR Yatil Green 15th in 1997 (Miami)

Notes: Tunsil and Fitzpatrick show promise of moving up chart. Overstreet was killed in car wreck following rookie season but showed indications of being a very good, if ill-fated, pick.

POLL RESULT: YOU WANTED TOP-RANKED GUY OR EDGE RUSHER FOR DOLPHINS: We asked, "What position should the Dolphins target with the 13th pick in the NFL Draft?" Your verdict: Top-ranked on board regardless of position 31.25 percent; Edge pass rusher 26.56%; Quarterback 21.88%; Offensive lineman 17.19%; and Something else 3.12%.

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 24, 2019

Dolphins Pre-Draft Poll: What position should Miami target with top pick? Vote now!; plus Fins and league history with 13th pick & more

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

It's WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24. Note: Our 28th annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft will be online beginning noon today/Wednesday! 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Luck and Tragedy when Dolphins draft 13th & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Luck & tragedy when the Dolphins draft 13th: Miami was lucky to draft tackle Laremey Tunsil and lucky to draft linebacker/end A.J. Duhe. But running back David Overstreet in between ended in tragedy. Across a 40-year span, all those three had in common was being selected 13th overall in the NFL Draft. With Dolphins set to pick 13th again this week, we look back at the three very disparate circumstances of the franchise's experience selecting there. To read, visit Dolphins at 13: Twice Lucky, One Horrific Tragedy.

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

CgrierDOLPHINS DRAFT POLL: WHAT POSITION SHOULD BE TARGET AT 13?: This poll assumes Miami keeps the 13th overall pick in Thursday's night's first round and does not trade up or down. This also assumes that, at 13, there are quality, highly rated candidates available at positions of need. In other words, all things being equal, what position would you most like to see the Dolphins target for their No.1 draft pick? The three listed in the poll are alphabetical. Then there is a "something else" category as well as a category to appease the BAA crowd (Best Available Athlete). Chief decider Chris Grier, who'll run the Fins draft, is pictured. Be Grier for a day. Don't vote for what you predict will happen. Vote for what you think the team should do or what you'd like it to do; your call. Go!

ODD DRAFT TRIVIA: Is superstition in play? Only one quarterback in history has ever been selected No. 13 in the NFL Draft. That was Chris Miller out of Oregon, by the Falcons, in 1987. He had an unremarkable career, making one Pro Bowl in 10 seasons and retiring with 123 touchdown passes, 102 interceptions, a 74.9 passer rating and a 34-58 won-lost record in games started. 

THE LIST: MOST GAMES BY PLAYER DRAFTED 13TH: Top 10 most NFL career regular-season games by a player drafted 13th overall:

Games   Player, Position, Year Drafted 

270        Tony Gonzalez, TE, 1997

251        Mike Kern, OT, 1978

219        Takeo Spikes, LB, 1998

196        Bob Lilly, DT, 1961

194        Bruce Hopkins, OT, 1993

193        Walt Harris, DB, 1996

192        John Abraham, DE, 2000

179        Eric Metcalf, RB, 1989 

176        Fred Dryer, DE, 1969

173        Franco Harris, RB, 1972

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 08, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Wade's farewell is king. See what follows; plus predict Dolphins' starting QB in 2020. Poll. Vote now! With column; also, Heat Playoff Watch (updated), Panthers change coaches, over/under on NFL wins (ouch) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 8. Visit Breakfast! for the new Back In My Day that debuted last week on Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): ESPN's latest Dolphins-draft guesses, playoff-chase drama adds to Wade's farewell, glory of an unexpected Final Four with polls, response to slam on Marlins fans, latest NBA/NHL odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Dolphins' next quarterback: I consider all of the players and all of the options through the next two drafts and handicap who'll be the Fins' starting QB in 2020 and beyond. To read, please visit Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB to read. There's a poll below awaiting your vote.

Heat Playoff Watch (updated entering Monday): Heat (9th place/38-42) after losing Sunday at Toronto; chasing Pistons (8th/39-41) after losing Sunday at Charlotte. Nets and Magic both won Sunday to clinch playoffs spots. Heat, Pistons and Hornets (also 38-42) are alive for final East playoff ticket. Remaining Heat games: Tuesday vs. Philadelphia and Wednesday at Brooklyn. Today: No games scheduled. Outlook: Heat, after an ill-timed fourth straight loss, are in trouble. Miami must win both of its final two games and get help, because both Detroit and Charlotte own the tiebreaker over Miami.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (APRIL 7): 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. HEAT: The end is near for Dwyane Wade's farewell: What started in June of 2003 is coming to an end a sweet 16 years later. Dwyane Wade's final regular-season home game of his final year in the NBA will be Tuesday in a downtown arena packed with emotion and gratitude. There could be a curtain call of at least two additional home games -- but only if Miami makes the playoffs, which now seems unlikely after Sunday's loss at Toronto. Miami is home vs. Philly Tuesday, then at Brooklyn Wednesday, needing to win both and get help.

2. MARCH MADNESS (MEN): It's Virginia vs. Texas Tech for NCAA title: After Virginia edged Auburn by one point (on a lucky late call) and Texas Tech handled Michigan State more comfortably in Saturday's Final Four, the two winners will meet Monday night in Minneapolis for the national championship. No.1-seed Cavaliers and No. 3 Red Raiders both are playing for the first national title, with Virginia a narrow 1 1/2-point favorite. 

3. PANTHERS: Cats end disappointing season, change coaches: Panthers will watch Stanley Cup playoffs on TV after finishing 36-46 with Saturday's appropriately fitting 4-3 overtime home loss to New jersey. Cats started season 0-4 and 2-8, and 7- and 6-game losing streaks along the way and just never really made a run. Wasted talent. Again. Sunday, team announced coach Bob Boughner was out after two seasons and Monday announced the hiring of 3-time Stanley Cup champion coach Joel Quenneville. Justified move. Solid hire.

4. MARLINS: Alfaro sparks Fish on first road trip: After Saturday's 4-2 win in Atlanta behind Jorge Alfaro's two homers ended a 4-game losing skid, Miami fell to 3-7 with Sunday's loss. Fish remain last in NL East in midst of young season's first road trip.

5. DOLPHINS: Countdown to NFL Draft: 17 days: Draft on April 25-27 finds Dolphins with so many needs it's anybody's guess what position will be targeted 13th overall. Why so many needs? Hint: New betting odds put Miami's over/under at 5 wins, lowest in league. Before the draft, team will hold a  "voluntary" mini-camp April 16-18. That's "voluntary" in quotes because if a player doesn't show up they look at him funny and call him names.

6. GOLF: It's Masters Week. Let us pray: The Masters is this Thursday through Sunday at Augusta, maybe the holiest-feeling annual event in sports. You can't even talk about it without hearing soft violins and tinkling pianos. Rory McIlroy is the betting fave at 7-1, then it's Dustin Johnson 10-1. At 12-1 are Justin Rose, Justin Thomas and some guy named Tiger Woods.

7. MARCH MADNESS (WOMEN): Baylor wins women's crown: After Baylor beat Oregon and Notre Dame bested UConn in Final Four semis Friday night, the two winners met Sunday in Tampa, with Baylor beating the Irish 82-81 for the national title.

8. HURRICANES: UM holds first spring scrimmage (supposedly): Coach Manny Diaz's Canes have six spring football practice days left, through April 20, after holding the first of three scrimmage games on Saturday. Well, we think so. The alleged super-secret stealth scrimmage was closed to fans and media, so do we reeeaaallly know it happened?

9. WWE: Pow! Boom! WrestleMania 35 takes place!: WrestleMania 35, Sunday in New Jersey and on pay-per view, made history with a first-ever women's main match: Becky Lynch taking the belt over Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair. The card also featured Brock Lesnar, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio and a long parade of other people in tights whom Greg Cote has never heard of. 

10. FOOTBALL: R.I.P. to the (incredibly short-lived) A.A.F.: The latest spring football tombstone shall read: Here lies the Alliance of American Football, 2019 to 2019. The league flopped like a dying fish on a pier after only eight weeks. Back to the golf course, Steve Spurrier!

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes baseball failed to complete a home sweep over Florida State today after shutout wins Friday and Saturday. UM is now 20-12; 'Noles are 19-12 after a 12-0 start ..... Duke's Zion Williamson is AP's college basketball player of the year. He also won in the more obscure category, Best Shoe Explosion ..... Bengals RB Mark Walton, the ex-Cane, was arrested for the third time this year. The year just entered its fourth month ..... Answer: Paul Westphal, Al Attles and Jack Sikman are among the latest inductees. Question: "What makes you say they Basketball Hall of Fame lets in too many people?" ..... Texas won men's NIT. Has anybody ever actually worn an "NIT Champions" T-shirt? Do they even make them? ..... Tennis' Miami Open set attendance records its first year at Hard Rock Stadium. Which is good. But, sorry, a stadium parking lot, even all dressed up, still cannot match the ambiance they had to leave behind on Key Biscayne ..... Stoking a future rivalry MLS with Inter Miami, Orlando FC put out a video making fun of the weeds at ramshackle Lockhart Stadium. Love it. Spot on ..... Update: Countdown now 2,631 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

JherbertCRYSTAL (FOOT)BALL: HANDICAPPING DOLPHINS' LIKELIEST STARTING QB IN 2020: Looking at all of the players, all of the possibilities and what's most realistically likely to happen, we handicap who'll be the Dolphins' starting quarterback in 2020 and beyond, after one season of stopgap bridge Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing the departed Ryan Tannehill. And the answer may surprise you. That is our newest column. Please visit Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB to read. I describe and rank the 10 possibilities, with percentage likelihoods of that player being the guy. Only the top three QBs score in double-digits percents. One of those top three, Oregon star Justin Herbert, is pictured. Here, in this poll, I list the seven most likely candidates alphabetically. Please vote for the QB you realistically think will be next -- the one you'd bet on! -- not who you hope. Vote now!

Our other most recent columns: Playoff Chase Drama Enriches Wade's Swansong and An Intriguing Final Four Despite What's Missing. Also: Maximum Security, Maximum Results (from the Florida Derby) and The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think.

BETTING OVER/UNDER WIN TOTALS FOR NFL (OUCH!): Via BetOnline.ag, your Miami Dolphins are dead-last in the NFL with a betting over/under of 5 wins. Also among early leaders in the Tua Tagovailoa Derby are the Cardinals at 5 1/2 wins and Redskins, Giants and Bengals all at 6. On the high end are the Patriots (of course!) at 11 wins and the Chiefs, Rams and Saints all 10 1/2. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Jets are at 7 wins and Bills at 6 1/2.

POLL RESULTS: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN NCAA TITLE, WHO YOU THINK WILL WIN: We asked, "Which Final Four team do you bet WILL win the NCAA Tournament men's championship?" You answered 42.53 percent Michigan State, 36.78% Virginia, 16.09% Texas Tech and 4.60% Auburn. We also asked, "Which Final Four team do you (or your bracket) WANT to win the NCAA Tournament men's championship?" There it was 38.23% Virginia, 26.47% Texas Tech, 20.59% Michigan State and 14.71% Auburn. 

Final Four preferences by state: Based on geotagged Twitter data, Michigan State enjoys the most support in 27 U.S. states, Texas Tech in 10, Auburn in eight (including Florida) and Virginia in five.

My bracket's title-game needs: My bracket in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com and remains buoyant with Virginia my pick to win it all. Including Final Four results I leaped from 82nd place to 34th place among 215 players in the show pool. Ten of the teams ahead of me also have Virginia, so if the Cavaliers cut the net I'll have a chance for a great finish. Go Wahoos!

Other select recent columns: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins / Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 05, 2019

The 3 bonus delights of Wade's Heat swansong. Latest column; plus Kiper/McShay's 1st-round guess for Fins, NCAA Final Four polls, latest Back In My Day (Breakfast!), reader rebuts slam on Marlins fans, NBA/NHL title odds & more

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

Bimd1) It's FRIDAY, APRIL 5. Visit Breakfast! for the new Back In My Day that debuted on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Florida Derby, the 3 bonus delights of Wade's farewell season, our updated NCAA bracket, your Marlins-expectations verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

THE THREE BONUS DELIGHTS OF WADE'S 'ONE LAST DANCE': Even in last night's hurtful home loss to Boston that (at least temporarily) dropped the Miami Heat off playoff pace with four games left, it was easy to appreciate the three bonus delights of Dwyane Wade's farewell season. For my latest column from the arena last night, please visit Playoff Chase Drama Enriches Wade's Swansong.

Eoliver RgaryESPN: D-LINE THE DOLPHINS' FIRST-ROUND TARGET: The latest guess by ESPN's rival mock drafters, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, is that the Miami Dolphins will go defensive line with the 13th overall pick later this month. Kiper has Miami selecting Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary, saying, "You have to think the Dolphins, who are undergoing a serious rebuild, would be thrilled to get a high-ceiling pass-rusher like Gary here." McShay has the Fins taking Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, saying, "In this scenario, the top quarterbacks are gone. Don't overthink it; take the best available player. That's Oliver." (Gary and Oliver are pictured). QBs Kyler Murray of Oklahoma and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State definitely will be gone before Miami picks. There is a chance Missouri's Drew Lock could be available to the Dolphins, but Kiper and McShay have him going 11th and 10th, respectively. Kiper has Duke QB Daniel Jones going 15th overall. McShay has Miami selecting  North Carolina State passer Ryan Finely in the second round. 

Dolphins are NFL early birds: The Dolphins were one of only three NFL teams (Browns, Bucs) to start their official offseason program on Monday, April 1. Most teams (23) are starting on April 15. Dolphins follow with a voluntary mini-camp April 16-18. The NFL Draft is April 25-27. The nine OTA practice/work days are May 13-14, 16, 20-21, 23, 28-29 and 31. Mandatory mini-camp is Jun 4-6. Then it's a bit of time off until the start of full training camp. Football, baby!

FourTHE GLORY OF AN UNEXPECTED FINAL FOUR!: No blue blood programs. No Cinderellas. No Zion Williamson. No problem. Why this NCAA Tournament men's Final Four is a really good and refreshingly interesting one is the gist of my newest offering. Visit An Intriguing Final Four Despite What's Missing to read our latest column. Virginia vs. Auburn and Michigan State vs. Texas Tech this Saturday in Minneapolis gives us three programs trying to win a first national championship -- two in their first Final Four and one last this far in 1984. Then there's Michigan State, after its first national title since 2000. I both want and think Virginia will win it all, with no rooting interest other than the health of my barely breathing bracket, as I have the Cavaliers as champs and nobody else still alive. Curious what y'all think so we offer "will" and "want" polls below, with teams listed alphabetically. Who you think WILL win seeks your honest prediction, who you'd bet money one. Who you WANT to win is strictly your (or your bracket's) rooting interest. Take a dip in both polls. Vote now!

A REBUTTAL TO KISZLA ON ROCKIES VS. MARLINS: Denver Post sports columnist Mark Kiszla during the recent Marlins-Rockies series wrote one of those my- Denverpostcity's-better-than-your-city columns by saying that, of the two teams that both entered MLB in 1993, the Rockies have been much more successful even though the Marlins are ahead 2-0 in World Series titles, because they have bigger crowds. I'll give him the fan factor, although championships are sort of you, know, how success is measured! The Rockies have won nothing despite the stats-ballooning advantage of high altitude, by the way. (Kiszla also mocks the Marlins Park neighborhood with a couple of gratuitous Hispanic-stereotype swipes). I got an interesting email from a Marlins fan living in Colorado, who passed along a letter he'd written to the Denver Post. Here it is with his permission, only very slightly condensed:

Kiz,
I’d like to say, 'I hate to tell you' but it actually gives me great satisfaction to say, 'Marlins 2, Rockies 0!' It is telling that you have to take cheap shots at an entire fan base to make you feel good about yourself.  Last I checked, Marlins were 110-97 against the Rockies. That means the Marlins have won more games against the Rox, just to clarify. This town, Denver, places a huge emphasis on winning. (I’ve been to more than one Broncos game vs. Miami where I felt my family’s safety was compromised by drunken Bronco fans because we were winning).  Seems like the Marlins have a winning record against the Rox, a fact you overlooked in your assassination piece on Marlin fans. May I also point out that the Marlins are batting a thousand in the World Series?  I seem to recall the Rox are batting zero in the World Series. As a Marlins fan living in Colorado for the last 20 years, I have to say I am disappointed, albeit not surprised, in your feeble attempts at self-aggrandizement. You should be ashamed for stopping to such low levels as to attack an entire fan base, when what matters in Colorado is wins and losses. On that point, the Marlins clearly are the winners.
 
Warm Regards,
Andy Anderson 
Conifer, Colorado

StephNEWEST NBA, NHL TITLE ODDS: Via BetOnline.ag, Golden State is now a prohibitive 1-2 favorite for NBA title, with Milwaukee a distant second at 8-1. Then  it's Houston 10-1 and Philadelphia/Toronto both 12-1. Miami Heat are tie-13th at 250-1 but not favored (at -250) to make the playoffs, though now holding the 8th seed. MVP race shows The Greek Freak (1-2) and James Harden (3-2) the only two left on the board. Over in hockey, Tampa Bay is NHL favorite for the Stanley Cup at 11-4, followed by Calgary at 8-1 and a bunch at 10-1.

Our other most recent columns: A horse once for sale for $16,000 in a claiming race wins the Florida Derby. Read Maximum Security, Maximum Results, because you needn't be a fan of horse racing to appreciate what happened at Gulfstream Park. Also, from Marlins Opening Day: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins. And previewing the season: The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think.

Other select recent columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote